Saturday, December 29, 2007

Follow the Signs

My friend Marie once told me, "If you're lost, stay on the big roads and follow the signs." She was speaking literally at the time because I was driving in an unfamiliar city, but I thought it was a very profound statement. [Note: I also recently found out it was our friend Carrie that actually first said it - we do tend to steal quotes from each other.]

Part of the magic I find in life is being open to signs from the Universe. I think some of them are to let me know I'm still on a good path, and some are to nudge me in one direction over another. I don't believe there are any "wrong" paths to take, but some are definitely easier or more pleasant than others, and I'd like to stick to those. Oracles like runes or medicine cards are great for poking around your subconscious, but receiving a little wink from the One is a thrill on the level of winning the spiritual lottery to me.

This three-part story is about the most obvious communication from the Greater Good that I've received, and since it happened around Christmas it's probably good timing to share it now.

Part I
When Katy was somewhere around 11 years old, she wanted to go Christmas shopping for me on her own so I didn't know what my gifts were. I wasn't comfortable letting her loose in the mall by herself yet, so I asked Mark to take her. I gave her $100 to spend, and told her to take a purse to put it in. Katy has never been a girly girl and wasn't in the habit of carrying a purse, but I was afraid she would lose the money if she put it in her pocket since that had happened several times in the past. I also wanted her to learn some responsibility by carrying it herself. She relented and put the money in the purse.

The first thing Mark and Katy did when they got to the mall was eat dinner at the food court. Once their hunger was satisfied they were ready to shop. Mark told me they got to the first store, Katy picked out something nice for me, but when they got to the register, she discovered she had left the purse on the chair in the food court.

They retraced their steps, but by the time they got back, the purse was gone. Katy was very upset. They asked some of the cafeteria workers and security if they had seen it, but no one had. One of the security guards suggested they report it missing at the mall office, and if it was found, management would call.

When they arrived at the office, someone had in fact turned in the purse, but the $100 was missing. Mark replaced the money out of his own pocket so Katy could do her shopping because he's a wonderful person that way, but she was very upset that another person would be so dishonest. I was disappointed she had been irresponsible, but tried not to make her feel worse than she already did. I told her the person must have needed that money much more than we did, and maybe that $100 allowed that person to have a much better Christmas than they would have otherwise. She wasn't convinced, but I could tell she was at least thinking about it.

Part II
A week or so later we were in Walmart, back when I still thought Walmart was morally and socially responsible. (Pssshhh. :rolls eyes:) Katy came to me with $40 cash in her hand and said she found it on the floor. There was no one around, so she wasn't sure to whom it belonged. I told her I would let her decide to either keep the money, or turn it into the front desk so if someone asked, it could be returned. I reminded her what happened with the $100 in her purse, and I pointed out $40 might be someone's grocery money for that week.

She reluctantly decided to turn it into the front desk. Once we were a decent distance away, Katy commented to me in a very cynical voice that the manager would probably keep it for herself anyway. I said even if that's true, that's the manager's karma to deal with. I told Katy she did the right thing, and when you do good things, good things come back to you. She agreed, but I'm not sure she really believed me.

Part III
A couple weeks after Christmas we were in the mall once again shopping for a birthday gift for Katy's friend. We purchased a gift card and some piece of clothing, and I gave the bag to Katy to carry. We went to the food court to eat dinner before we left. It was the very end of the evening when things were beginning to close, so as soon as we were done we headed to the parking lot.

When we got in the car, I asked Katy to take the gift card out of the bag so we didn't lose it, and once again, Katy discovered she had forgotten the bag at the food court. I'm sure both of us were thinking about what happened with the $100 only a month before.

We rushed back to the table, but the bag was gone. Katy started crying. She was distressed that she was absent-minded, and frustrated that people would take things that didn't belong to them. I was completely annoyed because I couldn't seem to break this pattern of forgetfulness in her and I couldn't afford to replace the gift.

The bag was not at the management office, but we left our name and number just in case it turned up. I didn't have much hope. I told Katy I wouldn't replace the gift even if I could afford to because she had to learn to be more aware. She was mad because she didn't want to show up to her friend's party empty-handed. I told her she would have to figure out another solution.

This time I could not be so generous in my thoughts about the public either. I didn't want to set a bad example and I knew the fault was really Katy's, but I was completely pissed that there seemed to be so many dishonest people in the world. In my thoughts I wondered loudly what the hell was wrong with humans today.

The next day I got a call at work from the management office of the mall. They said someone had left a message about picking up a bag the night before that fit my description. I was so relieved! I also felt more than a little guilty for assuming someone had been dishonest.

I called the name and number I was given and a very nice lady answered. She said she was just leaving that night and saw the bag sitting on a chair. She had a daughter about Katy's age that was forever leaving her bag or purse somewhere, so she figured she'd do a good deed and try to find the owner. We chatted a bit about children and responsibility, and she gave me her work address so I could pick up the bag that afternoon. I then called Katy to relay the message and to tell her I was sure this was a little bit of instant good karma from the $40 she had turned in at Walmart. This time I think she believed it.

When we met, I thanked the lady profusely and offered her a reward, but she declined. She said knowing she had helped us out was reward enough. As I got back in my car and prepared to pull away, I said a silent but heart-felt thank you to the Universe for resolving this problem for me. I pulled into traffic behind a large SUV and the personalized license plate that met me right at eye level was - I shit you not: "HV FAITH"

I was astounded.

Update: Years later I still think of this story often. I've had many divine winks since then, but recently there was one that was almost like a follow up to the HV FAITH license plate. I was driving home from the store and I'd been having "one of those weeks." At least I'm better at keeping a good attitude now, but it can still be a challenge. Anyway, this SUV with a Virginia plate pulls in front of me (I live in California now so obviously the guy wasn't even close to home!) that said: B F8HFUL. It took me a minute to figure it out, but I realized it was "Be Faithful." The rest of the day was full of grins and giggles. :D

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Being Here and Present(s)

Christmas, 2007

I know I haven't been posting much lately. I've had a lot going on and the new job keeps me much busier than the old one did, but I'm making up for it tonight so if you intend to make it to the bottom of this post, better grab a cup of tea and settle in.

Seems Death is the new black this season. Last Wednesday Jason, a friend of Katy's, killed himself. He was the boyfriend (sometimes ex-boyfriend, depending on the week) of Katy's best friend, Kat. I was shopping for some Christmas gifts in a basement store when I received the original call, but since the reception sucked underground it was dropped the minute I tried to pick it up. Seeing that it was Katy and knowing I had only just left the house, I went upstairs to street level to call her back to make sure things were okay. They were not. She relayed the message between sobs, and I had to ask twice to make sure I heard her right and understood who she was talking about. It's a very shocking thing to hear, even if you didn't know the person that well, and my organs felt rearranged - my heart blocking my throat, and my stomach somewhere around my knees.

I offered to come home immediately of course, but she said it wasn't necessary. Kat's mom was on her way over to pick her up and take both of them to Jason's parents' house. I don't think there is a more frustrating, helpless feeling than hearing your child crying on the phone (for good reason) and knowing it will take more than two seconds to get to her, and that you can't change anything anyway. She said there was really nothing I could do so we hung up and I stood outside the store a bit dumbfounded, trying to sort out my own emotions.

I called my mother under the pretense of warning her of the situation so that if Katy called her, she would be prepared, but in all honesty it was more an instinct of seeking comfort from the most familiar source in my life.

As I've written before, Katy's father shot himself in the head when she was six months old. If you've known someone that committed suicide, you'll understand when I say this event is not a surface wound for anyone touched by it; it cuts straight through to the soul and it leaves a mark. I was surprised my scars could be so easily laid open again, and although Katy doesn't remember the events surrounding her father's death it affected her greatly, so I couldn't imagine the hurt she must be feeling. I remember betrayal and guilt being the strongest tastes for me in the emotional cocktail when Joey chose to leave.

Jason was a good looking, nice kid with a huge grin that he wore easily each of the handful of times I met him. He was 20 years old, into rock climbing, and was engaged to Kat at one time (despite much parental disapproval, me included). He went to college in Colorado for a year, but I think he dropped out last semester. He came from a wealthy family where (I'm told) the parents were involved in their kids' lives. Not the kind of profile you normally find in a suicide.

He and Kat were not currently dating, but apparently she is pregnant with his child. I can see where that could put some pressure on a guy (one of the very reasons I didn't tell Joey about Katy), but I didn't get the impression Jason was the type that would make it the end of the world for him. What do I know though?

He wasn't without issues. I'd heard some tales of alcohol and drugs, and this was not the first bullet of impending parenthood he dodged. Still, he just didn't seem that unstable. Lash out? Yes. Run? Absolutely. Decide death was the only solution to the problems at hand? No way. I can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. I've had weird feelings about it being an accident, but my logical mind argues that I'm grasping at straws because I simply don't want to believe anyone can hurt that bad and not seek help, and that I couldn't have changed the outcome. How selfish and egotistical of me, but I guess I'm human. When I shine light on that dark corner in my head I also wonder if my thoughts are really about Jason or Joey at that point.

