reverse threading

the path back is the path forward


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i am an artist. [two artists tuesday]

i read it on a thread. someone commented to an author i follow. “never be shy about your work,” she encouraged. i took a screenshot.

never be shy about your work.

humility is a virtue, we are taught. desiderata reminds us, “if you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” always.

but somewhere in there – in the spectrum between meekness and arrogance – is the space to be proud of what you do, to stand in it, to share it.

“what do you do?” people ask. many people can answer that in a word. as artists, it often takes a paragraph, all run-on sentences with no breath so as not to get that lost-in-space glazed look on the asker’s face.

when i broke both of my wrists, the medical staff wrapped up both of them, casting and explaining the possible ramifications of the breaks “at my age”. when i fell the second time on a wet floor and re-injured my right wrist to the point of it having a frighteningly small amount of range of motion, the specialists asked questions and each politely said, “i heard you play the piano” as if i sat around noodling, surrounded by porcelain figurines and teacups, playing chopin-light or maybe little easy-piano-pop-hits. i was literally hesitant (!) to speak and qualified my statement-to-come by saying, “i’m not saying this to be self-aggrandizing, but….” and then i continued, “but because it’s a fact that i have 15 albums out in the world and piano is my major instrument and this could change my life work.”

those specialists had no qualms about saying they were specialists. none. i wondered why i hesitated, why i was apologetic.

never be shy about your work.

i have worked hard in my area of specialty. i have struggled like any artist, have written on scraps of paper and flimsy napkins, have squeezed out time in-between everything else that takes time, have stood in the rain playing and singing on flatbeds, have lugged boxes and boxes and boxes of cds. i have also sold thousands and thousands of albums and have millions of streams. it doesn’t equate to any kind of riches except the kind that is the deep satisfaction of doing something you love.

i used to be much more aggressive – and assertive – about “getting the word out” about my music. though i recognize that vocal styles come and go, instrumental piano is not irrelevant…it has no shelf life. it’s just as peaceful and evocative today as the days i composed it, the days i recorded it. so that would mean that 14 of these 15 albums still have some sales merit, not just the $.000079 cent so “generously” royaltied by online streaming.

never be shy about your work.

in the last church position i held, i was in a meeting with two of the leaders. they were streaming the services and i was commenting on the level of professionalism we needed to try to achieve. i wasn’t willing to link my personal and professional social media to this online streaming until the sound quality (in particular) was indeed much better. one of the leaders stared at me, clear disdain on his face, and told me he had no idea why i would say such a thing or hold such a stance. i explained that i am a yamaha artist and that only PART of my work in the world was the job (which he deliberately pointed out was part-time) i had at that place. for the umbrella of my life i was an artist and that i have always strived to bring the best quality to my work. i told him that it was important to me to make sure that nothing i did musically in the public arena was schlocky (including at that place) and that, as a yamaha artist with fifteen albums, i would hold to my position of not-sharing until there was something more professional to share. i would not undermine my own artistry because mediocrity was ok with him.

never be shy about your work.

he – eventually – found a way to fire me. in the deep dark cloak of covid. with no one really knowing why, including me. well, except, maybe, for retaliation. que sera.

never be shy about your work.

i am proud of the albums that will eventually find their way into antique stores around the country. i see them on resale sites now.

but i also know that – from time to time – someone writes to me. and in their writing they tell me that my music has meant something to them. my music has helped them, given them a sense of serenity, made them think, made them dance.

and that is what counts.

so before the vintage-store-influx i guess it’s my job now to not be shy.

i am a composer. i am a pianist. i am a singer-songwriter and recording artist. i am a writer. i love being on stage, telling stories, playing music. i love the feel of wood under my feet, a boom mic in front of me. i have fifteen albums and a few singles. i’m researching how to get more out of pandora and itunes and all the streaming devices out there. i’m 63 but i’m thinking i might still be relevant. i may need your help because no one gets anywhere in a tiny bubble; no one walks this path alone.

i’m pulling up my not-shy-boots.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY


