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Advice to my 16-Year-Old Self

November 14, 2019

Me at age 16 (It’s the best I could do)

Last month I had the great pleasure of seeing my musical hero, Mary Chapin Carpenter, in concert. I’ve seen her so many times I’ve lost count, and each performance brings something different to me. This concert she performed alongside Shawn Colvin. The two of them have been best friends for decades and decided to give a performance that was not just musical, but full of stories; especially stories that related to the songs they sung.

Carpenter sang “This Shirt,” which is a song from her second album and has become a fan favorite (it’s also my mom’s favorite). In this tune, which she said is all a true story, she sings about a shirt she’d since high school and all the memories associated with that piece of clothing. It’s a very personal, yet simple and beautiful song. She and Colvin then reminisced about being 16-year-old high school students, and the advice they would give their younger selves.

Perhaps it’s my reflective mood and the fact that I just turned 44, but that song and conversation got me thinking about who I was at that age. It feels like a lifetime ago that I was 16. In many ways, it was; as that was 28 years ago.

I turned 16 on November 6, 1991, which was during my junior year of high school. The high school years were not the favorite years of my life, but what I remember most about my junior year is being a reporter on the student newspaper (writing was ever-present, even then) and loving my American Literature class. I got my driver’s license the day I turned 16 and my first job at Dairy Queen that December. I wore baggy sweatshirts. (Ironically, so does Sophie today. Baggy is back, apparently.) And I loved U2, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, the “Singles” soundtrack, was intrigued by Nirvana, and a quick Google of the Billboard hits of 1991 reinforced the fact that I wasn’t a fan of Top 40, even at that age.

After listening to Carpenter, I came up with the following 16 pieces of advice I would tell my younger self:

1. Don’t use credit cards. Learn how to budget and save your money.

2. Keep writing, even if it’s bad poetry.

3. Today is just one chapter of what will be a huge novel.

4. Don’t be so afraid of what you don’t know.

5. Life is really hard and it takes a long time to feel like you’re home

6. Leave home and go away to college.

7. Know that a bad grade isn’t going to to make or break you.

8. Stop worrying about whether those guys like you. They won’t mean anything in the long run, and they’ll provide great stories for the future.

9. Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t fit in your clothes. Worry if you feel like you don’t fit in your own body.

10. Don’t hurry to grow up. Being an adult is hard and you’ll never get that time back.

11. Spend more time in the record stores because they’ll be gone one day.

12. Take music lessons. Learn to the play the piano and the guitar.

13. Don’t take AP biology. It seems cool, but the teacher is as much of a jerk as everyone said he was.

14. Don’t quit volleyball tryouts. Go back on the second day and try again. Even if you don’t make the team, you will have tried.

15. It’s okay to lose control every once in a while. You’re going to lie and do stupid things. Doing those things don’t make you a bad person. It makes you human.

16. Life gets so much better. Just hang on a little longer. You’ll find your way eventually.

What advice would you give to your 16-year-old self? Would you have headed your own advice?

44 Questions Answered About Me and My 44 Years

November 7, 2019

I turned 44 years old yesterday. When I turned 39, I wrote a blog post that included 39 things about myself. I decided to take on that challenge again this year, and write 44 things about myself. It was tougher than the last time because I had to come up with new items to share. I again took my quest to the streets of Facebook and Instagram and asked friends to send me questions to answer. I received so many great and introspective questions! It was hard to write some of these answers. But here they are, along with a few little-known facts I’ve added.

1. What’s something most people don’t know about you? I wear a retainer/nightguard in my mouth every night to sleep. If I don’t, I clench my jaw unknowingly.

2. Sophie asked me why I started running. There are many nuanced answers to that question that will come later in the form of a longer written piece. But the short answer is this: In October 2016 (almost three months after moving to Indiana), I felt the urge to move outside in the beauty of my new surroundings. I was tired of feeling sedentary and living life “inside,” and felt the need to escape. So I put on running shoes and ran/walked for what was probably one mile. Something about it clicked inside me and fulfilled a need I didn’t know I had … and I haven’t stopped since.

3. What is my dream/bucket list run of any you could choose from anywhere in the world? I’d love to run a half marathon at Mount Rushmore, through the Rocky Mountains, or under the evening desert stars at Joshua Tree.

