Well, I think writing is basically about time and rhythm. Like with jazz. You have your basic melody and then you just riff off of it. And the riffs are about timing. Kathy Acker
The Harvard Dictionary of Music defines a riff in jazz as a brief, relaxed, tuneful phrase repeated over changing harmonies. It may serve as both accompaniment or as the melody. That is what my life is about with riffs of cancer and residual effects of weakness from Guillain Barré Syndrome (“GBS”). The current riff is my right vocal cord is severely paralyzed. My voice is husky or just straight up hoarse. I have fevers at night. I had a CAT scan and a biopsy scheduled that turns out had to be cancelled. My doctors have become concerned. This is the second time in 5 years that I have had a suspicious lymph node on my right side. My cancer was on the left. If that isn’t disconcerting enough, I have to deal with health professionals who have become tainted and hardened in the process. This makes for a really emotionally draining situation.
Some folks that don’t know anything about cancer figure that I am in the clear. They don’t know what to do or say, oft-times they try to make light of the situation. For me, this riff is asserting itself in insidious ways. I would be a perfect medical scenario for the brilliant, uncouth Dr. House on television. I am teetering on the brink of death or at least a life changing wake of frustration, disappointment and unrelenting attentiveness and most of all I am off key. Dad taught me that jazz like life is all about the timing. Knowing when to: start, stop, wait, pick up the pace, hang tough and the master of them all—patience. Throughout jazz’s lifetime, the Church has been a predominant part of its culture. The spirituals were at its conception. Mom and I prayed a lot together when dad was in a coma, he pulled through. My brother made a tape of his music and we put earphones on him and it played continuously. Initially when he woke from the coma, he could not see, but the soft smile on his face was proof that jazz breathed life back into him. So who am I to challenge that same grace in my life? This riff’s got a heavy beat now. This time no matter what changes are thrown at me, I am convinced that faith will prevail and no matter what remains in its wake, I can play the heck out of this solo. Peace Out!