Friday, September 30, 2005

No entiendo

There are things in this world that I am not meant to comprehend. And actually I'm okay with that because I never want to understand why someone would want to sculpt Elvis and hound dogs out of butter, or why someone else would actually want to see that. And I don't understand those insipid bears on the Charmin commercial. Is that campaign actually selling more toilet paper? It's weird and wrong. And not only do I not understand it, but the commercial kind of pisses me off as well. I say bring Mr. Whipple back.

The arrival of Fall has nothing to do with cool air

I was lucky enough to travel 20 years back in time last night. Back when class schedules, textbooks and school supplies were very much part of my life. Back when my wardrobe was new and called my back to school clothes. Back when, like all college kids across the country, we found ourselves around a coffee table, pizza boxes pushed aside, playing a silly little game called Quarters. Um, yeah, that's what I ws doing last night, playing Quarters. At a tiny bar with open garage door walls, a concrete floor, and a juke box offering up the likes of the Mavericks and Eric Clapton, we sat around a Formica topped table and bounced quarters around and occasionally into a coffee mug so old that I'm pretty sure arrived in the states on the Mayflower.

That in itself would qualify as an unusual occurrence in my life these days, but then we had to roll out the rules, such as when you miss the ancient coffee mug you can try again but if you fail then you have to drink. Standard stuff. But one of us got carried away a bit and decided that before you could drink, you had to do a maneuver and then you could have yourself a little fun by adding a maneuver to the list for the next person to do. So, yeah I admit right here that I did find myself with my thumbs in my ears, sticking my tongue out and wiggling my fingers, jutting my neck out like a chicken three times, holding my hands in an arc above my head and singing a note, flapping my arms like a chicken, and snorting like a pig - all before I had to drink. Let me say that I know this is childish and, yeah, even plain stupid, but last night, it was absolutely hilarious.

I don't know what else I can say about it other than let you know that when I was talking with a friend on the phone this morning, she said, And y'all were in public? Ah, don't you just love Fall?

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

That dog, she owes me fifteen bucks

She's cute, very cute, there's no argument about that. She's spunky and delightful. But she's also a sly girl and I have to keep my eye on her all the time. She's not a bad dog, she doesn't poop or pee in the house, that kind of stuff. However, and this is a BIG however, she is very much an opportunist. She's a Labrador, after all. And if I make spaghetti and sit down at the table for dinner, she's going to take a stroll through the kitchen to see if I might have left anything behind. Behind, meaning anywhere on the counter where she can get hold of it. And if I notice that she's not in the living room and glance up to make sure that the pantry door is shut and seeing that it is, think everything is okay, and in another minute still take notice she's not in the living room and don't act on it, well, then I just might find that I've given her enough time to completely consume the $15.00 wedge of Parmesan Cheese that I bought to shave on salads or pasta, which, since it was only purchased yesterday, was one heck of a lot of cheese. Was. When I stood up from the table, I knew.

Mmmm, that was good

After that licking her chops business, she started her guilt routine. Pleading with her eyes, offering me her I'm so sorry, I couldn't help myself face, her ears flat back and the blinking. It's the blinking that slays me, as if it's absoultely going to kill her this very minute if I don't stop saying Bad dog. I tell you, when she does this, it's real hard not to laugh.

Bad dog

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Revisiting the hurricane, but only for the music

During the long weekend, I had loads of opportunity to chat, text and IM my favorite pen pal. I can’t remember the last time we spent time together like that. Likely when his office was beside my own and he'd talk so loud on the phone that I'd have to kick the wall to get him to hush, and in return he'd pound the wall so hard I'd fly from my seat, or the time he and his family came to the cabin with my friends and me, and it rained so hard for so long that we took turns sliding down the hill on pool floats in the pouring rain because we were so bored that we were climbing out of our skin. Now that I think about it, a wicked Halloween punch may have had something to do with that.

