family tree

Saturday October 29, 2005 at 10:04 AM PDT

Everything, every problem in the world can be resolved with compassion.

Ever notice how some Christians can be so un-christian like? Assuming guilty until proven innocent is the new American way, from WMDs to pricing a short block engine. With even the smallest amount of compassion, we can imagine the motivations of others might be good. Apparently that is so un-American and therefore un-Christian.

Yup. Our president has equated the two. Hand in hand we are bringing suffering to many. If I were God I would wreak my wrath on all those people who inflict suffering in my name. Yet I'd prefer to be a bodhisattva peaceful in the realization that one could free oneself from suffering. Alas I am me, poor soul who has moments of fragile clarity... and then is heard no more.

Thursday July 20, 2005 at 3:23 PM PDT

Misguided pit bull ban in Denver; ends with “He’s been dangerous to a couple of pairs of shoes and some mini-blinds,” Dias said. “But otherwise he’s a jewel.”

Thursday July 20, 2005 at 6:42 AM PDT

Dog barks at fire.

Tuesday June 6, 2005 at 9:52 PM PDT

I blew it, years ago. Regrets? I have a few, but then again... Hmmmm I am not typically haunted by regret. But I am mentioning this one because it is still with me after almost 30 years. Star Hagood and Marli Statler Cavanaugh. I lost them. I was young and I moved 3000 miles away. They both wrote to me and I never wrote back.

Monday May 30, 2005 at 7:46 AM PDT

I found a stray puppy. What am I going to do? Why is this an emotional and philosophical crisis?

The emotional part is easy to understand. What's not to love about a puppy. He is incredibly cute, fairly well behaved, follows me everywhere, and is training really easily. My dog died two years ago, and I am ready for a new pet. He is not the dog I would have chosen, but I am beginning to bond with him. Why not adopt this one?

Can you say pit bull? He comes with a lot of social baggage. I get over 2.5 million hits on google for "pit bull". Compare that with 1.3 million hits for Doberman.

When I take Buster for a walk, every one comes over to pet the cute puppy. Inevitably each one asks "what kind of dog is it?" When I say the magic words "pit bull" I get the oddest reactions from adults. Kids continue to pet the puppy as if I had said "Bichon Friese". But adults invariably stop their petting and their faces go blank as if to conceal their true reaction.

I can only guess it is fear, disdain, concern... I really do not know. After a brief pause, most continue the conversation, but several go into "are you going to keep him?" a disguise for "you've got to be crazy to keep him". Then they go on to lecture on the numerous reasons that pit bulls do not make good pets ranging from being a time bomb of aggression waiting to go off an any moment without provocation to exposure to liability.

With so much written on the pit bull, how does one separate fact from fiction? The AKC is not very helpful. They only provide information about what the dog needs to look like to conform to the standard. News articles range from people who think they should be exterminated to the people who love these beasts and post pictures of their 1 month-old baby lying on the bed next to their pit bull, a stupid thing to do with any breed of dog. Trying to find the few pieces that are not at either extreme I am left with inconclusive information. It is the owner and not the breed that is almost always the cause of the improperly trained dogs responsible for the brutal attacks. Almost always.

Best I can tell, pit bulls are the frightening dog du jour. 15 years ago it was Dobermans, and 15 years before that it was German Shepards. If I told my neighbor I was getting a German Shepard, he would not be as concerned, even though German Shepards account for more dog attacks than pit bulls. But pit bulls are news, and the media makes the most of it. And whether people should be more afraid of German Shepards or less afraid of pit bulls is only one of the many philosophical questions being raised here. Another is "canine racism", the perpetuation of stereotypes much to the degradation of a racial group.

Remember Petey from the Little Rascals? He was a pit bull.

Here is the worst ethical dilemma for me. I'm having difficulty considering neutering the little guy. I did not neuter my beagle, going against the advice I received from the breeders, my vet, everyone. You can't fix something that isn't broken. But if I am to keep a male dog with a reputation for aggression it seems appropriate to cut off his balls.

You are as polarized as the rest of the bunch out there. Half of you are saying to yourselves "that lady is stupid to even consider keeping that puppy".

Saturday May 21, 2005 at 8:15 AM PDT

I feel overwhelmed by the people who look to me to ... to ... well each person wants something different. It ranges from returning a phone call to making their life better.

I feel guilty when I say no, I cannot do that at this time. I cannot lead the 7th grade parent association. I cannot drive my daughter to the city so she can be on Spanish radio at 3:00 and assure she will be back by 3:30 for her gymnastics meet. I don't have time to buy soy milk at Whole Foods, fix the trellis, dig my garden. And if you want something deeper, less tangible, like empathy, love, or all of my time ... well ... I want to do it all and especially for you, but I can't.

You all just have to take care of yourselves for a while. I'm feeling overwhelmed.

Friday May 20, 2005 at 10:01 AM PDT

The sun is shinning, the sky a vivid azure. I hear the birds chirping and the tea kettle begin to boil. Yet my heart is heavy and sad. Bad news abounds and hurts the people around me. Death, loss, illness, dysfunction. Change... suffering impermanence, or in some cases it is the suffering of a lack of change from an undesired state.

I can focus on the positive if I wish. I can think about Aja. I can think about how Aja won third place at the Spanish poetry contest. I can imagine how excited she will be getting ready for the middle school dance tonight. But I don't want to. Right now I want to stay with the pain of those I love so I can be closer to them.

Sometimes I make the strangest choices.

Monday May 16, 2005 at 6:49 AM PDT

I've been reading a little about autism in Oliver Sacks' book about brain malfunctions. Ten percent of autistics are also savants. It is interesting to think about the brain of people who can not function in some seemingly simple aspects of life, but who have highly developed brains for certain specialized thought, often calculations or art.

Sacks tells stories. He leaves the analysis of the behaviors he describes to the reader. I am left with believing that the autistic child is so sensitive and smart that at some point she can no longer handle the massive amounts of sensory input screaming to be processed. So she shuts down input of everything but the one thing that fascinates her most. Most children's brains do not start specializing until age eleven. Imagine if you specialize before you are two, before you have language or are toilet trained?

Friday May 13, 2005 at 7:41 AM PDT

"Give me my Romeo : and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with the night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun."
     - W. Shakespeare

Thursday April 14, 2005 at 6:50 AM PDT

One hour into the trip Lance called us on the radio "Red truck to green truck. Can you provide a driver?" I, the designated alternate, drove the red truck down 101 to the plains while Lance slept. Our very small caravan had begun a 2000 mile week-long journey to and through California and Nevada deserts.

We had intended to gas up in Santa Margarita, but the pumps were closed. There would be no services for the next 87 miles. Albert fretted. His six-cylinder 4Runner gobbles fuel at a faster rate than Lance's four-cylinder one. He did not think he would make it.

Arriving at the flowering meadows overlooking the salt lake, we piled out to stretch our legs and take in the scenery. Aja chased grasshoppers. I photographed a butterfly. Albert read the placard about the endangered species living here and the plate tectonics that formed the terrain.

Lance wanted to see the San Andreas fault, which lie sandwiched between the Salt Lake and the Temblor Mountains. "Temblor" means earthquake in Spanish. I was hungry. Albert wanted gas. Thus began my stress at keeping harmony in the group, balancing needs, which came to define the trip for me.

We four wheeled across the plain, through four-foot high weeds, in a bee line to the fault. "Where's the road? I can't see it. I'm going to run out of gas, and we are in the middle of nowhere." I needed to offer constant reassurance.

Flat turned to small hills, broken ground actually. We had reached the fault and were not sure if it was passable. Now I began to doubt my judgement. I had counted on being able to cross the fault to reach the road on the other side of the valley. Doubling back we would most certainly run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Granted we had the red truck as a gas fetching resource, but trying to find the green one after dusk in the middle of a grassy plain would have been a futile as looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack.

Fortunately the 4Runners were up to the task of scrambling over some rough terrain. Once on the east side of the fault we stopped, set out blankets and began our picnic. All fears dissipated as we basked in the success of our off road foray. Lance reached the fault, I was being fed, and Albert... well he still had no gas. But he drank half a beer and relaxed for 5 minutes. He then picked up the binoculars searching for the "road" that according to the map ran along the west side of the Temblor range. Was it going to be another road like the last, hidden by foliage that took advantage of the early spring rainfall and lack of vehicular traffic? Now he fretted that the road did not exist and the sun was sinking low in the sky.

I almost won my bet with Albert, that the green truck could make it 300 miles without a refill. At 298 on the tripometer, we pulled into the pumps in Maricpoa, a dreary town replete with mangy dogs and abandoned petroleum mining equipment. I was glad to gas up and move on.

We saw a crop duster fly under the wires to hit a field next to the road with white powder pesticides. We stopped to watch, but he would not repeat his performance in our company. We speculated. Perhaps he did not wish to spray us with the nasty stuff, or he was breaking FAA regulations flying so close to the road. It was clear he would not resume until we left, so we did.

We woke up Easter morning in the Quality Inn in Barstow. The bunny had come leaving baskets for the kids and candles for the men. Small colorful plastic eggs filled with quarters were hidden in the room. Aja and Jaxon chose to collaborate and split the findings instead of competing for them. Pretty cool kids eh?

Lance was feverish, but after a shower and a little food, he was feeling up to the task of driving to Vegas. There is not much to look at between Barstow and Los Vegas, a few snow capped mountains in the distance, a few joshua trees. I reflected on my experience haven driven this road nearly thirty years ago in the wee hours of the morning. At twenty one, the desert is a wasteland. Or so I had agreed with my two twenty-one year old travelling companions at the time, but even then I knew that this agreement was not true to myself. There was something here that needed further exploration.

The Mirage was exactly what we had hoped for. The kids went straight for the pool. Lance and I checked in, and I could see he was fading fast. A few hours later he was shivering in bed, feeling like he was going to die. Somehow he managed to get upright, and with the help of a cool washcloth on his forehead, we navigated the trolley and crowds to Cirque du Soleil.

Mystere is magical. It is a story about birth and life told with humor and emotion. It is not the story that captivates you, but the creative athleticism, the music, the costumes. The gestalt of beauty in motion envelops you. You fly with the acrobat lizards on the poles, with the shimmering creatures on the trapeze, surreal like a dream.

I had thought that Cirque was the most entertaining theater one could watch. But the next evening, the Blue Man show put that proclamation to the test.

Days in Vegas were sunny and windy, spraying the cascade of water that flowed down from the rocks into the swimming pool. The big water slides were closed for repairs. The kids spent most of their time on the small slides and in the small pool. I spent my time on the lounge chair reading Oliver Sacks. Albert drank virgin pina coladas. Lance remained in the hotel room alternating between flu recovery and the stress of having to work... think laptop and conference calls.

Jaxon and Aja made us proud. The two of them navigated the casino, the pool, the shops, the chaos as an independent team. Eleven. In many times and places they would be preparing for marriage and other adult responsibilities, and on this trip they showed they might be capable of such things. Three days without a fight between them.

Two words room service. We did not dine out once.

Lance's full recuperation and the desire to see a magic act kept us in Vegas one more night. Then we loaded up at Ranch 99 we headed toward Death Valley.

When I say "loaded up" I mean loaded. I don't think we could have fit another water jug or can of peas. It seemed each time we opened the door something leaked out. What I loosely call civilization was fading fast in the rear view mirror. Goodbye Los Vegas, bigger than Disney World and more grown up, the best and worst of America all wrapped up in a desert oasis.

Ahead of us was brown in all shapes and sizes. I knew we should have booked luxury at the end of the trip, but the hotel room rates did not agree, tripling as the week progressed. So we had to open our minds and hearts for a new more earthy experience.

Death Valley is big, very big, a scale I had never witnessed before. Thus I could not calculate time or distance well and all planning went to hell. Sun was heading west and we needed to find a place to camp out.

We first tried the Mesquite Spring campsite at the north end of the park. I liked this location because it was away from the crowds at Furnace Creek and close to the attractions I most wanted to see. After a 50-mile drive from the park entrance to the site, we found all 30 spaces full. A camper advised us to come back in the morning at 8:00 am and harass those intending to leave to be sure we got their spot. He assured us that this would be a three-hour process, one that he had successfully utilized just the day before. We considered this option. We would have to drive another 60 miles to spend the night in the Sunset campsite which could accommodate 1000 campers parking lot style, then we would wake up at dawn, break camp, and return to Mesquite Spring to first harass then forever after be harassed by would-be campers. Clearly we needed another option.

Incredulous that in such a vast wilderness we could find no place to camp, we began tearing through the books and papers. They clearly stated that one was not allowed to camp except in designated spots. Finally Albert found a loophole; we could camp anywhere as long as it was two miles from the nearest paved road. Off road we went to find an isolated spot. At the edge of a valley, 5 miles down a washboard road, we stopped. Just after the sun had set, the two men had finally agreed that this was indeed the prefect spot.

Just then a little head popped up from a ditch. In the middle of nowhere we managed to camp right next to another camper! He nodded to give us permission to invade his solitude. In the morning we found he was hiking the length of Death Valley solo, 160 miles alone with a backpack. We offered supplies, but he asked only that we take his trash, 5 empty water jugs. I could only imagine the weight of his pack when those jugs were full.

So much to see; where do we start? We started with a 16 mile drive down the same dirt road to the Racetrack named for the mysterious sliding rocks. More about that later. We bumped our way pass Teakettle Junction, where previous passers-by had abandoned their kettles on the junction sign. About 30 kettles decorated the post and swayed in the breeze.

Arriving at the racetrack, the kids made for "The Grandstand" a large outcropping of dark rock jutting out of the center of a large tan mud flat. Walking on the cracked dry mud seemed a bit alien, felt soft yet hard under my feet. I imagine this is how it would feel to walk on the moon if it had gravity and oxygen, spongy and solid at once.

I drove south down 2 miles to the other side of the flats. The rest of the crew hiked the flats and were supposed to meet me near the sliding rocks. I hiked east about 1 mile and began to see the tracks left by rocks. Apparently the rocks break off from the mountains. When it rains they start gliding across the slippery mud in random directions, perhaps fueled by the wind. No one has ever seen a rock move, so this is all postulation. At the end of each track is a rock, some small as a baseball, some large as an ice chest.

Through my binoculars I could see the clan arriving at the truck a mile away from my position at the southeast corner of the flat. It did not look as though they were joining me, so I made my way back. They were mad and worried. Where had I been? Hmmmm. Right where I said I would be. Didn't they use their binoculars to find me? Something I had not considered, the heat off the baking mud creates visual distortion of the first few feet off the ground. People, through the binoculars, look a bit like you are viewing them in a fun house mirror, long torsos, tiny heads. While it is easy to recognize a party of four, two kids and two men, it is not so easy to identify a lone hiker, especially if you forgot what she was wearing.

Now for the really long drive. Twenty miles of washboard, 6 paved, then another 30 on dirt, washboard, washouts, and winding roads through the hills. We arrived at Eureka Dunes about 40 minutes before sunset and immediately began our assent up the tallest dune we could see.

The sun was low in the sky casting dramatic shadows, sculpting the dunes, sharpening the serpentine ridge line. I was in heaven. I grasped my Canon in my right hand and did not let go. Together we surveyed the vast ocean of sand, the tsunami waves of sand, the mountains of liquid sand.

The kids were in heaven too. They slid down the hills on their bellies. They figured out how to make the mountains moan. Step just the right way in the right place and you set off a cascade. Sand granules rubbing against sand granules cause friction, reverberate, make a moaning sound, and tremble the earth beneath the feet of anyone within a certain radius. Lance, who had done all the driving between the Racetrack and the Dunes, had wondered why we were going so far to see a pile of sand. Now he was smitten; he felt the magic of this place.

Exhausted, we arrived back at camp. Someone cooked something and it was delicious. Stars filled the moonless sky. The air was cold and dry. We crawled into our tents, into our sleeping bags seeking warmth and rest.

Albert woke at the crack of dawn, slid into the red truck and departed for Vegas, some trade show he wanted to attend. Is it all men, or just the two I chose to travel with that can't take a whole week off from work? To be fair, in this case Albert was being opportunistic. He was just a few hours away from a business opportunity. I'm pretending I get it, but really I don't. Let it go man! You're on vacation.

He missed a slow morning around the campsite. We flew the hot air dirigible, the remote control glider, played trumpet and harmonica, and looked for more entertainment in Lance's large bin of play things. After breakfast we took a short hike past Ubehebe Crater to Little Hebe Crater. The brightly colored wild flowers stood brilliant against the dark volcanic rock. The kids chased Lance around the perimeter of the smaller crater as I found time alone with my camera. It was all too much, the snow peaked mountains in the distance, the brown desert floor below, the colored rock, the flowers, the blue sky. Heaven... or somewhere close to it.

We drove to Scotty's Castle to fill up the car and wash the dishes. Many people and cars, a bustling oasis, we did not stay to tour the monument or understand its historical significance. Instead we headed south and then west to see a waterfall in the desert.

A ninety-mile drive, just past Panamint Springs, there is an unmarked dirt road on the left. It's hard to find; we missed it thrice. Once you make the turn it's easy and fun, a short drive and a short hike through a canyon that tapers, over a cool stream, through some marsh, to a small cold pool darkened by tree cover. The pool is backed by a fall of water about 20 feet high and one foot in width, split in two near the bottom by a jutting bolder. To the side of the falls grew moss and ferns adding even more variations on the color green to the scenery.

I was the first in up to my ankles. Lance was the only one to completely immerse himself in the clear but icy pool. After days in the desert without a shower it was probably a good idea. Yet it was not one I could convince myself to follow. It was already late in the day, the scorching sun had begun its descent. I could all too well remember the cold from last night that was soon to remake itself. I do not suffer cold well.

Out of the shaded oasis it was in fact still warm, but no longer hot. Travelling back toward Stovepipe Wells we stopped at Mosaic Canyon. Lance set the kids running again. Aja slipped on the gravel and scraped her knee. I could tell it took quite a bit of determination to hold back tears and keep a smile on her face, and that's exactly what she did.

Jaxon took the high road above the canyon while the rest of us hiked through. Gravel turned to aggregate, aggregate turned to smooth stone below and to each side of us. The aggregate was also smooth to the touch, pebbles embedded in limestone, polished by flood waters that rushed through creating this narrow passage years ago. The red, black and white marble was so slick, the kids slid down the sloped walls like it was play yard equipment.

We didn't stay long and decided to make one more stop at the Mesquite Dunes, smaller than Eureka but still quite beautiful. The sun was already below the horizon; thus while the dunes did not present a photo opportunity they had a sense of twilight serenity. I fantasized we had sleeping bags and a bite to nibble on, so that we might find a hidden spot and stay the night. Instead we made the long drive back to the campsite arriving just minutes after Albert returned from Los Vegas.

The last day in Death Valley was the hottest. Aja and I took advantage of the warmth of the early morning by bathing in what remained of our water. I have a small blue tub, just big enough to squat in. Of course Aja fits much better than I; she can actually sit in it. We poured cold water over our bodies, soaped the dirtiest of places, and let the rinse water chill us in a most delicious way. In the arid desert the chill disappears in moments as the wetness swiftly evaporates. The sensation is the opposite of jumping in the swimming pool on a hot summer day yet just as invigorating.

Breaking camp was an enjoyable chore. Albert packed the fossils he collected. Lance put away the toys. The kids washed dishes. And I did everything else... or nothing else, I can't quite remember. Back in the trucks, we stopped on the valley floor and took pictures of the carpet of yellow flowers obscuring what is standardly a brown flat. Albert changed a tire.

We tried to get to Dante's View, but the road was closed. The effort took us through Furnace Creek and past the Sunset campground. The place was packed. We realized what a different experience we had than most visitors to Death Valley that week. In that one-hour stretch we had seen at least 50 times the number of cars and people than what we had witnessed the rest of our visit.

We passed through a spot marked 200 feet below sea level and took a picture of the road continuing down hill from there. We could see Telescope Peak rising to over 11,000 feet. The horn capped with snow almost glowed white.

We stopped just east of the Panamint Range and picnicked on a mud flat. A military jet zoomed overhead. We pulled out the toys, a stunt kite and estes rockets. We didn't fly the rockets. I'm not sure if we were missing parts or if recall of our troubles last year flying rockets in the state park dissuaded us. We had been ticketed and kicked out of the park.

We drove through the Panamint Mountains, officially left the park, and arrived at the foot of the Sierras. It annoyed us that we had to go south to go north. Yet we understood if we went north we'd have to cross the Sierras and that would take an additional 3 hours. I was under time pressure to get home by midnight. I had a wedding in Berkeley the next morning. We decided to save the trip through the Sierras for next year.

