Archive for October, 2012


One of the great results of doing deep inner work in your writing life is the discovering.  When you write you uncover and look at your life with a new set of lens.  Sometimes you may discover strengths that you never really knew you had. Sometimes you discover the dark parts of your life as well.

What I try to remember is that is is the light and the dark that creates the me of today.  Writing gives me the opportunity to see what it is about me that I like and make that more a part of me.  But it also allows me to look at the side of my life that I may not be proud of.  It reminds me that I am a work in progress and that it is through the discovering that I can start healing.

Take the time today to examine your life…look at your life with love

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Mondays with Melitas – October 29, 2012


Two years ago when the election for Governor of our State was going

on, I wrote this memoir, and now it seems to fit right in for this election; so read on, my Friends.



With the recent elections just behind us, I have been thinking that perhaps I should run for some public office. Right off the bat, however, I ruled out Congress, or the Senate, or even President because I would never put myself in a position to have to endure the winters in Washington D.C. If they were to transfer the Capitol to California, I would definitely be interested and give it some very serious thought. I am a home-grown Orange County- kind- of gal, and have never shoveled one ounce of snow – lots of ice cubes, though, in my day. I could set my sights on running for the La Quinta City Council; more exactly, the Mayor’s position might be to my liking. Or I could run for County Supervisor, or even County Tax Collector would be nice. As far as the State is concerned, I know I could help in the Assembly or Senate. My brain is only running on 4 out of 8 cylinders, but that appears to be more than ample gray matter for those positions. Governor should be considered also, while I’m at it. I would have to round up a campaign committee, and my very first Rule of the campaign would be that there would be no mud-slinging coming out of my camp. My opponents can do all the bad-mouthing they want if that’s what makes them happy and feel good about themselves. I would not rebut them by revealing their errors in judgment like cheating on the wife or husband, as the case may be, or that they had smoked pot – but didn’t inhale- or had been slapped with a DUI, or they hadn’t paid their taxes, and on and on and on. I will just stick to the facts and tell the people what I stand for, and how I will do my best to correct the problems that we face in government —–and there are plenty of outrageous problems. So there is plenty of stuff to talk about without dragging the transgressions and dumb decisions of my opponents into the fray.

Remember that old saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” well both State and National governments are really broke and desperately need fixing. And that is putting it mildly. I feel, with all my years of experience, I could possibly come up with some common sense ideas to help.

But wait a darn minute — all of sudden out of the blue a memory appeared that has dropped like an atomic bomb to forever shut me out of running for a public office.

Back in 1966, I bought the México Lindo restaurant in San Juan Capistrano. It was located on the little side street next to the railroad depot.

 It was very popular, the food was very tasty and widely received, the Margaritas were world renowned; we had six Mariachis playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights, and then they would leave for their homes in Tijuana or Tecate, to return on the following Friday. The building was 2-story, and I remember when the family built it in the 1930’s. A Basque couple with 2 kids, a boy and girl. The wife, Prudencia, often worked for my Aunt Mae as housekeeper and cook. The second floor was spacious as their living quarters — huge living room across the front of the building with dining area, then a kitchen, 4 bedrooms, and bath. They operated the first floor as a run-of-the-mill small restaurant, and pretty soon Dr. Sparkle (his real name) came along and bought the property and added a huge dining room on the west side of the building, and named it the “México Lindo Restaurante Extraordinario,” but it was more popularly known as just the “México Lindo.”

The Mariachis used 2 of the bedrooms on weekends — 2 of them had local girlfriends whom they bunked with. I used one of the bedrooms as office — furnished with a desk, a floor safe, and an adding machine. I can hear my audience — if there is one — getting all bent out of shape and wondering what all this México Lindo story has to do with “No Public Office.” If you were counting, you would have figured out that 3 of the 4 upstairs bedrooms were occupied, and this is the crux of the story coming up.

Graciela was the cook who came with the purchase — she was great, but she had other plans for her future; and so, with my approval, she was teaching a young Mexican girl all her “secret” recipes for the taco meat, the chile rellenos, the chile verde, the Albondigas soup, etc. — the entire menu in order to take over. Elena, who may have been 20 years old, maybe….. took that 4th bedroom upstairs, and was elevated to chief cook, and all was well on Verdugo Street in San Juan Capistrano.

In the meantime, I have to bring in another player to this little saga — Eddie, was a sales clerk at my liquor store around the corner on the main drag, Camino Capistrano. When he finished his shift at the liquor store, he would often drop by to hang out with Elena in the kitchen, yakking away, as he would help her clean up and close off the kitchen for the night — they were just great pals, no romance involved.

