Friday, December 5, 2008

A few of my Favorite Things

With all the changes going on this year, there’s one thing that remains constant in my life - my need/desire to take off weight. In L.A., I ascribed my weight gain to each stressful reality tv production I was on. (Often productions stash high-calorie junk food in their kitchens and when working 60, 70 hour weeks, it's too easy to indulge in these snacks for energy/comfort) First I had to take off my Three Wishes weight, which I put on after taking off 15 pounds of my Outback Jack weight. The final 10 pounds will be my Bachelor weight. But now I have to contend with my Sonoma 5. Ah, the artisan bread and cheese up here. Despite being surrounded by wineries, most of my “tastings” occur at the cheese counter in Whole Foods. But oh is it delicious!

So despite my need/desire to decrease poundage, I set off to Starbucks to reward sending off a submission with a holiday treat – the Eggnog Latte. I indulge in these high calorie things only a few times a year. So I ordered mine with soy milk. The cashier asked me if I knew that it wasn’t nonfat. Is this new Starbucks policy to warn people of their high calorie, high-costing lattes? Well anyway, the Barrista piped up that the soy milk was far less fattening. I’m not so much concerned with the fat as the high sugar syrups they add to these froo-froo drinks. But then again, every one in awhile….

At Trader Joe’s, I forewent my usual getting of Shade Grown coffee for the Winter Blend. It tastes just like the Eggnog latte, and yes, without the sugar, high fat, and expense. Take that Starbucks! Of course, I could have just taken the spices of the Winter Blend and added them to my Shade Grown coffee…. Next time… This blend, so far, has cut down the sugar cravings… If you don’t have TJs to go to, the spices are cinnamon, cloves, and peppercorns. Delicious!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

They've Been Outed

The turmoil over the passing of Prop 8 continues. People are rightly pissed and channeling their anger in important protests. Now the proponents of Prop 8 are on the defensive. It’s been interesting to watch. I’ve seen/read several quotes in the media from people who voted for 8 say they didn’t mean to hurt anyone. So they’re now understanding that their actions to deny a portion of the California population rights to marry could be painful?

To me the greater lesson in this is empathy. I’m not a gay person but I can certainly understand how it would FEEL to be denied certain rights. I don’t have to walk in their shoes in order to understand that concept. But others do. The blacklist of donators to Prop 8 is teaching an important lesson. Now they know how it feels to be signaled out and be treated (in their view) unfairly.

The good of Prop 8 passing is that we see the bigotry that exists in the minds of those who voted for it. Now all we have to do is change that perception. Yeah, I know – is that all? Once people truly acknowledge their prejudice we can move forward. Once they stop pretending/lying that the issue is that gays/lesbians want to change the meaning of marriage and admit that the real issue is that they don't accept/agree/condone love between same sexes, we can have a real discussion about it.

The main instigators for Yes on Prop 8 seem to have come from the churches. I’ve always thought Christianity would be a better religion if they viewed Christ as a political activist. I’m not a Christian. Maybe some sects do. But what I've heard being preached is that Christ died for people's sins. Didn't he die for his beliefs and for bucking the establishment? Wouldn’t he be doing that today? Wouldn’t he be at the front lines protesting against injustice? Wouldn’t he vote against Prop 8. Wouldn’t he stand for love?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Say it isn't so

There’s been a sad blow to Civil Liberties here in California. Proposition 8 which redefines legal marriage in California as being between a man and a woman narrowly passed. The margin is so slim that it won’t be officially ruled upon until Dec. There’s still hope because it’s out of the hands of the religious right who’ve been driving this campaign and imposing their views onto others.

The No on 8 Campaign made the issue about Civil Rights. No question, we are denying same-sex couples fundamental rights. But what about the separation of Church and State? Where is it? Where does this definition come from that marriage is between a man and a woman? Who’s defining it? If the answer is, The Bible, we have a problem because we are allowing the religious doctrine of one group to define the rights of another. To my mind, it’s not just morally wrong, it goes against the founding principals of our country.

In California, marriage is a civil union. That’s why a judge can officiate. Seems simple but proponents of Prop 8 seem to forget that. It wasn’t that long ago that when a woman married a man, she was his legal property. She didn’t have rights of her own. She couldn’t own her own property. When her husband died, she was in dire straights. We've come a long way in redefining the rights of women in marriage. She can now legally inherit the property of her husband, no question. Not true for the future of same-sex couples if Prop 8 does pass. But marriage isn't about just property rights. The modern view is that we marry for love. In Jane Austen times, marrying for love seemed hypocrisy. Now we call women who marry for money gold-diggers. In today’s mind, marrying for love seems the rightful thing to do. But according to Prop 8 proponents, marriage, and love, can only be between a man and a woman. Interesting, since the ancient Greeks, founders of Democracy, put love between males above all else. (I am excluding the point that women weren’t treated that well in ancient Greek times, but they didn’t fair well under early Christianity either… so… Democracy, and equal rule for all, does takes awhile…. )

If people want religion to play a part in their marriage, fine. Get married in a church, synagogue whatever. That's their business. But marriage is a legal contract overall, entitling participants to certain rights and it's unjust to entitled those rights to only a "chosen" few. And if marriage is truly about an expression of love, no one has the right to determine what's in the hearts of people willing to devote their life to one person of their chosing. Love is love and no one religious doctrine has the right to define what that is for anyone, let alone a whole state.

You know what I love? Our fundamental rights - and the power of the people to keep someone's church out of it!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can

Last night, like many others, I spent the later part of the evening in tears seeing Barack Obama become President. Such joy, such jubilation and a struggle of so many over decades to finally see an African-American in the White House. We truly have transcended.

