Saturday, August 27, 2016

8 minute list of happiness

8 minute memoir writing prompt

Little Things:

I'm always saying this and I know it sounds so cliche but it really is the little things that make us happy.  Several years ago I went through a rough patch and it was hard to feel really happy.  I think I did a pretty good job of focusing on the things that would move me forward.  But there were definitely days when I just didn't feel like doing that at all.  And sometimes the smallest things would help pull me out of that.  I began keeping a list of little things that cheered me up on a bad day.  Here's a partial list:

Sea glass I found on a beach

The film Amelie

A poem

Teenager who smiled at me

Fresh cut grass

Fortune cookies

Smell of Coconut

Smell of Cinnamon


A warm breeze


My dogs

Quiet afternoons

French pop music

Swimming pool

Mason jar full of water and ice

campfire sparks

Deep indigo skies before a rain storm

Desert plants

Big white fluffy clouds

bright red lipstick

worn out black converse

Andy Warhol

Documentary about Anna Wintour


Tuna Fish

Diet Coke


Practicing French

Driving with the windows down

Fat Babies

Short Cuts

Mad Men

Charlie Hunnam


Kate McKinnon


That's my 8 minute list.  One thing I learned in keeping track of the little things that made me happy in a given day was that there are so many things that do make me happy.  Even on days when everything is terrible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jade Dragons, Ghosts, Fecund Earth and Mummy Mountain

8 minute memoir writing prompt: Adventures


Let me tell you about a few adventures I have had in my life and they all happened in my Prius.   I love my Prius because when you drive you can't hear anything at all.  I feel very stealthy. 

I drove to San Francisco by myself with two of my kids.  I parallel parked in China Town.  I wandered around City Lights bookstore and then I ran up the street to my car again when the meter threatened, past the ducks hanging in the windows, past the little green jade dragons, and past the smells of gingered food.  I fed my meter and walked back down and looked around that bookstore until I found the perfect book.  We drove up down and all around that town.  I found a parking spot right in front of Ben & Jerry's at the intersection of Haight and Ashbury and I parallel parked there like a champ too.

I drove to Tucson and attended a conference and in my off time I drove around the desert roads and found The Mission San Xavier Del Bac.  I was there all alone.  I hiked up to the little hill and sat on a stone and breathed in a wonderful amount of creosote.  Creosote so delicious is almost smelled the tiniest bit like coconut mixed with creosote.  It was heavenly.  Then I started wondering if that was a ghost.  I really did.  Sometimes I smell weird things that shouldn't be there and think about things like that.

My little Prius carried me and my kids all the way to Idaho on familiar roads and byways.   I rolled down the window when I got into the upper valley and it was almost midnight.  I could smell soil.  Rich, earthy, wet dirt, and it did smell just like home.  The air hung with the scent of well watered fields and dank growth and it felt kind of magical.  Summer nights in Idaho are full of stars you can actually see, earth you can smell, and quiet.

Sometimes when I can't go anywhere far my Prius carries me around the back side of Mummy Mountain.  My daughter and I drive up and down the little drives with the windows rolled down and our favorite Spotify lists on repeat.  We sneak up on Javelinas. We dodge cotton tail bunnies. We wonder how people make their multi-million dollars.  We chose the house we would buy if we had a billionaires budget.  We also choose the smaller houses.  The little haciendas.  The house that was built in the 60s.  The house with the lovely brick and stone paths.  The ones probably no one would pick.   We love it when it starts to Monsoon and you can feel the electricity in the air.  My Prius climbs up the side of Camelback Mountain and we feel like we're on top the world.  Or at least on top of this world.

Monday, August 22, 2016


8 minute writing prompt: Billboards


The Arizona freeways have very few billboards.  I like that. When I travel through Utah I see a lot of billboards for plastic surgery for some reason.  When I travel through Las Vegas I see a lot of women who have already had plastic surgery in very small outfits trying to advertise the casinos and shows.  Women's bodies, when I come to think of it, occupy a lot of space in advertising.

I  have such mixed and complicated feelings about how much space women's bodies should occupy in our collective economy, space, and conversation.  Although I think it has become more complicated to be a male recently, I still think those expectations pale in comparison to being a woman.  Women think about their bodies, food, clothing sizes, desirability, beauty products, and ways they can control all of these things to an astonishing degree.  Wraps, eye creams, Botox, vitamins, vaginoplasty, waxes, steams, tucks, tattoo makeup, and implants.  Weight watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, Diet Center, LA Weightloss, Curves, Modified Starving Fast, and fricking Slim Fast.  Think about all the ways we keep women occupied.  And broke.

