Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I need help, I said.

Do it our way, they said.

No, I said.

And that closed a heavy door.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

your own adventure

There was a Choose Your Own Adventure book that I read in grade school. It was about making your way through a haunted house, and it terrifed me. Of course, I read it over and over and over - until my signatures were the only marks on the checkout card tucked into the front cover. It was only when I knew the entire book from cover to cover, with no choice unexplored, that the book began to lose its heavy grip on my adrenalin. Knowledge fills the hole that fear makes a home in.

I was reminded of this book, however, over the weekend. One of the turns you could take in this haunted house was to open a door that led to a room that was made up to look exactly like your own childhood bedroom - with all your familiar toys, furniture, posters, blankets. But if you chose to sleep with your feet too close to the edge of the bed, a monster would reach up from underneath and, you. It was the scariest place in the book, for me, because it was about a malevolent world using familiarity to catch you off guard. To this day, I can't sleep with my feet too close to the edge of the bed - and, being six feet tall, this can be something of a trick to work around.

In any case, I was invited into a home that bore intense resemblance to my own parents', down to the most minute details. A father that, in carriage and manner and even hairstyle, is strikingly similar to my own. Same fake flowers. Same color walls, cabinets, furniture. Same faux-marble shower. Same cat toys. Same bookshelf. Same luxury suburban subdivision with the same landscaping. Same homogenized-America-meets-random-knickknacks-from-forays-'round-the-world.

I'm sorry, my mom told me once. I'm sorry, sometimes, that when we were raising you we didn't have a house like this. A yard like this.

That's bollocks. I had so much more. I didn't need custom cabinets to have an enviable childhood. I'd have taken our cement-block base housing any day of the week.

So, in this place of almost too much familiarness, being gently explored in conversation and fed wonderful blackened salmon and plied with cookies and being shown the quilt room and knowing already about Ott Lites and advanced washing machine technology, I reacquainted myself with the list of things I say about myself. Who am I, in bullet points? Do you like it? Is it acceptable? How do I compare?

I had wanted so badly to show you my Napa - my hilltops, the long drives through greenness and gold light, that house by the creek that still pops up in my dreams. Oakville Grocery chocolate. Cabernet Sauvignon, done perfectly. Your skin glowed perceptibly under that sun that I remember with such squeezing fondness. I have some of your geography, now, and you have some of mine. Such old maps, and getting older, but these are new roads.

This is a moment of major accomplishments, discoveries, transitions. This makes graduation speeches sensical, if hokey. This is new. This is good. This is ours.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


On the long drive back from the Ridgecrest shoot, the girls and I discussed the questionable health affects of soy overintake - increased incidence of cancer in the female reproductive system, cycle inconsistencies, mood swings and breast tenderness.

Of course, all this did was make me crave chocolate soymilk, so I've consumed two cartons of the stuff in as many days.

Just call me Princess Phytoestrogen, and get the hell out of my way.


Do normal people dream about their jobs? I've been having the most anxious, breathless production-related dreams. Apparently, I spent most of last night tossing and turning and mumbling credit card authorizations.


I feel anchorless and feral; like a stray cat that charmed its way into a warm house on a cold day and wants to stay but knows inwardly that strays are put on porches when the rough stuff comes.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

misty morning

misty morning
Originally uploaded by annette_oneil.
I took this photo on my last hike up in my hills. I know i'll be back through there, but that most favourite of my habits is now pretty much lost to me. I've subbed the much-closer Franklin Canyon, with its matchy-matchy Juicy Couture joggers and marauding purse dogs, for my coyote's marching grounds.

It's just not the same.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

relationship math

Relationships are bank accounts. You make deposits and withdrawals and rack up a credit history with the love and treats and abuses and the multitude of logistical criteria that are the cash-in-hand of human interaction.

Lately, I've come to understand that this metaphor also includes a lot of foreign currency. Sometimes, you can exchange what you get at an agreeable rate. Sometimes, you can't. Sometimes, your currency's no good.

Over the past few weeks, I've had a crash course in this - the fact that sometimes, people around you just can't give you what you need. My realization of this began with the most major possible forced acceptance of the fact that I simply couldn't, for love or money or prayer or nagging or cajoling or pleading or grumbling, force somebody I care about to understand and meet my needs.

We all have a tremendously convoluted backstory. We're all trying. Love is a many-splendoured thing, but it sure ain't all you need.

I guess someone either meets your needs or they don't. And it's not their fault if they can't - really, it isn't.

I've come to realize that I've just got to accept the fact that they can't, and I can't, and it isn't anybody's fault. Mismatched needs are a fact. Like not being able to conjugate in Esperanto, or being allergic to Yellow #5. And to stop lying to myself that they can, and to be honest about the needs that I have to have met and not run around looking for shysterish ways to fill in the blanks.

'Cause I can't give everybody what they need, either, obviously. I try, but sometimes I fail. And I hope nobody begrudges me that too terribly deeply.

Oh - and to get to know myself a little better. 'Cause I'm so full of self-surprises, it bowls me right over.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

everybody look what's goin' down

I'm learning quiet, but I'm not learning it well. I like words so much; I like to sit with you and make cats' cradles of them, twisting mine into and around and under yours. I like to listen, and I like to watch you listen back.

This job is a crash course in quiet - silent drives under wide-open sky. The stars are staggering, set moonlessly above a nothing sort of town, and remind me that:

1. I am teensy.
2. This too shall pass.

It's one in the morning, and I need to be up at five. Time to drift deeper.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Barcelona was going to be a dream trip.

