Star Struck (a touring musician UFO story)

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2014 by coyotescribe

Nothing on earth could have prepared us for what happened following a Christmas party we played on the night of December 16, 1978. Back then, and even now, most of what I’d be telling you about would be the gig itself, because everyone always wanted to know: What’s it like standing up there on stage playing rock-n-roll music? But it was after the gig was over when three of us in the band found ourselves in the midst of an otherworldly encounter that transposed our chronic anonymity into a star-filled unveiling.

But first, because there were so many inquiries into our lowly existence as rock-n-roll musicians, I will make a brief reference to the elusive routines of our working Top-40 band. We, along with a slew of other undistinguished musicians, made our money by covering the songs of FAMOUS musicians. We cranked out our gallant renditions from small stages inside clubs and hotel lounges across America, where music fans came to hear live performances of their favorite hit songs.

People from our audiences often said to us, “You make it look so easy.” It wasn’t easy. It never just happened, unless you practiced: practice alone, practice together, practice alone againwe called this woodsheddingand then take a couple of nights to crash-and-burn a new song onstage, facing humiliation before it finally sinks into the groove of, “Oh yeah, it’s pretty easy.” Eventually that song becomes a part of the band, and we, its immortal conduit. A side note here: One onstage train wreck is equal to three hours of rehearsal. Still, for us, making money playing other people’s music was a whole lot better than selling shoes. Even with the late night equipment tear-downs, truck loading, and pot-laced road trips that spawned the strange and irreverent things that went on inside this odd kind of familial musical mix, we were thrilled to be Top-40 musicians. It was our stepping stone to the dream.

We had driven up I-70 from Dayton, Ohio in the one-ton white Ford band truck, loaded with our equipment. The Christmas party was a one-nighter on the outskirts of Columbus, a raucous affair held inside a gymnasium-sized old barn decorated like a holiday block party, with strings of colored lights hanging between lampposts, snowmen and support beams. Sawdust everywhere.

Our band was called Blue Max. We were a Steely-Dan-kicking, lean-mean top-40 machine: guitar, bass, drums, and me, the chick keyboard player—an anomaly in 1978. Larry was our sound man. We needed him for more reasons than just mixing our vocals. Mostly we needed his crazy comedic shit to keep us all sane. We toured all over the Midwest, East Coast and Southeastern states. It wasn’t a glamorous life—Rolling Stone magazine wouldn’t have needed to know our activities from gig to gig—but we constantly reminded ourselves we didn’t slide shoehorns between stinking feet and stiff shoe leather.

We arrived at the gig and unloaded our gear onto the stage, doing our usual head-butting. We had this new silver backdrop that was now part of our standard set-up routine, another piece of equipment that had to be set-up, hooked-up, or hung-up. Our blue-and-gold 5-foot cloth replica of the German WWI flying medal lay inside the folds of the metallic curtain as we unwrapped it. Our Blue Max logo looked impressive hanging over the silver drape, especially when we centered it right above Terry’s drums. But tonight we had an obstacle: a moose head. Our backdrop had to be collared under the neck of the barn’s mascot, who peered out over the crowd from smack-dab in the middle of the backstage wall. We decked him out with boughs of holly, adjusted his silver bib, while the Blue Max was relegated to the no-fly zone behind my keyboards.

We wailed that night, and the crowd went ballistic for rock-n-roll. For our encore, we featured Gary on Alvin Lee’s monstrous 12-minute Woodstock rendition of, “I’m Goin’ Home.” It packs more punch than a runaway locomotive. Gary arched back so far during the guitar solos he looked like he was crouching under a lowering limbo stick. No one wanted us to stop. Whenever people felt that good listening to the band, the music always soared, rebellious and untethered. As loud as we were, it didn’t matter that we couldn’t hear each other; we’d been together long enough to know each other’s rhythms and patterns. Sometimes, something just happens in a moment of a song, or a solo—or on those rare occasions, through the course of an entire night—that can’t be explained. It’s kind of like a needle slipping into the groove on a record. There’s nothing you can do to get out of it, unless you willfully knock yourself across the vinyl. The music just turns underneath you. That’s how easy it had been that night.

Those who followed our band hoped-upon-hope to catch our rising star, while we fantasized about a life of fame that would one day be. They would come to watch, listen, drink and dance, as we the musicians (front-lit by stage lights, back-silhouetted by a silver, metallic 90-percent-reflective backdrop) stood upon beer-soaked stages, inspiring crowds for grueling four-and-a-half-hour-balls-to-the-wall nightshifts. We never lost sight of the dream, and we thrived on the sheer amplitude by which the magic of our music condensed into one glorious stampede. “We were the shits, man,” as Steve, our bass player, would say.

