28 random questions

Thanks AwakenWithJP.

(I have a mental disorder, too!)

  1. Define yourself in five adjectives: clumsy, obsessive, kind, sensitive, funny.
  2. Define what you do in two sentences: I tell stories. I support people.
  3. What were the key moments of your career path: What career? I kid. After being told by a Red Cross Public Affairs Director (Penny) that I would never get hired again in this town, the Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii Public Relations Director Mary Jane Van Buren took a chance and did hire me as the “Voice of Business” member newsletter editor right out of college. (The Red Cross PA Director was pissed that I had the audacity to look for a full-time job instead of settling for her part-time intern/ego stroker slave gig.) I never missed a deadline, an accomplishment I would uphold throughout my journalism career. Later, I found myself in between jobs and as a first-time mom. I spent a lot of time on a soap opera website. After a particularly nasty online blow-up, I reached out to the website owner to see if he was doing okay. He asked if I’d like to cover soaps for his website, Port Charles Online (now Soap Zone). I became one of the most popular online soap opera columnists; actually, one of the first. At one point, everyone on ABC Daytime was regularly reading my weekly columns, and I was drawing numbers upwards of thousands, if not a million. I quit a few years ago after getting disenchanted by the stans, trolls, and idiots.
  4. Why did you decide to do what you do? If you mean writing, I fell into it after realizing I wasn’t really good at anything else and needed to declare some major in high school for college. I remembered getting As in my 7th grade English Honors class and finding the writing process super-easy. I didn’t think I had the wherewithal to pursue a novel. Plus, novelists don’t make a lot of money unless they become a one-in-a-million Stephen King. So, I went with journalism, because, at the time — 1970s-’80s — journalism was still a viable, steady career. Once I got in, I further realized I was damned good at it.
  5. Home is… my family. Right now, we’re stuck in the Northwest. But we’d like to retire, maybe Arizona, definitely RVing.
  6. Last play you saw: I used to see more plays when I was younger. Movies too. But it was a few months ago in the Central District off downtown Seattle, to see Felicia Loud (Black Stax) perform her one-woman show, “Say It Loud.”
  7. What would I do if I were mayor for a day? Two things: 1. Push legislation to make start times for all public schools the same, LATER IN THE DAY. 2. Enforce a moratorium on mindless new developments on an already shaky infrastructure.
  8. Biggest extravagance: Pathetic, but every Friday I’ve learned that a Costco near me sells Ahi Wasabi Poke. That and bouquets of peonies. I’m low-maintenance.
  9. Who’s your hero? It used to be Bruce Lee. Still is. But also, my husband. As much as he drives me insane, he is the bravest person I know. With all he has to go through and continues to go through, he still plugs away with a smile on his face. He never whines, like I would.
  10. Best advice you’ve been given: Recently, a Nashville musician friend told me that I don’t have to explain myself to anyone if I don’t want to. This happened after a publicist bitched me out for not accepting any more of his artists’ recordings (after I’d already told him politely that I was cutting back and didn’t want any more of his artists’ recordings). I didn’t want to get into an argument, or be perceived as a bitch. Worst of all, I didn’t want this person holding a grudge match that would degenerate into death threats. You know, catastrophizing shit that hasn’t even happened yet. My friend said I didn’t need to reply, that it was them not me. The way he said it just really sank in. I’ve been trying to be more chill like him ever since.
  11. Building you’d like to be locked in overnight: A bakery, like Dahlia’s or Macrina.
  12. What do you collect? Stories, yarn, rocks, Coca-Cola bottles, pictures.
  13. If you could be any age for a week, what age would that be? 16 but without the high school bullshit, for obvious reasons.
  14. What talent do you yearn for? I always wished I could sing.
  15. What is your greatest fear? Dying without knowing my purpose. Same as you.
  16. When did you last lie and why? Last month, when I told my ex-best friend I was over our break-up. I lied to put her and her family at ease during an event where I was asked to take their photo. I didn’t want it to be unpleasant, so I pretended I was okay about her stabbing me in the back. I will never be okay.
  17. What is true happiness? Being needed. Popcorn on movie night at my local theater. Laughing with old friends. Acting stupid in public and seeing someone else get it. Running in the middle of the night with nothing but a canvas of stars above me.
  18. What is the meaning of life? 42=Love
  19. What book do you recommend most to others? I don’t. But if I could, Stephen King’s “The Shining,” “The Stand,” and the latest one I finished, Bryan Cranston’s “A Life In Parts.” He really surprised me. Yes, his writing is easy, conversational, real. But he also went beyond the bio structure to reveal someone who does the work for other people in giving them value and insight, especially his brother. I like people like that, people who notice qualities while others, most others coast along oblivious.
  20. Which lesson has been the hardest to learn? I’m still learning how to love myself, accept myself, and see myself for who I really am, not who I want to be or want to be for other people. And, to chill the fuck out more.
  21. Who is your mentor? Everyone I encounter. Currently, I’m attached to YouTube personality, AwakenWithJP. He’s everything I think I really am inside, if I can only get out of my own way: funny, insightful, kind and strong, an introvert in an extrovert world, an amazing accessible enigma.
  22. What is the hardest part of being you? How much I hate myself.
  23. If you could ask someone famous a question, what would it be? I’m not really interested in what famous people think.
  24. In a biographical film of your life, who would you like to play you? Damian Lewis.
  25. What is your favorite childhood memory? Playing jacks with Sheldon after his brother Michael and I got into a nasty racist fight over nothing… Playing hoops with Bobby in his driveway on Juniper St. Spaghetti and meatballs at Pizza King in Wrightstown, N.J. Kentucky family barbecues.
  26. What’s your best achievement? Being a mom to a great kid.
  27. What’s your goal for this year? Be more present, and lose more weight, permanently.
  28. Send me a photo taken by you and tell me its story. 
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He made it! My son James, the baller, after another successful match… What a difference a year makes. 
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Most Inspirational

