Sunday, December 26, 2010

Karaoke Secret Santa: 2010!

Here is my contribution to Karaoke Secret Santa for 2010 (please click the link to check out the other videos - they're a mixture of beautiful, inspiring and hilarious!). My Secret Santa recipient was Mikael Short, a gorgeous girl from Utah who often graces YouTube with karaoke videos of her own. I wish her well in her performance career! Without further ado...

This is "Whatever You Imagine", originally performed by Wendy Moten for the Disney classic, The Pagemaster. Having said that, I haven't seen The Pagemaster, so the song was new to me. Recorded at half-past midnight on Christmas morning.

For anybody who missed it last year, here's my 2009 video as well:

Wishing you joy!


Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Fellow Music Lovers,

There are some songs from contemporary American music theatre that just smack me fair in the face and leave me bleeding on the floor, hopelessly in love with them. Usually, they're composed by Jason Robert Brown (I accepted long ago that I will always be a slave to his music), but this time, my fabulous pianistic friend Mikey (and fellow lover of good music) sent me a song on YouTube by a composer I'd never heard of, and I LOVE IT.

The song is called "Quiet", and it's from a show called "Forward", by American composer Jonathan Reid Gealt. The singer in this video is called Natalie Weiss. I find her to be a stunning, capable singer, and am hooked on her utterly convincing characterisation of somebody who has remained quiet for too long.

What makes this song even more fascinating and beautiful to me is the fact that it can be performed by a male singer -- and, in my opinion, be made even more powerful. I am utterly struck by this poignant performance by Tituss Burgess of "Quiet". What a fantastic performer. He is so at ease with his character. I have no hesitation in believing him, and am instantly drawn in, from his first word, to his conversational style of singing. Kudos indeed must go to the composer for the intelligent vocal setting of this compelling one-sided story, but further kudos are absolutely required for this amazing performer...

I hope you've enjoyed these two renditions. What a great song - a great composer - and two great performers. I'm having a deliciously lovely time looking up more about all three of them on YouTube.


Pam's National Anthems Quest!

Dear Folk of the Interweb,

Since finishing my Master of Music degree in November and commencing FT work, my musical spirit has been a little sad. My lovely Joseph theorises that it's because I'm not doing any singing (except in the car), and he could well be right. Paying the bills is all well and good, but my heart needs to SING! So I've got two projects on the go.

The first is Karaoke Secret Santa, a project dreamed up by Joseph Restubog in 2009. Details can be found at the Karaoke Secret Blog. We're a small pool of enthusiastic karaoke singers who are intent on spreading good Christmas cheer to each other! So, on December 11, the Elfster Secret Santa Gift Exchange will assign me a Secret Santa recipient, and, after perusing their musical wishlist, I shall choose a song to learn, and then video myself performing it! Upload it to YouTube by Christmas Eve, and Bob's your uncle. Merry Christmas!

The second project I'm going to be working on is a personal project that I've been thinking about doing for awhile. I enjoyed learning the first verse of the Welsh National Anthem so much this year that I've decided to make it a goal of mine to learn ALL national anthems of the world. Now, the Wikipedia page has informed me that there are MANY national anthems, and not all of them are referred to as national anthems, either. That's perfectly okay. What I want to do is learn each patriotic song from each country, which is going to involve a lot of brainpower on my end to get all the pronunciations and translations right! I'm so excited. It's going to be a great project for me! So many different languages and cultures... Just the thing to keep my mind occupied while I dwell on the fact that I'm no longer studying singing full-time, and figure out what to do next.

I will be recording all of these songs, just on my little digital camera, and upload them to YouTube, as a way of keeping track of the songs and letting you all hear what each different anthem sounds like! I'm trying to find non-naff karaoke versions on iTunes to download and sing to. Here's hoping I can avoid the really obvious MIDI-sounding tracks.

I'm going to start off easy, and the first anthems that I hope to learn/record are:

AUSTRALIA - "Advance Australia Fair" | score

UNITED KINGDOM - "God Save The Queen" | score

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - "The Star-Spangled Banner" | score

WALES - "My Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" | score

With each post and recording, I hope to give a brief background of the piece and teach myself a little of the history of that particular country, especially with regard to their patriotism and national song. I welcome suggestions on which national anthems/songs to embark upon learning after I've completed this first four! I will also welcome feedback and updates on my pronunciation of unfamiliar languages and the histories of various songs.

I'm excited! I hope you are, too.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Head over heels for music theatre!

I don't know what it is about Jason Robert Brown, but his songs and musicals strike a chord within me and resonate very deeply with my mind. I discovered this young man performing this song, and cannot get enough of it. I keep listening to it on repeat! Beautiful. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Some interesting things on war

Something to reflect upon in these days of war

I just received this via email. I couldn't find it at Snopes, so I'm assuming for the moment that it is a true letter penned by an actual Holocaust Survivor, in which case, I think it makes for compelling reading.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sonnet XLIII

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today's scientific reading

Gosh, there are some interesting things on the internet!

If you're not already, you should really be reading the Derren Brown Blog. Derren Brown is, of course, a man who cannot be summed up in a few sentences. If you don't know who he is, google him. Right now. He will challenge your thinking in ways it's never been challenged before.

So I was reading Derren's blog today (faithfully maintained by a whole team of interesting people) and found some truly interesting links that I thought I'd share with you.

Firstly - amazing discovery! A science historian has cracked the hidden codes in Plato's writing and unearthed the most interesting thing: Plato's books were written according to the Greek system of a twelve-note musical scale, his words echoing the harmony, consonance and dissonance of the notes! Isn't that fascinating? It's amazing, because all these modern historians were always, "Oh, there's no hidden codes in Plato's writing! You nincompoops! You've all been reading too much Dan Brown." Well, now they have to eat their words, don't they? There ARE hidden codes! Apparently, it will take a generation to really understand all the hidden codes and meanings, so I'm very much looking forward to following this as it unfolds and learning what Plato had to say about life. I hadn't realised, for example, that he was a feminist! Or that he was the first great defender of romantic love (a grand new favourite topic of mine), as opposed to marriage for financial gain. He was a defender of homosexuality! And he was captured by pirates, at one point, and sold into slavery. What a guy! (Arnold Rimmer? Who? I'm talking about PLATO.) Words from the science historian who discovered this:

Dr Kennedy recalls: "There was no Rosetta Stone. To announce a result like this I needed rigorous, independent proofs based on crystal-clear evidence. The result was amazing - it was like opening a tomb and finding new set of gospels written by Jesus Christ himself. Plato is smiling. He sent us a time capsule."

Fabulous! Such an exciting discovery.

Secondly, a really interesting scientific discovery made recently (also publicised on the Derren Brown Blog) is to do with why human beings dream. Apparently, according to this new research, it's to enable our minds to think about problems that we cannot solve when we're awake. Interesting, really, as that's why astrologers/dream analysers have been saying for years, isn't it? I have always been aware that my dreams were a tool for my subconscious and conscious mind to reconcile themselves to answers to problems that I couldn't otherwise solve. But now there's scientific proof! Very interesting. Read the article here.

