A Lot of SPAM A Lot



When I was a kid, my family ate SPAM. (We also ate Potted Meat and Vienna Sausages, but let’s save that for another day, shall we?) I know that in Hawaii, folks eat the heck out of some SPAM.


I don’t eat SPAM anymore, and I don’t judge those who do. It’s just not my thing. To each his own, you know? And because I don’t eat it, it simply doesn’t pop up in my little world.


Only it does. Do you know how much SPAM email I receive each and every day? I’m guessing it’s somewhere around the 300-count marker. And that’s not including what goes straight into my SPAM folder. I’m merely counting the stuff that busts through and ends up in my in-box.


While I’m not fooled by it, I do sift through the crap in order to sort out real communications. In scanning those subject lines, I’ve noticed a sorry trend: a lot of the SPAM I receive carries subjects having to do with slamming or tearing down celebrities.


When did all this ugliness become a pastime? Have we always gravitated toward negativity about others, or is this a new preoccupation? What the heck is wrong with us anyway?


I guess I noticed this because I’m planning a get-together for my Rock Camp Volunteer buddies, and the very thought of those folks sends me floating in a bubble of positivity. It’s an amazing group, really. We are comprised of mostly women, and we are incredibly supportive of one another. I joke about all our high-fiving, but it’s for reals, y’all. We don’t snark and we don’t act catty. We believe in each other. We cheer each other on. It’s beautiful.


Earlier this week I witnessed something unfortunate in a parking lot. I walked by a mother and daughter (probably around 11 or 12 years old) and heard the mom saying something critical about what another nearby lady was wearing. The mom went straight from that insult to another, all the while teaching her daughter – by example – how to follow in her footsteps and denigrate other women. The daughter appeared to be learning well, as she was laughing at her mother’s words and joining in the barbs. It occurred to me that while it may be too late for the mother, perhaps that daughter will find herself at Rock Camp. Maybe she can learn the power of building up her friends. Maybe she will someday walk across a parking lot and marvel at how awesome this or that chick looks. Maybe she’ll find herself smiling, just because. Anything’s possible.


As for the assholes of the world who send out all that SPAM, well, they aren’t going to change and I don’t spend time thinking about them. But I do feel sorry for folks who are tempted to click on that crap, looking for dirt or ugly photographs of well-known people. Life’s too precious for that waste of energy. Too beautiful.


I’m thinking the only way to acceptably consume SPAM is from a plate. Definitely not from a screen.

RCGLA 2014 – 1, 2, 3, Highlights!



This Rock Camp stuff, I tell you. It’s amazing and I love it. With that in mind, I give you several of my fave moments/experiences from this year’s camp…



Lunchtime Concerts – Each day at lunch we were treated to live music. On one particular day, “Go Betty Go” performed. By the time I made it downstairs with my lunch, the band was in full-swing. I saw a little nugget of a camper in the hallway and said we should go out and listen to that awesome band. She said, “I don’t mean to brag, but I got one of their t-shirts!” I gave her mad props and we proceeded outside and enjoyed the show. After lunch, we were all walking back into the school and I again saw that camper. I told her I’d seen the t-shirts and that they were awesome. She said – I kid you not – “Well, if you really like it, you can have mine.” Can you believe that? That’s the beauty of Rock Camp. And I’ll think of that kid each time I wear the shirt she gave me. (Just kidding! I didn’t take a child’s t-shirt, y’all.)



Lunchtime, Period – We eat well at Rock Camp. Super well. There are many reasons for this, but my favorite is Chef Olivia. She somehow manages to work as the Executive Chef at El Cid and feed us each summer. Honestly, I super adore this gal and even if she didn’t give her time to Rock Camp, she’d still be aces with me.



Our Lone Dude Volunteer, Jeff – Jeff is so cool, y’all. He isn’t phased by the crush of estrogen and he’s there when you need him. This year he showed up with a heat gun for helping the silk-screen paint to dry faster. That was major. And when I saw him taking care of that bidness, I was reminded of a line from the old “Stepford Wives” movie (paraphrased, of course): I just love seeing a man do little domestic chores.



