An Atom’s Tale

A hydrogen atom finds its happy place
We are all made of stars…

I am a hydrogen atom. You know, one proton and all that.

How did I come to be? Well, there was this big bang, and before you know it, poof! There I was!

I am immortal, but I have no voice. I am officially a teenager today, it is my thirteenth birthday. Thirteen billionth that is, so as a gift, the Universe granted me storytelling privileges, just this once.

The cool thing about the vacuum of space is, the speed I was shot out, that’s the speed I kept. There is a lot of blackness out there, but so much beauty. Hydrogen atoms are kind of obsessed with each other, and as soon as I came in contact with another hydrogen atom, we were glued at the hip, so to speak. We traveled together for millennia, twirling and dancing, sometimes streaking along the edge of gravitational planets, bouncing off at the last minute, and continuing on our way.

We came upon a planet with a blue haze, and were instantly grabbed up by wonderful, affectionate oxygen atoms. What a party! All the hydrogen and oxygen atoms grabbing each other and dancing together. That was my first time as a water molecule. We became vapor, and lived in the troposphere of planet Earth for a while, until so many of us joined the party that we became a giant water drop and fell towards earth. We quickly evaporated, and like a roller coaster we zipped back and forth, falling, flying, falling again, until one day we turned white, and became a most glorious crystal, flitting and floating down, down, until we landed on a soft brown hand, and a little girl with a chilled nose put us on her tongue.

What a rush! Down the esophagus, stomach… we all got split up. I was absorbed into her blood stream and redistributed to her lungs, wet and pink. Lots of my oxygen friends were there, and some of them grabbed me and we flew out of her lungs, out her mouth and into the frosty air as a soft mist. I rested for a while with my friends as a pile of white snow. When the weather warmed, a lot of my friends waved goodbye and evaporated, but I was close to the brown earth, and a tree root absorbed me. It carried me up, up, through its sap, until I was sky high, and I became a part of a pine needle. I met many carbon atoms, and there were strings of atoms called esters that smelled fresh and sweet like a forest.

I was very happy. Everything was supple and green and fragrant, but after a few months, the tree was cut down. The esters still put out a pine scent for a long time, but my carbon friends started breaking apart, and the little green pine needle turned brown, and the oxygen drifted away until I was alone.

A big boot stepped on me, carrying me to a town with concrete sidewalks. I got stuck in a blob called bubble gum, and there I sat until a man with a shovel tossed me into a waste receptacle.

Lots of my aromatic ester friends were there! But they didn’t smell like pine trees, they smelled more pungent. I was grabbed by some oxygen and hydrogen party friends, and we ended up in a sweet apple core full of carbon buddies.

Eventually, a rat grabbed the apple core and ran us across the street to a warm house. A big man startled the rat, and the apple core was dropped on the lawn. The carbon atoms started breaking apart until the apple core became fertilizer for the lawn and I was evaporated along with my oxygen friends. Along came the man, just in time to breathe us in, but I never made it to the lungs. I got absorbed into his bottom lip, and he walked in the house and gave his wife a kiss. I know I am just an atom but I felt that kiss, and I felt like I was a part of something important. At first, I didn’t understand, but as I was transferred to the woman’s lip, and absorbed into her bloodstream, I was transported to a heart. But—not her heart. It was a second heart, growing in her womb. That is where I am now, on this, my thirteen billionth birthday. I have traveled the universe, but I have never felt such peace and love. If the Universe will grant me one more wish today, then I wish to stay here, and be a protector, a shield, a guardian. I, a hydrogen atom, am immortal. An atom cannot die. But there is something in a child’s heart that is immortal too. Perhaps it is the soul. I do not have the answer, I am just an atom. Perhaps on my fourteen billionth birthday, the Universe will let me know.

 

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The Transgender “Issue”

Judgment can be overcome by education. Being smarter is always a good thing. Loving more is an even better thing!

Years ago, I was walking along the shore with my preschool son when we crossed paths with a one-armed man. I did the typical avert your eyes! thing, but my son smiled at him and pointed, saying, “How come you have one arm?”

Before I could even crawl under a rock, the kind man chuckled and said, “I was born like this.”

“Oh!” said my son, whose curiosity had been sated, and he proceeded to pet the man’s dog, named Peanut. The three of us chatted a moment about the glorious day and Peanut, and we were on our way.

See? We are born innocent, like my son, with no judgment. A four-year-old still sees new things every day. Slowly but surely, life conditions us to judge.  When my son was born, I held him in my arms under the moonlight and we stared at each other. I had never seen his sweet face before that day, but he had never seen a human before that day! He was a brand new little sponge, and his perception of me had not yet been imprinted. He didn’t cry in terror at this big strange body cradling him. He had, perhaps even then, curiosity.

If we could all retain that innocent curiosity for the unknown, perhaps there would be peace in this world.

The first time I met a transgender person, I was at a restaurant, and the host had breasts, eyeliner and a five o’clock shadow. I was a bit shocked and confused—I had never even heard of such a thing. I was polite and didn’t stare, but after I left with my group of friends, we talked about it. I remember thinking it was “weird.” To be honest, I thought the person was weird. I had been conditioned to consider a person “Normal” if they fit the standard, textbook criteria for human.

The guy at the beach didn’t fit the standard, textbook criteria either, he was missing an arm, and it made me feel uncomfortable, until my young son enlightened me.

So when I learned the word Transgender, I remembered to attempt enlightenment. I read some articles, watched some documentaries and tried to open my mind a crack. I have learned that gender association happens in the womb. A person may have the genetic attributes of a male, for example, but have the brain wiring for a female. Its biology.

I came out of the womb a “standard textbook human.” What the hell is that, anyway? I have all kinds of problems and issues, just like everybody else. Mine aren’t as visible as a missing arm or male and female attributes. I suffer from mood swings, and at times, depression. Should I be hated, shunned or stared at for that?

I was a Catholic for years. I walked the walk, talked the talk, gave back to the community and all that. Catholics don’t believe in divorce. I didn’t believe in divorce. But when my marriage fell apart, I became just that—a divorcee. Everything changed after that. My relationship with God, (“How could you let this happen? I am a good person!”) my relationship with the community (“Everyone is whispering behind my back!”) and my relationship with myself (“What a hypocrite! You don’t even believe in divorce!”) I felt like I was torn in two—that the person I was, no longer existed. I also wanted to remarry eventually. Again, not the Catholic way.

It occurred to me, that God cannot love less than I can. That I am in a new skin, a skin called divorcee, and I cannot take it off. It is who I am now. I have to accept that, and I need to accept that God wants me to be happy. That is my religion now, simple and pure. God loves us and wants us to be happy. I do not believe in a cruel god. I believe in a benevolent one. The one who loves us when we find ourselves in new skin—one without an arm, or one with breasts and a five o’clock shadow, or one housing a divorced woman.

Transgender in the military? Do they belong there? I guess it depends. Are we in the military to stare at each other’s skin, or to train to protect and fight for freedom? I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d like to think of America as the land of the free and home of the brave. Feeling driven all your life to alter your gender, and following through against all judging, hateful bias—now that’s brave. Jumping into the fire, feeling like a pariah, pushing ahead anyway with what your conscience tells you to do, now that’s brave. Having the choice to follow through with such a difficult, life altering action—now that’s freedom. God bless America. And God bless Americans—all of them. Let’s each bless the Transgenders too, by supporting their journey and career choice and making them feel loved and welcome, especially if they are willing to lay down their lives for us.

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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.

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!

 

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