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Summer of Love
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golden-gate-bridge-388917_1920As if the month of May had not been crazy enough, I had one last poem to write. Yes, one more. Number Six.

Every year the seniors at Granada High School compete to design and paint a bus shelter mural. The mural for 2018 was inspired by the 50th Anniversary of the Summer of Love. So yes, I had to write a poem about the Summer of Love, a theme I knew little about. The high school student who asked me to write the poem, however,  considered me an expert. “I thought it would be fun for you to relive you memories of that summer.”

I laughed. “I’m not old enough to remember the Summer of Love.” I wasn’t even entirely sure what year it was. 1967? 1969?

“You aren’t?” she said. “But you’re older than my mom!”

“Umm, that may be, but I’m still not old enough. And definitely not old enough to have been a participant.”

“Oh,” she said, clearly disappointed.

There was an awkward pause. “But I can still write the poem,” I said.

“You can? Oh good!”

So after the four sculpture poems and the civic appreciation poem, I wrote a poem about San Francisco and the Summer of Love. Which is not something I expected as Poet Laureate. I had to do some research, and I learned a lot. So much, that my first draft read more like a research paper than a poem!

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Nate gets credit for the first two lines. He was fooling around, but once I heard them, I couldn’t get that rhyme out of my head. So he gave me permission to use it. And the rest, just fell into place….

 

SUMMER OF LOVE

Man, oh man,
what a groovin’ van!
Said brother, must go—
drove it to Frisco.
We wanted to be
so crazy and free,
a wave in the ocean
of humanity.

In the Haight-Ashbury,
bodies were hairy,
poor, dirty, and drugged.
Man, everyone hugged.
Sit ins and be ins,
a shedding of sins.
Music and chanting,
much self-righteous ranting.

There was poetry
wondrous to see:
Ginsberg, Kerouac
made a fierce attack.
Communal living—
wild, free, and giving—
that was our motto.
“The Man” was the foe.

Yes, it was heaven
in 1967,
the Summer of Love,
peace like a dove.
But ideals can’t feed
a stomach in need.
We left by September,
pleased with our deed.

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I had fun with this one. Can you tell?

Six poems in just over three weeks. I think I earned my pay this month. Oh wait, I’m a volunteer….

Until next time,
Cynthia 

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Heroes Among Us
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IMG_0376Earlier this month, I described the process of writing four poems for four sculptures being installed simultaneously downtown and then moving on to a volunteer poem for the City’s annual Civic Appreciation Dinner. Five poems in under three weeks. Here’s the last one.

 

HEROES AMONG US

There are heroes among us.
We may not know their names or their faces,
but they are here, quietly unfurling their brilliance
like a spangled satin cape. The woman who fosters
kittens from the shelter; the man who docents
at the history museum; the parents who champion
the disabled. People like me and you.
Tiny miracles that enrich our community.

There are heroes among us.
They serve on commissions and boards,
committees and groups, sharing their skills
with an abundance of spirit. The men and women
of the Planning Commission, the multi-talented
teens who advise, the amazing Art Commissioners
who I have the privilege to work with and know.
Each a priceless gift to our community.

There are heroes among us.
No one pays them for their work, this labor
of love, but I suspect all would claim
to be well-compensated. Driven by some
inner voice that says: give back. As you do,
in all your wondrous ways, each of you
a match that starts a wildfire of giving.
Your light a thing of beauty, awesome to behold.

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Number 2 was correct. This is nice work. I just might be a poet after all….

Until next time,
Cynthia

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Four Sculptures in Four Seasons
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In my last two posts, I described the process of writing four poems for four sculptures being installed simultaneously downtown. I was under a tight deadline and wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Here’s what I came up with.

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FOUR SCULPTURES IN FOUR SEASONS

Summer

Lizzy’s ghost splashes in the heart
of downtown, unperturbed by endless
chatter. Soap bubbles in the fountain,
cartwheels on the lawn. Bees drone
while redwoods dream of damp, dappled
groves to the north. Dog walkers mingle
with retirees seeking respite from heat.
A pair of tumbling tots join in.

