23 12 2007

What is beauty?

Why is the world driven by beauty?

How is it that I know I wouldn’t be single right now if I were out-of-this-world beautiful?

Men will do anything for a beautiful woman. This I’ve come to know.

Maybe I should date a blind guy.


Blues Before Sunrise

16 12 2007

First and foremost, I’d like to thank my good buddies at the Guinness distillery in Dublin for supplying me with the mental lube for this particular blog entry.

With that said…

I am a musician. I am smart enough to be a doctor or a rocket scientist or whatever, but I am a musician. In regard to proficiency, I am a singer. I would normally never spout this, but as Guinness is the All-Seeing Elixer of Truth, my humility will be temporarily tossed aside and I will say that I am a goddamned good singer. I am Janis Joplin cross-bred with Renee Fleming, Robert Plant, Aretha Franklin, and Etta James. And maybe a little Chrisses Cornell and Robinson, just for good measure. I will melt your face off, or sing you to sleep, depending on the moment’s requirement. I will make you cry at your own wedding. I will lure you in with my siren song, just because I can.

But the funny thing is this: I am a pianist at heart. My favorite composer is Chopin, who wrote something like three pieces for voice, all of which basically sucked ass. I feel that instrument like nothing else. I love the percussiveness of fingers against keys against strings which in turn produce such bell-like clarity as to boggle one’s mind. I love grasping at the notes I seek, pulling them to me with something so measured and earned that only the perfect touch will do. I make love to this instrument. I earn its trust. I try to speak its language, to seduce it with dulcit words and the most clever of flourishes from my fingers. I LOVE this instrument. It is a challenge. It is partner to my own desires. It resides in a dimension altogether different from singing. Singers will tell you that true singing is the most sublime mastery of craft, a merging of one’s self with one’s instrument; I, as a singer, will tell you that placing one’s trust and passion in a creature so much greater than one’s own resonated soprano is a fervor like no other. It’s an addiction that heroin might someday revere.

I approached this great beast, this lacquered baby grand with lid closed and dust spattered thereabout, with respect. Out of practice for many a moon, I sought nothing from this encounter other than a reminder, a glimpse of what I’d left behind. Some pianos are female, some male, its gender immediately distinguishable with a little intuition and sensitivity; this one was definitely male. Steinway and Son, his lid proclaimed, as if it needed to be said. As if one couldn’t discern this from a furtive glance. Steinway and Son. Very, very good, but not the best I’ve ever played.

He was warm, cordial, as a glass of wine shared over lunch with a past lover. He was kind, forgiving, patient with my somewhat trepid fingers as they struggled to find Beethoven, stumbled over Chopin. But at last, when my fingers settled on the chords of E Major, he smiled as The Black Crowes came out of me. I breathed that unspeakably deep singer’s breath, and unleashed the smoke of my voice on that slow, blues-fueled progression. Descending, indeed. This was my love. This was the blues. This was what I’d been missing.

I know Puccini. I know Mozart, Bach, Handel, Verdi, and the like. I love them, with all the passion in my brain.

But my heart knows the blues. My soul knows the earth and the rain, and the dirty stench that is the guts of music. My passion lies there.

I’ve forgotten Beethoven.  I’ve forgotten Chopin. I’ve forgotten Bach.  But maybe that’s good, because my fingers have something else to say now. They’ve been chatting with my voice, and they think that maybe, just maybe, I’m ready to say my own piece.

Maybe I’ve filled in all the gaps, and mended the broken fences.

Maybe it’s time for me to take a honeymoon with my dusty piano, and see what we have to say to each other.

Christmas decorating… a photo journal.

10 12 2007

Hey everybody!!! Lots has happened this past week, including my mom getting better news than anticipated from her follow-up test: they don’t know why her free kappa/lambdas were so abnormally high, but it’s definitely not multiple myeloma. That makes EVERYTHING better. She has an appointment on Tuesday morning with an oncologist/hematologist to discuss possibilities, but it’s not as bad as we all thought.

