|By the time the third tire blew we were somewhere near Preston and we spun twice across two lanes of traffic. Three of us were in Andy’s Fiat Panda, a two-door hatchback. Andy was driving, J was in the front and I was packed in the back with the stuff of students heading back to college.The first tire blew about an hour into the journey. The car shuddered a little before we realized we had a puncture, and limped off the road into a garage, grateful that help was close. We emptied the suitcases from the trunk and with the help of the mechanic, got out the spare. He levered up the vehicle and swapped the tires, packing the punctured one back into the well where the spare had been.
“You don’t want to drive too far on that,” said the garage attendant in his overalls. “That wheel’s got almost no thread.”
He showed us how we should be able to put a coin in the tire’s rubber indentations. There was nothing there. We were teenagers. Irresponsible. Immortal. My friend didn’t want to fork out a hundred quid for a new tire and we drove out of the garage on the spare. [Read More...]
|When my husband and I exchanged vows, I was smart enough to omit, “I promise to get you a dog.”I am a cat person. I love the moody, genius-friend way they stand in a corner staring at you. They love conditionally, but they give you space. They groom themselves and poop in appropriate places. Dogs, not so much.Kirk has begged for a dog as long as I’ve known him. I always had a great excuse. The kids are still in diapers. We don’t have a fenced yard. I am grieving over the loss of our cats. Last April, I ran out of reasons. With the kids grown up, a new house built, and the cats dead for years, it was doggie-time.We shopped online, and I had many criticisms: too big, too furry, too much butthole showing under the tail. We went to the pound, and I lucked out because my eight-year-old cried at the chaotic barking. At the Milo Foundation, I conceded. Quietly wagging his tail at me, with a “reporting for duty” cock of his head, sat Dusty. At home, my fears were realized. [Read More...]|
|There are signs of new life in the empty nest. For one thing, Ally has blown back in for the summer from a year teaching abroad in Spain. We don’t see much of her, but we can follow the debris trail all around the house to know that she’s alive and well.
The mess is even more apparent on our back deck. Dead grass, strands of shredded bark, an overturned container of old clippings. I can’t blame Ally, since this particular untidiness preceded her arrival. Has it really been so long since I’ve taken a broom to the redwood planks? Perhaps there’s been a localized wind storm. Or the neighbor’s cats, not content to merely pee on the plants and dig in the mulch, are upping their antisocial game. [Read More...]
|Trigger: an act or event that serves as a stimulus and initiates or precipitates a reaction or series of reactions.
My friend, Nancy, warned me about triggers while I was in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico, two weeks ago with my kids, having last been in the tropical location with Verna in 2008 for an amazing vacation as we lounged alongside the crystal clear Sea of Cortes, toured the artist colony in Todos Santos, snorkeled in the Pacific, and cruised on the ocean at sunset.
When Maya, Miguel, and I made it to the resort pool at 6 PM on Friday, June 13, in the unseasonably humid desert air, and I saw the swim-up bar, I remembered how in 2008 Verna enjoyed returning to the resort by late afternoon because the drinks were two-for-one. But I was still in dad zone, just frolicking in the water to stay cooler. [Read More...]
|Writers write. I’ve read that advice many times. Slowly, article by article, course by course I have come to believe. I am a writer. I write.So when I accepted a full-time job I was determined to continue my writing. Grudgingly I admitted that the writing time might be less now that I had an hour commute each way and 40 hours at the office. Intellectually, I knew my brain might be too tired to write at night as I learned a new industry and used my brain in ways I had not for the 14 years I have been a stay-at-home mom. But the train, that was my daily opportunity to write.
Now two months in I see that the idea of writing on the train was a naïve one. Oh I suspected there would not be room to use my laptop. I fantasized about an ipad after a few pay cheques. In my mind the train would be my train. I hadn’t thought through the concept of shared space very well. Somehow I had a vision of myself like Katie Couric whisked to work in the early hours in a limo. Then I began to ride the commuter train. [Read More...]