Fall

Windmills march across the Altamont,
a sunflower soars above the sidewalk,
each drinks the west wind from a cup
of endless blue. Pumpkins crowd
buckets and bins; vibrant jewels
decorate a vineyard’s velvet gown.
We toast to health and abundance,
hearts spilling gratitude.

Winter 

Even at solstice, birds worship the sky,
wheeling upward in a tethered spiral
before angling south. A thousand songs
sing on the leafless horizon, whispering
their silvered secrets to the sleeping
earth. Cold wind blows off the ocean.
Gathered like tangled vines, we
shiver and wait for light.

Spring

Peace rises in the east, welcome
as the sun after a fierce storm,
arms aloft, cradling a string of
origami cranes. The doe-eyed dawn,
colored like a blessing, paints each
with a word as they burst into flight:
acceptance, compassion, diversity,
truth, joy, love, and lastly, hope.

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I’m pretty pleased with the results. What do you think?

Until next time,
Cynthia 

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Poetry on Demand, Part 2
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notebook-2247352_1920I needed four poems about four diverse sculptures, and I needed them fast. But I now had a structure and a thread to tie them together. I sat myself down and started writing.

Since I wanted to end with Peace, that meant I had to start with Summer. The Lizzy Fountain poem, or at least the initial draft, came together pretty quickly. I moved on to Fall, which also seemed fairly straightforward. Winter stumped me, so I skipped ahead to Spring. I got a few lines written but couldn’t figure out what the person in the sculpture was doing. What was she holding?

While I waited for more photos, I brainstormed about Winter. I kept seeing an image of dark birds circling in an overcast sky, so I went with that.

The photos didn’t help much, but I finally got an answer as to what was being held: origami cranes. I googled and learned this was the Japanese symbol for peace. I jotted down words I associated with peace—acceptance, compassion, serenity, tolerance—and suddenly I had a rough draft of my third poem.

The Winter poem limped along behind.

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By the week of installation, I had four working drafts. They were decent, but not great. I attended the installation of Tropic Birds, and saw all the details I had missed in the photo: vines, roots, hammered steel.

After the sculpture installation, several of the Art Commissioners and I had lunch with the sculptor and his wife, who was also an artist. They were environmentalists, and we hit it off immediately. Toward the end of our meal, Ruth sat down next to me and asked about my poem. I told her about the concept of four poems in four seasons, and she asked which season Tropic Birds was.

“Winter,” I said, feeling a bit bad that their sculpture got the default season.

She nodded. “It feels like winter.”

I was startled by this. “You think so?”

“Oh yes,” she said. “Don’t you?”

I realized that now that I had seen it in person, I couldn’t imagine it being any other season. I knew then that I was on the right path.

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I tweaked and tweaked the poems for a week, right up to the deadline, 36 hours before the dedication. By then I had added the four points of the compass along with the seasons. I felt good about what I’d done.

Forced to let those poems go, I turned my attention to the volunteer appreciation poem. I brainstormed a few ideas and started writing. I soon had a draft.

At the sculpture dedication ceremony, we started with Peace. The Chair of the Commission for the Arts talked about the artist, who had told her that the work was primarily about peace and hope. I looked down at my poem for that sculpture. The first word was peace, and the last word was hope.

This kind of synchronicity continued all morning. I felt like my words had really hit their mark.

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The following night I read my volunteer appreciation poem. When I returned to my seat, the Chair of the Commission for the Arts smiled and said, “That was just beautiful.”

#2, who is now a Commissioner, grinned. “Nice work.”

I had done it. Five poems in under three weeks. I felt something shift inside me. I was now truly a poet, worthy of the title Poet Laureate.

Until next time,
Cynthia

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Poetry on Demand, Part 1
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notebook-2247352_1920Back when I was debating whether or not to apply for the Poet Laureate position, the thing that gave me pause—okay, most worried me—was the task of writing poems “on demand” for the City. My three predecessors had been required to write poems about a whale mural on the waste water treatment plant, the downtown flagpole (a total of three times), “sweater trees,” volunteer appreciation, and a host of other civic topics.

