Friday, October 25, 2013

Girls Night Out

Girls night out has escalated in its popularity in recent years, with many industries gleefully capitalizing on the very subject. SUV and mini-van commercials display girlfriends and wives taking the keys from their significant others and piling up the family vehicle amid laughter and music. Cards and invitations can be found in the greeting card section of one's favorite boutique, bookstore or drugstore; clubs beckon, and retail stores sell t-shirts, purses and jewelry all promoting the healthy declaration that every woman periodically requires a night out with her girlfriends. I'd engaged in a few. My crowd enjoys the discounted drinks and huge TV screens strategically placed in the bars, but the Carioke nights were starting to wear thin. I remembered a time when you had to be really drunk to get your nerve up enough to stand in front of others and follow the words on the screen, but lately it seemed as though everyone who got up to sing thought they were auditioning for American Idol, the Voice or prepping for the national anthem at a baseball game. It was getting way too serious. So when one of my ski club road dogs suggested that we plan a girls' night out to celebrate our birthdays, I sort of half-laughed when they suggested we celebrate 'girls night out' in Jamaica. A week later, I received a three-way call on my cell phone. Four women were interested and serious. With credit cards in hands, we called the airlines. At first, I was hesitant. A week with four women on a Caribbean island sounded a little too adventurous for my blood. However, it took only a few minutes of friendly persuasion to convince me that we, the girls, needed a week to ourselves to 'play catch-up' with our lives, and to treat ourselves to some much needed rest and relaxation. When the date rolled around, armed with stuffed suitcases, straw hats, unread books and freshly braided hair, I was on a direct, red-eye flight to Montego Bay. Nine hours later we checked into the Ritz Carlton where we shared two adjoining suites. This was luxurious, but also important on a vacation such as this one. We were going to be sharing bathroom space for seven days and nights. Three bathrooms were absolutely necessary. Our first night there we attended the annual Sum Fest, a Reggae music festival that goes on all night long. About three in the morning, as we were headed back to our hotel, a thief snatched my purse. Along with feeling violated, I began to have regrets about the trip. When we returned to the hotel, I had no desire to leave the sanctuary of the resort, but my girlfriends were there for me. They reminded me that I had not been injured, I still had my passport, and that I should refuse to allow one thug to ruin my trip. They were right. He got away with a few dollars, my credit cards and a nice leather clutch, but I had my health, no broken bones and my girlfriends. A couple of days later, I once again ventured out, got some shopping in and cheerfully returned with a great piece of art, a few sarongs and of course coffee and rum. We scheduled our spa appointments, went sailing, visited a couple of the requisite tourist spots (Dunns River Falls and Margueritaville) and went ATV riding. Some nights after dinner we listened to jazz in the hotel lounge. We discussed love, the challenges of being single (or married),our parents and our children. We asked each other for advice. We got a little nosy and discussed sex habits. We cried a little, but we laughed and giggled more. The biggest concern we encountered each day was what we would wear and where we would eat. We changed clothes three or more times a day and complemented each other on our outfits, shoes and accessories sincerely and without an ounce of envy. Seven days with girlfriends and no tiffs or catty words. We met a couple on the same floor of our hotel who were on vacation from Chicago - he was a barbershop owner and his girlfriend owned a beauty shop. We were sitting in the lounge chatting one evening when he asked, "Okay, so what's really up with you ladies? I mean, are you here to catch? Are you looking for a husband? What's really going on - five beautiful women from California on a mission, right?" We looked at each other and took turns answering him one by one, kindly though, as we were now mellowed by a combination of the mood, the ambiance of the island and the Jamaican sun. One of the ladies summed it up best when she replied, "We are all hard-working professionals. Some of us have children, businesses, spouses, and at home everything is about everyone else. We hardly allow time for ourselves. On the weekends, we are driving our kids to little league or dance classes, cleaning up and committing to volunteer. On Sundays, we go to church. There is no ulterior motive; no desire for an island romance. We're here to relax and be a little selfish." Though I believe at first hesitant to think our hearts were sincere, the couple smiled and nodded, then continued to hang out with us through the remainder of the week. I believe our week was finally summed up best by how we felt when we sat out on the beach late one afternoon. The sun was going down, and the temperature had been about 85 degrees, but with the Caribbean sea breeze teasing our bodies and our hair, it felt like a California Spring. One of my friends brought a portable CD player and we began to listen to some rap music. I think we were all missing home, so we turned it up and began to dance on the beach, each of us in our style and world. And then the tourists began to come. People walking on the beach came to our little circle and began to dance as well. Words did not have to be spoken; I think they simply saw the smiles on our faces, felt the freedom we evoked in our dancing and they joined us. Some didn't even speak English; but I truly believe they saw what we saw - not just the beauty of a Caribbean sunset or crest of the sea dancing against the sand, but the opportunity to be free, to enjoy life, to smile, laugh and giggle and not be judged.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

October Book Signings 2013

Book Signings - October 2013. Please Join me on Saturday, October 12th, From 12pm - 2pm. At The Hourglass Art and Wine Gallery 8200 Haven Ave. #103, Rancho Cucamonga, Ca As I celebrate the release of my third novel, Masumi Records. Humorous, candid and inspiring, Masumi Records Weaves a tale of obsession, dedication and sincere Love for the universal language we call music.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Music is the Universal Language; or The German Pianist

About 12 years ago I was on a cruise ship in Europe. My cousin and I were hanging out at a little piano bar and the German pianist asked us what we would like to hear. I requested this song, but he'd never heard of it. I sang a few bars for him and told him it was an American treasure. A couple of days go by, and we went back to the bar. When the pianist saw me, he waved me over and started playing this song. He told me that after I described it to him, he had the sheet music faxed over when we had stopped at the last port. He told me he fell in love with the song and was adding it to his repertoire. Music is truly the universal language. Happy Birthday Nat King Cole.

Leaving Technology Behind - The Lost Phone

Here comes a big what if - what if you’re stranded away from home with no phone, no smartwatch, with pay phones becoming more obsolete in mo...