Panorama of San Bernardino

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Enough

I am listening to Eckhart Tolle's podcast with Oprah about "A New Earth", his masterpiece about finding yourself, your soul. He quotes Jesus,

"I want you to have the fullness of life."

This is about abundance. The universe wants us to have abundance. If we have, we shall receive. It is a state of mind. An abundant state of mind.

It's about staying positive. About being grateful. About realizing we have abundance. We are full.

It is about the joy of being. This is not about success or striving. It is about consciousness. From inside ourselves. Possessions and money are irrelevant. It is about reaching a higher plane of consciousness, the vertical plane as Tolle calls it, so you can reach true creativity and consciousness and figure out who you are.

One of my epiphanies this morning was that my last poem I wrote in my book is called "who am I?" But what it should be is "who I am". That is the goal of all of this. 

A statement, not a question. And, I'll keep questioning and searching. Keep observing. Being present in the now.

Knowing I have enough and am enough. Always.



Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Stressing/just messing

Yesterday, I just couldn't handle the office environment. 

Being in court was preferable, which is where I spent most of my morning on a consult. 

Then back to the office I went. Like lil Red Riding Hood. Holding her basket of Del Taco. Where's the big bad wolf?

Wait, they're down the street at the prettier county building. Well aesthetically prettier on the outside but inside here, we are diamonds. Or maybe cubics. But we are real. True believers.

Maybe because I've been writing and thinking so much, I felt uneasy. 

Stressed. I perseverated. Leaving the house that morning, I had double checked that I locked the front door twice. Am I turning into Jack Nicholson's character in "As Good As It Gets"?

Is this as good as it gets? Will it get better? Will things change? Will my life change? I'm trying so hard not to strive. To just let the universe take me on a ride.

Yet, still, this ride, I wonder. Where will I go? Sunday, at least, I'll be at the X show. Now you know.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Radio daze

Yesterday, I was on a radio show to promote my book. The host is Gina Duran, a friend of mine who's a community activist and hosts The Collective radio show on KQBH 101.5. 

My best friend Tracy and I drove out to Boyle Heights in LA for the show. The show went live at 3 pm. We had yelped a restaurant named Paramount in the same studio as the radio station building. If we had time after lunch, we planned on finding a local record store to hit up.

Things got complicated. On the way to pick Tracy up, my tire indicator light flashed on. I had to find a tire place. On a Sunday. Fuck. Thank goodness I'm perpetually early. It was only 10:30 am. I had 30 minutes to spare.

I turned around and headed back toward Rialto off the 210 and pulled into a tire place. The rockabilly sleeved dude was cool and checked all my tires, refilled them and within ten minutes I was back on the road, Bowie and Buzzcocks blaring. 

I picked up Tracy a little after 11 am. We both wore black and white band tees, Joy Division for me and The Descendants for her.

When we got to Boyle Heights, it turned out to be a very cool latinx community. I skimmed past tons of family owned business, taquerias and there it was Paramount, a gastronomic pub. But there was no there there. It had closed over the Pandemic. 

Thankfully, next door was a very cool pizza pub that played Mexican music yet served beer mimosas and craft ales. Tracy and I shared a gluten free margarita pizza. After downing a glass bottle Diet Coke and chair dancing to some music, I looked at my watch. Plenty of time to hit up a local record store and we found Record Jungle, all used vinyl in Montebello, a 15 minute drive. 

Driving through the streets of LA and heading back on the 60 east, we arrived at Record Jungle in 13 minutes. A Starbucks a mere block away for caffeine after. Was this Nirvana? Yes it was. We flipped through bins in the rock and new arrival sections. No punk left. The guy who ran the store told us it goes quickly. 

That said, we found some cool stuff. Tracy found a Wire album and I found an Elvis Costello, my favorite old Alarm album, along with a Roxy Music, a Screaming Blue Messiahs, Charlie Sexton and a rare, uber cool compilation and more. Turns out, flipping though those stacks of old records paid off. 

Hopping back in the car, we made our way back to Boyle Heights. Trying to park, I got distracted and almost merged over into another's car's lane. Crisis averted, just a honk and a mean glare later, we were in studio. 

The studio was a real radio studio. I felt so elated as I walked through and sat at the microphone. Tracy took some pictures of us and after plugging in my headphones, we were live on air!

I gabbed with the host Gina for an hour about my book, public defense and punk rock. Talking is easy for me. Gina was great and played an epic mix of songs to weave in while we spoke. Patti Smith, The Smiths, The Replacements, and Siouxsie.

After the show ended, Art, a host of his own radio show on music and astrology (Arturo Guzman's Astro Projection show on 101.5 KQBH, it's epic!), showed us the punk rock murals from the days when this space was VEX, a punk venue. It was kismet. I thought, this is what I want to do. Music and writing is my Life. Capital L.

To wind down, we munched on fries after at the pizza place and then, another Diet Coke later, we headed home. 

When I got home, I thought wow, this is happening. This was real. My book was real. See https://www.bamboodartpress.com/store/juanita_e_mantz-portrait_of_a_deputy_public_defender.html.


Friday, July 23, 2021

Leather and me

I'm a little girl watching Happy Days with my dad. It's one of the Leather Tuscadero episodes. I'm standing up dancing and pretending to play a guitar. I'm fascinated by the image of her, a girl, wearing all leather, scarf around her neck, playing a guitar. Her hair is layered. She is hard and soft, masculine and feminine. She is rocking it. She goes high, low. 

On Happy Days, she plays a relative of Fonz's girlfriend Pinky Tuscadero, who is an all pink, red haired, female sex bomb of a girl. But I want to be Leather Tuscadero. 

That night I dream myself into her. I'm standing in a 50's style cafe playing a guitar and screaming into a microphone. Everyone's dancing.

I wake up groggy. It's time for school. Bells to hear ring. Books to read. 

But no guitars to play. 

I put on my baby blue Dittos instead of leather pants, but that day walking to school, I have a little more swagger in my step.



Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Stolen moments

I'm starting to realize much of my writing time is stolen moments. Time seized when no one is looking. 5 am. At lunch. In the middle of the night. On a summer workshop one week retreat. 

My memoir YA book took 15 years because of this, amongst other things like fear and anxiety. 

Yet, as I sit here at 5:11 am, I don't know if it's a bad thing. I'm an efficient writer. Plus, I read a lot. Tons of essays, memoir, not as much fiction, but I read and read. 

My dogs are whining as I write this. They want my attention. I ignore them. My brain is focused when I write. It drowns out all else. Writing centers me. It calms me.

And one day, sooner than later I hope, that calming influence with be at the center and not the periphery of my life.

So for now, I will grab these stolen moments where I can and may, creating a paragraph typed out on an iPhone as two shih tzus bark and finally, I put the phone down. After saving, of course.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Smashing

As a deputy public defender, I have good and bad days. Today was a bad day. Nothing especially bad happened. Court was uneventful. I did my usual three day prep and it went smooth.

But I'm pissed off. I'm mad that so many are incarcerated. That so many people in society are apathetic or close their eyes to the plain truth. We're incarcerating black and brown people at alarming rates. 

It's so obvious to me how racist and harmful the criminal system is. There is no true justice right now because pre trial incarceration is all based on economics, the lack thereof. Bail is the most ridiculous thing in the world. It's destructive, inhumane and cruel. It just makes no sense.

