The Not Day

Is it 1979? Because I’m fairly confident my brain today could pass as being the sole inspiration for Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”

Days like today make me want to throw in the towel for this blog. Because, really, it is what it first set out to be: a collection of daily writings — and the daily part sometimes messes with my head, like it was today. I felt like I’d hit a brick wall. Aside from being topic-less, I know it’s time to evolve it but I haven’t quite settled on how to best do that.

Numb. My brain was numb from the moment I woke. It was one of those days where my little gray cloud traveled with, and I didn’t care much about shooing it away. We haven’t had inclement weather in quite some time, so I suppose that may be a reason I let it hang around.

I was hoping I’d find time during the lunch hour to blog, but nothing came to mind. No interesting thoughts or sights on the way to work, nothing part of the workday that stood out as being especially noteworthy. I figured I’d find something I’m the way home. Please, please let me find something on the way home. Writing can’t be a struggle tonight.


Nice try.

Wanting not much more than to turn in early but imagining the worst — sitting at the computer until the midnight deadline — I forced myself to identify a lovely gem or two from the day as I pulled into the driveway this evening. I got out of my car and, wouldn’t you know it, there it was — faint in the night air and almost drowned out by the Santa Ana winds and distant freeway buzz, but unmistakable: church bells. I never get tired of listening to them.

Another lovely gem came an hour later in the form of jasmine tea. I’ve had a soft spot for it for years, but tonight’s tea took me to Arizona — to the Biltmore, to be exact. The tea reminded me of the resort’s meandering pathways, orange trees and dry, breezy evenings. I’ve walked those paths on many occasions with stars high overhead, more clear than any stars you can see in the middle of Orange County; less light pollution to muddy the view makes for a walk among the heavens. My cup of tea ended too soon.

But wait — one more bright spot wasn’t about to be left out: Juno. On TV.

Sometimes the writing comes easily (I never said it was necessarily good), sometimes not. Today was one of those not days. Not really full of highs, not really full of lows. Not particularly good, not particularly bad. Writing did not come easily, inspiration did not flow freely. The one thing I’m thankful for about not days, however, is that they force you to find something that makes them good — because there’s always something good. While I didn’t think I’d find one, I ended up finding three things to be thankful for, and that leads me to another not. Those little things that are right under our collective nose are the things we should not forget about, for they may hold the power to light a corner of our day that otherwise felt a bit dim.

For them I am grateful.

Doors and Windows

You know those times in life when you’re simply at a loss for words, next steps — for thoughts of pretty much anything?

I’m at a loss right now.

It’d be one thing if I was able to articulate what’s up — because with articulation comes some sort of inherent understanding of possible solutions. When you can’t really put your finger on what you’re feeling, though, solutions are fairly evasive. Or maybe articulation isn’t that hard after all…perhaps I’m just choosing to ignore it. Likely the latter.

They say that when one door is shut, another opens — or maybe it’s a window. Maybe it’s both — I can’t recall, and I’m too lazy to Google it. But if shutting isn’t something that’s occurred but instead something that you may need to take the lead on, what then? If you’re the one doing the shutting, does it still follow that something else will open?

I think so.

I think that once we identify an area in our life that needs a bit of tidying up and we actually tackle it, that which should’ve been there all along eventually enters the picture. You may wonder what took it so long, and the answer is simple; it’s right under your nose (in fact, it’s attached to your nose): you. You took long to make room for it, to carve out an area of your life.

Tonight I’m thankful for doors and windows and things that shut in our lives — either by another’s doing, or because of our own actions. We might be avoiding the inevitable and surely there will be bumps once the cleaning-out starts to take place, but when something shuts — door, window or otherwise — something else will open, however small of a space it provides.


There’s a disturbing trend on the streets these days that seems to be getting worse by the hour.

People no longer know how to yield.

Or, rather, the lack of it really comes down to two things: they’re either unaware or they’re selfish.

Ever been driving along with everything going swimmingly until you put your blinker on and the idiot in whatever lane you’d like to get into decides to speed up? He could simply yield to your lane adjustment and carry on like a normal human being, but nooooo — something goes haywire. “Personal space” is perceived as being encroached upon. Your fellow driver turns into a Grade A tool.

Then there’s the four-way stop. (This is my personal favorite lately.) Your opposing traffic wants to turn left, and doesn’t realize that they’re supposed to yield to you — the same way they’d yield at a green light until you pass through the intersection. I think the DMV needs to start making knowing the answer to this question on driving tests mandatory. Fail whatever else you want to, but everything rides on that one question. Don’t get it right, don’t get a license. Ignorance is cluttering up our roads, my friends.

