June 24, 2007

Back in the Saddle

Thanks to everyone who read the previous post and gave such warm and supportive feedback. At rare moments I have something relevant and inspired to say and it's wonderful to have people appreciate it.


I'm back from vacation and relocating my bearings. I had a fantastic time visiting with old friends and some new ones and breathing in desert air as well as coastal air. Now, I live pretty darned close to the coast as it is... east coast, that is. Which is by no means and stretch of the imagination a coastal desert. Which much of the California coast is. However, the California coast is inundated with Californians and the lowest forms of scum from every other part of the country, but that's a story for another day.


Somehow the picture from the brochure is so much better than my photo-styling. Ansel Adams I am not.

Yosemite is one of California's gems and worst nightmares all rolled up in one glorious slice of the Sierra Nevada. Just being in the Sierras is enough to make me giddy with glee. However, being there with the ridiculous abundance of tourists that clog the valley is enough to make me want to pull my hair out by the roots. Yay for wine! We camped in a tent-cabin in a tent city where the neighbors were two swaths of canvas and three feet away. I was awakened by our next door neighbor kids who were bickering and yammering endlessly so I projected a particularly voluminous fart in their general direction producing a barrage of kiddie giggles. In spite of the little darlings waking me up, having kiddie laughter first thing in the morning was a lovely mood stabilizer. Have I ever mentioned that I'm not entirely Rainbow Bright in the morning? More like Satan Incarnate... usually. At least until a liter of coffee liberates me from the cruel reality that is the waking world. Then I'm A-OK.

Anyhow, after seeing an orthopedic surgeon and the MRI and whatnot from the previous week, hiking half-dome wasn't really an option for me. Actually, doing anything on my feet wasn't really advisable. (I could, however, hold my own from the flat of my back, yet alas, no takers...) So I did then next best thing and found a quiet slice of the valley with some conveniently located trees in which to string up my handy-dandy travel hammock and read and read and swayed with the breeze as the Merced River babbled along beside me.

Note the grubby in the toes... Pedicure was the first order of business upon return.

I think I may have dozed off a bit from time to time. For the record: It did not suck one bit.

Whilst in California, one of my dearest friends from Santa Barbara came up for a night to drink liquor and tell lies about the glory days. A supreme treat since it's been well over a year since I've seen him. In the meantime, the friend I was staying with was in the process of buying an absurdly overpriced condominium. The real estate market in California is absolutely ridiculous. I'm happy for her because it's what she wants, but really thankful that I live on the east coast. She's buying in Santa Cruz. We went out for drinks in Capitola one night (which is a little beach town) and she pointed out a bunch of beach villas that have at most about 600 square feet in the floor plans and go for about 1 million bucks. Guess what, people buy them. Stupid.

I was supposed to go back to work on Friday but I blew it off. Tomorrow, I'm back in the saddle... No excuses. I'm not entirely looking forward to it. Somehow I'll endure it though.


Update for Dive: The toes are even cuter when they're clean!

June 14, 2007

Father's Day Weekend

Hallmark Holidays… I don’t love ‘em. I never have. They leave me with an unsettled feeling of distress around these trite and precious holidays that has carried on throughout my life. As a child, it started with Valentines Day. Valentine’s Day makes children feel insecure about which of their friends likes them enough to send a valentine, or more devastatingly, which ones dislike them enough to send the ‘message of omission’ from their valentine distribution list. In adulthood, Hallmark fosters insecurities in fully grown adults who aren’t actively in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. Send a valentine to your parents or someone else you love…they suggest. Fuck off! Don’t tell me how and when to love! I realize that I’m a scrooge about these holidays, but what can I do? They vex me.

So in the holiday chute this weekend is Father’s Day. I’ve got it easy. My father has been dead for almost as many years of my life that he was alive. Miss him… you betcha. He was fucked up and totally flawed, but a really good dad. I’m not, and never have been the sort who turns a dead loved one into Saint Dad, Saint Mom, or Saint Anyone.

