Aging Has Its Advantages: August 2021

I recently hit that golden plateau – you know the big 6-0! Even though the awareness that I likely have between 20- to 30-years left on planet earth freaked me out a bit, I have since adopted the “Emperor Wears News Clothes” approach to life and am boldly moving into the last third of my life.

So, what does that mean in lay person’s terms? As Rhett Butler once uttered, “Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn!”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m, not hell bent on wreaking havoc upon humanity, but I have come to realize that aging does has its advantages, and that older people can get away with a lot more than when we were younger.

Let’s start with senior discounts. There are a vast array available at retailers everywhere. That said, they all have different age parameters, some start at 55, some 60, some 62, etc. Since it is often confusing who offers which discount (and as I realize to younger people think EVERYONE over 30 looks cadaverous), I simply say “senior discount.”

Haven’t been questioned once. This works particularly well at movie theaters and with online ticket purchases (face it, most of the people working at theaters look like they’re 12-years-old and I likely remind them of “gramps”).


Door opening. I am still big on opening doors for people, but lately I’ve been having doors opened for moi: “After you sir…” At first, I was like, “Is this akin to being called ‘Sweetie’ or ‘Dear’?” Then, I thought, “Who cares?” It is nice that after all those decades of gentlemanly door-opening that folks now think enough of the lines on my face to open a door or two for me.

Airport lines. I have gotten really ballsy with this one since I was told if you give the airline check-in person one of those sweet, little-old smiles, they don’t seem to mind if you board with group “2” rather than the “7” you’re really in. This works particularly well if you use the Puss in Boots sad face from “Shrek” or force a limp.

Attire. Remember how you were told never to wear white after Labor Day (or is it Memorial Day)? As we age, all bets are off. Now, you can dress as you please. Feel free to pair those camo shorts with the striped Ben Sherman pocket shirt. 

Disneyland. I don’t necessarily recommend this one as Disneyland is pretty adept to ensuring everyone receives equal treatment, however the point of our recent trek to Anaheim was to get on the “Star Wars – Rise of the Resistance” ride (which btw is beyond AWESOME!). As it is so popular, it is one of the few rides at Disneyland where you get in an automated queue via Disney’s app. After a few attempts, we were put in boarding queue 210 which had an estimated entry time of 4 p.m. I excitedly checked the app throughout the afternoon and at 2:30, the ride broke down, re-opening sometime thereafter. Suddenly our 4 p.m. entry became 5, then 6:30, 7 and finally 8:15.

We debated staying as the park closed at 9 and there was no guarantee we’d get on, but I was bound and determined to be attacked by storm troopers and see those light sabers cutting through ceilings. We ate dinner early and then meandered over to Star Wars land.

My spouse said, “Lemme see if we can get on sooner.” He went up to a seasoned park employee, pointed to the phone app and said “This is unacceptable. Can’t we get on sooner?”

Wrong approach.

I implored him to try again with another employee. This time he picked someone younger, a person who could perhaps be his grandson (get where this is going?). Then he uttered the magic words only an old person could use….

“We’ve waited all day and it is getting dark – my friend can’t drive at night” (which is kinda true at this point as I am not that comfortable driving after dusk).

Bingo. It was as if someone said “Shazam” and we quickly found ourselves squirreled through a secret entrance to the front of the ride’s line.

Now, I do not recommend doing the aforementioned activities if you are somewhat timid, prone to heavy perspiration or could not possibly consider doing anything other than what is the 100% honest and proper thing to do.

That said, if you’re like me, you’ve spent most of your life following 100% of the rules, and you’ll also likely be dead in a few decades. It may be time to loosen the reins on that oh-so-moral life we are told we must live.

You see how this mindset shift can be so freeing? So liberating?

I see how these little extra-curricular activities might be a gateway drug, next could be lying about my age, shoplifting, even bank robbery.

Well, those are all things to consider, but I am not too concerned. A lot of folks tell me at this age they feel “invisible” and I won’t dispute that. I’m just saying, we may as well take advantage of what we can. I’m all for having fun, and heck, if it doesn’t hurt me or anyone else, why not color outside of the lines a bit as you see, aging does have its advantages.

And with that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”

Massive Marilyn Moons Museum: July 2021

Anyone who lives in Palm Springs knows the most divisive debate taking place over recent months was not whether to mask or not, but rather where to place — or where not to place — the iconic Marilyn Monroe statue, “Forever Marilyn,” as she makes her triumphant return to the desert.

This towering 26-foot sculpture first made its way to Palm Springs in 2012. Marilyn seemed right at home in our happy little hamlet. Locals and tourists flocked to Palm Canyon Drive, looking for an opportunity to be photographed amidst one of the most renowned scenes in film history – you know “The Seven Year Itch” where Marilyn’s skirt floats up as she stands over a subway grate: “Isn’t it delicious!” (Her words, not mine.)

