Saturday, December 31, 2005

Pleading Temporary Insanity

A powerful storm has barreled through town yesterday and all night long, causing record flooding and mudslides.

The rain has stopped momentarily.

The Napa River is at 30 ft-- five feet over flood stage.
The Russian River is at 48 ft-- sixteen feet over flood stage.

I email my friend, Dan. "Ya wanna drive out to the coast and watch the waves crashing high over the rocks?!? We can take your 4-wheel drive truck through Guerneville and watch the flooding Russian River!" I try and sound convincing.

He is hesitant, fearing we'll get stuck.

"Ohh that's the best part!" I thought, instantly recognizing I'm obviously suffering from temporary insanity.

The idea of getting stuck in the high waters and being rescued by helicopters throwing ropes down to us, standing on the roof of his truck, actually sounded thrilling to me.

That's when you know I've been indoors too long. Suffering a bit with cabin fever.

I email him back. "yeah, you're probably right. I guess I'll take my Christmas tree down instead." A much safer and smart choice.

I walk into my living room to start this chore I've been putting off, when he emails me back.

"I'm up for "testing the waters"! Ya wanna go for a drive?! I'll come pick you up now!"

I look back over at my Christmas tree. I decide it will be here when I return. "Yes! Come on over!" I tell him. "I'll go grab my raincoat!"

I'll see you in the new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Life on the Farm

I grew up on a farm.

Complete with geese, chickens, ducks, horses, sheep, a pig, goat, rabbits, dogs and cats, a guinea pig and a parakeet.

Such a huge delight for a girl who dressed up as a cowboy the first ten years of her life. But then. That all changed when we got our first horse.

My sister was the cowgirl of the farm.

She was involved in 4-H and raised rabbits and a pig. She barrel-raced in rodeos. She was involved in the Rincon Riders. She was the true cowgirl and no matter how often I dressed as one, it didn't make me one.

I learned that early on.

Especially when one afternoon, she and I rode the horses down to the Sonoma County fairgrounds and we galloped through the fields ... and I eventually got bucked off, flying through the air, head first burying neck deep into the ground. I thought I was going to die; suffocating myself in the mud.

"Show her you're the boss, Shawn!" Kelly would tell me. "Get back on! Show her you're not afraid!!!"

I rode the horse home with a swollen muddy check and bloodied lip, biting back the tears.

I really preferred buzzing around on our mini-bike around our farm and through nearby vineyards. A Honda-50. I pretended to be Evil Knievel and rode wheelies and jumped over angled boards. I felt more at ease. I wore a helmet that made me feel so powerful.

And then one day I convinced my friend Tony to sign up with me for 4-H, too. My sister made it sound so fun! I let him choose what we would get involved in.

He wanted to learn about wildlife.


I hated camping.

The only time we camped was while sailing off the coast of Canada in August right after 6th grade .... through the San Juan Islands... and my dad decided to cook us breakfast in our tent since it was raining there on Jones Island. Some sort of spark lit my sleeping bag on fire as I slept. My sleeping bag combusted in flames! I awoke to my dad stomping on my legs and feet putting the fire out. Thank God I'm alive to write about these experiences.

My mom drove us to our first 4-H meeting at Mrs. Simmon's house up in the Bennett Valley hills.

I waited for the others to show up. My neck craning left and right.. watching for the others to arrive. It was just me and Tony.

I remember feeling that panic feeling. I sat on the couch with Tony beside me and I looked over my shoulder out the window behind me, often hoping they would just show up late.

Instead, I saw my mother's Ford Galaxy 500 still parked there in the same spot she dropped us off. This time, the hood was lifted. A neighbor had walked across the street to help her out.

We always had car trouble. I grew up with the belief.. "never drive farther than you can walk back".

I remember that first 4-H meeting. She talked of deer prints. I could barely listen to her constant droning chatter about making a plaster cast of deer prints. I was so nervous and concerned for my dear mother.

Eventually, the tow truck came. Hauled the green Galaxy 500 Ford Sedan away just in time for Tony's mother to arrive in the same spot out in front to pick us up in their blue chevy station wagon, to take us home. Such a narrow escape.

But despite all that, I loved those plaid plants, and as long as I was wearing them... whether riding the horse, the minibike or doing the farm chores ... well, life was pretty good back then!

(pictured left to right: My sister, our beloved dog, Patches, my brother, our beloved collie, Lacey, and me in my favorite plaid pants).

Thursday, December 22, 2005


Driving through the neighborhood, I can't help but notice every home seems to have an inflatable Santa or Snowman or Reindeer just laying down on the grass flat as a pancake. It's kinda sad in a way, but I slow down and imagine, anyway, what they would look like if they were filled with air. "Oooooooh, pretty!" I whisper outloud.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Steaming Hot Popcorn

I was feeling hungry.

On the front seat next to me, was a steaming hot microwave popcorn bag just waiting to be opened. I pulled into the gas station, and stepped out of my car, when a man approached me.

"Maam? Can you spare some money for my kids? We have car trouble and we're driving down to L.A. for the holidays and my kids are hungry."

I didn't have any cash, but I happily offered him my untouched bag of popcorn.

He leaned over and punched the bag out of my hand. The popcorn exploded in every direction.

"I asked for money!" he shouted as he rushed away disappearing behind cars.

I stood there for a moment. Shivering.

With him disappeared something else -- my trust.

I got back into my car and as I drove off, I felt sad and confused.

This man has made it difficult for me to want to help a stranger again in the future. It's hard to trust fire once it's burned you. I wonder if I will always remain skeptical. Will it always just linger there under the surface with me? Will I always second-guess someone with needs?

I laid in bed that night, thinking of him, still shivering from the cold.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


You know how it is when you're a kid sitting in the backseat traveling for hours without air conditioning and you think you're actually sweating to death and dying of thirst so you beg your parents to stop so you can have a coke, and they say, "when we get to our destination, you can have a glass of water."

It was one of those vacations.

"I have to go to the bathroom."
"You should have gone when we stopped for gas three hours ago! You will just have to hold it."

It was in the middle of July. We were driving across country from California to North Carolina. We had no air conditioning and it was HOT.

"Can we get a motel with a pool?" we'd beg.
"We'll get the motel that we get".

I'll never forget how wide my smile felt on my face, when we pulled into a motel with a pool!

"I love you Pool! I love you Pool!" I sang over and over again. I couldn't have been happier! I snapped open my suitcase, threw on my bathing suit, and within moments, I was on the diving board hopping UP and down and UP and down preparing for my plunge into that glorious refreshing swimming pool... when I noticed ... something ... terribly strange.

It took a long time for me to shake the shock from my eyes and realize that I was actually staring down into a giant waterless hole in the ground. That stupid pool I was singing love songs to, was shut down for repair!

I cried enough tears that afternoon to nearly fill that pool back up. My mom said all my tears still wasn't quite deep enough to wade in, so we cooled down by drinking a coke with ice from the motel ice bucket.

And that night before I fell asleep, I followed the road map with my finger to see how far we had traveled. We were getting closer, but we still needed to check in one more night in a motel before we reached Swansboro.

I got giddy with excitement. I couldn't help but believe we would finally get our motel with a pool. And it would be worth it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Remembering Dad

Fifteen years ago from today, my father died.

He was sick in the hospital for nearly three weeks, hooked up to a life support respirator dying from bacterial pneumonia.

He was 59.

My mother, sister, brother and I would spend hours and hours with him. Even though visiting hours were very limited and were only allowed two visitors at a time, the nurses let that rule slide for us.

They became our friends, knew us by our first name and later attended my father's funeral.

I always felt that my dad loved my sister more because she was his first born and he adored my brother more because he was his only son.

I was the inbetweener. The middle child. I felt at times invisible and insignificant. Yet, during those final days, whenever I would walk into his room, the numbers on his monitors changed positively.

The nurses affectionately called me "the healer".

When my father's health started to fail, they called me at home on two separate occasions and asked me to come in to the hospital. As soon as I entered the room, the stats on his monitor would level out and return to a safe condition.

It was healing for me, too. For the first time, I felt significant to my dad. That I mattered and was important to him.

One night, the nurses called my family together and told us they they were surprised my father was still holding on. And that, perhaps, we needed to give him permission to die.

I will never forget that night in early December.

