The List


Honey, if you’re off that list, it’s because you don’t inspire her anymore. He said.

It was my brain. It usually is. Once when we were on the phone she told me, I don’t get you. One minute you’re spiritual and the next you’re all business. I was standing in my driveway, her voice condemning me through my cell phone. The sky was grey, cloudy, it looked like rain. My ear was hot. I hate talking on my cell phone without a headset.  She was rattling on, criticizing my thought process. I just don’t understand you, she chided.

I can confuse people. I switch gears, sometimes faster than others might.  It’s how my brain works.

I take myself off topic. I digress. I’ll start one place and end up somewhere else. I started in New York and ended up in Torrance. How’s that for digression?  It wasn’t all me though, we moved to Beverly Hills and then I digressed myself right out of there to San Diego, to Hollywood. I mean the real Hollywood, when it was more grit and grime than fluorescent colors and pop.

There was England, Ireland, Wales, not in that order and Santa Barbara and Marina Del Rey and Redondo Beach and Phoenix and then back to Redondo, then Manhattan Beach, now I’m here, settled, done digressing in Torrance. Almost.

I ran around to run away.  Instead of escaping I was spinning.  I spun myself deeper into the guts of my life, the dark underbelly.  You know how if a car, if it’s stuck in the mud or the snow, if you try and push harder on the gas and make the wheels spin faster you’ll get even deeper in the mess you’re already in? Well, that’s me, the car and the gas pedal and the person pressing hard on the gas trying to whir the wheels free. I twisted myself in pretty darn good.

I remember this one night, in Santa Barbara, sitting around a table, around a mirror, around lines of cocaine, surrounded by empty bottles and filled ashtrays, cigarette smoke clouds and voices. I was thinking to myself, what am I doing here, with this group, around this table, in this city. I went to the bathroom, bent over the stained toilet and threw up.   Time to get off this list.

It was around that time when I took my foot off the gas and pressed it onto the break.

I went to see my friend Wayne. I waited outside on the steps of his apartment.  My eyes were tired and red, my lids felt like sandpaper each time they blinked closed.  I hurt. I sat, smoking, waiting for Wayne to wake up.


He came outside, a cigarette hanging from the left side of his mouth, the screen door slammed behind him.  I’m done.  I told him.  He walked a few steps down, inhaled his cigarette, the cherry glowed bright and he sat next to me on the stairs, pushing smoke up form his lungs into the morning air.

The eucalyptus trees shaded us, their scent colliding with our cigarette smoke.  I watched the smoke swirl up toward them, wondering about photosynthesis and how trees cleanse the air and if there was anything that could cleanse me.  Wayne was playing with his cigarette.  He was waiting for me.  Waiting for me to maybe change my mind or explain why or what I meant.  Waiting for me to say, hey don’t worry about it, gotta line?

He waited for me a lot.  He’d wait for me after my shift at The Jolly Tiger where we met.  He waited for me after I got fired and got a new job at Pascual’s. He’d wait for me to visit him, sit at the bar, and eat dinner at Arnoldi’s when he was working.  He might even have been waiting for me to love him.  All those late nights at Mel’s bar, the upsets when I’d leave with someone other than him. Solid Wayne, funny Wayne, chubby Wayne, with his blond mop of unwashed hair, stained tee shirts and impulsive grin. I waited for him this morning so I could tell someone.  I’m done.  I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I said.  I’m done.

He looked at me.  Okay. He said if you say so. 

I do.  I said.

Not too long after that Wayne stopped waiting for me and I stopped letting him.

In Santa Barbara I spent years looking for a spark, something to stimulate me internally rather than externally.  Looking for inspiration, to bring myself back to my life. I needed CPR and I came to Santa Barbara to find it.

I knew, on the phone that day, in my driveway, when she was complaining about me to me,  that it  had nothing to do with me. She was spinning her wheels like I had for so long in Santa Barbara.  I knew it wasn’t my speed that bothered her.

