Monday, December 27, 2010

Up Too Late

I often find myself up too late, lying in my bed, unable to sleep. Worse yet, I stare at my computer thinking that since I can't sleep, well, obviously I must be destined to write something brilliant. I can't just be...up for no reason.  Unfortunately, more often than not...nothing really comes to mind.

Christmas just ended, not quite an hour ago. I'm exhausted, but here I am, trying to make sense of my insomnia.  Go figure. Memo to me: New Year's Resolution - get more sleep....


Well Happy New Year to everyone! Resolve to laugh. I think we can all use a little laughter.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

All the Tiny Tims

The other day I was watching a cheezy tear-jerker Christmas movie (my favorite kind) on the Hallmark Channel.  It was yet another of the countless versions of "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. As I watched I realized that no matter what kid they get to play Tiny Tim, I still cry every time he/she sings or says "God bless us everyone!" It's not the kid, mind you, it's the look on the faces of everyone else. It's the look of helplessness, because they know this child they love is in pain, probably dying, and they can do nothing to stop it.

I often write about my frustrations and tribulations with my health, and my experiences in connection with it. It's what I know, and what I deal with everyday. Thinking about the Tiny Tims in the world or more accurately, the ones who love those Tiny Tims, made me realize how blessed I really am. If someone has to be hurting, I'd rather it was me.  What parent with a sick child wouldn't do anything to change places, or give their life in exchange, rather than bare the loss. How many people see their close friends in pain and wish there were something they could do? How many wives have to watch their husbands suffer with cancer,  feeling powerless.  How many lovers must merely watch, as the ones they love die slowly of AIDS.  It's all around.

This season is held up as a wonderful happy time, but for so's not. There's so much I can't do anything about...but hey, I can call someone and let them know I care. I can offer a hug or a listening ear. I can invite someone to dinner, or for coffee. I don't plan to wait for visitations from the Ghosts of Christmas, before I try reaching out.

This season isn't about the gifts we buy, but the gifts we give. It's not our presents, but our presence. 
Happy Holidays Friends! And "God bless us everyone!"

Caren E. Salas

Thank you to Robin Harrison for this photo from "A Christmas Carol" CSUDH

Thursday, November 18, 2010


     Looking on the bright side, the hours spent in one waiting room after another (after another) gives me time to write. As I scribble into my little notebook, I realize that this particular waiting room is at least painted in bright colors and has colorful floral prints hanging on the walls.  The atmosphere attempts to be cheerful even if the general mood is not.  Everything will be fine, we tell ourselves, but there is always at least a part of us feeling the doubt and fear that won't be so fine.
    This is the third medical appointment in as many days, and I still have one tomorrow and a lab yet to be scheduled.
    No one talks really. The only sounds are magazine pages turning and the occasional throat clearing or nervous sigh. I'm moved from one waiting room to another, soon to be moved to the procedure room.  Knowing that the "procedure" won't necessarily hurt, doesn't really alleviate the anxiety.  Having had the procedure before doesn't calm me either. All I can do what they say and try to relax. I know there are lots of people much worse off than me: people who have to go through much worse experiences. I try to think about that and pray that I don't end up being one of those people eventually.  Maybe that's why I feel the way I do. I'm only a few tests away from the really scary stuff.  Well, I guess I shouldn't get ahead here. One uncomfortable issue at a time, I always say. So here I go. It's my turn.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's Coming...

     There's something a little sad about winter (even in California).  Not that it's here yet of course, but it's coming. The days get shorter, and I swear they go by faster.  As I get closer to the holidays I try not to put too much expectation on things, and yet it seems impossible not to. I want the happy endings you always see in the movies. You all know what I'm talking about.  No matter what horrible events take place, everything works out in the end and everyone comes together for a wonderful Christmas dinner full of smiles and love.  But that's not what real life is like, is it? Bad stuff happens and it's not always hunkie dorrie in the end.  Loved ones die, people are hungry, others are depressed, some will even commit suicide.  So as I face another winter, and another holiday season, I'm hoping to go into it merely with the expectation of making it through unscathed. Anything more than that, is whip cream on the pumpkin pie, so to speak.
So here we go. Wish me luck - the same to you.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Slow down!

