If You Want To Know About Your Kids Check Facebook

property of alifefromasuitcaseIMG_3738I never thought I would be faced with the reality that my kids only need me when there is a problem, otherwise I don’t hear from them. I get it. They are grown up, and busy and all. But it makes me sad when I don’t hear from them for over a week, after confiding in me about their problems, and then I get on Facebook to discover that they are having a blast, something they never tell me about.

I don’t have a problem with them enjoying and living life. All I ask is for them to share in the good news just as much as the bad, so that I can be hopeful, that maybe, just maybe they are finding their happiness.

Is that too much to ask?

{photo I took while passing through a park in the middle of the city on my lunch hour walk 2015}

 

 

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There Is This Florist…

property of alifefromasuitcaseIMG_3745There is this florist on Union Square in San Francisco, who I, check up on, weekly. I’ve seen him in the same spot for decades. Well, technically he’s moved here and there, but always remaining at the corner of Stockton and Geary. He is a true icon of the city, and I hate the fact that he is so old now. I worry about him, and as I mentioned, I walk by his flower shack at least once a week, during my lunch hour, to make sure; it still exists, and he is, even so, around.

I saw him there just yesterday, wearing his black overcoat, his hands and face always a deep reddish-purple I can only assume because he is so cold. But he is determined to work at the very least one or two days a week, organizing, and arranging his bouquets. I think it’s also some sort of therapy for him now. I read somewhere gardening is.  Anyway, I want to stop by and tell him how much I appreciate him, but I never do. I’ve bought flowers from the stand, but never when he’s been around. It’s funny how these things are…

Craving Paris Right About Now

propertyofalifefromasuitcaseEach year, mainly at the end, I tell myself I am done running away to Paris. I do this mostly because my hubby wants us to save money, and build our nest egg or whatever the hell we need to do for when we get old.

For years, I didn’t see it that way, and insisted that we travel. When we bought a house, we stopped traveling and for eight years I hated life. What can I say, I am simply too restless. When we downsized, the first thing, we did was take a trip to Europe, that was in 2010 and since then we’ve gone each year. At the end of 2014, I told him I was ready to settle down, and sacrifice my vacations for the sake of planning for the future.

We both agreed to take small trips instead, driving mostly down south to Los Angeles for a long weekend, and I’d fly to see my daughter in Omaha here and there, and maybe Yosemite, and Muir Woods, or a Napa weekend getaway. As we spoke about all of this over dinner one night, I got more and more depressed. But I kept it in. I think what upset me the most was when he committed to a trip down to Mexico with his brother’s family without knowing the dates. Which we discovered after he paid for it, that it was the same week as our milestone anniversary in July. You know the one where he is supposed to take me to Paris.

Now, here we are at almost the end of January, and I’m starting to get the travel bug I normally get this time of the year, longing to go to Paris. The big question is, will I be able to fight off the urge? You know, since my second daughter is going to get married this year, and needs my help, financially that is.

And why is it that every time I think I can focus solely on myself; something happens to suck me right back in?

{photo I took while walking through the streets in Paris 2013}

Finding Inspiration From A BBC Television Series

propertyofalifefromasuitcaseIMG_3189I’ve been hooked ona BBC television show called Monarch of the Glen. The show aired in the UK from 2000-2005, and is now available through Netflix for all of us in the states to enjoy. So, I’ve been watching it religiously every night, especially after my hubby has gone to bed (since he starts work at 2:30 in the morning), and I am left some time to myself .

The show is set in Scotland, the Highlands, to be more specific, and it’s about a son who returns home from his posh job in London as a restaurateur to help his parents save their family home/castle. The entire series is based on how he creatively, with the help of the family staff, finds ways to do just that, with each episode him learning about the values of family and tradition.