Jason knew about Katy's father. I think I'd even said to him and Kat once that if they ever had questions or wanted to talk about being parents at that young age, I'd be happy to tell them about my own experiences. It just hurts my heart thinking that anyone is feeling that kind of emotional pain. I've been down there, and there is no word to describe how much it sucks. However, even in my darkest days, when I toyed with some morbid ideas myself, I never came to the conclusion that my problems were worth dying over (and I reached that decision without the pharmacopeia I was offered).

The funeral was last Saturday and I actually felt like perhaps Jason moved on the day before anyway. Maybe it was just me that found some peace with the situation. I'm not sure where I acquired the belief, but personally I think after you die you spend three days reviewing your life and observing those affected by your transition. It probably takes that long for you to accept the change in circumstances yourself, and when you do, I think that's when your spirit moves on to other dimensions.

Katy has dealt with the events much better than I expected. One good thing that came of this is that she, too, has brought up and had to deal with some issues from her father's death. I hope those resolutions help change her perspective to a more positive one where Joey is concerned.

I am sad for those still sorting out the pain. There's just nothing you can do but offer your hand while they travel the road. I know how long it takes to heal that wound. It's not fun. I hope that Jason is at peace with himself now, and if he chooses to spend another lifetime here, I hope the information gained from this one was useful to his spirit.

So that's one story from this past couple weeks.

A few posts ago I related my concern with one of my chinchillas, Earl, having fur fungus. I've had him to the vet twice again since then. After his diagnosis of ringworm, he started having trouble eating so I thought perhaps there was a problem with his teeth. Dr. Welch checked them all and couldn't find anything wrong, but she said the front two were curved a bit funny so she trimmed them. I hoped it was something that simple and fixable, but my gut knew better. He stopped eating altogether a day after that, so I took him in again last Saturday. She put him under anesthesia and took some X-rays, which showed nothing out of the ordinary. You'd think this would be good news, but it's actually not because if you can't define the problem, you can't fix it. She had taken blood while he was under and sent it off to the lab for analysis. She said she would call me Monday with the results. Earl took a really long time to come out of the drugs, and I knew that couldn't bode well either.

Last night, just as we finished a big family dinner for Christmas Eve, I received the call. Dr. Welch actually looked my number up on the net to find me because there was no one at the hospital to get it for her. That's some dedication right there. She called because Earl's blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels were through the roof. They should normally be around 15 - his were at 120. The bad news is this is an indication of kidney failure, and there is no saving him from it. I guess you could consider finding the answer good news, but it sure doesn't feel like it. I asked her what she would do in my situation, and she said she would put him down.

Earl seemed to perk up more yesterday and today (he was sleeping on my lap in the pic), and he even ate a little bit on his own and he peed, but I know it's only false hope. I don't want him to suffer, but when he's acting more like himself it's impossible to look him in the eye and feel okay about putting him down. My aunt once told me that no matter how many animals you have it never gets easier when it's time to let them go. I completely believed her, I've lived through it before, so I'm not sure why the Universe insists on driving this lesson home so relentlessly. I GET IT ALREADY. I've begged him to leave on his own, but he's a little warrior right to the end.

Putting Kiwi (my 14 year old iguana) down last year because she had cancer was the hardest decision I've ever had to make - and trust me, I've had some fucking hard decisions in my life. I held her and cried at the vet's office for two hours until they finally came and gently told me they were closing up and I had to leave, then I felt bad for keeping them, but not as bad as I felt losing Kiwi. At least she was close to the normal lifespan for her species though; Earl is only middle-aged. I prayed I would never ever have to make this decision again, yet here it is in all its ugliness. The outcome is the same no matter what I decide, it's just a matter of time and pain levels. Obviously I will not let Earl suffer, but how do you tell how much they're suffering and when is the appropriate time to put an end to it when these small animals hide illness so well?

I've researched animal kidney failure as much as possible on the net. I understand the medical aspects of it, and I've read personal accounts of dealing with it in pets. There's not a lot of information about chinchillas specifically, but I did find some, and this is a common problem with cats so I can make an educated guess at the effects on a smaller animal. I've appealed to friends, family, the Gods, the moon, the stars, inner voices, silence - anything or anyone that might have some guidance or offer some peace. It's still not easy. Nothing is easy right now, not even knowing that all this too shall pass and the Sun will shine again.

Gaaaaaahhhhhh. Life! GRRRRRR.

Ok, so something happy to wrap this up because I can't go to bed feeling like this.

Today was good despite the weight of my heart. (Writing has definitely helped.) I was excited to give Katy and Mark their gifts, and I think they enjoyed them. As much as I hate the rampant consumerism of Christmas, it's fun to see people feel joy and know you caused it. It was really nice to have the house so quiet - it was only the three of us all day. It was awesome not to have to travel. We slept late, opened gifts, had a nice dinner and played Dread Pirate (a board game we received as a gift) by the fire (which is still crackling a little over there).

We actually tried to go to the movies to see I Am Legend, but I had to walk out because it was too scary. I think I can count the movies I've walked out on with one hand, so that's saying something. It's more like a horror movie than action/suspense. I can't imagine what possessed Will Smith to want to do that movie. He doesn't seem like the type of person that would support that kind of thing, but whatever.

Mraz made a Christmas post yesterday all about the stars. I'd heard before the story of the Sun and how it relates to Christmas, although I can't remember if it was when we went to the Franklin Institute's planetarium this past summer, or if I read it somewhere else. It got me thinking how brilliant the stars have been these past couple weeks when they haven't been hiding behind our atmosphere's fluffy white blanket, and how crystal clear the air of Winter Solstice is. I wish I had the knowledge of how to capture the game of hide and seek the Moon has been playing with the clouds. It's been awesome to watch. I've poked my head out the door each night to stare upwards for a few minutes, watching my breath freeze and float away to rejoin the matter that makes up our world. When I have the opportunity to really stare at the night sky awhile, I feel so connected to everything. I just wish it weren't quite so cold so I could stay longer.

Beautiful as Solstice has been, I'm also grateful we're moving past it and the days will start increasing in length again. I miss the sun terribly, and I know the grey weather hasn't been helping me resolve any of the difficult emotions I'm dealing with.

Even I see this is one of those times when I sound like I'm contradicting myself, but Solstice has been all those things. Don't be confused. It's all true. :) The air has been both clear and cloudy, beautiful and dark, bright and grey. And there are things I enjoy about the cold (like a roaring fire and hot tea), but I miss the warmth coming from above instead of the alcove in our living room, or the depths of my down comforter.

Shit, 3:07 am. I'm going to be so dead tired at work tomorrow. I seem to always look at the clock at 3:07. So weird. 1:11 is another one of those times.

One more train of thought I must get down on virtual paper, though it will probably only make sense to me. When I was in the shower the other day my thoughts went from the stars in general to the middle star on Orion's belt, to the fact that a friend once told me that star is a gateway to other dimensions; then I thought about imagination, and how our brains could be a conductor between dimensions like copper wire is a conductor of electricity and how imagination would be the electricity, and perhaps it fuels our awareness like electricity fuels a lightbulb. I moved on to water and its conductive properties, to wondering if in the future we will discover that water is really a conductor of psi energy/chi (which would explain why my most profound thoughts always happen in the bathroom) and perhaps it is the key to why Earth exists as it does (Earth being held in our thoughts and made real to us) and why we seem so alone out here in the cosmos. We all know the water supply on Earth is dwindling, even if we don't want to admit it. Imagination seems to be suffering the same fate at the hands of TV and video. Barely anything is left to the imagination these days because kids are too lazy to think (or read), and parents are too lazy or self-absorbed to encourage them to do so.

What if, in the future, as the water supply dries up and humans stop developing their imaginations because we are told what to believe about everything and so many are lazy with their thinking, we discover water and imagination are the filters through which we're able to bring our thoughts to a tangible reality. (Remember our human bodies are made mostly of water!) Think how precious both water and a creative mind would be. Without them, our doorway (perhaps the star in Orion's belt) would close and our existence could melt back into the dimensions surrounding us; unable to be sustained separately as we see and experience it now. Perhaps this is what happened to Mars. Maybe it's not that life doesn't exist on Mars (or didn't an eon ago), it's just that their water supply dried up and their imaginations were suppressed to the point they were no longer able to hold the door open to separate their perspective from the Whole.

Hmmm.

Goodnight. Dream well and often.

Monday, December 17, 2007

San Fran Treasure

Apparently there's hidden treasure at 826 Valencia in San Fran. Wish I'd known about this place when I visited in January!

http://itotd.com/articles/628/826-national/

Thanks to Interesting Thing of the Day for the info. :)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Grossest Google Ads Ever

Wow, since I posted that story about Earl's fur problem last night, all my Google ads have changed to "Cure Jock Itch!" and other links related to rather disgusting bodily problems. This is what happens when Google's algorithm gets bored. It looks up gross words in the dictionary and throws them on unsuspecting blogs for fun. I guess you could say I started it, but I didn't mean to.