My mom spoke first. She held my father's hand and thanked him for his life. And for all the wonderful things he did as a husband and as a father to his children. She told him family stories. I listened as best as I could over the shaking in my skin and over my racing beating heart. I fought back tears. The lump in my throat felt like I was trying to swallow a ball made of velcro.

My mom kissed my dad and then it was my sister's turn taking my dad's hand. She sounded as articulate and passionate as my mother did. So clear-headed. I was so nervous, I felt I was about to vomit. I don't remember a word of what I spoke. I do remember staring so intently into his face and recognizing my nose as his nose.

After my brother had his moment with Dad... we just sat back in our chairs and looked at him. I knew that any moment, he would leave this world and enter into the next. What a perfect ending. We gave him permission, expressed our love and kissed him on his way.

I just stared. I held my breath. I waited.

Ten days later, my father died on December 10, 1990.

I went to work that morning. I was in the cafeteria ordering cinnamon toast and coffee when my co-worker and dear friend, Nikki, came running in to tell me that the hospital called and my dad was dying. I was to go immediately to the hospital.

Driving to the hospital on that sunny morning felt as though I was driving through sludge. It was the hardest drive in my life. When I got there and ran down the hall that was so familiar to me by then, I saw my sister and her three young babies under the age of four. She was crying.

"I tried to get here in time! I hurried as fast as I could! I wanted to be there for him! I wanted to hold his haaand!" she sobbed.

My mom and I arrived around the same time. And then my brother quickly on our heels.

He had already died.

I just stared at him for the longest time. And I will never forget.

Walking back down the long hallway alone toward my car, I was horrified to see everyone still going on with their business as though nothing so remarkable had just happened.

I was taken back by the girls in the parking lot laughing themselves silly! "How dare you laugh!" is what I wanted to shout. How could my grief, so unbearably thick weigh less than even the quietest whisper to the rest of the world?

Feeling lost and absent, we all headed for breakfast at a nearby restaurant called Lyons. Everything seemed dull and numb and in slow-motion.

Eleven-month-old Courtney was unwrapping the fake gifts under the Christmas tree near our table and we didn't even notice.

Several days later, I'm visiting my sister at her home and preparing for Dad's memorial service when we notice there is a new gift bag sitting on her dining room table. We walk over to it and she lifts it up and shakes it. Hands it to me and I shake it, too.

It is heavy. We both smile. She can't imagine who it came from. Who left this Christmas gift? I'm happy for her as well. We both are giddy with excitement.

Forgetting her husband went to pick up our father's remains in the crematorium, we both reach over to read the gift tag that simply says: Santa Rosa Memorial Park.

"It's Daaad!" we both replied.

The ironic thing was that he really was a gift to us.
I will never forget you Dad. I love and miss you.
See you on the other side.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Winter Blues

I thought I suffered from the Winter Blues.

But actually, the Blues in winter make me quite happy and rejuvinated.

It's infact, the Grays in the winter that bring me down. (gray sky, fog, mist, rain...)

So cheers to the Winter BLUEs...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When I was a Kid

I am going through some early childhood photos.

Except for stepping on an occasional rusted nail and the threat of trench mouth, life seemed safer back when I was kid.

Even though we rode bikes without helmets and Dad drove the car while drinking Hamm's and none of us ever wore seatbelts.

Our parents thought nothing of us playing outside until dark. We'd leave the house in the morning to play and our parents only worried if we didn't come home in time for dinner.

When you're a kid, you knew how to have fun. I could easily sit in a sandbox with Tonka toys or gallop around the backyard using the plastic tops off of my mother's Aqua Net Hair Spray for horse hoofs. Hoppity Hop, Hula Hoops and Pogo Sticks kept me entertained for hours during the day and Mister Bubbles kept me in the tub long after my fingers got shriveled and wrinkled.

My huge dream was to have my own typewriter and type as fast as Ted Bessell's character, Donald, who played Ann Marie's boyfriend on the TV Show, "That Girl". So one year for Christmas I got my wish. But it only had a plastic type-wheel. I would spin the dial around to locate the letter I wanted and then press down on a single key to type. And, no, I didn't learn to type that year. Or even the year after that. But I kept the dream.

I didn't get a weekly allowance. So I would sometimes knock on doors and sing and play my ukulele to any neighbor that would listen. The night my parents discovered my early entrepreneurial skills, they were in the kitchen counting and recounting their money to make sure they had enough to take us to see The Out-Of-Towners at the local Drive-In Theater. Being kids, we would always wear our pajamas to the drive-in and when I pulled my pants down over my shoes to undress, the coins jangled out of my pockets from my musical afternoon. My parents were not happy when I told them about my clever money-making ways.

I didn't see "The Out-Of-Towners" that night. They dropped me off, instead, at old Mrs. Wilson's house. Her house smelled of mothballs. She had a dish full of hard candy that was stuck together and covered in cobwebs. I grabbed one, anyway, and the entire plate lifted up with it. The next day I returned the money to my neighbors. I hung up my music career and took down my baby doll from the shelf and tied her around my waist with a belt and rode her around on my stingray bike.

Every child knows oreos taste best if you separate the cookie from the filling before eating them and sandwiches taste better when its cut in half diagonally. And no matter how long you bake your brownies under that Easy-Bake Oven light bulb, they will still stay gooey in the center. And licking the frost from the tether ball pole isn't a very good idea.

There were somber moments of childhood. The day you learned your best friend in class was moving out of town. Discovering your green rabbit's foot you carried around in your pocket was an actual foot of a dead rabbit. Ice cream falling off its cone and not having enough money to buy another one. Holding a funeral for a dead snail. Losing a tooth and discovering the Tooth Fairy forgot about it and it was still under your pillow when you woke up the following morning.

I remember skating on my adjustable rollerskates which fastened to the soles of my shoes with hard metal wheels. And yet, no matter how tight I fastened the leather strap around my ankle, it would still get loose and send me into a head dive down the sidewalk scraping and grinding tiny pebbles and sand into my arms and legs. I wouldn't cry until I ran all the way home to show my mom. She would kiss it and pour Mercurochrome on it and I'd scream even louder. I never broke a bone, but who didn't envy the kids who broke their arms and wore a cast filled with tattoos and autographs.

I used to pretend I had a sprained arm by wrapping it up in an ace bandage and then safety-pinning my brother's diaper together as a sling to rest it in. Sometimes I'd even wear it to school and show it off in Show & Tell. A few years later, while scouring the back of an Archies comic book, I found I could order a FAKE cast! And so I did! I waited for the mailman every day for an entire summer to deliver that cast. By the time it arrived, I was sitting at a table, too busy to notice. I was typing on a used typewriter my mom gave me .... my fingers flying across the keys.

I realized I grew up a little bit that summer. Outgrowing the fake cast and growing into a really fast typist. I really did learn to type as fast as I dreamed I could.

Donald and Ann Marie would have been so pleased.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Live a life that matters

Ready or not, someday it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises. No minutes. No hours. No days.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifce that enriched, empowered or encouraged others to emulate your example.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many people will feel a lasting loss when you're gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.
Living a life that matters doesn't happen by accident. It's not a matter of circumstances but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owed or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed important will fade away.
It won't matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived, at the end.
It won't matter whether you were beautiful and brilliant. Even your gender and skin color will be irrelevant.
So what will matter?
How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built.
Not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what we learned, but what you taught.

--author: unknown. (Received as a power-point presentation over the internet)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Free the Gingerbread Man

When I was a kid, I thought it was just horrible for anyone to eat a gingerbread man cookie. Whenever I would see them sitting on a plate, all dressed in scarves and buttons, I would try to set them free.

"Run away Gingerbread Man! Be free!!" I would whisper quietly. "You'll be eaten alive if you don't".

I'd leave the room because, just like dolls and toys, they only come alive when one is asleep or not aware of their presence. When I would return to the plate of cookies, sometimes hours later -- sure enough, there would be less cookies on the plate than before.

I couldn't have been more happy!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Cream of Broccoli Soup

A conversation that took place between two friends looking at a recipe for Cream of Broccoli Soup.

B: "Nooo, don't use that one! It's my grandmother's church cookbook. They're all really o-0-O-L-D and they might've forgotten and left something out."
J: (After quickly viewing it) "It looks okay. I think it's fine." (more silence as she continues reading the recipe). "Oh you're riiiight! They ARE senile! The recipe calls for half and half, but it doesn't say half of what and whaaat!"

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

How does one climb a ladder?

If anyone has wondered my whereabouts, I've spent the past ten days painting.

