Sunday, September 28, 2003

Home Depot

Yesterday as we were heading into town to run some errands, we drove past the almost-completed Home Depot. I'm quite excited about having Home Depot here -- and I'm not even a homeowner. It'll just be nice to have it here...just in case. That was yesterday...

This morning I was surfing the internet and somewhere (can't remember now) came across an article on sculptor Stefanie Nagorka. She lives in New Jersey, but used to have a studio in Manhattan until the financial setbacks of a divorce a couple of years ago forced her to give it up. She uses a lot of concrete materials in her sculptures and came up with the idea that instead of hauling the materials home from Home Depot, she would simply create her sculptures inside the stores without purchasing the materials. So that's her new project: creating sculptures in the aisles of Home Depots, photographing them and leaving them to be...dismantled by employees?...acquired by customers? And it got me to thinking how possibilities for "guerrilla art" exist all around us. Think about it...then think about it some more. Stefanie thought outside the box...and ended up in the aisle.

Now I must dash to see what Mr. Scorsese has done with the blues. Kind of sad that PBS is relying on one of our most brilliant ITALIAN directors to "explain" the blues to us. I've set the VCR in case boyfriend wants to watch it when he gets home from his gig. But having spent a big chunk of his career playing the blues, I don't any 'splainin' is necessary...

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Green Acres

I know it's human nature to always want what we don't always feel that the grass is greener somewhere else. What I wonder is if everyone always feels that way--or are there people in the world (Oprah Winfrey, say) who sit back and think, "Damn, I have a perfect life. I wouldn't change a thing.") But skipping the people on the Forbes richest list, do "regular" folks ever feel that way? I've known people who seemed content, but is that the same feeling? Is feeling pretty okay about where one finds oneself the same as never envying someone else's situation, lifestyle, whatever? And is it even envy? I can't think of a particular person who has something I necessarily covet--as in, I'd rather I have it than her. I don't covet THINGS...I could really care less about owning stuff.

What I crave is the freedom to live the kind of life I come and go as I please (to not be tied to a JOB, any job) travel as much as I want, anywhere I spend my days doing the things that give me pleasure (rather than spending my days making some person or corporation richer). My "problem" (within our societal framework) is that I just don't give a shit about material security. I don't care about being wealthy, although many would argue that being wealthy is the ticket to the kind of freedom that I crave. And I won't dispute that. But at this stage of the game, having spent decades as a wandering soul (and not foreseeing a lottery jackpot in my future), I think I really need to be satisfying those cravings for how I really want to spend my time.

About 20 years ago I read Barbara Sher's first book "Wishcraft." If you're familiar with Barbara and her several books, you know that she's all about creating the kind of life you want and were meant to have. There's a simple, but effective, exercise I still remember from that first book. You imagine the kind of life you want and then categorize the elements of that life into A, B and C columns. I don't remember the exact heading of each column, but the gist of it was that A would be the things you absolutely had to have and couldn't live without, the B items were things that maybe weren't quite as necessary to your ideal life but you'd really like to have, and C was for those things that would be nice to have but you could probably live without. Then you look at the items in the A and B columns particularly and think of even small ways that you can begin to incorporate those elements into your daily life. Like I said, it's a simple exercise...but I know from experience that it's effective.

I haven't done that exercise in YEARS, but I did do it right after reading the book. And lo and behold, not long after that I ended up with a life that only a short while before would have seemed to me like my dream life. What I hadn't prepared myself for was the fact that my concept of "dream life" would constantly change...and maybe that's just the nature of who I am. I have a laundry list of things I want to see and do in this life, and I hadn't stopped to realize 20 years ago that one day's dream life is just another checked item on my laundry list of life goals. And that's okay. Because for me, the joy comes not in finally reaching a place of ultimate contentment, but in realizing that that "grass is always greener" feeling spurs me to do and try a lot of different things. And my grass may not always be green. When I think back on my crazy, patchwork life thus far, there's probably some blue and purple and pink and red grass in there, too!

So if you, too, have ever had fantasies about living on a Caribbean island, take them seriously. Thirteen years ago I took a solo vacation to the Cayman Islands. I can remember sitting on 7 Mile Beach on Grand Cayman and looking at the turquoise water and palm trees and thinking how fabulous it must be to wake up there every day. To LIVE in a place like that. Ten years later, here I was...different island, same vibe. And we came here with nothing. We started from scratch and because of the talents and skills we brought with us, we quickly had a pretty sweet life. And we're not extraordinary. We work regular day jobs just like everyone else. We're just ordinary folks...who had a wacky dream.

