I really like the Marc Maron WTF podcast, and last Christmas The Lady gave me Maron’s book, Attempting Normal. Per usual I read the first chapter as soon as I got it, liked it, then for no reason I let it sit there collecting dust for the next few months.
Last week though I needed a distraction while having to wait in a sterile, official and intimidating setting, so I blew the dust off the paperback cover, tucked it under my arm, and proceeded to my place of obligation. When I arrived I followed the official “GO HERE FOR SUCH AND SUCH” signs, and found a seat. Feeling anxious about the ensuing proceedings, I opened my book, and tried to figure out where I left off since I never use a bookmark for some reason.
I skimmed past the chapter entitled Two Prostitutes while being interrupted by a pleasant, but obviously crazy young lady who was confused about the start time. How did I know she was crazy? Well, she definitely had the prerequisite wide eyed hyper focused stare, and although she was dressed relatively clean and appropriately, her purse was a ziplock freezer bag through which I could see all of its contents (makeup, bills and Marlboro Menthols). For some reason the translucent purse equaled insanity to me. This probably says more about me than her. Anyway, ziplock girl went away, and I went back to my book.
I found the chapter entitled Guitar which I vaguely remembered, and decided that must have been where I left off. Feeling annoyed and anxious I tried to ignore the old couple arguing about where to sit, and tried to read. Maron talked about discovering music for the first time in his dad’s station wagon, and how Buddy Holly was a spooky hero that spoke from the grave. I immediately felt a little less anxious, and smiled thinking about a long ride with my dad when he played his Beatles tape the whole way, and music grabbed ahold of me for the first time.
My happiness was fleeting as a big heavy wooden door opened, and we were ushered into a larger room where my obligation would ultimately be fulfilled. Unfortunately before that could happen there would more waiting. So, again I found a seat, and was careful to be inconspicuous with my coffee, hence the official “NO FOOD OR DRINK” sign. I was so annoyed. Just in a bad mood. I had been there an hour, and proceedings did not seem to be moving along. Conversation around me of which I did not participate was too loud to resume reading, and centered around complaints and misery related to our shared occupied space. Eventually the noise tapered off and I resumed reading.
Maron continued to wax poetic about his early experiences with music, and when I got to the part about Chuck Berry my stupid annoying day was completely changed, and a smile came across my face that would stay there the rest of the day. He was talking about how a guy at school had showed him how to play the opening riff to Roll Over Beethoven…
“I went home and tried it, it worked, and the entire world changed. I had it, the key to music. I was ecstatic. I was probably the only fifteen year old kid in the world in 1977 who was beside himself because he could play a Chuck Berry lick.”
And I smiled, and closed my book. I understood 100% what he was talking about. I didn’t need to read another word. I was completely at ease, and full of positivity. A fellow traveler had shared an experience that was so relatable and similar to mine, and it gave me a great sense of validation, and connectivity. I was entirely grateful, and my perspective was completely changed for the better. I was even inspired to start blogging again, and did so that very night.
That’s something good writing, or really any other form of art can do, and I’ll take it as a lesson for this blog going forward. To be able to take people somewhere emotionally where they otherwise would not be is what it’s all about. Thanks to Marc Maron. Attempting Normal is a great read so far.