We did get home just before midnight. And I woke up with plenty of time to make a 10 o'clock wedding. Half way through getting dressed I decided to listen to voice mail. There was the message from Stephen reminding me to set my clock forward an hour, daylight savings time had just begun. Needless to say I did not see Stephen and Kimi exchange vows.

Saturday March 19, 2005 at 9:03 AM PST

I just read a piece in the Weekly from a Palo Alto mom who is not ready for her son's entrance into kindergarten. She is worried he may sneeze and no one will be there to hand him a tissue. I have three words for her, get a life!

Am I being unsympathetic? Perhaps. I am jaded by living for 15 years in this town, tired of type A parents striving for perfection through their kids, excess wealth allowing mothers the option of working full time in the home and therefore defining themselves through the successes of their children. IMHO it is incredibly unhealthy for both the parent and the child.

I grew up in a town just like this one. I was one of the fortunate few whose family struggled financially to pay the mortgage, keep the children clothed and fed, had no gardner and no maid, and had never had a brand new car. Once the kids were in school, mom worked full time to help support the household. She was a bookkeeper. She left for the office with a smile on her face, teaching me that one could enjoy work. Her boss sometimes called her at night or on the weekend asking for some critical bit of financial information. She rattled it off the top of her head, teaching me that her work was important and that she was competent.

I can't imagine what it would have been like, what I would be like today had I not experienced my mother this way. It would be college before I would have learned to stick a few tissues in my pocket in case I needed to sneeze.

When I did get to college it shocked me at how many kids had never before done their own laundry, managed their own pocket cash, did not know how to set their own limits. Their poor middle-aged moms must have been sitting home paralyzed by lack of meaning, picking menopause as a time to redefine themselves. It is no wonder many husbands chose this time to abandon them for a younger model. While I find it poor character on their part, at least it explains an existing social phenomenon. And perhaps I write these last lines to shock a few moms into getting a life of their own, while it is of their own choosing.

Wednesday March 9, 2005 at 6:50 PM CST

The Colonial Club Pachington Fashion Show, a large room filled with 100 old ladies with interesting faces. I looked at each one intently, studying their differences and similarities. Most sported short curled hair, dyed light brown with a reddish tint. Some wore their natural gray, some hair straight, but only one with long hair tied up in a bun. Faces creased, it did not take away from their lovliness. The structure of their cheek bones, the length of their necks. Ursala with her erect lips; young women pay money to make them look so full of life. Their rounding bodies still had their feminine curves.

Here at the fashion show they each sat aware of their posture and dress. They had worn white gloves in their younger days. Now whether in pastels or bright colors, they resemled a flock of ornate birds.

Where were the men? It was the womens club after all. This was not an event for men. The reality is that there are no men. They are dead, like my father. The women live on, in flocks.

Friday March 4, 2005 at 3:04 PM MST

Only keen observers will note that I am on Mountain time. I am somewhere in the sky over Utah and will soon land in Salt Lake only to board yet another craft headed for South Florida. My apologies for the derth of blog entries. I have been writing elsewhere.

Why did that come out like a confession from the unfaithful one? I'm sure you read elsewhere. Catholic guilt strikes again. Incessant need to apologize... Can't you see the pattern? I am apologizing for being too apologetic. I feel an endless spiral pulling me down into the sea of the forever guilty and repentant... wooooahhhh.

Thursday February 24, 2005 at 12:40 PM PST

Computer Junkie

It has been only two hours since I left my laptop at home. While I did so consciously, and while I have been occupied with driving since we parted, I feel its absence hanging over me. It is the anticipation of missing it that has my cells on alert. Its hard disk holds my livelihood, my correspondence, my history, my hobbies. Its wireless internet card connects me to everything and everyone. Its software is my teacher and my servant, tools, enabling my creativity.

Am I really such a nerd? I did bring my digital camera, my iPod, my cell phone and my PDA. I brought books, a pen & journal, logs for the fireplace, and a bottle of wine. I brought friends and family, skiis and sleds... but I still want my laptop!

Sunday February 13, 2005 at 12:40 PM PST

I've been asked to photograph a memorial service for a friend's brother. Thirty years after his untimely and unacceptable death, his family has healed, reunited, and will mark this auspicious occasion with a service to scatter his ashes.

A rush of many distinct and diverse emotions flood me as I entertain this prospect. First I am deeply flattered. But also I feel fraudulent, like I've tricked someone into believing I actually have some skill to offer. Do I? I don't know. I know only that I have a passion for photography and am grateful to be given an opportunity to practice this art.

It is my life's dream to be a photo journalist, to capture the world in my lens and to preserve it.... no, to transform it into a deep glossy two-dimensional representation of what is inherently an aesthetic and emotional moment.

I enjoy capturing people even more than the beauty in all things big and small which surround my everyday life. The human form is complex with its shadows and curves not often found elsewhere in a suburbia filled with hard lines and geometry. People have a wealth of expressiveness in their faces and postures. And it is exactly that richness that makes them so challenging to photograph. Hesitate half a second and the moment is gone. Get close enough to take the shot but not so close as to influence it.

I am nervous. I don't want to disappoint, not Tony and not myself. I'm thrilled to be given this opportunity. I can't wait to sit with my day's work on my laptop, view the raw results, and continue to craft a composition of my best shots into a small album, to sit with the prints and arrange them in such a way to relive the experience.

Good karma ripening, this opportunity is a direct result of some note cards I made last summer. I attempted to capture the essence of Green Tara by photographing the trees and leaves at Vajrapani. I employed the photos to create a stack of note cards. Then I gave the cards to people in my life I felt could appreciate them, who gave me gifts that are hard to describe and harder to reciprocate, like the gift of opportunity.

Saturday February 12, 2005 at 7:21 PM PST

Did I tell you that I was a chaperone at the middle school dance? In an all girls school, boys appear by invitation only. I'm guessing that there were 80 girls and 10 boys in attendance. Boys get a purple heart for bravery!

One boy, a tall and handsome fellow, hung the whole night in the halls by himself. He barely talked to anyone, just peered in the doors from time to time to watch the others frolicking about, laughing, and dancing. And he stood, muscular arms folded across his chest, long hair covering his eyes, ducking into the shadows if anyone approached. Why he is here? Is he looking for trouble? Who invited him?

Later Walter tells me the boy's story. He has come to every dance for the past 3 years, invited by the same pretty and vivacious girl who gets to the dance, has one conversation with him, and then proceeds to ignore him for the rest of the evening. He has tried to enter the room, but his good looks and quiet mystery make him a girl magnet. Each time he steps in the door, a wall of girls surround him. They all want to talk, to dance, to be with him. He is frightened to death of them. Thus he retreats.

I had no idea that some boys experience the same cross-sex intimidation that I did as a girl.

The girls clump together in three distinct groups. The sixth graders, dressed in t-shirts and slacks, bounce balloons in the halls, run from room to room looking for adventure. These are girls who want to play. Socially care-free, it's all about fun.

The seventh grade girls and a few seventh-grade wannabees are dressed in short frilly skirts and tight tops. Their hair is pony-tailed in a variety of positions and shapes, designed carefully to appear casual in it's implementation. They stand just off the dance floor in a circle, moving ever so slightly to the rhythm of the music. They are in fact dancing, but they dare not make too big a move or someone might judge them harshly.

The eighth graders look more like women than girls. Their fully mature bodies pull their dates on to the dance floor for all the slow songs. No longer nervous at dances, they wear hardened faces and move in groups of 2 or 3 into the corners to whisper.

The dance is middle school in a nutshell.

Saturday February 5, 2005 at 8:38 PM PST

I talked to my car. I said "How ya doin baby? You're fourteen and just as fun to drive as the day I got you." Literally. And I meant it.

I'm watching the Santana Supernatural DVD. Dave Mathews croons as Carlos makes the guitar sing out with the expressiveness few others can match, none IMHO.

I first heard Santana in the late 60's. Evil Ways blared out at every high school social event. Then Black Magic Woman. Samba pa ti to this day still puts me in that dreamy feel-good state. Permanently hooked on Latin rhythms, I saw the various incarnations of the band play in a variety of venues over the years. Abraxis remains my favorite album through time. And nearly 40 years later Carlos can still knock my socks off with a rockin' Latin sound. Supernatural.

Tuesday February 1, 2005 at 12:06 PM PST

Peanut butter, whole wheat bagels, coffee, chocolate, and spinach. This list has not changed for years. If I were stranded on a desert island, what 5 foods would I choose to sustain me until rescue? The rules vary. Should you consider nutrition or refrigeration requirements? Can you assume the 5 foods are in addition to what you might find on the island, like fish and coconuts. Can you choose prepared foods like chicken chow mein?

Walt creates a variant of my desert island game. What 5 items would you bring. I'm such a nerd I want my laptop and wireless internet, but it is disallowed because I could then communicate to the outside world and be rescued. Also we were unsure about the availability of electricity on the island once my batteries wore out. To replace the functions of this one device I need so many, and they are not adequate. Books, journals and pens, musical instruments... a pet.

Why do I like these stupid social games? Why do I like personality tests? The answer is the same for both questions, though I know not what it is.

Friday January 14, 2005 at 7:48 AM PST

The fog fills my yard, a volume of fluffy translucent liquid. So thick I can barely make out the trees. Albert and Aja step into the cold wet blanket and disappear. My house, flying at 20 thousand feet, needs to go up or down to break free of the clouds.

My head, with caffeinated blood coursing through it, is clear. A stark contrast to what surrounds me. My head is the eye of the storm. My eye is the center of my visual universe. My retina ...

Tuesday January 11, 2005 at 8:20 AM PST

I was thinking I'd start a website called "Conflict Resolver" dot com. I would start out solving simple household disputes, like "should the toilet paper roll unravel from the top or the bottom?" Perhaps it is commonly known that it should unravel from the top; form follows function. While it is visually more pleasing for the unsightly torn end to be neatly tucked under the roll, it makes it hard to grasp. The solution to the visual blight is to tuck the corners of the ripped end under to form a V-shape, like they do in nice hotels.

This was indeed a year long conflict when Albert and I started living together. He won and I learned. Now I would like to share this knowledge. Unfortunately conflictresolver.com is already taken by someone promoting their own arbitration services.

Sunday January 9, 2005 at 9:05 AM PST

Saw Striking 12 for the second time. Albert's parents wore grins like those of children at a carnival as they sat transfixed by the three artists' performance. It was almost as fun to watch them as is was to see Valerie wail on her Viper violin.

The drummer, who reminds me of Phil Collins, is a humorous guy with a great voice. His drum performance last night, so tight, revealed his talent.

While the violinist gets all the accolades for being a virtuoso, having the voice of an angel, really rockin' on the violin, it is the keyboard player who steals my heart every time. His songs so personal, intimate, speak of the pain and joy in his life. They touch me with their fast lyrics, clever word play, and syncopated rhythms. He gives the whole band a Toy Matinee sound. We mentioned Toy Matinee to Brendon after the performance and his words of praise for Kevin Gilbert poured out as quickly as his song lyrics.

Perhaps it is the harmony of all three voices that puts GrooveLily on my map. Thank you GrooveLily for lighting up the start of 2005.

Sunday January 2, 2005 at 7:19 AM PST

Good morning world!

You can tell I've already had my daily cup of coffee. I am happy as I sit on my living room sofa beside my bedecked Christmas tree with my laptop in my lap. In such a fine mood, I can admit I was wrong and Albert was right. Those small creatures in the garage are indeed roaches. I had a momentary lapse; in a defensive maneuver I insisted they were beetles, an insect less tainted by bad reputation.

I employed google to learn more about our uninvited guests. Scanning images of roaches and beetles it seemed my friends, while bigger and rounder than the roaches I remember in the east coast inner cities, look decidedly more like roaches. Additionally I discovered some people keep roaches as pets.

I considered it for a moment. But what would I do with a fish tank full of pet roaches? I mean it's not like they are soft and cuddly. Would they greet me at the door when I come home? Probably not.

Tuesday December 28, 2004 at 8:02 AM PST

This guy (Jack Gescheidt) came into dance class with some awesome photographs. Apparently he had recruited some of the dance tribe to model with trees, and had arrived at the end of class to present the results of his efforts. His work is the best photography I've seen in a good long time. The website does not do the prints justice. Compared to the prints, the digital images are flat, i.e. they are missing the glow of the white glossy bodies against the deep texture of the tree bark. This picture employs many members of the tribe reaching skyward like the tree itself. In my favorite, only a few of the dancers appear twisted in with the gnarled branches of a tree in Golden Gate park. I wish I was one of those models for I would have been given a 16x20 inch print for free.

Monday December 27, 2004 at 7:13 AM PST

I was going to write about dance class. I was going to write about my trip to LA. But as I type in the date, December 27, my mind becomes paralyzed, hardened. My fingers become stiff, my eyes dry. This is what it feels like one year after my father's death. No tears, no joy, none of the emotion experienced over the past year. What am I afraid of?

I am in LA with my family. We will go to a church today and light a candle. It all seems very sedate, not at all what I want for this anniversary. I want to dance, to sing, to celebrate my father's life. My body and mind are unwilling. They sit like a rock, fragile like a dead tree branch. WAKE UP! Feel something!

Friday December 24, 2004 at 7:31 AM PST

Christmas Eve. This morning we will venture to All Saints Episcopal church and "feed the homeless". Feed the homeless. The homeless. Like feeding the fish, the homeless sounds like we will be tossing flakes at some sort of group animal. Sounds like we are visiting a zoo and feeding the zebras.

The homeless, they are not a group. They are individuals, sometimes couples, but most often men who live alone wherever they can. Some of the men who show up at the church to eat have homes. Most often home is a cheap hotel room, or worse a mat of straw they have assembled in a vacant lot that they return to each night for some shut-eye.

We prepare a meal in the church's large kitchen. The food is donated by local restaurants. Grocery stores donate day-old bread. Stanford University food services delivers leftovers from a meal the students did not devour. There is a group of local farmers who grow organic vegetables specifically for this program. That's pretty cool.

Once the food is prepared, we make a line of food servers. Each dish stands before a server wielding a spoon, spatula or ladle. The first server picks up a dish and asks the guest if he would like some salad. If the response is "yes" some salad gets placed on the plate and the plate is passed to the next server where this process is repeated down the line. The guests are not allowed to touch the food or the plate until they have reached the end of the line. Then the final production is handed over.

In my experience the servers have been very respectful of the guests, trying their hardest to remain cheerful and gracious. They are masking their horror and guilt. No one talks about how these guests have arrived at their station in life. No one is smug about their own good fortune. Each of us wonders, some with compassion and some with a hidden sense of superiority. Who is this man? How did he get here? Is he different from me?

It's Christmas Eve. There are people who are cold and hungry. There are young Americans in Iraq, far away from friends and family, scared from the danger they face. There are young Iraqi families scared from the danger they face, confused by the political turbulence, losing hope and trust. And I am sitting in my warm house beside a lit Christmas tree, my car trunk filled with gaily decorated presents for my family, Santa's booty. And I am telling my self to not feel guilty. Instead I will feel compassion for those less fortunate and fully celebrate the joy of my own life.

Thursday December 23, 2004 at 8:14 AM PST

Reading the Palo Alto Weekly this morning I find myself so sad I am crying. Not just a trickle of tears rolling down my cheek, but audible sobs. I don't try to fight it. I let the tears come out as my body tenses. A young man, son of a local politician, UC Davis student, has killed himself. I ask myself the same question his friends and family must be asking themselves, why? How could a young person feel so hopeless? How could he feel so alone?

This is the third year in a row a young male Palo Altan has taken his life, all in the months of the waning day light. First it was a Freshman boy at Paly, next a sophomore also at Paly. Both those boys threw themselves in front of the train near school. Now a Paly graduate, shoots himself. The paper says the same thing about all three boys, smart kids, well liked by all, possibly seemed a little "off" the few months preceding the suicide. Not a one told a soul of their plans. Not a one reached out for help.

What are we doing! Really! How can we as a community just stand by and watch? Can you imagine the pain and suffering that boy felt! Can you imagine the pain and suffering all three boys' families are going through now and for the rest of ttheir lives?

I start thinking of all my friends with teenage sons, of my nephews. What can I say or do to protect these precious souls. How can I tell them that when you are young a year seems like eternity, that 10 years from now a year will go by so quickly you will wonder what happened where all the time went. How can I make them understand that love and hope are all around them, always, that they just have to reach out... or reach inside themselves to find joy... a little light to illuminate the way through hard times.

Sunday December 19, 2004 at 7:20 AM PST

Music and Buddhism. I'm in the gym, doing crunches, and this song comes on. A banal song really, but it struck a pleasant chord and made me smile. In the car, driving to work, song number 5 on the Cheb Mami CD makes me want to dance, makes me happy to be alive, makes me love the world and everyone in it.

Emptiness. There is no music. There are sounds, auditory forms with shape and size and texture but no meaning. We give it meaning, shaping our reality from "learning". We label these forms "music" or "noise" and then associate them with our learned judgement and emotion.

Does that mean a truly enlightened being gets joy from noise? How does the Buddha experience art?

Monday December 13, 2004 at 6:49 AM PST

These last few weekends have just seemed too short. I wake up and think it is Sunday. Slowly the reality of Monday morning creeps in and I contemplate how that is possible. I think of all the things I did not get done over the weekend and all the things I need to do at work. And then I try to go back to sleep hoping that it is just a bad dream. If I had a second chance, I could wake up to find it was only Saturday morning. But alas, with my mind so full of list items, sleep will not come. That is how I find myself folding laundry at 6 AM on a Monday morning.

Friday December 10, 2004 at 2:26 PM PST

No wonder I don't write. I live in a house with two people who are identical in this one way. They provide a constant stream of chatter directed at me requiring a response every 3 minutes just to make sure I am not ignoring them. The moment I get the next sentence in my head... blink a question comes to obliterate it.

Albert will actually ask the same question three times in a row. Is he looking for consistency of response? Is he unhappy with the first two identical answers and is hoping the third try will yield better results? He talks constantly about inventions and innovations, ideas of his own or about something he has just read. My ideas, things I read are constantly punctuated by his chatter making my mind fragmented and ... and ... and ...

Aja on the other hand talks about nothing at all, or at least nothing that makes sense to me. She uses a lot of pronouns without ever identifying the noun to which it refers. She jumps in assuming the context is unnecessary, chattering on about the she who did the thing and the she who couldn't keep up. The same she or a different one, who knows. You are left with only the notion that someone couldn't keep up. Unlike Albert, if you ask her for clarification she gets angry, talks even faster with this condescending tone like she is talking to a complete moron. Fortunately, she is much easier to ignore.

They are never in the house at the same time. Thus they take turns distracting and annoying me. They must have a schedule. You take her Friday from noon to 3, then I'll take her the rest of the day.

Tuesday December 7, 2004 at 6:49 AM PST

When Fran was in high school she had to memorize a lot of lines, either for school or for the theater. I must have been about 10 years old. Somehow, as she read the lines out loud, it was I who memorized them. One's mind must be completely open to absorb such things at that age. To this day, for no good reason, I can recite Macbeth from memory. Yet I can't tell you what I ate for lunch.

Monday December 6, 2004 at 6:00 AM PST

I went to Stanford Mall yesterday with Aja. That is where the beautiful people shop... I mean it. The last time I saw so many fit, tanned and coiffured people was... Fira, the capital city of Santorini, 1998. In both cases I rubbed shoulders with the very wealthy, the locals, the tourists, and the foreign nationals. Children dressed in thousand dollar outfits. Amazonian women with bronze skin, gold attire and henna rinses. Men in Armani stepping off the front page of GQ.

There they were standing in front of me in line for a croissant, nudging their way through the crowd to get a better look at Santa. And there I was in my Levi 501s and fleece sweatshirt holding a very large bright pink Victoria Secret shopping bag empty but far a single pair of panties I redeemed for free, feeling... well, like a tourist.

In another lifetime I might have felt inadequate. Granted I did feel a little frumpy. But... I had the best thing in the whole shopping mall. Holding my hand was the most beautiful girl, dressed in light blue knit capris, worn but not tattered, with a light blue net scarf she bought at Longs Drugs for ten bucks. And she exuded the confidence I sometimes lack as she bit into her half of the chocolate croissant. I sat by her side on the cement wall listening to the Christmas carolers, gobbling my half, and smiling, feeling a part of this great pageantry.

At Stanford Mall, the wealthy are the masses. You could be one of them for the price of a Victoria Secret coupon and a croissant.

Sunday December 5, 2004 at 10:08 AM PST

Even locally I am out of step with my government. Single stream recycling, Homer Street tunnel, well perhaps there is some rhyme or reason to it. But to stop collecting demographic data for routine traffic stops by a police force that has already been accused of racial profiling, it outrages and astonishes me. There are none so blind as those who can not see. My dad said that often. I miss my dad.

