29 December 2006

Oh God...

I’m sitting here near mid-day avoiding the to do list of life. The great and wonderous Emma Goldman wrote that women need to live simpler, yet richer and deeper lives. We can each take that to mean whatever we need it to mean, I suppose. At one time in my life this meant abandoning to do lists altogether and changing my ideas of accomplishment and success to be who I am and what I strive toward becoming with regard to my internal life. Lately it’s about moving out a kind of paralysis – a paralysis that was crucial toward accomplishing the task of stopping smoking – of sitting and doing nothing and not smoking, of weathering boredom and not smoking, etc. Now that I’ve proven I can do that after three years, I’m sort of bored. So I wonder, what am I avoiding, exactly, except my own fulfillment? (How did brushing my teeth become a metaphor for fulfillment? Heh.. I’m kidding.)

I was nearly through Son of a Witch (the sequel to Wicked, the story of the Elphaba, Oz’s wicked witch of the West) when I hit a stand still. I’d been so enjoying it and in to the story and I got distracted by something… I’m not sure what. There’s a few lines that have struck me. Here’s one:

People say “my God!” all the time, but usually they mean, “oh shit.”

And here’s another:

A capacity for interiority in the growing adult is threatened by the temptation to squander that capacity ruthlessly, to revel in hollowness. The syndrome especially plagues anyone who lives behind a mask. An Elephant in her disguise as a human princess, a Scarecrow with painted features, a glittering tiara under which to glow and glide in anonymous glamour. A witch’s hat, a Wizard’s showbiz display, a cleric’s stole, a scholar’s gown, a soldier’s dress sartorials. A hundred ways to duck the question: how will I live with myself now that I know what I know?”

How will I, indeed! And I think to some degree we all live behind masks that we work at slowly peeling off so that we may reveal ourselves and feel both known and loved. Even when we don’t even know we’re wearing them.. then suddenly we realize, oh look, I’ve had this silly thing on all my life… it’s not so muggy and I can sure see more clearly now that I’ve thought to take that wretched disguise off…. Here I am. Wow. Who’d a thunk. And sometimes, strangely, we suddenly slip into something we never had on before, like waking up in tennis shoes (that’s weird) glued to our feet. How ever did that happen?

And I think Oh God! (and yes, I really mean oh shit) and find myself in search of the right strength of solvent.. something to loosen off the shoes but not so powerful as to wrench the skin from my bones. There’s the rub, eh? It’s all about the right solvent. If it scars, it’s too strong.

And what is this kind of pyschological (dare I say, spiritual?) solvent, this thing with the strength to strip us down to precisely who we are but not so strong as to destroy us? Is there really some precise science to the whole thing? Is the pursuit of this tangential question a mere reveling in the hollowness? (I think, yes!… and I so love to think yes!) And I think Oh God!, and I’d like to believe I meant something better…. But I probably don’t really…

It’s not really all so heady. It’s time to act, not sit in melancholy ponderings. It’s time to be, not think. Throw caution to the wind… it’s a new year…. Jump!

27 December 2006


For those of you wondering how I’ve been, wonder is a neat place to be. I think I’ve had a touch of the season affective disorder. Who is the hell hasn’t? Who in the hell doesn’t? There’s no sunlight, how could we not be despondent, forlorn and withdrawn for fuck sake? (We being the royal we….)

13 December 2006


I’m off to Palm Springs for a few days. While I haven’t been journaling much these days, I have been reading ferociously. I’ll miss the missives of your daily lives while I’m away. I’ve so much to tell and yet so little. I’ve been on the road a great deal, mostly to the Eastern seaboard and the seats of power. I’ve met some interesting people. I’m dedicated to not bringing my computer – being tech-free these next four days. Ed will keep down the fort with the Honey Bee while I’m traipsing about the desert and hanging with mom and ‘em.

27 November 2006

On Beauty

In every book I read there is a line, sometimes two or three, that can’t be turned away from. I have to underline them, defile the book, because they are that revealing – they command something in me, in my heart, beyond me. If a book doesn’t have at least one sentence like this, I wonder if it was worth reading at all.

I think I found one or two in Zadie Smith’s On Beauty.

The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.

18 November 2006


Greetings from Baltimore. Indeed the real fun begins tomorrow. Yesterday the conference was interesting. I slept through the morning sessions for the jet lag and the delayed flight due to inclement weather. The afternoon was stellar, however.

Today I holed away in the hotel room and struggled over my presentation for tomorrow. Why it’s taking me so long to pull my thoughts together is beyond me. By the early evening, however, I’d tugged and pulled and braced my weight into it and I think I put the finishing touches on it. I’ll leave it until the morning, find some coffee and review it one more time before printing it out (somehow) and turning it in.

I’ve been looking over the schedule for when I might sneak away to the aquarium or evening wander the waterfront for an hour or two. I feel so stagnant and stifled when I travel. Tomorrow is a big day – presenting a special lecture and later saying words at the awards banquet for one of the two awardees. After that I can sit back and just soak it in and perhaps learn something.

Okay… I’m not very exciting.

12 November 2006


Firstly the NaNoWriMoing isn’t Wri-ing right along. I’ve hit a stand still. I won’t say that I’ve given up (yet?), but progress has ground to a screeching halt – metal against metal, sparks flying. That’s okay. It is what it is. There’s been such a fanfare of activities, holiday this-ing, dinner-thating, lunch in the City, guests, and oh yes, the biggest time-suck of them all, the latest season of the Sopranos is out on DVD.

Secondly, I didn’t mention this business about this old friend of mine hitting the bottom of the cage a few weeks back now. I say old friend as in former friend – he wasn’t old and he was no longer a friend. I’ve tried to write about it, but everything that comes out sounds petty and stupid and crazy. I didn’t attend the memorial (which was yesterday) mainly out of respect for his wishes. Though some contend that his wishes might have changed over time, I made the mistake of acting on those contentions while the dude was still fluttering up on the perch and getting bitch slapped for my good graces. I vowed to never let that happen again – an easy and painless vow to keep.

Without going into a great deal of detail, it’s him that needed to make his peace with the world – it wasn’t me who needed to make peace with him. I’m good with who I am mostly. Or rather, how I’m not good with how I’m walking on this planet, I feel quite fine about how I’m going about figuring that out and setting my feet right on the world. That was his fucked up journey, not mine. They just collided and it was an unfortunate collision from the start.

It’s the tense times, the unpleasantries, that I have a tendency to sit with and try to suck the marrow out of. There are lessons and learning in life that are not painful, even joyful dare I say, but when the lesson is so easy it’s hard to take pause and acknowledge that change and growth happened. When it’s accompanied by pain, that is when you really know you’re alive. It doesn’t make the joyful stuff less meaningful, important or real – it just makes it a little more invisible. When it leave a scar or mars us, there’s some proof it happened. Or so we think in these fallible, silly lives.

I have to say, ultimately it’s like those first oil-streaked pages of the Messiah handbook in Bach’s book, Illusions. If God asked you to sacrifice - your life even – would you do it? And the multitude says, “Glory to be sacrificed, crucified.. honor to be nailed to a cross, tortured and killed!” And then the Messiah says, “And if God asked you to go forth in this world and be happy?” And the crowd goes silent. And he simply says, “I quit” and walks away.

People will endure excruciating pain and discomfort in the name of their God, beliefs and religions – but far fewer will endure their own happiness – far fewer will boldly live in bliss and joy as a way to honor their Gods. I don’t know what that says about people. I don’t know what it says about their Gods. I’m not suggesting that unhappiness, conflict, tension, discontent are all failure. They’re just parts of the road – like being born and dying – they’re merely facts of the journey, places in the sidewalk that we must step. But come on, not every dot on the twister board is red – switch it up people – you have fucking choices and it’s up to you to use them. Poking the same spot in life marked “painful” doesn’t lead to transcendence – it merely dulls the sensation and eventually normalizes it. What good is that?

Anyways. I digress. So another old friend (this time I would say that old infers a longevity to our friendship) was in town from Houston, to attend the memorial, and I fetched her from the City on Friday. We roamed a crest trail with the dog and sat and talked into the evening – about nothing in particular. It was sweet to catch up – to hear – to listen (that one is a talker..heh!) She’s a social worker with chronically homeless folks in Houston and in her late forties has gone back to school into a master’s program for social work and political science. I’m proud of her – she’s beautifully full of conviction and determination and making a better world outside herself and this in turn makes a better world inside herself. She doesn’t make a lot of money (and probably never will) but she is happy. This is so important. She is happy.

We laughed and I quizzed, “is it that Lesbian’s identified that Social Work is a chronically under-paid profession and thus flock to it?” If you want to meet cool chicks, don’t look in the G.A. line, look in professions that pay well below living wages – they are eeking out meager, starving existences in questionable neighborhoods with rampant poverty, high crime rates and slum lords. (Of course that’s not true… well.. it’s sort of not true. You can meet them at softball games too. Okay. I’ll stop. I’m kidding. You know I’m kidding.)

If you’ve ever read Studs Turkel’s Coming of Age it’s not the people who made millions in high-powered business professions who at their end of days look back on a life well lived, content with their contributions and creations. But living in poverty doesn’t guarantee happiness either.

The old friend of which I initially wrote – he didn’t live in poverty, but he also served others, sometimes even selflessly – but he still was such a bitter, miserable, cruel, thankless and unhappy coot. Goes to show you. No guarantees. But then again, maybe he had his proverbial coming to Jesus (I don’t mean that literally.) Maybe he found peace there at the end. I hope so. I genuinely do.

For my own self, in tribute to his life, in tribute to his leaving, to memorialize his time on this earth, I would set to work on peeling a few layer of bitterness from my own life and commit to be kinder and more joyful. That seems like a nice karmic end to the story of our walk on this planet.

I should say, all of this happening now is not an accident. I did not contrive it, but certainly the fates are having a hand in these days.

Wiley is fetching another old friend from Oakland today, who is in town from Philadelphia/New York for a harm reduction conference – in this case old refers to longevity of acquaintance and friend is used loosely. I have a fondness for the woman, I’ve never approached her as a confidante or felt great affection between us however. I like her, I admire the work she has done in the community, she is kind and enthusiastic and has wonderful determination with endless optimism.

