Christmas in a Hotel

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My family is my daughter Jessica, the only one of my 4 children who wants me in their lives.  She is having a baby soon, the only grandchild I will see–unless things change.  Jessica spent Christmas with me in a nice (but inexpensive) hotel in Ontario, California. We stayed there before–during the Miss California competition and Thanksgiving.  The hotel has a cheerful, red-hued lobby; a pool; and walkways with a gazebo and rose gardens.  It reminds me of hotels I stayed in throughout China.  We gave away some of my books to curious staff members and enjoyed green tea, butter cookies, and a few wrapped gifts.  I am thankful that, though I do not own my own home, this year I was not homeless.  I have a good job and can afford a hotel near to where Jessica lives.

Jessica read the story of the first Christmas as written in the Bible’s Gospel of Luke.  As a Messianic Jew and a Christian, I could be criticized for celebrating Christmas, a holiday not well steeped in valid history.  However, I love Christmas for the songs whose words I memorized when I was a child, the tiny blinking lights, angels, and evergreens.  Jesus came as the “light of the world.”  He died on a tree, our sacrifice to wash away our crimson sins, and rose again to bring new life.  Somehow these ideas do not erase older traditions of Hanukah, but fulfill.

How was your Christmas?

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What I Learned in Prison

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I have been living in the California desert for awhile now, renting a room in a family’s home.  My almost seven-year marriage to a Turkish man broke up, and he is living somewhere on the streets of Los Angeles, stuck in his paranoid delusions that everyone is after him.  He leaves voice messages on my smartphone, though I had to get a restraining order against him, and he should not contact me.  I hope he goes home to Istanbul for medical help.  I feel alone, as the desert wind howls across rocks and sand, and autumn sun cools beneath clouds.  Better to be alone than yelled at, used . . .

Who would have thought that I, a free-spirited writer who has traveled much across this globe, would land in a regular job, from 07:30 to 16:00 Mondays through Fridays, 40 hours a week–teaching inmates in a prison?  I got the job after a 5-week background check (I had to list everywhere I lived since I was 16), a physical exam, and drug tests.  I drive to work across a desert Apocalypse landscape.  It is littered with rock queries, railroad tracks, and old industrial warehouses with broken windows and metal pipes.  Homeless people scarcely populate it, pushing metal carts or baby carriages without a baby.  I lost my three-level, wood-carved home in the mountain forest near a lake.  My children are young adults now, and I don’t see them much.

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My 2 oldest children have completely shut me out of their lives (and my grandchildren’s lives).  An enemy has much to do with this (an ex-husband who once laid me on a bed and strangled me, which I wrote about in my book “Fire and Ice”).  I don’t know what he’s said or why they listen and refuse to meet so that I may answer charges laid against me . . .  My few friends call me “Sweetie.”  I am not a serial killer or assaulter, some crazy grandma gone wild.  I can not understand how my own daughter, my firstborn, could take away my little remaining family . . . I lost my father at age 4 and my mother and only brother (that I knew about) not long after.  I never had a sister.

So . . . the best part of my life is the “Special Needs Yard” prison where I teach male inmates their high school GED course.  We cover mostly English reading, writing, social studies, and science (my inmate clerk helps with the math).  Most of the inmates are sex offenders who could not be in the general population; some are ex-gang members or ex-cops.  My classroom is the last one on the left, near the moving white-barred gate and blue door that leads to the desert yard.  I must have my special ID and my keys on a chain to enter the prison.  If I lose my ID or keys, the whole prison would be locked down until we found them.  I must wear professional clothes (like black slacks and a collared shirt, sensible shoes, my hair clipped back, with no identifying jewelry showing).  I walk through a metal detector, surrender my clear plastic bag for inspection, and pass through 9 gates.  A young guard in his khaki uniform with silver badge says, “Morning, ma’am,” as he holds the heavy door for me at Central Control’s Sally Gate.  I peer into the dim room filled with camera surveillance screens and many keys.

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Love Is Not from a Distance

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Love is not from a distance;

up close and personal, it comes close enough

to pierce us

like an arrow through the heart, a spear.

Can we get the hook out?

Love is the unexpected baby on its way to a stone-cold world.

How did you get in there, so soon?