In Dallas.

I LOVE painting. I'm no expert at it, but I'm quite neat---for the most part. It's rewarding to see the transformation in the rooms.

The ceilings reach up to the second floor throughout the house. I don't think I've ever been more scared to climb a ladder before. I would dip my brush in the can of paint and climb all the way up the ladder and paint. But after a few strokes, I would need to climb back down to dip my brush back into the paint and climb back up.

Up and down. Up and down. Up and down.

Each time I would step up the rungs, my knees would hit the next rung above it. So I would have to climb the ladder sideways so my knees would extend over to the side of the ladder.

There must be an easier way. But the ladder didn't come with instructions.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

The Broken Necklace

I just got back from clothes shopping.

Can pants getting any longer? I am of a fairly average height of 5'5 so why is the length so long, they fold at the bottom of my feet and stick out under the dressing room door! I heard a woman's voice say, "excuse me" as she stepped over them.

Quietly, inside another dressing room, I could hear two teenage girls talking a few feet away.
"Oh, m'gawwd, like that tee is rilly, rilly cuuuute. And it's just plain white, so no one will know you got it here, ya know?"
"Totally. Do you like these pants? Does it make my butt look small? Oh m'gaawwd, what is THAAAT on my face? Is that a pimple!?"
"I don't see it. Oh, yes, I do. Ewwww... get it awaaay from meee!"
"Why didn't you tell me? Oh m'gawwd, it's covering half my face!"
"Ewww, I think it just popped up. I would have seen THAT!"
"Let's get out of here. I could JUST die".
"Are you getting those pants? I totally love them".
"I love them, too. Not totally."
"If you don't love them totally, then don't get them".
"I WOULD totally love them, but I just don't like this pucker".
"What pucker?"
"This pucker."
"Ohhh m'gawwwd, now i see it! Maybe you can find another pair that doesn't have it!"
"Why didn't I see that pucker on you when you tried these on?"
"Like, I'm a little smaller than you..."
"I hate you."
"i hate you more."
"Did I just make that zit larger on my face?"
"Ewwww. Let's go. My mom's going to pick us up in less than five minutes!"

Just then, I pulled a sweater over my head. I had forgotten I had a small beaded necklace on. And, as I pulled, the necklace went with it. Out of the silence came loud pinging of the smalll colorful balls bouncing to the ground and spraying out everywhere like a clogged faucet!

"Oh m'gawwd! What is that sound?" One of the teenage girls shrieked.
"Is that the ceiling crumbling?"
"NoOoOoo, look! LoOoOok! Someone broke their necklace."
"Oh m'gawwd, how saaad is THAT!"

They gathered them up and waited for me to open the dressing room door to hand them to me. But I couldn't. The sweater was still stuck around my necklace.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Halloween Horrors

I am going to a Halloween Party tonight. Nothing like waiting for the last minute to find a costume to wear. I will leave in a couple of hours to shop, running in and out of stores, crazy-eyed by the time this afternoon is through. Why do I always wait until the end?

I wait to do my Christmas shopping at the last minute as well. I really do hope this year will be different.

I have been a Costco member for years now. I pay my yearly fee in anticipation of finding really good bargains, but I rarely ever enter the store.

I feel very special when I first enter the warehouse. I flash my Costco card at the folks by the door and they nod me in as though I'm in a very special elite club. The first thing I see are the plasma TVs and I stop and stare with the others... before walking on. I feel hopeful and excited and happy I am there.

And then. I turn the corner and remember why I don't come in very often. The crowds! They can be a frightening lot. Especially before the holidays.

It was 2003. In a crazy moment of last minute Christmas shopping, I stopped in there to buy a few things. It was my last time there.

I was nearly done with my shopping when I tried to lean in to pick up a THE SIMS HOUSE PARTY computer game off the table for my niece. But doing so, caused someone to accidently drop their free sample of cider on my shirt. They offered me their sticky napkin covered in cinnamon swirl cake crumbs to absorb the juice, but the crumbs started to stain my shirt. I leaned in again while a child decides to hop for joy and clips me in my chin which felt as painful as a decapitation. In fact, a clear decapitation would have been less painful. There were so many people packed in, I pushed my somewhat full cart three aisles over and parked it. Returning back to the table was a feat in itself. After a few elbow digs in the rib, and someone stepping on my shoe, causing me to step out of it and then the horror of dropping down to the floor to reclaim my shoe was about as much drama I needed that day. I asked someone close to the table to grab me the game. And once I had it in my hands, I went looking for my shopping cart. It was gone. I think I saw a crazy-eyed lady with four kids clutching on her purple coat with fur around her neck, pushing it. I didn't have the heart to tell her it was mine.

So I carried that game to the end of the store to pay for it. It didn't take long to get there, as the lines were halfway down the store. I counted I was the 14th person in line. Everyone had carts overflowing in super-sized cereal boxes, detergents, tents, kayaks, exercise equipments, computers and clothes. I looked down at my small game and looked back at the long lines and then back down at my game. I lost to the lines. I looked around quickly to see if anyone was looking and then left The Sims House Party game behind me on top of a large plastic jar of red licorice.

Today I will visit the Dollar Store, Big Lots!, The Goodwill and the temporary Halloween Shop. Each store I will visit will undoubtedly look like a small cyclone has hit it. The stores will be crowded. Nothing will be on the shelves. I will most likely show up late to the party trying to get ready. I will apologize for whoever I am and have the best excuse in the book. While they spent weeks preparing for their costume, I only had a couple of hours. I will have a reason why my costume looks the way it does.

Being an artist, people expect more out of me. They expect me to have the best costume. To have the best gift-wrapped package. To have the dinner table set in a dramatic way. It's an expectation I don't want to meet. So I guess I'll continue with lame excuses why I had to wait for the last minute to get anything done. Not that I ever have to come up with one. I procrastinate well enough on my own.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


I wish I had a magical remote. So I could click on any wish I had and it would come true in an instant.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It might surprise you to know.....

