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Magical Moment 3, "Victory at the Broadway Comedy Club"

It is rare for me to find a legitimate piano gig. It is even more rare for the hirer to return my phone call and/or e-mail. And it is practically an occasion to break out champagne and dance a jig when all the details work out and I am officially “booked.” So I was totally psyched when I booked an accompaniment gig at the  Broadway Comedy Club . Not the Vegan Poetry Reading House, not the accompanist for a Catholic school’s children's Christmas program, but the Broadway Comedy Club - in the heart of New York City and a legitimate landmark where many famous musicians have performed. The gig was to provide accompaniment (which isn’t my best skill) of Broadway songs (which I don’t know a lot of) for professional vocalists (who can be a bit…diva, or divo). We had one short rehearsal the day before the performance and I arrived at the rehearsal about 30 minutes early because I still had no concept of how mass transit runs in this city. I made it a rule of thumb to leave an hour before I
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Gather Children

I remember a song being sung when I was a young girl. It was called, "I Would Gather Children." I heard it in the independent baptist church where I was raised. And while I have long since left the baptist denomination, I remain thankful for that particular church's presence in my life. It gave me ties and relationships that have lasted my entire life. Introduced me to true leaders, selfless, and compassionate, like  Pastor Brooks . It led me to my faith. And maybe, most importantly, it led me to question my faith and confront the struggle between things I was taught, and what I knew in my heart about Jesus. And this, ultimately, brought me to a place where I live freely and bravely, trying to love unconditionally as Jesus loves.  I couldn't find a video of the song to share. But I did find this poem, which I believe are the lyrics of the song, or at least very similar. The author is unknown. Some would gather money Along the path of life Some would gather r

Tijuana, "Los Estados Unidos, Where Skies are Blue"

My final day in Tijuana was a doozy. One of the most difficult things about being in the red tent area, where asylum-hopefuls gather daily to hear if their “lottery” number to the Ice Box gets called, was seeing the children. If your number gets called that day, you must be ready to leave immediately. So every day, entire families show up with all their belongings at 7am, day after day, after day. I learned some of the children’s names. They would smile when they recognized me and ask, “Como esta?” I saw the same babies in strollers being pushed by their parent or older sibling. I gave them nicknames to help me keep track. “One Zapato baby” (he only had one shoe). “Moana” (she was the spitting image of Baby Moana from the movie). My favorite, “Pink Bow.” I know her real name, but can’t say it publicly. Remember, she is a refugee, she and her family are running from someone who wants them dead.  There are also many pregnant women. They stand in line, for hours. We tell them about the

"Tijuana, First-hand Facts of the Red-Tent Asylum Process"

My mind is so full of information that I want to share with you all from my week in Tijuana. This post will be just that, information. Factual and first hand. Witnessed and experienced by me. Thousands of migrants from all over the world, mainly from Central America, have traveled to Tijuana’s west U.S. port of entry seeking safety, better economic conditions, and/or to be with family already in the U.S. My motivation for taking this volunteer trip was to help the families in the extreme asylum-seeking cases - those who live in terror and fear both IN their home country and FROM their home country. Gangs and governments work hand in hand to target and terrorize families for their own personal interests. There is a list. The list has numbers on it. Asylum seekers want to get a number from this list and they want their number to be called. Like a deli. I was incapable of finding answers as to who creates this list, who decides how many numbers are on the list, and basically any ot

Tijuana, Second Day Thoughts

I spent 7 days in Tijuana, Mexico helping asylum-seekers at the border. I volunteered with a group called  Al Otro Lado . They offer free legal, and other services, to migrants hoping to be granted asylum in the U.S. I'll be writing my thoughts and first-hand accounts here. Hello friends. This is the end of my second day working in Mexico, but I feel like it’s been a week of a continuous, vertical learning curve. As an educated, English-speaking adult, I am in constant confusion about the instructions that asylum-seekers are given. Instructions feel largely random, made-up, improvised, and often conflicting with previously given instructions as well as with other organizations. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for foreigners to navigate  through this. To qualify for asylum, a person must not only say they have a fear for their life, but they must have very strong proof and documentation of this fear and threat. They must also show that their country’s local and nationa

"Traveling to Tijuana to Protect America's Way of Life - Helping and Accepting Immigrants"

I joined ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) in late fall of the year 2001. Having a fierce love for America since I could remember, and the desire to achieve a personal goal of mine, 9/11 was the push that I needed to make a long-term commitment to the service and defense of my country. It was the event that kicked me into action. It gave me an opportunity to put my money where my mouth was and protect and defend what I loved - America’s reputation throughout the world as a beacon of hope and light and freedom. And on 9/11, someone attacked and threatened that. They threaten our way of life.  A decade and a half later, in November of 2018, I had a beautiful Thanksgiving meal with my family and with our close friends and next-door neighbors, a family of immigrants from China. We enjoy cooking together and trying different foods from the other’s and culture (they own a Chinese Restaurant). We speak zero Mandarin and they speak a minuscule amount of English. Somehow, we have got t

Marta Artbound: The Unfinished Lyrics at Kensington

My Kensington Corner! Kensington Station is located in Decatur, on the east side of Atlanta. I enjoy playing at this station for Marta's Artbound  Program. It's not overly crowded, but there's a steady flow of diverse commuters and it's nice chatting with them as they pass through. I also like this station because I have a clean, spacious "corner" to play in. Not quite out in the open, but still central where the acoustics sound nice throughout.  One afternoon, as I began to setup my equipment in my corner, I quickly picked up the few pieces of trash I saw on the ground and went to throw them away in the trash can. One crumpled piece of paper caught my eye and for some reason, I decided to uncrumple and take a look rather than just tossing in the can. It looked like the beginning of a song, or a poem, or maybe a journal entry. It read simply, in smudged ink, "going places, going strong." Well, I couldn't throw it away. I smoothed it out a

Marta Artbound: The Sweet-Spirited Boy at Midtown

Midtown Station Atlanta, GA A few weeks ago, I played at Midtown Station in Atlanta for Marta's Artbound Program, an effort to bring live arts to the public. Midtown is a great location, as it's outdoors and in a fun, brightly painted setting. Of course, being Georgia in August, it's also very hot! I set up my keyboard and equipment as well as an electric fan and began my set. Not far into my set, I noticed a young boy and his mother in the area. The boy seemed very curious about the music and eventually sat right in front of my little stage to watch and clapped after each song. I tried to give him the warmest smile possible so he would feel comfortable if he wanted to come talk to me. Eventually he did. He told me that he and his cousins liked to write song lyrics together and he had a notebook at home of random thoughts that might make a good song one day. He told me he thought music was like a super power. He asked me all kinds of questions about the songs I pl