Thank God!!!!

So, now that my spirits are basically through the roof at the news that my beautiful momma doesn’t have nasty bone marrow cancer, I thought I’d do a little holiday decorating. Yes, it’s time to put up the tree. But of course, I had to clean first.

My dining room is not so much a dining room as it is a storage space for all the promotional crap I need for job #2. Alas, the dining room is the only logical place to put the tree, so… with a lot of help from my friend Ali (of AliThinks, I tired to link her blog but I’m retarded), we turned this:

dining room

Into this!

dining room clean

So, this is my tree. Of course, I can’t have a normal tree. If you look closely, you’ll notice that the ornaments are not ornaments at all, but tiny liquor bottles that flash red and green!!

finlandia christmastini



There are various other flashy crazy liquor thingies on there, but I have not the attention span required to give them photographic justice. But I should mention that my tree topper is none other than the King of Rock and Roll himself:


Elvis was given to me as a feel-better present by my dear friend Ryan, and I could think of no better place for him than atop the pinnacle of the world’s most bad-ass Christmas tree. He watches over the goings-on of the flashy bottles, wishing beyond hope that he could have just one sip… but no. His job is to stand sentry, to fill the room with the charisma and machismo that only a spangled leisure suit-clad Elvis could bring.

So yes, I know you’re all jealous that you simply don’t possess the world’s most hell-raising, rock and roll, seizure-inducing Christmas tree ever, but I’m sorry. Not everyone can be as cool as I am. And of course, not everyone has unlimited access to various and sundry liquor paraphernalia. 😉


4 12 2007

I really don’t know what to say.  No news on Mom; we won’t get the re-test results until Wednesday at the earliest.  I cried all day yesterday.  I cried all day today, when I wasn’t at work.  I took the night off and cooked dinner for my sister and brother-in-law.  They’re not used to having a foodie in the house, so this was a welcome treat for them, and a needed creative release for me. 

I’m a nurturer.  I like to grow things and cook things and bake things and basically love things.  I like to make other people feel better through the things I do.  I’m making a blanket.  I feel the need to take all this worry and fear and anxiety and put it toward something that will one day keep me warm and snuggled.  So I’m making a blanket with the crochet  stitch Mom showed me yesterday.  The first block has lots of mistakes in it, but I really don’t care.  I’m leaving them. 

I’m so scared.  I don’t know what to do other than make this blanket. 

So I’m going to stop writing now and go work on the blanket. 

Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers.  I really appreciate it. 

My Beautiful Mother

3 12 2007

To say that I’ve had a rocky relationship with my parents may be the understatement of the century. I’ve seen my father twice in the past sixteen years, and that’s two times too many. Mom’s and my relationship began the slow process of healing when my father quit the scene in 1993. Since then we’ve both grown into the women we are today, shedding the layers of decades of abuse and turning our faces toward the warmth and light of emotional freedom. My sister and I have seen her through the loss of my brother, two minor strokes, brain surgery, pelvic surgery, and open-heart surgery. She is the strongest woman in the world, as far as I’m concerned. I understand her better now than I have in my entire life. And for the first time in 31 years, I drove to her house today not because she guilted me into coming, but because I NEEDED her.

And that’s when she told me about the test she was given for multiple myeloma and lymphoma. And that’s when she showed me the results, which were highly abnormal. The test was run again today, but she won’t have the results for at least three days.

I sat by her side today, for no reason other than to sit there. She showed me how to crochet. She gave me some of her mother’s hand-crocheted afghans. She ate a few of my bourbon balls, amazed that her tomboyish baby girl learned how to cook. I just sat there with her and tried not to think about it. And when I left, I hugged her like I’ve never hugged her before. I hugged her like I MEANT it. I’ll never forget the look on her face as I pulled out of the driveway. Something told me not to forget it.