1. Whenever I lie, my teeth chatter.
2. I've never been to a real circus.
3. I always liked Rhoda more than Mary.
4. I google-search everyone I know.
5. I've never eaten at Applebees.
6. Every time I see 7:23 on my clock radio I think of my birthday.
7. I recognize symptoms of dyslexia in me.
8. I grew up in a house with ghosts!
9. When I was a kid I loved Show & Tell and participated in it everyday.
10. I become extremely bashful in a public restroom when someone is waiting to get my stall.
11. I'm unable to hold a grudge.
12. I always feel out-of-place clothes shopping.
13. I can't dive into a pool without feeling the water first. I have to torture myself by going in slowly.
14. I don't like to camp.
15. I often cry "happy tears" when good things happen to people.
16. When we were teenagers, my friend would fly me around in her parent's private airplane by ourselves. (For good luck, my mom would give me her St Christopher's medal and a rabbit's foot). To this day, my mom cannot believe she let me do that!
17. I still can't tell the difference between Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino.
18. Even though I am extremely happy to have my parents, I used to daydream of living in an orphanage run by The Singing Nuns.
19. I do not like the smell of hospitals or visiting people in them.
20. There are always two sides to every story and I usually can see the point of view on both sides.
21. I love to drive. Especially winding roads at dark.
22. I have always loved Olivia deHavilland and wanted to be as kind and as sweet as her character, Melanie was in Gone With the Wind.
23. I do not like the rain or gray, colorless skies.
24. When I was a kid, everytime we played we had to include Quick Sand.
25. I was nearly murdered once. I don't fear that. But I DO fear my mother dying. Daily.
26. Sports on the radio is just white noise to me.
27. I never tire of a celebrity siting.
28. I feel great anxiety when someone starts his story off with "You are going to laugh so hard when I tell you this".
29. I think I would have made a fabulous detective. I have a really good ear for the small details in stories people share.
30. Often times when I walk inside my house, I greet it by saying, "Hello House!"
31. I once drove with a friend from San Francisco to Tyler, Texas for a day and a half's visit and then drove back home-- in the middle of August without air conditioning!
32. I don't think I've ever been bored, except when someone tells me too many jokes at one sitting.
33. When we were children, my friend and I would occasionally dress up and sing Let Me Entertain You to the patrons at a local restaurant without asking permission from the manager.
34. The most horrible movie I ever watched was Oprah's: The Beloved.
35. I am not afraid to take risks.
36. I love twisting a Q-tip in my ear.
37. I once sold children records door to door in Nebraska, Idaho, Oregon, Iowa, Washington, Colorado, Texas, California, Ohio and Virginia.
38. I love a pot-roast dinner with carrots and potatoes.
39. I never have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. UNLESS... I'm at someone's house I feel uncomfortable in, and then without a doubt, I will need to go.
40. They say "it's better to give than to receive" but I actually think I sometimes enjoy receiving more.
41. I love going out for breakfast.
42. I am late more often than early, but I really prefer arriving exactly on time.
43. I still feel very sad that John F Kennedy Jr has died.
44. I love a warm day at the beach.
45. I watched the movie GONE WITH THE WIND seven times by the time I was seven. I don't think I've seen it since.
46. I always feel self-conscious walking in a cross walk while cars wait for me.
47. I can never keep my hands clapping on beat with the rest of the audience.
48. I've always been a bridesmaid -- never a bride.
49. I have an extremely active imagination.
50. I don't remember the last time I was sick.
51. An unexpected doorbell ringing at my house causes me huge anxiety and I usually hide and don't answer it.
52. The longest drive I've ever driven alone was from San Francisco to Seattle which took me 12 and a half hours in my brand new 1987 red Hyundai listening to Air Supply, Phil Collins, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.
53. I stop and greet every cat I see in the neighborhood when I walk.
54. I love going to Open Houses for sale and see how they decorate.
55. I only seem to need to fart when it's quiet and I'm in an uncomfortable situation.
56. Many times when the waiter talks of the specials of the night, I have a hard time listening to what he's saying, but nod my head as though it sounds delicious!
57. When I was a kid going to bed at night, our family would say "goodnight" to each other just like the Waltons.
58. I've been in every state except for Maine and Alaska.
59. I always get nervous driving in front of a cop.
60. I used to have bad acne as a teenager.
61. I was in full time ministry for nearly three years in my late teens/early twenties.
62. I have only watched Seinfeld in reruns and maybe only two episodes of Friends.
63. When I was a kid I wanted to look and sing like Olivia Newton John.
64. I wear shorts more than any other type of pants.
65. My ears are so flat, I can't carry a pencil behind them.
66. The only thing holding me back is fear.
67. Honesty and vulnerability in others is very endearing to me.
68. I don't own a library card.
69. I've been wearing the same fragrance (Clinique's Aromatics Elixir) since I was 19.
70. I love warm, tropical nights.
71. I tend to scan the prices first on the menu and then select a meal based on the price I want to spend.
72. I once got lost off-trail at a ski resort for hours and hours with a friend after dark. We had so much fun, but we swore never to admit that to any of our friends worried and waiting for us at the lodge.
73. I don't really like chatting on the phone.
74. I wake up naturally around 10 am if I don't have anywhere to go.
75. I tend to add a "y" to people's names when I talk to them.
76. Nothing irritates me more than someone lying to me.
77. I tend to want to rearrange a room every couple of years for a change.
78. Sometimes while driving, I'll secretly pretend I'm in a race and try to pass a car by a certain landmark as the finish line.
79. I once chipped my best friend's tooth with a shot-put while playing catch during Track&Field.
80. The only cats I have ever had were the ones that have adopted me.
81. Whenever I end my prayers, I say, "God bless everyone I love, hate, don't like and like." I've finished it that way ever since I can remember.
82. If I cry, I'm exhausted the rest of the day.
83. I seldom have the TV on during daylight hours. It just seems wrong.
84. Sometimes I will talk in a different voice, like a cartoon or a child or with a goofy accent.
85. I love picnics in the wine country.
86. I believe things always work out in the end.
87. I really don't want to discuss politics or religion.
88. I always wore hand-me-downs as a kid.
89. I often times get my words mixed up and say things I don't mean.
90. I'm really good at playing Charades.
91. I have sung too many times in the mirror with an air guitar and a hair brush.
92. Sometimes during a rainy, winter day, I will pay for one movie and then sneak off and see other one after the first movie is over.
93. I never tire of driving over the Golden Gate Bridge.
94. I go to a concert, not to hear the songs, but to see the singer.
95. I got a D in art in high school.
96. I didn't think I would, but I loved going on the Hollywood/Beverly Hills Movie Stars Home Tour a few years ago.
97. Everytime I am pumping gas, I wonder if the gas meter is accurate.
98. I love staying in hotels. First thing I do is turn the TV on and check out the bathroom and window view.
99. When I was a kid, I used to cry every night before my birthday because I would never be a certain age ever again.
100. I have never thrown coins into the Salvation Army pot during the holidays while they're ringing their bells. But I will this year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Stuck In a Snowglobe

That's how I've been feeling lately. Misplaced in the season. Stuck in a snowglobe.

It seems our weather has turned on a dime. Sometimes it looks warmer than it is, and I trot off on a walk and there's a small chill in the air. I'm still not accustomed to putting on a sweater or a coat or a sweatshirt. I just venture off wearing clothes appropriate for the tropics!

But I am enjoying this time of year and eventually I'll get the hang of what to wear as I venture outside....

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


I feel almost silly.

I am still experiencing an unusual feeling of jubilation. The feeling I'm about to embark on some magical, wonderful adventure. Perhaps a new job. Or simply a new experience. I feel extra alert... double checking whether or not my shoe laces are tied so I'm ready to run. I want to be ready when the bells sounds, to jump out of my starting block. Not to linger and wonder if this is the race. To just believe that it is. And to run to be the winner.

Last night I dreamed I got a new job. I was hired to brush barbecue sauce on corpses so they have more color to them in the casket for viewing. Matt was kind to let me practice on him first.

Later in the night, I dreamed I worked at a hospital. There were lots of little children with eye diseases without a cure, so I designed a small pocket inside their eye to put their disease.. for later years when the cure is known, the doctors can open up the little pockets where the disease is and repair it.

And just before I woke up this morning, I dreamed I was playing an old 45-record and just above the spinning record, I could see prisms of color. The various notes sent different colors splashing about. I somehow was able to save several seconds worth of music and dancing color and bottled it up to sell.

My mind is constantly in motion. The RPMs are spinning along at a nice pace. Always thinking. Creating. Wondering.

It's a nice state to be in.

Sunday, October 9, 2005


Losing a sock is sad. But sadder still, is a lost sock monkey.

Saturday, October 8, 2005

Opportunity is Knocking

I've been hearing it for a couple of days now. It's a distant sound in my future. But getting closer. It hasn't come into view quite yet. I have no idea what it is. But I can sense its beckoning. I feel anxious and optimistic. Just a gut feeling that something wonderful is around the corner for me. An opportunity I have yet to be introduced to, but feel in my heart I will recognize it when it happens. I believe I need to move forward in order to find it. I need to meet it halfway. I believe that. I really do. And I will let you know when that happens to me.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

A Friend-Filled Weekend

I spent a few days with some dear close friends this past extended weekend in music-filled San Francisco. They are brilliant, and kind, and creative and entertain me with their unique personalities.

Buddy. Your voice. Your music. Your guitar playing. Breathless.
Thank you for taking time out of your outrageously busy weekend of music festivals and concerts to spend time with me. Your soft heart is beautiful. Please give Julie a hug and tell her I love her and miss her terribly. I wish her endless, painless days and nights.

Rexie. Thank you for your endless kindness and the lifelong friendship we share. Let's get together soon for a light-hearted picnic in the wine country under the warm afternoon sun. You are going to be just fine.

Jon. You are a great friend. Thank you for cooking such a delicious breakfast. Driving with the top down through the hills of San Francisco. Taking different side streets made it seem I saw this beautiful city for the first time. Being with you is easy and effortless; kind and familiar... thank you.

Kamela. An hour spent with you seems like just a minute in time. Your talents still amaze me. You inspire me. Thank you for your giving spirit and leaving me always feeling happy that I, too, am an artist. Please don't forget to slow down and rest when you can.

It's a great thing to have these lasting life-long friends. I don't see you nearly as often as I wish. We once spent time together nearly everyday. Way back when we were human life-preservers for each other ... keeping our chins up; staying afloat. What an adventure it was back then. Splashing through the chilly waves... focusing on survival.

