Those memories come back to haunt me…

“I’ve got two extra tickets to see Bruce Springsteen tomorrow. Do you want them?”

Although i’m getting older, there are times when my reflexes still respond quickly – and i snatched those tickets up in a nanosecond.

Mr. Springsteen provided the soundtrack for my high school years, as well as the words that rattled around in my head through my transition from ‘lost girl’ to ‘over-achieving engineering student’ and on into my reincarnation as ‘wife/mother’.   If it hadn’t been for one line in “Thunder Road”, i might never have found the glimmer of hope that allowed me to begin that transition.

“ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY! When can i pick them up?”

Managed to snag the tickets on my lunch hour, and make the quick turn around after work to cover the 60 miles between here and there. i drove like a maniac efficiently, we found a decent parking spot, and had enough time to pregame with a flask of whiskey in the car before heading into the arena. Just us, and 15,000 fans, navigating wickets and stairways to get to our seats in the rafters. Even though we were in the nose bleed seats, we had a great view of the stage.

No opening act. The show started at 7:45pm, and Mr. Springsteen and the E Street Band played for three and a half hours without a break. He worked through the set – seeming to gain energy and intensity with each song.

Four decades worth of material at his disposal, it wasn’t a surprise that he dug back in the archives for a few. “Badlands”…

“You’ve got to live it every day….. Let the broken hearts stand as the price you’ve gotta pay…”

Words written as a young man. Belted with the same intensity he had as a skinny street punk. Now in his 60’s, that line is just as powerful. Maybe more so…


It was a surprise when i heard the band start up the intro to “The River”. Not one of his pop hits, but the title track to the album that ushered me into the first significant transition in my life. i looked at Studley. “Holy shit! The last time i saw him live was on tour for ‘The River’. That album. THIS song! Jesus… that was in 1980.”

The man sitting next to Studley leaned forward “I know! It was over 30 years ago! I remember it like it just happened! It was only yesterday…”

Mr. Springsteen began to sing…

“I come from down in the valley, where mister, when you’re young… They bring you up to do like your daddy done…”

“Maybe not yesterday,” i said to the distinguished-looking gentlemen to our left. “But just a few weeks ago…”

The man and i were both tripping back in time. Transported by an audio memory…. Feeling the song as we had at 18 years old.

“You look like you could have just left school… like you’re still there.”

As he said that, i caught a brief glimpse of a boy with feathered hair, black concert t-shirt hanging from the skinny shoulders that would fit him better at 50… Made me wonder if he was seeing the dumpy lost-girl with stringy hair, acne and plastic framed glasses as big as her forehead….

“Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true? Or is it something worse?”



* The first photo was taken by my friend during the concert.  He had much better seats – which is why he offered up the extra tickets…


When i completed my undergraduate degree, i treated myself to a spiffy new guitar – a 1985 Fender Balboa, with on-board electronics and a cut-away.  That guitar and i had some times, we did…

Open mic nights, festivals, garage bands – even a brief stint playing in a bluegrass band.  Mostly?  He was my therapist.  He held fast through some rough times – the years i took my anger out through music.

Some of my friends refer to it as my “Angry Lesbitarian Music” phase.  i could take a Carole King song and make it scary enough to creep out a room.  Will you still love me tomorrow?  Huh, motherfucker?  HUH?!?!

i was rough on him.  Aggressive flat picking tore up the sound hole.  We spent 25 years together, and that guitar saw me through my separation, divorce and empty-nest  transitions.  A few spectacularly bad relationship decisions, too.

Somewhere along the way, i became less angry.  My passions were re-directed in far more productive and pleasant pursuits.  The guitar was collecting a good bit of dust.  Other than pulling it out for a few weeks before the annual Christmas gig at work?  Neglect.

