30 April 2005
As time passed, I felt my imagination was dooming me to actually trip, stumble, or slip into the thump-thump-thump down the stairs. Finally my will revolted. Surely I could make a conscious choice to think of something else. As I walked past the stairwell, the wings that never quite turn out right in my sketches hung from my shoulder blades, long, powerful, balanced. I'm still just walking, but there's no falling.
They're making improvements on their end so hopefully with time, the issue will resolve without me.
This thought is expressed in the Buddhist chant:
Nam myoho renge kyo."
-from the beginning of What's Love Got To Do With It?
The consolation: I wasn't sure what qualified as broken.
Gggrrr. So the latest revision of one of my credit reports deleted an account that was fine that should show up for another 4 years or so. As I've recently learned, that will lower my credit score. However, there's nothing I can do about it until Monday (except maybe look at some paperwork options that might ultimately be more fruitful than a phone call, hmm), so I need to get this out of my system.
It's rainy and fairly dismal outside so I think I will descend to the basement to go through the closets Mom mentioned wanting to clear out a few days ago.
28 April 2005
On the upside, I finished all my calls today even though I was disconnected while holding twice. I've earned some Ben + Jerry's.
I drank some water, tossed and turned, but still no sleep. Around 5:00, I started hearing birds outside: singular chirps followed by twittering that reminded me of a pack of monkeys. After a few minutes, I realized the pack of monkeys was me exhaling through congestion.
Though my blinds were all shut, pre-dawn light started filtering into my room. Blue light peeked under my door, and finally my eyes would open.
27 April 2005
Mom stopped in to say hello and was soon pointing out places I’d been dragged to as a kid. Some parks in Hawaii came up on the list. “We should’ve gone there when we lived in California,” she interjected. “All our friends went, and it wasn’t as expensive as it is now, but we didn’t have the money then.” That was during the days when my parents moved regularly for my Dad’s work, in the years before they had any children. “I always wanted to go,” she mused.
Since my Dad had recently told me he wants to go to Hawaii, I brought it up thinking they could go and have a great time.
“No, it’s too late.”
Thinking of compromise and partnership as part of marriage, I said, “That’s not very nice.”
I laughed to keep the mood light and responded, “That’s really not nice. What do you mean ‘too late’?”
“Five years ago, he asked what I wanted to do for our 40th wedding anniversary, and I told him a year in advance, and did we go? No. Now it’s too late.”
The idea that five years could force an action or a choice beyond the realm of what’s possible made her world seem very small to me just then. If I believed that, I’d have given up long ago because there’s so much I haven't accomplished. It's never too late- isn’t that what people say?
But these past 5 years have changed my mom. She had cancer, and though she was cured of it with surgery a few years ago and has thankfully had no recurrence, the weight of mortality pervades her thoughts like a pessimistic fog. With her attitude, it is too late. It made me want to say that I’d go with my Dad because I’d love to go, but I held my tongue because I knew that if we went without her, she’d never forgive us. I can only hope she’ll change her mind.
26 April 2005
On a side note, I don't think I sound like myself at all though that's certainly not a new take on hearing one's voice recorded. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this while I find time to work on some writing.
tags: audioblog, Lucy Lawless, Locusts, tv movie, guilty pleasures
25 April 2005
24 April 2005
7 days, over 2300 miles, 4 state prisons, 1 correctional facility, 9 or 10 trains, at least 6 herds of cattle, 5 tumbling tumbleweeds, 2 yachts, 2 speed boats, 1 Border Patrol stop, a lot of road kill in Texas, and 1 swamp boat.
If I somehow missed you in the past couple of weeks, let me convey my sincerest apologies. The long and short of it is that in the space of two weeks, I decided to leave Los Angeles, packed my stuff, and drove to Tallahassee, FL. On the way, I visited friends in Austin, spent an afternoon in New Orleans, and stuck my toes in the Gulf of Mexico at Ft. Walton Beach, FL.
Overall, I had a great time, but that first day getting out of LA was a disaster. It hadn't rained that hard since the El Niño days over a year before, so packing my car became more challenging and took longer than I'd hoped.
Pressing on with my great desire to leave, I finally hit the road around 4:30 in the afternoon: rush hour with rain. The day before I left, I thought I'd drive to Tucson on my first day. Once I started driving, I thought Phoenix, but when five hours had passed and I'd only made it 150 miles, I gave up. I hadn't even gotten out of California.
I did, however, see a perfect rainbow on my way out of the city, and that seemed like a good sign. Indio (where I spent the night) proved to be a pleasant enough desert town. The motel was well equipped: it had a little fridge, coffee maker, recliner, and the pièce de résistance: a king size bed with a mirror over it. It hadn't seemed like that kind of motel (as compared to the seedy Hollywood fabrication in my head), but I was far too tired to care by then.
