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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Words and Guitar

I got to see Sleater-Kinney in New York this past Thursday and Friday, and although my calves and shins are still protesting, they were both terrific shows!


Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss, and Corin Tucker: Sleater-Kinney!

Corin, Carrie, and Janet put out a lot of energy rockin' Terminal 5 (not NYC's best venue, but I really don't understand all the hate people have for it), and the new material holds its own against the old. Personally, I was thrilled to get to hear them do "Good Things" and "Little Babies" and "One Beat" again, but I was just as excited about "Bury Our Friends" and "Price Tag." I was even inspired to pogo to a few songs the second night, in spite of myself; the crowds on both nights were pumped up and movin' around regardless of how tightly packed we were. In fact, I conceived a new song (and hopefully nothing else) Friday night, to be called "Inadvertently Intimate." Yes, that tightly packed.

I still have a few other ideas to write up, such as a more electronic-sounding tune I'm going to call "O Povo na Rua" ("The People in the Streets"), but this morning I found myself suddenly wanting- no, needing to work on a song I wrote nine years ago. I always had a rough idea in my head of how "I'll Live" would sound. The lyrics were inspired by the Who's John Entwistle and the dark humor behind some of his songs, like "My Wife" and "I Feel Better." Somehow, though, I never got around to recording anything for it, not even a demo... but today while the snow came down again, I got about half the song done, and using an alternate guitar tuning (DAFCGD, a whole step down) on my old Strat knockoff for the first time. I'm liking the way the song is turning out. Maybe you will, too.

I really can't wait for this winter to be over. I'm trying not to let the weather and my fluctuating moods keep me locked up indoors for too long, however. Next weekend, I'll be checking out Tania Stavreva in another piano performance. The weekend after that, Greta's Unmentionables will finally get our asses back in the studio to rock out "The Bite." The weekend after that will find me taking in Stephanie's final concert with the Dessoff Choirs, and a few days later I'll be at Rockwood Music Hall to witness a 75% Serious Pilgrim reunion! I'm also going to see "Nevermore - The Imaginary Life and Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe" off Broadway with Laryssa, and I'm planning on catching up with High Teen Boogie in Williamsburg, too. I'm still working on the Gallery... of Death! as well, and recently added 2002 to the mix, and of course there are a lot of S-K pics in the 2015 gallery now. And then there's all that running...

Busy March, now that I think about it. It's better that way, though. Hopefully, I'll be too occupied to pay too much attention to the weather, and it'll start to warm up before I notice. Of course, I do have a trip to warmer climes scheduled for next month... Woo-hoo!

And now, back to words and guitar...


Monday, February 2, 2015

Pensamente

What a nasty Groundhog Day it's been here in the Northeast, but then it is winter. The winter of my discontent... or is that "The Discontent of My Winter?"

January was harder than even I had expected. My sweet tortie, the pretty kitty Preeti, succumbed to illness early in the month, and then my Uncle Danny passed away early on the 22nd. Death and winter and discontent aside, however, I'm feeling a little more stable lately, even if I have had dreams on three consecutive nights involving two ex-girlfriends. Odd dreams, neither happy nor sad, really. Some would no doubt read plenty into them; I think maybe I've just been dredging up memories by spending a lot of time going through so many old photos and updating the Gallery... of Death! It's slow-going, not least because of the nostalgia. So far, I've got everything as far back as 2003 posted and captioned, and I'm working on 2002 now.

Staying away (mostly) from social media has been good for me, I think. It's given me more time and more focus. Clearly, you lot don't miss me, and that's fine. I've run at least a mile every day in January, and last night I beat my best time running five kilometers on the treadmill (27m47s, which is no medal winner but is a sign of improvement). I've picked up the guitar again, and I'm determined to finish recording my second album this year. While I'd long intended to call it Tougher Than Flannel, and even worked that phrase into the lyrics of "Drabbard," I've recently decided to go with I Can't Possibly Give More Than I Can Give instead. It's partly a rebuke to those who insist that we should "give 110%," but mostly an acknowledgment that I've felt emotionally spent for longer than I'd care to acknowledge.

I am planning on getting together with some friends (and hopefully some family) this spring, in a warmer place than New Jersey. Definitely looking forward to that. I'm also excited about seeing Sleater-Kinney later this month. The new album, No Cities To Love, is pretty damned great, and it'll be awesome to hear "Bury Our Friends" live, as well as the older stuff I've loved since getting into the band in 2003.

