Wednesday, June 29, 2005

An old poem...

On Prufrock

Cigar smoke drifts about me,
Unpainted wood scratches my toes,
The sun threatens to set,
An interruption of red
Neither of us wants.

Poetry comes my way,
Narratives fly yours.
Home waits across
Miles of barriers,
Distance trumped by our persistence.

Connected by loss,
By love’s mossy methods,
We share a glass of wine.
Hope lightens our moods,
Before we return to slip beneath
Perfectly laid linens.


Just an old thing for testing out the audioblog.

Back and Blogging

The weekend in San Diego with my family as well as my sister’s was eventful enough, what with a couple of days’ worth of the Zoo and Sea World, bad food, herding children, taking pictures of animals and children, avoiding sunburn, squeezing in cocktails-and-a-buzz by the pool, and being deprived of quality sleep (my sister and myself due to our busy minds). There were a few insightful moments, however.

The first was learning my sister has extremely high taste in hotels even if they cost too much. She chose the hotel and I was surprised at just how high-scale the place was – I had expected that she’d choose something modest, that perhaps she’d forgotten our upbringing (my parents liked to indulge in fancy hotels and gambling in Vegas and often paired up with rich friends so we got used to nannies, hotel room service, and paging our father away from the blackjack tables). I thought perhaps she’d become frugal raising her three children in this regard. Nothing but four stars! I was reminded of the family I was once a part of, our family, and she and I laughed secretly over the “champagne taste” our parents instilled in us, taste that clearly doesn’t go away.

Next, over margaritas and tiled tables at Islands while my husband and I waited for the large order of hamburgers and fries and one order of onion rings, I asked him if he was sure he wanted to take the road trip to San Francisco with just our kids, with all the potential for misery and buyer’s remorse, and instead of hearing a tired, “Yeah, sure,” I heard that he’d lost faith in God and in the concept that if you live a modest life you’ll get to heaven (as he was taught in his Baptist home) and since he’d lost faith he’d begun to think that this round, this one round, is the only round we get and being that we don’t know whether he or I or anyone will be here next year, he’s decided there will never be another summer when J is 11 and M is 4 and A is 8 and we’ll never again be 41 and 57 and so yeah, sure, let’s spend the money and take that trip.

I licked the rim of the margarita glass to get the salt and sucked down a little more and said, “All right then, Amen, let’s go.”

Lastly, when it was late finally and the kids were settling into their spots (M in a Barbie sleeping bag, the kind you have to blow up with a little yellow plastic accordion-like pump, A next to me in the bed, J in a rollaway cot, D in the other bed), I found sweet how comfortable all five of us were to find our little spots in that small but luxurious room. Like puppies maybe, all piled around the mother, like bats maybe hanging in the cave, next to each other, tightly, with no sense of needing space because this is where “we” were at that moment, at that time, needing rest, grateful for the rest after our long day. Nobody complained, nobody bothered one another, nobody expressed any discomfort whatsoever. Our familial selves seemed in that moment to find one another and acknowledge our having been assigned (or gifted) the job of traveling through this one life together, this one round.

We’ve been back a couple of days, J is sick with a flu, D is battling teaching re-assignments (with great misery), the kids want to go swimming with the neighbors, and I’m wondering whether blogging is good for my writing or not. I think…I think…I’ll sit on the porch with my book and waste away the afternoon.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Off to San Diego

We're off on a trip to see the sights of San back by Monday! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Officially Summer

This June morning was perfect, in that delicious, summery, Southern California way. I had dug myself deep into the blankets and listened to the birds outside our window, watched the clock shifting, minute by minute, as it approached 6:30 a.m. when I'd have to join D in the urging of J up from bed to get to his class by 7:30.

I felt kind of bad about the necessary prodding because waking him up for school did feel wrong – the sky so blue, the sun so bright, the snails easing across the dry concrete paths in front of the house, the community pool's water around the corner lapping against the brand-new tiles, the grass so green and waiting to be used as support for dreamy contemplation, the bikes and skateboards itching to be let out of the garage. The alarm went off and I heard J’s voice sharp and nasty at D’s urges.

