Panorama of San Bernardino

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Last Time I Saw You

The last time I saw you
you were in your casket.
A mortician went over you with makeup.
You didn't look like you.

The last time I really saw you
was three days earlier.
You were watching a movie,
too tired to play cards.

We didn't need to speak,
we talked in our heads.
I could read the thoughts
in your blue eyes.

Take care of your mother
your eyes said.
It's almost time.

After I told the paramedics to stop.
After I let you go with one word.
"Should we go on?" they asked.
"No," I replied.

We had to wait for two hours
for the coroner to come
and take your body away.

And I remember,
at least I think I remember,
standing outside in the cool Riverside air
tears running down my face.

Or is that something
created in my head?
I'm not sure.

Maybe I did nothing.
Maybe I went to sleep.
And awoke the next day to begin
the planning and preparations.

What I remember most
is going to the cemetery in Ontario
to pick out your headstone.
You were cremated.

And your ashes would end up
under the headstone I paid for
with my American Express card.

Mom insisted on writing her name
on the headstone next to yours
with her year of death unwritten.
I thought it was creepy.

But I didn't have the heart to fight.
You would have wanted it that way.
No more arguments.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Literary Life

I am reading Carolyn See's book on writing "Making A Literary Life" and it is bringing to mind my life thus far. Have I lived a writer's life? Only in the last couple years have I focused on my writing. Yet, I feel as if I had to live a non literary life to get here.

To a place where writing is my focus and where I put my efforts. For so many years, especially when I started writing in 2006, I thought my voice had no value. It took VONA, a writers' workshop in the Bay Area for writers of color, to change that.

About six years ago, I took my first class with the amazing Faith Adiele and I was intimidated and scared. Who was I to be so presumptuous to believe I belonged in this class of writers? By the first day of class, I was a nervous shaking mess of a woman.

Fuck, I'd been to law school at USC and was never this scared. I almost left before I even began. I was terrified to open myself up to a room of strangers. To let them see my childhood chaos and the damage it had wrought on me. But, somehow I stayed and it turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life. Faith and my writing group were complimentary and supportive. It was exactly what I needed and I made friends for life.

The experience changed me. After VONA, I mutated into a different me. I decided to quit my job at a large firm and went to the Public Defender's office. I found that I still had passion for the law.

Writing memoir made me want to live a better life.

I have returned to VONA every other year since and the workshop and its group of writers and talented teachers have sustained and inspired me to keep writing.

That's the funny thing about memoir. We, as writer, narrator and protagonist, get to make our own endings by our choices in life.

Ultimately, I choose to live a literary life and write about it. And dammit, I want my memoir to have a happy ending.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Quest for Morrissey

I have begun a quest.  A quest to interview my idol Morrissey.

If you have read my blog for long, you well know that I am obsessed with Morrissey, former lead singer of the Smiths and the man I consider the voice of my generation.  Today, I spent my day in a coffee shop working on a website for what I have deemed Project Morrissey.  This may be the best idea of my life.

I want to interview Steven Patrick Morrissey to find out the questions he has never been asked.  I don't care about the salacious stuff, gay or straight, Johnny Marr break up, etc.  None of that stuff matters to me.  I want to know what makes him tick.  What does he think of James Joyce?  How has art saved him from the abyss of depression?   What inspired my favorite songs?  How has he persevered through it all?

See  I have begun another adventure and can't wait to see how it unfolds.