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the burtons. [k.s. friday]

i wondered if it was too predictable. each spring, now, a dandelion. each spring, now, the song “fistful of dandelions”.

yet the lyrics – “you remind me of the simple things” – they still count. maybe even more than before.

singer-songwriter: a musician who writes, composes, and performs their own musical material, including lyrics and melodies. (wikipedia)

composer: a person who writes music, especially as a professional occupation. (dictionary)

pianist: a person who plays piano, especially professionally. (dictionary)

i have not written, composed or performed my own musical material in quite some time now. does that change who i am?

when i wrote “i haven’t been playing” a dear friend asked me, “what’s that about?” i didn’t answer. i wasn’t trying to be rude. i just didn’t have an answer. i still don’t.

we, d and i, decided – in a pillow moment one night – to call all the stuff that has happened (to me) since i broke both of my wrists “the burtons” (naming every-single-weird-thing after the brand of snowboard i was on when i fell.) it matters not – the broken wrists, the scapholunate ligament tear, the firing, the oddball itinerant tendonitis, two broken toes, other strange and disturbing body stuff – we are choosing to call it all “the burtons”.

so, i guess i blame the burtons. i wrote, “i’m not sure of much that isn’t different these days.”

i am learning – ever so slowly – that different is ok.

and as i clear out, clean out, declutter, put away all that is no longer useful – i am beginning – again – to see the simplest things that are left. gratitude for those things is starting to overtake any yearning for more. “all the riches i will need today.”

each day now i write. not lyrics. not music. but words. it is part of the natural rhythm of my day and not something i could sacrifice without great regret.

writer: you’re a writer because of the things you notice in the world, and the joy you feel stringing the right words together so they sound like music. (writer’s digest)

“…so they sound like music.”

and one day, maybe soon – maybe after my studio has been cleared out, cleaned out, decluttered and all that is no longer useful is put away – i will put down whatever my resistance is and place my hands back on the keys.

“hard to imagine you are not playing,” she wrote.

that kind of knowing – the riches.

*****

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

FISTFUL OF DANDELIONS from THE BEST SO FAR ©️ 1999 kerri sherwood


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stop. go. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

i was about ten. and i was helping my dad clean out the gutters. we were up on the roof of our house on long island. and i was feeling on top of the world. that is, until, i wasn’t.

this could easily become a commercial for leaf-filter-gutter-guards, but that wasn’t a thing back then. instead, we were up there using little trowels and our hands to scoop and toss, scoop and toss. until i wasn’t.

i wanted to stop…but my body kept going. i hit the ground hard and broke my cheekbone. my sweet momma was not-so-pleased with my dad’s allowing-me-to-fall-off-the-roof, but it wasn’t his fault. if you lean forward over a gutter too far, gravity takes over. and that’s the story.

last night, i was awake most of the night. around 2:30 or so, david got us bananas to munch on and we started chatting. valentine’s day was his birthday and he turned 61, which he said feels very different than 60. “i don’t have a problem with the tens,” he said. “it’s the ones. it’s once you are solidly in the decade that it’s different.”

we talked about the differences between 51 and 61, of which, i must say, there are many. you want your body to stop changing (read: aging), but it keeps going and going and going. after much laughter and poking fun, we decided we were fortunate and shouldn’t complain.

the snowboard expert who was sharing the commentator role with the nbc peacock host was telling a story during the olympics. i don’t remember the story because i was too busy writing down his comment, which felt like it could generalize to so.much.in.life. “i wanted to stop but my body kept going.” we watch amazing athletes who have taken their whole lives mastering their sport to prepare for moments-in-time-competing, on top of their game, winning, and, in other moments-in-time having to deal with the stumbling of a body that didn’t quite cooperate on that particular day at that particular time.

i had two normal wrists before. and then, that one particular time. i wanted to stop – on my snowboard on the side of the skihill so as not to plow into the little girl crossing my path on skis – but my body kept going. simple as that. tried to stop. couldn’t stop. got closer and closer to her as she traversed on her tiny skis. and fell. two broken wrists. it’s been two years now. another one of those things david and i talked about in the wee hours. time. how it flies. it just keeps going, no matter what we want.