On Saturday, we got onto the subject of music, which always happens, and we stayed there a long while, which also always happens. We tend to be all dreamy about music from days gone by, but a bit hesitant about music today - because neither of us are hanging out in bars or watching MTV anymore and the World Cafe no longer airs in Houston, so we're kind of winging it, oftentimes waiting for the newest CD of a favorite artist to be released, and sending word to one another about it, as he did me with David Gray just last week.

Come to find out, from the music-gone-by era, we both have fond recollections of Squeeze. I was trying to find Another Nail in My Heart as a ring tone to download – hey, I was bored – and what I found was hardly even recognizable because it sounded like an organ on speed and was so frightening that it was laughable, like the song itself breathed helium. I wanted so much to hear, And here in the bar, the piano man’s found another nail for my heart, because I was feeling all sorts of nostalgia for 1983. Maybe because it's the last time I dealt with a hurricane, not sure. But still I think the line is cleverly written, and even though there was a day when it made me cry (that'd be in 1983), I've always appreciated the cleverness, and in appreciating it, felt good again.

I've got it playing right now and it's got me grinning. Funny about music that way. If a song travels with you long enough, it can get you all wistful and pensive one day, then blissful and happy the next. Same damn song.

Monday, September 26, 2005


The simple things in life are best, and in those I find the essence of pleasure. An hour of solitude spent walking Cheyenne along Allen Parkway, the stretch of the branch above our path, the show of color and light across the morning sky. One goal or plan or demand after another this month has found me hurrying past too many beautiful times. Certain things are required of us, it is the order of life, but it is the quiet walks in the morning that give my heart a glow and rejuvenate me surer than a long night’s rest. Everything is not duty, and everything is not reaction, and I was reminded of that this morning. Some of it is reward. A reward I never remember earning, and yet is always there. It’s just a matter of my making the time to accept it.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Hey it's good to be back home again

I'm not sure I've ever been as happy to be here in my house as I am at this minute. I'm not sure I've ever been as happy to put gas in my car as I was this afternoon. I'm not sure I'll ever see the Ikea parking lot completely empty again, or Memorial Drive without any cars, or every store and restaurant closed. Yesterday, I could not get a cup of coffee. That was the extent of my inconvenience. Small as that is, it was still enough to make that cup of coffee this morning the sweetest to taste, and I enjoyed every warm sip with my newfound appreciation.

What I left with was not much. Something of my father's, my dog, clothes, the laptop. When I was faced with the question of what I couldn't live without, I discovered my answer. Because my life is spent with camera in hand and my house is covered with photos, I always thought I'd haul it all with me in the event of an emergency exit. I didn't even take the good cameras. The root of that decision is based on learning this year that most things in life can be replaced, except life itself.

It doesn't feel like any day in particular. The edges are blurry; one day has passed into the next without clear definition or, oddly enough, event. Still, normal will creep her way into the shape of tomorrow. And with each passing day, ordinary will continue to solidify. I think I'll look back at these past few days as being a pearlescent blur. Fitting I believe, since Rita is Greek for pearl.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I think this will be the last of this hurricane-related stuff, but who knows, I might find that I want to revisit it again and again

It's quiet here inside Mom's house. No sign of either hurricane we were dealing with last night. The power has come back too, so happily it's also very cool here in Mom's house.

On my mind is when the city will have gas and groceries return. The newsman says that looking for gasoline is like looking for Gold. He found a Shell station on 45 north, with a two-hour wait. There have been reports of fights at the gas pump, people at the end paying money to people in front to cut in the line, and guns being drawn. That might make me want to draw a gun as well. I don't think I would because I don't have a gun, but it might make me want to do so all the same.

I used some of my own precious tank full this afternoon to check out how my house fared. No power but otherwise doing okay. Lots of felled trees in the neighborhood though.

These are the last of my Rita-related photos.

Washington & Shepherd Neighbor's tree

Happy Hurricane Texas

And to wrap this up, something completely unrelated.