One reads a lot about blogs these days. Some are devoted to investment or technology. Many are personal or political. Mine is both political and personal because I can not separate the two.

I thank Patty for inspiring me over an alcohol-free turkey fest to pick mine up again. She reminded me that my blog's purpose is to practice writing for 30 minutes a day, to have a daily discipline. I mention "turkey" and "alcohol-free" because I am a vegetarian who does not think she can enjoy a meal without a glass of wine. Perhaps the lacking in the food department makes the conversation stand out all the more. I must thank Patty for both inspiration and providing the setting for me to internalize it.

Sometimes I wonder who, if anyone, reads my blog. Not usually. Today I do because I just read an article that said bloggers know their audience. I don't, and perhaps there isn't any. But every now and then someone at work looks at me with a knowing twinkle in his eye and I think he's read my blog. Occassionally I get a phone call or email from a lost friend or relative who stumbles across my site, and that is usually fun... and a little scary... I wonder what I wrote that might offend them.

If you are reading this, know that today I am curious about you... but not so curious as to ask you to contact me about it. Someday I will solicit comments on my writing style. And I know one is not supposed to start a sentence with "but" or "and". And I realize many of my entries wander from thought to thought, that it is uncomfortable to feel the chaos of human thinking... and I use ellipses instead of more traditional forms of punctuation to denote a pause for analysis and thought. But I am not a real writer; I am a blog writer. When I become a real writer, I will leave behind these immature practices... or I will keep them and have the confidence to claim them as my style.

Saturday December 4, 2004 at 7:13 AM PST

It is very cold in my house this morning. Sixty-six degrees is not cold by most standards. But for me, my fingers feel stiff and my brain works slowly. I look like a praying mantis constantly rubbing my hands together to dispell the chill from my appendages.

I can feel the cold eminating from the wall of glass to my right. It feels the opposite of sitting next to a blazing hearth. I love my home which has been architected to blend the outside landscape with the interior, but at times like this I feel a little too close to nature. I find myself unexpectedly camping.

I think my daughter has inherited this same defect. She is lying on the floor, warmed by the insufficient radiant heating system, in a mound of blankets. She writhes and rolls like a giant drunken slug. The mantis and the slug. Garden insect metaphors result from living with nature.

Friday, October 8, 2004 at 8:40 PM PDT

I realize I have done this twice. I have seen 2-lane back roads become 4-lane boulevards become 6-lane freeways. I've seen wooded areas, open spaces, abandoned places become condo complexes, office buildings, and city parks. Nothing left wild, everything under control, irrigated, well lit, safe. First, when I was a child in suburban New York, up went the houses. Gone went the bunnies. Second when I was a young adult in California. We came in search of opportunity, lifestyle, beauty, and adventure. So did everyone else. We all had to live somewhere, and we all had to work somewhere.

I'm guessing I will do it one more time, perhaps when I retire. I will find some perfect place just moments before everyone else finds it. I can't be angry at them for coming. They want the same thing as I do: beauty, adventure, opportunity, lifestyle. And how would I have felt if they told me I was too late, no more allowed? What if they told my grandparents at Ellis Island to go back; they had enough immigrants in this country?

Amy is working only part time now. She said the mountains are not getting any shorter and the wild places are not getting any wilder.

Friday, October 8, 2004 at 6:25 AM PDT

This is Grace's hour. In the first days of autumn, before we put an end to daylight savings time, I find myself wide awake at 5:30 AM. The house is silent. I light a few candles, make a cup of coffee, and enjoy some uninterrupted thinking. It happens so infrequently it becomes a form of entertainment.

Monday, September 27, 2004 at 8:15 AM PDT

Dirt brown ridges rise from a sea of white cotton batting. That is what California looks like from 20,000 feet on this beautiful autumn day. There is a ribbon of glass, a river, occassionally revealing itself from behind the earthen formations and clouded by lingering fog on the valley floor. Though this commercial aircraft is small, I wish to rid myself of it and soar above this spacious land unencumbered by this heavy metal jacket. Just the thought of soaring makes my otherwise heavy heart mellow and free.

We bank left and I fall into a dream. The plane levels but I do not. I continue down piercing the soft moist clouds. I find darkness below, diffused by soft effervescent streams of sun light falling on the farm lands. Pilot's announcement awakens me to our impending arrival.

Friday, September 10, 2004 at 12:22 PM PDT

pfew. far. few. fang. dogs barking in the back yard. whirrr. fan starts. disk crunches. silence. cold toes. pajamas. thumb on chin staring blankly. today. cursor blinking. cursor still blinking. blog is passe. blue bird bends body to feed. lunch. la. la la la la. tra la la la. bird song. people song. music. sound. sound and fury. signifying nothing.

Friday, September 3, 2004 at 5:57 PM PDT

The Dolly Sisters are holed up together waiting for the big storm. I picture them sitting on the couch, in their floral prints and sensible shoes, watching TV. Glaw-ria will make some pop caw-n. During commercials they will chatter with their loud voices punctuated by their New Yaw-k accents. Then they will shush each other when the show comes back on.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004 at 7:22 PM PDT

She said "no" quietly when no one was listening. She screamed "no" inside her head, and all the nuclei of all the atoms in her brain popped in and out of existance simultaneously. She whispered "no" hoping someone would hear.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004 at 6:38 AM PDT

Sunday at the pool I was watching you. I don't think you noticed. I saw a girl with long legs, muscular and tan, with soft wavy brown hair; and I caught a glimpse of the beautiful woman you will one day become. From behind my book I heard the musical sounds of joyful laughter coming from the child you still are. Eleven. You are officially a pre-teen. You have one foot edging into adulthood and the other firmly planted in childhood. I hope you stay that way and enjoy the best of both worlds forever, no matter how old you are. All my love, Mama.

Sunday, August 8, 2004 at 8:45 AM PDT

The heart has its reasons, which reason knows nothing of. I put that in the "about me" section of my orkut profile. This morning it feels especially true. It's a quote from Pascal... not that I read Pascal. Perhaps I should.

Browsed orkut for a while, mostly looking at other photographers fotoblogs. Satisfying in self-centered way. There are some not-so-great amateurs out there just like me, who every now and then hit upon a decent composition. I am not alone.

Thursday, August 5, 2004 at 8:14 AM PDT

It's midsummer and I already notice the darkness encroaching on my evenings. Does that mean I see the glass half empty?

I had my tarot cards read. What's working for me: I am a student of practical things. What's working against me: bad timing, I am out of rhythm with my own karma. What I know: a good deal about practical things of the earth realm, I am comfortable in my own skin. What I do not know: I am blind to a side of myself perhaps due to depression, shouldn't trust my conclusions because they are drawn from inaccurate perceptions. My future holds clarity of choice, the three of wands. On one side a wand stands alone. On the other side two wands stand together. Do I choose collaboration or individuality? Which will allow my creative and spiritual self to be actualized? The cards say clarity will come, and I will wait for it, eagerly.

Do I believe in this stuff? As much as I believe in anything I can't touch. Why not? The counsel is to be patient and not reactionary. Seems like good advice.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004 at 7:35 AM PDT

This morning my brain is filled with nonsense lyrics: Oh my my, oh my my, can we boogie, can we fly. If at first you tell a lie... try try again?

The Sierra Club wants me at a political rally. Beat Bush. Aja got into Girl Scout Camp. On my honor I will try to duty to help other people at all times and to obey the Girl Scout law. And I will be going to Vajrapani this weekend. Om mani padme hung. Om mani padme hung.

These sounds are distracting yet comforting. Like the voices of children playing in the yard. Soft. Distant. Transporting you in time to the past or back to the present.

Sharp. Distant. How can the wind with so many around me. I feel lost in the city.

Monday, July 26, 2004 at 7:54 AM PDT

I feel so much happier at home now that my family bathroom has been completed. I don't know how to explain it, but when a piece of my house is torn up and under construction, the whole house takes on the aura of an infirmary. I spend my time here running from room to room straightening up trying to make the patient feel better to no avail. The house is wounded.

One bathroom or the other has been under construction for the past 4 years... don't ask. But now both projects have been completed, sort of... don't ask. And my house is once again restored to health and wholeness. Now there is an aura of joy and newness. I can sit and watch a movie without that distraction of having a sick child laboring to breathe in the next room.

All is well.

Sunday, July 25, 2004 at 8:35 AM PDT

Saw the Michael Moore movie last night. Each of his movies seems to be better than the last. At this point in his career, he must have a team of people who help him find the perfect interviewees, film footage, music selections, etc. all according to the tried and true format of a gritty poking fun at those on the other side of his political views. He's not making any converts, but he is giving strength of conviction to those who already share his views. I'm a big fan, but I've got to say, if I ever saw him walking in my direction, I would run the other way!

Better than Bowling for Columbine, it will be interesting to see what the Academy does this year with Farenheit 9/11. They can't ignore it, but it is way too politicized for it to win an Oscar. Of course the elections will be over by then. So my guess is that if the Democrats win, so will the MM flick. If the Republicans win, it will receive only a courtesy nomination.

Wonder what my governor thinks about this movie? Perhaps I should ask him.

Graham Greene The Comedians

"... our hearts go out in sympathy to all who are moved to violence by the suffering of others. The Church condemns violence, but it condemns indifference more harshly. Violence can be the expression of love, indifference never. One is an imperfection of charity, the other the perfection of egoism"

Friday, July 23, 2004 at 1:09 PM PDT

It should not surprise you that I am a Greene fan. We both suffer from an obsession discerning right from wrong, poking around those abundant gray areas. We have a morbid curiosity about Catholic guilt and a fascination with human frailty.

The book The Comedians takes place in Haiti during the Papa Doc regime, a horrible era of political violence and opressive poverty, that still exists today. A "comedian" is a person who fakes it through life, successfully convincing others that she is something other that her true self. The main character calls into question everyone's honesty, admiring the virtuous but not condemning the comedians.

Greene is brilliant at comparing evils, like in the quote above, making right things seem wrong and vice versa. You gotta love him. And you've got to love his made-up characters because of, not in spite of, their flaws and weaknesses.

Saturday, July 17, 2004 at 9:34 AM PDT

Nobody likes me, everybody hates ne, I'm gonna go eat worms.Today is a day for feeling sorry for myself.

I f**k up. I use bad judgement. I say I'm sorry, but that is not enough. I have to promise to not let it happen again. I can try, I mean I can be more attentive and think things through a bit more. But let's face it. Can I really deliver? Consistently and forever? I'm a busy person. I always try to do my best, but there are times and there will continue to be times that I will be distracted and I will use bad judgement. So I say I will do better in the future and I mean I will try, but the offended person detects a bit of insincerity because we both know I cannot deliver consistently and forever.

I feel bad about my imperfection. I feel bad about the effect it has on those whom I love. I want there to be something more I can do to make amends. But the offended person makes it hard for me to motivate myself to self sacrifice by hurting me with their anger, by accusing me of subterfuge, manipulation, and self-righteousness. It is hard to quell my resentment.

These accusations fill me with self-doubt. Do I know myself as well as I think I do?

When I become unsure of who I am, I distance myself from the world, from all people. I become paralyzed. How can one act when unsure of the unintended consequences, unsure of being objective enough to do the right thing? ... the real right thing, not just the perceived right thing that resides in my imperfect mind.

I look in my Buddhist notebook for help, looking for the 4-step process, but I can't find it. I remember 3 of the steps, apology, committment to not repeating the offense, making amends, and... and... and... I can't remember the forth. I have some notion that it has something to do with not beating yourself up about it, but perhaps that is wishful thinking. I can't find any reference to it.

I write in the hope of shaking this depression. I write in the hope I can go outside in the sunshine and melt away the barriers I have erected between myself and the world, for both our protection. I write in the faint hope of resolution.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004 11:00 AM EDT

Remarkable how everyone at Disney World leaves their rented strollers filled with packages unattended while they enjoy themselves on rides and attractions. I remember doing this when my daughter was young and we visited Disneyland in Anaheim. I guess there is little to no theft in the world of magic, and you truly can leave your cares at the door.

It is not just the Magic Kingdom. I think of it often when I go skiing. People leave hundreds of dollars worth of ski equipment sitting outside the lodge when they go in for a snack. It is not that theft is unheard of, it is just rare. Why?

$60 tickets. That is the answer, or it is the only answer I can fathom. If you can afford to ski or visit one of Disney's theme parks, you do not need to steal. But if you believe that, then you must also believe that bad people do not steal, poor people steal. In other words, if we did a better job of distributing resources and eliminating poverty, we could greatly reduce theft and theft-related crime.

Another observation made at Disney World. There are black people in America. This sounds rather stupid, of course there are. But seeing 10 or 20% of the people at Disney World were black, made me realize that I live and work in a community almost void of African Americans. I work in computer software where there are people of color: numerous whites, Asians, and many people from India... very few blacks. I can think of only one or two with whom I've worked in my 17-year history in this industry.

I remember reading an article in the Palo Alto Weekly a few years back. A lawyer living in Palo Alto for over 10 years was moving out. She was tired of being stopped and questioned by police. Here we are, this ultra-liberal community, the number 2 recyclers in the USA, but we can't manage to eradicate racism from our police force. This poor woman, made to feel unwanted, suspect, in her own community. It is shameful.

So for 4 days I was standing in countless lines looking at Americans. The only group that outnumbered the blacks were the very big and very white fat people. Not so many fat people in Northern California. Confirms Albert's reports on the rise of obesity in America. And these people do not get out often. They were scary white, table cloth white, white like if-they-sit-out-in-the-sun-more-than-ten-minutes-they-will-burn white.

There are many Hispanics in Northern California, and many Asians, all little and dark like me. Not so many big white fat people. But they are all over Disney World. I know I am being offensive, but I do not mean to be. I am just expressing my child-like fascination with the physical differences in the people I observed.

I should get out more often. I do not know this country, which explains why I do not understand how and why we have such a lunatic for a president, destroying our country's relationship with the rest of the world, setting us up for global instability and the resulting loss of freedom. He is so un-American I can't stand it. But how can I say that when I really don't know what "American" is? Time for a road trip.

Albert just called me a "monkey maid." What does that mean?

Time magazine, June 28, 2004

"All I'm saying is I did things unilaterally too. But my view is that in an interdependent world most problems do not lend themselves to unilateral solutions, and that if you live in an environment where you don't control the playing field, then sooner or later you have to make a deal. That's what politics is all about. You have to try and create a world where there are more partners and fewer terrorists." - Bill Clinton

Thursday, June 17, 2004 at 7:24 AM PDT

We're having a garage sale this weekend. My living room is filled with junk we no longer want but are hoping others will actually give us money to cart away. It the suburban dream. Sell stuff and make money. Avoid trips to the dump.

The flip side is when running errands on a Saturday, you impulsively stop at a garage sale and find a real deal, or something unique. It inevitably winds up at your garage sale a few years later after having a comfortable life of doing nothing on a garage shelf except perhaps gathering dust.

"What happened to our life that we generate so much trash?" Albert asks. Consumer culture is what I think, but I do not reply. He doesn't expect an answer. Each morning he paces about making these kind of statements, proclamations, sometimes in question form, but they are not really questions.

"It seems the trick to good painting is multiple coats."

Back to avoiding trips to the dump. The dump is a graveyard where people try to burry their failures. Appliances you could not repair or recycle. Bad purchases. Bent bicycle frames, didn't see it lying in the driveway. Seagulls are like vultures swarming around the fresh dead.

I once went to the dump to pick up compost. It's a whole different experience when you have no guilt. Like a treasure hunt... not really. I am unable to be without guilt. I look at all the waste and feel guilty for my species, even if I did not create it myself. And I think about the environment, how it is struggling to be healthy, about the fossil fuels I burn heavily in my sports cars, about the stuff I buy and don't absolutely need.

We're having a garage sale this weekend. Please come and remove our guilt. I will reciprocate someday, after all we are neighbors.

Sunday, June 13, 2004 at 7:58 AM PDT

Poor neglected blog. You are lucky if I write in you once a week. What discipline to write every day. How did I do it?

Aja is out of Fairmeadow Elementary School. Thursday was the promotion ceremony. I cried throughout, I'm such an emotional wimp. All those children that were once kindergarteners... Two of the 5th grade graduate girls look like Women, with a capital W, wearing plunging necklines with the breasts to match. A few of the girls still look like small children in big party dresses, flower prints, with big bows in the back. The boys are more uniform, varying in size and shape, but not physical maturity.

Louis looked so cute in his black suit and blonde curls. He marched in with Christine, who looked beautiful in her exotic brightly colored dress. I cried with each memory of helping these children through science and art, especially when I saw the Jackson Hearing Center children like Christine. Perhaps it is my experience with chronic ear infections, and the temporary loss of hearing they cause, but I have a great deal of respect for these children who are so warm and friendly. Christine strikes up a conversation each time she sees me even though we struggle to communicate.

I will miss it all.

Simultaneously, I am excitedly looking forward to the next step. I am happy with the decision to send Aja to Girls Middle School. It was a joint decision between Albert, Aja, and I. Aja is occassionally apprehensive about missing her friends, and I about the finances. Yet there is no indecision or fear of having made the wrong choice.

Let summer vacation begin!

Saturday, June 5, 2004 at 7:45 AM PDT

I know it's old news, but I still think about the mountain lion. I'm not the only one. I still hear about it in conversation and read related stories about it in the paper. The Cougar Fund is sponsoring programs to educate the Palo Alto public about these beautiful and power creatures. Views on the mountain lion killing are being compared to views on Iraq.

At first glance, this comparison seemed quite a stretch. But after reading the article, I realized the pro-war mentality will never understand why the world is such a mess and how this kind of thinking contributes to peaceless inhumanity. The author sites numerous arguments for why it was wrong to kill the mountain lion, then refutes them with analogies about war in the middle east.

Argument 2 states that it is immoral to kill the animal because it is our own prosperity that created the problem. We intruded our expanding civilization into the wilderness and left the animals no where to go. The author writes, "So what do you expect when unjust Western prosperity establishes a toehold? It causes an inevitable reaction, in the form of terrorism." which he follows by calling that mentality condescending and wrong. I was with the author right up to that point.

We flaunt our riches and exercise cultural imperialism at every opportunity. There are people living in poverty and under tyranny. We support cruel dictators when it is in our own financial interests, then walk in and bully them when it is not. Is everything OK in the name of prosperity and the protection of it? Is it OK to kill the mountain lion?

Supposedly this view is "condescending" because people are expected to be above animals; comparing terrorists to wild animals is just wrong. Why? What is this division between humans and animals? How is protecting our self-interests through war any different from a mountain lion killing a horse for food...or to protect its territory?

I am reminded of my reaction to a news story I heard close to 20 years ago. I was in the car, with Albert I think. We heard that some group of scientists/doctors had successfully saved a baby's life. They had transplanted the heart of a baby orangoutang into the human child who had been born with a malformed organ.

According to the newscaster, this was cause to celebrate. But I could not feel happy or amazed by this technological advancement. Sure I could feel the relief of the parents who otherwise would be mourning the loss of their child. But I couldn't stop myself from thinking about the orangoutangs.

The baby had a mother. The baby orangoutang was not just hit by a car and could not be saved so its heart charitably donated to save the human's life. The baby was as healthy as could be. The mother was certainly mourning the loss of her baby, a cruel murder. Have you ever read Jane Goodall's recounting of a chimpanzee mom who carried around her dead baby for three weeks, inconsolable and depressed?

Who the hell are we to be so arrogant.

I'm reading Wicked. Did you know that the Wicked Witch of the West started out as an Animal rights activsit? And I ask myself once again, am I a good witch or a bad witch?

Friday, May 28, 2004 at 6:58 AM PDT

"It is not going to rain until November" he told me. Ha! I woke at 5:30 to the pitter patter sound of water droplets falling softly on my foam roof. Tap...tap tap.

What will happen to the girl scouts if they get wet? Do they melt or just get soggy? How will they build a fire with wet wood? All these questions and more will be answered this weekend at the Boulder Creek Scout Training camp.

The question that most interests me is what happens to Grace when confronted with a gaggle of uncooperative girls? Does she leave them to the troop leader to deal with and quietly step aside? Or does she get out the big stick?

Tuesday, May 25, 2004 at 7:01 AM PDT

Am I shy? That is what I told Conrad last night to explain my antisocial behavior. But I am not sure shy is the right word. I just do not feel comfortable belonging to a group. I am a misfit. In the context of the 5 rhythms dance class, I am a misfit among misfits.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004 at 6:37 AM PDT

And the days go by...