Volunteer Jam Night – Each Wednesday night of camp, we hold a Volunteer Jam Night. It is more useful than mere fun. It also provides a much-needed mid-week break. It takes a lot of energy to role-model for the campers! Jam Night is our chance to hang out with each other and relax. The music ain’t too shabby, either.



Massages – That’s right. For the last 2 years, we’ve had volunteer massage therapists come in to tend to our stressed-out muscles. These volunteers do this out of the kindness of their hearts and we mightily appreciate it. I can’t tell you what a difference I felt before I went in for my massage versus after. I was truly a new gal. Serious props to Renee for this year’s gift.



Pizza – I think this started 5 years ago, at the first L.A. Rock Camp. There was a lot of talk about loving pizza – by the staff and the campers – and then someone showed up at an assembly wearing a Pizza Costume. Well it was just all over from that point on. The kids were making up songs about pizza. The adults were doing the same. And before we knew it, multiple folks were rocking a variety of pizza-themed attire. Each year the pizza celebration gets bigger. And I support that. Just as I support pizza.



Bea’s Tattoo Shop – When Super Volunteer Patty brought her daughter Bea for visits, we had no idea what was coming. 3-year-old Bea set up a little Tattoo Shop and we were all hooked. Not only was it fun to stop in and rock a Bea-original tat, but it was also amazing to interact with her. That is one seriously cool toddler. She just brought a lovely energy to the joint. And I adored it. What a great kid.



Carpooling – Each day I got to carpool with a few amazing ladies. Betro, Lauren and Dawn were a delight in the mornings. Starting the day with them was a real boost. And it was good for me to be able to talk to them about the day’s events as we made our way home each evening. It’s one thing to get along with the other Volunteers. It’s another thing entirely to actually like them.



The Volunteers – I get a little hung up when trying to describe what these women mean to me. They are all strong, soulful, kind, brilliant, amazing gals. To share their company is such a privilege. To have their backs, should they need anything at all, is an honor. Knowing they have mine is enough to bring tears to my eyes. I will never be able to fully explain how much I appreciate the Volunteers. I guess I’ll just have to keep showing up and doing my best to exemplify my appreciation through my actions.



Random Brilliant Moments – So many tiny moments take place, moments that lead to roars of excitement. Moments that lead to open-mouthed awe. Moments that forever alter a girl’s perspective. Most of Rock Camp is comprised of such moments. And I couldn’t list them all if I tried. But I will share this one with you. On the last morning of camp, I had finished greeting the arriving Campers in the parking lot and was headed up to the school to start the day. As I walked past The Grotto (as I like to call it), the water began trickling away. I stood there for a moment, transfixed by my timing, then proceeded up the stairs. As I placed my foot on the first step to the left of The Grotto, the water stopped moving. It was as if that momentary motion, that flow of life, had been just for me. As I was the only soul around, I suppose it was just for me. Think what you will, but I decided to accept that gift. With an open heart. And really, isn’t that the greatest way to live?

RCGLA 2014 – Showcase at the House of Blues!



First, let me say that yesterday was a major catch-up day for me. Load after load of laundry, shopping for food to fill empty cupboards and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. I didn’t finish everything, but I made a dent. Not only that, but I must’ve been in the afterglow of Rock Camp, as people out in the world kept coming up to me to share some positive thought or another. At first I didn’t notice it. Then a little girl walked up to me and said she liked my shirt. That’s when I figured it out. And I smiled even more brightly. I may have even high-fived 10,000 angels. But that’s neither here nor there. The point of this missive is to fill you in on last Saturday’s Rock Camp Showcase…


Let me just say that the sound at the House of Blues was the best yet. I’ve always enjoyed seeing shows at HOB, and now I know why. The sound! The girls played their hearts out and it was awesome.


I spent most of the show in the audience, dancing and cheering on the performers. There were a couple of times when I caught sight of audience members expressing their shock at how good some of our campers were. To those (mostly dudes) let me say this: we’re not messing around. Chicks be rocking, okay? I mean, a few of those gals totally shredded and faces were melted. Seeing a shocked audience simply made me smile.