It only makes sense if you think caging people should be your first resort and not the last. If you think money rules and not a higher moral code. Think about it. 

Please. 

Happy fracking Friday.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Slashing

This has been a hectic week at home and work. At work, things are busier than ever. My boss and work buddy in court are on vacation so I'm handling a very heavy calendar. 

Tomorrow night, I am being interviewed on a criminal injustice themed podcast talking about social justice issues and promoting my book. It's exciting but stress inducing. I'd much rather be interviewer than interviewee but I'm hopeful it will go well. The podcast hosts are amazing.

Maybe that's why it's 3 am and I can't sleep. I'm also working on edits for my second book, the YA memoir that's being released in November. I'm old school. I'm using hard red pen. Slashing! 

Yes, I know Google docs, track changes and other ways to edit, but for me, especially since we're getting close to finished, you can't beat an eye on a hard copy, red felt pen in hand.

I put a red check mark on the top of every page to confirm it's been reviewed. Check. Check. Check.

Close your eyes. Resist going downstairs to manuscript. Turn off your brain. Headphones and meditation if you have to. 

Charley horse. Ouch. Awake again. Meditate. Sleep.

Check.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Scrolling

I'm watching Atypical on Netflix. It's all about a kid on the spectrum who wants to live his dreams. He wants to defy expectations. 

It made me think, why does society try to block us dreamers?

Dreaming saved me. As a kid, I would sit on the roof and dream of being a writer. Of writing my own stories. Like those in the books I loved so very much.

Later, I would stare out the window in class at junior college and picture myself graduating from a four year university. Late nights on the junior college newspaper, I would wait for someone to pick me up and I would dream of having my own reliable car.

Then much later, while at UCR, a four year university, I dreamt of walking the stage at USC Law to get my diploma. Years later, walking that stage, I would remember my dreams. They had come true. I had the degree. The car would come.

Then as a corporate lawyer, I would dream of a way out. Suffice to say, that dream came true. The writing came true. It all did.

Yesterday, I went over my twin sister's house, and she gave me an intention bracelet. Handing it to me, she said I had to write my dreams on a tiny scroll. In tiny script, I wrote many big dreams. I rolled the scroll carefully.

I placed the scroll inside the bracelet and closed my eyes and prayed to the universe to help me.

Despite not wanting to jinx it, I will say a couple of them aloud. I intend to write a third book. And to find a professorship position. These are just two of my many dreams. 

I'm excited to see what the next stage of my life will bring.

Because you see, dreams are just the beginning. The journey to them is the key.



Monday, July 5, 2021

Fireworks

Last night, my shih tzu Chewbacca shivered in my arms as fireworks echoed in the air. He wouldn't calm down, and I was worried that, with his heart condition, he might pass out.

I hugged him. Kissed him. Rubbed his chest.

It made me think of all the times in my life when I'd been terrified. When I couldn't figure out what was going on. When life seemed unmanageable. And overwhelming. When my head was not in the game. But I always had heart, always.

Even when I dropped out of high school, I knew it wasn't over. Then, while working my way through junior college, I couldn't pass my Algebra  2 class. Somehow, someway I muddled through. Then my car blew up and I lost my job and my apartment. 

You'll have to read my memoir to hear the story, but I made it through that time by moving into my parents' trailer with them, taking it step by step. 

Flash forward to after UCR and USC Law School, when I was a desperately unhappy civil lawyer. I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare. Was this success? It couldn't be. Not for me. 

After my dad died, I realized I had to do something else. Becoming a writer and then a deputy public defender. Finding and believing in my voice. Doubts persisted in my writing. 

Years later, trying to have a baby and visualizing it happening over and over. Then realizing it wasn't going to happen after failed in vitro and a horrific traumatizing miscarriage.

Crying in the shower for a year. Waking up one day and seeing, finally, that my purpose is to write my stories. To publish them. To reach people's hearts. To hear my father's voice in my stories. 

To merge law, writing and music is a dream come true. Two books coming out in the same year. It's a dream. A dream realized. I am so grateful to the universe.

So here I am my friends. Here I am. Listening to fireworks in the dark, thankful for everything I've been given. My life, my family, my dogs but especially for my voice and heart.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Deadlines

This morning, I read an article in the New Yorker called "What Deadlines Do to Lifetimes".  I already use one of the tricks, which sets an earlier fake deadline, in my legal/law motions practice.

But in the creative writing realm, like most, I struggle with them. I appreciate deadlines, they give me something to aim for, and trust, this was a very productive and on deadline kinda year. 

For me, like most things, the key is communication. I always try to give myself a reasonable amount of time but if it takes a bit longer that's okay too, if and only if, you communicate that you need more time. 

Yes, this can get hazy if your "more time" is 6 months, because creativity is often on its own timeframe. The reality is, I can't make a story happen, they come to me organically. 

So while the long YA memoir took 15 years, that's how much time I needed to finish the project. Ultimately and ironically, I think what motivated me most was covid and an impending sense of doom about my own mortality.

Truth was, I wasn't gonna pass with a partial manuscript in a drawer.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Lost and found

Is the other shoe going to drop? This has been the most unexpected year of my life.

First, what a strange year, with the damn pandemic, dragging on and on. I have somewhat memorialized it here. It was a terrifying ride. In some ways, both a lost and a found year. 

Unable to see anyone but my husband, my mother in law and my mom, we stayed at home. We stopped traveling. I worked from home. On the weekends, I worked on my writing and kept up with my one MFA class. 

While I worked harder and longer at work than ever, in my personal life, I stopped running myself ragged. In some ways, it was a much needed respite from it all. 

With the pandemic, also began my new writing journey. 

About a a year and four months ago, I finally wrote honestly about my job, without using figurative language. I started to tell my true tales of being a deputy public defender on the front lines of covid. 

That decision, to merge my writing and law, and to exist at the intersection of my criminal defense practice and my writing practice, started a chain of events. I spoke up at the rally for George Floyd. Poetry poured out of me. I'd always been insecure about my poetry, and had called myself a prose writer, never a poet. 

More opportunities came fourth. A podcast. Then, I wrote a law and literature hybrid genre chapbook (which will actually be my first "published" book this August) and finally, yes finally (drop the F Bomb and not a mic) finished the YA memoir which will come out later this year, right after my fiftieth birthday.

And so here I am. In uncomfortable territory. In pants that are way too tight. Trying to get it and keep it all together. Moderating many things, or trying. Promise and trust, I'm really trying.

It's hard not to be terrified. The last months have been magical in some ways, but I can feel another big change on the horizon. 

Change is scary. So so scary. It's hard to not want to numb myself so that my anxiety doesn't take over. But I have to stay lucid. Present. Here. In the now. 

A little voice in my head tells me, this is what you always wanted, what you've worked so hard for, don't F it up. So I'll try not to.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Not So Sleepy Daze

I took a week off from work because I need a break. The pandemic was exhausting (even saying those words, I'm still just hoping it's over, and I don't jinx it). 

This morning, I woke up at 5 am and shouted, "One day, I would love to just sleep until 9 am!"

Really, I just need a couple days to breathe. To sleep. To dream. To think and visualize what comes next.

Yet of course, never one to stay idle. I'm filling up the days with projects and a few meetings for opportunities to promote my book along with a mini vacation. 

