Author: Laurie Early

Vegetables in Manhattan (A summer fluff piece)

I almost cried when I saw the artichoke; it seemed to be trying to hide from me as I lifted off a small cardboard cover. I did not yet know what other surprises awaited me but it almost didn’t matter because I knew that a Sicilian-style stuffed artichoke was in my near future! This is the story of my third weekly shipment of fruits and vegetables from Misfits Market, a delivery service that brings farm-fresh produce right to my door. I also like how it forces me to plan my meals a little more thoughtfully as I need to eat (and/or cook and refrigerate) everything while it is still fresh. As some of you may know, I live in Manhattan. There are no farms here, at least none that I am aware of. I had a dream once of growing vegetables on a rooftop garden. I took a bunch of books out of the library and researched what I would need to do to build an elevated garden based on the square-foot gardening system. Unfortunately, …

Bird Feathers

A quick post this month as I have been resting and healing and generally catching up on musical and personal projects. I have learned a new song in Italian, “E la chiamano estate”, polished the vocalese on a couple of Lester Young/Teddy Wilson tunes that have been on my “FINISH THIS NOW” list for a long time: Our Love is Here to Stay, and Blues in C Sharp Minor, and started writing lyrics for two original melodies (for two new friends). I have some good starts on a few original tunes too, so there is something to be said for being house-bound another month with my sciatica issue. Here is a bit of vocalese from 6 years ago. Barry wrote lyrics on Bird Feathers that are really fun to sing. We perform this song in his choir, but I wanted to sing it as a solo and to keep going a bit longer, so I wrote this additional lyric. The cool thing about this is that the word at the end of each section matches …

Becoming collage

Magnets and Distractions

My back is messed up. No use in going over why this happens to me periodically. I will accept that it is for me to deal with even though the initial cause was out of my control. Yes, I know what I am supposed to be doing to avoid a recurrence of this pain–yet it continues to plague me. I should avoid sitting for long periods of time in folding chairs. I should get up at least once an hour and walk around. I should not sit hunched over my computer for 6 hours straight. I should lose weight. I should practice yoga more consistently; the list goes on and on. I understand that other people deal with chronic pain and have much more intense experiences than the few weeks I am disabled by sciatica pain and random back spasms. Perhaps they have ways to deal with it other than the ice packs, ibuprofen, bedrest and stretching exercises I use as my main healing techniques. Mostly though, I wait and DISTRACT myself with work, sleep, …

Authenticity (Happy Birthday Billie Holiday)

“Everyone’s got to be different. You can’t copy anybody and end up with anything. If you copy, it means you’re working without any real feeling. And without feeling, whatever you do amounts to nothing.” -Billie Holiday This quote is so powerful. I had not heard it before this morning and it has pulled up some deep thoughts for me. I think there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between being INSPIRED by someone’s performance, and/or striving to capture a spirit that another artist has managed to achieve with a tune — through their choices of tempo, rhythm, depth of harmonic understanding, etc. (combined with the feelings evoked from within their heart based on their life experiences) — and COPYING. I also believe it is a valuable exercise to STUDY the work of other artists and to ANALYZE why something they do well is unique and brilliant, … but, yes…it is QUITE ANOTHER THING to memorize and/or copy someone else’s performance and pass it off as your own work. Unfortunately, it seems to me that some people who do …

Free Inspiration

  The best things in life, like inspiration, are free. I walk down a new street and chance to see a poem pasted to a wall. The words inspire me; the random discovery inspires me; the sense of the sublime presented in a crude, common way inspires me. Someone else before me has apparently been inspired to add a red heart on top of the words, their spontaneous red curving lines spilling out onto the wall itself. I take a photo and post it here on my blog because this public display of words and thoughts and art inspires me to post my writings in public too. The domino-effect could continue on and on, depending on who sees it, who values it, who sees something personal in it, who is moved to take creative action. The poem above speaks of dancing in the square (nella piazza), and I visualize the dancers, eyes locked to one another, performing the tango for anyone who wants to watch. Was the poem inspired by a real dance? I am …

