Thursday, November 27, 2003

A.M.V. I.

I fell asleep with the radio on last night and as a result, I accidentally caught a few minutes of "A.M.V.I." this morning--one AM station's attempt at a pseudo Tom Joyner morning show. Somebody put these people out of their misery...please. Words cannot begin to express how lame it sounded. Here's a funny thing: most West Indians are black (although we also have "Frenchies" and white folks who are natives), but you're never gonna confuse a West Indian with Soul Brother #1...or even Soul Brother #21. So hearing this radio host talking to his female co-host in his best brother-man style...well, it sort of made me wince. It's just a WHOLE different vibe from all of the African-Americans I know (including the one I live with.)

West Indians have this quirky thing they do with their vocabularies. Their vocabularies may be impressive, but their usage is often a little off. Example: The guy on the radio this morning said he walked into a bakery yesterday and "saw the expose of pies and tarts" they had prepared for Thanksgiving. Scandalous! Then he said the bakery employee talked him into buying his first-ever sweet potato pie, but he was shuddering to think how awful it was going to taste. Sacrilege! Thank god the boyfriend slept through that--he'd be outraged! Among my African-American friends, sweet potato pie is IT! We may be living in a territory with a primarily black population, but trust me, there's not a morsel of soul food to be found anywhere in the vicinity.

Thanksgiving is a big deal here, too, but then West Indians celebrate ANY holiday (including many you've never heard of), but their Thanksgiving menus are a little different from ours. The secretary at my office will not be serving mashed potatos and gravy or stuffing (as we think of it)--instead she'll do a potato stuffing, which is a casserole made with white potatoes, parsley, tomato sauce and raisins. Now you see why I opted to bring salads to the potluck we're attending today. I didn't want to prepare a hot dish that might not be what the West Indians are expecting. Hard to go wrong with potato salad and Jell-O though.

Our forecast for today is for partly cloudy skies, with a 30% chance of a shower. High of 86, low of 78. Ahhh, perfect Turkey Day weather for this likes-it-warm-every-day gal.

Hope you're having a great day, wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Normal Pie

I've got pie on the brain. My stepsister e-mailed that she plans to bake an apple pie to celebrate her son's birthday next week. My boyfriend is planning to attempt his first-ever sweet potato pie this weekend, as long as I make the crust (which is my stepmother's fool-proof recipe).

Last night I was on the phone with my 6-year-old niece in California. She continues in her reign as the Princess of Unpredictability. I asked her if she has a favorite food she likes to eat on Thanksgiving; she replied, "Corn." Then she said something about apple pie. I mistakenly thought she said she liked apple pie, so I exclaimed, "Oh! I LOVE apple pie!" and she responded in her firmest voice, "NO. I don't like apple pie." Then she added, "But you know what? I've never tried it." I told her that apple pie is really good and she should try it sometime. I asked, "Do you like to eat apples?" "Yes." "Do you like cinnamon?" "On my toast." So I told her that apple pie tastes sort of like apples in applesauce with some extra cinnamon. She then told me that she's never tried pumpkin pie either and I proceeded to extol the virtues of that. Finally she wrapped up by saying, "I've only ever tried one pie." I asked which kind of pie it was. And she said, "You know, normal pie."

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Hello Sunshine!

Or at least that's what I said yesterday morning as our first full day of sun arrived. And boy, was she welcome! I walked around a bit at lunchtime yesterday and it was like old times...mid-80's...lots of tourists wandering Main Street and the Waterfront (we had 5 cruise ships in port yesterday.) I always feel badly for the tourists when they happen to arrive during inclement weather, because it's surely not what they had in mind when they booked their cruise. But yesterday's visitors looked happy...and dazed in that "How much shopping can we do?" sort of way.

Our neighborhood beach (the prime beach destination for cruise ship passengers) got the "all clear" on Tuesday morning and the "No Swimming" signs were taken down. Officials had discouraged swimming until the run-off and debris from the recent rainstorms had cleared the bay.

