Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Vegas baby

I have an affinity for blogging while in Vegas. This affinity is primarily driven by an inability to sleep. I wake up at six in the morning no matter what time I go to bed. After a late night out in Vegas, I usually write in the early morning, one eye cocked open, a bit hungover, while hubby snores.

Today is no different. Out past one in the morning, I awake at the ungodly hour of five a.m. I fall back asleep until seven and then awake grudgingly. I know that those tossing and turning five crap hours of sleep are probably the best it's gonna get.

Yesterday, I had went into work groaning and by lunch, I was dizzy, my head all fuzzy and I was sweating through my clothes. I was on enough pills to kill a horse. And when I came home early for a nap, I lifted my black and white chubby shih tzu Frodo on the bed and heard a pop when I turned the wrong way. Fuck, I thought to myself, my back. I laid down and tried to breathe through the pain.

Two hours and another Tylenol later, I started getting dressed. Dressing consisted of an old black peasant dress and leather sandals. I was lucky to be wearing a bra. I piled the dogs and Moms in the car and headed up the Cajon Pass to meet my husband Adrian. We waited for Adrian at his mom's house in Oak Hills near Hesperia. The weather was cool and a bit breezy. I sat outside with my dogs tapping my feet anxious and still not feeling well.

Adrian got home at almost six and we got on the road. I was grumpy and rude to him, and he snapped back at me. I think, why am I so irritable? I'm always grumpy. My mom agrees. "She was a grumpy monster earlier Adrian," she says in a sing song voice. Tattle tail.

The dogs are anxious. There's not enough room in the back seat. Chewbaca can't get comfortable. In three hours we're in Vegas. The Golden Nugget crowd is a bit rough. Everyone seems drunk. Tracy and John are already checked in. We wait in line thirty minutes for the room keys. Finally in our room, I change. Adrian watches me maneuver into my tight black leggings and asks if I'm planning on saving the world. He makes me laugh out loud and with the laughter, the pain and irritability flies away. Suddenly, I feel like a super hero. I throw on my Pixies concert tee tank top and a shawl and fringe boots and fluff my hair out. I race downstairs to find bestie. And a beer. And the slots.

Let it all be damned. The strep, the bad back, and the premenopausal sweats.

It's Vegas baby. And I'm back.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Memories

My father loved most holidays. He was not a religious person like Mom. Dad was raised dirt poor and Protestant in Montana. Later in life, he was probably more of an agnostic. But he loved the food that came along with all of the holidays. And, Dad never met a decoration he didn't like. In our house, less was not more, and there would be cardboard rabbits and garland placed there by Dad.

The night before Easter, Dad would sit with us at the table watching us making our Easter eggs. We would dip them in food coloring and write on them in wax crayon. Dad would always have to make at least one, he was really a kid at heart. I remember his Easter egg being a mix of least five different colors, a gaudy mess. After making eggs, we would play our usual game of 500 rummy and then go to sleep at a decent hour because Mom would be forcing us to church in the morning, even though she got home late from her shift at the restaurant.

In the morning, we would wake up early and go to church. Mom would give us each a dollar to put in the basket. By the time we got home, Dad would have hid plastic eggs with quarters and a few highly prized silver dollars in the backyard. Me, Jackie and Annie would scratch at our fancy clothes and run in the backyard screaming and fighting for the coin. Mom would put our Easter baskets on the table and I would always grab the chocolate bunny out of the basket and start nibbling at his ears.

We ate early on Easter because Mom usually had to go to work. I've written before about Dad's famous ham. Easter was not Easter without a ham. Covered in pineapple and maraschino cherries, and glazed to a high sheen, it was a sight to behold and delicious, a mix of sweet, crispy and salty. Dad would pair the ham with homemade potato salad, his secret, he always said, was his addition of pickle juice.  He would bake hot Pillsbury rolls and slather them in margarine and put them in a basket. There was always a dessert too.

 After lunch, Mom would get ready for her shift at the restaurant, a waitress never had holidays off. We would yell "bye mom see you later!" Mom never seemed unhappy about going to work, but looking back it must have been hard to leave. I can picture her gazing wistfully at the house as she drives away to her shift at Yanghtzee's Chinese restaurant.

The day would usually end with a movie. Dad would pull out his prized laser disc and put in his favorite, Superman. Dad always marveled at the scenes where Superman could fly. Us girls would sit and watch the movie stuffing Dad's hot buttery popcorn in our mouths by the handfuls.

Sometimes, we would all fall asleep in front of the television. Dad would put blankets on us. We would wake up when Mom got home. No matter how late it was, Dad would always warm her up another plate of ham and rolls.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The worst of times

I have had depression since high school. My first episode happened senior year. I slept and drank the year away leaving school to get my GED five units short of a diploma. It hit again almost 13 years later when I graduated from USC Law and moved to Houston. I fell into a deep black hole and almost couldn't find my way out. But I did. The third episode was after my father's death. I had moved back to the Inland Empire leaving my San Francisco law firm job and husband to finish his last year of dental school. I felt I had to come home and found work as an associate at a Riverside law firm. I cried in the shower most days hating my job and toward the end, I had no choice but to leave my law firm job to do something else. It was my job or my life. That's how it felt. That something else I found turned out to be both a job and a calling and I loved being a deputy public defender from day one.

My latest episode hit me after losing the baby I wanted so very badly after trying for many years. It was a mix of anxiety and depression, which I had never felt before. I muddled my way through the darkness. And wondered would it end. On the outside, I was good at pretending. I still went to work most days, but would have crushing anxiety driving home. It's as if I had learned a very unhealthy compartmentalism. My husband knew it was bad. I would cry in the bathtub and he would try to fix it, but some things are unfixable.

I wish I could explain how a deep depression feels. It's like being in a cave where everything is darkness and you have to feel your way around. Nothing creates happiness. Where once was joy is just emptiness.

I was lucky. I came out of it again. Back to my life and after more than a year and a half since my last episode, I see the beauty in life once again. I've been laughing more and drinking less. Food has always been a comfort, but I know that as long as I can see the light I can try and do better with my choices.

Occasionally, I still have my bad days. The night before last, I received horrible news that left me sitting alone in the dark weeping my eyes away. But in the morning, I went to work and left early to go to church. I prayed and sat staring at the stained glass windows of the church in Montclair where I had made my first communion as a young girl. It felt calm and I could finally breathe again. Then I visited my father at the cemetery down the street and when the florist handed me a freshly made bouquet of my father's favorite flowers when I had not specified any kind, I knew I was In the right place. I dug my fingers into the earth and pulled the vase out of the ground. Mud got under my fingernails. I splashed water on my shoes filling the vessel with water. And I talked to my dad and asked him to protect us. I told him we all missed him. As I drove away from the tiny cemetery, I felt some peace.

Maybe one has to strive for the light. Life is obviously not all beauty but the older I get, the more I see how we create our own happiness. And I want to be happy. I really do.