Life of a "tumbleweed"...
 
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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in Christene LeDoux's Road Diary:

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    Wednesday, October 12th, 2005
    12:55 am
    he can see me ...
    It began as an errand ... a quick needed buck.

    Drive to Houston, pick up two musicians, drive them back to Austin.
    Easy.

    I try my best to close my eyes tight and sleep soundly
    straight through the morning.
    It's 4am.

    I knew I had to wake by 6am if I planned to meet the
    10:47am flight from Chicago.

    They were Leslie Sims and Joseph Carter.
    Two displaced New Orleans musicians, now scattered about the
    United States, making their way to Texas for a special DVD/CD
    to benefit hurricane katrina victims.

    After meeting Leslie at the airport ... by way of cell phone,
    we tried for almost an hour to connect with the other musician,
    Joseph - who now, after losing his entire home and life as he knew
    it in New Orleans, is with his family starting over in the suburbs of Houston.

    After what seemed like forever, and a drive past more neon fast food
    signs and construction than I care to admit to the world, we found
    each other.

    We were on our way to my new home and for Leslie and Joseph, a short
    pit stop in an already long, long journey toward the unknown.

    After a brief stop for burgers, sodas and gum, I managed to lose myself
    in thought, conversation and music and drive past the turn off from
    Brenham to Austin and continue heading not toward Austin but North.

    Fortunately, it only took a half an hour or so of realizing 36 was the
    WRONG highway and managed to stumble rather quickly on a short cut to 21
    and head toward Bastrop via Austin, on get right back on track.

    We made it to the studio with a few minutes to spare.

    By then, we had become familiar with one another and in the end,
    me a bonified, informed and now completely overwhelmed NOLA
    (New Orleans) cheerleader.

    The studio was full with all the greats from NOLA.
    Sitting on leather couches, with bottled water, hats pulled below
    the eye brow, dark glasses worn without a hint of coolness.
    Assistants and producers, a documentarian and an intern - all
    with smiles, all in synch and all there for the same reason ...
    to make music.

    I was welcomed beyond what I could ever imagine and hours later,
    found myself the driver picking up the late BarbQ dinner from Austin's
    finest BarbQ, Artz Rib House.

    I became familiar with cell phone rings for everyone and knew immediately
    when I heard the Rolling Stones it meant Ivan Neville was being called.

    And when it came time to lay down the hand clapping, Ivan talked me
    into joining, only to jokingly convince me I was in better time than
    him.
    As the camera circled, I spent more and more time, staring at the
    clapper next to me, praying I wouldn't be the one to lose the beat,
    slam the last hand clap out of time.

    I had to pinch myself, literally, over and over to see that I was not
    only amongst the greatest in music but what I found quickly to be the
    greatest spirits I have ever been lucky enough to find and to find me ...
    It was a feeling similar only to my time with the Willie Nelson Family.
    Pure, 100% uncomplicated, unpretentious love.

    Henry wore dark black ray bans, much like the ones Ray Charles wore
    and with a walking cane and more importantly, confidence, determination and
    a smile, he filled the space bigger than anyone else within a mile radius.

    His laugh was deep and when you felt it coming, it resonated in anyone
    and everyone nearby ... in slow increments of one-one thousands, two-one
    thousand...

    He moved his hands in front of him and excused his way across the room.

    "Chris, can I talk to you?"

    "Of course!"

    "Listen, I was wondering what you are up to this week. Do you have a
    pretty flexible schedule?"

    "Definitely ... what's up Henry?"

    "I'd really love for you to be my assistant while I am here."

    "I'd love to Henry!"

    "How about we start tomorrow, Sunday?"

    "Great, what time?"

    "9:00?"

    "OK."

    So 9:00am Sunday at the Omni it was.

    We started the morning with coffee and scones and I began by
    answering email and typing FEMA documents.

    I thought I would be okay. I thought, 'I'm working, this is work,
    this is just something you have to do for Henry Chris ...'
    But as time went on, and paperwork read, "total loss," "new start"
    "FEMA," "insurance," "relocation" and "loans" I began a pattern
    of coming and going little, secret cries.

    Henry was strong and outspoken, handsome and sure of himself.

    We spent the following days, with our coffee and uncommon lives,
    me, typing away as Henry dictated letters, Henry.. pacing the hotel
    floors with his triple espresso in a 16-ounce cup of dark roast,
    giggling in between sentences.

    And when it came time to run errands, Henry held my shoulder with
    one hand and his cane in the other.

    As the valet pulled up my Ford "Exploder," I laughed and told Henry
    my car was really a limousine in disguise.

    We talked about his 56 years, his new start away from
    life in New Orleans search for a new state to call his home ...
    his music and his luck (or lack thereof) with women.

    We spoke in awe of our accidental happiness in stumbling upon
    one another in such a great big world.
    He tells me the universe brought me to him.

    I have another secret cry.

    I can't even see myself because the entire hotel room is still dark.
    As if, someone was still sleeping the day away.
    There is no need for Henry to open curtains and turn on lights
    and for a moment, I too, forget and linger in total darkness.

    There is a strange freedom in hanging out with someone you know
    can't see the outside you. The dirty hair, ragged clothes and
    now, new laugh lines that seemed to come from nowhere.

    He says he can hear I am strong.
    He tells me he can hear when I smile and when I frown.
    He asks me if I am okay when I change positions in my seat.

    He says my heart if full and lovely and not to change a thing.

    An they keep telling me Henry is blind ... he can't see.

    But I know the truth because he can see me.
    Wednesday, September 21st, 2005
    12:24 am
    hibernation...
    Nashville was such a surprise.

    I had no idea I could find a morsel - let alone a full
    plate of some serious lovin' in what I used to consider
    my worst move yet.
    I am now torn with the idea of perhaps ... maybe ...
    hanging out a bit more there.

    I'll be recording this winter - but the idea of more time other
    than recording is extremely appealing.
    It could have A LOT to do with the fact I was out
    and about every day and night - hanging with new and
    old friends, seeing some fantastic music.
    Anyway, I haven't yet begun the tedious task of following
    up with the amazing Conference contacts I made.
    Urgh... So maybe I will think about that first.

    Since I kept my newsletter short this month - I will take
    a bit of time to update you here.

    Thank you so much for your sweet emails and letters regarding
    my papa.
    He is out of the woods now and doing well.
    His surgery has also left him feeling better and his heart
    beating stronger. :)
    I miss him so much ... being in Texas an all ... but he is
    happy and in love now so that helps me feel better about
    being far away.

    I am settling back into Austin nicely - unless you count the
    heat that is. Today was another 100+ day and I tell ya, I
    am missing San Francisco weather more than ever.
    If I could go back and live in it, I most definitely would -
    but alas, this is where I want to be for my music.

    I decided against the house boat ... at least for now.
    The idea of the upkeep, being far from town etc.. just isn't in
    the cards for me right now.
    I am a bit closer and still not yet close enough.
    Plans are in the works to live smack-dab in the middle of
    downtown.
    Speaking of, this is the weekend of the Austin City Limits
    Music Festival! Whoa - I can't begin to describe it if you haven't
    heard of it. If you google it you will see what I am talking
    about.
    I'm very excited that Alastair will be rolling into town for
    it. He tours with the British band Keane - they're booked for
    the Festival.
    Should be a lot of fun showing him MY part of the world and
    hanging out with a V.I.P pass.

    I've started up at the YMCA again and soon enough, will
    begin bartering (for housecleaning!) with a trainer to get
    this road-weary butt back in shape.
    My plan was (is?) to run the London marathon in April.
    There's still time to register, train etc... but it looks
    like I may be touring Sweden and Norway with a friend around
    then so we'll see.
    Either way, I'm excited to get my body in form - more than
    anything, it just makes me feel great when I am exercising.
    I've had some health setbacks but it looks like I am going
    to be okay. I don't really want to go into detail here
    but for those of you that know, I am doing good!

    My roommate Anissa and I have become good friends in the
    short time I have been back in Texas.
    We inspire each other to get to the gym, share groceries
    and cooking and could it be any better that she hides
    my chocolate from me until I want a piece or two? lol
    Yeah, I can't eat just one little piece.

