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Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Monday evening found me, as usual, singing at Petterino's. Because of NATO, it was poorly attended so Denise cut the show short. Sitting next to me was a lovely young woman ('30's). She struggled with menu selection so I offered welcome advice. We talked, and when the show ended and I mentioned I was going to go to Serbian Village to Tommy Muellner's Pro Jazz Jam Session, she invited herself along. I absolutely adore meeting new people, especially when it's so unexpected - strangers who make a connection like we did. Her name is Vivian, she's in from L.A. visiting family, loves to hear the old standards sung. She's a physician just finishing her residency - internal medicine. And so lovely with a hint of a foreign accent - something about her "g"s - she looks like a French chanteuse. Vivian is a woman after my own heart - bold, friendly, up for an adventure. She had never been to a jazz jam session before - a first for her. So much fun to see her totally immersed in it. And yay that the wonderful Chicago treasure Frieda Lee, sang the first set. She may be in her '70's but that gal can put a song over!

The evening unfolded exactly as I told Vivian it would - sparsely attended at 9PM because the musicians were probably just getting out of bed, having "breakfast" before coming out to play. It wasn't until about 10 that things started to hop - by then the place was at capacity with musicians and their cases drifting in and taking up residency on the periphery of the room. I told Vivian the evening would build in intensity - that at about 11 there would be at least a dozen musicians jamming together on the stage. Sure enough, she experienced the thrill of seeing them improvise individually and then all come together in the final chorus, playing in unison, practically ripping the roof off the place. When it's tight, it send shivers.

So there was this guy sitting across from me - not sure why he plopped himself down at our table. I barely paid him any notice for the first hours. Then I noticed what he was doing. He had brought along a large book of staff paper and was totally immersed in writing music - right in the middle of all the ruckus! How could he hear the tunes in his head with his ears full of the jam session? I was amazed and watched him for a long time, noticing how precise he was. Finally I asked him about the composition he was creating and he gave me chopped, terse answers, as if it caused him discomfort to speak. And each time I thought the thread of conversation was over, he would continue it, having taken an inordinate amount of time to formulate his next thought. To me it seemed that every word from his mouth was as carefully chosen and crafted as the quarter and eighth notes on the page before him.  

But talk we did - we found a rhythm. I was floored by the things he said about music and composition - his opinions were rich and mature. Like water, the conversation flowed and found interesting nooks and crannies to inhabit. We talked about artificial intelligence and cyborgs, humanity, and so much more. On an inspiration I asked him if he liked the opera. He looked at me, almost shocked, and threw his head back and laughed as if to say, "Why have I never met a girl who asked me this question before?"  His response, "I adore the opera." I asked him if he had favorites. He thought about the question for what seemed like a long time and, at the very same moment he formulated his response, I volunteered that my favorite is Wagner's Tristan and Isolde. As I said the word "Tristan", he said the word "Tristan". We looked at each other amazed - we loved the exact same esoteric opera. It then got crazy because he started talking about the overture and I referenced the scene where the lovers are waiting for the soldiers and he said, "yes, yes, that scene is the culmination - everything builds musically to it - for hours like......."an orgasm" I volunteered. "Exactly," he said.  And Wagner does that. He creates an itch and strings it along for hours until you think you can't take any more and then, only then, does the music resolve in the most sublime way that makes the hours of anticipation and discomfort worth every moment. 

Vivian watched all of this - could tell something special was happening - felt the inspiration and chemistry. It was fun to talk with her about it later when I dropped her at her brother's house. She had such a great time, met tons of new people, all who were enchanted with her. She is determined to get out more and meet people in her own home town - wants marriage and children if they're in her stars and knows she has to make space for that. When I got home, I sent a message to Tom, telling him how much I enjoyed our time together and confessing my attraction. Thinking he might (with his consent, of course) be Lover#2. We'll see.

Kaveh this morning. Haven't spoken with him in three weeks - so much to report. I was afraid he would think the whole three lovers thing ill advised, but he liked it - said as long as I'm doing it to have fun and new experiences, it's good. He was sad for me about Patrick but is so impressed that there is still love and affection between us despite the heaviness of the past year - he thinks it's amazing and rare and a testament to P.'s and my character. When I finished regaling him with all the things that have happened since last we talked, and I finished by saying how sad I am, he said something wonderful. "Sarah, you are living a happy life.You can be sad and still be living a happy life. You are actually one of the happiest people I know, living your life fully and curiously with an open heart, embracing new experiences, being creative, allowing yourself to fully inhabit the ups and downs. That, Sarah, is the definition of a happy, worthy life. Yours is a life to be envied."  So, wow, he's right. I AM happy in a sometimes sad way.

The challenge today is thinking about that as it pertains to your own life.  If happiness is defined as living bravely, curiously, generously, lovingly, creatively, not running from the peaks and valleys, then the opposite must be living a small life with dull routines, not seeking new experiences or acquaintances, not making connections with people because it feels like a boundary breach, guarding and hording your resources, anesthetizing the downs with substances (and that includes TV and computer!) and not nurturing your need for creativity.  I'm not saying my way or the highway - for each of us the special sauce comes in different flavors, but I think there are some universal needs listed here that you should quiz yourself about. Do you feel like your life is expanding or contracting? Are your chosen activities enervating or inspiring you? Do your routines dull your enthusiasm and flat line your emotions or are they healthy underpinnings? Are you passionate about something and actively nurturing that passion or have you misplaced your enthusiasm for life?  If your answers to these questions were unsatisfactory, what can you do to make changes? Make a list and then take a first step.


Picture is a David Hockney print of Tristan and Isolde

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