She is a natural leader, yet she’s unassuming and non-threatening. It’s fucked up, but strong women who are charismatic and convey strong opinions are eaten alive – every aspect of their personal and professional lives are scrutinized. While men are revered, women are often torn to shreds and fed to the dogs. Somehow she’s escaped this fate by maintaining a down-with-the-people, down-trodden and humble leadership style. Don’t be too outspoken, always play nice with a smile on your face. She’s not ineffective and she really hasn’t sold anything out – she’s adept at flying under the radar screen. I think she’s got something going – if you’re a woman and you’re a leader, it’s best to do that by not letting anyone else realize that you’re leading and not receiving any recognition or credit for what you’re accomplishing. There is something SO fucked up about that. I am so over that. And I’m looking forward to her visit this afternoon.

I leave for Baltimore (the City that Reads – you know, because it tops the nation’s chart in terms of illiteracy rates.. so the town adopts a grammatically ill-conceived ironic motto. Dude, cities don’t read, people do) later this week and by tomorrow have to book ticket for DC the end of the month. I’ll mostly be out of town from now until then, thus my dwindling hopes about the future of my NaNo-ing this month. But maybe the time in hotels will actually be good? Like I say, I won’t write it off (heh) until failure in truly inevitable and staring me down in the 11th hour.

Okay… it’s time to hot tub (verb) until my conference call starts (in 15 minutes, yes on a Sunday) and lasts (excuse me!?!?) for three and a half hours (are you serious!?!) until guests arrive.

I feel like I haven’t wrapped up these trains of thought.. let’s just let ‘em go though the junctions – lights flashing, bells ringing, full speed ahead, and see what happens…. I’m not afraid of a little train wreck on a Sunday afternoon…. Let’s raise a glass to derailment.

02 November 2006

Cotton Rock

Okay… I’ve been quite busy lately and now we’re off and running into NaNoWriMo. Isn’t it the way it goes (predictably) that when the NoWri-ing begins the journaling seems urgent, attractive and painfully neglected – certainly in need of prompt tendering? It’s not just the journaling that screams out and demands attention when the NoWri-ing begins. It’s also the kitchen floor, the laundry, the dishes, the dog. Don’t you think I really need to go shopping for some winter wardrobe stuff? Perhaps those closets and cupboards need rearranging. Why do I run from it all so adamantly?

The rains began today and I went to pull the rain gear out of storage so I could take the Sweetness, the Honey Bee on morning ablutions (Ed’s at Zend Con so I have morning duty too) and I discovered I’d packed away all the winter things neatly in the armoire in the back cottage. Lovely sweaters and warm bulky things. Somewhere from there to here, unfortunately, I’ve developed some allergy or sensitivity to fleece. I’m wearing a fleece pullover now and my skin is crawling and hot and itchy. So much for that incredible softness – it’s all for naught when the reaction begins. I don’t have that reaction to the blankets – I wonder why just the clothes. (And of course that’s another thing urgently in need of pondering in the face of NaNoWri-ing.) And I have the same (worse?) reaction to wool – and there’s this craze around natural fabrics of late. I’m all about cotton. Cotton rocks.

13 October 2006

Where Sleep Lives

It’s about 5:30 in the morning and I’ve just hung up from that weekly Friday conference call. Following a fitful night’s sleep… Well, I can’t even call it a night’s sleep. The last time I remember looking at the clock it was 2:30 and the alarm began sparking at 4:30. It was the quality of sleep you get on an airplane, in coach, on an international flight – pasty, dry-eyed, grumpy. Thank God Ed’s staying at LB’s. At least only one of us remained awake with my tossing and turning and swollen thoughts that hemorrhage into the space where sleep lives.

11 October 2006

At The Wonder

There were internet cable access problems in these parts today, making work after about 3:30 pm virtually impossible. I left Peter word and we took off into the water district to discover some new terrain. He’d sent me a pdf of a regional map and I’d spied something called Hidden Lake that looked intriguing. Some seven plus miles later we’d completed the journey. I’d say the first five miles were fun, the last two were a bit brutal. My toes hurt like crazy which put a damper on an otherwise spectacular trek.

Hidden Lake was a bit more of a Hidden Pond, but this time of year it was wonderful to see and feel the green algae-covered wetness, native grasses, cat tails surrounded by towering redwoods. It’s clear it’s not an oft traversed path and I like those mysterious little out of the way places best. Peter contends this was the best find, but despite how wonderful it was, I still think the second waterfall at Elliot is the best. (Probably because it’s just so brutal getting there and when I descend out of the dwarf forest, battling brush on what amounts to a rejected deer trail, onto the moonscape vista of the creek and the two swimming holes – particularly in May/June when brilliant splays of wild tiger lilies glow orange against jet black rocks – I always gasp at the wonder.)

But, like I say, my feet hurt. I got home after dark and was able to connect to the internet and send a gaggle of email that sat waiting for the portal to open so they could sail across the wires. Under the stars and moon I sank into the hot tub and bubbled and boiled until I was wiggly and relaxed.

Ed arrived home around 8-ish, and was mostly an asshole. I tell myself, “some days are like that. Some days I’m an asshole.” He’s been on a winning streak lately. On the bright side, he’ll be staying at LB’s house watching her dog for a few days while she’s in Vegas. That will be good – we’ve been too much together lately. Some nights I want to wish him into the corn field – make him go away and have life unfold without him. Other nights, well, I don’t obviously. It makes happily awaiting his return from work rather anticlimactic. I was looking forward to this? Despite his efforts, he really couldn’t ruin the day.

Well, it’s midnight and tomorrow is a crazy mad day, so I’m off with me – to dream about wet hidden places in earth blanketed with soft nettles, a hundred different words for green and Secret Agent Dog running fast as the wind, lugging logs through the forest, drowning sticks and chasing crows. I love her. She’s so cool.

09 October 2006

Ante Up

Okay… here’s today. Well, last night first. Went to see Departed at the Fairfax theatre. That was fun. And then the afternoon before the night - went bowling at the Country Club Alley in San Rafael on Vivian. I so totally suck at any sport that involves a ball – but I’m amused all the same. And I must say I kick ass on this Area 51-like shoot’em-up game in the arcade area. And all the while I’m limping around because I hauled my sorry self out of bed at 7:30 on Saturday morning to get back in the grind of yoga and between that contortionist bruha and the bowling I’m limping around today with what I’ve heretofore described as bowling-butt but it’s got a richer, deeper and more meaningful ache as it feels like I’ve torn my muscle away from my butt bone doing yoga (ouch. Could that really be possible??) Why this manifests in some sort of extra added foot cramp, I dunno… but it’s a little icing on the cake of these bones. “Hello,” she says, this body, “I’m here. I’m alive.”

I arose for another early morning conference call – this time I got to sleep in until 7, but again, it turned out not to happen so the Baltimorian (Baltimorani? Baltimorer?) colleague and I used a regular direct land line (it’s so old school) and did most of the work between the two of us. It sucks being one of the responsible ones.

Since I was up early, I took my morning coffee in the hot tub. Anything to soothe the bowling butt – to no avail. The sky is relentlessly blue today. The redwoods in the yard next door tower precariously (deliciously.) Talk about a murder of crows – this change of season has brought on a multiple homicide of crows (a mass murder of crows?). They bomb the house with walnuts from the neighbors brilliant tree (I like it more than almost any tree I the hood – and I have several favorites.) Secret Agent Dog climbs the teetering redwood steps up to the hot tub and looks over the edge – she always leans forward to kiss me – I think it’s her way of saying, relax mom, I got the house. It’s all good. What a great way to start a day. The sky, the water, the trees, the dog, the coffee.

So a change of pace.. okay, girls (and boys), who’s doin’ NaNoWriMo this year? I haven’t yet registered but the inimitable, fantabulous, sparkling Alison has raised the flag. Ante up.

06 October 2006

It's Wahed

Five in the morning and I’m sitting on hold for the weekly conference call - mute button on, San Pelligrino limonata (with a straw) at the ready, fourteen minutes left on the download for the latest Survivor episode from iTunes. I have every intention of going back to sleep once this call is over, so there’s no coffee brewing, no anticipated familiar or comforting wah of the coffee maker signaling all is well with the world. (That’s often my first question to Ed in the morning, has it wahed yet?)

Ten after five and I’m sitting silently on the call, the lone participant it would seem. Twenty after my Parisian colleague joins and we commiserate for a few moments – me on the early hour, her on her frustrations with the project at hand – and then, like a cool San Francisco fog, I curl twice around the house and went back to sleep.

I wake again near noon, patter about the house mindlessly, take my coffee in the hot tub, walk the dog at Bon Tempe lake in the silver misty afternoon. I’m a little bummed reflecting on how my intention was/is that with this reduced schedule I’d spend Fridays writing, reading, painting, exploring non-work interests, but instead I slept, lounged, didn’t even read a magazine. Next week, maybe next week I’ll do what I intended as opposed to not much. Wah.

02 October 2006

Watch This Spot

There’s a pile of lavender soaking in a pot of vodka on the kitchen counter. I plucked nearly every flower head from the plant in the driveway median. This lavender, a sticky monkey and a plug of native grasses are the only things that have taken root and taken off in what I’ve come to endearingly call the kill zone.

I’m in somewhat of a funk today – though I don’t rightly know why. I think I need to go for a walk and think. I’ll get back to you on the other side of it…

Watch this spot…. I call it the other side of it. I hiked near ten miles, soaked in a hot tub and ate English cheese to get here. I took photographs too. I’ve been lounging and reading the fabu digital photo book that Cassie gave me for my birthday. Thus far it’s saying that to take good photos I need to buy more shit. Secret Agent Dog is belly up on my right, snoring at the sky (okay, the ceiling.) There are random thoughts fleeting around the room. I grasp at them like buzzing flies - trying to catch them, make them stop. Here are just a few:

I always thought that Catholic school girl thing was an act. I’m still mystified near thirty years later that it was devastatingly real. How do you reconcile all those kisses?

On days when my world is small and I don’t leave the house much, I get pretty bitchy. It’s like somewhere inside I must believe I can control the world by yelling at it or being mean to it. Maybe I’m just looking for a reaction.

One of the recent Google “word of the day” was swan song, which clearly isn’t a word and should more rightly be in phrase of the day or couple a words of the day. See above.

01 October 2006

A Farmhouse In Flanders

Rather than be confronted with an overwhelming proof of the limitations of our understanding, we accuse the dreams of not making sense. - Erich Fromm

Just because someone boyishly etches, mixes creamy pastel watercolors and dabbles in daubs of oil paints doesn’t mean that they have a heart – doesn’t mean that they are anything less than evil. My mind keeps drifting back to this the past few days. Is it really possible to discover the heart of a monster in a farmhouse in Flanders? And even if it is, who sees the value in that lump of coal? Does someone really believe that the pressure of history will turn that blackened, shriveled thing into some diamond? Clearly, yes. Obviously yes, people will pay richly and imbue it with value. Is it the saffron of historical voyeurs?