I let Patty Griffin sing to me on the way home, as the tears leaked from my eyes and the gravity of this started to sink in. I’m not ready. I’m not ready for her to leave me. I just now came to understand exactly how much I need her, just today. Hours before she told me this.

Nothing is certain at the moment. Nothing is certain but the love I’ve suddenly come to understand for this woman who gave up everything so I could have a chance. My beautiful mother.

Goodness and Bourbon Balls

2 12 2007

bourbon ballsAnd to your left, you’ll see my first attempt at bourbon balls, a holiday favorite around these parts. Imagine pecans soaked for three days in Woodford Reserve, smashed up into balls with unspeakable amounts of sugar and butter, then dipped in melted bittersweet Ghirardelli chocolate. You can all thank Allan for passing on his mom’s recipe to me. I test drove a few of them this morning, and they were quite yumtastic. Be nice to me and you just might see some arrive via parcel post… 😉 Today’s baking adventures include bourbon-fudge brownies and cranberry-orange bread. So, to answer your question, I apparently DO miss the five pounds I lost last week, and am making every effort to get them back.

Today’s kick in the nuts is focussed on giving. Yes, giving, that heartwarming holiday tradition that creeps up to bombard us with guilt should we forget to participate. It’s that time of year when the good-hearted step in to remind us that there are those less fortunate than us who are constantly in need. Sadly, the efforts of the good-hearted are usually thwarted by the all-consuming materialism that is the good ole U.S. of A. in December; can’t give you any money today, gotta get to that last Bludgeon Me Elmo or Meth-Addict Barbie, or whatever it is that my narcissistic brats demand this year. Of course, the failure to be charitable at the holidays is not always this blatantly self-consumed; sometimes it’s just not a good time: we don’t have cash on us, we’re late for work, we have a puking reptilian beast possessing our toddler at home. But sometimes, it’s just pure self-absorption and tunnel vision. I saw a perfect example of this yesterday at that shameless corporate mogul, Sam’s Club.

Believe me, I feel bad enough for patronizing The Man, but when one does as much baking as I do, bulk purchasing is GOOD. I usually try to leave something foul and reprehensible in the restroom on my warehouse-shopping ventures as penance for my retail misdeeds; gotta make my sister proud. So anyway, on the trek between parking space and building entrance, I noticed the unmistakable tinkling of a Salvation Army volunteer’s bell. Sadly, I also noticed cart after cart after fucking SLED of goods being pushed past said volunteer, with nary a contribution from their operators. NOTHING.

I stopped in my tracks, mid traffic lane, struck dumb by this baffling display of consumerist oblivion. Sam’s Club is a destination of excess. For starters, you have to pay a membership fee to shop there. Next, nothing found within those fortified walls is NECESSARY. No one’s life depends on an 82-roll pack of TP, or a case of individually-wrapped and labeled for retail sale Chic-O-Stix. Sure, I might have some pissed-off family members on my hands if I show up to Christmas dinner sans goodies, but they’ll live. I simply can’t understand how people can justify spending hundreds of dollars on 50 cases of diet caffeine-free Dr. Pepper (WTF is that stuff, anyway?), but can’t cough up a little bit of change for the people who are genuinely in need.

I’m one of those weirdos who gives all the time, not just when someone in a red cap is staring me down and thrashing a bell. I’m always happy to see a Salvation Army volunteer, and I always deposit a handful of change in his or her bucket, no matter how strapped for cash I am. It’s a reminder to me that I should be grateful for the luxury of shopping at a grocery store, when so many have nothing. I don’t have much, but I have enough. And it feels good to see a smile erupt on the volunteer’s face when I give whatever I can to the cause of helping others. So, when you’re out and about, procuring whatever it is you need this holiday season, be sure to give a little to those wonderful men and women who donate their time and body heat to the cause of helping those less fortunate. It will put a smile on your face, and it will remind that volunteer that there really are good-hearted, giving people left in this world of excessive consumerism.