Feline Noir: Losing & finding Minino

Crunching in the darkness through leaf-cluttered backyards, quietly opening and closing gates, we tip-toed through the neighborhood, supercharged with adrenaline.

“Minino!” We called and called and called. Our flashlights violated the private corridors of our neighborhood: dense town-homes or apartment buildings (obsessed with security) crowding in on older Craftsman homes with sizable yards and flimsy screen doors.

I’ve never been so determined to find anything or anyone. The hours disappeared like the flicker of his florescent eyes — bright, visible, certain and then suddenly nowhere to be found. He seemed to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time, taunting us with his ability to transcend property lines by jumping from the top of one fence to another.

Certain we’d find him, we returned home in morning light defeated and exhausted.

The following day we oscillated between hopelessness and determination. Dutifully (and tearfully), we duct-taped bright flyers to heavily-stapled telephone poles — this gesture a brutal reminder of our desperation.

So when a (cat) lady named Patti responded to one of our LOST CAT Craigslist posts with a laundry list of cat-finding methods, we took her very seriously. “Some people have had success creating a scent trail back to their home by spraying their own urine around the neighborhood,” she wrote. Bingo.

Instead of spending the next night searching, we laid the groundwork for OPERATION MININO FIND YOUR OWN WAY BACK! We mixed one-part Brenton’s pee with one-part fresh spring water in a large spray bottle and went to TOWN. We also strategically placed Brenton’s dirty socks by our home. Finally, we left our backyard open with a bowl of canned food and water for his return.

To our delight (and initial disbelief), he was found sleeping peacefully in our backyard when I tip-toed downstairs to check outside at 4am. There in all his physical preciousness, contained and domestic, looking once again like OUR cat instead of a the wild beast we pursued the night before. ❤


Breaking the shopping twitch: Maybe things really are different now

Tonight, I wandered into a giant Forever 21. I was by myself, talking long-distance with my dad through my earbuds. We were deep into one of our political conversations. It’s a rousing game of word tennis that we play — an amicable exchange. I love this about my relationship with my dad.

I had been wandering along Southern California Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage when he called me. Equipped with my Sony camera and a bottle of water, I intended to enjoy the California sunshine for as long as possible this evening. Near the end of our chat, the sun had fallen behind the San Jacinto mountains, and a big glass box emblazoned with FOREVER21 beckoned me.

As I wandered inside, the raucous music of the younger retail stores was blocked out by our conversation. I felt strangely calm, periodically assessing something for its feasibility (and often shaking my head at the impracticality of so many items).

A beautiful thing happened: the typical thrill of shopping was absent. I often feel a certain thirsty zeal when I’m in a retail environment. My eyes gobble up the array of fabrics and patterns and options — simultaneously energized and overwhelmed. I’m drawn in by all the potential people I can be. A bohemian? A little retro glam? Perfectly girly in a frilly top? Maybe sporty spice in this raglan shirt?

I am not just looking for clothing, I’m looking for myself. My identity. I’m looking for ways to transform, become a better version of myself.

Or at least, I was. Maybe things really are different now. I certainly hope so.


Here’s Ranchito Conchito. Say it out loud, it’s fun!

Dad said goodnight; it was late in Pennsylvania. My earbuds defaulted to the Jerry Paper song that had been playing before he called me. How pleasant to continue ignoring the overbearing bass of Forever’s soundtrack. How pleasant to ignore the allure of new clothing.

Walking back to my hotel, I stopped at Five Guys for a cheeseburger with all the fixins’. I toggled through the photos I had taken on my Sony of Ranchito Conchito (a tiny stone house that happens to be the oldest in Rancho Mirage). I felt strangely peaceful.

Seduced by the hunt: confessions of an online shopper

It always starts innocently enough. You see a blouse on Instagram and go searching for it on the web. You’ll just peruse a little, see what you can find. You experience surges of delight when your badass googling abilities deliver just what you’re looking for. What begins as curiosity becomes a ravenous pursuit. A colossal challenge posed by the universe.