I want to make lavender extract. Ideas on how to do that? I’ve read to soak 48 flowers in 16 oz of vodka. Does this make sense to you?

29 September 2006


Nobody seems more obsessed by diet than out antimaterialistic, otherworldly, New Age spiritual types. But if the material world is merely an illusion, an honest guru would be as content with a Budweiser and bratwurst as with raw carrot juice, tofu, and seaweed slime - Edward Abbey

I’m not sure I would wholly agree with Edward Abbey – I suppose it all depends to what extent a person believes that we really do invent our own reality. I personally live in a somewhat shared reality – the one where if I run you over with the Isuzu Rodeo, not only do you get hurt, you likely sue and I have to pay court ordered restitutions, etc. That same reality (or illusion - the fabric of which I think we share), involves a shared understanding various micronutrient and nutritional requirements. I’m not saying bratwurst bad, seaweed slime good - but what I am saying is that the constituents of what we eat is worthy of note, but likely not as important as some diet junkies would contend. It’s a balanced and sane blend of things – not a ridged fascism around what we eat that matters.

Gosh, how ever will I lose this weight, I think to myself innocently. Diets just don’t work for me and generally I eat right and well, I tell you as I recount my daily twelve mile bike rides and five mile hikes with the Honey Bee. And I’ve even added on 100 sit ups, I lament, as I reach for another slab of Scharfen Berger chocolate and load up a plate of left over baked ziti for lunch.

24 September 2006

Rural Life

Yes, the meaning of life, the universe and everything came and went and I still haven’t divined the perfect party. But in the meantime I met a small cadre of friends for Mediterranean food (the restaurant was admittedly too loud, and I wouldn’t go back again for a soiree of that nature) and a terrifically valiant attempt at bowling (we were only able to bowl a single game before being casually kicked out of our lane in favor of a league of some sort.) It was fun while it lasted, even though it went by too quickly. My favorite people. Much laughter and happiness. I love my friends. They’re so fabulous each in their own right. Each mightn’t always appreciate the better qualities of the others – that’s not so much a prerequisite in my universe – but I, I see what’s marvelous in each of them and lucky for me, when gathered under a single roof, they remarkably get along just ducky for an evening now and again. Me. I’m blessed.

Beforehand, Ed and I took Secret Agent Dog to the beach for the day. He took the day off on Friday after a much heated argument on Thursday where he contended this wouldn’t be possible after all (after planning and agreeing to it several weeks earlier.) Oh, I think not. So we had a great time at the beach – Ms. Honey Bee ran to the point of exhaustion and slept like a rock. It’s great to see her genuinely tired, not just bored-tired. (With my feet in the state they’ve been this year there just hasn’t been even half the exhausted days that either of us require in order to be truly happy.)

I’d hoped to spend a day lazing in my garden, poking and pruning and the whatnot, but yesterday I felt a bit under the weather and largely just lounged like I rarely do. Sedentary isn’t my favorite position, but yesterday it suited me fine. I think I’m better for it today, but the garden isn’t.

One of the workmen, after a long hiatus, arrived today to continue efforts on the closet for the hot water heater. He’s off gathering supplies. One of Ed’s former co-workers from Petaluma (we went to a party at his house last weekend – much fun was had by all. Mountains of children and Secret Agent Dog with a ball. Singapore Slings. Need I say more?) arrived at the house this morning with his two year old daughter. The lot of them, with Secret, headed to the park so I’m alone in the house with the whir of the appliances – washing machine, dishwasher – hummmmm, buzzzzzzz.

The mother of my favorite twins on the planet rang this morning to announce the arrival of the latest addition to their fabulous family, Buster the brown-haired poodle puppy. She was seeking input on veterinarians and we did a bit of dog-mom chat – including the obligatory complaining about the farmer’s market ruining the lawns in the local town park.

We’re heading to the Peninsula in not too long, to have an early dinner at Ed’s mom’s house – hopefully George will have driven to the coast this morning and picked up shrimp and we’ll be having this amazing barbeque shrimp/scampi thing he does. I start to salivate just thinking about it. I hope, I hope, I hope.

Alright, so this entry ain’t so titillating. I’ll conjure some juicier bits later.

21 September 2006

Go Ahead, Make A Plan

I missed the first annual town picnic on Sunday for an afternoon flight arriving in DC at about midnight. The hotel didn’t have a kitchen/room service so I set out for food. Everything was closed. I settled for a bag of popcorn from a nearby CVS and a few bottles of water. I woke up at about 10 am, packed up my shit and headed out to the nearest coffee shop for a latte. Spent way too much time battling security to get onto the campus and missed the opportunity to get to the cafeteria before the meeting began at 1 pm, ended at 5 pm and the taxi met me at the entrance to the building at 5:15, which was perfect – it dropped me at the airport a few minutes after 6 and I was through security and to the gate before 6:30, which was awesome because all I’d had to eat for two days was a bag of popcorn and the airport is filled with such fine culinary fare. Next thing I know I’m calling Ed from my cell phone, on the airport shuttle, as we’re crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, begging him to meet me in Larkspur with a chicken sandwich and a sweater. Eureka!

I arrive home to snuzzle with the dog on the sofa a shy bit after midnight on Monday and ready myself for a 7 am on Tuesday – some five or six hours away from it I drift off and wake up drooling on one of the sofa pillows but/and there’s no coffee in the house. I rouse Ed outta bed to fetch me coffee as I dial in. I not only have to be on the call, which is difficult enough, but I also have to chair the call. Coffee come my way, please come my way.

On the one hand it’s busy, there’s a gazillion deadlines I’ve fallen behind on, at any given moment there are at least three urgent things I should have attended to by COB yesterday and part of that is due to the fact that I reduced my schedule but there’s never been an adequate acknowledgment of how that needed to correspond with a decrease in certain kinds of responsibilities. So things fall through the cracks because there are cracks (gaping canyons even.) But part of it really is due to the fact that I have days that are not perfectly efficient.

Yesterday was a great example. I was just exhausted and I slept through another 7 a.m. call and while I had outlined a day to accomplish some of these gazillion tasks, I maybe only got to three or four of them. It wasn’t for lack of trying, per se, but yeah, maybe it was for lack of trying… Maybe that is the difference between now and what I was willing to do then.

The good news is that I got a call from a consultant who sometimes has my back and she’s been garnering support for a severance package for me. At least yesterday it looked promising – that maybe as early as the first of the year I could roll on that transition. Well, it’s not really a transition, is it? That’s just as it says, a severance, cutting it off, get a tourniquet and stop the bleed, etc. I remind myself not to jump on this roller coaster ride of getting my hopes up. Other pieces have to fall into place, there are other factors to account for.

What will I do with myself if or when I wake up and there’s nothing to do but battle through the thoughts of the day, be alone with myself and my ambition, fears, strengths and thoughts? Partly it’s easy to keep the madness up as a way to hold other kinds of madness at bay. Without the excuses of work, how ever will I busy myself in order to flee my destinies? Ah.. something new to figure out (or maybe something old.)

But all that distraction is a ways off yet. Today I have today – a murder of crows savaging the walnut tree in the adjacent yard – dive bombing my roof with their potential fodder, trying to crack something open (the walnut, you know, or my sanity.) When there’s not an onslaught of thumping walnuts above (the sky is falling?) they are screeching into the crisp pale blue cloudless sky of a later summer morning. Secret is curled up in a sunbeam on her blanket - a festive pink ball perches beside her, pregnant with potential. She’s grown immune to the ruckus too.

I have a feeling that things will not go either how I expect, hope or plan (God laughs?)

02 September 2006


It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English – up to fifty words used in correct context – no human being has reported to have learned dolpinese. - Carl Sagan

When I tell the above to Ed, he contends I’m entirely wrong about that (or rather, that Carl Sagan is.) He proceeds to cackle out a strange staccato sound and proclaims that it means I want a ball in Dolphinese. Promptly, upon hearing the odd cackle, Secret Agent Dog’s ear perk and she jumps to the quick, runs out the front door, and returns moments later with a Hi-Bounce Pinky ball in her mouth. This proves, we think, that Secret understands Dolphinese and that Ed’s Dolphinese diction is spot on.

29 August 2006

The Imperfect Host

There are no pictures from yesterday – I’m falling down at the start! The camera was going to accompany me on a journey in late afternoon that never materialized due to a mishap from point A to point B.

A friend arrived yesterday, visiting from New York. He’d spent the first few days of his spin to the left coast with his parents and yesterday afternoon and last night with us here. I’d spent the lion’s share of the weekend readying the back cottage for his stay – nothing like a house guest to motivate some massive cleaning. (Frankly, there’s more to do back here, but what a phenomenal leap forward we made!)

On a whim I suggested we go for a bike ride. What a great way to maximally see this area, cover the most ground with the least effort, and given he’s been under some stress with a relationship break up, a potential job change, an impending move, etc., I thought it would be great to kick start his vacation with some endorphins. My strategy on this whole relationship going south, ugly, uncomfortable end of the affair stuff is that one should pour his/her energies into working out – so at least when the depression clears you look fabulous. If you’re going to be depressed, you may as well look great doing it. He was game so we dusted off Ed’s bike, hopped on the ride and were off like a prom dress.

It was a great ride until the very end there. That part where his tire blew when we were on the downslope off the mountain, that part wasn’t so great. Nor that little extra added part where he flipped over the handlebars after losing control of the bike and stopped the whole tangled mess with his elbow, his wrist and his back. Compared to that part of the ride the emergency room was actually fun. Yup, you guessed it… I broke another house guest.

I know, I know, I should have brought the camera – caught at least the ER part in one’s and zero’s for some digital memory of the whole thing. I’m a failure and a terrible host.

24 August 2006

To Sleep Perchance To Dream

After my mid-day 20 miles bike ride - with the steepest grade you can think of going on for over a mile - I took a monster 5 mile hike to the second waterfall at Elliot last evening. I love the long shadows and golden light of late afternoonish.

I keep forgetting to mention a dream I had. I was about to die - and in the dream, when one died, they had to meet the executioner (or maybe it was a reeper - whatever the case... I remember him as an executioner of sorts.) It was love at first site. I swooned and lamented the thought that at this juncture I would meet the person of my dreams and that that person would by the executioner. On some level, however, it didn't matter - because I was immediately smitten, immediately in love and something about that, in the face of everything, was perfect and hopeful and completing.

