Tuesday, December 23, 2008

stretch


You never learn from the easy stuff. And I like to learn. And I love to say 'yes' - yeah, sure, I'll try that...I can do that...I can totally figure that out...I'd love to...absolutely...you got it.

So I started saying 'yes', and it's working. I've been working so hard that I've hardly come up for air, but I feel profoundly energized on this side of it.

Monday, December 01, 2008

snow, bones, trinkets


I'd never driven in the snow before. It was disconcerting because my eyes didn't know where to go; all these thousands of flecks of glinting whiteness made my eyes cross to look through them. It's cold here, and full of corporate shopping experiences, and nobody has soy milk. Perhaps they don't yet know that the technology exists to make milk out of beans and not grieving mothers. I'll give them that. Apparently, they all marry at 17 and smoke, too, so it may be a while until they catch up.

If I sound grumpy, it's because I've had to work really hard to find any non-tinned vegetables. Freaking canned peas. Salty-candle-wax beans. My stomach lining is deeply offended. I'm dreaming about a huge plate of steaming fresh collards and a side of chorizo potatoes, and the dream is making my tummy rattle.

The thicker-by-the-minute dusting of snow is making me think about changing seasons. Facebook has suddenly unfrozen the audioanimatronic circuitry of my memory-people and given them greyer hair and extra pounds and kids, and as the old people around me talk about the things that were really not long ago at all and yet they were before I breathed my first...I look into myself and see that so much must happen without waiting.

Vivir con miedo, es como vivir a medias. Feel the rhythm. Don't be scared.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

the world has changed, and so must i


I, like so many people of our nation, feel a strength in my Americanness that I haven't felt in a long, long time.

This is about 'change' as an imperative, not a slogan.

Change course.

Change lives.

Change your mind.

Change the set of assumptions that's gotten you through this far.

Change is here - and it's big - and we can all find a spot on the rope to pull it along.

While the results were coming in I was deep in a yoga class. Flowing from asana to asana, bubbling with the shakti pouring in from the growing celebrations on all sides, I windmilled into the most beautiful virabhadrasana I've ever done. And, listening to his beautiful, beautiful speech, I realized that we're all entering a new moment in our lives - a season of seva.

I have some ideas about how I'd like to make this happen for myself, and I'm going to think them over carefully over the next few days.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

happiness is


Two glasses of great cabernet and dancing around the living room to Buena Vista Social Club.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

*but*...


Netflix is OK.

Netflix is *just* fine.

I've been delighting in the sordid, saucy, obscene, and yet delightfully heartfelt world of Californication, and it makes me happy that some creatives out there are picking up this stuff.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

televisore


That's it.

I'm done.

Me and TV - we're over.

I've been blessedly televisionless for most of my life. And for many, many months in this flat, the set lived peacefully on the other side of the room from the cable plug. But then, one day - I arrive home to find that the TV has made its way to the plug-wall.

I made ":/"-face and went about my biznatch.

Since the cable plug snuck into the wall, there have been several changes in myself and my world that I'm not likin'. I'm a little jumpier; more fussy. A titch more worried. Somewhat less intimate. A bit less imaginative about my free time. I don't like it, and I'm saying NO.

Yesterday morning at yoga, I accidentally meditated on the problem in final savasana (and made it to work on time by the skin of my teeth, but it was worth it.)

Here's my manifesto:

1. Television is not relaxing. It's a mild stimulant, full of sawdust shots and empty-calorie fast cuts, that has none of the natural openings and closings of narrative film.

2. Television does not keep you better informed. Far better to be on an information diet than have the nonsense of TV news pumped through your head, or to listen to pundits punt endlessly in useless circles.

3. It's a very insidious thing, TV. It becomes a habit without announcing itself. It tidily covers up the things that you would be doing with that time, and American TV's non-self-limiting nature makes it difficult to restrict effectively.

4. It's in TV's interest to bring every viewer down to their lowest common denominator so that they consume more. I should know. I assist the harvesting process. It's very good at its job.

So there you have it - if the TV's on, I'm walking away.

I'll miss you, Jon Stewart. But it's best for both of us.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

rhetoric


Unbreakfasted, I had a jones for food porn this morning...so, of course, I headed over to The PPK. Mmmm, PPK. Mmmm. I wanted pictures of saucy barbeque tempeh and roasted everything and great heaps of quinoa.

I didn't want conflict. Of course, I found it. Urgh. Unappetizing.

Toodling through, I ran across a link to someone else's blog. He's a dad, and he writes a lengthy treatise about the high instance of "kid hating" in the vegan community. It sparked a, um, heated debate. There's a lot of name-calling, holier-than-thouism on all sides, and even the obligatory attack on someone's mother. It's a fracas.

