06 December 2007

Repeal Day

Here I sit, big as a house, while the baby rat-a-tat-tats a little soft shoe from the inside, my internal organs are merely her percussion instruments. Right then, it’s gone beyond soft shoe as she’s gotten stronger and bigger and the space available to her shrinks. She’s moved from dancing to boxing.

I keep meaning to write and then lose track, lose focus. So I’m not going to even strive for a great deal of sensible narrative tonight.

Whenever I see a bay nut this time of year I think of Cassie (aka Indigo.) They’re made of her favorite colors and I keep thinking that she doesn’t realize just how much she likes yellow.

They say that babies know who their core family is because they recognize the voices of people from the womb. Since I’ve been pregnant, we’ve watched all seven seasons of Buffy The Vampire Slayer on DVD. So I guess she’ll think Sarah Michelle Gellar is part of her core tribe. That’s just wrong.

Yesterday (happy Repeal Day, by the by) I stopped by Goth@m, what remains of a once renowned San Francisco piercing parlor called The G@untlet (they seem to use the same “G” logo) to have a few personal body ornaments removed in preparation of the girl’s arrival. Years ago, the SF-location closed down and one of the piercers started Goth@m. I’ve walked by it several times, it’s a stones throw from the old place, but I’ve never been in. I was in the neighborhood dealing with my tax guy, so I figured “no time like the present.”

A beautiful black man was working behind the counter of this somewhat sleazy looking hole-in-the wall of a place (no pun intended.) (The G@untlet was the equivalent of a clean well-lighted place to modify your body, this place had a rather dingy, back-room abortion clinic feel about it.) The beautiful black man, heretofore known by his nickname, T@sty C@kes (I don’t lie), had awesome tattoos – some of which included scarification, all of which were raised. He tells me that tattoos on people of color are raised because of their pigment. I had no idea and I don’t remember T. Lee’s tattoos being raised and I’m thinking, am I so insulated that I don’t have many friends of color with body art? He let me run my fingers over the tattoos – I love that raised feel.

So the beautiful black man called T@sty C@kes, with the fantastic raised tattoo and body jewelry has me hop up on an old and rickety exam table in a small grey room with a window that looks out into a dimly lit, dirty light well and he’s holding the needle nose pliers between my legs, shaking his head, saying he hasn’t seen a vagina in over ten years and how his Mom isn’t going to believe this. I try to console him by telling him I haven’t seen it for several months either. And I’m thinking, this is one of the things that make me different from other pregnant woman– who talk about the wonder of the baby moving and wax whimsical at the notion of motherhood. Their stories never seem to involve a T@sty C@kes between their legs with a needle nose pliers.

10 October 2007

Kosovo Music

Okay, this is very old, but I love these boys and had to share:

01 October 2007

Fall

I don’t know how it was I failed to celebrate, but in the big countdown to Zoe I missed passing the 100 day mark. Today is 98 days and counting… literally, days, hours, minutes… I’m so over this part.

Secret and I went for our last big hike on the mountain before Ms Thing’s arrival. Climbing the rise was excruciating (why did I think it would be a fun thing to do again?) I brought the camera in tow (because hiking up wasn’t enough, I needed to load down with extra baggage too) but despite stopping and looking with a watchful eye, I wasn’t moved to frame anything and shoot. It was beautiful and I did try to stop and take it in, knowing it’s the last time I’ll see it until sometime next year. It’s all golden and thirsty this time of year, and the trails are soft with crushed leaves in all different arrays of pastels and dusty. When we see it next it will be wet and green and misty.

The Madrone trees are in berry with the bark in full peel – ribbons of swirling red paper-thin curls of shedding Madrone skin adorn the trunks like they’re all gussied up for a cotillion. Just makes you want to dance with them. There’s one, my favorite, I pause at it and run my fingers along the cool smooth bark after clearing away a patch of ribbons and I wish it well and I ask for the tree to welcome Zoe. I can feel it saying hello. That will not be the last time the trees speak kindly to her.

I’ve just come in from a hot tepid tub and despite it only being 5:30 in the evening, I’m feeling full on lazy and sleepy – nothing that either a bowl of ice cream with chocolate sauce or the bundle of Asian Peers on the kitchen table seems to shake off (I’ve tried them both for good measure.) They say that the third trimester is marked by a return of the fatigue and bully if just the mere mention of it makes me want to nap.

We went to see The Kingdom last night. Note to self, you are no longer equipped for 7 pm showings. It was very predictable and the special effects were far less special than I’d hoped for – but there’s something about getting beat up from the inside out during an action thriller that makes the whole thing take on the tenor of one of those John Water’s 3D scratch and sniff movies. Watching the portrayal of the Saudi Muslim fundamentalists blowing up the all-American baseball game recalled that documentary Jesus Camp where the camp director touts, with no small amount of pride, that it’s high time the Christians started raising devout, brainwashed, terrorist children to strike back, just like them fundie Muslims. They really are all so indistinguishable. Isn’t it just so incredibly true that pride indeed does go before the fall? I mean, even when people don’t even realize how shameful they’ve become.

With October waking this morning, the season resolutely changed with a cool rain and overcast morning. When it cleared around mid-day and the sun bellowed across the sky, it was interrupted by high cottony clouds which just seemed to scream things like hot apple cider, butternut squash and pumpkin pie. It was warm, but it was certainly Fall.

14 September 2007

There Would Have Been A Time For Such A Word

There are high puffy clouds in the sky – not terrifically unlike the cotton ball clouds you see strewn across a Midwestern sky. A gaggle of swallows flit through the front yard while the Crape Myrtle has begun its spectacular fall flowering. Secret Agent Dog sits stoically in front of the screen door – ever a watchful eye. What I like is that when I look out the living room windows, I see mostly plants, green and sky. The season has begun to change and while partly sunny it’s a mere 65 degrees at the late hour of 11 am. The plants seem happier for the shortening days and reprieve from the relentless onslaught of summer in the North Bay.

In sad news, Marge is gone. She was here day before last, but yesterday when I went to check on her in the morning in preparation for introductions to a visitor arriving later in the day, she was no where to be found. Even her spectacular web was gone – suggesting clearly something sinister had transpired. Feeling hopeful that perhaps it was just a mishap, like the run in with Ms Honey Bee described previously, I went to the agapanthus stalks this morning without satisfaction. When Ed arrived home last night I grilled him mercilessly… Is there something you need to tell me? Something that happened in the agapanthus that you’ve been keeping from me? After ruthless interrogation I suspect he mightn’t have been involved. In lament of Marge – she should have died hereafter. There would have been a time for such a word… I suppose it is possible that she simply moved on.

It’s just a shy bit under four months until Zoe arrives – which seems all at once like forever-away and way-to-soon. I can hardly wait to show her the wildflowers in springtime. She’ll likely miss her first season of slink pods, but I imagine she’ll be quite alert when the later blooming wild irises start to parade. Despite the treachery of the trail, I’m determined to take her to the second waterfall at Elliot, to see the wild tiger lilies in full sail. I hope her little face doesn’t get scratched up while we rummage through the dwarf forest on the way. When the water stops flowing I’ll take her to the top of the falls where the little tree frogs live and the Canyon Larkspur bloom. While invariably she won’t have a perfect life, she’ll at least have no nature deficit disorder. We’ll plant flowers and harvest basil together and I’ll teach her how to bake bread and climb mountains. That is, of course, presuming I learn to bake bread in the next few months. All efforts continue to end in peril. Ever the Pollyanna – I’m certain I’ll succeed one day.

It’s nice to wander a bit into the future to a time when perhaps my belly isn’t stretched so taught, I can touch my feet and there’s not a creature inside kicking my internal organs for amusement.

