May 13, 2015

Good For You - Songs From The Last Q*Ball Album

The future doesn't exist.

That's what the man told us before we entered the sweat lodge - or Temazcal, as it is better known by its indigenous people.  The man said lots of things about life before we went inside to cleanse ourselves of the past - lots of things that resonated with me, and I told him as much.  I had been reading a book, had brought it with me to Mexico, that touched upon the same topics - ego, transformation, not sweating the small stuff, letting go.


We all sat in a circle in pitch black darkness and inhaled hot lava, sweating bullets and sharing stories.  The man asked us to call out someone we wanted to forgive, and of course she immediately popped into my profusely perspiring skull.  There in the dark, waiting for my turn to speak, I half-listened to everyone else while half-thinking about what I was going to say.

I had forgiven her before.  Often.  Foolishly.  Blindly.  Once again, magical thinking came into play.  She would do better because I was doing better.  Because I was stepping up.  This intense love that I had made a good deal of effort to push away had returned to my life and given me hope for the future.  I had lost my house to a hurricane but gained a new identity, a new sense of purpose, and she was at the center of it all.

I wrote Good For You in that house, the last song I would write there before Sandy came a-knockin'.  She had left my soon-to-be-flooded-home a month earlier, lying through her teeth about reuniting with her ex - not for the first time nor for the last time.  I busted her - not for the first time nor for the last time - in the middle of the night and we argued in the dark before she fled, carrying her dog and her lies out the door.

My parents had been over earlier that same night, and as always, had asked me how my romantic life was progressing.  I told them that things were getting serious, that she and I were making bigger plans, doing 'couple' things.  My older-and-wiser folks were skeptical, but happy that I was happy.

After Mom and Dad left, and while waiting for her to arrive, I took a shower.  I was scrubbing under my left armpit when the thought just popped into my head.  Something was up.  Something was off.  It was a feeling I would become all too familiar with over the next year and a half thanks to her lies and games.  My Dad called her "The Infidel" way before she proved him right.

Later that night, in my bed, I confronted her.  It was her phone that gave her away, her ex's contact info-less text messages buzzing on my nightstand while she washed up in my bathroom.  It occurs to me now that every time she was caught, it was her phone that betrayed her - the same tool she used to lure me back, the same tool she used to deceive me again and again.  Just another dumb girl with a smartphone.

I knew this guy was back in her life, I even said it out loud in the shower to no one at all before she showed up at my place.  "He's back."  But I remained quiet.  Once in bed, I tried to get intimate - a test - and she shunned me, another bad sign.  I called her out about the text messages, jumping out of bed and interrupting her peaceful deception.  Even after she was busted, she still denied that anything was going on, scrambling to come up with some half-assed explanation.  Another history that would repeat itself more than once in a future that was yet to exist.
Life and love with her would prove to be a vicious cycle, only where I lived and the names of the other dudes would change.  But the outcome was always the same - a heaping pile of bullshit was uncovered, upon which I was done with her.  Then she would inevitably resurface, gently tugging at my wounded heartstrings, orchestrating her way back into my life.

The future doesn't exist - but it can still be determined by the paths we choose in the present.  Whatever is inevitable can be nudged in one direction or another based on the decisions we make.  Getting married.  Buying a house in a flood zone.  Running my own record label, choosing to pursue a music career, getting divorced - these were all factors that led me into someone's fickle arms.


Why do we gravitate towards things that ultimately are no good for us?  Why do we reach for the cola and the cookies and the cigarettes, fearless of the consequences?  Why do we fall in love with the wrong people?  Don't we know better?  Haven't we learned anything?

About 5 years ago, I had a minor cancer scare.  I was in constant pain in a tender area, my issues further intensified by a lack of medical cooperation.  I walked out of urologist offices before even being diagnosed, panicked and stressed, waiting to hear the worst news possible.  I can still remember getting the sonogram, glaring into the bright light above me with tears in my eyes and silently swearing off my sins as I was prodded and probed.

"I'll never do ______ again."

And of course once I was in the clear, my fears allayed, I regressed.  It didn't happen the very next day, but it happened.  It's not like I forgot about my promise to myself.  I just chose to ignore it because I wasn't being punished.  The pain had subsided and the regret was short-lived. It's a lot easier to live with your shitty behavior when there are no consequences.

Years later, I was on the receiving end of "I'll never do ______ again," the recipient of yet another lie.  And I chose to believe.  I chose to have faith, to be positive about someone whose history and behavior were raising others' eyebrows.  It was an adjustment from the typical cynical Ronnie Outlook and I staunchly defended my position.  Instead, I suggested moving in together, knowing in my heart that this woman's next indiscretion would be my breaking point, and reminding her as much.  Rationalizing that it was all worth the risk.  Because I was in love.  Because the hole in my heart had been plugged, at least temporarily.

There, in the cement hut, I waited my turn to forgive her.  Then I heard someone else say what I was really feeling.  "I choose not to forgive anyone because I don't really need to."  The implication was that the past was the past, and something to learn from, maybe even be grateful for.  The person who said this did so without bile, without anger in his voice.  Maybe it was the fact that it was 300 degrees in the dark little hut, but I think the tone was more representative of this person's personal growth - a maturity that I, as someone who has often exhibited a much shorter fuse, have often admired.