Today, I logged into the 1 Million Women website and have learned that I have managed to save 113kg of CO2 deposits by the changes I've made in my lifestyle to date. Interesting, huh? Apparently, 1000kg would fill 2000 balloons! (I may have remembered that figure wrong.) Amazing what a difference one person can make.

Keep well, cherubs. Winter is upon us, and it's wretchedly cold in Canberra!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mental Health

I received this email from a dear friend who is clearly passionate about the topic, and so I am posting it for you all to read. I don't think mental health is taken seriously enough in Australia. It's a huge problem, and it needs to be addressed.

* * *

Dear esteemed friends and family,

Please don't delete this straight away. Hear me out. I'm not normally the chain-mail sort of person (quite the opposite actually), so hopefully this indicates the importance of this.

I send this email to you because mental health is an issue close to my heart, and the Australian Government can no longer sweep this issue under the carpet. Professor John Mendoza, head advisor to the Federal Government on mental health, has just resigned; citing years upon years of empty promises and inaction of the Federal Government as the cause. Instead he has sparked this campaign as he believes that public action is the only way to make the government listen. Teen and young adult suicide is a leading killer in Australia; so many of these deaths can be prevented by raising awareness of mental health and providing the necessary early intervention, prevention and treatment services to those who need them.

I have suffered from both severe depression and from Generalised Anxiety Disorder at various stages of my life. By far the worst part was the feeling of loneliness that these conditions cause. Just being able to be heard, to simply have somebody to listen to what is going on inside your head, is an incredibly powerful tool in the fight against mental illness. Sadly, many GPs are inexperienced with dealing with mental health issues; instead of emphasising the importance of seeking the help and guidance of a Psychologist, often they simply describe anti-depressants and send you on your way. We need to educate our GPs, we need to educate our young people on the symptoms of depression and other mental disorders, and we need to start talking about this very real issue that affects one in five Australians at some point throughout their lifetime.

Remove the stigma from mental illness now. Help your fellow Australians fight this battle of loneliness. Help to raise awareness of mental health, in memory of the thousands of Australians who lose their lives every year, because nobody will listen.

Go here and sign Professor Mendoza's electronic petition - hell, enter a fake email address if you are worried about spam!

And please remember to forward this to anybody you know who will understand and give their support.

With love,


Monday, June 14, 2010

My favourite poem!

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,

I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

William Butler Yeats


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possibly without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak the truth quietly and clearly. AND LISTEN TO OTHERS, even the dull and the ignorant; THEY TOO HAVE THEIR STORY. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter. FOR ALWAYS THERE WILL BE GREATER AND LESSER PERSONS THAN YOURSELF. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, HOWEVER HUMBLE: it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. BE YOURSELF. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. TAKE KINDLY THE COUNSEL OF THE YEARS, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many tears are born of fatigue and loneliness. BEYOND A WHOLESOME DISCIPLINE, be gentle with yourself. YOU ARE A CHILD OF THE UNIVERSE, no less than the trees and the stars; YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO BE HERE. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. T H E R E F O R E BE AT PEACE WITH GOD, whatever you conceive Him to be, AND WHATEVER YOUR LABOURS AND ASPIRATIONS, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, DRUDGERY AND BROKEN DREAMS, IT IS STILL A BEAUTIFUL WORLD. Be careful.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Oh, Marian.

I have been worrying about Marian Keyes for months. Late last year, her husband sent her mailing list an email to let us know that she was suffering from terrible depression and was therefore unable to write her monthly newsletter. We heard from her briefly after that, and then - nothing. My heart went out to her. I have been waiting, and waiting - and finally, she's back. I'm so proud of her for coming through that darkness. Read all about it here. An excerpt:

I don’t exactly know what to say because I still don’t really know what happened to me. The medical profession call it ‘a major depressive episode’ but I’ve been knocked sideways by a multitude of feelings, not just depression but agitation, anxiety, terror, panic, grief, desperation, despair and an almost irresistible desire to be dead and it’s gone on for a very long time. Every day for six solid months I’ve had to try really hard to stay alive. I’ve literally got through each day hour by hour, trying to hang on until the sun set and it was time to close the shutters on the windows and then I’d feel, Okay I’ve survived another day. It was such a horrible winter and it felt like it went on forever, but when the clocks went forward I felt even worse because then there was an extra hour of daylight to last through. I know I’ll be criticised for saying all this, I know it sounds horribly selfish, when life is such a precious gift and many people desperately want to be alive and are denied it, but honestly, I’ve had no control over it.

Kiva: loans that change lives

Here is a really unique way to help change the world.

How would you like to change somebody's life? I mean, there's only so much that one person can really do, right? And I personally am in no position to really make a difference by myself. But I'm finding that there are so many ways that I can contribute and help others, and not only do I feel fantastic about it, but I'm spreading awareness about things I'm passionate about and showing others how their contribution can help, too! At least - I hope that's what I'm doing.

Wouldn't it be great to give somebody the thing that they so badly needed in order to save their life? It'd be such an amazing feeling to be able to give somebody a livelihood to be able to support their families. Give them a helping hand and a good start in life.

Welcome to the concept of microloans.

Kiva connects people through lending to alleviate poverty.

Entrepreneurs from (what we commonly term as) Third-World countries sign up and tell us about themselves, and what they need in order to continue their business. It might be $400 to buy some material in order to keep their tailoring business going. It could be $800 to buy grain to feed the hens so that they can sell their eggs. It could be $600 to update their office equipment. It could be anything. And here's the thing.

You, as a Lender, loan them the money.

You don't have to loan them the whole amount. You can contribute as much or as little as you like. (Minimum: $25.00.)

The Entrepreneur then agrees on a fixed length of time in which to pay back the money loaned to them.

Kiva looks after it all and keeps track of it.

When the money is returned to you, you can choose to take it, re-loan it, or donate it to Kiva.

The Entrepreneur keeps you updated on how your money is helping them. You get the satisfaction of knowing that you helped somebody out when they needed it most, and now they're landing on their feet because of you (and others).

Isn't that just an amazing concept?

Isn't it absolutely sending an almighty "SCREW YOU" to all the major banking and financing corporations who otherwise wouldn't help these ailing entrepreneurs out?

I'm so proud of the people who came up with Kiva. I think it's the most courageous and beautiful thing that anybody could have done for this world.

Kiva's mission is to connect people, through lending, for the sake of alleviating poverty.Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending.

I have joined Kiva as a musician, in the Musicians for Change community.

See who you could lend to:

Pendo Luisi, 27 years old, borrowed $175 to open a cafe in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Kiva was born of the following beliefs:

People are by nature generous, and will help others if given the opportunity to do so in a transparent, accountable way.

The poor are highly motivated and can be very successful when given an opportunity.

By connecting people we can create relationships beyond financial transactions, and build a global community expressing support and encouragement of one another.

Kiva promotes:

Dignity: Kiva encourages partnership relationships as opposed to benefactor relationships. Partnership relationships are characterized by mutual dignity and

Accountability: Loans encourage more accountability than donations where repayment is not expected.

Transparency: The Kiva website is an open platform where communication can flow freely around the world.

As of November 2009, Kiva has facilitated over $100 million in loans.

