Dear Mother Nature,

As you know, over the years you and I have enjoyed an especially close relationship. You bring me the sun and the ocean and endless blue skies. You are in charge of all that is outdoors that I love and enjoy.

And you do a fine job of it, don’t get me wrong.

Being a woman as you are, we all know that we ladies can be prone to *moods*, and that is to be expected. Fickle moods. Cranky moods. Just…moods.

Over the years I’ve forgiven a lot of your more extreme bouts of moodiness.

Remember the time I had to dive into a wet alfalfa field because you struck the telephone pole I was walking past with a big blast of lightening?

Yeah. I forgave.

Remember I cried my eyes out in the winter of 1997 (that so called El Niño winter) because I thought it would never stop raining?

Remember that time I drove to Silver City, New Mexico on the hottest day of the year? My car was overheating, so I had to turn on the heater to help keep it cool enough to finish the trip, and when I arrived, I realized I’d sweated through all of my clothing?

That wasn’t fun.

But I’ve been able to let by gones be by gones.

You are entitled to be a little whimsical now and again. Heck, enjoy yourself!

But this year…well, I think it’s time we have a serious talk.

You *might* need to seek professional help for this schizophrenic behavior you are exhibiting.

It’s sunny, it’s rainy, it’s too hot, then it’s too cold.

You can’t seem to make up your mind, alternating between sunny and rainy on a given day!

Ma’am, today is the frapping twenty seventh day of May.

May. You remember? Spring?

When the birds sing and the sun shines and a (straight) young man’s fancy turns towards young ladies in short skirts?

No one wears short skirts in the drenching rain!

Um. Look. I just did my toes and they are a fabulous shade of melon pink. I want to show them off.

When it’s fiercely raining and yes, HAILING outside, I can’t show of my fabulously painted toes because they are covered by my wellies.

Ok, look. I understand that living in Northern California means ya gotta accept the rain. I get that. But c’mon! Can’t you give a desert born and raised girl a break?

And let’s talk about my friends in places like Utah and Colorado who are getting SNOW?

Look sister, you need to get a hold of yourself!

Might I remind you that this weekend is Memorial Day? Hot dogs and cookouts and the beginning of summer fun?

So why *exactly* is there rain and snow in the forecast?

You know, they make meds that can help this condition.

Why don’t I make you an appointment? Maybe some talk therapy will help you work out your issues.

I’m here to support you. Just so you know…I’m a much more supportive friend in the sunshine.

I’m just saying.

(bonus points if you remember the tagline from this commercial)

Show and Tell Time

Since yesterday was a whirlwind of deadlines and today is a whirlwind of meetings, I thought for the blog today I’d share a bit of what I was working on yesterday.

The deadline was for the Arthouse Co-Op, located in Brooklyn.

I participated in a project they have going called The Fiction Project.

They sent me an 80 page Molskine notebook and challenged me to fill up the pages with stories. My topic for the stories was, “And suddenly…”

Whoo. And I thought this was going to be *so* easy to do. I love to write short stories and flash fiction. What a snap!

Silly me.

It was a fun challenge. Writing the stories wasn’t even the hard part, though it was hard enough. The rough part was in actually putting all the stories into the book in some coherent form. It’s harder than you’d think.

I thought I was done and had a full book of stories, but when I glued it all into a first draft piece, I still had four pages left to fill.

I suppose I could have left those four pages blank, but that seemed like cheating.

So I sat down to dash off something quick.

Dash off something quick. Har, har. Of course, that’s when writer’s block set in.

Anyhow, it took a while, but when I did finally write, what is below what came through.

It’s in need of more editing, but as I ran out of time, I had to just run with it. This is what covered the last four pages of my Moleskine book. For your perusal.

It’s called “And Suddenly…It’s Over”


I look at my oldest, most reliable friend and plead silently, “speak to me!”

The blinking eye of the cursor just beats a perfect metronome rhythm back at me, waiting. The whole empty white page, devoid of the text I yearn for so much, mocks me openly.

I love the words, the black squiggles and marks on the page. Words that express how I feel, how I want to feel, how I ought to feel. But the words don’t flow so easily from my veins.

I plead with the empty page to fill up quick, but it never helps. So I take another course and appeal directly to The Muse. She is recalcitrant and obstinate, but I goad her along.

She wakes from her satin sheets, stretches her pale, lovely long arms, and rises.

“Oh, all right,” she concedes after I’ve wooed her with mimosas and caviar.

And so we sit down to write.

I step back, ceding control of my body, my thoughts, and my mind to The Muse. I let her dance. I let her sing. I let her weep if that’s where she wants to go.

I am at her service, totally, completely.

We write tales of the life cycles of the human, of cranky old men with faithful dogs riding in rusted old pickup trucks. We write of lost girls with music in their head and small town girls finding their way in the big city. (editors note, these were the topics of the other stories that filled the book)

Sometimes we write of horses and cows, other times about diamonds and millionaires. We write of everything and nothing. All of it and more.