How #2 managed to compose fantastic poems not only about whales and sewage, but also the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, both impressed and terrified me. Could I measure up? Or at least not embarrass myself in public?

I wasn’t sure, but once I agreed to take the job, it was only a matter of time before I found out.

I wrote two poems and started a third for my installation on June 26, 2017. Finally, in desperation, I went with poem #2. It was well received, but I will admit the Vice-Mayor looked deeply concerned when I read the first line: “Live-no-more-in-Livermore.” That said, my Staff Liason told me her boss printed out the poem and hung it on his office wall. “He’s never done that before,” she said.

I decided to take it as a good sign.

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Months went by with no poem requests. It wasn’t like I didn’t have plenty to do, so I focused on that instead: hosting a monthly open mic, rebooting the Ravenswood Poetry Series, launching a literary arts newsletter, putting together a poetry workshop, doing readings at the library. When the old library was torn down to make way for the new City Council Chambers, I wrote a eulogy for my first library. I read it to the Council on the night of the ground-breaking ceremony, after delivering my annual Poet Laureate Report. Again, my work was well received, but still no requests.

The library asked me to write a poem in honor of National Library Week. I sweated over this one, but managed a long list poem referencing my favorite books. As a bonus, I wrote another about my daughter at the library because it was also Autism Awareness Month. The librarians were thrilled. And then finally, in late April, I got my first official request: four poems for the four sculptures being installed downtown. Plus another for the annual Civic Appreciation Dinner.

Five poems in less than three weeks. This was pretty much my absolute worst case scenario.

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I stared at the tiny photo of each sculpture and searched for a way in. How best to approach this? I had no clue. Not. One. Idea.

A few days later, while driving my daughter to school in Menlo Park, I noticed the spring rains had finally turned the hillsides green. It looks like winter at last, I thought. Then it hit me: I could do four linked poems. Four sculptures in four seasons. Peace would be Spring. Sunflower would be Fall. Ta-Da II was located at Lizzie’s Fountain where children played in the water on hot summer days. It would be Summer. Which meant Tropic Birds would be Winter by default.

Four sculptures in four seasons. I could do this.

Right?

To be continued…

Until next time,
Cynthia 

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Pot or Not?
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medications-257344_1920After I conducted my research on the various medications used to treat (or not treat) autism, I asked our Regional Center case manager for her opinion.

We were sitting at my kitchen table, having our annual meeting to discuss my daughter’s progress. She seemed shocked I was even asking about medication. “No way,” she said.

I pointed to all the patches on my walls. Next to a few holes that Katie had recently made.

She shrugged. “It has to be way worse than that to even consider going there.”

“But….”

“I’m telling you. Way, way worse.”

At that point, I gave up on the idea of medication. Mom continued to press.

Then I received an email from a teacher at Open Mind School. She wondered if I had ever considered cannabis. It had been shown to decrease anxiety, which Katie struggled with, and was theorized to assist with regulation. In other words, the drug targeted the two root causes of Katie’s problematic behaviors. Did I want to try it? A marijuana manufacturer was looking for participants for a study. The medication could be easily obtained via Discount Pharms.

One of the reasons I’ve resisted medication, even when the school district pushed it, is because Katie comes from a highly addictive birth family. Any drug could, over time, turn her into an addict, and I didn’t want that. Nor would Robin and Jason, Katie’s birth parents. And frankly, it hadn’t been necessary when an appropriate sensory diet was in place. But puberty had raised the stakes. Katie was bigger now, and although her meltdowns were few, they tended to be intense.

Really intense.

Cannabis has far fewer side effects than mood-altering anti-psychotics. But it does have some, and one of them is addiction. Did I want to  take the risk? Was the pay off worth it?

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Since firing the Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) provider, I’d noticed an improvement in Katie’s behavior. But was that enough?

