Let This Be It….

I was in high school when the Columbine shooting occurred and though we didn’t have Facebook or Instagram back then, somehow the news filtered through our parent’s TV channels and local papers, illustrating to us, the indestructible teenagers of America, that we do in fact die. It was so shocking to us, so alien of a concept, that I remember girls crying in the hallways and school-wide projects being sent to Columbine to show our solidarity & support.

Columbine for many, was the first wave in a tsunami of school shootings that America has seen since that day. Acts of violence that have become so commonplace, so horrific, that there is not a state in our union which has not been touched by it. In fact, since 1970, the US has had over 1,925 school shootings and in those shootings, over 637 students, teachers & staff lost their lives. Over 600 graduations never celebrated, savings accounts used not for community college classes but for funerals, so many firsts; first car, first kiss, first paycheck, first apartment, first love~stolen.

This is not a reality that my parents had to deal with; at least not really. If there was news of a school shooting, and there were a few before Columbine, it was so far removed from their daily lives, so rare, that it was almost an anomaly. Today though, if I hear sirens on a school day, that is the first thought that flits through my mind. I imagine an unhinged intruder, storming the threshold of my children’s school and the utter chaos that would unfold. I listen, almost subconsciously, for more alarms; for something that would signal a school shooting and when the sirens fade away, as they always have as of yet, I can breathe a sigh of relief. I suppose, having lived over half my life with the horrific reality of almost weekly school shootings, it’s just something that I’ve become accustomed to.

But there was another shooting today, with young children the same age as mine, and things are not so easy to ignore. So tonight, alongside baths and storytime, we told our kids how best to survive a school shooting. Not to be a hero. To not be scared but to be ready, prepared. And I cried, not only for those children lost today so senselessly, but for all the kids growing up in America today who have had to learn, alongside math equations and the ABC’s, that the world is not always a safe place.

People, especially a certain demographic of America, will argue that tired old adage; “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” but I say fuck that. Of course guns don’t walk out the door on a killing spree on their own two powdered coated legs. Guns are inanimate objects you asshole. They cannot do anything without a living, breathing human there to pull the trigger. But what guns do do, and what they have always done, is make it so very easy to take another’s life. It’s barely a reflex, to pull that trigger; it takes more effort to unscrew the lid of a jar. And guess what? Your right to own a gun, that 2nd amendment argument, does not, I repeat, does not supercede my right or my children’s right to live life without the fear of dying by gunshot. It does not override their right to receive an education without bullet holes. This law that people so desperately cling to was written over 300 years ago with bloody quill & ink. 1791 was a long freaking time ago. Over two thirds of our country was still untamed wilderness. There were only 14 states and our democracy was brand new, not only to us but to the world. Guns were useful back then and the right to bear arms could mean the difference between life & death. However, our country has evolved, changed, and morphed into an entirely new world virtually unrecognizable from those first 14 hardscrabble states. There are over 334 million of us Americans and most assuredly, we no longer need guns for daily protection; especially when it is so blatantly apparent that we as a country, are incapable of controlling their use on fellow Americans. It is time to evolve, to move on into the future, a future filled with less violent gun deaths and more life.

Yes today’s shooting in Uvalde, Texas hit me particularly hard. Maybe it’s because I have a 3rd grader who went to school this morning and came home safe this afternoon. Maybe it’s because so many of those lost today remind me so very much of my own brown eyed boys. Or maybe because it’s just time. Time to sit up, to take notice, to change things.

The Last Gift

81721220_10221596693528120_505395252761198592_oWhen I was a tomboy of eleven, my Aunt Willow gave me a sterling silver bracelet.  Why she gave it to me I’ve long forgotten; whether it was an intentional gift or a hand-me-down token from her own jewelry collection, I don’t know.  I do know that from the moment that she gave it to me, I clamped it upon my wrist and wore it nearly continuously for twenty-six years.  I loved it because it was real silver, simple but classic, with a patina braid running thru its middle.   It was buttery soft; I could bend it effortlessly back into shape if need be and I felt like a bonafide adult with it on my wrist.  It was vintage, before I knew what such a thing meant, and it went with me everywhere.

