Thursday, September 17, 2009

Hills and Boulders

I feel like Sisyphus. It's deeply wearying to constantly go uphill.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Farewell

Yesterday was shocking - both Farrah Fawcett AND Michael Jackson?

Death makes us look back. So here's something from 1985...



I'd write more, but MomVee already did it, and better than I could.


Exit stage left, moon walking.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nouveau Cabaret



The Last Cigarette (me, SK and the fabulous FM) will perform again at Veloce Club on Thursday, July 9th. Sorry folks, it's already sold out.

But why Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water", you ask?

Simple. FT, who owns Veloce Club, has requested it. Mostly I think for the sheer hilarity of watching us try to sing it.

Now try to imagine a breathy sex kitten version of it. OR, to compound the ridiculousness, a cappella? I know. Who WOULDN'T want to see that?!?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Press

Our first "press" mention - in Makeup Loves Me. Obviously, I think she is brilliant and insightful.

If you haven't bought a Luxe Now gift card for someone in NYC (such as ME, for example), hurry up and do so.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mirrors

There has been discussion buzzing around the girl-talk circles.

We all value certain things about ourselves. Sometimes those things are not even necessarily "positive." And we all want to be valued for those things.

"A" values her independence, her force of will, her biting wit, and her formidable strength.

"B" values her "evil brain," her ridiculousness, and her inability to conform even when she is trying really hard to.

"C" values her beauty and sophistication, her unwavering ambition, and her commitment to following through.

"D" values her discipline and talent, demonstrated in the various things she has worked hard to do well.

So what happens when they perceive that they are valued by others for entirely different things... or for things that only represent the tiniest bit of what they are? Or for illusions? Or for traits that almost ANY other woman can embody?

There's a question I can't stand when asked in the context of relationships: "WHY do you love me?" I wholeheartedly dislike being asked that. And I rarely ask it. Seems to me that's the sort of thing that is best volunteered, not solicited.

But sometimes you want to know if you are SEEN. And doubt, while it can dissipate over time, can also grow until it blocks all else. The Girls have all been recounting various relationships that have ended because this particular doubt couldn't be tamed. The sociopathic alcoholic stalker - well, that may not be the best example because he is a sociopathic alcoholic - claimed to love me. But what he "loved" was my appearance and my attention. Everything else was actually a flaw or value neutral in his perspective. All that I am (all that we ALL are), and what he valued was that he thought I was "pretty"? The Fabulous SL has doubts because her man's ex is someone for whom she has no respect. I know what you are thinking, why worry about his ex, for god's sake, get over it. Give him a break, haven't we all slummed at one point or another? But I understand how she feels, I get it. If he once valued this woman, what does that say about what he values, in general, and specifically, what does that say about what he sees and values in SL?

But then...

Sometimes it can't be articulated. Sometimes it's more about timing and "readiness" than about the specific personalities involved. And that's ok, isn't it? At the end of the day, love, like all emotion, is not always rational.

And I suppose that's one reason why we all need multiple people in our lives - whether ourselves, our friends, colleagues, family, lovers. Every person is a mirror of sorts and reflects back different things.

Maybe that's enough - that in the aggregate of the mirrors in your life, your reflection is complete.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Mental Masturbation

Earlier this year I was obsessed with opening lines of a novel. And since obsession, like misery, loves company, I dragged others into the abyss with the following email chain:

--------------------------------------------------

From: C-Belle
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

Because this topic has been on my mind lately, I brought up the
subject at every meeting I had today. Who knew that salon owners were
so well-read?

This is what I got:

"Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by
literature." (Anita Brookner)

"All children, except one, grow up." (Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie)

"All this happened, more or less." (The salon owner couldn't remember
the book, but I googled it right then and there - LOVE my new
blackberry: Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut)

My personal favorite:

"Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-
ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate
to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta." (Lolita, Nabokov)

Yours?

--------------------------------------------------

From: SK
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel


"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were." (Gone with the Wind - Margaret Mitchell)

"The beet is the most intense of vegetables." (Jitterbug Perfume - Tom Robbins)

"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." (Neuromancer - William Gibson)

--------------------------------------------------

From: MM
Subject: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"I had a farm in Africa." (Out of Africa, Karen Blixen, aka Isaac Dinesen)

But I liked Lolita a lot, too.

Also "When you wet the bed, first it is warm, then it cold..." (Ulysses, James Joyce)

"I married for the first time at 37." (Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown)

It's a pain in the ass waiting around for someone to kill you." (Roger Zelazny, Sign of the Unicorn)

Not the most brilliant or literary sci-fi fantasy ever, but a great opening line.
Anyone for "Arma virumque cano...." ??????

--------------------------------------------------

From: Gorgeous Hunk O'Man (JF)
Subject: RE: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." (Stephen King, The Gunslinger).