We've all done good. And, stronger because of the storm.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Illustration Friday--Float

The air is getting cooler. The evening skies arrive much sooner than I want them to. How I long to be back on a warm calm beach. Feel the warmth of sand underneath my toes. Float along the ocean shore. Looking up occasionally, feeling surprised how far the current is taking me, but it doesn't matter. Floating is what matters. And, when I get off the air mattress... I still feel the sensation of floating... even late into the evening.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Pursuing the Dream

I have always been a dreamer.

Back in my late 20s, I would write my own list of dreams and goals at the end of each year as my New Years Resolutions. It was never about quitting anything. It was all about new beginnings. It was all about starting new things and conquering them.

After writing out the list, I would fold the sheets of paper into an envelope to read the following year in anticipation to see how far I had gone. It would be my confirmation that miracles DO happen.

But. I don't recall ever opening the envelope. I think I was too focused in writing my list and never caring about the outcome.

This past summer when I was going through so many personal old papers and such, I came across my old wish lists and I was so taken back by what I had found! ALL of my wishes had come true. Really! All of them!

Not necessarily that year. But over time. Over the years they did come true.

But the sad thing about all this, is that I didn't notice all those dreams had come true for me. I was already off on another new adventure. By the time my dreams arrived... I had already turned the path. I already moved on to another dream.

This afternoon, I sat in my backyard.

It's nearly October. The leaves are already beginning to turn. Time for me to turn over some new leaves as well. I pulled out a small notebook. I started to write down my wishes, goals, ambitions and dreams whenever they came to mind. It was my TO DO List. By writing it down, it will give me a more complete picture of the progress.

I really believe in the power of dreams and creating the life we want to live. I believe that's what's going to happen when I start writing down my goals and wishes. My subconscious will work overtime to make sure I get what I want.

I hope you consider writing out your TO DO List, too. If so, let me know. We can share our accomplishments together.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Sometimes when I can't sleep, I wonder about things, such as the little animals that waited two by two in line for hours and hours for Noah to choose their fate on his ark.

Did any of them pretend to be someone other than they were to better their chances in being able to escape the flood?

Monday, September 19, 2005

I Bought a Pair of Brand New Running Shoes

Working from home has gotten to me lately.

I've been feeling certain low levels of boredom and depression. Getting out to grocery shop has not been an easy task for me lately.

I sit at the computer day in and day out and sometimes never leave my house. So it's no surprise that I've been seriously daydreaming of getting out and exercising to increase my energy level. It is imperative to my discipline and work load. If I ever want to be a success, I need to first be successful within my own self.

I've been on the treadmill 8-10 times this past year, always being ever so gentle with myself, stopping as soon as I start to breathe heavy or feel boredom coming on. And, if that's not embarrassing enough, in that little time and so little miles, the treadmill's running belt split open the bottoms of my shoes. Kelly said I needed to buy a pair of *real* running shoes.

And so I did.

When I was a child I loved to run and would run everywhere. I did it effortlessly. In junior high and high school, I loved Track & Field. I adored the explosion of coming out of the starting block into a brief burst of an all-out-effort to the finish line just seconds later.

The long distance running was never my thing, though. I hated running laps around the school field for exercise. It wasn't so much that it was painful. It was just boring. Yet, lately I've been thinking I should take up running. It feels essential to my self-discipline in being a successful self-employed artist.

I sit too much and have overdosed myself in more than enough alone-time. So I decided it's best to run and to get my heart flowing again.

So yesterday morning over a large breakfast, Kelly and Matt invited me to go on an easy run with them. It was a good opportunity to wear my new running shoes. I laced up my dreams and headed out to join them.

Kelly is an ultra runner. In the past year, she has run in the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in California, The Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run in Utah and the Cascade Crest in Washington. Matt easily runs 35 miles... and is training for a 50 Mile Run in November.

I've never run more than a mile at once in my life.

We started just outside Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, located high in the Mayacamas mountain range separating the Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Thankfully, we didn't run up against any deer, gray foxes, bobcats or coyote that live among the oak trees and grassy hillside. My eyes were mostly kept down, watching the tops of my new shoes getting dustier while darting over rocks, fallen branches, tree roots, horse manure and mud.

There were so many moments I wanted to quit. Especially when I got the painful side ache. And when my feet felt so heavy, it took every strength I had to lift them just high enough so as not to drag them along the dirt. Maybe it was the time, I felt my heart beating in my face and pulsating in my eyes. Or when I started to dry heave and thought I was going to throw up my breakfast.

But I didn't quit. I walked when I no longer could run. But I never stopped, and I mostly ran the three miles up hill and three miles back down. My heart and sweat beating out of my pores.

It was the first time I ever pushed myself beyond my comfort limits.

It ended up being a great day yesterday. I allowed to feel my heart really beat hard and fast against my chest for the first time. To feel the sweat on my back seep into my shorts. It was a time when I realized that I am more than I thought I could be and it was inside me all along just waiting for an opportunity like yesterday for me to see it.

Thank you Kelly and Matt for inviting me to run yesterday. Because you both are so great, you pushed me to be great in my own right. I needed that moment. To see what I'm made of.

To grab hold of this new experience and ride it like there’s no tomorrow.

Because we only know too well, there may not be. Life is short and I want to live my life as fully as I can. And I think it did begin again. It was yesterday.

Friday, September 16, 2005

A Summer of Bug Bites

So ... a few weeks ago I'm with my best-ever childhood friend and two of her daughters.

We talked of old childhood stories. One was which we were galloping through the yard on our invisible horses when I got stung by a bee and nearly died at seven-years-old. I was rushed to the hospital and survived within minutes.

For twelve years, I received 8 to 16 allergy shots a week. I hated it. I nearly memorized every single issue of Highlights for Children while sitting in the waiting room waiting for a reaction, which nearly always occurred, which added even more shots to my forever sore forearms and hips.

I took Terry and her adorable daughters by my mom's house because she hasn't visited it since we were kids.

As we wandered through the secret garden and pet cemetary we came under attack by yellow jackets. Terry got stung first. Then one of her daughters got stung three times. It was like a sniper decided to take aim and start shooting.

I have been stung four or five times since I became allergic. And, always within seconds, my tongue and throat start to swell closed so I have difficulty swallowing and breathing and I feel I'm losing consciousness as my blood pressure dramatically drops. I go into a severe anaphylactic reaction that can be fatal.

I quickly walked to my car and grabbed my epi-pen from my purse just incase I was stung and that's when I started to feel the bee buzzing inside my shirt. I carefully and slowly stretched the neck of my shirt open so it could fly out and, instead, it got caught in my hair and stung me on my neck near my left ear.

I tried not to panic. My heart raced so fast. The epi-pen is an auto-injector that administers epinephrine into my blood stream. I think it's a form of an adrenaline that can reverse the allergic reaction, at least temporarily, to provide the life-saving time needed for me to get further treatment in a medical facility.

God only knows how much of my own adrenaline was running through my veins when I got stung. Perhaps it was enough.

Before thrusting the syringe into my thigh.. I waited for the feeling of doom and death to come toward me.

I waited and I waited.

My allergic reaction never came.

I want to celebrate that. Celebrate my life.

I have been self-employed for one year now, too. Another miracle. It really is. Another reason for celebration. I am happy tonight. At peace. I believe in angels.

I count my blessings. I am aware of them everyday.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Johnny who?

A little girl declaring her love for actor Johnny Depp just moments before her older sister laughs at her mistake and erases it.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Lost at Sea ... or just in the Fog

Here i am again. I feel the spray on my face.

Seemingly floating out at sea ... bobbing this way and that ... licking my finger and testing the wind. I'm drifting somewhere with no clear direction. I've lost my compass to my dream ... I can't remember my destination. I'm just drifting along through the mud flats. And I'm dragging again.

I recently had a business dinner with this wonderful man the other night. He is a super hero to me. He's young and has this dream of creating unique cookies. He lives in Berkeley. And on some mornings, he leaves at 3 am and drives across the Bay to Ukiah --which is a hundred miles up north on highway 101. He goes there to bake some sort of special cookies at a downtown bakery, and then afterwards, he drives even further south to San Francisco for his day job.

He doesn't seem to tire out because he sees his dream clearly in sight.

I'm so in awe of him.

I need to put my glasses on. I just looked out ahead of me and it all looks out of focus. Where has my dream gone? The fog has rolled in. I hold my compass in hand and need to follow it even when I don't see where I'm going.

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

She Wore the Same Coat

I LOVED my new Christmas coat. It felt as though the Christmas coat loved me as much I loved it. It wasn't a hand-me-down. It didn't have holes in the linings that would swallow up the dimes and cherry flavored caugh drops in my pocket.

