Christmas Eve

This post is dedicated to Wanda, my former mother-in-law.  When my first child had her first Christmas, I convinced Wanda to celebrate with us on Christmas Eve, while we spent Christmas Day with my family.  Recently she accused me (in good fun) of altering her traditional Christmas celebration all those years ago in order to forward my own agenda.  I beg to differ: circumstances being what they were, it was only her second, maybe third Christmas ever; hardly enough time to establish a tradition for me to break.  Also, my argument at the time was that Christmas Eve was much more special for my sister and me when we were little, so I was giving her a gift by giving her Christmas Eve.  She didn’t buy it.  So this is my written testimony.

My sister, Teri, and I spent Christmas Eve with Oma and Opa, my dad’s parents.  Oma would pick us up from home in Pasadena and drive us to her house in West Los Angeles, about a half hour away.  The roofline of her squat, green 50’s style ranch house was traced a sting of large odd-colored lights: orange mostly, with some blue and green, maybe a yellow or white somewhere in the strand.  A four-foot table-top Christmas tree greeted us when we walked in the door.  Presents were piled in the spare bedroom, all papered with the same paper.  Every year, the same paper!  White with red poinsettias, I believe, with some kind of strange goldish accents.  Either she hit a good sale once and bought tons of the same print, or she had one monster roll of the stuff.  I never knew which, and by the time I thought to ask she had run out and had no idea what I was talking about.

Oma spent all day fluttering in and out of the kitchen.  I never paid attention to what she was doing in there, except that she’d call us in to feed us boterkoek or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I assumed they were none-of-my-business-and-I-wouldn’t-understand-anyway kinds of things.  So Teri and I spent the day playing with our Tinker Toys or Lincoln Logs, rolling around with Casey the keeshond, banging on the electric organ, or sitting on Opa’s lap while he read a Raggedy Ann and Andy story in his deep voice, smelling of tobacco and coffee.  Anything, really, to keep our minds off the presents we’d open after dinner.

Dinner was always the same:  spaghetti.  During the rest of the year Oma was the pot roast queen, and no meal…no meal…was served without homemade mashed potatoes.  Christmas Eve, however, was always spaghetti with meat sauce, green salad tossed with green onions, tomatoes, and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, and homemade garlic bread with tons of Kraft parmesan cheese.  (I tried to convince Wanda to make spaghetti for Christmas Eve, but that was going too far.)

Once dinner was done and post-meal conversation had subsided, it was time for PRESEEEEENTS!!!  Oma and Opa had the uncanny ability to give us the perfect gifts.  Teri and I knew that the best presents of the year were hiding behind that perpetual sea of mono-wrap.  I still remember my ultimate favorites:  a Strawberry Shortcake jacket, Western Barbie, and a drop-waist mini-dress that reminded me of a figure skater.  If we got clothes, we’d stand in front of the heavy curtains hiding the sliding glass door and model for pictures.  By the time we were done oooing and aahing over the last present, the spent wrappings were already gone.

New clothes were kept on and worn to the candle light service at Culver City Presbyterian Church.  Our other grandmother was there, too, so we’d all sit together.  They had a segment during the service called the Children’s Sermon:  a guy (every year the same one, can’t remember his name) stood in a corner at pew-level rather than on the pulpit, invited all the kids in attendance to join him, and gave a short kid-friendly talk about the significance of Christmas.  It looked like a painting where Jesus is talking to a group of children, except the 70’s version where Jesus is clean-shaven, short-haired, and wearing thick glasses and a suit with big lapels.  I was always too shy to walk up there and join them, so I stayed in my pew between Oma and Opa, drawing pictures on my program with the short pencil provided to write your name on the offering envelope.  My favorite part was singing Christmas carols; especially at the end when the older teenagers would light the candelabras set in front of the tall stained-glass windows, all the lights were dimmed, and we’d sing the long version of Silent Night followed by Joy to the World.

Christmas Day at our other grandma’s house was lovely.  We always wore something pretty.  Our presents were always thoughtful.  Dinner was lovely.  The conversation was mostly polite, unless Grandpa Wally picked on Aunt Peggy and made her cry.  My grandmother was always a gracious hostess.  We tried our best to use our good manners and be considerate guests, honest we did.  It was all so…lovely.

