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As a girl, I feared nothing.

I climbed every tree, tottered in my mom’s highest heels, ran away one afternoon because “Goldilocks” needed an adventure (when my nanny called my mom home from work — I learned even storybook girls shouldn’t hide in the neighbor’s house waiting for bears). In later years, the vale at the edge of the woods housed a whole troupe of fairies, on other days it was Sherwood, and quite often it was an Iroquois village, though for some reason my parents balked at the idea of me building a dugout canoe with a slow burning flame.

Every Sunday, dressing in my delicate dresses and “appropriate” heels, my grace and “lady-like” elegance met the challenge of legs scraped and bruised from knee to ankle. My mom would sigh, fold a linen hanky for my purse, and say, “that’s the price for doing — you could sit still all week and your legs would be perfect. What do you want to do?” I kind of rocked the combat girl look 🙂 And I’ve used the same line with my girls —

As time has crept over me, I find I still carry the hankies in my purses — my skin still colors with each bump and bruise — and I am not quite so fearless. The girl who jumped from a high dive into a twenty foot pool without knowing how to swim (maybe not the best example, but the lifeguard only had to help me because you shouldn’t laugh in exhilaration when that might involve a lungful of water) — she’s a little more cautious now. The words: can I?” should I? what will X or Y or Lmnop think?  start creeping into the lexicon. And one apologizes for the most random things far too often … using the contrition to ameliorate any criticisms. How much fun will it be to rediscover that fearless, teetering on the edge of adventure girl?

Speaking of those who risked everything, E.E. Cummings (he of random punctuations and capitalizations) is considered one of the premier twentieth century poets. Like Pound and Stein, he endured his share of controversy — some deserved, some not so much. He was rediscovered a few years ago in the cult classic/guilty pleasure Zac Efron movie, “Charlie St. Cloud,” which used a couple of lines from “Dive into Dreams” (below). For me, I prefer the sensory adventure contained in “here’s to opening & upward,” finding the delight inherent in each moment, rejecting the “oughts” and limitations. Enjoy!

here’s to opening and upward, to leaf and to sap
and to your (in my arms flowering so new) self

whose eyes smell of the sound of rain

and here’s to silent certainly mountains;

and to a disappearing poet of always,

snow and to morning; and to morning’s beautiful friend
twilight (and a first dream called ocean)

and let must or if be damned with whomever’s afraid

down with ought with because with every brain
which thinks it thinks, nor dares to feel

(but up with joy; and up with

laughing and drunkenness)

here’s to one undiscoverable guess
of whose mad skill each world of blood is made
(whose fatal songs are moving in the moon)

–> here’s to opening and upward by ee cummings

close your eyes & leap:

  • Broadway here I come (cast of SMASH) — campy show, lovely soundtrack — Katherine McPhee, Jeremy Jordan and the rest of the cast do this great little “leaping into your future” number
  • I take my chances (Mary Chapin Carpenter) — I’ve professed my love for her so many times — and this song could be my theme….
  • Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty) — love this song…. and he is amazing in concert
  • Leap of Faith (Delbert McClinton) — another scratchy voiced darling — he is awfully good at finding the right words
  • Let your Soul be your Pilot (Sting) — it’s Sting, the melody is lush — the backing vocals make it almost a re-imagined “spiritual” — I know that sounds pompous, but that’s a little Sting, it’s also lovely
  • Take a Chance on Me (from Mamma Mia or ABBA) — such a straightforward little tune — it just makes you happy in either incarnation…
  • The Fall and the need to be free (River City extension) — A friend introduced me to this Indie band, and the more I hear — the more I enjoy them — I’m very curious about their live shows
  • Chances (Five for Fighting) — it’s a pop riff — don’t mind the lyrics, however — great line, “chances are only what we make them”
  • The Edge of Glory (Lady Gaga) — who would have thought? she has a couple of songs that are quite fun — this being one
  • Taking a Chance on Love (Renée Olstead) — her jazzy voice is just Saturday nights and rainy mornings…
  • I Will Dare (the Replacements) — there has been mention of my deep passion for Paul Westerberg and the Replacements before this moment, yes? Pretty certain there has — and this driving little affirmation, simple as it is — shows why….
  • Touch of Grey (Grateful Dead) — their only top 10 hit — astonishing, given their catalog — but this song’s “I will survive..” hook served to introduce the Dead to a new audience
  • Gonna Be some changes made (Bruce Hornsby) — there are few more generous and gifted performers — this rambling little song has his signature keyboards…
  • Twenty-Five ti Midnight (Sting) — Sting and jazz is an underrated delicacy — this is rhythm and heat, pulse and lyrics — Sting at his best (be nice!!)
  • Livin’ in the Future (Bruce Springsteen) — hey Ed! This is Bruce Springsteen on happy! The whole album is so loose — I can actually imagine him laughing during the recording sessions, who knew?
  • To Love the Language (Harry Connick) — talk about throwing it all to chance — in the midst of his big band, the next “Frankie” sensation he does this amazing funk album, She — I was at a concert where he premiered some of the songs — and people were leaving in droves. Subsequently, this has become one of my absolute favorite albums — and this song, wow!
  • The Road’s my middle name (Bonnie Riatt) — first Bonnie Raitt is astonishing, and kind of Dorian Gray when you realize she’s looked just as amazing for lots of years — and this little driving blues number is kind of the unsung charmer on her “nick of time” album…
  • Things you don’t have to do (Peter Malick Group & Norah Jones) — everyone should find this incredible little EP — it’s jazzy and smooth, imagine Norah Jones’ voice laid over funky, urbane rhythms
  • Take it as it Comes (Steve Winwood) — there was a cassette tape that I played so much the tape dissolved (?) — I don’t know the tech term, but I killed the Back in the High Life album, nonetheless.
  • Do Wrong Right (Devil Makes Three) — there is just something infectiously subversive about this song — the melody is all traditional bluegrass chords, and then the lyrics wind temptingly around the idea of chaos

Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, and live by love though the stars walk backward. Honour the past but welcome the future.–> ee cummings

Take care,
Aly

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