scrumptious monkey

so much more than an amp -- and yet, not.


Freeing the Writer Within

Years ago I picked up a book called  Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. I went looking for my copy today and when I found it I realized I'd read the first 10 pages and used those 10 pages to write... for the last 19 years.

She published it nearly 20 years ago and it's incredibly well written -- accessible, informative; truly it'll turn anyone with the inclination to write into a genuine notebook filling writer. I've been reading it throughout the day -- every few pages (the chapters are no more than 3 pages!) I have been resisting the urge to put the book down and go write for a week.

I can't believe I didn't devour the whole thing -- but I see how AMAZING the exercises and insights are.... must...fight...
must finish this post...

I recommend it; in fact I'd love for some of the folks I know who have asked ME about writing to pick up a copy so we could get a group workshop of our own going: Ms. Goldberg teaches in New Mexico (realistically I've got a bigger chance of getting to Austin ) and she's got "disciples" who've studied at her workshops: I assume they teach using WDTB as a guide.

I just read some of the reviews of the book -- from the people who take the time to write book reviews (and their diverse agendas in doing so) -- seems one guy spent a few paragraphs dissing it purely to show off his own cleverness. sheesh. But really -- whether you see it as “shooting sunshine up your @ss”, or if you agree with the person who said:

"If you're looking for a step-by-step manual that teaches you how to write a story or poem, this is not the book for you. I must disagree with the commenter who said this book is not about the craft of writing; I think it would be more accurate to say that this book is not about the profession of writing. This book is for people who write because they have to, not for people who are trying to sell something. I heartily recommend it to anyone who knows she's a writer... down in her bones."

Writing is a thing you do. Usually alone. Writing is it's own reward -- but picking up a book like this to read some advice in friendly words from someone who "gets it" is pretty refreshing and rewarding too.


How's the wine?...

“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. AT LENGTH I would be avenged; this was a point definitively settled -- but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.”
~ Edgar Allan Poe, The Cask of Amontillado

Yes this is still about my birthday. think of it as the mop up...
on the other hand, maybe I should just fill the hole in my heart with concrete like the nuclear meltdown site that it is.

it is so unfair that love does not seek its own.

I dropped hints. Big ones. along the lines of, "Rob -- are we going out to dinner for my birthday this Friday?" (asked Wednesday.) I spent 48 hours so full of anger and wretchedness it reminded me of that great Tonio K* bust-up song...

I'm so full of H-A-T-R-E-D
I'm bitter I'm malign
you got me P-I-S-S-E-D-off
I'm angry most of the time
why don't you G-O T-O H-E-double L
you jerk, you blackhearted shit:
I'm going to
K-I-L-L one of us baby
give me time and I'll decide on which.

Now wait a minute
I know I'm acting immature
I'm acting like a child
I should display some self-control
Instead of going wild like this
And I wish I could accept all this
And simply life
Which includes pain
And act upon the actual fact
That nobody's to blame
Yes I wish I was as mellow
As for instance Jackson Browne
But "fountains of sorrow"
my ass motherfucker
I hope you wind up in the ground

ain't love grand? But ... that's what art is for. To express the inexpressible, we turn to music. (sorry Tolstoy silence doesn't express the inexpressible, it represses it.) Once I fixed on that song -- I had a good laugh and shook most of my evil seething-nasty frothy angst off. Most.
what -- you were expecting a personality overhaul?

Fortunately this was an abberation and things are better. We had a talk, and we are being careful and kind to each other... for a while. Fountains of Sorrow indeed.
*hehehe. gotta love a man with a way with words.
I modified a line -- hated to do it, but the original line of "You tramp, you philandering bitch" was not germaine to my rage. If you've never heard Tonio K -- he's like Warren Zevon...only more so. Kind of a punk-country-blues-in-yer-face-muy-literate howl.
H-A-T-R-E-D closes out the album, Life in the Food Chain.
not for the timid -- definitely for people who know from funny.


ok that wallow I put off earlier..?

wow did I have a bad birthday. Maybe it was the cosmos getting even for having such a great birthday last year. My husband...forgot.

and now of course if he does do anything it will be thrown back in his face because he blew it.... so he is "safer" to let it die without comment.

