Tuesday, November 17, 2015

a dream

I grasped you near, in the pages of a magazine.
With childish eyes, I longed for you, now adored, a dream.

Laughter in your eyes spoke to my girlish desires.
Finding myself, in finding you, shifting towards a dream.

Torn apart by sins of time, discovered and mended.
True love in the flesh found, laughter, tears, no more a dream.

Forgetful heart striking out, seeking truths in earnest.
To stumble on you again, my spirit soars, a dream.

Wake up! I jolt from reverie, brushing starry eyes.
Elusive, bound by nature, injustice roared, a dream.

First attempt at a ghazal for this month's poetry slam at yeah write. Read about it HERE and try your hand.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Celebrate Your Story

Writing is freedom, claiming your authentic space, being solely and completely yourself. 

Writing is unfurling, exposing raw bits that have been clawing for air. 


People, experiences, and sufferings of the past that have defined us are silenced like devils with their tongues cut out.

In writing, we rule the world, if only for a blip in time. 

Backspace, delete, and white-out offer endless chances to tell our truths without interruption.

In writing, we are a slave to no one. 

We live what we create, and we create what we dream.

We have all the chances we need.

Each of us has a story to tell, whether real, made-up, or a bit of both.

Whether you choose to share your story alone, whispered in a journal, or out loud, bellowed from your laptop, you must tell it.

There is a place.
There is space.
There is time.

Inspired by the young writers featured at the WITS (Writers in the Schools) Gala on November 12, 2015, themed “A Celebration of Story.” 

It's the only gig in town where you can hear top notch poetry and win a tennis ball signed by Martina Hingis in the same night.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Music Review: "That Would Be Me" the new album by Harry Connick Jr

I write about the ‘80s a lot. An awful lot. And I write about the present, when I can’t seem to escape it. 

But lodged somewhere between then and now lies a neglected decade, the ‘90s.
The era of FriendsSeinfeldER, Pearl Jam, Oasis, Nirvana, No Doubt, and Smashing Pumpkins. A decade defined by the advent of expensive coffee married with flannel and angst.

But a rare and precious gem sparkled in the darkness of grunge, a sound that harkened back to a more civilized time.

Harry Connick Jr. 

I remember when I first heard “It Had to Be You” watching When Harry Met Sally at the Varsity Theater in Austin, across from The Drag, when I should have been studying.

This guy was different.

His sound and style were timeless, with more than a nod to the Golden Era of music.

His renditions of classics like “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” sparked my interest in the burgeoning revival of swing/big band music.

With a voice like cream cheese icing on a Red Velvet cupcake, and a face to match, there was no stopping Harry Connick Jr.  Music, films, tv, you name it, he did it and did it well. 

Whether it was old standards, new favorites, or straight-up New Orleans heritage jazz, we loved all facets of HCJ and celebrated his multi-faceted creative approach to entertainment.

Fast forward to 2015, and HCJ has reinvented himself again, this time as the most authentic and raw version of himself yet to be exposed to his audience.

On his new album, “That Would Be Me,” the forty-seven year old married father of three blazed a new trail, handing over the reins of creative control to two heavy-hitter producers.  Connick worked with Eg White (Sam Smith, Adele, Florence and the Machine) and Butch Walker (Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Pink, Weezer) to put a unique spin on his own musical style and deliver something completely new and unexpected.

A striking new boldness and stripped down honesty deliver a heartfelt album that mirrors the emotions and stage of life many of us are in right now. 

“(I Like It When You) Smile” is a get-up-and-dance anthem to “put a spring up in your stride” no matter how cool you’re playing it. “Tryin’ to Matter” speaks to the mid-life puzzles we’re all trying to solve and “(I Do) Like We Do” is a sweet statement on the meaningful bond of commitment, perseverance, and love.

“(I Think I) Love You a Little Bit” and “Every Time I Fall in Love” are relaxed, pensive meditations on the most complicated emotion on the planet, with which we all can identify.

There are many reasons to love Harry Connick Jr., and his new album, “That Would Be Me” is just another box to check. 

There’s nothing better than a guy who decides he doesn’t have to deliver the same goods time after time. A guy who’s not afraid to make a different sound, a different ripple in the ocean of What’s Expected.

I’m right there with you, Harry, humming along to every note.

“That Would Be Me” by Harry Connick Jr. is available now on iTunes or visit his website HERE for all the goods. Do yourself a favor and download it today.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Cats

The internet is overflowing with love for dogs (and for the record, I do like dogs, as well) and disdain for cats, so in honor of #NationalCatDay, I wrote this inspired prose about my little fur babies.

