Saturday, December 30, 2006


For reasons that I cannot really explain, I have been contemplating this ineffable concept. Maybe it was the PBS show I watched the other day. It was a fascinating show questioning how people see/feel/experience all kinds of love. Have I mentioned I LOVE PBS?

Today, it would appear, others have love on the brain as well. And the universe has conspired to share their thoughts with me. Now it's your turn.

First there was this fabulous story on NPR about putting Neruda's love poems to music. Take a moment and listen or read. It's well worth it. I don't usually like operatic singing, but Neruda's words in this woman's voice were fabulous. I am going to dig around and see if the 20 poems of love is one of the books I kept when I moved west.

Then there was this article on Trillin. I can't tell you what the point of the article must have been other than to convince you that unconditional love is possible though elusive. I don't like memoirs, but I am looking forward to reading this one when it hits the library.

Though both of these stories ended in death and separation of the lovers, the overriding sentiment was not of loss but of love.

If that love exists, and it would appear the universe believes it does, I want it.

Friday, December 29, 2006

more failure

When did blood lust become an intrinsic part of democracy?

I am happy to know that I am not the only one wondering why we think that executing Saddam Hussein should be celebrated as part of our "victory" in bringing democracy to Iraq.

It would appear that the insurgents are not the only Iraqis interested in serious blood-letting.
Toppling Saddam Hussein did not automatically create a new and better Iraq. Executing him won't either. From NYTimes Editorial today.
The only thing I can imagine naturally flows from this execution is that the target on the backs of our soldiers has just grown three sizes larger.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


In August, I finally watched an episode of House not exactly under duress, but not out of choice. This is just to say that I would never have watched it on my own. I was not interested in the concept, the hype, the show.

Then I got sucked in. I could blame it on the fact that I don't have cable, have watched all the shows on broadcast in regular season that I care to see, or just random boredom. But, it may not be that easy.

I suspect I am not the only person who enjoys watching someone being a total asshole (and RIGHT!) with abandon. It probably surprises no other person watching that we enjoy seeing someone get away with anti-social behavior in the name of doing his/her job. For an added perk, his actions seem justifiable because he is nearly always right. House exemplifies the ends justify the means, or does he?

Watching carefully, you see that he is abusive, caustic, entertaining, and self-destructive. Do I really want to be all of those things just so that I can say and do whatever I want in the name of indignant righteousness? Or righteous indignation, as the case may be?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas Stories?

I started a letter to Santa but never finished it. I should have taken more time to precise for him just what I wanted under the tree. Instead of world peace or just a peaceful day, which really would have been enough, he gave me a Christmas cold, hope it's just that and not the dreaded Christmas flu. Next year, I will take the time to really write out the list of things I want so he won't have to resort to such drastic measures.

Yesterday, I drove much of the day with a cloudy head and stuffy nose, oh and fever and headache. Despite my slightly dazed state, I made it back to the Bay Area just fine. Today, I have spent most of the day in bed: dozing, surfing the web, and watching the eight hours of tv I taped while away.

The tv shows were ok, but the real gold mine today was the NY Times. I can't remember the last time there were more than 10 stories I desperately wanted to read. The Christmas themed stories caught my eye first: thieves who stole the parishoners' yule givings, cute remembrance of a night of terror for Bob Newhart and the many meanings of Christmas were but a few of the treasures I mined from the NY Times today.

One good thing about being under the weather, you have time to read.

Dreaming in America, othewise known as The American Dream

The dream
You've heard it all your life. It's not the land of milk and honey that folks desire. It is SIMPLY the chance to work hard and be paid a living wage. We will quibble with what we think a living wage should be, but for those who are paid $3 a week for back breaking work, if they are lucky, making minimum wage is a king's ransom. I can't say that NO one who comes here is just looking for a handout. No doubt there are some who get here and realize that there are other ways to make money. However, the vast majority of people who come over the border are hard-working people who want their children to have food to eat, an education and the chance for a better life. These are American values; it turns out they are values not just for citizens of the United States (we call ourselves Americans as though there were no other Americans on these continents), but for all citizens of North and South America. So they come.

The hunted
Women, children, and, yes, men, who want the dream we promise and threaten. Yes, we promise it. We promise it when we go to other countries and try to change their governments. We threaten it when we make "free" trade pacts with countries that ravage their common people while making some people's pockets on both sides of the borders fat. Mexico's government has long been guilty of treating its least as replaceable cogs in a wheel. But we have long been complicit in the forming of those governments. Read some history before you say that Mexico created this problem.

The dream/the hunters
Minutemen (and women) and other anti-immigrant groups lambast undocumented workers as felons; illegally living and working in this country is the subtext, "stealing" righteous Americans' dreams is the real crime. These words spoken by the poster boy for Minutemen encapsulate the sentiment:
“For your children, for our future, that’s why we need to stop them,” Mr. Barnett said. “If we don’t step in for your children, I don’t know who is expected to step in.”

Not to mention that all those folks who never became police but still like a little drama get to dress up and act like Texas Rangers, that is treat people poorly in the name of the law. These people are really dangerous with their guns and lack of sympathy, but I also blame the people like our governor and that police chief in Arizona who foment these groups to tactics that often lead to unethical, if not illegal, actions.

This NYTimes article describes rulings against descriminatory laws while pleading for federal action on immigration. While a laudable attempt to describe the inequities these kinds of laws propagate (and how they are unconsititutional), this op-ed fails to implicate the real problem that no federal laws will address: people in this country enjoy buying food and eating out for less than either of these are actually worth, not to mention clothing. We are unwilling to admit that our way of making and spending money is out of whack with reality. We buy more than we can afford and penny pinch on obvious but trivial items (food, clothing, menial labor) while not bothering to think about savings in real money or consumables (cars that don't burn as much fuel, more energy efficient appliances, etc). Essentially we think of our spending in price tags rather than in overall prices. We are also unwilling to critically examine our luxury buying -- and that includes eating out 5 or more nights a week to the tv in every room of our houses.

What We've Become
To be sure, immigration, legal and illegal, is a complicated and wrenching subject. On the one hand, except for the indigenous, no American would exist who did not have immigration in their family history. For most, if not all, there is no sense for whether their family "legally" entered the United States. Indeed, most people can't tell you how or why their families came to this country.

The tangled web of deception and acceptance is described quite vividly in this NYTimes article.

This saga continues, but my energy wanes. More later.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

rudderless or learning to steer with your eyes closed

Close your eyes and what happens?
Do the other senses become sharper?

Wander without a map, are you lost?
Or are you experience life without a net?

Months into my sabbatical, I sometimes feel like I should know more about what I want to do next.

I search and search inside and outside.

I have learned this:
I don't have to do any one thing for the rest of my life.
I am often afraid that there are things I can't do or can't prove I can do.
I am sure that I can do anything I want to do.
I still don't know what I want.
I have not, yet, learned to name what I want so that I can claim it.
I am fairly sure that once I name it, there are no logical reasons that I cannot have it.
It feels rudderless.
Control is a bad habit I need to overcome.

It feel like I am steering a boat with my eyes closed. I am pretty sure that I will not hit anything or anyone; it's not like steering a car with your eyes closed.

But, there is some danger that I will wander. Aimlessly? I won't be lost because wherever I am, I will definitely be there. Can I handle not knowing where I will land next?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

writing therapy

It would appear that extended visits to Oxnard inspires me to blog.

Actually, I just got to the point where I realized that reacting to the triggers was not useful.

Writing may not be any more useful than reacting, but venting is, at least, somewhat calming.

Christmas, holiday or any other Sunday?

There is nothing wrong with celebrating any holiday you want in December or any other month for that matter. I just can't take any more of the bickering.

