Wednesday, June 30, 2004

That Damn Demarcation

"...eventually a clear demarcation developed between 'work' and 'life.'"

Check out Jessamyn's 6/25 post about her neighborhood church bell. Then read the link that discusses the rise of the Protestant work ethic.

Monday, June 28, 2004


I have one brother; he's five years younger. Boyfriend and I are making plans to relocate to the mainland next year and the plan is to move somewhere near my brother and his family. So my brother has been on my mind quite a lot lately. He's a very unique individual and certainly one of the funniest people I know. But, man, he was a little shit when we were kids. Sometimes I really hated him. I know, I know, you're probably thinking: you didn't hate him, maybe you guys just fought a lot. No, sometimes I really hated him.

My brother can't stand to be told what to do. HATES IT. So you can imagine the two strikes that were already against me when my parents (both of whom worked) would leave me in charge and expect me to keep an eye on him. "Yeah," I'd think, "easy for you to say." I was expected to keep tabs on him after school and provide them with at least a vague idea as to the general vicinity where he might be found playing with his friends (and hopefully not getting into any major trouble).

But if I tried to tell him to do something? Look out! He once threw a set of coasters across the living room at me, screaming at the top of his lungs, "YOU'RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME!" He also used to like to chase me down the street with various items. He chased me with a butcher knife, a golf club, a baseball bat and a dead garter snake. (Thankfully not all at once.) I'm not very fast...unless there's a snake involved.

And the torture didn't abate once we got older. When I was in high school, and he was at that most devilish middle school age, there was one afternoon when he and his buddy decided to unscrew all of the light bulbs in the living room, attach a long string to the inside doorknob on the front door and hide behind the couch. We lived in a small town and in those days most people didn't bother to lock their front doors. I arrived home after dark with my best friend Colleen in tow. The house was pitch dark. Our parents were divorced by that time and we lived with our Dad. It wasn't unusual given our schedules for the three of us to be coming and going at different times, so I didn't think twice about the darkened house--just figured that my Dad wasn't home yet and my brother was probably at our grandmother's house.

I walked up the front steps, put my hand on the door handle and as I started to depress it, the door seemed to open almost by itself. I flipped the light switch next to the front door. Nothing. There was a pole lamp (remember those?) a few feet from the front door, so I walked over to it (it was illuminated faintly by the streetlight) and reached up to turn it on. Click. Click. Nothing. The closet door was right next to the front door. I began to panic that maybe there was an intruder hiding in the closet. After all, I was the same girl who believed for years that Lee Harvey Oswald's ghost lived in my Dad's bedroom closet, so an intruder in the coat closet wasn't a big leap for me. I started calling my brother's name, wanting to make sure he was okay if he was home (since technically I was always supposed to be keeping an eye on him). "Marty? Marty?" and then more sheepishly as I began to really fear that a serial killer was about to leap from the closet at any moment: "Maaarrrty???" Then it dawned on me that if it was my brother playing a joke on me, I didn't want to give the little shit the satisfaction of scaring me, so I turned to Colleen (who was waiting on the porch) and suggested we take off and come back later. (Yeah, like when Dad was home and every light was on in the house.) Just then Marty and his buddy leaped from behind the couch where they'd been cowering with my panty hose over their pre-adolescent heads for extra effect.

To this day, my brother still laughs about it. "Maaarrrty???"

I'm very fond of my brother now that we're adults. But still. All I'm gonna say is: I still haven't paid him back for that one.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

BREAKFAST Posted by Hello

LUNCH Posted by Hello

SIESTA Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Behind Closed Drawers

Funny story. See, I'm working at the little drug store around the corner from my house. I worked there after school my junior and senior years of high school and full-time during the summers following both school years. This would have been my junior year. I won't tell you what year that was because then you'd feel compelled to saw me in half to count the rings in my center and find that I'm approaching the Methuselah bracket. Let's just say I wore hot pants to work. Yes, hot pants. And I wore the hell out of them, too. It's not for nothing that one of my father's best friends nicknamed me 'Wheels' when I took his freshman algebra class. (Oh sure, it's sexual harassment now.) So there I was in my hot pants and my waist-length straight brown hair. A young Crystal Gayle. One afternoon a guy who was two years ahead of me in school came into the store. We didn't know each other, but knew of each other. It wasn't a teensy school (there were 1,200 students) but it was the only high school in the county, my dad was a teacher and coach there, I had been a cheerleader and everybody sort of knew everybody--even if you didn't say "Hi" when you passed in the hallways. This guy had graduated the year before. His name was Robert. He had blonde hair. He walked up to the counter where I happened to be standing behind the gargantuan (now antique) cash register. He sort of lowered his head and said, "I'd like to buy some prophylactics, please." I replied, "What?" Robert's blonde head began to turn red. He repeated, "I'd like to buy a box of prophylactics, please." Again, I responded, "What??" By now, Rudolph's nose had nothing on Robert's cheeks--he was ablaze. I had no earthly idea what in the hell convoluted thing he was asking for. And then, because I'm real poised and everything, I yelled, "Hey, Laura, come 'ere, will ya?" My coworker Laura was a lovely blonde middle-aged woman. I never had the heart to tell her that all the girls at school considered her two sons total hunks. Instead I would ask in my most practiced casual voice about the older one, "So, how's Gary?" Anyway, back to Robert. I turned to Robert (who was now a beet-red quivering puddle) in my best 'I can speak perfectly adequately before the entire school in an assembly but have absolutely no interpersonal skills in a one-on-one interaction' fashion and loudly ordered him to, "Tell her what you want, because I don't know what you're saying." And for the third time, he managed to whisper, "I'd like to buy some prophylactics, PLEASE." Laura, ever the model of grace and decorum in her blue uniform (not required but I guess it made her feel 'official'), bowed her head slightly and quietly responded, "Yes, of course." Then she walked up the two steps leading to the pharmacy section behind us, bent down to grab something out of one of the bottom drawers and pulled out a box of Trojans. When she returned to the register with them, I exclaimed (because I'm so poised and all), "Oh, RUBBERS!" And then to Robert, "Why didn't you just say so?"