Adults and children making their mecca to the monument, marveled alike. Marilyn’s platinum coif shimmered like swirled ice cream; her parted lips, the color of fresh cherries; the infamous cream-colored dress sculpted ever so delicately despite the fact it is made out of steel. And, then those panties floating blithely over our heads.

During Marilyn’s inaugural reign, I noticed two distinct photos on everyone’s list: Shot #1, standing in front of the statue, sometimes mimicking the pose (works better if you’re a woman or a man in drag), always smiling. They then quickly moved onto Shot #2 – standing between Marilyn’s legs, some even pointing up, always laughing by now.

“Forever Marilyn” had and has an amazing power to bring joy to people. That no one can debate. However now that she returns, we have found plenty to talk about.

Mainly, her new home will position her in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum — her posterior poised directly toward the entrance.

Yes, Marilyn will be mooning the museum – for at least the next few years.

This placement and positioning has been at the center of the Marilyn debate. There have been petitions, protests, even lawsuits over attempts to prevent Marilyn from taking residency at her new home. None has prevailed.

Seems everyone has gotten their panties in a bunch over Marilyn. Buy why this time?

First, the #Me Too Movement has rightfully changed a lot of misogynistic mentalities. Second, the location fronting the museum (which btw, Marilyn is well over a block away from the museum entrance, so it’s not like a big affront). We’re even hearing comments: “Do we want our children exposed to Marilyn’s panties!!!!!”

Have you seen what your kids watch on TV? Caught any music videos lately? Been to bar on a Saturday night? “Forever Marilyn” seems quite tame in comparison to those, and let’s not forget, Marilyn built her legacy upon sex appeal; she was quite adept at using this tool to her benefit.

Beauty and art are in the eye of the beholder. As I type these words, there is a ’68 Chevy Malibu suspended over a pit of water outside the above-mentioned museum, and then there are the alien babies climbing the walls nearby (I hope they don’t climb up Marilyn’s skirt!). Let’s not forget all the purple, orange and lime green architectural touches which dot our fair city.

I say, ban ‘em all! After all, Palm Springs is a cultured resort town, not a tacky Atlantic City boardwalk. We can’t have our drawers showing!

That said, Marilyn’s return to the city and the surrounding bruhaha has garnered Palm Springs international attention, which ain’t bad for our economy.

Marilyn creates a big tourist draw and that means jobs for locals (I was surprised when I saw a local shop owner being the most vocal about Marilyn’s placement. Just who does she think purchases her day glo fashions?).

I digress and don’t get me started. I realized when I moved to a resort/retirement community, I might encounter a different communal mindset. That said, with all that’s going on in the world – is it necessary to get so vehement over a piece of metal?

I say, “Relax!” It’s just a statue. It is iconic. It is something that brings joy to people. Isn’t that something to be applauded not looked upon with disdain?

I never thought I’d welcome the often incessant “coyote alert” updates, but I prefer that noise over the calamitous comments from the “Move Marilyn” minions.

Welcome home Marilyn.

Like a Vacation, Only Different: June 2021

Thinking of taking a vacation? Think again. You may find yourself needing a vacation from that vacation as I recently discovered after taking flight to The Land of Enchantment, a.k.a. New Mexico.

I believe this year, trips will be like vacations – only different (am I the only one who loathes this phrase?).

Like many during the pandemic, I had been in possession of some un-booked flight credits that were set to expire. We had been planning a May cruise to Alaska but when those plans got docked, we thought a trip to the southwest might make for a nice, relaxing substitute.

It was so, but not entirely, and please don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those people who whines at every little thing while traveling, in fact I’ve been told, I am fairly easy to travel with.

That said, we arrived at Burbank International Airport early one recent Saturday morning. Anyone who travels out of Burbank knows Lots A and C are the long-term parking areas that are the most reasonable in price. When we arrived we discovered they were both closed and had been since the pandemic started (this was our first trip out of Burbank since 2019).

We scrambled to find an open lot with the clock ticking away to our departure time. The other longer-term lots were all full and the only alternatives were the $32 a day short-term lot and valet (which actually would have been cheaper, but they had no prices listed, so I said “na-ah”).

We finally found a spot on the roof of the short-term lot and made our way to the gate. On the flight, a woman sitting across me began coughing profusely. She then proceeded to remove her mask as she hacked up a lung. WWHHAATT?  I asked, “Can you please put on your mask?” to which she complied.

Now, I am fully vaccinated and had my mask on tight as a drum, so I wasn’t too concerned. I was wrong. Two days into our trip, I developed a sore throat which after a few days turned into some sort of bug (not THAT bug). Thank you to the lady who was selfish enough to travel while sick and then take off your mask to infect fellow passengers.

