5 Aug

Family. It comes in all sizes, shapes, religions; by blood, by injection, by love alone.  I’m all about family these days!  And why not? My family sure rocks a gathering.  My family these days include me, my sibs, my kids, my grandkids, my kids’ families, and anyone else I deem to break bread with. And that can be anyone, believe me.  If you are kind to me, if you are compassionate to others, if you dance, then you are a beloved member of my family.

I just had the honor of meeting my son’s new family.  His lovely bride, Candice, has fun and joy written all over her.  Her family is spirited, kind, loving to each other and welcomed me into that beautiful circle.  I love them so much for bringing such beauty and harmony into my son’s life.

Yeah, I love family.  Number 1 son was number 2 son’s best man and had a lovely speech the likes of Don Rickles all set to present.  He changed his mind at the last minute as he realized it was a wedding and not a roast.  Ah, brotherly love!  Shades of “he used to beat me up so I pulled his arm out of the socket” became “my brother is awesome and I love Candice for enriching his life, Welcome to the family. We wish you every happiness”.  Or words to that effect.  Family.

I remember one Christmas many years ago in Miami when we sometimes had no food.  My dad was having a lean period and there was no Christmas dinner.  We had some neighbors who were worse off than we were.  So, my folks invited the single mom and her son to dinner..we shared our .baloney sandwiches.  They were family after that.

Hillary Clinton had the right idea…it does take a village.  Not just to raise a child but to co-exist with fellow human beings.  We are in this together, no matter what “this” looks like. I’m making a commitment today to extend my family;  to extend myself…if you need me, if I can help you in any way, just ask.   And if you can dance, even better!





29 Jul

I love words. Hate ants.  But they are a word, so I guess I love them too.  I was thinking about words and the power they have…over everything.  For example, what if chair was the word for pizza?  Hello, Domino’s?  May have a large chair with pepperoni, please?  Who determined our words, anyway?  How did they figure out that tree was tree and not purple?  I don’t know.  As a writer, I think of the craziest things, I guess.  Maybe I should study the history of language.  Lexicography can become my new obsession!  God knows I’ve had a few.  Like the month I was obsessed with knitting. And I do mean with knitting.  Not with making anything in particular, but in knit, purl, knit, purl.  On and on it went.  I once made a 12  foot scarf.  It hurt to cast off and be done with it.  And of course, I tore it out and started over, but added a different color.  I got up to 4 different strands of yarn at a time.  Yeah, it was gnarly.  As far as obsessions go, I guess it was harmless enough!

But I’m a big girl…I can admit that some of my obsessions were not so harmless.  Like the period of time when I lived with an alcoholic and obsessively monitored every move he made.  Including being a passenger while he drove drunk…if I were driving I’d have to watch the road and that required taking my eyes off him.  That would never do, as it would have meant a moment or two focusing on something other than him.

Then there was  the period when I travelled for work and was up in the bay area.  It was back in the olden days…when air was clean and sex was dirty.  Yes, the days before cell phones and internet.  I started calling home around 6 and frantically repeated for about 3 hours.  It never occurred to me that he was busy doing his alcoholic thing and was nowhere near the home phone.  Ah, the good old days…NOT!  Yeah, that was sort of obsessive.

I can still be a tad obsessive these days.  Like I type really fast and am always trying to go even faster!!  More, more, more.  Or, when I go to the library.  My friends ask  “why 10 books, Jude?”  That’s a silly question, as far as I’m concerned.  Why not 10 books?  I mean, I can read them all lickety split, so what’s the big hairy deal?   OK, I’ll admit, that can  be a bit obsessive.  See, I’m not there yet.  But, as far as obsessions go, I’ll take the current ones over the old ones, any day!




Miss Hollywood!! Miss Hollywood!!

13 Apr

Do you really live in Hollywood?  Yes, yes, I really do!  Have you seen Britney Spears?  Have you seen Johnny Depp?  Such were the conversations that greeted me on my first day of teaching in Abu Dhabi.  And I thought I would feel strange among a group of covered women who’s every other word was inshallah! 

No, I haven’t seen Britney or Johnny.  I saw Peter O’Toole at a party once.  Who’s Peter O”Toole?  they asked.  Uh, Lawrence of  ARABIA!? It was really funny to me.  Here I was in Arabia, and…well, you get it.

But back to not feeling strange.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I felt completely at home; very comfortable.  Almost like I’d been there before.  The students in the University were so kind, so welcoming.  They treated me like a celebrity and I felt like a celebrity the whole time I was there.  I was overcome with the thirst for knowledge, the intelligence, and the appreciation of their opportunity to attend classes.  My women loved school; they participated in activities and accepted all the information I taught with enthusiasm.

