Me and the Sarge Are Fifty!

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

-Mary Oliver, “Blackwater Woods”

On June 2, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band turned fifty, and so did I. I’m not sure who made a bigger deal out of this anniversary, me or Apple Records, but a splendid time was had by all, so that’s good. My parents flew up from Virginia, and all four of my beloved aunts came to my gathering over the weekend. Tom got me tickets to see Sir Paul McCartney––a huge bucket list item, as I have never seen a Beatle perform live. Paul’s about to turn 75, just like my dad. No time to lose.

 

The other big present is a trip to London in July, which will include a side jog to Liverpool, where we hope to do some of the Magical History Tour or at least see the Beatles Museum. Katryna got me the fabulous new box set of Sgt. Pepper, and I have been listening to all the podcasts on Fresh Air (which I highly recommend!) Also, I learned “A Day in the Life” on piano. I made my musician friends play it with me on Saturday night, with Lila doing the entire orchestra part on her violin. Ben Demerath shook his head in wonder as the final E chord rang out, and he turned to my father and said, “Man! What did you THINK the first time you heard that ending?” And my father said, “Well…that was the first time I heard that ending. And I’m still trying to figure out what I think about it.”

I’m still trying to figure out what I think about turning 50. On the one hand, it’s no different from 49, or really 48. On the other, the actual number, especially when people write on birthday cards, “Welcome to your second half-century!” and such, freaks me out a bit. Me, 50? How did that happen? I got my passport photo taken at the CVS for our Britain trip, and I thought the woman in the tiny square they handed me looked like a “before” for a plastic surgery ad. There must be some mistake.

Who is this little old lady?

There also must be some mistake with the world. On the night of my birthday, someone mowed down a crowd on London Bridge–this just a few weeks after the Manchester bombing. Besides the now too-familiar grief for the lives lost, there’s a new, practical thought: Why am I taking my precious family abroad right now? What am I thinking? Can we even begin to enjoy ourselves in Europe (or anywhere) in this climate of fear and violence? Not to mention, will we have to disguise ourselves as Canadians, or make pins that say “I Was With Her; Don’t Blame Me”?

And yet, I have three beloveds right now who have been diagnosed with terminal cancer. They are each living vigorously, snatching all they can out of life, understanding clearly that now’s the time to live. One of them is driving all the way across the country  to see the full eclipse in a desert to make sure clouds don’t cover their once-in-a-lifetime chance. They are teaching the rest of us well.

My son has quit the violin, finally and for good. He hasn’t played since February, and even though I bought him an old beater violin to busk with, he hands it back to me, shaking his head, and said on Monday, “Sorry, Mom. I just don’t like music.”

“That’s like saying you don’t like nature!” I screamed, and then I promptly burst into tears and said out loud the biggest fear I have been harboring for the past five years: “It’s my fault! It’s because I pushed you so hard! It’s because I am a Suzuki mom from Hell! I have ruined everything!” And I wailed, tears gushing from my eyes. I was driving. It was raining. It was really bad, not to mention dangerous. Both my kids tried to comfort me. Johnny said, “Cheer up, Mom. I’ll still sing in your chorus. I have to. All my friends are in it.” Lila said, “Yeah, Mom. Kids go through phases. And Johnny will have to choose an instrument anyway when he’s in Middle School Band.”
“Yeah,” agreed Johnny. “Maybe I’ll like music a little.”

I was part of a women’s circle recently where we discussed the role of ambition in our lives. We defined the word broadly: as in “what do you want your life to be versus where is the River guiding you?” The original Latin means “to go around” and usually in the context of “going around courting votes.” The English word had a pejorative connotation for most of its history; it’s only in recent times that we’ve seen it used more positively, nodding with approval as we say about our daughters, “She’s very ambitious.” I wondered aloud what the difference is between ambition and desire. Desire for something is certainly informs my ambition. These cravings in my soul, I have discovered in my half-century, need to be listened to. They don’t necessarily need to be indulged, but it’s always important for me to give them a fair hearing. Is it desire or ambition that pulls me to bring my family to England this July? I long for it. I longed to know the Beatles when I was nine and first heard them, and so I made a study of their music. That music still enchants and fascinates me, 41 years later. Ambition feels different; like too much strong coffee. It’s me exerting my will, going against the river. Desire is the river. The trick is to figure out how to align your inner desire to where the river is taking you.

