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38. My personal Atonement

Source: 38. My personal Atonement

I wonder if there are out there, other people who fear inspiration. I do.

The problem is that I am, artistically, horribly ambitious. I would love to play the piano like Leif Ove Andsnes and direct an orchestra, with the connection, sensitivity and artistic vision he has. I would love to sit at the piano and learn and practice for hours on end. I would like to be a painter, a dancer, an actress, an Opera singer, a clothes designer, and do all of those things to perfection. And it is impossible, unless you don’t do anything else! All of them, full time activities.

And I must write. I must, as you must give birth to a baby you love and want.

I wish I could create and give birth to the nearly limitless art-expression-children of my mind and my heart that I would dream of having.

Perhaps I will re-incarnate into a limitless being with limitless artistic possibilities and limitless time.

But, I do like earth, and my time here… what shall I do?


Writing is pouring out of me. I feel like a tree in autumn, in need of shedding its leaves. Autumn Leaves Steeple AstonIn this case the leaves are pages and pages. I’ve always loved writing little articles about things I see or think about. I had the good fortune to have my first writing job in 2007, thanks to the good efforts of Joan Ilott who connected me with the, then, up and running, Banbury Magazine. Sadly, it suffered the same fate of so many adventures of the mind and the spirit when they require money to move forwards. In other words, it is not any more amongst us. I started as a contributor with no payment. After a couple of years I was Editor of one of the last editions and won my first, and so far only, £500 for my literary efforts.

Let’s see what happens when I receive my first installment for the Amazon sales of The Thermodynamics of Love Trilogy Volume 1, The Secret Life of a God. I doubt it has made me rich yet! But since I am an optimist, who knows….

Anyway, I wrote some 20 articles on different topics for the Banbury Magazine and I loved it. After all, anyone who knows me, also knows that I am VERY OPINIONATED! So, now I am pouring my opinions and reflections through blogs, and of course, books. But the books take me a long long time! I am a compulsive editor, particularly since I still struggle with English prepositions. I’ll write a list of my blogs so far, once I have tidied them out. Incidentally thank you to all the people who have been following How to Grow Old the Right Way UP, The Science of the Improbable and my other activities. Here for you, Foreign Wonderer

Dark and mysterious. Alone. An outsider in contemplation

Dark and mysterious. Alone. An outsider in contemplation

Writing in hope!

I am hoping to become a little tidier with my posts. I became mixed up publishing How to Grow Old the Right Way Up through this, my personal blog/page.

Since I have such variety of interests, I will endeavour to publish different interests through different site/blogs, therefore if you follow one, you won’t need to be flooded by posts too often or on matters that don’t interest you.

I will be changing this page very soon too reflect that.

In the meantime, my new blog, is about the eternal foreigner in wonder that I am. I am in wonder about the world that surround me. About the people of the earth… about life… about me…

If you want to know more, have a look at my websites  for updates on the forthcoming printed publication of the first novel of the trilogy, The Secret Life of a God, and other news.

Music Matters… to Me

2. Mi Convien Cosi Crepar?
(Is it better that I kick the bucket?

Berta-The Barber of Seville 1984
A face like this, (mine!) very similar to the one that woke me up in the mirror this morning, might call for such drastic measure.

In my case, it only took me to old memory lane and my youthful self, singing the part of Berta from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville with Colombian National Opera Company.

The links below are to the aria, -one for the vocals, one for the looks- as one of the singers sings it beautifully in my view but looks too young, while the other has the looks but… well, it is a matter of opinion.

Anyway, there are no recordings sung by me as in those days in Colombia (1983-84), live performances weren’t recorded. Even when, as it was the case with this tour, I had the honour of singing alongside Luigi Alva, -one of Maria Callas’ famous tenor partners,- and Thomas Hampson (1983-84)!

