Keeping Time – Where Are Your Memories?

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I came across this quote today:

“Life is not the number of days you live, it’s the number of days you remember”  

I sat and thought about it for quite awhile. I have had quite a life. At 64 I think I can honestly say that I have aggressively filled it with lots of “things”. I never settled. I never let fear take hold. I lived where I wanted to live and I did the things I wanted to do. I dealt with adversity by attacking it head on. If I said I was going to do something I did, and if didn’t work out the way I hoped, it wasn’t for lack of trying, and I didn’t find excuses and justifications and made some other reason to blame.

Most of all, if someone thinks I shouldn’t do something and has nothing to add to the reasons why, than it doesn’t make me not want to do it. My motto – and I mean this – and I’ve told this to probably hundreds of people in the last 40 years:

~If you don’t like what I’m doing, don’t watch me do it~

I don’t care if someone doesn’t like what I do. My life is my life. Period. You shouldn’t try to make people change because it is something YOU wouldn’t do. I don’t do that to them. It’s okay to express your opinion, just don’t expect me to live life the way you would.

I learned many people don’t do what they want because  of fear.

1. Fear of the unknown

2. Fear of failure

3. Fear of what people will think (other people don’t think about you as often as you think they do)  

There are also people who begin something new, but have no follow through. I know a woman – a talented woman – who began many projects, from writing a book, quilting, began a business and did all the preliminary research, created stained glass, even began painting her hallway, and on and on. She quit almost every project after starting enthusiastically.

Unfinished projects. Why? Her answer was, “I’m going to get back to them someday, maybe.” She had such a wonderful creative mind, yet had no confidence in herself. I think the answer was – if she was the one who chose to stop, then it wasn’t because she had failed. She could always begin it again, but seldom did. It was her choice.  She also told me one day, “I wish nothing changed.  I wish I could stay in my house and nothing changed. I don’t want friends, because you have to maintain friendships. If I have no friends no one will expect anything of me.” (and I don’t have to be there for them, either?) 

I thought I could show her something different – that she had value. I encouraged her to believe in herself. The end result – she believed a lie someone told her (I won’t get into that) and wouldn’t talk to me about it. It gave her the excuse to kick me out of her life, ( for the second time, and the first time lasted 35 years)  and she no longer speaks to me anymore. It’s been about 4 years now, I can’t “remember” exactly when. I’ve tried to unsuccessfully squash it down. 

Some people want to disappear. I will have no more memories of her to think about and that makes me sad. I don’t know how she is doing. Some people won’t stand up for their own life. She didn’t want to have a life beyond what appeared in front of her without any effort on her part. If you choose to believe things without finding out the truth you are taking the path of least resistance. Sadly, I’m not the only person she did this to. 

At the end of her life what will she remember? And she is my sister. 

I know my style of living is not for everyone. But I realize life is short and I’m going to die at the end of it. I have wanted to fill it up with memories so when I’m decrepit I can relive my memories. My memories of her are mostly of our childhood. 

My successes, my failures, my friends – many of them are all over the world. They live in my tablet and I can visit with them whenever I want. Except for limited family and neighbors, how many people are good friends who care about you, and you see them face to face? The internet opened up the world. 

Right now I’m making plans to meet up with a young Russian man in his 20’s during a visit to America in June, when I take the train from Harrisburg to Miami on down to the Keys. I make this trek quite often and have met some very interesting people. A man traveling who makes a living betting on sports – older woman who traveled the states when she was young, picking fruits and vegetables and loved it!

My Russian friend and I have been writing and sending pictures since he was about 15 and needed advice on how to talk to a girl in school. He was also learning to play the guitar so we talked about learning music. Such fun. He was just learning English and now speaks it proficiently. He had a goal and is making his goal come true. No, I don’t equate his being Russian with the politics of Russia with the United States. 

I started this post today because I read a quote and it started me thinking about my own life. These were the thoughts that came to mind. What do you think? How do you live your life? What do you think about taking chances and doing something new? Let’s talk about it.

As an afterthought here is music I recorded about Time:

Music, videos  and photos found here at my website

Sign up to my mailing list at that website to hear about new music and videos. Many thanks to you!

 

You Can’t Do Just The Ordinary Things

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I posted this on my other blog mynameisjamie.net as well because my project is about Jamie’s life as much as it is about my music. They are connected. One wouldn’t be the same without the other. 

You better be damn sure whatever project you are working on that you are in it for the long haul or you will fail, or you will give up.

Prison was the long haul for Jamie.

Writing a good first book and learning how to do it was mine.

I dream about finding someone in “the business” who recognizes this and has the clout and connections to do something about it. There! I said it out loud! I put it into the universe. Positive or negative, we create our own personal universe we live in. I have to trust myself.