we went to the grocery store. we both wore masks. there is a global pandemic. still. as we walked toward the paper towels along the aisle that’s perpendicular to theirs, an unmasked naked-faced man came the other way. he started staring from a distance away. and frowning. at my mask. and then, direct eye contact. staring. i stared back. it was awkward. two people out-and-out staring as they approached in the grocery store sale aisle. normally, i would drop my gaze and look elsewhere, but this time i just held it. he passed by within inches of me, still staring. the aggression in the grocery store is titanic. such a waste of energy. such a waste of staring. i wonder if he wanted to stop. it was creepy.

we got home from the store and brought in the first of the bags. dogga bounced up and down at the door, greeting us. “on the rug,” we pointed. he tried – very, very hard – to sit down on the rug and wait to be invited to go outside. but he just couldn’t. we knew he wanted to. he wants to please us. but he just couldn’t. his little body – running at 78rpm-as-opposed-to-33 and downshifting to a lower gear to amp it up – just couldn’t stop. his delight was obvious. we were home. he was happy. he wanted to go out. jump. bounce. jump. bounce.

he skidded across the deck, long paw prints in the snow. luckily, when he came to the end, it was merely a foot or so off the ground. ka-thump.

he stood up and off he ran. he is clearly closer to 51 than 61.

*****

read DAVID’s thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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miracle mittens and the best i can. [k.s. friday]

these ‘miracle mittens’ have changed everything. for the first time, i am hiking with warm hands, i am walking the ‘hood with warm hands, i am outdoors – in the freezing cold – with warm hands. this is the first time i have found mittens that literally make my hands happy. they are down-filled and water-and-wind-resistant; they are an amazing entry in a wrist-saga-journey year. they are the best mittens i have ever found.

the best.

and the wrist-saga-journey continues.

the hand specialist looked at me and said, “you have a complete tear in the SL ligament.” he explained that it followed that my range of motion was pretty much nil and he added, “it would have been in your best interest had this been addressed within four weeks of your fall and resulting injury, but, now that it’s months later, we’ll address it here the best we can.”

the best we can.

the specialist in my own town looked at the mri report and, despite the words “compatible with a high-grade partial or complete (ligament) tear”, told me he saw no evidence of an injury other than something similar to a contusion, that i was fine and, with some occupational therapy, i would have ‘some’ range of motion in a year or two years.

i left that office – in my own town these months ago – and sat in the car and sobbed. the last thing i needed right then was yet another flippant bullying type. i decided then and there not to go back and started a search for a new specialist out-of-town. froedtert and the medical college of wisconsin delivered and i am now in the care of a hand specialist there and an OT i actually look forward to working with each session. there’s a long way to go and the possibility of other interventions, but i know that they will do the best they can.

the best they can.

it has been a journey, i have to say. as a human with opposable thumbs, these hands have been necessary, just in normal life-stuff. but the professional musician in me needs range-of-motion, needs extension, needs rapid movement, needs painless playing. so it has felt really important to me to look at the whole picture, to have a long-term solution, to not underestimate the impact of injuries that are part of who i am. now, with the help of empathetic experts, i can reach for the best i can.

the best i can.

the wrist-saga-journey has been – interesting – to deal with, on every level. two distinct injuries. one snowboard that wiped out both wrists and one unmarked wet floor, months later, that wiped out one of the wrists whose fractures had healed. i had two weeks off, after originally breaking both wrists, from the job-i-had-at-the-time-of-both-injuries. for the better part of the year, i just continued to keep on keeping on, playing, directing, doing the absolute best i could, despite pain, despite awkward adapting with and without casts, with and without braces, despite whatever physical repercussions might arise from using two broken and healing wrists. months later, it was merely weeks after i fell there, right at the beginning of my ninth year of tenure and – suddenly – my hands didn’t have a job. suddenly, the wrists i had forced to keep working all year were without music, were tacet. suddenly, the organ pipes and the piano boom mics and the ukulele chords and the music all over my studio were irrelevant. suddenly.

i told the specialist that wasn’t the end of the story. it’s not a short story. it’s my *hands* and they have been – and will be – part of a much longer story, part of the arc of me, part of different songs to sing, different music to play, different stages to stand on. maybe the-best-i-can is yet to come.

the best.

in the words of jewel, “my hands are small, i know/but they’re not yours they are my own/but they’re not yours they are my own/and i am never broken.”

i can.