Now we’re getting somewhere, you think. So you start Command + T’ing the shit of out of those google results. Suddenly you realize you have a dozen tabs open, so you switch gears, analyzing each result, tab by tab. Hmm, not the right color. Eh, this one looks cheap. Perfect — but waaay too expensive. Damn! After wading through all dozen tabs, you’re back where you started with your google search. You begin a new search using slightly different keywords, really honing in on your prey. I mean purchase!

You search and search and search. Selecting, opening, analyzing each item’s main points (style, comfort, practicality, price). The really good one is often prohibitively too expensive. So you’re left with a handful of sub-par options. You become suddenly overwhelmed by choices with no clear winner. A lot of similar shit. Annoyingly similar shit!


This is the plateau. Those surges of delight are few and far between at this point. However, you’re committed to the hunt. Addicted, almost. You will find it. So you power through. Maybe you distract yourself by looking at something else. A different item or you switch it up by searching on Pinterest for ideas.

At some point, usually when your energy is almost depleted, you are faced with two options. Impulse buy or abandon the mission. You don’t want to be a failure. And if you’re being honest, you also don’t want to spend tomorrow night scouring the internet.

It’s hard to leave this pursuit without a reward for all of that hard work. So you often scramble for your wallet and just place the order. When the transaction is complete, you feel one last surge of delight. A present! In the mail! It’s on its way! And then a little concern: hope I made the right choice.

You snap back into the physical world, you drink some water. You re-engage with your surroundings. You feel relieved and very tired.


At least, that was my experience when I got into online shopping. I must be very careful now! No more jumping on a special promo that ends tonight. It’s not saving me money if the item gets disregarded for its lack of practicality.

I’ve finally made peace with my closet and that means freedom from the allure of online shopping. Focusing that much on my wardrobe just takes up too much time. I want time for stuff that actually makes me feel good afterwards. ✴

How writing helps me know myself & appreciate life

I love the gentle whoosh-whoosh of the traffic outside mingling with my playlist of ambient tunes. We’ve designed our spare bedroom to be a creative space: Brenton does his music thing, I do my writing thing. Not so long ago, I wasn’t making any time for this necessary enterprise and it weighed on me.

I realized that my life was gliding by and I wasn’t getting to document my thoughts about any of it. Pictures are great. Social media updates about posts from this time last year or five years ago — those can be great too (sometimes not, though). But I’m less concerned with what things looked like and more interested in what they felt like.

Back in college, I read this book called What It Felt Like: Living in the American Century. The format of this book was genius! Here’s the deal: in an attempt to capture what it felt like to be alive in the last century, Henry Allen captures vivid snapshots of everyday life in ten chapters — one for each decade. Intrigued? Now read this description: Each of these ten chapters is a virtual time capsule written with keen intelligence, feeling, and an uncanny sense of the essential experiences of the era: the unexpected, idiosyncratic sights, sounds, occasions, and events that defined not just the time but the way we remember it.

I love this approach to writing so much. And that’s why it feels important for me to write on a regular basis. Anyone could take a picture of the objective reality. My hair is a certain length, my face looks a certain way, and certainly other clues in a photo taken at this moment would jog memories. However, I’m most interested in knowing myself, gaining insights about what I want in life and what delights and what doesn’t.

My hiatus from writing stemmed from a lack of time (or so it seemed), energy and access. I’ve become so picky with how I write. The paper has to have a certain tooth to it (yes, that’s a thing) and my pen has to be a Pilot G-2 Ultra Fine Point 0.38 mm. Thick paper, skinny pen. I spent months looking for the perfect journal when I finished with my last. I even started and abandoned a few promising journals. (And the whole “hello, this is a new journal. let’s do this…” is so obligatory and clunky. It can take a few pages to gain momentum!)

However, I decided recently that I’m not making any more excuses. If I am going to be the person I want to be, I need to find practical ways to incorporate my most cherished pastimes into my life. Amazing what you can discover when you’re giving yourself tough love. A quick google search resulted in the discovery of JRNL. A beautiful, private online journal that I can access from my desktop or mobile device. No paper tooth need apply.

And guess what! If I do want to preserve these thoughts in a physical book one day, JRNL offers a journal book-binding service so you can plunk these musings down on your coffee table forevermore. ✴