Panorama of San Bernardino

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Fantasy Island

Everything looks nice on TV. Social Media is the same. It’s fantasy, a kind of construct.

I have said before that the image I project on the page is not me. It’s only a version of me. We all contain multitudes (Whitman).

This pandemic has created tiny worlds for us all. We used to run around keeping so busy. We were all worker ants and busy bees. Now that everything has slowed down, ground to a halt may be a more fitting description, we are still and quiet. That stillness can be terrifying.

Being stuck in one’s head is a frightening experience, especially when you’re not moving. The stationary nature of the pandemic, however, can also be an opportunity for growth. For me, I’ve been working on my poetic voice, learning to cook more than just eggs, and we have (well Adrian really) been working on the asthetics of our spaces.

What I have realized is that everyone needs hobbies. And pandemic hobbies may not be the same as your non-pandemic hobbies. For example, right now, it’s very hard for me to work on my memoir, but I find blogging and poetry cathartic and healing.

I’ve also become closer to some friends by talking to them on Zoom or on the telephone (can you imagine?!). I’ve also realized how much I miss my work colleagues who have always accepted my quirkiness. Even when I get annoyed at work, and the sheer overwhelming nature of the broken system I work within, I know how lucky I am.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, go easy on yourself. And realize that the images people project are just that, images, and reach out to those you care about.

When this all passes, and it will I promise, you want to remember these times and have used them to grow and reflect. Most of all, I want to remember these times as when I helped those in need.

But like I said, be easy on yourself and if you want to be a Netflix couch potato that’s OK too. I’m part of that club. I will never apologize for binging a series with my huge bowl of popcorn (topped with real melted butter and lots of salt).

Much love to all of you who read my musings. It means a lot. I will reciprocate and I’m here if anyone needs an ear.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

On the horizon

Something is brewing up on the horizon. I’ve had this feeling before. When I get this tingle, all the way from my head to my toes, it always means big changes.

There’s something in the air. It’s not just the strangeness of the pandemic. It’s everything. The world, my world, feels as if it’s tilted on its axis. The air feels different.

For the last two months, I’ve been struggling with the pandemic, and with my workload and other’s expectations of me. Then this weekend, I meditated and prayed for it, it being my terror, to go away. For me to be able to let it all go. It worked, that fear, it’s gone. The anxiety I had for weeks in my gut just disappeared as if by magic. In its place is just a calm, a calm like still water.

Maybe it’s because I've come to the realization that I do not care what other people think of me any more. The opinion of others just doesn’t matter to me. I’ve always had a deep desperation for everyone to love me. I wanted to please everyone, at the expense of my own self. Now I’ve decided,  I don’t need to be liked. Or needed. Or appreciated.

I’ve made a choice you see. A choice to put me first. It’s not selfishness. It’s self love.

The only thing I care about now is whether I meet my own internal criteria. I ask myself, are you helping people? Are you doing your best? Are you being a good person? Are you meeting your own internal goals? Are you being loving and true?

My whole life I’ve cared so much about what others thought. Their opinion and evaluation of me was everything. This blog post is my way of saying, forget it. It’s my external bulletin board message to the universe saying, I’m me and I’m good. Screw what everyone else thinks because I don’t give a shit.

All I want is to be happy and joyful. I want to sing and dance and be my best self.

Merry. Sunny. Introspective. Outgoing. Those are just a few of my new adjective goals. Wait, add in fearless and honest. Oh and optimistic, courageous, loving, funny and kind.

From now on, I want to put my feet on the ground each morning and meet my life’s purpose.

What is it you ask?

Dear reader, that’s exactly what I am trying to find out.

Friday, May 22, 2020


The birds are chirping so loud. Or maybe it is just so quiet that they sound loud. It is 630 am in the morning and all I hear are the singing birds and my dogs breathing. It’s beautiful. The birds sing and sing. Maybe I’m just learning to listen.

