“Village” People

SL Village

While running a loop from our apartment to and around the Silver Lake reservoir, I noticed the above sign affixed to the awning outside a small shop on Silver Lake Blvd just south of Effie.

You know your neighborhood has been gentrified–and likely overrun with hipsters–when the smattering of coffee houses, restaurants and independently owned shops have been dubbed a “village”.

But if you’re honest with yourself, you probably already knew this a decade earlier when the family-owned Italian restaurant couldn’t afford to renew their lease and the funky ‘zine stand run by one of the neighbors in your rent-controlled apartment building went out of business. And then there was the bakery with the charming mismatched and hand-painted chairs and tables that had to move out to the low-rent suburbs; one of those informal breakfast spots in which you walk past the kitchen to get to the restroom situated between cartons of coffee and bags of flour.

I don’t begrudge the new merchants their day in the sun. It’s just that I miss Michelangelo’s–where my husband and I treated our parents to dinner after our wedding ceremony on the rooftop of the Beverly Hills courthouse–being walking distance from our apartment. I miss the thoughtful selection of journals and hand-made poetry books offered at ‘Zine-orama. I miss saying hello to the Backdoor Bakery pastry chef who made the tastiest almond croissants for miles around. I suppose I just find it ironic that a place that has been dubbed a “village” is far less village-like than it was before it was given that moniker.

A Motorcycle Story

[from my fill-in-the-blank riding journal]

Weather: perfect for riding; Temp: 70 degrees; Departure mileage: 38, 722

Type of ride/trip: ye olde maintenance loop; up La Cañada to La Crescenta to 210 freeway east to 2 freeway south, off at Mountain and down the hill past Glendale Community College back to La Cañada.

Worst/best event: not riding motorcycle for two weeks

Motorcycle performance: good; Why?: Not excellent only because I haven’t ridden in two weeks, so battery was low. Got it started once, but I walked away to let it idle for a few minutes, and when it shut off, I couldn’t get it started again. I was going to ride to an appointment with Dr. Tasoff, but when the battery was too weak to restart the engine, I gave up and drove to the appointment.

Mileage ridden: 19 miles

Will I do this ride again? Yes… if I don’t sell the motorcycle first.

Notes: Recent running injury to my piriformis muscle made sitting on the seat a little painful.

Rune #23: Wunjo

Is joy is ‘J’ and means joy and ecstasy.

Like the joy of reuniting with our fur babies Langston and Michele, the kittens named for poets whose writing brings me joy, too.

Like the ecstasy of crossing the finish line at a race for which you’ve spent months training and the ecstasy of sour cherry pie with coffee at the end of a 14-mile training run.

The joy of a cold beer at the end of a long day of physical labor under a hot sun.

The joy of seeing fireflies for the first time–winking at you during a walk at twilight.

The ecstasy of reaching a mountaintop and seeing the ocean way off in the distance.

The joy of encouraging young poets and writers to express themselves, then read their published work out loud to friends and families.

Storytelling via Texting

[four girlfriends waiting for a flight back to Los Angeles, another waiting for a flight to Portland, trying to glimpse our friend who is at the next gate over for her flight to San Francisco]

Holly: So close and yet so far away!

Karen: Turn around!

Danielle: [sad emoji]

Holly: If only… [sad emoji]

Karen: Can you see us?


[Danielle runs over to the next gate, hugs Holly one more time]

Karen: We were trying to wave at you but couldn’t see you.

Holly: [sad emoji] Welp. Getting ready to board.

Karen: Love you Holly! [with heart and kiss emoji]

Holly: [heart, kiss, balloon, cat, dog, chicken emojis]


[to my husband]

me: Good morning my love. [hearts] Will be on my way home to you soon, but first… coffee!


molecular structure of caffeine

husband: I’m taking this [voice recognition error: he means “us”] to an event this Friday night so don’t book anything.

me: Okay [grin emoji] Goin’ out with my Johnny. [2 hours later:] Looks like our flight will be delayed. I’ll let you know new arrival time when I get it. [an hour later:] ETA is now 5:45. See you in 4 hrs baby!

husband: I’ll be there. Love you.


me: I’m off the plane.

husband: I’m in traffic and probably your phone is off so the time right now is 5:25. I can still make it on time if this traffic gives up but I will keep you posted. I love you and can’t wait to see you. [later:] I’m on my way soon to be on the 105 I think that’s the name of the freeway off the 110 if it’s too cold to wait outside wait inside and I will text you as soon as I’m approaching the airport. I love you see you soon. [later:] I’m almost there please come on out front and wait for me at the arrival section I’m in the Zion [voice rec error: he means “Scion”]

me: Ok, will be out there in a few minutes.

husband: Look for me I will text you if I have to take an orbit around the airport otherwise expect me to be there and look for me.