I asked my boyfriend Christopher, who in turn asked his cousin, the parent of a young adult with autism. Both thought it was worth trying. I asked Mom, who surprisingly thought a study monitored by Open Mind School would be acceptable. Others, however, were not so sure.

Katie’s behavior continued to improve while I debated: pot or not? I couldn’t decide.

At Katie’s Spring parent-teacher conference, I brought up the issue of cannabis with Daniel, the school behaviorist. He told me he had noted a marked improvement in Katie’s anxiety levels, regulation, and behavior since January. “Did something change?”

I thought a moment. “We lost Melissa in February and transitioned to Emma. Oh, and I fired the ABA team.”

“In January?” I nodded. “It made a difference,” he said. “A big one.”

“Apparently she doesn’t like ABA,” I said with a laugh. “Or being treated like a toddler.”

“Probably both,” Daniel said. “I don’t think we need to try cannabis. Let her figure it out for herself.”

“Really?”

“I think she’s doing great without it.”

I studied him, and he said, “I do. Let’s wait. We can always try it later if I’m wrong or something changes.”

My gut said he’s right. It’s too soon. Pot is addictive. Let’s trust the process and see what unfolds.

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TRUST. It was all about trust in 2018.

But so far, my trust had paid off.

I took a deep breath and nodded. We’d see what happened. Cannabis could wait.

Until next time,
Cynthia

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Medicate or Not?
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road-sign-63983_1920Somehow in my long journey dealing with autism, I became comfortable with the concept of treating my daughter like a guinea pig of sorts. Comfortable might not be the correct word. I’ve accepted that neither Katie nor I have any other choice. That is the reality of autism. If I had waited for a study proving that the Soma Rapid Prompting Method (Soma-RPM) was effective, Katie never would have benefited from this educational approach which has been, frankly, a life changer. A miracle that has given my daughter agency and a voice.

That said, I’m not crazy about this state of affairs. I do my research. Read whatever reports exist. I talk to other autism parents. Then I make the most informed decision I can make. Mostly if it’s not going to hurt her, I’ll try it.

If autism has taught me anything, it’s that there is a lot the medical profession doesn’t know—particularly with respect to autism spectrum disorder and sensory processing disorder.

So when my mother began insisting that I consider medicating Katie, I began doing what I’ve done for years: researching, asking questions, and talking to parents and experts I trust. Gathering what information I could, and then trusting my gut.

When I pushed back, Mom sent me a study on various anti-depressants and other mood-altering drugs. An online search turned up several more. What I read horrified me. The side effects were severe to debilitating: constant hunger, significant weight gain, lethargy, sedation, personality changes, increased anxiety and aggression, seizures (either increased occurrence or triggering the onset of a seizure disorder), inability to focus/concentrate, liver damage, gastric issues, metabolic and hormonal changes, sleep disturbances, and more. WTF!! Why would anyone do this to their child? Oh wait, most of the children and teens in the first study were in foster care and/or group homes. (Clearly ease of handling was the primary concern, but that’s a whole different blog post. And even for this narrow purpose, the drugs didn’t do the job well, if at all.)

Not only did they experiment with the two FDA-approved medications for autism—Abilify (Aripiprazole) and Risperdal (Risperidone)—but a host of others. This pissed me off. Why do that to a nonverbal child who can’t even tell you if it helps?

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I checked a couple of autism blogs. One mom had a frank discussion regarding meds. She tried both of the FDA-approved medications. The first one, Abilify, made her son a zombie and his personality completely changed. Plus his anxiety and aggression increased rather than decreased. So she weaned him off that drug and then tried the other: Risperdal, a “black box” anti-psychotic. Meaning no one knows exactly how it works. It helped. Sort of. Her son gained 30 pounds and was constantly groggy, but his aggression decreased. Didn’t disappear. Just decreased.

Another mom had success with an ADHD drug. But her son actually had ADHD in addition to autism and cerebral palsy, so who knows if this would work for a kid like Katie?

Other parents used anti-depressants, but it’s possible that the children were, in fact, depressed.