Carousels – Not For Me

This weekend I will be avoiding the luggage carousel by traveling light. I will also attempt to avoid any feeling of traveling in circles as just the *thought* of this makes me physically tired. I long to move forward. Perhaps I am feeling an anticipatory exhaustion because it has been so cold lately, and so very dark in the little room where I work by myself. Perhaps I am mourning the loss of the extra days that are cut off at the end of February, (I feel like I have skipped something important. Is it March already?) Or, perhaps I am just tired of the same-ness of each day so far this year. They seem to circle ’round and ’round on themselves like a merry-go-round where I am the only rider, and a calliope tune droning on in the background is never-changing. This is not a complaint, just a fanciful observation of what I am experiencing. Tonight I am struggling to gather the physical energy to pack the bare essentials, to plan my journey, and …

NYC – A Day in the Moment

Certain things grabbed my attention recently as I traveled from commitment to commitment. Manhattan is full of activity, but I consciously tried to stay in the moment and keep my mind as quiet as possible. Because of this intention to be especially observant, a few small things remained in my mind long after I saw them. I noted them for further reflection, and this blog post is the result. Navy blue confetti, Wow! One piece has survived, folded and battered, yet still intact. It is stuck to the curb on the street where I live, near the United Nations—far from Times Square where the confetti was ceremoniously released in celebration on New Year’s Eve, more than three weeks ago. How it managed to stay dry, and full of color for this long, through the cold and rain, is a mystery. Blue can be a color of hopefulness, and in this case maybe even resilience. Each New Year’s Day I take a stroll outside looking for any confetti that was carried by wind as far as my block. I am always surprised that these little shards of tissue paper can travel …

Shift Happens

We can stay “in the moment” all we want to, be mindful and appreciate each passing second–but, even if we do nothing else but count each breath we take, something, something somewhere, is shifting. Shift happens. As I count down the hours, minutes and seconds to the Gregorian New Year we will all think of as 2019, I am preparing a book to use as my daily journal. A place to write down 2 or 3 moments of each day that made it special, or just different from other days. A way to keep each day from running into the next in my mind, as they seem to be continuous lately, no definition. For me, writing specific events down keeps this misty time-haze at bay. For 2019, I have decided to also start to keep a little book I am calling “Joyful Thoughts & Happy Things” that I can carry around with me. It will be something I can refer to when unproductive or sad thoughts occupy my mind; I want to be able to immediately …

Current, Flow, Swing, and Reflection

“Big Red Swing” 1971 Theodore Ceraldi Some months speed by, like a rushing river flowing through a narrow gorge. But others crawl along, moment by moment, hour by hour, week by week, with the water of life pooling in unexpected crevices, becoming still reflection ponds. The past few weeks have been like that for me, slow and full of reflection. I have not been able to find a personal FLOW, the term I learned from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi for an ideal creative state. Flow always seemed to come naturally to me as a child, yet now it seems to be something I have to schedule for myself. “Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity… The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task although flow is also described… as a deep focus on nothing but the activity – not even oneself or one’s emotions.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi One of my …

Vocalese 101

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do, and mostly, live.” ~Dalai Lama Instead of drafting an October blogpost, I focused all my brain energy on completing my homework for Bob Mover’s Jazz Workshop. (Whatever brain energy was left at the end of each workday, which is not much, let me tell you!) Bob assigned the class “Donna Lee” (click to hear Bird playing it), and he told us all to memorize the head (the first 32 bars).  I was speaking to him on the phone today and I mentioned that I had completed the song but not the Charlie Parker solo. He reminded me that I did not have to memorize the solo, unless I wanted to (which I do want to memorize, of course!) So, I am happy to be done for now and prepared for the November 1st class.  Bob did not seem surprised that I was …