“All My Kids Play the Drums”

“All my kids play the drums,” my father said during the early days of discovery after we made our first adult contact. (My father was serving in the Naval Air Force overseas when I was born and before he returned home, my mother had broken up with him via a “Dear John” letter and  married somebody else.)

Anyway, back to the drums. This was quite an illuminating moment for me because drums had always been my “guilty secret.” I mean, what kind of nice girl loves the music to the “Stripper” as played on that Gillette commercial? lol! Me, that’s who. I could never understand this draw to the drums until that moment.

I’d discovered my family’s whereabouts through the Internet before social media existed. The first contact was with one of my father’s brothers. He was the one who said, “Welcome to the family. Now that you know you’re a Holmes, you’re going to want to pay attention to music.”

I’d always loved music, sang in the school choir, even soloed, had taken piano lessons, become quite bored with the scales, my step dad taught me a few chords on the guitar, and the school music teacher insisted I take some kind of instrument because I had such a great “ear.” I chose the violin – ick! If only I’d known the drums were my instrument – lol! Or at least beats as this former Disco queen is discovering all kinds of EDM.


The Day I Died

According to my mother, I died the day she was called to school to speak to a counselor in my junior year of high school after moving from sunny Southern California to the gloomy, rainy, dreary grey skies of Oregon. She yanked me out of school, scaring me half out of my mind. I asked, “What’s wrong?”

She said, “Somebody died!”

My heart thundered in my ears as my fear escalated. I asked, “Who?”

“You!” she said with force in that dramatic way of hers when she wanted to control a situation.

The truth is, my English teacher and I had had a misunderstanding about the due dates of a particular project. I thought I was supposed to hand in the paper at the end, but, according to her, I hadn’t been handing in my weekly papers. I had no idea it was supposed to be weekly. How I could have misunderstood that, I’ll never know, because I was an “A” Honor Roll student. This was a new progressive school, unlike any I’d known before, with study periods sprinkled throughout the day in various study nooks. It made sense to me that the project was due at the end of the term – like my science paper.

The situation escalated when the school counselor called my mother in to meet with him. Mind you, none of this was known to me until the day my mother yanked me out of school, declaring my death. The counselor supposedly said, “When a student changes this much in a short amount of time, they’re usually on drugs.”

Drugs? Now I was supposed to be on drugs due to a misunderstanding? Drugs were the last thing on my mind. This was the late ’60s/early ’70s when adults were hyper watchful and suspicious about kids taking drugs. Of course, I only have my mother’s word for this conversation. As I would discover much, much later in life, it was difficult to know the truth about anything because she lied even when there was no reason to lie.

But she might be right about that moment being the day I died, because, honestly, I think I died as soon as she’d decided to leave our beautiful new home in Orange County, California where I had the best year of my life. As editor-in-chief of the school yearbook in the first graduating class, I had many privileges such as being the first editor and naming the yearbook, singing in the choir, and even featured as a soloist in the spring program. Life was looking pretty rosy in that moment.

Not only did we leave this beautiful home, friends, and family and school, but we moved to Oregon and lived in an old 1930s farm house where the kids’ bedrooms were all upstairs where there was no heat. My small container of water I kept for my eye liner froze over. That’s how cold it was.

Not to mention our enrollment in her mother’s religious cult (Jehovah’s Witnesses) where we gave up birthdays, Christmas, in fact, all holidays had to go plus that door-to-door pushing JW magazines with the threat of total destruction at Armageddon, thereby, avoiding “bad associations” (“worldly” friends at school) and the places they hung out (the choir, and all school activities beyond the required). And then there were the male chauvinistic elders who policed our behavior. Eventually, I was totally indoctrinated.

But God had plans to turn things around for me. Fast forward twenty-five years when I met a lovely Christian man at work and we both converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church in Cupertino, California and experienced the most amazing Sacramental Orthodox wedding.

When I informed my mother of this decision, she called me at work (again, for the most dramatic effect), and said she’d called to “Say good-bye.” As a Jehovah’s Witness, she officially would have to “shun” me. Of course, she admitted later that she never really believed in the religion and didn’t consider herself spiritual at all. I concluded it was more of a crutch, a tool to control, than it was any deeply held religious beliefs.

From that moment on, I set out on a journey to find the truth about so many things, including my biological father, which led to discovering the type of person my mother really was. Looking back, I see that, not only did she deprive me of my father and the rest of that side of the family who all lived within thirty minutes of our home, but then she took me completely away from the place I called home, leaving behind everything that was important to me.

Much later I would discover there’s a name for mothers like that and the daughters who must endure their cruelty. They’re called “Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers.” or DONM. We hear the word “narcissist” tossed around lightly on social media these days but this is something far more than what we might think. One book I recommend is “Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistc  Mothers.”