One Sunday night, much to my consternation, the BORDER PATROL appeared on the horizon — two officers in their military-green patrol vehicle — and very politely removed my precious cook, packing her up  with all her worldly possessions, which included a huge life-sized, stuffed Teddy Bear…… and that’s the picture I have when they were driving away with my Elena, with such a forlorn, teary-eyed look and Teddy Bear, bigger than life sitting beside her in the back seat with her stuff piled high around her. I was nonplussed to say it nicely. And there was Eddie stepping up to the plate to address the problem, telling me that he would have her back the next morning. Indeed he had her back Monday morning in time to start her shift for the lunch hour…..with Mr. Teddy Bear in tow.

Several months passed, and the Border Patrol would show up once in awhile — always on a Sunday night after the kitchen was closed, and they would cart off my Elena , and Eddie would go retrieve her and have her back the following Monday morning along with Teddy Bear. At some point, I thought I’d better go to Tijuana so I would know where to find her, just in case…. So the next time the Border Patrol showed up, Eddie went with me in my ‘67 Cadi to show me where her home was. It was several miles to the east from downtown Tijuana, past the old horse-racing venue, into an area of poverty-stricken shacks, dirt floors — the whole “enchilada,” so to speak. After that rescue mission, I came up with a plan to end all this back and forth scene. Eddie’s tires were probably wearing thin, so here’s what I  told him: “Eddie. you are going to marry Elena — no ifs, ands or buts — and the sooner, the better ……..for ALL concerned.

Eddie quickly agreed probably being fearful that I would fire him from the liquor store if he didn’t. ( I swear I did not even hint of such a possibility, even though it did cross my mind that I did have that ace in the hole in case I ran into any hurdles.) Also, he realized he would really not be supporting her — that would be a part of the “prenuptual.” Elena was most agreeable. At this point she had a boyfriend, and he was not very legal either. So it turned out to be a marriage of convenience for the good of the Mexico Lindo, not exactly made in heaven, but by a very determined boss who was sick and tired of the BORDER PATROL interrupting business as usual, and having to face the sight of Mr Teddy Bear leaving one more time.

So Elena, with boyfriend as best man, and Eddie with his bald tires went off to Santa Ana for a license, and there they were joined in matrimony.

Somehow, I don’t think the judge mentioned “holy.”

I knew everything would end up like the last page of a good novel. My brilliant answer to the dilemma made me extremely proud. Eddie was happy with a raise in salary, and I had known he was gay all along. Elena was happy, she had moved in with the boyfriend, and didn’t have to pack  up her precious Mr. Teddy Bear, alleviating a lot of wear and tear from all those trips back and forth across the border. Through all this I never did know the name she had for him.

I now had a legal cook. Life was good.

Now 40 or 50 years later, 10 or 12 years into the new millenium, there I would be running a very nice, clean campaign for Governor — remember, no mud- or sex-slinging, and I have won all the debates, mainly because I could put my opponent to sleep while droning on and on, and he has hopelessly lost his train of thought. I am comfortably ahead by at least 10 points in the popularity polls. Life is good.

And whaddya know, somehow from out of nowhere, some smart ass in the enemy camp has dug up that old scenario from the México Lindo. I am immediately called a criminal for having aided and abetted an illegal immigrant, and crossed over, not just a state border, but a National Border, sneaking her into California from México.

I can feel the Huevos Rancheros* sliding down my face and landing on my chic campaign ensemble.

Life is now ROTTEN, and for sure there is NO PUBLIC OFFICE FOR ME. Not in this lifetime…..

Translation for English only readers:

*Huevos rancheros = Translation for all the gringos** = EGGS, Mexican style.

** gringos = Translation: = All the peoples who do not understand Español.***

***Español = Spanish


To this day, I have always wondered why the BORDER PATROL only showed up on Sunday nights, and not on a Friday or Saturday when the place was jumping. It would have killed us to witness the scene of Elena exiting the premises in the midst of the dinner hour, along with Mr. Teddy Bear — looking more bedraggled than ever. And, for sure, life would have been much, much more rotten. However, for all I know the B. P. may have shown up and they couldn’t find a parking place.


November 10, 2010.


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Creative Energies Combined…









This past weekend I hosted a writing conference featuring New York Times best selling author Jennifer Lauck.  The fabulous author of the memoir Blackbird and three other amazing books.  The women who attending Jennifer’s three day intensive workshop may have been exhausted after these three days, but they walked away with so much. 

I first met Jennifer when she was our keynote speaker at the Second Annual Women Inspiring Women Conference last January.  She wowed the audience and the friendship that has developed is one that I cherish. 

I love Jennifer like a sister and I am grateful for the working relationship we both enjoy with each other. 

On Friday night another incredible force to be reckoned with, Maggie Downs joined us for dinner.  Maggie is in the MFA program at UCR and will be writing one incredibly fabulous book in the near future.  Being surrounded by these two (tall) and incredibly talented creative women was so much fun. 

