Monday, March 31, 2008

"Filling the Well"

Originally uploaded by suzipaw
I believe it was Julia Cameron (not Julia Margaret Cameron) who wrote, essentially, that output needs input. Or, in other words, robust inspiration could contribute to better creativity.

So this weekend I tried to fill my well, as JC advises:

Saturday morning: Glass fusing class, the fastest three hours I think I've spent in my life. One minute it’s 10:40 a.m., the next it's 12:40 p.m. and time to pack up the translucent shards. I have many, many more ideas. This photo above may be a nightlight. If it doesn't explode in the kiln or something.

(I was having the perfect day there, for a moment, but speaking of exploding…As I leave the parking lot after class, "Funky Town" comes on, my favorite pick-me-up ever. Life is too good…too good. As I prepare to cross an intersection, a Volvo (you people are supposed to be safe!) starts to make a left turn in front of me. I slow and honk and he stops, T-bone averted. But the pedestrian on the corner, disturbed in her cell phone conversation by the mighty cry of the Monster Mobile, screams, "What are you honking at BITCH?" I hear her because my windows are down to let Funky Town shower the world with love, and I don't acknowledge her because I'm totally freaked by the near-accident, but my mood is ruined and of course the next half-hour of errands is spent in Walter Middyish fantasies of spiking that woman's phone off the curb or holding it hostage until she apologizes or doing her some serious bodily harm…I fear I will never be able to be the Dalai Lama's friend…)

Saturday afternoon: Packing for a Pointy Pals sleepover, a nap. Holy canoli, that never happens. Fiber-rich dinner with M.

Saturday evening: A trip to Frank Lloyd Wright's Marin Civic Center with the PPs plus members of Julia's book group to see and hear Anne Lamott and Elizabeth Gilbert. One new acquaintance makes a comment about how she'd like to purvey my felted items in the gift store she's opening soon. I don't take it seriously, but still I am cheered and honored. The writerly conversation is most excellent, the audience demographic predictable (women between the ages of 30 and 65--maybe 50 men in the sold-out 3000-seat auditorium) and Julia talks us into staying for author autographs and a photo.
Saturday night: The PPs adjourn to Julia's ancestral abode, a fabulous late-'60s pad perched on a hillside in picturesque Kentfield. Her mom is a wonderful fiber artist, crafting baskets of garden hoses, day-glo zipties, torn and painted canvas, her father's clothing after he passed away, plastic take-out containers, and one of my favorites, zippers:
Sunday morning: Fabulous breakfast before the brunch crowd at Half Day Café, perusal of the goods of a gourmet local grocery, then back to the house for writing time. I'm working on something, no idea how it will turn out. Rebecca and I had dared each other to submit to A Prairie Home Companion's sonnet contest while waiting to use the restroom in the Civic Center the night before, so I work on that for a while too.

Sunday afternoon: Restless, I depart. Stop at a mall on the way home to try to purchase the newest piece from the Eva Zeisel line, only to discover Crate & Barrel has fled this particular mall. Pursuit will continue in a couple of weeks when I'm in the City for a conference. I return home, squish bugs on the roses, walk the dog with M.

Sunday evening: A nice dinner with M. We watch Schultze Gets the Blues, which I recommend, if for nothing than for the pace, the salt lamps, the single camera shots, and the loving portraits of Cajuns.

And then, well, today was Monday. Two days sans laptop is pretty weird for me.


Law School countdown:
One more class meeting
Two more finals
One graduation
One performance exam seminar
One Bar review course
One Bar exam
One excruciating waiting period for results

The sum of four years of law school

How did we get here?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Random Things I've Been Forgetting to Post About

Most importantly, I know you've been wondering--the biopsy on the polyp came back negative. So all is hunky dory and stress can now focus with laserlike precision on M passing finals and then taking the Bar. He's in his fourth-to-last class ever of law school tonight. He's excited about not being a student anymore, though I think he really loves it, but it's also a big change into the unknown for him. I know I haven't been helping--I've been antsy for him to get a real *&^##$ paying job for oh a couple of years now, no pressure. But I'm excited for him too and so proud that he stuck it out and is achieving something that took genuine perseverance. I certainly couldn't have done it…

It's been a particularly lovely year for flowering trees, and the trees (not sure what kind they are) in the parking lot at work have been depositing a veritable snowstorm of petals in the parking lot every day. I leave my windows cracked to keep the Monster Mobile aired, and when I open the car door in the evening, the seat and armrests and dash are strewn with round white petals. I suspect my luxury automobile waits long enough to make sure I'm safely upstairs and staring at a computer screen, then peels out of the parking lot and crashes the nearest wine country wedding, spending the day drinking champagne and dancing hava nagila the while I slave away to provide it with gas and insurance…

