Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Yes, yes, I know, no "holidays" with the "happy." Well, to me it is "Happy Holidays" because Christmas in my life has always been, and is now, a conglomeration of celebrations. My mother's birthday was on the 24th, M's birthday is on the 28th, Hannukah this year begins the 25th, Christmas of course is on the same day. Then there is the idea of these weeks being a secular celebration of life, light, consumerism (Yay Target and Wal-Mart, oh lovely Nordstrom's!).

This past week has been a busy one, having attended no less than three (3!) Christmas programs at each of the schools of the children. M's was the most chaotic by far, being at the pre-school where the students start at age 2. The result wasn't so much a group of angelic children on stage singing Christmas carols, but rather an explosion of running and crying children in pajamas racing to their moms and dads in the audience. Only the most mature kids (M being one of them) managed the long walk from the entrance to the stage. There was also the delightful moment where little Johnny was throwing the hay out of Baby Jesus's crib all over the set. No one interrupted him. Perhaps it was because he looked so, so very happy.

A's program was a mass of singing as well, with a performance or two on the recorder. Imagine the sound of thirty-five third-graders puffing away on their black and white plastic recorders...such harmony, such sweetness!

J's program was the pinnacle of performances in which he played the bass drum for a few songs and the snare for several others, the show a total of 35 songs by a minimum of 350 children occupying the chorus and the grand band. What a night! Junior high in its true nature. The many, many girls in the chorus looked so caught between worlds, not children, not grown, a strange set in short skirts and overly-done make-up during one string of songs, followed by a shift to pajamas, jogging arm-in-arm and throwing candy to the audience. At intermission, the girls giggled in the front of the gym in frighteningly intimidating cliques. The boys on the other hand gathered behind the gym, putting each other into trash cans and rolling the cans down the grassy hill, their wildness equally as intimidating. How amazing that they all returned at the right time to finish the program.

Busy, busy, busy! In between the programs, we attended Marie's funeral, battled awful head colds, entertained out-of-state company, attended a family reunion, and shopped and wrapped.

Today, I wrangled my kids for a photo for cards that I'll pass out at the upcoming parties. I suggested we take a walk down to the creek for a natural backdrop. That was when all hell broke loose. M wouldn't change out of her shorts and tank top. J fought like a bulldog to keep his blue gym shorts on, A was at his wit's end because M was copying him and wouldn't stop fighting for Sassy's leash. Sassy (because she is SO much a part of our family) was literally out of her mind with excitement at the prospect of a walk in the woods. Then there was D and I, griping at the children, getting a little loud, threatening spankings and groundings and a gift-less Christmas or a party-less birthday.

And it was so that we made our way across the street and down the very thick brush into the woods, noisy, crabby, with me carrying a tripod and camera, D with Sassy pulling him, the kids still fighting, refusing to cooperate. When we hit the bottom of the hill and I set the tripod down and tried...oh I take that first shot, I started to laugh at how we all must have looked. At just how noisy our walk was through the peaceful woods. Once I started to laugh, the kids caught on to the silliness and laughed too...oh yeah, it's Christmas at last!

Merry Christmas, my dear friends, and Happy, oh-so-happy Holidays from the entire Blissful Family of the Suburbs!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Passing

We had a loss this past week - D's mother, Marie, died in her sleep following a stroke. She was 95 years old, and had lived a sweet, modest life, originating from Nebraska. She was deeply and innocently religious. The only book she read as a rule was the Bible. Her favorite verse was John 3:16, for God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

D is more than okay with her peaceful death, having been ready for this moment for a long time. Marie lived in a nursing home, lived mainly for sleeping and eating, and sometimes didn't recognize those around her. But she seemed to always know her boys, D and his brother, along with their older sister, MW. Whenever any of them came through the doors of the home, her face would light up with the most obvious joy.

For someone so inherently sweet, she had a few surprising instances of crabbiness that I keep with me, which always make me laugh for their sheer oppositeness of who she was. First were those times in public places when she'd say in a very loud voice (thanks to her being unable to hear very well), "My, she's fat!" or "She better lose some weight or who knows what will happen!" Then there was the day I was visiting her after the death of D's father, Bill. They'd been married many years but were not very close once they moved to the nursing home. I'd been feeling sad about Bill's death and I asked Marie if she missed him. Without missing a beat, she said in a calm voice, "No, he really was an old grouch." In the same vein, D's brother WS told us of what she said when he told her of Bill's death. Instead of crying or acting distressed, she smiled, put her hands together, and said, "Now the money's all mine!"

Marie wasn't educated, having ended school in her eighth grade year to work at her father's farm in Hastings, Nebraska. It was there that she met Bill, D's father. The two married and drove out to California to make a home. Bill made his living in the cattle business, having a side business as a butcher...but not the kind of butcher that works in a shop. He was a slaughter-man, the one who walked onto properties, shot the cow and cut it up into the requisite sides of beef. The man was strong to say the least. D remembers him as serious, brooding, and short-tempered. So his mother made up for it while Bill traveled.

Every week, despite Bill's warning not to spend money, Marie took her children to the Baptist prayer meetings at their church, followed up by dinner at a local diner, Betsy Ross. D remembers those dinners lovingly, because that was how she stood up to her husband, that was what she did to counter his rougher ways.

Monday, we'll have the funeral. It will be modest like she was, a graveside service, flowers, where she'll be laid to rest next to she wanted, like he wanted.

Off you go, Marie, onto your next journey. May it be filled with the light you imagined.

Monday, December 12, 2005

A Blissful Christmas Season

Final exams are here now - too late for some to ever catch up with the demanding assignment roster. A student who hadn't been in class for weeks showed up for the exam two hours after the official start time of 7:30 a.m. What could I say when her list of work done was so woefully skimpy?

"It's probably not worth bothering with the exam - you don't have the points to pass, even assuming you ace the exam."

She sighed and sorta smiled, agreeing, turned on her heels and left.

It's a drag to not show up for your own life.

The past week has been hectic as usual, my little angelic M being anything but angelic (as a side note, she's taken to wanting to be called, "My little Angel" by the family and I suspect she's basing this newfound saintliness on a song they sing at the Christian pre-school she attends). M seems to be on a rampage, short-tempered, poking the dog to get her attention, screaming at everyone.

I think what she's suffering from is: Pre-Christmas Jitters. The school is preparing for a Christmas program, the boys keep talking about Christmas presents, we keep threatening the lack of Santa's visit if they all keep misbehaving, the commercials are Christmas-heavy, the house is decorated, the tree is laden with God, Christmas is coming!

Yes, I'm saying it, my minimalist Jewish upbringing sets far behind our mostly-secular celebration of Christmas. But...I rather love it this way. How wonderful to sit in the darkened den, the lights on the tree coloring the room with color, the scent of the tree, the coziness which eases the children into sleep. I look forward to the dinners and the gifts, the winter which will come, too.

For this, I'm more than happy to show up.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Slides on a White Sheet

Saw a great movie this evening - "Walk the Line" - really good, I was moved by the love, the journey, the pursuit of an artistic dream, the wish for safe simplicity.

Where have I been this week?

Thanksgiving was relaxed - two dinners on two days - sisters-in-law each doing the turkey, letting me do fun stuff like deadly-sugared yams and alcohol-drenched stuffing. Oh and the pumpkin pie from Marie Callendar's with luscious whipped cream. On Saturday, the day of the second dinner, my brother dragged out old slides, from when we were children, and we watched our own young faces in photos taken by my father...watched my parents' 30-something faces flash by, clicking by with no music, without the benefit of a sexy computer program to entertain us by crumpling pictures or pixelizing them as the show moved from slide to slide.

My dad loved photography and he took wonderful pictures that absolutely captured the era, their beauty, our sweetness. How well those pictures covered up the pain, the drama of their real lives, of what came later when their marriage finally blew up, emotional shrapnel whipping through all of us. B, my brother, and A, we all laughed and approved and mocked and sighed as we sat in the darkened living room, watching the shots against a wrinkled white sheet hanging along a set of drapes. The light of the projector and the sounds of the slides dropping into the lit pocket of the machine drifted throughout the room, like something ethereal, like the memories of the pictures themselves.

I left the dinner missing my father above all - missing his humor, missing the mystery of him. Among the pictures were images of a friend of theirs, JB. I recall him vividly. He lived next door to us - I remember him one time vigorously brushing his teeth, in his bathroom in his small cottage, five-year-old me watching him and asking him questions. I remember him riding a bike. He had reddish, curly hair, he spoke Spanish, and he was kind to us. I believe he loved my mother. I believe she was not averse to him either. But I don't really know the details...I wonder if it's true. What else did he see in my mother, other than the obvious? What did he think of my father? What does he remember...tell me anything, everything.

I searched for him on the internet, a quirk I have in that I know his real name. I'm tempted to write him, to ask him, "Do you remember us, do you remember them then?" I did locate him, where he works now (a professor of course at a technical university). I almost felt as if I was looking for my if I'd actually found him. I was reminded of a fantasy that haunted me for the longest time after his death - the one where he never died, but had simply left, run away to start a new life. Time and time again I'd "see" him passing me by on the road in his favorite sports car, I'd swear he'd be at street corners or in the mall. I remember a time staring at the hands of a client because the hands looked so much like my father's I could barely hear the needs of the client. A trust, I think, a trust for the client and his wife. Look how he puts his hands together, look how he plays with the watch band...the hair on his arms...the cuffs folded over...