Happy Cheyenne

The morning after

Three things:

  1. There's been no power here since late last night, and as expected, a few trees are down, and the streets are covered in a carpet of pine needles. Other than that, I'm happy to say that all is well.
  2. I'd like to request that people stop saying that we dodged a bullet. I know it's a figure of speech but it's not applicable here because the subject (we) did not have the action on the direct object (bullet). The fact is that the bullet wobbled eastward.
  3. As seems to be an all too familiar thing as of late, my prayers and thoughts are with our neighbors to the east of Houston, and all over Louisiana.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Channel 11 says to Hunker down, Channel 2 says to Bunker down. I ask you, which is it? And are they doing this to me on purpose?

I've spent the night texting and IM-ing and generally keeping connected. The reason why I'm over here is sitting by the window, the open window, and reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I love her for that! The dogs are tired and sloppy, and very bored. All is okay. I think. I hope.

Reading it out

When will it get here

Sod it, I'm sleeping

Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a bumpy ride - and for the record I can go the rest of my life without ever again hearing HUNKER DOWN

Hurricane Rita could pass directly over this house as a Category 5 and she still wouldn't be able to hold a candle to the Category 5 going on inside this house, otherwise known as my mom. Having a powerful mom is one thing. Having a powerful mom in denial is another thing. Having a powerful mom on her 6th Scotch following three beers, combined with denial during a hurricane is something else entirely - as in she's handing me a one-way ticket to CRAZY, but also really helping me with my patience skills. A few hours ago she told me she'd be happy to buy dinner if I would go pick it up. (This said even though she's been watching CNN all day.) My response gently started with, Mom, I don't think you understand...

But just now when I tucked her into bed, she looked at me with her lost and sad eyes and whispered, I miss your father. And her words floated there a minute and I lost all my breath. And all denial and power, resitance and one-way tickets were tossed to the ever-gusting wind and I hugged her and told her that I missed him too. And that was sad and sweet and I got all caught up in that tenderness until she changed channels on me and her eyes lit up, and she said that she'd like for us to go to brunch in the morning. Get some sleep mom, there's a flashlight right here should you need it. I'll see you in the morning.

Riding the storm out

If I didn't know better, I'd say this was paradise. The air is an invitation of lightness. There are no cars on the road, no hum of traffic in the air. At the park, it was quiet enough for me to hear the breeze through the leaves. I look up and see the first bands.

Cloud bands

But a quick drive through my neighborhood reminds me that this is not paradise, this is that otherworldly calm before the storm. It's time to move on now. My prayers are with us all.

Sign of the times

Another sign of the times

It's the air in their heads that attracts them to each other

There's no reason for this post except that the photo makes me laugh. At a pre-hurricane, oh-my-god-we're-so-bored gathering at J&C's last night, I gave C her birthday present a few days early. Their gentle giant of a dog went nuts over the bubble wrap, and I do mean completely bonkers. That made Cheyenne do more than raise an eyebrow because in her mind he is NOT allowed to have something that she does not. And the seeds were thus planted for the insanity that is them.

Bubble wrap !!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Open call

It's bizarre to wait here when you know she's coming no matter where you are, and you know she's wide and swirling and stronger than you and couldn't give a care that you've boarded and taped your windows, or placed your prayers around your door with all the grace and devotion you have. She's going to swirl her broad and angry ass up your front lawn no matter what and you could leave but where would you go? Half the city is out there on the highway. Going nowhere. Priests and poets alike will run from her, but where will they go?

Me? My Christmas cards arrived in the mail this afternoon. It's laughable, but I'm sure it will matter to me later. It's an over-used word in general and especially today but, yeah, surreal would work. I spent the evening with friends, and was told by a stranger that I'm lucky to have done so. Agreed.

Still, there is a certain aloneness I feel. Is there anyone out there who would like to be the man in my life and calm this fear I have inside that I won't be able to take care of it all once this hits? All it would take is being there, running your fingers through my hair, saying ssshhhhhh, it's okay babe, it's okay. I think I'm kidding. But maybe I'm not.

C ya on the dry side

It's a beautiful day in Houston. Cool air this morning, a bright blue sky, a few lazy white clouds. No clue that today is the first full day of Autumn, but also nothing at all hints to what we all know is coming. Everyone is leaving, yet nothing is moving. It's taking over an hour to drive fifteen miles. This is surreal.

