Musical Milliner offers her kind regards to all of you who have hung in there with her the past five years as she has been circling the Inferno that was her life. She’s/I’m (changing tenses here) glad to be alive, and pleased to tell you that despite dedicated and focused attempts to dismantle my psyche and resources, I am well.

On this lovely atumnal equinox, I feel…balanced. images

My sons are thriving. I am rebuilding my business, and I am experiencing one of the most productive phases of my life in music.

Socializing is still a bit of a challenge. Ever the introvert when not performing, but I am taking steps to improve.

Here’s the thing: I recently heard a song which reminds us that after so many years on this journey we all share, comes a time to lose some of the load. Keep what you need or want, and continue in a leisurely stroll toward the sign marked “exit.” It takes so much effort to keep track of all the emotional hording, and is so unnecessary.

Who knows, I may even write an upbeat lyric or two. God bless the lot of you.

Ascolta Tutti

Our resident guest columnist, professional astronomer  Claude Plymate of NSO at Kitt Peak takes up more Big Questions.  This week : Life in the Universe, Part I ~ Are We Martians?

One of the foremost questions in science as well as theology has always been “are we alone in the cosmos?” For the first time we are actually making real headway into answering this fundamental question. Recent results in biology have shown that life is far more tenacious than we ever could have imagined. At the same time, astronomers are demonstrating that planets are rather common companions to stars. Current estimates are that between 30 – 60% of stars include planetary systems. That would indicate that there are something like 30 to 60 billion planetary systems in our galaxy alone! That’s 5 – 10 planetary systems for each individual living on Earth. And if you assume our solar system is somewhat typical, each planetary system likely includes several planets. These overwhelmingly huge numbers makes it very easy to assume that Earth cannot be so special as to be the only place in our Universe where life has taken hold.

Observations of Mars from telescopes atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii have found evidence of methane in its thin atmosphere. This methane could be the result of geologic processes but could just as well be a side effect of life – living, farting organisms! What would if mean for the commonality of life throughout the Universe if we were to find it growing right now on our next door planet? Well, it depends. If it was found that life had spontaneously and independently sprang into existence on at least two distinct planets in our solar system, the implication would be that life is easy to get started and that life is likely to be found just about anywhere that the proper conditions exist. If however there is or ever was life on Mars, it is highly likely that it is directly related to life here on Earth and that its origin was not independent.

It is well known that throughout the history of our solar system a significant amount of asteroidal material has been flung back-and-forth between the Earth & Mars. The Martian meteorite ALH84001 made quite a media splash back in the 1996 when a team of NASA researches announced that structures imbedded in the rock appeared to show fossilized evidence of microbes. The controversy continues about the origin and meaning of these structures but it does clearly show that material from Mars occasionally does make the trek to Earth. Presumably, although not nearly as common, rocks that have been blasted off of the Earth by asteroid impacts should also occasionally find their way to Mars. (Mars’ weaker gravity and thinner atmosphere makes it easier to eject material off that planet than from the Earth. At the same time, more meteors will get pulled into Earth’s deeper gravity well.) It’s been shown that many types of microbes can easily survive inside a rock catapulted off of a planet and in the harsh conditions of interplanetary space for the time required for travel between Mars and Earth. This cross-contamination between the two planets would seem to make it highly likely that any life there is directly related to life here. The concept of life on a planet being seeded by life from elsewhere goes by the name panspermia. Panspermia makes it quite possible that we are all Martians!

As cool as it may seem to think that we might have or had microbial relatives living on Mars, it would tell us nothing about how likely or how often life gets started in the first place. Mars, however, is far from our last possible place to look for extraterrestrial life inside our solar system. Several of the moons around Jupiter and Saturn are believed to have liquid water oceans below frozen ice mantles. Any of these sub-surface oceans might make comfortable ecospheres for extraterrestrial critters. And it is rather unlikely that Earth or Martian bugs could have made the journey that far out in the solar system. Any life out there is quite unlikely to be related to us. If any other life that is truly unrelated to life here on Earth is found within our solar system, the odds are overwhelming that life must be pervasive throughout the Universe.