There's more I could say, about Charlie Hebdo and the "Islamic" "State" and Ukraine and 'Net neutrality and Israel and Palestine and... but you're probably not really listening anyway, are you? And that's fine, too. Most likely, you go your way, and I'll go mine.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Goodbye

I think this is goodbye. No, not that goodbye... I'm just going to stay away from social media for a serious while. Facebook and Twitter and Google+ (and, to a lesser extent, Diaspora and Ello and LinkedIn and MySpace and Sina Weibo and MyOuterSpace and WeChat) suck up too much of my time while giving little in return. I'm not going to close or deactivate any of my accounts, or unfriend/unfollow/uncircle anyone (except for those who really don't interact with me at all), but I'm not going to actively spend time on social media after today, either. If you say something to me specifically there, I'll probably respond, but that's about it.

I only ever started using social media (back in the days of MySpace and Loopt and Brightkite) with the intention of promoting my music. That's worked out OK, at best. While I've made it to ReverbNation's top 40 local artists in Lyndhurst, NJ and managed to stay there over the past week or so, and I thank everyone who's listened and helped me get there, it's obvious to me that most people aren't really paying much attention to my music. I've got several Facebook friends and Twitter followers who are "Doctor Who" fans, yet no one's said anything about the line in one of my songs that's taken almost verbatim from one of the more powerful episodes of the past four years. (No, I'm not going to tell you which line and which song; if you're honestly interested, listen and find it.) I'm linked to hundreds of people on the different networks listed above, and have been shamelessly plugging my ReverbNation page and my "Everything's Different Now" music video, and if all of those people listened or watched once, my stats would be higher... so clearly not all of them have.

Not that I'm bitter, or upset, that they haven't. My music isn't to everyone's taste, and people are busy, and some people don't spend much time on social media to begin with... I get it. I can't expect everyone I know to support me or care, and I'm certainly not hoping to make a living at it. I can't keep pushing either, though, and I can't be too supportive anymore of those who can't spare me a click or two once in a while. There are, frankly, also too many people on the various networks who seem to post mainly for affirmation, to get people to like their selfies or favorite their tweets, so they can feel better about themselves. If you don't actually have something original to say, pardon me for not listening any longer. I won't even address the spelling, grammar, and punctuation mistakes... ;-)

So, yeah, the daily posts on social media shall hereby cease, at least for several weeks. I'll still write the occasional 'blog post here, though most of you don't seem to read those either. Heh. And my photographs will continue to be added to the Gallery... of Death! even though I won't be posting any more to Facebook, Twitter, and G+ for now. There were always many, many more pics in the Gallery anyway, and I should be getting some more of the older ones up this weekend, too. I'm still going to write and record my own music (I was never doing it for you anyway, but for me; it's nice when someone acknowledges my tunes occasionally, however); I'm hoping to get at least one new song done this weekend, in fact, and a new album, whether it's called Tougher Than Flannel or something else, should be released in 2015. I'm still working with Greta's Unmentionables, too, and I think we're just about ready to get "The Bite" behind us and start putting together a new song.

I'm still not particularly happy, and maybe that is a good thing for my music. Depression washes over me, then washes away, then comes back. While there were negative events in 2014 (my dad taking seriously ill back in January, my beloved chinchilla Meggy passing away just days after Valentine's, downed airliners, conflicts in the Ukraine and Syria and Palestine, Ebola, my kitty Preeti getting sick toward the end of the year), there were positive ones, too (my dad bouncing back, my doing three mud runs and a 5K and the No Pants Subway Ride and Pillow Fight Day, acknowledgment and exposure of wrongdoing by both the CIA and civil police departments, my trip to London, the refreshing humility and humanity of Pope Francis, détente with Cuba, seeing Monty Python and Tori Amos and Nine Inch Nails and Paolo Nutini and the Offspring and Goli and Xenia Sky and Tania Stavreva and Tessa Makes Love and Bob freakin' Dylan live). I met several people in real life I'd previously only interacted with via social media, and that was pretty cool. I hit all five boroughs of New York City in a single day. While some days are better than others, my microcosm and my macrocosm are mostly balanced.