Moments later, J was at the computer checking for messages from all his billion friends and saying to me, “Only idiots go to summer school.”

“Well, if you hadn’t failed core classes, as we said would happen by not turning in work, you’d not have to be in summer school.”

I know, I know…I shouldn’t say, “I told you so.” But I did. With my arms crossed across my chest and my mouth in a tight, crisp seal, my eyes firmly on the longish locks he’s begun to sport, as he reposted a bulletin online that said, “If you don’t send this to all your friends, your mother will have a terrible accident! Save her!”

I suspect he was throwing away the bulletin. Breaking the chain.

“It’s either college or remedial classes at junior-high,” I said. “Your choice.”

“Fine! College! You’re ruining my summer!”

“I didn’t ruin your summer. You did.”

The child didn’t stop complaining until I left him in class at the college with a teacher who was trying to negotiate with fifteen really pissed-off middle-school kids for them to be good in her study-skills course. I couldn’t help but chuckle. The faces on these poor babies! They were all mad, all so deprived (except for the one kid still wearing his back pack who had a smile plastered on his face). What’s worse is that the rooms have no windows…although I suppose it’s good because this way they cannot see what they’re missing. Right outside is the agricultural section of the campus with horses and green grass, and further on up path-covered hills can be seen.

I left thinking the whole thing was a lost cause – the kid would probably run away rather than attend.

D picked him up at 11:50 at which point he learned that J’s second class, the movie-making class (a cool blend of English and creative arts), was changed to “acting class.” Ha! A brush of unbelievable good luck! No way will J’s parents require him to stick out an acting class because he’s already a pro at drama! Hee! Ho!

Sure enough, when D found out the switcheroo, he marched to the registration office and got our 160 bucks back. From there, J and D went to lunch, ultimately ending up at his last drum lesson for the school year. J’s uncle gave him music books with which to practice. The homework? Practice drum beats created by Rush and Yes. J beamed. D was impressed. The next five weeks will consist of a cake-walk study-skills class from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m. followed up with rock and roll drumming the rest of the day, interrupted with chatting online and skateboarding and bike riding and swimming, etc. etc.

Life certainly has changed. Perhaps waking in the morning won’t be so painful for J. Next stop is A’s summer school which starts on Wednesday. M will be attending her pre-school once every so often simply to break up her summer. Being 4 isn’t as much fun as being 8 or almost-12. The independence just isn’t there.

Me? My summer? I started reading an interesting book called, “The Historian.” I have plans to clean out my garage, paint the inside of the house, prepare to teach Civil Procedure in the fall, revamp the assignment for my legal analysis class, read, write, sleep, take that road trip with the family.

Off we go.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Movie Meme

I thought to participate in this one and was surprised at how hard it was to write.

Total number of films owned: I own a lot of movies, too many to count. I buy them the way I buy books, often. I don’t watch them repeatedly. I do like to keep them, glad to have them around for me to watch when I feel like it.

Last film bought: Kill Bill, Vols. 1 and 2.

Last film watched: Into the West on TNT (but perhaps made-for-television doesn’t count) in which case, the last film-film (flick released into theaters) I watched was Star Wars.

Five Favourite Films That I Watch Frequently or That Mean A Lot To Me: The Big Chill – I love the music and the characters – for the longest time, my sister and I knew lines from it and would often repeat them at fitting moments, in particular when we found ourselves using similar dialogue in our own actual conversation. Now, why the movie so captured our hearts and minds, I cannot tell you. We simply enjoy the movie every time we watch it, loving in particular the warts of the film.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – The movie with Gene Wilder is funny, lasting, fantastical. Charlie himself has never lost his appeal in all the years I’ve watched it – never do I see it as dated, or out of style. I love the shifting concept of “honesty” in the film, the fluid nature of it, how you can find it lurking in all the characters and find it just as lacking equally so. As a child, I enjoyed the antics of the children, as an adult, I love Wonka and the antics of the parents. How well both sides are captured! And they’re captured in such a way that is timeless. Other children’s movies I’ve loved and still love include Toy Story, Iron Giant, Shrek, Finding Nemo, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Wizard of Oz and the Aristocats.