There's a lot to do on the writing and promotions/podcasting front. Really I have a lot to do for my own peace of mind. You may have seen, I'm an early planner. My goal is to make it all look easy, but as you know, it's not. Though I must add that sometimes I do things the hard way, like feeding my dogs by hand this morning while listening to John Lennon.

I'm also a perfectionist which may not seem obvious, but it's also just my standard of perfection which I'm working on. Meaning, my closet may be a mess and I haven't cooked dinner for 2 weeks, but the writing and other work gets done.

The hardest part of all of this for me, if I'm gonna confide a little here, is not to sabotage myself. There's that reckless side of me who just wants to celebrate and party the next few months away. But that's not how I got here. I got here by staying home every weekend for a year and working my butt off on my writing. I didn't get here by drinking anything but coffee. 

Well, I better go, I got a lot to do. 




Friday, June 25, 2021

Persistence

There's a quote by the famous author Octavia Butler:  

"You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That's why I say, one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”

It's all about persistence and dedication. Butler also said, 

"First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t.”

Habit and persistence is everything in writing. It's getting your butt up every day at 5 am to write for years and years. It's persevering and writing every day. Editing. Making yourself do it, until it becomes part of your routine, part of your life and an integral part of your character and soul. Until it's your identity.

It's also knowing that writing will eventually get easier and you'll be more confident and stronger a decade and a half in. Fifteen years ago, I could not have told you that I would have two books done by fifty. Yes, the universe had a plan. But it was my job, my role, to institute it by the "doing" of the writing. The proof is in the pudding. So go make pudding.

It's knowing, looking back, that somehow, some of your first stories are still your favorites. That you always had it in you since you were a kid. It just needed your dedication to come out! Your pen (now MAC book) will become your sword, your words, your mantras and power, and your books, your babies.




Friday, June 18, 2021

Concert days

Sometimes, I wonder, what the hell am I thinking? My job is so stressful, and yet, I push myself to do more. More at work, more with my writing and now concerts are back! 

What's a girl to do?

I'm convinced that my books are coming out because of the pandemic. I used to say, I'll sleep when I'm dead, but the pandemic taught me to relax. I stayed home almost every weekend for more than a year. No concerts, and little or no traveling.

Wean yourself back in to concerts, I thought. 

Starting out slow, I bought tickets to Morrissey in Vegas. Then X added an OC show, on a damn Sunday, but I decided okay, I can do those 2 shows, and still keep juggling all my balls in the air. 

Then, in a stroke of cruel luck, Cruel World sent me an early access invite for tickets. Bauhaus, Devo, 45 Grave, Blondie, Morrissey and more! Who could resist? So I bought VIP festival tickets rationalizing that it's in 2022. 

But then Patti Smith decided to play Pappy and Harriet's in Joshua Tree on a Tuesday this summer. How could I say no and still keep my punk/post punk credentials? Her album "Horses" was like honey on a biscuit to me in high school. Or maybe now, she's cream cheese on a well toasted NYC everything bagel with tomato, avacado and red onion. She's perfection.

I've only seen her live once before and that was at an opening gig at a Staples' Morrissey show. This show will be outdoor and intimate. Acoustic! But it's a Tuesday. And in Pioneertown. Not an easy trek. Swallowing my misgivings, I bought the tickets and was glad after they promptly sold out. 

Hmmmm, I thought, who can I convince to do this adventure. Husband works Wednesday... hmmm wonder twin! Of course, my twin Jackie said yes. She's always up for an adventure and doesn't drink which will motivate me not to. 

So here I am. More shows are popping up in my phone. Madness, OMD in 2022 and more. For now, I'm not buying tickets to more shows. I'm gonna pace myself. 

I hope...

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Hey Miss DJ

Last night, I played DJ. 

Before you get too impressed, it was for an audience of two. Two including myself. My husband and I sat in the back yard and had a glass of my favorite French champagne, then a beer. I like the contrast of that. 

I'm not the best DJ. My husband is great. He will go seamlessly from song to song. No interruptions. He will move from post punk to 70s to Spanish rock, all without missing a beat.

Me on the other hand, I get a bit obsessed. I like to hear whole albums. Like the entire thing. DJing for me is more akin to my teenage self who would put The Smiths' "The Queen is Dead" album on the turntable and lay on my bed, eyes closed singing along, only getting up to turn it over to listen to the other side. I lose myself.

I am a lyrics person. Always. The words matter. I like annunciation (Morrissey, the Shins etc), but also love when I have to figure out what they're saying. 

A favorite thing of mine to do is to listen to a song in both their acoustic and non acoustic versions. For example, take the X song "Because I Do", which is distorted and garbled in the best way. You have to lean in to decipher the words, and then listening to the acoustic, stripped down version, where the harmonies of John Doe and Exene fall into each other so beautifully, you hear everything. It gets me. Then I listen to the punk version again. It's sublime.

So the DJ experience is hard for me. I also focus on artists. Sorry, I can't just play one Bowie song. I have to play at least 2-3 (and would prefer to just go album by album) and then transition to someone he was inspired by like Iggy Pop or Lou Reed and then Lou Reed leads me his band the Velvet Underground, and then we're in the 60s listening to at least 2 Doors' songs which leads me back to the 80s with The Cult. 

Somehow I will also work in a couple of Replacements songs as well as Siouxsie and the Cure. And of course Joy Division. And the Pixies. But it will be in a weird combination that only makes sense to me. Sometimes it's the themes in lyrics, sometimes it's eras, and sometimes I just think, damn I want to hear "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory" by Johnny Thunders a couple of times in a row.

So you see why this can be frustrating for a listener. But there's a method to my madness.

I think, I'll keep my day and night jobs as lawyer and writer. 

But of course, all of my DJing will continue, mostly in my head.



Thursday, June 10, 2021

Staying true

It's eleven pm. I can't sleep. Today was a shit day in court. It was traumatizing and sad. 

Yet, I also know that I'm lucky. Privileged. I'm not the one in custody. But to bear witness is hard. 

Maybe it was harder because I haven't had a day like this for a year. Court has been less real during covid. It was shocking to have a day like today and then remember, I've had many of these days.

So many. Too many. 

Perhaps, my eyes are finally wide open to the horror of it all. To work within this system as a deputy public defender, in this broken down clunker of a criminal system, is hard. It should be. 

All good work is difficult. If this job is too easy and if seeing our clients in chains and suffering isn't horrifying, then there's something wrong. You're desensitized to the point where your soul is at risk. 

Still, we all have a job to do. We must be professionals. And be able to make cogent arguments and advise our clients without tears in our eyes. 

But today, I couldn't put up that wall, the one I've learned to build around my heart brick by brick. Today, I couldn't pretend it wasn't awful. 

When I got home, I felt a weight lift. I played with my dogs and sat outside and breathed in the air and sighed. 

Then tonight I wrote this essay, so I never forget what today felt like.


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Library girl

Looking at a photo of the new Riverside library, I get all teary eyed.  

I grew up going to the Ontario (California) city library, a library that writer Beverly Cleary once worked at. My mom would let me max out my library card. It never seemed to be enough. 

Wandering through the kid and adult sections, I would lose myself in their spines. It was there I discovered all of my favorite writers. I read all of the Wizard of Oz books, Judy Blume, the Hobbit, even F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Leaving the library, I would feel joyful. Carrying home my armful of books, a huge smile on my face, I would throw them on my bed. Falling into worlds away. As a kid, I would read books all weekend. I would savor their pages. Caress them. Read the same books over and over.

