Chapter 2

THE PARANORMAL

 

- What?!

- “I even dyed my hair blond to be like her!” I told him this in an email. Curiously, when I returned to London in October, he asked me if I’d taken any pictures of me as a blond, since my hair was black once again. He also inquired about my blond friend! I intended to tell him that I had just made the whole thing up, but I didn’t want him to think that I had no one and that I felt alone. He didn’t even wish me a good trip. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be alone in the world! Stupid guy! Are you laughing?!

- You’re fun! I feel bad that you had so many bad times with him because you struggled so hard for everything to run smoothly. Unfortunately, you both had the gift of psychologically disturbing one another: you both were hurt easily! He called you crazy, and then what happened?

- I ask him for help because I was lost trying to get to my platform. In an extremely pissed off manner with a tough tone of voice implying that I should learn to read an underground map, he indicates the direction I should head in order to get to my platform and leaves. I contemplate that in fact I should start learning to like that confusion of colorful lines on the maps and stop asking others for help but my eyes deviate from the map and focus on him. His back is turned to me as he goes up the escalator listening to music on his headphones. I glance at the time and get worried because I have to hurry to get to the airport. My eyes deviate once again – he’s still on the escalator. “Life is going to make you swallow your pride! Go up my open mic friend because one of these days you’re going to go down.” – I thought thinking about the contradictions life deals us.   

- I tell you one thing...He called you crazy and the fact is that you are not like “normal” beings like him who all do the same things and react the same ways believing that they are on the right path to one day reach a special “abnormality”. All his bands have a manager and a label, right? You, however, are alone. You just count on yourself and the destiny you believe in, right? So, let time go by and we’ll see what the future has in store for you. In any case, I believe that he likes you and that although you guys had your misunderstandings the truth is that it was difficult for him to be affectionate towards you: your age difference is quite high, your life experience is different, your stability and professional lives are different, you live in different countries and you both have extremely emotive personalities. When your band came apart, he opted for the easy out: abandonment. He probably even blames you for the band breaking up.

- I think you are right. He evaluates things a lot. For example, during the open mic phase, I bought myself a bracelet which had his birth stone on it. I told him that it was to remember him forever. “How much did it cost? Five pounds?” he asked. He was trying to say that I shouldn’t spend money on futile things. Insinuating that money is an important issue; evaluation of priorities in life is a very important issue. We were silent and then he asked me after a while, “It’s to remember me forever?” I gave him a little paper to read that came with the birth stone: “a natural leader, stubborn and assertive”: He asked me what the last word meant and put the paper in his wallet. On our last open mic gig he showed me that same paper that I gave him days ago with pride. He read it again and promised me that when I returned to London in October he’d take me to a club.

- But this guy didn´t keep his promise and later called you crazy, right?

- He would definitely call me super crazy if he knew what I did once...At the time I was dispatching my Portuguese “Incenso” project via CD to radio stations and to a few TV shows in Portugal, I also sent it to a popular comic TV show with a wide audience that dedicated some air time to bands/artists. Before that I got the producer’s telephone contact who told me that the CD had to be sent with a note explaining why I wanted to go and sing there, if I had any special talent…etc. He spoke with such solemnity, so full of self-importance that I, tired of sending copies almost everywhere, had a fit of "humor" and sent this with the CD: “This is my project. I dedicated all my time to it. I want to be on your program. Do I have any special talent? Maybe, although I do sing with my mouth, like everyone else does. Of course, if I could sing with my vagina, this would be a rarity - yet it would be difficult to sing in front of a camera, don’t you think? Although, on a trip I took to Jordania with a group of tourists which included two Canadians who worked as translators in Japan told me that they had once seen a stripper throwing arrows with her vagina!”

- Did you get anything out of sending the copies of the CD?

- I had no real connections in the music business, so my CD was left to be forgotten in some corner of  a radio program or TV show.

- A stripper who could throw arrows with her vagina?!