10 September 2007

Back In The Saddle

As to the issue of Marge the spider who lives in the agapanthus, Secret Agent Dog took a leap through the agapanthus on Thursday last and lept right through the two stalks that held Marge and her web. There was Marge, big as a small farm animal, plastered, along with her web, in the center of Secret’s chest. I was mortified and screamed – which seemed to make Secret quite happy and excited, which seemed to cause Marge to scurry down her leg. For several hours Marge sat still as a stone in the drive, not six inches from the agapanthus. I debated for some time whether or not I should help her back – but decided to let her fend for herself – she’d suffered enough indignities for the day. Every few hours I’d go to check on her, by the early evening she was nowhere to be seen but by daybreak she’d rebuilt her web and was once again poised between the two remaining (albeit brown and dwindling) flower stalks. She’s back in the saddle.

31 August 2007

The Itchy Butt

The heat wave continues unabated. Ed worked from home to avoid the pre-Labor Day traffic (which is supposed to be thrice as bad as ever due to an impending Bay Bridge closure – for the entire weekend. The prediction is that Highway 101 through Marin will be a parking lot for three days.) as did LB. At mid-day LB joined me at the pool, she reading and doing the respite thing in the sun and shade, dabbling her toes in the water from time to time for a cool off while I swam a mile. (Yes, a stellar, fabulous, exhausting mile!) I’m going to have to start putting on sun screen because the freckles on my face are darkening and it reminds me of when I was an awkward kid.

Coming home I made Ed fetch me ice cream while I reposed in the back cottage in the cool breeze of the air conditioner and surfed the internet for nothing whatsoever. And then I went and picked up some leave-in hair conditioner to hopefully combat the effects of chlorine and since I was out, you know, a slice of pizza – which just made me hungry for the left over chicken enchilada in the fridge so of course I popped that in the microwave. Which all was chaser to the ice cream sandwich which started it all off before leaving the pool. And I act all mystified and bewildered when I get heartburn. Ha! (Yeah, hmmm… wherever is all this weight coming from, eh?)

LB’s coming over shortly, we’re taking our evening hike a little later in the evening in hopes of escaping the heat. Ms Honey Bee didn’t get a walk at all yesterday (way too hot) and today we’re leaving far later than normal… she likely presumes I’ve abandoned her needs as she’s looking rather despondent and forgotten at my feet. And little does she know she’s getting a bath when we return this evening… she’s got what we call “the itchy butt.”

I’m quite happy to report that I actually had a fairly decent night’s sleep last night. All is good is Zuzuland.

29 August 2007

Barely Legal

The most assiduous task of parenting is to divine the difference between boundaries and bondage. - Barbara Kingsolver

We’ve begun keeping a list of every time Zoe kicks me and we’re going to ground her for it later. I think we’re getting a good handle on bondage – we’ll have to work on boundaries no doubt.

We’re in week 21 now and although I promised some reflection on The Good Terrorist…. Well… there you have it – I’m not inspired.

It’s hot today, in the 90’s. I spent the morning doing chores before the heat of the day made it all feel too oppressive and then made the unfortunate decision to take the Honey Bee for a mid-day sojourn to the lake. Even though we relegated our activities to the shady side of the lake, it was still miserably and relentlessly hot. Only one room has a window air conditioning unit, so I lifted my skirt and let the cold air pour over my big sweaty belly before readying my things for a trip to the pool.

Getting to the pool later than I have to date gave me a taste of the family aspect of the club. Early in the day it’s open to adults only and not until afternoon does it open up to family swim activities. There were gazillions of kids and babies and moms – not so many dads. But even with the influx of young’ns most of the lanes were reserved for lap swim and people seemed to respect the lap swimmers.

I’ve been working up slowly (it’s only my 4th day in the pool) and currently I’m swimming 1100 yards – which is about 2/3 of a mile. I haven’t been in the water since the summer of ’01 and I’m way out of shape, but the water is so familiar and comforting to me – it’s like coming home. My body is so different and unfamiliar it’s an interesting contrast – feeling so invited and good in the environment and yet feeling so distant and uncomfortable in my body. The movements in the water are reflexive, however. I know how it’s supposed to feel to swim. I make little adjustments and compensate for my changing body shape, my more buoyant belly, my heavier hips and I try to get that feel. On some level, at least for a few weeks, I know that no matter what I do I’ll feel like I’m dragging my body through the water as I build up the right muscles and endurance to swim on top of (rather than under/in) the water. That’s just the normal road to getting there – nothing I can do about that except swim every day, push myself a little harder and have patience. I do wonder, however, as I’m dragging this bowling ball called Zoe with me, if I’m going to feel like I can swim on top of the water as long as she’s in tow.

After I’d finished my first 600 yards I paused and a man approached my lane and touched my shoulder. He asked if I was a competitive swimmer. Not for many, many, many years, I assured him. He said that he’d been coming to the pool for years and he’s seen no one swim as beautifully as me – how it looked so strong and effortless and like it was supposed to look. It felt nice to hear it, even knowing how weak and formless my stroke is given lack of practice. With each stroke in the water I’m correcting, coaching, reminding, adjusting – and yet to someone it looks beautiful and effortless. “No one else here swims like that,” he tells me.

When I was a little girl I remember watching Mark Spitz in the 1972 Olympics on television. The colors of the pool and the grace with which he moved through the water entranced me. I wanted to do that. Even as a young girl, I was never dissuaded by my lack of abilities or natural talent.. heh. I like it that I’ve never been afraid to square off with failure and keep trying to understand, persevere, anyways. I hope I can give that to Zoe – the willingness to ignore failure, one’s own incompetence and insecurities and do it all anyways in the face of it because what really is there to lose at the end of the day?

26 August 2007

Pregnant Pause

The human race has had long experience and a fine tradition in surviving adversity. But we now face a task for which we have little experience: the task of surviving prosperity. - Alan Gregg

I’m so out of the practice of posting I don’t even know how to begin or what to say. Greetings. This is my first “new” post on blogspot, all the others have merely been transplanted from Diaryland – a quaint little spot – let it never be forgotten, it had its moment. It was.

Week 20, the half way mark, of this pregnancy, has commenced. It’s rather daunting. The miracle of life and all that rot. The first three months were miserable and now I just feel big and uncomfortable. What do I have to look forward to? Feeling bigger and even more uncomfortable and then being in a lot, lot, lot, lot of pain and then terrified for the next eighteen years. And this was a choice… a planned and deliberate choice. What were we thinking!?!

Despite my whining, Saturday was an awesome day. I pruned my agapanthus in the morning, with the exception of two aging flowers acting as pillar to the web of my Marge Simpson spider (which resembles this, but I’d say mine is bigger.) I conferred with Ed on how to handle Marge and his advice was to just leave her be. So there she perches, though much more exposed than when nestled among the other towering scepters of purple flower.

Ed edged the lawn around the garden, which looks amazing after an eight hour stint last week where I weeded, pruned, raked and primped. Zoe’s dresser arrived a few days back and Ed hauled it in pieces, to be assembles, which now lay strewn across the newcomer’s floor.

I’ve been kavetching about wanting to find and pool and swim for years – since we moved up here – and we visited a swim and tennis club which looks like it fits the bill perfectly. It’s an outdoor pool, heated to 82 degrees F, and open year round. If you’re a Native Son of the Golden West they offer steep discounts. They don’t kick in until one has been a member for a few years but it’s even reasonable until then. We got to try it out for free for the day and it was the first time I lay face down, stretched out, for months! It felt so great – like something really precious and valuable. I was beaming happy well into the evening.

After our afternoon at the swim and tennis club we took the bikes out for a spin, while the Honey Bee ran along side, up to the park for a frollicky game of fetch. After a nice work out I retired to the hot tepid tub for some respite. It was a great day.

Despite the pleasures of the day, however, I had a restless and uncomfortable night. If I wasn’t waking to go to pee (an every few hour occurrence… thank you miracle of frill’n life) I was waking up just plane uncomfortable. Around 4 am Secret decided she wanted up on the bed, to be with the pack, and until she departed around 7 I don’t remember sleeping well – despite cozily rubbing noses with the Monster Grrrl, I felt cramped and uncomfortable and sore. So today really sucked by comparison – I did a modicum of gardening but other than that I’ve been prone on the sofa or lazing on the bed and I feel like a big lump.

