Panorama of San Bernardino

Friday, December 27, 2019

Hello new year! I’m your.....

It’s a new year, well almost.

This year, I hosted Christmas. It was so much work. But worth it. We cleaned the house from top to bottom and decorated. The table settings with homemade placemats crafted by myself with glue, stockings and glitter turned out perfect.

Add in my mammoth, slow cooked prime rib eye roast and a karaoke machine and you have a party. Other than a mean shih tzu (Frodo-who believes every Christmas needs a Grinch) who terrorized the partygoers, it was a blast. Oh and there’s a rumor someone hogged the karaoke machine but it’s lies, all lies.

That said, next year we’re going to Hawaii or Fiji.

Putting Christmas aside, New Year’s Eve is pretty much my favorite holiday (other than Halloween). It is a great excuse to get sparkly and tipsy. Too things I’m very good at.

Some people say New Year’s Eve is a letdown, but that’s just an excuse for people who don’t know how to plan. This year, per the usual, we will be at an 80’s party in Las fucking Vegas. I will be sipping on all you can drink drinks and listening to the new wave tunage of the best decade ever.

And yeah, I will be sparkly.


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

It’s a Mantz Christmas

As you all know, my dad loved Christmas.

Dad would start with the Christmas music in November. Then the decorations. Red, blue and green outdoors. On every tree and bush. On the eves. An old fashioned Santa and Frosty in the front yard. One year, I think he put reindeers on the roof.

Indoors, silver and gold tinsel was everywhere. The tree shimmered with it. His singing bird in the tree was my favorite.

Next, Dad would start practicing making homemade donuts and then, planning his Christmas feast. Of course, there was always his shiny ham, a turkey, stuffing, mash, cranberries and what he called ambrosia fruit salad.

I am not even half as graceful at celebrating Christmas as my dad was. I find it stressful, and I get grumpy and overwhelmed.

This year, we are hosting after taking a break for a few years. But, I feel as if I can’t catch up. Work is crazier than usual. I haven’t cleaned the house and we are leaving for our anniversary weekend.

Worst of all, I work Christmas Eve. Last night, I had a meltdown over it all. I complained and nagged hubby to help me more in a torrent of rants.

What I need to remember, and maybe this blog is my way of reminding myself, is that Christmas is not over commercialized sparkly perfection.

To my dad, Christmas was tinsel thrown sideways. Presents wrapped a bit haphazardly. A chirping bird in a silver ball in a tree. Those homemade sugar donuts. His glazed ham. And Charlie Brown, and Rudolph on the television.

Most of all, Dad would make Christmas fun. Magical. And perhaps, that’s the secret. I need to let go and celebrate family.

And maybe, I need to get a chirping bird.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Underwater

Swimming used to be my passion. In high school, with all of the chaos at home, I would escape into the water. I swam back stroke and freestyle. Although I was never the best swimmer on the team, we had people that went to Nationals, I was passionate about it. Our pool at Chaffey High School was so damn cold, not heated like the richies at Claremont High, and our coach Nora was rough around the edges. But it was fun. I enjoyed the competition. Standing in a swimsuit shivering on the block, then the whistle or shot to go!

When I quit swim team my junior year of high school, my mental health went downhill. I was drinking and smoking. Too young to gamble, I was mirroring my father in the only ways I could.

Nowadays, I try to limit my drinking to one day a week. I don’t always succeed.

And now I’m underwater once again at work.

In over a decade, it has never been this busy. I’m organized, and some might say neurotic about deadlines and my to do list. I get the work done. I’m in court three days a week, prepping days before, reading my incompetency reports, and writing for the Riverside Lawyer Magazine. I have numerous incompetency trials ahead of me in January and I’m prepping those too.

I come home from work and fall asleep. My hubby was mad last night, and said, “You can’t fall asleep, it’s only seven!”

But I did.

I keep telling myself, this too shall pass, and it will. It has to. Right?

Friday, November 15, 2019

To sleep perchance

I want to sleep. I want to awake at ten am not at five in the morning. On Saturday at least.

They don’t tell you when you’re young, how elusive sleep may be later. I yearn for the days in my younger years when I could sleep until noon. My mom would always wake me up. “Get up Jenny! You can’t sleep all damn day!” I would say, “Mom it’s Saturday!”

Nowadays, and everyday in fact, my eyes open at five in the morning like clockwork. And, sometimes as early as four am. I know that much of it is age or hormone related. I’m in the lovely realm of post menopausal women.

My early rising also has much to do with my two evil shih tzus Frodo and Chewbacca (Chewie). They love to wake me up if, by some divine intervention, I do manage to sleep past five am.

Frodo sleeps on the bed and he will kick me. Like a horse with his back leg, Frodo pushes it out and slams it on the bed. Over and over. Chewie who sleeps on the floor on his blanket, whines. If I am so rude as to ignore that, he barks. Loudly. Over and over. It’s the same thing every morning, and like Groundhog Day. I pop my head up, moan, and get out of bed.

Who has trained who is the question?

Regardless, here I am, awake at 6 am, up for more than an hour. Maybe it’s a gift as this early bird does get the writing worm.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Mercury in Retrograde

The Mercury in Retrograde ("MIR") effect is real. I can tell you. My rudimentary explanation of Mercury in Retrograde is when the the planet Mercury is closet to the sun and appears to move in reverse in the astrological chart.

MIR creates chaos for many people, especially those sensitive to the planetary influences. It can impact communication, emotional mood, productivity, relationships, organization, travel, technology and even such banal things as the signing of contracts.

And, for those who think I am getting too "new age" here, just think of it as a transitionary period and a change of the seasons.

Personally, I felt the shift beginning on Halloween (the first day "MIR"" started). The lights were out. Our power was turned off and I was panicking. Even when the power returned, I had extreme anxiety. Days later, that feeling didn’t go away.

I did my best. I meditated and saged my bedroom. Prayed. Yet, the “opening up” of meditation almost seemed to make things worse and I spiraled in my head. I felt a little lost. Still do.

Even at a conference, I was off kilter. Not feeling exactly like myself.

The funny part is that until this, I have had a good month. October was super productive. I finally finished trying to organize my closet into manageable chaos. It had been a year long project, one my husband Adrian had suffered through, walking over piles in the closet, getting dressed in the laundry room for months. In September, my therapist had suggested that I work on hanging or giving away just 5 pieces a day. Her suggestion worked (what some call therapy, I call magic) and after those three weeks of culling and two full days of organizing, I am almost done.

Singing every morning is always a good sign for me and with regard to my memoir, I finished a draft of my memoir and started work on a second draft. And at work, I was rocking and rolling.

