02 March 2015

The Long Way Round

Good Morning and thank you for calling Merchants and Farmers Bank in Holly Springs. This is K_______. How may I direct your call?

                    Good morning. I'm making a trip and I need Brazilian currency.

Yes, Ma'am.  You need what?

                           Brazilian currency. I'd like to exchange dollars for reais.

Oh, OK....  Can I get your name?

                      Alex Mercedes.

Do you have an account with us?


Can I get your phone number?


OK. The lady that handles that is out and I'll have her call you back.



Five minutes later.

This is L______ at Merchants and Farmers Bank of Holly Springs returning your call. How can I help you?

                  Yes.  I need Brazilian currency.

What is it?

                   Brazilian currency. I'm on my way to Brazil and I'd like to exchange some currency before I go.

Well, I know we don't keep any of that in the bank but we might be able to get some.

                        OK....so....  Do I call you back or....?

Uh, no Ma'am. We don't have it in the bank but we might be able to get some. I'll have to check and see.


[seconds of silence]

                   Are you checking now?

Uh, no Ma'am. I'll have to call you back.  May I have your number?

                      You have my number.  You called me.

Oh.  (giggle) That's right. OK.  I'll call you back.


.........Five minutes later.

This is L______ at Merchants and Farmers Bank of Holly Springs calling you back about the Brazilian currency?

                Yes.  What did you find out?

We're not able to order any Brazilian money.

               OK.  Thanks for checking.

01 March 2015


It is March!  This is the month I go to Brazil!

First twinges of genuine excitement hit about 20 minutes ago.

I am wondering how much cash to carry.

I am anxious to hear and smell Brazil.

I am nervous about packing only summer clothes. Clothes I have not worn since I was 8 pounds lighter than I am now.

I am looking forward to being away from Holly Springs.

21 February 2015


This is not a black and white shot. This is the way it looks this morning. The soundtrack is the drip-drip-drip of ice melting, accented intermittently with whoosh-tap-a-tap-tap and crash-tinkle as the wind brushes last night's rain from the naked tree branches and the final icicles loose their grip along the edges of the roof .

In 20 days I will be on my way to Brazil. Less than 3 weeks. Three weeks from this moment I'll probably be waking up from an overnight flight, peering down from a plane window on the Atlantic ocean, minutes from touchdown. The photo I take on that morning will probably be rich with color.

The ground is soggy, shiny and littered with twigs and branches. Wreckage from this week's sleet and freezing rain. I'm happy. It is not warm yet -- my bare ankles want socks -- but it is warm enough to drink morning coffee on the back porch in pajamas and sweater. The first time in many weeks. Spring is coming.

I don't know what to pack. What does one need from home for overseas travel? I am not worried; there's never any way of knowing what one will need, what will happen. I think I may need more warm weather clothing but I'd rather buy it in Brazil. I ordered an SD card for the new camera online. I've downloaded books onto the Kindle to keep me company during layovers and flying. Most of the piano music I needed has been photocopied and three-hole punched and placed in a slim white binder:  Clara and Chopin and Bach and Debussy mostly.

This morning is full of almost:  almost time to go, almost in Brazil, almost Spring.

I write this morning as warm-up to travel blogging. It's almost time for full-on writing.

It just started raining really hard.

12 February 2015

P.S. to Yesterday's Post

It is the first fugue -- not the second. I am working it again today. Absolutely electric in its elegance and eloquence.

Here's a clip. Poor sound quality because it's recorded using laptop instead of mixer, but the harmonic and melodic structures can still be clearly appreciated.

Oh, and for the record, the manuscript graphic yesterday was not the actual score. A shot of the first page of the score appears at the end of the clip.


11 February 2015

Clara's Valentine

Working on the second of Clara's Fugues.

At last. After many months of wrinkling my nose and quickly turning the page. Too many sixteenth notes.

Besides that, I hold the fugue form as a rare and mystical thing, a hallowed cosmic numerical magic code. I bow down intellectually whenever I see or think of the word.

But tonight I worked this fugue. And worked it. Got inside it. Swam. Pulled it apart.

Touched Clara's heart.

It is a strange music. Tender. The vulnerable aching heart of Clara wanders lost, singing confusion, sorrow.

The narrative arc of the piece is voluptuous; it swells and retreats and swells and retreats...

And at the end, such grace, like a seasoned sensuality -- but never immodest. 

I truly love this piece.

But I say that about everything Clara Schumann.

20 January 2015

Let Me Count The Ways...

Commentary I attached to the VISA approval picture on my FaceBook page:  

 Alex Mercedes I love that it comes after a sleepless night (opening the envelope in that altered state that sleep deprivation induces) ...preceded by a night full of disturbing dreams and premonitions about the VISA (so much for the accuracy of whatever clairvoyance I might claim). I love that it comes after I'd surrendered, made peace with myself and accepted that it might come...or it might not. (I was making plans to catch the Matisse show at NYC MoMA as consolation if the VISA didn't come through).I love that life has felt like slogging through mud for many weeks and that I kept slogging ... and that I am going to Brasil!!!! (a happy ending/beginning!)

On my Way

I have felt like I was slogging through mud for several weeks now.

Spirit renewed!!!!

VISA approved!!!!

Miss Alex is going to Brazil!