Friday, August 31, 2007

The new coach

One single lesson is definetely not enough to tell if you click with a new vocal coach, or if you two match, but I can certainly say that the experience felt very encouraging and inspiring to go back to my favourite form of music, the lied.

I was in her place for two whole hours, in which I told her about my previous training, my plans, and my needs; and she told me about her own background, how she can help me, and we burnt CDs with scores and recordings of great performances of a piece we’ll be studying together—Schubert’s ‘Die Schöne Wüllerin’ song cycle. We did vocalizes, so that she could check my voice, and worked on an arietta I’d been working to exhaustion with my previous vocal coach in Sao Paulo, Giordani’s ‘Caro Mio Ben’.

The teacher is from Cuba, where she had most of her training, so she’s already warned she’s strict and demanding. Not that it was necessary, because while we were doing ‘Caro Mio Ben’, she went through each musical phrase, making sure I got everything in perfect tune. She also made me control my unquiet, ever-swinging body during the exercises. However militar, she was pretty nice and generous—gave me TWO lessons in a row for the price of one!!

I got home, burnt some Ian Bostridge MP3s, checked some of the scores she burnt for me, sorted through my collection of classical singers and studied the first verse in the first lied she assigned me.

So far, it’s working!!
Image: Daniel Taylor, a Canadian counter-tenor my ex-vocal coach adores, playing the part of Oberon in Britten’s musical setting to ‘Midsummer’s Night Dream’ by Shakespeare, in Pittsburgh. Celena Shafer is Tytania, and Justin Brill is Puck.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Today, I finally resume my vocal training here in Madrid. I’ll have my first lesson with my new vocal coach this afternoon, five o’clock - local time. Let’s see if I can still hit the High C!

Image: Italian tenor Roberto Alagna performing at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Over one week without your worst addiction and favourite creative block does things to you. To me, a broken computer—and a very exciting visit to the Witchcraft Museum in Castilla Y León—made me finish three books I’d been ‘reading’ for the past three months, write at least two songs, walk the Labyrinth on a daily basis and, best of all, go back to my magical log book, which I call ‘Book of Stars’ instead of the usual ‘book of shadows’. My Book of Stars feels very clearing, infinite and full of bright gems to me.
I had been keeping records of my Otherworld visits, synchronicities, skills learnt, tools acquired and general experiences since when I was 11 years old, but I made that a solid habit and a diligent procedure in 2003, which was perfect timing, right when I went really down with one of the hugest depression crises to date.
Taking stock opens the doors to Wonders. Clowns, faeries, ghosts, and all the fantastic fauna pressed and squashed between the pages are able to breathe again, and come together with you, to heal, recover, and retrieve a natural and very healthy sense of Pride. The kind that usually fades out when you move in with somebody else, a long way from the place you first called home.
All lives are filled with wonder. We all fly to the Stars, excavate ancient treasures and swim the Waters of Life on a regular basis; we are just not trained to remember that when quotidian life tramples over the delicate signals we receive all the time. Without a travel log, it is easy to forget how a hazelnut guaranteed the passage to the Mystic Grove, and how a shower with water of white roses prepared one to meet the Lady of the Lake in Her underwater castle.
But as you recollect and reminisce, you marvel at how present the wisdom and the learning of it all has always followed you, everywhere and all the time.
Plans to expand the circumference of my praxis magica have already been put to practice. And some others for a more systematized Book of Stars are soon to be, too. As I have grown denser and more comprehensive with age, I feel the need of a corresponding travel log, especially for easier reference and wiser record keeping. I’ll probably be glad I did it another four years in the Future.
Onward, I turn. Spiralwise.

Image: One of Lady Cottington’s victims, displayed in her ‘Pressed Fairy Book’, by Brian Froud. Do not pity him. As soon as the book is open, he’ll be alive again.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I did.


After a while you learn
the subtle difference between
holding a hand and chaining a soul
and you learn
that love doesn’t mean leaning
and company doesn’t always mean security.
And you begin to learn
that kisses aren’t contracts
and presents aren’t promises
and you begin to accept your defeats
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, not the grief of a child
and you learn
to build all your roads on today
because tomorrow’s ground is
too uncertain for plans
and futures have a way of falling down
in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
that even sunshine burns
if you get too much
so you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul
instead of waiting for someone
to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
you really are strong
you really do have worth
and you learn
and you learn
with every goodbye, you learn…
(Veronica A. Shoffstal, 1971)

I feel homesick, tribeless, and profoundly free.