That said, my dad was the kind of father who taught me to change the oil in a car while we listened to Dodgers games on the radio. He taught me to drive and speed-shift a standard transmission and made sure that I didn’t get behind the wheel of an automatic until I was well into my twenties. He cared enough about the people my sister and I would grow up to be to not allow a television in the house. He made sure that we knew how to conduct ourselves at the card table and could cut a ball in at the pool table and considered these social skills that everyone should have. He didn’t give a shit about golf and neither do I. Our house was brimming with musical and literary resources that ensured that no matter what crazy adolescent whim had grabbed our attention, we could speak intelligently among respectable folks. He didn’t baby us and made sure that no one around us did. When he took us out for family portraits, nothing got done until we understood the concept of depth of field and the basic functioning of a camera. We sat down to dinner every night and stayed put until the salad was eaten, anything else served with it could be a leftover, but we all stayed until the salad was done.

He also drank too much, until he stopped, smoked cigarettes and ‘the dope’ every day of his life. Well, he stopped with the cigarettes when he got really sick. He also loved the ladies and they generally found him irresistible. Dad had some game with the ladies and being in a relationship in no way got in the way of that. It was the undoing of all of his relationships with good women. He was tall, handsome and strong and had some of the best legs that I’ve ever seen on anyone. He was a robust figure of a man and any of my dates were rightly intimidated as hell of him.

It’s hard to imagine that something as small and insignificant as a pea-sized tumor could kill such a force of life. But that’s exactly what it did.

There were 11 months, two brain surgeries, full body muscular atrophy, vocal cord paralysis, a feeding tube and a television entering the house from the time he was diagnosed to the day he failed to wake and everyone cried for a really long time. The last thing he asked me to do for him was to cut his finger and toenails because his coordination no longer allowed him to. Which I did and it was then as I knelt before him trimming his toenails that my heart knew it was over. My head wasn’t quite as wise. I still harbored the “positive thinking” mentality that drives the “denial” stage. It’s hard to face the death of your first hero with open acceptance.

As death goes, it was a successful death. Dying people know when the jig is up. And if you’re lucky they’ll tell you in subtle ways as they make sure their “house is clean” before they go. The day after he died he had an appointment with a lawyer to finalize his will. He had written one out longhand and signed it with a witness, which helped matters, but by the eyes of the law, his death was treated more or less, intestate. It was a TREMENDOUS pain in the ass. Especially since dad’s way of sticking it to the man was to not file income tax returns for 10 years. Let me tell you. In the end, the IRS gets their money. Don’t think for a second that they are forgiving or sympathetic to personal tragedy. They couldn’t give a shit.

But as I was saying… a successful death. The day he died, my sister, step mother and I were all able to look at each other and say, “no regrets” and mean it. We were there for him, and with him as he became ill and deteriorated and finally died. Everyone who mattered had the opportunity to make peace and set up the pieces so that it was safe for him to leave us. Which he did with grace. It was an honor to participate.

So Father’s Day…

I don’t smoke. I gave it up at 26 after being a smoker for 12 years. It was easy. Yes, I feel lucky because I know how hard people struggle with this. I view smoking in men as a deal breaker. To me, it is a weakness and the hallmark of a sucker in this day and age when we know that its repercussions are. Yet still, occasionally I get close to the personal space of a man who smokes, and sometimes, it smells divine. Not the dank stale smell of cheap cigarettes, but a more subtle olfactory hint of a bad habit. Sometimes the bad habits have a lot of charm and when we least expect it, they are a reminder to be flexible. If you do smoke, don’t kid yourself, it’ll fuck you up. But do what you must.

Whether you have a family or not, just write up the damned will. It’ll save your loved ones a load of distress in the bitter end. And if you don’t have loved ones, get the hell away from your computer RIGHT NOW and go love someone. And as ‘spam email’ as it sounds, settle conflicts in your relationships. Live clean with the people you love and make sure they know you love them.