Today, however, this day when there is nothing I want to do more than write, I can’t manage to coax her to give more than a single paragraph.

This is the worst. We begin the takeoff sequence, the words start to form, but I can’t get wind under my wings. Soon we stutter and the engine fails. We write, but then we don’t get very far before we don’t write anymore.

The cursor blinks. Waiting.

I sit, begging, pleading with her. I try to do it on my own, force the words to come through, but each letter oozes painfully out of me like blood from a fresh, deep wound. It’s not natural like when she does it.

I used to think this was a terminal condition, this writer’s block, and would last forever. Over the years I’ve come to know that the diva inside of me, she of all the ideas and brilliant turns of phrase, will always come back. No matter how firmly she leaves or how far she goes, one day, I know she will return.

And she does.

She’ll always find a way to embody my fingers and my soul because she just can’t resist. The pull toward the joy we feel in those moments when the words flow free is too great. It’s like an addiction, stronger than any drug or drink.

We write because we must write.

And so today, I wait her out. The first paragraph is written and I wait, blinking in time with the cursor.

If I don’t squeeze too hard, if I don’t press her, it will happen.

Magically, it will happen.

So I avert my eyes and pretend it doesn’t matter. I fix a cup of coffee and I read the news and I say in a sighing way, “oh, I guess we’re not going to write today.”

And finally, when I’ve got her fully convinced that it just doesn’t matter, The Muse shows up with a “who me?” look on her face and suddenly has the will to write.

So we take another go at that runway. Faster this time, we let the words start to flow free. Soon, with enough speed and plenty of ideas to fuel our ascent, we break away from the land below and we begin to rise.

The adjectives and adverbs and participles flow smoothly over the wingtips and we soar, together, my fingers are her engine while The Muse is pulling all the levers.

It’s magnificent. Suddenly, we kill off the main character and bank hard to the left. Oh this is a great run. Then a plot twist, some suspense, upward we climb, faster, faster.

And finally, when it feels like my fingers might snap off from the speed and the altitude, the climax of the story arrives and we climb to impossible heights and finally crest that hill.

Once over the apex we begin coasting down the story arc of the glorious dénouement.

Then, the story draws to a close. The engines slow, the fingers wind down, and we touch gently back to down earth, weary but fulfilled.

Flaps come up, we coast to a stop and ease our rig back into the slip.

And suddenly…it’s over.

It is then, with much melancholy, together we type the words…

The End

Things you learn about yourself when you travel

So, this past weekend, The Good Man and I made a whirlwind trip to Southern New Mexico to celebrate my best friend’s 40th birthday.

There was bbq brisket and tender ribs and homemade ice cream with homemade german chocolate cake on the menu.

Of *course* I was going to be there.

It’s not a bad trip from San Francisco to Las Cruces, but it does take a skosh of effort sometimes.

So while riding planes, trains and automobiles, I learned a few things about myself.

Here’s some of the top thoughts while on the journey:

The speed of the girl, while in motion, is variable depending on geography.

New Mexico, the land of mañana, moves very, very slowly. San Francisco, on the other hand, moves very, very quickly.

I do ok going from the super fast pace to the nice slow moving pace.

I have one hell of a time coming back from slow motion into 90 miles per hour.

In fact, I think I stripped a gear.

The sort of person you are becomes self evident after sitting for an hour on the tarmac.

San Francisco was having bad weather yesterday, so our connecting flight was delayed by a couple hours. Then they said, “hurry up and let’s get loaded” so we complied. The plane backed from the gate, rolled toward the runway, and stopped.

And there we sat.

And sat.

They were having a hard time getting a window for take off. They said we could go at any minute. So we all had to stay seated and buckled in.

As we waited.

You really get a sense of a person under these sorts of circumstances.

The lady behind me started making ever more angry calls to her husband. The people in front of us who started out as strangers quickly became friends, trading stories about delayed flights in their collective past.

A lady across the aisle angrily flipped pages in her magazine and sighed. Loud, frustrated sighs.

Me, I read. I had a really good book, so that helped. But after a while, I was getting grumpy and frustrated too. So then I put down my book and started fidgeting. And then it seemed a good idea to start annoying The Good Man because isn’t that what husbands are for?

I guess I’m the sort of person that can be patient…but only for a little while.

Southwest Airlines open seating policy makes people rather aggressive.

Seriously. It’s a seat. It’s not a gold medal event. Find a seat. Sit in a seat. If you have to sit in a middle seat, it doesn’t mean you lost the contest. It just means you have to sit in a middle seat for a few hours. Get over it.

Airports will go to great lengths to get you to buy their overpriced food.

I’m almost positive Auntie Anne’s pretzel place was piping hot cinnamon sugar odor into the terminal. Gooey tasty cinnamon suguar. It was damn near irresistible.

I saw another guy with three Popeye’s boxed meals walking by. He was by himself…

And then there’s Starbucks. Evil place. They suck you in.