Listening to their stories and sharing a bottle (or two) of wine was a beautiful way to spend an evening in Palm Springs.

If you missed out on Jennifer’s workshop, no worries as she will be presenting more amazing classes next April. 

Have you been inspired lately and if so by who? 

Are you looking to get involved in some great workshops, stop and take a look at the class offerings I will be presenting this next month.  Workshops are being offered on Tuesdays, Wednesday evenings and Thursdays. 

Coming this Saturday, November 3rd is a workshop at Heritage Palms Country Club from 10-2 entitled Finding the You in Your Writing.  The cost of the Saturday class is $65.00 which includes all workshop materials and lunch.  Email me for more information at

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Guest blog by Diana Densmore

Last week in my Memoirist’s Essay class the focus was on the topic of Spirituality.  This is the piece Diana wrote for the class, I know you will enjoy it!
The subject of forgiveness usually addresses forgiving others for transgressions against ourselves. It can be hard to be forgiving, but I am learning that forgiving myself is even harder. Unbidden, flashbacks of my pitiful weaknesses from years gone by will come over me and I am once again condemning myself for one selfish act or another. For example, I am very hard on myself regarding my sporadic attention to my parents in their last years.
My dear friend Shirley was a wonderful example of daughterly devotion; she would call her aging mother every morning at 7:30 a.m. to check on her. This small sacrifice of her time, before she went off to work each morning, was a ritual for her that put her mind at ease about her mom’s well-being. At that time, my own aging parents, who lived only ten minutes away, were lucky to hear from me once a week. I could hear the hurt in their voices when I did call, making my feeble excuses of busyness for my neglect of them. I was very focused on other responsibilities: a high stress job (excuse #1), the challenges of mothering (excuse #2), keeping a household running and even volunteering at church (excuses #3 and 4); I didn’t give priority to my parents. Only when their declining health demanded my presence did I rearrange my priorities.
Products of the depression era, my parents valued their independence, both financially and personally. Asking for help went against the grain! Owning their own home free and clear was an example of what they had achieved through hard work and commitment to family. They never wanted to leave that house, nor did they ever want to become a burden on their kids. But they could not see their way to spend money for someone to come in occasionally to clean or maintain it. They wouldn’t allow any of us to pay for a service either. They were financially able to hire a helper, but their pride would not allow them to act on it. Moving to assisted living? Forget about it.
Reasoning with aging parents is a skill that takes practice and endurance, and I just couldn’t break out of my role of being the child with no power over them. Their house was slowly becoming unhealthy for them. I would occasionally clean toilets and wash some dishes, but a deep cleaning was called for. And then “things” began to pile up. Dad rode his bicycle around the neighborhood every morning, bringing home castoffs on trash days. He had a huge pile of aluminum items in their back yard, which he would work on recycling. But the pile never got any smaller, because he kept bringing home more items. Old lawn chairs were his best treasures. He would replace the webbing on some of them and keep them, but others were stripped and taken to the recycling center for cash. It is what he loved doing.
Inside their home, old newspapers and magazines were all around. Dad saved every crossword puzzle from the daily newspaper because Mom liked to work them. He had months and months of those newspaper pages, stacked on an end table, waiting for her to need them. That pile never changed size either. Small appliances needing repair waited for Dad’s attention; clocks, toasters, you name it, Dad could fix it. But he was running way behind in the task. It was overwhelming to me to walk in to their once tidy home and feel helpless about getting something done.
By the time my mother was terminally ill with kidney disease, I tried to come a few times a week to cook dinner for them. They did try out meals on wheels for a month or two, but they soon declined it because the food “had no flavor” and they didn’t want to waste it. The aluminum containers those meals came in were also stacked and saved in a cupboard.
During those hectic years, I was definitely a paying member of the sandwich generation. Now that I am retired and have time to reflect, I feel guilty for not doing more, being there more, when my parents needed more time than their kids were giving. I wonder about my own future battles with aging and disease and hope I can avoid being a burden myself to our daughter. For now though, I need to firmly remind myself to hand this burden off to my heavenly Father. Self-forgiveness is a really hard thing to put into practice. But, I am trying; really trying.
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Watch a 30 minute show on TV featuring me and a few of my students!

If you live locally you can view the Patti Patane show featuring me and a few of my students! 

The show will be aired for the first time on Sunday, October 28th at 7 am.

Cable channel 14.

There will be a link on Patti’s site as well:



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"Because of Tammy I have found confidence in my writing and feel blessed to be honored in such a way. I have found my voice. I have found freedom! I recommend anyone for whatever reason to expand their life and sign up for her writing workshops or classes. You'll be amazed at how good you are and how everyone has a story worth telling. Sign up and set your voice free!"
Wendy Price, Palm Desert, CA

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Amherst Writers & Artists

Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.

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