Finding that Sapphire Sea…

God bless my friend, Dave, for bearing the traffic on a busy Saturday afternoon and taking me to Niantic and Mystic, CT. I was desperately in need of a non-urban beach, even though I finally was beaten by this heat wave and installed my air conditioning. Friday night, nearing midnight, I somehow decided I could not sleep another night with allergens (or nocturnal animals) coming through my screen and excessive heat. In a tank top and boy shorts for all the neighbors in my courtyard to see I hung my arms out the window and installed the device myself. All the while I was terrified of the return of the bat that invaded my apartment last month and certain I was going to lose my grip and the contraption would go crashing down. Luckily, no disasters ensued.

I kept dreaming of swimming against the waves and could not wait to feel be awoken to life by the crisp, salty water. Over the past year and a half I’ve really fallen in love with New England, particularly the coastline. The sense of history and the rugged fishermen and natives with their harsh accents are so enjoyable. New England has character.

New England (or at least Connecticut) also offers the most amazing docks in the entire planet. My meditation for the rest of the year could center around these docks. A collection of moveable, plastic components, these docks actually flow with the tide, like a solid wave. I was considering staying on the dock until summer’s end.

Eventually, the setting sun and exploding fireworks gave me the indication it might be time to come ashore and warm up. In the ideal world, I’d love to spend half my time along New England coast and the rest of my time in New York.

I’ve also developed a fondness for New Hampshire, escaping where the people are bold and assertive in a saltier way than New Yorkers. I went to Golden Pond, Squam Lake for the first time and had to suppress my need to impersonate Katharine Hepburn. Any chance to impersonate her is an exciting adventure for me.


Why does my head always look so big?
Me, Fred Tausch

I’m In The Twilight Zone

I have recently become the receiver of weird phone calls. I can’t even call them pranks because the origins are unknown to me and even the callers at times. The first bizarre call came from a moving company in Brooklyn that left a message to arrange my pending move from New York to Boston on August 4th. First I went to see if the moving company is legit, which it turned out to be and I called to hear the same person who left the message answer the phone. I informed him of my name, number, and the message sent and said it was a mistake and he may have meant it for another person. Now, I live in NY but have an LA area code. The chance for a misdial becomes even more rare because very few people living in this town have a 310 area code. The guy was very kind and patient and for five minutes went through the records and database for all calls made that day. He searched by my name, my number, my “pending move” and the time he called and there was absolutely no trace of him calling me. What makes it strange to me is that the past three men I’ve dated all live in Boston… and when I confronted the prankster in the bunch he had no idea what I was talking about.

Then tonight, just after nine my cell phone rang with a private number. A man’s voice was on the other end, claiming to be conducting a survey for the University of Arizona on relationships and marriage and helping people. Having time to kill and always open to new weirdness, I offered to partake and he mentioned giving $50 for my participation. I knew receiving any money was highly unlikely and I’d be more prone to a scam than anything else. After explaining that he came across my number through random dialing, I agreed to answer some questions as he asked about my last relationship and my current status. Not even asking my sexual preference, he assumed I was straight and began a hypnosis technique, encouraging me to imagine being on a deserted island and feeling the warm breeze and all that tropical jazz, then asking how I felt. Then he told me to imagine my partner, loving me, letting love flow through my body, feeling connected, looking deeply into his eyes, etc. After fifteen minutes of this, I began to wonder if the true test was how long any normal person would stay on the phone. And judging my last blog about dysfunctional relationships, I found it highly ironic that I now had someone trying to coach me on a way to connecting to love and with people. He referenced the same thing as my Oprah-hope class, connecting to the inner oneness of being with whoever I was visualizing as my partner.

I eventually interrupted and said it had to be more than fifteen minutes and I had to go, as he gave me an 800-number to give my information to receive payment. I called and of course the number was busy and non-functioning. Oddly, if someone is going around as a prank and encouraging others to feel love… I’d imagine it’s not the creepiest thing someone could do. At the same time, it makes me wonder the motivation… and why I possibly attracted such a call on this random summer night.

I can only hope the next unusual phone call comes from Stevie Nicks, asking me to tour with her. If my manifesting is that good, this should be the test.

Are Men Necessary?

What an appropriate time for me to come across Maureen Dowd’s Are Men Necessary?; a book that has been collecting dust on my bookshelf for a minimum of two years. I opened it up for the first time last week, feeling my own recent dismay with the interactions between men and women. I hate generalizing, because on a smaller scale, my main concern is why I have continuously found myself in dysfunctional relationships with men. Dowd’s work is the perfect counterbalance to all the spiritual teachings I’m gleaning from the Oprah-Tolle hope class. Without the Oprah-hope, I just may find myself drowning in her cynicism.