For the record, no one can take Christ out of Christmas because Christ was never there. No matter how much this FACT is explained to the zealots, however, they just persist on blaming other religious zealots for the problem. Problem, here, should really be in quotes. What exactly is the problem??

Guest columnist, Orlando Patterson, sums up quite succinctly the issues about which the various and sundry zealots are currently arguing. It is a thoroughly interesting piece both for its content as well as the fact that the NY Times has a feature that allows you to look up words and concepts! Love you really can't get that from the print version, and your fingers won't turn black.

Professor Patterson asserts that it is a "Holiday for All of Us," could have been U.S.:
It is the perfect example of America's mainstream process, a national rite that dissolves the boundaries between sacred and secular, pagan and civilized, insiders and outsiders.
But, the act of appropriating celebrations as a way of proselytizing is not just an American phenomenon. It would have been more appropriate to discuss the commercialization of the entire enterprise, start to finish...first creating the great big "Christian" spending debauchery and then breaking it down to "holidays" in order to include all faiths in the buying frenzy.

It amazes me to no end that "Christians" (yes, they need to be in quotes as they really have taken Christ out of Christian) are so willing to sling mud and feel threatened by calling the period "holidays" instead of Christmas. Does it not worry any of these so-called children of Christ that Christmas is about buying things??? Um...there is one issue about which I would be happily indigent as a Christian.

With all the things in the world about which to feel threatened, beangryy or indignant, whether or not we say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays should be the last on anyone's list, no matter how devout they may feel themselves. Get over are driving me crazy.

Friday, December 22, 2006


It would appear I have been holding in my thoughts, emotions, etc for far too long. Many ravings and rantings will surely emerge. If you are averse to opinionated people, this may be unhappy or even unsettling reading. If you are averse to opinionated people, however, you would probably have stopped reading this blog by now.

I am amazed, confused and disheartened by the fact that so many people who "know" me are so angry about my willingness to assert my opinions forcefully. If I don't stop them from expressing their opinions, why should they feel the need to try to stop me from asserting mine?

Is it that they don't feel they have the right to assert their opinions? I assure you, everyone, that I support all people saying how they feel.

I guess I have to stop worrying about how they are judging me.


When my first niece was a small child there was a cartoon character named Elmyra, if I remember correctly, who loved animals to death, or at least to torture. Her expression of love was most often a heart-felt death grip. There were other ways she tortured small animals, notably dressing them as humans, forcing them to behave in whichever way she deemed entertaining.

What is it called when a parent hold his/her child so closely in the name of love and protection to the detriment of the future of the child?

Various detrimental situations arise in my mind... the most obvious: the child doesn't learn to fend for him/herself, she/he has a warped sense of the world and his/her place in it, he/she may develop an aversion to being his/her own person on the off chance she/he would lose favor with the parent.

I could go on, and I want to, but clearly, it is none of my business. I am just making myself stressed out thinking about the repercussions. It's none of my business. I feel the need to repeat a couple more times to see if it will sink in.

It's none of my business.

It's none of my business.

Nope, it's not really making me feel less stressed, yet. I guess I need to try some of the meditation I learned this summer... release, send love, send forgiveness.

No matter how much I wish it were not true, things are what they are.

Slightly better.

It's unnerving how much of my life seems to need this refrain right now.

I wish you happiness but I cannot make your choices for you.

I will care for you but cannot keep you from suffering.

It's harder than it should be...mostly because it is easier to be angry and ill at ease because of the actions of others. I can only control my own reactions to the world. It doesn't seem like it, but I really did re-learn that this summer.

May I be undisturbed by the coming and going of events.

Good thing I took notes otherwise, I might have had to start over with my studies.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"you like depressing movies"

Perhaps. I find that my netflix queue is full of drama and thriller with the occasional comedy or romantic comedy I was unwilling to pay $10 to see. I do, from time to time, have to go in and stagger the dark movies with the thrillers or look for a light-hearted movie to insert so that I won't be tempted to slit my wrists at home alone. But, does that really mean that I like depressing movies??

I can't remember now who accused me, for I do remember it being said in an accusatory tone, of liking depressing movies. I imagine it was my mother.

I am not the only one. Aimless browsing on blogger led me to this.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

if you want her to hate you

Glimpsing the inner workings of parental minds is sometimes quite horrifying.

I grant all you parents who live it all day, everyday that I am not a parent. However, having taught students ranging from grades K-12 for over 8 years, I do feel somewhat qualified to know and understand the minds of young children.

Evenly applied, as much as possible, discipline is not cause to invoke anger in your progeny. Kids, of all ages, like structure. The younger they are the more they crave it, actually. Older kids need to be weened from it because they like it so much. Standing your ground, keeping your word, and following through are all sure fire ways to get your kids to love you, not hate you. Kids push because they want you to push back. If you don't when will they learn that there are limits to all things?

That's not giving you free reign to be a control freak or so strict that there is no room for fun or play. Letting your kids run you ragged is not going to ensure they love you. Sooner or later, everything they are or are not will be your fault. Learn to deal with that now so you won't have to feel hurt later.

My Family Has Talented Genes

Unfortunately, I didn't get any of them. Luckily, though, I get to stand close to artistic people and hope that their creative glow will shed some of its light on me.

Tonight, for instance, my parents and I attended my cousin's latest show. I love her work, not just because it is whimsical and fun, but because it demonstrates so clearly the value of being able to see more than is readily apparent.To my cousin, Tesi, a piece of rusted metal is an intricate piece of a new puzzle she is about to solve.

I haven't wished for a job, an income, so much as I did that evening. I would have loved to have bought just one piece, any piece. I have to admit that the chickens are my favorite. Though, the piece in the show that stole my heart was a snake with a WWII war helmet called, War Bites.

Take a look at her art gallery online, if you get a chance, though, it is best viewed in person.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Who's reading and not commenting?

It's ok... you don't have to leave your name.

I read and comment on a fair amount of blogs where I don't leave my name.

In any case, thanks for reading...

trust me?

Is it stars in your eyes? Is it a trusting nature? Is it a blind eye to reality? I don't know. I had a tense exchange with a friend the other day that brought me back (again) to this trust thing. There were four of us, three not currently in a committed relationship, two divorced, one technically divorced (it's a long story) and my friend, who was expressing her desire to get married.

She said something about wanting to trust a person and marry him. I heard an accusation about not having trusted. Why is it our ears don't work when it comes to touchy subjects? She thought we would naturally belittle her desire to be involved in such an old-fashioned convention. This, no doubt, belies the cynicism and anger she has heard us express more than once.

I have been puzzling over my reaction to her words for the past few days. Trusting and knowing when to trust are issues I have been grappling with for the past few years, but I never understood the extent to which the issue had infiltrated my daily life. Clearly, some words have taken on new and twisted meanings to me. I don't consider myself anti-marriage, though I must admit I do cringe at the thought of giving yourself over whole-heartedly to someone else.

No one gets married imagining that their spouse is going to be a cheater. I am fairly sure that the cheaters are not thinking about how their destructive effect their cheating will have on your ability to trust other people or yourself again. I want to write a long and ranting piece on how dastardly and unfair those cheaters are, but my rational mind keeps reminding me that people mostly don't act with the consequences of their actions in their minds. It would almost be easier to deal with if it were some nefarious plot to keep people from believing in fairy tales. We'll reel them in and as soon as they let their defenses down, we'll cheat on them. I can see their grinch-like eyebrows arching as they imagine the intricacies of the plan.

No, unfortunately, like everything else in life, it is just not that easy.

There are always some seemingly rational reasons on their part to point at why they are behaving in this way. These reasons are never truly rational and they generally have nothing to do with the person being wronged. If you veer off on the path of trying to understand this behavior, you just get tangled in the "why couldn't I fix him" (I am sure it could just as easily be HER, but it's just not my experience) or "if I were a better person" or, the worst: "what did I do to provoke this?" You can also meander down the path of self-righteous revenge or even worse, the "I'll get show the next one before he has a chance."

