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and we vamp. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

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delayed gratification.  it’s something we are growing used to in these days of days.  anticipatory glee.  it’s all an exponential wait-for-it.  as relatively impatient people, these are mostly new learnings.  there is no date on which we can hang our all-will-be-normal hats.  we must vamp until we know.

a long, long time ago, in the end of march, there was an opinion written by a woman with two teenage daughters who had a new appreciation for the way her grandparents lived.  she expressed that these grandparents owned a tiny home and had simple furnishings.  they took pleasure in the most basic of things:  dancing in the living room, watching a bare minimum on tv, sitting on the porch, crossword puzzles, having conversation, walking the familiar sidewalks of their tiny town over and over again, handwashing the dishes.  in the midst of this pandemic she could see their shining appreciation of the smallness, the stillness.  she could see the brilliance.

it occurs to me that we are living elements of her grandparents’ lives; i hope the same wisdoms will be bestowed upon us.  in the time after we have finished our work, we dance on the patio, watch little on tv, converse together, in texts, on the phone, on videoconferences, across driveways.  we sit on the deck or in the sunroom and watch spring chuggingly arrive.  we walk the same sidewalks we have walked together for years, noticing small changes: the heaved concrete or the bloomed daffodils, new mulch in gardens or new sturdy fencing.  we cook dinner; we do the dishes.  we are both quiet as we wait for what will come and we are just a little noisy in the moment.

to everything there is a season.  a time to plan.  where we will go, what we will do, who we will visit.  gratification, yes, delayed, but sage learnings in the moment.

one of the memorable texts of this waiting-place was one from a friend.  after some really serious life conversation, back and forth texting, she wrote, “let’s go out and have a drink.”  before i could wonder when we could do that, her next text arrived, “next year,” she added.

in the meanwhile we’ll do the dishes by hand and walk the sidewalks, waiting and planning, yearning, vamping till the song starts.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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“agree to disagree.” a country of hats. [merely-a-thought monday]

agree to disagree

the contagion is not merely the virus, although that is more than enough for this tenuous world to handle.  the contagion is seeping into relationship, into communities, into cities and states.  it exhibits as an inability for people to have conversation about this pandemic.  it is a pestilence that hovers over the virtual aisle between us, waiting to swarm in locust fashion.  it is pervasive.  it is contention.

we took the helm of a performing arts center last year.  when we started, we sat with the board of directors at our first official board meeting and told them that, in all things, we would be wearing our ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats.  we would ask questions:  what is best for the whole?  what is best to move the organization in a progressive way?  what is best to open the organization’s heart to embrace ideas in an equitable way, in a forward-thinking way, in a way that will keep the organization safe from harm and pushing toward better health.  we have worn the ‘what’s best for TPAC?’ hats proudly, through thick and thin, for it is in the organization-as-a-whole that we are invested.  we haven’t always been popular, and in fact at times have been shunned in silence by this same board,  but we have stayed steady in our quest to keep the performing arts center and its needs central and not to get lost in self-serving contention that exhibits as peripheral arguments or sidelined motives.  the possibilities of grand health and as a wildly successful place artists wish to be are all within reach for TPAC; all personal agenda need be left at the door and the wooden stage of this beautiful performing arts center will be filled with creating, performing, reaching audiences of all manner, flourishing, as the mission statement tagline reads.

our country sits smack in the middle of a global pandemic that demands we put on our ‘what’s best for ALL of us?’ hats.  we are seeking health.  and, though we as a world have not garnered all the information about this specific covid-19 disease that we need, it seems that the brilliant scientists and doctors, epidemiologists, researchers and public health experts have asked an abundance of questions and given us some guidelines.  these guidelines, put in place and central, are not the stuff of popularity contests.  they are the stuff of those ‘what’s best?’ hats, the stuff of steady leadership, the stuff of keeping people safe from harm and pushing toward bettering health.  through thick and thin, and with sacrifice, it doesn’t seem too much to adhere to these guidelines as a means to an end.

