Panorama of San Bernardino

Friday, April 26, 2019


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


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


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.