The significance of the insignificant

>> Friday, September 30, 2005

One of the very first past life memories that Steph and I experienced together involved a little field daisy. Steph had memories of our lounging on the ground with his head in my lap and me making daisy chains out of little miniature daisies and placing them on his head as crowns. It seemed like such an insignificant thing, but it was a very prominent memory that we both had. The strange thing about it is that neither of us had ever even seen this type of field daisy growing where we lived. It was during our trip to Laxenburg that we discovered the Palais garden lawns literally covered in these little, white, field daisies. We were blown away.



After this trip, I found that, like Steph already had, I had fallen in love with the city of Vienna. I've never been in a place where I felt so at home, nor so celebrated. As soon as people found out that I was a musician, I was treated as if I were royalty–nothing like here in the U.S. where you're looked down upon and treated like some kind of a deadbeat who needs to get a "real" job.

Steph found a website called ZoomVienna, full of the most beautiful photos of Vienna that I've ever seen. This young U.S. ex-patriot from Boston has captured the color, whimsy, and imagination of this incredible city through his outstanding, creative, and imaginative photos. It has become one of my favorite sites on the web.


What is True Love?

>> Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The following is an answer that Steph gave to the question on a friend's blog, "Is true love when you pray for someone else more than you pray for yourself?" I felt Steph's answer was so outstanding that it bore repeating.

I don't think that love has anything to do with prayer at all. True love is hard to define, hard to recognize, and hard to maintain, and yet it's the easiest thing in the world–despite all this–when it's right. When you love, the other person's needs–both big and small, important and trivial–mean as much to you as your own, even when that's not easy. It is friendship first and foremost, shared goals secondly, romance thirdly, and sexual lastly.

Love is paradoxical: as the physical passions mellow, the spiritual/emotional/intellectual passions grow hot. Love is evolution, love is constant change, love is constant redefining, love is constant re-invention. If you want a blissful life with no challenges, no trials, and no sacrifice–especially on the deepest personal level of self-definition and personal self-awareness, then run away, because love is a furnace that fires your darkest, stoniest coals down to pure diamonds. And as I've learned personally, Great Love exacts a great price; it is not free and it is not a gift, it is something that is earned both by the individuals and by the couple.

Sound trite or cliche? Take it from someone who made a lot of mistakes looking for love, but was finally found by it at the age of 48. If you're impatient, you will make impatient choices.

One last cliche: you cannot look for love outside of yourself. You must find it within and then wait for your readied soul to draw the right person to you. The hunger for love should not be confused with the desire for marriage or for having children; it must exist in and of itself, and when you are ready for them, your soul mate will appear. No sooner and no later.


Changes from within

>> Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Something has happened to me. Something deep inside of me has changed, and I can't explain it. Since my return from Austria I have continued to experience a sense of calm and release. Gone are the feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, anger, depression, and all of the accompanying behaviors. There is a new sense of calm that I can't explain. I suppose I could chalk it up to a number of things, not the least being the fact that my body is finally starting to balance out chemically, but it goes deeper than that.

Something happened to me in Vienna, something that permeated my entire being and unlocked the prison door for me. Earlier, I wrote that after the experience I had at the Karinthian Gate in Vienna, my weight started to drop dramatically. I wish I had pictures of me now–just a little over two weeks since we have returned and I'm still dropping weight. The changes are so dramatic that now even my children are noticing. (It's the ultimate compliment when your 13 year-old son exclaims, "Wow Mom! Look at you! You're hot!") What has happened on the inside is manifesting on the outside.


Hope for the future

>> Monday, September 26, 2005

Yesterday afternoon around 15 teenagers descended upon our home and invaded our living room for nearly five hours. It wasn't a party of any kind, it was a meeting of GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance). The amazing thing about these kids was the fact that every last one of them was polite, well-behaved, intelligent, articulate, and concerned about the future of their fledgling club, designed to give support to Stillwater High School's gay students, and students with gay parents/relatives. It was touching and inspiring to listen to these kids–the vast majority of them being straight–voice their concerns to their faculty sponsor (Mrs. Hendricks–speech and drama) over the opposition they have already received from some local ministers.