I arrived home late yesterday afternoon, walked into our condo and instantly thought, "I LOVE being at home!" I guess I just love it a lot more when the sun is shining. We live in a tiny condo (and I would have never pictured myself as a condo dweller), but it's not the place that I love--it's the setting. I love the privacy...the deep darkness at night (it's so nice to have the stars back!)...the verdant fairways of the golf course (especially after all this rain)...the surrounding hills...the pond right below us (which is still recovering)...and that blue Atlantic (which is back to blue after turning brown near the shore due to rainstorm runoff.) I don't want to live here forever (and I long for the mainland DAILY), but I guess I just love being at home here.

Yesterday morning I was rushing around to get ready for work at the last minute because I wanted to finish Anne Lamott's "Blue Shoe." I quite enjoyed it, and I'll probably re-read it. For those who know my reading tastes, it's probably surprising that it's the first time I've read her. Having lived in Marin County for many years, I'm familiar with the places and landmarks she mentions in her I not only got drawn into the characters, it seemed familiar.

At lunchtime yesterday I began her "Traveling Mercies." Although I don't consider myself a Christian (8 years of daily Mass and being taught by nuns cured me of that), I still wanted to read it. I like the first few passages. I had to laugh when she writes about attending Mass with her Catholic friend and how Catholics " to be so conceited because they were Catholics." It's true! I've always believed that there's an inherent snobbery in Catholicism. After all, how many other religions have a Pope? And the Vatican? And more money than you can shake a stick at? And untold (probably stolen) art treasures? Catholicism always seemed to be such a convenient religion. You could get drunk, sleep with your neighbor's spouse, lie to your mate, whatever...and as long as you went to confession and Sunday Mass, all would be forgiven. Welcome, we're the church of hard-drinking adulterers...and pedophiles. But we like EMPLOY the pedophiles. (Now you see why I'm not a Catholic.)

Monday, November 17, 2003

Cleaning House, Part II

Yesterday we went shopping in search of (airtight) storage bins for the cassettes and photos we recently received in our box of goodies we shipped to ourselves from Portland. (The humidity wreaks havoc if you leave stuff out, especially since we leave the doors open 24/7.) So we ran our errands, did our shopping, grabbed some lunch and returned home to begin putting away all the crap that was covering virtually every surface of the living room. Actually, I let the boyfriend tackle that task since most of it was his stuff; I wanted him to organize all of it to his liking so he could easily find stuff. I decided to tackle the kitchen.

Well, one thing led to another and the next thing I knew he was moving furniture and giving the whole place a thorough sweeping and mopping. This was a rather remarkable development, since he voluntarily helps me with housework maybe twice a year (typically right before houseguests are scheduled to arrive). Although I hadn't planned to spend my Sunday afternoon doing some seriously thorough housecleaning (something I'd rather do almost ANYTHING else to avoid), I figured I'd better take advantage of this rare opportunity. So that's we did: cleaned...for hours...until I finally cried "uncle."

Aside from the fact that the place was a mess (we'd been on a downward spiral ever since returning home from our vacation--with the piles of clutter growing at an alarming rate), there was also something cathartic about cleaning up after our recent deluge of rain. Because it seemed like we had spent most of the "week of rain" basically sitting at home, staring outside with open-mouthed wonder that it was...still raining...hard. Yesterday was our first rain-free day in quite awhile. I missed having beach time this weekend, but our poor neighborhood beach was undergoing some serious clean-up, too. It had been closed for part of the week. The taxi delivery/pick-up area had become a lake, the beach was littered with debris and Saturday morning's paper featured a front-page photo of a cut through the beach that was created from run-off from the parking lot. A our beautiful beach. :(

But the highlight of my weekend was listening to portions of boyfriend's performance tapes that had just arrived. There were gems that I'd never heard...tapes he'd had stored away...from shows he'd done before we knew each other. As we were leaving to go shopping, I said, "Grab a tape so we can listen to something in the car." In other words, surprise me. And we zipped around our little island with the sun roof open in our little Honda while listening to a benefit he'd done in '93 with a bunch of Portland music all-stars plus Robert Cray for a musician friend of theirs who had ALS. (He has since passed away.) It was for a very good cause...and they played their asses off...and I was very happy to have some kick-ass, soulful Memphis-tinged blues blasting from our speakers.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

One cookie!