Today we celebrated my youngest child's 11th birthday. How did this happen? My "baby" cannot be 11! Next year she starts middle school. Wasn't it only yesterday I cradled her in my arms?  It truly does not seem fair that my body is slowing down so much and yet time seems to be zipping along at the speed of light.  Granted, there is that little detail about me having a chronic medical condition, but still!  I'm way too young to feel this freaking OLD!  I hate when people mention those quaint cliches like "you're only as old as you feel," because I feel ancient. How about we change that to: "you are as young as you wish you were!" Yeah, that's the ticket. I know, right? I can try and feel young, I can wish I were young, but my body tells me otherwise. Whatcha' gonna' do? There's only one option I'm afraid, and I'm going with it: straight out denial.
Works for me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Je T'aime

I love the French language. Despite the obvious advantages of learning Spanish (considering that I live in California, and about three hours from Mexico) I decided to take French in high school. I loved the way it sounded, and how I felt speaking it.  I daydreamed of visiting Paris, and traveling across the French countrysides with it's vineyards and chateaux. As it turned out I did get to visit France, and absolutely loved it. I'm sure the people I met there thought my French was atrocious, but I think they appreciated the effort. I was thinking about this wonderful language because..for one thing, I really want to brush up on it  (why? I have no idea. I just want to).  The other reason is that I was thinking about friends and how thankful I am for my friends.  The word for "friend" in French is "ami". The way to say the verb "to love" in french is "aimer". Looks pretty close to me.  It's like they are saying that love is part of the meaning of friendship.  In English, it seems the word "friend" is thrown around and used for any mere acquaintance.  I suppose we have other words that qualify the term. There's "best" friend, or "close" friend, but I like to think that those I love could just be called "amis".  Works for me. So....Adieu Mes Amis! Au Revoir! Je T'aime!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dog Heaven

Last weekend we took our dog, Whiskey, to the dog beach.  He was so happy running around on the sand, free of leashes and fences, chasing his ball, splashing in the surf a bit, sniffing other dogs and making friends.  He was in dog heaven. Of course, I love that he loves the beach, because, well, I love the beach. It's my favorite place. He's my favorite dog.  Okay, he's my only dog. But hey, it's fun to say that I'm going to hang out on the beach with a little Whiskey.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

If It Ain't Broke...

Through a somewhat random train of thoughts (which for me is not unusual) I started thinking of that phase: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."  I always had mixed feelings about that, because while on one side I sort of agree with it, I also think it assumes that anything that is broken can be fixed.  So what about a broken heart? I know there are people who, though they won't admit it out loud, believe they can "fix" their friends or relatives who have been hurt by matters of the heart.  Unfortunately healing one's damaged emotions is not a one-size-fits-all application.  What works for one person is unlikely to work for another. This is frustrating to most of us. Its always hard to see someone you care about in pain, whether it's physical or emotional.  We want to help, we want to fix it...but we can't.  So what do we do? Sometimes we say the wrong things. Sometimes we don't know what to say. Sometimes we throw up our arms, exasperated.
What we need to do is just shut the heck up, listen, offer hugs, love, prayer, and support, because when it comes down to it, that's all we can do, and it's probably the hardest thing to do. 
So if it ain't broke...just thank your lucky stars. And sometimes... if it is broke...don't fix it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Here We Go