*****

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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#ewbok. [d.r. thursday]

sarcasm is babycat’s modus operandi. his viewpoint is much more cynical than dogdog’s, who is a tumbling optimist. dogdog listens to the rise and fall of our voices and reacts accordingly. babycat merely takes a look at things and lists his sweet hulking body to the sardonic.

we read it on a wall in chicago: “everything will be ok.” i really want to believe that. there’s so much.

we are not 65. nor are we essential. workers, that is. so it will take some time before we are eligible for vaccines. the mutation of the virus sounds like it will give the vaccine a run for its money and, still, we drive past full restaurant parking lots, bustling bars.

yesterday was the year mark on my broken wrists. my right wrist refuses to cooperate, having been stunned into re-injury in september. i wonder how it will be in the future. there’s a lot i want to do with that wrist.

we are sharing the crossroads of before and after with the millions of unemployed people in this country. we search for ways to use all we have learned, all we have done, all we have experienced, to make a difference in the world today.

we wonder about people who used to be an integral part of our lives. we try to understand things that have no real explanation. i try to shove the grief into a corner and the anger into another corner and take off the boxing gloves. we hike on the snowy trail and those gloves are nowhere to be seen. but reality returns back in the car somewhere on the way home and then we try to move beyond the big disagree, this thing that lurks, the poison that was pointed my way.

we watch from afar, our hearts hurting, as d’s sweet dad is moved into care, out of his home, away from his wife and all that he used to recognize. we tether ourselves to our phones to field any calls from his momma as she tries desperately to deal with all the details, the loneliness and worry and fear that brings her. she made sure he has his record player and records to listen to and she yearns to be around people at a time that is most dangerous.

and we scroll through the news. our sigh of relief with this new administration is consumed by lies perpetuated by complicit voices of violence, of extremism, of overthrow. it takes our breath away to read of legislative branches, in states and in the federal government, making excuses for the dreadful and inexcusable mayhem, the inciting of riot, in our nation’s capitol. racism, gender-discrimination, ignorant social injustices are rampant. the chasm is ever-widening and the bridge is ever-crumbling.

the wall in chicago reassures, “everything will be ok.” #ewbok

and i remember hearing the saying, “it will all be ok in the end. if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.”

yep.

it musn’t be the end.

*****

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it’s where i’m from. [k.s. friday]

i come from make-it-work stock. my sweet momma and poppo were children of the great depression and were not wasteful sorts. soap socks, squeezing every last vestige of shampoo from the bottle, re-using boxes, rube-goldberg fixes, not a lot of retail therapy. they made do with what they had and never complained. latest trends were mostly lost on them and competing for the best lawn/decor/car/wardrobe/jewels/stuff was not a thing. as the youngest child, with siblings much older than me who both married by the time i was eleven, i had much time to glean and learn to mimic their ways. making-it-work. it’s where i’m from.

and so now, empowered by these two forces of nature – my mom and my dad – with a new brace on my wrist, i am making do. after breaking both wrists the end of january in a snowboarding accident, i finally had healed fractures. the pandemic had interrupted all my occupational therapy and, thus, i’ve been frustrated by a lack of range of motion in my right wrist, so my old brace was often my companion. but i made it work. it’s where i’m from.

and then i fell.

