20 questions

My first husband and i were a poor match in every way except sexually.  There is only so far a relationship based on sex can go. Mother’s should really tell their daughters that! i found it out the long hard old fashioned way. A decade together is about as much as you get. Toward the end you can expect it to get bloody. One of those days, emotionally hung over, i could not get out of my pajamas. i sat at the piano where this riff just wanted out. The more i spiraled into it, the more the certainty in me was taking shape. There is no getting better, this is as good as it gets. If that is not what you have planned for yourself, then you have to find a way to crawl out from under it. Fast!

For ten years i was the advocate of hope. Now i was going to be the one to throw in the towel, wave the white flag of surrender, and call it quits? The more i played that melody the more i understood the simple elegance of the truth.  i recorded the riff on a tape recorder that i used to use to capture song ideas (until it broke, and i could find no one to repair it). Sound landscaping so to speak. Took the tape into the car, and drove around (still in my pajamas) letting the words come. I could hear the rhythms, and fragments of sentences. We were on to something i was sure. i had the carcass of a song. It possessed my mind. took over all the space, so there was no room for fear or worry (my two head-tripping allies). Over two days we danced, wrestled, slept, and worked together. So it was that on the third day, in the early hours of the morning the song dragged me out of bed (as they are known to do) she wanted a private word while the world around us slept. “Giving us some peace”, she said. i took my note book and pencil – i know that “private word” means “write this down!” i wrote it all down, and in a two hour blast the song went from carcass to fully fledged (in a strange process of poetic reverse engineering). This love was born.

i recorded the original version of the song, with Kevin Leicher at DarkStar studios in Newtown. He added with delicate sensitivity to the track. He is a truly masterful musician (and a great man).

When the project, as part of it’s evolution, moved over into the care of Peter Pearlson he asked me, gently but firmly to rewrite the verses. it took a while for me to let go of the attachment i had developed to the song as it was. So i went in silence to the song world, and asked for guidance. The answer came back. Simplify. So i took the feelings in the verses, the complex poetic language to express a ruptured gut, and took it to the simplest form. Showed the new verses to Peter. He insisted we take a vocal right away – we did, and that is what you hear on the track. This Love?

The questions in the this love? clip come from notes i made the last time my (now ex) husband and i were in therapy. here they are in no specific order. It just seems strange now, looking back, that every time we would disagree he would seethe “what is this!? 20 Questions!?” and it boiled down to these very 20 questions that gave me the insight to walk away from our relationship and it’s weak foundation.

  1. Can you let go?
  2. What is the worst that could happen?
  3. How much of this is you?
  4. Can you sleep alone?
  5. Can you be silent, and listen?
  6. Have you ever felt secure?
  7. Can you still trust him?
  8. What are you so angry about?
  9. Is it really all his fault?
  10. What have you got to lose?
  11. Do you see a future together?
  12. Is there only one truth?
  13. Can you forget?
  14. Do you still love him?
  15. Will you ever leave him?
  16. What would make you happy?
  17. Do you hate men?
  18. Will you forgive?
  19. Are you being a victim?
  20. What are you so scared of?

Just like “Temperance” at the end of the clip, i cried my little broken heart out to the piano, and as always in my life she was there. Solid. i leaned into her, and side by side singing through the slaughter we emerged as Song’s daughters, and in that act Victorious.

When the long dark night of integrity comes, may there be some act of worthship in your soul to light your way, hear your pain, and lift you beyond yourself.

You have my love always x

nicole

Between Sekhmet and Hathor I burn

How do you begin to write about seeing that artist? The one that you have dreamed of seeing for 19 years. The one that heals your bruised and broken places. The one that steels your resolve when it’s time to change. The one with whom music is a sacred/religious/spiritual experience (well as close to sacred/religious/spiritual as you can get with your clothes on!)

i work in the industry so i knew she was coming before most people. Considering i am so moved by the music she births into the world, it was no surprise that when the shock wore off the tears kicked in (what can i say? I am a very emotional woman).

On Friday night my tension was turned all the way into overdrive. It was a miracle that i didn’t have a loudstupid fight with Michael (we talked about my need to piss on every good thing that happens for me, and i felt at the same time defiant and deflated). Saturday morning came, and in a nightmare i was denied access to the show. My heart broke. i could not pick up the shards when i woke. i lay broken of heart, and sick from the sadness staring at the ceiling and listening to my dog snore. By the time i had to communicate with another human, my brain had become pulped by all the painful memories of a lifetime of stored-perceived-self inflicted disappointment. i snapped at Michael. He comforted me, and got me to stop growling, at least on the outside. By the time it was time to leave for the show i was in a state of frenzy that bordered on psychotic. She played the first song and the river of years of pain began to move in me. It writhed like a snake waking from a century of hibernation. Slow, thick, black, and sticky deep in my guts. i cried through every song. Not what i was expecting! i  managed to dry my face just as the house lights went up. i leaned heavily on Michael’s arm. i don’t think he noticed. The music had touched him in another way. Made a curiosity  in him wake. He chattered away about being transported. Enthralled.

Deep down my pain snake slithered out “you sssssee, sssssshort end of the ssssssstick…assssss ussssual…ssssssssucking the hind tit – hissssssipurrrrrr – sssssssstupid sssssslag”All night long the snake tempted me. Seduced me. Gave me delusions. i got no sleep.

Sunday morning i blurted venom into the void of social media, aimed the poisoned arrow at my husband. He got hit, and it bled. We tore at each other. Dressed and left for the show. From the first chorus, the tears began. By the middle of the show i’m sure everyone in that row could feel the violence of the sobs that racked my ribcage. Completely emptied. Bruised. A mulberry stain to the soul. I felt hollow. A vacant stare. Not there.

Monday morning, the tension that was building between two of my dogs came to boiling point. i had to give up a little shy, insecure dog to prevent a cruel end for both of them. Right action is not always easy, or painless. i cried all the way to work. i have never felt so drained. i felt on the verge of passing out all day. In the late afternoon, had an hour long phone call with my dad that felt like banging my head into the wall. Broken. i laid down. No sleep came. Then time was ripe, and my very excited 14 year old was ready to go. We drove out – me flinching with every kilometer, painfully aware that i had finished the tissues in my handbag. F_U_C_K !

As the lights went down, calling her out for the last time in Johannesburg. My heart lodged in my throat, not beating. The songs came, and the pain was gone. i finally know what it feels like to cry a river. More importantly, and thanks to her, i know what it feels like to be washed clean by a river of your own tears. What a gift! From within the warm glow of my profound gratitude! Thank you Tori Amos. The performance was wonderful! Flawless! Darcy and i left bouncing, and giggling. Underneath the euphoria i could hear my dream landscape calling me. At last Mari came to claim me.

Two days have passed since, my the creative juices are pooling, and percolating…stay tuned…

Don’t be afraid to cry, you cannot always see who stands you by. Sekhmet  or Hathor

Welcome the fires of change. May rising from the ashes of your own burning speed wind to the wings of your Phoenix. You have my love always x

nicole