    So there really isn't anything exciting to post or share.
    I just wanted to touch bases and let you know I am at
    rest for a little while.
    I've kept a few shows in Texas this October, have a Conference
    and show in Seattle in November. But other than that, I am
    focusing on the new album recording, graphics and mostly,
    gathering up some desperately needed extra money for it all.

    It feels good to wake up in the same bed every day. Even
    if it's not really "my" bed and a borrowed roommates bed -
    nonetheless. I like having a dog around and christmas
    lights in the backyard always on. The garden is pretty
    sad but I'm hoping to give it some new life when the
    weather cools off.
    Surprisingly, my car held up while parked for 6 months.
    It has a funny sound when I back up and there is some
    black yuck coming out of the steering wheel (I think it
    melted!) - but other than that, it's running at least.

    I've already begun booking for the Spring and it looks
    like I'll be back in Sweden, heading to Norway and The
    Netherlands - back in England, Scotland and Ireland and
    this time, I am hoping to make it to Iceland and Greece -
    and a fun thing, back to Italy. This time I'll be
    stopping in Florence to see my "little sister." She is
    in a study abroad program for the year.
    Of course - as always - I'll keep you posted.

    And absolutely, if you want to get me in your town
    or country to play, drop me a line and we can work out
    the details. I am game to go just about anywhere!

    I am homesick for Europe already - kind of pathetic since
    I was ready to get back to the states this time ... but ah,
    that's how it works I spose.
    Then ... I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready for this.
    I have been feeling the pull to get back to Texas for
    months.. so ah ... I will take full advantage of my winter.

    Now we just need some rain in place of the acorns and I am
    ready to go into hibernation.
    Saturday, September 17th, 2005
    9:22 am
    New Orleans MUSICIANS HELP!
    I am forwarding a message I got from my friend and amazing musician Will Kimbrough.

    Please pass this on. I think it's a cool idea and well, has me thinking too - hopefully all you
    musicians out there will think this one over carefully.
    xoxo
    Chris

    ****************

    Here is a great link if you are looking for a way to help New Orleans---help those amazing and unique musicians. They need the usual---housing, clothing, etc---but many have lost their instruments…can you imagine?

    I have volunteered my black Fender Telecaster---I love it and have used it on lots of records, including Todd Snider’s East Nashville Skyline, Rodney Crowell’s Fate’s Right Hand and The Outsider, etc.

    One other idea I had---anyone out there want to buy this guitar? I could get Todd and Rodney to sign it…hell, I’d sign it if anybody wants that…and then donate the money to the fund.

    Either way…do y’all have instruments that you are not using or could spare?

    The link:
    http://www.worldmusiccentral.org/article.php/20050906102700863

    Very good cause indeed…
    Maybe next we’ll be donating pots and pans and garlic to the Crescent City’s chefs and cooks!!

    Thanks,
    Will Kimbrough
    Monday, September 12th, 2005
    4:45 pm
    cow punk in a lawn chair?
    Nashville sure has changed since I lived here - and I mean that in a good way.
    Am I saying this?

    Weeell... it could have something to do with the fact I just have about the biggest
    love fest since well, since a long time. With not only some of my favorite people
    on the planet but new life-long friends I can't begin to describe.

    The Bluebird show to start was wonderful - and mainly because I played with one of my
    great friends and a very talented songwriter Bill Isles. Please stop by his site,
    listen to his music and say hello, he's the real deal: http://www.BillIsles.com

    The Americana Conference proved to be the biggest lover of all.
    It just ended and I can honestly say I am/was sad to say goodbye to new and old
    friends. It's like no other Conference in that people and the industry were very
    accessible and to boot, it's very well organized and run.
    I had a booth this time around and made more headway than I have in a long while -
    so definitely - yes, I will keep you updated as those leads materialize and things
    get moving.
    And aside from the booth etc... I just had the best time and laughed and smiled
    more than in a long while. Friends are so damn necessary - I mean the REAL ones -
    not the kind that come along and just want to take from you - but the real
    deals - the ones that just by being around them, wrap their energy and love
    all around your body all the way down to your bones.

    Between the booth, the workshops, the showcases, the record parties, cocktail networking
    meetings, Americana Awards and overall mayhem, I am utterly exhausted and looking
    so forward (I can't even tell you) to getting back to my beloved Austin and plopping
    my not-so-beloved butt down for awhile.
    With that, the Oct. 2 Hyde Park show in town has been postponed. I am thinking of
    re-scheduling it for later in the winter as a Hurricane Benefit.

    I just could not, cannot - fathom heading back to a string of more shows or conferences
    or traveling or networking. I've had enough for awhile and am really looking forward
    to getting a band together in town, working on my new garden (not yet - but it's coming)
    catching up on my Shiner Bock with roommate Anissa and watching as much live music as I can.
    Somewhere in there, I will be flying back here, to Nashville (where I am now) to record
    the new album and hopefully, have a present for you before Christmas.

    Things are definitely going to be different in the new year. I have so much to show
    you and tell you and play for you and... and... that I just can't even think about it
    because right now I am sitting in my favorite spot in Nashville, Fido's coffee shop,
    drinking my favorite drink, chai tea and waiting for a phone call from my friend.
    My friend, Annika, flew all the way in from Sweden for the Conference and a tour with
    our friend Dana Cooper after - so we are hoping to meet up tonight to co-write.
    Something I have recently discovered is fun, I like and am good at. So we'll see.

    I have to say - for literally dragging myself here - kicking and screaming - I have been
    having a pretty good time.
    I remember thinking it was hot here - at least when I lived here - having moved from
    San Francisco, I was devastated by the heat and humidity. Now it's pretty hilarious
    because after my little week back in Austin before this whole shebang,
    and experiencing the disgustingly-awful-scary-way-too-hot Austin summer - Nashville seems
    like a breeze. (smile)

    The other thing I absolutely forgot about was the unbelievably loud and beautiful
    cricket serenade. Each night while driving back to the house, I roll my windows down
    and even with the sound of the engine, the air through the window and sometimes
    my radio, I can still hear them clearly.

    I won't lie - I still feel the heavy emotional blanket that covers the town, the
    ghosts of songwriters long washed up and gone - just something in the air I can't
    explain... but as a visitor, I don't feel it in the same way.
    And well.. with the new found love I feel and renewal of friendships, I can make
    more peace with it. At least more peace then the days I lived in a moldy attic
    apartment and couldn't bring myself to like the south no matter how much coercing
    I tried.

    I must say, no coercing necessary where I am staying in town on this visit back.
    There is a huge, private lake with a deck and dock and boats that I have yet to
    plop in front of with my guitar. That'll be tonight for sure.

    So yeah - you must be wondering about the whole cow punk in a lawn chair thing...
    Yes, I fell in love with a new genre of music, "cow punk" and how much weirder can
    it get if I tell you people were sitting in lawn chairs in front of the stage
    watching it?
    When I think of the name of the boys, an upright bassist, banjo-playing lead singer
    and guitarist (that were described as "Nirvana meets bluegrass") I will pass it on.

    A list of people I met, hung out with and overall felt like a big nerd hanging
    around pretending I wasn't freaking out inside: Steve Earle, Arlo Guthrie, Mary Gauthier,
    Judy Collins, Robert Earl Keen, Mindy Smith and Emmy Lou Harris.
    I can die now - and if I do, please play cow punk at my funeral. :)
    Saturday, September 3rd, 2005
    1:29 am
    Where are you and how can you help RE: Hurricane Katrina?
    How can you help?
    In America? Europe or beyond?

    In soooo many ways....

    https://www.redcross.org/donate/donation-form.asp (can donate from around the world!)