Soon after I met my father, I wrote about meeting my father for the first time and the lessons learned in Myths of the Fatherless but often my fiction has a similar theme. One work in progress is called “She’s Not That Good.” I’m also working on an album I’m calling, “Fathers and Other Strangers.”

So my real life didn’t end at all back then, but the real life I was supposed to live just began.


The Long Way (Song of the Day)

Not sure how much more poetry I’ll be writing this month. Even yesterday’s poem was more song lyric than poem. Besides, I’m rushing to get all of my evaluations done from NSAI before this year’s membership expires next month. So I’m pretty much focusing on songs, not poems or novels.

So I’m listening to The Long Way and had to laugh out loud at the line “Your hand-me-down ’99 Impala.” Not only would that be in the category of “who cares” when it comes to classic cars you would mention in a song, but there is no such thing as a ’99 Impala – Chevy took a hiatus from making them from 1997-2000. And notice in the video, they’re driving a ’63 Impala – that’s a classic worth mentioning and I had one.

I’m so annoyed by some people today just making things up. Dude, how hard is it to check your facts on the internet? Facts don’t seem to matter to them.

But I do have hope. The idea behind writing this song was of  “… having a real conversation because we don’t have these anymore…” paraphrasing what Brett Eldridge said when Matt Rogers brought this idea to him in their first songwriting session (Taste of Country). Kudos to them for realizing this and doing their part to, maybe, turn this thing around. (And for those getting wise to Facebook and other social media.)

Technology should be our servant, not our master.


Is This Love? (#poem #NaPoWriMo #lyrics)

I don’t know how to say what I mean
Whenever I’m around you
I feel myself blush and my cheeks grow hot
Whenever I’m near you
I can’t eat my salad when we meet for lunch
Sitting across from you

I dream of you late at night
I can’t keep my eyes off you when you’re in sight
Is this love?
Is this a crush?
Are we friends?
With benefits?

Time speeds by when we’re together
Be still my beating heart
Time slows to a painful crawl like an LA freeway
Whenever we’re apart
No more questions, now I know
These are the thoughts of a woman in love

#NaPoWriMo, #CampNanoWriMo, #LogicProX: Making Tough Choices

The closer it gets to April 1st, the more overwhelmed I am about trying to do CampNano (novel), NaPo (poems), and  LogicProX (music production) classes. It ain’t gonna happen. 🙂

Something’s gotta give and it’s going to be CampNano. Ouch! I have such mixed feelings about it. I’ve been trying to write both music and novels but, really, they use two different sides of the brain and it’s tough switching back and forth.

Oh sure, I sometimes see a scene and I’ll write it down and that’s fine. And sometimes writing is not only a much needed break but a break from so much technology. (Learning signal flow in Logic Pro reminds me of Mixed Signal Design Flow back at Cadence in the glory days so yes, I can do it eventually). But I don’t think I can sign up to officially pursue it all at once. Not really.

April is Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo #CampNaNoWriMo)

I’ve been gearing up for writing 30 poems in 30 days for #NaPoWriMo this April but I’ve just learned of #CampNaNoWriMo (April version of #NaNoWriMo–Novel Writing Month). Something has got to give! After #FAWM (February Album Writing Month), I’ve decided that perhaps I should give my ears a break and write a novel and poetry instead. I can gear back up for 50/90 (50 Songs in 90 Days) from July-October.

I’ve never been a fan of these writing challenges before but, somehow, where I am in life is leading me to loving them.

I’d just joined TAXI, I still have two months of NSAI membership, recently enrolled in a Logic Pro X Music Production class and got some new killer speakers, so I am feeling a bit guilty about putting music aside to focus on other writing. But, I tell myself, it’s only for one month. I still have time for 50/90, and I still have time for the TAXI Road Rally in November.

Let’s see how this year plays out.

Becoming One With Your DAW: Empowering Women in Music Production

I started out with GarageBand and there’s something about it being so approachable, especially for females, that really moved me forward in my music production career. And why I post that quote in my header. More women need to be empowered to engage in this male-dominated industry.

A few outstanding women who have helped me in some way are Dot Bustello, a former Apple employee and Logic Pro expert. She talks about becoming “one with Logic Pro,” because it (or your DAW of choice) is your instrument. You must practice like you would a piano or guitar. I’m still working on this — so much to learn! Logic Pro is what I use most of the time now, although sometimes I still pull up GarageBand to get some tracks down when an idea strikes me. And I’ve also dabbled in Ableton Live and ProTools.

Another female-empowering woman is Berklee Professor Erin Barra who teaches Ableton Live.

