Thursday, April 14, 2005

The End...and a Beginning...

We left the Caribbean on March 31, 2005 and moved to California. I created a new blog to go with a new chapter in my life. You can find it here: California Fever.

Monday, March 14, 2005


Boy, are we ever packin' up! We got a LOT done this weekend. Yesterday the boyfriend said, "I'm gonna have you packed in three days, baby!" And by god, I think he means it.

Saturday my pal took me out for a lovely lunch at the neighborhood resort (I use the term loosely). She came by afterwards to pick up the items she'd purchased. While we were at lunch, boyfriend had sorted through the cabinet on the balcony that serves as sort of his toolshed. By the time we returned, he had a bunch of tools laid out and priced, and she bought quite a few of them for her husband.

SIDEBAR: So we're sitting under an umbrella next to the pool at lunch and she says, "Did you hear that Oprah's either here or was here?" "NO. I didn't see anything about it in the paper!" Her, giggling conspiratorially, "It wasn't IN the paper. But evidently her production team or magazine staff was here to do a shoot. They did a swimsuit makeover with (local attorney who's the ex-wife of an a very prominent attorney here)." "What?!" "Yeah, she was having dinner at (THE RESTAURANT THAT'S RIGHT BEHIND OUR CONDOS) and they (Oprah's team) asked her if she wanted a swimsuit makeover. She's going to be in the June issue." "What?!" (My verbal skills are unmatched.)

But back to the packing... Saturday we did a quick run to K-Mart for packing tape, etc. and to shop for luggage. Scored two American Tourister (red!) 3-piece sets for $70 a set. We've both gone through all of our clothes. We've got several large Hefty bags full of clothes ready to be donated to the Humane Society thrift store. I phoned them yesterday to find out what their hours are. Ready? Sundays from 2-4 pm and Wednesdays from 10-11:30 a.m. Okaaaaay.

Boyfriend and I have developed a good system. I sort and organize groups of stuff to be packed, and he does the actual packing. And I'm lovin' it. In our previous two moves, I had to do all of it myself because he was at work. (I was able to get us packed up in a day during those moves...which means we've accumulated a lot of CRAP in the last four years.)

He's got his 'honey do' list for the day. I'm off to the storage place to park my ass in front of the TV for nine hours. In other words, I'm going to work to get a little rest.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


This morning I read Kate’s post (3/12) about what happens when IRL people find your site. She’s even written The IRL Manifesto. I really related to her post because I recently had this happen to me…sort of.

For the first three years we lived in the tropics, I would compose long (sometimes semi-comical) "island update" emails about life here in all of its goofy glory. I sent those emails to about 50 relatives and friends on the mainland. It was a lot more efficient than having to rewrite it over and over in individual emails. The recipients seemed to enjoy them, but not that many of them would respond. Some would and I always appreciated hearing about news “back home"--whether that was in California or in Portland. But as the years wore on, I grew tired of feeling like I 'had' to write them, like they were expected. So I’d send them less and less frequently and often add at the bottom that it was likely to be the last "island update." And then suddenly I’d be flooded with emails in response. "Please don’t stop sending them! I love those! They’re so funny!" etc., etc. But it had long since stopped amusing me to have to live with the annoyances inherent in island life. And I had been going through a lot of changes in my inner life and wanted to focus more energy on that part of my life.

In 2003, the only blog I'd ever heard of was the one Kevin Sites' kept during the Iraq War, which CNN made him take down. ("Bastards!" in retrospect.) Several months later, I saw an online news article about blogs (can’t remember now where it and it must have mentioned Blogger. And it hit me: here was my out from those damn "island update" emails. I could start a blog, and if family and friends wanted to read it, they could. And if it didn‘t interest them, then they wouldn‘t have some silly island email showing up in their IN box. It seemed like a perfect solution…except, of course, the "perfect" solution would have been to not feel obligated to supply anyone with news in the first place. (Can you say codependent, boys and girls?)

So I started Island Fever, on Labor Day, 2003. I distinctly remember being sprawled out on the love seat, with the laptop next to me, looking across the room at the boyfriend and saying, "I’m bored. I think I’ll start a blog."

