Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mean Reds

One of my favorite books is Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's. Many people have seen the movie, but I know far fewer have read the book. I would recommend this short novella to all who have ever felt the need to belong while at the same time, to not be tied down. The underlying theme is that you should never love a wild thing for the more you love a wild thing, the more inclined they will be to break away. As Holly Golightly says in the book, "...you can't give your heart to a wild thing: the more you do, the stronger they get. Until they're strong enough to run into the woods. Or fly into a tree. Then a taller tree. Then the sky."

I've always felt a certain kindredness to Holly. She seems always to be running, while at the same time standing still. She is a strong female character with an inherent weakness for never giving up on her "friends", even when her friends have given up on her.

Holly describes the concept of the Mean Reds. What we nowadays call "depression", Holly describes this feeling as being afraid yet not knowing what you are afraid of. There are times when I have often experienced the Mean Reds myself. I think everyone goes through them from time to time. It's when they start to take over your life, that you have to wonder if maybe you should seek professional help. I will not lie...I've been that low...so low that I needed to reach out to an unbiased third-party to help me through. That was several years ago after a nasty episode with someone I credited at the time with being the one true love of my life (I now know this to not be the case), and my married co-worker. No need to go into details - you can do the math and maybe understand why seeing a therapist was a good option for me back then!

It's been years since I have been back to therapy. Nowadays, I try to combat the Mean Reds with other distractions - I call those Warm Fuzzies. Things that I enjoy doing, that bring me happiness one way or the other so that I may impart joy onto others (yuck - I sounded like friggin' Pollyanna right there, didn't I?!). Do you remember when you were a kid and learned the story of the Warm Fuzzies and the Cold Pricklies? I do...it was a concept that stuck with me throughout childhood and (obviously) till today. It was an important lesson to learn so young in life...that being warm and inviting will get you much further than (frankly) being a cold-hearted bitch ever will. Unfortunately, there are still those people out there that think being cold and callous is the only way to get through life. The challenge for the Holly Golightlys' of the world is to learn to identify the signs early on and extract yourself from the situation so you do not encounter the Mean Reds. I am by no means advocating that one should run away from their problems, but simply don't entangle oneself in the pettiness of others and you will be fine.

I know....easier said than done.

Back to the idea of not loving a wild thing...when I think back on my relationships, the ones that always seem to start off well, the ones that are actually good for me, usually end up with my pushing the other person away and not letting them in. The relationships that were the unhealthiest were the ones that I fought tooth and nail for, and miserably lost. We always want what we can't have, right? I propose as well that we often reject what we need the most. After all, isn't it easier to be alone than than to make a romantic relationship work with someone else? That's all fine and good until you find yourself in bed alone on a cold Saturday night with your down comforter from Ikea and a 15-pound cat keeping your feet warm. (YES..I speak from personal experience). So the question remains, like Holly, am I better off being a wild thing, or will allowing myself to be tamed be to my benefit?

Any lion tamers out there?

The Art of Toast

I love toast. I love toast in the morning. I love it at noontime. I even love having toast for dinner. Sometimes - like tonight - I will even go all out and have toast for dessert! With a little bit of honey, my mouth won't know the difference between the toast or the pint of dulce de leche in the freezer. And dare I say - the toast is probably a little bit healthier! I am, after all, using whole wheat bread as the toast foundation upon which I build my tasty dessert.

When I was a kid my mom used to make the best toast. It was always browned to perfection, with just the right amount of butter, spread on at exactly the right time so that it melts into all the little nooks and crannies. mmmmmm...I used to love her poached egg on toast. You would pierce the yolk of an otherwise alabaster egg and the sunshiney yellow gooeyness would seep out onto the bread creating a tasteful combination that was a joyful start to your day.

And we can not forget the sheer esctasy that is French Toast. Day old cinammon swirl bread, sliced thick and allowed to soak in an egg batter before frying up in a generous slab of butter...6 minutes over medium heat, turn, then 4 minutes on the other side. C'est magnifique!

People make fun of me because I insist on having a toaster oven - you know, like grandma has. I say "pish-posh"! I like my toaster oven. It allows me to make toast out of any kind of bread - whole grain, sprouted wheat, ciabatta, baguette...even the occasional blueberry muffin has taken a turn in my trusty toaster oven. Though I will say there is nothing worse than having to dig out burnt-on blueberry muffin from the heat coils of a conventional toaster!

Shut up...it was an experiment!

And let's not forget about my panini press...that makes a very tasty toasted cheese sammie when I am in a hurry! If I could have a brick oven in my kitchen, I would install one just to make bruschetta the way they do at Macaroni Grill. Mmmmm....

In case you are wondering - no! I am not high. I just have visions of toast points dancing around my head, the way some people think about chocolate or sex...well...I think about those too, but in addition to the toast!

Oooohhh...you know what is really good?? Baguette toast, with a little nutella spread on it, shared with the one you love... *sigh*

But don't get any crumbs in the bed! That will just really spoil the mood!

Music And Me

I've been thinking a lot lately about music and how I relate to it in my everyday life. It seems these days in order for me to focus on any task, I need to have some sort of music going in the background. Depending on what I am doing, it can be something as chill as St. Germain, as energized as New Order, or as profound as this guy whom I've mentioned a couple times in previous blogs (and who is currently grinding away in the background as I type this).

I read somewhere once that "music enriches us all, and the seeds for appreciating it are planted in childhood". Based on my own experience, I do firmly believe this statement to be 100% true. My parents - my father especially - laid a solid foundation early on for music appreciation. My dad still grooves to the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Elvis. He also digs folk music - the Chad Mitchell Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary. And he LOVES showtunes...don't even play Red and Black around him or he will happily serenade you. When my mom was younger she certainly had an appreciation for folk and classical music; then again, she also had a "thing" for John Denver. If she were a teenager, it would have been akin to a massive crush on a teen pop idol, a la Leif Garrett. I vividly recall once on one of our many car trips between DC and NH we took during the 80s, a radio station somewhere in Connecticut played Calypso. My otherwise "keep in turned down to a nice, pleasant decibel level lest you ruin your delicate ear drums" mother, nearly drove us off the road reaching for the volume control, proceeded to jack it up to full blast and sang along at the top of her lungs. When the song was over, she literally begged the radio to play it again. It was a bit frightening actually. However, it does drive home my point that music can have an amazingly profound impact on the listener. It can reach down into your soul and pull something out that you otherwise keep hidden away.

I've been to many a music show in my day - from huge stadium rock concerts, to orchestral/ symphonic presentations in world-class concert halls, to funky jazz jams in back-alley clubs, to down and dirty hip-hop and reggae performances at smaller, local venues. The music may vary, but the emotion it provokes is a common theme no matter the genre. You can see it in the audiences' faces, in their body language, the way they bop their head to the rhythm, tap their feet in time to the music. Human beings are organically predisposed to respond to music. The fortunate few among us who possess the gift to create music are to be regarded as modern-day heralds, calling out to the masses to rejoice in their inherent passion.

Do you remember the first album you ever bought? Mine was AC/DC, "For Those About To Rock". Seriously. I loved it - played it over and over again. I wish I still had it. I would play it now. I was 10 when I bought that record. Three years later, I hit puberty and subsequently discovered the perpetual boy band and it was all pop, all the time, until I was introduced to the pleasures of funk and jazz while in college. From there, my tastes gradually evolved into the eclectic mix they are today. My preferences vary depending on my mood...ambient, funk, soul, rap, country, jazz, pop, electronic, grime, even house and trance. I always say I will listen to anything once. More than likely, I will listen more than once, and usually grow to like everything I hear. I view the whole musical experience as a lesson in acceptance and tolerance. I believe that shutting yourself off to entire genres - to the point where some people won't even walk through the loathed section in the store - is contrary to human nature and doesn't allow one to grow in mind, body and soul. What upsets me more are those people that do not allow music into their lives, because they are too busy letting in misery and negativity and are incapable of enjoying the relief that music will bring them. I am sad to report my mother has become one of those people. Ironically, it was around the time that John Denver passed away, when the music died for her.

My hope for my mother, and others like her, is they will one day feel again the good vibrations, allow themselves to tap their feet, and open their hearts and minds to the possibilities that music presents...whether the message being expressed is one of joy or sorrow, life or death, love or loss.

Music is Life.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Word to the Wise

Not sure if anyone would want to take parenting advice from me: someone who has not had a child and who will likely never bear a child of her own. However, I feel that I can still offer some valid advice to parents who may be struggling with how they will pass on life lessons to their children, simply by virtue of the fact that I am child to a parent who was unable to connect with me, his eldest daughter and in many respects his most complicated offspring.

Lest you think this is going to be a soliloquy of “Oh-Woe-Is Me-I-Had-A-Crappy-Childhood”, I wish to be clear from the outset that I do not now, nor did I ever, think I had a crappy childhood. My upbringing was challenging at times, but I always felt loved and nurtured, supported throughout and pushed forward into the world armed with the necessary tools to be a successful adult, many of which were bestowed upon me by my mother. What was truly lacking in my life was a father who was present: emotionally, and oftentimes physically. He was too wrapped up in his work and his own problems. And when he was, I never got a sense for who he truly is as a person. He was/is very much a “say as I do” kinda guy, who covers up his flaws under a thick armor of fear and rarely lets his guard down. Although compassionate and extremely intelligent, he has always been too absorbed in his own world to really know how to deal with me on an emotional level. I never fully bonded with him. According to my mother he just simply did not know what to do with me. He was 24 when I was born; an age I look back upon and wonder if I could have even managed to deal with a child had I had one at 24.

