‘Best human of the night’ award goes to the homeless underground NYC tonight who really listen, they hear & never fail to give even though they most likely have less than anyone else on the platform at any given time. There’s some kind of etherial connection between me & the homeless who hear me sing. I cannot tell you exactly what it is, it’s some kind of a ‘soul knowing’, but we ‘get’ each other somehow. We rarely say anything to each other, but it’s clear, it’s in the eyes.
Posts tagged: Love
People kept stopping by bearing random gifts today Underground. First it was a Box of Girl Scout Cookies, then some kinda fancy-schmanzy shampoo & conditioner (at least the lady who dropped it in my case said it was). By the end of my day I kinda felt like the baby Jesus & the three wise menÂ Â #newyorkundergroundlove
As a busker, I never quite know what people are thinking, if there’s a subtext goin’ on when they say they love my voice & singing & then follow it with “I’m going to pray for you”Â
I’ve always known intrinsically that everything is energy, everything has a vibration no matter the variations in speed. But sometimes that fact of physics & ascension hits me broadside in a manner that’s impossible to deny. Today was one of those days.
The whole NYPD thing over the past few month plus the upcoming hearing I have been preparing for daily for weeks now, s finally got to me not only emotionally but physically as well; the stress manifesting itself in crazy, mind numbing headaches, upset stomach, snot sleeping or sleeping too much & weird pains all over. Though I rarely if ever go to a Dr, I finally went – just to rule out everything else Â t (even though I knew it was all most likely due to the non stop harassment & how I was attempting to process it on a day to day basis). After a gazillion tests, some chatting about life, and my Dr asking if he could play my guitar which I’d brought with me in the hopes I’d magically find the energy somewhere in the Dr’s office to go busk on the way home, Â he looked down at his clipboard and said:Â “Well we’ll wait and see how all these tests come back Â but between you, me & your guitar here I think you actually do have a ‘touch’ of PTSD from all these encounters Â with the cops that you’ve been experiencing” Â A ‘touch’ of PTSD? I thought to myself…is that like a ‘touch’ of pregnancy’?
Home I went, andÂ in an attempt to hold myself together & try to keep distracted Â I forced myself under daily, despite the knot in my stomach and fear it elicited each time I did. But even if I did get to sing, my vibration was not clear, I was 1/2 present & 1/2 keeping an eye out for which officer I might have to deal with next. People noticed. I made no money.
Then two days ago, in the middle of my third tune one of my guitar strings snapped. I started to change it on the platform when the tuning peg also snapped. Not having a spare peg with me I had to abort & spent the next hour & a half digging an oddly jammed peg out of the bridge of the guitar. It appeared almost glued in there. Finally I dislodged it & too the opportunity to re-string my entire ax. I felt so happy & grateful I’d repaired it & that now my dear ax (who I just know ‘feels’ was all re-strung with a shiny new set of strings. I fell asleep looking forward to the next day & hoping both my physical & emotional symptoms would have diminished & that my newly strung guitar & I could find our respective & joint grooves together.
The next day I walked across town to play in a more distant spot, hoping I’d avoid the cops. The walk was long but I felt it was the smartest thing to do & that it would be worth it once I was there & busking. I set up on the East Side & my guitar, my newly strung guitar….she simply would not play! It was insane. I sat there on the bench of the subway platform trying everything I could think of to stop the twanging, the buzzing, the tinny insane noise that was emanating from my normally full sounding ax.
Again, I went home, stumped on what was up & spent the next 2 1/2 hours taking the entire thing apart, bridge, nut, tuning pegs, truss rod etc. All to no avail, she still wouldn’t play.
Then it hit me – she too has a ‘touch of PTSD’ & does not want to go under. She too has been ‘traumatized’ but the multiple cop encounters. I called my friend who is a master guitar tech upstate to see when he could help her & placed my dear guitar in her stand & went to sleep.
