Panorama of San Bernardino

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


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.