Saturday, July 26, 2008

Randy Pausch

I've certainly noticed I've become more sentimental/emotional as I get older...the new commercial for the Beijing Olympics with the Derek Redmond and his dad puts a lump in my throat.

When I heard yesterday that Randy Pausch had succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer, I was truly grieved. What an incredible soul and spirit that man shared...

I have much work to do.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change.

I'm trying to remain positive about the job hunt. My natural tendency to downplay my own strengths is not helping, and neither are the lists of jobs available through the usual suspects. I am going to keep trying. :)

More later...

Monday, July 14, 2008

I found Jesus - he was behind the sofa all the time.

Searching for a job is a daunting experience. There are always things to distract you from your task. Like blogging. :)

At the risk of sounding like a housewife, I got an unbelievable level of joy from vacuuming and steam-cleaning my carpet yesterday. WTF? Brett and I were one finely-oiled machine...moving furniture, me vacuuming one room while he shampooed the carpet in another... Priceless. The pride I felt while surveying my clean apartment was tantamount to painting a portrait, or finishing an important presentation or...something else like that. I was giddy for hours. Ok that's a lie - I'm giddy now. It's beautiful.

I guess the fact that our old vacuum kicked the bucket a couple of months ago, after a few months of failing health. Our new vacuum, a lovely purple upright with hepa-filter and all, sucked up enough cat hair to form an entirely new cat - albeit a dusty one. (We'll stick with Libby.) We got it at reliable old Target, but not online, and it was cheaper in the store. Yay us!

We then steam-cleaned the HECK out of it.


Enough about my clean apartment.

Back to the job hunt.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Catching up...

So it's been over a year. So sue me. I've been BUSY.


I had a job and everything.

I fell in love.

I got all marriaged and stuff...

I've been working on my website. Check it out.

I've been writing a BOOK. (ooooh)

I promise I'll write more soon. Honest.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Marching unrelentingly toward...2007

Happy new year. Or is it "Happy New Year!"? Or maybe it's "Happy Gnu Year!"?. Whatever. I haven't written in a while. Now I'm writing about my new year's resolutions. You're thrilled, surely.

Instead of the specific resolutions of year's past that always get thrown by the wayside, I have decided to embrace a more conceptual idea of resolutions. Rather than things I will do that I didn't do before, these are ideas and behaviors about which I will become more resolute.

I shall endeavor to be more healthy, the whole mind-body-soul thing. I don't know if that means I will ever take a yoga class, but there's still hope. I will try to find the inspiration I need to move my body again. I want to feel all the muscles connect and work together. I am going to try and free my psyche from the baggage--no, CRAP, that I've been hauling around. (see "self" below and "forgive" a bit further down). This may or may not involve interaction with a trained mental health professional; jury's still out on that one.
I will also heed the passage of time and limit my intake of garbage, for all the reasons that's a good idea.

The last few years of my life have been, without question, kind of difficult. I'm not saying I didn't make the bed in which I now lie, but still, some tough times. I have ( new-agey word alert) "processed" much of the "information" I've gained over these years and I think I am now standing as tall as I've stood in a while. (Easy for me to say...) There have been some truly dark moments. Here I must also say without my friends I would not be alive. I wholeheartedly believe that.

My friends are my wealth, and I am rich beyond measure. I will cherish my treasure each day. I will no longer worry about who called whom last, or more often, and focus instead on what each friend means to me, and be the embodiment to them of that friendship. (I think that makes sense.) My friends have gone so far above and beyond the call of any "duty." I am humbled that they care so deeply for me.

My brain is very unhappy with me. Brain sad. Brain lonely. For too long I have let it graze along, munching quietly on nonsense and vapidity. My brain used to like me a lot, but I don't think I ever gave my brain the credit it deserved. Now I say, "Stand UP Brain, be accounted for! I shall not let you atrophy one millisecond longer." My brain is hungry for many, many things, and I will allow it to feast. Promise. Pinky swear. Really.

I'm doing it! I'm really doing it! This sounds silly, honestly, but I watched a documentary about JERRY SEINFELD and he said something that affected me more strongly than anything in a long while. He was talking about how he would grudgingly work on his act 2 or three days a week, and then one day he saw some construction workers going back to work after lunch, and how even though it wasn't the greatest job in the world, they were going back. Jerry (I feel I can call him Jerry) said, and I'm paraphrasing of course, that if they can willingly go back to work day after day, week after week, the least he could do was give his job (which he felt lucky to have) the same dedication. There. That's it. It goes hand in hand with "Learn", but I have to use it, or I will lose it, in more ways than one.

I am not speaking simply of financial. I owe the world my consideration. I owe the earth my concern. I owe my friends my undying love and friendship. (I owe myself my undying love too, but that's harder.) I am going to honor my debts.