On my second tiny cup of espresso, I stretch. This is day whatever of the pandemic. There are surprises to be learned during a pandemic. One thing I’ve learned is that my dogs are spoiled rotten and also that I enjoy sanitizing the house every morning, the regimen of it, and doing laundry. Who knew?

My new organized closet makes me happy. It’s also my office so when I’m working, I sometimes take a break and look at my sequined jacket and dresses and imagine myself dancing in them again in Vegas. I remember all the Vegas trips and don’t regret them one bit. My party days may be somewhat behind me but I’ll always have the memories.

I have also found that writing poetry eases my anxiety and writing prose increases it. Why is that? Reading has also vexed me. Until yesterday, I wasn’t able to escape into a book. My mind wouldn’t let go of this anxiety inducing world to let me fall into the literary world. Then yesterday, I started reading a memoir and poof! I fell into it, losing myself for a couple of hours. It was bliss.

It’s Friday and of course, I have more legal work to do before a long weekend. I have telephonic hearings this morning and then a training (a pox on those those who plan a training for a Friday afternoon on a holiday weekend). After that, I plan to spend my weekend reading and floating in the pool. My goal is to disappear into a book and find myself while also finding truth and beauty.

Monday, May 18, 2020


Blogging can be cathartic, and it’s an effective way to bear witness. In my more than a decade of blogging, I have memorialized my joys and my sadness, my mental health struggles, devastating deaths, happy travels, my infertility, my anniversaries and birthdays, along with my successes in creative writing and my trials and tribulations as a deputy public defender. But never have I had to bear witness in times like these.

Times like these make you question everything. I don’t know who I am anymore. I’ve realized that I’m much more anxious than I knew and a lot less patient. I have obsessive tendencies, and I can throw myself into things for the greater good or into drinking and lose myself. Both are harmful. I tell myself, all things in moderation. But it’s hard. I’m self-destructive and cynical. I’m not happy. But who is?

Happiness, however, may need to be redefined. At this point, I’m grateful to have my husband, my mom and my mom-in-law in my inner circle. My mom is home in her apartment (she just got back from my twin sister’s house). I’m seeing her once a week. It’s a joy. And life with the husband, mom-in-law and the spoiled shih tzus has found a purpose and meaning that’s surprising. When I’m not binging Madame Secretary, there are deep connections to be made. Telling conversations to be had. Reminiscing about times past is what I do in my writing, but I also need to do it in my life.

For this is not me. I am not sad and frustrated all of the time. Am I? Remember? I was happy. I am happy. Maybe if I say it, it will be so. Like a mantra. I’m happy. I’m happy. I’m happy. Click my heels three times. Is it working? I feel a little better. Everything is relative.

There are days when I am still me. I rail against injustice, then blast the Sex Pistols and Buzzcocks and jump up and dance, I make funny faces, but I scream in frustration when I run out of stamps. Then, I wake up to another day and make pancakes. Pancakes are prayer for me right now. They remind me of my father and when I make a pretty pancake, I say a little “whoop” under my breath.

Small steps my friends. Bowie helps. Yoga too. It’s the breathing. Reminding yourself, you’re still here. That’s powerful.

Who will I be when this is all over? I hope I will have morphed into someone who is a bit less self-destructive, and a lot more grateful and joyful. Into a girl who knows she can do and be anything. Into someone who expresses her love in both her actions and words. Who says “I love you” without hesitation or fear to those she loves the most. To someone who is not self critical but self empowering. And most of all, into someone who always speaks and writes her truth.

I am pandemic lioness hear me roar.

Friday, May 15, 2020


I have the best of both worlds in some ways. I am a lawyer who loves her job as a deputy public defender and a writer. I love the performance aspect of both.

As a kid, I would always see movies in my head. I was the star of course. It never occurred to me that writing and performance are so linked. That side of me, the actress side, was never cultivated until I started performing my memoir pieces.

As a teenager, we made fun of the band and drama kids. I was too punk rock and cool for that. But a few years back, I took a theater workshop and was blown away. It was all about analyzing the script or piece and interpreting it. It’s as if a lightbulb went off on my head. I’m an actress!