Friday, June 25, 2004


Might I suggest this as a way to end your workweek (or as a general prescription for whatever ails ya):

When you arrive home from work on Friday afternoon, make a beeline for the bedroom. Peel off your clothes and put on your oldest, funkiest swimsuit. You have others that are newer and cuter, but for total comfort you like the old faded one because it's so well-worn that it's like bikini pajamas. You throw on your favorite turquoise tank top and denim cut-offs and stick a five-dollar bill in your back pocket. You put on your shades and grab a beach towel and a white cotton hat. You kiss your love goodbye and jump in the car. A few minutes later you arrive at the beach; it's only 5:00. You leave your flip-flops in the car and head for the water. You look for a deserted stretch of beach, but there are very few people there anyway. You choose a spot right in front of the bar and snack bar which will be closing shortly. You peel off your clothes (this seems to be a pattern) and walk into the water. Two or three steps in, you see a school of fish swimming all around you. You think, "Hi, Nemo!" The water is perfect. You swim. You float on your back and look at the very blue sky and the fluffy white clouds. You think what a lucky girl you are to live in the Caribbean. You have forgotten you even have a job. You swim for awhile and then get out and hastily towel off. You throw your clothes back on, stick the hat on your head and walk to the western edge of the beach, splashing in the surf the entire way. You walk back to your original spot, remove your clothes again and go for another swim. You imagine a grown-up telling you it's time to get out. You imagine responding, "Do I HAVE to??" You get out, grab your towel off the sand and briefly dry off. You throw your clothes on, even though you're still kinda sandy. You jump back in the car and stop at Udder Delight (the dairy shack) on the way home. You walk into the shack, grab a half-gallon of coffee ice cream out of the cooler and hand the nice lady your five-dollar bill. You arrive home with a big smile on your face.

For best results, repeat as necessary. (Preferably every day.)


...I'd spend the rest of my life traveling the world without a permanent home
...I'd live in a world where a piece of government paper doesn't determine whether or not I'm 'married' to someone
...I'd spend my days writing
...I'd be the best auntie in the whole world
...I'd have a place at home just for 'play' things and not necessarily 'grown-up' ones either (crayons, finger paints, construction paper, beads, beach glass, glitter, rubber-handled scissors, teddy bears)
...I'd bring writers and musicians into schools and have them improvise together
...I'd never work in an office again
...I'd drive across America camping the entire way
...I'd give workshops
...I'd own a space that would be a combo coffee (and tea) house/performance space/newstand/bookstore/drive-in theatre
...I'd have my own line of greeting cards
...I'd be unafraid to take the pictures I'd like to take
...I'd own a trailer or motorhome and revel in being 'trailer trash'
...I'd get a massage every day
...I'd carry a Polaroid with me everywhere, letting go of my attachment to 'permanent' photos
...I'd go to a lot of baseball games
...I'd have a gaggle of girlfriends spread across the world who'd want to meet periodically to inspire each other
...I'd stop trying to be anything remotely like what my family wants me to be..and just
...I'd stop growing older chronologically and just continue to grow emotionally
...I'd create radio programming for kids
...I'd stop being friends with fear
...I'd never have to do housework (or cook)
...I'd spend time walking outdoors every day
...I'd be content with impermanence...and not chastise myself for thinking I 'shouldn't' crave it
...I'd visit as many bookstores as possible
...I'd wear only the clothes I like, regardless of how much they cost
...I'd operate solely from a mission of empowerment (for myself and everyone else)
...I'd find there's a big market for magic wands

Guess I'd better get busy...

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Soap Blogera

I realize reality shows are the soaps for the new millenium, but aren't blogs, also? Who needs "All My Children" when we can tune in to our favorite blogs whenever the hell we want and live vicariously? The soap thing came to mind this morning as I was reading a couple of online journals and thought: wow, this is getting sort of complicated and messy And sometimes the comments are the best part. (Comments: the equivalent of talking back to the TV.)

And just like reality TV, the fascination of blogs and online journals is that they're real--or what the writer chooses to present as real. We don't care if it's factual or not--we just want to be entertained and moved and humored. And it's amazing what we'll put out there for the entire web to read. Often we write about things we wouldn't think of disclosing to our closest friends. Why? Why does it sometimes feel safer in the blogging community?

I don't know the answer. But I do know I plan to keep reading. It's going to be an interesting summer.

Sleepwalking through Paradise

As I was walking on the beach early yesterday evening, I thought: if people could see where I am right now, I'm sure they would find it hard to understand why I didn't choose to spend every day of the past four years here. And I thought about all the times I've stayed away from my favorite beach. How sometimes months would go by between my visits. Months. It seems insane to me now, but then I remember how I felt during those times...and how I was just trying to hold on.

It's easy to observe someone's life and think how 'lucky' they are in certain ways. I'm as guilty of that as the next person. And living in the Caribbean makes me a big target for those kinds of thoughts, because lots of people fantasize about leaving the 'real world' behind and spending their days lolling on a warm, tropical island. But unless one is independently wealthy, living here isn't a whole lot different than living anywhere else. We still get up and go to work at regular jobs--we just do it in a place where it's warm every day and where we're surrounded by gorgeous water which gives us beautiful beaches. It's possible to sleepwalk through one's life regardless of the setting. And I did that for a chunk of time--probably about two years, to be exact.

As some people know, 2002 was one of the hardest years of my life. I won't elaborate here on why that was...but it was. And it was made even harder because I live in the tropics. Some people have a hard time understanding how one could possibly be depressed when one lives in 'paradise.' But I was deeply depressed, and in keeping with my character hardly anyone knew it. I kept up a very good front and went about my life as if it was business as day. But once I was home, I rarely left.

The whole north side of our condo is floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors. And since we prefer fresh air over air conditioning, we have the sliders open 24/7. It's a small condo but it feels larger than it is because of the windows--and having the doors open gives us the effect of always feeling like we're bringing the outside in. Every single day of the year, we feel the breeze and hear the sounds of our surroundings. It's been an absolutely lovely way to live...and it's been my sanctuary through some rough times.