I was a very shy and introverted little girl who clung to the apron strings of my maternal grandmother, having spent many days under her watchful eye while my mother went back to work almost as soon as I was born. I was an avid reader and preferred solo play to time spent with my peers. When my brother and sister came along, it didn’t really get much better as I always felt they had each other and I was the third wheel. A myriad of health problems plagued me from an early age, forcing me into surgery at least seven times before the age of 12. I had hearing and speech issues that erroneously led some teachers to believe that I was just incapable of learning. To his credit, he did rally against those teachers and told them in no uncertain terms that as a fellow educator, they couldnt be further off the mark.

That being said, things came to a boiling point when I was a teenager. We were always arguing with each other, largely because I never fully understood his need to put himself forward as someone he was not, nor his need to put up walls barracading himself against his own children. When my father did share of himself with us, it was always about how infallible and perfect he was and how his detractors and those who did not agree with him were flawed individuals. He was convinced that he was going to be President and live to be 100 years old. If he was to be believed, my father was Superman, The Green Lantern and the Lone Ranger all wrapped into one.

Even now, I am the age I am and I still expect him to give me some clue that he has come to terms with his imperfections…that he is a person who has learned from his mistakes and embraces those lessons to make himself a better person. He struggles with this to the point where I suspect he is fighting against acceptance as he believes it will make him weak and vulnerable. He recently said to me that he thought he was a perfect person and doesnt know how to deal with having a black mark on his record as that means he is imperfect. Hated to tell him, but absolutely no one is perfect. It's about time he accepted that fact.

Here is where I get to that sage advice I promised earlier: let your children know that you are less than perfect. Don’t be afraid to tell them that some of the toughest lessons life teaches us are the hardest to adhere to. It’s ok to make mistakes, even when you know better, as long as you aren’t causing physical or emotional pain to yourself or to others. And it’s really ok to just be human and accept those imperfections that make each and every one of us unique. Your children will not judge you negatively if you admit your flaws and acknowledge your mistakes. If anything, you will teach little Johnny or Betty Sue that it’s ok to be who they are. Life’s greatest challenge is overcoming obstacles and hardships on the way to becoming the best person you can. From my perspective, if I had more of that reassurance when I was growing up I think both my father and I would be in a better place today.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


I am a blog.

People read me. I was created by a single being...a carbon-based, bipedal lifeform with a seemingly endless array of emotional capability and eternal capacity to endure much pain, while still maintaining a bottomless sense of humor. My creator is a person full of morbid curiosity, self-contained imagination and stifled creativity.

And - dare I say - impeccable writing skills. Most of the time.

I am a compilation of feelings and thoughts. A repository for that which occupies my author's mind and bedfuddles her spirit. I am a vehicle by which this person can communicate and say what is flying about the rafters of her brain.

I am a modern day diary. A journal filled with sometimes inane, but occasionally brilliant ideas. I am a virtual vessel that contains the emotive ramblings of an imperfect being. I am rife with opinion and unafraid of expressing myself.

I am what every human strives to be.

Then again, I am what every human already is, but they just dont realize it.

I am an innocent messenger, representing a not-so-innocent human being, all alone in a complicated world.

I. Am. A. Blog.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


I was a little put off the other day by a co-worker who had indicated he would stop by to talk to me about my project before leaving for a two-week vacation. I had hung around in spite of the worsening traffic to speak with him and when 5PM came and went, I walked down to his office to find it dark and the door closed. He had obviously left, forgetting about his promise to swing by. Admittedly I proceeded to stew over it for a bit, as in my mind my project was a priority and how dare he leave me hanging...

When I got home that night, after sitting in traffic for an hour which left me more pissed off, I logged onto my Facebook account and saw a timely post written by a friend who was apparently also having a bad day. She stated (and I am paraphrasing here): You know you are not a priority when you become an afterthought.

Some may think this to be a self-defeating statement, but it did drive home that even though my project was a priority to me, it did not trump the priorities of my co-worker; a single-dad who likely had to run out at 5PM to pick up his child from day camp. It actually made me feel somewhat ashamed for thinking my #1 priority at the time should have also been a priority to him.

Mentally apologizing to my co-worker for the undeserved cursing out, I started to think about what my own priorities should be in life. Since graduating from college 16 years ago, I've not always chosen the right path...in fact, many of the routes I have opted for have been bumpy, windy and oftentimes led to a dead end. As I inch closer and closer to 40, I feel the need to re-evaluate the direction my life is headed. When I think through the places screaming for improvement, I find I can categorize these into three classifications: Health, Money and Family.

Let's face it: I'm not getting any younger. What I could get away with at 30 I can barely get away with now. When I turned 34, I decided to make a change in the way I ate and exercised...taking away the bad stuff, adding in the good stuff. No fancy diet programs, no gimmicks, just good ol' common sense: a healthy diet and consistent workout routine. And it worked: I lost 50 lbs in less than a year. I was looking good and feeling great! Unfortunately, difficult events that happened subsequently threw me off my game and I allowed myself to fall off the proverbial wagon. Fifty pounds and a little more later I'm not feeling as good about myself as I should. In fact, I'm pretty miserable. But as any miserable person will tell you, there is morbid pleasure in languishing in your own misery and I realize that I am trapped in a comfort zone I have thus far been reluctant to step out of.

My doctor was cutting me slack for awhile, knowing the difficulty I was facing, but on this last visit she told me in no uncertain terms I needed to think about where I was and what I needed to do to change my outlook. It is with that in mind that I decided I needed a goal to reach for...simply losing weight to look and feel better isn't enough for me. I need something that will propel me forward and force me to be accountable. With this in mind I decided that next year I will participate in The Big Climb. At this point, I have about 7 months to prepare and get over my loathing of stairs. Whether or not I make it up 69 flights of stairs remains to be seen but honestly I have nothing to lose by trying, except a few (dozen) pounds. It is a tangible goal that is well within my reach, if I want it. Which I do.

People are often uncomfortable when it comes to discussing money. I typically bury my head in the sand when someone tries to broach the topic with me. I laugh it off and pretend like it's no big deal. However, money IS a big deal! It really does make the world go 'round and unless I want to be 65 and homeless, unable to care for myself in my old age, I'm going to need to pull my head out of the ground and face facts. Nearly halfway through my career, my 401K plan is a lark. My savings are pretty bleak and I am STILL making payments on a seven-year old, banged up Sebring that has most definitely seen better days. Turns out that when you are young and foolish and simply act on a whim to purchase a new vehicle every two years, regardless of how underwater you are on the previous loan, you have to pay the Piper eventually. I'm stuck with my car for the long haul as my trade-in is worth approximately $5K less than what I owe. I either have to come up with a $5K down payment or I just need to stick it out. Ten years ago, I would have plunked down the money and bought a shiny new car. Rent could wait. Now, I need to be responsible and if the car dies, I will just have to take the bus.

Barring my vehicular woes, my overall long-term outlook is looking pretty murky right about now. The good news is I have the power within me to turn it around. I am in a good position to do so, and a few small changes in how I approach my finances should right the situation. I have job security and a good paycheck. There really is no reason for me to keep going down this frost heave ridden road. Time to turn on the GPS and find the fastest route possible to financial stability!

Of course if I had my druthers, I would quit my corporate job and go work on my many philanthropic causes. *Oh - to be independently wealthy!* I started a non-profit organization awhile ago, with the intent to further awareness of the Arts and Philanthropy and to aid in the continuation of Art Education for the Masses. My challenge at this point is how do I balance my need for a full-time job and paycheck with a desire to make the world a better place? Thus far, the right answer has not presented itself to me, but things happen in their own time and I am confident I will eventually find the way.

Family has always been an interesting challenge for me. In my immediate family, we all love each other and would go to the ends of the earth to support our kinfolk. We may not always LIKE what our relatives do, but we still respect each other...most of the time. When I think about family as a priority in my life, it's how can I be the best daughter/sister/aunt/ granddaughter/niece/cousin I can be without compromising my own sanity. Likewise, how do I reconcile for feelings about not having a husband and children now, at a time in my life that many of my peers have that which I seem to be naturally repellent, and not end up a bitter and jaded spinster. As I said before - things do happen for a reason and everything will fall into its proper place. As the theme song of a very popular 70s sitcom put far more eloquently than I ever could: "This is it. This is Life. The one you get, so go and have a ball!"

As I read over this post, I realize how my priorities have shifted over time. If you had asked me to list my top three life priorities when I was 29, #1 would surely have been to Fall In Love; Good Health may not even have appeared on the list. It would have landed somewhere around #8 and Financial Stability would likely have been flailing around on the floor somewhere, begging for attention.

As time moves on what seemed of paramount importance to one yesterday is quickly replaced with other things. And although being in love is important, loving oneself is even more so...

Monday, August 9, 2010


If I had to describe my personal history in one word it would be “nomadic”. If you know one thing about me it is that prior to 2000 I did not live in one place for longer than 3 years. But after 15 schools, 4 states, 5 countries and 3 continents I seem to have finally found fertile ground in which to set my roots. Ten years gone I still get the occasional feeling of wanderlust, but in my heart I know that Seattle is now my home.

Thinking back on the past 10 years of my life I’m confronted with a myriad of feelings ranging from glee and happiness to cringe-worthy embarrassment.

I moved here on August 5th. Two days later I began my employment at a place I affectionately call Wonderland, but others simply refer to as Microsoft. I’ll never forget that first day…I actually met Bill Gates and I recall thinking how much he looked like a young Mr. Rogers in his v-neck sweater! Really.