And if you can’t tell by this post, I’ve officially become one of those pregnant ladies who seem to have no life or mind or thoughts beyond the simple fact that she’s pregnant. For those of you who have never been pregnant, it’s rather all consuming. For those who have, my sympathies go out to you.

I’ll try to bring up some non-pregnant topics next time… like the Doris Lessing book I’m reading (The Good Terrorist.)

26 April 2007

I Will Not Miss This

Yesterday was an interesting day, full of retrieval. I’ve sifted through old emails and electronic files, forwarding them on to final resting places. I rediscovered (and revisited) hundreds and hundreds of hours of wasted work I’ve done. There are full length discussion papers in mid-edit, lost in the machinery, and manuscripts for journal articles, fully edited and ready for publication, which have never seen the light of day. There are notes from meetings with lists of action items that never came to action. Proposals for strategic planning and expansion opportunities, replete with letters from collaborators and lists of funding opportunities, never followed up on by the greater machinery. It was heart breaking and painful to revisit the wonderful ideas that died on the vine. I spent the better part of the day stewing in revelation over all the thwarted work product. I will not miss this. I will not miss. I will not miss this.

24 April 2007

A Pen

I am in the sixties now, T minus sixty seven. I am in that place where I am resigning posts and appointments and relinquishing responsibilities that are moot to carry if one does not intend to carry them forward with their full weight. I had thought to maintain certain activities as civic duties, but a wise friend has encouraged me to let as much go as possible so that I might see, more clearly, the world of possibilities. Sometimes that is difficult to do not because my ego is invested but because this has been so much a part of my identity, a large part of how I have defined myself, for such a long time.

I like this unraveling, however. It is a tremendously healthy process. Every morning, when I start my day, I switch on the lap top and I make coffee or tea. Firstly, I check my email, personal and then work, I peruse the blogs and sites I frequent and by then it’s about 9-ish, time to start the real work day.

Increasingly I find disdain for the way the computer is centerpiece to so many activities. When I go out with the camera, the computer is the receptacle, developer, editing tool and print server for the finished product. The first line of communication with most of those I stay in contact with is the machine. Even this journal is online. I do my finances on the computer. We watch DVD’s on the computer. We listen to music through the computer. These little boxes have replaced so many human moments. I resent them.

I look forward to having this creepy black box sit idly on a shelf in the back study for several weeks on end. I will write with a fucking pen!

15 April 2007

Woot!

The lavender simple syrup is a grand success!! I’m drinking my own home brewed lavender soda as I write. It’s perfectly wonderful. I’m beside myself. Look, there I am. See. Beside myself. Hey… gimme that soda.


11 April 2007

Another Kind of War

We tooled about in San Rafael yesterday morning, gathering parts for the irrigation system (soooo stupid to pay what I paid to put that damnable thing in and then water the lawn by hand… /sigh), puttering about in hardware stores and then we went bowling for a break in the action. I so suck at bowling and at the same time I enjoy it immensely.

I made very licious black bean island soup – spicey and salty and hammy and garlicly. After the mountain sojourn with the Pumpkin Cookie, we perched on the sofa and watched a four part BBC documentary on the German/Russian War of the Century. It was striking, horrific, refreshing and bone chilling to hear German and Russian officers speak so candidly about unspeakable things. The documentarian would ask, would you consider that a war crime? Sometimes they would answer yes, mostly they would respond with a resolute no - it was war, it was the way it was. The Russian soldier relays how at the taking of Berlin he called the German officers to a house, one by one, and personally slit their throats – described the vulnerability of the human body and the easiest way to fell one.

I believe he was the man who responded, when asked if he considered this a war crime, that it was not, who is to judge him, how those years are, as they say, lost in the oblivion of history. But it’s clear those days stay with him keenly, in his mind’s eye, a file recalled simply, with some voice recognition pattern – perhaps a mere image or smell can recall than. Just like that. He’s gifted with no oblivion.

This morning we watched one of the Dog Fight series, I think about F16s. What was different about the men interviewed in the War of the Century and that Israeli fighter pilot in this Dog Fights episode was that the Israeli fighter pilot never stopped smiling and he lacked any (all?) humility. Line them all up side by side and Melnik, I think, was the worst – if there are degrees of evil.

Now that there has been enough viewing of war and human atrocity, we move on to more gentle pursuits – I’m going to see Marion Nestle speak at the Commonwealth Club tonight. I suppose that’s just another kind of war, eh?

10 April 2007

Cherry Darling

We lay in the grass in the yard while the sweet smell of hyacinth and other blooming things hover in the air. It’s private and quiet there, a little green oasis and respite from the world – though the world here is pretty quiet and private – it doesn’t require much escaping. Ed finished reading Speaker For The Dead aloud while I occasionally pulled a weed or pruned something. Secret played with her Jolly Ball, moving it about the yard like a soccer champ.

To speed things up, we went to see The Grindhouse. Vroooom, vroooooom.

09 April 2007

Holiday...

T minus 81. I’ve taken this week off work again, mostly because Ed lost his job and we haven’t had time off together, in years. When we take vacations, he’ll spend a not insignificant portion of the time working. That’s just not an option this week, so we’re lazing about, taking little day trips and enjoying our time together. It’s actually something of a challenge for us. When it comes right down to it, we prefer one another in relatively small doses.

On Friday night we ventured into The City for Cookie’s first-ever art opening. It was a smallish venue at Magnet, an HIV testing, counseling and case management center in the Castro. It was sweet and appropriate and I know from talking to folks that purchased items that he sold quite a few pieces. He’s produced a collection of mixed media pieces with a relatively high degree of curb appeal. He seemed quite happy with the turn out and the feedback and we had a great time.

Saturday I spent the day in the garden, finally getting the blueberry bushes in their big pots and the Boston Ferns that arrived last week in hanging pots over the hot tub. I still haven’t planted the citrus trees as I stew in indecision. Wiley, who I’d seen at Cookie’s show, came out for a hike. It was a somewhat unplanned and unexpected visit. He’d mentioned that he wanted to come out and without following up or confirming he just showed up. I’ve mixed feelings about that. I really enjoy people just showing up. I like an informal life that is open to people dropping in. I just don’t feel so great about Wiley, in particular, doing that right now (any more?). By the same token, I’m not willing to disinvite him to my life. (Generally, I don’t do that.) So I’ll just have to sit in my contradiction and ponder it for a spell. In the meantime, I had him mow the lawn.

Saturday evening Ed and I had craft night (something I think we want to make into a bit more of a routine..) We colored easter eggs (one of the fifteen exploded, spectacularly, in the pot – the shell hit me in the eye.. fortunately I wear glasses. That was Easter’s way of spitting at me!) His were absolutely fantabulous. He confessed that when he was a kid he imagined he’d be an artist. He’s totally gifted with this untapped talent, though he contends that he reached the pinnacle of his talent in the fourth grade and never progressed beyond that. I think if we develop a discipline together, it could be grand fun.

Sunday morning we gathered our many colored eggs and ventured into The City to the Pacific Rod and Gun club at Lake Merced where there was an Easter egg hunt and breakfast for the little children of gun club patrons. We ate hash browns while the little kids in multicolored pastel outfits scoured the field in a total of eight minutes. There was no shoot’n that day… amidst the bright orange broken clay pigeons and spent shell casings, children scavenged. It was poetic. This is what it’s come to.

It was still on the early side so rather than make the trek to the South Bay to visit Ed’s mother and have dinner, we trundled on over to Larkspur where the windsurfers set out into the Bay. It’s a lovely view of Ring Mountain and San Quentin State Prison where we toss the ball into the murky waters of the bay and let the Honey Bee paddle and play on the rocky beach.

We went home and changed clothes, took care of this and that, then did that South Bay dinner thing with Ed’s mom and ‘em. They ate honey glazed ham and George made me some lovely scampi. We left before it got too late or we got too tired – so it was a perfect little outing and the traffic wasn’t so bad.

This morning we rose early, puttered around the house, did some cleaning and went off to breakfast at the local Koffee Klatch. I stopped by the post office to get the (gulp) property taxes (I hope it makes it to the Civic Center by the deadline) in the mail and then we dropped Ed’s mountain bike off at the Cyclery. The day’s not over and there’s lounging to be done along with some wandering in the hills with the Monster Grrrrrl.