Last year, things began to get better. Some things changed and I began to rebound. And maybe because I've had a peaks-n-valleys kind of life -- because it's been filled with some fabulous highs and some heart-wrenching lows -- I savor the good times even more. Because truth be told, I wouldn't enjoy walking on the beach as much as I do now...if I hadn't spent that time sleepwalking through my life.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Jet Airliner

Jen had a great post today about acknowledging dreams that have already come true. She wrote how sometimes we're so busy running toward our new dreams that we forget to take time to recognize those that have already come to fruition. It was a good reminder for me today. Here are a few I once dreamed of or fantasized about that I can check off my list:

*living with a man who's my soulmate
*living in the Caribbean
*seeing tons of fabulous live music shows (and that was before I met the boyfriend!)
*being an auntie
*getting sober
*being a television producer
*being paid to write
*overcoming my shyness enough to be funny
*studying dance
*traveling solo to some of my favorite cities (and Europe)


I heard a song on the radio driving home from work today that made me think of a summer, long ago. The boyfriend has gone to the gym and I'm rockin' out to this...and if I look across the room, I can see a picture of my love with headphones on, standing in front of a mike in the guy's home studio...


Think opposites attract? Quick, a 5-minute free association. Ready? Go!

release - bind
empathize - ridicule
compassion - disgust
hope - fear
acceptance - judgment
exuberance - dread
relaxation - panic
life - drama
action - inertia
art - business
beauty - mask
speak - repress
empower - control
boundaries - dependency
hear - ignore
enjoy - disappoint
playful - limited
calmness - anxiety
satisfaction - annoyance
contentment - irritation


Just want to say that I've been getting a big vicarious thrill out of reading about Beth's journey. I'll be sorry to see it end. It occurs to me that I don't even know where 'home' is for her...where will she end up?

Monday, June 21, 2004


Just finished watching "Bridget Jones' Diary" on TBS. I own it but hadn't seen it in a good long while. Perfect movie for an evening alone, as the boyfriend is at a gig on St. John. I adore the woman who plays her mother. This movie and "About a Boy" always make me think that Hugh Grant's bad-boy portrayals are probably a lot closer to his real personality. And, of course, who can forget "Tits Pervert?"

I can remember reading the book while commuting on Max (light rail) in Portland. I'd sometimes have to stop reading because I'd be laughing so hard. Not sure I'd find it that funny now--maybe my dating days are too far in the past.

Zipped through this book over the weekend. I read a feature on Meghan Daum awhile back (in "O" maybe) about how she'd left behind her life in N.Y. and settled in a tiny farmhouse in Nebraska with her boyfriend and his kids. So the entire book I kept wondering if the 'novel' was just a thinly veiled account of her life. It was alright, I suppose. Many of the blurbs mentioned its wit; I didn't find it that funny. In fact, now that I think about it, I didn't laugh once...I might not have even smiled.

Maybe my humor expectations are too high. I want to read something that's going to make me laugh so hard I'll cease making noise. You know that kind of doubled-over silent laughter that makes you cry? I like books that makes me laugh like that.

David Sedaris can do that for me. I'm trying to think of other writers who make me laugh that hard. I went to a couple of readings in Portland given by a female (L.A.) humor/comedy writer. I didn't find her books very funny at all. (At the second reading, she said she'd just seen a hilarious new film, "Waiting for Guffman." Now that's funny. The movie, I mean--not her comment.) Although she did flatter me once...I suppose. I went to one of the readings on the way to a gig. When I got to the club, I joined the boyfriend at the bar (he was on break), where I pulled the book out of my bag to show it to him and we read the inscription. She'd written, "You are the most impressive person here -- and I believe you know it." I have no earthly idea why she wrote that, since I hadn't spoken a word at the reading, nor did I say anything to her as she signed my book, except my name which she asked of each buyer. It makes me sound so arrogant. That's me...the arrogant mute.


Four years ago today, I boarded an American Airlines flight in Portland, Oregon with a one-way ticket in my hand. I was bound for a brand-new life in a place I'd only seen in a guidebook. It turned out to be everything, and nothing, I imagined it would be.

Boyfriend had come here two months earlier to get things set up for us and make sure we could make a life here. He emailed me 24 hours after his arrival. He'd already made contact with the place he hoped would become his employer (and it was, 5 months later) and searched the want ads for job opportunities for me. He sounded excited and hopeful and romantic--and that was all I needed to hear.

Initially I thought I might follow in about six months time, but we'd never been apart for more than three weeks at a time (when he'd been on the road) in our five years together. When I read that first email, I kicked into high gear. I picked a departure date two months after his and got to work.

Friends, acquaintances and coworkers got such a vicarious thrill out of our move. They'd ask where I was moving, I'd say, "the Caribbean" and the response was always the same: they'd smile, their eyes would light up and they'd say (something like), "How lucky!"

Sometimes I remind myself of that when I don't feel lucky...when instead I feel stuck. Sometimes I smile when I think back to how exotic this place seemed to me in my early days here.

I arrived at 10:00 at night. Boyfriend picked me up in his friend's black Jeep convertible. (We had our own vehicle a week later.) We were driving on the 'wrong' side of the road. It was warm and humid. We drove along the waterfront, with downtown shops to our left and the harbor to our right. Eventually we began to climb a hill, and later an even higher hill. We went up a long, very steep driveway. Finally he came to a stop. He said, "We're here. This is your new home." 'Home' turned out to be a 2-story, 4-bedroom, 3-1/2-bath house with brick-colored ceramic tile floors, high ceilings, a balcony that spanned almost the entire front of the house, separate balconies off the bedrooms, and a view of the eastern part of the island below us and St. John, Tortola and Jost Van Dyke in the distance. It was the first 'band house' the club rented and we (as the hosts) had the master suite with our own bathroom. The other musicians weren't scheduled to arrive for another week. We walked out onto the balcony and looked out at the view. Boyfriend has a certain laugh that means he's really happy. He laughed in that way, wrapped his arms around me and said, "Welcome home." And I knew in that moment that I was...and it had nothing to do with the house.


Just read on Lopie's Journal about her just-completed trip to St. Louis where they saw a Chuck Berry show.