Wind-socked by the buzz in our ears, we tried to think of new ways to enhance equipment teardown, starting with a joint outside. A celebration smoke. Like so many other times, we reminisced about the night’s music and the crazy shit that happens to us on the road. We were packed up and out on the highway by three in the morning. Saturday had relinquished its claim on the night, while Sunday took over the wee mysterious early-morning hours. Larry was behind the wheel of the truck. Gary and I rode with him. I sat in the middle.

It happened somewhere between Springfield and Dayton, sometime between 3:30 and 4:00am. I-70 was virtually devoid of traffic. We saw oncoming headlights of another vehicle maybe once every five minutes. The whir of the tires had silenced us to non-verbal communication, though we were all awake. We knew that about each other. Gary and I knew we didn’t have to keep up the conversation to help Larry stay conscious behind the wheel, and Larry knew we were okay enough that he didn’t need to play court jester to keep us on a smooth track. Gary and I had broken the cardinal rule of touring musicians: Don’t get involved with anyone in the band.

It was a cold night. Snow was thick on the ground. Yet the roads had been cleared by muffler exhaust and the reeling rubber tires of holiday traffic. We played no music on the radio, as our ears required a much-needed rest. Our thoughts were internal, and seemed to be connected somehow, like the silent panoply of stars in the clear black winter sky.

Out there in the night, a star brightened above the southern horizon. What had once seemed like a pinpoint of an especially brilliant star now grew larger. Not a word was said. The three of us waited, staring at the light. Nothing unusual of course, maybe a tower off in the distance, a helicopter with its search light on, a plane maybe. We waited.

It moved closer, with such precision I could already feel an intention behind the expanding light in the sky. I finally broke the silence, and asked, “What IS that?”

Gary replied curiously, “I don’t know.”

We watched. It seemed to be coming our direction, but we couldn’t be sure.

Larry joked, “Hey, why don’t I flash the brights and see if it’ll come right to us.” Then he proceeded to stomp on the high-beam button a few times, flashing our brights at the glowing object. There was no one on the road at that point, just our loaded truck racing along at 70-miles-per-hour.

That was the last funny remark Larry made that night. The object distinctly changed course after he performed his mock summoning ritual. It moved steadily and slowly towards us. We stared in wide-eyed wonder, still asking ourselves the question.

“What IS that?” said Gary.

I continued our circular conversation, “I don’t know.”

Dumbfounded, Larry kept driving. He leaned against the steering wheel, trying to keep his eyes on the road as well as the approaching light. He was scared, I think. But gradually his awe overtook apprehension, until he couldn’t stand it anymore. He slowed down and pulled off to the side of the expressway. We just sat there with the truck idling, the three of us watching this thing move closer and closer toward us, unwavering. We couldn’t yet decipher whether we were imagining it—that maybe we had all gone off our rockersor that this whole thing was really happening right before our very eyes, and we weren’t making it up at all.

It just kept getting brighter, brilliantly white, almost blinding as we stared into it. Then suddenly the craft beamed long monoliths of light to the ground. We thought maybe we were seeing aircraft landing lights. But then, a split second later, the lights seemed to be vacuumed back up into the object.

Larry said, “What was that!?”

Gary and I didn’t answer him, because we had already opened the passenger door and were now scooting off the high vinyl seat. We landed in a pile of snow along the highway, in our stocking feet. We had taken off our shoes earlier to warm our frozen toes by the truck’s blasting floor furnace. But now we stood shoeless, unaware that our feet were slowly being numbed by the stinging prickles of snow.

Larry turned off the engine and the headlights, but he stayed in the truck. Outside, Gary and I were captivated by how black and still the night was. In contrast, the rock-n-roll buzz in our ears shouted inside our heads. Not a sound was coming from the approaching craft. We waited for the bright light to come nearer, hearing nothing out there except the muffled snow-covered terrain of Ohio farmlandscut fields of corn that made hollow whisking sounds whenever a momentary shift of a cold breeze lightly tapped broken cornstalks. Arbors of trees separated adjacent fields and stood like silent sentinels guarding against clamorous intrusions. The winter freeze had left only a memory of the warm breath of earth, whose occupants were supposed to be fast asleep right now.

Larry had slipped out of the driver’s seat, and now stood with us in silence. I felt the pull of something. I think we all did. This night we were bonded together by a linked experience, producing in each of us an opening to new possibilities of what lies beyond. We felt our connection to it, to them, in fact, whoever they were. I could feel their curiosity. And at once I felt at peace. I was lifted by an inexplicable exuberance. A multitude of goose bumps electrified my whole body. The icy winter night fired my internal passion.