This gives me an idea: There should be awards for whoever can write a blog that pulls up the most disgusting random ads Google has to offer. They could be the "GAG" awards (short for Grossest Ads on Google, of course).

Under the Weather

It's been a long time since one of the animals has been sick. Overall I'd say I do better than average keeping them out of the vet's office, especially for the number and variety of them I have, but Little Earl has been a concern the last week and some. He yanked out a bunch of fur so now he has a big pink stripe of skin down his belly instead of his soft coat. I suspected fur fungus. Several hours and a hundred+ dollars later, Dr. Welch confirmed that I was right (as I often am with my zoo). She sent us home with Sporanox (an oral antifungal medicine), and Conofite (a topical spray to help stop the itching). I only gave him two doses of the oral medicine because each time we'd give it to him, he'd paw at his mouth afterward like we'd just fed him hot sauce. He surely didn't appreciate being sprayed down with the Conofite either; chinnies share a cat's opinion of water. If I didn't feel so sorry for him, I would've had to chuckle at the way he was walking around high up on his legs like he'd just stepped in something very unpleasant.

I dealt with this nasty stuff once before and it's not easy to get rid of, but it's not impossible either. Odin and Zeus had it when we first brought them home. I remember calling a couple chinchilla "experts" to see what they used on outbreaks in large fur farms. They suggested a toxic chemical commonly found in fertilizer - FERTILIZER! - and an expensive medicine with a name that escapes me. Overall they said the cost to treat the chins would be around $500 - EACH. I said, "uhhh, thanks, but NO." That was the last time I called the "experts" about my animals. I was sure I could find a better, cheaper way, and I did.

I looked up everything I could find about fur fungus (also referred to as ringworm although I'm told by the vet that technically it's not the same thing). I found out what it is (a parasitic fungi made up of dermatophytes, which are organisms that survive by eating the keratin in skin - they usually stay on the top layer of the epidermis, unable to invade the second layer if you have a healthy enough immune system), what causes it, and what it reacts to. I found that tea tree oil is a very effective natural antifungal remedy, and other amateur chin owners used Desenex* foot powder (treats athlete's foot, which is caused by the same type of fungus) on their chinnies to prevent it, so that's what we went with on Odin and Zeus, and what we've ended up doing for Earl after the reaction he had to the prescription medicine.

I tried the tea tree oil on myself first and it's pretty strong in its undiluted form. It leaves a sort of cool-burning sensation on your skin, like a toner would after you wash your face (or aftershave for you men). A chinnie's skin is too delicate for that so instead of using it undiluted, I found an ointment by Desert Essence that contained tea tree oil in a smaller percentage. Personally, I think since the ointment doesn't soak in as fast, it probably kills the fungus better since the fungus also remains on the top layer of skin, but there is no scientific research to back that up. Tea tree oil also has a super strong smell and I didn't want to damage their little pink sniffers, so that was another good reason to have it diluted in the ointment. (Note: In my research on the net I also found some claims that tea tree oil is especially toxic to cats. I don't know whether or not this is true - you can't believe everything you read. If you've found this page looking for answers about ringworm in your pet, please USE COMMON SENSE! Do your own research and talk to your vet before administering anything to your pet!)

It makes a real mess of their fur, but it works like a charm. With time and dust baths, all Odin & Zeus' fur grew back in fine, and I expect Earl's will too. It took a little longer maybe than the prescriptions, but the ointment cost under $10 and the Desenex even less, plus there are less objections from the fuzzy people. I think the fact that I stick to organic products for my animals helps keep them healthier in the long run as well. Our big, lumbering human bodies barely deal with the chemicals we're constantly exposing ourselves to in a graceful fashion. I can't imagine these tiny animals (or even dogs and cats for that matter), where bodily functions are accelerated due to their size, would deal efficiently with foreign substances.

So we're using the tried and true remedy on Earl now, however, I noticed last night when I fed everyone that Earl was not interested in the hazelnut I offered. Earl normally loves ANY treat, and hazelnuts have never been refused before. I tried giving him a cranberry instead and he took that, but he was a long time eating it (also very strange behavior for Earl). I made another appointment with Dr. Welch for Tuesday because I'm now thinking something might have gotten dodgy with his teeth. I watched closely while he ate a supplement pellet and he seems to be biting things off on one side, then chewing slowly, much like a human with a toothache does. If it's going to be something dental-related, I really hope it's a simple problem and not that the fungus has invaded his mouth, because I'm pretty sure asking him to gargle daily is out of the question.

:sigh: My poor little Earl. (Yes, he is missing an ear. He likes to say he lost it in a knife fight, but actually he was born that way. The inner ear is all there, it's just the outer "satellite dish" that's not.)

In other news, the new job is going well. I feel like I'm playing all day doing Photoshop work, which is pretty cool. I've never had a job I really liked before. We get to work from home twice a week too, and when the sky opened up a couple days ago and rained down all kinds of nasty, cold stuff on us, we didn't have to go into the office either. That was REALLY nice until the office closed and let everyone out at 1pm, but we had to keep working since we were able to. Damn. I guess there's a trade off for everything.

This is where I usually work when I work from home. It's my most favorite room in the house because of the sun.

We're supposed to get more wet weather tomorrow. The temp has been resting right at the freezing mark so it can't decide whether to rain or snow, but either way it makes a mess of the roads. I've been looking over at the San Diego weather jealously. 60° and sunny seems like heaven. The snow here is really pretty though when it's falling all stealth-like and you're tucked into the house with a fire, a cup o' tea, and a good book or three. Unfortunately I have a lot of errands and Christmas shopping to complete (bah) so this could throw a real kink in my plans.

The holiday season is not my favorite. Why can't we all just get together and have a meal and appreciate each other like at Thanksgiving? I'm pretty sure Jesus must be shaking his head and sighing, and the Gods are rolling their collective third eye at what we've made of this time of year. And I chose to be born right in the middle of it. What was I thinking? I much prefer once all this BS is over with and I can enjoy the rest of winter in peace.

Mark signed us up to go to one of the porn conventions in Hollywood in February. I'm not that interested in the convention (been there, done that, and no, there are not generally naked girls all over the place - it's all business transactions and dinners of shmooze) but I can't wait to check out Hollywood and LA. I've never been to either. And hopefully it will be a nice break from the cold here.

Well none of this is what I planned to write about, but there it is. So often during the day I think of these poetic things to write in the blog, but there's never time or something handy to write them down, then I forget all the poetry by the time I'm in front of the computer. Just too much to do and not enough time to get it all done. Such is life.

*Many other people have found that Tinactin foot powder works well, but being that it's even stronger than Desenex I'm hesitant to try it. Chinnies are small, delicate creatures and "more" or "stronger" is not always better.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Brought to You by the Letter P

My mother recently moved from Austin (read: Big City) to the Four Corners area of New Mexico (read: Podunk). Most of my mother's family has lived in New Mexico for about 10 years, so I think this will eventually be a good thing for her (to be near more family), but right now I can tell the adjustment is taking a toll.

If I had to sum up my mother in two words, it would be Corporate Shark. All my life she's been the one running the show in big and small companies. She made crazy money and wasn't afraid to enjoy it. Now she's selling modular homes (read: Trailers) to people that generally live on the border of poverty. I'm not saying this is a bad thing (it was her choice, not a necessity), just that it's like taking a fish out of the ocean and expecting it to adapt to a cat litter box (a clean one).

What? If Darwin is right, we came out of the ocean and we're livin large in the litter, poopin up the whole planet too! Just because we had several generations to adapt and she only has several decades doesn't mean a thing. Pssshhhh.

She sounded discouraged in her recent email. Apparently selling trailers in the desert is not ALL THAT, and the slower pace of the area seems to be a concern (as I predicted). I know she'd rather be on the construction side of the real estate industry, but she tried that and found there are a lot of crooks that cut corners to make a few extra bucks. She decided she couldn't live with that, but she's been interested in construction since I was little so I had a hard time believing there's no way to fit these pieces together.

As I pondered her plight, I was reminded of the coolest thing since penguin cheeks:

http://www.earthship.net

My friend Amado introduced me to these homes many years ago and I've been dying to live in one ever since. Totally off the grid. Fully sustainable. CHEAP! (At least when compared to the insane real estate of the Northeastern Freezer I currently reside in.) They are so beautiful inside, and ecological, and damn, how awesome would it be to live like that?

I replied and told her she should get involved in making these the Next Big Thing. The Man with the Plan says they can be built anywhere. She would be doing something she loves in a niche that is less likely to rub her morals the wrong way, and contributing to the greater good.

Phukin A.

I went to Texas last month just before Thanksgiving. Marie (high school friend) & Scott (still has that new husband smell) sent me a plane ticket (first class - my friends ROCK) so we could go to TRF and hang out. It was an awesome weekend.