Today is Colonial Day at Fairmeadow. All the 5th graders dress in costume and pretend to run a small colonial town. They call their teacher "my Queen", polish silver, make candles, and dance a Virginia Reel. "I have to dance with a boy," she said with a whine and a crinkled face. But I don't think she really finds it all that unpleasant.

Saturday, May 15, 2004 at 6:48 AM PDT

I'm crabby in the morning. I'm crabby all day if I don't sleep well at night. Crabby. Crab. Crab.

I didn't sleep well last night, the last few nights. Albert is restless. He stirs. Interesting word stirs, like he's holding a large wooden spoon and using a lot of elbow to move viscus liquid around in a caldron. There is motion and churning. He also thumps. That word has no metaphorical meaning. It's literal, the sound made when a body part falls heavily on the mattress. And the mattress reverberates; the shock waves get more pronounced as they reach my side of the bed.

I crawl out of bed at 6 AM, my body aching all over. My eyes heavy syrup barely holding in their sockets. Crabby. Crabby, but not at all like a crab. I have no shell, no pincers at the end of appendages, I don't walk sideways. I slouch forward barely lifting my feet. I feel heavy, more like a snail or a slug... sluggish. Syrup. Pouring forward.

My mind is slow, syrup, pouring forward. I can have a single thought. I can write it down before the next thought comes. I can sit and drink coffee and move only my fingers on the keyboard. A slug with crab appendages. Warm medicinal liquid moves through my body and into my bloodstream, takes away pain, clears my head. Syrup solidifies. I hold myself erect. I feel better now. I can go back to bed.

Sunday, May 9, 2004 at 9:27 AM PDT

I could buy some sunglasses... wrapped in orange plastic... multicolored, rainbow. Classic... understated.

Someone's bobby pins, a trail of them leading to the restaurant last night, and they made me feel so sad. Small objects of no meaning or value, form an association with a memory, not even a memory, an emotion. And it's visceral. A visceral emotion that exists through time in the ever present now.

Endless food and conversation. "George Bush, blah, blah... More ambrosia? Brad Pitt... did you see Snatch? My brother died suddenly at 53. Indian food. Organic beef. I spent a week with my vegan brother... tried to eat wood for two months, lost weight, felt weak, stopped the diet, and within two weeks my cholesterol was 260. The DaVinci Code. A generation with no identity. Milk is evil. Jimi coughs and both Mitchell and I smile at him and say, "Still eating that ice cream?"

Aja interviews relatives expertly. It's all on wobbly video tape with too much background noise. And when the very best segment presents itself, a crowd walks through the tapping, loud and interrupting, Aja loses interest, and Aunt Gloria is left in tears with only me noticing. I missed it, the videographers opportunity. But I put my arms around my aunt, mentally apologetic for being the catalyst for her tears, without being able to have captured any of their meaning. I simply say, "thank you."

I became the photographer at my own father's funeral. I took the camera to the wake last December, but it never left the car. I knew I wanted to capture those snapshots, but I was completely unable to see any of it through a lens, couldn't muster the detachment or objectivity photography requires. No regrets.

Five months later, my swollen eyes have cleared. I brought the camera, but again was inclined to leave it in the car. Mom had asked me to take pictures. Now Mario asks me again, sincere dog-like eyes, "it would mean so much to mom." I say "maybe". I don't want to be behind the lens. But no one will take the pictures that I need to see, from my view, and no one will capture this for mom. Additionally, I am left with the task of handing out roses, and instructing my husband on how to work a video camera. I felt put out.

I take a picture and put the camera down to witness the event more directly. I look at mom. She is the widow grieving. She is my mother. She is the tearful woman in the black chiffon dress. And I am struggling with my selfishness and my selflessness. Everything is going so fast.

My siblings are seated to the right of mom. I stand on her left. Mario stands in front of us all and reads the prayers. I see the bugler standing off in the distance beside a tree. And the tree looks in motion compared to his stillness. The rifle core also off into the distance is mostly obscured by the coffin and the seven soldiers surrounding it holding edges of a raised flag. I peer at Cleo through the corner of my eye. She is standing with the crowd looking incredibly sad. Some things move me to tears, others I see as though I am not really there, not a participant, only an observer.

They fold the flag. The bugler plays Taps. We put roses on the coffin. I kiss the rose, ask Pop to help Jimmy Dionne graduate high school as Merry requested, and place it alongside those of my siblings. I watch my daughter walk alone to the coffin to place the flower neatly in the place of her choosing. I take her picture, bottom lip sucked into her mouth needing full concentration to settle the rose. I am sad that her mother and father have deserted her, are doing their duty, proud that she looks confident and unperturbed. Mom goes last. I feel her sadness as it radiates past the coffin, me, the other guests who are now walking to their cars.

I give myself a moment's meditation at Papa Jack's grave while the Bedells visit their lost soldier. I need to bring all the splintered fragments back together. Should have asked for help... should have said no... did the right thing. The questions and doubts float away as I stare into the sea of white grave markers, green grass, and blue sky in front of me. I look down, close my eyes, reopen them, and see my father clearly. He is floating in front of the whispering clouds, his eyes blue as the sky. He is smiling joyously, waving his arm at me. He is saying, "Welcome all to my funeral. This was a wonderful party, a splendid ceremony. I'm so happy you all could come. I love you all. Don't be sad. I am happy and I am with you."

Wednesday, May 5, 2004 at 2:10 PM PDT

Can't really say what time zone I am in. I'm in transition, going from here to there. By Friday at 2:00 PM EDT I will be standing in front of my fathers grave, in Arlington Virginia. I'll be looking at all the faces of the people that knew him. Soldiers will fire rifles into the air to salute the metaled WWII veteran. There will be a plaque displaying his bronze star and purple heart. There will be a poster showing moments in his life. We will all throw red roses into the hole where they lower his casket.

This much I know; but the rest is hard to predict. Will we cry? We cried so much already and have moved forward out of our tears. But probably not mom. She feels the pain of her loss acutely. I could tell these past couple of weeks as the funeral approached that she was beginning to sound solemn again. We will be there for a spot in time to support her. Then she will get on a plane to Florida and return alone to her apartment.

Could I have arranged to return with her? Will I live to be old and alone? Do I want to?

Sunday, May 2, 2004 at 4:03 PM PDT

I am in the lab creating a video with Final Cut Pro. I once had a vision of myself as videographer. No more. This work is tedious, which says a lot from me, the person who enjoys moving single pixels in Photoshop to create visual perfection. Perhaps if I could get some lackey to copy the clips from tape to disk, perhaps if the subject was more interesting, perhaps if I had more free time.

It's sunny and hot today and I am stupidly indoors. I should try videography on a cold and cloudy day.

Saturday, May 1, 2004 at 4:16 PM PDT

Her dad died suddenly, hit by a car, like grandma. And I can't find what I wrote about loss, how losing a parent is like losing a piece of yourself. When they are gone, you can no longer see your reflection in the mirror of their eyes. Part of your self-definition resided in their eyes, no matter how you struggled to be free from their influence. And now there is an uncomfortable undefined piece, like a broken mirror with a chunk fallen out.

I can't find what I wrote about this club I never knew existed, the dead father's club. Suddenly you become a member. It's a good club filled with people with whom you can now connect about something you never knew existed: loss. Everyone's history with their father is unique, yet you feel the same-ness when they talk to you, whether they hated their father, loved him dearly, or were ambivalent toward him. Loss. He is gone. Permanently.

Thursday, April 28, 2004 at 7:35 AM PDT

Drew found my neglected website. It was fun to hear from him and about his latest preoccupation, a tattooed physical therapist. I did not say much about my life, assuming he had just read my blog. Everything's here... almost.

Hearing from Drew reminded me that I miss the boys: Nick, Tim, and Jeff. These three young men were in my daily life for three years as work colleagues. I can't say they were friends. But in the heart of my imagination they were good friends, part little brother, part son, and part schoolgirl's infatuation. So bright and clever, willing and able, focussed, productive, and sincere. They are off to make their mark on the world. I am proud and happy for them while simultaneously feeling the empty nest.

I have a vision of them in Oz. Jeff, thin and quick witted, is the scare crow. Nick is the tin man with his warm heart. And Tim, all bark and no bite, is the lovable lion.

Shara could be the wholesome Dorothy and Craig the wizard, quietly working behind the curtain. I ask myself, am I a good witch or a bad witch?

Saturday, March 20, 2004 at 6:33 AM PST

Too many choices...

I think those are lyrics to a Rush song. May be not Rush. I want it to be the theme of today's writing, but it is too big a topic. And I am distracted. I keep hearing the lyrics of a Queen song Aja was singing last night. We are the champions my friend, we'll go on fighting till the end... And I am drawn to the beautiful springtime which is happening right outside my window.

I think I saw the one-legged bird this morning at sunrise. Could he be back after a long winter's journey?

Aja said she saw the shadow of a cat catch the shadow of a bird. She came screaming to me, through the door of the bathroom. By the time I pulled myself together the shadows had dissipated. But this is my life: unending interruptions, drama, beauty, music, and noise inside and outside my head. Now those are lyrics from a Joni Mitchell song.

I can tell. This will be a short attention-span day.

Thursday, March 18, 2004 at 7:24 AM PST

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. I am haunted by a childhood memory. I attended a Catholic elementary school through sixth grade. The school was largely Irish, including the pastor, Monsignor Ryan. The second largest ethnic group was Italian, and there was somewhat of a rivalry between these two groups. I don't know where we got the idea, and I had no knowledge of its meaning, but every year on St Patrick's Day, the Italian girls wore orange headbands with their green uniforms and green knee sox. It was a protest against the Irish domination.

I must have been in my twenties before I read Leon Uris's Trinity. That's when I first discovered what orange meant to an Irish Catholic: hundreds of years of oppression by the British-backed Protestants, hundreds of years of hatred and bloodshed between "the Orange" and the Catholics. Dreadful fighting goes on to this day. I was horrified at my youthful ignorance. Every year I remember my mistake. Every year St. Patrick's Day reminds me of war, ignorance, and how easily religous or ethnic differences are used to separate peoples, sometimes deliberately for a third party's gain. It is a sad day which I have never celebrated.

Sunday, March 14, 2004 at 6:34 AM PST

Fire is magical. I watch the flames lick the brick walls of the wood burning stove, the logs glow from within. I feel the heat, warm on my bare legs, on my face. Albert keeps me company on this final winter morning together at the cabin. He is wrapped in blue blankie, ears plugged with IPod tunes. He hums softly. The fire clicks and pops.

It is that time in the Sierras of seasons' change. Four feet of snow fell two weeks ago, probably the last of the winter storms. All of it has fallen from the trees. Much of it remains on the ground despite summer-like daytime temperatures. I got a sunburn on the bridge of my nose, skiing at Squaw with Umberto and Isabel. Poorly applied sun screen was the culprit.

Lance took us to Emerald Bay yesterday, to the rock outcropping at Vikingholm, to the water falls. It is one of the most spectacular vistas I have ever seen, granite rocks, pine trees, white snow, and rushing water, dropping sharply into Lake Tahoe. Just when I think he has shown me every beautiful place, he surprises me with one more.

Truckee Trattoria is under new ownership. They mess up our reservation: 7 at 6:00 was written as 2 at 7:00. They let us in anyway. Discovering that Isabel is from New England, the owner insists she try his bisque. He uses my name several time in conversation, usually an effective method for making me feel belonging, but not this time; it seemed too forced.

Aja lays her head in my lap. We debate the pronunciation of trattoria. Umberto claims the accent is on the second syllable, tratTORia. But I explain the wait staff pronounce it with the accent on the first syllable, TRATtoria. However you pronounce it, the restaurant's food is delicious. Three orders of spinach sauteed with pine nuts, two orders of Brie with roasted garlic, one order of pears on a bed of greens for starters. I had linguine with pesto and goat cheese. Albert and Lance had the mushroom and eggplant stuffed ravioli. Albert's had the wine-glace sauce. But Lance opted for a marinara, not wanting the glace made with juice of dead baby cow.

I ended the day with a walk around the block, reviewing the names of the constellations with Jaxon and Lance, wondering about the bright planet nearing the western horizon. Could it be Venus? Wish Umberto had joined us; he would know. Mars is overhead with it's telltale redish glint, sitting right between Orion and Casiopia. The Big Dipper is upside down this time of year, pouring stars onto the horizon. A moonless night in the Sierras, perfect for stargazing. I'm so happy I did not miss it.

What's on the agenda for today? More skiing, diner at the cabin, then a long drive home.

Tuesday, March 9, 2004 at 6:55 AM PST

We danced winter into spring last night, the first warm evening of the not-so-new year. Official spring is still 10 days away. Everything, including the weather, wants to quickly put this winter behind us. Good bye to anomie and corporate lay offs of last week. Good bye to the searing pain of torn ligaments in Albert's shoulder. Good bye to my mother's sadness and loss.

Hello to gardening. I filled two trash bins up with yard trimmings on Sunday. And I have the scrapes and splinters to prove it. Hello to the bright yellow feathers on the mating season's American Goldfinches who frequent my feeder in abundance. Hello to the small buds appearing at the tips of branches everywhere, to the delicate, small, white flowers on the ornamental plum trees so common in Mountain View. Hello to the energized me, the woman Shankar called "the goddess of spring" last night.

Friday, February 27, 2004 at 9:50 AM PST

"If only if only the woodpecker sighs. The bark on the trees is as soft as the skies. The wolf waits below hungry and lonely; he cries to the moon if only if only."

Laptop on my lap. IPod plays the song from Holes on the car stereo. I'm riding shotgun in the "yuppie ski chariot" as Jimmy Dionne calls all SUVs. This one is headed to the mountains for a weekend of sliding downhill on white wet cold fluffy stuff.

You ever look down at skiers while sitting high in the chair lift, and wonder. If I were a creature from another planet, and I looked down on this scene, what would I make of it? Would I recognize it as sport? It looks a bit like factory work, or a like religous ritual. Nick Park captures this odd fascination in his 2nd animation of the Wallace and Grommet series. Little machine on the moon finds a ski magazine and does not rest until he can partake in this strange form of entertainment.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004 at 8:17 PM PST

Tears for the first time today in a long time, but not the tears of sadness. Last night I was so angry. I danced angry. I threw karate moves into my dance. I felt apologetic yet grateful to my few brave dance partners. And I was warmed by smiles I didn't deserve. I have never enjoyed chaos so much.

They were not tears of anger, but perhaps tears of excess emotion. What is that feeling you get when you are almost hit by a car, but you are not, you are safe? You are no longer in danger. But in the moment of danger you did not have time to feel anything. Now the danger is over and you feel everything at once: fear, relief, anger, joy, frustration, elation. Is there a word for that?

I type but really I listen to the sound of my daughter's voice. She grounds me. I need this or I will simply disappear.

Thursday, February 19, 2004 at 6:35 PM PST

"Will you marry me?" he asked. But the question was in writing, so it required no immediate reply. She did not know her answer and wore the ring anyway, never one to know or follow tradition.

There is a city I know only in my dreams. I've been there several times. It's by a large calm body of water. It has few tall buildings, and nothing that distinguishes its skyline, unless you consider one ugly large black block-of-a-building near the bridge distinguishing.

The water is to the east of the city and is so large, you can not see to the other side. A rusty old freeway runs through the city's center and finally disappears over the bridge. To the north of the freeway is the dirty and dangerous part of town. It's also where all the fun is.

Last night I visited the Asian floating market, north of the bridge. A ghost from the mansion took me there. He had to get to the launch point for the island before the last boat left. I wandered through the market in my simple wooden gondola, taking in all the sights and sounds. It was beautiful, clean. The water was surprisingly clear. The chatter of the merchants sounded like birdsong.

I asked Merry, "Have you ever been here before?" She said "Yes, of course, only last week." She had come with her brothers, my feelings a little hurt because she had not even told me she was in town.

It wasn't a question of love or longing to be with him. She was fearful of change.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004 at 8:41 PM PST

I am my father,

thick wavy hair,
tan and muscular,
so vain.

Raw emotion
pulses through our blood,
our heart.

We struggle to
contain ourselves

Sneak into the sun
just for an hour

We can succeed
make ourselves gracious
to you.

Sometimes we fail,
angry and selfish,

"Do everything
in moderation
in time."

I hope for his end,

end to self-doubt;
appreciate those
I love.

Thursday, February 5, 2004 at 10:19 PM EST (South Florida)

Florida, the wind blows warm at night. The air moist holding the sea. There is a full moon behind the clouds that arrived today after several blue-sky days. Is it a full moon everywhere on earth tonight?

I lunched with the dolly sisters. They go dutch. The waitress asked if everything was OK. Mom said the croutons in her salad were not good. The waitress looked at her with disbelief and excused herself without comment.

I sat on the life guard platform in Delray, wearing my flame cap and Cirque d'Soleil shirt. The ocean's beauty filled my senses, the palm trees bent by the off-shore breeze. I talked half-way around the world to the darkness.

Indoors there is only a blaring TV, an empty chair, a back ache. Tomorrow I leave. I will miss her.

Wednesday, February 4, 2004 at 9:23 AM EST (South Florida)

Lance gave me a book, a rabbi's reflection on experiencing loss. The basic premise is that loss is change and change is good. Change makes us grow. It takes intellect to understand that point of view.

The animal in all of us knows change is bad, it signals danger. The human animal in particular is well adapted to react to change. We are particularly poor performers when it comes to monitoring a steady state, but when we do notice change we react with a sharp mind. And our instinct is to return everything to the steady state, bring the airplane back up to 18,000 feet, get back into our lane and return to cruising speed.

Loss is when it is not possible to return to that steady state. We actually have to adapt, change, not just react. Animals don't like this. My dog used to sleep in the yard at the old house, lounge in the dog house, and she lived there for only four years. Even though she lived at the new house for thirteen years, she constantly patrolled the yard, never slept in the open, never relaxed in the dog house. This is an example of loss and adaptation. But it is harder to identify growth.

Nevertheless the rabbi is right. The death of my father is certain to make my mother grow. She will live alone for the first time in her life and will learn how to live with loneliness, how to cook for one. This growth feels more like a tumor than a useful limb.

Excuse me for being skeptical of the rabbi's proclamation. We experience growing pains, and not all growth is good. But some growth is good. For many women, the death of their husbands issues in a new era of their life where for the first time they experience freedom and independence. But my mom already was free. She has little to gain. I suppose she has more time to devote to her own health and well being, which at 85 is useful. But this is really stretching to find that silver lining.

Perhaps I should read the rest of the book.

Monday, January 26, 2004 at 6:39 AM PST

Weekend is over. I'm too exhausted for this to be Monday morning. No rest in sight.

Friday, January 23, 2004 at 8:05 AM PST

My girlfriend had her female organs removed to save her life. They removed her ovaries, her fallopian tubes, and perhaps her uterus. I didn't ask for details. She says she feels like a pumpkin, or those hollow chocolate bunnies you get at Easter.

She had similar problems 10 years ago, and the doctors told her it was highly unlikely she would ever bear children. She suffered this sadness well considering... it's awkward to morn a loss for something you never had. And you can't put it behind you when it affects things in the present; how close or distant should you stay from a man who knows he wants children?

Medicating herself will now become part of her daily life. This is a big deal to her, for which I should have shown greater sympathy. I have been on asthma medication since I was nineteen, in and out of doctor's offices since I was eleven. I think I've been pricked with blood-thirsty needles so often it seems like I have lived in an Amazon swamp. I know that after a while you simply get used to it. But she doesn't know that yet, being so healthy most of her life.

Then I see the error in my reasoning. I feel my own self-pity for the loss of clear vision. This is something I moan about internally several times each day. It has been a year and I am still not used to it. I don't think I will ever take this loss lightly; I am reminded of it so often. Yet there are those who have always seen the world through a blur, like the view from my shower door when the water runs down the glass. They reach for their spectacles before they even get out of bed.

Perhaps children bear loss better than adults. Once you've reach some age of maturity, you have a solid vision of who you are, expectations about what you have and don't have, will and won't have. For children, self-identity is a giant clothes locker where you try things on and pull them off. See what fits, what colors suit you. You look at your reflection in the mirror of your parents' eyes, your siblings, teachers and friends. You shape your style accordingly. You change style every year.

Eventually you settle on who you are. Grace is an unhealthy person with excellent vision. As long as nothing challenges that belief, I feel OK. Oddly enough the same is true for things you don't have but expect to have one day. Grace is a person who will one day travel the world. If I don't travel the world I will feel a loss. Oddly enough you can feel mournful over things you never had. It feels pretty much the same as something you had but lost.

Lance tried to explain this to me the other day. I am slow to understand it.

