Saturday, October 30, 2004

Time Warp Times Two

So I return home from Santa Clara, and open the fridge to crack a brew. Nothing had changed in there in the five days I had been gone--nothing. Same amount of milk in the gallon jug. Yogurt containers, luncheon meat, tortillas, all remained as I had arranged them straight from the grocery bag before I departed. Same leftover roasted veggies on the top shelf (well, that makes sense--M's not a leftover eater, and I was grateful--it was a lovely quick dindin that night). How eating take-out food when not on the road is possible is beyond me. But that's M. He's a world-class connoisseur of the microwaved burrito, and he can grill with the best of 'em when we entertain, but cooking for himself is just not an option.

For months--months, oy--I've had a number of boxes piled in my craft room, filled with the flotsam of my past, mostly letters and photos. I decided to liberate them from the rafters in the garage, and the dangers posed by starving, crapping, birthing feral cats, heat, moisture, and marauding spiders. It's not much, come to think of it, considering how old I am. But I can pare it down. For instance, there was this card:

Sweetest of hearts, sister-in-spirit, Suzanne--I have adored walking beside your ths past year as we have labored together, birthing our new selves, on this road less travelled. I wish us years more sisterly secrets, girlish good times, and glorious celebration of our mutually strong, tender woman-ness
--Loving you, Ja-Ja

Who the hell is Ja-Ja?? It's been driving me crazy. I also found an article on an acquaintance of mine from that time period, Alan Ball, where he mentions a friend of his who was also my therapist very briefly (who really helped with a brewing eating disorder). Her name was Janet. Could that have been Ja-Ja? God, I hope so.

This life excavation is supposed to help with the writing of my novel, set in the late '70s, but it's having a chilling effect instead. When I read my high school English journal, my diary, and lame attempts at creative writing, I cringe. It hardly makes me want to delve into that part of my life all over again...

Rex in the Tub
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.

Happy birthday to Rex! Our little black and tan mutt turns 28 (in dog years) on Halloween.

A third time warp? The clock falls back a hour tonight. We just returned from a march up the hill, admiring the last orange light limning the fog hovering over Sebastopol and beyond. It reminded me of when I was just a wee suburbanite in San Bernardino, begging Mom to drive me to the top of an undeveloped hill where I could ooh and aww over the lights sprawling below us. I'm going to miss the later sunsets.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Hangin' with Stewart Copeland

suzanne and stewart
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
I'm not much of a fan-type, but I was nervous posing with Stewart Copeland He was very gracious, however.

Thanks to Scott Sheppard for snapping the shot, and thanks to my friend Chris for the fab idea of having Stewart sign my conference name badge. I'll never wash this badge again!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Paging Mr. Sandman

So I think I jinxed myself. I haven't been sleeping well here at the hotel for the last few nights. Maybe I watched too much "Extreme Plastic Surgery." (How is it that TV viewers in this nation can support this show on the same night that "The Swan" is on? These trips always confirm that cutting my cable was the right thing to do.)

I remember tossing and turning because M. mentioned during our regular evening call that our neighbors still haven't put up a shelter for their dog. They keep it permanently tied up in their backyard. Guess they figured that since they paid good money for a purebred chocolate lab, why pay it any attention? The dog didn't have shade during the summer, and now that the rains have come, his run has been turned into a mud pit with no dry place to hang out. I keep waiting for them to do the right thing. I don't want to start a "war" and lord knows I'm bad at confrontation. But their dog needs a dry spot. Do I make an anonymous call to the animal shelter? Offer to buy them a canopy? Offer to buy their dog? We had a hard time lounging on our new deck over the summer--the neighbor's dog barked loudly, pitifully, and constantly, begging for attention from his humans. Why do people like my neighbors even get dogs?

I also confess to wedding stress. I want my guests to be happy and comfortable. I'm afraid it will be hot, that the food won't be good, that'll they'll do too much work and not enjoy themselves. That they won't mingle. That I won't invite some people and they'll be offended. And mostly, that they won't have fun and will wonder why the

During my walk yesterday along the corporate canyons of Santa Clara, I worried about these nuptial details, but also found myself getting a little excited. And I felt a little silly about this. After all, this is my second trip to the altar, I'm middle-aged, too old to be thrilled by this sort of thing. And then I thought--why the hell not? Why shouldn't I let myself be swept up in this emotion--go ga-ga over dresses and decorations, get choked up writing my vows, smile happily to myself when I see a wedding party with seven bridesmaids in silver dresses posing for pix outside the hotel? Even sending off the signed contract to the reception venue yesterday gave me a little shiver. I (please god) won't ever have another wedding. A little giddy is good for me.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Conference Ahoy

View from the Westin Santa Clara
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
I'm in Santa Clara for my conference, thankfully the last one til March. It's a familiar and comfortable place, so very little stress. When I first started this job, rashes would bloom across my belly every conference, and I'd barely be able to sleep. Now, my Tylenol PM remains in the bottle and my anti-itch cream stays be-tubed.