In 2009, i started playing around… with other guitars.  Checking out the Martin owned by my gig-buddy at the office.  The sweet Taylor my “chicken pickin'” friend adored.  Pretty soon?  i was visiting guitar stores.  Checking them all out…

Fell hard for a Gibson DSR CE Acoustic Electric.  Loud.  Clear.  Balanced top and bottom.  Felt right as i worked all the way up the neck.  He came home with me a few days later…

The euphoria lasted about a year – even pushing me to do my first (and only) guitar corset Friday!  i soon got busy with other pursuits.  Played a few gigs here and there, but lost the spark and the Gibson became a bit of a ‘hangar queen’ – looking lovely in my living room, but getting very little love.

The old Fender had been stowed back in his case, and taken to the basement storage room, with all of the other much-loved, but abandoned toys.

Got word a couple of months ago that an exceptional local guitarist would be accepting a limited number of new students.  This awakened the dormant guitarist, and i jumped on the offer!  The chance to put some discipline into the process while sitting at the knee of screamingly crushworthy guitarist?  Hells yeah!

Nervously taking out the dusty Gibson for my first lesson, i discovered that he had some alignment issues.  High end of the neck was out of whack.  My guitar teacher offered up the name of her most trusted repairman.  Not wanting to let her down so early in the game, i made plans to get the Gibson to the shop for a tune up.

Dennis asked me to sit down and play a little so he could work the set up to my style.  The good news?  An easy tweak – no more than a few days.

Just in case it took longer, i climbed into the storage room and blew the dust off the Fender.  A fresh set of strings, and i was able to keep putting in time every day to work the callouses and restore muscle memory.

It was a little like rediscovering a lost love!  i remembered why i fell for that Fender in the first place!  He can take anything i throw at him – and beg for more!  The harder i play?  The better he sounds… i was looking forward to introducing him to my guitar teacher.

But Dennis had worked his miracle, and the Gibson was ready on Tuesday.  Retrieving him on my lunch hour, Dennis was anxious to see my reaction.  Sheer, unadulterated joy!  Dennis had built a custom saddle, and the sounds coming out of that guitar were astonishing!  Better than when i bought him!

Still loud and strong, but very fast. A delicate touch!  Think about touching the strings and it happened…  i couldn’t wait to get him home where we could be alone for a while.

Dennis:  If you want the action a little higher?  I can do that!  Can set it up with some heavier strings, too.  It sure has a beautiful sound, though.

daisyfae: i like this.  It feels good, but completely different from the Fender.  i…. i think i want to keep them both. Just the way they are…  i’m pretty sure i can maintain both relationships…


in case you came here looking for info on polyamorous relationships?  nice article here

Rock and Roll – Now With Ovaries!

One of the things ‘on my list’ is to find a band.  Not a serious band that is all “let’s practice until we’re good and make recordings and travel” and shit… But a band that wants to just play – with a few gigs here and there to force a teeny tiny bit of discipline into the enterprise.

Last fall, my organization was rumored to be getting a new Director.  This is the guy in charge of some thousand research and engineering dorks, so it’s a fairly high level position.  Word on the streets was that it would be WB – a known good manager, and studio quality guitarist. 

i’ve known of WB for years, and he’d heard of me – musicians tend to talk a lot of shit amongst themselves, so if someone plays, word gets out.  But we’d never had a chance to connect musically.

When we had the organizational Christmas party (i think it was last December…), it took all of a nanosecond for a colleague to convince me to join the ‘Lab Rat” band that was providing background music.  They were doing just fine, but didn’t have a vocalist, and were mostly playing Christmas music.

Dropped in, did some rock and roll with them, and dropped out.  Why?  i considered it my ‘audition’ for WB.  As could be expected, word got back to WB before he even occupied the front office.  He was on the lookout for me… His band plays out at a local bar for a happy hour gig on the first Friday of every month, so i was easily convinced to drop by after work last night to hear them play.

Sitting at a table near the stage by myself, i was instantaneously blown away by two facts:

1)  They were really good.  Probably “Out of my league” good.

2) They already have a woman in the band – vocalist playing keyboards.

Anyone who knows anything about bands knows the Laws of Band Dynamics. 