We watched the vessel’s bright white light blend into a soft blue. And as it moved over us, everything around us seemed to grow even more still. The world hushed to a dead silence. Time stood frozen. The backs of our heads were resting between our shoulder blades, our eyes looking straight up, our mouths agape. We saw four red lights beaming in a trapezoidal pattern from underneath a smooth metallic surface. It was hard to sense the outline of the craft, but I could tell it was at least as large as a small commercial plane. Below it, I could make out a circle around the red lights, and what looked like a diamond-shaped frame around that. As I found out later, Gary saw it as a long oval-shaped design, with the red lights located inside a circular indentation. He committed to memory what was for him the most significant moment in his life.

The craft was not more than a hundred feet directly above us now. I held the hand of my soul as the hope of the possible made me giggle out loud, and I reached up towards the glimmering red lights and called out, “Hello!” It paused. We held our breath. And a timeless wink was transmitted from this unearthly vessel. Then it started to drift away in a completely new direction, veering off to the northwest. It moved away from us with the same preciseness as it had approached.

We watched for as long as we could as it moved further into the distance, until it blended into the fabric of stars. Then we became aware of our frozen feet. We reluctantly climbed back into the truck and closed the doors. Larry pulled back out onto the empty highway. A kinetic silenceaccompanied by the hum of the floor heater and the tires’ steady rumblefell over the truck cab as we drove the rest of the way down I-70 to Dayton. From that moment, there would be what came after, and what had been before, and perhaps much of what I remember about the before and after will fade from me, but nothing would ever be the samenot after, and maybe, not even before.

Written by Tysa Goodrich

For our dear friend, Larry

Did I Really Need This Much Adventure?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 25, 2014 by coyotescribe

Its’ been so long since I’ve blogged that I’m not sure where to begin. So, I start by marking time:

Apr 26, 2011 – My ex-husband takes off for Mexico, while I begin the journey of building a new life. I wanted to be single… and so, there I was.

Three months later – I empty my savings account and hire movers. I drive myself and our two cats (of which I now have custody) in my VW Jetta, with crystals and other essentials for safe transport across the country to Cincinnati. I wasn’t making ends meet in California with two part-time music jobs.

3-Aug-what's left-2
Why Cincinnati? Because it was a place where I had lived briefly with my boyfriend in 1972 after I ran away from home. There was something I needed to retrieve of myself, a very wounded adolescent. I was going back to get her. After that, I had no idea where I was going.
Aug 29, 2011 – My first encounter with a departed spirit in French Park. She was a young slave girl who was murdered in those woods during the 1840s. French Park was my personal refuge from healing, and now I was being called to be the healer.
hidden bench2-wcm
DAY 1 at the hidden bench, journal entry:
Wonder why this bench is here? It scared me at first, the remoteness of it, but I’m starting to settle into the energy. It’s possible that there may be a negative imprint here – seems like a lot of activity, nonetheless. We’re working together.


Posted in Creativity and Chaos with tags , , , , on December 30, 2011 by coyotescribe

In my last post, I recused myself from blog duty because I wasn’t in California anymore… and inside that shotgun-shell of a decree was a loaded statement.

I’m now busy writing about the past five months, about the move to Cincinnati, my soul retrieval work, reuniting with a younger me who had not been along for the ride in 39 years. So when that inner adolescent finally woke up after my constant urging, not only did she come back to life, she also told me she wanted to go home. How could I say no? It’s my home, too.

So back to California I/we drove, an elegant trip until the last day, when I entered California during some of the worst wind conditions to ever hit the desert. Suffice it to say, I made it in one piece despite my brake failure coming down the Mojave Freeway into Los Angeles.

I had to be towed in.

So… I’m writing the story for publication… and not as a big-ass blog post.

And… I’m not in Ohio anymore.

This was my Christmas gift, a hike in Topanga State Park:

Happy New Year… may it be enchanting.

A Writer Gone Missing

Posted in Creativity and Chaos on October 15, 2011 by coyotescribe

This time I have a good excuse for the extended eight-month sabbatical from blog duty. A lifetime has passed, and I’m not in California anymore.
(With me, change seems to happen fast… which will soon make my previous statement about not being in California untrue… to be updated…) 

Thanks to twitter I was able to at least tweet every now and then to keep my throngs of readers apprised of my so-declared writing life with its unforeseen curveballs that strike me out repeatedly despite my dreams to lob moon-like trajectories into left field. I illuminated flash-blurbs that told whole stories from Motel 6’s while driving across the country in the middle of a freak-out because I was responsible for the lives of my two cats during the August dead heat to destiny. Tweets like: Day 2 – Grants, NM; Day 3 – Amarillo, TX; Day 4 – about to leave for Tulsa, OK. Saw gun warehouse just off expressway yesterday. Only in TX.Having a gun ain’t gonna do me any good unless I decide to rob a bank. I was running out of money fast, because somewhere on that highway there was also a shiny new semi truck devouring dollars as it rolled oodles of my stuff—which included a 52-inch upright piano—on down the road. C-notes were being burned as fuel to haul my gypsy-ass caravan back to Ohio.

