Archive

Posts Tagged ‘life’

Hydroplane

Downpours flooded SoCal streets yesterday, but all had mostly dried up by mid-morning today. This meant I was unconcerned when I set out for a meeting.

Trouble struck when I tried getting onto the freeway. Turning sharply onto the ramp that’d deposit me on the freeway 20 or so feet below, I found my car suddenly floating just above the road. My steering wheel did its own thing.

First, my car veered right toward foliage. I didn’t dare try countering the pull, because I felt like flipping was inevitable.

The car then veered left, taking me precariously close to the thin metal barrier that kept me from tumbling down onto the road below. I kept my hands poised above the steering wheel, ready to seize it when it seemed ready to respond to my touch (without flipping my car). 

I managed to miss the barrier by a few inches and steer myself safely down the ramp. My heart raced as I drove northward and contemplated the possibility of different outcomes.

The next 30 minutes, I found myself appreciating with new clarity how tenuous is the connection between tire and road. Every skid and shudder had me on alert.

Ultimately, I made it safely to my destination. My return trip was pleasant. Now, safe at home, I’ll be content to drive nowhere else this long weekend …

Categories: Los Angeles, Reflections Tags: ,

The memory of typhoons

In 2004, I experienced my first typhoon in a small coastal town on Japan’s main island, Honshu. I filmed myself standing in the middle of a street while everything shook and swayed around me.

All was silent and still in the eye of the storm. I couldn’t believe the winds would soon whip around me again, but they did. I howled with them when they returned. The windy days I’d loved at home were nothing compared to this.

I enjoyed my later typhoons, too, but none invigorated me the same way my my first one did.

Today, an ocean and a dozen years removed from my first typhoon, I look out my SoCal windows and see the trees thrashing in the wind. The wind rattles my home’s windows, slamming sheets of rain against them.

I don’t know what it is about the wind, but I have always loved it. I will always love it. This wind-advisory afternoon, I’ll snuggle up with my husband and my little boys, content in now … but also remembering the thrill of being one small body standing strong against ferocious winds.

The New Jim Crow & the Nightmare River

When I started reading The New Jim Crow a couple of years ago, I felt my world rippling. I don’t mean this allegorically. I felt the smoothness disturbed by something else clawing to be let in.

Before I picked up the book, I’d been floating along on the smooth, clear water of U.S. life. I assumed all was (mostly) good and well straight down to the river’s bottom.

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow‘s author, invited me to stop floating and actually dip a finger into the water. Beneath the thin veneer of calm, her recounting of recent American history informed me, I’d find turbulence and boiling water that was scalding people alive.

I dipped in one finger and discovered she was right. Horrified, I returned my hands to the surface. I set Alexander’s book aside and enjoyed my onward drift.

Over the summer, little burning bubbles began emerging from the water around me. They were uncommon and only a little painful, so I ignored them at first. Why would I go seek out more pain?

But then I saw bigger bubbles roiling below the surface and understood: the U.S. is a world in which only a few are allowed to float at the surface. Others are forced down, trapped in the murky, hot water beneath and struggling to reach the surface for even a moment’s gasping breath.

I understood: they suffer so that I might stay comfortably afloat. “Oh, shit!” I started shouting to those floating near enough to hear me. “People are drowning below us! We have to see the whole river beneath us, not just the sparkles up top, or they’re going to keep on drowning!”

Alone, I saw, I could pull very, very few people up to the surface. If I could enlist other surface-floaters to reach down, though, I knew we could together evacuate this nightmare river and seek out one with cleaner, genuinely smooth waters where all were equally able to experience the river in its fullness.

“Shhh, you’re disturbing our ride,” fellow floaters admonished in return.  Read more…

Thunder Thighs Forever

February 10, 2017 Comments off

For more than three decades, I shared a birthday with my mom.