This should be an interesting week. Tomorrow we all go to the dentist, the next day we're meeting friends for brunch and then...Wednesday: school starts.  I am SO looking forward to a return to schedule.  It's not like I think suddenly my life will be that much easier, but there is a comfort in the "usual".  I get up in the morning, take the kids to school, have a little time to myself, take the dog for a walk, clean the house, do laundry, grocery shopping, whatever, pick the kids up, deal with the homework, make dinner, yadda yadda...
I know in a few weeks I will be tired of the same ol' same ol', but for now...I need it.  I need a sense of control, no matter how minuscule. So here we go...on a voyage to the "same ol'." Let's see what happens.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

So Cal WIMP and Proud of it

As I watch the final days of summer do their usual turbo fly-by, it feels a little strange. After spending the last two months in a perpetual "June Gloom" that lasted well into August, the sun has decided to make an appearance. Of course it's making up for lost time by pushing the temperatures up to 90 degrees or more.  Last weekend my husband and I were in Palm Springs, and the thermometer was topping 113. Yikes.  I am an admitted Southern California Wimp (yes, capital W). I am just not happy when it's too hot or too cold, and my definitions of "too hot" and "too cold" are ridiculously mild.  75-80 is good. I like an occasional rain storm, as long as I don't have to drive anywhere.  Snow is nice to visit, but the idea of having to get up and shovel a path to my car, or spend 30 minutes thawing the car and scraping off the ice is beyond my comprehension.  Likewise, living day after day in 100 plus temps would definitely not be happening for me either.  Sorry, East-Coasters, but as far as I'm concerned "seasons" are over-rated. 

So there it is. I am what I am, a proud but wimpy California Girl.
What can I say? Try not to be jealous.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Looking out...

I've always had a fondness for this time of year.  To me, it's a time for new beginnings and the return of schedule.  The kids are getting ready to go back to school. Daily activies start to move along in a steady groove. The summer's shrapnel gets cleaned up and put away until next year.  Of course, right around the corner the holidays are lurking, lying in wait and ready to pounce on whatever peace I may briefly establish.  But for now...I look forward to those quiet moments...when I'm the only one home and for awhile, my universe is calm.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The August Snowball

Remember when I said I was going to make the most of what was left of the summer? Well, I really did what I wanted to do. I called friends, made dates to get together, and even planned a day at the beach with the kids. What was I thinking? So much for relaxing, haha.  We have, what? Three weeks left? I've been travelling along, barely moving for two months. Now suddenly, I have the momentum of an avalanche.  I'm going to be running around like a crazy woman (wait, that's nothing new) trying to get all these activities in.  The funny thing is, that when school starts and I'm back to being alone with my little dog, then what?  I'll tell you. Exhausted from the descent, and still half buried by snow, I'll drag myself up and out, and take the kids to school. Then, with what little energy I have left, I'll get up and undo the disaster left behind, with a shovel and a spray bottle of Febreeze.  (The boys room...oh, you have no idea.) 

Really, can't wait. (There's a reason my dog's name is Whiskey.)

So here I go.  Almost time to throw that first snowball.....

Monday, August 9, 2010


I've started this blog post 3 times now and I just can't seem to think of anything interesting to write.  I know what you're never stopped you before, Caren. Yeah, yeah, you all think you are SO funny.  Seriously though, sometimes I look at my past posts and think...I am so...full of it. OMG I can't imagine what people think when they read this garbage! Then again, who's to say? Quoting the Grinch: - "One man's garbage is another man's potpourri."

So today I have tons to do. Hopefully once I get some stuff done - the stuff I have to do, that will open up time for the things I want to do.  One can hope.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summertime's a wastin'....

It really doesn't seem fair. Here it is, already August, and once again the summer has flown away like a paper picnic table cloth on a windy day.  I feel like I need to cram as much in as I can into these few final moments before September comes and we all get back into the normal grind of life.  The good news about that, is that it has pushed me to call a few neglected friends, and set actual times to get together. (Imagine that!) No more "hey, we really need to get together..." and then it never happens.  I get out my date book before I dial the phone.  Now I just have to apply that same gung-ho-ness to my writing. 

