Fabulous Doesn’t Happen Overnight

I peeked into Facebook yesterday – the trick is to get in and get out as quickly as possible – and one of my friends was sharing pictures of her fabulous-looking Easter dinner party and wrote, “Fabulous doesn’t happen overnight.” I love that!

After a long career in technical publishing in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Silicon Valley, I’m now in a position to be a student again. I’m loving it. Not only am I studying music but I’ve also enrolled in an online Catholic studies program with a Priest. It’s like I’m circling back to pick up the things I left behind in Orange County when my family moved from Southern California to the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve changed my blog design to reflect more of that SoCal feeling, including posting a few pictures from the past and the present. Don’t believe what you see on Real Housewives of Orange Countythese are the real people.

CarolMerrillKathy1High school friends and singing performance

LosAmigos1Concert Choir with Mr. Vaughn

lahsHigh school – now – so fun to revisit

KathiBFF in high school – now

disneyland_then_nowcoverMain Street Disneyland then
and same place on Main Street Disneyland now

My life is pretty fabulous and Joan is right – fabulous doesn’t happen overnight!

Why I Love Celibate Priests

I’m so renewed after Easter (you can read my report on SoCal/Disney Girl). So now I’m on a roll with blogging this morning… guess I’ll just jump right in with my next topic.

In the Eastern Orthodox/Catholic tradition, priests can marry as long as they do it before their vows. In the Western tradition, of course, priests do not marry. I’ve been blessed by both but I especially love celibate priests.

Sunday’s reading in Praying with Saint Mark’s Gospel, written by a priest, illustrates this point:

“Parents sometimes exaggerate the talents of their children, using them to reach goals they themselves could not achieve because of their own lack of talent or resources… Teachers today complain that when they give a low grade to their students or discipline them for disrupting class, parents no longer back them up but defend their children as if they were angels or geniuses or both.”

“Heavenly Father, keep us from self-delusion and help us face ourselves as we really are so that we can be apostles of truth to others.”

This priest is a truth-teller. He isn’t blindsided as a parent; therefore, he isn’t defensive. I love that. Why?

I can go to a priest as the father I’m searching for. I can feel like I have his undivided attention because he isn’t thinking about his wife and kids. I can feel understood, even share a bit of kinship with him because I, too, do not have kids. He understands that the parental call isn’t for everyone, even if those with kids just think you don’t know what you’re missing.

I enormously respect those parents who realize that parenthood isn’t for everyone; I respect even more those who confess that maybe it wasn’t really for them but they gave into society’s pressure to be like everybody else. Often these people are called “artists.”

I respect my friends with children who don’t make it their identity but seamlessly include their children as part of who they are, but, at the same time, can relate to me as a person, even though I don’t have children.

This world makes it very lonely for artists and those without children, but we must remain true to our call (unless it changes along the way).



“Is a Songwriter a Writer or Musician?” and other misunderstandings on Facebook

After I posted my previous blog post on Facebook “Musicians Don’t Blog,” a friend on Facebook wrote, “Is a songwriter a writer or musician?” I said it’s both. While there are still lyricists, most songwriters play an instrument, sing, and write the lyrics.

In my case, I’m playing the keys, singing, and writing lyrics. Of course, if this friend had read the actual post or read my blog much at all, they’d know the whole story. Like the fact that I’m enrolled in a “Modern Musicianship” certificate program at Berklee College of Music and songwriting is part of the overall musicianship curriculum.

This is the problem with Facebook – people often don’t look beyond the post – even when you’ve posted a link to a blog explaining what you’re really trying to say. And then they respond to what they *think* you’re talking about, which, for me, is often not the case. Or maybe I’m misunderstanding what they’re saying – both are possible.

For many of us, we can’t say what we really want to say in a Facebook status – that’s why we blog and that’s why we post the link to the blog. So you can read it and understand it. But most people on Facebook aren’t interested in that.

But those aren’t the only misunderstandings on Facebook. When a friend’s daughter was worried that the picture posted wasn’t that flattering, I said something about when you’re older you’ll look back on those pictures a little more fondly.