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A year ago, he felt like his life was over.

Last year, my son tried out for soccer at his high school for the first time. Everything he endured led up to that moment: the many years begging me to sign him up for rec, praying we could afford to send him to an elite club his friends were playing at, the Surf and Rush A rejections.

“Mom, I made JV!”

Proudest day of our lives.

He got to enjoy three games (two of them preseason) before a torn MCL took him out for the rest of the season. For his efforts, he was forced to watch his friends and other players kick ass on the pitch, the Varsity squad all the way to State.

Painful.

This year, I hoped and prayed he could make it through the tryout round. Then, the week or two of daily grueling training. Then, one game, and one more game, please god, one more.

Through luck, I discovered epsom salt baths were good not only for my cold but his post-workouts. I made him take those baths after every practice and every game.

By the third or fourth game, he asked about going to his doctor to check on his swollen right knee. He wore an over-the-counter brace for the rest of the season, just in case. His doctor checked him out and recommended he ice his knee a lot, and not take all of the free kicks (as a defender).

He not only made it through this season intact, but he thrived. He was able to help his JV team in crucial matches. They went undefeated. UNDEFEATED, can you believe it?

His position is usually as a mid. He’s not used to defender. But he took to it well, like he always did, learning more as he went along, becoming confident with every good and bad decision.

In one match, against Lake Stevens, he blamed himself for losing the lead with two minutes left on an own goal. But he worked on the plays and worked with his goalkeeper so that in the very next match, when the same free kick shot up over them, he knew what to do.

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This year, my son played his heart out, grateful for every moment back on the pitch.

 

In a rematch against another very tough team, he came up to defend against a fast-moving forward who had blown past three or four guys for a direct shot on goal. He took a gamble and slid his body at the ball, knocking it and the forward down, effectively forcing the other team to start over.

MI

His team had tied to Mt. Vernon the first time. But the second? They held onto a crucial win, 1-0.

At the end-of-season soccer banquet this past Monday, my son received the “Most Inspirational” award, as voted by his teammates.

He doesn’t think much of the award. He’s a teenaged boy. The award is always in the play for them.

But for me, his mom, the award meant everything.

Desert

I am adrift on another woman’s plane, dropping lines, snippets of brilliant thought. I forget that I am supposed to make you feel good about yourself.

I read the generous post-it notes of men in love, men I admire and wish would ask me to dance, just once. But they are all taken by good women with nice, plump, wide asses and brickstone smiles.

I stare when I should listen. I vomit when I should feel.

I feel… nothing.

How long can I stall the world beyond my front door?

forget me nots

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Photo by Irina on Unsplash

I was here.