Just like every year, it’s incredibly rewarding to witness the joy of campers after they perform. Their accomplishments are monumental, y’all. Those girls show up on Monday and form a band, most likely with complete strangers. Over the next few days, they not only work hard to learn how to play an instrument, they also write their own original freakin’ song. Come Friday, they do a stage run-through and are then sent home. Saturday afternoon arrives super-fast and the next thing they know, they’re being introduced onstage to a crowd of 600 people. It’s phenomenal!


And it’s often life-changing. I’ve seen it time and time again. I suppose lives have also been changed and I’ve not been privy to that growth. That’s perfectly okay, too.


But I have been privy to my own growth, each and every year. I know that means nothing to the campers, nor should it. But it means everything to me, and I hold on to it more tightly than you can imagine.


After the showcase had ended, after our gear had been loaded out and our vibe had been removed from the walls of the club, we volunteers headed over to a Mexican restaurant for our decompression session. We were all pretty amped up, so there was a lot of clapping and cheering going on. There was also a lot of hugging and loving. Personally, I didn’t cry. I think it’s because I know that I’ve turned a corner with this group. In the past, I’ve doubted whether or not I truly belonged in their esteemed company. I’ve been self-critical of my skills and talents, and I’ve not believed I was worthy of their friendship. But not anymore. For the first time, I actually feel that I am with my tribe. That I truly belong. And I know that going forward I will make every effort to see these phenomenal women on a regular basis.


No need for tears. Just smiles. And occasionally high-fiving 10,000 angels.

The Day After



I’m in recovery mode. Tomorrow I’ll share details of the Rock Camp Showcase. And I won’t hold back.


For now, know that I’m in self-care mode and that I’m blissed out.



RCGLA 2014 – Last Day of Camp




Day 5. Camp is over.


I’ve never seen so many campers arrive early! The day began with the last Instrument Instruction classes. This was important for the girls, as it was their last opportunity to work out any kinks with their instructors. As a Vocal Instructor, I and the 4 other Instructors did what we could to help the singers relax and trust their voices. Class seemed fun – for us, at least – and there was some super strong singing going on in the hallways!



After the final Instrument Instruction of the week, it was time for lunch! Sista Eyerie was one of our performers and that chick was boss. Her flow was mad sick and she was so positive and groovin’! Seriously – I danced the whole show and hope to catch her again.


After lunch, we had Showcase run-throughs and the bands I was able to hear simply crushed it. After the run-through, the band I’ve been working with had their final Band Practice. They worked hard to figure out their song’s ending and I was super-proud of their progress. We then broke down the equipment, headed out for final assembly and the campers went home. It was fast. It was final. It was the end.


After the campers went home, we Volunteers stayed at the school and broke down the entire camp. When I left the school at 9 pm last night, the gear was being loaded onto a truck for storage and the school – which had been our own private Rock Utopia – had reverted back to being, well, a school.


There were definitely a lot of emotions being felt and expressed throughout the day. Even typing this is stirring tears. But they’re happy tears, so I won’t fight them.


Today is our Showcase at the House of Blues! I can tell you now this day will probably lead to a cry-fest for some Volunteers. Why? Because we care. More than anything, we want to see these young girls tap into their true selves. Without fear. Without self-judgment. No holds barred.


Can’t wait for the Showcase.

RCGLA 2014 – Day 4



Day 4. 4 reals.


After Day 3′s awesome Volunteer hang, I almost forgot that day’s challenges. Almost. But then the morning of Day 4 arrived and the residue of the previous day had to be cleared away. A re-set button was called for. And I hit it. It didn’t make the difficulties disappear. It didn’t mean there wouldn’t be more challenges. It just meant I decided to not let those moments define my experience. Good choice.


Vocals classes went well, with the vocalists all working on their bands’ songs and their individual performance techniques. The campers really brought their A-games and I was super-proud of all of them.


Band practices were crucial, as there would only be 1 more day to get those songs down. The band I’m working with pulled together and Finished. Their. Song. You probably heard my sigh of relief, no matter where you live.