It made me think rather seriously about the vegan community, and my place in it. I've been trying in earnest, lately, to find a foothold in it - and it's not going well. There are so many criteria! In my engagements with other vegans so far, I feel like I'm presenting a resume. It's exhausting.

I'm not raw, nor will I ever be. I wasn't raised vegan. I wear leather things that I bought before I was vegan, most notably my motorcycle gear. I'm not an anarchist. (Why is that even an issue?) I ride horses, and would like to do so a lot more often. When I'm working, I must eat out every single day, and the restaurants production orders from are never vegan. I don't make a habit of checking my beer and wine for veganness. My cat is not a vegan.

I've got my own issues and contentions, of course. After much mulling and research, I don't believe that lacto-ovo folks can use the term "vegetarian" to describe themselves - and I'm currently deciding if, considering our universal and pervasive dependence on fossil fuel, anyone is truly vegan. At work, I'm wearing thin on defending my veganism to every new team I work with (and, in commercial production, that happens a lot.) And I'm also wearing thin on hearing folks defend their own lifestyles back at me, rather retort-style, as though I've inherently questioned their ethics through simply living my life as I choose to. I'm just vegan; I don't always feel like talking about it, though I feel that I must do so when asked. I fuss at myself sometimes that my responses aren't ironclad enough, and that the facts and figures don't roll effortlessly off my tongue, and that my questioners are mysteriously determined not to hear it anyway.

As for hating kids - gosh, I don't hate kids. I'm just never going to have any, and I don't like spending more than a couple of minutes around them. If that makes me a bigot - well. Fascinating.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

wildlife


Before I got home last night, Eric took a walk - and smelled goats in the Grand water court.

He investigated further, and discovered that the hill by Angels' Flight is currently populated by a herd of brush-clearing goats. They're keeping them there 'round the clock, behind chain-link fences warning (skull-and-crossbones-style) of the goats' poisonous coats. Last I checked, this was not a logical deterrent to the homeless population...but whatevs.

He took me to see them last night. We scrabbled down the steep sidewalk to view them, eventually landing at the top of the far-side entrance to the metro line.

When we arrived, great herds of animals were gathered there - a hill full of sleeping goats on one side and a sidewalk full of stirring rats on the other, watching their new neighbors curiously and yakking quietly about them amongst themselves. It was a transfixing sight.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

summer's end


I.

You're walking slightly ahead of me, as you've been for twelve miles. It'll be another eight (and change) until we collapse, salt-streaked and pack-bent, back into the car. I've been watching you swat this onslaught of gnats for hours as we climb; watching the black soil dust your ankles and calves like cocoa. I worry for your exposed skin. The poison oak is always thick in this canyon, and it's turned the warning-sign crimson of late summer. I'm so hungry that I swear I can smell the deli sandwich buried under the sleeping bag I don't realize I've been carrying in vain. I listen to the owls and the bugs and the talksome birds - and the occasional helicopter, but that's the way of it up here. My mind is full of plans and memories and account balances and think-I'm-gonnas. I watch your hands, and your step, and the backs of your shoulders, and marvel again at what we've built.

II.

It's going to be impossible to find the shirt in this brown-water river, but we're laughing anyway; we'll just have to go back to Thailand and get you another one. We float together past the bespoke backyards of the Bakersfield elite, your long body rolling easy over the end-of-season bumps in the water. On the boat, our cologne-commercial-beautiful nineteen-year-old river guide makes up ludicrous stories about the landscape to pass the time - Vietnam and the Mayans figure in here. Boulders roll under the boat, sliding underfoot like schools of turtles, bucking and bouncing and eliciting delighted shrieks from us womenfolk. You men roughhouse and knock each other in, all play-growls and bravado and dunking. You drive two more hours to bring us home, all quiet and smiling.

III.

It's been such a long time since we've had a night like this - a table full of friends, and pizza, and Red Hook, and wandering around the beloved neighborhood that's suddenly new because it's (essentially) new to everybody else. It's pints and laughter and feeling out the deeper limits of the conversation. And more pints. And more laughter. And forcing people to play video game themes on an the guitar. And telling stories that you, like, totally wouldn't tell otherwise. And, in the process, solidifying something between different-but-the-same people.

IIII.