But, with the Mercury in Retrograde all that productivity came to a freeze. I’m spinning my wheels. Everything is going wrong. My usual strong skills of organization at work seem weak. I’m trying but it’s hard. Yesterday at work, I felt it to the point where I had very toxic interactions. I had to leave court to take a walk and decompress.

So tread warily my friends. This shit is real and will end on November 20th right before Thanksgiving, a good sign for the holidays.

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Year Southern California Edison Killed Halloween

Everyone cares about Christmas. And I think, Christmas is all right. I like giving gifts, watching Hallmark Christmas movies and the baby Jesus in the manger, but it’s not Halloween.

Halloween, as I’ve said before, is the best holiday of the year. I adore the scent of leaves and fall, pumpkin drinks and candy. Best of all, goth culture is celebrated. It’s cool to be a witch. I adore the idea of costuming and transformation. It’s fun. There’s an element of play, but also of drama.

This year, Southern California Edison (“SCE”) killed Halloween for me. They might as well have put a dagger in Jack Skellington’s heart. It was the nightmare before Halloween.

They kept turning the power off the two weeks before Halloween due to winds. What was odd was that everyone had power all around us except for our small enclave of a community in unincorporated San Bernardino. North Fontana had power. Even Devore had power. But not us. Our food spoiled and spoiled again. We stopped buying groceries and existed on fast food. If we were too lazy to leave the house, we grilled toast in a pan after lighting the pilot with a match.

Then, SCE turned the power off again on October 29th, two days before Halloween. The winds were pretty strong that day, but I scowled and stomped through the house getting ready for work in the dark.

The next night I fretted. It was the 30th, a mere day before Halloween. Still no power.

“They have to turn it on by Halloween,” I said to Adrian with a squeal of unhappiness as I munched fries from McDonalds for dinner. “Or they will kill Halloween!  And what will we do with all of this damn candy?”

The morning of the 31st came and fires raged in Southern California. I got dressed in the dark and went to court early with witch earrings dangling for a hearing on a medication issue. But the bus bringing the client from the state hospital broke down so my hearing got continued. I went to my other department and finished my calendar bemoaning the power outage. “It just doesn’t feel like Halloween.”

Early afternoon at work, I got a fire alert text and raced home. Luckily, the fire was miles and miles away off the 18 freeway. I took my mother in law to an appointment and drove by the pumpkin patch which was empty and forlorn. The winds whipping my hair, I saw the twenty dollar price tags and walked out and bought a pumpkin at Ralph’s for a steal at 99 cents.

I came home and used the last of my phone battery to play Halloween songs while carving my pumpkin. At four pm, I gave up and texted my mom to stay home.

Teary eyed, I sat my pumpkin on the mantle. His crooked grin mocked me. Adrian says I carve like a school kid.

All I wanted was to do our yearly tradition. Every year, my mom comes over in her witch hat and Halloween appliqué vest. We stuff our faces with pizza and when dusk comes, we fill up our witchy wine goblets and sit in the front of the house on patio chairs playing music with a big bowl of candy to hand out. We have our private committee of two judging the costumes. “That princess was cute,” my mom will say. “I liked the Dalmatian,” I’ll reply.

My mom always talks too much to the kids. “You’re scaring them,” I’ll say. She’ll cackle and laugh.

But this year, no. Alas, I sat in the house with the gas fire in the fireplace debating with Adrian when the power would go back on and whether we needed to buy a generator. By seven pm, I gave up and went to get Chinese food. On the way back, I saw a straggle of teenagers with sacks walking the blocks. The whole neighborhood was pitch black.

Walking into my house, I sighed. “This sucks.” I ate an egg roll by the light of our lantern, then went upstairs. Too depressed to even wash my face, I wiped off my eyeliner with a wipe and took a swig of Benadryl.

“Screw Edison,” I muttered while I dozed off to sleep with my husband snoring beside me. The wind whispered back a “woooooooooooo”. I shivered.

The power came on at 2 am. The day after Halloween.








Wednesday, October 30, 2019

It’s know it’s not over

This evening, I had leg cramps again. They started in my ankles. Then the cramps moved to my calves. I started panicking. My hand went numb. My shoulder ached. What if I was having a stroke?

I took an aspirin and went downstairs. Ate a banana.

I thought about my recent panic attack driving in the carpool lane of the 134 freeway. We were on our way to the Morrissey show at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday night. How at that moment, driving 75 miles per hour in the carpool lane, I felt as if I could die. That my car would ram into the wall of the freeway, killing me and my husband in an instant.

My hands were so wet and slippery on the steering wheel that I could barely hold on. Tears were in my eyes. I was gnashing my teeth and hyperventilating. Adrian, who was sleeping in the passenger seat, woke up to my whimpering and gently guided me out of the lane and to safety. Later, I laughed and sang the lyrics to a Smiths’ song to Adrian, “And if a double decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side, is such a heavenly way to die.”

My greatest fear is not of dying, but of not accomplishing the publication of my book before I die. Don’t misunderstand me, I love life. My life is beautiful in many ways. But what I want and need most is to have my voice be out in the universe. More than anything, I want my words and my stories to be remembered.

Desperately.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

Here comes your man

The pain is blinding.  Hemorrhoids suck. It feels like pieces of glass are stuck in my asshole.

I try and breathe my way through it, then give up. I run upstairs wincing with every step. Chewie is running behind me, his tongue hanging out. I walk into my bedroom and rummage around in my nightstand. I find my pen and take a hit. It tastes like skittles. I blow the smoke out then rub CBD cream on my back.

I lay down in my bed and breathe. I practice my meditation imagining a white light. Chewie whines and then barks to get on the bed. I lift him up and stare into his light brown eyes, they’re the color of candy caramels. He licks my face. I kiss his nose.

I shout into the air, “Hey Google, play Pixies!”

Google says back, “Sure, playing Pixies on Pandora.”

I imagine I’m in an ocean swimming, the waves lapping my pain away. My ass is throbbing, but the hemorrhoid pain is lessening from a ten to a more manageable five. It goes to an even duller ache and I start singing along, “There is a wait so long, so long so long, You’ll never wait so long. Here comes your man.”

Singing always makes me happy. I hear the door downstairs open. Adrian is home. Frodo starts barking. A tear rubs down my face, residue from the pain I was in.

I smile. Throwing off my house dress, I pull on a Replacements t-shirt and some leopard print shorts and wash my face. I smile at my reflection willing myself to smile and act happy. No one loves a negative Nancy.

The pain is gone and suddenly I’m laughing. I’m relieved and euphoric, as if I’m drugged. But, I’m not high. Instead, it is the absence of pain that makes me joyful.

I go downstairs.