By the time I finished reading everything, I needed an anti-depressant. None of it sounded good. In fact, the more I read, the less good it sounded. This wasn’t the way to help Katie. Or was I in denial?

explorer-gear-377x269-300x214Mom insisted I was in denial, but I wasn’t so sure. Yes, Katie was struggling with the hormonal changes that came with puberty. Yes, I was once again dealing with aggression paired now with often crippling anxiety. Yes, Katie was bigger, and therefore, more difficult to control physically.  Even so, medication just seemed like a terrible idea for all kinds of reasons.

I decided to keep researching. This was not the kind of experimentation that I was comfortable inflicting on my child.

Until next time,
Cynthia

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Ode to the Livermore Library
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notebook-2247352_1920April is Autism Awareness Month and also National Poetry Month. Plus it contains National Library Week, which happens to be this week. So tonight I’m hosting Audacious April—A Celebration of Autism, Poetry and Libraries at the Livermore Civic Center Library. I’ve invited Matteo Musso, a barely verbal autistic teen and a terrific poet, to join me. Matteo uses the Rapid Prompting Method (like my daughter Katie) to spell out what he wants to say on a letterboard. He’s written three books this way.

But before we get to all the autism goodness, I will present a poem that I wrote in honor of our awesome library. Paul (aka the library guy) can barely contain his excitement. Which put a tremendous amount of pressure on me. Pressure and creativity do not play well together. At least not in my house.

So this poem was a tough one to write. I hope Paul enjoys it.

 

ODE TO THE LIVERMORE LIBRARY 

How many places can take you backward and forward in time,
can transport you to a coffee plantation in Kenya, after hours
at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the slopes of Kilimanjaro,
a segregated courtroom in Alabama, a phantom tollbooth,
a Columbian riverboat with the woman for whom you waited
60 years, the Yorkshire moors, or a sod house on the prairie?

Solve a crime in Sweden, hunt a mighty whale, flounder in
a Chippewa love triangle, transcend time and identity on both
sides of the Pacific, endure as a slave, learn magic at Hogwarts,
fly kites in Kabul, live in a mouse-infested trailer in Arches, survive
a tsunami in Sri Lanka, brave artistic expression as a Hasidic Jew,
serve as a red-robed handmaid in the Republic of Gilead.

Flee the Dust Bowl, steal books in Nazi Germany, ride a sand worm across
the deserts of Dune, marry and lose three husbands, rescue a coworker
from cannibals in the Amazon, explore the Ninemile Valley with wolves,
unravel mysteries with Watson, plant Sun Crest peaches in the Central Valley.
Grow up poor or rich; gay, straight or queer; get sick, get well;
experience disability, infertility, catastrophic stroke, or mental illness.

Where else can you explore the farthest reaches of the universe and still
be home in time for dinner? Borrow tools, rent DVDs, access the internet,
take a workshop, learn to read, see art, meet an author or a friend?
Study quantum physics, statistics, sociology, even poetry?
Geography, astronomy, paleontology—it’s all here, and more.
Anything you can imagine, you can experience at the library.

 

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Can you name all the books I mention in the poem? Quiz yourself and let me know your score. The answers are listed below.

Until next time,
Cynthia

 

BOOKS MENTIONED IN THE POEM

Out of Africa, by Isak Dinesen
The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg
The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, by Ernest Hemingway
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster
Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Love Medicine, by Louise Erdrich
A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup
Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling
Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
Desert Solitaire, by Edward Abbey
Wave, by Sonali Deraniyagala
My Name is Asher Lev, by Chaim Potok
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Dune, by Frank Herbert
Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett
The Ninemile Wolves, by Rick Bass
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Epitaph For a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm, by David M. Masumoto
The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls
Dead End Gene Pool: A Memoir, by Wendy Burden
Fire Shut Up in My Bones: A Memoir, by Charles M. Blow
The Liars’ Club, by Mary Karr
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and More, by Janet Mock
A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles: A True Story of Love, Science & Cancer, by Mary Elizabeth Williams
Just Breathe Normally, by Peggy Shumaker
Autobiography of a Face, by Lucy Grealy and The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy With Autism, by Naoki Higashida
The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood, by Belle Boggs
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, by Jean-Dominique Bauby
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison
A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

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Once Again We Visit the Library
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Puzzle HeartApril, as many of you know, is Autism Awareness Month and also National Poetry Month. These are both subjects that I am passionate about. So last fall, Paul, the person in charge of adult programming at the Livermore Library, and I planned an autism awareness poetry event.

