Happy New Year.

I’m back to wish you happy holidays.

It’s December in California, and rain patters on my roof. Outside my office window, the Meyer lemon tree, planted seven years ago, is finally bearing fruit. As soon as the rain stops, I’ll harvest my crop.

I’m on break between semesters. Yes, I’m still in school and plan to stay in the Creative Writing Program for at least another year – maybe more. I always liked going to college, at least the idea of it. I get a surge of energy every time I step on campus. I feel like all the other students —somewhere between 18 and 35. Then I’m shocked by the face in the mirror. Sometimes, I think I’m the oldest person at SFSU.

On the publishing front — my work appeared in print twice in 2019. You’ll find my poem, “The Next Day,” in the Driftwood Press, Issue 7.1. You can order the magazine on Amazon or from www.driftwoodpress.net.

My story, “What Are the Odds?,” is included in the anthology, She’s Got This!: Standing Strong and Moving On. Our book received three awards:

 – Top 5 Finalist in Kindle Books 2019 non-fiction category

 – 2019 Best Book Awards Finalist in the American Book Fest’s Anthology category 

 – 2019 San Francisco Book Festival Award Winner in the Compilations/Anthologies category. Order it on Amazon or through your local independent bookseller.

I had a big birthday this year. The night before my big day, my parents appeared to me in a dream, waiting for the celebration. The next day, my brother and sister and their significant others jumped in front of me as I was entering the de Young Museum in San Francisco, and yelled, “Happy Birthday.” I was blown-away surprised. They had flown across the country to remind me, as much as I try to hide it, that I’m their older sister. My siblings are the perfect surrogates for my parents, only better. If you find a Freudian message here, let me know.

photo by Rachel Heydemann
Framing the Golden Gate Bridge
Jay and Lynn (from New Haven), Rosy and Jack (from El Paso), Harriet and Gary

A few days after my birthday, Gary and I flew to Spain. In ten whirlwind days, we toured five cities. One of my professors often asks us for a single word or phrase to express what’s going on with a piece. Here goes for the five cities, in no particular order: Granada -The Alhambra, Toledo – the old synagogue, Cordoba – Feria de Mayo, Madrid – late-night tapas bars,  Barcelona – Gaudi and the old Jewish section. Yes, that’s more than one, but Barcelona was our favorite. And like I said —whirlwind.

On the rooftop of the Guell Palace, Barcelona. This is the only decent picture of the two of us. All the others are selfies.

We returned from Spain, unpacked and repacked for our annual drive to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We saw three plays in as many days. This year’s highlight was the premiere of “Mother Road” by Octavio Solis, a contemporary sequel to The Grapes of Wrath. It’s a powerful story about the injustices faced by the disenfranchised, especially those on the border struggling for their physical and spiritual survival.

I’m working on a story drawn from family history. Thanks to Gary and my genealogist brother-in-law, Jay Brotman, I found the 100-year-old investigative report on my grandfather conducted by the agency that became the FBI.

Dwarfed by history.
In front of the old U.S. Custom House in New York,
now home to the U.S. Archives

I hope your holidays are filled with joy and light. Sending warmest wishes for a fruitful 2020.

I’d love to hear what happened in your world, so keep in touch.