Saturday, May 19, 2018

Black-ish Hits Home

If you are not caught up with the show, Black-ish, do not continue reading.  You have been warned.

A couple of weeks ago I was catching up on some shows I've missed this spring season.  I don't watch a lot of television due to a busy schedule that includes work, children, and trying to write/publish.  But every once in a while, there is a lull in the craziness.  I take advantage of those less busy moments to just sit and enjoy the down time.

If any of you have watched the show Black-ish, you'll know it's a sitcom that combines comedy with some serious takes on real world issues facing people of color.  Although I don't always agree with the parenting styles of Andre and Rainbow Johnson, I love the content.  Ruby and Pops remind me of the old school parenting where we graduated from the school of hard knocks and still came out okay. 

I also identify a lot with Rainbow because I'm biracial (afakasi in Samoan).  It probably doesn't help that my husband and a former supervisor say I remind them of Bow with my facial expressions, tone, and sarcasm.  I remember the episode where they cover the issue of Rainbow identifying as a black woman and dealing with the feeling that she was neglecting her white (dad's) side.  I've had this same conversation with people in the past because I identify as a Samoan.  This does not discount my caucasian side one bit.  Rainbow's talk with her dad revealed him seeing her as a black woman because that's how the world saw her.  But not once did he feel as if that took away from him being her father or being a part of her life.

There have been bits and pieces of each show where I can say I've experienced some of what was going on with the characters, but these last few episodes really struck a chord on a deeply personal level for me.  It started off with the marital strife between Rainbow and Andre.  I cried at some point during every single one of these episodes because not only did I feel their pain, I lived it.  After one episode, my third daughter commented, "I thought this was supposed to be a comedy?" Every marriage takes work. Many marriages go through difficult times and sometimes, unfortunately, end in separation.  I'm happy to say, like Bow and Dre, my own marriage has suffered but we were blessed to have found our way back to each other. 

The final episode has been on my mind since I watched it last night.  This is what prompted me to write this blog entry.  The middle of the night phone call with Bow sobbing and Dre asking her what's wrong.  Her dad had passed away.  It transported me back to this past August with a 4am phone call.  Dad.  Hospital.  Not going to make it.  Nothing they can do.  I remember sobbing by myself, completely lost.  I called my husband in Kauai.  Like Bow, I cried uncontrollably.  My dad.  My rock.  I got on the earliest flight I could.  As I was getting my rental car, the agent asked what brought me to the Bay Area.  I told her I was visiting my dad.  She said, "Oh, you're his angel to come and see him."  I told her, "He will actually be our angel soon."  And the tears started to fall.  When I looked up at the agent, she shared my sorrow.  She shared my tears.  She asked if she could pray for me and my family.  I said yes.  And I thanked her.  Then she thanked me.  Not for my business.  But for sharing such a personal and painful thing with her. 

Thank you, Black-ish writers, for not sugar coating anything.  For showing us the real stuff. The good, the bad, the ugly. For showing us the pains that families go through.  For showing us the absolute love that only families can share. Thank you.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Official Published! Person of Shadows

I can't believe it!  I have a book being sold on!  Me!  Little ol' me!  Wow!

Link to:  Person of Shadows

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Desert Beauty

I've lived in Utah for over 20 years, mostly in the Rose Park area.  This desert landscape with its dry grass and few water sources never quite appealed to me.  I grew up on a lush, tropical island where the color green was seen year round and the sweet smell of tropical flowers filled the air after every rain.  Rain, something that happened often, during some seasons on a daily basis or for days on end.  Living in this dry heat summer and freezing cold, snowy winter for such a long time, you would think a person would get used to it.  Maybe grow to love it.  My heart has always longed to return to a tropical island, to put my hands in the soft, warm dirt, to feel the warm rain against my skin, to hear waves crashing along the shore during high tide.  Instead, as I walk along the Jordan River, I hear the trickling of water.  The croaking of frogs signal spring time along with families of ducks swimming lesurely past me, every once in a while splashing the water with their wings.  I now understand the beauty that is the desert.  The changing of the seasons?  True wonders of the world from the bright fall colors to natures ice sculptures on the trees, the summer heat to spring's promise of warmth and regrowth.  My camera lens has been blessed by the tropics, spoiled by its beauty.  But this weekend it found a new subject.  One that my heart, once biased, used to see as plain and ugly, now sees as charming.  The colors are there.  I just had to dig deeper.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Outside My Window (A Year of Writing Prompts)