Mostly. This was a hard Christmas season to get through, possibly the hardest I've ever had. Odd, considering the big break-up happened in the summer of 2013. Though I was (and am always) aware that I have family and close friends who love me, it was extremely difficult to shake the feeling that I was very much alone. It was nice to get a pile of Christmas cards, however, and a few goodies, too, so thank you for all of that. (My cousin, Helen, maybe the coolest cousin in the world, used a Batman stamp on the envelope! lol)




I haven't been running since, well, probably October, and I've found myself eating more as the holiday season brought me more and more stress; as a result, I've put on about eight pounds over the past eight weeks or so. Not a big deal by most people's standards, I know, and I'm hardly overweight, but I can feel the difference in my body, and I'm not really likin' it. I'm not carving any resolutions into stone this January 1st, but I am going to start eating better again, and running again. Right now, I don't intend to do any of the mud runs this year, but that could change. I just can't really focus on it at the moment. I do intend to do at least one 5K, with the goal of improving my time from the last one (28:45, or approximately a mile every 9m15s). I want to continue putting time and energy into playing guitar and making music. I've decided to stop wearing the claddagh ring, effective today. It's not any kind of backlash against Laura (with whom I haven't really spoken in a few months, but I suspect that maybe we just don't have anything else to say to each other, at least right now), and the ring itself still has sentimental value to me. I'm still wearing the silver chain and "Imagine" guitar pick my ex-fiancée gave me. The claddagh has a different connotation, though, and I don't want it reminding me of ties that are no longer there any more than I want it to mistakenly send the message that I'm involved with someone. Not that I expect women to flock to me now that I've taken it off...

I am hopeful for better things in this upcoming year, though, and coming up in less than two months, I'll be seeing Sleater-Kinney, not once but twice. I'm really psyched that they're back together, at least for the moment, and I'm looking forward to both the new album and the experience of seeing the same band two nights in a row (a first for me). It's been about twelve years since I first heard them and saw them live, and I still love their music. It probably doesn't hurt that Corin Tucker is a Danelectro fan, too. Preeti's health seems to be making slow improvement, though she's still not eating the way I'd like. I think I've gotten paranoid and overprotective after the sudden loss of Meguilla Chinchilla last year. I do know that Preeti's still got enough energy (and tortitiude) to do some real damage to my hands as I attempt to get her antibiotics down her throat!

All right, that's many more words about me than I tend to write. Maybe I'm just giving you plenty to read and think about while the weeks go by without any Facebook status updates or tweets. Heh-heh. I still have a little more to say, though, starting with the first post I did make on social media this year, at midnight: May we all learn to better live with each other, and ourselves, in 2015.

Too many people see everything as black or white. Being against police brutality, against people looting, and against violence against the police are not mutually exclusive positions. You can stand with the protestors who don't want to see another person wrongfully killed and still believe that most police officers are doing a great job, the best job they can. You can despise terrorists and their brutal actions and still demand that our government operatives treat them in accordance with international conventions - not with kid gloves, but with the humanity they'd deny their victims.

I understand the outrage caused by an unnecessary killing, whether it's a cop, or an innocent civilian, or even a not-so-innocent but unarmed suspect. What I don't understand is the polarization, the mentality that "if you don't stand with us and support us, you're wrong or you're stupid or you're laughable or you're evil." Life isn't that simple, even if some people are. Yes, I think Darren Wilson and Daniel Pantaleo should have been indicted (though I have no opinion on whether or not they should've been convicted of anything; that would've been for the courts to determine), but no, I don't harbor resentment of, or hatred for, the police. Police officers are human like the rest of us, but get put into volatile, dangerous, high-stress situations, and sometimes get scared and sometimes overreact and sometimes make mistakes. We would do well to remember that, but they would do well to acknowledge it and apologize when mistakes are made.

We would also all do well to remember that peaceful protest is a right in this country and has led to many injustices being corrected. You don't have to agree with every cause being protested for (or against), but if we start deciding which ones are legitimate and which ones are not, we risk becoming one of those many countries that keep their citizens on short leashes. And yes, I know there are libertarians out there who will argue that we're already one of those countries, and they've got some compelling things to say, but I'm not going to drag this 'blog post out that long. Let me just summarize the last few paragraphs by saying, we shouldn't boil every issue down to "us vs. them" and "we're right and they're wrong," negating any chance of real discussion and understanding and compromise. And if your reaction to that statement is, "Well, they're the ones who won't compromise," then you're likely part of the problem. There are extremists on each side of any given argument, who may not be reasoned with, but there are also more sensible people who may.

