Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Ouchie Ouch!

I'm sitting on the ferry right now and have to hold my head at a precise angle as to not feel a tearing pain in the middle of my back. I can't lean forward, or tilt too far to the right or the left. I'm starting to feel depressed, and want this pain to go away. I can't believe some people live with pain like this every single day, for years on end.

It happened yesterday playing tennis. I was already feeling a little sore in my left shoulder (I think from sleeping poorly), and I hyper-extended while running to get a difficult shot. I could almost hear the streeeeeetch of that poor muscle. Now I'm guessing I strained it; it's not that "good" sore feeling from working out too hard. It's a pinching, biting pain.

I love playing tennis, but had to settle for bumping balls over the net for David to practice his stroke. That didn't hurt, because I wasn't putting any energy into it, and at least I was on the court. I have tennis courts reserved tomorrow and Thursday, and I'm so afraid I'll have to cancel. I want to play! I hate missing tennis!

I am feeling angry at my shoulder, and keep sending it negative thoughts. I should probably change that, and send healing energy to my muscle. My shoulder didn't force me to play yesterday, and didn't force me to rush for that shot. OUCH.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Swingin' Good Time

Swing songs were the soundtrack to my dreams last night, after an amazing evening in Bremerton watching David play with his new band - "Rude and Unprofessional." I don't know how they got a crazy name like that, but they were anything but. They were classy, energetic, a small band with a "big band" feel.When we first got to the Charleston Ballroom for a soundcheck, other band members seemed amazed that I was there.
"It's going to be a looooong night," one woman said to me.
"How much did he pay you for you to come here?" said the upright bass player.

I guess they didn't understand that a woman in her 20's gets a major kick out of big band and swing music, and that her sweetie couldn't pay her enough to stay home. I wouldn't miss seeing David play for the world.
And neither would David's sister Grace and her husband, Prasad. They came all the way from Redmond to see him play, and tore up the dance floor. I'm so glad they were there.
Luckily, I got asked to dance several times, and I just had a blast. Something about dancing to swing music in a big puffy skirt makes me feel so alive, and thrilled. That's when one of David's band members turned to him and said,

"I didn't know why she'd want to come until I saw her dance." Yup, that about sums it up.

One of the best parts of the entire night was when the band was done playing, and they put on some salsa. I finally got to dance with David, and even the instructors were watching us. I love dancing salsa, because I actually know some moves and can shake my hips.

All in all, it was such a wonderful time. I heard from a band member's wife that they are going to be playing at the Charleston Ballroom once per month, and I'm so excited. What a fun Saturday night!

Friday, March 27, 2009

All men need a mother

David just got back from a week and a half long trip in the fattest city in the United States: San Antonio, Texas. He ate tacos for breakfast, barbecue for dinner, and beer for a snack. He hung out with his sisters in the muggy heat, and managed to squeeze in a few power walks and rounds of tennis. But clearly, not the structure I help provide for him here in the green, healthy state of Washington, where we eat fish, drink red wine (in moderation), and play tennis 5 times per week.

"Go home, and eat lentils." Those were my instructions to David as he embarked on the ferry toward Bainbridge Island this afternoon. A couple days ago I created a thick, brown lentil stew with carrots, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, and kale. It's a delicious vegetarian's dream. I knew David's nutrient starved body would benefit.

"I'll do whatever you say for the rest of my life," he replied.

That got me to thinking: Do all men need a mother? Or at least someone to watch out for their needs?

David (who hates to be controlled, like me. Darn Aquarians.) seems perfectly content to let me control his health. He should be, I grew up in Oregon with a healthnut mother, eating fruit smoothies, brown rice and salmon (Thanks Mom!). He was raised in Texas where he ate hamburger helper and cereal. In our time together, I've managed to mold his preferences for food. I don't force things on him, I lead by example. Now he loves fish (salmon and halibut), and vegetables (yams and portabella mushrooms), and chicken. His stomach hurts after fast food. He eats smaller portions, and scarfs down salads like they're Big Macs. He feels so great, that he eats whatever I prepare, with a huge smile and plenty of praise.