My allowance sometimes went to paying for late fees for books I couldn't let go.

Libraries are everything. They are havens and children and adults need a refuge and gathering place. 

Libraries are where I became a reader and a writer. Because, ultimately, books, and libraries that house them by extension, are where dreams are imagined and sometimes made. 

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Office space

I am having a hard time. Look, I know I'm lucky to have a job. But this whole "return to the office thing" is difficult. My routines have now completely changed. I can't sleep because I get home from work and fall exhausted into bed right after dinner at 6 pm then wake up at 2 am. Maybe it's too much interaction, too much stimulation, and not enough focus. I'm struggling big time.

This last year was productive for me because of its solitude. I've realized, after much reflection, that I can let others' opinions of me block me. But in the end, I am the one and only person who really has the power to achieve what they want. And while people may find me too assertive or vocal at times, I don't really care.

This is a conundrum. My solution is to just take it day by day. Shut my door and get my work done. Go home and decompress. Try to not be angry and bitter. Try to be happy and positive. Change is on the horizon. I can feel it's vibration. I just meet to make it until then.



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Office day

Today is D day. Back in the office day. Despite the last year, I usually like being in the office. It's been time to get back for a while. Plus, I want my home office back which used to be my studio and my creative space before covid.

The other thing is that I want to see faces. I love seeing people. I'm very social. It's been a hard isolation of a year. It's been productive in many ways, but lonely. 

I've also decided to put better boundaries. I will not bring my work computer home (unless I'm in trial). My hours at work will be reasonable. Not back breaking. I will try and take my vacations.

But still, I will miss the flexibility. I loved spending my days working with my dogs at my feet. Along with the ability to make dinner on my lunch hour. The ease of working on a motion and just finishing it no matter what time it was. Visiting with clients via video and answering emails at 630 am. As a morning dove, I appreciated the early start.

Yes. That is over, but what I've learned from the pandemic is that I am a homebody. I am able to work from home if needed. That will come in handy one day I'm sure.

But until then, here I am. An office body once again. I got half as much work done but went to a happy hour outside at El Torito after work. So there's that.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Epiphanies and coffee

I need coffee so bad. It's early morning as usual, and I can't sleep. I wish I could sleep all day. Today, I want to sleep and dream my day away. 

My eyes are tired from looking at a screen all week and my body aches. Middle age sucks as far as the body goes but the mind... that gets better I think. And what's weird is that I wouldn't go back to being young again. If given the option perhaps, I might go back in time to see my father, but that's another essay.

My teenage years were chaotic, although filled with precious adventures. Insecurity plagued me through my twenties and thirties. I did so much, college and law school, then a career, but never felt enough. Then, in my mid thirties, I lost my father and that changed my life. Well really, I decided to change my life and I moved back home and started pursuing my passions of criminal justice and writing. 

In my forties, I dealt with infertility and had to reconcile my grief regarding my inability to have a child. Most importantly, I had to reconcile the life I had with what I wanted. And I had to learn to be grateful for everything the universe gave me. I did a lot of therapy and worked on myself.

Now at almost fifty, I am finally able to be me. I know I'm loud. I can take over a room. I need to listen more. Yes, I can be anxious and stressed out. But I'm also positive, supportive and authentic. I am me. Just me. 

There is no other way to be and have it work long term. For years, I tried to be someone else. But now, I'm just me. Call me by whatever name. Juanita, JEM, Jenny, are a few of my monikers, but most of all, I'm just me. 

Now, time for coffee!


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Late night

It's almost midnight. The husband is snoring. So is Chewbacca.

Last night, our dog Chewbacca had a reverse sneeze attack at midnight. Maybe that's why I woke up right now. Last night, I jumped out of bed and rushed to him. Chewbacca's reverse sneezes are scary due to his chronic heart condition. He coughed. And coughed again. I held him. Close. He trembled in my arms. 

His eyes searched mine. They are so human like. At times, I feel his soul. I consoled him. Calmed him to slow his fast beating heart. His tongue licked my face. 

Tonight, I lay here, knowing I have to be up in six hours to get ready for court, and pray myself to sleep. I ask God to keep everyone close to me safe. And warm. Healthy. 

This small thirteen year old shih tzu is my purpose at times. I will wake up at six am and give him his meds and feed him and his brother Frodo. I'm lucky to have them. 

So so lucky. 



Saturday, May 22, 2021

I need you to love me

There's that song "Leather and Lace" and the lyrics by Stevie Nicks go, "I need you to love me/I need you today." The song sounds country in its earnestness. That's because it is; it was written by Stevie Nicks for Waylon Jennings.

I loved that song when I was a young girl. It reminds me of how my whole life has been dedicated to searching for love of one kind or another.

Love from my parents, love and admiration from friends, and teachers, and then finding Adrian, my true romantic love. And then searching for admiration as a lawyer and then searching to show maternal love in my unsuccessful quest to have a child, and now finally, looking for love as a writer. 

It has to be said, I never started writing for money or fame. I am blessed to say I have enough money. Of course, I will take more. But I really just want my words to be read. Writing has always been my solace. My way of reconciling my life. 

I've always tried to write truthfully from my heart. Over the years, my perspective on my craft has changed. As a writer, I still go into a trance when I write a good story, it happens easy in those stories. But there's also a benefit to the harder stories. The ones I have to think about at length and research and write out drip by drip. Word by word. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is that writing is hard for me. Editing even harder. Putting it all together in a manuscript was arduous. I thought at times, that I couldn't do it. That there was no way I could piece it all together. The memoir took 15 years. And in the meantime, life happened. I wrote a second book, a social justice essay/memoir/poetry hybrid chapbook, that will ironically come out in August before the young adult memoir later in the year. 

I hope so much that people get it. That they understand what I'm trying to do and love it. 

But regardless, I did it. Finally. 

Yet another song by Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac comes to mind,  "Say That You Love Me":

"Have mercy, baby on a poor girl like me

You know I'm falling, falling at your feet..."

"And say that you love me...." 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Headache

 Last night, I had the worst splitting headache. My head felt as if it would burst into jagged pieces. I'd been working all afternoon on a motion that somehow got deleted. How I don't know. "Arrrrrrrrrrrr shit!" I screamed into the air in my home office. The good thing is that I have no office mates to react.

Then, with perfect timing, my husband came home and I snapped. He never brings the trash cans inside all the way. He leaves them at our locked gate which means I have to get the key to bring them in when I want to take out the trash. But it wasn't him. Or the trash cans. 

It was me.

Despite myself, and my inner voice saying it's not his fault you deleted the motion, I yelled about the trash, stomped my foot and slammed the screen door as I walked into the backyard. I lit a cigarette outside, puffing away. My shih tzu Chewie looked at me with his big brown eyes (probably) thinking, "What's wrong with you mom?"

The nicotine calmed me. I apologized. Sheepish, I made small talk. We ate dinner. I went upstairs to my office and magically the motion reappeared. "I found it," I yelled. I made sure to save the motion again, just in case.

I slipped into bed and the sheets felt comforting. A tear rolled out of my eye. I'd had anxiety all day. Doing too much as usual. I never stop.

