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Open Window Season and The Lonely Bullfrog

March 27, 2011 6 comments

So, you didn’t think we had seasons here in Florida? Bah! Of course we do!

We have “Hot” season and “Not Hot” season (I don’t dare call it Cold for fear of being laughed at) and sometimes we get really lucky and have something wonderful in between. I call it “Open Window Season”, that brief period when the breezes blow cool enough to trigger neither the heat nor the air conditioning.

At night during Open Window season, I lie awake and listen to the sounds of the pond out in back. All manner of creatures are waking up from their hibernation, rehearsing their little songs in preparation for the full-on Hot Season cacophony that can rouse the comatose even through closed windows. I swear there is a conductor out there who starts and stops the chorus as he pleases and only seems to want to perfom “O Fortuna” from Orff’s “Carmina Burana”.

The sounds during Open Window season are shy, as if no one dares be the first to sing a wrong note. They sound croaky and rusty and the prima donna peepers don’t seem to have shown up yet; something is distinctly missing in the treble register. Still, the altos and tenors manage a silly warm-up full of self-conscious giggling.

But there is one big frog out there, a basso profundo whose voice is so deep and robust that everyone else stops singing when he starts. I imagine their little froggy faces, mouths agape, looking at each other with wide eyes whispering “Who’s THAT?” It makes me think of those times in our little New England church when my vocally gifted mezzo-soprano sister would show up and put the rest of us to such shame that we hid our faces behind our hymnals. We didn’t dare let her hear our croaking.

I listen to that bullfrog out there, belting out his deep brassy tones, and I feel a little sorry for him. Perhaps he was a boy soprano last year and he is simply trying to join in the joyful noises of his old friends. The size of his voice is like the adolescent boy who grew 5 sizes bigger than his friends over the summer and doesn’t know how to adjust his changed voice to match theirs. He feels like a big buffoon. Maybe to hide his righteous shame, he has become a “bully-frog” and uses his voice to drown out the others on purpose.

He sounds so lonely…

But slowly, one after another, the tiny frogs begin to sing again, beeping and squawking and nyuk-nyuk-nyuking until the big bullfrog is invited back into their chorus, his voice again blending into their song and bringing a depth they hadn’t imagined from him before.

I love Open Window rehearsal season. It allows me to get to know the singers and familiarize myself with their repertoire so that I can appreciate their crazy concerts that keep me awake during the hot summer nights.

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Ferris Bueller Never Actually Took a Day Off

February 8, 2011 1 comment

Disclaimer: There will be college bashing in this episode….

I know, I know…. you think that just because I didn’t finish college I have an axe to grind, since that’s all some feel I am qualified to do. Well, maybe, that’s part of it, but this is more than just a rant, even though I’ve lost out on corporate promotions to peers eminently less qualified simply because I didn’t have credentials equal to their Physical Education degrees. This is actually an appeal to the gods of creativity to come out of hiding and speak up!

I learned two new things today  (despite the fact that I didn’t finish college and learning is more challenging for me :D):

1. The mystery about which Chicago Cubs game Ferris Bueller and his friends went to in the movie has finally been solved. I must admit I’m relieved to have that crossed off my list of things to wonder about.

and:

2. James Altucher compiled a list called “8 Things Your Kids Should Do Instead of Going To College“. Having had this very conversation at lunch today, I checked it out. Here are the 8 magical things:

1. Start a business

2. Travel the world

3. Create art

4. Make people laugh

5. Write a book

6. Work in a charity

7. Master a game

8. Master a sport

Dang! I could have told you all that and made millions myself instead of him! I don’t even know the guy but I’m intrigued by his postulation. (See, even some of us drop-outs know big words too)

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off ” made a modern-day hero out of a brilliant goofball kid who showed us the value of being on the ball and thinking creatively to get where we want to go. It also illustrated the profound boredom engendered by the school curricula mandated by state and federal governments. Though the movie doesn’t reveal to us his life beyond that day, we can pretty much assume that his wealthy family was able to send him to one of the best colleges in the country, which likely did little to prepare him for life any more than he was already prepared by the time he was 12.