When I think of Chuck, I think "cash up front." When Chuck Berry goes on the road, he travels without a band. He's actually quite notorious for it. He plays with a pick-up band in each town--guys he's never met and never rehearsed with. And he always likes to be paid before he hits the stage. I don't know if he accepts only cash, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Boyfriend was in the pick-up band when Chuck played Portland once. He told me that Chuck showed up right at showtime...found the promoter and got paid...walked on stage where the band was already set up and nervously waiting...plugged in his guitar...called out a tune over his shoulder...and they were off and running. Needless to say, it's kind of a nerve-wracking gig to do.

Saturday, June 19, 2004


Just finished reading this. I enjoyed it just as much the second time. The narrator, Henry Shaw, is a wonderful character, quite witty at times. This isn't a witty passage, but I loved how Jane Hamilton described shame:

"Everyone would know, and all of us...would suffer shame. I could already imagine the shape of that feeling, the weaselly thing I'd have to beat back just to walk down the street in the morning."

Thursday, June 17, 2004


My father and brother arrived here yesterday...where they'll spend the rest of the week fishing and doing a little Father's Day bonding. I'm sure they're having a great time.


Andrea's 6/16 photo of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco just time-traveled me right back to 1986. I haven't thought about this in years.

My best friend, M., and I worked at a television production company in Marin County. I lived in Marin, she lived in San Francisco. One sunny Saturday I was at her place, waiting for her to primp so we could go somewhere. I don't know where her adorable boyfriend was, but he wasn't there. She had MTV on when I arrived and I sat on her couch, staring blankly at the screen while conducting a conversation with her while she was standing in front of the bathroom mirror. Suddenly, I noticed a promo they were running for a contest. They were asking viewers to send in videos of themselves telling why they should be chosen to go on the road with Genesis and act as a temporary MTV correspondent. We didn't give a rat's ass about Genesis, but I heard the words: " to Europe on the Concorde...spend two weeks in Paris...get $5,000 spending money..." and yelled to M. in the bathroom that we should enter her in the contest. (The winner got to bring a friend.) She was tall, blonde, pretty and photogenic. I hated being on camera, but knew she liked it (and she was a natural). I told her I'd come up with the whole concept, all she'd have to do is say a few words. We figured, what the hell?

So we went off and had our Saturday fun, all the while with me brainstorming ideas for this video. I quickly decided we'd shoot it at the Palace of Fine Arts. Her boyfriend owned a video camera (and most people didn't in those days); he agreed to shoot it. I wrote a script and a week later, we shot it at the Palace of Fine Arts on yet another sunny Saturday. I had her walking during part of the piece and the entire background cooperated perfectly. The wedding groups (it was always a popular place for wedding photos) weren't in our line of sight and the swans in the pond swam into the shot at the perfect moment. She stood in front of the pond as she said the last of the script and then her boyfriend pannned up slightly to catch the rays of the late afternoon sun. It turned out just the way we'd hoped. We mailed it off to MTV...and promptly forgot about it.

A few weeks later, M. got a call at work. She'd been selected as one of the five finalists for the contest. The videos for the final five were being shipped to Genesis in Barcelona where they were on tour. They band was going to choose the winner. They ended up choosing some dorky looking guy. I consoled M. by saying that I imagined it was the Genesis wives who'd probably nixed the idea of choosing her--that they probably wouldn't have liked the idea of this young hottie hitting the road with their hubbies for a couple of weeks. (Frankly, I wouldn't have liked it either if it had been me.)

But for a week or so (as we waited to hear who the band had selected) it was sure fun to fantasize about sitting on the Concorde, landing in Paris (one of my favorite cities) and spending all that cash...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Don't try this at home.

Evany's "patton, presents, and a small fire" was the second post I've read this week about Patton Oswalt's recent show in S.F. Okay, so the guy must be a helluva lot funnier in person than he is on "King of Queens." (Ahhh, Cobb's...I remember Cobb's...someday soon...actual comedy clubs...)

I needed a good laugh...and I got one reading the last paragraph.

Niece #1

What can I say about Kayla? She'll be 14 this summer. (She shares a birthday with Bill Clinton). She just completed 8th grade with a 4.0. She's an honors student and already on the J.V. cheerleading squad at her high school. She's 5'9" (yikes!) and so big in spirit. She's a great sister, poised, bright, creative, funny. When she was a toddler, she had a hard time pronouncing my name, so on her own she dubbed me "Moo Moo." So for the past 12 years I've been known within my family as "Auntie Moo Moo" (which is what the kids still call me)...and I wouldn't have it any other way. Posted by Hello

Niece #2

This is Ciara. She'd probably be horrified if she knew I was posting this picture because she was only five here. And now, of course, she's SIX, and very anxious to begin 2nd grade in September. We arrived home on Saturday afternoon to find a message from her mother calling from the car on their way home from Ciara's first swim meet. She won her heat in the 25-yard freestyle and placed 3rd overall in her age group (6 and under) for the 25-yard backstroke--even beating some of the 7- and 8-year-old's times in the backstroke, as she made sure to point out when I spoke to her later. I told her that the boyfriend wasn't home, having gone to St. John to play music, but that when he came home I'd be sure to let him know what kind of swimmer she is. She piped up, "A good one!" Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Juicy Fruit

Reading an excerpt from "An Embarrassment of Mangoes" got me thinking about, well, mangoes (or my preferred spelling of 'mangos'). Not an unusual topic, since I live in a place where they're abundant. But I gotta tell you, I don't have big love for the mango. I love mango used to flavor just about anything. But the fruit itself? Doesn't do much for me. When I tell locals that, they tell me that the mangos I've eaten must not have been fully ripe. Because I know people here that would knock down your grandmother to pick up a stray mango lying on the ground. Seriously. I was once in a large open-air taxi shuttle van (I was the only passenger at the time) when the driver stopped in the middle of a dangerously narrow section of a road to pick up a mango that was lying in the middle of it. (A good friend of ours had been in a horrible car accident in almost that exact spot a few years ago, so I wasn't exactly relaxed as I waited in the taxi since we were parked on a blind curve.)

