Friday, April 27, 2012

Story: Goodbye

I wrote this as a part of a writers group where the assignment was to write a goodbye scene.  It is quite short and will probably turn out to be the excerpt of a longer work.  But in honor of the beautiful summer weather, here is a bit of romantic cheese. :)

We stood in the corridor between our gates, just staring into each others' eyes. The crowds parted around us as if we were a stone in a river, most ignoring us as we ignored them, some making the impatient tsk sound or grumbling.
“I had a really wonderful time this weekend,” I said, breaking the silence.
“I'm glad” he said.
“And your mom was so sweet. Please tell her how much I enjoyed meeting her.”
“Of course. I know she liked you a lot.” He took my hands in his, and we dissolved into silence again. Trying to lighten the density of the air, I laughed quietly.
“Great luck our flights are leaving from the same terminal, right?”
“Yeah...” he said, his large, green eyes never leaving mine.
“Are you okay?”
“'s...just going to be so much longer this time.”
“I know. But we're both going to be busy...the time will fly.” I said, half trying to convince myself. James was off to a six month film shoot in LA and I was on assignment for five to six months in India reporting on some sort of guru who claimed to actually know the exact date of the apocalypse (for real this time)...heavy stuff I know.
“And that's what Skype is for, right?” he laughed, cracking a smile for the first time since we had arrived at the airport.
“We're toughies. We'll get through this. Unless of course, you get dazzled by the synthetic perfection of the LA populus.” I winked.
“Well as long as this guru isn't collecting a harem, offering salvation from the earth's impending doom...”
We both laughed and slowly embraced, my head only coming to his chest. He rested his head in its normal place on top of mine.
“Think you'll grow anymore between now and the next time I see you?” he whispered into my hair.
“Ha. Ha.” I retorted, breathing in the scent of his crisp, fresh ironed cotton shirt, trying to commit everything, his smell, his hands, the way my arms could fit perfectly around his torso, to memory.
“I'm really going to miss you, Scarlett.” he murmured, the feeling of his lips still moving softly against my head.
“Stop. You'll make me cry.” I said, removing one hand from his back to wipe my eye. Too late.
“British Airways Flight 264 with non stop service to LAX, your flight is now boarding from Gate A2. Passengers on British Airways Flight 264 to Los Angeles, please report to Gate A2 at this time.”
We didn't move.
“That's you.” I said.
“I know.”
“You'll miss it.”
“I have at least ten minutes...”
“But you'll be the last one on.”
“You won't get any overhead space.”
“Why? Can I put you in the overhead? You're regulation size, right?”
“Ha. Ha. I wish.”
“Come with me?”
“I wish I could.”
“I could seriously stick you right up there...”
“Not anymore. I can see the line. It's miles long. You' never have enough space.”
“Even if you squeezed?”
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“I'll miss you.”
“I'll miss you too. Have fun.”
“You too. I want to hear all about it.”
“Email me when you get there?”
“You really have to go now.”
“Just one more minute. I've been counting.”
“Have you?”
We pulled away slightly as he leaned down and our lips met. Six months without this? This guru story had better be hot. Slowly, we parted and once again I drowned in the sea of his eyes.
“Bye” he said.
He backed away into the crowd, still holding my hand, disrupting the river. As he slid his hand out of mine, he squeezed my fingertips with his, and then he was gone, swallowed up by the crowd. I strained to see him join the end of the line, but as luck would have it, the airport seemed to be crawling with giants. And I thought James was tall...
Trying to compose myself, I checked my watch. Still a half hour to go. Better get my obligatory bottle of water. I took one last glance at gate A2 which was now closed, the giants having moved on, and set off towards the overpriced kiosk.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Inspiration: Desiderata by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945)

An inspiration of mine both artistically and in life brought this work to my attention this morning.  Upon reading it, I found it summed up much of my outlook on life.  I hope you take as much comfort and inspiration from it as I did.

