Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blog: Life's Library Part I

I can imagine that life is like a library.

When you begin, it starts with the shortest picture book on an empty shelf, or perhaps abandoned on a table with the lamp still lit, the ghost of its reader asleep on a great green velvet easy chair.

But as you move on, gain experiences and live your life, the volumes start to fill the shelves.  Rich, leather bound with gold lettering, documenting your triumphs and defeats, great loves and shattering heartbreaks, all lined up, rows upon rows.  Until when you've reached the end, you can carefully and shakily, ease yourself into the softness of that green chair, heave a tired sigh, and gaze around at the handsome display of tomes around you thinking to yourself: "What a life."

And in the midst of building your library, do you come to visit it on occasion?  To leaf through a particular part of your life that you thought fondly of to relive the experience? Or perhaps to a particularly shameful part that you regret, poring over it to try and discover where you went wrong and if there's anything you could do now to change it?

If you weren't careful, you could find yourself spending years there, just reading back through it all.  And as you did, the new books would be filled with nothing but repeats of what you've read. Or worse.  A stagnant .......................................................................................................................

At what point do you close a volume for good? Shelving it and leaving it in peace while you go forth to the next adventure, ready to fill those shelves with fresh and new experiences?

Being a bit of a nostalgic, I find myself frequently visiting my own library.  I never stay long, but enough to flip through a particular book and smile on the great times, or worry slightly about the bad.  Usually it's revisiting a place or repeating an event with the same people that ignites it.  And then I'm back there at that one time, thinking how far I've come, or how people have changed.  Sometimes at one or the other event, I'll sit myself down next to an old friend, turn to them with a wistful smile and say "Can you believe how much time has gone by?"

Sometimes, if you've left a legacy somewhere, it's easy to get stuck there and revel in it.  Relive the glory days. Soak up the admiration of those who have heard of your tale.

But these places are small, and it does no good to stay there.  At some point, you have to move on from it, or those moments are all for naught.

The original point of this entry, I fear, has been lost a bit.  And I think I prefer to leave it this way. Perhaps I'll write a follow up, but for now, just like the volumes of a particular part of my life, I will leave it and go on to the next adventure.  Which today, is promising to be a great one.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Meme: Playing 11 Questions

My friend Diana who documents her experiences abroad in a blog called Raising Expats
 tagged me in this meme. Normally I'm not so crazy about these kinds of things, but I figured since I'm very quickly running out of recycled material, this may propel me back into the blogging game. 

So that everyone is on the same page, here are THE RULES :
  1. You MUST post the rules.
  2. Answer the questions the tagger sent for you in the post, and then create 11 new questions to ask the people you've tagged.
  3. Tag 11 bloggers, however, you can break the rules and tag fewer people if you want. Make sure you hyperlink their names/blogs.
  4. Let them know you've tagged them!
  5. Have fun!