- Yes. They witnessed it! Back to the underground station: I don’t know where my angry guitarist was heading, but by the hurry he was in and the way he was looking at his watch I assumed he was on his way to another private lesson, as usual. From the moment I looked at him, seeing him with his headphones on, listening to music on the escalator until my arrival in Portugal six and a half hours pass. I was silent for the entire trip. I entered the tube in silence and it seemed like no one was talking… Then I entered the silence of the airplane, where most people spent the trip sleeping, and finally entered the silence of my car, which I had left at the airport parking lot. I drove home in silence unable to say anything to make myself feel better. I remained indignant during all those hours of psychological darkness. In my car, I drove in the darkness through the city and countryside. I arrive home and before going to bed, what did I do? I sent an email to my open mic friend saying that we were dysfunctional together and in capital letters tell him to go on with his life!

- Don’t you think it would’ve been better to have said nothing?

- My life was screwed already so all I had to do was dig my ditch a little deeper and fall deeper into it! He didn’t say anything. I got the other instrumental versions that I desperately needed to rehearse with on Monday night. None of the musicians asked me if I liked the versions. They were done by the drummer and the other guitarist. I now only had a few hours after work for the following three days to rehearse at home because the following Friday morning I would be returning to London. The other guitarist had to play both guitar parts because my guitarist didn’t have time to do so, as he had informed me at the end of our rehearsal the previous week and without providing details as to why. Important people don’t have to provide explanations. I sent him a copy of the songs via email and stated that they would’ve been better if he had played also because I was more used to his style. Do you know how he thanked me for this compliment?

- No. What did he say?

- He refunded the money I had sent him in advance via Paypal and sent me a text message in capital letters: “Never contact me again!” I replied that I lamented our misunderstandings and if he felt hurt by something I may have said. I asked him to keep his word and show up at the next rehearsal and at the gig. After sending him the message I feel worn out and unhappy; not just because of his attitude but also because of mine in regards to him and myself. I felt bad and disoriented.

- If you want to know someone, give the power over your life. Did he show up?

- Yes, he showed up. Thirty minutes late, at 11 a.m. I arrived at the underground station where we all were to meet up punctually at 10 a.m. I caught the train heading to “Hillingdon” having gotten off a few stations before in “North Ealing” where the rehearsal would take place. It was the last Saturday of November. But, I only saw two people at the station: the drummer and the other guitarist. Again, no bass player. And where was my guitarist? It was always the drummer who would reserve the rehearsal space. He was being OK. On the previous day had informed me that all rehearsal rooms in the center of town were already booked and that we’d have to go to one a little further out of town. The room was booked from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and I had to pay 50 pounds. At the open mic, the guitarist had told me that his heavy metal band had been able to book a room for just 100 pounds a month which they all chipped in for paying 20 pounds each. They were allowed to rehearse on Saturdays all day long, and it was even equipped with a microwave. Do you know that he’d constantly ask me to speak Portuguese with a Brazilian accent?

- With a Brazilian accent?

- Yes. I’m terrible at it, but he’d ask me all the same. He loved the accent. When I spoke Portuguese from Portugal, he didn’t like to hear it finding that we over exaggerated the /tch/ sound.

- We use the /tch/ sound a lot?!

- When we use the plural “s”, it sounded like /tch/ to him! He decided that he had to call me “Ninfas” but as he couldn’t pronounce the Portuguese /s/, he would say instead: Ninfa-tchchchch! It was so strange to hear him say it and he’d repeated it constantly just to see my reaction. He’d go: “NINFA-TCHCHCHCHCHCH!”

- He called you Ninfa-tchchch? It sounds strange, but it’s funny.

- As I said, my guitarist arrived 30 minutes late to the rehearsal location. He greets everyone in the band with a handshake and standing about five feet away from me, he salutes me. The rehearsal room is huge...nothing like the ones in the center of town. This one had windows and no carpet. He didn’t know the songs (other than the ones we’d worked on at the open mic which were the same versions as the ones we’d recorded the previous week at rehearsal.) He asked the other guitarist about the guitar tabs and chords. He made some notes and was ready to play! I, who had put so much effort into my rehearsals at home after having gotten home from work and spending hours working on the new versions, was having difficulties in some song entrances and with tempo.

- Why?