First up, Rainey, the stray who showed up at our house on a rainy day, banged up, skinny, and covered in sticky, wet leaves.

Black, orange, and white are you,
Sweet and loyal, through and through.

Always there to give a snuggle,
Whenever my mood shows signs of trouble.

Soothing fears with your soft, luscious purr,
Cares fade away when stroking your fur.

You and I have a quiet understanding,
You’re always giving and never demanding.

Quiet companions through thick and thin,
I’ll treasure you always, my feline friend.

Rainey, the cat with a Heart of Gold

And then there's the other one, Mittens the Scoundrel, who loves us in the most disgruntled way possible.

Orange and white with lots of fluff,
You’re sweet as pie ‘til you’ve had enough.

Always wanting love and attention,
Baring your claws when it turns to imposition.

Ever keeping us on our toes,
With overturned water cups and other woes.

Lovable in spite of your naughty ways,
Your spark sheds light on the darkest of days.

We may not always see eye to eye,
But I’ll love you ‘til the day you die.

Wait, isn't every day National Cat Day?

Give your furry friends an extra squeeze today and every day!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, October 19, 2015

Sharps and Flats

The tick-tock of the metronome droned on, a death march toward the final crescendo of a Chopin Etude I’d been butchering all afternoon.

“Jenny, slow down, dear. Find the notes with your eyes. Then move your fingers and strike. Try again.”

Even admonishment sounded lovely in a British accent.

I eyed the giant tub of Super Bubble gum in the corner of the room, and I knew I had to do my best to be rewarded with a piece at the end of the lesson.

But alas, I continued to struggle, and Mrs. M signaled for me to vacate the bench so she could demonstrate.

“Once I play it for you, the proper notes will stick in your memory.  Your head will guide your hands.”

I stood behind her and observed as her deft yet graceful fingers flew across the piano keys with utter command of their timbres.

I’d never heard anything more beautiful.


I shuffled through the house from room to room looking for nothing and everything.  A clue to lead me to the next step, the next phase of what I’m meant to be doing.

Since turning forty-five, I’d been stuck in a tar pit of inertia pondering the meaning of life, in all its clich├ęd glory.

This general malaise is not conducive to being productive, especially when the phone seems to be constantly ringing and email relentlessly chiming with people wanting me.

I circled past the mahogany baby grand that swallows our living room, which I pass probably ten times a day without notice. But on this day, I paused.

“Well, hello, old friend. I’ve missed you.”

Wait, did anyone else hear that? If a tree falls in an empty forest, did it make a sound?

I eased back the antique bench with the broken brass hinge on top and gingerly lifted the lid to greet the time-worn sheet music within.

So many old favorites jumped out at me, pieces from my early years as a beginner, like Flower Fairy and Boogie Woogie Blues.  Then larger volumes of sonatas by Mozart and Haydn and two-part inventions from Bach. Reams of books of scales, chords and cadences, and arpeggios. 

Buried beneath the classics were the compilation books of popular music from the ‘70s and early ‘80s that I insisted on sneaking into my repertoire.

A little Muskrat Love, anyone? Or how about Rhinestone Cowboy? Theme from the Pink Panther, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Endless Love.

I even found the sheet music to Duran Duran’s New Moon on Monday, which pretty much signaled the end of my musical instruction.  My interest was waning. I had had enough.  I was moving on to seemingly more important things, like boys. Specifically, how to meet those boys and what to do with them after that.

My mother acquiesced and let me quit after I’d no doubt worn her down to a nub on the issue.  But getting Mother to agree to my abandonment was the easy part.

I’ll never forget the look in Mrs. M’s eyes, the disappointment and affront that almost seemed personal when I informed her, head down and mumbling, I was jumping ship.

She fought for her case, telling me I was one of her most talented students. That I might consider attending the famous London School of Music, from which she herself had three degrees.  “Or set your sights higher!” she begged. “Julliard! You are special! You can’t give up.”

I left that day with my tail between my legs, guilt-ridden by her speech but not enough to change my dense teenaged mind.

I agreed to perform at one last recital: a duet with a fellow student, a Beethoven Sonata, and Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag, which was one of my all-time favorites.

But after that, it would be over.

I sped away in my newly-acquired, second-hand Oldsmobile, easing my conscience by popping in an INXS tape and reminding myself I had more important places to be.

Like the mall.


I wonder now how the course of my life might have been different had I kept with it. I didn’t have the dedication, perseverance, or work ethic to pull it off.  But what if I had?  Where might I be, and what might I have accomplished?