But then I thought of my creative writing and how my books would be out in the world soon. I don't care if no one reads them. Well maybe I kinda do. 

But still, my point is that I just need something permanent. Something lasting. To show the world.

I was here dammit. I was here. 

Friday, May 14, 2021

Just Breathe

Two years ago today, I was in France with my husband.

We were visiting my 1st cousin Pascale and her son Xavier who I had never met. We hit it off and it was the time of our lives. The town they lived in was quaint. Lovely.

My cousin Pascale and I would spend hours, chatting, drinking espresso. We would just sit and talk. Bonding. 

We would start talking early afternoon until the sun set (sunset was at 830 pm or so in France that time of year). Then we would drink a couple bottles of wine and eat crackers and cheese. Talking more. 

It forced me to slow down and be in the moment. We took walks, canvassed through Rouen. Strolled Dieppe. 

I tried to chillax and listen. Patience has never been my forte. I'm always doing something, always on freaking task.

This feels like so so long ago. Yet, not. Similar to our trip to France, the pandemic changed me. It, too, forced me to slow down. I stopped traveling. I worked hard but also made dinner many nights. Started a podcast and took a MFA class. Finally, yes finally, spent the weekends finishing my memoir and then writing a new book. 

Then the last couple weeks at work have been so insanely busy and stressful that I started back into my old habit of just doing. Going hard. At a cost. A cost to me.

Today, I'm taking the day off, and will be reflecting on who I am and the kind of person I want to be. Do I want to be the most efficient person? 

Or do I, perhaps, just perhaps, want to be at ease in life, letting go, and just be me. Fun JEM. Cool JEM. And yes, busy and organized but also just in the moment. No more anxiety or stress energy. Just there to be me and let my self shine. At work and at home.

Last night, I realized that I had my work computer but that I forgot my laptop cord when I was at court and the office. 

How was I going to check email? Then I realized, it's 6 pm, why are you worried? Of course I soon realized I could use my other cord to charge but still, let it go, I told myself. You are not tethered to a computer or to your phone. 

You are tethered to your husband, family and dogs. To your art. That's what sustains you.

Then I took a deep breath and sat and listened to others perform for two hours. I laughed so hard at one piece that my stomach hurt. Wiped tears from my eyes. Breathed.

Life was good.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Zen Pen

 It's 10:30 pm. I can't sleep. Everyone is asleep but me. Chewbacca, my spoiled shih tzu, is snoring. So is Adrian. Frodo is downstairs because he can't do stairs.

I love my blog. It's where I capture the day to day. During the pandemic, it became my lifeline, my diary and my solace.

Writing is very solitary. For the last three months, I've been working on my latest project almost every weekend. I've been in a kind of isolation. Just me and my keyboard. Working on some footnotes on Wednesday evening about did me in. My eyes burned after as if I'd been in a fire. 

But blogging is different, at least usually. It's more laid back. I write these blogs quick and on my phone. I post and edit and re-edit. Then I let them go into the universe. It's a freeing form of writing in a way. Not so formal. Plus, it's great practice writing like this. Making your brain find the words quick and then, putting it all together. Zen.

The thing I realized over these last ten or eleven years of blogging is that writing is a muscle. You must do it everyday. And all weekend if you can. It's something that needs to be flexed often. 

Over the years, by writing this blog, I've become disciplined. People often ask how I do it all: the full time job, writing, and podcasting. Truth is, I'm always working either at my job or at my writing or podcasting. Always. And I rest by reading. The thing is that I enjoy the writing. I really do. But what I really like is reaching out to the world with this blog.

So here's my proverbial writing hand reaching out to you. Let me know what you practice at: yoga, cooking, watching movies, or maybe reading? Everything is fair game! 

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Whirlwind

I've been writing a lot lately. Editing. Creating. 

Yet, my writing was not predestined. It was a choice to focus on my writing. A choice to start a creative writing Masters program. A conscious decision to finish my books. It is late nights. Early mornings. Lots of coffee, less beer.

My career as a deputy public defender was also a choice. A choice to follow my passion. My heart. My quest for a better world.

We all live with constraints. Some of these constrains are those society imposes on us, but there are those we put on ourselves. We think we "need" all of these possessions. We think that our worth is valued monetarily rather than creatively.

For me, art defies commerce. If I make money from my art great, but if not, that's OK too. It's not that I don't want to get paid, I do and think it's crucial that creatives demand to be paid. But I also am just grateful that I have the economic privilege to have support for my art through my lawyering day job.

The older I get, the more the veil falls. I see the man behind the curtain. This is all an illusion in a way and intentions matter. Just the imagining of a creative endeavor helps and urges the universe to create it.

There are times it is magical. I believe one can make things happen with visualization and hard work. This is not delusion. I'm the evidence. Exhibit one. I've been a dreamer my whole life. I've imagined myself as a lawyer, a writer and a performer.

And here I am. I'm all of those and more. A whirlwind is coming. We're all in it. Create. Create. And create some more. 

Friday, April 30, 2021

Remembering

This morning, I thought to myself, I'm lucky. So so lucky. I have a home I love, my husband, my sisters and mom, my spoiled shih tzus and a good job. I have my education, my writing, my school and my podcast.

What I don't have that I have wanted: a child, my books published and contentment. The books being published will happen, the child is unattainable at this point age wise, but contentment, now that's the tricky one.

Contentment has always been the hardest thing for me. I am never ever content. It's part of what drives me. "Slow down!" my husband says. "No," I retort back in my no nonsense voice adding, "Never."

What are we here for? That's a question that may be rolling around in your head too. Especially after this roller coaster ride of a year. The pandemic has made many question their lives, including those truly. Inching my way toward middle age has also made me think. What is truly important in life? 

Is it accomplishments? That car you drive? The way you look? The house you own? 

No. 

I would argue that we are a sum of what we create in the world. The family and relationships we have, the  lives we touch, the people we help and the creative endeavors we engage in. 

In short, who we are is what we are. But it's more ephemeral than that. How you will be remembered is who you are. We are memories.

And because I write memoir, and love spinning gold out of the dust of my own memories, I'm remembering who I am and who I was. But most of all, my writing allows me to keep reminding myself of who I want to be.



Friday, April 23, 2021

Vacation all I ever wanted

There's a lyric by The Go-Go's that says, "Vacation all I ever wanted/Vacation had to get away". That is how I've felt for the last year. I've been yearning to get away. To "get up and go" (to name another Go-Go's tune). So I'm on vacation. And happy. 

I spent my morning reading and listening to all of my favorite chill out tunes by The Flaming Lips and The Shins. With some X and Sex Pistols thrown in to wake me up.

To vacation is to relax. To chill. To decompress. To read in bed staring out the window. Vacation for me is room service, jacuzzis and lounging on a pool chair in the sun.

Since the pandemic hit, we've all been cloistered indoors. My vitamin D levels were alarmingly low. Pale and bloated, my skin and weight suffered. 

During the early days of Covid, I was stuck inside all day and would work early morning to evening without taking a break to even change my clothes. I bought three sets of satin pajamas and used them interchangeably. 

My dogs were happy to have me home but I have to say, it wasn't healthy. I don't do boundaries very well even during healthy times and my home life and work life became so blurred that I couldn't get away. For some reason, I couldn't stop myself from opening my computer on the weekend to try and get ahead for the week. And I would lose hours and hours and emerge blurry eyed from my den.