I love the simplicity of the lifestyle, and the way of thinking there, even though it may be far from reality now, since the show aired 10-15 years ago. Each episode has me laughing, thinking, and reflecting on my own past. Outside of pure honest-to-goodness entertainment, the show actually makes me cry.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this show while doing research for my third book since it’s based in Scotland. I wanted the chance to understand the people, and study their dialect, mannerism and so forth to be able to relate my characters as true to life as possible.

This is what I do in my spare time.

{[photo: I took while walking across the Golden Gate Bridge one beautiful October morning 2014}

So What Happens When The Kids Leave Home?

propertyofalifefromasuitcaseI get asked this question a lot. I don’t know, maybe I seem like an expert in this subject since I have grown kids who left home a while ago-going on ten years now. I’m not an expert, but I do

Just yesterday, a co-worker and I were talking like we normally do since we both come in early, about family and kids.

I’ve been noticing how sad he’s been looking lately, so I asked if he was okay. At first, he didn’t want to tell me anything, for fear of exposing too much about his personal life, or the need to maintain a certain level of professionalism, blah, blah, blah, and I left it alone. But a few days ago, he’s been coming around and asking questions; he says to get a better understanding of what his wife is thinking and if there is anything, he could do.

He assumed that, after his youngest out of three children graduated, high school (last June) and left for college, he and his wife would be free to live their lives, and rekindle their romance. Instead, she is having a tough time coping, and he is frustrated that she isn’t letting go. He is about to hit middle age, and wants to downsize, and get a fresh start, and she wants to stay in their home, and watch television (secretly be available for the kids). To him, she is withdrawn, and hardly an attentive wife. He was hoping for the opposite.

I pointed out to him, that if he paid close attention, nothing has changed. He looked at me funny naturally, and I dove into a long drawn-out explanation. Most women, after marriage and having kids, change. They do, and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. They have to, in order to withstand raising their children-a roll that’s been bestowed upon them since the very beginning. On top of working, they must be the caregivers, nurturers, saviors, disciplinarians, chefs, doctors, teachers, preachers, guidance counselors, friend, and much more, at the expense of being the attentive wife. When they reach out to their husbands for support and understanding, they either get it, or they don’t, and sometimes that’s not even enough. So, slowly they become more and more independent, and strong, realizing eventually that although they love having men around, they don’t really need them. When the kids finally grow up, and leave, all of this becomes more apparent, and hence the disconnect more visible, standing out like a sore thumb.

I felt sad explaining all of this to him, and he was even more sad hearing it. Now, do I feel good for being so honest? Not really. Because at the end of the day, I was discribing myself…which sucks right about now.

{photo I took while crossing the Bay Bridge one night after visiting my daughter, who at the time lived in Yolo County-military}

What I Learned Over The Weekend

property of a alifefromasuitecase IMG_3662I live in a studio. Oh don’t worry,  I do it because I downsized four years ago, and I’ve never been happier. I consider the space my artist’s pad (haha). Anyway, as you can imagine, I would need to go to the laundromat to do my wash. So, early Sunday morning, 5:30a. to be exact, my hubby and I hauled our dirty clothes to our favorite facility to do laundry.

As usual the television screen mounted up in one corner was on, and the topic of discussion so early in the morning was – How To Be Happy? – like a sermon blaring from the speakers.

The suggestion was, to find a way to simply be content with what you have, and not strive to do more. I stopped what I was doing to  make sure I heard it right. The reporter repeated it, quoting some research that was conducted, and the results basically suggesting that we stay mediocre. At least that’s how I interpreted it.

How could they ask that of me? I wondered while looking over at my hubby standing several feet away from me playing on his smartphone. I realized as usual that  he wouldn’t be interested in such a topic, so  I didn’t mention it to him. I simply replayed the suggestions in my head, while loading up the machines.

