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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.

read DAVID’s thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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eighth rest. broken wrists. waiting. [k.s. friday]

waiting eighth rest

“the waiting place….for people just waiting. 

waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a yes or no or waiting for their hair to grow.  everyone is just waiting.  waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle jake or a pot to boil, or a better break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or another chance.  everyone is just waiting.

somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.  you’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing.  with banner flip-flapping once more you’ll ride high!  ready for anything under the sky.  ready because you’re that kind of a guy! 

oh, the places you’ll go!”

(dr. seuss)

an eighth rest.  these two broken wrists are down from a quarter rest to an eighth rest. and waiting.

we are all waiting.  for hours, days, weeks to go by.  for healing.  we are biding time.  on hold.  on eighth-rest-repeat.

eighth rest repeat

and in that vast biding of time we are maybe finding that some of the things we have busied ourselves with don’t count as much.  and some count more.  maybe our time of waiting will reveal to us that which is most important.  maybe it will be a time of needed rest.  a time of slowing down.  a time of subito tacet.  a time of honoring those who truly help us.  a time of quiet conversation, of learning new things, of disassembled notes gathering together from their places in the stars to form a new song.

we wait.  and we don’t know when the waiting will stop.  but oh, during this waiting, and after the stand-still-pause is over, oh, the places we will go.

download WAITING on iTUNES or CDBaby

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WAITING ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” [merely-a-thought monday]

healing

it is at that place in my memory where i can juuuust-about-touch-it-but-not-quite – the first time i heard, ‘ don’t stare into the rearview mirror.  that’s not the direction you are going.’  i can’t quite remember when or where i first heard it, but it was one of those comments that i stored away as a wisdom to feed off, something that would give me strength in a moment of weak, something that would give me hope in a moment of despair.

my john glenn high school senior class song was seals and crofts’ we may never pass this way again’.  even if it’s the best.  even if it’s the worst.  never.  this moment won’t be repeated and, with the absence of time travel, we cannot re-live it.  ever.

we have all walked in different shoes on different paths.  we have passed through challenges of which we may never speak; we have had successes about which we have never bragged.  we have been hurt;  we have hurt.  and we have healed.

“healing does not mean going back to the way things were before…” (ram dass)

the thing about healing is what it teaches us.  we can never be un-hurt.  we can never undo what was done or what we did.  we can’t return to the baseline; it has vanished with the winds of change.  in a million tiny pieces of glitter, it’s in that proverbial rearview mirror.

but we can ride the river of our breathing into new normal.  we can carry with us learnings and soft words of apology.  we can pack our virtual baggage with tools of prevention and fairness and forethought.  we can pick up techniques of negotiation and navigating in the process of coming-out-of-pain.  we can avoid the temptation to retreat from moving forward, thinking that healing means it’s all back to what it ‘was’ before.

instead, we can step, in blind faith, into next, trusting that healing will bring us to a new place, a new start.  that healing will have somehow gifted us, given grace to all involved in ways we may never know or understand.  that healing will be like dawn, like rain, like birth.

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

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two broken wrists. and the saga continues. [k.s. friday]

and the saga continues

bananas.  they were $.49 lb.  we picked up a bunch and walked to the register.  a moment later, with no question or drama, we paid our $1.17 and left.

the next step in my two-broken-wrists saga is occupational therapy.  not because we do everything with our hands.  not because we write with them and open doors with them.  not because we use them for our personal hygiene or because we cook with them.  not because we drive with them or dress with them or shake hands with them.  but because using my hands IS what i do.  the therapist asked me how long i have played the piano.  53 years.  it’s what i DO.  so getting my wrists back to pre-snowboard-fall is imperative to me.  there are no other options.

before we went to this first appointment i, responsibly, called our healthcare insurance company – the one we pay $29,000 a year to – the one with the slogan ” for the care you need at a price you can afford” – to check in about the coverage of OT.  i was told, after much menu-choosing, that i am limited to 20 visits and that the cost will be $50 per visit.  with the OT’s recommendation that my getting-these-wrists-back-trajectory would involve appointments twice a week, that would add $400 to the already-$2400/month in healthcare costs.  bracing.  impossible.