As the years dulled its shine and it wore a permanent tan line onto my wrist, the bracelet saw me through the end of my childhood and the cliches and social awkwardness of middle school.  It was there when I graduated high school and college; it glistened under fluorescent lights as I signed the papers to buy my first house.  It moved to LA (and back) with me and bore silent witness to my first heartbreak and also to my first taste of freedom.  The first time I ever ate sushi, on Franklin Ave in Hollywood, it was there, peeking out of my jacket sleeve.  When it was time to move home again, there it was, snug & tight on my wrist through two state lines and 100’s of u-haul miles.  It traveled back to California for Edgar and I’s San Francisco honeymoon and was there in the delivery room when all three of our boys were born.

I wore that bracelet to all the great moments in my life; to all the mundane everyday ones and all the epic, life-altering ones in equal measure.  It was a small but defining element to what made me me; at least before the loss of you.

Six months ago, today, was the last time I wore that bracelet; the last time I saw your face.  Your hands were not as cold as I thought they would be and I kept expecting you to open your eyes.  I stared at your still chest~that great barrel-shaped chest of yours and willed it to rise.  For you to take a breath, just one breath, again.  A Garth Brooks song was playing and I thought that you must be there, in that room with us, because that was totally a song you would have picked to try & comfort us; to let us know that you were safe & peaceful.

And as I stood there, dry-eyed, looking at your stilled strength and rough, capable hands; I took my bracelet off my wrist and placed it in your shirt pocket.  I patted it down gently and said goodbye, to you, to us, to everything I’d known before. The me that wore that bracelet, through life’s ups and downs, was gone.  And as time works its wicked ways and does what time does best, my bracelet will move down; slipping between your ribs, slowly, slowly inching to where I wish I could be, to where I know I am~in your heart forever.



Drew, you burned as bright as an earth born star is allowed to. The way forward is unimaginable. To say that the world is a darker place without you in it would be a gross understatement. Our lives, our hearts and our souls will never be the same without you.

So while we are all left cruelly grappling in the vast & never ending emptiness which stretches out before us in your absence, we know that this is not goodbye. You are with us still. In the wind rattling the pine trees, in the glow of the summer sun, in the sweet smell of diesel and sawdust, in the warmth of a wood burning fire and of course, in Maxwell Wilder.

So until we meet again, know that we will miss you every minute of everyday and if you happen to hear a rowdy ruckus down here, that’s our love being howled up to you~



Today, on what would have been your 1st birthday, I celebrate you my darling blue eyed niece.  We had 11 months, 3 days and a handful of hours to call you ours.

We are taught that love is infinite and I think that we as humans believe that means that the love that we show and give others will always be infinite as well.  And in a sense, it is.  I will always carry you in my heart and each family photo from now on will be missing you.  But had I known that loving on you, holding you, breathing in that sweet baby scent of yours was not the infinite number we’d been promised but a specific and very countable number of times, my heart would have broken.  That is the very reason for the guise though, because I would have held onto you desperately, never letting you go had I known and love should never be desperate.  It should never be held down & tethered as if it would be whisked away at a moment’s whim.


I few years ago, I had a dream that your Dad, my baby brother Josh, had died in some tragic accident and the feeling of grief I awoke with was so tangible that it nearly choked me.  In the years since, he certainly has come close to actualizing that dream of mine and I don’t think I would be alone in saying that more than a few fevered prayers have been said on his behalf.  But then you came, and like most daughters, you had him wrapped around your tinest finger the moment you first drew breath.  You mellowed him, stilled his recklessness and gave him a purpose outside of himself with which to hold onto.  Comfortable in his role as a father; if he faltered we never saw it, and the hopes and dreams he held for you were plain as sunlight upon his face.  In short, you, dear Trinity, made him a better man.

Though we will never know why you left us so soon perhaps those angel wings of yours were ready to be claimed; earned from the moment you were born.   And though we will grieve the loss of you everyday; to have loved you and to have known you was worth the tears of a lifetime. So please fly high sweet one and know that though we will miss you till the end of our days, we are ever so grateful that, for a brief moment in time, you were all ours.




A few days ago, I forced myself to do something which I rather dislike. Not because the task was unpleasant, which it was in the sense that all things associated with death are, but because I was terrified of that look I would see in my father’s eyes. That look of mortality, of fleeting time, of disbelief, of instant heartache. For a friend of my dad’s had passed away quite unexpectedly and being the good daughter that I am, I bought a bottle of whiskey and drove over the mountain pass to commiserate at his house.