As the event approached, he emailed to inform me that the date we had selected, April 12th, fell during National Library Week. The current (aka “new”) library was dedicated in 2004, so it proceeded the City’s Poet Laureate Program by one year. He had enjoyed the poem I’d written for the “old” library when it was torn down. Would I consider writing another poem in honor of the “new” library?

I agreed, and never has a grown man (or anyone for that matter) been so excited about a poem that I had not yet written.

Paul began promoting the event as a celebration of National Poetry Month and National Library Week, completely forgetting about the original purpose, which was autism awareness. Even I did not know how to promote the event. How could I tie these seemingly disparate themes together?

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I came up with the name Audacious April, which I loved, but still I struggled to link the three themes. One night on the phone, as I rambled on about my dilemma, Christopher suggested that I consider writing a poem about autism and libraries. Did I ever take Katie to the library?

Yes, I had when she was younger, many times in fact, but it hadn’t gone as well as I’d hoped. I could feel an idea brewing….

And here it is.

ONCE AGAIN, WE VISIT THE LIBRARY

Despite multiple trips, you cannot fathom a library’s purpose.
How to explain how this differs from a bookstore or that
coffeeshop we love with the crayons and overflowing shelves?
More importantly, how do I convey what this place means—
to me, your mother—with its wealth of knowledge and mythology?
As always, you abandon the cross-legged children, gravitate toward
a video kiosk. I long to tell you about the card catalog, with its
narrow wooden drawers, yellowed files, and Dewey Decimal System.
I’d clutch a stubby pencil and transcribe orderly numbers and letters.
It’s all gone.
No manila pockets with strings of multi-colored dates, a strange
calculus of popularity and history. No encyclopedias with glossy photos.
No thesaurus with its tiny tabs. You will never make small talk beneath
macrame plant hangers as the librarian manually checks out your books
or know a world without bar codes and databases. I’m okay with that.
But what if you never learn the importance of ideas, of books,
of self-expression and shared thoughts? What if you never
understand the joy I feel when writing? Or cannot read?
What then?
A library is a place of language and words;
yet you think in pictures, music, and colors.
Each of us an immigrant in the others’ native land. 

 

I think I have solved my problem. Or at least one problem. I still need to write that library poem….

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Am I the only one that misses the card catalog?

Until next time,
Cynthia 

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The FUN List Revised
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Balloons_in_the_skyBack in 2014, when I was figuring out what I wanted to do for Cynthia’s Yearlong 50th Birthday Bash (read about that here), I managed—sadly—to omit fun entirely. Sure, launching a project or doing something new can be fun, but it’s not the same as fun for the sake of fun. My ex-husband, Michael 1.0, used to be good at reminding me to have more fun, but without his influence I tend to forget. (I know, I know. What can I say? It’s sad but true.) Then a friend told me that for her 50th birthday she made a list of activities she wanted to do and asked friends to join her. I loved this idea, and so, the concept of The FUN List was born.

Here were the ground rules: I made a list of things I’d always wanted to do but never gotten around to doing. Or things I hadn’t done in awhile and wanted to do again. If someone thought I’d forgotten something, they had permission to make a suggestion. After all, I was clearly in need of help when it came to fun.

