Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Search end to petty bickering

It's Sunday, and if it's must be politics, and all anyone seems to be talking about is the President's pick for Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor. So let's get started.

This Week with George Stephanopoulos spent almost the entirety of the show talking about Judge Sotomayor - is she a reverse racist, should a remark in a speech she made carry that much weight, does or should her ethnicity, gender, and background really matter or is it the letter of the law that truly matters, and will she adhere to the letter of the law? If I didn't already have a migraine, I would have gotten one. And maybe because I do have a migraine, I'm less prone to beat around the bush.

Gender and race don't matter at all...if you're a white male, ruling on the side of white males or big business. Background doesn't matter at all...if you'll side with the majority opinion on abortion or gay rights. Who are we kidding? We didn't all of a sudden become altruistic in our line of questioning, so let me sum it up - while what she has said in letters and speeches matter, they only matter to the degree of insight into her thinking. Her rulings are ultimately the bottom line. And as far as how many of her decisions have been overturned by the Supreme Court, we need to know how that stacks up against how many decisions as a whole are overturned by the Supreme Court. Are hers overturned at a higher rate or lower rate than everyone else's? What do her judgments say about how she would rule in future cases? That matters. Everything else, her style or temperament, her "story," who cares? I don't.

I found it mildly disheartening that this was all that was talked about, when there were actually other important things going on in the world - like North Korea doing more nuclear testing, for instance. Am I the only one concerned that Kim Jong-Il is a crazy man...with nuclear weapons? Shouldn't we all be trying to figure out how to deal with this dilemma, you know, the one where both being nice and inviting him to have a seat at the table doesn't work any better than cutting him off? Poor Hillary Clinton, she ages exponentially every time I see her now.

And GM, the now bankrupt, government owned car company. This is where I differ from my President's opinion. I still say, let them fail. A new car company will emerge that will be able to meet the energy efficient needs of the times we live in. It is the only way there will be a viable auto industry in the U.S.

Lastly, the two opposing lawyers in Bush v. Gore have joined forces to try to take the whole gay marriage debate to the Supreme Court. Talk about a mutually beneficial alliance! I think this is a big mistake at this time, and you know I am in favor of equality under the law for every citizen. But my fear is that if they do this now, at a time where more and more states are working it out for themselves legislatively in favor of it, and they lose, this will set gay marriage back for more years than it would have been had it been able to play out on its own. In addition, the more states that pass favorable legislation, and the more scientific advancement we make that may indicate an actual gene or genetic make up, the more ammunition there would be for a future court case. So in summation, I think these lawyers are prematurely looking for some quick publicity and don't have the best interest of their clients at heart. I would like to be wrong about that, by the way, but today that's the way I see it.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Search of...answered prayers

I've been thinking a lot about prayer lately. So many of us are not inclined toward it until we find ourselves in a pickle...and I don't mean your average, ordinary pickle. I mean the kind that requires divine intervention and/or a miracle. When things are going well and everyone we love is fine, we mention the occasional "I'm so grateful" or "I'm blessed" as our acknowledgment to the Big Guy, but that's more to ward off the bad things that are undoubtedly lurking in the wings waiting to happen to us than it is out of genuine gratitude. At least that's what it seems like to me.

What got me thinking about prayer are the two people I know with cancer who had surgery today. One is a friend who has traveled cross country to hear me perform whenever I do and who continues to help find me work when music isn't paying all my bills. The other is more of an acquaintance, but one I've known for more than a decade nevertheless. In both cases I have found myself doing the proverbial pleading with God to make things better for them, to make the cancer disappear, or at the very least not be fatal. It seems like a thing worthy of asking for. But it got me thinking - about the power of prayer, why we do it, and the benefits of it.

I try not to give God my laundry list of requests, thinking He will grant me some things and not others. That seems to me like the view of a child waiting for a parent to come along and fix the toy that they themselves just broke...or like waiting for Santa to show up with presents at Christmas. It doesn't come from a place of maturity or personal responsibility. That's why it makes no sense to me when people pray to God for an end to war. War is man made, so I don't think God's going to step in and do what we are unwilling to do for ourselves. The best intervention we can hope for there is a change of heart...and actually, that's no small feat. And while we're on the subject, I'm pretty certain God could care less about who wins any particular sporting event.