I think that inside, all men want someone who is watching out for their well-being, no matter how much they holler and protest. But who am I kidding? I also want someone who watches out for me. I love when David gets up 2 hours before me to turn on the heaters, warm up the bathroom, make me breakfast, start the coffee, scrape the ice off my car, prepare my tea at night.

I've often heard that relationships work when it's 50-50. But I think it works even better when BOTH people give 100 percent. All I have to say is, I'm so, so, so SO SO excited he's home.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I'm so glad I went back

I cheated on my hairdresser when he moved to a new location. I couldn't help it. He abandoned me, leaving to better his own life. How dare he! I used to get off work take the bus 5 minutes to the salon on 1st street, then hop the bus to my ferry. After he moved, I'd have to drive through traffic to Greenlake, which is just oh so far. I thought it would be a huge hassle with my ferry schedule, so I went looking for another stylist. I saw a short woman who talked too much, her words biting like darts after a long day at work. I saw a large boisterous man who looked Middle Eastern, but told me he was a Mexican named David who constantly got stopped at the airport because people confuse him with the Taliban. I saw a tall, feminine man who took an hour and a half to cut my hair and left it looking the same. Oh how I missed my hairdresser.

I went months without seeing the pleasant man who'd do magic with my hair, who knew when to talk and when to be quiet. Oh how I'm glad I went back. This is my second time, and I haven't regretted it one bit. Today he was particulary giving, and massaged my shoulders and head for longer than normal. He didn't talk much, which is fine because I'm feeling tired and drained. I love the salon, it's bright colors and vintage appeal. I feel like I've walked into the 50's when I see the girl at the front desk with a flowered dress and pumps.

Picking a good hairdresser is like picking a good boyfriend, or best friend. You need someone who will anticipate your needs, who knows what you like, who can read your moods. I'll never cheat on him again.

So if you ever need a good cut, in a relaxing atmosphere, head to the Beehive Salon near Greenlake and ask for Mitchell. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

My house is haunted

Yes, I say this somewhat facetiously, but I wonder - is there such thing as ghosts? The other day I spent the night at David's sister Grace and brother-in-law Prasad's house in Redmond. I was sitting at the table talking to Prasad, when he asked me an interesting question:

"Are you more afraid of the supernatural, or the real?"

"I'm much more afraid of a man breaking into my house with a gun than a ghost lingering in my room."

This isn't to say that I am not afraid of the idea of a ghost, and sometimes I believe my house is haunted. This usually happens when David is out of town, so I'm sure it's my imagination running wild.

Last night, I woke up suddenly from a dream. In my dream, some voice was whispering, you have to wake up now, you need to wake up now. I groggily opened both eyes and stared into the blackness of my room. I thought I heard movement on the carpet, and I froze in bed, not moving a muscle. I was sure it was kitty, until I sat straight up and felt a furry bundle on the bed, fast asleep. I couldn't shake the sensation that someone had been moving around near me, and I stared hard and fast at all the dark parts of my room, until I felt comfortable enough to drift back asleep.

Another instance I was sleeping in the downstairs bedroom - David was snoring up a storm - when I felt like there were several ghosts in my room. I felt the distinct sensation that it was several Native American men, standing in a circle and talking. I wasn't necessarily afraid of these men, I felt a kind and peaceful presence. But yes, I was freaked out. Again I froze in a very groggy state, listening, sensing. Eventually I got up the courage to run upstairs as fast as possible.

Other times I'll be in the living room, and I feel prepared to see the ghost of a little girl. I felt she'd been in the secret room for some strange reason, and I always picture her wearing a puffy white dress with a long bow. I've had these sensations when I'm wide awake. I know the original foundation is very old, decades old, so I can't rule out the possibility that someone died there.

Are these instances just my imagination running away with me? Too many scary movies? Too many thoughts about ghosts? The rational part of my brain says yes, of course that's what it is. It's your mind playing tricks on you; this always happens when you are in a dream-like state and when you're freaked out cause David is out of town. But the other half of my brain wonders - what if this is for real? What if I could sense, not see, dead people?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The love of a cat

When I was a little girl I loved cats. Whenever I went to my Dad and stepmom's house for the weekend, I'd hope against hope their cat would cuddle up under my covers with me at night. I loved when he jumped onto my bed with light paws, then purred up a storm as I pet and cuddled him. I even had a stuffed animal cat, that purred when I hugged it. I was in love.

