Ally McBeal

I just put it on Netflix and the first scene is little Ally smelling her childhood sweetheart’s butt to see if she loves him(like dogs do). Hooked.

I have this memory of my Uncle before he died and I’ve just opened a Christmas present from my Mom — the yearly Pajama set– and someone says put them on, which I do, which I always do and my Uncle says “She looks like Ally McBeal,” and his boyfriend’s there and he agrees and I feel really proud and happy for a moment that I look like a celebrity. Funny how those things stick.

OH, but there’s some serious cheesiness in this show. Like the slow motion flash back scenes. I feel embarrassed watching them.



Driving west towards Los Angeles on a city street I am marveling at the wind.  The Santa Ana’s have returned like an abandoned lover – shedding pine tree’s of their summer dressings.  From a stoplight I watch a man gather the remnants of a tattered tree and shove them into a graffitied dumpster.  My eyes sting.  Sting from my bedroom window that stayed open and allowed the dirt to fly in during the night.  Sting from the short walk between my front door and the car. 

For no reason, none at all, I think of my grandmother Irene.  She is dead, which still upsets me to say.  And though I think of her often, when I place her bracelet on my wrist (gold leaves and citron beads), or hold the back of the chair she gave me (60’s paten-leather mustered treasure), I rarely stop and allow myself to miss her.  There are just so many people to miss and to let one linger seems too dangerous a decision. 

 But in the safety of my car, with the wind screaming on the outside, I allow myself a few moments with Irene.  Here is what I think on.  Her red lipstick.  Her hands – how they were always cold, how her fingers were perpetually bent from arthritis and how her nails were at all times manicured. I picture a cardigan – a cream colored one, soft like cashmere, though I doubt it was.  A smell settles into the car, a mixture of flowers, a night cream, the absence of fresh air.

She would hate this weather.  She would request more blankets.  And then more blankets.  She would tell me, though I checked already, that somewhere, in some room, a window was left open.  I can see every window in her tiny apartment even now and they are closed.  I see the glass door that leads to the balcony.  The humming birds that gather to sip from her red feeder.  The photos on her wall – my brothers and I framed in ovals.  I have on a red sweater, a ponytail sprouts from the side of my head.  There is her bed, the one from the hospital.  There is her couch, brown and covered in doilies and towels.  And there her table, stacked with mail and pill boxes. 

And now it is all empty.  No worse, now it is filled with another’s treasures.  A stranger.  A stranger occupies that space of ours where I spent disorientingly hot summers cocooned under afghans she layered over me in the night. 

A broken tree skips in front of me, the wind chasing desperately after it.  My thoughts jump and stop like a needle on a record coming to an end of a long song.  I am sweating and crack the window.  Again, I am with the wind, with the bare-armed helpless strangers and the streets of my city.

Pam’s Epitaph

Today Pam said, and I quote: “I don’t like liking people that arn’t good people.” 

I decided to use this quote as Pam’s epitaph when she is no longer little and kicking.

Pam- She didn’t like liking people that weren’t good people. 

Speaking of dying, the other day my mother and I were in my favorite thrift store – Thrift Town- in the Bay Area.  It’s the one I’ve been going to since I was a teenager and I told her that Thrift Town feels really homey to me.  She agreed.  Then I told her that I wanted my ashes poured out on the floors of Thrift Town. 

Too morbid?  I’m sorry.  Back to Pam dying….


I’m headed to Tahoe for the Fourth of July.  I spent a big portion of my childhood living in Tahoe – my happiest memories are there.  My father was born and raised at the lake and my mother spent time working as a waitress, serving drinks to BB King.  My grandfather is buried there, my uncle too.  And as much as we can, we yearly try and go to Tahoe for the Fourth.  There’s really nothing like seeing the neon explosions over the lake.  It’s awe inspiring.   I’m posting BIG pictures for this one. 





Just kidding, Mimi’s not coming!  She hates the Fourth.

Three Generations

In the earliest memory I have of my grandmother she stands outside our car waving goodbye to me.  We’ve brought her in our station wagon to the train station.  I am slumped in the backseat and hysterical to be leaving her behind.  My mother comforts me through the rear-view mirror as she turns the steering wheel causing the car to leave. 

Earlier this week my grandmother was put on life support for pneumonia.  When I found out I spent the evening looking for just the right Willie Nelson song to put on.  Irene, that’s her name, loves Willie like my mom loves Van Morrison and I love Ray Lamontagne.  We have a bit of a private romance going on with our musician’s music.  I couldn’t find just the right song.  You were always on my mindjust seemed too sad.  Instead I put on a bluesy rendition of Woodie Guthrie’s Irene Goodnight.   It needed a glass of wine. Then I put on Johnny Cash’s version.  I never discussed with my grandmother how she felt having Johnny Cash sing her name.  Pretty darn good, I bet. 

Today she managed to breath on her own.  I actually heard her voice through the phone – cracky and tired.  It was a good sound.  I was just thinking of her and had put on a Bob Dylan song when my mother called.  “I was just playing you a song,” I told my mother.  “Would you like to talk to grandma?” she asked. 

Best sound of the day: Three generations of women talking on one line. 

For you mom, with love: