Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Fast Cars & Fancy Cheese

Woke Sunday morning with her on my mind. Took a few hours before I tightened in on the fact that while I knew May 17th was the day my mother was born, and I had already felt that tiny little stab of, “I wish I wish her a happy birthday in person” it wasn’t until I was safely tick-tack-ticking prices on a stack of newly arrived Provencal Rose at the shop that it dawned on me, she would have been 70 this year. Felt my shoulders sink just before they started bouncing as the first chuckle of the day rumbled from my tummy up, “Fuck, would she have hated the sound of that”

Pretty sure that my own uptick in years, and the hormonal wild ride that comes with it, is in part responsible for this softening of my self-reinforced crunchy outer layer. In part the reason that I find myself crying at any number of manufactured heart string tugging film, television show or damn commercial. Part of the reason that I feel the edges of my mouth bend and sort of stretch in the direction of my ears, something I think some folks call a smile, when I see a tiny person float in strapped to one of their parents, little feet dangling…oh if they’re wearing like bity Chucks, Vans or flower adorned sandals, um, I turn into the village idiot. Puppies, those baby elephant videos, kitties cuddling, I’ve got people the globe over posting adorable small animal videos and pictures on my Facebook page, daily, at this point. Not sure how my uterus drying up (wishful thinking as the bastard is acting more like it has developed a stutter than actually riding off into the, “I can now go commando all the damn time” sunset) has made me gushier but it has. That or my jaw is just getting tired of being ready to take the next blow, but there has been a very noticeable lack of….ambivalence in my squishy bits as of late.

My mother’s birthday has always been on my radar. It’s one of those week-and-a-half to two week stints between Mother’s Day and the 20th of May that are reminders, a day to celebrate moms, her birthday, the last night I saw her and the anniversary of her death all bunched up like a fist that all too often hits me square in my gut, and has for nearly 15 years now. This year, that little chuckle about how displeased she would have been at the idea of turning 70, (although obviously I think she would have gladly taken that to the alternative. The one that had her not seeing her daughters married, her youngest getting her Masters and most beloved grandchild graduate from high school, and the University of Louisville) brings with it another gentler smile, one that lets me know that for all the downs, the fights, the emotional cruelty and hateful rage she threw, she loved us and gave all that she was capable of, and that fucked up mix made us who we are. This woman I am now.

Maybe it was always less about what she did wrong and more about how I took it. Not sure, but all those years running, spastically, from anything resembling the life she led, at times from even thinking about being her daughter…one of those jobs that made you feel the most loved, and resented human on the planet, maybe it took nearly 44 years for me to give up my own dissatisfaction and rage. Maybe it took my writing here and sharing our story, our stories, that helped me crack at all the crusted over bits and begin to let my more fragile, un-scared flesh be exposed. (I’m still leaning toward blaming my sputtering uterus by the way) I know my sister has always hated, or had issue, with me sharing what our mother was really like. Felt like I was betraying her, and with her not here to defend herself, although I can’t imagine how there is ever a defense of seething insults like, “I wouldn’t fuck you with someone else’s body!” at your daughters because they were dressed up and going out, like teenage girls do. Like she did. Her choices and circumstances weren’t mine to make and while I sometimes trumped about the house wearing her clogs and boots when I was tiny, I never once walked directly in her shoes. Nor she in mine and somewhere in there I’m finding a little peace and the missing is less heavy, or saturated with tension. It’s sweeter and that cream stuff, well it’s rising to the top….

This morning, my day off, I woke and lazily motored about the apartment. My husband on a rare visitation tapping away at his keyboard, the sound of the couch wheezing beneath my stretched out frame, the seducing sound of water trickling across stones coming from the little stream that runs through our apartment complex, audible over the utter silence of an empty Monday workday. I took a deeply satisfying breath and a sensory memory overtook me so strongly I swore I could taste the phantom aroma. A dish my mother had in her weekly rotation for a couple years, around the time when I was 9-12 years old. Not the kind of meal I grew up eating but one that made an impression…even though I can’t seem to recall if I liked it or not, which tells me it wasn’t a “Most hated” dish. 