Friday, September 20, 2019

Sequins and charley horses

Last night, I had an attack of leg cramps, what some call a charley horse. My left leg cramped and then my right. I laid in bed writhing in pain and muttering for it to stop. The more I fought it, the worse it got. Aside from just moaning through it, there was not much I could do. It happened at midnight, at two am and then at four am. On the last attack, I started crying and my husband woke up and comforted me, kneading my calf.

By five am, tuckered out, I got up. Chewbacca was already whining to go out and I left my husband in bed trying to get some sleep.

I feel as if life has been like this lately. I will be doing all right, feeling peaceful and then something will hit. Adrian's brother untimely death, my foot issues, work stressors, and then, Chewbacca's chronic heart condition will worsen. I keep waiting for the next shoe to drop with a thud that upends my life and leaves me crying for it to stop.

Last night, ironically enough, I attended a dinner for the Riverside County Bar Association at the Mission Inn. I wanted to look good so I had my hair blown out and wore a sparkly sequined blazer over my black work dress. I picked up my colleague Jen and she looked gorgeous in a flowered blazer.

Driving over, we felt great. Then, I walked in and saw all of the suits and I had a flashback to my law firm life so many years ago. The late nights, the never ending social functions and dinners, the travel and the stress of it all. Of course, I made my way to the bar to get a beer.

It is not lost on me that the night I attended a gala with many law firm people in attendance, I had cramps in my legs all night. I had a great time, don't get me wrong, the dinner was beautiful. I mingled and made small talk and even (thank god!) saw a writer friend. But, I was uneasy. Eventually, I sweated my blow out away and could not cool down, no matter how hard I fanned myself.

You see I never fit in with the white shoe law firm crowd. Never. No matter how hard I tried. And believe me, I tried.

At the public defender's office, I have always fit in, from day one, and there are people way more quirkier than I. Here, at my work home, I am not an anomaly. Instead, I am one of the tribe.

I guess what I need to realize from it all is that I am lucky to be where I am. Where my talents are used to their best for society and where I may attend a fancy dinner at the Mission Inn, but its not mandatory.

Walking to my car, two young men of color sauntered down the street. One of them, who was wearing a fabulous silver lame fanny purse, looked at me and said, "Girl, I love that jacket."

I looked at him and smiled and said, "Part Golden Girl, Part Bowie" and we all burst out laughing. I felt like I made a real connection on the street in front of the Mission Inn on a Thursday night in Riverside. Finally, I felt like I could be me.




Monday, August 26, 2019

Back to School

In January, I will be starting school again. It is a part time, online MFA program for creative writing, one built for working professionals. The program can be done on weekends, which allows me to keep my job as a deputy public defender).

I was dwelling on it all morning and kept thinking, what am I doing? Am I crazy? Am I too old? Too tired? Too sick with my chronic health issues? My memory is not very good anymore, and I have to wear reading glasses. Maybe I am just scared? Change can be terrifying, but it is usually good for the soul.

What if I fuck it up? I chose the least expensive program I could find, but it is still a lot of money relatively speaking. Why can’t I just be content with what I have? Why do I have to make life more difficult for myself?

My life is good. I love my husband, dogs and aside from the infertility issue, I am blessed. But, something is missing. I feel as if I need a new goal and structure to help me finish my book.

I have always loved school. I feel at home in school. A nerd since birth, school has always defined me.

What I call my “lost year”, the year I dropped out of high school, is pretty much the only time I have done poorly in school. Even in junior college at Mt. San Antonio in Walnut, after the debacle of my senior year of high school and taking my GED, I excelled. I was the editor of the college newspaper and transferred to UCR with a very high GPA after five years of going part time while waitressing full-time.

By the time I transferred to UCR, I was on a mission to finish. As a result of that determination, I was done in exactly two years. I could hardly believe it, I had a BA in English. This little poor girl from the IE had graduated from a university, magna cum laude no less. I felt as if I had climbed Mount Everest. It only took seven years total.

Next USC Law, which was a breeze after my seven year bachelor’s degree in English Literature. And, I was finished by thirty. A lawyer. One would think I would be done. Exhausted by it all. But no.

Come January, my goal is to find the nerd inside of me again. I will get that degree and plan on finishing my book and starting a new one.  I know myself and I’m best when I’m busy, goal orientated and focused.

I will get my MFA dammit and know my dad will be looking down smiling saying, “I always knew you could do it Jenny.”




Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Happy Ending

When I was little girl, I just wanted a place of my own. Somewhere quiet where there was no screaming.  I wanted out of the chaotic house I lived in. I wanted out of Ontario, California, the little pissant town I grew up in. I wanted a fairy tale type of happy ending.

Yet, ironically, I ended up living only about twenty miles from where I grew up.

I never thought I would move back. I moved around, and lived in Los Angeles, Houston and San Francisco.  At one point, I almost moved to Arizona and always wanted to live in New York.

But when my Dad died, I stopped my wandering and moved back home to the Inland Empire. I was shattered, barely together, grieving my father's death. I needed to be close to my sisters and my mom.

I was happy to be close to my family. My mom and I became very close. Me and my sisters and my nieces were able to to build close relationships. I reconnected with my best friends from high school Tracy and Melinda. I got married.

The work part was more of a transition. I took a job at another large firm and that was the nail in the coffin for my corporate litigation career. I was done. Burnt toast. I decided to try something different and applied to all of the public defender agencies in Southern California.

Riverside chose me and I was overjoyed (aside from the paltry paycheck which does get better with time). When I came to the public defender's office that first day, I knew it was the right decision. I knew I was in the right place. A good place. With good people.

Now, I love my job, my colleagues and the clients. Some might say that it is hard to represent criminal defendants, but I think it is easier than corporate and governmental entity clients because my clients are real people. They are people who made a mistake (or sometimes people who are just accused and who are innocent).

Most importantly, my clients are the most special because in my competency speciality, they are severely mentally ill or disabled cognitively and sometimes both. They are the most helpless.

Think of this: How would you feel if your parent with dementia was accused of hitting someone when he was in the throes of his disability and he was stuck in the jail to rot? To die. It's a horrible situation and one I faced recently. I had to think out of the box, and with a team approach with the family, a concerned Court and jailhouse staff, a good Prosecutor and myself, I was able to get my client into a long term dementia/Alzheimer's care facility.

Recently, I was wondering how I got here. I face chaos every day, why do I love this job? What I realized is that I always try and make it better for the clients and their families. And, I love to help my colleagues with problematic issues and clients. I find it rewarding.

And maybe that's what I always wanted. To make an ugly world a more beautiful place. And I am.

