Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Two Months, Two Days

June 8: The folder on my computer desktop "Dad" is filled with documents, notes, lists. As of right now I can't bear to see the word there, so meaningful, so loaded. I changed it to his initials instead. Better. A little.

Every day another piece of mail comes with his name on it. At first, the letters looked so strange  in the little metal mailbox, tilted on its side, waiting.

Sometimes, there's this: his laughter at something funny I am thinking about. My subconscious is bringing him in on the joke. Jokes, the language we could reliably speak.

June 14: Then something else happens. Something in the real world of courts and human pettiness that send me right back to my soapbox of Thanks For Leaving Me With Your Mess. I will have to, and must, put down the conversation between my higher self and his higher self. (Maybe his higher self is wearing worn overalls and squints a lot when he talks, but he exists, I think). Back to the forwarded mail and intrusive "as is" offers, now addressed directly to me. The heaviness of debt. I can't be learning-how-to-ride-a-bike me, or emotional-meltdown me. I have to be Grownup Me. Grownup Me has sharp lines between her eyebrows, gastritis, sleeplessness. She wants to dump all the heartache and thousand-yard stares and start again.

June 27: Back to waiting. Days are coins collected and tossed, one by one, into the muck. I can spend them as I choose. Flipping so the sun hits their surface just right, or toss 'em in, impatient, searching for some meaning or a better metaphor.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dear Janine

I haven’t forgotten you. Your laugh was a boom, sudden and unapologetic. I remember that much but I don’t remember exactly what it sounded like now. It’s hard to write about you, even 10 years later. When your dad died, two years ago, I thought, maybe you are together. It was too hard to face the breast cancer walk last year. Our little group didn’t hear from your beloved about walking. I hope it’s because he fell in love and was too happy to meet us all in the parking lot so early on a Saturday morning. I will try to remember to send him a Christmas card. He really is a nice man, but I don’t have to tell you that.

I haven’t said it yet, but I miss you. Our talks, our emails. The kind of friend you were. You took it seriously, friendship. You drove to see me after I moved away. One of the only friends who did. And it’s not the thoughtful birthday and Christmas presents. The last time you visited me – remember? You had a present for my cat from your cat. It was so earnest and so damn sweet. When you said goodbye you kissed the top of the cat’s head, like a blessing. It’s so pressed into my memory, that image, the cat’s eyes closing for a moment.

I have your letters and cards and some photos of you, somewhere safe. Where is another story. My memory has gone to hell and I miss the conversations we never got to have about aging. If I dig up those letters, I’ll cry. I’ll read them all, your letters and cards, you always wrote so much. Thank Christ I saved them.

I still have that umbrella you gave me. The popup one with different colored panels. What made it such a thoughtful present was that I needed one, one just like that. You didn’t know this, but somehow you did. It still works. I had to sew the fabric back onto the ribs a few times. I just can’t let it go. Silly, right? It’s not you I’d be throwing away, or your laugh or the café mochas or the frozen yogurt we ate with your dad, or Disneyland. I’ll keep it a little longer, I think, and see how I feel. What would you do, if you were me?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's a wrap

What would any decent blog be without a year-end wrap up? A tedious list of the things that happened to me this year, the good and the bad? Well, this is not a decent blog, so we can dispense with that nonsense. How about a list of hopes and dreams for 2017. Nah. Keep walkin'. This ain't that either.

I refuse to leave you feeling as though you must slog through another snarky post from me, or a whinefest about who-knows-what. I am not in a mood to whine or gripe (no, I'm not currently intoxicated, smart alecks). I'm in the mood to think about right now -- sitting up straight, already hungry for lunch, relatively clean air in my lungs. Some days, that has to be enough. Don't you think?

Happy holidays, everyone (OK, you two).

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Downhill Sunday

Poor Sunday. It’s a perfectly good day of the week. It has a sunrise and a sunset like all the others. It is one-half of your precious, precious weekend, yet it’s abused and misunderstood. You only remember this on a 3-day weekend when Sunday becomes the meat in a tasty, carefree holiday-weekend sandwich. On 3-dayers, the late afternoon sun does not taunt or remind you, “Your freedom is slipping away. You’re almost out of time, sucker.”

You can actually enjoy Sunday, even watch 60 Minutes without hearing the ticking stopwatch as a harbinger of workweek doom, filing your with the dread and terror Dorothy felt as she watched the hourglass countdown her life.

When did this start? Think about it. As an infant, you had no need for time, no hopes and dream for Sunday to smash. It was another day of eating, sleeping and filling your diaper. Peace. Then, along comes school. A new and baffling routine that is both exhilarating and exhausting. Rules are imposed and you meet, for the first time, your dark master -- The Clock. It tells you when and for how long: recess -- 10 minutes, lunch -- 30 minutes, the clock calls all the shots and is, in a way, the enforcer for Days.