[As soon as I get out to the curb, I begin texting him the number on the pillar I’m standing next to, when I see him approaching and begin waving my arms happily in anticipation of our reunion.]

Holiday Helter-Skelter

[from Poets & Writers Jan/Feb 2018 fiction prompt]

What if we celebrated un-Memorial Day today? Should it be renamed Forgetful Day? It will be the day that we forget to fight the wars in which all those soldiers are killed; the ones we are honoring and remembering on Memorial Day. Or, it could be the day we forget soldiers who died in battle, because we’ll forget that we ever thought we needed to fight and kill each other.

Such proposals would certainly lead to lots of hate mail and death threats. How many dead soldiers want to rise up and kill me for suggesting such a thing? How many of their family members want to wring my neck with their own hands?

An alternative proposal: keep the name Memorial Day, but make it the holiday on which we remember and celebrate people who were never trained to kill other people in battle. It can be the day we celebrate pacifists as a reminder that killing our fellow human beings is a failure of our humanity; that fighting in wars and killing each other is to be condemned rather than celebrated.



[from Poets & Writers prompt: “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”]

A short personal essay that delves deep into my experiences and memories? If it’s short, how deep can it be? How can 40 years of friendship be distilled into a short essay? How can I fit banana Twinkies and five young women recently graduated from high school on vacation in Hawaii; those five plus two more and add in ten husbands, seven children, three divorces, two motorcycle accidents, several college degrees and dozens of jobs and moves to Austin, Portland, and Santa Rosa? How is it even possible to gloss over breast cancer survival times two and clinical depression times three? Where does the phrase “You’re always after me lucky charms!” fit into such a brief narrative?

It won’t make any sense and lacks the laughter so essential to understanding how these six women and I have remained friends across the 40 intervening years. The story of these long-term friendships can’t be found in the words on this page. It can only be found in the vibrating mists and vast empty spaces such as are found between stars, nebulae and galaxies.

Goyles in Austin2018

Rune #22: name unknown

Here we are at the end of the alphabet with the phoneme for ‘Z’, though it’s not the last rune from which I’ll write.  There are only five days left to the end of “story a day in May” and I still haven’t learned anything about the rune poems, which are the source of the names and meanings from which I’ve been writing. I was more curious about those details when I started this project, but the timeless nature of their subjects and meanings has left me less so.

   (name unknown)  Phoneme: ‘Z’

Meaning: protection from enemies; defense of that which one loves

I love the latitude of interpretation afforded by “name unknown,” and am simultaneously intimidated by it. As to its meaning, humans have needed protection from their enemies and defended that which they love for as long as humankind has existed. Things I love and would defend:


My husband John


L+M Lap Kittens

our fur-kids/kittens Langston and Michele

Rune #21: Eihwaz

Eihwaz, the yew–the phoneme is ‘I’ as in “eye”–stands for strength and stability. A drooping branch from a yew tree that touches the ground can take root and form new trunks, an example of how things that seem separate to our eyes may actually consist of a continuation of unseen connections. All life on Earth is linked, even when we can’t explain or perceive the minutiae of those connections.

The yew tree is associated with death and resurrection, i.e. transformation. No energy is ever lost, only transformed and transported: from the rays of the sun to a bush of raspberries; from clouds to condensation.

Preparing for that transformation requires a great deal of strength and determination of purpose. It is the hardest work to do. So much of this work is not visible to the naked eye. Like the buildup of minute northerly movements of the Pacific tectonic plate against the southerly drift of the North American plate until one day they snag against each other along the San Andreas fault, shaking Californians from their beds.

Rune #20: Mannaz

Is a man, is augmentation, is support. Martin, or Marty, as he was known, was the epitome of support to his now renowned wife, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. What a yin and yang they seemed to be; beautifully matched.

Man as support and augmentation. Some of us are lucky that way.

Rune #19: Naudhiz

Naudhiz is a ‘need’ for an ‘N’ and its meaning goes to “unfulfilled desire.” For me, desire connotes something different from need, something closer to want.

Some unfulfilled desires: write short short fiction (rather than simply freewriting what’s on my mind) each day for the “story a day in May” project; complete a book-length work; publish a piece of writing once per year; read James Joyce’s Ulysses; travel through Russia; take a train across Canada; visit New Zealand; abolish killing; be the first woman to complete the Barkley marathon; slip out of my body without having to endure any pain or suffering; eat pie at every meal without gaining weight… well, now I’ve wandered into the territory of fantasy. I would consider all of the above items to be unfulfilled desires, rather than needs.

What do I need? Clothing to keep me warm, food and water, shelter from the elements, and companionship (animal or human.) That’s all I really need.