05 April 2007

Shelby Knox

Nature never did betray the heart that loved her. - Wordsworth

T-85 and counting. I’ve had an extremely productive week even in the face of identity theft and fraud attempts on my checking account. Despite having to shut down and re-open bank accounts, update new direct deposit accounts, etc., etc., I’m speeding forward on my end-of-the-job-world deliverables. I’m not sure why I’m rushing it. When I complete everything I’ve set out to accomplish I’ll merely have to divine a new list of things to do that will make me useful until day zero. Even still, this first list includes what I think are important. I can busywork with them into oblivion after that.

I watched the documentary, The Education of Shelby Knox last night – a Netflix arrival a few days back that I’ve been putting on the back burner. It’s the story of a young devout (straight/heterosexual) Christian girl who gets involved with the local Youth Commission in Lubbock, Texas and spearheads efforts to improve sex education in the schools.

As much as I resisted liking Shelby, she won me over. Her parents are conservative and Republican and really quite proud of both of these attributes about themselves and they’re also proud of Shelby. It’s apparent that this precocious teenager is wildly more intelligent than her parents. I truly get the sense that her parents sense and perhaps even acknowledge this. It makes me wonder why her parents, inspired by this young woman, aren’t undergoing their own personal transformations – questioning the church, questioning the status quo, questioning their own values. Maybe they are, I’d have liked to see the results of any of that.

I suppose what I enjoyed most about it is that it authentically captured a young woman going through this period of earnest questioning, sitting down with her pastor time and again, exploring issues with her peers. I might not like what I heard and saw some of the time, but it was real.

In her community, it seems to have been all the rage to do these vows of chastity with the church. I wonder if now, as a young college girl, if she still clings to that vow. I wonder, if through her personal exploration, she’s found different conclusions. It would be great to see a follow up… something like The Continuing Education of Shelby Knox.

03 April 2007

Freedom's Just Another Word

I had the most fantabulous weekend. It kicked off with the first of a double-dose of the enchanting Cassie – who celebrated a birthday last week by the by – and we wandered a little mountain trail with our darling dogs. The wild flowers are in full array and the whole place is bursting with green. (Might I just say that I love her!!!)

In the afternoon, Ed’s best friend descended from Santa Rosa with his expecting wife and their son for a barbeque. After great food and a bit of chatter, they packed up and went home following a trip to the local, home spun, organic ice cream store (aptly named The Scoop.)

On Sunday I had the most perfect morning with my new old friend Ella, who I mentioned a while back that I recently ran into after losing touch for some fifteen or so years. I can’t even begin to tell you I much I adore reconnecting with Ella. There are some people who are just kindred playmates in this life – Ella is this for me. (Cassie is like this too, but in a different way – equally magical.) Ella is totally toys and sparkles (she has a whole ROOM for her inner child to play in her house!) We went to the Alameda flea market where I got a bitch’n new vintage personal-sized fan and she got (among many other fun things) plug-in light-‘em-up plastic deer lawn ornaments (which I named Stephanie and Winona, despite the fact that they have antlers… I haven’t been totally explicit with Ella that they’re pre-op transgender M to F’s… but they’re totally living with the girls now so they’ll be happy, happy, happy!) She gave me a Looking Good for Jesus change purse out of her collection of change purses (He’ll oogle if you’re frugal) and a typewriter key bracelet. I loooovvvveeee toys and presents and I’ve been eyeing a typewriter key bracelet online for months now. It was just so … joyful!

Then came the second dose of Cassie (with her girl-thing in tow this time), when she came to look at a house for sale in my little town. The house isn’t going to work, but it was lovely to see them out and about.

We moved on to the shoot ‘em up part of the weekend and went to see Shooter. Silly boy movie – big explosions, etc.

When Monday morning rolled around, the reality of Ed being out of work and my time clock counting down began to set in – in the best of ways, really. I began going through my files and packing up papers and materials to bring back into the office and recycling things I’ll never need to look at again. It had a real feeling of T-minus-something-and-counting. A feeling like the next part of my life is about to begin.

30 March 2007

Pollyanna

In honor of TYWWBTBFSTT, I am leaving my job. My last day will be June 30th. I’ve been working with the Admin Director to time my leaving with the interests of the organization, least impact – most benefit, and I’m developing some objectives to complete between now and then given we’re firm on the timeframe now. Admittedly I feel both thrilled and nauseous about the impending change.

For those who know me best, this is a change that been some time in the making. The organization has been slowly de-prioritizing my area of expertise/emphasis and simultaneously I’ve seen the writing on the wall and preparing myself for the separation.

(It’s no secret, I’ve encouraged them to consider shutting down. While I contend it is the best thing for them to do – an elegant and brilliant end to part of a movement that has shifted and changed these past twenty-some years – it’s not something anyone is willing to hear or consider. In the past people have said, you should listen to Zuzu, however unpopular her opinions, she’s almost always right. But those same people won’t listen to this. While their ears are closed to it, I believe in my heart it is the right answer – and not a self-serving bone in my body speaks it. I don’t think it’s my job/role to convince them of this or keep them from pursuing other option, no matter how big a mistake I believe it is for them to do what they are doing. It’s best, in that light, that I go.)

Being anywhere sixteen years – being in any type of relationship like that – it’s hard to let go and I have all those mixed emotions that accompany letting go. Of course the people remain and those I care for most as friends will be in my life in those capacities and I’ll likely continue to support the organization in ways that make sense to me. In that way there’s not the grief of letting go and it’s not like a relationship is ending, it’s merely changing – in a good way. Change can still be challenging.. thus the nausea blended in with the excitement.

Because sometimes there’s supposed to be mountains to climb, I just got off the phone with Ed. He’s on his way home in the middle of the day because he was fired. I’ve just completed transferring my health care benefits to his coverage and initiated new relationships with a new team of doctors. (Fortunately, I’d just completed a physical and series of consults and all is good with this body, so it’s not a bad time to be without insurance I suppose… although that invariably sucks, it just sucks a little less than maybe it might otherwise.)

So the nausea I have been feeling over the change in my job is now expanded to embrace his unemployment. I can’t remember where I read it, but recently I read some Zen proverb that goes something like, If there’s nothing you can do about it, don’t worry. If there’s something you can do about it, don’t worry. Despite how messed up this looks, I’ve strangely got a good feeling about things. They’re going to work out – it’s just not clear how – but somehow when all the dust settles things are going to be even better. Call me Pollyanna…

24 March 2007

The MOMA in SOMA

I was absolutely thrilled when I spied a store in San Francisco dedicated solely to the making of cream puffs, only to taste said puff to find it filled with CUSTARD. They should be shot for false advertising. If they want to sell some errant invention called Custard Puffs, let ‘em have it. But they lie and they are wrong, all wrong!

I went to The City today (Saturday) for the MOMA exhibit on Picasso and American Art. It was interesting to see the original Picassos side-by-side with the American artists/art they inspired. It was a small but fun exhibit, thanks to LB (whose place of employment offers their employees free MOMA membership – we all got in free, Gail, LB and I!) There was time to rush through floors two and three as well (before LB had to be back in our cozy town for a dinner engagement.)

The SF MOMA (originally on Van Ness, now in its new location near Yerba Buena Park in the shopping district in Soma) was one of the first museums to recognize photography as a fine art form. It’s thus always had a great photo collection since 1936 - that I invariably draw inspiration from. I spied a great collection of framed real estate photographs that I do believe are going to inspire a fabulous little copy-cat installation of my own. If I get it off the ground, I’ll post the images.

17 March 2007

Outside In

I did rise at the crack of dawn and made it to Saturday morning yoga. I’ve missed my contortionist feat for several weeks running and have been less limber for the oversight. This morning I have the heat of stretching this muscle, greasing that joint, bending this way and asana-ing that. During yoga, I invariably feel nauseous. Afterwards, I feel great.