    And here's something cool, the UK Red Cross is helping too!
    http://www.RedCross.org.uk or call 001-800-4357669

    And yes, it wouldn't be America if Oprah and her network didn't surface:
    http://speakup.oxygen.com/campaigns/neworleans/

    Are you in the U.S and can offer housing/necessities a job or...
    contact:

    http://www.Moveon.org

    http://www.shareyourhome.org

    http://neworleans.craigslist.org (click apts/housing, rooms shared or temporary housing links)


    ***********************

    Re: Animals left behind and how you can help support the organizations rescuing them:

    The ASPCA Disaster Relief Fund
    http://tinyurl.com/bx2wd

    The American Humane Society and Disaster Relief
    https://secure.hsus.org/01/disaster_relief_fund_2005

    And another reputable animal rescue URL:
    http://www.nsalamerica.org/ar/index.html

    ***********************

    Have you been getting messages from a loved one trapped?
    Here are a few things you might be able to do:
    (Thanks Molly for this info! http://www.livejournal.com/users/bellygoth/)

    Here is some very helpful information:

    Official Search and Rescue Center at the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness

    225-925-7708 or 7709 or 3511 or 7428 i.e. 225-925-3511

    If you have friends or family that are stuck in NOLA and the surrounding areas this is the official number to call. Be prepared to try to call several times... everyone is calling these numbers.

    If you can contact your friends get the exact address of where they are at or where they are going to be for when you call search and rescue. tell them if they have to leave to call you asap. You can update the OEP at commo1@ohsep.louisiana.gov

    Cell phone communication is extremely limited, but Text messaging on Verizon, Cingular and Sprint networks appear to be working.

    If you get in touch with your friends they need to do the following

    1) They need a white sheet on the roof of a building
    2) They need to wave something to notify the helicopter that they need to be rescued.
    3) If it is at night they need to use flash lights to signal the helicopter.
    4) They need to stay at the highest point.

    AND....

    ***********************

    Air America Radio's Public Voicemail
    1-866-217-6255
    Air America Radio's Public Voicemail is a way for disconnected people to communicate in the wake of Katrina.

    Here's how it works:

    Call
    the toll-free number above, enter your everyday phone number, and then
    record a message. Other people who know your everyday phone number
    (even if it doesn't work anymore) can call Emergency Voicemail, enter
    the phone number they associate with you, and hear your message.

    You can also search for messages left by people whose phone numbers you know.

    Air America Radio will leave Public Voicemail in service for as long as
    this crisis continues. You can call it whenever you are trying to
    locate someone, or if you are trying to be found.

    ***********************

    Are you a musician on Cdbaby.com wanting to help?
    (Thanks Kathleen Swann for this info and Derek Sivers of CdBaby for doing this!)

    There's a special section of CdBaby.com linked from the front page
    of artists who have chosen to give their CD profits to the Red Cross.

    You may think that a few sales won't help, but with thousands of
    musicians banded together to do this, I think it will help a LOT of
    people get their lives back together after this disaster.

    Anything you do helps...even your thoughts and prayers go a long way,
    xoxo
    Chris
    Wednesday, August 31st, 2005
    11:50 pm
    Martial law?
    I have been receiving emails asking if I am back in Austin, Texas.
    I'm here now.

    Today while walking in 100+ Texas heat, I walked past a gas station
    that in response to the disaster in New Orleans, Louisiana were at
    that very minute raising the gas prices by 20 cents.
    It may not sound like much but as it turns out, prices are rising
    overnight "in response" all across the U.S.
    To my European friends, I know, that sounds like nothing.
    And in comparison to your prices, it isn't very much.

    On another note, I just found out New Orleans has just declared
    Martial Law. Do you know what it means? I wasn't sure so this is
    what I found:
    Martial law is the system of rules that takes effect
    (usually after a formal declaration) when a military authority
    takes control of the normal administration of justice
    (and usually of the whole state).

    I am so grossed out to hear of all the looting that is taking place.
    I read somewhere about the looting of WalMart. Okay, so that one
    definitely has me in the middle...I don't particularly love what
    WalMart stands for and has done to the smaller folks... but alas..
    looting... eh....
    And well, it's looking like some folks are even looting actual
    homes that had to be abandoned and in one case at least, were using
    a pitchfork to break down doors!

    Here I was planning a trip to work in a Thailand Orphanage (more
    on that another time) and now, well...it feels kinda weird.
    Alas, my roommate Annissa and I decided tonight we will find out
    about going to Houston to work in the Dome where the evacuees
    have been since today. It looks like they will need people to help
    in the nurseries with the children. And since I am an x-nanny/just
    about everything there is to do with children's jobs girl and Annissa
    is a teacher currently getting her doctorate, we figured we'd put
    our experience to good use.

    I wish I had a big ole' list of places/things to do to help... let me
    work on it in the next few days and I'll definitely post it.

    This is so sad I can't believe it's real.
    And on a not so important note, I have obviously, canceled all my
    upcoming Louisiana shows until much further notice.

    love, Chris
    p.s Here is a journal/diary/blog from New Orleans I have been watching: http://www.livejournal.com/users/katrinacane/friends
    and a list courtesy of my friend Holly of various New Orleans users:
    http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/archives20050828.shtml#102347
    Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005
    5:31 pm
    ... you can't always get what you want ...but you get what you need .....
    The smell is a cross between pine and honeydew.
    The air and temperature are so perfect you feel
    like you are watching a movie, you almost can't
    feel the air it's so subtle and lovely.

    Crickets gladly sing throughout this day, the same
    as they would hum through the night.
    The birds sing a natural song ...
    unlike city birds that nowadays take on the sounds
    of cell phones, car alarms and even house pets.

    The day after the Festival has left this small Colorado
    town with a feeling of relief and rejection.
    The streets and sidewalks are nearly empty and the few people
    you do see walking about are carrying on with a slow shuffle,
    a foot drag and otherwise completely relaxed and laid back step.

    I too shuffle about and find myself at the same Cafe as everyday
    since my arrival, "The Barking dog."
    I walk in and immediately meet a new friend called J.J.
    She's just moved to town from Minneapolis.
    It doesn't take long for me to figure it out and for her confess
    she is a past spiritual healer, counselor.
    She says she doesn't practice anymore but I know different
    as she massages my heart without even realizing it.
    Like the people in Denmark - she takes in my words (like a quick
    gasp, as if she's saying "Yes...oh...uh-huh...") and lets
    them take the shape they must and in return - gives me the truth
    as she hears it - and in a way... well, in a way I don't feel
    preached to... and can take it.

    We speak of love and music, traveling and our spiritual path.
    I tell her of the close encounter I had the past few days.
    The kind of love you hope someday will come and when it does,
    you run scared and go inside as deep as you can.
    It's all just one big crap shoot.
    You never know when or where or how it will come
    but one thing is for sure - when it does, it doesn't always mean
    it's to stay.
    And since when if it has come and gone was it "it?"
    I mean THE it?
    Yeah?

    Sometimes it comes to me in the voice of an older woman on a train,
    the purring and leg nuzzling of a strange cat on a street
    and when I am at my ropes end - the smile from a baby - the best kind to get.
    And if I'm real lucky, it comes from a horse resembling
    in the slightest - a shade of white.

    I wish I knew how to grab a hold of it tight when it breezes by ...
    but no matter how prepared I think I am, I always let it drift
    back to wherever it came from, to wherever it is (was?) going....
    and I do what I do best - I keep rolling and I don't look back.

    J.J says when you're not looking it comes. Oh yes, I agree.
    But what if you haven't been looking in a long,
    long time and it comes...and you don’t know how to see it?
    What then?
    Is there a saying for that?

    On the CD player, I can hear playing one of my favorite songs,
    "You can't always get what you want."

    Wait... I never wanted it?
    But when it came I actually saw it.
    It?
    I mean, I think so.
    Anyway ... a miracle for a girl who keeps her eyes wide open
    but only to the next birthing of a song - the audience in front
    of me or the long road ahead.

    People are coming and going, "Large latte with soy milk, no foam please...
    a small blueberry muffin, do you have non-fat? I'd absolutely LOVE a vanilla
    iced coffee...do you know how to make one?"

    J.J wipes the sweat from her brow and after the last wave of people leave,
    she picks up the broom and goes to town on the now all-day dirtied up floor.
    "You see...' she says 'people come and go darling. The truth is, when they go,
    sometimes that's exactly what you were looking for...what you want..."
    "Eh?" I ask her
    "Think of this way, you have a new lesson learned today...
    you’re a day older."

    But I DON'T want to be a day older.
    And why can't I get what I want and not what I need...?

