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#11 BEACH MUSIC: A time of tans, blonds and hot pants

Beach Music, an On the Street Where I Livestories is really a tale of two cities; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Monica, California. It was originally published in the LA Times Sunday Magazine.

Beach Music We came to California from Canada, with a detour to Puerto Rico that lasted one endless summer of a year. A year in which I turned 15, and my hair turned blond from living in the sun. “Psst,” the boys and men would call after me in the blue-cobbled streets of San Juan. “Psst! Hey, blondie. Psst! Hey, cutie pie.” I was devastated when my parents said we had to go, that it was time to leave the island so that my older brother, Russell, could get a first rate education. The plan was to drive cross country from Miami and settle in San Francisco so that my brother could finish high school before going on to UC Berkeley. But, once we got there in the fall of 1968, we found that …

If a tree falls in the forest ... should it be used to make the paper for my novel?

I’ve been working on a novel for the past year and a half, a process which has made doing any kind of creative writing here in this space more and more difficult. I’ve kept up with my book-to-movie blog at Chapter1-Take1.com but that’s a very different kind of writing. When giving out factual information, I don’t require inspiration. 

Now I’ve finished the book and I’ve begun reaching out, searching for an agent. An easy sentence to write, a horrifying, intimidating, paralyzing process to undertake. The first chapter, one I was happy with before, now strikes me as sophomoric, tedious, garbage and any number of cliche criticisms. Is it? Or is that my fear talking? I don’t know. I’m in a place where I can’t imagine my novel is worth the paper it’s written on—about 1/3 of your typical paper-suitable tree. Which is why I still can’t find the energy to get back to memoir pieces. My writing brain needs a break. 

So in lieu of a writerly post, I’m posting photos instead. If you follow me on Instagram you might be thinking, for f’s sake, don’t you share enough pictures already? Yeah, I do. But not often of trees. And I do so love trees. Not in the creepy dendrophile way where some tree huggers literally hug—and more—giant Redwoods and the like, the trees literally sexually arousing them. Not like that.

My love is more of the nemophilist variety. That very old word is new to me and means one who loves trees so much they tend to haunt forests and such. A regular Lorax you might say. Anyway, I’ve endowed one of my characters with that somewhat nerdy trait and I happen to know he’s especially fond of Sycamores because of their large, luscious leaves and beautifully peeling bark. Can you blame him?

That’s three pictures and accompanying verbiage, logging in at roughly 210 words. More than I’ve managed in quite a while. Time to look at that chapter one more time.


  1. I like trees, too! I used to take people on winter hikes at a nature center to teach them how to identify trees by the bark. I was good at it then, but it's a skill you have to keep using or it disappears.


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