We all move at our own pace.

Honey, you don’t inspire her anymore he said, it’s not that big of a deal.

You’re right, I answered.

Bare Feet



October’s Indian summer glared.
Sunlight bounced off sizzling metal,
windshields, busses, billboards, street signs and steel rimmed buildings.
Liquefied waves ricocheted off the tops of heads,
White heat shot from the gold five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars that lined the sidewalks.
The flash of sun rebounded off a wheat beige paunch
through my car’s rolled up window
into the corner of my eye.


It was gleaming pale
in the blazing sun,
tight stretched skin
pulled across
a bulging naked pot belly
swollen beyond the elastic waist band
of his black sweat pants.
The right front pocket dangled against his leg
pulled inside out,

had he been digging for change,
that secret he’d kept hidden,
a memory he couldn’t find?

His right arm
hand-less sewn stump,
hung lifeless by his side.

He stood facing East,
looking at the sky,
planted at the intersection of circumstance and Hollywood Blvd.

It wasn’t that he seemed lost,
confused, alone.
It wasn’t that people surrounded him
rushed by without a glance in his direction.
It wasn’t that he was stripped stark
on a relentless day.

It was his feet.
Bare, charcoaled, black.
His feet.
Stained, worn, black.
His feet.
Beat-up, black,
from stepping on cracked cement, burning cigarette butts, discarded bottle caps, sparkling shards of green brown beer bottles, crumpled tissue that wiped a pedestrian eye or running nose, melting tarred spilled coffee, blue, cola, cherry, chewed gum Slurpee from the near by 7-Eleven.

Dead dreams.
Soles black.
Cracked broken hot soiled sticky leathered scarred marked scorched city grimed black.

I look at my feet.
Clean, polished, smooth, lotioned,
comfortable in soft white sandals.

I see him take a step
then another.
How can I help, I wonder.
I play scenarios in my head.

There are possibilities:
take him to a shelter, offer food, money, a shower.

But the light turns green
and he continues westbound
drifting away from Highland.



I drive north,
pointed toward acknowledgement
and my unfolding life.

It seems unfair.

A small prayer,
I whisper.
Send a wish,
send a slice of peace,
send a breath,
send a kind thought,
some comfort.

That was yesterday.
Today I still wonder

Sweet Apples & Honey

The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are a time for prayer, good deeds, reflecting on past mistakes and making amends with others.


Diving into the layers of color that are my life
Painting a vision of the year to come
Honoring my past

My father passed away on September 12, Rosh Hashanah in 1988. I used to say, Wow, two days a year to feel like crap. I was younger in understanding when I said that.  Now I wonder if his timing wasn’t part of the gift


Sweet apples & honey


Honoring what I have released
Has released me


Wants wishes dreams

Ah you’ve let go of dreams, one might ask.

Yes, I might answer

Let go of needing, pushing, pulling,
the angst that wraps itself
tangles, knots, ties itself
tightening around my delights
Wooosh, throw them to the water

Like a cloud
Or a bird that glides on the winds that come off the ocean
The bird launches into the strong gusts

A time to relax
A time to play
A time to drift
Riding the wind-wave

I will
I have
let go and I will be carried
I will

I saw the box
resting on the brown table
I was sitting in a waiting room
this wasn’t the first time
in this room
on this day
I Looked at the box
other days, the many times before, I picked up a magazine about Running
this day
the picture painted on the box
the blues and the greens
caught my eye
this day
I opened the box
a deck of cards
I picked up the card on top

Don’t take it personally
One  of  The Four Agreements

I turned the card over in my hand
I read

If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you.  If that person doesn’t walk away, you will surely endure many years of suffering with him or her.  Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal.


stitching together fabric too worn to seam
isn’t useful
words are just words
threaded together
to create a cloak
no matter how coarse and uncomfortable
I chose to drape it over my shoulders
let it create rash
scratching, itching, burning
rub my skin raw