We arrived in Albuquerque and had a hotel booked near Old Town Plaza. I figured we could walk there and grab a bite. I was wrong. The map on the hotel web site was a bit deceiving, so we had to drive. As we strolled upon the Plaza at 5:30 on a Saturday evening, we discovered… everything was closed! That’s right, “Cerrado” signs were strewn across the plaza like Mexican Papel Picado doilies.

We finally found a pseudo-Southwest restaurant in a hotel. It had the best tortilla chips ever. (We had a 45 minute wait for a table, and then nearly as long to get dinner, so I had plenty of time to enjoy them.)

We wanted to visit Acoma Pueblo – “The Sky City.” I was looking to book a reservation for a walking tour and called before departure as I couldn’t find a “buy tickets” button on the web site. “I’m sorry, the Reservation is closed, be safe,” was the response.  I went back to the web site and scrolled all the way down to the bottom of the very bottom and there it said: “Acoma is closed due to COVID.” Good thing I called as who scrolls to the bottom of a web page?

We instead spent the day hiking in Cebolla Wilderness Preserve near Grants City. It was amazing, beautiful and had very few visitors. We hiked on lava beds, which was like walking on broken ceramic, and saw the stunning “La Ventana” arch.

Our trek then led us to Santa Fe – it stormed hard on our drive and was cold (is this May weather?). We had a nice hotel room and wanting a true southwest meal, called a place called “The Shed.” “We are not taking reservations, but have a wait list and may be able to seat you around 8:30 or 9 p.m.” There weren’t many restaurants open on our Monday arrival date, so we left our names, and yup, they sat us at 8:45 next to the most obnoxious drunk, foul-mouthed sorority sisters I had ever encountered. They took turns laughing, cursing and then crying and hugging – seriously.

After 20 minutes of their histrionics, I asked the waiter to quiet them down and was told he couldn’t do anything about it. I then proceeded to ask them to pipe down myself, and the manager came to our table and shared: “If there is a problem, please notify me rather than put yourself in a situation.”

Alrighty then.

Actually though, the food was amazing and it was so good in fact that we ate there a second time. The second night was incredible and it was a relaxed, calm vibe, nothing like the Linda Blair sisters we had previously encountered.

We made it up to Taos with the knowledge the Pueblo was closed (I discovered this two-thirds of the way down their home page). It was again raining and we tried to sneak around the Pueblo’s parameter so I could show my spouse the beautiful adobe homes which Taos is known for.

No such luck. We headed to Taos Plaza and stopped by a diner to get a cup of coffee. While waiting in line to enter, the power went out. “We’re closing the diner in 10 minutes if the power doesn’t come back on by then.” It didn’t.

Are you sensing a pattern? I certainly was at this point.

We found some cool stores on the Plaza made famous in the film “Billy Jack” (I know, I’m dating myself), then headed back to Santa Fe where we visited “Meow Wolf,” an immersive art experience which is kind of like being in a modern art museum, only you are in the art. Really difficult to describe, but once you walk into the refrigerator of one of the set pieces, all will be revealed! Total time warp and amazingly fun.

I had been to Santa Fe about 35 years ago, so I was excited to show my spouse the town, and once the rain dried up, we had one glorious day of true southwest beauty. The Loretto Chapel brought me to tears (as it did in the past) and the Plaza came to life as fellow tourists ditched ponchos and umbrellas for shorts and t-shirts.

For our last dinner, we made reservations at a southwest restaurant which had been featured on one of those “diners and drive in places” on TV. You guessed it, we had to wait 15 minutes before the host even acknowledged us. It appeared there were only two waiters working the dining room, and I realized, some of the places we visited may not be back to the staffing levels they once had. Combine that with reduced capacity seating and you have a recipe for the stews we found ourselves in.

Although our post-COVID trip was “weird” (for lack of a better term), upon our return, it definitely felt like I had been on vacation. I felt much more relaxed, calm and content that I had hopped on that plane.

As I look upon the photos on my phone, I realize that it really was a great vacation – only different.

And, with that I end this as “Poolside from PS.”

Can You Truly Achieve All Your Goals?: May 2021

The other evening while savoring a tasty Buffalo chicken sandwich at a Palm Springs eatery, I experienced an epiphany as I gazed out upon a burnt orange and red sunset – I realized that I had pretty much achieved all my goals in life.

Then, as quick as that, a lightning bolt came crashing down upon my euphoria – “So, now what?”

Don’t get me wrong, I am BEYOND grateful for everything I’ve been blessed with, but as I near my sixth decade occupying real estate upon this planet, I find myself pondering: “What of the future?”

How does one reconcile a beauteous past in context of the years to come?

Hmmmm, pause for consideration.

When I graduated from college almost 40 years ago, I had one ambition – to become a writer and earn an annual salary of $35k. That was such a lofty goal at the time – back then $35,000 a year was a lot of money.

Little did I realize that over the years my modest goal would expand far beyond what I could imagine. Then, I was living in a converted garage and earned $600 a month – before taxes!

As my writing skills improved, my housing, salary, knowledge and goals grew. By the time I was 26, I was a supervisor at a newspaper; by 27, I had purchased a condo using money I cash-advanced from a credit card. I didn’t see myself as particularly ambitious, only that there were things that needed to be done, and that I may as well be the one to do them.

By my mid-thirties I was in a job that allowed me to travel all over the country. This was fantastic as I had never really traveled much, so I relished the opportunity of jaunts to Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and the like.

My taste for travel soon became a thirst, and it quickly oozed beyond this continent. Europe, Asia, Australia, these were all places where I traveled to find that no matter where you go, human beings are intrinsically all the same.

Each time I returned, I was greeted by homes which were far grander than that first converted garage.

Over the years, I was continuously drawn to Palm Springs, it was and is the only place on the planet where I feel truly at peace. In thinking of retirement, I knew this was the place where I’d end up.

My final job before retirement was like a dream come true – I call it the cherry on the top of my life’s sundae. I ran a department, was part of the executive management team and had always been good at saving, so I was able to retire at age 57.

You ask, “Why quit your dream job when you’d finally reached your career goal?” You see for 35 years, as great as most of it all was, I had this nagging ambition in the back of my head – I wanted to write a novel. Like the other goals, I was not going to be satiated until I added “novelist” to my resume.

So, I quit, packed up and moved full-time to Palm Springs.

Amidst this, I found myself in a relationship which seemed destined for the altar. After a few years, I was able to add “married” to my list of accomplishments, and as my spouse still works, we travel back and forth between Los Angeles and the desert.

Palm Springs is a fantastic place to write and there is so much serenity here, so easing into the rhythm of creative writing came easily. Late last year, I published “Coconut,” the novel that had been held captive in my brain for all too many decades.

And, that is how I came to sit upon a bar stool realizing that, yup, I had pretty much achieved the goals in life I sought out to accomplish.

I now find myself in a quandary. I am starting a second novel, but I don’t feel the same pressure complete it, so some days and weeks, I simply “float.”

“Floating” is a fun activity, but also very dangerous. Some days I can’t recall if I’ve tied my shoelaces. But that’s o.k., for too many decades, I pressured myself to achieve – rising at 5:15 a.m. daily and putting my pen down long after the sun had set. The other day in a line at Walmart, I was talking with a retired couple. I said, “How did we do that work routine for all those years?” The wife responded, “You had to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. There wasn’t time for those types of questions.”

That was quite true.

We are supposed to go to Egypt next year and I am excited about the prospect of getting back out into the world.  It seems there is still much to do, so I have adopted the philosophy of “Just Doing It” rather than having set goals.

At this point in life, I’m o.k. with being “goal-less” and find I can still accomplish things; they just don’t have to be as defined as in the past. After decade upon decade of goal-checking, it’s a bit of a relief just to be. Yes, “being” is just fine by me.

And, with that I end as “Poolside from PS.”

The COVID Comedy: April 2021

Over the course of the pandemic, I have been careful to avoid over-referencing the obvious – that being the COVID pandemic has wrecked havoc over every one of our lives for the past year.

Now that more and more of us are being vaccinated and we are beginning to see the forest through the trees, the light at the end of the tunnel, the caboose at the end of the train, in the search for a quick ending to this overly long and dramatic bad movie, I’ve discovered some aspects of amusement, even humor, albeit a comedy of errors.

Once the first vaccine had been approved, it was as though everything changed over night. We suddenly saw a glimpse of a future where the endless litany of death and despair might at some point end. This was followed quickly by the question?

“When can I get my shot?”

The state of California quickly laid out the framework for vaccinations – seniors, essential workers, first responders and the like, move to the front of the line. Behind them followed a succession of groups such as 1A, 1B, 2A, too-long-before-they-get-to-my-group.

The internet quickly flooded with self-proclaimed “vax hunters” who would haunt vaccination locales like zombies, hoping to hear “We can handle two additional people.” We heard dramatic stories of hospitals whose freezers had defrosted, calling out in the middle of like carnival barkers: “Vaccinations, vaccinations, come and get your vaccinations.”

To counter this, we had and continue to have the “anti-vaxers” proclaiming: “Sheeples, the vaccine was created by little purple people from Mars who are intent on gaining control of your minds.” Good one, yeah — almost as good as shooting bleach into your body.

