You're probably tired of hearing about that operation and its aftereffects but, they seem to be ongoing. My thirteen-year-old has recently started playing his drum set again, using the brushes to back me up on the jazzy riffs and interpretations of the few old standards I remember that I play on the old beat up upright 1800s piano that I grew up playing on and came back into my life when I moved to Jersey and one of my brothers moved to Georgia and left the piano with me.
The ivory on many of the white keys is busted, making some of the notes almost dangerous to play with their sharp jagged edges. But "the action"—as piano players call the touch of the keys and the way they rebound to that touch—is exactly how I remember it from my boyhood and so gives me the kind of pleasure comfort food that reminds you of your childhood favorite dishes do. Only with food, it's always impossible to get it just the way your mother made it, but with this piano it actually is exactly as it was when my mother was cooking that food in our little kitchen for me and my siblings and our father and our "crippled" grandma who lived with us and the boarder et. al.
I stopped playing piano when I was still in my twenties because of frustration with bands and gigs and clubs and whatever, plus I wanted to concentrate on my writing, and only started playing again in my forties. I even played some gigs (like one in Hollywood where Ray Manzarek from The Doors backed me while I read some poems, and after hearing me fiddle on the keys in rehearsals suggested I accompany myself on a few numbers, which I did).
After not having played for so long, I discovered my left hand was even weaker than it had been when I was young. I could comp chords and play some stride style and boogie woogie etc. so there was variety, but I couldn't transpose like I once could, forced to play mostly in C, the easiest key. But my right hand was still pretty facile and I could do runs up and down the keyboard that would impress you with their speed and accuracy and variety.
Not any more.
Since the operation, whenever I try to do some of my standard runs up and down the keyboard, my fingers mess up and the amount of notes I could once fit into a short run is greatly reduced, or worse, I hit the wrong notes.
And yesterday while playing with my little guy, I started playing "As Time Goes By" which I do pretty much the way Dooley Wilson did in CASABLANCA, but where usually I could play that tune old style with my eyes closed, I kept hitting the wrong notes because my hands were spread over the keys so far I couldn't see both hands at the same time and whichever I wasn't looking at would mess up so that I had to bring them closer together and instead of playing stride like with my left played what they used to call "block chords" bunched up in the middle range of the keyboard where I could watch both hands at the same time.
I've learned to accept all this and work with it, but these are just some of the many reminders that my brain isn't functioning as it once was in some areas. E.g. somewhere above when attempting to write "But the" I wrote "The the" and I do that kind of thing over and over again.
It's a lot better than it was those first few months after the operation, but it ain't what it once was. It's only been seventeen months as of yesterday, so a lot of this may yet improve and return to what was once "normal" for me. But in the meantime, I'll do my best to do my best and most folks won't have any idea of the changes inside my head and the ways they impact my life outside my head. But I will.
Kind of got off the subject, which was if you can make it to my reading next Thursday evening in NYC, I'd sure appreciate seeing you there.
(This is me after winning a talent contest at Fairchild Air Force Base outside Spokane Washington sometime in the early 1960s. I actually won that tiny loving cup on top of the piano for "comedy" doing a routine where I played some common ditty like "Jingle Bells" or whatever was appropriate for the season as interpreted by Liberace, Ray Charles, Thelonious Monk, etc. and did it as though I were drunk as well, which I may well have been looking at this photo!)