I flew in last night over long chains of traffic where there normally would be none. That was my first view of the reality. Driving home, I was one of a very few cars heading south. On the opposite side of the freeway, a gridlock of cars and trucks heading North. I went straight to the restaurant to meet friends for dinner and drinks. It's what we do when something is on the horizon, we gather to see and support each other - together, we've ridden through many storms literal and figurative over the years. Last night we were a somber group. Some gripped with fear, others having dread run through their veins. Each of us tired, burdened with sadness and stunned with disbelief. Conversation was not what I would call light. There were moments, yes, but the wave of the present would crest over us again and I'd look out over the table at these women, watching their eyes, seeing the desperation and the wait. Later, we stumbled through our good-byes, lingering a bit longer than normal, holding the hugs a bit tighter, promising to be careful, take care and check in.

This morning, I set out for extra bags of dog food. I passed long lines at the gas stations; other gas stations have the pumps wrapped and are boarded tight. Stores and restaurants along the way all are boarded and taped. Across the street from me a store's sign reads C YA ON THE DRY SIDE.

I'm unpacking and packing at the same time. Washing a load, drying it, and returning it to the suitcase. Thinking how convenient a luxury to turn a knob and have water flow freely, and even at the temperature I select.

I walk through my house and wonder if these walls will be here Saturday afternoon. I feel sure they will, but the thought snags me that people in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi thought the same thing a couple weeks ago. Confidence can be foolish so I pull things from surfaces, pull furniture to the center of the room.

Outside, I hear the helicopters overhead and the rhythmic beat of so many neighbors hammering plywood over their windows. That's been going on all morning.

And then the flipside: I call Mom to tell her I'll be over today to help her prepare her house, that I plan to ride the hurricane out with her. She tells me it will be nice to see me, that she has no plans for today or tomorrow, but she did make sure to get her hair done yesterday. I'm not sure she understands that Rita isn't an old friend coming through town for a visit.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair

There's so much that I could say about this trip. I could write about what my boss referred to as a dodgy part of town, and emerging from the BART terminal, lugging, dragging and coaxing our bags through the dodgy-ness and the Chess games going on at the flimsy picnic tables along Market street, or the sax player who asked for change, and then told me he takes credit cards. But doesn't give them back. Or I could write about how charming the Hotel Metropolis, how it was built in 1911 and completely refurbished in 2003 - and now it's called a Personality Hotel. Indeed, I could tell you that I was given a key, a metal key, big and square with my room number stamped on it, and how it felt heavy and nice in my hand, and I commented on the rarity of being given a key, and was told it was because my room was near the fire exit. And how I didn't really understand the logic of that until I got to my room to discover that my room was not near the exit, my room WAS the exit. And I could tell you that I fell down from laughter when I read the notice on back of my door that told me that in the event of a fire, the door would automatically unlock and guests would egress to safety through my room to the fire escape. I could tell you that I felt that I was being asked to host a party.

View from the fire escape Dodgy part

Or I could write about Saturday night in the Mission area a Mexican Tapas bar called Ramblas, and all the delightful and delicious little bits that we ordered and how insane it was to have food that good and that inexpensive, or maybe meeting the couple who work in the theatre and took us to Divalas, which has a room in the back called the Hideout Room that you can secretly smoke in and still get the bar service but more importantly has better speakers. Or maybe about my boss and I drinking champagne and smoking cigarettes on my fire escape at a very late hour because we both thought it was SO COOL to have a fire escape and even though it was late we were going to sit there and watch the city pulse around us because that's what they do in the movies.

Perfect view

Or, I don't know, I could write about the completely toursity Sunday I had doing all the things that when my friend lived here we never did because you avoid at all cost the Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 34 when you live here, which I do understand but the seals were so cute that I wanted to jump in the water and grab their whiskers and give them big fat kisses. I just might have done it as well, if the wind didn't shift and I got a whiff of those stinkers.