I was in a weird place on Sunday - not depressed, not sad, not peaceful, no, I was filled with a kind of anxiety that had no outlet. Something simmered within, making me impatient.

I know I'll never contact that man because to do so might destroy the fantasy that Papa is working, working well and successfully, accomplishing his dreams.

But I have to ask - why do I continue to grieve these parents of mine? Why do they lurk constantly in everything I do...I don't know.


Wednesday afternoon, A lost his temper, ending up in a bit of a breakdown at the prospect of homework. Took him an entire hour to gain some self-control and calmness and once he did, it was as if nothing had happened. Earlier, his teacher just shook her head at my query as to how he was doing, "It's so hard to get him to write anything or do any math."

"Can you e-mail me...I feel like you're not keeping in good contact--"

"We have a parent-teacher conference, next week."

"Oh right...okay, we'll talk then."

Useless, helpless me.

That same afternoon, M clung to me when I tried to leave for class near six. J fussed and argued against our efforts to get him to study for a quiz. By the time I arrived at school, I felt drained, empty of anything to offer my students. Listlessly after an uninspired, thankfully-short lecture, I handed out an in-class assignment and walked the room, helping where I could. The students raised their hands for help and I went to them, answering their questions, correcting their work to better prepare them for next week's final exam. One woman called me over and kept writing as she asked me a question. An older student of Hispanic descent, she wore largish, stylish frames, and with soft hands, wrote in a halting and unsure style(how familiar those hands looked to me!). Then I noticed the skin beneath her eyes was moist, as if her eyes had watered with the hard work. I realized quickly, no, she's crying.

I put my hand on her shoulder and leaned down a tad so I could better see her face. The tears began to really flow then.

"Oh dear," I said, "You're really having a hard time, aren't you? Oh no..." I sat down immediately and went over each question with her. I'd wanted to go home but there was no way - we stayed later, late, after everyone left, and another student and I looked at a take-home assignment with her, going over everything, assuring her that she was on the right track. I helped where I could...told her she just needed more experience and that she'd get it in time.

"I can't seem to get past this point..." And the tears bubbled over once more. I felt so sorry for her - I knew that hurt - that feeling that everyone else seems to "get it". Useless, helpless me. For some reason...she reminded me of my mother. Only a few times did my mother's real-life tears move me...and this lady's tears...well, they moved me.

Back to the parents again.

The tearful student left near 10:15 p.m., still sniffling as she headed down the walkway to her car. The assisting student then asked to perform a poem for her speech class, "A power poem for a woman who works, who loves, who lives," in practice. I smiled and listened and offered praise for her hard work, for a very challenging project.

Home at 10:50 p.m. The house is quiet. The rooms are darkened with sleep. Sassy is wagging her tail at me, having met me at the door.

Sometimes, I find myself disappearing into my parent's old drama and I'm small and helpless again, waiting for them to remember me.


When I was a child, my world revolved around the drama of my parents. As an adult, my world revolves around the drama of my children. All of them seem louder than me, more demanding than me. I'm sandwiched between layers of seeming, suffocating chaos. How strange that is.


Christmas is coming and D put lights up on the house. We'll have a Christmas tree, we'll spend a little more money, money we don't have. Sometimes D infuriates me - little things, annoying things. I hate that we're so disparate in our artistic likes - in turn, he doesn't read what I write, other than the occasional once-over and his response is always lukewarm.

But I didn't marry him for our artistic "symbiosis." I married him because together we'd create a home with a proverbial picket fence, a colorful Christmas tree in the window, and a dog barking in the backyard. I married him because together we'd not be dramatic. And so it is relievingly mundane that in the evening we sit, legs and feet intertwined on the couch, watching a television show, or lie in bed, reading our books, or sit in a booth in a suburban restaurant, eating a steak and veggies dinner and talking about our funny they are, how smart they are, how aggravating they are...did you see M with her hair in a bow and those mismatched clothes?! How much is the bill? Is this a let's use the credit card...I want dessert though. Let's be adventurous and order a Tiramisu! USC is playing UCLA this weekend...we going to Auntie's? Is that the bill? How much is it?

How funny it is we created drama out of our desperate need for simplicity, a generation beneath us.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a wonderful, joyous day, whether alone or with family or friends. Today is the day for a collective sigh of relief...the day is sweet with love, with warmth.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Harry Potter at eleven p.m.
For just J and me.
Running to the car at 1:45 a.m.,
Shivering and laughing
and saying, that was the best one,
Don't you think?

A meeting with J's teachers to talk
About improving his school life,
English teacher asking,
"How soon are you getting him on meds?"

"Make an Indian Drum" day, today,
For A which translates to
"Pull the trigger now,
Not another written word."
Done. Finally. On his own.

Let's go to dinner.
I don't want to go.
My CD doesn't work!
If anyone cries, or fights,
We're not going.
That's it. We're not going.

We're going to dinner,
Everyone's in the car,
M has her purse and is
Waiving about her hard-collected

The housekeeper is gone
To pay for doctors.

Walking at night, the dog,
The two, A and M,
Scooter together in the dark,
Lightened by my flashlight.
Together, laughing and

Monday, November 14, 2005

Is the risk worth the legal gymnastics?

I hope the Democrats fight like hell against the confirmation of Justice Alito.

The right to privacy with regard to abortions is too important to risk on an extremely conservative judge who may or may not overrule Roe v. Wade and progeny, not to mention the potential for an even further, frightening slide of our government towards the right. I won't argue legal technicalities a la Althouse because, while such legal gymnastics is admirable, uber-attention to academic case-law-speak seems to lead to a real loss of soul, a loss of practical reality when it comes to abortion. Losing the right to have a medically sound abortions in the many states across the country will be devastating to women. Period. The bigger picture must be taken into account first and foremost, second to Alito's allegedly sound though outrageous positions in several cases. I'm not willing to risk this loss, just so a few can be proven accurate in legal analysis skills.

Sure, federalism is fascinating and oh-so-thrilling as a means to show off one's higher education, but in doing so, you've lost the fight for basic American rights. Particularly, women's rights. Is getting Alito on the court based on tearing apart his critics for their failures of technical legal smarts worth the risk of losing what women have fought so hard for over the past twenty-five years?

Is fighting for Alito worth this loss?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Thanks to Richard, I read some amazing posts today written by Tamar and Jean, blogging about self-portraits, mothers, ourselves.

I've always approached the self-portrait from a visual perspective and it has always been a photographic journey I hated – I don’t like pictures of myself, never like what I see, because in those pictures is a person who, in my opinion, will never be as beautiful or as striking as my mother. No, worse...I've often used the ugliest words when I see those pictures...ugly, she whispers. Self-portraits always stir the pot filled with insecurity, fear, longing, self-pity, anger, and sadness. Oh what a witch’s brew that is!

So I take another self-portrait, and another, and just one more, always looking for “me,” always hoping to find that perfect picture, the one of a perfect beauty, the one who dances in the middle of a crowd, a person with whom people fall in love. But…but…

“Why don’t you wear pretty shoes?”

“Mija, let’s cut your hair.”

“Let’s straighten your hair.”

“Look at that hair, you’re Medusa!”

“I never went back to Mexico because of you. How could I leave? But now I feel like a transplanted plant, underfed, undergrown…dying.”

“Wear a dress, why don’t you ever wear dresses?”

“Why do you like that girl? You need more friends.”

“You shouldn’t stick to just one friend, it’s not healthy.”

“You’re just like your father – such a nasty sense of humor.”

“Why don’t you have any boyfriends?”

“Doesn’t your school have any dances? Why aren’t you going to any of them?”

How terrible that these messages stick to a girl, stick to her and guide her every choice, every womanly decision. How desperate I search for a beautiful girl in those cursed self-portraits! How desperate I am to find a self-portrait in the glancing eyes of strangers, in the words and support of friends, in the touch of my husband, in the affection of my children.

Today I relaxed on the sofa with a book, and M sat next to me with an old toy of hers in her lap, a toy that has “piano keys” that when pressed, produce tones. The keys are laid out in front of a plastic rise decorated with animal figurines and colors. M tapped away at the keys and said to me, “I’m a mommy and I’m working on the computer, honey.” I say, “Okay.” She reminded me not to say her name, but say, “Mommy.” She will call me “honey.” She was patient when she spoke and loving when she looked at me, staying very busy, very focused on her work. As we played, I paid attention to every detail, wondering, is this how I am? Is this how she sees me?

Later, when I asked J to do something he didn’t want to do, he got sassy with me, downright nasty, and I wondered, is that how you see me? Do I do that with you?

As I cooked in the evening, I griped to D about our money situation. I said, “We can’t live on our savings, we’re running out. Something has to give, change. Like…now!”

“Don’t you think I know that? Every month we go through this…look what you’ve done.”

“What I’ve done? What do you mean, what I’ve done?”

“I mean what we’ve done.”

“You didn’t say ‘we’ve’, you said, ‘you’ve’. What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

I wonder, is this how he sees me? That somehow all by myself, I created this family, I created our circumstances by not being a working lawyer, and I spent our money.

When I checked e-mail later, after the stewing (of dinner and at my husband), a student had written to me, saying how I've changed her life, that one afternoon she heard me say, I love you, to my son on the cell phone (an unexpected interruption) and that little moment moved her to change how she related to her children. Not to mention, she added, that she will change her schedule to have me as a professor every semester she can. I laughed and reflected on the many times students have said complimentary things about my classes. I wonder, is that how I am? A good teacher, someone they will remember?

