Altitude Sickness

Altitude Sickness

The novelty of having done things well in my recent relationship foray has worn off . . . and I’ve started to chafe against the fact that my plunge into “Mutual Nurture” was so easily aborted. This is the time when I would normally slide into what my sainted Irish mother would call the “Slough of Despond.”

So to avoid slipping into a serious case of the screw-its, I have taken to living with stupendous discipline. Every night I am in bed with my Kindle at 9 p.m. At 10 p.m. I put down the Kindle and go to sleep (the 10-10:30 p.m. window affords me my best chance of sleeping eight hours, as slim as that chance may be).

I wake up, usually somewhere between six and seven hours after dropping off to sleep, get up, warm up, do ab work, feed Pip (my slasher guinea pig), meditate, write down all my goals-aspirations-principles, ride my cycle trainer during an episode of M*A*S*H, stretch, practice my taekwondo patterns, check my bank accounts, review my schedule for the day, ski, lift, shower, eat, head out to work, drag home, meditate, practice guitar, bass, and piano, meditate, schedule the next day, read, sleep, rinse, repeat.

I try to keep my days full and my head empty.

In the interest of this, I joined the Grace Church Rutland Community Choir to sing Mozart’s “Requiem” (a piece I have neither performed nor heard all the way through). The last time I sang classical music or read notes from a page was 25 years ago. I was pretty good. In fact, I was kind of hot shit. Upon hearing this, some who know me would say, “Jeez Brady, what weren’t you hot shit at?”

The answer to that is: algebra.

To this day, I hate it. Abstract mathematics is the most ridiculous farce created by man. Apply algebra to physics? Presto! It all makes perfect sense. I can do physics all day long . . . all night, too. I love physics. Yet I know in my heart that algebra is the orphan offspring of Satan and an emotionally stunted Orangutan.

Anyhow, I could have gone to conservatory if I wanted, but as many youth do, I took my skills entirely for granted, left them fallow on the shelf and, instead, chain-smoked cigarettes while preparing to be a professional actor (a thing I was far less good at but, of course, I went to conservatory for that).

So here I am 25 years later, having never touched music since (nor have I acted, for that matter)—a hotshot who once sight-read Handel’s “Messiah” on stage with an orchestra—struggling through Mozart’s “Requiem” with a community choir (several of whom know the piece cold). There is no playing through the parts before we sing them. We are expected to just sing them. As another rusty singer like myself put it, it is “like drinking through a fire hose.”

It was frustrating, and I was going to quit, but one thing kept me coming back. At the end of the first rehearsal, the accompanist said, “So, you have performed this piece before!”

Stunned, I said, “No, I haven’t, in fact I haven’t read music in 25 years.”

She raised her eyebrows and said something I don’t remember. But—she thought I had performed it before! I was flattered! So I didn’t suck too badly . . . and maybe singing one of the biggest, longest, darkest dirges ever written will help me feel better. But as Bleedin’ Gums Murphy said during the first season of “The Simpsons,” “Playin’ the blues ain’t about feelin’ better. It’s about makin’ other people feel worse. And makin’ some money while you do it.”

Hmmm, wrong track? Maybe I should run the Vermont 100 this year.

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