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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

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 :)


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