I agree with Anna that her idea is brilliant! Here ya go, gals...for all those Saturday nights spent at home alone. Hey, I'm in a relationship, but I spend plenty of Saturday nights alone when boyfriend's at a gig and I'm wandering around wishing I had just one (okay, two) of these!

Sidebar: Gawd, men are annoying sometimes. Imagine you're sprawled on the couch, surfing on the laptop with one hand and savoring a big mug of tea with the other...when suddenly your mate calls your name from outside (because he works for a couple of hours on Sunday mornings) think, "What the hell does he want?!" because you're extremely annoyed at having your Sunday morning reverie you sullenly walk out onto the balcony, look down at him where he's sitting in a golf cart on the cart path directly below you, and say, "Whaaaaat?!?"...and he says, "Wanna go to Office Max?"...and you say, 'Is THAT why you got me out here?"...and he starts to laugh...and drives away. Ass.

Translation: This is his way of admitting he's been acting like a grouchy jerk for the last few hours and trying to make it up to me. And yes, I laughed in spite of myself.


This is too good.

(Every time I hear about this guy, I think back to when my old singer friend worked with him. Who knew this would be the cheesy arena where he'd end up.)

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Is Noah in the neighborhood?

All three islands in the USVI have experienced an extraordinary amount of rain in the last week. (It seems astounding to me now that we spent last Saturday at the beach...will the sun EVER shine again?) My employer, who's lived here his entire life, said he's never seen an extended period of rain like this. How much rain, you ask? Well, on St. Thomas figures vary between 7 and 12 the last 6 days or so.

We just returned from the cruise ship dock area where we went to breakfast at our favorite Yankee breakfast spot...I had my (very gray) roots touched up...and we hit the bookstore. We woke to partly cloudy skies; in fact, there was even a little sun. We had one rain shower mid-morning (followed by a not-uncommon power outage), but it cleared and it was sunny and warm the whole time we were in town. We experienced the sun just long enough that I actually wished I had brought my sunglasses. (Psych!) We arrived home just as another shower began to fall. And now it's raining...hard.

I know, I know, it's hard to feel sorry for people who live in a gorgeous, lush tropical destination who ("boo hoo") have a few rain showers. But our infrastructure (a fancy-schmany word for our narrow, winding, steep, pothole-laden island roads) can't take this much rain. We have flooding, mudslides and pieces of asphalt washing away. Yesterday the Governor declared a state of emergency...and actually instituted a curfew from 8 pm last night to 6 am this morning. As former Oregonians, we were like, "Whaaaa...? It's just some RAIN!" (And it's not like it's COLD rain--the temperature is still in the 80's.) Needless to say, local politicians have a flair for the dramatic.

Everything feels wet. Massive rain + naturally high humidity = EVERYTHING feels wet. We got into the car this morning to discover that we must have a tiny leak in one of the windows because the floor behind the passenger seat is now officially a puddle. The golf course has been closed for most of the week...but it sure is green! Boyfriend has not only lost work hours at the course this week, but he also had a gig cancellation Tuesday evening. He was scheduled to play a boat called the Kon Tiki that cruises around the harbor. (It's sort of a floating tiki hut.)

Everyone is ready for the rain to stop. It's filling everyone's cisterns, but enough already! We're ready to start complaining about the heat again.

Arthur Duncan

In preparation for moving to the tropics (for who knew how long), my boyfriend packed up a few things and stored them at his parents' house in Portland. These consisted mostly of career-related items, e.g., cassettes of shows he'd played, publicity stills, etc. There was also a box of snapshots he'd left behind.

Right before we left Portland during our recent visit, we stopped by to see his parents and grabbed most of those left-behind items. Then we hightailed it to a Mailboxes, Etc. to have them packed and shipped back to St. Thomas. There was one large box shipped via Parcel Post. It finally arrived yesterday, 5 weeks later. Here's a mailing tip for you: When you ship Parcel Post, there's no way to track the it's not for the faint of heart. We were beginning to wonder if it would show up, but boyfriend had had a drum customer here whose drums were accidentally shipped Parcel Post from Portland and they took 4 to 5 weeks to arrive. So we were aware of the timetable. (But you can imagine how nervous that poor drummer was. If you'd just laid out a couple grand on some custom drums, you wouldn't exactly want them being sent to you via the slow boat to China.)

So last evening, we spent a good chunk of time going through the items in the box. It felt like receiving an early Xmas present...the kind where you already know what's inside. We looked through the box of photos (many of which I had taken during our Portland years together) and flipped through the publicity stills. Our favorites are two B&W shots of the boyfriend in a pool, with a cymbal on his head, taken at a famous L.A. music producer's house in Malibu, by boyfriend's old college buddy, who's now an Oscar-nominated film director. (Funny where life takes us.) We don't like them because of who took them or where they were taken--we just like the vibe. (They might sound dorky, but trust me, they're cool.)

After looking through all of the photos and reminiscing about old times, boyfriend started going through some of the cassettes. He'd pull one out of the box, read the label to me and then play a few minutes of it. I was lying on the couch during this listening session, doped up on Benadryl. At one point, he popped in a tape without telling me who it was. It sounded like an older African-American gentleman singing. I said, "Who's that?" He said, "Arthur Duncan." I asked, "Oh, he sang, as well as tap danced?"

All you youngsters can skip right over this next section because it's just for us old fogies. When we were kids, many of our parents and/or grandparents watched "The Lawrence Welk Show." When we lived in Portland, the PBS station there used to air those old shows, which I could never watch because they sort of creeped me out. My parents were not Welk fans. I'm sure they considered themselves much too hip for Welk's brand of champagne music (even though I'm sure Welk had a huge viewership in my small town.) I grew up listening to people like Dave Brubeck, Ramsey Lewis, Jester Hairston, Bola Sete, Herb Alpert, and Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66. But my Italian grandmother was all over Lawrence Welk. Never missed a show. And don't mess with Nanny when Welk is on! Which of course I tried to do anyway.

Nanny's favorites were the dancers, Bobby and Cissy. I think she thought they were a real couple...which to my teenage eyes seemed an impossibility, since Bobby could not have seemed any more gay. Bobby had been a Mouseketeer on "The Mickey Mouse Club" when I was a kid.

Anyway, being the bastion of diversity that it was, "The Lawrence Welk Show" had one black performer in the cast, Arthur Duncan, the tap dancer. (Although boyfriend tells me that the show later also had a black drummer.) Fast forward to 1983. Boyfriend's 19 years old. He's one of several Portland-based musicans who are hired to tour around the Northwest to back Arthur Duncan for several shows. He said he was sitting behind his drum kit, terrified--here was someone he'd grown up watching on TV (so I guess they weren't all white viewers.) The quality of the recording is surprisingly good. Yes, you can hear Arthur tap dancing, quite clearly, and he sings a few tunes. But it's the between-song patter that really gets me. Having been on one of the whitest shows in America for all those years, Arthur's unbelievably corny jokes and remarks sort of make me wince. It's not just that it's corny--it's that it reminds me all too vividly of what black performers of a certain era had to go through to be able to perform for certain audiences. It could easily be a performance from the 50's, rather than the 80's. But the overall show is classic stuff. It reminded us of a show boyfriend did with Steve Allen about 6 months before he died. Picture a legendary performer playing to a convention center full of seniors and you'll get the idea.

But my favorite line on the Arthur Ducan tape begins something like this: "You know folks" (something Welk always said), "The Lawrence Welk Show has been broadcast in color for the last 16 or 17 years..." I LOVE that! Because kids today can't begin to comprehend what it was like to sit in front of a big-ass, boxy wooden television set and watch one of your favorite shows in black and white on on one of your TWO channels: "The Jackie Gleason Show" (I used to imitate the drunk guy...probably unseemly in a 10-year-old), "Lassie" (my little brother's favorite), "The Lone Ranger," "Let's Make a Deal" (I DESPERATELY wanted to be Carol, the hand-waver), "Palladin" (Richard Boone looked exactly like our Uncle Paul), "Queen for a Day," "The Mickey Mouse Club," "American Bandstand" (yes, Dick Clark is ancient), "The Ed Sullivan Show" (the Beatles and Rolling Stones!), "Captain Kangaroo," "Leave it to Beaver," "Hazel," "The Donna Reed Show," "Dr. Kildare," "Perry Mason," "Mister Ed," "My Favorite Martian"...I could go on forever...