I could’ve stayed in California and continued working two music jobs that didn’t cover my expenses—and look for a third job to the tune of never getting a chance to write again—but instead I emptied my savings account (no turning back) and moved myself and new dreams to Cincinnati, a city that I had never lived in before, within a state that was, however, very familiar.

Since leaving the west coast on August 4th, a rumbling question has taunted me with a certain regularity amid my daily enterprises. It became especially outspoken upon my arrival in Cincinnati to complete-and-utter unknown. WHAT WAS I THINKING? It isn’t logical. No way in hell is it logical. From heaven to the murky depths, I just listened to a few whispers and let the voice guide me twenty-two hundred miles east.

Now, after two months in Cincy, I’m starting to recognize and acknowledge just how courageous I am, especially in light of… well… Let’s just say I’m in the same situation as Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams when Timothy Busfield admonishes him by saying, “It’s time to put away your little fantasies and come down to earth,” which led to an argument about whether the baseball men were real, and then another reality check for Costner’s character, who needed to sell his farm because he had no money, and a “stack of bills to choke a pig.” Well, that’s where I am right now. What am I going to do? Am I going to face facts and get real?… Or…

Am I going to keep building it? And who’s coming? Is it crazy of me to want to be invited out there beyond that field, so I’ll be able to write about it?

And whose pain am I healing?

Mine. It’s what I came here to do. There’s an adolescent girl inside me who has needed to come home for a long time. And I need her as much as she needs me. She’s the bridge between the eternal dreams of my youth, and the timeless dreams of my future. Somehow I know, though I don’t fully understand the mystery of it, these dreams restore each other, especially when I infuse a revitalized hope along their avenue of connection. I’ve figured out that this is a big key to living a passion-filled life.

A dream did come true for me since my arrival to the Queen City. In fact, it was a dream that I originally voiced in my online media resume at The questionnaire section asked to describe my dream assignment. This was my answer: Similar to Carrie Bradshaw’s view on the world from her New York apartment: writing about women and sex (including older and married women), and infusing my column with the mysterious, the metaphysical, and the serendipitous effects of New York.

Well, I’m not in New York yet, but I’m now writing a Sex and the City-type column for Ms. Cincinnati magazine, its premiere issue to be in the stands by end of November, just in time for the holiday season. I’m the magazine’s new Sex and Cincy columnist.

This idea of eternal dreams can be so inspiring, and empowering. Don’t we need that unbridled energy of our youth, without trying to go back and relive it? This is a paradox I will be exploring in my column in future issues, because it’s an important subject. Maturing women have the capacity to feel their passion more than ever. Wisdom and the rebirth of innocence give the sensuous life a dimension that as a younger woman I would’ve never imagined possible.

So, with that said, I am saving further discussion about this subject for my column. Cincinnati has been my womb of healing, and I am grateful to her for taking me in.

Moving Into Total Autonomy: Personal Belonging

Posted in Creativity and Chaos on February 24, 2011 by coyotescribe

I wrote the first ramblings of this post in the middle of the night, in the blank pages of a 2009 appointment calendar I retrieved from the trash can of a former employer. I couldn’t just let an unused spiral-bound go to waste, not when I could scribble my cindery words upon its clean pages, as I burned the midnight oil.

I’ve got to start exercising that muscle again: forced wake-ups from somnambulistic states. So I can write stuff down when words momentarily waft through my brain—those incoherent thoughts I would rather dismiss than disturb my sleep over, thoughts that tempt me to rationalize as unintelligible, as if I were still smoking pot, like during the time when I was on the road and writing songs at four in the morning, songs that in the light-of-a-sobering-day seemed a little scattered. In my twenties, I had no other way to access my creative recesses, and I knew I wouldn’t survive without the access. But since it’s been over two decades since I‘ve tasted weed, with one exception I will fail to mention, I think permanent brain fog is not the issue here. And I need these transcendental interjections from the other side.

A lot has been going on. Following my three-month affair with Santa Barbara, trying to stay financially afloat in a sea of diamonds, I moved back to Thousand Oaks, back into the apartment I once shared with now my soon-to-be-ex-husband, Dale, to my considerable relief, and gratitude for my soul-level friend. Two weeks later I landed a part-time job as choir director/accompanist for a Unitarian church just four miles away. The apartment becomes mine in April when Dale leaves his day gig, moves out, and takes his true work to Mexico.

Even during the interviewing process, I could hardly believe what a good match this new job seemed to be: my strengths as a musician and their particular needs in a musical director. And, I had no idea how much fun “a job” could be.

