Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Feel Bad About Nora Ephron

Nora Ephron died today. At least according to the NY Times and many other news agencies. For me, Nora will never die. Her intelligence and her humor and her ability to laugh with and at herself live on in film and in my heart.

Like Nora, I Feel Bad About My Neck. Like Nora, I Remember Nothing. Like Nora, I survived divorce and emerged from the ugliness with renewed hope and stories whose goodness is based on their fundamental awfulness.

Nora's work entertained; her attitude inspired. She rose above. She illustrated living well as the best revenge, especially when you no longer need or want revenge.

As Nora aged, the geese she once loved began to annoy her. She turned her attention to hummingbirds, saying, "I love to watch them because they're so busy getting the most out of life."

Like Nora herself. Reading stories of her life and loves, I think, I'll have what she's having.

Blessings to you, Nora. And to all you love.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hope Floats

Checked the air in my tires before riding the beach path this morning. A man in a park services truck stopped to tell me the guys in the maintenance shed had air and would help me. I have no trouble using my hand pump with its built-in gauge, but the man was so kind, I felt compelled.

At the shed, another very kind young man checked my tires and asked how far I planned to ride. "Good for you," he said. "Don't give up. Riding your bike is very good exercise. You can do it."

Half a mile down the road, an extremely handsome man about my age pedaled up. "Look at you!" he said. You're going 12-and-a-half miles an hour! Good job!" We chatted for a few minutes before he picked up his pace and pedaled away. "You're doing great," he said. "Don't give up!"

A young woman wearing rollerblades cautiously stepped onto the path. Made-to-order boobs. Fully extended, bleached blonde hair. Eyebrows arched into permanent surprise. Kewpie doll lips shellacked with Kiss Me Kate pink gloss. A bikini top covered with turquoise sequins peeked from beneath a neon-pink t-shirt sliding off her shoulders. The front of her shirt read, "Wild Chick."

Another rollerblader on the Venice boardwalk. Black socks, black shorts, black t-shirt. Black and silver hair past his shoulders, hanging beneath a "cowboy hat" made from Jack Daniels cartons. In one black gloved hand, he held a clear plastic cup aloft like a torch. Pale amber liquid sloshed back and forth but not a drop spilled. "Breakfast! Breakfast!" he yowled.

At the end of the road, a homeless man lounged in the shade of a recycling can. Matted hair of an undetermined color. Plaid shirt and khaki shorts stiff with salt, sweat and sand. Layers of battered silver duct tape held the soles of his black Vans to the uppers. A clear plastic bag filled with hundreds of aluminum cans supported his back and another filled with plastic bottles cushioned his legs. Lips moving in silent rhythm, he traced the lines of a racing form.

Don't give up?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why You Always Got to Be Running?

Dad's been in the hospital since Sunday. Pneumonia. Good news, though: He's better and ready to go home tomorrow.

After talking to someone who recently read big chunks of this blog, I re-read many, many posts last weekend. So many are about Mom and Dad and the sweetness of their relationship. On Father's Day when I couldn't reach Dad and then found out he was in the ER and then being admitted to the hospital, those posts haunted me.

Talked to Dad today. He's thrilled about the hospital room he's in. It's so comfortable for Mom, he says -- almost like a small apartment. It's not terribly important this time, he thinks, but he's glad to know she'll have these luxuries available when he's hospitalized for the final time.

Walking to my car later, I passed the jewelry store. Tears streaming down my face, I asked those watches, "Why you always got to be running?"

Couldn't hear their answer but felt every tick, right through the plate glass window.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

100 Things Before I Go, Redux

Some of you -- the extraordinarily patient among you -- have been reading long enough to remember my Life List. Back then, I had a good handle on the reasons for the list. "...writing them down forms a commitment with your soul to reach further. To live bigger. And smaller. To remember that we all go. To recognize the time is now."

Yet another of the threads I dropped in the long haul to my new job and new life LA. (sigh)

But this summer is about picking up those threads, about beginning again. Today I started a Spark board for my 100 Things, a pictorial journal of the list and my progress.

Building the board, I was forced to recognize that I've missed the boat on some things. For example, Over the Transom Books in Fairhope Alabama, no longer exists. I no longer live close enough to the Katy Trail to ride it easily. On the other hand, now it will be a lot easier to meditate at the Joshua Tree and drive the PCH and visit Yosemite. (Who know CA loomed so large in my dreams?)