Again, like many, after watching Barack’s energizing speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, I wondered, “why isn’t he running!” News commentators talked about the rising star in the Democratic Party. When others pleaded with him to run in 2006, we watched his humbled reaction saying he wouldn’t. But then he did, because so many people wanted him too. I had a crisis of conscience. I really did want Hillary to win the nomination. I admired the skill of Barack as an inspiring orator, but I trusted her experience. I knew her and what she stood for. And when she conceded to Barack, I couldn’t accept the answer that “at least she showed that it could be done…” It wasn’t enough for me.

I struggled with switching my vote to Barack. The debates changed that. Calm, cool, collected, he didn’t fall for the traps set out by Republican machine. And they set many, from Ayers to Marxism. He didn’t falter. He knew who he was and what he stood for and trusted that we could see beyond the fear and hate-mongering of the Right. To me, that’s the greatest showing of maturity. I was ready to elect him as president.

His greatest gift to us as Americans is belief. Belief in ourselves that we can create change. As he said last night, the victory doesn’t just belong to him but to all of us. What I found most significant in his speech, reminiscent of Kennedy, is that he emphasized that the work didn’t stop with him but required that to make the change we want, we all have to participate. It is true that it’s not what the country can do for you but what you can do for the country. And we’ve seen our country taken over by the Right for the last 8 years because many of people who could vote didn’t. But yesterday they finally did, in record numbers. On The View today, Sheri Shepard, the African-American comedian, said she voted for the first time. She’s my age – 40 – and she’s never participated until now. And there are many like her, finally participating, taking action. We can discuss at length why African-Americans have become disaffected voters and the historical reasons that so many thought there could never be a black president. But the only way to change old beliefs is to replace them with new ones. He’s a true testament to: It’s not what people say that matters, it’s what you believe that counts. This is why I feel that Barack’s phrase last night, Yes We Can, resonated at not just a high inspirational level but at a high Universal level. It’s the highest truth that our beliefs create reality and by saying yes we can - we speak in the affirmative that we can have what we want. And to truly get what we want, we have to act on our beliefs.

In Barack’s speech last night he said that there’s a lot of work to be done and he needs us to do it. It won’t be easy and there’s an uphill battle. Is he laying the groundwork so that if he can’t fulfill his promises, we won’t be disappointed? I don’t think so. I think he’s harkening back to the earlier days of our Democracy when it was bestowed on all of us that we can lead ourselves. It’s up to us to look at our own lives and take action in it. He can give us a roadmap but if it’s not the one we want, he’s willing to listen. He isn’t a messiah – someone to take us to the Promised Land. That isn’t the role of this president. He’s a guide – someone who acts on the behalf of others’ wishes. It’s up to us to ask for what we want and our job is to discover what that is.

Friday, September 26, 2008


One of my guilty pleasure returned to TV this week. Why guilty? Because I shouldn’t be sitting around watching TV,. Reality TV, no less. I left that behind to do my own writing and I should be writing. Or reading… or doing something, say, more productive. This is part of my negative talk – the why aren’t you finishing your book proposal or the 9 million other things you promised yourself you would do annihilation talk that somehow doesn’t make me more productive. I have cable TV now, thanks to my landlords, but for some reason we don’t get NBC so I have to watch the show online, sadly with a slow cable connection. But even with the stops and starts I’m riveted. By what? The Biggest Loser. I think I’ve watched every season but one. I laugh. I cry. And I get as furious as the trainers do when they have to yell at the contestants to move their fanny. Oh my god, I say, how can they be that lazy! How did they get that fat?! But I know that I’m not really talking to the contestants. I’m really talking to myself because it is part of the negative talk that I say to myself; and for the love of reality TV, I’m trying to stop.

I’ve always struggled with my weight. Had it not been for a fat camp intervention when I was 12, who knows, I could have ended up being a contestant on the show. As it is, I’m 25 pounds ish past the highest weight I can be for my height. Not big enough to be on the show but feeling enormous is a question of perspective. I’m in the feeling enormous stage. When the show comes on, I feel invigorated to exercise. When the contestants sweat in gym, I do leg lifts. I resolve to get up early in the morning and walk. Then I sleep in.

I’ve done many the deprivation diet. And I’ve lost tons of weight. And I know how to eat right. I know about nutrition and diet. At the core of me, I am a health nut but I can’t be trusted around a chocolate chip cookie. In art class, in high school, I actually painted a picture of chocolate chip cookies with an x over it. But I love them. I would sneak them, as a kid, and savor the sweetness in my mouth. They made me happy, delighted, in brief moments – in those moments I didn’t hate myself for being a chubby kid.

I have many avenues of discipline in my life. I don’t spend a lot on clothes or movies or silly things I don’t need. But I don’t have it with food. If I buy that delicious goat cheese Gouda from Trader Joe’s, I cannot stop at one slice. I run back to the kitchen several times – almost giddy because I’m allowing myself to do it. I’m allowing myself to be decadent. This thought stopped me this week. Allowing myself to be decadent. Is food really the only place where I allow myself to be decadent? In all my not allowing myself fun, spontaneous things, has food only been my only outlet? No wonder I delight in cheese.

I have had this thought before that the only place I’ve allowed abundance to show in my life is through food. I have no problems spending money on food. But abundance in food is clearly not what I need. Ask my waistband! What I need to find are more avenues to express the abundance of life and all its goodness.