In the end you only realize that regardless of how or why, the result is a lack of trust. Maybe you even feel like you will never be able to trust again. Sometimes this looks like its evil twin: actually afraid that you might be suckered again, you just close yourself off from any reason to trust. For those of us already suffering from various fears of abandonment, this is an easy excuse to construct the really high walls that are topped with broken glass or barbed wire.

This is what it feels like to me: angry and cynical on the outside, scared and alienated on the inside. Everyone sees the anger and cynicism and generally enjoy having an excuse to dump on you or just not like you. A few people see the fear and alienation.

I don't know where it all ends up. I don't know how to work it out of my system. Perhaps it has started to work itself out, maybe I am sweating it out slowly. Maybe I should spit more.

All I know is that the intense desire to run up to all couples and shake the women until they see that men can't be trusted has subsided. I am still too vulnerable to all relationship issues. I feel the glances, the sharp looks, the hurt feelings like burning on my skin. I still don't want to talk to women who are getting married for fear I will say very many mean things.

But, I do imagine love again. I am still not sure exactly what it looks like, but he will like everything about me even the parts that make him want to scream.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

orbits and magnetic pull

I wish now that I had taken some serious science courses. At least one physics course. Is that the one that would explain how orbits work? Somehow, knowing the difference between igneous and sedimentary rock or the intricacies to creating dams are all superfluous bits of information.

From where does this new found need for science come?? Well, I need to find a job now. I have enjoyed my unemployment, perhaps a little too much, but it is time to bite the bullet and find a job. I look through job postings sites, friends send me great opportunites; there are so many jobs available. I download job descriptions by the dozen.

Everything seems like something I could do, but will I do it without getting sucked into obsessing about it. That's what I want, by the way, a job I don't care about. I am so over caring so much about what I do, as if it really mattered. There is no job in the world that can replace a real life. So there I am with stacks of job descriptions and tangled webs of emotions that lead to that dreaded obsession. I keep looking and looking, and I know that it is not about what kind of job at all.

What I need to do is figure out how to make the job orbit around me instead of having it be the center of my universe. I believe it really is in my control to change that orbit. But, I am pretty sure it has something to do with magnets, and I have a bunch of those tiny mighty magnets.

Just kidding. Actually, I know that is in my control to change this orbit thing...and since it really is just a metaphor or whatever, I also know that it doesn't have anything to do with magnets, no matter how cute or dangerous for small children that they might be.

It's a personal challenge to put myself in the center. A constant battle, actually. I imagine somehow if I can make myself useful that I will then feel accomplished, but I end up only feeling put upon. When in doubt, spending the time exercising, reading a book, taking a walk, or just musing quietly to myself are always the better ways for me to feel accomplished and fulfilled.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Finger Pointing

If I didn't think Rummey was such an evil asshole, I might even feel badly for him now. I mean, it seems obvious that he was the sacrificial lamb, at least from his behavior. No matter how much I hate him, I refuse to let him take the sole blame for the Iraq debacle. He is an odious war-monger, but you cannot be president and pretend that you don't have to take responsibility for your actions. So, no, it wasn't all old Donny's fault. As if it were really possible, Georgie once again lowers in my esteem. He's all swagger and joyfulness when he announces "mission accomplished" and he's super snippy now that there are so many willing to publicly say that invading Iraq was a mistake then and a mess now.

Well, I hope that the ACLU is triumphant in getting the right to sue Rumsfeld for torture. And as soon as Georgie is not president anymore, I hope they pursue similar actions against him. They got their chance to rule the world and they did a poor job of living up to the so-called democratic ideals they were pushing like bad crack to those poor folks in Iraq and Afghanistan while they were simultaneously trying to topple democratically elected governments in other countries. Donny and Georgie deserve all the lawsuits, recrimination and bad karma they can get. No need to point fingers at each other, you know what they say: point one at you and three back at yourself.

Update 12/10/06
I almost have to admire the spunk that Donny exhibits, one last trip to Iraq to see the troops?? Really, there seems to be no limit to the cheek. Are Donny or Georgie the center of the universe?? Pissing contests will surely ensue.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

extreme fishbowl

When we need the world to be on our side, it is only natural to ask for help.

We welcome everyone in and give out every detail.

Prayer, thoughts, meditations.

We need them from all over the world, from every faith and belief.

When the worst happens, we want to mourn in private. Who could blame us? It makes perfect sense to circle the wagons, to have our real friends give us comfort.

But, what about our new friends? Where do we draw the line between voyeurism and care/interest?

Last night, one reporter could not control her emotions, her voice did not quaver, but the tears streamed down her face.

We didn't know you, but we cared about you. Certainly your family and friends now have a gaping hole in their lives. We lost a piece of our hearts as well.

Rest in peace Jim.

Light to Unite

For Worlds Aids Day...
Bristol Meyers will be donating $100,000 to the National Aids Fund.

Monday, December 04, 2006

28 Turkey Vultures

Growing up, whenever there were a bunch of birds on a wire, we said they were having a wedding. Like so many other sayings, old wives' tales you might say, I remember the saying and a face pops in my head, the one who I associate with the saying. The bird weddings belong to Licha. Lately, sometimes when I see the pigeons congregating near the grocery store, I worry more about the bird poop than I imagine the celebration.

In my memory, they are small birds. Sparrows, maybe. In any case, it wasn't a close examination of the birds, but the image of them congregating on the wire, sitting so close together, sometimes talking to each other. Small birds don't mind being close together. They seem used to close quarters. Maybe they even prefer them.

Large birds tend to be more solitary. Crows like to hang out together and talk loudly to eachother, but you don't usually see hawks and vultures sitting together. When I think of hawks, I see them hunting: either sitting high on poles and scanning or soaring high in wide circles. I have seen vultures up close, near highways. Of course, I have seen them circling in groups.

Today, I saw them sitting on a stretch of fence. Of course, there weren't as many of the vultures as I have seen of the little birds all at once either sitting on a wire or flying in close formation. Still, I counted 28. Some of them sitting quite close together, others two or three bird lengths away.
The vultures are so big when they sit close to the road, you can see their heads, make out their beaks, etc. These vultures were looking away from the road. Some had their wings out, catching the air. Big birds don't seem as friendly or interested in each other. At least these didn't, so I didn't get the picture of a wedding. But, I wondered, "What are 28 vultures doing sitting by the side of the road?"

What do 28 vultures sitting on a fence mean??

Friday, December 01, 2006

New Life

There is nothing like a baby... everything about babies is so remarkable. They smell so good; much better than new car smell that folks like so much. They have wonderfully squishy parts that beg to be chewed. Everything in their worlds is new. Every day they find some body part or piece of a body part that WORKS. Making a baby smile fills you with the love of the world. Wow, did I really do something to make this baby smile??
Even better are happy babies. There is no denying the importance of love and attention for babies. So lacking in defenses, so open to new experiences, as stated before, EVERYTHING is new to them, only a caretakers' love can protect them from the world.

Watching my friend with her new little one was fascinating. She was attentive to his every move, sound, thought or feeling. She had obviously been watching him so closely for the past 10 weeks, she could almost anticipate his next move. He knew her too...following the sound of her voice, allowing her heartbeat to calm his pain and soothe his momentary anguish. Clearly, she could solve any problem for him. Mother's love in all of its mythical glory. The bond, the love, the interconnectedness of their emotion. It's somewhat overwhelming, but still awe inspiring. He was the center of her universe and she his sun. That all encompassing love seemed to inure them both from all the evils in the world.

