Home Skeleton


The home skeleton left nothing to be remorseful about. Faded stains of traffic along the carpet, trails that took us from room to room, where we once sat, ate, read, slept, laughed, loved, screamed, hated; now open, breathing light.

The dog sniffed the ground and looked up. I wonder what can she can know from smells.

Evidence of a lineage lay scattered; objects left behind: Grandfather’s stethoscope and book on spines, M0m’s book of prayers next to a broom and dustpan, Dad’s tripod and dresser made of yellow plastic bamboo.

I look out at the crusted snow, the fallen fence, the dusty tree, poetic reminders of a family who might love, but not well enough. Not right now, maybe later, maybe never.

I tell Bill I never want to come back here.

He tells me, never say never.

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Stranger and Stranger

Sometimes I see an aspect of me I don’t understand. I see it in the post office when your eyes meet mine and I smile. You frown and look the other way. I suppose that being at the post office is a serious game to you or maybe, you think I’m hitting on you.

I buy a stamp and walk through the parking lot. I smile again, this time at a man in his winter parka, unzipped in 20 degree weather. I imagine he has no one to remind him it’s cold and he smiles back and tells me I’m cute as I fumble to get back into my car, pretending I can’t hear what he said.


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My Mom Was a Beatnik, and Used to Pretend to be Dead at the Bottom of the Stairs

Backyard of House on Wagon Lane.

Backyard of House on Wagon Lane.

We are cleaning Mom’s house and putting it up for sale. The ghosts in there haunt me. I see my mother’s feet and shoes underneath the dresses hanging in the closet and have to look twice. It’s so quiet there that every unexplained sound alerts me to question it. I make Bill wake up and stay awake when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

I’m finding pictures and poems that Mom wrote, and feel like I have a better idea of who she was before she became my mom. I never knew she was a poet, why hadn’t she told me that before?

Mom as a beat-nic by the sea.

Mom as a beatnik by the sea.

And then there’s Lola, Mom’s mother, my grandmother, in the distance or foreground of these pictures, never smiling, always sad. I asked my mom about this once and she said it was because Lola was missing her. And it’s true, I flip the photograph over to see the words written, Inang (which means ‘mother’ in Tagalog) misses you very much. I wonder how Mom lived with that kind of guilt hanging over her head all these years. I can’t imagine what it would be like to move a half a world away from home, the whole time Mom missing me. Maybe Mom felt confident in doing this because she knew Lola would not be left alone; she had a big family to depend on.

I never let myself go beyond dreaming of moving farther than an easy drive away. Maybe it was because Mom has always been dying, or pretending to be dead, like she would do at the bottom of the stairs when me and my brother misbehaved.

We would cry and poke at her, until she snapped screaming into life again.

People are horrified when I tell them this story and I agree, maybe it wasn’t the best way to curb our behavior, but in retrospect, I think it’s rather hilarious.

I had forgotten about her playing possum until the first time I became overwhelmed by children myself. I was working at a daycare and the children simultaneously found out that if they all misbehaved at the same time, there was nothing I could do to stop them. They were like balloons filled with helium, giggling balloons, flying just beyond my reach. I felt the helplessness of the situation pulling me down to the ground. It surprised me. Was this reaction built into my DNA? I resisted the drive to fall lifeless, eyes closed (or not, I could just let them hang open in still gaze), foremost because I wasn’t sure it was legal, and also because I was certain the parents of the children in my care would not appreciate this tactic.

I know Mom inherited this from Lola, remembering when Lola lived with us and her reoccuring threat to my brother and I whenever we interrupted a boxing match on T.V., “Get me a knife and I will kill myself.”

My brother and I would then beg, “NOO Lola (sniffle, sniffle).”

E, Lola and Me

E, Lola and Me

Sometimes I wonder what Lola would had done had we been a different breed of children, and actually went and got that knife she asked for (this is an example of the dark humor I’ve inherited, sorry).

Mom also manipulated us into behaving with a number of things that either involved ghosts, possessions or a Mumo. It was terrifying. Then there was the one time the Mumo really did come, down like lighting and stood very still. It made the most shattering scream I’d ever heard, and when I tried to deny it was really there, it screamed again until I gave my brother his bottle back. No wonder I’m still afraid of ghosts to this day.


This is what the Mumo looked like, except thicker.