A friend wrote to me, suggesting a writing contest that we should participate in. I recall my successes...and I ask myself? Is that who I am, a writer? Someone who can write? Is that how people see me?

And what of the love of so many important people in my life? At times, I can hear my father say proudly, "My beautiful lawyer." How I cleaved to those words! I hoped that was how people saw me, too. Beautiful, smart, successful. My sister says on occasion, "you're too permissive as a parent." My brother said to me one late night at the beach, marijuana scenting the air, coloring our senses, "You were important to me in those months after Mom died, you affected me, helped me." I recall being left by a lover for another woman and I remember the pain, my destroyed ego, the message that I'd always believed in, deep inside. It had actually come true. There in real life someone said, "I do not love you - there is someone out there better than you, someone I'd much rather be with."

Lastly, I feel my mother's warmth when I'm afraid, how safe I felt when I ran to her bed...even as an adult. I do hear when I want to, my own mother's voice saying, "I love you, mija." Words which seem to erase all the hurtful ones.

Sighing deeply now, I sit in front of the computer with a Diet Coke at my side, a Butterfinger wrapper on the floor, kids waiting for baths and books and extra time awake, undone homework on the kitchen counter, ungraded papers in my backpack, my make-up rubbed away, my salt and peppery hair sticking up in places it shouldn’t, my jeans stretched out and tired, my brother’s old sweater that I nicked from my mom’s house after she died now speckled with sauce that splashed from the skillet…

I wonder about my self-portrait. In the end, in the quiet of a day done, I realize self-portraits are ever-changing, ever-fluid, a blur of history, memory, possibility, people, passing conversation, playful instances, other photographs, otherness, togetherness, aloneness, regret, and all the emotions that accompany life. My self-portrait cannot be done.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Morning came gently - the bedroom was warm, yellow light seeped in from behind our heavy drapes, and M's little body next to mine reminded me I wasn't dreaming. Before long, the rest of the house woke, too. Sassy came pounding up onto our bed, the boys made noise, flipping on the television in the den and bickering about...something. Our conversation was quiet, so as not to wake D. But he did and after some more sweet talk, he soon got up and M and Sassy followed, leaving me happily in my bed. I flipped on the news and decided a movie was more fun than reality.

After some time, D brought me coffee, adding to the laziness of the morning, not suggesting I move from my cocoon. But that wasn't what "made" the day for me.

Just when the wife learned her long-thought-dead husband was alive, M came in with a breakfast plate for me. She'd made it herself. Red grapes dotted a plastic "Maisy" plate, a Nutrigrain bar huddled beneath one-eithth of a flour tortilla, on top of which sat five or six Wheat Thin crackers. Roundabout that were some Cheese-its and colored fishies. Next to all that was a plastic cup of applesauce. M's smile was shy and proud and with just a hint of worry. I kissed and cuddled her, saying thank you, thank you, thank you.

"Breakfast in bed! How very wonderful!"

I say, I think that was the best breakfast I've ever had.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Desperate Housewife

I am desperate for love. I am a desperate housewife in need of love and affection that doesn’t leave green and red washable-marker prints on my clothes…so I dress myself up, pulling on a dusty negligee, a silky robe that my mother bought me long ago. I put on lots of makeup, remembering my younger days when I was single and on the prowl. I tease my hair into a wild puff and spray my skin with perfume, with one, two, three kinds of perfume. Shoes…shoes, oh no, my feet are too worn for stilettos, so I slip into my pink, fluffy slippers, the ones with the shredded heels because our dog thinks they are mice that need to be killed. But oh they feel so good on my tired feet. Now I drink to you, to me, to the possibilities that lie in front of us. Kiss me you fool, because…

Please, oh please, I am so desperate for love.

Jenny Madder,
Suburbia, California
Halloween Eve.


I laugh a little when I look at that picture of me, on Halloween Eve, playing a “Desperate Housewife.” The first thing my brother said when I walked into his house was, “Mommy!” He was referring to our mother. I laughed…a little.

In fact, when I was in my bathroom slathering on the makeup and smacking on the lipstick, when I was hooking the silvery costume jewelry, I did think of her. A remembered a night when I came downstairs to spy on a party my mother was having. She’d invited her boss, some friends. My father was with her. She was drunk and had decided to read Tarot cards to her guests. She had changed into a silky robe that had slits up to her waist, choosing to wear next to nothing beneath. I saw her languishing and playing a sexy witch in dim light, titillating her company, infuriating my father. I only watched for a little, but I cannot forget her absolute obliviousness to her own desperation. I saw it then…I felt it later in her life, when she was older, when she’d look into the empty space around her, dreaming maybe, wondering maybe, what had happened to all the time passed, as she cooked something for me, something for my son A.

Today, I had an appointment with my son’s doctor to update his medication. We had a good meeting, made some logical decisions, and discussed his progress. We got a plan together regarding my oldest son, deciding to deal with his issues now, now that we have A managed. The meeting had been in Pasadena, the city where I grew up. The building we met in is an old one, from the 20’s at least. When I left the meeting, night had already fallen and I was walking down Colorado Boulevard, hugging my black blazer a little tighter to my body, feeling the edges of a winter’s cold. Traffic was a blur to my right and to my left I saw a rare-books-bookstore. Ahh…a kind of heaven to me.

I stepped into the place, walking slowly, listening to classical music. The owner was on the phone, talking in soft tones, leaving me to my suddenly-lonely thoughts. I wandered into the fiction section and saw my beloved William Faulkner and George Eliot and James Joyce and…and…

For a moment I was transported into a world I once had, a place of books, words, ideas, the possibility of a professorship maybe. I was someone else – I was where my heart wanted to be always. For a moment, I remembered feeling good about myself, living in those books, in literature, living for what I could reveal about those books. I saw across the aisles, a ghost of idealistic love that I had been searching for but was always comfortably beyond my reach.

I suppose in those few moments standing in the bookstore, I felt the comfort of a future, of looking forward.

Turning on my heels, I walked out of the store and headed for my ride, the SUV that defines who I am now. As soon as I locked the doors and started the engine, my cell phone rang. D asked me to pick up some Motrin for A because he had a raging fever of 102. I tried to talk about the appointment but D got aggravated, resorting to a pitiful whine, something to the tune of, “What’s wrong with my kids?”

“Oh shush,” I grumbled. Off to Target I went, battling the traffic of Pasadena, cramming my car into a tiny space in the parking lot of what once was Robinson’s.

What a shock the transition from classical music and the aroma of old books to Target, to the crowd of people with no expressions on their faces as they wandered the floor looking for…what? I made sure to grab a book for myself before I left, made sure to have a something of my heart before I got onto the freeway with the medicine and a toothbrush and the Star Wars DVD. I made sure to look at the cover of a favorite author’s book as I moved closer to home, doing only 15 miles per hour, surrounded by other SUV’s and people rushing home with their bags of goodies, with cell phones jammed tight to their ears.

What a transition. How quickly the feel of the bookstore disappeared. I wonder if my children will think of me when they're dressing desperate for Halloween…

“I remember the look on Mom’s face when she touched the new book she’d just bought. How far away she seemed to be…”

I wonder...tomorrow is November 2, Mexican Day of the Dead. I'll thinking of you, Mom, thinking I'll be setting out your favorite foods, your stuff, outside in the garden, sending you these things upwards, up, with white sage smoke, sending you a bit of my heart, to say, yes, I think I understand a little more of you, just like you said I would.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Just Another Cold Day

I've been dreaming about love lately, late in the night. Yesterday, I saw my mother and she was in love with an ugly man, the kind of ugliness that always reveals kind-heartedness. She told me how special he was to her, how well he treated her. I tried to see him in the way she did, the vision of him attempting to morph into skin-deep beauty but the picture wouldn't budge. Finally, the scene fizzed away and I was left alone in the room with only a memory of the man.

The other night it was me who was in love, in love with a younger man, strong-bodied and hairless. He was on my bed and we were touching one another, comfortably. Each one of my family members came to me and asked about him. I told them his name, a moment of blankness because in truth, I didn't know his name. But he was beautiful. Even D was a little enamored of him. We all were. How lucky we were to have this beautiful stranger in our midst!

The other morning, in my waking life, I received an e-mail from a long-ago friend. Someone who I once loved with everything in me. He was kind and complimentary of my photo gallery which he came across when googling my name. Googling my name? You were thinking of me, I wanted to write specifically. You were always too "good" for me. Always a bit of a dream for me. It was a sweet moment that carried me through a morning of lectures. I remembered the anxiety, the loss, the highs. I missed that particular love.

Our days have been dull, routine being the name of the game. The homework battle with my middle son is exhausting, the struggle with my oldest son to eke out "C's" is emotionally draining, and my youngest's rudeness and head-strong attitude is maddening. I wonder if I escape in my dreams, escape to a place that is relieving, curious. A place where there is easier love than the love between growing children and their parents.


There have been so many things I've wanted to blog about, hourly I think of things I want to talk about, to tell about - I come here and find the entry page - I prepare to write. The ideas fade. I end up moving to CNN and reading about the Bush-Administration problems, which only serve to irritate me. Especially when I read about the dissatisfied "right". They put him in office, they've expressed an almost-god-like admiration of him and his ways, denouncing ANY critic as a "unpatriotic liberal," they've dominated our politics, they've tried to control (and often accomplished it) our media for six years, they've ravaged social justice and hope to ravage the constitution. They deny the lies. They won't admit "we" were right.