So with that knowledge this week, I allowed another decadent behavior. I read a book for most of the morning. It cut into my writing time. I allowed myself to do it. It felt decadent and I enjoyed it. And I did it without a chocolate chip cookie. Next step is viewing exercise, not as a punishment, but as a reward. Last night, walking in the neighborhood, I reveled in the painted sky. It’s a step. (Ok, I couldn’t resist the pun).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Spaced out in L.A.

When I think about what I struggled with living in Los Angeles, the predominant item on the list was space. Space to walk, breathe, live; And just finding the space to BE. It’s a place where people want to be noticed. It’s a place where people can walk all over you. People rumble down the street in giant yellow Hummers so desperate are they to be seen and stand out. You can get runover many ways there; with other’s “bigger” ideas or just louder voices. Everyone vies for space. Everyone wants to matter. For some reason, just being doesn’t matter. You have to prove you’re SOMEBODY. If you’re SOMEBODY, people will stop for you and let you pass in front of them. There’s that SOMEBODY! That SOMEBODY counts somehow more than you do. You want to be that SOMEBODY someday. Maybe that SOMEBODY can help you. You have to do something for that SOMEBODY first. I found coping with this thinking hard, going against my grain. All beings matter or else every one of us wouldn’t be here, living on this planet now. But those are the rules of Los Angeles as they are, especially in Entertainment. Not everyone’s an asshole but we all worry about getting stepped on along our career path as someone tries to jump ahead of us.

A few weeks ago, at the local market in lovely shore-town of Mendocino in Northern California, I apologized to a customer as I interjected a question to the cashier. She was ahead of me in line. This didn’t ruffle her. Instead, looking at the fewer items I had, she insisted I go ahead of her. I declined. “No, no, please,” she said. I told her she was very kind, a phrase I said over and over during my trip there. People were constantly putting my needs first, an experience I haven’t felt in a long time. I didn’t have to fight for it. I didn’t have to do a quid pro quo; I mattered just for being a human being. That isn’t to say I didn’t come across this behavior in L.A. I did. Just not on a consistent basis.

I used to wonder why I was so tired living in Los Angeles. Was it the pollution, the noise, and working crazy hours? Yes, but mostly it was struggling to be in area where I tested my values daily. I acted kindly towards people I thought were pushy and aggressive. One day, I reflected back exactly the behaviors I saw – sad, drawn, aggravated mouths with a bitchy demeanor. I got back exactly what I put out. Not pleasant. But I saw how much effort I put out to remain positive and sane. It’s a lot of work and it’s an effort I’m not going to miss now that I live elsewhere.

In all encounters we have a choice to either think of others or only ourselves… And given the frame of mine we’re in, we do have to act accordingly to our needs. When we live in a people-clogged environment, set on forwarding our career goals, in an area where it’s all about me, you can only adapt or constantly serve others. That’s what I learned in Los Angeles. Now that I'm living in a freer open space, it's easier to let someone ahead. It doesn't matter because we all matter. There's enough space to go around.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sonoma Sunrise

Here I am now living in Sonoma, CA. Two weeks ago, I was still in smog-clogged Los Angeles. And now I’m in a place where you can actually see the stars at night. I’ll take that over the Hollywood stars where Hollywood only looks good at night, basked in a glow that overtakes the dirt and ding that can’t hide in the daylight. I promised, perhaps only to myself, that I would stop dissing L.A. It has its place and its people and it’s full of everything you could want - good and bad. But what I wanted more than anything was open space and I have it. Lots and lots of fields full of vineyards. And a speck of the mess of people that L.A. has. So far, it’s a good, good life.

I knew a girl from Vegas who said she didn’t know when she first came to California where people go to the movies without a casino. Everything in Vegas is through the casinos and if you want to go to the movies, bowling, etc., you go to a casino. It’s a little bit like that here with the wineries. Festivals, parties, etc. seem to be at the wineries or about them. I’m not complaining. I’d much rather have Zinfandel than slot machines. This weekend, in town, the local theater, the Sebastiani Theater, is showing, on the hour, the movie Bottle Shock. Guess what, it’s about the wine business and a lot of the movie was shot in Sonoma with some of the locals. I just missed the last of the summer outdoor movie fest. In L.A., similar screenings take place at the Hollywood Forever cemetery. Classic movies are projected on the side of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.’s mausoleum. Here, it’s at, you guessed it, a winery. I think the bonus is they may provide the wine.

I didn’t think myself much of an L.A. girl but whether I’m a Sonoma girl is yet to be seen (when I figure out what that is). I know that I’m much more of a No. California gal and I'm so glad to be back living up here. I’m started to unwind a bit and have backed off the gas pedal. I admit though I got a little back into my L.A. driving habits yesterday in town when I sped around a car to make sure I’d get through the green arrow. No one honked at me or flipped me off. Driving isn’t a competition here like it is down there. I never really understood that. Who wins when you cut someone off because in two seconds, someone will do that to you… I guess I’m not over dissing L.A… perhaps a few glasses of Chardonnay will help.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

When plastic peeves meet social change

Most of you who know me know how I feel about plastic bags. Like highway patrol cars, the less I see, the better I feel. And I'm incredibly anal-retentive about taking my reusuable bags everywhere. And I mean everywhere - like even department stores. I got a pretty, reusable bag for just this purpose so that the L.A. sales clerk at say, Macys, doesn't eye me too strangely. But bless Al Gore and his global warming hail storm of renewed action that the clerks at say Target and CVS are very friendly now when I bring my own bag. Prior to two years ago, down in the southland, I was still an anomoly. The clerk would take it strangely, like I was some kind of neaderthall who didn't know about the invention of the plastic bag and all its goodness, and reluctantly put in my purchase. Today, I get kudos and "why are aren't others like you." Well, gosh. Was it the many years in the Bay Area? I don't know. I'm just uber-responsible girl and I try not to be lazy. I've actually heard a person say it was too much work to remember to put the bag in his car. Do you know what work is? Hauling the petroleum out of the ground to make the plastic bag and all the environmental ramifications that go with that as well as wondering what to do when it runs out. That's work. But I digress.

