The Rise and Fall of a Bee

 

BeeIt’s dark. Sticky. Air thick with damp sweetness. My body vibrates to free a pair of stiff, wet things on my back. Lifting, drying, beating, whizzing. Wings!

Off I go. Hunger. Light! Wind! Brightness! Zing! Zoom! Ha ha! Whee!

Hunger. A taste in the air. A wafting sugary mix of color and scent. Lavendar, pink, yellow, magenta explosion of sensations for my kaleidoscope eyes. So many flavors, how do I choose?

I land on a fragrant yellow pillow. Mmm. Step step step giggle, look at my funny black legs, now wearing yellow socks!

Zzzip, off I go. Whiz, whirl, dizzy silly fun! Pink! Ooh pink next! Step step step, look at my legs now! And look at the pink pillow, covered with my little yellow footprints. Pollination! Oh so very important am I!

Pungent. Powerful. What is that intoxicating smell? I go down down down into the forest of green blades. A red apple on the ground, squishy soft and oozing. Taste taste taste. Feast feast feast. Oh dear. Fermented. My head is light. I try to fly but I reel. Drunken me. Buzz buzz buzz, I can only lay on the brown earth, humming and batting my wings in a stupor.

Fresh air, a light gust of wind. My head is clearing. Phew. I feel better. I can smell the colors again. I am hungry. I am me again. I shake my body, tremble my wings. I am ready to fly. But a great shadow blocks the light. All is darkness. I hear a voice. A giant! A human child. I am trapped under her foot!

Wiggle wiggle. I feel the pressure. I am being pushed into the earth! Squiggle squiggle. The child, tall as a bush, and me so small. But I have a weapon! I arch my back and raise my poison sword. I stab to save my life. Sting sting sting!

Loud scream. Shouts and cries. Another human approaches. Quickly I tremble my wings. Zip! Zoom!

Dodge, evade, what is this? A hand, batting me! Shouting, more hands, swatting, flailing.

Dive, twirl, POW!

I am struck. I fall. Down, down into the grass forest. I land on a soft leaf. I am oozing, like the apple. I tremble my wings but they cannot lift me. The leaf is fragrant. Sweet smelling. All is dark. Thick, sweet and dark, like my birth. I am important. I am important. I am important. If only I had more time…

The yellow footprints in the pink grow a lovely apple, and a child is fed.

I’ll Do It When I’m Dead: A procrastinator’s guide to… pretty much nothing

I am a musician, a novelist, a blogger, a song-writer, and master procrastinator. I have lofty goals, huge dreams, and a question: How the heck do I never have time for any of my projects? I shall examine this. Here’s “A day in the life of Rose…”

I get up and ease into the day. Soft robe, steaming coffee,slippers feet up. Hubby’s on the workout bike for another hour. I’ll wait for my turn. I’m not quite awake yet.

Dressed for a workout. The phone rings. A dear friend. I sit back down on the couch and we have a lovely chat.

My hubby asks for some help with his business. A write-up, a few important documents to put together. This is important. It brings home the bacon. It’s just a couple hours. I’m also supposed to spend at least an hour a day writing a blog, journal, novel or other. I think, “I’ll do that tomorrow, first thing.” We get right to work on his paperwork.

I change out of my workout clothes. I never did work out. And now, I have to get ready for work.

Pressed, dressed and showered, make-up on, hair done. I still have an hour. I look at the recording studio. I am supposed to be writing music, a minimum of an hour a day. But it takes a while to turn on, boot up, I have to set up my keyboard which is already in the car for my gig. I guess I’ll do that tomorrow too.

So I do the dishes and a bit of tidying up and I’m off to work, performing at a night club.

I get home at 11 pm. The gig was okay, but I had a hard time connecting with the audience, no matter what I played. I think I felt a bit blah, and it probably showed. Now I’m feeling disappointed with myself and I’m not quite ready for bed. Hubby is sleeping peacefully. Ooh, I know! I’ll cheer myself up with a glass of wine, some chips and my favorite show on Netflicks! On goes the robe, and I watch TV for an hour. Or two.

