Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Holiday Daze

There is something that comes out during the holidays, both good and bad.  I see the best side of people.  But, there is also a dark side, a side of the holidays in which depression takes it hold over people.  It must be the expectations people have during the holidays.  And having to deal with family.

Family is difficult because with family it is all about expectations.  And dynamics.  A teacher once told me about a study that showed that if you are in a group of people the same size as your immediate family, you take on the same role in that group that you take on in your family.  I always found that so interesting.  Are we hard wired to be who we once were as children and young adults?  Am I doomed to always be the oldest child bossing everyone around? Or only in groups of five?

Lately, the holidays have brought out my introspective side.  It has made me ask, what do I want out of life?  What's important?  Is being a public defender (i.e. social justice) really my calling or is teaching my destiny? Or writing?  I have so many interests that sometimes I can get sidetracked, but there are some things I just know are true.  I know that my mom and I have better relationship than ever. She makes me smile with her independence and her grit.  And I am blessed to have my sisters Roberta, Jackie and Annie.  They never let me forget where I came from and who I am.

What I also know is true is that I have the inability to say no sometimes.  It is both a blessing and a curse, but last night at my mock trial team's holiday banquet, it was a blessing.  I was so glad I had said yes.  The kids make me happy.  Their enthusiasm for life is infectious and it reminds me of what is important.

What  I am getting at (in a very roundabout way) is that kids are the whole point of it all.  As a morose punk rock girl in my teens and a non-believer in my twenties, I thought procreation was for the self absorbed egoists who needed to see themselves in another.  But as a forty-something true believer in both God and people, I see that it is not procreation that is key, it is creation.

We meant to create and a creation can take the form of a book, a painting and of course, it can take the form of a child, the ultimate act of creation.  And, how you create is irrelevant.  If a child was created the natural way, or through IVF or adoption, it doesn't matter.  In the end, what is meant to be is meant to be and it was meant to be that way all along.

I guess I am here to say I still believe.  Despite all my heartache and tears over my infertility, I know there is meaning to all of this.  I was meant to go through everything I have for a reason and will appreciate every moment all the more as a result.

What I know is true today as I sit here watching my holiday Hallmark movie is that something is in the air.  And it feels like Christmas and I am hopeful for what is to come.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Hallmark

Have I ever mentioned that I am addicted to Hallmark Christmas movies?  It is similar to the way in which I was obsessed with my mom's Harlequin romance novels when I was little.  There is a similarity in the narratives.  There is almost always a happy ending.  And, Hallmark movies always make me cry.  Especially the ones with "special" people or dogs.

When I was a little girl, I remember wanting a happy ending to my life.  I would daydream about what my life would be like when I escaped the Inland Empire to the big city.  Even as a young girl, I was restless.  I wanted more than what I saw in my one horse town.

The Ontario of the 1970s was pretty barren.  There was a Pizza Hut restaurant, a McDonald's and a Yum Yum Donuts along with a string of other fast food options that no longer exist like Pup N Taco and Pioneer Chicken.  I wanted to get away from all that to Hollywood.  Hollywood was magical to me because it was the place movies were made.

As a young girl, movies were my escape (along with books).  My dad would take us to the drive-in and we were not allowed to speak once the movie started.  I can still picture my father in his Wrangler Jeans and blue pocketed cowboy shirt, his Kent cigarettes in the front pocket.  He would take us to the drive-in on Saturday nights because my mom had to waitress until late in the evening.

I have written about that drive-in many times.  The one located in Montclair on Holt and Central.  I can't help myself from writing about it.  For me, it is pure nostalgia and writing about it it brings back this feeling that I can't quite capture in words.  It is like smelling my dad's homemade popcorn and hearing his voice.

For me, those were the best of times.  Watching a movie and losing myself in it despite the static filled speakers and the plethora of car antennas sticking up into the air.  None of that mattered.  It was magical.  I saw most of the famous movies from the seventies at that drive- in.  The Superman movies, Star Trek, Star Wars and my favorite, The Bad News Bears with Walter Matthau.  My dad also loved the Herbie the Love Bug movies and anything with Richard Pryor.

I think that is why I love Hallmark movies so much.  They are the purest form of escapism.  And they make me happy.  Isn't that the hallmark of a good book or movie?  That it gives you joy.

So call me a sentimentalist.  A sappy mess.  Or even a lover of cheesy movies.  I don't care.  I'm just watching TV.  And smiling.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

I'll Be You

"A dream too tired to come true
Left a rebel without a clue
Won't you tell me what I should do?"

from I'll Be You by The Replacements with lyrics by Paul Westerberg

The punk band The Replacements have a song called "I'll Be You" that came on Pandora this morning.  It is about the wanting and the yearning to be someone else.  To do something else.  The song is about the inherent boredom and monotony of every day life which is like poison to us dreamers and restless hearts.

I have always had a restlessness, I have written about it before on this blog, but I have noticed that I have settled down in my shoes a bit.  Is it age or just fatigue?  And, I cannot tell you whether this is a good or bad thing.  I no longer see the possibilities like I used to, but I also no longer have the extreme anxiety that comes with wanting to accomplish so much.  

About eight or nine years ago, I started writing stories again, stories from my childhood and teenage years growing up in Ontario, California in the 1980s, and I thought I would have the book done and published within a couple of years.  I daydreamed that I would be the next Frank McCourt, whose Pulitzer Prize winning memoir took the literary world by storm.  

All these years later, I have seen how hard it is for some dreams to come to fruition.  That said, I have never stopped working on my craft and I have had some successes.  A number of those early stories have been published and that was something I could never have foreseen while I was writing them.  Perhaps, the little successes mean more to me now as I get older.  For me, writing really has never been about fame or money.  I'll never get rich as a deputy public defender, but I have enough.  

For me, writing is about the need to write.  It acts as a salve to all of the grief in my heart.  I don't know if I would have survived my dad's death or my infertility struggles without the written word.  

Maybe the key is to buckle down, somehow cure the restless tapping of my feet and just write and edit my way into my dreams.  The possibility is there. I know it.  Just like how I know that in another universe, I am parenting a little girl.     

So here is to being who we are.  And to this rebel who needs to get a clue.