1 Million Women

1 Million Women - A campaign of daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers
- Committed to protecting our climate, our communities and our future, leading
change for the better.

Our goal is to inspire 1 million Australian women to take practical action on climate change by cutting 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse pollutant causing global warming.

Every woman who joins has a personal goal to cut 1 tonne of CO2 from their daily lives within a year of joining the campaign.

Here on our 1 Million Women website you'll be guided through ways to cut your 1 tonne, and to track your progress as you go along. You don't have to be an expert on climate change. Just join up and we'll guide you every step of the way.
1 Million Women - a million tonnes of CO2. It's a huge challenge.

With your help we will make it happen.

Check out the Ambassadors of this project.

Getting involved in 1 Million Women is easy - simply join, work out the activities that you can do to help, and follow the steps to start reducing carbon emissions. The goal of "1MillionWomen" is to empower 1 Million Women to collectively cut 1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main greenhouse gas pollutant triggering climate change.

When you join, you will be taken to a selection of CO2 cutting activities covering your household, food, cars and getting around, flights, shopping and renewable energy.

Select activities that work for you and start cutting CO2 now. To stay on course to reach your 1 tonne saving, track your progress within the activity centre. By registering, you are joining daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers inspiring climate action.

1MillionWomen: Get Involved.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mozart Requiem

I haven't written about the Mozart concert that I did last week. A few reviews came in today, from interesting sources. You can read the official newspaper review by clicking here (with thanks to my brother for compiling it into a readable format), and a review written by a jazz musician on The Canberra Jazz Blog here. (My friend's dad is the President of the Hobart Jazz Club. Wonder if they're friends?)

My thoughts?

I can only comment on the Requiem, as I didn't see the first half.

For me, personally, singing with an orchestra is an immense privilege, and I am always in awe and terrified of the fact. There is no greater feeling, as a singer, than to know that you have a safe and secure music bed beneath you in the form of a great collection of intelligent and talented musicians. I feel so lucky to have been able to sing solo with two orchestras now.

Having said that, obviously, I am extremely inexperienced singing with orchestras. I also have never heard a recording of me singing with orchestras, so I have no idea what it's like. The organiser of the Mozart concert is sending me a recording of the concert, for which I'm very grateful. I would dearly love to hear how my voice carries with an orchestra (and particularly whether my sound is in metric harmony with the orchestra), and I'd also like to hear how my voice carries in Llewellyn Hall, given that I will be doing a recital there next month.

The hardest thing about that concert was the fact that we could not see the conductor. I suppose, if I want an operatic career, I'm just going to have to get used to that. I had to rely on my ears, and all I could hear were the violins. My inner metronome is languid at the best of times! I know there were moments when I was probably behind the beat, but I couldn't really hear it. An interesting experience, in that regard.

I thought that we four soloists sang the work well, considering our age and experience. All four of us are students at the Australian National University. It was good of the orchestra and choir to take a gamble on four young, inexperienced singers. The oldest of us is 29, and the youngest, 21. Our voices are nowhere near as developed as professional singers in their thirties and forties, and I certainly haven't located the inner womanly oomph to be able to project an enormous sound to a crowded hall. I hope to rectify that in years to come. I figure I have the time... I'm 25. And I'm working my ass hard to become the best singer that I can be. I am my own worst critic, and am very aware of my own faults.

One of those faults is something that I've been working on for years, and need to work a lot harder on. I wrote previously about my knees. (Dislocating, operations, laziness, physiotherapy, clinical pilates.) My knees are incredibly weak at the moment. I can't stand still in any shoes except the ones that will contain my court-shoe orthotics. Ridiculous. My knees lock and unlock, shake frequently, and they've often given way and I've toppled. I think it's worse because I haven't found any clinical pilates to do in Canberra yet. The muscles are wasting away. Again. Anyway, my teacher commented that I need to wear far more glamorous shoes onstage. Didn't help that Ellen was wearing four- or five-inch platform heels! God, they were gorgeous shoes. I have shoe envy! I can't wear anything like that. I performed in stiletto heels once (in January of this year, actually), and I have never been so terrified onstage. I literally thought I was falling backwards the whole time. I... cannot tell you how I got through that performance. I have never been so glad to get offstage!

Overall, I thought the Requiem went well. The choir was a great unit of sound. I was really impressed with them. The orchestra members were lovely and played well. It was a positive experience for all involved, and, again, I'm very grateful that I was given the opportunity to sing. I was nervous, but I did my best. As my dad always says, that's the most anybody can ask of me.

Here are some photos from the night.

Me, with the mezzo-soprano soloist, Ellen Malone.

A silly moment in the dressing room!
Back: Robert Shearer (tenor), Daniel Brinsmead (baritone).
Front: Ellen Malone (mezzo), Pamela Andrews (soprano).

At the after party! My lovely Lucinda, with myself and Dan.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So I'm singing... The Lord of the Rings?

I never thought I'd make a post about The Lord of the Rings.

I'm not, technically. This post is about one of the Elvish languages featured in The Lord of the Rings.

I've been asked to perform at a concert of new works by local composers next week. Not unusual. Did that a lot in Tasmania, often last minute, always stressful. This time, to my surprise, one of the songs I've been given is entirely in Elvish!

I instantly thought of my friend, Gordon Nash. Gordon teaches mathematics in New York, and writes a daily blog. I try to keep up with the blog daily but often end up just reading fifteen entries in one go to catch up. His very dry wit always has me cackling. He's the biggest music buff I know. I met him online through love of Da Vinci's Notebook. Anyway, today, Gordon blogged about me.


Kind of.

I contacted Gordon over the Elvish song, as I knew that he was a huge Tolkien buff, and thought maybe he could give me some pointers. Could he ever! Within minutes, he knew more about the song I'm singing than I did, AND had written me a short essay on the history of the Elvish language dialects. Madness. Wise Madness.

So I'll let you all know how my first attempt at singing Elvish goes.

In the meantime, I am seriously enjoying this song by Peter Bradley Adams. Check it out. It's just perfect chill-out music to me.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Heart Week 3-7 May 2010

On December 2, 2000, I was sixteen years old and had just woken up at my friend Bec's house after a sleepover. It was summer in Launceston, and my mum was away in Melbourne with my grandmother, visiting my aunt. Late in the morning, I got a call from my dad. He told me that he'd been driving through Kings Meadows with my siblings to do some shopping, and he'd felt some odd pains down his arm and chest and felt kind of sick. He said he'd gotten home and called his doctor, who'd advised him to drive himself to the hospital and get checked out because he may have had a small heart attack. My own heart froze in my chest at hearing this news. Fresh out of doing a first aid course (that my dad had encouraged me to do, as he was a first aid instructor), I realised that he could well still be in a lot of danger. I told him to stay right there.

