Now Let the Music Keep Our Spirits High


It’s been since August, and for that I’m ashamed. Funny how we keep those things sacred to us in the periphery–we think about them daily, but for whatever reason, can’t get to. Like this blog. Like very ill grandmothers.

I’m trying to remember the last time I saw my grandmother–5 years ago? Six? All I know is that I said goodbye to her 8 years ago after my Gram died. I went by myself, for selfish reasons. You see, my Gram and Grandma were great friends–somewhat of a rarity, so I’m told. When I called my grandma the week after my gram died, she told me how sorry she was to hear of the passing of a great woman like Vicki. My mom. That was August. That’s when I noticed. She wouldn’t forget my Gram.

In December, I took a day off work to see her. I flew to San Diego for just for the day, and rented a car. Hoping that seeing her would feel closure for my gram. Dementia is horrible. It replaces the one you love and have fond memories of with a complete stranger. There had been warning signs, but I had always had my parents as buffers. I won’t go into unpleasantries, but I had to take an unexpected day off to was rough.

Fast forward to a week ago. It’s getting closer, my grandma’s departure–93, outliving every friend and family member except the generations left behind. I hoped it would be fast. This woman who took me to my first musical. And second. The woman who was so different from my gram, who loved the arts almost as much as her friends and family. The grandma who traveled to Russia. And Romania, and France, and Norway after my grandfather died. She was the quirky one. The one who got why I sat crying at the revival of Showboat in New York City, when she took me for my graduation of a week-long theater tour to the Big Apple. I wish today I could remember what she said to me when Michel Bell sang the hell out of Old Man River and I cried. I think it was just her smile and an eyebrow saying, “told you”.

She said goodbye to this world today. All I know is that I loved her, even despite the lack of cards and calls on my end. It confused her. But what I remember is music. Billy Joel and Bing Martin and Neil Diamond. Her love for Cheers. And Vanity fair (the magazine), all things San Francisco, her Irish granddaughter, and the list goes on.

i personally darken the lights on Broadway for you tonight, Grandma D. For you are the one who helped me love the sound of music in so many ways. I love you, and I’m so glad you’re at home now. Jackson Brown says it best tonight. Let the music keep our spirits high. It’s how she would want it.


Sneaky Feelings–Elvis Costello

Flyin’ Shoes–Lyle Lovett

Before the Deluge–Jackson Brown

Rock me Gently–SuperHeavy

That’s the Sound of Sunshine–Michael Franti

At the Zoo–Simon and Garfunkel


Open Your Big Eyes, Take in the Sunrise

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When I was a little girl, maybe 6…7, we would have Sunday night dinner at my Gram’s house. We would drive home at the end of the night, 2/5 of the car asleep, and we would suddenly fall above something I used to call Fairyland. Not sure if my parents or I coined the term, but it was at the top of the hill, where all the lights of Almaden would shine, and it was Fairyland. It was my favorite thing. I was reminded of it when I landed at SFO last week: Magic.

You see, lately, I feel very small. Not like I’m minuscule, or powerless, but as I’m always reminded, I’m just a piece in the puzzle we call life–a contributor.

I had several ups and downs this summer, from moments of helplessness, to feelings of being on top of the world. And I’m so happy to have experienced them both, along with the nuances in between.

It makes me human.

I’ve been thinking a lot about being human lately. Feeling very small. Friends have had babies, friends have dealt with loss. I was on a boat in the Chicago River in July with my mom, looking up at the great American Skyscraper, and I felt tiny. I was pulled inside the circus tent I bought my 2 year-old Goddaughter last week, and once again felt like a child. This summer, I experienced water balloons with 5-year-olds, a car break-in, and weeping like a child at the news that one of my students was finally in remission. I felt very small.

But not in a bad way.

When I was 22, wet behind the ears, fresh from college, I set out one morning to Clement street, a few blocks from where I lived, following rumors that I would run into Robin Williams, a “neighbor”. I was selling books back to Green Apple, one of the finest independent bookstores, which have always been close to my heart. Continue reading


Half of the Time We’re Gone, but we Don’t Know Where


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Godzilla Attack!

