Panorama of San Bernardino

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.