A Good Day

 

 

Sometimes a good day happens. Maybe we know it’s coming. There may be an event on a calendar, some predicted fanfare. Maybe a celebration is due. On those occasions, the foreknowledge does nothing to lessen the day’s being special. Perhaps, instead, it amplifies the joy or appreciation. Those times are lovely. Just grand, really.

 

But we don’t always know a good day is coming. In fact, we may think anything but good is slated. Maybe we’ve got work commitments. Maybe family or friends need our time and attention. We may not look forward to a particular day, as foreknowledge of responsibilities can often be a drag. And if one’s expectations are for a bad time, it is entirely possible for a day to live down to one’s brain-hole’s lowly vision. That’s not just a mouthful of words; it’s a bummer.

 

The other day, I had a meeting to get to and while I had committed myself to the time and energy, when it rolled around on the calendar, I wanted to work on some paintings instead. But given my word, I had, and so I went. The meeting was just fine (which it was always bound to be, given the attendees), and my time there was well-spent. After the meeting, one of my very favorite people asked if I was open to going out for lunch. I was. Then she suggested we invite another fab-o person. We did, and she said yes. So off we went. We talked and laughed and got deep and agreed that, given enough time, the three of us could solve the world’s problems. Not once did we look at our phones. Not once did our attention leave what was going on at that table. It was honest-to-goodness human connection, and it was swell.

 

After leaving my friends, I went to a new seafood shop and got some fish for supper. The place is super-cool and the guy who helped me was not only nice, but also knowledgeable. (I kind of want that from a monger, as I don’t know squat about the world of fish.) When he asked what I was making, I told him: ceviche. He told me a little about his recipe, and as he listed ingredients, I realized I had completely forgotten to add a hint of sugar to my own mental recipe. I thanked him kindly and headed home.

 

Once there, I set about making the ceviche and put it in the fridge to “cook.” Mister had been working from home that day, and when he gave me the signal that he was knocking off for the day, I mixed us a couple of drinks and we toasted. What did we toast? Nothing really. Everything. We were happy we got to spend the evening together and that we had some good food to share. I brought out the ceviche and some tortilla chips and we dug in. Best I’ve ever made.

 

Then we watched a movie, Maudie. I loved it so much and was so glad I saw it. I was so glad Mister had selected it. It reminded me of my great-grandmother and an old “Soap Sally” mask she had sewn – a superb piece of folk art. I told Mister that if I could have anything from Granny Vera, it would be that mask. As I only have memories, I cried a little, then wondered if I was crying for Granny or Maudie. I decided it didn’t really matter. We got ready for bed and turned out the lights.

 

As I was falling asleep, my slightly drunk mind looked back over the day. It had come without fanfare. Without celebration. There had been some work and some fun. Some socializing and some responsibility. I hadn’t foreseen its value, but it was indeed worthy. It had been a good day, and I knew it. I drifted off, thinking of how lovely life can be. Truly.

The Bushwick Book Club of Santa Barbara County

 

 

Late last year, a wonderful friend contacted me and asked if I’d like to take part in her book club’s project: read John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and write a song or two inspired by the book. My first thought was – I haven’t read East of Eden. Next, I thought about how – for a variety of reasons – I hadn’t performed in front of real people for quite a while. I ruminated and I ruminated and finally I sat down to respond to my friend’s query…

 

“…The truth is I like your idea / challenge, and the fact that it makes me uncomfortable to think about it

seems like a good reason to sign up.

Maybe. So yes. Put me down as part of The Mission.

I think. Yes. Yes. I’m in.

Am I?…”

 

And with a hit of the send button, I committed.

 

 

At first, as I read I flagged the bo0k with post-its, thinking I’d come back to an inspiring word/phrase/section and attempt to compose a song at a later time. But after a while, I remembered that when the bug hits, that’s the time to scratch it. So I allowed myself to be in the moment and wrote when the light-bulb flashed.

 

Once I’d written the song, I knew I needed to practice. Like I said, I hadn’t performed for quite a while and I didn’t want that to hold me back in my delivery. So I began working to memorize my song (thank you, Franz Liszt for forcing us all to do that) and to tweak my presentation. I knew this wasn’t a grand showcase or anything, but preparation is key. And I wanted to do well. For my friend and for myself. I suppose I also wanted to do well for “Charles” – the character that inspired my song. (It never occurred to me to want to do well for Mr. Steinbeck. Oops.)

 

 

So last week I drove myself to Santa Barbara to get my Steinbeck on, along with several other songwriters. The event was held at The Guitar Bar in downtown Santa Barbara and that joint is gi-gorgeous. Seriously. A few folks referred to it as “guitar porn” and I agreed. The shop’s owner, Jamie, was such an amiable guy and his generosity in allowing the Bushwick Book Club to stage its meetings there is fairly grand. His place is comfortable and welcoming. I strongly encourage music lovers and players to stop in his store, next time you’re in Santa Barbara.

 

 

Anyhoo, back to the show. It was truly fascinating to hear how other folks were affected by the book. Some were drawn to the same language. Some were drawn to the same characters or plot lines. And as songwriters, no two of us were the same. My brilliant friend, Kate Graves, performed a lovely song that was as sweet as it was heartbreaking…

 

 

I hadn’t seen Tom Prasada Rao for a few years and it was good to catch up with him. He was inspired to write 2 songs and I loved them both. But that first one – wow. I told him I want need a recording of it and I wasn’t lying…

 

 

When my spot in the line-up rolled around, I took the stage and va-va-voomed my way through my tune…

 

 

And then it was over. The good people attending the meeting made their way out of The Guitar Bar toward home and we musicians packed up our gear. Jamie and his crew began putting the shop back in order and good-byes were made. I hit the road for my drive back to Los Angeles and left Santa Barbara in the rearview.

 

 

When I think of how easy it would have been to simply not respond to my friend’s invitation to participate, I have to shake my head. Saying Yes to something that made me uncomfortable was a good idea. And I’m glad I did it. Giving my word and agreeing to perform were very real commitments to me. Putting in the time and rehearsing were also commitments. I was forced (by myself) to actually show the hell up. And I did.

 

I’d like to embrace this year with that attitude of Yes that got me through the first presentation of The Bushwick Book Club of Santa Barbara County. I’d like to have a little more faith in myself. I’d like to grab hold of opportunities to see the people I adore most in this world (I’m talking about you, Kate Graves). I’d like to own being Me.

 

 

Here’s to grasping our lives. Here’s to facing fears. Here’s to You and Me.

Monday, Monday

 

 

There have been times in my life when any given Monday was my least favorite day of the week. Coming down off the weekend was depressing and the energy-drop felt like an inescapable dark cloud.

 

But that was then. These days, I relish an ordinary Monday. Take this past weekend, for example. Concert on Friday. Gallery opening on Saturday. Afternoon chick party and evening Beer Clug on Sunday. Yow-za! And please know this: all these things were awesome, in and of themselves. It just added up to a lot of commitments and doing.

 

Maybe it’s age. Honestly, I don’t care what the reason may be. I just know I appreciate the quiet predictability of Mondays. The chores, the tasks, all of it. Beautiful!

 

Here’s to Mondays, y’all!