But they complain.

Please, I say, shut the hell up.


Halloween is coming, Halloween is coming! I don't have a costume. Perhaps I don't really need one. I'll just show up in my pajamas, tease my hair into a crazy disaster, pick up a television remote control with one hand, a margarita with the other. I'll call myself a "suburban mother".


Students cheated in my class the other day. I lectured the whole class about morality and maturity. The two students, after my lecture about cheating, sat for roll and then promptly left for half an hour, missing about half the class. They came back in, sat down, and then giggled over pictures on a cell phone. I stopped them at that point, having already marked them absent. After class, only one of them stayed seated when I made a beeline towards the two, the other bolting out the door and then peeking in to see if I'd released her friend. I told the remaining girl that she had to be in class, in lecture.

"Are your parents making you take this class?" I asked.

"No, I have a baby and I want to become a paralegal."

"Well, then, there's even more reason for you to be in class. You're in no position to be skipping lectures and chatting when you are here. If you want to succeed, you need to be here. Otherwise drop the class. Find a program better suited to you."


When I looked into the eyes of this girl, I worried I was looking at my children's future.


The afternoon is cold, but the house smells of flavorful, roasted chicken. My son J smiled happily and said he loves when the weather changes.

"Isn't it so cozy, mom?"

Oh it is, it really is.

Monday, October 17, 2005

A Poem of Firsts

How funny it is that I can’t think of a first sentence,
For once,
For this.

A story popped into my head, yesterday.
More of a poem maybe,
A poem made up of all those
First sentences that follow me around like lost puppies.

A woman with salt and pepper curly hair
Sat at her computer day in and day out
Playing Scrabble with cutesy names like
Pimpdaddy, Joker12 and Jonesingforwords.
She ate nothing but peanut butter sandwiches.

My grandmother told me a story, yesterday.

I have a memory, she said, of a girl
Standing by a footman’s horse
Wondering if he was ever going to return.
An enchanted lizard stared at her a few feet away,
She didn’t dare move. She didn’t want to be kissed.

The phone rang, but he didn’t answer because
Gilligan’s Island was on, the new one, and
He didn’t dare move because if he did,
Gilligan wouldn’t save Maryanne from loneliness.

There were five dogs in the family –
Bumby, Lady, Oscar, Dandy, and Abby.
Only two of them lasted, the first three
Run over by a car, swept away in wind,
Returned for being too wild to handle.

Love never found her when she wanted it to find her,
Leaving her in a constant state of intense

Order can be made out of chaos,
So long as you have
Imagination and desperation.

Both of which I have, had, yesterday.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Fiction: Betraying Art

I wrote this piece some time ago and actually got it published in an online journal. I was so proud of myself. Like so many other journals, it went under and now my little moment of pride is gone. I'm posting it for Edge who said he was missing my fiction, who always has something interesting to say on his blog, who seemingly enjoys photography as much as I do.

Speaking of photography, I've added a link at the side to my photo galleries - there you'll see the kids, the husband, my sister, my brother, my grandparents, nieces and nephew, me, our world. I'll get back to my regular blogging soon.


Betraying Art

“How much for the naked girl?”

The lascivious tone in the stranger’s voice caused me to open my eyes, an undesired response since I was catnapping. Like the last painting I offered for sale, I rested on dead, summer grass and was propped up against a chain link fence. The art festival was almost over and I had yet to unload “Lady in the Sun.”

“How much are you offering?”

“No more than a c-note.”

He cleared his throat and sniffed arrogantly, eyeing me before returning to the golden-breasted woman in front of him. The wool coat he wore was too heavy for the spring weather and a bead of sweat slid from his temple, disappearing into the thick folds of his neck. If it wasn’t for the cologne he wore, he’d be rank.

“How badly you want her?”

“I can give another fifty.”

I grappled as to whether I should hold out, glancing across the field filled with hundreds of other artists. I didn’t like the way the stranger shifted his weight. He had no legitimate interest in art – he was going to use Lady, abuse her. Above all, he’d commit the highest of creative crime: he’d misunderstand her.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Lemme think about it.”

I suddenly felt dishonest, disloyal. No doubt, I reacted to Lady’s features. She’d been brushed with colors of untruth.

The model had been a neighbor who needed cash so I suggested she pose. While I painted her, while she sat nude for me, she told a story of an adored necklace she’d lost. Her father had given it to her for her eighteenth birthday. But she’d been careless, wore it despite a faulty clasp, and one day the necklace vanished. Diamonds, sapphires, gold…gone. She’d looked at me with such helplessness, with such profound guilt, I found myself unwilling to reflect her pain on the canvas. I betrayed my own vision. Lady ended up confident and daring in her nakedness. Unlike my model, a similar loss for Lady would have been intentional. She would have thrown the precious item into the trash, mocking the giver.

“Where will you put her?”

The man wiped perspiration from his forehead with a red silk handkerchief. “What’s it to you?”

“She’s like a sister to me.”

“Artists…you’re all alike. It’s a picture – no more, no less.”

“Maybe I like the picture. Maybe I’m gonna be famous. I can’t just let her go for a measly one-fifty.”

Silence flowed between us, common viewpoint lost in the current. Lady lied to all her observers. Her history was invented, created, imaginary. I smoothed my exposed legs, the skin dry and uncared for. Paints, brushes, canvases, jars and rags waited for me at my apartment. Bills piled high waited, too. I couldn’t decide which held the bulk of my loyalties: Lady, a symbol of compromised artistry, or my stomach, a manifestation of raw need.

Before I could decide, two hundred-dollar bills fluttered to my feet. The stranger had flung them at me, an act of contempt. I grabbed the money and stuffed it into my pocket.

“Take her,” I said. “She’s all yours.”


Ahhh...tagging back from Carolyn's post, here's what I found in my 23rd post, fifth sentence in:

I chuckled a little because from my place at the desk, I couldn't see any flowers.

Not very exciting a sentence, I'd hoped for more, I'd hoped for depth. Instead it's a fragment. Maybe that says something.

Here are the rules for the tag:

1. Go into your archive.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).
4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five other people to do the same.

I'll suggest Lori, MatzahNacho, Barbara, Nappy40, and the Butcher.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Just jumping in for a my usual topics...

I will come back and respond to the sweet notes in my last blog when I have more of a moment to myself.

In the meantime, help me! I'm drowning in a sea of conservative blogs regarding the latest Supreme Court nominee - I am frustrated by the abortion question, by the seeming disconnect between the lawmakers and the women who will truly be hurt by a loss of abortion rights. Certainly, no doubt, Californians are safe, New York, too, but what about the Southern states, all those "red states" just chomping at the bit to reduce liberty in our country? Who will be hurt there? The poorest women who cannot afford to travel to "blue states" nor hire their private doctors to do their abortions (as the wealthy will continue to do just the way they did back when abortion was illegal). If Roe v. Wade, its root cases and progeny are overturned, the ones who are clamoring for the change will not be affected, will not be hurt in any way. They don't get abortions today, they won't get abortions tomorrow. These people are so far off the ones walking into the clinics, I don't know what to do or say.

I know their response, but the response continues to be disconnected with reality.

I can only hope for "conservatism" - I can only hope the U.S. Supreme Court will continue to recognize the importance of legal medical intervention in a procedure that women will continue to want and get.

Until tomorrow...buenos noches.

Monday, September 26, 2005

I miss blogging...

I miss reading all my favorite blogs. I feel my little "family" has disappeared and of course, it's my fault for being so absent, so neglectful. A couple of weeks ago, Tamar wrote about her cave. She spoke about it so beautifully, in a positive way, describing a personal space, "hours of alone time, time to think, reflect, feel, understand, and, especially, time to write."

How I want that cave!

At the same time, I do feel a little withdrawn into another type of cave, one not so wonderful - I find myself anxious, tired, worried, bored even though I have something to do at all times of the day, sad. I miss writing, I'm always about to write something. Opening sentences hang on my fingertips, about to be typed, but disappear with my inaction. I sometimes feel the loss of "art" and find myself mourning the things I'll never accomplish. Like that novel of mine, like all of them.

Certainly, things are plodding along. J so far is handling school all right, no problems so far. He seems to like the classes and the teachers. M is very happy attending three days of preschool. She definitely needs a year before kindergarten - I'm hoping she'll be ready for it. Today we learned (not unsurprisingly) that A is below grade level (3rd) so he's been put into an "intervention" program. We start next week...he has to be in school at 7:00 a.m. three days a week. I don't think I need to tell you how much I'm dreading that. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad he's getting the attention, but I feel a little hopeless about it since we had him in a morning class last year and neither his handwriting nor his maths skills improved. I'm thinking some of what he's in intervention for requires him to get older before his skills will advance.

Is it terrible to be sad that my child needs so much help? Is it terrible to be a little envious of parents whose children have no difficulty? I keep wondering what I've done wrong. In my darker moments, I'm convinced my husband has bad genes. Yes,'s all D! Damn him!

Thank god for mindless video games and television, oh and my books. Whatever would I do without my books?

Hugs to everyone. Thank you for being you, for being steady and reliable and uplifting.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


It's real quiet now, everyone's asleep, Sassy, too. I could probably say anything I wanted, get away with curse words, maybe a dirty movie. Yes, yes, I'll write something erotic...