 To counter this unfounded fear of the vaccine, doctors from UC Davis created a parody of a Hamilton hit, “I’m Not Throwing Away My Shot.” It’s pretty humorous but makes its point quite clearly. Seeing the faces of those doctors singing, I am amazed at the fortitude of the human spirit to turn so much pain into a positive.

Americans have always been adaptable, but within weeks, it was evident how quickly we were ready to move on with our lives. The lines that once filled Dodgers Stadium for COVID tests, were quickly replaced by those waiting to get their first shot of vaccine.

My friend who is COVID-obsessed (you know the ones who spend all day stalking the internet for COVID tidbits) and I made a pact. “If you hear of a place giving out extra vaccines, call me immediately!” was the agreement we settled upon.

I remember when the vaccine first made its way to Palm Springs, it was like something out of a sci fi flick. People in disposable white suits lifted off the pages of the “Andromeda Strain” began shooting little old people in the arms.

 And, they lived!

Conversations soon became code: “Which did you get? The ‘P’, ‘M,’ or ‘J&J’?”  I always want to respond, “I got the P&J on white bread.”

Over the past weeks there has been greater access to the vaccine, so the state expanded criteria to 16-64 with health conditions – no questions asked. I was always a big fan of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, so I see this as yet another opportunity for those who have decided “enough is enough,” as we’ve seen there are still a fair number of those who don’t see the need to get vaccinated. Fine more for me!

Since the P and M are two-shot doses, for those of you who like surprise endings, here’s a spoiler alert – don’t read on if you want a surprise that could happen after shot #2.

I had heard that most folks took the first shot reasonably well, but there was a fair chance that you could get a reaction from shot #2.

Who? Moi? I exercise six days a week, it couldn’t possible affect me.

Imagine my surprise when I work up the night after my second shot, teeth chattering, thirsty as a desert dog and walking into walls. My chills were so bad that three blankets and a robe did little to dissipate my fever. Oh, and don’t forget the aches. My bones felt like I was 90-years-old.

The next day, I googled “vaccine side-effects” and saw, yes, these were common. The good news I also read, was it was a sign the vaccine was doing its job and working its way through my system.

Well, that’s a relief.

Since that shot, I have recovered quite nicely, and had one really emotional evening. I cried profusely realizing with great gratitude that my loved ones (who all now have had at least one shot) and I had survived the worst of this gawd-awful pandemic. I realized how each and every human being on this planet suffered one of the worst years imaginable, and it is very humbling that a microscopic spiked ball could bring the world to its knees.

Coming out the other end, I find myself increasingly optimistic about our future and frequently hum that Gloria Gaynor anthem: “I Will Survive.”

Now, if I could stop having those dreams about little purple people sticking probes in my ears, I would be just fine.

And with that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”

March 2021: The Ring

For those desiring to remember something frightening, this story is not about that wacky Japanese horror flick featuring a ghost with bad hair, but rather about a ring that goes on your finger.

Understanding that life in the desert comes with perennially dry hands, the other day while cleaning the kitchen I casually slipped off my wedding band and not-so-casually snapped on my yellow rubber gloves to avoid further chapping of my already battered fingers (ah, the arid desert). I placed the ring in one of the usual spots I’ve designated when doing kitchen stuff.

A while later, while watching the proclaimed worst film ever – “Plan Nine From Outer Space” – I subconsciously found myself rubbing my left land, fourth finger. Forgetting my earlier cleaning session, panic immediately shot through my hand and head – “Where was my wedding ring?”

To some of you, this may be familiar territory, those feelings of panic, cold sweat and dread that accompany the concept that perhaps you lost your wedding ring – forever destined to a future of blame and “How could you take IT off.”

Understand, I am 59.5 years old and up until last summer, I had never been married. I am not much into jewelry either, and as such, was not accustomed to having a noose, I mean a band, around that finger – or any other.

After two really long-term relationships that had different endings (both not-so-happy), I had resigned myself to a wed-less future. Truth be told, I really wasn’t that sad about it.

Until I met the Cuban.

After three years of dating it became clear – I wanted to be married! I didn’t need to be married, but somehow in this situation and at that time, I actually WANTED to be married. It wasn’t that I had this fantasy of walking down a rosebud-petaled path to the sounds of Vivaldi and the sight of teary-eyed loved ones, but rather simply that it felt right.

That’s right, there is no other way to explain it other than it felt right.

Three days before Valentine’s Day 2020 (I never do things when I’m supposed to), my future husband was in the kitchen preparing his lunch for work the next day (you know back when people actually drove off to work). All of a sudden, I knew it was now or never. “Can I ask you something?” I said as he cooked something over the stove.

“Yes?” he responded while stirring.

“Will you marry me?” the words shot out and I began to tear up.

“Wait, let me turn off the stove,” he said. (I know, so romantic!)

You can fill in the blanks with the kisses, hugs and “Wow, this is really happening” exclamations, but I suspected “yes” would be the answer and I knew this was the appropriate time to ask, not mushy old Valentine’s Day.

Unbeknownst to us, the months to follow would be met with the cloak of COVID, and my dreams of a large, beautiful wedding, eventually winnowed to a gathering of 15 masked family members and friends outside during one of the hottest days of July.

That didn’t matter. It was the loveliest day of my life.

So, snapping back to my dilemma, you can imagine how I felt when I could not feel that band of carbon and titanium enshrouded upon my finger.

I calmed myself and walked into the kitchen, easily finding my ring.

I had no idea that a ring could create such a presence in a person’s life, but now that I’m married, I get it. At times I absentmindedly find myself rubbing that metal band and it reminds me what has changed in my life. I treasure that thing, just as I treasure my spouse.

And now that another Valentine’s Day has passed and I realize that soon we will celebrate our first anniversary, that band holds tighter and symbolizes us together.

The ring is something that now reminds me that I am loved, and after some not-so-grand Valentine’s Days, I now understand that sometimes it can take almost a lifetime of “things” before you get to the “right thing.”

And with that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”

PS Posts

Things I’ve Learned About Palm Springs: February 2020

As I approach my second anniversary of living full time in Palm Springs, I would like to share the top 10 things I have discovered about my little hot hamlet (in no particular order).

  • A combination of vinegar and Dawn (half and half, google for full directions) can solve many of the world’s ills. Palm Springs is infamous for its hard water which leaves annoying calcium residue everywhere (showers, coffee pots, the pet dog). A good soaking or spray makes the chalky mess disappear like magic — I’m convinced every local knows the formula.
  • Avoid grocery shopping from Friday through Sunday afternoon as that is when the “weekenders” are in town. Things move at a different pace in the desert, and lest you want to get sideswiped by a frantic shopping cart filled with lemon mineral water and bottles of Beaujolais, it’s best to avoid supermarkets during those peak times.
  • Speaking of weekenders… If you are considering moving here, understand the town looks quite “different” on week days then it does on weekends. When I was a weekender, I used to love to people watch all the beautiful, bodacious bods. Now I wonder at times if I moved to a geriatric ward.
  • July is my favorite month as the city takes on the appearance of a ghost town and it’s beautiful! Yes, it is hot, but remember, it’s a dry heat. August is my least favorite as we get the overflow monsoons from out Arizona way which bring a thick, soupy humidity accompanied by the smells of sulfur and rotting fish from the Salton Sea.
  • There seems to be this preoccupation with coyotes roaming the streets in search of small cats, dogs and children. At certain times, Nextdoor.com lights up with rashes of coyote sightings, oftentimes accompanied by photos and warnings of how they can scale 8-foot walls. “Bring in your babies!” the warnings taut.
  • People ask me, “How can you live in that inferno?” I simply respond: “Do you stay outside all day in [fill in name of home city here]?” Well, it’s no different out here, you simply develop a routine of either doing outdoor things early in the mornings or in the evenings (which are really beautiful).
  • At times you feel like you are living in a national park. Since the COVID invasion, I have taken up hiking and have learned that there is nothing that clears your head better than standing on top of a mountain. It really helps to put things in perspective, and to be able to witness the stunning vistas the Coachella Valley offers and the surrounding natural beauty is truly a gift.
  • People are very particular about their neighborhoods here. When I first moved I was asked by someone: “Where do you live?” I responded, “Movie Colony.” He then retorted, “East or West?” Really? I have since schooled myself on all the neighborhoods as they seem to hold the keys to some sort of secret social society. Hmmm, let’s see, we have Twin Palms, Sunrise Park, Demuth Park, Indian Wells; the list goes on and on.
  • That road-rager you just encountered may simply be, well, old. A few months after my arrival, I was turning into the Ralphs parking lot on Sunrise Way. Suddenly a rather large, sedan veered past me and came to a screeching stop in front of me. “Am I getting car-jacked?” I wondered. I waited a minute and the car didn’t move, nor could I see anyone in the driver’s seat. I finally decided to drive around the vehicle, and peering in, I saw a rather small old man who could barely see over the dashboard. He flashed a weak smile as if to say, “sorry”.
  • I did save my favorite for last – Palm Springs has great healing powers. I learned this when I first visited 30+ years ago and I still feel it today. There is a great sense of peace, calm and wonder here, and I am grateful each day that a dream I had carried throughout my entire working life came true. I see weekenders, once like me, come and marvel at the same beauty, and each morning, I walk my dog and peer upon the magnificent San Jacinto’s. I take in a deep breath and know all is right with the world.