I was 8-years-old and I beamed with pride owning this beautiful wonderful coat, rattling the candy and change in my pocket for everyone to hear.

I went to catechism in a large Cathedral Church in town. When I walked into class glowing like the many candles in the hallway and on the altar, I noticed Janet–– the beautiful, but loudmouth girl-- wearing the same coat.

I was so bashful back then, and I didn't want to take the shine away from her new coat, so I draped my lovely new coat on the doorknob outside every time before walking into the classroom.

My sweet lovely coat.

I still get a lump in my throat when I remember.

Monday, September 5, 2005

It's Just Five Minutes In My Life

I swing the kitchen door open from inside the garage and the doorknob breaks off in my hand. Several pieces bounce to the ground and under my car. Once inside, I hear my cell phone ringing, but its in the bedroom. The tune gets louder and louder and louder and seemingly faster and faster and causes me to panic thinking it's an important phone call. So without taking the time to turn on any of the lights, I rush through the dark living room, down the hall and into the blackness of the bedroom ... kicking over a clean litter box, flipping it in the air upside down. The phone has now stopped ringing.

I probably missed a very important phone call. Or worse, it's a wrong number.

I flip the light switch on and scoop up as much litter as I can to refill the litter box. Afterwards I walk into the bathroom to wash my hands and as I turn the bathroom sink knob, it decides to mimic my kitchen doorknob and it screws off in my hand. I easily screw it back in place while Mollie is meowing at me to eat. I dry my hands off and though I am just inches away, I don't want to take the time to lean over and hang the towel on the rack, so I TOSS it and miss and it drops in the toilet. I grab the dripping towel and run with it through the dark rooms over to the washing machine to drop it in.

With the lights now turned on, I feed the cat and then pull out the vacuum cleaner. Just as I'm about to plug it in, I can hear sweet little Mollie barfing up her entire dinner on my living room rug.

I haven't had a bad day. Just a really lousy five-minutes.

Saturday, September 3, 2005

The Devastation

I have been squinting into the television screen for several days now. The same familiar faces of those on the street keep being played over and over again. I'm beginning to feel as though I know them. The young woman with her lethargic baby in her hands... the other woman desperately shouting "Old people are dying! Those in wheelchairs are dying!...." The man holding up his three-week-old baby shouting, "How's he gonna survive without food and water?!"

These images being played over and over again... I can barely watch anymore, yet do not want to distance myself from it either. It is devastating. It brings me to tears over and over again.

And I worry. All that standing water, the sewage, the decaying bodies, dehydration ... will there be long term kidney damage from all this? Obviously the emotional pain is just horrific.

Two nights ago, after staring at the putrid condition at the Superdome and into the hopeless faces at the Convention Center, I walked into the local Red Cross to become a volunteer. I attended a near four-hour class that would normally take a couple of weeks to complete.

I desperately wanted to help. To go out there in the midst of devastation and help in whatever capacity I could.

Last night I received a late phone call asking me to report to the Red Cross this morning at 11 to immediately receive my tetanus and diptheria vaccine and hepatitis B vaccine. I would also get my assignment of what airport I am to fly into. I could be leaving in one to four days and the minimum stay has lengthened from nine days to several weeks. We were warned we might be sleeping outside and be subjected to extremely uncomfortable situations.

While laying in bed last night I took an honest look into my own gut to find my inner strengths and limitations.

Our ability to handle life's difficulties is shaped by our very own unique life experiences. The amount of weight you bear on your shoulders is perhaps different than the weight I bare on my shoulders. Our personal triumphs and traumas we experience in our lives determine whatever that weight is we can safely bare.

Being aware of the responsibilities and commitments I've made at home and measuring how much weight I can put into my own heart and shoulders right now, I decided it would be best for me not to go on assignment. I certainly appreciate my caring friends and family who have called or written and helped me in my decison making.

I will help in other ways I can.

My heart and prayers go out to all of the people who have lost their homes, their families and their friends in this painful place of tragedy and devastation.

Monday, August 29, 2005


When I was little, I was filled with imagination and couldn't shake this feeling that something wonderful was about to happen to me. That feeling has sustained me through my life and into adulthood. Even on some really dark days, I can feel in some small, inner bright place, that something really great and wonderful is in my future. On days when I feel invisable and want to sit it out on the sidelines, I need to keep moving forward, putting one step in front of the other, because I know those feelings of quitting are only fleeting.

Some days I feel as though bubble gum gets stuck to the bottom of my shoe and I can't move as quickly or as freely as I wish toward that dream. Other times, it feels as though my shoes have wings mounted to them and I can't keep up with myself.

I wonder how empty and bottomless a life must feel when someone lives it without a dream. Or, worse, has lost their dream altogether.

You'll know when you have a dream, because it has a way of capturing your imagination until it is all-consuming. It'll grab hold of you by the soul and you'll feel like soaring. It's what you want to do when you should be doing something else. The best part about your dream, is that it can also become your life's work. And, if you dream it, and its original, remember this: no one will ever be able to do what you do, better than you.

Because it's your dream. And, you're original.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


In high school, I thought Debbie had the most beautiful smile. She had very long teeth that eclipsed her lower lip. Everyone called her Piranha. At the time, i didn't know that piranhas were ferocious fish with teeth who will eat their victims alive within minutes!

I thought her pretty nickname meant "princess" in spanish.

I used to copy her buck teeth smile, by curling and pushing my lower lip under and behind my front teeth. My teeth are not long, and in fact, somewhat little teeth, so I had to force it.

Whenever I flashed my new dazzling smile, I imagined me as beautiful as Debbie.

One day after feeling especially beautiful smiling my new piranha smile, I quickly flashed it in the mirror to see if my reflection matched what I saw in the mirror.


Several days ago, I overhead the most contagious laugh while grocery shopping. I wondered how she got such an adorable giggle. Was it one she was born with or did she practice it at a giggling school. When I got into my car, driving home alone with just my groceries, I tried to replicate it to see how it felt and sounded. It was disasterous. I thought of my forced smile many years ago and this time laughed quietly to myself.

I'm perfect just the way I am. The lesson was learned a long time ago.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Letting Go

I am in the process of going through old letters, photographs, drawings, books, old birthday cards from my teens and early 20s. My mom cleaned out her storage shed and dropped these boxes off in my garage while I wasn't there to protest.

Each time I open up a box, I am bombarded with sentlmental memories. I really did have letters in the hundreds to get rid of. That's such a lost art now. I still receive hundreds of letters, but now they are in the form of email, that seems more painless to trash, than the ones written in pen with a stamp on the envelope and little sayings on the envelope that say "Hurry Mr Postman and send-- 'cause I'm sending this letter to my very best friend!"

This "letting go" has been an experience comparable to throwing up. It's so miserable while it's happening, yet the relief that follows almost passes for joy. I feel more lighter. More free. I have always admired those who have the sense to know what is important to keep and what is not. They are not bogged down by the weight of (seemingly) unimportant matters.

So far, I've emptied eight boxes. The recyling bin was filled to the brim. But when the garbage men emptied it, a box trapped half of my treasures of being thrown away, so they are still in there. Of course, I worry it's a sign for me to look through them again. Perhaps I've been given a second chance to look through my treasures. My mom says, "If you haven't seen these in this many years, you're not going to miss it".

It's hard for me to let go.

Later today, I will tackle a few more boxes. I will continue to have a separate pile where I'm not ready to trash and will repack them in boxes to go through again at a later date. I found a birthday card from Nana who died in 1981. The corner of it was eaten by a rat and it smells like an old attic. She signed the card, "love, Nana". I'd have to be completely heartless to part with such a treasure.

I still have a long, long way to go. But now I'm committed to keeping only the essentials, only those very few things that I absolutely can't live without. Like my green 4-H hat from when I was 10. A box full of old Tigerbeat magazines where Tony Defranco, Donny Osmond and David Cassidy graced the covers. A few untitled audio cassettes that might be worth listening to again. A Get Well card where an entire unknown 4th grade class signed their names, a huge box full of my childhood artwork, a Willie McCovey autograph and old newspapers with history making headlines such as ELVIS PRESSLEY DEAD on the cover.

My garage is never going to look like one of those perfect, organized garages seen in Home & Garden magazine. But for now, the clean folded clothes that were on top of my dryer in the garage have been taken inside.

