Stories From California

A poet reading a poem to me in a sidewalk café. A student talking about being held by smugglers in Mexico City when she was eight years old. Palm tree fronds blocking our street after a winter storm. A nocturnal bus trip through the streets of Los Angeles. Encounters and observations like these usually don’t find their way into my news stories.

Because I wanted to share some of them, I started this journal.

Stretching For The Rain - del Rey, CA

It rains. It rains, It rains. it RAINS!

I turn the lights on. I turn the heating on. I put my sweater on and the comfy pants.

I step outside. I feel the rain on my face. I'm getting wet. I love it.

I look towards the sky. I see clouds moving. Shades of grey drift into each other, separate, then rejoin and create new formations.

Water in my eyes. I go inside. I start to write.

I hear rain on the window now. I hear a klicke-ti-klack. It is the little wooden Christmas bear I hung on the nail in the middle of our front door. His feet are dangling in the wind.

On my desk in front of me is a small plastic bag with black and white pictures of my Mom when she was young. A set of six dice in rainbow colors. Pens. Scotch tape and glue. Lip balm. A notebook for the novel I just started to write.

Weeping Resin - Santa Monica Mountains, CA

This week I have been driving through burnt areas close to Los Angeles and interviewed people for radio stories I already produced or will produce in the coming days.

This is a new way for me to express thoughts and feelings about what I see and hear

Fire LakeBW

The peaceful lake

Indian summer colors, small boats on the shore

Sun rays on water ripples like fireflies

Dancing on reflections of burnt soil

No birds. No bees. No butterflies. A rabbit

On fireshaved hills looking for cover

Fires and Butterflies - Culver City, CA

For the first time in more than a week I am sitting in the backyard. For the first time in more than a week I tell myself I have nothing to do. For the first time in more than a week I decide I have nowhere to go. 

I did not turn on the radio. I did not check my phone. I did not read the news. 

I did morning yoga stretches again. I lit a candle again. I burnt sage again. I meditated again. I made breakfast with oatmeal, apple slices, cinnamon, toasted almond slivers and sunflower seeds. 

I am watching hummingbirds, bees and butterflies. The sun is warm on my bare feet. I rest my back against the chair. I look at oranges on our tree. I look at purple flowers on bushes in the back and red ones in hedges next to me. I look at rosemary in the shade and pink bougainvillea blossoms covering the fence. 

I am finally calm again, finally at ease again, finally me again.

A squirrel darts down the orange tree, hops towards me like a rabbit, stands on its hind feet and stares right into my eyes.

Caravan - Los Angeles, CA

I am getting back into the creative writing thing, something I enjoyed a lot as a child and teenager.

I put it aside for journalism. These days, I return to my first writing love, and one morning I wrote this text.

It is a poem of thoughts and images that came up when I was watching the news and remembered interviews I made.

 

"Caravan"

Our weeping skies and calloused earths we leave behind

Our midnight serenades and drunkard beatings 

Our first breaths, first steps, first melodies of words 

First funerals of marigolds, bread, candles and tequila

First mango kisses

Behind we leave them in the mud of heavens and hells

Anything But Safe - Mar Vista, CA

"Every time, I come to this school," our volunteer coordinator said, "I'm surprised to see all the students hang out on the front lawn."

I didn't get it. "What's wrong with that?" I thought. The lawn in front of this school is beautiful, with flower bushes on the sides and between them a gorgeous statue of a women reaching towards the sky. Her body is bent almost like she is ready to fly. It's a lawn I would love to have picnics on.  

We had come to support students with their college applications and were now waiting between green bungalows that serve as classrooms for the seniors to arrive. 

"Anyone can step right onto the campus," our coordinator added. "Anyone can walk through the hallways and into classrooms."

That's when I got it. 

She looked worried while she pointed to small paths between the white main building, side walks, green grass and the spot that we were standing at. Students kept walking past us towards class. Some had books clutched to their chests.