The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.

--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History

Monday, January 7, 2013


Hi. I am in the process of moving this blog over to my new site:

Please come visit me there. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012


After all, in this society, if something isn't for sale, it might as well not exist -- and it's almost impossible to think of anything to do with something of value besides market it.
-Days of War, Nights of Love-

I spent the better part of a week in meetings. Meetings to discuss marketing of a book that I haven't finished yet. Meetings to discuss the possible business options that could be launched from the sucessfull marketing of said unfinished book.

I spoke with some brilliant up-and-coming businesspeople and with some brilliant established businesspeople. All were very excited about what could be if we marketed correctly. All had great advice how to make some serious money off of my ideas.

The problem is that I don't want to write a book that makes serious money (I mean, I'm not opposed to writing a commercially successful book, but that is not the main reason I write). I want to write a book that makes me a serious writer. I want respect from my writing peers. I want my readers to change how they see the world because my writing is that strong. 

Not because I sold a bazillion copies.

I want my name mentioned alongside other great and successful writers because I made something of quality that stands up against other authors of equal quality: "Oh her? She and Neil Gaiman are my favorite authors" or "Did you read that article in the New Yorker about her and Rebeccah Solnit? Aren't they just amazing with how they express sense of place?"

The thing is, just like one businessguy said, I could (with help) manipulate the system and write something that catches attention for a second before quickly falling into the deep well of conscious oblivion.

I could. I know the formula. I now know the people who could push it through.

I just wouldn't be happy. I wouldn't be able to stand behind what I wrote. I would hate my writing because it represented a part of me that I never want to give primacy. That part which is greedy. That part that equates success with money and popularity. That part which thinks fulfillment, joy, and peace can be bought and sold. That part which isn't creative; it is mechanical, rote.

I hate that that part of me even exists. I hate that, no matter how much I protest, the quote I put at the beginning of this post is true for me. I hate that often when I write, I can't think of it as anything but something that is publishable. As if getting published will actually validate anything I do.

I want to re-vision my work. I want a paradigm shift in how I value what I create.

I know from my week of meetings, that society is not about to support such a change in vision.  If I am to see my work differently, I need to see the world differently.

Such a change in perception does not come easily. Nor is it a light matter to value things that the rest of society does not. But if I am to have integrity and peace in my life - if I am to do true good and write truly - I must not falter because others so easily see a way to sell that ultimately twists my work into a deformed - yet commercially viable - monster.

Naïve as it is, I must create true things. Regardless if they are considered valuable by others.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Night Date

Me, eight-year-old, root beer, wine, mac-n-cheese with complimentary peas, kimchee cauliflower, popcorn, and the Duke.

Right about perfect.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Long-Haired Hippie People

Since we've moved back to San Diego, my son has experienced a significant number of people's mistaking him for a girl. Granted, he does have beautiful long blond hair that any girl--nay woman--would kill for, but it seems odd that we've never encountered this
phenomenon before in Monterey. Did his hair hit a critical length that screams feminine despite his Star Wars shirts and dirty jeans? I wonder if people look at him and think what I think about Shiloh Pitt: "that poor little girl whose parents force her to wear boys' clothes."

I will miss this so much when he decides to cut it.
I love my son's long hair. I think it fits his vibrant personality. I think it makes him so much more him. When we cut his hair (and yes, we do cut it), he loses a teeny tiny bit of that devilish spark that I love so much. A small part of the twinkle goes out of his eye.
But despite my obvious bias, he also has another influential adult in his life who is not in love with long hair: his father. And together, my husband and I decided that my son gets to decide how he wants his hair. Sometimes he likes it shaved close like Daddy. Sometimes he gets a little boy cut. Sometimes he grows it out. We always remain open to when he wants to change his hair, saving our "Do What We Want Because We Are Your Parents" card for something a bit more important--like that neck tattoo.

Still, I like to reiterate to my son from time to time that he does have the option to cut his hair. Especially because I am so vocal on loving it long and didn't want him to think he should keep it long even if he was uncomfortable about being thought of as a girl. So, after about the 47th "oh your little girl is so cute" comment, I asked him if he wanted to cut his hair and if he was bothered by people's mistaking him for a little girl.

"No," he said, sounding almost puzzled. "I know that I'm a boy. I don't care what they say."

"Besides," he continued. "I want to grow it out to here," playing his hand on his lower back, "so that I can cut it to celebrate my century."

"Your century?" Had he taken some weird Nazarite vow to never cut his hair until he was 100 years old? Even I was a little put off by hair grown out that long.

"Yeah, you know, when I turn ten."

