Excerpt #1 from Open for Lunch
I really stopped by Kentucky Fried Chicken to see Priscilla. Over the last couple years she had begun to recognize me when I ordered the same meal each time I stepped to the counter in south Asheville on occasional Wednesdays. Crispy fried chicken breast, coleslaw, biscuit, cookie and a drink. A total carbohydrate bomb. And all for $5.35.
To alleviate my guilt, I usually wrapped up the biscuit and cookie in the skimpy brown paper napkins I pulled from the plastic dispenser at the condiments table, and took the leftovers home for my husband, Gordon.
Neither of us usually ate this way but his eyebrows always popped up and his eyes opened wide when he saw the KFC treats on the kitchen counter.
Today, Priscilla was not there behind the counter.
. . .
OK. Be honest. How many trips do you make to KFC?
"Something" has led me to ask perfect strangers, especially persons who don't appear to be me like me, to have lunch with me when I'm out alone and grabbing a bite to eat. This "something" has driven me to seek lunch mates for over 12 years and continues to this day.
Just last week an invited diner, a man named *Andrew, and I found heart-felt connection over fried chicken and coleslaw at KFC. We ended up talking for three hours.
You may ask what that "something" is that drives me to turn to a stranger and say "Would you like to eat together?" Why do I do this? How do these impromptu meals turn out? The honest, amazing personal stories I have heard over a sub sandwich or a hamburger and fries have moved me, informed me about who I am and what drives my behavior. My risky outreach has filled my plate with a deeper love and understanding of humanity, and of myself.
OPEN FOR LUNCH, my second book, is nearing completion and weaves my collected lunch encounters with my own story into an unusual memoir.
Andrew, my new friend, has given me permission to tell his/our story in weekly excerpts starting in May so that you can get a taste of OPEN FOR LUNCH, due out from Pisgah Press in fall of 2018.
Hungry? Let's do lunch!
*Andrew is a pseudonym
My March, 2018 TEDx Talk at UNCA was an energizing and enervating experience all at once.
"Good Vibrations: Less Drugs, More Music" may surprise you since I share some personal info I have not mentioned before.
Let me know if you learned anything new. Or have anything to add.
Gordon stayed nearby during my TEDx Talk at UNCA Sat. 3/3/18. I am exhausted but exhilarated. Grateful to have this amazing platform to share my passion......."Good Vibrations: Less Drugs, More Music."
When my Talk is posted I'll publish a link
This Dakota Indian tune is titled "Lone Wild Bird" and alludes in its lyrics to the Great Spirit coming to rest in us. I played this tune for a patient out on his lofty deck looking out over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
As soon as the music began a large hawk flew near us, winging back and forth as if to give us a message. I believe my patient and I knew what the message was without saying it out loud. The hawk was comforting us with his freedom to fly high in the wind drafts, telling us that death was similar to flying in the heavens, the winds. There was no need to fear..
My patient died in peace just a week later.
I gave this tiny, delicate music box to my daughter, Carrie, a young ballerina at the time, since it plays music from "Swan Lake." I love the visible mechanism and the hand turning device creating nearly perfect pitches of the beautiful music. By the way, Carrie went on to become a professional ballerina! Perhaps the music box encouraged her........
What music do you recall from your childhood? Did you listen to it or perform it?
What is your favorite guitar playing style? Your favorite player?
An astute reader of Musical Morphine has informed me that an incorrect statement was made in my Introduction to the book. With her kind assistance I have revised information to replace this oversight. Music for Healing and Transition, (MHTP), the training organization for therapeutic musicians from which I received my credentials, is NOT the only organization of its type to offer board-standards certification. In fact, as of 2017 there are three accredited programs besides MHTP: International Harp Therapy Program, Clinical Musician Certification Course, and Bedside Harp.
It is imperative that all of these programs work together to support each other in the training for and delivery of live therapeutic music. I apologize for this error in my manuscript. Upcoming book presentations, subsequent printings,my March 3, 2018 TEDxTalk, as well as all social media expression will make every effort to correct this error.
I hope you are pickin' on a big juicy turkey next Thursday on Thanksgiving. Speaking of pickin,' my favorite style of playing guitar is finger picking.
I think my classical training led me to playing arpeggios, broken chords, so often heard in that style of music.
Do you listen to classical music? Can you hear folk music styles in it? I am thinking of folk tunes, dance tunes, hymns, gospels, I often hear embedded in its rich orchestral arrangements.
The bowed psaltery creates a high, haunting sound. I was surprised that one of my Hospice patients requested I play it for him over a long afternoon session. Often the psaltery's timbre is too neurologically stimulating for very ill or anxious patients. It can be too much for well persons!
How did today's audio clip of my bowed psaltery affect you?
Master Prose class begins Aug. 29th.
I am dictating the handwritten first draft of Chapter Eleven, entitled "Helmer," of my book-in-progress into the iMac. I would like to have sixty pages of OPEN FOR LUNCH ready for the start of class since every four weeks I need twenty pages of fresh manuscript for oral and written critique by my classmates and professor.
I have come to love the critique process. Usually a full hour! So helpful!
Did you or your kids get these plastic recorders for school music class? I can recall hearing the entire assembly of children, including our kids, tooting away playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on their recorders. They were thrilled.
If you look carefully, you will see our youngest child's name written on the side of this instrument, which has been lying in one of my instrument collection drawers since he was in fifth grade, a mere 26 years ago. I played a little of Dvorak's "New World Symphony, Largo" on his recorder during this audio take.
Do your kids. grandkids, even you own one of these school recorders?
Maybe you have heard or seen one of these. My late Aunt Nan sent me this Door Harp when we moved into our last house in Northern Virginia. Notice she had Dogwood blossoms painted on it--the State Flower of Virginia. Since our new home is in North Carolina I was delighted to learn that NC shares that state flower with VA.
I tune this instrument to a chord using my regular goose neck tuner. Great way to welcome guests with music!
Do you own a Door Harp? If not, have you seen one?
Pardon the out-of-tune strings but this Harp Zither or Guitar Zither, as it was coined in Germany, is well over one hundred years old and I was very careful not to push tuning since these are original strings you are hearing me play.
Sears began making this instrument in 1902, calling it a Zither #2. My great-grandmother Nora Thayer Duncan ordered one from the Sears catalogue and played it for her family as an accompaniment for hymn singing, usually on Sunday evenings.
My Grandma Char, her youngest daughter, granted my wish to inherit this treasure, recalling her mother playing it.
On her hundredth birthday ....... I surprised her by playing several of those old hymns on the Zither. There weren't too many dry eyes after that special music.
Do you see the shape of another more common instrument in the Zither? Ideas?
Starting July 6th, I am bringing you recorded music along with a photo and a story every other week about some really interesting instruments I have in my collection. I use certain of them for therapeutic music and will explain why they are effective.
For starters, I'll begin with my family's 115 year old Zither #2, as it is labeled. However, that is really NOT its name according to research I uncovered. Learn more. And of course, listen, too.
If you believe that there is value in reaching out to strangers, what might your gift be for doing so?
Most tell me that I can do this because I'm me. Probably so.
But you're you........what can you do? A smile? Eye contact? Pay it forward? Listen? It only takes seconds to reach out.
• • •
What ideas do you have about engaging in this kind of behavior with a stranger?
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Award Finalist in the "Health: Alternative Medicine" category of the 2017 Best Book Awards