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.

Wow!

 

 

So yesterday I was driving to Santa Barbara and the sunset was so spectacular, I actually proclaimed – out loud – “Cheese and Macaroni!” Seriously – it was one of the most amazing sunsets I’ve ever witnessed. And it kept getting more and more dazzling, right up until the sun dipped beyond the Pacific Ocean.

 

Unfortunately, I was unable to capture the true magnificence of that sunset, as I was traveling alone. It is mighty hard to capture a great photo while also operating a vehicle. Go figure.

 

Still – that sunset was top-notch. The best sunset our dirty air can buy.

One Year Ago…

 

 

 

One year ago today, Mister and I attended a beautiful wedding in Santa Barbara, California. As I sit here remembering, a few highlights keep replaying in my mind.

 

I loved the beautiful location. The Sunken Gardens of the historic Santa Barbara Courthouse were green and vibrant. The white chairs, set against the manicured lawn, were inviting and welcoming.

 

I loved the groom. To see him cry as the bride made her first appearance was one of the most romantic moments I’ve had the pleasure to eavesdrop.

 

I loved the bride. She is someone I adore beyond words, and someone I am privileged to know. She is blessed with more light than most of us, and on that day, her beauty was amplified to the point of taking my breath away.

 

I loved their story. I loved that they had fallen in love, as teenagers do, then drifted apart, as teenagers do. I loved that they had each traveled the globe, experienced life’s highs and lows, and then somehow managed to cross paths – again. And – this is my favorite part – I love, love, love how they embraced their feelings for one another, regardless of practicalities, realities, challenges or anything else that posed a hurdle. They looked at all that, and simply jumped.

 

I loved a lot of other things about that day and evening, but I want to close this list by saying I loved that I was invited.

 

Friends, just because we know someone doesn’t mean we are automatically included in every little thing that person does. Even our nearest and dearest don’t have an obligation to invite us to each and every event in their lives. And it isn’t personal! When we’re not invited to something, it isn’t to slight us. It is probably because the focus is instead on the others who are being pulled together for that dinner party/night out/birthday/solstice/whatever celebration. Seriously! Not everything in the Universe is about us! Our true friends have zero point zero ill intent toward us. And that is why they are our friends. Now, I once had a friend who for weeks discussed every aspect of her house-warming party with me. She went over her guest list. She talked about the menu, the flowers, the timing of the event. Then, when it came down to it, she did not invite me to the party. I was quiet as long as I could be, but a short while after the shindig I told her my feelings had been hurt. She said that she didn’t invite me because I was her friend and she didn’t want to share me with anyone at her party. Clearly, that is an example of someone not having the best intent where a friendship is concerned. And that is also one reason that person is a former friend. But I digress.

 

In my journal, a piece of card-stock is inserted to mark the page on which I last wrote. One side of the card-stock is blank. On the other is the gorgeous wedding invitation for that stunning day’s commitment one year ago. It is truly a beautiful invitation, crafted in grays and yellows. Each time I open my journal, I am reminded of those two souls and how they found each other. I see the bride looking over her shoulder, as if she is fondly thanking all that came before, even as she takes the hand of the groom beside her, and they ready themselves to leap…

Autumn Wedding

 

 

 

A while back, I wrote about a friend’s love story. I referenced her tale and its effect on me. I called the post “True Love” because there was no better title.

 

This past weekend, I was blessed to attend her wedding in Santa Barbara, California. And it could not have been more lovely.

 

As we all sat in the Sunken Gardens of the Santa Barbara Courthouse, a string quartet began to play. And that’s when I saw the groom for the first time. After the attendants made their way to their appointed places, the bride walked out onto the grass.

 

I couldn’t see her over the other guests, as I’m not a giant. But the groom saw her, and I saw him. And friends, he began to cry as soon as he laid eyes on her. Then Mister saw her and quietly said, “No way!” I stood on tippy-toe and finally caught sight of my friend – the bride – for the first time that day.

 

 

I cannot tell you how utterly beautiful she was. Regal. Elegant. She was such a lady and she actually took my breath away. I totally got the groom’s tears. And as she looked at him, the bride cried as well.

 

The ceremony was so sophisticated and touching. And when the vows were complete and the two were married, we all walked a few short blocks to the reception location. We dined and we laughed. We danced and we cried. The occasion was centered on love and I honestly believe those feelings emanated from the bride and groom. Their love for one another is so deeply rooted and so gracious, we all couldn’t help but share in it. I am still amazed to have been a part of it all, if only as a witness.

 

 

Since the wedding, I’ve been thinking a lot about True Love. Does it come with guarantees? No. Does it insure happiness? No. But friends, True Love is about the mightiest tool we can have in our kits as we make our way in this world. No, True Love does not provide immunity from life’s valleys. But knowing just how grand the peaks can be in the light of True Love, we are far better-equipped in handling life’s lows.

 

I, for one, am grateful for having seen it in person. And I am even more blessed to look across the room and see it in my own life. I wish nothing less for my friend in her marriage, in her life.

 

I wish nothing less for us all. Amen.