Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Long Winter

Winter had lasted so long that is seemed it would never end. It seemed that they would never really wake up.
In the morning Laura got out of bed into the cold. She dressed downstairs by the fire that Pa had kindled before he went to the stable, They ate their course brown bread. Then all day long she and Ma and Mary ground wheat and twisted hay as fast as they could. The fire must not go out; it was very cold. They ate some course brown bread. Then Laura climbed into the cold bed and shivered until she grew warm enough to sleep.
Next morning she got out of bed into the cold. She dressed in the chilly kitchen by the fire. She ate her course brown bed. She took turns at grinding wheat and twisting hay. She did not ever feel awake. She felt beaten by the cold and storms. She knew she was dull and stupid but she could not wake up.

from The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
(now doesn't that make you feel better?)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Does everyone have a thorn?
sharp, unrelenting, deathless
a backpack stuffed full of faults
some gravity for the soul

a caustic river in your veins
arthritis in your arm bones as they reach out
to clench the tiny remnants of self-worth
you spent your youth searching for

recycled, reused, repiercing
as if you swallowed vinegar and razors
on any unforgiven day it would taste like
serrated sugar, polluted with guilt

it doesn't matter how many times
you burn your whited-out journals
and touch the precious ashes
it's a phoenix in man's clothing

does everyone have a stumbling stone?
as you walk down the Via Dolorosa
year after breakable year, the fruitless waiting
for it to go away

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Coexist Quote

The family of man is not limited to a single race or religion, to a single city or country... the family of man is nearly 3 billion strong. Most of its members are not white and most of them are not Christian. The members of this family should be at peace with one another.
John F. Kennedy

Friday, February 19, 2010

Marc Cohn - The Power of Music and Lyrics - Part 2

On February 7th I wrote about the power of music and lyrics, and this week I saw it in action. My son and I went to see Marc Cohn (of "Walking in Memphis" fame) perform at the Kent Stage. Cohn has been a favorite of mine since the early 90's. He's a seasoned performer, making you feel like he's in your living room chatting with you. Some artists are better to see in concert like James Taylor and Marc Cohn. Their personas, the soulful beauty of the voices,and their musicianship are stunning in person. If you've never heard Marc - try to find a You Tube live performance (when he's bald).

At the end of the concert Marc and three others performed (for the first and only time) a deeply moving rendition of the Crosby, Stills, Nash song "Ohio" as we sat in an old movie theater about a half of a mile from where four students senselessly died. I graduated from Kent State and the story of May 4, 1970 still chokes me up.

One of the many things I have always loved about my 28 year-old son is that he appreciates, and is touched, by all types of music. He lets himself feel the music and the lyrics and that has brought me much joy. I admire him now as a man still allowing himself to be emotional at times. Since his teen years we have shared concerts and songs with each other, and it is, of course, very special to me. One of my dearest memories from his childhood is my little boy sitting in front of the stereo, clutching his stuffed "Fievel" from the movie "American Tale", listening to the orchestral soundtrack and crying his eyes out remembering the emotional parts of the movie (when Fievel was in danger!) The music spoke to him. I knew then that music would be an integral part of his life, as it has been in mine.

And so, the power of music and lyrics extends to bonding moments between mother and son - as I hope it always will. Sometime I'll write about the song he and I will dance to at his wedding this summer :) sniff.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Glitter in the Air

If you missed Pink's performance of "Glitter in the Air" at the Grammy's - the one where she's mostly naked, hanging in the air in a swath of material, singing upside down and dripping wet - well, you missed it.
It made me buy her CD and I decided I really like the lyrics of the song - something probably no one heard during that performance - even me, the emo music junkie, the lyric freak - since I was standing in front of the TV with my mouth gaping open.

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?
Closed your eyes and trusted, just trusted.
Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face
and said, "I just don't care?"
It's only half past the point of no return,
the tip of the iceberg,
the sun before the burn,
the thunder before the lightning,
and the breath before the phrase.
Have you ever felt this way?
Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone?
Your whole life waiting on the ring to prove you're not alone?
Have you ever been touched so gently you had to cry?
Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?
Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight?
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself
will it ever get better than tonight?

Saturday, February 13, 2010


When I think of you, my Valentine,
I think of a safe place to lie each night

in a room of contentment
feeling the heat radiating from you.

And what is love but a safe place
to exist in a frightening world?