The summer's over now. Bring on the fall. It's going to be a good one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

on my mind


1. Brazil. Brazilian people. Portugese. Being sexy without being perfect.
2. The sound of bent handlebars being rocked on a counter.
3. Summer bean cassoulet, by surprise.
4. A movie star's conversation at the next table over.
5. Famine.
6. The dreamtime of the Irish. Vegan food in Ireland. Gaelic.
7. Thighs.
8. Drinking water.
9. Location independence.
10. Books. The summer reading club at the Vacaville Public Library. Choosing your own adventure, over and over and over, and never tiring of visiting that haunted house and choosing to do the wrong thing just 'cause, even knowing you were going to get 'The End'.

Monday, August 18, 2008

a first time for everything


If I sorta knew it was going to happen from the first moment I threw a leg over the bike in the morning, I didn't let it stop me. And honestly, I was too tired to be altogether surprised to find myself splayed out on the 10, watching my riderless bike lamely try to chase down the van that hit me.

I came away with a scuffed knee and a few bruises. And the injured dignity that comes from standing in the middle of a crowded freeway, waiting for some kind soul to hop out of a car to help you pick up your bike.

I'm a lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky girl.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

fever dreams


I've felt this before, but never so strongly.

I think I picked something else up in Thailand - something more than the mysterious Dengue. Something even more resounding than the ebullient "Sawadekaaaaaa!" and "Kap khun kaaaa!" that I can use almost exclusively in nail salons here in this city.

I picked up a cowbell-resistant fever. For roamin'.

I read ravenously, snacking on other experiences as I plot my own. I'm going deep into the world.

I know nobody's going with me. I offer, receiving occasional smiling agreements, but I know I'm going alone.

Finally, I'm OK with that. My fella's OK with that.

Zoom.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

after these messages, we'll be right back


I'm experiencing an exhilarating flip in perspective.

Perhaps it's because of the books I've been reading, or perhaps it's something else: that subtle something that snapped back into place when I went to Thailand...like setting a bone after a break.

Los Angeles feels like a quiet bower - a grey, neutral space in which to rest and refuel between excursions.

It struck me most when I decided, on a lark, to give a hammock I picked up in Thailand to a furniture-free friend. He needed a place to rest his head in a new apartment, and I just happened to have the hammock in my trunk. Boom - fatalistic housewarming gift!

When I took out the hammock out of its stuff-sack to show him, the rich purples and blues and greens poured out into our hands in stark contrast to the brown-grey beige of this city. I had a belly-deep pang for the intense colors and flavors of life on the road.

The world looks more and more like a menu every day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

syllable after syllable


Words are betrayers, gathering in great number all around you as the attack is planned, then fleeing entirely and leaving you alone with nothing but a searing-hot sternum and a lame, listless tongue.

All my life, I've been a stranger to the languages around me. The stacatto syncopation of military acronyms; long strings of letters like popcorn garlands. The shivering, sensuous musicality of isthmian Spanish, a dance I adored but never mastered. The bespoke royal tongue of the wine country, which I swished in my mouth to rinse away the truth of an upbringing not gilt in resplendent wealth. Even as a tiny child, surrounded by pitter-pattering Tagalog, I lay awash in the sound of it without communication taking place.

Even now, in this place where dialogue is a thriving industry - the chief export of the region, manufactured in massive quantities in great twittering factories and distributed for global use - I retch at the cheapness of it all. The factories put their words into beautiful hired mouths, and carve them into sidewalks, and pretend that they've done something religious for sharing them. It's a sham. They're producing gaudy costume jewelry for lackluster conversations.

I wish I had something better than words to make myself known; something with the wherewithall to convey this sense of drifting history and grey horizon. Something to show you what's wrong, and something to tell you how to correct it. I want to sew my mouth and show you in some other way the passion and the disappointment and the rage and the lust.

Let language bind my hands, and let the light spill forth regardless.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

not the way i pictured


I had no way of knowing what lay ahead when I wrote my last post - a week alone in a Thai hospital, dragging an IV around when I had the strength to walk, thinking my way down a long, long, long list of subjects while I waited for the other side of the world to light up enough to place a phone call.

It was infuriating - and bitingly ironic - and just terrifying. There were moments of such abject pain and fear that I had to talk myself through them out loud; moments I literally had to hold my own hand.

But y'know what? I found myself under the rubble. And even now, sifting through what I learned, I'm beginning to see what a difference it made to face a lonely death by hemorrhage and then come home, miraculously safe, to my lover and my cat and my routine.

It all looks different - as different as a piece of paper looks when you're holding an uncapped Sharpie in your writing hand.

It looks good.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


endangered


I.

I ran across this image today on Threadless (of all places.) It made my breath catch in my throat - so simple, but so affecting. I'd buy it in a second if it didn't hurt to look at.

Maybe I will anyway.

II.

