Monday, September 22, 2008

Probably one of the best concert moments ever...

Friday night I took my Dad to see Chris Botti play with the Boston Pops and "special guests" for the filming of a PBS special. Dad and I are both Botti fans, which we have proven by the four times we've seen him in the last 16 months. The special guests, however, were just as alluring: Sting, Yo-Yo Ma, John Mayer and Michael Buble. Buble ultimately did not show, but what unfolded otherwise has become what I think is one of those concert moments I'll treasure forever.

The show started at 7:30 and went splendidly for the first 90 minutes or so. We saw Sting, Yo-Yo Ma, Katherine McPhee, some jazzy chick I barely recall, Josh Groban's violinist...all performed duets with Chris Botti and his band with the Pops as the back-up band. Then John Mayer came out and started his song. And all hell broke loose. Seems a guy in the third row chose that moment to have a heart attack. I heard "No Pulse" and saw a flurry of activity both in the area of the now-dead guy and the stage, where all the performers scurried off-stage. A long 12 minutes later, the medics showed and shuffled a newly-defibrillated conscious patient off. As thrilling as it was that he appeared to have been resuscitated, however permanently, the life was sucked out of the room. Understandably. How would the performers come back and finish? I guess that's the same question that was being bandied about back-stage.

Immediately the orchestra came back and the stage hands set four chairs up center stage with mics at each. Chris Botti came out and expressed exactly my sentiments: "what to do?" He put the question to his mentor Sting and Sting told him to "let the music heal". Sting and Chris had faced a similar conundrum as they prepared to film Sting's DVD All This Time in Tuscany on September 11, 2001. Ultimately as a band they decided to continue the taping as a catharsis, as a way not to let the terrorists win, as a way to find something normal in a harried situation. And so they did this on this night as well.

Out came Sting, his guitarist Dominic Miller and Yo-Yo Ma. Each took a seat with Chris at center stage. And they began an impromptu acoustic version of Fragile, which just so happens to be my favorite (solo) Sting song ever. And it was absolutely perfect for this situation, with a room full of 2600 people who'd just seen exactly how fragile we are. But what was amazing was that here were four people who hadn't planned to play this song, three of whom hadn't played it together in years, and indeed I don't think Yo-Yo Ma ever had played it, yet it sounded as though they'd played this song together forever. It was heavenly. It was beautiful. It was cathartic. When it was over, Sting, Ma and Miller quietly left the stage and Chris asked us all to let out a big exhale, which the entire room did. It was just what we needed to let the night continue. I only hope it makes the video of this night.

Not ten minutes later, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith blew the roof off Symphony Hall, a release which I think we needed just as much as we needed the deep sigh. But for me, the night belonged to Fragile.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Update on the knee -- the stages of grief

As I struggle in my exercise of self-restraint (about the only exercise I’m getting these days), I realized that this whole knee thing is more than just getting the knee better but also an illustration of the stages of grief. You see, I’ve realized that I’m mourning the loss of my bike, exercise and feeling good generally. I’ve been off the bike now for over 3 weeks and have done very limited exercise otherwise (upper body, abs and a play around on the elliptical, which probably wasn’t a smart idea). But over the last few weeks I’ve seen myself traipsing through the proverbial phases of grief…case in point:

Denial. Denial abounds with me; those who know me well are not surprised. On the day in question, 15 miles from home I feel tearing pain in my knee, and I continue to ride through it. The next day, with a knee the size of a grapefruit, I teach a class, on the bike. And I teach again the next day too. Surely I wasn’t as injured as someone who needs to not do anything…right? Yes, that worked out not so well for me.

Acceptance. So three weeks of pretending nothing is wrong finds me in the office of my orthopedic surgeon. Things I’m sure he thought but didn’t say are in italics. You have an overuse injury because you were stupid. It’s not going to get better if you keep pushing it because that would be stupid. I’m going to prescribe more drugs which because you are stupid you stopped taking and tell you to ice it aggressively which you also stopped doing because you are foolish. I’m also going to tell you to stay off the bike, not fully bend or extend the knee or do anything that causes pain or swelling for another 2 to 3 weeks because I wouldn’t have to tell an individual with common sense that, but because, well, you’ve demonstrated that you are a bit short on common sense, I have to say these things. So with a $25 co-payment for this office visit, I took the prescribed course of treatment and his reality check and ran. I’d do all he said because now I know what this is and surely it will get better. I’ll be back on the bike in no time.

Bargaining. After five days of the new drugs and ice I did not see an improvement. Even after a week of drugs and ice I still do not see an improvement. So over the weekend (day five and six of drugs and ice), I found myself bargaining with whomever in my head is listening that I would give up candy corn, I would give up my ridiculous crush on you-know-who (which I should do anyway but that’s a story for another blog), I would be a better person, I would be more realistic in my workouts, I would eat better and do all sorts of crazy-but-probably-should-do-anyway things. If you would JUST

Let Me
Back on the bike

Depression. No beans. Another 48 hours and no change. I’m no closer to the bike than I was a week ago. So I wallowed in a one pound bag of candy corn and a bottle of Bedell Cellars Red (I’d recommend a lighter white if you’re thinking of mixing the two…maybe a sauv blanc?) Depression lasted about 2 days as I cried myself through movies that were good but not THAT good and rotated the ice pack from upper to lower knee. And on the odd occasion I'd go into the bike room/litter box room and pat my Specialized on the handlebars and try not to look at the odometer which is calling me to push it over 1000. It's not your fault's all me.

Anger. So now here I am. I haven’t had a meaningful workout in 4 weeks. I haven’t had any outlet to burn off stress. I’m tired of sleeping with it on a pillow, tired of having freezer burn from “aggressive icing”, tired of thinking about how to take stairs and not twist the wrong way. Tired of coaching off the bike (as cool as it is and as much as my members actually like it) to rides I’d much rather be riding myself. Frankly, this bites. I’m fed up and angry. I’m LOSING weight, which I’m assuming is muscle mass, which could be a good thing because apparently I've proven that consuming a one pound bag of candy corn in less than 4 hours has no ill effect when you have no life at the gym anymore.

Blame. All this because I am stupid. I've got no one to blame but myself and my own foolishness.

I’m not sure what phase is next, but this is getting old. Granted, this is a mere speck on the radar compared to where I was about a year ago this month, so I know I should be thankful that this is not dire or actually life-threatening. And I am, believe me. But I just want that piece of my life back. I want the joy back in my legs and the opportunity to enjoy the crisp fall weather outside. I want to be able to ride that one really good new hill song I added to my repertoire for class. And I just want to walk more than 10 minutes without swelling and pain.

But I’ll shut up now and wait it out. Maybe two to three more weeks of self-restraint will make a difference.