Later, after taking our dog to the vet for a checkup, I took a detour while driving back home, exiting the freeway, heading to Half Moon Bay. It was a beautiful day around the bay yesterday, and I craved to be outdoors. The drive through the winding roads, passing through tree-lined streets and farms was calming. I had forgotten how beautiful that area was.  When we finally arrived in Half Moon Bay, I suggested we find the Ritz Carlton Hotel, tucked away somewhere I recalled reading about months before.  This entire time the idea of being content with what you have so you could be happy replaying in my head. I couldn’t hold it in anymore, so I told my hubby, and he shrugged it off. The man is hardly ever interested in anything I have to say. Scary to think about it sometimes.

Anyway, we passed a public parking lot on the way to the hotel, and I made a U-turn thinking it was best to park there, and walk the grounds a bit. When we got out of the car, we noticed a path leading to a beach. My hubby suggested we check out the beach. While heading on foot down the path, I noticed a fork in the road, the arrow pointing in the direction of the Ritz Carlton. Very excited, I veered to that path, and the closer we got to the hotel, the more my eyes lit up. I couldn’t believe what a beautiful place we stumbled upon. What an diot I’ve been for no longer exploring my surroundings-my neck of the woods if you will.

In the distance there was a restaurant, with views of the most remarkable golf course, and cliffs, and the ocean, so I suggested we sit in their outdoor section, and order a few appetizers. I needed to be a part of it all. Surprisingly, he went along, although still craving to simply be on his cellphone surfing the net. Whatever, I thought. I didn’t care. I sat there and people watched which is very helpful when you are a writer needing inspiration. He and I  talked a little about the what if’s, the entire time, me thinking about the report on being satisfied with what you have, (based on my interpretation), mainly being mediocre. Because in all reality, that report was for those of us in the middle class, who spend days worrying about money, and finding our success. (I laugh) as I observe all the wealthy people around me, dressed pristine, discussing business and pondering over their holiday in California, their three-carat diamond rings and designer watches glistening in the sun. Not to mention botoxed skin, and coiffeured  hairs -well not everyone. You get the point.

That report wasn’t good enough for me, I resolved. I am and will for as long as I’m of sound mind, strive to be better than who I am, and to find my happiness based on my true calling. Screw the damn report…

{photo of Pacific Ocean, Half Moon Bay I took on Sunday while walking to the Ritz Carlton}

 

So Here We Are…A Recap

IMG_0690I love it when I recap my week. It helps me get a better perspective on all things going on in my life, and how to cope.  This week as usual was a whirlwind.  I was disappointed with my editor’s summary report since it didn’t really match my story and her suggestions contradicting.  My younger daughter hinted that she was getting married, more like she told me. I was a little disappointed to discover that her fiance was going to make a conscious effort of visiting her father to ask for her hand in marriage, even though the man was hardly in the picture, and I have been all her life.  The other blow I got was my current partner, with whom I would be celebrating a milestone anniversary this year, is choosing to go out-of-town with his brother’s family the very week, we said our “I do’s,” instead of taking me to Paris like I had hinted for a year I’d like to do on our anniversary. My oldest is experiencing marital issues, and from what I witnessed while on the road with them, I concur, they may need couple’s therapy. I’ve also been thinking hard about making a drastic move-career and city. I’ve somehow grown out of city life, and now crave a more quieter suburban lifestyle. I think my older daughter’s home in Omaha set the tone for that one. I also discovered the UK Book Fair is nothing like the one in New York, so I would have to rethink my strategy on how to promote book 1, which I’ve released into the world a year ago.

Time to regroup. I have to figure out how to pay for my younger daughter’s wedding. I need to  decide if I want to throw down the money for the New York Book Fair (I think it’s a little too pricey for indie authors), and I have to be an even better listener for my older daughter. The only question I have is, when do I make time for myself?

{photo: A walk on Waikiki beach 2013 after my best friends wedding}

Assessment, Edit, Rewrite your damn novel

IMG_2026I’m dabbling in writing novels. So I sent over 107K words to an editor to get a feel for if I am on the right track. She made her assessment in three parts, breaking down line by line and adding her suggestions mostly to rework the story. I appreciated her insight on every section she emailed me with suggestions. At the very end she sent  a summed up report of all her findings, and when I read it, I was more confused than anything. Here’s why.

