Panorama of San Bernardino

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Early this morning, I was scrolling through Facebook, when I landed on a video interview of Sandra Cisneros. She was talking about how she found her voice. She talked about how the MFA program at Iowa was so toxic for her that she got angry, angry enough to write House on Mango Street.  She said she wanted to show her own female perspective of the barrio. A place she felt trapped and scared.

My childhood, like Cisneros', was also sometimes rough. We didn't have a lot of money.  Dad was a truck driver and Mom was a waitress and they both worked their tails off to pay the mortgage on the house (until they lost it after Dad bought a bar adjacent to a trailer park, but that's another story). They even took out a second to put in a pool (as a child I had no idea what a "second" meant, only that it caused my mom much consternation). That pool was my childhood for me in a lot of ways. I learned to love the water so much that I swam competitively in high school (until smoking did me in). My sisters and I spent hours in that pool. We used to jump off the roof to our neighbor's dismay who called our mom after seeing us do the high dive old school style. "But Mom, we put pillows all around the pool," we screamed back at her.

Most of the roughness of my childhood was caused by the fights. If there is a music genre to my childhood it is punk rock, all chaos and anarchy. Some days would be fine. Dad would come home and cook us pork chops and other days, he wouldn't come home and Mom would scream and kick us out of the house and go look for him at the local bars. Head hanging down, I would walk with my sisters to the park wondering when we could go home. I have vivid memories of sitting on a swing at the park or hiding in the plastic cheese sculpture dreaming of another life.

Yet, don't we all replicate the past in some way or another? While I would love my adult life to be free of chaos and arguments, it isn't. At times, I create chaos out of thin air, chasing drama and chaos like it's my shadow. I follow it around like my best friend.

I know that I yell and scream because it feels familiar. But, I have learned some boundaries in my forty plus (please don't make me get more specific, I have stopped counting) years on this planet and that sometimes the trick is to just stop. Just stop. Close your mouth and stop yelling. That is my mantra.

Writing is the way I keep these demons at bay. To sit down and recreate the scenes of my childhood and the characters of my father and mother is like a massage. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes it feels damn good, but it is always necessary for my well-being.

I know more than anything in this world that I must make my voice be heard.  That will be the legacy I leave the world.  My work is who I am and I am my voice.

And I am also just a crazy girl from the Inland Empire sitting at an IPAD at six am typing her heart out.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Pursuit of Happiness

I'm sitting on a beach chair (we are still furnishing our house) watching Food Network thinking about happiness.  When I was in high school having enough money in the bank to go see my favorite new wave/punk bands was happiness.  In my late teens and early twenties, happiness was survival.  As long as I had money to pay the rent and go out dancing when I wasn't waitressing, I was content.  In my mid twenties, happiness was getting good grades in undergrad at UCR and later at USC Law.  By then, my priorities had changed.

Post law school in my thirties, happiness was work.  I know now that it shouldn't be the road to happiness, but back then, I bought into the fallacy that if you worked hard enough, or long enough, pouring out your sweat, blood and tears along with weekends and holidays, that it would pay off.  After my dad died, it made me realize that the sacrifice was not worth it.  I realized that time is the most valuable commodity.  It is worth more than any paycheck. It is irreplaceable.

What is happiness to me now? Happiness is watching my husband sleep, legs splayed out, on a Saturday morning.  And having time to cook dinner and walk the dogs three times a day.  And traveling as much as we can.

Yet, still, I struggle with finding peace and contentment.  A naturally ambitious person, I am always looking for the next challenge or project.  Maybe that is a good thing or maybe it creates that bubble of anxiety I always have welling up in my throat.

My next goal, let's call this my forties' goal, is to be a writer for television.  When you put your mind to something, the universe really does conspire to help you (See The Alchemist). That's not to say everything is achievable.  You have to have talent and have done the work (which is another way of saying, it has to be meant to be).  I feel as if all my life has led me to a place where I can imagine this into being.  Will it happen? I don't know, but I am sure gonna try.