    Why can I see and hear a stranger on a train so clearly...
    yet when love comes a blowing in... all I can feel is
    the strong wind it brings ...
    and all I can see is the rubble it turns up
    after the storm passes?
    It comes so fast I hardly have time to recover from
    being knocked down and it's gone.
    Just gone.
    Tuesday, July 26th, 2005
    6:31 pm
    love from the cobblestone...
    Howdy howdy... :)

    I know it is not like me
    A. To not post for so long
    B. To post my boring announcements here and
    C. Not give you a nice story to read
    ... sorry, I know I have been lagging in the journaling dept. ...
    So....

    I just wanted to send a note saying hi and I am doing really well. Thanks for all your wonderful emails and hand written letters about my papa and his heart and my voice.

    Firstly, he is stable and doing really well. There is no surgery yet ... probably in August as they are still figuring out all the kinks in his body right now. Fortunately, I should be there for about week to see him through it. He is newly married and in very good spirits as well. With his blessing and encouragement, I returned to Europe to finish out most of my summer touring.

    Unfortunately, I missed the Germany shows as well as one of my many UK tours this spring/summer. (insert very sad face now) but alas... when I did return to England for the tour I just finished (July 16th) in Cambridge, I had a very full voice ! Yesireee. It was beyond wonderful to have it back and the shows were excellent.

    The first show, a house concert in Turners Hill with my wonderful, new life-long friends Simon, Sneesha and Ayesha. Can you say WHOA? Absolutely beyond my expectations in family loving, hospitality and their friends are equally golden. There was I think only one person that left without my CD which is beyond words. Since I am out here, full-time (and well, homeless) every CD sold is food in my belly, gas in my car or train/airplane fare as it may be in Europe and the best part, money toward the next CD that IS FINALLY happening. So, back to the family. Ayesha turned out to be the salesgirl of the year. It is because of her very savvy 6 year old (yes, 6!) smarts, that a CD was sold to each guest and their email on my mailing list. Good work Ayesha! Wanna hit the road? (Pleeease Simon? :-)

    The Borderline was a great show as well. If you count the songs, the fan interaction and reaction and not the smokey room and slippery floor. Ah well. Getting there was a bit tricky as once we entered the tubes in London, first of all, the feeling was extremely heavy and cautious being only two days after the bombing. As well, people were JAMMED and I mean jammed into them. It was rush hour and like no rush hour I have ever experienced on the tubes. It felt like bikram yoga (yoga in a room heated to 110+ Fahrenheit in case you are wondering) without the yoga. Yuck!
    As for the show ... Al was there and even luckier, my new good friend Simon, who hosted the house concert for me in his home the night before, came with me. We had fun pretending he was my road manager. No one messed with me. heh

    The house concerts in both London and Whistable were also amazing and ah, I was very fortunate to be given a sea-side hotel for a few nights. On my day off, I collected shells, made a necklace of them, swam in the ocean and even got a little sun.

    After an hour and a half drive with Nick and Kate, I made it to Cambridge.
    Being in Cambridge was as wonderful as always. I have some serious friends there now and this would make it my 4th (or is it 5th) trip/tour there. From jamming in the beautiful garden at the house of my friends John and Isabel, with Dave and Maggie ... to the late nights of sharing and pizza with Maggie. She is a serious case of fun and just so much positive energy comes from her body it is unreal. That goes for Dave and John too .. and they are fantastic songwriters to boot.

    Stockholm, Sweden (yes, after all that sickness, I made it back) was as usual, also lovely. Maria came home from her vacation down south for a few days where we stayed up, played our new songs for one another and drank some very delicious orange, sweet tasting fancy liquor. A far cry from my old whiskey days and ah, how yummy and wonderful it was.
    She left to return to her family and their vacation on the ocean and left me alone in the very peaceful house on the hill she calls her home and for another week, mine.

    I went on and am still on, some sort of crazy writing frenzy that even I do not believe. I think I have written two albums worth of songs all in all since I got my voice back. I have been debuting many of them on the UK and now Swedish tour. Little Lighthouse (yes, I finally have an actual song called little lighthouse!) is going down the best. Keep on rollin and Angel, you have come too soon are also on the growing list of fan favorites.

    At the moment, I am back on Gotland island... where it all began (the illness etc..) We had our first show last night which was not what I thought it would be but nonetheless fun to be playing with friends and a sweet taste of what is come this week.
    The weather is soooo amazing right now it is indescribable and to boot, I am in a loft room with a little ocean view and sun roofs! My second show is tonight. I am very excited to have Robert on percussion and Emily on cello sitting in. Emily is also writing for the paper and did an excellent interview and took some great photos as well. Looking forward to seeing the piece and will definitely post it (along with some other press I have been holding out on) as soon as I can.
    The radio was fun today too. Mostly it was me rambling and Annika translating for the Swedish audience. They played Sweet Patty off the album and before it, asked me to show them what I mean by being a storyteller. No problem there. heh.

    The last bit of news is
    A. I think the CD is going to be done before Christmas folks! Wahooooo!!
    B. I just got word I made it into the Rocky Mt. Folks Festival in Colorado next month! A second chance is always a good thing since The Telluride Festival in CO only heard my croaking non-existent voice and
    C. I will be back in Austin for a couple of weeks the end of Aug/early Sept. before heading to Nashville for some shows, a Conference and recording.
    Then...(drum roll) aside from a few side shows here and there etc... I am planning to spend the winter both around Austin writing and playing the scene, getting a band together and overall roughing up my (Danish..go figure!) cowboy boots as well as commuting to Nashville to finish the album.
    D. What is D again? Oh yes, I was just offered by a wonderful friend of mine who just happens to be a professional and very talented web designer, a new free-of-charge snazzy web site.
    So... expect for that to go online when the new CD is out. Expect a very nice, up to date and hi-tech (but not too high tech!) website that is not only fun to visit but will have some surprises up the wazooo.
    I am sad to see the one my brother Bear and I have designed and maintained for so long go but alas, Bear gave me his blessing and I suppose it is time for a new look.

    I am feeling very optimistic about what this next CD is going to do for my career and the changes taking place now and the ones that are still come. Al told me the past few months have been karmic expiation. Letting your bad karma go all in one go. I had a hard time with that until he mentioned it could mean karma from another life. Hmm... What is that Indigo Girls song again? Galileo?
    Anyway, I think enough has been purged to open up the world again. Whew, that was close.

    See and talk to you all along the roads and watch for many, many journals to start flowing. I have been keeping all kinds of notes but just have not had the time to organize them enough to post... so ... there will loads of backtracking and catching you up to do.

    Take care of yourselves and each other.
    love from the cobblestone streets of Sweden xOx
    Christene
    Thursday, July 21st, 2005
    2:17 pm
    backtracking ...
    I forgot to tell you...

    In Copenhagen, Denmark there is a park.

    In Copengagen, Denmark there is a cemetery.

    A park/cemetery.
    Yes, it really exists.

    And not only is it the most beautiful of all cemeteries
    I have ever seen but it is filled in every corner with…
    lovers on blankets, children with bouncing balls,
    mommies and daddies with picnic baskets...

    The flowers were in full bloom the day I passed through,
    grass and trees as green as I have ever seen green.

    The foot paths were full with everyone and anyone on
    bicycles. Mostly vintage and with baskets and horns, large
    banana seats and chrome.

    The most alluring and eery line I have ever seen and felt between
    death and life... the lovers, the children, the mommies and
    daddies, the bicyclists... on this day, all lived and rested in peace.
    Monday, July 4th, 2005
    11:06 pm
    independence from too much thinking ...
    Tom drives Patty's last car, mom now drives Nettie's...
    Someone needs a couch; I've got a spare... here is my old
    coffee maker, I heard you needed one.

    Family is a funny phenomenon.
    One minute you're handing over keys, the next you're fighting
    over something you said when you were 10.

    I can't deny that Fourth of July with my family is nothing short
    of a sitcom. Tragic and funny at the same time ... then ...
    I guess I could say that about our life together in general.

    We cooked hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken.
    We drank Heinken's, Coca Cola and funny coolers with
    names like, "watermelon burst and "lemon zinger."