This leaves us at this the moment without knowing how easy it is for life to get itself started. What is clear is that once life does get going, it quickly adapts to a very wide range of conditions; I think the quote from Jurassic Park was “life finds a way.” Even if we find that life is difficult and takes a long time to get started, there are so many planets that have been around for such a very long time that the odds seem good that life – at least microbial life – is common across the galaxy.
Claude Plymate
Engineering Physicist
National Solar Observatory ry


Pausa: Two Stories. Part I.

I was reading another singer’s blog this morning wherein she describes a common audition hazard. What does one do when the accompanist does not or will not take the standard range tempo for an aria?  Too slow, your phrasing is ruined. Too fast, and you hyperventilate or vocally trip over all those even faster runs.

In her account, she tells of an inexperienced accompanist in a German Operhaus who just couldn’t move it. Granted, it was Strauss, and any piano reduction of anything by Strauss requires more than normal human powers to play. It’s enough to bring up a little religion, you know?

In Part II we will chat further about Strauss.

So…I know the feeling. I have had the opposite happen. One time the accompanist seemed to want to kill me via Violetta prematurely.

It was at Chicago Lyric. I was asked to take it from the cabaletta, the place where the girls are separated from the women. This guy played it so fast that I was momentarily stunned. In those first few measures, you have to assess, “Will I manage, or must I stop him?” I mean, this was the Lyric!  The Lyric.

They had flown me in for this audition, paid for my hotel. So I did stop him with all the graciousness I could, just as my coach had drilled into me.

He was nice, and seemed to understand my request. And then he took off again just as he had the first time.  Actually, I remember it being faster.

I did it.  Nailed it. I was being tested. “Can she handle the pressure? Can she think on her feet and make it work?” Well, yeah. I can. I do. Take that, you sick bastard.

It wasn’t until I left the room that I let myself feel pissed. This guy had intentionally fucked with me, and he had lost the duel.

How we deal with these situations is part of the package, and it has to be  practiced, just like everything else we do.

(c)GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

Tutti i Fratelli and the Social Contract

imgres Oh, what a month it’s been. While distracted by a relapsed illness, blinds drawn against the world, the world has moved along without my attention or participation. Domestic debates over health care continue ad nauseum, and quite frankly I am worn out over discussions of the economy and the endless gaming in the Capital. It appears we are fully back to gloves off and business as usual after a brief respite. The predictability of the political cycle creates cynicism which results in apathy. The worst is when one becomes apathetic about apathy.

Things are no better elsewhere, but my attention was piqued by two ongoing issues which fall under the broad spectrum of human rights and social justice. Two issues while not dichotomous, do spin in separate orbits around the same planet. As a writer who is working at tightening up some of my random wanderings, this presents a crossroads. Do I offer both issues and then go about explaining the connection, or do I pen two essays? I suppose the twin can contain the bridge, but I’ll construct it another time.

That’s the plan, then. When I get to the other side, we can discuss my term grade. Now, off we go to serious matters.

Prima Parte
A month ago, a gorgeous young man died of a previously undetected congenital heart condition. This lovely and talented thirty-three years young fellow, Stephen Gately, was a member of the Dublin “boy band” Boyzone, a group hugely popular in the UK, including New Zealand and Australia, the Continent and Asia. The group has yet to break into the American music scene in a significant way.

Inadvertently, Gately, an actor, songwriter and one of the lead singers of Boyzone, became an unwitting poster child for gay rights back in 1999 when he was forced to come out on the eve of a titillating gossip piece in a junky English tabloid, The Sun.

“On 16 June 1999, The Sun newspaper covered its front page with what it described as a “World Exclusive” and the headline, ‘Boyzone Stephen: I’m gay and I’m in love”‘. At the age of 23, Gately sold his story to the newspaper because he feared a former member of Boyzone’s security was about to sell the story. (BBC News. 16 June 1999.