It's not perfect, of course. My job is stressful, and life can be difficult. But I am home, where I belong, close to my mom and sisters. And, aside from my crazy shih tzus barking all of the time,  I did get the pretty and quiet house I always wanted with a gorgeous husband.

I guess I got my happy ending.



Monday, August 19, 2019

Put It Together

How I wish I was put together. I want to have dark, sleek hair. With no grey. With a tight butt and a trim waist and sexy long legs. How does it feel to want?

My foot is better, but I look at myself in the mirror and think, I am a mess. My hair looks matted. My eyes have bags. And the wrinkles. It’s easy to say you would never spend money on expensive face treatments when you’re young. But staring down the lens of fifty, only a few years away, has made me consider what I thought I never would.

Now, I’m sitting outside in my David Bowie t-shirt and my pj shorts, thinking what’s clean to wear to work today? Or what’s clean enough.

Thankfully, I have a trove of black dresses to rummage through. Pair those with tights and flats and a blazer or cardigan and I’m good enough. I seriously do not know how people wear high heels and fancy outfits to work. It takes too much out of me. Who are they trying to impress? Other county workers? Ha!

I prefer a black dress uniform I can accessorize. Because after waking up at 5 am, picking up the house a bit, giving the dogs their food and meds and walking them, I could care less. Or is it I couldn’t care less? Either way, I usually say fuck it. Especially on days like today where I don’t have court.

And while I know I should just go to Macy’s and buy some new suits, at least four, I just do not have the energy. Or the inclination. Truth be told, I would rather sit here squinting on my phone writing than do anything else. I’ve been working on a story about my high school days and I love (crave) the feeling of falling back into my fifteen year old self, back when my life had possibilities so immense they were scary.

I know where life leads. If I follow the safe path, seven to thirteen years until retirement. Then I can live. And write. Write all day in bed. A cup of coffee on my bedside. Hell, I’ll IV the caffeine in if I have to.

What am I saying here? That I’m unhappy? No. I think I am just yearning for something more. The unsafe. The unseen. The unknowable.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Yesterday

Yesterday, I felt something I hadn’t in a while. Joy.

I was at work. I was slammed. Running around as usual. Trying to get my paperwork done and my cases called.

But then, I slowed down. I talked to a client outside for an hour about her son after I got her case dismissed. She hugged me. She thanked me over and over and her gratitude was food for my soul.

Another client’s family came up and thanked me. They brought me a beautiful card. They hugged me.

Another family member thanked me. Blessed me.

My heart swelled. It was as if a higher power was putting all of the love on one day to remind me that it’s all I need.


A writing friend posted an excerpt from a poem called Kindness by Naomi Shihab Nye and it really spoke to me. Here’s a portion of it:


“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth. Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore...”

I guess what I realized yesterday is that you have to be present and you have to be kind. The universe will pay you back tenfold.

And, all of my sorrow has a purpose.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

A day

Today is just a day. An ordinary day.

My life has a pattern to it at the moment. I get up early between 4-5 am and medicate the dogs. It takes me an hour to coax Chewie to eat his food and meds. Then I walk the dogs, sometimes twice. I drink espresso and pick up the downstairs and do laundry while watching my latest addiction Face Off (a character special effects/makeup competition) on Sci Fi Channel.

At 7 am, I make Adrian coffee and both of us something for breakfast and then go upstairs to quickly get dressed and leave for work by 7:30 am. I feel as if I live a lifetime every morning. On the days I carpool with Adrian, we will sometimes skip breakfast and get a smoothie.

Then work. That’s a whole story in itself. Best saved for another day. But I love my job and try to be efficient with my time.

When I come home (by 530 usually), we eat. If Adrian’s not home yet, his mom and I wait for him to eat. I give Chewie his night heart meds and then take the dogs out. By 8 pm, I’m beat. I go upstairs and take my medicine for my chronic issues which makes me drowsy and a bit dazed. I lay in bed and want to write. And at times, I do. Sometimes, I read instead of writing, with my lil furry Wookiee by my side. I listen to his breathing and it lulls me to sleep. My husband comes to bed about ten pm, sometimes inadvertently waking me up, and if I wake up, I will try to keep my eyes open to watch tv with him but they will eventually close.

My days are merging together, like a film on fast forward. Everything is blurry. Is this what middle age is supposed to be like? Or am I in crisis and just trying to get by, one day at a time?

Does it even matter? Should I care? When I was in Texas a couple of weeks or so ago (it already feels like months ago), I was on edge yearning to be home. And now I’m here and I’m sleepwalking through my days.

But maybe it’s just a day. An ordinary day. An ordinary life. There’s some beauty in that. I think.


Friday, August 2, 2019

One

My shih tzu Chewie is on multiple medications for his heart condition which has worsened recently. One of the medications, a diuretic, is severely impacting him. He doesn’t want to eat because his already large tongue is swollen from dehydration. It’s so bad he whines because he is hungry, but with his huge tongue it is hard for him to eat.
The lyrics from the song One” by U2 came to my mind. U2 has always inspired and comforted me. To me, they have always been a spiritually minded band. And while their early albums were political as well, they all really speak to faith. 
The song “One” is an apt example of this because it is hymn like: “We’re one but we're not the same We get to carry each other, carry each other.” 
The words capture a universal truth. We are one. We are all not the same. But we have an obligation to one another. This is nowhere more true than with pets.
My two shih tzus are my best friends. Other than my husband, there is no one I’d rather live with. For me, they’re the ones I carry. Literally at times. I always carry the fat one, Frodo, up the stairs because he’s lazy (should have named him Samwise), and Chewbaca, otherwise known as Chewie, trots behind us. 
Late last night, Chewie and Frodo had both stood by the bed waiting for me to pull them up. I picked them up and put them both on Adrian’s side. Falling into the bed, I cuddled Chewie and stared into his caramel colored, Wookiee looking face. Chewie licked my face and I sighed, exhausted.
Tonight, on the way home from work, I picked up a roasted chicken. When Adrian grabbed a leg and started eating it, I said, “hey that’s for Chewie!” Adrian laughed and said, “You think he’s going to eat a whole chicken?” I spent an hour trying to feed Chewie, to no avail. When Adrian tried, Chewie’s taste buds awakened and he ate a piece of chicken and some toast. I clapped and almost shouted, “hallelujah!” My eyes welled up with tears for the little shih tzu who ate. 
Sometimes, one little victory is enough. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

On the haunt

I have learned to fit in anywhere. It could be from my years of corporate law practice playing the role of Eliza Doolittle. Or maybe it’s because I am a natural chameleon. Regardless, I don’t ever get intimidated.