Genips are another local favorite. (Try finding it in your dictionary.) If the mango is the queen of tropical fruits, the genip is the fourth cousin...twice removed. Now there's a fruit I don't get at all. They're small, round and green. They look like the kind of fruit you might see on a tree and think, "Oh, look, that tree appears to bear fruit"...but would make no attempt to actually eat it. When they're in season, people set up along the side of the road to sell clumps of them. The going rate is $1 for a clump. (Okay, a a bunch of grapes.) I've had a couple of different taxi drivers stop to buy genips while they were driving me...and then try to convince me to try one. Um, no thanks. I kind of like to wash my fruit before I eat it. Aside from the fact that that little green orb with the hard rind looks really unappealing to me. I did try one once. Didn't do anything for me, but when they're in season locals go crazy over 'em.

Now figs, those I can go for. Not the figs you're thinking of--these are small bananas. The first house we lived in here had a fig tree and those were the best bananas I've ever eaten--smooth and creamy and sweet. Yum! I haven't had a good fig in awhile, but we always have bananas in the house because those are boyfriend's favorite. If we have 10 bananas, I'm lucky to get one. That boy is a banana-eating machine! As is our secretary at work. When she was on Atkins, the food she missed the most was her bananas.

I thinking living in California for 40 years spoiled me into thinking that produce everywhere would be world-class. But it's not great here--in fact, it pretty much sucks. We were just in the market last night. Produce is the the first section you hit and I always get my hopes up that this time I'll see some great looking fruit, but it never happens that way. It's not that I can't find some of my favorite fruits, it's that the quality isn't there. (Could it be the humidity? Could it be that by the time the fruit hits the stores it hasn't held up well because it's not being stored 'properly'?)

So I dream of one day (soon!) living in a place where I can eat wonderful...

blackberries (and boysenberries and when in Oregon, marionberries!)
grapes (all varieties)

I'll eat other melons and apples, but I do it more just to do it, not because I crave them. And I feel rather sheepish in admitting this, but I'm not big on papayas either. (Shouldn't an 'island gal' be diggin' papayas?)

So as we wait for the very green bananas (there was no other kind) we bought last night to ripen on the counter, I'll have to settle for a lemon poppyseed muffin just out of the oven and a good cup of tea this morning.

But someday soon, I'm gonna make up for lost fruit.


Anyone interested in a Gmail account? I've got a couple of invites me (the link's on the profile page).

Monday, June 14, 2004


Summer has definitely arrived; the last week or so has felt significantly warmer. We've had hazy, bright-white skies for the last few days. Soon the African dust will appear. It typically arrives in June. Every year the sight of it amazes me--to be able to see the particles that have been blown this far from the Sahara.

As sunlight begins to flood our balconies in the morning and our minimal clothing becomes almost non-existent, I turn toward a certain kind of reading. If I can't take a literal summer trip, I at least like to see where others can take me through their words.

In my reading stack right now:

River Horse - William Least Heat Moon
Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nafisi
Small Wonder - Barbara Kingsolver
The Outermost House - Henry Beston

Also in the stack:

Child of My Heart - Alice McDermott (just finished)
Disobedience - Jane Hamilton (rereading it after it was recently returned to me two years after loaning it to someone)
The Quality of Life Report - Meghan Daum
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith (I started with the fourth book and figured I go back and read the others in order.)

Where will you be traveling this summer?


This morning I came across a small, slightly musty paperback squeezed in among the items on the bottom shelf of my bedside table. I pulled it out to discover it was Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. I was momentarily stumped since I had no recollection of buying that book. I looked at the yellowed edges of the pages and then gradually recalled visiting a friend's beachside cottage last summer where there'd been a small lending library on a bookshelf in the bedroom. I really must dust more often! :)

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Jelly Belly

This is where we spend most Sundays. No cruise ships today, but the locals were out in force. We ran into my friend L. and her son (13) when we arrived. She joined us for the afternoon while her son met up with some friends. We parked our chairs under a sea grape tree and kicked back. L. and I can talk. Boyfriend put his earphones in and we yakked it up. The water was just a tiny bit chilly, but it felt great once we were fully immersed. L. and I went in for awhile and later the boyfriend went for a swim. When L. and her son headed home, I went back in the water to cool off. Boyfriend was just getting out saying the water felt "weird" today...and that he felt itchy. We left shortly afterward, with him scratching all over during the short drive home. L. had asked me before we went into the water (since I recently spent nine days in a row at this beach with my visiting mother) if I'd noticed any itchiness last week after being in the water. I said I hadn't. She said it's almost time for jellyfish season. (She's lived here for 20+ years.) I think boyfriend may have come into contact with some larvae. We hit the the shower pronto! Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 12, 2004

A Fine Romance

Last night boyfriend said he planned to play golf early this morning and asked if I'd like to go with him. Occasionally I'll ride along for a round, but I hadn't done so in a long time. I'm really glad I went because we had a nice time. When he started making birdies, he said, "It's because you're with me." It wasn't of course, but it was sweet to think that he'd consider me his good luck charm. Two powerful thoughts struck me as we were riding around the course: 1) this really is a lovely island, and 2) I'm not only deeply in love with him...he's also my best friend. [Forgot to crop the photo. It says: "Beware you are now entering the Devil's Triangle"...which are the three holes that follow.] Posted by Hello

No. 13

Delta Airlines has been running a two-page ad in certain magazines that's this exact view. But it's a bit misleading because he's hitting from the 15th fairway, but aiming toward the 13th green. That cove below 13 is where boyfriend and his son went fishing one day...but caught only an octopus. (Yes, of course, they let it go.) Posted by Hello

No. 14

This is considered the most scenic hole on the course (at least it was before someone started building that house on the right.) We had some high clouds this morning, so this doesn't give you a good feel for the backdrop, but there's nothing but the blue, blue Atlantic and several islands to the left. Posted by Hello

No. 15

Boyfriend hit this shot three feet from the pin and knocked it in for his second birdie in a row. We consider this our "home hole"...we live in the lower unit of the three-story building right above the green. Posted by Hello

Spousal Support

And here's how I spend my time on the golf course: sitting in the cart being driven around. (And no, it wasn't nude golf.) Posted by Hello

Friday, June 11, 2004

fine tuning

If you were a musical instrument, which would you be?