All that’s happening seems to whisper that maybe I’m on the right track, and that the course correction via Santa Barbara was just another step in putting the pieces together of personal belonging—where I fit, inside of me. I initiated this spiritual work in Santa Barbara, where my survival was threatened for the first time in many years. It seemed I didn’t belong anywhere… except while hiking the secret Montecito trail, up to the bench that had been waiting for me that very first day. You need a place to journal, to process the fear? Here it is:

I took my last hike up the trail on January 14th, two days before I moved out of Santa Barbara. Despite not having any outward signs of a journey well-travelled in the confines of an old dream (See Dreams, Interrupted, Part I), something truly magical happened each time I hiked the secret trail. On this last day, a new hawk appeared on a bare branch atop an old oak tree. I tried to find her with my camera, but she was practically invisible. I thought maybe she was calling from the other realm. But I did catch a glimpse of her, a smaller-sized hawk. She was in the midst of disappearing the moment I clicked the shutter button.

Once I reached the top of the trail, I sat on the stone bench overlooking the Padaro Lane coastal waters. I realized I possessed a whole different perspective than all the other times I had sat here. In two days, the Santa Barbara adventure would be coming to an end, and my energy was already withdrawing. Except here in this place, where I needed to say goodbye. I felt so much at peace, even passive, and reflective. I lay on the bench and went to sleep, basking in the sun. And something happened in the midst of a dream.

There’s much more significance to the view from this SB hilltop that shall remain personal, and mysterious, but some of it is being incorporated into a superhero story I’ve been brewing over the past year. I’ve been recording my thoughts, jotting down plot ideas, story concepts, and biographical information about the main character, Bird Woman, and her arch enemy, Cro-man.

But Bird Woman has another enemy, the United States government. This 100-word sketch depicts a climactic scene in the story:

She stepped to the edge of the precipice, remembering the last words her mother had said to her before government scientists took her away: “Don’t ever show the humans your feathers.” But now they were coming after her. It was fly or die, and maybe she would die anyway. She needed to be brave. She heard the voices of the detachment. Her body responded. She leapt from the cliff and spread her arms. The wind pushed against her, embraced her, until her wings unfurled. She soared below the cliffs and moved into the protective shadows of the great stone monoliths.

Back to reality. I have two months to get myself “financially viable” (a term borrowed from the movie Falling Down starring Michael Douglas), meaning able to fully support myself. I’m in pursuit of a second part-time job, and it’s been a frickin’ education (to be included in the sequel). If it were up to the dreams I dream, I’d find a way to get paid for finishing my novel. But…

How do I round out this blog post?

To be continued as…

Moving Into Total Autonomy: Power & Responsibility

Dreams, Interrupted (Part II)

Posted in Creativity and Chaos on January 9, 2011 by coyotescribe

Unravelling the music…

I couldn’t just leave it all hanging out there like that, flapping in the wind—not for too long. Dreams, Interrupted has to have some kind of second act. It’s pretty bad when someone finds their way to your blog because they typed the words ‘life in hell online’ into Google’s search engine. Despite my trippy doo-dahs about how life just went down in a flame-throwing blaze, part of me knows there was something deeper going on—a bigger picture, a forest beyond the smoldering tree trunks in my immediate vicinity.

Okay. So I tend to maneuver the extremes. But I needed to know. How else could I have, without leaping from the precipice and moving to Santa Barbara to see how it fits? Yeah, my wings flailed against a determined headwind until it spun me around in what seemed like an about-face. But that’s not it, you see. I’m not going back, I’m moving forward. I’ve just had a minor course correction.

A little backstory about the music:

It was in Santa Barbara where I first landed, in 1983, with rock-star dreams intact. I drove that long trek from the Midwest to California carrying all my worldly possessions, consisting mostly of music equipment. I had been touring for the past six years all over the eastern half of the United States and Canada as a multi-keyboardist, singer/songwriter.

Once I got to SB, I searched out other musicians. An all-girl band was forming, and I was asked to join. However, we did not survive our first rehearsal. The guy who had donated his spacious home to us was under surveillance. In the middle of setup—while we were thinking how lucky we were to have such a cool rehearsal space up in the hills overlooking the city—a battalion of Santa Barbara S.W.A.T. guys crashed through the sliding-glass door pointing automatic weapons at us and yelling Get down! (Too bad they weren’t talking about the music).

I was in the middle of attaching the legs to the underbelly of my Rhodes Piano. I ducked behind 73 keys, hammers and tines encased in plastic.

All four girls—a drummer, bass player, guitar player, and keyboard player—were directed to the kitchen and handcuffed to patio chairs while being questioned as to our knowledge of the $150,000 worth of hallucinogenic mushrooms at all stages of growth in the guy’s garage.

The short of it: it was the biggest drug bust in Santa Barbara’s history. The police thought we were there to transport the loot, especially in my window van, with its pink India-print curtains for hiding the evidence. But the only thing in my van that night was my grandmother’s cedar chest filled with my clothes, which were ransacked.