4. Do you regret any of your life choices? I’m the type of person who believes everything happens for a reason. I don’t necessarily look at a poor choice as a regret, but as a decision that will lead me down a different road (even if it’s not clear what that road looks like at the time). So while I may regret things I’ve said or done, I don’t have regrets about my bigger life choices.

5. Can you dress the same at 44 as you did at 24? I don’t think anyone wants to see me dress the way I did at 24. But most who know me would probably say my wardrobe and “style” have not changed much in 20 years.

6. What’s the most important lesson I’ve learned in my first 44 years? That the hardest choices are often the ones that are the most important and necessary to make. That fear and sadness are temporary, and they lead to something greater. That you’ll never know the impact you may have on a person.

7. Why did you decide to become a writer? I love hearing people’s stories and having the ability to tell them through written words. And I believe that words have power, and by telling stories (others or our own), we can change lives.

8. What’s the best thing about being in your 40s? I don’t know if this has to do with being in my 40s or where I currently live, but I feel like there’s an ease in my life now and I don’t feel “rushed” anymore.

9. How happy are you living in the Midwest? I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and the Midwest has brought it out in me.

10. What’s your favorite running distance? I like 10 – 12 miles, especially if I’m running with friends. It’s  enough to feel like I’ve done something physically and long enough to have a few good conversations. But not so long that I need to wear fuel and supplies on my back.

11. What is your favorite go-to spot on the San Diego State University campus? No matter the time of year, I always loved standing on Campanile Walkway and facing Hardy Tower and sundial.

12. What are you most surprised about living in the Midwest and/or Terre Haute? This may sound odd, but I’m surprised at the people I’ve found here in Terre Haute. Three years ago, I had no idea this tribe of friends and people even existed, and now they’re a deep part of my life. It’s a very surreal feeling.

13. If writing wasn’t your dream job, what do you think would be? Producing documentaries.

14. Was there a story that changed you? There are so many stories that change me! But last fall, I attended a storytelling workshop and listened to an episode of “The Moth” entitled “It Matters a Great Deal.” This story broke me wide open, to the point that I could not stop sobbing in the class and my friend/the instructor thought she broke me. I’m still not quite sure what it is that moved me so much, but to say the story changed me is an understatement.

15. Who has had the most impact on you as a writer. So many writers, from the screen to songs to books! Aaron Sorkin, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Taylor Goldsmith, Andre Dubus III, Cheryl Strayed, James L. Brooks, Joan Didion, Robert Frost, E.B. White, Jeannette Walls … I’m sure I’m missing tons.

16. If you had a week to yourself, how would you spend it? I’d go somewhere I’ve never been and run, hike, read, write, eat, sleep and explore what it has to offer.

17. What breaks your heart? When the truth is right in front of you, but for whatever reason, it’s unattainable. 

18. What do you most want Sophie to know about you as a person, not just as her mother? There’s a line of dialogue from the movie “20th Century Women” that struck me when I first heard it. Annette Bening says to a friend of her teenage son: “You get to see him out in the world, as a person. I never will.” A friend reminded me that Sophie could say the same for me; that she never sees me in the world outside the lens of a mother.

So to answer that question, I want her to know I’m a person who feels things deeply, even though I don’t always express it the way she does. That I’m a person who is scared and doesn’t have all the answers. That I’m a person that loves the simple beauty of life and doesn’t need much to be happy; but the things I do need, I need them desperately. That I’m human and I’m doing the best I can with all I know so far.

19. What is your favorite article you’ve written? The feature story I wrote about Terre Haute ultra runners is one of my favorite pieces because I admire these individuals so much, and hearing their stories inspired something within me.

20. What is one piece of wisdom that you hope truly sticks with Sophie? You’re not a victim. Life doesn’t happen to you. If you don’t like a situation, change the circumstance. And if you can’t change the circumstance, then change your outlook and re-frame the situation into something you can control. Be your own advocate in life.

21. Heaven forbid you have to move from Terre Haute! But if you did, where would you go? I’d want to go somewhere that has four seasons and beautiful nature. I think about New England sometimes, and also Colorado.

22. What’s your favorite food find from here in the Midwest? I love a good Tenderloin.

23. Your foot is broken, and you can’t run for three months. What do you do to fill the time you would usually spend running? I’d cry … and then I’d write to fill the time. And try to find something else to occupy my time in nature.