Me, I think I'd be a bass. But not an upright bass--too stuffy. (Too bow-tie-y.) I'd be an electric bass. Five-string. Not that there's anything wrong with a good ol' four-string Fender bass--lord knows many a tasty bass line has been laid down with one--but I think I'd like to be a five-string. Six strings? Too showy.

Some people might think I'd choose to be drums, since my love affair with them began in childhood (not when I met my drummer boyfriend), but I think I'm a bass. The bass is part of the rhythm section, but it's the least flashy part of it. It's sometimes easier for people to hear the piano or drums, but it's the bass that's laying down the bottom to blend with the percussive sounds of the other two.

And tone is important. One of my oldest friends is a bass player and he's tortured me on several occasions by dragging me to music stores so he can try out different basses mixed with different pre-amps. It's all about the tone, baby! I've spent way too much time in music stores with him trying my patience by excitedly pleading, "Okay, remember that tone. Now compare it to this..." He's neurotic as hell (not just about basses) but I gotta hand it to him--his tone is beautiful. Mine wouldn't be real trebly, nor would it have too much bottom. It would be the Goldilocks' porridge of bass tones--just right.

So I think being a bass suits me: I could lay down a funky bottom that would inspire you to get your groove on, but I wouldn't be all up in your face about it.

And you, what would you be?


Boyfriend and his two (slightly) younger brothers are their own rhythm section: boyfriend on drums, youngest brother on keyboards and middle brother on bass. (There are also three sisters younger than the brothers; the youngest sister is a great vocalist. You can see why their Mom and Dad still dream that someday the kids will make a 'family album.') The middle (quiet) brother is not only a monster bass player, he's also a world-class bass builder. Check out a few models here.

Tea Party

Ahhh, what I would give to have a yard where I could walk outside in the morning, pick some blackberries and make a batch of these. (Click on second page of journal in the sidebar on the left.) Maybe I'd accompany them with some tea sweetened with lavender sugar (next page of journal).

But I'll make do with some of my favorite Headless Chicken Decaf roasted at this place. No lavender sugar for me this morning, but I will sip my joe from one of my favorite big mugs which is lavender on the inside and sporting a colorful morning coffee scene on the outside.

Here's to soothing morning rituals.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Brother Ray

In 1996, boyfriend was still playing with a band he'd been with for years. They were booked to open an outdoor Ray Charles concert at a winery in Dundee, Oregon. Dundee's a tiny place and its big claim to the fame at the time was the rumor that Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell were building a house there. I can't recall the name of the winery, but I can vividly recall the gig. It was the gig from hell, but it was worth all of the annoyances because, well, it was Ray.

We took boyfriend's son who was five at the time. We figured: how many chances will he have to see Ray play live? We had to arrive hours (HOURS!) early. Thankfully, I'd thought to throw the little one's "Go Fish" cards and some of his coloring books and crayons into my bag. We had a lot of downtime and they came in handy.

The weather was really crappy. It wasn't raining when we arrived, but it had rained earlier...and the rain soon returned. There were sheets of it streaming down the edges of the canopy we were all sitting under. There were two trailers set up backstage--one to serve as the dressing room for Ray and his band, the other to serve as a staging area for the crew. There was no dressing room provided for the opening act; the guys got to change into their stage clothes in a trailer that had mud all over the floor (left there by the completely-soaked crew guys).

The entire backstage area was on gravel; the audience was seated on a sloped, grassy lawn. The bathroom facilities consisted of a couple of porta-potties which were, naturally, not under the canopy. One had to make a mad dash through the monsoon, trying to avoid the large puddles that had grown right in front of the potties.

Because it was considered a prestige gig, the guest list was tight. Band members were allowed to bring one guest. Boyfriend cheated and brought his little guy--after all, he didn't take up much space. (And as the senior member of the band who was in a relationship with one of the bandleader's oldest friends, we sometimes got a little extra leniency.) But when it came time to line up at the dinner buffet, we quickly learned that although you could invite a guest, they couldn't eat. The caterers had supplied just enough food for the band members and crew guys. That didn't go over well with the boyfriend. He didn't make a fuss, he just quietly filled a plate with food, grabbed a second plate and brought it to the table where he divided it between his son and me. I tried to insist that it was more important that he eat. After all, he was the one "going to work." But he's nothing if not chivalrous, so I didn't argue too vehemently because I knew there'd be no changing his mind.

It rained for hours, yet the lawn in front of the stage remained packed. Audience members were huddled under tarps and umbrellas in their rain slickers, but they all seemed happy. Who wouldn't be? They were about to see Ray!

The stage was already set up with all of Ray's band's gear. Boyfriend's band set up in front of their gear. When it came time for the band to open the show, one of the crew guys put a couple of chairs in the wings (such as they were) at stage right, nearest boyfriend's drums. That's where the little guy and I watched the opening set. I'd bought him a disposable camera and let him click away at will. When he was little, he'd get quite excited to see his Dad play onstage. At one point, he called out "Dad!" Boyfriend looked over and gave him a big smile and put his finger to his lips to let him know he saw him, but we needed to be quiet. He shouted it between songs. :)

When it came time for Ray's set, all of us (band members, guests) crowded into the back corner of stage left. From that vantage point, Ray was facing us. Ray and his show were everything I imagined they'd be--glorious! The rain was still coming down in buckets, but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of anyone watching, and listening to, the show. Boyfriend held his son in his arms and we stood huddled there, damp all over and beaming from ear to ear was Ray!

His death today makes me deeply sad.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004


Feeling very tired this morning...not enough sleep. Need a little boost to center myself and get on track before I pull on my "mask" and head to the salt mine. It seemed a little Natalie Goldberg might be in order. Today I grabbed Wild Mind and flipped open to this:

Make a list of what pleases you, all for yourself, not because your mom, your girlfriend, your aunt likes it. ... Now write for ten minutes about one pleasure on your list. It is a very kind act to take a friend's hand and show him or her the pleasure you have in something.