* * *

When I moved to Santa Barbara again twenty-seven years later, in October 2010, one of the people paying me to write web content gave me a contact number for a female musician in town, saying he thought she and I would get along. Jill Avery, bass player and painter extraordinaire, listened intently as I explained over the phone my brief history with Santa Barbara. When I started down the long tale of woe regarding a first rehearsal with an all-girl band, she stopped me mid-sentence, saying, “I know where you’re going.”

She was there! She was one of the musicians handcuffed to a patio chair that night. As it turned out, she had a whole other perspective on the event. She stirred my memory of her, the girl who just kept talking, asking questions, getting permission to go to the bathroom, etc. When she and I compared notes, we realized we had a whopping-good musician story to tell. The best of it is: we are connected, and we reconnected. If it were only this one thing that Santa Barbara offered me in return for my short stay here (this second time around), it has been worth it. Because finding a soul-level female friend is priceless.

And… Did I say I would never play live again?

After having gone through the whirlwind, I feel a sense of peace, and hope, and I’m grateful for my own courage. Where I stood at the moment of my perceived collapse, is where I had to forgive myself—for making a big mistake. But now, as I step beyond this process, I see how the forces of that mysterious night within me were participating, in that night where resides my ghost, my duende, that aspect of soul who often appears as an objector. He can be relentless, and he/she can initiate a dismantlement of old dreams. Because, you see, the duende holds secrets to destiny, and to where one’s passions truly lie.

In the middle of packing and moving back to Thousand Oaks, I was asked to open for SoulAviv in Santa Barbara the first Friday in February, at the one venue I performed last month that felt like home—Cambridge Drive Community Church. With all the rubble I was sifting through after December’s fallout, I had failed to acknowledge my first gig in December, which turned out to be a starry starry night of success: my first time out performing my own songs solo in fifteen years. I was nervous, but the sacred space inside the church sanctuary soothed me, and I was able to connect with the audience, and give a little of myself to them.

My duende reminded me not to forget about that. And so did Roy Donkin, pastor of the church. I was honored to receive his invitation, and I knew immediately that it was right for me to accept.  I’ll be warming up the crowd for SoulAviv with a half-hour set of my original songs.  Now in preparation.

My performance schedule has been updated.

Did I not say in my last post that I was going to limit my future ramblings to 500 words? Oops…

Dreams, Interrupted (Part I)

Posted in Creativity and Chaos on December 28, 2010 by coyotescribe

They fell like a giant tree: what at first might appear as a slow heavy descent, eventually came crashing through the understory, clearing everything in its wake before colliding with earth.  It was messy, and it was final.  My dreams of Santa Barbara went down with a reverberating thwack.

It was hard to understand what was happening in the middle of it all, but I learned awhile ago that staying with confusion is not such a bad thing, and conversely, putting ducks in a row isn’t all that it’s quacked up to be.  You kind of just have to go with the chaos, until it wends its way back to calmer seas.

This blog post only covers one aspect of the fall: The Music (Part I)

If you start pushing against resistance, you’re going to struggle.  Moving to Montecito Land provided the perfect petri dish for my revisit with struggle in my music.  Where else can you find the juxtaposition of countless millionaires and boatloads of unpaid musicians in one place?

Somewhere in the middle of four gigs in December , the push-pull became a tug-of-war.   I was fighting against my fear of humiliation, big time.  I had to go through it.  I made myself go through it.  Down to the dregs of it.  Otherwise I knew I’d take it to the stage and sabotage myself.  I’ve done it many times before.  When I popped out on the other side of the fear, I had lost all desire to do this.  Though I kept to my obligations until the very end, despite the escaping helium in my dream balloon.

By the time I hit the last gig of the month, December 17th at the popular Cold Spring Tavern in the mountains, the only gig that paid anything ($50 a “man” plus tips), I already knew the dream had died.  The night was supposed to yield a crowd, but it turned out to be the first night of that weeklong west coast torrent that flooded California.  I carried my keyboard from my car in the rain, in the mud, grateful I had the foresight to wear my old tennis shoes rather than nice gig shoes.

I don’t want to linger too long on describing the night, so I’m going to reduce it to one metaphor, which pretty much says it all.  While I was setting up my keyboard on the stage, I hit my head on the cow skull that hung on the back wall.  Other symbolic clues have not eluded me, but this one was a hammer-on-the-nail reminder.  After two and a half months in pursuit of being a performing musician in Santa Barbara, the dream was dead, and so was my desire to live here.

I’m moving, my fastest turnaround in history, except when I was on the road.  (More about my busted Santa Barbara dreams later.)  I decided I wasn’t going to struggle with blog posts anymore either, keeping them to about 500 words from now on.   And I’m steering this blog towards fiction, and towards the process with my novel, which I have sorely missed working on.

