Main Street on a Friday Night and a Jazz Quartet

  • What a fun night at the Buttonwood Tree on Main Street in Middletown. Just 11 of us in the audience, the performance felt very intimate. Piano, bass, drum, and saxophone. The performance was in the cozy back room of the coffee shop. There were tall brick walls. Some lighting overhead. Thick dark blue velvet curtains dampen the sounds of Main Street. My eyes wander to the slight part in the curtains, exposing a slice of Main Street on a Friday night.

Curious shadows arrive on the side walk, with their owners soon to follow. Three long, thin shadows slowly become a man, a woman, and a child in between them.

A gentleman in a tan coat opens the garbage can and searches around inside.

Two police cars and then another move quickly down Main Street, their red and blue lights lingering in the distance, reflecting into the opening in the curtains.

A group of three young men walk slowly by, all tightly in a row as they peer into the phone screen the middle man is holding.

An older man with long white hair and a long white beard is helped up from the curb and handed a cup of coffee by a young man.

Now my eyes wander back to the venue, rejoining my ears.

A speaker sits atop an old wooden armoire of simple construction, weathered with dents and chips. Somehow it looks perfect here tonight.

Some time later, two more police cars power by, red and blue creeping in again. I think “play louder!” I want to keep the reality out.

My eyes settle on the piano player. He connects with the keys so completely. He and the piano exchange energy; giving and taking and taking and giving. At one point, he pulls both hands away from the black and white soldiers so suddenly it is as though they shocked him, bursting with sheer energy and beauty in their sounds. He, rather they, have their moments of solo performances, when the other three lower their volume and support piano man and piano. Then, there are other times when he supports, punctuating ever so slightly the other men and their instruments, with perfectly placed unbolded exclamation points. So very sensual. And courteous, always with a slight nod and smile at the audience with each eruption of cheers and applause for his solos. His legs move rhythmically during each piece, sometimes crossed at the ankles, sometimes feet side-by-side.

Next is the man playing the bass, what I thought was a gigantic cello as I was watching them set up. He takes command of his instrument. The beautiful wooden piece is a work of art, with its curves and shine. It stands as tall as its commander, and is wider than him, with a petite waist and what my stepmother referred to as “birthing hips” in reference to me at age 15- just what a 15-year-old girl wants to hear. He demands the sounds from the strings as he plucks them and presses them and pulls them. There are times when he seems to be coaxing the sounds from the strings with a gentler touch and energy. For a few minutes, he uses a bow to create a clear resounding effect that elevates to the very front of all the sounds of the instruments , but only for a moment. Then, back to wrestling the words from his bass. He too recognizes the audiences recognitions for his solos, from him a grin so big his eyes close for its duration.

The man paired with the drum also serves as the group’s spokesman and announcer for the evening. His humor has his group and the audience laughing out loud many times, even as he talks about not being able to use the symbol on the left because of rotator cuff pain not allowing him to twist and reach it. I am not sure if that was supposed to be humorous but it did gather laughter from the audience. His beat, always on, served as a metronome for the group, but not overpowering it. Until his solos, which were crisp, energized, and felt within the depth of my chest with their sheer strength. He too responded to the audience’s affections and recognition of his solos, with a subtle and brief head tilt to the side.

Lastly is the saxophone player. Front and center. His saxophone found its way in past his thick mustache and beard. He seems cool as a cucumber, working with his saxophone like he had been doing this since the day he was born. The sounds in quick succession coming from him and his; amazing. And seemingly effortless. I didn’t even see him break a sweat. He would occasionally put his saxophone down on the well worn wood-planked floor to sip from his water bottle. Just one small sip that he would swish around the front of his mouth before swallowing it. I imagine the vibration of playing a reed instrument gets to your gums and teeth, needing to be refreshed every so often. Courtesy from him, too, as he shifts to the side during drum and during bass solos to allow full attention and recognition of each soloist. And, he, too, acknowledged recognition from the audience, with a three to four head nod and ever so slight smile ( could have actually been bigger but thick mustache may be concealing its full berth).

Each member, a different connection with each of their instruments. And different temperaments. And the music they play together, woven together , complimenting one another so perfectly. Oh what a beautiful experience. A slice of Main Street on a Friday night and a slice of a jazz quartet. Thank you to my friend Faith who texted me in the middle of the day to let me know about this event!