I act like I own the joint. And then they think I do. Whether it’s a five star hotel or a fancy restaurant, I have the swagger to pull it off. And it’s not my clothes, because I dress quirky. It’s mostly attitude. (And some privilege perhaps of “passing”).

As an example, I am in San Antonio for the Macondo Workshop this week and quickly realized I’m far too old for a twin bed dorm. Even though the dorms are clean and modern with a fabulous game room, they are still dorm rooms. And I shivered all night with the one blanket provided (bringing to mind the Joni Mitchell lyric, “I miss my clean white linen and my fancy French cologne”) and woke up wanting to explore before class. So I decided to find the famous haunted hotel next to the Alamo. I am writing this at that haunted hotel, the Menger Hotel. The hotel is stunningly gorgeous with the coolest old timey furnishings. Definitely worth the trip and the parking charge.

For the last hour, I have been working in the Menger Hotel’s gorgeous courtyard, birds chirping, after having breakfast. I could care less if anyone questions me. But no one has. And they won’t. Plus, I figured, I patronized their restaurant (which was bland Howard Johnson type buffet food) so I can enjoy their beautiful patio.

A few years ago, a writing friend of mine let my husband and I stay her condo in Molaki, Hawaii for a free vacation. She even let us use her car. We crashed the bar at the only hotel on the island for their free customer happy hour. After an hour and a couple of free drinks each, the manager said, “how do you like your room?” I said unapologetically, “We’re not staying here.”

The manager got such a kick out of my honesty that he bought us another round and I told him I’d write up his hotel on my blog. We even became Facebook friends.

So I will continue to sit here in this haunted patio sipping my coffee. Not a care in the world. If you see me, just wave.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tumbleweeds

Some days, I feel like a tumbleweed. Rolling in the wind. Time just passing me by.

Sometimes, you drive down a dust filled highway and see one. They always look dangerous to me, so prickly. But if I am a tumbleweed, I am defined by what is missing, and not by my thorns.

It has been a hard couple of weeks. My dog Chewie has a severe health issue and I am overcome by anxiety and sadness over it. Most days, after work, I come home and go straight upstairs with him after giving him his meds. I watch mindless television while he sleeps on my stomach snoring. It's like they sing in that old Kinks song, "the only time I feel alright is by your side".

I know it is probably not "normal" to feel like this over a dog. But, I can't help my feelings. Chewbaca's been by my side for over ten years, through my infertility treatments, through deaths, through sadness and joy. Chewie follows me around like a duck whenever I am home and to have him not be there anymore, his long tongue sticking out of his little brown Ewok looking face and those soulful, caramel colored eyes looking into mine. Well, I seriously do not even want to imagine it.

For now, I just do the best I can. The same old song and dance. Everyday. Get up. Medicate him, feed and walk him and Frodo. Go to work. Think of him mid day, hoping he's OK and drinking enough water for all the meds he is on. Come home and pick him up as soon as I walk inside the house.

But, I am mindful of our time. Trying to be positive while realistic, knowing that eventually the day will come.

Until then, I will try not to let it bring me down.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

This Writing Life

I realized, after reading some of my more recent blogs, that I never told my readers/friends what happened with my quest for a MFA in creative writing. I know I said that I was taking the plunge, but when push came to shoving myself into the pool of creative writing, I floundered and kind of took a dive off a short board rather than a tall one.

It was a very difficult decision. In order to take the fully funded/free ride brick and mortar offer I received from UCR, I would have had to give up my job as a deputy public defender, a job I love. And, I am good at it. Plus, there is no such thing as a two year leave of absence, at least not with keeping your pension and years of service intact. As much as I was grateful for the opportunity, I declined. It just about broke my heart into pieces to say no.

Finally, after putting it off, I called UCR, and pulled the trigger. Once it was final, I knew in my heart that as hard as it was to say no, I had made the right decision. I am forty something and need security along with my writing. And, dammit, my clients need me. They really do. Desperately.

Even more more importantly to my life as a writer, it gave me a huge surge of confidence to know that UCR saw something in me that I didn't necessarily see in myself. The adviser told me that the professors were impressed by my talent and dedication to my craft. That external validation is everything because while I know that I may seem self assured, I am not. The imposter syndrome is real and pernicious and I have a bad case of it with my writing.  But not anymore. In the end, it was definitely worth the application process to hear that I am worthy.

Then, I had to decide what to do next. After much consternation, and with the advice of trusted writing friends/teachers/advisors, I elected to go with an online low residency MFA. I chose University of New Orleans ("UNO"), the least expensive option between UNO and UCR Palm Desert. There is no funding with low residency MFAs in creative writing, so I knew it had to be affordable. And it is (UNO is about 75% cheaper than UCR Palm Desert).

Someone said to me during my decision making process that I could not have it all, but I am going to try. Seriously, I am going to try to have it all. Just watch me.


Saturday, June 29, 2019

GO

There’s a song called “Go” by Tones on Tail that I used to listen to in high school. It was an infectious song that made you want to jump up and down. Back then in the 80s, we used to go to a club called Marilyn’s in Pasadena and they would always play the song at the end of the night. The song would come on and my best friends and I would run onto the dance floor screaming with joy, dancing in a circle holding hands.

I wish I could still feel excitement like that. Most days, I feel hobbled and so damn old for my forty something self. Yes, I know I need to exercise and eat better, but the worse I feel, the worse I eat and the less I move.

Even when we were in France last month, I didn’t feel young and free like I thought I would. I was happy, yet also anxious, worrying about this or that and in constant pain from my foot issue.

Some days, the only place where I feel like me is here. On the page.

It’s as if I am my real self here and all of the other “JEMs” don’t matter. Here, I am only JEM the narrator.

I am not:

The attorney who over preps on a regular basis, and cares so much about her clients that her stomach hurts.

I am not:

The girl who can’t sleep, or the early riser who wakes up and quickly downs two double espresso shots to start the day.

I am not:

The sad girl who drinks too much then wakes up in the middle of the night asking herself if she’s just like her alcoholic father.

I am:

The happy girl who dances to Bowie and The Pixies whenever she can. The woman who loves her two shih tzus to distraction and loves to make her husband pancakes.


I am:

The girl would sell her soul to see a punk or post punk show and who adores The Cure, X and U2 so much that they make her cry when she sees them live.

I am not:

The woman who thinks she is too old, and tired.

I am not:

The girl who weeps every time she thinks of her failed IVF and that horrible day when all her dreams of a baby shattered into fragments.

I am:

A writer.

I am:

The girl who tells herself every morning, “GO!” And then the girl gets up. Maybe not with as much gusto as she had at sixteen, but still, it’s something.


Saturday, June 22, 2019

Dreams

Today is a new day. I have been in a funk lately. Upon returning from France, my foot worsened and I was forced to stay upstairs in bed most nights unable to do much of anything.

