Somehow, the 13-year-old narrator of Hindsight manages to make a friend, a boy named Scarecrow. They meet at the shelter.

“Let’s go get pancakes,” she tells him.

His eyes widened. “You have money?” he asked.

I nodded. “Just a little,” I lied.

As night falls, Scarecrow takes the narrator to his “squat” — “over a small fence” and then through “a large, empty apartment complex” to the parking garage and “a storage closet . . . on the wall.”

“Do you like me?” he asked.

“Maybe,” I answered. I was in uncharted territory and sinking fast.

He tried to kiss me, but I started to cry.

So instead, he held me in his arms, and asked me what had happened. He somehow knew.

This story is almost unbearably sad, but the narrator’s friendship with Scarecrow has an innocence. Scarecrow takes the narrator on a tour of Hollywood: his favorite breakfast place, Tommy’s (“They make breakfast all hours of the day. Pancake special: $1.99”) and Mann Chinese Theatre. It’s a very sweet interlude.

Unfortunately, they return to the shelter for breakfast the next day and someone reports them. Scarecrow’s 19 and the narrator’s only 13. They’re both arrested and the narrator is taken to a facility in a police car.

UGH. She’s put into an orange jumpsuit and told, “You’re a 601.” She’s put in a cell and the guards are tall, beefy women.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.




“Go Home, Kid”

The narrator is directed to a youth shelter by a kindly African American woman who spots her wandering around aimlessly — hurt, exhausted, bleeding. She finally gets promised a bed for the night. Horrible things have happened to her, her first night in LA. Self won’t get into it.

Hindsight: Coming of Age on the Streets of Hollywood, p. 55

“How old are you?” she asked.


She probably heard a touch of that Southern accent on my one word . . .

“Go home, kid,” she said, and then she stood up and walked away.

My God, self thinks. All this happened to my student. At the very least, she should have received medical treatment. She should have been tested. A rape kit. Fluids. She was starving. None of that happened.

Self stayed up till the wee hours, reading.

Stay tuned.

Milkman, p. 39

Three sons are abandoned by their parents. It happens this way:

  • They had written a note, said the neighbours, but had forgotten to leave it; indeed primarily they had forgotten to write it and so had written it then forwarded it back from their undisclosed destination when they reached it, not deliberately undisclosed but because they hadn’t time or memory or understanding to put a sender’s address at the top. According to the postmark it was not just a country over a water, but a country over many, many waters. Also, they forgot their former address, the house they’d lived in for twenty-four years ever since getting married until twenty-four hours earlier when they left.


Self: Guilt is a country. Sometimes in order to go forward, one must have a memory wipe.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

BARRACOON: The Door of No Return

It took self a few days to get through the Foreword by Alice Walker and the Introduction by Deborah G. Plant. Now, she’s about to begin the book proper.

Just before the Preface is a photograph:


That little gap of ocean was all the slaves saw as they crowded together in the Slave House, the last stop before they were loaded onto ships that took them to lands of untold misery.

Zora Neale Hurston in the Preface, dated 17 April 1931:

I was sent by a woman of tremendous understanding of primitive peoples to get this story.

It is so uncommonly sad to read the Preface. The slaves entered the barracoon as human beings; little did they know it would be the last time they would feel themselves as such. From that point onward, they were mere cattle.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Bourdain: Ugly Crying

Not real. Not real. Not real.

In celebration of food, community, and life, all the food pictures self can pull from her archives in 15 minutes:

  1. Cherries, Belmont Farmers Market, May 2018
  2. Leeks, Palo Alto Farmers Market, April 2018
  3. Giant Tomato, Mendocino Art Center, March 2018
  4. Buko Pie, Philippine Airlines, January 2018
  5. Dearest Mum’s Lunch, Manila, January 2018
  6. UP Town Center, Diliman, Quezon City, January 2018

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

All-Time Favorites WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background 6

Oh, WHAT? The Daily Post Photo Challenge is going away?


For the final week of the Photo Challenge, we’re supposed to post our favorite Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge picture.

That is an extremely hard photo challenge — the hardest.