Since I made the list in 2014, here are some of the activities that I did:

  • Drove to Half Moon Bay for fresh seafood and visited “Dog Beach” with Katie and Delta.
  • Visited the Oakland Zoo again.
  • Visited the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.
  • Took Katie to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and rode the wooden rollercoaster. (Katie bailed on the Big Dipper at the last minute, but Nate and I took turns riding it, which brought back so many great memories. It also reminded me that I’m not in my twenties any more!)
  • Returned to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk many times. This is Katie’s “happy place.”
  • Checked out the Exploratorium in its new waterfront location. Twice! (I still love that museum.)
  • Hung out and had dinner with my girlfriend Jennifer in Santa Cruz.
  • Had drinks and dinner at The Last Word in Livermore.
  • Ate an ice cream sandwich from C.R.E.A.M. (Okay, I’ve eaten several.)
  • Had mac and cheese with bacon at The Rock House.
  • Took a road trip to Santa Barbara over Spring Break to visit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art to see a children’s book art exhibit. Explored the Paso Robles wine region as well.
  • Visited my girlfriend Deborah several times in Capitola/Santa Cruz while she worked on a temporary assignment. Katie had so much fun swimming in the pool and watching HGTV with Homer, Deborah’s dog, she thinks I’m lying when I tell her Deborah doesn’t actually live there.
  • Saw a Shakespeare and Associates summer production in the outdoor theater at Wente Vineyards. Cyrano de Bergerac was incredible!
  • Hiked in various East Bay Regional Parks, including Brushy Peak for the first time!
  • Drove to Pescadero for green chili soup, boysenberry pie, and relaxation on a windswept beach.
  • Tried several new (as in, new to me) restaurants: Posada and Roya in Livermore, Kingfish in San Mateo (now sadly closed), Taqueria La Espuela and Cascal in Mountain View, Refuge and Mama Coco in Menlo Park, and Palo Alto Sol.
  • Drank Philz coffee for the first time.
  • Stayed in Truckee for the weekend with the gals I met in my college dorm 35 years ago. (You can read more about that here and here and here).
  • Went to the Oakland Zoo during the holiday season for ZooLights.
  • Visited the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.
  • Explored Japantown in San Francisco.
  • Had a Missouri-themed date which included St. Louis-style ribs at Sauced and the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Both were excellent!

Not exactly earth shattering, but I’ve made a conscience effort to seek out more fun. Clearly this is still a work in progress for me.

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Which is why, as my birthday approaches, I decided to create a revised FUN List:

  • Attend a poetry slam.
  • Attend StorySlam.
  • Visit the de Young Museum again.
  • Drive to Muir Woods and hike.
  • Visit the Asian Art Museum.
  • Have mac and cheese at Homeroom in Oakland.
  • Visit my friend Jennifer in Albuquerque, NM and read at DimeStories.
  • A fall weekend in Yosemite.
  • Hike in an East Bay Regional Park (Morgan Territory, Sunol, etc) once per month.
  • Visit Sedona, AZ and Santa Fe, NM again.
  • Wine tasting in Livermore with friends.
  • Attend Friday Night at the de Young. (I missed the tango exhibition, but there are others.)
  • Take Katie camping at Camp Shelley in South Lake Tahoe and make s’mores.
  • Visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium with Katie and Chris (his first time!).
  • Visit New York City for more than a day.
  • See the monarch butterflies in Pacific Grove (November through January).
  • Take a road trip to Portland, OR.
  • See the Columbia River Gorge and Multnomah Falls.
  • Visit the Rosie the Riveter Museum in Richmond.
  • Go to a yoga retreat.
  • Take a poetry workshop.
  • Visit Catalina Island.
  • Spend a weekend (or a week) in Palm Springs.
  • Visit the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
  • Stay at the Rancho la Puerta Wellness Center in Tecate, Mexico for a week of R&R.
  • Go white water rafting.
  • Visit Berta and Terry in Boise, ID.
  • Ride mules to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
  • Visit Paris again.
  • Spend a month (or the summer) in the South of France.
  • Visit Greece.

I will be adding to the list over time, so consider this one merely a start. If there is something on the list that looks fun to you, let me know and we’ll do it together!

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Now go create your own FUN List and let’s compare notes.

Until next time,
Cynthia

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