Auriol Hays

Awareness through music

Archive for August, 2012

In The Still of the Night…

“I want to seduce this man and you must help me! There’s nothing in this shop!” I exclaimed a few days ago.  Yes, I was exaggerating but was keen to hear her response. “I know just what you need” said Roshaana, the shop assistant. For the next thirty minutes she took me under her wings. “Oh, I think you should try this…” she said as she handed me some lingerie. “And this will look great with that!” I won’t lie – I was very resistant but I tried them anyway. Needless to say I spent more money than I anticipated. I wanted to purchase a scarf initially  but at least I left with a smile and a great deal to think about.

Being single is a very jarring experience. Most of the time I am out of my depth and (I realized in the shop) out of touch. Mother, wife, friend, and musician – those were epithets I was comfortable with. But being a single woman….with um… needs… has blind-sided me. I am not interested in meaningless relationships or casual flirtations. So finding some kind of balance has been…trying.

“Darling you don’t need a boy, you need a Tarzan!” exclaimed Ierephaan as I sat in his salon. I chuckled as he uttered those words but in truth I have no idea what I need. Very often it’s the things one needs that causes big shifts – not what one wants.

And this is why I never fall asleep easily. I have to be sure. I must question. I am not looking for certainty. I just want to understand how I got to this place. Honestly, I would rather be in lust than in love. Lust you can quantify and eventually satiate. It’s fun and it’s entertaining – so I hear. But Love? Part of me wonders whether I could ever love a man as ardently again. Kiss his lips, trace the outlines of his face and not only whisper, “I love you…” but express that love with my every thought and action. Could I really stand in the midst of It without loosing myself?

My sister says I need to get laid. My mother suggested some homeopathic remedies. My daughter wants me to stop listening to Ben Harper (or “The Harp”as  she calls him)…but me? I don’t know what I need and that’s about as honest as I can be right now. That’s all I can afford anyone. However, my uncertainty is not about to stop me from purchasing certain items that any full blooded woman should have in her boudoir! In fact getting laid is not the issue – embracing my femininity is.  Still being prepared never killed anyone.  You just never know what could happen…

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Goodnight My Love…

“What are you cooking?” is one of the first questions I ask my friends as I walk into their homes. They know all about my torrid and tempestuous love affair with food. I love cooking and eating but  had no appetite to speak of for the last year. So being in the kitchen became a torturous experience. I would never know what to cook or how to combine foods and would end up eating cereal at night.

My mother will hate me for this but the lady, bless her soul, can’t cook to save her life. My father makes what I term “peasant food” – wonderful stews and soups that will induce gut wrenching flatulence – if prepared correctly! Aside from that I paid little attention to food until my friend Mark came into my life. Our conversations revolved around food and sex. That sounds facile, forgive me. Our conversations revolved around food, sex and music…Did I mention sex?

Being in Uitenhage with my best friend over the last weekend inspired me to get back into the kitchen. He often says I can’t cook and I often threaten him with a knife or a shoe but at least the desire to experiment has returned. The last year has been especially hard and somewhere along the way the self preservation button clicked in my brain and my life became increasingly concentric and insular…and then the amnesia set in. I forgot what it felt like to be part of a big family; to be surrounded by people who know, love and care for you …

There is no point belabouring the fact that I am no longer part of a family. I am just glad that I do not feel the loss as keenly as I did before. The only thing I can do now is try to regain my balance and it starts in the kitchen. Seeing that my sister’s birthday is around the corner, I will cook up something just for her. That means calling up all those wonderful people I met in Uitenhage and bugging them for recipes, getting tips from Mark and forcing my best friend into the kitchen…to oversee operations. I will invite the family we like and those friends, who have, despite their objections, became family. Then we will eat, laugh, tell dirty jokes, listen to bad music and possibly wake up without a hangover! That’s a perfect way to end off any day in my books…

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Some Irreverent thoughts about the new album..

 I received this a while back from a friend who bought my album. The man has a way with words

You have done it. You have dropped the mask.

