San Diego Momma. A San Diego Mom Blogger.

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I'm a mom, wife, writer and soul searcher who colors life with words.

 

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Word Losing

September 14th, 2013

(A re-post from September 2011)

 

 

I’ve lamented these last several months my lack of coming up with anything to write. And when I do commit to words, my beloveds read wooden and trite, and superficial. Worse yet, I couldn’t figure out the problem, in fact, I obsessed over it, climbed up and down my brain, and continually came up empty-handed. I searched for a thing to say, some topic, some wisdom, some something, until I told a friend two weeks ago that it seems all this social media-izing is scooping me out instead of filling me up. I don’t need to tell you that inspiration is a tricky thing. You must tuck letters, songs, art, visions, inside, not keep giving them out. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, all that…it’s a lot of living outside yourself and that externality not only wears you thin, it empties you. And I’ve been emptied.

 

I used to love to read. How it sustained and inspired me. I would go through several books a week and relish the plot, the story, the taking me away but stocking my mind coffers all at the same time. Then I began to read words online. Not Kindle and its ilk, oh no, I can’t go there yet. Despite my imposed reading fast, I still crave the smell of pages, the must, and dust, and blood, and sweat, and soul juice. But now, I consume stories from blogs, and tweets, broadcasts, status updates, instant messages, direct messages, emails, and on and on and on. I began to learn to talk and think in teensy snippets, compress my words into palatable nuggets, put my brain on warp speed. The world can wait, the world can wait. Those not speaking on online time? They seemed slow and laborious.

 

And so, books did too. So many words! So many hours required! So much inside-myself time at that. I need to be outside with you all, or you’ll forget me. Plus, how does one work her way through pages and pages and pages? My brain is a hamster wheel, a carousel, a microwave oven. I don’t have all minute. Because see, the online world can’t wait, and soon you trick yourself into thinking you must speed the ferris wheel in your head to keep up; you’re only as good as your last online communique. So you pull words out of yourself. Sometimes they’re plucked from your soul, but most often not, and you continue to go, and go, and go. Collapsing in a desert of words that’ve lost their meaning. Pretty soon, you see there are more like you, and you’re engaging in one-dimensional conversations just to see your name pop up in a timeline. There are not enough moments, not enough moments.

 

It’s the books and stories and 3D conversations I miss the most.

 

And slow. And laborious.

 

So what I did is forget my laptop this past weekend. I kept it far away from me, and left my online engagement levels at an all-time low. I made enough moments. I looked at people when they talked. I didn’t want a RT from them either, and thankfully, they wouldn’t know one if it bit them in the ass. My fingers stayed in my lap for the most part, and my carousel brain slowed to a crawl. I took to a book, and the words were so delicious. God, I love words. And there I had it shining in front of my stopped-up brain: I love words. With meaning. With meat. I want them to evoke and pull and move and hurt and blind and sing and bleed and waft and blow through my heart like a tempest.

 

I’ve been spending too much time giving out meaningless words just to give them.

 

Without purpose.

 

I’ve been going too fast.

 

To somewhere completely off the map.

 

 

I see words in those clouds. I tweeted this pic. Contradiction much?

 

All these words without intention or storytelling is breaking my soul a little. Or quite a lot. I’ve moved farther and farther away from who I am and what I am because I think I should be operating online in a certain “see me, I see you!” capacity, that’s quite frankly, blown my bliss. I’ve been angry with you, too. You say you’re a writer, but you want something — fame? recognition? ego-stoking? — and you use words in a way that says you don’t love them. You are simply using them. And I shouldn’t be so mad at you. You can do what you want, just not on my time.

 

Because I need to get back. Remember who I am, and why I’m here, and what I love; and if I’m off the map, it’s because I stepped into the brambles on purpose.

 

For inspiration.

 

For the shoring up.

 

I refuse to be emptied.

 

Or filled with meaninglessness.