but cavalier complaint, unrest and protest are rampant.  and contention ensues.  ‘we’ll have to agree to disagree’ we hear time and again.  i wonder what it is we are disagreeing on?  can we ask questions:  is it the wish for all people to be well?  is it cooperation with each other to that end?  is it communal responsibility?  is it adhering to recommended guidelines, among others: to stay home, maintain social distancing, wear a mask?  these are not difficult asks and have proven to be effective at flattening the curve of this disease, a disease whose myriad symptoms exhibit in so many ways, in which dying is devastatingly painful and lonely, and one is suffocated with the pansy words ‘agree to disagree’, tentacles of irony and shameful smugness killing any chance of conversation.  misinformation begets misinformation.  it encourages loud dissension, infighting, uprisings bearing arms, people basing decisions on erroneous reports; it misguides.  instead, misinformation guides people down paths of complacency, lazy inaction, self-serving-disregard-for-others the hat of choice.

we are living in a state of ‘agree to disagree’ and where has it gotten us?  agree to disagree.  at what cost?  over 1.1 million americans have already contracted this virus and over 65,000 have died.

is there a chance we could agree to agree?  can we ask questions:  that perhaps over 64,000 in two months is too many deaths?  that humanity – each of us – is not dispensable?  that we cannot move anything forward without health, without living and breathing people, including an economy of any value to humankind?

what’s really ‘best for ALL of us’?  can we ask questions:  in this country touting that it is helping each of us, might it be possible to actually help each of us, instead of the not-so-hidden inequity sorely apparent even in the structure of stimulus bills and tax packages? might it be possible to recognize that goading people into angry protest is not a responsible re-election campaign strategy? might it be possible that angrily and aggressively bearing automatic weapons in public venues is unacceptable?  might it be possible that bullying should not be seen as a substitute for incompetent leadership?   that division is not a cure; it will neither heal or stimulate.  division will further divide this indivisible-one-nation-under-God. “the ‘invisible enemy’, as the so-called leader of this country refers to coronavirus, is not the pandemic, but, rather, the malignancy in this current administration.  in this country of hats, can we please wear the ‘what’s best for ALL of us?’ hats?

the wooden stage waits ad nauseam for all of us to have conversation, to ask questions, to work together, to agree to agree;  it waits while we heal, while we ensure people can be well, while we take steps forward-thinking, while we leave personal agenda at the door, escape from the grasp of this viral pandemic and, maybe even more, from this corrupt nation-destructing contagion.

and then, bathed in a spotlight aimed at our ‘what’s best for ALL?’ hats, we will flourish.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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this morning. [k.s. friday]

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i unfriended someone today.  i was so shocked at his response to the vital importance of continuing to social distance in this global pandemic i found it reprehensible.  his crass “everyone will die eventually” was deeply disturbing.  he actually used the term ‘survival of the fittest’.  i, in browsing for how my family and friends are doing, found no peace in his words, only a shortfall of empathy.  i shudder to think of anyone who read or who will read these callous words who has been ill, has had a loved one ill, who has lost a life in their circle of life, who has been deemed unemployed, who has missed paying their rent and who stands in line for food, who is frightened.  anyone with a heart.

i’ve unfriended a few people along the way these last few years.  this hasn’t been because i merely disagree with them.  i am open to disagreeing with you if you are open to discussion.  but these have been folks who have been closed.  closed to facts, to truth, to research, to conversation.  closed.  to me, it feels as if their hearts are closed.

for what is the importance of the next morning if what you care most about in the world is copious amounts of money or holdings?  my sweet poppo used to say, “you can’t take it with you.”  what is the importance of the next morning if you will throw others under the bus to elevate yourself?  my sweet momma used to say, “be kind.  be kind.  be kind.”  what is the importance of the next morning if everything is measured by black and white, an excel sheet of differences, all listed and highlighted.  my big brother used to play his guitar and sing, “there’s a new world coming…”  what is the importance of the next morning if you only measure yourself against others, their net worth, their houses, their jobs, their wardrobe, their vehicles, their exotic trips, their success?  in high school i recited these words from desiderata, “if you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

instead, what about that morning someday?  the one that presents you with the challenge of a lifetime, the one you have worked on honing your whole life.  the challenge to accept who you are.  the challenge to stand up straight in your integrity, to freely and generously love, to do your work, to look out into the world with open eyes.  the challenge to not compare yourself, to believe in the betterment of humanity, to be kind, and to know that you can’t take any of it with you.  the challenge to surround yourself with goodness and live now.  this morning.  tomorrow morning.  the next morning.  heart open.

