Another beautiful day in Oakland. The sun streams in from my eastern and southern windows and the neighbor's dog seems to be barking and growling at nothing.
Friggin' dog. Use your INSIDE voice, perrito!
Most of my day yesterday was spent in a fog of feeling like caca. My poochie friend Kayla sensed it. Our morning walk was lackluster. Diane called and I answered a crying mess. My dad called, mami called, Cynthia, Maritza and Dan. Somehow I managed not to snivel for Dan, although my mind was faraway. I even managed enough charm and energy to figure out a Thursday night hangout. The man is a hospitalist and since he's transitioning to his turn at vampire hours his weekend is now Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday is too soon, Thursday is fine.
I should figure out my life and attitude by then, no?
Last night I walked Kayla in the park and let her off leash. She found a pretty thick little stick and we played stick. Stick is a pretty simple game. You throw stick and she retrieves it. She taught it to me. And I taught her that I cannot play stick if she holds it in her mouth.
While walking in, before the game of stick I had several conversations with my mother. She was trying to help me out, telling me to count my blessings (of which I could not acknowledge one), that I cannot compete with my friends and if that's what makes me miserable, I should make new friends (I tried to explain I don't want to compete with people, I want the opportunity to hang out more often on different adventures (like skiing and trekking to Europe and perhaps indulging in the occasional shoe purchase for hiking or some such outdoor adventure), and to come home.
I hung up three different times. I love my mother. Sometimes when I am in my mindset tizzy she approaches me with a tough love that my mind filters innaccurately as "Erika, you're doing it all wrong. Why would you do it that way?" She's essentially asking me to change my perspective, butI always seem to hear it as criticism from her.
My self-frustration lead me to the game of stick.
It seemed so simple, really. Here was something I could earn a success with. If Kayla was criticizing me, I couldn't understand. And she didn't care if it landed in the mud and she wasn't judging me on my aim or distance. (I did plenty of that myself.) Stick, what a cool game.
In the early evening in Glen Park this meditative game of stick and the medicinal scent of mud mixed with euchalyptus began to change my mood.
My face was still tight with tears when I arrived back at the Surrey Street house with Kayla. I recognized the silver bug and knew that Kayla's were home. They were back from LA. I wondered what the week's hospital visit would look like.
Bendito, so thin. And I thought, "Damn, I left dishes in the sink."
But she looks healthy, not too worn. That lifted some worry off my shoulders.
I called Maritza to see if the Colbert report party was still on.
Earlier in the day I decided to cook for myself. Something medicinal to chop and put into boiling water. There were vegetables that would go bad. I began with water, salt, a little olive oil, and some pepper. I found some garlic, chopped onions.
I knew there were a bunch of carrots that needed attention, chopped and added those. Some Bragg's amino acid stuff. I found cauliflower. What else? Tomatoes that I cut the rotting bits off (not much, but not what I wanted to eat), and celery.
I put in a little wild rice. I found a vegetable boullion cube. I put in ground flax seed.
And the house began to fill with a loving scent. Warmth on a chilly evening. As it boiled slowly I put in a DVD I borrowed from Jose from Street Side Stories, "Every Child Is Born a Poet." It is a story of Piri Tomas, a Newyorican poet who discovered the word while in prison.
Man, his story mirrors my dad's until the jail part a little bit. My papi wasn't into the gang scene or drug scene though.
Are there any great clean Puerto Rican artists? Between Pinero and Piri Tomas it all seems we discover our greatness from the harshness of the Barrio. I gotta dig back into the island and the women. There's Rita Moreno. Let me look at her life, too.
He spoke some deep words and my tired eyes took in the words and images and something softened in my brain. Something opened.
After leaving Kayla's parent's house, I called Maritza.
And yes, she and Frances and Denise were watching the Colbert Report. And to come over.
I felt okay enough to not burst out crying. I went over.
And we picked up pizza and talked. And, wow, I began to feel better.
The Colbert Report was okay, but talking girl talk and travel...they're going to Mexico and Denise is going to Australia. Wow.
And then the presents came out.
Clothing samples that were just gorgeous. There's a linen dress with red striping that's darling. I felt like Christmas had come to me.
Mami's voice came to me, "Count your blessings."