the OT office checked in with me to remind me of my appointment, coincidentally, just after i hung up with the insurance company.  i told them what i had just learned and they insisted i was wrong.  “no,” i was told, “we have never heard of molina charging ANYthing for a copay.”  I asked them to please double-check for me and they assured me they would and that they would apprise me at my appointment.

when i arrived, the receptionist checking me in told me that they had their 23-year-insurance-veteran in the office check and that there would be no copay.  i asked them to provide a written document to that effect so that if and when i was billed i would have recourse.  they assured me that they would triple-check and to stop back after my appointment.

at the end of my appointment with the therapist, the receptionist told me that “no, you don’t have to pay $50 per visit.  it’s actually worse.  instead, you have to pay 100% of all fees until your thousands-of-dollars-deductible is met.”  what?!!!!  now this is the third story i am hearing about the same service with the same provider and the same insurance company.  who am i to believe?

i stood there and literally cried in front of the receptionist in the middle of the waiting area.  you mean to tell me that our $29,000 a year doesn’t really cover much of anything???  this is blatantly wrong, grossly outrageous.

bernie sanders, if you have listened to him speak, has given a example of the perverted and pathetic healthcare in this country.  he speaks about a family who makes $60,000 a year and that this family must pay $12,000 for healthcare.  “that’s 20% of their gross income,” he bellows.  what i wish he would add is this next example:  consider a couple who makes say $65,000 a year (this is the magic healthcare cliff for two people and only $5000 more than the previous example).  that couple will pay anywhere between $24,000 and $29,000 for a policy that will still have high deductibles and yet (clearly) not actually have good coverage.  i want to jump on the bernie-bellowing-band-wagon and yell, “that’s 45% of that couple’s income!!!  what is wrong with that???? EVERYTHING!”  how is it that we can live in this country, the richest country in the world, and have the worst healthcare for our populace?  how is it right to set the populace up for financial disaster when they have to deal with the eventual health scare, injury, illness??  (on a side note, i won’t even beGIN to start talking about Covid-19, for i have nothing good to say about the administration’s handling, lack of information or truth, and unpreparedness for this pandemic that will truly test the resiliency of our country.)

when i could take a breath at the receptionist’s desk i asked, “what do these appointments cost?”  how much is my professionalism worth to me, i am thinking.  i earn my living playing the piano, i am thinking.  i have fifteen albums of piano music, i am thinking.  i am a pianist, i am thinking.  i just need care for my wrists so that i can do what i do, i am thinking.  at what cost, i am thinking.

but healthcare is not like bananas.  i was told, “we can’t answer that.  we don’t know.”  i beg your pardon???  “billing handles that.  and it’s different depending upon insurance plans and whether or not you have appropriate insurance.”  i beg your pardon???? “what if i just wanted to pay cash right now?” i ask.  “you can’t,” she says.  “we don’t know what it costs.”

i wonder if it would be more if i paid cash – after all, i’m not an overstuffed insurance company that has the capacity to deny portions of the billing or disallow costs or base payment on the coding used to describe my treatment, while at the same time accepting ridiculously high premiums from clients with the knowledge that the insurance offered is incomprehensibly lacking.

no.  i’m just a person who needs her hands.

we left, went to the store and bought more bananas.

read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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that smell of horses. [two artists tuesday]

sleigh ride copy

so, i love the smell of horses.  i love the proud way they hold their heads and the sometimes-wild forelock that dances between their ears.  i love watching them cavort in fields together, free to gallop and play.  i love the warmth on my hand as i stroke under its mane.  i love the sound of leather creaking underneath me when riding.  i love the clip-clop of hooves.  i love the feeling i get up-close-and-personal talking softly to a horse, looking deeply into its eyes, pools of wisdom taking it all in.  it is no surprise to most of my people that i love really everything about them.

with the snowy quiet punctuated by the clip-clop of horses’ hooves and laughter, we rode the sleigh through the woods.  the sun was out and, with snowpants on and under a blanket, it was toasty.  perfect.  ace and bill carried us through the trails to a spot for a bonfire and cocoa and then back.  i didn’t want it to end.

there are people in your life who just know what you need.  we are lucky enough to have a bunch of these people close by and paying attention.  our little trip up north was perfectly timed.  a chance to just enjoy each other and the frozen-but-not-really-freezing outdoors.  the sleigh ride was wondrous.  the time together restorative.