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nonplussed. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

nonplussed definition

i am nonplussed.

some of you will think i am ‘bewildered, confused, perturbed, disconcerted’.  some of you will think i am ‘not disconcerted’, that i am ‘unperturbed’.  wow.  how would you know?  particularly if i only say, “i am nonplussed by this.”  language!  it’s nonplussing.

context is everything.  it is the arrows pointing to clarity.  it is the measure of the meaning of someone’s words.  it is the scale of importance given to a statement.  it is the framework within which to assess, to understand.

to be in a mature conversation, a mature communication, we seek out context, a fair understanding given the circumstances around a statement.  we look for truth and transparency in words spoken to us, searching for a place we can meet on common ground and really talk.  we provide context to others to clarify our point, to clear-stream muddy waters and avoid misunderstanding.  context is everything.  indeed.

but for right now, i will just say i am nonplussed.

read DAVID’S thoughts this NOT-SO-FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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how ’bout them apples? [merely-a-thought monday]

them apples 1

everyone does it.  in the middle of conversation.  in the middle of silence.  in the middle of a piece of music.  in the middle of a dance.  you vamp…buying time.

my poppo would vamp through a silence when he couldn’t think of anything else to say by quipping things like, “how ’bout them apples?” or “how do you like them apples?” or “do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?”  he didn’t really expect an answer in particular.  (well, except for the rhubarb question, in which case the standard ‘correct’ answer, accompanied by rolling of eyes and laughter, was always “not if it’s in cans.”)  my dad was a better ponderer than conversationalist.  my sweet momma handled most of the conversations of their over-70-years-together time.  but you could always count on my adorable poppo for this tad bit of random.

my very-excellent-“it’s-fine”-producer ken can pick out my “how ’bout them apples?” notes in a millisecond.  he recognizes them instantly and will say, “thinking note” as i vamp through a thought process heading in some direction or other with a melodic conversation in a piece of music.

some people say, “ummmm.”  others say, “liiiiike….” or “welllll….”  or “okaaaay….”  we each have our own colloquialism, our own phrase that buys time.  it’s all good.  ummm, well, ok, like, as long as we’re having conversation.

but really, how ’bout them apples?

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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conversation. [merely-a-thought monday]

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we started our day with mimosas.  the up-north-gang was in cedarburg and we descended upon the stagecoach inn’s pub, a place built in 1853, dedicated to their bed & breakfast.  we sat at wood and iron tables surrounded by vintage stone and brick walls and chatted away a very fast almost-two-hours.  we hadn’t ever been at this little pub before to start our winterfest fun.  but it was perfect and it was an easy choice when the day was over and we stopped back there to sip wine or old-fashioneds (a wisconsin staple), review the parade and bed races on the river and talk about any old thing.  i grabbed a brochure (because i, well, love brochures) and looked at it later at home.  “where you can actually hear your conversation” the little pub (named the five20 social stop) advertised.  it was true.  it was refreshing to be able to actually have a conversation and hear each other.

we do our best work in the woods.  d and i will take a walk and solve things that have stymied us.   the quiet, the beauty – it’s centering and it removes all the interruptions of home-office-work.  it offers us a chance to actually have a conversation and hear each other.

at this point, i don’t know what it would take for this world, this country, our state, our community to actually have conversations and hear each other.  so many seem to be yelling, reacting.  certainly not conversing.  it’s tempting to turn off the news app on my phone, but i don’t want to bury my head in the sand.  and yet, lately, this earth seems oddly tilted on its axis, bent on anger and strife, inflated egos, name-calling, exponential self-serving, and pointed blame.  it’s all so toxic.  where is the listening going on?

i would think about suggesting mimosas and a walk in the woods but, with all the noise out there, i don’t know who would hear me.

read DAVID’S thoughts this MERELY-A-THOUGHT MONDAY

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as you is. [two artists tuesday]

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spoiler alert to the girl, the boy, family and friends:  do not be surprised if one of your christmas/holiday presents from us is a shirt or sweatshirt or hat that says “AS YOU IS”.

we encountered michael at the farmers’ market one beautiful saturday when the sun was warm and the yellow jackets plentiful.  i was drawn to the simple stand of breeze-fluttering t-shirts, the saying AS YOU IS on the banner and the byline “big boned or small featured. thick-haired or bald-headed. married or single. A or C student. white or black or in-between. male or female. or in-between.”  we stopped to talk. i’m so glad we did.

michael was disarmingly charming and honest and zealous and positive – a breath of fresh air in a world that seems to be full of negativity and judgment these days.  he spoke of the origins of his cottage business and his simple philosophy, arrived at through years of painful learning and experience and after a long career outside of this new mission.  we could relate to him.  he told us the point of AS YOU IS:  “As You Is” is a rally cry for anyone and everyone that has a good heart, regardless of race, color, faith, age, gender, nationality, physical or mental limitations, or appearance. 

the pull to stay and talk was strong, but that would have precluded michael from introducing others at the market to his new line, his new business.  and so, we grabbed business cards, asked him to design some sweatshirts as well and continued on our way.  but AS YOU IS has remained in our conversations together.  his AS YOU IS.  our (sweet momma/beaky-inspired) BE KIND.  twinsies.

i suspect we will seek michael out to talk some more.  because chatting with someone about acceptance and hope and goodness is, as michael says, one hella gift.