The twist of the story is/was that the executioner fell in love with me too. And I became the only person, ever, to be spared the fate of the executioner as a result. And it is/was because of this it became known that while incredibly rare some people escaped the executioner's fate - and in a place there was little to no hope there was placed a glimmer. And the most humble and wisest would realize that hope was realized through love.

I know, it sounds corny - but that was the dream.

It was almost as good as last night's dream - in which Ed not only quit smoking, he cleaned up after himself. Wow.. what startlingly divergent expectations for fulfillment. heh.

17 August 2006

Eat Your Greens

I’ve been so restless of late. Cassie says to focus on my questions before I sleep and seek answers in my dreams. I dreamt I needed to eat more vegetables. I’m game – so be it. Vegetables it is. I hope it’s all that easy.

I want to do something different. I’m tired of the same. I’m dissatisfied with the same. I’m not inspired by the same. I don’t think I’ve ever been so discontent. But perhaps all the world’s ennui can be solved with a simple carrot.

11 August 2006

Waiting For A Miracle

I went on an ambitious bike ride today – it was a mere fifteen miles, but a brutal fifteen miles. A good mile and a half of that was less than a bike ride and more of a bike push. My back tire started spinning on the loose gravel, the road was so steep, and I couldn’t get my bike shoes out of the clips. I was stuck on my bike when it tumbled. I was virtually standing still when it happened, however, so I didn’t end up with even a scrape – just a bruised ego and my feet stuck on the peddles. I was planning to round Lake Lagunitas, but I was so exhausted when I peaked Fish Gulch – the murderous incline – that I skipped that intention and just took it all back on home. I wish I’d have had the camera with me (I wonder how it would have faired the fall…) I ride through this area with my friend P when we walk our dogs together at Bon Tempe, but it was qualitatively different on the bike – in slow motion, being closer to it. I saw some beautiful things that I guess we pass by too quickly. That’s saying something because I keep my camera out, always, when we drive this road and he stops whenever I ask so I can take pictures – but I just didn’t see the light or the low hanging trees the same way before. And well, I didn’t have the camera so what’s the point in waxing on about it, right?

I took a shower when I got home and rinsed the dirt of the mountain off me. I still don’t bathe very often – I feel like I’m doing good if it’s once a week. Such a far cry from City living where I couldn’t leave the house until I’d had a shower. I’m dirtier here, but it’s good dirt. The dirt we live in.

I tried to stop by the art/glass – stained glass lady’s store. I need to design the bathroom windows before fall gets too much further upon us and the rains threaten to commence. It’s already August. I’ve got to move on that. There was a note on the door that the lady was ill and how she’d be in tomorrow. I guess I’ll try to stop back.

I called P and asked him if he was willing to try a walk with me, the gimp, to the waterfall at Elliot. I haven’t been walking or hiking lately and it’s driving both myself and the dog insane. I wore open-toed sandals and just hobbled slowly. I’m not sure if it was the right thing to do or not. The feet hurt like the dickens – but my spirits are lifted. How does one weigh the relative value of these things? Or perhaps more importantly, the relative harms? It was beautiful and Secret Agent Dog was sooooo happy to be trekking as opposed to stimming on the same blasted ball all the time. She needs the diversity of activities – she gets kind of tweaky when it’s just fetch day in and day out.

I have to push myself to be a bit more creative than I have been of late. I find myself waiting for something – this sense of waiting. I sit back and I wonder what I’m waiting for. I’m often filled with this pensive sense of anticipation. It’s driving me a little nuts. I have this inner desire to just let go in a big bad way. Part of me says, just do it! and another part asks, sure, but what the hell does that mean??? Let go of what, exactly? Just do what, exactly? No more waiting…

10 August 2006

Accidents Will Happen

My neighbor gets a double mastectomy on the 23rd. She’s got such a great attitude about all this, it’s rock’n. I want to try to do something kind for her before then – or maybe after. I have to think about it. In other fronts, we’ve been having a great time getting to know the couple who bought the house across the street. We took them for dinner week before last and last night they returned the gesture. For some reason, when I’m near them, I start talking like a chatter box when normally I’m rather reserved. It’s strange. As far as I can tell they’re not turned off, so all is good. We’re thoroughly enjoying their company. She works at the college of art and he’s a web designer.

I’m drinking Private Stock Captain Morgan spiced rum right out of the bottle. It’s sooooo nummy with this scharfenberger chocolate I picked up the other day when I was in The City. Fortunately there wasn’t a lot left in the bottle otherwise I fear I’d be hammered by now. Instead, after the hot tub I just took, it just makes me feel a little toasty and jovial on this balmy Thursday evening. The sky is pink.

I accidentally hired a gardener today. Worse accidents have happened. I intended to have a guy come over and fix the irrigation. I’ve been watering with a cheap ass plastic sprinkler that gets stuck in a tilted position and stops doing its vacillation thing – making discrete areas of the lawn perfecting saturated and soggy and leaving the majority of the grass parched and browning. I paid top dollar for an irrigation system to be installed year before last and for whatever reason when I turn the damn things on the pressure shoots the sprinkler thingies high into the air, breaking them into bits on the way. It’s lethal. It’s beyond putting an eye out, those things could rip off a limb when they shoot. This makes watering the lawn perilous at best. So I intended to hire a guy to come flush the system and take a look at the irrigation and see if he could fix it. What I got instead, or rather, in addition to that, is the irrigation fixed and this other guy who stuck around for eight hours weeding, mowing, raking, sweeping. After eight hours and two hundred dollars later the place looked stunning. He had me write the check payable to the local liquor store.

06 August 2006


We’d had lofty social plans this weekend. A visit from a wayward friend and a birthday party at an East Bay park for Wiley. Instead we cleaned the car port and I continued (and completed) my Survivor obsession (actually there’s one season available on DVD that I haven’t watched yet, so not completely completed.) Today, rather than Wiley’s party, I think I’ll weed the garden and maybe take a bike ride. My toes are black and blue – a new evolution in the continuing foot saga (wtf??!?!)

So why aren’t we going to Wiley’s birthday festivities? The real/main reason we’re not going: Ed’s been driving on a suspended license with expired tags on the Rodeo. I’m just not willing to get stuck an hour and a half away from home while Ed gets his ass hauled off to jail and the truck is impounded. It just ain’t gonna happen. I don’t think Wiley will understand. The fact that he won’t or might not understand wearies me a bit.

I can’t express, it probably wouldn’t make a damn bit of sense to you, how thrilled I am that the car port is cleaned and tidied. It’s been over a year that it’s looked a fright and people have commented. It’s been my badge of shame. When we set out minds to it, it only took a few hours to clear it out. Damn, I wish we would have done that some time back. Having it linger in that state for so long made me feel rather trashy.

I haven’t mentioned the rats for awhile and for good reason (YAY.) Even the smell of the dead ones in the walls has ceased to linger. We had a brutal heat wave a while back and no doubt that helped to accelerate the decomposition.

There’s a cat living behind the hot tub. Much to my surprise, when Secret went to chase her out, three kittens came spilling forward! So we have a cat family living behind the hot tub. I hope these vagrant guests will assist in rat abatement efforts. They must earn their keep.

The bathroom is almost finished. I hate things in a state of almost. My life and home have been in a state of almost for months and months. I’m all about hammering some finishing nails in about now.

04 August 2006

Saint Eerie

It’s summer time, and the living is easy…. It’s also rushing by – yes, summer time too. Wooosh, like those August winds I felt, hot and dry, making their way up from Africa, while I slept under a full moon on the Island of Majorca de Palma in the sleepy village of Sollier. I was in my late twenties and the world lay out before me like a feast. It still does, but I don’t rush it so madly. It seems like the more I slow down to soak it in, the faster it moves. In this regard, I hate what technology has done to us.

We had a minor earthquake the other night. After returning from a slow rolling hike up at Bon Tempe, I was changing my shoes and readying to meet LB for dinner and the house began to twitch. Secret Agent Dog ran from something chasing her about, or so she thought. When things like this happen there is a instant, though only momentary, confusion. What’s this unfamiliar thing? Reflexively I search my memory banks for a touchstone of experience. It’s funny that the first thing my mind landed on was a commuter train.

Many years ago, not long after I first moved to California, I lived in a house away from a commuter train track in San Mateo. It was also an intersection so not only did the house thunder and shake as the train went by, but the bells and flashing lights of the crossing gates were harbingers of the roar. While our earthquake didn’t have bells and lights, for a moment I found myself looking out the window, wondering where the commuter train was. It just disappeared into the early evening summer air.

And yes, at about the time I was looking out the window for the train and Secret was looking behind her, equally at nothing, it settled in my head that indeed that wasn’t a train, that was just little quake – that was just the earth giggling a little. The phone rang, it was LB, did you feel that!? Yes, I felt that.

I was a teenager playing house with the first boy I thought I loved, whose name was Ed. This isn’t my Ed, but a different Ed. At the time, my Ed was only eleven or twelve years old and to my surprise was living just around the corner. Further strangeness is that he was my paperboy. We likely passed one another on the street a hundred times. I find that all very weird and eerie.

24 July 2006

Home Again

I returned from London last Thursday. I was there during the record breaking heat wave - a tepid ninety-something. Those wimps. Yesterday, the high here was 112.9 - at nearly 6 pm. Friends (who we love, very much, maybe forever despite any wrong doings or offenses they may commit) bought us two air conditioners. We paid, they drove and got them - they drove to Concord and Cupertino - a gazillion miles, in miserable heat - to get these air conditioners. When they pulled into the parking lot of the store in Concord they called to report that the temperature there was 129 degrees Fahrenheit. I'm becoming weather-obsessed. I've been sucked into the vortex of people who watch the weather channel. Okay. I'm not there yet. I still don't have a television - but I have a secret weather blog. There I write things like: It's hot. It's cold. It's raining. I write there more often then I write here. Maybe because the weather changes, noticeably, more often than I do.

One air conditioner is an 8,000 BTU - it cools, supposedly, up to 400 square feet (I think not!) We've put it in the window of my study to cool the 350 square foot back cottage. It barely cools down the one room there, so I keep the door shut. This room was our bedroom for over three years. It felt cozy and familiar to be living our lives out of the back cottage for the weekend. We'd brave the heat and go look at the front cottage from time to time - but mostly we shut the shades and read books, magazines, played suduko, watched DVDs on the computer. We had the three essential heat wave beverages, San Pelligrino Limonata, sparkling Calistoga, Corona. And I'd venture out to water the garden every few hours. Despite heroic efforts I couldn't stop the hydrangeas from drooping.

I had a lovely time in London. It's changed favorably since I went to school there in the '80s. It's more cosmopolitan and despite the global fascination for increased development of open space into concrete structures, I'd still say it's an improvement. I wouldn't live there. It's not my thing. But it was fun to visit - the night bus tour was loads of fun - and the food, hands down, has been the most dramatic and notable improvement over the past few decades. The London aquarium, however, proves to be among the worst of the world's tributes to aquatic life. I'd liken it to little more than a spot of spit in a mud puddle with a few fish tossed in. It's a pathetic little place and they'd do better to simply close it down than to tout, as a town, that they house an aquarium. What an embarrassment! It's a tragic little fish prison.

Traveling made me want to travel more, as opposed to the more traditional outcome where I'm left feeling like all I want to be is home among the Cookie Pie, familiar things, my mountains, summer. That's such a push-pull phenomenon with the Honey Bee. I hate to leave her behind, but it's really not practical for her to come along.

12 July 2006

The Wonder

There are now nearly two clean rooms. I spent the day cleaning the study. Yes, the day. The entire day. I mean until 9 p.m. even. And it's not wholly done. There's one wall to wash down, two windows to Windex and a bookcase to shuffle through and dust - but then it will be done enough to call it a perfectly clean room. I hadn't wiped down those walls since I quit smoking and to be honest I feel like the amount of nicotine exposure I had washing the walls might just constitute a relapse in some circles. It was pretty ooogy. A little more tidying up in there tomorrow and I'll call that one a wrap.

I should have done this months ago! I ran over my big toe with the vacuum cleaner, however. That is a lesson in why you should wear shoes when you vacuum. It hurt like a mother-fucker. (Do mother-fuckers hurt? If so, why?)

The guys working on my bathroom are in the home stretch. I can hardly wait until they're done. I love them, don't get me wrong, but we're hitting that stage in our relationship where I think it would be a good idea if we all had some alone-time.

I leave for London on Saturday evening. I already miss Secret Agent Dog, even though she's all cozied up here on the sofa with me. I think I'm becoming something of a curmudgeon. At one time in my life a week in London would have been the cat's meow. Now I simply dread the long flight, the terminal train ride from Heathrow, clamoring for a taxi at the station and all the whoopla of getting to the hotel, being jet lagged, blah, blah, blah. Now I just want to get home before I even start packing. I think I'm losing my sense of adventure and wonder. (Note to self, rediscover the wonder.) If there is someone in London who wants to help me rediscover the wonder, drop a line.

10 July 2006

My Two Cents

About once a week I go to the post office. I have several packs of thirty seven cent stamps. I suppose I could walk in there with a whopping fourteen pennies or however many I need and get all those stamps to make the rest of lot legal, but I enjoy going to the post office. It's only a few blocks from my house, it's a nice to see the post ladies, tether the Honey Bee and watch her nervously through the window, maybe run into the random neighbor out doing their errands. But more than all that, there's something very satisfying about giving my two cents, quite literally, and getting that stamp. It's one of those rare times where my two cents are genuinely wanted - they're considered so valuable that I even get something in return!

There is precisely one perfectly clean room in the house - actually, between both cottages - just one. It's the mudroom. I cleaned it today. It was tremendously satisfying. Occasionally I go stand in it and pretend the rest of the house is equally shiny, dusted, windexed and smelling antiseptic - ammonia and laundry soap. Instead, I know in my heart of hearts that beneath the dishwasher lurks more rat poop. Rat poop I haven't been able to get at yet and sop up (SHIVER.) This preys on my neurosis like you can't imagine.

Today was a magnificent day because today LB and I went to Bon Tempe after she finished work and walked the Shady Side Trail with Secret Agent Dog and her best bud. It's been over two weeks and I'm not sure who enjoyed it more - me or her. I'll say me. She'll say her - or rather, she would say her if she could say her but she can't so she won't. Instead she says something like arf (but it comes out sounding squeaky.)

None of the workmen showed up today. What's up with that? They have been fastidious and fabulous and prompt and reliable. Today - not a word. Maybe they had premonitions about the rat poop and stayed away. I love them. I miss them.

I don't think I've taken the opportunity to say WAY TO GO, ITALY!!! That was a stellar World Cup match and no one, clearly, is more deserving. Shame on that brutish thug, Zindane.

04 July 2006

Constant Stranger

From the garden gate the other day...

I used to always carry a notebook and pen that felt food for writing with me. With the advent of computers and other time-saving tools, I just never find myself relaxing with my notebooks the ways I did before all this technology became available to make our lives easier. I'm not so sure I want my life to be easier.

Sometimes when she's not around, I steal pencils from my neighbor's house. Sometimes I feel bad about this and when she's not there, I put them back.

I'm reading the Jeremy Taylor interview and the interviewer asked about archetypes. Taylor explains the universal meaning of say up (goodness, light, enlightenment) and down (evil, darkness, ignorance, etc.) You see, that archetype doesn't hold so true for me. I'm for of an in and out kind of girl. And perhaps in a true ying/yang thang, I'm really not sure if there is more enlightenment, goodness, evil or ignorance in or out.

He provided another example of archetype being the image of blood - which is related to family, he says, and obligations of relationship. I remember a recurring dream. There were holes in my wrists and instead of blood, my veins and arms were filled with sand and shells. My feet were on fire with pain. There were roses growing into them, out of them - in, out - like I said, it's really ultimately difficult to understand the difference between these things. The stem grew out of my foot, the bud and flower blossomed inside. So in place of blood, I have crushed stones, fossils and rose petals. So what does that say about my relationship to my relatives - living and ancestors?

02 July 2006

What Dreams May Come

Even our misfortunes are part of our belongings. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

I am feeling rather scattered and muddle headed. This has persisted for several weeks, maybe even months. I can't concentrate, for the life of me, to set myself to tasks and follow through. The house is a mess, an absolute crazy mess. When I speak of task aversion, I mean on the simplest of levels. I think aversion is the wrong word. I'm not averse to these things.

I can start, but I can't follow through and complete anything. The laundry is partially done. What has been both washed and dried, isn't folded or put away. The dishes in the dishwasher have been washed twice, but something is wrong and they're not coming clean. So half are clean and not put away and the other half need to be hand washed to see if I can figured out what's going on (maybe building polymers in the sink from the workmen are stuck on dishes? Would they really use the kitchen sink when there is a utility sink not but five feet away?)

There is this accumulation of busywork to be done and while I feel I'm constantly doing things, nothing seems to get done. And it feels like there's never time to just sit back and enjoy, read, relax, putter, lay on the grass and stare at the sky. But what's the problem? Why aren't things getting done? I don't mean just house keeping, either.. I mean bill paying, work, everything. I can't get my head around things and I'm increasingly frustrated.

Cassie had a thought, that rather than wait to sit down and read, I start the day reading and relaxing - pushing the chores to later in the day. I went to the park this morning with Secret, tossed the ball and intended to read. Even reading I can't accomplish. I was in the park from about 8 am until after 11. I barely finished the letters to the editor and only got two pages into the interview with Jeremy Taylor. What happened? What happened to the time?

Okay.. back to the damned stupid chores while the rats rummage through the kitchen (I can hear them now.. YES in the middle of the day.) It seems symbolic of something. A symbolism that's no longer relegated to my dream world but all just playing itself out right here, right now, not wasting time waiting for sleep or choosing to show itself at such-and-such a time. There's no difference anymore.

29 June 2006

Love Is Like War

Love is like war: easy to begin but very hard to stop. - H.L. Mencken

Firstly, *ding, ding, ding* ten points for Cassie! You know, she won the Why I Want Boris/Russian art contest too and has her own book of proletariat art from the Moscow Press (go Boris!) Cassie, you’re a WINNER!

I was so moved by responses to my last entry. They were all so sweet and real. Once, I risked my sense of self, my dignity, my self respect, for what I thought was love. I’m not so sure, in retrospect, that it was love at all that I was risking for. It was perhaps obsession and addiction, but certainly it doesn’t look like love in hindsight. I passed through many years where I risked little – but maybe that’s not entirely true at the core of it. I was thinking last night after pondering responses here that I feel like perhaps I’ve risked nothing, and thus everything.

I don’t think giving things up is the same as risking per se. I have to think about that. I certainly have not felt like I’ve given anything up for love – I haven’t given up my dreams, ambitions, goals, job, potentials – nothing. I feel, maybe, like I wish I would have given up something. I’m not sure why. Not because to me it’s some emblem, some proof – but because in retrospect there were paths I didn’t explore that I think I might have liked too – that required a kind of risk I couldn’t even understand. Once I read a poem called “Turning Thirty” and the author wrote, “Turning thirty is about giving up infinite possibilities.” I didn’t feel that way when I turned thirty. Maybe I’m feeling that way after having turned forty. And that maybe doesn’t have anything to do with love at all.

Zosia wrote that she risked her own independent career for love – being the one to nurture the family. I didn’t. I didn’t risk an independent career. I rose to the top of mine, made my mark, and at the end of the day the accomplishments, however noble, and they have been noble, feel somewhat empty. You know, after all, at the end of the day, what really matters? As I’ve matured (and it’s taken a long time for me to mature,) it seems for me to all come down to the quality of my relationships and not what I can accomplish. All I want to accomplish at my day’s end is a great deal of love – is the cultivation of meaningful relationships and joy and not a list of accomplishments. I don’t know.. this makes me ponder and it makes me wonder.

Anyways… a few updates. It’s likely the bathroom will be nearly done by the week’s end and yes, the week ends tomorrow. The rat infestation continues with a vengeance. I have an exterminator coming out today. I’ve appealed to the folks at the restaurant next store (again) to move their trash from the border of my property – for whatever reason, they don’t seem to want to do this (though they’ve agreed to put out electronic rat traps around the trash.) I’ve come to the realization that the reason they won’t move the trash away from residential borders is because they know it’s a problem and they don’t want to bring the problem any closer to the space that they work and play in. I’ve called vector control and we’ve had a nice long talk. They’re calling the health department and checking into what else might be done. I hate this.

Secret gets her stitches out (hopefully) tomorrow. Hmmm. Back to work with me.

27 June 2006

I Met A Boy Called....

Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it….It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. - Erica Jong

Have I mentioned that I love Warren Buffet? I think I might have mentioned that before. And if I haven’t, let me go on record and profess my adoration - I love Warren Buffet! Among my many hopes and dreams is to one day have lunch with Warren Buffet. In that cosmic six degrees of separation thing, if someone can help me out here, I’d be duly indebted.