It's no different now that I'm an adult, and have my kitty Lexi, who normally goes by "kitty". She's an angel when David is away for the week; it's just nice having another living being in my house. She sits on my lap, she rolls onto her back to expose her large, furry belly. She looks up at me with those big blue eyes, and meows. And I've found I can't sleep without her.

The first night David was gone, I laid in bed for two hours before I could fall asleep. Not only did I not have him beside me, but kitty was nowhere to be found. I tossed and turned, and finally she jumped up onto my bed, a purring ball of joy. She always settles up near my chest, where I hug her like she's a stuffed animal. Sometimes we lay like that all night long, and sometimes she turns on her back so I can have my hand on her belly.

Every morning when I wake up, I see kitty near me. She rolls on her back and stretches her two front paws toward me, sometimes touching my face. She meows and jumps out of bed, and walks down the stairs at my side. I'm so thankful for my little animal companion.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Death of a Salesman

The ferry line was dark and cold today as the man selling newspapers walked up and down the aisles of cars.

"Seattle Times! P-I!" It's what he yells every day, his voice melodic and loud above the rumble of the engines. A bright orange bag full of plastic-covered newspapers slaps against his back as he walks.

"Seattle Times! P-I!" Maybe it's because they realized it would soon all be over, maybe they wanted a piece of history, but I watched as one car after another rolled down its window to buy the last print edition of the Seattle P-I. I've never bought a newspaper in the ferry line before; today was my first, and will probably be my last.

"Seattle Times! P-I!" It was also the last time the salesman would be saying those words.

As I breathed in the ink-stained pages I felt tears prick my eyes. The headline shouted, lonely and sad, "You've meant the world to us." I flipped through the thin pages, now tears rolling down my face, as the finality of it all set in. Newspapers are dying, and part of me is dying with them.

I've been reading newspapers since I was a little girl, and received dailies up until a couple years ago, when the Internet just became more convenient. I remember sitting on my couch with a cup of coffee every day as the smooth paper rustled under my fingertips. I fell in love with journalism through newspapers, and wrote for my high school paper, even a couple articles for the Oregon Daily Emerald. The possibilities for stories were endless, the opinion section powerful, the right of a free press something to be cherished.

Today I feel like we've lost a part of what makes journalism great, and in the decades to come, our children, and our children's children, will realize what's missing.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Couple Dating

Meeting new friends as a couple is a little bit like dating. Instead of meeting people one on one, you're meeting people two on two. You make small talk, you try to find similar interests, you size up the clothing and hairstyles.

Last night our power went out, so we went to the neighborhood pub in downtown Winslow. We sat at the bar, since every other islander also thought a beer and a burger would be a good idea on a cold, windy night.

"It would be so nice if we could meet some more couple friends," said David, turned to look at me.

"Yeah, it really would." All of the couples we hang out with are my friends, or David's family, and we thought it would be nice to make new couple friends, as a couple. I told David we'd have to join some groups, maybe hiking, dancing, etc. I told him it would be difficult, if not weird, to meet another couple in a bar.

But then, a man next to us got up to use the restroom, leaving his girlfriend at the bar. David and I started chatting with her, since she seemed nice. Her boyfriend came back, and he was also cool, so all four of us sat for another beer at the bar, and talked for an hour or so. They both seemed genuine, and shared some of our interests. They seemed like the type of couple we'd enjoy having as friends.

They asked for my business card, saying they'd love to come back to the island for a barbecue.

"We'll call you," they said as they walked out the door.

"That would be nice," we replied.

Making new friends is like dating. You don't want to come off too strong, you don't want to call the next day, you want to make sure your personalities mesh. I do hope this couple calls. It's just funny that right as we were talking about meeting new people, friends seemed to drop out of the sky, or off the boat.

So tell me, how do you meet new friends?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Go ahead, Twitterize Me

I thought I'd be one of those people who'd never use twitter. Useless chatter, I always thought. Useless technology. Well, look at me now. I'm addicted.

