Panorama of San Bernardino

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Voice

Last week, I was sitting in the office of HRC Fertility waiting to see Dr. Potter.  I thought to myself, is it a good sign that he has the same last name as one of my favorite young adult literary heroes?  Bee Gees played in the background.  Also a good sign.  At least the music had words.  I would have preferred 80's.  But if they had played some Smiths, I would have fainted especially if the song "Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" played.

I have abandoned my Riverside fertility clinic in favor of an Orange County one where the birth rates are higher and the office is more plush.  I figure if I am going to pay thousands of dollars out of pocket, I should get a second opinion.

My quest for a baby is ongoing.  The semantics of the process are getting tiring.  More tests and retests.  Today I am getting another uterine scan to check out my prospects.  Let me warn you reader, at forty plus, fertility is a murky proposition at best.

"Only one out of ten of your own eggs will likely be viable," Doctor Potter told me last week.  Doesn't seem too good of odds.  Doctor Potter described it as crawling across a desert on your hands and knees.  The analogy seemed a bit flawed.  Was the desert my eggs or perhaps my uterus and where was the baby?  I'll forgive him for the nonsensical comparison because I get what he's saying.  It does not look good.

Some days it's all too much to handle.  I want to turn back time and start trying in my early thirties.  I want my child to be ten and in grade school.  I would make sure she had the coolest clothes and we could go to the beach together and snuggle at night.

I finished my first felony trial yesterday and I would describe my mood as peckish.  I'm tired.  I got up at 4 a.m. to beat the traffic.  I am sitting at a tiny coffee shop off of 32nd street in Newport Beach. It's 630 am and my appointment is in two hours.  The coffee shop is quaint with small wooden tables and a no cell phone sign.  The woman at the counter has a British accent and tells me full breakfast is at seven.  "I'll wait," I say.

I get my cappuccino and take a seat.  I have a couple books with me but spy a bookcase in the corner.  John Irving's "A Prayer for Owen Meany" jumps out at me.  I grab it and take it to my table.

The first paragraph of the book talks about how the narrator found God.  Owen Meany was the reason.  He calls him "a boy with a wrecked voice".

My own faith has been a rocky road.  I feel as if my faith is being tested right now.  God has gone in and out of my life at various points.  I found him or her at UCR then again in the Bay.  I lost God when my dad died.  Those first couple years after his death were tough ones for me.

I want to have faith right now. To believe. To feel as if my prayers will be answered.

I want to hear God's voice in my ear and in my heart telling me that everything will be all right.  That it is all meant to be. But I can't get that image of the desert out of my head.  The only voice I hear is the doctor's telling me the odds are not good.  I'm struggling to shut it out and to listen for the soft sounds of hope.

Lucinda Williams' voice comes on in the coffee shop and I am soothed somehow.  My father's face comes to mind.  And how he would always make us breakfast when we were little with the sounds of country music on the stereo.  And I think of how hard my mom tried to have my twin sister and I.  She lit candles at the church and prayed on it.  She didn't give up.

Maybe it is not about the odds.  Or maybe I don't know anything at all and I'm just searching for an answer to a question that I haven't yet asked.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The World According to Me

It is midnight and I am writing while listening to the rat a tat tat of gunfire.  Gunfire from the video game my husband Adrian is playing.  He mutters to himself while he plays, "Finally getting some fucking kills," he says softly.

How does he expect me to sleep through this chaos?  At the very least, I should expect to wake up in a PTSD state.

This is my life.  I could go sleep on the couch but all I am wearing is a 16 Candles Jake Ryan t-shirt and underwear,  Plus, the dogs would follow me and bark at every noise.  And, did I mention that we live with my 80 year old mother-in-law?

And, we have been trying to have a baby for five years to no avail.  I see people in my job everyday that have multiple kids that they can't take care of.  All we want is one.  Just one child.  We would give that child everything.  Just ask our two shih-tzus who are spoiled rotten and loved to distraction.  Is it too much to ask for?

I still love Adrian more than ever.  

Adrian's hair is thick and black and he blow dries it in the morning arms out, elbows raised like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.  His eyes are the color of caramel and he has an endearing way of squinting into the sun with those eyes of his.  I tell him to wear sunglasses so he doesn't get crinkles, but he hates being told what to do.  Adrian is insanely stubborn like his mother, but soulful and sweet.  And, I feel safe when he's near.  Feeling safe is a big deal for me.  I haven't always felt safe but from the day I met Adrian 21 plus years ago, it was as if he was a warm blanket of comfort.  I yearned to be enveloped by it.