On the way to my Nields rehearsal last night, Johnny said, “Can we listen to the Beatles?” and I programmed my phone to play a non-chronological mix, as we are both kind of sick of Pepper, which had been our car soundtrack for all of May. The algorithm chose “Ask Me Why,” “It’s Only a Northern Song,” “I’m a Loser,””She Loves You,” and “In My Life.”  Johnny announced who wrote and sang each song, and he was always right. I explained to him how George Martin played the piano solo on “In My Life” and how they doubled its speed to get it to sound the way they wanted. When “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” came on, he said, “Do they know yet what John played on this?” (The last time he’d asked, I’d posted on Facebook, and we’d discovered that this is a controversial mystery. Some say 6-string bass. Some say organ. Some say he missed the sessions altogether.) “Do you really think he’s not on it?” John is his favorite, natch.

“I don’t know,” I said, “But let’s look it up when we get home.”

I feared this birthday for the last half of my forties. My grandmother was 52 when I was born, and she was OLD! I had wanted to be a singer since the age of 7, but even as a teenager, I thought I’d be a musician for a couple of decades max and then move on to some other profession. Probably minister, or professor, or writer, or caterer. By 50 I would be deep into some other career. Still, I play. The rehearsal was with the full band, and shows both duo and band are lined up for the next year. We talked about recording a new CD last night. What does it mean to be a geriatric rocker? Many things. My heroes have taught me you never have to stop. We get to make the rules on this one.

Paul and Ringo at the 2014 Grammys

 

We got home and Johnny settled in with Tom and Lila, who were watching Bend It Like Beckham. I climbed up to my attic studio and pulled down Mark Lewisohn’s wonderful volume  The Beatles Recording Sessions and studied it. It truly isn’t clear. The last take he was definitely on was actually lead guitar, but we all know Eric Clapton ended up taking the honors there. Still, it’s hard to imagine John sitting around doing nothing! The only clue I had was George’s offhand comment later that Eric’s presence in the studio had the effect of making them all behave and play better. Isn’t that what we strive to do for each other? I looked up at my son, cuddled on his father’s lap, moving his body back and forth to the rhythms of bhangra, and I said, “Looks like guitar. Just what we’d suspected. He’s on it after all.”

“I knew it,” Johnny said.

 

 

I Wanna Be a Woman Like Patti Smith

Tomorrow is the official Day Without Women.We are encouraged to wear red, to abstain from shopping and to tell our bosses to try to live without us. My bosses are my guitar students, writing students, and the characters in my novel, so I might slip some work in on the sly, though I have informed Tom that I plan on skipping all chores. I have a great red sweater and some red pants that will clash with it. And I already gave up shopping on Amazon for Lent, so I’m good there. I love this idea–this is my kind of protest. And it got me thinking about what it means to be a woman.

In 1997, I wrote a song called “Georgia O” about the artist Georgia O’Keeffe. The refrain goes, “I want to be a woman like you,” until the last chorus, when the singer changes it to “I want to be a woman like me.” This is my experience with women artists: we kindle each other. Maybe men do the same, but as I am not one, I can’t testify. I just know immersing myself in the work of other women musicians, artists and writers helps me to find myself.

I am reading Patti Smith’s wonderful memoir M Train, and I am using her as my latest model for I Wanna Be a Woman Like You.  She’s so authentic, so refreshingly cranky and real and surprisingly tender. I love her aesthetic, her polaroids, her passion for black coffee, which threads like a train through all of her chapters. The book was written many years after the death of her husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, but it as if he is still a very active presence in her life. She is an inspiring loner. She writes about finding her ramshackle house on Rockaway Beach just months before Hurricane Sandy decimated the area, though miraculously sparing her house. Every day this independent women walks across the street to Cafe ‘Ino to drink their coffee, eat their beans and bread (dipped in olive oil) and write, or think about writing. She has mastered the art of living. The cover of the book has an iconic photo of the author:

…which says it all. Here she is, completely herself. Real, sad, tired, beautiful. I want to be a woman like her. But mostly I work my ass off at being cheerful and helpful and positive, and instead I end up driving people crazy.

