Get Those Kids Back to Their Parents!

San Diego’s judiciary is not sitting on its hands in the face of Donald Trump’s barbaric attitude (aka “zero tolerance”) toward immigrants and particularly toward separation of young children from their parents.

Who does this?

Here’s the first paragraph from a breaking story this Saturday morning in my fair city:

A San Diego federal judge Friday ordered the Trump administration to produce by 5 p.m. Saturday a list of all children under 5 who have been forcibly separated from their parents at the border.

and more, after waffling by the Feds:

“The judge made it very clear he wasn’t going to allow the Trump administration to drag its feet on reunifying these children with their parents,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.

San Diego is not a perfect place, anymore than any city in the county/world is a perfect place.  There are countless individuals here in it only for the money or their fifteen minutes of fame.  People who don’t give a damn about the immigrants, their kids, or anything but the latest artisanal restaurant or the best tax dodge.

But when someone stands up like this on an important matter, we can only feel a sense of pride and thanks for someone in this city doing the right damned thing and doing it with gusto.  Mucho gusto!

We’re in the middle of a heat wave as I write, but in my book, Judge Dana Sabraw is a very cool, stand-up guy.

No more bull shit!  We don’t give a damn about your excuses. Get those kids back to their parents.



In the Face of Grim Determination, Pelicans!


That’s how I’d describe the looks on the faces of the many joggers, bikers and walkers I met this morning as I ambled along the Sunset Cliffs in San Diego.

It was a gray morning, the kind we get during June Gloom.  By lunchtime, the gloom is usually gone and the familiar blue sky makes an appearance.  Maybe. Maybe not.

But it was warm despite the cool sea breeze blowing in off the Pacific where the waves crash against the base of the increasingly unstable reddish cliffs.  The cliffs and the water are a favorite subject for landscape artists in my fair city and you can hardly throw a stone without hitting a painting of one size or another:  Sunset Cliffs at Dawn, Sunset Cliffs at Sundown, Sunset Cliffs with Boat and, most recently, Sunset Cliffs with Mermaid.

The Mermaid gave me hope not only because I consider myself a Mermaid, but also because a Mermaid on a rock in the sea is not at all grim and she made a lot of people smile before she disappeared.

So back to those grim and determined faces of the joggers, bikers and walkers this morning.

Yes, the sky was gray.  Yes, the breeze was a little bit chilly.  Yes, some of those folks looked like serious competitors in the game of life with their lycra or fleece, their expensive bikes (nobody who’s anybody rides a bike with fat tires and three gears), and their high tech whole body counters that digitize the entire experience.

Gandhi said, “There’s more to life than increasing the speed,” but try telling that to a member of the grim determined.

Me? I run now and then, but not at Sunset Cliffs.  I go for the sea air and the pelicans.  I’ve recently become enamored of these birds and love to watch them soar above the cliffs, sometimes one or two together, sometimes in small flocks of five or six and often in larger formations of a dozen or more.

On land, the brown pelican is not a particularly graceful or well-designed bird, but soaring over the sea, they’re grace personified, or rather grace pelicanified.  In formation, the quiet precision of their wide wings is a sight to see. For some of us.

While I was ambling this morning, the pelicans were flying but nobody seemed to notice.  Grim determination held all the aces.  To suggest that anyone stop and smell the roses is a cliché for the ages, but clichés survive because of the truth they carry. Still, I didn’t venture a suggestion to any of the grim determined.

As I stopped to watch a flock of several pelicans rise from the cliffs and head down the coast, a sluggish jogger across the street yelled at me, “Whatcha lookin’ at?”

He was dressed in neon blue lycra and matching running shoes in which he was working to keep up with a more able companion.  Maybe he was hoping for a reason to stop the game and chat, maybe even sit down on one of the benches and catch his breath.  Maybe he did want to see something more than the pavement in front of him as he struggled with his face set in grim determination.  I couldn’t say.

“Whatcha lookin’ at?”

I didn’t answer.  I was pretty sure pelicans would not be interesting enough for him, but if I had answered, I would have told him, “God. I’m looking at God.”

It would not have been a lie.



Your One and Only Life – Part II

My recent post about living your one and only life despite expectations of family or friends generated a lot of response and some questions that didn’t appear in the Comments.

I’m here today to clarify and expand on a few things about this touchy subject.


I have no intention of denigrating the concept of “family,” but a lot of damage has been done under the rubric of “Families come first.”  No, they don’t always come first and even the Bible makes the point.  “You must leave your father and mother and cleave only to your spouse.”  Clear enough.

And the Bible via the 10 Commandments also says we must honor our fathers and mothers.  Also clear.  The two passages are not mutually exclusive.  Honoring our parents doesn’t mean we have to put them ahead of other people we love. And it definitely doesn’t mean we have to kowtow to demands that conflict with what’s important in our own one and only lives.

Good families who support and celebrate what other members of the family do – or don’t do -, families who believe in choice and offer plenty of leeway for those choices, may often come first, but good parents also know – and celebrate – that their kids have found someone or something to love beyond parents and family.

And grown up kids do the same for their parents.

This celebration makes everyone in the family richer by far, generates genuine love, and greatly improves the appetite at family dinners.

For Your Own Good

This is the “looking out for your best interests” place that drove me to the George Carlin outburst last time.  And I haven’t changed my mind a bit.  “For your own good” and “looking out for your best interests” are code for “I don’t care what you want.  I expect you to do what I want you to do!”

Every damned time.

This code is almost always spoken by  a child or parent who is demanding, selfish, petty, and narcissistic.  And as is the case when dealing with any narcissist, giving in only ups the ante on demands.

If you give in once, you set a pattern that will haunt you for all time to come.  Living your one and only life in the face of such demands requires courage.  You can do this.

Calling in the Reinforcements

I don’t know about your family, but too many families are highly skilled at “calling in the reinforcements” – getting the whole shebang involved when no one at all should be involved.

Mom talks to sisters, aunts get involved, dad “drops by” just to say hello, brother has something to say on the subject, and on it goes to a place it should never have gone in the first place.

I witnessed this years ago in my own family when an aunt was badgered about a choice she’d made to marry a good man who brought her great joy but wasn’t who “the family” thought she should marry.

Leave each other alone, people. Leave each other alone. Or as we say where I live, “Stay in your own lane.”


Interfering or demanding relatives hate boundaries.  For them, it’s all the way, and the child or parent who offers to go part of the way – sets boundaries – is entirely wrong, ungrateful, unloving, spiteful…the list goes on.  See more above under For Your Own Good.

This shows up often in how you spend your time and in things like insistence on attending every damned family event no matter what, with no leeway for your other time commitments or choices.

The world will not fall apart if you can spend only an hour at the big get-together instead of the full two or three.  Good families are happy for the time you can be there.  Not-so-good families insist on more.  And make sure you feel bad for having your own one and only life.

Good families also recognize that we are not all cut from the same cloth, genetics be damned.  The introverts in the family who want to run from big noisy gatherings and long for one-on-one time know this very well. The “let’s all get together” extroverts may never understand it.  And guess who’s “wrong” for not enjoying the big gatherings.

Caveats and Conundrums

Caveat – I’m not a psychologist.  I’ve just lived long enough, observed enough, thought enough, read enough, laughed enough, cried enough, regretted enough, and felt joy enough to get what this subject is about.

Conundrums – Did you ever wonder about parents who apparently lived lives their own way and yet want their children to live some family-prescribed life instead of their own?

Did you ever wonder about parents who were not able to live the lives they wanted and yet put the same onus on their children instead of wishing them – and encouraging – happier lives of their own?

Did you ever wonder about families with nothing better to do than gossip, complain, interfere in each other’s lives instead of leading their own lives and letting everybody else do the same?

Did you ever wonder why so many people lack the courage to follow their own star in the face of family interference?

Did you ever wonder what those people say to themselves in the dark after they say, “I always wanted to…”?


There’s much more that could be said on the subject, but these quotations pretty much sum it up for me.  I’ve had them printed and out where I can see them for a long time, and now they’re yours if you choose:

“To the best of my lights, this is what I choose to do, although I may know more and choose differently tomorrow.”  –  Rollo May

“…Walk around feeling like a leaf.
Know you could tumble any second.
Then decide what to do with your time.” – Naomi Shihab Nye

” Mama may have. And Papa may have. But God bless the child that’s got his own.” – Billie Holiday

For my own part, I say let love return to the Raspberry Mountains where we each get to live our one and only life the way we want.

Where happy carpenters do not have to become doctors to satisfy the family or hear endlessly why they should have.

Where happy artists get to spend their days painting and do not have to fend off comments about what they might have been or how to spend their time.

And where love comes to those who celebrate the happiness of others, respect boundaries and never utter the words, “for your own good” or “in your best interests” unless they can provide written proof.



Writing With Your Funny Bone

For those who don’t know, Miss Fidditch teaches creative writing classes and workshops for adults in her fair city.  One of the writing exercises sometimes involves using current headlines to prompt creative “stories” to go with the headlines.

We did this exercise recently and one student broke the record for triggering laughter in a writing class.  The writer, Jolie Tunnell, agreed to be a guest today with her response.  And here’s what Jolie wrote. The headline is real; the rest of it is pure – and funny – fiction.