Cheyennes! Oh that itch is making me scratch

I could write about the Ferry Building Marketplace at Pier One and how it was modeled after the Campanile of the Cathedral of Seville, and how for years it was the centerpiece of the port of San Francisco but had been neglected when the bridges were built but ultimately preserved in 1998 by a group of visionary architects who created a place for the Bay Area’s agricultural bounty to be meshed with the specialty food purveyors under one roof of shops inside the building, and restaurants outside along the pier, something that would serve the commuters and not be as touristy as the rest of the piers. What a success! I could tell you how we strolled through the shops and I found perfect birthday presents for two friends dear to me, and how exiting that was even though I knew it meant more stuff to haul around the day. I could tell you how we admired and envied the presence of the small grocery co-ops displaying pyramids of heirloom tomatoes in yellow, orange and deep red, and the blue potatoes, and barrels of olives and locally made olive oils, or how we had oysters from the Bay of Tomales with the lightest champagne vinegar, jalapenos and shallots drizzled over them, and they were sweet and creamy with an oh so slight and perfect metallic taste.

Ferry Building Caviar Cafe

Or I could write about Colibri and how they have 110 tequilas and the best margaritas I've ever tasted and how we turned Sunday afternoon into Sunday night there and picked up our bags from the personality hotel way after the time we had intended to leave but if you've ever tasted Don Eduardo then you'd understand, and hey, we fell asleep on the BART on the way to Walnut Creek so that counts as a nap, and when we finally checked into our rooms at 11:00 and had to get up in six hours we really didn't care... until the waking up actually took place.

Tequila options

I could tell you all of that and more but I think what I want to say is that I have had a really kick ass week, and I'm pretty sure that if the other half of this picture is how hard I worked and how many meetings I had and how on top of it all I had to be, and was, then - to quote a certain someone in my life - happy days. Oh yeah.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Big fun and a run-on sentence

Have you ever found yourself on a Friday night in Denver when you’ve been working for three long days of meetings and you’re so wiped out that you have nothing left in your head and you really want to crawl in bed but you set out to dinner with your boss and the other people who converged on the city for three days of the gruel and your little group is seated outside to view the sun setting behind the Rockies and the air is cool but the roaring fire in the pit by your table warms you perfectly, and dinner is outstanding and conversation is about Egypt, South Africa and Mexico and the night turns out to be so lovely that you move on to a bar next door and at the bar your British boss who is your age and also your friend asks the bartender about shots and makes him stop when he mentions Leprechaun Piss and orders a round of those and you soon find yourself learning the game of Cricket using bar coasters as visuals for where the bowler and batter and runners are and realizing that when people say it’s like baseball that they have no idea what they’re talking about because this game is like no other and you catch yourself laughing so hard that your eyes are watering, and enjoying yourself so much that for a moment you forgot you were on a work trip and thought you were on a really good vacation? No? Well, you should try it some time. Happy days!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Heaven, here it is again

Outside my consolation prize window, there is a glowing ribbon of reddish orange along the peaks of the dark blue mountains. High above, long thin strands of cirrus clouds reflect purple and pink. It's 55 out there; in some surrounding areas, there is a frost advisory and the air is in the 30s and 40s. It's Fall out there! There is even a color report on the morning news, where to go this weekend to see the changing Aspen. That's something we don't get at home. The first day of Fall is not until next Wednesday. That's the calendar. At home, we won't feel it until mid-October. But here, Mother Nature jumped the starting line. You go, girl.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Let her true heart be contagious

Towards a Theology Based on Labrador Retrievers
- Tina Kelly

I am arguing in the affirmative: that the Creator moves among us today
in the form of a black lab named Addie.
Her benevolence is deeper
than the farthest foxhole, her gentleness thick as
husky fur. Were she human,
she would sort and fold strangers' clothing at the
laundromat. Were she only a dog,
she would not fetch without being asked. There is
abundance in her, like the butterfly
laying its eggs midair. Bountiful and democratic is
her spirit: she licks my hand
like a spa treatment, she sleeps, calm back flat by my
flank, breathing like a separate sea.
She dreams of the squirrel's flicking, scolding tail,
its visible neener neener neener.
Her vengeance is quick and awful. Yet love of
fellowship runs in her blood,
her song like the bird's that is only heard among
other birds. She has taught me
the help given to the soul by the mile-wide lawn
dotted with trees, by the tossed scrap.
I believe in her greetings, in the wide-maple way she
roams from one scent to another.
Bury me in this part of the park where the dogs run
without leashes, mix my ashes
with hers. Shield us in our joy, o protector, o
collar. Let her true heart be contagious.