Here are the 11 questions Diana asked me:
  1. What is the craziest thing you've ever done that you will admit to online?                                This really depends on a person's definition of crazy.  But I'd say the most spontaneous and out of my mind thing that I've done is follow my favorite band (at the time) nearly around the country (also at the time, which was the USA).  This was during my college years, so money was tight as well as time.  I slept on the street at one point, took shady looking buses at all hours of the day and night, befriended security guards as well as stage hands, and eventually did get to meet the band who by that time recognized me from my many times in the front row. But as crazy as it all was, I learned a lot about time management, organizing transportation and housing (extremely valuable in the tour planning I sometimes do now), networking, and taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves, sometimes in strange ways.  That and I figure something like that gives me at least some coolness points...                                           
  2. Are there any choices you would have made differently knowing what you know now?      I have often thought about this very question.  Especially as I get older.  What's funny is that the way I lived my life, especially when I was a child, was to try and avoid certain mistakes and learn from the experiences of others.  I wanted to avoid being faced with this question and answering yes.  Unfortunately, life does not work that way and now I find myself wishing I knew that then.  Sometimes you have to make your own mistakes and learn from your own experiences.  It's only through them that you shape yourself.  Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I chose a University instead of a Conservatory. Would I have a better equipped skill set? What if I didn't take relationships so seriously in High School? Would I be more adept in the dating game?  If I trusted in my abilities more when I was younger and stopped being so self conscious about everything?  But these are all things that made me who I was and through the experience I had as a result, made me grow into the person I am today.  Who knows if I would like the place I ended up if I made different choices?
  3. What is your earliest childhood memory?                                                                                   My parents sometimes ask me if I remember certain things from when I was really young.  Since it was so long ago, it becomes hard to place exactly how old I was when a certain event happened, so it helps to run those memories by them.  I remember going with my father to the post office to check the PO Box he had.  This apparently was when he and my mother were switching off taking care of me and before I went to a "day care", so I must have been quite young at the time. 2 or 3 years old?  I remember being really excited about going to the post office because the PO Boxes made me think of secret drawers with potential treasure hidden inside.  The fact that there were rows and rows of them certainly sparked my fantasy.  Another reason it's hard to pin down certain memories is since I had (and still have) an active imagination, real events would blur with what was happening in my mind.  So somehow that trip to the post office turned into a hunt for a magic key that would open the right box holding the answers to the universe...or something of the like.
  4. Was there one event in your life that changed everything?                                               Definitely the tour I went on in 2006 where I met my current colleagues.  My band in New York was invited to be the opener for one of my current bands (and at the time was one of my favorite bands, not the one mentioned in Q1) and it took us on a three week adventure throughout Europe.  It remains one of the greatest experiences of my life.  There is really nothing like falling asleep to the soft rocking of a tour bus on the road, waking up in a new city, exploring the city a bit, setting up, sound checking, playing a concert to an enthusiastic audience, celebrating a bit afterwards, and then repeating it all again over 3 weeks.  While I was on that tour, I had a dream that the life I had in New York was a nightmare I had finally woken up from and my life on the road in Europe was my reality.  Everything just felt right and for a moment I was convinced that it was true.  When we got back from that tour, I didn't allow myself to sink into the depression that was threatening to come around and set to work on getting back there somehow.  I managed it in about 1.5 years and I don't regret it one bit.  That experience was a real game changer and it was the launching point of the adventure I currently am on.
  5. Have you ever had your heart broken?  Who hasn't at some point? Although if you refer back to Q2, the experience of one heart break sort of scared me into shielding my heart from another.  And anyone who knows anything about love knows that if you keep doing that, you doom yourself.
  6. 10 years ago, did you think you would be doing what you are doing today?  I certainly had hoped I would be doing some form of what I'm doing now. 
  7. Follow up on Q6, what did you think you would be doing 10 year ago?  At that time, I probably thought I would be on Broadway or something in that vein.  Early Music as a career wasn't really on my radar.  But I think my teenage self would have been happy to know I was indeed a professional musician...although shocked at the location.
  8. Where do you want to be in 10 years from now?  I'd like my career to be at another level.  Expanded and evolved.  I have no idea what that means.  It also wouldn't hurt to get that whole love thing figured out though. 
  9. Have you been to your High School reunion?  No, although I think some of us had some form of one last year when an influential teacher of ours passed away.  As for a formal High School Reunion...unless I was back in the States anyway, I probably wouldn't go.
  10. How many countries have you lived in?  Just two.  The States and Germany.
  11. What unknown musician would you recommend?  My...self?  Ok no that's cheap.  I can recommend someone who is on the rise.  She's from my hometown and won second place on the Bravo reality show Platinum Hit. A very talented singer and songwriter named Jes Hudak. Although she's not really unknown, I would say she should be more known for her talent. But to be cheap: VocaMe, Estampie, Qntal, Barquilla. Meine wenigkeit.

My Questions for the lovely ladies below:

1. What do you find to be your best quality, physically or personally?
2. What is your vision of Utopia (a perfect world)?
3. If you could have one super power, what would it be?
4. What is one place in the world that you've always wanted to visit but haven't made it there yet?
5. Whatever happened to chivalry and courtesy?
6. Name one book that you always go back to, no matter how many times you've read it.
7. What is your totem animal? (In Harry Potter speak, what form would your Patronus take?)
8. What are your thoughts on the way we interact today?  Is it convenient or impersonal?
9. Do you prefer the mountains or the sea?
10. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
11. What is your go to karaoke song, or if you have never done karaoke before (if so, we will fix that) what would it be?

Here are the bloggers asked to continue the game, BLOGS TAGGED :

1. Alisa-Munich Rococo 
2. Anastasia-New Yorker Goes Native
3. Laura-Packing Up My Suitcase Heart
4. Evelyn-Mother Was Right
5. Diana-Raising Expats (Hey, I don't know that many bloggers!)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Story: The Harp and the Phoenix

Yes, once again I offer up a story.  This was the first story I wrote for the writers group where the assignment was to write a fable.  Upon reading it just now to make my decision as to whether or not I'd use it for this week's posting, I now see some of the sexual connotations my fellow writers group members commented on.  Rest assured, I had no such intention and it simply just came out that way.  But in a way, I find it effective when looked at from both sides. The theme of the fable was "It is better to have loved and lost, then to never have loved at all."