Though typically not a fan of the writer of our nation's fast food version of horror, I find this book spare, compelling, and rather disturbing. Interestingly enough, he wrote it in his early days at the peak of his alcohol abuse, which may be another reason I like it so.


--------------------------------------------------

From: JR
Subject: RE: Favorite Opening Lines Of A Novel

"Call me Ishmael."

Given my company .... could it be another?

--------------------------------------------------


The email exchange then drifted to favorite closing lines, and novels with a "novel within a novel structure," etc. And since my every contribution involved Nabokov's Lolita in some way, MM finally asked me what my obsession with that book was.

I blame The Police and Mr. M, my 6th grade English teacher.

After crushing on Sting, and listening obsessively to "Don't Stand So Close To Me", I went up to Mr. M after class one day and asked him:

"that Police song has the lyric: 'just like that, old man in, that book by Nabokov.' What book?"

And Mr. M whipped out a copy of Lolita (he just happened to have one handy) and pressed it into my hands in a way that would have made me intensely uncomfortable had I already read it.

But it all makes sense now. No wonder I believe love affairs should be difficult, socially unacceptable, and result in someone dying.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Commercial Message

So I've been quiet on the blogging front of late.

IC and I have *finally* launched Luxe Now. Check it out to see what we have been toiling over the last many months. Also, if you are so inclined, go HERE, to our facebook page and become a fan! Do it for me. NOW. Oops, I meant, PLEASE. Rats, I always confuse those two words.



Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Occasional Ray of Perversity

Ergo and I were discussing our blogs this morning - a topic that we revisit on a fairly regular basis: do our blogs reveal the kind of people we are? Since we know each other both on and offline, we seemed to be the best people to answer this question for each other.

me: "Your REAL quirkiness comes out a bit, here and there..."

Ergo: with yours, "an occasional ray of perversity shines through. but you are very subtle. it's your spy geisha thing"

I suppose the big takeaway is that I see Ergo as quirky, and she sees me as perverse.

True enough.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tests

I spoke to a friend tonight, one whom I haven't talked to in a very long time. But we were friends when we were young and absolutely fearless.

And my heart is breaking for her.

I can't write what happened.

What do you do when something happens to break you so thoroughly that you feel you can't even move, can't even breathe? That you don't even recognize yourself anymore?

She doesn't know how to put the pieces back together.

When I was living in Beijing, I was home one night, watching TV. I can't remember the name of the show...

One of the characters was a woman whose husband had left her. She was raging with anger and grief, and wondering why, with her heart broken, she was still alive. Don't you need a whole, functioning heart to live? And despite the betrayal and hate, she still wanted him. But not with her heart, which was broken. Not even with her mind, because she knew that there was no going back. She still wanted him with her legs, her arms, her breasts, her hips, her groin, her hands, her lips. As if her body parts were mindless animals which only knew need and desire and were completely outside her control.

And the worst part of it is, that only describes one part of what my friend is feeling. The other part is... worse.

She needed me to talk about certain things. She needed me to remember and to be back in that place, with her, now.

And so I did.

We all think we are strong. But we never really know, not unless we're tested.

I'm think I'm failing this test. Because while I did what she needed, I desperately wish that I had never answered my phone.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Scent Obsession

A few days ago, MM, who works with perfume, sent me an ad for a newish fragrance (released Autumn 2008) that she thought was "conceptually and olfactorily right up (my) alley."



MM has a great nose - she can identify most perfumes instantly (and understands both their composition and dry-down), she has great taste, and she is an insightful and generous reader of personality.

So I am happy to take her advice, scent unsmelled, and perhaps I'll finally get around to placing an order for the stuff one day soon. It doesn't hurt that a few months ago, when I wasn't obsessing about Chanel 19, I was obsessing about amber and vetiver and leather.

But, obsessions change. Especially perfume obsessions, especially according to the weather.

While it seems like Persephone is still with Hades, I am fairly confident that warm weather will eventually arrive. And with the prospect of summer, quite predictably, I turn back to Shiseido's White Rose. I don't particularly care for rose, as a scent. Or even as a flower. But I smelled it the last time I was in Tokyo, loved it, and in a fit of insanity, decided NOT to buy it.

To add insult to injury, it's pretty much impossible to find in the US. It will have to wait until I am back in Asia.

So until the day I find myself in the Ginza district of Tokyo, it's Chanel 19.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

WARNING: Music Geekiness Ahead

Have been singing "Night And Day" - not just singing it, but really trying to figure it out. So I've been listening to it far more carefully that I normally would.

It's unusual for a song of that era. It's longer, for one. Instead of the typical four 8-bar sections, if is divided into 6 sections of 8 bars - with an ABABCB structure (instead of the more typical AABA).