And then another friend directed her response to me, insisting that the girl is beautiful, not only in the picture but in person. Well, there’s no doubt about her beauty – she’s quite stunning – and I wasn’t saying she wasn’t. But there you go… just another misunderstanding on Facebook.

Like many, I’ve deleted my Facebook account oodles of times but still come back. But maybe the right approach is to do what many others are doing – keep the account but just let it sit there idle. Facebook makes me unhappy; yet, I keep coming back. Even though I feel pretty good about myself and my life until I go online.

In my search, I discovered this article “Addicted to Facebook? It May Be time to Rethink Your Priorities.” I found it to be brilliant and exactly what I’ve been experiencing. He also mentions the book, The Facebook Diet.


Some people swear by Facebook; others swear at it. And if it works for you, hallelujah! But for those it doesn’t work, we need to take control over this thing so that it doesn’t control us. Because one of the problems listed is that you become dependent on Facebook for your social life, even when it’s so unsatisfying, and you don’t go out and make friends in-person. Guilty as charged. And I intend to do something about that.



dreamsWe just watched I’ll See You in My Dreams with Doris Day and Danny Thomas about the life of songwriter Gus Kahn. The Doris Day character told Gus that most people don’t know how to say, “I love you” and so he wrote a gazillion love songs to say it for them. It was a fun movie!

In my first songwriting class, some people said we should branch out and write about things other than romantic love. That was good to hear because I’d already started writing a song about friendships.

Looking at my friends’ pictures from a recent trip to Hawaii on Facebook, I shed a tear of joy as I can still see that special smile on a friend’s face. I realized how that smile evokes a feeling of security from the past. And how sad I was and am that I had to part from such friends – not only geographically but the parting when life takes you in different directions. I missed out on so many things in their lives.

We were once a trio of friends and when we weren’t all three together, one of us was with the other one. Even when we went to different high schools, we chatted on the phone, went to the beach and Disneyland, saw Glen Campbell at the OC County Fairgrounds, attending each other’s school events, I introduced them to one of my classmates (a guy) who was in the choir with me (I had my eye on a different guy), and we stayed over at each other’s houses. So it was super fabulous when they surprised me at our wedding (we didn’t ask for an RSVP, so it turned out to be such a fun surprise).

I reunited with another friend online a few years back and when she read Real Women Wear Red, she said she saw me in it. I was really pleased that so many years later, a part of me was still intact and she recognized it in the book. I wanted the guy who wanted her but she didn’t want him.

I also met up with another friend on Facebook – a friend from elementary school – she was the one sitting in the audience with this guy during the spelling bee and I, so consumed with jealousy, lost the spelling bell on such a simple word – quarrel – lol! But then she told me, “Alan talked about you the whole time. :)

These friendships – those early friendships that remain in your heart throughout the years even though you may have gone separate ways – are the inspiration for the song I’m writing. It’s really a compilation of all of my women friendships into one woman I’m writing about in the song. It started out as “Candy Apple Red Shoes,” although “shoes” may or may not stay in the song – it may simply be “Candy Apple Red.”


Musicians Don’t Blog

Now that I’m focusing on music more than on writing fiction, I have to ask myself, “Should I continue to blog?” It seems that musicians don’t blog. And ever since I switched my focus, I’ve noticed that readers seem to have disappeared. :)

Writers scour the internet looking for tips and anything that will move them forward in writing and publishing and gaining a readership. I’ve now been at it long enough that I seem to be one of the “old-timers.” There are so many new writers out there hungry for information.

But what about musicians? Where are they? Apparently, they’re playing or writing music. Their hands are busy. :)

Yet, I must blog because besides my love for music, I’m also a writer. I chose to focus on writing before and my music was neglected. Now is the time for music.

My current class is about harmony and ear training. I remember my elementary school music teacher calling up my mother and telling her that I must play an instrument. “She has such a good ear for music,” she said. My mother (who is not musical) thought musical instruments were far too expensive, but the teacher insisted the school would provide one.

So what did I choose? The violin. Ugh. Guitars and the Beatles were all the rage but a guitar in music class was unheard of. But the violin and I never clicked. I’d received a small electric organ for my seventh birthday and I loved playing that.