She lost body parts, but she morns for something less tangible. Perhaps she feels loss for something she never really had.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004 at 10:42 PM PST

Got a digital camera for my birthday. Got the Canon Rebel, the first digital SLR for under 1000 bucks. It's a lot lighter weight than the other digital SLRs. 6 mega-pixel. Mechanical shutter, thus no processing delay. Has a fully manual mode. It met my basic requirements.

I shot a couple of hundred photos within a week or two. Then I felt like I had to hand process each one, you know, crop and zoom, adjust the contrast and color. It was fun to play with the digital images, but also a burden.

I picked out about a hundred and fifty and had Ofoto make some prints. I like paper. It was not good enough to have them in electronic form.

I don't think they are nearly as good quality prints as I get with my film camera, and I'm trying to figure out why. Perhaps I pushed the camera harder, tried shots in very low light. Or I got sloppy with my technique because I can preview and delete. But no, the real problem is that they are not crisp, not really in focus. Is something wrong with the auto-focus? Or is it the lower resolution than film that makes the photos appear a little less sharp and clear?

Next time I will try the highest resolution in raw format, although I think each photo in this format is probably 20 MB. I'll chew through my gigabite memory card pretty quickly.

These are the problems of change. I'm not very good with change. I'm not technology shy, and I love a good adventure. But change...the everyday rhythm disturbed...permanently. That I do not take lightly.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004 at 6:27 AM PST

In response to p.s. Hope you're doing okay. I let out a bad-news rant that goes like this:

  • My dad is dead. My mom is alone.
  • My dearest oldest friend was in the hospital last week for emergency surgery and I can't reach her on the phone.
  • The contractors came in over the weekend and put up the cement base for the bathroom tile without first getting an inspection; they used staples instead of nails to hang the chicken wire.
  • Albert was up all night with worry.
  • Albert is no fun to be around when he is worried.
  • An Intuit security guard in her security truck opened the truck door into my Mustang and put a 6-inch dent in the driver's side door and broke the handle.
  • While my car is being repaired I'm driving some silver sedan that is no fun at all.
  • Jeff is leaving Intuit...California. He won't be joining my ski cabin next year.
  • Tim and Nick are leaving the Salsa team too.
  • There will be two UI designers and only one UI engineer, and he lives in Japan.
  • The team has changed. My job has changed.
  • Usability was thrown together at the last minute. The product...core features did not seem all that usable.
  • Did I mention that Jeff is leaving?

  • OK, I'm repeating myself. May be it is time to stop.

  • At times it seems humorous. It could be worse. It could have been my Camaro.

It feels good to let it out, better than keeping it in. But it feels rather selfish to expose others to my pain. Here's to hoping they understand...here's to being grateful to have people in my life that do understand.

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 at 6:22 AM PST

I should write a book based on my father's life. He had more drama in his life than most fictional characters. He grew up in lower Manhattan, a child of Italian immigrants. There were colorful characters in his life named Bubbles, Rocco, and Joe Bush. There were stories of prize-fighters, the mob, gambling, and murder.

Dad was pulled out of college to help run the family business. He had been studying Latin, a true romantic. He moonlighted as a singer in a night club, had the stage name Timmy Joyce. At the time, it was better to be Irish.

He went to war in Germany. The highest ranking non-commissioned officer, he lead his troop into battle. He was injured and captured and marched all over Europe. This nightmarish chapter in his life was one he did not talk much about. Those who knew him before and after remark how it had changed him.

He returned home to marry the woman who carried a torch for him for many years, wrote to him every week. At one point, not hearing a reply, she had written a Dear John letter to Dad that he never received, thank goodness. He tells the story that our mother dragged him up the aile as he sang out "I don't vant to git married" which made us giggle as kids. We all knew he would be lost without her.

Five children, a series of success and failures, family crises, a heart attack, and retirement led him to the eighth decade of his life. It was not an easy life, but he lived long enough to come to terms with it, to bury all his siblings, his regrets, anger and self doubts, and to warmly express love and appreciation to his family.

Aja said a Buddhist prayer to Papa at his wake. It ends in "May Papa be free to seek enlightenment like the Buddha" but she interrupted herself before she finished and said "Papa already is enlightened" and I think she may be right. He lived long enough to find a place of peace, love, compassion, and inner happiness.

In the last decade of his life, my father often said "I give you my legacy, long life." And I would roll my eyes at the rooster strutting. But now I think that may be there is more to it.

Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 8:23 AM EST

Letter to the Ones that I Love --

I am heartly sorry for having offended thee. I hope God-if-there-is-a-god does not mind if I borrow these words. Having said them many times as a child, I find more meaning in them today. It's the word heart that captures me now and gives truth to the worn out phrase.

I will try to be more patient with you, less selfish. I will try to not let my anger distort reason. I hope for less anger and more compassion, to let love reign over jealousy and righteous indignation.

Like me, you struggle with life between moments of joy. I want to be with you in those moments to celebrate the occasion, beauty, passion, pride, laughter, wine, and chocolate. I also want to support and not contribute to your struggles, help you find a way, provide comfort in affection, listen with an open heart.

I love you.        -Grace

Sunday, December 28, 2003 at 8:50 AM EST

My dad died yesterday. ...

It is hard to know what to say, where to begin. Fran is here with me and wants to talk. But it is hard to talk without crying, and we are so tired of crying. Our eyes ache. They are swollen to thrice their usual size...we are a sight of sore eyes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003 at 7:01 AM PST

I remember dancing as a child. At eight years old, I'd crank the radio and dance with my reflection in the full length mirror next to my bedroom door. I would grab the stick I kept on top of the mirror, the one with the aluminum foil ball attached to one end. This was my cane when I was Fred Astaire. This was my microphone when I belt out show tunes. I was Maria in "West Side Story" feeling pretty. I was the scarecrow in "The Wizard of Oz" wishing for a brain. I danced with abandon.

I went to my first public dance when I was in eighth grade. It was at Saint Mary's, and I danced the only way I knew how. The next day at school, rumors flew that Grace was wasted at the dance, high or drunk. Perhaps I was high on the freedom I feel when I dance, but not on a more tangible substance. Needless to say I did not dance so freely in public again.

When I finished school and moved to California, I took a very stressful job. I worked very hard, many hours a week. When I arrived home each Friday evening, I'd turn on the stereo and blast the frenetic sound of the Police, Syhnchronicity or Canary in a Coal Mine. I'd open a beer and dance with my reflection in the sliding glass doors. I'd dance long and hard, feeling the pain rain out through the pores in my skin and evaporate into the air. I danced until my body was heavy with exhaustion and my spirit was light as a feather.

I did the karate dance for 10 years, not usually thought of as a dance, especially by the more macho students at the dojo. I performed choreographed movements, with intensity, to exhaustion. It felt like dance, sparring like dancing with a partner.

When my daughter was born, I discovered a new joy and a new loneliness. Sometimes I felt weighted down by the constant vigilance needed to care for an infant. Sometimes it was difficult to get out of the house.

On sunny afternoons when my spirits were up, I'd turn on the tunes, hold my baby in my arms, and dance. I'd twirl and she'd smile. I'd dip her upside down and she'd giggle. I delighted in her laughter. When she grew old enough to stand on two feet, she danced beside me. I'd spin her, left and then right, around and around. "Don't stop, mama." With the dance came all the good familiar feelings of freedom and lightness. Sharing this with my daughter created a bond between us, incorporeal yet iron-clad, that we have to this day.

Then, about 5 years ago, a darkness entered my life. I cried. I cried almost every night until I ran out of tears. I felt trapped in an unsolvable maze, running through the halls only to find myself back where I started. With wonderful, loving people in my life, a serene home, a stable and interesting job, how could happiness elude me?

About 8 months ago, I realized that I had stopped dancing, just a passing observation. I was building my courage to climb out of depression. I was in desperate need for a way to clear my mind.

In August, Teressa saw me dancing by the stupa at Vajrapani. She suggested I check out the 5 Rhythms. Funny how opportunities often present themselves just at the right time. That first night she gave me little instruction. She told me I could be free and safe, that it was OK to explore my body movement with someone else and equally OK to dance alone.

Most of the time I dance alone. I need this precious time to be alone with myself. I look down below eye level and enjoy seeing the movement around me without focusing outside myself. I feel supported by the group, allowed to be alone but not lonely. I dance my heart. I lighten my spirit. And occasionally I touch my soul.

Lori gives us in-class assignments. I confessed my dark side to a stranger. "I am angry and selfish" I said. He told me he was tired of not feeling love. On another occasion I got to look into the warmest, most beautiful big brown eyes, twice in the same night. I've felt the goodness of other's charity. I've felt the goodness of my own charity, and I an grateful to have been able to offer my kindness and attention to some very appreciative souls.

It was my birthday last week, thus I was subject to an Angel Wash. Not sure I wanted this experience, but not willing to let the opportunity pass, I stepped to the center of the circle and agreed to allow 50 sweaty almost-strangers touch me. I closed my eyes and discovered why it is called angel wash. It felt like I was surrounded by a group of angels, white and glowing. They were brushing me with the tips of their white feather wings. They were speaking to each other in their own silent language, discussing me while working to fix what was broken, to heal all wounds, to meet all needs, to give me a touch of magic to carry forward into the next year of my life. This was an extraordinarily beautiful experience.

That first night I did dance with a stranger. It is a dance I will remember for the rest of my life. The sincerity and skill of this dance partner, the music, and the magic of the dance, transformed my state to one of trust and openness. My partner lifted me through the air with such ease; I closed my eyes and felt like I was flying through the heavens. Even now when I think about it, I don't know how I got in such a state of trust to allow such a thing to happen.

I've been dancing with this tribe for 3 months. I still don't know much about the 5 Rhythms. I think I can name only two of them. I never bothered to read the website or to ask about the basics. But I think it doesn't really matter. I think perhaps I'm absorbing it, using my feelings to learn instead of my intellect. What really matters is that I'm dancing, and I hope I never stop.

Friday, December 12, 2003 at 5:26 PM PST

Happy Birthday to me.

Tim Philip asks, "Were you cool in high school?" I thought I was cool in high school, but no one else did. Amy says if you thought you were cool, you weren't, by definition.

I was the first girl in my high school to take auto shop. The guys in the class definitely did not think it was cool. Mr T, the shop teacher thought it was cool, but he was basically a nerd.

As a senior, I dated a sophomore boy from the government housing projects. Most people did not think this was cool, especially one very good friend who repeatedly told me how un-cool this was. But he was way cute, really sweet, and we were in love. So while breaking gender, class, and age barriers was considered cool at the time, you were really only supposed to talk about it and not really do it. Doing it was not cool.

Monday, December 8, 2003 at 7:15 AM PST

The holiday season is officially here. If you are one kind of person, you are filled with excitement and joy. You have most of your Christmas shopping done. You've bought your tree and are eagerly looking forward to decorating it. But if you are the other type of person, you are wondering how you will get it all done in the next 17 days. You are filled with anxiety. You are hoping if you can only find the time to make a list, if you decide not to make cookies or send cards, if you can think of that one store, Frys perhaps, that will meet all of your shopping needs, you just might pull it off.

If you are emotionally unstable like me, then you vacillate between these two types fairly regularly. Fortunately these past few days I have felt more like the first person described. And I was happy all weekend. The fact that I had five parties to go to did not stress me out. I even got some holiday shopping done and sent out my first Christmas card.

How long will this joy last? Don't know. All this happiness was at the expense of not studying for my final exam which I have to take tomorrow morning. I have soup for 10 to make for Thursday's lunch club, hundreds of cookies to make on the weekend, and 3 more parties to go. I have to get the rest of the months work done in two weeks, and I'm sure I'm forgetting something important.

Even having said all that, I still feel fine... it's going to be a very merry Christmas, this year :-)

Friday, November 28, 2003 at 7:26 AM PST

When the rainy season begins in Northern California, industrious ants who have spent the last 6 months building palaces under the ground arrive at a rude awakening. They forgot to build a roof. Their homes flood. They seek shelter... generally in your kitchen or bathroom.

These are relatively small ants, perhaps a centimeter long. They are fast and strong. Eventually you will find one on you. Eventually one of them will bite. That's when their cousins arrive, the false ants.

Have you ever seen a false ant? If you have, then it was not a false ant! True ants exist. False ants don't, simple as that. But you swear they do as you distinctly feel one crawling on your neck or in a less accessible spot like up your leg. False ants feel more like real ants than true ants do. Where do they come from? Perhaps from another dimension in space and time. But as real as they seem, they are not here now.

Aja coined the term "false ants". Sometimes it takes a kid to come up with a really good name for things.

Saturday, November 22, 2003 at 10:08 AM PST

I miss my blog! How am I ever going to get in the habit of writing again? And so much has passed I'll never catch up. Like a hole in a sweater, best I can do is to stop the run. May be I can take a moment now to cover those events, thoughts, and conclusions that remain on my mind, like Jaxon and brother Albert's discovery of my blog, false ants, and Carlos Santana.

Let's start with Carlos because he is playing on my stereo as I type. Is there someone who moves you, literally? Santana moves me, I can't stay still, I want to dance. How does he create a sound, a symphony of sound and rhythm that can capture me physically? The ear bone's connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone is connected to the hip bone...

Albert also finds this is true. But he does not want to dance. His fingers start to move, to pick out Santana's infamous guitar licks. Beautiful melody mixed with excellent Latin percussion. It does not just move me physically but emotionally too. When I think about it I start to cry. In my top 10 desert island albums, the only one I am sure of is Santana's Abraxis.

I knew it. Out of time already. And I've yet to write about Aja's impending adolescence, the Girls Middle School, or what I should be at the costume ball.

On Tuesday, November 4, 2003 Aja said,

"The best place to go when you're lost in thought is back home."

Friday, October 31, 2003 10:57 AM PST

I'm up at 5 AM, and I wander into Aja's room to check on her. Don't ask me what I'm checking for, I guess to see if she is still alive, a habit from her infancy when crib death was a fear, a habit I never grew out of. I reach to touch her head, and a wide awake girl opens her eyes and says, "hello mommy" in a wide awake voice. I climb in bed to cuddle with her. She confides she is so excited about Halloween she can't sleep.

Probably the rain woke her. It was loud on the foam roof. The first rain of the season, it had not rained since April or May. I am happy and sad all at once. I can't explain my emotions.

A baby step toward understanding nothingness. I am angry that the rain could not hold off one more day so my daughter can have a rain-free Halloween. I am joyful that the rain did not phase my daughter, not in the slightest. In Southern California they are rejoicing at the change of weather, the rain and colder climate finally allowing them to get the wildfires under control. But what is rain? Simply water that falls from the sky. Not even that. It's shapes and textures, colors. It has properties we learned to call wetness. And we labeled it rain so we can communicate to others about it. But in and of itself, it is nothing.

I saw the aftermath of a car accident on the San Antonio Road overpass. I'm annoyed, may be even angry. One guy has his airbag exploded and looks dazed, perhaps semiconscious. The other guy, dressed in military fatigues, obviously uninjured, leaves his car in the middle of the road causing a traffic hazard. I call 911 on my cell phone and am put on hold. Why can't Californians drive in the rain? How could an emergency service put me on hold? Why can't that guy pull his car off the road so that traffic can pass? Who elected George Bush and why are wasting millions of dollars on war when there are so many people starving and dying? Once you start thinking about how stupid people are, it's a slippery slope.

I am watching my anger develop. But when I am mindful, I can't take it too seriously. And without really trying, it just disappears. And I enjoy my workout at the gym.

Saturday, October 25, 2003 1:08 PM PDT

Are you wondering why I haven't blogged? Did you think that having Arnie elected had left me speechless? If so, you are only partly correct. The larger reason is that an advanced html class has taken all my spare computer time and will continue to do so until Christmas. In fact, next week's assignment is to create a blog using Radio UserLand software. I've already created mine.

The class is OK, definitely worth doing. But I have the same complaint at the college level that I have with my daughter's 5th grade. Teachers assign busy work, like we are not busy enough! Like we don't have our own interests to pursue! This work does not facilitate learning, but it probably looks good to some curriculum planning board.

Now that I'm finally sitting here, let me think. What did you miss? My brother's birthday. When I say "my brother", I always mean my brother Albert. If I want to refer to my other brother, I just say "Mario". Why does the youngest in my family get such special treatment? Because I married a man with the same name.

The confusion does not end there. It just so happens that my husband Albert and my brother Mario share the same birthday, July 29. My husband Albert and my brother Albert share the same birth year, 1957. But for some reason, when it is my brother-in-law Lance's birthday, my mother sends my husband Albert a birthday card. Son Albert and son-in-law Lance have birthdays that are just a few days apart. Perhaps mom combines Albert with son-in-law, and sends her son-in-law Albert a card, like killing two birds with one stone. Now my brother-in-law Lance should not be confused with Lance, my dearest friend. Thank goodness I am the only Grace...except for my aunt, grandmother, and several cousins.

Ah, you can tell I have not been writing. I get prone to self-titillating silliness.

The Chicago Cubs and the Boston Red Sox almost played each other in the World Series. But you know that, unless you have been living under a rock. I'm not usually interested in baseball, not even the World Series. But the Cubs and the Sox. Who wouldn't be interested? Tonight the Yanks either give it up to the Marlins, or we go to an exciting game seven. Obviously I'm hoping for the later.

I feel obliged to root for New York. But I'm pretty tired of their dynasty. May be that means I'm officially Californian.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003 6:57 AM PDT

Once upon a time, there was a lonely planet. He was so bored of going round and round. Look at the sun. Look at the moon. Look at the sun. Look at the moon. Day in and day out. Sure, there were seasons, but they just changed his view ever so slightly. After millions of years seasons were no longer interesting. Other planets and stars surrounded him, but he was too far away to be able to talk to them, get to know them, exchange ideas, understand their feelings. He wanted a change. He wanted to explore.

One evening, this sad planet could see a beautiful comet approaching. She sparkled, and her long firey tail said "hey, I'm fast". What a thrill to be so fast, he thought. He imagined what it would be like to be so free and so beautiful.

The comet's name was Bella. Bella was not as old as the planet. She was not bored with all the zooming around. She enjoyed meeting all the objects in the universe. She delivered news from far away places, and every thing was happy to see her and hear her stories. She told herself she was happy. She told herself she was lucky and special. But inside there was a growing weariness and a desire to belong somewhere.

As Bella approached Fred, she saw the beautiful browns, purples, and greens on his surface. She noticed the curved line and the shadow side, illusions created by the sun's light. Fred was a handsome and healthy planet. She called to him as she approached and they made their introductions. She told of supernovas witnessed, black holes and portals to other galaxies. He listened with wonder and seemed to glow from inside as his imagination ignited.

Bella thought Fred intelligent and beautiful, secure in his very own spot in the universe. And for a moment she wished she were him. At that very same moment, Fred was spellbound by Bella's tales and he so wished he could be her. They sensed this symmetry and made it so.

Fred found himself whirling off into space and Bella felt the comfort of a prescribed orbit. They waved goodbye with smiles on their faces. Fred was not nervous at all, as he imagined he would be. He opened his eyes wide and took everything in. Stars and planets called to him. He told them his incredible tale, of how he used to be a planet, and they all listened enraptured.

Before him, Fred could see the portal to the anti-world. It was just as Bella described, even made that whirring sound. Dare he enter? How could he not! In he went, sucked and spiraling down like water in a drain. He popped out in a universe that was the exact opposite of the one from which he came. Like going back through time he experienced the same events but in reverse order.

Eventually all this flying around became tiresome. Fred began to think about home, his sun and his moon. He wondered if Bella was appreciating the beautiful view in autumn when the largest planet in his solar system aligned with the sun and created a halo of light. Fred longed for home.

Bella could see Fred approaching light years away. She was quite content in her orbit, felt kinship with her sun and her moon, though she was too far away to really talk to them. She so enjoyed the seasons and awaited each one with cheerful anticipation, even though she had seen them a million times before. She felt happy. But deep inside there was a quiet agitation developing from being so sedentary. And as Fred approached, she reflected on the joys her old comet life had brought.

Fred approached Bella with the giddiness of a child at a carnival. He was so home sick, it actually felt like a magnetic field was drawing him to her. Suddenly he felt paralyzed with sadness as he realized he would fly by, have only a moment for conversation, and then he'd be gone. It was not his home any more. It belonged to Bella.

He wished with all his might, so hard that the liquid remaining on his surface began to rise up into great tidal waves. "I want to go home." And at that exact same moment, Bella wished she could once again be free to roam. Before they could even greet one another, they once again switched places with glee. This time they did not even have to talk. They knew what each other felt. They had lived each other's life and felt a great closeness, love for one another. While they longer to spend eternity together, Bella flew off as comets do.