We've moved onto September 22. The 21st slid by, a class in the a.m. A quick lunch on the couch in front of TiVo, a soda in the SUV on my way to pick up A and then M, Sassy tagging along and marking up the passenger window with her nose. The kids are finally in the car and the dog's jumping from seat to seat, her red, inherited-from-Abby-our-other-dog (R.I.P.) leash getting tangled. Backpacks thrown on the floor next to shoes and loose papers and my purse. Some internet browsing while the kids snacked on oatmeal cookies and a peach. An e-mail answered, notes printed out for class in the p.m. Homework. M has her own pre-school pages to work on and she's so proud. Every page she did. A did his, too. He does so much better when I'm not there breathing down his neck but I have to because he must make those letters the same size with spaces in between words...he has to make his sentences readable. I sort of laugh at myself, at how simple the writing is and yet how difficult. Well why should he put spaces? Everybodyknowsyoudon'ttalkwithspaces. Therearen'tspacesuntiltheendofthesentence!

My mother died four years ago on the 21st. I say that with spaces clearly audible. My sister focuses on the time passing. Ten years since Papa. I told her that I'm still not beyond the shock of them both being gone to think of the calendar. Mom has been on my mind. Yet today in class I told a story about my father and his absent-mindedness as a way to explain to the students to not be offended that it will be May, 2006, and I will still be asking them their name when giving them grades or checking for their presence for the roll sheet. I ate pickled okra as soon as I got home to remind myself of my parents' refrigerator back when life was never-ending and I'd never be independent and never get away from that tension-laden place in Pasadena. I used to sit on my bed beneath my open window, pink paint peeling off the window frame, reading some classic literature book, wondering why-oh-why didn't I go away to college. Dying to get out. I know that my oldest son is beginning to think similarly. I know he'll be bolting the moment he can. My little man, the one with the glasses and the tuxedo, sleeping in my arms in a wedding in Las Vegas. The one with the long hair and glasses-free brown eyes and what will be a very cutting wit.

In the afternoon after homework, I closed my eyes as I stood in my room next to the sliding glass door, a breeze coming in through the screen and I wondered when I'd be independent - I felt sad there, feeling autumn coming towards me. I don't know what it is about this time of year but the change in seasons puts me in such a state. Sure, maybe it's the obvious - the illnesses of my parents, losses of lovers, people leaving to go back to school, a shift. The sun doesn't warm me during these months - Sassy rubbed her body against my legs like a cat. M pulled me away from my thoughts, M in her red stockings, magenta boots, green skirt and matching shirt, a shirt that says in glittering pink letters, "Supergirl". Her hair is wild and big because I brushed it earlier to get tangles out. She has the finest freckles across the bridge of her nose fading into her cheeks. And the slightest overbite.

A friend of A stopped by and this little boy had a dog on a leash, a cute cocker-spaniel. Immediately A got Sassy on a leash and the two boys, both 8, went walking their similar-sized dogs around the neighborhood. We're so proud...Sassy didn't jump at the other dog or try to wrestle. She's a member of the family now, so yes, she has these little imperfections. We're working on them. Why should she be any different from any other member of the family? Seeing A with Sassy on a leash at his side thrills me, warms me. He's so happy with his dog who sleeps with him on his bed, all night, who licks his face and makes him smile.

When I packed up and left to school, I could see in the mirror M and D waving at me. I need a laugh, I said.

D gave me what I needed when I got home.

While I was away:

M [excited, at the dinner table, a un-bunned hot dog in her hand, pointed towards the floor]: Daddy, look at me!

D [turns to look while he's fixing himself some ravioli at the counter]: What do you want to show me?

M [moves her hand to show D the hot dog and is shocked to see that Sassy has eaten half the hot dog, the sight of which sends her into a fit of screeching]: Ahhhhhhhh!!!!

D [immediate leaves the ravioli]: Oh no Sassy!

M [sobbing]: I don't want her to die! Daddy, don't let her die!

A [very impressed with the stealth-like capability of Sassy]: She's going to die all right, she's going to die tomorrow.

D [admonishing A using his full name]: A, no, don't say that. She's going to be fine, honey.

J [looking up from his drumming magazine]: Who died? Your friend died?

D: Nobody died!

M [getting off the chair and hugging Sassy who's very happy with the hot dog treat]: I love you, Sassy! Don't die!

J: Hey, M, are you going to eat the rest of the hot dog?


Sometimes I think my children have absorbed my death anxieties.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Ten o’clock and I’m sleepy-eyed, the kind of sleepiness that pulls you under while mid-sentence. When the boys were younger and demanding of stories while I lay beside them in the dark, I would begin one sentence and finish with another. J was always so in tune with my tales that he caught me right away, waking me, pointing out my out-of-sync words. A on the other hand never noticed. M doesn’t let me tell stories – we sort of tell them together, her little voice leading me along.

Me: Once upon a time there was a Princess—

M (in a scary, ghostly tone of voice): No, Mommy, there was a witch and she saw a dog named Sassy and she walked the dog in the woods.

Me: The witch—

M: (same scary, ghostly voice) Then Tinkerbell came and saved the dog from the witch.

Me: And they flew together—

M: (same scary voice) They walked to a castle with no locks or windows. Tinkerbell took the broomstick (pronounced “brum-stick”) from the witch and gave it to the dog.

Me: And they—

M: (excitedly) Theeee….end!

And so with M, I’m not given much opportunity to drift off into other-sentences.

Today, we celebrated J’s 12th birthday and I found myself desperately wishing for memories to flood me of when he was small and cuddled with me in my arms – how easy we forget those times even though while we were there, the hours, the days felt eternal, endless. How I wished for him to be just a little bit older, just a little more independent. How I wish now for him to be just a little less independent, how I wish he’d not shoo me away when I try to hug him.

Dinner was lively, at our local Chili’s. We opened gifts and had cake at home – J was thrilled to get all stuff for his drum set. A new crash cymbal, jazz drumsticks, a bag to carry his growing collection of drumsticks.

J’s feet are now bigger than mine.

I consoled myself by lying this night with M and hugging her close to me, memorizing the feel of her warmth and her easy acceptance of my cheek-kisses.

This morning though, J’s birthday seemed far away. I sat on the edge of my bed and watched HBO’s In Memoriam: New York City, 9-11-01. I found myself near-sobbing at the tragedy of it, at the limitless horror of the images. I felt almost as if I was seeing it for the first time because it’s been so long since I dared to watch anything on the event. In fact, when it happened, my mother was in a deep coma, one she would never wake from. I remember those 9-11 images on the television, I remember being shocked and saddened and afraid, but mostly I remember turning to my mother who lay silent on a hospital bed and weeping because I knew I’d never hear her stories again, I’d never lie with her again in her bed. I remember what felt like the most private, ignored grief as the country consoled the 9-11 victims.

Red-faced, swollen-eyed, I shook myself off when I shut off the television, burying the pain. I drifted into the kitchen were we put balloons and streamers up. I tidied the house, made the beds, kissed A on the top of his head as he played a video game. I watched him play – computerized cars zipping along a computerized track, speeding faster than any sort of reality.

“Look at the boost, Mom!”

“I see that…” Sassy whimpered at my feet, ready for a walk, ready for the day to get on. M cried for me to put her socks and shoes on, A ran from D, not wanting a much-needed bath.

I was glad to drop away from the scary tale to other-sentences, to today-ness, to a birthday.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Free Moment

At last I sit here at the computer in my overtaken office, at last a free moment to "blog". School starts for the boys on Tuesday - M began preschool on Friday. They seem anxious to start, to get the beginning over with. How funny that in these last days of summer vacation, we're all enjoying morning walks with Sassy, afternoon bike rides, and noontime swims in our community pool, all as if we have weeks left before our days will firm up with the school schedule. In hindsight, I'm sorry that the boys spent as long as they did in summer school. It's my sincerest hope that they'll do well in enough this coming year to skip summer school. That really took a huge bite out of the break. Next year I hope we do more than we did.

Hurricane Katrina occupies my thoughts - I flip on CNN, MSNBC, or BBC whenever I get a chance - I'm praying for our citizens who've lost so much. I'm sorry I don't live in a place where I can volunteer because giving money seems so...empty. But, it's what I can do.

I also plan on working for the Democratic party next election - I don't think our domestic infrastructure can take another four years of the Republican party. If Katrina hasn't revealed who's been hurt by the current conservative government, I don't know what can. How well-hidden the growing, impoverished class has been! How low on the totem-pole of W's priorities they've been sitting - the abandonment breaks my heart even further. I feel like shouting, "The Emporer has no clothes!"

My grandparents just left our house - an impromptu lunch. Earlier this morning my grandmother called me, letting me know she'd bring by KFC chicken, that she wanted to give J a little something for his upcoming 12th birthday. Mama Nana and Papa Úl looked good considering their advanced age (late 80's) and recent health troubles - Papa probably shouldn't be driving but he is and he won't consider giving it up. I'm pretty certain it will take a driving test to get him off the road. I hope one will be required soon enough. On the other hand, I know how terrible it would be for him to lose that independence. So...until then, there will be more impromptu lunches.