    The kids wore floating swimsuits and spent the entire day
    shriveling their toes and fingers in my sisters pool...
    in the almost 100 degree heat.

    George told his jokes and my nephew, his son, Rain, whom
    I haven't seen in over 5 years, told his stories.
    At 14, I wonder where they come from ... one after the other
    they came... The crash on his dirt bike, jumping from a roof...
    the entertaining exaggerations of a teenager on the loose.

    Mom sang "Amazing Grace" acapella in her sweet-childlike-
    out-of-tune voice that only family could love.
    My brother in law Joel threatened to throw me in ... until
    finally, I just gave in and went in myself.

    We watched our $40 box worth of fountains and cherry bombs,
    sparklers and spinners... shine and sparkle... and in the end,
    leave only a black smoke spot on the ground.

    We sat mesmerized, without speaking until the next...and the next...
    and...
    And when one surprised us by going on and on or shooting
    to the sky, an "Awww...." would come in verbatim.

    I sit now in my old room from childhood, with my Heineken
    buzz, hearing more booms and cracks and whistles then I
    remember ever hearing when I was growing up.

    Being driven here in my brother's convertible...we watched
    children and families, neighbors and strangers circling the
    streets with orange and gold sparklers, sitting on lawn chairs,
    propped up on buckets and make do chairs turned over ...
    hanging feet on top of patio tables.

    I could smell the smoke and even more so... it filled the air ...
    like a thin layer of fog.

    Cars stopped at lights with booming stereos, "yo ...yo ... get
    me some 'a' dat...yo. ..yo. .." or "I will always love you..."
    and the odd car now and then, filled with singing carloads
    of bored High Schoolers.

    It's still in the 80's but with the sun fallen ...
    it's more perfect then I can even describe.

    For one night, I have forgotten about the troubles of the world...

    the troubles of the one little life somewhere in the middle
    of it all ... somewhere in small town America ... a little life
    I call mine ... at least for today.

    For one night, I celebrate independence from
    too much thinking.
    Tuesday, June 28th, 2005
    11:25 pm
    turn turn turn
    Minutes before, I am sitting in a spare church room,
    eating a chicken salad from the very same place
    I took my first job, Jack in the Box on Orangeburg Ave.

    I am talking with Cindy, my ... in about ten minutes...
    new step-mother.
    I am focused on finding all the black beans.

    I am now sitting in the smallest part of the chapel,
    as casual as the other 7 attendees...in my jeans,
    cowboy boots and white button down shirt.

    I'm having a good hair day and for the first
    time in a long time, my hair is down.

    I am watching my little brother circling the event
    with his digital camera going...
    click
    click
    click
    ...documenting what is now officially my dads
    second marriage.

    My new step-brothers are in the row in front of me...
    my new step-mother reciting the vows that will make
    her my fathers new wife...

    Everyone is holding hands now and reciting a prayer.
    Meanwhile...I am scanning the room and listening as
    Bear continues to go...
    click
    click
    click
    ...and the room sighs, "Amen."

    Pasture George looks like he just returned from a
    vacation playing golf and launches into an easy-going
    sermon, using The Byrd's song, "Turn, turn, turn"
    as an example of how funny life is...and how things can
    sometimes change in an instant...just when you thought
    you knew...the weather and the season...

    **To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time for every purpose, under heaven**

    His hands are not as high as I would think a pasture would
    hold them. He is calm and wearing an all white gown with
    a single, large cross chain hanging close to his heart.

    And it's then I start to check out.

    **A time to be born, a time to die
    A time to plant, a time to reap
    A time to kill, a time to heal
    A time to laugh, a time to weep**

    I'm now thinking of my mom and the fact that she doesn't
    even know about the wedding today.
    That their divorce finalized this Christmas and her bearings
    are just now getting aligned...sort of.
    Where is she anyway? Why hasn't she called me back?
    Maybe I need to go straight to her house after...

    **To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time for every purpose, under heaven**

    I'm wondering if the insurance my dad has for the first time
    in years will kick in the minute they say, "I do..."

    I am thinking about the pending operation and how
    serious the doctor has now made it.
    Will they whisk him off in an ambulance?
    From vows to red, flashing lights?

    Doctor's Hospital is only two blocks away and I think...
    everythingwillbefine
    everythingwillbefine
    everythingwillbefine

    **A time to build up,a time to break down
    A time to dance, a time to mourn
    A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together**

    Then they say I do and they kiss and I'm not even aware how
    much I am crying because I have just come back to the moment.
    My Kleenex is soaked and stuck to my right hand.
    I let it drop to the floor. Did anyone see that?

    Hugs are being exchanged and welcome to this family...that
    family. We are smiling perfect "this is surreal" smiles.
    Hoping no one notices our jeans and our shorts and t-shirts...
    even though we all look the same... like we've stopped off
    for a quick burger or hotdog at barbq...
    quick
    quick
    quick

    **To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time for every purpose, under heaven**

    Dad sits down now and loses his breath for a minute...
    so fast that you almost don't notice....but everyone notices
    and the room grows silent.

    I wonder if he will die any minute?
    Should I just hold his hand and feel for a heart beat on the wrist?
    Can anyone tell I am breaking into pieces inside?
    Did I wipe all the mascara away?
    Maybe I will go and fix my hair. That'll make me feel better...yeah.

    **A time of love, a time of hate
    A time of war, a time of peace
    A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing**

    And then... it's over...

    And I am proud of myself for holding it together...
    at least on the outside.

    **To everything (turn, turn, turn)
    There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
    And a time for every purpose, under heaven**

    Our family friend Jerry, drives me to my dads house and at
    6:30pm, picks me back up for dinner at Marie Callender's.

    I order yet another chicken salad because at this point, I can't
    make....
    onemoredecision
    onemoredecision
    onemoredecision

    turn
    turn
    turn

    My mascara is fresh, even combed my hair.

    I ordered only one vodka and cranberry even though I could see
    two, three and maybe even four in my immediate future...
    since when did I drink vodka cranberries?
    I'm proud of myself and I reach for the cornbread. It's the best
    cornbread I have ever had but I can't taste it. How can I not taste
    the cornbread I am swearing is good? I just can't. It makes no
    sense and I give up.

    turn
    turn
    turn

    And when the dinner is over and all the goodbyes are done...
    everyone heads in their own direction.
    I linger with my sister Nettie and pretend
    iamabsolutelyfine
    iamabsolutelyfine
    iamabsolutelyfine

    turn
    turn
    turn

    iwontloseit
    iwontloseit
    iwontloseit
    ...because that is what she expects from the black sheep today.

    turn
    turn
    turn

    I ask her about her move and her job...my nieces.
    "Did they get the birthday presents I sent from Sweden?"

    turn
    turn
    turn

    And when all the small talk is over and I am driven to my dads...
    I wait it out in my room from childhood.
    I turn on TIVO and I work on my laptop and I write journal
    after journal after journal...song after song after song and
    finish writing almost 300 pages of my book.

    turn
    turn
    turn

    Alastair tells me his Buddhist friends would call it, "Karmic expiation."
    Good on me for getting rid of so much in one go they would say...

    somuchinonego
    somuchinonego
    somuchinonego

    **A time to gain, a time to lose
    A time to rend, a time to sew
    A time to love, a time to hate
    A time for peace, I swear it's not too late**

    turn
    turn
    turn
    Monday, June 27th, 2005
    9:10 pm
    monsters under the bed
    Do you ever wonder where the people carrying
    fresh flowers through city streets go?

    Who is on the receiving end?
    A girlfriend? A mom? Are they for a dinner
    party host later that night?

    Today I am that person.
    I walked through the San Francisco city streets
    with my bunch of flowers for my hosts, good friends
    Audrey and Ben.

    Tomorrow I head to my dads for his impromptu wedding
    to his girlfriend Cindy.

    In America, insurance is just impossible to get, unless A. You
    have a lot of money or B. You have a job that gives it to you.

    And if you are old without a lot of money and with more problems
    from not having insurance, god forbid you get any now.

    So my papa and his girlfriend will wed tomorrow.
    Later that night (since his coverage as Cindy's husband is now
    immediate) he will be admitted to the hospital for his
    congestive heart failure and $150,000 dollar surgery.