No Turning Back: Performing Again

Posted in Creativity and Chaos on November 25, 2010 by coyotescribe

It has been years since I’ve seriously gone out and gigged, and now I’ve got four dates coming up next month, starting December 3rd!   Meanwhile, an old acquaintance from a long time ago is reading my novel. He says it’s a page-turner. Once he gets to page 253, he’s gonna run out of words and become frustrated, because there’s at least eight more chapters that still need to be written. I miss working on my novel, and I’m still in a landing pattern around my new Montecito hideaway.

But I won’t be able to hide away for much longer. Butterflies are not free.  They’re in my stomach while I worry about upcoming performances. I set myself up for a bit of an overwhelm here, first because there were songs I wanted to learn, and also because I’ve had to rework and relearn my own songs, too.  It hasn’t come as smoothly and swiftly as I imagined. It’s been hard work. I’m really trying not to sturggle, but I think I’ve fallen into that old pattern a bit. Need some healing on that front. Being an artist comes with all these templates for survival, and I’m determined to build my survival from a new foundation, and forego any templates.  So far, I have no idea whether it’s working.

I’m asking myself now, “What am I, a writer or a musician?”… cause there doesn’t seem to be time to do both and make money, too. I was adding content to someone’s travel blog, but alas I have hit the wall on that, my ideas not compelling enough. I think maybe my heart wasn’t in it. Yes, and I’m still scared. Am I ever gonna get to the other side of this frightful process, and stop being the sole inhabitant of my own gloomy gulag? (reference from my favorite writers movie, Wonder Boys) Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I will want to feel the gratitude for all the beauty in my life. It may be just what I need to get through the next nine days…

…which is how long I have till my first gig.  I’m wanting to run away… to where?… There ain’t no place to run, or hide, or fall back upon… I’m feeling alone, but I know I’m not. (This is stream of unconsciousness writing, by the way.) The reason I’m even posting tonight is because I promised in the previous post that I’d get my gig schedule up, and I’m late.  So here it is:

Tysa’s Performance Schedule

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving with family and friends and good food!

Getting Focused

Posted in Creativity and Chaos on November 1, 2010 by coyotescribe

If I don’t take the time to post this Sunday night, I may never blog again.  I have to give myself the message that there is always time to write, even when music rehearsals are taking center stage… (Sorry about the pun.  I couldn’t help it.  It’s late.)  I do have to get my performance schedule posted soon!  I mean… what’s going on here?

Journal entry from Wednesday, October 27th – somewhere up the steep climb along Romero Canyon Trail:

I’m on the other side of my move to Santa Barbara, and I’m in crisis.  I hiked this canyon for the first time, carrying my journal and camera.  I sat down where I could see the ocean between the hills… and just cried.  I’m really scared.  I just frickin’ jumped, and now I’ve landed in the land of Oz (Montecito), where the rich hobnob with eclectic expenditures. I’m not sensing my place here yet.  That’s part of the fear.  It’s like, “Now, what have I done?  Where am I?  Who am I?”  Mostly when I talk about this stuff, especially about the fear, people seem to always want to give advice, cause they don’t like the intensity of it.  Well, I don’t much like it either, and yet I know this is where I’m supposed to be.  If I’m not feeling it, where the hell is it going to go?… back in the addictions?  Don’t think I haven’t been tempted.  But no, I have to be intimate with what I’m feeling—all of it—because I’m the only common denominator here.  It is my process, and a necessary one in order to integrate into my new life.

Where I sat and wrote in my journal

On the other side of this fear a breeze will blow.  I’ll hear the sound of the wind through the Montecito hills, and I’ll know what I did took courage, and that I am not alone.

Coming down off the mountain

In conclusion, all I can say is: I guess I did what Grandpa Samuel Reaches (Ted Thin Elk) said Mr. Magoo should do in the movie Thunderheart, when he told Ray (Val Kilmer), “Mr. Magoo needs to go up the mountain and get focused.”  And maybe I’ll have to do this a few more times, at least for a while.

Writing Between Paradigms

Posted in Creativity and Chaos on August 10, 2010 by coyotescribe

In trying to coalesce a theme for this blog post—with my focus careening all over tarnation looking for an appropriate track on which to travel—I realized I had already left the station.  No turning back.  It’s about the power of change, the biggest change of my life, and it’s affecting everything.  I’ve got one foot in the old paradigm and one foot in the new, and I’m moving through a fluid chaos, a transitional period, and it’s been showing me things: about writing, about music, relationships, passion, and about my connection to All Things.  Realizations fall like a surprise summer rain, each drop another pearl of destiny being absorbed by my future.

