Monday, March 29, 2004

Mind Clearing

All day at work I had a non-work issue gnawing away at my thoughts. I kept turning things over and over in my mind. I decided around lunchtime that the best immediate antidote would be a walk on the beach after work. The boyfriend was home when I got home. I asked if he wanted to come with me, knowing he wouldn't feel like walking (since he'd been working outside all day), but I thought he might like to just sit and read for a bit. He said he was tired and didn't feel like going anywhere. I said I understood, but then asked him again...repeatedly. He kept laughing, "But you just said I didn't have to go." "Yeah, I know...I changed my mind." I don't know why it felt so important to me to have him go with me. After all, I've taken plenty of solo walks at the beach. He went with me. He took his new book and sat at a picnic table and read while I walked the length of the beach, twice. After my walk, as we were sitting there looking out at the bay, he said, "It's so quiet here this time of day. This is a nice time to come." It had been a long time since he'd been to the beach after work; I guess he'd forgotten how relaxing it can be.

The walk was great, but the entire time I was rehashing all the same thoughts. Even so, I felt much better. The feel of the sand between my toes...the water splashing around my ankles...the shimmery late afternoon light on the bay as the sun ducked in and out of clouds. I looked around to take it all in and reminded myself to feel enormously grateful to be basking in such beauty. And that in the face of such natural beauty all that other crap was really petty and meaningless.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Rock Mythology

The boyfriend and I went back to bed late morning for some much needed canoodling. (His schedule has been crazy the last couple of weeks.) We had the laptop on the bed between us and as we were surfing, I reached over and flipped on the radio. It came on in the middle of a song that coincidentally was a cut from a good friend's new CD. (Boyfriend was in his band for seven years.) A short while later, boyfriend said about a different song, "That's really tacky. Who IS that?" I laughed and said, "Bob Dylan. You don't know Dylan's voice?" It's moments like that when I feel our 8-year age difference. Later in the song, Dylan launched into a harmonica solo and the boyfriend made a horrible grimace, shook his head from side to side and said, "Oh my gawd! Imagine being on stage and hearing THAT coming out of the monitors!" So much for workshipping at the altar of one of the rock gods. I've never been a Dylan fan, so it's nice to know that I'm not the ony one who doesn't get the adoration and reverence thrown in his direction. But then I've always thought the same thing about the Dead, too.

Concert Update

I went to the boyfriend's gig at the University last night. It was almost like HE was the guest artist. The featured artist (bassist) they'd flown in from New York only played one song each set. He asked the boyfriend before the show if he'd be willing to do some improvisational stuff that wasn't on the program. The boyfriend said sure, he loves big band music. He told the guy it was his first love when he was starting out and that he was playing with a big band in Portland right before we moved. It was then that the N.Y. guy asked, "You're from Portland? Then you must know my 'homeboy.'" Turns out he's originally from Indianapolis, as was the great bassist Leroy Vinnegar, who spent the last part of his life in Portland. So they had someone in common.

During intermission, I told the boyfriend that the batteries on the digital camera were about to go and asked if there was a particular song during the second set he'd like to have some video of. He said not really, but then reluctantly added, "The first song has 13 bars of drums." Check. Drum solo during the first song. They went back on stage and started playing. I held off turning on the camera until I thought the drum solo might be close, trying to conserve the meager battery energy. He started his solo, I turned on the camera, pressed the shutter to start recording...and it died. And it was a great solo, too!

The guest bassist played his second song near the end of the show and then announced that he wanted to play something with just the boyfriend on drums. It was an improvisational piece called "Percussion Discussion" originally done by Charles Mingus and Max Roach. Right before they began, the bassist asked the band director to move the music stands left by the other bassist that were right in front of the boyfriend "so they can see the Maestro at work." My boyfriend is extremely humble and modest and almost goes out of his way to not draw attention to himself. At the end of the concert, the band director thanked a bunch of people and singled out the boyfriend who had only come in last Monday to start playing with the ensemble. I knew all of the fawning was probably really making him squirm. On the drive home, I had him cracking up when I said about halfway through all the adoring comments I suddenly heard Molly Shannon's voice when she used to do that dorky "SNL" character as she'd thrust her arms into the air and stage-whisper, "Superstar!" Needless to say, I'd done it to him about 10 times since then.