And then there’s the Azalea Music Group’s “Empowering Women in Audio Recording & Production Clinic” coming up in Nashville, which looks to be amazing. Wish I could be there!

Rockin’ Like Joan Jett

I don’t know what made me do it, maybe it was listening to the fabulous music on the Music City reality TV show, or maybe it was the rejection email for “She’s Not That Good” proposal, which was a relief because I totally wanted to take the story a different direction, but I started thinking about Joan Jett and how my character should be on that trajectory. I listened to “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and had to record a bit of chorus as inspiration, thinking rock might be my genre.

In last night’s TAXI TV show with Grammy award winning music producer Rob Chiarelli as guest, my ears perked up when he talked about the stages you go through in your music. That you start imitating some of your favorites before you move onto creating your own music of that calibre. I think I’m still in the imitation phase. My own music isn’t quite there, although “Everybody Lies” is close.

My version, vocals on chorus only, music from free Karaoke site:



Grandmother Margaret’s House: Warming up for NaPoWriMo

With NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) approaching quickly (April 1st), I’ve been reading some new books about writing and getting in the mood to get back to my writing. Why not start with a story about Grandmother Margaret’s house in California, so reminiscent of my new house here in Florida.

Lying awake at night in this new house in a new town, reclining on the red hot living room sofa with two cats on my lap, I stare up at the ceiling and the Craftsman detail dividing the living room from the kitchen reminds of my grandmother’s house in a small rural town in Southern California where “there are more horses than cars,” my grandmother said.

What struck me about the ruralness of the area were the vertical street signs or posts really. My beach town was far more citified with regular street signs and an individual, impersonal attitude.

We pulled into the yard of my grandmother’s house where she lived with her second husband and dear, dear man, Jim, who we called “Papa” and parked our car behind hers, approaching the front porch where she met us.

The living room was now the full width of the house after it had been opened up and the master bedroom relocated to the garage off the kitchen with a small connecting passageway. Like my current house, the kitchen separated the living room from the dining area, covering a good portion of the width of the house, flanked by the only other bedroom. In our case, it’s our master bedroom.

So lying on the couch looking up at the ceiling, noting the Craftsman detail where the ceiling and walls connect, I’m taken back to my grandmother’s house in Mira Loma.

I would awaken hearing her “Kingdom” music playing. Her sing song voice would greet me with a warm, “Good morning, Kathy” as if I was somebody special. She often had guests staying over. One particular couple was sleeping on the grass in the backyard and when I asked her about them, she said, “They’re outdoors people.”

I also remembered meeting a couple without kids and I was quite fascinated by that. To me, families with kids were poor, drove old cars, and didn’t seem that happy. I wanted my freedom, to travel often with clothes hanging neatly in the back seat like I saw in other couples’ cars on the freeways in L.A. I wanted a nice car and a nice house.

Various cousins were also often staying over at “Nany’s” as she was called, coined by the first grandchild, a boy named Ted. I’m not sure I liked the idea of calling my grandmother by the name some other kid had given her but I suppose that’s normal in families.

I think about her stepping in and taking care of various grandchildren, with daughters who seemed overwhelmed by the reality of motherhood but I suppose this stepping in was natural to someone who had grown up in a large family in Colorado, although many had also made their way to California. I wonder if I would have had a different opinion of all of this chaos if I had known her family better. They were strangers to me that we saw on rare family reunions.

One of my cousins and I would practice playing “door-to-door,” gray leather book bag in hand with various pieces of literature placed inside. My cousin said I could never pretend that I wasn’t a Jehovah’s Witness. Although calling myself a Jehovah’s Witness seemed foreign to me because my mother, other than pretending to attend meetings and hiding any signs of Christmas and flags, didn’t seem very interested in her mother’s religion.

One of the funniest, well, funny to me and perhaps others, was the time we were visiting my grandmother and when we piled into the car to return home, my grandmother came out to the car carrying a bundle and said, “Didn’t you forget something?” My newly-born sister, that’s who my mother forgot.

A couple of years before my sister was born is when I learned that my dad was not my dad. That same cousin, Ted, told me this news in my grandmother’ living room, and not believing him, I ran to see my grandmother lying down on her bed in the converted garage. She invited me to rest with her and I asked her if what Ted had said was true. She denied it, although after she took me back to my house, my mother, ironing in the dining room, confirmed that it was true. I wrote about this in Myths of the Fatherless. Not another word was said about it then or ever. Nothing. It was quite a shock to me, but nobody followed up to see how I was dealing with it.

Some time later on another stay at my grandmother’s house, my grandmother gave me a letter from my father and a couple of photos of him. When we returned to my house and I showed my mother my new treasures, she insisted I give them back. According to her my “dad” would not like that. The truth is, I suspect, she didn’t like it.