 




PROMPTuesday #224: The Years

September 10th, 2013

A therapist gave me the upcoming as an assignment once: write down the major events of each year, including but not limited to memories, impressions, mental photographs, and anything else that defined that year for me. At the time, I was only 30 and so this exercise didn’t take too long because my memory still worked and there weren’t so many years.

 

And then I left the list in my car when I had it serviced and no one at Sheen’s Auto Care ever looked at me the same way again.

 

 

For this PROMPTuesday (I’m coming back! I promise!), I want you to write down your years. Let’s start with age 9 and go to 11. I plan to do this exercise in increments, so subsequent prompts will address each time period intermittently throughout the rest of 2013 (HOLY FLASHING LIFE BEFORE MY EYES).

 

So I’ll start. As you’ll see, I wrote down incomplete sentences and memory flashes. For this, that’s perfectly fine – that’s often how memories appear in our heads.

 

Nine:
Attending fourth grade at Audubon school in Foster City, CA. Drawing a topographic map of San Bernardino, CA. Falling in love with Kenny McMullen. Having a dream about him kissing me as I lay in a wedding dress on a stone altar (perhaps Snow White-inspired). Having a best friend who lived by the school and a park and who had a really quiet house. Losing my three-year-old sister from the house and imagining her chopped up in bits in the fridge. The whole neighborhood looking for her thought I was weird. I was. Having to move to Chicago and really, really hating the idea. Driving to Chicago in my dad’s chocolate brown Cadillac. Getting caught in a blizzard. Going to St. Mary’s halfway through fourth grade and feeling miserable and displaced. Opting out of the mandatory Science Fair while my homeroom teacher took pity on me and passed me into fifth grade with flying colors.

 

10:
Getting into my groove at St. Mary’s. Having Mister Krage for homeroom and Sister Camille for religion. Making friends who would stay with me to this day (at least one). Remember seeing “bras” under the white blouses of our Catholic school uniforms and wondering when I would get one. Making friends with Lori Swisher, Theresa Reiland, and Lauretta Tagli. Thinking maybe Chicago wouldn’t completely suck.

 

11:
Loving Greg Anderson and sitting next to him in language arts. Loving art and music. Finding out Robert Cunningham was “in love” with me and would continue to be so throughout eighth grade. Having Robert Cunningham kiss me on the cheek in Sister Camille’s class and getting in trouble. Having Robert Cunningham leave me some Valentine’s candies on my desk in homeroom with a note telling me the “love big had bitten him.” Remember getting very excitable when I had things to accomplish and remembering that feeling as driving and sustaining me. Became obsessed with getting on the honor roll. Watched Greg Anderson and Tony Peridotti walk around the room during social studies class to see if the teacher would notice. Remember learning how to spell Czechoslovakia and how to write checks.

 

Now you! Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments. This little exercise could spark story ideas or post fodder or just make you remember why you are who you are.

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 




The Dope

August 27th, 2013

I wonder a lot about “meant to bes.” Like what if I didn’t move to Los Angeles out of the blue in 1996? Would I have met my husband another way? What if I’d decided to stay at my last job? Would I have started this blog anyway? Was I supposed to get into the blogging space to lead me to where I am now? If I hadn’t, I don’t suppose I’d have the freelance writing jobs I currently enjoy or the social life either.

 

I used to write here often, because it was where I was “meant to be,” I think. And then other responsibilities began to challenge my time and brain, and I gradually began to stop showing up at San Diego Momma so much.

 

But was that meant to be?

 

I can’t imagine ever giving up what I’ve created here or the people I came to know, so the Internet is definitely stuck with me, however, maybe it’s OK to put focus elsewhere for a bit?

 

I do know that I’ve gained a lot over the years, learned a million lessons about people and character and my own self. I’ve gone places in my “skillset” I never thought I could visit.

 

So maybe it’s OK to take some time away.

 

As some of you may know, I’ve been working at a company named Two Funny Brains, and been diligently pumping up the brand there and what we do with my partner and good friend, Jessica Bern.

 

Who I met through blogging and who has encouraged me to go places with my head.

 

Because all this – the move to LA, the job, the leaving the job, the blog – it was meant to be?