Here are just a few things that please me this morning:
* lemongrass tea
* seashells
* warm summer mornings
* bananaquits chirping beyond the bedroom shutters
* the side of my boyfriend's neck
* the tiniest glancing touch of his skin, just enough to know he's there
* the Smith River (always)
* the smell of coconut anything (instantly transports me to "summer")
* the delight I feel when I imagine my nieces' faces
* New Orleans' French Quarter
* the prickliness of dried salt on my skin when I throw my shirt on after a swim in the bay
* the zillions of stars we're able to see in our very dark night sky
* chocolate dipped biscotti
* the smoothness of big river rocks
* the delight of rereading a book and discovering I'm enjoying it just as much the second (or third) time through
* big oversized homemade muffins
* David Sedaris
* driving with the sunroof open blasting a tape of my boyfriend playing music
* drive-in theaters (I'm going to make my own when we get stateside)
* road trips
* the delight of waking up in a tent and realizing there's nothing to do that day except enjoy being outside
* pie (always pie!)

Today I'll grab that spiral notebook that permanently resides in the bag I tote to work and find a quiet moment somewhere to write about one of these.

May you find a few minutes in your day to ponder one of your pleasures, too.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Map-ments in Time

This one's for T...

Since I only have 13 states here (having skipped the four that qualified only in the plane-changing category), I've topped off my list with a dollop of Europe.

New Year’s Eve 1998: dinner at Sazerac in downtown Seattle and a night at the very cool Hotel Monaco. (All FREE!)

Two a.m. breakfast at the Hot Cake House in Portland with huge crush (now "the boyfriend") followed by first kiss, which lasted for three hours.

Waking up with the boyfriend in a borrowed tent on a tiny island in the middle of Lake Berryessa where we’d camped illegally.

Attending Johnny Carson's show in one of the “old Vegas” casinos when I was 18, where I was served a cocktail without being carded.

Boarding a corporate jet to fly out of Salt Lake City, a bland, extremely white city I was only too happy to leave.

Hosting a large group of television station "VIP's" at the U.S. National Skiing Championships in Copper Mountain.

Skinnydipping at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.

New Mexico
Snapping a photo of Taos Pueblo Church which I’d later loan to my painter friend for inspiration. (I wish I owned the resulting painting.)

Getting stranded at Gilley’s outside Houston with an NBC producer and a motley crew of a few others (including the cleaning staff)--an event I later dubbed “My Evening at “Gilley-gan’s Island.”

Sitting on the tiny balcony of an 18th century New Orleans apartment with a huge full moon illuminating the rooftops of the French Quarter.

New York
Attending game 1 of the '86 World Series with a sportswriter date where I was two seats away from Robert Klein, my childhood stand-up idol.

Watching it go by from a train window and thinking I wasn't very impressed.

Standing outside the Kennedy Library looking out at the choppy sea.


Waking up in a hotel room in Frankfurt on the morning of my return to the States after two months of travel around the continent to find I was covered in a mysterious rash.

Walking around Zermatt as the first snow fell which turned the village into a living, breathing postcard.

Rounding the corner of a narrow street in Fanano to see to my grandmother’s maiden name painted in gold above a café door, and walking inside and learning that one of the old men drinking wine and smoking cigarettes while playing cards with his friends was her first cousin. (And being welcomed with open arms by him and his wife who promptly invited me to stay with them in their apartment upstairs for a few days, which is where I spent Thanksgiving 1983.)

Spending 2-1/2 weeks in a hotel in Paris where I kept a constant boquet of pink tulips on the fireplace mantel in my room, had a fling with a guy from Santa Barbara and spent countless hours talking and laughing with a woman from Perth, Australia who had a room two doors down the hall.

Monday, June 07, 2004


Over 15 years ago, my brother and I were having dinner in Sausalito when he looked across the table at me and without warning, cocked an eyebrow and said, "The name's Bond...Bail Bond." (My family's been in the bail bonds business for nearly 30 years.)

Am I the only one who thinks this is a great idea for a movie? (Not the Marilyn-and-her-brother-having dinner idea...a Bond spoof with a bail agent hero.)

I've also toyed with the idea of doing an "Infomercial" movie. (And you know, if I really thought about it, I'd probably find more common traits between bail bonds and infomercials than one might initially think.)


Back to reality today. We dropped Mom at the airport, grabbed a quick breakfast at the deli near my office (where we were chatted up by a family from Richmond, VA who were off a cruise ship) and then I went back to work. Boyfriend had taken a break from work to accompany us to the airport, and I was really glad he did.

My mother had requested wheelchair assistance for every leg of her trip. She has glaucoma and her eyesight is quite bad. When she checked in at the ticket counter this morning, the counter agent told her she'd have to check her (carry-on) bag. This did not go over well with my mother who detests having anyone touch her things. The counter agent kept explaining (rather patiently) that it was against airline regulations to allow her to keep her bag since she'd be in a wheelchair and unable to pull it herself. Mom kept insisting that the (same) airline had allowed her to carry on her bag every leg of her outbound trip--that whoever was assisting her would just put her bag between her legs on the foot rests of the wheelchair. They went back and forth over this issue several times, with my mother growing more and more agitated. Before I even realized what I was doing, I had grabbed a pinch of fabric on my boyfriend's shorts (not the underwear kind!) with two fingers. Somehow that sneaky move helped me maintain my calm. And, per usual, Mom got her way. The counter agent finished checking her in and then went to a room behind the counter to get a wheelchair. She wheeled it to where my mother was standing, seated her and told her Sidney would be with her shortly to take her through Customs.

Mom wanted to use the restroom, which was very near the counter where she'd checked in. But she was also a bit fearful that if she left the immediate area for even a moment, she might miss Sidney. I assured her that the boyfriend would stand with the wheelchair while I walked her into the ladies' room, and that he'd keep an eye peeled for the S-man. We were only in the bathroom for a minute or two. We seated her back in the wheelchair and got her situated with all of her stuff (there was more than just the carry-on bag).