Meanwhile my hostility has no outlet. So it turns inward. Can you possibly imagine loquacious, vivacious ME not saying anything for any length of time?

If any male anywhere ever reads this -- forgetting your significant other's Birthday is on a par with backing your truck up over your childhood pet. An accident? sure. One hopes you are not so fucking passive aggressive you would do something of this magnitude of injury with malice aforethought.

I feel broken, naked and exposed in a white hot light.
funny how realizing you are insignificant and invisible will do that.

I'm so miserable, I'm dealing with the clutter again.
There are only two times a packrat divests earthly accumulation of it's own volition: 1. when he's moving out and 2. when he's angry.
right now I could be both.

I need more time to cool off.... ha. it's like that Frost poem..

Fire And Ice

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

I need a thaw.


catching up... AGAIN...

If you're looking for LL -- I moved them to the January Archive.
I am editor -- I am god.

I've been neglecting SM because of the Aggie project and a few other decisions... been ruminating. Got a note from Zach -- he actually took the time to google me to find where I've been active. Gah -- that's so sweet and so off-image for him!

I am having a bit of a time dealing with this year's Birthday. Good grief -- I'm going to be 45 on Friday.

I don't know where the year went.

I feel like indulging in a little self pity -- but I don't have any reason to. My health is good; I wish I was exercising so I'd build up stamina and burn off calories but I can't seem to get up off my ass to do it... I'd rather be writing. I need a personal trainer... oh I'm such a whimp tho. I need EJ calling me up and telling me I should exercise! (uh huh.) He's probably the only person I wouldn't be bitchy towards: I have this awful recoil against healthy "for its own sake" exercise, and I am sure one of these days I am gonna be found dead from inertia....

I need to wangle a few other things, but I will get back here this week.


The Unexpurgated Confession.

um yeah now that I have your attention....

I have been working through a thing, and I need help -- and you are uniquely positioned to give it, since most of you are musicians, either working on it, or have possibly been here and done that.

I am soliciting any and all responses, including a spanking intended to instruct me away from errant and dangerous behavior,(as opposed to a spanking for fun and games).

I don't spend my life entirely in a bubble. Shockingly -- I have friends. There are times in my life I have felt like Puff the Magic Dragon -- I am a doorway and a phase that a certain type of person needs to encounter, and then one day -- Jackie Paper doesn't come around anymore. But I get that. I didn't always understand it, but I am 44 years old, and I have alot of compiled research that I am drawing on. There is always another Jackie Paper who needs a larger than life, totally cool best buddy and pal to set them on their own path.
ok. We come to serve. Got it. Live Long and Prosper, Peace and Long Life. Next?..

Most of the people I have called friends are artists of some kind. Actors, painters, singers, dancers (not a hell of a lot of dancers, but yes -- being invloved in the arts -- I have met a few.) writers. I have always been in relative awe of musicians, and I have known excellent players. Some of the most reticent, non-verbal people I know express themselves eloquently through their music. Some of the "jazz heads" definetly speak the language of the Angels, and I have picked it up as I go along in bits and pieces.

The fact is -- I love music. I always have. I understand music much MUCH better than I understand people, which seems on the surface of it to be a wry twist of logic -- don't PEOPLE make music? People create music, you say... Oh sure -- everyone performs it at their own skill level, and the goal is to always improve and refine, move forward and explore greater depths.

Through the talents an artist (of any medium) possesses, s/he accessess the collective consciousness and makes "art" as an alloy of who and what s/he is (and often what s/he may yet become) -- and that raw stuff s/he draws into their Being. It really is there, for anyone to tap into it. There are methods to adapt -- that will turn you into an adept, if you are willing to woodshed.

Music -- the capital "M" music -- is not created. It simply IS. And it is very hard work indeed to be a worthy conduit for Music.... although Music, let us not put It on a Pedestal, and please let us not degrade It and demean It -- but in the most profound and yet simplistic of terms, Music is Empathy. To call It Love is to put It on a well meaning and unrealistic "Higher Goodness" pedestal that is velllly nice, and 2 dimensional.

We need to see the whole Entity, and acknowledge It's Power.
There is Power to It.
We can discuss THAT at another time.

