Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Work Days

I find it very difficult to work well lately.

Every day, I drive my daughters around. This interrupts my day and splits it into little chunks.

My older daughter has a sleep disorder. Waking her up and getting her going each day takes a lot of focus and effort from me. I look forward to the day when she will be fully responsible for her own actions. Whether she will learn to adapt and thus succeed, or whether she will flounder for a while, I am ready to let her find out for herself. I doubt that she will find other people - roommates, boyfriends - who will be willing to help her as much as she now needs. But we will see. There are very helpful, caring people in the world, and she is a generally charming and fun person to be around, so someone may find her worthwhile.

My parents are buying a new house. This has required a lot of research and hand-holding on my part. Some aspect of the sale process require phone calls and attention from me every day. My mom and I talk several times a day about new inspections, finances, or whatever. I hope the sale will go through quickly and this phase will end soon. I am inpatient for them to simply be in their new home, comfortable and happy and close to us so that we can see them more often.

My dad continues to become more ill. This is a very hard process. Every week, he has lost a little bit more of his self - a bit more comprehension, a bit more movement, a bit of language. It is like watching your loved one die before your eyes, but slowly, and knowing that you cannot do anything about it. 

I hope they are able to move into their new house quickly enough that my dad will be able to appreciate it and enjoy it. I hope that instead of missing his home of 40 years, he will be able to find the pleasures of the new, smaller yard, the lap pool, and the view. Of a brighter, newer home with better heat and cooling. Of pavement for his walker and cane and wheelchair. It seems more humane at this point to care for him in this new home instead of an assisted living facility. I hope it works.

I would love some day to sit down to my work and feel like work is all I have to think about. As it is, work is interrupted by transport and errands and appointments. Today I must get the van fixed. And arrange alternate transportation. I do not have the luxury of losing myself into my work for hours at a time.

Usually, when I work, I feel like I am just doing a skillful impersonation of a grant writer at work. I produce grant after grant. Many of them are quite good; a fair amount get funding. Nonetheless, I cannot quite shake the feeling of being the man behind the curtain and waiting for the whole business to collapse around my ears. Especially when I am trying to squeeze it in around the rest of my life, and squeeze the rest of my life in around it.

And fiction? Other writing? What's that? Oh, yes, I remember my twenties and thirties when I had the time to write without purpose, just for the fun of it. To take classes. To journal. Maybe in a few more years, I can stop being a valet and a driver, and return to being more of a writer.

Friday, October 16, 2015

With Prayers for All Healing

I often say this as a benediction, to end the yoga classes that I teach:

May the energy of your life move out into the world, blessing others
And may the energy of others, and the energy of the World, return to you

Blessing you...

Monday, September 14, 2015

by Theodore Roethke

Deep in their roots,
all flowers keep the light.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Buzz and Flutter

I was sitting here, quietly working. It's a much lovelier day so I had left the door open to allow the play of cool breezes.

Suddenly, a hummingbird flew right into the kitchen!

Her wings buzzed like an angry bee. I was already ducking as I realized what the sound was. I turned to see her fluttering just above my head, and then, zip!, she was gone - back out the door and into the trees.

I've never had that happen before.

Hummingbirds do love our house, and they are very friendly to us. Three years ago, I hung a small wooden welcome sign a few feet from our front door. Ever since, the locals have been using it as a nesting site. We've lost count of how many broods of hummingbirds have been hatched and raised there in the summers since then. It's a lovely feeling, having that tiny little nest and those adorable little eggs just out front.

At a certain point in the nesting cycle, we stop using our door at night so as not to startle the mother away in the dark (when she can't easily navigate). During the day, our presence doesn't seem to bother her at all. It most not, because the birds keep coming back.

Once the babies hatch, the mother only comes to feed them and they are alone in their nest until they grow too large to be squeezed together any more. Then one of them launches out and the other follows within a day. Two more jewels for our flying display!

Maybe one of the babies decided to come back for a quick visit. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Book Loving Life

I don't even know where we are in this photo.
Bookstore? Museum gift shop? I'm sure it was fun and memorable.

Which Occupation Next?

Hmmm. After a few very busy days, I'm here.