I've withdrawn from the city and am tucked into a sleepy little river-valley town in the north.

Predictably, it's beautiful - borne here over the sinuous curves of a four-hour trip from Chiang Mai, I was treated to endless vistas of undulating mountain jungle. The entire town is just a little amble's length from end to end. I'm signed up for a yoga intensive tomorrow. Nice.

Monday, June 09, 2008

chiang mai


I'd almost forgotten this magical thing about the tropics - the schedule-massaging power of a clockwork daily rain in the late afternoon. It politely follows the same predicatable patter, so as not to catch you out: first, a battalion of dove-grey clouds appear on the horizon and advance to throw a shroud around the city. Then the air cools, thickens, stills. Then, the smell. These latitudes are full of intoxicating scents, but the heavy minerality that hangs in the air before the rain is a thing entirely to itself. At that point, it's as imminent as a kiss from a mouth poised an inch away; when you feel that first drop, dash through the first door you see. It's coming.

I've escaped this afternoon's deluge in the glass-wrapped womb of a Japanese noodle house, watching the less-lucky (or more ambitious) careen down the sidewalks with an arm held uselessly overhead against the soaking. The tall, green mountains to the north look proud and ancient with their crown of silver clouds, amber afternoon sunlight streaming through the fissures to heaven.

There's magic everywhere in this city. Its sidewalks stream with turmeric-robed monks. Plumeria blossoms, their perfect white pinwheels set with a yolk-yellow center, scatter the sidewalks. Stray dogs roam the streets like feudal kings - and, even after only a couple of days, I recognize individual mutts as they appear and reappear all over the city on their byzantine rounds. Everywhere, there's the chatter and laughter of a culture that lives outside and amongst each other, not sealed up in little steel pods. The air is full of wet smells and green smells and laundry smells and food smells - an enveloping, atonal cacophony written for the nose. The Thai ladies are such, well, ladies - sweet and quiet and polite, and their faces light up when I try my best to match their tone. I love that the locals absolutely beam at my butchered Thai. I've seen SIX PEOPLE on a single scooter, nevermind the baby-toting mum motorbike drivers and the dogs riding two-up behind the driver, sitting easy-as-you-please on the back of the seat. This city has its measure of offhand filth, but a much larger measure of poetic simlpicity and deep, genuine warmth.

It's quite telling that, of the scores of people I've met so far, none are staying in the country for less than a month. NONE are American. Many became accidental expats once they realized they couldn't bear the thought of returning home. I can't say I don't understand the sentiment, but I have the two best reasons in the world to return for.

Maybe I'll bring 'em both here - my bear and my tigress, and we'll live like royalty in this enchanted kingdom.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

emancipate yourself from mental slavery


Even though my little homeopathic jet lag chewies worked five hundred times better than I expected, due to the searing wet midday heat I'm still up for lateness. And guess what? Pretty much everybody here is up for lateness, too!

I spent the day learning how to cook Thai food (SO easy and lazy and non-chop-intensive!) on a beautiful farm, and now I'm just dragging myself home from going out to hear some butchered reggae with a delightful couple I met randomly on the street.

That's the most amazing thing about this place, so far - openness and friendliness and "why don't you come along?" at every turn. All you have to do is smile and be open to it, and boom! Your gift is returned. It's really quite magical.

Almost by chance, I even managed to catch the Moto GP race at Catalunya at the guesthouse pub next to my hotel. Of course, I was the token American girl in a crowd of Thai and British dudes. I think I scared 'em. When Rossi overtook Stoner in that last-ditch swoop...man. That guy could outbrake God. But poor Nicky in - what - 9th? Ouch. C'mon, homeboy. Don't let the robot get you down. You were behind De Puniet. That's not right.

It's almost 2am here. I have no plans for tomorrow. All I know is that I will be hungry at some point, that I will walk a great deal, and that I have no interest in 20-baht trinkets. It's all I need to have a great day.
(From the plane, yesterday)

Bibimbap.

Just say it - feels good. Bibimbap.

I'm deep into this flight. We're just a couple of hours out of Narita.

I've finished my vegan zucchini-something-or-other while the rest of the plane chowed down on reconstituted - say it with me now - bibimbap. I've narrowly escaped being broadsided by a secretly meaty dinner roll. My seatmate even shared a couple of her candies with me, unasked and unhinted. Even so, I still have a rumbly in my tumblythat rereading this guestbook is doing nothing to help; now, my gustatory imagination is all Thai basil and thick noodles and lime. Growl.

It's a shame that the practice of pretty stewardesses has fallen out of favour. It does add something to the experience.