Keep in mind that 18 months ago, free Blogger blogs didn‘t have comments. The only readers (I imagined) that I would ever have would only be those I gave the URL to, and since the original intent was to use the blog to replace my "island update" dispatches, I gave the URL to some of the recipients of those emails. But a funny thing happened--none of them seemed to be reading the blog, as far as I could tell. Because whenever I would email back and forth with one of my old pals or a member of my family, there was never any mention of anything I’d written on the blog. I appeared to be writing simply for my own pleasure, and that was okay, too.

Blogger has a "featured blogs" section. On the day I created Island Fever, one of the featured blogs was Alex’s. It was a total stroke of luck, because when I checked out her blog, it led me to Another Girl at Play, which led me to the blogs of so many wonderfully creative women. But the blog I resonated with immediately off that site was Andrea’s. So I started reading Andrea’s site and began checking out sites I found on her links page. Many of the links that are on my Blogroll, and that I still enjoy reading today, are sites I initially discovered via Andrea‘s links. I don’t know if I’ve ever told her that, so I’m telling her now: A, you are my blogging Godmother! You are the queenpin in my blogging family tree! :)

There was this whole blogging WORLD out there that had been going on all these years and I’d had NO idea! I was absolutely thrilled to learn about it, particularly since I found myself living in a place where I had no friends.

My first eight months here (boyfriend came down two months earlier to set the stage), we lived at two "band houses" and played host to visiting musicians, many of whom were already friends of ours, so I was able to enjoy the company of others in that setting. But once we moved to the condo and were on our own--and boyfriend had stepped away from the club he’d helped to build up and where we’d both once worked--our lives grew very quiet. And we welcomed the quiet after the chaos of the club and the band house, but I suddenly felt very isolated. My life consisted of going to work and coming back home. We didn’t socialize--who would we socialize with? We didn’t have any friends here to speak of. It was just the two of us, and that was fine, to a degree. But I missed having girlfriends. I missed getting together with someone occasionally for coffee or breakfast. So on top of missing all of the conveniences and cultural wealth one experiences on the mainland, I felt like I was missing out on having a life. And it was a hard time for me. I struggled with some pretty serious depression during that time. And worst of all, I began to experience anxiety attacks again, and they’d been absent from my life since I’d stopped drinking 12 years before. And they were bad anxiety attacks, as they had been previously. And (as you all know) I was in a job that I detested. It was a dark time, not that anyone outside of my boyfriend and my mother would have ever known that. True to form, I kept up a kick-ass front.

But back to the blog… So I started Island Fever, telling myself that its purpose was to replace those "island update" emails. But in truth, I really just wanted to dive head first into the blogosphere (and that was long before I’d ever heard that word) and see what this whole blogging thing was about. I wanted to read what others were writing on their sites and to link to sites that I enjoyed. And I wanted to see how it would feel to write my own--maybe it would be a place I could document some of what was going on with me internally. I felt like a double agent, because I kept my blogging secret from everyone here (save the boyfriend, of course). And that‘s still true today. To my knowledge, not one single person in the Caribbean knows that I blog. And I honestly never knew if any of the people I’d originally given the URL to were even reading it, because if they were, they never indicated as such in their emails or correspondence or phone calls.

So I got a little braver. I began to be a bit more confessional. And I began to leave comments on other sites. And that took a lot of courage for me to do. Because like many of you, I suffer from "outsider-itis"--not quite fitting in anywhere, even though I ACT like I do. I’d read comments on others’ sites and was just SURE that they all knew each other and were members of some cool blogging club. I was convinced that if I left a comment, it would elicit some sort of ostracization. ("Who the hell is Marilyn at Island Fever and why is she trying to join our 'club'?") But I began to leave a few comments. And sometimes I’d get even braver--I’d send an email to someone who’d written something that had particularly moved or touched me. And a funny thing happened--they’d usually email back. And some of the bloggers I'd left comments for began to comment on my site. Oooooh, I get it, THIS is how you draw readers to your site. Okay, cool.

But then an even cooler thing happened. The more I began to reveal my warts--the more I exposed my less-than-desirable traits--my readers didn’t run away in abject horror, instead they wrote incredibly supportive and understanding comments and emails. What the hell?! Because it began to feel suspiciously like friendship. Genuine friendship. But how could that be? I’d never even MET these people! I’d never even spoken to them on the phone!

And then six months ago, we went through that hard time with H. Not with H. himself, but with his mother. And it was heartbreaking for the three of us (and I just realized I dreamed about H. last night) and the support I received from my blogging pals overwhelmed me. Many times it brought me to tears. How could I be so lucky to have such incredibly supportive friends that I’d never even met?! But I did and I do and you all rock my world in the biggest damn way.

Fast forward to about 10 days ago...I got a couple of comments from someone who clearly knew me IRL. I wasn’t sure at first who it was because the comments were signed with only initials and there was (I realized later) a typo in one of them. But I thought I knew who it was, and then she emailed me. She had come across the URL that I’d given her long ago (when I first started the site) and had started reading. She wrote how much she loved what I was writing and how much she was enjoying reading the site, so that she was reading through the archives. She left several subsequent comments on older entries--all very kind and supportive and flattering, and it was very sweet. But then it occurred to me that if she was enjoying it that much, she might want to tell other IRL people we have in common about the site. And I began to panic…because my blog had morphed into something other than what I had intended it to be when I started it. It was more of an online journal now, a diary of sorts, and I wanted to keep it that way. I wanted to be able to write without censoring myself based on the preconceived notions of what IRL people thought I was like (true or not). I wanted to be my own free self in the blogosphere.

So I wrote to my old (high school) friend and told her that I was glad that she was enjoying the blog and asked her to please keep the URL to herself. She wrote back that she only planned to tell a few people. I wrote again explaining much of what I’ve written here and told her that having an audience of IRL readers would take much of the enjoyment out of it for me, because then I’d revert to doing what I do in so many IRL situations (like that job I just finished)--I’d ACT like I was what they wanted me to be, rather than just being who I really am. I had given the URL to a handful of old pals and relatives when I first started the blog. If they eventually came across that information and decided to start reading the site, so be it. But I preferred to not be "outed" at this point. Whether or not that was her intention, that’s how it felt. She initially responded that she would agree to not share the URL, but then later sent me a brief, rather terse email to another email address (the one she’s used to using) and asked me to un-publish her comments.

So that’s where it stands. She may or may not be reading this post. I got the impression from her last email that she was angry over my request. Some would argue that if I’m going to self-publish on the web, then I should accept that anyone, anywhere can read it. And I do accept that. I would just prefer to not have someone give IRL folks a road map on how to reach it.

Unlike Kate, I don’t have to worry about when or if to reveal my site to men I’m dating. My boyfriend is well aware of my blogging life, but has no interest in reading my site. And that gives me even more freedom. He simply accepts that blogging has become an important part of my life. He sees things arrive in the mail and marvels over how I’ve somehow managed to make friends not just in the States, but in other countries, too. I simply tell him, it’s a wonderful thing. :)

I’m curious to know how all of you feel about the IRL issue. Comments welcome, if they're working! And if not, see "comment-ary" post below.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Photoblogs Magazine

Please check out the work of two of my favorite photographers (both appear on my Blogroll), Brita at Southern Images and Lynn at Two Muses on the new Photoblogs Magazine. Lovely.