That brings me to today, Memorial Day. I decided I’d skip busking, although I was missing it terribly. I just could not see how I was to play with a guitar which was adamantly, staunchly not into it. “sigh’ I accepted an invite to go to the beach,thinking it’d perhaps do me good to do something different & Â took the train downtown &Â was promptly stood up.
There I was, on the Subway platform beach bag, towel, sunblock in tow, not quite knowing what to do or where to turn next. At my back was the downtown train I just hopped off, paralleled but the uptown at the Fulton St Station. I stood there in a mini daze, letting a few trains scream by, finally deciding to head back home in the hopes ofÂ figuring something Â productive out for the rest of the day once there.
I hopped on the next A” train going uptown & as I looked around for a place to sit & saw a $1 bill just laying there on the seat right in front of me. A sign? Perhaps, but whatever it was or meant, decision made, that’s where I sat as I hosied the seat $ stuffed the dollar bill in my unused beach bag. One stop later a tall, thin, black guy boarded the train with an electric keyboard hanging form his neck & a Christmas red gift bag taped to the side of the instrument. He sat down perpendicular to me & after a few beats I spoke; “Excuse me, how’s it been? Busking – are the cops ok today?
The guy smiled a huge toothy white grin & said “Yeah, they’ve been rough as of late but no problems yet today, thank God”. Â He introduced himself as “Keys” & said “Yeah, I’ve seen you around. You play the Uptown A C E right? The platforms?” We continued chatting about art, music, life, moving a soul, being granted a smile or a pat on the heart & the pure magic that is the world of a busker.
Keys hopped off at 14th St as his batteries had died & he need to replace them to keep on working – more technical difficulties ðŸ™‚ He turned around back towards the “A” & shouted “Keep doin’ what you’re doin’ Heidi. Don’t ever stop” And the doors closed.
“Ok”, that’s it. Between the lone dollar on the subway seat & meeting / chatting with Keys I’d decided, I was going to try one more time to coax my poor ax back to work.
Once home I spent another hour and a half dismantling over & over my guitar. I asked her what she needed, I listened & coaxed. I tightened this, propped that, replaced that thing over there & once I knew I’d done all I knew how to do I went back under, my still very odd-sounding guitar as a reluctant participant.
I put two capos on the fourth fret in the hopes it would muffle slightly the insane squeaking & buzzing. It kind of, sort of, barely made a difference but I made a ‘deal’ with my ax anyway : “We’re gonna do this, ok?” I conveyed to my stubborn instrument. “We’re gonna be ok & we’re gonna find our groove again. I promise” And I sang.
The platforms were packed. People were happy, sunburned & smiley faced. It was a holiday & the air was oddly relaxed & easy for NYC. The crowd responded with smiles & donations & soon their energy won out over the odd sounds emanating from my guitar. As one bass player said: “Yeah, it doesn’t really bother me, it just sounds like you have a small percussive instrument, like a drum or a symbol playing at the same time”
I sighed but kept on playing, focusing on the happy people. ONe guy threw in a $5 after a song he liked particularly well. Then a few songs later he came back & threw in another $5 after, I guess, was another song he fancied. I looked at the guy at the end of the bench who had watched the repeat donator’s actions & I said : “There are a lot of angels down here” The guy nodded, grinned & I added: “Sometimes they’re good tippers sometimes they’re homeless, but there are always angels in these subways” The guy looked up at me & smiled as he thought about what I’d just shared.