Finally sleepy, I crawl into bed and stare at the ceiling. I look back on my day and think, “I shouldn’t have had that wine and chips right before bed. All those empty calories, and I never even got to work out. Aaand, another day went by and I didn’t touch my art. Too bad I didn’t have time. Tomorrow, then.”

 

Well, its tomorrow. Again. Let’s revisit this, shall we?

 

I get up. Reach for my snuggly soft robe. Tackle my own hand away from that cuddly time-bandit and put on my workout clothes instead. Oops. Hubby’s on the work-out bike already. No worries. I’ll write my blog now.

An hour later I’ve got a fun story. I’m laughing at my silly wit and feeling high from the endorphins writing gives me.

I hop on the bike and the phone rings. I don’t answer, I text back, “Can I call you on my way to work this afternoon?”

“Sure!” Is the answer. That was easy!

I have a great workout! Now my endorphins have endorphins!

I’m about to jump in the shower, excited to get into the recording studio. I can already tell I’ll write some good music, my creative juices are really flowing. But my hubby asks, “Can you help me for a bit?”

I feel a stab of disappointment. I’m glad to help, but doing book-keeping is a huge waste of endorphins—endorphins that I worked hard to build up, so I could have that creative energy. I feel a stab of guilt too, at thinking of saying no, when I know he needs my help. “Can we work in a couple of hours?”

“Sure,” he says, without a second thought.

So I write a song I’m excited about, and walk out of the studio brimming with satisfaction, fulfilled as an artist. Guilt-free, I cuddle up next to my hubby on the couch and we work together on my laptop. Even though its technically business, we make it “Us” time, laughing and being silly in-between the number crunching.

Time for me to go to work. I make that phone call to my friend on the way and we have a great conversation.

On stage, I’m really happy and it shows, and the audience is wonderful. I feel so lucky and blessed to be a musician.

I come home, and I feel like I want a reward for such a great day. I reach for a glass of wine and think, “You know what? I think my reward will be a good night’s sleep, so I can get an early start on the day tomorrow. I have so much inside of me, waiting to get out!”

Life is awesome. Really, truly awesome, like the rush of riding a galloping horse. I just have to keep my hands on the reins and keep riding forward over the next hill, or I’ll end up back in the stall before I’m ready. Sometimes moving forward means, well… saying neigh.

Moving Day: Bruised and Smiling in Paradise

Moving day. Oh joy! I’m covered with bruises from head to toe and I have a mountain of boxes in the back yard. But guess what? I have a back yard! I feel pretty darned moving-boxesblessed. There are humming birds here, by the dozens. I’ve never seen that before! A cricket slipped into the house with one of the boxes–a sign of good luck.

Champions in the form of family came with their laughter, strength and incredible stamina, hauling heavy boxes, furniture and stone. (Yup, stone. My hubby deals in stone!) I was a culprit too, with my cumbersome weighted keyboards, speakers and power amps. I am, after all, a musician! Everyone left black and blue and scraped all over, christening our new haven with their beautiful presence, positive attitudes and eyes glistening with approval. It really is a lovely place. I’m so very grateful for my heroes!

Moving day is a fresh beginning. We worked hard (really, really hard,) decided exactly what we wanted in a home, took our time and found just the right place for our needs today. A spacious office for Anthony, a recording studio for my music, a sun room for my writing space and a meandering back yard filled with trees and blossoms.

This is a home for family, for parties, for tranquil breakfasts outside with musical birds–and for creativity.

The kitchen is small, but that’s a good thing. It gave me an excuse to get my mother’s hutch out of storage and fill it with my favorite dishes and glasses. Now when I open the front door I am greeted with a wave of nostalgia, seeing a piece from my childhood home in Oregon breathing life again. My dad will be thrilled when he sees the hutch—since Mom passed he is so lonely for memories of the life he had with her.

