Laguna Beach: A Liberal Lost in Orange County

Laguna Beach: A Liberal Lost in Orange County

NorCal Girl in SoCal

When I was 16, my favorite aunt moved to Orange County, CA. I live in Northern California. Throughout my childhood we all, my whole raucous family of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, lived in Northern California. You see how northern has a capital N there? Northern California. Because Northern California is its own separate space. Northern California and Southern California are separate universes within the same galaxy. People not from California may not understand this, but we are very different, NorCal and SoCal. When my aunt, along with my grandmother, moved, they may as well have left the state. So how the hell did I, a native Northern Californian end up falling in love with Orange County? And how did I end up vacationing in Laguna Beach? Let me tell you.

I remember one visit to see my aunt when I was around 25. My hair is long, auburn, wild, and unruly. I wear very little makeup. A giant tattoo of a fairy in flames dances on my right shoulder blade. I was, even then, an outspoken progressive. That woman who throws her head back and laughs with her mouth wide open in the middle of a crowded bar or a quite cafe? Yea, that’s me.

Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

The Beach

But the beaches are a different story. Dana Point, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, Ocean Beach, you name it. The beaches in Southern California are beautiful. I am most at home on the beach.Continue reading…    

Ambivalent About Disneyland: A Family Trip

Ambivalent About Disneyland: A Family Trip

Ambivalent About Disneyland

Let me begin by saying that I do not dislike Disneyland. I know that there has been controversy, especially in my (liberal feminist) circles, over princesses falling for the princes, the artificiality of happily ever, and the massive amounts of cultural appropriation and revisionist history, not to mention the blatant “fleecing” of customers. I get it. I’ve heard the message. And I remain actively ambivalent about Disneyland.

On the one hand, Disney is over the top with the happily-ever-after-every-moment-is-friggin-magical narrative. On the other hand, we can all use a little magic in our lives. I have a five year old, and we live in California. I feel, as an idealist/realist, that I would be doing her a cultural disservice by insisting she not enjoy Disney because <insert outrage here>.

To that end, I have slowly introduced the Disney movies I find appropriate for a small girl. She first watched Merida shoot arrows and change her fate when she was three. Then she sang along at the age of four to Elsa and Anna as they battled with self discovery and made sacrifices for love. Finally, at five, she fell in love with the bold and brown skinned Moana: “Mama!” She exclaimed, her eyes bright. “She looks just like me!”

Along the way she worried over Nemo’s fate, she flew to infinity and beyond with Buzz and Woody, and she still falls in love over and over again with the fairies in Neverland. But most of all, Winnie the Pooh has been a staple in our house from the very beginning. Our house still has A.A. Milne quotes on the wall in stencil from her third birthday party, almost three years ago.

Disney has its magic, and I have gradually revealed that magic to my daughter. And she has breathed it all in like pixie dust filled air. Folklore quotes Einstein as having once said that if you want children to be intelligent, read them fairytales, and if you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairytales. I am not sure if he actually said that, but I am sure it is true.Continue reading…    

Truth and Personal Responsibility: Breaking the Cycle

Truth and Personal Responsibility: Breaking the Cycle

This is the story of how I discovered the importance of truth and personal responsibility. It is not pretty or simple, but it is a crucial part of my journey, and it may become a part of yours as well. I hope so.

Abortion

I was 26 years old, and my boyfriend, the greatest love of my life at the time, was driving me to get an abortion.

A really big part of me did not want to have an abortion. I loved my boyfriend; I loved him the way the moon loves the earth, revolving endlessly around him, moving oceans and tides for him. I wanted to have what would be our baby.

He loved me too. But he loved me the way the earth loves the moon, deeply, but knowing that it will always be there.

We were lovers, but we were not partners. It was a messy, hazy kind of love, young, drunk and confusing.

So when I got pregnant and we discussed what to do, whether to keep the baby, I voted “yes,” and he, of course, voted “no.”Continue reading…    

Why I Homeschool and Why You Should Too

Why I Homeschool and Why You Should Too

Our education system is broken. Yes, broken. It is probably broken beyond repair. At this point, I think the only way to fix our education system is to completely scrap it and start over. I am an educator, I have been in education for more than ten years, longer than I have been a mother. I am a product of the American school system. And let me tell you: the system is broken. So, now you know the primary answer to why I homeschool, and why you should too. But oh, there’s so much more.