Despite the fact that I have these little hairclips that I got at some five and ten in a variety of pastel colors – that I’ve not seen worn by another adult other than, recently, in a bad tabloid pic, Anna Nicole Smith, my adoration for Warren Buffet is not like that. It is true platonic love. I love that he doesn’t have a computer on his desk. I love that he reads. I love that he trusts people, importantly the people who work for him. I love his professed relationship to money (that is, he’s not emotionally tied to it.) And most recently I love that on the eve of retirement he gave away thirty-eight BILLION dollars to charitable causes. Sure there must be some tax incentive, but who the hell cares. That’s thirty eight billion. It makes me contemplate a move to Seattle to try for some sweet job giving away Gate’s money. But I like where I live and I’m not really willing to compromise on that. And while I’ve never been all too fond of Bill Gates, I do have a great deal of respect for his decision to step down from Microsoft and dedicate his time to the family foundation.

Have I mentioned I love Warren Buffet? Okay, I love my Argentinean plumber/electrician too. And my American rocker foreman. And his girlfriend’s father. And his friend the carpenter. And I adored the Portugal v. Netherlands match the other day (wasn’t that just like a school yard brawl!?!) And frankly, anyone who didn’t just fall smitten with the soul, spirit, sportsmanship of Ghana this morning in the Brazil v. Ghana match just wasn’t paying attention.

And I love the twins who are turning four next week. They pull me into their magic and forget who I am. I really love them. And of course, Secret Agent Dog. And there’s Ed too (does it mean something that he falls this low on the list, below Warren Buffet and the Ghana National team? Let’s just say this list isn’t in order of priority…for now… so we don’t have to explain things.. heh. Kidding.)

I love Cassie and LB and Mom.. and Hell’s Angels. (Okay.. I don’t actually love Hell’s Angels at all, but ten points to anyone who can name the reference.. here’s another hint: He’s got golden chains on his leather jacket and on the back are written the names…)

I have a question for my gentle readers… what, if anything, have you risked for love?

26 June 2006

Romance Is Dead

Live to the point of tears. - Albert Camus

I’ve kept an 8x11, brown, hand addressed envelope to my old neighbor, in San Francisco, from a certain Lee Baker since the year 2000. My neighbor was lovers with a Lee Baker and they’d ended their relationship badly earlier on. This neighbor had long since moved away. I’d vaguely remembered the affair. The brown envelope was mistakenly delivered to me. In hopes of tracking down the neighbor, I’ve held onto the letter going on six years now – unopened – until today.

Somehow I thought it might be strangely romantic – that perhaps one day I’d figure out a way to deliver the letter and something old and painful might be resolved and forgiven – until today. A few times each year I look through the phone book, contact one or another mutual friend, try old email addresses and wait hopeful for a reply – until today.

Today I needed an 8 by 11 envelope to mail a few magazines to Ed’s brother – magazines I’d said I’d send on several months back but for lack of an envelope they’ve sat on the floor in my study. I spied the letter from Lee Baker and set forth on another journey to find this long lost friend of mine. The journey ended today. I didn’t find him, but I needed the envelope. I carefully, ever so carefully lifted the corners and the old glue relented with a suspicious ease. It’s like letting go and opening up is easier once time passes. I slowly slid the letter out of the envelope – a typed cover letter accompanied the twelve stapled pages.

Whether or not this Lee Baker was the Lee Baker is somewhat dubious. This Lee Baker explains that he retrieved my friends street address by doing an internet search for Jewish-sounding (??) names. It was a ramblings of a total lunatic – some bipolar Jesus freak of sorts – a magnificent essay which culminates in a reprint of a newspaper clipping of a successful in-vitro fertilization, showing that man has finally emulated the virgin birth first pioneered by God. How it only took a mere 2000 years to catch up. We’ll all be happy to note with the advent of fertility clinics and advances in science to help couples having trouble conceiving, we’ve obfuscated the need for God and religion. We’ve finally replaced God with science. (It’s about time, eh?)

Never again will I sit wondering at the 8 by 11 brown, hand-addressed envelope. I liked it better how it was in my mind. Pandora’s box and all that rot. I’ve loosed evil on the world by opening that one and let slip all the romantic mystery of the unknown. It’s very sad now that the deed is done.

((My toes are metallic copper.))

19 June 2006

The Savaging of the Butterfly Bush

I could describe the day yesterday, the beach, the blood, the puke, the paw. I could tell tales of the tragedy, the vet, the sutures. But why mince words on the mundane when I could remember the errant rat (did I say RAT?!?) gnawing it's way through the screen window to get out at 5 a.m., or the Fellini-esque dog that the rat happened on in the yard outside the bedroom window. And how the rat and the dog caused a stoned pup to rouse and pee herself, on the bed and a day that started with more laundry in the wee hours of the morning.. the key term being wee. Or perhaps, just then as we're ringing out the pee and decide to remove the bandages on the good leg when we reveal a forgotten catheter sticking out of the vein. The Zuzu-McGiver trick of cutting up tampons to put on the bleed. The unwillingness to eat or drink. Then the willingness. Then the urgency to unswallow like a bolumic on a mission.

No... why waste a spectacular morning on tales such as this, when you could simply enjoy the savaging and ravaging of the butterfly bush.

17 June 2006

More Later

I’ve been busy. No. That’s not it. Too many plans, people, things. I need my time alone – but not too much. I’m looking for that good in-between. I’m feeling crowded. I get pretty agro when I feel crowded. I like the time I spend weeding the garden, pruning, working the soil. Get down in the dirt with me. There’s plenty of room down here in the dirt.

So today I’ve extracted a quiet day (so far) off the loom of them. Somehow the alarm failed to go off at 7 am, so I rolled off the bed at 7:11, not as pleasantly as I’d have preferred. Pulled on my sweat pants and FBI glow-in-the-dark T-shirt (at the aiport Kiosk store in Washington Dulles, United terminal, near gate C17), brushed my teeth, rolled up my yoga sticky matt and out the door to meet Kaye, the neighbor lady. We do yoga together on Saturday mornings. Actually, it’s her routine, I just encroached myself into it. She’s been welcoming. We ladies stretch together.

After an hour or so of contorting, pushing, pulling my body every which way till Tuesday, I stopped at the coffee roaster enroute home for a nice cup of organic Mexican Jose (aka Joe.) After I’m all slippery and loosed up, the caffeine goes down smoother, surer. While I waited for Ed to more fully awake, I continued fertilizing the lawn – there still more to go, but enough for the morning.

And then we hopped on the mountain bikes and road the ten miles to Larkspur. Ed went out drinking (bad man – I hate it when he drinks, he promised he’d stop, dog house and all that rot) and took a taxi home from The City – leaving the truck at the ferry building. However annoying that is, it’s better than irresponsibly driving drunk I suppose. And admittedly, it was a beautiful morning for a ride – a light breeze, still early enough to escape the heat of the day. We had to stop at the Pet Food Cottage to pick up the Honey Bee’s chow before turning back home.

Swooping into the cottage, we off loaded the dog food and bike, did a quick change of clothes, scooped up Ms. Secret Agent Cookie and road the bikes up to LB’s house to watch the US v. Italy World Cup match. And what a stellar showing by the US. (LB says, “we must believe.” I say, “believe what, that Italy is going to kick their ass?” She says, “no, that they’ll win.” “Hmmmm… The World Cup, or just this match?” I ask. “Let’s just start with the match,” she says.) But really, coming up with a draw when the US is two men down is about the same as Italy losing, really. They should feel shame.

We’d intended to go to the beach today, but we’re bagging on the idea. It’s 2:30 in the afternoon, there’s more gardening to do and yet I feel like I’ve done enough today.

As much as I do, I don’t want sustainability and environmental issues to be the it girl of this era. I’ve been thinking about this quite abit. I’m in a hot spot, again, of a movement. But this time I’m dabbling around on the fringe and not wanting to jump in. Or I do, but not holding hands with a crowd. If I wrote about that, that would be an entry.

Of course, I think Hedgehoggy would want to hear about what’s on my feet to make it real. Right now, there is Rhythm and Blues polish on my toes – just an exciting electric blue making them glow like crazy. And then there are the rather mundane white cotton socks. My shorts are army green and my tank top is mottled black with bleach streaks from when it went in the wrong load. The royal we (that’s me and Ed) are reading the Horse and his Boy or the Boy and his Horse (whatever-the-hell-it’s-called) – the third in the Narnia series (the first being my favorite thus far.) There’s a box of stewed tomatoes in the middle of the living room floor – for the life of me I don’t know why.

Oh yeah, we went to a monster yard sale in between things this morning. I found nothing to buy, yet like a seedy back-alley character the neighbor man showed me his etchings lamps and gave us three, for free. They’re sweet and lovely. I think many of the neighbor’s raise their brow in pity and wonder at our lack of furniture. I took the lamps but they’re table lamps and we have no tables.

The other day it rained, a few scattered sprinkles, during a walk on the mountain. This is nearly unheard of in this part of the world, in June. It made me happy. I loved, loved, loved it. I loved it as much as Fondue and riding my bike along the canal on a breezy Saturday morning. Things that make me happy: In addition to those things… wood ducks, wild native grasses, the twins.

More later.

30 May 2006


Okay, say something damnit. Hi – another busy weekend. Too busy. Ed and I sat in the hot tub last night – under a canopy of stars and towering redwood trees – and decompressed our weekend. Too busy. So much so that I feel really resentful toward all the going’s on. Not toward any one person or thing – just the whole package – it was too much. And too many foiled ventures. Perhaps if some of them had yielded better fruits.

Despite this, I happened to get some great pictures of a tree frog, above the waterfall at Elliot. The rangers were out in full force, meaning the Honey Bee was leashed the entire time. Used to be one was allowed up to three dogs, off leash, under voice control, in this open space area. Someone has deemed it a sensitive wild life habitat, however. So now the dogs must be leashed. From my understanding the only sensitive wild life area is a roped off area near one of the fire roads. I’m sure dogs run through that area from time to time. But just as often, because the sign explaining what the sensitive wild life habitat is all about is posted in the middle of the sensitive, roped off area, humans have to crawl over the rope, through the sensitive area, to read that it’s a sensitive area and be informed they need to stay off/out of it. Sheer genius. And the dogs are the problem. Jeeeeesh.

I know, I should oblige and follow the rules – but I can’t. I try to make up for it in other ways… rouge broom pulling excursions, frog docenting (though not always gleefully), caring for the planet in my own ways. Hopefully is the cosmic pinball game I’m equalizing my karma points. I’m sure one day I’ll get a ticket, and I’ll just deserve it. She’s a good girl – well behaved, sunny disposition, avoids people, loves kids – it’s really me. I’m the problem.