Saturday, March 27, 2004


I see I haven't posted here all week. It's been the kind of week where each morning I think, "Just get to the weekend." Not that there's been anything horrible going on--I've just been tired and feeling uninspired. Sometimes my insomniac sleep cycle gets even more out of whack and I end up feeling really lethargic. The boyfriend gets off work at noon on Fridays. Yesterday morning he asked if I'd pick him up at lunchtime so he could use the car in the afternoon to run errands. As we were driving back to my office, I was commenting on what a difference it made this week to not have spent last Sunday at the beach, as we usually do. (Between his gig schedule and some showery weather, it didn't happen.) That day at the beach (and yes, we are incredibly lucky to get to experience that year-round!!) really recharges my batteries and relaxes me for the coming week. He said he could feel the difference, too. We've had some good showers this week and a doozy of a one last night--so much so that he went off to his gig (at an outdoor restaurant) and arrived home shortly afterward because it had been canceled. The forecast is for more of the same over the weekend. I almost don't care if it pours tomorrow--we gotta get to the beach! Actually, we've been known to frolic like fish in the water during a heavy shower (the water feels warmer when it rains...why is that?) He's got a golf game scheduled with his buddy today (they've been playing together every Saturday for the last couple of months). He's had a crazy gig schedule the last couple of weeks, so I should let him sleep him. But I might have to wake him in time to hit the beach for breakfast just to get a little beach hit before he heads to the course. Of course, I could spend all day at the beach if I felt like it. But I tend to "force" myself to stay home on Saturday afternoons just to try to do SOMETHING to tidy up the house (not that it usually gets done). :) Oooh, I just remembered...he grabbed the mail yesterday and we've got a bunch of new magazines and catalogs. Well, you know what I'll be doing while I wait for him to show up on the part of the course where I can watch them!

Tonight he's playing the Spring Concert with the University of the Virgin Islands Big Band. He's not even a member of the band, but got called for the gig. They rehearsed Monday and Wednesday nights. Wednesday night's rehearsal included the guest artist, a bass player named Larry Ridley. (I've never heard of him.) He looks like an older gentleman from his picture in the paper. It says he's executive director of the African American Jazz Caucus. Don't know what that is, but it sounds good. He's also been inducted into Downbeat magazine's "Jazz Education Hall of Fame." I asked the boyfriend when he got home from rehearsal Wednesday night, "So, how was the bass player?" "Okay." He makes me laugh. I guess when you have the kind of chops my boy's got it takes a LOT to impress him. I rarely go to his gigs, but I do plan to go tonight. I LOVE to hear him play big band music and it's one of his big loves--going all the way back to when he was at Oregon's Mt. Hood Community College on a jazz scholarship. He was a member of their award-winning Jazz Lab Band where his bandmates included: Chris Botti (a trumpeter who has a solo career, lately a member of Sting's band and more cheesily, the bandleader on the "Caroline Rhea" show), Ben Wolfe (a bass player who's spent years touring with Diana Krall and Wynton Marsalis' Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra) and Todd Field (actor and award-winning director of "In the Bedroom"--he played trombone...if you saw Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," Todd played pianist Nick Nightingale...Tom Cruise goes to the club to hear him and when the band gets ready to take a break, Todd introduces the band members and uses the name of one of their Mt. Hood teachers...a bit of movie trivia for ya.) And those are just the more well-known members. It was a talented group. So I'm looking forward to hearing him lay down some serious swing tonight.

But the first order of business is a big mug of strong decaf while checking out one of Yahoo's Daily Picks. If you want to start your weekend with some art created by a bunch of visual pioneers, click here.

Have a good one.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


Just been watching the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction on VH1. Specifically, Prince. I love that he said he had something to say "to the young artists": "A true friend or mentor is not on your payroll." True 'nuff. So glad he said that.