Back in the Saddle; in front of the keyboard
About eight years ago I joined a community of women writers who were mothers, like me. I had heard some members of the group read their work in San Francisco at an event called Litquake and signed up on the spot. For about three or four years I was an active member, making friends, writing, and sharing my work at our readings, happily bringing food platters to share with our guests. It was a great experience for me, but sadly, for a variety of reasons, it ended.
Without the support of a community, I withdrew from my writing. Here and there I would peck out a letter to the editor or put loads of effort into a lengthy email to a friend. But it just wasn’t the same; I wasn’t doing the sort of substantive writing that I craved in order to express my deepest self. [Read More...]
|“Boo!” my ten-year old screamed as she leaped from behind the concrete staircase. Landing in the middle of the sidewalk, she grinned and spread her arms to block me, my three siblings and our 86-year-old dad from passing.Dad responded to Sadie’s prank like any doting grandfather: “Do that again and I’ll shoot you! I’ve got a gun.” (He didn’t.)
“Jesus, Dad!” I snapped, glaring at him as Sadie cowered behind me.
Grabbing her hand, I marched ahead of my family. When we were out of earshot, I turned to Sadie. “I know you were just trying to be funny,” I whispered. “But Grandpa’s tired and you startled him.”
“He’s a douche bag!” she yelled.
Wrenching her hand from mine, she ran towards the motel where we were staying. We’d arrived in the seaside town of La Jolla–the last place we’d all lived under the same roof–for a reunion that afternoon and had just finished dinner. I was having serious doubts that I could survive the evening, let alone three days of family bonding. Dad complained that the casual Mexican restaurant where we ate was “too fancy”—he preferred Wendy’s. Slipping into oldest-child-control-freak-mode, I bickered with my sister and brothers about plans for the next day. Sadie whined that she wanted to go swimming. And until he lashed out at her for scaring him, Dad pretty much ignored his only grandchild.
His alcoholism and depression drove my parents to divorce when I was in high school. By then, I was as used to his angry outbursts as I was to the beautiful yet melancholy classical music he coaxed from his guitar. After the divorce, Dad quit drinking, moved out of state and had limited contact with his children. [Read More...]
|Meghen Kurtzig, who manages the humble Finances of Write On Mamas, recently took a trip to Japan and sat down to write about her travels. Here’s what she wrote instead.
Thirty-seven-year-old female, presenting with mild cold symptoms and general malaise. Using symptoms as an excuse to put off doing any productive activity. Especially writing.
Twenty-four hour history includes changes in eating habits: increased sugar and carbohydrate intake. Previous coping mechanism of reading proving ineffective. Current coping mechanism is to watch old romantic comedies, including commercials. This last note is particularly concerning. She describes an inability to focus on tasks, activities that involve a computer are particularly challenging. Facebook seems to be an exception. [Read More...]
|I had no idea when we started the Write On Mamas just over two years ago that it would be so much fun, that our members would be so supportive and that we would actually publish a book: Mamas Write. And a good book at that, even if we do say so ourselves. I have learned so much over the last couple of years:
How to start something from nothing, apart from a common passion and purpose.
How the same people tend to do all the work.
How rewarding it is to give, but it can be tiring too.
How to say No sometimes or to ask for help.
How one person’s vision can drive an entire group forward (not mentioning any names, Janine).
How working with a professional editor is a very good thing.
How even though I wrote a shitty first draft, as Anne Lamott would say, it is amazing how much it can be improved with constructive criticism, support and encouragement.
|I thought that overseeing my writing group’s anthology as a self-published book would interfere with my own writing. Instead it made me a stronger writer.
Two years ago I proposed to our group the Write On Mamas that we self-publish an anthology of our essays. To sweeten the deal, I offered to oversee the project from beginning to end.
I didn’t know the project would take two years from the spark of inspiration to the actual printing (we went to print on April 4th). If I had known, I might not have volunteered to lead the editorial team. We spent nearly 18 months wrangling essays from our members and then the three of us—Mary Hill, Joanne Hartman and me—met every Friday at Bittersweet cafe in Oakland, discussing essays and offering suggestions to our writers. Which meant that time that used to be allocated for my own writing was now being used to revise someone else’s. [Read More...]