Monday, July 31, 2006

Time Takers

I was planning to write about something else today, but instead, here is today's current reflection.

This is something that is very important to me, something I am learning to make space for and protect: my time.

Ah, personal time, my creative time. Time to be filled with my choices, not the needs of others. Since it is so rare, I guard it with an intensity that is foreign to many of my single or childless friends who are still living in cruise mode. They do not yet know of significant time takers, unconscious thieves of personal space. How can they?

The luxury of float, drift, unfocused grazing time, protection from responsibility or accomplishment, loose connection to time management or organization especially with regard to other's time and needs, non-direct communications, passive-aggressive behavior, avoidance-attack mode of living…these are a modus operandi of a past life. I cannot and do not choose to live this way any longer.

You can never fully understand this issue from the narrow perspective seen through single, or even married childless eyes. When one is pulled by other's needs, say 85% of the waking day, those final 15% become precious. Extremely rare and hard to come by. They become a "gift." They are wrapped in the expectation for something yummy, satisfying, productive, creative, relaxing, social, or in short, something positive or fulfilling in some personal way.

They are not to be taken lightly, or stolen, or disrespected, or wasted by another's lack of consideration or non-communication. That just doesn't work for me anymore. Not right now.

My time is extremely valuable and I want to protect it as a mother lion does her cubs. Fiercely.

When I was single, I used to fritter away HOURS at a time sleeping, eating, drinking, carrying on, being entertained, getting caught up in the latest dramas, talking on the phone for hours, working on my creative projects for days at a time uninterrupted, traveling, exploring, working out… And I could sleep. Oh, I remember sleeping! Until 10 or 11 sometimes. Whatever. I have all the time in the world, I thought. I didn't even think about it. Everything was about me. Or what he said, she said…and how that affected me.

Not now. This just isn't my reality anymore. It can't be. Maybe when my daughter reaches grade school, and my business is off the ground and bringing in money. Maybe then I'll have more time. Maybe when my husband and I aren't one inch away from shattering and the financial stress isn't at our throats anymore. Then I can slow down. Then I can drift a bit. But not now.

So in the meantime, if you cannot respect my time, if you leave me hanging and don't respond to my calls or emails in a timely manner, if you don't show up when you say you will and don't call to communicate what the holdup is or to reschedule, if you disrespect my child's needs like timely meals and sleep, or if you expect me to drop everything to be 100% available to you…in short, if you expect me to read your mind to find out your needs, then do the clean up when you splatter them after the fact, then, this isn't going to work for me and unfortunately our friendship will suffer.

Until you know what having most of your precious freedom taken away feels like, except at the sacrifice of sleep, when you go on 4-6 hours of sleep per night for over 4 years in order to fit everything in and even then everything doesn't fit, when you've been pulled and yanked and interrupted six million-four thousand-nine hundred ninety-three times to where you can barely finish a sentence let alone a thought or paragraph, when you begin to be responsible for more than just your life and livelihood, when every aspect in your life is pulling at you and suffering from lack of enough attention, when your plate is so full and full of responsibility that it is threatening to bowl you over, then, and only then, will you begin to open your narrow perspective beyond just your own personal view and hopefully see through a wider lens….

Perhaps then you will be more understanding. Perhaps then you will have more regard for other's time, or children's needs. Perhaps then you will understand the sacrifice made to stay open and connected to your disorganized "whatever" kind of life at the expense of very limited and precious "free" time. It wasn't free. Abusing this precious time could cost us our friendship.

May we all continue to grow and open our perspectives…even offer help or understanding where possible.

Now, that being said, onward to better use with our time.

Thanks for listening.

Room With A View

This was the view from our campsite this time.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Gone Camping...


In the meantime, I have left you with plenty of reading material and a few visuals. Enjoy.

Back in a few days.

Mother Mind

After my second set of stairs today I was contemplating vanity vs. integrity in terms the body…specifically post-pregnancy weight gain acceptance…as in "you're packin' WAY too many pounds and it's been 4 years already, what's your excuse?" Is this a vanity issue or am I out of integrity with who I want to be?

I thought of my former client. When I came to chef for her, she was a size 12 and her daughter was 5 1/2. By the time her daughter turned 6, she had become a size 4 or 6. Sure she was. Because I shopped, portioned and counted out her Weight Watchers points FOR her, I reasoned. Plus, her nanny watched her kid while she worked out at the gym with her personal trainer everyday. It's much easier when you have help.

Not I, I do it solo. The multi-tasker. I take it all on and then am discouraged when I'm not where I think I should be….weight, career, finances, sex life, what's for dinner.

Got me thinking about that NY Magazine article "Mothers Anonymous" about Manhattan Mothers posting on
Apparently they've got labels for every kind of mom…"crunchy mom," "martyr mom," "sanctimommy," "uber-boober," "IBmom"-investment banker, "spoiled brat mom"-has tons of dough and staff, "celebrity mom." And they rag and vent on each other.