- The entrance to some songs was hard for me because the arrangements were far different from the CD and I had no time to familiarize myself with them better. Besides that, there were no music clues for me to enter properly in some points of the song. My lack of musical theory was also getting me in trouble with these new versions. The other problem was that I was used to rehearsing with headphones on at home, where the sound would enter directly in my ears at full intensity, but in this huge rehearsal space the sound seemed to be hitting the walls first and only then reaching my ears. That’s why I preferred the open mics, whose stages had speakers near the stage, singer and musicians that would send back the sound sung/played on the microphones so that everyone on stage could hear themselves properly because there was too much noise with drums, guitars etc. that the exact notion of the sound being produced in real time can be confusing. To make things worse, my tone of voice was shaky and insecure. My voice was tired from not having had enough rest from hours of rehearsal at home, stress from the trips, psychological exhaustion due to the “fights” with my guitarist and I started to have insomnia. In that rehearsal room, one week away from my concert, I felt intimidated. It was my first rehearsal with a band and my performance was far from what it had been in August. I had no self-confidence and the musical arrangements had been imposed upon me. The studio musician didn’t like the arrangements.

- You should have said something to the musicians about the arrangements.

- They had no time. In the rehearsal we had we were all under pressure. We had to keep what we’d worked on. I had to accept what was handed to me, not to mention the fact that I had lost any form of authority from the moment that they began noticing basic errors or mine like lack of rhythm. Each of them had studied music since their childhood – I felt useless and dumb in that room. They looked at each other and didn’t talk to me to give me any musical suggestions, clues or what so ever and the situation got worse. The other guitarist became gradually more “incompatible” and irritated with me although he didn’t express this directly. The drummer was dumfounded by my bad performance. The bass player (friend of the drummer) didn’t show up again being that he was once again: sick, held up at work or some other excuse. The open mic guitarist was in his own world, relaxed, having received a text message, sitting on the floor playing guitar. Between songs he reads his text message causing him almost to fall back.

- Why?

- I guess it was his girlfriend saying, “Hey, I found your underwear! Miss you. How is rehearsal going? You could’ve stayed and fucked me a little longer...”

- He lost his underwear? How do you know?

- When he got to the rehearsal room, as he bent over to place his guitar bag on the floor he revealed about half of his ass. He had no underwear and forgot to put on a belt to hold his pants up.

- Now he fucks as if it were something new. In a few years he’s going to gain weight, get a beer belly and fuck his wife once a week while daydreaming about other women. When he gets older he’s going to have cholesterol and prostate problems. One more in the world!

- Back to rehearsal: An hour and a half had gone by when the band decided to take a break. I was extremely down with myself but knew that it wasn’t because of lack of practice on my behalf…more lack of experience. I was completely discouraged. I had my eyes closed, holding the bridge of my nose near my eyebrows with my thumb and index finger – wishing for a UFO to come and take me away to be with other strange beings because everyone was looking at me as if I were a strange being. I guess the musicians were thinking they were perfect and that I had no right being there with them. For a few seconds (still with my eyes closed) I was able to forget my ordeal and an image of his ass, which I’d seen a while ago, with the curly hair on it formed in my mind and I thought: “Of course his butt hair is curly...all his hair is curly!” I opened my eyes and he was standing two feet away, staring at me with a serious look on his face. “Are you feeling okay?” he asked.

- You make me laugh!

- I got to Gatwick airport in London on Friday afternoon. But two days prior, the drummer tells me that the two guitarists wouldn’t be able to make it in the afternoon and that he was busy in the evening. So we would only rehearse one day: this Saturday. The date had been scheduled in the end of October, but one month later they hadn’t reserved the date on their agenda - even though rehearsals were paid. At the end of August the open mic guitarist had reserved the four days he’d be in Sweden in his calendar, suspending any and all work he may have had in London for that time. He even woke up early to catch the flight to Sweden, rehearse and perform for free with his band. Performing in Sweden is important! Having someone come from Portugal to London to rehearse...that’s not all that important!

- Learn how to be relentless and tough! What did you do on that Friday, the day before your Saturday rehearsal?

- I went to “Camden Town” to distribute the 1,000 flyers I had printed in Portugal!

- You printed 1,000 flyers? What did they say?

- “Ninfa Artemis! Rock on stage! Directly from Portugal! High voltage!”

- I agree!

- And that the songs were sung in English, that I had a London band which I would rehearse with at the weekend and still that it was going to be my first performance in London. I asked people to please show up to give me good luck! Aside from my name, the flyer also provided the names of the other six artists that would be performing at the pub that evening.

