Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Wait...I do know what this page is for.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back to the future.

Home after months away.
Overgrown garden, weedchoked pond, surprising oregano. A friend's unexpected gift: six neatly tied bags of yard waste.
My husband's saxophone practice, veggies and hummus on the table, good wine, old mail. An approaching hurricane.
In our wake: concerts, recitals, an opera, great work with dear friends, the end of an era, dreams and plans.
Life on earth measurably better, palpably shorter.
I still don't know what this page is for.

Monday, July 7, 2008

garden state

Family connections left behind, for now, in favor of professional ones. What a blessed, infuriating, bittersweet and sweet time we had, joined to all of these intimate strangers, faces giving away the blood family, the rest of us volunteers hanging around the edges. Different people standing before different doors, several journeys already begun privately. Confidences shared, grievances aired, breeze shot. Leaving just in time. In an ivy-covered town now for a few teaching days, helping people string breath, words, and tone together as though the universe could be held fast by such connections. But that's a crazy idea...


Friday, July 4, 2008

home on the range

I am near several Great Lakes, celebrating holiday and family milestones with an extended group of inlaws. Last night saw (as does every night involving a reunion of these far-flung brothers) a massive poker game, which featured home-brewed beer, fierce competition, and several iPods on shuffle. I was struck by the wide-ranging tastes of this group (five men ages seventeen through forty-nine, varying levels of education, one professional musician, two former high school band members, one church choir singer, and one who proclaims himself tone deaf). We heard the Mozart Requiem, Esperanza Spalding, Hank Williams, Mars Volta, Radiohead, Soundgarden, Chris Whitley, Lucinda Williams, Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, on and on. Today we'll gather for a completely typical Independence Day celebration, brats and beens and sparklers, which is to say that there's nothing particularly spectacular about the general musical taste of this family.

People are smart! People are interested in many kinds of musical expression and are touched by many things! Why does there seem to be a disconnect between this obvious truth and the workings of the music business?

Often I find myself frustrated by a culture that seems too lazy to leave its own house, divorced from the magic of gathering in a special place for a special purpose. Last night I found myself blind on the other side of the elephant, wondering how it is possible to underestimate ourselves so deeply.

ps...if you have not heard the above mentioned Ms. Spalding, "run", do not "walk", to the nearest "place" where you can get your hands on her music.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I spent twelve years of my life sitting in a hole in the floor. Okay, that wasn't the only place I hung out. I also whiled away certain hours sitting on benches (piano and park), chairs, sofas, floors, carpets, and grass. I nestled my ample frame into cars, airplanes, trains, tents, and one particularly fabulous canoe. There were notable achievements as well in the fields of standing and walking. So it's not like my life was limited.

My chosen spot, however, was aptly named: prompter's box, or simply, "the box" (that's what the cool kids said). Small and airless, it contained secrets. Gifts, sometimes - no, often, given and received. Inside, I was isolated, powerful, alone, necessary, anonymous, helpful, invisible...but that may have all been my imagination, which had plenty of time to run wild in the mostly boring hours. That said, I sat on the mountaintop a few times in that dusty closet; when I climbed out, its narrowness surprised me.

I never expected to be a prompter in an opera house, and I don't miss doing it, but it was a special privilege. With it came a secret, a surprise, a gift - the possibility of deep relationship. My relationship with music came easy, but that with other musicians - other people - has always been a trickier proposition, intimate and overwhelming. To climb down the rabbit hole with the words and music of genius, my friends all around me (above and below, on stage and in the orchestra pit), and to wait in attendance to see who might need a cue (a word, a note, a smile, a calm breath) was to experience quiet, focus, and connection for the first time. Eventually I could hardly wait to get out of that tiny space, but I had to go in to get out.

Thanks, you odd, exacting, dying profession.


Sunday, June 1, 2008

In with the good air...

My mom saved someone's life in church last week. When Pastor Tim paused in the sermon to say kindly, "is there a doctor or other medical professional with us today?" and Mom looked around hoping for someone else's raised hand, there was only enough time for most people to put the situation together before she was moving away, calm white head floating down the aisle above the seated congregants (old neighbors, new residents, denizens of my hometown strange and familiar). The elderly lady was slumped back in the first pew, unresponsive, and the church staff was looking for the defibrillator and realizing that no one really knew how to use it. Mom bent over the still woman and gently (no preamble, no announcement) sighed two quick breaths into her open, slack mouth. She told me later that these are called "rescue breaths", and that she was glad that if it had to be someone that it was this prim, neat woman. The eyelids of that lady's sweet, fragile face fluttered open, and suddenly she was sitting up. "I'm OK," she whispered, and soon the EMTs were there and the pastor resumed talking, and everyone sat with what had just happened (not happened) as easily as possible in church, at home, in the place I knew as my first theater.

People (have/will always) come together to try and explain this life to themselves and each other. They listen and breathe together in various spaces, at various times, with varying degrees of agreement and intention. Sometimes they save each other's lives, or at least wake each other up. Sometimes they change the course of what seems inevitable. It doesn't always happen in a way that seems very theatrical. When technique is beautifully at an actor's disposal, what she does can be so simple that you can almost forget about it a few minutes later, as though a dead woman has not just opened her eyes.

The thing I should admit from the start is that I believe in theater, in theaters, and in the miracles that happen there. I believe that, attending, we can save each other's lives.