So pay attention to those fantasies. Start going through your laundry list of life goals. Just keep in mind that if you end up here, I might already be gone. I might be off chasing that next piece of grass.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

A Slice

My walking partner and I canceled our walk this morning because there was a downpour just as we were preparing to leave our respective condos. So the boyfriend and I lounged around the house most of the morning. He eventually dozed off on the couch watching TV while I was across the room doing e-mail and reading blogs.

The rain didn't last long, but it's been overcast all day--a rarity here. It's still warm though. About 11:00 we went to the beach, armed with our sand chairs packed with all of our favorite beach provisions and ready to do some serious kicking-back. Most of the locals don't go to the beach if it's overcast, even though it's still in the 80's and the water's warm. So picture this: a mile-long stretch of white sand beach that's lined with palm and sea grape trees and borders a tranquil, blue/green bay (it's like swimming in a bath), and we're lounging in our turquoise sand chairs under a sea grape tree. And the best part was we had the entire middle section of the beach virtually to ourselves the entire 3-1/2 hours we were there. Heaven!

I always take reading material to the beach. Even though I had already grabbed Barbara Kingsolver's "Prodigal Summer" (which I'm savoring at a leisurely pace) and the current issue of UTNE Reader, at the last minute I grabbed "American Pie" off the bookshelf. If you're not familiar with the book, it was written by Pascale Le Draoulec who got the (brilliant) idea to turn a cross-country drive into a search for perfect pie. This is my kinda gal...and my kinda book. I read it last year after seeing her interviewed on CNN on Memorial Day. I remember it vividly because I remember thinking: what a great summer read....because I LOVE PIE.

I've had such a pie jones recently that my walking partner called me from her cell phone on the way to do some grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago and offered to pick up a pie for me. (I'd been extolling its virtues during that morning's walk and had given her an appetite for one, too). Now, I didn't want to have to actually BAKE a pie. This is a bit embarrassing to admit at my age, but I've still never made one. Hence her offer to grab a frozen one for me. She called me a short while later to tell me that the pie freezer was nearly empty...and what was there was of no interest to us. (We were craving a specific deep-dish Mrs. Smith's apple pie.)

A couple of Xmases ago, my stepmother sent me a rolling pin, pastry mat, pastry cutter, her favorite quiche cookbook and her fail-safe recipe for pie crust. It was very sweet of her and it inspired me to tackle quiche for the first time in my life. I've since made several, and they turn out quite well if I do say so. But I still haven't made a fruit pie.

Maybe there's a part of me that fears I'll be hugely disappointed in any fruit pie I attempt to bake because surely it will pale in comparison to those made by my Italian grandmother. She baked a lot of pies in her lifetime--and I ate as much of it as she'd let me! Her crust was perfect and flaky. ("Short" being the correct baking term, I guess.) She could make any kind of pie and they were all world-class: apple, blackberry, cherry, peach, rhubarb, custard, lemon meringue, pumpkin, mincemeat.

My grandmother has been gone for 18 years. I was the oldest of her six grandchildren and I adored her. I could always make her laugh, which always made me feel good. She was an incredible source of love and comfort and calm strength during my dysfunctional upbringing. I could never quite bring myself to tell her exactly how much she meant to me, even though I loved her fiercely. I cherish my memories of her and they continue to bring me solace when I need a comfort hit. I've always said if I could be one-quarter the person my grandmother was then I'd leave this life feeling like I did okay.

I'm sure I love pie as much as I do is because of her--even though no one else's pie will ever measure up to hers in my mind. But all I have to do is take a bite of pie...and instantly I think of her...and know that she's looking down on me...from her little slice of heaven.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

The Wild, Wild West...Indies

I complain a lot about things I don't like about living on this island, but something I've always liked is that it's still a place where you can reinvent yourself. It's a place where, if you like, you can still sort of live under the radar. There's a touch of lawlessness here, but in a good way. You just have to figure out how things work.

No matter how much you might have screwed up somewhere else, you can come here and start over. People do it all the time. Of course, it might also mean that we end up with a higher concentration of eccentric kooks, but that's okay.

This all came to mind because I was thinking about a good friend of ours who has, well, sort of disappeared. We don't exactly know where he is, although we'd heard quite some time ago that he'd gone back to the States. He was one of those people who came here to start over...but couldn't quite do it. Someone blessed with equal parts talent and demons. A huge talent...who couldn't keep his shit together.

You care about someone and want to be a good friend and help him...and then it reaches a point where you feel you have no other option than to start exerting some "tough love." You start to lose patience. The talent's always there, but it's getting more and more obscured by all the screwy shit he does...until finally you tell him to stay away. And then one day you try to reconnect...and you hear he's gone.

So this is for our dear friend, whose talent we've been missing. Tonight I pulled out a CD of our friend and my boyfriend playing live. You know how sometimes you think something's not all that great at the time...and then later you pine away for it and only WISH you had those times back? That's how I feel when I hear our friend's singing and playing...and how I feel when I think about how much my boyfriend misses playing with his friend.

This one's for you, Peoples.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Dark Shadows

My love was at his regular Monday jazz gig on St. John last night, so I spent the evening watching a little TV, surfing the web and doing laundry.

I had done an hour walk with my neighbor right after he left. We walked to the beach, did a "lap" there and then walked back. There was a lovely pinkish sunset and the colors looked beautiful reflected in the gentle waters of Magens Bay. My walking friend has lived here for 20 years and still marvels daily at the beauty that surrounds us. As we were enjoying the sunset colors at the beach, she reminded me that when I get to California and Oregon next month (and especially if it's gray and raining), I'm probably really going to miss all this beauty I have right in my neighborhood and take so much for granted. I agreed that that was probably true.

The highlight of our evening was the return of "Oprah" on our cable system. When a local station decided it wanted to be the CBS affiliate, we lost WSEE in Erie, PA which had been our CBS station...and our "Oprah" station. Now our independent Channel 2 station here on St. Thomas has been added to Oprah's syndicated network. AND, they're airing her show in the evenings, at 7:30. So this was quite exciting for us. I finally picked up some decaf espresso beans yesterday (after going without coffee for days after my disastrous 1-day experiment of drinking "regular" coffee last week). So I made some decaf, grabbed half a brownie I had left over from lunch, and sat down to watch Ah-nold and Maria on Oprah's season premiere. I felt like I was livin' large, let me tell ya! (We middle-aged women get our kicks where we can.)

Later, when I was TV-d and internet-ed out, I turned everything off and stepped outside onto the balcony to look at the night sky. The moon was beginning to rise behind the hill across the way from us...and it was so BRIGHT. Before the moon even showed its face, it was backlighting the clouds that were moving east (unusual, since the wind usually blows from east to west, but it was probably a side effect of Isabel). It looked eerie...and it instantly reminded me of the gothic soap opera from my childhood, "Dark Shadows." That show used to creep me out no end (one of the characters was a vampire, for pete's sake), but I'd still watch it after school. Sitting on the carpet with my legs splayed outward, about two feet in front of our giant, boxy black-and-white TV, with a bowl of Nestle-Quik in front of me (no milk required...what a weird kid), transfixed. Creeped out, but transfixed. You gotta hand it to whoever came up with the concept for that show. It certainly stood out from all of the other 60's soaps, that's for sure. I can remember my mother telling me about listening to "The Shadow" on the radio when she was a girl. I guess every child needs a little horror in her life. Better to have it in a fantasy world...than the real one.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Where were you...?

On 9/11, it occurred to me that people of my generation have now lived through two moments when our nation was completely defined by a tragedy--the earlier moment being the day President Kennedy was shot. For young people, it might be hard to understand how profoundly the country was affected by Kennedy's assassination. After all, that was the loss of only one life versus the thousands who were killed in the WTC disaster.

I was 8 when Kennedy was shot....3rd grade. I remember the nuns crying. (I obviously attended a Catholic school.) But it wasn't just the Catholics who were upset by the loss. The entire country was sort of in shock, from what I remember.

There have been so many terrible (and sometimes weird) things that transpired in the almost 40 years between Kennedy's assassination and 9/11, but it still seems to me that that day in November 1963 is still a profound memory to those who experienced it. Which makes me wonder...why? Why was that more profound than Martin Luther King's assassination or Vietnam or Watergate or Iran-Contra or any number of tragedies and scandals our country has seen? For people of a certain age, why is it still such a vivid memory when someone asks, "Where were you when Kennedy was shot?"

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

When my taxi driver picked me up in front of my office this afternoon, there was already a young couple in the taxi with their two young, blonde daughters. My driver was giving them an island tour...with a detour to pick me up and deliver me home. The woman struck up a conversation with me. They're from Barcelona and are here on a cruise. She said she'd been here two years ago (also on vacation) but had not enjoyed the experience. She said she thought it was a beautiful island, but she found the West Indians quite unfriendly or downright racist. I said I understood, because I LIVE here and I find a lot of the residents to be unfriendly. And I also understood the racism remark because my African-American boyfriend experiences more racism here than I twisted is that? I was told when we first moved here that many West Indians don't like black folks from the States, and tend to look down on them. Go figure. She asked how long we've lived here, and when I told her we've been here three years without going back to the States during that time, she was shocked. I explained that we leave early next month for 10 days on the West Coast, and that getting away might make me like this place a little more. She asked me what I missed about the mainland and I rattled off a few things. But after I reached home, I really started thinking about that question--not only what I miss about the West Coast, but also what I would miss about this place if we left. Here are some of the things that came to mind.