Mom still corrects my actions with fear whenever I reprimand her for calling me too early in the morning (sometimes as early and 4:30am, but never later than 6:30am). She will pause in silence, allowing me to reflect on what I said to her so early in the morn before explaining, “A day will come when I will not be able to call you at all, and you will be very sad.”

And it’s true and I cry inside imagining the blank spaces she would leave behind; the physical spaces, like her clothes and shopping on the weekends (I always miss my mom when I see her shoes by the door or when I shop without her), and the not so obvious spaces tangled deep inside my DNA, and in moments as inconspicuous as 4:30am.

Did your parents/guardians have any unconventional or eccentric tactics to keep you on your best behavior? Are you a parent that practices one? If so, I’d be lovely if you would share…

Happy New Year.

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The Essence of My Procrastinated Time

I’m supposed to be writing a research paper on a subject called, “Narratology”. Ever heard of it?  I know I’ll feel much better once it’s out of the way, but I just can’t make myself do it, at the moment anyway. Maybe after this post I’ll have a better mindset.

If time is of the essence (which it is concerning the research paper that I’m currently not writing) then the essence of my time these past few months was spent:

Study session at La Rev.

  • Trying to get smarter. Good food and a view of colorful pastries helps with this, or so I thought it would.

Getting ready to send.

  • Attempting to plan a wedding, only it feels as if I’m only talking about planning it and haven’t really planned anything at all. As long as the people I love and care about are there, I will be a happy clam bride.

  • Making hoops. Lots of them.

  • Falling asleep to Star Trek.

  • Visiting ocean side friends.

DC Tunnel.

  • Visiting citywide friends.

Bridal Shower

  • Observing that I am surrounded by incredibly intelligent, talented, creative, and loving women. Plus, they’re beautiful and quite lovely to look at, and one of them can make a killer avocado pie. Can you guess which one?

  • Trying to get smarter some more. Praying to get smarter too.

  • Wondering what the seeds I plant today will grow tomorrow.

  • Being thankful for time I get to spend with my family before….


I marry this guy.

What is the essence of your time?

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Into the Final Days and Counting

There was something about him that reminded me of the boy who slipped me a hand-written folded-up form with two boxes to choose from. I checked the box marked ‘yes’ with a dull pencil and handed it back. That was the most interaction I remember the two of us having. I’d point him out to the kids who didn’t know yet, “That’s my boyfriend.”

The memory of him was delivered through the smiling eyes of a boy, and for a second I was able to remember exactly what a love felt like inside of a 10 year-old’s heart. It felt like looking down from a rainbow, dizzy and innocent, star-struck and shy. Puppy love.

Puppies at the park.

That’s also when I first noticed that they’ve been coming around: the people I’ve let into my heart. They are only a few you know. In the great scheme of things, there’s only so many you can fit into your heart in a lifetime, even if you’re Captain Kirk, who seems to have had one every day.

They’ve come around to pay their last respects. Some are real, some are ghosts of my imagination.

“But it isn’t dying,“ I say.

“Well, similar,“ I say back, “in that it is a rite of passage, an end and a beginning. Sacred.”

“How special and soulful,” I say.

“And they’ve all come around to pay their respects.”

“But it isn’t dying,” I say.

“But you used to go dancing,” I say, “ALL the time.”

So I went dancing like I used to…when and always up until I found Bill. At the end of the night when the lights flickered on, I ran into another one and remembered. It cracked my heart a little to see he was glad to see me too and suddenly it welled up in me to tell him that I wanted him to know that,”you do know that I love you, right?

I was proud of what I said. After all, I could have said anything in the world that I wanted to, but I chose those words.

I wondered if he knew what I meant, “because the times I had a chance to say it, if I had, it wouldn’t have meant anything to you.

But then I remembered how sometimes the distance between becomes sweeter the farther away it gets.

I headed to the door. Bill was standing in the entry way. I ran to him and grabbed him. I nestled into his arms and he took me home.

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Grandma’s Lilac Garden

The last time my grandmother visited me was ten years ago around this time of year. She came to me in a dream.

I was on the back porch of what looked like her home in Missoula. I sat on the steps while she tended to some lilac bushes in her garden. She had a sunhat on and I remember thinking how awful it was to be sad on such a beautiful day.

I moped and she pruned.

Grandma turned to me and asked, “Why don’t you help me? It will get your mind off things. Go work with that bush over there,” and she pointed to a bush in the corner of the yard.