I couldn't help but wonder as I watched them, what if all children had this kind of attention? What kind of world would this be if everyone had experienced this kind of comfort, love and protection from birth? What troubles might we avoid if we were all assured of unconditional love?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

buried treasure

I know I promised a map when I finally went in and back-posted...but, well, the reason I back-post is that I am sharing many emotions that are scary for me... so, I am not keeping that promise.

This is your hint that there are and will be some back posting ... dig and you will find

your treasure map comes with only this hint:
this lady of leisure has been on some bumpy rides since she joined the ranks of the happily unemployed living on a shoe-string

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Stray and Meandering Thoughts/Feelings

Relief -- yesterday, I took the GRE. It took nearly all day to realize what it meant for it to be done: no more days full of studying math or finding ways to avoid studying math.

Stress -- it took me half the day to realize that I didn't need to plan anymore weeks or days of study. It took me half the day to realize that my scores were plenty good. That exceeding the goal you set for yourself was indeed not only good enough, rather it was better. Oh, and my stomach stopped complaining.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


dad's bday 159
There are many things in my life for which I have to be thankful. Today, though, my heart and mind are full of my Tia Jenny. I am thankful that she will not have one more painful minute. You see, she lost her battle with cancer last week.
dad's bday 155
I am thankful for a family that still believes in giving their parents the care, love and attention they were given. My cousins took turns over the past few years, staying with my Tia Jenny night and day. The pain and frustration of seeing their mother battle in agony is unimaginable, but they never wavered. It is a rare and special gift to even see that kind of dedication anymore. You can only imagine the love and care she gave her children by what is reflected back with this act.

I am forever grateful to my Tia Jenny for keeping track of all of our families. She was the family tree builder in many ways. Not only was she always trying to ferret out more information about her grandfather (my great-grandfather), she was forever bringing new generations and lost cousins into the fold. Her love of family and connections is incomparable in my mind to anyone else.
dad's bday 154
I have been filled with thoughts of her for several weeks after my mom described her last visit with her. It was too much for me to go and see her, again, in so much pain. I lack the strength her daughters have shown so faithfully. I said to myself, I will be there for her funeral, to see her in peace. But, unfortunately, I am not able to get down there on that day. It makes the mourning more difficult to be far away.

My Tia Jenny was a wonderful person who never deserved any of this horrible suffering. I am so pleased that she will not feel any more pain and I am so sad that she will no longer walk this earth with us. We are a poorer world without her and her love.

Rest in peace, Tia Jenny. I'll be home soon to visit you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

who says?

If you didn't catch the story on NPR yesterday morning on how history as it is written in history textbook has changed over time, take a moment to listen to it.

History, always presented as fact-based, like so many of the subjects students are taught in school are too often not viewed critically. It is important not only from the standpoint of the value of learning critical thinking skills. I have long believed that our children would do better to be taught skills and not "facts" or "content," but that's another post altogether.

Political views have long been part of the development of curricular tools such as textbooks. Thus, these tools must be viewed critically by both teachers and students in order to get the best out of them. But, even more importantly, the history of public education in this country is largely unknown.

We tout ourselves as the country that provides the most universal compulsory public education in the world. Well that may be true, we fail to mention that we took that step in an effort to "Americanize" immigrants who we feared would change our country too much if we didn't co-opt them. Not teach them, assimilate them. Hear that difference carefully. Public education was created to engender sheep-like mentality to droves of immigrants, at that time mostly Germanic and Nordic (not the ones we fear and hate so much now, we could really care less if they ever become "Americanized").

So, when we bemoan the fact that our children are so desperately uneducated/undereducated and can't achieve well on tests, as has been again in the news of late, let's remember that public education was never meant to educate. It puts the school boards in Pennsylvania and Kansas in a slightly different perspective. They are not as crazy as we may think. They realize and acknowledge that public school is for telling the people what you want them know and how you want them to know it. And, majority, not truth, rules.

If we want true educational reform, we need to realign our goals and think completely outside of the box in creating anew our tools, teaching methods and expectations. It will take bold changes that reflect a respect for investigation, critical thinking, exposition and meaningful exchange at a very early age and throughout the educational pipeline. That kind of educational reform won't be measured by tests where you mark the appropriate bubble. But the changes would be dramatic, and, incidentally, exactly what we need if we want to avoid the fall of the Roman Empire syndrome (another interesting story you might want to listen to from NPR this week).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Million Bucks

Not truly sure why these thoughts have been rolling around my head; maybe just because I have time to consider life at a slower pace.

I probably could name that which is most important to me; that is, what I care about, but lately, it comes to me more in the form of things that don't matter to me.

If I had a million bucks, I would still not buy clothing at full price, though I might buy a pair of full price comfy shoes.

I would definitely not invest in make up or cosmetic surgery. And though I have been known to say that I don't color my hair because it's too much trouble and money to maintain, I don't believe I would color my hair even if I had two million bucks.

These are things that are just of no interest to me.

That is not to say that there aren't things that I wouldn't mind having...that I wouldn't mind having disposable income for going out to dinner or as many movies as I could squeeze into my schedule, etc. I just can't see myself buying a purse that cost in the hundreds or thousands of dollars.

There are just too many more things that are of interest to me and most of them don't have anything to do with vanity.

It has got me thinking, though I am not to the point of truly drawing conclusions.

Vanity. It strikes me as a terribly negative thing. And that is not to imply that I don't care what how I look or that I don't spend time brushing my hair or buying fancy potions. But the time and intensity that so many people, some of them people who I care for and admire, scares me.

Is that it is all about? I want to ask them, but I don't want to offend.

I can only imagine what they think about me.

It is probably true that I don't care much about appearance, mine that is, because I don't think it is my defining feature. That's a fancy way to say that I don't think I am gorgeous. I may be pretty, in my own way, but beauty has never defined me. So, I have little to lose, in my own mind, if I go out with no makeup or don't color my hair.

But, my lack of interest in vanity doesn't necessarily make me deep or transcendent. It might just make me ugly or shabby or rasquache, as my mother is wont to say.

What would I buy with a million bucks?? I haven't thought about it in a long time because the dream of winning the lottery has long passed for me.

I still dream of big, beautifully shabby, old houses. Victorian, preferably. Lately, to the dream, I have added a pomegranate tree. I would like some built in bookshelves and a porch swing (technically, I already have one if it is still in my friend's basement).

I am sure there are many other things I would want to buy with my million bucks, but those are the things that come to mind at the moment.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What's Next?

Recently, a friend asked if I what I had learned during my "sabbatical" so far. At the moment, I thought, NOTHING! Seeing as how three months into this time off, I feel no more closer to knowing what I want to do with my life than I did before I quit my job, and I still don't really know how to enjoy free time effectively. I mean, I am good at finding things to do. I am still a planner, despite my best efforts to be carefree. But, I am not really good at doing nothing. Though, I am getting better.

I determinedly searched my mind for something to say. I figured I had to have something to say for these months. I admitted to knowing some of what I didn't want to do. I could point to the fact that I enjoy the simple life I am living and would happily continue with this spartan existence if I knew it meant I could dabble in many things and have free time. I struggle to imagine where I want to be in one year much less five years. This made me feel wholly unaccomplished in my efforts to figure out life. But, then, I remembered that the one thing I definitely took away from my retreat was the fact that I don't need to make any decisions about the "rest of my life." I can make decisions for today and tomorrow and next week and one year and only if I want to, for more than that.

Life is not meant to be figured out. It is meant to be lived.

So, it turns out, I have learned a fair amount.

Having time to work things out, jumble them back together and then untangle them again is useful.

I used to make great snap decisions... they appeared so sound, so cogent, no one ever argued with me. [Maybe they don't care enough to argue.] But those decisions were not always the best decisions.

Life is more complicated and simpler than all that.

I have been privy to a lot of very interesting debates going on in my head. They have not come to any decisions; neither have I.

