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tacet root vegetables. [k.s. friday]

ritenuto: an abrupt slowing down of tempo

tacet: silence of instrument

fermata: pause of unspecified time

and, suddenly, a prolonged tacet. no notes. no instrumentation. no expression markings. no crescendos or decrescendos. just silence. the baton is laid down. there is no beat pick-up. there is no rest. it is silence. issued. written in the music. a ritenuto – screeching to slow, a subito tacet. suddenly still.

the reassurances are generous, heartfelt. they are reflexes, like putting out your hand when you fall. they are meant to help in the silence, in the sudden slowdown, the sudden stop, the fermata holding the tacet. they make my heart quiver, these well wishes. but they don’t change the composer’s notes in the music: the ritenuto. the tacet. the fermata. those are printed in the music; those are decreed. they are unquestionable, immovable, indisputable, final.

i was voted off the island, in “survivor” talk. it was not an island, but, nevertheless, i am not a survivor. not there, anyway. i am forever tacet-ed there. the fermata above my tacet-ed head reminds me.

it, too, reminds me to be still. to step lightly. to be gentle with myself. i run the scores in my head – scores of scores in that place. i emoted each expression marking, each twist of the music, each gradual shaping, each change of tempo, of timbre, of voice.

and now.

i opened this book randomly, hoping to arrive on a page that might offer me wisdom. i read: “upheavals in life are often times when the soul has become too smothered; it needs to push through the layers of surface under which it is buried….it reminds us that we are children of the eternal and our time on earth is meant to be a pilgrimage of growth and creativity.” (john o’donohue)

it doesn’t feel like a platitude. i’ve read it over and over and over again now since the morning i was fired. i wonder, each day, when the baton will be lifted, when the pick-up beat will come. i remember the all-engulfing power of change works both ways – to decimate and to breathe new life. i – try – to trust the dusty trail i am reluctantly set upon.

upheaval. sudden arrival at prolonged silence. not much more upheaval for an artist than silence. yet, as i sit in this silence, deemed as fitting by the composer, i feel the root-vegetable-of-my-soul gathering energy. with no idea and no preconception, i await as it will push through the earth one day, steeped in nutrients, rooted in rich soil.

my sweet momma said, “live life, my sweet potato.” oh wise woman, you must have known.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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bullied. as a woman. [flawed wednesday]

“never be bullied into silence. never allow yourself to be made a victim. accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” (harvey fierstein)

“to thine own self be true,” my sweet momma would say. she and harvey fierstein would have been pals. heck, i should be pals with harvey.

there is a cost. we all know that. coloring outside the lines requires sisu, gumption, chutzpah. speaking up, speaking out, speaking for, speaking against. a cost.

like you, i have been bullied into silence in my life. i have been harassed and i have been victimized. i have been liquified and poured into molds that don’t fit. i have been vaporized. i have allowed it. i have not allowed it.

i am a woman. and with that comes bullying, harassment, victimization. with that come molds, generalizations, inequalities, assumptions.

i am not naive enough to believe that were i to be a man i would never face any of these crushing blows. but i do believe that i would have faced seriously fewer.

it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been sexually assaulted at an innocent 19. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that, in reporting the abuse of many underage young women, i would have my life threatened at 21. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been scarily pursued by a man-with-a-foot-fetish at 35. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been terrifyingly stalked at 50. it is not as likely, were i to be a man, that i would have been verbally and professionally assailed at 60.

were i to be a man, the men who wielded the power in each of these might have tucked his superman cape away, might have had a second thought, might have played out his control-game-fantasy somewhere else.

but i am a woman. and, for some reason deeply embedded in society, that changes the rules and empowers the mongers.

i have been silent.

for too long.

read DAVID’S thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY


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“transparent.” [merely-a-thought monday]

the headline from business insider magazine reads, “chris krebs firing from CISA (cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency) was evidence of his success.” the united states top department of homeland security cybersecurity official was fired this week after spearheading efforts to protect the democratic process of the election. he spoke to the truth; he exposed the falsehoods, the mismanagement of factual information, the peril to free and fair elections, his ignored answers to questions about an election that was “the most secure in american history.” he was removed. democracy is at stake.

defense secretary mark esper, apparently not loyal enough to a president who seeks not truth, but rather, compliance, was fired early in november, injecting uncertainty into an already perilous global climate. he was replaced. our country is destabilized, put at greater risk.

 lt. col. alexander vindman, a national security council staff member, raised his hand and swore to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.  after speaking to the truth in impeachment hearings for the current president, he was fired by the president, the same man who was impeached. his error? speaking the truth, citing facts, about a man who demands only absolute alliance, disregarding truth. that man, along with those complicit to him, exacted revenge.

 dr. anthony fauci, the director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases since 1984, speaking to the truth, the inconceivable and unconscionable peril that this country is facing in the middle of this raging global pandemic, has been minimized and tossed off, threatened with being fired by a president intent on absolute control, absolute obedience. factual information needed to protect a vulnerable populace has been withheld, experts with words of wisdom have been held at bay. more people will contract this disease. more people will die.