It was when we were living at my brother’s father’s house. The Big Ugly Evil I used to call it, the one where we lived over the garage and my mother was tasked with feeding the transient and ever-changing stream of sad souls that man would bring trudging through the house. Through his house, as we were always reminded. I would be in one of the back rooms off the kitchen, often reading or listening to The Mighty 690 AM radio. I would hear the Pyrex dish hit the counter, the slithery sound of her knee-high clad feet as they slid across the linoleum. A twist of the door knob of the pantry, (to this day I’ve not seen a pantry as big as the one in The Big Ugly Evil. Used to hide in there and snack on hickory smoked almonds and sliced green bell peppers that I’d douse with red wine vinegar, black pepper and garlic salt…so yeah, weird kid) my ears perking up to see if I could make out which of her weekly creations she was up to. Pantry door closed with a swoosh, me with my back pressed against the high backed chair that was deemed “too ugly” for his dining room, therefore perfect for us, knees drawn tight to my chest as I strained to finish dinner, through sound. Wasn’t until I heard the un-vacuuming “poink” and the sound of an envelope slapping back and forth, hitting the sides of my mother’s wrist that the symphony of soon-to-be dinner sang. 

The “Poink” sound was from a jar of apricot jam or jelly, the slapping envelope a packet of Lipton Onion Soup mix, (and why do we all do that slapping thing?! I still do it on the three or four times a year I treat myself, yes, I said treat, to some onion dip) she would mix that with a sploosh of Russian dressing before pouring it over chicken thighs and baking until brown and bubbling. A cut open bag of Minute Rice would be tossed about in a bowl with some butter and dinner was served. I am not kidding in the least when I say I could actually taste that dish when the memory of its smell came over me this morning. Rather incredible, and very welcome kiss on the forefront as it were….

“You’ve had a very lucky life” a phrase I hear quite often from customers as we talk about where I’ve visited, what I’ve tasted and where I’m going next. Used to bug the shit out of me seeing as I’ve spent a significant volume of time, and muscle, carrying around this damn baggage all these years. Lucky?! Charmed?! Easy?! These comments would send a nail through my spine and that tight jaw I’d been known for, well it would seal beneath pursed lips and the weight of a heavy brow. Sunday at the shop, just before closing I was recommending a wine and sharing the story of how sweet the winemaker is, how charming her home and her parents, the way they found out about my seafood “issue” and on the spot whipped me up another dish to wash down with their Champagnes. The words were playing like an orchestra to her ears, her smile encouraging me to keep playing. That was when her warm grin spread apart and she said, “You’ve got it pretty good” the words spilling over me like a wave of restorative freshness “Yes. Yes I do now” my response. 

There is no way I could have, or would have, any of all that I have without the hands that shoved or sweetly led me on this path. The running, the shielding, the willingness to try anything, these are all gifts bestowed upon me that have contributed, both good and bad, to the person I am now and…well for maybe the first time in the nearly 15 years since she passed away, all I can think to say to my mother is, Thank You. 

I’m almost exactly a million miles from being great at anything but I do seem to have a sliver of talent when it comes to this wine thing. Could be that titch of oddity that bent me enough to unashamedly speak up for the wines that created the kind of sensory memory that held enough intrigue to keep me listening and opening my mouth. To taste and talk more. To use words that tug at those of us that tromp about in the big splashy puddles of indulgent pleasure, and to those of us that find something nearly sensual in restraint and the scraping of the less polished. Wouldn’t be surprised to find it a sort of envelope packet of all of the above and none of it could have been possible without the life that brought me here, and the woman that gave all she had.

She Gave Me

The Love of Music. Be it an escape, a warm embrace, a deeply pounding session of fucking that leaves me breathless and like I’ve been astoundingly felt. Music, the right music, feels like hands caressing and massaging all of my bits and can evoke memories of exact moments that bounce to life like I were looking at it like film. I crave it. I fear it. I spent many years learning how to curve my body to it. Found a whole other life to run to because I could and there, there I found acceptance that I hadn’t before.

The Lust for Love. When I was very young, maybe five or six, my mother had a group of friends that worked with her at La Mesa Porsche Audi. Mechanics that all worked at the dealership where she was a receptionist. They did everything together…..like everything, and most of my early memories involve that group. One member of the clan was a very handsome young man, 19 years old when they all first met, named Matt. He was way hotter than my Fonzie poster and he was so sweetly attentive to the lonely, shy little girl that lived just outside the rooms where they drank beers and smoked pot. Matt always made me feel special and on one day, my birthday I believe, he even picked me up for a “date” where he took me for a ride in his convertible Porsche, to lunch and to get professional pictures taken. Never. Never had anything even remotely that sweet done for me before and to a five or six year old, well this was clearly a sign of true love. He loved me. I knew it and we were destine to be married one day. I even wore a dreaded dress for my picture as a promise that I would also wear one when we got married. Well, as these things often do, situation didn’t quite work out as my six year old imagination planned. Matt and I were never married, (dammit) but after schooling a “stand in” date of his, while she was brushing her long, shinny, twenty year old locks, that she ought not get too close to him as he was spoken for….well I learned that love was something I was willing to wait and fight for. That and driving just a little too fast, it was just my speed….

