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Random thoughts on life

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· Today, I mourn the death of a beloved friend and m...
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December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
May 2005
November 2005
December 2005

Monday, December 05, 2005

Today, I stumbled across two old friends on the internet. I was actually looking for examples of web pages when I came across the website of the university my old harpsichord mentor had moved to years ago. I discovered that he is still there, having become the university organist/harpsichordist and also the head of graduate studies in music. I remembered the many times I accompanied him as his page turner on his numerous organ recitals. He was a superb musician and his taste in music was impeccable. He taught me a lot about music and how to be expressive on the harpsichord. I miss those days dearly.

Having found Larry only inspired me to look for another dear musician friend I knew at that time but with whom I had since lost touch. Gerry was much easier to find, being as he had become quite a renowned clarinetist.

His website included clips from some of his own compositions and those of composers who had written music specifically for him to play. One clip entitled ‘Twilight’ moved me to tears. It was one of the most beautiful, haunting melodies I’ve recently heard, played with so much feeling and tenderness. I cried like a fool, staring at my computer in my office, right in the middle of the day! It was so stirring it touched me deeply. I think this is because I actually knew Gerry personally. We were friends who hung out together. And even if it were many years ago since those wonderful times, the feelings of caring and giddy memories are still there and are revived every time I hear his playing, his music, his voice - whatever floats through my heart and mind from any dear person whose life had crossed my own and perhaps even stayed for a while at some point. This is why his, as well as Larry’s music is especially personal and meaningful to me.

I must say, however, that even if I didn’t know either Larry or Gerry personally, I know I would surely want to know more about them. Even from the time I knew them some thirty years ago, they were already accomplished and gifted artists. The thirty years that have past have only made them even more so.

posted by Leslie

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

November 2, 2005

What can I say. It’s been writer’s cramp, you know, well drying up and the like. For countless days, even months, no inspiration, not even a spark of creative thought. Alas. Like trudging through the boiling sands of a desert, feet sinking into the gritty inferno, feeling the intense rays of the sun, burning, blistering, wrinkling your skin until you can hear it crackle. I could die for water, you think. You know you will without it.

Of course writer’s cramp isn’t as torturous as slowly roasting alive in the desert. Though in a curious manner, it could liken to be. Your brain is dry, in dire need of an idea to develop. A disturbing and desperate state to be in. One you don’t want to languish in indefinitely.

Appears that for months on end, the only news one hears is bad news. This has been the year of the Corrupt Politician, the Insatiably Capitalist, the Blood-Thirsty Warmonger, the Belligerent Sociopath. Add to this, Mother Nature’s unrelenting fury. Accountability, responsibility, kindness, honesty, unconditional love and principle all seem to have gone out the window. Long gone are the days of the Three Musketeers’ rallying cry, ”All for one and one for all,” now only a faint echo from a long-forgotten dream of yesteryear. Now, it’s only me and mine.

One of these days, that spectacular silver-lined cloud will reveal itself. And all will be well for a long time to come.

posted by Leslie

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Roses are FFOOOO,
Violets are OOOOFF,
C6H12O6 is sweet,
And so are 66.66667% H2O

Ever look at something familiar but see it in an unconventional or unusual way? I found that deliberately looking at an object or an idea differently is an excellent exercise for both the mind and the eye. It allows one to see things from a different perspective. From this unusual angle, one is likely to start thinking from a standpoint different from one’s usual stance.

A simple example would be to imagine you are toddler called to dinner. Everything is immediately and considerably different, isn’t it? The kitchen table has suddenly grown too high for you to see what’s on it. You may be able to see the table’s underside instead and the legs of the seated adults. When you finally manage to climb the dining chair, it is difficult to feed yourself being as your mouth is barely over the table’s edge, your arms are flayed above you, upwardly on either side of your plate. It is difficult to eat when you don’t have an aerial view of your plate and what else is on the table. You don’t know what you’re jabbing at with your fork or trying to scope up with your spoon. When you try to reach for your glass of milk, you are likely to knock it over because you are unsure how far the glass actually is. You don’t have an adult’s perspective of the entire table or know the distance from the glass to your mouth. Trying to lift the glass off the table, or rather, get it down to your lips becomes a daunting task, not only because the glass is above eye-level but it is heavy and awkward in shape for your very small hands to wrap around. And worse, it contains a liquid which easily spills.

By now, you have already associated such spills with unhappy adults. If only you didn’t have to sit at the table and eat with them. Perhaps you may even be able to get something into your mouth and may even get a chance to enjoy the food. And the milk.

posted by Leslie

Friday, February 27, 2004

Commuting to the uniquely exquisite city of San Francisco is an experience for me each day. The natural scenery is absolutely stunning. Beginning my trip from the East Bay hills, I am treated with a panoramic view of The City across the bay. The scenery is sometimes so awe-inspiring, it could easily be construed as one’s morning prayer.