AS YOU IS

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click here or on the box above to visit ASYOUIS website

As You Is® was created to start conversations…to cause total strangers to smile…to make people think…to get others to feel so accepted they break out in impromptu dance…and to put a serious chink in the armor of racism.

Our hope is one day children can embrace being uniquely themselves, where they feel safe being different and where old people – like our founder Michael Fornwald – can age gracefully or ungracefully sans self-contempt.

Please join us by infecting others with hope one hella cool t-shirt or cap at a time.

BE KIND

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“Be kind to each other. Always.” (my sweet momma/beaky)

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trust where you’re going. [two artists tuesday]

TRUST this one.jpg

so if you are an over-thinker like me, this is tough – to trust where you’re going.  there are too many details that get in the way of the overall picture.  d is a global thinker…he looks at the bigger picture, he calls it “from 30,000 feet”.  i need to be able to envision each foot to get there….ok, maybe not EACH one, but i need a few more details lined up in order to believe something is possible.  that disparity gets us in trouble sometimes.  we talk about something and are having two different conversations within the same conversation.  mostly, we usually agree on the ultimate Thing, but getting there is, well, sometimes cloaked in a tad bit of disagreement.

who was it that said, “everything will be ok in the end.  and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end” ???  such brilliance! and optimism!  i suppose we gauge so much of what might happen on what happened Before.  we have pre-judgments about how something will turn out; we have reluctance to start; we think, “i’ve already DONE this and it didn’t work.”

i am at a crossroads.  after 15 albums, i haven’t recorded an album in 8 years, haven’t recorded a new vocal album in 16.  16!  where does the time go?  albums are very expensive projects, not only financially, but emotionally.  as i have already talked about numerous times, there is financial pressure on independent artists now like never before.  streaming and illegal downloading has lead to a literal trickle of income, despite millions of “listens”.

so – where do i go from here?  songs have been waiting; the piano beckons.  something in me resists, afraid of not recouping even what it costs at the front end for something new to be released.  part of me wants to believe – believe that it’s time to release something new, in this new time of my career.  put it out there and not be concerned with how it is received, how many cds are purchased, how many paid downloads vs how many times it is streamed or pirated.  but that won’t pay any bills, won’t afford a living.  i am having trouble seeing the 30,000 foot view.  not to mention all the feet in-between here and there.

like you, in some arena of your life, i am trying to trust.  that whatever decision i make it will be ok in the end.  and, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

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flawed cartoon wednesday

49Steps BIGcopy copy 2interrupting is an art form on long island.  i know this. i grew up there.  and, apparently, i carried this forward.  it took d a while (read:  a few years and meeting crunch)  to realize i was paying attention, that i wasn’t ignoring what he was saying when i interrupted…i just knew where he was going with it and jumped ahead.  now, i do realize that sounds pretty rude.  it’s not my intention to ever be rude, so i have tried, in recent times, to w.a.i.t. before i speak…at least a little bit longer.  if you are nearby when jen and i talk, you will think we are interrupting each other, talking in a circular path and arriving back at the point; carol and i have, for decades, conversed in short snippets of interrupted tangents.  regardless of our intent, no one wants to be asked to “pay attention!”

yet, we have all these ways, nowadays (using this word makes me sound old), to not pay attention.   how many videos have you seen where people are walking in a mall (or somewhere) texting or reading on their cellphone and fall into a fountain (or some other obstacle.)  we sit with others and try to hold a conversation, but they are busy on their phone or some device checking facebook or texts or twitter or the news…so many ways to not pay attention, so many distractions.   we see the tragic effects of split focus while people are driving cars.

we are no longer just giving our attention to the moment.  we are interrupting conversation, our work, the activity we are involved in, each other’s safety.  we would be well-served to pay just-a-little-more attention.

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