Monthly Archives: March 2018

I’m not even a little bit mad anymore.

I’ve been reading a lot about bullying.

I got interested, this streak, because Melania Trump seems to have made cyber-bullying her crusade as First Lady.  I have no beef with Melania Trump.  I think she made the bed in which she’s now got to be comfortable.  Everyone else in the entire nation knew what Donald J. Trump was, and I’m assuming that Melania also did.  Whatever she gets from their marriage is between her and her husband.  I don’t care with whom he sleeps or has slept; or whether Ms. Trump knew about his affairs.  Oh, I care if a misogynist occupies the Oval Office, but that doesn’t sour me on the misogynist’s wife.

So  I am glad that she’s combating cyber-bullying.  Hearing of her mission, I started thinking about bullies in general, and in specific, about what I experienced as a child

The boys who grouped behind me, mimicking the way I walked — those were bullies.

The girls who mimed  contorted faces while I gave presentations — those were bullies.

I recall two girls in particular, who exclaimed with loud voices about how gross they found being assigned to work with me.  They knew that I was trapped in a stall in the girls’ bathroom where they stood applying make-up to their pretty faces.  They, too, were bullies.

When I got tripped as I walked down the aisle, by cackling popular kids showing off for their girlfriends;

When a boy jerked my uniform over my head and pulled my slip down to the floor;

When a teacher bored a red ballpoint pen into my check and carved a large check “to match [my] freckles”;

these, too, were acts of bullying.

I’m not even a little bit mad anymore.

A lot of dark hours flowed from the thirteen years which I spent in Catholic schools, tortured by the same kids who wore chapel veils and knelt with folded hands and bowed heads.  I chugged Scotch-on-the-rocks at the Pub in the Student Union straight through my three-and-a-half years at St. Louis University.  I stumbled to and from class, ignoring the caterwauling of guys in shorts and tank tops lounging on the ground in the Quad.  My brain turned within itself.  I convinced myself that I deserved the taunts, the jabs, the jeers.

I didn’t even flinch when a classmate asked me if being crippled kept me from having sex.  I answered him with all seriousness.  I never saw the smirks from his buddies clustered in the back of the dorm room.  I must have thought he really wanted to know.

The teasing and the rude questions continued for decades.  Only in the last ten years has it eased.  Perhaps now that I’m middle-aged, I don’t stand out as much.  But those early bullies  set the tone for my life.  And they were not alone.  Law students, lawyers, blind dates, ladies at lunch, suits in networking breakfasts.  Like pregnant women, people with disabilities seem to be fair game for rubber-necking and unbridled cross-examination in public places.

My over-riding goal, for the last sixty-two years, has been to keep a giant chip from growing on my shoulder.  I can’t claim to have been entirely successful.

So, Ms. Trump, First Lady of the United States of America — please, know that as someone who survived bullying long before the internet gave free reign to the act, I am grateful for any effort to stop bullying.

On my #journeytojoy, I’ve had to let go of a lot of pain.  Today, I’m letting go of the pain of experiencing all those acts of bullying.  So to all the boys and girls at Corpus Christi Elementary School who treated me badly; and the girls at Corpus Christi High School who took up the effort when I crossed the parking lot as a freshman; to the students at SLU and UMKC School of Law; and everybody since then who seemed intent on building themselves taller by tearing me down, I say this now:

I forgive you.  And I’m taking back my power.

It’s the twenty-first day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Rain, Rain

A vigorous rain beat on my car as I came into the house.  I can’t complain, though.  Everyone says California needs rain.  People gaze out the window with smiles on their faces.  I broke down and bought a raincoat.

The sun shines often enough to make the storms palatable.  As I write, rain dances on my metal roof and against the sides of the harbor master’s RV parked in the next lot.  A lazy fly which has established residence in my tiny house hovered in the doorway when I came back from Lodi.  He seemed unsure of whether or not to exit.  I grew tired of waiting for him and closed the door.