I love twitter because it allows me to see brief headlines in the lives of friends and politicians, my favorite bloggers, the news, the theater, the bus schedule, anything I sign up for. It's such an easy way to disseminate information in a quick, speedy manner.

It's interesting that we need all this technology to stay in touch, as we move further and further away from human interaction. The human race is social, we need to feel connected to each other. Before, we lived in villages, now we live in online worlds. Sometimse I wonder if we'll ever move back toward getting to know our neighbors. I don't know any of my neighbors.

I feel as though I have plenty of real human interaction, that Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter aren't really taking the place of that. But I do feel a little apprehensive that one day, we'll all just sit in our own bubbles, twittering away our lives.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gravity of San Miguel: Excerpt

I've been working on a fiction piece for awhile now about a woman who decides to leave her comfortable life to go live in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Below is an excerpt:

The anxiety started in the pit of my stomach, where it fermented and boiled, then traveled to every extremity, every cell of my body. It took over my nervous system like a strange disease that left me shaking and sweaty. I felt the sweat curdle in my armpits, staining my white blouse yellow. The shirt seemed like a good idea this morning, when I was feeling vibrant and sure. It was loose, flowing, sexy yet subtle, and reminded me of tanned expatriates wearing chic, embroidered Mexican clothing. I realized too late that white is no good for a person scared crapless; only those who have nothing to hide.

The Aeromexico plane arced like a rainbow over the city of Seattle, painting the Olympic Mountains with memories. They were hunched guardians with capes made of snow, their heads rising slowly above the puffy white clouds. I thought they could protect me from my fear of change, but they changed too, eroding through time. Change wasn’t as easy to see, that way, when it took a millennium for one boulder to fall. I pressed against the window as we banked deeply to the right, heading south, to my new home. I saw waterways far below, the hills rising green to cocoon Lego housing developments and Lincoln Log marinas. Nothing looked real from this high up, even my own life was a dream. The ache turned my insides to stone as I tried not to think about what I’d be leaving, who would be lost.

I’d cringed when I last saw Steve’s face. His brows knitted worry along his forehead, his mouth turned down in disapproval. His frown teased the wrinkles out of his skin as it lost one more battle of its war with age.

“I can’t believe you’re giving it all up, your work, your life, me.”

“Oh, Steve.” I’d reached for him then, not because I felt he needed it, but because I did. “I’m going to miss you so much.” I breathed in his Giorgio cologne, his cheek scratchy against mine. He smelled salty; a whisper of dried tears that he never wanted me to see.

“I don’t understand it, Isabelle. I would have never mentioned San Miguel de Allende if I knew it was going to take you away from me. I want the best for you, but I feel like you are just running. Maybe if you turned to look back you could face it here, head on, in Seattle, with me.” His voice cracked and he bit down hard to stop the quivering of his lips.

It was then that I cried, tears drawing lines down my cheeks as our history swelled and burst the lining of my heart. Our bodies melted against each other as we held on tightly, each afraid the other would let go first.

“We’ve talked about this before, Steve,” I whispered against his ear, “This is something I need to do for myself. I can’t explain why, just yet, I just know, somehow, that it needs to happen.” I know Steve hated ambiguous answers, and I felt him tighten against me. It was the best I could do under these circumstances; even I didn’t quite know why I felt the overwhelming urge to be in Mexico. To find myself? To get away from a life that wasn’t mine?

“Fine then,” he said, suddenly pushing away from me, like putting distance between himself and pain would make it disappear. He didn’t realize yet that it follows you, wispy and illusive, circling your life until there’s nothing left.

It was then that I turned to go; knowing that a thousand more words between us would do nothing to fill the void in our hearts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Our Layoff Story

Some people have A Baby Story, others A Wedding Story, we have A Layoff Story. I group it along with happy things like babies and weddings because this is a positive thing in our lives. I know that when most of you read the word "layoff", you bite your nails and hyperventilate, thinking "Oh my god I could be next." When David and I hear the word "layoff", we think "freedom." It definately helps that we are DINK's (duel-income no-kids), or maybe I should say DINKNM (duel-income no-kids no-mortgage.) We are home free.

