mourning Tom Petty


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1991 was a horrible year for our family. My grandfather had died on my 8th birthday and my father was working odd hours in a Safeway bakery because he had been laid off from the office job he had had for years.

It was a school night and we were at Lloyd Center. It was still light outside, but Dad said something about how we needed to leave soon because it was getting close to our bedtime. I remember being annoyed about that. We piled into the car and, instead of going home, we pulled into the parking lot of the Portland Coliseum. I was confused… Dad was smiling. I asked him “Are we going to the doll and teddy bear show?” He reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a ticket and held it out so I could read it- TOM PETTY AND THE HEARTBREAKERS. I actually screamed.

Because we loved Tom Petty. Because my dad loved Tom Petty. Tom Petty was my dad’s alter-ego.They were born the same year and my dad had followed him throughout his career. Tom Petty wore red Converse- so my dad did too. My dad spent time learning his songs on guitar and piano–and he copied his voice and vocal inflections- “Thank you very much.” We often talked about how we’d buy Dad a “Rickenbacker 360 12-string” in fireglow if we “won the lottery.” I had an actual adult wish to get one for him in real life eventually.

My sister and I got hooked when we saw his Alice & Wonderland-themed music video “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” I remember squealing about how he burps at the end. The video was included in a compilation that my dad would watch over and over again (he had a life-long tendency to watch things over and over again until they were burned into his consciousness and he could recite the dialogue word-for-word) called “Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: A Bunch of Videos and Some Other Stuff.”

Dad had this monologue about the San Fernando Valley memorized . He tries to perform it for the camera in a family video recorded on a beach trip on my grandmother’s behemoth camcorder we borrowed for the occasion but my mom was filming and cut away from him before he could finish it… probably because she’d heard it so many times. My sister and I reenacted the random golf scenes spread throughout. I think anyone can understand Tom Petty’s appeal to kids if they only watch this “I’m Stupid” video.

We listened to the Heartbreakers and the Traveling Wilburys on every road trip we ever took and random trips to the grocery store in between.  I specifically asked for sunglasses shaped like the ones he wore in “Don’t Come Around Here No More” for my 9th birthday. Mom made me a guitar-shaped cake that year. I had a collection of Tom Petty cassettes of my own that I would listen to on a walkman. Thinking about that reminds me of the smell of Music Millennium– the music store in Portland where we went at least one weekend a month for my entire childhood.

We saw him again when he came to Portland for the Wildflowers tour. I saw him again as an adult in Anaheim for the Hypnotic Eye tour.

I learned how to drive in Los Angeles where I’ve somehow made my home. I live in Reseda- if I had a front yard, there would be a freeway running through it. I’m 2 blocks away from Ventura Boulevard. My first teaching job was on Mullholland Highway. And after the years and years of forest fires, I’m continually reminded that smog makes a rainbow. On good days, I say that California’s been good to me. Tom Petty made Los Angeles familiar to me before I got here and while I try to avoid the prophetic “meant to be” thing in general, it’s hard not to go there when I think about where I came from, where I ended up and the Tom Petty lyrics that have followed me.

When I was planning my wedding, my dad and I were trying to find a song that would be appropriate for a father-daughter dance and we were not impressed by the choices. I refused to dance to some meaningless song when my entire childhood with my dad had been all about music. So we decided to sing instead–a song whose lyrics were wholly inappropriate for the occasion, but altogether perfect otherwise. We did the Stevie Nicks/Tom Petty duet “Insider.”


And then my dad died of what we think was a heart attack on August 24th, 2014 at the age of 64. My sister and I sang “You and I Will Meet Again” at his memorial.


And of course I knew that Tom Petty would die some day and, especially after my dad died, that it would be something that would affect me deeply. I wasn’t expecting it to happen only 2 years later and in a very similar way. Tom Petty wasn’t my dad but he was such a huge part of my dad. It felt like he died all over again. I’m left with the same angry feelings about the years we won’t have.

I remember my dad telling me he never wanted to see “greatest hits” written on a Tom Petty CD because that would mean he was done making music. And there is a greatest hits CD, of course, but he was never done.

