Interview with a Madman

Recently a friend (who has asked to be anonymous) asked me one of the most amazing questions anyone has ever asked about my music. The ensuing conversation fgascinated me so much I asked them if I could write about it and they agreed. I’ve redacted some sensitive and personal information but here it is almost in its entirety. We’ll call them CCD for obvious reasons.

CCD: Can you explain your music to me?  First off, I am tone deaf (this is literal as my ear bones are fused) so I'm trying to understand how the melody and harmony of your music works together.

CRT: Wow! Great question. So do you enjoy music in general or certain types or is it all just noise to you? Answer honestly as it will help me answer you better. And I won’t get offended. 😆

CCD: I do enjoy all types of music.  Actually, I really love music.  It's very emotional.  But the kind that you and {REDACTED} make seem chaotic to me.  I think I need a deeper understanding of what is going on so I can process it.  I may not be hearing it properly so my brain cannot interpret it as it was designed.

CRT: Ahhhhhh ok. No you’re hearing it just fine. Let me ask you this: what was your favorite music and who were your favorite bands when you were ages 13-16?

CCD: Well I’ve known {REDACTED} since college, so I have watched his music evolve. He introduced me to musician I hadn't heard before, Like Kate Bush and Lush. Ok. Um...  Well....  Do we have to back in time to the 80's? 

CRT: Yeah! Hahaha!

CCD: I grew up in New Orleans, so aside from the popular 80's music, I also liked Jazz, R&B, and zydeco.

CRT: Oh cool! I didn’t know that!

CCD: I didn't listen to Country/Western until I moved to Texas in 86'. I didn’t gravitate to that stuff until the last 5-7 years. Now I’m amazed by it. Always listened to classical.

CRT: Ok. Reason I ask is that musical tastes and inclination is formed around age 14 or so for most people. Definitely for me. I’ve been revisiting a lot of 80’s new wave and pop from when I was 14 and it’s still alive to me. But I’ve also gotten into newer stuff as it comes out.

CCD: Ah, so we should dive into the 80's deeper then?

CRT: Hah! I’d love to but that might be another interview in and of itself. Now, to finally answer your question. My wife views this type of music as very cerebral and masculine in a lot of ways. But she likes it. And the people who make stuff like this are 90% males. Now there are some women doing this but not a whole lot.

CCD: Wait, that is cool to know. I agree with your wife here.

CRT: Yeah she’s smart. Introduced me to Brian Eno, Leon Russell and Dr. John. See ultimately what I’m looking for in my music is a way to fuse my love of melody and harmony with the weird stuff.

CCD: Sweet!

CRT: I’d say a big factor in my music and your friend’s is the use of repetition, drone and cycling sounds to induce a semi-hypnotic state. Which is clear from that first song of his I played

CCD: He is very mathematical. Like genius.

CRT: Ok! Yeah! Now a lot of these cats who like this stuff are mathematically inclined unlike me. But they all come to programming and technical stuff easily. Which is why they can work in the musical programming langauges with ease. Whereas a lot of sequential logic has evaded me for a long time.

CCD: Yes, he is also a programmer.  Cool stuff.

CRT: So there you go.

CCD: Wait, to go back to sequential logic in music - 

CRT: Ok, Shoot.

CCD: What is it?

CRT: Well you need it for certain basic things like verse chorus structure, music theory and stuff like that.

CCD: This sounds very complex.

CRT: Well sequential logic is actually simple. You use it all the time without thinking. Cooking, dressing, etc. If things go out of order you have problems. But when you get into the more electronic stuff it gets very reliant on it.

CCD: I’m reading it for circuitry.  But now you are applying it to motor planning.

CRT: YES EXACTLY!!! Are you a PT? I learned it through doing yoga.

CCD: I have two sons with motor planning disorders.

CRT: Ah ok then. I learned about it through a pt working with my mom after her stroke. And yoga taught me motor planning I.e. sequential logic applied to human physiology. You dig? I really came to understand how to use and move my body outside of the regular things. It was no longer just a vehicle for walking to work or sex or whatever.

