My Life Away from the Piano–and what the world is like in the East Bay

When one leaves a hometown, or home away from home to meet up with still another nesting ground, there can be some hefty adjustments.

Making solid friendships, for one thing, in a new area, is wrought with challenges. One of my friend-gathering efforts reached into the Bay-based “A Band of Wives,” an international network, the vision of Christine Bronstein, the glitterati wife of Phil Bronstein. He’s known, in part for his marriage to Sharon Stone, but is otherwise, regarded as a reputable journalist.

What was not to like about a group that claimed to SUPPORT women in their splendid creative endeavors be it in the arts cosmos or business. In fact, Ms. Bronstein had front and center, promoted her-well publicized book with an attached Internet blurb:

“Christine Bronstein is the founder of A Band Of Wives, a social network and information website for women.

“She is also the founder of Nothing But The Truth Publishing, the first publication of which is the best-selling Nothing But The Truth So Help Me God: 51 Women Reveal the Power of Positive Female Connection.” (She omitted my story, however, in “connection” with her win friends and influence people NETWORK. This was a female model of support, I was reassured.

The POWER of Female Connection–what a draw for me–a newbie transplant to Berkeley. I was otherwise lost in the eucalyptus trees, but savoring the aroma, in and out of my monastic forays at the piano.

Friends, friends, and more celebrating each other was a powerful stimulant. It wooed me to WIVES, maybe as a BLOGGER for starters, to introduce myself and my passion.

The story read as follows, within this copy of my Authors Den post:

“I wanted to scream YAY after I joined a sprawling network of “wives” conceived by Christine Bronstein, a svelte, under 40, spark plug. She’s married to Phil Bronstein of the San Francisco Chronicle who was previously hitched to Sharon Stone.

Wow! One of my “connections” at WON sisters (Women owned Network) Diahann Parker’s love child, touted WIVES as the end all EMBRACE of creative womanhood.

I had to sign up. In doing so, I joined tens of thousand of “spouses” who held hands across continents. The moral support was infinite!!

For certain I needed it after my BIG move from Fresno to Berkeley. My heart had been left in NYC in 1979 when I halfheartedly embarked for the Central Valley. My husband at the time was deathly afraid of temblors, so we had to live in a faultless area.. or at least one where quakes would be felt as little ripples in a pond.

What a trade-off. Landing in a culturally lackluster, agricultural area, barely surviving 100+ temps for 7 months of the year, not to mention the soil-releasing pollutants. The tulle fog produced particulates.

Fresno was not only the asthma capital of the country, but Fortune Magazine has designated it the “Dirtiest” US City.

It was time to GO…

WIVES awaited me–launched in the Bay area..though it had a leaning toward OPULENT Marin. Many $$$$-driven EVENTS pointed in that direction.

But this would never be a problem. Every organization needed to stay healthy with an influx of dollars generated by its planned activities.

It was more a policy that had a vested power and influence thread that began to undermine the WIVES thing for me. I was sensing A MALE-driven Y Chromosome infiltrating the organizational structure.

And here’s how it played out.

While I might appear to harbor a narrow, personal gripe, I realized that my issue epitomized something bigger than me and needed airing.

Being a seasoned blogger, I didn’t think twice about availing an opportunity to post my maiden introduction at WIVES. They gave every member (once you’re “approved”) a BOX to fill with thoughts, hopes and dreams. Not only that, but you could post videos, and updates about the exciting things you were doing. It resembled the framework of the Fresno Filmmakers Alliance website where I’d happily blogged my head off.

Self-expression is such a pivotal part of a women’s existence. For too long we’d been shackled to a stove, assigned to the domestic side of raising kids– expected to keep an immaculately clean home, and not much more.

Verbal outcries of assertion were not part of the package.

The Millennium ushered in the multitasking wife and mother. The ones who refused to hang up their framed Bachelor and Master’s Degrees to collect silverfish, could have a creatively satisfying life in or outside the home. (as entrepreneur, business partner, whatever worked)

A wife and mother, or a single woman, could now EXPRESS something more than a domestically relegated role.

Allejulia! We had arrived!

My opening Blog headline at WIVES was “Rarin’ to Go….”

I was signaling my arrival in Berkeley, the Promised Land, wanting to spread my musical passion far and wide.

No sooner than I did, the posting disappeared!

And when I clicked the BLOG icon, it said, “You have no blogs.”

????

I tried to post a second time with a new, more inviting title. Something like “UP and Away” in cyber: Teaching piano Here and Abroad!”