For now, continue to explore my options, though somewhat more concretely, by applying for jobs...all jobs that I have never done before. I can hold on to the sure things for another little while...

Friday, November 10, 2006

things you can't fix with glue




no kind of glue can bring back together things that are shattered into tiny pieces...

it's ok

build new

trying to make old, broken, tattered, shattered or bruised into shiny and new doesn't work

you have to build new

not re-build

it's dangerous to recycle materials
keep the memories
throw out the degraded pieces

build new

Monday, November 06, 2006

the battle rages

It's only a matter of time before I will be an expert at complicated East African languages and, yet, still not be able to do 8th grade math as presented by ETS.
I invited a group of four folks to join me on the couch at Starbucks tonight...they didn't want to disturb me. But I assured them it was NO problem. I wasn't sure how to break it to them that if they gabbed on in a language I didn't know it was just like listening to classical music to me. As long as I can stand to feel safe, I just hear it as the calming melody that keeps me trudging through the problems.As soon as the fear that is mathophobia (I'm sure there is a technical term but my obsession has not deepened to the point that I need to know it now) grips me, I turn my attention more to the conversation that I can't understand than to the numbers, letters and gibberish trying to pass itself of as English in my book. I imagine that I am catching phrases here and there, building an internal vocabulary list. I believe that I can make out parts of words and begin to build complicated language maps in my is this related to French, Spanish or Italian, maybe ancient Greek? I start to convince myself that I really need to listen to the conversation more carefully and stare less intensely at the garbled mess on my paper.
When the young man asked me what I was studying this evening, he couldn't help himself...the craziness in my book was as appealing to him as his unknown language was to me, I showed him the book and asked him what language they were speaking. After two tries, I still can only say that it is some East African language with hints of Hebrew (his explanation not my crazy musings I assure you). I had to admit I was pretty sure I would be learning to speak his language soon as the math thing really wasn't going well. He allowed as the book reminded him of painful college days.Our conversation made his pregnant wife I returned to my terrible book of torture called GRE review.

But it really is only a matter of time...thankfully, the course ends November 16th and I must take the damn test very soon afterwards.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Unconventional M&M's

Not feeling terribly well, physically, I turned off the alarm clock and slept until I couldn't anymore. I highly recommend this strategy if you don't feel well and can swing it.

I turned on the tv and was confronted with Martha Stewart making margaritas with Mo'Nique. I was startled and intrigued, so I kept watching. My favorite part was when Mo'Nique told Martha that the crucial step in making Strawberry Margaritas was to take a shot of Jose Cuervo (Mo'Nique's tequila of choice) ala tasting your soup for salt. Martha picked up the bottle and took a swig. Martha and Mo'Nique. Priceless.

Other unusual M&M's

My favorite, of course, was the story about the man on death row making art with pigment he leaches from M&Ms.

Another bunch of unconventional M&M's are the dark chocolate candies. I haven't worked up the courage to order personalized M&M's, but I have been trying to imagine who is the person I know that most needs personalized M&M's. As soon as I figure it out, I am definitely going to order them!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge

I'm trying not to lose my head...

Imagine that song running through your head endlessly.

I don't own an I-POD or any other mp3 playing device, my cd player stays in the car and rarely is in use, so I can't blame my own playlist.

I listen to the radio, usually NPR, and otherwise, I flip the stations til I find something amenable, but only in the car.

I know it came from somewhere inside me and how I am feeling because I haven't actually heard the song on the radio, just in my head.

I like to try to trace back emotionally when I have a recurrent song or thought; it's like getting inside the supposed randomized playlist where you can SEE how the next song is chosen. It's a game to see if I can figure out where and how the song popped into my mind.

All I know for sure was that as I walked to my study hall, aka Starbucks, I kept hearing a menacing voice singing:
Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head

Here's a sample (thanks, wikipedia; it will only work if you have JAVA enabled)...of course, I was only hearing the chorus.

Apparently, I am not the only one whose mind has lingered over these lyrics. And, some are both musing over the meaning of the lyrics as well as exhorting others to muse as well:

What does Grandmaster Flash mean by
Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head
What is he possibly referring to?

There is plenty more out there...folks analyzing the lyrics, the statement on poverty in the US, black folks lives and expressions of frustration in general.

For me, at least, the chorus is more about determination and resilience than it is about frustration. Yes, times may be hard, and it may feel like people and systems are working against you; maybe you can't catch a break or maybe you born under the sign of murphy's law, but no matter what hardships, troubles, complications or annoyances...
YOU are the master of your own destiny.

That's what I heard. That's how I am using these words:

Don't push me 'cuz I'm close to the edge
I'm trying not to lose my head


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A thought for the day

Several weeks ago, my DailyOM sent me this message:
Your personal power is defined in part by your gifts. To use your talents is to demonstrate to the world that you understand yourself and are truly attuned to your capabilities. Your earthly existence provides you with ample opportunity to explore your purpose, to utilize your skills in a life-affirming way, and to positively touch the lives of others while doing so.

I have been ignoring it, though not directly: I didn't read it til this morning.

I am trying to get it...see what it it.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Learn to be silent...
Let your quiet mind listen
and absorb...


I have been spending more time than I would like with Pythagorus and his theories. But, this weekend, I put one of his quotes to use.

My instinct is to talk when there is silence. I don't know if this is something that has always been or just something I picked up more recently.

In any case, it is interesting to listen to the words I would say and not say them.

I can't tell if it is making me second guess myself more or less. I know it feels weirdly uncomfortable. I feel like I have a hand tied behind my back.

I think practicing silence over a longer period of time will help me to listen better. For now, it is taking all my energy to not speak and deal with the fallout.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Today I heard THE most inspiring talk I have EVER heard. In fact, the first person I have ever seen that spoke with such authority about the things that most of us hide. If only we were all willing to be so open about the things that inspire us to be both fearless and fearful.

Watching Akeela the Bee, I was struck, again by the quote from Marianne Williamson. This is a book about LOVE, particularly about getting inside of self-love and understanding how to project it back out to the world. I share it as a way to remind myself about what's really important.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?
-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

judge for yourself

I haven't ranted about politics in a few days, so here I go....

I am just concerned that there are folks out there who are skimming over some important news items.

Just in time for elections, the Bush administration has decided that teachers' votes can be bought. That's right. After years of being accused of not fully funding NCLB, the Bushies have decided that in order to remedy that situation, they should give perks. And guess where the first perks went? OHIO. Coincidence or pay back?? You be the judge.

More on the educational front. Oh... hold on to your seats.

So, one of the by products of NCLB is what is called, SES, or supplementary educational services. This is usually in the form of after school tutoring paid for by the school district through funds from the federal government. How does it work? Who benefits? And who are the providers...well, in a nutshell, schools that receive federal funds, called Title I, whose students have not met the minimum achievement standards for more than two years in a row. Those schools are labeled "school improvement" and then a year ... as in how many years have they not been achieving the standard.

Well, these schools are required to offer after school tutoring...but it must be given by approved providers. These are folks like Sylvan and Kaplan, and many others who have figured out that this is a super cushy way of making loads of cash without having to supply many results. There are lots of other not optimal things about this ... but this expose article done by the LA Times has got to be the worst.

Please read it.

Basically, Neil Bush (yes, you guessed it, George's bro) started a little company called Ignite! Learning, that is an SES that has sold quite a few COWs (Curriculum on Wheels, that's their acronym, in case you were wondering) to many school districts for a tidy sum.

But it gets worse. Guess the names of two investors? Nope, you'll never guess in a million years.

George H. Bush and Barbara Bush.

No, that's not all... Barbara "donated" money in the name of the Katrina survivors with the caveat that the money be used to purchase COWs. As an investor, ie interested party, it hardly seems like it's really a cash donation as you will just be getting the money back.