I'm inclined to believe that prayer at it's highest is about calling forth those qualities in ourselves that we most desire and require to move forward, but are not quite sure we possess. I think it's about taking a breath and reconnecting with the Source from which we all emanate. It's about knowing there is a power larger than ourselves, but of which we are a part. Therefore, at its best, prayer is about knowing that we are not the be all and end all...and yet it is about harnessing the Godlike qualities that we do possess but rarely use. It's a chance to relinquish what is beyond our control, but call into being what is in our control that we haven't been using. It gives us a feeling of doing something in situations in which the reality is that we're helpless. It is the gasp of air that keeps us alive when we would otherwise be drowning in the sea of our own predicaments.

The power of prayer is a scientifically studied phenomenon at this point. I remember years ago reading about a study of two groups of AIDS patients who were considered terminal. One group had people all over the world praying for them and the other did not. The group that was prayed for lived decidedly longer, with no other distinguishable variables than that. I thought that was amazing, but not particularly surprising. Do I think that God forgot about or ignored the people for whom no one was praying? No, but I think that prayer is focused energy which, combined with our own energy, can heal, transform, and in this case prolong lives. And that in itself is nothing short of a miracle. Do I think there's God in that? Yes, most definitely.

So here's what I'm going to do, and I invite you to join me - take a moment out of each day and pray. Maybe it's a prayer of thanksgiving for life itself. Maybe it's sending a loving thought to a sick friend and harnessing that Godlike energy we possess so that they can heal or be comfortable and at peace if it's time for them to move on. Maybe it's taking a moment to envision the world as it was originally created - with more than enough of all that is good to go around.

Whatever your prayers are, I hope that they are answered in ways that exceed your expectations. I hope that you call forth in yourselves, and that I call forth in myself, the qualities that grant the answers to all our prayers.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Monday, May 25, 2009

In Search of...disappearing blog entries and a good barbeque

Last night I came home in a weird mood...which is not necessarily the best time to blog. So if you happened to read a blog entry involving secret passwords that was posted for about ten hours but has since disappeared, you are not hallucinating. It was there, but in the bright light of day I thought better of it. So there it is, my first blog retraction.

Today is Memorial Day, a day to honor those who have defended our country and lost their lives while doing so. It will be filled with parades and heartfelt, somber speeches, and later there will be barbeques - a tradition whose origin has little to do with fallen heroes, but is uniquely American nonetheless. In every town across this great land of ours people (the ones who are still lucky enough to own their homes) will be congregating and doing what we Americans do best - eating. There will be hot dogs and hamburgers, chicken and potato salad. Children will be running around, and American flags will be waiving in more places than usual.

But despite all this fun and frolicking, and despite the grandeur, there will be those for whom the meaning of this holiday is not lost to gluttony and one day sales. There are those whose hearts are aching for the sons and daughters, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers they lost, and those whose futures are uncertain.

While I am a big fan of courage, bravery, and valor, I am not a big fan of war. I do not think war is noble, I think it is a waste of human potential. I think it caters to our baser instincts, while our higher ones lie dormant. I think the best way we can honor those whose sacrifice enable our current freedom is to find our way to peace. This is not some idealistic fantasy I have. Well, maybe given the current state of the world, it is, but I don't believe that those in past generations who lost their lives in battle did so so that future generations could lose their lives in battle too. I think they wanted something better. And so I think that the best way we can honor them is to actually do something better.

I think we owe it to ourselves and our children to look for an alternative to bombs and bloodshed. I think that it's important to sit down and genuinely listen to one another, even when we vehemently disagree. I think that the act of civility, even if it seems like we're pretending at it for a while, will bring about real civility. I think that we will never know true peace as long as war remains a viable option.