Mexico was going to be the best way possible to shake this off.

Despite all my rage, apparently, I am still just a rat in a cage.
I just realized how hard it's going to bite when the Mexico pictures get Flickr'd.

Ouch, ouch, ouch. Ow.

it sure does pour

...two parking tickets in as many days
...a shoot that just can't seem to be convinced to go smoothly
...being stuck working in the actual-factual middle of nowhere while friends are playing in the sun and the saltwater, eating the lobsters i've been looking forward to for months and frolicking
...absolutely everything coming to an ultimatum
...that major health question-mark poking at my mortality again beloved pussycat and all my worldly goods locked away from me

My head is full of Joni Mitchell. Winter. And Urge For Going. And, inexplicably, California.

And, of course, A Case Of You.

I feel alternately stronger and more lost, with gathering intensity...tiny, silly slips of the toungue can throw me illogically wide, and equally tiny gestures of affection burrow deeply into my well-tenderized heart.

This is a moment of enormous change, and it makes it no easier to know that it's the only way.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I'm sorry I've been so quiet.

I'm okay.


It's just going to take a moment for me to process all of this. I appreciate your understanding.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

the snake has no hands; they can never be tied


I had to stop for a snake today as I came up the hill.

It was long enough to stretch from one side of the path to the other and, since I find it to be something of a bad-luck move to hop a snake, I patiently waited until it was annoyed enough with me to move into the hillside shrubbery.

As I watched it move, I realized something - if you took the trajectories of each individual part of the snake as it moved, it would seem as though it's going in a thousand different directions. We know instinctively that the traction this produces is what drives the snake forward, but it looks like directionless flailing if each bit is taken individually.


What if someone wasn't fooled, but they liked you anyway?

The clarity with which you see me is rubbing off. What if it's okay to see things exactly as they are? What does that change?


Friday, May 05, 2006

still in mind

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle,
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing."

— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, line 19)



The most important thing you can learn from horsemanship is the art of getting up. You can have the most gorgeous equitation known to god or man, but it doesn't matter how lovely your posting trot is if you can't pick yourself up from a dusty arena floor, daub the blood from your split lip, and hop right back up there.


I discovered that I have missed the Foreign Service examination by just a few days. This bummed me out - until I downloaded the examination study guide and realized I'm going to need that year to relearn the vast quantities of knowledge that my poor little brain has data-dumped since AP History. And Calculus. And American Government. And pretty much every other category.

Good lord, when did I get so dumb?!


I miss cooking. I haven't cooked in months - not really. Not enough. I need inspiration. I would like to cook for someone. How's about spring-mushroom risotto and a salad fluffy with lettuce from the garden out back and fruit with fresh whipped cream and old-vine zinfandel? Any takers?

Monday, May 01, 2006



I hadn't realized that the chocolate tasting was in the imported-cheese shop under the apartment we lived in together for a couple of years. The cheese shop has since closed, and the owners have focused their efforts on artisinal chocolates.

The space has changed. It's empty - the gourmandish goodies that used to line the walls, the handsome Frenchman with the piano hands who was ever-so generous with the samples, the little bistro tables squished up against the panel windows, the constant crush of customers chatting about the quality of cream manufactured in Provence as opposed to Greece. The store's only real accessory is brand new - the smell of cocoa, round and rich, fills the place with a warmth that belies its starkness.

I used to take people here. It's silly that an empty cheese shop reminds me of everything that's changed, but I can't ignore its poignancy. Furthermore, there was a gentleman at the tasting who reminded me quite sharply of my granddad - The Incredible Self-Estranging Grandfather - and it gave me a scratchy feeling in my belly to watch this stranger interact with his environment in a way that was so familiar to my memory.

As I held my little plate on my lap, I had a few thoughts about memory. Memory, that snickering little thing that shapeshifts even as you record it.

And I relearned the meaning of bittersweet, laughing and playing and tasting wonderful, exotic things even as these thoughts boiled in the heavy iron bowl of my gut. We had chocolates made with French cream that was infused with the most surprising ingredients - basil and kumquat and even kalamata olive (shockingly scrumptious). All this was set to the accompaniment of the chocolatier's flambouyant Frenchness and the ladylike giddiness of his Korean wife, whose facility with chocolate-making exceeds her English language skills by a hundredfold.

picholine couple

Saturday, there was drumming class. Then there was girlish bonding at M Cafe, where the freshness, health, and stunning aesthetic beauty of the foodstuffs is mirrored perfectly in the clientele.

Then there was a lecture on Roman history at the Hammer museum - but wait! 'Cause it's Terry Jones who's doing the lecturing, and there's a lot of guffawing interspersed with the learning.

Sunday, there's a quickly earned sunburn on the Verdugo slopes. And, then, salsa class. See? I'm doing it! Sarah is amazing, slipping in some of the spinny-grindy moves she used to use in her club-dancer days. I'm excited about this, really and truly. Maybe it's the yoga, or my sheer determination, or my relatively newfound excitement to own this body - but I was thrilled to watch the afternoon light swirling through my skirt. And the bumpin'-ness of my hips as they rolled and popped. I can't wait to go back.


There's so much that I'd like to get into, here. To share with you. About the things that preoccupy me so much that I accidentally fill my little Echo with supreme gasoline when it's $3.75 per gallon, and type the wrong number into the microwave twice, then leave my green beans in there for an hour. About electrical storms and lightning. About the things I have lost, am about to lose, fear losing, and need to shake off.

But I'm not ready yet.