An 8” x 10” Color Glossy

June 16, 1956, Upland, California ~ The first time my parents saw each other after their divorce was at Larry and Marian’s wedding. I have an 8” x 10” glossy reminder of the occasion: the respective parents are flanking the bride and groom, Marian’s parents to her right, smiling big and happy, … [Read more...]

Zane Gray and Nancy Drew

Audio: click arrow to play ~ I wondered if Mom moved a lot on purpose, holding out for the day I wouldn’t find my way home. Moving all the time made me anxious, especially with not having a good sense of direction. I got around on my own, and as soon as I figured out how to get back and forth … [Read more...]

Labor Pains

Lordy, I swear it was easier giving birth to my children than birthing a book. To share my pain: Last September (2013) a whisper inside told me to record an audio of some passages from a family memoir I wrote ten years ago. After one editor, an illustrator, a book cover/website designer, a voice … [Read more...]

Holy Cards, Hell, and High Water

(listen to audio) Summer 1949 • Sonora ~ Sonora was a backwater with no Catholic school, so every summer five young Franciscan nuns in black habits and white wimples were imported to bring the schoolchildren a proper Catholic education. Father Gilmartin, high in his pulpit, was deeply … [Read more...]

Beginnings and Endings

December 1952, Sonora, California Carleen snapped at us. “For the umpteenth time, I don’t know why she left, when we’ll see her again, or where she went, and no, I don’t know if she’s coming back. Now don’t ask any more questions!” Mom was gone, and this time, Carleen knew she wasn’t coming back. … [Read more...]

Perms, Cowlicks, and School Pictures

(Listen to Audio) Carleen always gave us a Toni the day before school pictures; she was making us beautiful. She shampooed us, yanked our snarls, swore at us to quit sniveling, then sat us in a row at the yellow Formica kitchen table. With old bath towels draped over our shoulders, Betty, Claudia, … [Read more...]

Nothin’ But Trouble

August 1948 • Sonora I was welcomed into the family two years after Mom’s first breakdown, but not by her. She didn’t want another child; she wanted out. As far as she was concerned, I was a fifth burden tacking on eighteen years to her prison sentence. Another eighteen years of not wanting to be a … [Read more...]

Pinball Wizard

1932: Colusa to Los Angeles, California Shortly after marrying, my parents (Carl and Babe) moved to Los Angeles where Dad landed a job with the highway crews building the three-lane Ridge Route Alternate, which later became U.S. Route 99 at Grapevine. A hard worker, Dad was always employed, even … [Read more...]

Small Fry Reveries, from Queen Bee

Television Oma, you don’t have a television,” Satchel says to me in surprise. “You’ve known me for four years, and you’ve just noticed?” “Why don’t you like TV?” “I didn’t say I didn’t like TV, I just don’t have one.” “Did you ever?” “Of course. I had one when your dad and Jon were growing up, … [Read more...]

If It’s Not One Thing… It’s Your Mother

Audio: click arrow to play ~ We think our life is someone else’s fault. As victims of circumstance, blown by fate and buffeted by winds, we need somebody to pin it on. Our father often takes the heat, but usually it’s our mother. We also blame the schools, the government, and the past. If it … [Read more...]

Positively Haight Street, 1968

Audio: Positively Haight Street (click arrow to listen) 1968 was the year Eldridge Cleaver published Soul on Ice. He and his wife Kathleen, who had the most immense head of hair I'd ever laid eyes on, banked at my teller window. It was the year of the Yippies, Black Panthers, and the SDS, … [Read more...]

Book Launch @ Readers’

Passages from Behind These Doors: A Family Memoir ~ I posted on Facebook that my book launch Thursday night was a "Life Event." It absolutely was. I felt held, seen, heard, and loved. It was joyous and my heart was filled to the brim. It could very well be the high point of all this (and you … [Read more...]

Unleashing the Flying Monkeys

Writing a memoir is one thing, having others read it is another; it's akin to being a nude model for the first time in front of an art class. But standing naked in front of strangers (or worse yet, in front of family, friends, and everyone in town) has nothing to do with me … [Read more...]

About “Behind These Doors” Published Excerpts

My writing began with “Queen Bee,” a short piece I wrote some years ago that cracked me open like an overripe pomegranate, spilling emotions I’d kept inside since I was a kid. When I shared it with my siblings, it gave us a connection we hadn’t had. That led to a reunion, created out of my interest … [Read more...]