It should have been a great day. I can work remote on Wednesdays so I have two attractive choices: hang out in my pajamas all day and work from my couch or put on some comfortable clothes and hole up at the local coffee shop and work at the table in the corner while sipping on a mocha. I opted for the couch.
The trouble with working from home is the working part. It seems like it shouldn't matter that I'm at home instead of the office, but something deep in my brain seems to say, "Hey, you're at home, just relax for a little bit. You've got all day." And it didn't help that my internet connection was being flakey thwarting my half-hearted attempts to accomplish something.
By noon I had gotten pretty much nothing done and my mood had soured. I found myself checking Booksie every few minutes in case one of my favorite writers had posted an update. I suppose I should just fan them so I could just get notified about updates, but where's the fun in that? Tiring of Booksie lurking, I caught myself thinking about her again. Quick, distraction! Crap, the internet is still flaking out. And now Booksie won't even load. I wonder what she's doing today? Does she have plans for tomorrow? I hope so. Maybe she'll meet somebody soon and become even more unavailable and I'll stop thinking about her every day...
Okay, this is not helping things. Get up off the couch. Put away my laptop. Pull on some clothes. Grab my computer and head to the coffee shop. Even a delicious turkey club in my favorite hang out couldn't get me out of my funk. At least I got some work done. But in my hurry I'd forgotten my headphones. So I got to listen to a crazy old lady talk to uncomfortable strangers about random things. And the noisy kids at the next table playing some kind of game. Still uploading. This is taking forever! I wish she were here. She'd love this coffee shop. Focus!
Then a student from the university in town comes and sits at the next table with a gal who is tutoring him in math. They're stuck on a problem. I go over and volunteer to help. I mostly figure it out and explain it to them. "Stupid old guy. Just leave those kids alone," I tell myself afterwards. Funk deepens. Then his other tutor who was sitting at the adjacent table swaps places with her and begins lecturing in a loud voice about early 20th century American history. It's mostly right but consists of incredibly sweeping and obvious generalizations. I'm thinking, if he read any of the textbook, then you're wasting his time. And if he didn't then what is he doing attending university? And it's about 5 PM so I leave in an even deeper funk to go pick up L, the female vocalist in my band.
I always crank the tunes in my car since I got a new stereo for Christmas. Today I drove in silence. Without her nothing matters. Life sucks and then you die. Maybe I should just keep driving until I run out of gas and then walk until I fall over and then lay there until I don't have to think about anything anymore. Sheesh. I'm just a ray of sunshine.
"Hey J! How's your day going?" L asks as she bounces into my car.
"Don't really want to talk about it. How's yours?"
The irony is, she has plenty going wrong in her life lately. She lost her job when the pet store burned down last month. Her husband has... issues. She has no working car. Her landlord wants to have their property annexed into the city so she has two months to find a new place to live if she wants to keep her goats and horse. And she's cheerful and I'm glum. But knowing I have no excuse to feel this way doesn't make it any better.
Then, on the way back to my house, D calls. "Hey we just got done with our last job. I'm in southwest Portland, so I'll be there in about 45 minutes." D is our lead singer and primary song writer. Kinda hard to practice without him. And there's no way he's going to get here in 45 minutes during rush hour. I resign myself to another truncated practice.
I decide to make the best of it. L and I sit down at the piano and I say, "Wanna learn one of my songs?"
L is awesome. I looked up easy going in the dictionary and found her picture. I start playing piano and singing. L jumps in with harmonies. It's really too high for me since I transposed it to be in D's range but I belt it out anyway. Somehow the funk begins to slip away. I'm not thinking of anything really. Just feeling and being and experiencing the ebb and flow of the song. We run through two more of D's tunes that she doesn't know yet before I take a short break to burn a few CDs for her of the songs we recorded in the studio last month. She's working on putting together a press kit to help us get some gigs when we're ready to start playing out in a month or two.
D shows up while we're burning the last CD. He's starving so I feed him leftover Red Lobster. D is amazingly easy going and totally cool. I realize how lucky I am to be in a band with such talented and wonderful people. We sit down at my upright piano, L on my right in her wooden dining room chair, D on my left on a stool, me on that old adjustable height office chair my mom bought for me all those years ago since a bench is too low for this piano.
We run through the songs that D and I know well but are new to L. I lose myself in the familiar process of practicing, refining, shaping the melodies and chords. I listen to the harmonies floating over my head. And tonight we record four songs on my handheld recorder which L will be doling out on our Facebook page in the coming weeks.
Seven-thirty. Time to give D money to pay his babysitter (the only way we can get an uninterrupted practice) and send them home. I find myself smiling and waving as two of my favorite people in the world walk to D's van chatting happily about the band and their plans for Valentine's day. The bad mood is gone and shows no sign of returning.
Was it distraction? Yes, but it was something much deeper than that. It was the soothing strains of a familiar song shared with those who love it as much as I do. As they drive off, a lyric from a song by the late Rich Mullins comes to mind:
Now that this is all ending
I want to hear some music once again
'Cause it's the finest thing I have ever found
And from down here on earth, I look up to heaven, smile at Rich, and silently agree.