Yes, I'm doing the equivalent of singing Kumbaya around a campfire right now. But somebody needs to. Someone needs to think there should be a Memorial day in the future where no new names are added to the list of the fallen. And I'm that person. I think we should honor our military by keeping them alive.

However you choose to spend your Memorial Day, I hope you have a great one.

Peace and Blessings to you. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In Search of...wait, first I need more coffee

I woke up this morning knowing it was Sunday - politics day on my blog. The only thing is it's been politics as usual this week.

We've seen Cheney give a press conference, trying to scare the crap out of the American people, we saw Obama sign a credit card bill into law - which I'll get back to in a minute, and then give his own press conference to basically try and shift the focus back to the current administration, and we heard speculation and grumbling about potential Supreme Court nominees. So really, what's new? And, oh yeah, California is bankrupt.

I don't know about you, but I really wish Dick Cheney would just go back to shooting his friends in the face and leave the rest of us alone. He has nothing constructive to add. In fact, he was the chief orchestrator of all the messes we're in now, so I think it's time he takes all his ill gotten Halliburton oil money that was procured at the expense of human lives, and go stimulate the economy by shopping mail order from a distant rocking chair somewhere far, far away where no reporters can pick up his mumbling. We're done with you, Dick.

As for the credit card bill - it's about time! Enforcing it is going to be interesting, but this is what is necessary to at least begin to restructure our entire economy. All the crazy interest rates, and changes in interest rates, and applying your monthly payment to the lowest instead of the highest interest rate, and then doing away with the lowest so that you can never pay it off must be stopped. It's ridiculous. The banking industry is arguing that they'll lose money to the point where they won't be able to extend credit, and frankly this is just silly. While it's true that they may have to stop extending credit to a college sophomore who wants a flat screen for their dorm room and has no means of paying it back, it is also true that for responsible people who would rather pay off their debt than default, it will remove the stranglehold imposed by impossible interest rates and fees and increase the banks' chances of actual payback. This means that everyone will have to live more responsibly - both the consumer as well as the banking industry, and that is a very good thing.

Now to the Supreme Court debate. Frankly, I don't know the names and positions of the short list that's being considered, however - and I'm just putting it out there - I hope whoever it is is a young and healthy pro-choice, civil liberties loving, environmentally friendly constitutional scholar with integrity and tenacity beyond question. I hope they are wise and discerning, principled and competent. I hope they bring not only the fair and reasonable application of law to the table, but also their better angels. That is my hope for the future of the Supreme Court and of our country. Come to think of it, I wish all our elected officials would bring the same things, but that's unlikely since anyone can run for office.

California, oh California. Is it more bankrupt than the rest of the states because it's bigger? I can't imagine that the state that houses Disneyland and the gazillion dollar film industry has no money. Perhaps I should actually do some investigating before commenting on this. Hey, that's a great idea! Maybe the media should do that as well from time to time! Speaking of which, wouldn't I be a great guest on George Stephanopoulos's round table?! I have no credentials but a great deal of sarcasm, and I think that should count for something. So George, come a gal a favor.

While I go investigate California's financial woes, I want to thank all of you trusty readers for getting my little stat counter past the one thousand mark. I'm feeling wildly optimistic about it, so thank you so much for stopping by, and please tell your friends.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Search of...a season finale

I'm starting this blog entry first by telling you that I believe the issues about leaving comments have been addressed and that now anyone and everyone should be able to do it easily. Yay!!! So please feel free to test this out so I can know for sure that we're good now. Hey, it only took me a couple of months!

Now to the more pressing matter at hand - all my TV shows are done for the season. The good news is that reading gets to make a come back as those who are like me turn off their televisions and visit the library again. I love summer reading, especially when I'm not missing Dancing with the Stars or American Idol to do it.

So, in what seemed to me to be a shocker in both cases, Shawn Johnson won Dancing with the Stars and Kris Allen won American Idol. Granted, Shawn was way less of a shock than Kris, her being an Olympic athlete and all, but still weren't we all betting on Gilles and Adam?? I was...which is a good reason I don't gamble much on these types of things. And actually, my bet from the start of Idol was on Danny to win.