It has been a couple weeks since I last posted, hasn’t it? I’m a little behind because life has gone into mental high gear. It is my nature to bite off more than I can chew, and then have look to chew very quickly.

And it is not only the ordinary things that have to be done. We all have a life to live. For me it is medical issues that try to get in the way. Through it I have made tremendous progress in the writing of, “Inside the Forbidden Outside.” The music and the music videos I began making a year ago and starting a YouTube Channel, Sonni Quick Piano Improv, cultivating subscribers, added greatly to the busy hours of my day.

Hours spent promoting and marketing the chapters and the music every day pushed my workday (unpaid at this point) to 16 hours a day, usually 7 days a week. This is no exaggeration. Writing slowed down and blog post writing also decreased. But the project as a whole was coming together and moving forward. The response has been overwelming. It’s exciting. Every chapter done, every music recording finished and every video completed by my inexperienced hands has been a source of joy.  And it came with inspiring comments with the connections to people increasing everyday.

I reach people through my music, to touch them emotionally about Jamie’s story. The music is the emotion of the story. It reaches out through my fingers. It is my passion. It is that passion for grasping life in your hands ant not letting go that separates the winners from the losers.

When you truly love to do something you spend every hour of every day working on it in some capacity. No excuses are good enough if you don’t see it through. I think the idea of writing a book with music was a good idea. I have not heard of any other book who combined the story and music together. If you only had one or the other you would have only half of the story.

This story I’m writing, if you haven’t read any of the chapters I’ve posted at this blog is not just someone’s experience living with the brutality of the American prison system – the Prison Industrial Corporation. It is about love and hope – failure and determination above all else, to take back his life. He was going to be a father to the son he has rarely seen. He wanted to go to school and learn things. He was a good man who was never given a chance from the moment he was born,

because. . . . he was black.. . . he was poor.. . . and he came from a southern state known for racism – and he had epilepsy.

The odds were against him. He was part of a family with four children, a mother and no father, so they raised themselves with little adult supervision. Mom worked hard to provide for her family, so how could she be there to raise them? I know that dilemma well.

Will this book help people to better understand what being in prison is truly about, and will they understand the psychological damage from grief, caused by loss? Will they understand the constant struggle inside the mind, trying to keep itself together, when what it really wants is to kick the walls and scream?

Will readers understand that? Because I know from talking to people ‘out here’ that many people don’t. The sheer number of people who end up locked in a cell that shouldn’t be is absurdly high – and then there are those who still think only the guilty go to prison.

Not every human being should be characterized and judged for the rest of his life because she/he went to prison. It is not the sum total of that person. When Jamie gets out of prison his identity should not be tattooed across his face – EX FELON. That is what happens to so many, making it so hard to survive. Even the ones who have been exonerated after decades in prison because the were falsely imprisoned have to live with that tattoo just because they were in there.

This book is the story of a great many men and a rising number of women. They are considered to be expendable people in this country which deems White Christian Americans to be a cut above all others as if skin color alone is the key to being a better person, except.  . . a better person knows how false that is and laughs at the notion that skin is the number one prerequisite for being a quality human being. Skin color isn’t even on that list.

What could the criminal justice system do to arrest and incarcerate even more people? There is no separation between good and evil. Money decides your freedom. Lock up people for any reason, true or false, and when they can’t make bail, lock them up anyway, for years! This is what lies in store for low income, minority people in this country whose guilt lies in having the bad luck of not being born in a good white neighborhood.

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I am writing this book because all of this pissed me off. Royally! What a choice of words. So much inhumanity was happening to Jamie and I couldn’t do ANYTHING about it! I had all of this emotion running through me. I had to channel it into something positive.

“I’ll write a blog,” I said. I asked Jamie if it was okay.     “Sure,” he said, “but who would want to read about my life?” But I knew it was an important story because so many people had the same story. I realized before long I needed to write a book. Only I had never written a book (or a blog for that matter). I knew I could do it if I honestly tried.

I worked on it for 2 1/2 years. I learned a lot. I didn’t know enough about how to write a book. Writing a blog and writing a book are two different ways of writing. I took some online classes. I read and read about writing. I started over. I wrote and rewrote and continued learning. I think I am now about 60% done with the rewrite have many good tracks of music.

It is a good thing I did not try to publish the first draft because it gave me more time to be better prepared. You can find all the chapters on this blog, even the first draft chapters if you do a search on the blog using the title of the book. You can see the progress if you are interested in reading it. The first draft has too much information and not enough story. This draft is more about the story and info to support it.

That is it for now, but there is another blog post almost ready to be published – about Jamie ‘s story. A little catch up from the past and why he is where he is now. He can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but he can’t see exactly what it opens up to. 