But today, I was thrilled to get this environmental action alert on reducing plastic bags in California:

It's urging the California Senate to make reducing plastic bags in California a reality. Ah. It took the gas price hike to up hybrid sales and make ghosts of the SUV. Charging people for plastic bags might be the incentive to make them "work" to bring a bag to the grocery store. Maybe one day there will be an exhibit in the Smithsonian called, the plastic bag - what were they thinking! And little Becky says, "Gosh mommy, why would people be so wasteful like that." I look forward to that day!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Merry Poppies

I’m doing more catch up blogs – this one stretching back to April. We somehow broke our drought in So Cal. over the winter. Perhaps the rain dances worked or at least people’s prayers because we had normal rain levels. And with the rain came the beautiful desert flowers. I took my first rode trip with my new hybrid, Harmony, out east of Los Angeles to the Antelope Valley. I’ve wanted to drive out there for years to see the wild poppies at the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, however, having an older car prevented me from wanting to travel out to the desert. Indigo, my old car, would have made it but it would have worn him down.

So off Harmony and I went going up the steep roads to finally getting to the stretch that takes you into the valley. It didn’t take much to see where the reserve lay because a great wall of glowing orange poppies stood on the horizon. It’s easy to believe that the preserve should be visible from space, the poppies so dazzling, especially against the arid, drab brown of the desert - as if the earth had been storing up all its energy for a dazzling fireworks display (or, in this case, earthworks).

Anticipating the wind, I brought a light sweatshirt and hat, but wow, it’s like being out in the middle of the ocean, wind blowing fast. I carefully parked my car in a less crowded spot to avoid getting a dent in my new car and off I went to the Visitor Center. I went on a Tuesday to avoid weekend crowds however the visitor center was packed, albeit it’s small, and I was amazed to see the crowd of every kind of person drawn like me to the desert to see the poppies.

I started from the left-side of the Visitor Center, gauging my path away from the crowds but where there still seemed to be poppy clusters. I didn’t have my digital camera then, regrettably, so I tried to be selective. Like everything else in nature, there are no two poppies that look alike. And then there are the beautiful, purple lupin lacing their way through the poppy clusters. I blew through my film in the first few hours. I think I loved the anomalies the best – the few yellow and white poppies mixed in with the fluorescent orange. I don’t know how they came to be there – why so many orange poppies and so few of the white and yellow - but I don’t need the why answered. I prefer the mystery. (Like I want to believe that rainbows are magical and mysterious not just refracted light… )

So I continued traipsing down the poppy path and yes I felt like Dorothy, lulled by the wavering poppies along the path. What amazed me most, considering how many tourists were there, was the total respect for the poppy fields. Everyone stuck to the path and didn’t step off, potentially damaging a poppy. And there wasn’t any trash spread anywhere. And there were no Disneyland sweepers to manage the mess. Just the wind. I did see one errant bag off a less traveled trail but who knows from where that came. Seeing the bag made me realize the lack of human trash anywhere else.

After I finished my film roll, I contemplated buying more from the gift shop but I decided not too. I wanted to stop obsessing about the perfect shot and focus on what was in front of me. I wanted to take in the view and remember it on my own. There’s something about sharing your photos with someone else but there’s also pleasure in having something all to yourself. So I forewent getting more photos. This time I began on the right-side of the Visitor Center which dazzled me more. The slopes were steeper but the views lovelier. There were times I thought, dang, I wish I took this photo. The afternoon sun brought out a deeper purple in the lupins. As I kept climbing up and up I thought, really, “I’m going to force myself way up there?” And then I remembered struggling up the Great Wall of China with my friend, Nancy, last January. It struck me, after a few heavy puffs, "I’m climbing up the Great Wall of Poppies!" This spurred me on to get to the summit where the greatest reward was sure to be found – the place where the hawks were circling. Reaching there, I looked down where they do, onto the beautiful valley. “Ah! Beautiful, quiet sanctuary! Now how do I get down, and fast since the park is closing in 40 minutes.” I wound around down to the valley, completely alone thinking, "there are no snakes, there are no snakes, really, there are no snakes." Yes, no snakes in the path - just rows and rows of beautiful poppies and bushes where warbling birds sang to each other. I walked on and on having to step over more poppies since they started taking over the trail. I felt I literally walked in an endless sea of poppies. I wished and not wished for an end in sight because the light began to fade.

Finally, I reached the parking lot and Harmony. Climbing into my car I paused. “Is that a dent in my car?” Yes. Not a large one but alas a dent with dark blue paint that matched the Pathfinder next me. I did my little CSI measurement of judging if their passenger door could dent my car. I determined it did. And then I left a note. The first time I’ve ever done so. Granted, the wind could have pushed out the door faster than the passenger could control. But why should I live with a dent caused by someone else? And by an SUV no less! So I left fuming out of the park, cursing the lack of consideration of some people! I had to get a hold on myself. I just witnessed a great gift of nature.