Before we all get too sad and weepy for Gilles and Melissa on Dancing, let's just remember that the trophy means...well gosh, it means nothing really. Exposure is everything in Hollywood, and they've both gotten plenty of that, so I think they'll be just fine. Besides, I think that straight women and gay men can all agree that we'd like to see more of Gilles' butt on the screen, and Hollywood never ceases to give the public what they want, so Gilles' work has just begun.

Back to singing. You know I love me my Adam Lambert, so believe me when I say he's going to be just fine. Actually, he's going to be better than fine. I have no idea what the contractual obligations are for any of the American Idol contestants, but I'd have to think that if you win you're more tied up than if you come in second. I think Adam was too big a talent for that show to begin with, but gratefully the show was the vehicle to give him the exposure and opportunity he both needed and deserved. I think Adam will be bigger than Elvis, though his wardrobe last night was somewhere between Queen and Liberace, but that's not the point. The point is that his talent, theatricality, and charisma are a gift from God that he seems to know how to use for maximum impact. And I, for one, cannot wait to see and hear him in concert when he goes solo. (I can't do the AI concert. Have you ever heard thousands of little girls between the ages of 7 and 14 screaming for a few hours straight? I don't have the kind of time it would take to recover.)

And Kris. Here's what I love about Kris. He absolutely knows he's not the best singer. He doesn't dodge it, he doesn't pretend he is, he doesn't even make believe for a minute that he can compete with Adam. But what he is is a great musician and arranger. He's the guy that probably sits around for hours and hours playing any and every song in every genre, and because he's done that, he's comfortable doing just about anything. Not only does he know who he is, but he takes whatever he's doing and makes it his own. And that makes him an artist....which, by the way, has absolutely nothing to do with why he won American Idol. He won American Idol because he's a cute, non-threatening, straight white boy who will never rock the boat and can sing pretty well. He'll have a career, maybe even a good career if he chooses wisely and promotes like hell, but he won't be a Daughtry or an Adam Lambert. I think in five years or ten at the most, we won't remember his name. I'd like to be wrong, by the way because I wish everyone success and I like him just fine, but only time will tell.

And can we just talk about the new single for a minute??? Rivers, mountains, hurricanes...blah, blah, blah. Kara seems like a nice enough person to me, but just once I'd like for the AI single to be something great. The only AI single I even remember is Kelly Clarkson's and that was eight years ago! Come on, people!!

I haven't even gotten to talk about my other favorite shows and their cliffhangers - like Grey's, and the Desperate Housewives, and Brothers & Sisters. Grey's totally kept me on the edge of my seat and did a phenomenal job of having a surprise twist at the end with George. I still can't believe it! Does anyone know if it's definite that Izzy and George are not coming back?? I keep hoping that they'll stay because, frankly, I might be done with Grey's if Katherine Heigl is gone. She's the most amazing actress on the show and one of the few characters I have any emotional investment in.

Okay, Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters - totally disappointing. No big surprises, no emotional endings. And Kitty, for God's sake, stop whining already!!! Uggghhh!!! If I were Rob Lowe's character, I wouldn't be trying so hard to stay married to her. She's a whiner.

Well, that's my wrap up. Here's hoping next season is a good one for all these shows. I'm off to the library.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

In Search of...nice people

It is a well known fact that people in the music business do not have a reputation for being genuinely or particularly nice. This has been the case long before Simon Cowell ever entered into our psyches, however, he has been the poster child for the past several years. Of course, that's not including Phil Spector who finally got convicted of second degree murder. I think we can all pretty much agree that Phil is not playing with the same deck of cards as the rest of us. Anyway, I've lamented about it, I've vented about it, I've whined about it, and I've hoped beyond hope that I would not become one of "those people."

