insights on art, culture, lifestyle, spirituality, travel, music, society and much much more from a jet-setter currently on "furlough"…

Archive for the month “March, 2010”

To Spring!

I think the following poem is quite appropriate to welcome the first days of SPRING 2010, complete with sunny & breezy 70+ degrees weather. What was once “dead” has now “resurrected” into new life! Sing out in joy!

To Spring – William Blake

O Thou with dewy locks, who lookest down
Thro’ the clear windows of the morning, turn
Thine angel eyes upon our western isle,
Which in full choir hails thy approach, O Spring!

The hills tell each other, and the list’ning
Valleys hear; all our longing eyes are turnèd
Up to thy bright pavilions: issue forth,
And let thy holy feet visit our clime.

Come o’er the eastern hills, and let our winds
Kiss thy perfumèd garments; let us taste
Thy morn and evening breath; scatter thy pearls
Upon our love-sick land that mourns for thee.

O deck her forth with thy fair fingers; pour
Thy soft kisses on her bosom; and put
Thy golden crown upon her languish’d head,
Whose modest tresses were bound up for thee.



*the 9th charm – Jennifer Knapp LIVE!

March 8, 2010 – Birchmere Music Hall,  Alexandria, VA

Jennifer Knapp is my favorite musical artist of all time. Her music has been instrumental in helping me survive some of the darkest days of my life. Her lyrics, both past and present, have always been straightforward, yet pensive; heart-wrenching yet redemptive. Jen returned to what she does best last fall after a 7 years hiatus and will have a new album out on May 11, 2010, appropriately titled “Letting Go”. I have been a fan since late 1999 and a decade later, her songs still speak volumes to me.

The concert on Monday, March 8, 2010 marked my first time in 7 years seeing Jennifer Knapp LIVE. [This was my 9th time seeing her live. Whoa!] She, along with Nashville-based singer/songwriter Amy Courts and “controversial” yet talented artist Derek Webb, are currently touring the country in anticipation of Jen’s new studio album. Concert go-ers had the opportunity to pre-order the new album, and received a CD entitled “Evolving” — featuring acoustic demos of her new songs. This is probably the best music I’ve heard in a long time.

Excitement was brewing as Amy Courts and Derek Webb took the stage before Jen made her debut… sharing stories with audience about how Jen’s music had impacted their lives. Amy Courts, who stated that Jen’s music inspired her to move to Nashville to kick off a career in music, also noted that she was thrilled to finally hear someone [then, in CCM] who was not “lame”. Derek Webb psyched up the audience by speaking the [ugly] truth in love by playing tunes such as “What Matters Most” and “The Savior on Capitol Hill“. Then, during intermission, many of us scrambled to use the facilities, order more drinks and stopped by the merchandise tables before Jennifer Knapp took the stage.

“It’s a blessing to be doing something so joyful again…” stated Jen, in regard to her recent *COMEBACK*.

The next hour or so was the most surreal concert experience of my life. That night, I was stuck in the present moment and had the opportunity to think critically about what Jennifer Knapp’s songs, both old and new, mean to me today. It was amazing to see the same lyrics speak to me in a completely different light. Jen’s new songs, especially “On Love”, “Fallen” and “Stone to the River“, shows extreme lyrical maturity, yet still retained the same (to quote Darren) “unmistakable sultry voice” and stellar acoustic guitar skills we have grown to love. The subject matter on the new record is also more challenging, and might burst someone’s “bubble”, but isn’t that the point of true art?

Thanks to Amy Courts — who helped Jen remember some of the older songs post-sabbatical and provided glorious back-up vocals — Jen was also able to play some familiar old tunes from her previous records. The most poignant moment of the evening occurred during the song “Fall Down“, an *oldie* from “The Way I Am”. I was moved to tears as I saw the “tough chick” pour out her heart and soul, tears falling down her face, during this agonizing but hopeful song. The past 7 years has not been a walk in the park for either one of us, and I can not begin to comprehend the pain and guilt Jen has endured for not jumping on the CCM bandwagon and staying out of the public’s eye. All I can say that I’m glad we both had ample time to get away from everything that was familiar and do a bit of soul-searching abroad (her in the Australian outback, me in Bella Italia) and let go in order to come back. During the encore, Jen came back and shared the stage with Amy and Derek, performing one of Amy’s songs and one of her own as well (see below).