I don’t know what else you could have dropped though ‘cos this album is genius. The person who worked out the song order (so important in terms of how an album is absorbed and digested, in my opinion) deserves a tram-line of the best cocaine on earth along with bestial sex the likes of which will cause us all to hurl our television sets into the sea and scream in unison, ‘It’s over, it’s over, there’s no more to aspire to.’

The turbulence of this album is a spiralling roller coaster ride that would make Leviathan blink at the tumult.

I love the funk/soul fusion of ‘My Love,’ then from that straight into ’With You,’ what a lovely song, I love it’s empty spaces that you
could have filled with sodden pulp. But you didn’t … Then there’s ’Beside You;’ it’s sweep, it’s old-time swing, it’s desperation -potent.

‘Time For Love’ – just you accompanied by piano; that’s the way, that is the way into and out of the black. “So simple and sublime,” de constructed and liberated. Your most accessibly beautiful song yet.
Then another segue into the ebony and anger of ‘Devil Woman.’ It shudders with scarlet. Again, the desperation of ‘I sing the Blues’ but it is not an excuse, but a celebration of escape, percussion like heartbeats fading (or being resuscitated?), it’s a shot in the dark that shouldn’t find its target but does, making it all the more majestic. ‘In love with the past’ – yes, u can call it love, I suppose. You know there are many levels of love; even the loveless must know some kind of love to know that they are indeed,
loveless. One of the best vocals I have heard from you on this song. For me this song says there is no redemption.

From that, away and into the wonderful pound of ‘A better man,’ then the death, ruin, missing saints, hopelessness where hoping is a sin and no one is safe, of ‘The End.’ The waves. The waves.
I hope this album gets the praise and recognition it deserves.

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Lover You Should’ve Come Over…

“Mummy why are singing the Shrek song?” my daughter asked early this morning. She was expecting the “Girl, get out of bed and get dressed now!” war cry that she was accustomed and inured too. However, her mother singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah from her bed was…new. Did she wake up and get dressed? No, instead she lay in bed while I sang and was 20 minutes late for school!

Music has the uncanny ability to make me feel good about myself regardless of where or with whom I am. In the past I had so many hang-ups. I didn’t look right enough, act right enough – even my voice betrayed me! I simply could not Whitney Houston the crap out of a song no matter how hard I tried. At times it felt as though I was hauling around a sign that said, “Look, these are all the reasons why you should love me; want to be with me…”

I spent a life time begging one man to love me with every song I wrote and sang. In the end it made for great music but a lonely life for both of us. It taught me a valuable lesson about self acceptance. Yes, my Ben said it best “Take me as I am or leave me where you found me.” Now I make sure that I am understood and aware of the consequences of every act.

It’s so easy to get carried away by the aura of one man. I realized that it’s a weakness of mine and one I transpose into music with ease. The only problem in that scenario is that I end up elevating and mythologising that one man. So in order to get around that little issue (because every musician needs a Muse) I deliberately do things to bring those traits that I admire in him into my own life. Is it working? Give me a few months and I will get back to you. After all I am not perfect you know…

This hard-line approach applies to my interaction with men also. A friend and I were having a conversation when I blurted out in panic “Listen, do you think this man will understand what I am saying?” I do worry that my less than subtle approach scare people. And he responded by saying, “Your honesty is one of your best qualities.”  Even though I decided to never tone down or cower the way I have in the past – I do still get itchy feet.  Regarding men – I make my intentions very clear.  If you want me come and get me – but only if I gave you the go ahead! If you don’t it’s no skin off my back. After all there that’s why there’s family, friends, music, books, tv shows, cats to love, causes to be involved in and top of the range vibrators…that will leave me singing  “Hallelujah!”

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I hate being bored and boring others in turn. I come across so many people who are doing the same thing year after year. Same jobs, same friends and the same dreams that go nowhere. How can they not loose their minds? I have a few rules in my life that I try to live by. No, this isn’t something my Mother taught me or that I read in some self help book. I uncovered this while getting into and out of all kinds of sticky situations.