There is a paradox somewhere in the process of getting what you need, because when you do, you miss your old life. It must be, though, in the tiny print at the bottom of the contract. However, it kinda teaches you that all lives and ways of living have their blessings, and all blessings should be treasured. They’re what brings more in.

Part of the Wisdom of the Crossroads is that, once you choose your path, you need to carry on. Looking back may be useful and warming, but holding back won't let you have either of the crossed ways.

What are the blessings of your life as it is now?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Self-awareness Exercise

1. First name and middle name? Middle names are uncommon where I come from.

2. What holiday is your birthday closest to? Spring Equinox (in North Hemisphere).

3. Favorite fruit? Any berry, but lately bilberry is the chart topper in my fridge.

4. Does it bother you when someone says they'll call you and they don't? Lately, I’ve been happy nobody calls me. Peace rules!

5. Are you allergic to anything? Anise.

6. Is there someone/something you want? Yeah, all the time. Also, I’m usually working on getting them.

7. When was the last time you went swimming? I can’t swim.

8. How many U.S states have you been to? None.

9. How many states have you lived in? Two. RJ and SP.

10. Have you ever lived outside the U.S.? Yeah, my whole life! :D

11. What's your favorite kind of alcoholic drink? Morangoska, I guess (Strawberry caipiroska, a very Brazilian thing: squashed strawberry, sugar/honey and vodka!)

12. Does anyone like you? Hell, yeah!

13. Do you have any strange pets? My boyfriend.

14. What is your dream car? A zeppellin. How do you spell that?

15. What'd you do yesterday? Wrote a poem, composed a blog entry, listened to Julia Cameron’s CDs ‘Reflections on the Artist’s Way’. I also gave my boyfriend head in the morning.

16. Are you bipolar? Yeah, but fortunately, I’ve truly learnt to live without the worst part of it.

17. So do you and your ex's have a good relationship? Yes, with ALL of them, except for one—who doesn’t have a good relationship with anybody except for his dog. Come to think of it, I’ve got more than enough reasons to believe that dog lovers are usually sociopaths to some degree…

18. Where would you want to go on a date? Neuschwanstein Castle, on a romantic date, but there’s no chance my boyfriend would enjoy that, so I guess the only time in my life I’ll be able to be romantic is when I go to a scorching hot nudist beach with roving dogs and no trees around. Or a place with tecnically perfect eighteen-century architecture and smoker-allowed restaurants. On a dream solo Artist Date, I’d choose Alex Grey’s Church of Sacred Mirrors, in NY.

19. When's the last time you were kissed? 40 minutes ago or so.

20. Has anyone ever sang or played for you personally? Yeah.

21. Ever been kissed under fireworks? No. I’ll have to try that one, but being kissed under the rain is marvellous!

22. What was the last text message you received? In the mobile, Diane telling me it was ok that I didn’t come that morning due to a last-minute change of plans here. Online, Somebody telling me his husband wanted to have a shower with me! :D

23. Have you ever bungee jumped? Oh, Gods, NO, but it’s on my to-do-before-I-die list!!

24. Have you ever kayaked? No.

25. Has anyone ten years older than you ever hit on you? All the time. They seem to like me better than ppl my age.

26. Are you an extreme racist? No, I am not.

27. What sound are you listening to right now? Nothing. Jose asked me to put his favourite singer, a VERY BORING greek moaner, and I pretended I didn’t hear him, so we’re in silence. The more I can postpone haris alexiou, the merrier!

28. What's your favorite song at the moment? Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s My Life’. After moving from my parents’ house, I lost much of my grunge roots and now I find myself loving one of the most anti-grunge groups of the 90s…

29. What was the last movie you watched? A documentary about Dragons.

30. When was the last time you went on a trip? I think two weeks ago, we went to a miserable, hot, dry village in the middle of España Profunda called La Seca.

31. Have you ever seriously vandalized someone else's property? Only companies I worked for. No, serious, I have received much more damage then caused my whole life.