The excitement of my first day quickly wore off and the first few months at Microsoft and in Seattle were challenging, to say the least. I had gone from the relative security of boutique law firms where I was coddled by matronly lawyers who took pity on me; thrust into the back stabbing, cut throat corporate world. On my 3rd day my boss at the time, a petite yet tenacious woman, looked me square in the eye and said “Do you even know what you are doing?” To my credit, I was able to recover from that accusation and clumsily explain myself, to which she replied by taking a deep breath and saying “OK. I get that…but we do things differently here.” It was then I knew I was in for a roller coaster ride that would transition me from just having a job, to actually having a career.

As for Seattle, it’s a different vibe here. People are not welcoming of strangers, which is odd when you consider that many people who live here are not from here. I suspect this is because those native to the area are tired of having outsiders come into their city and taking away from its natural charm; transplants have struggled so hard to develop their own social circles they don’t want newer arrivals upsetting the delicate balance. Whatever the reason, it took a long time before I felt like I had an adequate support network. But once I found my niche, it was right.

A few moments immediately stand out in my mind as significant, though if I had the time I could certainly go on and on about the ups and downs of my tenure here.

In February 2001, five months in, I experienced my first major earthquake. I had been particularly moody that day for some reason, so had just shut my door to focus on my work. No sooner did I sit down, that the building start to shake. I looked up and saw my co-workers running around the halls seeking refuge. Not knowing what to do, I followed them. We had a couple locals in our group who were shouting at us from under their office doorframes to stop running and find a place to brace ourselves. Just as we ran outside (which I now understand to be a BAD thing to do in an earthquake), the ground stopped shaking. Fortunately I thought to pick up the phone and call my mother right away to tell her I was safe. Within 5 minutes the phone lines were jammed and I wouldn’t have gotten through, which would have made my mother panic (which she did anyway when this brought to the forefront of her mind that all her children were living on the “Rim of Fire”). *touch wood* I’ve not felt a quake like that again.

9/11/2001. No further explanation needed. I woke up that morning to a panicked phone call from my sister exclaiming that planes were flying into buildings all over the country and we were under attack by unknown assailants. I switched on the TV and that is indeed what was happening. Just then my father called to say he was in NH at the time and was ok. However, he was worried about my mother who was working at the State Department. He explained that she was likely being evacuated, would likely not be in touch for awhile, and to just hold on. I went into work visibly upset but the aforementioned tenacious boss lady refused to send anyone home…after all, *we* weren’t in any danger. Later that day, we got in touch with Mom and she was fine…just shaken up as we all were. What a day.

The “Canadian Whiz Kid”…my biggest client success story and the experience in which I learned that it is ok to think outside the box and to not be afraid of failure. At the time, it was exceptionally difficult to secure a work visa for someone who had little work/life experience and no post-secondary degree. I met the Kid through a mutual client/friend. He was 21 at the time, had 2 years of schooling under his belt and about five years of work experience. He also had a pregnant Canadian girlfriend and was feeling pressure at home to “do the right thing”. His work group was willing to do anything they could to keep him for a long time. The visa he was on was only good for a year at a time, with no guarantee of renewal year over year. He married his girl, and she was able to move to the US as a dependent, but they were not sure of their long-term prospects. I had read an obscure piece of information somewhere that seemed to suggest one could equate actual knowledge to meet the requirement for a Bachelor’s degree. After meeting with the Kid, I managed to convince my manager/his attorney to go for it. Long story short, the Immigration Service not only approved the longer term employment visa, but also his green card before he was 25. Not one to pat myself on the back, I was truly proud of this accomplishment…and happy for the Kid and his young family who are now living the American Dream!

By 2007, I was pretty well burned out in my chosen career field. The long hours were taking a toll on my health and in November I ended up in the ER with stress-related symptoms. Clearly, I needed a change and in December an opportunity dropped into my lap. I had a chance to capitalize on a pretty solid skill set built during long hours of expelling blood, sweat and tears and trade it in for an equally challenging yet comparatively calmer work environment. This is how I came to be in the position I hold now. I admit the first 6 months I was questioning my decision to leave the field that I had come to respect and to love, as one comes to respect and love their torturer after 7 years of hellacious submission, if only because I had no flippin’ clue what to do with all the free time on my hands! I went from 16-18 hour work days to barely working 8 hours. And if I didn’t know any better, I would have sworn I was suffering from PTSD. As with any new challenge though, I found my stride and carved a little niche for myself and – dare I say – have even managed to find time for fun projects outside of work. Now I totally get what they mean by "work/life balance"!

Other thoughts of note:

I fell in love with the wrong person.

He tore my heart out of my chest, stomped on it and kicked it to the curb.

I healed.

Then I fell in love with the right person.

Unfortunately, he had to leave after his visa expired.

I healed.

I made new friends.

And I lost old friends.

But I healed.

I welcomed new family members and went from being just a sister to a sister-in-law and an aunt.

I lost family members.

And ultimately healed.

I watched the stock price go from a high of $112 down to less than $20

From this, I will heal eventually..

In short:

I laughed.

I cried.

I learned.

I taught.

I loved.

I hated.

I sang.

I danced.

And I smiled…

Here’s to the next 10 years!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Short and Sweet

Time is passing,
Fast and furious.
Life is short
But makes me curious…
Where am I headed:
Who will I meet?
Will it be fun,
Or just bittersweet?
Time is fleeting,
And in low supply
But with good credence,
I can only fly!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Creeped Out!

The past few days have been a little "off" for me...ranging from disappointing to just downright weird. It started on Friday when I received some unexpected news...nothing tragic, just personally upsetting. Kind of like when you are expecting to land that great job and you learn the company awarded the position to someone else. Kind of like that...but not the same thing.

Unfortunately, I was a bit off my guard around the same time I received this disappointing news that I let spill some personal details about myself to someone who really didnt need to hear anything about my wild and frivolous youth. Someone who happens to be my mentor and co-worker. Classy.

I will spare the details, but suffice it to say I self-medicated that evening and eventually poured said self into a cab around 11PM. Not one to go down without a fight, I at least remembered to engage in my preventative hangover ritual of two Advil and a bottle of water before bed.

Unlike Friday, the rest of the weekend was pretty chill as my bestie was in town from DC. We took in some of the sights around town before heading to a party in Mad Valley. Nothing terribly exciting there, unless you consider a drunken queen grinning at you ear-to-ear whilst chewing a deviled egg, exciting. The next day Bestie left with his family on an Alaskan cruise and I stayed home on the couch as this was the first down day I'd had in a week. I was a lazy slug and I loved it!

Monday dawned and I headed back to work. Exciting stuff, let me tell ya! Still feeling a little embarrased about what transpired the previous Friday with my co-worker, I felt the need to bite the bullet and just address it head-on. After a clumsy apology, I practically ran away from his office convinced (still) that he thinks I'm even nuttier than before! He would be right. Note to self - stop acting like a moron at the office. That's the last place you want to be seen as anything less that 100% *together*!

Cut to today: still a little up and down, preoccupied with thoughts of a less-than-perfect life and feeling utterly sorry for myself. Wah. Tried to focus on the all-day meetings I had to attend but found it difficult to do so and was otherwise distracted. About halfway through the day I realized that I really needed to snap out of it. Whatever was bothering me was not the end of the world and I should just get a grip. But still...there is this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that is leaving me a wee bit unsettled.

After a long day at the offsite, I came home and found the daily note from my dogwalker on the credenza, telling me about her walk earlier in the day with Daisy. Apparently Miss D got freaked out about something as they were walking near the Viaduct; she started whining and pulling Dogwalker toward home. Although not unheard of, D's behavior is still unusual but I just filed it away for future reference. I went upstairs and let her out of the crate to be lavished with hugs and kisses before taking her out for her evening jaunt. <3

After handling her business, Daisy freaked out in the same spot where Dogwalker said she had lost her composure earlier in the day. I tried to both calm her and get her away from the source of her distress (I just assumed there was a noise coming from somewhere that she could hear but wasnt immediately audible to me). When we got up to the corner, I had to pull Daisy back before she lunged into traffic. In my periphery, I saw a woman approach me from the side. She looked like...well, me...if I were schitzophrenic and 50lbs heavier. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt with a jacket tied around her waist, she looked at Daisy then at me and said in a flat monotone (and I kid you not):

"They say when I die, I will come back reincarnated as another thing. They are not fooling me!".

Fortunately, the light changed at that moment and I was able to cross the street without delay. Looking back over my shoulder the woman was still standing there on the same corner, arms akimbo, not having moved an inch.

Creepy, right?

And tomorrow's another day...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Holding Out for a Hero

The closer I get to that "Magic" age, the more I wonder if I will ever find the Real One. When I was a young girl, I just automatically assumed that I would be married with teenage kids by now. After all, by the time my mother was my age, I was already halfway through high school, giving her grey hairs and headaches with all my angst. Why wouldnt it be that way for me?

It never occured to me back then to consider the possibility of getting to be the age I am now, still single and childless. Admittingly, the past four years have been a stressful time for me - professionally and personally - it's probably just as well there wasnt anyone in the picture. Why would anyone in their right mind want to sign on for that kind of chaos? But that's over and done with. And now, here I am on the cusp of turning 40 and nary a romantic spark in sight.

When I think of the kind of guys I was attracted to in my 20s, I cringe. Likewise, the types of men I gravitated towards in my 30s force an involuntary shudder. Now that I am about to step into my 40s, I think I have it figured out. As the song says, I AM *holding out for a hero*.

