I’m sitting in a small, one bedroom apartment on the West Side of Manhattan. Snow is blowing by the window, giving the room an even cozier vibe. I’m under blankets, in my jeans, truly just hanging out. I just finished drying my hair after venturing through the weather in the name of nourishment. I found a small Irish pub owned by an elderly Irish couple. I was the first and only customer, as I’m sure this weather has bound many people to their living rooms. I made a little small talk with the owners, sipped a pint of draught, and dined on her homemade chicken and vegetable soup, all in the glow of a dark room, lit only by the black and white movie coming from the TV behind the bar. It was a truly cozy hour spent in the company of a lovely couple and Jimmy Stewart. A real time!
As the year winds to a close, I reflect upon what it has been for me. It has been a very difficult year, truthfully. What do I take from it? I’m a person, living and trying just like the next person. I have a purpose – I’m not minuscule, like the NYC pigeons that fill the streets. Really, why do they exist? They spend their days trying to avoid being trod upon by aloof pedestrians. Maybe they entertain a child or two as they become targets of tot like jest. Just surviving. I don’t want to just survive, and that’s what I take from the year’s events. I shall try to let go of negativity, focus on the good around me, the positive people in my life, and live among them! Positive energy spreads like warm light. That’s where I will position my focus in the new year! Cleanse myself of the varmints that lurk around me and within me. No more! Out, damned spot!
Tonight, we will conclude our 4-night appearance at 54 Below with Maurice Hines. It has been a wonderful venue, and it has felt just amazing to be playing well and with friends! I’m hoping that I’ll be able to play Maurice’s show if it hits the Arena Stage next winter! What a gas it’d be?!
I invited Jim Czak to this last night, the recording engineer from Nola Studios where we recorded the Diva albums I was fortunate to be a part of. I met him in 1992. After the show, we walked across the street to visit. We spent nearly the entire time talking about Stanley Kay, the man who assembled Diva all those years ago, and who passed away in June, 2010. What an integral man he was! Had it not been for him, the friendships would have never been formed that I’ve enjoyed for over twenty years, now. One man did that for all of us, and I owe so much of my career to him! He created the opportunity for me to move to NYC from Cincinnati, allowing me to develop a lead sound for a brand new band. I had no idea what I was doing then, but I was afforded a chance to test my own abilities, failing often, but getting right back up and trying again. About a month before Stanley passed, I changed a flight home from the JEN conference to be with him as Diva was on the road. I didn’t want him to be alone – his health was extremely delicate. Arriving at his apartment late at night, I was greeted by a nurse and shown to his bedroom. I stayed in the bed with him the entire night, holding his hand and stroking his hair when he’d yell out for someone. I reassured him that I’d stay right there until the others (Diva) arrived back from the road. At one point, he woke and said, “Liesl, I want to go.”. I asked where he wanted to go. He replied, “I’m ready. I just want to go.”. I replied as calmly as I could that if he wanted to go, I was there with him, and would hold his hand. He thanked me, and drifted back to sleep. He chose not to go that night, and as I left two nights later to return home, I knew I’d never see him alive again. The sobbing was uncontrollable as I said goodbye to NYC and to our dear Stanley. I recounted this story to Jim last night since he was one of the people present when I departed that night. Jim told me about a similar evening he’d spent with Stanley just a few days earlier than mine. On that particular night, Jim, telling this story for the first time to another soul – me -, recounted how Stanley told him all of the precious details of his life, the things he’d never told anyone. Jim felt so fortunate to have been the one Stanley trusted enough to spill his guts. And for an hour last night, Stanley was alive and laughing again, in our words, in our eyes, and in the tears we couldn’t allow ourselves to shed in public. I’m so thankful to have had such a lovely conversation with a gentleman that will remain a friend for life! Thank you, Stanley!