Screw "Nick at Nite." I got to see those babies in their original runs. And you know what? I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Friday, November 14, 2003

Who ARE these people?

I was joking with a friend that I was thinking of creating a game show called "Who ARE these people?" Viewers could nominate their strangest, weirdest coworkers. I don't quite have the format worked out yet. I suppose the "winner" would be the weirdest one on that show...and then we could have semi-finals and finals until we've narrowed it down to the weirdest coworker in America. I'm not sure what kind of prize the winner would get. Because I think genuine weirdness (not the fun kind, just the creepy kind) is inbred. I don't think any attempts at superficial fixes would have much effect. So it probably wouldn't make much of a difference to send them off to charm school or give them books on etiquette or proper social behavior. But those are the types who truly baffle me. I can handle it if someone just dresses or looks weird--I might even dig it. But it's the people who act weird...but again, not in a fun way, but rather in a really rude, "What are they thinking?" kind of way.

You might be asking, why limit it to coworkers? Because hopefully you wouldn't actually be friends with people like these. And if they're family members, well, there's nothing we can really do about family, is there? And if it's someone you've had a relationship with...well, that might best be ironed out on a therapist's couch. And do you really want everyone to know that you actually chose to love this person...even briefly? So coworkers it is.

I'm only sort of half-joking. I think this could be a hit! I feel like Tom Cruise in "Jerry Maguire"..."Come on...who's comin' with me?"

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Cleaning House

Lately I seem to be doing way too much "house cleaning" on a figurative level...and not nearly enough of it literally. Yesterday I had a holiday from work and my boyfriend unexpectedly ended up with an almost entirely work-free day, due to the (Will it ever end?) rain. So we decided to tackle a project we'd talked about for ages, but kept putting off: we cleaned out our wardrobes. (Such a lofty word, "wardrobe," to describe some ratty-ass clothes.)

And man, did it feel good! We tossed out three big bags of clothes between the two of us. I remember reading in some magazine many years ago that a good rule of thumb for closet-clearing is to toss anything that hasn't been worn in a year. Obviously there might be some sentimental exceptions, but that "rule" did come to mind as I was going through my duds. It's astounding when I sometimes think back to all of the clothes I've given away/tossed out over the years...some of which would be nice to have back! But clearing out my wardrobe has always been a good exercise for me to get the ol' energy moving, so to speak. I'm not a pack-rat...I have a certain limit where stuff is concerned. Specifically where clothes are concerned, I always feel compelled to toss out some old stuff when I buy a bunch of new pieces. I bought a few items on our recent trip to the States, but not as many as I would have liked.

It's hard to have the wardrobe I want here because I really have to try clothes on before buying--there's too much variance in manufacturer sizes for me to just grab something off the rack and know that it'll fit my small frame. I learned that lesson the hard way. We have tons of catalogs floating around the house, but I still haven't bought a single piece of clothing from a catalog because of the whole trying-on thing. And we simply don't have the stores here that carry clothes that I like at prices I can afford. There's one fabulous boutique downtown that I love, but their clothes are more high-end...definitely not the kind of super-casual stuff I wear in my day-to-day workaday life. And since we were stateside in the Fall, the stores weren't carrying many clothes that would work in our year-round summer weather.

So what's a gal to do? I guess bide my time until I can get back to the States and start wearing "real" clothes again. In the meantime, I'll schlump around in my casual duds and flip-flops...and remind myself occasionally that my red cowboy boots and faux leopard coat are still in the States...waiting...

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Jammies weather

We're experiencing an absolute deluge of rain as I write this. We've had rain and thunderstorms off and on for about a week. I'm home from work today in honor of Veteran's Day (or more appropriately for me, my niece's 6th birthday). My boyfriend just came home for his morning break and ate soup. He offered to share, but clam chowder for breakfast didn't sound good. But it is definitely soup weather. I even broke out the new flannel jammies I picked up at Target when we were recently stateside. The condo's a mess, there's a ton of laundry to be done, mail to be gone through, dishes to wash, etc. And all I feel like doing is lying here in my jammies, reading newspaper after magazine after newspaper online, looking out at and listening to the downpour (because it's still warm and the sliding glass doors are open) and waiting for my sweetie to come home early...because surely in this weather they're going to close the golf course at any moment.