But this last week was better and today, I feel optimistic. I had a piece selected for a podcast. It is a memoir piece detailing my childhood food memories. The story was a piece I had put in a drawer years before and when I saw a pitch request a couple of weeks ago, I pulled it out and sent it. And, the editor accepted it with minor changes.

It taught me that you just have to seize opportunities. Listen to your instincts and act. Take a leap. Don't overthink it and magic can happen because every action has a reaction.

The next thing on my agenda is to do a dream board. I made one years ago, but it got destroyed and thrown away in a move. A dream board is just that, a visualization with pictures of your dreams on a large board. I plan on making it tomorrow. While making it, I will also verbalize those dreams aloud. An agent. Not only one book, but two or three.

Years ago, I saw a psychic and she told me I would have three children. I always thought they would be literal, but now I realize, after my infertility struggles, that perhaps, just perhaps, those children were meant to have spines made of paper and not of bone.




Saturday, June 15, 2019

Putting one foot in front of the other

Like most people, I take my feet for granted. I had been given the gift of mobility. Then all of a sudden, poof, I had it taken away.

Well, not completely taken away because I could walk. It’s just that every step felt as if someone was stabbing my left heel. With a pitchfork.

The issue started a little more than a year ago. At first, it was a mild pain when I stood at work, then more severe, but intermittent. Then it was constant, and every little step I took was agony.

It worsened when we were on vacation in France. I decided it was cab time and while I wasn’t happy to miss the Palace of Versailles due to the walking required, I muddled through and still did the Louvre, the Sacre-Coeur, and the Eiffel Tower, along with other attractions. One day, I walked more than I should have and had to elevate for hours before I could even take a step.

When we got home, I saw a podiatrist. Many call podiatrists sadists, but mine was sweet and especially kind when I cried huge crocodile tears like a baby during the cortisone shot. Imagine someone freeze spraying your foot then jamming a needle into an already tender heel with liquid that feels like nitrogen. That’s a cortisone shot.

Then the podiatrist referred me to a prosthetic device office. When I got there, I was horrified by all of the racks of special shoes thinking, is this what I’ve come to? Suddenly, I remembered when I was seven years old and my mom took me to a podiatrist. They forced me to wear huge, weird shoes with owls on the front, (yes owls!) that were meant to correct my pigeon toed gait, but instead just marked me as a sad, seven year old nerd.

Because of those damn shoes that I wore for a year, I refused to have my eyes tested (owl shoes AND glasses were unacceptable to my seven year old self). I squinted at the board through elementary school and lived in a blurry and fuzzy world until junior high.

Thankfully, the office informed me that I was just there for a brace and a boot. The day brace was annoying, but tolerable. The night boot was awful. I was supposed to wear it at night to stretch the tendons. It basically kept my foot at a 90 degree angle while I slept which was uncomfortable hell. The first night I didn’t sleep and then in the morning, I couldn’t walk without shooting pain in my foot.

Today, I woke up and while I wouldn’t say I am pain free, my foot does feel better. Like most people do, I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other. And maybe I’ll even dance a little. To The Smiths or Pixies of course.






Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A simple song

This is a song about a girl
It's just a song
For you to come along
It might make you cry
It might make you wonder why
all those sleepless nights
buried in your head

Dont cry little girl
just dry your eyes
lift your head up and smile
I have to see you smile

This is just a song
about a girl 
no ordinary girl
An extraordinary girl
the world was yours
But no one knew 
what lay beneath your dreams


Dont cry little girl
Just dry your eyes
lift your head up and smile
I have to see you smile

Did I say this was a simple song
That you maybe you could sing along
perhaps I was wrong
I think we were wrong 
nothing's simple in a world
where everything is twirling 
All around you

Dont cry little girl 
dont cry little girl
Please dont cry girl
Dry your eyes

Lift your head up and smile
I have to see you smile

At least for a little while

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Home

“Oh California, I'm coming home.  Oh make me feel good rock n' roll band.  California, I'm your biggest fan.  California, I'm coming home."  California by Joni Mitchell 

I am home and it feels good.

In the morning, I walked the dogs and got the mail. Eyes squinting, I marveled at the blue sky and palm trees. I watched television with my feet up (Game of Thrones) and told my mother in law about our trip. I called my best friends and sorted clothes and souvenirs. In the evening, stomach rumbling, I went to get fast food for dinner and went to bed at 8 pm with a sore throat. Snuggling into the warmth of my dogs and my (unfortunately) sick and coughing husband in our own bed, I sighed in contentment.

I awoke to my husband watching the Barcelona soccer game. “Can you make bacon and eggs?” he said in a gravely voice, eyes watery from his cold. “Of course,” I said and put bacon in the defroster and grabbed the last three eggs from the fridge. As I cooked, I made a grocery list and waved him away when he tried to watch me cook.

In short, I was home.

It felt surreal and real. The spoiled shih tzus whined. I fed them and gave them medicine and walked them. The sky was grey. It was drizzling and it reminded me of our first day in France.

Maybe, I thought, beauty is everywhere and in everything. Especially, here at home.

Monday, May 13, 2019

An IE Girl in Paris part deux

We’re here. In Paris. Adrian is sleeping while I write this. I can hear the traffic beginning outside, but because it is six am, the city is still sleeping and is quiet.

The Eiffel Tower is outside our window. Literally. We are staying at the Pullman, an English hotel. I chose it for the view.

We checked in yesterday after a whirlwind of a trip with my first cousin Pascale and her son Xavier. They treated us so well. We stayed with them in a small town called Quincampoix. They picked us up from the airport on Friday and it was a two hour drive back to their beautiful home in the countryside where we drank wine and ate cheese while getting acquainted.

On Saturday, they took us sightseeing in the stunning medieval town of Roune (where Joan of Arc burned). We saw the Notre Dame Roune (a smaller version in their city) and the gothic law court building.

The next day (Sunday), we went to the beach town of Dieppe. It was so picturesque that words won’t do it justice. That night, Pascale and I had a nice talk and connected both as family and friends. She felt less like a cousin, and more like a sister.

Yesterday, after a fond farewell, Pascale and Xavier drove us to the train station in Roune. It didn’t start out auspiciously. The tickets machines were all broken so we had to stammer through broken French to try and buy tickets from the conductor who, it turned out, spoke English. We barely made the noon train and sat on the steps of the train rather than dragging our luggage to look for a seat. About thirty minutes in, the conductor came by and directed us to leave our luggage and took us to seats. The train was more Bart like than train like, but after a little more than an hour, we were in Paris.