This is the toughie of the bunch. I will forgive my parents for being my parents. I will try and remember that they are people who made questionable decisions under difficult circumstances that affected me greatly for a really long time. I can't say I will no longer feel the effects, but I will forgive them for their part. I will forgive myself for my own weaknesses. I must be true to myself and if I am successful, maybe the fear that has infiltrated all the cracks and crevices will go away. If I can forgive myself for the things I haven't done, or didn't do well enough, or did the wrong way, perhaps I can clear the way for finding out what I really want to do, and the voice and power I need to get it done.

Oh, and I'm going to learn Spanish. I am.

Today is the first day of the rest of the week. That's as much slack as I'm willing to cut it. Maybe tomorrow it will be better.

Monday, December 12, 2005

People like you are the reason people like me need medication.

I was reminded today of an incident from my past that while making me look like a complete idiot, still made me laugh, then and now. They say it's healthy to laugh at oneself--it helps if one is laughably stupid at times.

I living in Oakland, California in a beautiful one-bedroom apartment near Lake Merrit. The rent for this spacious and well appointed apartment was a miraculous $610, and that included a parking space in a secure garage. And it was only about 10 years ago; how stupid was I for moving, eh? The same apartment now is undoubtedly nearing $1500 or $1600 now, if not more.


What is that about hindsight? 20/20 vision? Something like that. I should have eyes of an eagle by now, an eagle with lasik surgery, even. Criminy.

When parking in my parking space in my secure garage at my spacious, well appointed $610 one-bedroom apartment in Oakland, I would always park head-in, and then back-out.

(Let me confess right now that I can be sarcastic at the wrong time.)

Let me set it up for you:

Early Spring Morning outside my parking garage in Oakland.

Neighbor (whom I had never before met): back out every day?

Me: (Alright, snidely) I guess it's just as easy as backing IN every day.

I got in my car as she watched and backed out of my space. As my car passed through the garage door opening, I proceeded to scrape the entire passenger door along the garage door. Loudly.

Of course, I kept going as though there was nothing unusual.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

It's All Relative Part 2

Nearly a year passed, and then my 40th birthday, and the subsequent realization that my real life was carrying on without me, and it wasn't particularly pleased with what I was doing with or about it.

When my roommate decided to buy a condo, giving up the lease on our apartment, I took it as evidence that the universe, no, The Universe, was pointing me in a direction. A further sign came when I was told that once again I would not be advancing in my job, ever. My quasi-relationship was still circling, though whether it was circling commitment or the toilet remained to be seen. While we both insisted we loved the other Truly, Madly and Deeply, after nearly two years of uncertainty we definitely needed a break, some distance, some perspective. So there it was. Short of speaking out loud in a Thunderous Voice, The Universe was now telling me in no uncertain terms that now was my chance, my opportunity, my time. It was my destiny unfolding before me, almost without my control or consent. Call it Fate; call it serendipity, coincidence, or just an interesting confluence of events, things were changing, just as I had hoped. (What's that saying, be careful what you wish for…?)

I called my mother and made arrangements to visit her for an extended period of time, say 8-10 weeks. She told me in her gravely smoker voice, a Midwestern Tahllulah Bankhead, that she was thrilled and that she loved me and couldn't wait until I arrived, but not to hurry too much, to be careful and arrive in one piece. I quit my job, moved my meager belongings into storage, tuned up my 1993 VW Fox, visited a few friends, and said my goodbyes to them and to Dean, the man in my life. I knew this would be good for me and for my future and for my relationship, but it was difficult, nonetheless. I drove from Los Angeles to Long Beach, where I met up with 2 retirees I had found on a Baja travel website and had arranged to caravan with the 1200 miles or so down to La Paz.

The retirees, Larry and Larry (Larry 1 and Larry 2 for clarity's sake) were on their way to deliver household items to a house in Cabo San Lucas owned by Larry 1, who had made the drive at least a dozen times before, and was a constant source of encouragement and support from the minute we first spoke and arranged our trip together. The Larrys were a godsend, to be certain.

I had no idea what I was in for, the trip in and of itself was a bit scary; simply driving in a 10 year old car 1000 miles into a third-world country was frightening enough. I was leaving any form of security I had ever had, the man I loved, my friends, my home and life as I knew it, and I didn't even know if my car would survive the journey. I knew, however, that all I had was the future and answers to the questions that had plagued me in my present and in my past. I also knew that come hell or high water, I could and would, finally, make my little mark on the world, even if that mark was a faint and tiny scratch--much like carving your initials on the underside of your desk with an unbent paper clip in the 4th grade--only the one who carved it knows it exists.