Check out Sean Carman's "Realize Your Destiny in Twelve Easy Steps" at McSweeney's...hilarious.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Sibling Idolatry

My mother phoned (from California) last night and mentioned she'd spoken to my brother recently. Then she said, "You do know they (my brother and sister-in-law) are in Puerto Vallarta, right?" Not only that, it turns out my 13-year-old niece (my brother's oldest) is in Cancun with her mother (wife #2) and mother's new beau. The only exciting news I had to report was that we'd just returned from a K-Mart shopping spree. All I could think was: what a life my brother leads. I mean, really...for someone who's not famous, my brother has a pretty damn good (and crazy fun!) life. He's constantly on the go; it's hard to keep track exactly where he is at any given time.

My younger brother is my only sibling (although we do have two stepsisters and two stepbrothers). We couldn't be more yin and yang and yet, oddly, we're very much alike in certain ways. But I think the similarities are on a deeper emotional level, because our lifestyles (and interests) are quite dissimilar for the most part. I don't envy my brother's life (after all, I'm the introvert in the family so I crave peace and quiet and time alone to recharge), but I get enormous pleasure from hearing about his adventures and, often, mis-adventures.

I've crossed paths with a lot of different types of people in my life and never met anyone who's like my brother. He's still one of the funniest people I know. I think I can speak for him when I say that we genuinely love each other...even though we (literally) tried to kill each other when we were kids.

As kids, he chased me through the streets of our neighborhood with a butcher knife, a golf club, a baseball bat and a dead garter snake (all at different times, thank god). I'm not a particularly fast person, but I didn't want to know what was percolating in his little devil-mind should he have caught me. I, in turn, used to club him with all my might in the middle of his back with my closed fist, run like hell to my bedroom at the end of the hallway (sliding the last few feet in my socks on the hardwood floor) and slam the bedroom door just as his grimy little hand would reach for me. Needless to say, this activity didn't do much for my mother's nerves.

I enjoyed being a single child...until my brother showed up five years later to ruin everything. He was cute at first...I even sort of liked him. But by the time he was three or four, I began taking a sadistic pleasure in telling him that he was adopted. My parents kept all of their important documents in a locked metal box. I would tell him he was adopted...adding, "Look at don't look like any of us." He would deny that he was and I would point out as "proof" that his adoption papers were in the metal box (a safe assertion since I knew it was locked). Picture a cute toddler sitting on the floor, bawling his eyes out and madly trying to open a metal box that's almost as big as he is. Is it any wonder he became the demon little brother from hell? I guess I have only myself to "thank" for the torture that followed.

My brother's life has never been dull...never. As a young boy, he could be found on the mornings after my folks had hosted faculty cocktail parties sitting in the living room, sucking up the melted-ice highball residue and trying to smoke the cigarette butts filling the ashtrays. There was the time he set fire to a spare mattress stored in the garage before he calmly came in to join us for dinner...a quiet meal until my father wondered, "What's that smell?..." He was a gambler from the time he could hold a pair of dice or a deck of cards in his little hands, once winning the entire contents of my piggy bank in a poker game...until I bawled my eyes out and my father made him give it all back. (He still resents that one.) Once, after school, he felt compelled to remove every stitch of clothing, fill his baby bathtub (which he found atop the freezer in the garage) with ice cold water from the backyard hose and run the length of the backyard, screaming like a banshee, to repeatedly jump into his frigid "pool" with glee. There was the time he stuck Q-Tips in each nostril and ear, walked into the kitchen and asked my mother and me, "What am I?" "Um, a Martian?" "No (said with disdain), a washing machine."

And those are just a very few highlights from when he was a young boy. His later adventures as a teenager, young man and now middle-aged guy are WAY too numerous to mention. Suffice it to say that you probably don't know too many people who would open their suitcase in John Day, Oregon en route to a hunting trip in Idaho and discover it mostly filled with his wife's clothing...and one week later get a call on your cell phone as you're lounging at home on a Sunday morning, inviting you to do the radar gun at Wrigley for game 7 of the Cubs-Marlins series. My brother's life: unpredictable, unexpected, wacky...never dull.