"Oh, your decade."

"Yes, my decade. I'm going to grow it out until my decade and then it'll be long enough to donate."

And this was the point that I shut my mouth. At my son's age, if I had been mistaken for the opposite sex, I would have been devastated. Here my kid is intentionally growing out his hair so that he can donate it to some other kid who doesn't have any.

I'll admit I was a little bit bummed.

Despite my big talk of its being his decision, I thought he was growing it long because I liked it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kids Will Out You

*I wrote this blog two months ago and have been meaning to post it; however, between travel and moving and generally being a stressed-out mess, I just don't have any time. Oh, and I still can't get blogger for my iPad to do the font and size I want, so I have to wait until I am on a real computer to do that. And who has real computers these days?*

I have new neighbors.

When they first moved in, I was really excited because they have boys my son's age. I thought it would be awesome for there to be normal boys on the block for my son to play with. I envisioned Saturdays with the boys riding their scooters on the sidewalk as the neighbor parents and I sipped beverages and chatted. Or perhaps a summer Tuesday night where my son goes over to their house to play or vice versa. It seemed like an awesome scenario.

It still does.

IF the neighbor kids had been even remotely human.

It's funny (in a sad desperate way, not actually laughable) how kids can reveal exactly the worst part of you that you never want anyone to see. Kids have no social filters. So if you are an animal who doesn't follow even the simplest conventions of human politeness in your private life, no matter how hard you try to hide it with a public face, your kids will out you.

Which sucks for everyone concerned because a) you don't want anyone to know that you are a beast and are raising wild beasts, b) those who know your kids aren't going to want to have them be around their kids, and c) now we are all faced with the awkward moments where my kid tells your kids that I told him not to play with them and now I look like the asshole.

And that is really the hardest part for me. Not because I can't handle telling my kid that he isn't allowed to play with kids who destroy houses, break toys, are disrespectful to adults, and rummage through every nook and cranny of my house. I am great at setting those boundaries. And in fact, if my son ever behaved that way, I would hope that other parents would tell their children the same exact thing. However, what I can't do is look another parent in the face and tell them their kid is a beast. [and I am not exaggerating about their beastliness: these kids are out of control like feral raccoons or opossums.]

I'm a pleaser. I want people to be happy with me and informing people that their children are not welcome in my house does not make them happy.

It's not that I really care about the neighbor mom. I sensed crazy on her the day I met her and she tried to have a homeschool-off with me (it's okay, you can win--you're more homeschooled than I am). It's that I don't want to seem mean. And because I don't want to seem mean, I am actually mean in a sneaky, underhanded way.

I tell my son to stay away from her kids. I lie to her face when she asks me if I told my son not to play with her kids. When she invites us to do stuff, I feign regretful enthusiasm because of course I would love to get together today for X but sadly we're already busy--let's make plans for another time. Then I conveniently forget to call back with my schedule. I cheerily wave from my yard when she's in hers, all the while thinking about how horrible her kids are.

I don't like this version of me. I don't like that I can't hide this version from the world because my son is still without guile and can't hide a freaking thing. I don't like that my son sees this (and know that with the law of kids, it will bite me in the ass someday). But I am a straight up coward.

It is not my fault that her boys are animals. I didn't raise them. I also know that my personal tolerance for boy behavior is pretty high, so I am not being picky. I am not the one who sends my kid over to their house right at bed time to do homework. I also don't send my child over to their house without dinner so that he asks them for food. Nor does my child borrow scooters from them and then leave them lying in front of the garage door of the other (childless) neighbor (begging to be run over). Nor do I forget that I even borrowed those scooters and fail to apologize when they disappear from my yard.

I am not the one who initially behaved badly. And I shouldn't feel guilty about calling her out for her children's bad behavior. If she wanted to hide her crazy, she shouldn't have had kids.

However, I am the one behaving badly when I resort to passive aggressive behavior instead of direct conversation. I am the one behaving badly when I can write an 800-word blog about her terrible children while she sits two houses down and thinks that we are fine. I am the one behaving badly when I force my child to be sneaky-mean just like I am being.

In many ways, I am also being outed. My not-so nice nature is coming to the front because of my son's interactions with others. All the crazy that I want hidden is on display.

I knew I shouldn't have bred.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Not So Much Like Running As Like

I haven't complained about running as much as I thought I would during my "training" for the HelMarathon (my pet name for the Helsinki Marathon). One of the reasons is that you actually have to consistently blog to be able to complain often. But the bigger part is that I really am like a broken record--I interact with running the same way over and over and over again: this sucks, this sucks, this sucks, this sucks.