What I miss about the West Coast:
Family and friends, of course...first and foremost; hearing my boyfriend play "real" music in "real" venues; bookstores; coffee houses; art house movie theatres; fabulous public libraries; great shopping; theatre; concerts; mountains; rivers; lakes; snow (occasionally); professional sports; the freedom to get in the car and drive long distances; drive-in movie theatres (there are still a few); camping; great Mexican/Chinese/Thai/Indian food; neighborhoods that each feature their own vibe with coffee houses and markets and shops; sidewalks (or someplace to walk in one's neighborhood besides a windy, hilly, very narrow road with no shoulder); going for breakfast or coffee with a good friend and spending hours talking and laughing; mail delivery; newspaper delivery; uninterrupted electricity; lawns; parks; Target; good public transportation (one woman here phoned a radio talk show because she was irate that a couple of tourists had ridden the bus...her argument: How dare they?! The buses are for locals!" Whaa...??? The whole economy here is dependent on...TOURISTS!)

What I would miss about this place:
Constant warm weather; living in flip-flops 24/7 (yes, even at the office); the totally mellow, low-key, stress-free lifestyle; the setting of our residence and all of its absolute quiet and darkness at night; crickets, tree frogs and gekkos; the pond below our balcony and all of the ducks, pelicans, herons and moorhens that live there; feeling safe enough to keep the sliding glass doors open 24/7; being within walking distance of a world-class beach; being able to ferry to neighboring islands; sitting in our living room and looking out at the Atlantic.

What I wouldn't miss about this place:
MOSQUITOS!!! Having to worry about hurricanes; unfriendly, rude people (and this is a tourist destination!); an almost total lack of service being exhibited in any service job; a movie box office that opens late and doesn't start cooking the hot dogs until well after they're you almost miss the beginning of your movie (which will probably have Spanish subtitles...and we don't live on a Spanish-speaking island!) and you can't enjoy a dog, to boot; "paper ladies" (who hold up traffic during the morning commute by selling newspapers on the side of the road); power outages (if I have to reset the clocks one more time...)

What I don't miss about the West Coast:
Cold winters; gray, rainy weather; rush hour traffic; sometimes noisy neighbors; the hustle and bustle of a mainland lifestyle.

There's always a trade-off no matter where we are. Our families envy us...we envy's the never-ending cycle of discontent and longing. I guess all we can do is try our best to be present wherever we find pay attention to the details of our lives as they be vigilant enough to remind ourselves to feel gratitude for wherever we find ourselves. I truly do believe that there are no accidents...that we're where we're meant to be...when we're meant to be there. This past year has been a time of wonderful, deep, freeing growth for me (hideous job rantings aside!) The QUIET that this place gives me...the CALM I feel in my setting...the BEAUTY I see all around me...the EASE that comes with an island lifestyle...all of it has provided the right "greenhouse" environment for me to grow into the person I'm meant to be. And for that, I'm truly grateful.
Yesterday my mate wasn't feeling well, so he stayed home from work. I arrived home from my job in the late afternoon to find him sprawled on the couch, watching DVD's. (Hmmmm, he doesn't LOOK sick...) In his defense, he had felt pretty awful in the morning. I tweaked my back (in a silly fashion) so as the day wore on yesterday, it felt worse and worse. I really wanted to leave the office early--all I could think about all afternoon was...lying down. But I stuck it out (why, I don't know). And when I got home, my love (feeling better himself) waited on me hand and foot all evening. It was lovely!

My walking partner was still down for the count with her cold, so we took a "sick day" from our routine. I'm feeling good today though. I didn't have enough decaf espresso beans this morning to make a sufficient amount of coffee, so I had to supplement them with some regular (caffeinated) Puerto Rican stuff that's been hiding in the fridge. Let's hope that between PMS...the full moon...and a touch of "real" coffee, I can maintain a sense of sanity today!