Music is in my blood. My veins might as well be speaker wire.  Music sustains me and keeps me from falling into a deep, dark place of no return.

But what I’ve been neglecting all these years is the joy of creating music, not just listening as a bystander.

Throughout the toil of raising babies, working at lackluster jobs, and meeting the endless demands on my time, I now realize I’d overlooked the importance of feeding my own soul.

I’d forgotten the therapeutic effects of banging out a Rachmaninoff concerto instead of banging my head against a wall.

This is what I have been missing.

I searched online for news of my dear old piano teacher, and not unexpectedly, found her obituary.  She passed away four years ago at the age of ninety-one.
I wonder if she ever thought of me again?

Full of resolve, I googled “piano tuner Houston.”

It’s time I reclaim what I’ve lost, what’s left of it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

45 is Oh So Fine! 45, It's Time to Whine

35 + 10
50 - 5

I’ve been helping with math homework.  It seems like all I do lately, help with homework. I am forty-five today, but I’m actually in fifth grade.

I’ve (re)learned that there are several ways to mathematically express a number, and in my case today, I’m not really digging the result of these equations.

The last one completely terrifies me.

There was something anticlimactic about turning forty, the whole right-of-passage, forty-is-the-new-thirty thing.

Nobody says forty-five is the new thirty-five.

Haven’t heard it.  Need to start it.

Forty-five feels very much like fifty minus five.

And there’s no coming back from fifty.

When you’re in your forties, you can still kind of pretend that you’re in your thirties and get away with it. But once the Big 5-0 hits…well, I’m picturing tombstones and bad Over the Hill decorations.

I know in my head that I have nothing to fear.  There are lots of fabulous women I know in their 50s and beyond.

But this isn’t a logical thing going on here with me today.

This is like a weird itchy, scratchy feeling behind my eyeballs that started when David Bowie’s Young Americans came on the radio on my way home from driving Little Man to school.  I’ve loved this song since I heard it in Sixteen Candles in 1984, sparking an obsession with classic Bowie that continues to this day.

I sat at a stop light and thought, “Do I still fit into the category of Young Americans?”  I feel like I do, but my birth certificate says probably not.

Isn’t it strange how our brains freeze at a certain point in our twenties or thirties, and that’s where we stay? I can tell you that I do not feel forty-five.  I believe that when I’m fifty, I will not feel fifty.

In my mind, I am forever stuck somewhere between fifteen and thirty-two, with only the reality of my children and my thighs to bring me back to the present.

But don’t worry about me, I’ll be alright. It’s healthy to think about mortality every once in a while. It keeps us on our toes and ensures that we align ourselves with what’s most important to us.  

For me today, it’s friends and family, my super cool husband who indulges my rock star crushes, and my children who give me all the warm fuzzies when they’re not driving me to drink.

And of course, there will be lots of music today. Blaring from my computer, in my car, and through my earbuds in between.

First up, from David Bowie: The Singles 1969-1993

Turn and face the strange
Oh, look out you rock 'n' rollers
Turn and face the strange
Pretty soon now you're gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can't trace time

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Art of Fangirling - Part II

A solitary bead of sweat, or possibly a tear, slid down her cheek, cutting a path in the heavy makeup that had been applied with great care.

“I’m more nervous right now than I was on my wedding day!” she panted.

Her voice rose and fell, rolling and uneven, teetering on the very edge of something more than what she could contain. 

Her thickly-lined eyes darted back and forth, frantically searching for the object of her affection.

“Rick is like, my life.”

She clung to her cup of water as a life preserver, a buoy in the storm of her frenzy.


Rick Springfield has an incredible connection with his devoted fans of over three decades, as documented in the film, An Affair of the Heart.  Some of these women (and men!) have unbelievable stories of how his music changed their lives.

And it’s a two-way street. In the film, Rick admits that performing used to be all about himself, but now it’s his way of connecting with people.  

He strives to make himself truly accessible to his fans.

And as with anything, you have to take the good with the bad.


There are varying degrees of Fangirls.

Level 1: Devotion and loyalty, with an appropriate level of excitement; all faculties and brain function clearly intact.

Level 2: Level 1, plus propensity for temporary episodes of Head in the Clouds, but with no long term negative effects.

Level 3: Levels 1 & 2, plus a disconcerting break from rational thinking regarding the subject. Abandons social norms and begins to lose touch with the reality of daily life.

I would say that I fall somewhere between Levels 1 and 2 (more like 2 after I’ve recently made contact with the subject). 

