Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A day in the life of a blind man

I wake to a Monet world every day - a fantastical place where nothing and everything is possible. I cannot make out the time on my bedside clock, yet I can lie within my haze, dream and waste the daylight as if nothing exacting exists.

Once spectacled, the world awaits and demands - briefly. As I stroll to the bathroom, time, alarms and headlines demand my attention before it all slips away again under a stream of mist and heat.

Someone has rearranged my showery toiletries and it takes a minute to figure out where they've gone and which one is which. This is an important process as another case of conditioner to the body is an undesired and slippery plight.

You look amazing naked. That being said, everyone looks good naked to me. On any given morning when one of my presumed frequent lovers asks me, while looking at herself in the mirror, 'do I look good naked?' My answer is 'Yes, you're incredible'. And then I put on my glasses and answer the question realistically. Inside my head, of course. Everyone wins - to me, she looks like a supermodel and she, inversely, feels like a supermodel around me.

Once clean, the choice of the day presents itself - to wear sunglasses or to work on my laugh lines. Like picking a washing day in Auckland weather, calculating the expected amount of sunshine and personal time spent under its gaze is a most tricky thing. The inevitable conscious presence of contact lenses inside my eyelids must be weighed against the amount of white concrete footpaths one may be strolling down, in the sun, in the day ahead.

Heading to beach for a swim under this presumed sunshine also presents a dilemmic (sic) situation. While wearing contact lenses there is always a good chance that they will slip out of your eyes, attracted to the equally salty environment of the ocean. Goggles are just not an option for me. And wearing plain old glasses minimises the fun you can have with riotous waves. Hence beach visits are always bittersweet.

Once decided, a venture outside in my squinty eye-wear exposes me to various public prejudices. Here's some examples:

Curly hair + glasses = "you must be Jewish! Here's a minora for your birthday (this has actually happened)".
Curly hair + glasses = "you're in a band? Lemme guess....the keyboardist?".

One must admit that it is a rare thing that a bespectacled vocalist can get anywhere in the pop-music industry - BUT, the keyboardist?! C'mon! I could at least be the cute guitarist for once!

In fact, one should learn from this and never presume that glasses are the way to pop-success for everyone. I know of one fellow NZ musician who bought the exact frames as me for $1k and not even put a prescription in them - I don't see him succeeding. And fair enough too as, for me, that kind of glasses-heresy is like a very tall man wearing platform shoes.

The other side of the prejudicial system at work here is that I am welcomed with open arms into libraries, galleries, scenester clubs, museums and construction zones.

Once the day is through it's back to the water-coloured world within my bed.

Sleeping's easy for a blind man when you've mastered the art of dreaming with perfect vision 99% of the time. I can swim in summery dreams, wear safety glasses without double-glasses-layering in scientific/construction dreams, open ovens without fogging up in cooking dreams, can fight bad guys without worrying about excessive facial injuries in kung-fu dreams, I can go to police stations and not have to take my glasses off in holding cells for hours on end in crime dreams, etc. A good sleep benefits your body in a wonder of ways - and being blind just helps makes this essential part of life so much more welcoming.

Good night.

Thank you to Occhiali Optical for supporting my crusade against the discrimination of blind people who aren't afraid to show it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sleep easy

I have never counted sheep.
Warm milk is not my cup of tea.
And a massage from my band-mates isn't such an attractive concept.

For people out there who struggle to get to sleep at night, one trick I can recommend is thinking of all the songs that used to put you to sleep when you were very young.

I was extremely lucky to have been brought up in a musical family and my Dad used to often bring his guitar into my room and sing a few tunes to myself and my siblings before we turned the lights off. The songs themselves almost always told a story, the characters came alive and set our imaginations running wild and into our dreams. Perfect.

I suppose this is part of why have developed such a love for folk music and the stories they tell. Although this isn't always evident in my own personal songwriting, it's something I aspire to in my journey as a lyricist. One of the songs from my band's first album, Benjamin, was definitely an attempt on my behalf of recreating some of the magic that surrounded my childhood imagination. Here's a brilliant interpretation of that song that, I believe, does the story it conjures up a lot of justice.

Aside from that, I thought it would be nice to share some of the songs that sent me down the road of a love for story-telling in music and also, from time to time, to a deep sleep that otherwise may not have come easily.