Mr. Altucher’s list isn’t meant to discourage people from going to college at all (he’s a college grad himself), but rather, it suggests that many kids, most of them, would benefit from “trying out the world” first. At a time when their financial liabilities are at the lowest point they’ll probably ever be, he advocates experimenting with ideas that they’ve never tried or considered. When they have a better sense of who they are and what drives them, THEN they should go to college.

I couldn’t agree more.

College has become insanely expensive and these days there is little, if any, payoff for the graduate. A degree used to be assurance of a place in the job market but not anymore. Today, if you don’t have the creative wherewithal of a Ferris Bueller, you’re likely sitting “with your thumb in your bum and your brain in neutral” (as my college-educated daddy used to say) while you wait for the job market to open up and offer you a place in the system of life. If the next step isn’t flashing right in front of you and there isn’t someone giving you permission to take it, you’re likely blinded by the light. For those who have followed the aligned steps into adulthood already, worked hard, and ended up losing everything anyway, it’s even harder to reconcile that slap in the face.

With these realities in mind, why do we encourage young people to get themselves into a financial hole so early on? Why is it necessary for an 18-year-old to know what direction they’re going to take for the rest of their lives the minute they step out of their high school cap & gown? Would that $20,000 first semester tuition payment be any less fruitfully spent taking a year or two to try out those ideas they’ve had? At a point in their lives when success or failure has far fewer consequences, wouldn’t this be the time to attempt them and learn the realities so that college will afford them the direction they seek?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for knowledge, and in the age of the Internet it’s at my fingertips any time I want. Heck, I don’t even have to go to the library anymore! So why am I required to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to squander four years of my youth being filled up with largely useless (to me) knowledge in order to be considered valuable to society? Wouldn’t it be better if I understood who I am and what I have to offer before trying to stick me in a spot where I clearly don’t fit?

Today, I looked at art that I waited my lifetime to create and had the incomparable payoff of hearing people praise it.  I’d probably be laughed right out of a gallery, but someone actually paid me money to paint something that is bringing people pleasure. No college diploma would ever have offered me that sense of satisfaction.

I have yet to travel the world, write a book, or master a game. I’ll get right on that.

Or maybe I’ll just call up Ferris and James and see if they want to take in a ball game.

Fritzi is SUCH a Hedonist!

June 28, 2010 8 comments

So, let me tell you a little more about myself. I know you’re interested!

Have you ever met someone and thought to yourself, “That girl just needs to have more fun!

That’s the very thought I had when I met Ellen. It was all I could do not to just go right up to her and slap her and yell “SNAP OUT OF IT!!!

Instead, I grabbed a set of pearls, a headband, a dress and some fabulous gloves and I kidnapped her! That’s right — she never even saw me coming…

You see, I’m just the kind of person she despises — or thinks she does. Ellen is a PK. That’s code for “Preacher’s Kid“. I don’t think she’s religious exactly… I don’t even think her family is very religious. She’s just RIGID! She’s like one of those women from Puritan days, judging everybody and saying “tut-tut” to every expression of FUN… I just couldn’t stand to watch it anymore.

If you’ve ever heard of the book “Sacred Contracts” by Caroline Myss, you know about her theory that we are made up of archtypes; different aspects of our personalities that tend to fall into distinct categories. I, Fritzi, am a total Hedonist. As Caroline describes it, the Hedonist:

“has an appetite for the pleasurable aspects of life, from good food and wine to sexuality and sensuality.”

Caroline goes on to correct a common misperception:

“That the Hedonist is generally thought of as someone who pursues extremes of self-indulgence is more a reflection of our Puritan heritage than of the archetype itself. In positive terms, it inspires creative energy in the psyche to embrace the “good” things in life. It also challenges in a positive way the collective archetypal fear of being seduced and losing control in the physical world.”

That’s what Ellen has been missing! She’d been so busy denying me that she’d gone completely in the other direction!

So I had to just take over for her.

“Darling,” I said, “What are you hiding from? What do you think will happen if you let loose and have fun?”

Without giving her a chance to answer, I gave her my outfit and just shoved her out on the stage.

You should have seen her! If I’d known it would be that easy I would have done it years ago!

So I challenge all of you Hedonists out there to do what you do best! Find those cramped up, cringing, scowling characters and take them out for

A NIGHT THEY’LL NEVER FORGET!