The First Law of Band Dynamics:  If you introduce a female member to an existing band of males, you will lose one of the original members within six months.

The Second Law of Band Dynamics:  If you introduce a second female member to an existing band that has incorporated a female member, you will completely destroy any chance of the band staying together.

My hopes of finally finding the right band were dashed, so i just sat back and enjoyed the gig.  Good stuff, but fantasies of fronting this particular band disintegrated. 

Joining me later in the evening were two other work colleagues – one of whom insisted on introducing me to WB after they were done.  He’s good, and personable, and i’m still finding it hard to believe he’s going to be “Large and In Charge” of the organization… 

We discussed music tastes, and my general disdain for ‘chick songs’, and he strongly suggested i drop in for a future practice.  Reminding him of the “Laws” – which he fully acknowledged as gospel – he still insisted that i drop in, and that the laws could be managed… 

So let the month of February begin, with the prospect of finally finding the right band of brothers, and a sister, to get my music-jones satiated…

Oh, and by the way?  The best way to overcome the Laws of Band Dynamics?  All chick band.  And if it’s an All Chick, Japanese Rockabillly trio?  Even better!

One Crowded Hour

Sometimes music appears.  If the planets are aligned perfectly, cosmic consciousness cooperates, and your electronic equipment is operational, this music can become a transitional soundtrack for where you are at a particular point in your life.

That happened a couple weeks ago.  While i was playing in Greece, a lovely and generous couple from Australia decided i needed a particular CD.  When i returned home, Augie March “Moo, You Bloody Choir” arrived in the post.  And it has been on continuous rotation ever since.

The opening track, in particular, has lodged itself in my brain.  “One Crowded Hour”…  have a listen.  And be sure to stop by over at YourZenMine.  One couple, two points of view, and 365 days of music reviews.  They’ve rattled me out of my ‘same old’ music rotation.  Proving that you’re never too old to listen to something new.

The first time

i met him at work last autumn, and over the course of few months, we became friends – finding a million little things that we had in common.  Too many to ignore.  At some point, we both knew it was inevitable, and finally admitted that we needed to take this just a little further… To find out if there really is something there.

But it was still awkward to be alone together for the first time.  Prepared?  As much as schedules and life would allow.  There was goofy, nervous chatter when i arrived at his house last night.  “You want a beer?”  “Oh, god, yes!  Thank you!  Absolutely!” 
A quick tour of the downstairs of his partially restored 1880’s farmhouse.  Chit-chat about this odd object, or the eleven-foot ceilings.  A few moments of awkward silence as i took off my shoes.  It was time to get to it.  The moment at hand…  Don’t think.  Just go… 

We started slowly.  First me, then him.  And the moment we joined together.  No matter how many times i’ve done this, it’s always rough at the beginning.  Tested the waters, tried a little of this and a little of that… touch and response.  Nervous laughter.  We found more than a little bit of resonance.
Then it started to become natural.  Finding the perfect chord that triggered a flood of memories, and launched us in a new direction.  Another beer, another round – this time more comfortable and relaxed.  And just damn fun!
By the end of the evening we were tearing it up like two adolescent demons – inhibitions forgotten, getting hopelessly lost in the moment.  Will we do this again?  No doubt about it.  There is something there.  Something that must be indulged.  That magical combination of “common ground” and “new territory”. 
i have, at last, found what i was looking for…  Never expected to find him at work.  Never in a million years did i expect to find such a good fit.
This guy plays guitar like the bastard child of Jimmy Page and Segovia, cross-bred with the spooge of Steve Howe and Jack Johnson.  We know much of the same eclectic (and seemingly random) stuff – and put together a list of 12 “must do” songs.

And yes.  As a matter of fact, i did smoke a cigarette on the drive home…


CLARIFICATION:  Not a raucous tryst, folks.  Guitar jam.  i’ve been looking for a band, or some way to reinvigorate my music.  He’s delightful, but we’re not doing the nasty…  i don’t blog that stuff.  My kids already have bad enough trauma knowing that i get laid.