Look at that again. Gately was 23. A bottom-feeding journalist, and I use the term journalist with reservation, set about to create a sensation with a quick cash return. The result was huge storm. It remains so today. Gately, although out to a tight circle, was not prepared to be the locus of the gay youth community. Struggles ensued, but Gately soldiered on, and in 2003, after being introduced by Elton John and husband David Furnish to an internet businessman, Andrew Cowles, the pair celebrated a commitment ceremony (The Australian.,25197,26210611-26040,00.html. Retrieved 16 October 2009).
In 2006, they registered as domestic partners in London (Pink News.

It’s hard to grasp in the United States the intensity Gately’s death had on people in the UK. The outpouring of disbelief and affection from dignitaries, fans, other performing artists, and ordinary people dominated the news.

It was due to the unfortunate lack of judgement by the publisher, as well as an ill-timed case of bad taste that had Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir inciting mourners into angry activists. Her assessment was insensitive and ignorant, and read as if written by someone who had no historical sense of the past forty years since Stonewall whacked us up the side of the head in 1969. To further the offense, the piece appeared one day before the funeral. The despicable tabloid was inundated with complaints and demands for Moir’s brooming. Advertisers pulled print adverts. In every corner, Op-Ed keyboards were smoking.

A few respected popular figures made use of their access to express the general outrage and frustration. From there began a cycle of sandbox warfare. I don’t mean to make light of the situation with that term. Perhaps “ginormous pissing contest” is a more accurate description. Glib? Yes, but the picture illustrates the scene. Somewhere in the muddle people who were already in terrible pain were hurting even more.

The burden of Moir’s piece is that Gately’s death is connected in some unspecified way to the fact that he was gay.

Though the official announcement after he was found dead in a Majorca hotel room was that he died of natural causes and that there were no suspicious circumstances, Moir writes:

“Hang on a minute. Something is terribly wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun into nothing more than an unfortunate mishap on a holiday weekend…

The sugar-coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.

Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural death.” (Jan Moir, The Daily Mail, Friday 16 October 2009)

“Her evidence for that claim is non-existent. Instead, she resorts to innuendo and goes on to make a leap of stunning illogicality by suggesting that the death “strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.” (Roy Greenslade Friday 16 October 2009 13.33 BST

She further snipes on drug use the night Gately died. Witnesses and toxicology reports concur cannabis was present. Are we still labeling cannabis as a “drug?” Besides, any causal relationship between cannabis and pulmonary edema is absurd. The Medical Examiner drew no such connections or conclusions.

Furthermore, her article called into question the integrity of domestic partnerships, by suggesting that gay couples participate in risky behaviors more often than heterosexual couples. Moir’s piece was structured on homophobic misinformation.

The original Daily Mail column was initially “Why there was nothing ‘natural’ about Stephen Gately’s death” which they toned  down to “A strange, lonely and troubling death . . .” in the online edition. That was an improvement?

Stephen Fry, infamous polymath who is one of the kindest of the kind, and most gentlemanly of gentlemen was particularly exercised over the matter and used his nearly one million Twitter followers to express his initial reaction.

“I gather a repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of
decency would be seen dead with has written something
loathsome and inhumane.”

Harsh words from a fellow rarely given to such language. A follow-up tweet gave the web address for the Press Complaints Commission. By then the news was viral. The PCC site crashed before noon.

Fry and others have endured criticism for speaking out. This is ridiculous nonsense. Thank God that when hate mongers spew their slime, we have a few artfully articulate people who can and do speak up. Fry is lovely, but he is human, and has stepped in a pile or two. He is so transparently nice that when this has happened, he immediately owns it, apologises profusely, sometimes to the point of irritation, and moves along.

Moir, in her retraction the following week, made it even worse by trying to explain herself. Her column was fluffed with defensive rationalizations. She apologised, but in that irksome way that devalues responsibility. The words, “if I have caused distress…” is a non-apology.