Oh, and that isn't where the shamefulness ends on this...she and her esteemed, or is it infamous, son (yup, that's the one with the special touch with S&L's) go around "fundraising" for school districts so that said districts can buy more COWs. You can bet the Bushes aren't giving away any milk; you got to buy the COW.

But wait, there's more. This is beginning to sound a little bit like a Michael Moore movie, but I swear, this is all in the article.

Well, what's more is there? you ask; well read this snippet if you haven't gotten to the whole article:

At least 13 U.S. school districts have used federal funds available through the president's signature education reform, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, to buy Ignite's portable learning centers at $3,800 apiece.

The law provides federal funds to help school districts better serve disadvantaged students and improve their performance, especially in reading and math.

But Ignite does not offer reading instruction, and its math program will not be available until next year.

(you guessed it, I added the emphasis.)

So, districts are using their NCLB SES money to buy Ignite! COWs even though the COWs don't offer the type of instruction stipulated for SES funds. These COWs are bought often without going through a bidding process like most school expenditures. But, there is still more to know about this story.

George's little bro has a lot of friends with money who helped him get this little venture off the ground, all upstanding individuals and companies, I am sure:

Bush's parents joined Neil as Ignite investors in 1999, according to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission documents. By 2003, the records show, Neil Bush had raised about $23 million from more than a dozen outside investors, including Mohammed Al Saddah, the head of a Kuwaiti company, and Winston Wong, the head of a Chinese computer firm.

Most recently he signed up Russian fugitive business tycoon Boris A. Berezovsky and Berezovsky's partner Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Neil's response to this inquiry by the LA Times was to accuse the journalist and the newspaper of playing politics just before the election. Like I said, you be the judge.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I love mashed potatoes

Trying to cram various part-time jobs and three weeks of studying for the GRE into three days has made me really hungry. Worse than that...since studying for the GRE is such a drag (as one friend commented, YUCK), it provokes a lot of self-pity which leads to the need for antojos.

Yesterday, as I passed by stores and restaurants on my way to studyhall (otherwise known as Starbucks), I had to stop and read each menu. I was in a desperate hunt for mashed potatoes...and trying to stay away from the donut shop. Everyone know that donuts are an excellent substitute for mashed potatoes, or accompaniment, if necessary.

I love mashed potatoes.

I think they make the perfect compliment to ANY meal. I love BREAD with mashed potatoes on top. It's carb-comfort-food heaven.

Some of my favorite pairings:
mashed potatoes and a good salad (salad counteracts all bad carbs in the potatoes, hahahah) and BREAD, of course

mashed potatoes and bread, and then some more bread; only add gravy if mom made it, otherwise, use butter, lots of it.

mashed potatoes and STEAK and a pinch, you could substitute chicken, but only if you are feeling SUPER virtuous. I mean, what's the point if you have gone all the way with the mashed potatoes??

I used to be willing to have mashed potatoes from a box; you know, it is like emergency comfort food waiting in the cupboard and available at any time of the day. But, since I live just a few yards from a grocery store, emergency mashed potatoes are not really necessary (and probably too dangerous any way).

Not having found any real good menus with mashed potatoes on my way to studying, I decided to MAKE MY OWN. Thanks to a good friend from NJ, I know the secret to the BEST mashed potatoes ever: heavy cream (you know the one that you use to make WHIPPED CREAM!). No cream is so thick and fabulous...and therefore, there really is no substitute. Cut up garlic and onions sauteed with the cream and BUTTER; nope, not enough fat in the whipping cream, must add more, for the flavor, you know. Add the potatoes when cooked (cook with onions and garlic if available) and mash-em-up.

Honestly, nothing better.

After a long discussion with the helpful man at the meat counter, I decided on a super thin sirloin steak. He was voting for the filet minon or the new york strip steak, but agreed that on my budget I could make the sirloin work. He made me promise I would use olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic when I cooked it.

It was wonderful.
Just what I wanted.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Support Free Mammograms...

click on the title of this post...
we need to go here every day in order to get these mammograms funded!

Please tell ten friends to tell ten today! The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know.

it's all fun and games until...

My favorite game in the world is making up stories about people I don't know. It is the corollary to people watching. My multitasking (read ADD) mind cannot stand to just watch people, and I am easily bored. So, whenever I am out, I am usually scanning the crowd for a good story starter.

Crowded restaurants are great places for this game as you are a captive audience for the duration. Though, it is not impossible to make up quick stories of people who are walking by you in a mall or on the street. The odd bit of conversation that hangs in the air as you pass someone (or as he/she passes you) makes the whole story process move along all that more swiftly. The purist may believe that this is cheating, but I think of it as a different level of challenge.

Sitting in Starbucks, reading or studying or just getting out in the world, one is privvy to many interesting bits of conversation. I have to say, though, that Starbucks is a slightly more dangerous place for this kind of game.

I am generally at the Starbucks alone. Somehow, the concept of background music has eluded the folks who work at Starbucks. Or, for all I know, the corporate management of Starbucks. That is to say that the music is always louder than background music should be. That means that people need to speak more loudly to their companions. So, it's not just the general flotsam you hear on the street; sometimes it is full blown conversation, the kind that should end up in some novel, out of context, of course. I "hear" better when I am looking at the originator of the speech. I worry that I will get caught looking at my story prey.

One of these days, I may share some of the bits of conversation and/or some of the stories I made up to go along with them.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


and other self-sabotage tools...

hide, deflect, and ultimately make it worse.

will I never learn????????

to quote myself: the important thing is to recognize it -- name it and look at it from a more objective space, and hopefully recognize it as an emotion that wants to erupt into action

next time, maybe I'll do better

maybe, maybe not

hopefully either way, I will be gentle with myself

Monday, October 16, 2006

hard work or the revolving door

it turns out that it is not enough to break old agreements and make new ones...or that the act or creating new agreements is quick and final. agreements can only be made by actually practicing them. like so many other parts of life, my life, it's a process

first I had to recognize that the old agreements really weren't working for me
[who knew one could need so much confirmation??]
part one - complete

but I wasn't truly prepared for part 2

breaking agreements means not allowing yourself or others to operate under the old agreements


it's empowering, in its own way, to see/feel/realize when you are about to fall into a bad, old trap, and then you don't
it felt uncomfortable but not untenable

it took a while to understand that not going down into the well of despair, not claiming the bad agreement [the familiar reaction] as further proof of my lack of worth, was part of breaking the agreement

you have to LIVE it

imagine that!?!

it was hard and painful and I don't really know where to go from here...but I am celebrating/recognizing/living this new agreement... I will not automatically look for a reason why I am at fault. I will not automatically believe that any difficult situation/interaction is the result of my lack of worth

that's not who I am

that's not who I ever was; I don't agree to pretend to be her to make anyone feel better

I am worthy; I am a good person; I have many gifts and talents as well as faults and foibles; I am not new but improved

you may not recognize me or only see someone who I don't claim anymore

that's part three and it's an unfinished chapter

the lesson, in case you didn't figure it out:
it's not going to get easier
you just learn to be "skillful"

Sunday, October 15, 2006


WWJRD? = What would Jesus really do?

For reasons that I cannot really pinpoint, I was reduced to tears listening to the Dixie Chicks sing about forgiving and forgetting today. [I have been thinking about ways to support these gals even though I am not a country/western or whatever it is called fan.] The emotional process involved in forgiving or getting over and then forgetting enough to move on have been weighing heavily on my mind.

So, what does Jesus have to do with it? I have been carrying around this grief and pain for a little while. Why can't we (as in the world, people in general) be more forgiving? Why can I be more forgiving -- get over it, not want to get back, move on?