And, with that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”

Things I’ve Learned About Palm Springs

As I approach my second anniversary of living full time in Palm Springs, I would like to share the top 10 things I have discovered about my little hot hamlet (in no particular order).

  • A combination of vinegar and Dawn (half and half, google for full directions) can solve many of the world’s ills. Palm Springs is infamous for its hard water which leaves annoying calcium residue everywhere (showers, coffee pots, the pet dog). A good soaking or spray makes the chalky mess disappear like magic — I’m convinced every local knows the formula.
  • Avoid grocery shopping from Friday through Sunday afternoon as that is when the “weekenders” are in town. Things move at a different pace in the desert, and lest you want to get sideswiped by a frantic shopping cart filled with lemon mineral water and bottles of Beaujolais, it’s best to avoid supermarkets during those peak times.
  • Speaking of weekenders… If you are considering moving here, understand the town looks quite “different” on week days then it does on weekends. When I was a weekender, I used to love to people watch all the beautiful, bodacious bods. Now I wonder at times if I moved to a geriatric ward.
  • July is my favorite month as the city takes on the appearance of a ghost town and it’s beautiful! Yes, it is hot, but remember, it’s a dry heat. August is my least favorite as we get the overflow monsoons from out Arizona way which bring a thick, soupy humidity accompanied by the smells of sulfur and rotting fish from the Salton Sea.
  • There seems to be this preoccupation with coyotes roaming the streets in search of small dogs, cats and children. At certain times, Nextdoor.com lights up with rashes of coyote sightings, oftentimes accompanied by photos and warnings of how they can scale 8-foot walls. “Bring in your babies!” the warnings taut.
  • People ask me, “How can you live in that inferno?” I simply respond: “Do you stay outside all day in [fill in name of home city here]?” Well, it’s no different out here, you simply develop a routine of either doing outdoor things early in the mornings or in the evenings (which are really beautiful).
  • From April through September, carrying water everywhere is a must. Last year, I took a bike ride without water or my wallet. It got exceptionally warm and I got a flat tire. While walking my bike home, it was so hot I started getting dizzy. Fortunately, I found respite with water and at tree at Ruth Hardy Park.
  • People are very particular about their neighborhoods here. When I first moved I was asked by someone: “Where do you live?” I responded, “Movie Colony.” He then retorted, “East or West?” Really? I have since schooled myself on all the neighborhoods as they seem to hold the keys to some sort of secret social society. Hmmm, let’s see, we have Twin Palms, Sunrise Park, Demuth Park, Indian Wells; the list goes on and on.
  • That road-rager you just encountered may simply be, well, old. A few months after my arrival, I was turning into the Ralphs parking lot on Sunrise Way. Suddenly a rather large, sedan veered past me and came to a screeching stop in front of me. “Am I getting car-jacked?” I wondered. I waited a minute and the car didn’t move, nor could I see anyone in the driver’s seat. I finally decided to drive around the vehicle, and peering in, I saw a rather small old man who could barely see over the dashboard. He flashed a weak smile as if to say, “sorry”.
  • I did save my favorite for last – Palm Springs has great healing powers. I learned this when I first visited 30+ years ago and I still feel it today. There is a great sense of peace, calm and wonder here, and I am grateful each day that a dream I had carried throughout my entire working life came true. I see weekenders, once like me, come and marvel at the same beauty, and each morning, I walk my dog and peer upon the magnificent San Jacinto’s. I take in a deep breath and know all is right with the world.

And, with that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”

December 2020: So You Wanna Be a Writer?

For as far back as I can remember, writing has been part of me. I penned my first short story when I was 8-years-old. It was called “Paperback” and it was about a boy in a wheelchair. My mom kept these early scribblings in a piano bench. One day she handed me a manila envelope stuffed with my early musings, and it made me smile: “What kind of kid..?”

Writing wasn’t something I gave much thought to, it was just something that I always did. Kind of like brushing your teeth or combing your hair.

The reason I now write about writing is that in January, I will release my first novel, “Coconut” Brown on the Outside, White on the Inside, which details the experiences of a Mexican-American family living in the San Fernando Valley during the 1960’s and 1970’s. It’s a bit autobiographical, but colored by broad strokes of fiction. I am excited about its debut as I first conceived of the novel when I was in my twenties. I let it gestate for 25 years before pulling it out of my head and putting it to paper.

Its completion is kind of like finally extricating an annoying little piece of steak that’s been stuck between your tooth and gum after long struggling to remove it. (Well, o.k. maybe not exactly like that, but kinda.)