My husband and son and I participated in the Tom Petty Memorial Vampire Walk they did on Ventura Boulevard this week. My mom convinced me to go… I hadn’t realized when it was announced that it would be the only public memorial event that would be happening. It felt good to be out with hundreds of people holding candles and singing his songs.




This hurts. This sucks. This is, again, so unfair and absolutely absurd. I am deeply saddened. He brought so much joy to my dad and to me and thousands upon thousands of people. And he’s now going to be referred to in the past tense only. I’m again finding myself wishing for a time machine that would get him to medical attention as it was happening so something might have been done to save him. And my thoughts persist this way, even though I know they’re doing nothing but making me suffer more. I can say that he’s done making music, but it will be quite a while before I will accept it.




panini passive aggression coffee statistics


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I spent a long time at a coffee shop today because this coffee shop was within walking distance of the place where my car was being fixed. I had some minor things done- but things that have needed doing for 5+ years. Like my seatbelt wouldn’t stay clicked into its seatbelt clicker thing so I always had to click it into the passenger seatbelt. So if I had a passenger- they either had to politely not notice that they were going to ride seatbelt-less if I forgot or they would guiltily observe that I slung my seatbelt around my emergency brake lever so it would look to cops like I had a working seatbelt.

Both my driver and passenger front doors would not open from the outside. I either had to keep a window open or I would have to open the front doors by opening the back doors and reaching around to open the front doors from the inside. This became dangerous if I had to park on a busy street.

And then people started taking stuff from my car. I’m kind of surprised it took them so long to do it. First they took my garage door opener- and then they took my laminator, a Rachael Ray beach bag that my mom gave me and, what was most upsetting to me, an old sweaty/smelly yoga mat.

So it’s summer vacation and This Is The Time to take care of things like this. #boringselfcare So there I was… in a coffee shop for 6 hours.

I bought an iced coffee and a bagel and worked on my statistics class materials (one last thing for that fully official license of mine) for 3 hours. I had to use the bathroom then and decided I definitely needed to order something else. I ordered a chai latte and drank only half of it for another 3 hours.

During this time, I noticed that people were ordering panini sandwiches and that the sandwiches were taking an unexpectedly long time. One woman approached the counter and said “Is it almost done?” The barista replied, “It will be about 10 minutes.” She laughed and then said, “Oh, you’re serious?”

I was engrossed in a problem about how to figure out how many different combinations of songs DJ Spaz could create if he had 5 reggae songs, 3 country songs, 2 blues songs and 4 rock songs while making sure he played at least 2 reggae songs when I heard a loud sigh. I realized how quiet it had gotten. I looked around and saw four other people on phones or laptops and one man with his arms crossed waiting at the counter. Nobody was behind the counter. He put down his almost-empty ice coffee and slapped his thigh, sighing again. He paced a bit, stomped his foot, turned to face the coffee shop patrons and threw up a hand as if to say “Can you believe these people?” without actually saying anything but no one acknowledged him. I started to become afraid he was going to yell… He did not… he just continued with random combinations of slapping his thigh, stomping his foot and sighing (how many different combinations can he do if he wants to do at least 20 impatient acts but not repeat any and get at least 3 good sighs in? Hm…). Finally, a barista emerged from the closet they were using as a kitchen with a panini. The barista did not say a word, but handed the panini to the man who took it, also wordlessly and stormed out of the coffee shop.

At one point, I also observed a woman emerge from the kitchen/closet to answer a question about a drink order. She and the customer talked for a while. She had a peeled red onion in her hand the whole time which she held to the side as naturally as if it were a pocketbook or a cell phone.

I felt bad about staying for so long. But I said “thank you” to the baristas as I left. And I meant it.


A month of practicing writing.

This project is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do- it’s reminding me that I’m not perfect and not-being-perfect is not a reason to not do something. I took way more than 4 days off of writing this month- but I wrote way more than I would have if I wouldn’t have been doing this project. As of 1/31/17, I’ve written 16 entries into this document- and a total of 15 pages of Calibri 11 point font.