David has suspected a layoff for weeks now. The economy is obviously slumping, and the non-profit he worked for didn't score any new contracts. Not a lot of people want to invest in e-learning when they're not making any money. We told our property manager that a layoff could be imminent back in February. "We could lower your rent," they generously offered. This is another reason neither of us are worried about a layoff.

I know our viewpoint is very rare in this tough economy, but I think its important to spin something potentially negative into something positive. All we hear is about how layoffs wreck lives, how people lose their homes, how everything in life is ruined and ugly. This is a time for David to focus on building his own business and his website. It's a time for him to play tennis and practice his trombone, since he just joined a swing band and a large brass band. It's a time for relaxation and personal development, and of course, cooking me delicious dinners. I think all of us need a break from work once in awhile, to get out of the rat race and focus on what is truly important to our lives and to our future. Getting laid off is like taking a deep breath before jumping back into the pool. Sometimes I wish I was the one in that boat.

Another reason neither of us are worried is that we know work for David is on the horizon. He already has a couple of leads, and of course has to keep applying for jobs to get unemployment benefits. But I encourage him, "Enjoy this time, use this time for yourself, because before you know it, you'll be back at it, working 40 hours per week again." I know that at another point in our lives, David will return the favor for me.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I have a crush

When I saw No Country for Old Men last year, I remember my friend Abby leaning over the whisper in my ear.

"I know you can't believe it now, but Javier Bardem is actually really good looking. I saw him in a comedy."
"No way," I responded.

He played a serial killer in No Country, and absolutely scared the living dickens out of me. I'd never seen him before, and thought he encapsulated evil. Whenever I saw him on the screen, my palms would sweat and I felt incredibly nervous.

Then, last night I saw him in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. He played a creative, intellectual, seductive artist living in Spain. Was this the same man? How could it be?

I couldn't keep my eyes off him in this movie. I loved the romanesque nose, the steamy, brown almond eyes, his voice, the unique, interesting face. I loved the character. Even David said, "Wow, that guy's a stud." This is after both of us were seriously disturbed after No Country.

I had a dream last night that had alternate endings for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. This isn't a giveaway, don't worry. In my dream, people were hunting him with big guns, even though he was a cute artist. They were trying to shoot him in his own home, and he was shooting people back. Who IS this guy? I just can't wrap my head around it since he played such different parts in these two movies.

To me, this is what makes an incredible actor. He deserved the academy award he received for No Country for Old Men. He is so versatile that it leaves me stunned. I am going to now run out and rent all the Spanish movies he's ever done.

It also goes to show that what really makes someone good-looking or bad-looking is their personality. He was truly awful in Old Country, and very lovable in Vicky Cristina. I think I have a crush. A big one. This man is truly amazing.

Friday, March 6, 2009

School is a tater tot

The other day I covered a job fair at a community college in Des Moines. Immediately, the scent of delicious, succulent tators tots assaulted my senses. That one smell alone brought me back. Back to the days of elementary school when I'd be lucky enough to get a hot lunch with tator tots and salty ketchup. To the days of writing in cursive, the thick cut of scissors through construction paper, pink eraser dust. I loved the way lead scraped on lined paper. The smell of those crispy potatoes reminded me of how much I loved school, and miss it.

I never thought I liked school when I was actually in it. I'd dread going to classes, raising my hand, writing tedious long papers about subjects I didn't care about. In college I skipped astronomy almost every day and still got an "A". I just wanted to learn on my own time, not in a crowded lecture hall with 300 students. The classes I thoroughly enjoyed in college were Spanish, and electronic media, but even then I wanted it all to be done, so I could be a "big girl" and go out into the world.

Now that its been 6 years since I graduated college, I realize how truly inspiring it was. I loved walking in the cold across campus through towering oaks and willow trees, my backpack pulling my shoulders. I liked the sharp, inquisitive minds of young students all around me. I really enjoyed being exposed to new things, being on the radio for the first time, editing my first television package. Everything was fresh, and exciting.

In the past 6 years, when someone asked "Do you ever think of getting your Masters?" I always answered with a heartfelt and resounding, "NO WAY!." But now, I'm not so sure. Maybe it would be fun to once again learn something new. Perhaps psychology, my other profession of choice. Then I think of a tuition tab in the thousands of dollars, the tedious reading, being forced to write pages and pages of papers.

