Friday, January 30, 2009

Freedom to move forward

Today I look within to release myself from the affect that others have upon me. I acknowledge my feelings and thoughts that hold me captive and release them. I boldly speak my word for truth and freedom and move forward in my life.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The art of appreciation

The secret of abundance is to stop focusing on what you do not have, and shift your consciousness to an appreciation for all that you are and all that you do have. ~Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Time to rest

I counted the pages last night. Over the last four days I have written nearly 100 pages on my book, and I'm tired. My brain is tired. My soul is tired. I need to take day's rest or two before the weekend when I will go at it again. If you want to read a snippet of it, I posted a little section over on my other blog.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Iced in

My little city has been covered in a blanket of ice and snow, forcing many businesses, including the one I work for to shut down for the day. So here I am enjoying an unexpected day off. It's the perfect day to sit with a cup of hot tea with my favorite Mozart piano concerti playing through my headphones and work on my book.

And by the way, Happy 253rd birthday, Mozart.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Friday, January 23, 2009

Square peg in a round hole

Have you ever had one of those days where you looked all around you and felt that you just didn't fit in? That was the kind of day I had yesterday--one of those irritating, disconcerting kind of days when I was left feeling like a misfit, the proverbial square peg in a round hole. Thankfully the mood passed as soon as I came home and found the one I love sitting at her computer, looking like a nerd in her black "Buddy Holly" glasses and Hawaiian shirt, working on a client's website. I realized then that there was one place where I fit perfectly.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Back to work

Yesterday was a wonderful and exciting day. I took the day off from work to stay home and watch President Obama's inauguration along with all of the festivities on television. I also took the day off from my novel. I must confess that I'm not itching so much to get back to my job, but I'm really itching to get back to work on my book! Too many ideas floating around in my brain that need to be put down on paper!

I think that President Obama is ready to get back too work, too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have no choice but to believe this vision. As the child of a black man and white woman, born in the melting pot of Hawaii, with a sister who is half-Indonesian, but who is usually mistaken for Mexican, and a brother-in-law and niece of Chinese descent, with some relatives who resemble Margaret Thatcher and others who could pass for Bernie Mac, I never had the option of restricting my loyalties on the basis of race or measuring my worth on the basis of tribe. ~The Audacity of Hope, by Barack Obama

Monday, January 19, 2009

Opening up a vein

I've been hold up writing all weekend and it has been a really fulfilling as well as emotional process. Steph says to really write well one has to "open up a vein" and write from one's own experiences, both good and bad. Write what you know. Write what is in your heart. I learned this weekend that writing can sometimes be like weeks of therapy rolled into one session. Painful & exhausting.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The women in my life

When I was little,
I used to believe in the concept of one best friend,
And then I started to become a woman.
And then I found out that if you allow your heart to open up,
you will see the best in many friends.

One friend is needed when you're going through things with your man.
Another friend is needed when you're going through things with your mom.
Another will sit beside you in the bleachers as you delight in your children and their activities
Another when you want to shop, share, heal, hurt, joke, or just be.
One friend will say, 'Let's cry together,'
Another , 'Let's fight together,'
Another , 'Let's walk away together.'

One friend will meet your spiritual need,
Another your shoe fetish,
Another your love for movies,
Another will be with you in your season of confusion,
Another will be your clarifier,
Another the wind beneath your wings.

But whatever their assignment in your life,
On whatever the occasion,
On whatever the day,
Or wherever you need them to meet you with their gym shoes on and hair pulled back,
Or to hold you back from making a complete fool of yourself .
Those are your best friends.

It may all be wrapped up in one woman, But for many, it's wrapped up in several..
One from 7th grade,
One from high school,
Several from the college years,
A couple from old jobs,
On some days your mother,
On some days your neighbour,
On others, your sisters,
And on some days, your daughters.

So whether you've been my friend for 20 minutes or 20 years,
I want you to know that you made a difference in my life.

Friday, January 16, 2009

You become what you think

I forgive myself for having believed for so long that... I was never good enough to have, get, be what I wanted. ~Ceanne DeRohan

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Be true to yourself

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. ~Steve Jobs

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A teaser

I wrote the prologue to my novel last night, and decided to post it here, just as a teaser.