Y is just a crooked letter


Sweet apples & honey




Tomorrow I’ll remember
40 years ago, 40 months ago, 40 days ago

this moment
the one after that

honoring those who have come and gone

through the windows, peep holes, cracks, nooks, crannies,
slipped in-between
swirled in through the front door
lifted out the back


Sweet apples & honey

Bread on the water


My Bench

Summer At The Bench

I woke up this morning and it was a hot summer day. I was looking forward to sitting on my favorite bench at the beach. It was my favorite bench for no other reason than it was mine. I like to go and sit. Sometimes I can sit for hours staring at the ocean change colors. When I got down to the beach and approached my bench there was a large man sitting on it. “That’s my bench.” I said. “Oh yes, well would you like to join me? I come here to look at the ocean. My wife disappeared last month, the sky just took her from me and I like to come here to look for her. I look out onto the ocean and see if she isn’t swimming toward the shore. She wasn’t a very good swimmer, but with all this practice, well, she must be quite strong at it by now.” I felt bad for this large lumpy man. He wore a black and blue plaid suit. His chin spilled over his tie. I just wanted to sit on my bench. I squeezed in next to him and sat staring at the ocean with him. “How long have you been looking for her?” “Oh for years now.” He said. “I have been coming to this bench every day for years. Although sometimes I go to the one over there or the one over there or the one over there.” He lifted his thick arm through the air and pointed each time he said the words ‘over there’. I saw his arm moving in my direction on the third ‘over there’ and I pushed back as far as I could so he didn’t hit my nose. My nose is worth protecting, that’s what I’ve always said. We watched the ocean together. It changed colors maybe twelve times that day. We watched the toy poodle and the bulldog play the shell game. The toy poodle was cheating, taking the bulldog for everything he had. “Trickery!” I said. “Trickery!” he agreed. “Trickery!” the bulldog barked. When the sun sunk into the ocean we stood up, shook hands and went our separate ways. The next day it was sunny again. When I arrived at my bench it was empty. I had so much room I could move my legs or even lie flat if I wanted and turn my head to stare at the ocean. I didn’t. I sat straight and tall and pushed myself as far as I could to the edge of the bench. Somewhere out there, someone was struggling with the sky.

August 21, 2012

Happy Birthday

It’s my birthday. I’m 49. WOW.

I don’t know what this is ‘supposed’ to feel like, this age. I just know how I feel.

Time is so hard to pin down, determine, define.  Not to define in science, just in a living, breathing, human way.  How to wrap it all up and take it all in…


Wraps around me,
a mist
old familiar scent
that I know
but can’t quite place
in an ocean of
moments, minutes, heartbeats,
watery sepia shots
Moment by moment
Minute by minute
Year by year
Breath by breath
Heartbeat by heartbeat
Cryptic and true
He delivers on his promises

I feel free. More and more free. Non-apologetic, grounded, happy. It hasn’t happened overnight, this feeling of just being. I have been ‘trying’ for many years, I don’t try anymore. I do, I create, I live, I AM.

I am being. My life is something I am living, not building, or planning, I am being in it, living and breathing in it, my life.  I AM in my life.  I have let it wash over me like the ocean. I dove into the cool water, blue and green and deep, my life.

my ocean
dark and brooding
bright and pleasing
calm and raging
choppy and calm

I leapt, soared, dove
Heart First
with a happy splash

Ever moving
Ever changing
Ever being in the moment


Happy Birthday to Me.  Happy Life to us all!

August 11, 2012

Our Wedding Cake, BUT the best cake ever!!!




August Morning

I love hot August mornings. Early. Before 7am when it’s quiet and still.  Before the heat rises and swells.