My husband wasn’t surprised by this. “You want to be the center of attention, it’s always the Juanita show”, he said. I nodded. He was right. I love having a room’s attention and while sometimes I go overboard with it, I am happy I have that desire for attention because it’s motivating.

I used to let nerves get the better of me. Last year, the day of a performance, I moaned, “Why did I agree to do this piece”? My heart was racing, my palms sweaty, I was so scared and anxious. But then a wise teacher said, “Stop framing it that way, say you’re excited and use it.”

That teacher was right and recently, I have been able to be more free and open when reading. I just let go and throw caution to the wind. I even do my “voices” when podcasting.

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to go for your bliss. Be powerful, and courageous.

Especially, especially I will say it again, with your art.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Pandemic Nation

I started reading Prozac Nation again. I’d read it years ago. Yet, I’d forgotten how desperately wrought and honest the book is about depression and anxiety. She (the late Elizabeth Wurtzel) captured it, and has been criticized for being too “confessional”. Which is bull. Too confessional is another way of saying too hysterical, and too dramatic, or what is otherwise known as being “too female”.

This whole Covid-19 pandemic has and will cause a mental health and addiction crisis that will reverberate for years to come. We are all just coping. Holding on to the life raft of our sanity by our fingernails. Dealing with the unbelievable and the unknowable and basically, trying to handle the biggest shit show ever to happen in our lives.

How are you coping? I want to know. I need help. We all do. I vacillate between working all the time to drinking on the weekend to sleeping to binge watching television. I have no balance. That is out the window friends and it may never come back.

My whole life, I’ve always felt like I was living and walking on a tightrope of sorts. It’s probably why I moved around so much earlier in my life. Lately, I find it hard to move at all. I feel as if I might fall off the tightrope into the abyss below if I take one misstep.

Even trying to cope by writing brings me anxiety. My poetry class I’m taking online stresses me out. It’s not in my lane and I fear criticism.

All of my successes seem trivial now. I want to finish editing my book, which is too close for comfort. I can’t even open the document. It seems like too much.

So my friends, if you’re listening, I hope you can see this is just me. Being me.

I’m going to end on a positive note, as I sit here at 4:29 in the morning, listening to my husband snore. And this is the best I got right now, all I got: This will have to end eventually.

And then we can all go back to living our lives of quiet desperation and hoarding consumer goods and chasing the American Dream that does not exist anymore, a dream that maybe never existed at all.

That’s all I got.

Friday, May 1, 2020


On my second cup of espresso, I stretch. It’s my 9/80. I’ve been working remotely but more than ever. It’s nice to have a break from my non-stop work connection. I find it very hard to disconnect from my job right now.

My phone rings constantly from the jail, Face Timing with my colleagues, Zoom meetings, Skyping, telephonic court conferences, and the never ending story of emails. I’m too connected. I worry about my clients constantly. People used to think public defenders were lazy and incompetent. Now they’re seeing, I hope, just how crucial we are and how much we care.

At night, I’m too exhausted to write. Last night, I made cheese enchiladas and fell sleep by 8 pm. I awoke at 4 am and thought, “Is this all a dream?”

Today, I am disconnecting and looking forward to laying out, listening to music (especially Bowie) and no emails or phone calls.

This morning, I listened to a live remote re-recording of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over. Neil Finn’s voice breaks through. The words touched me:

“There is freedom within
There is freedom without
Try to catch the deluge in a paper cup
There's a battle ahead
Many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road
While you're travelling with me
Hey now, Hey now
Don't dream it's over
Hey now, Hey now
When the world comes in
They come, they come
To build a wall between us
We know they won't win.”
His words reminded me that there is freedom within. Within our minds and hearts, we have the ability to transcend. Isn’t that what art is about? Art arises from space, time and chaos. My podcast that I just finished season one of was birthed from this pandemic. I’d always wanted my stories to have musical interludes. So there’s that. There’s always beauty. Always.
So for now, I will just dance and sing. And I will remember my dad today on his birthday and dream of the world when this pandemic is all over.