Gratitude List 1804

(1) After an unusually stressful day yesterday, I came home and decided to shelter in place till Thursday. It seems a nice time to read & reflect, maybe write a little, listen to music, play the piano — and only go out for exercise. It’s interesting that it feels like I’m “on vacation” in my own place of residence! Grateful for the solitude; grateful for the leisure.

(2) On a similar note, I’m grateful for Zoom meetings.   I only have two Zoom commitments in the next three days, but neither of these people could care less if I showed up in my bathrobe.  Grateful not to have to go through a totally stressful process in order to arrive somewhere on time.  I really don’t miss searching for my keys, my wallet, my glasses, my mask, my iPhone, and whatever else I need, putting down one thing unconsciously somewhere while picking up the other, and worrying all the time that I’m going to be twenty minutes late because of it.   With Zoom, a cup of coffee, and a couple clicks of a mouse, we’re rollin.’

(3) Grateful for running and for the role it has played throughout my life.   Did two miles yesterday charging up the hill and feeling quite chipper.

(4) Although I lost the beanie I have worn every day for nearly four years now, and although it is nowhere to be found, and although it felt really strange to go through two church services and a Choir rehearsal in my fedora, I am very grateful to have run into a certain Math professor who, feeling my plight, responded by gifting me with his beanie.   Grateful for this wonderful little college town and all the nice people whom I have met here.

(5) Speaking of loss, I may have overreacted recently in interpreting a certain person’s professional declining to complete a project “at this time” as a “loss.”  Something in the wording sounded like they never wanted to see me again.   Later, I found that I was reading too much into their words — due to my own abandonment issues.   Anything is possible.   Though this particular project has been suspended, there may be a project in the foreseeable future wherein they & I just happen to come together again.   And that may be sooner than we think.

It is nice to be valued.   But it’s even nicer to value someone.   I’m very grateful for the beautiful artistic experience that this very impressive person has brought to my life.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.”

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Piano Update — “Get Together”

I made it over to the Baldwin Grand yesterday and played a version of the song “Get Together” by Dino Valenti.  You may know it.   It’s a 60’s tune popularized by the Youngbloods.  It has lyrics such as these:

Come on people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love on another
Right now!

Certainly a fitting theme for the present day.   To look at social media posts, one would think we’re all intent on doing the exact opposite — and hating one another.   

I myself found myself in a PTSD flashback for the first time in several months yesterday.    As the details were amplified, I found myself hating an entire social group, to which many of my friends belong.   This amounts to nothing more than stigma and prejudice, which I decry.   So while it hurts my heart to have found myself entertaining stigmatic perceptions that I abhor, it does evidence the fact that we are all human.  We are all — as the song goes — “but a moment’s sunlight fading in the grass.”

Interesting that in this account of the song’s history, those lyrics are referenced as “Zen-like.”  Perhaps so, but it’s sad that these are direct allusions to Christian views of the human condition that were widespread back in those days, and associated with what used to be known as “Christian Love.”

As we all know, Christianity these days is less associated in the common populace with love, and more associated with judgment.   Maybe the tides need to turn, yet again.   

Anyway I have to take care of some personal needs and I’ll have the song uploaded later on this afternoon.   Thanks for listening.  

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Gratitude List 1803

(1) This is the year that my best friend and I reconciled after not talking with each other for eight years.

(2) This is the year when I finally realized that the Latah Recovery Center is a very positive place for me to be.

(3) As of the beginning of this month, I have paid my rent on time for four years, in an ideal one bedroom apartment in an out-of-the-way location. For the first time in many years — 22 to be exact — I have had my own place and my own space.

(4) Last year and this year, I have had the opportunity to use skills that I have missed using, and I have been surrounded by a group of young people who admire me for those skills — and more. A church also let me use their rehearsal space and piano free of charge for this project, and continue to allow me to play an outstanding Baldwin GP-190 concert grand most every Friday to make my YouTubes.

(5) This year I got a job playing piano at a small church. Not only that, but my local reputation was good enough that they hired me over the phone without asking for references. I’m about to fulfill my 9th week there and get my second month paycheck.

(6) Thanks to a guy named Cody, I have seen two live musicals and now an amazing musical movie — Les Miserables — in the past month.