I'm not sure that society as a whole has really given the idea of being "nice" as much consideration as I have. That sort of seemed taken off the table since the inception of the TV show Survivor, which appears to be a good benchmark for the downfall of our civilization as we knew it. For that matter, I feel fairly certain that the absence of nice people has permeated every type of profession, and not just my own. I might have thought I was alone in this observation were it not for watching Oprah yesterday. (Yes, I watch Oprah. That's what I do.) She had the finale of her worldwide search for talented kids. And though the kids were talented, that wasn't what blew me away.

As her little co-host, Oprah had an adorable girl from a previous show she had done, and that adorable little girl wanted to learn to play the guitar and write Taylor Swift. (Fortunately for said adorable little girl, I was not there to dissuade her from a life of struggle and heartache, but I digress.) So Oprah, being Oprah, had Taylor Swift come out and give her a guitar to get started on. And then Oprah asked Taylor if she had any advice for all these young, talented kids. Here's where the mind blowing part came for me. Taylor Swift's advice was to "be nice to everyone."

Now I know that the bigger ramifications of that statement were completely lost on those talented kids, but they were not lost on me. And the fact that a nineteen year old was saying it, and making a point of it, meant that it is not the norm in this business and that fact is not lost on her, even at nineteen.

I felt at once validated and saddened. Is this what we've come to - we have to remind people to be nice? Really?? We have to remind them to be nice to everyone and not just some people because otherwise they'll just be nice to the ones they deem important or worthy of their niceness??

I can only hope that those talented kids, the studio audience, and Oprah's TV audience at large took that to heart as I did. So let's remember that the next time we're impatiently waiting on line at the grocery store, or the next time a car wants to move into our lane, or the next time we meet someone new. Let's remember what nineteen year old Taylor Swift said and be nice.

Thanks for stopping by, nice people. Please tell your friends.

Monday, May 18, 2009

In Search of...power

I briefly contemplated prefacing the word "power" in the title of this blog entry with the words "my own." But then I got to thinking it was kind of redundant. Who else's power are we ever really seeking if not our own?

I think it's true that while some people are born leaders and most are followers, we are all born with innate power. Just because the majority of our society doesn't reflect that self awareness doesn't mean that the power doesn't exist, or that it's not innate in each of us. It's just easier not to own it. Powerlessness gets us off the hook for taking responsibility for our lives and the things going on in it. It is soooo much easier to blame fate, circumstances, our ex, or even a vengeful god. It doesn't make any of it true, but it's just a whole lot easier.

It takes courage to look in the mirror and say, "I am where I am because I got myself here." One of the reasons I'm bringing this up today is that I don't think we can get ourselves out of the various messes we're in as a nation and a planet without getting ourselves out of our own individual messes. There is no amount of prayer that can take the place of personal accountability, and much as we'd like it to be so, no one is going to come along and save us unless we first save ourselves.

So today I suggest we take stock of our lives - the places we are doing well and the places we fall short. And even if we can't see how we're going to rectify our finances, or our relationships, or whatever it is we need to, at least if we're willing to name it, take responsibility for it, and know that we must change direction from the course we've been on, then I believe the necessary actions will unfold.

We are all born with unlimited power, potential, and possibilities. There is nothing that we cannot accomplish if we so choose. It's time for us all to remember that. The world can't wait any longer. Now is the only time there is.

Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In Search of...a Sunday blog

It's been a couple of weeks since my regular Sunday blog and it's good to be back. After being snubbed by the White House Correspondent's dinner, I thought I'd have a dinner of my own. I was the only one in attendance, but at least there were no hecklers.

So this week's political highlights included a lot of hullabaloo about Nancy Pelosi knowing or not knowing about "enhanced interrogation techniques" - a term that the Bush administration came up with to sound better than plain old "torture." Frankly, Nancy is not one of my favorite politicians, but if she knew what was going on, rest assured so did everyone else. Of course she swears she didn't...or that she was told it wasn't being used...or that she was lied to by the CIA. (Boy, that was a can of worms I definitely wouldn't have opened.) I lost consciousness somewhere during her press conference on Thursday. And judging by the frenzied free for all that was This Week's round table with George Stephanopoulos today, Washington is all atwitter about it. All I care about is that we've stopped torturing people. And frankly, Nancy Pelosi was not the person who made that decision or carried it out, even if she wasn't vocal about her objections to it.