“I would like to say sorry if I have caused distress by the insensitive timing of the column, published so close to the funeral.” (Jan Moir, 23 October 2009,

There has been grumbling lobbed back over the fence from conservative sources, including Moir herself, which blame social networking for the demise of balanced opinion, thereby creating an atmosphere in which personal opinion is not respected. There has been even more grumbling over an internet fueled conspiracy to promote liberal causes by…too much enthusiasm for social networking. Pardon? Statistics show a broad majority of social network users of Twitter and Facebook do trend to fancy progressive and liberal thinking. Is that a conspiracy, or is it just a demographic?

Surely there are other examples of the value of social networking beyond mundane and gratuitous tweets by starlets? It can be a tickle. I take pleasure in following Fry on Twitter. But there are indeed more important uses available.

In June 2009, Twitter and Facebook users played a pivotal role in the Iranian elections by supporting what began as a DDoS attack against the President, after which the government shut down local internet for an hour, then restarted with a lower bandwidth and filters intended to make accessing social networks and YouTube impossible. Cell phone calling and texting was nearly impossible, and all BBC affiliated sites were blocked (Hiawatha Bray 19 June 2009 “Finding a way around Iranian censorship: Activists utilize Twitter, Web tricks to sidestep blocks”. Boston Globe.

The response of the Global Village was to set up proxy servers. Iranian citizens and foreign journalists (many of whom kept behind doors to prevent expulsion or worse) could document the protests and inform the outside world in real-time of the atrocities wrought by the government against the protesting people. For two weeks the Green Revolution rode on the back of the internet.

I participated for five hours the first night and a few hours each day that first week by way of a temporary anonymous Twitter account. The content of one’s tweets mattered not, but the frequency did. On and on it went as users set their location to GMT +3.5, Tehran time. Hundreds of thousands of tweets overwhelmed the local server. Using proxy servers citizens were able to post to YouTube and update international news agencies. People were able to communicate with friends and family members both in and outside Iran. It was one of the few times in my life wherein I felt I was part of something much bigger than I could ever fully understand. But I now know precisely what “Global Village” means.

Put your conspiracy theories there, Ms. Moir, because the Twitter Revolution was Oz behind the curtain. The Green Curtain. You caught a piece of it yourself when you wrote your column about the late Stephen Gately. Mind your manners because news really does travel fast.

Fry is for better or worse, a celebrity in the UK. Cambridge educated at Queen’s College, Fry is a delightfully literate individual who is said to hold a BBC record for saying “fuck” on TV more than anybody else. The difference between the American style of celeb and the UK brand has to do with using one’s renown commensurate with one’s strengths. Americans don’t always grasp this subtlety.

An overwhelming majority of the publicly recognised species do not have the resources and skills to write or speak extemporaneously as Fry and his peers. But these others, primarily confined to life in the shadows of a nine letter landmark on a hill in Los Angeles do possess an even broader talent. That ability is an obligation to support specific philanthropic associations. In doing so, they induce their fans, many of whom seem unaware of conditions elsewhere, into taking up causes to improve the health and well-being of our brothers and sisters in places on the world map where the need is urgent.

Speak up! Speak up against injustice if language is your skill. Help improve the planet in other ways by using your time, talent and treasure according to your ability. Tweet for fun, but don’t forget the powerful medium for change you possess with your phone and computer.

And remember that for as far as we’ve come in Western culture, equal protection and civil rights are not universally embraced. Not even in the West. Yet.


Fugue: Exposition. Alone in the Tonic

images It begins with one voice stating the subject. Another voice enters, and the initial voice is bumped into the dominant key where it is now referred to as the answer.

“At frequent intervals throughout a fugue, then, the subject will appear in one voice or another: at the top of the texture, at the bottom (the bass), or else tucked away in the middle surrounded by other polyphonic lines. The subject appears in different tonalities, too…without modulations a fugue would get badly bogged down. “(Joseph Kerman, Listen, p.96,Worth Publishers, Inc., 1972.)