Categories: Entertainment, Good Stuff, Life

Ideological Hoarding

April 2, 2010 1 comment

I’m not a fan of reality shows. In fact, I really hate ’em…. Especially the ones with half-naked people performing pointless tasks like drinking gross stuff mixed up in a blender or bouncing off giant inflatables, or singing and dancing not nearly as well as people who have been doing it without much recognition for years — all for the sake of TV ratings.

Recently, though, I happened on a fairly new show called “Hoarders” on A&E. This program follows people whose inability to part with “stuff” has actually been classified as a mental disorder. Their homes have become firetraps and health hazards and their pathology has invaded other aspects of their lives as they hold onto bits of string, broken motor parts, old magazines, and any number of things that they “might need someday” even though they can’t possibly find them if they do. An organizational therapist comes in to work with the person and with the help of volunteers, they attempt to help dig through the clutter to find some semblance of order and help the person part with items that have begun to bury them alive.

It soon becomes apparent that despite the well-intentioned help of friends and family, the pace of the adjustment is too much. The hoarder desperately attempts to hang on to these items of comfort that no longer serve — they wind up right back where they were. The same phenomenon happens with obese people who lose weight and then gain it all back — and then some. But that’s a whole other story…

When the therapist asked what kept them from throwing things out and getting organized, the hoarders explained that they sought perfection in all of their efforts. It they couldn’t arrange things just so, they didn’t want to attempt it. They’d rather leave it until later when they felt assured that they could complete the task perfectly. Intellectually, they knew that there was no such thing as perfection but they couldn’t convince their brains that middle ground was acceptable.

As I watched these scenes unfold, I began to replace in my mind the circumstances and players with the current political atmosphere in our country, and I wondered if there is such a thing as “ideological hoarding”…

I’ve heard it said that our country is as politically polarized right now as it has probably ever been. Why is this? What cataclysm has happened to drive us so fearfully away from each other? In the past it seems that despite tensions on either end of the divide, there was still a strong middle keeping the rope from breaking. But now it seems the rope is unraveling a strand at a time and few of us can articulate why.

From a hoarding perspective, it seems we have devolved from a healthy sense of values and morality in our own lives to becoming pathologically worried about everyone else’s. The distances that used to divide us are gone and we are in each other’s faces 24/7. China is as close as Tennessee and I can talk to people in Australia more easy than I can talk to my own mother. We’ve adopted an “objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear” mentality, certain that our enemies are breathing down our necks at all times.

In order to cope with this panic, some turn to the comfort of thinking that there ever has been a time of perfection in this country. They are tempted to see the people, ideas, and objects of the past as somehow ideal when in reality, there was often more to fear then than there is now.

So they’re grasping at and gathering up all their ideas of what safety is, what prosperity is, and mindlessly hoping that being surrounded by these obsolete representations of comfort will make them happy. They are so irrationally certain that someone is out to take their stuff away that they simply gather more and more and more. They become blinded with rage that someone is questioning their reasons to have allegiance to their stuff that they become even more committed to it. They begin to hoard their beliefs.

On some level, we all do this. Our lifetimes of learning and world views established by our circumstances have left each of us with our own expectations of how things should be. We think that unless we convince everyone else that our way is the right way, we won’t have accomplished anything.

Yet it is in letting go of our ratty security blankets, allowing the spaces in our “mental homes” to open up and let the moving air dry up the toxic molds and send the asthma-producing dust bunnies on their way, that we create an atmosphere for growth. We need never forget the times and places in our lives that gave us comfort. We need simply to believe that all things are perfect just as they are.

If we could have it all cleared away — our memories, our learning, our lifetime experiences and expectations and those of others that we’ve taken on for ourselves — what would we have left? What would we seek out to hold onto? Would we find freedom in the wide-open spaces of our psyches or would we again seek to bury ourselves in repetitive habits and ideas that send us right back where we were?

For me, I will question myself each day to see if I am irrationally holding onto things that anesthetize me yet hold no real value. I will go through my boxes of memories and fondly place the items in the scrapbook of my soul then send them on their way. From this unobstructed place I’ve created I will look at the world around me and attempt to mold a new ideology that allows me to keep only what is necessary and discard the rest. I’ll not fall so deeply in love with my own things and ideas that I don’t recognize the need to give them up for the sake of someone else.