    Today I had lunch with my little sister Mallory.
    We ate at my favorite place in San Francisco, "The Crepevine"
    and I got what I consider still the best chicken salad in the world...
    (at least as much of the world as I have traveled) "The Bangkok."

    We laughed...had our usual spiritual, philosophical talks...
    no one gets it like we do.
    We talked about her pending year studying abroad in Florence, Italy...
    everything but what is killing me inside.
    I won't lie. I am being told left and right congestive heart failure doesn't
    mean the end of my papa's life...at least right now.

    The thing is...all my life...since I was little up to now, I have crept, crawled
    and snuck in to my parents room...leaned into their sleeping bodies...
    I have held mirrors to their mouths, touched their chests to see them rise and fall...
    anything and everything, as quietly as I could...to be sure they were still with me.

    So...although I am a "grown up" now...my biggest fear is and always has been losing
    my mama and papa.

    There is nothing in this world that scares me more.

    Whatever happens or is happening...because right now it could go in so many directions...
    I am not convinced this is little and doesn't mean some sort of end... a life?
    The denial that there is no end? An end of a time?

    This is one of those passages in life that slaps you hard in face saying, "time is passing..."

    My birthday is about two weeks away...as if that wasn’t enough of a reminder
    I am getting older...and those I love will...are too...

    I have made peace with my age.
    Peace when the wrinkles start coming...
    I will remind myself I have earned every one...

    Peace that every laugh line is hard earned - love earned...
    from time spent with friends and lovers, family and strangers
    and everyone in between.

    Peace with grey hair...and when I see my first one...
    I will let it be there...
    and watch the others come... and try not to cover it over with
    dark brown and caramel colors.

    Peace when my hips and my breasts are no
    longer recognizable as my own...
    I will love them the way I love my legs for moving me
    about and my mouth, no matter how crooked...
    the way it gives me freedom of speech.

    But my family... my papa dieing?
    I will never make peace with that.
    I will never understand why this can't go on forever
    and why I am being told things like this are little and easy...
    and people still live a long time... and why people are saying,
    "Come on Christene, buck up!"

    He is broken now and because of it, I see my childhood fears
    are still real... whether he goes now or much later...
    I am reminded he is going...

    There is no more denial. It will happen and this is just a reminder.
    One I was never prepared to get.

    A reminder that there are still monsters under the bed.
    Sunday, June 26th, 2005
    5:01 pm
    unfolding everyone else's but mine
    *written June 25th - LaGuardia Airport – New York*

    The girls are stuffed into their low-hip faded jeans.
    Their belts are thick with holes, sequins, designs
    and come in every color imaginable.
    They carry bright purses and have so many streaks in
    their hair I wonder what color is underneath it all.
    They are loud and scan the room as they talk about
    boys and clothes, their summer plans and the pending
    flight.
    When they catch me watching and listening, I am shot
    a snotty sneer.

    There is a little girl about 2 years old. She is running in
    circles around the gate. Stealing her baby sisters shoe
    and hitting the strangers in their seat...that moments before
    were like drones reading books, talking on cell phones and
    eating bad airport sandwhiches.
    Their spell is broken long enough to get a laugh or a grimace
    and in an instant, they are gone again.

    De-boarding the plane is a toddler. She has nothing on
    but a diaper, sandals and a pink too-too wrapped around
    her waist.
    She is the first to come off the plane and soon to follow is
    her out of breath young mother.
    The crowd bursts out in a big "Awww..." when they see her.

    The woman next to me wants to talk so bad I can hear her
    breath. If I cock and eye in her direction she knows...
    I hear a word in whisper almost come out...
    Then I cock it back and she understands and grows quiet again.

    I look the other direction and spot a woman walking a maltese dog.
    It looks like a show dog and acts like a pro.
    Back arched up, shiny fur combed to perfection
    and listening to every command her owner barks.
    I'm waiting for an announcement... "10 points for behavior, 10
    for lovely fur...and..."

    The pilots are late and rush to the airplane entrance.
    The agent actually lets out a sigh of both relief and disgust
    when he sees them and proceeds to announce, "Ladies and
    gentlemen, this flight will be delayed due to the pilots tardiness!"
    Did he just say that?!

    Flight attendants come after but the agent stays off the intercom
    this time. Maybe all the New York snares and sighs back shut
    him up.

    I sit waiting. Every few minutes, spraying my throat,
    downing a lozenger, guzzling water and blowing my nose...
    most people move away from me, including the dying to
    talk to me woman to my left.

    I'm not up for a space invade by strangers.
    I am enjoying the quiet in my head and letting the
    noise around me bounce away and become these words.

    Today I am unfolding everyone else's life but mine.
    Saturday, June 25th, 2005
    2:03 pm
    bears?
    Last night I dreamed I was being chased by bears.
    I roamed the streets of my hometown, calling out
    to little brother Tom (who I call "Bear") to
    help me. He was not up for the task.

    I threw apples and bananas and anything I could
    to keep him at bay, from attacking me...but
    nothing worked.
    In the end, I woke up hot and sweaty to a balmy
    70 degree Connecticut morning.

    I didn't sleep well last night.
    Could be the pending flight today, my dad...
    I dunno...
    I just know I gave up trying around 5:30am.
    I must have slept somewhere around then to at least 7:00am
    when I was roused from the bear chase.
    Just enough sleep to have a nightmare.

    Yesterday I was given news my dad has been
    diagnosed with congestive heart failure.
    Just when I thought I was in the clear, here comes life
    once again getting in my way.

    I write to you now from a shuttle hauling me to the
    New York Lagaurdia airport for my 5:40pm flight
    home to San Francisco.

    Still two weeks until my next tour in the UK...although I
    am missing another show next week as well as Italy
    before hand.
    But even with most of my voice officially (I think) back,
    it all seems so small compared to my papa's life.

    He tells me it's not so bad and will be in and out of
    the hospital. He tells my Aunt, his sister Joan...to keep
    me from freaking out.
    And finally... after nearly 5 weeks of song silence, I took
    my baby to the fire pit Uncle Bobby made outside, and began
    to freak out.
    Then...
    I did what I best when things go haywire...
    ...I wrote a song.

    It had been so long since I could sing, that my guitar became
    a nuisance to carry around... or worse yet... jealousy arose
    at every turn as I watched my friend Maria lovingly play the
    only thing I own in this world.

    We even had a photo shoot with her friend in Stockholm and as
    it turned out the best shot of Maria was the one with my guitar.
    Why did that make me so sad?

    The air conditioning from the shuttle van is smack dab on my knees
    But for fear of really driving the nail in... I won't speak up.
    We made it to the shuttle with two minutes to spare and nearby, a waiting
    and anxious driver. The van was full of passengers and the door open and
    inside hot from the now 80 degree humid East coast weather...waiting for uh, me.

    It's eerily quiet in here but for once I am not only content to keep
    the silence but know that even though my voice is somewhat returning,
    I know I shouldn't bite off too much.
    Dr. Kessler gave a big part of it back to me and I am too grateful to go anywhere
    near the world I just spent 5 weeks in.

    I calculated by today how many planes I have been on in only
    one week:

    • Copenhagen – Amsterdam
    • Amsterdam - Minneapolis
    • Minneapolis – Denver
    • Telluride – Denver
    • Denver – Cincinnati
    • Cincinnati – New York
    • New York – Denver
    • Denver – San Francisco

    Could the bear chasing me be a "plane" in disguise?
    I don't think they even serve apples and bananas on flight.
    Monday, June 20th, 2005
    6:51 pm
    start spreading the news....
    Hi everyone,

    Greetings from New York City.

    I just saw my throat doctor today.

    The VERY GOOD news is my voice is not gone forever!!!!

    The bad news is, I do have to stay on vocal rest another couple of weeks,
    take the (non-steriodal!) medication, sprays etc... and not fly as well.

    So alas...the tour I am supposed to be doing at this very moment...literally...
    in England has been canceled.

    I am staying here with my Aunt at least for a week, maybe two and will then
    resume my touring in England.