Since I first picked up these tickets - on what I'll be honest in describing as a whim - I've had a constant ebb and flow of emotion about the endeavor. If I could stand outside of it a bit more yogically, I'm sure I'd find it fascinating. As it stands, I'm lying here and letting it all alternately wash over me and retreat, leaving me sputtering and coughing every time.

I'm aware of what it looks like on the outside: a trip. A little outing. Several times over the past week, I've wished it were that simple. For me, it's a beginning. It's clicking my freakin' heels together and doing what I should have been doing all along - feeding my spirit, so I can be a better citizen/partner/lover/friend/human and not a bitter something-or-other all full of stories about the things I used to do but don't anymore 'cause...well...you know.

Beginnings are tough. But, as my favourite teacher at the Bikram studio likes to say, "In order to get the most benefit, remember - If you *can*, you *must*." Ic you *can* get the foot over the head, you *must* do it or you'll never advance. Well, I've had this aching tightness in that part of my life for a long time, and I'm long overdue to stretch it out. Waaaay out. And I *can* do this, so I am.

This is the yoga of my life - to do intense things to reinforce the skeleton of my Self. To be more - well - me. And, like body connects to mind connects to spirit connects ot breath, stretching and strengthening my adventurer's spirit can only stretch and strengthen the rest of me.

(And now, for today's missive:)

I learned something really important about myself today. Actually, it was more "this morning" - at about 1 AM, after approximately 26 hours of travel.

I learned that I am not, in fact, a backpacker.

I admit some shame in this. I woould love to think of myself as a creature as hardy as kudzu, happily tromping around the amenity-free hinterlands without a hint of longing (for a pillow that isn't rated on the geologic scale, for instance.) Truth is, when I opened the door to my room to discover that it was *just* big enough to house the bed and my bag, and that the bathroom was sort of a toilet-shower combo that could clearly use a Lime-A-Way grenade round, I saw clearly my true self. My true self lives across the street in the backpackerless, no-cool-points-for-rough-and-tumbleness boutique hotel. My true self doesn't like to wear flipflops in the shower and wish she were wearing platforms. My true self is checking out of Bedbug Roulette this afternoon.

Shut up singing 'Common People' to me. I'm authentic - authentically spoiled.

Monday, May 19, 2008

to a crawl


I want everything slower.

I want slow food. Slow days. Slow transportation - walking; long conversations on trains. Slow builds and long collapses. Time to move like breath in savasana; like batter poured carefully into a muffin tin.

I've begun to experience the sensation, lately, of riding time - feeling it under me, moving steady and uncheatable and solid. Yesterday, Bear and I slipped down the Crest at the murky end of dusk, coming to a rest at one of its lower turnouts. Standing with him as our bikes clicked their cooldown to the answering crickets, I felt the weight of it pulling us forward like a conveyor.

Friday, May 16, 2008

the romance of nerdishness


I want a magical Google maps mod.

I want a shortcut on my desktop. It'll link to a realtime, auto-refreshing Google satellite map. And it'll have pindots where someone is thinking of me. And I can zoom far, far in and see what they look like when they do. Perhaps I could switch over to a hybrid map and find out exactly how to get to where they are, if they look like they miss me.

It could be thrilling. Then again, it could be very, very lonely. What would life be like if you knew for certain that nobody thought about you when you weren't standing right in front of them?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

all heart


I can't help it. I'm all heart.

Last night didn't feel much like work. It felt (as discussed with our awesome set medic) like we had all convened at an outdoor music festival venue and were waiting for the bands to show up.

(OK, it felt like that to me, at least, 'cause I didn't have to pick up any c-stands or mombo-combos or futz with the light balloons or worry about the guy getting yanked fifty feet in the air on a stunt line.)

Everyone was so cool, and the iron-bowl blackness of Malibu creek, with its crickets and owls and soft-wood smells, made me relish the experience and reach out for connection. It got me breathing deep of friendships old and new...letting out more slack in vulnerability than I generally do; trusting a little more. It let me allow the hands of night to cup my eyes, urge me forward, and surprise me a little.

I needed it. Feels good.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

summer in abaddon


I think that I'm overinvolved with the past.

I want to edit. I want my past to be as flexible as my present; that these unresolved plotlines should find a natural close. I've marked the pages where the narrative drifted off, and I come back to those pages when I should continue to write forward. A found-then-lost phone number; a series of calls unreturned; a cryptic message for which I had no logical response; an addled conversation in a college parking lot; an awkward last attempt over strip-mall burritos. I want resolution, and I want it too much.