Anyway, there I was in violin class, which I tried to avoid with the excuse that my E string broke when, in fact, the E string was not even in use in class. Ha! And then when my parents watched the Lawrence Welk show, well, whenever they showed the string section I held my breath, hoping my mother wouldn’t ask if I’d practiced that day. :)

I soon moved on to the piano when a neighbor sold theirs to us at a very reasonable price, but I disliked starting out with such boring songs. I regret now that I didn’t stick with it back then. My step dad taught me a few chords on the guitar but sore fingers and the awkwardness of positioning the instrument, well, I soon tossed that aside, too.

I tried playing the piano again when I was in my twenties, but didn’t stick with it. I regret that also. I’m loving it now so maybe I’m just ready. But I have to say, the type of instruction I’m getting is far more relevant and that’s what I needed all along. Or maybe playing the keys in the context of writing music is more appealing to me.

In high school I sang in the choir and performed as a soloist. But after that, my singing was reserved for driving my car with the windows rolled down, radio blasting, and singing in church. People around me complimented me on my voice.

I did join a singing group in my twenties with my ex, but he was super competitive (with me) and totally ruined that. I soon dropped out.

When my super supportive soul mate husband and I moved to Las Vegas, I started taking voice lessons. My vocal coach, who was starring in Mamma Mia!, said I had a great ear for music. There we go again – compliments about my ear. Well, that ear is paying off in this class. The final assignment will be creating a blues riff and I’m looking forward to working on that.

And then back to songwriting class. I think that now that I’ve had this harmony/ear training class that it will move me along in songwriting. And then, of course, music production. It’s far too reminiscent of immersing myself in technology as a technical writer (been doing that far too long and hoping to take a break from that) but it’s important to know how to produce your own music today.

By the end of the year, I hope to have written/produced a real song and along with that, earned a certificate in Modern Musicianship.

And just like The Daring Novelist blogs about her writing progress, so I, too, blog about my music progress. I like her attitude. She inspires me. So I, too, will adopt her motto:

“Daring to live life as a full time writer, with or without success.”

Changing it to read:

“Daring to live life as an artist, with or without success…”


The Opposite of Maybe: A Novel

Sandi Kahn Shelton aka Maddie Dawson knows how to create wild and wacky and fascinating characters. This is what I love most about her books. She is a fabulous storyteller, and she knows how to tell a story that many women can relate to. In this case, The Opposite of Maybe hit a little too close to home for me.

In another post, I said that I related more to Jonathan because he was artistic and wasn’t like the average norm. I really don’t think I’m like Rosie, although I understand the story she’s telling. And I’m getting all flummoxed the way the story is heading – that she will not choose the father of the child and will choose the other guy instead. This is what the modern woman is cheering on. I am not.

Beware of the guy hanging around the pregnant woman while her pregnancy hormones are raging.

From The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson:

He gives her a funny smile, and then he pulls her over to him and wraps his arms around her and looks down into her eyes. And then he kisses her. His mouth is warm and insistent on hers, and she feels herself buckle, as if she’d never had a first kiss before. She puts her arms around his neck, and she kisses him back. That’s the most surprising, remarkable thing, she thinks, the way she’s just willing to let herself slide right into this with no fight to her at all. But in her own defense, it has been so long since anybody has kissed her, and she has been watching him for so many days and weeks— his arms, his hands, the way his hair flops. His eyes. Oh God  …   and she has such rampaging pregnancy hormones.

And when she finds out how her mother really left her:

“I wish I didn’t know. I wish you didn’t tell me.”

Soapie looks at her sadly. “I know. I wish I didn’t have to tell you either.”

“Maybe I should have never known. Why did you tell me now?”

“Sometimes we have to know things just because they’re true. And you can handle it now. We both can. It had a hold on us long enough.”

It had a hold on us long enough!

The good news is that the truth finally came out and so the lie can let go of its hold on the relationship. I’m curious to see if her biological father will enter the picture and what he will say.

Will he ask the adult daughter the question he’s longed to know the answer to for most of his life? Will he say, “Why did she do it?” hoping for the impossible answer he needs to hear and wondering if she had ever regretted her decision.

In the end, the story will break my heart. But for most people out there, they’ll rejoice because they believe that romantic love trumps all and to hell with a child needing the security and love of their own father growing up.