Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I raise my mask and stare at the light leaking around the blackout curtain. My phone says it's 6 AM. I roll out of bed and fumble for my workout clothes.

44 today.

I'm not even sure if it is my birthday yet at home. What is home, at 44? I think about how much of my past is gone, erased, lost. Names and faces changed. The houses of my childhood long sold. "Where are they now?"

California. Los Angeles, a lifetime ago.

"Where are we now?
The moment you know, you know
As long as there's sun..."

San Francisco. Home for 13 years, and yet sometimes I still feel like I just got there. I think about articles I've read claiming people like me are ruining the place.

Where am I now?

London. Got here yesterday. I was in Tokyo 2 or 3 days ago.

I am alone in the hotel gym. I step on the treadmill gingerly. Glutes still hurting from Saturday's training session. Hip sore from bursitis and yesterday's workout. I punch in numbers and run slowly, carefully, more focused on my gait than anything else. I make it 25 minutes before pain makes me switch to the elliptical. I can't get my heart rate up as high, but at least it won't aggravate things too much.

My MP3 player blasts a song by Last Amanda. I did a show with them several years ago at Altamont:

"I've got so much I want to tell you/I don't think so
Share my experience with others/I don't think so

...I can't stand myself"

Life has changed so much, so quickly. Just 4 years ago, I had a huge party. You were probably invited, and maybe even showed up. I sang and played guitar. I was working at Rhapsody. I felt like I was on top of the world.

My physical self has been on my mind a lot lately. My voice has been broken for just over 2 months.It seems to be recovering...slowly. I spend far too much time worrying about it, but literally every day I am reminded of the loss, and how much I loved singing, and feeling like I could sing anything.

Largely driven by doctors' orders and by vanity, I have been exercising and watching my diet for the last few months. I am 15-20 pounds lighter than I was in February. In better shape now, in terms of performance and appearance, than I have been since probably my mid-20s. But in recent weeks my right hip has started complaining about the 20 miles of running I've added, and I am not sure how careful I'll have to be or how long that will take to recuperate. I haven't missed too many workouts, and am watching what I eat, but I am still worried about backsliding.

At least my back and leg have substantially improved over the last few years. I still have problems, but they're much less common and more manageable. Getting old. It's all wear and tear. Damage control.

That right hip is stiff and sore as I walk through the unseasonably warm London morning (LONDON! How did I get here?) to work. I listen to music, in glorious high quality on the best headphones I've ever owned.

One of my own songs comes up, from the yet-to-be-released album "The Ghost Town", the last album I've finished to date. It sounds really good. I like my singing on this one.

"When I crossed the desert, there was nothing that I lacked. 
I left in the dead of night, and I never once looked back."

I smile to myself. I really did cross the Mojave desert at night, leaving childhood and my old life behind, and I've never regretted it once.

I have so much to be grateful for, so much to be happy about. Sometimes it is hard for me to see that clearly. Perhaps it's just my nature to focus on the things I wish were better - I think that is part of what makes me good at my job.

I think about my other birthdays. I have made the same wish for decades. I won't tell you what it is, because then it won't come true. But it has come true, time to time, more often than perhaps I deserve.

I already bought myself a birthday present. A fancy new synthesizer. I wish I had more time to explore it, and more time to create with it. I don't really need more stuff, but there are worse things to spend money on than instruments.

Things are good, even great. My biggest challenges all seem to be self-inflicted to some degree. If I could just ease up a bit. If only. I keep trying.

I'll spend most of today sitting behind mirrored glass in a dark room, watching people be questioned about their activities. "Like FBI?", the Eastern European hotel clerk asked. Yes, exactly like FBI, I told him. Maybe I'll have a nice dinner with a colleague tonight.

Business travel is lonely. I don't really mind being alone, even in unhealthy doses, as long as I know there's an end in sight. I flew back home between international trips to see Iran and my friends. A touch of fatigue and loneliness is worth it for the adventure. Totally.

I'll be home again soon enough, with time to noodle around on my instruments and sleep and think and write. I have so many projects in the works (including an unusual one I am very excited about), and so many people to see.

I think of my friends, my family, my wife, and how fortunate I am.

Happy birthday to me.


Brad said...

Happy 44, Anu. Miss working and playing music with you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having shared this post.

My 5 year old just became aware of his mortality a few days ago, and my aging body reminds me of mine daily. Happy Birthday!