 “transparency, in a business or governance context, is honesty and openness.”
“transparency is the open sharing of information from a business to its consumers. it creates brand trust, good communication and perceived good citizenship.”

transparency is not the utterance of pretty words. it is not relationship participating in hiding the truth, sweeping it under the rug. it is not silent. it is not intentionally deceptive. it is having hard and healthy conversations,
respectfully taking responsibility, navigating difficulty, meeting and addressing problems head-on, collaborating with maturity, eyes toward progress and shared authenticity.

our election process. our national security. the integrity of our leadership. our collective health.

lack of transparency. peril. potential collapse.

there is too much of that going around.

what a sad commentary on our times.

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


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the fermata. [k.s. friday]

on hold.

the fermata lingers over my days, issuing a pause of length undetermined. the baton is held in the air. there is no downbeat, no pattern of time. just prolonged waiting.

in dr. seuss fashion we wait in the waiting place.

answers are just beyond our grasp, skimming the rim of the atmosphere, invisible to us, ephemeral and flimsy, ever-changing, like trying to capture the flicker of flame from the top of a candle lit in the darkness.

so i just keep waiting. we just keep waiting. our world just keeps waiting.

we sit quietly. we rail at the wind. we speak up. we skirt to the sidelines. we ask questions. we wonder. we are met with silence. we are dissolved. we seek fairness, equity. there is none of that. we step away from the noise. it follows us, snapping at our ankles. we do good work. we seek truth. we are managed, a place of hypocrisy. our country flails. we flail.

and we wait. knowing that, indeed, better will come. knowing that, in some measures, new will come. knowing that, after the fermata, light will come. grieving all we have lost in the process, in the journey, in the waiting place.

we are holding.

read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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and not to be silent. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

there comes a time when silence

silence is not always golden.

in a country deeply divided by narrative, the decision between silence and speech presents a challenge.  subjected to judgement and the possibility of being harangued, speaking words, speaking truth, is a choice-point.

this is a time of massive misinformation, a time of gullibility, a time of digging in heels, a time of excuse-making, a time of circling bandwagons.  to pass by one who opines misinformation is to be complicit.  to be silent around falsehoods is to be complicit.  to not speak to inequity, to not address moral or ethical failures, to not stand up against prejudice and bigotry is to be complicit.  to fail to engage against injustice, to not protect the truth, to rabidly push narratives of lies, is perfidy.  to stand silently by is perilous.  yes.  there does come a time when silence is betrayal.

it would seem that two people or two groups of people, no matter how disparate, should be able to have a conversation.  it would seem that they should be able to maturely debate, using factual information, issues that are at hand.  it would seem that they should be able to respect each other, use discretion, and, without the betrayal of silence or anger, come to a place where ideas shared might move them closer together in understanding and mutual goals.  it would seem that there is a bigger picture.

it would seem that unity might be the utmost goal, the endzone, the heavily-weighted bottom half of the pyramid of needs.  it would seem in a country that its people would want to be unified in its most basic desires, its most basic values, its most basic tenets.  it would seem that for a society to survive it must gather its people and its resources together to achieve any sort of illumination or actualization.

but relationship and conversation and unity cannot be achieved in silence.  for silence-personified invites assumptions.  silence-personified instills distrust.  silence-personified creates chasms out of dividing lines.  silence-personified shatters relationships.  silence-personified builds walls of resentment, houses impervious to healing or conversation, learning or compromise.  silence-personified is dangerous and paralyzing.

for those who speak the truth despite the pain of vulnerability, despite the vast line in the sand, regardless of any tribal politics and with much courage, we glean there is a way to survival, there is a way out of the polarization.

but time is of the essence.  it is none too soon to start.  to speak.  and not to be silent.

“when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up.  you have to say something.  you have to do something.”  (john lewis)

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

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mouths shut. mouths aloud. [flawed wednesday]

keep yo mouth shut

“and if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all,” my sweet momma would admonish.

yes, sometimes ‘you just gotta button it up’.  there are those moments you know it.  there are also those moments you knew it but the cat did not have your tongue and the reactionary in you reared its ugly head and you spat out something you instantly regretted.

wisdom has been passed down in quiet steadfast sages.  their lessons have been lost on many; their diplomacy skipped in dna strands, oft replaced by quick tempers and faster tongues.

as jen would say, “you can’t un-say/un-see/un-know it.”  good to remember.

one day, back in college, i had the good fortune of eating lunch with paul simon.  the chitchat was about many things under the sun, but i wish i had asked him a bit more about this song.  he said that in the inability of people to communicate, no one was listening to him and no one was listening to anyone else.  as we passed by captain mike’s and the irish pub and the beach and downtown a couple days ago, i thought he clearly wrote this song about now, the middle of this global pandemic.  who is listening?  who is speaking?  who should be speaking?  who should be listening?  why is the silence – truly in the middle of so much noise – so deafening?