There's too much rage in the world today. Even when it's justified, it's not healthy, and it's more likely to make things worse than better. We as individuals and as a society need to take the occasional breath and the occasional step back, to make the effort to try to understand each other, and ourselves, better, and acknowledge that the vast majority of the human race just wants to live and prosper in good health and in peace. Let's not let the few rabid bad apples convince us otherwise. May we all learn to better live with each other, and ourselves, in 2015.

I'm done. I'd like to think that more than a handful of people will have read this, but... whatever. I needed to get it off my chest either way. If you've got anything to say about any of it, there's an empty Comments section below. There are other ways of communicating with me, too. Feel free to partake of them, and I wish you all the best for the New Year.



Monday, December 1, 2014

The Discontent of My Winter

First things first: I've got new songs, and my first-ever music video! No, I don't expect "Everything's Different Now" could ever win an award (or rotation on the old MTV, the one that used to actually play videos), but I'm pretty pleased with it nonetheless and I had fun making it.




I wrote and recorded "Everything's Different Now" last month, and thought about trying to make a video for it... and then I did it, with a budget of about twenty bucks. Heh. I also realized after the fact that another song I'd written, "The Discontent of My Winter," has the same chord structure, so I recorded that one, too. When I get them on an album together, I'm going to have them as a medley, the slow, moody song into the faster, angsty one. 'Til then, you can listen to them in the ReverbNation widget to the right, or from the sidebar on AndersenSilva.com... or several other places. I'd really appreciate you checking out and sharing the video and the songs. :-)

Clearly, I will not be putting out Tougher Than Flannel (or any other album) before 2014 comes to a close, but I think I'll have enough material recorded over the next several months to release something. It might not actually have that title, but I'm itching to get a new album done. We'll see. I've also been working with my Greta's Unmentionables cohorts, and we're pretty happy with the way "The Bite" is turning out. Gotta start writing a new song...


Andy, Anthony, Mike, and Jon: don't mention it

The writing thing hasn't been as productive as the music thing, though. I had high hopes for NaNoWriMo this year, and the 7,000+ words I did manage to put down are more than the previous two years' attempts put together, but it was nowhere near enough. I like what I have written of Forged in Fire, and I would like to spend more time making this novel happen, but I'm not going to make any commitments just yet.

Depression is trying to pull me under again lately, though it's been mostly unsuccessful ("The Discontent of My Winter" notwithstanding). My lovely tortoiseshell cat, Preeti, went through a spell for several days where she just wasn't eating, and it really rattled me, especially after I lost Meggy, the chinchilla, back in February. I bundled Preeti up and took her to the vet, but Dr. Sass (I just have to like any woman called Dr. Sass) couldn't find any reason for it. An antibiotic and a steroid and two days later, though, Preeti seemed to decide that food was again a good thing. She's doing much better, but I'm still feeling a little overprotective.

A few Fridays ago, I was at Mexicali Live enjoying some shrimp and hard cider and good music, and something (or some combination of things, or nothing at all, I don't really know) suddenly turned my mood dark. I'd just seen Xenia Sky perform and gone up briefly to the merch table to say hi, but back at my seat, I inexplicably felt so alone, even with dozens of people in the space and half a dozen within a ten-foot radius.

Just as suddenly, I was cheered up again a little while later by Xenia herself coming over to me and chatting. Sure, she's a lovely young woman and a talented singer/songwriter to boot, but it was the human connection that touched me and made me feel, well, human again. It was nice to talk music with a fellow musician who shares some of my varied musical tastes, too, and my opinions on people who talk over live music (pro tip: don't bother going to a venue with live music if you're planning on having loud, lengthy conversations with others).


I even got a selfie with my fellow singer/songwriter

After Anna Nalick's headlining set, Xenia and I talked a bit more (both greatly impressed with Anna's voice) and hugged before I left. Never underestimate how much quiet, warm joy a simple hug can impart. The drive home took me through Teaneck and Ridgefield Park and North Arlington, towns with various nostalgic pulls on my soul, but I was doing OK when I got home.

