is going from my 2500 square foot five-bedroom home with a garage movie theater, private garden and roomy front porch  into a 265 square foot bedroom without a kitchen.  It’s not permanent, but there is no end date either.

The big house we converted into a Vacation Rental as a means of income, and so I had to move out a month and two weeks ago.  My room, I coined the Wild West Room, is brick red. I covered the walls with yellow and red original movie posters, and furnished it with a slot machine, two tables, two lamps, a TV with western saddle draped over it, a double bed, and a four drawer plastic dresser. The closet is tiny; so I only brought my best summer clothes; twenty hangers is all.

Waking up to have coffee on my petite patio laced with roses and a canopy of vines, settles my nerves after the mini coffee maker falls off the edge of the sink, and other accidental maneuvers. Living in a doll house requires tremendous gentleness, one swift wrong move, and things start tumbling.

My refrigerator has inspired a new diet. I call it the mini-frig diet. I can fit one bottle of wine, one 8oz bottled smoothie, one juice, my Aloe Vera, cream, three condiments: green chili, horseradish mayonnaise, Red Chili Jelly,  a small tub of washed lettuce or spinach, two cheeses, tortillas, olives, tomatoes, smoked salmon or chicken strips and that’s it.

The only catch is that it is in arms length of the bed, and within four feet of anywhere in the room.  Snacking is just part of the atmosphere.My own unimportant theory on eating, is I eat less poison if there is a bowl of chocolate covered nuts, gummy bears, and chips in the house.

I prefer to eat on dishes then paper, so I wash them in the bathroom sink, but I wash the delicate wine glass when I’m showering.  All my meals, usually one a day, are outdoors on the patio, under the new Overstock.com umbrella that works perfectly.  I’ve had a great experience with them on a return as well.

My house faces a busy street in Santa Fe, NM. The street connects upper Eastside to the downtown Plaza, and across the street is the La Posada Resort and Spa.  I can walk to the gym, and pool, survey the clientèle, drink wine in the bar, and talk to the staff at the front desk.  I’m there everyday; and as ying goes with a yang, I tolerate their side of the street being the loading zone. There are pick-ups, and drop-offs, and a lot of racket that I bear with my earplugs.

It’s in the high nineties, and we’re in a stable between three burning fires. The heat clings to me, like a saran-wrap;  it’s also sort of Chaplinesque.  I keep changing; to go on the patio.  I can’t go in a slip, so I change a lot. Then there’s the marvelous terrifically considerate and talented guests in my house. They are three principal musicians’, with the Santa Fe Opera this season.  When I water I hear them practicing.   0627131541a

My shrunken life has forced me out more, eliminated hours of cleaning, shaved time off dressing, rearranging furniture, over-achieving unimportant tasks, watching the birds in their nest, and feeling complacent.

That is the most important of all; I realize it is time to bolster up, make sacrifices, and use this little room as the place to write my way out of here.  I see myself in Portugal, or some place I still haven’t discovered.  This miniature living reminds me of the first studio I rented in Los Angeles.  You can’t imagine what progress came from that disappointing address, at the corner of Little Santa Monica and Westwood Boulevard. ‘ Que sera sera.’


I feel myself crossing the double yellow line,

into the lane of a demon woman and full of hellish fire. It is the line that divides those that still care from those that just, whatever.  

Never thought I’d be a don’t care, no dreamer, no hope woman
but I am there.  What is God telling me? What is the message?

Why am I meeting pitiful people? Do they reflect me?
Do they mimic me? Do breasts mean everything?
Was my youth my only charm?

Why are men blocking instead of
buying me drinks?

Why do they
prick, instead of prune?

Only when they are detonated with insults do they respond.
Is the strong female driven Hollywood character
emblazoning every commercial, film, ad, and song
Stolen the testosterone?

I am going to look for the eighties woman I was. She was

full of laughter, confidence, romance and aspiration.



Reader View: Random chats make life sweeter




Posted: Saturday, June 8, 2013 10:00 pm



One day at a time. People with terminal illness, suffering from a shattered romance, a death of a friend, a natural disaster, always say the same thing: One day at a time.

Walking up Palace Avenue on a day spread with sunlight, and a continuum of power walkers, bikers and runners, passing by in whiffs of urgency, I took my time. I didn’t feel like flexing, just evaporating into the shadows and the moving clouds. I walked by a little adobe that once was a dump site for empty bottles, cartons, worn-out furniture and piles of wood. A year later, the yard is almost condominium clean. Just as I was passing the driveway, the little woman whom I’d seen walking up Palace with her bag of groceries, appeared like a gust of history in the driveway of her adobe casita. She wore her heavy, blanket-like coat and a bandanna on her head. Regardless of weather, she’s bundled up in the same woven Indian coat and long wool skirt. I stood next to her, a foot or so taller, and she unraveled history, without my prompting. She told me about the Martinez family, the Montoyas and the Abeytas, all families she knew, all with streets named after them.

Estelle asked me my name, and then took my hand in her weathered unyielding grip, “Oh, I had an Aunt named Lucero, and we called her LouLou.” She didn’t let go of my hand, and then she told me that the families, some names I’ve forgotten, bought homes on Palace in 1988 for $50,000, She shook her finger to demonstrate her point. “You know how many houses they bought? Five! Then they fixed them up and sold them.”

I could have stood there in the gravel driveway listening to Estelle all afternoon. She owns the oral history I love to record; but it is difficult to understand her, she talks with the speed of a Southwest wind. We parted and I thought about the times in my life when the smallest of interactions elevates my spirit. In older people, who are not addicted to gadgets and distant intimacy, I’m reminded of how speed socializing has diminished the opportunity for a sidewalk chat.

Luellen “LouLou” Smiley is a creative nonfiction writer and award-winning newspaper columnist.









I wasn’t allowed in the Copa when the Rat Pack performed; I listened to the uproar

The Sands 1963
The Sands 1963 (Photo credit: D’oh Boy (Mark Holloway))

from outside the door, and caught a glimpse when Uncle Jack let someone in. It was a wild charade of slapstick, improvisation, and politically incorrect slurs, swearing and insults, all dressed up in comedic song and dance.

That’s how I remembered Las Vegas. When I returned for the grand opening of the Mob Experience Las Vegas,  I bounced into the spot lights, press conferences,

introductions, and interviews in a shiny aquamarine pants suit, I hadn’t worn in six years. Congregating with the sons and daughters of my Dad’s associates, who were raised in a similar fashion of privilege and secrecy, was my homecoming to

Las Vegas. There I was, speaking into a microphone about my father, who obsessed over me, as I was now doing in Las Vegas. What was the importance of this seventeen year battle? To re write history that was written about him, by people who never even met him. They couldn’t get the camera off of me, “Luellen, we’ll turn it over to the station now,” while I am still stating the case of Allen Smiley. What would Meyer and Dad and Roselli think of all this. They’d say, “Wish the Brain (Arnold Rothstein) could have seen this racket.