So consider this an homage to my little brother, who's much bigger than many ways. I'm sure he thinks my life is incredibly dull in comparison. I'm just glad he lives the BIG life he does. I get to giggle with enjoyment vicariously...and still get some peace and quiet.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Sting & Trudie in Islamabad

I know it's really obnoxious to relate one's dreams because, really, if you're not there it's just not that fascinating. But it's my blog and I'll write what the hell I want.

It began with some kind of family/close friend get-together that included a trip to Afghanistan...except it didn't seem like Afghanistan. We were all hanging out in this large room, preparing our "bits" as it were, because we were going to stage a family talent show. I was quite proud of my aunt who said she'd prepared a spoken word piece. My aunt...who's so shy she'd probably never get up in a room full of people to say a word about anything...a "spoken word piece." She rocked in this dream! I can't remember what I planned to do, but I remember thinking all of a sudden that ol' auntie might be some stiff competition.

But then it sort of morphed into a pathetic "Queen for a Day" contest. And suddenly Hildy, the Trading Spaces designer, was there with her unattractive, very Catholic, Irish husband and their six kids (hence the Catholic angle). I remember thinking, "Wait a minute, I thought she lived in Paris with her French husband." But you couldn't help but feel some affection for her and her ugly family (and these were some unattractive kids) because they all had problems of some sort. The lone son had a metal plate in his head (you could see it through the skin), some of the girls were learning disabed, etc. And brave Hildy was not only holding down her full-time designing job with "TS," she was going to great lengths to do everything for her visiting her oldest daughter at boarding school and hand-washing the 25 or so white blouses she needed for her school uniform. I couldn't help but vote for Hildy.

You'd have to be really old (my age) to remember that truly weird "game show" from the (early?) 60's called "Queen for a Day." I used to LOVE that show when I was little. But I don't think I understood--at all--that these women were competing to see who had the saddest, most pathetic life. I was focused on the word QUEEN. What I remember is that whoever won that day's contest would have a tiara placed on her head (at least that's what I remember, unless I made it up) and would then be awarded some kind of prize...a new washer and dryer, say. I lived for the moment at the end of the show when some "lucky" gal would be crowned queen.

But back to the dream... After "voting" for Hildy to win our pathetic contest, next thing I knew I was walking into a hotel in Islamabad, asking for Sting and Trudie's room. Turned out they were in the first room next to the desk. When I walked in, they were both in their jammies and in bed. Actually Sting was in bed reading with his glasses on and Trudie was sitting on a hard-backed chair next to the bed, with one foot on the bed, massaging a spot on her very pregnant belly. She looked like she was about to give birth any minute. On one wall in their room there was a dutch door and the top was open, and it opened right onto the front desk area. I thought that didn't give much (okay, any) privacy, but they said they stayed there all the time and the staff was like family and they liked it that way. (Must have made it interesting for the staff with all the legendary tantric sex going on...)

Suddenly Trudie seemed to be near to going into labor and Sting began to hustle about to get her to their doctor. They called for a car and their favorite (underground) driver. But then it became clear that I'd have to get back to Afghanistan somehow. So as we milled about in front of the hotel with many others who were trying to get one of the scarce taxis, I saw his driver arrive on foot. Sting intercepted him, whispered something to him, slipped some money into his hand and then the driver took off in the direction from which he'd arrived. More and more people arrived to get into the taxi line. And there was a similar line across the street. I remember looking across and marveling at all the Brits that seemed to be in Islamabad and someone said to me, "Oh yes, there's a heavy British influence." (How did I know they were British? The accents.)

I was commenting to Sting that I didn't know how I could have been so stupid as to come into Pakistan without my documents. He told me not to worry about it, that people did it all the time and mostly because they wanted to disappear into Pakistan and stay for awhile. Trudie and I were chatting with a British woman who had two small daughters still in their lacy first communion dresses; we were complimenting them on their outfits. Finally, a tall Pakistani man showed up. Sting introduced me and said he would drive me back to Afghanistan and I looked in the street and saw a small sedan waiting with the back door open. I hugged Sting, thanked him and whispered, "Did you pay him?" He just smiled and shrugged. I whispered again, "Please tell me how much you paid him so I can pay you back." He just shrugged again as if to say, don't worry about it. I hugged Trudie and thanked her and wished her well with the birth.