We also bonded on a personal level.  They would tell me about their lives, their marriages, their relationships with the men in their lives.  One student told me her arranged marriage took place when she was 14.  Four children later, he divorced her.  I asked her if she could have said no, and she said yes, but her father presented it in a way she felt she couldn’t say no.  There were other divorcees as well, and I found out they would become 3d or 4th wives because they weren’t virgins.

Because I hung out at the mall in Starbucks all the time writing, I suggested they come find me anytime and we can hang out.  They were aghast.  Miss, we can’t do that.  Oh no.  What, you can’t come hang out for coffee with your teacher?  Oh no, Miss!  I did have student who threw caution and actually had her husband take her to my villa for tea.  That was cool.  She was about 30 and her husband was 75.  She would share some experiences and also some feelings.  I was happy to be a sounding board and she appreciated the safety in our confidences.

We  became good friends and every now and then,  we share emails. 

Experiences are what I’m after.  I yearn to continue living the expanded life.  I try to look at every day as a dashing and bold adventure.  Who will I meet today?  Where will I end up today?  Will I impact someone in a positive way?  That is, after all, the goal.  A family in France somewhere is waiting for me, and soon I will go. More fun, more adventure, more expansion.

Look Ma, no typewriter!!

6 Apr

For all of you who may not know what a typewriter is, it’s a device that is clunky, hard to dominate, and is much slower than a computer or today’s keyboard.  Today’s keyboard, by the way, is an offspring of  the Sholes typing system, which was prevalent in the olden days!  What does all this have to do with anything?  Well, in honor of my mom, who passed away on April 3, 1990, I wanted to shed some light on the woman who inspired me to become a writer in the first place.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s, we would see mom toiling away on her little manual portable typewriter.  I think it was a Remington.  And I do mean toiling, because if you haven’t experienced a manual typewriter, it was a workout.  Anyway, she would write and be creative and sweat.  And because we lived in Miami, even before everything was air-conditioned, she sweated big time.

At the time, I didn’t realize how much joy she got out of such pursuits.  As her kids, we were clueless, so not very supportive.  I know now that it saved her…kept her sane in a crazy alcoholic/untreated al-anon relationship.  It was either writing or rosary beads.  She would sometimes say 9 rosaries a day.   That was her meditation.  That and her writing.  She sent stories off left and right and got rejection notice after rejection notice.  That didn’t stop her.  She took writing classes, she made friends, she did her life.  So, several lessons remain with me:  be persistent, do your passion, be still sometimes, live your life.

A few years ago, one of my sisters was moving and when she emptied her garage, she came across a box with mom’s name on it.  She brought it over to my place and said “This is for you!”.  I opened up the box and there they were:  years of short stories, articles and rejection notices.  I cried!  One more time, I got to experience the wisdom that was my mom. My mom was so wise. And I wanted to be just as wise as she was.  I kept thinking about wisdom, writing about it, seeking it in my relationships.  It  happened very slowly.  It happened in spite of me.  It happened in spite of crazy paths ran down and escaped from.    Thanks, Mom!

My first entry and I’m already lost!

5 Apr

Well, it doesn’t take much for me to be lost anywhere! In fact, the bumbersticker “Dont follow me, I’m lost” was surely written by a friend of mine! So, why should this new venture into cyberspace/writing be any different?!  But having said that, when I finally find my way, look out!  Like the first time I tried texting with my new iphone! There is still a dent in the wall from where I threw the phone at it! No damage to the phone, to its credit.  Today, I am a texting fool!  The teeny weeny keyboard is no challenge anymore.  I attacked it and dominated in about a day!  Story of my life.

Being lost has so many faces.  I’ve worn them all.  From going to the wrong house as a kid to not knowing what I’m doing with my life.  Not to mention the in betweens…the time I couldn’t get off the freeway for 12 miles because I missed the turnoff because I was lost.  Then there was the time, I plowed into someone’s dining room with my car during their dinner hour because I was lost…focusing on something that was not my business.  Some dude, to be honest.  Where is he?  What is he doing?  And the familiar favorite…who’s he with?  I bet he’s with HER!  Oy! No wonder I was lost all the time.

Happily, today things are quite different.  Oh, I still get lost, but I press the pause button.  I take a breath.  And, last, but certainly not least, I run to Youtube!  Anything I need to know or know how to do (like start a blog) is right there at my fingertips.  The very same fingertips that now command that teeny weeny keyboard.


Hello world!

5 Apr

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