Focus on the moment - thoughts about Pat

Today I have been thinking about what I can say about Patrick Atkins, a man who has been my dear Father In-law for almost a decade now. Memories, something special, or simply my feelings. I’ve stumbled across a theme that encompasses his best qualities, and that is his intense focus on whatever he was doing.

When Pat was working, his focus was phenomenal. It was of great value to companies like CSA Engineering/Moog, Lockheed Martin, and NASA. He became invaluable on nearly every project he worked on. He spent hours studying for college classes. He developed software and spreadsheets, systems to make tasks like inventory easier and more organized. He was passionate about it, proud of what he did, and eager to share his passion and knowledge with everyone. He never did anything half-heartedly, it was all or nothing.

I realized today that when he played or did something joyfully, he was the same way. The pool would be full of children and a few adults. We’d ask him to join us. Suddenly, the biggest kid of all came in with a giant cannonball, sending water splashing every which way. The children shrieked with joy. There would be splashing, and laughing, and water gun fights. Nothing was done halfway, it was all or nothing.

When you had his attention, you had all of it. He may have been working hard on important things, but when he sat to read Ben or Grace a book, or give them a hug, it was with all of his being, all of his consciousness, all of his heart. I admire his ability to be so fully present.

In a way, it was easy to lose sight of the amazing amount of love Pat had for all of his friends of family. It was overshadowed by his brilliant mind. But any time it showed, it was the same way. Intense, 100%, all encompassing, without hesitation. When I married his daughter, he shook my hand and said “take good care of her.” He said it with such intensity, meaning and feeling that I will never forget it. The look in his eyes, the sound of his voice, the grip of his hand.

We asked guests at our wedding to put comment cards in a box with advice, wishes or special thoughts. We read them later on and there were many from him, all with the same theme. Don’t forget your family, your family loves you and will always be there for you. I will do my best to follow his advice and his request, always.

He loved his wife, friends, children, and grandchildren so very much. It was not often expressed in sweeping gestures, but when it was…it was everything. I figured I’d have another 30 years from now to get to know him better, laugh, play, and love. We’ve all suffered a huge loss in that way. But at least we know that we had him, all of him, in so many of those special times. And hopefully we can learn to enjoy the rest of the moments we have together with reckless abandon.


A divide in time

The living room feels like a bad place when I walk through it. The tree, half decorated with lights. Something bad happened there, our lives changed there and it’s frozen. Like the room of a child who has passed away. You can’t deal with it because touching it would erase them, somehow. Tonight we are going to turn on the lights, wash the gloom away, and finish. It puts a lump in my stomach. This is the chair where my wife collapsed when she got the worst news of her life. This is the strand of lights that hit the floor. There are the tissues that sweet Grace brought her, in her wisdom and naivety.

The tree represents a divide in time. I sent my dear mother-in-law a text with a blog about letting your inner child encourage you to cultivate joy. She responded with a lovely thought about our children keeping that reminder for us. Not long after, the same phone on which I shared that joy rang. Time was cut in half to before and after that moment. We are still in the twilight of that divide.

Moving on is not something I want to face yet, even if it’s just the Christmas tree. But Grace makes me strong. She needs to have her happy childhood world and keep it as uninterrupted as possible. We insisted that she not stop moving, while the rest of us fell into a pit. She won’t understand much until Grandpa isn’t there, and then he isn’t there again. And again. The same as for us, although we can see the finality in the future and deal with it a little…now. That’s a shitty thing about being an adult. The good moments can be lost as you are always dreading the consequences before they happen. The result of living, of time passing, is always dying.

Shakespeare gave us “to be, or not to be” and it’s often tossed out as a stereotypical line to mean “I am an actor” or “I am indulging in describing life’s struggles with flowery language.” When you are grieving, however, you instantly and unavoidably see that Hamlet is your ultimate soul-buddy in pondering life…meaning…existence.

To be, is a choice. To not be, is a choice. You don’t think about it, but every day you “are” is something you decide to do. To exist, to feel, to get out of bed. When life is just crap, we may find ourselves arguing points on the “not to be” side. Even for a moment. One stage of grief.

In an angry burst, or extreme hurt (which is the same thing)…I imagine myself on Shakespeare’s stage wondering if this was a mistake. To marry, to have kids, to *try* at having a life. To have your eggs in a basket that is so fragile…if it can all be taken away. Would it have been better to get a shitty job and play video games for the rest of my life? A lonely bachelor.

I imagine not. But this fucking hurts, and there are moments you’d give anything to not hurt. So Hamlet, my friend…save me space on your ledge. I might be back to visit…but I won’t stay. The tree needs decorating.


CRIME ALERT. Friends and family, please read and share.

It’s time for me to warn all of you that property crime is on the rise in Kern County, big time. At the pawn shop I have my finger on the pulse of activity because every time it happens I talk to the cops about what was stolen, and often the victims. There have been a crapload this week in Tehachapi and if you talk to any officer in and around Kern County they will tell you it’s a rapidly increasing problem right now and no one is immune.