When I write, I always attempt to find a peaceful, pretty place that fills me with serenity. This garden is filled with artists’ nooks and crannies. Right now I am outside  looking at the mountain of boxes and the bruises they gave me, and I smile. The boxes are empty, my heart is full, my soul is fed. I think wonderful things are about to happen. I know they are. A cricket told me.

Ode to a Pen

A writer with ink makes a rainy day shinepen

A terrible dragon, an angel divine

 

Turns words into heroines, letters to gore

From pages to sages and paper to lore

 

The throne: author’s rickety desk and a chair

The castle: bohemian vagabond lair

The chariot: Hand-me-down car needing paint

The banquet: Lap leftovers on a chipped plate

 

Mightier than the sword, so they say

Endlessly scribbling from night into day

Hours on end with a modern day quill

If only this pen could just pay one bill…

In Memory of Jimmy McShane: An excerpt from my Journal, June 2006

Jimmy McShaneThe world lost an amazing man, whom I am honored to call friend. Jimmy McShane was a rock star of a manager and entrepreneur, and lived life like an explosion of joy and positive energy. He filled a room with his presence, and if you were lucky enough to be his friend, he made you feel like the most important person in the world. He worked with me at Scalini back in 2006, and I pulled up a journal entry that makes me smile. I wanted to share it– a great night, with Jimmy being Jimmy!

 

Thursday night, the band Hall and Oates were playing down the street at the fairgrounds.

Jimmy McShane, my friend and effervescent manager, said with exuberance, “Hall and Oates is coming here after the show! Maybe they’ll discover you!”

I laughed it off, and Jimmy kept teasing me.

Jimmy is very eccentric, and everyone always likes him—he gets away with so much because he’s just so gregarious and fun!

Anyway, after the band came in, (the dining room—I was in the bar) he dragged me over to meet the band. I met Darryl Hall, the big star, and T-Bone, his really nice bass player, and a handsome P.R. guy named Justin. I politely greeted them, and was very surprised to hear them really, sincerely complimenting me, one musician to another. They treated me as a peer and really made me feel good. They loved my bluesy style and Darryl said I played piano just like him.

Jimmy was over the top, and started shouting playfully, “You can’t steal her—please don’t steal her away from Scalini!”

So funny!

Anyway, I walked back to the piano, and the room was empty of all customers by now, except the three musicians in the dining room and Jimmy. It was time for me to pack up and go home, but just then they finished their dinner and sat at my piano bar.

To make a long story short, we had a blast, and I played an extra two hours, just for them. T Bone was the first to join me, by hanging over the piano sideways and kicking bass on my Korg keyboard. I laughed and relinquished my “axe,” moving my left hand down to double the bass on the piano, and soon Darryl came running to the other side of me, vamping solos on my Korg as I played piano with my right hand. Jimmy was pumping his fists, so happy to get such a crazy personal concert! They wanted to hear my originals, so I just played and played, and we were laughing and they were singing along. Finally, Darryl sat at the piano and played for me, with T Bone kicking bass and Jimmy just about passing out with exuberance shouting,  “You can’t have her! She’s ours! No stealing Rose!” What an awesome night!

 

A Question

poppy 2Shh. Listen to the music
Bullets zing
Hear the sound of drums in the distance—a muffled percussion of bombs
A whistle. Pretty in any other place. Not this place
A grand flurry, a timpani roll of crumbling destruction
This is the music of hate

of               fear

of

war

Shh. Listen to the silence
Of no breath, no heartbeat
The music is gone, it has done its deed
It is hungry and spent, and will rest until it can feast again
On intolerance
And replenish on revenge

Strange song in the quiet
So discreet the hunger does not hear
A little red poppy pokes its head through rubble and steel
A curious child kneels to look
And is surprised to hear, barely hear
The uncurling of leaves