There was a time, very early on that I was completely disinterested in men. When I recently asked my best friend of a dozen years, “What did we talk about before dudes came into the picture?” she answered, “Um… Bette Midler?” My early adult years (okay, I was a teenager living an adult life) were spent standing up men because I was so painfully shy. Yes. Imagine that. In my own self-reflection, separating the innocuous and banal serial dating from the men I fell for, I’ve been trying to come up a synopsis that explains my current situation. I’ve heard that people attract partners that offer things we are wishing to have in ourselves. Yet, I’ve never wished to be inconsistent, confused, or terrified and the majority of men from my past carry this trifecta.

Looking back to one of my kindest chaps, I see us not being together today because we didn’t compliment one another in the day to day. Living as a nineteen-year-old bohemian in Hawaii made this overindulgent, free-spirited chap my perfect co-partner at the time. From him I moved on to a man that would haunt my youth for six or seven years. I would hold on for the hope that destiny would keep us together, but we were bound by two things: ego-driven wit and animalistic, emotionally-vacant sex. To this day, after my many confessionals of how much I cared and wanted to be in a relationship, he still never got the full emphasis of how deeply I felt. I’d think of The Way We Were and the characters, Hubbell and Katie. She was the passionate, fierce woman who championed everything with her soul while he was the pretty boy who drifted from day to day on his intellectual prowess. The intellect can only go so deep. To this day, it won’t stop him from the occasional call or text still wanting to live out past fantasies.

But that’s okay, because after years of mind-fucking, I crossed paths with an emotionally deep man who actually needed me. As he would beg me to lay close and not leave his side at night, I felt the glory of being with a man who so openly desired an emotional connection. The problem was, his needs weren’t limited to me. The man couldn’t stand to be alone with himself and like the legendary Ted Turner, he’d always have a half-dozen back-up plans to assuage his ego and quench his loneliness. Our entire relationship was based on my fluctuation between number-1 girl and back-up plan.

Just when I thought I had made amends with my past, a new man entered my life. We had a strong connection, albeit through the internet and phone, and through both his intense insecurities seemed to flourish. He had been single for years, serial dating and opening up to me about how he wanted more. Impulsively he came to New York from LA, in need of a new life and we spent an incredible week together. At the time, I think it was one of the best weeks of both of our lives. I’ll never forget a rather vulnerable night that left this Mensa boy asking, “Isn’t this so amazing? I never have conversations with women like this… there just aren’t girls like this in LA.” While he discussed living in NY, and months later bought property upstate, it became reasonable to think we might have a chance. But then he became terrified of the distance and confessed his issues about my lack of tears when he left. These would become the two reasons he blamed when he cut me out of his life- distance and my emotional lack of tears when he was ready himself to cry a river. Oddly, I’ve never cried over another man so much in my life. On my pending trip to LA, he told me he might just meet me at a fast food joint because he was dating a few girls and waiting until one of them made him commit and he decided to be with whoever worked out. The guy who was single for two or more years, was driven to commit after his time with me and his been with my replacement ever since. His Myspace page is now an homage to naked women that surround him at sex parties, while his girlfriend poses topless with body paint and makes out with beach babes that he gropes. They even use her Myspace page as an advertising space for orgies and threesomes. What a man like that ever was doing with someone like me is a total mystery.

But when I moved on from the suave players and sex addicts, I thought I had evolved to higher ground. I began seeing someone with family values, who introduced me to his family from the start and did his part in making my dreams come true. And while I pushed him away for four months, he was relentless and patient, urging me to heal my broken heart and be happy. A friend told me, “You have to be his ‘reach’ girl because no man waits that long unless it’s the girl he really wants.” Yet the moment I became interested, he became shy and backed away. He’d later blame it on liking some other girl who he deemed unattractive, but the funny thing is we both knew it wasn’t the real reason. Like all the men I ever fell for, he was insanely insecure. His intimacy issues so intense that he’d scream when I touched him and wouldn’t remove his clothing, even with the lights out and my insistence. My days of torrid public dalliances were replaced with a man who needn’t touch me to get satisfaction. I was just the face of a porcelain doll and my virtual self, my photos and songs, were enough to satisfy all his sexual urges. Anything more he was incapable of facing.