Luigi and Thomas were at the opposite ends of their musical careers: Luigi was 56 by the time he sang with me, but still in great voice and physical agility. The role of Count of Almaviva requires that to make of it a great comical, lively character, and Luigi was a real master! The rest of soloists and choristers were often in stitches watching him from the wings. He was also a wonderful team player. He always treated me –I was the youngest and, by far, the less experienced of all the soloists – with both, respect and forbearance. More than once he prompted me into the stage when my queue arrived and gave me plenty of discreet but extremely useful advice.

an incredibly old and terrible recording but you can still appreciate his voice and acting. His coloraturas are divine. Very similar to the voice of another famous Peruvian tenor, Juan Diego Florez. What’s with Peruvians and those incredibly high voices? Incredibly high mountains?

Thomas Hampson, 29 at the time was at the start of what would become a very successful career. If you are into any vocal classical music, you will have heard of him. His versatile voice and personality and his curious mind have driven him to perform all sorts of music from the XVIII to the XXI centuries as far as I know. Have a look at this link.–tall-dark-and-hampson-thomas-hampson-is-the-thinking-mans-baritone-equally-at-ease-in-everything-from-mahler-to-american-musicals-but-asks-edward-seckerson-isnt-he-just-a-bit-too-good-to-be-true-1368226.html

He had the biggest bottom I’ve even seen in a man, made look bigger by the fact that with his height, 6’4, it was far closer to my eyes than his head was! He was just as handsome as he is nowadays, but he had long curly hair, that gave him more angelic, yet, less sexy looks. He was also as kind and interesting as the article says.

Well… that was an unexpected trip down memory lane… I think I can afford that. If you managed to read till here, you also afforded it!

Till next time.

  1. Growing Old is Obligatory; Growing Up is Optional.*

Sunday 5th April 2015

Berta-The Barber of Seville 1984

This morning I woke up old and I realized, my obligation had to be fulfilled like everyone else’s.

The image I saw in the mirror brought to mind the photo you see: my 30-year-old self, singing the role of Bertha, a mid-60s maid, from Rossini’s Opera, The Barber of Seville.

At the time, I was quite convinced I would never reach such a ripe age. I dreaded both, reaching it and not.

Today, as I scanned the prune-like face in the mirror, I felt, as I often do, so happy and triumphant that I have made it this far!

I dare say I have also kept growing up.

I have grown in wisdom, therefore, in self-acceptance and self-love.

Death doesn’t frighten me as it used to. Neither wrinkles do.

Berta’s aria finishes with the lines:

“E vecchietta disperata

mi convien così crepar.”

And old, desperate

It’s more convenient that I kick the bucket.

First I thought of writing that, Non mi convien cosi crepar,

But then, as I am learning Italian, I checked in the dictionary and crepare also means: to splitting one’s sides laughing. You only need to add “dalle rise”.

Therefore, I will crepar dalle rise, and continue to laugh into any age, genes, fate and my own efforts, take me.

Happy growing old and up!

* I wish the quote was mine. I translated it from Spanish, and I guess it comes from my cheerful 82-year-old brother-in-law, Luis Carlos, who spends a lot of his time sourcing interesting, wise and funny quotes and stories from the Internet.

** For the old or young, but curious, go to my Music Matters… to Me, for some links to Berta’s aria, none sung by me as in those days in Colombia (1983 and 1984), live performances weren’t recorded. You will also find a trip to memory lane from my days with the Colombian National Opera Company.

  1. The Fly in the Soup of Perfection

Yes, music matters a great deal to me. It has been an addiction.

On a good day, I will tell you it has given me great joy and heavenly pleasure. But don’t ask me on a bad day, or I will tell you about the enormous trials, tribulations and frustration of considering myself an unsuccessful, failed musician.

Unsuccessful and failed, not only, because it looks as if I never made it – at my age I’m not very likely to get anywhere with it, – but more importantly, because of the impossibly elusive nature of achieving musical perfection, even as a passer-by.

Unfortunately, when you sing or play an instrument, a wrong note, a note produced without the right musicality, the right tone, the perfect tuning, the perfect rhythm, can leave a feeling similar to having found a pebble in your pie or a fly in your soup. You can crack a teeth or feel nauseous.

Sadly, music happens in time, at a particular instant. Once done, it seems you can’t change the fate of it. Of course, I know you can practice and correct, but that moment, that opportunity to reaching perfection, has gone for ever.