I've also seen Paolo Nutini, Lydia Loveless, Amaranthe, Within Temptation, Tessa Makes Love, Rivky, Goli, and Bob Dylan since my last post, and been to talks featuring John Cleese and John Hodgman (about the former's new memoir) and Nadya and Masha of Pussy Riot (about governments stifling dissent and activism; oh, and yes, I included a few seconds of video of the girls laughing in the "Everything's Different Now" video). I'm hoping to see Tania Stavreva perform this week, and Xenia again later this month; I've got tickets to see Sleater-Kinney at Terminal 5 in February (two nights in a row!) and to see three-quarters of Serious Pilgrim reunite at Rockwood Music Hall in March (two shows in one night!). So, yeah, I'm still keepin' busy. If I'm going to be lonely, might as well be lonely around other people...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

SeptSomber

Today is the International Day of Peace. Of course, conflicts are raging (or threatening to) in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Gaza, Ukraine, the South China Sea, and other parts of the world, and the United Nations, who designated the day, is fairly powerless to do much about it...

It's also the last day of summer in the Northern Hemisphere... and, additionally, the date on which Laura and I were supposed to have been married last year (which is just a few days after the date on which we first started dating). Yes, I can't help but remember things like that. A year ago today, instead of going to the Zeppelin Hall Biergarten for what we'd planned to be a fun and casual ceremony and reception, I found myself traveling alone, first to the New York Renaissance Faire, where my BulletHole Heart T-shirt made a little green fairy sad, and then to Lovers Leap State Park in Connecticut, where I had one long, hard think about dying as I gazed down at the Housatonic River from the cliff.


The leap

A year later, I'm more balanced, and... well, I wouldn't say I'm happier, exactly, but I suppose it'd be fair to say that I'm a bit less unhappy. Laura and I are on friendly terms again, and even got together for a fun day in New York City last month. Still, September's hard for me now, between those two anniversaries and my birthday. I never viewed September 29th with any trepidation, and age is still just a number to me, but I'd let myself get used to the idea of having someone to spend that day with from now on...

So I channeled some of my angst and ennui into finishing the lyrics to "The Discontent of My Winter" and writing the music and lyrics to "SeptSomber." I recorded a short demo of the latter a week ago:


and I finished recording the actual song with my Kona acoustic/electric... today. How's that for keeping busy? I've started working out the music to "Discontent" as well, and hopefully will get that song and another done before winter truly arrives. Of course, I'm keeping busy in other ways, too. My new iPhone 6 arrived on Friday, and since it'll be at least a few months before I get my hands on an Apple Watch, I decided to get a Jawbone UP24 band and start monitoring my activity again. In just under two weeks, I'll be running my first "normal" (non-obstacle) 5K in Bay Head; gotta hit the treadmill again later this evening... I went back to the Renaissance Faire two weeks ago; while the plan had been to get a group of people out there together, all but one of my friends (Barbara) ended up not making it. (Well, Judie, too, but she was going to be there regardless. ;) We had fun anyway, and I even got a picture with Judie and the Vixens En Garde.

Judie, Atalanta, Athena, me, and Calypso

Thanks to a friend who ordered concert tickets, then found out that she wasn't going to be able to go after all, I'll be seeing Paolo Nutini at the Apollo Theater on Tuesday night (still trying to find a likely lass to accompany me there), and Lydia Loveless and Xenia Sky at Webster Hall a week from tonight, hours before my birthday. October brings Within Temptation (a band Laura turned me on to) at Terminal 5, while I'll catch my first Bob Dylan concert at the NJPAC in November. With any luck, I'll manage to see my musician friends Mart Rivas and Goli in New York soonish, too. And, considering everything else I've accomplished this year, I'm going to take a real stab at NaNoWriMo again in November. If I focus, I can do it.

So, yeah, my life's not quite what I'd thought it would be, and I'm not quite the same person I was a year and a half ago, but I feel like I would like me if I met me. The struggle goes on.



Wednesday, August 6, 2014

New Jersey Transit

I'm makin' with the words again...

My displeasure with New Jersey Transit has grown steadily since Hurricane Sandy in 2012 slammed the region and the transportation agency. I can understand being overwhelmed by a superstorm. I can't understand not learning from the experience, not communicating quickly and accurately with one's paying customers, not showing concern about regular delays of 30 minutes or more, not expressing an interest in improving.