I've been sitting without much inspiration at my work for a while now. I'm just not feeling either the driving motivation or the driving pressure of an imminent deadline enough to get my working words flowing.

And I don't know if I have any profound ideas to post here.

So there you are. But, I did say that I would post more often. Coming here to write is a great creative break. Maybe I'll go run some errands.

It's been so hot here the last few days that it is a relief not to feel trapped inside the house by the brutal elements. I could pay some bills. I could finish the dishes. Hmmm.

I need to go to my parents' house and do some paperwork for them.

As you can see, my opportunities for fun are boundless.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to the Blog

Wow. It's been so long since I've written here.

And I intend to write more here. Really, I do. I love the space and history that this blog gives me. I suppose it's just that over time, my routines have slowly changed. What used to be a daily writing habit in this space became more of a daily work habit in my real world business. Gladly, most of my computer-accessible hours are now filled with tasks for my job... and with many, many deadlines. :)

Still, though, it's hard to believe that the entire summer got past me without even a peek at these words. The new school schedule is starting up. My work schedule is always shaped around that, and this year, I've slotted in some time for more expressive writing, stuff I do just for fun, like my fiction and my thoughts here. So I think I will be more frequent and regular.

Sitting here, typing this, takes me right back to all those other times and places that I've opened up to this site and let my fingers fly. Cafes scattered across so many cities. So many lattes and teas and crumbles of pastry to accompany my work. Nowadays I rarely even make it to cafes. My work is pressing enough that my home office is most actually my work space; going out is a treat. Still though, maybe something of those days will come again. I'll do errands less, and I'll dream just a little bit more. And write what I imagine.

Friday, June 12, 2015

School Drops Away...

Regardless of the official date, for our family, summer is now arriving.

Huge ceremony today to watch my daughter graduate from 8th grade. There were almost as many students in her 8th grade class as in my senior year of high school. So it perhaps isn't surprising that the event was held at the high school, on the football field, instead of at her middle school.

As it was, the stands were filled to capacity and the parking lots were packed. When my daughter graduates from actual high school, her ceremony will take place in a nearby sports stadium instead. Upsizing for the crowds.

The event was pleasant. The morning favored us with a cool, grey day and the hundreds of eighth graders looked charming dressed to the nines in new shirts and suits and flowing dresses the shades of a garden of flowers. Hair was curled, balloons and bouquets were clutched, and cameras clicked everywhere.

After a long, hard slog through school this year, it is a relief to put all of the pressures away and simply be as a family for a small period of time. Just focusing on my writing, my work, and daily needs instead of always having to meet the next performance goal, the next assignment, the next bit of studying for the next high pressure test.

Both girls went through long and difficult finals (yes, even in eighth grade) and many end-of-year assignments, papers, and study sessions. I find myself looking forward to the day when I will finally be out of school, in that I will not have to help and support - and care - about these pressures of academic achievement any longer.

For now, we are scrambling into swimsuits and preparing to hit the pool as our first act of freedom.

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Setback...

"A setback is just a set up for future achievement!" - Lorilei Gilmore, Gilmore Girls

So Gilmore Girls is my latest guilty pleasure. Season One started so strong, so charming and quirky with the off-beat characters, the wonderful bond between mother and daughter, the small, picturesque town... then it plateaued. It's been so just-the-same. Almost zero character growth and no plot development of note has occurred from Seasons Two to Seven. It's so dull that my daughters refuse to stay in the room with me if I have it on. Consequently, I try not to inflict it on my family in our evening viewing time.

But... there's still something charming about it to me. I find it soothing, turning it on and letting the characters babble away. I use it as background on those days when I work at home, and the silence is a bit too...silent. A bit too intense. It's like bring coffee shop chatter to me.

I can't really work with music on. I find it distracting. Ditto for podcasts or anything truly interesting. But a nice, predictable TV show is the perfect background. I can tune in and out without feeling like I'm missing much at all. :)

And sometimes there's a good moment here or there. Like the quote above. Lorelei is right. We've all had setbacks in our lives; we all will at some point or other. And yet, we all keep moving forward. We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and make plans for the next year. Or decade. Or a lifelong goal.