I can count on two hands (sad) the number of times I’ve been flipped off or honked at in the last month because my opposing traffic assumed they have the right of way. Fortunately, I’m prepared for it. It doesn’t make me happy, but nor do I go out of my way to try to teach anyone a lesson (which, knowing Socal, may result in a bullet to the head, being followed home and assaulted, etc.). I’d love to produce a PSA for this trend, the same way I’d like to create one that reminds people that they don’t have the power to make a crosswalk sign change any more quickly if they press the button repeatedly.

When others forget to yield, it’s an irritation. But the same way that they may ignore the rules of the road, there’s another type of yield that’s equally important: the reading-your-audience-and-knowing-when-to-back-off yielding. When someone’s on the war path and convinced they’re right, correcting them at that moment in time may not be the wisest move. When you’re being steamrolled, anything other than setting a better example can prove more than detrimental. When you’re in the line of fire, be strategic — not necessarily defensive.

While there’s power in standing up for oneself, there’s more power in being the bigger person and setting the example that you hope one day catches on. It may take a while, but if enough people take part, I’m convinced we can often times undo bad habits long after they’ve started. For this, though it may be trying at times, I am thankful.

Everybody’s Changing, Round 2

In March of 2012, I wrote a post about one of my best friends who was moving across the country for a new job. It seems like just yesterday we said goodbye. Just yesterday I was crying my eyes out, just yesterday I was wondering when we’d see each other again, just yesterday I was trying to make sense of all the change, and just yesterday I felt empty beyond belief.

But friend has returned.

My favorite Keane song was playing when we said our good-byes. “Everybody’s Changing” really couldn’t have summed things up better, and it described both of us since we each had a new job we were heading off to…just on opposite sides of the country.

I remember the hard time I used to have every time I’d leave California for another semester of college in Michigan. My parents would always say, “We’re just a plane ride away,” and it was true. A flight from Detroit to Los Angeles was similar in duration to some of the worst days commuting on L.A.’s 405 freeway — maybe even less, depending on where you began and ended. Ever since, I’ve never thought of distance as distance. I’ve thought of it as nothing more than a small obstacle easily maneuvered around. Get in a car, get on a bus, get on a train or get on a plane and you’re on your way. It’s really that simple.

Even so, having friend leave was different. I suddenly had a huge void that nobody would be able to fill. You don’t just shrug off 17 years of friendship and not care that one party is moving a few thousand miles away — in fact, you care very much. And then I remembered that I’d been in those same shoes before: I left California for Connecticut, and it was an adventure for me. Similarly, I realized I needed to look at friend’s move the same way: as an adventure.

While that chapter is over, a new one is just beginning back home in The Golden State. Despite things coming full circle, everybody’s changing. Still. Day in, day out. We’re not back in 2012, we’re in 2014. Older, more experienced as people, employees, friends, and citizens of this world — this crazy world. And I’m so thankful my friend is back to laugh at the craziness with me.

Level Up

When someone hits your car while it’s parked in a parking deck, messes up the bumper and doesn’t bother to leave a note, it’s beyond frustrating.

After discovering that the parking deck’s “security” cameras only provide a live feed and can’t replay any shenanigans, my solution to this six-month-old incident was to park one level higher. I also was forced to rethink my favorite (but apparently flawed) parking spot.

It’s your typical deck in that each level is identical, and on any level there are now four spots that I will ever opt for in the wake of said bumper-marring. This means I have a total of 20 options within the five-story concrete and steel madhouse.

Madhouse, you wonder? Each morning, I see people doing these damn 42-point turns just to get into the first empty [and incredibly, painfully narrow] spot that they happen upon. People even wait for these skinny spots, as though they have some hidden, redeeming quality. They don’t. It’s a mess.

Not surprisingly, I frequently witness these people returning to their cars and freaking out when they realize that their car has been damaged, too. Why can’t they be bothered to go up higher to a less crowded level? Why are they so intent on taking the first crappy space that they see? Why tempt fate?

I suspect these people are the same ones who touched the stove when mom or dad said, “Don’t touch the stove. It’s hot.” Consequences? What are those? Yeah. Good luck with that.

I want to tell them about my new favorite parking spots and how I’ve had nary an issue with them, but…nah.

This morning’s parking routine wasn’t unlike other mornings, yet today as I arrived on my level where cars were sparse and I was able to breathe, I finally realized what going up a level has provided — beyond just peace of mind. It’s also almost completely removed the risk of having a negative experience and acting badly as a result of it. Beyond just repositioning myself on a higher level, the small shift has also helped me to take the high road, in some respects.

Tonight I am thankful for realizing the benefit of leveling up and for the calm that doing so has imparted in other parts of my life. No temptation of getting angry, no acting upon the frustration of said anger. And that’s a good thing.


When the simplest plans go awry, you begin to wonder what’s conspiring against you.