Earlier this week I sent out some poems to a magazine, and my usual MO would be to sigh and feel that now, I can relax. But NO...I need to get on a roll, slather it with butter and keep on going!  I need to set goals and KEEP them!  Easier said than done of course, but I do have one foot out the door.  Now it's a matter of pushing that door open enough to get through, and being brave enough to venture out.  That....or retreat back into the house.  Nah, I'm gonna' go for it.  Wish me a safe journey, friends....

photo by William Salas

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Choice to Be Positive

      I'm sure there are people out there who look at each new day as a new chance to live a happy life, or save the world, or be a better person. They are the perpetually optimistic souls who make the rest of us want to puke.  (Just kidding, sort of, lol.)  I, on the other hand find optimism a challenge at best. It doesn't come naturally.  I don't wake up in the morning thinking "Another beautiful day!" 
     Optimism is a choice.  For me, it's something I have work at. So many events and people in my life have tainted my ability to look at the bright side of a situation.  It would be easy to be cynical and bitter, and I'm tired of having to work so hard at everything.  Still...this is life. I face each day trying to suppress my inclination to believe that whatever can go wrong, most assuredly will. Instead, I search for my inner "Mary Sunshine" and try scrounge up the few tidbits of hope and faith that are stuck under the cushions of my couch.  Hey! Maybe I'll find that winning lottery ticket there too. (Well...let's not get carried away...)  But seriously, if there's a chance that tomorrow will be horrible, there is just as much chance that it will be fantastic. I have to remind myself of that once in a while.  Sometimes it only takes a hummingbird outside my window; or one of my kids saying something silly, or my dog sleeping upside-down with his paws in the air. It's those little things that remind me how to smile. It's those blessings that help me get through the pain and frustration in my life.
     I'm not always successful at being that positive person, but I try...and I dream of the morning I'll wake up and say "Another beautiful day!"....and mean it. Who knows? It could happen.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Just when you think...

You know how when doctors tell you to take a test and they say "I'm sure it'll be nothing..." and you believe them?  Inside you know that, obviously, once in a while it's not "nothing",  it's "something".  You always assume however, that the "something" will be on someone else's test results...not yours, and not someone that you care about.   Still it happens. Life sucks that way sometimes. It's hard but we get through it, one way or another.  Everyone gets through it in different ways: we grieve, we shout, we cry, we laugh, we blame...and in the end, nothing changes except us.  We still have to go through the pain, make the decisions, live past the difficult times.  My mom used to say "This too, shall pass." I hope she's right.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Hard Part...

With our house finally "finished" and graduations and birthdays complete, the sun seems to be setting on "the hard part", and (hopefully) what will happen now is a more relaxing summer.  I'm trying to be optimistic.  In truth, there is still much to be done along the lines of unpacking and reorganizing, to say nothing of the Black Hole which still needs to be explored, and conquered. 

Still, I find myself shedding my usual cynicism regarding at least the near future. Instead of feeling like my life is a constant merry-go-round of routine and drudgery, I have hopes that this summer, things will be better.  At least that's how I feel today, in this moment, and considering that's all I can know, I'm going with it. 

Wish me luck. Maybe the hard part really is over.

Photo by William Salas

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Today is my son's 16th birthday. Soon my oldest daughter will be 18.  She just graduated from high school.  Yikes.  Feels weird to think that soon I will have "adult" children.  Yet I look in the mirror and can't deny the signs those years have left on me.  Watching helplessly sometimes, I see my kids going through the same things I did.  I guess everyone has to go through the craziness in one way or another.   You can only hope that your kids manage it, and come out in one piece.

