Clusters Eat My Music Career
Recently I've been spending a little time reconnecting with the fine folks at cluster headaches.com. I'm not sure why I feel so uncomfortable around other cluster headache sufferers but I honestly think it's that seeing so many of us in one place is little overwhelming for me. Knowing that each one of these people hurt as badly as I have is honestly something thats difficult for me to deal with. For example, I noticed that there is a message board heading for parents of children with cluster headaches... I haven't been able to bring myself to click it. I had just never before considered that there were child suffers and the idea of such a thing nearly has my mind paralyzed.
So I go for long periods of time were I don't seek out the company of other clusterheads. I'm a bit of a recluse as it is, but all it takes is little bit of me feeling out of place for me to want to hide myself away. And if there's one thing the cluster headaches will do for you, they definitely make you feel out of place, out of sorts, and quite often out of your mind. This is not to say that I don't care, I think it's almost the opposite I'm afraid of getting way too involved. Getting overwhelmed by the community and the stories of every person in it. I can absolutely see myself doing that.
So I set up a new account (I can't find the information on my old one, I think he used some funky alias because I was afraid my boss at the time would find out about my cluster headaches and I would get fired) and I started poking around again. Well tonight I found the "getting to know you" thread and started thinking how I would describe myself and what I do. Well, this is the exact sort of thing that when discussing with other cluster sufferers I can be brutally honest with myself about and discuss in a way that I usually don't. So when "normal" people ask me what it is I do, I tell them I'm a graphic designer, a photographic illustrator, photographer, but mainly I'm a musician. I explain to them that I'm a vocalist in a somewhat progressive avant-garde vocal oriented genre defying band by the name of Payne's Grey... well when considering how I would describe what I do to other cluster suffers I realized that it would most likely admit I don't really do music much anymore.
I try, I aspire to do more, I keep my gear up to date, and talking with my wonderfully talented guitarist Shawn O'Neill about finishing a few of the songs that we haven't quite gotten done but the real story is that the cluster headaches have pretty much crushed my drive and ability to make music. Making music was never easy for me. Everything about it was very challenging time consuming especially when you consider the fact that I was so demanding of myself and wanted everything to be perfect. I want the music to be absolutely the best I could make it. And I'm really not willing for it to be anything less. Unfortunately, those goals are a little hard to reach when you feel like absolute crap half the time and you're exhausted the other half.
When I think back, and really kind of amazed they did it for as long as I did. I started getting headaches while I was in bands that were regularly performing live. I can remember several times being on stage with headaches and praying that my head wouldn't get any worse. Luckily, my clusters were on a very regular schedule for quite a while and I could pretty much count on a mild to medium attack around 2 PM to 3 PM and nothing more until the really heavy duty attack usually around 1 PM to 3 PM. So the chances of me still being onstage singing during a bad attack are usually pretty slim but I did sometimes get them off schedule and I kind of lived in fear of that. Although it was never a conscious decision that I recall, I wonder now if that's one of the reasons I stopped performing.
As far as creating and recording original music I kept going strong for many years after getting the headaches but looking at it in retrospect, I think I eventually just ran out of steam and I had to start narrowing down the things in my life and making choices about what to accomplish. I'm very proud of what I have done musically and I would say I have had modest success with but it is never been something that earned a lot of income, especially when you consider the amount of time that I put into it. I don't really ever remember having the thought "I need to stop making music because it's wasting my time" but with big chunks of my life being ripped away from me, with all kinds of strange medications being poured down my throat having all kinds of unsettling effects on my mind and focus, with exhaustion being heaped upon the last round of exhaustion that I never fully recovered from. I think it just became clear that I couldn't afford it... I couldn't afford the luxury of the time necessary for me to create music.
So now, I mostly do photography as a creative outlet, and doesn't require as much attention to detail, or a whole different set of disciplines from the photographic illustration that I do currently to earn a living. In other words, I get to do creative stuff and still simplify my life. Of course, if my recordings were to start selling to the point where I could justify it, maybe I could refocus on music as a career... but with the way the music industry is going the chances of an avant-garde emotive male vocalist who is a bit older making a living from selling digital music on the Internet is... well highly unlikely.
Where's my camera...
by the way if you want to hear this wacky music or see some of my goofy photos hit up these links: