An Open Letter to California

An Open Letter to California

Dear California,

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you this, but you rock. Not in an earthquake kind of way, but in a good way.

After all, I’m so grateful you didn’t cave to peer pressure and send to Southern California that ridiculously, bitter cold weather that the rest of the country has succumbed to lately. What is it they call it? Oh yeah, Polar Vortex, which I assume is supposed to scare the bejezus out of you, like calling LA freeway closures, “Carmageddon.” Even Florida got in on the arctic act and that’s a state that tends to go rogue in every election. Continue reading

The Road Taken: Living Amid Demons

Chapter 6:  They say it rains more in Seattle than just about anywhere else, but that’s not true. After G moved to Seattle he became an expert of sorts about the city and would often enjoy telling me how, drop per drop, it rained more in New York each year, than it did in the Northwest. G explained that while we had more cloudy days in Seattle, when it did rain, it was more often a drizzle than an actual downpour. Yes, G had become one of those Seattleites who feels a need to protect their city from stereotyping, and from those who assume Seattle to be synonymous with rain.

But none of this mattered to me on the night of the dinner we were hosting for Lia and Miles, our first dinner party as a couple. We planned the dinner, made a list of what needed to be done and which of us would do it. G made the quiche, I made the salad. He made the drinks and I set the table.  I also made dessert, a chocolate peanut butter pie that called for a ready-made graham cracker crust.  It was a no-bake recipe that I had cut out from a magazine, and my plan was to prepare it as soon as Stan and Jeannette left the house, so as to avoid any eye rolling from Stan.

Everything was in place. Stan and Jeannette were going out to a party that a colleague from Stan’s lab was throwing.  Of course, it was hard for me to imagine that Stan actually had any friends, but for all I knew, his colleague must have felt obligated to invite him, simply because everyone else from the lab was going. Meanwhile, Marigold was heading out to Issaquah to spend the weekend with friends.  At last! G and I were going to have the place to ourselves.

We planned for everything, except the rain.  And not the usual drizzling rain. Nope. We’re talking hardcore, menacing, rain. The kind you get in a horror movie where everyone has to seek solace in a dilapidated house, replete with demons. Buckets of rainfall, comes to mind.  So, too, gusty winds, and, naturally, treacherous roads, as was being reported on the news.

Don’t go out if you don’t have to, a reporter from KING news warned from her outdoor perch, somewhere along Puget Sound.  The winds blew violently against her trench coat, pummeling the poor woman in the blustery night.  Marigold, took one look and declared, “I’m not driving to Issaquah tonight. Not in that.”

Stan and Jeannette headed to their party on Capitol Hill, but only to get caught in traffic waiting to go over the University Bridge, a draw bridge that had become stuck in the raised position. Soon enough—too soon if you ask me—Stan and Jeannette gave up and returned home. The raised bridge and inclement weather also kept Lia and Miles from coming.

“We better do this another night,” said a disappointed Lia over the phone. I sighed. Marigold was right. It just wasn’t worth going out on a night like this.

“Anyway,” remarked Stan, “All’s not lost.” He cracked the oven door open and took a peak at G’s swiss cheese and mushroom quiche, still baking.  The savory, buttery aroma filled the air.

“At least we get to eat a fine dinner,” he added. Looking at me, he offered his version of an olive branch, “How about I finish setting the table? I’m famished!”

I looked at G, hoping he’d say something, find a way out of this predicament. But G looked at me and shrugged, as if to say, “What can we do?”

This is when I wanted to cry. All our effort for our first dinner party, and we’re dining, not with our friends, but with our housemates? The same ones who have found multiple, passive aggressive ways to make me feel like, well, Yoko Ono honing in on the Beatles?

In the corner of the dining room, there was a small oak hutch. It belonged to Stan, an heirloom from his grandmother. The cabinet was empty as Stan didn’t want to use it and run the risk of one of us damaging it by opening and closing its doors repeatedly.  I found myself wanting to crawl inside the little hutch, to escape and be alone in my gloom, away from this dilapidated house, amid demons that had it in for me.

Instead, I ignored Stan. So much for the best-laid plans. This is not what I expected or wanted, and it was all I could do to hold back my tears. As I finished making the chocolate peanut butter pie, pouring the batter into the graham cracker crust, Stan noticed the dessert for the first time.

He grabbed the recipe that I had cut out from the magazine, which called for peanut butter, melted chocolate and, yes, whipped topping, an item that would never have been found in Stan’s side of the fridge. He read the list of ingredients, then looked at the dessert.  Shaking his head in disbelief, he said curtly,

“You’ve got to be kidding! There’s no way we’re eating that tonight. No way! “ He looked at G, hoping for support, but, thankfully, got none.

There was only one step left to preparing the dessert. It needed to be chilled for an hour so that the chocolate peanut butter concoction could set.  I looked at the dessert. It had turned out beautifully, with a smooth, finished look. I could smell the chocolate and the peanut butter mixed together. I had licked the spatula and found the combination of ingredients perfect. Just enough sweetness. This was one of my favorite desserts, which I had lovingly prepared for friends who were no longer coming.

I grabbed the chocolate peanut butter pie and, lifting it high over my head, smashed it on the kitchen floor. It landed inches from Stan’s feet, splattering chocolate on his shoes and jeans.


As I ran to my room, I felt the tears burn my cheeks, and it felt good.