The strange and unnecessary steps to a happy ending - a slice of life in seven acts

I. The Flight: It was a full flight. I had a window seat, exit row. No problem except for the guy in the middle who of course thought those arm rests were his, all his. That's a minor thing but I think that most of us know how direct-to-the-piss-me-off-nerves that it resides. Mid-way through the flight, I had to get up so I look at him, say Excuse me. He takes his pretzel bag and soda off his tray table. And that's it. I look at him. He looks at me. I roll my eyes and lift his tray table FOR HIM and go about my way. When I get back, we repeat the same routine. When he reaches out to put the tray table back, I pounce on the opportunity and put my arm on the back half of the arm rest. And since I'm so mature, I do not move my arm until it's time to land and I have to put my seatbelt back on. Small victories.

II. The Arrival: We've landed, people are getting their bags from above, the doors are open and first class is moving out. I'm standing; he's sitting. He looks at me and says, You don't have to get up yet, it's exactly eight and a half minutes from the time we get to the gate until we can get off the plane, and besides, it's 35 minutes until our baggage will be at the carousel. WHO ARE YOU, RAIN MAN? I tell him that I just want to stand up please. I do not tell him about all the other words that are jumping up and down in my head wanting to be freed.

III. Baggage Claim: I'm not eight feet into the airport when I hear my name being called on the PA system, to please come to Baggage Claim, Carousel One. I'm curious and they have something that I need, so I go. And I'm told by a man with a shame-on-you face that the FAA found your bag to be suspicious and have kept it in Houston. Okay then. I'm told that if nothing is found, it will be arriving on the evening flight and they'll send it to me. We go through some details and I'm on my way. I walk away thinking about suspicious. I know people who travel with suspicious all the time and their bags are never held. Oh well, nothing I can do.

IV. Car Rental: There are about a thousand people in the rental line and only two attendants. I'm trying to see that bright side, you know, like how good it is that I don't have my suitcase to haul with me every two inches we move forward per half hour. Finally it's my turn and we're doing the credit card and license bit. But wait, my license is expired. I cannot rent a car. Damn. It was on my list of things to do, get a new license since it expired on my birthday, oh, two months ago. And the attendant is apologizing to me. I tell her that this one is mine to own, hop the return shuttle and get myself a cab.

V. The Cab: He waves his arms at me because I cannot tell him how to get to Willow Drive. I tell him, firmly, that I AM THE GUEST FROM ANOTHER CITY AND HE IS THE CAB DRIVER FROM THIS CITY. He waves his arm at me again, gets on his radio, figures it out, and delivers me to the right spot. I am seething the entire way and stare holes into the back of his head.

VI. The Hotel: I check in, go to my room and damn if Goldilocks and the Three Bears doesn't come to mind because when I open the door, someone is sleeping in my bed. I look at him, wave my hand in the air, say, no problem, and shut the door quick. I'm insane now and it has all become very funny and I laugh the entire way back to reception.

VII. The Upside: The hotel on the other hand did not find it to be funny at all, so in exchange I'm writing this from an enormous suite on the top floor, with my curtains open to a view overlooking the Rocky Mountains. And since it snowed Tuesday night, they are especially beautiful. Silver lining indeed!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Thank you

Thank you God for that light show in the sky this morning. Amazing.

Thank you to all the friends who have called and emailed lately after visiting here. And thank you for the shared excitement over the new college kid's grades.

Special thanks to Gus: I appreciate that you keep all the gifts I've given you over the years, but if you watched that champagne stopper shut down on my hand to the point of bleeding, TWICE, and it's now doing the same thing to you, girl, THROW IT AWAY.