I remember the year I asked Wanda to take Christmas Eve, and I told Teri about it.  “Oh my God!”  she squealed.  “Remember how all the wrapping paper was the same for years?  And how it disappeared before we could even finish unwrapping the damn presents?  And remember how Oma’s presents were always the best?  And spaghetti, every year!  And the salad always had green onions and Hidden Valley Ranch dressing.  Remember her ugly 70s couches and taking pictures in front of those gawd-awful curtains?  Remember those orange Christmas lights?  Remember going to church and seeing Grandma, and then we’d see her again the next day?  Remember how boring Grandma’s house was?  Is Wanda going to make spaghetti?  She has to make spaghetti!”

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Waiting for an Hour – the Chapbook

A few posts ago I mentioned the book project for my Creative Nonfiction class.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

I am currently hiding in my sister’s room with a rather large bottle of Smirnoff Pomegranate Martini, and as I attempt to ignore the Christmas chaos outside the door I find this to be the perfect time to post the contents of my little book.

The assignment was to chose writing samples and include them in a small paper book to share with fellow students.  We had to include a writer’s manifesto, so I used a piece I already had called A Coinstar Kind of Writer. We also needed a writer’s bio:

j9 bio smallJanine McCarthy grew up on the mean streets of Pasadena, CA.  She holds Certificates of Completion in Business Writing and Management Skills from USC’s Professional Development department; Basic Police Officer Standards and Training (POST) for Dispatchers from Rio Hondo College; POST Communications Training Officer from Golden West College; and Terrorism Awareness from Chino Police Department.  There are at least a half dozen more, but she can’t remember them all. She is a member in good standing with the Yahoo! Group CHPercolator: Coffee House for Writers. Her work has appeared in John Muir High School’s The Inner Eye, USC Public Safety’s Dispatch Training Manual, Urban Dictionary, and Facebook Notes. Janine is currently a student at PCC and author of the blog The Letter J, The Number 9.  She resides in Monrovia, CA., with a motley crew of pets and people, including two teenagers and a savior of a roommate.  She swears that everything on this page is true.

Many students used several short pieces in their books, especially if they were poets.  I chose just one essay.  I’m a nervous wreck as I share it here on the public interwebs (and this strong red martini stuff isn’t the liquid courage it should be), but here it is, with the forward included:

Forward

This piece is from Writing Assignment #4: intersecting a personal story with a historical moment.  I chose the current economic recession as my historical moment, and the hour I spent waiting to be fired from my job last year.  I use this piece for my chapbook simply because I’ve put the most work into it. The biggest revision I had to make was to the tone: to choose between deep and emotional or funny and ridiculous. My natural storytelling tendency is to make things humorous; however, the sadness of being fired is still so raw it
was difficult to water down. My hope is that I struck a good balance between the two.

– Janine

Waiting for an Hour

It’s a beautiful, sunny October afternoon.  Not on my side of the street, though.  No, the sun starts across the street, at the far end of the parking lot, shining on fancy red brick buildings and the glamorous people who work in them, people with titles like Doctor and Professor.  My side of the street is grey, dominated by a seven-story parking structure and the long perpetual shadow it casts to the north.  The scraggly ivy and bald azalea shrubs barely survive in the constant gloom.  The dirt in between sure seems to thrive in it, though.

I park my car on the narrow street as the grey grimaces at me, gap-toothed and menacing. I enter a door in the side of the parking structure marked “Authorized Personnel Only” in rust, where the original decals peeled off exposing letter-shaped sections of the metal underneath.  A long narrow hallway leads through more grey to the cavernous Communications Center.

I’ve been a Public Safety Communications Operator with the university for eleven years:  think 911 dispatcher with a different phone number and three times the call load.  It’s stressful, difficult, and not at all congruent with my bubbly personality, but with two kids to raise and a recession to ride out I’m not going anywhere.  Besides, job hunting terrifies me.  Writing a resume gives me hives.  Job interviews make me want to shrink into a dark corner.   I can’t begin to describe the horrors my body endures swathed in business-casual for a day.

The Communications Center looks like a dungeon of technology.  White-washed cement block walls and cheap linoleum flooring sit right on top of parking spaces.  A four-pack of grey and burgundy cubicles occupies the center of the room, each outfitted with two computers, three large monitors, and an overworked dispatcher.  A long workspace matching the cubicles sits against the far wall under two giant 7’x10’ screens, each displaying forty postage-stamp-sized views of the surrounding neighborhood. The room is alive with a quiet urgency: electronics buzz, computer screens blink, keyboards tap, radio voices squelch through speakers, and live voices chat quietly with invisible callers.