Today is the opening of Yellow Legged Frog Docenting season at Carson Falls and Peter and I have the afternoon shift. It’s our job to protect the egg masses. (I’m contemplating starting a new game called “chuck the newt” – although the rangers don’t advocate harming one species to protect another, those blasted newts are eating the egg masses – no doubt eating endangered plants as a starter and moving on to threatened egg mass as the main course to their sinister lives.) I have ceased looking forward to our docenting adventure because it’s too darn hot and the hike is hard.

To gear up for the Carson Falls trek, Ms G and I hiked from Alpine dam up the Cataract Trail, which follows along and criss-crosses a mountain waterfall. There are large deep pools along the way that hikers will splash in that some folks have been occasioned to swim in. I’ve since learned that these falls are another location for the threatened yellow-legged frogs and their egg masses. Unlike the other two locations (little and big Carson Falls) the only explanation for the decrease in population density in this area is due to hikers and swimmers disturbing the egg masses – which has driven their population to near extinction there. I do think if they posted some signs in the particular pools of most concern that the educational effort would indeed dissuade people from puddling about in the standing pools. Be that as it may…

My front yard is a blaze of color - waves of orange poppies wafting in the light breezes. Everything is beginning to flower. I’ve planted pansies and violas as border flowers in the side yards and am sitting quietly with the new lemon tree and Moro blood orange tree to see where they’d like to be planted. I’ve been digging up daisy bushes (which I loathe) and am working on ousting a few oleanders and trying to see what comes together with the front yard. I want to try my hand at more substantial vegetable patch (patch as opposed to garden) this year – but I haven’t really the space so I continue to think on it. I’ve got two blueberry bushes that a neighbor gave me that really must go in the ground by tomorrow as well. I love this time of year. My lilacs are bursting into flower as I write – a fragrant delicate bouquet to hang in the air and catch a breeze!

I just seem to not be able to be outside enough.

12 March 2007

My Beautiful Launderette

Last night we went to The French laundry in Yountville. I’d like to leave it at just a big amazing WOW but somehow that doesn’t seem quite enough. It was spectacular. I wish I had the menu in front of me and could just wax poetic on each culinary stanza of this gastronomic orchestra.

This was a really lovely way to kick start my vacation week. (I did have to work for a few hours on Saturday – so in the world of me – the full face vacation commenced on Sunday.) I spent Sunday morning in my yard, gardening. The poppies are starting to bloom and there’ll be a point, likely even by the week’s end, where the front yard will be ablaze of bright orange – an explosion of color. Sometimes I catch people standing at my fence, looking at the dancing color catching wind and bouncing under the sunlight, smiling. It’s a great thing – such a little package of poppy seeds.. who knew they’d spread like wildfire. That’s the thing about natives – they flourish in what other’s may deem to be a hostile environment. It’s what they know. It’s the conditions they thrive best in. Who are we to judge?

Ironically, a neighbor has planted two too many blueberry bushes and he’s told me I can have them. I’ll have to condition the soil with acid to coax the things into fruiting – those things that grow wild in the woods outside of Bemidji. The blueberry bushes were never in the plan… but who can say no to a blueberry bush?

So last night we were all transported to a very decadent land of the most amazing food on the planet. I’ve never had food like this before in my life. When it comes to food – it was truly one of those defining moments. Oh, yes. I see! Now, for the first time in my life, I’ve tasted what it can be. And I admit, it was a very decadent thing to do and I’m honestly not wholly clear if I should boast about the experience (which I’d like to do, because I’m caught up in the excitement like a child who has just discovered the state fair for the first time) or if I should be a bit shameful (because likely the price of the meal could feed an entire family in a developing nation for over a year…. Maybe two… families.. and years… and I wonder if any singular event like that can ever be justified.) I think it might be okay to at once be tremendously grateful and apologetic – so that is it – both things.

There are maybe a little over fifty restaurants in the world that receive a Michelin three star rating (on a scale of one to three – where most of the world’s restaurants don’t even rate a one.) Of those, a mere five are in the United States (I think the country boasting the most three star restaurants is France.) Of those five, only one is in California – and that would be The French Laundry. The master chef (Tom Keller) has opened another restaurant in New York, which is one of the other three star restaurants in the United States. It’s really, obviously, all about the chef. Restaurants are mere brick and mortar to their movable feasts. And you know, I’ve just always wanted to taste three star food because I’m certainly no three start cook (or two star cook… and really likely not even a one star cook.) In comparison, I’m cooking cardboard. Because it’s mycardboard, I’m occasionally proud of it – but it’s cardboard nonetheless.

11 March 2007

Something To Look Forward To

It’s another stunning day in the Northland.

I’ve been quiet of late, not terribly inspired to write. I don’t know why. Work stuff is work stuff – no new news to report on that front. I’m trying to breathe deeply and trust that moving on is good and right and remember that almost anyone leaving any work situation after many years is likely riddled with mixed emotions about it – both good and bad. Especially the bad shouldn’t be given too much weight. Looking back I know I’ll remember this career fondly, be proud of what I’ve accomplished and know I stayed just a few years too long despite my better judgment. It will be my lesson to listen and act in a more timely manner to the dictates of my conscience and heart. Yes, I remain a little nervous about it all. But somehow I know that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Tonight we’re all about royal decadence. I have reservations at The French Laundry. In the realm of Things To Do Before I Die, The French Laundry has been one of the things on the list. I’m totally stoked. One possible down side is that my reservations are for five and the original additional three all backed out (that’s another story.) We’re bringing one of Ed’s coworkers and his coworker’s wife and brother.

22 February 2007

Little Star

Burrrr… I’m freezing cold. Okay, it’s not freezing cold… it’s fifty-something.. that must seem like just plain and simple whining to you Mid-Westerners and Northlanders. I suppose the fact that the wild irises are blooming on the mountain, the shooting stars, milkmaids, hound’s ears, slink pods, Indian warriors and assorted other wildflower fare are blooming madly negates any sympathy I might otherwise accrue for my ‘plaints of chilly marrow. Yet here I am crying chilled to the bone!

If you’ve any sense of compassion you’d at least eek out a sympathetic poor sod, even if you’re tongue in cheek about the whole thing. Over these modest wires I won’t even notice the eye rolls and will feel imminently cared for, even if it’s all a grand illusion, a big ruse. Even if it is a ruse, if I’m none the wiser, what would it matter?

I’m not want to write about work here – it takes up a great deal of my life and I resist it infringing on these parts too. Once and awhile, surely, I digress, transgress, sully this sacred space with that messy stuff. It’s been a difficult year there, calendar year really – not awful, but certainly not easy – painful. Painful? You might query, How’s that… painful? At the root of it, you see, there are really good people struggling together, sometimes against one another, sometimes in the same steaming pot of stuff, and the lot of us concoct a pretty toxic brew together – despite ourselves, our best intentions and all efforts to concoct something other. It’s like we can fancy ourselves as fabulous cinnamon sticks – all sweet and spicy and a little hot – but somehow when we come together we begin to ferment and it doesn’t result in something pretty anymore. Maybe it once did – I’m sure at once it did, despite ourselves even then.

I don’t think our intentions have changed one iota. I think our ability to envision or believe in something (someone?) has. I’d like to believe that I’m just speaking for myself. I know the way this goes if I help to find a voice for like minds. I’m accused of leading a charge, manipulating others, putting thoughts and words in their mouths and heads. And the whole damn thing can (and will) likely backfire if anyone agrees that they’re not speaking their own mind, but rather mine. I don’t really lose anything if that happens – but rather, we all do. We all lose the possibility of something different happening (rather than this terminal sameness.) I don’t think it means as much to others that we break these cycles. To me it would be symbolic of our ability to grow (emphasis on symbolic.) But oddly, that would leave me with a sense of rightness and hope. All this is mission.

I know, I’m speaking cryptic gibberish. What else is there? You don’t really want the details unless I’m willing to form them around constructive examples – leaving them evaluable and/or instructive. That would take more of a tome then I’m sure anyone really wants. Maybe the bottom line comes down to two simple words “big sigh” or a gesture shrug. You know what they say about the violets in the mountains? I feel like a little violet.