Here's hoping that no matter what setbacks you've endured in your own life, that ultimately you have found your true and happy path. Here's wishing you a future filled with all the successes you've dreamed, and the happiness of good companionship, good dialogue, and good character development in a plot that does change over time.

Because a setback can actually take you forward.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I cannot sleep.

I lie in my bed. Quiet, reasonably comfortable. But sleep, true sleep, does not come.

My thoughts move here and there, from the future to the past, searching for a place to settle. Are my priorities right? Is the way I spend my time important? Time is passing, is slipping by me, second by second. When I look at my hands, they are the hands of an older woman.

How has this happened? How have I slipped into this state of middle age? Have I come here gracefully? Am I living my life as I planned, with the intentions that I valued?

So much of the time, I am so happy. I am busy, moving from one moment to the next, from one task to the next. I am absorbed by the next goal, the next challenge. I make the meals, I clean the messes, I drop off and pick up, living my life by a clock which never stops moving forward. Inch by inch, my days slip by.

Around and in between it all, I work. Grant after grant, story after story. I make progress, and yet, I stand still. I stay right here, always with more around me to be done, always with more to achieve, more to accomplish. Other things that I meant to do with my time as well.

My daughters are aging. They are both taller than me, growing but not yet grown. I cannot yet stop caring for them, and their day to day needs take up much of my attention. That is as it should be. I think.

My parents are aging. No longer can I count on them to support me, to be there for me. Slowly, the roles are shifting. Now I am becoming the one on whom they depend. Soon I will be the one who must helps make their choices, the one who must be available to them for assistance and companionship. I am not sure that I am ready for that.

Over the last year, I have pushed my father towards the doctor. A new responsibility - now I accompany them to their many appointments, taking notes and asking questions. Last week, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

I am not ready. I knew that it was coming; I could see the clear signs. For months and even years now, he has already been slipping away, already losing part of himself into the vague malfunctions of his brain. But the diagnosis was still a shock. It took my breath and brought dry tears up to burn at the backs of my eyes and my throat, tears that I held back throughout the appointment, the meeting with the social worker, through lunch with my parents after, until I was alone in my car, speeding down the freeway and crying at the way that our lives unfold.

I am not ready for more occupation that is not making my own success. And I am not ready to lose him so completely, but over such a long period of time.

And I know that it is all illusion anyway.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Resume Writing

My daughter is nearing the end of her time in traditional high school. She is so happy and I cannot wait to be out of that system! I'm excited to be teaching her myself, finally.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to write and work a lot. I've also been helping a friend revise her resume. She only had a very cursory one, and she's been out of the work force a long while, so I am helping her to polish it up so she shines.

We've been going through list of strong adjectives and action verbs, narrowing in on which skills make her stand out. Doing so, I noted all the verbs that apply to the jobs I do. I thought I'd put the list here, for reference. Someplace where I will be able to find it in the future. It wouldn't hurt to update my own resume as well.

Achieve advise apply assess assist categorize collaborate communicate complete consult correspond create decide define deliver demonstrate design determine develop edit elaborate evaluate explain gather guide help identify  illustrate increase instruct interpret interview lecture log maintain organize plan persuade prepare present print produce promote prove recommend represent research respond review revise search select sell serve simplify solve volunteer write

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Birthday Weekend Party

Monday, January 19, 2015

Seaport Village - Pier Café

Long but fun weekend. Celebration of freedom and social change and  - for us - a day free from school and the liberty to roam a bit. A group on the cusp, not quite adults, but absolutely not children. Very amicable and cooperative as we flow from activity to note-worthy site.

B wants to spend her moments in this cafe writing and soaking in the ambiance. She pulls a notebook from her bag, filled with her novel in progress and a serious writer's notes on an array of colored post-its. I remember those days and in solidarity, I grab some loose papers and a pen. Free flyers in bright canary yellow because I can't find a journal I like well enough to buy and I don't have one with me today. Writing on hand has been on hold for me for a while. The computer is useful but doesn't have the same soul as the motion of the hand across the page.