So I'm lying in bed just now, listening to the radio and trying to fall asleep. The boyfriend's conked out. I'm tuned into "Coast to Coast" which we've listened to for years. I hear this (sounds young) guy call in to say his name is Brent and he used to live in my hometown (in very Northern California). He mentions how there have been a lot of Bigfoot sightings in that area and proceeds to tell a story about him and his five buddies out in the woods late one night playing paintball. They had split up into teams of three. He and his two teammates hear a lot of thrashing sounds in the bushes so they give chase thinking it's the other team. They run about 100 to 150 yards and come to a clearing...and there's an 8 or 9 foot tall Bigfoot standing 20 or 30 feet in front of them. One guy immediately takes off, back the way they came. The caller said he was pretty winded from running all that way, so he's just standing there staring at it...and the other guy shoots it.

Somehow it tickled me to think of a paintball-splattered Bigfoot roaming my county. That is, unless we happen to cross paths with him next time we're camping there.

Saturday, March 20, 2004


The boyfriend is playing a gig tonight that was originally scheduled for Valentine's Day. He arrived at the designated rehearsal site a few days before Valentine's Day only to be told by one of the other musicians that the show had been canceled. Turned out the promoter hadn't, well, promoted it. It was rescheduled for this weekend and moved to a different venue.

In preparation for tonight's show (and because he skipped this week's rehearsals to do other gigs), he spent a big chunk of time this morning downloading the tunes off the rehearsal CD onto his min-disc player. He's now sitting on the balcony with his headphones on, sorting golf balls (don't ask) and humming 70's and 80's R&B tunes...LOUDLY. I don't know why I find this funny, but I do. He saw me laughing. "What?" (loudly). "Nothing" (big smile). God, I love him.

I wanted to make you aware of this new website. Check out the "about this" link and read Tonya's vision for her new site. Part of her plan for BuildYou is to post a "Challenge of the Week"...beginning today. It's not about making her rich or any of us famous--it's about promoting positive change and taking anonymous action in our communities to do so.

If you like what you read, please support her efforts in whatever way you see fit. Are you up to the challenge?

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Men and Handbags

What is it with men and purses? Why do so many men fear reaching into women's purses? The boyfriend and I have been together nine years and STILL he won't reach into my bag for my wallet and take some money out of it--even under strict orders from me to do so. We have made some progress though--at least now he'll reach into the bag for the wallet. For years, he'd simply pick up the bag and carry it to wherever I was, all the while holding it as if it held something grotesque or explosive.

I've known women who absolutely refuse to allow their mates anywhere near their purses. I have the opposite problem--my man won't go into my bag even when I beg him to. Somewhere along the line, his mother and three sisters must have drummed into his head that you NEVER touch a woman's handbag. It's a rule I'm finding hard to break.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Can't Stop Watching

I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but occasionally when the boyfriend is at a gig and there's nothing I particularly feel like watching on TV, I find myself flipping channels and settling on "Newlyweds." And if I start watching one episode and MTV's airing several back to back, I'll sit here numbly mesmerized until the boyfriend arrives home and wrests the remote from me. He can't stand to watch even a minute of this dreck, but I find it unbelievably entertaining. Mainly because there seems to be no limit to Jessica Simpson's ignorance on an infinite number of subjects. How can someone that age be so stupid about so many things?! In the time I watched tonight (in between flipping to other channels), I learned that she doesn't know about condoms, bratwurst (including how to pronounce it), pork, sausage, the ingredients of hot dogs, moguls (in skiing..."Or are they mobiles?") or how to make pancakes. (There were several others, but I've lost track.) If you want to feel like a freaking rocket scientist, watch this show. This girl is dumber'n a stick. And hey, gimme back that remote.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Birthday Boy

Our friends' son, Joseph, turned one on Friday and they had a party for him yesterday afternoon. He had just fallen asleep when we arrived, so we didn't get to see him up and about for awhile. The party was held in the pool area of the condo complex where they live. It's a nice setting--high up on a hill, overlooking the harbor and southwest part of the island (including the airport). But it seemed like a big to-do for such a little guy. I mean, was a DJ really necessary? I realize that was for the adults, but I could have done without the blasting music. (It's amazing what kids can sleep through.)