01 February 2007

I'll Never Be Back

When seeing a new place I often think: I am going to come back here later – when I am rich, or when I have more time, or when I have a purpose, or when I am alone with someone I love – and do this right. But it is self-deception. More often than not, my feet lead me somewhere new rather than somewhere I have already been. And as I sat at that window watching the train bore through the heart of China, I had a different, more probable thought: I’d better remember what this place looks like. I will never be back. – Brad Newsham

If we could hold each day with a little more reverence – both the good and the bad – and realize we’ll never be back, I think we’d all be better off. Even bad days would take on a more precious quality. It’s never going to be bad precisely like this again. Which even makes bad a little special I think.

I went to see Tati with the magic hands this evening. It’s more than her hands that is magic. Something always reveals itself in her presence. Tonight, for example, I realize that I have an incredibly difficult time simply letting go. I hold on. I resist. And yet when I relax enough to let go, the truths of the universe seem to greet me – my answers find my questions. Tati has taken to using hot stones in her practice and they open me up and the muscles relax under their heat and weight – hastening the process. But tonight I resisted and resisted and resisted moving to that place where my body is left behind being whim to her magic and my mind is freed into other spaces far away. (Maybe the stones kept me there?)

I was freed up enough, however, to remember that it’s time to let go.

The Mayans believe that when you are born you forget who you are and it’s the role of the villagers to sing you back into remembrance. They sing you your name. I read a short missive recently that a parent wrote about her son. He speaks of what he learned in his other life. How when he was eleven he fell off a ladder and was killed. When his parents or grandparents go to teach him things, he tells them that the other boys parents taught him that too – and goes on to fill in more details. He forgot to forget before he was remembered back into being. Sometimes I think I feel glimpses – not of another life, but of some time before and those teachers whisper things to me through my dreams.

I like the weight of this flesh. I like the way it feels curled up cuddling the dog near the fire place and the taste of smoky tea and lavender soda. I’d better remember what this place looks like.

30 January 2007

Food, Glorious Food!

Max and I met for lunch in the dining room at the Palace Hotel. We split the arugula Salad and I had this wonderful organic chicken topped with fennel salad, oranges and a light orange sauce (with a few capers thrown in for measure.) We split desert too – something like a cream puff with Bavarian cream, candied cherries on the side. It was all really, really, really nummy. Afterwards I strolled the ferry building shops until it was closer to time to board (picked up some herbs du provence at LuLu and some lapsong souchong tea from the Imperial Tea Court to compare to the Silk Road’s version I recently ordered from Canada (which was on the doorstep when I arrived back from DC last night – around midnight – yahoo!)

Might I say that I’m totally digging on the lapsong souchong tea. Ed and I stayed up until about 2 am sampling the Silk Road’s stuff. It’s absolutely enchanting. (I’m still in search of the perfect glass tea kettle in order to try out the tea flowers that Cassie gave me last weekend.)

Okay… enough about food for awhile (though Crème Violette sounds divine, doesn’t it?)

28 January 2007

Everybody Lives But Us.

I JUST FINISHED READING Son of a Witch. I highlighted a passage from the book that I felt partial to awhile back. To refresh:

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 store, 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?

AND SO NOW at the end of the day, is there illumination. Of course. Of course.

I ADORED THE BOOK, more than Wicked. It’s something of a coming of age story that goes beyond coming of age. The backdrop for the first half is our hero, Liir, in a comatose and decrepit state, being played back to life by the lilting and beautiful music of the lovely Candle. The Sisters left him with her to heal and having no healing power and a soft (near invisible) voice, she picked up her instrument and played with her heart (and the feather of a pfenix) the boy back to life and health. This is the context for our stroll back through Liir’s life to the events which brought him there.

(The Sisters worship the Unnamed God- though while they believe the Unnamed God created humans in its likeness, The Superior Maunt believes that people of the great City of Oz has recreated the Unnamed God in their likeness instead. She’s also attributed with this reflection, Wisdom is not the understanding of mystery, she said to herself, not for the first time. Wisdom is accepting that mystery is beyond understanding. That’s what makes it mystery. And for some reason all that makes me think of Edward Abbey… I digress.)

IN THE BEGINNING, orphaned, lost and alone, his mother (Elphaba, the Wicked Witch) having been killed by the callous and cruel visitor (Dorothy), Liir goes in search of any family or semblance of kin he might have left. He’s uncertain of his parentage – he knows Elphaba raised him and is perhaps the closest thing to a mother that he knows, but given her lack of maternal characteristics, Liir felt more a charge in her care than a son to her. Be that as it may. He sets off to the City of Oz in search of the Tin Man, the Lion and the Scarecrow. The Scarecrow (who will later rule Oz for a spell) relays the following:

”The Tin Woodman has left to cultivate the art of caring. He has his work cut out for him, poor sod. The Lion is suffering severe depression; his cowardice was his sole identifying trait, and now he’s pitiably normal. Neither of them can help you much, I’m afraid. You should get yourself out of here while you can. Start over.”

“Start over? I never started the first time. Besides, it’s not getting out that I need to do. It’s getting in.”

SURELY LIIR goes to the darkest places in Oz in search of the allusive family, the allusive belonging. He explores the country, betrays, amends, fails and redeems. He learns to love and be faithful. He slays the dragons even though the blasted demons stole his broom (the only remnants of his connection to his mother) and nearly stole his life (the reason for is desperate and near death state which Candle plays him so vigorously out of.) It is after he is played back to life, however, that he goes battling his real demons. And yes, he slays the dragons so that the skies might once again be safe for the birds to fly and with this, of course, spring can come again – because so many know springtime by the coming of birds!

It is that one quote that I pulled out earlier, however, that is the heart of the matter, the what of the what, the is of the is. The novel is about unmasking the masked so that they may finally live fulfilled and complete – so that they might know themselves and live with themselves and as who they are.

Early on in the book there’s this foreboding line:

”Everyone dies. It’s a question of where and how, that’s all.”

THIS MIGHT SEEM SIMPLE, but Liir has met an Elephant, disguised as a princess, who only wishes to die as an Elephant and a major part of the drama is Liir making his way back to her, with Candle, to shepherd that transition back to herself, unmask her, so she might die as her true self – unmasked and revealed. Exposed. Where and how is quite important in this instance.

(I loved this part, not relevant.. or maybe completely relevant, I’ve yet to stumble on the connection: In four different hands, applied at four different opportunities, to judge by the aging of the text the wall read ELPHABA LIVES! OZMA LIVES! THE WIZARD LIVES! And then EVERYBODY LIVES BUT US.)

SO HERE IT IS in the culmination, the final moment, in the chapter titled No Place Like It (home, of course):

The colossal might of wickedness, he thought. How we love to locate it massively elsewhere. But so much of it comes down to what each one of us does between breakfast and bedtime.

Remembering Princess Nostoya [the Elephant disguised as a princess] he thought: Sever us from our disguises. Then he flinched, almost in disgust. Was that a prayer?

WHAT A LOVELY ENDING! (That’s not precisely the end, but maybe it should have been.)

23 January 2007

I Linger on Her Thigh

I linger on her thigh a fatal moment. - L. Cohen

I watched the Leonard Cohen I’m Your Man documentary last night and was simply not impressed. But my love for the man wasn’t tarnished. I could be happy being lulled to sleep by his resonant deep voice each night. He doesn’t sing, he preaches. You have the likes of Bono saying things like, he walks up to the edge of the abyss, looks in and laughs. He’s trying to be clever and yet I wonder if he’s ever listened to the man. Cohen doesn’t walk up to the edge of the abyss and laugh. He worships at the edge of the abyss. He goes there and grovels. It’s why he’s so desperately beautiful.

I had such a stellar weekend; it seems like counting pennies to retell it – all these shiny things. Yes they are good. I reconnected with an old friend, Ella, who I haven’t seen in forever and somehow we lost touch and I simply love her. I cannot express how good it was to see her again after all these years. She is the same yet even more beautiful, she is the same yet very different – deeper, calmer, lovely. It was such a prize to see her. She is filled with so much light and it reminds me to be happy just to walk with her. It’s odd. I used to think she was filled with sadness, but now I realize I misunderstood. It was me, I think. Not her. We will see each other again now.