So I’m about to drop over $1300 on what I’ve learned is called bathroom trim. That’s the faucets for the sink and the shower stuff – handles, spout for the tub, etc. etc. That’s in addition to the 200-and-something I spent online for the showerhead from Mac The Antique Plumber. I figure, however, since I decided not to buy a new bathtub and since no wood rot was discovered in the walls/floors/ceiling, etc, I could splurge a little and get the trim I wanted and liked. Even still, it feels rather overwhelming and extravagant and crazy. Be that as it may – I’m gonna have the nicest trim in town.

It smells poopy around here.

26 May 2006


I know, I know, I’ve been terrible about updating here. Things have been going along swimmingly, yet quite busily as well. (Is busily a word?)

I love that when touched by Ithuriel’s spear, the true form of evil is revealed. So occasionally I pick the flower and hold it, waiting for something to change – wondering if the evil that lurks in me will suddenly become revealed in some striking form. As long as I look pretty much the same, at least we can assume I’m not cloaked – you get what you see – fangs and all (wink.)

For those who remember the Hell’s Kitchen saga of last year, what you mightn’t know is that the saga never ended. There remained a built-in dishwasher that never had a cabinet to build itself into. Without said cabinet, the dishwasher, when opened to be loaded or unloaded, would become front-heavy and tip. Hundreds of dollars of broken dishes later leaves me restless. The floor has never been quite finished, trim was never trum. And what’s gone unmentioned is that we haven’t had a bathroom – for the past year it’s been all sub flooring and a teetering toilet. To shower we go use the back cottage and the sink has been shut off for a year given a leakage problem. The little room can hardly be called a bathroom, and more suitably called a rather undignified toilet.

And there’s the problem of contractors/skilled labor in this part of the world being invariably (though not universally, as I’ve recently discovered) unreliable. Well, suddenly and without expectation a guy called me who’d gotten my name from a neighbor and through a rather whirlwind chain of events demolition began on the bathroom last Friday and has been proceeding at break neck speed ever since.

Sure, there was a trip to LA before that that failed to get mentioned here I believe, and last weekend a trip to DC. Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. What’s important is that this bathroom is finally coming together and every discovery has been great news! The walls and floor were ripped up to unveil NO dry rot! This is absolutely amazing (and what one gets for having a house built of precious woods!) An area that has been cause to suspect a roof leakage problem reveals itself to be a sink that drains under the house… as opposed to in a drain (!?!??!) It was easily connected to a drain and suddenly this likely means that there is/was no roof damage!

And all this news leads me to a notion called pronoia. It was first coined by a lyricist for the Grateful Dead. It means nearly the opposite of paranoia. It is a notion that there is a conspiracy by the universe to shower you with blessings. That by 10 am, an hundred things in the universe have conspired to go right, just for you. It really seems to be happening that way, if we pay attention.

There’ll be more later… but for now, if we touch ithuriel’s spear to Hell’s Kitchen it’s looking much better.. and the bathroom, the bathroom, the bathroom… ah.. what more can I say about that bathroom? It commences… love, love, love!

06 May 2006


I just got back from seeing United 93. I’m stunned. I’m reeling at how gripping it was, how difficult it was to watch and how affected I was by it. This from me – jaded, compartmentalized, heady and detached? Wow. It’s saying something, isn’t it? I’m vibrating. I certainly never believed that seeing the planes hit the towers would ever have an effect on me again, having been so visually and emotionally numbed by terminal repeat of major news outlets. But on a big screen in a context, it left me breathless.

It didn’t have that Spielberg-I-can-manufacture-precisely-one-emotion thing going. It conjured many. I would have been angry had the messages been overly political or patriotic. Sure, it’s a political event, it’s difficult for it not to be political. But this film was amazingly raw. We all know the outcome. I wasn’t left with feelings of nationalism. Strangely, I think that would have cheapened it. That might sound odd – it’s how I feel.

26 April 2006

That Girl

I had an amazing experience yesterday. I went to see the lovely and amazing Tati for a two fucking hour massage. Yes two.. I said two. Seeing her is always magical and amazing. Two hours of seeing her was no different – just more. More on that later.

So Cassie came by weekend before last, or maybe even weekend before that. We talked out possible strategies and supplements that might help my poor, aching feet and chatted, etc. Some things resonate, other things don’t. I like her approach. She puts forward a menu of ideas and encourages me to move toward those that resonate for me. I mull things over for longer than the average bird. My ways are so odd. I don’t discuss my processes often because they work even if they don’t make sense to the average onlooker.

For months (years?) she brings up the whole yoga thing. My neighbor has asked me to go with her for months (years?) So I approach said neighbor last weekend and she’s taking me along with her this Saturday morning. She was so excited – it was sweet. I’m really looking forward to it. Now I have to buy a yoga matt.

Anyways, back to Tati. I realize that one of the things I really get from Tati, besides a kick ass massage and wonderful intentional healing – is time. Time to think, reflect, not think, meditate, let myself go, stop myself. It’s really valuable time that I don’t give myself enough.

I had a reminiscence of traveling through the Italian Alps with a man on a train. It was cold. We were holding hands. It was dark. We were whispering. But I kept thinking that I’d never been to Europe with a man, never traveled there with someone I was so cozy and intimate with. Or have I? I kept finding these memories. I was with someone, getting off a train in Rome when a swarm of children surrounded us, begging, trying to pilfer our pockets for whatever they could. I grabbed the hand of a young boy from my pocket – I looked at his eyes, defiant and rebellious. I’ll never forget those eyes. He was missing teeth. His fingernails were painted blue. I was with this same man. Where was this coming from. And suddenly I remembered.

He flew from San Francisco and joined me in London. I think we were in Paris on Christmas and it was snowing. It was all beautiful and I remember feeling very, very tired. There was a time this boy thought I was something. He was a sculptor and a playwright. Conversation was indeed scintillating. I’m not sure what happened. After several years – four maybe – we said goodbye as easily as saying, pass the salt. And that was that. How was it that I had forgotten all this? Misplaced these nocturnal train rides, Paris, even? But I remember New York with this boy, almost like it was yesterday.

This comes back ‘round. One thing he mentioned is that he held in a certain awe that I would do what I say. I would make a plan and I would do it. It would feel big, a pipedream, out of reach – but I would mention it and then I would make it happen. This mystified him. The thing is, I wouldn’t bother mentioning the really out of reach, the real pipedreams, the things I feel are too big. If I’m taking about it, surely it’s eventually going to happen – when I’m ready. He’d see me drawing out an idea on a sketch pad in a train and talking to him about an idea. I’d stuff the scrap of paper in a bag. A few days later I’d have it etched out on canvass and be filling it in with acrylics – asking him how he thought I could get an affect I was striving for. He didn’t know how to make his ideas happen. I don’t know how to not let mine have life.

So as Tati is working her magic, I come to see these moments. They surface – scribbling in a sketch pad and then the canvass laying on the floor of the apartment in the Western Addition. And it seems strangely attached to telling my walking companion that we should rise early and go to such and such a place to try to take photographs of birds. And it seems related to telling Cassie, over coffee one day, that I’m exploring the possibility of buying a house. And it seems related to bad art nights and water color painting. And suddenly this is related to decreasing my hours to four days. And I know I need to work four days a week and I realize I’m afraid like I’ve never been afraid before. I’m afraid and I’ve been letting the fear stop me instead of trusting – just trusting – and doing – just making it happen.

So I went to The City today with this feeling left lingering and I sat down with the new Administrative Director and explained how I was going to work four days a week. He asks me when. June first, I say. We’ll work out the details, but let’s start there. And then I unravel a tail that needs telling – one best saved for telling here at another time. But this is another beginning. And I’m left with the feeling that there’s a scrap of paper in a satchel somewhere that needs transposing on a fresh canvass with all different shades of green.

I wonder what became of that boy. But not so much, I suppose, as I wonder what became of that girl.

23 April 2006


Down here in the flats, we do our own gardening. And gardening I have done. Yesterday was spent pulling weeds, turning soil, composting, pruning, primping and planting. Icelandic poppies, marigolds, columbine and things I don’t even remember what to call. Delicate things that probably take too much water but I find irresistible nonetheless. It’s not a draught year, obviously, and I’ll take what I can while there’s plenty I suppose. One day, no doubt, they’ll be back to water rationing and my lawn will turn crisp and brown. Carpe diem!

I only tended to the side yard and the day was done. This morning I rise, make coffee, toss in a load of laundry and all the while my body rebels from bending and lifting and pulling in ways I’m unaccustomed to bend and lift and pull. There was a day that I’d say I hurt in a good way. But mostly I just hurt. Once the gardening gloves are through the washer and dryer this morning, however, we commence once more. Perhaps that is redundant.. and the we is perhaps the royal we. Secret and I maybe, or me and my aching back. I love the hot tub. Good investment. Everyone should invest in a hot tub. Once we’re suffering the worst effects of peak oil, it may make a nice planter or something. But in the meantime.. sizzle, sizzle, sizzle.

Ed technically starts the new job on Monday – but he’s busied himself by working on his computer most of the weekend. How convenient while I slave away at chores. This is the side of him I can do without. This is the part I’d just as soon kick to the curb.

I think I mentioned I haven’t been terribly inspired of late. It shows, doesn’t it, in these mundane entries about nothing? I want to decrease the number of hours I work, to four days a week. It seems at any given time there’s a desire for something that’s not happening – like contentment for what we have even.

20 April 2006

My Normal

Well, the good thing about Ed being home/around is that he can pick up extra dog-walking duties. Don’t get me wrong – my favorite thing to do each day is to walk the dog. I totally love that – not only do I like the hike for me, I also get to see her in her most joyful moments. It totally rocks. But I had to go into the City yesterday to be fitted for and pick up my orthotics (yahoooo!!!!)

That endeavor involved a ten mile bike ride to the ferry – a half hour on the ferry each way, forty-five minutes in bus rides in the City (both ways) and then the ten+ mile bike ride back home. I left the house at eleven and returned home at five, but/and that involved having to wait an hour in the City for a ferry back (poor me, so I just had to stop by the Scharffen Berger chocolatier at the ferry building.)

I actually arrived back at the Larkspur landing at 3:30-ish – but took my sweet time coming home. Honestly it’s usually just a thirty minute bike ride – ten miles doesn’t take so long and it’s mostly on a bike path, aside the creeks and canals that run to the Bay. It was so lovely outside, however, that I decided to come up the back side of the mountain on the way home. Wow. I haven’t done that in awhile. Wiggly. I can’t believe I made it, with a backpack of shoes, a change of clothes and er… all that chocolate even!