The thing that saved me (and by "saved" I'm not exaggerating because my mental health was at risk) was my writing and podcasting. It gave me something to focus on. No matter what, every week I had my master's creative writing class homework due (I'm taking one class a semester for now on the 5 year plan) and every month, a podcast to plan. My creative work gave me an excuse to disengage from work after putting in much more than my required hours. It allowed me to focus on my creative side which is restorative. It gave me a pause from my taxing job where I'm trying to save people from a cruel system of injustice.

For us creatives, that is everything. For some, writing may be a chore but for me, writing is everything. It gives me a place to put everything going on in my head. I never stop, as my husband often tells me, but writing allows me to breathe and gives me space.

Back to my vacation, I'm sitting here writing this staring out the hotel window at the desert view listening to Bowie. 

I have to say, there's nothing I'd rather be doing. I think I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and doing what I love with those I love. Isn't that what life is all about my friends?


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Today and a list

Today is a day. It's just another day. I am up at 4 am and I've been up since 2 am after falling into bed exhausted at 7 pm. 

Reading through some blogs from the last year, I realize that I've documented a journey. A journey that was not always pleasurable. Yet, I'm glad I've written it. So here's a list. I love lists.

A list of things I've realized during the pandemic:

I am prone to wearing the same thing every day.

A house dress is my preferred attire after satin pajamas. 

Pajamas are for day, a punk rock tee and shorts are for bed.

I like to cook breakfast but not dinner. I'd rather order in or eat toast.

I use a lot of ink cartridges and my printer hates me.

My home office has become my work space and my bed and couch my creative space.

I have some serious intestinal issues.

I drink way too much espresso and left to my own devices, with no one checking me, I will finish a huge box of nespresso in a couple weeks (don't ask me how many pods that is because you don't want to know).

My dogs sustain me while also concurrently driving me insane.

My voice is my own.

 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Dogs in my space

My two shih tzus, Frodo and Chewbacca, are awake and tussling with one another as usual. I break it up. Frodo has a back issue, so he can't wrestle like he used to. They growl and circle one another in their dog like way. 

Chewie jumps on the couch and snuggles up against me, his caramel eyes beseeching me to feed him.

When I took Frodo outside this morning, I watched as he tried to lift his leg to pee. I put my hand out to balance him, but his leg collapsed and he leaned against the bush and stumbled as he regained his balance. 

Frodo turned his head and glared at me. I said aloud, "Frodo you did good, it's ok." Frodo ignored my cheerleading and turned and walked in the house. Chewie followed him inside.

It's 6 am and it's time to feed them their meds. Chewie is on multiple heart medications and Frodo is on multiple medications for his back. Every morning, I wrap their meds in ham and beg them to take it, but at least half the time, Frodo is somehow able to find the pill and spit it out. 

For most of my life, I was a cat person. Then, one look in Frodo's deep black eyes, and I was hooked. Frodo was a small ball of black and white fur that sucked on a blanket and growled like an Ewok. He still sucks on his blanket some thirteen years later. 

Chewie came into our lives a year after Frodo did and soon, he became my little duck, following me around wherever I went. They are my loves, my pet soul mates. 

As they get older, it gets harder. Frodo's back issues make me weep because he just wants to run and can't. It's heartbreaking to watch him struggle. Chewie has rallied and has been doing well on his meds.

Truth is, I want them both to live forever. They are my everything. These dogs in my space keep me present and remind me to live in the moment. They remind me to not get lost inside of my head. They show me what is important in life. And that sometimes, happiness is simply a bowl of food and a pat on the back. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Friday

It's Friday and I'm in our jacuzzi listening to music of those who have passed. DMX and Bowie. Prince. Too many too soon.

It makes me sad to think of how fleeting life is. How for many, it's full of sorrow. It doesn't matter how much money you have. Life is hard. And for those without, it's even harder.

This morning, I woke up and thanked the universe for being alive. At court yesterday, I was trying to be extra present for my clients. There is so much sadness. My job is hard but I'm always there for my clients. And their families.

I'm so frustrated by the criminal system. People don't  understand how it destroys lives. Even after my clients restore and plead, they're at the state and probation's mercy. Do this. Do that. If not, incarceration. The rest of my clients, those who can't get out because of incompetency, are trapped at the jail or state hospital.

Scream it out, I think, maybe someone will hear. Most of my clients are in what must feel like a hopeless situation, trapped in a cage, while I write this. I can see the moon and stars but they can't. I can breathe fresh air, they can't. 

Tears well up and I swallow, my lumpy throat packed with too many of my own melancholy thoughts. I don't know how much longer I can do this work. My clients need me but I need to find the light in this darkness.

Every day, a little piece of my soul rips off by even participating in this horror of a criminal system. I want to do something in my life that brings joy into the world. Because as I said earlier, life is short, fleeting and all too precious.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Poem at midnight

 Poem at midnight


I'm side sleeping

But not sleeping

Not yet 

Benadryl breath 

Breathe breathe 

Headphones 

Touch pillow

Neck cracks 

Breathe in

Out remember

It's ok

You'll fall

Eventually into

Nothingness 

Waiting 

Laying 

Mind flits 

To quiet 

Ears still

Covered by

Headphones 

Waiting

Not so 

Patiently

To dream



Upside

The upside to waking up at 4 am is that I'm writing this piece. I had to take a short break from my blog due to the demands of work and school. It seemed like I took a week off but it's been a month. Time moves by so fast, like a car on the freeway that flies by you. That's why a consistent writing practice is so key. 

Relaxation is also important so I took the day off Wednesday and went to the beach to hang out with my twin sister Jackie who was staying out in Ocean Beach with her gal pals. I kinda just popped in, something I rarely do, but I was desperate. I'd been working extreme hours at work and then all weekend on school. 

My brain was tired. I had bags under my eyes. I was grumpy and exhausted. I'd had a form of tunnel vision with everything at work and school along with my writing and I simply could not disengage from my computer or phone. In short, I needed some beach time. 

The beach was lovely. I'd never been to Ocean Beach. It reminded me of Newport from when I was a kid, before it was so bougie. Or Venice. Jackie and I walked to get avocado toast. We walked the vendor stalls in masks with her dog Lizzy and then just sat on the beach. I couldn't relax but I did my best. 

Water has always been my zen so I went into the ocean up to my waist and let it take away my anxiety. The waves came at me. I pulled back and let the water lap and wrap my legs.

We walked the city which helped. I felt like I hadn't walked in a year. Jackie was very kind to me. That helped. I breathed in and out. In and out. Over and over. That helped too. 

I kept thinking to myself, when did I stop having fun? When did I stop being fun? Why am I so tense all of the time? Why do I live in my head and not in the moment? Why am I always time checking myself and on task?

We both love to eat so Jackie and I had huge shrimps at the marina with cocktail sauce and crackers. We shared a cup of clam chowder. We chatted and walked her dog again. Then I got on the road to beat traffic. Almost three hours later, I walked inside my house. (Guess I hadn't left early enough.) I said hello to my husband and mother in law. My dogs kissed me all over. 

At 8 pm, I fell asleep, the imagined sound of the waves from earlier in the day lulling me to sleep.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Work in progress

I'm a work in progress. I'm up, it's 5 am and I've been up all night. After a stressful day at work and a night of finishing my homework, my brain refused to turn off.