Thanks to Blueberry Moon and Violet Is My Color for the heads up that my comments weren't working. I've notified Blogger of the problem, but they seem to be working now. If they're still wonky, you can always email me. Click the"View My Complete Profile" link in the sidebar to get to the email link. Thanks.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Today I did the smartest thing any woman with my moving To Do list could do...I went to the beach. It was exactly what I needed. I had spent two hours yesterday morning running errands and the afternoon at home trying to get organized (making a list on the computer of everything we need to do before we leave). And then the boyfriend was home from work and he was on the balcony making golf clubs...and the phone started ringing like crazy...and then we had dinner...and suddenly I was asleep in front of the TV. I woke feeling like I didn't get that much accomplished yesterday, but I felt well-rested and ready to continue tackling the To Do list today. I was up at 4, in fact. Drove the boyfriend to work at 6:30. When I got back, I lingered over my coffee while getting caught up on some overdue email replies and then read a few blogs. All the while, I kept thinking about walking at the beach. Then I thought, screw it, I'm just gonna spend the day at the beach. So I loaded up my sand chair (it has a large backpack pocket) with a towel, three books (two partially read, one yet-to-be-read), a yogurt, cereal bar and plum, sunscreen and lip gloss. I filled my insulated mug with Tazo's Zen tea and set off. I was on the beach by 8:45 (although it felt later, having been up for so many hours already.) There were very few people on the beach when I arrived and I enjoyed the early morning hours before the throngs of tourists arrived. The weather was perfect, the water fairly warm and I was able to be alone with my thoughts. I walked up and down the beach at least three different times, went for a couple of swims, had a fat slice of pizza for lunch, finished the partially read books and started the third, and took a nice little nap under my favorite tree. All in all, perfect.

But the best part was that I just got to BE. Just me. Alone. I spent several days at the beach with our visitor last week, but it wasn't the same--there was a lot of conversation during those days and I wasn't moving to my own rhythms. Today was the first day in weeks where I felt myself just go AHHHH. Everyone talks about their AHA! moment--this was an AH moment...a big giant psychic exhale. I knew I was in need of it, but didn't realize just how much until I got to experience it.

I basked in the sun, lounged in the shade, felt the weight of the water as I swam in the bay, smiled at all of the little kids having the time of their lives, greeted fellow walkers with a smile and quite simply enjoyed myself. I had gone with the intention of possibly trying to start to get a handle on what I might like to do once we hit the mainland. But truthfully, I didn't even think about it--I was too busy nurturing myself.

And as I saw the occasional lifeguard strolling the beach I began to think about that word: lifeguard. And it dawned on me how sometimes I don't stand guard over my own life...sometimes I choose instead to wander over and stand guard over someone else's. And that can be an honorable thing to do at times, but not to the exclusion of my needs and desires. Because after all, if I'm not going to guard my life, who will? So I made a vow to myself: from here on out, I'm not going to vacate my post. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

setting sail

It's about time for our ship to set sail (so to speak). We leave in 557 hours. (Okay, okay, 23 days and 5 hours...but who's counting?) I'm feeling such a myriad of emotions right now. Anger at myself for not honoring my promise to myself to take the last month we're here for myself (instead agreeing to allow a visitor to spend the first 8 days after completing my job camped out at our place)...nostalgia for the physical beauty and weather here (even though we haven't left yet)...sadness over our impending loss of privacy (since it's been just the two of us here and we'll soon be in a houseful of family...but it's only for the very short-term and I'm looking forward to spending time with them...still, it's an adustment because we're a couple of hermits here)...anxiety over wondering what it will feel like to go back to an area where I've lived before (and didn't imagine living again...and maybe we won't be living there because we still don't even know where we want to live, even which state)....relief that the six days I agreed to help out at the storage facility won't be so bad after all (I was there for nine hours yesterday and the time passed quickly...there's even a TV to watch! I've already been prepaid and it covers our airfare to California)...irritation that people want to get together with me before we leave (I don't want to have these lunch dates I've scheduled...they break up the entire day!...I know they're wanting to have lunch with me thinking it's something nice to do for me...I view it as just one more interruption)...stress over thinking about everything we need to do in the next 557 hours (and not feeling like doing any of it...wishing I could instead spend my remaining time here plopped down on the beach with my nose buried in a bunch of introspective books)... You get the picture.

Most of all, I want TIME. Time to think about who I am and who I've become at this juncture in my life. Time to think about the possibilities that this newfound freedom gives me. Because I was playing hostess for all of those days (and working yesterday), today is my first chance to let it really sink in that I'm done with that job. Four years is the longest I've ever worked anywhere, in any capacity. I'm looking forward to getting back to my more unconventional lifestyle. It's funny--one would think the tropics would be the place for that...instead I'm returning home so I can get back to being a gypsy. (Hard to be a gypsy when you live on a 13- by 3-mile island...where the hell are you gonna go?!)

