Skeletons in Tinseltown

Heroes we looked up to are letting us down
The skeletons are tumbling out the doors of Tinseltown
Powerful producers, actors that we loved
Slammed by allegations, crashing one by one

You got to be careful who you idolize
Don’t get caught up in superficial lives
Under the spotlight, scrutinized
I’m grateful for my simple life.


When you realize you don’t really know someone


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Why does it so often seem that after a mass shooting happens, people are so shocked about the killer’s actions?

That’s been the case in many investigations, most recently the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre (I don’t even want to mention his name). His neighbors have expressed shock that someone in their quiet neighborhood committed such a horrific act. Even his brother has said multiple times in interviews that he had no idea about his brother’s gun obsession or evil intentions.

About a year ago there was another shooting – I don’t even remember the details because unfortunately they seem to happen frequently – and I had similar thoughts about the shooters’ loved ones/acquaintances. What must have gone through their heads when  they heard the news.

The initial shock at seeing someone they knew being accused of a heinous crime. Then the denial that they actually committed the crime – there must be some sort of mistake. Then anger – what were they thinking?! – and then, as time passes, the acceptance of what happened and having to move on from that.

As the investigation has unfolded these past few days about the Las Vegas shooting, and watching the interviews with the murderer’s brother, it  definitely sounds like the killer had a secret life. It reminded me of a song I wrote last year about this so I thought I’d share it here:

Home recording studio

Nearly a year after I bought myself a interface so I could record songs at home, I finally sat down and recorded some of my recent songs.

Our house is in a bit of an uproar, since our whole downstairs is in boxes and all over the place because of recent water damage and the new cabinets and floors are in the process of being replaced. So it took a little while to find all the parts – the microphone, the microphone converter and the guitar cord – and it took a few minutes to set up everything up. Fortunately there are some tutorials on YouTube so I could figure out all the settings.

Yesterday I figured out the basics and was ready to record today. I only had a few hours of the Ableton live trial left so I set aside some time this morning to record the songs. When I turned on my computer, I received a notice that my computer detected a virus and needed to scan the computer so I got that started. For the next few hours, as I was trying to record the songs, a pop-up screen popped up every minute or so so I had to keep closing it.

With an hour or so left of the trial period – and many takes on the recording – I finally got one I thought sounded good. I went to save it and my computer crashed.

True story. A blue screen error (I found out that was what it was called as I troubleshooted on my laptop.) The virtual assistant gave me instructions on what to do after the computer restarted a few times and didn’t show me the start screen, but my computer never restarted so that didn’t help. IMG_20170713_120954So I just shut down the computer. Things seem to be working so far, but unfortunately the last recording didn’t save so I had to set everything up again and try it again.

After I exported it, I made a little video using pictures from the awesome Pixabay site and here it is, my first recording using my little red interface. The song is called “Where we’ve been” and I wrote it during our trip to Las Vegas last week. I started it on the drive there, sang it all week, reworking much of the verses. I added the guitar when I got back home, made some more changes and here it is:


Going with the ebb and flow of life

My last post focused on finding myself in the place I meant to go to, but for something totally different than I expected. This past week, I realized that now that my schedule isn’t as structured as it was when I was working full-time, things seem to be moving in all sorts of unexpected directions.

For example, this is the week when the big renovations start to the bottom level of our home after the water damage earlier this year. The insurance companies involved gave their OK, the cabinets and flooring are selected and the renovations are scheduled. So the big plan last weekend and this week was to clear out everything downstairs – the bookshelves and the kitchen cabinets and whatever else to prepare for demolition/rebuilding.

But then last Thursday afternoon, the house didn’t seem to be cooling down. The temperature outside was about 119 degrees and it was starting to get a little uncomfortable inside. We called an air conditioning company, turned on all our fans and that evening endured the high-80s temperature inside. Then I spent Friday morning packing and doing a little work then me and the boys and our dog headed to my Dad’s house for the weekend. My husband stopped by at the store on the way home from work, we had Shabbat dinner at my Dad’s house and then stayed through Tuesday morning. The times we stopped back at home to pick up or drop off things, the temperature was 94-95 degrees.

