Corrinne's Musings - A singer-songwriter's life.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

I write songs, I sing them... I play the piano and a little bit of the guitar.. I've released 5 albums of music, I love the scent of freshly fallen rain and the scent of lavender on bedsheets. I would drink tea all day long if the caffeine didn't keep me up at night. I hate driving in L.A traffic. I would love to one day catch the squirrel that steals the plums from my tree and make him a pet. I don't watch TV anymore. My 3 year old daughter is more entertaining than any TV show could ever be :)

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Never Say Never

When we first moved into our house here in Los Angeles,
we had a majestic plum tree that provided lots of shade
in the backyard, and yielded the sweetest plums we had
ever tasted. The squirrels would always carry away the
bulk of the year's plums, and we would scold them as they
scurried away with the plums.

Then one especially windy night, we heard a loud crash.
Hurrying out to the garden, we saw that one of the huge branches
of the plum tree had broken off and fallen onto the

The next day, we called up a tree specialist who told
us that the plum tree had been chewed into by termites
and that we would have to cut it down.

Heartbroken, we agreed and soon, all that was left
of the beautiful plum tree was a stump on the ground.

I regretted that I'd never kept any of the plum's seeds.

A couple of months later, I noticed some tiny branches
sprouting from the stump of the tree. Excited, I asked
the tree guy if this meant that the tree would grow again.

He replied that it was rare for a tree to resprout from its
stump, but that even if it were to grow into a tree,it would
never ever have fruit again.

We were so sad...

That was in 2001.

Fast forward a week ago. I looked out to the garden
and my gaze landed on the plum tree. Incredulously
there were some round red globes peppered on the branches.
Could it be?

I dashed out to the garden, and took a closer look.
They were plums! Small, but without a doubt, small plum
fruit. I broke one off to try it and even though it wasn't
fully ripe, it hinted of the sweetness to come.

Life, in all its tenacity and glory...
life, rejuvenated in the form of a blossoming plum tree.

Chicago - Northwestern University performance for 'Voice For Asia' (May 5th - May 8th 2007)

stuck in bumper to bumper traffic in chicago

John and I at the 24-hr Starbucks in Chicago's downtown.

A sculpture at the art museum.

close-up of sculpture

These spider babies were crawling all over the sculpture named 'There are other ways to die'. Ironically, a little while after this photo was taken, the owner of the museum vacuumed the spider babies away...

cheesy pic of my hand with the sculpture hand

Chicago - Northwestern University performance for 'Voice For Asia'

Day 1. (Saturday May 5th 2007)

Adrienne Woods, John Scott Evans and I flew from
LAX to O'Hare airport in Chicago on the 12 p.m United
flight and after the 3 and a half hour flight,
touched down in Chicago around 6 p.m

While on the plane, I had a pesto chicken sandwich
that I had bought from Wolfgang Pucks for lunch
and it was yummy. Downed it with a Chamomile tea
from Starbucks.

Once we got into Chicago, we headed for the car
rental place and got set up with a army green
Jeep Compass SUV. Thank goodness I brought
my GPS navigator with me. Don't know how we would
have found our way around Chicago without it.

We drove to Skokie, IL and checked into the
Hampton Inn and Suites there. Nice room with King-
sized bed. Good mattress. The brand with the cute
sheep. By this time we were starving and so headed
to Lou Malnati's for some deep dish pizza.

It's funny how all of us dislike pepperoni on our
pizza. Talk about the perfect dinner mates!
We ordered a 'Lou' pizza, which was a deep dish
all vegetable pizza. It took 20 minutes for it
to be cooked and served at the table, but it was
super yummy. John and I also ordered a bowl of
Minestrone soup each. Mmmmm....good.

After that we took a drive to Adrienne's friend
Isabella's apartment in Chicago so that Adrienne could borrow
her cello to play for the gig. Isabella's roommate was there
to pass the cello to Adrienne and she was in the middle
of painting her room pink. It was a cute apartment.
Can't believe she's only paying $400 in rent. What
a good deal.

We got back to the hotel at 11.45 p.m

Day 2 (Sunday May 6th 2007)

The emergency alarm went off right
as I was about to leave the hotel room
for morning mass at St. Joan of Arc.

The hotel alarm shrieked a pitch that
must have made cats squeal.
"This is an emergency. Please leave your room.
Do not use the elevators"
The message kept repeating like some mantra
trying to brainwash people into a state of panic.

In that moment, all I could think of was grabbing
my new Neumann microphone that I had brought for the
gig, and my journals in my bag. Part of me
thought that it was probably a false alarm,
but then I remembered that I was on the 7th floor
and probably couldn't jump out the window if
it truly was an emergency, and so I quickened my pace
and left for the staircase.

There were a lot of sleepy disheaveled people in the
lobby of the hotel. Some guys were still in their
boxers and some women still had curlers in their
hair. Toddlers had pacifiers stuck in their mouths
and looked too shocked to cry.

Thank goodness it turned out to be a false alarm.

I left for mass and after that was done, came back
to pick Adrienne and John up and we left for our
sound check at Northwestern.