24. Am I correct in thinking you’ve been involved in PTO (Parent Teacher Organization)? If so, what advice do you have for new PTO parents? I served as the PTO president at Sophie’s elementary school for two years. I would say two things. First, say hello and introduce yourself to every parent/grandparent that comes to a meeting or event (you’d be surprised how many people never introduce themselves). Second, don’t assume people know what you’re talking about – always explain.

25. What’s your favorite winter holiday tradition? Seeing the Christmas light displays, running in lightly falling snow, and baking/giving away cookies.

26. What’s your best advice for elementary students who are just learning to write/tell stories? Don’t doubt that you have something to say that’s worthy of writing down. Everyone’s story and words are unique; embrace yours.

27. If Lifetime made a movie about your life, what would the title be and who would you cast to play you? “The Long and Winding Road,” with proper credit to Paul McCartney. When I was a teenager, I wanted nothing more than to look like Julia Roberts. So she seems like a logical choice. But since I don’t have cable, I’m not sure I’d be able to watch this movie.

28. What motivates you to run 100 miles? I haven’t run 100 miles (yet), but what motivates me to run ultra distances is seeing what my mind and body are capable of doing, what I can learn about myself that I didn’t know before, and the camaraderie that comes with the people that are part of the experience.

29. If you had to assign yourself a chronological age based on how you feel today, what age are you? 40-years-old.

30. How does running make you feel? Alive.

31. What have you learned from running? That my runs are like fingerprints and snowflakes — no two are alike. Running has taught me that there’s beauty in the unknown and that every move brings something different — whether it’s a physical feeling, an unexpected emotion, pain, endorphins, random thoughts, or inspiring views. Life isn’t easy, nor is it predictable. Just like my runs, every day is different from the one before and the one that will follow.

32. What is your favorite television show? My favorite television show is “The Killing.” I have binge-watched it more times than I care to admit. It’s followed by “The West Wing.” These shows are very different in plot and nature, but represent deep characters and excellent writing.

33. Have you ever had surgery? I’ve had my share of surgeries over the years. When I was in middle school, I had surgery on my big toenails and roots (ingrown toenail problems). I’ve had two sinus surgeries, a parathyroid removal, and a c-section.

34. What food won’t you eat? I am not a picky eater and will generally try anything. But there are a few things on my “exclusion list.” They include fennel, green peppers, melon (watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe), and Rice Krispies Treats.

35. What is something you were told that surprised you? A staff member once said she always appreciated it when I said “thank you” after I asked her to do something. I never thought twice about saying that, but apparently it meant something to her.

36. What’s one of the best pieces of advice you’ve been given? This came from my friend Ann marie, who adapted it from Cheryl Strayed: “You’re not a terrible person because you want to change the terms of one particular relationship. Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

37. What’s your favorite song? “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor.

38. What’s your favorite piece of clothing you’ve ever owned? I used to have this light tan field coat/barn jacket. It had flannel on the inside and a brown corduroy collar and cuffs. It was barely cold enough to use in San Diego, but I wore it any opportunity I had. I loved that jacket, but I ended up giving it away before moving to Indiana.

39. What’s something big you learned this past year? What vulnerability is and its role my life.

40. What’s a guilty pleasure? I’m a candy junkie! I prefer to binge on non-chocolate items – hot tamales, sour patch kids, Starburst, cinnamon bears. But my favorite Halloween candy is Twix.

41. Do you believe in fate? Yes.

42. What’s your favorite comfort food? Chinese food.

43. What’s something you’re known for among your friends? Multiple friends say I have a great memory. In college, a few of them nicknamed me “Memorex.”

44. If these 44 years are all you’ve got on this earth, how would you wish to be remembered? My answer comes from the last line of one of my favorite stories: “It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.”

Thanks for reading, for asking the questions, and playing a role in my 44 years!

Grateful for the Ability to Enjoy Each Step … And Other Lessons from Indiana Trail 100K

October 29, 2019

When I worked in one of my positions at San Diego State University, I hired several student assistants to work on various projects. One of those students was a young lady from Chicago named Kristine. She was one of those people that you knew would do great things. And among the many great things she did, Kristine went on to become a very talented runner. She ran marathons and ultra distances that left me in awe long before I started my own running journey.