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It was a gentle, warm July afternoon. A soft breeze blew, wafting the delicious summer aroma of roses, English Lavender, and jasmine through the open casements. As Anna sat at her writing desk in the expansive drawing salon, she felt the yellow-orange hue of the afternoon sun streaming in through the arched pane-glassed windows, enveloping her in it's warmth as she fingered through a stack of old letters that were tied neatly into a bundle with a crimson satin cord. In front of her lay a guest list for yet another one of her garden party charity benefits that she was supposed to read through and approve.

"This list can wait," she thought impatiently, pushing it aside.

She was too distracted by the stack of letters in her hand to be bothered with it, and as she caressed the worn, folded edges of the cream-colored parchment paper, she reflected back to another warm July day, thirty years hence, a day spent lounging in the lush and expansive gardens of Laxenburg Palace, the summer home of her former employer, Emperor Joseph II of Austria.

"It was all so simple, then, Caro", she whispered. "We thought that if we kept our love a secret, if we didn't allow it to venture beyond the palace garden walls, that no one would be harmed."

As she continued to reflect, she remembered the words from a recitative:

The moment finally arrives when I'll enjoy without haste In the arms of my beloved... Fearful anxieties, get out of my heart! Do not come to disturb my delight. Oh, it seems that earth, heaven and this place answer my heart's amorous fire. As the night responds to my ruses.

"We thought that we could love and then go on with our lives as if nothing happened between us. We were wrong", she sighed to herself as she carefully placed the letters back on top of the desk.

"I should have done as he requested long ago, and destroyed these as I received them", she thought. "But they're all I have left of him," she argued with herself.

Again, she picked up the letters and lifted the bundle to her petite, turned-up nose and tried to take in the scent that might still have lingered on them. She remembered his scent well, a pleasurable blend of citrus and spices from the West Indies, mixed with the musk aroma of pipe tobacco. She could still detect a faint hint of the tobacco, but the traces of his cologne had long dissipated.

Tears of lingering grief and regret pooled in her eyes and her bottom lip quivered as she untied the cord from the bundle and opened one of the letters and began to read. The worn parchment was stained with tears and ink runs from the many times she had opened and read it before. In her thoughts, she imagined that he was speaking the words to her in his broken, and sometimes comical English, riddled with double negatives, and difficult to understand because of his thick Schwabian accent.

"My little bug", she read out loud blotting the tears with her handkerchief, "It is my dearest hope that this letter finds well you. As I don't not know how to give gracefully this news you to, I will come quikly to this letter the purpose and tell you that I will not be able accepting the commissun to come to London…"

She smiled to herself, allowing a soft chuckle to escape as she remembered the sound of his voice, and the way his accent only grew thicker as he became more nervous and flustered.

"English was never his best", she mused, wiping yet another tear.

Most of his other letters to her were in Italian. It was only when he had difficult or painful news to convey to her that he wrote or spoke to her in English. She believed that the reason for this was that he was forced to slow down and think about what he was saying or writing in such situations. She remembered the little vocabulary game that they played with one another to help him learn English, as well as to help her with her German. They would lay together on the freshly mown lawn of the palace gardens and he would ask, "Sagst du in Englisch, das wert…". She would have to listen to the word in German and know what English word would best translate. Then in turn she would ask, "How do you say in German, the word…".

As she read the letter aloud to herself, her mind began to wander to another painful time when he spoke to her in her mother tongue. It was on a frigid, gray, morning standing in the freezing drizzle in late February of 1787, in front of the customs house near the Karinthian gate, that she bid him a tearful farewell with the promise that she would return to Vienna in a year and in the meantime she would work diligently to obtain a commission for him to come and compose some operas for the King's Theater in London. He promised that he would write a letter to her every month until her return.

"Nutting makes any of da sense mit out you, Nancy", his hat and greatcoat drenched and drooping in the freezing rain.

As her carriage drove away from the customs house towards the gate, she peered through the tiny window in the back and watched as he stood in the middle of the muddy road, his eyes red and swollen from crying.

That was the last time she saw him.

She felt a sudden chill and as she looked up, she saw young Spencer stride past the door to the corridor.