I will try to love you, and I will often fail.

I feel you hiding in my secret place, moving

like a white swan’s feathers (or maybe black)

brushing up against me, about to take flight

over waters of a vast lake, splashes of yellow against blue,

ripples in growing circles toward the rising sun

too bright to look at directly, creating, consuming . . .

You are not really mine; I borrow you for a time (too short).

I will hold your small hand tightly, sad to think that

maybe after yours grows big enough to break away

–you will forget me– Continue reading

Letter from a Murdered Mom

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I bought a beautiful old handmade writing case at a thrift store in the California mountains.  A wildcat crouched in trees on it, yellow against green and brown, carefully stitched with leather.  The store clerk asked $5, but I talked her down to $4 because I always seem short of money.  I thought I’d use it to keep my part-time college English-teaching papers in, for classroom use or Starbucks.

When I zipped it open, I saw the old-world style of neat suede pockets for business cards, pens, and letters.  A small “Made in India” stamp marked one side.  When I reached into an inner, hidden pocket, I uncovered an old letter.

Typed with an old-style typewriter on faded yellow paper, it bore a date and names and details I felt unworthy to read, like a voyeur into someone else’s private life.  It was a letter from an American mother to her daughter.  It mentioned names, events, and details.  Folded inside it was a hand-written note about getting bifocals and a scratch-sheet of home mortgage calculations.  It also held a surgeon’s business card and a Retail Clerks Union receipt stamped with a full name, date, and social security number. Continue reading

Big Bear Renaissance Faire 2017

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Last night the Queen invited all her court, friends, and their family & friends to celebrate Christmas on 12th Night (in January), as was done long ago and is still done in some places today.  Seeing people who have become family to me, feasting on our homemade food, listening to music and stories, and playing games like the Gift Exchange, I remembered back to last summer when I entered a better Reality than this modern age.  Close your eyes and enter a slower-paced, more fantastical time where surprises waited behind tree branches and in the spark of children’s eyes.

See the video I just posted on Youtube.  Read my fantasy novel.  Celebrate life!

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Motherhood: The Hardest Thing I’ve Ever Done

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Harder than carrying a child for 9 months, giving birth in the most intense pain I’ve ever felt, keeping them safe for 18 years by guiding them, holding their hands, and telling them what to avoid–is watching them struggle in their 20s to survive in this world with all its hidden traps.  I pray for my sons and daughters as the sunset falls, wondering why no one warned me how my heart would be torn out of my chest by seeing them hurt as time goes by.  I remember their perfect skin, their tiny fingers, their dark eyes yet unfilled.  Jesus, help them.  Help me to stand here for them as long as I can, walking outside my desert home in the light of the moon.  Touch them; pull them out of darkness; fill them with your resurrection power, your Light of the World–this Christmas.

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Beautiful Fool

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I am a beautiful fool

eyes as aquamarine against faded gold

like the ring my daughter gave me

living in my own dream world

Galadriel of the forest

giving to Arwen

pink flowers in moonlight

standing, frail, against the doom of a sorcerer

waiting for a miracle

Jesus

**This is the poem my daughter Jessica wrote for me when she gave me this ring:

For My Mother
Whose Beauty Shall Forever Illuminate Through
–& Within–
My Heart
As Galadriel,
the Immortal Lighthouse
of All Forests.
My Courageous
Queen
Shall Eternally Protect
–& Reign o’er–
My Spritish Soul
with Grace Beyond
Earthly
Comprehension
(–Perhaps Sprouted from
the Aquamarine
Ring
this Elf
Once Gave Her!)

Please buy my books, just $2.99 each, so that my dreamlife may continue in practical, unpoetic, expensive California.  Thank you, this Day after Thanksgiving, Year of our Lord 2017.

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Christmas Lights in China

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My daughter Jessica was born in September, so by her first Christmas she was old enough for me to carry around and look at Christmas lights.  Her small blue eyes widened at the amazing colors and brightness.  Now she is 22 and lives in California.  I am teaching English in China.  This is my 5th Christmas away from home.  I went out last night to a colorful, cobblestoned street by the river in my Chinese city near Shanghai and was amazed at how the lights lit up like a fairly-land.  I thought, “Jessica could see this.” Continue reading