Until then…

The Reason For My Music Videos

Not much needs to be said here because the video says it all. I hope you stay on my channel and watch those you haven’t seen, subscribe and tap the bell to get notified when there is a new one  Your support of what I’m doing will determine how successful I am when I’m ready to publish my book.  Notifications like this, and my mailing lists are the way I will be able to tell people it is  FINALLY READY. I have a ways to go. About 40% more chapter rewrite and new music. Then it will be ready to edit. As a first time author I need to know if I dotted all the eyes and crossed the t’s. It’s been a fun journey  Thank you! 

Crazy Dreams and Sleepless Nights -YouTube Music Video

This is my most recent music video to go with a chapter in my book  “Inside The Forbidden Outside”.  Life has gotten enormously busy and staying on top of things as my audience grows has been challenging  I have so much appreciation for the people who make the connection between the story and the music who have expressed an interest in the book when it’s done. Does any know how to invent more hours in a day, because there is something that always suffers because of a lack of time to get to it.  What this tells me is that I am onto something good or if be looking for ways to fill my time instead of the other way around

It’s been hard to post ad often as I’d like to, and my numbers suffer because of it. I don’t have the time to go to the many blogs I’ve found and enjoyed. Please forgive me for that. It isn’t because I don’t want to.

There is so much swirling around in my brain of things that needed to be taken care of to clear the space to write. I’ll get back here as often as I can. Please share this with your own social media. Go to my blog mynameisjamie.net and read the chapters I have posted to see how Jamie’s life inside the book is coping with the challenges of prison. At that blog you can subscribe to ITFO News and get the occasional update on the book, music, videos and any news of significance.

You can also go to my music Facebook page : Sonni Quick Piano Improv – like and share with your Facebook friends. I need all the help I can get to reach as many people as possible. 😁

Have a great year!

 

 

I love Myself

I love myself

I love myself

I think I’m grand

I go to the movies

and I hold my hand.

I put my arm

around my waist

and when I’m fresh

I slap my face!

 

A little ditty my mother taught me that my grandmother taught her .

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This was an early blog post 4 years ago. The writing on my other blog, My Name is Jamie, My Life in Prison, could get mentally overpowering so I started this blog where I could lighten up or write about other things

One day my mother sang this song. I should record it. It’s cute. I laughed and laughed because I could my short grandmother,  a flapper in the roaring 20’s, aging this song. Oh how she loved to dance. She met each of her 3 husbands on the dance floor.

So I thought I would share it again today. (smile)

  

Dance With The Devil, Dance

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DANCE WITH THE DEVIL
Lurking in back of my eyes
Tasting the smells, seeing the ghosts
No matter how often I tried
Which memories shame me the most
It reminds me of where I’ve been
And how many miles I’ve gone
I tied it up in a garbage bag
And kept on walking alone

Too late, it caught up beside me
And said “Hi, where have you been?” 
It’s time to pay the price dear
You can’t run away from sin
You made a cause, the effect is now
There’s no choice, you can’t get away
You chose to play, it’s time to pay
It’s your end game, take a bow

It’s the game of games, winner takes all
You can’t run away, you’ll stumble and fall
If you lose there is no second chance
Dance with devil, dance dance

There is no way to get around it
Finish the hand life dealt
No matter the depth of pain it caused
No matter the fear you felt
It’s time for you to pay the price
There’s no choice, you can’t change the rules
You’re rolling the dice for your life
You can’t play me like I’m the fool

Years have passed, would you do it again
Knowing who you’ve become
Knowing how the game ends
When you thought you were having fun
Was it worth the price you had to pay
Would you do it different today
Looking in the mirror
Seeing scars that never fade

It’s the game of games, winner takes all
You can’t run away, you’ll stumble and fall
If you lose there is no second chance
Dance with the devil, dance dance
Dance with the devil, dance dance

Sonni Quick © 2019

(This is lyrics for new music)

I Missed My Train…Now What Happens?

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Right now I’m sitting at the Amtrak station at Ft Lauderdale, FL. I love riding the train, up or down the coast every month. I should already be on the train, the 8:50 AM train heading up the coast, but my ride to the station got me here 5 minutes late and I watched the train pull away. I sighed.

I didn’t panic because I knew there was one more train today in three and a half hours. It’s also a longer ride by several hours, and a longer lay-over at Philadelphia 30th St station. (my favorite station on this route) I won’t get into Harrisburg until 10:05 Pm tomorrow night instead of shortly 12:45 PM.

I really wanted my morning a cup of coffee that I would have gotten at the Cafe car and there was no food or vending machine at this tiny station, unless I wanted to walk a few blocks. I didn’t want it that bad although the walk would have been beneficial. Oh well, I’ll live.