The rain was falling all night long.  I could hear it on our tin roof, sounding like a steel drum symphony, lulling me to sleep.  Rain, with the cool air and smell of fresh flowers, comforts me, wraps me in its peaceful arms.  I begin to wake in the morning because it’s quiet.  The rain has stopped.  I look outside my window and I see the sun shining.  The air, still cool from the night, blows softly into my room.  I open the louvres and breathe in deeply.  I can taste the salt from the ocean just down the hill.  I can hear the crashing waves, feel the fierce current pull at me, call to me.  I long to be out in my yard, digging in the soft dirt, pulling weeds and soaking in the daylight.  I am reminded of my childhood, taking a book and climbing into the guava tree, picking its fruit to be eaten while living through a story of adventures.  Outside my window stands a row of gardenia.  Its white blossoms giving off a fragrance that is comparable to none.  I turn and smile softly as I feel arms wrap around my waist, a chin settling on my shoulder, and a light kiss on my cheek.  I will venture outside my window, but for now, I will stay in the arms of the one I love.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Merlot (A Year of Writing Prompts)

          They named their baby Merlot.  Seriously?  This poor child will spend the rest of her life having to explain that her parents named her after a red wine.  I always knew my best friend and her family leaned toward a bohemian life style, which was totally cool with me.  They had this free spirit, fun loving attitude, grew their own food, and built their home from the ground up.  They even turned me into a pescatarian.  That’s saying a lot since I come from one of Texas’ royal family of cattle ranchers.  Steak and potatoes were on the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  My family almost disowned me when I told them I no longer ate red meat.  But my best friend’s family supported my choice and even offered to adopt me.  Of course, my family learned to live with my choice, but I had to find a different path in life since running a cattle ranch and not eating the produce wouldn’t fly with our distributors or purchasers.  I became a college geology professor, which my parents thought fit right in with my new bohemian family.

            But to have my bestie name her child Merlot?  Their explanation was the child was conceived after a really great bottle of the red wine.  Okay.  I get it.  It must have been a tasty bottle and a whole lot of fun after, but do you really want your child to know that story let alone relay that to people when she gets older?  Mom and Pop, my best friend’s parents, were always very open about everything, literally everything, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  I remember I would test their openness by asking stupid questions.  Not once did they shy away from the harsh realities of explaining the mating rituals of wild geese or birthing methods of a blue whale or, my personal favorite, a queen bee’s choice in males.  The explanations were always very tasteful and biologically correct, but I got a kick out of how they were never embarrassed explaining things of nature.  And very thorough.  My own parents, even though we helped in many cow births, couldn’t explain where babies came from and left it to the cattle hands to run down the whole birds and bees stories.

            My poor goddaughter.  She will have such difficult times unless her parents, Mom and Pop, and I train her to be comfortable with herself.  I’ll probably take her on a few excursions to a boxing ring.  Just in case.  As I sit here, shaking my head, and enjoying a glass of red wine, I think about the world this beautiful baby is growing up in.  She’ll need to be tough.  She’ll need to stay grounded.  And she’ll probably need to stay away from merlot when she gets married.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


I watched as they loaded the boxes onto the truck.  Here we go again, I thought.  Another move.  At least we were here for one year.  That was longer than most places.  I shouldn’t complain, though.  There is a reason for the madness and that’s why I make sure we live as frugal and with as little as possible.  Our moving truck isn’t very big.  It’s funny how the moving guys call our boxes ‘cargo’ like we’re loading up a freight ship.  Normally it would be myself and my hubby who load everything but this time it’s different.  I’m seven months pregnant with our first child and have been ordered by the doctor to take it easy.  That is what hurts the most about this move.  I love my doctor.  But now I have to get a new one and she won’t really know who I am yet she’ll be responsible for making sure my child and I make it through the birthing process all in one piece. 

“So much cargo,” my husband chuckles from behind me.  His arms go around my swollen waist and he kisses the top of my head.

I lean back and close my eyes.  I remember our first move.  So much cargo, so many memories.  I found creative ways to get rid of cargo to move and downsize.  It was been a blessing but the moves are making me tired.  This should be the final move, I tell myself.

One of our neighbors walks by with his dog and waves.

“Good luck with the team, RJ,” he says to my husband.  He gives me a pitying smile and continues down the sidewalk.

I sigh.  We’ve worked hard to get to this point in our life.  If all goes well, we’ll stay put, buy a home, raise our children in one state and one city.  Let’s get this cargo loaded so we can head out, I say to myself.

Our landlord is making small talk with my husband.  They exchange the keys for our deposit and shake hands.  I will miss her.  I hope our new landlord is just as nice and understanding, especially now that we have this new addition coming soon.  Would we count this little one as cargo?  I chuckle to myself and walk toward the passenger side of our SUV.  I’m ready for this adventure.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Gaelic (A Year of Writing Prompts)

I’ve always wanted to visit Scotland, play on the golf courses, visit the highlands, and explore the old castles of the clans.  Today was an unseasonably warm day in the highlands, or that’s what the tour guide told us.  There were only six of us on the tour plus the guide.  We purposely planned it that way so we could get the most of our visit.  Three couples, one guide, two castles. 