I did have two strange dreams last night, which I'm blaming on conference stress. In one, my ex popped the question again, and thinking it what a spontaneous idea it was, I went for it. When I woke up in my dream, I realized what an idiot I had been to do such a thing. What would M. think? How could I get out of it? OK, maybe I can't blame the conference for that one.

In my other dream, I was moving gardening tools in at a remote farm, when a short, older man pulled up in a car. When he got out, I knew he was a serial killer, after me. His weapon? A broken cinder block. There I was with my various spading forks and other menacing tools--I coulda taken him, but instead I was terrified. Kinda like when the expendable chicks in the old monster flicks can't seem to escape the slow-moving mummy.

So, there I was at 4:30 a.m. last night, tossing and turning after these dreams. So now I'm tired, wondering why I never seem to remember my happy dreams. Well, hopefully I'll wander off to the Land of Nod without incident tonight, waking refreshed for our first day of the conference.


Thanks to M. for this tasty link.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Unrelated Paragraphs
well, I guess they're related to me...

It's fall, a season that always gets me questioning my choices and makes me a bit restless. Seems like most of my life's transitions have happened during fall, but I don't have much churning now. Is that good or bad? Well, M.'s in law school now and has a new job, so that a big change I suppose--but it's not direct action on my part. I've been working hard to arrange my life to maximize my sense of completeness, so maybe I shouldn't be worried about my niggling sense of unrest...

M. and I took Rex for a rainy walk on the hill Saturday morning. The menthol from the eucalyptus was intoxicating, and the formerly brittle grass was supple and slippery under our feet. We felt more than saw a golden blur at our feet. Twenty feet away, Rex was oblivious to the rabbit--Jack got lucky that day. The hills felt different in the rain, quieter, darker. Trudging through the springy leaf layer under the oaks, I thought of David Lynch's movie, "Blue Velvet," specifically the opening scene that follows ants into the earth. I wanted to speed time to see the leaves disintegrating into the ground, seeping into the oak roots, then feeding new leaves. It rained during our walk, made the hot shower feel even better afterward. I'm so grateful for the rain--washed away the ash and smoke from the Rumsey fire (photo).

Maybe it's the fall restlessness that prompted a conversation with M. about our home on Saturday. Specifically, do we fix up and stay, or let it go with the idea of moving after he graduates from law school. He's trying to convince me that we should make our home as beautiful as it can be, because we won't be able to afford anything else unless we move out of the area. An expensive proposition, because our home is pretty damn homely. I think we could make it quite nice however, except for one thing: there's not enough room in the house for more than three people to eat comfortably. We could knock out the back wall and extend the kitchen/dining area 5 or so feet, but the money that would take makes me cringe. And with all the construction going on around us, do we want to continue living here? Our 'hood is the embodiment of high-density IMBY--homes are filling in all the open spaces In My Back Yard, just as the planning commission, well, planned.

Went to the library book sale on Sunday, half-price day. Nothing like a large hall full of books to browse to soothe the soul. For less than a fiver I schelped home six books for M.'s friend in Iraq and two books for me--Emily Post's wedding etiquette and a booklet on stain removal. I walked over to the Fairgrounds where the sale was happening, and got caught in a downpour on the way home, so I did what any rational person would do: made a huge mug of camomile tea, changed into snuggly lounge attire* and parked my butt in front of the tube. I watched the final hour and a half of "The Wonderful, Horrible life of Leni Riefenstahl." Not too uplifting, but she was a pretty amazing woman, no doubt about that. I don't do much TV anymore, though. In fact, I've just reduced my Netflix account to four movies a month. There was a time in my life when I thought so little TV would be impossible, but I truly don't miss it.

*gray fleece pants, sweatshirt, hand-knitted wool socks. Yes, M. and I have matching outfits. But this, thankfully, is the only one.

M. just called. "You won't be happy when you get home," he tells me. And he thinks he has no flair for the dramatic. "What?" I ask. The dog died? The new French drain that turned into a patio and deck isn't working? The roof caved in? The cats scratched up our new expensive chair? "They put up the orange netting 'fence' up on the hill for the synagogue construction. It's only about 35 yards off our back fence." "Are you surprised?" I ask. I've been pessimistic about this all along--we'll be looking at their parking lot this time next year. Another reason not to stay where we are. M.'s been contending that we won't even see it. How I wish he could be right.

Tonight marks the third night in a row that I'm ushering at the Luther Burbank Center (Friday was a Gingrich/Reich debate, Saturday a flamenco performance, tonight a string quartet--nice variety at least). This means three beer-free nights, though I was sorely tempted to join Cathleen in a glass of wine when we luncheoned at Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg on Saturday. My liver is probably ready to crawl out of my body and give me a hug--it's been a while since I've given it this much of a break.