Normally I’d fling my car keys and cell phone into a cubicle and race to the locker room, but it’s my Monday.  Not a Monday: my Monday. I move slowly on my Monday, so I’ve still got keys and phone in hand, blinking as I adjust to the dungeon light, when Robin pokes her head out of an office that looks more like a fishbowl.

“Go to the chief’s office and see Sonya,” she says.

I startle.  “Now?”

“Yes.”

“Should I put on my uniform first?”

“No.”  She doesn’t look at me.

Robin is the Director of Communications. She’s a tough, burly Harley chick, but these abrupt commands are unusual even for her, especially when I’m not even on the clock yet.

Something’s wrong.

I stand a little straighter to give the butterflies in my stomach less room to flutter, and turn on my heel toward the chief’s office.

The chief’s secretary, Sonya, is expecting me, but doesn’t know when “they” will be ready.  She invites me to take a seat and wait.  I scan her face, searching for a sign, a clue, something to tell me what I’m in for.  I see nothing.  I don’t know which is worse: a something, or this nothing. She offers me a cup of coffee, but I decline.  I already feel shaky, I don’t need caffeine.  I look around the office for a distraction, and see a picture of Sonya’s children on her computer screen.

I ask about her kids.  She swivels her chair toward me and smiles, and we chat the way mothers do.  I choke down the high pitch in my voice that will betray my fear.  Sonya’s oldest child is a teenager.  My own kids are thirteen and eighteen.  I’m  light-headed with dread.

“You sure you don’t want a cup of coffee?” she asks.  “I just stocked up on Equal.”

“No, no I’m good, but thank you.”  In the main hallway of our small station is a kitchen niche, built into the wall like a preschool cubby.  A big commercial coffee maker just fits on the counter.  Before every shift the Coffee Gods bless us with two full pots of fresh, life-saving coffee, and I do my part to empty them.   A box containing coffee paraphernalia sits on a shelf above the coffee maker.  If I’m lucky there are a few colored packets of fake sugar in the box, but not usually. Sonya has her own little white coffee pot in her office, and all manner of sweetener and creamer in a pretty basket next to it.  My pre-shift ritual often includes shuffling into her office bleary-eyed, hot hallway coffee in hand, hoping for a pack or two of Equal.  My declination of coffee is unusual, but Sonya doesn’t seem concerned: that disquieting nothing again.

I fold my hands into my lap and squeeze them together until my fingers turn white.  I inhale with purpose so that my nerves don’t stop me from breathing altogether.  I fight the urge to bounce my knee up and down and try not to fidget.

Sonya stands up.  “Be right back,” she says as she leaves the office.  Now I’m alone.

~*~

Six weeks ago my supervisor, Robert, pulled me from my workstation and asked me to follow him.  He carried a stack of papers as we walked across the street, through the parking lot, to the red brick science building on the other side.  He led me to a conference room on the second floor.  There are plenty of empty conference rooms in the station, so when supervisors come all the way over here to use this room it’s a grim sign.

The room itself wasn’t too foreboding.  Cork boards lined the walls, peppered with multicolored bulletins that curled around the thumb tacks and staples holding them up.  The furniture was a cheerful blond wood, and tall narrow windows overlooked the campus.

We sat facing each other.  He spread the papers out in front of him, took a deep breath, and began to describe a call I had handled two months before.  A drunken student was harassing people on the street.  He didn’t need to be arrested, he didn’t need a hospital, but he couldn’t be left alone.  The officers just wanted to take him home to sleep it off.  The problem was that he had no ID, and refused to give any information other than his name.  Together, we did everything we legally could to find him a safe place to go, but in the end we had nothing.  The officers decided to take him to a halfway house that would provide him a bed until he was sober.

Robert broke down the call and asked me to explain each step I took, right down to the notes I typed and the follow-up calls I made.  I answered his questions, but I didn’t see any serious mistakes.  Why was I being grilled?

The kid had mouthed off to someone at the halfway house, who in turn stabbed him.  He survived, but his parents were suing the university.  We shouldn’t have taken him somewhere so dangerous, they claimed.

“How is that our fault?”  I fumed.  “We did everything we could to help that kid!”

A note I put in the call indicated that the kid might not have been enrolled in any classes, Robert said.  Would the officers have taken him somewhere different, better, had they known the he was a current student, as opposed to a random drunk off the street?  Why hadn’t I dug deeper to confirm his student status?

“Because it didn’t matter!  We needed his address, not his student status.  We figured he was a current student anyway; we talked about it on the phone.  Didn’t anyone pull the recordings?”  Yes, they had pulled the recordings.  And that’s all Robert said about it.