Inside this seemingly unreal abyss, the unknown has become where I live.  Yet, I’ve glimpsed what’s coming, and I feel the changes going on inside me as definitive as the nightly serenades from the coyotes just beyond my apartment balcony.  It gives me an exhilarating thrill.  (One particular coyote also likes to return during the day and go rollicking through bushes looking for conejos.)

Okay, the truth is, I’m scared out of my wits half the time, walking around with this leveled fog of dread hovering around my chest, a new and unrecognizable dread.  But I know it’s the key for me, so I try to stay open and not suppress it, not shut myself down, nor give in to the old addictions, emotional or otherwise.  You see, the fear is telling me I’m moving in the right direction, showing me the realness of what’s happening and where I’m going.  And I can’t go back—I won’t—not after glimpsing that pinpoint of light, a hint of something out there,  even as I walk through the narrows.

Along the path, here in the dark, there come these surpirses, little ecstatic moments that reveal things to me.  AND, none of this would’ve been possible had it not been my husband and I of fifteen years—soul mates and eternal friends—jumping off the precipice of our established safety and making the choice to leave our cocoon of marriage and set each other free.

I hear the voices of bemused blog readers: “Could you please give it to us in concrete terms.  What the hell’s going on?  And since you’re a writer, how is this affecting your work?”

I’m not going to detail the personal process of our dissolving marriage, but I will say this:  It’s a divorce without betrayal, without abandonment, a divorce that manifested from love and the idea of personal freedom.  We’ve been working over the years to dismantle the control that seems to permeate the institution of marriage, where you have to mold yourself into a particular form in order to make yourself fit comfortably, and that you can never be yourself completely, that you must hide parts of yourself in order to make it work, in order to make the marriage safe.  Sacrifice.

I’m feeling the sadness, and grief, but it’s not at the level you might expect in such a circumstance.  In fact, it has come clear to me that once we have separated and moved into our individual lives, there will be a deeper, more profound level of grief that will come, and it will be wrapped in gratitude for the gift we have given each other. 

No, it doesn’t make sense, because there’s no road map for it, no prescribed formula, no Wayne Dyer book on the subject.  There’s only a society that freaks out when people make too many choices on their own—upsetting the status quo and stirring up anarchy.  Got to have control so people will behave, obey the rules.  It’s why the idea of gay marriage ignites such volatility.  Societal and religious dogma is supposed to hold the key to your happiness.  You can’t unlock those doors on your own.  That’s heresy.

Down the line, I may perhaps do another radio show about this subject, a similar show to the one I did in April on LA Talk Radio, where I shared my process about dealing with growing older as a women in this society, something I also touched upon in my last blog post (May 2010) – The Intimate Life of a Writer.  I was facing all that I needed to in order to find my way through to the resonance I wanted to feel, to the sensuousness, living a sensuous life, a luscious life, full of juice.  Society’s image of 50-something women be frickin’ damned.  That process of change in April was perhaps instrumental in getting me to the decision in June to separate from my husband, not because he sees me a certain way, but because I need to see me a certain way, to reveal me to myself without the underlying chauvinism of inequality that happens in relationships on so many levels, in both women and men.  (How many blog posts would it take to go into that subject?)

Okay, what about my novel?  How’s that going?

My novel is also in transition, appropriately so.  It’s quite serendipitous how I’ve ostensibly completed ACT I and II, including the “all is lost” moment for my main character, just prior to my monumental life decision.  What remains to be written is a series of mystical events that culminate at the moment of totality during the Montana solar eclipse of 1979, where everything comes together for a moment and changes the future.  I don’t think I would’ve been able to write these final chapters without this change in my life.

Right now, the writing is slow.  There are a lot of personal activities: sifting through the physical remnants of living life as a couple, and discarding what cannot move forward into the life of single womanhood.  I think one of the reasons the writing has stalled is because I’m having trouble conjoining the past, the present, and the future in my story, because, conversely, my personal life is immersed in the in-between.  My characters wait in limbo right now, and yet, while I ride this fast-moving train into the unknown, I’m making sure to use Einstein’s light beam to keep my characters lassoed at the speed of light.  So when I disembark at the next station (which will most likely be Santa Barbara), they’ll be ready to give me what I need to finish the novel, without missing a beat.

Wild Nature Girl Photography

For now, I keep myself open for the story insights of the in-between, and jot them down while I think of them.  All that has been written up till now, some 250 pages, is as it should be, written in the moments of the before.  And now my characters’ transformations are hinging on my own.  Like I said in my previous post, I am inextricably linked to my characters.  NOT because they’re ME, but because we’re that close.  So, you can imagine how much chaos they might be experiencing while they wait for my pen to start flowing ink again, and they can tell me what’s happening on their side of the universe.  I will never let them go.  As long as it takes, they’re going to make it to the end of their story.  It is my promise to them.