- Did you hand out all the 1,000 flyers?

- No. Just 40. The others went back into my suitcase, near my pajamas. I got to “Camden Town” at the end of the day and it was really cold outside the underground station. To my surprise, I saw lots of other people handing out flyers (although I could swear that I’d never seen them before, when I was performing at the open mics!). There was one musician handing out flyers for his concert and others handed out restaurant flyers. The musician was really sick as he handed out the flyers. I approached him and told him that the people were in a hurry, that it wasn’t worth the effort and that they didn’t even notice us! He disagreed and said that things were going well for him. I backed away from the underground station and saw that everyone who had received one of his flyers had thrown it directly in the trash bin without even reading it. The musician handed out his flyers in an intensive, robotic way. I started approaching people who were stopped in conversation or who were leaning on a wall waiting for someone, or in line at the bank machine… Some of these said that they were tourists who would leave London soon and therefore were unable to attend my show the following week. I was tired and what I really wanted was to get out of the streets because it was really cold and I wasn’t appropriately dressed.

- My poor cold and frozen angel…

- The people who were handing out the restaurant flyers were also trembling from the cold and in desperation – a lot of those who passed by them ignored them and didn’t take the flyers. I also had my share of these same dull people. I asked them if they liked rocked music. If they said no, I would ask them if they liked the sun or good food, if they wouldn’t want to be rich. I was pushy! There were others who there was no use giving a flyer to; they were upset with the weather or some other thing in their lives. It was Friday night and they didn’t seem happy. They didn’t believe in the weekend!

- I love weekends!

- Me too! I went up to one of the people handing out flyers for a Mexican restaurant who looked about 22 years old, was blond with green eyes and told her that it was really cold, that I was going to leave and that it was difficult standing there trying to get people’s attention. She told me that she couldn’t leave, that she had to stay and with a tired and upset tone said, “People walk by me and avoid me! I don’t know if they think it’s because the flyer is going to bite them or because they think I have some sort of contagious disease! Just look: Mexican food at an affordable price! They don’t even look at the flyer!” I asked her for one of her flyers. I got back to the underground station and a homeless man was sitting on the floor wrapped in a blanket with his dog. He was begging and was also being ignored by all those who walked by him. I gave him a few pounds. The grateful man told me that I could pet his dog. His dog was well cared for and well fed. I was happy about this. He was thankful, but I think it was because someone had noticed him. For moments, the beggar, the others who were handing out the flyers and I were united on a night which was cold to others but for us, glacial and that wouldn’t resolve our problems.

- People who are more sensitive and kind are oftentimes those who live a more difficult life...Abundance makes people arrogant, ungrateful and insensitive.

- Maybe. Back to Saturday rehearsal: During our lunch break I gave them one of the two sandwiches I had taken with me and some cereal bars that I’d bought for myself. Because the rehearsal space was in an area with nothing but warehouses around and not having seen any coffee shops or restaurants nearby, I didn’t want them to have to fast until 5 p.m. The “incompatible” guitarist didn’t accept anything that I had to offer them. All he wanted was water and a pack of cigarettes which I’d bought for each of the musicians. I’d slipped two packs to my open mic guitarist friend without anyone noticing.

- Did rehearsal go more smoothly in the afternoon?

- At one point in the afternoon they all walked out the door without any warning. I was dumbfounded. A few minutes later I left the room also to try to clear my mind. I crossed a small hall and when I reached a staircase which led to the exterior I stopped: At the end of the staircase there was a door with a transparent window and I saw them smoking the cigarettes I had brought them. The “incompatible” guitarist was making large gestures and smoking irately. The drummer was smoking and listening with attention to this guy. My friend the open mic guitarist exhaled smoke calmly. I felt bad for him because I wasn’t shining. I feared that he’d be excluded by the others because in a way he represented me and had introduced the drummer to me who had brought the other guitarist to form the band. I don’t know if they were asking him about me outside. If they were, the open mic guitarist was probably telling them that I had behaved well in my open mic performances.

- What did you really know about your open mic friend? Probably nothing. You trusted in him too much.