Like Water for Chocolate – A beautiful movie that is both hunger-inducing and imagination-satisfying. I love the humor, the storytelling, the fantasy. I’m reminded of my own heritage in the food and the characters, I’m reminded of the passion in the stories I was told as a child about love and heartbreak. This one just…has me. I really enjoy foreign films as a whole, especially those coming from Chinese filmmakers such as Farewell My Concubine and Raise the Red Lantern.

American History X – An excellent drama that’s hard to watch and the kind that draws you into its heart with the agony of race conflict. The story’s amazing and so are the actors who created the tale. In fact, Edward Norton to this day has not matched the intensity he possessed nor the pathos in this film. Other dramas I’ve loved include Clint Eastwood’s films (spaghetti westerns and all), Requiem for a Dream (this movie gets the award as having one of the most terrifying sequences in film, that of the Ellen Burstyn’s Sarah Goldfarb’s inadvertant final and total descent into amphetamine addiction), Jesus' Son, To Kill a Mockingbird and some other "legal" films.

Young Frankenstein – My favorite comedy ever – I can watch this one repeatedly and never get tired of it nor not laugh. The kind of movie you stick in the player when you need a lift. Other comedies I’ve loved include those with Steve Martin, the Pink Panther movies, the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, and Danny Kaye movies.

I’m sure as I come across other movie memes, I’ll say, “Oh yeah…that too!”

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Myriad - Updated

I commented earlier about how "abandonment" occupies a hub of pain in my life. There is another hub, one of action, and that hub is filled with guilt. So here I am, posting, because I feel guilty of abandoment.

What's happening these days? The children are about to end their regular school year, next week beginning summer school. I will say it, I've said it before, I'm dreading getting these boys up for school for the next five weeks - I need a break from the cajoling, the nagging. They don't like waking in the morning and no matter what time they go to bed (like their mother), getting up is near-painful. But...but...I'm hoping summer school will be worth it. For A, I'm hoping it will make 3rd grade easier. For J, I'm hoping school will interest him.

I've decided to send J to our community college for two classes: study skills and movie-making. I'm hoping taking a class at a college campus might make the doldrums of sitting in a class more palatable. I'm hoping to psychologically fool him. I'm hoping he'll fare better than taking the remedial classes at his junior high that he's supposed to take because of the two "F's" he has in math and science. Yup...F. You have no idea the trauma this causes me. It's...unthinkable. It was unthinkable. He's getting these failing grades not because he doesn't know the material, but because he found it annoying to review material he already learned and on his own decided he didn't need to do various assignments. Just like that...those things were deemed extraneous.

Please know that I, with every bone in my body, wish my child for once would just CONFORM! Be a SQUARE PEG and jump into that square hole for the love of all that's holy! Individualism is bad, I say! Thinking out of the box...a major no-no! Follow the rules, you must, even rules you may refer to as "retarded"! Such as that one rule that required you to write a table of contents consisting of the titles of the assignments completed in class! Yes, it seems a preposterous waste of time, but re-writing needless information is good for you, plus it was worth 20% of your grade!

[insert heavy sigh along with a gulp of a morning-time martini]

I don't condone J's behavior. As a parent, wishing nothing but success for my child, I really DO wish he'd just do as he's asked no matter how dull and useless. No amount of punishment changes him, either. D and I have taken away everything and still he'll only listen to his own drummer. One might think, "Why, Adriana, don't you put him in the advanced classes?"

Because, I have since learned, the only difference between "Gate" classes and regular classes is that instead of having the "gifted" student do 20 long division problems, they have the student do 40. J will simply choose not to do the 40 questions instead of the 20. Hearing that, I looked into alternative middle school programs. I discovered that the only kinds of children who will get a better education, a more diverse education, the only kinds of children whose individuality are celebrated are those who live with parents who occupy the top 1% of the economic strata.