Lastly, there are the incredibly kind and balanced male friends I have had throughout the years. They stand by my side through every heart-crushing break-up. They suffer meeting these dudes and watching them put me on a pedestal only to watch me come crashing down to reality. And all the time they wonder (some of them eventually ending all contact with me because of these thoughts), “why won’t Michelle just be with me?” I even ask myself, why I won’t possibly consider settling with one of them. But the answer is simple and obvious. I want it all. I want the friendship and passion and consistency and growth. If this comes at the cost of being single forever, then I would rather that than ever settle into something out of convenience.

If life is really about a spirit or soul experiencing the human existence, then I can at least walk out of this life with the certainty that I have attracted the good, the bad, and the indifferent. I’m not sure, however, if I will be able to truthfully answer the question… “Are men necessary?”
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Jill Bolte Taylor and A New Earth

Nearly done with the “New Earth” series, I wanted to post some of my favourite parts. I really recommend if you don’t feel like the whole venture even, to check out Chapters 8 and 9 (and 7) as help answer questions on how to find your life’s calling (www.oprah.com/anewearth). I also came across the interviews with Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who found herself having a stroke years ago as her entire left hemisphere shut down. All logic and language and critical thinking vanished in that moment and she was fully aware of her form, how we function as a human body, and completely free of pain and fear. Her interview on XM is available to download free on iTunes and the webcast is available at http://www2.oprah.com/spiritself/oss/guest/oss_guest_jboltetaylor.jhtml.

Part of these interviews has me recognizing how messed up our entire education system is, the way children are taught that language and command of the left hemisphere thinking is the most important instead of balancing both areas of thought. I should know as my entire time in school was spent excelling in all my classes, skipping grades, getting top scores on standardized tests, and becoming valedictorian of my class. I remember when I was 18 and a senior in college (yes, college) and studying at the University of Albany in a Feminism in Nature literature course with students who were four to five years older than me. When asked to write a paper about what makes humans “superior” to other life forms, at the time I thought I was brilliant to write about how language and cognitive thinking for problem solving made us the most evolved species. I was missing the biggest picture. It’s not thought, but the awareness of our own thoughts and inner dialogue that makes us distinct with self-reflection. It’s a difference, more than an ego-driven superiority.

The coolest discoveries, in my cliff-notes list of what I’ve absorbed in this are below.

1. All worry, pain, fear, and baggage about the past can be released in one moment. The part of our brain that processes those thoughts and mind chatter is the size of a pea. And since we can control what we think, we can turn off that negativity and be present. The past only haunts us if we allow it.

2. Worrying about the future is pointless. You don’t have to worry about paying bills, building a career, making money, losing money. You do have to make money. You have to take action and you have to follow the right decisions for you in the present moment. But worry and stress is completely unnecessary. Being conscious to what needs to be done and doing it is far more empowering than worrying about it and wasting your precious energy.

3. Anytime something stressful comes up, acceptance of what the facts are is the way to go. Once you accept the facts, you can separate and be still enough to take your own action.

4. Other people’s baggage is not yours. Your baggage is yours and you can choose to bring it or leave it behind.

5. Consciousness is not thought, but awareness of thought.

6. Your future and end result of your actions will carry the energy from the steps it took to get you there.

7. Good, bad, or indifferent to this moment. “This too shall pass.” Everything in life is transient, and will change.

8. We cannot live in the future because the only future we know is what we experience in the now. We will only know the future when it has become our now.

9. Give to others what you wish to receive yourself.

Lastly, I’ve created many projects from a book, cd, screenplays, that have gone to certain places and all the while each step I took was diminished in light of my desire to see the success of the end result. It’s taken until this past year for me to see how important each step was. One of my favourite passages, page 271 of “A New Earth.

 “Let’s say you are a businessperson and after two years of intense stress and strain you finally manage to come out with a product or service that sells well and makes money. Success? In conventional terms, yes. In reality, you spent two years polluting your body as well as the earth with negative energy, made yourself and those around you miserable, and affected many others you never met. The unconscious assumption behind all such action is that success is a future event, and that the end justifies the means. But the end and the means are one. And if the means did not contribute to human happiness, neither will the end. The outcome, which is inseparable from the actions that led to it, is already contaminated by those actions and so will create further unhappiness. This is karmic action, which is the unconscious perpetuation of unhappiness.”

The answer? Value and be present to enjoying and accepting each step as it is.


Rockaway to Lincoln Center

Summer in New York has been a treat this year. I’ve managed to keep my pledge to not install my air conditioner as the days have been tolerably warm and sunny and the nights have been cool. Thanks to the Oprah-Tolle-Hope class I’ve been embracing the now more than ever. Work has been slow this week, particularly after two conference calls failed to convince a client that I was bubbly and enthusiastic enough to portray a life-sized cow at a press event with a “celebrity” I’ve never heard of.