Marie is very Irish. Scott is also very Irish. Spike (as Marie affectionately refers to her first unborn child) is due on St. Patrick's Day. There's no irony in that AT ALL.

I have both Irish and Scottish blood in my woodpile. Needless to say, our normal M.O. at faire is to ride the pubs hard and put 'em up dry, but since the doctor said Spike doesn't need a head start on The Affliction of His People, this will forever be known as The Year We Were Sober at Faire. I think it was better this way. I certainly remember more of it. In high school we were party animals, but I barely drink at all now so I've become quite the lightweight. The last time I tried to keep up with Marie, well, it's a good thing Scott can stop the truck that fast. Being 18 for 20 years does not make you better at it.

While on the plane I wrote down a few random thoughts to share:

1. What do you suppose the protocol is for eating on an airplane? Do you observe the rules of polite dinner etiquette and wait for your neighbor's food to arrive before chowing down or is your seat your own little world so you should dig in before it gets cold? Does it make a difference if you're in coach or first class? I guess actually it would since first class is the only place you get fed on a plane these days.

2. Sneezing is kind of gross but we can't help doing it in front of others, so isn't it nice that someone usually blesses you each time anyway? And of course the power of suggestion just caused me to sneeze. Ew. At least I'm in the window seat and not stuck in the middle of two people with no proper way to turn.

3. They served ice cream as dessert and all I could think of was J's paradoxical love of ice cream and fear of any smell in the cabin being blamed on him. I passed on the ice cream.

The clock on the nightstand is glaring at me in disapproval, and the sheets are promising sweet dreams if I hurry up and snuggle in.

The stars have been especially sparkly the last few nights too. Good night stars. Thank you for looking in on me.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not Your Average Impulse Buy

I didn't know BJs* was carrying kids now. This one looks a little lazy, but he might perk up if you throw some water on him.

Kaytee was with me and I told her she'd better get her act together before I considered returning her. They'd do it too. They take back anything.

*BJs is a warehouse store like Sams Club. Yes, whoever named the company is either incredibly naive, or has a helluva sense of humor considering they trade on the NYSE under the symbol "BJ." What guy wouldn't want to buy stock in BJs? And the web site is at - you got it - bjs.com. Now there's a good example of misleading people on the Internet. I can't decide if it's a huge waste of a good domain, or the ultimate irony.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Mahalo

Thanksgiving Eve. It is the calm before the storm. The deep breath before diving in. The moment you pause on your board and look down the snow-covered hill before hurling yourself over the edge into a barely-controlled slide down a slippery slope. [Not that I would have any idea about that since I've never been snowboarding, but I can imagine. I'd be the one curled up by the fire in the lodge with something hot and sweet, and maybe hot chocolate too. Ha.] After tomorrow, much of America will begin the insane pace of The Holiday Season.

I'm so glad we have a celebration focused on gratitude before all that nuttiness starts. The retailers try their best to gloss over Thanksgiving in favor of the consumer madness that Christmas has become, but at least we stop to breathe first, and devote a day to being thankful for what we've given and gained in the last year.

Personally, I like to count my blessings every day. Even if I don't write them down in my book, I at least think of five things every night that I'm thankful for before I go to sleep. Imagine how the world would change if every single human being did that every night. I wouldn't mind living in a world like that.

Thinking about Thanksgiving also reminds me of the turkey in the road. This past summer, there was a wild turkey in Wyckoff that chose the middle of an intersection as his strut zone. Every day on my way to work traffic would be backed up because Mr. Turkey was casually strolling from car to car, sometimes even knocking on the doors. Each time I passed him, I sent him protective Reiki thoughts, wished him a good day, and hoped everyone would stay aware enough not to hit him. He survived. Eventually, strutting season was over and I'd like to think he went back into the nearby nature preserve. (Or it's possible animal control finally took him somewhere safer, but I hope he decided to leave on his own when his work was done.) I looked up turkeys in the Sams cards and Animal Speak and learned that turkey medicine is all about adaptability, blessings, and sacrificing yourself for the good of the whole. I'm not sure if this idea came before or after our tradition of Thanksgiving was established, but either way I'm glad Turkey got the honor of this special message.

Kaytee just told me a cool story before she went to bed. Some background first: I recycle everything I can, and I've always been one to save the little cardboard sleeves from Starbucks for future use (if I don't have my travel mug with me). I actually have two from last Christmas I carry around in my purse. Every time I use them, it's one less wasted piece of cardboard in a landfill. It may not seem like a huge recycling gesture, but the numbers do add up after awhile. With as much Starbucks as I drink, I'd be willing to bet I've saved a few hundred of those things from polluting our planet by now.

Apparently I've influenced my daughter to do the same thing. She told me she was working tonight at Vans and had gotten Starbucks. Previously, someone at Macy's had given her a piece of paper scented with perfume and it was in her purse with the cardboard sleeve, which then picked up the perfume. When she used the sleeve on her cup, the heat released the scent and a girl she works with commented on it. Kaytee explained why it was probably the sleeve from her cup the girl was smelling. Her co-worker then asked if she was an environmentalist. Kaytee said she was definitely concerned about the Earth and tried to do what she could to help out. The girl thought that was pretty cool and decided she was going to start saving the Starbucks sleeves to use more than once too. Not only am I glad to know Kaytee thinks about those things, I'm glad to know my recycling habits are spreading!

Tonight I am thankful for the pure potential energy of gratitude. I am also thankful that my daughter picks up some of my good habits instead of just the bad ones. I'm grateful for the beauty and warmth of a crackling fire, and the mobility of my laptop so I can sit by it and write this post. Thank you for great books that make me laugh and keep me entertained. Thank you for my baking skills, and an annual occasion for family and friends to gather and enjoy each other's company. Thank you for love, happiness, and whirled peas. ;)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Smell of OMG

I wish I could put aromas on the blog like pictures, because I just put all the remaining apples from our orchard foray in October into a pot with water and a bunch of cinnamon, and it's cooking down to applesauce on the stove as I type. There is no candle in the world that can match the mellifluous perfume of cooking real apples and cinnamon.

We humans are always looking for a way to do things faster and easier. I'm all for convenience, but on the occasion when I take the time to do things the old fashioned way, it's a healthy reminder of why things were done that way to begin with. Slow can be meditative and healing. It helps you remember from whence you came. I acknowledge that faster isn't always better, and I'm thankful those old ways are not lost on me.

I really wish you could be here to stop and smell the apples.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Death Is Only A Change of Worlds

Today marks 18 years since Katy's father smoked his last joint in the treehouse by the train tracks, put a gun to his head, and pulled the trigger. This date hasn't bothered me for years, but Mraz put up a new video from Europe tonight in which he explains the origins of a song he's writing for a friend who committed suicide, and it got me thinking. Odd coincidence that it came up today.

Joey was a friend of a friend, and I was 18 when we met. He was only a half-year younger, but our birthdays fell in such a way that he was still a senior in high school, while I'd already failed a year of college and hit the working world. His face resembled a cross between David Duchovny and Dwight Yokum, with 80s rock star hair to round it out. He played guitar pretty well and was mostly low-key. I don't remember him ever speaking very loud, a trait Katy has unwittingly picked up in the genes.

Joey lived with his father and stepmother, but it didn't seem like a good relationship between the three of them. His mother had split to travel the country on a Harley, and he resented his stepmother in a huge way, both situations which I could relate to. His father seemed like a hard ass, but I only knew him from a teenage perspective, so in hindsight I realize my impression could have been mistaken. Then again, parents of my boyfriends never seemed to like me.

I remember when he first told me he loved me. He's the only guy I was ever truthful with (until Mark) about how I felt. I was still hung up on my first love, Frank. I told Joey that I really cared for him but that love wasn't a word I threw around lightly and I didn't want to say "I love you" until I meant it. He seemed to accept that, and appreciated the honesty, but it didn't keep him from telling me he loved me all the time and I felt stupid not saying it back. I was determined to mean it though.

I finally said it about four months later when I was in Austin visiting some friends. I'd called him to say hi and that I missed him, and at the end of the conversation he said I love you the same as he always did, and I said it back without even thinking. Then there was a very loud silence. He asked, "Are you sure?" I wasn't really, but figured maybe I did mean it if I'd said it without thinking so I said, "yeah." He was obviously on cloud 9 and I felt like I just landed on Mars. I dreaded seeing him again after that, but I couldn't avoid it and he was so happy I decided maybe eventually it would be true.

I lived in a tiny studio apartment in a questionable area of town at the time. We'd been dating several months when Joey decided to drop out of high school. I told him that was a dumb idea, but a few nights later he showed up on my doorstep and told me he'd been kicked out of the house for dropping out, and his parents took away his car. He wanted to live with me and get a job. I told him again how stupid that was, but I let him move in with what little he had with him.

For four weeks I got up in the morning, went to work, and paid the bills. Sometimes I'd come home at lunch since work wasn't that far away and he'd still be sleeping at 1:00 in the afternoon. I've always been a night person and often sleep until afternoon, but not when I'm unemployed living off of someone else.