The eHarmony questionnaire asks the responder for their feelings on traditional gender roles. Previously, I would have taken a strong stance against them. I am woman - hear me roar! Anything a man can do, I can do better AND in high heels! Maybe I've just gotten soft over the years...or desperate....but I'm just tired of having to constantly fend for myself. I see real value in having a man come into my life and help support me and care for me. A gentleman, a scholar, a handyman and a rock. Someone I can look to when I am down or stressed... someone who will find my goofiness and occasional ditziness endearing, but will gently guide me, help me through life while at the same time recognizing that I am a learned, intelligent human being worthy of respect and consideration. Worthy of love in its true form.

In essence, I'm compromising...I dont want to go it alone anymore. That doesnt mean I'm going to pick up with just any ol' schmuk off the street. I do still have my standards. But as the lyrics go:

"Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There's someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder end rising with the heat
It's gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet"

I think back on my life, and I realize in hindsight that I have made many mistakes over the years when it comes to some of the men I have been involved with and subsequently pushed aside. Truly, if I only knew then what I know now I wouldnt have thrown away the good guys. I wouldnt have turned my back on the men that wanted to take care of me. I wouldnt have been such a player. No one wants to love a player.

But you know what they say about hindsight - it's 20/20 vision...and I have an astigmatism.

Thinking back, I remember a time when I was hanging out with some of my male friends at a club and they were trying to hit on some other women sitting near us. I asked them point blank why they never hit on me like that. They all said in spontaneous unison: "Because you dont want us!". Ouch. That hurt. But they were right. Back then, I didnt want them because they were not what my 33-year old self was looking for. Back then I wanted flash. I wanted slick. I wanted superficiality. At the time, I mistook good looks, disposable income and a shiny car for "love". Stability and a house in the 'burbs were unattractive qualities to me then. But now...it sounds pretty gosh darn good.

I just hope it isnt too late...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poetic Rambling #1

I remember the day we met,
Though I bet you dont.

A lot has happened
Since that day, long ago.
But not really so long.

I think of you and I wonder,
About you and what you know,
That which you believe is true,
That which you think impossible.

And I wonder...
What do you think of me?

My own personal L.A. Story, Conclusion

Prior to this vacation, my family had been united with a "long-lost cousin" who had reached out to my grandfather before his passing in order to get to know his branch of the family tree, and share what information she had gathered. I remember hearing about this woman at the time, but since she lived in California, I didnt have any interaction with her. Then along came Facebook. Sister had met our cousin a few times as they lived an hour apart and when Cousin joined Facebook, Sister suggested her as a friend to our side of the family. I immediately added her to my friend list as I thought she would be an interesting person to get to know - and truly, how often does one get to meet a long-lost cousin?

Over the past months, I've become friendly with Cousin through Facebook, and when I made plans to visit Sister in L.A. I thought it would be fun to finally meet face-to-face. I'll spare you the details of the onorous drive from L.A. to Long Beach, where Cosmo routed me through Lynwood and Compton ('nuff said), but even though I was an hour late for lunch, Cousin met me outside the Belmont Brewery with open arms. A petite woman, older than me but younger than Mom, she was very friendly with an infectious smile and kind eyes. I loved her right away. We chatted over soup and salad and afterwards walked along the pier, taking in the scenary and chatting some more. I found Cousin to be a very strong, inspirational person with a compassionate heart and tender soul. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet her, if only for a few fleeting hours.

I left our meeting feeling happy and content, and had another 3 hour commute to drive 20 miles to pick up Sister. I had planned on seeing a movie that afternoon, but it didnt quite work out that way. Ah well...such is life. I wasnt about to jinx my happy vacation buzz over missing "Inception".

On Friday afternoon, I hooked up with my friend J, who has worked behind-the-scenes on various WB shows for years. She invited me to the WB lot for a private tour. J pulled up in a golf cart after I parked Cosmo, and I jumped in and held on...believe it or not, that was my first ride in a golf cart! I dont know why that should be so surprising or even noteworthy, but it would seem that I should have had at least one ride in a golf cart before now, but maybe I'm just boring that way.

As we drove around the lot, J pointed out various points of interest, giving me a history of the lot and the inside scoop on some of the buildings and sets. She highlighted various features, particularly how most of the buildings on the lot can double as movie sets. In other words, the office workers could show up to work one day and discover their office building is suddenly serving double duty as a high school or a hospital!

Before you ask, I didnt see too many celebrities other than Simon Baker (quite the handsome fellow he was!)

I really loved this part of the trip...not just because I got a private tour by an insider, but I was able to spend some time getting to know J. I've actually blogged about her before; as a newer friend whom I had only chatted with online, and met briefly at Chris' show on Monday, it was a real pleasure getting to know the person behind the tweets. She is a wonderful human being and I am so glad to consider her a real friend!

That night, J, Chris and I went to Genghis Cohen for dinner. It was a wonderful opportunity for me to get to know both J and Chris on a more personal level and I feel that we really connected as friends. Dinner was pretty tasty too! Both of them said they considered Genghis to have the best Chinese food in L.A. and I can agree with that (albeit without having much to compare it to). The menu was diverse, with selections for just about every palette and dietary restriction. The service left a little to be desired, but they made up for it with a free drink for J (who apparently is a frequent visitor).

As we were finishing up dinner, Chris said "I think that's Don Rickles over there. Is Don Rickles still alive?" I said "Where is he sitting?" Chris informed me he was behind me, three tables to the right. I looked over my shoulder and sure enough...it was the legend himself! And he's OLD...very, very old. But very much alive. :)

My vacation was winding down, with the final weekend upon us, so it was important for me to spend as much time with Sister as possible. My relationship with my sister has historically been a loving and respectful one. Certainly we've had our differences, but I do consider her to be one of my best friends, someone whom I confide in when I cant confide in anyone else. She's always been there for me, and I try to always be there for her. We fight because we love each other. We each know what buttons to push to get the other going, but that's what sisters are for!

Saturday, as she headed to the gym, I headed to the beach...via Cafe Milan. In my humble opinion, this restaurant/cafe/local hippie watering hole is the best deal for brunch in the L.A. metro area. If you are in the neighborhood, I highly recommend you give it a try. It's a block from the beach, prices are cheap and the food is fresh and fast.

The local color makes Cafe Milan an interesting place indeed. While I was sitting there enjoying my veggie omelette, a disheveled looking older man walked up with a very young woman wearing a very, very short mini skirt. I'm normally not one to judge, but I did catch myself thinking "Why is she with him?" Ashamed, I quickly put all catty thoughts out of my head until I heard them speak: he in thickly accented Euro-English and she with a heavily-nasaled American Princess accent. I dont recall exactly what they said (other than it involved soy milk) but I do clearly remember her saying "I'm SORRY! I just dont understand what you are saying!". Now I had to wonder why HE was with HER!

After my morning repast, I headed to the beach and laid down in the sand with another book. Soon a woman dressed in yoga pants, a hoodie, and expensive shades walked up and handed me a postcard inviting me to a local woman's Bible study group. She thought I would be interested in attending. Why, I dont know...clearly, this woman has never met me before. But I accepted the card and used it as a bookmark.

Yes, I am going to hell.

That afternoon, Sister, her man and I headed to Malibu to the Getty Villa. A small museum dedicated to Greek and Roman artifacts, staged in an Italian Villa on the Malibu hillside, it was a glorious way to wile away the day. After spending the afternoon amongst the Antiquities, we headed back to Hollywood for Movie Night at the Hollywood Cemetary. As we were early, we stopped at Intelligentsia for coffee. In all honesty, my reasoning for wanting to stop for coffee at Intelligentsia was purely for "research purposes". I had been told that, in spite of the fact it is frequented by a certain young Hollywood actor, it was "damn good coffee". Being from Seattle, I was skeptical. Yes, I am a coffee snob, but not without cause! Everywhere I have traveled in the past 10 years have coffee houses that fall far short of my caffeinated expectations. I couldnt believe that this little coffeehouse in West Hollywood was going to have better coffee than my personal Seattle java haunt: Zeitgeist Coffee.

Walking into the place, the ambience brought me right back to Italy. It was a gorgeous venue with lovely blue and white tile and marble countertops. Ordering the coffee proved to be a bit clumsy as I have a certain way that I have become used to ordering my double-tall non-fat latte, and the coffee-speak is just different outside Seattle. Not to mention, Intelligentsia does not have nonfat milk and I had to settle for 2%. The horror!

Admittingly, the coffee was good although not *DAMN good*...and they get points for creating a very cool environment. But it just isnt Zeitgeist.

After our break, we headed to the Hollywood Cemetary for "High Noon". Some people would think it a bit creepy to watch movies in a cemetary within spitting distance of the the dearly departed. I thought it was pretty cool...knowing that Marilyn Monroe, Rudolph Valentino and Douglas Fairbanks were just steps away. The atmosphere was jovial and not in the least bit creepy. The ultimate Hollywood experience!

The final day - Sunday - came all too soon. We got up early and headed to brekkie at Swinger's. Tasty and filling, the whole grain banana pancakes were delicious...and I usually dont like banana pancakes and not entirely sure why I ordered them in the first place, but Im glad I did! :)

After hopping on the PCH, we headed North to Malibu Lagoon State Park so that J and bf could take a surfing lesson. There were so many surfers in the water, it looked like a gathering of seals! As I'm unable to partake in most water sports due to an unfortunate defect in my inner ear (my big disappointment in life), I watched from dry land while Sister and her bf surfed...or in Sister's case, attempted to surf. She did an awesome job though and actually made it up a few times! So proud of her!