Once I arrived there however, my solidarity faltered as I remembered that summer day, not too many years ago, when I had spontaneously driven over that same mountain pass and up my Dad’s gravel driveway into a memory of sadness and shame. As I pulled up to a stop & jumped carelessly out of my car as only a young girl can do, my Dad lurched forward out of his office and onto the porch in a way which immediately told me something was wrong. At first I thought he was in the throes of a heart attack but as he choked out the words while I rushed towards him, I understood that it was my Uncle Brian who he was talking about, not himself. And in that moment I experienced my first sense of shame, because I was grateful it wasn’t him. Whether it was right or wrong, that emotion was the first thing I remember about my Uncle Brian’s death. As a world wholly new and painfully sharp sprang up around us that day, that day of sudden and young death, my first thoughts were still, at least it wasn’t you Dad. Thank God, it wasn’t you.

And that is why it took me a few hours after driving that mountain pass to finally muster up the courage to go and find my dad.  I stood there, alone, with the bottle of whiskey tucked under my arm, and braced myself.  I knew that same look was coming and that once again, I would feel that guilty sense of gratitude that it wasn’t him. For the thought of a world without my Dad breaks my heart, it’s something that I fear I simply could not bear. So when I look my father in the eyes, his grief makes me sad, sad because his friend was a good man and the world is a little less bright without him, sad because his own mortality is something I cannot stop. Yet he is still here, we still have time, and for that, I am unashamedly grateful.


PICT2742A few years ago, while I was living smack in the middle of Hollywood, I came home from work for a brief bite of something before rushing off again to go catch those LA dreams.  I most likely changed my clothes, since working with coffee all day tended to permeate everything with its blackened aroma and I know I watched a little TV.  During that limited time, that brief half hour lapse, someone or something was shanked, stabbed or seriously maimed right underneath my living room window. I did not realize this however, till I went to leave and found a rather large pool of fresh, sticky blood soaking into the sidewalk. I didn’t hear a scuffle, a yell, a shriek, or even a murmur. Nothing.

And as shocking as it was to emerge from my idyllic apartment and stumble into a potential crime scene; having already been properly jaded by city life, I tiptoed my way around the blood stained sidewalk & wearily peered into the bushes for a corpse. I made it to my car and drove off. I called my sister to warn her about the biohazard at the foot of our stairs and that was about it.

I did wonder how someone could lose that much blood so quietly and then simply vanish into the summer night even more stealthily. Yet it wasn’t until months later, when the great blood stain was brought up during a conversation with our downstairs neighbor, that I realized that maybe I should get out of the city for a bit. Apparently, he had recently been regaling his sister back in Wisconsin with hard-edged LA stories and had mentioned the giant puddle of blood. “What did the police say?” she had shrieked and I looked at my neighbor knowingly.  Cause he knew what I knew and that was this; that neither of us had bothered to call the police.  In fact, it hadn’t even occurred to us. For we were city dwellers, in one of the biggest centers of humanity on the planet and well, people bled every day down here.



In the spring of 2005, my sisters presented me with an angry little ball of fluff which I lovingly christened Dagobaz, named after a battle victorious war-horse in an M.M.Kaye novel.  Dagobaz means trickster and the name was aptly picked for though he looked fluffy and dignified in his tuxedo of black & white fur, he was in fact, ornery as hell.  Nearly every house visitor was scratched by him at least once and his love was closely guarded & doled out sparingly to only a select few; and luckily I was one of those people-most of the time.

He grudgingly moved from Washington to Los Angeles with me, where his beloved green yard was replaced with a stuffy and sweltering Hollywood apartment.  No longer did he have the freedom to roam the outside world at his leisure and in my guilt of cloistering his wild animal nature, a cat leash was bought.  To say that was an epic failure of an idea would be a gross understatement.  My arms bore testament to his feelings about being leash bound and he escaped from its coils almost as soon as I had heroically wrestled him into it.  But then we moved again and Aubrey & Zelda joined us in a bigger, less stifling place so he once again had room to roam about…at least a little.  Our plantain covered balcony became he & Zelda’s lair where they would lay, catatonically on the stucco wall and soak up the endless LA summer days.