My apartment was located between two major malls, in walking distance of either one, so it wasn't like his lack of transportation was a problem. I didn't expect him to have a corporate job that supported both of us, I just wanted him to have anything that would contribute to the bills. I asked him nicely at first why he wasn't looking for a job and he always said he planned to start tomorrow. I swallowed this for about two weeks before I got bitchy about it. When it was obvious he really didn't plan to do anything but be a sponge, I gave him an ultimatum. He promised again that he would apply at the mall the next day.

I don't know what made me go home for lunch that day, it was probably lack of money, but I guess it was the Universe getting me out of a bad situation before it got worse. When I walked in the door it was like the cameras were rolling and I was suddenly in some Hollywood drama. His uncle, whom I'd met previously, liked, and trusted, was sitting at my table cutting up a line of coke on one of my mirrors while Joey stood off to the side playing guitar. I don't think any of us could've been more shocked. They had obviously not seen me coming and it had never even occurred to me that this was a possible scenario. I guess I was naive, but I would've never predicted that Joey used drugs. And I guess I did love him or his betrayal wouldn't have hurt like it did.

I don't remember exactly all the words that transpired, but in the end I told Joey if he was not out of my apartment permanently when I got back from work that night, I would call the cops and report them both. I don't even know how I made it through the rest of the day, but I did. I'm a pretty forgiving person, but there are some lines no sane person would cross. Doing coke in my house while you're an unemployed high school dropout, and I'm struggling to pay the bills at 18 years old, is definitely one of my lines. And boy, that's some lovely family support from his uncle, eh?

So Joey was gone like I asked by the time I got home. When I finally took one of his calls weeks later he said he'd moved back in with his parents and was going to rehab. I didn't talk to him again for almost a year.

We did eventually hook up though or Katy would not exist. I had successfully avoided him at all gatherings of our mutual friends until Vince's birthday. It was a major party and I was told that Joey had been clean and sober for awhile, and that he still wanted to get back together. I wasn't interested, but I wasn't dating anyone either. I was still too shaken up about having so grossly misjudged his character.

Sure enough, he was there when I arrived, and immediately turned our conversation into a love drama of explanations and self-introspection. We agreed to go back to my apartment to continue our talk when the party started breaking up. It got so late I told him he could sleep there if he wanted, but that's all we were doing was sleeping. I guess we both had good intentions but those things kind of get thrown under the bus in the wake of teenage hormones. We didn't have any protection and I said fuck it anyway, and as soon as we were done I knew I was in trouble. I mean literally the moment it happened I knew. I don't know how I knew, but I did. I didn't mention it to him though.

The nausea started a couple weeks later, and the tests all came back positive. Now I had a real problem. I had also heard that Joey went back to using when I refused to get back together with him. Deciding to keep Katy is a story all its own for another time, but obviously that's what my decision was. I didn't want Joey involved in her life at all because of his drug use. I debated long and hard with many people over whether to tell him or not, but in the end I decided it would be easier not to, both for Katy's sake and Joey's. He had enough problems to deal with.

I managed to keep my pregnancy and Katy's birth a secret from him, but when she was two months old, one of our friends slipped in conversation and told him I'd had a baby. Fortunately I'd only told one person in that group who the father was, but I'm sure it wasn't hard to do the math. Joey called me demanding to know if Katy was his and I lied and told him it was another guy I'd slept with after him. I suck at lying and it was really good I only had to talk to him over the phone or I'm sure he would've seen right through it. He probably did anyway, but he let it go. At least, I think he did.

Late in the evening on November 14, 1989, my mother received a call on her private line from Joey's and my mutual friend, Jason (not Mraz). Jason was the only one outside my family that knew Joey was Katy's father. I couldn't imagine what he was calling my mother for. It's weird how moments of great trauma slow down in time. I was feeding Katy, rocking her to sleep, and Mom came to tell me what Jason had relayed to her.

I don't know who built the treehouse, but it was a party place. All teens that lived in the area seemed to know about it and they went there to smoke weed and drink. It was well away from any roads; you had to walk through some woods and across a train trestle to get to it, so the cops didn't bother you up there. I remember going out there at night once with a bunch of people and it was scary but cool. It felt so far away from civilization and crossing the train track, where there was no escape if you didn't get across before the train came, made my heart race even though there wasn't a train in sight.

Apparently Joey had gone out there earlier in the day with some weed and his father's gun. The police report said he smoked the weed with some 13 year old kids, then the kids left. When they came back later that evening, they found Joey dead with a gunshot wound to the head. The coroner's report said he also had heroin in his system. He was 19 years old, only a year older than Katy is now.

Other pieces of the story surfaced with time. He had stolen a guitar and sold it for drug money and was about to go to jail for it. He had tried to commit suicide once before by cutting his wrists. I didn't know either of those things. Jason swore to me he never revealed Katy's paternity, but they were best friends long before I came on the scene, and Joey had been at Jason's house that day and seen pictures of Katy on the piano. I'm not sure what to think about whether Joey knew or not, and if he did know if that was good or bad.

I think I was more upset for Katy than anything because Joey's decision wasn't only for himself, it closed the door on any opportunity the two of them may have had to know each other. Even though I didn't want him around her while she grew up, I never doubted that someday he might clean up and when she was old enough and beyond the influence of his bad habits, I would tell him everything and hope he would understand my reasons and not hold it against me or my daughter. Katy has turned out to be a good kid. She's gotten in some trouble here and there, but never with drugs or sex, and no more than an average teenager. I'd like to think that's all the proof I need to know I made the right decision, but nights like this I have my doubts.

I don't even have a picture of him. I've asked Jason and some other friends if they have any, but they are either unwilling or unable to dig them up. Since she turned 18, I've offered to get in touch with his parents so she can meet them and see pictures, hear stories, or whatever she needs to resolve some things in her head, but so far she says she doesn't want to.

The first few years were hard every time the calendar came to this day, but the questions and emotions fade with time. In recent years, it's barely hit my radar. I'm not sure why hearing Mraz talk about his friend made me think so deeply about it, but I needed to write the story down anyway, so I'm thankful the chi was stirred.

Whatever branch of reality Joey chose to inhabit next, I hope he's happier there than he was here.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Elevenses

It's 11/11 today - does that mean we get to make wishes all day? Yes, I'm one of those people that will make a wish if I happen to look at the clock at 11:11. It doesn't harm anything to send up a small spontaneous prayer, so why not? Of course the ultimate wish-making date/time will be in four years on 11/11/11 at 11:11. Imagine how many people will make wishes in those 60 seconds! It'd be nice if we all wished for peace and tolerance of each other. Talk about collective consciousness! Do you suppose that could be what changes our world in 2012? If enough of us made a wish for the benefit of the greater good at the same time perhaps it would start a global flow of more positive thought, which will result in more positive action. Then the following year, when the Mayan/Aztec calendar predicts the end of the world, it will only be a symbolic end, not a physical end like the media likes to feed us.

What? It could happen. Don't be a party pooper. :P

A book jumped off the shelf at me in Borders yesterday. The title is 2012, The Return of Quetzalcoatl by Daniel Pinchbeck. I've had a thing for the Plumed Serpent since elementary school, when I was the only one who could pronounce or spell the name without effort. (That sounded dirty, but I didn't mean it that way. Or maybe it's just my own jaded brain.) It was really the cover of the book that caught my eye - the whole thing is a muted metallic olive green with an embossed Fibonacci spiral made of circles. Only the black & white text of the title and author mar the expanse near the bottom margin. On the shelf next to a clamor of color and pictures, this cover's simple elegance stood out in stark contrast. Since the subject is something I'm interested in, I had to buy it. And of course I had to buy the hardcover, which is twice as much as the paperback, because I'm picky that way. (I noticed later that the book is published by Penguin, which is a division of Pearson, so I could've bought it half price from work. Oh well.)

Such is the reason I find it dangerous to venture into the bookstore. Escaping with my wallet intact is very difficult for me. At the rate I'm going, I'll have to retire in the next few years to be able to read everything I've got on my shelf before I die. I'm only a few pages into this one, so I can't really offer an opinion or synopsis of the book yet, but hopefully the contents will live up to the cover design.

If you look it up on Amazon, be sure to dig deeper than the initial reviews on the front page. Overall the rating is high, but the reviews available on the front page all sounded like they came from conservatives that are not in a place to appreciate this kind of stream-of-consciousness writing. The reviews from people that liked the book seem to be more on par with my general opinions, so I'm still anticipating this will turn out well. That kind of disparity tells me it's probably one of those love it or hate it things, depending on your personal perspective of spirituality and being.