All I needed to do was stop by the pharmacy on my way home…but then I realized I needed to get gas, as well.

Two things. Two simple things.

My brain was on it. Recalculating route.

I pulled into the gas station and realized it looked empty from a distance because it was completely, utterly closed. Figured I’d exit the station and make a U-turn to head toward another one nearby that I knew of.

U-turns not allowed.

Recalculating route.

Up and over a freeway overpass I went, all the while thinking how far out of my way I was going. Heading in the exact opposite direction from where I needed to be, I wished I would’ve gone for the U-turn after all. There are more illegal things out there.

As my drive went on, I was detoured some more. A crowd of people holding “Jesus Saves” signs were causing a traffic jam.

OK, I’ll go this way.

Road work a mile later had lanes blocked off.

OK, I’ll go that way.

Cars were blocking a major intersection and, instead of adding to them, I bypassed the chaos.

Recalculating route. My brain was beginning to run out of options. I know Anaheim well, but I’d rather not traverse most parts after dark.

When I finally got to the second gas station, my pump was broken; its keypad was done for the day, and I almost was, too.

I backed up and found a working pump, finally fueled up, made it to the pharmacy and was on my way home.

My brain couldn’t take anymore route recalculations, and fortunately it wouldn’t need to worry about it. I began the familiar left-right-left-right -left turns through the streets behind my house and have never seen a more welcoming driveway.

I was home. Finally.

Those little things that may obstruct our paths are the very things that may save us from bigger issues. We’ll never know what might have been lurking, and it would certainly be easy to assume that nothing would’ve happened at all. But without actually having been there, how can we be sure?

Tonight I am thankful for safe navigation through the maze of life.

Gas Money

It was only a dollar, and who knows if it was really going to buy gas. But the woman outside the post office was sitting and reading, keeping to herself. She seemed to be around my age. Maybe she had a home, maybe she didn’t. But her sign said she needed gas money because her car was her home.

The skeptic in me almost passed her by. The dreamer in me hoped that a stranger handing over a dollar might be the one to inspire a lying party to stop their routine — but I also hoped that a dollar from one woman to another would be put to good use if, in fact, the sign was truth.

If the sign was truth, I pictured her wearing out her welcome after having been parked in one place for too long — and not having the means of finding a new spot. I decided a dollar was little skin off my nose.

If her sign was truth, I wanted her home to be as mobile as possible. Our temperatures haven’t been cold like they have across the majority of the nation these days, but it’s still cold enough for a person to be out in it at night.

If her sign was truth, a dollar wouldn’t get her very far, but it was something.

I’m a sucker for believing people — people I give the time of day to, that is. I’ve believed friends when they told me they wouldn’t repeat something I told them in confidence. When they did, they were no longer a friend. I’ve believed significant others when they said they were monogamous. When they weren’t, they were no longer significant. I’ve believed people important to me, and when that trust is broken, they fall a bit lower on the totem pole. OK, a lot lower.

When it comes to strangers in need — whether it be real need or created need — I know I won’t see 99.999% of them ever again in my life. And while losing or demoting people in my life that I’ve had personal relationships with stings, it haunts me far more to know that I’ve turned away from someone looking for assistance. Why? Most of us have our groups that we belong to. If you break the bond that kept you in that group, that’s big. But a stranger legitimately on his own often has only the kindness of other strangers — and hopefully they’ll pay it forward if and when they’re able to. At least that’s the way I look at it.

Tonight I am thankful for having the ability to give, and for knowing that a mere dollar may be far more valuable than most consider it to be. Tonight, I choose to believe that a dollar isn’t simply gas in paper form, it is also potentially fuel for a stalled life.

Think Alive

They say it’s better to be safe than sorry, and better paranoid than dead.

My mama raised me right, ’cause I’m a paranoid girl. Maybe it has something to do with witnessing my mom’s purse being snatched from her hands while we walked one block to the grocery store when I was four or five. She had me by one hand and her purse in the other, and in broad daylight a man looked her in the eye, wished her a good afternoon, then took off running with her bag.

With me at her side, the purse was a goner…until a Good Samaritan with his arm in a cast saw a man with a purse running towards him. He knew the picture made no sense, so he clocked him. The purse snatcher went down, the cast split open and the hysterical woman with the kid got her purse back.

Not everyone is as lucky.

My paranoia comes from years of living in Anaheim — not that it’s a bad place, but it’s seen its share of issues. Still does.

My paranoia comes from being followed numerous times across a dark, vast campus in Michigan after turning down a football player’s advances. He seemed to know where I’d be any day of the week — but the intimidation only came at night: to and from class, to and from the student parking lot a half-mile away, two and from the CommArts building I’d grade papers in. It ended when he and a couple other seniors graduated.