"Spencer," she called out to him, "I feel a chill coming on, dearest. Would you be kind enough to light a fire for Mummy?"

Concerned by the fact that his mother felt a chill on such a warm July day, he rushed to her side, his brow furrowed and eyes fixed upon her face.

"Mummy! Are you quite all right?" he inquired anxiously as he knelt beside her chair.

Spencer, who was merely thirteen, was deeply devoted to his mother and spent a great deal of time worrying and fretting over her since her illness a month prior.

"I'm fine, "she assured him, "Don't fret. I simply felt a draft," she said as she folded the letter and placed it back on the stack with the others. Perhaps a small fire will ease the chill."

Not entirely convinced that his mother was telling him the truth, Spencer darted towards the stove in the corner of the room, opened the door and shoveled a scoop of black coal inside. In a few moments a warm glow radiated over the entire salon. He then walked back towards his mother and helped her out of the chair onto her feet, and taking her arm, he walked her to the settee near the stove. As she raised up from her chair, she reached for the bundle of letters, clutching them in her hand as he gingerly led her to her seat. Spencer then fetched her rug, placed it carefully over her lap, and affectionately kissed her on the top of her head.

Anna had a head-full of thick, chocolate brown hair, large round, dark eyes, and a radiant smile that took over her entire face. She definitely inherited her father's Italianate features. When she was young, back in the days when she was the toast of Venice, the darling of Vienna, and the talk of London, she boasted a petite and curvy figure, but over the last several years, poor health and the cares of life took their toll on her form. Her pleasing, maidenly curves ballooned, and by the time she retired from the stage, she was no longer the pert and sassy soubrette that she had been in her former years. Still, she was a lovely woman and her warm and spirited personality shone through despite the changes in her outward appearance. Loved and adored by her family, as well as her many friends and professional associates, Anna was still the talk of London.

Anna told Spencer the tales of her successful career as Europe's premiere buffa, of how she upstaged that ridiculous castrato, Luigi Marchesi, in Florence and was dismissed because of it and of how the Emperor of Austria, Joseph II learned of her reputation in Venice and sent Count Durazzo to hire her as the prima buffa for his newly-formed Italian Opera Company in Vienna. She told him of how she met her dear friend and colleague, Michael Kelly, and how she and Kelly became dear friends with the likes of Joseph Haydn, Antonio Salieri, and of course, Wolfgang Mozart. She told him of his Uncle Stephen, and how he composed all of his brilliant operas, always casting her as the heroine, and how they had shared an exceedingly warm and devoted relationship.

There was one association, however, that Anna did not reveal to her son. Although Spencer knew that Mozart was a dear friend of his mother's and that she held the distinct honor of being Mozart's original Susanna in his comic opera, Le Nozze di Figaro, he had no idea that theirs ventured beyond the realms of a warm professional and personal friendship into a love for one another that Anna dared not speak of to anyone. He knew of the letters, and he knew that some of them were upsetting for his mother to read, as he had observed her read them on many an occasion, and saw her reduced to tears over them. She rarely spoke of Mozart, but he knew that there must have been something profound between them. And in a very strange way, Spencer felt Mozart's presence around his mother almost constantly.

"Mummy”, Spencer inquired as Anna reached for him, folding her arms around his young form and drawing him close to her breast.
"Yes, dearest, what is it?"
"Did you love him?"
"Who, Caro?” Anna asked, knowing all along to whom he referred.
"Mozart", he replied, whispering.

Anna hesitated for a moment, not knowing quite how to answer, and then in a very matter of fact tone, she confessed, "Yes. Yes I did. Tenderly." She stared forward, her eyes affixed upon the stove.
"Did he love you, Mummy?"
"Oh yes, he did. He loved me with the greatest affection."