- Moments beforehand because of something I had asked him and the band about the songs: if they were the most adequate ones for the performance he replied, “That’s not our (the band’s) problem.” His reply made me feel unhappy, handicapped and weak. If my hair could transform into snakes it would bite his hands, injecting him with venom and squashing his music career. He would understand the venom that he was injecting into my soul.  I felt let down. He had never spoken to me in such an arrogant tone in August. He probably noticed because he added, “They’re your songs so don’t worry about what others think. Try to relax. If you think that something is going to go bad, it probably will.” It sounded like pity and it was I who pitied him. In his musical career he was going to meet lots of people who would treat him in the same disposable form. I can overcome obstacles. I don’t need pity. I returned to the rehearsal room and remained motionless and frozen looking out the window at the warehouses and the grey sky overhead. The day was depressing and I said, “GODDAMN ALL OF THIS!” They returned. I tried to rehearse “Destiny”, but had decidedly excluded this song because I wasn’t able to pick up my cues and the rhythm was off. Only after a few days was I going to understand, by myself, how musicians count time: bars! Four beats equaling one bar. The reason I asked them for their musical instrumentals was to get around my musical ignorance. Unfortunately, I was not able to totally overcome it and my “flaws” were visible to them. The studio musician had placed my voice over their instrumental versions on a CD for me to pick up my cues. None of them knew of this “ignorant technique” of mine which I had also used for my open mic performances; not even my open mic friend.

- Didn’t the studio musician ever teach you anything?

- No. He would work the song that I’d record on cassette at home and would then create the instrumental. I would rehearse endlessly over the recording without having to do any mental counting of bars. I would know the rhythms by heart. It’s like someone who can’t read memorizing a sentence. Now, because the instruments and arrangements had changed, I would get lost easily. My guitarist tells the band that “Destiny” was my favorite song. In fact, I had sung it a lot at the open mic and it had been a success! I felt frustrated for not being able to keep time and pick up my cues. Everything was so regular in the arrangement that I couldn’t perceive the changes which indicated my entrances. “Destiny” was excluded and because I considered it to be my good luck charm I felt that I’d have bad luck at the concert.

- I love your song “Destiny”!

- Rehearsal ended at 5 p.m. I went directly to the airport. The drummer said that he was going to look for another bass player at his university in order to replace his absent friend. We all head to the underground station and my guitarist tries to talk to me. He even says, “Ninfa-tchchch!”, but I was terribly down because rehearsal had sucked so badly. I know that I shouldn’t let external factors, which are constantly changing, affect my mental state like all “self-help” books claim, but this happens to me constantly. I have to lose this habit. Inside the crowded tube we had to stand the entire time. I stand near a window and they stand a little further ahead of me. My friend gets off a few stations before me with the “incompatible” guitarist. My open mic friend looks at me and says, “See you next week.” I was feeling so pessimistic about the next concert on Friday that I couldn’t even muster up a smile.

- Was the drummer ok?

- Yeah…The drummer stayed on the train with me, getting off a little further down the line while I stayed on to “Victoria Station” to get to the airport. Without having to ask him, the drummer promised to book the rehearsal space and find the remaining musicians. When we walked down the street, the band tended to form a clan – conversations between men – and most of the time they’d walk a little behind me leaving me alone ahead of them. Sometimes, the drummer would apart from them to come and talk to me. I returned to Portugal at about midnight and got on the social network before heading to bed. The singer from my open mic guitarist heavy metal band posted some images online on this Saturday: the singer was wearing a cap with his name written on it and again tattooed on his arm.

- Maybe it was in case he’d get amnesia one day and forget his name.

- In the photos this singer appeared alongside my open mic friend, both holding a big pint glass in their hand. They’d possibly returned from some Saturday night rehearsal. The 7th of December (6 days later) would be a very strange day in many ways and would remain ingrained in my memory.

- Why strange?

- To start with, my open mic friend would smile at me from afar, but when I approached him he’d refuse to talk to me and would ignore me entirely in front of everyone.

- Had you sent him a message he didn’t like?

- I hadn’t written anything so as not to create any misunderstandings on the eve of our concert. Interestingly enough, five months earlier, also on the 7th, he had replied to my open mic ad. December 7th would be our last time together.

- Do you feel sorry about that?