We found a taxi and zipped through the Parisian streets. The traffic was like New York on steroids. When I saw the Eiffel Tower, I lost it. Completely overwhelmed I looked at Adrian and with tears in my eyes said, “I can’t believe we’re here.”

What I really meant was (to quote the Talking Heads), how did I get here? As a young girl, I used to dream that one day I would travel to different countries, but I always thought it was just a dream. And to be here, in the city of love and sophistication is unbelievable. But believable too. And I know that I am privileged to be here.

Yet, I still have to be myself too, so sophistication aside, today I will be wearing my Ramones shirt and I am going to walk Paris and remember I’m still me.

JEM is in Paris!




Saturday, May 11, 2019

An IE Girl in Paris

We did it. My husband and I got on a plane and flew to France. It wasn’t easy. My husband had to close his dental office. I had to take a week off and make arrangements for my mom to stay with my 85 year old mother in law Orieta that we care take for. I had to set out my dogs’ medicines and a list of numbers. I made up the guest room for my mom and our master bedroom for my nephew who might visit while we’re gone. It seemed insurmountable at first. I literally screamed while packing, frustrated that I couldn’t fit my boots in the suitcase. 
But, it finally all came together. We flew ten hours and arrived at Charles De Gaulle at 8 am. I didn’t sleep on the plane. Instead, I watched a movie with Julia Roberts about a family struggling with addiction, a BBC David Bowie documentary, and then a Joan Jett documentary called “Bad Reputation.
My first cousin Pascale, along with her son Xavier, picked us up at the airport. They live in a beautiful and quaint town called Quincampoix. It took about two hours to get there. We drove on highways, and then on small country roads, passing the lush green countrysides of France. We drove through many small towns with cute fairy like houses. It felt surreal. 
Still on fumes from no sleep, I managed to stay awake. We spent last night drinking wine and munching on bread and cheese. We talked about our fathers and families. And marveled that we’re together in France. I never knew Pascale’s father, my uncle. He died a few years before I was born. I kept thinking how happy my father would be to know I’m here.
The town is lovely. There is a wonderful Parisian bakery, a gorgeous church, a small little library and a cemetery. I know it’s a cliche to say as a goth girl, but I love cemeteries. Their headstones are different, longer, all marble and ornate. 
This morning, we got up early (it’s 9 am now) and walked to the bakery. We bought croissants. They melted in the mouth. 
I felt alive as I walked in the drizzle. The sky was grey. My mood was not. I felt alive. In love. And happy. This American girl is in France and on Monday, we are taking a train to Paris.
Life is fucking beautiful.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Why

People often ask what I want to get out of my writing. Fame? Fortune? What I want is much more abstract. It’s the knowledge that I’ve made a difference.

When I was growing up, books were my solace, my everything. I fell into them to escape. To this day,  when I read a great book, I fall into it. I disappear. All of my worries fall away.

That’s what I want my book to be for my readers. I want a young girl to see herself and know she’s not alone. That the chaos will end. That she can create the life that she wants for herself even after making a mistake.

When I dropped out of high school, I thought my life was over. When you’re seventeen, the world seems so small. I felt as if I’d never get out of Ontario and the IE. But I did. Los Angeles, Houston, San Francisco. I chose to come back.

That’s, ultimately why I love memoir. The art in showing the circular nature of life, the connections.

And in two weeks when I’m in Paris, I will remind myself.

I made it.






Thursday, April 18, 2019

Rainbows

I’ve said this before, but it deserves repeating. I’m a dreamer.

When I was a little girl, I loved books (and still do). I would lose myself. Once I opened the pages, hours would fly buy. Mom would scream, “Clean your room Jenny.” I would ignore her. The most important thing was the book.

Not much has changed. On the weekends, I’ve been promising to hang up my clothes that are piled in the guest room. Instead, I write or read. The only difference is that it is not my mom nagging me, but my long suffering husband.

When I started writing, at first it was only for me. Tiny, small poems/stories about life growing up in the Inland Empire. They seemed like almost nothing. Like cobwebs from the past that would disappear if I touched them. Yet, these memories which started out as fragments were something. They are something.

It is not always easy being a dreamer. We see the possibilities. If I could just be content, life would be a whole lot easier. The room will get done by the way. I have a couple of friends coming to stay.

So here’s to the dreamers. As Kermit one said,

“Who said that every wish
Would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that
And someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing
And what do we think we might see
Someday we'll find it
The rainbow connection
The lovers, the dreamers, and me”

(The Rainbow Connection-Jim Henson).

Friday, April 12, 2019

Decisions...

I am not good at making big life decisions. I either shut down or just quickly choose an option. But I have to grow up. I have to think about things and decide what truly works in my life right now.

Thank god for my new therapist. She sees the value of my writing. She noted that it sustains me. She said, "You light up when you talk about your writing projects.” She's right. Writing is my (I know it sounds cliche but it is true) salvation.

For good reason then, I am anxious. I cannot turn off my brain. It keeps asking me, "What are you going to do?"

The deadline to make a decision is this Monday. I don't want to turn down full funding at the brick and mortar program at UCR, but really, it makes no sense to throw my pension and everything else away.

Not that what I am doing is a pipe dream, in fact, it is the opposite. My book/memoir has been a more than decade long labor of love and it is so close to a reality that I can see the finished project in my mind's eye. But, doing a full residency MFA creative writing program now would mean leaving my job and making it that much longer for when I can retire and truly write full-time.

I see the anxiety bleeding into the other parts of my life. At work/court yesterday, I couldn't stop talking. I wanted to fill the void so I didn't have to think. Last night, after work, I turned down an offer of dinner and a beer with my husband and instead watched four hours (OK five) of Survivor. It wasn't even the recent season of Survivor, it was “Season 28 One World” from years ago (available on Prime for those interested).

This morning, I woke up at five am, again thinking, what should I do? There is the NOLA UNO online program with a summer abroad in Ireland. That is the least expensive option. Or there is the UCR low residency program out of Palm Springs. Or I could wait and apply to Antioch in LA and also Vermont, which are the most established programs. But they all come with a hefty price tag.

I feel like just throwing my hands into the air. Or flipping a quarter. Or a table.

It's six in the morning and the dogs are done eating and I have to go. I have to walk them and get ready for work and get to court for my day job as a deputy public defender.

This decision making will just have to wait.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Free

This post may not be what you expect. I’m trying to be me, but it’s hard. Most nights my brain won’t turn off. I worry incessantly. Over things that do not need to be worried about.

I think it’s because I know I am in the midst of a crisis. Be it middle age or artistic angst, it really doesn’t matter what you name it. The point is, I’m here. Looking at my life and wondering. Wondering. And wondering.