I have Happy Meal toys I collected in the 90s in several see-through plastic containers along with a few ebay purchases that I have no clue as to why I bought, except the knowing that "the chase and not the purchase was most important".

There is the scrapbook I made when I was in the 4th grade, complete with a piece of skin I taped with masking tape onto the page titled: "My skin from my finger that got ripped out from the car ashtray". And a half-chewed photo of me in my brown and cream uniform, standing in the backyard, holding onto a kitchen spachela, just before my parents drove me to my first job, a hopeful rewarding career at McDonalds that only lasted eight hours.

But, that's not clutter - that's the good life.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Interstate-5 theme is WISDOM

Wisdom is something I have sought after and have embraced for many years. So with that said, I feel small in that I am only focusing on my drive on I-5.

I am home now after a few days in Grants Pass, Oregon where temperatures soared into the triple digits. I loved the warm evenings up there.

But, the drive on I-5 was a feat in itself with so many 18-wheelers owning the road. They would just fill up my rear-view mirror behind me. It took a bit of wisdom to know when to pass and when to hold back along those curves.

It felt like each time I passed them, they were pulling me into their lane.


I went on this: along the Rogue River. It was so much fun! Sometimes I felt we were spinning out of control. Though we always landed upright and safe. Lately, my life has been feeling a bit of that. Keeping busy for busy's sake, but not getting much accomplished by the end of the day.

This too takes wisdom to discipline my time. Spending my minutes doing that which is most important.

I have been commissioned to design a logo. I will put my head down and work hard today. It is just drizzly, foggy skies overhead. I miss the sun and it's warmth. Winter is coming only too soon for me.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Waving Goodbye

Waving goodbye to over-night guests can be an empty feeling -- especially when the people I'm waving to, don't see me wave. (Which thankfully doesn't happen very often!).

I start off waving and smiling while they're getting situated in their car ... adjusting the mirror, turning on the heater, handing a map to someone in the back seat and answering their cell phone. My right arm gets tired from waving so quickly, so I switch to my left. Then back to my right. For a moment, I want to stop, but then worry if I do stop, that will be the moment they looked up and would have never known I was waving to them. So I must continue to wave. Wave with both hands. Jump up and down. Smile as animated as I can. Wave until they are out of site. Hope they saw me in their rear-view mirror still waving. (And feel a bit self-conscious, wondering if any of the neighbors were watching all this from their front windows).

And, as empty of a feeling that is. My house feels even more empty when they have left.

There's this roar of quietness that seems to permeate everything ... and is deafening to my ears ... and to my soul. I wander around in a fog. I see the empty breakfast dishes still on the table and I leave it there. I'm not ready to clean up. I want the memory to hang on just a bit more. I touch the seat of one of the chairs and it is still warm from their presence. I am lost for awhile. Just roam from room to room waiting for the fog to lift ... and it always does.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005


llustration Friday's Topic: Aging

I didn't have anything to draw, and then this morning I glanced out my window.

His car pulled up to the front of my curb. He moved slowly forward about five inches. Brakes abruptly. Backs up about two inches. Another hard brake and his car dips. He slowly moves forward another inch. Then back another inch. Then forward three more inches.

He pulls himself out of his car and the slowness of it all, makes me stop and watch. He walks s-l-o-w-l-y toward his trunk. At first, I thought he stopped and was was just looking down the street. But gradually, I could see he was making some sort of headway. He moved as if he was gliding on wheels. Just small, gentle tiny steps. One foot in front of the other. Just ever so slowly.

He gets to the trunk and opens it. He bends into it and I can only see his waist as he reaches in for something in the far back. Slowly, he pulls it out.

It's one of those dashboard sun protectors. He unfolds it and then turns to walk the same slow walk back to the front of his car. He glides into the front seat and with all the time in the world, he places the sun protector on his dashboard and moves it this way and that way, up and back an inch or two, until he has it placed exactly how he wants it.

He sits for a moment and then climbs back out. I watch him turn toward the back of his trunk and s-l-o-w-l-y meanders back to his trunk. When he gets there, he reaches in and pulls out a cap.

He places it on his head. Moves it around a bit. Takes it back off. Then back on. He moves it left and right until it has the perfect fit. Shuts the trunk and slowly wanders over to the passenger side. Puts his key in and locks the door. Then walks back to his drivers side and does the same.

I am still wondering why he is parked in front of my house. Is he coming to visit me? I am not sure I am in the mood for this man's visit.

I am relieved to watch him walk nextdoor to my neighbor's house.

They are not at home.

Three minutes later, I see the old man slowly walking back to his car. I can't bare to watch him slowly repeat the same process all over again. I peek with just one eye hidden behind my hands.

He has driven off.

Aging. The slowing down process. He has more than enough time to go where he is going.

I whispered: "be safe". I have this feeling ... he is.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Being Tormented by the "C" Word


At first I thought they were mosquito bites down by my ankles. Then these red, hard welts began to surface and as my agony grew, so did the red hard welts. I lost count on my legs... my arms had quite a few, including my arm pits and other places where it's not polite to scratch, and, as far north as near my eyebrows and top of my head.

I looked them up under google and they are a frightening lot. They are so small, I am relieved I can't see them penetrating my skin and sucking my skin tissue as though sucking through a straw. They say there is no creature alive that can cause more torment for its size than the chigger.

Brenda says she has never seen so many chigger bites on a person before, reminding me she has lived in Texas all of her life.

The other night, I met friends at a fun restaurant called Joe T. Garcia's in Forth Worth. It's this old house with a swimming pool in the backyard and we were seated at a table next to the pool. I took the seat next to the shrubs so I could get a better view of the pool while we sat and ate. I believe that was where the chiggers started their attack.

It is the third day. And they say the itching can continue up to 10 days and longer.

Excuse me... while I excuse myself, to go scratch . . . .

Monday, July 25, 2005

A New Beginning

I LOVE summer vacations. I think everyone should experience some sort of 'get-away' during the summer.

I am in New Symrna Beach, Florida looking out over the Atlantic Ocean this very minute. I see so many walkers on the beach with their arms pumping up and down, they look more like marionettes than human beings. I have been here five days. Later this afternoon, I drive into Orlando to celebrate a friend's birthday and then fly to Dallas in the morning where I will visit more friends for another five days or so.

This is a wonderful break for me. I am not allowing myself to worry what I will do when I return back home.

A couple of days before I left, the start-up company I was working on with two friends ended for me. It really caught me off-guard. It happened so suddenly. Just three weekends ago, we talked of putting me on salary and stock options. And then the business plan suddenly turned on its heals and now going in a different direction. A direction far from my illustrations I was hired to do. They said, "we're going to put you on pause for a year." On pause.

Instead, I am fast-forwarding ahead with my life.

I do not feel afraid. I feel safe. Despite these sudden changes, I still believe I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be in my life right now. That's all I know. I don't know what that means. I can't imagine what my future holds for me. I turned a year older two days ago.

It's a good time for a new beginning.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Karma Fed me Burgers

Topic: Karma for

I have always believe in Karma. I haven't always seen it's fruition, but I suppose it's a lot like faith. You sustain from things in the hope that you won't suffer from it later on in life.

I have known people in business who are just contaminated in lies and deceit. Their only purpose is to destroy the little guys so they could get ahead. I keep waiting and watching for Karma to come for them, but so far, all I can see is more lives destroyed and they continue on bulldozing everyone in their path reaching to new heights of success. Perhaps they are suffering in other ways I do not see.

A few years ago, I ordered a kid's meal at a fast food restaurant. When I got to the window to receive my order, the teenager handed me bags and bags of burgers, fries and onion rings and drink containers filled with soft drinks, juices and shakes. I kept handing them over to the passenger in my car, who sat in stunned silence, taking the bags and setting them all on her lap and at her feet on the floor.

As we drove off, (admittedly, I lurched forward with excess speed, as though I was the get-away car in a local robbery). She asked my why I took all that food knowing it wasn't mine.

I shouted, "KARMA!!!"

I truly believed Karma paid me a visit. I said, "It was for all the times I drove off and never received my fries or coke I ordered!!! It's PAY BACK TIME Baby! PAY BACK!!"

We drove in silence some more while she rummaged through all the bags... like looking for the small token in a cracker jack box.

She came up empty-handed and spoke up. "Ya know, maybe if you alerted the kid you didn't order all this awful food, your good karma would have continued on and your reward would have been greater. It seems to me, that you just cashed in.. and all you got were these lousy burgers."

