August 31, 2011
It’s 5:00 AM. I woke up an hour ago, went to the bathroom, came back, had a sip of water and lay my head back down on my pillow. I told myself that I could just close my eyes and fall back to sleep; it happens, sometimes. I listened to the crickets for a few minutes, wondered if Ameera had brought Troy inside like I asked her to, heard the faint yelping of coyotes in the distance, and thought how amazing it is that I live in a part of the country where I can hear these beautiful creatures calling out into the night or that, on occasion, I glimpse the tail of a fox pouncing gracefully across the garden in the long grass.
As my mind wound it’s way around the landscape, remembering spottings of bears and wild turkeys and foxes and moose, a clear voice came to mind from the edge of the forest of my thoughts and said, “Have you read my blog yet?” It was Carrie Grossman. I still had not read her newest entry. I pulled out my laptop and went to her Facebook page, looked at her newest photograph ‘tags’, read a few wall posts, and moved on over to her website, thelightinside.org.
The first thing I read on her blog was a poem by Mary Oliver called, ‘Of Love’. I was fortunate to spend a weekend with Carrie down in Connecticut at her family home recently and, as always, when I am around this very special friend of mine, I must be prepared for the unexpected. This particular weekend, the leela of the divine would have it that an amazing woman named Shakti Durga, on her first trip to America from Australia, just so happened to be staying in one of the two houses on Carrie’s parent’s property that they rent out. And so goes Carrie’s life and path that a teacher with such clarity and truth should find herself at Carrie’s front door—well, within sight of Carrie’s parent’s front door—where yours truly, daughters in tow, happened to be staying that weekend.
And so goes my life and path. We had a beautiful two days there in the Grossman’s lovely home, lots of tears and laughter as we ended our summer, swam, walked through a small forest of bamboo, ate the famous Pink Cake of New York, and listened to the teachings and songs of Shakti Durga. The Mary Oliver Poem reminded me of this healing weekend and I knew where Carrie got the inspiration to post that poem.
But that was not the entry that she had asked me to read. I think what Carrie wanted me to read was, “At Home In The Abbey (at least for now).” Having given in to the fact that I was now awake with no hopes of returning to dreamland (at least not with eyes closed), I read her words. She spoke of being okay with being single. I have known Carrie for ten years‑she is a very beautiful, intelligent, spiritual woman. Anyone who does not know her half as well as I do would wonder why she has not found her soulmate, but one thing I know about my dear friend is that she is in search of something far more meaningful than just a companion or a boyfriend to fill some cavity in her life. Her life is very full of divine play and it keeps her busy enough.
I also read about how she came to release her first Kirtan CD, Soma-Bandhu. Somehow her beautiful words and stories, which I know so well, made me feel heavy and reminded me how stuck I feel in my own life. I have been avoiding writing—writing of any kind: poetry, lyrics, blogs, emails, even the simplest of the simple…Tweets!
I read through a few more of Carrie’s blog entries and decide to shut my laptop down and get one more hour of sleep before it is time to wake up and begin the day. Without skipping a beat, in walks the monkey of my mind. So much for morning dreams! I am on a thought train and have no idea where my monkey friend and I will end up.
I don’t need to drive Isobel to school today—the first day; Ameera drives now. I bought Ameera her first car primarily to give myself mornings without 7:00 AM drives over the mountain but I will drive Isobel to school because she asked me to. I don’t really want to take a walk at 7:05 AM, but my friend Pia has asked me to meet her on the railroad trail so I will, as long as we talk about her problems and not mine.
And so it goes. I line up one distraction after the other to help me avoid what I would prefer to be doing at this hour: writing. What am I afraid of? What does writing mean in my life and, by avoiding it, am I avoiding my life? As I journey deeper into that densely wooded part of my mind, I realize that I have not only been avoiding writing, but I have also been avoiding phone conversations and email exchanges with friends that remind me of writing. I have been avoiding anyone who reminds me of music as well, because music reminds me that I am not writing. One of my greatest joys in life is driving and listening to music, which I have been avoiding as well. (I am sincerely sorry, Jill Scott; I promise to get to your new album when I can beat back this fear.)