Well, children of school teachers are doomed to this unimaginative educational system. No wonder California is in the bottom five of school systems across the country. No imagination.

Sure, sure, I could home-school. I could. I'll have to go into debt to buy curriculum, I'll have to go back to just teaching night school. All perfectly within the realm of possibility. J won't have it, though, because he enjoys the social world of junior high too much. And even if I were to join the home-schooling crowd and join the social activities in our area afforded to home-schoolers, that would mean J's new friends would be of the Christian-extreme brand. Not that such would be a bad thing, but as a home-schooler, I'd be looked down upon for not teaching J all about the New Testament and Creationism.

So back to independent enrichment. Nurturing of his independence. Did I mention that my daughter is very similar to J?

Calgon, take me away!

Update: I came across this link...this poor child is referring to quite the summer school program. My J would just flourish, with all those rules. Lordy. Pobrecito.

Update: Here's a story for you. A child dies following a 2-G ride, so far the reason for death is undetermined. As always, I was so sad for the family - what a terrible thing to have happen while on vacation. Just an awful tragedy. While I was feeling the sadness, though, I continued reading the article. Towards the end, I read about a woman who died of mini-strokes earlier this year while riding, "The Pirates of the Carribean." Imagine, you're walking into the light, earthen darkness is descending, the world is ending for you, paradise is on the cusp of your vision, gasp, gasp, yes, yes...almost there...all to the tune of, "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me! Dah duh tah dah dah duh tah dah (repeat many times) ohhhh...Yo ho yo ho the pirates life for me!" Those of you who grew up in Los Angeles know the song, the repetitive music as you float along Disneyland's pirated caverns. I don't know, I just don't think that is the way I want to leave this plane of life.

Last thing...we had an earthquake today, on this fine Thursday, here in L.A.'s suburbs, a whopping 4.9 apparently. I now have earthquake anxiety thanks to my daughter sleeping in her chair, in front of our entertainment center, while the earth rocked. You should have seen me running like a mad woman to drag her out of danger's way. My nerves. Criminy.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Fiction: Untended

Esperanza dug her toes deep into a mud patch at the edge of her backyard and the action made me want to crawl to her, lick her toes and soles, kiss her calf then her knee, pull the print dress out from in between her pinched, closed thighs, and bury myself into that other patch that was rough and lovely and engaged my daydreams there in the bushes where I hid nearly every day at noon. I shuddered from behind the chain-link fence that separated us, wishing myself dead.

Her husband, Aaron, was from Israel, Esperanza from Mexico. He spent days and nights at the university working to complete his doctorate in physics. She spent her time at home with her two daughters. According to Aaron, they’d met when he was a delivery boy for a market in Hollywood where she cashiered, both new to America. Neither of them had any blood family in the country. He loved her the moment he saw her -- for her, it took convincing. He liked to talk about how hard a time she gave him, how he won her over with his charm, with his persistence. But things lately…well, she wanted to go home, he said, and he couldn't fathom such a thing.

“The United States have streets of gold," Aaron told me one afternoon, "opportunity shines down on everyone. Science matters!”

“But she’s not a scientist, man.”

“She is married to one, Liam -- there is no difference.”

I thought Aaron’s obliviousness to his wife's wants was funny, something to mock, until I met Esperanza at the lab, until I started to watch her. Watching was easy as they lived next door to me. She was beautiful –- could be in the movies -– physically I was reminded of Sophia Loren, but the loneliness which emanated off of her reminded me of craggy trees in a dark wood tearing at skirts and sleeves and skin and hair and hearts.

