"From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines, going where I list, my own master total and absolute, Listening to others, considering well what they say, Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating, Gently, but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me."
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
"When I look back now over my life and call to mind what I might have had simply for taking and did not take, my heart is like to break."
Akhenaton (d. c.1354 BC)
And now, the current weather, from some random person we pulled off the street:
Friday, January 21, 2005
sleep Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English slepe, from Old English sl[AE]p; akin to Old High German slAf sleep and perhaps to Latin labi to slip, slide
1 : the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored
2 : the state which, if you don't get any, will get you.
If I had known it would lead to crushed metal, teeth through my face, and a cracked sternum, I wouldn't have done it.
The evening I had waited on was here. I had gathered a small group of musicians together, well everything but a bass player, and we were going to drive through the night from Myrtle Beach to Durham, NC where the guy I spoke with four weeks earlier had made arrangements for a studio.
The first thing that happened was that the drummer got all of his equipment inadvertently locked in a club. We scrounged around for a while trying to find another drum set, and finally called the guy in Durham. He said he would round one up, bring it on.
There was a guitarist too, a really talented guy I had been jamming with that played in a band in the Magic Attic. Although he played top 40 for a living, blues were his real love.
We had a couple of other musicians too, but I don't remember them. I'll bet they remember me, though.
We piled into my mom's old Chevy Caprice convertible, one of those huge cars, and hooked an equipment trailer to the back for all our gear. By the time we set out, it was almost 2am.
Which may have been what saved us.
I was heading out of the beach on a back road (all the locals always used back roads, you had to) and this road ended in a "T" shaped intersection where I was going to turn right.
I'm driving normally, everyone is chatting away, and I start to slow down for the corner. I press the brake.
The pedal goes straight to the floor. And I'm not slowing down.
I press it again. Nothing.
I hit the emergency brake. It goes to the floor too, and doesn't help either.
I have no choice but to try to make that turn at 45 miles an hour with a trailer and a car full of people.
"Hold on! There's no brakes!" I scream as we round the corner while I frantically downshift.
I'll never forget the wild eyed look of terror on everyone's faces.
The car screamed around the corner, lifting car and trailer on two wheels. BANG it settled back down onto the road, and I barely kept control of it. Thank God no other cars were coming.
We rolled to a stop. All I could hear was frightened breathing.
"I don't think we're going anywhere," I said.
"You got that right," everyone agreed.
We crawled back to my trailer where I traded the vehicle for a Jeep that would pull the little trailer but was too small for the trip to Durham. I used it to shuttle everyone and their stuff home.
By the time I was done, it was 4am. I called the guy in Durham.
"We can't come," I said. I explained what had happened.
"But how about you, alone? We'll lay down the backup tracks later."
I couldn't say no. "OK, but I need a couple of hours sleep."
"OK, but I've booked the studio for the day starting at 9am, so get here as early as you can."
Three hours of sleep later, I put my guitar in my Spitfire and headed for Durham.
To me, there is nothing quite so boring as a trip through backwoods farmland in the deep southern United States. What is quaint for the first hour and a half, all the old barns and crops and cows and horses, they all start to run together into one big blur. Pretty soon, you're just counting down the towns, and the miles just seem to get longer and longer as the day wears on like a bad itch.
I pulled over at a country grocery to see if I could get some new music, at least, to speed up the trip. Back then you could always find bootleg 8-track tapes, and they ran about $3 or so. I picked up one and headed down the road.
So sleepy. And the 8-track wouldn't track right, I had to keep fiddling with it.
There, got it. So slee...... OH NO!
There in front of me was one of those huge old Ford Galaxy battlewagons. It was stopped, getting ready to turn left (where did a road come from?) and there was only two lanes of road, no median, and no shoulder.
I was going 60, and was twenty feet from it.
I never even had the chance to hit the brake.
I crashed into the car at full speed, my little sports car lifting the rear end of this behemoth that was four times its size right off the ground.
I went through the windshield. This was back before the days when everyone wore seatbelts.
Then, my hip caught on the steering wheel and I came back in through the windshield.
And immediately went through the windshield again.
And back in again.
I lay there stunned and motionless while the steaming mass of metal in front of me screamed to a stop just in front of my face, which seemed like it took forever. Hissing and steam was everywhere.
I pulled my hat up from my face (it had saved me from the windshield, mostly) and went to get out of the car. My legs wouldn't work right, and when I looked down, I could see that the kneecap bone, the patella, had been knocked out of place in both legs by the impact.
In shock, I pushed them both back and got out.
I went to the car in front of me. They were fine except for being shook up.
Then I went and got my guitar out of my car. I walked to the side of the road and pretty much collapsed.
By the time the patrolman arrived I had regained my composure a bit, but I was hurting all over. There was a gouge on the inside of my lip where a tooth had tried its best to leave the scene of the accident, my chest was pretty sore, and one of my feet really hurt too.
He charged me with "failure to stop to avoid collision." Couldn't argue with that.
I called the guy in Durham, which was only 20 miles from where I was. He came to the accident scene.
"Are you OK?" I told him that yes, pretty much, I was alright. "Can you still go into the studio?"
"Uh...I guess. I'm not really up to snuff."
"But you can."
I called my Dad to come to Durham to get me, and we stopped by the Durham courthouse where, on a Sunday at lunchtime, they had the entire trial and everything all ready to go. I plead guilty.
When we got to the studio, after all that, I can't say I was impressed. It was a cut rate affair in some guy's house.
I said that my voice was hoarse because of the accident, and only did a couple of instrumental songs. The guy from Durham was upset. Well, so was I. I never saw him again, and he never gave me so much as a phone call.
Dad picked me up and put me up in a hotel for the night. He drove home the next day, which was fine by me since I was sore in places I didn't know I even had, not to mention having a splitting headache.
Final tally: one tooth mark through lip (the tooth would break off a few years later), two really screwed up knees, a broken toe, a cracked sternum that still tells me when its raining outside, and one very pretty Triumph Spitfire.
Which, amazingly, the insurance company determined to fix.
So I hobbled back to Myrtle Beach to finish the season, banged up, disappointed, and tired.
I went to sleep in the car most of the way home.
Better to get up late and be wide awake than to get up early and be asleep all day.