The problem I have is the problem Cordelia had with her Dad. You know -- dear old King Lear. For those of you who have never been exposed to KL, it is one of the more complex and painful works to embrace. It is about true loyalty, -- it is about Truth. it is about the folly of age... of all ages, really. It is about loving someone so much, respecting them, and being loved and respected BY them that you cannot lie to them -- not even to save yourself.

We all tell lies -- half truths at best, "the white lie" where we sin by ommission of certain things we do know.... and the hesitant, not always truthful, but lesser lying of saying, "I don't know". Some times -- yes, you truly DON'T know, and if you have a genuine interest to correct that lack, you find out; but mostly, "I don't know" means, "I can't be bothered to think about that right now, and possibly may never feel like thinking about it, so can we drop this?"

Yes -- that is brutal. But it is the truth. think about it. saying "I don't know" changes the course of the conversation in one of three ways:
1.) it stops the conversation flow in that direction (all parties admitting to a lack of knowledge)
2.) you relinquish active participation in dialog to getting INFORMED by someone who claims to have the goods. or
3.) you dig for the meaning, really thinking about the situation, the surrounding information, and pull up what you DO know -- and examine that for what applies to the new question on the table.

You either do know something, or you don't -- and chances are, if you are asked for your opinion on a delicate matter -- you do know it.
The question becomes, how much of what you do know you can or should share with another person.

It is easy when you are talking with a child. Obviously when "dealing" with an innocent, you do not drag out the technical manuals / Kama Sutra to answer, "where do babies come from?" Much as parents would like to think of their offspring as eternally innocent and untouched by the outside world as children get older, the questions become harder for most parents to answer -- especially when you have a certain relationship defined by certain parameters in Your head..
Parent-Child needs to keep a firm footing of authority, but acknowledge growth into adolescence and hopefully growth into adulthood for that child. ( That is text book, and observation: I have not been nor will I ever be a parent in this life time, I am strictly "Cool Auntie." Not to say I couldn't become a Step-Mother. Things can happen. But this is not about that, k?)

The stages of increasing complexity of question and answer teach people from their childhood how to answer questions put to them. Now that I think about it -- this is one of those areas where no formal instruction comes your way until you screw up big time -- and someone takes you to the side...

We learn through cause and effect what is the right answer to give. The right answers are rewarded, in various ways. The wrong answers subsequently, are not rewarded and usually carry with them some sort of punishment. NOT for giving the wrong answer, but for the act of wrongness -- that is, in a world where everyone was well adjusted and -- just.

Quite often -- the right answer is going to get you in trouble -- so you select an answer that will give you an "out" from being punished.
BTW: when you elect to go for damage control -- ? You are lying.
You may need to do it to save your life, or the life of someone you care about -- I know about that. Intimately. That is not the everyday sort of situation where business as usual is, "the ends justifying the means". Ask me no questions, I will tell you no lies. Cynical, but the vast majority of people flow with the status quo and don't look up until they are singled out in some way.

Some people rely on manners to round the hard edges of interaction. Yes, we are taught manners. Manners are a proscribed set of rules (principles of conduct, i.e. ethics) for functioning in a society. More people should function by these rules. It is very hard to know what set and standard of manners a person holds for him/herself until you get to know them.

Some -- have a distinct lack of training, or are broken through... rough use.
Easy enough to spot -- call them "anti-social".

Some -- have a cobbled together, erratic composite training that can seem to be complete and then one day turns around to bite you in the ass. Most married partners... find this out about each other too late.

Very few people actually live by a consciously sworn code of ethics and honor.

well -- I do.
this is it:

I solemnly swear and commit to:
Uphold the right, even at the cost of my life;
Meter even handed justice, tempered with mercy;
Assist and defend others;
and to strive to act with honour at all times.

pretty simple, huh?

except it isn't at all. Especially when I get asked a question in such a way that to answer with anything other than the truth as I know it will make dishonorable the kindness of being polite.

