Thursday Memories

 

 

A couple of days ago I mentioned I’d be seeing my dear friend, Kate Graves. And I did. The photo shown above is from the summer I first met Kate, along with her sister, Sarah Sample. It was – gulp – a whole decade ago.

 

 

Kate lives in Santa Barbara now, and she took the train down for an art outing this week. We went to Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) to see the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit. When I told Mister where Kate and I were going, he asked if we’d see a photo with a whip coming out of a butt. And yes – we did. But we saw so much more. Mapplethorpe’s work is so gorgeous, I found myself crying a couple of times. I was overcome with what he managed to capture in his subjects. Their honesty and beauty was on full display. So were a lot of body parts, and I guess that’s what people tend to think of most when Mapplethorpe comes to mind. But my god! The man was a tremendous talent and I strongly encourage anyone near L.A. to visit this exhibit before it closes on July 31st.

 

 

After we’d absorbed the Mapplethorpe works, we walked outside to see Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass. We were still discussing the Mapplethorpe works, but we were also laughing about life and earthquakes. Honestly – if you can’t laugh, what can you do?

 

 

After a too-short day together, during which I about talked her ear off, I drove Kate to the train station and bid her farewell. Our art outing had been lovely. Our time together had been dear. It’s funny how life can lead two paths to cross. Lucky for me, my path crossed that of Kate Graves. I am all the better for knowing her.

 

Yippee!

 

 

Today I get to see my dear friend, Kate. And I’m so friggin’ excited!

 

Kate is one of those souls who somehow ended up in my universe, and for the life of me, I’m not sure how. Yes – I can recount logistics and such. But the circumstances of our meeting don’t explain how I continue to know her. I just do. And I’m so lucky for that.

 

If you have a friend you adore, a friend whose orbit occasionally passes close enough to your own to allow contact, well, I hope you take advantage of those times. They may be rare, but they sure are sweet.

I Buy Flowers

 

 

Many weeks ago, I bought flowers for the rumpus room mantle. Since then, I’ve continued. And I like it.

 

There’s something stirring about fresh flowers in a home. Maybe it’s the sheer beauty. Maybe it’s the presence of nature. Whatever it is, I am taken by it and now accept flower-buying as part of my budget. That’s a big deal for me, y’all! I’m frugal times ten. But I’ve decided it’s worth it. Not for the lovely factor, but for the soul factor.

 

Yesterday at the grocery store, while doing the weekly shopping and choosing which colorful stems to bring home, I discovered another benefit. Before I knew it, I was singing “Flowers” by my friend Kate Graves. And though I mostly remembered the tune only, I did remember a few words from the chorus: I buy flowers – every day. So not only did I bring home flowers, I got to smile and think of a dear friend. I’d say that’s a pretty sweet day at the market.

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.

True Love

 

 

I recently heard from a dear friend – someone I adore – and she shared a love story written on her blog. Her name is Kate Graves and I love her music. I love her voice. I love her. And now I love this story.

 

Trust me – you need to read this. It will strengthen your faith in True Love. It certainly strengthened mine.