the peaceful time in the woods and on the snow-covered frozen lake brought me out of storms i was withstanding.  the laughter, good food, conversation, pjs and coffee and games with glasses of wine helped transport my spirit and rejuvenated me.  i am grateful.  for a few days it didn’t matter that my wrists were broken.  my ernie straw was with me and i was surrounded by people who loved me.

and the horses.  ahh.  icing on the cake.

so now, i will wait till the next time…the next time i am near horses.  as someone who has had a lifelong wish for a horse of my own, those times feed me.  i imagine that maybe somehow one day sometime i might have a horse-of-my-own.  i imagine i won’t show this horse or ride around in a paddock practicing dressage.  i will ride my friend in the woods and in the fields, manes flying, both of us gleefully breathing the air and listening to each other.  i imagine silent conversations about love and respect and sweet moments of just being close by each other.  i imagine walking away, blowing a kiss backwards to this horse – my horse – the wind catching the scent on my hands and my clothes, and smiling.

read DAVID’S thoughts this TWO ARTISTS TUESDAY

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1980. no balloons. [k.s. friday]

no balloons

1980.  it’s not often i have listened to this song since four decades ago when i recorded it.  i was a mere 20.  listening to it warbling now, in the way that only old cassettes can warble, has been a mixed bag:  this cassette master, with little studio experience, with reel-to-reel recording, with no auto-tune for my young nervous soprano-ish voice, with too-sweet flute lines and picked guitar, measures-too-long-instrumental-interlude; i am catapulted back.

it is shocking to hear the innocence.  it is shocking to hear the pain.  if my wednesday post this week was too much, i would hasten to add that this will be as well.  this is a song about stripping a young woman of choice, of what should be the blissful love of first intimacy, of no justice, of no opportunity to process.  it’s the story of sexual assault in the late 1970s.  it’s the story of sexual assault any time.  it changes everything.  every trajectory.  it’s my story.

NO BALLOONS is a song of the times.  especially for someone who listened to john denver, james taylor, carole king, joni mitchell, bread, loggins and messina, america, england dan & john ford coley, the carpenters – the A-team of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-interlude-chorus.  simple melodies, simple instrumentation, simply written, simply sung.

i can’t believe i didn’t write it in the vein of led zeppelin or kiss.  it should have been a screaming heavy metal song, full of pointed weapons of anguish, of power-stripped anger.  instead, it sounds like a sweet love-gone-bad song, “you take away my hopes, my dreams, you give me no balloons to fly.”  only it’s not.  it’s about no air.  no breath.

“and now with my eyes closed, i no longer see the pain in yours or feel it in mine…”  and that was a product of the times as well.  i closed my eyes and silenced my voice.  i stopped feeling it.  or did i?  “and i cried as long as the rain lasted and when it stopped i stopped.” was it really that simple?

until this week i really never thought i would share this song again.  after all, the song is 40 years old; i’m an alto, perched firmly on the tenor shore.  but somehow, between the #MeToo movement and the swirling-around-us-in-the-world-contention and public court battles in recent media and the lack of regard for those who truly need help or healing and my aunt’s texted article and the weeping inside of my younger-self and my silenced-silence, it felt like it was time to be vulnerable and candid and believe that our muddy-boots-narratives might make a difference for someone else.

we each have a story, a timeline, an arc that takes us through this life.  things we want to remember in detail, things we desperately want to forget.  things we have lived boisterously out loud, things we have lived in despairing silence.  the tapestry that holds all these threads together is the soul of our experience, the way we can hear others and truly listen, the empathy we can employ in a world that seems to cite MeFirst instead of UsTogether.

i wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.  i’m pretty sure that every day since those-dark-days-in-the-late-70s i have both been affected and have effected because of them.  i have made choices and non-choices, taken action and had reflexive reaction.  i have searched for answers.

but i also know that my heart was blown open.  i am not standing on a different rung of the ladder, too high up to understand or remember, too discurious to ask, too blinded to see, too discriminating or apathetic to care.

i am next to anyone who needs me to listen, really listen.  i am next to anyone who needs me to jump and catch their balloons before they have flown too far to reach.

 

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read DAVID’S thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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NO BALLOONS ©️ 1980 kerri sherwood