Lots of home burglaries. I don’t know about all of the cases but it seems like homes for sale are easy, if you’ve got a lockbox on the door and have your possessions inside…it’s easy pickings. Break the lockbox, voila. I’m not sure how they choose houses otherwise but some signs that you are away and your neighbors won’t notice is easy to assume.

Smash and grabs in cars are also a rampant issue. Besides the fact that it happened to me in Bakersfield, there are a slew of them going on. Slim-jim the lock, break the window (whatever they need to do), and take anything they can find of value. Tools, electronics, CD’s or cassette tapes, stereo.

I don’t really have any great suggestions for you, sadly, about what to do. I could recommend alarm systems, recording all of your serial numbers, locking up your jewelry but most of us just don’t have the time for that. You could just play the odds and not think about it, percentage-wise you’ll probably be OK.

I just want you to be aware and be careful. If you have any tips please share. I would like to see some public meetings with law enforcement and citizens to coordinate some ways to deal with it. Perhaps we can work together to encourage this.

I am making this post public and encourage you to share it.

Google transcribed this voicemail as “This is my cock. Yes. He and I wanted you today. Hey, call me back at 176-0417, just, 9418 thank you bye.”

It sounds like a giggling teenager who did say that. Opinions?


If you are trolling for opportunities to be offended, please stay off of Twitter.

Gwyneth Paltrow slammed for tweeting “Niggas in Paris for real!” with a picture of her with Beyonce & Jay-Z. Her response “”Hold up. It’s the title of the song!”

Yes, and she was IN FRANCE with JAY-Z who MADE THE FUCKING SONG.

"Gwyneth might be getting a little too comfortable around her black friends …" said a critic. REALLY? Gwyneth Paltrow, who by the way is an incredible humanitarian and has done more for black people (if we are counting money and good will spent) than any of you bloggers…?

From the end of the article “Don’t. Use. The. Word.”

Here’s my quote:

Stop. The. Fake. Outrage.

She was using it ironically because she is a skinny Hollywood white girl with her close black friends, it’s funny because it’s slightly “wrong.” If you are trolling for opportunities to be offended, please stay off of Twitter.


Jay-Z And Kanye To Blame For Gwyneth Paltrow’s Use Of N-Word


Boy Gets Girl - January, 2011

A dramatic thriller that brings a real life horror to the stage. Jenni Saldaña stars as Theresa, a career-minded journalist. She is pretty bitter about romance and the dating scene. A friend sets her up on a blind date, which opens the show. The date is awkward but sort of cute. It seems like it could easily be a romantic comedy from there. But there is an undertone that foreshadows bad things to come. Eric Tolley, as the Tony, plays this perfectly. His nice guy subtly but noticeably becomes needy and controlling. Soon he is threatening violence and the epitome of a psycho stalker.

Jenni is solid as the lead, a strong woman who is forced to realize how vulnerable she is in a horrible situation. Her portrayal was realistic and very natural. Not overacted but reserved, as the character is private and normally likes to avoid drama. This stalker aspect plays along with a second plot line as she interviews a director of cult status skin flicks. Norman Colwell is memorable in this part…funny, offensive, and endearing at the same time. Jared Cantrell and Matthew Borton are also solid as Theresa’s supportive co-workers.

The show’s best accomplishment is the claustrophobia and terror the audience feels as the stalker closes in. For the last half we hardly see Eric on stage, aside from a mad shadow ransacking an apartment in the dark and a frenzied voice on the phone…the feeling the other actors give as they see him out an invisible window. The show includes a PSA about the dangers of stalking, and certainly opened my eyes. Eric’s acting job was the highlight for me. The way he took on the energy of the man was so frighteningly authentic. It felt very dangerous.

I recall the music being really cool, but no other sound effects or lighting comes to mind.

Good direction by Michael Pawloski.

The Empty Space is proud to present


Written by Rebecca Gilman
Directed by Michael Pawloski

Only two more chances to see BOY GETS GIRL!

Friday, January 27 and Saturday, January28 at 8pm

An innocent blind date quickly turns into a living nightmare. The award winning thriller by Rebecca Gillman explores stalking, sexism and the nature of romantic pursuit.


Jenni Saldana
Eric Tolley
Jared Cantrell
Matthew Borton
Norm Colwell
Emily Tisler
Michelle Guerrero

Admission is FREE with suggested donations of $15 for adults and $10 students and seniors.

The doors open at 7:45

To make a reservation please visit www.esonline.org or call 327-7529


The Rainbow is a California Roll with different kinds of fish on it. Salmon, Tuna, Shrimp, Sea Bass. Fresh taste and I like it because you get the different tastes of the different fish.