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No Turn on Red Sign

The No Turn on Red sign. Permission to stay. I always feel comforted when I’m at a red light and it says No Turn on Red. No decision to be made. I can just wait until I am told to go, told by the flash and splash of the green light above me. Oh, even with the No Right on Red sign, I get beeped at from behind. But, I simply make eye contact with the honker behind me via rear view mirror, and point at the sign, No Turn on Red. Defer to the sign. It’s not my decision either way.

Hmmm. I guess the red light in the lane waiting to go straight is ideal. Now this is also a ‘no decision to be made’ with presumably no beeps from behind.

Sometimes, just sometimes, I just like to go with the flow, with no decisions to be made. Put me on the track and let me go go go, like Thomas the train and all his friends, pre-destined to their path with grooved wooden train tracks snapped together like puzzle pieces. Nothing to think about. In fact, freeing my mind to think about things other than this.

No Turn on Red. A break from me making a decision. I will enjoy the decision vacation, if only for a moment!

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The Watching Woman in the Red Dress

There is a woman. She watches me whenever I am at the sink washing the dishes. She wears a strapless red dress, long and form fitting; quite formal for the occasion, really. And her hair, short and spiked. Some might find a chemical product to try to soften its coarseness. But, no, not her. She prides herself on this. It is who she is.

Now, I take her by her tiny waist and turn her upside down. Her eyes don’t even close as her head enters the soapy water. I just know her candy apple red lipstick laden lips are still smiling, as her bristly ‘do scrubs the pot, sloshing in the soapy suds.

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Shopping for Perspectives

I just wrapped up my grocery shopping, and I am checking out the pre-owned books for sale in the corner by the service desk. One dollar for softcover, two dollars for hardcover. It uses the honor system. You’re expected to put your money inside the decorative treasure box that they have. I scan over the books, looking at the different titles. I also look at the different covers. I in fact do judge a book by its cover. I am often pulled in by an interesting cover as well as an interesting book title. And, there it is. “A Year of Fog”.

I immediately laughed softly to myself. I think I may have even spoken aloud. I say “that’s like this past year in New Haven. You see, recently, I’ve been looking at other jobs. In fact, I have an interview tomorrow. It’s a sure bet. My current job that I’ve been at for a little over year has been what I describe as challenging. My 10-year-old son says that “challenging” is adult talk for “this job sucks”. I was at my other job previously for 13 years, and really enjoyed the work. So, adjusting to a new job with new people really has been challenging. My reason for leaving the long-term job was for a promotion.

So, a year and some change later here I am. I feel like I may be starting to come out of the fog. So, with this quickly developed connection to this book, I look at the description on its back cover. It talks about a parent walking on the beach with their child holding their hand and seeing something in the sand, and letting the child’s hand go for what seemed to be a brief moment to see what was in the sand, only to turn around to see the child gone. What happened after that I can only guess, as I quickly put the book down. I cannot deal with children being hurt or separated from their parents. This gave me an instant dose of perspective, and a very big one. I don’t know if this book is fictional or not, but that story is one that is all too real in the world. Parents losing their children; horrible, hideous, awful. Me being at a challenging job truly pales in comparison. There, a healthy, hefty dose of perspective.

March 2014

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Finding My Calling

Recently, during an e-mail discussion with a friend, he inquired if I had “found my calling”. Our most recent thread was about his moving onto another job. I was struck that he’d found a good match in his career, had found what he was missing, as he described it. He asked me if I had found my calling. I thought about his question for a while. I work hard, and feel that I contribute at my job. But, found my calling? That did not seem to fit. My thoughts went beyond work, career, to a larger domain; life. Then, it came to me. I easily answered him. Yes, I have found my calling, in motherhood.

I am blessed with my two gifts, James and John. Motherhood is so impacting to me. My world is now divided into two distinct time periods; before kids and after kids. I have learned so much from my children and this experience. I cherish it so.

I delight in the smallest of things. Recently, my youngest, James, age 7, took his father’s hand and led him away, off to their next adventure. They paused for a moment, and James turned around to speak to me. He said ” Mommy, you have had Daddy for 21 years. I’ve only had him for seven. It’s still my turn.” I am still lingering in his sweet sentiment.

The thoughtfulness of my 10-year-old, John, warms my heart as well. We were visiting a friend who has a dog, Xena. My younger son took to licking ice cream off of the table where it had melted onto. My older son, John, addressed this with his younger brother. “James, you are licking the table like some kind of….of…..of…hamster.” John did not want to offend Xena, the dog, or her human mother. His forethought and kindness I so treasure.