This song has an unusual chord progression as well. And all sorts of lovely crunchy chords such as major sevenths built on the flattened sixth of the key, resolving to dominant sevenths. My favorite part starts with a chord built on the augmented fourth of the key, and descends by semitones before hitting the supertonic minor seventh. Gorgeous.

The only reason I can somewhat do justice to this song is that the vocal melody is a bit unusual - the melody is incredibly simple, with all the notes hovering around the SAME note for the most part, with all the lovely chords meandering about underneath.

After an early dinner with BM (during which we had the first celebrity sighting of 2009 - Dan Ackroyd), I came home and went directly to my piano. It was a lovely evening.

Of course, the most noteworthy part of it was that BM and I both choose to detox and NOT drink tonight.

While I am rather proud of that, I will admit that as I type this, I am sipping a bone dry white, and still humming.

A Bad Influence

I did yoga this morning after a long yoga-drought.

My mat seemed to mock me. Poses that were once effortless were grueling and there was a moment when I thought I would rest in child's pose. But I kept pushing through, and finally my head left the game. And when that happened, muscle memory kicked in... and something else. For the first time ever, with no expectations of success, and in possibly the worst shape of my life, I hit and held "crow" for a full 3 breaths.

Of course once I realized what I was doing, I started THINKING again, and immediately pitched forward and landed on the top of my head.

But that doesn't diminish the feeling of success.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Game Theory

Talking about relationships lately... triggered by the most common trigger for such conversations - the dissolution of one.

But amongst my group, the angle of that conversation that has been most consistent across the last many years is not "why didn't he love ME," but rather, "why didn't I love him? Am I too selfish or unrealistic or cold?"

During the most recent conversation on this topic, I expounded on my take on it - which revolves around relative power distribution.

But first, more background. This particular variation of the "relationship discussion" is about rejecting men who are decent and kind and trustworthy - GOOD men without commitment issues or heavy emotional baggage or other "major" flaws.

Of course, the answer might be as simple as "we didn't love them." But what lies beneath that rather facile explanation?

Since I only remember 40% of what people (including myself) say, it comes as no surprise that I need my friends to recount certain conversations to me. SK and IC have both independently reminded me that they once asked me if I loved my ex-husband. Apparently, I answered, "No, but I trust him."

Putting aside the possible explanation that we are a cold-hearted bunch incapable of loving, why did we not appreciate what we had or could have? Optimistically, I choose to believe that we just haven't yet met the "right" men - specifically, men whose opinions we care about, men for whom we will make the continued effort to make happy, men we respect. (At the end of the day, what we choose to respect, TRULY respect, is highly personal and sometimes inexplicable. )

But to drill deeper, it comes down to power, specifically in the inequality of it. With most of my past relationships, there was no equality vis-a-vis power. I held all of it. And that never held my interest for long. According to SK, witnessing my marriage was like "watching a mountain lion trying to date a stuffed animal."

So if a balance of power is important, desirable, even... that opens up another can of worms.

To quote SK again: "that's when relationships get scary."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Scientific Advancements

I had a revelation of sorts last night. But then, 3AM is the hour of revelatory moments.

The problem with revelations is that MANY are necessary before they "stick."

But I've had this particular revelation for years now. There's a time for velcro and a time for teflon.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Lost at Whole Foods

Exactly a year ago, giving into the traditions of the date, I wrote Breaking The Fast. Which was quickly followed by Gotcha! when people called, IM'd, and emailed me to express their opinions.

Apparently, the joke's on me, 'cause I found myself lost and confused at Whole Foods just the other day, saved only by WC who coached me over the phone on 1. how to identify a mango and 2. how to pick a ripe one.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Looking From A Window Above

I have been looking out at the NYC skyline quite a bit lately. That's not a view you can get in Manhattan unless you are on a high floor - and my 6 story prewar walk-up building just doesn't provide that perspective.

I mentioned this to SK who informed me that I look out the window ALL the time, even in my apt where the view is just the street outside.

Apparently I like looking out windows. Regardless of the view.

I just wish I had a tail and whiskers to twitch. I'm sure that would enhance my enjoyment of it.

On Truth

The Blind Man and the Elephant

It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant~(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation~Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side, ~ At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant ~ Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here?
So very round and smooth and sharp? ~ To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant ~ Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands, ~ Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant ~ Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like ~ Is mighty plain," quoth her;
"'Tis clear enough the Elephant ~ Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most; ~ Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant ~ Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail ~ That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant ~ Is very like a rope!

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion ~ Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right ~ And all were in the wrong!

-------------------------------------------------


I prefer to think that each was right. Most things you try to understand are far more complex than an elephant - like people, for example, and standing back to view at a distance doesn't help.

Depending on the time of day, the situation, or the observer, the truth of a thing changes. Or, more accurately, a different truth might be revealed. Especially when standing close enough to touch.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Speed

Got home last night drunk and cranky.