The first castle was set near a loch and even with the breeze coming from the water it was still hot.  I could smell the fresh air surrounding us and imaged the place smelling of wood smoke from the fire pits, harsh soap from the laundry, and animal manure.  Without the hustle and bustle of a full time, live-in castle, the only smells were from the water way, the grass, and the dirt.

Walking inside, I was assaulted with a musty smell that almost knocked me off my feet.  As I looked at my traveling companions, I wondered if they felt the same thing but they were speaking softly to their partners and pointing at things of interest.  My brows knotted as the giant ballroom we were standing in began to shimmer.  My group’s voices started to fade away.  Suddenly, I was in the ballroom but this time I was surrounded by a clan of Scottish highlanders.  The men wore their clan colors in their kilts, standing tall and proud.  The women wore the latest in gowns, fashioned after the English elite with a little French influence in the droop of the neckline and the flirty lace around the bosom.

I couldn’t understand a word they said realizing they were speaking Gaelic.  At least that’s what I assumed.  I stood still hoping no one would notice me wearing my cargo shorts, hiking shoes, and Bob Marley t-shirt with my hoodie tied around my waist.  I had pushed my sunglasses on top of my head and my hair was pulled up in a messy bun.  So far no one looked my way and I relaxed a little, listening to this guttural language.  I tried to understand what they were saying by watching their gestures, but it was impossible.  I caught a few words that sounded like English words but it wasn’t enough to piece together the conversations.  There was one word, though, that was repeated over and over again.  Amadan.  I memorized the sound hoping to get someone to translate. 

Everyone in the room fell silent as a man and woman walked in through the entry doors from the hallway.  The crowd parted leaving an aisle in the middle leading from the entryway to the opposite side of the hall where a large banquet table sat.  Behind this table was a regal looking gentleman with a beautiful tartan of dark green with bold, bright blue lines.  Thinner brown lines cut the blue in half adding an earth tone to the cloth.  A gold brooch formed in the shape of an eagle was pinned to his starched white shirt.  The man stood slowly and nodded at the couple who had paused right inside the entryway.  Their steps echoed in the silent hall as they made their way slowly to the banquet table and the man who I assumed was the clan leader.  The people nearest me kept whispering that word.  Amadan.  Since this looked like a wedding, I wondered if the word meant love, or beautiful bride, or maybe it was an expression of joy for this union.

The soon-to-be bride was wearing a cream-colored gown with small roses in gold embroidered around her neckline and hemline.  Her bronze vest was also embroidered with simple leaf patterns, but it enhanced her pale skin and tiny waist.  She would look up at her partner then look quickly down at the ground, blushing.

The soon-to-be groom seemed a little plain, in my opinion.  His tartan looked faded and worn.  The colors were almost indistinguishable although you could tell there was possibly some red and orange in the mix.  His face was red looking freshly scrubbed but his hair was a tangled mess, wisps flying every which way and the start of dreadlocks in some areas on his head.

When I looked at the well-dressed gentleman at the head table, I caught his expression.  It was thunderous.  When the couple reached the table, the knelt in front and looked down at the ground, holding hands.  The gentleman, or clan leader, put his hands in the air.  It remained silent and some people looked like they were holding their breath.


One of the guests suddenly turned and looked directly at me.

“Babe.  Babe,” he insisted.

I shook my head and the ancient Scottish clan scene faded away.  I was looking into the eyes of my husband.  The rest of our group had gathered around me looking concerned.

“Are you okay, miss?” the tour guide asked.

“Yes,” I stammered.  I told them about my vision and the word I kept hearing.  “I was witnessing this beautiful wedding ceremony and I’m wondering what the word ‘amadan’ means.  It must be something romatic.”

I looked at the tour guide in shock as he burst out laughing.  This lasted for several minutes and I began to feel irritated.  Was he questioning my sanity?  Did he think I imagined the vision?  Did he think I was lying?  Before I could lost my temper, our guide got control of himself.

“Idiot.”  He chuckled.

I bristled, “Did you just call me an idiot?”

“No,” he answered quickly.  “The word you said, ‘amadan,’ it means idiot.  They must have been talking about the couple.”  He chuckled more as he pointed at the walls in the ballroom.

As we looked closely, we saw pictures on the walls that had faded over time.  The ones that looked older because the paint was barely visible were pictures of eagles soaring over the loch, battles of clans in their tartan colors, and royal women of the castle.  The newer paintings that weren’t as faded told a different story.  They were pictures of flower covered dragons, smiling fairies flying through fields of primrose, and Beira, the Queen of Winter, casting her freezing spell over the moss in the castle yard.

Amadan.  Idiot.  I don’t remember the rest of the visit because that’s all I could think about.  I was romanticizing about brutish Scottish clan men who fought hard and loved fiercely with their strong, independent women at their sides.  The idea of a clan leader painting fairytales on the walls would be the only memory I would keep.  The guttural, yet enchanting sounds of the Gaelic language would only be summed up in one word for the rest of my life.  Idiot.