And speaking of torture, I totally agree with President Obama that it would be a bad idea to release photographs of American soldiers torturing detainees. I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out that this would not improve the world's opinion of us, nor would it gain us any allies. I think it was a mature and wise decision that has nothing to do with a reversal on the policy of transparency in this administration. The transparency is in knowing that the torture took place and in putting and end to it.

And just to continue down that road, would Dick Cheney please go back to wherever he crawled out from under?!! For eight years this guy stayed in a bunker and only mumbled publicly on an occasional Fox News broadcast. Now here we are, he's finally out of office, and he won't be quiet. He was the biggest architect of the mess we're now in, and if he was going to do something constructive to fix it, he had eight years to do it. I think he should just take a seat now and let the grown ups do the job he wouldn't.

Okay, I'm done with the torture topic for now, though it's possible that George Stephanopoulos's round table guests are still in a fist fight somewhere in the museum in D.C.

There's a part of me that would like to lock all politicians in a room and not let them out until they've successfully completed the kind of task that can only be accomplished by working together as a group - you know, the kind of task like building a human pyramid or fixing the country, for instance. All the minutiae that they get into to distract each other from the real work at hand is no longer working, and I, for one, am exhausted.

So let's start anew and figure out where to go from here. Let's stop wasting time with inquiries and investigations about who knew what, when, and who lied about it. They all knew, and they all lied. There. I just saved us all years of hearings and millions of dollars in independent prosecutor fees.

Have a joyous rest of your Sunday, and thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In Search of...the impossible

In my last blog I was talking about how miraculous it is that art is created out of thin air. Today I'd like to talk about having a vision that's larger than our current set of circumstances so that the world might be the benefactor of the fruits of our labor.

It always amazes me how when you decide to do something, people line up to tell you why it can't or shouldn't be done. I'm not really sure how we've come this far with that kind of attitude, or why we more often than not, go toward the negative instead of the positive. But every now and then, and because I think God has a profound and ironic sense of humor, there are examples to prove that our collective negativity is just collective negativity, and whatever it's rooted in, whether it be fear or laziness, is not the stuff of anything real or substantive.

Of course one of my favorite recent examples is Susan Boyle, the 47 year old singer from Scotland who was dismissed because of her age and appearance, but is now the most famous singer in the world with over one hundred million YouTube hits. I think this proves that for all of our negativity, we are thirsting for a drop of proof to remind us of what we're capable of and that sometimes the underdog not only wins, but kicks serious ass in the process.

Music aside, the hugest example of possibility out there is our President. He is the best proof that positive dialogue and a grander vision can move mountains no one thought were possible. A black guy with a Muslim middle name, a first term Senator - how many people do you think told him he shouldn't run for President and couldn't win? I'm betting quite a few.

So how do we apply these very public examples to our own lives? Or do we cop out and say that the ones who accomplish the impossible are a fluke or the exception? Humble Susan Boyle said something like "I thought I'd go out and give it a try." Yet most of us don't even go that far. We don't even show up to the audition. But what could we succeed at if we did? What mountains of our own could we move? How do we drown out the deafening voices of doom and doubt which seem so much louder than those few that would say, "Yes, you can?"

So today I'm starting out like Susan Boyle by saying, "I think I'll give it a try." I think I'll show up. I think I'll focus on a bigger vision for my life than most would think practical, or sensible, or even rational because there are two kinds of people out there - those who believe anything is possible and those who believe nothing is, and I choose to be the first kind. The next thing I'm going to do is take one step toward my goals, just one thing to move me in the direction of my heart's desire. And if I do that every day - focus on the bigger picture and do something to put me in the direction of my dreams, then maybe, just maybe I can move mountains also.

This world has enough naysayers, and they may be the majority, but they will never be the ones to end world hunger, find a cure for cancer, or form lasting peace. Those are things that require not only determination and hard work, but a faith in something better and bigger than we can presently see all around us or on the nightly news.