But your photo as a cow could appear in InStyle Magazine and you’ll get to be with a celebrity you’ve never heard of and she’s not just any cow… she’s the Paris Hilton of cows. Think Miss Piggy.” I feigned intrigue as much as I could, but if you reference my blog last week about hating to be fake you’ll see these conference calls were apparently a test in fakeness I failed. Try as I might, I couldn’t get excited enough to be a non-mooing cow at an event more for free press than its aim to be charitable to troubled youths.

So without work, instead of stressing and waiting for my phone to ring with the next bizarre assignment I boarded the A-train to the Rockaways. The A-train is the longest subway train in New York and by the time it reaches the south end, the train crosses over large bodies of water. Imagine peering out the window marked with graffiti and urban scrawl unto an oasis of water and motor boats and willows. On a solo venture, I made it to the beach crowded with children and families speaking a multitude of languages and soaked in the sun. For three hours, I just sat with my thoughts and observed the environment around me. No music. No reading. Just total stillness. That is, until, a football landed on my face from a misfire of teenage boys immersed in a game. Thankfully the pain wasn’t as tragic as the surprise launch and I could return to my lounging, laughing a bit at the sheer terror in the puberty-stricken boy who retrieved the ball.

Afterwards, I headed to Lincoln Center to check out Nellie McKay (singer-songwriter behind “The Summer Zombie” video) perform with a big band orchestra. Every summer, Lincoln Center offers live music and dance lessons varying from swing to disco dancing. I love to dance. But when it comes to structure, I take the hippy-bohemian-dance-to-your-own-drummer approach. When it comes to dancing with someone else, I’m faced with another dilemma… letting the man lead. Yes, it takes a very special man to get the privilege to actually dip me. Tonight I went for the music, but I should have known that appearing sand covered and in a long summer dress with a beach bag would be enough of a deterrent for those boys waiting to dance. Overwhelmingly there was a number of senior citizen chaps snatching up girls my age and taking over the dance floor. I was approached by a Greek man, easily in his late 70’s but with the vigor of 15-year-old boy and better dance moves than I was equipped to handle. Though four or five inches shorter than me, he took no mind to spinning me under his arm and twirling me until I thought my arm would detach itself from my shoulder. I learned it was much easier to just follow his lead than to even attempt to resist. He was certainly stronger than me. After no fewer than ten songs, he stopped mid-song and apologized that he was too tired to continue. I had been too tired to continue about five songs before him but held out based on my own pride of being the young one. We’ll see if I can move my right arm tomorrow.

The clincher for me is when he looked to me and in a soft-spoken voice told me, “I feel as if you are an old friend. That I knew you before right now.” It was sweet, and I’d imagine someone his age can get away with a lot more than if some forty-five year old said the same. He was flirtatious in his well-mannered way, complimenting my “assets” and telling me, “Oh you are such a beautiful woman and your long hair is so sensual. You must look in the mirror and remember it is your gift. Remember that I said this the next time you look in the mirror.”

I remember being the ugly duckling as a kid, and I certainly see the draw to being attractive or being perceived that way. But I also know it is completely fleeting. As far as it being a gift… as Stevie Nicks once said, “I don’t care about being pretty that much. I want to seize you.” But I will think of my dancing partner the next time I catch a glimpse of my own reflection and I’m sure the beauty of his spirit and life force will come to mind before my own vain musings.

The burdens of the world seem so large sometimes, but the essence of life and joy is everywhere… you just have to open your eyes to it.

Musical Escapades

I’m in the studio working on a new song. “Chained by Dreams” was a labor of love and sheer determination of Scott and I and we’re now welcoming the opportunity record at the Cutting Room (Carly Simon did her last few albums there… it’s nice to be in the same vocal booth Carly used). Albeit brief, I posted a little clip of us in there this week.

It’s really exciting! The new song will haunt you in your dreams… a good haunting though. We’re going for a different, more organic sound. Of course, this means you’ll hear a lot more of my vocals with the smaller production. So if you are one of those people that likes to hate on my voice… really, be warned that you should steer clear of this page and spare the vitriol. Oh those drama-makers. I’ve been told these new vocals cut like a knife. Be scared, drama-makers.

I’ve been writing incessantly lately with chords and melodies that sound simple and beautiful yet far more intricate than I’d imagine coming up with. I realized before focusing on learning the guitar, I might want to work on my relationship with the piano since it is my first love. It’s like the equivalent of trying to date someone new when you’re too overwhelmed to really deepen a relationship you’re in already. I could be institutionalized for saying this but my relationship with the piano is coming to a new level… I am in love with my Casio.