(7) This is the year when enough people believed in a certain project of mine that they collectively donated $1500 in an 11 day period in order to help me finance a summer workshop.

(8) I have a wonderful 36 year old daughter with whom I am forming a meaningful lifelong friendship.

(9) For 14 years now, I have had an intelligent, compassionate Christian friend named Danielle, and I don’t know where I would be without her.

(10) Somebody gave me a great coffeemaker when I needed one. With it I have made the current cup of coffee with which I am revving up to do the four mile run I have done every Thursday since 1976 except for the three years when I was fat and a handful of other scattered odd years. And God gave me perfect running weather on this day. Makes me wonder who much I can possibly give Him in return. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Gratitude List 1802

(1) Z’s singing lesson went well again & we also had a great conversation. I felt this rush of gratitude as soon as I started playing my standard vocal warm-ups. This is especially heartwarming considering that five or six years ago, I was fairly convinced I would never be able to use those skills again.

(2) Heard from Keva whose show has closed now so we can get back to the album. For those of you have already bought it, we may be doing touch-ups on a couple of the earlier five tunes, as we gradually put the next five together. Grateful for Keva’s professionalism.

(3) Thankful for my gig at the nursing home, where I met a really interesting pastor / long distance runner who just agreed to have lunch with me next week.

(4) Check it out: Over 4500 views on “An Affair to Remember.” I even got a couple of downvotes! I must be moving up in the world. :)

(5) Shivering last night, I grabbed a second blanket and suddenly felt the same gratitude I used to feel when I needed another blanket when I was shivering outdoors. I always said “Thank you Lord” as soon as the second blanket made the shivers stop — and I said those words last night as well. Nothing like feeling God’s got you covered! (Let that sink in.)

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The ol’ bones are movin’ a bit slow this morning. Rainin’ cats & dogs too. Okay so what am I excusing myself over? Well – I missed it last week & really want to get down to the grand piano and do a version of “All You Need is Love.”

Give me a little time to figure out a way down to the church. In the meantime you can read these thoughts I jotted down in my personal journal last night before bedtime.

Rent at Eastern

Being as I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve stepped away from the Palouse Empire in five years, it sure felt nice to get out of town for the evening. Just got back.

We were running a little late and got there just as the show was starting. They weren’t reserved seats — it was self-seating after proof of purchase. The only two seats left together were in the front row right by the (stage right) orchestra.

Quick rundown. Production was great, artistic direction was great, most actors were very good, vocal direction outstanding. Neither Cody nor I had ever seen the show before. He was displeased on the basis of perceiving the show to lack a solid plot line or sympathetic characters (the latter of which is debatable. Lack of a solid plot line may have been intentional, but the “wrapped up” ending makes me wish [a certain company] had gone ahead and produced The Burden of Eden, because one of the three reasons why they said they didn’t was because the ending was ‘wrapped up.’ Maybe I should have pointed out their hypocrisy when they produced RENT – but you know, I’m a nobody. It would have been like pointing out the “hypocrisy” of — (edit: TMI).

I didn’t like the first Act music very much. Also, this modern treatment of musical theatre, making it somewhat more like an opera (with limited spoken dialogue and lots of sung dialogue), is something it always takes me a while to get used to. It wasn’t till Act 2 that I could really appreciate the flow of it (and as Cody pointed out, the music in Act 2 seemed better too.) Once I got adjusted to it, it got better and became more appreciable.

I see how several musicals I’ve seen in recent years have followed this pattern: Sideshow was like that, and Sunset Blvd, and now Rent. It does make my work appear to be very old-fashioned, at least in structure, if not in content.

Cast was full of very strong singers, everyone with an individual body mike. Two of these singers were exceptional, those being Keva and the woman opposite her, whose name I don’t recall. Strong black woman, super voice, hit a high C & did not screech.

I turned to Cody and whispered: “Judge Jimson, Eden in Babylon.” We talked about it after the show and he concurred.

Cody commented that Keva’s performance was all-round the best performance of the show, though he copped to being biased.