I have dieted, lasered, surgically altered, starved, and binged.  I have purchased expensive creams meant to make me immortal.  I bought the spanx, drank the lemon with cayenne, and did more than one water aerobics class into the night.

And you know what? I still occupy way too much space.  And I still don't occupy the right proportion of space to ever be one of the women on the Billboard.

Sometimes I think maybe that's something to be grateful for.

And sometimes I re-read my copy of intuitive eating again and just try to get it right. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Packing Babies Away In Cotton

8 minute writing prompt (in case you missed the prior post I'm doing this thing) ~

I don't remember:

I don't remember every day of each one of my children's childhoods.  I sure wish that I did.  I wish there was a way to lock up every memory of every day.  I would have packed them up in little boxes like the ones from Tiffany's.   I would have packed each of those memories in tight with lots of cotton and tissue so that nothing could escape. I'd have closets full of them.  Just so that I could now unpack them and experience each one of them anytime I liked.  

I wish I could go back for a 24 hour period and revisit my children as babies and toddlers.  I would hold them all day long.  I would smell their sweet little baby heads and I would rock them and snuggle and I wouldn't talk to anyone else all day long except them.  I would stare into their eyes and I would know who they were going to be and it would be so gratifying and perfect.  Because in that moment there would be no worries, and no fears.  I would quit being hard on myself for not being a good enough mom, I would believe that everything I was going to do, even though it would be chock full of mistakes and glaring errors, would still be pretty darn good.  For one perfect 24 hour period everything would be bliss.

I suppose I want to do this because so much of what I remember about their babyhoods and childhoods ends up with me thinking about the low level of insecurity I had at the time about not doing it quite as well as I would like.  I wanted to be the mom who baked cakes from scratch, read to them every day, limited tv (or eliminated it altogether), played at the park, and always answered every question with love and thoughtfulness. 

Instead more than likely I was making frozen chicken nuggets, running out of ketchup again, scrubbing magic marker off the baby's belly, and rushing everyone off on a last minute errand and no one can find shoes because I am not organized enough to always know where the dang shoes are at all times.  Probably they are outside underneath the slowly deteriorating trampoline which some people probably think is dangerous for my children to play on because it doesn't even have proper bumper pads anymore and the springs are looking pretty sketchy. 

But now from my present position, I look back on that momma with a lot of compassion, and in fact, admiration for a job well done.  I wish my memories were more of all the things I might have done right.  But more than anything I would just love to remember every little thing about every day all over again.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

And then I quit writing but I thought maybe I'd fix that now.

So about the time graduate school happened my blog became a sort of thing of the past.  And I very much have missed writing. So I created goals for myself to write more, read more, social media less and a bunch of other ways I'm trying to balance out my life.  Then I happened upon a writing challenge wherein there is a prompt and then you set your timer for 8 minutes and just write.  And so this is my first attempt. 

I remember: 

I remember when I was 17 years old and there was a specific moment in time when while taking a bath in my white porcelain tub and staring down at my thighs and feet popping out of the water.  I remember thinking that this moment was a moment I should remember.  I was on the cusp of graduating and still a kid but almost an adult.  I had spent the majority of my junior and senior year of high school in a kind of funk and depression about life.  I remember thinking for the first time, in a very long time, that maybe I could get past the depression.
 I can barely remember now what all the reasons for the depression were.  I think they had to do with fitting in, with being enough, and believing I wasn’t enough of any of the right things and too many of the wrong things.  In that moment in the bathtub I had some moment of clarity. I remember feeling the depression sort of lifting away from my body and melting into the tub with the bubbles and the water and eventually circling the drain as I got out.  Even though I don’t remember or even any longer understand all the reasons why I was depressed, I remember that it felt very overwhelming at the time.  The tenor and magnitude of the depression is still a vivid memory for me.  It felt like a secret burden I carried around with me all the time, like an invisible backpack no one else could see. The moment in the bathtub was also a moment when I saw a vision of what the future could be.  I began to believe just the tiniest bit in an adult version of myself, and I began in the smallest way to suspect that maybe after all, I really was enough. 
My body suddenly seemed a little better than it had an hour before.  My mind felt clear.  For the first time I began to envision a future for myself.  It was the beginning of adulthood and the ending of childhood and I had the good fortune to feel and experience the transition. 



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