Then Edgar came and the two of them eyed each other warily and when it was clear that neither of them planned on leaving, a mostly peaceful and, at times, amicable bond developed.  They tolerated each other, simply put, though I suspect that a thread of love may have developed over the years or at least a sense of muted affection.

To soon it seems, we were headed North again, leaving Aubrey & Zelda behind-a crime which Zelda has never forgiven any of us for.  We were back in the land of green fields & evergreens and perhaps inspired by this change of scenery, Dagobaz took up midlife hunting, bringing in an array of both deceased and very much alive animals.  From roof rats to moles and even a baby opossum, it seemed that no prey was immune to his claws including us,  his human family.  Once London arrived and then Huck, this became a bit of a worry as we never knew when his ornery nature would emerge and possibly scar one of them for life.  In truth, he did scratch them both at least once though he quickly learned the error of his ways as Edgar put the Fear upon him & locked him out of the house for a day or two.

The boys too, learned to love or at least appreciate his cantankerous self.  Huck especially sought out his love no matter how many hisses Dago sent his way.  Never a cuddly animal; I could probably count on my hands the number of times I heard him purr, he became our token guard dog-chasing away actual dogs from in front of our gate and joining us on evening walks around the neighborhood.  He would lead the way up & down the block, dodging in and out of bushes, proudly & stealthily showing us the way.

For 13 years, Dago sauntered by my side doling out his aloof but hard-earned love when I needed it and scratching me just enough to keep me on my toes.  He was wild & dapper, as regal as a cat could be and my world won’t be quite the same without him.  He saw me at my worst and at my very best and through it all, he remained lovingly impassive.  He never demanded much from me, aside from the requisite food & water and I appreciated his fierce independence all the more as my life became busier & busier.  Yet he always remained my loyal companion, feisty & ornery till the end, and I will always love him for it.

The Heritage


My father’s lands and those of his father & his father’s father are still in my family.  We own mountains, rivers and trees as much as men can own nature and our name echos thru the history books of those wild places.  We were pioneers in the forest and explorers in the rugged, rocky landscape which surrounds the little patch of mountain dirt where I was born.  It is a place where a child can run free through the cedars, where seasons are strongly defined, and where everyone who knows anyone, knows us.

It is a legacy we struggle to hold onto~as we venture out of the shadow of the mountains and scatter throughout the rest of the world.  Yet, that untamed terrain has shaped us, and the same pioneering spirit which sent my great grandfather trekking across a dusty wagon trail flows through all of our veins, sending most, if not all of us, on our own twirling adventures across this great earth.  Yet that piece of mountain, that patch of blue, that dash of green holds us all captive and inevitably, we all return.  Whether that’s for a lifetime, a day, a month, a year or only for a fleeting moment, there’s something in that mountainous breeze which heals us, for it’s the place our blood calls home.

A Tangled Nest

I’ve long held the belief that everybody has at least one physical trait that others find beautiful. It could be the eyes, a finely turned ankle or a dazzlingly white smile, but there is always something. For me, it seems to be my hair. Long, thicker than a horse’s tail, and honey colored; I’ve always been a bit partial towards it. It’s embarrassingly easy to maintain and I suspect that my husband even married me because of it’s golden hue~after all, what true-blooded Latino could ever resist a blond?

All in all, I have been truly blessed by the hair gods. However I realize now that it really was never created for my benefit but rather for my son London’s; for my hair has become his nest, chew toy, blanket, teething ring and worry doll. Not a day or night goes by when he doesn’t burrow himself down in it, entangled in it’s golden tresses, and sooth himself to sleep. This process however, is not as gentle as it sounds, and my scalp as well as any loose strands are ripped and pulled in a most unpleasant way. In the dark of the night, when a violent tug has awoken me from a deep sleep, I often wish I could find a silky haired, lactating doll which I could easily switch places with.

Yet as my baby sister so graciously reminded me, this time is fleeting and it won’t be long before he’s 18 years old and I would give anything to have him small again, wrapped up in my arms, contentedly chomping on my split ends. So I’ll endure the nesting, the aching head and frazzled morning hair for now because I know that she is right.