Panorama of San Bernardino

Friday, May 14, 2021

Just Breathe

Two years ago today, I was in France with my husband.

We were visiting my 1st cousin Pascale and her son Xavier who I had never met. We hit it off and it was the time of our lives. The town they lived in was quaint. Lovely.

My cousin Pascale and I would spend hours, chatting, drinking espresso. We would just sit and talk. Bonding. 

We would start talking early afternoon until the sun set (sunset was at 830 pm or so in France that time of year). Then we would drink a couple bottles of wine and eat crackers and cheese. Talking more. 

It forced me to slow down and be in the moment. We took walks, canvassed through Rouen. Strolled Dieppe. 

I tried to chillax and listen. Patience has never been my forte. I'm always doing something, always on freaking task.

This feels like so so long ago. Yet, not. Similar to our trip to France, the pandemic changed me. It, too, forced me to slow down. I stopped traveling. I worked hard but also made dinner many nights. Started a podcast and took a MFA class. Finally, yes finally, spent the weekends finishing my memoir and then writing a new book. 

Then the last couple weeks at work have been so insanely busy and stressful that I started back into my old habit of just doing. Going hard. At a cost. A cost to me.

Today, I'm taking the day off, and will be reflecting on who I am and the kind of person I want to be. Do I want to be the most efficient person? 

Or do I, perhaps, just perhaps, want to be at ease in life, letting go, and just be me. Fun JEM. Cool JEM. And yes, busy and organized but also just in the moment. No more anxiety or stress energy. Just there to be me and let my self shine. At work and at home.

Last night, I realized that I had my work computer but that I forgot my laptop cord when I was at court and the office. 

How was I going to check email? Then I realized, it's 6 pm, why are you worried? Of course I soon realized I could use my other cord to charge but still, let it go, I told myself. You are not tethered to a computer or to your phone. 

You are tethered to your husband, family and dogs. To your art. That's what sustains you.

Then I took a deep breath and sat and listened to others perform for two hours. I laughed so hard at one piece that my stomach hurt. Wiped tears from my eyes. Breathed.

Life was good.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Zen Pen

 It's 10:30 pm. I can't sleep. Everyone is asleep but me. Chewbacca, my spoiled shih tzu, is snoring. So is Adrian. Frodo is downstairs because he can't do stairs.

I love my blog. It's where I capture the day to day. During the pandemic, it became my lifeline, my diary and my solace.

Writing is very solitary. For the last three months, I've been working on my latest project almost every weekend. I've been in a kind of isolation. Just me and my keyboard. Working on some footnotes on Wednesday evening about did me in. My eyes burned after as if I'd been in a fire. 

But blogging is different, at least usually. It's more laid back. I write these blogs quick and on my phone. I post and edit and re-edit. Then I let them go into the universe. It's a freeing form of writing in a way. Not so formal. Plus, it's great practice writing like this. Making your brain find the words quick and then, putting it all together. Zen.

The thing I realized over these last ten or eleven years of blogging is that writing is a muscle. You must do it everyday. And all weekend if you can. It's something that needs to be flexed often. 

Over the years, by writing this blog, I've become disciplined. People often ask how I do it all: the full time job, writing, and podcasting. Truth is, I'm always working either at my job or at my writing or podcasting. Always. And I rest by reading. The thing is that I enjoy the writing. I really do. But what I really like is reaching out to the world with this blog.

So here's my proverbial writing hand reaching out to you. Let me know what you practice at: yoga, cooking, watching movies, or maybe reading? Everything is fair game! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Whirlwind

I've been writing a lot lately. Editing. Creating. 

Yet, my writing was not predestined. It was a choice to focus on my writing. A choice to start a creative writing Masters program. A conscious decision to finish my books. It is late nights. Early mornings. Lots of coffee, less beer.

My career as a deputy public defender was also a choice. A choice to follow my passion. My heart. My quest for a better world.

We all live with constraints. Some of these constrains are those society imposes on us, but there are those we put on ourselves. We think we "need" all of these possessions. We think that our worth is valued monetarily rather than creatively.

For me, art defies commerce. If I make money from my art great, but if not, that's OK too. It's not that I don't want to get paid, I do and think it's crucial that creatives demand to be paid. But I also am just grateful that I have the economic privilege to have support for my art through my lawyering day job.

The older I get, the more the veil falls. I see the man behind the curtain. This is all an illusion in a way and intentions matter. Just the imagining of a creative endeavor helps and urges the universe to create it.

There are times it is magical. I believe one can make things happen with visualization and hard work. This is not delusion. I'm the evidence. Exhibit one. I've been a dreamer my whole life. I've imagined myself as a lawyer, a writer and a performer.

And here I am. I'm all of those and more. A whirlwind is coming. We're all in it. Create. Create. And create some more. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Remembering

This morning, I thought to myself, I'm lucky. So so lucky. I have a home I love, my husband, my sisters and mom, my spoiled shih tzus and a good job. I have my education, my writing, my school and my podcast.

What I don't have that I have wanted: a child, my books published and contentment. The books being published will happen, the child is unattainable at this point age wise, but contentment, now that's the tricky one.

Contentment has always been the hardest thing for me. I am never ever content. It's part of what drives me. "Slow down!" my husband says. "No," I retort back in my no nonsense voice adding, "Never."