Something caught her attention at her feet and she bent way down, showing the roundness of her rump. Her blue cotton dress, a plain one, lifted and revealed the backs of her knees. A toe nail had broken. She studied the remnant a moment before flicking it away. Turning, she watched her girls swing on swings that butted up against the porch of the Pasadena house. The corner of her mouth twitched into what was perhaps a smile at the play or a smirk at something private or an ironic laugh at being stuck in this house in a Californian, 1974, suburban forest.

I tried to retreat, to go back to my chore of cutting down the dead orange tree for the owner of the cottage I lived in, but I didn’t want to leave.

“Let’s have lunch!”

Sara, the older girl, had jumped off the swings, yelling her request, and Esperanza smiled more openly from her newfound relaxed position on the grass. She didn’t seem to want to move, looking lazy, but she had no choice with her daughter tugging her hand, urging her up. Esperanza was quiet, saying little. She trudged across grass littered with weeds, especially dandelions sprouting in between white, puffy seed heads. Long-time neighbors looked down their noses at the unkempt yard –- my landlord had mentioned it in passing -– but I liked them growing wild that way. Isa, the younger girl, was playing in the sandbox now, and Esperanza stopped a moment to offer lunch. A concrete sculpture of mushrooms and shells stood in the center of the sandbox. Nonsensical. Hours of play for the girls.

When they were gone, I leaned back against the fence and closed my eyes. I had work to do, pages and pages to type, responsibilities. Esperanza had her life to lead and babies to raise and a husband to love and support and the more I thought on it, the more I knew that I had to stop.

I moved towards the tree and lifted the axe, focusing on its weight as it swung through the air and split the bark, splinters flying.


Liam moved away from the fence, thinking I had not seen him, thinking perhaps the poor, uneducated Mexicana was too busy or too unaware or too dumb maybe to know he watched her whenever he wandered into the backyard of his rented cottage. Sometimes I posed for my watcher, bending over or opening my blouse and shaking the front flaps to air my heavy breasts. Sometimes I ignored him by not putting on make-up, or leaving my hair a mess, or wearing a stained apron.

I hadn’t made up my mind yet as to why he did it –- whether he hid in the bushes with dirty thoughts or whether he was shy like a schoolboy. Or both. Not that it mattered. I enjoyed knowing his secret and keeping it from Aaron. Why not? Aaron kept so much from me.

With the two girls trailing me, I walked onto the cement patio of the house we rented from the university. I opened the back door, taking one last glance at the yard, at the still-swaying swings, before closing out Liam. I breathed in the coolness of the bookish air. Our house was a curious blend of furniture used by generations of students, sophisticated walnut paneling, fantastical European castle turrets, and the smallness of 1920's housing. Our personal things were stuffed onto stark, metal bookshelves, squeezed into corners, and hidden in cupboards which needed paint. The back door opened onto a living room which opened straight away into a dining room we rarely used. To the left of the dining area were the bedrooms. To the right was the kitchen connected to a round breakfast room, windows running the periphery. It was from that circular room that I often watched the street and imagined the route back home, to Tijuana, where I once lived with my mother and sisters. Where my aunt Rita still lived.

Outside, I saw Liam trudging back to school, lugging a bag full of books and papers, his head bearing a downward cast. The girls had settled at the table in this round room, coloring, patient about lunch. I looked at the seams of my dress and my bare feet. I thought about his peering eyes. Walking into the kitchen, I hummed the tune of a corrido I remembered from my teenage years, a matter-of-fact tale about a bandido stealing the heart of woman, killing the husband dead in the cobbled main street of a puebla.

The chicken I'd made sat in a skillet drowning in a sauce of fresh tomatoes, oil and herbs. I scooped up a breast onto a plate, cut it into small pieces, and divided the bits into two smaller plates.

Only when the girls started eating did I think about him again. I wondered whether I should reveal to Liam the most private part of myself: my knowledge of him. Perhaps I could reveal this by an offer of lunch, or a smile directly at him, or maybe I should simply walk to the fence and say, “What do you want? What do you have…for me?”