Here's what reminded me (this month) to struggle with this bit of human frailty:
This, the Amish said, showing us the tender face of religion at a time and in a world where we are so often seeing the rageful face. This was Jesus' way, and they had Jesus in them, not for a day, an hour, not just in good times, but even in the very worst. (emphasis added)

We aren't Jesus (at least as we know him in mythology). We are normal human beings. We feel rage and anger; we want vengeance. We want ours. We have things to learn from what we believe about Jesus. And then there are those who practice what they believe, as reminded above, everyday, even under the most painful and difficult circumstances.
The freedom contained in Jesus' teaching of forgiveness, wrote the German philosopher Hannah Arendt, is the freedom from vengeance, which includes both doer and sufferer in the relentless automatism of the action process, which by itself need never come to an end.
To this, the Amish have offered a stunning example of the freedom that comes with forgiveness, a reminder that religion need not turn lethal or combative. I, for one, as this week ends, stand in awe of their almost-unfathomable grace in grief.
It is from an essay by Anne Taylor Fleming from Newshour.

I have listened to Anne Taylor Fleming reading this essay over and over...trying to wring out the part that I can hold on to, that which one could touch if it were tangible material. All I can say is, no matter what anyone's personal spiritual belief may be, we have religion and spirituality to help us humans deal with our contradictions. It is a contradiction to have such vile instincts and at the same time a (sometimes?) logical brain. We have emotions and we are capable of knowing right from wrong. This is hard. There are so many times our logical/rational minds tell us to do things that seem more emotional and instinctual. These are minefields. We are lucky to come through most days unscathed.

Religion, with its rules and regulations, can help to put order in the chaos of contradictory thoughts, feelings, associations. But it can become dangerous when we give up our logic/rationality, when we make religious belief into instinct...especially when those religious beliefs have been molded into daggers. Here the Amish come, for all their imperfect ways of dealing with the modern world, and show us that you can use your religious beliefs as instincts and have it not be predatory. Imagine that.

I'm still not signing up for any organized religion. I am still wary of the reverential treatment of people and gods. But I am embracing my need for answers and comfort, and still trying to find the safe harbor in my mind or soul, wherever it is.

It's comforting, in a way, to know that such horror and destruction as the shooting in an Amish school house could bring us a little tiny bit of enlightenment, or at least a glimpse of the beauty of the human spirit. In these dark days, with so much anger, animosity and posturing, this little light is a welcome reprieve. In case you want more on the Amish and their view of forgiveness, I recommend Scott Simon's thoughts, an OpEd from the Philly Inquirer, and Talk of the Nation's bit on the Amish Culture of Forgiveness.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I am goal oriented. I feel I do much better with everything when I am working towards a goal. I love to PLAN. I can plan myself to within an inch of my life. A friend from a long time ago used to call me little-miss-down-to-the-minute because I literally scheduled my work and play down to the last minute. It seemed to allow me to manage my time better. At least, that is what I thought. In fact, it may have just been another way to CONTROL.

Control what you may ask? The answer is as vague and specific as anyone could be. On the one hand, I was in control of my life. I knew what I had to do with every minute of my day. On the other hand, I had no true responsibility, the schedule dictated what I would do and when I would do it. How many of you have obsessions that can simultaneously allow you to be a control-freak and an irresponsible slacker?

The truly dangerous part of this behavior, however, is not its psychotic double-personality; its danger lies in the appearance of great propriety. Who could quarrel with being goal-oriented? I am not just goal-oriented, mind you, I am successful at achieving my goals. I am an excellent planner and can be quite disciplined in the execution of plans as well. The thing is that I rarely take a step back and examine why I am moving forward with THE PLAN whichever it may be.

It all seems very logical at the time. Here's the goal, here are the steps you need to take to get to the goal, and voila, you have achieved your goal! Congratulations. Again, who could complain about such an accomplishment? Well, the secret, ugly truth is that since there was precious little thought given to the why, the successful end of the project was, in fact, not the end I was trying to accomplish. In the end, I feel bereft not accomplished. Not only was the end not what I wanted, now I have to start all over again.

It would be nice to say that "It was really all about the journey." However, if I am being painfully honest, the real answer was that it was about avoiding having to know what I really wanted to accomplish. Sometimes, it is just that having a goal outside of my personal growth or introspection means not having to deal with whatever demons were knocking at the door when the infamous PLAN emerged.

If the plans were cockamamie, you know like some get rich quick scheme, then a logical person would someday have to put a stop to it. Instead, my friends rally around my latest, greatest plan. I seem so level-headed and determined, they hardly have the heart to ask me WHY are you so determined to do that?? They watch me trudge along merrily on the hamster wheel to nowhere.

The last time I made one of those grand plans and rolled full steam ahead, I ended up with night terrors and serious nightmares. [What's the difference? Both are terror-ific, but one is while you sleep and the other waking, at least in my experience.] When I decided, and the fates colluded to make it easier, to take some time off the hamster wheel, I had a hard time letting go of the planning. The first month, I was so busy with things to do that I had been unemployed for over three weeks before I had a day off. I just couldn't force myself to not have commitments. It has taken me two whole months to decompress from my frenzied goal-planning. Just in time for me to want to laze in front of the TV non-stop while simultaneously be freaked out that I DON'T HAVE A JOB and I AM SPENDING ALL MY SAVINGS.

It is quite an effort to calm down, allow myself to be and try to allow whatever is next to happen. I want to construct a PLAN. I am trying desperately to keep myself from making too strict of a lifetime plan...just for today or this week. Just til December. Not for the next five years and not for the rest of my life. It's really hard for me to just let life happen.

Ah...control. Control my environment. Control my reactions to the world. Control my emotions in general. I have decided that my need for control is what drives my plan-o-matic behavior. How do you make calm out of chaos? I make a plan. And stick to it, no matter what will be at the other end of it.

Friday, October 06, 2006


I am back-posting, again... so I thought I would warn any voracious readers who don't want to miss a minute of the action.

The posts from the retreat are still in draft form; I will let you know when they are posted.

Hawaii, has just one posting, so far.

There are other tidbits to keep you reading...
Part 1 of my musings on my hometown; it is background for a post I have been wanting to write since March. It may come out some day.

The ranting reflection that came out for 9/11.

There is an update on my progress on my weight resolution.

The post on NYTimes article and my irritations is fun even though long.

There are a few more in the hopper. I will update this post accordingly.

Happy reading. Happy Friday!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Matching for Afterlife??

For the last few weeks, I have been trying out I must clarify that I haven't exactly been giving it my all. I did, finally, post a picture and go ahead and try the free three days. But, alas, canceled the subscription last night, a full day before the end of the three days.

I have been considering lo all these days writing about my impressions of this foray into internet dating. I catalogued a few things that irritate me (stretched truth, insincerity, potential social awkwardness of all of us involved) to share, then I happened upon this article about some rural Chinese folk buying dead brides for their dead sons.

It should be pretty clear to you by now that there is not a happy ending to this story. That is not for me, anyway; but according to the article (you must read it, the highlights will not do it justice), these poor souls need their mates in order to achieve success and happiness in the afterlife. And they can achieve it by getting hitched in the grave.

Well, that's not exactly true for both unmarried dead men and women. The men need to be married in order to be complete, but the women actually needed to have birthed a child after married in order to be worthwhile human beings. So, you know, dead brides can't exactly have children, but apparently they can have weddings. And if your parents can't afford a dead bride or are unwilling to grave-rob for you, you can at least get a straw doll of a bride. Not exactly a blow-up doll, but then again, you are going to be able to make good use of it.

Given the obviously weighty importance of getting matched for these folks, it hardly seems important that the are lying about their age, height, income or anything else. In this remote Chinese village, for instance, beg, borrowing and stealing any woman for your son (dead or alive) is far more important than trying to find the "perfect match."

Still, don't these understand that someday they will meet some of these women and that 6'1" they claimed in their profiles will NOT match up to their actual 5'9" statures?? Or do they think that all of us on match are desperate women who are also depth perception challenged??