32. Have you ever been punched? Yeah, at school, several times x(

33. What's the first thing you notice about the same sex? Lips.

35. What do you usually order from Olive Garden? Ok, no Olive Garden anywhere I’ve lived, so I’ll tell you what I order from Chinese deliveries: Fried Tou-fu/Tofu with spicy sauce.

36. Say something totally random about yourself? I hate the heat.

38. Has anyone ever said you looked like a celebrity? In Zaadz about every two weeks somebody totally unknown came out of the blue to tell me I look like Orlando Bloom. In a way, I agree. Do you?

39. Do you have freckles? No, since when I was a kid. My shoulders used to be all freckled.

40. Are you comfortable with your height? Yeah. Now, I am.

41. Do you love someone right now? Yes.

42. How tall are you? 1,79 m. I think that’s 5’ 10” in English.

43. Do you speak any other language other than English? Yeah, lots o’ them!

44. Have you ever ridden in a limo? No, I’ll do what on my Oscar evening.

45. Has anyone you were really close to passed away? Hm, I’m not sure I was close to my grandparents.

46. Do you watch MTV? Only when I’m in somebody else’s house, in a party.

47. What TV show do you hate? Anything too heterosexual.

48. What's something that really annoys you? Well, everything I can think of right now is the average Madrilean habits. Smoking like there’s no tomorrow, angry shouting, spending over six hours sitting down spilling useless opinions on the table, general empty vanity, inability to truly listen, conservativeness and unleashed, uneducated dogs.

49. Do you think Paris deserved jail time? I don’t care.

50. Do you have a celebrity crush? Kinda. Not strong enough to be called a ‘crush’, though…

51. Do you have a pet? No.

52. What is behind you? Clothes Jose hangs on the back of the chair.

53. Do you drive when you go on long trips? No, I hate driving.

54. What's the latest you have ever stayed out? Well after sunrise, at university.

55. Have you ever thought that you were honestly going to die? Yeah, when I had the Dengue fever. The sensation is the worst possible, because your whole body inflammates, and when you take any medicine, it’s even worse.

56. Were you ever rushed by an ambulance into the emergency room? Yeah, less than 4 months ago!

57. What are you wearing? Yellow t-shirt and underwear. My uniform.

58. Who do you live with? Don José.

59. What color is your hair? Brown.

60. What color are your eyes? Hazel.

[Image: me in La Seca. Even there, the Moon shines, and the underground river flows. Despite the Drought.]

Beneath the Ice

An underground river flows. The tepid waters won't leave us in need, and the flow itself connects all of us, despite our selfishness and greed.

And above, over the ice, we glide.
Brian Boitano again, doing Nessum Dorma (performed by Pavarotti).

Friday, August 10, 2007

...and the healing goes on...

Brian Boitano performing Gypsy Kings' 'Un Amor' on solid ice. Beauty glides.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Losses are for real. And a certain quantity of them can’t be made up, compensated, fixed, forgotten, forgiven, and not even substituted. Some things only come once in your life, and once they’re taken away no matter how hard one tries, sooner or later it has to be admitted: you lost something/someone dear. And you even though are can travel back in time to experience what you lost in your imagination, you cannot freeze time there, and you don’t have the power to un-do what has been done. You certainly can go ahead and revive what you lost ten years after, but that brings an awful feeling of retardation and immaturity that makes the whole experience even worse than it would be to just admit the loss.

I don’t think our culture is equipped with what it takes to deal with the feelings that an actual loss generates, and sadly there’s no disguise to the hard pain that an actual loss is. So we just use our best intentions and the sharpest knife culture equips us with: Denial.

When I share the pain of an actual loss with somebody, I am sometimes showered with reparation plans, make-up for the scar tissue and general useless Denial tools; or, more usually, I’m labeled with the victim-complex-that-lives-in-the-past thing. All in all, I’m in actuality unable to share the painful reality that I am living, so I just make the decision to not attempt it again. And another consequence of actual loss arises: loneliness.

When you lose, you’re alone in your loss. That’s how things go, and I don’t think it’s because people don’t want to share the loss, it is just that they can’t. A loss is ultimately an experience of radical inability to commune and communicate, a deprivation that cannot be fulfilled. That’s why to lose is the opposite of to win, and in turn that’s why when you win, you feel in community.