Now if you don't mind, I think I will get off this computer and spend a few minutes in the sun, then really dig into this book, quite possibly next to an active fireplace and a large cup of tea since it's only 45 degrees out today. The only thing missing from my self-portrait will be a large orange cat named Paddington purring on the couch next to me. My next 11:11 wish will be to not be allergic to cats. :\

No really, I was using the can as a microphone. Who eats whipped cream for breakfast? ;)

Click here to see my birthday according to the Aztec calendar.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Some of The Bigger Picture

My mom's been a single parent since I was three, and because babysitters were expensive I spent a lot of time at the office with her as a kid. I would read books, color, or play with Matchbox cars on the floor when I was little (I still have them too!). As I got older I remember typing letters to friends on a Selectric typewriter (I don't feel as old as that sounds), then later on IBM word processors. I actually taught myself to type. When the hunt-n-peck method couldn't keep up with my thoughts, I memorized the keyboard and practiced until I could type without looking at the keys. I don't do it "correctly" but I've tested at 75 WPM with 99% accuracy, which is just as good as your average executive assistant.

The best thing that ever happened to me at the office though was the Macintosh. I was about 15 when the first MacXL hit the market and Mom brought me in the office to show me how it worked with the mouse and all that. I was fascinated. In 1987 QuarkXPress was released for the Mac and Mom showed me how to do page layout with it. She paid me to help her with business reports and newsletters, and through my teen years I made a decent amount of pocket cash doing odd design jobs. I thought this would be a good career, but being a teen just out of high school, and the web not having taken hold yet, no one would take me seriously in the design industry.

I became a mom myself at age 20 and going to school for design was tossed to the backseat. I got a job in a law office answering phones and doing light clerical work because babysitters don't work retail hours. With the computer knowledge I had and my typing speed they soon had me typing up legal documents like a regular legal secretary. The knowledge of legal proceedings I gained from that job kept me from getting screwed so many times. I would've probably become a paralegal if my family hadn't all decided to move to Arizona. I didn't want to be all alone in Dallas so I quit my job and followed them out there with my 2 year old daughter.

In Arizona I found a job in a commercial real estate brokerage that used Macs. I was still only a secretary, but part of the job was making flyers for commercial properties and they used Quark to do that. I was there for almost three years until the Vice President, who really ran the company, died of cancer. The brokerage was sold to a larger firm and my job was eliminated.

I was then hired at SHR, who always hated to be referred to as an ad agency, but that's really what they do, along with brand marketing (and they're very good at it). They were an all-Mac office as well. I continued keeping up my Quark skills there and learned about Photoshop. Since it was on every computer, I got to play with it whenever I had some free time but I was never taught anything specific so I only knew things I'd figured out here and there.

In August of 96, a company that used Windows exclusively hired my mom and gave her a laptop. She had a Macintosh Quadra at the time at home, and had to take it in for a warranty repair. They gave her a brand new Mac but since she already had the laptop from work and the Mac wasn't compatible with it, she sent it to me. That was the first computer I had exclusively at my disposal for whatever I wanted. I immediately got online and learned how to manipulate AOL like an expert. That's how I met my boyfriend, Mark.

As Mark's and my relationship developed he taught me about HTML coding and coached me on a few more Photoshop tricks. I left Arizona to move back East and ended up in Georgia living with my mom again for six months (which is a whole other story). At this point I had decent Quark skills, some Photoshop skills, and I had taken a class in HTML and could code simple web sites, but I lacked any experience with Illustrator. For a job as a graphic designer, the trifecta is Quark/Photoshop/Illustrator. I'd technically been a computer geek for 12 years and I usually knew more about the software than the person interviewing me, but lacking knowledge of that one application closed doors everywhere as far as graphics went.

I pursued a graphics position for awhile anyway, but no one wanted to pay me for what I knew and teach me what I didn't. Being that I had to keep a steady income to support my daughter, and not wanting to exploit the time I had with Kaytee to learn another software program, I settled for more secretarial jobs.

I moved to New Jersey in 98 and after a year started working for a company that was making millions on porn sites. In a super twist of cosmic irony, their headquarters were in Arizona - in the same building SHR was in - but because it was the web, most employees worked remotely from home. These guys used Windows, and it was close enough to a Mac at that point that I didn't have much trouble converting, but I still liked Macs better.

I was hired to create and manage their customer service department, and I knocked that sucker out of the park whether it was appreciated or not. For about six years (some very important growing up ones for Kaytee), I managed to make a good living and be a stay-at-home mom. Not many single parents can say that. I worked from home, made my own hours, and made an awesome paycheck (with which I eventually bought a Mac in addition to my Windows machine!). Life was off the hook. Unfortunately, the company started sliding downhill and eventually outsourced my position in Nov 2005 to the billing company. I'd made quite an impression as the liaison with the billing company and they offered to hire me, but they were located in Arizona too and I was already living with Mark, plus Kaytee was a junior in high school and I couldn't change her whole world with only a year to go.

I was hired at Pearson in April 06 as a Production Editor for supplements to college textbooks at half the salary I was making before. It's caused a lot of financial problems, but it's an easy enough position - mostly you have to be organized and detailed and since I am naturally both, I excel at the job.

I took some classes that Pearson offered in Photoshop and Illustrator, but without anything consistent to apply them to, the knowledge melted away. With the reorganizing of our department, they cut me off from any classes that didn't directly relate to my job, and at this point, I'd really kind of given up the idea that I would be a graphic designer. I just didn't have the time to get my skills up to par.

Jessie was hired after me, and we sat across the aisle from each other in the cube farm. One day I was looking through the internal postings of other jobs in the company and I saw a listing for a Project Manager in the media group, which dealt more with the web side of things. I knew Jessie had web experience from her last job so I sent her the description and said she should apply, which she did. I intended to apply to, but was lazy and never sent anything in. She got the job in June and I was really happy for her.

Just a couple weeks ago she emailed me asking for my resume because there was another project manager position open in her group and she thought I would be great at it. She submitted my resume and the girl that did the preliminary screening gave me a call to find out more about me. In our conversation I mentioned all my Photoshop and Quark skills, and she asked if I would be interested in a graphic design position they had open instead.

Are you kidding me?

I interviewed with four people last week. I made it clear that I would have to be given time to learn Illustrator, but they said it's mostly Photoshop work anyway. Human Resources called me Friday right as I was about to leave to offer me the job. It's more money, the group works from home two days a week, they assign me a MacBook Pro laptop (I assured my white MacBook it had nothing to worry about), and of course I said yes!

I'm still having trouble believing I finally unlocked whatever it was that allowed me to be a graphic designer in exactly the way I wanted. I know reality is malleable, and I believe we create our existence as we go, but I've been trying to open that door for so long I'm kind of standing here on the threshold still in shock. It all happened so fast. It was like okay, your kid turned 18, BANG, you're a graphic designer. Pick up right where you left off when you took that detour to raise her. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Thank you for playing. Ummm, okay, someone move my little hat around the corner there.

I also see this as the first step to moving out to California. I couldn't afford to be there on the salary I was making before, but this is a good enough leap that if I learn what I need to learn, eventually I'll be able to find a job in CA at a price I can exist on. Kaytee wants to go to school at Musician's Institute in LA, and I wouldn't mind working at Industrial Light and Magic like I've wanted to since the 80s. This feels like finding a portal to another dimension. Perhaps it was a jump to another branch of reality. All I know is I feel like I've been on the service road for 18 years and I'm finally on the ramp back to the highway. I still want to be a bestselling author too, but as far as corporate jobs go, this is where I've wanted to be for a long time.

Tonight I am thankful for blogs and new jobs and climbing out of debt and the sound of the rain this morning and the sun this afternoon and beautiful fall colors and Jason's outrageous red dress picture that made me laugh and rendered me speechless, and for it all coming together.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Meta For Ickily Speaking

I step from the shower and stand motionless, acutely aware of the water drops gravity seeks to recover from my skin. They feel like tears slowly rolling down my soul. I mourn privacy, original thought, peace. I clutch the temporary stillness like the towel wrapped around my body. I examine my emotions before they evaporate. How long have I been stagnant? How much longer can I remain indifferent to every cell crying out for movement? I fight the urge to continue my routine. Wrestling the demand of the clock's metronome, I reach out to my unconscious, but regimen wins. As consolation I remind myself to be here now, but in this moment the words are bland on my psyche. The syrup of luxury and security is so easy to swallow. It coats my core with a tonic that suspends my fear of change, but in the deep breath between asleep and awake, the fabric of new experience brushes the comfort of familiarity, gradually wearing away the threads until I'm left with no choice but to seek out the garment that will warm my inner being again.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Watch Me Time Travel

Tonight we’re supposed to set our clocks back an hour, the bi-annual proof that time is only a human concept set up by those trying to bring order to chaos by measuring existence against whatever stick we can all agree on. Not that I mind a little order to the Universe, except when it involves an alarm. At least this time around we’re borrowing the hour we give back in Spring. An extra hour to sleep is as cool as finding $5 in your jeans from last week, except it's 60 minutes in your pocket instead. So I was thinking if I post this entry before 2am, then the clocks all automatically turn back an hour, technically I will have posted it in the future. All these years we've been trying to find a way to travel through time and we've had the answer all along. Go figure.

Bee Here Now

Cool - check that shit out. I just traveled back in time. :D I wonder if this one will show up under or on top of the other post from 1:59.