Not too long ago, as I descended the hills, the entire San Francisco Bay was completely blanketed with a thick layer of fog, not unlike a giant piece of cotton batting, soft, white and fluffy. The blanket of fog was smoothly spread out over the entire bay, but for when it rolled over the infamous Alcatraz Island, where it rose to the top of its peak and down again over its side, creating a “lump” in the blanket. One could clearly see Mt. Tam (Mt. Tamalpais as fondly called), the Golden Gate Bridge, and the taller buildings of both cities of Oakland and San Francisco peaking over the thick covering. If you were unfamiliar with the area, you could not know there was a bay underneath the fog.

Last week, this blanket returned, but with slight modifications. It was as white, as smooth and as striking as before but it was even much thicker. This time, there was no Alcatraz lump. Alcatraz was completely under. In addition, there were bunches of dazzling white, silver-lined clouds floating right above the layer of fog, some actually touching the blanket below, all like plump, wooly lambs dancing on top of the blanket.

But yesterday presented an especially unforgettable sight. As I crossed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, I got a good look at the new picture unfolding before me. It had rained earlier and as the weather cleared, a most astounding rainbow appeared. It must have been the largest and most brilliant one I had ever seen. The rainbow span was wide and extended, one end dipping into the bay, creating a warm, colorful and magical aura about the water. The other end of the rainbow disappeared midway its span into the gray clouds, still hovering by, weaving its stripes of fading colors here and there, but never once revealing its enigmatic pot of gold. I could see that the vanishing span, if extended, would have arched over and ended right in the heart of The City. But then, maybe it already had.

posted by Leslie

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

There they were - hundreds, perhaps thousands – of huge, technicolored dinosaur-like creatures softly pumping enormous wings as they quietly covered the amethyst sky. In the distance, a vast panorama of rolling purple mountains enfolded. A shimmering crystal lake below mirrored the splendid scenery above. It was indeed a spectacular sight to behold.

I kept my eyes closed, trying to savor the awesome images as long as I could. I knew they would go away the moment I opened my eyes, as this was certainly not a dream.

That was twenty years ago. Though I did open my eyes soon after this mysterious apparition, I can still see this picture quite vividly in my mind’s eye. If “seeing things” were this intriguing, then I really would not mind seeing things.

posted by Leslie

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

He would lie there, stretched out in the warm summer sun, as though he were king of the garden. But then, he was, in a way. Before then, he was a mere stranger to me. He was a rather large tomcat, stocky, tough, with tufts of thick gray and white fur, which made him look even larger. His left ear had been clipped, likely in an altercation some time before. His eyes were simply beautiful, large, blue-gray and absolutely disarming.

Henri came to us one fine spring afternoon, as my young daughter and I were having tea in the garden. We had just set out the cups of tea and were about to partake in the refreshments when Henri presented himself. He must have climbed over the fence to be suddenly before us. By way of an introduction, he made a purring-meowing sound that sounded exactly like the French “Henri.” And thus began our wonderful friendship.

Henri must have belonged to someone else because he wore a flea collar and someone unwittingly had clipped his claws. In the early part of our acquaintance, he would come to see us only a few hours a day and would return to we-never-knew-where. But as our friendship grew, he would stay longer and longer with us, basking in our lush garden until he would spend his nights in our basement. But for a short daily stroll, he would remain at our house most of the time. By this time we thought that his owner must have abandoned him.

That Christmastime, I tied a bright red and green ribbon around his neck. He was our Christmas cat and it was to be our first Christmas together. But soon afterward, Henri went on his daily stroll and never returned. I was devastated. When he did not return that evening, my daughter and I, with heavy hearts, searched the entire neighborhood, knocking on doors, hoping someone might have seen Henri. But no one had. The next days, we continued our search, calling the SPCA and even the Animal Control Bureau. There was absolutely no trace of Henri. We consoled ourselves into thinking that perhaps whoever had owned him before had returned for the holidays, and this time, took him away with them. I also thought that Henri might have gone away to die, as some cats do. Wherever he went, we hoped it was to a better place for him, even though we had loved him dearly.

I have never really gotten over his disappearance.

posted by Leslie

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Today, I mourn the death of a beloved friend and mentor. After months of struggling for her life, she mercifully passed away.

“I want you to keep a daily journal,” she had said. “Everyday, write at least a page worth of whatever comes to your mind. Just write out your thoughts without bogging yourself down with spelling or grammar or anything else. Put your heart and mind to the task.”

Everyday that semester, I faithfully logged in events, thoughts, observations, recollections, anything that came to mind. The daily exercise taught me to be more observant, inquisitive, analytical, even compassionate and humble. It was she who inspired me to strive to express myself by thinking straight from the heart.

That was several years ago, though it now seems like only yesterday. Today, I say my final goodbye to my dear and gentle friend.

posted by Leslie