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.