He looked me in the eye.  “This is bad, J.  This is very, very bad.”

~*~

I try to wipe the scene from my mind.  They can’t fire me, can they?  No!  The university makes it damn near impossible to fire people.  There are procedures, paper trails, patterns of behavior and such.   I’ve only had one written reprimand in my eleven years here: that’s hardly a pattern.  Maybe they’ll give me time off without pay.

I make a brave attempt to think positive. This waiting might not end in something bad. Maybe I won a service award.  Maybe they’ve created a new position just for me, because I’m that awesome!

Probably not, kiddo.  They wouldn’t make you wait alone in the chief’s office for anything good.  I slump a little in my chair.

I breathe deliberately to keep my heart from racing, timing each inhale and exhale.   Every shift in my seat and rise of my chin is a conscious movement to coerce my body into calm.  I follow the second hand on the round grey clock mounted above Sonya’s desk, hyper-focused on each tick, tick, tick, and the nearly imperceptible bounce between each second.  Please, please don’t let this be the end, I silently pray.  I can’t sit through endless interviews and wear heels every day.  Humor doesn’t work. The back of my neck starts to prickle.

Two of our IT guys had their jobs eliminated this year.  The smartest woman I know lost her job and her house, and has been living in a homeless shelter for three months.  My mother-in-law receives too much in Unemployment benefits to qualify for public health insurance.  My dad hasn’t been able to find steady work in years.  This recession has hit everyone so hard.  I’m grateful to have this job, no matter how much I hate it sometimes.  My panic is rising.  What if they really do fire me?

I’ve been sitting in the chief’s office for an hour now.  My coworkers are well into their shift.  They’re probably swamped with calls and wondering where the hell I am.  The clock on the wall continues its mocking tick, tick, tick.  Tears are pooling in the corners of my eyes.  I rub the tops of my thighs slowly, hoping I appear casually unconcerned as I dry my sweating palms on my jeans.  Don’t crack, I say to myself.  Calm down.  Don’t cry.

Our Internal Affairs officer peeks around the corner of the doorway. “Janine?  We’re ready for you.”  His breathy, simpering voice makes me want to punch him in his damn face.  I force a weak smile and follow him through the hallway, past the last dregs of burnt coffee, and into a grey conference room too small for the group of people inside:  Robin, the deputy chief, a captain, some pencil pusher I don’t know, and now us.  The captain sits at the far end of the table slowly simmering, red-faced, lips pursed, eyes ready to spill angry tears.  The other three look as if they stopped breathing ten minutes ago.  The deputy chief motions to an empty chair.  “Have a seat, Janine.”

The deputy chief introduces the pencil pusher as so-and-so from Human Resources.  I don’t hear more than fragments of the speech that follows, but I understand enough.  I hear the drunk kid’s name; something about the investigation; a decision has been made to terminate my employment; here is my last paycheck and vacation pay-out, please sign here;  Robin will escort me to clean out my locker, and then escort me to my car.

There’s no stopping it now:  the floodgates open, and the tears come.  I sign my name in the general vicinity of a smeary line and accept my paperwork. In between chokes I apologize for crying.  Their voices turn soft and understanding, but they, unlike me, are still employed, and they don’t snot and ugly-cry in a room full of law enforcement professionals.  They shake my hand and wish me luck.  I wish they wouldn’t.

Robin walks  me to the locker room.  I feel like a criminal.  As soon as the door closes behind us, I turn around to face her, drop my head into the crook of her neck, and bawl outright.  It’s more than tough-chick Robin can take.  We stand in the middle of the room, surrounded by cold grey lockers with our arms around each other.  “I tried,” she sobs into my shoulder.  “I tried so hard.”

Oh, What a Day

My Tuesday morning started with rain.  Lovely, silvery, crystal rain that makes the drab streets shine and the colors of everyday life vibrant.  I made sure I had my camera AND memory card before I headed out the door.  School is out until January, but I wanted to snap my view shots in the rain, so I swung by the college just for you guys.

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-18

San Gabriel Mountains (or not), 12-18

Naturally, it stopped raining before I got there.  I tried to take my mountain shot without the parking lot, but my auto focus rebelled.  I like my auto focus a great deal, much more than my manual focus, so I compromised and gave it some lines to focus on.

Construction, 12-18

Construction, 12-18

I had hoped to be in the rain, to prove my “stoicism in ‘all weather’ shoots” to Steve Pulley.  Oh well.