Next week, I will try to write something new (yes, yes, we've heard that before), but I hope these stories are still enjoyable to read!

A Harp lay lonely in the abandoned barn. A product of mass production, bought as the decorative compliment to an antique bookcase and an over the top chandelier, now discarded as a frivolous luxury. She had never known love's touch. Not a soul had ventured to run their fingers over her strings, not a tone escaped her long mahogany throat. If she could have wept, what lovely songs she could have sung. Songs to break the heart, but alone, her soul lay dormant.
One night, the wind was howling, the rain pelting on the already warping boards of the roof. The Harp once or twice could have sworn she felt a drop on her back or neck, threatening to warp them as well. Internally she shuddered, for her fear of death was almost as heavy as the weight of her loneliness. 

As a particularly bright flash of lightening was followed almost immediately by an earthshaking crash of thunder, she suddenly felt a burst of wind and noticed with alarm that she wasn't alone. There on the dirty and matted hay lay a large feathered object.

„Oh, perhaps this is a woodpecker“ she thought in her naïve horror, for she had never seen one before and had only heard of them in passing from her loveless keepers. „Ah yes, I see the red crest. He has come to put holes in me to finally finish me off.“

In her panic, she had not noticed that the wind was now running over her strings, causing light swoops of tone to rise into the air. 

„What lovely songs they play in the Inbetween...“ came a weak voice from the red crest.
„If you're going to peck me to death, make it quick, but just know that I am not a tree and offer no insects for you to feed on.“ the Harp said, bracing herself for the pain.
„I intend to do no such thing, especially if you sing that I still alive?“
„I would assume you are, since you can talk to me so. But what kind of woodpecker are you if you don't wish to try and peck me full of holes?“

„Woodpecker? Oh don't you fear. I am but a humble and very old Phoenix with no desire to peck such a lovely instrument such as yourself full of holes.“

The Harp fell silent at this, the wind dying down as well. The Phoenix rose from the floor, shaking out his brilliant red and gold feathers. The Harp had never seen such a creature before and continued to be silent in wonder as he attempted to move a pane of wood to block the hole he had fallen through. 

„A pity...“ said the Phoenix, turning his red crested head to look at her. „Without the wind, you don't sing.“
„I've hardly ever sung. That was one of the few times.“ she said. Then more shyly, „But if you are not a woodpecker, you are surely still a bird. Do you sing?“
„I love to sing.“ he said. „But would be honored if you would join me.“
The Harp sighed sadly. „Alas, there is no wind. And no one with fingers to play my strings. Otherwise I would the best that I could.“

The Phoenix glided over to her excitedly. „Ah but I can make the wind! Come! I shall fly around this barn, and with the wind, you will sing!“ With that, he rose into the air, his crimson and golden tail brilliantly following behind. As the wind caught the Harp's strings, tones seemed to ripple into the air. After a moment, the Phoenix began to sing. It is said that a Phoenix song can warm and calm the heart, and the Harp found herself discovering why. As he sang, she allowed her strings to ring out to their fullest. What at first was just the rippling of notes became harmony to his melody. The Harp could not believe that such beauty could ever come to pass in such a dreary barn. 

The whole night they sang together. The Harp, having finally realized her purpose in life, sang as she never thought she could. The Phoenix, having finally found an accompaniment to his song, felt that he could have calmed the fiercest army on the brink of battle. As the rosy fingers of dawn entered the barn, the Phoenix's song became softer and softer. He flew not as high, and the Harp noticed that the wind that played her strings became more and more calm. Then as their last tone rang out, the Phoenix landed lightly on the floor beside her. 

„That was beautiful.“ the Harp sighed contentedly. „I never knew I could sing like that. And of any bird song I ever heard, yours is the sweetest.“ The Phoenix lay silent next to her, breathing labored. „Are you alright?“ she asked. He turned his once brilliant head, now slightly graying to face her.
„Don't you know the fate of a Phoenix?“ he asked weakly, but a hint of humor in his voice. „We are creatures of fire. And at the time of our death, we are engulfed in flame and disappear from this earth, leaving only ash behind us.“
„But surely your death is a long way off...“ began the Harp.
„I told you I am an old Phoenix.“ he chuckled, voice still weak. „It's not too far now.“
„Aren't you afraid?“ whispered the Harp, her heart contracting.
„Not with you here.“ he said, just as softly, moving his head to rest against the slope of her neck. „It was truly an honor. And I can think of no better way to leave this earth than after singing with you.“ 

With that he moved his head away just in time for a brilliant burst of flame to engulf his crimson feathers. It happened so fast that the Harp barely had a chance to cry out. But as quickly as they came, the flames disappeared and all that was left was a pile of ash on the barn floor.
The Harp was in a state of shock for a moment, until she heard the sound of voices outside the barn. 