Not So Crazy

First, let me tell you who I am, so that you can erase and repaint the “homeschool mom” image you have probably already formed of me in your mind. I am liberal; I am an atheist; I am highly educated; I live in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and I have all my life; I am a feminist.

You will be hard pressed to find a lot of homeschoolers that look like me, though we are a growing group. I am not homeschooling to shelter my child; we get outside virtually every day to parks, playgrounds, hikes, museums, indoor play places, and yes, even classes.

And I am not homeschooling to make sure she only learns my way of thinking; she has taken classes without me from several different teachers from all walks of life on a variety of subjects, and she will continue to do so.

Broken Education System

Next, let me explain what broken means because you may misunderstand me. It does not mean that there are not excellent schools that extract excellent grades from excellent students. I am a humanities and test prep tutor in highly affluent areas; I work with the best of the best of the best.Continue reading…    

Love the City of Hayward: Indoor Play Places

Love the City of Hayward: Indoor Play Places

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, or if you know me at all, you know I homeschool. It is one of the first things that comes up in almost any conversation I have. Often it is because I have a five year old with me in the middle of the day. Which is odd. As a homeschooling mom, I need indoor play places. I would go insane if I had to spend weeks of rain or extreme heat locked inside with a cabin fever kid. So here is yet another reason I love the city of Hayward: we have great indoor play places.

City of Hayward

Why am I writing a piece on indoor play places in the city of Hayward in the fall, you ask? It is neither raining nor extremely hot. To be quite honest, I have a ton of other essays on my list to write, but two things happened. First, I was recently inspired to write about my city. I feel like it has gotten a bad reputation over the years.

When I was a kid growing up in Fremont just a few miles south, Hayward was “that scary place where the rougher kids lived.” What did I know? We were working class, usually broke, but we still lived in a house in the suburbs. Hayward and Oakland were the scary places. Now, I’ve lived here for 20 years, and I never want to leave.

Don’t get me wrong, we have our share of scary city stuff happen.Continue reading…    

Gastric Bypass: Rebeccas’s Story Part Two

Gastric Bypass: Rebeccas’s Story Part Two

*This is a continuation of Part One of Rebecca’s weight loss journey through gastric bypass.

Part Two

The first time I met with Rebecca we met at Zocalo Coffee Shop a few exits from where I live. I love meeting friends and collaborators there because the place just oozes art and creativity, and as an added bonus, my kids can tag along. A side effect of being an attachment parent is that my children are quite attached to me, and Celaya especially is relentless about coming along whenever possible. I don’t mind so much because there’s a nice little play area that keeps both Celaya and Matilda entertained while I talk shop or visit.

The second time I visited Rebecca at her house, so my kids stayed home. I certainly did not expect a woman who had recently undergone surgery and had been in and out of the hospital ever since to hop on down to the local cafe and catch me up on her status while my children tugged on my skirt.

In reality, I likely could have asked Rebecca to meet me. The woman is a nonstop energy machine. She had the surgery August 22, 2017, and since that time barely two months ago she has been packing up the house she lives in, which is in her mother’s estate and now being sold. She’s packed moving boxes, gone camping!, and made it out to her teenage son’s baseball games on weekends.

Leave it to a woman, a mother especially, to not know how to just sit the hell down and recuperate.

Rebecca’s House

I had been to Rebecca’s house years before, and it was exactly as I remembered it, tucked away in the hills, with winding concrete steps surrounded by wild plants. I hope she is able to find another place that suits her so well once this house sells. Rebecca told me once that she had dabbled a bit in Wicca before she became a buddhist, and when you walk up those steps, you do indeed expect to see herb pots with eye of newt and tongue of dog.Continue reading…    

Pancakes From Scratch! Because It’s Just Too Easy

Pancakes From Scratch! Because It’s Just Too Easy

“Maybe we should have pancakes.” My daughter says, when I ask what we should have for breakfast that sunny Saturday morning.

“Hm. Yea, we could. But I don’t have any mix.” I respond, bottom lip between my teeth.