Go placidly amidst the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blog: The Lion(s) in Munich

The city of Munich is heavily guarded by lions. Great ones, large and proud stand guard before the Field Marshall Hall on the vast Odeonsplatz, one with an eye on the yellow Theatinerkirche, the other gazing upon the former residence of Munich's royalty. The latter's lips slightly parted as if to lowly growl a message to its four small, golden brethren who line the street, their prominent noses at the perfect height for an affectionate pat from passersby. The lions watch from flags and memorials, from a world renowned brewery and from countless city keepsakes. And under their watch, Munich keeps her charm and beauty. Invites her visitors to breathe her blossom scented air in the spring, bask in the sun on the fields of the Englischer Garten, then to seek the shade of the countless chestnut trees spreading their vast, flat palms over every biergarten. To revel in the jocundity of Oktoberfest as the music and beer flow and effortlessly carry away any negative thought. But also to humbly and shyly bare the scars of her dark history and in her clear, blue eyes beckon the viewer to understand and learn from them.

My arrival to Munich was a bit of a jump into the deep end. The music group I was invited to join (and the reason I had come in the first place) was on tour. My accommodations were organized online and through one telephone call which had simply directed me to navigate the airport, find my way to something called an "S-Bahn", and take it to the strangely named "Feldmoching" where my 80 year old landlady would hopefully be waiting for me. I had a couple travelers checks, a small bit of money saved up from my New York City days, the largest suitcase I had ever owned in my life, and the glimmer of hope that this would be the start of something better. 
I'm the type of person who likes to hit the ground running. Especially when the alternative is to stand in the middle of my strange surroundings, look around, spread my arms and scream "NOW WHAT?!" to no one. I had the good luck of my living situation being everything I had expected if not more, and within my first two days, I was out and about and exploring the city, trying to find my way. I had a few short term goals, short term mostly due to my three month time limit after which my tourist visa would run out and I would face the decision of returning home with my tail between my legs or doing something drastic…

Goal #1: Get a residence permit.

Goal #2: Get some sort of job that enables me to get said residence permit.

Goal #3: Jumpstart this fabulous music career I was supposed to have flown into (does that count for the residence permit?).

If All Else Fails: Marry some random German.

My exploration of the city brought me into the folds of a tour guide company who were looking to hire a couple new guides. It was from them that I learned about the little lion heads that lined the gates to the Residence. People would rub their gold noses for good luck or would make a wish. But rub more than three of the four noses and you would be accused of greed and granted nothing. Over the next couple of days I learned the lengthy tour script, found a couple of contacts to choirs, practiced my German with my landlady, and kept my eyes peeled for my emergency plan.

The day before my official "audition" for the tour company, I found myself on the street with those four lions. Stoic and proud, they stared straight ahead, accepting the wishes from the fingertips of locals and enduring the photos with tourists. I decided upon the technique of the former and casually allowed my fingers to brush the nose of the first lion. I wish to pass my test tomorrow and become a tour guide. Without stopping, my palm met the nose of the second. I wish to get my residence permit. On to the next. I wish for a successful music career here. As I let my hand drop from the third lion, I could feel their watchful and judgmental eyes on me. Even the lion from the Field Marshall Hall seemed to lie in wait, fangs bared, ready to pounce if I should dare to try for a fourth wish. I met his eyes for a moment with a defiant gaze, then directed them straight ahead as I walked by the fourth lion, hands at my sides and marched on down into the Odeonsplatz Subway station.

As I made my way home through my neighborhood, I saw a small feline figure sitting in the middle of the road, eyes reflecting the lights from the streetlamps, focused on me. I softly greeted it as I passed by and was surprised when it turned to follow me. We walked in silence to the gate of my house where I stopped and turned to the cat. It mewed softly and with an additional purr, began to affectionately rub itself against my legs.

"You'd better be careful. There's a dog that lives here and he wouldn't like it if I brought a cat home." I said with a smile. The cat looked up at me, holding my gaze. It mewed again, then started off back along the street. I watched it for a moment and saw it turn and sit once again in the middle of the road, eyes never leaving me. As I let myself into the gate, it was still there, but when I looked back one more time before entering the house, it had disappeared.