Then after their meeting was done, they headed for the kitchen counter and helped themselves to the variety of snacks that they brought and proceeded to sit in the living room floor and make friendship bracelets to sell at Western Day, the proceeds going to benefit hurricane relief in Louisiana. These kids took five hours out of their Sunday afternoon to discuss their concerns for the future of their club and make bracelets to help people in need. When they finished, each and every one of them helped Lauren and Heather clean up our living room and then as they filed out, they each thanked me for opening up our home to them and told me what a lovely home we had. I was truly impressed.

All I can say is, Wow! Kids like these really do give me hope for the future of this country.


Life's hard lessons

>> Friday, September 23, 2005

My daughter, Lauren, has been working along with one of her openly gay friends at school for some time now in getting a Gay-Straight Alliance club started in their high school. This has been a dream of Zack's for over a year, and last year, Lauren joined him in his efforts towards gaining faculty support and sponsorship. They were overwhelmed at the number of faculty who actually supported it, and when they went to their principal to speak to him, they were blown away at how easily he approved it.

At their first meeting they had 25 students show up and they were overwhelmed. Lauren was riding on a high and rightfully so. However, I warned her that when word got out to the parents and community of this, they would be flooded with opposition and that they would be in for a fight. Sure enough, it came. Not two days after their first meeting two local pastors called the school with their "concerns" and within 24 hours had an audience with the school principal. Today, Lauren and Zack have been called in to meet again with the principal concerning GSA, for what they have yet to learn. I suspect that he will be sharing some of the "concerns" that were voiced to him by the local pastors. I also suspect that our high school chapter of GSA is in for a real fight for survival. In fact, I won't be at all surprised if the ACLU has to get in on this one.

I'm not going to protect Lauren from this one. She is going to see some real opposition and she is probably going to witness some folks getting very ugly. It's character-building time and personally, I think Lauren is up for the challenge! Lauren, as well as my other two children, Heather and Nathan have learned a lot about love in the last several years. And one of the most important lessons that they have learned is that love is not exclusive to the heterosexual community. They have observed the love that Steph and I demonstrate towards one another as well as towards them and for over a year now, they have basked in that love and have been nurtured by it. It has been amazing to watch these three kids blossom. Now Lauren has the opportunity to share the strength and courage of that love with her peers and in the end, love will win out.


Moving on with life

>> Thursday, September 15, 2005

We've been home for a week now, and life is starting to return to some sense of normalcy. (Or is it?) I'm taxi-cabbing once again. Between Lauren and band and Nathan with football, that keeps me busy driving. I don't even want to think about it once Lauren starts back to work. Heather is still pretty much of a homebody so the only thing I have to do with her is roust her away from the computer so that I can check my mail and make my blog entries. Can life be normal with three teenagers?

Work has been good. I've found that I actually missed it, and I certainly missed the people. I love the people with whom I work. They're like family to me. And they were all very excited to get the reports and see the pictures of our trip. I keep trying to remind them, however, that this wasn't a vacation. This really was a working trip, so we didn't get as many pictures as we might have if we were there on a vacation. It's kind of difficult to take pictures while you're being filmed!

We came home only to find our country in tremendous turmoil what with hurricane Katrina and the Gulf Coast, the death of Supreme Court Chief Justice Renquist, the resignation of the director of FEMA, and gas prices soaring out the roof. It seems like things have literally been falling apart at the seams. It was difficult to stay abreast of everything while we were gone. We did catch a little of CNN International and got the terrible news concerning New Orleans but quite after-the-fact. (Every cab driver who figured out that we were Americans and who could speak English took the opportunity to express their extreme shock at this sort of thing happening in America. And, of course, every one of them said that Bush was an idiot.) All of this only served to make us want to hasten our permanent return to Vienna.

So here we are...patiently waiting as the film goes through the editing process. Our jobs are finished. Now we wait. It's due out around the end of December. I wonder how normal life will be after that?


What does it all mean?