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-18

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-18

As you can see it was still plenty drippy out.  I decided it was the perfect time to introduce you to the sculptures in the sculpture garden.

The first thing you must know:  there are only three…yes, three…whole sculptures in the sculpture garden.  There was one more, but it seems to have disappeared.

"Bound Goat" by Jack Zajak

“Bound Goat” by Jack Zajak

goat3

Close up of “Bound Goat”

Before I actually looked at it, I thought this was a bull.  Hmm.

"Column Figure" by Stephan Balkenhol

“Column Figure” by Stephan Balkenhol

Close-up of "Column Figure"

Close-up of “Column Figure”

Column guy here is roughly 10 feet tall, including his column.

"Red Pine" by Deborah Butterfield

“Red Pine” by Deborah Butterfield

horsey3

Close-up of “Red Pine”

Last week I learned something astonishing about this beautiful driftwood sculpture:  it’s not wood at all!  It’s metal! Cast bronze and scrap metal to be exact.  Even up close it looks like wood: you have to touch it to believe it.

The lingering droplets of rain and extra-vivid colors were too good to pass up, so I took some flora close-ups, too:

Fountain grass

Fountain grass

Pampas grass

Pampas grass

More pampas grass

More pampas grass

My favorite pampas grass shot

My favorite pampas grass shot

Raindrops on something green

Raindrops on something green

These were the unedited shots.  I played with some special effects on my paint program to make them look extra special in black and white, but I won’t bore everyone with those.  You can view them here if you’d like.

Peek-a-boo!

Peek-a-boo!

The elevator in the parking garage has a mirrored ceiling. 🙂

I took myself to the Reyn for coffee, breakfast, nice people and a comfy corner to spread out my book notes. (In case you’re a new friend and don’t know, I’m writing a book for my grandmother, my Oma, about her experiences during WWII in the Netherlands.) I decided to tackle the beginning, the opening that describes her family and life before the war came.  I thought it would be easy since she wrote a good chunk of it herself, and the rest she dictated while I typed.  The plan was to simply organize the information into a decent opening.  Easy peasy, right?

No, not at all.

As I went through my notes, I found lots of little mistakes.  Oma has more than a touch of dementia, so I already anticipated something like this.  During our interviews I had her repeat as many stories as I could without being obvious about it, just to make sure they were consistent.  I didn’t think to double and triple-check background and family information.  I can do my research and fix it all, but it’s time-consuming and she wants her book sooner than yesterday.

My biggest concern, though, is that making these corrections is beginning to alter the story:  it’s becoming her story versus the story.  But whose story is the story?  Mine?  This isn’t a book that’s going to be on any Best Seller lists, so in the grand scheme of things I guess it doesn’t matter if some of her details are wrong, especially since they’re true to her.  If she was in her right mind, though, she’d want me to make the corrections.  At this point I don’t know which is the more ethical choice: to correct or not to correct?  It drove me to frustrated tears.

Back at Mom’s house the weather was funky.  First it started to hail itty-bitty balls that looked like nonpareils.  Then it started to rain big drops…

Sunny rain.

Big rain drops and proof of my stalwartness

…but it was sunny!  Look!

Sun!

Sun in the rain

Sun + rain = rainbows, so I scanned the skies.

No rainbow here.

No rainbow here.

Or here.

Or here.

Nothing but clouds there.

Nothing but clouds there.

Maybe it slipped through this cloud hole?

Maybe it slipped through this cloud hole?

I never found a rainbow.

About ten minutes after the rain stopped, the wind picked up.  It blew the clouds clean away, but somehow the skies were still dark.  The mountains were illuminated orange, then pink, and wouldn’t you know the camera battery decided it was the perfect time to die completely.  Which was okay, really, because the wind was freezing cold!  It drove us back inside to scramble for any little bit of warmth or coziness we could find.

The wind blew through the night.  It was calm this morning, but still so cold.  We were thankful, though, that we didn’t get a windstorm like we had last year, that kept us cold and without electricity for four days.  (Here are some aftermath shots from that exciting night.)

Whew!  Quite the Tuesday!

Hope you all are keeping warm and holding your loved ones a little closer.  ❤

View Club N’ Stuff

I have to be in class super early in the morning (8:00, when it usually starts at 9:15) because of finals.  Naturally, I can’t sleep.  Not because I’m nervous about the final, since I don’t have one, but because I’ve been having a crappy week.  I’m trying to stay calm and be positive, or at least flexible, but my nerves are getting the better of me.