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
i wonder about a world where no one is listening, no one is paying attention.  i wonder
what kind of world are we passing on to those behind us?  keeping quiet, speaking out, exercising verbal self-control, standing up, articulating for what is right in the face of adversity….
me and all my friends
we’re all misunderstood
they say we stand for nothing and
there’s no way we ever could
now we see everything that’s going wrong
with the world and those who lead it
we just feel like we don’t have the means
to rise above and beat it
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
it’s not that we don’t care
we just know that the fight ain’t fair
so we keep waiting
waiting on the world to change
and we know that sometimes it is simply best to keep your mouth shut.  to wait.  sometimes it is the right thing to do.  sometimes it is the only way through to the other side.
now you say it best when you say nothing at all.
silence speaks louder than words.  silence is, indeed, often golden.  insight, compassion, discernment, respect, knowledge, empathy, listening – all golden qualities of those who choose their words wisely, those who know when to keep their mouth shut.
archie bunker, of ‘all in the family‘ fame, knew he had a big mouth.  it got him good ratings, but carrol o’connor, the actor who played archie, said this about the main character:
“Archie’s dilemma is coping with a world that is changing in front of him.  He doesn’t know what to do, except to lose his temper, mouth his poisons, look elsewhere to fix the blame for his own discomfort.  He isn’t a totally evil man.  He’s shrewd.  But he won’t get to the root of his problem, because the root of his problem is himself, and he doesn’t know it.  That is the dilemma of Archie Bunker.”
 

wow.  why does THAT sound so familiar?

oh, did i say that aloud?

read DAVID’s thoughts this FLAWED WEDNESDAY

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eighth rest. broken wrists. waiting. [k.s. friday]

waiting eighth rest

“the waiting place….for people just waiting. 

waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a yes or no or waiting for their hair to grow.  everyone is just waiting.  waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle jake or a pot to boil, or a better break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or another chance.  everyone is just waiting.

somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying.  you’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing.  with banner flip-flapping once more you’ll ride high!  ready for anything under the sky.  ready because you’re that kind of a guy! 

oh, the places you’ll go!”

(dr. seuss)

an eighth rest.  these two broken wrists are down from a quarter rest to an eighth rest. and waiting.

we are all waiting.  for hours, days, weeks to go by.  for healing.  we are biding time.  on hold.  on eighth-rest-repeat.

eighth rest repeat

and in that vast biding of time we are maybe finding that some of the things we have busied ourselves with don’t count as much.  and some count more.  maybe our time of waiting will reveal to us that which is most important.  maybe it will be a time of needed rest.  a time of slowing down.  a time of subito tacet.  a time of honoring those who truly help us.  a time of quiet conversation, of learning new things, of disassembled notes gathering together from their places in the stars to form a new song.

we wait.  and we don’t know when the waiting will stop.  but oh, during this waiting, and after the stand-still-pause is over, oh, the places we will go.

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read DAVID’s thoughts this K.S. FRIDAY

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WAITING ©️ 2004 kerri sherwood

 

 

 

 


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1980. no balloons. [k.s. friday]

no balloons

1980.  it’s not often i have listened to this song since four decades ago when i recorded it.  i was a mere 20.  listening to it warbling now, in the way that only old cassettes can warble, has been a mixed bag:  this cassette master, with little studio experience, with reel-to-reel recording, with no auto-tune for my young nervous soprano-ish voice, with too-sweet flute lines and picked guitar, measures-too-long-instrumental-interlude; i am catapulted back.

it is shocking to hear the innocence.  it is shocking to hear the pain.  if my wednesday post this week was too much, i would hasten to add that this will be as well.  this is a song about stripping a young woman of choice, of what should be the blissful love of first intimacy, of no justice, of no opportunity to process.  it’s the story of sexual assault in the late 1970s.  it’s the story of sexual assault any time.  it changes everything.  every trajectory.  it’s my story.

NO BALLOONS is a song of the times.  especially for someone who listened to john denver, james taylor, carole king, joni mitchell, bread, loggins and messina, america, england dan & john ford coley, the carpenters – the A-team of verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-interlude-chorus.  simple melodies, simple instrumentation, simply written, simply sung.

i can’t believe i didn’t write it in the vein of led zeppelin or kiss.  it should have been a screaming heavy metal song, full of pointed weapons of anguish, of power-stripped anger.  instead, it sounds like a sweet love-gone-bad song, “you take away my hopes, my dreams, you give me no balloons to fly.”  only it’s not.  it’s about no air.  no breath.