That fly and the harbor master’s flickering neon lights, awakened me at 3:00 a.m. the last two nights.  I listened to the mild buzz, watched the dance from amber to blue to green, and thought about my life. On Monday, I rose at 4:00 after lying in bed for a couple of hours.  I drove to Emeryville for a doctor’s appointment, then over the bay to San Rafael to meet a friend for lunch.  When I finally descended into Rio Vista on Highway Twelve, ten hours later, my heavy eyelids fluttered.

Eventually, I’ll chase the fly outside.  I’ll introduce myself to the harbor master and ask if he could dim the lights for sleeping.  Surely he’s safe here.  Those LED  strips would hardly thwart anyone intent on folly anyway, even if the park had a problem with miscreants.

This pleasant life will end as soon as I find a job.  But until it does, I’ll fix a cup of tea in the afternoon.  Rain or not, I’ll sit admiring the willow trees, on the porch when the sun shines and at my table by the wide window otherwise.  It’s not a life that many would enjoy.  I might find myself pining for more by and by.  But it suits me fine for now.

It’s the twentieth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Happy spring from me to thee.

To see more works by Nicole Thibodeau like the plein air on the wall behind me, click HERE.


Here is what three days on the ocean taught or reminded me:

  • Weather changes quickly on the coast.  Dress in layers.
  • Hostel life still offers an inexpensive way of being where you want to be.
  • I can drive to Pacifica in 100 minutes without speeding if I leave at 10:00 a.m.
  • My phone GPS gives more accurate instructions than the GPS in the fancy Jensen which the car dealer paid to have installed in my RAV4.
  • “Ok, Google” likes to help me.  (Or so she says.)
  • I enjoy Delta life.
  • Tiny living also still attracts me.  I went to Montara this time in part to test that perception.
  • Being in a large dwelling, with immense spaces and vast resources, doesn’t please me more than spending each day in my small space.  But:
  • I still sleep better with the sound of the ocean drifting through the window.  This affirms that after a year or so in the Delta, I will start looking for somewhere to park near the ocean.

I’m home again after my stay at Montara.  Walking on the bluffs of the Marine Reserve, and on the rise of Half Moon Bay State Beach allowed me to have a large measure of time with my Pacific.  But the river valley where I currently live has its own charm.  I’m glad to be back; and I feel renewed, as I always do after spending time at the sea.

I will keep returning to the coast periodically, to refresh my spirit.  A desire to be near  the ocean prompted my move to California, along with a resolve to forge a new chapter in my life.  Americans suffered more crises while I vegetated at Montara.  I’m sorry for those who died when the bridge collapsed in Florida.  I worry more and more about a country led by a president who has no regard for the truth.  But for myself, I have hope.  My focus sharpens every time I reinvigorate myself by spending time in the coolness of saltwater pulled to shore by dancing wind.

It’s the eighteenth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

No Words Needed

I visited the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve at high tide today.  The park ranger told me to take the coastal trail.  “It’s flat all the way,” she said in a gentle voice.  She had seen that I carried a walking stick, and I had asked her if the trails were steep.  I nodded and set off.  When I came to the fork in the road, I studied the map which she had given me and realized that if I took the coastal trail, I would be inland and would not see the ocean.  I took the bluff trail.  I am ever so glad that I did.

It’s the sixteenth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Check out a little video-clip on my YouTube channel by clicking here.

Rainy days and Thursdays

At the coast, you can drive five miles and change weather patterns before you park.

I see the grey closing over us.  I sit in the kitchen at the hostel at Montara.  I’ve eaten the last leftovers.  Though I feel bloated from the heavy food which I’m consumed throughout my three days here, I hope to walk tomorrow.  That will combat the carbs and let the sea air  permeate my cells.

I spent most of the day in Half Moon Bay.  A luscious piece of lemon cake followed a disappointing poorly cooked falafel. I should not have ordered falafel at the local Mexican place.  But  I felt a quart low on protein and little else caught my eye.

I didn’t mind.  I enjoyed my friend Kristin’s company and the pot of tea.  And that cake — well, other than the carb-load and calorie content, it did the trick.  Nobody can complain about a light, lovely piece of cake saturated with lemon drizzle and topped with strawberries.