We reside in hurricane country, so this time of year (it's peak hurricane season right now) we're always mindful of the weather forecast. We breathed a huge sigh of relief when Hurricane Fabian passed us by...and then watched with empathic horror as he ran right over Bermuda last Friday. So imagine our shock when we woke Saturday morning to find out there was already another named tropical storm in the far eastern Atlantic...Isabel. She quickly grew to a hurricane and moved right up the charts from a Category 1 to a Category 4. She's expected to reach Category 5 status today (when winds exceed 150 mph). She's a snarling, feisty, PMS'y sorta gal...puts Fabian to shame. We've been keeping a close eye on her (sort of like how my beau looks at me when I have PMS...watchful and wary...'cause you just don't know what to expect...) Forecasters had us a little worried when they said she might start moving in a straight westerly fashion...and maybe even dip a little southwest this weekend...right when she was over our islands. But the forecast today looks much better. She's already almost at latitude 21 (we're at 18.3). She's high enough -- latitude-wise -- to make a straight westerly track (vs. a northwesterly one) look like she'll pass almost 200 miles north of us. Worst case scenario at this point would mean tropical storm-force winds this weekend. Best cast scenario would mean some high surf and a little rain. But we're still keeping a close eye on her until we get closer to the weekend, since there's about a 200 mile margin of error in the tracking models. (Comforting, huh?)

Monday, September 08, 2003

My walking partner came down with a cold today. So it was straight from office to bed for her. It was a gorgeous day--and I'd been cooped up in the office all day--so I could have gone out for a walk alone. just felt so good to get home, get out of my work clothes, sit down...and veg. I guess I deserve a day off. I can make it up by walking at lunchtime tomorrow. It's not a weight issue for me. I'm one of those thin people so many hate--I have to eat a lot just to keep my weight on. For me it's a fit issue. Skinny girls need to be fit, too!

My boyfriend had already left for his gig so I had the whole evening stretching out before me. First order of business: food, because I was starving. But since I was solo I nixed any thought of cooking--just felt too lazy. Dinner consisted of an entire bag of buttered microwave popcorn. I ate it so fast I may have broken the land speed record. I read once that crunchy foods (chips, nuts, popcorn, etc.) are sometimes what we crave and grab first when we're feeling angry. Hmmmm. That sounds about right! I'd had an irritating day at work, so it felt good to CRUNCH.

When my boyfriend is at gigs I sometimes like to enjoy the total quiet. Off goes the TV and sometimes even the stereo. I have crickets and tree frogs in Dolby...tough to beat a soundtrack like that! I took a nice long soak in a bubble bath and then stepped outside to get a good look at that big ol' moon in the Eastern sky. Not many stars out. Most nights we see zillions of them.

I love full moons, although I typically don't sleep very well during them. One of my best memories here is the time my boyfriend and I took his maintenance golf cart (that he'd driven home from work...we live on a golf course and he works days there) and had a full moon picnic on the most scenic spot on the course. We packed some food, grabbed a couple of blankets and pillows and drove out to the 14th hole, which overlooks the Atlantic and several of the British Virgin Islands. We parked the cart with the back of it facing the moon (think of a teensy, tiny flatbed...sort of like that). We laid out the blankets and pillows in the back of the cart and enjoyed our best picnic ever. The moonlight was reflected on the ocean and we had a beautiful nighttime view. Pretty romantic, too! (Shhh, don't tell're not supposed to be on the course after'll be our little secret.)
Last evening...dusk...boyfriend had already gone to his gig...I walked outside to take out some trash...went up the flight of stairs to the street...and was hit by the image of that big, nearly-full moon...with a big halo around it. It looked beautiful...magical...mythical...mysterious. And it immediately made me want to connect with my 5-year-old niece. I don't know why, it just did. I walked back into the house and went straight to the phone. She answered the phone and I learned she was home with a sitter. When I asked where her Dad and Mom (my brother and sister-in-law) were, she said that they were "at a big, big baseball game--the kind you see on TV!" I asked if she knew if they were at an A's or a Giants game--she didn't know. I asked if she had liked the beach picture I had mailed to her. She said she did, and then she rifled through her things to find it so she could look at it while we were talking. She asked, "Did you cut this out?" I said that yes, I had cut out the shapes and then glued them to the paper. (It included a large palm tree whose fronds extended beyond the edge of the paper.) She said, "Wow. You cut good!" I laughed and said that I've had a lot of years to learn how to use the scissors well. And it tickled me that I go through my life multi-tasking and being organized and sometimes acting like a Miss Smarty Pants...and sometimes what's really important is just knowing how to cut good.

Saturday, September 06, 2003

My walking partner and I varied our route this morning. We took a road she's familiar with but which I had never ventured onto. We walked up to the site of some rich guy's house that's been under construction for what has seemed like ages. (You can see it from our neighborhood public beach.) Walking along that road early this warm morning while it was still shaded, we encountered only the occasional car heading to or from the hoity-toity neighborhoods on that peninsula (a favorite of Presidents and Vice Presidents) and couple of cyclists, and we were treated to a fabulous view of our gorgeous neighborhood (and favorite) beach.

My mate and I followed that with a trip TO the beach...for a morning swim...and some breakfast. It's hard to beat wolfing down a stack of fluffy pancakes while sitting in your bikini at a picnic table on a world-class beach. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

We breathed a huge sigh of relief when Hurricane Fabian passed us by...and then felt awfully bad for Bermuda when it clobbered them yesterday. Now we're keeping an eye on Tropical Storm Isabel. But she's quite far away...a lot could happen in the next week. If we're lucky, she'll have broken up by next weekend (when she would be near us)...or at the very least, she'll stay out over open water. But it's that time: hurricane season. We've been incredibly lucky so far. Hard to believe this is our fourth hurricane season here. The depressing part is that hurricane season is six months long -- from June 1 through November 30. But the peak time is now -- late August, September.

But back to this morning's walk. For some reason (maybe it was the warmth...or the setting of the particular road we were on...or the look of the trees) I really had SUMMER on the brain. And all that that implies for me. And I thought it was kind of odd that it would be the last days of the season before I missed it, because I really miss summertime in the States. I miss the whole summer vibe on the mainland. The music festivals...the county fairs (corny, I know)...camping...rivers...a slice of a great fruit pie...picking blackberries...barbecuing in the backyard or in a park. (We have a Weber on our balcony, but concrete BBQ'ing just isn't the same as lawn BBQ'ing.) I just flat-out miss the LAND. People often tell us they envy being able to live on a tropical island and I can understand that. But one can get tired of any gorgeous setting if that's all your diet ever consists of. I miss being able to mix it up in the summertime...the ocean...the rivers...the lakes...the mountains...the desert...whatever.

Living here is a bit like "Groundhog Day." It's pretty much 85 degrees year-round. We're ALWAYS enjoying "summer," by mainland standards. Look: see me walking or at the could be September 6th...or December 19th...or May 27th... It's...all...basically...the...same.

Friday, September 05, 2003

As I sit here surfing the net with VH-1 playing in the background it occurs to me how little I listen to music living in my little tropical paradise. I've gotten so sick of hearing calypso (most annoyingly when it's BLASTING from someone's enormous personal speakers at our neighborhood public beach) that I've sort of stopped listening to music altogether at times. And I LOVE music...and I live with a musician! It's not that I have anything against calypso, but when you're fed an almost exclusive diet of it in public places...well, it's easy to get sick of anything once you've had your fill.

My boyfriend watches way too much TV. Out of boredom, I'm sure. So it seems like our home life is most often accompanied by a TV, rather than musical, soundtrack. And we have a wonderful CD collection. There are no venues here where we can go out to hear live music that we enjoy. We can go out and hear...calypso. He does a lot of jazz gigs, but he's forced at those to play polite dinner, resort hotel jazz. It's not the slammin', swingin' jazz that he loves to play...and that I love to hear. He's opened two jazz shows for mainland was well-attended, one was absolutely not. There's just not an appetite here for it. We're living in a jazz wasteland.
I awoke this morning with thoughts of cheerleading, specifically the thought, "I'm a good cheerleader." It hadn't occurred to me recently but, yes, I guess I am. When I was young I was quite literally a cheerleader, beginning at age 3 when my pal Leslie and I were mascots for the high school cheerleaders. If you opened the high school's yearbook for that year, you'd see we were pretty adorable in our miniature cheerleading sweaters and skirts.

In adulthood I became a good emotional cheerleader--always encouraging and supporting my friends in any way that I thought would be helpful to them. There've been countless times when a friend has expressed a desire for change or support for long unfulfilled dreams or confusion over how to begin a life-changing venture and I've done whatever I could to help. I suppose this came to mind because yesterday a coworker returned to her job after a nice, long vacation and announced her intent to make some major life changes. And I'm thrilled for her. In the 2-1/2 years I've known her, she's seemed miserable. So I've been 100% supportive whenever she has confided her desire to make some major changes. I've listened and tried to be a good confidante, I've passed along inspirational magazine articles or names of websites or books that she might find helpful, I've brainstormed creative and business ideas that might help her make her dreams fly. But I always come back to the same place: Why am I so good at doing all of that for other people and not so good at doing it for myself?