Living with Bear, a person who lives so entirely in the moment that it consistently trips me up, has showed me how beautiful right-here-right-now can be. He acknowledges his past, but it is certainly not his master - I doubt he's ever flipped back the page. I find him brave for this. I used to have trouble believing that it was possible to be so present; now, I find deep inspiration and solace in it, and I long to have this power of meditative insouciance that I don't quite understand.

See, 'cause I still haven't really learned that the past isn't a redactable, graceful thing - an equation that sums neatly up to the energy expended to create its parts. It's a big heap of messy, rambling, repetitive Joyce, beautiful in its quaint and sparking live-wire untidiness.

Let it be.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

what better place than here, what better time than now


Something struck me this week, as I was baking up a stack of chocolate-chip cookies - how stupid I've been to buy in to animal-product culture. I keep having these forehead-slapping moments when I sub out veg products for animal and realize they're not only just as good, but often *better*.

You don't need butter or eggs to make a succulent, crumby, puffy chocolate chip cookie. F*ing amazing!

You don't need parmesan cheese to make a decadently creamy basil-mint pesto. Guess what works instead? F*ing nutritional yeast flakes! I kid you not. I'm a foodie among foodies, and I couldn't for the life of me tell the difference.

This vegan thing is completely punk rock.

This, of course, leads me to a different sort of question - why am I the weirdo?

Farmed-animal cruelty is not uncommon knowledge. The perils of cholesterol aren't, either. Nor is the inherent benefit of a veg-based diet...or milk sensitivity in, like, everybody..nor the obscene tax on the environment from the farmed-animal industry...nor mercury in fish, nor the high concentration of other inorganic toxic compounds in meat/dairy/eggs, nor any of the other billions of things that are wrong with eating animal schtuff.

So why do I get the "crazy hippie" treatment for opting out? Or the "what DO you eat"?

Totally dumbfounding.

Bear and I were walking to the Blue Hen in Eagle Rock yesterday. The hours there are as wonky as the food is transcendent, so we had a few minutes to kill before we could claim a table; we decided to take the opportunity to explore. After a delicious amble through the secret-garden neighborhood tucked just above it, we made our way back along Colorado. Passing Tommy's, a wave of lardiness rose up from the fryer to assault us, drifting up through the air and off the faces of the sausage-shaped family at the outdoor table.

We just looked at each other and laughed - 'cause we're free.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

as if my neighborhood weren't cool enough...


...there's yet another reason to blow off my westsider friends' yammering about how "the beach is SOOO close!"

Have fun over there. I like it over thisaway.

evaluating my impact


I'm not quite sure what to do with the realizations about my personal impact that have been trickling down into my consciousness over the past few weeks. They're ruffling me.

First of all, I love my job! It's always interesting (often downright exciting), pays really well, matches my unique rhythms and proclivities, and introduces me to fascinating new people all the time. I'm very, very lucky.

Problem is, there's a lot about my work that is in direct opposition to the vegan lifestyle - and my life, as most folks' does, revolves in many ways around my work. It's going to be very difficult to reconcile.

It starts with the fact that what I do, pure and simple, sells things to people. It drives consumer culture. It convinces people to throw their resources to procure things they don't necessarily need. Things that are bad for them. And what I do makes them look good, through the trickery and deft deception crafted by a large group of seasoned experts.

Then there's the meat bit. I, personally, order enough meat per job to feed hundreds of people. And much of this meat is purchased with the understanding that it will go uneaten - for show, to demonstrate that we're taking excellent care to provide for the client's spoken and unspoken desires.

The other week, I had to order Chan Dara for twelve people, even though the client said they wouldn't be staying for lunch. When they (of course) took off, those of us that were left ate a pathetically small amount of the spread. Nibbling on my tofu pad thai, I stared out over tray after tray of beef satay, garlic mango chicken, and pork somethingorother. I got it in my head to say something, and mentioned to my boss - who's a friend, and a really awesome human being - that all I could think about was the number of dead animals on the table, and the sad lives they'd led up until they got here, and the fact that we were just going to be throwing them all into the dustbin out back to rot in a fetid landfill.

"Oh, come on, Annette," he said. "They were dead before they got here."

Man, oh man.

I've hawked a television show where the guy does very little but grossout animal eating. I've hawked vacuum-packed, preservative-drenched meat-and-cheese packs intended for kids' school lunches. Yikes.

Then again, I've done an MS fundraising campaign, promoted a drug that could easily save hundreds of thousands of girls from cervical cancer, and done a couple of spots to promote a health-care reform that would protect small businesses while ensuring that their employees are covered.

