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playing music and breaking up fights; putting down roots (Zelda's Inferno exercise Nov 4)

An eventful week...Wednesday, Halloween, I played a happy hour gig at Leadbetter's. Good crowd for the holiday (Fells Point buzzes for Halloween) and I actually made decent money, almost $80 between tip and my share of the take from the bar. Not enough that I'm going to quit the day job, but $80 for four hours - $20 an hour - is respectable. I'd play more often if I could get gigs that paid like that, sure.

Hung out afterward for the night shift, crowded but generally having a good time enjoying the musical stylings of Johnny Smooth...until, during a break in his set, I made my way up front for some fresh air and looked outside, to see a pushing match, a fight brewing, in front of the Admiral's Cup a few doors down.

I told the guy on the door to call 911, and ran over to break things up. Yelling "Break it up! Break it up! Cops are on the way!", I did my best to cool things down, stepping between any pair who looked in conflict. It was impossible to figure out who was pissed with whom about what; but for that minute of two, my job was just to act as a sort of "anti-catalyst", preventing violent reactions.

Is this a smart thing to do? It does mean possibly getting hurt - I messed my left shoulder up a decade ago jumping in to break up barfight. And this time, I got hit by something or someone - I didn't see - on the top of my head, just as the cops showed up. No damage though, just annoying.

And that's sort of the key - after two decades of karate training, I can go into a situation like that, get pushed around, even hit, and keep my head. That, plus maybe the ability to avoid or take a punch, and to put somebody down if need by, means that I'm probably the best-qualified person on the scene to intervene until professionals arrive. And sometimes, sadly, it seems I'm still more qualified than some of the cops and bouncers I've seen, to de-escalate a situation. Still, I'll gladly yield when someone more qualified shows up - which is why I told the doorman to call 911.

Anyway, my options were to act and risk my own safety, or not act and possibly allow someone else to get hurt.

So, in I jumped. All turned out ok this time.

Friday, we had a good Samhain circle out at Joe's place; last night, the benefit show at 2640. First time that my uncle Jeff and I have played on the same bill, which was pretty cool. Then a big Halloween party at Joe's...slept in today, grabbing that extra hour of sleep from the time change. Stopped by to see Jeff and Cindy to try to help out with some computer stuff. Now dinner at the Yabba Pot, before Zelda's.

Zelda's Inferno exercise for November 4: write about your roots, then pull out the images as raw poetry-stuff. (Though I really only did the first half.)

Vines have many roots, spread out over their length. It's their nature; unlike a tree, digging ever down, reaching depths, the vine grows across the ground, putting down one root here, then another further along.

The other night I drew a card from a Celtic divination deck. Each card represented a tree or plant, and told the mythology of it. I drew honeysuckle.

This summer, the American honeysuckle I planted years ago finally established itself and flourished. (The honeysuckle most of us know, the yellow and white one, is an invasive Asian variety, but there is a type native to our shores.) It took several seasons until it had enough roots to flourish. For a while, I didn't think it would survive, but now its red blossoms surround the cherry tree on my front lawn, even through into the autumn.

And as I look back over my life-so-far, I feel that a fitting metaphor. A late bloomer, growing as I stuck roots into different places, sprouting up from my family, reaching out to math and science and poetry and music and karate and zen and paganism and shiatsu, drawing sustenance from each until I grew strong enough to bloom.

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