Panorama of San Bernardino

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


 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


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.