And it's not that I haven't been blessed with fabulous friendships over the years. It's not that I've never had people in my life do nice, generous things for me. I have. And it's not that I'm a girl who's afraid of taking a risk or having an adventure. If anything, my life has been mostly about that. If it's scary and transient vs. stable and predictable, I'll almost always choose the scary way. But when it comes down to really going after something I WANT...really exposing myself to tackle something I've secretly dreamed of or desired...those are the moments when I find myself instead focusing that energy on helping someone else make their dreams come true. I do it on a daily basis with my mate. It's not that he doesn't encourage me to pursue my dreams--he would support any venture that I wanted to tackle--it's that his dreams are more TANGIBLE. It's easier to focus on something that's already been defined. That's been the bane of my existence: my inability to define my dreams so that I can focus on acting on them. There are SO MANY things I want to do that much of the time I feel paralyzed by indecision and by the fear of exclusion, i.e., if I choose THIS does it mean I can't also do THAT? I'm fabulous at multi-tasking in a professional setting; I just need to start doing it on a going-after-my-dreams level.

So I woke this morning thinking that once again I've put my energy into encouraging someone else to spread her wings. Meanwhile, I'm still sitting in my cage of indecision. I have no problem changing my geographic location or my living situation--that's easy. I just need to apply the same fearlessness that has resulted in dozens of moves--between cities and living situations--to tackling my dream "to do" list. And I must remember and remind myself that choosing to pursue one dream or passion will not limit me from choosing others. If anything, dreams are inherently about casting off one's limits, whether real or imagined.

Thursday, September 04, 2003

What makes a friend? And exactly how many levels does friendship have? It seems to me that it's endless. There are your soulmate best friends -- the kind you can reveal pretty much anything to and know that they'll still love you (even if you don't love yourself very much). The "We really don't have that much in common but we've known each other for years" friends. These are people we meet on jobs or through other friends or at social gatherings, and for some reason we feel a need to stay in touch. Next thing you know, you've got 10 or 20 years invested in the friendship. The interactions with these friends may not be overly deep, but the lenghth of the friendships makes them a valuable part of our support network. There are activity friends -- the ones who you share a hobby with (walking, beading, the blues, whatever) -- where typically your only contact with them is during the designated activity. The "What was I thinking?" friends. These people tend not to be friends at all. In fact, sometimes they feel almost like enemies. We may meet them on a job or in a social setting. But they're the kind of people who sometimes say rude, or even hurtful, things to us and we walk away thinking, "Why am I even friends with this person?" We can take the high-minded road and think that they're probably demeaning us out of their own insecurity, but who needs friends like that? The best thing to do with those people is eliminate them from our lives, and the sooner the better.

I guess these thoughts are coming to mind because I'm at a place (chronologically and psychic-ally) where I want to surround myself with only supportive people. If someone has a need to discount me or put me down -- I don't care if it stems from their own insecurities or jealousy -- if they have that need, then I don't need them. Period.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Dog...barking...incessantly...for hours...I need coffee (too bad I drink only decaf anymore). It's not a PET. It's a wild dog, a feral animal. And it's bugging the hell out of us with its yapping. How dare this creature disturb our quiet solitude in our tiny, gated enclave? Yes, it's true. I have found myself not only living in a condo...but on a golf a gated community. Appalling, I know, for someone who's led the wacky, transient life I have. I'll blame it on my boyfriend...the performing artist...the passionate golfer. He's the one who said, "Yes, we'll take it." He's also the one who said, "If we live here I won't worry about your safety when you're home alone while I'm out late at a gig." And when you live in a place that has one of the highest per capita murder rates under the U.S. flag--and when your previous home featured a soundtrack of almost nightly gunshots--that's not a small consideration. So this is where we find ourselves. And I confess: I love it. I love the privacy. I love the perfect quiet at night. I'll take a natural soundtrack over the pop-pop-pop-pop of a gun any day.

Funk-R-Us. We've been in a funk, the two of us. We spent way too much time over Labor Day weekend moping around the house and being generally morose. And not toward each other, just in general. Then yesterday it dawned on me what's been bothering us. In about 4 weeks we leave for the West Coast. It'll be our first trip back to the States in 3+ years (so I wasn't joking when I named this blog.) And I think we're both so anxious to go back to "civilization" for 10 see his see our respective families...that the DRAG of having to go through our regular, workaday lives here for another month finally sunk in. It's been great when our families have traveled to our little island to visit us, but what we're in dire need of right now is not just a family "hit," we're starved for some stimulation. And it should be a good mix, since we'll be spending time both in small towns and urban areas.