I slept for a couple hours and woke to Bach's Two Part Inventions speeding through my mind. In particular, one of Glenn Gould's recordings where he flew through them at such a pace that I was actually stressed out listening. I remember after listening to that particular rendition, I practiced them at that same breakneck tempo and when my piano teacher heard me, her comment to me was: "Why are you trying to get them over with so quickly? It won't make the lesson end any sooner."

But I digress.

When I woke up a few hours ago, I played them. Started nice and slow, then sped up, then sped up some more, then sped up a lot more.

I remember what made me cranky. But for the life of me, I can't figure out WHY it did so. When others are inexplicably cranky, I assume that there is another, perhaps completely unrelated, explanation for it. I could spend time trying to figure out that underlying reason for myself. Or I could just go back to playing Bach WAY too fast and lose myself in speed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

ISO Ilse Sass

January 2008, after catching the ending of Fame on television, I googled my voice teacher and found an obituary for her. Ilse Sass passed away on November 18th, 1992. She died at Roosevelt Hospital, after a long career of teaching at Julliard and Manhattan School of Music and the Henry Street Settlement. There was no mention of services or where they were held.

I recently spoke of her, and now feel compelled to try to track down some trace of her. I've called each of the places above looking for someone who might remember her... specifically, I'd like to find out where she is buried, because I'd like to go and pay my respects.

I've had no luck, but I'll keep trying.

She was survived only by her sister, Leine Seligmann. But given their ages when I knew them, it is likely they are both gone now. They had no children, apparently left no web trail (other than Ilse Sass showing up on random websites for the movie Fame, in which she played a small role), and I'm at a loss as to how to find her, or them.

But if they were buried rather than cremated, it was probably in NYC. I've even tried calling some funeral homes in NYC, but I've gotten nowhere.

I'm hoping that someone who knows something about Ilse Sass will stumble upon my blog and contact me.

Anyone?

In Third Person

BTW, had my nightmare again last night. The same one. And out of the pantheon of violent, gory dreams that my subconscious dishes out on a regular basis, it's the only one that truly seems like a nightmare. But happily, the frequency of this particular dream has slowed dramatically over the years.

I know what the impetus was. A play. It was an intellectually interesting enough exercise about love, desire, violence, loss, and, in a meta kind of way, about the creative (often tortured) act of writing. The focus on one theme in particular was designed to be deliberately uncomfortable and provocative. I understand all that. I told SK about it and she was surprised that I hadn't just walked out. I told her that I had wanted to leave. But as soon as I said the words, I realized they weren't true. I could have left, had I wanted to. And I would have left, had I wanted to. But this was "art" and was intended to provoke laughter, derision, titillation, sympathy, and discomfort. And that it succeeded in doing those things, was a good thing, from the perspective of all of those involved in putting it on stage.

And hell, putting certain things under the glare of stage lights, can give you back the power of choice - to turn away, to walk out, or to look directly at it. And regardless of what choice you make, it's YOURS to make.

But nonetheless, I expected the nightmare and am only surprised that it came a few days late.

Two interesting observations:

1. It faded immediately upon my waking.

2. It was blurry, and in third person. As if I were watching events unrelated to me unfold from behind a filmy curtain. Or as if someone had smeared vaseline on the camera lens.


Of course, when I told IC about my nightmare last night, her only comment was: "don't sociopaths think of themselves in third person?"

Thanks, IC.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pairings

Dialing, texting, emailing, blogging... there are many activities that can (but certainly not SHOULD) be paired with drinking.

But what about drinking and kissing?

In my now epic trashy novel (which I've been writing off and on for the last 7 years and which will NEVER see the light of day) I have documented dozens of Best First Kiss stories from anyone and everyone willing to share theirs. Not someone's FIRST kiss, but a BEST first kiss with a particular person. The stories range from comical to tragic, but there are two major thematic elements that emerge: alcohol and stairwells. Makes sense, yes? A lowering of inhibitions coupled with a sense of urgency to plant one on someone before he/she leaves.

SL in Beijing is very affectionate when she's had one or two or twelve too many. But on those occasions, she has her friends looking out for her, and while we don't necessarily prevent her from showering affection on the random guy sitting at the other end of the bar, we make sure that nothing TOO untoward happens. She just always looks so HAPPY when she hits that groove.

Of course, one doesn't always have the entourage along as a safety net. And often that pairing of drinking and kissing can be yucky, or just plain silly, or forgettable, or embarrassing, or worse.

And then sometimes, it can be lovely.
"With Bacchus and Venus we'll ever combine,
For drinking and kissing are pleasures divine."

-old English ballad

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Text Me

Spoke with the fabulous MM in Beijing earlier this morning over skype.

The situation is bleak in Beijing - expats are being called back to their home countries and Centro, my favorite bar there, has been booked almost daily with farewell parties.