Heading further north on the PCH, we hit Neptune's Net for lunch. Being from the East Coast I was a bit skeptical that this roadside seafood joint was going to measure up. I'd heard some pretty good reviews though and felt I had to give it a try. I was amazed at the number of bikers in attendance; Harleys parked on both sides of the road by the dozens. When you walk in and line up, you are routed by the refrigerators to grab your drinks before ordering at the counter. The fridges were stocked high with 40s and supersize bottles of soda, water and juice. God bless the U.S.A.!

Again - totally not disappointed. I had the lobster roll...the first lobster roll I've had outside New Hampshire in, I'm pretty sure, *EVER*. Very tasty, even if it was served on a sour dough roll!

At this point, the only thing left to do was to take me to the airport. The drive to Long Beach was pretty uneventful. Driving into the airport, Sister's guy asked me which airline I was flying so they could pull up to the right door. I assured him that wouldnt be a problem, seeing as how the terminal had only one door leading to the check-in stations. Pulling up to the white zone, I noted the time...two hours before take-off. At any other airport, this might be just enough time to make it through security and to the gate. At LGB, I had enough time to walk back to L.A. and return to the airport and still make it to the gate with an hour to spare.

No worries...I had some blogging to do... ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

My own personal L.A. Story, Pt. 2

The rest of my vacation was relatively calm compared to how it began. That being said, it was still an eventful week. Even as I write this, two days after returning home, I still feel the pangs of that kind of exhaustion that only comes from total relaxation and breaking away from the chaos of everyday life.

Monday was a very relaxed day; I slept in till about 9 before waking up feeling energized and ready to hit the beach. Sister lives about 3 blocks away from the beach, so I could walk it easily. Even tho I still had the camping funk on me, I opted to forego a shower until I came back from sunning myself. Say what you will, but I was not feeling compelled to expend energy on such mundane tasks as showering when the ocean was beckoning me to its shore!

After a quick coffee and croissant at the local cafe, I hiked the eighth of a mile to the beach, found a spot and laid there for the next three hours, reading and soaking up the sun. Fortunately I had the foresight to pack my SPF 55! In between chapters, I would sit up and look out at the waves crashing against the sand, watching children run in and out of the water. The ocean has always had a pull for me; with the exception of maybe 5 years out of my life, I have always lived within a 2 hour drive of the beach. As I sat there, I did what I often do when gazing at the waves and looked out toward the horizon, letting my mind wander; meditating about life and wondering where...where in the world was he. "He" meaning that one person that is supposed to complete me. Ever since I was a little girl, I've pondered this puzzling question that seems to be without answer. Somehow staring into the ocean prompts me to have these thoughts, wondering where the love of my life is...is he on the other side somewhere, aimlessly wandering the planet, perhaps looking across at me, wondering where I am?

And then I realized I was getting awfully close to sun stroke and decided it was a good idea to head home for a much needed shower and nap! I wanted to be completely refreshed that night to see my friend Chris Dallman, who was performing at the Hotel Cafe in West Hollywood. Sister was home by 7 and we took off for the show, her new boyfriend in tow. We got there right in the nick of time, as Chris was taking the stage. In true form, his performance was stellar! Chris is a natural storyteller and his love of music and self-effacing attitude make him likable and endearing. A handsome man, he's easy on the eyes as well. His husband is a lucky guy! ;)

After Chris' performance, we went outside to say hi and thank him for an awesome show. It was there that we met up with a bunch of folks I had met online. As you know from prior posts, I am an avid Tweeter (Twitterer?) and have made the acquaintance of several "tweeps" from around the world, many of whom were in town for Comic-Con. Although polite and friendly, I was a little put off at how stand-offish some of them appeared to be. There were a couple exceptions, but generally speaking, there just wasnt that same...effervesence... that existed in our online communiques. Stands to reason I suppose...people are generally different online than they are "IRL" (that's cyber-speak for "In Real Life"). Maybe they were just shy.

After attempting to make conversation for a few minutes, we bid the tweeps good evening and safe travels on their way to Comic-Con and headed back into the bar, where Sister, Sister's boyfriend and I polished off a couple beverages before heading to Toi Thai in West Hollywood for some late night nosh. Tasty, but indistinguishable from other Thai food establishments that I so often frequent in Seattle save for the giant papier mache dragon hanging from the ceiling.

The next morning, I got up at the crack of dawn so that I could have use of Cosmo while Sister was at work. We took a shortcut through Laurel Canyon and out the other side to the Valley, where she works as an Assistant Director on a popular NBC series. Her stage was in an industrial section of Van Nuys, surrounded by construction company offices and auto auction places...many of which, she informed me, are covers for porn studios. Apparently "Nights of Neon" is not just a purveyor of fine neon products...

After dropping Sister at her workplace, I made my way back to Playa Del Rey, where I took a little nap before heading out to Mecca: Amoeba Records in Hollywood. A little known fact about me is that I collect vinyl records. Or rather, I've just started to collect vinyl for the first time since I was in high school. A lifelong avid music lover, I have recently accepted the fact that nothing can ever replace the look, feel and sound of real, honest-to-goodness vinyl LPs. I'd been on the hunt for a couple of hard-to-find discs that had eluded me in Seattle. Chris had turned me on to Amoeba Records. I understood from him and from others it was "The Place" for vinyl in L.A. and I was not disappointed. Not only did I manage to locate the albums I was looking for in the first place, I found some other treasures. 7 vinyl LPs and 1 DVD cost me a grand total of $34. And the cashier gave me a bunch of free swag...audiophiles need to stick together!

Soon, it was time to head out and pick up Sister. Not to put too fine a point on it, but L.A. traffic pretty much sucks. I decided to take off around 5PM, figuring that I should make it to her workplace in time to pick her up at 7. Two hours later I was still sitting in the gnarliest traffic I had ever seen on I-405! I gotta tell you....after a week of sitting in L.A. traffic, I will *never* complain about Seattle traffic ever again!

Wednesday was another beach day. It was also the day that I decided the L.A. public transit system had to be a more preferable option to sitting in traffic. After my morning visit to the Church of Neptune, I decided that I would take the bus down the road to Marina del Rey for lunch. It was only 3 miles away...couldnt be that hard, could it? Two buses and an hour later, I arrived at my destination. I should have clued in when I texted Sister about the adventure I was having, and she replied with "if you end up in Compton, text me right away". Too late now...I was already in Marina and needed to find my way back, but not before I had the yummiest burger ever at The Counter. (Note to self - must look into franchise opportunity...)

As it always seems to happen when I ride the bus, I end up engaging in conversation with perfect strangers. In this case, I met a woman about my mother's age, maybe a bit younger, who was coming home from a doctor's appointment. She flopped down on the bench next to me as I was waiting on the "Big Blue Bus" and asked me how my day was going. No sooner did I get the words out that I was having a splendid day, she began to regale me with the tale of her aching back and how she was too nervous to be honest with her doctor about how much pain she was in as she didnt want to have surgery. This led to a drawn out soliloquy of how she couldnt find a job, didnt have a car, may have to move out of her apartment in Playa, hadnt had a date in 23 years and couldnt lose weight to help her back problem because she had to rely on donated canned goods from her church for sustenance - all of which she attributed to her back pain. In spite of this ongoing tale of woe I found her to be completely charming, her smile contagious, and since it turned out we were going the same direction, I stayed close to ensure that I got on the right bus.

As we waited on the second leg of the trip, we sat outside a liquor store. At this point, my "travel buddy" had made several comments about how thirsty and hot she was, but also how she couldnt afford to buy a cold drink as she had no money. I went into the liquor store and purchased a couple bottles of cold water. Handing her one, she was both grateful and overtly thankful. For me, it wasnt a big deal...I've purchased many a bottle of water in my day. She considered it to be a "huge gift" and thanked me again and again. She then continued to confide in me about her life, taking care to ask me questions about my life. She told me how she had considered becoming a nun, and perhaps she would still do so as her options were otherwise limited. She pondered if the local convent would accept her if she couldnt kneel and pray, due to her back problems, but perhaps they would let her sit and pray. I assured her they likely would.

This woman was at once endearing and somewhat captivating, a reminder that even when things are at their worst, life still must go on and one must play whatever hand they are dealt. She got off the bus before me. I bid her farewell, wishing her good luck and watched her hobble up the street as the bus continued to the next stop, which was mine.

I hope she is well...

To be continued...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My own personal L.A. Story, Pt. 1

What a week!

I've spent the past 8 days in (or near) the City of Angels, hanging with my younger sister, spending the majority of my time being a beach bum. This has been the single most eventful vacation I had ever had...and I truly hope it will continue in the very near future.

My journey began a week and a day ago as I arrived into Long Beach Airport on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon. Having just left behind the chilly morning mist in Seattle, my Levis and long sleeve top were ill-suited for the weather. My flight was nearly 45 minutes early, as I learned when I texted my sister and she was still a ways from the airport (e.g. - had not yet left her place). She told me to grab a cocktail at the bar and she would text me when she arrived. If you have ever been to LGB you will understand just why that is amusing. This is clearly the airport that time forgot and not only is there no bar in the terminal, the baggage claim is outside in a covered area of the entryway, cooled by giant fans. One gets the sense they are arriving to an exotic island nation in the Caribbean and not the rundown city of Long Beach.