- They say that destiny doesn’t give us what we want, but what we need; that a robust character is not formed in happy moments; that we should never wish to know who amongst us are our real, true friends because if we knew who they were it would mean we’d already have undergone terrible times.

- What happened on the 7th?

- On December 7th I woke up at 3 a.m. I hadn’t slept well, as had been the case since after the “open mic fairy tale.” I woke up and ate as much as I could in order to have energy to survive the entire day that awaited me as I surely wouldn’t have time to eat any quality food in London. I ate the leftovers from dinner: pasta and soup. Then, I ate three sandwiches, drank carrot juice, and an egg yolk and warm water mixture with barley and sugar. This shake was good for my voice. I got dressed, grab my suitcase which contained two sleeping bags and three pajamas (I needed to be warm when I slept) and a pair of high heel boots to wear at my performance. Nothing else fit into my small bag. I got in my car and headed to the airport.

- You almost got into an accident that day, right?

- Yes. At one point, due to my speed, I lost control of the car on a curvy mountain road, but out of luck, the shoulder was wide and I just missed hitting the rails, avoiding an accident. I took off again, in full speed. I arrived to the airport. After the long boring check-in, I finally got on the plane. It was 6:30 a.m. I get to Stansted airport in London at 9 a.m. I had never arrived at this airport before; I had always arrived in Gatwick, so I was lost. I remove my bus ticked and only later do I come to find out that we only leave for London when the bus is full. I should have caught the train even though it was more expensive because the bus would only arrive at Victoria Station 3 hours later. The train ride would have been about 45 minutes. At 1 p.m. I was at the hotel. I ran to the supermarket to grab some pre-packaged sandwiches, both for myself and for the band members whom I want to ensure are properly nourished for the show being that they seem to ignore mealtimes. The supermarket was the same one I’d gone to in August where I would buy my delicious meals. Still at the supermarket I got a text message from the drummer saying that the band was already rehearsing in “Camden Town”. The rehearsal space was relatively close to the concert venue. I replied that I would only be able to arrive at about 2:40 p.m. I went by the hotel and ate something in five minutes. I took a quick hot shower and put on fresh undergarments. I was sweating although it was quite cold. I got to the “Camden Town” station and called the drummer, asking him to come get me being that I didn’t know where the rehearsal space was. He showed up few minutes later. It was truly cold and we both wore scarves around our necks which covered our mouths and noses so as not to inhale the chilly air. I got the rehearsal space. It was a small one but it had a cute piano which reminded me of those often seen in old West Hollywood movies. I ask him where my open mic guitarist is. He tells me that he can only come to the concert.

- Didn´t your open mic friend  inform you about his absence at the rehearsal?

 -As you know, at the end of the open mic performances my guitarist friend became non-communicative. I was getting used to being stabbed by him…We were rehearsing because I had made this request at our previous rehearsal, the previous Saturday.

- Did you rehearse a lot this time?

- We rehearsed the six songs that made up our 30 minute time slot four times. The first rehearsal went well; my rhythm had even improved. Because I was so nervous, right after our rehearsal from last Saturday, I had called the studio musician and he suggested I tap my foot on the floor to try and keep the beat. That's when I realized that the actions that many musicians and singers perform, including tapping their foot on the floor, among other poses, were done in order to maintain the correct tempo.

- How were you able to record the songs on your CD if you didn’t know the basics?!

- Like I told you a little while ago...from having listened to my instrumental recording studio version over which I had to record to so many times, the rhythm would be ingrained in my mind. The drummer gave me a little sermon immediately after that test on Saturday adding that my rhythm problem could jeopardize the cohesion of the band and blah-blah; and that maybe it would be a good idea for me to invest in some music classes after the December 7th concert to learn the basics.

- After so many years, had no one else given you these recommendations?

- No.

- But didn’t you participate in a jam session at your last open mic, where you got to perform with a band?

- Yes, and it went well. The musicians were good and experienced and besides this, my self-confidence was very high in August. I felt like a princess. Then, I transformed into a frog.