Then on Sunday, the boys were supposed to sing at a little Fourth of July event, but when we got in the car and I turned the keys, the ignition made a few clicking sounds then stopped. My husband was about to leave to teach one of his students and told me that there should be a AAA receipt in the glove compartment that would have information about the battery. We had gotten a new battery nearly three years ago, under my husband’s account, and we found out that it would be replaced for free if he would be there when the technician arrived. So he rescheduled his appointment and we were able to wait in the comfort of my dad’s house – rather than in a shopping center parking lot or who knows where else  in triple-digit temperatures. And the battery was replaced for free-three months before the three-year warranty was up. The following day, I had an appointment for an oil change scheduled and at that time we likely would have discovered the battery problem during the appointment, but I probably wouldn’t have thought to look in the glove department for the AAA receipt.

So here I am today, with the air conditioning cooling our house and feeling extremely grateful that we had a cool place to go while we were waiting for it to be repaired. And though our house is currently in a state of disorder, I am – at least at this very moment – feeling very zen and at peace with the ebb and flow of life.

Going with the musical flow


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As I mentioned in my previous post, I recently signed up for a community college course about song copyrights and making a demo. As it got closer, I noticed that it was no longer listed in the online version of the class schedule.

But since I didn’t receive an email notifying me of its cancellation and I never remembered to call when the school office was open, I decided to just show up anyway just in case.

When I got to the classroom, there was a group of people congregated around the locked door, but when I mentioned the class, nobody knew what I was talking about. I was referred to the guy who worked there when he came and unlocked the door, but he made a quick phone call on his cell phone and he wasn’t able to verify anything about the class. But it turned out there was a free beatmaking workshop that was scheduled to take place in that same room at the same time and the instructor invited me to stay.

So I did.

This was the same school that offered the free recording workshops last summer that I went to, but when I got the flyer about this summer’s offerings, I didn’t bother to put it on my calendar since it interfered with the class I registered for. And “beatmaking” didn’t intrigue me as much as last year’s offerings so I probably wouldn’t have made the special trip across town to attend.

I’m so glad I did. The workshop was an introduction to Ableton Live and it was SO COOL! One my biggest struggles to my songs is getting them to sound like I want them to sound because of my limited ability of playing guitar (and other instruments). So the idea that I could make the songs electronically was really eye-opening. (By the way, I discovered later that week when I submitted my request for a refund for the class, that the cancellation message had been sent to my school account, which I didn’t know to check since this is my first class at the school.)

I’ve downloaded the free 30-day trial to see if I can figure it out. It’s slow-going because I’ve already forgotten some of the basics from the workshop (and I don’t have a MIDI keyboard), but I noticed that there is an electronic music class in the fall at the school.

And who knows, maybe showing up at the right place at the right time but for a totally different class could lead somewhere really exciting.

A change after 17 years


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I experienced a big change this past week – after 17 years at the same job (different roles through the years, but the same company), last week was officially my last week as an employee.

It’s bittersweet because the company’s mission is something I value very much and the people I’ve crossed paths with through the years are very dear to me. But changes over the past few years in both my workplace and my personal life eventually led to my decision.

The shift began a few weeks ago after changes in our carpool situation led to me making the 20-minute drive each way to school (a total of 80 minutes each day, plus the stress of trying to make it to both places on time while thinking of all the things that I needed to get done that I couldn’t do at that moment).

In order to help pass the time in a positive way, I picked up some motivational CDs from the library: “The Strangest Secret” by Earl Nightingale; “What I Know For Sure” by Oprah Winfrey and “Abundance Now: Amplify Your Life & Achieve Prosperity Today” by Lisa Nichols.

Their messages were similar and had a similar impact on me, emphasizing that I needed to make a change in my life. The message that everybody is here on earth for a purpose and everybody has their own purpose. Some people are inspired to become doctors or firefighters, others are drawn to music and others science. Whatever it is, everybody is different and thank goodness for that since the world needs all types of services and products.

For me, it’s been writing. Since third grade I knew I wanted to be a writer and in high school, I was on the newspaper staff, the yearbook staff and was writing song lyrics with melodies.

Earl Nightingale’s big message was: “We become what we think about.”

When I think about it, I see that in my own life. Before this job, I worked at a corporation for four years and all I could think about was wanting to work as a writer at a newspaper.

One of the things I think about often now is songwriting. Although I’ve written songs for years, there was a lull of about 10 years and I only recently started writing again .