 

I hope so.

Here’s my latest thing:

 

 

 

And I’m still coming back here a lot.

 

There’s certain things you can’t let go of, ever.

 




Oh My God. I’m Chillow’s Target Market.

August 15th, 2013

Used to be I skipped right past ads for dentures. Same with Doan’s back pills and the Clapper. Nothing, not anything, appealed to me about these commercials or the old people who appeared in them. I  simply didn’t relate to brittle bones and constant pain upon waking. I could still do back bends and pee directly into a toilet, so obviously – obviously! – I wasn’t in the target demographic for these products.

 

And things proceeded this way for years – me passing happily by any commercial aimed at people over 40 and them silently laughing at my hubris, the way I do at teenagers sunbathing or wearing slutty prom dresses (ONE DAY YOUR SKIN WILL LOOK LIKE A DISEASED LIVER AND YOUR LEGS WILL MELT INTO YOUR FOOT ARCH). (ENJOY THIS FLEETING TIME BUT YOU WON’T BECAUSE THAT’S THE UNIVERSE’S JOKE ON HUMANKIND EVERYWHERE.)

 

But finally, as all those old people product manufacturers surely knew, I got it, because along came the Chillow. The scenes of a perimenopausal woman profusely sweating the last vestiges of youth out every pore pleased me. I watched and smiled in communion. Why, I got hot at night too! Sometimes my entire body outline was sweat etched on the sheets. And God bless the Chillow! It’s a cold pillow. For when you’re hot. Which for me, is as regular as my period used to be.

 

I once was cold. You couldn’t warm me up no matter how hard you tried. There weren’t enough sheep in the world to make sweaters for my body. I’d dread going to work because some middle-aged woman always insisted on cranking up the air conditioner. Even under layers and layers of clothing, I shivered. I’m sure that most days, I was three degrees away from a human cryogenics experiment.

 

Sure I didn’t always dress as warmly as I should, like the one time I wore sockless flats and a coat the thickness of Paris Hilton’s brain in the middle of Milwaukee’s subartic winter. But most of the time, I traveled with portable heaters and an extra bear pelt, just in case. I remember those days fondly.

 

Because now, there’s no cooling me down. I insist on the air conditioner set as low as it can go. I always need a fan blowing in my bedroom. I forgo underwear under skirts because that breeze feels so refreshing. I even sleep naked, which for an OCD clean person who detests the idea of nude body debris soaking into bed linens, is a clear indicator I’ve fallen into middle age and can’t get up.

 

The idea of a cold pillow to lie upon really excited me. I even imagined scenarios where I’d buy 10 and lash them to every part of my body. Maybe I could even fit one in my purse. Or under my bra. The sky really is the limit when you’re in the middle of a hot flash and lost youth rage.

 

It’s hard to think that in 10 years, I’ll be daydreaming about analgesics and Denny’s “Moons Over My Hammy” plate the way I’m now fantasizing about the Chillow.

 

So you got me, mid-40s, you got me. I was a cocky youngster who eschewed any product aimed at the over-30 age group; and now I hate all teenagers and their pre-diseased-liver skin.

 

Cool! Cool! Hear that? It’s the Chillow train, b@tches.

 




PROMPTuesday #223: Prom

July 30th, 2013

When taking the kids to camp this morning, an old Bryan Adams song popped on the radio and BAM! I was gone in my head, motivating Toots to finally ask, “Was this your prom song?” Despite wondering how a nine-year-old could make that immediate assumption (repeated High School Musical viewings?), I had to acknowledge that the visceral connection between music and experience got me again, transporting me to a land far, far away where girls still wore puffy-sleeved relatively non-slutty prom dresses and Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers were still, indeed, “cool.” And so we have today’s creative writing prompt:

 

For this week’s writing exercise, think back to your prom(s) and write your impressions either from your perspective today or how you felt then. Be sure to post a video/track of your “prom theme” for the full sensory memory explosion.