Beijing has already changed, and possibly beyond my recognition.

It's already been three years since I was last there - I've been gone for almost longer than I lived there. And I miss it.

I was asked recently if I've ever missed someone so much that it hurt. I'm sure I have. I may choose not to remember it, or to rationalize the emotion as stemming from something else entirely, but I can't possibly be a stranger to that feeling. Can I?

However, it occurs to me that my most important "love affairs," have been with the cities I have called home.

NYC MM, once asked me if I miss talking to my ex-husband. Specifically, when going about my day and something funny or noteworthy happens, do I still reach for my phone to send him a text message? If I read something in the news that might interest him, is my first instinct still to forward it to him? If I see a funny sign on the street, do I take a picture of it and still think to forward it to him?

The answer is "no." MM asked me that question because she's a strong communicator that way - she's a big fan of the interesting or relevant or funny little tidbit quickly sent via text or email to entertain, to share, to show that she's thinking of you. In some ways, I am, too, but to be frank, the husband was not high on the list of people I would think to share such things with. (Which, no doubt, helps explain the "ex" part of the equation).

And the things that catch my eye are almost always about my physical surroundings - about the city I live in. And the appropriate audience for those little tidbits is... the city itself. Can you text a city?

"Love what you've done with this park."

"What happened to that whole building? WTF were you thinking?!?"

"Remember the last time I walked down this street? The sun angled in exactly the same way and all the feral cats who were sunning themselves on that low wall mewled at me in unison as I walked by..."

"I kissed a lovely boy while standing RIGHT HERE. What was his name again? Oh yes, that's right."

Wo xiang ni.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Encore

I went on a blind date when I first returned to NYC, set up by my cousin. The date lasted all of 45 minutes, which I felt to be the minimum amount of time I could spend without appearing rude. He was (and still is), my cousin's good friend, so my usual exit strategies weren't possible.

Within the first five minutes, even before I was halfway through my first drink, he asked: "Have you ever been in love?"

Oh please.

The question is perfectly appropriate after certain milestones have been reached - namely, physical nakedness and/or emotional intimacy. But NOT within five minutes of "Hello, my name is..."

SK and I were rehearsing last night, trying to figure out what to sing as an encore. We won't have time to practice our encore song with our pianist, so our options are limited to what could work a cappella, preferably in close harmony. And we rejected song after song. But of course, the more wine we drank, the more that certain bad ideas seemed like good ones to us.

And as we howled with laughter at our renditions of "More Than Words" and "Only You," I was thinking of a conversation she and I had about the songs we had chosen to sing for our first show.

Jazz standards, as with most songs of any genre, are about love.

But with the typical jazz standard, the topic of love isn't treated with irony or subversiveness. It's all about unadulterated love and longing:

"I get misty just holding your hand"
"You'll never know how slow the moments go 'til you are near"
"You make me smile with my heart"

SK and I exclaimed during an early rehearsal before that first show: "Who the fucks feels this way?!?"

Actually, it was more SK wondering that. I was too busy trying to learn the melodies and memorize the damn words to reflect on their meaning. And it wasn't just SK who understood the kinds of songs we were singing... FT, in a conversation prior to that first show, when I informed him that I was planning to break The Fast, had one thing to say to me: "As long as it's AFTER the show. You'll sing these songs better if you aren't getting any."

But I digress, in a way. There is such emphasis on love, on being in love, and on potentially being hurt and having your heart broken.

I have yet to hear a jazz standard about the thing that weighs most heavily on me: the guilt of hurting another.

I don't know why that's so hard to understand. It's the simplest thing in the world, from my perspective. I've been hurt, I've cried over break ups and rejection, but I also got over that pain in a blink of an eye. What took YEARS to get over, was guilt.

The question for me isn't: "have you ever been in love?" The answer might be yes, it might be no, that seems almost irrelevant to me.

Because the thing that most frightens me, is betraying the obligations that are incurred when you are loved.

Someone should write a song about THAT.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is That What The Kids Are Calling It These Days?

me: "And then he pulled a marinating whole chicken out of the fridge."

SK: "Is that a euphemism for something?"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Synchronicity

Just the other day, I was listening to Dvorak's Symphony No. 9 "New World"... it was in a context in which I didn't expect to hear it, and I didn't recognize it immediately. Embarrassingly, I incorrectly identified the opening chords as Barber's Adagio.

But with music school on the brain, this morning I checked out the performance schedule for the pre-college division of my former music school. And what did I discover? On March 7th, the Manhattan School of Music Symphony Orchestra performed that very same piece. This is the very same orchestra (albeit with a completely new set of student musicians) whose performance of this piece was my introduction to it.

I'm not sorry I missed it (well maybe just a little). Rather, I'm pleased that at about the same time that I was listening to it (give or take 12 hours), it was being performed and heard by many.