Which doesn't really make interesting or varied reading. I've learned--but have yet to put into practice--that when you are thinking the same thing again and again, it is best to just say nothing (except when complaining about how freaking cold it is in Monterey: that never gets old).

As the HelMarathon looms ever closer, I have noticed a new-ish frustration with my training in the past few weeks: I feel like a constant running failure. And leave almost every run with a sense that I accomplished nothing except wussing out of what I really was supposed to do. Which was run. Which I did. But somehow no run is good enough to make me feel as if I actually succeeded.

Case in point: the other day, I was doing "speed" work (very laughable considering my "speed" pace is most people's jog pace). The goal was four miles, alternating a mile at a moderate pace with a mile at my speed pace.

The first mile went fine; the right music, my feet pounding the treadmill at an awkward and heavy thunk thunk thunk. The second mile (the first "speed" mile) was okay; again, perfect music, treadmill satisfyingly shimmying at my increased pace of thunkthunk thunkthunk thunkthunk. The third mile was fine; back to moderate, music tempo slowed, quick suck of water and wipe of towel.

Then that final mile. The final mile that was supposed to be my last speed mile. The thing was, after only three miles, I was tired. My feet dangerously shuffling on the treadmill. Towel shifting precariously close to falling off and being whooshed under my feet.
I just couldn't do it. I managed 0.7 miles at my "speed" pace before having to slow down to moderate and finish that final 0.3 miles. Was I stoked that I pushed myself until I was legitimately tired (the whole point of speed training)? No, instead all I felt was how lame I was that I couldn't do that final 0.3 miles at a fast pace.

I have a few people in my life who are legitimate runners. And they point out that it is important for a runner to set realistic goals--that failing to hit a goal on a run can be super damaging to the runner's training psyche. And I get that. But when you are me, what is a realistic goal? Frankly, it should be to not run at all and then everyday that I do is like a Christmas miracle.

However, that realistic goal of not running is not practical when you want to run a marathon. As I am told over and over again, I have to put feet to pavement and do it often.

Further, while my body agrees that not running is a realistic goal, my mind cannot accept that fact. I know that I am slow. I know that I experience a level of pain from "high" mileage that many runners don't. I know that I do not enjoy this activity. But my mind keeps insisting that since I've been doing it more or less consistently since 2009, all of the things I know should have changed.

My body should have caught up to my perception: it's ONLY four miles. It seems so short to my mind, yet to my body, those four miles can seem like a marathon in themselves.

The first marathon I trained for was rough but I gave my mind various excuses that it seemed to accept. Excuses like, "you haven't run before. Ever." Or "you've just had major surgery where they removed massive amounts of metal from your foot." Or "you regularly experience intense pain from said foot and don't sleep." All valid reasons for sucking at running.

All reasons my mind reminds me that I no longer have.

Well, yes, there is still the pain but it is so much less that I don't even think it is worth mentioning (except that I just did). But I am no longer new to running. My body is relatively used to it. I can knock out four miles (at snail pace) without too much fanfare. My foot is strong. I know my body's limits and likes. But I still suck at running.

So I feel like a failure.

I can't run fast enough or far enough or with enough enjoyment to feel as if I were a true runner. In every run, my body reaches a point where it says to my mind, "Enough you sadist. We are going home to drink beer." And my little sadomasochist mind can't make my body change. If it isn't fudging on distance (such as in the speed training mentioned above), it is fudging on pace where my body gets slower and sloower and sloooower while my mind rails at it.

Really, my mind has it easy. It isn't the one who has to actual put feet to pavement. It gets to listen to NPR podcasts while it rests, nestled in its cerebral fluid. So it really shouldn't get much of a say in how my body acts.

But my mind has the biggest mouth, ever. So when it screams at my body and tells it what a failure I am, my body can't hear anything else.

My body isn't asking much. It really doesn't even care all that much about running. It is just as happy being fit some other way that is less fraught with angst. I'm hoping that after the HelMarathon, my body will finally stand up to my mind and tell that ungrateful and lazy bitch where she can take running and stuff it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

This Is How I Feel About the Pierce 2008 Cabernet

A conversation between me and my friend about two years ago when I moved from San Diego to Monterey:

Her (after tearfully hugging me goodbye): When I first met you, I couldn't stand you. You are such a weirdo. You were so superficial and silly and too opinionated about things you didn't know anything about. [This last one could be very successfully argued]

Me: I know you didn't like me.

Her: But I love you now. You've really grown and changed over the past two years.

Me: Do you think that maybe you've grown and changed a bit too?

Her: No. It's just you. I'm exactly the same.