I grabbed a Vitamin Water from the coffee cart outside and found a spot in the shade in an effort to keep cool. A short while later, Sister drove up in her eco-friendly Prius, a bright orange kayak latched to the roof. Hugs and smiles were exchanged. She informed me the kayak's name was Carrot (of course it was!) and he would be accompanying us to the River Kern, where I had reluctantly agreed to spend the weekend camping, while Sister kayaked down the "Killer Kern". What the hell, I thought...I'm turning 40 soon and it's about time I stepped outside my comfort zone. As my brother pointed out though, there is stepping outside your comfort zone, then there is making a long jump outside your comfort zone; as my idea of roughing it to this point was a stay in a Doubletree, I was pretty much trekking through unchartered territory.

After checking the ties on the kayak, Sister and I took off for Points North. She pointed out that we should be conscious of the kayak, as even though it was securly attached to the roof of Cosmo (the Prius), we just need to make sure the straps dont loosen. Up the 5 we went, chatting amicably and getting caught up. At a point midway on the Grapevine, I noticed the wind whistle around the kayak changed pitch. No sooner had I generated the thought did we hear a *thunk* and both of us looked over to find Carrot hanging off the side of Cosmo. Ever the laid-back, chill California girl, my sister assured me there were no worries and she would just pull over and re-attach the boat. The words weren't out of her mouth when Carrot took off and landed gloriously in the right lane on I-5. Sister still had not realized this when I told her she needed to stop now.

"Why? Where is the boat"

"In the ROAD"


Cosmo barely came to a stop when she leapt out and ran down the shoulder of the 5, towards oncoming traffic in her flippy mini and Havis, waving at the semi barreling towards Carrot. Fortunately the driver saw her, saw Carrot, quickly surmissed the situation and hauled ass into the next lane, while slowing down in an effort to slow the traffic around him. This enabled Sister to leap into the lane, grab Carrot and drag him back onto the shoulder.

Mind you, this all happened in the span of about 30 seconds.

While Sister hitched the 50-lb/6ft boat onto her 5'2" frame and started walking back towards the car, I began to pick up the pieces of the now destroyed roof rack that had essentially fallen apart while we were driving through high winds on an elevated portion of I-5. If you have never driven the Grapevine, it's a long, winding section of Interstate that traverses mountains and valleys for several miles outside L.A., towards Bakersfield. The wind that day was much stronger than we thought and was the likely culprit for sending the kayak flying in the first place.

To Sister's credit, she held it together. She went into crisis mode and immediately attempted to reassmble the destroyed roof rack. When it became obvious that was a lost cause, we attempted to fit Carrot into Cosmo, around all the camping gear and my luggage.

Want to know happens when two blond sisters try and force a kayak into a Prius?

The rear view mirror is ripped away from the windshield and (literally) hanging from a thread of a wire. We didnt think about this as we yelled "PUSH" from the rear of the Prius.

In a situation such as this, all one can do is laugh. Or curl up into a tight ball, beating your fists about your head, wailing for it to stop. We chose the former option.

Eventually, AAA was called and we got assistance with getting Carrot and Cosmo to the next exit so that we could regroup and figure out our next move. After emptying the vehicle, CAREFULLY pushing Carrot into the Prius and repacking everything in and around the kayak (duh!), we had enough room for me to drive and Sister to lay in the fetal position for the remaining 2 hours of our journey to the River Kern.

By the time we arrived at our campsite, it was close to 11PM. Sister was in no way deterred. She expertly set up the tent, with all the amenities fit for a restful night sleep (as restful as one can get in 85 and humid weather in the middle of the Sequoia National Park!) She even built a campfire and got us set up for roasted marshmallows. She's a rock star, that Sister of mine!

As there was a nice, albeit large, Filipino family sharing the campground around us, I inquired as to where I could change out of my Levis. Sister pointed out that it was pitch black and I should just change wherever I was standing.



What I didnt realize was that 6 feet away was an SUV filled with Filipino teenage boys who opted to sleep in the truck, rather than under the stars. I'm pretty sure I heard "Take it off, baby!" in Tagalog as I was trying to change out of my shirt!

The next morning arrived early, burning hot & humid. After packing up the campsite and indulging in a yummy brekkie in town, Sister and her kayaking buddies took off and left me with Cosmo. I had been informed that the Giant Sequoias were just 10 miles up the road, so I thought I would check them out.

40 miles later, I finally stumbled upon the Trail of 100 Giants. It was a nice mid-day hike through the woods, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. Making my way back into town, I camped out in the Park by the river where I was eventually recruited to shuttle Kayakers back to their put-in location (kayak-speak for where that day's run began - in this case 10 miles away), but was more than happy to oblige.

Eventually I met up with Sister as she finished her final run; we drove home while she basked in the afterglow of the River. I was secretly jealous of this love affair she was having and really enjoyed listening to her stories on the way back to her home in Playa, and the start to the second part of my vacation.


To be continued...

Friday, May 28, 2010


I’m sorry but I gotta say it…I have a real problem with people who appear to use other, more connected individuals to get to a person of note for the simple reason of being able to state “Yeh…I hang with him”. It pisses me off to no end. Although not a new concept, social networking has exposed this behavior, and in some ways exacerbated it, to the point where people are literally clawing over others virtually to get the attention of those who may be able to help them achieve their goal. Proper networking etiquette is largely non-existent and needs to be redefined for the online space. There are times when it is appropriate to network, but then there are times when it is just selfishly using someone to get a little fleeting moment of notoriety for yourself. If you are going to go to the effort of making nice with someone you met online, do it for what they have to offer, not for whom they know. Particularly if the only reason you want to meet the object of your desire is just say that you did.

On the flip side of the coin, equally problematic for me are those who name-call and make accusatory statements about the aforementioned individuals, who have no real reason on which to base their harsh judgments. To the people flinging mud at those “working the system”, calling them names and making unsubstantiated allegations: figure out a more diplomatic way to state your feelings or just dont say anything at all. This isn’t the high school cafeteria and it is NOT ok to call anyone an unflattering and rude name, especially when you don’t know all the facts. You are just coming across as acting petty and jealous. Notice I said you were ACTING petty and jealous, not that you were petty and jealous. I am not in a position to make a character judgment about you, as you are not in a position to make character judgments about someone else when you dont know the whole story. So please stop flooding my Twitter feed with your griping!

To those who are the targets of said petty and jealous behavior – one little bit of advice. Don’t brag about it. If you don’t want people to give you a hard time then BE COOL. You don’t need to tell the world your business. There is a way to express your joy at achieving whatever it is you set out to achieve without coming across as if you are using people to get what you want. In addition, if you truly want to build relationships with these folks, then put as much effort into getting to know who they are and what they have to offer as you would friends you make IRL (for those not fluent in netspeak, that means “In Real Life”). Otherwise, you should not be surprised about the pushback you receive from those who will be quick to judge based on your braggadocio and random “nah-nee-nah-nee-boo-boo” posts you make online. These are real people with whom you are dealing, with feelings and emotions. They do not like to be used or made to feel like they have nothing more to offer than who they happen to be friendly with.

I’m sure you may be wondering what has sparked this rant. A variety of things have led me to this moment, and up to now I have been holding my tongue. I’ve witnessed some very childish behavior on various social networking sites that I belong to and it is not coming from children. It is alarming the behavior that some adults engage in online, cowardly hiding behind the artificial wall that is the Internet.

So that is what I have to say…and if you don’t like it, oh well. I’m entitled to my opinion.

Be thoughtful about what you put out there. Karma’s a bitch and that bitch will come back and bite you in the arse if you aren’t careful. At the end of the day, for your sake and mine, keep it classy.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pasta a la M.E.!

As often as I get Writer's Block, I just as often am afflicted with Chef's Block. As with my cyclical moods for writing, I go through these episodes where I am feeling especially creative in the kitchen. I am in the midst of one of these cooking frenzies right now and find myself coming up with some pretty tasty things. Tonight I created "Pasta a la M.E.!"...a dish brimming over with so much flavor and healthy goodness, my mouth is doing the happy dance! Yes - sometimes I get it right!

You should know that I dont really believe in exact recipes. If cooking is not instinctual, then that takes some of the joy out of it. With the exception of baking, there is very little you can do to completely muck up a dish as long as you know the ingredients you are working with and have an idea of how they will taste together. For me, the key is thinking outside the box, putting together ingredients that you may not immediately think will go together. It is with this in mind that I created this dish, featuring some of my favorite flavors! I hope you enjoy this as much as I have enjoyed conceiving and indulging in it! Word to the wise, these are only approximate measures. Please use your best judgement. You can adjust the spice up and down by using plain olives or adding red chili flakes are your will.

2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
About 20 large, pitted green olives marinated in chili flakes, chopped
1 can of diced tomatoes (any brand, any flavor - I used green pepper and onion)
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 jar Barilla marinara sauce (or your favorite brand; Barilla happens to be mine)
1 lb of medium shrimp (cooked or raw - up to you)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper to taste
1 Bottle of Luna di Luna Merlot-Cabarnet (for the cook)

Over medium-high heat saute the garlic and onions w/ salt & pepper in EVOO until tender. Add the olives and saute for about 5 minutes on medium. Add the spinach and saute for another 5-8 minutes. Add the tomatoes & sauce and stir. Let simmer together for about 10 minutes, then add the shrimp. Simmer on medium for about 15 minutes. Serve over your pasta of choice; I choose whole wheat linguine and it was PHENOMENAL! Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy with red wine.

As with any sauce, this will taste better the next day so if you can, make ahead and reheat.

Buen Apetito!

Double Trouble, Double Fun!