Each subject is separated from it’s succeeding neighbor by bits of melodic fragments and other fun stuff, which are called episodes. Episodes serve to unify this little madness of subject variants and keep the whole business from cascading into polyphonic hell.

After awhile, the ears need a break from the aural carousel, and that’s where we take leave of this “…one-sided devotion to a single idea.”(ibid) and are utterly relieved to be given the countersubject.

The above description is primarily Baroque, but fugues are found all across the repertoire. The finale of Verdi’s Falstaff is a famous example of Romantic fugue. Unlike the predictable, albeit glorious mathematical fugues of Bach, sorting out the through-composed fugue of Verdi is an exercise in futility. At least for me.

Having performed two productions of Falstaff as the female principal, Alice Ford, I must make a public confession: I never have learned that damn fugue correctly. I know all the entrances, but not the episodes. Sing straight out when your turn comes round, then mouth gibberish to your neighbor and appear to be having a fabulous time. I am not proud of this.

Why the chat about fugues? Lately I’ve been feeling the circular turmoil of a fixed number of subjects built on a theme. As with all things on this journey, I can’t alter the form. I can only do my best to keep my place in the music. Sometimes the only way I can work this is by slipping inside my self. Things get too intense, and demands are greater than I can meet, so I find an emotional yurt and keep warm until the anxiety has passed. This periodic withdrawal is hard on one’s friends and family, but it is a core personality trait which is hard-wired within me.

When I withdraw, I fret about the effect on those around me. I withdraw so I can work it all out.

Largo (yawn)

I just read a biography about one of my favorite singer-songwriters, James Taylor. I was disappointed. Not with Taylor, but with the author Ian Halperin, a self-styled “investigative journalist” who has received some positive attention, and has apparently worked as a musician from time-to-time. Pish. I scooted over to Amazon, where I read other reviews complaining of the poor writing. Mr. Taylor deserves better. The only way he and his colleagues are going to get it right is if they write autobiographies, or cooperate with a reputable biographer.

2.0 out of 5 stars
images Fire and Rain Creates Mud, September 30, 2009

I so very much wanted to like this book. When reading biographies of contemporary persons, I try to remember to take what I find with a grain of salt and be generous of the author’s bias and context. For one, we most often have individuals writing bios who are trained as journalists. Stylistically there is a conflict.  Journalists opine, write tight paragraphs out of necessity, and do not have time or space to develop a narrative.

Biographies require a narrative treatment. It’s a form which needs to retell and recreate conversations and situations. Details are everything. When I see writer X of Such and Thus Magazine authoring a biography, I understand what I am getting myself into. That’s my bias.

My patience is waning.

“Fire and Rain” has some documentation.  There is some worthy content. We learn a few new details. All good. However, I cringe every few pages over grammatical sloppiness. The greater crime is a lack of fact-checking. It causes one to question the author and publisher’s motives. Do we get this thing written, ship product out, and accept the shortcomings for the cash?  Apparently. Don’t publishers employ editors anymore? Mean, picky editors who force accountability and some conformity to basic standards?  Apparently not. Is it too much to ask that information be cited, and some footnotes available?

I’ll offer an example of this miserable lack of fact-checking.

On page 124, the author is discussing the anticipation surrounding Taylor’s follow-up record to his first U.S. release on the Warner label, Sweet Baby James. ( Note that Taylor’s actual first record, James Taylor, was on the Apple label, but the zoo that was Apple and it’s messy demise, kept the record from being well promoted. There was nobody handling A&R at the time.)  Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon made a huge impression. Sophomore albums usually sell fewer units than first releases, and that is an accepted pattern in the record industry. I run into frustration in the following sentence from paragraph three.

“Solo artists like Jackson Browne and Cat Stevens were enjoying much-publicized revivals, so it wasn’t difficult to predict that Taylor’s new album would see massive media exposure.”