The Love of Fancy Cheese. One of the questions I get most often is how I got into cheese, (for those of you that don’t know, I am also the cheese specialist at The Wine Country). This too is a legacy of my mother, and her unwillingness to settle into her, our, situation. Most of my life was spent in varying stages of broke. Either flat ass with no food, or with certain utilities being sacrificed as there wasn’t quite enough money to cover. Lived on pancakes for a couple weeks and to this day I will not eat those bastards. Cheese on the other hand….well we always seemed to have just enough for fancy cheese. A tiny wedge of aged Cheddar. A block of rich and nutty Gouda. Smoldering and stinking triangles of pungent blue. Now unless it was tax return time we would never have all at one time but outside of the Pancake Era, there was always some gratifying bit of salty and creamy there in cases of, much needed. I grew up eating those cheeses like the rare treats they were and much like learning the sounds of dinner “music” and the flavors of specific vineyards and the taste of a winemaker’s thumbprint, I remembered them all. The way sharp Cheddar bit at the sides of my throat and the taunting twist of hand pulled string cheese as I spun the tiny threads around my tongue, hoping to extract each ounce of flavor. She used to call me Mouse in fact and part of the reason was my unabashed love of all things cheesery and also for the way my nose would go to work when she brought me to a deli counter, twitching and investigating. Probably another dash of seasoning in that whole envelope of who I am.


I wished you a very happy Mother’s Day
Am grateful we spent that last night together, all of us, celebrating your birthday
I miss you all the time but feel it most this time of year….
I hope you found a way to be proud of us, and you for making us the girls we are and for making my son feel like the most loved person in the world….he is one of the best people I know and you are part of the reason why.

As a woman of way too many words today I have just two, they are from the deepest bottom ocean of my heart
Thank You,

Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Are We Waiting For


Feeling a bit like a five year old, dusty sneaker poking at a pile of unrumpled redish clay soil, front teeth dug into the flakey cracked bits of used flesh on my bottom lip, aging green eyes searching each one of yours, the luscious dark browns, the pale blue, the ones that look like pleated bits of orange and green tissue paper. The dark black, penetrating cobalt, golden honey and chartreuse. All the colors of the eyes that fall upon my words, upon my open soul and keep coming back to drink from me. I can’t and won’t, wouldn’t assume you have been waiting but, I’m sorry if you even once came here seeking my stories, silliness, sarcasm, sensuality, my voice. I’ve been away….

Been in the place I always am, as far as physically. My home has not been Wizard of Oz’d, still nestled here in the somewhat protected city I’ve called my, well my house, it has never been my home. San Diego and Long Beach are my home, but this apartment where we raised our son, have stained, laughed, cried, grew, shrank, battled, quit and tried again, the space I’ve made a fool of myself by mistake and on purpose, this hasn’t moved. My rickety dining room table and its tired legs that sweetly shudder but stand strong when I plunk my embarrassingly overflowing platters upon it, it is still supporting my hefty forearms and sweaty drinks. My adorable neighbor’s light across the way just now, a welcome and open sign, for a couple more hours. My new ipod being the annoying new thing I have to learn and agreeably letting me pretend that I just don’t know how to work the damn thing and that is why I keep listening to the same damn five songs over, and over again. It’s not that I’m freaking obsessed with George Ezra and Hozier, this damn thing doesn’t read my fingertip mind! Yeah, like that. The smells around here are a little different, my stove a little less slaving, my bed far more rumpled from the tossing and turning. The unconscious foot sweep and entire body wiggle of the lonely left behind bookend. Only so far you can go before you fall off the shelf right?

Before anyone worries, my husband and I are still very much married. I’ve not left or been left, sort of. He has however been traveling, like an insane amount with his new job….the one he loves and feels appreciated in and driven by, (so what kind of partner can be mad about that, right?) the one that has had him gone 12 out of the last 15 weeks. Weeks. (Insert very dramatic and pouty sigh here) So my home, my house, it feels more hollow and needy than it ever has. More work for me to do, one soap always needing replacement while the other sits dry, one less craving tummy and no one here to entertain as I run out with my hair in twelve pigtails, glasses upside down, no pants with a plunger in my hand asking, “Um, have you seen my dignity?” which makes that whole thing a tad awkward, my infantile snort notwithstanding. I’m cooking less, enjoying a bit less and have been finding far less inspiration, both here and crawling my woefully tired clunky frame into bed at night.