The Pathfinder people never called but I trust the Universe to right the situation. And I know when it’s time to get my car fixed, the money will be provided. I just have to stop wanting to be mad about it and to just remember the day I saw the Great Wall of Poppies.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Change I want to believe in - just not now

I thought my funk had to my 40th b day. But that rolled by and I was still in a slump. And then it hit me that my deep dark depression wasn’t just attached to becoming eh, um, “close” to middle-age but the deep blow to all women when Hillary Clinton didn’t get the nomination. I shouldn’t exclude. There were plenty of men who believed in her too. Over these last 8 years, I felt disappointment and bitterness when the liberal candidate didn’t win. But I didn’t feel heartbroken. And that’s how I feel now. Heartbroken and dreams shattered. Speaking of dreams, I’ve had a hard time articulating my thoughts. This blog has been on my mind for a few weeks – well, ever since she pulled out. But it wasn’t until I had this dream on last Sunday night that it all came together.

Mind you, Hillary has never appeared in my dreams before – Clooney yes (back in the day) but Hillary no. But there we were sitting in a room – in a small room in some kind of apartment. She wore a conservative but colorful business suit (skirt rather than pants though). And she talked about ordering food for later. But I was hungry then so I ate the rice sitting on the table. Then for some reason, I had to leave – or we had to leave. I don’t remember. The more appetizing food wasn’t being ordered. And I put the waste of what I didn’t finish of the brown rice into the trash.

While we were sitting, Hillary also talked about some kind of massage pad and that we should all schedule a time to use it. We didn’t figure that out either. I began looking for my shoes to put on and leave. But the socks I had on were sweaty and grimy so the massage pad turned into socks and I wanted to put them on instead. . But I couldn’t because the bottom of the socks had plastic tips – the kind that are on my travel soap dish that keep it from slipping off the shower ledge. So I had to settle for walking in my socks that were used and dirty. And that’s how I feel about this whole thing. I was waiting for the delicious food order of Hillary’s presidency but we had to move on and I had to throw the waste away. And instead of getting to use the massage socks (read issues important to women because women understand the needs of taking care of ourselves and others) I got stuck with the dirty laundry. I wanted the good food now. I wanted the socks now. But I’m told to wait. Wait for what? For the rest of the country to wake up and realize that it’s time for a women to lead?

We can say there are many reasons she didn’t win. But what it comes down to is the belief that she couldn’t. Perhaps it’s because she asked us to believe in her whereas Barrack simply told you “change you can believe in”. He told us to believe rater than ask. Maybe that’s one of my turnoffs about him. Was Hillary asking permission as us women are apt to do to let us in? And Barrack stormed in instead? All I know is that after a week Hillary pulled out, I received a fundraising letter from the Obama campaign. I tore it up. I surprised myself because I didn’t think I would react that way. And then I talked to and read about other Hillary supporters who feel exactly the same way.

I have in the past switched one Democratic candidate for another in order to counteract the conservative candidate. But it’s not that easy for me with Hillary because this was the very first time I saw myself represented by a candidate who really could understand my thoughts, visions, and experiences. I understand that Barrack supporters feel the same way. But what I loved about her most is she had a plan – A PLAN. And now I feel like we have to wait another 4 years to get one. Well, I still believe in you Hillary and belief is the first step in things becoming reality!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

They come on bicycles

On Sat. morning at 10:00 am there's a loud knock on my door. Or rather a pang on the pane since my front door is sliding glass. My blinds are drawn across so I don't get stares by the looky loo neighbors. I hate when I get these types of knocks and I have no idea who it is. Is it my OCD neighbor (who wears nothing but bright white t shirts) or my building manager? It could be important. But I resent that people don't call. It's too early for pizza, so it can't be the misdirected Domino pizza delivery person (seriously, can't they hire people who can read the rather bold numbers on the apartment building to know where they are?). I've gotten over the uber-friendly, how can I help you persona when answering my door/sliding glass window. If you have no business being at my apt., don't knock. But then again, it could be important so I open the shade and I see a woman, a small child, and a man with a stroller. There could be other people there but I'm blinded by what the woman is holding in her hand. It's a rolled up Watch Tower.

I should have known. 2 of them rode down the street the day before on bicyles wearing the traditional white button down sleeveless shirts and ties. The Mormons have come oh wait, they are the Jehovah Witnesses. What I'm getting double the evangelical fun in my hood? And here they are at my door. And what good strategy bringing the whole brood? Seeing the bored four year old girl twirl around as I nastily told the woman who knocked that there are no solicitors allowed at the building prevented me from swearing at her. She gave the standard reply that they aren't soliciting. "No thank you!," I said, steamily. Then I spent the next few minutes ruminating over the things I should have said like, if you are spreading literature then you are soliciting - soliciting my time and wasted attention. But then I thought of the children. It's not their fault their parents are schleping them around on this pointless exercise rather than enjoying being children and playing. Yes, good strategy to bring them and elicit my sympathy.

I cannot get over the sheer chutzpah of knocking on people's front doors, invading their privacy, and not respecting their space to spread your agenda. I'm speaking of the tactics of the Jehovah's (or Mormons) of course. I hate the sidewalk preacher too but you can walk away from this person. It's invading the home that affronts me the most. In my most irrational thoughts, I want to track down one of their home addresses and camp out and spread 'My word'. But to what end? They're following their Order's orders. And they think they are acting "rightously." So what about other people's rights to exercise their own religious beliefs? Can they really understand that concept? And then I think, not a new thought, but a new plan. Can I just hold my cool the next time one of them comes a knockin' and say, "Oh good, you're here. Please wait a moment while I get you something." Then I'll pass them something from the Zen center. "Since we're just sharing information, here's something on peace, compassion, and accepting people who they are without converting them." Then slam the door.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I admit to sometimes falling into celebrity gossip – just like high school - well, there wasn’t really anything that interesting in my high school. One girl was considered a slut but she wasn’t particularly popular – just a bottle blonde with a good tan – and rumored to have been a bed mat for several men. She was a cheerleader. I went to an unusual high school. The cheerleaders weren’t popular but were considered dorks and at pep rallies, the custom was to throw pennies at them, which we did – if we even attended them. I remember at one of the few football games I attended that the players from the rival school talked about how hot she was. (This being the cheerleader or the girl with the tarnished reputation, however you look at it) True, for the squad, she was hot, although the prettiest girls weren’t actually on the cheerleading squad. They were too busy playing tennis or volleyball – the cool sports. Did I mention that I went to a high school by the beach? I took this in and thought, of course they’d like her… Then I went on contemplating life and its cruelties – I was one of those brooding high school kids who thought fun, beneath them.

So when I think of celebrity gossip, I consider it as the same stupidity given to caring about what the popular kids did. In the face of global warming, famine, war, who gives a rat ass that Brittany showed her cooch? And how does this become a lead story on an actual newscast? That doesn’t mean that I didn’t search online news about Lindsey Lohan’s car chase with her assistant. After working in entertainment, I know these things happen but I’m always amazed at people’s lack of boundaries in this business. The line between employee/friend/and in some cases, sex buddy is often blurred. Is it because show people are out of touch with reality? Are so insecure that they expect the utmost loyalty around them? That they are given so much praise and exaltation that they somehow think they are invincible?
This exaltation given to actors and actresses is out of balance as to really who and what they are. The question is, why? Why are they described as stars? And why do we relish when their lives are anything but – when the gown seems tarnished – the silver tarnished, the sheen only an allusion of silver plating put on a less desirable metal? At once we see then as different then us only to prove that they are the same when they do fall from the sky we put them in. We revel in it – their hurt feelings, disappointments – they aren’t above us as their wealth and seeming power seem to suggest, And as they are stalked by the paparazzi, our seeing eyes, prying into their domain, we see them. Would we believe them to be real without doing it? Without the pictures catching and capturing the stars? Would they cease to exist? The light put out? What happens when their faces disappear from the magazines or the screens? When out of the spotlight – when things are less shiny, what does happen to them… in those darkest of places? Do they wither with weeping? Or in their only respite are they truly able to be themselves – scared, disfigured by the shadows there – unrecognizable only to themselves – the secret self that no one else knows about. The only place where they are able to be free…. Or is this in everyone? Only we’d rather look at someone else - in a magazine – where in can be tossed out and discarded when it no longer interests us. To quote a tarnished TV show, “Save the cheerleader, save the world.”

Monday, April 7, 2008

Car Story

If love it never having to say you’re sorry then I needn’t have apologized to my beloved car when I saw it being towed off to live in charity heaven, otherwise known as Cars 4 a Cause. As I turned to walk back to the apartment, tears welled up and I knew I just had a minute or two to get back inside before I started to sob - which I did immediately when I walked in the front door. You would have thought a family member had died. Well, in a manner of speaking it did, or at least the clutch to my car. I couldn’t get it in gear so I had to accept it was time – time to let go. I’ve had this car for more than half the years I’ve been alive. It was a love/hate relationship. The air-conditioning hadn’t worked in years nor had the stereo. But for what my car lacked, it made up for itself in the intimate knowledge I had of its inner workings. I knew the sound it made when it needed more oil. It trembled at stops and I knew how to adjust the steering wheel to ease its suffering. For the most part it was a happy car that got me to where I needed to go… Well sort of. I didn’t make many far distance trips in its later years.

The thought of someone else driving my car was too much to bear. And despite its age, I still got offers from people to buy it. But I couldn't handle seeing someone else driving around town in my car. Most likely out of some guilt that I didn’t fix my car to the extent it needed for it to be truly comfortable. But I only fixed it to the extent that it needed to in order for me to drive it because on some level I wanted a new car. Truth is, I didn't really know how to break up with my car so I waited for the next time it broke down.

So now I have a new car, a Honda civic hybrid – the car I’ve been dreaming about for the last 6 years. We’re still at that dating/getting to know you stage. I have to get used to this new fangled technology like power windows (what a concept – now I don't have to manually roll my windows up, I have to figure out another way to exercise my arm muscles) I still miss my old car a bit but knowing the sale of my car will go to support Arts & Music education makes me happy, as does planning trips outside of LA county now that I get 40 plus miles to the gallon!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What I've learned about doubt

When we fall into self doubt

We allow ourselves to be victims

Of others words (faults) and actions

But when we believe in ourselves wholeheartedly

We are able to lead ourselves in the highest forms of self

Without falling into blame

And trying to find cause

Because doubt can be an endless pool of discovery without beginning and end

Getting us nowhere but under

constant reflections

Of what we never were

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Idols no more

I don't idolize anyone
because if you're up on a pedestal
then how can you see
the god in me?

Don't get me wrong,
You are truly wonderful
but not enough to worship
because if I keep doing that
when am I going to see myself
as I truly am?

we are all gods

no more, no less

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Vehicle Sex

I’m listening to a song where a woman is being related to as Africa reminding me that countries, at least in English, are referred to as women. If men were referred to as countries, would we be trying to dominate them? Let me rephrase – would men be trying to conquer them? Why did countries become female? Or if they always were – when did we learn not to respect them? And determined that they had to be dominated and controlled? Nations are not women, nor ships, nor cars for that matter. Vehicles are not she – not in my case, my vehicle is a he, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Maybe calling a ship “she” back in the day was in respect as a mother carries us in her womb – to safety. So has the meaning become corrupted? If cars were truly female, how should they behave? Do they always start up when you need them to or do you have to give them special things to get them going? Are flowers and candy the car oil to get it to go? And if cars are female, shouldn’t just women be working on them? Isn’t going to a male mechanic like going to a male gynecologist? If it’s female parts, only females own the direction manuals. If that’s not the case, then cars must be male. Should we then be feeding them pizza and beer?

