I sat in wonder, on the cool cement floor of our garage, and watched him hammer up the walls with heavy nails. He grew all sweaty and slammed his finger once or twice, but that didn’t stop him. Dad kept going. He hung long light bulbs that were good for making baby seedlings grow, and cut holes in the walls so our plants could breathe. He even put in a door with its very own lock.
Once he finished the room, Dad and I went on a treasure hunt. We shopped garage sales together looking for mirrors. In just one weekend, we collected more than ten different styles –round, long and rectangular, including my absolute favorite: a looking glass with a chunky, gold frame. It reminded me of a burning sun with melting flames. I really wanted to keep this one for my own room, but Dad said we needed all these crazy reflectors to make the lights in our garden work better.
While I watched silently, he explained how important it was to hang each one of them at a forty-five degree angle. “See Princess, this will amplify all the lights we’ve already hung. These mirrors are going to make all the difference in the world.”
In just about two weeks, our father-daughter project was complete.
As the tiny plants pushed their way up, and the pale green stems began to grow curly silver beards between their leaves, an enchanted forest took over our garage. I loved the earthy smell of the sticky, moss colored buds. I liked to squish the little bits of white foam in the soil and listen to the lights buzz overhead. Dad taught me how everything worked. He said I could help check the room temperature and water our crop.
I was also a little afraid. Dad said if I told anyone about our secret garden, the police would throw him and Mom in jail. He said I needed to keep my trap shut…
The Spread Onion
…As I pushed my way through the dense crowd to track down Rachel and Dani, a pair of eyes cut across the room and met my gaze. I stopped at the sight of him. He smiled subtly and let the unspoken connection linger between us until I looked away.
I tried not to stare, but allowed myself to glance briefly in his direction once more, when I was sure he wouldn’t notice. He stood with confidence, a girl hanging on his sculpted arm. Like a star-struck teenager, she tilted her gaze at his curly brown hair, smooth olive skin, and chiseled jawline. I’d watched him too long. I took a breath and forced myself to look elsewhere.
I mentally sized up my competition with confidence. He didn’t seem too interested in his female companion. Perhaps she was just a groupie. As I coasted toward him, Dani found me and yelled in my ear, “Did you see that guy over there?”
“Yes,” I said. “I think he smiled at me.”…
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
My mom was high on cat medicine. It was June 15th, 1997, the day of my college graduation. She’d been suffering from allergies that morning and couldn’t find her pills. She did, however, run across her cat’s prescription. Mom figured she was much heavier than her twelve-pound pet, so she tripled the dose. By the time she reached Los Angeles, she was floating through her own personal universe.
Mom made the two-hour trip with Curtis, Dani, and my sister Julie. Fortunately, Curtis had done the driving. Dani and Julie knocked on my door while Curtis accompanied Mom. I opened my front door and watched her slowly climb our stairs, zigzag over to our couch, and collapse on her back with one of her arms dangling to the floor. “I’m gonna have to stay here, honey. I need to lie down,” she said, her eyes only half open.
“Are you sure, Ma?” I shot Curtis a questioning look and kneeled on the floor to touch her cheek. It was cold.
“Yes, I need a little rest.” Mom said. “God, it’s a good thing I did LSD in the sixties. Otherwise I’d be really freaked out right now.”
“Huh?” I put the back of my hand on her forehead.
“I’ll explain later. You go and have fun. Sorry sweetie, I’m just gonna take a quick nap.” Mom closed her eyes completely. End of conversation.
I was disappointed, but also nervous about my upcoming ceremony. Mom’s dramatic entrance brought a little levity to the situation. Leave it to my family to take a monumental moment and add a dose of humor…
…I parked my car and made my way into the heart of the nearly windowless KCOP building. Sizzling under the glow of florescent lights, the newsroom had its own energy, like a living, breathing untamed animal. Reporters, producers, assistant producers and assistant directors rushed around the main floor of the newsroom as if they were all late for their most important deadline. Phones rang, faxes bleeped, reporters sat in front of little television screens, fast forwarding and rewinding videotapes with inaudible voices screeching like they had sucked in helium balloons.
It was organized chaos at its finest. I already knew this was exactly where I belonged!
A tall bear of a man waved at me from the assignment desk. I rushed across the newsroom and stepped onto the glass-enclosed platform. I figured he must be the assignment editor standing to greet me.
“Hey,” he said when I reached him.
“Hi, you must be Bob. I’m Holly, your new intern.” I extended my hand.
Bob didn’t bother to shake my hand. “Great, take a seat. We’ve got breaking news and I need you to make some calls.”
“Okay.” I felt like a five-year-old strung out on cake and ice cream. Only two minutes into the job, and I already had an important assignment. This was too cool.
Bob handed me a piece of paper. “Dial this number and get the watch commander on the phone. Tell him you’re calling about the shooting at the intersection of Azusa and Amar. Get as much information as you can. I’ve already sent a news crew out in that direction. So just keep dialing until someone picks up. Let me know as soon as you get something.”
“Got it.” I took the piece of paper and looked for the best place to sit. “Azusa and Amar, Azusa and Amar,” I repeated silently in my head so I wouldn’t forget. There were five phones and three empty seats stationed along the assignment desk that overlooked the whole newsroom. Several different police scanners crackled with cops squawking back and forth over their walkie-talkies. As far as I was concerned, this was Mission Control at NASA…