Bec's mum and I leapt into the car, and she GUNNED it over to my parents' house, breaking all sorts of road laws on the way. Like me, she realised that the worst could be far from over. Dad was waiting out the front of the house, looking pale and a little shocked. He talked comfortably with Bec's mum on the way to the hospital, which was frankly the shortest trip I've ever taken. Wow, that lady can drive. She used to be a taxi driver. She left us with good wishes, and I took Dad into the emergency ward. He went to the first triage window and explained what had happened to the nurse on duty. The nurse sent him over to the next window to fill out some paperwork so that he could be checked out properly. Dad spent about five minutes at that window. He turned, and started to make his way back to the first window. Then, the strangest look came over his face.

Before I knew what was happening, my dad started to slither to the floor right in front of me. I took a step back, horrified, as his large frame crashed to the floor with a sickening crack, and he started to convulse in front of me. My throat constricted and my eyes welled up as nurses and young doctors vaulted over desks, shouted instructions and skidded to the floor next to him. The most ghastly, rattly, gasping noise was coming from my dad's lungs as his body convulsed, struggling for oxygen. He had lost control over his bladder.

Tears were openly pouring down my face, and I didn't know where to look. A kindly Canadian lady, who was there for a broken arm, got up and hugged me as I cried. I looked over her shoulder, and I could see the doctors using the paddles, and shouting all the things that they shout on All Saints episodes when somebody is having a heart attack. One of the nurses came over to me and said, "You had better go in here," and showed me into a tiny little room with a few chairs, a potplant, and a phone. "Use it to call somebody," she said. Then she closed the door.

Shaking, I picked up the phone and called home. Mum was in Melbourne, so my sister Helen answered. "Um, I think Dad is dying," I said.

"Er... What?" she asked.

"Dad's having a heart attack out in the Emergency Room, and I've been told to call someone."

"... Okay," she said. Helen was 13. Bruce was 15. Rosie was 9.

I tried calling my aunt's mobile. No answer. My mum didn't have a mobile. I was left with no choice but to ring my grandmother, who had only recently lost her own husband, my grandfather.

A few minutes later, I was allowed in to see my dad. I found out later that they let me do this because they believed that he would soon die. I took Dad's diary and began cancelling his appointments and engagements. When I saw him looking so weak, something maternal just welled up in me and I began getting things organised, post-haste. Dad's skin looked yellow, and he smiled at me from the bed, though he was obviously in incredible shock. Dad says that he doesn't remember me being allowed in to see him.

My mum flew back that night, not knowing if her husband was already dead or how long he would live. I found out, years later, that the doctors had told Dad to get his affairs in order straight away as he wouldn't last two days. A week. Two weeks. A month. Two months. Six months. A year. Two years. They kept extending the timeframe, certain that his heart would give out again and he would die.

On December 2, 2010, it will have been ten years.

Dad suffered three massive cardiac arrests that day. If he hadn't been standing in the ER when he had the first one, he would've died. One of the chambers in his heart is dead and useless. One of his arteries is completely blocked. Another two are 90% blocked. The other artery is only a little bit blocked. For nearly ten years, they've been telling him that he needs a bypass but he wouldn't survive the surgery.

My dad has been campaigning for defibrillating machines to be supplied to remote areas in Tasmania. He has succeeded in a lot of cases. He also participates in heart research at his local hospital, and attends a support group. He is a kind man, with an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the community over his lifetime. You will never, in your lifetime, find a man who is so generous with his time and talents as my dad has been with his local community, be it the elderly, mentally ill, chronic pain sufferers, or his best friend, who laid in a nursing home for ten years after a stroke. My dad has, amongst other things, Parkinson's disease now. In the last couple of years especially, it has really slowed hiim up, and he finds things quite difficult now. The one thing that he doesn't find difficult is promoting worthy causes through the internet. He spends most of his time on the computer now.

So, when I got an email today advising me that this week is Heart Week, I realised that the best way to present this information to my friends is by sharing my story about my dad's heart attack. It is so important to know what to do. I just knew instantly that he was probably about to have another heart attack. I didn't think twice. I just did what I had to do. My dad is alive today because of that.

Take a few moments to visit this website and learn what the signs of a heart attack are. It could save your life, or your loved one's life, some day.

Check out my very first VLOG, about Heart Week:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Gavin Mikhail

Gavin Mikhail is the most honest performer I've ever heard. His honesty, integrity, belief in himself, his faith in life and humankind, and his directness of speech continues to amaze and impress me every time I listen to him.

Gavin is not the World's Best Singer. (Should that award go to Jessye Norman? Ian Bostridge? Barbara Bonney? Joan Sutherland?) He is not the World's Best Pianist. (My vote goes to Julius Drake, Malcolm Martineau or James Rhodes.) But he IS the best contemporary singer/songwriter I've encountered in terms of delivering and selling a song that he truly believes in.

When you listen to Gavin Mikhail, you know that he means every single word he's singing to you. It's like a conversation that gradually unfolds, letting you in on little secrets and confidences, revealing an often raw history, and always leaving you uplifted about his hope and faith. Let me give you an example before my mouth runs away with me.

BRAVE, by Gavin Mikhail (excerpt)

I am not as brave,
beautiful, and patient
as you are, but
I am safe
in your arms; I listen
as you say: "I'm proud of
who you've become,
and the person you will be
tomorrow. And I know
I would give anything up
for you."
I'll follow through.
I promise to hold on.
I'll never let
go, won't let you down.
If you can stay proud,
I'll be brave somehow.

Help me understand the reasons why I'm here...
Now living a feeling like my fear
I'm outside of this life, I am here
Now, for you...

This slow acoustic version is really beautiful, but I actually like the really rockin' up tempo version that Gavin does of this song. Same song, just rearranged for a different feel entirely. The message is still the same. It's so deeply personal. Hope I'm not getting the lyrics wrong. I'm just listening and typing as I go... That plan may be flawed.

This next one is my FAVOURITE, contrary to what my Last.FM page thinks. If my Last.FM page knew how many times I'd played this song in my car, it'd change its mind...

CATCH YOUR FALL, by Gavin Mihail (excerpt)

I know, for you, it must be painful
to carry the way you do;
though I can't be you, I see through
your silent, feigned indifference, gets you by
and though I'm trying,
I can't tell you when we'll fly --
just know: I care, I'll lift you up to see,
see where I will always be,
be there any time you call,
and I will take us back in to
a life of more than we've been through
beyond the lengths that we went to,
to be here, after all.
And though we sometimes stumble
and you're scared,
I'm always there to catch your fall.

I will be there to catch your fall
Still counting down the days 'til
We will finally arrive but I am
Here now, you are safe now,
I know we're okay now - we'll survive

I really love that one. I much prefer the Strings mix to the regular single, too. What's with me liking all the alternate versions? Something fishy going on there...

ONE OF THESE DAYS, by Gavin Mikhail (excerpt)

Is it time to rise above this?
Is it time to move beyond the choice I made
And say, I can love this

What if I wait around for forever?
Holding onto the hope
that there's something more for me?
Would I waste whatever's left of this life
Living for things I think I need?

But what did I ever do
To make you make my life so complicated?
I hate it.
I wish you wouldn't do those things you do.
So give me what belongs to me,
And spare me all the sympathy you use
To hold me down and keep me tied.
One day, you'll see me rise...

Sneakily, I have played you songs that are ALL available for FREE on Gavin's website. So if you like them, go and download them! Listen to the man. Then do what I did, and buy the albums. He's a top bloke.