So a few weeks ago, I spoke to G-d and asked him if I should be doing anything about my passion for writing songs. Should I be doing something different with my work? I knew it was time to make a change, but I wasn’t sure what it should be.

Then I went to the Internet to see if I could find an answer. I went to Groupon and looked for music lessons to see if there was any sign there. And there was a Groupon for four songwriting lessons! So I bought the Groupon and as of today, I’ve had my four lessons and hope to continue.

After I finished my fourth lesson, I thought I’d look at the local community college to see if there were any music classes there I could take. And there was a summer course about songwriting copyrights and the process to make a demo! So I signed up.

After hearing the message from all three audiobooks that the opportunities to do what you want to do are out there, but you have to take action, I decided to act on both of these. Who knows, maybe that Grammy speech I practiced back in high school will someday be televised or maybe I’ll just be happy that the songs in my head made it to a recording, but either way I feel compelled to do something.

When I was thinking of this summer and continuing the hectic schedule with summer camp mirroring the school routine, all I felt was anxiety. And when I looked at the numbers, I realized that the cost of camp would be more than my income. And then I realized that what I really wanted to do was to spend the summer with my kids. My youngest has just turned 7 and I’ve been facing the reality of how quickly time flies and how quickly kids grow up.

So that led to my decision to make a change. It’s a little scary because I’ve worked full-time for so long, but I have some ideas for moving forward that I’m really looking forward to exploring. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to just hang out with my boys this summer. Time is so precious and even though I just had to go break up yet another fight between two of them, I am looking toward this summer with a great deal of excitement!

Elvis forever



Elvis obit

Clipping of Elvis’s obituary in the Aug. 19, 1977 issue of the Arizona Republic.

It always intrigues me how some people make such an impact on the world that when they leave it there are articles, documentaries, tributes and are celebrated years after they die. While others depart the world with nary a mention.

And some even have aspects of their life preserved, nearly untouched, 40 years after their death.

As you may guess from the above photograph, I am talking about Elvis. (I recently came across the newspaper clipping above at my dad’s house – the house I grew up in. It was hidden behind some books in a bookshelf in the guest bedroom and apparently clipped with a pair of scissors with jagged edges that I remember from my childhood.)

Last month my family and I were in Memphis and visited Graceland. We took the tour of Graceland and Elvis’s airplanes, both were decorated with the same items that were part of his daily life. The upstairs of his house – where he died – is off limits and apparently has been since the day he died. From what I’ve read, items in the rooms upstairs remain exactly how they were 40 years ago, although of course I don’t know for sure.

But it was weird to think that Elvis stood in the same rooms that my family and I stood in and that it was his home. (And that he never reached the age that I am now.) Talk about making an impact on the world, he is definitely one example.

Here are some photos from Graceland:



Photographs capture a moment in time and are often the moments we remember because they are captured in a photograph.

The internet is full of photographs captured forever, even those some people wish would disappear forever.

I think I will purposely not include any photographs on this post simply because it is titled “Photographs” and is about photographs and that’s just the kind of mood I am in tonight.

It’s the old candid photographs that often get to me the most. People experiencing a single moment together, their togetherness captured in a single second. Then decades later they appear on the internet. Not only did they not know that single second would be available decades later – perhaps even after they were no longer on this earth – for billions of people to see, they had no concept of the internet, cyberspace or even a computer. They were just experiencing a moment together.


In the next two weeks

When I was younger, I used to write regularly in a journal, a college-ruled spiral notebook, and often during times of stress, I’d write and write until the anxiety slowly dissolved. I’m not sure if it works the same way in a blog, but I thought I’d give it a try.

(Sure this is public, but nobody actually reads this blog anyway and in case somebody does stumble across it someday, maybe it will help them. Not like that pile of notebooks in the other room.)