While Mama Nana was here, we talked about Katrina, about the lagging response times, moving on to immigration. Papa Úl, a long-time Democrat, a WWII vet, a son of Mexican-born parents, railed against Arnie, laughing at the rants about the flow of Mexican citizens into the U.S., "His father was a Nazi! Who is he to talk about Mexican people working in California?! My God!" A note...don't bother arguing with Papa Úl, you will get a smile and swift shake of his head and hand at you, followed up by more digging in with his position. In other words, there is no arguing with my grandfather. Today, I agreed. I even threw in that Arnie himself was rumored to have been a Nazi Youth member. Just to liven up the conversation. My grandmother said that was a true fact. D looked at me and said on the sly, "He couldn't possibly have been..."

I shot a look at D and with my eyes, told him to never mind.

Because my grandmother was once an immigrant, because her sisters, her children, her mother, and many friends emmigrated from Mexico, her perspective is always interesting and the images she evokes of her own youth are wonderful. She believes there shouldn't be the problem there is because Mexico is capable of being a stronger force in the world than it is. She blames the Mexican government and illusory, stubborn beliefs.

"Life here in the U.S. is not what they dream about," she said, "it's harder here than in Mexico. Those left behind have plenty of dollars in their wallets but the family is divided. What happiness is that?" She painted a picture of meadows, hills, and skinny dogs. "We were happy," she remembered. "The struggle here to survive isn't worth the loss."

Perhaps. I'm reminded of a winter holiday I spent in Mexico City with my mother and sister, spending a few weeks in a great-aunt's multi-story apartment. I can still feel the cold tile floor, I can still remember my imaginings over the recent death of another tenant in the same building who rolled out of his window and fell three stories down into the courtyard to his death. "He fell asleep in the wrong place," according to my elderly aunt, Tía Margarita, who told the story in a highly judgmental fashion, blaming the man for his own demise (the story was told as a warming to us to not venture near the large, open windows with no railing).

I recall in particular an amazing day trip to a nearby national park, ten of us crammed into an ancient sedan, our favorite cousin, Juanito, driving (Juanito had had a stroke and we weren't 100% sure of just how much he could see out of his bad eye - some suspected he was mostly blind but that wasn't enough for the family to intervene because he was great at bribing the highway police and everyone rather risked a car accident than getting delayed by a speeding ticket). People sat on laps, sitting on still someone's else's lap, no joke, laughing and chatting the hour drive. My mother prayed that we wouldn't get hit - she laughed and chatted, too, but in a clearly distracted manner. We did get there, had a great picnic and an exhausting, beautiful hike. The day had been blissfully fun. Throughout the holiday we ate from street-side vendors (really one shouldn't do it) and played cards with the kids our age (we taught them "Pig" - according to my mother, for years after the trip the kids played the card game and always played thinking of us). The funny thing is that my sister and I didn't speak Spanish. We learned a little down there and must have learned enough to communicate because in my mind, I can almost believe we all spoke the same language. I know we didn't. What happened was that children can "talk" to one another in special ways.

My memory of Mexico is one of joy mixed in with hardship - life wasn't easy, money didn't come easily, but you always had family to celebrate with. I can see that living in the United States robbed the transplanted immigrants of that particular enjoyment of life. My extended family here...doesn't have that unique joy. It's this loss of joy my grandmother spoke of.

Today, the temperature has risen to 90 or so, maybe more than that. The heat reminds me of being in that stuffy car - I think of the heat in the drowned, wrecked Delta. I hope for a quick return of joy.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

She's comin' around the corner, here she comes...

This morning, I'm off on the train to San Diego. Looking forward to seeing my dear friend, looking forward to hanging out with her, looking forward to the quiet time on the way.

What I'm perplexed by is my increasing reluctance to stepping away from the family - I've noticed more and more that I'm apprehensive when faced with opportunities to do independent activities. Not so much with the teaching, but about going away, leaving them behind to do something on my own. Hard to put into words what bothers me...worry that something will go wrong...concern that the children will tie my husband up and cause untold havoc in our neighborhood...but mostly, really, subtle, simmering fear. Manageable, now. I wonder if it will be manageable when I'm 50.

Should I stay home? Should I cancel?

Let me think. Let me listen to the music of my home.

No, I'm off. Train leaves at 10:30! See you soon!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Another Day in the Life

Argument heard from my office:

J [angry and defiant]: You can't get a cell phone if I can't get a cell phone.

A [matter of fact]: Daddy said I could get one.

J [more angry]: He did not! You can't get one! You're just a crybaby!

A [starting to cry]: Daddy said if we win the lottery, I could get one!

J [unmoved by the fact that the cell phone is mythical]: You'll never get a cell phone, I'm going to get it first!

The entire conversation deteriorated further, resulting in wrestling, tears, and a stay in their separate corners. Oy!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Coming Up for Air

Coming up for air to spit out the goings-on.

I'm fully entrenched in classes even though mentally I'm still on summer vacation. Today's lecture for Civil Procedure however told me I need to stop with the summer mindset.

Sassy's doing great, though. She's got her issues...she loves to nip at the kids shorts, pants, shoe-laces, as they run, as she chases them. She definitely sees them as fellow puppies - it's very funny, but something I hope tempers as she gets older. She's still learning to walk on a leash - wow does she pull! We were pleased though to see that she's got great stamina. She managed a short hike brilliantly, was happy to cross creeks, was happy to get a little muddy, was fine when we bathed her in our little plastic pool outside. I have to say, we're all totally in love with her and she's brought a much-needed sense of "gentleness" to the house. It's great for the kids when she lies on the blanket on the couch and they get to pet her. She slows them down a little.

A little.

There have been days I've said, "I cannot stand my children!" They fight, they demand, they sass us. D and I feel like we're battling the insurgents...every time we think we have them beat, they blow up another part of the house. Is that bad to compare my children to terrorists? I don't mean to demean the terrorists...I mean, the children, but honestly!

Thursday I plan on abandoning the kids to my poor overburdened husband when I take off to visit my dear friend in San Diego. YAY! I think I'm taking the train. The hotel's nearby. It'll be nice to just sit for a couple of hours and read. As opposed to dealing with traffic.

Well...I've more to say, but J's just come into the office and is playing the drums. I'm so glad he's being educated.

What? I can't hear you...I can't hear myself think! Bless his little Slipknotted heart!

Afterthought: Watched Six Feet Under - depressed the hell out of me. I was left overwhelmed by the concept of time-passage, reminded in some way of all those things my father agonized over right before his death, all the things he would miss, the things he's missed, the time that will pass. In the days after he died, I was most bothered by the idea that one day I would reach an age wherein he would have been gone more than he was alive in my life. The fast-forward sequences at the end of the program reminded me of that thought. They had this disturbing effect of showcasing the joy of life and minimizing it, pointing out how small we are in the larger sense of the world. We are but blips.

Criminy, no wonder I couldn't sleep last night!

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sassy: Update

Sassy in a contemplative moment, at last!

By the way, only my children would fight over who gets to pick up the poop! Here's the morning's rundown which I heard through the open window of my bedroom:

M [running and screaming into the yard, poop bag in hand]: I want to pick up the poop!

A [running after her into the yard, poop bag in hand]: I want to pick up the poop! It's my job!

[M screeching wordlessly]

[A laughs triumphantly]

[M screeching]

[Children run back inside the house]

M [sobbing and walking towards me as A got to the poop first]: I wanted to pick up the pooooo! Mommy, I wanted to pick it up!

A useless discussion followed on turns at picking up poop (useless because so long as one wants to pick up poop, the other will want to also - the idea of lining up to pick up poop is beyond them). There are times as a parent that I must confess to my I.Q. having plummeted following the births of my children. Today was one of those times.

Hell's Frozen Over

My husband told me that hell would freeze over before he got another dog. Let me tell you, it’s freezing here in Suburbia, Los Angeles.

My middle son, A, has been asking for a dog since my brother brought home his fit-in-a-teacup Chihuahua at Christmas. My daughter wanted one, too. J was a little hesitant since he’s allergic to cats and certain kinds of dogs. We’d had one for a long while before M was born – 11 years long I had her, in fact. My Abby, a Scottish terrier, predated my husband. He’d never had a pet and eventually learned to love her but when she went to the great grassy field beyond the rainbow he swore we’d never own another dog. Too expensive, he said, too sad when it’s time to go separate ways.

He kinds-sorta relented, however, at the repeated sight of a nurturing A with my brother’s dog. Couldn’t resist at least a consideration of bringing some of that love home.

So on Thursday, A and I stopped by on a lark at our local Humane Society. We wandered up and down the aisles, looked at all the dogs – A liking in particular a short, fat guy with beyond-hope teeth that caused his lip to rise. But he had bad fly strike (a new term I learned for awful, open sores that develop when flies eat the skin away) and was too old (ten years). We did take note though of a nice sized miniature pinscher – she was sweet, accepting A’s tender nose-touches, quiet. She reminded me a large Chihuahua, just the sort of dog A had been hoping for. I saw she was three years old. There was a similar dog about a year old except he was really small. Much too small to manage the over-affection M would most likely heap upon him. We checked out some others, a Benji-type terrier, a large Dennis-the-Menace terrier, a hound puppy with the best floppy ears. We filled out the requisite forms and were given a time to return, the next morning at nine a.m. sharp.

The three-year old pinscher was the one we’d be meeting. My husband started downing the Tums when I told him of the appointment. One thing is looking at dogs, another thing is adopting one.

“A dog…who’s going to pick up after it? Who’s going to pay for it? The clutter we have! She’s going to get into everything! The trash, your papers, your books! My shoes! And what about peeing in the house? Oh! And boarding her…how are we going to leave at a moment’s notice for the weekend?”

“What weekend?”