In October 2010, I faced my first birthday without her. Cancer had claimed her body in March 2010.

mom me n d

(but not before she met my Li’l D, the first of her many beautiful grandchildren)

Writing about her sometimes challenged me, especially early in this blog’s days. How could I show all her love, humor, compassion, and ferocity, while still being true to the hardships I endured both growing up and saying goodbye to her?

I got as close as I’ve ever gotten in my 2014 birthday letter to her, my blog’s most popular post by far, “Dear Mom.” In a single paragraph, I was able to sum up my experience of being her daughter better than I had before or have since:

You always begged me not to write about you. You thought I’d write about how you beat my siblings and me, how you yelled at us, how you could barely feed us and only kept us in a home by selling other people’s trash. I do write about these things, because they’re part of you. But they’re a small part, so enormously insignificant compared to your laughter, your love, your lessons in forgiveness, our birthday trips to Farrell’s and Pietro’s. I wish I’d written more about you in your life, so you could have seen how greatly your loving acts overshadowed your lost and tired ones. I wish I could’ve started writing sooner, or that you could’ve lived longer to see your love through my eyes.

I was a little nervous when I wrote about my mom in “Bernie, Because I Was Poor: Poverty, Predation, and Understanding Love.” I posted it on Progressive Army, a site with readers knowing nothing about my mom but what I wrote there. Since they didn’t know my mom, I worried they’d take away from the piece a unidimensional understanding of a woman enormously complex and vivid.

My mom was and remains my foremost superhero. While the word “superhero” is thrown around a lot these days, I mean this fairly literally. One of my favorite things about my mom was her superhero alter-ego, the uniquely malodorous Thunder Thighs. Read more…

… and fortitude

Last night, I went to bed crying. I felt like every bit of hope I’ve had these last few months was delusional.

I still feel that, but I did find a little spark in something that happened yesterday.

Midway through the afternoon yesterday, an old work friend texted me. “Are you at LAX right now?”

He was there with his wife. When we met up, he said they’d invited all their friends. None had shown up. They’d been there for hours when he went, “Wait! There’s no way Deb’s not here!”

Thinking of that today made me smile. I might not have hope right now, but you know what? 

Agree, disagree, hope, don’t hope, like me, don’t like me, I’ll show up for you.

I might not have hope right now, but I have love … and fortitude.

LAX 7 p.m. Saturday v. LAX 3 p.m. Sunday

Hey, friend.

Hey, friend,

I see you. I see some of the hundred difficult situations you’re juggling. I see how you berate yourself when you drop any one ball for even a second.

In case it helps lighten your load, I want to share a little of what I see.

Faced with some challenging parental situations, you are facing them right back. You’re not minimizing or deflecting them, but doing everything you can, despite exhaustion, to usher your kids into a future that will be good to them. 

You work hard, smart, and kind. You understand when you need to adapt and you do the work, undaunted by complexity or hurdles.

Your enormous heart finds ways to give and share every day. I mean this: every day. You are always looking out for the people around you, sometimes to your own detriment. You deserve your own compassion at least as much as the people around you do.

You make people laugh. You have great insights and perspectives, which brighten conversations and, heck, entire days.

You’re candid. You show what’s good and what’s bad, making it less lonely to be human in a world so full of illusions of perfection.

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Think of it as a (lunch break) start!

Please step out into the sunshine, lift your face to the sun, and take a second to marvel at everything beautiful you do and are. It’s a lot.

I see you, and you are magnificent. 

I hope you see it, too.

Love,

Deb

P.S. Think of the ponies!

Categories: Friends Tags: ,

Everything falls away

Today I got a blood-chilling text message. For privacy reasons, I can’t get into its details. 

What I can say is that, in the moment of seeing such a message, everything superfluous falls away inside. Even if the outside world demands interaction, that’s all done on auto-pilot. 

Heart, mind, soul, all turn toward what’s most important: each other.
All’s well, happily, but I have a favor to ask of you. Please call or text someone you love right now just to let them know how much you love them. I’d be so grateful.

Categories: Love Tags: ,
%d bloggers like this: