19 Novembers

On sleepless nights, I often feel pulled toward the past.

Where was I this day many years ago? How has my life changed? What has remained constant?

Haven't changed a bit

June 1995

Having blogged since June 23, 1995, I’m lucky to have almost twenty years of searchable archives. On a night like tonight, where sleep eludes me and I’m enthralled by whispers of the beckoning past, I meander through those archives.

Think I overpunctuate now? Seventeen years ago tomorrow, I demonstrated a love of punctuation not otherwise seen outside 18th century Germany:

Speaking of worse, my father wrote my mother a note saying that he’s not going to send her child support if she doesn’t “allow” us to visit him.

He knows that it’s not his choice – that eventually he’s going to have to pay, but also that mother doesn’t have any money. But she’s not going to come crawling to him… what can she do to get the point across to him? He’s not looking like a good man on any side – certainly not with the letter he wrote – so why does he keep on doing this? His years of absence have shown us how much he’s been concerned with us and our goings-on… at any rate, none of “his” kids want to be around him – I don’t know what it will take to get him off of our case. _We_ wrote the letters telling him – not to take a hike as he did that a long time ago – but to continue his hike… mother hasn’t managed to make us do anything, so how could she get us to write letters we didn’t want to write?

I was still so angry with my dad then. Fortunately, time has taught me the merits of both forgiveness and choosing love, even if they must be practiced from a distance. I read this particular entry and am glad for how much I have since changed.

My amazing '00 people

Me and my amazing ’00 people

On November 17, 2000, I wrote about applying to law schools in California. I had no idea I’d soon–and briefly!–move to South Korea before studying law at UCLA. I definitely had no idea I’d continue pursuing a JD long after realizing I’d rather get daily root canals than practice law. There was so much yet to be defined, but I had at least started the long journey to seeing myself as more than the sum of my gloomy history and mistakes:

Part of my joy with these last several months has been in coming to terms with myself. I feel at peace with myself in a way I haven’t before, and I know that my friends like me for a reason… it isn’t just luck. So I feel secure in a way that has allowed me to consider leaving, because I know it will be here when I get back. It’s not so tenuous, not going to just slide away with the slightest provocation…. and I love that.



Ten years ago today, I wrote from rural Japan:

I’ve exchanged a few e-mails on my cell phone with a German guy in Tokyo, and he’s already asked me to come visit him. Hahahaha! Yeah, please, let me spend $300 to go meet you knowing as much as you can know about a person in 200 words! Riiiiiight. 🙂

At long last, I was learning from experience!

Just a few days short of five years ago, I wrote about how my ex-boyfriend would be arriving in Los Angeles the next day. My mom was dying; with my partner unable to leave work, Nathan had volunteered to drive 900 miles with me so I would have at least one more chance to see Mom alive. So Mom could meet her first grandchild, Li’l D.

I wrote about Li’l D then:

I am still so superstitious about [D]. For all my griping about breastfeeding, he has been such an amazing gift in my life; he’s such a sweet-natured, beautiful little boy. So I find myself feeling such a magnificent thing can’t really last, and I’ll frequently worry when I can’t hear him breathing … as if, just as quickly as I learned of his budding existing, it will be taken away from me.

My little boy has thrived the last five years. My mom did not, but though she died, she did get two more weeks to visit with the first of her seven-so-far (!) grandchildren. And she lives, as you know, forever in my heart.

One minute before I took this picture, I stood with my hand on my mom's doorknob and wondered, "Am I ready to see my mom dying? Will she have strength left to smile at her grandson?" I opened the door and found love far greater than the pain of knowing I'd too soon have to say goodbye.

One minute before I took this picture, I stood with my hand on my mom’s doorknob and wondered, “Am I ready to see my mom dying? Will she have strength left to smile at her grandson?” I opened the door and found love far greater than the pain of knowing I’d too soon have to say goodbye.