I refuse to be in the same mental or physical space for too long in my career or personal life. I would be so miserable that I would shave my head (wait, I did), stop singing (check, did that also) or write trippy suicidal songs (yepp, wrote so many.) After boring myself for years on end I made the conscious choice to seek new experiences. That just sounds wrong so please allow me to rephrase. I made a decision to seek enriching experiences with passionate people. Eish, that sounds porno-ish but I am sure you get my drift.

My life is nowhere near perfect, trust me but I am a lot happier than I was. Sure I get lonely but it I have learnt to be deal with. Wait, I am lying. I have my moments of panic but they are far and few in between. How can I panic when I have so many people in my life who keep my grounded and excited at the same time?

Moving away from outdated ways of thinking and being is not as easy as it sounds. Sure you can mantra your way into it something else or consciously seek out the latest and new. In my experience, limited as it is, that never ends well. When I go with the flow and allow people to surprise me – that’s when things shift dramatically. It ties in with the previous blog post about taking real accountability, not allowing any emotions to cloud my judgement and always being honest.

That brings me to my second rule. I surround myself only with honest, passionate, loyal people. The kind who will look at me and say, “Auriol you are up to sh**t!” or “Auriol you are wrong about that!” I know that I will loose my way every now and then…and when I do they will shout and scream at me – if necessary. I do the same for them in turn. When I travel I always have good people, who I consider family, to visit. Sometimes we go to our favourite restaurant, watch movies, sip on some Boschendal wine and spend hours catching up. They inspire me. Not because they live exemplary lives but because they share all of who they are without guile.

No matter how hairy things may get I know things will work out in the end. Everything I do has to take me one step closer to my goals…so I can be the best version of myself. I do that not for anyone else but for my own sanity. I can’t afford to have another nervous breakdown and shave my hair again! Dammit! Extensions are expensive and writing about suicide is just so very boring! Haha

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Night and Day

“Auriol, you must learn to please yourself,” says my Shaman. Just to be clear we were not about talking dirty, nasty (but oh so enjoyable) porno sex! We were heading down a deep and intriguing road, so I listened intently. “We waste so much time wanting and desperately needing others to please us. To do what we need them to do, to act the way we think they should act. In the end it gets us nowhere.” I looked at her, picked up the first beer I drank in more than a decade and allowed that thought to ferment….

I don’t want to bore you with my divorce or the mess that lead up to it. However, it is one of my defining moments and in the wake of it I have had many epiphanies. Firstly, I learnt the value of being accountable for my actions. The ex (who I call Boris) said in anger that I should take accountability for our marriage falling apart. Hmmm….accountability for one’s actions…it seems like such an easy thing to say. Yet, how is that possible when most of the time we are only thinking about what we need and how best to find people and things to satiate that need? In the end it is all about “me!” and “‘what I deserve”   so much so that everyone and everything else no longer matters.

Pointing out how others should take accountability is easy. After all it doesn’t take much to deflect blame.  But genuine accountability? Let’s get real for a second. We all know when we are up to shit. “If something is right you would feel no shame. No need to justify or hide your actions. No need to point fingers or question yourself.” I wondered about the numerous times I have said and done things in anger or with no regard for another. How could I forgive myself for that? How do I forgive the hurt and pain I inflicted and where do I even begin?

“Everything is as it should be. There are no mistakes.” I have heard that so many times it sickens me! I would go with that train of thought to a certain degree. Allow me to explain. I once told a friend, “You will meet many men that you are sexually attracted too. People who, in the heat of the moment, just get you. This does not mean that you should pursue  or jump into bed with them!” I learnt to be aware of my thoughts and actions the hard way over the years. Real accountability, in my mind, means not pointing fingers at others and always being aware…

And being aware of my flaws and deeply held desires has changed everything. Right now my life is a reflection of that accountability. I do not have any dealings with people who would compromise me in any way. Conversely my actions should never compromise or hurt anyone. Still it is not as easy as it sounds. Most of the time we are unaware of our own motivations. At other times our needs are so pressing, so urgent that any action seems like the right one. Often it takes a damn hard bump on the head or a traumatic event to bring those matters to the fore.

Even though I cannot bypass all the drama that comes with being alive I will try my hardest to live with some kind of integrity. And if it takes having a beer with my Shaman every now and then to remind me of that – then so be it!


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