This review was previously posted at The Chris Dallman Connection. I thought I would post here for reasons which will become clear very soon! :)

Having already made the acquaintance of Christopher Dallman and Aiden James in the virtual world, I thought before attending their show at the Skylark Club and Café in West Seattle on Sunday night that I was going to be in for a mellow, entertaining evening featuring two guys and their guitars. I wasn’t prepared for such energetic and brilliantly charged performances!

Unfamiliar with the Skylark Club, I had heard that it was your typical divey Seattle music joint and not to expect much. Of course, the individual who told me this has previously performed at Benaroya Hall and The Triple Door; we’ll forgive him if his thinking was a little skewed! As it turned out, the Skylark is a cool, hipster - albeit small - venue that affords an intimate and personal setting with the musicians who grace the tiny stage. Save for the creepy Addams Family-style portrait on the side of the stage with eyes that seemed to penetrate through the darkest of souls, the Skylark is a great venue and served these songsters well on the final stop of their Double Trouble Tour.

Once my eyes adjusted to the dimly lit space, I scanned the room for my friends. Spotting them at the bar, I walked toward the front of the room only to look up and see the lithe frame of Chris walking towards me with a contagious grin spread across his face and arms open wide for a hug. Even though we only know each other from online communiqués, I instantly felt like I was reuniting with a long lost friend. Every bit as warm and open as his online persona, Chris is a truly affable soul.

After the friendly greeting, he quickly hurried off to tend to final preparations before taking the stage and I sat down next to my friends at the bar, with Aiden James on the other side of me. Aiden was on the phone when I arrived and beat a courtesy retreat to the back of the room when it was time for the spotlight to be on Chris, so I wasn’t able to say Hi to him right away. Within a few moments, the opening chords of ‘Count the Shadows” filled the small space as Chris opened his set. I am most familiar with his last two albums Never Was and Sad Britney, and had not heard many of the tracks from his freshman offering Race the Light. I was glad his set included older and newer compositions as it allowed me to get a full appreciation of the long journey he has made to that small stage in West Seattle.

In addition to familiar tracks such as “A Little Bit of Blue” (on which he was accompanied by Aiden in a synchronous harmony that belied their still fresh collaboration), “Motel Room”, “Subterranean” and “Over My Head”, the audience was treated to a couple covers of Prince’s “When You Were Mine” (or Cyndi Lauper depending on which decade you were born in!) and Madonna’s “Borderline”. The inspired “Anthem”, written by Chris the day after Prop 8 passed in California, transformed Chris into a modern-day folk singer.

During the Intermission, I had an opportunity to chat with Chris. A naturally friendly, outgoing guy he’s easily approachable and comfortable to be around. Taking a break from the club and getting a breath of fresh air, we chatted like old friends trading notes about life in L.A. and life in Seattle.

His cohort and partner-in-crime for the Double Trouble Tour, Aiden James is just as friendly and easy-going, if more serious and – well, for lack of a better term – moody. But not in that annoying kind of way that makes you want to roll your eyes and slap him up the side of the head. As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed more and more that the things I observe first in others are usually those things that I know to be true about myself but may not necessarily let me them be known right away for fear of appearing vulnerable. It was that vulnerability that I sensed in Aiden almost immediately from the moment I first saw him, sequestered at the end of the bar, deep in conversation on the phone. I could immediately tell that he was a serious person –serious about his craft, passionate about his life’s path; someone who channels his passion into a creative outlet, beautiful music being the output of those efforts. A man with a dream he so desperately wants to realize and in Aiden’s case, he is savvy and motivated enough to make it happen.

To be true, I’ve not taken the time to listen to Aiden’s music as much as I have to Chris. This is in no way a reflection of Aiden. It’s my failing – and my loss - for not making the time. I have heard his track “On the Run” off the album of the same name, and seen the accompanying video, but hearing it live is so much better than through my ear buds or factory stock computer speakers.

As Aiden made his way through his set, I felt connected to him through his soulful, heartfelt lyrics that were so very real they were palpable. Like Chris, he stopped between songs to tell the stories that inspired the tunes, relating life lessons learned throughout his 27 years. It’s always fascinating to hear the stories that inspired the lyrics. “Mifflin County”, “You and He” and the unreleased “On My Sleeve” created a nexus with the audience that will last long after Aiden returns to his hometown of Philadelphia. His medley homage – humorous and respectful - to Lady Gaga was met with glee from the audience and left people wanting more.

As a writer, I take much inspiration from those who expend a lot of energy creating and putting their wares out there to be listened to and judged by the critical masses. Christopher Dallman and Aiden James are the next generation of indie musicians. They are musical orators who are telling their stories and sharing their journey along the way with those that will stop and listen. For myself, this show was one that will stick out in my mind. I hope that the next time I see them live will come much sooner, rather than later.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crazy for G!

As a precocious 8-year old, I discovered the truth about Santa Claus and immediately confronted my mother. She made me promise not to reveal my discovery to my younger siblings. This killed me as I wanted nothing more than to spill this monumental discovery, but knew I couldn’t til the time was right, lest I bear the Wrath of Mom! That’s sort of how I felt about Griffin Anthony’s new album – “Crazy Ways” when I was fortunate enough to get a preview of this album before its official release. And I can safely say now - from the first note to the last, I wanted to shout from the rooftops – “LISTEN UP PEOPLE! I got something good to tell you!!”

I’ve been following Griffin’s progress in the creation of his first LP for more than a year, since being introduced to him by a mutual friend. His is a study in creative energy and perseverance. At 26, Griffin knows where he wants to go in life and as this album clearly demonstrates, his path is clear. A talented singer/songwriter, Griffin has maximized his life experience to create a body of work that rings through with strong lyrics and masterful harmonies. As I have stood on the sidelines watching the album come together and talking to Griffin off and on throughout the process, I feel fortunate to have had a front-row seat to witness the hard work and dedication that went into it by a young man with the talent and passion to succeed in achieving what others only dream about.

And the work speaks loud and clear: Griffin’s vocals carry a smooth cadence…a bedroom voice that runs shivers down your spine and practically makes you squeal in delight. The title track “Crazy Ways” is a head-bopping little diddy that makes you want to sing along even if you don’t know the lyrics. As this first single was released in October, I had heard it before but wanted to listen again in order to get the full effect of the compilation. My initial reaction was reinvigorated as I turned up the volume and went along for the ride. Speaking of rides, the next track – “So You “ – called to mind the perfect ‘driving-home-after-a-busy-day‘ song, with no traffic around you and a wide open road where you can open it up, settle in and just cruise along. “Keep It Honest” is a funky-cool, bluesy piece that extols the Wisdom of the Ages from someone who was barely out of nappies as I was headed off to high school.

Then there is “Sleepy Sunday “…when I heard the original version I couldn’t help thinking what a great song it was. It was my favorite off Griffin’s first EP (released in 2007) and I was really excited for him when it was picked up by ABC. I had heard he was re-working it for the LP and was a little nervous about what I would hear. But let me tell you something – whereas Version 1 was a fun, flirty tune, Version 2 is sexy and seductive.

My two favorite tracks – “Without my Blocks “ and “Hurry Up “ are polar opposites. One is mellow and laidback, the other calls forth the Gods of Blues & Funk and invites the listener to get up and shake their booty to a riveting beat and bass line

Crazy Ways puts some volumes of work by far more seasoned musicians to shame. Griffin Anthony is a force to be reckoned with, and with this freshman offering he is going to help bring forth a new generation of music lovers in search of more substance and soul, and just really want to get down with the music…the basic, primal passion that moves all of us to dance and bop our heads in time to the rhythm and rejoice in the melody. Knowing what I know about G, he was born to do this.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


As a long-term user of various social networking sites, I find my preferences shift over time as new sites rise in popularity over others and things evolve to suit my own changing needs. It started years ago in college when I was frequenting chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards, trolling for pen friends and such. Gradually I made the jump from chat rooms to online forums to social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook. For the most part these days, I can be found on Twitter. (The full circle journey from sparse bulletin boards through the electronic labyrinth of more complex online forums and back to the micro-blogging tool that is Twitter does not escape notice.)

On Twitter I have tweeps that I follow and tweeps who follow me (not necessarily one and the same). The folks I follow, I believe, are representative of both personal taste, interests and a random smattering from my friends and family circle. I first dipped my toe in the Twitter pond about a year ago, having the virtues of Twitter being extolled upon me at a department-wide summit. I caught the Twitter-bug big time and initially set up my account to follow other like-minded co-workers, in an exchange of ideas and knowledge sharing. Gradually my Tweet Feed has evolved into a mish-mash of professional, personal and TMI tweets from all corners of the globe.

During this past year, I’ve made many an observation about Twitter. First and foremost, I firmly believe that Twitter is guilty of creating a false sense of closeness to people that you have never met before. Case in point: I am a fan of a certain Hollywood Actor who shall remain nameless. This actor took a long time to warm up to the idea of Twitter and has previously spoken out against social networking sites as it was his belief it did society a disservice. I’ve found many share this belief…I do not. For all its shortcomings I firmly believe it is a useful tool when used properly. But I digress. That is not what this blog is really about.

In any event, said Actor has taken to tweeting quite a bit in the past month. Maybe he’s feeling generous with his thoughts, maybe he wants to reach out more to his fanbase, who knows… But following every tweet there is intense discussion amongst many of his more ardent fans speculating as to what he meant by his tweet. In response, some fans tweet him back with replies that are akin to something you would say to your Uncle sitting across from you at the dinner table. Not someone you have never met, nor are you likely to ever meet.