Beat it

Primal.  From the deepest recesses of our dinosaur brain, we know how to do it.  It defies geography.  Defies culture.  Toddlers do it, along with their monkey cousins.


Beats and rhythm come from inside us, perhaps driven by the heartbeat.  It’s spiritual – on an individual as well as communal level.  Sometimes we hit the downbeat, content to be the backbone.  Other times we need to be the backbeat, or find just the right break rhythm. 

There is no wrong way to do it.  How many activities are that foolproof?

Once again, i spent a portion of my New Year’s Eve at a houseparty.  This year, after stumbling my way through a 5K “resolution run” at 8:00 pm.  Despite being tired from my slog through darkened residential streets with 800 other folks who couldn’t get dates, i found sufficient energy to hit the dance floor around 10:30 and pogo* my way into the new year. 

Three hours on the dance floor, interspersed with a little drum therapy.  Magic.  Especially the drumming.  My friend keeps a collection of percussion instruments on hand – from conga drums, to maracas and bells.  As the music spins, we either dance or drum.  Or in my case, both. 

If you’ve never done it, i recommend it.  You don’t need lessons, you don’t need anything other than your hands.  Put on some music and start to it.  Close your eyes.  Feel it.  Being drunk or stoned isn’t necessary.  Try different ways of hitting something to get different sounds.  Different surfaces** make different noises, too.

But most therapeutic for me are the big drums.  Yes, the rumors are true:  daisyfae likes her big congas.  So many variations on the sound, the feel.  i’d like to be faster.  i’d like to be more consistent.  But it really doesn’t matter.  It feels great.  Among other plans for 2010, i’m thinking there be some luscious congas in my future…

letting go...

* One of my favorite things about this party is that there is no countdown.  No one glued to a television, watching a ball glide down a pole to signal the start of the festivities.  We’re already dancing.  Somewhere around midnight?  Someone eventually notices that we’re there… Last night?  DJ handed out bottles of champagne in the middle of a Scissors Sisters song (“Take Your Momma Out”), but we waited for it to finish…  DJ made the announcement, while the music continued… and we danced on…

** My dog makes a particularly satisfying drum.  He has a great “chest thump”, and as long as i don’t get carried away, he likes to be drummed.  Leather furniture is good, too…

Dream Job

The perfect job.  Succulent and elusive to ponder…  While there are many things i could do to pay the bills, that would bring some sense of satisfaction, there is one professional siren song that always shakes me down, wrestles me to the ground, and puts me in a headlock.
Is it really too much to ask to become a back-up singer for Joe Cocker?  “Wiggle and blend”, in a little black dress and heels…
Discovered a local “open stage” event a couple weeks ago, and it has provided even more fuel to my lustful fires.  The house band at a local venue takes the stage on Tuesday nights for free.  It’s a chance to practice* with the sound system, lights, and sound engineer…

Since the bar owner is doing this as a favor – and to increase traffic on a slow night – they made it an “Open Stage”.  Musicians show up, check out their playlist – and either sign up for solo stuff, or to drop in with their jams.  Pretty informal.
Last week, i started my bit with an audition – a couple of solo songs**.  They let me keep going, and started dropping in on a few of my songs.  Friends in the audience said i looked like i was wired up to a morphine drip… especially after the drummer kicked it in.
It was time for “round two” last night.  Rather than try more solo stuff, all i wanted to do was re-learn how to play with a band.  And they let me.  Fronted a couple songs, but mostly i  bashed my way through some rhythm guitar and sang back-up vocals.  Bliss.  Even though i still kinda suck at this, they were patient and helpful.
Regarding the “day job”?  My professional life is going surprisingly well.  The new job brings an entirely new collection of freaks fresh challenges, and they still seem glad to have me on the team.  Last Wednesday, i was invited to a “courtesy visit” with my new Director – something he does with new employees.  During our discussion, i was astonished when he offered to ship me off for 2-3 years to a world-class engineering grad school program to get my PhD. 
Shell shocked, i  wasn’t sure how to respond.  “Thank you, sir, but i’m 47 years old.  A PhD is something you really have to want… and given where i am in my life, it may not be the right thing for me…”
Unfortunately, he was in his 40’s when he got his PhD, so the age thing wasn’t going to get me off the hook.  He then asked what i really want to be doing in 10 years… And like the dumb ass that i am?  i told him… “Playing in a band, Sir…”.  Which took the conversation away from graduate school, and down a much more comfortable path…
Towards the end of the set last night, there was a taste of heaven on earth when the band launched into “Feelin’ Alright”.  Uh huh…