“and now with my eyes closed, i no longer see the pain in yours or feel it in mine…”  and that was a product of the times as well.  i closed my eyes and silenced my voice.  i stopped feeling it.  or did i?  “and i cried as long as the rain lasted and when it stopped i stopped.” was it really that simple?

until this week i really never thought i would share this song again.  after all, the song is 40 years old; i’m an alto, perched firmly on the tenor shore.  but somehow, between the #MeToo movement and the swirling-around-us-in-the-world-contention and public court battles in recent media and the lack of regard for those who truly need help or healing and my aunt’s texted article and the weeping inside of my younger-self and my silenced-silence, it felt like it was time to be vulnerable and candid and believe that our muddy-boots-narratives might make a difference for someone else.

we each have a story, a timeline, an arc that takes us through this life.  things we want to remember in detail, things we desperately want to forget.  things we have lived boisterously out loud, things we have lived in despairing silence.  the tapestry that holds all these threads together is the soul of our experience, the way we can hear others and truly listen, the empathy we can employ in a world that seems to cite MeFirst instead of UsTogether.

i wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone.  i’m pretty sure that every day since those-dark-days-in-the-late-70s i have both been affected and have effected because of them.  i have made choices and non-choices, taken action and had reflexive reaction.  i have searched for answers.

but i also know that my heart was blown open.  i am not standing on a different rung of the ladder, too high up to understand or remember, too discurious to ask, too blinded to see, too discriminating or apathetic to care.

i am next to anyone who needs me to listen, really listen.  i am next to anyone who needs me to jump and catch their balloons before they have flown too far to reach.

 

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NO BALLOONS ©️ 1980 kerri sherwood

 

 


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quarter rest. and the beat goes on. [k.s. friday]

quarter rest

quarter rest.  one beat of silence.

with these broken wrists i have moved from a whole rest to a quarter rest.  i have made progress playing my piano and my broken-wrists have told me when to be silent.  in the silence the earth keeps spinning, we trek around the sun, everything keeps keeping on.  but for a moment, i rest.

we are each granted rests upon entrance into this orchestra-of-earth.  sometimes they are chosen, sometimes they are not.  always they are necessary.  it is in your quiet that others make noise, that others speak, that other timbres color the muted.  the hush is yours to own; the rest is yours to take.  the silence both sometimes frighteningly deafening and sometimes a grand relief.  the metronome really never stops.

(a reprise of paragraphs from 8.13.2015 post): at 1am, we walked to the lakefront. away from as many lights as we could get away from, we laid on some old steps, bricks and mortar digging into our backs so that we could gaze straight up, watching the night sky for the meteor shower.

the streaks of white light across navyblueblack make us draw in our breath. i’m wondering how far away this meteor is…how it is that we, here on earth, can see this amazing sight. such a big sky. such tiny bodies in contrast lying on the ground, waiting for the symphony to start, waiting for the downbeat, the symphony that has been continuously playing, the downbeat lost in centuries upon centuries of time gone by. like any good piece of music, it’s the rests in-between the notes, the rests in-between the meteorstreaks, that build the anticipation, that create the emotionflow, that bring tears to your eyes. each burst, each streak of whitelight is a miracle, a tiny moment exploding in time, so far away, in vast vastness.

time stretches out in front of us. and behind us. we are tiny and we are big. we gather in the moments, we breathe them, we rejoice, we worry, we ponder, we move. there is no downbeat and the symphony is already playing, has been playing and will continue to play. always. it is magical. and it is vast.

and the beat goes on.

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TRANSIENCE from RIGHT NOW ©️ 2010 kerri sherwood

 

 

 


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zag. [not-so-flawed wednesday]

in the woods

we bought snowpants.  on sale for only $7 they are a wise investment for two people who hike year-round out in the woods or wherever we are.  it’s a big deal for us to buy anything new so, this time, instead of looking at them every day and saving them for good (ala beaky)  we celebrated our good deal by putting them on, going out in the snowy woods and hiking.

we were pretty much silent.  you could hear snow falling from the trees and the crunching of our boots on the trail.  but we didn’t talk much.  with so many things to talk to about and the woods being our best meeting room it was unusual.  but sometimes, it is silence that is most needed.

our path, like this stream, has zigged and zagged.  it has brought us past jagged rocky times and through sweet gentle lapping pools.  it has been lit by warm sun and darkened by the deep worry of late night.

but one thing is always consistent in the inconsistency of life.  no matter how we arrive in the woods, no matter the angst we bring.  arm in arm, because it is our habit, we walk through the woods.  arm in arm on the trail we silently hike toward quieting our hearts and minds.  under trees older than our troubles, arm in arm walking reaches past even anger-inspired words, things spoken in frustration.  arm in arm we remember all that is good, all that is certain.  the day’s hurdles and fears and unease fade as the sun sets.  and we zag.

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

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