In the meantime, I finally finished my last school project!  Yay!  We had to take samples of our work and make a book.  I used just one long essay, about being fired from my last job.  Some of you read it when I sent it out and begged for feedback.  You can read the final draft here.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

Class project: make a book from writing samples.

We didn’t have to do more than fold or staple some paper, but I got crafty.

I forgot my View Club photos last Wednesday, so I made a special trip to school Monday to take them.  I didn’t have class, you see.  It was a glorious, stereotypical Southern California day.

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-10

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-10

I definitely like this shot better without the ugly parking lot.

Construction, 12-10

Construction, 12-10

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-10

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-10

It was such a beautiful day that I took an extra shot of the mountains:

Mountains east, 12-10

Mountains east, 12-10

This is a little east of the usual shot, which is due north.  A big rainstorm is expected to move in today and last until the weekend sometime.  I can’t wait!  The light-colored peak in the above picture will probably get snow.  That’s Mt. San Antonio, aka Mt. Baldy. It’s one of the taller peaks in the range, and I believe it’s the most easterly ski mountain.  If today’s storm is particularly big or cold, the tippy-tops of our mountains might get a dusting of snow, too.

I’m finally yawning.  Have a lovely Wednesday.

A Day of Compliments

After class yesterday, I stayed behind with two classmates, Maria and Vicky, who are Italian and Russian respectively.  They began talking about how much they miss their own cultures and how dissatisfied they are with American culture.  Maria said I’m one of the most human Americans she knows, and Vicky said she is fed up with superficial, emotionless Americans.  “You are an exception, though, Janine.  I’m sorry, Honey, but it’s true,” she crooned, and gave me an apologetic hug as if she were insulting me.  It made me laugh.  How is that an insult, to be called human and unsuperficial?

Then later on at The Reyn, Jess and I were engaged in a conversation about…I don’t even know what about, to be honest, but the subject of jobs came up.  “You should work here,” Jess said.

“I’d love to work here.  How much fun would that be?”

Israel, the owner, whipped around.  “Why didn’t you tell me that when I was looking for a new waitress?”  he almost screeched at me.

“I’ve never worked in a restaurant!”

“Bah! You’d be a good fit here!”

The Reyn, if you haven’t read about it yet, is an old, small coffee shop that my family and I frequent.  They’ve never had more than a couple waitresses, and only during busy times, so losing one is losing a big chunk of the staff.  They’ve been down a waitress for about a year.  Israel finally hired a couple of young guys from a type of work-study program, and while they’re good kids, they’re less than stellar at their jobs.

Israel looked at me out of the corner of his eye.  “Maybe I should fire Matthew.”

If only.

One of my classes at school is actually a position on the staff of an annual literary magazine called InscapeInscape only meets officially in the fall semester, to choose the written pieces that will be published that year.  Last week…okay so maybe it’s been a week of compliments…last week the instructor told us that we can continue to work on the magazine next semester and he’d sign off on independent study credit for it.  After class, he asked me specifically if I’d continue on the staff, because he thought my input would be valuable.  I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m the only grown-up on the staff this year:  professors seem to appreciate students over 30.  Still, how nice was that?

OH!   I submitted my essay, When The Hospital Calls, to be published in Inscape, and it was accepted!  Several other editors, not knowing it was mine, said it was one of their favorite pieces of non-fiction.  It would have benefited from more revision, but, you know, wouldn’t they all.  This counts as being a published writer!  Woo-Hoo!

If you read the essay and don’t know Joe, here he is, alive and well 10 years after surviving a brain aneurism:

Jojo, 12-03-12

Jojo, 12-03-12

I learned how to knit this week.  Go me!  My sister, Shelly, bought some round knitting looms that are good for making hats, so last night I made my first hat.  Joe is modeling it.  He actually kept it and wore it to work this morning.

My views for Monday:

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-03

San Gabriel Mountains, 12-03

I decided to get a tighter shot of the mountains with less parking lot.  Today my point of reference is hidden behind clouds, so I expect this shot to change again.  Wednesday should be clear, so I’ll be closer to getting it right.

construction, 12-03

construction, 12-03

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-03

Boone Sculpture Garden, 12-03

Here is the rest of The View Club, you should go take a looksie:

Celi, from The Kitchen’s Garden (Celi’s currently on vacation, so go back a day or more)

Claire, from Promenades Plantings

Marie, from My Little Corner of Rhode Island

Linda, from Life on a Colorado Farm

Cathy, from Words and Herbs