On the cliff
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
Sunday we drove out to beautiful Bodega Head. Not too much wind for the headlands and good visibility made for a spectacular and comfortable walk around the point. Buttercups, purple lupin, poppies, iris and white and pink iceplant were all blooming in pastel Easter hues. We were bad parents and left the dog behind at the house, but it was nice not to have to worry about his needs or finding a dog-friendly beach. The countryside is so lovely here in the spring, lots of happy cows lolling about in green pastures, old Victorian farmhouses, slow windy roads, stands of mysterious cypress. On the way home we stopped at a crusty old Italian restaurant in Valley Ford that's probably been around for nearly a century with a particularly dark and divey bar, where we ate while watching motocross on the big TV in the corner. M and I have been discussing whether or not to resume cable television service once he's done with school. It's the thought of spending too many hours on a beautiful day in a darkened room getting my brain sucked away for no good reason that has me voting against it.

It was funny--we found out later that at least three other friends were also out at Bodega Head at the same time we were, but despite the narrow, single loop of trail, we didn't run into anyone we knew.

Another good thing--M was a student rep for a Bar review company for lo these many years of school. If he sold three review courses, he'd get his for free, so worth a lot of dough. He finally closed his last one just a couple of days ago, thank goodness. Oh, I did have a new experience while at the Pine Cone on Saturday--I tried oatmeal for the first time! It was pretty good, for oatmeal. I think it's mostly just a vehicle for butter, dried fruit, brown sugar, and other tasty stuff. But like golf, my mind has come around a bit to something I always thought I despised. I leave you with this yay!: I'm starting my glass fusing class on Saturday.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Spring

Pine Cone
Originally uploaded by suzipaw
(It's a beautiful weekend. I wrote most of this yesterday. I hope to be outside most of the rest of the day.)

M surprised me last night with good news--because he has next week off from teaching, he would be able to study then rather over the weekend, meaning we could spend both days together, which is a pretty rare occurrence. What to do? How not to squander the time? We did sort of lavishly let today slip away--we slept in, I did a few chores while he really slept in. We spent a lot of time discussing how we should spend our time… and then decided to have breakfast (at um, noon) at the Pine Cone, one of our favorite diners in Sebastopol, a place where we've chowed regularly since moving back to California, and a place that has obviously seen a lot of years and patrons. We were dismayed to find out that today was its last day in operation! I think another restaurant will take its place, and it really does need to have the leaky ceiling repaired, duct-taped banquettes replaced, and please no more burnt-hair-looking things in my Potato Delight. But still, one more reasonably priced sliver of unpretentious Sonoma County bites the dust, sigh. Or maybe I should be more optimistic--it's not impossible to think that a pleasant new eatery could inhabit that spot. It's spring, keep hope alive!

On the way home, M and I stopped at a nursery and farm supply store I'd wanted to visit for some time, and just never had. We've been in the market for new containers to replace the rotting and gopher-chomped wine barrels that current form the boundaries of my gardening efforts, and settled on the galvanized steel livestock watering troughs. They didn't have them at the first place (though I did pick up a couple of tomato plants, Oregon Spring and Sun Gold). The ranch and vineyard supply place down the highway did have them, however, so we pulled the trigger. I think we're going to need one more. And it's going to be several weekends worth of effort--we need to break down the barrels (I'm trying to think of something arty to do with the hoops, level a little more of the area behind the back deck that the barrels are currently occupying since the troughs are wider, and then of course, haul in and fill them with dirt. A lot of dirt. I want it to be better quality than the stuff we filled the barrels with initially.

We're also seriously talking about actively trying to adversely possess the six feet of yard between our back fence and the synagogue's fence. Apparently all we have to do is take down our fence, extend our side fences back to theirs and use the space for five years, then file a claim that it's ours. Of course, I have no idea what happens if the synagogue opposes our claim, or tells us not to trespass on the space during the five years, but what the hell, better to ask forgiveness than permission I suppose.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More Firsts

First of all, happy St. Patrick's Day. My half birthday (and so Susi's too), incidentally.

In no particular order:

It hailed this weekend. I know. Most of my readers will think to themselves, "And? So?" but this is a big deal here near the coast. M, who was driving home through the crazy weather, reported that people were so freaked they had to pull off the highway. Rex ran out into it, barking and biting at the hail pebbles pelting him, it was quite amusing. M scraped the hailball off the Monster Mobile, which so thoughtfully gathered the rounded bits of frozen heaven for our amusement.