the floor was wet and, unfortunately, unmarked as such. my feet flew out from underneath me and, in natural reflex action, i fell…on my right wrist. i felt right away something was wrong but waited to contact my dr for 48 hours, hoping for quick residing of the new pain. i’m pretty tough and it takes a lot for pain to get to me. d says i have a high tolerance for pain. i blame my mom and dad. they were tough and endured much in their lives. but this isn’t a post about my wrist – soon an MRI and a hand specialist will tell me what is now going on, post-fall. in the meanwhile, i keep on keeping on, just the same as after i simultaneously broke both wrists. making do. it’s where i’m from.

as we hiked along trails in aspen’s woods of color, we mused on how easily we were, well, amused. simply hiking, sitting alongside a creek, smelling the scent of autumn forest – these things were sheer entertainment for us. no restaurants, no bars, no shops, no shows required. (and, in the middle of a pandemic, not even considered.) i thought of all the times i had spent simply being outside, picking apples with my momma and poppo, taking drives, having picnics in parks at wooden tables carved with initials of people we would never know. as we sat around the table out on the balcony or socially-distanced in the condo, i thought of all the times i just spent simply coffee-sitting with my mom and dad, talking long over dinner, late-night conversations on the phone. as my daughter and i talked about my parents, her beaky and pa, i thought of their sacrifices, of their belief in all peoples regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, economic status, religion. i thought of their altruism, their open-mindedness, their embracing of new ideas and their love of learning new things and going new places, and i see their eyes reflected in both my daughter’s and son’s eyes. it’s where i’m from. and it’s where they’re from.

as we approach this very important time of voting, i worry about the narrative others are hearing, but not researching. i worry about the rhetoric coming from this white house, the absolute lies, the warping of truths, the sickening twist of stories, the re-defining of the definition of words, the lack of understanding, the self-serving agenda, the out and out falling prey to gross exaggerations of misinformation. i worry about those people listening to this, believing it, voting with this toxic barrage of falsehoods in their hearts.

and i think about my mom, who always, always, always said, “look it up.” yes. look further. research. find objective, factual resources and immerse in those. look. it. up.

yes. make do. look it up. it’s where i’m from.

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“the most grown-up thing you can do is fail at things you care about.” [merely-a-thought monday]

unicorn store 4

i still have it.  the index card is taped to the inside bottom of my old piano bench down in the basement.  these  words, “perfection is an eight letter word.  p r a c t i c e ” written in eight-year-old pencil-printing.  it’s been there – in that old spinet piano bench – since 1967, when i started taking lessons and needed a reminder how to keep the ups and downs in perspective.

i spent long hours on that bench and on the organ bench also in my growing-up living room.  what i could hear in my imagination wasn’t necessarily what was showing up on the keys.  my sweet poppo would encourage me, “remember, practice makes perfect,” he’d say.  i’d add, well, at least practice moves you in that direction.

there’s no guarantee for perfect.  there’s no route to it and any expectation that you will achieve it really is for naught.  the best you can do is the best you can do – moment by moment.   with practice, each best-you-can-do is better than the last.  and so on and so on.

it’s the caring that matters.

i have two amazing children who have shown me examples of the pursuit of how to do something, to a point of excellence, that you’ve never done before.  the keeping-at-it, toughlove-letting-go-of-judgment, the training, the practice, the trying-failing-rinse-repeat-ness of learning.  they approach new things like stoic explorers, adventurers prepared and open to experience.

it’s the very thing that inspired our snowboarding lesson earlier this year – the one where i broke both of my wrists.  every time i hear someone say, “eh, i’m too old; i can’t learn that,” i store my emotional response to that statement away in my memory bank, waiting for the day i’m about to say just that so i might pummel the words before they escape my lips.

even though my wrists broke and might never be the same and even though i cannot point to any great accomplishment or success on the slope, i would not take back the experience or the exhilaration and anticipation of learning something new, particularly, in this case, that very thing that would give me the slightest first-hand touch, not merely a window, into my daughter’s professional world.

in post-cast moments many people, aghast, said to me, “what were you thinking?  don’t you think there’s a point you are too old for that?  remember your age!”  i am more aghast at these words than all the months dealing with uncooperative wrists in a livelihood where they really matter.