The fun parts of the day were T-shirt Design and Screen Printing workshops. The campers are ridiculously creative and their T-shirts are spectacular. Some are simple. Some are complex. I was completely in awe.


Day 4 is hard-core. The end of camp is near. There’s a lot of stress. Breakdowns occur – for campers and volunteers. I don’t want to paint it all dark, however, as there are also fantastic moments. There’s a ton of joy. So many folks tap into their magnificence and experience beautiful breakthroughs. It’s a privilege to witness. Seriously.


I can hardly believe today is Day 5. But you know what? I still feel like I’ve got this. And I do.

RCGLA 2014 – Day 3




So Day 3 began with a fun carpool ride to Camp. I’ve been carpooling with my buds Betro, Lauren and Dawn. It’s such a cool start to our long days, talking and laughing through traffic. We catch up on how everyone’s doing and we talk about the coming day. It’s a nice check-in time.


Anyhoo, I’ve been wanting cake since Day 1. I don’t know why, I just have. So late Tuesday night I took my tired self to Costco and got a gi-normous cake for the volunteers. And on Day 3 I ate a piece of that cake. And y’all – it was good.


Speaking of food, Chef Olivia is again volunteering her culinary skills and feeding our bodies and souls. I would volunteer for the food alone, friends. It’s that good.


At the end of Day 3, we had our annual Volunteer jam-fest. That midweek decompression session really helps us keep going and giving. I would volunteer for that alone, too.


Today is Day 4. I can hardly believe it’s down to only 2 days before the showcase. Then again, I can believe it. And I love it.

RCGLA 2014 – Day 2




Day 2.


At the beginning of Day 2, I decided to hit my own personal re-set button, as it was after all, a new day. I leaned on other volunteers when I needed them and I tried to be there for them when they needed me. The campers shone a bit more brightly in my eyes and I loved seeing their excitement. The strides those girls make on a daily basis is astounding. And powerful. It’s such an inspiration to watch fearlessness. It’s also inspiring to watch a chick conquer her fear. So much life, y’all. So very much.


So one of the highlights of my day was getting the above “tattoo.” One of our extraordinary volunteers brought her 3-year old – Bea – for a visit. I heard Bea liked to draw tattoos, so I asked her if I could book an appointment. She high-fived me and said yes, so I moseyed down at the appointed time and Bea picked a color. She then free-styled some ink on my arm. It was a sweet, fun, creative, beautiful moment.


That’s what Rock Camp is all about – those moments. You never know when they’ll show up, or how many you’ll get. And you don’t need to know. You just need to show up with open arms.


Though you can’t quite see it in the photo above, the number 42 is hidden in my Bea-Art. It wasn’t lost on me that 42 is the answer to Life, The Universe and Everything. Talk about a moment.

RCGLA 2014 – Day 1



Yesterday was Day 1 of Rock Camp. And it was…


It was a lot of things. It was awesome. It was tiring. It was challenging. It was beautiful. In short, it was all the things Rock Camp has come to represent and be.


I’d like to give you more details, but as I’m typing this at the end of Day 1 and I’m flippin’ tired, I just don’t have the stamina. I’ll try to do better on the next post.


Day 1 down, friends. On to Day 2…

RCGLA 2014 – Volunteer Orientation



Last week I worked load-in with other volunteers at the school where we conduct Rock Camp for Girls L.A. each year. It was an exhausting day and yet it was also filled with laughter and smiles. Dang! I truly love these folks!


Yesterday was our Volunteer Orientation. From the time I arrived and saw so many familiar faces, I was all in. And there are so many new faces! I almost envy the new volunteers. They’re about to experience a mind-blowing week for the very first time. For me to tell you it’s a life-changing experience means nothing to you, I know. You’re just gonna have to trust me. And I didn’t even try to tell the new volunteers anything. I don’t have to. They’re about to live it. The high-fives. The awesome-speak. The smiling. The creativity. The camaraderie. Of course, there’s also the vulnerability. The exhaustion. The unknowns. It can be enough to freak a gal out.


Today will be Day 1 of camp. In the past I’ve been nervous. But not this year. I’ve got this.