 

Here’s a few starters:

I went to prom with…

I wore…

I didn’t go to prom because…

What I want to tell my daughter about prom…

 

It really helps to listen to your prom song first, trust me:

 

 

Story to follow…

 

Meanwhile, please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 

Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.




California

July 24th, 2013

The long and meandering response to this week’s PROMPTuesday

 

Eight months after I graduated from college, I took a job as a receptionist at a Milwaukee law firm. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but after living with my parents for a brief time in San Diego, I decided to really be a college grad and strike out on my own, no matter how I had to do it.

 

 

So I moved back to my alma mater town and slept on a couch in my friends’ East Side apartment. In the first days, I took my “portfolio” to all the ad agencies in the city and after realizing I was too green and dumb for copywriting right off the bat, I applied anywhere I could to get myself a paycheck, which became Howard Solochek & Weber, a downtown law office where I answered phones. The attorney who hired me told me that they wanted someone to stay awhile and that I shouldn’t take the job if I considered it a stop gap or a transition, so I lied and said I might consider becoming a paralegal if all went well.

 

I took the bus down cold streets to work every day and bought thick veggie sandwiches in the downstairs deli for lunch. I dressed up in black skirts and scarlet blouses and felt like an adult in training. Sometimes after work, I’d go to the Chancery Pub with a new work friend who had big sad eyes and heartbreaking stories. I integrated into the team and made pals, mostly paralegals, who advised me daily to pursue their path if I wanted to move up. I loved the office’s law library and the staff’s sense of purpose, but I hated the job. Despised feeling like my brain was going to rot (“Good morning! Howard Solachek & Weber!” “Good afternoon! Howard Solachek & Weber!”), and that this is what I’d settled on after earning a four-year college degree.

 

But I kept sleeping on my friends’ couch, staying home on Friday nights to watch Twin Peaks, and almost settling into where I found myself that late fall of 1990.

 

Then a few months later, I heard from the publisher of an LA magazine where I’d interned the summer before. The production manager was having a baby and the publisher would like to offer me a job to pick up the slack. I might get to write a few articles, too.

 

I took it.

 

My decision to move to LA necessitated that I quit the law firm less than two months after being hired by a man who told me I could basically never leave, and if I did, I was a liar. So I lied. I told him my mom was sick and I needed to move back to California to take care of her. A particularly horrible lie because my mom HAD been sick the winter before. Sick with breast cancer, and I’d never gone home to be with her.

 

That one still haunts me. Especially after Sad Eyes sent me a card telling me how much she missed me and she hoped my mom would get better soon so I could move back to Milwaukee. Ouch, all these years later… Don’t think the word “karma” didn’t take on significance for me when my mom really DID die six years later.

 

 

Anyway, less than a week after receiving the job offer I was in Los Angeles, rooming with the publisher’s wannabe actress daughter in her parent-provided, red-doored home in Encino. I set myself up in a tiny room with a single bed and stayed there alone every evening, reading “The Fountainhead” or suspended in a state of misery. My roommate was gone all the time, I worked at a job where I had absolutely no idea what the hell I was doing, and the owner’s wife, also the general manager and my current roommate’s German mother, hated my guts because I was passive and 21 and a stand-in for her daughter who she couldn’t yell at because of parental guilt and child manipulation.

 

When in the office, really just a four-bedroom house converted into a work space behind the Woodland Hills post office, I mostly sat in front of an enormous PC writing overwrought articles on karaoke and juke boxes using a prehistoric Word program with blinking cursors that looked like Pong paddles. But at the end of each month – a time period known fondly and panickedly as “deadline,” I joined the other four staffers in getting the “book” out the door. This required taking all written articles, saving them to floppies, and then downloading the copy to a 20-ton typesetting machine where the typesetter (me on many occasions) would make the words fit into columns. Once each article was typeset, the words would be sent to another machine that spit the articles out on long, slick, curling lengths of photo paper which we’d dry over counters and whatever hard and smooth place we could find.