Then there are the psychotweeters; those people who repeatedly tweet the Actor in the hopes that maybe – just maybe – they will receive a tweet in reply. One woman tweeted the Actor constantly, and when she didn’t get a reply she UNFOLLOWED him out of spite. Then the next day, she RE-FOLLOWED him and told him she was sorry for unfollowing him in the first place. Still not sure what her point was, as I am certain with 117000+ followers, one follow-unfollow-follow gesture would go unnoticed.

Twitter also creates a false sense of security. It makes you feel like you are having a private conversation with someone only to all of a sudden have another of your mutual followers pop in and opine on your tweet. Sort of akin to being in a corner of a crowded room with a confidante, only to have that annoying chatty Cathy butt into your conversation. Certainly you have the option of sending the other person a DM (direct message), but that’s kind of the same as turning your back on a group of people all having a discussion together and whispering into your friend’s ear so no one can hear. What would Miss Manners say?

And let’s not forget the TMI tweets…I am also guilty of those. Tweets about certain bodily functions, drunk tweets, rant tweets, things that really shouldn’t be out there on the web discoverable for all to see. Granted, unlike spoken word, Twitter has a delete function which allows you to take back something you said out of anger, vanity or stupidity but you still put it there. And millions of people can potentially see it (not likely in most cases, but still a possibility!).

So – let this be a cautionary tale to you. Tweet wise; never Foolish. If in doubt, delete-the-tweet. You never know who could be...twatching!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Yesterday. as I was going through my morning routine, I found myself falling behind schedule and had to forego the usual stop at the cafe near Miss D's daycare. I hopped onto the Yellow Brick Road (I-90), drove through the Enchanted Forest (Mercer Island) and didnt stop till I got to Wonderland (Redmond). Upon arriving in the city that never sleeps (thanks to the 'Softie Geeks pulling all-night coding fests and bug smashes), I decided to stop for my morning nosh at the closest Starbucks, which also happens to be in a Safeway. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone and pick up some healthy snacks to keep in the office as I've developed a nasty habit of visiting the vending machines @ work lately and needed something else handy to prevent me from complete and utter self-destruction.

As I wandered through the store, picking up apples and almonds, mulling over what to grab for brekkie, I found myself in the bakery. I smiled to myself as I perused the selection of bagels, thinking back to that fateful day 14 years ago when I was treated to both the worst and the most effective pickup line ever.

I will never forget it.

I had just moved to Phoenix the week before and was shopping at the local Safeway. I was standing in the produce section, pondering the asparagus. All of a sudden this friendly looking gentleman came up to me and said in a lightly accented voice:

"Have you tried the bagels here?".

Snapped out of my asparagus haze, I replied "I'm sorry? What?"

He laughed and repeated the question: "Have you tried the bagels here? They are very good! Just like in New York!"

Me: "Wow...ok! That's good to know! Thank you!"

I'm fuzzy on the conversational details that came after that, but I do know the friendly gentleman accompanied me as I finished the rest of my shopping and then escorted me to the cafe, where we had a lovely little chat. That impromptu coffee date turned into dinner, which led to a three year relationship (off and on) with him. He turned out to be completely unreliable, emotionally, and would occasionally disappear, only to resurface weeks later as if everything was normal. I never knew what his story was but I had my suspicions about him being in a marriage of convenience (he didnt pick up that accent in Phoenix, that's for sure!). "We" eventually ended when I moved away and lost his phone number.

As unavailable as he was, in many respects it was the healthiest relationship I've ever had. I always knew where I stood with him. He never gave me the impression that we were going to be Forever. It was always about the Now and enjoying each other's company without concern for Tomorrow. And even though some will disagree with me, as much as I knew that he was withholding the truth from me, he never told me an outright lie.

After all, those bagels really were as good as the ones in New York!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Those who know me well are probably aware of the personal turmoil plaguing my family over the past 3 years. For those who don't, the sweetened condensed version is that my father was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in August 2006. My father - a career foreign service officer who received countless accolades and commendations over 25 years of service, had his efforts documented in a book, and was well-respected among his peers - had all of a sudden become a poster child for government corruption.

What ensued was a crazy 3-year spiral into a legal quagmire, not to mention an incredible amount of stress placed on myself and my family as we all attempted to make sense of what happened. My father accepted a gift from someone he thought was a friend. Unfortunately what he did not stop and think about was the perception that this friend was also a user of the bureaucratic process for which my father was responsible for managing. At the end, the judge and the defense agreed to a lesser charge of accepting an illegal gratuity and my father - the man who never even jaywalks - was sentenced to 12 months and a day in a federal prison camp.

I've not talked about this in detail until now and frankly I dont know where this is coming from, but I just sat down and started typing in this moment and this is what come out.

Imagine going along, living your life as always. Going through the motions, addressing your own set of stresses and worries, celebrating the happy times.

Imagine you have hurt your arm at the gym and are on your way to the doctor's office, about to get on the freeway when you receive a phone call from your mother who is in obvious distress. "Dad's been arrested!".

Everything stops. Your head fills with static. You cant focus on the road in front of you so you pull off into a parking lot.

Then you scream:"What?! What are you talking about?!" as your mother begins to sob into the phone.

Then you realize you are still moving through the parking lot and there is someone following you. You aimlessly drive, not sure where you are going and getting really pissed off at the other driver who is still following you. Slam on the brakes and wave them by. "Mom! Calm down! What happened?!"

And then she tells you. They had pictures. And video. He lied to her about that business trip.

He went to Las Vegas with the girls and his friend, the Indian businessman with the jewelry export business. The girls...the Canadian strippers from the bar he was frequenting since moving to Toronto two years earlier. Mid-life crisis, Mom had said. t's ok. They are just friends.

The jewelry - the ruby rings. His "connection".

Friends...Reassure your mother everything will be ok. You lied. Get off the phone and call your brother in Italy. What time is it there? Who cares. He needs to know. He hears the news and says he will call Mom.

Sister needs to know, but she is working and highly stressed at the moment. Call her husband. Ask for his help in breaking the news to her. Not home. Leave a message for him to call you right away.

Call a friend. Ask him to come meet you. You dont know where you are; you cant think straight. Finally you recognize the building across the street and tell him to go there. Static. Nothing but static. Then you remember. You work with lawyers. Call one.

Called one. Then two. Then a third. Friend comes. Listens. Doesnt know what to say.

Awkward...What can he say? Nothing in life prepares you for this.

More static. What to do?

Go back to work. Try and be normal. Like nothing happened.

That doesnt happen. You go back to the office and break down. The static turns into a waterfall. A co-worker tries to console you but you are inconsolable. Where is your manager?

You need to talk to her for she is wise and can help you. She's not there. On vacation. You go home after asking the co-worker not to tell anyone. She promises.

Where is Mom? Call her back. Diplomatic security escorted her home from the Consulate and confiscated some evidence. She is lost. Doesnt know what to do.

Where is Dad? We dont know. Sister calls in hysterics. She talked to Mom already. What do we do?

Dont know. Just dont know what to do.

Calls. More lawyers. Mom finally hears from Dad. He claims it was a setup. She yells at him. He says he wont blame her if she wants to divorce him.

This was Wednesday.

Bond hearing is Thursday. $100K. But they will let him out of jail for $10K.

Sister has the money. Her husband is not working so he flys out to post the bond on Monday.

Over the weekend, you dont know how he is or what is happening to him. Just that he is in a DC jail with drug dealers, rapists and murderers. He is 60 and in poor health. Then the media gets wiff of it. All of a sudden, every single major news outlet is reporting the incident. Blogs are posted. He traded lap dances for missiles with Osama bin Laden. Idiots.

You pray your co-workers dont find out. Get in touch with your manager over the weekend and she does have words of wisdom for you. Everything will be alright. You dont have to talk about it at work. It's a private family matter and whatever help you need, let her know.

Unfortunately, it gets out at work. They read the papers, these lawyers. Manager goes around telling them under no circumstances are they to talk about it with anyone or with me. They seem to listen. But still...pity in their eyes.

Your mother is lost. You take off for Toronto, hoping to offer some comfort to her. When you get there, she is surprisingly composed. At this point, you have been running 24/7 on adrenalin. You let your guard down, sit in the exact middle of the couch and just let it all out. You have to...otherwise, where will it go but to that empty place in the pit of your soul, building in pressure until you finally explode. Best to let it out now.

More Lawyers. More phone calls. Public defender says Plead Guilty. Dad says he is not guilty. Released but with conditions. House arrest. But which house? He doesnt own a home in the US. He moves back in with his mother until Mom can pack up their belongings and return to the US. Eventually house arrest is lifted. He is free to roam about the country. His passport is confiscated of course, but then so is your mother's. What. The. Hell!?

Finally a lawyer is found. $100K retainer.

Savings - gone. Trust - gone. Dignity - gone.

Three years of stress, tears, arguments and false hope. Then finally, it comes. He takes a plea. The charge is lessened, but still - prison. He must be made an example out of.

So there he is. And here I am. And we are each healing in our own way. Our own time.Through the miracle of modern technology, I am able to keep in touch with him via email. His musings from "the inside" are introspective and thoughtful. It's interesting to read how he is going through the process of adjusting to life in prison, as well as allowing for the healing of wounds inflicted since that fateful day in August 2006 and even long before that. In much the same way, my family is healing. We all suffered greatly as a result of this unfortunate episode. We lost trust in him and in the system in which we grew up. We lost friendships and lived in fear that people would judge us for his actions. That fear subsided over time, as we came to the realization that we were not responsible for his actions and if we lost friends over it, then those were not people we should have in our lives anyway.

Lost money, lost friends, lost time.

But we are better people for having weathered such a turmultuous storm.

To be continued...