And so, with a great deal of reluctance (like a certain ‘someone’ finally breaking down and cleaning her room), I pull out my laptop, open a blank page, and just start. Not knowing what to write about, I start to write about not writing. Writing is similar to cleaning a messy room, organizing thoughts and putting them on shelves.
I know that my writing is not important in the bigger world, where real writers have more to say with a more colorful palette, but it is important to me in my little world here—tucked away in the woods where crickets and frogs and coyotes fill the late summer nights with a reassuring hum. It is important because it just so happens that writing is my savior. But truth be told, I don’t always want to be saved, and in those dark bottomless periods, no words come. It scares me because I begin to believe that they will never come again, and that the course I have been on for so many years will need to change to a path where words no longer measure my sense of well being. Eventually, when I am close to giving up, my back against the wall, the words always seem to come—at least for now—and I write my way back into a healthy space.
So, with summer on it’s way out and autumn at my back door, maybe my savior has returned to me. I can’t place a bet on it yet, but I am here at my desk tapping out words today, the first day. There is wood to be chopped and stacked, friends to visit, teenagers to tend to, dogs to walk, walls to paint, rooms to clean, and any number of distractions to keep me from this place, but, for now, I am here, facing my fear of writing down the bones. Thank you, Carrie, for the voice at the edge of the forest.
January 5, 2010
Hope Sandoval is streaming into my sleepy head through headphones. Listening to the songs from her new album is like having an old friend return after a long absence, catching me up on all the years that have passed. December came and went so fast I can hardly remember what I did, put up a Christmas tree, baked some ginger cookies, shopped online, loaded wood into stoves, shoveled loads of snow, took down a Christmas tree. Tonight the sleeping house is warm. The howling winds of the past few days have finally died down. All of the sounds that a house makes when the wind pushes up against it have quieted. The stoves are on a slow burn. I will wake once in the night and put in another log to keep the embers alive until morning. The winter’s night routine. Never let the fires die.
January is here. I thought that it would never come. The sugar maples are naked and the ground is a blanket of snow. Winter here is not for the faint-hearted. There is a strength in the people who choose to live in cold climates that I admire. I see it in my own children. They may choose to live in a warmer part of the world someday but they have this experience of braving the weather and pushing through in their character. They are stronger for it. We lived on the west coast for a few years and I knew that it was not my home. I missed the seasons. I needed that rhythm in my creative life. I spent those years putting all of my energy into raising my children as I couldn’t seem to get in touch with my own voice. At the time my children were my expression. Maybe I was just afraid to see what I was feeling inside, kept a blind eye to it, a slow death only to be reborn in the snowy landscape of New England. The path we are on in life is the only one we have so everything is in perfect time. This is what I believe. Intuitively, I knew where my energy needed to be because as soon as the girls were older, I found that I was exactly where I needed to be to begin writing again. I am still a full time mother and finding time outside of that responsibility has been challenging. The days begin early and end late to make space for myself.
So this is the month that A Flutter And Some Words will finally be released. Three years of my life wrapped up in it, two winters, two springs, two summers and one Autumn in the writing. It has been an incredible journey of remembering and taking back something that belongs to me that I thought I could live without and somehow be content. No regrets. I was busy making a family and if anything had been different, this record would not exist. No Time is lost. This is my best work thus far and the album that I am most proud of.
It’s getting late so I will end this here. It will be a busy month and I am feeling like it’s my season. They say there will be snow again Friday and I say bring it on.
October 8, 2009
There is wood to be stacked. No soft glow or warmth of a fire yet. How long can we go before the days and nights revolve around the wood stoves? Wool socks, sweaters and indoor hats, our only defense for now. Storm doors and storm windows sealing out drafts…gearing up for battle, winter is on it’s way. Lowering the body’s expectations for warmth…tomorrow I will light the fires, but tonight we will sleep beneath feathers and down and wake to a cold house. You have to be strong to live north of everything. I tell myself this as the winters take their toll.
Today I sealed the white swallow between the plastic sheet and the glass panes, looking out, watching the leaves turn from green to gold. From this window, she will watch the rain fall tomorrow and the leaves fall in the coming weeks and the snow fall come December. A quiet solitude I long for.
There are many beautiful things to come…winter songs born out of this place I call home, but for now… sleep is calling and I shall go.