But you have not experienced the high-functioning psychosis of which the human brain is capable until you’ve seen a Level 3 Rick Springfield fan.

Code Red.


Having tossed her cup of water aside, her hands were free to shake with the ferocity of a junkie coming down off a high. 

Except that she was about to get her fix.

She fumbled with her belongings and sputtered nervously to my friend, who happened to be directly in front of her in the Meet and Greet line.

“I need you to record me getting my picture taken with Rick, ok?”

“Um. Ok. Sure.” said Friend.

“This may be the most important thing you ever do, ok?”

“Wow. That’s a lot of pressure.” said Friend.

We exchanged a secret eye roll and a quiet snicker.

Who was this woman? Did she have a family? A life?

She regaled us with accounts of how many concerts she’d been to, how many times she’d met Rick, etc.

This meeting was of the utmost importance to her, as she’d had “fat surgery” since the last time she saw him.  Her words, not mine.

In one instance, she’d hurt her leg climbing over chairs to get to Rick at a concert. She went to the doctor, who mistakenly wrote on her chart that she’d injured herself at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

She was infuriated and demanded that her medical record be corrected.

On another occasion, she met Rick in Corpus Christi, in 102 degree heat. She hugged him, got his sweat on her shirt, and has saved said shirt in a Ziploc bag to this day.

At another fan’s tale of woe at missing part of the show when nature called, she scoffed, “I don’t worry about incontinence at Rick’s shows. That’s why I always wear black. I had to apologize to the guy behind me at the last show.”


Two ladies who appeared to be hovering somewhere between Levels 2 and 3 donned matching black tank tops that touted, “I’m Jessie’s Girl” and “No, I’m Jessie’s Girl.”  

A third woman joined them later to complete the trio with “Forget Jessie’s Girl, I’m Sylvia” which I was told only Super Fans would get.

I didn’t get it.


The concert was starting, and I spotted Code Red in the front row, our seats directly behind her. I made a mental note to be on the lookout for any suspicious puddles.

She made it clear to everyone around her that if any guitar picks were thrown into the audience, they were hers. No questions asked.  

And we all nodded our heads in agreement, because although I’m sure she’s a lovely person when she’s not acting crazy, this is not a woman you want to throw down with over a tiny piece of plastic.

From the moment Rick took the stage until the last chord was played, she made it her mission to get his attention.  At one point in the show, once he really began to sweat under the lights and Texas heat, she threw him a tissue, presumably to mop his brow.

He jokingly blew his nose with it and tossed it back to her. She snapped up the tissue and began to rub it all over her face.

And true to her promise (or threat, depending upon how you took it), each time he threw a guitar pick into the audience, she reacted like a Hunger Games tribute vying for the last backpack of supplies at the Cornucopia.


I’ve thought about this woman over the last few days and wondered how she’s getting along.  How she’s handling the Day-after-Christmas letdown now that the big event is in the past. 

Is she sad?  Is she tormented?  Is she already plotting her next encounter with Rick?

I’ve also thought about Rick, and whether or not these people freak him out.

Yes, he enjoys making a connection with his fans.  But would you want to be groped by perfect strangers on a daily basis?  

Code Red was practically foaming at the mouth as she rubbed all over him at the Meet and Greet. He joked that she was literally “vibrating” when she touched him.

At one point during the concert when he ventured to the edge of the stage, she made a grab for his leg and continued to go exploring quite a bit higher up than was publicly appropriate.

How would we react if that was a male feeling up a female performer?

I think it would make us uncomfortable.

And I can assure you that this made us uncomfortable, too.  

I sympathize with her Fangirl heart, but I can’t quite wrap my mind around the extreme to which she pushes it.

For me, it's more of an innocent connection.  Rick and his music take me back to a defining point in life: the very last time that I remember being a kid. 

Riding bikes in the heat of the summer. Calling in to radio stations to request songs. Secretly playing with Barbie dolls.  Sneaking peeks at soap operas on tv. Puppy love. 

Acting all grown up and then reverting back to childish tendencies.

Rick brings me back to that girl I once was, before things got so complicated.  

And although I hope I won’t be publicly embarrassing myself in a Code Red manner, I will always be a devoted fan hovering somewhere between Levels 1 and 2.

After all, I give my heart and soul to my family on a daily basis. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world, this wonderful life of mine.

But sometimes it’s just plain fun to take a trip to Cloud 9 with Rick every now and again.

I promise, I’ll always come back.

In case you missed last week, you can read about my experience meeting Rick Springfield in The Art of Fangirling - Part I.