The sun surrendered to the rain just after 2:00 p.m.  It doesn’t concern me.  I’ve extended my stay until Saturday morning.  Tomorrow I will find somewhere to walk.  I’ll stand as close to the ocean as possible and let the sound of the waves dance over me.  Rainy days and Thursdays never depress me.  How can I complain, with all this beauty so close at hand?

It’s the fifteenth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.

Miramar Beach, Half Moon Bay, CA

“Why did you move to NORCAL”, they ask.

Rain fell on the RAV as I drove across East Bay, over the Bay Bridge and south, towards the highway which would take me to the coast.  At a certain point, the route empties onto the coastal highway.  Then I take a turn, at Pacifica, and she spreads out before my eager eyes: the mother sea, my Pacific.

Why did you move to Northern California, they ask me, one after another.  This is why, this, the call of the sea.  Her voice, the unending balance of her energy, the waves as they fall to the shore.  Though I live in the Delta, I can be here in two hours.  Just a morning’s drive, and I am in her embrace.

I lunch with Kristin Hewett at the Miramar in Half Moon Bay.  They have a vegetarian menu, I’m happy to see, but I’m not here for the food.  I’m here for Kristin’s broad smile, and the beautiful bracelets which she gives me even though I had no idea that she intended to do so.  We met a couple of years ago at the shop which she had on Main Street.  We have not lost touch; and she knows me well.  One wrist now holds a band of Amazite; the other, a strand of a healing stone but I’ve forgotten its name; I’ll have to ask her again.  They clatter against the laptop as I write.

A host of people with the common interest of their Muslim faith occupies most of the hostel tonight.  They murmur in quiet voices which I can hear from the next kitchen.  They came down to the point as I sat reading, and I watched as they took a group photo.  The women stood on the left, wrapped in their lovely veils.  The men grinned broadly from the right.  The ocean rose behind them.  One of the group stood on a wall to take a photo, then turned and held his camera high to snap a shot with his face in the foreground.  I’ve been smiling ever since; and now I find the rhythm of their conversation quite comforting.

In a little while, I’ll eat the leftovers which I brought from Half Moon Bay; or perhaps I will just have a few dates.  I’ve made a cup of coffee.  My various electronic devices sit beside me, charging, ready to take a video, or a photo, or yield a text.  I will leave them all on my bed and walk down to the point, wrapped in my shawl, and watch the sun set.

It’s evening, on the fourteenth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  From Point Montara, I bid you peace.  Life continues.

The view from the window of the purple kitchen at HI – Point Montara.

Clear-Eyed Wonder

In the twenty-five years that I lived in Brookside, I never washed the windows until I got ready to move.  Now, in my tiny house, I’m yearning to climb an extension ladder and wash the Delta dust from the windows of my writing loft so I can see the sunrise while I write.

This place shimmers with magic.  As the weeping willows come into their own, I gaze with clear-eyed wonder at the delicate greens and sturdy browns of the park.  When I drive along the winding levee roads, hawks glide above me.  Owls hoot as I settle for the night.  Crows sear through the sky, with their ponderous bodies and their strong wings.

My muscles have grown stiff these last few months.  Since I have no regular place to go each morning, I walk from my first floor to my loft and sit for hours on end.  But I’ve needed these weeks to let my brain adjust to the assault on its complacency.  I’ve been thinking about this move as an escape; sometimes as an affront to my son’s childhood; but only recently have I realized that it’s an evolutionary twist.  What everyone assumed I would always be has now fallen away, and I’m becoming something else.

I’ve spent the last six decades defining myself by my shortcomings.  I had help with this; I’ve been given a lot of vile labels over the years.  I’ve even been told by someone who professed to love me that I was too damaged for him to remain by my side.  At the time, I fell silent for a full five minutes before I nodded and acknowledged that I understood.  I had not expected his love, and I was stunned but not particularly surprised by his desertion.  After all, I knew my limits.

But other memories have crowded those sad exposures of my decline.  One in particular rises from the mud to soothe me.  My son and I ascended from the first floor pre-school to the second floor elementary school on his first day of kindergarten.  I had been struggling with inexplicable illness, the opening volley of a four-year slide into catastrophe.  Patrick raised his face to mine and asked if I would die before he got to be big.

