Regular H&Q readers know of my woes as a poet/guitarist and songwriter/performer. I wrote a few posts here about “almost becoming an ‘also-ran.” For years I’ve been bittersweet over these frustrations: without a doubt, I have seen “approval,” and “enjoyment” and “laughter in all the ‘right’ places ” when I’ve played and recited. Recently, I’ve rejoiced in less sweet, and been slowly rotting my insides out, wallowing in more bitter.
I have not seen enough sweet for the past year. There was an event that broke my heart. You will not read about it from me. If I mention it, more people will only hate me more, and I want to avoid that. It zapped me. It sapped me. I hate to share my poems and songs when people would rather talk to each other. The only time I feel this way is when I try to share.
Talk to me about aviation history, and I’m fine. Talk to me about life in general and I’m okay. Stop me before I’ve finished reciting a poem or singing a song, and I’m crushed. So I’ve decided to start closing the doors that deliver me to Crushville.
Last night I burned my most-recently-acquired guitar: an Ibanez I bought a few years ago from a guitar store on west Jefferson. I bought it for the looks as much as the sound. Sometimes I’d take it along to a performance and display it but not play it. I loved the way it looked. The owner of the music shop where I bought it had written my name on a tag for the month or so he held it until I made the final payment. That tag remained attached to the guitar, just in case people might see it and not know it was mine.
I had considered selling it, but I believed no one would want to buy it for what I’d want for it: say $100. I considered giving it to a stranger after I played it at an open mic performance in town. But I BELIEVE I will never attend another open mic. Early yesterday, I decided to burn all but one of my then-five guitars. By mid afternoon I had decided to burn them one at a time over a few months and take pictures. The first to go would be my Ibanez because I knew I could lose it and not miss it.
I left the guitar case inside. I’m considering using it as a faux-brief-case when I have things to bring to the airport or take to a meeting. I had a sturdy, metal fire pan in the back yard storage shed. That would keep things tidy.
I had to bring sections of The State Journal Register with me from my museum office when I left for home about 7 last night. I felt like I was executing a friend, a dream, and that I absolutely had to do it. Maybe it was a pagan sacrifice to the Clapton god or the Jerry Reed god or the Chet or Tommy Emmanuel gods. I was not happy. I was determined. I felt it had been “written in the stars” that I should do this.
I was alone in my back yard for the duration. I sensed that there were eyes on me, perhaps from Judy next door or the fine residents upstairs. I was so busy with my camera, kindling and fire stoking I didn’t mind. Let them watch. Let them not watch.
And it didn’t take long. There was almost no smoke. After a while, the only recognizable part was the top of the neck with my name tag almost untouched. I decided to keep it. When there were no flames left, the daughter of my upstairs neighbor came out and we talked as I stirred the last of it. I even tried to light some remnants of un-burned newspaper and spilled my box of kitchen matches in the effort. I explained I had burned one of my guitars because I didn’t want it anymore and didn’t want to sell it. We had a nice visit. Then I took the upper part of the neck and went inside, had a nice salad for dinner, read some of Volume 1 of Simon Shama’s three volume tome about the history of England and went to bed.
This morning I photographed the upper neck on my dining room table where it had spent the night.
I am having a lot of issues with life. New hearing aid, new dental plate for my lower jaw, major solitude despite being in close proximity to many people every day. It’s like they’re on their planet, and I’m on mine. Lots of doctor bills going back for years. And no relief in sight.
And so it goes.
Thanks for reading this.
Live long . . . . . . . . . . and proper.