knowing first-hand how difficult and humbling pure novice-ness is, i hope i can always release the suffocating self-evaluating that goes hand-in-hand with being new at something; i hope that i always care about learning.

at eight i had no idea what piano lessons would mean to my life.  i simply wanted – really, really wanted –  to learn.  i, at 8, didn’t beat myself up over getting it wrong or failing nor did i get self-conscious about my journey of mastery.  i just stepped into it.  and i cared with all of my eight-year-old heart.

we walk and talk about the day The Girl or The Boy suggest to getting-older-every-day-us that we purchase new technology or download a new app or try a new recipe or consider a new lifestyle or or or …. the day we will want to say, “eh, we’re too old; we can’t learn that.” i look down at my right wrist, which may never bend at a 90 degree angle ever again, and i remember to care.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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lost. and found? [k.s. friday]

lost (sketch)

it’s just a thought.  a sketch.  a few moments of piano.  lost.

i recorded eight voice-memo recordings in the studio this morning.  all based on the word “lost”.  they varied in length; the shortest was 9 seconds, the longest 7:22.  i discarded all of them and just kept the first :51 of one version.

lost.

we had just finished reading an op ed that was infinitely disturbing and equally heartwrenching.  an article about the united states, it painted a picture of a country lost in itself, untethered from its values, far from moored to its former strength and viability, unattached to its potential of community, of empathy, of oneness.

lost.

even just yesterday we listened to two accounts of persons who had been tested more than once for covid-19.  with differing results each time, it has us wondering how we might be able to halt the pandemic wave that continues to threaten when we cannot obtain test results that are accurate or consistent.  where are we really in this upsurgence?  this is no little skirmish.

lost.

everything is different right now.  we sat safely in our kitchen yesterday and talked about the 28 million people who would be losing their homes or the place they rent as home.  we talked about the crushing inability to really be with people we love.  we talked about the lack of jobs available.  we talked about unemployment numbers.  we talked about pressure.  we talked about economics and finances.  we talked about almost 160,000 people who had died from coronavirus.  we talked about life insurance.

lost.

sitting at the piano in my studio elicits mixed feelings for me.  i pine for the days that the music i wrote, the music i recorded, actually made me a living, at least the times it even leaned toward making me a living.  i wonder if that will ever be the case again, if it’s even possible in this online-download-time that has usurped the living of so many independent artists.  i experience a sense of betrayal sitting on the bench and work hard, somewhat unsuccessfully, to overcome it.

lost.

my left hand starts.  always a provider of depth and rhythm and always strong, my left hand knows how to dig in.  even now.  i think the word “lost”.  my right hand starts to follow.  and the limitation of a wrist that no longer bends beyond 20° makes me draw in my breath.

lost.

on the top of the file cabinet in the back hallway of TPAC there was a basket.  in that basket was an assortment of stuff:  coffee mugs, a jacket, sunglasses, readers, a set of keys.  it was the “lost and found” basket.

i suppose there is a simple wisdom in “lost and found” stashes.  found, as an antonym of lost, implies not forever lost.  it is hopeful.

maybe, though we cannot see it, we are living in the very middle of lost and found.

 

 

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©️ kerri sherwood


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why? [two artists tuesday]

even nature is asking why

i have asked more than one person if they feel as i do – like they are living in an alternate reality.

from the moment i broke both my wrists to now, the smack-dab middle of the pandemic, it has felt that way – like we are in some kind of alternate reality.  a reality with different rules.  a different set of mores.  different judgment.  why?

when i used to be a minister of music, way-back-when in florida over 30 years ago, i worked with a wonderfully-southern georgia tech pastor, kirk.  we had a long tenure together and implicitly relied on each other.  at a distinct point in time, he decided to turn over all the wedding rehearsals to me.  i remember the moment of that decision, the moment he sighed, exasperated at the disrespectful lack of regard for simple guidelines.

the rehearsal ahead of time went well.  we lined up the wedding party and they walked up the aisle to their chosen music, went through the faked vows and such and then walked back down the aisle.  kirk, in his treasured drawl, slowly reiterated the guidelines to them about the next day – their wedding day.  the guidelines were common sense:  reminders about what to do or not do and how to be sure that this very-important-day would escape judgment by the perspective-of-time years later.

