Archive | July, 2010

Up in the Air

29 Jul

I think I must be related to George Clooney’s character in the movie “Up in the Air” because I automatically feel at peace when I step into an airport or a hotel room. In an airport, I love the feeling of going somewhere and of one’s every day routine being interrupted. 

I love the time to look out the window and think about life free of distractions. I love to read and write and people watch. And to sleep and day dream.

It is a most creative time. Even a spiritual time. A time when anything is possible – when you’re caught suspended between the clouds and earth. 

What a wonder.

Why I Love Nancy Drew

24 Jul

Nancy Drew and I go way back. I distinctly remember my mom taking me to “Toys R Us” when I was five years old to pick out my first book in the series. I didn’t know who this Nancy was but apparently my mom loved Nancy when she was a little girl and that was good enough for me. Staring up at the yellow spines, I picked my first book based on the cover. I chose “The Phantom of Pine Hill” which depicted a picture of Nancy in a blue pleated skirt dress and her boyfriend Ned Nickerson dressed as an Indian walking up a cliff in pursuit of a prowler in the distance. 

Nancy Drew books are big girl books so my mom had to read the first few out loud to me. We sat on the couch and I watched over her shoulder as she read chapters to me. I think this is how I learned to read. Once I knew the story, I would go back and re-read the books on my own. Within a few months, I was flying solo and completely hooked. 

Those of you that know my mom committed suicide know that I read Nancy Drew books as an adult whenever I need to feel close to mom. Re-reading some of the books helps me reclaim happy moments with her from my childhood. But reading Nancy Drew books also helps me relive the entire span of my childhood for I read Nancy Drew well into my pre-teens. 

In particular, Nancy Drew reminds me of summer. I spent all my school breaks in Wisconsin with my grandparents, traveling from San Diego to Madison and Milwaukee. Therefore, not only did I read Nancy Drew on the plane, I pretended I was Nancy Drew on the plane, for she too traveled a fair amount. I looked for suspicious strangers in the airport and took note of everyone sitting around me on the plane. When my grandmother and I would travel out to various local sites and “eat luncheon” at a quaint restaurant along the way, I likened this with Nancy’s hometown of River Heights. 

Nancy Drew was privileged. She lived in a spacious home with a circular driveway bordered by flower beds. She drove a convertible, didn’t work and any time a mystery required travel, her famous attorney father would book her and her two best friends flights. I drew parallels. I grew up somewhat privileged and lived in a spacious home with a circular driveway. I too lived with my attorney father who also booked me flights for myself and an occasional friend. And like Nancy, I tried to be kind, courageous, intelligent and independent. 

I’m sure Nancy went on to marry Ned Nickerson and continued leading a fabulous life solving mysteries. Mine took a different turn. The father I tried to convince myself was Carson Drew became a narcissistic drug addict and I definitely don’t lead the life of leisure of the eighteen year old Nancy. But I still love her dearly. I love her spunk. I love her talent. And I love her intelligence. I love the wholesomeness of a different era and the good memories reading about her adventures evoke in me. 

Yes, the books are outdated and in some ways racist and classist without meaning to be. Yet in other ways they are timeless. Because in the Nancy Drew series, a modern lady of class and substance was born. And girls today need role models. If I were a girl today, I’d read Nancy Drew in search of such a role model. And as a big girl, I still get a kick out of reading Nancy Drew – searching for that role model and a little summer escape.

When Things of the Spirit Come First

17 Jul

When death occurs, a most extraordinary thing happens: times stops and the only things that matter are those of a spiritual nature. In that, there is solace.


I have learned through my work and my personal nature, that I have to make room for “things of the spirit” to come first. Even when I don’t want to, I must. So on this weekend of the second anniversary of my mom’s death, I made certain that I drove out to our old church, “Our Lady of Grace” because I knew that if I didn’t I’d be sitting on blocked emotion. 

It’s weird how this particular church feels like one of the few tangible places I can go to remember my mom. I guess it’s because we spent so many Saturday evenings here in mass together. Over the course of my entire growing up. 

And it’s such a beautiful church (even though the photo is terrible as it is from my phone).

When I arrived, the church was open although they were cleaning it. The woman in the photo lovingly helps keep the church in order. It seemed fitting that the cleaning crew was there while I sat in the crying room and cried.

I wasn’t fully aware that I needed to cry until I drove into the parking lot. 

Today the yellow flowers bloom in my yard again. On schedule.

God and my mom wink at me. Reminding me that “things of the spirit come first.”

Bathing Beauties

17 Jul

My mom and I spent a lot of time at the pool. She loved to sunbathe and I loved to swim. 