While I mull it, I've been taking baby steps to strike a balance. I set about reducing waste as far as possible. I explain my choices to those that ask. But there's still a part of me that searches to know how to do what's right when so much is wrong.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

vegan day



We celebrated Vegan Day on Sunday night, after a brilliant day of rubbing pig bellies at the animal sanctuary and strolling down along a sunset beach. We tucked in to a table at the Inn among the swirling conversations and the constant chirrup of crickets and night frogs, smiling quietly with each other in the sweet canyon air. It's still amazing to me that we've extrapolated such life-affirming honesty from the foundation we had to begin with; though it's a completely organic choice on the part of both Bear and I, it feels very much as if the assumption of this lifestyle is our a way of thanking the universe for what we've been given.

I'm not one for labels, and I won't be sharing this new one with altogether too many people - it's easily misconstruable as that weird version of greener-than-thou hippie posturing that's fucking insufferable to be around. But the vegan lifestyle just makes so much sense - I "checked out" of meat-eating long ago, but now I'm sayin' nope to all the rest of it. And it feels good.

Friday, March 07, 2008

here's the question


I.

I have been going to Bikram Yoga every day, religiously, for almost a month.

I have cleansed my diet of all flour, refined sugar, bovine dairy, and chemical preservatives.

I follow a program of dry brushing, breathwork, and meditation.

Am I ready....to try Vegemite?

If I jump the gun, I'm a dead woman.

II.

I missed SXSW...AGAIN this year. Fuck! (Sorry, mom.)

III.

I have an amazing job. I spent the day chatting with a full contingent of charming, beautiful, and incredibly diverse people, nibbling on delightful food, occasionally playing with a litter of kittens, and gazing out onto the ever-unfolding parlour drama of a sun-dappled golf course. Oh - and I made good money doing it. Yes! :)

Friday, February 22, 2008

country radio


I.

There's a certain je ne sais quoi about a radio station that sings to you about tequila at 8 in the morning. "Don't ask her on a straight tequila night," he beseeched me as the third merge-monstering luxury sedan of the morning careened into my lane, "She'll start thinkin' about him, and she's ready to fight." Funny thing is, it's a beautiful song.

Many of them are. Hokey, yeah - but I'm hokey. Songs that don't bother advancing beyond the bleached bones of what America used to be about; the America that my parents signed up for. The America that lived on and on, long past its mainland expiration date, in the collection of Air Force bases I was tucked into as I grew.

I know every syllable to a bunch of them - many more than you'd think, to know me. Songs about the cheap seats, and rear-view mirrors, and the creature from the black lagoon, and being better together. It doesn't matter how far away I get from those Fourth-of-July flightlines and jungle-lined football fields, I still tear up a little to hear That One Damn Lee Greenwood Song. Years of perching on the cutting edge of musical culture have only driven me back there...back from $20-gin-and-tonic, cellphone-photo, American-Apparel-commemorative-festival-shirt music to bowling-alley, hay-barn, open-highway music. I'm fully aware that these guys are created by the same machine. It's just quickly becoming my favourite part of the machine.

As I exited the freeway, he was offering me a glass of chablis and some quarters for the jukebox so I could turn her love life around. Thanks, man. You started my day off right.

II.

I'm entering Day 12 of my 30-day Bikram challenge, and I feel incredible - long and tall, as though the heat of the room has melted my bones and sinews and is slowly drawing them out of where they'd settled. In that room, under the firm massage of the instructor's voice, my body goes places I always thought it couldn't.

I've become fascinated with the sensuality of the class. I love the way the warm, wet cloth hangs against my skin - like it used to, walking home through tropical rain - and the subtle changes in the temperature of air as it pulls through my nose and the back of my throat to fill my lungs. In triangle, I stare at the droplets of sweat snaking from my wrist to my shoulder. Forced to stare at my full body in the mirror for an hour a day, I've become at once more aware, more accepting, and more enthralled with the miracles that allow me to breathe - nevermind hold my foot over my head for ninety seconds.

Best of all, old ills are evaporating. My wonky wrist has returned to peace, and the popcorn tattoo that my shoulder used to beat upon rotation is quieting quicker than I'd dared to hope.

In short, I'm diggin' it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

the feast of saint valentine, esq.


The only thing that's truly known about St. Valentine is that he was a martyr, and that he died horribly. He might've been a priest, or a bishop, a hermit, or an African (gasp!) The feast of St. Valentine may actually celebrate more than one saint. Nobody knows for sure. He/they may have died up to three times.

The original iteration of the holiday was probably a Christian attempt to supercede a hot little nudity-and-S&M-laced Greek festival (with a lot of blood involved) about sucking on the tits of wolves.