When Joe woke from his nap, he was (not surprisingly) a tad cranky. He didn't feel like blowing out the lone candle on his cake (and he had two--one was shaped like Elmo, the party's mascot) so his parents asked his little playmate who has the same caregiver if she would do it. She made a wish on Joe's behalf, told him what it was and blew out the candle. It was sweet. But they didn't let him open his presents. Boyfriend kept saying to me, "If they'd just let him rip into his gifts, I'm sure he'd be entertained for awhile..." Finally, as we were sitting in a corner of the poolhouse and Daddy came by with the birthday boy, we asked if we could slip him one of our gifts. We'd gotten him two: a Playskool learning tool that looks like a Palm Pilot that teaches letters and numbers and a Sesame Street Elmo guitar. (You know we had to give him SOMETHING related to music.)

We opened the guitar for him and that was all it took. It was a big hit. It has three buttons on the neck; each one plays a different electric guitar riff. He was sitting in boyfriend's lap "playing" the guitar and rocking out. And Joe LOVES to dance. When the DJ switched from calypso to R&B, Joe started bustin' a move. It was hilarious. He'd plant his feet fairly wide apart and start swiveling his hips...well, you just had to see it. Let's just say his big sister who's a senior in high school and watches a fair amount of BET may have been a strong influence. It tickled me no end. He's a cute kid to begin with...throw in some "Soul Train" moves and I'm a fan for life.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


I stopped by our mailbox place after work today and the car wouldn't start when I got in to leave. This has happened to me a handful of times in recent weeks and every time I tell the boyfriend, it elicits the same response, "Well, it NEVER happens to me." As if I'm somehow doing some stupid girlie thing to the car to make it stop working. He always says, "It just means the steering wheel is locked." What?! No, it doesn't, the steering wheel moves.

Anyway, I sat in the extremely hot car futilely trying to start it and after about 10 minutes I walked back into the mailbox place to borrow their phone so I could at least leave a message at home about what was going on. (I didn't think the boyfriend would be home; I assumed he'd be playing golf and he was.) But in typical fashion, the young West Indian woman sitting behind the counter continued her personal call for several minutes, basically ignoring me. So I stepped outside and saw that the gentleman who'd been inside with me earlier was now sitting in his SUV with his A/C running, reading a magazine. I knocked on his window, explained my problem and he said, "Your steering wheel is probably locked." What is it with men? And no, it wasn't the steering wheel, which he quickly discovered. Then he said, "Your neutral safety switch must be bad. Do you happen to have a paper clip?" He got under the dashboard and jerry-rigged something with part of a paper clip. No go. He had me turn on the lights, even though I'd told him the battery was okay. He checked the battery anyway and then several fuses related to the starter, all of which looked good. Finally he said we'd have to "pop start" it. So he nabbed the services of a Paint Depot employee who was roping down some goods on the back of a woman's pickup, and they pushed me backwards and then my helper pushed me across the (thankfully pretty empty) parking lot and I popped the clutch and I was on my way. I yelled my thank you's out the window, with him yelling back, "Don't turn it off!" Jeez, men must really think we're dumb.

He was very, very kind to help me out on a hot afternoon. Do you ever wonder in moments like that how that person came to be right where you needed him to be right when you needed him to be there? I do. But I don't really try too hard to figure out my incredibly good fortune in those moments...I just try to be thankful for it.

Saturday, March 06, 2004


I was just on the phone with my mother. She was telling me that she recently bought the DVD of "Miss Congeniality"--a movie she enjoys because it reminds her of her beauty pageant days.

My mother was our small town's first beauty queen when she was 15. It was a title she took to heart and as an adult, she incorporated as much beauty and glamour into her life as our tiny town could offer (which wasn't much, let me tell you). She and her best friend (a former Miss Memphis) modeled in all of the fashion shows and were "Goldwater Girls" and "Reagan Girls" when Barry and Ronnie came to town to run for President and Governor respectively. That basically entailed outfitting themselves in slim black pencil skirts, crisp white long-sleeved blouses, scarves nattily knotted at their necks, black stiletto pumps and white cowboy hats festooned with ribbons and campaign buttons. (The Reagan hat had a green ribbon and the Goldwater hat had a gold ribbon...or maybe it was just one hat and they just changed the ribbons...hmmmm...) They would stand next to the candidates as they disembarked from their planes and "look beautiful" for the local photo op.