I whined that I didn’t have any shears.

She responded with, “Yes you do. They’re right where you left them.”

I looked down at my feet and there they were. The grass had grown between their handles and the weather had rusted them in spots. I picked them up and walked to the bush. It was ugly and deformed. It seemed the stump or some kind of woody weed had gnarled its way around the bush. It was dark but from it bloomed three stalks.

“Grandma,” I said, “I don’t even know where to begin.”

She came over to take a look.

“Let see here….why don’t you clip the flowers from this one and put them in some water for us to enjoy inside.”

I moped with a lack of motivation. Grandma acknowledged my slump and took off her gardening gloves and set down her shears. She put her arm around my shoulders and squeezed me close to her.

“Let me show you something.”

She led me around to the cypress trees that lined the back edge of her garden, and behind it was a section of her garden I had never seen before, or even knew existed. There were droves of lilac trees in blossom, and the fragrance was overwhelmingly powerful.

Then Grandma told me, “This is what is possible Anna. Prune and tend. Even if it looks terrible, try to find something good to take from it. Bring it inside to enjoy. If you keep it up, by the end of your life, this is what you can have.”

I woke up not remembering that dream. I was a school bus driver at the time for a country route and it was a foggy morning. I made some toast and coffee and headed out into it. I couldn’t see but three feet in front of me, but I knew the roads well and I barreled through at a slow pace. I picked up the kids as they emerged through the fog, standing at the edges of their long driveways.

With the rising sun, the fog began to lift and as it lifted, I saw the road we were driving down was lined with lilac bushes. The sun shone golden on their purple blossoms and their fragrance billowed into the windows of the bus and suddenly, the dream came back to me.

So now when I see lilac bushes in bloom, I remember my grandma. I like to think she’s still near, somewhere just beyond what I can’t see, and somewhat involved with overseeing the beauty of the lilacs in bloom here on earth…

…and Grandma, I have noticed that the lilacs bloom even bigger and more beautiful with every year that passes. Thank you. Kiss-kiss-hug-hug. Jeg elsker deg. Love you. 

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These Are the Days of Wild Naked Ladies

Bill and I have been engaged for one year and 6 days now.

I found the ring at an antiques store. Funny thing about this particular antique store is that it used to be my place of employment, before it was an antiques store. When I worked there, it was a women’s clothing design and manufacturing company. Twice a year, we’d host a warehouse sale and women from all over the land would line up outside for hours before we opened to get first dibs. The minute we opened the gates, ladies would storm the place like bulls, and the warehouse instantly turned into a madhouse for three days!!!

They would run in and get naked and try on clothes, throwing clothes they decided against all over the place. It was my job to pick up the discarded clothes and hang them back up. I cursed these ladies under my breath, but felt a little sorry for them because they were so feverish to find a garment.

Little did I know or ever dream that right in the same spot that I cursed and labored over naked lady’s messes, that I would find the ring that would signify my love and future with a wonderful man.

It glimmered through the case amongst plastic clip on earrings, broaches and beads. I pointed it out to Bill. He went back and got it a few days later (I didn’t know). Apparently, he had already bought one for me, but he said he could see how much I wanted the antiques store one and didn’t want to disappoint. Anyhow, the one he had bought previously was too big and made of jade and couldn’t be resized, so he’d have to buy another one regardless (the one he bought is even too big for his fingers, what was he thinking?).

He proposed while we were skiing at Scuppernong, the snow falling all around him, little flakes caught up in his red curls. The sparkle of the snow, the sparkle of my ring, the sparkle in his eyes and smile, sparkles everywhere. It was like a dream. After I said yes and as we skied out of the forest, I felt like we were floating, up and over the glimmering hills and down soft slopes. I never wanted it to end; it was just me and Bill, the towering pines and the sound of the wind blowing through them.

Watching the snow fall like white feathers today, I remember.

With the wedding day approaching quickly, things are getting panicky, which unfortunately (sigh) makes moments like those sometimes easy to forget.

I reserved a shelter in the woods for us to get hitched in. I thought, at the time, we would host a small wedding. We would get hitched, build a fire and camp. Voila!

As it turns out, Bill has relatives I didn’t know about. I love his family, the family that I do know, so I’m certain I will love these stranger family folks as well, but not everyone is going to fit in the shelter, so I hope it doesn’t rain.