When my turn came, I echoed this sentiment.  I didn't even utter her name, because in the moment - in the now - she means nothing.  Just another ghost, another hard lesson that needed to happen for me to acquire peace in my post-Sandy existence.

In those last brutal months where I smelled smoke in our relationship even tho I had yet to see the fire, she reminded me that she had stayed on good terms with nearly all of her other ex'es - and there were plenty.  She spoke as if letting people down yet still being their Facebook buddy was some sort of badge of honor, a validation that hurt feelings can mend. 

I reminded her about the guy before me - the dude who was her "boyfriend" while I was her lover.  About his last text to her, which was simply "I fucking hate you."  That didn't sound like a forgiving sentiment to me.  And then I was the "boyfriend" - the pixie dust had faded - replaced by the stress of sharing space and responsibilities, dog poop issues, phone addiction issues, bedbug issues.  Y'know - Real Life Stuff.  Adversity.  The deceit remained tho - and remained our biggest issue - and once my gut could no longer stop screaming, it was I who left instead.

In the end, it wasn't hard to let go.  What happened was far from a surprise.  On my way out the door, I set a little fire of my own, only these flames burned from an honest place.  Surely other men have done worse when faced with the reality that they are being two-timed.  Some use their fists, others use weapons.  I used my laptop.  

Before hitting 'Publish,' I asked clearer heads to advise.  I asked my father to walk a mile in my shoes, then ask himself if he would just walk away with his tail between his legs and just forget.  I reminded my mother that I had been held hostage by tall tales, not for days or weeks but for months - time I would never cherish nor ever get back.  On top of all this, I had been provoked - unnecessarily, immaturely - and the best medicine would be to use this selfish woman's greatest flaw - her dishonesty - against her.

My motivation wasn't to break up the cheating party - I knew that would never happen.  I wasn't interested in teaching anyone a lesson, because some people - whether we love them or not - never learn.  My motivation was to break that vicious cycle, and I succeeded.  I was finally letting go, tossing the poison away instead of choking on more of it.  No more yearning, no wondering what might have been, not a single tear shed.  No more unfinished business, no more smoke signals or cute little reach-outs.  No more tugging at my heartstrings.  I pulled the curtain back - and a year later, it's still one of the best things I've ever done for myself.  The bullshit still existed, but I was no longer knee-deep in it.

She would reach out one last time.  "The damage has been done," her rambling remorseless e-mail began.  As if I were the one who had wrecked things.  As if I were the damaged one.  Do crazy people really believe their own bullshit?  It's one thing to screw up, but how about a little accountability?

But cowards are never accountable, there's always someone or something else to blame.  Before we cohabited, life in the moment was great.  And for the first time in a very long time, I was happy in the moment.  The sex was great, the food was great, the wine and the weed were plentiful.  I assimilated myself into her world and she into mine.  I was being brave.  Meanwhile, she was conspiring, creating moments of her own behind my back.  Because, hey - the future doesn't exist.  But your past can certainly come back to haunt you if you let it.

I emerged from the stone hut and cooled off in a nearby pond.  After everyone else in my party headed out, I hung back and thanked the man for further enlightening me.  He hugged me and thanked me in return for sharing my experiences, having no idea that sharing experiences is exactly what I have been doing in this space for the past 2+ years, and in my songs for the past decade.  

And isn't that what defines us as musicians and artists, as writers and bloggers?  Sharing our experiences?  Relating?  The man in the hut reminded us all that we should all do it more.  In my post-Sandy life, I have been blessed with many gifts.  Good health, good friends, a speedy recovery from this mess.  I'm in a kick-ass place, ready to run another marathon, ready to make another album.  

I'm back to living in the moment, except the moment isn't shrouded in false hope and perjury.  The struggle was real and now it is over.  I'm free.  I survived a hurricane, I survived The Infidel.  I got back on my feet.  And nothing has set me free more than The Truth. 

The Last Q*Ball Album by Ron Scalzo
Available now on iTunes and Amazon
Limited edition CD now available at


Finding it hard to believe
You're giving me a fair shake
You just wanted to sleep
Knowing my mind was wide awake

I don't have the strength to fight you
I just wanted to satisfy you

And I still love you
The things you felt in your heart for me
You know I felt them too

And ain't that a shame
I knew that there was something strange
You think that things are gonna change
But what you are is just insane

And I still love you
The things you felt in your heart for me
You know I felt them too

And when it's over
You've gotta do what's good for you
And I've gotta do what's good for me
When it's over
We'll do it all over again
When it's over

Ron Scalzo - piano, vocals
Daniel G. Harmann - vocals
Bill Nordwall - synths
GG Reynolds - violins
Matt Brown - guitars, loops
Shea Bliss - drums

Music and Words by Ron Scalzo
Copyright 2014 Bald Freak Music (ASCAP)

Recorded at Electrokitty Studios, Seattle, WA
Engineered and mixed by Matt Brown

Artwork by Joseph Milazzo
Mastered by Michael Judeh at Dubway Studios, NYC

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