As you grow older and find your rhythm, make friends, play tetherball, learn which days to buy lunch, the weekend has a distinct feel -- the haggard relief of Friday evening, the buoyant, celebratory arm-swinging freedom of Saturday, then Sunday.  Mornings are OK, there’s still reason to believe, the trust. Then you learn to recognize the quality of light that only a Sunday afternoon can deliver. It’s light tinged with sorrow and discarded party hats, of fatigue and an empty room once occupied by cheerful people. You resist at first, rightly so, struggle against the ties that are cinching even tighter. Night falls and you’d better think about bed, you’d better think about what you’ll wear tomorrow, you’d better set your alarm. The Clock has spoken. It’s over. The plush, luxurious hours of the weekend are gone.

But don’t worry, child, don’t you worry. You’ll have another 50 years to get used to it, if you’re lucky.

Monday, April 25, 2016


It’s hard to think of food, to describe it, recall it when you’re stuffed, waistband cutting across your swollen belly.  A bite here, a crunch there, shove, chew, savor, swallow, delightful, gorge-worthy.  Guilt and treadmills, sweat, sweat, gasping, incline higher.  In the end will any of it matter?  When you reach the end of your life will you think, chastising yourself “I wish I had enjoyed food less.  Eaten fewer crème brulées, not so many fries, one less gallon of ice cream?” No, of course not.  Well, you might if you have nearly killed yourself with food and can no longer walk, your heart weak as a kitten.  But 10 lbs. of vanity weight?  Regrets?  No.

You might wish there had been fewer processed, plastic-wrapped food-like substances purchased from gas stations.  You might wish for more perfect summer peaches, sweet, crisp, and juicy in equal parts, instead of mass-produced candy that leaves you wanting, leaves you hating your choice that day, that hour of self-abuse.

You might regret that cheap sparkling wine that you choked down because of its famous name and adorable packaging.  Another $20 and you could have avoided a headache.  Just imagine what if, at the end, you don’t think of food at all? What if it’s not steaming hot crepes smeared with Nutella in January?  Or the perfect peanut butter and jelly from your lunchbox, cut into four triangles?  You could remember you and your sweetheart’s first picnic, and only remember holding hands and the nap and the dog snoring in his sleep and not the homemade fried chicken you made to go with his favorite deli coleslaw, or maybe food would be woven into all the memories you collect at the end, like stacks of unsent postcards too special to mail away.

Monday, April 18, 2016

last rodeo

Well, 1993 Saturn, my ride for these many years (and John's the last 4 years and change), thanks for the memories. A car that was assembled in the good ol' US of A and lasted longer than the company did. It survived a tire tread hitting its hood on the freeway, countless rocks in its windshield, and it pulled me out of 3 feet of water in the 1996 floods in Sacramento.

Is it silly to write a goodbye blog to an automobile? Perhaps. Am I anthropomorphising here? Um.  Yes. I was relieved when I came out to wait for my Lyft ride that they had already taken it away. My betrayal complete and my voucher in hand, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of that off-Coliseum Way cul-de-sac, inaptly called Julie Ann Way, more fitting for a sweet-faced babysitter than a locale for destroying cars, where the sound of a grinding engine is ever-present.  It also had to be at least 15 degrees warmer there than the rest of Oakland.

At 26, I was far too immature to stroll onto a dealership lot by myself, so I arrived with my mom, stepdad, and sister for moral support. After much indecision, hand-wringing and lunch, I rolled off the lot with a gold SL1 beauty and was thrilled to have a brand new car. I paid it off in 1998 and just today, sent it off to scrap heap.  The check for $1000 should arrive in a couple days.  You read that right: a grand for this ol' gal with probably 200K miles on it.  Why "probably"?  The odometer gave up the ghost 3 or 4 years ago.  The speedometer is out.  Oh, and the rear defroster. And the air conditioner.  Under the hood, you don't wanna know, but it made it to its last rodeo.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I have no excuse for my lack of posts. I'd say "I've been busy" (like everyone else is not?) but that's only partly true. I could have used the hours I binge-watched Netflix over the holidays to write here. I could have made a point of doing it, but I didn't. Moving on.

One thing I never wanted to do with this blog was to bore the hell out of people with prolonged navel-gazing. I have, a few times, written about "current events." Ooh! Like my riveting piece about pigeons. That was a white-knuckle ride. Or a teaching moment of this post, about a word I discovered. Like I got that one into the lexicon. Turns out it is easier to say "I was so embarrassed for her!" You're having that feeling right now, aren't you?

Maybe the most use I've found for this blog is just for me. A place to set my essays or short stories free from the terrible burden of revision. This way, they don't molder in the recesses of my hard drive with years-ago dates and either surprise me (I wrote that?) or leave me shaking my head (What a load of old shit. As Nan says.) There's a chance someone will read the piece, right? A possibility that someone might grin or nod their heads? I can live with that.