Then I approached the driver, as if to shake his hand...and he suddenly planted a very wet kiss on my lips. There was nothing romantic or perverse about it and he didn't seem lecherous...I just assumed it was some weird Pakistani custom to kiss a total stranger on the lips in greeting. Then I stepped off the curb, suddenly feeling a tad afraid since I was about to get into a car with a strange Pakistani man and hoping that his intentions were honorable and he really would drive me to Afghanistan...and I looked around again and thought that Pakistan really did sort of look the way I imagined...and I thought quickly of Daniel Pearl...and wondered how all this would turn out............and then I woke up.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Celebrity Blogs

I can't say I read very many celeblogs, mainly because I'm not aware of many. Not that I would tend to think that any "celebrity" would read more interestingly than all the blogs I do read and enjoy. But if you'd like to check out a few that I do occasionally read, here they are:

Once in awhile I might check Bill Maher's blog...but truthfully, I'm not really a Maher fan.

What I like about Jeff Bridges' site is that it's all handwritten, so his blog includes his doodles and artwork. He doesn't post very often. He's currently promoting his book of photographs...proceeds to benefit The Motion Picture and Television Fund.

I'm almost entirely unfamiliar with Moby's music, but I enjoy reading his Tour Diary. Sort of a misnomer since it's really his daily blog, even when he's not on the road. He posts a LOT (often more than once a day). He's co-sponsoring a contest with to solicit 30-second ads exposing the real George W. If you'd like more info, go here.

But my absolute favorite celebrity blog belongs to Margaret Cho. She rocks!! She posts pretty much daily and they're long, well-written missives. Check out her 10/30 post...go to the last paragraph (after the sex scandal part) and read how she's always leaving social gatherings acting like she's got somewhere better to go... (Turns out she's also one of the judges of the "bushin30seconds" contest.)

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Get the Chi Flowing!

Yesterday I honored a commitment to myself to begin working on a creative idea I've had for awhile. Boyfriend and I went to the beach to have a late breakfast. He asked if I planned to spend the afternoon there while he went to play golf. I thought about it, but instead decided to start work on a project I've had floating around in my head for quite awhile.

I began the whole process with a mid-day soak in a bubble bath...foreplay for the creative process, I guess. While I was in the tub, I flipped open Natalie Goldberg's "Writing Down the Bones" at random and started reading. I've had that book for at least 13 years, and it never fails to inspire me.

I spent a couple of hours working on said project, then curled up in bed with a book I was nearing the end of. I finished the book, and fell into a deep sleep. I napped for a couple of hours, got up and started on my project again. A couple of hours later I started dinner, and dined with the boyfriend before he had to leave for a gig. He was gone for 5 hours and when he returned, I was right where I'd been when he left...still "working." That, my friends, means one is enjoying oneself, n'est-ce pas?

I awoke very early this morning, full of more ideas for my project. So I'm raring to get back to it. But here's the great side benefit: I also feel ready to tackle all this hideous housework I've been putting off for weeks. Releasing all that creative energy (rather than keeping it bottled up in my MIND), has given me all kinds of energy to do all kinds of other stuff.

At the risk of sounding too airy-fairy, I really do believe in the whole concept of energy...and how we need to keep it moving.

When my coworker recently left for Florida, I tackled the clean-up of her work area immediately after she'd vacated the office. And since she was a world-class procrastinator (and quite a pessimist, to boot), there was a dire need to "get the energy flowing" again in what had been her workspace. Going through the detritus of her 16 years there--and discarding a good portion of it--made that workspace seem like new. The whole "vibe" of the office feels different now; it feels much lighter.

I KNOW all this, but I still sometimes allow myself to wallow in my valley of unmotivated sloth...even though I know what I need to do to get out of the valley so I can frolic on the hilltops.

So here's your task for today: Got an idea that's been percolating for awhile? Have you felt too drained by your boring day job or personal responsibiltiies to do anything about it? Or too unmotivated to even tackle it because you feel like no one will like it anyway? Well, today's your day: take even one little step to START...and get ready to have a lot more energy for the steps to follow. The most important person who needs to like it is YOU...and if you're doing something to please yourself, well, isn't that what it's all about anyway?