LONG ROAD HOME (3)

By Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher
Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com
Chapter 3

Still There is Music in My Head

It wasn’t much after the interview that I was granted a transfer to FCI Coleman, Florida, closer to home or “nearer release,” a bureau-speak way to say closer to where you’re from. My mom was getting older and becoming more and more reliant on my brother, Mike. I had not seen Mom since my trial, so I wanted to be where I could maybe see her one more time before she passed beyond sorrow. She had been given a wheelchair and an oxygen supply by this time and we all knew it wasn’t going to be too many more years before she left us.

I was transferred and arrived in Coleman FL, FCI Medium in April of 2005. It was wonderful to me; the sweat lodge grounds were beautiful with trees and plants and a gazebo to keep us out of the sun and rain if we wanted. The gate was always unlocked and we were allowed to go out and just be in the area anytime the yard was open. It was truly a paradise compared to some of the places I had been. The brothers were all fine people for the most part and we had a really good group. We would come together and cook meals over the little fire pit and just all in all enjoy the fellowship. The band rooms and music program there were excellent as well and it wasn’t long before I was singing with a band and jamming a couple times a week.

August 2006 came and I was very excited that my brother was planning to bring my mom up to see me. She had to have a note from her doctor in order to get into the prison with her oxygen unit and wheelchair, so there would be several days before I was to receive my visit.

Then out of the blue I was paged over the prison loudspeaker system to report to the unit counselor’s office. It was after hours and I was kinda curious as to what the heck she could possibly want. My counselor’s name was Ms. Bates. She was a typical “entitled” federal employee who didn’t want to do anything for anybody. Usually she was out on the front unit porch smoking cigarettes all shift. She was so bad the fellas all called her “Ashtray Bates.”

Anyway, when I got there and asked if she needed to see me she said, “Yes, sign this so your mother can be cremated.”

I was blown away! I had just talked to my mom the day before and we were both excited about the upcoming visit. I demanded to know what the hell she was talking about.

“Well,” she said, “Your mother is dead and you’re the oldest living relative in the state, so you have to sign before they can do the cremation. Your brother wants you to sign and I need to be getting out of here.”

I will never forget those words. I refused to sign until I had talked to my brother. That is when I found out my mom had passed; my brother Mike found her when he went to check on her in the morning on his way to work.

Later that week my older brother, Bob and his wife came with Mike to see me there in Coleman for a couple hours. They were in Florida for the service and the spreading of the ashes. I was not allowed to attend.

Ms. Bates didn’t get home till after 10 pm that night, I was just too shook to sign anything and I hope it inconvenienced her. What a way to tell a person that their mother had passed away. Please believe me, some of these people are heartless and the indignities and inhumane treatment that they heap upon men in these places is untellable.

The next day I went to see the chaplain who made the arrangements for me and a few of the brothers I was closest with to hold a special pipe ceremony. After the ceremony I cut off all my hair to be burned in the fire of the next sweat lodge that weekend. Had it not been for the brothers, the sweat lodge, the sacred area and the ability to spend so much time in prayer and contemplation I don’t know if I would have made it thru that time of sorrow and loss. I miss my mom every day and can still hear her talking to me in my head at times.

When All is Said and Done – Still There is Music in My Head

I have always been a music lover, ever since I was a kid. I remember my brother, Bob giving me a couple albums for Christmas one year, maybe 1970 or 71; they were Carol King, Tapestry and Jethro Tull, Aqualung. I won’t lie and say The Tull was my favorite of the 2 because I tended to like the textures and use of the softer voices, and while the rock and hard rock was cool, it was in no way all I liked.

Then I saw Alice Cooper on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. It was still a big deal to be up that late and when seeing this crazy man with the snakes and the hanging and the guillotine, all stage show but with music that was really good and really loud, I was hooked. That was the year that I changed, mentally and emotionally. I was 12 years old, entering the rebellion that is puberty. I discovered Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doobie Brothers, all to the tune of a summer of excitement and desire to be a “rock ‘n roller” and in a band.

Man, I had it bad. I tried guitar, not enough hand dexterity; drums, not enough co-ordination, but once I settled on singing and discovered that it was the lead singers in the bands that generally got all the girls, this became my mission in life. So I began looking for likeminded youngsters to form a band. With what equipment, I don’t know, I didn’t have an amp or a P.A. to sing thru, but that was a small problem for down the road. For several years the hairbrush and the bathroom mirror were my training. Amazingly enough I had a pretty good voice and it got better as I got older. By the time I was 15, singing was definitely my main objective, everything else was secondary to my drive for a band.