For example. Last Monday, Johnny quit violin. He has quit in the past, but there was something about this quitting that felt different. He’s older–almost nine. He knows himself better than he once did, and he is just beginning to question out loud whether his mother knows him at all. A friend of mine tells a story about his relationship with his mother, recounting a time when he’d cut off contact with her over a critical remark. His mother was always telling him that he should be a lawyer. At some point, he wanted to say to her, “Do you even know me?” But he didn’t say that. He just cut her off. This terrified me, and I had this story fresh in my head on the day J quit. So I let him. Usually, I try bribery, manipulation, or just plain force. NO, you can’t quit. Everyone in our family has to play an instrument!

So we had a quiet week. At first, I felt good about the severing. I was letting him have autonomy. I was seeing who he really was. Also, he was much more cheerful. I began to frame the whole Suzuki thing in its worst light. Rigid. Enslaved kids. Emotionless performers. Blah blah blah. But over the weekend, I went into a deep funk about the loss, and Johnny stopped being cheerful. I thought of the parents of the 18 year old girl who opened for us at Circle of Friends Coffeehouse four years ago. They said, “We told our daughter, ‘You don’t get to quit Math or English. You don’t get to quit music, either.'” I thought of my own lifelong regrets about quitting piano when I was thirteen. I thought about the sick feeling I always have when I quit anything. I thought about tough love, about the many times I wanted to throw in the towel on violin with either kid in the past. I thought about how good playing an instrument is for the brain. I thought about how every drop of structure can be used by an unstructured mind like my own, and my son’s (we are much more alike in terms of study skills and willpower than my uncannily organized daughter.)

Then my back seized up, as it seems to under certain mysterious circumstances, and I was a prisoner of some internal corset of steel. Am I just completely fused with my son? Probably. I gently hinted to J that he might reconsider. He looked right at me. “Mama, are you taking lessons with Maggie right now?”

Whoa. As a matter of fact, I am not. In early February, I heard back from my agent who had a huge list of suggested revisions. I resumed work on my novel, and tried to disengage from anything not critical to the operation of our home and businesses. And as a result, my soul is a little sick. When I don’t practice my instruments, this is what happens to me. A part of me dies, even as another part thrives. I think this is the price to be paid for not ever being able to make up my mind about whether I was a musician or a writer. My shoulders pay the price, as does my poor family.

Tom took me by said shoulders on Sunday night and looked at me seriously. “Listen. You won’t want to hear this. But you need to lay off him. He is going to play music again. But you have to wait. You can’t nag. It has to come from him, and not from you or any other authority figure.”

I nodded, tearfully. “If you love someone, set them free,” I sobbed, thinking of Sting’s annoyingly ungrammatical song. I wiped my eyes. “You need to be my sponsor on this. I will call or text if I get the urge to nag.” We shook solemnly. I wandered into the empty music room. I stared at our old Steinway, already out of tune (my piano tuner says it’s a goner and we need to find a new one). I sat down and played the piano accompaniment to a couple of Johnny’s Book 3 Suzuki pieces: a Bach Minuet and a Gavotte in G minor, a very sad song. I was terrible. But as I followed the music on the page, my hands came to life a bit. They began to remember what to do. As I labored, Johnny passed through the room, doing some cartwheels and jumping on the couch. He picked up his violin and said, “If I WERE to play a song, I wonder what I would play?” I did not respond, but kept my eye on the page of music.

The next morning, Johnny un-quit.  I can’t say I didn’t have anything to do with it. Perhaps I had him sit down with a piece of steno paper, the kind with a line down the middle, and told him to list the pros and cons of playing violin. I did maybe also slightly bribe him with a 100 day challenge (100 days of practice = $100 gift card to Target.). Would Patti Smith do this kind of thing? Uh, dude. No.

But so what. The older I get the more I think it’s about self acceptance, not self improvement. I am a bossy, controlling person. This is not completely a bad thing. I get stuff done. I show up. And I have a really stiff back, at times. And for the past two days, I have a son who practiced his violin. Parenthood is hard. We never know if we are saving our kids or killing them. We can only do what makes sense in the moment, and out of the soup we are in, this seems right. This Sunday, Johnny and Lila and I are going to the Suzuki Festival at the New England Conservatory of Music. We will see who and what my children find when they arrive. Maybe themselves.

Who Needs the Bravermans?

I’ve been watching the now defunct TV show Parenthood recently. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want spoilers. I am up to Season 4, and just saw the episode where Victor hits a home run, Julia quits her job and Kristina tells the family she has cancer.  I love this show so much, and like probably everyone, it makes me wish I had a big extended family whose members all live in one city and show up at each others’ kids’ recitals and baseball games and dance around the kitchen after they do the dishes. I also wonder how the women got their eyelashes to be so fat and long. (Seriously, check this out.)