Don't get me started on the lack of social skills or just mildly socially awkwardness factor. It won't be pretty. And, I am sure you can probably guess my objection to internet dating with regard to these details.

And, um, what's with all the want to find my partner, the woman for me will be my best friend, bullshit. Give me a break. is CLEARLY hook-up CENTRAL. And these dudes may be willing to date, but this is mostly about not having to work too hard for sex. I don't necessarily have a problem with the concept of a hook-up central, I just don't understand the need to LIE.

Here is what I take from it: you think I am stupid.

Alternatively, I imagine: you think this is what I want to hear. Which leads me to: you have no idea what I want to hear. Or: you have a problem with truth.

I don't want you to get the idea that I am just so cynical it doesn't matter what they put in their profiles. I READ the profiles, cringing all the while, but I do read them. I do believe that there are men out there who are capable of being sincere, honest and interested in developing relationships. I just am not sure that those men are trolling Maybe they are and I am a cynical bitch who doesn't deserve a date with any of these wholesome men.

Maybe not.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I decided not to call this post Statis...though that is how I have been feeling.

Just a little update on the healthy resolution:
-I have not been exercising. Since that fateful post, I have only gone on two walks and done yoga three times. No running, though Mary does try to get me out there.

-I have been eating well. I have not eaten OUT since the posting. And I did go to the grocery store, so that helps. My daily fiber intake has fluctuated from 25-50 over the past two weeks. It works, I swear.
Here is one high fiber, good taste recommendation. 14 fibers per tortilla...ok, that is over half of the rda of fiber in your diet. You can find them at Safeway, in Oakland, at least. After my favorite breakfast of kashi oatmeal with added flax and dried fruit (12-16g of fiber depending on the dried fruit), I am DONE for the day with the fiber. But I have been also trying to get fresh veggies and fruit every day as well. I will admit, I ordered the kashi bars as well. Not like eating a candy bar or anything like that, but I carry it around with me, get 4g fiber and stave off hunger while I am out in the world of McDonalds and Ice Cream Stores.

-I have lost the requisite two pounds each week, so far. We will see where I am next Monday.

-I ordered some exercise do-thingy, but I have not gone to pick it up at REI just yet. That should happen this weekend and then I hope to be serious about making good use of said exercise do-thingy.

-I am keeping a food and exercise log in an effort to keep me HONEST and on track. So far, it has not managed to make me WANT to exercise, but it has kept me from running out and eating CAKE or DONUTS.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some of my Favorite Virtual Places

Here are my favorite blogs...not new just reminding you to take a gander if you haven't or haven't in a while.

If you haven't read PostSecret, get to it. What would your postcard say?

My coach, at least for a while, Andrea, spills her guts in the most poetic way ever, in words and pictures.

I am sure there are many wonderful blogs to read; share your favorites with me!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Oxnard, part 1

When I was growing up, there wasn't any place I wanted to be less. Oxnard was the jail of my adolescence. Who's hometown isn't?

As I child, my street, my school, my neighborhood (known to those from without as South Oxnard) was my world. It was a safe place, for the most part, and my life revolved around my family and all of our extra parts. My mother cared for children in our home as a way of not having to work outside the home. So besides my four siblings of a wide range of ages, we always had two or three other very needy children running around our house.

My hometown is the stepchild of the county. We don't have a pretty name or a mission or anything of note, really, but as an adult, I can look back and see that we had the best beaches, really wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables and the kind of welcoming and friendly place you mostly only read about in books. Everyone in my community, as far as I could walk or bike in any direction, knew who I was. They were folks who had known my family for years or at least since we had moved into the neighborhood. Some of the them went to high school with my parents when there was only one high school in our town (by the time I was in high school there were four in town, now there are five with three alternative campuses). Even if they didn't know you, they behaved as though they did.

But as I grew older, that world felt like it was closing in on me. What had been comforting, like a cocoon, was now just suffocating. And all I could dream of was how to get away from what seemed like the smallest town in the world. It was, in fact, then and now the largest city in the county by population if not by geography. But, nothing seemed smaller than Oxnard when I was a teen-ager. Everything seemed more sophisticated, more exciting and better.

I couldn't get out of the 'Nard fast enough and have, really, never gone back to live for longer than 10 months. But, now, when I visit, I start to catch glimpses of what I gave up, how the place formed me, and to understand why, even though I haven't really lived there since I was 18, I still always claim it.

Where are you from?

Southern California,'s between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, on the coast.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Weight, BMI and Resolutions

So, for a woman of my height, in order for me to model in Spain, I would have to tip the scale at a whopping 112 lbs; that is enough to get to me to a BMI of 18... the article states, that most of the models, are, in fact, between 14 and 16 on the BMI scale. Ok, so in real terms, that means that they weigh between 87 and 99 lbs. When you think about it in the actual weight, I guess it makes sense to think that someone who weighs 112 lbs is slightly more healthy than someone who weighs 87-99 lbs. I guess those women might not collapse on the runway...afterall, it does seem that it was the death of one of the models on the runway that made these folks react. Surely, there were models dying off the runway from complications of starvation.

However, the calculator that I used to make these comparisons states that my ideal weight is between 117-143 lbs. I hate to disagree with whomever made up this ideal weight, but honestly, 117 is just unrealistically low; even according to the calculator, someone of my height would have to get all the way to 124 lbs in order to be "healthy."

Also, that upper range of ideal weight is also misleading. According to the calculator, I can get all the way to 155 before I am "slightly overweight." So, why list 117-143 as my ideal weight? No wonder we all have messed up body image issues!! (Each one of the calculator links is a different BMI calculator on the internet.)

So, why do I care about all this?? Well, of course, like everyone else in the US, I am overweight... not morbidly obese...for that I would have to tip the scales at 185 lbs (I have been there before, it's not comfortable). Just yesterday, I decided to take control of my weight by making a plan... here it is:

I want to exercise regularly (I just finished my second half marathon). Starting October 1st, I will be back to running after giving my body a well-deserved two weeks off. I am back to walking as much as possible, three miles today, one mile yesterday...more tomorrow. With the fabulous tools available on, you can calculate the miles run or walked and how many calories you have burned according to your age, weight and pace.

I plan to do yoga as much as I can, with a goal of three times per week, starting next week. What else? I plan to eat well. With all of these goals in mind, I walked to the farmer's market today to buy some fresh fruit and veggies.

What will I not do?? Starve myself... breakfast is my new best friend; usually oatmeal, but also my favorite pancake mix. Check out these great products. It's great to find good-for-you food that tastes great as well. In case you are wondering, eating better to me means getting my daily recommended 23-25 grams of fiber per day. When I can get that much fiber, it usually means I can eat just about anything else I want to eat (ok, not a whole box of donuts, but one donut for sure).

Ok...happy eating and exercising.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

the demise of women's colleges?

Though I did not choose (or even consider) attending a single-sex college, the death of yet another one is sad. The thing is, I had a choice... if the trend continues, women will not have the choice.

Watching my sister's progress through the women's college she chose to attend, the value of having a choice became clear. It is not to say that my sis would not have thrived in a coed environment. I am sure she would have kicked ass and taken names just about anywhere she decided to go. The point is, she CHOSE to go to a single-sex college.

I never really understood her decision. I am not sure if there was a particular reason that pushed her towards the choice. All I know is that she only wanted to apply to single-sex institutions.

Whatever the reason, the results are undeniable. It was amazing to watch the changes in her over a very short amount of time. Maybe the changes would have come as easily at a coed institution. Maybe not. But, in any case, I would hate to think that in 20 years, there were only coed colleges and the lovely daughters just born this year to my dear friends would not have the chance to experience a women's college if they wanted to do so.