Everything she noted as not being addressed was detailed in the novel, and although she rated the entire piece as well done, she offered up many changes. After reading her 10 page report, I felt she was confusing my story with someone else’s she was editing, you know, not really following my storyline. I hate to admit, I was  discouraged and felt a little cheated. I hate online communication, I prefer face to face. But in this case it is almost impossible. She lives abroad.

Anyway, overnight I worried about her comments and suggestions, thinking I should put my attempted novel away and not pursue my life-long dream. But it’s not like me to give up so easily.  I just need to figure out where to start or where to end. Maybe I should ignore the 10 page assessment, and go with correcting all the bubbles she inserted throughout the document with minor changes. I mean are all editors correct in their assessment? Do they all really know what’s best? I am open to suggestions, but I found some of the one’s I got not at all pertaining to my story, rather generic.  Oh well. I will make an effort this weekend, working my way through the pages to see where and what I can correct and then go at it again. Hopefully, it will all work out…stay tuned.

{photo: Clock Tower in London I took last March while on vacation with the girls.)

 

Here We Go…Where Is It Again?

IKnewWhoIWas-SocialProperI reached out to a friend last night via email. I needed to clear the air with her. She and I worked together for four years and in the middle of last year she announced she was moving to Africa with her husband. Apparently in order for him to move up in the company he needed to do two years abroad somewhere.

She had her reservations, expressing to me throughout the year prior to leaving how she didn’t want to go. But she loved her husband and knew she had to.

Anyway, she left, and I was a little sad. You see I liked her as a friend, and although she possessed excellent work ethics, she exhausted me with her anxiety about work.  She was my third daughter, I resolved, each and every day  I listened to her voice, vent, and cry about everything. No really-everything.

Long story short, her husband needed to come back to the states in December, and she figured it would be a good idea to come to the office and work from here. Since she needed a workspace assigned to her, a  request was submitted to IT, and suddenly her coming back from “AFRICA” spread like wildfire throughout the entire office and everyone panicked about Ebola. The decision was she wouldn’t be allowed to return to the office, and the second it was communicated to her, she assumed that  I had something to do with it. Hence, she stopped speaking with me. I knew she was mad, but I had other things to worry about. Like my older daughter moving away from me, and my younger getting ready to send off her fiance-also in the military-away for a year, and me having to explain to her how to cope.  My dog was sick and my mother was experiencing some worrisome health issues. Nevermind how I was feeling.

So, last night I finally got a chance to reach out to her and ask, and she relayed to me that she was upset for sure, thinking I didn’t want her in the office. I apologized, but not sure for what? And I think we made amends. You see in a strange kind of way I miss her. I didn’t realize just how much until we stopped emailing one another after she left. (Smile).

 

Another Wedding and I’m Still Paying For The Other One

}property of alifefromasuitcase IMG_3869Peace and quiet was what I craved last night when I came home from work and changed into my comfortable clothes. I imagined I would light up a candle, turn off the lights, except for one reading lamp and dive into the book I’ve been reading lately. I should have know better. My younger one sent me a photo of a wedding dress she figured I’d like or maybe approve of. I asked when she was getting married, and she said October.

I tried to stay calm-was my first reaction. Why wasn’t I happy for her-my second reaction.  Then it dawned on me that I was nervous about the money. My older one got married two years ago and I’m still paying for her wedding, and now the second one, hinting how much it was all going to cost.

I forgo the relaxing, and began panicking about how I can make her wedding happen. I had plans this year, to get a few things I wanted accomplished taken care of, but it seems like I have to put all that on hold again for the fifth year in a row. Not in a happy place today as I shuffle my spendings and savings to see what I can do.

{photo: One I took at Ghetty Villa – I love mosaic tile work