(Draft Fragment)

40 stories closer to Heaven
Lifted in one group
The floor pressing from our feet
To lift us en masse

Lights scattered from a glowing box of jewels across the land
Reaching even as far as Mexico, across the country...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Poem - California in January Is

California in January is

Filled with sunshine and citrus

As the swirling rush of Christmas melts away

Like the fantastical snow-filled scenes

Of greeting cards and songs

Which whistled at every store and stop


Leaving only grey austerity

A slog into sustenance and labor

From the early morning breaking bleak

Into a day that makes a short circuit of the sky

Edging so slowly from shortest longer


A surreptitious day that begins in chill

But opens into sweeping vistas of stubbled mountain ranges

Expansive views of skies swept clean and clear

Brightening, Warming


Under the hours of circling around the curve

To bloom in mid-day into

 Sun-kissed, citrus-scented joy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Happy New (Work) Year!!

I am having the best day so far.

My girls and husband are finally back in school. I'm sad in that I love them and I adore being with my family. However... it is WONDERFUL to have a full (well, four hours) day all to myself again. For five weeks, my life has been all holidays and shopping and gifts and family and parties and cooking and events. And then cleaning it all up. Then doing more of it for New Year's and my daughter's birthday. And now it is all done.

I am rocking my writing in a café I've hardly been to in years. It's a blast from my past. Like time travel, when I walk through the door, it is as if I have stepped back into my life from three years ago, five years ago, eight years ago. All the memories and the experiences swirl around my head with Cake's lyrics "I want to love you madly." I swear. That song started playing the minute I started typing. I mean, Cake! I was blasting them on the car stereo in 2007; we saw them in concert like in 2008. See, a peek into the past.

Just sitting here working on today's grant (Karl Kirchgessner Foundation - due in two weeks - all under control) reminds me of all the other grants I've written here. The LOIs, the applications. The research. And my other writing life as well. The stories I composed here, the off-the-top of mind poems. My fictional writing life that I don't always get around to living in these days, depending on how many other things are requesting my limited time.

As part of the typical new year's resolve to eat better and be healthier, I treated myself to a walk in the park as well. That was amazing. Sunshine through breeze-tossed treetops. The same dirt paths. The sense of time looping around upon itself to meet me there, and a multiplicity of my selves all walking the same winding path, taking in the same lush views and healing beauty. I did yoga overlooking the orange orchard and felt myself so happy and strong. I cannot believe how well everything in life has turned out compared to ten years ago, eight years ago, four years ago... Well, you get the idea. :)

I am about to slip back into my role as teacher, something I am very excited to pick up again. In addition to my yoga classes, my daughter is about to become my student. It's become clear over the last year that traditional high school is just not working for her. So we are about to skip her ahead into some community college classes and then let her do independent study at home for the rest of her units. My daughters and I get along very well so having one at home with me will be very welcome company for both of us. It will give her some space and flexibility in her schedule to study things that truly interest her and eliminate some of the busy-work assignments that her ADHD makes almost impossible to complete. And I get to have all the fun of teaching her most of the time!  Finally, FINALLY, I can teach her how to write a proper essay!! The instruction she's had so far in her "Honors" English courses has been crap. And they rush so quickly through the literature that they do read there is no time to really digest and savor it. Anything I can do to help make her life better and smoother is my primary objective.

But, also, I will not at all mind giving up the hassles of the morning drop-off. Waking her up takes so much effort and getting her somewhere on time in the morning hours is almost impossible. With that off my plate, I will literally gain two hours each morning that I can focus on writing. I already spend four or five more hours each day helping her with homework after school. So I think doing all of the instruction ourselves at home will actually be a time-saver! Crazy system, huh? It has become clear to me that it really is.

So letting it go will be a wonderful bonus for this new year and a boost to my successful working life as well. :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pausing in the Special Moment of Just This Day

Holy Cow!

What a blur of holiday events and family obligations. December slipped by me with very little work, never mind writing. A good month, but tiring also. But good.

Now, January is here. A new year is begun. I am easing into it, taking my time to dip my toes into the flow of new resolve and establishing goals. Heading back into work.

Here's to celebrations both old and future, and to the enjoyment of this special day as well!