I’ve probably not mentioned here before that I am a hospice volunteer. I am able to give back in an area that most people find unbearable but I am at ease with. I’m lucky. Although I prefer not to lose the people I love and it breaks my heart to pieces, I’m really good at it. And when you are good at something difficult, it just makes sense to help others with it.

For Father’s Day, the above is my message to all y’all.

June 11, 2007

Vacation… It’s a Rollercoaster

At the end of this week, I’m off to the Golden State to visit a girlfriend who will make me drink buckets of booze and try to get me into all manner of alcohol-induced trouble. While I’m there, we are also going to spend a couple of days camping at Yosemite. Yay!

'Pretty' doesn't quite do it justice.

I have a serious and passionate affection for the Sierra Nevada. Real live mountains. They are very much unlike these tree-blanketed, northeast foothills parading around as mountains. I’m looking forward to breathing thin, high elevation air among gigantic steep-sloped, exposed rock-faced mountains. *sigh* Mountains might be what I miss most about the west.

The trip promises to be a good time, but as y’all may recall, I had an incident with my knee last month wherein the so-called mountains of Vermont took a retaliatory swing at me after I drilled several wells in them. I’ve just returned from a visit to the orthopedic surgeon. He thinks that I have a torn ACL and has ordered an MRI. Ripping! This puts a damper on my big ideas of hiking in Yosemite. Fuck! It looks like I may be the girl who sits in a hammock at the edge of the river reading smut while German and Japanese tourists waste their trip taking pictures of what they should be taking in. Why do people spend so much time taking pictures of nature instead of getting up close and personal with it? It’s absurd, I tell you.

In other news, I have a huge crush on a fella. The whole situation has left me completely off balance. I have no idea what he thinks of me. He seems to like kissing me and he appreciates my sarcastic nature. Beyond that, I’ve no clue how interested he may be in me. I’ve never had a sense for assessing what a guy thinks of me and age isn’t changing that one bit. The day after I come back from California, he’s traveling to another country for a month. Perhaps I should just calm the hell down and deal with my crush in July when he returns. Of course, that is totally contrary to the obsessive nature of a crush, so fat chance!

June 6, 2007

I hope you like pain!

Confession: Seeing people make asses of themselves resulting in them getting hurt is one of the funniest things to me. I can watch this over and over agin.

Does that make me a bad person?

June 2, 2007

Your New Best Friend, The Black Widow

It seems that being bitten by a black widow isn’t all bad. That is, there’s an upside to it. Sure, it is commonly fatal to children and the elderly, but in healthy adults, men in particular, it can prove to be a good thing.

In Chile, they call men who are particularly virile “spider-bitten”. Some clever scientists decided to pursue the facts behind the folklore. What they found was that a certain variety of black widow native to southern Chilean wheat fields may lead to superhuman virility. In strong young farmers the bite leads to “erections that can last for days and involve involuntary ejaculations.”

Hello lover!

Antonio de la Jarra reports for Reuters:

“Scientists have discovered a potentially marketable contraceptive in the venom of Chile's black widow spider, whose bite is fatal to many but can also cause prolonged, painful and involuntary erections in men.

“The venom of the Latrodectus mactans, a variety of black widow found only in the south of Chile, has spermicidal properties not found in black widows in other regions of the world, Chilean Dr Fernando Romero said.”

Hmmm…. What an incredible opportunity… a non-stop boner and no one gets knocked up... If only they can harness these properties…

Which is exactly what they are up to!

They are in the process of creating and patenting spermicidal gels, condom lubricants and whatnot that utilize the contraceptive and erectile dysfunction abating properties of the spider venom and they are going to be rich rich rich!

In the meantime, I’ve got a hot date tonight and I’m off to the rare and exotic pet store to pick up a certain black widow.