Warm tears welled in her eyes. Profound, deep loneliness and a longing to be with him overcame her. She knew at that moment that it wouldn't be long before she would join him. She was transported in her memory back to her last concert in Vienna where she sang the aria that Mozart composed for her as a parting gift. It was unique in that it was composed as a duet for piano and voice with orchestral accompaniment. He composed the piano part for himself, and the text was chosen carefully, especially for the occasion, from his beloved opera, Idomeneo. Anna recalled how when Mozart presented it to her, and she sang through it for the first time, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, and how afterwards, she threw her arms about Mozart's neck and he embraced her tenderly. She wasn't sure how either of them got through the performance at the concert, but they did. How anyone couldn't know the warmth they felt towards one another after hearing them perform it, she didn't know. It was a love letter in music, a bold, open, public declaration of their affection.

You ask me to forget you?
You advise me calmly to forget you and love another and want that I still live?
Ah, No! I would rather die!
Come death! I wait for it courageously!
To seek consolation from another,
to give my love to another only fills my heart with dread!
Cruel suggestion! Ah! My despair will kill me.

Anna sat silently, holding her son to her bosom. After several moments, she spoke again.

"Dearest, would you do something for Mummy?"

Spencer replied eagerly, "You know I would do anything for you, Mummy! You need but ask."
"The letters…" she swallowed hard as she clinched them tightly, "I want you to take them and throw them into the fire."

"Burn them?" he asked, not sure he had heard her correctly.

"Yes Caro. Burn them. It’s what he wished. He asked that I destroy each one as soon as I read it, but I couldn't bear to part with them. They were all I had of him, and I couldn't bear to destroy them. But now…" she sighed, “I must, for they were intended for only me.”

“Please, Spencer”, she hesitated, “burn them."

He arose and took the letters from her tiny hand. As he moved gradually towards the stove, he peered back anxiously to make certain that his mother hadn't changed her mind. Anna turned a tender, reassuring glance towards him.

"Go on, dearest. It will be all right," she assured him with a smile.

He opened the heavy, iron, door and placed the letters upon the fire. He stood and watched as they burned, the flames consuming the brittle, dried-out parchment almost instantly. It was done and the world would never know that they ever existed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A case for the other woman

The love story between Mozart and Nancy Storace is the classic tale of the "other woman". The great Mozart historian, Alfred Einstien, (first cousin to Albert Einstein), stated that Nancy was the only woman for whom Constanze had any cause to be jealous.

Between Mozart and her there must have been a deep and sympathetic understanding. She was beautiful, attractive, an artist, and a finished singer, whose salary at the Italian opera in Vienna attained a figure at that time unheard of.

He continues by stating that after Anna's return to London in 1787, she and Mozart continued their relationship through correspondence by letter:

But he remained in correspondence with Anna Selina. What happened to these letters is a mystery. Anna Selina certainly treasured them, but perhaps before her death, which occurred in Dulwich in 1817, she destroyed them as not intended for the eyes of an outsider.

The challenge I have facing me as a novelist is the fact that since the advent of the film, Amadeus,there has been a crop of Mozart "fans" who are entirely sympathetic and devoted to Mozart's wife, Constanze. They've made Mozart into a deity and Constanze into the Virgin Mary, creating a distorted and false picture of their relationship and marriage, as well as of the people themselves. I must, therefore, create a case for Nancy and make an audience, who can be quite hostile towards her, sympathetic towards her. Not an easy task, especially when dealing with the sacred cow of Mozart. I must remain within the realms of historical accuracy, but give myself some creative license when it comes to filling in the blanks where cold, hard, historical fact leaves off.

Writing a novel, especially when it involves the lives of real, historical persons is quite complicated. One must be an historian, a researcher, a psychologist, and a diplomat all at the same time.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Following my bliss

For several years I've been toying with the idea of writing a book. I did my master's thesis on the life and work of one of Mozart's favorite sopranos, Anna "Nancy" Storace, and my graduate committee chair wanted me to write a biography on her. Since her home was in London, and her career played out in Italy, Austria, and England, to write a good biography would necessitate that I spend time in all of those places researching and combing through stacks of articles and such. Since I don't have the time, inclination, or the funds to indulge in such a venture, I've decided that I'm going to take the information I have already, (which is a lot), and write a novel based on her love relationship with Mozart. I think I want it to be a Jane Austen type love story, but it won't have a totally happy ending, (she left Vienna and went back to London, and he died), and it will have sex. Yeah, it's going to be sexy--not a slimy romance novel "bodice-ripper"--but most definitely hot and steamy.