    It seems as if the infections I got in Sweden were never properly treated/medicated
    by the doctors there and spread to my tracheal tubes.
    So my doctor has me on the right antibiotics now and we're hoping that will lick
    all this yuckiness I have gone through the past almost 5 weeks.

    It's been really hard and well, I can see from reading my post the other night, I was
    pretty out of it. I will never take steriods again... which also means, there is no
    quick fix and this will take some natural time to heal.

    I'm sorry for letting you all down regarding Telluride. You have no idea. I am pretty
    sad about it. But alas, I am strong and will go back next year and win... !!!!

    I will also get past all of this and be on a flight back to England to do my July shows...
    including The Borderline July 11th which should be nothing short of amazing.

    Lots of love for the supportive emails coming and sooo much gratitude for you, for my voice
    I can't even express.

    xoxox from Greenwich village in NYC
    Christene
    Saturday, June 18th, 2005
    7:37 pm
    never taking it for granted again....
    There is no easy way to describe the past week.

    After recovering for over three weeks in Stockholm and coming close to my singing
    voice returning, I was about to embark on my journey to play the Telluride Bluegrass
    Festival in Colorado. A day or so before, I suddenly awoke with a strained voice
    and feeling awful.
    I felt horrible but had enough (not nearly close to my full voice) but enough of a
    voice to make the trek in and out of America.

    On Monday me and Maria left Stockholm via train to Copenhagen, Denmark.
    I wasn't feeling very good in Denmark the night before, it was getting worse
    but at that point, I could still sing...

    We weren't sure whether we should/could make the journey and thought hard about it.
    We both decided I needed to take the chance and opportunity while it was there.
    Maybe my voice would be 100% by Thursday. And if not, I had something left and that
    was enough.

    I didn't sleep much through the night and we were off by 7:30am for the airport.

    I've always flown to Europe via San Francisco/London and have never had to take
    connections so the Copenhagen-Amsterdam-Minneapolis and finally to Denver connections
    were exhausting to say the least.

    I wasn't feeling great but every hour or so would check with my "me may ma mo moo moo"
    singing exercise to see that I still had a voice.

    On the flight from Amsterdam to Minneapolis, I dozed off a bit and somewhere in between
    the middle of flight, I went to talk and ----! My voice was now GONE, not just strained
    and half but gone.

    So that is where it got weird and sad and from then until now...

    By the time we landed in Minneapolis, my voice was absolutely lost.
    It started to hit me that I had just flown thousands of miles and may not have my voice
    to sing.
    We'd been traveling all day at this point and to make matters worse, our last plane of the
    day to our destination, Denver, was deemed unsafe to fly and replaced...and by the time the
    new plane arrived and was ready to board, a thunder and lightening storm had arrived.

    After hours in the terminal being delayed, we were finally allowed to board.
    Unfortunately from there, we ended up sitting in the plane on a rainy runway in Minneapolis
    for two more hours.

    We arrived in Denver wrecked but mostly with high spirits.
    I drove the rental car after now 30+ hours of traveling and to put it mildly, with the cold
    and the jet lag, felt like I was driving drunk. Not a condition I will ever drive in again.

    The next day I called a special throat/vocal doctor in New York referred to me by a friend.
    I was fortunate he treated me from afar. He was quick on it and got me on medication
    immediately.
    The first being predisone, a steriod.

    I started them all right away, went on vocal rest and began the grueling task of drinking
    gallons of water and tea along with the other prescriptions and non-prescriptions my
    doctor prescribed.

    It was a whirlwind first day in Denver as one minute I was convinced I wouldn't be going to
    Telluride, that'd I'd wait it out in the hotel, the next, I would fight for my voice to the bitter
    end.

    And in the end, it's exactly what I did.

    That night, my friend Holly (also in the Festival) arrived.

    Holly and Maria became charade, mime and sign language pros pretty fast.

    We got some laughs out of it but mostly I was a mess, worrying if my gone voice would
    return in 2 days time.
    The steriods were already beginning the side effects... the biggest, water weight gain, moodiness and
    headaches.

    Not a good day indeed.

    The day we were to head to Telluride, Wednesday, I awoke with the same feeling. Go? Not go?
    Go? Not go? ..... I fought with myself for a long time and finally decided I had come to far not
    to at least show up and see if my voice would magically return.

    The drive was beautiful but difficult as I had to drink so much water and tea, we were pulling over
    less than every hour. It took about seven and a half hours.
    And...I have to say, Maria is a saint for putting up with a sad, crazed out mute driving higher and
    higher into the mountains...and closer to also, elevation sickness.

    We arrived exhausted and anxious for what was to come...

    The night before the competition, I had high hopes.
    Unfortunately, it didn't return.

    I showed up backstage anyway and told everyone what had been going on.

    I was cheered on by Maria, Holly, the other contestants and festival organizers to give it my best.

    I got convinced, even though I had about 10% of my voice.

    My very talented friend and also finalist, Keith Greeninger, offered to sing my chorus' for me.
    It was against the rules but they happily agreed.
    Keith in the end, said I sounded fine and should do it alone.

    I knew I was out of the race but felt like I'd be letting myself and my wonderful friends
    that had helped me to get there down.
    Vic? John? Are you reading this? Thank you for believing in me.

    So with the blessing of the other contestants, I went last.
    Normally a prime position but nothing was going to make my voice come back.

    It wasn't so good but I squeeked it out for the most part.
    I felt proud and brave for going on but totally defeated with my voice very gone and most of all, sad.

    The days to follow got progressively worse as they predisone steriod really kicked in.

    My sister is on the medication for her auto immune hepatitis. It's the drug that keeps her alive.
    My mom has been telling me about the side effects for a long time now, the biggest being
    very moody. I wasn't sure how much I believed it.
    Until now that is.

    Apparently, the minute the drug goes into your system, it begins and side effects are almost
    immediate.

    By Thursday night I was severely moody and couldn't fit in some of my pants. (trousers to those of
    you in the UK)

    By yesterday, I was full blown feeling emotionally hostile and crazy, with my eyes buggin' out of my head and
    couldn't sleep.
    My sweet friend Maria somehow managed to tiptoe around me as much as she could.

    I'm sad that I know she wasn't always able to do so as the predisone really took over my mind.

    By today, I am fully weighted with water, bright red in the face, borderline hostile and depressed
    and with a headache I can't shake.

    I am writing all this because if anyone of you reading this is a singer and considering taking the steriod
    predisone for your voice recovery, please weigh it out.

    After all that I have gone through, I still do not have my singing voice and my speaking voice is hoarse,
    strained, unclear and low. I am feeling more out of my body and mind than I have known. Honestly,
    the hope I put into the steriod bringing my voice back in time for Telluride is not worth what I am going
    through now and it hasn't even been a week on them.

    I'm also writing this in my journal to let everyone know there is a big chance I will be canceling all my
    summer tours.

    Right now, I am writing from Denver, Colorado where I flew today from Telluride.

    My flight with Maria back to Copenhagen left without me today. :(

    I am in an airport hotel preparing to fly out to New York tomorrow to visit with my doctor in person
    and see exactly what is happening to me and my voice.
    I have a flight booked out of New York back to England but depending on what the doctor sees and/or
    finds, I may not be on it.
    And honestly, I haven't had my singing voice in over 4 weeks now, whatever he sees or finds, I still
    don't anticipate it returning in time for my tour this coming week, possibly July... ?

    There is a good chance (at least I am hoping!) he will just tell me all of this is just the remnants of my
    Gotland island, Sweden illness in mid-May.
    Maybe he will put me on vocal rest for a week, or two weeks.
    Maybe three months...
    Maybe he will have some miracle cure that doesn't include steriods.
    Maybe the past month has been a bunch of bugs I picked up in Sweden. I really don't know but I know
    I haven't been well or the same physically since the first illness in May.

    Worse case scenario, something is really wrong with my voice...nodes?
    I'm not sure and I can't even bare to think about it really.
    But I have to be prepared for anything at this point.
    And well... with the state of my voice being unchanged for so long now, I am for seeing a long break
    ahead.