Maybe how we see cars is how we see our life partners. There are the men who polish and buff their cars – some even have cars with giant “bras”. Are the women in their lives as high-maintenance as their cars? Perhaps that’s what they like – someone to dote over. I don’t own a high-maintenance car. I don’t want a lot of fuss. I don’t baby it. I give it the maintenance it needs. It’s efficient and practical. It has rust and dents but it works and gets me where I need to go. I don’t need it all the time but when I want it to run, I want it to run. It’s the longest lasting relationship I’ve had. We’ve been going on 20 years.

As for countries - I wonder, if countries have the personification of “she” like vehicles, then are countries, at least in the English language mind, vehicles themselves? Is the constitution the driving manual and the citizens the driver? And what kind of drivers are we? Does the sex of our vehicle matter? If our country is still a she, maybe she’s the mother who birthed us after our founding fathers had their way with her. And if she is, what stage of life is she in. Is J.F.K.’s speech 40 years ago, “it’s not what your country can do for you but what can you do for your country” an indicator of our country’s age? She sounds like she passed middle age back then – that time frame where the kids should be acting like adults and not running to mommy for everything. Is our country post-menopause? (Pun intended) Are we taking care of our mother in her later years after all she’s done for us? Is she wondering why we don’t call more often? Considering voter participation in the past, maybe we aren't calling enough. Has the Senate and the House become the county’s nursing home? If so, maybe we should be looking in on them more often instead of just reading the progress reports.

If we truly considered our countries, ships, and vehicles female, why isn’t she putting up more of a fuss? Guess it depends on the kind of female. However, in this gender neutral world, can’t we choose whatever sex we want? I think Lady Liberty would agree.

Holistic Hair

I’ve been wanting to go back to hennaing my hair and return to my natural ways that I’d abandoned when I moved to L.A. A year and a half ago, I stopped dying my hair with permanent color. These past months, I’ve been living with the gray. Odd to use that expression “living” as if the gray isn’t a natural part of my being as I age. Actually, gray first appeared in my twenties and the dying to hide it began in my late twenties. Over a decade later, as more gray takes over, I’ve been living in fear of it. Age obsessed L.A. hasn’t helped. Even worse, I used to work in Entertainment where the greatest sin is aging. Not working in the entertainment industry any more, I don’t feel that pressure of looking/acting young. I had fun with my tri-colored hair. Then it became a must to do. So I decided to become one with my grays, this is, until I found chestnut color henna at Whole Foods. I can deal with my vanity better when beauty products are more environmentally friendly.

The best part of getting a salon hair color is that someone else does it and cleans up the mess. It’s worth the extra cash as old dye stains on my shower curtain can attest. My hair dresser was open to doing the henna application for me. However, after reading the henna instructions – having to do a strand test to figure out how long to put it on for, using only distilled water that’s boiled, having to use a Pyrex bowl and a non-metal spoon - I decided to do my granola practice in the sanctity of my own home. I couldn’t imagine schelping the henna, bowl, wooden spoon and nutmeg to my salon located near the media district of Burbank. This is a world of fluff and poof, not a holistic hair practice.

So off I went to mix my henna recipe. I followed directions, so I thought. The mixture came out to the color and consistency of wet cat liter. Putting it on didn’t dispel that description. It also doesn’t smell that pretty. (You can add spices to enhance the color (and smell). I chose nutmeg to make the color more chestnut.) The instructions said to part the hair and put it on. Oh, I wish I really paid attention to that instead of starting on top. Unlike the liquid products that soak into your hair, you’re plastering this stuff on so I already created this stiff slop on top without knowing how to get it through the rest of my hair. I learned from a past non-henna dying experience that combing it through your hair is not ideal. I didn't count on the projectile of the dye landing on my white linen shower curtain. So combing was out. The paste seemed too stiff so I decided to add more water. This meant going to the kitchen to get some more distilled, boiled water so I bundled up my hair and went to the kitchen (note to future self, have extra distilled, boiled water in bathroom)… After watering it down, it became a little easier to use. Then I ran out. So I wrapped up my head again and headed out to the kitchen. Originally, I used what the instructions said for shorter hair – 1 – 2 ounces. I didn’t account for my hair’s thickness. So I mixed two more. That was too much. Three ounces is just right. (With this mishap, you’d think I was going for Goldilocks).

Having encased my head with henna, I fully intended to sit under my heat lamp and read a magazine like I would at the hairdressers. But then I got involved in writing this blog and 40 minutes passed. I don’t know the total amount I had the henna on – could be thirty, could be forty minutes. Being a natural product I wasn’t that worried until I saw the red blotches on my neck. Although natural, it is made from a plant. Oops. Well I was ready to was it out anyway. Henna is gritty – possibly compounded by the nutmeg and it takes awhile to wash out – and wash out. Combing it out helped, as did washing it twice. Although it wasn’t perfect gray coverage, it did work. At least my hair matches my eyebrows now. It isn’t such a salt and pepper mish mash but mostly chestnut. And the henna smell will probably fade in a few days…. At least the red patches faded.