I stopped climbing and crouched beside my son.  No, Buddy, I assured him.  I’m going to live to be 103, and I’m going to nag you every day of your life.  He reflected on my promise before replying, Then I’m going to annoy YOU every day of YOUR life.  We continued up the stairs, satisfied with our pact with one another.

I’m turning 63 this year.  I have forty years to go.  That should be time enough for my wings to unfurl so I can soar.

It’s the fourteenth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


In Memory Of A Great Man


8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018


And the wind rose

In mid-afternoon, I sat in my rocker on the porch of my tiny house.  On the stool beside me, a small plate held slices of apple and a scoop of hummus.  I understand that few find my particular dietary selections to be of interest.  But such are the vagaries of the human condition; my nectar sours your stomach.

The sun glowed around me.  I made a few phone calls, and sent a few messages.  My list of obligations had slowly been whittled to a handful — a client teleconference, an explanatory e-mail, the review of another attorney’s comments on a judgment.  My son’s special ring trilled on the phone sitting on the rail; we talked for a few minutes.  After that conversation, a small smile lingered on my face; flickered, really, before the inevitable fade.

And then the wind rose.  Soft clouds gathered.  The heady smell of a gathering spring rain danced around me.  The owl’s hoot came early; and the crow cawed; and a smattering of small birds glided across the horizon, over the river, and out of sight.

Sometimes I cannot reconcile the ease of this place with the damaged heart fluttering in my breast.  I’m constantly admonished to be positive, to look forward, to let the past lie undisturbed.  The joy of others pleases me, even if I do not necessarily want to stare at its bright contours.  Make no mistake — I accept what comes to me, and I do not cling with bitter fury to any crumbled dreams.  I like what lies at hand.  But the jagged contours of my square self strain against the smoothness of the round hole in which I’ve been jammed; at least, at times.  At times.

So I will watch the river flow alongside the park.  I will walk on its edges and marvel at its steady current. I will journey to the ocean and gather my shawl around me, the shawl which I bought to take the place of one stolen from me in the city.  The sound of the waves will bring the peace which often eludes me.  I’ll carry the gentle ministrations of the mother sea back to the Delta, and abide as long as I can, while the wind dances, and the musky fragrance of the earth drifts through my open window each morning.

It’s the twelfth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


Dedicated to the loving and lovely Ruthie Becker.

To Anyone Who Is Not Me

Brace yourself, people.  I’m on the warpath.  Oh not really.  But I’ve got a few things to say and I will not mince words.

If you are not-me, you have no idea what happens inside my skin every day.  You can’t experience the misfiring of my neuro-transmissions, the re-routing of my brain’s pathways, or the clenching of these spastic muscles.  You don’t know what my eyes have seen, what visions still haunt me, or why I step a certain way — actually or metaphorically.  You can’t assume you understand what challenges I face.  You don’t push against the stream which swallows me or the wind which batters me.

I don’t know what you have to overcome, either — nor where your journey has taken you.  I understand the impact of trauma, of glory, of grief and goodness.  But I do not know the subtleties of your particular configuration of life, and you don’t know mine.

Do not judge me.

In turn, I will not judge you.

I might decide that you threaten me, or that you thrill me.  I might sense a certain compatibility of our principles and interests.  On the other hand, I might jerk back from you as though you’ve seared my fingertips until the prints would no longer show under the closest of scrutiny.  I’ll let one tear trickle down my cheek at the loss of what I felt could have been such a spectacular friendship.  Then I will turn on my heel and walk away.

But if you stand silently before me, with your hand outstretched, and a soft expression on your face, I will not turn from you.  If you show me your fear, your trust, your open-hearted wonder, I will not close my own heart to your entreaty.

I will not judge you even if I make a decision about whether your impact on my life can be called beneficial.  I might label your behavior, but I do not confuse your self with how you act.  At the same time, I will not try to explain or justify my decisions for myself, even if what I choose to do invokes your scorn.

You are not me. I am not you.  What you do might shock or sadden me. What I do might sicken you.  We face our own demons and welcome our own angels.