“What did you learn from the ruins today?” asks his grandfather

If I Were a Spider

If I were a spider, said sheweb
I would spin beautiful silk patterns morning to night
I would dance and sail on my thread and laugh at the thrill of it

Children would stop by with wide eyes to admire my work
And I would feel grateful and proud
To make a quick busy pattern just for them, to their oohs and ahhs

I would fill their curious minds with a love for nature
And teach by demonstration
The value of even such a small creature as I

At the end of my busy day I could look back at my work
and know the world was somehow the better for it

If I were a spider, said he, I would spin an intricate fortress
Stronger than steel, mightier than a blade

A noble sentinel with a code
I would wage no war against those who passed by
But only capture those who trespassed my kingdom

I would acknowledge the innocence of the unwitting travelers
Yet obey the rules of nature
And sacrifice them for my sustenance
With due honor and reverence
Wrapping them first, in my finest silk

If attacked—if my fortress were beaten down
By careless humankind
Only then would I attack
To avenge my realm’s ruin
And though it be my death, I would bite without mercy
For my fortress be my progeny, my legacy, my sustenance, my soul

If I were a spider, said I…
But I am not

Next time, perhaps, I will take the time to notice
The wonder of a spider

Misty Morning

The sun is sleeping behind a cloud

The world looks different today

Colors quiet to shades of pastel

 

I am aware of the air

With delight I breathe in sparkles

And breathe out clouds

 

My hot tea teases the chill

With its dance of steam

 

Everything is soft

Soft as my sweater

 

Rest, dear sun

Let the rain diamonds shine today

You’ll have your turn tomorrow

Memorial Day Contemplations

FlagI dreamed of being a hero. Putting on Mother’s old dresses and twirling around like a dandelion seed in the wind. I didn’t sip tea with dolls, I rode horses and fought imaginary villains and leapt over molten lava, swinging from a rope on a tree. Yes, my Barbie kissed her boyfriend but she also went over cliffs tied to a string, on her brave mission. I wanted to save the world.

I dreamed of being an artist. Too impatient to finish college I drove to Los Angeles to be a musician. From dive bars to famous recording studios, I wrote songs that made me ache, that meant something, that said something, that made people feel. I wanted to leave my mark in the world.

I dreamed of a peaceful world. I taught my children to be kind, to share, to turn the other cheek. To soar like birds in their own way, and to help others find their wings. War, in any flavor, was wrong. I wanted to shelter my children.

I dreamed of a perfect world, but life zigged and zagged me through paths I couldn’t steer against, through tragedy I could not erase, through mistakes I could not fix. I dreamed of a perfect world, but instead I grew in wisdom and strength. With that came an elusive inner peace, which is there when I remember to look.

I woke up on Memorial Day. I remember with gratitude the heroes who fought, the artists who stirred our souls to action, the peacemakers who gave us hope, and the blind perfectionists who screamed in the wind until their message dissipated to compromise and change.

The F-Bomb: Friend or Foe?

I am searching for an answer. bomb

Not to the “Why are we here?” type of question. I just want to know if a writer like me should use the F-bomb. The F@*# word. That frigging, fragging, flipping, flurping notorious expletive that either disgusts or delights us.

When I was a kid, raised in a rural town in Oregon, the word was a big fat naughty no-no. Little old ladies would faint at the sound, and the word on the street was, “The F word is eeeee‑vil!” I never once said it, fearing a lightning-bolt might take me out.

As a teenager, I heard some of the really tough kids use that word, as they threw knives at each other’s feet playing chicken. (What else is there to do when it rains for nine months straight?) Anyway, once again the conclusion was, only a knife-yielding delinquent would use that word.

I went to college, and soon found a correlation between drinking too much Schlitz malt liquor and people dropping that F-Bomb. Still, I held out, my virgin lips sticking to phrases like “Gosh darn it, who moved the keg?”