We set off at 2:00AM on a Saturday and drove 900 miles before stopping in Loreto for the night. Now, if you've ever driven the length of Baja California, you will know that there exists some of the most beautiful coastline you will see in your lifetime. The drive crosses back and forth over the peninsula from the Sea of Cortez to the Pacific Ocean. There are parts of the drive that will take your breath away; picturesque little towns and seaside fishing villages, miles of beaches, coves and bays. The available lodging runs the gamut from downright scary to 3 and 4-star and restaurants serve fresh fish caught that day in waters so blue and so clear you can see the sandy bottom.

Unfortunately, in addition, there is mile after mile after mile after unrelenting mile of the most barren, desolate and hot desert, interrupted only by mile after mile after tedious mile of winding, monotonous mountain ranges that twist and turn so often your neck and shoulders begin to cramp with the effort of turning the steering wheel so often. (Ok, I have no power steering, but still…) It seems endless and endlessly miserable at times.

The kilometers are marked one by one on the road, counting down the mileage from one town to the next, and after a while I found myself adding and subtracting to see how much further this could go on before the next town and a chance to stop and stretch my legs. Frequently the mileage would be incorrect, and I began to feel as though they were taunting me--teasing me that Mulege would be only 20 kilometers away, but I would count backwards with the numbers on the road, 19, 18, 17, 16, etc. only to reach 1 and have there be no town in sight. The mountain ranges go on for hours it seems, climbing and descending, leaving you always hoping that next turn will reveal another stretch of the coast and some relief from the monotony of turning and the sight of hundreds upon thousands of giant cactus as far as the eye can see. (Believe me, their novelty wears off quickly.) I couldn't help but think of the old Spaghetti westerns, and what a miserable way to die this would be--in the desert on horseback or on foot, no water, and Clint Eastwood squinting at you from behind the barrel of a gun.

We drove 900 miles without stopping for anything but inspections by the Federales and bathroom breaks. We passed through the inspection points without any hassles, and Larry1 would give the bored young men a six-pack of Coke or some American candy as we left, promoting good-will or something. No food worries, I had a cooler full of sugar-free Red Bull and chocolate peanut-butter Zone bars, they had cheese puffs and meal replacement drinks. We were golden. After 12 hours following behind their Toyota 4Runner Larry2 drove my car and let me take a short nap. The car for which I had expended considerable anxious energy was actually a cheetah I had kept in a cage, ignorant of its true nature. Beyond having no problems at all, the Larrys teased me that it generated gas. I said if my car were a person I would buy it a beer, and that got a pretty good laugh.

We stopped in Loreto, a small town that primarily attracts sport fishermen and campers, and checked into a great little hotel right on the beach. We came to the end of very long day after a couple of margaritas and a good meal. We slept in a bit the next morning, climbed in the cars and finished the last few hours of the drive the next afternoon. I felt the Larrys and I had bonded quite a bit--I felt like I had two wonderful and protective father figures looking out for me--they urged me to call soon, and come visit them in Cabo. They continued south and I drove into La Paz toward my mother and finally, some context, some answers, some sense of identity--or so I hoped.

I arrived at my mother's house at 4:30 Sunday afternoon. She was very happy to see me--she hadn't been well, and didn't look it, either. She had been an enthusiastic hippy in San Francisco in the 60's, and still looked, dressed, spoke and did enough drugs to fit the part. Once she told me "God is far out." She had found a place that would accept her and embrace her and wouldn't question her lifestyle, her past or her appearance.

During my first two visits she quite literally alternated between marijuana, cocaine and cigarettes. All the years of drug abuse and poor eating habits had taken their toll on her. In addition she had contracted hepatitis C along the way. Before she moved to Mexico nearly thirty years earlier, the doctors had given her six months to live. When she told them she was moving to Mexico they said, ok, you have three months. Still alive 30 years later, she credits her survival to God, daily injections of vitamin B and Yoga. She once told me "God is far out."

When I arrived this time, however, she wasn't fairing well at all. She had to have an oxygen tank and was down to one or two cigarettes a day and no marijuana or cocaine--that was cold-turkey for her. Her organs were systematically failing and vitamin B or no, she was not going to last much longer.

This reinforced my firm belief that the universe, er, The Universe (won't happen again) had directed me to this place at this time because it really was not only my last chance but hers to forge a relationship. I felt vindicated in my decision to come here, and any misgivings I'd had seemed inconsequential, given the course of events and circumstance. I was where I should be, where it was intended.

Hers was an alternate reality, of course, a reality where dirt, lizard and bugs were plentiful but running water and any real cleanliness was not. I am not prissy, but I have over the years, developed a fondness for consistently functional plumbing, among other things. I accepted this alternate reality--I had been here before, and knew it was only a matter of hours or a day or two at most for the culture shock to subside.

Next: The Mother of All Culture Shocks