I write significantly more- not just in my daily writing practice, but in my writing for work as well. I noticed my 1-paragraph notes about my observations of kids I’m assessing in class have turned into 1-2 page documents that I have to pare down. I would say that words come to me easier, but I wouldn’t say that I have found writing to be easier. Writing is hard- and doing this more has made me realize it’s hard.

Which is good! One of the main things I wanted to battle was that voice in my head saying “If only you wrote more…” because there was an assumption behind that, that it was something that came so easily to me that with just a tiny bit of attention would yield amazing things. Not true. With lots and lots of practice, maybe- but that’s just it…

I’ve only written 4 blog posts this month including this one. But I didn’t have something I wanted to publish every time I sat down to write. I also had to decide what I wanted to write about. I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and tried out some fiction a few days. Fiction is REALLY hard for me. Too many choices. I’m sticking to observational/non-fiction writing for the moment.

Reading and writing is something that I can do and it’s something that doesn’t cost me anything- and it’s something that I think is going to be important for me to keep up in this Trump-vortex we’ve found ourselves in.

What I’ve learned so far about the “Global Gag Rule”


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Yesterday, Donald Trump signed off on reinstituting the Mexico City Policy- known by opponents as “the global gag rule.” The policy was originally introduced by Ronald Reagan in 1984 at the United Nations  2nd International Conference on Population and Development which was held in Mexico City.

BTW, the International Conference on Population and Development held in 1994 still has its website up:


Awww… I remember 1994.

Anyway- Reagan announces that he is going to cut funding to foreign non-government organizations (NGOs) who provide abortion services or include abortion in the discussion of options a woman has available to her for whatever reason. (Hence the “gag” part- they can’t even talk about abortion.)

I had a hard time coming up with an example of a foreign non-government organization which would be affected by this rule.*** I hate to admit this, but the first good example I got came from the Breitbart website (please tell me how many hail Marys I need to do to make up for that one, please. I’ll get started now).

But it’s probably the best example– International Planned Parenthood. I didn’t know there was an international Planned Parenthood (gimme some more hail Marys please- also, where can I buy a rosary?).

So Reagan announces a rule that organizations like International Planned Parenthood (IPP) will get cut off from US funding if they provide abortion services, counseling, etc.  The rule is in place until 1993 when Bill Clinton decides it’s a bad idea and signs a piece of paper saying that the rule is off.  Then George W. Bush takes the White House in 2001 and signs another piece of paper declaring the rule is back on. Barack Obama takes the White House in 2009, signs another piece of paper turning the rule off again. And then yesterday, Donald Trump signed another piece of paper- turning the rule on again.

Seems like time for a sports reference, right? A sportsball travels from the Republican side of the court to the Democrat side of the court depending on who’s in charge at the time.

Some things that I learned that are important:

  1. This changes nothing about the way abortion is regulated in the United States.
  2. Donald Trump did something everyone who knows anything about this would expect him to do as a Republican president taking charge of the White House. He just put the sportsball where he was told to put it.

The Mexico City Policy does nothing to anybody in America besides make them angry. But what does it do? I’m still in the process of finding out- but here are some things I’ve learned so far:

  1. The policy limits the effectiveness of care available to women. When an agency can’t even say the “a” word, it makes it hard to talk about other things too- like contraception.
  1. NGOs which do not sign their part of the gag rule lose funding- including funding for contraceptives, education and family planning counseling. IPP- and NGOs like it- provide a lot of non-abortion services which are essential to staying alive like cancer screenings and STD testing.
  1. The number of total abortions that happened during the years when the gag rule was in effect INCREASED. MORE ABORTIONS HAPPEN WHEN THE GAG RULE IS IN EFFECT. You can talk about correlation vs. causation if you want, but if you limit women’s access to contraceptives, it’s pretty logical that there is going to be an increase in unwanted pregnancies. #concept

(Here’s a study about it:

(And by the way- I got the link to the study from this page produced by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation:


I would really like to hear about the experiences of someone working in a clinic that has to go back and forth between talking about abortion and not talking about abortion based on who the president is in another country. Can NPR please send a correspondent somewhere for me? Or is that an actual thing? Maybe clinics just shut down when the gag rule is in place and start back up again when it’s not in place. I don’t know! This is total speculation!