I believe that anything is possible. I believe that I am only limited by my limiting thoughts. I believe that we can do great things if we have the courage to show up and try. And I believe that if all these things are true for me, then they are true for you also.

Thank you so much for stopping by. Please tell your friends.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In Search of...a new song

There's been some speculation in recent months as to whether I am still a songwriter. Largely that speculation has come from me. Every writer goes through cycles of productivity and cycles of, well, despair. And I have been going through the latter for quite some time now.

This got me thinking about the process of creating and how miraculous it truly is that out of nothing, something ever takes shape. I've looked at paintings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and wondered what the first stroke on the blank canvas looked like. Was the finished image already in the artist's head when he lifted his brush? Did Beethoven already know what his symphonies would sound like? Didn't he have to know because he was deaf and could never actually hear them?

I saw Baryshnikov dance once many years ago in Chicago, and he simply defied gravity, and in doing so he left me breathless, gasping with delight, and excitement, and hopefulness that maybe I too could defy gravity in some way. (Obviously I'm speaking metaphorically. In no way could I actually leap through the air like Baryshnikov.)

For years I dismissed my ability to write songs, taking for granted that it would always be there. After all, it always had. But time and life can take their toll on the purity of the vision we start out with for ourselves. The music business is not for the faint of heart, and what is of the most beauty and significance is rarely what is commercially successful. That's not only true of the songs, but of the artists who sing them as well. Business of any kind is about the bottom line, the product, the package, what sells. Art is about self expression.

And so it is I wound up in a dry spell, having spent the last few years trying to transform myself into a writer that could sell. I told myself I could write anything, as long as it would make me money. And I did. I spent all of my energy writing what I thought sounded like commercial radio hits. And being business-minded got me my first major cut and #1 song, so I thought I must be on the right track. What it did not get me was the kind of success that could sustain me for any length of time, and how could it? It had very little to do with me. And so, little by little, I found myself less able to continue writing until one day I had no songs to write. Nor did I have any the day after that...or the day after that.

I wondered how I could reach a point where I couldn't create something. How cut off do you have to be from your own soul to not be able to express yourself? Some suggested that this blog was a deterrent, wasting my time and energy and taking me away from music, or that my efforts to get my book published were. And maybe they were right, but at least I was going toward where I felt the most joy and renewed sense of excitement about life...which got me thinking. What song would I write if I weren't concerned with what anyone thought of it? I no longer knew. And it wasn't like it was a self-indulgent question either. The way I looked at it, I had to either figure out how to write songs again or find a new profession.

There's a great line in the movie Music & Lyrics where Hugh Grant says to Drew Barrymore, "Inspiration is for amateurs." That always made me laugh, largely because I thought it was true. But now I know better. Inspiration is for professionals too because without it, we're just staring at a blank page.

So I'm determined to find my way back to the place where I care more about what I write and less about what anyone thinks of what I write. I want to remember what it feels like to be overjoyed and grateful that I get to create songs out of thin air. I want to go back to that place of knowing that no one can do exactly what I do exactly the way I do it, or say what I think needs saying the way I'd say it. I want to remember what brought me to songwriting in the first place - before the necessities of living got in the way of the reason for doing it. I want to know with certainty that what I create has intrinsic value simply because I created it. I wrote a song today. That's a start.

Monday, May 11, 2009

In Search of...a catch up blog

I'm finally back in Nashville, after my travels to California and Texas. I don't mind telling you that San Antonio is an awesome city with friendly people, great food, and a lot of history. It was also about one hundred degrees and humid, which, standing at the Alamo and feeling faint, made me wonder how it was exactly that we won this land from the Mexicans. Davy Crockett must've been a heck of a fighter!

Since this is Monday, it means I missed my usual Sunday politics blog. But fear not. I shall try to catch up. Saturday night was the annual White House Correspondents dinner, which this year could easily have been mistaken for the Oscars. From the CNN coverage I saw during happy hour in the hotel I was staying at in San Antonio, it looked like every celebrity on the planet was there. Shockingly, I was not invited. Maybe next year???