I am a huge fan, HUGE, of making food from scratch. Unless it is just way to much work, I will do it myself from all raw ingredients. I make my own chicken stock; I make macaroni and cheese from scratch; I make cheeseburger macaroni from scratch. Cheeseburger freaking macaroni, as in the Hamburger Helper dish we all ate when we were kids.

Too Much Work

For some reason, though, I have always been convinced that pancakes were going to be super complicated.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a lover of pancakes. Every time we go out to breakfast at a diner I get a side pancake. One pancake on the side. It’s my dessert after breakfast. I’ll order corned beef hash, potatoes, toast, eggs. And a pancake on the side. I only end up eating like a quarter of my breakfast because I want that damn pancake, smothered in butter and syrup.

At home, however, it is an entirely different story.Continue reading…    

Hell Hath No Fury: Women Overcoming Self Doubt

Hell Hath No Fury: Women Overcoming Self Doubt

Recently, I wrote in the femme unfiltered Facebook group that I didn’t suffer from self-doubt because I was “forged in blood and fire.”

Healthy Self Doubt

It was both tongue in cheek and serious. Of course I suffer from self-doubt; I don’t believe for a second that there’s a human on earth who doesn’t suffer from self-doubt. We ask ourselves constantly if what we are doing is right. Anyone who doesn’t do that at least on some level is likely a narcissist.

Except The Rock. Boulder-turned-Dwayne-Johnson probably does not suffer from self-doubt for even one second of the day. And he’s certainly not a narcissist. But the results are still out on whether he’s human or whether he was actually forged by the gods from granite. So we’ll revisit this discussion once the results are in.Continue reading…    

Love the City of Hayward: San Felipe Park

Love the City of Hayward: San Felipe Park

Of all the parks in Hayward, California, San Felipe park is my favorite.

Many of you know I homeschool. Homeschooling is a joy and a pain. I know I am giving my child complete freedom to learn out of genuine curiosity, I know she is free from a harsh and rigid system I disagree with fundamentally, and I know that she will have a natural love of nature and being outside because we go outside A LOT.

The pain comes with the fact that she is in my care all day long every single day of the week. Sometimes mama needs a break. That break takes its form quite often in parks.Continue reading…    

Love the City of Hayward: Yogurt Hill

Love the City of Hayward: Yogurt Hill

Never Leaving the City of Hayward

I live just above the downtown area of the city of Hayward on the top floor of an apartment building overlooking the city and looking out to the hills. My husband and brother have been trying to convince me to move for years. “We could get a house,” they say. “The kids could have a yard,” they say.

“Find me something similar to what I have now, for a similar price, and I will move.” I always respond in the same way.

Especially now that I have children, location is incredibly important to me.

My daughter and I have been walking to our city library (We have a new library going up now, and we cannot wait to get in there!) since she could walk. It is less than a mile away. The hubby and I walk to the movie theater, which is seldom overcrowded, for date nights.  The theater is even closer than the library. I live in a secure building. My apartment has windows on three sides (I get to gaze at the horizon from my desk while I write), a balcony on the backside and a patio on the front, and we enjoy two thousand square feet of space.

No, I’m not leaving until I buy my dream house. (I have been getting more anxious for that recently. More on that later.)

But, I didn’t always live in this big place; we needed the space when my brother moved in after my daughter was born, and we lucked out when the only three bedroom apartment in my building became available. When I was 19, I moved into this building, into a one bedroom apartment on the fourth floor. Years later I moved into a two bedroom. Now we are here.

The Good with the Bad

The building is nothing to brag about. People throw trash in the elevator, vomit in the stairwells, and pee in the hallway. It can be pretty gross sometimes. Plus, our fabulous pool just happens to be located next to the dumpster. So, yea, that’s luxury living at its finest right there. But I understand also that I live just down the hill from my alma mater, California State University of East Bay (Hayward, really), and that college kids and their friends can be idiots. Also, some people never learned the “don’t poop where you eat” rule. Go figure.

But we have a great group of people here who wave to each other as we head out for the day. We make conversation in the elevator (over the vomit), and we ask after each other’s family. We also commiserate over the pee and the trash.

I am not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they say, and I’ll tell you why.Continue reading…