So finally I found a few guys that were into it and they had this cool band named “Rasas.” Jiminy, were we bad! We practiced in the drummer’s basement. His parents wouldn’t allow him to move his drum set for some reason. Finally we got our first gig, it was to be a teen dance at the very same middle school I had attended till I got thrown out of the 8th grade. Now it’s roughly 2 years later and I’m no wiser, just a little wilder for real. We had some hokey songs we had halfway learned. Can’t even remember what they were, I think one was called “Midnight Ride,” can’t remember by who. Anyway, we played this dance and the money we got for it went to pay for the P.A. we had rented to play in the first place. The real bonus was being in a high school battle of the bands the next night. I’m sure we didn’t win, but I think we did okay. That was my first taste of really singing in front of people.

Now its 45 years later and I’m still in love with music. I still love to sing and have written many songs over the years. I can’t even remember all the different bands I’ve been in. Some of them were really cruddy, but the memories of a few I truly cherish were definitely record label worthy bands with all original music and songs. The talent in these places you would not believe; the caliber of musicians goes from the 3 chord geniuses to the neo classical heavy metal guitar virtuoso and unknown vocal phenomenon’s such as…you know, me.

Steven “Walks On The Grass” Maisenbacher

Yeah, I’m tooting my own horn, but why not? I’ve been perfecting my vocal abilities for 45 years and I can honestly say I’ve gotten darn good at what I do. I love the upper register vocal gymnastics and can go there with relative ease, all in the vein of Robert Plant, Rob Halford and Geoff Tate, but my wheelhouse is predominantly the Ozzy type stuff with the bluesy rock stuff as a sidecar. I’m not ever gonna stop loving music and just hope to be able to sing as long as I live. After all I’ve still got a lot of, Man, we would have never believed you could sing like that in a million years!!! left to be heard. Got a lot of songs to write too. I don’t know where they all come from. I just know sometimes I can feel ‘em rollin’ around in my brain like a bb in a soup bowl, then I’ll be doing something else and boom! they just appear and I try to get them to paper as fast as possible before they fade like a chimera into oblivion. and there it is, long live rock…

CAMOUFLAGE

Camouflage lyrics E, D, C-sharp, B © Steven Maisenbacher (Walks on the Grass)

How you look, and not with your eyes

Has always been your best disguise

Conclusions drawn without a clue

I’m so blind but that’s nothing new.

With someone else or all alone, invisible yet made of stone – Camouflage

Stealth is what you claim to understand

Your spots have changed or was that the plan

And you say you always know where to begin

Where a friend is foe, and a foe is a friend.

With someone else or all alone, invisible yet made of stone – Camouflage

Shattered truths matter to me; it’s over now so set me free

Pressed to give an afterthought, the price was right for what you bought

As simple as it was for me, I’m not sure I liked what I’d seen

Shatter the glass and break the spell, tell me that this isn’t hell

As you see no one is home, invisible yet made of stone – Camouflage

How you look, and not with your eyes

Has always been your best disguise

Conclusions drawn without a clue

I’m so blind but that’s nothing new

I don’t mind what I’ve never known, invisible but made of stone – Camouflage

I don’t mind what I’ve never known, invisible but made of stone – Camouflage

“The lost home that we are seeking is ourselves; it is the story we carry within our soul.” ~ Michael Meade

Published by Edna Peirce Dixon

I am an elder in my 9th decade. I have lived an ordinary life, I’ve done all the ordinary and expected things, went to school, got married, raised a family, tried to be a good person. Throughout this life I have also been a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life, questioning, challenging, learning, trying to make sense of the world and its conventions. Then in my golden years, as I sought to find meaning in my existence, some unexpected things happened and I’ve since learned it took a lifetime to prepare me for the challenge to come. My journey – indeed my calling - led me to come to know a remarkable man who happened to be an inmate in federal prison. Nothing could have been more foreign to my personal experience. GHOST DANCER Communicating daily for nearly nine years I had the opportunity to walk many paths with Ghost discussing our thoughts on many common interests with candor and respect. With enormous generosity Ghost has allowed me to share his wisdom and knowledge of his Native American heritage on Journeys of the Spirit. Over time, Ghost gradually revealed his life story in small bits, like scrambled pieces of some gigantic puzzle. Now, after spending more than 40 years in prison, Ghost Dancer is at last free and ready to tell his amazing personal story. As the saying goes, “you can’t make this stuff up” and as his friend and editor I can say this is a story so big that even after working with him for nearly nine years, I continue to be astonished as he shares new details my mind simply could never imagine. From the very first chapter, Ghost leads us on his journey and invites us to walk with him on his Nene Cate (Red Road). From the day he was born, a happy, loving gifted child, he endured heartbreaking sorrows, betrayals and exploitations. Through it all, Ghost fought a system determined to destroy him by any means, as he struggled to remain true to his calling. Through Ghost Dancer I also met and came to know Walks On The Grass, another federal prisoner whose story is also compelling even though very different. In Journeys of the Spirit, Walks has shared his decades-long journey from deep addiction to wholeness in LONG ROAD HOME and shared other bits of his story in ALONG THE WAY. Now as he approaches his August release into this crazy world of 2022 Walks shares his the thoughts and misgivings as he counts down to the big day in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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