The next day, I made the long haul to El Paso, TX hitting four states in one day. The desert was beautiful, so I stopped at a rest area next to my favorite part of I-10 in Arizona. The highway is mostly flat with mountains in the distance, but there's this one short stretch of crazy huge boulders littering the ground that's very cool. By luck I was able to wrangle my camera out without unloading my car, so I took some shots just before the sun set.
While I was there two van loads of boys and girls pulled up. A pack of rambunctious 11/12 year old girls descended on the restroom with a 15 year old in tow. As the younger girls sparred and fenced with rapiers made of straws, I raised an eyebrow at the fifteen year old. "I don't play with them," she quickly assured me and then rolled her eyes at the fencers and sighed in assumed commiseration. Leaning against the wall, she was trying very hard to maintain an air of nonchalance in spite of their roughhousing. Her efforts made me smile. My presence had evoked in her a desire to seem cool: she had found me worthy.
With each vintage post, I'll include the date it was originally written at the top of the entry. I hope you enjoy them!
23 April 2005
"It's going to be difficult. Success will not come easily." I almost stormed out of the cab, but he grabbed my hand, "You like it like this. You want to be challenged. That's what you asked for."
He's right. Success is going to be difficult. But not impossible.
-Miranda Black on The It Factor relating a tale about a palm reading cabby she encountered.
22 April 2005
That's where I come in. When they're talking at cross purposes, or making the same point in such a way that each thinks the other is disagreeing, I'm generally able to translate for them. However I'm not much of a referee; mostly I end up being the tiebreaker. The role generally dissipates the tension of their stalemate, regardless of which person I agree with unless I side with one person too frequently.
We just got back from a couple days of hitting some sites a few hours away. As we were driving back yesterday, I was annoyed to find that I was focusing on the heated bickering that had cropped up sporadically instead of the cool places we'd seen. Three days was as long as I could handle with them; the tiebreaker had had enough. It didn't matter that one person would always be in agreement with me: the bickering (based mainly on all things related to driving) was stressing me out. I wanted to yell: Grow up!, but knew the comment could be easily and justifiably thrown back at me, and I really didn't want to hear it. I took a deep breath, mentally composed my ideal yard utilizing elements of inspiration I'd enjoyed in the past few days, and soon the three of us were laughing again.
18 April 2005
15 April 2005
“Start holding your breath,” Mom commented.
“Yeah, right,” I agreed. “He mentioned it a couple weeks ago in an email.” With my brother, it’s best to ignore professions of: It’s in the mail! unless it’s accompanied by a tracking number. “I suppose I should give her another try now,” I mused.
Mom knew I was referring to the sidekick in earlier episodes my niece was named after; I’d always hated that character. She was weak, out of her depths, never offered much help in the solving of any problem they encountered, and nearly always needed to be saved.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Mom stated.
“Of course not,” I replied to assure her that this fictional persona does not diminish my affection for my niece in any way: I’m looking forward to new associations to her name. “I just wonder what possessed them to choose that name.”
As Mom pointed out that they like unusual names, I thought to myself: But everyone has associations to certain names. I was prepared to argue that it can matter a great deal what parents choose to name their children, but I kept my mouth shut. Because associations to names are largely based on the people we encounter and are therefore prone to subjectivity, I thought it made for an interesting debate, but in a moment of clarity, I recognized that my mom would not enjoy it, would not even engage in the discussion. To her, it would sound as if I was saying that she was wrong (again), and as I supported my theory, I would likely get caught up in the desire to win, so she’d probably be right in that perception.
As I read over what I’ve written, it doesn’t seem like much of an accomplishment. I should be better at understanding how she views things, better at curbing commentary which unintentionally hurts her feelings, but I’m not, so this is progress.
14 April 2005
Residents of Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont are already entitled by state law to free credit reports that they can order directly from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. In some cases, you have to order by mail or phone for the free report so read the fine print carefully.
Other reasons you may be eligible for a free credit report are listed here.
*I have culled the above information from the sites linked above. For verification, further and more detailed information, please visit the sites directly.
13 April 2005
Originally uploaded by nomad claire.
The embers may not look like much, but they kept the pile extremely hot; my poking stick took a beating. Also mere foot-long skewers made toasting marshmellows challenging even in gloves.
Do you roast or toast them? Either sounds right to me just now.
Pyre minus the funeral
Originally uploaded by nomad claire.
More burning on Monday and I'm pleased to post my first photos to this blog. The wind was fickle so it was less pleasant with smoke shifting directions and ash hanging in the air. I did burn a few pages of shreddable paperwork though, and that was very satisfying.
Don't see how to post more than one picture to an entry so others will follow, and I suppose end up in reverse chronological order. Oh well, you'll figure it out.
10 April 2005
"Which one?" my parents shouted from downstairs.