>> Wednesday, September 14, 2005

It is hard to believe that it has now been a week since we arrived home from Austria. In fact, our airplane was touching down on the runway in Oklahoma City about now. Steph and I have both run through the gamut of emotions since then, ranging from sheer fatigue driven depression, to euphoria and wonder. I have to admit that it is difficult leaving Austria and all the experiences there behind. I've said many times to several people that I found my soul in Vienna. Again, I can't go into the details here, but suffice it to say that there was one, singular moment where things began to change for me. From that point on, I would never be the same. Interesting too, that the photographs of me after that point reveal that my weight started to drop dramatically. It was as if my body realized that I no longer needed the extra padding for protection and what had taken place on the spiritual level began to manifest itself on the physical level. As Steph has said many times, "As above, so below." The physical body is only a reflection of the soul. (The difference was so dramatic, that when I returned to work my boss could hardly believe her eyes! In fact, a week later she's still talking about how much weight I lost and bragging about it to everyone she sees. She even had Liz take a new picture of me for the clinic website!)

I've yet to sort it all out, and perhaps I never will completely. But one thing I do know is that I'll never be the same. I can sense it deep down–there's a peace and tranquility that I've never experienced before. No more feelings of inadequacy, guilt, or anxiety. It was really interesting that this last Monday we had our first meeting of the season for Chamber Singers. Because we have a new conductor we were all required to re-audition, with no promises that the old people would be accepted back in. Everyone was pretty nervous about it. I have to admit that it was a bit unnerving as I've always hated auditions–especially those in which I'm required to sight sing. This was one of the toughest auditions I've ever been through, but to my amazement, I remained calm and I did VERY well. In fact, I would dare say it was probably the best audition I've ever given.

I'm not sure what life has for me down the road, but one thing I know for sure–nothing bad is still happening.



>> Sunday, September 11, 2005

The greatest bulk of the shoots for me happened in Vienna. In fact, according to the plot of the film, I'm not even supposed to be in Salzburg as Steph is supposed to be traveling there alone to wrestle with some ghosts. I am supposed to have stayed behind in Vienna to reflect on the experiences that we had there. (I learned just today that Larry really did intend to leave me behind in Vienna and take only Steph to Salzburg, but Steph told him several weeks before we left on the trip, "That isn't going to happen! I need her there with me." So I guess that little declaration changed things and I went.)

Larry decided to film an interview with me set up like I was in a cafe in Vienna, missing Steph and concerned about what was happening in Salzburg. It turned out to be, according to Larry, one of my finest moments. He later said to Steph, "You will be proud of your girl". I felt very confident during that interview and was pleased with it myself. I had already had so many life-changing experiences in Vienna that I think it was already beginning to show in my demeanor and in my confidence. My cathartic moment came at the Karinthian Gate, just off the Kartnerstrasse in Vienna on Thursday evening. I can't really go into it here, as it is a very dramatic and emotional point in the film and I don't want to give it away, but I can tell you that for me, it was a life-changing experience and I walked away from there a different woman--at peace with myself, my life, and the world around me. I told Steph, as we walked from there to the Volksgarten that I felt as if a ton of weight had been lifted from my shoulders and that lifetimes of guilt and bottled up emotion had all melted away.

I found Salzburg to be a lovely town, but much more bustling and busy than I had expected. Our hotel was probably on the busiest street corner in the entire city, and we had a corner room so you could hear every vehicle that drove by. One of my favorite moments came when I called my kids on Saturday. It was about two p.m. for us, but for them it was only about 7:00 a.m. When I called, Lauren answered and I could tell that I had awakened her. Her voice was sleepy, "Hello..." she answered. "Lauren...?" Again she replied sleepily, "Yeah..."
"It's Mom, Lauren."
"MOM!!! Oh Wow! Aren't you in Salzburg?"
I replied, "We sure are!" and as I did so I stuck the phone out the open window so that she could hear all the pealing church bells. "Hear the bells!?"