- Stop talking nonsense. In the future you’ll help yourself by taking some music classes. Then, you’ll form a band with experienced professionals, who are friendly. Then, these things, combined with good musical arrangements, regular rehearsals and good physical conditions (like sleeping and eating well) as well as having a balanced emotional life will guarantee things run smoothly and good for you! But first, finish the book you’re writing for people to know about you! Let´s go back to December 7th again…

- This time we had a bass player. He was Spanish; very calm. At 5:30 p.m. we head to the concert venue because the promoter had requested (via email) that all performers be present for a sound check at 6 p.m. We got to the pub. The performance space was in the basement of the pub. This had commonly been the case in my open mic performances. The drummer pointed to a sign on the wall which announced: “Friday nights: jazz nights!” and said he was going to try to get to the bottom of that because we were obviously a rock band. After a while he returned and said that all is good and to ignore the sign on the wall. I noticed another sign on the wall, this one with my name and the name of the other six performers on it in large letters. The drummer followed my eyes with his and said in a serious tone, “You’re the headliner which means we’ll be performing last…probably around 11 p.m.” I thought, “Damn it! What am I going to do until then? I have to wait five hours?!” I went to the bathroom and touched up my make-up. I put on some bright red lipstick. I was ready for my performance! I redid the braid in my hair which I threw over my left shoulder over my leather jacket and short shirt. I had a leather belt on with a silver buckle and black jeans on. I looked like a rocker. I exited the bathroom and saw that my open mic friend had arrived. He was standing with his back to me a few feet away. He was talking to the rest of the band members in a semi-circle and one of them must have given him a sign that I was there because he did some interesting acrobatics!

- Acrobatics?

- Yes. His body remained facing forward and he turned his head around 180º. He saw me and gave me a great big smile. I smiled back and approached him. As I reached them, he immediately faced the band members again, ignoring me completely. He had a serious look on his face and seemed to be ignoring me completely as I tried to talk to him.

- Why would he act so coldly?

- I don’t know. I can only make assumptions. As I noticed some possessiveness in him in our open mic performances, I thought that he might have been “jealous” that I had been rehearsing with the band and probably thought I hadn’t missed him.

- Is that true?

-No, it isn´t. In fact I had missed him because I was used to having him around me always, just like at all the rehearsals and performances I’d ever had. I still felt a strong emotional tie to him and wouldn’t have ever formed a band without him even though he had left me alone with my suitcase in hand watching people go by at the underground station that time. This is my problem: until the psychological dependence ends, I am vulnerable and I know that it’s idiotic to put in excessive effort to try to avoid the inevitable. Now that the whole band was together, they thought it best we head to another part of the bar: a sort of terrace. As we headed to the terrace, we walk by a Christmas tree whose lights light up suddenly, blinking. The drummer jumps, scared and says, “Whoa!” I smile and he says he thinks those lights are strange.

- Whoa, what strange lights?! Funny.

- We all had strange personalities meanwhile, they all seemed normal and I seemed like the tense, abnormal one. It was terribly cold on the terrace and I was afraid it would affect my vocal cords. Besides this, the incompatible guitarist made me feel like I didn’t belong in the group because if I approached them, he would head to another part of the terrace and the others would follow suit to continue their conversation. I had plenty of reasons to return to the bar. For an instant I look back and see my open mic friend giving his headphones to the bass player he’d just met so that he could listen to some music that my friend had been listening to on his Iphone – possibly jazz or rock metal or other type of music. He had never done that with me.

- Were you having a good time?

- It was an interesting experience. I was living the experience of having a band after 8 years of arduous work in songs in a recording studio. My first band! I was in London! I was thrilled to be living my dream although very tired, was to be a long day with many hours. I had left the terrace 50 minutes before and was standing alone, leaning on a column when I felt someone behind me, staring at me. He is surprised when my eyes caught his as he held his breathe, without moving. It was my open mic friend! He remains still without knowing what to do: whether to walk or to move. I tell him in a playful tone, “Talk to me!” He imitates my accent and I reach out my hand so that we can call it a truce because up to now it seemed like we were at war. He looks at my hand, but doesn’t reach out his immediately. He finally shakes my hand, quickly. I tell him that it’s a good thing he’s around because he’s fun and relaxed. He shakes his head and holds up his hand in a stop sign as if telling me not to get attached to him. I think, “I don’t know how to deal with you! I try, but I don’t know how! Goddamn this!”

 

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