Longing for each other's company remained, but also the knowledge that each had a great adventure and forever will be deeply connected, loved and in love with one other thing.

That is how I ended the bedtime story.

Aja complained that Bella and Fred would never see each other again. So I revised the ending, added a short epilogue where Bella returns, the magic of their love creating a magnetic attraction so fierce that it held Bella in place. I felt like a Hollywood writer, forced to compromise my art to please the audience sensibilities. But if not for the audience, there would be no story. so I did so with pleasure, grateful for my child and her happiness.

the end

Monday, October 13, 2003 7:12 AM PDT

So many reasons to write, so many reasons not to write.

I'm embarrassed to say I find myself back in the hole. It's not so bad this time because I know the way out. This time I am not scared, confused, or trapped. Just a little discouraged. And though the air of freedom and happiness is not so good down here, it is a comfortable rut in many ways.

Does this sound like a good dose of rationalization my friend? You ever know what you need to do but just don't want to do it?

Tonight I will dance. It will free my spirit, loosen my mind. But first root canal, perhaps a forgotten date, and work.

Friday, October 10, 2003 7:37 AM PDT

The goldfinches have disappeared from the feeder as abruptly as they appeared. I miss them. They kept me company in the early morning hours with their pretty colors and soft peeping sounds.

It is dark. Soon we will go back to standard time and the mornings will be filled with light, robbed from the end of the day. I much prefer dark mornings to dark evenings. One year they decided to stay on daylight savings time for an extra month or two, maybe it was during one of our many energy crises. It made me realize how artificial time is, how obsessive we are as a species to want to measure it, track it, display it on the walls, wear it on our wrists, control it. We want the wrist watch with the second hand so we can measure down to the second, like we really need to know exactly how much time there is in 42 seconds.

I stopped wearing a watch long ago. Got rid of the radio alarm clock when I got a dog. She was just as accurate, and I preferred to be wakened by a lick on the face then a blaring sound. To be honest I was often awakened by a vibration on the bed, the scratching of fleas. But she taught me to wake myself just before sunrise, and I still do.

Wednesday, October 8, 2003 1:09 PM PDT

Agh! Arnold Schwartznegger will be my state's governor! I don't know what else to say. I'm dumbfounded.

Tuesday, October 7, 2003 9:11 AM EDT

Again with the early morning weed whacking beneath my window, followed by mowers, blowers and who-know'rs. I will be happy to leave the noise behind. Everything else I will miss.

I'm ready to go, drive Aja and I to the airport in my rocket ship rental car with the blue and red circular illuminations on the dash. A VW Jetta; it's a nice car, zippy with great breaking and a tight steering radius. But in the world of cars, it's an enjoyable one night stand.

Goodbye beautiful beaches, perfect weather. It was warm enough that I actually went in the water. Yesterday I rode the waves of the Atlantic, built a sand castle, got wet and sandy. The day before I shot a roll of underwater photos of Aja in the aqua waters of Nana's heated pool. I wore short skirts and halter tops, summer clothes, stayed in a bathing suit all day, wore no sweater at night. I have been blanketed in warm moisture, felt welcomed by the air. California weather is more beautiful, but Florida weather is more enjoyable.

Now it is time to leave. Last night my daughter got cranky, Nana needed my attention, PopPop kept interrupting her, and Albert wanted to talk on the phone, all at once. Goodbye to the stress of keeping everyone happy. Today I sit on a plane, just Aja and I, books and a computer. I'm looking forward to simplicity.

Later that day, 7:31 PM PDT

What a short but wonderful visit. I had a great time. For three days I was the Buddha, serene, patient, enjoying everything about everyone, everywhere. Then it turned on a dime, 6:02 Monday night. Mom called me on the cell phone, worried because Aja and I went to run an errand and seemed to be away longer than she had expected. We got home and Dad kept asking mom every two minutes "Let's put on Days" to mom's unwaivering reply "Not yet honey, later." I try desperately to finish my html homework, but get frustrated by the constant interruption, Dad asking what I'm doing, Aja wanting to read to me. For three days these exact same things filled me with joy. How sweet my mom was worried, how cute the repetitive dialog between mom and dad, how nice my parents take an interest in me and my activities. 72 hours. I'm getting better. Next year I'll go for 96.

Monday, October 6, 2003 8:44 AM EDT

I was waken by a weed wacker. Sounds like Elmer Fudd. They start early with their motorized gardening equipment, 8 AM, and they've been going at it for the better part of an hour. My head hurts, my body's abuzz.

Yesterday there were a half dozen jet skis on the Intercoastal. They circled around making multiple passes by the pool. Seemed like a Harley road rally... on water. If you ask me, Colonial Club is suffering from a serious case of noise pollution.

Connie's had another heart attack, he's back in the hospital. Of mom's clan, Connie is the youngest. He is industrious, mister fix-it. Quiet and sensitive, he's an artist, a painter and a musician, plays in a jazz band. His main squeeze, Gloria, is mom's younger sister. She's a fireball, active, talkative, opinionated, a force to reckon with. The two of them together are a matched set, similar interests, opposite personalities.

We will visit Aunt Grace for lunch today, but first the beach is calling.

Sunday, October 5, 2003 10:49 PM EDT

Okay okay. So I have been remiss. I have not been writing. I've started an advanced html class that is keeping me quite busy. That, a week of all day everyday meetings, and a trip to Florida, where I am now. I'm exhausted.

The weather in Florida is beautiful. The time with my daughter coveted. But the highlight is dancing with my daddy. Six months ago he could not walk, could not get out of bed. He spoke in single syllables.

Months of physical and speech therapy have had excellent results. He is still very slow, can't really hear, takes a while to find his words. But he speaks in full sentences, sticks up for himself when my mom tries to convince him he's lost it, he makes jokes, smiles, loves. And tonight, earlier this evening, he danced. He danced with me and I nearly cried it touched me so. He danced with Anita. And he danced with mom.

Mom looks good too. Her hair is back to natural gray, a strong color that suits her much better than Florida-old-lady-mousey-blonde that she wore for years. She wears it very short. It looks cute, makes her little round head match her larger round body. Her eyes look clear and she does not seem so tired.

It's a short trip; I have only a day and a half left. I will be sad to leave.

I'm reading another Tom Robbins book. Every time I pick one up I ask myself "why?" for about the first quarter of the book. The stories are ridiculous, the characters are preposterous. But I keep reading like a rubbernecker. And then I'm hooked. His vision of male sexuality frightens and disgusts me, but once you get to know the characters it can be overlooked... dare I say it becomes endearing... no, but there is a certain charm to it. I love his word play, "...sharing an outpost with eight pious pariahs". And I think he has a head on his shoulder when discussing world issues, philosophy, and religion. I'm trying to save the last of it for the plane ride home. But I don't think I'll make it.

Say goodnight Gracie.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003 8:40 AM PDT

Woke up this morning, cold, hair still wet from last night's shower. Feet step on the cold tile, something's wrong, two days in a row. I have to negotiate to get Albert out of bed. The pilot must be out. No. It is worse. The contractor who is remodeling our family bathroom has severed a wire, the one to the water pump that pumps the hot water through the pipes, the pipes that run through our cement foundation, warming my floor, thus warming my house.

Of course this resulted in a fight. House problems always do. "And that is all I have to say about that."

Sunday, September 28, 2003 6:28 PM PDT

My cousin Theresa called me. I haven't talked to her in 10 years. But her 19-year-old daughter Anna Maria was surfing, cruising, exploring the world wide web and decided to search for her grandmother, Anna Pizzamenti, my aunt, sister to my father, listed in my family tree. She found my website! She read my blog. She told her mom I had been ill.

Her mom, Theresa, has a heart the size of a planet. My cousin-who-I-haven't-talked-to-in-10-years called from Brooklyn to see how I was feeling. I love the internet! And Theresa has sinus problems too. Must be genetic. I'll have to let her know if the acupuncture works.

Friday, September 26, 2003 6:54 AM PDT

Cleo and I created a bit of mischief together. At some point my mother began to restrict the time we spent together; "Cleo is a bad influence". In hindsight, that only made our friendship stronger. Now, as a parent myself, I can empathize with my mom. But she was wrong.

While we caused trouble, we did not do anything that endangered ourselves or others. We just did stuff that made grownups uncomfortable, like pretending we heard voices, turning to no one, whispering loudly, "Go home! I told you not to follow me!" As an aspiring PC adult, I have to admonish this behavior as cruelly mimicking the mentally ill. But as a child, the reactions we got were hysterically funny.

Outrageous behavior was extremely liberating and empowering to a child who had perviously been shy and frightened. I gained confidence. It felt OK to be different. As long as one person loves you, it doesn't matter so much what the others think. Life became fun. I had finally engaged humanity.

When I think of it today, Cleo may have been the single best influence in my life.

Thursday, September 25, 2003 7:44 AM PDT

What's wrong? What's right?

I don't usually write about work even though it takes up a good portion of my life. I tell everyone I love my job and it's true. The team I work with is a powerful efficient well functioning machine. We work on an innovative product, and we have the expertise and competence to pull it off, create something of high quality. Every piece of the machinery makes a difference, including me. It feels great. That on top of a 5-minute commute, flexible 32 hour work week, and time off to do volunteer work! I am in job heaven.

I haven't always been so happy at Intuit. Yesterday some of the old discord leaked in and caused an internal explosion, leaked out and caused an emotional outburst. I stopped the machine, am making them rethink, that was wrong... according to our culture. But a piece of shit got into the machine. It did not go through normal channels, skipped whole sections of the machine. I could have let it go, let it run itself through. I tried to, but I kept stepping in it, it followed me around and wouldn't let me go. And once the back door had been opened, shit would continue to flow through. The machine needed repairs.

I will pay the price even if what I did was right... right for our customer, right for our support department, right for our revenue stream, right for the future of the machine. But it was at a personal cost because now I am a machine stopper, a progress hinderer. This is a label that took me a full year and a lot of effort to shake. "Bad judgment" they said. Even got me on the lay off list, threatened to be expelled from heaven.

So today I am sad and confused, and I ask "what's wrong and what's right?" the same moral dilemma that has haunted me for years. Who do I please? It's the same question I ask in the context of my family, my friends, my community and the world. There are trade offs. Right and wrong are not absolute.

Later that day, 6:58 PM PDT

Atoms are interesting. Capitals suck! This is what my 5th grader told me. Elizabeth disagrees; she likes Capitals. "In 3rd grade I got 100% on state capitals in Miss Newell's class."

I had to come up with mnemonics to help Aja learn her capitals. Picture a hamster climbing to the top of the cage, putting a flag in the ground and donning a crown. "Ta da! I have conquered this cage. I am the new hamster king!" Concord is the capital of New Hampshire. This mnemonic is our favorite.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003 6:39 AM PDT

B.C. Before Cleo.

I can separate my life into two segments, before Cleo and everything else. I met Cleo at age 11. I was her babysitter. The introduction of Cleo into my life was well timed with impending adolescence.

Before Cleo, I was a nerd, not really a nerd because I was not bookish, and nerd was not a term we used back then. I was a fag, that was the word we used, not homosexual, just not cool, not popular. It's not that I wanted to be popular, but my sisters were cheerleaders and my brother was the president of his class, so I had the constant feeling that I did not belong. I was small, shy and quiet, the last one to be picked in a kickball game.

To counter my loneliness, I developed a very active imagination. I could weave a yarn in my head vivid and complex. I could carry the same one with me for days or start a new one in an instant. Walking home from school, I would sing and dance pretending that I was in a musical, the starring role. After the crescendo I would belt out the first lyrics "This is the story of my life...."

In seventh grade I switched schools from Saint Mary's to Roslyn Junior High. That's when the differences between me and the rest of the world really became apparent. I was introduced to cultural and economic differences, prejudice and discrimination. Wealthy Catholic kids stayed in parochial school. If you were Catholic and were in the public school, it usually meant you were low class, from the other side of the tracks, a greaser, a loser, a fag. But the kids from the other side of the tracks were scary, talked and dressed funny, seemed harsh. I didn't belong there either. So I spent a lot of time alone and clustered with the other square pegs at the lunchroom table.

You might ask why if I was only 8 months older than Cleo would I be asked to babysit her? It was not really Cleo I was hired to watch, but her three younger siblings. Cleo basically refused to watch them, which left her mom no option but to hire out. I inherited the job from my sister Fran who had moved on to retail where the real money was.

Cleo was wild, playful, with a huge smile and a sparkle of mischief in her eyes. Energetic and fast. Confident. But not self-centered. She was engaged. She blasted the stereo and jumped on the living room furniture. It doesn't seem all that outlandish now, but at the time I did not know such things were possible, not in the real world. These things only happened in my active imagination....

Are you seeing it come together? One wild child and one full of ideas. Like the night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another. The B.C. years ended and a new world began.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003 6:55 PM PDT

Sometimes I sit down at the keyboard and I dump out all the thoughts that have been accumulating in my head. They stream out like water running from the faucet. Other times my head is empty... or constipated. Duh duh duh duh duh duh... an idiots mantra. I hear only those words one can hear when one has no brain, only ears. If a word falls in the ear but there is no brain to process the signal, does it make a sound?

I feel beat up. I feel lazy. I have a pounding headache. This morning, I only completed half my workout at the gym, skipped arms. Then I yawned through Aja's science lab, and not just because the subject was Chemistry. I managed to do a few things at work, but I was not blazing productive. I wrote a project plan. I am boring. I need sleep.

Yesterday I was sick and I wrote. Today I am feeling puny. No excuse. Noexcu. noex. noe. nnn. oh.

Monday, September 22, 2003 8:22 PM PDT

Sickness is no excuse not to write.

I ate something at lunch today that was not enjoyed by my internal food processing factory. Sickness came on quickly, and I walked out in the middle of a meeting feeling embarrassed and desperate. Then came the pathetic feeling of loss of control of one's self, if one can define one's body as one's self. A betrayal of sorts. Will myself not to be sick! Will myself not to pass out! I managed only the later with great struggle.

Have you ever been sick at work before? I mean uncontrollably sick? What can you do? You can't drive yourself home. I thought about crawling to my cube and lying on the floor. The carpeting would be nicer than the cold tile of the bathroom. But people would come by, and I was in no condition to explain. What would I say "I'm fine, please go away."

I wish I could say this was the only time I have been almost instantly incapacitated by a disloyal digestional tract. But I have a history going way back. My high school boyfriend had to carry me out of the ladies room at Bar Beach. I don't remember how I got home, just feeling pathetic and loved as he wiped the vomit from my face and tucked me in to bed. Albert performed that feat many times at Cornell with such good humor. I much prefer laughter to pity. Sympathy is enjoyed only after I am out of the woods so to speak.

I remember being on Key West with Jill. We were cruising the shops on the strip at night. I just vanished, crawled off to the nearest bathroom in some bar. People knocked and I ignored them. It passed eventually. And I managed to hobble back to the car. When Jill finally caught up with me she was furious. Years later she was still angry. She never did understand that when what is inside is tearing you apart to get out, you can't go looking for your friend in the tourist shops.

I feel like there should be a moral to this story. A tidy ending. Sickness sucks. Sickness makes and breaks friendships. "...in sickness and in health."

True love is not grossed out by a little vomit now and again.

Saturday, September 20, 2003 8:18 AM PDT

Tonight I will host a dinner party, not a whole party, only the main course. Forty of my neighbors will meet in the park at 6:00 for hors d'oeuvres. Then we will split into groups of ten. Each group walks to one house for soup, the next for salad, a third house for the main course. We end up reunited with the larger group for dessert. It is called the Greenmeadow Progressive Dinner.

I am struggling to remember why it was so much fun last year, why I was so excited to join the festivities again this year. At the moment, it is hard to see past the mountain of work that sits in front of me.

I do remember everyone meeting in the park. There was an air of electricity that signaled anticipation of adventure and discovery. Shy people were suddenly outgoing, everyone engaged, everyone assuming they would like and be liked.

We went to the Marcinik's for soup, feeling so fortunate to be in their group. Their house, a monument to the 50's replete with an Airstream in the driveway, fascinates all that enter. Being around Mark and K.C. is more than fun. Their personalities blend to make a perfect dish, both with strong opinions but with exact opposite styles of presentation. Their company is simultaneously exciting and easy, much like their soup, which I think was a spicy red pepper, vegetarian :-) and delicious.

We went to our house for salad, and that part of the evening I remember least. I remember serving Craig's salad recipe, romaine lettuce and parmesan shavings, with a spicy dressing involving mustard, horseradish, and lemon. It was good, but not as good as Craig makes it.

We went to Sigrid and Jim's house for the main course. By now I had consumed a fair amount of wine and was grateful for the long walk. The highlight of my evening was sitting with Sigrid in her backyard listening to her story of the day she met President Clinton. Sigrid is so charming. Her eyes have such sparkle, life, love in them. And when she talks to you, you really feel like you are the only other person in the world.

We walked another half block for dessert, a smorgasbord of delights. But I was too full to partake, too drunk to sample the myriad of cordials, too tired to continue conversation. But like a sleepy child who refuses to go to bed, I did not want to go, did not want the fun to end.

I remember the long cool walk home with Albert. We were giddy like teenagers. We felt so at home in our neighborhood, like all people should have the opportunity to feel, such a foundation for one's life. What a special place. We weren't looking for it when we bought a house here. It would have been like looking for magic, a distant memory from childhood you are not sure ever really existed.

Tonight is the Greenmeadow Progressive Dinner. I can see through the To Do list and smile in anticipation.

Friday, September 19, 2003 7:08 AM PDT

Cleo called, she said she had some advice to give. She asked a lot of questions, and provided no counsel. The she called again the next day, "call me" was all she said. I guess I'll have to call her to unravel this mystery.

Yesterday was a gorgeous, motorcycle day. These final days of summer are like saying farewell to a loved one before she embarks on a long trip, heightened awareness of her company, appreciation for all the little joys she provides, attempts to not think too deeply of what it will be like when she is gone.

My backyard birds seem unaware that the season is changing. Perhaps they are a little calmer than usual, no spring hormones raging. The squirrels on the other hand are gluttonous. They are doing their squirrel thing, the thing that makes them famous, preparing for the winter months. How they get in the bird feeder I do not know. They must drop down from the roof. But I have yet to catch one in the act.

The finches are beginning to fade, loosing the bright yellow of the mating season. Like me. I'm loosing my tan.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003 7:27 AM PDT

Like a moth to the flame. And I keep getting closer and closer until my wings singe. And it hurts so dammed much, and I feel so stupid afterwards...but the flame is so beautiful.

I danced again Monday night, still beautiful, still magical, but not perfect, not like the first time. I was told it was a place I could feel free and safe. But I bumped Marty and she said "Watch your space." I was dancing with Jorge and he wouldn't let me go. Trapped and judged I felt. So I broke away.

We were supposed to be our adolescent selves, mine full of anger and angst, simultaneously thinking they are not worthy of me yet still wanting to be liked. Holden Caulfield.

I crawled into a little ball in the center of the floor and sat there for a minute or two. Finally I re-emerged, new and happy, grown up. And I danced for joy.

Later that day, 10:53 PM PDT

It was a beautiful night to be out in my Camaro. Clear. No moon, no breeze. Mars shining brightly. Sometimes you just don't ask questions...just sit back and enjoy the feeling.

Monday, September 15, 2003 7:32 AM PDT

I'm happy the weekend is over. I'm looking forward to the routine of weekdays. No Monday morning blahs for this girl.

Strange dreams last night, I can't quite remember them, but in each one I was going somewhere, a common theme.

In the final dream Lance had a baby, a 6-month old he carried in a basket. They got into the back seat of my rental car. I was driving them to the airport to pick up Letrice. I think he and Letrice were going to be married later that day. There was someone else in the car with us, my brother? his brother? I don't know. Lance forgot the flight information upstairs in the honeymoon suite. I stopped the car and went upstairs to find the paper. I got lost in the labyrinth of the large hotel. I wandered through suites looking for one with a heart-shaped bed. I remember wondering where I was, I mean, what city was I in and how did I get here?

Sunday, September 14, 2003 8:33 AM PDT

Watched "Devil's Advocate" at the Hoeber's last night, disturbing movie, disturbed my sleep, not just with terrifying cinematic images of evil-creature smiles like I expected, but with thoughts of good and evil in all of us, in me, self love masquerading as righteousness.

I am confused, but for a change am at peace with it. Fear is of the future or past, but I can keep it out of the present.

Daughter is awake singing "Valley Girl". Gag me with a spoon. Between made-up lyrics she plays a few notes on her flute. Precious. I want to freeze this moment.