Plus, we still have fun.  Adrian loves music and concerts almost as much as I do.  The other day, a Police song came on the radio and we both sang it as loud as we could in the car in unison like two maniacs.

"I see you sent my letters back.  And my LP records and they're all scratched."

Call of Duty game aside (if I ever time travel, the first thing I will do is kill the COD creators), I am a lucky girl.  No one else could put up with my nonsense.  And I would not want anyone else to have to.  I may, despite all my complaining and whining, look back at these years as the best of times.

Am I crazy?  Maybe.  But remember, this is the world according to me.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Gravity II

Some might start the day by saying thank god it's Friday but I won't because I have a sad day ahead with my friend Felicia's funeral.  Really, I don't even want to get out of bed.  My preference is to stay covered up and warm with my dogs by my side in a cocoon of blankets and Shih-Tzus.  Hidden away.  

The funeral is not until this afternoon, but I couldn't bear to go into work today.  I had nothing on calendar and knew I would sit in my office and mope and get nothing done.  Instead, I am taking the morning off and watching TV and writing.  Price is Right and Let's Make a Deal are on my must watch list.  It is the best form of therapy.

No one likes funerals but I've had too many in my life.   I planned the funerals for both my dad John W. Mantz Jr. and my father-in-law Alberto Pelaez (who I had known for 17 years).   Funerals are mostly sad occasions that blur by, but there is always some glimmer of silver lining that peeks through.  My father's eulogy about our nights at the drive-in when I was little turned into one of the first stories in my memoir.  I hope today turns out that way.  And that it is not just the senseless tragedy I think it is for someone to die at 26.  That it all means something.

When I turned on the TV this morning, "Up Close and Personal" was on with Robert Redford and Michelle Pheiffer.  The movie is a romance and the Robert Redford character dies at the end.  I knew the ending but couldn't help watching all teary eyed.  After it was over, I switched to Sex and the City reruns on E and of course, the episode involved a funeral.  It appears that the universe is telling me that death is part of life. 

At the very least, the recent death of Felicia has made me realize that spirituality is one of the pieces missing from my life.  Wednesday was the beginning of Lent and when a co-worker walked by with ashes on her forehead, I dropped an F Bomb and rushed down to my mom's house to pick her up for the Ash Wednesday mass.  It felt necessary for some reason.

My mom and I sat in the small church on Arrow Highway in Fontana and the priest's homily talked about how love perfects faith.  It was a compelling sermon and during it, I kept looking at my mom and thinking of how hard she worked as a waitress when we were little.  How she and my father paid for our catholic school with their blood, sweat and tears.  And I remembered how she would take us to church every Sunday.  

When we got up to take communion, my mom saw her friend and told her, "I prayed that my daughter would come to church with me today and here she is.  It is a miracle."

Both my mom and I take my silver linings where we can.  Everything means something.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


I watched Gravity last night.  I needed to divorce myself from reality and lose myself in a movie.  Within minutes, I was lost in the stars and heavens of space and it was comforting.  The movie reminded me that there is a God.  There has to be.  Or at the very least, I need there to be one.  I'm selfish in that way I suppose.  Agnostics and non-believers please be kind and let me keep my faith.

This melancholiness was brought on by the fact that a friend died a couple of days ago at the age of twenty-six.  I am feeling tender.  If someone touches me, I will bruise.

This friend who passed reminded me a lot of myself at that young age (another way of saying that I saw pieces of myself in her) and I am sad for the loss of her possibilities as well as her friendship.  Her death made me see that we are all delicate plates on a shelf waiting to break.  Fragile, that is what life is.  And precious.  

In modern day America we numb ourselves with television, multiple games of Candy Crush, texting and Facebook.  It is easier to live life virtually than realistically.  Why do I blast punk music in my car and sing the whole way to work?  It must be to escape the drudgery of driving and the day to come.  Because face it, work is often monotonous and life is hard.  People die.  There are wars and famine and tragedies.

At work yesterday, I had no mask on.  My sadness was evident.  I am often sad and usually hide it under a facade of cheerfulness.  But I was too tired to pretend.  My hair was frizzy and I had no makeup on.  I sat at my desk like a zombie.  

Dammit, I am tired of pretending with everything.  I am tired of not seeking my dreams.  What the hell am I waiting for?  I have so many stories to tell.  All of them mine.

For years, I have hesitated to apply to a summer writing conference in Vermont that is very competitive.  I have been afraid that they would reject me.  Last night, I threw caution to the wind.  And somehow I knew it was meant to be because when I clicked on the applications page the deadline was March 1st.  I had no time to think, I just dusted off my writing sample and applied.

After I applied. I crossed my heart and looked up.  Into the heavens.

There is one.