January 6, 2009
cut out all the ropes and let me fall
my, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
right in the moment this order’s tall
“I told you to be patient
I told you to be fine
I told you to be balanced
I told you to be kind”
“Come on skinny love what happened here
suckle on the hope in light brassiere
my, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
sullen load is full, so slow on the split”
I could have gone deeper swept a bit wider scraped a little harder at the wounds and left a little blood behind
it’s not too late.
“my, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
staring at the sink of blood and crushed vaneer”
I will sink my teeth in next time and make it bleed and everyone will know I was just protecting him
October 31, 2008
We are now more then half way through the golden season. The ground is carpeted with leaves, the wood is stacked, the fires are full flame and the work of keeping this old cape warm has begun. I am always in two minds about whether to rake up the leaves and toss then onto the edge of the forest. They are so beautiful. The final burst of color before everything turns grey and white for what at times feels like endless winter here in the northeast.
These next few months I will ‘hole-up’ in the small room where I work and look out the 10 windows that fill the room with what ever light the day has to offer, the room where most of the lyrics were written, bringing the respective season into each song. I will continue to work on a short film, an introduction or reintroduction to me as an artist, something similar to a film that I made several years back with David Sylvian called ‘Time Spent’. I will begin to imagine the path that this collection of very personal songs will take.
Here where I live time is slow and the days are a balance between the domestic and the creative, the lines blurred.
There are 13 songs. Most of them were co-written with my dear friend Lorenzo Scopelliti, one of the most creative beings I have ever crossed paths with. He is an artist with soul and a vision that reflects my own emotional response to life and nature and it’s indelible hold on the heart.
I opened my Music Myspace page a little over two years ago, thanks to an up and coming clothing designer out of Sacramento named Richard Hallmarq who had a dream. He tracked me down through my music publishing lawyer and convinced me to open a myspace page and to consider writing music again. He also talked me into doing my one and only live performance of a few of the songs from my album ‘May 19, 1992’ during a fashion event in San Francisco featuring his line of clothing at the time. A dream come true for him. I had over the years devoted myself entirely to raising my two daughters and son and in doing so, had put all of my creative energy into them. Richard’s search to find the missing ‘Ingrid Chavez’ coincided with my own search.
We all have our angels.
Once the Myspace page was opened up, the response was overwhelming and moved me deeply. I did not expect anyone to even remember my name or past work. I am truly grateful to all of you who have been so supportive and encouraging these past two years. Many long lost friends were clever enough to look for me here. I am still alive and doing well in my own quiet kind of way.
This being Music Myspace, many wonderful artists have written to ask if I would consider a collaboration. It wasn’t until Lorenzo sent me a lovely piece of music that he was working on for a solo album for himself, that I really thought seriously about returning to music. The song was simply titled, ‘Song For Ingrid’. Upon first listening, an emotional chord was struck in me. I asked him would he mind if I recorded a vocal idea for it and he said that he would be honored. That piece did become the first song that we collaborated on and the seed was planted for what would become my first full length solo cd since my Paisley Park release many years ago. That seed song is now titled ‘Isobel’ and is the final track on the cd.
Lorenzo’s devotion to this music is as deep as my own. His visual and sound design has been a great inspiration. His patience allowed me the time I needed to spend with each new piece. There was never pressure to meet a deadline. This body of work speaks of two years of my life here in the north country where I live and how the rhythm of nature mirrors the artist heart.
Everything we need to know about ourselves can be found in the silence and beauty of nature.
I can’t speak about this album without mentioning Alessandro Mazzitelli or Mazzi as we call him, to whom without his dedication and belief in this project, it might not have happened. He recorded the tracks and pulled all of the talented musicians together. I have driven him crazy surely, but he has been such a good sport. I can say for certain that he learned more english in two years than I learned Italian.
So, as autumn turns to winter and winter turns to spring I will be preparing for a late April release of this album. I don’t know it’s path yet. I am one to take each day as it comes. I have learned from past experience that nothing is worth losing your peace of mind over. The path is too perfect, it’s beauty is in the details.
“There’s a beauty in the open road and I don’t want to miss a sign, so I’ll take my time.”