    I know many of you that read my journal, both personally and through the music business.
    You have all cheered me, hugged me, loved me, listened to me and become the gusto I use to move with.
    And for you I promise I am doing everything I can to get better and come back as soon as I can.

    with love and gratitude,
    Christene

    p.s Congratulations to my good friend Keith Greeninger on winning Telluride!
    Saturday, June 11th, 2005
    9:11 pm
    Light, birds, the internet and a basement room....
    It doesn't get dark in Sweden (and it's only May/June) until about
    1am...and it starts to lighten around 2-2:30am.
    As in...yes...looking like it's 8am by about 3-3:30am!

    It keeps me awake and messes with my head in more ways
    than I can even describe.

    When you are a nightowl and struggle to go to sleep early as it is, it
    only keeps you awake longer.

    The Swedish complain about the lack of sun...but as usual, I am
    a sun and heat phobic and relish in the moon and darkness as well
    as cold and dampness.

    So with that, I am getting friendly sneers from my wonderful friends
    about how I am not to complain about the sun and the light and the moon
    going to bed early in Sweden.

    The birds don't ever stop here and in fact, the other day, the nasty, big birds...
    the ones we chase away, flew into "my" basement room.

    We have the most lovely woodpecker that comes about 10 times a day...
    no kidding...to be hand-fed bread from the window....
    But lately the nasty, big birds have been ganging up on him and not only
    stealing the bread we give him...but we think, have chased away the woodpecker
    forever.

    So..not just because of their bad behavior...but in general...
    I am overall not in favor of birds chirping non-stop...
    Even with ear plugs, you can't help feeling like it's time to get up, cook
    the eggs, take a walk and see the kids off to school.
    Kids?

    * *

    In Scandinavia...I have noticed while having a conversation, they gasp.... like they
    are eating your words, literally...and as my sweet Danish friend, Nanne Emelie says,
    "breathing in everything you are saying..."

    It's something I am getting used to from both Denmark and Sweden and I have to say,
    am hoping to adopt. As an American who is used to being listened to so the other
    can "talk," I really appreciate the true ear.

    * *

    It's funny but this time of night, the only people awake in the house are me and Maria
    and Mikael's sons, Aron and Edwin.

    Aron and me compete for the internet every night as he needs to disconnect the wireless
    to play some sort of shoot em up game with the world... and Edwin, well...we compete..or at least I do...
    for his basement room downstairs that he doesn't always occupy.
    My favorite room of the house.
    It's private, a cool temperature with a cement floor, a small tv for bad American re-runs,
    next to the bathroom and enormous bath tub with jet streams and well... in my own traveling hillbilly way,
    I have made it my own.
    So alas, the only two things I own in this world, my laptop and my space, are to be
    fiercly fought over.

    Light, birds, the internet and a basement room....
    If that's all I have to worry about... I guess I am a lucky girl huh?

    However.... if anyone in the universe CAN here me... could you turn the light out, say... around 9 or 10?
    I'm tired.
    1:50 am
    not one word....
    Today was a day of gratitude and fear.

    I headed out...during a full on rain storm here in Stockholm, Sweden.
    My shoes were soaked through, my pants (trousers for your Brits thinking
    pants as in "underpants:) were wet above my knees.

    I carried above my head my trusty portable umbrella that has been with me
    for too many years now... and still, by the time I boarded the 401 bus to the
    Slussen train station, I was soaked head to toe.

    Headed for?
    The Acute care center just north of the T-Centralen underground.
    $1,000 swedish kroner later and I was told to go on vocal rest, see a
    specialist and take the steroids prescribed before I sing next week in
    Colorado. ... Yes, my singing voice has not returned. :(

    Can I say sad? Sadder than I have known for sometime.

    I have to say honestly that although I know what my voice can do...in my terms
    anyway...I suppose I never really understood what my voice could not do.

    So I am trying to reach my highs and even high'ers...and lows and everything
    in between and I am just stuck. The one thing I haven't felt since the very early
    days of singing. Very frustrating.

    So I am with a notebook and pen and supposed to be communicating in no other
    way....and every other word Mikael and Maria are saying, "Shut up Chris! No talking!"

    There is nothing harder and more challenging for me then being quiet. Whoa.
    I never realized how much silence scares me.

    So.. my goal for the next few days, literally...is to say NOT ONE WORD.
    Yes, not one. Hah!

    I think it's possible.... because if you can run three marathons, survive a bout with
    cancer and convince yourself living is good thing...you can definitely shut the hell
    up for a few days.

    On that note, here's to silence and all that it brings.
    Love, peace and quiet and health to everyone. xox
    Thursday, June 9th, 2005
    12:22 am
    diamonds....
    Buying wine in Sweden is like shopping for diamonds.

    A department like store... with bottles of all sorts, even boxes...under locked glass.

    You take a number...which is like 245...and they are still serving 178... and you hope you remember the names of the wine you saw under the glass because by the time you reach your number, people are streaming out the door, screaming by the door... and waiting on YOU!

    Very stressful. I'm leaving the buying wine thing up to Maria.

    Today I walked to town. It took over an hour...but again, I somehow managed to get lost. This time not in the woods but the jungle called the Stockholm city streets.
    I wouldn't have minded so much if I had thought to wear comfortable shoes. Yes...duh!

    Anyway, nothing a cappuccino and dolmas (rice wrapped in grape leaves) couldn't cure.

    When I returned, Maria's son and me Kevin, played a match of hockey on his portable floor hockey game. We are practicing for my re-match with his dad, Mikael Friday. (He kicked my butt the other day!)
    So I'm thinking with Kevin I actually got 5 points (the winner gets 10...which he did get) so I must be getting better. Then Mikael asks him if he played his best? "Noooo..." he tells him…

    Kevin doesn't speak English and I don't speak Swedish so I have resorted to games, tickling and candy to communicate. We do what we have to.

    It's getting busy this week. Thursday we're having friends from the retreat over, Friday is dinner at my friend Eva's with the same friends attending, Saturday is a party at Mikael and Maria's friends house... then Sunday we head to Copenhagen to prepare for our flight to Denver, Colorado the following day.

    Mikael has taken the little TV I have been hoarding upstairs with him. Yes... no more Cagney and Lacey, Moonlighting and Melrose Place with Swedish subtitles... damn!

    So tonight I am opting for a bit more email and work...then it's off to the bath... not just any bath but a big hot tub-sized bath with turbo jet-streams... to watch the very light sky through the night... with my strawberry face mask on, the tea light candles burning and Italian wine in a box flowing. Hey, it's popular here... when in Rome... wait I'm in Sweden. Oh well.
    Tuesday, June 7th, 2005
    2:40 am
    beautifully exhausted...
    Today I felt a surge of energy. I decided to use it on a hike through the woods and along the lake.
    Maria, my friend here in Sweden I am staying with lives on the top of a lovely hill. A walk away from the forest and water.

    I told her husband, Mikael I would be gone for just a little while, out running. Three hours later I returned dirty with soaking running shoes and worn out.

    I suppose the run...walk and ultimately over huge boulders, on-going forests and through raging waters...hike...turned into an adventure that had Mikael asking his son, "Is Christene back yet? Shall I call the police?"

    Oops...

    Lesson one: Stay on the path!
    Two: Don't try climbing cliffs for a "shortcut."
    Three: Never go on a three hour hike/run/walk in the Swedish woods without your mobile phone.

    At one point I didn't think I'd ever find my way home. Over every bend, every boulder, every patch of deep woods, I was sure...sure...I would see children running, families picnicking, lovers in corners hoping I would't come by.

    But every time I found myself in another maze of trees and streams, fallen branches and creatures I have never seen before.
    And every time I worried only that I wouldn't make it back in time for Maria's big show. Did I worry that I'd take a big spill off a cliff? Night would fall and I'd be really screwed?

    I made it back in time. I even had time for a long, hot shower and some emailing.
    Maria took the car so Mikael and I hopped on the bus to cheer her on.

    I had a little limp on the walk from the station to the venue but was just the right temperature from all the exercise, so everything evened out.

    Maria was brilliant of course.
    The beer was amazing. (from around the world)...and the best of all my talented and sweet friends from the songwriter retreat showed up.

    We hugged and chatted, had beers and traded stories until now. It's 1am and I am beautifully exhausted from a day well spent in Sweden.
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