By the time we got up on stage to perform, it was about 2.20 p.m
and the winds were blowing in from Lake Michigan.
We were at the Norris East Lawns under a canopy,
outdoors. It was a gorgeous day, and the campus
setting was beautiful, but all our fingers were
freezing from the cold wind.

Here's the song list from that day :

1. City of Angels

2. Little Superhero Girl

3. Shelter

4. Safe in a Crazy World

5. On The Side of Me

6. Journey

7. Angel in Disguise

8. Beautiful Seed

The northwestern students were very helpful and welcoming.
It was great to meet Cheng Xun and Eu Wen who came by
to check on us and help us get settled into the green room.

It was nice to see a bunch of Singapore students there too.
Some of them were there on scholarship and had a couple
more years to go. Some of them were on the verge of

It was also lovely to see Tim and John there who came
to lend their support and also to videotape and take
some photos of the event. Check out John Ng's
photographs here at this link :

After the event, I sent Adrienne and John back to
the airport, then met John and Tim for dinner.
We went to Joy-Yee and I had a big bowl of Lemongrass
Fried Chicken and Pork Chop over rice. It was such
a huge bowl of food. I could have had that over 3 meals.

That evening, I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Chicago
called House 5863. Very quaint, yet modern furnishings.
Nicely furnished room.

Day 3 (Monday, May 7th 2007)

Attended the 12.10 p.m mass at Holy Name Cathedral.
I was glad that there was free parking at the lot across
the street from the church, on Superior Street, although
it took me a while to find the carpark and I kept going
around in circles trying to look for it.

It felt good to see kneel before His presence in the
beautiful Tabernacle.

After mass, I walked to the nearby Whole Foods and had
a good lunch from the Hot Foods buffet bar. Then,
I headed to the Peets Coffee Shop in Sheffield. Had
to have my Peets Darjeeling Kalimpong tea :)

By this time, it was about 4 p.m, and I drove
to the Benedictine Monastery where I was going to stay
for the night. The monks at the monastery of the Holy
Cross run a bed and breakfast in Chicago.

I was met by Brother Ignatius at the door, and he
showed me to my quarters at the Bed and Breakfast.
After going past two heavy wooden doors, a big iron
gate and climbing up a spiral concrete staircase,
we got up into the loft area.

It was beautiful. Simply furnished, but perfect.
There were three bedrooms, one kitchennete,
one small dining room, a living room and a restroom.
"All this space for me?" I asked.

"Yes, you have the whole floor to yourself." he replied.
Pretty good for just $145 a night :)

After a quick change and wash-up, I joined
the monks in the church for their evening prayers,
their 'vespers'. There were 8 monks in the monastery
and it was lovely to hear them
chanting and singing the Gregorian chants for
their evening prayers. There is something, haunting
yet beautiful in music that is handed down, generation
after generation, since the 10th Century, sung with reverence,
notes like spirits soaring and diving, the resonance of pure
tenor voices rising in the reverberent echo of a church cathedral space.

I stayed on for mass and it was beautiful.

Chloe the Monastery Cat

I met Tim and John later for dinner at Uncommon Grounds
and stayed on to participate in the Open Mic.

I didn't have my keyboard or guitar with me in Chicago,
and so I borrowed a guitar from Chris, a fellow attendee
at the open mic.

It's been a while since I've participated in an open mic
and the familiar excitement of putting oneself out
on the line, vulnerable, in front of an audience
that has never heard you... I found much joy in that.

It was soon my turn to sing and I sang "Same Side of the Moon."
I was glad that the audience applauded loudly when I was done
and even more thrilled when they chose me as the open mic
winner for the evening :)
Tim recorded the performance on his camera and posted
a link up on YouTube :

Day 4 (Tuesday, May 8th 2007)

I heard the footsteps of the monks this morning as they
came into the loft to set breakfast up on the table downstairs.
It was 8.30 a.m and I finally dragged myself
out of bed at 9 a.m, walked downstairs and looked under
the aluminium foil of the plate on the breakfast table.

2 pieces of french toast, 3 sausages, a nice pile of scrambled
eggs and a good-sized portion of pineapple and cantaloupe,
a jar of orange juice and a jug of coffee. Mmmm.....

I had a little of it and packed the rest for an afternoon snack.
The monks cook pretty good breakfasts :)

I met Gene, Anita, Buddha, Tim and John for breakfast dimsum
after that at Lobster King in Chinatown. Gene ordered a spread!
Dish after dish kept coming at us. I was stuffed. It was all
good food too.

It was so nice to see them all again. The last time I had seen
them was in July 2006. We chatted and exchanged stories,
Anita asked me how long it took to recover from my procedure,
and I in turn asked how her daughters were doing.

I was especially moved when, as everyone was saying their goodbyes
at the end of the meal, Gene gave me a hug and told me he was
really glad that I was o.k, that my heart arrhythmia issues had been resolved.

They are such lovely people. Humble, kind, sweet.
I have high respect for those who, even though they are in a position of authority,
eg. Gene, who holds a key position with the Mayor of Chicago's office,
are still very grounded, humble and who go out of their way to make
sure everyone's needs are taken care of.