What’s your dream job?

* Beats practicing in the basement, with everyone wearing headphones to keep the neighbors from calling the cops…

** Earning your “stage cred”.  Had to show them i was able to play and sing.  Although my guitar work is about a quarter of what it used to be, i was invited back…

A little less conversation, a little more action.


It’s the only thing that comforts the restless soul.  Never content staying put, never satisfied with ‘now’.  Only a brief celebratory moment upon completion of a task or goal, before mentally starting work on the next one…

i’ve been stuck.  No shortage of things to do, but none of them providing what i need at the moment.  Working out at least an hour a day, spending too much time on the internet, i am making no progress towards anything of substance.  i’ve lost my mojo, and don’t know where i put it.

Life as a spectator leaves me cold.  i have to be in the game.  Somehow, i’ve become comfortable watching.  Saying things such as “i’d like to improve my French”, versus starting the coursework.  “i really want to find a band”.  But not looking for one.   “Wishing” instead of “doing”.  Not the person i want to be…

It was the simple act of getting on a plane that cleared a few of the cobwebs.  Since moving to the new job in June, i haven’t traveled much.  Before that?  Only the sporadic day trip here or there. Like riding a bike, though, you don’t forget.

Intuitively knowing where to park at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon at the airport.  Whisking through the check in process, my frequent flier number committed to memory.  Despite carrying only a backpack for an overnight trip, efficiently breezing through the security line – with two laptops*. 

Knowing the equipment for both flights.  Seat 17A in a CRJ-700 is the last row.  The knowledge that i won’t be reclining before i get on the plane.  An Airbus 320?  Enough legroom, despite the appearance of being cramped.  i just know…. and it feels good to be moving.  With confidence.

Not going anywhere important.  Not doing anything that mattered much in the grand scheme of things.  Movement provided the illusion of progress… and i was smacked in the head with the realization that it feeds me

You’re either growing or you’re dying.  So tonight?  i’m back on the stage.  With a band.  Unprepared.  Unpracticed.  And completely unafraid.  Stepping into completely unknown territory.  An ‘open stage’ where you can either drop in with the house band, or play solo.  Packing up the Gibson.  Balls out, here we go…

Best girlgroup ever. The Ronettes. Before Phil Spector was shooting his dates, he could produce some music...

* Personal laptop and business one.  By volume?  Ratio of “electronics:clothing” was 15:1. By weight?  At least 40:1.  i am a geek.


Update:  Photos here.  Damn, damn, DAMN, but that was big fun!

Sax and the Trailer Park

Our house was full of music.  Dad was a musician, and did his best to draw it out of all of us.  He played tenor sax from the time he was a young boy, and that saxophone was one of the few possessions that he treasured.

It’s gone missing.

His mother bought it for him, $5/week, with money earned in the mills.  She wanted him to get a broad education.  She wanted him to get out of the ghetto that was Methuen, Massachusetts in the 1930’s.  A millworker, she was raised in Sicily and was much more educated than her contemporaries.  She knew the value of an education.  Her father managed a vineyard, and because Domenica LaRosa was friends with his daughter?  The wealthy vineyard owner let her sit in with the tutor through her early teens – perhaps the equivalent of an 8th grade education.

Working in the non-unionized sweatshops of the time, enduring conditions that can crush the human soul, she wanted her only son to have a better life.  To her, the saxaphone represented a chance in a lottery, which might give her son a ticket out.