No, not yet. I liked my secret far too much. I liked that Liam left his work to come watch me unlike Aaron who stayed and toiled and worked, hoping to uncoil the secrets of the universe. So admirable, so brilliant, so...above me, up with the stars and endlessness and God. This thing with my watcher was of the earth, real, current, dirty. My own secret was one Aaron made no effort to study.

“Look at my picture, Mama.”

Isa pushed aside her dish and grabbed the drawing she had made earlier, pushing it back and forth, a rainbow paper, swishing it across the lace tablecloth. A fish tank gurgled and two eyes of a pinkish kissing fish met my gaze.

“I see such beautiful colors,” I said to Isa as I cut too big a piece of the chicken filet into smaller pieces for Sarah who kicked her feet back and forth, making her body pop up and down in the seat. Her black hair fell silkily about her shoulders. When I finished, I touched the top of her head and kissed the center part in her hair, so warm against my lips. Glancing at Isa, I smiled at her hungry joy of cut tomatoes with a splash of lemon.

The phone rang and it was Aaron being kind and speaking in gentle tones dirty wishes in broken Spanish. I knew he was calling to tell me he couldn’t come home right now, perhaps not at all today. I told him the right way of saying what he wanted without any humor. I touched the glass of the fish tank, watched the kissing fish adhere to each other. Outside, cars drove by too fast and an ambulance screamed in the distance. The afternoon darkened, clouds drifting across the sun. I shivered suddenly.

Aaron said, “I won’t be there for lunch today, okay?” As I had predicted.

“I have food for you as you wanted,” I said, revealing only mild impatience. “You asked for it this morning. You wanted the chicken and cooked tomatoes especially.”

“I know but I’m doing some excellent work today. I don’t want to stop, I can't. Esperanza, this work is very important to me.”

“Yes, of course. I will see you later.”

“Kiss the girls. Tell them I love them. Bye.”

I said, “Bye,” long after he hung up. Replacing the telephone on its cradle, I considered calling my aunt in Tijuana, imagining for a moment the kitchen there, the scent of mangos in a basket waiting to be splayed open and eaten, the sweet juice covering my cheeks. No -- we didn’t have the money for purposeless phone calls. There had to be reason for it. I retreated into the kitchen.

A clock ticked on the countertop and I washed the pan, staring through the window at birds of paradise which poked upwards from their green spread of tropical leaves. When I first moved to Pasadena with Aaron from our small apartment in Hollywood, I was surprised to see this flower growing like the dandelions did in the yard –- free, commonplace, and often planted without consideration –- the plant cramped tiny side yards, overstuffed the ends of planters, blocked the front windows of houses. Left wild, they grew into ugly, massive spreads. The flowers took my breath away, though, the orange and blue petals bursting out of their green sheaths, so anxious to show themselves off. They lasted, too, weeks they preened before dying, mottled and ruined.

A dish slid across the countertop and Isa ran away, the door to the porch slamming shut. Sarah took careful steps towards me. Asked, “Are we going to the park today?”

“We have to go to the market. We will walk there and we will have fun.”

She smiled with a kind of knowing in her eyes. Much like Aaron. Sometimes I felt as if I was peering into the face of an equal rather than that of my young daughter.

“I’ll tell Isa,” she said softly before leaving.

When I finished cleaning, after picking the remains off the girls’ dishes with my fingers, after scooping the chopped, cooked tomatoes out of the serving dish and eating it all, I allowed myself to think of Liam. Wondered what sort of meal I could prepare for the hiding schoolboy. Wondered if he was studying in the college laboratory or adrift in wrongful thought. Standing over the sink, grasping the edge of the countertop, I practiced saying, “Would you like to eat a lunch with me?” Three times I said it.

Taking a breath, I blew at an imaginary dandelion and turned to see my reflection in the bathroom mirror, nearby. The woman there was tall with long, dark hair pulled into a tight pony tail. Her eyes were cat-like, her cheeks high. Her curves created a perfect eight in shadows.