The Gag Rule is just a memorandum. It’s a policy. It’s a piece of paper- or a stack of paper- but not so big a stack you couldn’t get a staple through it. But what do I know about government staplers?

Anyway- my point is is that isn’t there some way we can make the Gag Rule stop coming back? I googled that too! Barbara Boxer tried to do this in 2007. She proposed an amendment called the Global Democracy Promotion Act that would block the funding cuts implemented by the policy and it passed the senate. But that was while W was in office and he resolved to veto any action which would block the policy. Nothing actually happened and, as you know now, the sportsball went back to Barack in 2009. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get something like this passed? Oh wait… a republican is in the White House and republicans have the majority in congress… so … let’s put that on the to-do list for when a Democrat is president. That is… if there is ever another president…



***I’m horrified at the realization that all of my research in the past ten years has been done using Google searches. An exception to this would be the research I did while working on my master’s degree when I got to have access to the CSUN databases. But then I was looking up really specific studies about the effect of chronic ear infections on language learning, for instance. The stuff I’m looking into now seems like stuff that should be public knowledge. So what does that tell me about public knowledge? If I’ve been relying on nothing-but-Google for the last ten years, I think there is a good chance that the majority of the internet-accessing population has been doing the same. Our access to information is more limited than I had originally thought.



don’t let perfect be the enemy of good

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”


That’s the quote in Gretchen Rubin’s one-sentence journal today. Today is the 10th day of January and I have written for at least 20 minutes on 6 of those 10 days. I was supposed to get four days off and I’ve taken all of them. I had good excuses. On January 2nd, I was on a getaway overnight with my husband while my wonderful in-laws watched our toddler. On January 5th, I spent the day prepping for travel and then getting to the airport / flying / getting on a connecting flight/ getting baggage/ waiting for our ride / sitting in traffic all the way home. On January 8th, my dear friend from Portland had her flight back cancelled so we got to have dinner and hang out during the time I was planning on writing. I did scribble in my journal for 5 minutes while she was trying to figure out flight stuff.  Yesterday, I had a surprise IEP cancellation so I was able to meet my friend again for dinner and then I took my toddler to the park. And then some other friends came over to hang out after he went to sleep.


But if I wasn’t doing this project- of the 10 days in January, I most likely would have written during zero of those days.


Like I said at the beginning, this is an experiment and I’m discovering things. One major thing is that my computer sucks. (Sorry, computer. I feel bad writing that about the computer I’m currently using.) It takes forever to boot up and I can’t turn it on while the toddler is awake because he’ll be all like “ooooo Mommy’s toy with all the buttons! I want to press them all!!” And then there’s my desk. Maybe if I can clean off my desk again and get a chair in front of it so my laptop can live there, I won’t have to boot it up every time. I absolutely cannot invest in a new computer/device at the moment. I type much faster than I write by hand and I feel extremely impeded when I have to write by hand.


But I’ve done it. This morning, I spent 15 minutes writing in a journal and came to the idea for this blog post. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to get writing in today either because I go to therapy on Tuesday nights. Thursday night is book club and Friday, I’m going on a party bus to see Ruby Ribbon’s spring line. So I have to plan to have that time in there somewhere.


That’s the difference though… I’m making time to do something that otherwise I’d leave to just when it’s convenient or when I feel like it. While the fact that I let 4 days get away from me was disappointing at first, I was reminded that I was creating a habit and creating habits is hard. And I won’t let perfect be the enemy of good. It’s good that I wrote 6 out of 10 days this month- not perfect, but good.

I read “Ready Player One” so you don’t have to

(this was also published on Goodreads and —- spoiler alert)

Imagine a world where the guy downing corn chips and spending 20+ hours logged into a videogame ends up winning the inheritance of the richest man on earth. And that he is able to do this because of his wide breadth of knowledge about 80’s pop culture and his years of time spent mastering Atari games. Oh yeah- he also gets the girl at the end who barely loses to him and who happens to be just as beautiful as her avatar (and he gets to be as ugly as he wants in real life, nbd).