I moved to California as a musician, started a family, and even got involved in a church for a time. Not very conducive to swearing. I wanted to be a good person, be a good example, I wanted to look back on my life and say I never hurt anybody. People called me “Sweet” and “So nice!” and “Such an angel!” They even called me Saint Rose, I kid you not.

Yeah. I was nice. But where was my backbone? When did I take a stand and ruffle a feather or two? I had political opinions but kept them to myself because I had both very conservative religious friends and far left liberal atheist friends. I was a mamby-pamby milktoast girl with a strong sense of self on the inside, and a weenie on the outside. I walked my career as a musician without stepping on any cracks. I tiptoed through my song choices with caution and frosting. Mick Jagger swaggered and sang deliciously naughty things that most of society played to their children. Me? I changed words around to make them G rated, deflating the fun balloon till it was a limp piece of rubber that was no longer interesting.

One day I woke up and decided I was going to be me. Just me, without all the frosting and rose-colored glasses. I made an effort to express my true opinions and feelings, and wondered if I’d still have friends at the end of the day. You know what? I got a great big “Bravo, it’s about time!” from pretty much everyone!

I work hard every day to lose old habits, and try to never repress. Now I sing what I want to sing. I rarely mess with lyrics. I write stories too, and try to stretch my characters beyond my own limitations. And now… I swear at my computer sometimes. Okay, lots of times. And yes, now and then, alone at home, I’ll drop that F bomb, because it releases anger and somehow makes me feel better in the moment. And then I go put a quarter in the jar. (Okay, just kidding about the jar.)

Last week I sat down to write a story. I had a blank slate, no idea or outline, I just put my hands on the keyboard and started typing. What came out surprised me, in a very wonderful way. It was a story called Cali’s Mojo. The story was me, if I hadn’t been such a conventional people-pleaser. Unlike me, she lost her parents when she was twelve and became a runaway. Unlike me, she spoke her mind—all of it. Unlike me, she did exactly what she needed to do without compromise.

And unlike me, she used the F-bomb in public.

I finished the story, and remembered my younger self who was so shocked by that word. I thought, do I owe it to others to be considerate? Should I remove the word? I have a whole arsenal of lovely cuss words to choose from that aren’t as repugnant to some.

Then I thought, “Hell no!” Sorry. I meant “Heck no! I will not slide back into that person who has to weigh everybody else’s opinion and lose myself in the process.”

Still, I’m a mother. A mother who told my own children it was a bad word. But I am a different me now. And Cali—the protagonist in my story—she’s different too. All my characters are different.

My instinct and promise to myself, was to be absolutely true to the character. She’s an edgy street-smart runaway who doesn’t give a flying… fig what people think. I want to be more like her. Who am I if I am just me, without wringing my hands and wondering what everyone else thinks of me? That’s the person I am desperately trying to be true to, so she can come out of the closet, so to speak.

I got so wrapped up in the question, “To swear, or not to swear,” that I decided to ask three people:

I asked my husband, who read Cali’s Mojo. I got a bowl me over, adamant, “Absolutely you cannot take the F word out. It’s who she is. You can’t sugar coat your writing.”

I asked my fourth grade teacher, whom I greatly respect and who is a published writer herself. She wrote me a very balanced letter saying she is old-school and one of those who finds the word boring and unnecessary. She also respected very much, the fact that I even asked her opinion.

I asked my sister, a High School English teacher who also helps me edit sometimes. She said, “It’s okay to skip the F-bomb, but don’t take away from her authenticity—she’s no priss! She is tough and strong.”

Cali would never have asked the question at all. She’d probably give me an earful just for writing this piece and questioning my unfiltered expression. I believe, after much thinking, that I will not filter. I endeavor to be the writer that does not censor herself. I write what flows from me, authentic and true. I may offend those who, like the old me, are weary of that word. I may offend people who don’t like my subject matter. I may offend people just for being me. But that’s okay. I know I am loved for who I am, too. And at the end of the day, I need to honor the artist.