I briefly mentioned a visit up the Coast to a vacation rental community with some friends a few months back. Two of said friends, heretofore shall be named Emma and Nigel, were married in a clandestine ceremony (aka eloped) in November. They were both to come up with Cookie on Saturday night for dinner and a show, an a capella performance I think I referred to previously by a local group called Solstice. (Since I’ve learned this is a very popular name for all women vocal ensembles – include derivations like Soulstice, etc.) Nigel wasn’t able to make it in the end, but without him we had a wonderful time. I made so much food I haven’t had to cook again all week and there’s still more to go – baked ziti with herb roasted chicken, creamy pesto and capillini, rosemary sour dough bread with fresh garlic and rosemary olive oil dipping sauces, a massive salad…. You know, all the heart healthy stuff.

Cookie spent the night. He seems to stay up quite late and thus sleep in quite late. Ed and I were able to run a hoard of errands before he even knew we’d been gone and out to Terra Linda, San Rafael and back. Once he rose we took a promenade around town (he’d never seen it in the daylight before), picked up Honey Vanilla Lavender ice cream at the local parlor and ate while we strolled and then Gaye showed up for an afternoon hike. Ed whisked Cookie back to the City and stopped for a last round at the range (did I mention he loves the shotgun I bought him for the holidays? Come the revolution, those pigeons best watch their tails…)

Those are all the shiny things. It was a stellar weekend. Come Monday I was still content with the right amount of fullness and emptiness – the right balance of together and alone, new and old.

Lately, I’ve just felt like playing. It’s such a great little playground we have here… this planet, this life, this skin, these kisses. Like the man says, I linger on her thigh a fatal moment…

18 January 2007

Untitlled

They joke about the status quo to break the ice. Once the ice is broken I hope they all fall through. (Let’s grow old and die together. Let’s do it now.) - Ani DiFranco

I’m still feeling happy and optimistic – we’re at the first ides, 1/24th of the way into the year and it’s still rock’n the free world. I was walking down Fillmore Street to Union today. It’s a crazy steep hill – they’ve had to turn the side walk into stair steps because the grade is so drastic – you’d probably just slip right down into the bay without the terracing. (It was so stellar, blue, clear way up there on top of the world. You could see Alcatraz clear as a bell and all the way to Canada if you squint.) I was thinking about something and it struck me, there’s a thought to record – a moment that moved me – and I was suddenly wondering about this need to record thought. To prove, maybe, that it happened? To document that I think and feel and sometimes do both at once?

I’m often frustrated because I don’t feel the stories in me, I don’t hear them, they don’t come out in some bounding explosive narrative that can’t be turned away from and erupt like a pipebomb, wiping out everything in such-and-such a radius. I guess what I’m saying is that I’d like to kill us all in one devastating sweep of profundity. I want to write but I don’t feel my story. I do write, but I don’t mean like that. I mean my fiction, my inner facts. But what’s true is that I do have these stories, but the ones that come all easy – they don’t count, you see. Unless it’s squeezing blood from a stone and all painful and oozy, it just doesn’t count. It’s not real unless it hurts. What bullshit is that? When really, I delight myself often with the stuff that comes light as the breeze.

There he was
Sleeping soundly
After killing giants all day
And there I was
Throwing stones that never hit the mark.

I love that and it doesn’t even hurt.

16 January 2007

TYWWBTBFSTT!!

I think Chris Baty is fabulous (do we think he’s single, age appropriate and in the market?) I totally love his idea of the Adventure Log 2007 aka TYWWBTBFSTT (The Year We Will Be Trying Big Fun Scary Things Together.) I’m so there! That’s my kind of fun. Hold my hand, let’s jump! I don’t like, however, that people announce the big fun scary things before they do them. I think the rule should be that you only get to talk about them while you’re doing them or, in the example of base jumping, after you’ve done them. To me, adventure is the thing of action, not the thing of identifying the potential later action.

If I lived in Williamsburg, Virginia, for example, I would sign up to take John Pomp’s valentine’s day glass blowing class for couples. (Doesn’t that sound like fun!?!?!!!) But I don’t.. /sigh. I don’t think it’s scary, but it does sound like big fun.

Yesterday I took my (relatively) new neighbor, Jaye, on a hike to Phoenix Lake. She and her husband have lived here several months and have yet to avail themselves of the mountain. I hope the trek made the mountain more accessible and less a mystery. It was nice to chat with her – cultivate a friendship. There’s not a big deep big click there, but I imagine, overtime, that might be possible.. there’s a little click. That’s good enough for a new circle in the ever widening eccentricity of circles that to me is community.

I’m so madly different than I was even five years ago.

13 January 2007

Wild Cat

Bunny, Rose, Ed, G and I all went to see The Good Shepherd last night. What’s the casting of Angelina Jolie? That was weird. I liked the movie, however. Matt Damon was indeed stellar and I like the kid who played his adult son. We went to a six-something show and were home before ten, leaving an evening of concerted bundling beneath blankets and robes as the temperatures plummeted in these parts. The thermostat, which was turned to nothing before slumber, didn’t stop the heater from cranking out as the interior temperatures were below 40 and the thermostat doesn’t go lower than that. That’s some crazy shit.

Despite myself and the icicles dripping off the still flowering (though sad and frozen) potato vine, I rose at 7:30 and pulled on layers and layers and layers, grabbed the yoga mat and trekked the few blocks to the women’s gym for an early Saturday morning class with Kaye. After bending and twisting and stretching and yanking my body here, there and ways it ain’t suppose to go, I was sufficiently warmed and even took the Honey Bee out for a stroll. Pools of standing water were frozen and icicles dripped from the outdoor fire-sprinklers on the patios of the units at School Park Plaza.

LB called at 11:30 suggesting a hike. I told her she was crazy and high and that perhaps at 1 pm, but anything sooner was just out of the question, even with these layers piled on like they are. So we’ll be heading out within the hour yet, but I’m holing up in the warmth until the last possible moment.

I’m worried about the birds. Have others been following the story of the dying birds in Australia?

Yesterday afternoon, instead of the regular pilgrimage to Bon Tempe that seems to have become routine, we took the dogs to Deer Park on the old stand by that I call the Long Loop. On the Buckeye trail (which joins a fire road with a switch back trail by way of narrow and exposed ridge trail, the same one which my mother tripped on – leading to a fall and the fateful broken wrist a few years back) I spied something unusual on the hillside above us, near a spot that forms a natural stone alter of sorts. Succulents will grow out of the black rock there which in the wetter season is decorated with some kind of orange lichon-looking stuff. It’s a favorite sunning spot for the western fence lizards and lots of wild flowers blossom about the place in early spring. There are two stones on the bank of the downward slope side of the trail – perfect for perching and enjoying the sun as well as a stellar vista of rolling hills and valley. Anyways, above this spot, about twenty yards up the hill, I pointed out something I hadn’t seen before but I couldn’t make out what it was.

As we drew closer to the spot, Peter guessed a bird, a stone, a log. I asserted I suspected it was a cat. First I proposed a common house cat, then perhaps a wild bob cat, but as we moved closer and given its size, maybe even a mountain lion cub? It had to have been near thirty pounds – quite large for a bob cat. I took a few pictures and when I was able to really zoom in on the pictures it seemed quite evident it was a bob cat, though up close and personal, in real life, it was easy to mistake it for a puma. It was ginormous! (Also upon further inspection, it was hissing at us.. heh. Good thing the Honey Bee didn’t hear and take on that challenge.) It made for quite a bit of excitement on the trail. We moved further down the switch back and were able to look up and fortuitously see it leap and pounce on its prey. That was cool. I’d post a few pictures but they really didn’t turn out that well.

10 January 2007

Live

Live to the point of tears. - Albert Camus

09 January 2007

Where'd You Get Those Boobs?