Among the many quotes on the back of the book extolling its virtues, John Scalzi writes that it’s a “nerdgasm” and that’s pretty much how I felt about it the whole time. Reading this book made me feel like I was squishing my way through someone’s nerdgasm. Someone with poor hygiene.

Now imagine reading 370 pages of written narration of someone playing a videogame- with enough detail that you might be able to replicate the game moves if you ever needed to. I skipped over pages at a time that could have been replaced with “And then I got the sword” or whatever.

This book was obviously not written for me. It was written for guys my age (grew up in the 80’s) who have embraced their videogame obsession and haven’t totally gotten a grasp of what makes a plot sexist. Those guys might care about the details of what buttons the main character pushed to do what and actually roll their eyes if the author got something wrong ( I mean… heaven forbid the story would be unrealistic).

I am SO glad I’m done with it and I’m sad it took me all of December to read it. GAME OVER!!


The Practice Project

I have always been bad at practicing- especially things I had no inherent talent for, but also things I was good at. I was a decent trumpet player in school without trying but I absolutely would not practice at home regularly and perhaps missed out on being an excellent trumpet-player. But that was middle school… there are other not-as-random things I don’t practice- like writing or cleaning or having meaningful conversations or exercising. 

I have lots of theories about why I don’t practice anything but the strongest reason I can think of is that I’m a perfectionist. Anything not done perfectly is not worth doing… or the act of practicing means admitting I’m less-than-perfect in whatever area it is and that’s uncomfortable enough to make me never do it. 

Because of this, I have always been plagued with “if-only” thoughts. If only I made time to write every day, maybe I could fulfill my dream of having a successful blog and a book deal. If only I made time to clean every day, I’d have more people over and/or feel less stressed out. If only I exercised 20 min a day, I would have more energy and my clothes would fit better and I’d be more confident. 

Also, for the last few months, I’ve been attempting to practice mindfulness. Every time I notice that I’m overwhelmed, it has helped me to say the word “practice” to myself. It’s been a tiny reminder that I’m practicing and I don’t have to have it all figured out yet. 

The Project

So for 2017, I am launching the Practice Project. I will be practicing practicing. Once a month, I will choose one thing to practice consistently and I am going to blog about it. At the end of that month, I get to decide if it’s something I’d like to continue or if it’s something I am ok not doing consistently. 

The Goals

Here are the things I am hoping to accomplish by doing this:

1. To have a solid answer to my “if-only” inner monologue.

2. To receive the benefits of taking on good habits: stronger skills, better endurance, resilience, physical health benefits, mental health benefits, increased knowledge, broader and stronger social network, improved relationships, increased opportunities for work/fun/positive experiences- to name a few. 

3. To produce regular content for a blog. 

The Rules

Here are some rules for my project:

1. I can change rules as-needed. This is an experiment and I’m expecting to discover things that do and don’t work so I have to be able to make changes. 

2. I can fail. Stuff happens and if I can’t get my practice in for a month (or more), I’m still allowed to continue the project. (That’s really hard for a perfectionist.)

3. I can practice other stuff too. Just because February is cleaning month, it doesn’t mean I won’t try to also practice meditation or exercising or whatever- the themes are just focuses for each month. Writing is a practice I’ll have to continue to make the project work throughout the year. 

The First Practice 

As you might guess from that last rule, my practice for January is writing. I will write for at least 20 minutes a day with 4 days off I can take at any time. A lot of the writing will be published here, but not necessarily all of it. To support this practice, I will be reading “On Writing” by Stephen King and writing a review. 