 

This was just the beginning. Those long, flip-ended columns of paper would then come to me (or the pregnant production manager) at the light table where the articles would be X-Acto’ed into individual pieces and painstakingly positioned using adhesive within columns on 8-and-a-half-by-11 boards. After paste-up was done and we had a pile of mechanicals (the magazine’s mocked-up pages), they went  into the garage to be blue-lined (readied for printing).

 

In the midst of this busy period, I took solace in staying late on the typesetting machine or cutting copy into precise pieces, even if I weren’t very good at it, as the owner’s German wife constantly reminded me. If it were more common then to sue for harassment, I’d certainly have a case. Some days, she’d just open her mouth and tears would spring to my eyes. When stressed already, having someone sarcastically yell “HELLO?” in a heavy accent directly in your face, can really put you over the edge. Even better, the German manager’s Jaguar vanity license plates read a shortened version of “Heisse Scheisse,” which translated to “Hot Shit.” So that was especially non-threatening and welcoming.

 

Still, I had nowhere else to go. Most weekends I’d drive to San Diego to hole up with my parents, but during deadline it felt good to be occupied and “doing” something. So I worked overtime and often. Anything was better than returning home to an empty room in a house filled with no one you know not talking to you.

 

At any rate, the whole deadline deal culminated in the entire staff convening on a storage facility space to “put together” the magazine, a place we dubbed the “bindery.”  Each magazine piece (signature) was lined up on a long square table and we’d all walk around the table, take a piece, add other pieces on top of it, and so on and so on until we had the whole interior of the magazine. Then we’d take our stack and add it to the other stacks in front of the glueing and stitching machine, where the magazine would quite literally be “made” into a magazine.

 

Once the books were all stacked, it was time to mail. So we continued to stand around the table – the whole process took days — and stuff envelopes with magazines. Then came postage, then the post office drop-off.

 

Every single month.

 

It was at times back-breaking work, but I learned all aspects of writing for and assembling a magazine, knowledge that empowered me until a scant year or so later when the little Macs made their way into our offices and desktop publishing removed that 20-ton typesetting machine from the office (we continued to put the magazine together and mail it). After several months, I eased into my role (the German woman still hated me and probably still does), made friends, and moved out of the lonely Encino home.

 

 

Best of all, the production manager returned to work after the birth of her daughter, which freed me to focus more on the editorial side, leading to a promotion to “assistant editor.”

 

I see those days through so many lenses. Those early ’90s days represented the first real time I was on my own and away from anything that was familiar. That time felt like a sort of boot camp I dug into and vowed to complete, but I can still cry when I remember the loneliness, imagine my little twin bed, or hear this song.

 

Then I think that my whole me began when I worked at the law firm and decided it wouldn’t be my life. Now, I’d tell the truth and stand up to “Heisse Scheisse” and get my own place, but everything else, I’d keep the same. And when my daughters tell me they want to stay somewhere because it’s familiar or they won’t know anyone anywhere else or that life is hard sometimes, I’ll tell them to go and it is and would you rather a lifetime of comfortable evenness or always becoming?

 

They get to choose.




PROMPTuesday #222: California

July 23rd, 2013

California PROMPT

 

I think it’s only right to resurrect PROMPTuesdays if I’m to go whole hog with this one-post-a-day effort. Plus, I’ve missed making up prompts that only I do or don’t do and is anyone out there anymore?

 

It’s OK. Sometimes it’s good to write in a vacuum.

 

So here’s the original post I wrote about PROMPTuesday, when I launched the idea in 2008:

 

**************

Let Your Imagination Bear Fruit.

 

So I want to be a writer. How about you? Or, maybe you just want to play with words, take pleasure in the creation of something thought-provoking, humorous, insightful?

 

Either way, I’ve decided to do something on San Diego Momma to inspire me, flex my writing muscles and make writing fun again.

 

To that end, what I’m going to do is this:

 

Every Tuesday, I will post a “PROMPTuesday” entry, where I’ll introduce a writing prompt and ask interested promptees to write on it, post it in their blog or if you don’t blog, in the comments section.