People who don’t write think it’s easy. That putting yourself out there as a “writer” is just writing words. But no, it’s not just words. It’s the excavation of the self. Laying your soul and self out, butt naked, for the world to see.

Yet, it’s also beautiful and lovely. I love the process. Even when I’m writing on my phone in Vegas (like now), for the moment all is still. I’m engrossed in it. I lose myself. My brain stops spinning and I’m using that part of the cerebral cortex that some call the subconscious.

That’s why I write. To feel present.

This is not me you’re seeing. Know that. It’s the version of me that I’m allowing you to see. There’s many versions, and many iterations and who knows which one of them I really am.

What I do know, is that I’m here. Writing. Thinking. Feeling like life is good. Whatever decision I make about my future, the fact is I’m privileged. Plenty of people would love to be in my position and although I still feel, at times, unworthy, I know my value.

I really do.


Thursday, February 28, 2019

Chicken Little

The other day someone called me Chicken Little. At first, I reacted with annoyance. "What does that mean? What is the point of saying that?" I said via text. "You sometimes act as if the sky is falling..." was the reply.

Initially, I brushed the comment off. Later, it made me think. Have I become a worrier and over anxious? Do I blow things out of proportion and engage in catastrophic thinking? Yes and yes.

Have I, and I shudder to think of it, become a pessimist?

Life has gotten me down lately. My brother in law's death last year, along with my infertility, has led me to live life without my usual rose colored glasses. I used to be a total optimist, that's how I got so far in life. No matter what was going on in my life, I felt that it would okay. It didn't matter in my waitressing days if I had no car and had to beg for rides or take the bus, or had to pick up shifts to have money for rent, I knew it would be okay.

When I was in law school, those first two years were hard, always scrounging for food, gas and other necessities. But again, I always knew that I would be okay.

Now, even though I am far more financially comfortable, I am not so sure it will be okay. Perhaps, I have begun to face my own mortality. I keep asking myself, why am I here? What am I meant to accomplish if I cannot have a child? (Obviously, this is a personal issue and I am not in any way saying that every woman's life is for procreation.)

My point is this: my yearning for and then my quest and inability to conquer that elusive windmill of having a child, has made me question my very purpose in life.

While a dog is not a baby, at least not a human one, my two shih tzus Frodo and Chewbaca are two of my great loves. Yesterday, I had to take Chewbaca to the vet because I found a lump. The vet is a good friend of mine and he tried to aspirate it, but ultimately, he decided Chewie needs to have it removed and biopsied. I tried not to over react. Inside, I am terrified that this is bad.

After the vet visit, I made a conscious decision to try and be optimistic. Instead of freaking out and crying in my car after the vet visit, I took Chewie to Starbucks and got him a whip cream treat. I sipped my espresso listening to The Strokes while he licked his whip cream cup almost bare. At one point, I looked into his caramel colored eyes and said, "You are going to be okay. We are going to be okay.”

And, I meant it.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Coffee Fueled Thoughts

The only coffee cup to go available with a lid at the AM PM in downtown San Bernardino was the mega size. I knew it would keep me up but I was cold, hungry and on my way to a workshop and reading. Plus, they had non dairy creamer and Irish Creme flavored syrup that was vegan.

Truth be told, the problem was not the size, but the fact that I drank it all. Every last drop. The coffee was delicious. I had outdid myself in its preparation.

The workshop and readings were engrossing. I left inspired. Walking into my house, my husband Adrian chatted with me. We went to bed early but I couldn’t sleep all night. By two am, I gave up and went downstairs to try to fall asleep. Work issues with a special client weighed on my mind. I was suspicious. My inner voice was telling me that something was going to go wrong in his case. I had learned to trust my gut, so the anxiety of that with that damn cup of coffee meant that I didn't sleep at all.

The next morning, groggy and irritable in court (seriously half asleep), I found out that my instinct was, of course, right on. After being a deputy public defender for a decade, I am rarely surprised and it is par for the course to be disappointed, but this got me. It really got me. I was so upset at the situation and outcome (one that I could not control) that I had to take a walk in the middle of my court day.

As I walked down Main Street by the courthouse, I thought about the real decision I had to make that weighed in the back of my mind. Would I follow my dream and try to be a writer full-time? Or I would I stay in my safe, and rewarding, albeit stressful lawyer public defender gig? My inner voice, or gut, or higher power, what some call God,  or whatever you want to call it, was telling me to go for my bliss.

I know what I want to do. But at forty-seven years of age, taking big risks is much scarier and dangerous. I am having to weigh the costs of my dreams and passions.

And that would keep anyone up for days.





Friday, February 15, 2019

Falling In Between Roses and Headboards

Last night, I was upstairs watching Top Chef when my dog Frodo rolled over and fell in between the mattress and headboard. He looked at me with his wide black shih tzu eyes as if pleading “Help!”

I jumped up and pulled him up. He almost broke his neck.

That's how I feel most days as a forty-seven year old lawyer and writer. I am mother to none except my fur kids. My quest for children ended in heartache. The details are too much to share in this essay, but if you've read my work, you know.

My latest quest is to finish my book. And perhaps, to go back to school for my MFA in creative writing. I have always been a dreamer. I think my dreams are what got me this far. A high school dropout turned waitress turned USC educated lawyer. A corporate lawyer turned deputy public defender. And now a lawyer turned writer. Quests are part of life and I always need one to keep me going.

But, sometimes, just sometimes, it's all too much. Yesterday, I had a full court calendar and then a very important policy meeting about my incompetent clients. And then, I had to prep for today's calendar which was going to be ridiculously busy. Traffic was wicked going home, so wicked that I even hit my hand on my steering wheel in frustration.

And, it was Valentine's Day. I yelled at my husband Adrian over the phone about something petty then came home to fifty roses.

"Fifty," I said in my usual sarcastic way, "that better not be a reference to my age." (Adrian will say I am almost fifty when he wants to piss me off quickly-it is almost magical how fast I will blow up.)

But, I was joyful to see the flowers. I couldn't stop smiling and singing to myself (I always sing when I'm happy). The roses were red and long stemmed, and fragrant and lovely. Adrian had stuffed them all into one vase so I separated them into two large vases and counted them to make sure the florist had not shorted him. Yep, fifty!

Flowers make me happy. To me they are a reminder of the beauty in life. The flowers also reminded me that you can't get caught in between life and a headboard. The "in between" parts, all of the sadness and losses that are inherent in life, are what tries to drag you down. But, you can’t let it. You must resist the pull and fight your way out.

Because you see dear reader, the beauty is in the small things. Like when you are lying in bed with your husband and dogs by your side listening to The Smiths. Those are the things to remember.

And of course, the fifty roses.