February 14, 2007
I knew the storm was coming. But I did not know that today would be the final strike. The blood stains covered over, this was to be our last war cry. My words muffled beneath a blanket of snow, there would be no winning this one. (I retreat in silence and wish you well).
But there is love and spring will come in on his coattails. He is a gold thread pulling me through the long winter. He will come when the ground is no longer frozen and the milkweed seed is sewn. When Autumn comes, we will watch the down drift past these windows carried on a zephyr. And this day spent alone between a cry and a whisper, watching the snow-fall…will be long forgotten.
October 19, 2006
It is October and the sugar maples are ablaze. I squint my eyes to blurr the colors as I drive…braided ribbons of Autumn lining the country roads, bidding farewell. Smoke rising from chimney’s, the air is filled with the smell of the season’s first fires, redolent of peat burning in the Irish countryside (her eyes are closed and dreaming of Connemara).
I am not ready for winter and yet the woodstoves are alight and I tend to them faithfully (who will strike the match when she is gone?). The colors are fading from the landscape and the song of the cricket is gone from the garden. Each day I wake… the trees are a little more naked and the ground… carpeted gold. I take in the frosty air with the scent of fallen leaves as I gather the wood. Soon the clouds will bring the silence of snow and I will fall in love with winter all over again. Angels will appear and the cardinals will return, blood-red omens watching from the sleeping lilac. And night will look like day when the moon is full… sparkling light reflecting from tiny snowflakes. The coyote’s cry will sound more desolate and I will listen for them in the stillness (frozen flowers from her breath form in the windows as she watches for their shadows moving along the edge of the wood).
I am in this room where I spend my nights by fire and moonlight
letting go of everything… dreaming fall into winter,
August 20, 2006
It’s 12:05 AM here on the west coast; sacramento to be exact. I should be sleeping but the pharmacist who handed me the antibiotics told me to wait 30 minutes before going to bed after taking one of the pills. As I was snuggling into T shirt sheets I remembered…the pill. Less than 12 hours off the airplane, I woke up with a sore throat…So, I am sitting here thinking of home in a friend of a friend’s house, waiting…I have no idea what will happen if I don’t, so I do.
I miss my home. I don’t know at what point it became my home and not just where I live, but as I sit here 3000 miles from that place that holds my things and my family, collecting memories, I know somewhere in the past 6 years it became just that, my home. I miss my bed with it’s feathery blankets and cotton sheets. I miss my girls and my baby dog Lola. I miss my friends. I miss the papery white birch trees that mark a bend in the road ahead. I miss the signs that remind me that where I live is “a good place to live” and to “drive nice”. I miss the dirt roads, the back roads through small towns and the mountains I drive over and around each day. I miss my old hardwood floors and my drafty windows that frame sugar maples and cotton clouds. I miss the little creatures that scurry through the walls at night and the breeze that sounds the chimes outside my bedroom, the same breeze that moves through the cracked window and scrapes the night shade against the sill. I miss the smell of my old house, a house well lived in, a house where children and their beloved pets live. I miss the sanctuary of my bathroom with it’s deep bathtub. I miss the colors of my painted walls and the pictures that hang on them. I miss swimming in the lakes and walking with Lola and the girls to the White Ledges. I miss the clean air of my home town with it’s quiet charm. I miss my local pub where I know everyone and everyone knows me. Just Ingrid me. I miss my desk where my laptop sits and I sit with it, in front of a large window where a fox stood not more than three weeks ago and stared at me as I stared at him. silent and still. I miss the cool air of fall teasing me with it’s early arrival and the late summer crickets and the barking of far away dogs. I miss the coyote’s howling and the blue jay’s cawing. I miss the faded lilac and Forsythia bushes that line my side of the road and the day lilies that grow wild like dandelions among tall grass. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries and wild grapes grow there where wild turkeys strut across my yard like kings and queens.
It is the east coast and it’s four seasons that gives my body, heart and mind a creative rhythm. It is the land that has not been robbed of it’s trees that keeps me grounded. It is the clean air that fills my lungs and keeps me well year round. It is the rebel spirit of the northeast that makes life feel full of possibilities. It is quiet where I live and I dream quiet dreams there.
It has been at least 30 minutes…i can sleep now.