The best part of huffing and puffing up the mountain is that from the peak all the way to my house it’s downhill. I descended into the soccer field where all the trail heads converge, and there in the middle were all the ladies with their dogs. I stopped and chatted while the dogs ran crazy around the field and everyone asked after the Honey Bee.

Ed was still gone with the Secret Agent Monster as I rolled up to the house, tossed the bike in the back, stripped and plunged into the hot tub, still covered with mud even. I tried to hose some of it off, but it stuck. Indeed, there was still mud stuck to my legs when we were out at the fondue restaurant, celebrating the several job offers Ed’s received and discussing the pick of the litter. Have I mentioned how much I love that fondue restaurant? It’s the bomb. It’s also a franchise, so it’s possible you could check it out (The Melting Pot), albeit a bit pricey. All hail fondue!

What a far cry from where we’ve been. When Ed and I first started seeing one another, he was an under-educated and under-employed boy of twenty-something - constantly broke and unemployed. He worked odd construction and labor jobs –boat building, maintenance repairs, work in the shipyards, as a painter, etc. etc. There’s been many years between now and then, we’ve gone from those days of $15/hour service and construction jobs to debating over fondue which six figure salaried position has the best benefits and equity packages. I’ll take these days over the past any time.

We’re happier too now – even through my complaining. Even though some days I do feel so totally done with us. I wonder if that’s normal. If there’s just some days everyone, no matter how committed, just feels done – doesn’t want another day of the same face, body, problems, etc.? I don’t know what’s normal. This is normal for me. What is, from day-to-day, that’s my normal. And right now, it’s okay. Right now, it’s good.

18 April 2006


I’ve been rather busy.. and uninspired. Did I mention Ed got fired? Yes. Ed got fired. Bummer. He’s not unhappy or freaked out about it, however.. so I’m not going to be either. It makes me realize on some level what a whiner I am. I go from You’re never home. You work too much. to Oh shit, you’re way too up in my space in seconds flat. Something to work on I guess. Why do I have to be such a malcontent?

13 April 2006

Follow Me

I’m all muddle-headed for the cold Ed generously shared with me. He’s so giving when he wants to be. I called off work early today – not so much because I must sleep, but moreso because I’m having a hell of a time concentrating. At a certain point I just concede that it’s not even right that someone should pay me to gaze out the window while my head’s in a day-dreamy fog. I’m not sleepy for the DayQuil and coffee, but I’d call what I am decidedly distractible. I’d describe it as a day of oh look, something shiny! It’s going around. It’s not terrible – but it starts off with a scratchy feeling at the back of one’s throat (at 4:30 am night/day before last I woke up with that burning swollen dry throat feeling – assuaged by a popsicle in the wee hours of the morning.) And then it burns on with a mild fever, loss of appetite and stuffy nose, etc. This too shall pass.

Day before I stopped work early too – but later in the day. Not for the muddle-headed stuff, but due to inclement weather and flood warnings. The town activated The Emergency Notification System (TENS) and I received a phone call around 2 pm, notifying me of imminent flooding and encouraging me to evacuate. I watched the neighbors evacuate. I thought they were being a bit premature. Instead, I made sure the electric equipment (cameras, lap tops and other valuables) was up off the floor and before even rolling up the carpets I went to see the water level in the creek/river. It looked okay. It was actually receding some as I arrived which was my cue to let the carpet’s lay. The rains were relentless, however – coming down steady and heavy for hours. All together, in a 24 hour period, we easily saw 5 inches. It continued yesterday at a much slower pace. The weather services changed the flood warnings (which mean flooding is imminent and/or occurring) to flood watches and/or advisories. The striking danger now, they say, is probably not so much the risk of flooding (which has abated some now that the rains have slowed and become more intermittent) but the risk of earth movement/landslides.

We saw evidence of this yesterday evening and we climbed the rise up Bolinas-Fairfax road to the Water District preserve around Lakes Alpine, Bon Tempe and Lagunitas. Slides were occurring all along the rises banking that road – even the short distance to the preserve area.

A few towns away there’s a Mill Valley man reported trapped (dead?) by a 14 foot wall of mud that came tumbling down. The earth is so saturated it’s now the people who thought themselves safe in the hills that have to worry. Those of us in the lower flat lands – in the flood plane –rest a little easier while our neighbors in their lofty perches begin to sweat. Whoever is worrying, it’s never good – though perhaps all part of the order of things.

I think of when I lived in the City, we never worried about such things. Cities are immune, for the most part, to most of the effects of inclement weather and natural disaster. Oh at least the inhabitants believe they are. It’s that little insular bubble of energy/heat/pollution that for the most part pushes the weather to the suburban areas – protects them from tornados and the like. Public works are set up to respond promptly and accommodate things like increases in volume of sewage processing and/or a terrifically windy day.

When things go wrong in a City, however, the level of devastation can increase just for how people pack themselves in to live so unnaturally on top of one another. But even still, it’s always amazing to me how relatively few lives are lost in natural disasters that strike first-world Cities. I know, folks might be thinking Katrina – but I’ve yet to see a good breakdown of urban versus rural life lost and the numbers were relatively small at the end of the day. There were predictions of tens of thousands – and I believe it was just shy over one thousand, wasn’t it? Compare that to losing upwards of 130,000 to 230,000 people in a single day, from that massive Indonesian tsunami, however – and it really puts things in perspective. Or does it? Are we capable of really understanding perspective at that level?

The thing is, when we hear numbers like this, 230,000, they don’t mean anything to us. I’d read a good/fun(?) book called Cambodia: A Book For People Who Find Television Too Slow. I think it was written by a guy named something-Fawcett. I read it a long time ago. Anyways, he talked about numbers and statistics and how we can’t really fathom or hold the impact of numbers that are really large. What does that mean? Does that mean one in five of my friends and family members, one in two? Does that mean, if they were lucky, entire families? On some level it’s got to be worse, don’t you think, if you’re the only survivor? I don’t know.. maybe, maybe not. I doubt one would ever think of it that way. We’re used to saying that the survivors are the lucky ones. I believe that. I think life is fun, even when we lose parts of the game.

So I try to embrace these numbers. Over the past twenty years, roughly 18,000 people have died of AIDS in San Francisco (about 2.25% of the population of the City.) Generally the current population of the City is believed to be about 800,000. All together, throughout the southeast, the death toll from Katrina was said to be something like 2,000 people – not from a single city, but throughout the entire region. Even still, however, consider the context of population density of New Orleans, estimated at roughly 470,000. Looking at less natural disasters, the death toll associated with 911 in New York City was roughly 2800 people – in a City of 8 million people. 2800 people represents just a little over .03 % of the population. That’s nothing when you think about it. Over the past twenty years roughly 85,000 New Yorkers have died of AIDS (a little over 1% the city’s population.) Even when you average that out, that’s over 4,000 people per year. I don’t even know how to compare these figures to populations in Indonesia and Southeast Asia affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami – given just the raw numbers, however, it’s clear these are relatively small.

While statistics are a bit old, I found one source suggesting that 41,000 women die of breast cancer each year in the United States, total. Similarly, the total annual AIDS deaths in 1995 was about 50,000, but that number seems to be decreasing with the advent of more potent therapies to treat the disease. I couldn’t even begin to figure out how we would estimate the number of deaths in the United States due to poverty and violence, but I’m sure it would outstrip these numbers.

So what’s the point here? Sure, many people die for many reasons, every day. What’s the point of comparing these statistics and then talk about 7,000,000+ Jews, Gypsies, queers, etc. who perished in extermination camps under Hitler’s Nazi Germany? Or the 2+ million deaths in the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge’s Cambodia (which was believed to represent 15 to 25% of the countries entire population)? Or the slaughter of upwards of 850,000 ethnic Tutsi’s in Rwanda? Or the stoning to death of a single woman in Afganistan by religious zealots?

The point is that there is something horrific and frightening and political about these numbers. And they don’t include the suffering of the living, who long afterwards, perhaps generations, are scarred by the events. Nor do they include the stories of people who are strangely healed by them either – the people whose hearts are uplifted by helping those more keenly affected by death and dying nor those inspired by the telling and hearing of heroic tales. What affects us more, broad sweeping figures of annihilation and destruction or the suffering of one – our mother, our father, our sister, our lover, our dog?

When it’s close, the personal becomes the political.. the political becomes the personal. It’s that one, I think, that we take into ourselves. The one whose suffering becomes our own suffering – or perhaps the end of their suffering is the beginning of our own – a slow overlap where we take possession. At first diagnosis, at first threat, they hold all the fear, uncertainty and pain. Later the loved ones take possession of all the fear and sorrow. And oh how we can caress it. And we have two choices – to become it or to let it go.

Those who become for a spell or forever are the ones who walk the earth hollow-eyed, always reaching out to touch something. They are aware of the thin layer of energy, space that surrounds them that keeps them from truly ever touching anything or anyone.

There is a chemical you put in pools that breaks the hydrogen bond at the surface of water – the thin sheath that the bugs walk across or that allows a leaf to float, rather than sink, immediately. Disease, fungus and worrisome stuff can grow in that space and become difficult to get rid of. At first blush, dissolving that layer makes all things sink and die. But it also allows you to touch the problems and deal with them. What a scary place to be.

Those who let it go – they’re like the ocean horizon. At first the line looks so clear where the one thing, the water, stops and the air begins. But it’s really not so clear is it? The water evaporates and mingles with the air and the place where these two things meet are quite entwined like the legs of lovers. Not only do they touch everything around them, they become part of it and it becomes part of them.

It was Rilke who wrote that if we fling the emptiness from our arms perhaps the birds will feel the expanded air with more passionate flying.

I lived in San Francisco during the time of the big earthquake of 1989. This was a 7.1 on the richter. My understanding is that the richter scale is logarithmic, not linear. Thus, the 9.3 magnitude earthquake that shook in the middle of the Indian Ocean in late 2004 was over 100 times the magnitude of the famed Loma Prieta quake. It was also the longest in duration ever recorded and I’ve read reports that suggest that the quake that inspired the tsunami caused the entire planet to vibrate over half an inch. Now… are you absolutely sure that you have a solid foundation, that your feet are securely planted on the ground, that the earth beneath you is solid and that everything you hold in your beliefs is right and sound and true?

I’m telling you, I think we’re all only scratching the surface – picking at it really, like an itchy scab. What’s down there deep is powerful, destructive and very, very fragile.

And now you're thinking.. enough already, we liked the pretty pictures. bring back the pretty pictures!