they did not heed his advice.

instead, the groom showed up inebriated, as did the videographer.

the groom stumbled multiple times over his vows, and, literally being held up by the bride, finally punted out, “forever and ever, till we die” in lieu of the more delicate loving words of the standard vow.  the videographer vaulted over the stationary communion rail in the front of the sanctuary and sprinted to the back of the church in an effort to beat the wedding party there and film their exit.  it was a circus.  i wonder how they view all that now, decades later, with judgment-as-it-passes-through-the years.  did it stand the test of time?  i wonder if they ask, ‘why?’

we are living this now.

we have a choice.

to decide to prevail by the pandemic safety guidelines and be able to look back with clear consciences, knowing we did all we could to heed advice, or to throw caution to the wind and see what happens.

looking around, watching as people react and push back against this very-important-time, i suspect judgment will not be on our side; it will not stand the test of time.

and years from now, we will ask – why?

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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two broken wrists. two and a half months. i kept playing. [two artists tuesday]

tendonitis

out of necessity it was only a few days after i broke both of my wrists that i played.  it seemed that i had nine fingers that were attending this event, and i, relieved to have these nine, worked with what i had.

in the last couple months, my left hand progressed faster than my right.  i had two breaks in my right wrist and, yes, i am older now than i used to be, so the doctor warned me that i needed to be patient.  make that NEED to be patient; healing will take six to eight months, she said.  but all five LH fingers participated in this early-on merrymaking and only my immobilized thumb was excluded on my RH.  and both wrists. they were excluded too.

they changed the cast on my RH from over-the-elbow to one a tad bit shorter; this was happy for me as it gave me more mobility. i kept playing, despite the wad of cast that ended in the palm of my hand.  i am a mom.  i am used to working around things.

later, they changed it yet again to an exos cast, which is removable but much less designed specifically for your hand; it was actually quite uncomfortable and made my hand hurt in places it hadn’t hurt with the ‘regular’ cast on.  i kept playing.

at the point when the coronavirus ceased all my regular doctor appointments, and after only one occupational therapy appointment, i kept playing.

finally, with the phoned-in blessing of my OT, i ordered a splint for my RH – the same one i wear on my LH, releasing my thumb from its cast-prison.  i kept playing.

and then i noticed that my pinky wasn’t responding properly.  nor was my ring finger.  nerve pain was shooting from my fingers up my arm.  and nodules in the palm of my RH were burning, stinging.  no professional pianist i know wants his or her hands to hurt.  i could draw hundreds of analogies here with other body parts and ways-of-living, but i will refrain from doing so and just say that this was disheartening and incredibly worrisome for me.  and i kept playing.

i emailed the doctor and then sent pictures i labeled in photoshop so that my worry would be clear, since i was unable to be there in person; social distancing had put aurora on the don’t-call-us-if-this-isn’t-essential status.  when she called me she said i really needed to come in.  she said that they would take some x-rays and the hand specialist would look at my right hand, in particular.  frankly, i was beyond nervous to walk into a medical center.  they have their hands full (absolutely no pun intended) and i was reticent to be privy to whatever germs were hanging around or to take any focus from the more essential.  but, because i am playing and because playing is what i do, i went.

although there is a slight chance that there is something else going on here, it looks like the palm tendons of my RH fingers are inflamed.  this is likely because i have been playing with casts on.  what’s the expression? damned if i do, damned if i don’t.

when i asked the specialist for a range of time this might last, his answer was ‘probably up to a few months’.  he didn’t ask me a lot of questions to discern what was happening and i tried like heck to fill him in on every-single-last-thing about my hands, but, in as-quick-as-a-flash fashion, he was gone before i knew it.  a-few-more-exercises-and-some-regularly-scheduled-advil advice later, i left the hospital, took off my mask and climbed, sighing, into big red in the parking lot.

and now, out of necessity, i will keep playing.

and worrying.

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