Two years ago, Kristine was hit by a car and embarked on a road to recovery that kept her from running for quite some time. A few weeks ago, Kristine posted about that experience on Facebook. I reached out to tell her that I appreciated her story and she’s been an inspiration to me. I also shared with her my plan to run a 100K. Among her encouraging words, Kristine said this:

Be grateful for the ability to enjoy each step.”

Those words stayed in my head from the minute I read them, throughout the day of my race, and the days since.

******

On October 12, I embarked on the most physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done — the Indiana Trail 100K race. I started training for this run back in June, and continued through the hot and humid summer months. I hit my training peak about three weeks before the race, when I ran a marathon (26.2 miles) on Friday and then achieved a personal record (PR) time completing a half marathon the next day. I felt strong and ready.

The 100K consisted of 62 miles on trails at Chain O’Lakes State Park in Albion, Indiana. At 5:55 a.m. – on the coldest morning of the season thus far – I started my run in the dark with a headlamp for vision. I ran as the sun rose and would later witness an overwhelmingly beautiful orange full moon rise. I ran alongside water, through grass, and among tress and brightly-colored fall leaves. The course was beautiful; I was privileged to move on it. I had everything I needed for a successful race: a strong training foundation, hydration and food supplies, the right clothes and shoes, an awesome crew, pacer and wonderful friends offering support, and confidence to finish the race. And I had a crystal clear vision of myself finishing that race. I saw it in my head, how I expected it to play out.

As with many things in life, the race didn’t go according to my plan. At around mile 42, I started to feel very nauseous. I chose to continue on my third and final loop of 20 miles with my pacer, assuming the nausea would eventually pass. Well, it didn’t. It actually got worse and the stomach pain intensified to the point where I couldn’t run at all, and had a hard time even walking. We tried everything to make it pass, but nothing helped. At one point, I felt very weak and thought I may pass out. And it was at that point that I made the decision walk to the next aid station, which would put me at 51 miles completed, and then drop from the race.

I knew I would experience pain on this run. I knew my legs and feet would ache something fierce. I did not, however, expect stomach issues would take me out of finishing the 100K. I was emotional and very disappointed I couldn’t accomplish my goal.

Eventually and after I dropped from the race, my stomach started to feel better. I ate and rested at the start/finish tent, and found some renewed energy to cheer on my friend, John, who broke a record finishing his 100-mile race in 20 hours. I was cold and felt broken inside, but elated and proud as I stood with a good friend and saw John and our close friend (my pacer/his pacer) cross the finish line. I yelled and cheered with these people surrounding me; and for a few moments, there was no pain at all. Just pure happiness and immense gratitude.

The disappointment of not finishing lingered a bit, but it started to be replaced with the realization that I finished 51 miles. At the beginning of 2019, my longest distance run was a mere seven miles. This was a major accomplishment in a weekend that was full of friendship and happiness. A friend asked me if I ever imagined I’d be surrounded with these friends and their support. I cry every time I think of that because the answer is, no, and I don’t know how I ever got so lucky. But I’m forever thankful for these people that have become my family.

That vision I so clearly had of crossing the finish line didn’t come to fruition. Instead, it was replaced with something else entirely. It was a bit more painful, but just as special in its own way.

******

One of the lessons I think I needed to learn from my IT100K experience is that these races, just like life, don’t always go according to plan. You can train perfectly and be extremely prepared. But in reality, you can only plan so much and the rest is up to fate or something bigger than you. And I have to surrender to that and embrace what the universe wants for me.

Many people already subscribe to this philosophy. But for me, someone who plans things and sets out to accomplish a goal, it’s a hard lesson to learn. But it’s a necessary one, and one that will make the rest of my journey on this earth a little easier and much richer.

Runs and races don’t go according to what you expect them to be; and neither does life. But it doesn’t mean you’ve failed or the experience is any less beautiful. It means you’re meant to find a different path and discover something new.

******

I’ve had a lot of people ask me if I will attempt a race of that magnitude again. Do I want to put myself through months of strict training? Is running ultra races worth the physical and mental pain that comes with it?