I've been reading "The Poet's Handbook", by  Judson Jerome. It's not exactly light reading, but I really want to know what I'm doing on a higher level than what I'm doing now.  I've been writing a lot more poetry lately, which is how my whole interest in writing started. It's one of those things I always just "did" without much thought to doing it for any reason other than the need.  There are publishers who won't even glance at a picture book in rhyme unless you are a "professional poet".  Technically I am, thankfully, having sold a whole whopping two poems for money.  (I've gotten other work published, but not for pay.)  So I feel a little like I've gone back to school. I sit with my book and a notebook, scribbling down notes and vocabulary fit for a Rhodes Scholar. (Did I even spell that right?)  There are so many people out there who call themselves poets but who really have no clue.  I don't want to be one of those. 

Meanwhile, I need to get back to my glamorous life: paying bills, getting the car washed, making sure the laundry gets fun fun.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer

Well, here it is, the first day of summer, and as is typical for So Cal, the June Gloom is hiding the sun until noon-time. I'm sure I say this every summer, but this year I'm gonna' spend more time at the beach! I'm gonna' get out my wetsuit (yeah, I know I'm a wimp - but I hate cold water!) and my body board! I'm gonna' take my little dog to the dog beach and dang it, I'm gonna' have a nice relaxing summer if it kills me!! Believe me, after the last few months, I deserve it.

I'm trying not to get discouraged by the giant "to do" list and the fact that nothing seems to get done when all my kids are at home.  I'm praying that my body cooperates and doesn't decide to shut down just when I get to the good parts.  I'm hoping that the economy doesn't continue to suck...the life out of all of us.  I'm hoping that the goals I set for myself are at least kind of realistic.  I'm counting on the sky NOT falling, and the shoreline not receding.  I guess I'm more optimistic than I thought...or maybe I've lost my mind completely.  Um, yeah, that's probably more likely. Either way, Happy First Day of Summer!

Photo by William Salas

Friday, June 18, 2010


I feel sometimes like I spend so much of my time waiting. I know I'm should "live in the moment" and all, but the "moment", at the moment - kinda' sucks.  I suppose if I could wake up in the morning and feel great, it would be easier to be optimistic.  I can try and enjoy the good times here and there, but a part of me is always thinking that my life is going to get better any day now.  The other part of me is saying "yeah, right, keep dreamin' honey."  I set markers:  When this gets done, things will be better. When the weather gets better, things will improve. When pigs fly...

Feeling a little melancholy today. (Can you tell?)  I should be excited. My furniture is finally coming. My house is almost done. However the amount of work I have to do in the next 24 hours is sure to take it's toll on my already weakened body.  And nobody around here seems to care. Apparently, I'm Super-Woman and I'm indestructible.  I've got news, folks...

Sometimes MS is called an invisible disease, because it's not obvious to others that you're struggling. The pain is not always something people can everyone assumes you're fine.  If I complain, I'm not taken seriously, or I'm faking, or being "dramatic". What has to happen before anyone realizes I'm hurting?

Well, enough about that. Gotta' get get...boom boom pow, and all that.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The weather today matches the way I feel. It's grey and overcast and looks like it wants to rain. 
I'm tired. Tired of moving boxes. Tired of dealing with this house. Tired of being tired, and feeling crappy.
If I were a cloud...I'd be raining.
People keep telling me the end is in sight.  I'm thinkin' not.  I have a long, long, way to go, and now that my MS is acting up, the road will be even longer. 
To my friends: don't tell me it's almost over, or that things will get better.  Just tell me you'll be around to listen, and make sure I don't seal up the windows and stick my head inside my brand new oven.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


photo by William Salas

What the heck...

I briefly had a journal-type blog, but decided it had become way too personal so I deleted the lot of it.  Unfortunately, I still found myself needing that outlet and although I have decided that some things are clearly not appropriate for a public blog, I have decided to document some of my thoughts.   My other blog started off as a cross between this and poetry but then sorta' morphed into being strictly a poety thing, with an occasional aside.  I'm sure very few people will be interested considering my life is far from glamerous or exciting. But hey, what the heck, this is more for me than anyone else so here I go...