My paranoia comes from being told that I reported a friend’s dad as having tried to enter the bathroom while I was having a kindergarten play date one weekend at her house. That was the last time I was allowed to spend time outside of school with that friend.

My paranoia comes from the news, from movies, from others’ experiences.

So whenever I see a young girl walking alone on a dark night, I cringe. Doesn’t she know better? Has she no fear? Why is she inviting bad?

When I saw young woman sitting at a bus stop tonight, rifling through her purse with stuff spread all over the bench, I wanted to have a word with her.

Look alert. Pay attention. Rifle through your belongings inside a well-lit bus, not on a dark bench. Try to appear like you have your wits about you, because — frankly — you look like a fantastic target.

Last night I opened the door to call the cat inside and heard heavy footsteps crunching on the bone-dry grass mere feet away, just behind a five-foot block wall. It was late, and my neighbor’s house was dark. His backyard from where the crunching came from was also dark. My back porch light was off, because I took my Christmas lights down earlier in the day and hadn’t replaced the bulb in the light fixture yet. When I called for the cat, the crunching stopped. I closed the door immediately, no longer concerned about the cat. He’d find his way. I flipped on a table lamp switch that I was frozen next to and couldn’t move. Once I did, I looked outside and saw a dark form making its way quickly down the street behind the house. Not a coincidence.

I’ve not slept well for a week because of my cold, but I slept especially poorly after that. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tonight I am thankful for the wits about me, for the gut feelings I’ll always listen to, and for preferring to be safe rather than sorry. It’s not enough to look alive, we need to think it, too.


You know those things that make us shift and squirm, feel uneasy and nervous?

I feel like I’m finally learning to coexist with them.

This used to be one. The mere thought of posting something before the end of each day for all the world to see (forgetting for a moment that that not even one percent of the world knows I exist) used to make me avoid the keyboard until the very last minute.

The first post was written easily enough, I suppose, but then came the “publish” button. Then came the thought of whether or not I could do this every day — for thirty days. That it’s been more than two years sort of freaks me out. If I stop now, in my opinion it’s on par with a mother abandoning her child.

So I continue. I continue because not only am I not in the mood to abandon, but because I’m as curious about my next post as a mother would be about her child’s day.

A blog is the least of my worries, though. There are thoughts about life and money, love and future; job and health, faith and eternity. Not all have worry attached to them, but they do make up a pie, of sorts, of where my thoughts go on a daily basis.

The fact that I have avoidance down to a science — and that the blog agita two years ago taught me a good lesson at 35  — has inspired me to alter my course. If I can utilize a public forum for my writing, why then would I not be able to take the reins on parts of my life that aren’t public at all? The fact that they’re intensely personal and have as much a hand in my tomorrows as a heartbeat implies that each shouldn’t be an afterthought, but a driving force each day.

A byproduct of avoidance, sticking one’s head in the sand when it comes to the big stuff — the important stuff — is abandonment in its purest form. Abandonment of care, abandonment of self.

Tonight I am thankful for realizing that as much as there may be on my plate, the plate will magically expand when we make time for us and engage in the areas of our life that we were meant to engage in all along.

Check me out.

Important discovery made this evening: two teaspoons of cough and cold medicine chased by two mugs of Sleepytime hot herbal tea have a mellowing effect similar to that of a tasty cocktail. Talk about a fantastic bit of relief from a week-long cold.

I had to venture out to the store earlier, and let me tell you that there’s nothing more awesome than having my already small selection of items be dwarfed by a massive bag of cat kibble. Inevitably the checker will comment. Just like one did tonight.

The older gentleman at the register eyed my items and managed a half-smile.

“Hi…cat?” he asked.

“More than one,” I said, expecting the inquiry.

“Anyone at home to take care of you?”

“I’m sorry?” I replied.

“You’ve got some cough syrup here,” he said.

“Oh. Just me,” I explained.

“And the cats!” he added. I swear he glanced at my left hand.

“Maybe a husband soon?” he asked.

Hm. Not all who are ringless are unmarried, even though that is the case with me. Who in their right mind is that comfortable asking such things?

I wanted to tell him that I’d find a husband when he learned to simply operate the register, period — but I didn’t. All I did was smile.

“Well you look great for being sick,” he said. I smiled again and glanced at his hand.

Ring on the ring finger.

“Happy new year, pretty girl.”

I suddenly suspected he meant well by his line of questioning.

Tonight, intrusive checker aside, I am thankful for people who sometimes speak without thinking. The comments are not always about us, but sometimes about what the other person may be up against — or what they think they’re saying in an effort to help someone else. Offended by someone? Smile. It’s useful when biting one’s tongue, and also far less painful than saying something you may regret.