"you just cashed in. YOU JUST CASHED IN. you just cashed in". I heard her words over and over in my head. All my life, I sought out to be a good person and this is my reward to show for it.

We drove in silence for an even longer time.

Lesson learned.

I believe I live a very blessed life and good things happen to me on a daily basis. By taking all that food didn't necessarily set me up for any badness to come my way. But I know that fairness and honesty is always the best choice to make in every situation.

I think I felt Karma in the backseat patting me on the back...

Saturday, July 9, 2005

Staying the Night at Nana's

( theme: metropolitan

I remember sleeping over at my grandmother's home in San Francisco with my brother and sister.

I LOVED my grandmother. After dinner, we'd play blackjack betting with nickels and pennies. And, just before bedtime, she would fix us a nightcap of warm milk sprinkled with nutmeg while she made her own adult nightcap.

We'd lay out our sleeping bags on her living room floor and I would place my bag underneath the window and look out to the evening sky and often times the wind would whip the telephone wires so loudly, it would scare me half to death.

My older sister was always the first one to wake up in the morning. And if I woke up before she did, I would lay still and pretend I was asleep until she got up.

We drank our first cups of coffee at Nana's before I reached the third grade. She didn't seem bothered she was stunting our growth. It was delicious drinking it with spoonfuls of sugar and half milk.

I will always remember laying there in my green sleeping bag with the deer pattern inside, looking out the window, while Nana dug in her black purse for a couple of dollars to buy donuts for our breakfast. She would give it to Kelly and I could hear the front door shut and her little shoes slapping down the stairs and out into what I thought was the Big Scary City. I knew if I woke up first, she would ask me to walk down the hill to the bakery, but I was too afraid to do it alone.

I'd lay there on the floor, looking out the window ... praying for her safe return with the donuts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

My Own Feeling of Paralysis

My childhood friend's father is dying of cancer. His cancer has now paralyzed him from the waist down. My sister, a nurse, said she went to visit him yesterday and his eyes looked set in like little bird eyes.

Like ... little bird eyes.

I can't seem to get that description out of my head. She said, "He's scared, Shawn. He doesn't think he has two months to live and he doesn't want to be bitter about it, as he had a good life. You should go see him. He asked all about you... "

I was so touched by that. I DO want to go see him.

He was a barber all his life. Annette was an only child. And every Monday while in elementary school, on his day off, he would bring her a hot hamburger, steaming fries and a coke from a local hamburger place. I was so envious! A typical lunch for me, would have been a bologna sandwich, an orange, cookies and some chips or grapes. We rarely ever had the luxury of eating at a fast food restaurant.

I'd wait with her in front of our school and she would always share her fries with me. Her dad always drove up in his green dodge truck. She now owns that truck. It must have a million miles on it by now. She learned to drive in that truck.. long before she was old enough to get her license. I was a year and a half older, so when I got my drivers license at 16, and her parents went out to dinner, we'd sneak off in that truck to a new neighborhood being built where just the streets were paved and I taught her to drive.

Over the years, we grew up and apart... (I have seen her only a handful of times since high school) ... but I will always treasure the memories we made in our growing up years.

That truck took us everywhere with it's camper shell on top. She and I would lay on top of the bed above the truck's cab and tell stories and listen to her transistor radio playing "Hotel California" and "Cats in the Cradle" on her transistor radio.

That truck took us to South Lake Tahoe, where we slept in that cold camper in the Harvey's Casino parking lot in the snow. I was 12 years old. I remember laying there under blankets with my jacket on for added warmth and her mother said, "we better blow out the kerosine lamp before we get affixiated." It was the first time I heard the word "affixiated". The way it sounded to my ears and the way it felt in my mouth when I said it was just so much fun. I repeated it inside my head the rest of the weekend so I would memorize that word so I could use it sometime. And, I HAVE used it. And, it still makes me smile. Just like when I say "dilapidated". Dilapidated. Dilapidated. -- The way my tongue moves all over my mouth. And the sound of it is just so cute. I must stop. The enjoyment is enormous.

The following morning, I learned to snow ski at Heavenly Valley .... snow-plowing down the hills. Her parents took the tram up to the top of the hill and met us to take pictures. They slipped all over the snow in their tennis shoes. I felt embarrassed and worried everyone would think they were *my* parents. But I loved them. And they would have made nice parents. I still feel a tinge of pain when I remember my embarrassment toward them.

That truck took us to Disneyland for my first time just before the 8th grade. We stayed at the Jolly Rogers Motel in Room 212. I would also vacation with them up north in a seaside town called Anchor Bay.

I watched The Wizard of Oz in color on their TV for the first time. And, when Annette grew out of her Adidas tennis shoes with the blue stripes... she gave them to me, and I wore them proudly.

I will never forget one night, spending the night at her house, and we laid in her big, double bed and watched, endlessly, the Prisoners of War unboarding the airplanes from the end of the Vietnam War. She wore braces and had the neck gear. I remember seeing all these teeny, tiny rubber bands on her pillow.

We'd stare up at the screen searching for their names as they scrolled down while hundreds -- thousands of soldiers limped and walked down the steps in their fresh crewcuts. In case we forgot, we'd stare back down at our oversized, metal POW bracelets dangling on our wrists, hoping their names would appear, ... but ... they never did.

I DO want to visit her dad. I miss his laugh. The way he would throw his head back and grab his stomach to feel it wiggle as he laughed hard and long. I want to thank him for introducing me to so many wonderful adventures.

It hurts that I'm afraid to drive to the hospital. Park my car. Walk into the lobby, take the elevator up a certain floor. Walk down the hall and then turn into his room and say, "remember me? You took me to Disneyland when I was 12-years-old".

I feel immobilized.

I need to get past my own feeling of paralysis. Once I do, I will be happy I did. I feel small and belittled in admitting, it takes a lot of guts for me to drive down to that hospital to visit him. I hope I will be able to tell you that I did visit him. He introduced me to a lot of "first time experiences" as a young child. I would like to extend it to him in visiting him.

Oh, I pray that I can.

Friday, July 1, 2005

The Rings

Today is my first Friday to ever participate in Illustration Friday.

The topic is SPORT.

I drew this, because it's how I'm feeling right now. I have been working from home for 10 months now. The warm days and evenings are inviting me outside to come and play. But I need to sit at the computer and work. Today, I am feeling out of touch with everyone and eveything that brings me joy.

When I was a child, I was never able to swing from Ring to Ring at school. Just weak arms, I suppose. I would leap from the steal bar and grab them and swing to catch the next ring and then the next.. and then I would just hang there, holding on to two rings before I had to let it go.

Today I want to be a good sport. To focus on the goal and not let the rings get in my way.

See the illustration? It's not me letting go. It's me jumping up to reach them and trying again.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Me, Too

"I used to live in Seattle."

"Me, too!" I said excitedly. "Where in Seattle did you live!?"

There was an uncomfortable silence.

"I lived in Tacoma," she finally managed to say in such a quiet, embarrassed voice, I could barely hear her.

A small understanding smile spread over my face as I quietly replied, "Me, too."

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Cats Talk

I am convinced cats talk.

They must.

My special calico cat-pal has not been around for a day, because in her place, her little friend, a cute gray-stripped kitty has been lurking about. Yesterday morning, i caught a glimpse of one eye and one ear hiding behind my back fence. It was in the same spot where the calico cat would sit and watch me through my window. At first, I thought it was the calico cat.

I opened up my backdoor and this playful gray young cat leaped down off the fence and ran toward me, butting his head against my hand, my door, my railing. I watered my plants and she jumped two feet into the air, and then attacked my hose. A very cheerful, imaginative, playful cat. Not fearful at all.

A couple of years ago, I pulled into a parking lot. There was a cat laying on the sidewalk in front of me as I parked. The cat looked through the windshield and directly into my eyes. It was such a beautiful moment for me.

It was in that moment, I recognized that cats have a soul. I always believed it, but in that moment, I KNEW.

The cat knew the difference between me and the car. It connected with me in that wonderful moment by looking directly into my eyes. It didn't look at my car's bumper. It didn't look at my chin. The cat looked directly into my eyes. The cat knew I was the only living being in front of him. Not the car, but me inside the car.

That's when I knew. It really made me giddy with excitement.

I will never forget it.

I hope the cats hang around whenever they want to. I am grateful for my new friends.