I've wanted for a long time to tell Nancy's story, and now I've made up my mind that I'm just going to do it. I'm really excited about this.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The independant woman

Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody. ~Jane Austen

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Law of Attraction

If you vividly concern yourself with the injustices you feel have been done you, then you attract more such experience. ~Seth

I am learning that whatever we dwell upon is what we attract. If we dwell on anger, animosity, conflict, and hurt, then that is what we receive. If we dwell upon love, forgiveness, peace, joy, and prosperity, that, in turn is what is given back. The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Philippians:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true,
whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable
- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -
think about these things.

Even Paul understood the Law of Attraction, and its affect upon the human spirit.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happiness from within

Saying you'll be happy when things change in your experience is like saying you'll smile when your reflection in the mirror smiles first. ~Elias

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Divine Spark

Whomever you meet, remember this Truth: Each person is a unique expression of God. Even the person you consider the most vile is God's child too, and has a core self that is never lost to our Creator. We can bring to each encounter extraordinary respect, looking always for that aspect of the Divine. ~ Mary Manin Morrissey

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The laughing spirit

Laughter sets the spirit free to move through even the most tragic of circumstances. It helps us shake our heads clear, get our feet back under us, restoring our sense of balance and purpose. Humor is integral to our peace of mind and to our ability to go beyond survival.
~Captain Gerald Coffee

Monday, January 5, 2009

Feelings count

People will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
~ Astraea

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My resting place

We find rest in those we love, and we provide a resting place in ourselves for those who love us.

Du bist die Ruh, Der Friede mild,
Thou art rest and gentle peace,

Die Sehnsucht du und was sie stillt.
Thou art longing, and that which stills it.

Ich weihe dir voll Lust und Schmerz
I consecrate to thee, with my joys and griefs,

Zur Wohnung hier mein Aug und Herz.
As thy dwelling-place, my eyes and heart.

Kehr ein bei mir, und schließe du
Enter into me and close thou

Still hinter dir die Pforten zu.
The gates softly behind thee:

Treib andern Schmerz aus dieser Brust!
Drive other griefs from this breast,

Voll sei dies Herz von deiner Lust.
Let this heart be filled with thy joys.

Dies Augenzelt von deinem Glanz
My world of sight thy radiance

Allein erhellt,
Alone can illuminate.

O füll es ganz!
Oh, fill it to the fullest!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Friday, January 2, 2009

Honor your soul

If your spirit is not present where you are, and you feel intuitively called elsewhere, you must hearken to your inner voice. I am not encouraging you to be irresponsible and run away from things you need to do. I am encouraging you to be responsive to your spirit. It is not responsible to engage in activities that affront your soul. Honor your soul by being where you belong.

~ Alan Cohen

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The song of old lovers

Of course we’ve fought with angry faces:
For twenty years love’s mad at best.
A thousand times you’ve packed your cases,
A thousand times I’ve flown the nest.
Each chair and table still must smart
From war and thunderstorm and frost
That it’s endured from the beginning.
The whole is greater than the parts:
The taste for water you have lost
And me, I’ve lost the taste for winning.

Oh my love,
My sweet, my marvellous, my tender love,
From early dawn until day’s end, my love,
I love you still, you know, I love you.

I know your tricks and your deceptions,
You know my spells and wiles and charms.
From traps you’ve given me protection:
Sometimes I’ve lost you from my arms.
Sure we’ve had lovers in our beds:
It helped when there was time to kill
Or with our bodies’ passions raging,
But in the end when all is said
It seemed our only special skill
Was never growing up, just ageing.

Oh my love,
My sweet, my marvellous, my tender love,
From early dawn until day’s end, my love,
I love you still, you know, I love you.

And each succeeding year uncovers
More opportunities for hurt.
Of traps that lie in wait for lovers
This one’s the hardest to avert.
Of course you take more time to cry,
I take a lot more work to crack,
We get more devious and clever.
You can’t let chances pass you by,
You have to learn to watch your back:
The tender war goes on forever.

Oh my love,
My sweet, my marvellous, my tender love,
From early dawn until day’s end, my love,
I love you still, you know, I love you.