So here it goes. Here’s what the next two weeks look like:

  1. Home: After some water damage, the contractors ripped out the bottom part of the wall separating our kitchen and our living room. In the next two weeks, they are going to repair the wall, paint the wall and rip out all the flooring downstairs and then put in new flooring. Which means we need to clear the bookshelves and everything else downstairs this weekend.When we get back from our trip, all of our downstairs furniture will be in the garage. This whole process is expected to take two-three weeks.
  2. Out of town: We have a vacation planned next week so this weekend I will need to pack for myself and our three kids (my husband will pack his own bag). We have never been to this city before and we will be staying in somebody’s house that we don’t know and our sons are kind of loud and messy so not sure how that will go. While we are gone, the contractors will be in and out of our house and our dog will be at a friend’s house.
  3. Work: We’ve had dramatic changes in our staff over the past few months – more than half of our staff is gone – and my portion of the work used to be shared with about four other people. This has been the case for the past few months and this is the first time I’ve been on vacation since this staff cut. Fortunately one of my former co-workers is stepping in when I’m gone but I’m still going to bring a laptop with me so I can help if needed.
  4. Holiday: Passover is coming up, a holiday where preparations usually include thoroughly cleaning up your whole house to rid of any chametz (unleavened food). That in itself is a big process that I probably don’t do that great of a job on, but I attempt it every year. At the very least I clean out all my kitchen cabinets and prepare the kitchen for kosher-for-Passover products. Because my place of employment is a Jewish company, we are closed for several days of the holiday and this year because the holiday falls on the day we usually go to press, we have early deadlines for the two weeks after I return from vacation. And my kids will be on spring break at that time and I haven’t made any arrangements for those days since it has seemed so far in the future and I can only handle planning one week at a time lately.
  5. More work: It’s also the time for our company to put out our annual publication, which is in addition to our weekly newspaper. Last year I had little to do with this publication but because now the whole team that worked on it last year is gone and I’m the only one left, I’m now in charge of  that as well. The original deadline was next week but because our new company was going through this transition, we started more than a month late, but we’re still going forward with it.
  6. More deadlines: Then there’s also the scholarship applications for next year’s school year that I need to complete before our trip and soon I’ll need to make summer camp plans. And do the taxes when we get back.

OK, deep breath. Now here’s the part that’s supposed to make me feel better.

  1. Home: We have a home and the insurance is supposed to cover all this work. When it’s over, our walls will be freshly painted (they needed a fresh paint of coat) and we’ll have new floors (between kids and dogs, we badly needed new floors). So in about a month or so from now, the downstairs should look great.
  2. Out of town: We are traveling to a new place as a family and it’s for a happy reason. None of us have ever been there before and it’s a place I always wanted to go. We have friends who are watching our dog and he will have fun running around in their backyard with their dog.
  3. Work: I have a job I enjoy. One of my former co-workers is able to fill in at work and I’ll be back in time to go to press and handle any last-minute things that need to be done. My two remaining co-workers are great and interviews are underway for my staff so I should have some help soon.
  4. Holiday: We have an invitation to at least one of the holiday meals. Because of the work that we need done, two of our cabinets were taken out, one of which is our pantry so I’ve already done some of the Passover cleaning. Because we’ll have limited access to our kitchen during the holiday, I don’t need to worry about all the extra cooking. We are in a better financial position than we have been in years past at this time of year. Because I have some time off from my work because of the holiday, I’ll get to spend some extra time with my kids when they’re off of school for spring break. Because of the way the holidays fall out, four of the seven days they’re off I won’t have to work. That means there are only three days I need to figure out scheduling.
  5. More work: The delay in the annual publication was out of my control and now there’s nothing to do but move forward and everybody is on board with that and is aware and understanding of the situation.
  6. More deadlines: I’m almost done with the applications and it’s only 9:30 p.m. so I have time to complete them tonight. And taxes can wait until we get back and we can always ask for an extension if needed.
  7. And all that other important stuff: Good health, wonderful family and friends, access to tasty and healthy food, a place to live (even if it’s going to be a bit of a mess for awhile), lots of love and laughter.

You know what? That actually worked. I’ve got a lot going on the next two weeks and it’s going to be a bit crazy, but it’ll be OK. Who said life was supposed to be easy?

I know it’s better to focus on the positive side of things and the gratitude, but that’s easy to forget (like this morning when one of my kids had a meltdown on the way to school because he realized a few blocks away from school on our 20-minute drive that today was bring-a-stuffed-animal-to-school day and he forgot his stuffed animal or this afternoon after my kids begged me to try the Pokemon Go Frappachino from Starbucks  on the way to their piano lesson and then one of them accidentally spilled the whole thing upside down all over his backpack and on the floor of my car…) Yes, those moments. Those challenges to keep calm and patient (I failed both times, although I think they ended up as teachable moments).

Take a deep breath…