The next day, I passed my tour guide test and was scheduled for my first tour the next week. The evening after that, I met and sang for a choir director who wrote me into his Handel program at the Theatinerkirche as a soloist. My group returned from tour and we got to work on the project I came to do. Through an obscure yet miraculously well timed contact, I received help with getting my residence permit and in a month I was approved to stay for a year.

It has been four years since then. The tour guide job had left much to be desired and I left after working there for a month, but it introduced me to some of my closest friends. For that, I found the experience invaluable. My work with the group has expanded and I am now a part of three ensembles of theirs as well as one of the organizational heads. The project I came for has enjoyed much success and we are already at work on a second album. I make my living primarily with music which is so much more than I ever could have asked for. And by August next year, I will have my unlimited residence permit here. All this, and I didn't even have to marry a random German.
Since that day when I had my encounter with the Munich lions, I have felt that they have been watching over me. In turn, I felt like Munich welcomed me in with open arms. I am more at home here than I have ever been anywhere else. Where in New York I felt out of place and always in search of something greater, here I feel that I live with purpose and am firmly on the path to the life I always dreamed of having. 
I still pat the lions noses on occasion. One of my wishes has stayed the same, just to reinforce it. The other two change from time to time, depending on what lies in my immediate future. But I've found recently, one of those wishes tends to repeat itself. And a part of me finds myself looking for a nice, maybe not so random German.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blog: The Quintessential Introduction

It's been awhile since I've had a blog or a journal. And when I did, I usually would flood the thing with posts, then give up on it after a few days and not touch it for a year or two.  When Diana asked me to write a couple of guest blogs for her, the process got me excited about attempting such a venture again.  It could be a way to display the writing I've newly discovered, having been so long neglected.  I would feel more inclined to write something, having a platform to share it on.  And in the process of writing more, I would hopefully work more on the novel I am currently working on with a friend of mine.

I suppose my biggest problem was that I felt like I always had to write about my day. How I was feeling.  Document. Post. Filed away for future feelings of nostalgia.  In the past, the most common reaction I had to such posts was "Oh god...what was I thinking?!" or simply "How embarrassing..."  I was a strange kid and a strange teenager...or at least that's how I fancied myself, and so most of my posts tended to have this gaudy sheen of "Trying too hard".  Oh well. Live and learn.

I've titled this blog "Musings of a Daydreamer" (I think I like the URL name better, although it doesn't have a nice ring to it as a blog title) because I really have found that when left alone, 99% of my time is occupied by daydreaming.  This is how some stories or songs are born.  How I set goals for myself.  How I entertain myself. How I work on my acting.  How I feed any emotional (sometimes literal if I'm suffering from carb withdrawl) cravings.  And from that usually comes some sort of creative output. Or at least it should.  You don't know how often I wish I could mentally write something and send it to the printer at home to go over later (hasn't Apple invented that yet?!).  But I think most artists feel that way.  Just imagine if you could paint something in your mind and have it automatically transferred to canvas.  Or compose a symphony and have scores neatly waiting for you after the last note has reverberated in the dome of your skull.

I digress.

This blog will be filled with a variety of content.   I had a problem finding a title for it for that reason, so perhaps I'll change it when I find something more suitable.  I'll use it to post short stories I've written, recount past experiences (primarily those that lead up to or have happened during my relocation to Munich, Germany), and any other things that may come to mind.

I will resist the temptation to tell my personal story off the bat, as I find the process to be taxing and the end result to be boring to the reader.  It's actually not that relevant in the grand scheme of things, and besides, isn't it more fun to discover such things for yourself?  A writer doesn't reveal everything about a character upon his or her first appearance, or at least they shouldn't. So why should this be any different? 

So with that, I leave this as my introductory post and in the next few days will attempt to learn the ropes of this new system as well as establish some sort of posting schedule.  I hope you enjoy my "a-musing daydreams".