CCD: Yes, it's a lot like a stroke.   So I do kind of get what you are saying with the music. I may have to understand what the musician was thinking when making it then?

CRT: Wait have you done yoga? And if not you should. Might help your boys, too.

CCD: All inputs and outputs (historical) also help decide what is next in the song?

CRT: Whoa that’s a good question. Yes. Kinda. That’s my initial answer.

CCD: The boys do OT.  Yoga would totally be impossible because they can't stop moving for sensory input needs.

CRT: Ok. You said it was like motor planning. So what’s their overarching diagnosis? Autism? Or is that part of it?

CCD: My oldest son is global dyspraxia.   It affects his speech and movement.  But not his cognitive ability (but it does make it the cognitive process slower, but not inaccurate).  He is actually very good at math, but awful at reading. My youngest son is awaiting dx.  Not as bad at older son.  Has issue with crossing the midline and sensory integration.  Speech and cognitive processes intact. For us, it is genetic.  My brother and his children also have some form.  We also have Auditory Processing Disorder (notice I said we, because I have it too).  I have 3 out of 4 kids with it, plus 3 cousins.

CRT: Wow!

CCD: But, we all love music.  My youngest son loves ELO, REO Speedwagon.  My youngest daughter loves Electronica, like her dad. My oldest daughter liked this opera death rock in high school but has mellowed a bit now. I'll have to look more into the physiology of music.   My son's are listing to TLP.  Have you heard of it?  Music that helps the brain?

CRT: Wow! That’s fascinating! The human brain is a weird and wonderful landscape. So how does that APD manifest? I had an employee who couldn’t learn stuff verbally. Training her was a nightmare. Had to let her go when a mistake of hers cost me $1,600. Agony for her of course but for me as I felt such guilt firing her (Yeah my employee was also probably really high all the time). I’ve got ADD which was diagnosed midway through my post-graduate year. I’m a better auditory learner but also kinetic.

CCD: For APD, the person afflicted with it needs to get speech therapy or a home program where they can learn to isolate foreground sounds from background noises.   Some types of OTC hearing aids in work situations can help with this.

CRT: Ah ok. Interesting.

CCD: They also have to watch everything the speaker says. And write everything down.  And ask for all materials in advance so they can learn at home before being formally taught.

CRT. Ok that makes sense. CRT: Is the issue that certain sounds can’t be isolated?

CCD: Yeah if I don’t have my meds I’m easily distracted especially by sound. There is actually several kinds of APD. 31 flavors do to speak.

  1. Sounds drop out from words.
  2. The person can't hear spaces and everything runs together
  3. Both ears won't work together
  4. Both ears can't work separately.

My son has 3 out of 4.  My daughter and I only have 1. It's really fucked up. But like I said, Dx'ed early and you get the therapy so you learn to deal with it when you become an adult. When you were dx'ed with ADD what did they do for you? I'm learning a lot about ADD just with my kids in OT.   Like the fact, that ADD is Dx'ed when the real issue was APD or VPD. Or was SPD.

CRT: I was given Ritalin and a little instruction on how to learn and cope with it. Afterwards I went to a place called Learning Strategies where they actually re-taught me how to learn using my skills. Very helpful.

CCD: Ok so music?

CRT. Hah! How to make sense of what me and your friend make?Hmmm...

CCD: Wait, tell me how your music affects you.

CRT: Good question!

CCD: Like, what does it do for you emotionally?   Does it sedate you?  Get you ramped up?

CRT: It depends. I’m weird because I listen to my own music more than most musicians do. I use it to zone out to or as background noise sometimes. I think it’s best suited to soundtrack, TV or film scores. It’s hard because I think it works best when people don’t listen to it directly.

CCD: {REDACTED} also is bipolar, and uses music as therapy.

CRT: Interesting. Me, too.

CCD: So you mean put it on and vacuum or do the laundry a few times? Like not pay attention, just have it in the background?

CRT: Yes exactly! You must have a little laundry with 3-4 kids right? Hah! Though it does bear up to direct examination I think.