Here’s the best way I can answer those questions: People always say there’s so much pain that comes with childbirth. But once the baby arrives, you forget the pain and that helps you want to have more kids. That statement never quite rang true for me with respect to having children. But it’s the perfect description for how I feel post-race. Yes, I was sore and totally exhausted (I still am). But I’ve almost forgotten how physically painful the day was. All I can think about is wanting to go back out there and do more of that.

That weekend was life-affirming and one of the best experiences of my entire life. It reminded me why I love running, and solidified for me who I am, who I want to be, and I felt completely at home among my friends, nature and movement through the trails and life. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience. And I’m extremely grateful that I have the ability to enjoy each step I took out there and the ones still to come.

A New Year, Casting Away the Past and Towards New Beginnings

October 3, 2019

It probably comes as no surprise to any regular reader of this blog that I love the season of autumn. Leaves changing colors and falling to cover the ground, new school year, weather turning crisp and cooler, apples, pumpkins, Halloween, Thanksgiving, boots and sweaters … I love them all! But there’s another reason fall is my favorite time of year, and that’s the idea of it being a new beginning.

In the Jewish tradition, it is, literally, a new year. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, typically falls in September, and this year it was celebrated September 30. Ten days later is Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. For those of you not familiar with the Jewish traditions, here’s the abbreviated version: We begin each new year with a fresh start. And on Yom Kippur, you atone for your sins of the past year by asking God for forgiveness. You’re forgiven and you start the year with a clean slate.

One of the rituals performed on Rosh Hashanah is a service called Tashlich, which comes from the Hebrew word meaning “to cast.” During Tashlich, you toss pieces of bread into water as if you’re casting away your sins while also throwing in your hopes/goals for the new year. I like the idea of acknowledging the past, but focusing on the future.

The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Days of Awe. This is a time of deep introspection to reflect on the past and what you want for your future. There’s a prayer that’s chanted in Hebrew during these High Holidays that, when translated to English, says, “On Rosh Hashanah it is written. On Yom Kippur, it is sealed.” It’s referring to our future in the Book of Life.

*******

I don’t write a lot about religion, mainly because I don’t consider myself a “religious” person in the traditional sense of the word. I do not regularly attend services or pray consistently. I didn’t grow up religious. But my Jewish heritage is an important part of my life and I do consider myself a “spiritual” person. I look for spiritual meaning where I can — whether it’s in people, nature, experiences, books, writing — and Judaism has provided me with opportunities to find it.

When I lived in San Diego, I was a member of a large Jewish congregation. It was a nice community and I met some great people there. But I never left the holiday services or events feeling spiritually fulfilled. Mind you I always left feeling like I had a place to be when I needed it. But in big cities, congregations tend to be very large (at least the ones in San Diego are) and I felt like I was one small part of a very large sea of worshipers. While I knew many of the people, those services didn’t feel personal to me.

When I moved to Terre Haute three years ago, I was nervous about how I would find Jewish life in a small town. Mainly, I wondered if Judaism existed here. Would Sophie spend the rest of her days in Indiana not knowing any Jewish kids? Would I have a place to worship when I wanted to attend a service to celebrate the holidays? Eventually I made my way to United Hebrew Congregation. It’s a small community, but a warm one. And those who are involved are committed and passionate about sustaining Judaism in Terre Haute.

Two years ago this fall, I found myself sitting in the United Hebrew Congregation’s sanctuary during a Rosh Hashanah service. I gazed up from my prayer book to admire the beautiful stained glass artwork that adorned the windows. I looked around the room at the small, but significant group of people around me, and I listened as we all chanted the same Hebrew prayers in unison. I felt a warm feeling of peace and tranquility come over me that I could not explain. And in that moment, I started to cry. They were not tears of sadness or even tears of joy; simply tears of being and feeling something beyond what I knew. For me, that moment was spirituality.

In all my life, I never imagined I’d find myself sitting in a tiny Jewish temple in a small town, in the middle of America, celebrating the new year and casting away my past. I thought about this a lot when I attended Rosh Hashanah services earlier this week. I thought about how far I’ve come in the last three years since moving to Indiana. And how every year – and every day – is another page in the journey through the Book of Life.

The idea of a fresh start and freeing myself of the past was particularly meaningful to me this year. I think about how I want my story to be written. I think about who needs forgiveness along the way, and perhaps it’s myself that deserves repentance and forgiveness.

“On Rosh Hashanah it is written. On Yom Kippur, it is sealed.”