But it strengthens my resolve to trek to MSM one Saturday soon before the spring semester ends. I don't think any of my former teachers are still there, but as it says in my profile:

"I am always drawn back to places where I have lived, the houses and their neighborhoods."

I may not have lived there, but I did grow up there.

Bach Break

Taking a break from Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu to spend a little time with Bach's Fantasia in C Minor.

I am endlessly in awe of Bach. How is it that even with such a comparatively easy piece, everything gets swept way, leaving behind only the music.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Death by Boot Butter

The life of a road warrior is surreal.

It becomes distressingly easy to forget what city you are in, and all hotel rooms look the same.

Certainly all hotel bars look the same.

And it's isolating. Even when I was married, the only person who ALWAYS knew where I was, was my assistant. And he or she would be the only person I would speak to for days at a time (not counting the people I was trying to con into buying whatever I happened to be selling).

But I was a road warrior back in the day when cell phones were the size of refrigerators and blackberries were just a fantasy.

It's still isolating now, but at least you have a steady stream of emails and texts (preferably from friends, not colleagues) to help you feel at least somewhat connected.

I used to talk to Gorgeous Hunk O' Man (JF) once a month or so. But now that he's taken a new position (a road warrior position), I'm hearing from him almost everyday. And I reply back, as instantly as I can. Entertainment is sorely needed, and he's a friend in great need of it. There's a reason most of the road warriors I know are raging alcoholics. JF is currently in Tulsa, considering ending it all. Not that I blame him. Tulsa? *shudder*

JF: I'm in Tulsa for three days and thinking of shooting myself repeatedly. I mean a) Oral Fucking Roberts University is here and b) there is something in my bathroom called BOOT BUTTER. Jesus God.

me: Boot Butter? Stick it in your bag RIGHT NOW. And don't shoot yourself, darling. Not in Tulsa. You should go gently into that good night while in a bathtub in Paris, an empty fifth of vodka rolling on the bathroom floor and a drugged out hooker on the bed. On second thought... I think that's been done. OK, will fly down to meet you and we can shoot each other.

JF: It's in my bag. Trust. And I'll give the front desk your name so they'll give you a room key. Every fag should go out with his hag.

me: I'm imagining the news coverage when they discover our bodies:
"Two unusually attractive people were found shot to death in a hotel room in downtown Tulsa. Initial findings suggest that they shot each other while fighting over a container of Boot Butter."

JF: I live for you, I really do.

And I have no idea why this has suddenly popped into my head: I REALLY need to visit my music school one Saturday. And soon. I'm feeling terribly nostalgic for the days before I realized that I could drink like a 250lb man, and when all that mattered was my love affair with a piano. Any piano. As long as it was in tune.

But first, I have to give JF some more attention. He's now wondering if he should rub boot butter onto his face and asking if it's possible that boot butter could become the new La Mer. And oh - he's planning our joint funeral. Mozart's Requiem Mass and something about hiring professional mourners to wail theatrically.

*sigh*

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Fall of the Wall

"How do you keep the experience?"

- from Six Degrees of Separation

Louise Kittredge, played by Stockard Channing, asks this question near the end of the movie, as she recounts the story of the imposter, Paul, played by Will Smith, and how he affected their lives. How do you keep the experience without turning it into an anecdote, an amusing story to dine out on? Especially if that experience meant something and had impact.

That's something I've considered often. For something to be categorized as An Experience, there needs to be something affecting about it. Maybe even profound and/or passionate - regardless of whether the passion is positive or negative. Human nature is resilient. We get over things, whether sooner or later. Assuming a certain degree of emotional health, we move on. I've always considered that to be both a blessing and a tragedy. The blessing part is obvious. But even if it is negative passion - let's say, a broken heart - shouldn't that be REMEMBERED? If it meant that much once, shouldn't it be more than just a bloodless memory?

But the point of this post isn't to muse on how to keep An Experience, but rather, how to have them in the first place.

I wrote a few months ago that the walls I had put up several years back are still up. They are now thinner and more transparent, but still there - and in a way that goes far beyond sensible caution.

But in order to have "Experiences", the walls need to come down.

Anyone have a sledgehammer?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Secrets

What happens when a "secret" is revealed?

I'm not the best communicator - I keep my secrets close. Actually, that's bullshit. I'm remarkably free WRITING them. It's SPEAKING them that gives me pause.

I've written before that perhaps I shouldn't be so guarded. I understand why I am, especially following the events of the last few years, but at some point, I should get over that.

In an old post, I wrote about finding a letter I had written when I was 16 years old, addressed to my "26 year old self." Inspired by that, in 2005, while sitting in a cafe in Beijing, I wrote another letter, this time addressed to my "45 year old self."

I won't go into the specifics, but I wrote that while I hoped I was "happy," what I hoped for more was that I could look back on the choices that I had made and judge them to be brave.