Like Snow White, I thought, you are lost in a forest unfamiliar, waiting for something magic to take away the fear. Perhaps it’s not a schoolboy in the bushes but a hunter waiting to tear her heart out or a Prince. I knew the story well, having read it to the girls, having gone a tour of the story at Disneyland. I had careened through the make-believe cave, holding onto little Sarah, horrified. How could such a fright be a child’s movie, a child’s entertainment?

At that moment, I thought of a menu. Yes, we’d have albondigas, soup with meatballs and vegetable, secrets out in the open, lying against an eager tongue. The kind of lunch you would want when finally reaching a cottage after a terrible panic, clean and safe and familiar.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I’ve found abandonment to be at the crux of pain in my life, in my very own household. The children act up when I withdraw to my room, to my books or movies, because I’m too tired for much else. My husband gets grumpy and resentful at that same separation. My friends wait me out, perhaps impatiently. Back in my younger days, my romantic relationships ended in so much hurt and depression not because I felt I lost someone I loved but rather because I lost a connection, period, I felt abandoned. Younger still my fears of death and separation came from my own mother withdrawing from me to her tear-causing music, to her journals, to the darkness of her bedroom.

For the past weeks, I have been short in temper and patience and energy, even knowing consciously that to slip in this way causes the family to rebel more intensely which in turn drains me further still, leaving me to be a dust rag of a woman, crumpled and waiting.

During these days, I don’t comment to others, I don’t respond to the sweets I so adore, here, I let e-mail sit. A sin, I feel. It is as if I have been sung to and I say nothing to the soul-baring effort.

The days click by and I wait for something to change. I wait for the sense of self-abandonment to pass because that is what has happened – I have abandoned myself, the things I love, and the people who mean the most to me. So what is here, I wonder? What is here in my bedroom, a pale version of my mother’s bedroom, the stacks of books to my left, the vast space to my right, what is here behind my head, the pillows with the seams stretched and the insides cottony and spilling out, pillows being emptied, innards being slowly and deliberately plucked by my littlest one inches away from me.

“What are you doing, my dear,” I say.

“Pulling the white out.” She takes strings of it and throws the collection into the air, watching the descent.

“Please don’t do that,” I beg, the tiniest amount of whining present in my voice. This is one more bad in a series of bads, the most recent her deliberate crumbling of a chocolate cupcake onto the floor.

“Why what will happen if I take all the inside out, softly, mommy, softly and carefully?”

I remember a time when I left my puppy in my apartment, alone and abandoned, and when I returned hours and hours later, I peeked in through the window next to the front door only to find the floor covered in billowing white, the insides of my couch pillows, the insides having been spread about, madly ripped out by the puppy.

“If you take the insides out, if you keep throwing the stuffing around, the room will look like heaven.”

“Heaven is white?”

“Yes, it’s white.”

I leave her with that nonsense and she wonders the meaning and then proceeds to list all the people we say are in heaven, ending with the desire to go to heaven herself so she herself can see the insides of the pillows spread about in such a delicious, wicked way, keeping company of people she doesn’t know.

So what is here in this room, on this bed…I turn and see my daughter with her fingers in her mouth, watching a talking cat on the television, on the verge of sleepiness, determined to not feel abandoned by plopping herself next to me, hot on top of the comforter, happy next to the insides pulled out, having gotten a confirmation of what happens when the insides are out.

So, what is here in this room is but a reminder to return home, to return to myself.

Yes, yes, how do you do, I say. Why, I’m fine, Miss, I’m fine and dandy and awake and taking a ride on my bike, up, up, up the trail to the park with the trees and roads and playthings and noise. Why don’t you join me on this fine morning?

I think I will, yes, I think so.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Last of the Hundred Things

The end...