CCD: My whole house is laundry. It’s easier when the kids can do it on their own. Already training #2 for that. I just want them all driving a car by 5th grade.

CRT: Hah!

CCD: Well, thanks for explaining the music to me. {REDACTED} is neat, but he has a genius complex that can sometimes make it hard for him to  compassionately explain something to the uneducated. And if you ever get another employee with APD, let me know.  I'll help you work with them.

CRT: Lol cool. I don’t think I answered you at all though.

CCD: I do think I understood it better.  The motorplanning analogy was a big help.

CRT: Oh good!



Dude: Take Your Meds!


A few weeks ago I was feeling edgy and weird. Like... More than my usual weird. Like instead of my usual thoughts, for example, 'They should remake 'The Cat from Outer Space' with Jeremy Irons as the cat and Daniel Day Lewis reprising the Ken Berry role' it was more like 'If I have to use the chip reader at Walgreens I am going to burn everything in my site to the ground including the ice cream case.'

Yeah. Like that. 

Sadly I couldn't pinpoint the reason. Not immediately, any way.

Work was not any more stressful than usual. Home life good. Kid good. Dog good. Music good. All good. So why was I a fiery monster one second then a blubbering mess the next?

Honestly here what happened one night: my wife was watching a show and "Why can't I touch it?" by The Buzzcocks comes on and I started to tear up. A lot. And I asked her in a soppy, blubbering voice if she can make sure this is played at my funeral if I were to 'go first.' She looks at me and says "Sure, but I don't think that's happening right now." Which was true. But I took this to mean something about her disregarding my intense emotional state and my sensitivity and why was she doing this and couldn't she see and hear I was crying and why am I putting up with this crapola and on and on and on... I went from tears to angry in less than a minute then grumbled around the house for a while hoping se might notice how wrong she was by my ogre-ish pouting.

Eventually she asked me what was wrong and I attempted to educate her on how wrong she was for not seeing my emotional state. Needless to say it backfired and again she asked what was wrong with perhaps a bit more pointed concern. And for the life of me I couldn't come up with a valid reason other than that she was so very wrong in that moment. 

A few days later, during a subsequent doctors visit where I received some unwelcome news - just the doctor telling me my blood pressure and weight were the same as Krakatoa just before it blew (okay not her exact words but...) - I realized I'd been feeling scattered, paranoid and freaked out all the time.

Then it occurred to me that I hadn't taken my meds in a week. 


See I'm on Lexapro which isn't too strong but then again my depression isn't either. I just need something to keep me up outta the depths and it does the job. But when I go off it I start to get a little edgy, a little emotional and a little... "blustery" as my mom calls it. And damned if I didn't seem to, ahem, "accidentally" go cold turkey off them for a week. Oops.

Of course I let the damn refill go with no intention of stopping my treatment but, hey, life is life and sometimes it seems too hard to make that call or email the doctor and get a refill. Which is dumb. Even if you're depressed like me and something so trivial can seem insurmountable. But then so much of a depressive's life is, right? Like keeping up on dumb stuff like prescription refills, mental health and not being a giant baby taking yourself and everyone else on an emotional roller coaster ride for a week.

Upon getting that refill I took my pill, sat quietly and tried not to feel like too much of an asshole. Which is hard when you do the dumb thing, are depressive AND prone to thinking you aren't worth squat sometimes. But within a day or two the edgy, weird feeling was gone, I was no longer irritable for no reason nor convinced there was a small conspiracy to keep me from having a good day. 

I was still, however, a little embarrassed and a little ashamed that I'd let it slide. I apologized to my wife and explained to her what had happened. And because she is kind, loving, gracious and evolved she didn't call me a dumbass, a dingdong nor a jerk for all my exclamations nor my not keeping up on my prescriptions. 

Thank God.

So this is really just a long roundabout way to say take the time, folks, and make sure you've got your prescriptions up to date and filled especially if your particular strain of mental health is more potent than mine. So stay on top of it, okay?

Adios. Be well.