People who know me really well have me pegged as a cantankerous person, not easily moved – or at least too stubborn to show it.
They’re right. But why?
My high intelligence prevents me from publicly showing the emotion
Wow – that’s obscenely conceited. Here’s what I mean:
I am very aware of “normal” – and it is boring.
Even being “suitably unconventional” is boring. I’m too intelligent for that, or so I think. Crying, for an adult, is occasionally normal – even offensive if it doesn’t occur at the right stimilus, like watching Shindler’s List or losing a pet.
So here’s a story to prove two things: 1) that my armor is not as impregnable as people think and 2) that I too can be oh-so-boring:
1998, Amherst, MA
I spent my first semester in grad school at UMass Amherst studying music composition privately with Sal Macchia. He was a great teacher. I was working on this 8-minute piece for small mixed rock-ish ensemble – double reed winds, 2 soprano voices, guitar/acoustic bass/drums. It had been in my head for years. I now was mature enough to execute on it.
After finishing I arranged a reading of it with a pick-up band made of student players. I could only get one singer – this undergrad diva (you see it coming, dontcha?) named something-or-other (can’t remember). She came into the rehearsal room with an attitude. I’d given her a week to look through her part. I told her she’d have to sing through a mic. Well, her attitude was evident to everyone throughout. When I couldn’t hear her sing above the rest of the ensemble, I nicely tried to move the mic closer to her. She gave that look like “excUUUSE me?”
Though unsettling, the rehearsal overall was good enough to outweigh her dissapointing attitude. I had proved to my acoustic ears that my inner ears had composed the right piece of music (I wrote this piece without aid of an instrument – all in the head, like a big boy).
The next day, she left her score in my campus mailbox, with a note complaining that the piece “was very deceiving” and some other unkind stuff. I didn’t even know what “deceiving” meant – was she complaining that it wasn’t like the light and gay opera music she normally sings? My teacher Sal thought that she meant “deceivingly difficult” or something. But he was just trying to be nice. He agreed she was a useless no-talent hack (she certainly wasn’t) to sooth my pouty mood.
So when the bus dropped me off at my stop that afternoon, and I walked the 2 miles up Leverett Road to my and my wife’s basement apartment in the country, I started pouting, then flat out crying. Ugh. And there’s no psycho-babble theory I can quote you to explain why I cried – no complex “adult” weave of emotions that justify an adult crying. My feelings were hurt, and I cried. Like a little baby.
But I’m not sure I wouldn’t react the same now. Its different when someone disses your creation. I take unfathomable amounts of crap now every day at work – but it rolls off me because its just a job. And arguably my job, in large part, is to take crap and react calmly. But that’s work. Music is personal.
Now you may ask: “What the heck does this have to do with me?“
I’ve come a long way since then and I’m devoting every waking free work hour I have that’s not eaten up by a job or a family member to creating exciting & perturbing new music for you, my fans. Its a journey that has been bumpy and I just want to ask you one favor as you join this exclusive club of crazies: be kind – I hurt easily 🙂
I want you t hear my most recent milestone in that journey: click hear listen to ‘Super Brain’.
Talk to you soon