After reflecting on the thought that happiness is a choice, this poem appeared in my mind...

Happiness is not an act
you put on.
It's more than a choice to be happy.
It's understanding that it's up to
you to make choices
based on what you want
to create in the life that you want.
We all have the power
to live as we want
and be who we are
without falseness.
But one needs a commitment to oneself.
There's a lot of emphasis on becoming
but in all essence
we are already made.
It's allowing it to come forth
through acceptance and compassion.
Let go and allow
and be free.
You'll be amazed that once you accept who you are
you have no choice but to be happy.
Happiness just is.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Oprah's extra

Yesterday on Oprah, she had on people who made the conscious choice to dumpster dive. This was the first, according to Oprah, that she’s heard of people doing this practice who didn’t need to. One woman used to make “six figures” until she saw that the only reason she kept working to such a degree was to fill her life with things that she didn’t need. And Oprah asked the poignant question, why are the corporations throwing so much away? The woman brought of the legal issues that they just don’t want to get sued. I have heard that argument when groups like Food Not Bombs have tried to get things from "super"markets. True, laws exist and they can get sued but the real question for me is why the overproduction in the first place? Surely they know how much people buy of their product - but that's not the point though, is it? Because some corporations instead of serving a need create a need… And now it's gotten to a point where food companies are selling food with enzymes in it to help us digest our over-produced food. (If we didn't kill the enzymes needed to digest milk products in pasturization, would we need these yogurts with the bacteria added back in?)

So we wonder why there is so much crap at the end. I didn’t study business but if I were to consider it logically, businesses who over produce probably factor what’s wasted in their bottom line – so on one hand, their creating the need for us to consume based on overproducing, however, if they don’t sell all that’s produced, they still profit because they’ve gone above and beyond the natural need.

And they don’t give away the extra. Why should they? If consumers knew they were giving away what they didn’t sell, who would buy? Wouldn’t we all just wait until we got it free? So they throw it away – and by the act of discarding it, it becomes useless. Until another person looks at it another way and sees the value in the trash. So is that how we solve the problem of overproduction – valuing trash? Reusing, not consuming…

And how then the recycled movement would thrive. And how Goodwill and Salvation army would need to expand their parking lots for all their extra customers…. If only.

I saw today that they’ve put up a mall near the birthplace of Walt Whitman. So as a testament to the iconoclast that railed against consumerism and beheld the natural wonder of life, they’ve erected a mall. Perhaps that’s why the Whitmans moved away from it in Walt’s early years – knowing the kind of people who lived there… (If you want a mug depicting his birthplace, you can get it here). Couldn’t they have put up a Goodwill instead?

Monday, February 4, 2008


Now that I work at home, I plan journeys out so I don’t completely lose my sense of the outside world. And now that one of my headlights is broken, they are usually in the middle of the day before the “witching hour” of dusk rolls in. I’m living vampire hours in reverse. Of course, fixing the headlight would remedy this but that’s a day excursion without my car and I haven’t worked my way up to it yet. I will though. In the meantime, I’m off to Trader Joe’s.

Here I am at Joe’s trying to get to the soy milk refrigerator case but it’s blocked by the empty cart belonging to the couple at the coffee grinder. It’s stuck out, not thinking about who it is blocking. Is this really enough justification for me to throttle these two? I can’t go around it because another woman is at the adjacent refrigerator case with the door open blocking the way in. So I stand there waiting without any acknowledgement from the couple grinding away. Finally the other woman finishes and I squeeze in only to see that the kind I want is the last one in the row – and it being on the very top and way back, my 5’3” frame can’t reach it. Stuck again. I normally prefer being self-sufficient but in this case, I need to reach out for assistance. I go to the TJ employee at another refrigerator case where he puts away yogurt. “Excuse me, can you help me?” No acknowledgment. Is my ask too meek that he can’t hear me over the TJ musak? He seems rather slow as he puts the yogurts away and I wonder if he’s actually a “special” employee. Maybe I shouldn’t be bothering him and should ask someone more “mentally capable”. However, I finally get his attention and his only challenge may be his youth. He goes back for the soymilk. It seems a few minutes have passed and I go back to my first conclusion of his mental faculties. "Maybe he didn’t understand me?," I think. Finally he comes out. “You wanted a box right?” “Um,” I stutter. “Just kidding,” says youthful employee. Ah, humor. Perhaps it's a generation gap and I have a different view of work ethic (meaning he's into taking his time) but he is sweet and got me what I needed. So happy now, I leave him to put the rest of the organic, no sugar soymilk out for others to enjoy. (You'd think this version would be the least popular but it's not....)

I continue in my normal clockwise turn around the store but the throng of people curtails this and I dare to go the opposite way, stopping my usual routine of having to get all of my things in the store clockwise. (No I don’t have OCD – there’s a time-efficiency factor to this.) By the time I reach the frozen food section, I’ve already fended off the temptation of the “snacking” isle. However, above the frozen food bins, there are even more temptations (does TJ’s do this on purpose?) I see the lady of the coffee grinder picking up the savory crackers. Ah, my favorite! For some reason I wanted to tell her, “yes, aren’t they wonderful,” but then I thought, “why would she care?” So I didn’t. But she saw me take them right after her and she looked at me with a smile and I smiled back. She was no longer, the lady of the coffee grinder but the lady of the savory crackers. This totally outweighs for me any annoyance I had felt earlier. You'd think my ultimate message here would be, I learned patience in Trader Joe's. It's not. It's more about the awesome bonding power of food, in particular savory crackeres. And thus ends my adventure out for at least that day….