“Facebook Confirms Data-Sharing with China Companies”

Breaking news today, as confirmation of yet another data-sharing snafu comes to light for our beloved and beleaguered Facebook.

Facebook representatives divulged at a press conference that – although admitting to sharing with other countries for an undisclosed amount – China in particular had not paid for the personal information of millions world-wide. This was then disputed by a long list of “Comments” below the fold:

 Dear Facebook,

If you didn’t share my data with China, how do you explain the fortune in my cookie yesterday? 

“You will lose your 401K if you continue to invest in wild parties in Vegas.”

Dear Facebook,

I had Chinese take-out last night. My fortune cookie demanded that I “start paying my alimony or misfortune of the worst kind would befall me in bed.”

 Dear Facebook,

My ten year old is always saving her fortune cookie fortunes and sticking them onto her bedroom mirror. The last three include the name of our dog, our collective family income, and an admonition to stop being friends with the neighbors to our left.

Facebook representatives do not appear forthcoming with an answer to these details but the Chinese government is working on a rebuttal that – while not admitting to a monetary exchange – seems to include a reference to workers in a particular fortune cookie factory south of Beijing.

Details to follow.

You can read more of Jolie’s work on her own blog at

You’ll be glad you did…

Who’s Deciding What You Do With Your One and Only Life?

A word of caution, Dear Readers.  This post may very well offend you, not because it contains any of George Carlin’s famous seven words or any x-rated details of anyone’s life, or because it casts aspersions on any race, creed, sex, or color.

This post may offend you because I’m going to talk about the sacrosanct relationship between parents and children.  Especially grown up children.  And among certain family members.

I was reading an article today about a famous poet, a Nobel-prize winner from the last century, and came across this line:  “Because his father wanted him to be a barrister, he enrolled in…”

The line jolted me to my roots.  The subject of parents and children has been floating around my immediate world recently because of some changes in my life.

In the interest of full disclosure, I was once a child and I have been a parent for a number of years.  In other words, I’ve seen this picture from both sides.  And I’ve observed a lot, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, just by looking.  And listening.

Several years ago I had a writing professor who knew what to do when she heard phrases like “His father wanted him to be a barrister…”  One of the other students brought a story in for feedback one day and when we all gave it high praise for its powerful ending, the student shyly admitted that he had almost changed it because his sister didn’t think it was good.  The professor, a small woman, jumped out of her chair, literally, and shouted, “Never show your family your work.  Your family wants to cut off your feet!”

The barrister line brought the same emotion to me today.  Don’t tell your family what you want to do or be unless you’re willing to let them try to cut off your feet!  And try they will.

I mean, really, that barrister line with situational adjustments comes up over and over again in biographies, news stories, essays…who among us has not heard the same laments:

“I wanted to be a dancer, but my folks wanted me to get married and start a family.”

“He wanted to hike the Andes, but his mother didn’t want him to go so far away.”

“I wanted to work with kids, but my dad wouldn’t pay my tuition unless I studied accounting.”

“She wanted to marry the cowboy, but her parents insisted on someone from their social group.”

And it can work just the reverse with children interfering in the hopes and dreams of parents.

“He wanted to move in with the woman he met on the cruise, but his daughters were convinced she was a gold-digger.”

“She met a wonderful man, but her sons complained that he was not in their league.”

And so on.  You’ve heard the stories yourself.  Maybe been a victim in one of them.

So I have to ask once and for all…who gives anyone, anyone at all, permission to run any other person’s one and only life?

Life is difficult enough when strangers, bosses, nosy friends tell us what to do.  But families?  Give me a break.

The only thing families – parents, children, siblings, aunts, uncles, the whole enchilada – need to do is offer congratulations and support – emotional support always, financial support when needed and if possible.

The one thing they should never do is try to cut off your feet.

Your kids want to move across the country, wish them bon voyage and help them pack.  Your brother wants to marry the woman he met on the plane and is ecstatic about, wish him well and buy the wedding cake. Your mom wants to join the circus, pay for lessons in bareback riding.

Oh, I know the fallback line, “We’re only looking out for your best interests.”  For that I do have a couple of George Carlin words that are included in a line from my jazz novel. It’s not polite, but it’s powerful and honest:  “Fuck that shit.”

People who want to look out for our best interests should figure out what we think our best interests are and support them.  And if we make a mistake, so be it.  It’ll be our mistake and not one we made because we’re stumbling around with no feet.

Truly grown-up parents do not think their children owe them anything except to live happy lives themselves.  Truly grown-up children do not think their parents should nurture them forever but should go on to live their own happy lives at any age. Grown-up siblings and other relatives should simply keep their noses and opinions to themselves and be happy for anyone else in the family who can find happiness.

Poet E.E. Cummings said, “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”  But it’s worth the effort.  Let me know how it works for you.