So often, the hundreds of hours of practice are ruined by a second of fear. In my case, as soon as I know someone is listening, I become self-conscious and that is the end of the game: the end of pleasure, elation and of course the end of the possibility of achieving the perfect sound, the perfect expression.

Our brain, like an unconscious fly, stops for a millisecond on the dangerous tightrope of a whiff of air, to ponder on the soup, on its possible dangers, rewards and delights … and falls into the soup! to a certain death: artistic death.

In a way, I am very grateful for my failure as a musician. Certainly, if I had been successful as an opera singer or a pianist, which would have been my two main ambition as a musician, I might not be writing.

Thank God, a writer is something I am. Music is just an addiction.

So, today I’ll try to celebrate with a smile, the fly in my soup and my failure as a musician.

But as I often say… if you have to try, you are not doing it!!

How to Grow Old the Right Way Up

Saturday 31st January 2015

28. Something to look forward to…

Yes… we all need that. I discovered it while sinking into the emptiness of depression of a life, that seemed to me at the time, a complete failure.

My love life was, to all appearances, fine. In spite of a hand to mouth existence, I had a nice husband and two gorgeous children

I had always thought and dreamed that poverty was not an obstacle if, paraphrasing the Catalan songwriter Joan Manuel Serrat,  “…the horizon is light and the path, a kiss..” (Si el horizonte es luz y el rumbo un beso).

But, those like me, who have been squeezed nearly to death by the paws and claws of poverty, know that that is only a dream. A loving kiss with at least some food in your belly, a roof over your head, and the certainty of being able to survive is very different to the daily gripping anxiety for your children and partner and yourself, when all doors seem closed and there is no paternalistic state to help you cover, even the minimum of your needs and health care. We are so lucky in this country, that American writer Patrick Harrington in his very interesting book, When Science meets Religion, describes it as nearly an Utopian paradise… Sadly many people don’t know what they have until they lose it!

I am digressing heavily! All I wanted to say is that in those very dark moments, I created the goal of becoming a writer in my old age, and a grandmother. That has kept me going through all the difficulties and anxieties of failure and solitude and, it is indeed my most permanent and unshakeable reason for constant joy.

Today, I have given birth to the first child of my brain, Book I of The Thermodynamics of Love Trilogy, The Secret Life of a God. If all goes well, it will be on the Amazon Shelves tomorrow, in time for my birthday. Its age is debatable though. If I count from the moment of gestation, I have given birth to a teen-ager. It celebrated its 15th birthday this past January!

Happy reading of it or of anything else you enjoy reading and… keep your goal alive even if each one takes you 15 years to accomplish!

How to Grow Old the Right Way Up
Saturday 28th March 2015

  1. Earth Hour: Turning on the Inner Light

Tonight, as even great landmarks of our civilization turn their lights off, I plan to turn on my inner light and to have a good look around.

Usually the noise, bustle and, indeed, the bright lights of modern life keep us going forwards more by force than by purpose. Perhaps they are preventing us from growing old the right way up: towards the light.

What I just wrote, made me reflect on the fact that I tend to perceive light as above me. Yet, I know it shines ever so brightly in the centre of my heart and mind whenever, truth, love, faith and hope guide each one of my steps.

I hope we all keep the inner light turned on, as we approach each stage of our lives.

Saturday 3rd January 2015

New Year Resolutions… Should I?

Well… in my opinion, “I shouldn’t”.

I don’t know if I understand correctly, but the word itself seems to imply doubt. “I should” sounds to me as if it is something imposed from outside; from society, religion or family, instead of something that springs from the certainty of inner truth.

Therefore, “I shouldn’t”: instead, “I will”.

For example, “I will” write this and other blogs more often, without pestering myself spending a few hours making sure it is grammatically, spiritually and ethically correct, which is the main reason why I don’t write more often. Feel free to correct me!

I am a very wealthy person: wealthy in experience. This is the best I have to give to you, in case it is of any use.

What “will you” do, achieve, strive for this year?

I hope you “will to have” a happy, peaceful and profitable one.