„We'll just chop up the rest of this wood in the barn. That'll last us the winter.“
„That storm definitely left a chill in the air. Not a moment to waste.“

The barn door was flung open and two men from the house entered, an axe thrown over one's shoulder. Along with the pane of wood the Phoenix had used to block out the wind, the Harp was also picked up and brought outside into the damp and chilly morning. Before, she would have been paralyzed with fear at the thought of her death coming so soon and unexpectedly, but the Harp felt almost as if the Phoenix was still singing to her from somewhere. Her heart was still warm and whole being full of the song they had shared. A morning wind picked up and ran lightly over her strings. Silvery tones echoed through the clearing, falling like the rain that had brought them together. Even as they raised the axe over her under the maple tree outside the barn, her heart was still filled with their song. 

The other man had gone back into the barn to check for any more extra wood. He stared for a moment at the pile of ash on the floor and made a mental note to sweep it up once they had finished outside. As he closed the door to the barn, the ash shifted slightly as if a slight breeze had caught it. The sleepy head of a baby bird, feathers the lightest shade of pink rose from the ash and uttered a single pure and lovely tone from his throat.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Story: Book Signing

Yes things have been crazy and I have already been reminded that the promise was to post twice a week.  Well, I haven't quite gotten there.  In fact, it's so bad that I have taken to posting writing exercises from my old writers group.  But still, I find them quite entertaining and hopefully I will write something new soon.  Until then, enjoy and bear with me!

Even with the air conditioning, the Barnes and Noble was getting hot and stuffy.  Trina had been sitting at this table with its hard backed chair for what seemed like forever, signing countless copies of her autobiography „Underneath it All“.  Hundreds of squealing girls wanting pictures, some not even having bothered to crack open the book in line.  She had just smiled plastic like with a 12 year old and her overbearing mother when she looked to the next in line.
            „Hi. How are you today?“ she asked mechanically for what seemed like the ten thousandth time (and probably was).
            „Is Lena dead at the end?“ the thin, bespectacled young man demanded, slamming the book down in front of her and dropping his head within inches of hers. 
            „E...excuse me?“ she stammered, recoiling automatically.
            „Lena.  In  ‚Partners in Crime’.  Is she dead?“
            Trina closed her eyes for a moment in annoyance.  Of course. Her little „action“ movie.  The cliffhanger ending was made to encourage demand for a sequel.
            „Uh...well, no one knows...maybe you’ll find out...can I sign this for you?“  She pulled the horrid pink cover (the publishers’ idea) towards her and raised her pen.  She noticed then that several pages had been dogeared.
            „Did you expect to find clues in here or something?“ she said dryly.
            He smiled.  „A guy can hope, right? Besides, what else am I supposed to do fort wo hours in line?“
            „God it’s only been two hours?“ she muttered.
            „Hey,“ he said, mocking seriousness „Some of these people have been camped out overnight.“
            She tried to force back a laugh, then cleared her throat.  „I’m very grateful.“
            „Sure.“ He said slyly, leaning in again.  „So...what IS ‚Underneath it All’?“
            „Real original.“ She snapped, going to sign the inside of the cover, wincing at the provocatively posed Photoshop mockup of herself.  Then out of curiosity turned to one of the dogeared pages.
            „Why did you mark this?“ she asked.
            He peered over to look at the page, scanning it quickly.  „Oh, this little part you’ve written here about your venture into Buddhism.  A little ironic don’t you think?  Especially after you punched that girl at that club...“
            „You shouldn’t believe everything you read,“ she said in annoyance, flipping back to the inside cover.
            „Apparently.“ He said, raising his eyebrows.
            „That’s not...I mean...tabloids you know...well...who should I make this out to?“ She scribbled the word „To“ over her Jimmy Choo clad foot.
            „Nick.“ He grinned.  „It’s a pleasure to meet you, Trina.“
            „Sure you too“ she muttered, signing her name in a rushed flourish, slamming the book shut and shoving it towards him.
            „Thanks,“ he said, sweeping it up with his left hand and walking away.  As he did, he called over his shoulder.  „You’re a fair writer.  You should keep it up.“
            She stared after him, momentarily speechless.
            „So...“ said the grizzled old man next in line, pushing his copy slowly towards her with his grubby hand.  „When do you pose for Playboy?“