Panorama of San Bernardino

Friday, October 30, 2020

Halloween blues not orange

Halloween blues is how I'm feeling. I am thinking back to the shows and concerts, such as Nightmare Before Xmas at the Hollywood Bowl and all the Halloween parties I've attended. My cool costumes. Sigh.

I am also thinking about how I always pass out candy with my mom. We sit outside on beach chairs with a big bowl of candy, blankets and booze. I play music and we marvel at all of the kids' costumes. She's hanging out with my twin sister this year instead.

I think of when I was little and how my dad would decorate the house.

Nothing is normal now. My reality has changed. It is a very Twilight Zone kind of life. My main interaction is on Zoom although I do go to court in person for calendar, hearings and trials during the week. Today, I have an in person hearing in court on a medication issue for a client. 

My writing career and podcasts are different too. We figured out how to bring people in virtually and most people appear by phone or on their computer. But on November 4th, my guest will be live! 

School for my MFA is all online and because I'm part time, I don't even have to Zoom. Readings have changed as well. Everything is virtual. When my book comes out next year, I anticipate everything will still be virtual and my daydreams of standing on a stage in front of a crowd may be a pipe's dream.

Yet, there is still the smell of spice in the year. Leaves are falling. The holiday movies abound. To celebrate, I may stop and grab a coffee with pumpkin flavor, just please not too sweet, before court.

I'm sure I will see people wearing Halloween masks today. The covid kind unfortunately.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Hairdresser on fire

I am a girl who has had hair of many colors. From childhood to junior high, it was a deep brown. In 8th grade, I dyed it a purplish maroon red that shimmered in the sun. In high school, I dyed it blue black. 

After high school, my hair color varied from red to brown to black back to brown. The day I retire, I will dye my tresses pink, green or blue. Or maybe all three 

I always wore my hair curly until recently. Growing up, I had thick Curly Sue ringlets that got thinner as I aged. 

When I was young, I would dream of having pin straight hair with bangs, like Susanna Hoffs' hair, the lead singer from the Bangles. That all changed with my discovery of The Brazilian Blowout some years back. The first time I straightened my hair, I almost didn't recognize myself. 

The grey has come on slowly, little whispers of silver. Despite the modern day coolness of grey hair, I refuse to go grey. Even during Covid, I've been dying my own hair, hiding the signs of my mortality.

I use the excuse of my podcast, but really, I am a bit vain I'll admit. Plus, I love dark hair. For me, Vampire dark hair with a red lip and a thick lined Cleopatra eye is the way to go. So yes, 49 or not, I'm not going silently into the night.


Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Do you remember the board game LIFE? My favorite board game was always Monopoly, but LIFE was a close second. It created a life on a board and you rolled the dice and played your way through school, work, marriage and family.

My life is not exactly as I planned. I did the school thing and work. I'm a responsible, paycheck earning adult. I have two dogs, a husband and a house. But no kids.

I just turned 49 and it's been years since I gave up the child dream. But, my infertility still irks me. I feel there's another world where my two kids are running around driving me crazy in the best way. Unfortunately for me, they're not in this world and there's a hole that can't be filled. Mind you, I try. 

I have a deputy public defender job, a podcast, performances, two books I'm working on and I'm getting my MFA in creative writing. I'm so busy that sometimes I can't keep it all straight. 

But life is short and I do want to live it. Pandemic or not, life goes on. The sun lifts up in the sky early morning and sets early evening. Time goes by fast the older you get. 

For me, my goal is to just love my life as it is. I have a lot. I'm lucky. Not in everything. But still, lucky.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Nervous gratitude

I've been thinking much about gratitude. These are such strange times that it feels strange to be highlighting thankfulness. 

But I am grateful. Grateful for my job, even when I come back from vacation to a mountain of work, and back to court with too many cases on in one day. Not all was my fault, some of it was due to my own over scheduling, and the rest due to the court furlough. 

I am also grateful that I have the ability to write and speak publicly. The writing gift was one God gave me (and he let me pick my nose as the joke goes), but my public speaking and reading persona has taken years of work.

In the 90s, way before UCR and USC Law, I was attending Mt. SAC junior college. I was the editor of the school paper working full-time as a waitress to pay my rent. I had an unreliable car so sometimes had to bus it to school or beg for a ride. 

I remember taking a public speaking course and it stressed me out to no end. The teacher was tough. My boyfriend Adrian (husband now) was actually in the class with me and him watching made me even more nervous.

I did my big public speech on tarot and Wicca and dressed all in black. I looked cute but was so terrified. Stammering my way through, I remember how nervous I was. My knees were knocking I was shaking so much. My nerves were obvious. They got the best of me. The teacher still gave me a B, mostly because the speech was well written.