But don’t anybody else try to throw my stuff away…. I’LL DO IT MYSELF!!! Really, I will, just as soon as I make sure there’s nothing that I might need to keep in case I decide to build that thing that I was thinking of  that will make me a million bucks so that I can save all the starving people in Africa because they’re counting on me to get it just right and… (trails off mumbling to herself as she starts creating a new box to put all the pieces of loose string, etc….)

Angry Christmas

December 7, 2009 3 comments

Yesterday, Mama Nance leaned over from the seat right next to me at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, and in her loudest voice yelled right into my ear, “This doesn’t sound like holiday music to me — it sounds like ANGRY CHRISTMAS!!”

I don’t know where I got the idea that the Trans-Siberian Orchestra is nice holiday music. I don’t know where half the audience got that idea either, because there were young kids in attendance with their Christmas sweaters and Santa hats on, covering their tender ears. If I was confused about the intent of the program, it must have been completely beyond them.

The seizure-inspiring laser show and hell-fire pyrotechnics were about as far from Christmas as I’ve ever imagined. Mid-stream, a new piece from their latest album featured helicopters on 20 different monitors blowing things up as the fire machines on the stage gushed flames as from the mouths of dragons. The temperature in the arena (gratefully) rose about 20 degrees by the time the song was over.

I’ve never been a heavy metal fan though I know there are plenty in my age group who are. For those in the audience who like it, I’m sure it was a great show, but now I understand why half my peers can’t hear a word I say most of the time.

If I look at this more symbolically, it does represent something deeper this year.

I looked around at the mostly middle-aged audience, drinking beer and snapping pictures with their camera phones, some subtly doing head-banging movements with their scalps now shaved short to disguise the lack of hair that probably went through a stage of being at least shoulder-length at one time. Gyrating beside their little mouth-breathers, rock’n’roll dreams danced like sugar plums in their eyes as they tried to pass on a tradition to their children that once meant so much to them.

Maybe I was just born old or maybe I was raised to eschew this sort of display of “music”, but a small part of me thinks that perhaps I missed something in never having learned to appreciate the raw connection this sound makes with my very innards, shaking and rattling them with sonic force, appealing so violently to every sense that I could almost forget that all my pieces were integrated in one body.

And maybe this is a good representation of what the world is like right now. There is so much anger and disappointment floating around this Christmas, disconnection from the comfortable sense of integration we are used to, and the relief is in exploiting this powerful feeling of  powerlessness — letting go for an afternoon, releasing the need to acknowledge the holidays as something lovely and heart-warming. For some people, it’s simply not this year and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra knows how to musically illustrate the discomfort with their over-the-top performances.

The only other place I can imagine being as dark, loud, and full of fire is a place most fear spending eternity. But yesterday, we got to experience it and still walk away, our body parts surprisingly intact. Maybe this is how we’ll feel next Christmas when we re-emerge from the place we are in this year.

I probably wouldn’t have said so yesterday, but there was value in experiencing a TSO concert. But next time I’ll remember to wear earplugs!

Losing Control of Good Intentions

December 3, 2009 3 comments

“Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone… They paved Paradise and put up a parking lot….” — Joni Mitchell

Doesn’t it always seem to happen that, what seemed like a good idea at the time mutates into a monster once others catch on?

Take Tiger Woods, for example (if there’s still a piece of him left in the scrap heap that his life is rapidly becoming). I try like heck not to get caught up in media frenzies, but if I’m going to partake of any media, I have little choice. The news is everywhere….

This phenomenal young talent was thrust into the spotlight well before he was mature enough to handle it and we have the gall to chastise him for being immature. Now he’s gone and done what so many celebrities fall prey to by involving himself in “relations outside of marriage”.

And then there’s my friend Sarah Palin who has everything Janet Reno didn’t: good looks, charisma, star power. But in contrast, she lacks everything Janet Reno had: brains, education, experience. Palin is a feminist’s worst nightmare, even though she represents in some ways all the things that feminists fought for the freedom to be.

This is where the mutation happens.

In one of my previous lifetimes (I’m living them all concurrently in this one), I was a sales rep for a natural products distributor to independent natural food stores. The old hippies had found a way to create a socialistic system of acquiring whole and organic foods to share among their friends and neighbors. But as with all such good ideas, people grew weary of those late night clandestine meetings where they’d split up 100-pound bags of flour and scoop thick oily peanut butter into containers. Like most average Americans, they decided they just wanted to be able to go into a store and buy it like normal people did. So they opened retail store fronts in an effort to change the world and get people to start eating healthy food.