Communities of like-minded NJT riders have sprung up on Twitter and Facebook over the past few months, and in the course of some conversations, some of the others and I have begun seriously considering organizing a one-day boycott. The idea is simple: for that one weekday, don't ride any New Jersey Transit vehicle (bus, train, or light-rail) to work or school or anyplace else. Take the day off if you can afford to, or drive if you can, or get a ride with someone else, or ride a different carrier (DeCamp, Coach USA, Amtrak, etc.). This isn't about "getting even" or taking out our frustration on the agency. As most of us are regular riders and probably have monthly or weekly passes, the financial impact to NJT would be negligible... but that's not the point. If we do this right, we can focus a lot of unwanted attention on the agency and our justified grievances with it.



Doing it right requires a few things, I think. Firstly, we'd need numbers. A dozen, a hundred, even five hundred riders skipping NJT for a day would hardly raise an eyebrow. To raise some flags, we'd need thousands of empty seats that day. We'd want the people who did ride the buses and trains and light-rails that day (not to mention the drivers and conductors) to notice and wonder, "Where is everyone?" It's been pointed out that a large group of people taking cars instead of mass transit for a day could well make regular traffic worse; I say, so what? What's one day of extra traffic delays, especially when that may generate some media attention?

Which brings me to the second point... It would be helpful to get some attention from news outlets and bloggers, before and during (and after) our boycott. New Jersey Transit has been under more of a spotlight lately than it's used to, but it's not enough yet. We need others, not just us riders, to be aware of and outraged by the things NJT can do, but isn't doing, to make the situation better.

Thirdly, we can't just show up (well, not show up, really) with pitchforks and torches and clamor that we don't like New Jersey Transit! We have to list our (realistic and reasonable) grievances so that NJT knows what we want to see fixed, and so that others see that we're not just complaining for the sake of complaining. There was apparently a "Commuter Bill of Rights" proposed at one time, that died in committee; the idea should be revisited and strongly encouraged.

There are other methods we can employ, of course. The customer surveys should be filled out, and our responses need to be brutally honest. There are open meetings we can attend. Complaint forms should be filled out, and/or calls made. Legislators need to know how important this is to us. The status updates and tweets should continue as well. I feel, however, that a large-scale collective action like a boycott will make a statement that 10,000 complaints just can't, a statement that will be noticed by more than just New Jersey Transit. And so I'm trying to instigate. ;-) If you really want to see things change, then take the initiative, and go a step or two further than just moaning about it on social media.

If you were unsatisfied with Apple's iPhone, you could switch to LG or Samsung. If you don't like Walmart's policies, you can shop at Target instead. For a large number of us New Jersey Transit riders, however, the only viable alternative to riding is driving, and it's ridiculous that we should be forced to do that simply because our transit system is subpar. Some people don't have the option of driving, some would just rather avoid the hassle. For me, it's a combination of being green (by keeping one less car off the road) and saving green (by paying less for my public transportation than I would for a car and its associated expenses).

If we can get the numbers, I want to help organize a boycott! I'm going to need your help to get those numbers, though, because we're going to need a lot of people to participate. What do you say?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

FWIW

You may not understand, and you may not agree, but I hope you can accept.

365 days ago now, I was on a Megabus to New York from Pennsylvania, where I'd helped my ex-fiancée Laura move. My life then was not what I'd expected it to be a year prior, any more than my life today is what I expected it to be then. It's been a rough twelve months, and while I have had some fun and happy times, I've also endured some of the darkest moments of my life.

Laura's decision, several weeks after that, that it would be better for us not to stay in touch only ripped open the still-raw wound again, but after she picked up the last of her things in October, we both honored that decision. I was, therefore, very surprised to get a message from her a few weeks ago, a message that began with an apology.

We've agreed that we'd both like to try to become friends again, without things becoming too awkward or painful between us, and we've communicated a few times since. Yes, she did cause me a lot of pain, and I haven't forgotten that (nor can I)... but I do believe that she didn't do so maliciously, and that she truly is sorry for hurting me, and that working out exactly what happened and why can help us both to heal. She was my best friend for almost two years, and I can't forget that, either.

I struggled with the decision to publicize our cautious rapprochement. I know that some of the few people who care will disapprove, and all of them will warn me to be careful. I also know that I know Laura better than any of them do, even if I underestimated the challenges when we started our relationship almost three years ago. I don't intend to get hurt again, but if being friends to each other and talking can get us both past an emotional hurdle or two, then I'm all for it. Life's too short to spend carrying around anger, grief, sorrow, fear, regret, etc. for any appreciable length of time.

You may not understand, and you may not agree, but I hope you can accept. This sentence should be the basis of relations between any two people or groups of people... don'tcha think?