Reflective Haiku I

Two old lady friends-
A neurotic depressive
And a bipolar Buddhist.

Both afraid of death.
Both worn down by the journey
Of fighting demons.

Breathing in and out,
Each reminding her sister
They have each other.

Each floats her own way
And fights against the darkness
By treading water.

Each knows she is loved
But often forgets this fact.
Hold on, wait it out.

The badness will pass
It’s just a matter of time
Keep faith in God’s love.

(c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010/(c) photo cjarc/Grace Cathedral

Pace e tenebrae

The meal and the Meal was consumed, the feet lovingly washed, the altar stripped, the dishes and wine glasses cleaned and put away as we began a journey thru the Paschal Triduum. It is dark and quiet now, and we rest.
We rest and wait and search deeper into our consciousness, seeking the stillness we often misplace.

A kind and loving man sat on his knees & washed my feet, dried them gently, and looked up at me and said, “Thank you.”

(c)GoshGusMusic (ascap) 2010

Sataña Vieros Furioso

imagesThey are coming. Yesterday, a few hours to remind us. Today it is still.  But tomorrow, or soon, we will feel the static electricity and the unease that pervades the LA Basin as the tumult increases.

The vientos de Satán have made plans and are on the rise.

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”
—Raymond Chandler, “Red Wind” (1938).

Something about these winds disturb me to a near psychotic feeling of the flight reaction. It’s all too creepy and unsettling; I have to leave LA whether I am there for business or pleasure.

With the winds come the fires. It’s a two-fer. We build out and up into areas in which the natural ecosystem requires fires for rejuvenation. Does this stop the sprawl?  Will it ever? 

A few months later, if the rains beat down heavily and we are recovering from a drought cycle, there will be mud to contend with. Houses slipping down from their perches atop hillsides exhausted from water lust, and unable to absorb it.

In both cases, people seem astounded. Why the fires? How can we build fire-resistant houses that can stay attached to the staggering views? Common sense says nature always wins. Stupid wins, too, and we never learn.

The winds arrive, and I rev my wheels for a long drive up Interstate 5 to my adopted city of cool breezes. 




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.


Singing in the Pool


A warm summer night. Flowers sway erotically in full bloom. An empty garden and two ardent lovers. What manner of deliciously reckless behavior can be had?

What is the difference between the deep end of the pool and the shallow side?

Name three creative forms of consumption of a perfectly blended Margarita?


Songs of Spring

imagesFlowers abloom and air filled with their delightful charms. Birds hatching their young and insanely excited. Outside my window, for the past four weeks, a mockingbird has been perched. She entertains me all morning, and reminds me of all the good things of which I need to remain mindful. She knows.



imagesOver the years, a few Mother’s Day’s have been misplaced. Conflicting performance schedules have been popular excuses. Too busy-ness, and a big job that requires travel (Three-quarters of the sum total of family birthdays have fallen under similar consequences.), and the refusal to write in a datebook such occasions which I take for passive-aggressive-sideways behavior. I could be wrong.

There was a golden time when Mother’s Day was a warm occasion celebrated with brunch or an early dinner. The days started out being special and fun. There was this feeling of “cool- I’m a mom! I baked these little people.” When the cards were drawn by small hands, the flowers wild and spiced with rosemary sprigs in honor of me and The Mother, those were happy times.

It was a time when more than motherhood was celebrated. What we were taking time to recognise was the joy of being a family. Despite all the underlaying unhappiness and frustration of the parents, we were a family of bright and beautiful young people who knew laughter and fun, and love.

Years passed, and small children grew as they must, but these special times of pausing to count our blessings became distilled into last minute mumblings of “Holy fuck, I forgot to buy the card. Did I buy the card? Is the flower shop near the corner still open, or maybe I can get to the grocery store before X wakes up and purchase the cake or flowers or card or chocolate croissaints or…? ”

On Mother’s Day this year, the first since my spouse moved out, I awakened to the sounds and smells of him making French Toast. By the time I’d dressed and opened my bedroom door, the kitchen was tidy as if no one had been there. Everyone gone early to church to vest for liturical duties.

On the counter in a drinking glass without water to nourish them, was a small bouquet of flowers, still in their wrapping. But there was no French Toast for me. No bread. All the eggs consumed. The traditional freshly juiced blood oranges were not present either. Perhaps worst of all: no coffee. None at all.

My feelings were multiple and weighed heavily on me. I quickly dressed and went to church. Maternal affirmation pervaded, and it made me both sad and angry. I was part of things, yet I was apart from things. I was not sure where I belonged.

One child went off with his father. Another went to see his girlfriend, and I went home to my kitty and made fresh coffee with a French Press. Then I went to bed and cried.

I miss being a family. It was something I treasured, something I put my whole life into creating and managing, and now I have fractured it because it was broken, and needed a remodel for all the members to be healthy again. It will take years.

On Mother’s Day, I questioned my judgment as I began the process of thinking, “never again will I know this.”

My first Easter in this new life was abysmal as well. I didn’t make baskets, or dye eggs, and the kids, knowing how tight the purse is, never mentioned anything.