Follow him on Twitter.
Stalk him on Facebook.
Listen to him on MySpace.
Download him at his website.

Yours musically,
Pam xxx

I wonder where you are?
I wonder what you need...
Wonder why you mean so much to me
And, after all this time,
I still can't understand why
You say you're never coming back for me...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Caleb Shaw

I keep coming across this singer on YouTube - probably because I keep looking up Jason Robert Brown. But anyway, I really, really like his voice! It gives me such hope that there are people out there who are performing so beautifully. And, I mean, I like Josh Groban as much as the next girl enamoured with him, but this guy - Caleb Shaw - sings Josh Groban's songs better than Josh ever could. (I think-- it's something called-- technique? Support? Lowered larynx? A restraining order for vibrato? ... Sorry, that was uncalled for. I love Josh Groban. I do.) Anyway, this guy is great. Check out the demo video and look at his other stuff! Terrific.

Also, this song below is from a show on YouTube you can find called An Evening Of Jason Robert Brown. Brown is a fantastic contemporary American composer of music theatre. That guy does nothing wrong. These theatre students put an evening of his songs on, as I understand it... They're brilliant. (Anyone recognise Miranda?) This was the first time I heard Caleb Shaw.


They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

This line comes from the middle stanza of the poem “For the Fallen”, by Lancaster-born poet Laurence Binyon (1869-1943). [Source.]

Below, is a video of Eric Bogle, an Australian folk singer/songwriter I was lucky enough to go and see with my dad several years ago in Tasmania. I really admire the honesty and integrity with which he delivers his music.

Friday, April 23, 2010


How do you walk out in front of hundreds of people like you own the stage?

How do you smile confidently at a bunch of people you don't know, reassuring them that they're going to love every second of your performance?

How do you stand there, perfectly still with your head proud, completely self-assured in your own body, positive that nobody is criticising you?

How do you open your mouth and sing: blindly; dumbly; without thought process? Without stopping to think - did I come in exactly in the right place, or did the entry sound a little late? Am I loud enough? Am I too loud? Does it sound beautiful? Are people put off by the sound of my voice? Do I look convincing? Why does that woman look bored? Why does that guy look so disinterested? What does the next verse start with? Am I perfectly in tune with the piano? Am I remembering to think about the emotion of the text? What am I doing? Oh wow, I'm singing a song onstage and I totally just had an OMG moment in my head and got completely distracted and now I'm kind of singing on autopilot, fuck. That woman still looks bored! What am I doing wrong?

How is it possible to spend so much time in a practise room; perfecting the technicalities of the music; spend so much time walking yourself through the emotions and journeys of your pieces; watching every version possible on YouTube; placing yourself in the characters' collective shoes; really feeling what they're living; and then: forget all of that the minute you get onstage because you're worried about what people think of you?

Curiouser and curiouser.

Something I've said to at least three different people this week is that I don't think I could've chosen a more challenging career path for myself if I'd tried. Once upon a time, I thought maybe I wanted to be a doctor. If I had ever followed that path... I don't think I would've found it as personally challenging as I find this career path to be. What other career allows me to be a literary, book and poetry nerd with the texts of my songs and operas? Allows me to sing and work on the technical glory of voice? Allows me to learn musicianship and musicality? Allows me to learn to act, move and dance? Allows me to develop a strong work ethic, perfectionism and drive? Challenges me to step outside of myself? To stand and deliver? To put aside inherent shyness and insecurites, and offer my heart up on my palm, while remaining far enough removed from the subject to deliver the sound technique that I should have?

I commit to what I'm doing 100% when I'm by myself. When I'm singing in front of anyone else, that 100% commitment isn't there; I lose the connection with the heart of the work, for... fear? I become way too consumed with needing to prove that I can do all this technical amazing stuff that I forget to connect my soul to what I'm doing, and then it's curiously detached. How do you reattach your heart in front of others? What holds me back? How do you fix that?

The psychology of singing.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Inner Diva

Today, I learned that the hardest part about singing is learning to put yourself and your insecurities aside, and adopting a level of professionalism that is confident, assured, and completely, totally diva-like. I struggle with My Inner Diva. I don't think she's there. I think she's on holiday or something. She's probably stranded in Europe, waiting for the ash-cloud to disappear. I could call her, but I really need her here. We have some beef to sort out, and then she's going to become me, and I'm going to be a confident, self-assured singer. Really.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Billy Gilman's Amazing Tour Manager

I meant to write this post ages ago. You know, back when it was still relevant and had recently occurred. Never mind. You know how these things are. Ideas brew in your head for months and then eventually pop out to say 'ello when you least expect it. Or, when you may or may not be procrastinating from studying for your German test.

So, do you know who Billy Gilman is? I didn't, really. I was a young singer studying her undergraduate degree in classical singing when lo and behold, my mother suddenly went CD-crazy and bought me 4 Charlotte Church albums. Previously, I'd only heard of Charlotte Church from a duet she did on a Josh Groban album. (I know. You're beginning to figure out what my early CD collection was like, aren't you?) So anyway, I got into the Charlotte Church albums (thanks, Mum) and really liked a duet that she did on one of them, which was called "Dream A Dream (Elysium)". It's actually a tune by French composer Gabriel Fauré, written in 1887, called Pavane (Op. 50). The album in question of Charlotte's was called Dream A Dream, and she recorded the title song as a duet with a boy named Billy Gilman. I didn't know who the heck that was, but he had the sweetest, clearest voice, and according to my cursory research made at the time, he was, like... 11. 12. Really, really young. I came across a song of Billy's called Oklahoma, which was a lovely, mushy song that made me feel good about living, and so I decided that Billy Gilman must be a great singer to keep watching for. (I just watched a bit of the YouTube I've linked you to, and had to turn it off as it was making me weepy - AGAIN. The power of a good story.)

I've decided to save you the trouble of clicking away to YouTube. Here, just watch the duet here. Cute vid. Note that Billy totally had some sort of retainer thing in his mouth while recording. Mad props.

Being a university student, I didn't have quite the budget to stretch to importing American CDs (shipping, you know... it's a killer) and so it wasn't until quite recently (last year, 2009) that I finally remembered I wanted to buy some more of his stuff. Went online and found that I could buy all 4 of his CDs from his website! Sweet! Buying directly from artist and therefore directly supporting musical career: TICK! Then, of course, my sweet little soprano brain became confused by the demands of buying from the website. I had to calculate my own shipping, AND add American sales tax! What the hell? In Australia, they just add the sales tax onto everything first! It's such an easy system! I had no idea what the rate of sales tax was in America, so I contacted the email address listed on the website and pleaded for help.

Received back an email from the Tour Manager, Al. What a nice dude. Seriously. Emails back and forth, always exceptionally polite. He even rang the local post office and worked out my postage costs for me. Then, he asked me if I'd like for Billy Gilman to personally autograph each CD to me. Sheesh, I thought! Cool! Monetary exchange and a few weeks later, and bam! I got a package from America containing 4 personally autographed CDs, which I shall now brag about to you:

Don't know if that's his first album or not. Could probably Google it for you, but if you're really interested, you should dang well do it yourself.