All in all, it was a memorable evening and I must have had a SMILE plastered on my face from start to finish (and the days to follow). There was an element of *LOVE* in all the songs Jen chose for the set list that night. I thoroughly enjoyed laughing in response to the many stories Jennifer Knapp told, and the jokes she passed on as well. It was also special to attend this epic concert with another Jen Knapp fan, the ever-lovely Jess Lue, who was the one that told me about her return to music. After the show, Jen was gracious enough to come out and meet with some hard-core fans and pose for the obligatory fan photo opt.  She remains as humble and gracious as she’s always been.

It is evident that Jennifer Knapp is someone who clearly understands Scripture and takes God seriously, knowing that our faith journeys are not some happy go-lucky spiritual high, but instead always finding ourselves in need of grace, forgiveness and mercy. I admire the fact that she asked and is still asking the tough questions of faith and life, no matter how others view her. There will always be rumors that linger and people who can’t seem to move on without inquiring details on Jen’s personal life — still, let the music speak for itself and may Jennifer Knapp’s return to music be the continuation of a genuine expression of faith in life, and presence beyond this life.

Late night thoughts…

Just wanted to muse a little and share some links before going to bed and starting the work week. We had lovely spring-like weather this weekend, which equaled to daily walks and jogs around the lake, plus a delicious Indian buffet lunch catching up with dear friends at Dehli Dhaha. I feel like this is a long weekend as I get to witness a moment in music history tomor-*d’oh*-TONIGHT at the Jennifer Knapp + Derek Webb + Amy Courts concert in Alexandria. SO EXCITED. Be on the lookout for a review of sorts [with pics, hopefully!!] to be posted later on this week.

Now, to categorize:

[new blog name] :: I came up with “viva-SENZA-paura” which translates into “live WITHOUT fear” in italiano as a mantra of sorts for my life. Lately, I’ve been pondering on the concept of fear and how it can hinder you from moving forward in life. Fear can be described as false evidence appearing real” and the more I look at it, is definitely a form of control and manipulation. There were times in my life where I decided that fear was no longer an option and basically took huge risks without really thinking things through. I think I’m getting back to the stage again, yet being far more realistic in the long run… a topic for a later date.

[Lent] :: I realize that I haven’t blogged about Lent yet, so though it’s about 1/2 over, I thought I’d throw in my two cents about what I’ve been doing. This year, I didn’t fast from anything (though I could have done away with sweets), but instead, decided to be more intentional about creating space in my life to let God speak. What started out as a desire to spend more time in prayer and meditation turned into almost nightly reading of the Word and letting it soak into the depths of my soul. My focus has been on the theme of repentance for this season of fasting and prayer, and what it means to walk the messy yet redemptive road with those we are called to love. Without getting too personal, I must say that this has been a cool experience and I am keeping track of what I’ve been learning in my journal. **I am looking forward to hearing others share their experiences on their Lenten journey.

and finally…

[photosafarti] :: my 1x/month weekend activity now has a blog as well. Head on over to to check out what E-Ha and L. Kuah are up to each month. So far, we’ve covered Old Town Alexandria and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception + Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC this year.

**Also, if you have any specific ideas of what you want me to blog about, there’s a comment section below these posts that are hungry for some comments. Advise away…


“Be one with the clay…”

– Mrs. Zimmerman, my high school ceramics teacher

This past week was officially dubbed as “World Cultures and Clay”, or better yet, “Clay-strava-ganza” week. All of my students, from the wee little PreK’s to my Facebook obsessed 7th graders, worked with clay in some way, shape or form. The process was both challenging and messy for my students — some of them, using clay for the first time. Not enough water created too many cracks in the clay, which were hard to cover when painted over; too much water made the clay pot fall apart. Some didn’t know quite how to handle the clay while others washed, cleaned and wedged their pieces to near perfection. Each class was assigned a culture/period in art history to work with, and out of it came an interesting assortment of pinch pots, figurines, tiles, coil pots and bowls.

This was a great way to relieve stress and use our hands to create 3D art at long last. Because it’s such a challenging medium to work with, even the usual troublemakers were practically silent, molding their clay pieces and striving to make the best art ever. I kept having flashbacks from my high school ceramics class that I took my senior year, nearly a decade ago and was happy to impart my knowledge of clay pottery with my students.

That being said, I am super impressed with the materials purchased for this project. Since we don’t have a wheel or a kiln at the school, I made good use of the AMACO self-hardening clays: Mexican red clay and White Stonex, as well as the Crayola Air-Dry clay. Students will finish painting, decorating and varnishing this week and I can’t wait to see the results. Gettin* messy on the job ain’t a bad thing!

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