SK says I am too meta for my own good, and I know that I am most comfortable living in my head... so even as I wrote about bravery, I was conflicted. Sometimes bravery is just stupid. Sometimes cowardice is just smart.

But while it's easy to get lost in the mental masturbatory maze of trying to sort out the existential definitions of bravery and cowardice, that's not the paradigm that feels right to me.

In the middle of the night, as I continued working on Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu in C# Minor, I realized that my approach to this piece is actually the "right" paradigm for this current line of thinking.

Focusing on a single measure at a time is all well and good. (and in the case of this particular piece, necessary). It can be overwhelming to think of the piece as a whole at this stage (at least for me). But there's always the moment when all the individual measures have to be linked together as phrases, and those linked together as movements, and those linked together as the entire piece.

And approaching the piece as a whole can change the approach to a single measure. You realize that the dynamics or tempo need to be altered to suit what came before and will follow after. And sometimes an unexpected melody is revealed - the "secret" of the piece.

Now for the dash of reality and common sense: If I just spent time actually listening to a recording of the entire damn thing rather than just endlessly repeating a single measure at a time, that would be obvious from day 1. Not a secret at all.

So that's my ridiculously long winded way of saying... perhaps these "secrets" I hold so close, are not secrets at all. Instead, just a means of procrastination, of creating distance before I have to face the big picture. Is that bravery or cowardice? Stupidity or just practicality?

I'm not making sense to even myself anymore. So I think I'll just listen to my second crush, Vladimir Ashkenazy, play the damn thing. From beginning to end.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Retreat

Sometimes things get too close.

I had a bad night tonight; which reminded me of a far worse night.


And I know guilt should be the last thing I feel. Funny, when rage is what you WISH for.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cougar Barbie

From MM...

I'm DYING. And wondering if I should be concerned that "cougar" has entered into our everyday conversation the way that it has...


Monday, March 2, 2009

Zen and Chopin

I have been laboring in a state of self-imposed isolation of late, emerging only rarely to remind myself that there is indeed an off-line world.

The only reason I haven't gone completely insane while locked up in my apartment is this:

Chopin's Fanstasie Impromptu in C# Minor


(Wait through the long pause at the beginning)

As always, my first reaction is sadness and frustration that a piece I used to KILL when I was a child is now completely beyond my skills. Because this is such a technically demanding piece, I can't just fake my way through the entire piece. I need to relearn it much the same way that I learned it in the first place: endlessly repeating single measures at a time until my fingers, hands, wrists and arms cooperate. (Thank goodness for my digital piano and earphones, or I'd have been kicked out of my apt a long time ago).

And it's precisely because the piece is so insanely difficult, that I am able to practice it at all. If it were any easier, I'd fake my way through it a few times until I deem it "good enough" (although, not "good" by any measure) and move on with my life.

But "good enough" is NOT enough for this piece. For a very simple reason: in order to play it AT ALL, you have to know it almost perfectly. This piece doesn't lend itself to being faked.

And so it's a single measure at a time. Thinking about playing the piece as a whole would leave me utterly discouraged at the impossibility of the feat. This is the only piece I've ever played that HURTS me to play. My wrists and forearms ache from it, and I am reminded of one performance long ago when I had played it with a bad cut on one fingertip - the scab opened and I bled freely on the keys. (Yes, I know, disgusting - but it was perhaps the only time my piano teacher was truly proud of me [albeit being a little grossed out at the same time]).

It makes me happy that I am still capable of this kind of focus. Or perhaps I should say that I am happy that I am again capable of this kind of focus. I'm not fantasizing about the goal of being able to play the whole piece. There's no big picture in mind. It's just me and a single measure, alone in that one moment.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentines Day...

... I give you my vagina.


There's not really any more I can add to this. Except to bring attention to my favorite line:

"sprouting from their asses like a bouquet of ferns"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rescue

Recently, someone told me, "I will not try to change you. I will not try to rescue you."

This surprised me. Do I seem like someone ripe for changing or "rescuing"? I am acutely aware of the new areas of stress in my life, as are my closest friends, but I have never been one to talk too much about the things that weigh heavily on me. Talking about stress, for me, only augments it.

So to much of the outside world, I should appear to be terribly carefree. And even when that's only an illusion, it should be a relatively consistent and believable illusion.

But to be fair, I don't think that comment was made with any serious intent or conviction. It was one of those throwaway phrases that people put out there from time to time.

But my real takeaway from this is that there are people out there who do want to be "rescued."

I don't need rescuing.

But I am apparently waiting for something. I don't know what though...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

29? AGAIN?