Bill’s got 77 family members to be exact. I’ve got five. Then of course there’s friends and we do love our dear friends. We can’t not invite them, so the total amount of invitees are 200. Bill’s mom says only count on half of the guest to be able come. Great! That means if it rains, only 30 people will have to stand out in it…if only half attend.

Sometimes we stay up wondering about the rain and where the money will come from to pay for all of this and then the whole idea tangles like a circus in our minds.  Lately, it gets us so panicked we begin to wonder if we should just call it off and go to the courthouse. Bill’s supposed to decide by today.

I found a song to calm my nerves that I wanted to share. It reassures me that everything will fall into place just the way it should. Like the ring that glimmered after the days of the wild naked ladies became a distant memory. Maybe these days are symbolic of the wild naked ladies, feverishly desperate for perfection and the best deal. And when the actual day of the wedding does come, the sun will rise, even if it’s behind clouds of rain, like a diamond in the rough, or in a case at an antiques store. It will shine shine shine, and the thirty people out in the rain will just happen to be the kind of people who adore the rain.

Here’s the song, it called Wedding Song and it’s by Anais Mitchell and features Justin Vernon, who plays with Bon Iver. Hope you enjoy. Happy Friday!!

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Snippets of a Cell Phone Diary

I just learned how to take my photos off of my cell phone. It is a very complicated procedure, and I don’t know why it has to be that way. Anyhow, it was fun to see the moments, objects and people I found worthy of snapping a shot. These especially made me smile:

Christmas is over.

Coming home from an enchanting night at Roz's house.

Home after a long day.

Now that I finally understand how to take the darn photos off my phone, I’m looking into downloading a photo ap. Do you have one you recommend? If so, I’d love to hear about it.

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Early Winter Morning With HomeDog

Home is south today.

A few weeks back, I stayed at my mom’s and found myself up with the sun. I hadn’t slept the night before. I rarely am able to sleep at my mom’s, don’t know why.

But in the early light, the ordinary suburban surroundings and shambles I grew up with suddenly struck me as vibrant and magical. They never appeared this way to me before. The birds were singing and everything looked golden.

I have intents to make a trip back down soon to wake up with the sun again, or rather stay up all night until the sun comes. The cold and my love for sleeping has kept my enthusiasm for that trip at a low. Maybe tomorrow.

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Happy New You

My mom used to tell me that whatever you are doing on New Year’s Eve is what you will be doing the whole year, so make certain you are with the ones you love and that you are wearing polka-dots.

The first NYEs I can remember were ones with lots of preoccupied partying adults, and us kids running around underneath them in our own world; all of us excited to be up past bedtime.

When the clock struck twelve, my mom handed us some pots and pans and we ran outside with them. We clamored them with wooden spoons, screaming and scaring away any evil that might have wanted to cross over with us into the New Year.

These days, since I can’t always be with everyone I love, I try to take a little time to at least think of my loved ones with the happiest thoughts I can muster as I enter the New Year. When the clock strikes twelve, I feel happiness, gratitude and love for the friends and loved ones that are near, and I let my mind travel to where each of my loves ones are afar.

My mind travels down the yellow dust roads through the hills to find Dad in El Paso reading a book underneath warm lamp light. Then it rides along fields lined with bare dark trees to Mom’s house. Sometimes I feel like those trees know me; they’ve seen me pass so many times. They calm me and drink away any sadness as I pass.

In previous years, when I’ve traveled to where E. is, it has been to a disco-tech, and he is underneath silver lights, music and confetti, dancing dancing dancing. This year, my mind does not have to travel far to see him, and I don’t even have to stay within the confines of my mind since E. is staying with us temporarily.

Him being here has stirred up so many memories. He reminds me and I remind him; we show them to one another the same way we used to show each other shells as we found them by the seaside. We collect these memories together and tie to them little strings of conclusions as to why, trying to categorize and make sense of them, since we were both too young to understand then.

I can’t be entirely certain if our reasonings are true, because they happened so long ago and they almost don’t even seem real anymore. Some of them are sad and most are very unclear, but the process of trying to make sense of the nonsense is somehow helping me to put them behind me, and I hope its doing the same for him too.

This memory collection and sending off of them seems fitting for the New Year as well. Fresh starts are always good.

Where will you be NYE? Do you have a unique ritual to bring in the New Year?

Happy New Year.


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