While laying in bed, I made lists in my head. Thought of my "to do" list and scratched off tasks, added others. I created a promo for my podcast. I read an article and scrolled Facebook. 

At some point, I fell asleep for a couple hours, but was up again at 4 am. I thought to myself, if I could just clone myself. Or add more hours to a day.

My dogs whined. I got up and padded downstairs. Today, like most days, I have client visits early from home. It gives me so much anxiety to do these early morning but it's a necessity right now in these pandemic tinged times. It's still too dangerous to visit the jail.

Watching my dogs lick their paws, I vowed to be mindful today. To be grateful. To be content, despite my looming deadlines, where I am.

Right here. At home. Watching the sun rise.


Saturday, February 27, 2021

Saturday hydration

It's Saturday and I'm relaxing. Finally. I know I have to work on my homework and my book projects, but I have Monday off so it's a little less stress. Still, staying on task all the time is hard.

It brings to mind an Audre Lord quote. She says:

“It is never easy to demand the most from ourselves, from our lives, from our work."

She's so right. Excellence is hard. And exhausting. 

Yesterday, I had a stressful day at work starting early, after weeks of the same. Then, after lunch, I crashed. My brain would not process information. I felt as if I was moving a car through fog, hence the term "brain fog", squinting to see. My eyes kept closing and I was nauseous and dizzy.

It turns out I was pretty severely dehydrated. I have been drinking a lot of coffee and not enough water. My husband made dinner and I ate and went upstairs. I couldn't work on anything so I watched TV and slept off and on. My husband urged me to hydrate.

After drinking 3 Gatorades, I felt better. By 9 pm, I was wide awake. My hydration had rejuvenated me. We watched TV and drank hot tea with steamed milk. 

This morning instead of turning on the TV to watch my newest Netflix show, I put on 50s and 60s music and started rolling around the floor with my two shih tzus. They licked my face and I rubbed their furry backs listening to the crooning of Roy Orbison.

Then, I danced in my living room with my coffee. And I remembered to drink a glass of water. 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Hey

I have always been an early bird. A morning dove. One who gets the worm.

To my eyes, the sun rising in the sky is one of the most beautiful natural wonders. We all take it for granted. That it rises I mean. 

It's 5 am and I'm up writing. I'm also multi-tasking by starting laundry, and the only sounds are the lull of the washer filling with water and my shih tzu Chewbacca whining.  

In a couple of hours, I do video visits at the jail and my work day begins. 

My cup of espresso's bitterness is cut by one sugar cube. My bitterness is not. I'm grumpy having had a restless night sleep-wise. When I can't sleep I read articles and essays, some legal and some literary, and some both. I also plan my podcasts.

My brain never turns off unless I fall into music. I've found focus is best while listening to ambient music, but my mood is best listening to Bowie.

This morning I'm just here to say "hey". To capture that which cannot be captured. Like trying to write about a sunrise, it's difficult to capture early morning meloncholy in words. 

So this morning, this "hey" is from me to you. It's recognition. I see you. I hear you. I feel you. 

We're all here living lives of "quiet desperation" as Thoreau once said. What I want most is to be a woman who lives a life of purpose and contentment. I'm not there yet. My ambition is a thorn in my side at times. I want too much. I'm overextended and overwhelmed. I'm not content. 

I'm not always kind. But I'm trying. I really am. 


Sunday, February 14, 2021

Dreamer

I am up early on Valentine's Day listening to the Bowie station on Pandora and Stevie Nicks' voice comes on. I think of the lyrics to her song "Dreams" and sing them in my head.


"Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself
It's only me who wants to wrap around your dreams
And have you any dreams you'd like to sell?"


I have always been a wanderer and dreamer of sorts. I believe in the mystical. In spirituality. In prophecy and fate. In traveling to find yourself. In muses.


Lately, this need to be my truer self that I was has been haunting and hounding me. I am in the house more than I've ever been and I'm restless.


Sleep is a poor substitute for wandering and traveling. I fell asleep early last night and dreamt of Paris. In my dream, my husband and I are wandering the streets and parks of Paris holding hands like newlyweds. 


Then, my dream jumps and we're in the cemetery wandering and staring at gravestones. In my dream, I'm dressed like Stevie Nicks in a flowing skirt with purple scarves circling my neck, pink flowers in my hair and I'm dancing by Jim Morrison's grave. I'm twirling and the wind is whipping my hair.


I awake to the growling of my shih tzu and gingerly crawl out of bed. I want to stay in my dreams of other places. Of other universes. 


I want to be in a different and parallel world where I can drink my espresso in a beret and pretty dress instead of satin pajamas.


Hopefully soon, this pandemic dream/nightmare will end and I can take that trip and be the dreamer and wanderer that I was.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

JEM in the IE

The pandemic seems to be waning. People are vaccinating and the world seems a bit more, dare I say it lest I jinx it, hopeful.

It's been almost a year. I keep thinking of that so I don't forget. How reality can change in an instant. One day you're flying for a writing conference and a couple of weeks later, lockdown.

I remember the days when I would meet up with my besties on a regular basis to drink, eat and commiserate. I've been rewatching the series "Sex and the City" and what I love about it most, and what I miss the most right now, are my female friendships and bonding. The show is a guilty pleasure because in some ways what seemed risqué is now passé, and Samantha clearly needs therapy. But I love it despite all that. 

I've always said, I'm a mix between Carrie and Miranda, a writer and a lawyer. Free spirited and quirky, along with somewhat neurotic and controlling. I've always been drawn in by the start of each episode of the series, with Carrie writing and discussing a piece for her column. 

I also appreciate them showing how hard it is to be a writer, all of the financial instability, the writer's block and the deadlines. Then last night, I was watching the episode where they turn Carrie's columns into a book and all I could think was, lucky girl! If only it was so easy!

The other thing I love about the show is that it's a love letter to New York. There is literally an episode about Carrie's love for her city (the one with the sailors). Geography and my love for my hometown are so much a part of me, my life and my writing that I can totally relate. 

And it made me think, is a hometown that you love a healthy tether to the past or a way to avoid a new future?

I guess, we are where we are. And right now, I am where I am. And that's here, getting up and putting on a punk rock tee and sweats to drink coffee in the IE. It's not sexy but it's my city.




Friday, February 5, 2021

It's Friday and I'm tired

It's Friday and I'm exhausted. There's a recent article in HuffPost talking about how we're all hitting a "wall" in these pandemic times. 

See https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/coronavirus-pandemic-wall-mental-health-104500279.html

After reading it, I realized that I'm in pandemic burnout. It's taken months and months of this work and worry existence and I'm burnt toast.

This has gone on much longer than anyone anticipated. It has been almost a year at this point. How did we get here? It seems as if it was an inch by inch creeping of a lockdown and then extension after extension of the shutdown. 

At this point, I know we all just want it to be over. It's terrifying to see how quickly I've become reconciled to this agoraphobic type existence. Some weekends, I do not leave the house. It feels safe and comfortable inside. 

This is coming from the lips of a girl who is, or should I say was, a social butterfly. What will it be like when I'm allowed to go out into the world to see a concert again? Will I feel as if it's all too much effort? 