A few days ago the saying “You attract more flies with honey than vinegar” came up in my thoughts, and I had to wonder why you would want to attract flies in the first place. Flies generally hang out at poop piles and they barf on everything they land on. I can think of insects with better manners that I might want to attract. I think maybe the saying originally was about attracting bees, which isn’t much better when you’re allergic to them like I am, but it makes a little more sense in the big picture. Bees do some cool stuff for us and we haven't really appreciated them like we should, swatting them away from food and drink, killing them with spray cans and pesticides. I wonder if all us humans started being nicer to each other if the bees that are disappearing would come back. Our thoughts create our reality after all. Maybe the bees are "mysteriously disappearing" because we've mostly viewed them as pests so our thoughts have driven them off. My other theory is that the worker bees, who are all male, just finally got tired of the Queen's bullshit and split.

Damn, I've got all these snippets I've been writing down all week so I remembered to expand on them for posts, and now I'm so tired it's hard to continue writing. I gotta stop watching so much TV. I think we sat there for 3 hours tonight, which is why I started writing late, which is why I can't finish my thoughts now. TV sucks the life out of you. I really enjoy the shows we Tivo because they make me laugh, but there are just too many funny ones this season which equates to too many hours spent watching contrived lives on the tube instead of living the real one. It's addictive too - once you start watching a show it's hard to give it up unless the writing gets crappy (like Lost). Once you stop watching you're constantly wondering if you're missing something cool going on with the characters. Eventually you're so far removed from the story line tho you don't care anymore so you lose the urge to watch it, but that's exactly how an addiction goes if you think about it. Junk food for your brain - sure, it stops the nagging to fill it, but in the end the content will make you a big pile of useless flesh. When I lived in my own place I hardly ever turned on the TV so I didn't know what I was missing anyway, and that was fine with me. Now we have this 65" monster in our living room and Mark and I succumb to the laziness of plopping down on the couch as something to do together. Now that I'm thinking about it, aside from going out to eat, it's become the primary activity we share. That's not good. Not a good example for Kaytee either. I gotta talk to him about that. It's nice to have the big screen to watch a movie or something, but if it were up to me alone, I might ditch every TV we have at this point. I'll bet the bigger and more numerous the TVs in the house, the bigger the addiction will be. It's like they're an alien race invading our planet. Attack of the killer TVs! I'm not sure if you could refer to them as silent killers, but they kind of are since not too many people are aware enough to admit how detrimental they can be. I'll bet they're in league with plastic and artificial sweeteners.

Ok, I'm literally falling asleep on the keyboard now so it's time to inhabit the body of the Dreamtime.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Wind in the Hallows

4:44am. The house is finally quiet and the day ends like it began with me lying in bed listening to the wind playing in the treetops. It’s been a long day, but I’m still a bit wired and I can’t fall asleep so here I am writing.

We had a most triumphant Halloween costume party tonight. We’ve been planning for weeks, buying decorations and making arrangements, coming up with ideas for games, prizes, and decorations.

I woke up at 8:30 this morning to a huge tree crashing down in our neighbor’s yard thanks to the Santa Ana wind that’s made its way from California to our side of the Island. I’m glad to host the winds over here because it’s given the firefighters a chance to get things under control over by San Diego.

I went back to sleep after making sure nothing hit our house, and didn’t wake up again until noon, then the race against the clock began. Even with the best planning there are things I always forget so I had Katy and Mark running out to pick up stuff all the way up to the party hour. They were a huge help.

Jessica and I worked on the decorations most of the day and it came out really well.

I’ll probably be picking the cobweb stuff off of my furniture for days, and I might still be finding little silver skull and crossbones at New Year’s, but every time I find one I’ll think back to tonight and smile. It looked great with the pirate flag Rog painted for us hanging as the backdrop to the food table, and my huge old dictionary doubled as a very impressive spell book.

We kept all the alcohol on the kitchen island and it’s a good thing judging from how the floor looked by the end of the night. There will be much cleaning going on tomorrow, but I don’t mind that part a bit. The more cleaning to be done, the more fun you know you had and this place is a mess!

I labeled the party “DeathFest 2007” and explained this was to celebrate the death of all the things we’d like to let go of in our lives this year. I wrote in the invitation that everyone should bring a list of the things they wanted to “put to rest” and we burned our lists at midnight in the firepit on the patio. I was impressed at how many people remembered to bring a list, and glad that I could provide a way for them to at least take a step towards letting go of things that were no longer serving them in their lives. It wasn’t quite the ceremony I pictured in my head, but I think we made our point under the just-past-full moon.

We went through five boxes of hors d’oeuvres like it was nothing. The Jello shots were a big hit, as were Katy’s “Black Death” shots. Our magician friend, Ray, worked the party beautifully, freaking people out with his tricks left and right. He’s excellent at his craft. There was a good mix of guys and girls, and I think everyone moved about pretty well. I didn’t see too many sitting in one place for long. That thing I read about putting food in one room and drinks in another works really well to keep people mingling.

The costumes were great! There were several pirates and fairies, Dorothy and Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, and Gene Simmons in the Kiss make-up days. We had a geisha, lots of ren faire costumes since many of us are into that, a bee, a clown, Johnny Depp from Pirates, and a military guy. My costume was Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Even though the dress wasn’t quite as slinky as the dress in the movie, I think people got the point with the big pearl and diamond necklace, elbow-length gloves (big mistake to wear gloves as the hostess - I can’t tell you how many times I had to whip them off to deal with appetizers and party fouls) and the long cigarette holder that was kind of the hallmark. I had a lot of trouble getting my hair in the up-do, but I think it was passable. Mark was a Rabbi and Katy was a pirate wench. They both looked fabulous although Mark had trouble with the beard and finally gave up and ditched it.

Overall I think the party was a great success - high five! I may not have stuck with college long enough to get a degree, but I damn sure learned how to throw a party. It is definitely a lot of work, but at the end of the day, when you’re laying in bed listening to the wind and reviewing the night in your head, and you can’t get to sleep because it was all just so cool, it is totally worth every detailed effort.

Pictures here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Path of Gratitude

I love this picture, despite it being slightly blurry. To me, it looks like the trees are reaching across the path to hold hands (or roots). I could go back and try to take it again, but it would be a different picture since some of the leaves will have fallen and lighting may be a little altered. I'm not good at remembering to take pictures because most of them get stored in my head anyway. It's nice to have a medium to share some scenes with others though.

The trees are really putting on a show this year. The reds and oranges are out in full force, accented by lovely yellows and fading greens. I really have to make good on my promise to myself to head up to Harriman Park for some picture taking this week. It's hard to get there after work since it gets dark so much earlier now, but maybe if I took my hiking boots with me I could make it in time.

I've been satisfying my need for nature with the Environmental Center in Wyckoff in the meantime. Three times I've been out there now towards the end of the day, and although the trails aren't much more than short footpaths, the scenery is pretty, the animals are friendly, and I have a favorite bench with a good view from which to record thoughts on the Mac.

I've had a couple people stop on the path and mention with amusement how out of place the laptop looks. They ask if I have Net access, which I don't. I think it's funny that they assume that's the only thing I might be doing on the computer. I wonder if it's a reflection of their own habits or a conjecture due to my age. It does feel a bit strange to be tapping away on a keyboard and have to brush aside the occasional leaf or bug, but it goes so much faster than longhand with less cramping in the palm. Technology rocks.

The deer don't seem bothered at all by my presence. They come within 10 feet and watch me giggle while they thoughtfully crunch on an acorn or three. They have very funny chewing movements. I'm almost sure if I remembered to bring some hazelnuts, the chipmunks might come right up on the bench and sit with me. I love watching their little racing stripes streak by and disappear into a hole I couldn't even tell was under the leaves. I can't imagine how they remember where all the holes are.

I can always find things to be thankful for, but there are days when I'm paying the Universe lip service, and then there are days I'm really feeling it. Today I was immersed in genuine gratitude. Everything that came to mind made me feel huge appreciation for whatever the thought of the moment was. I can't explain it in words. I wouldn't quite say I felt connected, but it was something on that level.

On my drive to work this morning all I could think about was how grateful I was to have such a gorgeous drive to take every day. It's only 15 minutes, but it's wonderful to be in the car alone with the sun bouncing off leaves and flowers, music playing and fresh air rushing in the windows. I take the back way because it's pretty, and by luck it's a couple miles shorter. The pace is slower which can be a detriment since I'm one of those people that is always late, but I'll take that over the highway any day.

Huh. I'm so tired I can't even think of what else I wanted to say. Guess I'll say goodnight then and get some sleep. One of these days I'll remember to get a handheld recorder to capture the more interesting things I think in the car.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I've Gone Vanilla

I’ve had a positively insatiable need for ice cream lately. I like ice cream well enough, but I’ve never had an intense desire for it like this. I can only figure I’ve tapped into some etheric frozen treat vibe. Is global warming causing ice cream sales to go up?