She knew

She knew that you did not have to see something to know it. That you could feel the earth shaking for you when no one felt anything at all.

C.P. Rosenthal

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

... and it keeps getting better

She texts me: Can I call u?

I text back: Yep.

I keep the phone in my hand because I don't know how she is and I immediately worry. Is she okay? Where is she? Did someone hurt her? It rings and I pounce on it.


That's not true. I wrote that she said it? It was actually somewhere between screaming and singing.

She has now realized that it's the mystery of college that makes you come unglued before you get there. I had told her that if she applies the same discipline that she did in high school, she'll do just fine. Now she knows it. I'm proud of her. She knows that too.

From one day to another, oh the difference

Driving to work this morning, I saw grace and gratitude hanging out in a truck. Good or bad, damn if humanity doesn't blow me away sometimes. And this, this was good. Ahead of me was a guy driving a truck with Louisiana license plates and a Texas flag hung in the back window. Handwritten on a piece of paper affixed beneath the flag were these words: Thank you!

Texas Louisiana

Sunday, September 11, 2005

They make movies out of this stuff, and the movies make people scream

My friend tells me I'm to blame. I shake my head at her. I'm not talking about it to find blame, I'm talking about it to find understanding. But what she says is exactly indicative of why this has my head spinning in the first place. So I argue back. I am not responsible for someone else's emotions, not responsible for what they deny or lie about, to themselves or me. She says I should have known better. She says everybody knew. Perhaps she's right. But what would it have stopped? And how accountable are you if you believe what someone says? Are you to blame if the truth is not theirs?

As much as this hurts me, and it hurts like hell, the saddest thing is not that I've lost a friend, but waking up and realizing that what I thought was there, never was. I turn my head back to the past and question everything, review it, doubt its origins. What have I learned? I've learned that some people use niceness and generosity to work their way into your life because they want something from you, and just because you don't see those strings it does not mean they aren't there. I've learned that it's very difficult to keep your sanity when it's all tallied and thrown back at you.

I realize how strange the world is when what I thought was a friendship in reality was a game of fantasy, ownership and territory. I have cried my eyes out today, because it is a sad sad thing to learn and I'd rather not know firsthand that there are people out there who will manipulate you in hopes of changing the way you feel. And that they'll do it in the guise of friendship.

There are times when I hate this world. This is one of them.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Not without my dog

On my drive home from work, I pass a freeway sign lit up like Las Vegas with the blinking message, "I-10 CLOSED AT NEW ORLEANS / HWY 12 CLOSED AT SLIDELL"

I look at that sign and drive on to Target where I buy bags and bags of dog food to bring to the SPCA. I can't get the images of the dogs out of my head. The pet segments on CNN, FOX, the Today Show, World News Tonight, they shred my heart. The CNN reporter says, you can hear dogs barking for miles. I hear her saying it over and over. My stomach lurches to my throat.

At the SPCA, the inventory of food, water, dog beds, bowls, etc., was amazing in size. The stacks of dog food were piled taller than me and even though no one has ever called me tall, for a stack of dog food, it's damn tall. I watched a man with a sweat-soaked shirt and a wooden cross dangling from his neck as he stacked the pallets that would be lifted into the trucks. For the moment, I felt him in my heart. He was part of a team filling the huge rigs waiting to bring food and water to outlying shelters and hungry pets who have no idea what has happened to them. Then I came home and fed Cheyenne. I told her that she was a lucky dog. She looked at me with her head cocked to the side as if to say, when is she going to learn that I cannot understand her words, I just want to be fed.

I understand the ones who won't leave without their dogs. I don't think it's that they won't, I think it's that they can't. I would be that person. I hope against hope that all the pets get reconnected with their families. It's impossible, childish to want. Nonetheless, I do.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Blue lights shining over me

What led me to this town
Room to roam but no place called home
Dazed at first but shaking off the Sunday gloom
What led me to this town

Such a lazy afternoon
Eight shades of gray and I can taste the rain
Oh, how high the lovely have flown
What led me to this town

Blue lights shining over my life
Blue lights shining over me

Sometimes I can't get free
When you're standing right there in front of me
I woke up one day and my dreams were gone
What led me to this town

Blue lights shining over my life
Blue lights shining over me


Thursday, September 08, 2005

But wait, there's more

Peros Peaceful Shopping Yankees fanA long road on a small bike

Fair enough to say about these that my big camera (film) can outshoot my little camera (digital) any day. Or maybe it's just because I was either sitting or standing still when I took these. Either way, these are my favorites from the trip. Which is apropos since they are of the things I love most there: The people, the water, the mountains, and the dogs.