Over the years I continually mulled over questions: What would “Coconut’s” characters be like? What would their behaviors be? What was I planning to accomplish by writing a novel?

As a backdrop to this “a-mull-ment,” understand that I have always loved words and English always came easy to me. In school, I could unfurl an essay as quickly as rolling out a yoga mat. I was a big fan of words, some would say “fancy” ones, but once you understand the difference between “vacillate” and “procrastinate,” it is clear how important the correct use of a word is.

I also ponder terms like “tuna fish.” It’s clear the use of “fish” is redundant, so why include it? And, don’t even get me started on the use of serial commas as it caused many a battle for me throughout my career (for the record, I do not put a comma after the “and,” in the last of a series).

Books are also an important part of the equation. When I was in grade school, I would read at least a book a week outside of class work. I loved to be taken to places beyond the realm of my existence. When I began working, the eventual long hours zapped all my concentration for things like trying to get through a book. Now, that I am “retired” I am returning to my love of reading, but I temper it with other things.

So how did I get to the point of novel preparedness?

After writing professionally for 35 years, two years ago I realized I had gotten to the point of “it’s now or never.” So I “retired.”

This new goal was frightening and daunting. Professionally, I knew business writing like nobody’s business, however fiction was a whole other ball game.

I have spent the last two years educating myself on novels and the book publishing business. It has indeed been a whole other ball game.

That said, “Coconut” finally found its way from my brain to a printer’s press. The other day my author’s copies arrived. I tore through the boxes like it was Christmas morning, and I looked at the cover and saw the image I had first envisioned so many years ago.

Now, with “Coconut’s” release, I suddenly feel quite vulnerable. What will readers think? What if I get negative reviews? What if no one reads it?

At this point, these things are not mine to decide, but I have to admit when I was proofing the galleys, a few chapters made me tear up. My hope is that others have the same reaction to the fruits of my journey which began all so long ago.

And, with that, I end this as “Poolside from PS.”

Coconut: Reviews

Review: Carlos B. Gil, Educator and Author of “We Became Mexican American: How Our Immigrant Family Survived to Pursue the American Dream.”

“The main reason I like this book is that the author drives the plot to a critical point, one that all of us Latinos can appreciate, one way or another (or Americans of recent immigrant origin). We don’t have to be college bred to recognize it. 

I’m referring to the conflicted inner voice the (characters) all hear with varying degrees of intensity. This is the voice that whispers to us Latinos regarding our identity about how we see ourselves and how we think others see us. How American do we look if we’re dark skinned and confronting a white American for the first time? We all face this moment.

The intensity of this voice varies according to the generation and the class we belong to, among other factors, in a family that still remembers its immigrant pioneers….” 

Review: Grant Leishman, Readers’ Favorite

“Coconut”: Brown on the Outside, White on the Inside by Manuel Padilla Jr. is the story of the Rodrigo family, a middle-class Mexican/American family living in the San Fernando Valley and having to deal with the prejudice and racism inherent in the color of their skin, despite their having lived in America and been citizens since the early 1900s. The question so many American citizens of Mexican extraction ask is: “Why do we not get the same rights and opportunities as our fellow white citizens?” The bulk of the novel focuses on young Aurelio or “Oree,” as he preferred to be known. Oree is a precocious young man whose first memories are of being taunted by other children because of the color of his skin –  Beaner, Wetback – he’s been called them all and a few more besides. Oree is a gifted child whose intelligence and aptitude for learning are apparent early on. Unfortunately, his family neither understands what a “gifted child” is nor can they afford to send Oree to any special school for gifted kids. Oree succeeds academically the hard way and by the time he readies for high school graduation, he is prepared to not only become the first person in his family to attend and graduate college, but he has his sights set high on the Ivy League school, Columbia University, all the way across the other side of the country. Will the pull of the culture of the family hold him back from fulfilling his dream and his promise?

Coconut is fascinating because it highlights a civil rights struggle that few of us have probably read about before, that of the Latino community and the prejudice they face, which is similar but also starkly different in many ways to that experienced by African Americans. Author Manuel Padilla Jr. did an excellent job of characterizing the unique family and religious experience of many Latinos that poses both problems but also support structures for young Latinos as they try to improve their lot in society. I particularly liked Oree’s argument about changing the dynamic and objective as each successive generation grew up and went into the world. The author does an excellent job of delving into the family dynamics of the Rodrigos and exposing the cultural and generational differences that occur, plus the anomalies of trying to balance and hold onto the culture left behind in Mexico with the realities of living in a predominantly white Anglo-Saxon world. One could feel, for example, the latent anger in Oree at his parents not teaching him Spanish as a child because they didn’t view that as compatible with being American. This is an easy to read and interesting look at a generational culture shift in Latinos and one I can definitely recommend.