 

But this weekend, my family got our Braverman on. My excellent sister Abigail drove up from Philly with her twins, Emmett and Reese, and the bunch of us hiked up to Turner’s Falls to see Katryna’s daughter Amelia perform with her band Kalliope Jones. 2015-07-25 16.45.27 FullSizeRender-2The cousins were in heaven, and the aunties and proud moms whooped and hollered and took a lot of photos and waved the mailing list around. (The CD is coming out soon….) and then we went for a picnic and came home and danced around the kitchen. (My sisters both have great eyelashes, too, but their only advice was mascara. Maybe it’s Maybelline.) (Sorry.)

FullSizeRender
Kalliope Jones, from left to right: Alouette Batteau, Isabella DeHerdt, Amelia Chalfant

As I spent time with my sisters, I felt a sense of resurrection. Tom knew it was coming. “You’re a person who needs your family,” he said when I had complained to him of my low-grade malaise. I am a person who needs her people.

Some part of me had gone numb after the highs of my Summer Writing Camp and my kids’ Suzuki Camp. The only pleasure I got was by counting my FitBit steps (always a bad sign for me). That, and listening to my kids play violin. Lila and Johnny and I had spent a glorious week at the Suzuki Summer Academy in Easthampton, and I certainly got my steps in, running up and down the stairs of Easthampton High School, dividing my time between my kids’ classes. They played like little maniacs all day every day, all week long. And then at the end of each 8 hour day, they came home and practiced. I am not kidding. In fact, they wanted to. Lots of soccer was played at Suzuki camp, and many drawings of Carli Lloyd were composed 2015-07-15 19.28.03in the breaks between master classes. Once again, I was deeply impressed by the Suzuki ethos of practice not for the sake of becoming a good violinist, but rather in the name of building a beautiful character.

 

The other thing that brought me happiness were my 5am writing sessions. I have been working exclusively on my novel The Big Idea, (as you know, since I have barely been posting on this blog at all). But trying to get up at 5am while my kids were on summer vacation and stubbornly maintaining an obscenely late bedtime was making me psychotic.

But part of the reason Abigail came to visit was to lend me her daughter Reese, the 11-year-old phenomenal singer. She and Amelia (14) and I had been cooking up the idea for awhil2015-07-26 14.26.08e now for me to re-release my 2005 novel Plastic Angel as an ebook, and 2015-07-26 13.59.21to re-record some of the songs from the accompanying soundtrack using their voices. So this we did (with the help of my beloved brother-in-law Dave Chalfant), with amazing results that I hope will be published in the next 6 months. Each of my nieces brought so much to the project: incredible style, preternaturally good singing chops, and a delightful attitude. We got four songs done in five hours. Not only that, but the girls had read the book and had lots of ideas for a sequel.

As I write this, I remember the Golden Rule of creativity that my friend Pam Houston taught me long ago: the joy is always ALWAYS in the creative process itself. The joy is in the moment of inspiration, but it’s also (even more, for me) in the refining, polishing, pondering, choosing, and of course, performing. The aftermath is a whole different animal, and it’s never been that great for me. Even when people love my work and gush and tell me that it mattered, or helped them, those moments are just stories, completely disconnected from my body and soul. The work is out of my hands at that point, and really just theoretical. It’s not my own anymore. My nieces kept saying, “This is so much fun!” as they sang their parts. I totally related. It’s among my favorite things on earth to record vocals. I would pay to record vocals. I would pay to write novels. To paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert (whose podcast called Big Magic I have been enjoying), it never works to demand that our creativity support us. Rather, we need to support that precious, dear, sweet little fragile being inside us that is our creativity.

2015-07-27 20.05.40

Last night, we rehearsed with our CrackerJack band for Falcon Ridge. These are the guys who have been there from the beginning, in the case of Daves Chalfant and Hower, and even Paul Kochanski, who joined us in 2002 has been with us now for years. John Colonna, our 31-year-old cousin, drove up from NYC to play his piano magic, and I could not wipe the huge grin from my face during our 3 hour rehearsal. “Can’t we create an alternate universe where we can play together every week and make albums and also still have our kids and husbands and wives and stable lives in Northampton?” I asked them.