Rainer Maria Rilke, in his essential ‘Letters to a Young Poet’, wrote that we are all alone, and that this loneliness must be loved and trusted, because it teaches us to not demand counsel or rely on understanding. Furthermore, it gives us space to grow.

That way, embracing the loneliness, we are still not able to unwrite what has been written, but we can certainly garner the power to freely write our story from now on. The pain is there, what was lost isn’t; however, you guarantee that the real cause of actual losses—overboard interference in your natural processes—won’t ever again do you harm.

Therefore, just this time, I would like to ask that nobody leaves a comment here in my blog. Just for this entry. All your comments on my other posts are welcome, and have a profoundly positive influence on me, but this time I wish to savour the protective power of my loneliness.

Thanks for understanding.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Heavenly Blessing

48 Summer days later, it finally rained in Madrid this morning!!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Red Thread

I remember when I moved to São Paulo, lots of secret doors opening for me where many people took for granted as solid walls. Once, on a quite magical day, my mother went to visit me, and we went to the Japanese district. Passing by a huge fenced gate with a thick wall of treetops behind it, I ringed the bell. That’s an odd (if not risky!) thing to do, but it’s certainly something that sounds like me. Somebody must have pressed a remote-control button inside, because with a buzz, the fenced gate opened wide. I checked to see if there were dogs, and entered. Inside, I discovered a temple of Sukyo Mahikari, a pretty young Japanese religious tradition whose practice of Okiyome helped me ground, cleanse and break free from much of the garbage I had with me from my previous life experience for the whole first half of my São Paulo days.

I love these moments when my impulsiveness leads me to great discoveries. I sure feel that they are my connection to something higher than me, something that has received many names, but is much more of what brings us together than what tears us apart. A nimble and compassionate intelligence that sees us through and follows us so close that we very seldom acknowledge its presence.

My story here in Madrid, although a bit harder, at last begins to reveal this Red Thread weaving pieces of it all together, too, it seems. First, I take a free magazine on the bar. I always picks these up around here in Madrid, that’s how I give the Thread a helping hand (but the neverchanging skeptic Jose calls this a symptom of Diogenes Syndrome—when he’s generous, otherwise it’s just ‘collecting junk’). It all began with an article in a magazine about a place that has exhibitions, concerts, events and, my favourite thing to do in public, workshops! I took a workshop there on Sufi Poetry and Music, met Iñaki, who mentioned some weekly Harmonic Choir meetings almost for free downtown. There, I got the heads-up for a Tensegrity group on holidays for the Summer, but that will start again in September.

The other Red Thread I can track by now began with the Europride events. At the parade, some people were distributing fliers nobody took. I took them all, and looked to check what they offered. Of course 99% were those boring barbie sex parties with drag queen performances and ultra-expensive tickets, but one was about a group of gay buddhists who meet twice a month for yoga and walking meditation. For free, too. Today, I took the heart to go to the first meeting. Since I left São Paulo, I haven’t seen so many nice people together in one single place!

I’m confident more good things will come from there, if I stick to them. If I ever ‘made sense’ and said no to any of these, I’d have broken the chain, and blocked my own unfolding. The Red Thread is always there, and it takes you as far as you keep saying yes to it. Say no, and you cut yourself short of your promising blessings.

[Disclaimer: The Diogenes Syndrome entry on Wikipedia says that frontal lobe injury may be a cause. Don’t tell anybody, because everytime I talk to my mom she asks everything twice to test me and check if I had permanent injury from the accident in late April. I’d rather be collecting junk than being considered impaired by people a lot less capable than myself!]