Also got the salmon skin hand roll, pictured right. Had no idea what it would be, turns out it’s salmon skin sort of fried crispy. Similar to bacon. Interesting. I liked it but not sure I would order it again.


Seaweed Salad

I have this pretty much every time I eat Japanese food. Light and tastes interesting. A good low-calorie snack that fills you up. This way, you can eat just this and some sushi and be satisfied at the end of the meal.


The Miracle Worker - Feb & March 2012

February 24 - March 11, 2012

Dramatizes the breakthrough moment when Annie Sullivan reaches the young Helen Keller with language and communication. Keller’s family stands in the way as they feel sorry for her and would rather treat her like a sad, disabled pet who doesn’t know any better. Exciting scenes when Annie (played by Amy Hall) literally BATTLES the young girl, who always gets her way by throwing temper tantrums. Great scene with Helen throwing spoons and eggs, slapping and fighting. Annie throws a pitcher of water on her. Eventually she gets the family to agree to isolate her in a building on the property so she can break the child’s will and really reach her intellectually. Several touching “goosebumps” moments, especially at the end when Helen gets it and experiences exhilaration and joy at really understanding the outside world. There were tears in the audience and several standing at the end. A full house for opening night.

Great performance by Amy Hall, playing Sullivan really works for her as Annie is an odd type of outsider. She grew up in an asylum, was blind for a lot of her life. She does not want Helen to be trapped in ignorance. She is strong and quirky, the miracle chance that Helen needed.

Lexie Watkins at 10 years old is INCREDIBLE as Helen Keller and deserves an acting nomination. She is the play.

Angela Poncetta gave a touching performance as Helen’s mother. She really pulled at my heartstrings as a parent. Her challenge of loving Helen too much to discipline her, but at the same time fighting to let Annie do her painful work to break her…is a great dramatic experience.

Don Mcpherson and Taylor Lozano were solid as Helen’s father “The Captain” and half brother. For my taste I would have enjoyed the show more if these two characters were slightly more sympathetic. As the only two men they are very hot tempered. Taylor was great at the end when his character finally used his perspective to support Annie Sullivan and stand up to both parents.

 The Captain is described as being a “tyrant” so he needs to be staunch, but he comes off as being uncaring and ignorant, which I don’t think he was. It would have been nice to see a moment of contemplation somewhere or some more lines that were not yelled at least. As it was his character seemed the play’s villain, almost, and I don’t think there needed to be a villain character. The villain needs only be the well-meaning ignorance of the time and family. Those challenges are quite enough for Annie and Helen to fight.

As for the rest, the smaller parts were good. Julia Stansbury as the haughty Aunt, Guin as the maid. Miscellaneous kids. I liked the light touch of the music, instrumental guitar and banjo and such. Rode a perfect line by not coloring the time or mood too much. Almost old fashioned and quaint, but keeping the setting of immediacy so you aren’t watching mere history.

Bakersfield Californian Article:

Hairy situation saved by a ‘Miracle’ at Empty Space

Official Show Information:

The Empty Space is proud to present the classic American drama, THE MIRACLE WORKER. 

Winner of the Tony Award for Best Play, THE MIRACLE WORKER tells the incredible true story of Helen Keller, a young girl afflicted with both blindness and deafness, and Annie Sullivan, the extraordinary teacher who must find a way for Helen to learn. As Sullivan struggles to reach Helen, she must also contend with the obstacles in her pupil’s family, namely a domineering patriarch resistant to change, a young mother who loves too much, and a resentful brother. 
THE MIRACLE WORKER is a riveting, compelling, inspirational story that has moved audiences for decades.

THE MIRACLE WORKER cast features Lexie Watkins, Amy Hall, Angela Poncetta, don mcpherson, Taylor Lozano, Julia Stansbury, Guinevere PH Dethlefson, Sequoia Whitten, Miller McCraw, Janice Bondurant, Lily Bogges, Ada Stern, Nayeli Diaz, Chancee Lucio, Madison Castro, and Riley Thompson, and is directed by The Empty Space’s artistic director Bob Kempf.

THE MIRACLE WORKER plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm February 24 - March 10, and closes on March 11 with a 2pm matinee. The doors open thirty minutes before show time.

Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $15 for adults and $10 for students/seniors.

Call 661-327-PLAY for reservations.


To those of you who went to Bakersfield College in 1999-2002…wondering if anyone remembers Terry Cranfill. If you knew him you would not forget him. Every once in a while I think about him, wonder if he’s still alive because he always was in good spirits but dangerous health. Anyway…searched Facebook and Google for him today and he passed away a few years back. I’m going to post something about him To those of you who went to Bakersfield College in 1999-2002…wondering if anyone remembers Terry Cranfill. If you knew him you would not forget him. Every once in a while I think about him, wonder if he’s still alive because he always was in good spirits but dangerous health. Anyway…searched Facebook and Google for him today and he passed away a few years back. I’m going to post something about him.