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.


  images (Revised 9/18/17)

The destruction of a long-term  relationship, leading to her hitting rock bottom.  She is sometimes delusional.  In her addled mind, she sometimes believes she’s lost all of her friends, most of whom were mutual friends of the partnership, her in-laws, her community.

This delusion is the result of wrong thinking. When she has a clear mind, she sees all the people who really care about her, and have been there all along, some since childhood. Once again , they are in the foreground of her life, reminding her of her value as a human being, as a friend, as a mother. Yes, she has lost some friends in the war. Friends who were there for a season, and have moved on. It’s not a bad thing. It just is.

 Back to the delusion, she knows it is all her fault. Of course it is. That is what he says.  His mental illness, his failures, all bad occurrences and recurrences would never be, but for  her decision to recind the contract.  She has ruined his life. Forever. That’s what his family takes as gospel. It’s a family of enablers.

But it’s not all her fault. Get real.

His mother prayed for the demise of his son’s marriage to this unsubmissive woman, this vegetarian, teetotling feminist who breastfed her children forever, and didn’t change her name at marriage. A woman who took off to one of the top summer opera  Young Artists Program for 12 weeks months after her wedding, and the following two summers, and weeks periodically for the rest of the year.

In other words, she was a bad wife according to the mother-in-law, and she fed that narrative to her son, the husband.

Among tha many gems uttered by his mother was the following: “There is nothing wrong with my children, it’s just the people they married.”

Do you get that?

Aren’t we, as women expected to  keep our marriages together? If they fail, is it not, by default, we who are to blame?

Do you get that?

 The meek little wifey model disappeared decades ago. It’s still practiced in fundementalist cultures all over the world, including the United States. Society has evolved and expanded, and some people aren’t able to stretch their imaginations and adapt. They refuse. The in-laws close ranks and believe whatever it that their son or brother, her husband, tells them. And it’s always the kids who suffer from the disconnection. You shun the mother, and wonder why the children will do anything to avoid spending time with those people. The children are loyal to their mother. They observed firsthand the abuse over the years, and how their father’s family did nothing to help.

The same woman once said, “I like my children. I just don’t like other people’s children.”

Does she get that ? Skilled dispensor of passive-agression, her mother-in-law?

Does she wonder why her grandchildren are not in touch? Does she understand they why don’t come around? Of course, that is their mother’s fault. Never mind the children are adults. That is their family culture. Submit, conform, or you can’t play with us.

What am I talking about? I am trying to reconcile how I went from someone with a good education, a prodigious talent, a career, self-respect. A singer with big competition wins A confident woman who collapsed into a beaten down, humiliated, & depressed woman in a violent marriage. How did that happen?  I need to check in, look into this hatbox which I shoved up on a high shelf, and check my compass.  I hate thinking about all of this. But I’m stuck again. What’s working? What’s static?

I am ready to write about these things now. My children are all adults. This is also their history.



“…so he had power over me. That’s all tyranny is: it’s not in a personality; it’s in a set of circumstances. It’s being trapped with your enemy in a limited space- a country or a family- where the balance of power between you is unequal and the weaker one has no recourse
-Tessa Hadley, The New Yorker, 6/6/11.

Felice sorpresa: Stephen Fry Pays a Visit!

Early one afternoon after having returned from errands, I walked into the spacious living room of the Eichler-inspired home into which I had just moved with my teenage sons and surly cat. I found Stephen sitting round the dining table, sorting through boxes of old photos. Lively conversation between my sons and Uncle Stevie bounced between the history of the English Reformation, the Elightenment, and geek-talk. I was grateful to smell a fresh pot of coffee wafting in from the kitchen. Perfectly perfect. Stephen, ever so thoughtful, knew how delighted I would be over such a simple kindness. Of course, the man has his own grand affair with well roasted cuppas, and it may have been a matter of two birds and all.

Stephen the doting uncle- the boys adore him. He has stepped into this role with graciousness and affection at a time when grief and loss, anger and disappointment, and the experience of abandonment has overwhelmed us beyond imagining. And here he is, with his wit and cheer and indefatigable charm filling our lives with light. The man has perfect timing in all ways. He greeted me with such a hug. I am a tall woman, and to receive a hug from a fellow of six-feet four-ish makes me feel girlish and almost petite. Not easy to explain, but those of you in my heels will understand this is a rare experience. In those long arms I felt a moment of utter safety- that no harm could ever touch me again. Why did I hide the truth from him for so long when he was always so ready to help, and ever generous with his time and resources? My family was laughing again after a long drought. Enjoying the pleasure of some fine company after the big failure.

Within me, there is shame in admitting failure. An individual of whom I am quite fond, an immigrant from Glasgow, likes to explain that one of the reasons he was attracted to America was because he observed the ethic that there was no shame in failure. That one of the primary cultural contracts is one can swing and miss, and it’s okay. You dust yourself off, pick up the bat, and have another go. In fact, failure is seen as necessary for success. In many ways, I would agree. How about failure versus not succeeding? I‘m able to discern a few exceptions, but in general he is on the right course. But there remains one area in which failure is often judged as a character flaw, and that is the failure of one’s marriage.

How is failure different from not succeeding? I posed this idea to a wise friend. Failure, he said, is the result of having exhausted all your options. But failure to succeed or lack of success implies that hope of reaching your goal is alive. Yes, I have failed. I am stuck. I am neither here nor there but wandering in the Mahasunn of this purgatory. I don’t know who I am other than I am becoming. I had forgotten how to be, and that I

Learning how to be…

As the gentlemen shuffled the photos, Stephen found one he particularly fancied and asked as to whether he might keep it or have a copy.  It was taken on a trip when the man-children were eight and twelve.  On a fallen tree spanning a gentle creek, two shining faces smile into the camera. “Why this one?”  I asked him. He replied that in it he saw an innocence in those faces before the deluge of changes came about.  And he wanted the boys to see the picture when they came to visit him, as a reminder that they knew once how to be happy and would be so again.

We drank our coffee and snacked on fruit. Stories were shared. Small advice was offered. Such a delightful afternoon. And then I was awake. (c)GoshGusMusic(ascap)2010