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There’s a stage of rehearsal when everyone is learning their parts, where every part of my brain needs to be involved. But when everything works, and the parts fall into place, things become automatic.

When I described the feeling to Bart, he compared it to driving a car.

Unfortunately, at that stage, driving a car was also one of the things that required every brain cell in my head to accomplish. Christian, who was teaching me, kept telling me to relax, but how could I relax when, even at like thirty miles an hour, if I sneezed hard I could easily send two tons of metal (with us trapped inside) careening off a bridge?

What I kept telling myself is that driving would become like the songs once they aren’t new anymore. This is what practice is for, I’d say, as I weaved the van through the parking lot of a closed supermarket at two in the morning, trying to get to the point where I didn’t have to think about it so damn much.

Maybe two weeks into our post-holiday rehearsals I started to wonder if maybe all the various strains on my brain were taking their toll. Learning to drive, learning new material, angsting about the tour, and trying to figure out what was going on with Ziggy all at the same time… it seemed to be taking me forever to learn anything.

And then rehearsal was interrupted for over a week at the beginning of February while we shot footage for the Why the Sky video, too, which made me feel dragged backwards. With the new songs, maybe the fact that a lot of the material wasn’t my own had something to do with my slow pace. Ziggy was writing more than ever. With driving lessons, maybe after twenty years in the back seat, it just wasn’t going to happen all that fast. Or maybe I was just impatient. Ziggy and I were not “getting into a groove” with each other again, either. Although I successfully avoided any opportunity for open feuding or interpersonal psychodrama, we still butted heads over creative issues and the feeling of Massive Unresolved Crap persisted. Frustration was becoming a frequent buzzword in my own mind.

You’d think when things got rough I’d have got myself hooked on smack or coke or something like other fashionable celebrities, eh? But first of all, isn’t one secret vice bad enough? And second, there are two kinds of people I think, when it comes to drugs. The first kind of person takes the drugs to bliss out, forget, lose themselves, escape. The second kind of person would love to do that, but when he or she takes the damn things, the end result tends to be paranoia, even greater self-consciousness instead of the opposite. Is this getting too deep? Well, guess which kind of person I am. I lose myself in sex and rock and roll, whereas too many drugs make me bug-crawly paranoid.

But here’s where frustration comes in. I’d reached the point where neither music nor sex was doing it for me, anymore, and as time went on I was getting a bit desperate. What now, find a new hobby? Even more grating was the voice in my head telling me I was supposed to be happy. I’m doing what I want to do aren’t I? Quit whining.

Not that anyone else heard me whine. No, I kept on plugging along, driving at 2am, taking the damn written test at the RMV, practicing alone with headphones, trying to match my sound and Ziggy’s, and trying to decide how I felt about him…

I had probably been too optimistic about the timetable to Digger when I’d said we could do it all and be touring by the end of March. And yet that was the plan he had sold Mills on, hook, line and sinker. Suddenly I had Mills thinking it was his own idea, and urging us to hurry so “his man” could come in. Mills insisted that we give an outside producer a try and I agreed, but told him not to even show up until we’d finished dicking around with the music and were ready to commit to tape.

This time there were no questions about who showed up when or which days. The four of us went to the studio six days a week from two pm until two am. Then I’d practice driving and then sometimes after we got home I’d play more with headphones on in my room or in the basement. Chris and I would get up around noon, grab lunch somewhere or get it to go, pick Ziggy and Bart up, and get right back into it.

The little voice was right–I should have been enjoying this. I couldn’t help but think, of course, that if only Ziggy and I were getting along, everything would be so much better. Whose turn was it to apologize, though? I was waiting for him–maybe he was waiting for me. We had argued each other to a standstill in the men’s room of the Jingle Bell after party, and neither one of us would pick up that particular ball just yet. When we weren’t talking directly about the band or music, we mostly said nothing to each other, and sometimes I thought that was really good, like we were giving it all a rest, and sometimes I thought it was really bad, like we were just suppressing how really fucked up we could be.

Maybe it was both. We were too busy to really deal with it.

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