To live life fully is difficult, it shouldn't be deadly obviously, but even in a non-pandemic, traveling was always anxiety inducing. I do not sleep well on vacation, but even with my anxiety issues, it was always worth it. 

To have seen the Louvre was like a dream and to stare at the Eiffel Tower from my Paris hotel balcony was magical. A walk to get French pastry in the morning after waking up in my cousin's house near Rouen is something I'll never forget. Traveling with my husband to the wine country in Mexico and finding a Frida winery was the best of times along with watching the Super Bowl with my sisters in Rosarito.

Then, making my way to San Antonio for a writing conference. Meeting a friend for a drink. Watching the keynote address of Helena Viramontes. Doing my own reading at a tiny bookstore and hanging out with my writing friends after at a bar. Eating breakfast tacos in the morning with my roomie.

Those times are from my life before this pandemic. They are memories of a different time, one I hope to get back to soon. 

Soon. Soon. Soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

A new day in the best way

Yesterday, I felt hopeful for the first time in months, years really. Almost giddy, I watched the inauguration. I cheered for Harris, clapped and raised my arms in joy at Biden's honest sincerity and cried when Amanda Gorman spoke her beautiful poem, The Hills We Climb". 

It felt so real. So true. Years of the surreal and manufactured realities has made me appreciate truth. It has made me appreciate bipartisanship and civility.

On January 6th, insurrectionists tried to take our democracy away. They tried to break us with their fury. But we won. We won.

There is still a lot to do. As someone who sees the broken criminal system firsthand (I try and no longer call it the criminal "justice" system), there is so much change that must happen. Systemic changes. Changes aimed at the very foundations of a criminal system that is based on retribution, and perpetuated by racism and denial of its inequities. Poverty is taking over and home and food insecurity is rampant. Mental health issues are on the rise. And the pandemic has made the problems even worse.

Where do we go from here? Here's what we do. We push our leaders to do more. We ask for a true democracy. Where everyone is treated equally and with compassion for all. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Messy days

I'm a mess. I'm wearing inside out pajama bottoms and a torn punk rock tee. My hair is ratted and matted, and my curly locks are jumbled together like my thoughts. I am sans shoes and bra and have a leopard handkerchief around my hair to hide the gray.

It's a county holiday but I'm underwater at work. I have to put in at least a few hours to get ahead for the week. I go through my calendar, and start documenting files and reading reports. 

The pandemic has created a backlog and this week I will pay the price. I started working on this mammoth week on Friday. I had anxiety all weekend about it so decided to work today to alleviate the stress. I have a new tactic where I put emails in drafts to send out later. It allows me to prep without seeming like I'm too far ahead.

I decide to go for a drive to my favorite coffee shop to get coffee and avocado toast. Blasting Sledford Mods, I roll down the windows and sing along. Speeding down Glen Helen Parkway, I feel alive and free.

The traffic light turns green and I make a right on Sierra. Pulling into Klatch Coffee's drive-thru, I look in my rear view mirror and it's worse than I thought. I look a fright. 

But fuck it. We're in a damn pandemic and I need coffee more than I need to impress anyone. Embrace the mess, I think to myself. And I promise myself to brush my hair later. 

I guess the point of all this is to show that I, like many of you, are struggling to keep it together. But I am keeping it together. One day and one espresso at a time.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Strange days

The limits of written discourse are clear here. There is really no effective way to convey how I feel typing this out in tiny characters on my phone at 5 am.

The house is quiet. All I can hear is the dripping of the faucet.  This has been a strange week and I am in a strange mood. I've had a rock made up of anxiety and fear in my stomach all week. I feel as if I am in a nightmare of a fairy tale and swallowed a poison apple whole.

When things happen of a historic nature, I don't think we can always process them as historic. All of the shocking and horrifying moments on Wednesday, January 6th, felt surreal. They felt like the plot of a bad Netflix show. Yet, they were our moments. History in the making to use a cliche. And us, all of us, sat staring at our televisions in our small pandemic lockdown worlds. You might have even ordered a pizza or downed a beer. I just sat there. Mute. Transfixed.

It's hard, even days later, to reconcile the events. They seem not quite real. Did that really happen is a question we might even ask ourselves in the future. 

Yes, it did. It really happened.

Everything still just seems so unsettled. With the transition looming, I still worry for our country. 

The one thing I realized this morning is that this last year since March has been a long car ride of worries. It's as if we are on a train to somewhere unknown. And as I lay here, I think to myself, I hope everything goes OK. By everything I mean the transition and inauguration as well as the pandemic and vaccine.

I'm sure that I, like all of us, just want this mess all to be over. I want to go back to the days pre-pandemic and pre Capitol riots when the world felt less chaotic and scary and not so tumultuous and unnerving. 

But I also realize that for many, especially for those less privileged than I, the world has always been this way. 


Thursday, January 7, 2021

A day of infamy

Yesterday was an unbelievable and historic (in the worst way) kind of day. There are really no words. I was working from home when I finished prepping my calendar for court the next day. I had celebrated the Dems winning in Georgia. Then, taking a break, I saw a news alert that a mob had attacked the Capitol.

The rest of the afternoon, I was transfixed to the news. I couldn't tear myself away. I texted my husband who had no idea what was going on. When he got home we watched the news together. All night.

I had never watched a live certification before. It was tedious and also fascinating. I admired the senators who withdrew their objections and shook my head at those who persisted. I listened to the speeches. Some Senators had the courage to make impassioned statements defending liberty. And I marveled at the fact that, mere hours after an attack on democracy, our democracy was back at work.

Can you believe it? Our Capitol was overrun with insurgents and domestic terrorists. The security and police just fell apart and did nothing. It must be said, this was not protest. These people were armed and had an agenda. Where was the security? How did these people get in the halls? That will be an ongoing question.

But really, is it that surprising that this occurred? The President fanned the flames just hours before. He told them to go to the Capitol as did Giuliani who told them to engage in "trial by combat". As a lawyer in criminal defense, I see their conduct as incendiary. They instigated this riot. They should be held culpable.

I do not trust that this all ends here. We need to protect our democracy. 

I believe in laws and the Constitution so let's implicate them and Vice-President Pence should invoke the 25th Amendment at this point and take over. Even if the outgoing President objects, which he almost certainly will, Congress can delay a vote and leave VP Pence to oversee a peaceful transition. 

This needs to happen and fast.



 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Let love rule

Finally, we have put 2020 behind us. It was a year of chaos and unimaginable upheaval. It was a year of sadness. But as in most dark days, there were unexpected moments of joy and light.

The question really remains, where do we go from here? After months of this pandemic, who are we as a nation? After the protests highlighting police brutality and social injustice, has anything changed? After the defeat of a tyrannical leader, what will the next administration bring?

I think what I have realized this last year is that I, and by extension we, can achieve anything we put our minds to. And I mean anything!

My live podcast is something I never could have imagined doing before the pandemic. Years ago, really decades ago, I considered a career in broadcasting journalism, but was too insecure with my speaking abilities and weight issues to really go for it. But now, as an almost fifty year old woman, I don't give a fuck anymore what people think. 

I am me. In all my voluptuousness. In all my loudness. In all my volume and my laughter. In all my assertiveness. In all of myself. 

I love myself dammit, as exactly who I am.

That is my last thought and resolution for us all. 

No matter what 2021 brings our way, let's love ourselves and others.

Let love rule my friends.