The feast was removed from the official Roman Catholic calendar in 1969, of course. With all the world's juices flowing, the Catholics had to shut 'er down.

Thing is, St. Valentine had not much to do with anything. 'Hallmark holiday' is an overused phrase - and this is the classic application - but it's giggle-worthy to think how slapped-on this one is. The only reasoning I can come up with for the lip-biterly assignation of carnal pleasure to this maybe-one-of-three-African-martyrs-or-a-Roman-hermit Church holiday is that...gee, let's face it...the letter V is pretty sexy. It's the opposite of the letter capital-I.

It's why the world loves Valentino Rossi, and vigilantes, and Vivica Fox (I mean, really) and vasectomies. It's why they call it Vaseline and Viagra and a vibrator. It's why we buy that she falls for the lumpy, crazy, sadistic burn victim in V for Vendetta. V is a powerful muscular push to openness. V is a bud that opens to the warmth of the sun. People need a reason to celebrate that kind of thing, because people ignore that it's a muscle you have to use. People spend a lot of money to prove that they know how to respond to that impulse.

Y'know what the best way to celebrate Valentines' Day is? Wait for sundown, 'cause that helps you appreciate mystery that much better. Open champagne. Watch 'Strictly Ballroom' all the way through to the end, where they've just discovered that human love and attraction is the coming-together of a million inexplicable variables and boom! there it is and they win the contest because their variables added up to a perfectly balanced emotional orgasm and 'Love Is In The Air' starts to play right before the credits roll and the old people who used to dig each other but were fighting reach out to each other because the world is naturally healed in the space that these two people create because they chose each other. Then get naked, have sex and eat some chocolate. There's your holiday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

annies aftermath


I have Spongebob Squarepants' personal Superman address book, and now I have to make arrangements to return it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

life, but not with toxins


I.

The old mattress? Gone. The old couch? Gone. Nothing old remains. New things have taken the place of the old in almost every sense. All is full of love - and colour, and texture, and light.

There's an awesome new table, where there was no table at all before; in its Platonic form, the table is a locus of nutrition, conversation, togetherness. We have this, now, in a delightful design that reminiscences of a closed bud that opens with each shared meal.

The couch is idiomatic of this family - modular; changeable; flexible in ways that a reg'lr one could never be.

The new bed is exotic and evocative and airy...and BIG, because 6'+6"5"+(18"x[pi]) does NOT equal Queen. And deliciously softy-firmy, too. Wiggle-inducing.

New things are arriving, too. New colours and ideas, which bring with them openness.

II.

I'm excited about what's happening to my physical person as I affirm my dedication to this new approach to self-care. I feel a well-being that curls up from the roots of me like a smiling kundalini serpent - my heart open and light and full of giggles. I wish someone had told me about this years ago. I feel more beautiful by the hour - more expressed. More me, because with every breath and stretch and morsel I am more aware that I am you, too. Our hearts are the same, yours and mine, dear reader. We are the same person. Think about it.

I was warned before I undertook these changes to my activity and nutrition that my body would raise something of a fuss. There are "detoxifying symptoms," she said. Most are easy enough to bear - a headache here and there; an unexplained rash that raises and disappears within a few long hours; a cramp deep in the belly as the body finds something ugly to tussle with. The benefits far outweigh these annoyances.

The really difficult hurdles are the ones that have nothing to do with the body itself.

"I'll say this once because I know you understand it," he said. "This way of treating your body is wonderful. But there's still something in you that's fighting the release that you're trying to achieve."

And, in the saying, that unclenched my fists. My heart felt like my body does after a long Bikram session. Breathe. Deeper. There you go.

Monday, January 28, 2008

oh, darn.



What a sock in the gut - to finally try to help after the longest time of deliberately not helping, only to have it blow up on me. I used to be impossible to breathe through my anxiety over this state of affairs; now, it's much easier, but I can't help wanting to make it all better. And I can't help wanting to get this part overwith so we can get the hell on to the next part of the journey.

We interrupt this program to bring you an important news flash: I can't help. Can't do shit. Can't even begin to think about how to do shit, and so the shit-doing that gets done is a little helpless and pretty flailing.

Sucks, sucks, sucks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the perils of barnes, the pitfalls of noble


Maybe this is just The Way It Is. This is my house, this is my body. This is my antisocial life. This is my role - to be the one who doesn't dream. To be the one who supports pies in the sky.

I saw a book today in the store. It was about learning to not be a perfectionist. It was about teaching female overachievers to let themselves be.

I looked at the book and realized - honestly, for the first time - that I am a pragmatist.

And I felt a loss. Strange. After all this time, I should have known.