During my first trials as a deputy public defender more than a decade ago, I worked through my nerves again. Eventually, I lost the nervousness by focusing on the work of trial. Another trick was being extra prepared and using my humor and not taking everything so seriously. I did a virtual training for work the other day and my goal was to say David Bowie at least once. I did. 

Yet, until recently, I still got super nervous when reading at literary events. I would shake, my voice would warble. Then before a big show, a wise writing teacher taught me how to turn that nervousness into excitement through the power of intention. She told me to just keep saying "I'm excited" instead of "I'm so nervous". It works for me. I rarely say I'm nervous anymore. I'll just keep repeating to myself, "I'm so excited!" Yes, it may seem a bit creepy, but it works. 

Now with the podcast and readings, I just lean into that excitement. I look at the camera and put on a show. Plus, it's not me, it's JEM. JEM is always more confident than I am. JEM is a rock star and an attention seeker. 

For me, being virtual helps because a crowd watching me can still give me a nervous buzz. With the camera, I forget I'm on display.

This has been a long winded way to show some of the things I am grateful for: teachers, mentors, my education, my job, my family, and my life.

Oh and for the shih tzus of course. I'm always grateful for them.

Friday, October 9, 2020


It's 6 am. I'm on my phone writing this drinking my coffee. We're in a hotel suite for my birthday weekend.

It's hard with the pandemic because until now, we really haven't traveled. Just leaving the house to go to work or the store causes me so much anxiety. Yesterday, I had to breathe in and out on the drive here to calm myself. 

The pandemic has forced me to slow down and perhaps, I needed that. But, what I have realized is that I don't want to stay home all the time. I'm an adventurous person who used to go to music shows at least every month. Maybe the secret is finding the balance. Even though I'm a Libra, balance has never been my strong suit. 

So I am changing, or trying. Finding my path. Trying to see what is next in store for me while trying to slay some of my own personal dragons/demons that hold me back.

Last night, Riverside City College's literary journal MUSE had me do a live reading and writing exercise. It was so much fun. Getting to interact with students at RCC was amazing and the connection we all made with one another was inspiring. 

Getting the opportunity to interact with these students was soul sustaining for me. I was also overjoyed to interact with two of my favorite people and writers, Professor Jo Scott-Coe and Professor James Ducat who hosted and moderated the event.

During the session, I read an excerpt from a story about my Dad's bar, a bar he owned for a few years in the 80s. His bar was called "The Big O" and it went belly up, but I used the story as a springboard for a writing exercise on writing about "place". The best part was hearing everyone share what "place" they personally wrote about. That to me was where the magic happened. 

I guess I am finding my place in the community. Writing is magic but so is community. Without community, we really are all alone. I need to remember that. We all do.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Relaxing (in pandemic times)

When will this pandemic all end? Will it ever end?

If you had asked me in March, I would have said by the summer. If you had asked me in summer, I would have said, by fall. Now it's fall, and there's no end in sight.

There's only so much Prime and Netflix you can watch. I've binged multiple seasons of Ru Paul's Drag Race (in all of its iterations). I just rewatched Gilmore Girls (all 7 seasons and the four episode update/reboot) for the third time and I'm savoring episodes of the latest season of the Great British Baking Show.

I've worked crazy work hours and finally found a schedule. Early morning to late afternoon. 

But right now I'm on a staycation. I have plenty to do. I'm doing a Zoom presentation for a journal, I'm working on my book and I have homework. Plus I can always plan my future video podcasts. 

My dogs are estatic I'm home yet, I'm anxious. I'm off kilter. I don't know who I am any longer. What happened to me? To all of us? Is there a meaning to all of this? What am I meant to learn?

The secret I've decided is to just let it all go. All of it. Just take a deep breath I tell myself. Stop controlling everything. Just chill out. Relax.

Relax watching the bakers make pastry, relax watching Lorelai drink coffee and relax watching Emily in Paris. Relax listening to my dogs fight. Relax watching the sun rise and set. 

Just relax dammit. 

Friday, October 2, 2020


I walked the dogs in the dark this morning. I could see the constellations in the sky. They twinkled like a beacon that was put there just for me. The stars made me sigh. I thought about how small we are in the universe.

I'd been up early writing my memories. I have a new schedule where I write early morning, sometimes beginning at 4 am. It is working. Words are pouring out of me again. I feel the universe telling me to write, write and then write some more. It helps that I'm taking a MFA workshop class and have pieces due. I work well on deadlines.

Yesterday was a bad day at work. A very bad day. By the time I walked in the door, I was slumped over with a blinding migraine. Finishing up my calendar notes from home, I ate a little then fell into bed at 7 pm.  I slept as if I was in a coma. No dreams.

My eyes popped open at 4 am. I got up. I turned on my computer. Started typing. Typed for an hour straight.

The good news is that I have next week off. I am finally taking a staycation. I plan on writing. And, gazing at the stars.