This is the question I was asked.
"Do this for me, please. Listen to my tape with fresh ears. Pretend you've never heard any of the songs before, and also pretend you're not talking to the guy who created the songs, and just tell me what you honestly think. Use your talents and taste and intelligence, but ignore your specific background knowledge of these songs, and just hear them for the first time now. Will you do that for me? I really need to know if my talent and musical efforts are worth anything at all. Don't spare my feelings. If it's crap, tell me so, ok? I trust you. I know you won't be unnecessarily harsh just to prove a point, nor will you give undeserved praise just to make me feel good. I think I can count on your opinion. And I think I can count on your intellectual capabilities to remove the emotional and personal context of the songs to hear them for the first time.
I will appreciate the truth in any event. So cleanse your mental, emotional, and musical palate, and have a listen, ok?"

So I did what was asked.
and although he is my friend, possibly the best friend I have ever had, I listened to his music, specifically his latest collection of songs; divorcing my emotional investment in him, and using the mind set of someone looking to make a profit off this stuff.
the news wasn't good.
I wrote: "Your playing is technically proficient. You can play -- that is without question. Your voice is lightweight, your writing is nothing memorable or exceptional. The songs seem like pointless exercises. The album lacks a strong identity. Very polished demo."

I also stated quite clearly that it was just my opinion.
I disemboweled him.

I had a feeling he would never get that blunt an assessment from anyone else because he is a great guy that people love, and people want him to love them back. He gives copies of his stuff to people for free, all the time -- friends, family members -- and never hears anything back from them, other than, "hey, that was pretty cool." If that. I understand about art as therapy; and I think that is perfectly noble, a good thing.

ironically, he never even saw that what I'd written could just as easily been directed to someone like EJ. (Except for the strong identity part. Eric sounds like ERIC). The market for virtuoso players is not the same market as for Pop Divas and American Idols. I mean --
Al DiMeola-who?
Phil Keaggy ...huh?
most people would look at these middle aged guys playing guitar, pouring their passions out and -- it would be aural wall paper to them. I remember another friend's description of going to the Dallas guitar show back in May -- the performances got a late start, Eric was on stage last -- putting on a hell of a show, the best performance of the day -- and people were walking out. My bud's wife and daughter walked out half way through to use the rest room and didn't bother to come back. More than half the audience left halfway through and didn't come back. They were just out in the big room milling about looking at the rows of guitars and things that they already saw earlier, rather than go in and watch Eric play - even for FREE!

"....and that's at a GUITAR show where people came specifically because they were interested in guitars and guitarists - and even THEY didn't appreciate EJ as much as I would have expected. They couldn't care less about hearing him - even for free. Even when all they had to do was wander into the next room!"

So the best guitar player living, with a solid backlist of hits can't hold the interest of people who you would think would be the target audience -- where does that leave a "new" artist?

but that is beside the point.

My friend finally sent me a note.
"I hold nothing against you. You did exactly what I asked. I don't feel anything negative toward you. My sadness was all based on me. On my lack of talent or ability or value in the one area that matters to me. It had nothing to do with you."

It has nothing to do with me?
then why do I feel like I killed him?

So I ask you. How much of what you do know can or should you share with another person?

I did what he asked -- but it turns out what he wanted was corraboration, which 75% of the time is what anyone is asking for when they ask for advice / opinions.

Since you've read down this far I will confess I was very hurt he would ask me to do this -- give him an emotionally divorced objective review on this music -- since 10 of the 12 songs were written about or for...
and the worms crawl out...
fool he was to ask;
fool I was, to answer.


I posted it here because it does bring a good deal of my outlook on life into view -- me, not A.A., lol. I can just see her answer:

You seem to have learned through this experience: Experience, dear, is what we get when we get what we don't want.

I'm sure hindsight has given you a different thought of how you might have handled this. I believe a simple, "Are you fucking kidding ME!? I am recused!" would have trimmed the air from his sails and saved you a good deal of pain.

Absolutes are best reserved for your diary or poetry, Jeen Lilly. It's obvious you knew on some level that this would be damaging and perhaps you felt you had his best interests at heart by giving him such an ice cicle enema. But as you implied, (and I would imagine by the "worms" line) the heat was out of your relationship anyway.

Were you both looking for the final cut, I wonder?...

really -- no one should ever ask / beg for the absolute truth from a loved one; and if you love someone, there should be no possible way to remove all personal feelings from an answer. My friend invoked my intellectual vanity: and that same vanity smote him but good.
Just because you're smart doesn't mean you can't be a total dumb-ass at the same time.