Billy's second album. Or maybe NOT. Did you hit up Google? Let me know. I'm just sitting here.

Another album. Not sure where this one fits in, chronologically. After doing a bit of googling for this post, I've come to realise that I'm missing not one but several CDs of his now. Bummer. This CD is especially important, as it is through the existence of this CD that I learned about Mattie J. Stepanek, a young peace-maker who wrote plenty of important books of poetry. His poetry was called Heartsongs, and promoted peace... He was an inspiration. He has since passed away, but his mum, Jeni Stepanek, is persevering! Follow her on Twitter. Also, you should read her book; I bought it and read it. Laughed. Cried. Smiled. Sobbed. Fantastic. She is one amazing person, and her son was nothing short of a miracle. What a joy to read. Foreword by Dr. Maya Angelou.

The fourth and final album in what I suppose I shall now term My Billy Gilman Collection. Yes. So. Excellent. Anyway. Just wanted to show off my new shiny things, and compliment Al on going above and beyond for some fan he's never met in Tasmania. The other side of the world. If he ever comes to Sydney, I'll buy him a beer.

Oh, and the Billy albums? Pretty good. Check Billy out on Twitter - he's being fought over by hundreds of girls.

@bg524 Wow now I'm reading that girls will wrestle in jello for me..that is AWESOME!!! via Twitter for BlackBerry®
NB. Bit of a disclaimer. These album covers don't belong to me. Well, actually, they DO... but the design/concept/art/whatever - not mine. You knew that; I knew that. I just have to acknowledge it. Cheers. Also, that number 1 just up there appeared when I copied and pasted the tweet. Bugger. Can't delete it. It's indestructible. It'll just have to stay.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Music love karma

It's always embarrassing when you write a raving, gushy post about somebody, and then they read it...

@JRhodesPianist: Utterly beguiled and blushing at this blog by @painted_duchess. My head is already big enough...

Didn't I have this problem with Robert Llewellyn, and Twitter, once...?!! A mad fan-girly moment enshrouded in Twitter newbie mistakes? ... Actually ... Let's not revisit that one.

Never mind. James Rhodes'll just have to get used to people waxing lyrical over him, because he'll be a world famous superstar after you all go out and buy his albums! Right? And I'm sure I'm not the only one posting blogs about him.

With crimson cheeks,
Pamma the Hamma xxx

Monday, April 19, 2010

James Rhodes, Pianist

Right. So I know I've mentioned James Rhodes at least twice before in this little blog that I seem to neglect, but I would like to devote an ENTIRE entry to him (which I think I may've already done... oh well, twice the love), just because I am so impressed with him, and what he is achieving out there in the Big, Wide World.

I first encountered James Rhodes on Twitter. Stephen Fry posted something about how we should all be following this amazing young English pianist he'd just been to hear. My ears instantly pricked up. Pianist? Young? Yes? Clicked, and voila. A young English pianist (I say young, but he's older than me - but seriously, until you hit age fifty in classical music, you're not truly considered old) with an immense talent.

I mean, what would you think of this album if you didn't know anything about it? Look closely at the cover:

Yes. You would think, "Oh, a punk rock album!", or "Oh, wow, cool, some emo album!", or "Heck, that guy's gorgeous!", or "Little pills? Razor blades? What the hell?". You wouldn't necessarily pick it up, look at it briefly and think, "Oh, wow, check this out - an album of extraordinary pianistic talent from a young, cool, English guy who hasn't had any formal education in music like the rest of us music plebes who have, indeed, gotten their degrees and still aren't cool." Would you? Would you really be thinking that? No, you wouldn't. Your curiosity might be piqued by the "big pianos" part, but, on the whole, you'd be a bit, "Well, I think this was shelved in the wrong part of the store. What's it doing amongst the people-in-suits Bach French Suite recordings?" (Suit you! SUIT YOU!)

However. (There is always a "however". It's usually followed by a comma, but I'm trying to be more dramatic.) The album is SO EXCITING. It is classical piano porn, I am telling you. I haven't been so intrigued and bewitched by a pianist's album in ...-- Well, that's just the thing. I haven't been this intrigued and bewitched before by a pianist (unless, of course, we are talking about pianists like Malcolm Martineau or Julius Drake, who have released albums with incredibly sexy singers... That's different; they are gods). Of course, I'm not a connoisseur of pianists. I cannot profess to know all of them, and to be fair, I am training to be an operatic soprano, so the majority of my listening is recordings of singers. Still, as my main partner in musicianship has to be a pianist, I like to think that I know a little bit about what I like. Also, I did indeed take piano lessons for six years (but as I hardly ever practised, I don't think I have any right to comment there). Anyway, my long-suffering point is that I am just entranced by James Rhodes' playing. It is elegant, provocative, mischievous, thoughtful, musical, intelligent, daring, sweet (in the dolce sense, not the lolly sense) and has a certain je ne sais quoi, which is what we all say when we're trying to think of something terribly intelligent to say, and just can't.

James must be enjoying great success from his first album (maybe the rest of his fans bought two copies, too? -- I know, shut up -- such a fan-girl), because he's already released the second one! Look! And it's a double-album!

Magical pants. And I can't get away with that shade of red. Dizamn.

I've been pov, what with no job and all in this new city as I pursue my Master of Music degree (again, which James Rhodes doesn't have and he doesn't seem to need one, either - if I could just sing all the time without having to do the degrees... I'd be so happy), but now that I have gained employment, this CD shall be MINE! Mine, I tell ye.

Let's watch James Rhodes kick arse at playing some Volodos/Mozart. (Even my favourite pianist/partner-in-crimes-against-lieder, Mikey, confessed that he thought that James Rhodes' pianistic skills was well leet, mate, well 1337, in this clip):

Or about we watch James Rhodes be utterly amazing at Moszkowski: Etincelles? Yes? More tea.

Let us now watch James Rhodes being utterly charming:

Actually-- alright. We could be here all day. Just click here and go directly to James Rhodes' YouTube channel, and watch the rest for yourself.

So, to recap: This is where you go to admire James Rhodes. This is where you go to read James Rhodes on Twitter. This is where you go to watch James Rhodes on YouTube. This is where you go to buy James Rhodes' CDs. This is where you become a fan of James Rhodes on Facebook.

Until next time, I remain,
eternally a stalker of James Rhodes,
Pam xxx

NB. Obviously, the images in this blog post do not belong to me. I don't really fancy that James Rhodes would be too offended if he knew, because all I'm doing is singing his praises, but you never know. Just so you're all aware: Not mine. His.