I *might* have to succumbed to some of these delights, but the food in the airport is NEVER as good as it is at a real stand alone shop.

But they manage to sucker in almost every weary traveler, prisoners of TSA policies, too weak and famished to resist paying seven dollars for a soggy hamburger.

It ain’t right.

Millions of years from now, archeologists will describe us as a quaint nomadic tribe so attached to our possessions that we dragged them around with us in small wheeled wagons called “samsonites”.

Honestly. Have you ever seen people so damn attached to their suitcase full of crap?

Ok. Well. I am way guilty on this one.

But at least I’m willing to check my rolley bag and not have to clutch it to my chest, and cram, shove and heave-ho it into the overhead compartment.

Ah well, as the old saying goes, all’s well that ends well. It was a fantastic trip to New Mexico, much green chile was consumed. Many wild college era stories were told and fun was had.

Now back to our regularly scheduled insanity….

Karenfucius say:

The later you are for an appointment, the closer the needle on your gas gauge is to “E”.

The more important the meeting, the darker the clothing you will wear.

The later you are for the meeting, the higher likelihood that you forgot to buy sticky roller.

The bigger the emergency, the fewer bars of coverage you will have.

The bigger the emergency, the fewer bars of battery charge you will have.

When waiting for a vital call, the phone will ring the moment you go to the toilet.

When sleeping, ten inch tall, eleven-pound cat become queen size.

The more valuable the item, the more likely the cat will knock it off the shelf.

After rainy winter, the more sun you have, the more “waaaachooo!” you have.

The more “waaaachooo!” you have, the less Claritin you have.

The more you want to diet, the more your coworkers bring in donuts.

The more rabid you are about your Southwest boarding pass, the more likely it is you’ll receive “C”.

The more you want to carry on, the less likely it is that any of your toiletries are less than three ounces.

When flying, long legged girl going to Bend.

Things They Didn’t Teach Me

I’ve been a proud holder of a driver’s license for, oh say, about twenty-five years.

I first learned to drive our automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 1972 Chevy Blazer on the hard packed dirt roads around Logan, New Mexico. Population 1,002.

Those roads were wide, empty of other cars, and easy to navigate.

Ya wanna park? Sure. Pull up somewhere near the house. That’ll work.

Then I got a more formal education from the ubiquitous McGinnis School of Driving. Don’t know if it is still the same now, but back then, every high school kid in Albuquerque learned to drive from McGinnis.

We got the usual lessons. Hands and 10 and 2. Back up in a straight line. Parallel park between the orange cones.

That parallel parking one…I didn’t need that much in Albuquerque.

I needed it A LOT more once I moved to the Bay Area.

Parallel parking in San Francisco is like a sport. People will actually spectate the event. Comment on your technique. And point and laugh as you make six runs at that freaking small spot that you’ve just spent over an hour searching for.

These are things that Mr. McGinnis didn’t teach.

That “spent an hour looking for a spot” is what got me thinking. Last night, The Good Man and I had an event up in the great City of San Francisco. It was to be held in the part of the City they call the Marina.

Now…we were feeling pretty good about our odds of parking (another thing McGinnis didn’t teach, thinking ahead to where you’ll park) because where we were headed has a pretty ample parking area. It’s a big wide street with a line of parking spaces down the middle (Fillmore, for my SF readers). Plus, it was a Tuesday night.

Lots of spaces and a weeknight? High potential! Score!


Luck was not on our side. An accident on 280 and backed up traffic for a hometown baseball game left us running late as it was. And when we got to the Marina…there wasn’t a spot to be had.

So we did what we had to do. We began the slow circle around and around and around. Trolling for a spot.

McGinnis didn’t teach me that.

Then the consideration of an ever so slightly empty spot at the curb. Can I fit my car in that? What are the odds the people living there will call the cops because my bumper is hanging in their driveway? Am I leaking over into the red zone? What are the odds I’ll get a ticket?

Mr. McGinnis also did not teach me that.

And then, while panic growing and growing as we are now a half hour late for our event, the sheer ecstasy of actually FINALLY finding a spot. A big spot! A good spot! A spot we didn’t even have to fend off other drivers to get into!

Yes! Sweet mystery of life at last I’ve found you!

Oh the relief. The weeping. The joy.

McGinnis School of Driving definitely did *not* teach me that.

I had to learn that all on my own.

I’m pretty lucky these days because The Good Man, a longtime San Francisco dweller by way of a Brooklyn upbringing isn’t a’feared of these sorts of things. He’ll plunge into the wackiest of driving, parking and navigating situations with ease and aplomb. Most of the time, like last night, he’s got the wheel and I don’t have to worry about it.

Because me, I learned to drive on empty dirt roads.

What the hell are all these cars doing around here!?!?!

(Don’t think I haven’t TOTALLY whipped in front of a Trolley Car to get to a good parking spot. Because I have.)