Mint chocolate chip is historically my favorite, but this craving has been strictly black and white. The unfortunate part of this story is my body has a zero tolerance policy for dairy and sugar. Put them together and it’s a real devil’s cocktail that gets written on my skin. :(

Last night I finally waved the vanilla flag and inhaled a Julie’s Organic ice cream bar (vanilla with the chocolate coating – heaven) for dinner, then ended up taking Kaytee and Jazz to DQ later in the evening for a vanilla cone with chocolate ants (some call them sprinkles) on it. Ice cream for dinner, followed by ice cream for dessert. I really don’t know what came over me.

Jazz was one happy pooch though, hanging out the back of the Jeep with us, licking away at her very own cup o’ soft serve. My only regret is not having my camera to capture the image of her doggie smile trying to cope with the unnatural cold on her big pink tongue. My night of illicit indulgence was even worth the three ugly devil kisses on my cheek this morning. I’m continually amazed at the light-speed at which my body processes things. The silver lining is never having to say “diet.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Terrible Twos

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/17/MNISSQUAE.DTL

This article made me laugh. It makes China sound like some kind of spoiled brat stamping its feet because its brother got a reward and it didn’t get anything. If China didn’t have a considerable military, I’d think eventually they will just fade into the background like a bully after high school. Unfortunately, China is more like the psycho that comes back later with a machine gun and blows away all kinds of innocent people because the insanity has been building for years and the screw that was holding it together finally fell out. If there was ever a chance for history to repeat the Hitler drama, I’d say China has a good shot at that role (with North Korea as the understudy).

Seriously tho... We’re talking about a world leader being upset about what ONE GUY is doing for lunch on a Tuesday. And the One Guy is a man whose whole existence is about peace and happiness and let’s all be friends and get along. He’s getting a medal, not exclusive information on the location of all nuclear warheads in Russia. If I were going to be worried about someone in that Lunch Duet, I’d be worried about George Bush – the decorative finial on top of the biggest superpower nation on the planet who could quite possibly go to turn on the lamp and blow up the planet by mistake. Doesn’t Hu Jintao have an audition for Geisha and the Geek* or something more important to occupy his thoughts? :shakes head:

*Yes, I know geishas are Japanese, not Chinese. It sounded good, so chalk it up to literary license.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Poetic Mystery

Ironically, as much as I love finding meaning in song lyrics, I don't enjoy reading regular poetry much. However, once in awhile there will be a verse that silently slips across my path, stirs up my chi, and flits away giggling while I'm left to figure out where that came from. Maybe there are fairies in charge of such things. As Ralph is also famous for quoting: "Some things have to be believed to be seen."

The Mystery by Ralph Hodgson

He came and took me by the hand
Up to a red rose tree,
He kept His meaning to Himself
But gave a rose to me.

I did not pray Him to lay bare
The Mystery to me,
Enough the rose was Heaven to smell,
And His own face to see.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Quote

Thanks to Sera Beak for finding this awesome quote.

"Don’t accept any statement because I made it. Even if it is true a hundred times over, it still is not your truth, it still is not your experience, and it will not belong to you. Bring truth into being, and then it will belong to you. Regard the lives of those who have achieved truth only as proof that the goal can be reached."

Written by Selvarajan Yeshudian about his teacher, Elizabeth Haich in the Foreword to Haich’s book Initiation

Hey Maurice

Jess sent me this picture in email this morning and I had to go look up the word that means assigning human characteristics to animals or objects because I couldn’t remember it – it’s anthropomorphism. I knew it was long and complicated, but an excellent word nonetheless. What family does the lemur belong to anyway? Cats? Monkeys? I seem to remember something about bears, but I could be thinking of red pandas. Survey says: monkeys. (God bless Google.) Well, they definitely create comedic prosimian pictures. (Wow, spellcheck doesn’t know prosimian. How sad.)

This guy reminds me of King Julien XIII, the Lemur King in the movie Madagascar, which is one of my favoritest animated flicks (Woo DreamWorks! I remember when they first got together and I told the advertising agency I was working for that we should be trying to get them as a client and they waved me off and said it would never last. :), which reminds me that I still haven’t seen Surf’s Up so I’ll have to rent that this weekend. Damn, I gotta switch to unleaded coffee in the morning. Focus, focus!

In other news, Al Gore won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). CNN’s article on it is here:

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/12/nobel.gore/index.html

There aren’t too many politicians I think are cool, but I absolutely admire what Al Gore has accomplished for the environment so far. He and his team have managed to put Earth’s distress into words and pictures that a surprisingly large percentage of the population seems to understand. Communication on that level is no small feat, especially for a politician.

I think you have to sell at least a small part of your soul just to be in the political arena (some just sell out entirely) so I don’t often trust people that can play that venue, but Gore seems to have a real interest in improving our Earthly practices. Makes me wonder what it’s like on October 12, 2007 in the dimension of the universe where evil was defeated, Florida knew how to count, and Gore won the 2000 election. I think I’d like to jump over to that reality please!

Politics is too much drama for me. I don’t even like dealing with office politics, much less national politics (yes, I do vote). I’ve been involved in my share of after-school-special-worthy family/friend bullshit, but as I look back I see that a lot of the time (not all) I was wading in to pull someone else out of the river and drowning myself in the process. I finally learned that you can’t save everyone and I’ll gladly throw you a rope, but I’m gonna stand here on the banks and stay dry. My daughter is the exception of course. She can still drag me in unwillingly, but I try not to flounder around for long.

It was really windy today, but turned out nice with the sun shining and great cloud formations scooting along the heavens. Tomorrow will be mostly sunny with a high of 63. Fall has finally arrived. Sweater weather is cool with me tho. I like the long sleeves and the cozy hot drinks and a good fire to sit by. I love summer too but I guess I’m ready for fall this year. New moon was on Thursday too. Too bad it was cloudy that night cuz that’s always the best time to see as many stars as possible. Okay, I’m just babbling now. I have such great thoughts in the car all the time but I can never remember what I wanted to write down by the time I get somewhere that I have the option. :sigh: Maybe I need one of those hand-held recorder things.

Today I'm thankful for beautiful days and starry nights, the flavor of organic oranges, DreamWorks, imagination, and dog treats that make our pooch hop around in happiness.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Lizard King

This is Spunky, my iguana iguana. He's a handsome 7-year-old psycho, weighing in at 7 pounds and reaching a stunted, but still impressive, length of 37 inches from his nose to the tip of his regenerated tail. If I had known seven would be his lucky number when we adopted him as a wee hatchling, I would've named him Seven instead of allowing my daughter to pick his moniker. Maybe that's why he's got such a guanatude - would you want to be called Spunky all your life when you could've had a really cool name like Seven? Me either.

I've lived with iguanas for 15 years now. My first one, Kiwi, left us for the Big Cosmic Beach last year at the age of 14. (An iguana's lifespan is 15-20 years.) She was an awesome friend and went through some serious life lessons with me, including moving cross country. She was the most docile creature I've ever had the privilege of caring for. She's the reason I have Spunkalicious. We were at the vet with her on a false alarm (call it serendipity, but I think she planned it in the dreamtime) and the receptionist told me Spunky's sad story. My arm twisted up like Dick Cheney's morals and I offered to take him in until he found another home, except his rehab ended up being longer than most celebritys' stay in the Betty Ford Clinic. He's family now and will be here until I can find a way to release him back in the wild.

Spunks is more of a challenge than Kiwi was because he was abused, and though I was able to heal his body brilliantly, his little prehistoric brain refuses to evolve past his ancient history. He's much more chill than he used to be, but there are moments when he thinks he's a young Johnny Depp. In fact, two snaps after this photo he brandished his tail at my camera and told me to get the fuck out of his cage.

Based on behavior observations, I suspect he was wild caught instead of captive bred. I've looked for research groups going to South America that could help me put him back in the wild, but so far I haven't found the right people. My relationship with the Spunkmeister has changed my opinion on keeping exotic animals captive. Rescuing them from an abusive situation may be helping that individual out at the time, but it doesn't help the problem where it starts. It's been hard to say no, but as my little zoo dwindles down over the years, I'm no longer taking in exotic rescues. I'd rather help educate people so they reach the same conclusions I have before anyone else is living in a cage.

Lizards have become one of my strongest totems, along with Dragonfly. According to many indigenous peoples' beliefs, lizards represent the Dreamtime, regeneration, and messages from the Great Mystery. Animal Speak, by Ted Andrews also relates great powers of observation, objective detachment, and feigning sleep while basking in the sun. (Much easier in California than New Jersey!) All these things go right along with my personality and I'm honored and grateful to share my physical and etheric space with these awesome critters. :)

I am editing this post to note that I did not make the time of the post 7:07 on purpose. That's just how things happen around me. :) I love those little divine winks - they convince me I'm always right where I should be. I also fixed the picture of Spunky at the top since Blogger didn't seem to like the one I uploaded from the computer. Just one more reason to stop being lazy and figure out the beast that is WordPress. I know it's free, but Google makes everything so easy!