Mozart Requiem

I had this great burning desire to write about several topics and now I can't be bothered stepping up to bat for the topics that I feel most passionate about. One wonders how truly passionate I could possibly be. In any case, I'd like to let you all know (all two of you) that I'm singing the Mozart Requiem next week. Friday 30 April, at Llewellyn Hall, at the School of Music in Canberra (Childers St, off Marcus-Clarke St in Civic). Reasonably easy to find. Presume it starts at around 8pm. Might be able to confirm that for you but possibly too lazy. Now, it should be rather good. Some good soloists (a tenor from Queensland, a lovely mezzo-soprano from Sydney, and a dashing baritone from Albury), a smashing orchestra, a scintillating choir, and other bits and bobs on in the same programme. I will be wearing a fabulous dress also. Suggest you all fly to Canberra and attend AT ONCE. Do you hear me? That's right. Get on a-- oh, that's right, you can't. No planes are allowed to fly at the moment. What a bore. A yawny bore. Do you know, my Mum went to Iceland. She worked in a fish-factory and nearly got killed in a blizzard on her way to work once. Hell's bells. That's TWO strikes against Iceland so far... Yet, I'd still really like to go sometime. Iceland looks so cool (when it's not being flooded with hot lava and ash). So, yes. Point of this entry: come and see the Rambling Soprano sing at Llewellyn Hall next week. Hooroo. x

Monday, March 15, 2010

Nellie Melba

OK, just one more post for today. Louise Page is currently doing a show, impersonating Nellie Melba. Check out this brilliant clip!

Louise Page

Here's a YouTube thinger of my new singing teacher, Louise Page.

No interweb for me!

So I'm working on getting an internet connection at home so that I can fall back into the habit of boring you all senseless with my updates. I just thought I should pop in quickly to say what's what!!

I'm spending the 2010 academic year at the Australian National University School of Music, studying a Master of Music by coursework. It will take me one year to complete. I am studying German, and classical vocal performance. That is all. It is fantastic. No theory, no history, no musicology, no choir - nada! Just singing lessons, vocal coaching, opera chorus class, graduate seminar class, vocal performance class... and four German classes per week. UTTERLY BRILLIANT. The people here are DELICIOUS. I am learning from Louise Page, the loveliest and warmest soprano that there ever was.

It was a grand move on my part. Hooray for me. Yes! I may not have ended up in the opera degree in Sydney, but I am doing something infinitely better, surrounded by nice people who genuinely want to help me to become a better and more intuitive performer. What more do I really need?

So much has happened but I particularly want to mention a couple of sessions I've been lucky enough to have with Tessa Bremner. What a lovely, lovely lady. She knows where it's at. She can read you like a book by just looking at you! She's so open and has helped me to relax and release my own performance through my body. I would happily have a session a week with her for the rest of my life.

Current repertoire that I'm working on is Schumann's Liederkreis, Walton's Three Facade Songs, Korngold's Marietta's Lied from Die tote Stadt, Mozart's Requiem (soprano solo), Barber's Knoxville Summer of 1915, and a selection of Duparc songs.

Keep well!

Friday, February 26, 2010

James Rhodes

I received the following email today, and couldn't think what the hell it was about.

Listener Requests: ABC Classic FM Weekends 10:05am-12:00noon

Dear Pamela,

Thank you for your interest in the programme.

Your request will be broadcast as follows:

Work: Bach French suite
on: Sunday Jun 27 2010

I hope you continue to enjoy the programme.

Yours sincerely,

Marian Arnold
ABC Classic FM

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

Then I suddenly remembered. James Rhodes! I wrote in to ABC Classic FM and asked them to play some of James Rhodes' CD. I wonder if they'll actually play James' version, or just pull out their own favourite version of Bach's French suite? Who the hell knows?

James Rhodes is fantastic. Have I raved on about him before? I'm not sure what I like better: the fact that he's released this fantastic CD, the fact that he's on Twitter, or the fact that he has such fantastic hair... Or the fact that he's friends with Stephen Fry, my new celebrity crush after watching endless episodes of Jeeves & Wooster, oh swoon...

Anyway, DO check him out. Well worth the effort. I bought his CD on iTunes AND from his web store. That's TWICE the effort. And absolutely worth it, my friends. Have I ever steered you wrong?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Music Monday

I'm hideously disappointed that I couldn't post "Water and a Flame" by Daniel Merriweather, featuring Adele. TOTALLY LAME. How are you supposed to help spread the word about a great artist if you can't even...--??

So, instead:

It isn't my favourite Merriweather song, but it's pretty smokin'. Get amongst it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

You don't have to get a haircut

Here I go
And there's no turning back
My great adventure has begun
I may be small
But I've got giant plans
To shine as brightly as the sun

I will blaze until I find my time and place
I will be fearless,
Surrendering modesty and grace
I will not disappear without a trace
I'll shout and start a riot
Be anything but quiet
Christopher Columbus
I'll be astonishing

I can't really explain it
I haven't got the words
It's a feeling that you can't control
I suppose it's like forgetting, losing who you are
And, at the same time, something makes you whole
It's like that there's a music playing in your ear
And I'm listening, and I'm listening, and then I disappear

If I didn't believe in you
We'd never have gotten this far
If I didn't believe in you
And all of the ten thousand women you are
If I didn't think you could do
Anything you ever wanted to
If I wasn't certain that you'd come through somehow
The fact of the matter is, Cathy
I wouldn't be standing here now

And then I feel a change
Like a fire deep inside
Something bursting me wide open
Impossible to hide
And suddenly I'm flying, flying like a bird
Like electricity, electricity
Sparks inside of me
And I'm free, I'm free

I thought, together,
We'd amaze the world
How can I live my dreams or even start
When everything has come apart?

I thought home was all I'd ever want
My attic, all I'd ever need
Now, nothing feels the way it was before
And I don't know how to proceed
I only know I'm meant for something more
I've got to know if I can be

I care, I'll lift you up to
See where I will always
Be there, any time you call
And I will take us back
Into a life of more than we've
Been through, beyond the lengths that we
Went to to be here, after all
And though we sometimes stumble and you're scared
I'm always there to catch your fall...

I'll give you stars and the moon and the open highway
And a river beneath your feet
I'll give you day full of dreams if you travel my way
And a summer you can't repeat
I'll give you nights full of passion and days of adventure
No strings, just warm summer rain

I am not that brave
Sometimes I need to hear you whisper
"Everything's O.K... You'll be fine
I'll help you find your way..."
And I have nothing but faith in you
All that I am is what you are and we are
I would give anything up for you...

It's a bit like being angry,
it's a bit like being scared
Confused and all mixed up and mad as hell
It's like when you've been crying
And you're empty and you're full
I don't know what it is, it's hard to tell

But lie in my arms while you're sleeping
And think of the rivers you've crossed
I'll tell you the dreams I've been keeping
For moments like this
When your hope is lost

There's a life
That I am meant to lead
A life like nothing I have known
I can feel it
And it's far from here
I've got to find it on my own

Hear my song
It'll help you believe in tomorrow
Hear my song
It'll show you the way you can shine
Hear my song
It was made for the time
When you don't know where to go
Listen to the song that I sing
You'll be fine

Even now, I feel its heat upon my skin
A life of passion that pulls me from within
A life that I am making to begin
There must be somewhere I can be

Child, I know you're frightened
And your throat's parched and dry
But just trust in Mama's singing
And the gift tomorrow's bringing
Trust it, don't ask why

Just lie in my arms
And I'll tell you
The things that you know but forget
The lies no one ever could sell you
I know that it's hard
But don't give up yet

I don't want you to hurt
I don't want you to sink
But you know what I think?
I think you'll be fine!
Just hang on and you'll see-
But don't make me wait till you do
To be happy with you
Will you listen to me?
No one can give you courage
No one can thicken your skin
I will not fail so you can be comfortable, Cathy
I will not lose because you can't win

But I was sure that all I ever wanted
Was a life that was scripted and planned
And he said, "But you don't understand —

Listen to the song that I sing
Listen to the words in my heart
Listen to the hope I can bring
And you'll start to grow
And shine

Listen to the song that I sing
And trust me
We'll be fine

A new world calls across the ocean...