Still, they were on the fringe. Those so-called “normal” people wouldn’t dream of setting foot in such an establishment, often dingy, dirty, smelling of incense. They struggled to attract customers in order to sell the quantities of products necessary to be able to get the best prices. Antithetical to their mission, they ended up throwing a lot of stuff away.

But then things changed. Someone finally figured out that the only way to get people to eat healthy food was to offer it to them in a way that felt familiar — in a big grocery store format. Suddenly, people who would never have considered eating tofu or wheat germ were exploring these venues. Sales started to boom.

The dirty little stores cried foul. “Hey, this was our idea!” they complained. “WE were going to change the world!” Little did they know that they had changed the world but not in the way they’d intended. It was the existence of these big stores that helped the little ones survive by exposing the public to products they would never have known about. In turn, they created a demand that allowed suppliers to lower prices so that shoppers could more easily purchase the better quality food. People then started exploring the little stores and enjoying the personal service they couldn’t get at the big stores, as long as the little ones were able to remove the giant chips they had developed on their shoulders and take advantage of the free advertising. Not all could do it.

Back in my present life, I look at the conundrum that is Sarah Palin and wonder, Where did feminism go wrong? How did our good idea get hijacked?

The days of defiant fist-waving are over. Victoria’s Secret now has to rely on the sale of lacy undergarments to powerful, confident women who actually wear them rather than burn them. Untamed body hair no longer represents solidarity but rather, “ewwww!”…. We’ve gotten what we wanted — so why are we mad that a woman is being taken seriously as a politician despite the fact that she looks like Yukon Barbie?

Because of the mutation factor.

What started out as good intentions about changing the world has come to fruition but not the way we imagined it would. It’s not the crunchy-granola, sea-salt-of-the-earth version we envisioned. Instead, it’s an antiseptic, shiny floored, health department monitored example of everything we were working against.

If you’ve ever eaten a piece of organic fruit, if you made it past the often repulsive-looking exterior, you know the flavor, nutrients, and sense of holistic care for yourself and the planet cannot possibly be matched by a shiny, blemish-free, dye-colored specimen.

Maybe, like the big box natural food stores, Sarah Palin has hit on something we’ve been ignoring. People want packaging. They want to be surrounded by safe walls, whether they are churches, stores, or ideas. They’ve grown accustomed to a certain level of assurance that the food they eat, the politicians they elect, come with a reasonable guarantee of “good looks and cleanliness”. They are entranced by shiny objects….

But most of us will never get past this need for packaging. We won’t experience the substance and depth of character to be found in the quiet, unassuming person (or the intense flavor of an ugly-ass apple) who will not hog the spotlight, who will not erase the rough edges for the sake of popularity, who will not wear a recognizable uniform. We won’t feed ourselves with the nutrients that ensure long-term good health for ourselves or our country. Instead, we’ll continue to stuff ourselves with the empty calories found in the ostensibly beautiful.

And most of us will never know the pressure of excessive media attention, the merciless scrutiny of a pathetic public desperately wanting to think that there’s more underneath that lovely exterior, unrepentantly digging into the dark recesses of our lives and daring to be disappointed at what they find. Tiger Woods will never know what it’s like not to be there, and Sarah Palin will forever change the way we see feminism — Dammit!!

Marion Loguidice

September 25, 2009 1 comment

maybe“Transcendental girl” (pictured at left) hasn’t had much to say lately. I guess it’s time to call her out again…..

I got “friended” on Facebook the other day by a woman who took advantage of our mutual connection to Caroline Myss as a way to promote her music. At first I thought, how brazen of her to use this as a means of self-promotion, but then I thought, how clever! And I realized that I, in fact, have done the same thing in the past.

Marion Loguidice wrote in her message that Caroline had given her the push she needed to get out there and share herself and her music with the world. I had once received a similar shove , so I could appreciate the significance and it gave me a different sense of Marion’s motivations.

So without further ado, check out this gorgeous bit of singing and songwriting. Congratulations, Marion, and I wish you the best of success in sharing your soul with the world!

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