I was celebrating a brave, new universe of teaching. The word SHARE resonated! My Wives would SUPPORT me.

Wasn’t that the spirit of A BAND OF WIVES? I noticed Ms. Bronstein had her latest book-loving project, blinking away at the site. She surely would allow her member wives an opportunity to sing their hearts out about impassioned undertakings.

Or did I misread what WIVES was about: An international network of supportive women?

I had received no word about the disappearance of TWO posts, and became concerned.

Christine had messaged me when I first joined. She told me to
“check out the events” at WIVES. These, as previously mentioned, attached $$$$ signs.

So that was her last direct communication with me, before I messaged her privately to inquire about what happened to my blogs.

The next two communications from WIVES came from separate principles. It was now a three-tiered chain of command if you factor in that Christine dispatched “Leila,” followed by “Eva” to contact me about my question.

Suddenly I was feeling the corporate crunch, not the touchy-feely environment I had anticipated.

Bottom line, the message delivered from the top down to lowly me, was that I was being “self-promotional” in my blogs so both were DISAPPROVED (surreptitiously, I might add) Had I not contacted anyone in the organization, I would have continued proliferating posts that would disappear like a rabbit in a hat.

I paused to think about the dirty hyphened word. (“self-promotional”)

If I were a MAN, I would NOT be called self-promotional. Hadn’t I heard this double standard editorialized to death by some very impressive journalists? it accompanied the word “bitch.” A bitch was a pushy dame.. one who wanted to climb the corporate ladder, in the process of being “self-promotional.”

A guy would be called glowingly “ambitious.” Full of macho drive and testosterone!

***

I was now the “bitch” getting in the way of Christine and her entourage. But why?

The very notion of writing about what I loved—music, piano playing, teaching, Mozart, Bach and Beethoven was now unacceptable in the WIVES household.

I was motivated to browse the WIVES roster of blogs for guidance.

No sooner than I clicked off a reel of them, I spotted a FINANCIAL Adviser member dispatching advice in her field of expertise with the back-up of her well-designed profile page. Then I noticed this one and that one pushing this line of wellness pills and the rest.

Were they being Self-promotional? And if so, what was the sin?

Christine Bronstein, at the very top of her pseudo-corporate pyramid, was trumping her book and lots more under the sun, but some of her WIVES were subjugated, locked in that very symbolic kitchen and told to keep their place in her domicile.

I didn’t need to say more. It had been said loud and clear.

The finale was depressing. After I asked Leila and Eva (forwarded to Christine) innumerable questions related to the notion of self-promotion and the fact that some WIVES were considered self-promotion-immune, I was stripped of my membership, and told to go away.

Memories don’t leave, and principles, ethics, don’t evaporate with the wind.

It’s sad that A Band of Wives did not live up to its credo. Perhaps airing my experience will usher in some necessary changes, making Wives worth hanging with, and not divorcing from.

In this case, I was BIFURCATED, without a second thought.

P.S. A BAND OF WIVES, ex post facto, now has a DISCLAIMER at its site-warning members about Self-Promotional blogs. This is the upshot of my suspension–They’ve lawyered up, so to speak, fearing that their inconsistent policies might invite litigation.”

****

Happily, I’m safely tucked in at Word Press, without a worry in the world.

About arioso7: Shirley Kirsten

International piano teacher by Skype, recording artist, composer, piano finder, freelance writer, film maker, story teller: Grad of the NYC HS of Performing Arts, Oberlin Conservatory, NYU (Master of Arts) Studies with Lillian Freundlich and Ena Bronstein; Master classes with Murray Perahia and Oxana Yablonskaya. Studios in BERKELEY and EL CERRITO, California; Member, Music Teachers Assoc. of California, MTAC; Distance learning and Skyped instruction with supplementary videos: SKYPE ID, shirleypiano1 Contact me at: shirley_kirsten@yahoo.com OR http://www.youtube.com/arioso7 or at FACEBOOK: Shirley Smith Kirsten, http://facebook.com /shirley.kirsten TWITTER: http://twitter.com/arioso7 Private fund-raising for non-profits as pianist--Public Speaking re: piano teaching and creative approaches
This entry was posted in A Band of Wives, Christine Bronstein, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, Phil Bronstein, Shirley Kirsten, Shirley Smith Kirsten, word press, word press.com and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to My Life Away from the Piano–and what the world is like in the East Bay

  1. Gina B.Gina says:

    Un-real! Reality is, indeed, stranger than fiction!
    Gina

    Like

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