I decided instead to work on a chapter for my book I was in the middle of writing. Inside The Forbidden Outside, so I put the time to good use. My phone was dead so I plugged it into the ONLY electrical outlet in this quite huge room. Since everyone has a device that needs charging its a good thing I’m the only one sitting here. Mass transit and airports usually have charging availabilities.

A man walks in from the outside looking for an outlet. “Can I please charge my phone?” he asked, seeing my cord plugged into the only outlet. He had been at an establishment, I don’t remember where, and his wallet had been stolen. He called the police, not very confident of getting it back but it was all he could do. He had just gotten a phone call from the police. They caught the guy. He still had his wallet and everything was in it. He needed to come get it. . . then his phone battery died. He needed to call Uber, who already has a credit card on file, since his card was in his wallet. Of course I told him to unplug me. He made his call, thanked me and ran out the door. 

Next, a woman came in, waiting for Tri-rail, which services the communities in lower Florida. While she waited she really wanted to have a cup of coffee, but she didn’t want to drag her suitcase.

“I’m not going anywhere,” I told her. “I’m more than happy to watch your bag. I have two hours yet to wait.”

She was happy about that and pulled he bag over to me and set it beside me. As she headed to the door she turned and asked, “Can I get you anything?”

A smile lit up my face. “A cup of coffee?” I got out my wallet to give her a few dollars and she said, no, it was a fair trade for watching her bag.

I wasn’t going hold on to the money for that cup of coffee for very long. Soon after she left, a man came into the station, distraught. He also like he was in pretty bad shape. He paced the room and sat down down in the row of metal seats in front of me. (Very uncomfortable for long term sitting. Good thing I have a little pillow with me.)

“Can you help me, please,” he said. He was holding a single dollar bill in his hand along with a plastic card and a folded piece of paper.

I listened to his story. “I just got out of jail. I been there for sixty days. I was a trustee and they paid me a dollar a day to clean up in the medical ward. People’s pee and throw up and and everything else no one wanted to clean up.”

“They released me at 8:45 last night and they gave me this debit card and said my $60 was on it, but it won’t work. I called the number on it but the person said I’d have to call back. I just want to get home and I can’t.”

I asked him how much his Tri-rail ticket would cost.
$2.80. He was asking me for $1.80, about the price of a cup of coffee.

“You don’t know what is like in there,” he said real fast.

“People getting raped and stuck with knives. You don’t know what they made me do!” he said, looking like he was about to cry.

“I do know,” I said, and explained why I know and the book I’m writing. I also believed his story. He wasn’t trying to panhandle money just to get money. I don’t know why he was in jail and I didn’t care at this moment. Whether he was guilty or not of whatever he was charged wasn’t the issue, either. He needed help and I could help him. Someday I may need help, too. That is the Law of Cause and Effect.

“I had this public defender and he didn’t care one bit about what was happening to me,” he said like an afterthought.

I did know the issue inmates had about not actually being defended by those who legally were supposed to. Public defenders didn’t defend you. They worked for the district attorney. Even if they wanted to do their job there was no time to do it. There were too many cases to deal with as people were arrested, often to fill quotas. In and out. Fine then and make sure they have a date to return to court. Make it impossible for them to defend themselves. If they have enough fines they can’t pay, they can then be given prison time. Debtors prison. It’s a screwed up system.

The Tri-rail was slowly pulling into the station. I took out a five dollar bill and handed it to him. I could have given him two one dollar bills, but with the extra $3.20, when he got off the train he could get something eat.

There was a look of gratitude on his face as he turned toward the door. “You’re a good woman. A soldier for Christ,” he said and ran to his train.

I chuckled a little. I had no time to tell him I was a Buddhist. But there are concepts between Buddhism and Christianity that are pretty much the same. Christians say, “You reap what you sow.” Nichiren Buddhists call it “The law of Cause and Effect.”

Other people say, “What goes around comes around,” or “You get back what you dish out.” It’s all the same whether you do the right thing or the wrong thing. Our lives are the product of our actions and the causes we make.

There is a rhythm in life. We control that rhythm with our thoughts, words and actions. We can blame no one, even the supposed big man in the universe, for what happens in our lives. But it’s not just the big things that happen. If we look closely at the events in our daily life as it unfolds, we can see the way the pieces fit.

It will be interesting to see how this day plays out; why I missed my train and had to take the next one. There is a reason. Who will I meet? What did I avoid? How do I affect someone else’s life, because I will, in some way. How does it affect my husband’s life having to drive to Harrisburg at 10:00 pm instead of 12:45 pm? 

Life is so damn interesting if you slow down and pay attention to the details.