"Towards the birdfeeder, look at the ground!"
There was rustling as my Dad got up and then the swish of metal rings against the rod. I stood next to the desk I use in my father's study, watching a deer enjoy a twilight repast on a small hill in our yard. The deer had chosen a cultivated area; though it's mostly dirt now, a few green shoots have emerged from the soil and will soon bloom if they are not eaten.
Mom hollered, "I'm sorry, Claire, but I'm going to shoo it away!"
I expected as much as and was not disappointed by her choice; my parents spend a lot of time gardening and do not appreciate critters of any kind eating their hard work. The screen door clanged, and the deer looked up, but did not move. "Go away," she yelled. The deer looked around and then back at her as if to say: Are you talking to me?
She clapped her hands a few times, repeating her command in various forms until the deer made some startled jumps away from the hillock. "Shame on you for eating my plants," she said as the deer leapt into the forest.
The springy jumps reminded me of hurdles and race horses, so much power in the legs. A couple of hundred feet away, the deer stopped and was joined by another. "They didn't go very far," my Dad commented. After a few more minutes, they went deeper into the wood and disappeared amongst the trunks; I'm sure they'll be back.
09 April 2005
“You can thank me for talking your brother out of submitting your name to them. He thought it’d be great if they got you in some feminine clothes,” she said.
“Oh yeah? Mr. Sweatpants with the long stringy hair thinks so? They’d make him buy a real pair of shoes.”
The first time I saw “What Not to Wear” was a couple of years ago during a marathon of the show on BBC-America at a friend’s house. I enjoyed the English accents and the advice they offered for bodies of various shapes. In each case, there was more to the transformation than new clothes: the subjects confronted flawed perceptions of body image, fears of change, and all came away with greater self esteem.
When the American version of the show premiered, it was not as good, but when I read in a recent alumnae/i magazine that one of the co-hosts graduated just a few years ahead of me, I watched another episode and found it had improved.
Shows of this nature intrigue me periodically – I’m in a phase of interest now – as I gauge how much advice is individualized and how much is based on a sort of fashion conformity. What makes something stylish other than an agreement amongst the fashion industry or a certain chunk of society? Do high heels really make skirts and dresses look better or have I just been brainwashed to think they do? There’s something to aesthetics, but looking at other cultures and countries makes me certain fashion’s not absolute.
This revelation of my brother’s intent slightly marred my enjoyment of “What Not To Wear” when I came across it on TLC later that night. As the hosts exchanged biting quips describing outdated clothes with TV and film references from the 80s, I felt bad for the subjects. Most of these people do not look like they have the money to fill their wardrobes with $300 pieces of well-tailored clothing, and I think the show’s portrayals can be a bit mean-spirited when it ignores this.
I know I don’t dress well: it’s both a conscious choice and a financial reality. $5000 isn’t enough to make up for harsh criticism and supplemental spy footage intended to make you look your worst on national television. In addition, even the most stylish people I know have grungy clothes for painting and yard work, and comfy clothes for lounging at home. No one’s throwing out my concert or film crew t-shirts. My typical ensemble is baggy cargo pants, a t-shirt, and Skechers: comfortable. When I’m dressed really sloppily, I still get more attention than I’d care for.
I have a few stray pieces that I believe would not get tossed by the “What Not To Wear” stylists (though I’ve yet to see them let anyone keep anything) that my brother has never even seen. Just who does he think I am now? And doesn’t he realize that he and my cousins effectively made it clear that femininity would be treated with derision when we were growing up? What is he judging me on when he sees me at most once a year with only a suitcase of clothes I’ve packed for comfort to choose from?
Most of all, I’m annoyed with myself that I’ve let him get to me again. Years ago, I mastered my reaction to the gleeful smile that spreads across his face when he is beating me at any type of game. I accepted what his reaction would be and stopped being upset by it; my satisfaction comes from knowing that he seems to enjoy his wins less now that my torment isn’t included.
He enjoys debate, and when we see each other, he baits me but often with topics I have no interest or background in. He provides one of the few circumstances in my life where I can dismissively concede, “You’re right,” even if I don’t mean it. All I have to remember is the precept: He thinks he knows everything, and it’s easy to thwart argument.
At least here, he won’t know he got under my skin, and knowing my own reasons and choices regarding fashion, I can let his judgment go. Ah, brothers and sisters.
tags: What Not to Wear, fashion, clothing choices, clothes, BBC America, brother and sister relationship, anecdote
07 April 2005
So now I'm going to brush my teeth, throw on some clothes, and go BURN!
Mom was standing in the doorway. I’d just gotten out of the shower and was picking at a callous on my foot; reviewing the meaning of pyromania in my mind, I assured myself it meant what I thought it meant but couldn’t figure out what her question had to do with what I was doing. “I’m confused.”