Received this yesterday from AN:


My Wordle

Copying Joe Shlabotnik, I've created a "wordle." Rather than take the time to write my own description, here's Joe's:

Okay, this is cool. Enter your LiveJournal URL (or any blog URL, or any text) into Wordle and it'll create a "word cloud". That is, an image of the most commonly used words, where the larger the font, the more often the word is used. The colors, fonts, and orientation are infinitely customizable, too.
Mine's a little fuzzy here. But the largest words (which I apparently use the most, or most recently) are: "Much", "Booth", "Perfume", "Friends", "Birthday".

I was surprised to see that "men" and "sex" were in much smaller fonts.

Hmmm.


Wordle: MyWordle

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today is my birthday.

It's a little ridiculous how much I enjoy my birthday.

Festivities should last approximately two weeks, I've decided. Although, I suppose it all depends on how long I can milk the good will of my friends and family.

Birthday festivities will be launched this evening. No doubt, there will be embarrassing pictures posted in various public forums.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Important Things

Email received from AM today:

"I'm heading up north in the morning for work for a couple of days, so will call you from the road. Sex -- what is that and how can I get me some?? Now that I'm done with the apt search, I can focus on the important things, like whoring. May decorate my new place in 'bordello' style and charge at the door..."

That's my girl.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where Do You Keep Your List?

According to one designer, you should keep your list on a pillowcase. THIS pillowcase, aptly named the "Everyone I've Slept With" pillowcase.



Hand your new "friend" a sharpie, and you are good to go.

But those of us who have not yet dropped $50 to own this piece of bedding ourselves, where do we keep our lists? That was a question posed by the girls as we discussed the pros and cons of displaying such an item on our beds.

In journals? In your calendar? Frequently scribbled on the backs of cocktail napkins?

But then the conversation shifted... do you REMEMBER all the names?

And what's worse? Remembering the person, but not his name? Or remembering the name and nothing about the person?

What's more important? "A rose by any other name..." And yet names do seem to matter.

What would be more important to YOU? For someone to remember your name, or instead, the color of your hair, the smell of your perfume?

Hmmm... off to scribble my list on the back of a napkin.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

'Tis A Gift To Be Simple

What does one listen to on a lazy Sunday morning? RL is listening to heavy metal, to drown out the 80s classic rock favored by her roommate. I am listening to Histoire Du Tango - Café 1930, a duet for classical guitar and violin, composed by Astor Piazzolla.

IC, who is more of a classical music purist than I am, pronounced it "pretty" and a bit "showtune." I understand why she says that... some passages are... well... over accessible. Which I suppose is code for "showtune." But hey, I LIKE showtunes.

When I have time, I'm going to continue my classical guitar lessons. Because this is my dream: to play this piece. IC (who studied violin during music school) has reluctantly told me that she will play the violin part if I can't find anyone else to do it.

It reminds me less of showtunes than it does IC. And yet I agree with IC, it's not purely classical. Actually, it reminds me of the movie music written by Ennio Morricone. No one can doubt Morricone's mastery and genius. But his is definitely music that is written to be evocative of images. Perhaps I'm biased by the fact that I always hear his pieces accompanied by a movie. But I think it's more than that. His pacing and phrasing is not always what you'd expect to hear in music that is meant to be consumed with your eyes closed. He is clearly following a different pattern; he's clearly following, clearly anticipating, some other action than that internally driven by the structure of the music itself. And so it's inevitable that the images that come to mind are not the secret stories you tell yourself when listening to a piece of music, but the images carefully orchestrated by others.

Yes, the classical music purist in me can't help but be dismissive of that. But the bigger part of me simply enjoys that it is so pretty.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Guy's Night Out Debrief

Martinis, Cigars, Cuban Sandwiches: all happy things.

WC had her first cigar ever - a Havana Honey, tasting strongly of vanilla. She asked me to start it for her, and spent the evening holding it uncertainly. Her cigar kept going out, so we informed her she had to suck harder.

At one point, she was convinced that it was out. I reassured her it wasn't.

"Can you tell because you can see it light up at the tip?" she asked me.

"No, the give-away is the fact that I can't see your face behind the cloud of smoke you are exhaling," I replied.

At the end of the evening we were drunk, bloated from too much food, and dizzy from cigar smoke.

Is this what boys do when they are together? We mused about that for a while. It seemed rather... boring. So then we thought that perhaps we were missing something and tried to figure out what that was. WC turned to me and asked, "want me to buy you a lap dance?"

Was that the missing ingredient?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Drunk Wisdom

Well into our second bottle of wine, WC whipped this out and laid it on the table:

Without pain, there is no joy. If you remove the pain, neutral becomes the pain. It is true. I am profound in my drunkenness.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Guys Night Out

Girls Night In has turned into Guys Night Out.

The Girls will slip into our favorite over-priced heels and head over to Club Macanudo for an evening of steak, scotch, and cigars.

I must remember to stop by the sports equipment store for some ping pong balls so we can play with our balls during the evening.