"If I Didn't Believe In You", The Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown
"Brave", Gavin Mikhail
"Catch Your Fall", Gavin Mikhail
"Electricity", Billy Elliot by Elton John
"Astonishing", Little Women by somebody I can't remember the name of, hee hee
"Stars and the Moon", Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown
"Hear My Song", Songs for a New World by Jason Robert Brown

How do you feel today?

Sometimes, the music in your head can answer that question better than you can.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Email received from The Sea Shepherd Society

S.O.S. - Sea Shepherd Attacked – Urgent Help Needed!

Emergency Update: From the Frontlines
 of the Whale Wars
Dear Pamela,
Our vessels and crews and have been ATTACKED! Lives have been threatened. A vessel has been destroyed. This day will go down in infamy. 
We will not give up. We will not retreat. We will not surrender to those who want to do harm. We need your support today now more than ever.
Earlier today, our vessel the Ady Gil was severely damaged and almost sunk in a vicious and unprovoked attacked by a Japanese whaling harpoon vessel many times its size. Thecrew barely escaped with their lives and were rescued by our newest vessel the Bob Barker.
There is a battle between "David and Goliath." The illegal Japanese whalers are trying to physically harm and financially destroy your nonprofit whale defenders -- the Sea Shepherds. Show the whalers and the government of Japan that they cannot get away with this.
As I write, my valiant crews remain at sea, vigilant in their pursuit to stop the whalers. Our defense of the whales needs to continue in the Southern Oceans. We are their only hope.
Sea Shepherd is the only organization in the world directly intervening to save these magnificent and innocent beings but we cannot do it without you.
Please stand with us and click here to make a donation today or call 877-WHALES-911 (877-942-5379)* as we continue our fight in the coming days, weeks, months, year- whatever it takes.
From the bridge of the Steve Irwin, I thank you,

Watson Signature 

Captain Paul Watson
P.S. Due to the large number of people trying to access our website from all over the world, you may find that our main website pages load slowly, however, our donate page is operating well at this time. In the meantime, we are working to get our main website up to speed.
*To call from anywhere outside of the US or Canada, dial +1-416-645-4677.

*Donations to Sea Shepherd have tax benefits in the United States, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and France.
Ady Gil rammed 2

The Japanese whaling security ship Shonan Maru No. 2 is caught on camera deliberately ramming and causing catastrophic damage
 to the stationary Sea Shepherd catamaran Ady Gil
Campaign Images: JoAnne McArthur/Sea Shepherd

Monday, January 4, 2010

Marian Keyes

Marian Keyes' latest newsletter entry illustrated to me just how tough a time she's been having recently... I wondered why she hadn't updated her newsletter since September, and now I know - she's suffering from depression again. I thought her entry was a timely reminder of how important it is to be compassionate toward those suffering an illness that we may not have experienced ourselves. I personally know that I need this reminder.

Wishing Marian, and all those like Marian, a speedy recovery.



My dear amigos, happy new year to you all and I hope your festive season was not too unpleasant. I’m very sorry but this is going to be a very short piece because I am laid low with crippling depression. Regular readers know that I’ve been prone to depression on and off over the years but this is in a totally different league. This is much much worse. I know I’m leaving myself open to stinky journalists saying ‘What has she got to be depressed about, the self-indulgent whiner, when there are people out there with real troubles?’ so I won’t go on about it.

All I will say is that I’m aware that these are terrible times and that there are people out there who have been so ruined by the current economic climate that they’ve lost the roof over their heads and every day is a battle for basic survival and I wish I could make their pain go away. But although I’m blessed enough to have a roof over my head, I still feel like I’m living in hell. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t write, I can’t read, I can’t talk to people. The worst thing is that I feel it will never end. I know lots of people don’t believe it, but depression is an illness, but unlike say, a broken leg, you don’t know when it’ll get better.

I’ve been trying to read helpful, comforting and inspiring bits and pieces because I can’t manage novels and I’ve included some of them at the bottom of the page, in the hope that you might find them helpful, comforting and inspiring at some time too.

So amigos, I’m sorry to abandon you for the moment. Full service will be restored at some stage, I hope. Thank you in advance for your kindness because you’ve always been so lovely to me and once again Happy New Year. I hope it’s a nice one for you.


That’s the thing about depression. A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.
Elizabeth Wurtzel Prozac Nation


Believe more deeply. Hold your face up to the light, even though for the moment you do not see.
Bill Wilson, in a letter 1950 in How Bill Sees It


Why allow salt water to rust your heart
When the world is brimming with pure sweet water


Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
© Mary Oliver.


There is a crack, a crack in everything. It’s how the light gets in
L Cohen


This too shall pass
AA slogan


And did you get what
You wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
Beloved on the earth
Raymond Carver, Late Fragment


Razors pain you; Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give;
Gas smells awful; You might as well live.
Resume by Dorothy Parker


The mind is its own place and in itself can make heaven of hell and a hell of heaven.
John Milton


Just for today
AA slogan


I am the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be a cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible. I must die or be better.
Abraham Lincoln


Be Ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.
You’ve been stony for too many years. Try something different.
Rumi from A Necessary Autumn Inside Each


No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.
CS Lewis


Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief.
CS Lewis


Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in getting up every time that you do
Confucius, Chinese philosopher and reformer


Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter 1
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend that I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit … but, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter 4
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter 5
I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson’s “There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk


To be or not to be: that is the question
Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing, end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep we say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
The flesh is heir to, tis a consummation
devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep.
Hamlet (3/1)


God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference
Reinhold Niebuhr


Holly Golightly: You know the days when you get the mean reds?
Paul Varjak: The mean reds. You mean like the blues?
Holly Golightly: No. The blues are because you’re getting fat, and maybe it’s been raining too long. You’re just sad, that’s all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid, and you don’t know what you’re afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?
Breakfast at Tiffanys by Truman Capote


I have studiously tried to avoid ever using the word ‘madness’ to describe my condition. Now and again, the word slips out, but I hate it. ‘Madness’ is too glamourous a term to convey what happens to most people who are losing their minds. That word is too exciting, too literary, too interesting in its connotions to convey to bordeom, the slowness, the dreariness, the dampness of depression.
Elizabeth Wurtzel, Prozac Nation


Nobody tells me. Nobody keeps me informed. I make it 17 days come Friday since anybody spoke to me
Eeyore, The house at Pooh Corner by AA Milne


I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, master Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Master Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Sam, The Two Towers, Lord of the Rings


My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?
Christ on the cross (even though he knew he wasn’t actually forsaken at all…)


If you are going through hell, keep going
Winston Churchill