You know how supposedly it's impolite to yak on one's cell phone while "interacting" with a cashier or other service person? (I think it's really rude, anyway…) While I was waiting for M's procedure to be completed last Friday, I wandered down to the hospital cafeteria to imbibe some caffeine and get some work done. Amazingly, the lady steaming my latte was the one on the phone! Plenty of people in there, too, wasn't like it was her, me, and the espresso machine. And the latte? The *worst* I'd ever had. Four dollars and far too few sips later, I abandoned it at the bottom of the waste basket in the endoscopy waiting room. (I did have a few beautiful moments, though, thanks to that purchase. The hospital squats by a creek, and as I stood outside the cafeteria door vainly trying to suck down the latte, a bright breeze shook petals from the cherry tree, presaging the hailstorm to come later that weekend…)

On the way to school to study and work on Sunday morning, M and I stopped by our local Vets Memorial Hall. The Lionesses were having a pancake breakfast and classic car show--of course. The usual event pairing. Not many classic autos were there when we arrived, but a fine showing of '57 Tbirds as we departed, a couple of Studebakers, a Cadillac far more vintage than the MM. I don't think I've ever been to a pancake breakfast before. Wasn't much for me to eat besides pancakes, but it was nice sitting at long tables with strangers from the neighborhood, boy scouts roaming the aisles looking a bit untethered and awkward, volunteers hawking raffle tickets for gently worn donations, firefighters cramming in the door in droves soon after we arrived. Like the Santa Rosa I remembered from my youth, I suppose.


Felicia and Andrew are coming for dinner Wednesday night. What shall we serve?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"The Heartbreaking Inability to Sustain Contentment"

That's a phrase that really rang in my mind last night reading "Eat Pray Love" which apparently every woman in the universe has finished but me. It was assigned reading from my writers group, since we're seeing (and hearing) Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne Lamott at the Marin Civic Center later this month. The phrase comes from the India section, during her discussion of the Yogic path and the human condition. I do feel that phrase is often true for me, though some of my discontented phases are more heartbreaking than others. And since I'm practically a professional blamer, I usually point the finger at outside sources, chief among them the fact that I have to work for a living, conveniently leaving my own acceptance of responsibility out of the equation. Though overall, I think I'm stringing together longer moments of contentment, thank goodness, probably one of the best things about getting older and hopefully getting smarter, or at any rate understanding better what makes me happy.

On a sort of related note, there's a gal at work who has just quit. She's managed to arrange her affairs so that she doesn't have to find a job for a few months, giving her space to explore what she really wants to do, kind of like what's happening in EPL. So questioning and trying to intentionally pursue one's bliss and/or profession seems to be a theme swirling around me lately. Because I've been so stressed about work lately, I too have been questioning my job choice. But on the bright side, I recognize that I'm still learning a lot and enjoying the people I work with, even more so in the last couple of months, and that makes me happy.

As an aside, I loved the Italian section of EPL, but not so much with the India part. I'm always a little leery of people going all googly over God and so far the section is more externally descriptive of the spiritual part of her journey, and that's not as compelling for me. Yet, like Jhumpa Lahiri's, I find Gilbert's style very inspiring.

And on another related note, after the Lamott/Gilbert reading, the Pointy Pals are planning a mini-writers retreat at Julia's family's Stinson beach house, which I'm looking forward to immensely. That day also happens to mark the start of my glass fusing class, so I'm sure I'll be feeling extraordinarily creative that day. Who knows, maybe I'll actually finally start that writing project I meant to work on this year...


Good news on the health front: M had a colonoscopy, and everything is looking pretty good. The doc did lasso a polyp and we'll know the results of the biopsy late next week. But as far as the diverticulosis is concerned, he just needs to maintain a high fiber diet and surgery probably won't be necessary, and certainly not in the near term. Whew. We're both feeling much relieved. Now he can get back to worrying about finals, the Bar review, and the Bar exam itself. No problem. He's back at studying today, getting into the swing of that routine again, and that makes me very happy.


