28 April 2006

American Inklings

Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
~ C.S. Lewis
For all those in the D.C./Northern Virginia area:

Announcing the first meeting of the American Inklings

When: Wednesday, May 10, 7:00pm
and every 1st and 3rd Wednesday

Where: Cosi's, in the Reston Town Center
11909 Democracy Drive, Reston, VA

The original "Inklings" were a group of mostly university colleagues who got together to discuss literature and poetry--either things they'd read or things they'd written. Theirs were the first ears to hear original drafts of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, and theirs the first mouths to offer critique.

Modeled after that group, the American Inklings are artistic souls who meet twice a month to share, critique, and possibly collaborate on various creative projects: poems, stories, songs--whatever the Muse inspires!

There's no commitment: Come as you're able, share your writings or ideas, or just listen and be inspired!

For more on the original Inklings click here and here.

For more on my co-founder: King Alfred

See you on the 10th!

Oremus pro invicem,

Dining Out Discovery

A good meal soothes the soul as it regenerates the body.
From the abundance of it flows a benign benevolence.
~ Frederick W. Hackwood, Good Cheer

For Lent, one of the excursions I gave up was dining out. I thought this was going to be a great hardship. I like to try new dishes, sample different wines and pass a critical taste bud or two over exotic desserts.

And I did indeed miss it. I spent approximately 40 days and nights without setting foot in one restaurant. Once Easter arrived, I was sure that I would jump in the car and head over to one of my favorite gastronomic haunts.

Strangely, this did not happen. I think extreme fatigue from singing from Holy Thursday evening to Easter Sunday morning played a role in my reluctance to stray too far from the boudoir. But once I recovered, I wasted no time in making lunch dates with a couple of friends.

Nothing prepared me for the shock. I took one bite of a medium rare bit of happiness and it tasted like sawdust. This was very odd indeed. This strange state of affairs did not change when a week later, I joined another friend for dessert. In fact, it got much worse. What, you ask, could possibly be worse than filet mignon tasting like sawdust?! Flourless chocolate cake ~ tasting like the inside of a refrigerator that hasn’t been opened in a week. Or two. That is not simply unpalatable, it is just wrong.

I found myself thinking, ‘eating out is so over-rated! My cooking is much better!’ What can I say? Humility is acknowledging the truth. ;o)

Oremus pro invicem,

06 April 2006

Out of the Box

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom.
If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn.
~ Charlie Parker

A few deep, soul-searching conversations with friends over the past couple of weeks, together with near perfect weather, an afternoon spent planning out the garden and a considerable amount of time on the bench while a sweet breeze stirred the sheers at the bay window, produced a new song about stepping out of the old, pain-filled comfort zone and into the sunlight of emotional and spiritual freedom.

A pain-filled comfort zone? Oh yes. As much as it sounds like an oxymoron that is exactly what it is. You know the old saying: “Better the devil you know, then the devil you don’t.” There are many factors that come into play when a person stays in a painful situation. But the one I am talking about comes from a combination of a fear of the unknown and a lack of confidence or hope in yourself.

Perhaps the effect of talking things over with friends helped loosen the chains that kept that box shut. Or perhaps it was the fact that I simply had two full nights of silence, peaceful, uninterrupted sleep. Or the country air and the feel of the grass and the sight of the cherry blossoms in the orchard and lilacs just beginning to bloom.

Whatever it was, the chains are off, the box is open and the contents are being gone through and either thrown out or simply put in perspective.

Spring is here. Time to pull out old boxes and open them up to the warmth of the sun.

Oremus pro invicem,

05 April 2006

Jazzy Blues

The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous.
~ Shana Alexander

A couple of friends of mine, John Cropp and Maria “Pete” Durgan are in a great jazz/blues band called Novazanz. Pete is an incredible bass guitarist and John is…phenomenal. He is one of the best lead guitarists I have heard in quite awhile. I have now had the pleasure and privilege of improvising with both of them.

Last Friday night I got a chance to sing with them…in public…in front of strangers….you know, people I do not know, who have never heard me sing before…scary people. John and Pete had suggested that the next time they played somewhere, I should come and do a song with them ~ to get my feet wet and my nerves a shot in the arm ~ so to speak.

Reading into the above quote, I must have been at the top of my form because I was nervous as all get out! In fact, I sang with my eyes pretty much closed the whole time: harking back to days of old when yours truly walked down the aisle countless times as a shy flower girl…with her eyes closed. Some things never change.

I do not even remember if the five people in the bar clapped after my very nervous interpretation of Summertime. Sullivan had come along to cheer on both John and Pete (and talented drummer Kirby, who joins them off and on) and declared my debut a success. I think it was more the event of actually getting me up in front of *gasp* other people that was most exciting.

Sitting behind a piano opening my soul to people with every composition always carries a sense of nakedness ~ it is the nature of art. But singing a cover song, without a piano to hide behind engenders much more of a naked feeling. However, now my feet are wet and hopefully the next time I am asked (or made) to sing before strangers, it will not be as traumatic. ;o)

Novazanz is incredibly talented and the next time you have a chance, come enjoy an evening of bossa nova blues and jazz at one of their gigs. See ya soon John and Pete!

Oremus pro invicem,

04 April 2006

In Black and White

Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.
~ Mark Twain

Well, no one offered to pay me. And it hasn’t been three years yet. And I’m a girl. So I think I’ll hold off on sawing wood.

I’ve been published!! Yippee! One poem today, a whole novel tomorrow! Did I just say that? *looks into glass* Yes ~ my ice is decidedly lonely. I’m going to go for a re-fill and bask in the glory of being published.

Take a look and let me know what you think!

Oremus pro invicem,