Scott and I were also asked to perform at the Citadel next March. Now, Bette Midler in “For the Boys” is the reason I ever wanted to be a singer. When I was 9, I actually used to believe I was somehow reincarnated from the 1940’s and was destined to be a USO performer. It just so happens that part of “For the Boys” was filmed at the Citadel.

I hope everyone has an awesome and very safe 4th of July!
At The Cutting Room
Check out this video: At The Cutting Room

Sanity and Gratitude

I’ve never been the biggest fan of holidays, particularly the 4th of July. It’s the heightened expectations around these days that has me wondering why we don’t try and celebrate the rest of the year with as much fervor? Although, a daily dose of fireworks would not be welcomed by me. When I was four my grandmother took me to this brilliant fireworks display and I was terrified by the noise. I kept begging to go home as she tried to assuage me. The first major firework went off and I passed out cold until they were nearly over. Last night, the irony was that the city skyline from the rooftop in Chelsea was more breathtaking than the four random displays of fireworks ever could be. How could a firework possibly compete with the Empire State Building?

I didn’t expect to be in the city this year. I have been wanting to go to Niagara Falls for the past year and thought this weekend would have been the perfect opportunity to go with my family. Worried about the money and time it would take for such a trip, my parents opted to come to the city instead and head out to the beach. I’m not one to pass up a chance to go to Jones Beach and revisit “heaven” that is the Jones Beach Amphitheatre (how bizarre that Long Island could possibly be the home base for my heaven?) so I conceded.


Someone’s Bug Ran Over A Bear

I was in the studio working on a new song and it delayed our trip to the coast. After a late lunch, my folks and I found ourselves in the midst of motionless traffic heading east. It took us nearly two hours to get to Jones Beach, but the lunch was so great and worth the delay. By the time we made it to the beach the wind was chilly and we only had a few hours before sunset, but spending time together was the component that mattered most. It took a decade of battles, misunderstandings, and struggling to come to where things are now. I’ve listened to the chiding of people who are so threatened by it, men who’ve teased me for wanting to spend a day with my parents or go to a concert with my dad, or the Caribbean with my brother instead of spending the time in a superficial situation with a dude lusting after me (ie whichever man would be saying it at the time). I stopped defending myself years ago.  At the end of the day, as we walked the pier in Robert Moses Park and then drove against the salty winds and sang along to Jim Croce in unison, I didn’t dare think of the corny factor. I simply felt gratitude. I felt bliss.

 

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

I hate being fake. I really hate it. Yet, I also accept it’s something that’s very important in interacting in the entertainment industry. The only other option is to somehow convince myself that I’m happily delusional and bubbly all the time. I’m not that good of a liar.

Today I was particularly excited because I was cast for a rather popular tv show to play my flute. I have yet to put this skill into action for a show and couldn’t be happier when I was informed that sheet music would be provided on the set and I’d be paired with a harp player. I arrived just past the ass crack of dawn, checked in and was fitted in a black cocktail dress. After two hours of sitting and waiting, suddenly production was in a rush to get the harp player and me into a room so we could practice our selections.

Now, we both were aware that the music was going to be dubbed and we had to match our instruments to the pre-recorded material. What we did not know is that someone just forgot to get the sheet music and wanted us to play along to the mp3 files and instantly pick up the parts. With so much time wasted on set, one would think we could have an hour to go over the music, especially with the lack of sheet music. The production, however, decided that 10 minutes was sufficient time.

Ushered to set, where we stood with our instruments and were told to fake it as much as possible, we basically stood in a corner with ear wigs and the chaos of a working set. Imagine spending years studying something and having the skills to pull it off, only to be told to fake it. Not to be overly cynical, but how often does that happen that entirely capable people are hired for something and then told to slack off. I felt ridiculously bad that I did not have the composition down note for note.
 
Now it may sound ridiculous, but faking it is so much harder than actually doing it. I was so worried about messing up and not being completely present. Not only that, the non-playing and breathing with proper phrasing was enough to cause me to forget to breathe. Had I just learned the music or had sheet music to read, I could’ve seamlessly been swept away by the notes and melody instead of concentrating on mimicking slurred notes and trills. I think that “faking it” whether it’s pretending everything is fine when it’s really a mess, or putting on a front and presentation instead of just being and doing strips us of our energy.

I’m off to learn these flute pieces that plagued my day with their imperfections. I’ll let you all know when the show airs. And what show it is…