Practicing the rest of the year

I have tried several times to write my final list of 12 practices for the year and I’ve been unable to do so. I am allowing myself to pick the practice I need most as I go. That said, below is a list of possible practices for the year:

  • Tidying up
  • Social engagement
  • Completing projects
  • Loving kindness
  • Meditation 
  • Trumpet
  • Spanish
  • Photo a day
  • Social engagement 
  • Blog building 
  • Epic lunches
  • Spirituality
  • Excellent spouse month
  • Excellent parent month
  • SLP research
  • Activism
  • Health
  • Beauty/self care maintenance (flossing, using moisturizer, etc)
  • Community building
  • Singing
  • Completing episode 1 of a serial killers piece I’ve had in my head for like 10 years 
  • Finishing the manuscript of the kid’s book I’ve had in my head for years
  • Listening to new (to me) music 
  • Developing recurring features for my blog (I.e. random fact Friday, ask a religious person…)
  • Being in nature

At the beginning of each month, I will announce the month’s practice , its rules and what book I will be reading to support the practice.

This project is gigantic in some ways… it’s a commitment to 12 resolutions and 300+ days of dedicated activity… but I’ve built in flexibility, release valves and preemptive forgiveness. And I might accomplish incredible things. Or I won’t. Let’s see what happens!

Want to practice with me? Let’s be friends and support each other! Follow this blog or email me at or follow me on Instagram @sincerelyimitated and hashtag #practiceproject

maybe that’s what you should do.


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My whole life, whenever I have heard about someone with a job that seemed remotely interesting, entertaining or meaningful, I have had an impulse thought pop up that says something like, “Maybe that’s what you should do.” The last two years or so, that impulse has slowly begun to lose power. Now, my thought process goes “Maybe that’s what you should do. But people who do those things have to be accountable. They make mistakes and have to answer for them. They have to deal with unhappy people. They have to deal with failure. They have to deal with the minutiae of their job that seems to have nothing to do with the fundamental goal of their work. Why don’t you, instead of considering that someone else has it better, luxuriate in the freedom of casual interest? Enjoy some carefree dabbling? Take up a research project with complete permission to chuck it all the second it gets boring or tedious?”


I would say that’s progress. Or maybe it’s just getting old. I guess those two things are the same thing.

people are worried. people are working.


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People aren’t doing their jobs. People are doing their jobs. People are mad about whether people are doing their jobs or not. People are worried about whether or not they’re doing their own jobs. People are worried about whether people think they aren’t doing their own jobs. People are worried that their jobs are unimportant. People are worried that their jobs are really important but that they are incompetent at their jobs. People are worried that they’re in the wrong job. People are worried they will never know what the right job is or if they’ll never have time in their lives to find out what the right job is. People are worried that they worry about their job too much and that they should spend more time living their real lives- the part of their lives that does not involve their job. People worry that there is no part of their life that does not involve their job. People worry that, on their deathbed, they will regret how much time they spent at their job or how much time they spent worrying about their job or how much time they spent worrying about how much they worried about their job. People think it’s their job to worry. People worry that if they’re not worried about their job, it means they’re not doing their job or doing their job enough.

Does anybody not worry about their work? What would that be like? To not be concerned with what occupies their time…

Would anything be worth doing if it wasn’t something to worry about? If there is anything to be done, isn’t there also worry to be had if it is not done or not done right?

Worry precedes work. Work precedes worry.

hiking with a toddler in the rain


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Keeping watch over a toddler in public spaces requires you to be in fight-or-flight mode most of the time and it’s evolutionary and probably good for your kid. It just sucks for you.

That said, I got to have the moment today when it started raining on the hiking trail and I stretched my arms out and tilted my head to the sky, letting the rain hit my face. It was just a moment, but I closed my eyes. When I opened my eyes, my son was watching me, smiling.

Hiking with a toddler (much like doing anything else with a toddler) requires some patience. He wanted to stop every few feet to investigate a pinecone or a stick or to see if he could see the running water he was hearing.  He can run fast enough that I have to jog to keep up with him, but on the trail today, he took a very slow pace. He also wanted to investigate the tunnel and the mosaic garden that wasn’t on our way. I kept reminding myself to follow his example and pay more attention. Not fair that I had to pee the whole time though. It might have been easier if I could just go in my pants like he does.