If I blog it, will I do it? I've been after M. and my brother to go on Hollywood Squares and try to earn some extra cash. Why the hell not, right? But for some reason, they haven't seemed too enthusiastic. So I'm going to take my own advice and make an appointment to audition for the show when I'm in San Diego next spring. I do feel at a disadvantage, not having TV to do some research. Maybe I'll try to tune in when I'm up at my mom's next month.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

In the Locker Room, Part II

Sweet Handsome Bastard TomCat
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.

In addition to the sweaty, stinky dance of disrobing I'm forced to perform with Barbie most Tuesdays and Thursdays in the gym's locker room, there's another reason I'm changing my locker location: the flyers on the shelf just adjacent, where I park my towel and shampoo. Most days there's good stuff--voting pamphlets, old "People" magazines, postcards for upcoming theatrical performances. But one or more denizens of this locker room is involved in animal rights, so brochures for PETA and AAVS appear regularly too.

I absolutely support these organizations, and I'm glad there are people who have the determination to further these issues. But many times the publications use very graphic photos, and it upsets me tremendously. (While wine-tasting one day last year, I came across Pit's Letter at Roshambo Winery and was devastated for two days.) Vivisection and factory farming are just pits of cruelty and torture, and the idea that most people think it's just fine is also upsetting. How can people of good conscience perpetuate these practices? While there may be instances when scientific experimentation is necessary, surely it can be reduced to minimal levels.

I think what bothers me the most is the idea of utter helplessness, with no possible opportunity for deliverance. (Why animals and not people? Don't get me wrong, my heart aches for human suffering as well. But everyone agrees it's wrong and should be stopped--the same cannot be said for animal suffering.) Sometimes, when I rub my dog's belly or when my cat lolls on his back in sun, I can't help but imagine them on a surgical table, in pain, dying slowly and miserably. For some reason, when I feel stressed out (like lately), these images haunt me, keep me awake. I also can't push away feelings of self-loathing for not doing something about it--but I would lead a life filled with despair. I simply don't have the courage to confront these issues in a constructive, personal way on a regular basis.

I'm not sure if reincarnation is what happens when we die, but occasionally I find comfort in the thought that the animals being tortured alive might contain the souls of those who have previously tortured others. But in my heart I suspect there is no justice in the after-life (there may not even be one)--and the randomness makes it all the more heartbreaking.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Happy Anniversary to PWG

Last night's meeting marked the first anniversary of the Petaluma Writers Group. I cannot say enough about how much gathering with Julia and Rebecca twice a month or more has changed my life. They are both wonderful writers and wonderful women--they work fulltime, care for their families, and make time to "fill the well," as another famous Julia has said. I don't know how they do it--I'm so humbled by their energy, intelligence, and creativity, and so grateful to be a part of the club! Thank you, my fellow writers, for your inspiration.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

"I Do" Hunting

Arroyo Room
Originally uploaded by suzipaw.
M.and I spent the weekend with one of my brothers and his family, researching spots for a-marryin'. We're doing it in Chico--we met there, he was born there, his family has fond memories of Chico. (The wedding "cake"--three tiers of Mom's superb cheesecake engineered into traditional form--is also his call. I don't ever want to hear him say he's just a groom with no involvement other than just showing up!)

Chico is a lovely little town. Only big drawback will be the heat. And the fact that the place we like best for the acutal ceremony, the Stansbury Home, only holds 50 people. I'm tempted to leave it to fate--half of the people on my list surely will find something better to do, right? I'm trying to fight superstition while embracing fate: after touring the Stansbury Home, I purchased a commemorative plate to help support the place, and put it in a bag in our trunk for the ride home. M. didn't realize that there was something fragile in the bag, and wasn't careful unpacking the trunk, and the plate broke. I'm hoping that's not a sign...

We're thinking of the Arroyo Room for the reception. At first I just wanted to get it all catered so guests could relax rather than cooking and cleaning. But I think of how much fun I could have getting the room ready and do the food myself--well, with lots of help, of course.

It's funny how our plans changed after actually visiting some of the sites we were considering. The Bidwell Mansion isn't suitable at all, too close to traffic. My brother was very persuasive as to the day's timing--we were thinking about a noon wedding followed by a catered lunch, and now we're leaning towards an evening wedding followed by a do-it-yourself dinner.

The other aspect Chico satisfies is my odd desire to have a procession. I want to walk with my guests from the wedding to the reception. When we were thinking about having the wedding during the day, I wanted us all to parade in public with white paper parasols. Don't think that will work now...Why do I see this in my mind's eye and as I envision The Big Day? Am I trying to be a spectacle, draw attention to myself? Well, I guess that's what getting married is all about, to a certain extent.