Here is the problem.  Although Cat Stephen’s 1971 release, Teaser and the Fire Cat was his fifth album, he had not yet taken off in the United States. The two singles from the first three albums reached chart positions of 118 and 115 (Billboard).  He did much better in the UK. In 1970, Wild World, from his fourth album, Tea For the Tillerman, made 11 on the chart (ibid).  Songs from this record were featured in the Harold & Maude soundtrack. This is a pattern of an artist riding up in a nice arc. Teaser was the evidence of Stevens arrival, certainly not, as the author states, a revival.

As for Jackson Browne, the author is egregiously wrong.  In 1971, Browne released his *first* album, the eponymous Jackson Browne, fondly referred, to his initial chagrin, as Saturate Before Using due to the cover art by Henry Diltz. It was a much anticipated release in the industry from the man who had composed hits for other artists.

Borrow the book from the library or go to as I did, where folks trade books. But keep the laptop handy because you’ll find yourself wanting to confirm certain details.




A few stolen days, and a reminder that who I am is of value.  A reminder that I have had a rich life, and when I tell my stories, I remember that I have contributed good to the world, and there is more here for me to do.

A reminder that I am cherished.

Finally, I am reminded that happiness is found in the eyes, and touch and conversation of everyone I take time for, every day.

Note to self: count my value.  Vocalise for two hours every day. Practice piano for one hour, and spend another hour on learning new scores and songs. Remember remembering.


Vivace con Brio!


I am sitting outside in my front garden in the dark.  It’s 2:00 a.m. and too hot to sleep.  All around  are  the sounds of people having too much fun.

It is the weekend before Labor Day, and in my neighborhood of this beautiful city, young people are making the most of the last days of summer before they head back to classrooms, or buckle down at work. One last weekend to savor summer before the holiday that traditionally delineates laid-back from focused attention hits home.

Tonight they push aside impending reality.  I listen to the giggling girls and the whooping boys. I think to myself, what is it about alcohol that makes people think they have to turn the volume switch of their voices up to “11?”  Underneath the human sounds are the thumping rhythms of bar music. Within two blocks of my home are seven restaurants which ramp up late at night, and five clubs.  All but two of the bars are upscale.

Clumps of kids come weaving up my block.  They tend to segregate by gender if they haven’t already paired off and gone wherever it is they go to get better acquainted.  As I’ve turned off the porch light, it is too dark for them to notice me.  A group of girls stop several times on their walk  for yet another to remove her expensive, come hither, but by now painful shoes.  That’s when you can tell the liquor is losing it’s magic- they begin to notice their feet hurt. They complain woefully about their Blahniks and Choos.

All clothed in little black dresses with  miles of young bare skin, these are City girls. Private school graduates. Even when tipsy, they project confidence.  They have had enough of the trolls.

I used to find the weekend scene around here irritating, especially when my kids were small. Thoughts about how shallow the partiers seemed, and the petty smugness of knowing that they would one day be sitting on the sofa the same time the bars closed, babe to breast, dripping milk everywhere. Selfish gits, I would confide to my child. They have no idea. I was jealous.

Now I enjoy listening to them. They are vibrant and still on this side of innocence.  They are of an age when they should be celebrating their freedom and beauty.  Didn’t we?  Having crossed over into full  adulthood, we know that real life will intrude on the Tuesday morning after Labor Day.  But for tonight have fun. Get laid.

Hangovers and walks of shame that greet tomorrow be damned.  The kids will buck up and carry on. We did.


Misfiled Lyrics


I have misfiled again. I must, must learn to trust again. How do I change deeply rooted habits of thinking and behavior?

I have nothing to give, and my friends needs as much as I do. I will not increase the burden. It will  make me feel worse   But  my dear friends won’t like hearing that nonsense.

My biggest fear is being misunderstood. It’s one of those days.

I am in a self-imposed exile. Not for anything another has done or not done. Rather, despite some improvement in my adjustment to big life changes, I feel utterly lonely and increasingly depressed. I am so self-consumed that I’ve nothing much left to give; it is all I can do to get through a day and meet my children’s needs.