 

I’d LOVE to read what you’ve written and as I’m already wowed by most of your blogs/comments, this will do one of two things: cause me to writhe in jealousy or inspire me. (Probably a combination of both.) I will also participate in all prompts and post my entry here.

 

So here are the “rules:”

  • You must write your entry in 10 minutes. This encourages top-of-mind, primal thinking before the ego and judgmental brain kicks in. Just set a timer, make your kid count to 600 slowly, whatever. It’s an honor system. And I trust you.
     
  • Keep to 150 words or less.
     
  • Use Mr. Linky (he’ll be here tomorrow), to post your entry, so everyone can read them. You don’t have to link back to me. I don’t care. Just write, I want you to write. If you don’t have a blog, please post your entry in the comments section.
     
  • A new PROMPTuesday post will appear here every Tuesday morning and writers/just having funners will have until 11:59PM Pacific Standard Time to participate.
     
  • Please have fun. Don’t put pressure on yourself. Together, let’s rediscover the simple joy of the writing process.

  

Prompts will be at my whim. If I say, “egg,” and “horror genre,” you will know what to do. Or not. That’s the beauty.

 

There will be some flash fiction, where you are given 3 minutes to write. Have you done this? It’s amazing what your mind dredges up.

 

Main thesis: I want this to be fun. BUT, I also want it to be fruitful. SO, at the end of three months, I will put those that have been be-prompted the most consistently (3 times and more) into a hat or Tinkerbell box and have Toots or Booger (probably Toots, Booger’s fingers are not to be trusted) and pull a name to receive something totally cool and awesome. And probably writerly. But I promise it won’t be a scary egg.

 

The first PROMPTuesday post will be here at midnight tonight.

**************

So a few amendments: I want the word limit to grow to 500 words if you’re feeling it and allow writing way past the 10 minutes if you like. In short, I plan to post my prompts here each Tuesday and anyone can do it, any time, in however long it takes.

 

We’re just writing, after all.

 

Here’s today’s prompt: California.

 

Maybe you’ve never been, maybe you’ve lived here all your life. What memory/thought/story is evoked by the word?

 

Post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

Or, catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.

 

I’ve got a lot to write about California: the state both birthed and broke me.

 

Like all the best things do.

 

 

 

 




Life As We Knew It

July 22nd, 2013

My end-of-the-world odyssey continues. This past week found me still searching for apocalyptic thrillers, culminating in a read of “Life As We Knew It,” by far, the most mild-mannered “we’re all gonna die” dystopian yet.

 

I suppose it wasn’t dystopian as much as it was “is it the end of the world?” because the main character didn’t know if she’d live through her teen years or not. She continued to live in her home with her mom and siblings while people still did normal things like send their kids to camp and go to the library except they did it knowing an asteroid hit had knocked the moon off its axis and closer to Earth, setting all kinds of disasters in motion, from tsunamis to volcanos.

 

This in-between period of “maybe everything will return to normal” and “this could be the end” meant that people kept going on with the trajectory of their lives hoping for the former, even after grocery stores stopped selling food and electricity went from intermittent to nonexistent.

 

Most of the book unfolded through the protagonist’s diary entries, which chronicled the sudden shift of her life from high school and angsting to homebound and stockpiling food. I see why so much dystopian lit is young adult – it’s because the end of the world takes on a whole new significance if you’re just starting your life. That kind of bittersweet insight adds a plot layer and automatically makes the reader root for the main character. Each threat to the safety of the hero or heroine hits harder and deeper because they HAVE TO MAKE IT and get to college, find a life partner, and then wonder what it’s all for like the rest of us.

 

I liked that “Life As We Knew It” didn’t focus as much on the outside violence, which was mild and rare, but rather on the inside of the characters and the choices they make in the face of the giant moon staring Earth down its lifeline. One character, for instance, decides to stop eating altogether, while the reverend of a local church almost gains weight from the food his starving congregation gives him.

 

If you’re temporarily over roving bands of insurgents zombifying, this is a good book to cleanse your palate.

 

[Still trying to write a post a day, and publishing even if they my mind tells me it blows.]