As noted earlier in this post, I've been feeling very cruddy about work recently, and it's been weighing on my weekends, so on Sunday M leapt into action to take my mind off the office. We went out to our favorite flea market, ate burritos (high in fiber!) at a very crunchy West County joint, and then on a whim on the way home, he suggested we stop at the driving range. I have never in my life golfed aside from the miniature variety, and never really wanted to, but I was up for the adventure, intimidated and improperly dressed as I was. I'm happy to report that I did not bean anyone with the driver, 8 iron, or golf ball, and though my golfing efforts were more akin to bowling, I did manage to loft a few balls down the fairway. I have a lot more respect for you golfers now. (Bro-s--it's an activity we can do together next time you come for a visit!)

As one good side effect of work stress, I'm trying to go to the gym more. Skipper's added a new class on Wednesdays, so it'll be easier for me to do four classes a week on a regular basis, which I accomplished last week. Feels sorta good to be sore.


Oh, and I bought a new toaster oven yesterday. It's so clean!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Springing Forward

Well, not really. More like recoiling from work overload. It was a long and draining week, though satisfying in that both conferences went very well. I brought my "Head Girl" pin along as a joke, but did indeed wear it on Tuesday when I was the manager on duty for one of the ballrooms all day, making sure that everything went smoothly and according to schedule. And it all came off just fine, but it was different day than what I usually do while at conferences, and required a long, sustained focus combined with spending the entire day in a darkened ballroom--that'll mess with you. The weather, hotel, and view from my room were pleasant, food was decent, people kindly, though I did not actually get out to the swimming pool, unfortunately. Maybe next time.
I arrived home Thursday night and meant to do some work from home yesterday, but just couldn't. (I did look at my email today and luckily there were no emergencies that I neglected.) I remained mostly horizontal with my furry creatures about me, finishing off The Count of Monte Cristo. M and I went to Petaluma last night and had dinner, and that was about as strenuous as my day got.

Today is a lovely, spring-y day and I'm mixing in a few chores with work email and sitting around. Pansies are finally in the dirt, aphids on the Mr. Lincoln rosebush squashed to an orange smear, Meyer lemon sprout, which M unfortunately mowed down last week, dug up and potted for Mom to take back with her (she and Don are stopping by tomorrow on their way back from an arty weekend in the City). I resolved to clean out the disgusting toaster oven this morning (I really am a lame housekeeper) and as I dug in with a scrubber, I thought how wonderful it would be to just go out and buy a new one. But during the cleaning process, I dropped it! The control panel is cracked and one end of it has come away from the body, so I'm not sure if it's salvageable. Intentional, or not? Hmmm.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

"If You Don't Squeeze Your Butt, Nobody Else Will"

That was Skipper's sage prediction in gym class this morning. She can be pretty funny. This was probably the first Saturday gym class I'd been to in three years. For some unknown reason, I awoke full of energy this morning though it was before 6:00 a.m. and just got it into my head to go. I arrived a little early but made the mistake of sitting in the Monster Mobile in the parking lot for a couple of minutes to listen to a few more moments of a wonderful NPR interview with Van Cliburn. The room was so packed I almost didn't get a space for my step! Another girl came in a little late, and Skipper teased her: "Look who woke up this morning!" then explained that it was her roommate. I'd always wondered about what her roommate looked like, since Skipper had mentioned her a few times--would she be non-descript? A childhood friend, some dumpy brunette to set off Skipper's toned, tanned, tomboy allure, someone who drove a brown 1986 Tercel to Skipper's silver convertible Mustang? But no, dear Reader, it was as you'd expect, the 15-year-old neighbor boy's dream. Her roommate was a new millennium Barbie, pretty, slender with a nearly doll-proportioned rack (I couldn't tell if they were fake), flawless skin, straight white teeth, long ash-blond tresses, and the only one in the room using two risers under her step. Was that a pink Corvette I caught out of the corner of my eye as I pulled out of the parking lot?

I stopped both on the way to the gym and the way back to try to capture the fields of mustard in full bloom. It's an absolutely spectacular sight and my photo doesn't do it justice. So many things are blooming now--yellow acacias, quince in light and dark pink, white apple blossoms, pale pink cherry trees. I do love living in Sonoma county.

It was a busy but fairly pleasant week. Mom came down one night, which was very nice, though I consumed a bit too much Zinfandel and had a bad night's sleep following an odd choking episode by the dog at 2:00 a.m. so I wasn't my best at work the next day. I had given a friend some job recommendations a few weeks ago, so he took me out to lunch at a very hip spot yesterday. M had enough energy to mow today and the cut grass smells so spring-like--and when it's all cut off, you can't tell what's weeds and what's grass so the house looks a little better. I'm off to San Diego tomorrow, so have to pack, and to plant the pansies I bought earlier in the week.