Raising my children has given me a window into my own childhood, a window most often covered with a dark heavy curtain. How empowering and healthy it has been for me to be able to give in a loving and healthy way. And, how blessed I am to have found my calling.

It is my hope that each person finds a calling, something in which you can both give of yourself and your gifts while receiving satisfaction, appreciation, and joy from giving.

2013

About the contributing author:

Robin enjoys a variety of interests and activities, including writing, making jewelry, volunteering for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, creating note cards, photography, spending time with friends and family, and, of course, being a mother. Please take a moment to visit her blog at robinswetz.com.

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Finding My Calling

Recently, during an e-mail discussion with a friend, he inquired if I had “found my calling”. Our most recent thread was about his moving onto another job. I was struck that he’d found a good match in his career, had found what he was missing, as he described it. He asked me if I had found my calling. I thought about his question for a while. I work hard, and feel that I contribute at my job. But, found my calling? That did not seem to fit. My thoughts went beyond work, career, to a larger domain; life. Then, it came to me. I easily answered him. Yes, I have found my calling, in motherhood.

I am blessed with my two gifts, James and John. Motherhood is so impacting to me. My world is now divided into two distinct time periods; before kids and after kids. I have learned so much from my children and this experience. I cherish it so.

I delight in the smallest of things. Recently, my youngest, James, age 7, took his father’s hand and led him away, off to their next adventure. They paused for a moment, and James turned around to speak to me. He said ” Mommy, you have had Daddy for 21 years. I’ve only had him for seven. It’s still my turn.” I am still lingering in his sweet sentiment.

The thoughtfulness of my 10-year-old, John, warms my heart as well. We were visiting a friend who has a dog, Xena. My younger son took to licking ice cream off of the table where it had melted onto. My older son, John, addressed this with his younger brother. “James, you are licking the table like some kind of….of…..of…hamster.” John did not want to offend Xena, the dog, or her human mother. His forethought and kindness I so treasure.

Raising my children has given me a window into my own childhood, a window most often covered with a dark heavy curtain. How empowering and healthy it has been for me to be able to give in a loving and healthy way. And, how blessed I am to have found my calling.

It is my hope that each person finds a calling, something in which you can both give of yourself and your gifts while receiving satisfaction, appreciation, and joy from giving.

2013

About the contributing author:

Robin enjoys a variety of interests and activities, including writing, making jewelry, volunteering for Big Brothers/Big Sisters, creating note cards, photography, spending time with friends and family, and, of course, being a mother. Please take a moment to visit her blog at robinswetz.com.

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The Lunch List Users

Today I went to the Subway shop to get lunch. I was pressed for time, and, admittedly, I thought about scooting in ahead of the woman that I saw coming into the shop. You see, I saw it. There, on top of the pile of money she was carrying; a list. Yes, written on a brightly colored sticky note, three or four different lines. Clearly, this woman was buying lunch for herself and others back at the office. I decided to do the right thing, and held the door open for her and let her go through. As I settle in behind her in line, I notice the woman ahead of her already being helped has two lists, one atop of each of the piles of cash that she is holding in each hand. I said to the woman in front of me, “well, at least you only have one list”. Unfortunately, she did not find this to be funny, and gave me a serious look, asking if I wanted to go ahead of her. I said no, that I was only joking, even though I wasn’t. Trying to do the right thing again. Next, a woman settles in behind me in line. Yes, she too has a list. I in fact am now sandwiched in between to list carriers. Oh, I’m sure their good deeds of getting the lunches for folks back at the office will be appreciated by their colleagues. But, for now, I wait, and wait, and wait. Without a list.

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Red Coffee Mug in the Mailroom

Red coffee mug in the mailroom

The e-mail alert just came through

Please come claim it at reception

Apparently it’s traveling like lost coffee mugs do.

I wonder if the red hue is bright or deep

And is the height of the mug tall enough for a long steep?

And hey, how do you know it’s for coffee, not tea?

Not every mug’s life-calling is coffee.

Maybe the residue ring on the bottom proclaims

It’s well known aroma, and not only it’s stains.

I have a naughty thought- I’ll go say it’s mine and take it home with me.

Wait, I cannot do that- that’s what leads to breakdowns in society.

Like taking the credit for my beautiful red crocheted poncho when asked by a stranger ,

Ignoring the next step – an inquiry of what stitches and size hook I used-the ultimate danger.

No, no, I will leave it be.

For its owner I am sure it hopes to see.

For now we will leave society in tact.

And follow the rules, for that I don’t lack.

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