I crave passion like an adrenaline junkie craves dropping from the tip of a wave or hovering their toes over the side of a plane. I nurse from that kind of swelling like an infant feeds from a firm and willing nipple. Getting older, and slower, curbs some of that but the fire that churns about inside me, the flames that have flicked at my insides since I was old and wild enough to listen, it still smolders and cracks beneath my skin. Still kicks at my ribcage and raises my eyebrow. It slithers about inside me and sends those tired legs searching for a place to tie up, to stop for the night. Feels like a warm palm in the small of my back, pushing me to bend in ways that make them watch. Make them crave too. It’s all here, just beneath my aching to be stroked skin, but...

I need that firm willing in my mouth too…

I need a reason to plunge


Tear at my clothes

My flesh

Bare myself….

Feel myself searching more than ever before. The Taylor Swiftication of music. The Parkersation and AntiParkersation of wine. Boring and lonely food I cook for just me. The points wars. The who matters and who doesn’t ego fucking stroke of interweb wine blog self-glorification, a soulless and back lit empty footless sweep of a very empty bed. There are exactly 3 wine blogs I can even bother to click on anymore, and no, not one of those three is mine. Not sure I ever fit in the wine blog world and as it bleeds out I can say once again, I’m okay with that. I do still so badly ache to learn, read, be fed and nursed…have that tug of my lips on the firm and willing inspire me to spread myself open to those in need of feeding too.

So now what?

For me, I took a couple weeks off and let myself stroke and puddle. Pout and grieve for a place that use to be. Settle into a new life with a few less daily voices as I did my best impression of a baby making out the new shapes and faces. Searched for my passion where I should have stayed in the first place, in the soft, warm, wet, river of fire that has burned within for as long as my increasingly feeble mind can remember. I’ve let the weight of acceptance tie my tongue, hold me back and down for long enough. I’ve never been able to line dance or do the electric slide. My body doesn’t bend that way….their way, I stumble and with my “Zinfandel Face” watch the counted out steps drag, uninspired across the dance floor just like the choreographed, “thoughts” spin in front of my screen like they are on some crazy Sisyphus spool. Time to hit the “fuck it” button and open myself again. I miss the feeling.  

The wriggling out of those socially acceptable britches didn’t come without a bit of a hiccup. My severely vexed and fatigued mind took that quite literally. The twice the work at home thing is coupled with way more work at work, (but some way fucking cool new and very exciting things, new cheese case full of new meats, fresh eggs, pates, local pickles and eggs…more tasting, teaching, learning, fuck I love that. Not to mntion new faces and policies that make us a better, tighter and more efficient company, love that too. ) so at the end of my day coming home to, well to nothing, not wanting to cook, eat read or write, well my crazy had to go somewhere. Spent a full week suffering night terrors like I’ve not ever experienced before, well since I actually had a monster that was hunting and wanting to silence me. 

It’s a small thing in the world of serious issues. My sleep has always been a spiteful and craveable mistress but this was the first time I’ve ever woken from a sound sleep, heart racing in my throat, pillowcase ripped in half between my fingers, in tears only to fall back to sleep and have it happen over and over again. A reoccurring nightmare (any of you had those? Like the same one from start to finish for days on end?) that brought with it a hot shower and flesh scrubbing kind of creep and horror that kept me up for almost a full week. The kind of darkness that makes you begin to question your own sanity, like how could your own head conspire to terrorize you like that? I started to tell a friend about what went on in these evil and grotesque night films and before I could get halfway through he stood up, wrapped his arms around me, face curled into a twist that let me know I wasn’t being a pussy, his nervous voice telling me, “I love you Samantha” think that might have been the thing that flipped my switch. Love…

I need it

I need to give it

I need to inspire it

I am willing to share it

Show it

Drink from it and spill it into others

Been feeling too alone and part of that






Tell me you missed me

Lie if you have to

Feed me…

Teach me

Inspire me….

I promise

I’ll return the favor

What are we waiting for 

Let's sleep
Smell and touch each other again.

I've missed you

One thousand tiny kisses

Can I pour you a glass?

Just Me...