I was supposed to be writing this blog from the sky while on a plane to London. It was going to be about how excited I was to record 3 songs for my album with Phil Thornalley. I started packing a week ahead of time for the trip.
God says “Ha” at the most curious times.
If you follow me, you know I have pretty steady intermittent laryngitis. Last week I lost my voice yet again but this time it wasn’t garden variety laryngitis. Something else was up.
Got scoped for the 4th time since the new year and Dr. said my vocal cords had a hemorrhage — which is a scary word for a blood vessel that burst. He said it was small. But still. No likey.
I knew right then there would be No London. No tour of Abbey Road. Wahh.
I said Dr! Please let me go. I won’t sing. We’ll just work on the tracks. He looked at me as if to say who are you kidding?
First stage of grief: Denial.
Not a peep for 7-10 says. Not a whisper. It’s a Gag order. Roger Stone.
This wasn’t going to be easy for a girl who likes to gab. It makes my recent false eyelash extension fiasco seem like feh.
What happened next is I cried all the way home from his office. I was 8 years old and someone cancelled my birthday party. Inconsolable.
Even the Michael Cohen hearings didn’t cheer me up.
What will I tell Phil? And…it remained to be seen whether I’d be cleared to fly for the remainder of my travels next week — Zurich, NY and Nashville. But scarier, what if my voice never returns?
After spending the day in emotional triage, I decided that I couldn’t sit around for a week and cry. I grabbed a white board and went to candlelight yoga. But I cried all the way through that. Then I got myself a massage. I cried all the way through that too!
A good night’s sleep does wonders. In the morning I knew a sense of order would be good for my soul. So I tidied. I purged my kitchen utensil drawer. I lit candles. I burned aromatherapy oil and listened to meditation music. I made soup.
Adam thought this might be a welcomed reprieve from our usual exchange about his clutter, and cat poop in the kitchen trash! What?
Thankfully, we live in the age of the Smartphone on which we can text. And that’s how we proceeded to communicate. (oh and please don’t message me about that text to speech app. It’s robotic and indiscernible half the time. No, thank you.)
My friend Jorge was flat on his back in West Hollywood with his own problems. Misery loves company so I headed over. What a pair we were! I brought him some weed for his pain. He’s the 49 year-old virgin — never smoked in his life! I witnessed him pop his cherry. This cheered me up.
Then I came home and watched a Netflix movie called “HEAL” which poses the question, “What is this condition trying to tell me?” I DON’T FUCKING KNOW! I SHOULDN’T MAKE MY ALBUM? Maybe it’s telling me I need to meditate on that meditation bench I recently acquired for my yard on which I’ve never actually meditated.
I’d better get started too because I can’t indulge in any of my usual favorite things for coping mechanisms: Mallomars, Titos, ginger and wasabi, coffee, cannabis, apple cider vinegar on watermelon, singing background vocals to Beatles songs in my car! It’s like Lent for a Jewish Girl. I might as well have a lobotomy.
It’s going to be a looooong 7-10 days.
I thought about what Amy Klobuchar said recently about your obstacles being your path.
Let’s put this in perspective. My brave friend Annie has had her health challenged for years. Cedars Sinai is her second home. She always has a smile on her face. So Shelly, WTF? I know. But everything is relative right?
Someday I’ll laugh. (Song title alert!) In the meantime…the larger Universe is more challenging than the one on one with Adam. For example, SONA had a Salon in my home last week and in walked 75 members who I COULDN’T TALK TO! AT ALL.
Mandatory vocal rest is a constant reminder of how we take our voice for granted. I compare it to when there’s a power outage and you keep reaching for a light switch and oops, I forgot. Over and over again.
Breathe Shelly. Just get though this. One day at time.
British Airways said the only excuse they’d accept for refunding a canceled flight is…death. Thankfully that’s not my issue. I paid the fee and fare change and crossed my fingers I’d be cleared to fly next week. My vocal cords weren’t the only thing hemorrhaging. So was my wallet.
Humor aside, it’s lonely here inside my head. It is. It takes effort and patience for someone else to communicate with someone who can’t respond. I feel it. I can see how, in a more chronic situation, people might give up on you.
And for me, on the other side, texting gets tiring. Trying to tap as fast as I think is daunting. And text has no tone. It’s frustrating not to be able to express myself with any nuance.
And then there are the bits and pieces of random thoughts that are above the dignity of a text…”Thank you,” I love you,” “Excuse me”— or thoughts that are too inconsequential to put someone through the trouble of walking over to your phone to read. So a lot gets left unexpressed. Or you hold it inside. Or save it for later but then forget. Silence is exhausting.
Adam and I are that couple in the restaurant who we always make fun of…. sitting there texting. Just goes to show you, you never know the details.
Last night at dinner I went to the ladies room to sneak a little peep just to make sure something came out of my mouth…as if I were looking in a mirror to make sure I still had a reflection. What if nobody’s there?
Truly depressing. So I decided to lay low. It spares me having to make that zip motion over my lips to let people know what the hell is going on. But then my pal Phil Roy called. Said he was in town for his 60th Birthday party. How can I go to a party? But I love Phil. And I miss him. So I went.
Nobody texts each other at parties and I assure you, using a white board sucks the rhythm out of any conversation. Besides, by the time you write down your comment, they’re on to a new topic. So I smiled and nodded a lot. Exaggerated my facial expressions to show my enthusiasm. This sucks. Can we go home now? Honestly, I’d rather be alone than be with people I can’t talk to. I love people.
The next day, I continued Googling about my prognosis. I saw this:
“Your voice is how you express yourself to others,” said Gerald Berke, an international authority on the physiology of the larynx. “If it’s compromised, it impairs your personality and how you interact with the world, which can be overwhelmingly frustrating.”
Exactly! Yes! Thank you! I made an appointment with Dr. Berke. And here’s what he said. He’s not sure it’s a full-on hemorrhage. He feels that a lot of problem can be attributed to Umm, acid reflux. What? It’s hard to believe something you can’t feel or see or taste is causing so much trouble. But I’ve heard other wonderful singers confirm that reflux is the devil. It’s not to be taken lightly.
Of course, I know what this condition is trying to tell me. I do not feel like I’m being punished. I have to take better care of myself. Quiet restaurants. Rest after gigs and hope everyone understands. Voice therapy….work on proper singing technique and breathing. And…I’m gonna have to give up some of those favorite things — martinis and coffee will be the hardest. Sleep upright for a while. It is not the end of the world.
Ok. Pass the Zantac. Hold the onion. I am grateful. Hey Adele, Celine, John Mayer, Keith Urban they’ve all been down this road. I’m in good company.
Phil Thornalley sent me an email saying not to worry. London is lovely in July. He’ll be there. Same said the woman at Abbey Road who offered to show me around when I return.
Two thoughtful Zurich-based songwriters sent me an email with links to walking hikes in picturesque postcard fields and offered to fetch me from my hotel and accompany me so I wouldn’t get lost. Again…tearing up. The kindness of strangers.
I hope this blog wasn’t too much of a downer. I still wish it was about my trip to London. But I try to keep it real in this space and share with you the realities of living the singer-songwriter life. I believe that exchanging information is beneficial. After I shared my dilemma with the Universe I admittedly received a lot of advice I heard before, but I also was lead to healers who enlightened me and lifted my spirits. You know who you are. Thank you.
Every day that you wake up is another wake up call.
The 5th stage to grief is Acceptance.
I’m cautiously excited again — packing for Zurich. And then I’ll get out to that bench to meditate. On second thought, maybe I’ll do that first.