“Your Dad’s out burning, he’s going to need some help keeping it going,” she explained as she walked down the hall.
A smile spread across my face. “It’s up!” I called after her. I pulled my hair back, changed t-shirts, put on my boots, grabbed my gloves and walked outside. When the snow had first started to melt, I had remembered with satisfaction that it heralded burning. Then the fire permit appeared on the fridge under a palm tree magnet, and finally today was time to burn.
For the first time this year, the temperature broke into the 60s reaching a wonderful 69 with low humidity, not that it mattered near the fire; heat waves rippled the air and felt like an instant sunburn. Flames licked twigs, wet limbs smoldered, pine needles smoked and crackled into floating sparks. I had a strong urge to toss all my filed paperwork into the fire. Instead I threw more sticks in wondering when my loose glove would decide to make its suicidal leap into the flames.
Dad found a great green limb and sawed it to my specifications for the perfect poking stick: about four feet long with a lopsided Y at the end for a little fork action. Mom joined us and we spent the rest of the afternoon picking up sticks from the yard and sawing fallen trees into manageable pieces. With some experimentation, I was soon reading the fire: small twigs here, chunkier dry branches there, increase the temperature to burn it all: easily my favorite type of yard work.
In addition, we retrieved outdoor chairs from the shed and carried them up to the deck; the glass-top table we left for another day. Smoke permeated our clothes, skin, hair, so we opted to pick up dinner since none of us was going to cook. The fire burned down to ash, embers, and charcoal. Dad carried shovelfuls of snow from one of the remaining piles in the yard and tossed it on top. Smoke smoldered through gaps in the snow like dry ice until it was sufficiently covered.
We picked up some grinders and chips and drove out to eat with a lake view. On a hill above the water, the vista through the trees was impressive. Most of the lake was still covered with ice which gave me a better idea of how thick it had been. Beyond the lake were mountain ranges; Mom pointed out the tower on the tallest mountain in the state. The mountain next to it looked taller.
“It’s an illusion,” my parents said overlapping each other. A discussion of measurements, sea level, and altimeters lead me to conclude that altitude measurements are always relative to something and thus can’t be absolute. As my Dad pointed out, even sea level isn’t constant with the pull of the moon affecting tides.
On the way home, Mom got a coffee and I got a hot fudge sundae from Ben & Jerry’s. I ate outside while Mom called her sister, and Dad went to shower. Near the end of my sundae, I was shaking with cold so I went in and down to the basement so I wouldn’t smoke up any chairs that mattered.
A rerun of Smallville was on that I hadn’t seen: a pivotal episode in the story arc that I’d missed when something I liked better was on opposite some other year. Earlier in the day, Mom handed me the latest novel by my favorite author. It was shaping up to be a perfect day.
Last to shower, I dumped my smoky clothes outside the bathroom door since mom planned to throw them all in the wash. Pajama-clad, I towel dried my hair and watched the season finale of West Wing. Though a great hair day at this point might seem to be a waste, I felt it topped off the perfect day.
Perfect until I checked my email and my on and off again cell service recanted the promise they made to me yesterday. Maybe I should delete that in the hope that in the future, I will remember today as unblemished perfection. My memory is generally too good for such tricks to succeed though, particularly when it comes to remembering the negative. Instead, I will end by saying I had more fun today than I have had in a long time and that burning brought back fond memories of other fires from my youth, the house we used to live in, and my best friend when I was five.
tags: pyromania, burning brush, fire, perfect day, anecdote
05 April 2005
04 April 2005
With a splash, I plunged below the surface. The water was cold but my dry suit kept me comfortable. Overhead, an old stone bridge cast a deep shadow through the water. The bridge shimmered against the sky, a complement of afternoon gold to the vibrant blue; I rolled back to my shadowy course. A slash of sunlight illumined the first step pyramid of Machu Picchu. The ruins of the Aztec civilization stretched a few hundred feet across the floor of the lagoon. Though I could see without difficulty, the dappled sunrays were too sparse to provide enough light by which to photograph; I swam on considering the layout of the buildings in relation to compass headings and surmised that a few hours earlier in the day would provide the optimum light for shooting on a subsequent day.
As I made my way back over the ruins, I noticed the sun had shifted to my advantage on the first structures I’d encountered. The camera was difficult to adjust through the casing, but I managed to snap off a few shots, the advance mechanism reluctantly lurching the film forward. The photos would be good test cases for exposure and camera performance underwater, but their processing and assessment would have to wait: I was due back for a deeper dive at another site with a large group for whom I would direct filming.
NB: Machu Picchu is part of ancient Incan civilization, and it’s not underwater either– it just happened to be both in my dream.
tags: Machu Picchu, scuba dive, scuba diving, dream, underwater photography, ruins