I could pull my heart out and offer it to the universe,
but it would be you, my Valentine,

who would take it and silently protect it
in your hands forever.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quotes of Cheer

In this continuing bleak midwinter I thought I'd share a few uplifting quotes.

We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.
Anne frank

Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.
Abraham Lincoln

The grand essentials for happiness are: something to do, something to love, and sonething to hope for.
Allan K. Chalmers

When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.
Dalai Lama

When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
Helen Keller

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Power of Music and Lyrics

I have sung in choirs and choruses, at weddings and as a church soloist all my life. I've been transported to heaven singing Brahm's German Requiem. I've been honored to sing at weddings of people I don't know. All my life I've had the privilege of choosing songs that were meaningful to me to share with a congregation. But I don't listen to these songs in my car, walking with my ipod, or at home. I exclusively listen to music for lyrics that evoke a certain emotion in me. It's a habit I've had for almost twenty years since a single CD changed me. It was a time when I was experiencing every negative emotion humanly possible, and sometimes no emotion at all. Although it was a tumultuous and frightening time, it also gave me a rush of something new, something swiftly approaching, a nascent hope and a release from the monotony of a former life. Sometimes I listen to those songs just to experience that rush again. Or the one song that still makes me flinch.

There were two CDs that connected to my very soul. One was Tori Amos's Little Earthquakes. With piano sounds and lyrics I'd never heard before, it gave me permission to be angry (which I desperately needed), to scream, to make me feel alive again. I believe I started writing poetry because her lyrics were poetry to me. On the way home from divorce court I loudly sang along with the song "Little Earthquakes" - give me life, give me pain, give me myself again.
The song "Crucify" asked - why do we crucify ourselves everyday? I crucify myself and nothing I do is good enough for you.
"Tear in Your Hand" said - you don't know the power you have with that tear in your hand.
She sang to me - she's been everybody else's girl, maybe one day she'll be her own.
And - sometimes I hear my voice and it's been HERE - silent all these years.
And - these precious things - let them bleed, let them wash away....

Then, the underrated Kenny Loggins made a CD called Leap of Faith, and I thought he was in my brain. It seemed he was feeling the same things I was:
And if I have to make up my mind, maybe now is the time to decide. Every minute makes it harder on me. Why must it be now or never?

Then in "Leap of Faith" he sang - Once in a life you can find the time to see. Then you get to take it down, turn around, temporary sanity. And then the mountain disappears without a trace - and all it took was a sudden leap of faith.

He sang to his daughter in "The Real Thing" - I did it for you and the boys, because love should teach you joy, and not the imitation that your mama and daddy tried to show you. I did it for you and for me and because I still believe there's only one thing you can never give up on and that's the real thing you need in love.

And I played that song for people to try to explain why my life had fallen apart. At the end of that song he sings:
Everybody's got a boat upon the ocean, but not everybody's sailing out to sea. Is there someone there for me? I'm ready to believe...

AND SO - the last song of that album is called "Too Early for the Sun." It was a few years before I could relate to that one:
You're too early for the stars, too early for the wind
too early for my heart to open up again
but when I see you I just laugh, and I believe
I'm right where I'm supposed to be.
I have never known a life like this except in my dreams
one kiss and I arose anew, now I am alive
I have survived.

And so - after seasons of pain and anger, healing and forgiveness - this was our first dance in my living room. This was our first dance as husband and wife. This is our dance every July 6th in our living room. The album Leap of Faith came full circle in my life - how appropriate.

These songs, these lyrics had a powerful effect on me. Some of them changed me, grew me, and healed me. I will always be grateful that these artists sang their truths because they made me understand my own truth. Music still does that for me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Coexisting with Jewelry :)

In the spirit of the blog COEXIST, my husband bought me this one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted beautiful COEXIST necklace for my birthday! Thank you Honey.

Monday, February 1, 2010

All Things Down

snow laden branches
the peach juice running out
of the corners of your mouth
sometimes us
the slope of your ski nose
the Challenger body parts
rockets returning to earth
eventually, the birds
hammering, depressed
descelerating your speed
leaves abandoning twigs
swallowing, collapsing:
the twin towers
the soft plummage of a bird
a sedative in her mouth
moving to the edge of the stage
in a low position
calm it now
it can be penniless
impoverished in luck
despondent, crestfallen
down -
trodden, turn, ward, swing,
stage, right, pour, stream, state, stairs
- to earth - and out
all things down