I'm also grateful for friends like Tim Brenmark and John Ng,
who take time out of their busy schedules, to make sure I'm
taken care of in their lovely city.

Altogether, a wonderful stay in Chicago.
Till the next time :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Update on recording for 'Beautiful Seed'

The Sunday after Easter, Kavin, Helik
and I were at Stagg Street Studios, tracking
Craig Macintyre on drums for the new record.

Here are some photos from that day.

On Monday, we tracked Eric Holden on bass
at Earthtones Studio for three songs 'On The Side of Me'
'Scars (Stronger for Life)' and 'Beautiful Seed'

Pics from the session :

Monday, May 14, 2007

Genghis Cohen show 20th April 2007

So I had my gig at Genghis Cohen on the 20th of April 2007
and it went well, thank God. My throat was starting
to tighten up halfway through the gig,
but thank goodness my voice held up in spite of my cold.

John Scott Evans accompanied me on guitar and he did good.
It felt so nice to play with him because he's a really
musical and sensitive player and adds just the right touch
of support.

It was so nice to see a bunch of people there, Dan Zimmerman,
Al Gomez with his two daughters Stephanie and Kimberly,
Rosie, Jose, Coco and her two kids, Erik, a couple of people
from Singapore were there too, including Min Zhi and her friend.
Another Singapore student, Rachel flew down from Seattle.
John Mark and his friends were there and he was thrilled
that I managed to sing "The Birthday Song" for his daughter
who was celebrating her birthday that evening.
Steve Siu came with his friend Carson and his girlfriend and Lucy
Yang was there too as was Grace and Olivia.
I was also really happy to meet Sara who drove from Redlands, CA
to be there that evening. She was there with her husband and
it was delightful to meet her in person. We had previously
only communicated via email and she and I had a similar experience
with having to undergo catheter ablation and it felt comforting
to know that she and I shared that experience.

Here's the list of songs that was sung that evening :

City of Angels
Green-Eyed Monster
Beautiful Seed
Slow Down
My Little Nephew
Five Loaves and Two Fishes
The Birthday Song
On The Side of Me

Some pics from the evening :

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Spaces in Togetherness

I attended the wedding celebration of my good friend
Zachary Provost this past Sunday.
The father and mother of the groom were invited to give a blessing
to the wedding couple and they read this passage from
poet Kahlil Gibran's work 'The Prophet'.
I was very moved by the wisdom of these words:

"You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when
the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other's cups but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous,
but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."

- 'The Prophet' by Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Getting Rewired, Being Pruned.

My good friend Clinton Jackson whose humour
I love, cracked a joke about how,
since the cardiologist was going to thread wires into my heart to fix it,
he should also just throw in some superhero powers as a bonus
while he was at it.

Well, I did not get the power of invisibility
or the power to fly, but in the process of
getting my heart physically rewired, I found that
my thoughts were undergoing a 'rewiring' of their own.

I found myself writing more than usual, thoughts
and reflections spilling from my pen, feelings
of gratefulness, sadness, joy, were surprisingly
more intense. I found myself reflecting more
upon spiritual matters.

It felt as if my heart had been rewired to tune
in more to thinking about God's hand in my life.
Rewired to get rid of clutter and just focus
on the essential.

Some friends and fans wrote to me to share
their own stories of medical challenges and
I realised that the feeling of re-prioritising
one's life and finding a deeper realisation of and thankfulness
for one's blessings was a common sentiment expressed.

Perhaps that's what being pruned is all about.

I remember feeling upset some time during Winter
a couple of years ago when the lusciously green rose
bushes in my garden were pruned by the gardener,leaving
the plants suddenly barren, with just basic, thorny stumps in the ground.

At that time, I could not understand why the gardener
had done what he did and I feared that the rose
bushes would never flower again the way they once did.

But when Spring finally arrived, it was
amazing to see how the stumps suddenly
started budding and before I knew it,
the rose bushes were blossoming with more
abundant blooms than ever. The amazing
thing was that where a branch had been cut off,
two more branches had grown in the same
spot, making the rosh bush even more green.

We all get pruned in some way or another.
Some of us are physically pruned, having to
undergo physical challenges, some emotionally
pruned, perhaps having to be pruned of something
we were emotionally dependent on, perhaps being
pruned of a bad habit and now having to grapple
with walking a different path.

Pruning can involve discomfort, even pain,
and as I see my toddler nephew having
to go through the discomfort and pain of teething,
I'm reminded that oftentimes, pain is part
of the process of growing.

A nun, Mother Angelica writes in her book "Mother
Angelica's Little Book of Life Lessons and
Everyday Spirituality" :

"As I look back, pain was always a preparation for me.
The Lord allowed pain before accomplishing anything He asked me to do. It made me more aware of my own weaknesses, my own faults, my own incompetence, my own lack of knowledge...
it made me appreciate the fact that God must do everything."

A little while after I read that, I was talking with
my good friend Ann and telling her how it seemed that
my most recent pieces of writing seemed to have more of
a spiritual bent and that I was a little apprehensive
about sharing spiritual reflections in my blog.

To which Ann simply replied : "You're budding."

Thank you Ann.

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