The only thing standing between me and greatness is me. - Woody Allen

Every day we must point out the lucky things that happen that make this the most wonderful and luckiest of all years. The year started out quite grand with Pelosi being sworn in as Speaker of the House and the fortunate events have continued. The sun rose again this morning, despite so many decries that the End is near. The wild lavenders continue to bloom in the kill zone of my driveway median, despite the encroaching cold (it’s supposed to go into single digits later this week! Absurd!)

There is a man who lives down the street who has always struck me as odd. I’ve never liked him. He makes me feel uncomfortable and he’s a bit touched, a bit off. This morning Ed saw him and when he returned with the Honey Bee following their morning sojourn he said, “you know that kind of odd guy that you don’t care for? He had boobs today.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, “do you mean man boobs?”
“Oh no, definitely not man boobs.” He replies, “But also not boobs that make physiologic sense with his body.”
“What do you mean?” I press again.
“Well,” he continues, “they were more like big giggly saggy sixty year old woman boobs that hang rather low.” He explains as he gesticulates with his hands, as though he’s cupping low hanging boobs in his hands and wobbling them about.
“Weird,” I respond. “I don’t like that guy.”
“He was on the other side of the street and further up, other wise I would have asked him where he got the boobs.” He said flatly and then left for work.

08 January 2007

I Squander That

It’s like, at the end, there’s this surprise quiz: Am I proud of me? I gave my life to become the person I am right now. Was it worth what I paid? - Richard Bach

Saturday Ms Cassie came for a stroll and in the evening Cookie arrived (quite late) to spend the night following a celebration for Hannah’s fortieth birthday. It was a great soirée – a potluck, eighties music, dancing, periodic turning up of the lights for words or song or what have you. It was an absolutely lovely event.

I’ve always erroneously believed a homophone was actually a homonym - me and my errant ways. It’s perfectly shameful!

In the afternoon, G drove out for another hike around Bon Tempe and I scurried home for a hot tub before an hour and a half massage with the magical Lomi Tati. I arrived home at 6 and I was like jelly. I skipped dinner (bad girl, no donut) and ate a whole package of Boursin fine herb and garlic cheese on cracked pepper water crackers. It was totally decadent.

Like Bach said, I gave my life to become to person I am. Is it worth what I paid? Or do I need to give my life to become something I value more? I think it was worth it to give my life to become what I became. And now it’s worth it to become something different. I’m merely having a difficult time reconciling some competing sets of values. I guess I know, intellectually, that art and politics, social change – they’re not really competing - indeed they can be incredibly complementary. The time I want to give them in my life and how I feel about them, however, is in competition – or maybe simply at odds.

I’m incredibly blessed and yet sometimes I squander that with my angst.

05 January 2007

The Fun's Just Started

The world keeps ending but new people too dumb to know it keep showing up as if the fun’s just started. - John Updike

I’ve recently discovered Eddie Izzard and I love him. Maybe this is like my discovery of the reality TV show, Survivor. Everyone rolls their eyes, and I can actually hear them thinking “that’s so last millennium.” I suppose the result of not having a television is that I’ll never be a hip trend setter in the glamorous world of pop culture. If you don’t know what’s happening until it comes out on DVD, it’s hard to even feign being bleeding edge about such things.

I do in fact feel a great deal of optimism about the aught seven. It’s going to be a good year.

It’s been a terrific day. I woke to morning coffee – soft and lazy, blog reading, internet perusing like some people read the newspaper (but without the crinkly pages or newsprint on my fingertips.) LB called and asked if I wanted to hike today, so I took a shower, did a few loads of laundry, emptied and filled the dishwasher and dressed for a sojourn with the Honey Bee. It was a brilliant crisp blue perfect day. I took my camera but I wasn’t inspired to take pictures. After all was hiked and done I walked to the post office (tubes on the way, Alison!) and then to the bank and then home. Secret loves these little tool about town things. She walks about like she owns the place, little captain of her band of grrrrrrl gang.

I heated up some perfect chicken vegetable soup. Have I mentioned what a soup kick I’ve been on since the weather turned? Each week I roast a chicken and after a fabulous feast of that I start deconstructing the bird for all its pieces, the good meat in this pile for the soup, the stuff we don’t like for the Monster Girl, the carcass in a pot with an onion, three chile d’arbole, celery scraps, garlic, parsley, a whole mess of seasoning for a three hour boil and simmer into stock. The house smells brilliant and alive. There’s something about using the whole thing that feels so graceful. When the time comes the next day to add the potatoes, celery, carrots, corn and onion (when I’m feeling frisky a daub of chipotle paste for a kick) it feels wholesome and good. Anyways, that was lunch, a small bowl – a late lunch, around four.

After this I hopped on my mountain bike (which is in bad need of biannual maintenance) and road for a good hour up the back side of the mountain to five corners, from Phoenix Lake, down through Deer Park and then back home. I’ve been rather lazy and I haven’t done this trek in a while (I could tell.) My back (ouch) felt it more than legs or lungs (yes, I’m even optimistic I’ll lose that weight I gained when I stopped smoking frill’n three years now…) So after the last mile or so, which is a lovely coast down hill the whole way, I pulled up to the house, tossed the bike aside, tossed the clothes aside and plopped in the hot tub with a shot of top shelf Captain Morgan’s spiced rum and wallowed in the warmth under a quickly setting sun. Stars illuminated in a deep indigo blue night sky behind the silhouette of the towering redwood trees.

Once the heat had found its way deep to my marrow, revitalizing a kernel of me that felt spent and done, I dressed and LB and I went to my favorite fondue restaurant for a seven oclock reservation from which we just returned, just a shy bit before ten (talk about slow food!) It was awesome (as always.) I just finished folding the laundry of which I spoke earlier and I’m cozied up to the fireplace with a good book, a tall cool glass of blood orange Italian soda and that electric throw (which mom contends will give me cancer, but three cheers for the deadly electric throw! Every home should have several!) You know, if sort of feels like the fun just started….

04 January 2007

What I Have To Say Is This..

I wonder sometimes often if I have anything to say. I mean anything imaginative and creative. I love to read. I enjoy writing, though I lack patience on longer works. When I was a kid I loved to make my sister tell me stories and to this day I press Ed to tell me stories (though I get frustrated that they lack real suspense and exhilarating drama… I’m a rather spoiled listener and think I might just find bliss with my head in the lap of some spinster with a gazillion yarns. NPR picks up where Ed fails me.. heh.)

Poetry. Poetry is bite sized and I can chew on it and feel like I’ve finished something – like a painting or laundry. But it’s not so fulfilling, just like laundry. It gets done, but where’s the transcendence in that? It’s actually a little painful.

I had a dream. I always have dreams – deeply rich, colorful and imaginative. If those stories were more at the surface. Back to the dream. It was great. I was a white man trapped in a black man’s body. The black man was tall, trim, beautiful. He wore yellow rayon Capri-length pants, a silk red and white pin striped shirt and leather sandles. He was a bad man. He wanted to kill the skinny pale white boy with long blond hair and bad skin. But the skinny white boy was inside his head/mind and he didn’t know the white boy I was there. The colorful clothing looked beautiful on the black man, but when I looked in the mirror they looked terrible and clownish on me, the white boy.

So the black man planned to kill me, but being inside him, I was privy to his plans, one step ahead. I didn’t hide from him, I met him at the places of his mission and stayed ahead of the game, foiling his efforts time and again. It was exhausting but somehow exhilarating all the same.

You see, we were the heads of different houses or gangs. Each house was represented by a different colored bell. There were five altogether. A new, very powerful head of house had come to town, with strength and armature to kill us all. We’d only make it if we all, including the new one, united. If I could get the bells in a row, it would bring about a kind of harmony and peace.

And as I was seeing the metaphorical bells line up, I’d let down my guard with the black man and he’d gained the upper hand. Suddenly he was on me, had me by the throat with a knife to my jugular. He was all the more determined for all the constant yet thwarted efforts.

And the dream had a very Coen brothers ending where I (the skinny white boy) am screaming and pleading with the black man, No, stop. I have the gift of sight! I have the gift of sight!

So very few of us have even spoke of our resolves for the coming year.