He played in jazz bands throughout high school.  The money he made went toward the college fund. Although he didn’t make enough to avoid a year of millwork following high school, he earned enough to enter the engineering program at Northeastern at 19 years old.  Playing in bands all the way through university, he found both joy and sustenance in his music.

After graduation, he moved to Detroit, earning a spot in the “select” management training program at Ford Motor Company, alongside the likes of a young Lee Iacocca.  But his mother became ill, and he returned to Boston to care for her as she battled cancer.  His father died shortly after he returned, and this young man with a bright future buried both of his parents within 3 years of college graduation.

He was lost.  An only child, his extended family of aunts and cousins could only provide so much help…  It was the saxophone that again gave him sustenance.  He returned to the jazz clubs, surrounded by a family of musicians, until he was able to get his feet under him and return to engineering.

Fast forward to the 1970’s – Dad is living in the suburbs of Cincinnati with four children.  He encouraged my oldest sister, S, to play saxophone – having the old tenor sax repaired, gold-plated.  It found new life.  For him, as much as S.  A few years later, my sister, T, switched from flute to sax, and rocked that old tenor in the high school jazz band for a few years.  It had to give him tremendous pleasure to sit through those interminable music programs, just to get to the set by the jazz band…

Last weekend, during a conversation with Mom, she asked me about the sax… she had assumed Dad had given it to me, since it didn’t turn up during the last round of household excavations. 

daisyfae:  No, i didn’t play sax.  i assumed S or T would have it…

Mom:  S was asking about it, she doesn’t have it either.  T wouldn’t have taken it, since she’d have had to lug it on an airplane.

daisyfae:  i don’t have it.  we need to find it.  i really hope it hasn’t been sold…

Regardless of where it is, the sad truth is that my initial reaction is that someone has removed the saxophone.  And that somehow it has found it’s way into a pawnshop somewhere…  Mom wasn’t tracking my thought train.  

There will be hell to pay…

Young At Heart

Very tiring week, which included another late night with the theater posse for karaoke following an evening of auditions, work responsibilities keeping me awake and some internal thought-rumblings regarding where i was a year ago* – all of which have interfered with my sleep.  Last night?  Tucked in to bed with work readings and then happily off to sleep before 11:00 pm (rare for me). 

Awakened by the phone, i groggily reached across the bed and snagged it from the nightstand.  With no idea of what time it was, i saw it was The Girl, and briefly experienced that momentary parental terror thing… but it still didn’t quite wake me up!

The Girl:  Mom, you have to turn on Leno**, there’s this amazing group…

daisyfae: [blurble… snort…] huh?

The Girl:  Oh, shit.  Did i wake you up?  I’m sorry – i didn’t realize it was so late.

daisyfae: [flipping channels… scratching assorted body bits…] hlumphf?

The Girl: They’re called the Young at Heart Chorus!  A bunch of senior citizens singing rock covers!  They’re amazing!

daisyfae: [grinning wildly… staring in awe at the spectacle on the television…]

The Girl:  The Ramones, Mom!  They’re singing The Ramones!

Yes – it was beyond beautiful… and well worth a brief interruption in my sleep.  Ladies and Gents, i present the Young At Heart Chorus – covering “I want to be sedated“, and then there’s David Byrne’s “Road to Nowhere“…

It is without question that i shall join up as soon as i get my retiree card!  I think they could use a choreographer…  and it’s cool that my daughter knows me well enough to know i wouldn’t have wanted to miss this!


* One year ago this week i was finishing radiation.  One year ago this week, i joined up with Team In Training and committed to run a half-marathon.  One year ago this week i was turning on my denial machine full blast, and putting the cancer behind me…

** For any non-US readers, Jay Leno hosts “The Tonight Show”.  Which starts at 11:30 pm, and finishes at 12:30 am.  Which is why my Vampyre-Daughter should have realized that it was, in fact, just a little late to be calling the old lady on a work night…