Moffet Air Show again today, high speed jet acrobatics, I am passionate about the sound, sound that literally moves me, vibrates my cells, deep touch in my body, like mythical sex. Kyrie thinks I was a fighter pilot in a past life. I tell her no, I just love things that are loud, low and fast.

Too bad Sears Point has dragsters on Wednesday nights. Just too hard to get all the way up to Novato on a weekday.

Probably won't actually go to the air show, but like yesterday be prepared, bring my binocs and watch the skies. I think the Angels are on at 3:00. But I'll have to get closer to feel the sound. I want my rocket-powered roller blades turned into the hot wind out on the levy.

Friday, September 12, 2003 6:19 AM PDT

There is molasses in my head. The gears are trying to turn but they are gunked up with heavy oil. Think girl, think!

I am struggling with my self, resisting the temptation to turn today's piece into a giant to do list, a list of failures to do, a diatribe of shortcomings.

Yesterday was weird, a lot of start and stop, ambiguity of desire, lack of direction. I don't know what today will bring, but I pray for definition. It won't happen externally. I have to define it myself. Am I up to the task? Not today. Friday is not a good day to think.

Today I will work, I will clean house, literally and figuratively. I will clear my mind of all those things to do by doing them. Then I will think. Then I will plan. Then I will offer myself direction. There will be clarity of choice.

I am thinking of that Dr Suess Book "Oh the Places You'll Go". With brains in my head and feet in my shoes, I can steer myself any direction I choose. Go girl, go!

Thursday, September 11, 2003 6:48 AM PDT

These days I write by candle light. The sun is tired after shining so brightly all summer. These days it sleeps in, gets up slowly.

I sent books to Tory. I should just let it go, but I can't. Everyone must feel so helpless; I certainly do. His body is wrecked, his kids there to witness the accident. What can we do? We can't change the course of events. Do we "petition the Lord with prayer" and light a candle? Do we accept that this is his "karma ripening" and say a mantra? Do we say "bad shit happens" and light a joint? I am lost. I am 3000 miles away. Janet and the kids are at ground zero.........

Speaking of ground zero, I guess it is in fact September eleventh. I'm not sure what to do with this day. First and foremost, it is Bob's birthday. I should call him and wish him an happy birthday. But after that, am I supposed to bow my head, get angry, get sad? I don't want to. I don't feel like it. It's just a day. Misguided people do horrific acts every day. People suffer as a result. Reliving the past seems to rekindle destructive emotion: hate, paranoia, vengeance. I want no part of that. I need to call Barbara Kingsolver and ask her what she is doing today.

Sally's husband died of a brain tumor, leaving her feeling alone and scared. Joel's not-so-happy marriage ended when he wife was crushed in the collapse of the World Trade Center. They met as widow and widower. They are so in love you can cut it with a knife. They are getting married in December.

There is a ripple effect of tragedy. Pain and suffering, but also courage and strength, renewed purpose, and in this case love. I see why people cling to religion. It is so hard to make sense of it all on your own.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003 6:53 AM PDT

I know why I stopped dancing; a great sadness entered my life. I had been on an amazing ride. But then a break, a dull ache, a sickness of the heart set in. It has taken me five years to climb to the top of this hole. My head is above the edge now, and I can breathe the clean air. My body still feels the emptiness of the hole, and my footing is not secure. Even so, a sense of optimism prevails.

I started reading other blogs. Political, poetic, scathing, rambling, and few deeply personal like mine. May be they are all deeply personal to their authors. As I do the human animal cognition thing, categorizing people, I am keenly aware of the individuality of each person, each voice. Blogging is so cool! (I wish I were more articulate.)

I dreamed the internet as a child. I was 10 or 12. Perhaps it was when I first heard about the existance of computers. Or may be when I read my first science fiction, "The Lost Race of Mars". But I dreamed a world that lived in freedom, a participatory democracy. Everyone had a terminal (yes I am old; personal computers were yet to come). Everyone read the news for an hour each morning, then voted. Everyone ran the world together in peace. Of course in my child view, the news was completely objective. This was possible because back then there was a clear right and wrong. And of course I believed that all people were motivated by universal goodness, not selfishness, anger, prejudice, jealousy, etc. Everyone would be motivated to make the world a better place, and given the chance to create utopia, everyone would do the right thing not just for themselves but for others.

Later that day, 6:47 PM PDT

Today was my last at the Drop-in Center. Walking there, I realized why I enjoy it so much. It is a meditation. The moment I arrive I think of nothing other than the task at hand. I do not think of the future or the past. I do not think of the implications of my actions. I simply am of service. I feed people, I give them their mail, I clean their tables and sweep their floors. Some people appreciate me others are rude. Some like to chat, some don't. Makes no difference to me. There, I have no need to be appreciated or liked. I know I am of service to people who need it.

I felt bad telling Pedro. I knew it would make him sad. He was quiet for about 15 minutes after I told him it would be my last day...for a while. May be I could start again in the new year or next summer. Eventually, he got over it and suggested perhaps Aja and I could help over the holidays. That would be nice.

I won't work next week, but I will stop by to give Pedro the lyrics he requested. Umberto knows how to play them on guitar, "Blowing in the Wind" and "House of the Rising Sun". I couldn't tell him what I would miss, that I'll forget all the Spanish he taught me, that the future is uncertain. I just hope he knows how much it all means to me. I don't go lightly.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003 7:24 AM PDT

My Camaro is the cure for winter depression. Something about riding with the top down makes up for the loss of sunlight at the end of the day. True, it's a bit chilly in the night, but a wearing leather coat and with the heater cranked up, it is definitely more comfortable then a chair lift.

I danced last night, really danced. I danced for two and a half hours with no break. It felt great...and exhausting. I used to dance every Friday night. No I did not go out to a club. I would get home from work, crank the stereo, open a beer and dance. I often played the Police, something energetic like "Cannery in a Coal Mine". I danced alone, uninhibited, joyfully. I was celebrating the weekend. I was burning off retented energy from sitting at a desk or in a car.

I can't remember when I stopped. I can recall dancing with Aja in my arms, as an infant, and later as a toddler. I remember spinning her round and round when she was three or four. She would giggle and laugh and smile. But that's where my memory of dancing ends. It wasn't a conscious decision to stop, it just happened.

Teressa introduced me to this class. It is not like a real class, more like dancing alone at home, in front of a mirror as a teenager, or with your best friend, with Cleo. Totally uninhibited, in a safe place. It is supposed to have some kind of spiritual significance. There are these stages: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. But if I went through them, it was not consciously. If it improved my spirit all the better. I felt freedom and joy. My body led and my mind was its passenger, a nice reversal.

Saturday, September 6, 2003 7:16 AM PDT

It's Lance's birthday today. He is spending it with his family in Florida. His dad's birthday was this past Tuesday and his brother's birthday is some time next week. I think he likes being in Florida for the Welsh-boy birthday season. I know he likes the warm milky weather...and the sea.

Albert's up early today, looking over my shoulder. I tell him to go to my website if he wants to read what I write, but he never does. He invited Lance and Jaxon to dinner, wants to cook them food from the garden. I guess he is pretty excited about his marinara sauce and feeling pressure from all those ripening Romas.

Today I go for my second acupuncture treatment. I have given up on Western medicine. Or rather the ENTs have given up on me, a hopeless case. Western medicine is great for intervention but really sucks with chronic conditions. They have only one therapy, pharmaceuticals. And these inevitably cause weakness in some body system and become ineffective over time. Chronic conditions require someone to look at you more holistically.

I went for my first acupuncture appointment last Saturday. I did not know what to expect and confess to know very little about it. My chi is blocked. And the needles will unblock it.

I was not horrified as she turned me into a backwards porcupine. Porcupines have quills everywhere but their faces, hands and feet. I was the opposite. Twelve or more two-inch needles stuck out from my face, even one from the top of my head. A few more on hands and forearms and again some on calves and feet. A strange site I must be!

Perhaps today I will bring a camera and ask Dr Lucy Hu (who) to snap a picture. I think there was a TV show, British, Dr Who. He was a time traveler a humorous and eccentric guy. Dr Hu is completely different, but equally strange to me. She speaks a language I do not understand.

It's Lance's birthday and he is in Florida. I will have to celebrate without him.

Thursday, September 4, 2003 6:09 AM PDT

I had dreams last night, never-ending stories with no plot, filled with emotion and intrigue. Thought waves meandered through my brain burning new neural pathways, thoughts and emotions that have never before been produced in combination. My brain is experimenting with my life while I sleep. My brain is working for me unsupervised. Can I trust it?

Tony says that science has a real problem with consciousness. They can't prove it exists. They can measure brain activity, but they can not correlate a specific brain activity with consciousness. Are dogs conscious? Tony says yes. But to be conscious, it is not enough to be awake and thinking, you must be capable of being aware that you are thinking.

con·scious ( P ) Pronunciation Key (knshs)
Having an awareness of one's environment and one's own existence, sensations, and thoughts.

Dogs are smart, but I don't think they have an internal dialog, even if Gary Larson thinks so. When a dog has done something wrong, he looks like he feels shame. Is the dog thinking, "I shouldn't have done that. Master is angry. Next time I won't let master down." Perhaps it just the human habit of projecting one's own thoughts and feelings on to others? Perhaps, the dog has just adopted an instinctual animal posture, one that communicates that you are the alpha dog and he is subordinate, a survival posture.

OK. That does seems rather dull. I'm changing my mind. I'm allowed to do that. Perhaps dogs can reflect on their own behavior. Jimi the scientist is reading this and saying, "No Gracie! You are going over to the dark side."

Wednesday, September 3, 2003 5:57 PM PDT

I am so exhausted. I feel like a zombie. Ever have one or two or ten of those days when everyone wants something from you. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed you are doing 2 or 3 things simultaneously, and every moment when you are going from here to there you review in your head all the things you must do when you get there and all the things you will do after you are there and when you will have time to do them all.

Your family is uncooperative. You fight with them and you can't tell who started it. Self doubt creeps in. They totally take advantage. You want to take a month or three months, or a year off, run away from home, go somewhere where you can relax. Then you realize that the reason you are stressed out is because your life is so full of wonderful things, so many choices, and you want them all.

And all you really need is a good night's sleep, when your back doesn't hurt. So you make an appointment with your chiropractor and you vow to drink less coffee, even decaf, and no wine for a week, eat more spinach, things that give you energy and iron, like Popeye. You will try to stay up later so you don't wake at 4:00 AM and struggle until 5:30 trying to get back to sleep, only to give in to the inevitable stumbling out of bed, hoping the clock will at least say 6. If 6 were 9, I don't mind.

Tuesday, September 2 , 2003 9:19 AM PDT

It is so red and shiny. I see a reflection the world swirl by across the hood. I want to shout for joy "I am so fortunate. In this lifetime I get to have this car. I get to own it, to drive it, to look at it. It is magnificent!"

A good friend once told me that I was not materialistic, not possessive. I thought she knew me. I drive old cars, have an old TV, old stereo, wear old clothes. It is true that I do not desire the latest and greatest things. It is true that I aspire to have few possessions. But it is a big mistake to think I am not fiercely attached to the things I do have.

Every scratch on my Camaro causes me pain. It is a huge generosity to let someone drive my car. I don't even like anyone else to work on my cars, and feel let down that I do not have the skill, strength, tools, time, to do everything my self. It is a privilege I grant begrudgingly to let you work on my car... :-)

My clothes are old because when I find something I like, that fits comfortably, that has an element of style, my style, I wear it. I keep wearing it. I don't want it to get old. I refuse to acknowledge that it is old and worn.

I am miserably materialistic. It is not a good thing.

I made the mistake once of telling Lance he was not materialistic. Objects seem to come and go in his life. It seemed like he was unattached to these things that he possessed for short periods of time. They swirled around him and floated past him in the sea of his life. He seemed at peace with it. Apparently he is not, and the lost cell phones, videos cameras, wallets, etc. still cause him a great deal of pain.

How does one find joy in things and let go of attachment?

Monday, September 1, 2003 7:03 AM PDT

She is smart and quick. She grows more beautiful every day. At least that's what he thinks. And she broke his heart, gave him some lame excuse why she couldn't see him anymore. I'm too busy to date...I have to wash my hair. And he's angry and hurt, and alone in Arizona while his family visits me.

Merry is buying a house, with a swimming pool, two waterfalls, and a grotto, in the desert. She is not buying her own bike, is content to ride on the back with Brian. She is feeling good, she has a personal trainer. Merry lifts weights! People change. Sally runs and plays tennis and Merry lifts weights. Sally used to bring in notes from her doctor excusing her from gym class. Merry just skipped gym class and had notes sent home to her parents. We called her banana because if you touched her she bruised.

They drove 12 hours to get here, in the new Land Rover. It's very nice, but we don't all fit like we did in the Yukon.

Howie sold the Harley truck and the Z6 Corvette. This is the Corvette he tried to sell to me, told me it was too fast and scared him. Yeah yeah. He bought a Viper, 500 horsepower. That means your little Ben Hur chariot feels like it is tied to a team of 500 horses pulling you. Whoa hossie! Howie doesn't get scared, or perhaps he just enjoys being scared. He sold the truck and got an Escalade. He bought a chopper to keep the Harley company. And he still has mom's Lincoln. And Al to keep him company. We love Al.

We made them dinner from our garden, a fresh marinara sauce. Roma tomatoes right off the vine. And plenty of basil. Aja cut the chard and I sauteed it with garlic. The salad had our garden cucumbers and heirloom tomatoes. If we grew the lettuce and garlic...and linguini...we would have grown the entire dinner. It tasted sublime.

Merry even liked the Australian Shiraz. She doesn't usually drink red wine.

We were stuffed, but we went for Rick's Ice Cream anyway. We really just needed the walk. They enjoyed the cool evening air after spending the summer in the desert. They say it finally cools down to 85 at about 4:00 AM, then starts to heat up again. Merry, who said Gilroy was too hot, moved to the desert. "What's up with that?!"

She is still alive and she came to visit me. My heart sings.

Sunday, August 31, 2003 7:08 AM PDT

Cayla is a beautiful woman now. I mean it, she's a knock out. She is tall and lean with long legs, narrow hips and large round breasts. She has long straight hair and delicate features. Her green eyes pool liquid, like water in the Bahamas. Her small mouth easily opens into a picture perfect smile. Her skin, young porcelain with the hint of a few freckles from childhood.

She looked like Yoda as a toddler: big pointy ears, large round eyes, a tiny little mouth and a single strand of hair on her head. Twenty years later and the tiny creature has transformed, transfigured, transmutated and every other word that begins with trans.

I saw Jaxon yesterday. I don't see him much anymore, so it is easier to notice the changes. Once a chubby white boy who would not look you in the eyes. Yesterday, in his football gear, he looked radiant, tanned, muscular. He looked at me and smiled, not just a movement of the lips, but a sparkle in his eyes indicating a cheerfulness of soul. So handsome.

This last year, every one is telling me Aja has changed, looks older. They are seeing glimpses of what she will look like as an adult. When she was a baby, I had a vision of her as a child, riding down the sidewalk on her bike, looking back over her shoulder and giving me a big smile. I kept that mental image with me so I could compare it to the child she became. It was surprisingly accurate. I don't want a vision of her as an adult. I want to lock her in a chamber and freeze her at age 10. No, I want to clone her, and freeze one of her, and let the other one grow. I can cling to the past and eagerly await the future at the same time.

Saturday, August 30, 2003 7:00 AM PDT

I love the dawn, when the house is quiet and the birds are at my door. The one with the broken leg sits on the aggregate pecking seeds from the ground. I am so happy he has survived with his disfigurement; it seems to not impair him. I like him the best simply because I can identify him.

The tiny finches make soft peeping sounds at my kitchen window.

Last night I was standing in the driveway, barefoot and on the phone with Cleo, when they came home. I was gently nudging a very large cockroach down the drive way with my big toe, kicking his little behind as he scurried a few paces, then nudging him again. He was about half the size of my big toe and was making regular progress to the end of the drive. Albert and Aja, seeing what I am doing, say "kill it!" Cleo hears the commotion and I hear "smash it" from 3000 miles away.

My DNA is missing the gene for being disgusted by bugs. They are amazing creatures to me, like tiny machines. I can't imagine wanting to kill one simply for being what it is, a bug. Clearly I am out of step with the world.

Why do people think mice are cute but rats are revolting? They are they same egg shaped little fur balls with long skinny tails. They have beady little eyes and cute sniveling noses. Rats are used in psychological experiments because they are very smart. People say they carry disease, but so do birds, squirrels, all wild animals. I guess there are those that would wipe all wild thing from the face of the earth, or at least from the suburbs.

We have two orb spiders that have been building their webs under the eves along the main entryway. I go outside each morning to see what they are up to. I bring Aja so she too can be fascinated by their handy work. Even Albert has warmed up to them, wondering how yesterday there was a big hole in the web and now today it has been repaired like new.

I remember when my parents dropped me at college, my first night alone. Me, who had never gone to sleep-away camp, had never been on a plane or traveled more than a few hours from home, who could count the number of times my parents had left me with a sitter on one hand. They drove off and the sky grew dark. I had never felt so all alone and confused in my life. Why was I here so far away from everything I knew and loved? Why did I choose this? Why did I want to get away?

I walked outside on to the fire escape. It was a warm summer night. I could hear the other arrivals laughing and the music coming from the dorms. Everyone seemed so happy and I felt so desolate.

Then I saw him, hard at work. Not that the work seemed hard, in fact it seemed effortless. But he was so intent. He did not pause to catch his breath or survey his work. You could tell he had done this many times before. But he was not bored by it. Instead it seemed more like a walking meditation. May be he was excited about the next meal it would bring. He laid a strong foundation and then started to spin the never-ending circle. With an artist's precision, each thread was laid down in perfect symmetry. It comforted me so that he let me watch.

My first college friend was a spider. I guess most people don't have such a good history with bugs.

Friday, August 29, 2003 4:14 PM PDT

I must call Cleo. It was her birthday last week. Everyday before her birthday and every day after her birthday I have thought, I must call Cleo. On her birthday I thought it three times at least. Why have I not yet called Cleo?

It's not Cleo, it's birthdays. I never forget anyone's birthday, I just don't do anything about it. It's an internal struggle.

The year I had a baby, on my birthday I called my mother. I had an insight. Why did we celebrate me on my birthday? Suddenly that did not make sense anymore. The birth is really all about the mother, her big day, she does all the work. I just showed up, took a gulp of air, and lived. So I wished my mother a happy birthday. She thinks I'm a kook. But the apple does not fall far from the tree.

I like metaphors. I don't know why. Perhaps it is because they make words more useful. Now an apple is not just a round red fruit, but it can also represent a child ... a darling (the apple of my eye) ... a city (the big apple) ... things that are similar (apples to apples) .. or dissimilar (apples to oranges).

I read my writing, and I think about the link Paul sent me. I must have ADD.

I must call Cleo ... now!

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 10:09 PM PDT

Pedro is from Michoacan. He grew up there, says it's sort of like the San Joaquin Valley, hot and flat. His uncle was a rancher. He had caballos, burros, y vacas. Pedro almost smiles as he talks about the land of his youth. His eyes shine and I know that he is happy. He likes the hot weather and so do I. We are beginning to bond.

The man with the guitar returns to the Drop-in Center. He plays that song again. This time I ask him about it. "Guantanamera" it means a woman from Guamtanamo, a place in Cuba.

People say hello to me as I pass by to sweep the ground and wipe down the tables. Either they are getting used to me being there, or I am remembering to look up occasionally. A few ask about "the girl, where is she?" I explain that Aja is back in school now. I think they miss seeing children. Many of these homeless people seem to be all alone.

Last week I sorted the mail. It made me angry and sad to see so many medical bills, so many letters from the IRS. How could such a wealthy country fail so miserably to care for the sick? My sister keeps urging me to read Hillary Clinton's book. Apparently she has a lot to say on this topic.

I made the mistake of watching a moment of TV news the other day in the gym. A worthless story of horridly abused children appeared within 30 seconds. This is not news. It is a horror story, sensationalized and fed to you in 10 words or less as the ticker tape runs across the bottom of the screen. Is this entertainment? Even CNN is beyond me now.

I think it's past my bedtime. I hear Albert in the distance still loading music onto his 30 GB IPod. He is obsessed and will not stop until he fills it to the brim. "Frame by frame" blares out and then is cut off. May be something softer will put me to sleep. Nite nite.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003 7:01 AM PDT

The wonder. I still have it. A saving grace.

Second day of school for Aja. Her teacher is nice but strict, a good combination. Young and pretty, she gave 4 pages of math homework on the first day. Aja now a fifth grader. My little girl ... a big kid.