Maybe I'd be better off checking out a few psych books from the library, and some tater tots from Trader Joe's. I can bring back that newness of learning, it's up to me.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Food Wars

This is exactly how I felt leaving work yesterday. We had one of our famous "food days" at work, which means cram your face with everything you can get your hands on, as fast as you can, then just keep eating the rest of the afternoon. I planned to eat lightly at "food day", and then eat my healthy, vegetarian Morrocan Chickpea Soup I had put in the refrigerator. But, like usualy, I lost all restraint when I saw the spread in the newsroom.
I ate a grilled ham and cheese sandwich, cheese and crackers, little chicken meatballs, greasy chips, macaroni salad, and 5 or 6 cookies, brownies and oreos. I rank diet soda. At the end of my gorge-fest, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach, or suddenly pregnant. My belly felt like a volleyball, pushing against my ever so constricting jeans. I know I should have worn sweatpants for "food day," and should have taken the afternoon off for a junk induced coma.
I've noticed recently that I just can't handle junk food. My body repels it like poison, and makes me really regret listening to my tastebuds. I tend to eat really healthy foods most days, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, and healthy protein. I love to cook, and take careful time preparing lunches almost every day. I don't put much salt in my food. My body is addicted, and eating anything salty or fatty wreaks havoc on my system.
Running on the treadmill after eating all this junk felt like torture last night. I did it for 25 minutes, and my legs felt like lead, or trees growing out of the exercise machine. I had a hard time getting breath, since my belly was so bloated.
I hope I've learned my lesson. This happens every time I eat junk food, or even eat out in a restaurant. The problem is, I just can't resist what's in front of me. That's why I'm happy "food day" is a very, very rare occasion.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I could watch this a thousand times

Oh my, I'm still laughing. This is soooooo hilarious.

and I have to put my other favorite dog video:

Yes, I'm a cheater

For a few hours every week, I like to play Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii. This is an adventure game, where you have to figure things out, find clues, and fight monsters. I love entering fantasyland, where I wield a sword and explore strange new worlds. However, as Link, I have no patience.

I like when the game goes smoothly, where I spend a certain amount of time on my own trying to figure something out. But when I can't figure it out fairly quickly, I log onto the Internet, go to favorites, and look at "Zelda Twilight Princess Walkthrough." This shows the entire game, step by step. I used it when I couldn't figure out how to beat 3 shadow monsters, or where I needed to go next. I sorta feel guilty when I do this, like I should spend the hours other people spent to figure out the puzzles.

But you know.....I don't have time to spend 3 hours trying to figure out one monster. I'm not a huge gamer, and want to have fun when I play, not be frustrated. I wish the "Walkthrough" had existed when I played Zelda on the Super Nintendo in the 90's, because I became so frustrated that I just quit.

Is it wrong to cheat on video games? Does this mean I can't stick it through the tough spots?

When I start to feel guilty I just remind myself - it's just a video game. It's not real life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Springing Forward

On Sunday David and I went on a walk down to Faye Bainbridge State Park, where we sat on wooden chairs and stared at the rolling ocean, the snow-capped mountains. I heard the call of an eagle, saw seagulls playing in the surf. And on our way back home, I searched for evidence. Like a detective, I stared at branches on trees and bushes, looking for any sign of spring. And I saw it, tiny buds waiting to unfurl new life. I looked at the flower beds outside our front door and saw shoots of purple and pink. I was afraid our rare February snow would stunt the arrival of spring, but thankfully, I think I'm wrong.

Spring is my favorite time of year. I feel like those buds, slowly awakening to more light and warmer air. Something inside me stirs and comes alive. I feel like there is an end to the long tunnel of winter, that pulls my heart and mind down. I love that there is light in the morning when I wake up at 630am, like the earth is waking up with me, instead of me waking up the earth.

The only thing I'm dreading this year is the early arrival of "Spring Forward", setting our clocks forward one hour. It's happening THIS WEEKEND. Yes, it will be wonderful to have light in the evening until 630pm, but I think I'd rather have it at 630am. Once again, I'll be thrust into darkness every morning, looking forward to the light, that's not quite attainable yet.