I listen to the occasional car on another street,
a lawnmower,
mumbling voices
my neighbors walking dogs
that bark at birds, squirrels, or the sky,
the hum of a humid summer morning.
Still, hot, thick, breezeless, stirrings.
our late season tomatoes ripen on the vine,
the strawberries in my back yard waiting to be picked from the ground
planted on my tongue
their sweet red flesh
seeding my day

I sip my coffee.
a branch
in the tree in our front yard
stretches, arches up
to meet the blue expanding sky
I swell with memory

Somewhere in my Mom’s condo in Marina Del Rey, there is a box, containing snippets from my Dad’s life.

In black faux leather-bound Week-at-a-Glance notebooks,
pages filled with movies, scripts written in blue, red, purple, orange, pink, yellow and shades of green flair pen block print.
Pages read like scenes,
stolen moments from decades, years like 1972, or 1975.
a dinner party hosted,
a movie wrapped,
a birthday celebrated,
a friend mourned.

My Father’s voice calling to me from the page.

I have sheets filled with sepia tone memories
Beginnings seed, flowers bloom,
vines grow leafy,
they wrap and wind,
draping reality,
cloaking truth.
Memory yarns and stories are told.

Jeffrey Scott, the boy with two first names, a laughing ghost shimmering in my backyard, hovering over the ripples in the kidney shaped pool. He’s wearing a football jersey, I can see the black block numbers, but can’t make them out. A leaf floating through the autumn skies of my freshman year, swept up, blown elsewhere by spring.

No questions asked and none answered.

I’ve been the phantom. I’ve vanished. I’ve pushed beyond circles in which I once sat, cross-legged and eager, seeds planted, never thinking I’d need more room. That my roots would drive through the soil, exhausting the land we had cultivated together.  I extended beyond the iridescent round of abalone shells that adorned its border.  I moved to a dark, rich, new territory, fertile, soil untouched by deduction.  I stepped off the well-worn path littered with twigs, leaves and broken branches.

No questions asked and none answered.

What about So and So? Bill might ask, Why don’t you hear from her anymore?

I don’t know, I might answer.

I don’t know. It could be something I said, or did, or a birthday I forgot, or it could be that I got as busy as she was. Now there was no one left.   I don’t know. We didn’t call to find out.

No questions asked and none answered.

What can I do? Open.  Time embraces me; warm arms rock me, pull me close into a heartbeat, a soul, a moment, memory. Open.  Open to the promise of an August morning.


 August 7, 2012

The First of The First

It seems significant


Not in the dramatic, back of my hand to my forehead, eyes rolling up to the clouds

A breathless, “ohhhhh, I can’t” escaping through my parted lips


but not that

not that drama

not that floating above the earth


Significant somehow

In the grounding

the grounding of my heart

the grounding of my feet in the hot summer sand

the grounding of the rush of Pacific salt water that cools my purple painted toes

the grounding of my not as tight as it used to be belly

the soft curve of my hips draped in my Egyptian Blue cotton pareo, the one I bought on our honeymoon in Fiji

my strong well used calves

my dark tinted grey hairs glistening under the semi-permanent color, they catch the light of the sun in the breeze

the lines in my face when I smile, the stories sketched on my skin

the grounding, the accepting, the moment is significant


walking from one side to another

Stepping over a line, imaginary and considerable

into a window, a door, a passage way

a feeling in my heart that is 20 or 30 or 18 or 40

a contemplation

a knowing–it is all relative

To my neighbor who is 65 and her husband who is 73

I am young

We are young

We leave their house after a nice dinner on a warm Saturday night

we walk across the street, barefoot, arm in arm

we are laughing

food and wine, history and stories fill our bellies

They watch us go, they turn to each other and smile,

“They are so fun, but they are so YOUNG” they laugh


To my neighbor three doors down starting a life with a new born and another on the way

With no children

With a husband, two cats, a working sailboat, an open calendar, a career, my writing, creativity, the freedom to come and go and a blue sky and experience, I am what…

Who am I as I turn this corner?


That is my question to answer, to understand and explore, as I,

with pen in hand

turn this corner

start down this slice

of road