My novel is about a band in the 1990s. They are a family, trying hard to make it in the big time, while also maintaining their love for each other. The book is about how we see each other, and how we grow from our struggles and failures; how we as young adults eventually come home to ourselves. My goal is to have a soundtrack that we (The Nields) record to go with the book, just as we did for Plastic Angel. I want this book published. But I realized, as I rehearsed with the guys, that what I really want is the pleasure of writing––the book, and the 90s flavored songs. And I have that already, just as I have a Braverman-like family, and just as I still have that alternate-universe rock band. In the midst of playing with these amazing musicians, once again, I got it. This IS the alternate universe. I am living it. It’s in the daily practice.  It’s in the Creativity Retreat Katryna and I have scheduled for the fall. It’s in the show we are doing on Sunday at Falcon Ridge, where we will play our hearts out, get inspired by the other musicians there, hand our guitars to the kids, and then come home to a calendar full of shows to play. We all come home to ourselves differently. My way is to practice music and writing, to listen to what I have made, read what I have written, and nurture that tender being that makes all the magic happen. And all the while, nurture those tender beings outside myself.

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Music Alone Shall Live, or A Perfect Weekend In NYC Has a Tiny Cost

On the Monday after we got back from NYC, these things happened:
-The Jetta went in to be drained because one of us put gas in its diesel engine. Yes, we drove it.
-Jay quit violin, and more importantly, I quit violin.
-While talking to his violin teacher about how to manage his quitting so he feels good about his experience, I hooked my iPhone on a kitchen drawer pull and it fell to the ground, the screen shattered, and the home button stopped working.
-Stella refused to pee or poop all morning.
-Instead of going for the run I desperately needed, I had to spend that hour on the phone with Apple and AT&T, getting misinformation about whether I could get an upgrade for $99. (No, I can’t. It would cost me $23/month for 18 months instead. Can anyone out there tell me why I shouldn’t switch to Verizon? Besides that they are the devil? And that I don’t need to waste anymore time stuck on hold by a corporation when I should be going for a run?)

Anyhow, I thought of the people I love who are struggling with way worse problems, like cancer and MS and divorce and serious concerns about their kids (way worse than a 6 year-old’s tantrum and throwing of his violin on the floor thereby breaking the bridge), and I found some packing tape and taped my phone’s screen. There’s this neat work-around you can do where you go to the accessibility settings and get a “soft” home button which floats around your screen. So now the phone works, well enough. It’s kind of hard to read on account of the multiple shards of glass, but it’ll do.

All this happened, I know, because we had fantastic gigs in New York. I say this, not in a kind of morbid “when good things happen, they’re inevitably followed by bad things” way. On the contrary, I firmly believe that good comes from good. What I mean is this: we had a full house in Manhattan at the Rockwood (just south of Houston), and we had my sweet, amazingly talented 30 year-old cousin John Colonna playing piano with us for two of the songs. My other cousins came; my aunt Elizabeth came; fantastic NYC fans whom we haven’t seen in years came; Armando did a fabulous job on the sound, and in short, we were inspired to sing our hearts out. It was one of those shows that lifts my energy so high I have trouble falling asleep afterwards. Which was fine, as we stayed up late at the club talking with our cousins and Aunt, had a hilarious drive back to Brooklyn where we were staying, and when I got home, there was an email from our videographer with the latest version of our video for the PledgeMusic campaign we’re launching Monday Oct. 27 (THIS MONDAY!). I stayed up to watch it. And then I lay in bed and listened to the sounds of Brooklyn, my head full of John’s playing. It was well after 1am.

The kids got me up at 7:30, which is so not enough sleep for me. They insisted on breakfast, so I skipped my yoga. We walked the three Jack Russell terriers, we played with blocks and remote control cars, we rehearsed some more with John Colonna, Katryna went to see her mother-in-law in a play, the kids and I went trolling for Halloween costumes, and then we had a show at Jalopy in Brooklyn. And another full house, five songs to play with John, another reunion with fans we haven’t seen in years, deep connections with family, and another extremely (for me) (and the kids) late night. And early rise to walk to the soccer fields on Brooklyn Bridge Park, visit with Kathy Chalfant, hang out and have lunch with our aunts and uncle and cousins, load up our van and return to MA, via hours of traffic, kids screaming over who had the better iPad in the backseat.

