Every time I walk past this little red wagon, I can’t help but look through the selection of books to see if there’s something I’d like to read. Then I remind myself to drop off a book or two in exchange for the ones I picked out.
Yesterday while my walking buddy found The 36-Hour Day, a guide for caregivers to those with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other related conditions, I picked Lincoln, the screenplay version in a book and I can’t wait to read it!
If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?
There is one other city I seem to talk about as much as New York City, and that’s wherever I happen to be. And at this point on my life, it’s Long Beach, California, a port city just south of Los Angeles. While New York City is buzzling crazy, no matter where you are, where I no longer fit in but doesn’t mean I love it any less, and hella hella expensive – even Brooklyn is the second most expensive Burroughs to live in now as Manhattanites are moving to Brooklyn in droves – there’s Long Beach.
Long Beach is a city of contradictions, where you can be in a ritzy section one minute and walk two blocks up, and there are homeless people muttering in their coffee, the one that they got for free as a refill in their days-old reused cups. It’s a city that has retro row on one end of 4th street and a few blocks away you’ve got LGBT central, with the Silver Fox to the south of Redondo Avenue and Executive Suite to the north.
I really thought Executive Suite was just what it says, a building with suites in them till someone corrected me and said it’s a lesbian bar. That explained the people lining up to get in at night.
It’s taken me a long time to warm up to Long Beach, but as the years go by and I’m still here, walking along its boardwalk and patronizing from every small shop that strikes my fancy – especially bookstores like Apostrophe Books on Main Street and the understatedly hip Viente Y Agua Coffee House with its open mic nights and book filled-up pin-up board – it’s a city that’s been waiting for me all these years. And I’m glad it did.
five years ago today
you passed away
but I still can’t believe
i never got to say good-bye
nor understand why
though memories of you
but i finally did get to pen
those stories in the end
the ones I kept telling you
the ones you never forgot,
of loves and lives overwrought
for never once did
you ever doubt
that i’d finally let the ghosts loose
step away from that noose
that kept me silent
for so long
you knew it all in the end
my dearest, loveliest friend
just where I truly
November has always been about passages for me, life changes and transitions. I always wondered if my own clock was more in tune with the earth than it was with the Gregorian calendar, though now I just realized why I feel such loss around this time of year.
Five years ago, my best friend passed away after a 2 year-long battle with ovarian cancer. Through it all, she never complained. She told me once that she had two choices – complain about the things that weren’t good or be grateful for the ones that were. So she chose the latter, choosing to surround herself with white light no matter the challenge.
Today, while my son was going through his swim therapy, I perused through her old email messages to me, the only things I have to remind me of her kind words no matter the challenges she was faced with at that moment.
She died on 11/6/10 and I remember my last visit to her two weeks earlier when she gave me her massage therapy manual for that’s where we’d met back in 1997 and I’d lost mine a long time long before then.
A week later she called to tell me to keep writing even though I was too ashamed to tell her the truth – that I’d stopped writing 8 years earlier. She also told me to watch my weight and be kind to myself.
And while I haven’t exactly watched my weight that well, I have resumed writing – as you all probably have noticed. And today I ordered two copies of the paperback version of the book I dedicated to her, Finding Sam – a surreal experience that’s more surreal than when I ordered my copy of my second novel, Loving Ashe.
And even though being a writer navigating through the new social media can be scary, I have to remind myself that like Pam, I have two choices. Complain about the things that aren’t exactly going great (it’s all perspective as well) or be grateful for the ones that are – like health, family, and life in general.
What’s the best (or rather, worst) backhanded compliment you’ve ever received? If you can’t think of any — when’s the last time someone paid you a compliment you didn’t actually deserve?
“Don’t be fooled when someone tells you that you’re photogenic,” my mom said. “It means you’re only pretty in pictures. If you were pretty, they’d say you were pretty, not photogenic.”
Peste! I thought then. That’s what most everyone says I am. Photo-genic.
Since then, I’ve never really believed compliments thrown my way. And because of where I’m from, where the stereotype is that of a caring, loving mail-order bride, or a caring, loving caregiver, housekeeper, or nanny, the only reason they’re probably giving me that compliment is because they want something from me. I once worked at a physical therapy office where we treated these big Hollywood legends, and sometimes they’d bring their camera crew in to document their ‘journey’ to healing.
One day, I got called in from another client’s session to do something for Ms. Former Legend. When I walked into the the cramped treatment room, spotlights blinding and all, she cooed, “Oh, you’ve got such great hands!”
“Why, thank you,” I said. I’m a massage therapist, I thought. Of course I’ve got “great” hands.
She asked me to come over and handed me a nail polish bottle. “Can you fix my nail? The paint chipped.”
I looked around me. Fifteen people in the room, and not one of them could fix her damn nail because they weren’t Asian, nor were any of them, apparently, a manicurist.
So, no, I don’t believe compliments at all. But if it’s about my writing, and it moves you (or not), I’ll pay attention. Just don’t say anything about my hands…
Naked, bound, buried
Still etched in his bones