I replied that even if I hadn’t have been biased, I’d have dubbed her the best performance. She was phenomenal. Singing-wise I heard some notes and turns of phrase that, in my experience, only Keva Shull can pull off effectively. And that Acting is nothing to shake a stick at. Keva’s primary artistic identification is “Musician” but the subtlety of her Acting skills is something she may not have fully recognized. I just wish we could somehow get EIB up in time for Kev to actually be Taura before she becomes too old to play a female character who is specifically written to be 18 years old exactly.

I’m trying to remember if there was ever a time in my life, maybe on one of my better MD gigs, when there were enough great singers to choose from, whenever I had some kind of musical project going on. I don’t think so – maybe back in the 80’s when I was MD of UC Davis Student Musical Theatre — yeah it seems I wasn’t hurting for female voices back then. But it also seems to me that this time in life is unique.

Maybe EIB being “different” – and this era being different — the production of it will be mounted from a radically different approach. Something tells me that’s the best bet. I just have to really reflect on how to go about it, and how to keep people on board.

Or maybe there will a magic moment when Kelsey or somebody finds a theatre in Portland or somewhere that she just happens to describe the show to, and they just happen to be interested — and a bunch of other things just “happen.”

God can make it all happen, if He wants to. I just have to seek Him. He can do it, where I can’t.

Space was pretty cool, we were up close of course, but it was proscenium and pretty cozy. I do love the way that “Seasons of Love” figures throughout Act Two.

About the five remaining songs for the album, I agreed with Keva just to leave her with the four of them and let her choose the fifth when we wax, which now looks like Winter break. We’re going to try and see Cody in Jane Eyre at that time.

Had a lot of weird new thoughts about myself and all the strange little things I keep doing wrong, or doing period — stuff I just need to chuck. Somehow it comes clear to me during a rare trip out of town, and somehow it becomes vague again as soon as I get behind my computer.

Well – it was a beautiful night. I’ll probably be back in the morning.

10:27 p.m. – 2021-11-18

Gratitude List 1801

(1) We’ve been getting a lot of good rain lately.

(2) Definitely been living a bit more comfortably this month, having the additional income from the church.

(3) Though Kurt and I only had a half hour to meet yesterday on Zoom, it was a strong meeting, and I felt enthused afterwards.  Mostly talked about the introduction and first chapter of Ashley Peterson’s new book, A Brief History of Stigma.  (He hadn’t read it, but I had.)  I related mainly how stigma is employed by dominant class groups and also how it is produced through the social construction of reality.  I’d thought such things before but had not seen them presented in such a scholarly way until now.  Kurt was able to enlighten me somewhat as to why that might be.

(4) I’ve been decidedly spending much more time outdoors than usual–despite changes in the weather (or in a way, because of them.)  If it’s not raining, I better just get out there and experience it.  It’s a great antidote to the gnawing sense of stagnation that often strikes after spending too much time in the house alone.

(5) Cody & I got tickets for this Thursday night to go see Keva in Rent at Eastern Washington University.  This will be a nice change-of-pace, involving a trip out of town (out of State, technically) – and a nice reconnection–not to mention she’s going to be great on those Idina Menzel tunes.  It will be great to see her.

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Gratitude List 1800

(1) I created a new piano album called Hyfrydol (after the Welsh hymn that is included on the album).  My friend Kathy designed the cover, and sales of CDs have been going very well locally.

(2) Received a first paycheck for a month of work at the new church, and my student paid me in cash for two months of lessons last Saturday.  So I’m enjoying a distinctly increased income this month (though at the same time, I’m trying to forget about it, so I don’t fall into the trap of thinking I’m “rich.”)

(3) I finished four of the five new songs for Keva and have sent them to her, piano practice takes — lyric sheets, lead sheets, etc.  Don’t expect to hear from her very soon (as her show is opening on November 17th), but I also have been enjoying getting the tunes out to various instrumentalists and back-up-singer types who may be interested.

(4) Found a complete Hal Leonard “Essential Songs of Broadway” book with piano-vocal arrangements of over 85 classic show tunes.  This will be good to keep around in general, and to work with Zazen in particular.

(5) Good meeting with Kurt yesterday, though I sent him a misleading email capsulizing my new theory, and was not able to complete some essential thoughts during the course of being questioned about it.   This is inspiring an exhaustive email that may later morph into a blog post, column, or bigger.  I do enjoy writing on certain themes, and I am thankful for the leisure I’ve been granted to exercise these gifts.

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