My hairdresser (who's lived here for 20 years but makes frequent trips to the States or Europe) tells me that we're going to be struck by how FAST everything will seem. She said that after two days we'll probably be ready to come back to our slow island pace. I don't know. I didn't want to move here in the first place, so I've been READY to go back the whole time I've lived here. We're going to get there and either think that we can't wait to move back...or that we've got it made where we are. One thing's clear though: if we stay much longer, I have to find an alternative way to generate some income.

I find myself lying awake at night and thinking of things I could say at my father's roast marking his 75th birthday. Then I think: no matter what I say, he'll probably take offense. Beware of he who can dish it out by the truckload, because he usually is not one to take it well when he's on the receiving end. This I know. But it should be funny. I can be funny when I want to be, but my brother is freaking hilarious. To this day, I still consider him one of the funniest people on the planet. Let me open, he can be the closer. He can take us out in grand style.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

If you're not a fan of the ellipsis (or a thousand of them), avoid this blog like the plague. Maybe it was all those years reading Herb Caen, who knows? All I know is that I love to use them. I don't even think about it...they just appear. So if you're annoyed by them, stop reading! 'Cause they're not going away. My old sportswriter friend refers to his occasional use of them in his column as the "3 Dot Lounge." This is more like the 3 Dot Closet...I'm not nearly hip enough yet to have my own lounge.

You might wonder why a woman living in the tropics would feature a link to a drum company in Portland, Oregon. Well, those are the drums that my live-in boyfriend plays and he not only endorses them, he sells 'em, too. So if you reside anywhere in the Caribbean basin and are in dire need of some fab-u-lo-so custom drums, e-mail me and I'll put you in touch with him. (Really, they're great drums...the snare alone will bring a smile to your percussive face.)

Living with your it ever easy? Is it always rewarding? Is it a constant juggling act between love and extreme annoyance? Can I possibly stop speaking in cliches? All I know after eight years in my current (and hopefully, last) relationship is that it seems to me that the recipe for making it work (especially when you're sharing a very small living space on a small island in the middle of the ocean...don't ever underestimate the power of being able to get in the car and just drive the hell out of town to clear your impossibility here) is equal parts: How can I still be so smitten by him after all these years? -- and -- I can't stand him right now and must immediately bury my nose in a book behind a closed door and "escape." I guess yin's only rockin' when yang comes a-knockin'.

These very early morning hours are some of my favorite ones of the day. Total darkness outside...very few homes in our sightline and the few that are are across a small vally and up on a ridge. All I hear are the crickets...the occasional tree frog...and the gentle whir of the box fan that I've aimed right at me. I think I've always been in love with the wee hours of the night/morning. So even though my life-long insomnia has been a cause of extreme annoyance (and my occasional lack of get-up-and-go), it's always made me feel like I'm getting an extra dose of something...I don't know what...but something. And for someone who spent her childhood constantly fearing she was "missing out" on something, I guess that became an important, comforting feeling. It's the very rare night that I sleep straight through till morning. But that's okay. As a kid, I'd put my transistor radio under the covers and listen to powerful AM stations in San Francisco, L.A. or Portland...and fantasize about life in the big city. And I still do that. You can fill my house with CD players or Walkmans or clock/radios or any number of items that include a radio...I'll always choose my little $5 transistor. Because I'll take my childhood comforts where I can get 'em. My beau adopted my transistor habit years ago. So think of us, in the chirping, quiet, gentle, warm tropics...lulling ourselves back to the tinny AM sound of life in the big city.

Monday, September 01, 2003

This is for the gals...of all ages (you know who you are)...who are seeking a big DOSE of creativity...who are desiring a big, fat injection of it into their depleted lives. And I'm #1 in that line. Seeking inspiration...wherever I can find it.

After setting up this blog, I checked out a few others featured at One of those was Alex Beauchamp's led me to her other sites including, (featuring artists of all types providing creating inspiration) and (a travel site).

On one of Alex's sites I read about and her brand-new book Living Out Loud -- can't wait to pick up a copy...right up my alley. So check 'em out, gals. These are a couple of vibrant, fun, inspirational young Canadian women. More power to 'em.

Labor Day. 2003. Tired of e-mailing family and friends with periodic "island updates" for the past 3+ years. How 'bout if I stay in one place...and they come to me?? Hence the blog. A place to record those 3 am thoughts when I'm surrounded by Caribbean stillness punctuated only by the chirping of crickets and tree frogs...and whatever silent bursts are emanating from those millions of stars I can see from my tropical post.