On missing Roma

“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearnings.” Giotto de Bondone

“…the grandeur that was Rome…” from “To Helen” by Edgar Allan Poe

I am finally recovering from my bout of blues. I slept for seven hours last night, in fits and starts as has been my habit since I became a parent, but much better than four or five hours for sure. My appetite has returned. Yesterday was one of my typically busy days: exercise, work, socializing, shuttling my daughter to class, cooking dinner, spending time with our new puppy. I am home, nearly a week after I boarded several planes to make my way home.

When I visit any destination for more than a couple of days, I do experience homesickness. I find that I also experience a sort of vacation-sickness once I am home, that I do feel a temporary sense of loss and yearning to be back in my home away from home.  The longer I stay, the longer I may miss that other place, that different life. 

My third visit to Rome was nothing short of transformative. Almost as soon as I stepped into the humidity and heat of a Roman summer, I felt a great sense of relief, freedom, and possibility. Granted the trip was a 40th birthday present to me and my little family, so it makes sense that it would feel like a milestone and/or emotional journey. It was both. 

I do miss the cobblestones beneath my feet. The heat. The crowds on the trains and on the city streets. The expanse of sky.  The dark coolness of little churches and immense cathedrals.

But I’m no longer sad. 

Twenty years later

Twenty years have passed since I graduated from high school and despite all I have achieved, I can’t help but feel like an outsider. I gladly refused an invite to cocktails last night with old acquaintances, choosing instead to tidy up our clutter-filled home and hang out with my toddler. Blues has started working the night shift so my little one and I are a duo until his weekends(which come every 7 working days.) I could have gotten the grandparents to babysit but they will care for her tonight and this workweek looks to be filled with evening commitments. But I didn’t need the alibi. I simply didn’t want to go.

It is empowering to choose solitude. It’s very different than being purposefully left out as in decades past. Maybe my peers sensed my need to have my own space. Or maybe they were just being kids. I hold no grudges. I’ll be happy to chitchat with any of them at tonight’s 20- year class reunion. But I’ll be equally happy on my little corner of the dance floor or laughing it up with my one best friend from high school. I know who I am now. I can only hope my daughter makes that discovery in less than two decades.

Video Therapy: The 80s

“You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The song that should have been at the SuperBowl! This post-apocalyptic video features leather-clad band members driving a DeLorean hovercraft in a barren desert. They happen upon a boombox playing the song and a tent containing antiquated audio/video equipment like reel tape players, black and white TVs, and an arcade game. They also find a mint condition guitar with leopard shoulder strap. The end of the world always looks so Mad Max.

“Pretty Woman” by Van Halen
I don’t know why this video got burned into my memory. It is strange as only an 80s cover of a Roy Orbison classic could be. Two midgets are torturing a leggy woman tied between two wooden posts. The hunchback watching the proceedings on a closed circuit TV calls for help from some very macho men: a samurai(Michael Anthony), a Tarzan lookalike(Alex Van Halen), and a cowboy(Eddie Van Halen.) They rush to the aid of the damsel in distress and are joined by a Napoleon Bonaparte wannabe in a stretch limo(David Lee Roth.) Then the boys get the biggest surprise yet. People complain the intro is too long but the guitar is 80s wicked.

“Jeopardy” by the Greg Kinh Band
Before he became a radio announcer and author, Greg Kinh was a rock musician. One of his biggest hits is one of my favorite videos of all time. Cheap special effects, tentacled monsters and zombies, and cameos by San Francisco’s beautiful Mission Dolores and the Lutheran church across the street make this cautionary tale about marriage hilarious.

“Thriller” by Michael Jackson
Blame it on those dancing lizards. This is the ultimate dance routine and you know you agree. Check out YouTube for versions by Filipino prisoners, college kids, and Bollywood actors but nothing compares to the original when Michael still looked black (and cute!)

Honoring a lost friend

I learned a lot from Charlene Brown. I met her at Columbia University in July 2004. We were roommates while enjoying a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study the Renaissance. We became friends right away. We shared a love of musicals and plays, art, good food, and the marvel that is New York City. We were also comrades, the only openly religious members of the summer teaching institute, and therefore supported one another when anti-religion ideas were put forth.I will never forget Charlene’s smile and her gentle manner. I am sad to learn she has lost her battle with cancer.

One of my fondest memories of that New York summer was rushing back to Morningside Heights in a rainstorm one night after watching a show. We were drenched but laughing all the while as we ducked into doorways and hopped puddles. Our shoes were damp for days.

I never kept my promise to visit Charlene in the Central Valley. We kept in touch via cards and emails. The last time we corresponded, she was hopeful about treatment and focused on her teaching. I am happy to learn she kept teaching history throughout her battle with her illness and that her funeral was a huge celebration of her career and life.

Now I know she’ll never miss a show and she will always lift a prayer.


I’m a sucker for singing rodents

Alvin and the Chipmunks
Movie Review

I wasn’t into the Chipmunks in the 80s. I much preferred the 60s classic cartoon and my all-time favorite Christmas song,”The Chipmunk Song.” (One of my high school bffs even got me a hula hoop!) I had mixed feelings about the 07 computer animated holiday blockbuster. After all, Hollywood has definitely gone green as far as recycling ideas goes. And what in the world happened to Jason Lee? He went from Kevin Smith fave to family-friendly comedian(loved him in Underdog). Nevertheless, I’m a sucker for chubby little Theodore. So I did my usual weekend matinee with Mom. Though it didn’t have much depth, it was light and fluffy, perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Still playing in multiplexes everywhere

Surefire ways to make shagirl cry

The Frankie Knuckles remix of “Don’t want to” by Toni Braxton, which is both drag queen divalicious and romantic bittersweet. Abba’s “Chiquitita” and its message of hope. Watts letting me kiss his baby goodbye. Memories of holding my Play Brother’s hand and of the unearthly scent of roses.

What to do?!?

I have it all. Brains, beauty, a Cal education, a house of my own, a decent relationship with my parents, a commitment to my own health, strong faith, and the greatest group of friends any human could desire. I’m dating again. I’m crushing on someone again. I’m partying and exercising again. My life is exactly how it should be, a year after it all started to come apart.

But I miss the one person who has truly broken my heart. I miss his friendship. I miss knowing he thought the world of me at one point in time. I miss his touch.

I don’t know how not to.

Upcoming Anniversaries

My Play Brother came to me in a dream two weeks ago. I had been angry because Soldier had been in my dream and it made me miss him again, despite my excitement over new prospects. So I wished for my Play Brother and he returned. He is watching over me.

It is that time of year again. When my world changed forever. When my mind began to come undone. So much loss to death and mental illness.
Yet so much foundation for change, growth, evolution.

On my favorite TV show,Degrassi, a favorite character battles cancer. I cannot cry. I have a date this evening and I don’t want to be sad like I was that night in my college town, when a date I had so eagerly anticipated went awry. So I look for Beatles lyrics and remember.

2300 miles away, the man who vanished drinks, laughs, breathes. Does he think of me?

And across the universe, an angel sends forth all the love this world deserves. All for me.

mujer necia

aun no entiendo porque no te puedo olvidar. se que parezco un personaje de un triste bolero o de una ranchera, lleno de esperanzas, lagrimas, e ilusiones. hasta cuando tendre todos estos recuerdos? hasta cuando sentire tu silencio, tu desprecio?

cuanta quisiera estar cerca de ti.