Maybe the meds aren’t working, or I need an increase.  Maybe it’s perceptions and not issues with chemical re-uptake inhibition.

At the same time, my old friends, careful of showing favoritism and the appearance of choosing sides politely avoid me.  After church, I approached four different people to go have coffee or lunch. Everyone running off to get on with their holiday. I am overly sensitive at present, and not fun to hang around.

So I took myself to a favorite cafe, buzzing with life and interest. There was a window seat, and I fired up the laptop and juggled food and computing, sharing space with other Singletons. I was alone in the crowd. It was both disconcerting and ironic to look around me and see that most of the tables had one empty seat.

Afterward, I walked up and back six blocks each way, window shopping. Trying to shake this feeling. Ultimately I returned home to my empty house. Bad idea.

And again, I am paralyzed. Alone and unmotivated.  Able to write here, yet unable to get my songs written or sung.

I will go to my piano now and just play. Maybe getting inside the music? Some days,  the only cure which can soothe and heal.


More Keys. More Stages.

I was taught “The Five Stages of Grief ” in a philosophy class I took back in high school. Apparently, in the intervening years, some clinicians added two more stages. As if those five weren’t daunting enough, we must now swim through ever murkier waters between crisis and resolution. Swell.

Before the old first stage of Denial, we must first confront Shock or Disbelief. This makes sense. Before one can vigorously deny the issue, there has to be an action which precipitates the crisis. Minding the third slot from the old model is Bargaining. This is followed by Guilt, and number five, formerly Acceptance is now in the spleen-venting position of Anger. Number six is Depression. Finally holding forth at number seven is Acceptance & Hope. Such an enormous journey outward from Dante’s misery.

In my experience, each one of these seven stages is interrupted by Anger and Depression at expected intervals. And that adds roughly six more stages which I must slog through. Perhaps my orientation towards processing versus solution is a bit too thorough. At the least, it is inefficient because I fall into the discouraging pattern of one-step-forward-two-steps-back, an adage I find terribly annoying just now.

But this is hard stuff, and I am motivated to slow down the stages to mitigate damages to innocent parties. Mindful, of course, that I need to move forward slowly for my own mental and spiritual health. Just trying to keep moving.

The problem is that my Stages are not really following any predictable path. Five, seven or thirteen- all is a jumble. All is untidy. I can see that any course down this road contains a bit of a bi-polar element. Not pathology really, just a certain unpredictability from day to day of where I’ll find myself. It seems there is a general correspondence to the Stages. Still, something is not working here.

We are given to believe that these stages unfold in a forward path, when in truth, they are traversed over pebbles and gravel, with the occasional unpleasant water feature. On this journey lie confounding trails with intricate mazes, not unlike those found on grand old estates in Britain and elsewhere. Very pretty, but within are dozens of chances to make wrong turns and hit scratchy walls of thorns, or of falling into ditches.

The thorn in my side comes from the person from whom I am trying to unyoke. We are both experiencing these stages, but not at the same rate or time, or place. In addition to being fucking inconvenient, it is damn aggravating. Just when I think I’ve stumbled past Anger, I find myself back in Denial, be it produced by my partner or of my own making. Add to that my experience of observing the other person’s experience. Whoa! Here I’ve managed to navigate past a couple stages down the lane, but my partner is still stuck in wherever I am not…this is a problem.

In any case, I am Bargaining like crazy these days. And bargaining is consumed by Depression, which is motivated by Anger. And round we go in this endless dance.

It is hideous.

Since I tend to view my world through musical language, I’ve noticed that there are corresponding keys to the phases. If you pay any attention in music school, you pick up on the color of keys and harmonics using an incongruous blend of physics and psychology. Were I to rename the “Stages of Grief”, I would subtitle them “A Symphony of Lamentation and Heroic Struggle in C# minor.”

Some other time I might just examine the Circle of Fifths for a comparative study. Presently, it seems, I must attend to Bargaining before I get pissed off again.