“The weekends that we do that!”

“What weekends?”

“You’re so mean to me!”

So…7:30 a.m. rolls around the next morning and I’m the one lying in bed, positively petrified. I’d read about pinschers on the internet, I read that the breed isn’t so hot for kids. That they’re hard to housebreak, that they’re curious and owners need to baby proof.

“Oh no…I can’t do it,” I said.

“Oh right…get out of bed, we’re going down there. You told the kids, they want the dog. Even J wants the damn dog.”

“I had dreams all night about this…the trash, peeing large puddles on our carpet. Although oddly it wasn’t my house now, it was my house with my parents. The one in Pasadena.”

“It’s a sign that we shouldn’t get a dog. Stay in bed.”

“No, no, you’re right, the kids want it, they’ll be heartbroken if we let them sleep past the nine appointment. No, we have to go.”


Off we went – a half hour ride, facing no traffic. A sheer miracle if you know the 210 freeway. We got there in time and walked into the pound. A dragged all of us to the right cage belonging to our potential dog – the quiet one, the sweet one – and there she was, barking up a storm in her little cell. The kids were thrilled but D and I sort of swallowed hard and walked around the place in hopes for an alternative. The terrier I thought I liked growled like a madwoman at D, to which I responded nastily, “She senses your dislike of dogs.”

“You’re so mean to me.”

“Proof’s in the pudding, buddy boy.”

At which point I walked up to this sweet-looking Benji-dog to prove my love of all creatures small and large – she growled at me, baring her teeth.

“All right, all right, this one’s out.”

We proceeded to knock off our list of potentials pretty much every dog in the place except the barking fool in cage P12. She barked, she slid her slick body against A’s hand in the cage, she offered up her soulful black eyes and wagged her tail. Her ears flopped. She barked again and twisted and hopped up and down like a kangaroo.

“Oh man,” I said.

The adoptions clerk came to us, leash in hand, and opened the cell. The pinscher was all over the place, the leash finally clicking.

“Lordy,” I said as the clerk handed me the leash, the dog pulling at me in a billion directions. The kids shrieked with pure joy, J commenting to me, “I think she’s the one, Mom, the perfect dog.”

“Criminy,” I said. “This one needs some training.”

M was delirious with giggles, hopping as much as the dog was. We all got into the clerk’s office. The dog sniffed all over the place, constantly moving, at last scarfing scoobie snacks the clerk gave her. She was cute, I admitted, when she made her way to me. I held her little face and she looked at me, licking my chin, her little body still for that moment. She wandered to D and nuzzled him. She let the kids pick her up and she didn’t growl or complain or nip despite her legs hanging down unnaturally. The clerk stared off into space.

She and I chatted a little – there wasn’t much information. The pinscher was a stray, picked up on the ruined streets of Pasadena – god only knows what she was doing to support herself, the poor girl. She passed her social tests with flying colors, though.

“Is she housebroken?” I asked.

The clerk shrugged, shaking her head, her little black bangs wiggling, “No idea.”

I could tell the pinscher had no real basic training – she didn’t respond to sit or stay, she wouldn’t walk on the leash in any respectable manner.

The kids loved her, of course. She seemed tolerant, patient with their attention. Capable of affection. All a good sign. D sighed and rubbed his face as the dog slid under the desk to the clerk, M hanging onto the leash and going under the desk, too.

“What do you think?” I asked.

He rolled his eyes and shivered, the kids repeatedly singing out, “Are we going to keep her? Are we taking her home? Are we getting her?”

The clerk offered us time, until noon to decide (clearly the little one had no one else waiting – no other takers on the premises – a good dose of euthanasia was most likely waiting for her), walking out with the dog, us in tow. She put her back into the cell to await our decision. The kids gathered around her, the dog barked a little. The terrier across the way growled like a fiend.

Only a few minutes passed before we found the clerk and told her, yes. The walk to the car was crazy, the ride home was crazier (the dog was positively nuts). We made our way straight to our vet and got her a rabies shot and review. The vet told us our little dog was nowhere near three – she’s a year old, still a puppy in her mind even if her body’s full grown at near 14 pounds. No fleas, great teeth.

So now…we have Sassy, a one-year old black and brown miniature pinscher (a “minpin,” or “min pin” in dog circles). After nearly 24 hours with the girl, we cannot believe our luck – she’s housebroken, she’s smart (she’s picking up some basic commands), she doesn’t disturb any of our “stuff”, and she’s great with the kids, playing along with them. Letting them love her and get to know her. She’s in constant motion but not hyper like she was when we first took her home. I think she’s a keeper.

So…meet Sassy…no…meet her now…no…wait…there she goes…oops!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Attention Deficit Disorder

I must have A.D.D. I'm sitting here at my desk with the sole intention of preparing for classes next week (after a week of not being able to get to my computer thanks to my being essentially locked out of my office by my older son), but I'm not working on that. I'm reading blogs that I've neglected and writing my own.

Sad about Peter Jennings, isn't it? I'm reminded a bit of my father because we used to always watch the Evening News over dinner.

Speaking of dinner, I've no idea what to cook tonight.

Where was I? Oh yes, several things have been on my mind. Like television. As in the death of Nate on Six Feet Under and the end of Queer as Folk. Once again, I'm faced with my now-getting-ridiculous hatred of endings, separation. I practically sobbed when the creators killed their main character in SFU and cried all through this last episode surrounding the funeral. I'm extremely sorry to see QAF go especially in this current day of anti-gay sentiment. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy does NOT cut the mustard.

Don't say it, I'm a complete fool for fiction, I know. I won't argue the point. I truly enjoy the ongoing story - love the characters, the plots, the escapism, the reflection. Sadly, there is no comparable drama on the air right now. There isn't any dramatic series as focused on interpersonal relationships as those two have been. There's lots of murder going on now, lots of reality crap, lots of sitcoms and news programs...but the complex adult family drama? If there is one and I'm not aware, please enlighten me.

Moving a bit an itch on my belly button. I have an innie. My sister's an outtie. I think the spelling's wrong on those. Wait, I need a coke. Make it a Diet Coke...I've gained another five pounds over the summer, damn it. Too much lying about. Oops...M needs me to fiddle with Eye Toy on the playstation. Be back.


What bothered me about the death of Nate was the sense of the incomplete life. The character constantly struggled to be happy, to reach a state of personal peace, and he never got there other than through death. Both my parents chased similar states throughout their lives and were about as successful as the character of Nate. Both died...incomplete. I vowed at each death to do more to satisfy my own personal goals...and here I am, feeling incomplete. Undone. If I die tomorrow or a year from now or even five, what then?

What is it I'm trying to accomplish, really (other than how to stretch this last week of summer into a month - scanning my girlfriend's Civ Pro notes will be a help)?

This past weekend brought up the same query (the above query about my accomplishments, not the query as to how to stretch out my week) as I attended with D his high school reunion. He's quite a bit older than me, so don't fall over when I say it was his forty-year reunion. We were teased mercilessly because my husband was the only one there with a four-year old child that wasn't his grandchild. While he chatted with everyone, I felt like I was in a bit of a time warp. Next door to us was Class of 1985 reunion, only a few years off my '82. When I walked out to call our babysitter, I could hear on one side the music of Berlin and on the other, the music of the Beach Boys. At my huband's reunion, there was a table with the names of people who passed on, their high school pictures, faces ready to battle the world. How fast it all goes! How little time we have to figure out what we want, get out there and get it done!

I'm frustrated with the fuzziness of my job...a writer? A teacher? A mother? Is a little of everything okay with me? Will I end tomorrow, sorry?

Today, I had lunch with my sister-in-law at her Christian Women's Club. I'm always happy to go to be with her, but can only take it in small doses because of the testimonials. The message is always the same: Ask Jesus into your life and you will be saved from awful things. The speakers mean this quite literally. God will put clothes on your back, save you from car accidents, burglars, failed businesses. I always, always, feel the compulsion to bite my tongue during these statements, I always want to argue (let's go for the obvious...were there NO Christian individuals who died tragically in 9-11? Nobody who'd let Jesus into their life and begged for their lives to be saved? What about the millions who die each year from disease who are Christian?). I'm just floored by the silliness of literal beliefs.

Oh nooo...the drums. I must move them. Out...out...

I've just handed off those Civil Procedure notes to D - forget scanning. Go to the copy place down the street. I'll give you a big hug and a kiss!

Back to the Christian Lunch. I chose (instead of biting my tongue, one that has strawberry tendencies, that is, it gets splotchy when I eat high-acidic foods, oddly enough making the picture of me sticking my tongue out, sort of a risky one) to listen to the speaker and apply the theory of "positive thinking" or "light" to her message. In the end, I saw that the idea of "Christ" can be the same as "letting peace into one's heart." To free oneself from stresses (whether they are serious childhood trauma or the temporary stress of children demanding too much) can lead to better circumstances, to more healthful living. Through voluntary willingness to let difficulties go, to accept difficulties as a fact in life, to choose joy over sadness, one can reach a state of peace.

In listening to the speaker, I believe such a goal can be reached through prayer, through tapping the meridian points, through meditation. Buddhism has comparable precepts, the idea of zen, the idea of accepting suffering as part of life in order to focus on happiness and joy (also part of life) as a means to ultimate peace.

I enjoyed the lunch, enjoyed as always the company of my sister-in-law, MW. I'd decided to accept my suffering and be at peace rather than bite my tongue.