When I was 15, I experienced Mean Girls. Ok, we know that’s not true–I definitely experienced Mean Girls way before I was 15, but they didn’t associate with me. They were usually the cool kids, and I wasn’t. But when I was 15, that changed. My circle of friends branched off, and the newly cooler half tormented the rest of us. Maybe they didn’t, maybe that’s just how it felt.

The closest thing I have felt to that since was a few years ago, when a grown up Mean Girl, a co-worker, belittled me frequently, often in front of her students. Behind closed doors, she told me that the reason my students (who were one of those groups that simply complained about everything, and never turned in any work) didn’t turn things in was because of me–that I was a bad teacher. I was back to 15 years old again, when someone–my peer, made me feel inferior. And I was so overwhelmed, and stressed, and baffled that I began to believe it.  Continue reading


Love Can Mend Your Heart But Only If You’re Lucky Now


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Beads of Courage

I’ve been thinking all day about this post; about my wording, about whether or not I will cry as I write, or if instead I will beam with pride, like I did this afternoon (until I left the room and let the tears out).

The picture at the top depicts a small portion of one very long strand of beads–special beads. They are Beads of Courage. I had never heard of these before. One of my students has been battling cancer for 7 years, and she has been in and out by the day all year long. November was a very close call, and after a deep depression and a home visit by me, I persuaded her to return to school and be the girl she had always been again. It took a week, but she came back.


She had chemo on Tuesday and wasn’t planning on returning this week, but her counts were so high, and she felt so great, she came today, beaming as always.  And with a bag she could not wait to show me and my coworker.

Before I continue, I started writing on song 1. I am now on song 5, and it’s as if someone or some thing chose the songs for me tonight. I’m almost spooked by it. All 6 are special songs to me, in their own rite. And I checked. None of them have yet to play on MWOAS. I don’t know how it’s possible.

So out came this strand of beads. It wrapped around her neck 4 times, hanging nearly to her thighs. My coworker and I held 2/3 of the beads, as she held the other third, smiling, as she told us the black beads were for lab work, orange for Continue reading

I Ain’t Lookin’ for Prayers OR Pity


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My current list of irrational fears:

  • That an enormous earthquake will occur while at the gym and the the moorish dome above my elliptical  will collapse on me.
  • That I have gained 45 pounds since September.
  • That I will be single and lonely forever.
  • That I use too much water, not because we are in a drought, but because I fear this kind of crap.
  • That I have buckets of yarn, and no finished product.
  • That I have lost me.


My current list of rational fears:

  • That an enormous earthquake will happen while I am asleep and the books by my bed will crash down on me.
  • That I have gained 12.8 pounds since September.
  • That I am currently single and lonely for now.
  • That I use too much water taking baths, but not because I drink enough water.
  • That I have buckets of yarn.
  • That I have lost a little bit of me over the past four months.

It’s been a hell of a few months–one filled with growing, learning, stress-eating, a lack of exercise, and yes, sacrificing my passions and interests for the sake of this new job. I knew this would happen 1. because this always happens when a major change comes into my life, and 2. that I have let it happen. 

The other day, at the apex of my stress and frustration and lack of sleep and exercise, my mom had a good Coming to Jesus with me, and told me to start small and things will work their way back to the way I want them. I went home, didn’t go to the gym, took to Benadryl, and went to bed at 9:30. I woke up a quasi-new person. So the next day, I didn’t stress the smaller things at work, and got over my intimidation with a coworker who refuses to follow the rules of teaching some of my more learning disabled students. I took charge, was firm, and refused to take no for an answer. I ate lunch with coworkers, and left at 3:30. I went to the gym, took a long walk after, and went to bed. 

Today I had a bit of what I like to call a shit sandwich. I had to meet with an auditor for California’s Department of Education to ensure Continue reading