Anyhoo, here’s a picture from a trip she took with former Calyx Managing Editor (She was one of the founders) Margarita Donnelly in April 2013:

On the Vaporetto to St. Mark's, Venice, April 2013

On the Vaporetto, Venice, April 2013

Is this an “In the Background” kind of shot, in keeping with WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge theme of the week?

Self has no idea.  She would never have posted it, though, if she hadn’t been looking for a photo where “background,” or anyway the idea of background, was key.

So, it’s all good.

It turns out self’s fondest memories of Venice are not the paintings, not the magnificent churches, but the vaporetto rides.  Which thousands of people take every day, on their way to and from work in the city.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

A Question Leads to Further Questions About the Tragedy

Self is a writer.  As a writer, she is always searching for a plausible story.

That is how she deals with reality.  That is how she copes.

The shooter (she will never refer to him by name, as if to perpetuate his memory.  Never) killed “someone” at his home.

He was purportedly targeting his mother.

Was she a teacher?  Did he walk into her classroom and kill her?  Did he then decide to take along every one of her students?

Then self learned that the shooter’s guns belonged to his mother.

Whaaaat?  What business did the woman have for keeping that many guns in her home?

She was divorced, middle-aged.

Ergo:  guns???

Then it turned out the mother was shot at home.  So the shooter went to the school afterwards.  He was denied entry at first, but forced his way in.

OK, who denied that shooter entry at first?  And was that person the shooter’s second victim?  And how did the shooter force his way into a school?  If there is no one to stop you, how can you be described as forcing your way in?  What exactly does this mean, that reports say he “forcefully gained entrance”?  Is forcefully gaining entrance the same as forcing one’s way in?  Does that mean someone physically stands in your way?  Or is that someone just questioning you and asking to see some form of ID?  If one fails to show an ID but continues sauntering towards a classroom, can one then be described as forcing one’s way in?  Where does the “force” come in?  Self doesn’t know how or who or what tried to prevent the shooter’s entry.  But that’s what all the news reports say:  The shooter forced his way in.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Ah, Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow!

At times like these, what better way to salve one ‘s spirits than a glass of good, dark, Guinness Draft Beer!

Last Outing: Beer at the Sun Inn, Dalkeith

Self will sorely miss the scintillating conversations she had with these two, Marylee and Joan.

What self will NOT miss:  How much weight she’s gained here in Scotland.  Scottish breakfasts are positively huge, dear blog readers.  And lunch follows only three hours later.  Then, because one’s tummy has been stoked (already) by the rich food, one simply cannot hold one’s horses until the 7 p.m. dinner.  And that’s when the butterscotch tablets come out.  And the scones and tea.  Aaaargh, aaaaargh, aaaaargh.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Last Day in Edinburgh

Grayfriars Bobby, the Faithful Skye Terrier who guarded the grave of his master for 14 years!

Dear Edinburgh, how self will miss you —  all the sights and sounds of your colorful denizens, your overcast skies, your creepy underground tours, your paving-stone streets, your crooked corners, your fascinating bookshops, your little pubs, your eccentric monuments (Scott’s monument looks like an alien spaceship about to take off into the cloudy Scottish skies!)

Today, self went to the Elephant House.  She took pictures of a bulletin board festooned with drawings of elephants:

Children mail drawings of elephants to The Elephant House, billed as “The Birthplace of Harry Potter”

On another bulletin board were many pictures of a (very young) J. K. Rowling.

In the comfort room was scrawled, on one wall:

If you would like to bang (or make love to) Hermione, put a check mark here.

There were 10 check marks.

Funny, self thought there would be more.

Just to the right of the above scrawled message (Self is amazed that she actually had the wherewithal to take notes on what was written on the bathroom walls — but, anything for “ze blog”!!!) was another:

If you are sane (or cool enough) to realize that Hermione would have nothing to do with you, put a check mark here.

Beneath this message were eight check marks.

Meat pie with mashed potatoes and gravy: Self’s lunch today at The Elephant House. Self noticed that most of the patrons who ordered this accompanied their meal with a large glass of milk!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Jeff Tagami: June 23, 2012

Rest in peace, Jeff.

Self is still in shock.

She really has no words.

She found out from an e-mail from Virginia Cerenio.

Jeff represented everything that was gracious in our community.

Shirley, self’s heart goes out to you.

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