I kept playing. There were tons of kids on the platform being a holiday and all. And I watched as they bugged their parents for something to put into my case & took such pleasure in dropping the donations in. Then I noticed a little boy to my left who was waving his hands wildly in the air up towards me & I realized he wanted to touch the guitar, so I leaned down & held it for him while I watched him run his fingers over her strings. As I watched this tiny person somehow know how to strum a guitar I asked his mom: “How old is he?””He’s two” she responded.”Two – wow. You know your son’s got a gift. You need to get him some kind of instrument, any instrument…” And she chimed in;”Oh he has a karaoke machine” his mom informed me, to which I responded:”Well karaoke is ok but you need to encourage him with an instrument to make his own music, not just sing someone else’s as he has something magical inside & he will share it if you give him a few tools. I promise.” And as we were talking the little boy began to add his wordless singing to the strumming. I was mesmerized. You could tell he just ‘knew’ what to do with a guitar & with music & probably with most any instrument Â you put in front of him. I watched him as I held the guitar in front of him to ‘create’ on & asked “What’s his name? “Socrates’ his mom informed me. ‘Fitting’ I thought to myself as his mom quickly leaned over and whispered “Thank you” and they hopped on the train, the little boy’s arms waving wildly towards my ax as the train doors closed.
I continued singing, knowing even if I stopped right there that I’d done s bit of what I love – move energy & been moved right back in the best possible way. Plus, my ax was finally beginning to sound a bit more normal’. Maybe she just needed a little TLC from angels like Socrates ðŸ™‚
A few songs more & the E pulled up, the crowd flooded off Â & started up the two sets of stairs of the platform. Â One guy in a kind of casual business suit thing, stopped, looked back Â and stood there for a few seconds while I sang. He then walked back down the stairs, found a seat on the bench closest to me & sat there while I sang. I finished the song, leaned down to pick up my tuner when a hand holding a $20 appeared in my guitar case. I looked up. It was the man, He got it, he really got it, he got what I was saying in the song & was moved. As he dropped the twenty he did that ‘thing’ where an appreciative audience member will touch their heart with their hand & nod a few times in recognition. Then he went back to what he had begun 3 minutes prior, ascending the stairs out of the trains.
By now I did not even notice my guitar’s ‘twang’s’. In fact, for the most part, they had disappeared, along with the headache & the tummy ache – all the ‘glitches’ just fading into, being dispersed by all the love that was shared & exchanged underground tonight. We had gotten a good number of busking hours in & no one with a gun Â or a billy club bothered us. For all of that, we were happy.
Everything is indeed energy ðŸ™‚
Even though I almost cried a few times walking to the train, out of fear/ #NYPDPTSD (yeah, I’m sure that’s a thing) – Lucky me, I actually got to sing the Uptown A C E! And tonight my ‘regulars’ were so sweet. They kept stopping by & without me even asking, dropped bottles of water in my case along with their donations. Major #SubwayLove <3 During the evening I heard the kindestÂ words from one of my ‘regulars’ tonight: “Where’ve you been? Heidi, you’re the best thing about the NYC Subways, it’s been so quiet down here & we’ve missed you!”Â And finally, though last time I was on the “F” train headed towards Coney Island & tonight on the platform of the Uptown A C E guess who sat down for a few tunes, this time dressed, not ‘beachy’ but all ‘fancy schmanzty’ in this long beautiful yellow sued coat? Cynthia Nixon….again. And again she donated very nicely into my guitar case. What are the odds? Twice in four days in 2 different boroughs…Â #areyoufollowingmecynthiaÂ ? Â ðŸ™‚Â
When I got to the Uptown A C E tonight the bench was filled with homeless guys, first one, then two then three gathered to listen … must have been the cold weather pushing them underground. Honestly they are the most appreciative audience, smiling, dancing, singing along & foot stompin’ – all of which quickly turned into a mini church revival when I sang “People Get Ready’Â
Favourite face of the night: I noticed him with his cup in hand about half way through my tune. His eye’s were so sparkly & calm when I smiled at him. It was as if he was nodding with his eyelids. After my tune I walked the car & went up to him & said: “Where’s your cup?” He pulled it out from beneath his coat where he’d stashed it & I dumped the money I’d made into it. His eye’s smiled again. Â #ChristmasEveUnderNY
I wish I had a million dollars so I could, instead of passing the hat for tips while busking at Xmas, I could pass the hat & hand out $100 bills. How amazingly fun would that be?Â â€ª#â€ŽBuskersDreamâ€¬