I must remember not to let my grief interfere with the family traditions we created together. It is important that I keep these going. For them. For me.


Musical Terminology

My last post, entitled “Agitato e Accesso” caused some consternation about which I will clarify. I combined two musical markings to reflect the notes on my personal score. Agitato (agitated) accesso (ignited, on fire) expressed my mood.

Yesterday I was in that fun house of emotional turmoil felt as angry depression. I’ve been advised that such feelings are normal to my situation.
What concerns me, and causes me despair is an inability to think clearly in a dependable way. Words and actions emerge sideways, and loved ones with the best intentions, people I know have my back, get hit by shrapnel.

To my dear ones, I am so sorry that my pain at times becomes your pain. That my words and actions do not reflect my best self, nor honor my affection for all of you.

I was reminded that when I am scared or unable to see through the smoke bombs, there are always hands surrounding me, reaching out for me to hold onto. I need those hands. I love those hands!images


Agitato e Accesso!

imagesI do not have a compassionate heart.
I do not possess patience to persevere beyond my limits.
I do not know how to fix my shit. But I will. Somehow.

I want to be to be heard, and for someone to listen.
I want to know if I will ever be happy for longer than an afternoon.
I want to know why I give trust another try, and have it explode in my face
because I am not able unlearn my defensiveness.

And why the one thing so deeply, deeply important to me is used by an adult thru my child to hurt me. I feel grief and failure. I feel menacing anger.


Tuning Up

imagesLast night I had the unexpected pleasure of talking for over two hours to a dear friend with whom I had lost touch over the years. She described this process of reconnecting with old friends as “reclaiming.” I love that image.

At one point we were discussing my earlier post on the Stages of Grief (or Transition, as I prefer to call them), and she reminded me that Schumann’s compositions were reflective of these ideas. He knew. He got it. This composer and his contemporaries used the prosody of Goethe, Chamisso & Heine, with their varied expressions, to provide the narrative which so characterized the Romantics. Of course, Schumann’s insight was too acute, and ultimately led to madness, something of an occupational hazzard of the brilliantly talented.

Perhaps song cycles were the therapy of the nineteenth century?

Check out Schumann’s Frauenliebe und Leben ( A Woman’s Life and Love). Most of the Stages are there. This is a common device in these song cycles, and Frauen is one of his most sublime works. I’ll give a fairly accurate translation of the German for you. These songs are not formally titled, rather they are numbered 1-8.

1. Since I saw him…(anxious disbelief)
2. He, the most glorious of all…(surprise)
3. I cannot grasp it, nor believe it…(denial)
4. His ring on my finger…(disbelief)
His ring on my finger,
it has taught me for the first time,
has opened my gaze unto
the endless, deep value of life.

5. Help me, you sisters…(bargaining)
Help me, my sisters,
help me to banish
a foolish anxiety,
so that I may with clear
eyes receive him,
him, the source of joyfulness.

6. Sweet friend, I gaze upon you…(joyful disbelief…and fear)
About the signs
I have already asked Mother;
my good mother has
told me everything..
She has assured me that
by all appearances,
soon a cradle
will be needed.

Know you not the tears,
that I can weep?
Should you not see them,
my beloved man?
Stay by my heart,
feel its beat,
that I may, fast and faster,
hold you.

7. At my heart, at my breast…(maybe a stretch, but mild guilt)
Only a mother knows alone
what it is to love and be happy.

O how I pity then the man
who cannot feel a mother’s joy!

8. Now you have given me, for the first time, pain…(depression)
Now you have given me, for the first time, pain,
how it struck me.
He sleeps, my hard, merciless man,
the sleep of death.

The abandoned one gazes straight ahead,
the world is void.
I have loved and lived, I am
no longer living.

I withdraw silently into myself,
the veil falls,
there I have you and my lost happiness,
O you were my world!

Death is certainly a resolution. For this lady, there is no happy future. No hope. We’ve no idea what becomes of her. Somehow we missed the predictable marital spats and ardent passion, but anger would throw the entire tone off in this cycle. As for sexuality, it seems not to have had much of a place in the cultural context.

If you are not in tears by the end of a live performance of this music, blame the singer, for the composer artfully crafted this journey.

I’ll hold up another example for you to consider. Episcopalians/ Anglicans who read morning and evening prayer, from the Book of Common Prayer, follow the Lectionary for daily Psalms in the liturgy.

What has this to do with the Stages of Grief or Transition? Plenty.

The Psalms offer the chance to vent every human passion. Anger, loss, resentment, hope and hopelessness, fear, frustration and depression. Bitterness and spite amke frequent appearances. They also celebrate and discuss love and expansive joy. In the Psalms we are reminded to dance and sing!

Our role model for the practice of praying the Offices is Benedict, whose Monastery in Canterbury existed under his thin volume Rule of Life.

The Psalms embrace the Stages.

St. Benedict believed that the common (community) recitation aloud of these poems promoted mental health, spiritual well-being, and healthy interpersonal relationships of the communicants. Smart fellow.

By the way, one of his suggestions in The Rule is that clergy are not to be trusted.