Anyway, check out the Spark board if you get a chance. May it renew your commitment to your own dreams.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Tale of Sunglasses, Foolishness and Self Awareness

Hanging out at Maker Faire in San Mateo this weekend, I pushed my nearly-new Ray Bans to the top of my head as I stepped into the Expo building. I know better.

Actually, I know better than to buy good sunglasses. I'm more of a $13.99-Target-special kind of girl when it comes to things I can misplace or lose or damage. But...I succumbed to peer pressure here in LaLa Land and bought cool shades. We can talk about that later. (sigh)

So, there I was, gold John Lennons on head, when something shiny caught my eye. I looked down to the floor and felt the glasses slide toward the concrete floor and their doom. My stomach fell at approximately the same rate as the glasses. Examining one shattered lens, I had no one to be mad at but myself.

On Monday, I stopped in at Sunglass Hut on the Promenade, hoping they could replace the damaged lens. Lo and behold, they replaced the glasses. Free. Even though I had not purchased the glasses at that particular store. Even though the damage was entirely my fault. Even though they did not carry the same style.

Moral of the story: 1) shop at Sunglass Hut; 2) keep your receipts; 3) if you're going to do something stupid, do it within 90 days of purchase.

What's that? The moral should be "Keep the glasses on your face or in the case," you say. Yes, it should be. But we all know me better than that, don't we?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Not in Kansas (City) Anymore #2

Stories gathered from one morning commute:

A young man in his 20s, steering his beach cruiser with one hand. From the crown of his gray felt fedora to the tips of his brown brogans, he was dressed in clothing twice as old as he. The starched front of his white dress shirt was tucked neatly into the waistband of his black Sans-a-belt slacks. He held his left arm held tightly to his back with his fist pressed against two large black buttons sewn onto his pants. At a stoplight, he used both hands to steady the bike but when the light turned green, he ceremoniously reclenched his fist and tucked it back against the buttons. Cirque du Soleil artist? Or wanna be?

A rooster crowing up the sun from the grounds of a $20 million Brentwood mansion. Real-life Beverly Hillbillies?

A ridiculously handsome young male runner holding his arms at shoulder level with his elbows bent up much like the position TSA requires in airport scanners. As he ran, he growled repeatedly, "I'm a criminal. I'm a criminal. I'm a criminal." Actor practicing his lines?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Observations at The Grove

Spent a couple hours at The Grove, one of my favorite people watching spots in LA. Sipping a raspberry lemon drop and watching the crowd, I mentally composed a witty (read: snarky) post about the inverse relationship between height and hairline of an older single man and the age of his date. At some point, the snark became obvious, and I thought, "What would MON do?"

Clearly, my dear Michelle would focus on the positive. So...

Few things are sweeter than adult men or women holding an elderly parent's hand. Treating your elders kindly and with deference says something true and good about your character and about the lessons they taught you.

American Girl Doll parties give little girls reasons to dress and act like ladies.

Something is right with the world when you have to wait in line for 20 minutes to buy a book.

Seeing a movie becomes an event in a theatre with crystal chandeliers and uniformed ushers.

Dancing fountains bring out the little kid in everyone.

Your day brightens when you look for the positive and the happy. (Thanks, Michelle.)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Not in Kansas Anymore #1

The man is tall, dark, and must have been handsome before living on the streets wore away the pretty. His grizzled hair bursts away from his head like springs escaping pressure. The blanket wrapped round his shoulders is so dirty you can't tell what color it is...or was.

Facing a storefront, the man shouts, "Why you gotta do me like that? Didn't I promise I'd always watch out for you? Didn't I? But you...you running. Always running. Why you always gotta be running?"

As I pass the windows, I see through the man's reflection to a display of $5,000 watches. Running.

Photo credit: Chris Willis, Wikimedia

Sunday, May 06, 2012


At this moment, I am 20 yards from the ocean, leaning against a palm tree while I work just a little on this gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

My acute awareness of the beauty around me may be aided by two pomegranate lemonades served oceanside on the wharf in Santa Barbara, but even sans generous splashes of Grey Goose, I know how unlikely all this is.

On Thursday, the CEO greeted me with, "Jerri, how is it that you look younger every time I see you?"

Well-meaning though it was, his comment pointed out that I am a Bubba out of water. The next oldest person in the entire company is 14 years younger than I will be come Tuesday.