As the boyfriend was wheeling her away from the restroom, he asked if she'd like to visit the snack bar since she was very early for her flight. Mom said she feared that she might miss Sidney. Boyfriend sort of laughed in a snorting way and said, "I wouldn't hold my breath waitin' on Sidney...he's probably in the back somewhere smokin' a joint..." I whipped around and hissed, "Don't tell her that!" Sheesh, she was agitated enough--I didn't want her thinking some pothead was going to be pushing her around for the next hour (although based on our experience here, it was a real possibility). We "parked" in front of the Customs entrance and began to fill out her Customs form. Sidney showed up moments later, and he was about as far from a pothead as one might imagine; he looked like he might spend his Sundays being a deacon in his church.

We told Mom goodbye once Sidney was on the scene. He took charge and made her feel at ease right away. Mom got very teary as we were telling her goodbye, which of course made me teary. Walking back to the car, the boyfriend put his arm around me and asked if I was okay, and I lost it. It was all just too much in a short period of time. For the first time, the focus of spending time with my mother has shifted from us just hanging out and doing stuff, to us hanging out and me doing stuff for her. And to cap it off, my father called last night with some very upsetting news. He's scheduled for a CAT scan and biopsy tomorrow and we're trying hard to imagine the best.

So as we were walking through the parking lot and the boyfriend wrapped me into the tightest one-armed hug he could manage while still walking, I suddenly felt like letting go. It hit me hard that we've officially entered that era where the word "parents" conjures up not carefree times, but caretaking needs. I was blubbering and blowing my nose as we went through the parking lot gate and then it hit me: the image of Sidney in a back room of the airport smokin' a fatty...and I laughed. Hard.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Land of the Giants

I wonder, could it be because I come from a place where things are oversized--like this...or this--that I'm rarely anything? It's not that I'm a snob--I hardly come from a snob-manufacturing town, after all. It's just that most things in life have fallen far short of my expectations. How did I come to have such high-falutin' expectations anyway?

I've visited places I imagined would thrill me--NYC, Paris, New Orleans--and although I've had fabulous times in those places and others, I've never really felt that wow factor. Or is it just that once something's real--once I'm actually THERE (wherever "there" is) or doing IT (whatever "it" is)--it just doesn't hold that magical luster I gave it in my mind?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Ped Xing

When I was a teenager, one of my father's favorite things to say to me was, "How can someone so smart be so stupid?" It really wasn't as cruel as it might sound because, well, I can be. Stupid, that is.

Yesterday morning, I regaled my mother with various things I did as a kid that fell into that category. There were a few that she'd never heard. She asked me to repeat them over dinner last night, so my boyfriend could delight in my dorky stupidity, and the three of us laughed ourselves silly waiting for dessert. They may not translate well to the written word because you'd probably have to know my father and his particular exasperated inflection, but if you'd like to know the depths of my stupidity, here goes:

1) As a kid (thankfully, not a teen but honestly older than I should have been to believe this), I thought every song I heard on the radio was being performed live in the studio of the AM radio station in my small town. It was a station where my mother had worked at one time, so I was familiar with the facility. When I heard the songs on the radio, I visualized the studio space at the station filled with world-famous musicians and their gear, playing live. So I might be sitting in my grandmother's kitchen listening to our local AM station and marvel over the fact that the Rolling Stones were playing there, followed moments later by the Beatles. Aside from a really impressive logistical feat, this also seemed to me to be something the townsfolk had agreed to keep quiet. Because there were never any items in the paper about the bands being in town, nor did anyone ever mention or discuss it, which only added to the mysterious nature of this occurrence for me.

2) Let me preface this one by saying that although our town was basically halfway between Portland and San Francisco, most everyone we knew went to San Francisco when they wanted to go to "the city." It was a place I'd been quite a few times. One day when I was in HIGH SCHOOL, I was sitting in the living room with my Dad when something triggered a memory for him and he started telling me about taking a road trip to San Francisco with his family when he was a young boy. He said something about "before the bridge was there." I said, "What?! What do you mean 'before the bridge was there'?" And my schoolteacher father looked at me and said, "What, did you think it was just always there?! Did you think God created it on the 8th day?!" And I realized in that moment that, well, yes I guess I had thought that. At that point, he had to excuse himself from the room...

3) I learned to read quite young. I point this out so that you'll know that this next one haunted me for years, because I'd been reading the signs for years. The signs I'm referring to were the yellow ones that seemed to crop up everywhere on the roadsides that said "Ped Xing." And in my head, I pronounced it "zing"...the same X sound one uses to pronounce xylophone. I'd sit in the backseat of our Ford Fairlane and look out the window on Sunday drives and think, "Who or what is 'Ped Zing'?" It drove me crazy...for YEARS. But I was too embarrassed to ask anyone because I assumed everyone else knew what it was, because no one ever mentioned it. I thought it was some kind of code that only I wasn't privy to. Finally, one day I couldn't stand it any longer. Again, in HIGH SCHOOL (it must have been before I took my driving test), I finally asked my Dad, "What's Ped Zing?" He looked out me like I was an alien and said, "What? What's what? What are you saying?" I said, "Those yellow signs all over town that say 'Ped Zing." He looked momentarily stumped and then realized what I was referring to. He gave me a world-class eyeroll, said "Pedestrian CROSSING!" and got this strange look on his face that I'm sure meant that he was now convinced they'd switched babies at the hospital.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


When we arrived at the beach this afternoon, we found a large crocodile sculpted in the sand near "our" tree. It was done in great detail and it was quite fabulous. Later, a man with a blonde boy trailing behind him walked past. The boy looked to be about five, and this was the exchange we overheard:

Man, pointing: There's a crocodile in the sand.
Boy: He's not real.
Man: He's still cool though.
Boy: You want me to destroy it?

This reminded my mother of when my youngest niece was taken to a Britney Spears concert a couple of years ago when she was four. (I have no idea why you'd take a four-year-old to a Britney concert, but that's another story.) After the fact, my mother was asking my niece about the concert. In describing it, she suddenly looked at her grandmother in all seriousness and said, "She's real you know."

This tickled us as we tried to imagine how she viewed Britney prior to the concert. I guess on TV she must have seemed to my niece like some sort of live-action cartoon figure (an assessment many wouldn't argue with.)