Until next year, when it’s time to begin anew, again.

Remembering the Haunting Santa Ana Winds

September 19, 2019

The opening pages of Janet Fitch’s “White Oleander” novel has haunted me since the first time I read it, nearly 18 years ago. It’s in these passages that she talks about the foreboding Santa Ana winds.

“The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert, shriveling the last of the spring grass into whiskers of pale straw. Only the oleanders thrived, their delicate poisonous blooms, their dagger green leaves. We could not sleep in the hot dry nights, my mother and I. … “Lovers who kill each other now will blame it on the wind.” She held up her large hand and spread the fingers, let the desert dryness lick through. My mother was not herself in the time of the Santa Anas.”

Of courses this is a fictional passage from a novel that foreshadows the mother committing murder in the story. But the idea of the Santa Ana winds as ominous is not hard to imagine, at least not to me.

Growing up in Southern California, I dreaded Santa Ana wind season. The dryness of the winds brought sandpaper skin and lips that soaked up ChapStick by the second. My wavy hair turned stick straight and stood up from static, and my contact lenses felt like they were scratching my eye balls.

When I was young, the Santa Anas typically appeared in early summer. But as the climate changed and I became an adult, the heat shifted to the fall. September through November – the months that should have been full of cool autumnal breezes and sweaters – were marked by days of unending dry heat in homes without air conditioning. And every few years, the glaring sun, high temperatures and gusts of wind would form a perfect storm. Wildfires broke out that made their way down the California inland valleys with a vengeance.

This was the scene in October 2003. I smelled the smoke immediately. Before I was even awake I knew what it was. Fire in the distance and smoke permeated through my nose and the house. It was eight days before Halloween. It was morning, but it was dark; only the haze of the burning sun and tiny smoke dust particles lit the room. Sirens were sounding in the distance. The phone was ringing with calls from concerned friends and family, asking if I was aware my community was on an evacuation order.

I had to get out of the house and escape what could turn into a trap. Minutes felt like seconds as I gathered photographs, scrapbooks and albums, important documents, and other treasured belongings and loaded them into my small Honda Civic. All the while, the only thing I could smell was the fire and smoke and what could become burned up life if the flames had their way.

We spent the next three days with friends in the coastal region; an area untouched by the threat of fire. This was before social media. So for three days, I watched the local news for reports of where the fires were going, which houses they destroyed, and to see if my address was listed on the roster of homes that were damaged. When the evacuation order was lifted, I made my way home to see if my house, which sat on shrub-filled canyon, was still standing. Thankfully, it was. But I knew many people who weren’t so lucky.

The haunting feeling of those October Santa Ana winds and fires never left me. In fact, they made their way back in another October, this one four years later. I was eight months pregnant and living in a different house. But those same winds again broke out with a vengeance and fires swept Southern California.

I knew it was coming. The foreboding weather was not going to rest that October. With only one week left at San Diego State University before I started maternity leave, I went into work that Sunday to finish projects in the quiet of an empty office. I cleaned my desk and checked off tasks. I left campus with an eerie feeling of calm, like I knew I was not coming back any time soon (even though my alarm was already set for morning).

That evening, the winds kicked up and unconstrained fires burned up regions of San Diego. We evacuated the house, just for one night this time. But the air was so polluted with smoke and ash that schools and college campuses were closed the following week for health reasons. And I started my maternity leave one week early.

One May afternoon several years later, the Santa Anas blew so strong that they knocked a beautiful little bird into our sliding glass door. It laid on the ground, looking wounded or dead. Minutes later, the tiny creature was gone. This was the same week our kitten was killed and I considered the fact that this bird was a signal from another dimension. I wondered if perhaps I imagined the entire episode. The inescapable dry heat makes you question reality.

Santa Anas have a mind of their own. Control is lost to Mother Nature. That’s why it’s easy to read a passage like Fitch’s in “White Oleander” and understand that, perhaps it was the dry Southern California winds that made the mother commit murder. Maybe nature’s inexplicable power turned people into another form of themselves.

Living in Indiana, there are no Santa Ana winds. Dry heat is not a reality in this region of the Midwest. I’m okay with this. My parents don’t understand why I’ll gladly take humidity for the desert any day of the week. But I welcome the escape from the ominous Santa Ana winds, and the haunting memories of my past.

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