It’s a Steely Dan sort of day.

It’s technically fall, at least in other parts of the universe outside Southern California: here, the leaves on most trees have done a smashing impersonation of certain moths, fish, or other short-lived creatures; they’ve tossed themselves, headlong to the ground in death, creating a foundation of birth and growth for grass, while their now-nude trees reach their empty (or, as is the case of my trees, partially empty) arms to the sun to grasp birth in the tips of their limbs that will yield new leaves, soon. Sooner than we probably want to recognize, since winter lasts a brief, rainy moment here.

Despite its fleeting nature, I love fall. It’s my favorite season.

It stays dark longer, it’s cooler, and there are so many wonderful things to make and eat for fall holidays.

Fall makes me think a lot.

I used to write many words in fall; they would bombard my sleeping and waking hours. I’d have to keep the book light, a pencil, and a notebook on the floor next to the bed.

Now, not so much.

Like an old car engine that’s been found in the back lot under a pile of undisturbed fallen leaves, my creativity comes, in fits and starts, spitting and grumbling to life when it sees fit to do so.

Often for short spurts.

Did I mention I’ve written now two screenplays?

One is a full-length (123 pages, including the cover as I may have mentioned elsewhere) and the other is a short (about 35 pages, including the cover).

But before either of those, I’d written a pilot script (about 90 pages, if memory serves), so I guess that makes three screenplays, doesn’t it.

I submitted the full-length one to a program that helps develop screenplay writers. I didn’t get selected, but they take new mentees each month.

I am nervous about submitting the short because the other two submissions I’ve done have resulted in 1) no interest (the pilot) and 2) a ‘not this time’ (the full-length).

I feel exposed, like the limbs of the trees.


Aw, it’s a trash panda … isn’t he just the cutest? (image courtesy:

I feel like I need to be un-disguised.

In so many ways.

A raccoon, sure. He is a master of disguise, isn’t he, with those innocent-looking eyes and little hands.

I think I’ve shared this story before, but Christopher had the best raccoon story, ever. And he could tell it in such a way that anyone listening couldn’t help but doubling over with laughter and resultant tears. His telling was so funny that you’d want to hit him for making your stomach hurt so bad from laughing. It was so funny that the telling would come back to you later and you’d be doubled over again, even though he was nowhere around it it could be days or weeks later.

I still giggle at the idea of the raccoon story, of my memories of Christopher telling it.

The short of it, which isn’t nearly as funny — as if I could have a hope of telling it as he did — was that he once had a landlord who had a pet raccoon. The landlord would bring the raccoon with him when he did repairs to the apartment, inspections, or to collect the rent. The raccoon happily obliged by getting into everything, because the landlord let him off the leash. The raccoon would explore all the items on the coffee table and swipe them onto the floor; open drawers and drop contents out; reach into the fish tank and try to catch fish. In other words, he completely destroyed an otherwise peaceful apartment in about five minutes flat. And the landlord didn’t care.

Those eyes, those hands. Innocent? Perhaps. But they could be concealing the rabies …

Fall is also my time for watching old films. I spent much of the weekend with Arkoff and various American International Pictures, like Vincent Price in ‘The Bat’; one of the characters in that film says ‘the rabies’. I love that.

But I digress. The disguise of the raccoon could conceal all sorts of things.

Just like people.

I want to be un-disguised.

I’ve thought about going back to my maiden name.

I have had several moments in life where I regretted not keeping it, even as a replacement for my middle name. After the first marriage, I considered it, I think.

Or maybe I was too shell-shocked.

I know I considered it later though.

I didn’t do it because 1) it costs to reclaim your name (the nerve… I mean, it is/was mine; why should I have to pay to take it back?) and 2) because my son has that name. I wouldn’t want to remove him from his name. Or I guess, remove me from his name, his only living connection to the name he was given at birth.

But then, he doesn’t know the origin of that name. Sure, he wears it because it’s his. But he was so young when his father died and has had no interest in knowing anything about him.

I asked and he said he didn’t want to know. I respected that but still have videos and photos, in case he changes his mind one day.

So, I kept the name and appended it with my second married name.

It’s fall and I wonder if, like the trees, I need to drop my leaves.

What will be left if I do?

I will be laid bare, back to my origins.

The names will fall to the earth to fertilize new life.

Or will they?

Or will I shed more than the vestiges of past lives. Will I separate myself from who I’ve been to so many others? Will I separate myself from my son, for whom names are like a shirt to don or remove at will?

He went through a spell where he hyphenated his name as well, wearing his ‘second dad’ when it suited him.

He undressed me similarly, dropping my hyphen when it suited him and leaving me with just one name that matched his.

I felt quite under-dressed when he did. Nearly nude to the world even. Like those darned trees …

And so I wonder what it would feel like to strip fully bare, back to basics, back to the name of my birth.

Is that starting over?

Is that what it feels like, to come out of hibernation, having dropped the weight of spring whilst sleeping?

I wonder.

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