This is an interesting one for me.
You see, it seems I discovered the wonderful world of anxiety attacks the summer of 2014. I’m not sure why they started coming on. My wife had gotten a new job that had her traveling quite a bit. That might have been a part of it, with me being the only adult at home with three kids to make sure they were okay and not kidnapped by marauders or succumb to the pressures of peer pressure while I was at work. But really, I’ve never been one to fold under pressure when it comes to keeping everyone safe and sound, fed and clean, and generally warm with a roof over their heads. I pretty much handle the homebody duties and always have. Curse of the anal-retentive I suppose.
So, even though the wife was going to be gone for four days I felt I had a handle on things. She left on a Sunday and that Monday morning I went to work as usual, no big deal. But sitting at my desk I suddenly had this feeling the world was folding in on me. It was like tunnel vision, with everything narrowing in front of me and I suddenly had this overwhelming feeling of fear come crushing down on me. I got up from my desk and just walked around the dock like a madman trying to walk it off. I went outside and thought maybe some fresh air would help me, but about 2 minutes into my meandering I thought how horrible it would be for me to just fall over dead at work outside, which then caused more fear to bubble up.
Eventually the feeling subsided and I just felt incredibly wore out and like I was getting a cold. I only had to go to work for one more day that week as I took the rest of the week off in order to take my two youngest clothes shopping(yeah, in hindsight that was a really stupid idea.) So Tuesday went okay, then Wednesday morning came and after we dropped my oldest off to band camp the two youngest and I headed to Fort Wayne for some school shopping. Traffic was dreadful as half way to the Fort road crews were working on the highway which caused about a 25 minute crawl(totally not good for the impatient.) We finally made it to Fort Wayne and of course the mall isn’t open yet. Figuring out what to do for an hour, we decided to head over to Target. They have clothes…they have school supplies. We made our way in and as we walked up to the boys clothing dept that feeling came back. The tunnel vision, the darkening edges, and the overbearing fear. Except this time I was an hour from home with my then 9 year old and 11 year old. I quickly just grabbed a couple pair of jeans and some shirts for my son to try on. We made our way back to the dressing rooms and he went in as my daughter and I sat on a bench outside the dressing room. A phone kept ringing in the area somewhere which was driving me nuts. I just kept talking to my daugther in order to keep my head from spinning off my body into the blackness of space(or retail.) The feeling subsided and we left empty handed(who the hell knows what sizes of clothes I grabbed for my son…poor guy.)
It was pretty clear that we weren’t going to be successful in school clothes shopping, so I decided we’d go look at books and hit up Neat Neat Neat Records downtown. I’d told my oldest we’d look for some books for her and I didn’t want to come home empty handed after she’d been outside sweating, marching in formation all day. I’d also asked Morrison at NNN to hold a couple first pressing Cure records, Wish and Faith. Couldn’t not grab those. Afterwards we snag some lunch before heading back home.
We made our way to S. Calhoun St and parked. As we walked up to NNN we noticed a hand written sign that basically said “I forgot my laptop. Be right back.” So we meandered in front of the store for 10 minutes or so, then Morrison rolled up and happily let us in to the store. The kids know the rules when we head into a record store, which are as follows: 1. Touch nothing 2. No running 3. I said don’t touch anything, dammit! So by now they’re pros at entertaining themselves as daddy gets lost in the stacks of vinyl. It was a great grounding experience going in there after the morning’s anxiety. It felt good to talk to Morrison, about anything. We talked retail, vinyl, bands, Public Radio stations, and of course The Cure. I was super excited to get Wish and I had recently started falling for Faith, one of the most underrated Cure albums in my opinion(next to The Top, maybe.) Morrison is one of those guys that knows music. Not in a smarmy “I’m better than you” sort of way. But in a way that he can recommend something to me that I didn’t know about previously that I will actually like. That doesn’t happen much for me anymore(yeah, that sounded kind of smarmy, didn’t it?) What I’m trying to say is that Morrison is a dude that knows music, inside and out. He’s a year younger than me so we can relate to the middle-aged guy thing pretty well, and he’s working on making an album that’s very much influenced by Tangerine Dream’s Rubycon. He’s a cool dude.
While the kids sat on the couch in the hi-fi room, Morrison told me about a huge collection he’d gotten from the Public Radio station. He said he hadn’t even gone through it yet, but that I was welcome to go through it and see if there was anything I was interested in. Of course I can’t pass that up, so I started rummaging through it when I came across New Sounds In Electronic Music. I like electronic music, and new sounds are always inviting so I stopped looking at that point and pulled this one out of the pile. I knew with those Cure albums I’d hit my monetary limit so one more record was icing on the cake. Or the cherry on top of the sundae. Something like that. Morrison threw me a number for the album and I happily agreed. I gathered up the spins and the kids and we headed out.
Once we were home for good with the oldest in tow(happy at the books she had waiting for her) and pizza to chow down on, we settled in for the night and I threw the album on the turntable. Reich’s “Come Out” was a social commentary piece he’d done in the 60s as a statement towards Civil Rights and the treatment of peaceful black protesters by thuggish cops. It’s also Reich’s early works in musical experimentation regarding phasing. Starting two tape decks out at the same time, then letting them start to phase out of time. To some I’m sure it’s annoying to listen to, but to me it’s absolutely mesmerizing to get lost in. The Richard Maxfield piece “Night Music” is analog bleeps and chirps. Maxfield was one of the pioneers of avante garde electronic music, and his piece shows that. It’s not something you’d put on at parties(maybe you would, just don’t invite me to that party unless some Xanax is involved.) Pauline Oliveros’ “I Of IV” is rather spellbinding. Once again not for everyone, but when I listen to the entire 20 minute span of this piece I can get lost in its depths quite easily. I do listen to it on headphones as I know the family doesn’t share my enthusiasm. Oliveros is another pioneer of electronic music. I even hipped White Hills to this track, as it reminded me of some of their more expansive, spacey instrumental pieces.
The album itself was appealing to me for the fact that Steve Reich was on it. I’d really gotten into Reich over the previous winter, so that was a plus. I’d never heard of Richard Maxfield or Pauline Oliveros, but with song titles like “Night Music” and “I Of IV” I knew I couldn’t go wrong. But more than anything; more than the music or the mind-expanding sounds in those grooves, the most important thing about this record was just the find. It was the feeling of being anchored back to earth while searching through that box. This record could’ve been some classical work, or an old Thelonious Monk Riverside LP. What it was didn’t matter as much as just me finding something. It deflated the earlier panic and let me get back to feeling normal(or as normal as I get.) That’s what is so great about this LP. It’s an added bonus that I really dug the music and the composers.
Since then I’ve gotten control of the panic, no prescription meds required. I’m just trying to not get overwhelmed. I’m pushing some of those homebody responsibilities onto those kids of mine who are now old enough to do those kinds of things. Exercise helps in alleviating some of that stress, too. And beer.
I just had to let some of the bruise blood come out.