The other day I came home from having been in the water. As often happens, the water had moved my emotions. I decided that I had better pause and acknowledge them. So I went out on the porch and sat down. And felt the sun caressing my skin. 

During the anniversary of my mom’s death, I feel her in the sun.

She used to sit watching me dive, do tricks and yes, contemplate my navel. 

We were two bathing beauties. And I miss that.

Get Away

11 Jul

The other day a sea lion was released back into the ocean after having been found underneath a cop car frightened and land-locked. He had to be rehabilitated at Sea World but on Friday, he was able to go back home to his natural habitat. He looked adorable in the newspaper photo and I couldn’t stop thinking about him all day swimming around in the sea. 

I am like that sea lion. I need water. I need quiet. I need my natural habitat. But every now and then I find myself in the metaphoric equivalent of being a sea lion trapped underneath a car – out of my element. 

I haven’t been surfing in two weeks which means I haven’t been in any kind of nature. And like that sea lion, I was starting to get a little freaked. But my dear neighbor let my friend and I come up to his cabin this weekend allowing us a true get away from the urban habitat that can feel like being underneath that cop car. And as we made our way further and further up in elevation, I suddenly felt relief. Like that sea lion, I was slipping back into the water. 


Do “Meet Cutes” Really Happen?

5 Jul

In Hollywood there is a term referred to as the “meet cute” where in a romantic comedy the lovers meet in some haphazard way. For instance, boy’s ice cream cone accidentally drops on girl’s lap making her initially furious until she realizes that said boy is her soul mate… You get the point. 

I actually hate romantic comedies. I think they are dumb and insult most of our intelligence. But maybe that is because I haven’t had a “meet cute” in a really long time and I’d feel differently if I had. 

So how do people meet people in today’s world? Is it something that is supposed to just happen or is it something that you’re supposed to take some initiative on?

Up until recently, I pretty much thought that if you’re supposed to fall in love, you will. It’s a God’s will kind of thing. And I guess I’m still pretty much of that mindset. But I don’t believe that old adage – “It will happen when you least expect it – when you’re not looking for it.” I don’t buy that because for the last ten years, I’ve pretty much stopped looking and have focused on living my life to the fullest. And that has been great but it hasn’t yielded Prince Charming or even many dates. 

One of the problems I have is that I simply don’t get lonely that often. I’m not someone who feels this great void in not having a mate to the point where I make dating and meeting men my number one priority. And thus, I don’t make it one. But something struck me the other day in my work with depressed seniors. Many of them have lost their spouses and friends to death and thus are depressed. And what they need just as much as therapy is simply to get out and meet people. So we advise them to come to our program and/or a senior center. Initially, they find this humiliating and irritating. They are grown people after all suddenly getting on a van like they are pre-school kids (if they no longer drive). Yet almost within a week, they suffer the humiliation for the gain of meeting friends – just like them. People who are intelligent, interesting and still vibrant – yet caught in the reality that their peers are dying. 

So the reality is that I am 41 and most people my age are married. It’s not easy to find people to date other than through internet dating, an activity I find annoying and like a full time job. There is none of the “meet cute” in this form of courtship. And I find it far more interesting to read my books or meet people in other ways. But maybe I am no different than my seniors.

Yes, fate is in the hands of God but am I willing to take at least a little initiative to try and meet people outside of my circles that seem to have very few single men? 

I’m not certain.


5 Jul

In the book of John, there is much talk about signs as opposed to the word miracle. The siginificance of this is that it points to something beyond the scope of the immediate miracle. Personally, I am a big fan of “signs.”

The above picture is of a particular cactus that blooms in my yard about once a year. As the anniversary of my mom’s death approaches, I recall that this particular flower bloomed during the week I was making her funeral arrangements.

I’ll never forget seeing that flower – that sign. My best friend had just left my house. It was 10:00 pm. We had been putting together photographs for the memorial and picking the songs that she’d sing. I had gone through my mom’s belongings that morning. And I was exhausted but filled up. I remember turning on my porch light and stepping out onto my back patio. And there, awash in moonlight was this cactus in full splendor. A yellow flower – my mom’s favorite color. As my eyes roved from the catus to the moon, I saw that the telephone pole near the fence looked amazingly like a cross. And in that moment, I felt both my mom and Jesus. And that everything was going to be all right. 

Anniversaries of deaths are weird. Anniversaries of suicides ever more strange. I’ve been dreaming intensely the last few days as the countdown begins to all the markers surrounding my mom’s death. Her release from jail, the day I received her suicide note, the day the police called me, the day I identified the body. I see scenes from my life like a montage in a film and can’t prevent this in my slumber. 

But they too are signs. Signs from God. That everything is all right.

And that there is beauty.