On the loading dock with all my sorrow, trophies of non-existence. Maybe if I fake cancer, my father’s third heart attack, someone will mention me in passing on the way to the next YouTube live stream.

I was here.

You all but gave up. A sobbing heap in the darkest corner of your rental. Frogs chirping. A moon glow sings. I sat with you on the toilet, trying to say anything. Lines on an imagined page, with sets and lighting. Where am I now in your dance hall?

I was here.

Your punching bag. Your litany of ills. I bore the full weight in good standing. Took your punishment like a man. You stole from me. But I was the thief, because I looked the part? because you said so? because I needed one good friend? I need, too much.

I was here.

I told your story when nobody else heard a word. I sang your praises. I gave up my life for you, watched on the sidelines as you went from flower to flower, gilding every lily, stacking every note, fucking every girl in sight.

I was here. For you.

I am gone. I am nowhere now. 55 and over.

It’s easy to forget me. Just close your eyes.

girls in cars

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Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

I don’t want your bread
your flat earth
your backhanded bullshit
I’m sorry
you’re wrong

they say dreams are the opposite side of this cul de sac we’re living in
I took the blame in this one, to stay in your light,
hear you laugh one more time in between bites
a ride with uncut fries and ketchup, like a blood oath,
my ass and legs in the air, because you forgot to wait for me

I ate everything in sight: raspberry strawberry cherry (gelato), one black & white cookie
god I loved you so much

please just go back now
to your farm house, your nachos, and your crazy stories

I don’t know why I’m here anymore, pretending
your fall guy to the very end for
just one kind fucking word, best friend

Dream, May 25, 2018

Tolstoy Stages

It’s 4 a.m., and I’m remembering my death.

“The Watcher becomes when watched.”

In the middle of it all, the roar of cannon fodder, I can still smell its residue on my skin blistered from heat and battle. The sound 10,000 hooves make when an army rides beside you, I will hear forever.

What am I doing in the land of the damned, this safe space of pixilated truths and curated melody? Domesticated trash.

At a certain point in time, it is always time to say goodbye, to — as they say in your movies of manufacture — let go.

“He loved you, because you were
You were the only woman in a man’s world.”

Until a man behind prism doors in circular hallways civilized me with the holy book, outlaw poetry, fucking romantic illusions… made me look in the mirror, every last one, hundreds of hundreds of idolatry reflections.

I imagined love then. Grandiose, false love of a man who could never look at me as anything but charity.

My hair, my long, thick, black hair…

Twilight Trees

 

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Photo by Greg Becker on Unsplash

I’m not afraid of looking at you,
twilight trees, sentinels of thunder, keepers of secrets
your eyes are kind, and just as unafraid

I’ve never seen before
the blue and white grid shaped quite like a woman, undressing
undressed, waiting for rapture

A jet and a bald eagle chase after-effects
well beyond my thunderous, secretive trees, I only wish
I could tag along, a feather in their flight

only when I stay,
do you leave

Leftover Soup

soup

I had roasted jalapenos, bell peppers, and chicken broth leftover in the fridge, so I made soup. I put some of the soup in my Vitamix for texture, et voila!

Chopped avocado and Cotija cheese on top for garnish.

As long as you have chicken broth, you can make anything.

1 28-oz. can tomato sauce
1 28-oz. can diced tomato
Chicken Broth
Celery, Broccoli
Costco Roast Chicken
garlic, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, parsley, turmeric

Milkshake

Not just any milkshake, the be-all end-all of milkshakes at this place in the corner of the universe. Always closed before 5 p.m.

I’m at the University of Hawaii, my old stomping grounds, looking for food when I spy this milkshake shack, which also sells trinkets like it was in the middle of Uganda. Whatever, I go, I order one milkshake, chocolate, famous.

I thumb through my husband’s wallet of ones and fives, some packed together in a yellow open envelope — all unrecognizable. “Did the Mandela Effect change the currency while I was gone?” I joke, nervously, picking out another five-dollar-bill to replace the other one that looked like a relic out of the Ming Dynasty.

Somehow, she left the milkshake on the outside counter too long and these idiots on unicycles crashed into the side, sending most of the chocolate-y elixir flying.

I wound up empty-handed and out $5. I don’t know how. Talked myself into believing they were selling these exotic milkshakes for charity.

I did not want to be stuck here surrounded by retro diners. Where is that Chinese place with the dim sum carts?

Dream, May 21, 2018