September morn

The change is immediately noticeable, from August mornings to September. September's dawns are full of color, pinks and glowing oranges reaching out across the sky. Seeing the dawn this morning stirred my imagination and my promise. I smiled knowing that this same colorful sunrise is dawning over the mountains of Pto. Escondido. I smiled knowing that this morning beauty is everywhere. This morning I'm reminded that we tend to rely on what we think is important. I rely on the promise of the morning because I think it's important to know that every day we're given the chance to get it right. Every day we can choose a different path, a different answer, a better way. Or we can work to stay better connected to paths that are right in our lives. Everyday though, we do have a choice. That's what the September sunrises tell me.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bienvenidas a Puerto Escondido

For the past six days, I've been without the internet and without television. I've been without news and without connection to home. At the time I left, I knew that would be the case and I had to accept it as such. I had to put aside the mixed feelings over the timing of this trip and the devastation at home, and get on the plane. And once I got on that plane, I had to allow myself to fully be where I was.

IMG_0511 Playa Zicatela

What I found in those six days is, for the most part, blue skies, fat white clouds, enormous Pacific waves, a heat that makes Houston in August seem like a cool and reasonable climate, and an occasional night rain storm with a lightening show across dark waters stretching to the horizon.

I traveled on the back of a motorcycle along Mexico's coastal highway, with the wind in my hair, my belongings in my backpack, and my camera at my side. (There was also a pesky wasp that decided to travel with us for a spell and was quite content to sting me and completely freak me out, but that's another story for another time.)

Open road 2 Open Road 3

I was far away from my native language, getting reacquainted with my Spanish. I saw faces and friends I've not seen in years, and again heard my name pronounced, Aleesone. I've looked out over green mountains and walked along uneven streets, turning my head from the enormous Estrella Blanca buses belching black clouds of smoke as they climbed up the hills. I've fallen asleep to the sound of the crashing surf to the west, and awakened to the drums from the military base on the mountain side to the east.

Playa Marinara Pave around the tree

I've been far away from the American tourism but still strolled past stall after stall of tee shirts and sea shells, sandals and belts, woven bags and hammocks, necklaces, postcards and suntan oil, the vendors unseen sitting in the shade but heard whispering like hissing snakes, borato, borato, BORATO, as we passed by.

Laguna Malotepec Dos mas por favor

I've had Modelo, Corona, and Dos XX. Each day as cold and perfect as the day before, with the best limes in the world.

I've strolled the neighborhood that used to claim me. I've stared out at the Pacific that used to be my view every day, and I searched for shade from the cruel heat. I remembered why siesta is between 2:00 and 4:00, and that the town shuts down between those hours. There is no air conditioning; there is no choice.

Playa Bococho 2 IMG_0519

I've had my feet in the Pacific water, my eyes following the flight graceful Pelicans dangerously close to the cresting waves, and my ears on the breeze through the great Palm fronds above me. I've watched puesta del sol, as I have a hundred times here, and had it steal my breath away just as it did the first time.

I returned to the place where my father brought me ten years ago. We went then for the fishing. I had no idea that day we left Mexico City that my life was about to change. But I knew when we arrived. And I knew again when we arrived this time. I had returned to the place where I first learned to calm the storms, to be perfectly still and let peace inside. Though not earth moving, the change this time was in the return, was in the simplicity awaiting for me to be reminded of. It's ever-present and always true.

I returned to a place I'll always call home, and just as I thought I would, I found a piece of myself there. And left a piece of my heart behind.

Playa Bococho 1 Pasada del Sol