My mother ran the local beauty pageant for years. It was one of the big events at the County Fair each August. She was grooming me to follow in her footsteps, even though I looked nothing like her (she was blonde, I'm dark) and I was a dorky, painfully skinny, extremely shy kid. Even so, she made me model in all of the fashion shows. I was a natural when it came to the modeling moves but must have looked incredibly uptight, because that's how I felt. I was also her little pageant helper. As such, I would help the less graceful girls learn their modeling routines. Some years pageant practice was held at a dress shop (that's what they called them in the early 60's) where my mother worked; later it was held in the studio at the AM station where she worked. She would hand off the hopeless cases to me and have me take them out to the sidewalk (at the dress shop) or into the hallway (at the station) to give them one-on-one modeling instruction. What must those teenage girls have thought about having to take modeling tips from a skinny 7-year-old?

The best part for me was pageant day itself. Mom always made sure I had a new outfit...and I'm not talking about just a baby-doll dress, but also matching fishnets and shoes (all purchased at discount at the department store where she worked.) There was a TINY travel trailer parked behind the stage. How she managed to squeeze 10 to 15 girls and their evening gowns into such a tiny space still amazes me. And yet they all managed to dress and change and primp in that space (including the standard contestant trick of rubbing Vaseline on one's teeth...helps you keep smiling). The Queen's court consisted of a 1st and 2nd runner-up, so there were three bouquets of gladiolas (each one a different color). I was just asking her on the phone why they always used gladiolas. She said it was gladiola season and they were long and filled out a bouquet. One of my jobs was to take those three bouquets and place them on top of the organ in the corner of the stage. That grandstand full of people looked HUGE to me as a little girl. I was so nervous walking onto that stage in front of all those people. I always prayed I wouldn't trip.

Annette was the organist. (Come on, does it get any cheesier? An organist!) Annette had converted her garage into a Baldwin showroom and sold organs out of her home. She also gave lessons. My mother's oldest friend, John, was always the Master of Ceremonies. He owned one of the insurance agencies. There were always three judges. The judges weren't necessarily qualified; I remember one year one of the judges was a guy who worked at the Feed Store. And it really was (and still is!) called the "Feed Store."

After the Queen had been crowned, she and her Court would walk to their booth in the new pavilion at the fairgrounds where they would greet their well-wishers. The winner always got a lot of prizes--gift certificates from local businesses mostly. And she got the chance to compete in the Miss California pageant in Sacramento, which my mother accompanied her to in her official role as pageant coordinator. They would always attend the horse races at the State Fair because there was a race named for our county. I can still recall the black-and-white 8x10's of my mother and various Queens standing next to the winning horse in the winner's circle after our county's race.

Later there was a local girl who won the Dairy Queen pageant. I was in 7th grade by that time. That was a two-county competition. My mother accompanied the Dairy Queen to whatever regional pageant she competed in (I can't recall now where it was). The Dairy Queen gave me a pair of her used brown cowboy boots. I had those boots for years, all through high school. Sort of wish I had them now.

In my opinion "Miss Congeniality" is just okay as a pageant movie. If you really want to get a good feel for what I'm talking about on a corny local level, get your hands on a 1975 Michael Ritchie-directed film called "Smile." That's the good one.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


It's been wintry here this week...or at least our version of it. Sunday was rainy and blustery and nasty. When we headed to the beach it just looked a bit overcast. But soon the showers arrived and they looked like they were going to last most of the day. So even though we were enjoying our rainy swim (the water often feels warmer in the rain), we packed it in. The sun returned yesterday, but the gusty winds have been constant this week. Whatever they're stirring up is aggravating my allergies. And my wacky insomnia has been unrelenting. So I've been feeling sleep deprived, sniffly and in the mood to not do much of anything except cuddle up under a blanket in my flannel pajamas. Today I even wore a sweater to work. A sweater! How pathetic that I'm swaddled in sweaters and pj's when it's 80 degrees outside. Acclimation's a bitch.