Sorting my life from 1988-2004

my-life-from-1983-2004-unorganized-in-a-tote

This morning I pulled out my old plastic bin of journals from our shed in the backyard. I’m beginning the daunting task of sorting them with the intention to write about the epic trip we took across the country in the summer of 1988. That trip. It almost needs no other title. It was the trip from hell but for me as a very young and naive sixteen-year-old with no expectations and only a sense of adventure, I don’t look at that trip with bad memories at all. It was an adventure of a lifetime. It was a coming-of-age story. I took it all in with wide open fearful eyes and it formed me to be who I am today.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to ever really truly capture what it was for me. Unfortunately, my memories of the important details are hazy and only the spikes of drama really come into clear crisp view and those stories I can’t always tell because I need to protect my loved ones who are involved. I can’t share their stories for them and I probably don’t even remember them properly if I could. I just remember what I remember. My memory is not like a movie. It’s like a collection of pictures and feelings and glimpses. It’s a mess.

Later in my twenties I interviewed a poet once when I was working as a student writer for the Alumni Association Newsletter at Cal State Hayward. Quick tangent: What a funny job that was. It was work/study but I think it was pretty much a charity job—meaning I was desperately poor and the school figured out a way to help me. Anyway, I hated interviewing people (I was a painfully shy introvert) and I was the worst when I had no deadline. I’d sit at my old clunker of a computer (green letters on a black screen, typing in word perfect) and bang out an article maybe once a month. They pretty much paid me to sit on my butt, answer phones and occasionally file things.

Anyway I interviewed a retired professor who had published a book of poems. That’s mostly what I did, I wrote feature puff pieces on interesting alumni. He was from the Philippines and I remember he had a thick accent. He said to me, “When you write, you don’t have to start at the beginning and go to the end in order. Think of writing as if you were hanging up pieces of scenery on a clothes line. You describe something you remember and hang it up. Then move onto the next memory and hang that one up. Then when you have a bunch of memories you can move those pieces of paper around until it makes a story.”

What great advice that was. So that is what I’m going to do. I’m going to hang up pieces of this trip and not worry too much about the order they are in. I’ll sort that later. The important thing is writing.

Been Busy

mom-visits

Where have I been? Well, I’ve been a little busy lately and I got out of my newly found habit of blogging in the morning. I’ll blame it on my mom. But it’s a good thing. My mom came to visit me for a week (while my dad drove a friend’s van from Portland Oregon to Austin Texas) and she actually gets up earlier than my kids so it was kind of nice to have some morning company for a change. But that also kept me away from my computer. So if you were wondering where I was, I was sitting at my kitchen table drinking coffee and chatting with my mom. It was super nice to have her around.

In my old age I have come to love cooking. I know those who are older than me are laughing and shaking their heads. Shake away, I’m right behind you. This is really great except it has been a source of frustration for me when my kids turn their noses up at my newfound love of cooking. I mistakenly think to myself that if I put love into my cooking, they should reciprocate that love with compliments and requests for more of my loving cooking. Harumph! It’s not going that way at all. Not that it won’t someday, but presently they are not interested. In fact, they would much rather not eat my cooking at all in favor of a bag of chips with a side of YouTube. They ask me what’s for dinner and then decide if they are hungry or not. You probably know how that goes.

You can imagine how wonderful it felt to hear compliment after compliment from my loving mom when I made her special dishes that stayed within the boundaries of her new healthy living die-t (that we have corroborated on together). I am super thankful for my relationship with my parents right now. I think this is the natural way of things. When your kids start to pull away from you to become their own strong individuals, you find comfort in your parents. At least that is how it is working out for me. My relationship with my parents is better than it has ever been.

I know I’m lucky. My parents had me when they were barely twenty so we don’t have that many years between us in age. Bug will not be so lucky. When she is my age, I will be (hang on, let me grab a calculator) eighty-three. EIGHTY THREE! I only plan to live until 82 so that’s kind of grim. Of course I could live until I’m 120 so who knows.  Anyway, I’m super thankful for my parents right now.

my-nature-trail

My mom left Saturday and now I am back to my usual routine. She did leave behind a photo album from that trip we took when I was sixteen across country in the broken-down RV so I am looking forward to blogging about that. It will be challenging though. I might have to fill in some gaps in my memory with a little fiction, and maybe embellish a little to protect the identity of my loved ones.

This morning I walked the nature trail with the dogs and I made you a little video. I had a rough anxiety-filled night (it was so stupid, I was stressing about the strangest things. I’ll elaborate later.) and I’ve been trying to start my mornings with positive thoughts instead of long lists of things I need to do. Most days I am not successful at this new morning mantra, including this morning. There I was thinking about all the things that are bothering me and all of a sudden my nostrils were hit with the super strong scent of honeysuckle! I didn’t take a picture. I should have but I was busy with dogs and dog poop bags and just not ready. But my point is from that moment on I took myself out of my anxiety filled brain and I started to notice how pretty it was outside!

It was really pretty this morning. Summer is definitely in full swing. The brush in the nature trail is dry and brittle. All the creeks (except that one really swampy one) are dried up. The mustard and queen Anne’s lace are dead. Their white branches look like tiny birch forests for squirrels and quail and speaking of quail, they are everywhere! I saw dozens and dozens of quail. If you have a keen eye, you might even see some in my movie but they are tiny specs.

My to-do list is still flapping away like a rolodex connected to a fan but I’m ignoring it in favor of checking in with you and sharing all the beauty around me. I love where we live. I love California. I know we have a bad reputation for traffic and politics but in the nooks and crannies are the prettiest things and of course everyone knows we have the best weather. So I’m trying to dwell on these things instead of worry.

prickly-pear

So pretty, right? I’ve been watercoloring a lot more lately too. The hardest part is getting myself to sit down *and slow down* in order to paint but once I do I am very happy.

A friend sent me some pink lemons and avocados and of course those lemons were screaming at me to paint them.

painting-pink-lemons

To the untrained eye, the painting looks pretty good. Don’t look too close, it’s very messy. But just like everything in life we can’t obsess over little mistakes. Just blur your eyes and soak in the pretty parts. That’s my mantra these days.