Perusing through Novembers past, I also found the folder of songs I wrote during law school. A couple are actually decent. Then there’s one I wrote for my mom.

I’d forgotten it was Mother’s Day. I wanted to hide the fact I’d forgotten, but how could I do that? Oh, yeah! By writing a long-ass song! I wrote the song in an hour, linking it to a poem she’d written and titled “Blue Madonna.” I recorded the song for my mom over a sequence of voicemails.

My nefarious plan to conceal my forgetting worked, too. My younger sister called, laughing, as she reported Mom’s pleased response: “There’s no way she wrote that in an hour!”

Much has changed, but I’m still good at writing lots of words really quickly. 

I’m still not a musician. The only way I could ensure remembering this song for my mom was to record it in my own wobbly, untrained voice.

sfm wav

I’m tempted to post the recording here, but equally reluctant. I’m not reluctant because of my voice. I’m not a musician, so why would I care if I have a million dollar croon?

More so, my reluctance springs from how I craft my words so carefully here, trying to find the perfect-for-me balance between revealing and concealing. Sharing the song means sharing more than words. It means sharing parts of me that can’t readily be edited out or concealed. Raw, faltering parts.

madonna is the mother – of a world yet to come – from her bitter tears – a better world spun
so if she looks too hard – on the wrongs once done – madonna’s focused wrong – in truer ways she’s won
won the love of daughters – blessed by her love and grace – who always through hard moments – could expect her strong embrace

Would you listen if I posted it? Would you listen for the heart instead of the tune, hearing the vulnerability in the last verse I both want and don’t want you to hear? 

No matter which way you answer, I’ll be sitting here enjoying the silence of early morning until the sun rises, reveling in getting to be here to reflect on lessons in music, love and change over the course of nineteen Novembers.

May I be so lucky as to have another nineteen Novembers ahead!

  1. Beleaguered Servant
    November 8, 2014 at 4:59 am

    I would listen.

  2. November 8, 2014 at 6:13 am

    We need to hear it 🙂

    • November 8, 2014 at 10:22 am

      😀 If I had more time and editing prowess, I might collapse it down to the first and last two verses.

  3. cardamone5
    November 8, 2014 at 6:19 am

    I would listen, but what matters more is that you sought out and found these memories, and the feelings they evoked, which judging from the tone of this post, is peace and happiness. You don’t need affirmation or opinion from others. Sit and be with yourself, recording, memories, whatever, and allow that nostalgia to wash you clean.


    • November 8, 2014 at 10:29 am

      I am encouraged by the warmth and insight of your comment. This isn’t about affirmation, but more … embracing vulnerability. When I meet those things I simultaneously do and don’t want to do, I take that as a personal challenge. Why do I went to share? Why don’t I want to share? If If the “don’t” reasons have to do mostly with fear, I feel I grow stronger by doing the thing I fear, which is more easily done in a supportive circle … even if an army of trolls stands just beyond! ♥

      • November 9, 2014 at 7:33 am

        I would listen. But not everyone deserves to listen. So make sure it’s only fear holding you back, not wisdom. xo

  4. November 8, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Of course I would listen!

  5. November 8, 2014 at 10:12 am

    Wow, you’ve been blogging since ’95? That’s an amazing body of work. You’re an inspiration.

  6. November 8, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I would listen as I always love what you say be it in song, in print, or in picture.

    Also, blogging since ’95?! What a beautiful treasure to have amassed. You never cease to amaze me–such wisdom in a beautiful soul.

  7. November 8, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    That’s a powerful testimony of the value of blogging. And yes, I would like to hear your beautiful song.

  8. nicciattfield
    November 9, 2014 at 2:01 am

    It’s lovely to go back and track life’s journey, the processes that unfold and the way that thoughts change. Thank you so much for sharing that with us.

  9. November 11, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Love this journey, and I love the title. It makes me excited to think of where the future will take me. To many more Novembers!

  1. December 1, 2014 at 5:40 pm

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