I’m moved to mention this because I’ve recently experienced the caustic criticism of me by people who cannot fathom why I fear what I fear and avoid what I cannot handle.  Events which those folks dismiss as ridiculous often distress me.  I am not complaining about their judgment of me, I am merely observing that no one can entirely understand who I am because no one is “me”

I accept that some think I should be unafraid of shadows.   I’m not asking for your sympathy but neither will I accept your condemnation.  And I carry a flashlight everywhere I go.  I know my limitations but I also push them.  It’s a gift that I give myself — I do not punish myself for being frightened of the darkness, but I challenge myself to dispel the gloom.

It’s the tenth day of the fifty-first month of My Year Without Complaining.  Life continues.


The Sunshine Blogger Award: My Thanks

Thank you to NICOLE THIBODEAU for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award.    She truly honors me.  I reprint here the rules of the blog and her questions to me, from her entry:



1. Thank the person who nominated you.

2. Answer the questions from the person who has nominated you.

3. Nominate other bloggers for the award.

4. Write the same amount of questions for the bloggers you have nominated.

5. Notify the bloggers you have nominated.

QUESTIONS FOR [me from Nicole]::

  1. What is one of the most exciting things that has happened to you?  I would have to say that the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me was wind-surfing.  I was told that I could not wind-surf because I was “crippled” (this was 1979 when ‘crippled’ was still what I was considered).  I promptly demanded to be allowed to do so.  One of our party in sailing that day offered to assist.  He got the wind-surfboard leveled with the boat, stood on it and steadied it while I stepped onto it, and held it until I announced ‘ready’.  Then he eased off the board and cheered me for the thirty seconds that I managed to remain upright.  Oh my gosh!  So cool.
  2. Who is one of your favorite authors?  My favorite author is Miles Franklin.  I prefer “My Brilliant Career”, the first book, to “The End of My Brilliant Career”.  The writing flows quite naturally.  The character could be someone who has come to tea and talked longingly of her imaginary life.
  3. What advice would you give your younger self?  Two words:  Smile More.
  4. Do you like to use the Oxford Comma? Not only do I use the Oxford comma, but I shudder at the mere thought of the continued existence of anyone who does not.
  5. Should vampires sparkle?  If they wish to do so, yes.
  6. Are unicorns real? (If not, why?)  Certainly.  You’ve seen them, haven’t you? In your child’s room?  In a book?  As a sticker on a window?  Flickering across the television screen?  Have you seen the Pope, the President, the Queen?  In the same venues as unicorns, no doubt — presenting to you as images in print, on a postcard, as part of a documentary?  Are they real?
  7. Do fairies exist? (If not, why?)  Either fairies exist or my mother had a bizarre habit of collecting her children’s teeth and exchanging them for quarters.  Given how poor we were, I certainly do not believe for one moment that my mother could afford to pay for the teeth of eight children without a subsidy.
  8. Describe the most elaborate dessert you have ever eaten.  First of all, this dessert provided the crescendo to a seven-course, five-hour dinner on a boat in the Boston Harbor.  A ship turned into a restaurant, that is.  Secondly, it consisted of a shell of delicate chocolate inside of which something gold and delicious shimmered, and the outside of which involved a smattering of crunchiness which might have been hazelnut or solidified nectar for all I know.   You did not so much want to eat it as to study it and genuflect to its creator.
  9. If you could have dinner with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?  My mother.  NO question.
  10. What is the most appealing shade of purple? (If you dislike purple, please explain why.)  The color of the edge of a fairy’s wings and the tiniest tip of a unicorn’s horn.
  11. Describe your favorite sweater.  My current favorite sweater stretches to my knees.  It is a muddy brown color, thin, with buttons almost but not quite too small for my lily-white spastic hands.  When I wear it, I feel as though I have donned a blanket.  It hides my imperfections but also so closely resembles an actual coat that I feel appropriate anywhere I go.  It might be magical.  Like, maybe it’s an invisibility cloak only instead of making me disappear, it makes me seem normal to anyone who sees me.


I will think about whom to nominate and my questions, and post a follow-up entry tomorrow.  Be well everyone.  Sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Mugwumpishly tendered,

Corinne Corley