I was also appalled to learn while watching Bill Maher (and thanks Bill for telling me something I didn't already know) that our military have been handing out Bibles and Christian literature in the Middle full U.S. military uniform. I am horrified by this on many levels. First of all, America is supposed to represent a place of freedom of every kind and that includes religious freedom. It is no more appropriate to invade someone's country and try to convert them than it is to fly planes into towers in the name of another religion. Both are equally wrong. And by the way, why have we not been hearing about this in the news? Handing out Bibles in military uniform says to the world that all Americans believe this way and that this is a government condoned military Christian mission. And maybe that was true for George W. Bush. In fact, it probably was. However, this is a new day, and if it is still going on now, then President Obama needs to address it and put an end to it. If Christian missionaries want to go there on their own, then let them - in civilian attire and without the shield of the U.S. Military to hide behind. But I for one do not want my beliefs (which these are not, by the way), imposed on anyone else any more than I want their beliefs imposed on me. It is un-American and it must be stopped.

Gays in the military. I'm having flashbacks to 1992 and the beginning of Clinton's first term. But before I get worried that history will repeat itself, I must tell myself that we are living in different times and that we are progressing as a nation. Arguably that progression is not always voluntary. Some are dragged kicking and screaming, but then again, people weren't so thrilled when women got the right to vote, or when schools became integrated, or when rock 'n roll came along either. This is what I tell myself. But gays in the military? I just don't understand what the fear is. Do people really not know that there have always been gays serving in the military, not to mention in every single area of life? Do people really not know they are our sons and daughters, aunts, uncles, and cousins, our neighbors and our friends? And I hate to break it to you, but pro football looks an awful a lot to me like a bunch of men jumping on each other. Do you really think they're all straight? I don't. And lastly, while I'm on my big gay band wagon, those of us who are straight and have enough sense to know that people are born homosexual just like others are born heterosexual, need to speak up. Those of us heteros who understand that it is only fear and ignorance casting a dark cloud over this human rights issue need to speak up now. It cannot just be the group that's being persecuted. And it is a human rights issue. It is targeting one group of people and denying them the same rights as every other group of people. And this is a slippery slope to go down because I guarantee that eventually hatred and prejudice will find its way to the group that we are a member of to target.

Well, nothing like a few days away to get me fired up and back on my soap box! Thanks for stopping by and please tell your friends.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

In Search of...a good rerun

As I suspected, my blogging efforts while traveling are at best sporadic. I even missed my favorite Sunday politics day because I was at my cousins Jessica and Steve's beautiful wedding. But thanks to modern technology like my DVR, I was able to record This Week with George Stephanopoulos as well as Real Time with Bill Maher.

So I got in just in time last night to see George Stephanopoulos on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, a very happy making sight for me, and I just finished watching all my political recordings. Since I've been flying all over the place, I was particularly interested in the latest swine flu discussions. It turns out that the regular seasonal flu viruses kill way more people, so while I'm slightly relieved about the swine flu, I'm a tad more worried now about catching the other. It's always something.

While I was away Justice Seuter announced his upcoming retirement. Kudos to him for holding out until this administration was in office. And may we get a young, healthy, pro-choice, liberal justice to replace him. (Just putting it out there. You gotta believe to receive, right?)

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, Obama and Biden ate hamburgers one day. I'm not really sure why this constitutes news. I must have missed that part of the story.

I'm getting ready to visit Texas this weekend. (Fortunately, I do not need a passport to do that.)I'm looking forward to blogging about it upon my return, so it may be a few days once again before I'm able to chat. Since I know that you'll be going through withdrawal, I thought I'd offer up some of my personal favorites of my blog since I began it...just in case you can't live without my pearls of wisdom and entertainment.

Here are my top 4:

In Search of... being an "insider"

In Search of...a place where "everybody knows your name"

In Search of...old friends and new memories

In Search of...a good turn of phrase

Thanks for stopping by. I'll be back soon!