And yet, here I am, under this palm tree, beside this ocean. Life's funny that way.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Topless in the Sunshine


My beloved bug convertible, Paula, is a real California girl now! Her convertible top wasn't working when I got her back from repairs after that Tahoe rear-ended us last fall. I took her back to the body shop, but they said everything was ship-shape from their end. Today I finally got around to taking her to a VW dealership, and -- sure as the world -- the body shop had forgotten to reconnect the hydraulic motor to the sensors that drive it. It's too bad they didn't recognize the issue, but they're great folks who definitely did their best. And anyway, now the problem is solved and Paula is topless in the sunshine!

I'm headed to Malibu for the afternoon.

Like so many things I think, say and write these days, that's not a sentence I ever imagined uttering. But, bidden or unbidden, God is present. And I'm headed to Malibu.

All I can think is "thank you, thank you, thank you."

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Emperor Has No Dinner

I am not hip enough for Venice, CA.

My boss and his wife and I had dinner at a tapas restaurant/wine bar with a job candidate and his wife in Venice last night. As the beautiful day slipped into a slightly chilly evening, the restaurant staff turned on a combination of pillar-like gas burners and heat lamps hanging from the trellis surrounding the patio. Quite cozy.

The menu was eclectic and interesting -- asparagus with prosciutto, cheese platters, an olive and almond platter, bacon wrapped dates. The server recommended we order eight selections, which seemed reasonable for five people.

When the "cheese platter" arrived, I struggled not to laugh out loud. It contained about half a tablespoon of a creamy cheese, a cube of cheese about half the size of a piece of string cheese, and a 2-inch square of cheese sliced so thin you could read Salon.com through it.

When I order asparagus, I expect...spears of asparagus. Not here in Venice. The dish -- meant to share with five people -- consisted of three leaves of baby lettuce, one chip of prosciutto, and six or eight dots of asparagus that collectively could not have equalled half a stalk.

The place was filled with folks paying $20 a plate for a nickel's worth of food. No one (including me) pointed out that the emperor was not only naked, he was hungry.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


One of the best things about working in Santa Monica is the wide variety of seriously good restaurants that surrounds us. My day is slammed today, so when I heard a group heading off to a place called "True Food," I asked someone to bring me back a sandwich. Later, my boss asked where I was getting food, and what. "True Food. Tempeh, lettuce and tomato sandwich." His laughter reminded me that back home, few people would consider a TLT true food. Ever more evidence -- We are not in Kansas (City) any more.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Bluebird of Happiness

Back in LA after a long weekend in Little Rock, AR and then the Ozark Mountains. The drive from LR to Springfield, MO takes you through some of the prettiest country you'll ever see. Hawks glide through cerulean skies (That's a $10 word and this is Dollar Store country, but it's the only one I know that even comes close.) Roads snake through cuts blasted into bedrock, stories to infinity and beyond written in layers. Rivers run. Life abides.

Flying out last Thursday, I read The Happiness Project. (Yeah, I know. A little behind the times. Reading is another thing that got lost in the big push that resulted in my move to LaLa Land.) Driving around, hanging with my peeps, I thought, "This. This is what makes me happy. These mountains and these people and this life. I could be happy here." I thought how nice it would be to retire back in the mountains, "from whence commeth my strength." I savored the wide open space, the deep green foliage, the rhythm of the life and the language.

Back in LA this morning, I started the day with a 20-minute walk for coffee. Air perfumed with year-round flowers. Streets lined with palm trees. A barista greets me by name and starts my favorite drink when she sees me open the door. Words from Abraham Lincoln come to mind, "Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be."

Actual bluebirds are native to the Ozarks, but the bluebird of happiness thrives wherever you nurture it. This late-in-life adventure needs a unique backdrop. The landscape here is not the landscape imprinted on my heart and mind, but it is gorgeous in its own way. I am so blessed to be here now. Gratitude for the life I have is what makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hello Again

It's been so long. I miss writing and reading and thinking as a blogger. I miss my seat at this table of women, the view of your lives and loves, joys and pain. I miss you, and I miss myself as one of you.

Many of you know that I've traded the reflections on the pond for reflections on the ocean -- for at least a while. The sparkles are brighter and the tides roll in and out, but my reflections are pretty much the same. I still find myself diving into Dumpsters after car keys. Still get hopelessly lost on a regular basis. Still work too long and too much.

Differences exist -- some superficial; some real. My hair stylist walks Goldie Hawn to the door and then turns to greet me. Tatum O'Neil and Rob Reiner are seated at nearby tables at lunch. I sit 15 feet from the President of the United States in a meeting and shake his hand afterward.

But...wherever I go, there I am -- no matter who's at the next table. The view changes, but the essence of the story goes on.