Now, now, I must go back to work. After I read some more blogs. After I play around with my music. The more I write of work, here, the sleepier I'm getting. Perhaps I'll take a nap...that is, if the kids will leave me alone for an hour or so. Now that I mention it, the last thing I'm thinking of as I draw to a close, is how much I'd like to spend a weekend alone. I haven't felt this way in a long, long time. I think it was before my mother died. How nice to not be asked of anything for a few days.

Breathing in...breathing in...pretend M and A are not fighting over the playstation...what was I writing about to start with? I can't even remember. I think I'll buy tickets to the King Tut Exhibit today. Ouch, criminy, I just banged my elbow on the desk...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The RV Experience

... ended up being a lot of fun. You must understand, I've never done it before. My parents were hotel people and so is D. I never even considered this as a viable option. However, now with my first weekend under my belt, at the risk of stating the obvious, I'm completely behind the "RV" lifestyle as a great alternative to the traditional hotel-trip for the family vacation.

Certainly, the experience was not without wrinkles. For instance, we spent a lot of time tending to the children. They seemed to always be in a state of need: towels, foods, chairs, bikes, scraped knees, suntan lotion, snacks, money. D and I are used to high-maintenance kids, my brother BB and brother-in-law DH however are not. So there was a bit of griping amongst some of the parents involved ("Just go and ride! Ride with the wind! Far, far away down the road! Just keep an eye out for the little ones!")

Another wrinkle is that we seemed to work a little harder than on a hotel-trip, in the sense that packing a rented RV is quite the job. So much to take that you don't take when going to a hotel (primarily, your "stuff"). There was also a lot of fiddling with buttons and doo-dads to make everything run smoothly. More time at the campsite and we'd have had to worry about gas and propane and black water and grey water...etc. Craziness. There was lots of fiddling to be done with awning, with putting up (and the inevitable taking down) the hanging net-thingie to make a closed porch using the awning. There were leveling issues...using jacks and blocks to make the RV level (so your coffee cup doesn't slide off the table and into your lap or your kid's lap).

On the other hand, in a hotel, leaving the room to go bike riding, to go to the beach, to go anywhere, is a formal affair. You need to get your things, you need to get the kids, you need to leave the room and head down the elevator, all the while knowing you'll not be in the room for quite some time. In an RV park, the kids could ride up and down the rows in a pack while the parents drank beer at the campsite. Nothing to gather, nothing to do! Just...ride like the wind, far, far away down the road!

Likewise in a hotel, you don't usually pack things that make you comfortable in your everyday life such as your own coffee in your own coffeemaker, your fave snacks, your music, your pillow. With an RV, you get to bring your "stuff"!

Cooking also calls for more work that isn't present on the hotel-trip. Not so fun for the parents necessarily (although the BBQ with all of us grilling on our portable grills was a blast) but wonderful for the kids (no ordering of expensive, overly french-fried kids' meals that usually aren't eaten anyway). They get to eat what you want them to eat being packed it.

Sleeping was fine - the kids had their sleeping bags and were fine in the various cubbies in the RV. D and I had a queen-sized bed in the back.

Overall, we came home very interested in doing it again. I was surprised that kicking back in a park full of other RV's and their respective occupants (a mere few feet away from us) was actually enjoyable. Definitely next summer we'll do it for a longer period of time. The trick is to find a good spot, a good campsite that's clean, that's got stuff to do for the kids (places to go), that has bike paths and hook-ups. Yeah...a great option.

In the meantime, I'm gearing up to start school in less than two weeks. I've watched my summer come and go and I cannot describe how reluctant I am to end the season. I wanted to do more with my time, I'm sad to see the time speed away. Over the weekend, I took with me, I keep with me now, a memory of my near-twelve J sitting on the bunk over the cab in the RV. He had earphones on, the cd player played anti-parent, god-awful speed metal, and his head nodded wildly, hair and all moving with the beat, pure teenager. His gangly legs below though swung back and forth, one foot one way, the other foot the other way, opposing directions, the movement a vestige of his toddler-hood. How he'd sit on a dining room chair and swing little legs too short to touch the floor while he ate and chatted with us, our hanging on his every word, or when he'd sit on a countertop or the edge of a gym at a park, reaching his arms out for me to pick him up and bring him down to earth once more.

With this picture of my changing child firmly in my heart, I feel time sliding away like salt water through my fingers.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Putting the Fire Back into a Marriage

This morning my daughter came into D's and my room near five, her little legs going one way, her arms the other, effectively kicking D out of bed. He stumbled into M's room, thinking he'd sleep the rest of the morning there. Except near six, A got up and turned on the t.v. too loud, waking all of us. D was angry, tired, frustrated because we'd stayed up late talking and reading, and he let A know making him cry. I hopped out of bed when I heard the commotion (peeling M off of me), guided A back to bed (which was short-lived), assuaged his hurt feelings, and bitched at D for being such an ass. Because he was.

The next hour was spent fuming at D, thinking I should get up, thinking I should write. Thinking I'd write about what happens to marriage when you have three exhausting children, not quite enough money to make life slick and easy, not enough friends to ease the pain, and enough differences in personalities to sometimes make the ride hostile. M cuddled up to me, pushing me to the side of the bed, and the anger left me. I thought about my poor husband having to sleep (not sleep) on M's plastic-covered, cheap matress, surrounded by Hello Kitty pillows and one newborn baby doll. As the sun rose, I figured I'd write about those moments when I love D so much I think I'll burst for the lack of physical expression. Because...let's be honest, all the things I mentioned that strain a marriage lead to "bed death." We can't even remember the last time...criminy where did all that early passion go?

Oh sure, we touch toes every so often. As we turn over in bed, we give each other little fingertip rubs to let the other know we're still alive. When the kids are finally sleeping, D falls asleep, too, leaving me to my thoughts and books and movies. On occasion I complain but nothing changes really because of course, our situation remains the same. The stresses are still there. Some would suggest our marriage is in trouble. I read once that a "sexless marriage" means having sex once a month. Good god then, what do you call a marriage where it's happening once a year?

The thing is we're good. We're in sync. We're best friends. What we need is to get away without the kids. When we manage that (a rarity because nobody wants to take on our children) we can get together. When we're free of the usual strains, we remember.

This morning we woke up wanting the fire back in our lives.

So at seven our day started. The usual happened...breakfast, a little bike ride, showers, the kids playing inside the house, the kids battling to occupy the same space (fighting physics). D worked on changing the windshield wipers on our ancient BMW. He did a great job except for that one wiper arm, the one which slipped out of his hands and smacked hard against the windshield causing it to crack in many brilliant directions. While D screamed outside in horror, I worked on the list for our trip (which looks like I might as well hook up our house to the RV we're renting). After lunch, after consoling D about the broken windshield (what's another $600 honey? Your dad always did say fixing things wasn't your forte. Consider it...destiny.) I went shopping for the goods. When I got back, D helped me unload and then promptly went back to the market to get the things I forgot.

We wished we could go out, we wished for candlelight romance...the tiniest bit of fire. We settled for a roasted chicken from the market and frozen veggies in the microwave. Salad on the side. The kids ate relatively non-wolf-like, the floor not as littered as usual. M ate all her chicken ("See, I told you I like this kind of good chicken!"). A and J chowed happily. Then, a knock at the door.

I got up, M and A running behind me, trying to race me to see who was visiting. It was our neighbor, still in her bathing suit.

"We were at the pool and we saw a branch fall off your pine tree onto some wires and there's smoke! I called the fire department!"


Within minutes a fire truck came roaring up our street, lights blazing (but siren-less out of consideration for our small neighborhood). They unloaded their stuff (boots, little yellow, fire-resistant outfits) and we all followed the extremely handsome and bulky firemen into our backyard. Sure enough, there was a broken branch at our back fence, a rather hefty branch and it was lying on top of flimsy-looking wires. I could hear the zapping of electricity. I rushed the kids inside at the firemen's suggestion ("That's like 4000 watts...high voltage...serious stuff," the captain beamed).

While inside, rushing around, trying to make the house look decent, I heard a loud sound. The electricity in the house flickered. M and A ran somewhere in the house. Another boom. All the power went out.

Outside, we'd gotten our wish. Fire had returned to our marriage!

According to my husband, he'd been standing far too near the tree, listening to the zaps, watching for the plumes of smoke. Suddenly, the branch burst into flames, igniting the oleander shrubs beneath. Fire, fire, fire! D booked it like a man with a mission, the flames a picture of the very mouth of hell! So he said. As he watched from behind a fence, the firemen came around (coolly, not rushing at all) from the front of the house, hoses in hand, and like out of a movie, wrangled that hose to control the gushing water to put out the flames.

And with that, the mass of the neighborhood gathered in front of our house to learn what happened because...well...the entire neighborhood lost power. We were all awash in darkness. Dinners were lost, refrigerators were heating up, homes heating up as well. All our fault!

A neighbor looked at my oldest son with suspicious eyes. J swore he didn't do a thing.

Tonight, Edison is outside our house working to fix the downed power lines. They did manage to at least return light once again to our corner of the world. The children are asleep. D, my prince, has convinced the Edison folks that they need not cut the branch tonight. They can keep silent their wood chipper.

"Come in the morning."


What a wise and excellent negotiator D is!

And so...D and I sit now on our porch, clicking our mugs of ice cream together in a salute. We are alone. We wanted fire in our lives...we got it.

Have a wonderful, lively weekend everyone! See you when we get back!