What are we here for? That's a question that may be rolling around in your head too. Especially after this roller coaster ride of a year. The pandemic has made many question their lives, including those truly. Inching my way toward middle age has also made me think. What is truly important in life? 

Is it accomplishments? That car you drive? The way you look? The house you own? 

No. 

I would argue that we are a sum of what we create in the world. The family and relationships we have, the  lives we touch, the people we help and the creative endeavors we engage in. 

In short, who we are is what we are. But it's more ephemeral than that. How you will be remembered is who you are. We are memories.

And because I write memoir, and love spinning gold out of the dust of my own memories, I'm remembering who I am and who I was. But most of all, my writing allows me to keep reminding myself of who I want to be.



Friday, April 23, 2021

Vacation all I ever wanted

There's a lyric by The Go-Go's that says, "Vacation all I ever wanted/Vacation had to get away". That is how I've felt for the last year. I've been yearning to get away. To "get up and go" (to name another Go-Go's tune). So I'm on vacation. And happy. 

I spent my morning reading and listening to all of my favorite chill out tunes by The Flaming Lips and The Shins. With some X and Sex Pistols thrown in to wake me up.

To vacation is to relax. To chill. To decompress. To read in bed staring out the window. Vacation for me is room service, jacuzzis and lounging on a pool chair in the sun.

Since the pandemic hit, we've all been cloistered indoors. My vitamin D levels were alarmingly low. Pale and bloated, my skin and weight suffered. 

During the early days of Covid, I was stuck inside all day and would work early morning to evening without taking a break to even change my clothes. I bought three sets of satin pajamas and used them interchangeably. 

My dogs were happy to have me home but I have to say, it wasn't healthy. I don't do boundaries very well even during healthy times and my home life and work life became so blurred that I couldn't get away. For some reason, I couldn't stop myself from opening my computer on the weekend to try and get ahead for the week. And I would lose hours and hours and emerge blurry eyed from my den.

The thing that saved me (and by "saved" I'm not exaggerating because my mental health was at risk) was my writing and podcasting. It gave me something to focus on. No matter what, every week I had my master's creative writing class homework due (I'm taking one class a semester for now on the 5 year plan) and every month, a podcast to plan. My creative work gave me an excuse to disengage from work after putting in much more than my required hours. It allowed me to focus on my creative side which is restorative. It gave me a pause from my taxing job where I'm trying to save people from a cruel system of injustice.

For us creatives, that is everything. For some, writing may be a chore but for me, writing is everything. It gives me a place to put everything going on in my head. I never stop, as my husband often tells me, but writing allows me to breathe and gives me space.

Back to my vacation, I'm sitting here writing this staring out the hotel window at the desert view listening to Bowie. 

I have to say, there's nothing I'd rather be doing. I think I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and doing what I love with those I love. Isn't that what life is all about my friends?


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Today and a list

Today is a day. It's just another day. I am up at 4 am and I've been up since 2 am after falling into bed exhausted at 7 pm. 

Reading through some blogs from the last year, I realize that I've documented a journey. A journey that was not always pleasurable. Yet, I'm glad I've written it. So here's a list. I love lists.

A list of things I've realized during the pandemic:

I am prone to wearing the same thing every day.

A house dress is my preferred attire after satin pajamas. 

Pajamas are for day, a punk rock tee and shorts are for bed.

I like to cook breakfast but not dinner. I'd rather order in or eat toast.

I use a lot of ink cartridges and my printer hates me.

My home office has become my work space and my bed and couch my creative space.

I have some serious intestinal issues.

I drink way too much espresso and left to my own devices, with no one checking me, I will finish a huge box of nespresso in a couple weeks (don't ask me how many pods that is because you don't want to know).

My dogs sustain me while also concurrently driving me insane.

My voice is my own.

 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Dogs in my space

My two shih tzus, Frodo and Chewbacca, are awake and tussling with one another as usual. I break it up. Frodo has a back issue, so he can't wrestle like he used to. They growl and circle one another in their dog like way. 

Chewie jumps on the couch and snuggles up against me, his caramel eyes beseeching me to feed him.

When I took Frodo outside this morning, I watched as he tried to lift his leg to pee. I put my hand out to balance him, but his leg collapsed and he leaned against the bush and stumbled as he regained his balance. 

Frodo turned his head and glared at me. I said aloud, "Frodo you did good, it's ok." Frodo ignored my cheerleading and turned and walked in the house. Chewie followed him inside.

It's 6 am and it's time to feed them their meds. Chewie is on multiple heart medications and Frodo is on multiple medications for his back. Every morning, I wrap their meds in ham and beg them to take it, but at least half the time, Frodo is somehow able to find the pill and spit it out. 

For most of my life, I was a cat person. Then, one look in Frodo's deep black eyes, and I was hooked. Frodo was a small ball of black and white fur that sucked on a blanket and growled like an Ewok. He still sucks on his blanket some thirteen years later. 

Chewie came into our lives a year after Frodo did and soon, he became my little duck, following me around wherever I went. They are my loves, my pet soul mates. 

As they get older, it gets harder. Frodo's back issues make me weep because he just wants to run and can't. It's heartbreaking to watch him struggle. Chewie has rallied and has been doing well on his meds.

Truth is, I want them both to live forever. They are my everything. These dogs in my space keep me present and remind me to live in the moment. They remind me to not get lost inside of my head. They show me what is important in life. And that sometimes, happiness is simply a bowl of food and a pat on the back.