A squirrel is sitting on my fence shaking his tail wildly, like he needs to shake out the dust. Perhaps he is waving down a mate, "Come quickly! she's put peanuts out again!"

Her alarm clock went off 5 minutes ago, yet I hear no pitter patter of little feet.

Monday, August 25, 2003 6:57 AM PDT

This is the official last day of summer. I know you thought it was September 20, but you are being too scientific. Tomorrow Palo Alto Unified School District opens its doors after a long siesta. Aja and her compatriots will once again line up outside the classroom door and wait for the bell.

I have only vague recollections of that time in my life. Mostly I remember being cold and wishing the nuns would hurry up and let us in. I remember when the school bus backed into an eighth grade girl, shaking her up a bit and flattening her make up case. I remember staring down at the smashed eyelash curler, a strange torturous device to begin with, and thinking it could have been a human body part, bones with the flesh torn away. And I remember possessing the only copy of the first Beatle magazine, having an eighth grader literally tear it from my hands. I held onto the corner, and she ran off with the rest of the magazine. Mangled! I did get it back, but it was ruined.

I see the pattern already. Missed opportunities, end of good times, death and destruction. I either have to change the pattern of my thinking or be prepared for an awful day.

Sunday, August 24, 2003 8:46 AM PDT

I did not mean to. But I guess I took a month off from writing. First there was a week of miserable illness, Albert's birthday falling in the middle of it. Then Vajrapani family camp, a long weekend in the Santa Cruz mountains with a bunch of Buddhist families, meditations, conversations, inspirations. Then some alone time when Albert and Aja were away. You'd think I would write then, but instead I worked in the garden. I cleaned out the garage and washed my car. Kicked up enough dust to aggravate my sinuses and relapse into ear unhappiness. Then there was planning Aja's birthday party, then the birthday party itself.

And here I am, writing, readying my diary to transition to blog. I am not ready. I have no time to do this. I can have no grand opening. Instead I will have a stealth opening, lunch only.

I am excited about my web sandbox, grateful to those who encourage, inspire, and make it possible. Hope no one minds the mess while I feel my way through.

Sunday, July 27, 2003 7:56 AM PDT

Today writing feels like a chore, probably because I have a raging ear infection. Internal sounds are amplified. I feel like the Daredevil; I can hear my own heart beat, follow each swallow down my throat into my stomach. But external sounds are muffled, as if the world is covered in a blanket of snow.

Last Wednesday Aja and I started our volunteer job with Palo Alto Urban Ministries. Near the train station, behind the Red Cross, is a little hovel called the Drop-in Center. Homeless people come here to get coffee, tea, soup, sandwiches and pastries. They can receive their mail here and supply themselves with toiletries: toothbrushes, razors, shampoo, etc. They come to hang out, socialize, sit in the sun and feel human after a night of sleeping who-knows-where.

Aja and I made peanut butter (cacajuetes) and jelly sandwiches, cut them, put them on a tray, and served them. Pedro, the kitchen manager, told us what to do. I like him, even though he looks at the two of us with a certain amount of distrust and disdain, rich Palo Altans don't belong here or perhaps he just prefers to be alone in the kitchen. I try to speak Spanish to him. I can't tell how he feels about this. He seems annoyed by my lack of skill, but he seems to warm up from frozen to merely frigid by the end of the hour. I think he will like us eventually. What is not to like about two helpful and cheerful people.

A forth person joined us in the kitchen designed for one. I call it a kitchen, but really it is an alley with a folding table, a large coffee canister sitting on the floor by the wall outlet, and a few shelves in the corner. The space is perhaps 5 x 10 feet in all. No one can move from their spots without rearranging all of the others. Anyway, this cheerful man joins us in the kitchen with a very small guitar. He asks Aja if she knows any Spanish songs. We name one or two, but he does not know them. So he plays one of his own choosing. I recognize almost immediately it as a song from my childhood. When he starts to sing I start to cry, gently, inaudibly. I want to sing with him, but I am too choked up and I don't know the real words "Juan tan a mera, por he's a juan tan a mera". It is a beautiful song. The man is a beautiful man. He smiles as he plays. He fills the room with goodness and light. The room seems larger now. Pedro is no longer scowling.

Aja and I clean up and say our goodbyes. As we walk away, Aja asks me if we have to pay to do this. She thinks this is just like a kind of day camp. I tell her no. We don't pay them and they don't pay us. That is what volunteer work is like. Everybody benefits. We walk away looking forward to next Wednesday.

Thursday, July 24, 2003 7:13 AM PDT

Kyrie is coming to dinner tonight. It is dangerous to try a new recipe on guests, but if I don't have guests I rarely cook. I'll make this Indian rice and beans dish and pray. As a saving grace I will cut some chard from the garden and cook it up with garlic.

Agh! Too hard to write. At every sentence another question is asked. Yet there is no one here but me!

Wednesday, July 23, 2003 6:49 AM PDT

Today my typo read "2090" for the year. Scary! I'll be dead.

There will still be cars, roads, and pollution. House pets will be banned. Some large portion of the planet will be destroyed by some natural or unnatural disaster. Computers will be ubiquitous, integrated, and voice activated in the cities and industrialized places, still using keyboards in the outlands, and silent gel ones for stealth military purposes. There will still be war, but peace activists will be more united and powerful as a group. There will be men on the moon and Mars, living there and building stuff. The USA will still be a capitalist democracy, but the two party system will die as the internet improves communication and smaller groups organize more easily. The world will have the same amounts of pain and joy as it does today but with different causes and distributions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003 7:24 AM PDT

My typo read "tuusday". That's how I feel about Tuesdays. Ooooooooooo. Sounds of both pleasure and pain.

I've been writing every other day for 10 minutes at best. I guess that's better than before, but still not good enough to entertain the thought of writing a book. My goal is to get to a half hour every day, rather arbitrary, and I don't know what it means once I reach it. But it feels good'nuf.

It's a gray morning, no finches or squirrels in the yard. No sounds of laughter in the house. But still there is a cheerful air about. It's summer, there are residuals of good feelings from times when summer meant no school, no homework, rekindled by Aja.

There is a pile of white foam on the living room floor, a small mountain of snow, a pillow to jump in, a package explosion, a mess. Albert sits on the couch staring intensely at nothing, pensive, probably deciding his next business maneuver, how to make his company succeed. Surely not contemplating cleaning up the mess. It is a lovely mess, or at least I tell myself so, fighting the compulsion to clean it up. I'll go do laundry instead. Diary of a mad housewife.

Sunday, July 20, 2003 7:26 AM PDT

From last night --

The evening sky has been painted in watercolors, the vibrant hues melting into one another. Sunset by Monet. It is beautiful and the beauty brings me joy. How wonderful it is when I can share this beauty with someone, who understands the beauty the same way I do, who touches my soul to produce moments of complete synchronicity. How extraordinary that I can enjoy this beauty alone, no need for external validity, I can find joy all by myself.

I awaken several times this morning, but I leave the final awakening to the joyous sounds of my daughter calling to her father "come on daddy...." She is so happy to be in his company after a week's absence. And he has indulged her with his attention instead of becoming distracted with the mountain of mail or the progress of our construction project. They read Harry Potter, play cards, and open presents. I am content to be on the outskirts of this happiness, enjoying the solitude of the dining room table, one ear devoted to voyeurism and vicarious pleasure.

I wish I could take a couple more weeks off. I would write. I would repot plants. I would wash my cars and install seatbelts in the Camaro. I would relax. Or, I would obsess. I would feel angry and alone. I would work on the house and feel unappreciated when it's other occupants casually toss their things on the floor and leave crumbs on the counters.

Friday, July 18, 2003 10:22 AM PDT 1:22 PM EDT

Leaving the big apple already! My flight is about to board. Aja and I have been busy every moment. Here is a list of the fun stuff we did: Took Amtrak to Penn Station, a 3 hour ride...Stayed with Cleo in Astoria, in her funky little apartment full of small things...Aja shopped for trinkets, I shopped for food...Cooked dinner for Cleo; she asked if I would marry her...Walked around Times Square, saw a 3-story indoor ferris wheel and bought candy at ToysRus, ate pizza at Ray's, and saw Aida on Broadway...Rode the elevators, leaned over balconies 45 stories tall just to scare ourselves, and eventually had dinner at the top of the Marriott as the lounge rotated to provide all views of the city...Walked up 5th Avenue, past Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, NBC studios, Saint Patrick's Cathedral, stopping only in FAO Schwartz to see a $350 life-sized stuffed Bengal tiger and be mesmerized by the constant repetition of a Disney-like tune, "welcome to the world, welcome to the world, welcome to the world of toys."...Saw almost every animal in the Central Park Zoo...Rushed though 3 of the 4 floors at the Museum of Natural History, pausing only to see a video on evolution: dinosaurs are recognized by a hole in their hip sockets allowing them to stand above their legs, unlike their reptile ancestors, lizards & frogs, whose legs emerge at the sides of their bodies, an anatomical feature currently recognized only in birds, today's dinosaurs...Took the semicircle 2 hour boat tour of Manhatten...Met Cleo in Soho and shopped in the open market for jewelry...Ate fabulous Greek food at a tiny taverna called Snack.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003 4:38 AM PDT 7:38 AM EDT

Still on Eastern time. We leave for New York at noon. Cleo will greet us and provide us with her key. She is feeling frazzled and out of control, not a good time to have house guests. I tried gracefully to duck the visit, but she refused to let me go. "You will be the sun".

Albert's stuff got smashed all for lack of a magic rub. He seems to have recovered all, even his confidence. Or, he put on a good face for me. He wishes we were with him, perhaps only to help with the work of putting on a show for the government. I could be the pretty girl, Vanna White, who stands by the product model, directing the crowd's gaze to me first, then with a wave of my arms to the display case.

I later find out there is a term for this, “booth babe”.

Sunday, July 13, 2003 6:02 AM PDT 9:02 EDT

Keys stare back at me. "Spirited Away" blares on the TV. Fran instructs us on the location of the peanut butter and encourages us to eat the blueberries. "They're all I have left."

I see a soft breeze make its way through the wisteria. The craggy vine has managed to mature into thatching for the trellis overhead. The four columns holding the trellis skyward and the similarity of wisteria to grape vines produce the image of an ancient Grecian garden. A nymph draped in white robes, shoulder exposed, wavy hair piled high atop her head, strolls beneath the canopy, not a statue but a product of my vivid imagination.

I will make my way on to the deck to test the sun, see what I need to wear today, a sweater, shorts, a swimsuit? This is the last day in Rhode Island. I am simultaneously happy to be away and enjoying this time with people I love and anxious about being away from the solace of my home. 5 more days.

Saturday, July 12, 2003 4:33 AM PDT 7:33 AM EDT

I am in Rhode Island with Fran and Jim.

I saw Mom and Dad briefly before they returned to Florida. Mom looked like someone socked her in the eye. Dad looked beautiful but vacant. They both looked happy here in my sister's serene and spacious home, surrounded by almost all of their children. Mom sat me down and showed me the list of possessions, her post-death intensions for her most precious things. I get the diamond engagement ring. Albert gets the Dali. She showed me the papers for medical power of attorney. I am the legal decision maker to pull the plug.

I have talked about it casually before, but this time I am overwhelmed. I put my arms around her, lean my head on her shoulder and cry softly.

"I don't want your stuff, I want you."

"I don't want to die either sweetheart." Did she really call me sweetheart?

It rained yesterday. We sat around the house all day and eventually went out to rent a few videos, Aunty Fran, Aja and I, the girls. We took too long according to Jimi, not long enough according to me.

Another dinner at a clam shack, everyone in fried fish delirium, me eating potatoes and cole slaw. The rain finally abated. So we hit wiffle golf balls on the lawn at dusk. Jimi reminds me of Lance, they always come up with something fun to do. Make me really enjoy their company.....too distracted...can't write... again. Reminds me of the video we watched last night "Adaptation".

Thursday, July 10, 2003 5:50 AM PDT 8:50 AM EDT

Waited too long to write. Now the kitchen is full of conversation, too distracting. Arizona property values, investments, blah blah blah, distracting even when the conversation is as dull as it can be. Why is human talk so hard to filter out?

Now Albert and Alice are talking about "The Matrix". I must engage. TTFN

Wednesday, July 9, 2003 3:54 AM PDT 6:54 AM EDT

I will try to wrtite a little every day. This will be my practice.

I slept well last night, woke only once between 9:30 PM and 5:30 AM. The sun is shinning beautifully on the water. Got 3 messages last night from Nebraska. Got a back massage from Albert before getting out of bed. The house is quiet and I sit in front of braided Aja and the Mexican sunset with coffee and a peanut buttered bagel. This is my formula for happiness.

I want to call Cleo. I want to run on the beach. I want to buy donuts for the family. If I do any one of these things I will continue to be happy.

The next dharma movie should be "Mask", not the stupid Jim Carey comedy, but a wonderful drama about a boy with elephanitius. It stars Cher, her best piece of art. The boy writes a poem, something like this:

These things make me happy:
Sun in my face,
The sound of my friends laughing,
Rain on the roof.
These things make me sad:
The sun in my face,
The sounds of my friends laughing,
Rain on the roof.

Surely a dharma principle, that it is not something external that brings happiness, but an internal state. Chocolate cake makes you happy, but too much chocolate cake makes you feel sick. So happiness is not a property of the cake.

So why do I delude myself that the sunshine, phone calls, coffee have made me happy today? Better yet, how can I delude myself each day? I can see Venerable Robina looking at me sideways with a sly smile. "The point is to not delude yourself dearie!"

I met Joe & Quentin Mahoney yesterday. I have talked to and emailed Joe regularly for almost 6 months now, so it was both wonderful and strange to be meeting him for the first time at his vacation home in N. Falmouth. No surprises. He is the same entertaining, intelligent, laid back person he is in the ether. It was hard to leave just as the conversation turned to our views on the world. I would have liked to invite them back to Hyannis for dinner, especially to see how Quentin and Aja mixed. Quentin is Aja's male counterpart. He does not walk more then 10 steps without doing a cartwheel. He throws in a few handstands and a front handspring for good measure. He is nearly inexhaustible in the water, is a constant flow of energy and conversation. He is really a beautiful boy with a spark of intelligence and abundant life, so much like my dear sweet Aja.

Of course Joe recognized the name Aja right away. I am guessing he is close to my age, knows too many of the things I know. Then again, I guess everyone is close to my age and am usually wrong. I make older people younger and younger people older. Self-referential reality can be a blessing.

No pretty ending here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2003 5:49 AM PDT

But I am not on Pacific Time. I am in Hyannis, so I guess it's around 9:00 AM. There is a fog on the water, slowly receding. And it's warm! What a concept!

I ache, I'm tired, and I drank too much coffee, perhaps too much wine last night.

I've been reading some good books. "Small Wonders" by Barbara Kingsolver was a joy to read. So much so I sent Laurel Lee, the woman who gave me the book, an email telling her that I love her. Barbara has done some good thinking about the state of the world and her life, and she emerges with a positive outlook, giving me hope.

"The War of Art" by Stephen Pressfield offers more encouragement. Regular diary entries like this will prepare me for writing a book. Just write even when you don't feel inspired. Although Stephen would say the diary is a tool of resistance from actually writing the book! He is a little too dogmatic.

I should try and call Joe again today. I hope the message I left last night was not too odd; I had a bit of wine and was less filtered than usual. Don't know what to do about Lance, encourage or discourage him from joining me in Rhode Island. I really don't want to start anything with anyone. Ugh!

On that note I will retreat to my bed and see if a nap will come.

Saturday July 5, 2003 Aja said,

"Get away. You're going to break my feelings; you're going to wither my soul."

Tuesday June 24, 2003 8:46 PM

Screwed up. I don't know what I'm doing. I have no set policy, it varies from day to day. How are others supposed to know what to expect from me if I can't have any consistency in my behavior. A lose wire, don't touch me or you might get fried.

Hot, very hot, at least by California standards. I love warm nights. Wish my Camaro was running, wish I had somewhere to go. Wish there was a warm beach to drive to. Wish there was someone fun to go with.

I'm going camping this weekend. Hope the warm weather holds. Hope everyone gets along. Hope we all have fun. Hope I don't screw up.


Monday, June 15, 2003 6:50 AM

Today could go either way. I am on the brink of emotion. What will it be?

Every thought turns into a song. How cheery that sounds, unless the lyrics are "feeling lonely, wanna die, if I aint dead already, you know the reason why."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not in a bad state. I'm actually quite content. I guess one lives with loneliness.

Saturday, June 14, 2003 1:48 PM

Chocolate in my mouth, stiffness in my fingers, tap tap tap on the keyboard, can't smell a thing as usual. I see words on the screen, and beneath them my beautiful Aja, smiling back at me, the sunset in Mexico, my computer screen background.

"Can't think. Brain dumb, Inspiration won't come."

Close my eyes and see
serenity and soft whispers
that slow and soothe me.


Friday, June 13, 2003 6:26 AM

Where are my outdoor pets? Sleeping in today I guess.

Coffee. A drug and a food all in one. Tastes good, clears my sinuses, wakes me up. It's a great way to start my day. Sounds like a TV commercial. Von told me a story once. He said he was going through a period of depression and was suicidal. On one particularly bad day he simply decided that as long as there was coffee and hot showers in this world, he wanted to live. This was a while ago. I'm sure he said hot showers. May be I added the coffee.

Where is Von these days? I don't get Christmas cards with pictures of Carrie's Pekinese pups anymore. Smashed faced little dogs with scotch plaid bows in their hair. Not my thing.

I'm going to start a blog. I really like the idea, but I really don't want to filter some of the very personal stuff. It's a dilemma actually.

Thursday, June 12, 2003 between 6 & 7 AM

Tears on my pillow, again, damn it! Diary of a depressed person.

From Cleo on May 26 2003

But deep inside me sings
the Fury's lyreless threnody;
my heart, self-taught, has lost
the precious confidence of hope...
--Aeschylus, Agamemnon

thren·o·dy ( P ) Pronunciation Key (thrn-d)
n. pl. thren·o·dies
A poem or song of mourning or lamentation.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003 6:11 AM

Hip hurts. Must be dying of cancer. Did I just jinx myself?

I have a friend who is dying of cancer, and I haven't spoken with her since her birthday. I should call. I should ask her if we can go on Howie's free cruise in August. I'm afraid she will tell me that she did not buy a house, bought a motorcycle instead.

Monday, June 9, 2003 10:12 AM

Still at home. Up all night with Jack and Andy. Ingested coffee and a bagel. Now I am off to shower and wash my hair.

Sunday, June 8, 2003 10:49 AM

Squirrel's at my door. Startled by the sudden spray of timed irrigation, he runs up a tree. It's a suburban thing.

My dog is dead. I miss her. Now the wildlife have become my obsession, my personal pets: Blaze, Blackie and the finches. I put out 5 different kinds of bird seed, and peanuts for the squirrels and scrub jays. Big fat cat from next door sits in wait. Drama unfolds. The nature channel outside my window and I've stopped paying the cable bill.

Saturday, June 7, 2003 8:31 AM

I'm riding the rollercoaster of my life. Yesterday morning, the pure joy of feeling loved and cared for, sunshine, pointless social conversation, not-so-good wine, a card game, work completed, all of it made me happy. By evening, sadness sets in, tears in the middle of the night.

This morning, birds at the feeder, a good book in bed, skin touching skin, the eyes of Aja, not enough to make me joyful, but enough to make me content, the flat spot at the end of the ride.

Friday June 6, 2003 6:11 AM

I received a spam today "sleep better and lose 82% of your unwanted body fat". That was a bit chilling. Seduced by the "sleep better" I read on with the imagery of me sleeping soundly for a change. My day dream turned into a nightmare as some liposuction monster emerges from under my bed and eats away all my flesh leaving only a skeleton.

82%...such a specific number. What if I want to sleep better but keep all of my precious body fat?

Joe gave me an explanation for why young boys desert their girl friends at age 6, "focus". They are simply focused on other things. And they don't see beyond the current object of interest. It seemed to ring true. Certainly it is the cause of adult male female conflict. It is easy to picture a wife returning home after grocery shopping, arms loaded with groceries, to find a husband firmly rooted on the couch with a magazine, laundry piled around him, as they both look up to see the kids have shaved the dog. "What have you been doing for the last hour!"

But it still does not explain Spanky and Our Gang's He-man Woman Hater club. There is something more. It has to do with power and control.

Thursday June 5, 2003 7:32 AM

I shared today with Joe Mahoney. I sent him some silly thing I had written years ago. He had shared his music with me yesterday, so perhaps I felt obliged. May not obliged, but needing balance.

My writing reveals me, a girl, writing about relationships, girl thought. Who would want to read such stuff?

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