Here’s a song I wish to dedicate to the omnipresent, multinamed Presence that guides, inspires, opens doors and weaves bits of the story of our lives together in one single piece. Written and performed by the great Dougie MacLean, ‘She Will Find Me’:

He walks he does not run
He has no overwhelming need to fly
His heart remains unbroken
no need to search the sky
But me I’ve found that place
I wander recklessly ..and

I know that she will find me
I know that she will find me
Even if I vanish without trace
O and though I’m running blindly
I know that she will find me
Hiding with the shadows that I chase

No-one can rock his boat or make standing
waves upon his sea
Everything is calm and even steady safe
as it can be
But me I’ve never found that place
I wander recklessly …but

Sometimes we search too deep
that’s when the darkness feeds our fear
We turn away from one another
just in case we get too near
Me I stand this mountain top
I shout so she can hear …and

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Lúnasa blessings

Today is the full moon here in Madrid, so I figure this is the right time to wish everybody a happy harvest season. May you treasure all your goodies, count your blessings and honour your achievements. It is my considered opinion and personal experience that we're all usually more blessed than we can understand.

I wish you a merry Lúnasa, whatever you call it. Lammas, Thanksgiving or Croquet Party. :)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Spanish Torture

Yesterday I had one of those depressing five-hour meals with Jose’s theatre group, late night and a LONG way from home. Honestly, I should’ve known better by now that these things have a more devastating effect on me than staying alone at home eating ice cream. (Yum! By the way, I’ve tried Ben & Jerry’s this week, and feel in love!) But I’m always concerned about disappointing Jose, because I know that these things are very important to him, and he loves having me around. But I should’ve been cockier (this one’s for you, K!), and just declined when the invitation came. But the fact that I didn’t do my Morning Pages yesterday certainly didn’t help get me through the day without major emotional damage.

The whole talk went as usual, with the wisdom being judged by the volume of the voice, and although this time they fortunately took a couple of hours before starting talking about the two guys who left the group last month in bad terms, the first half of the meal was centred in the fact that I don’t cook meat for Jose and Jose cooks vegetarian food for me.

[Cultural Shock Interlude: In Spain, everybody is supposed to cook like a master chef, and every household features at least three cuisine books. In bookshops, a large, hardcover wonder full of pictures and printed in glossy paper costs about one-fourth of the cover price of an ordinary pocket novel or self-help book.]

Honestly, from the bottom of my heart, there’s a thousand things I can come up with from the very top of my mind that feels worse than cooking corpse pieces, so I don’t think I’d refuse cooking meat for him, but as I worked my way in defense, through all the shouting from all sides in tandem, the cigarettes and the AWFUL sandwich I paid lots of euros for that didn’t taste good or fed me (besides having TUNA when the menu said it was a VEGETABLE sandwich!), I didn’t know if it was more depressing to continue shouting or to just ignore everybody, keep fanning myself with my hand fan and be still. Naturally, for me the first possibility was the easiest, however high the price turned out to be. Again.

I could totally have survived the bizarre situation that’s somewhat part of my routine now in Spain, but as I shouted and remembered everything I cooked that Jose so promptly labels as ‘Feces’, including my first night here in Spain, when Jose invited his friends to eat my risotto and NOBODY at the table liked it, and made sure I KNEW they didn’t, I liberated emotional garbage I had been accumulating for the past three months. The torrential outflow of hurt feelings just covered the table. Of course I am aware that that kind of ride is usually a downward spiral. I didn’t surrender to it due to ignorance, though, but due to lack of strength to hold alone all the weight I had on by then. And down I went.

After midnight, we simply had to go, because very fortunately the metro here closes at half past one a.m., and Jose had to work early this morning. On the LONG journey home, the downward wild ride went on and on, and the haunting ghosts gained power. I realised how stupid I was for not fastening my seatbelt before the devastating experience of an extended meal with Spaniards, and felt worse. Then, I remembered some of the precedents. And especially, I began to resent Toledo’s procession in Spring, when they cover the city streets with thyme blossoms. It sounds like an impressive experience. We were in Toledo that day, but not for the procession. We were having a whole-day meal in about seven different bars and restaurants talking mean about people I have no idea of.

That metro ride was long enough to give me a waking-life nightmare.

This morning, I received a lovely private letter from a friend here on Tribe. He confessed calling me cocky in a private conversation with somebody else. I was immediately healed some because I knew at least somebody thought that high of me. Even though I put too little salt or too much cummin in it.

I need drumming, and I need the Bitch Medicine. To consult with the Bitchy One in the Otherworld. But alas, it’s too hot to lie down for fifteen minutes.

Image Disclaimer: Alas, no fruits last night. Only fish, meat and, thanks Gods, fried potato!!