The fantastic gigs and fantastic time with family drained us. We used ourselves up, over the weekend, and that’s not a bad thing. As I once said, What are we for if not for this? We’re here to love the people we love, and that takes time and energy. We’re here to sing the songs we wrote, to deliver them to the people who are supposed to hear them, and that takes time and energy. We needed a day or two to recover, and we did not figure that into the equation. (Next time I will know better.) Getting what you wanted means you are frequently exhausted–I’ve known this for years. What we want now is to raise money for this new album XVII so we can perform more often with other musicians like our cousin John, like the Daves of yore, like Kit and Chip, our production team. We want to see our old fans, and we want to make new ones. I live for moments like the ones I had on stage Saturday when John played “Normandies”, and I felt something pure and clean in me fly up to the top of the room––for joy, for music. I love to hear from fans who tell me their daughter refused to read anything but Plastic Angel for two years. I love to hear from fans who discovered us with Bob on the Ceiling.

And I also love my routine, of morning yoga, meditation, running with Stella, practicing violin with the kids, practicing my own piano, going to River Valley Market, writing with my writers, meeting with my spiritual buddies, staring up at the sky, walking my labyrinth, going to bed next to my husband and sleeping for 8 hours. It’s a good life. I know it. And this life sustains me so that I can exhaust myself on occasion, destroy my property, and shrug. It’s just money. We’ll fix these problems which are not really problems. But, as the song says, music alone shall live. Everyone needs to live for something greater than oneself. Yes, I live for my kids, for my family, for my community. I also live for music.

Addendum:
The Jetta ended up costing us less than $500 to fix. It seems good as ever. Jay did quit violin, but he has agreed to play through December and have a 1/2 Book One Graduation. We are exploring the possibility of Bass lessons. (He wants to play “Bass Guitar, which is a bass with five stwings, Mama. A bass with four stwings is just a bass.”) The home button on my phone magically started to work, so I might just go to a kiosk and get them to replace the glass. Stella did eventually pee. But as for me, I can’t shake the feeling that what I most need is to go to the Adirondacks for three days with only my husband for company, sit on the couch and watch the leaves fall with a cup of hot tea in my hand.

August

Mid-August, I am deep in edits and rewrites of How to Be an Adult, which I hope to publish as an ebook sometime this fall. Today, though, I am working on a much grander piece: a play to be performed by my kids and their five cousins on the occasion of my father’s 70th birthday. We’re decamping to the Adirondacks for high merriment (and some required golf, tennis and hiking.) The play is about a School for Wizardry, Music and Mountaineering called Nieldsworts, and the hero is a grandfatherly character named Granddaddydore. Each of the kids is possessed with a magic instrument (drum, guitar, violin, maraca, etc.) Abigail (our sister who is an actor) will play Granddaddydore, Katryna will be the narrator, the kids will be themselves (only with Potteresque names like Ginny Reesely and Liley Granger and the highly original Johnny Harry Potter and the actually brilliant Ementor). I am going to direct, which means there will probably be lots of fights.

Falcon Ridge seems eons ago. I intended to write a long piece on how great it was, how brave the folks who prevail against the almost inevitable bad weather, and how the whole festival never fails to energize me for the rest of the year, inspire me with new musical ideas, remind me how much I love to play with a band. So even though the actual weekend is now firmly in my rear view mirror, it has left me with a resolve to deepen my musical practice. To wit:
-I’m taking voice lessons with a 78 year old amazing voice teacher in Amherst
-I’m about to start taking guitar lessons, with the goal being to learn the entire Beatles catalog
-I’m thinking about our next big musical project (Katryna, as usual, is full of big ideas)
-We’re planning to play the Iron Horse on Oct. 13 with our CrackerJack band. If we could, I’d play monthly with the band. There’s nothing, NOTHING like being with those guys to fill me with joy.

In fact, it makes me wonder why we stopped. Then I remember. It cost too much. Too much time, too much sanity, too much gas, too much summer, too much views of highways, too much smelly rock clubs and shows that started at 11pm. Not enough early mornings looking out at my own garden.

Part of me wants to just let the music and the touring life consume me, use me up. And part of me hears my daughter practicing her violin. She is playing Two Grenadiers by Schumann right now. I can hear her wade through the difficult middle section, and when she gets to the phrases from the French National Anthem, she blasts through, playing it three times too fast. Don’t we all?