There must be some reason it’s so rare I sit through my recorded drumming sessions in search of bites for my blog. Because I’ve already had that experience and don’t feel it’s necessary to relive it. It won’t be anything like what I experienced; it’ll be a shoddy representation. You weren’t in my head in that moment, you didn’t hear it as I did. Which isn’t to say it will suck, but it won’t pop. It’ll just be fast and spastic but mostly unsurprising; recorded drums without a live audience or video have this thing to overcome: the speedy humdrum. That is far from the issue with the experience itself, where I throw out so many beats and fills in such a short space and then repeat the exercise in a new and more radical combination than the previous, until I am cruising on endorphins and realize I’m running out of ideas even if I still am energized–and so it is just that, exercise. Might as well hop on a treadmill. So if it’s that, then ramp up the speed and spend all the energy, wind down until clever again. Likely I’ll forget that trajectory when I listen to the recording weeks, months later. I won’t know what’s going on because I’m not actively listening anymore, I’m grading, so with all the witless thrashing I might as well have just, yes, jumped on a treadmill. (There is one in the next room, after all, plus a rowing machine and a stepping machine that I think I paid 80 bucks for: thanks, Craigslist, for providing this house with decent equipment that we reject in favor of what they’ve got at the gym 15 minutes down the rushed and harried road to Columbia, at a gym we pay a fortune to guilt ourselves into staying more or less constant with.) But what’s missing from this scene are the days when I do not record: they are, in fact, vital. Never play an instrument only to be recorded; it causes that old conflict of interest of ends and means and what justifies what. One day, I will listen regularly to these tracks with discretion and compassion. I will cut and paste the moments and internalize the injunction I so frequently make while editing: Stop hitting things every few minutes or measures, it makes for an easier cut! Hell, sniff out the decay of that giant ride cymbal, that betrayer of all interstitial subtly, announcing the connectedness of every single moment–nothing was planned or executed with a view towards permanence, was it, it was all for the fleeting ephemeral. And if I don’t make good on that promise to keep it episodic, I have these moments that might not be easily extracted but which all speak of spontaneous playful rage. Everything, in short, that I have just described, is a virtue. None of this is cause for regret. Except the diction.
And here opens up a Sunday without a purpose. Excited? You know that Sunday I spent with a Moleskin at Goose Park scratching out notes for a critical essay on Wuthering Heights while Kid 1 was in daycare now characterizes the later years of my academic study of literature: spirited and reckless. Writing just as much to get away with every weird point that sprung upon my overread brain as to penetrate the mysteries of the centerless text. So today what has happened is that I woke up thinking about the latest trio of discussion boards I am contractually bound to say hello to while instead just diving with my coffee into a new novel before getting up to whack the weeds while Kid 2 swung under a tree in the opposite yard. But wait, it couldn’t have been a Sunday at Goose Park because what daycare is open on a Sunday? Still, the feeling is real; thus a Sunday it was.
I was going to say something about why the space in which I wrote after our first life in Ann Arbor, A Hideous Title, only survived the two or three years that we spent in Lansing…and how that space was the next and final step in that literary tomfoolery…but then Kid 1 asked if she could cook up some Mac N Cheese. This hallowed dish that she used to pronounce with a toddler emphasis bordering on the sinister (MAC N CHEESE) she is now (finally) able to make for herself without catching its box on fire. So while that train of thought started up, Kid 1, waiting for the water to boil, stood around in the kitchen making her random noises in response to whatever the hell was on her phone.
Generally, this honor’s-roll 12-year-old has two modes while at home: Grumpy-Butt and Random-Chaos. While one assumes her emotional range is rich and her mental state complex, her outward bipolarity can have the effect of renewing the old philosophical question: How can I be certain that another being, separate from myself and distinctly beyond the reach of my own subjectivity, does in fact experience pain or joy like I know I do? Though it is heartening to know that she does not require a smartphone or tablet to go full-tilt rando.
She will, on a Saturday night, audibly narrate in her quiet bedroom something about which I have zero knowledge but to which I can compare the performances I have myself made, such as when I brought some literary theory (Chaucer and the Subject of History) to my dad’s house between five and ten years ago. The way he yelled upstairs to ask if I’d figured out how to turn on the jets of the new tub I was sitting in convinced me he wanted me to shut the hell up. In my late twenties I was too old for such stentorian gibber-jabber; I’d forgotten to respect the other’s headspace. But now my daughter, blurting out a bunch of bunk in the kitchen, announces that she’s shutting the door. Headspace restored.