81. I’m clumsy. I’m clumsy when it comes to face-to-face communication of any kind and when it comes to physical activity. I fall off my flat shoes in public, I drop things, I stumble over my words – the worst moment of my lawyer life happened in front of a client and my boss when I was a new lawyer, a plane flight away from home, sitting second chair in a civil trial. We were in a restaurant, a break from trial, and I ordered taquitos. I was so nervous I chose to eat them with a fork in a misguided effort to be neat, to be polite. For the uninitiated, one cannot eat taquitos with a fork because they are tortillas which are rolled tightly and fried and which are therefore quite crispy but not fall-apart-crispy, more like brick-crispy. So when I attempted to cut the roll in half, the other half flew off the dish and splashed spectacularly the front of my new, ivory-colored blouse with guacamole and red sauce. I swear to god every patron in that Mexican restaurant stopped eating, talking, breathing, while I walked the long walk to the bathroom to save some face.

82. One of the best moments in my lawyer life happened when I argued in court in support of a motion for summary judgment on behalf of a client. The client had come to me last second and I just stepped over the line of timely service by faxing a copy of my motion to opposing counsel minutes after the cut-off time. I was technically in violation and that gave opposing counsel an open door to get my motion thrown out. I hung my hat on the technicality and went into court confident and passionate – the technicality was just that, I said, what counted here was saving the court time and the public tax dollars by having certain issues heard on summary judgment. I responded to each and every opposing argument and answered each question thrown at me by the judge. I won. But that wasn’t my moment – my moment happened when I was trudging up the stairs of the parking lot and a fellow lawyer behind me (a man) said, “You did a great job back there – one of the best oral argumentations I’ve heard in law and motion court.”

83. Nothing matched the look on my father’s face whenever he said to me, “You’re my beautiful lawyer.” When I lost that gift of pride with my father’s death, I lost everything good about practicing law.

84. I was threatened only one time with malpractice and that was by a true-blue con artist – a real shock to me. I learned from the threat to be even more compassionate to clients on the defense side of litigation.

85. I’m glad I went to law school – if it hadn’t been for working at a small law firm in the suburbs, I’d have never met my husband. Well…on the other hand…

86. I’m kidding about my husband. Had I stayed in school for my English degree, I might have been living away from Los Angeles and I think I needed to be here all these years. I believe for so many reasons that it was my destiny to be here.

87. Four great personal moments of my life: the first times I laid eyes on the faces of each of my children and when my husband asked me to marry him.

88. The saddest moments in my life were looking at each of my parent’s faces for the last time.

89. I cannot say the words, “My amazing family.” I don’t know if I’m simply unable to see the wonder because of the challenges my children pose or if I learned a terrible trait from my mother who often said, “I’m not one of those parents who can’t see the faults in my children.”

90. I’m very tired these days.

91. I love a road trip with my colorful, lively, loud, giggly, smart-alecky, non-robotic, unique family. We’re thinking about going to San Francisco this summer, stopping over in various places overnight.

92. I love hotels, especially when I’m on a road trip and it’s that time at night when I flip on the light next to the queen-sized bed when everyone is asleep, when I settle back against a pillow to only kinda read because I’m too busy listening to my snoring husband, the gentle, dreamy breathing of the two younger kids, and the things my oldest says when he’s talking in his sleep.

93. I curse a whole hell of a fucking lot but you’d never fuckin' know it from reading my damned enjoyable blog.

94. I’m not very patient which is one reason I don’t home-school my children.

95. One of my favorite pictures of my husband is this one where he’s playing on the bed with one of the kids and he’s on his side and he’s brushing his hair back with his hand and he’s looking at me with a smile that’s only for me.

96. I’m a spur-of-the-moment person – I can wake up in the morning thinking I’m going to shop and clean and talk to my sister on the phone and do ordinary things, but then in an instant, I can be on my way to the mountains or the beach for an overnight stay someplace, anyplace, and my inner constitution is fine and dandy which is the polar opposite of my husband and my oldest child, J. The other two kids are right behind me, ready for an adventure.

97. I get very amorous when I’m drunk.

98. I need to get drunk more often than I ever do anymore.

99. When I’m tired, fiction doesn’t flow very easily.

100. I like attention from all around more than I say I do – I say I don’t want it or need it because…because…I’m profoundly insecure.