So that's where I am today: hand on the rudder...ready to head off in a new direction...
Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Family Tree

Our houseguest arrived last Saturday afternoon. After picking her up from the airport, we dropped the boyfriend at home and I took her for a walk at the beach. When we returned, boyfriend said I'd received a call from a man in Indianapolis (I'll call him Indy)--someone who was working on the genealogy of my family, the Italian side. Whaaaa.....?! He said he told the man I was out but would return shortly; the man said he'd call back at 6:30. And he did...on the dot.

I had a nice chat with him. He's married to a cousin of mine. She's my 2nd cousin, once removed. (Can anyone explain that 'removed' part to me? I've never understood it). I've never met his wife and didn't even know of her. This man, with the assistance of a couple of others, has traced our Italian roots all the way back to my 5th the 1700's. (That's Great-Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandpa Domenico to me.) :)

He had found information on my Dad and first phoned him. Dad suggested he speak instead to his sister (my aunt), so he called her. She suggested he call me because I'm the only one in the family who's been to my grandmother's birthplace in Italy. My Dad and Aunt were happy to cooperate, but felt I would probably remember more familial information than either of them. Indy was looking to flesh out the family tree by gathering information on our branch. He filled me in on what information he had and what he needed, and followed it up with several emails with attachments (a genealogy report, an index of names and several photos of my grandmother's birthplace--he's been there a few times).

I called my Aunt the next day and between the two of us, we put together the bulk of the information. I emailed what we had to Indy and he sent me a revised report. I called my Aunt to discuss it so we could make any corrections, and then we each went off to collect some missing pieces via email and phone calls. As of Thursday, I had most of the information compiled for our branch of the family. I emailed the last set of corrections to Indy last night. Our branch is now nearly complete. He's going to send me a revised report Sunday night. I don't know what software he's using, but the report is personalized--so it tells me how every single person in the family tree is related to me. It's very cool.

All of this genealogy stuff got me thinking about the blogosphere, and how it's sort of a fabulous combination of genealogy and "Six Degrees of Separation." Through linking, we're creating our own virtual family trees. There are marriages and divorces and children (blogs the owners have created because they've been inspired by reading other blogs) There are definite branches to the tree, even though many of us hop from branch to branch.

That's all just to say that I'm so glad you're all in my virtual family tree.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

!0 Things...

...I Have Done that You Probably Haven't - via BluePoppy:

1. Woke up (nekkid) in the sofabed in my boss's living room next to our best client (also nekkid) on the morning of my performance review.

2. Had my legs used as B-roll in a rodeo telecast. (Black denim mini-skirt, red cowboy boots, legs draped across a Marin County fence.)

3. Made a joke about Dan Quayle on a national telecast with Clinton and Gore.

4. Had Meg Ryan dance into me. (Closed eyes and much twirling in circles were involved. Dennis Quaid was across the room.)

5. Had Bonnie Raitt tell me I'm a good dancer (and that she liked my red cowboy boots).

6. Got stranded at Gilley's in Texas after hours with a producer from New York who wanted to do me on one of the pool tables in front of the cleaning crew. (His fantasy, not mine.)

7. Started a staff meeting I was moderating by having everyone move to the loft to dance to MC Hammer's "You Can't Touch This."

8. Had the FBI show up at my front door to question me re something connected to the Patty Hearst case.

9. Had footage of me in a Wang Chung-judged hot legs contest appear as the 'tease' on the 11:00 news, which was seen by my boss...on a day I had called in sick because I was too hungover to work.

10. Had a television actress toss me her handbag on location and say, "Keep an eye on that--my gun's in there."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Blueberry Moon is going to Paris for two weeks in May. To help finance her trip, she's selling tickets to raffle off one of her wonderful paintings. Tickets are $2.50 for one or $5 for FIVE. Go here for details. That takes you to her profile page. Now go to her journal, scroll down to the February 26 post and check out that apartment where she'll be staying!! She's getting a check today!

And don't forget that my adorable pal Secret Agent Jo is off to Paris next month. You can help finance her trip by shopping at her CafePresss "PARIS SHOP." Go to her site for the link (the button's on the sidebar).