Once we crossed the river into the old city, things changed. The modern world was left behind and what lay before us was not just the Salzburg of Mozart, but an ancient city full of history and stories far beyond and further back even than Mozart. As we walked (sometimes climbed) the cobblestone streets I got the sense that there were many ghosts in this town and not just the ones with which Steph needed to wrestle. Unfortunately we didn't have much time to actually explore Salzburg or get a feel for what this city is really about. We were here because of the film and that's what we focused on. Steph and I have determined, however, that we will return to Salzburg, hopefully very soon, and give this beautiful city the time it is due and most certainly deserves, from us.


A moment of sweet revenge

>> Saturday, September 10, 2005

As I've already stated in earlier posts, the Figarohaus was under complete renovation when we were there filming. Because of this, none of the rooms contained furnishings and the walls were bare, awaiting a fresh, new coat of paint. During a break in the filming, Steph called me into the room which had served as the bedroom to Mozart and his wife, Constanze, and directed me to stand in the corner of the room where the bed was. She then walked over and took my face into her hands and leaned over and gave me a very passionate, lingering, dizzying kiss (it reminded me of the kiss she had given me in the hallway of her penthouse in Ventura, years ago, during the soiree she gave when I came out there to meet her). But before the moment was finished, we heard Larry call from another room, "Okay Wolfi! We're ready to go!" Steph looked up and snarled in the direction of Larry's voice and called out, "Just a moment! I'm in here being unfaithful to my wife!"

Needless to say, it feels good to be riding in the front seat now.


Diana's Temple

>> Friday, September 9, 2005

It looks like a setting from out of a romance novel, this large, ornate, Baroque pavilion in the middle of a vast clearing in the wooded gardens of Palais Laxenburg. Built in the early 18th century, it served as the summer get-away palace for Maria Theresa and her court, and in Mozart's day for Emperor Joseph II and his court. Michael Kelly describes in his memoirs the summer of 1786 that the Emperor and his entire court, including the court opera company, of whom Nancy Storace was prima buffa, spent there. A performance of Le Nozze di Figaro was given there as well as various other operas and individual concerts and entertainments.

The pavilion called the "Lusthaus", (House of Love), or more commonly known as "Diana's Temple" is the setting for the scene in Steph's book, Night Music, where Mozart confesses to Nancy that despite the fact that everything within him cries out that it is wrong, he can no longer deny that he is in love with her. It is one of the most tender and moving scenes in the book and this setting provides the perfect backdrop. My heart leapt as I was driven to the edge of the grounds which had been freshly mown for us that morning in preparation for the shoots.

As I stepped out of the car and made my way towards it, I could barely breathe. I kept repeating under my breath, "This is it!" Steph was driven up in a separate car and the moment she stepped out, she called to me, "Can you believe it? It's just as we described it!" Neither of us had ever been there before and had only very recently (just a couple of weeks before the shoot) seen pictures of it on the web and yet, in Steph's book we had given an eerily accurate description of it with it's intricate lattice work, Corinthian columns, and domed, frescoed ceiling.

The camera crew scurried around to film us in our initial reactions. They too, seemed to be awestruck not only by it's beauty, but it's significance to us and our reactions to it. This was just one of the many moving, emotional, and memorable moments during our on location shoots.

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood,
Perhaps I had a miserable youth;
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past,
There must have been a moment of truth.

For here you are, standing there, loving me,
Whether or not you should;
So somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.

Nothing comes from nothing,
Nothing ever could;
So somewhere in my youth or childhood,
I must have done something good.

(Something Good from "The Sound of Music" by Rogers and Hammerstein)


New friends, wonderful memories

>> Thursday, September 8, 2005

On our last evening in Salzburg we met up with some British friends, Liz (who I met in an online Mozart forum), and her husband Nigel. Words can't express what a jovial and enjoyable evening we had together! There was not one tense or uncomfortable moment the entire evening. It was difficult to believe that we had never met these people before, we got along so famously--just like old friends. We have come to the conclusion that we really must be old friends. Liz and Nigel are two of the most interesting, intelligent, amiable, and warm people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. It was an evening I will not forget.


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