We've got nothing like that here in LA as far as I know except for maybe our Peachhead boards--over 3000 moms strong, probably another 500 since that NY Times article came out on us…The Web Site of All Mothers…mommy mafia he called us….how we have the power to make or break a doctor's or business' reputation with a few critical posts.

The only difference is that for the most part our mom boards are intended to share tips, advice, resources, and build community, not judge and ridicule it, although I suppose that happens sometimes too.

Well, maybe I AM a martyr mom…so what? Maybe I DO do all the work around here since it's just us. I AM a present, hands on mom, no extended family here, no nanny, no daily housekeeper, no trainer, no chef, no gardener. I am all those things and more. Plus I work part time and fit in a creative life as best I can as I attempt to build a business. It's not a new concept. It's a reality for many of us. At least I have a husband who contributes. Many people don't even have that.

But still, I hate labels.

Just because I tried child-led weaning and ended up breast-feeding for 22 months, (6 months was my goal), and held my baby a lot, does that make me "crunchy?" Really?! I don't even own a pair of Birkenstocks…and I DO drink caffeine and alcohol!

The choices I made were driven in part by economics and in part by personal choice. That's just how it is. I'd like to think I was more "conscious mom" than "martyr mom." Still, no choice is without its inherent conflicts. I don't know one mom who doesn't worry she isn't screwing up her kid somehow, or feels like she's lost a part of her own life.

It reminds me that every single thing sits on a continuum spectrum…it's our perspective that places it in some kind of context. For instance, when we were down in the jungles of Tulum, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, as we drove by huts and corrugated tin shacks with very primitive (or nonexistent) plumbing that housed entire communities, I was reminded to be so incredibly grateful for what we have. We have so much in comparison. And God Bless a functioning toilet, a shower! "This must be a palace," Corduroy might have said about our 1200 sq ft 1-story house. "A tear-down" would be another LA perspective. Both right.

I was hoping that whatever label you call it, whatever choice we make as parents, we treat our children with love and respect. We show up and be really present in their lives, we make sure they feel loved. Children are an unruly bunch by nature. But give them a structure and let their creativity flourish. We are the ones providing that structure, allowing their ideas to co-exist--where appropriate--with ours. Allowing them to be contributors, co-creators to the big picture. Giving them their place and letting their voices be heard. (Ok, you can quiet down now, I've heard you.)

I was thinking about how the choices we make as parents affect our children, which in turn affects the future generation.

As the weight of that sank in…a cool sharp breeze rose up and slapped at my cheeks and neck, reminding me to come back from the geyser of my thoughts.

"Be Here. Now." It reminded me.

"Focus on what is essential."

Yes. So true.

Never have I been so grateful for a cool breeze and a bottle of water, especially as I work out in these sweltering summer temperatures.

I won't lose sight of the gift--a soul enters, takes a body, becomes a child--and we are the ones who are responsible for their care and well-being. Also, I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to have this personal time to ruminate and marinate on motherhood, as it's clearly changed my life and opened up a door of opportunity for me. It's given me a perspective my individual self never could have known.

As I become more conscious, as a person, as a mother, as a fellow human, it invites others to do the same too. Regardless of staff, lack of staff, body weight, mothering style, label, or if we're wheat, dairy, or sugar-free, we have so much.

We carry the potential of the world one step at a time, one child at a time, one jog at a time. Easy does it. Remember to give thanks and be grateful.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tuesday's Rant

It is hard enough to raise children. I get that. Sometimes I can't even put two sentences together before my daughter shatters my moment and demands my full-on attention, interrupting my thoughts, my actions, my ability to do even simple tasks.

Today at the grocery store it was all I could do to just grab our stuff and get through the checkout line without wanting to lose it on her for her disruptive behavior….insisting she bring this giant purse (I agreed only to avoid a meltdown in the parking lot) where she proceeded to drop things out of it constantly, crushing against the fresh flowers I tucked into the cart after I told her not to, begging for more snacks after having both hers and mine, then repeatedly singing in an overly loud and annoying tone even after I told her to use her inside voice. Five minutes ago it was cute, now people are rolling their eyes. Charming? Not so much!

But still, as frustrated as I get, and believe me I get plenty frustrated and impatient (!!), I could never actually smack her, throw her against a radiator, spray Lysol down her throat, or heaven forbid, f@#k her! What the hell kind of un-evolved, imbalanced, self-important, disturbed kind of person(s) could do this sort of thing? Yet it happens every day, all the time, in the shadows and cracks, and right under our noses. Our generation and the next generation.

The more tales of abuse and neglect I hear, as they trickle into my inbox, I sense that this thing is systemic. It is innocuous and all around us. It is a virus that is seeping out of control under our skin. A virus that needs to be brought to light and eradicated once and for all.

While the president is our there war mongering and stirring up a hornets nest in the middle east, he is also preaching "moral family values" and abstinence over informed choices and removing condom-dispensing in the schools. Yeah, that's effective. His superiority-like stance over right-to-life will throw back years of work to give women the power to make her own decisions about her body, and now his same "moral" stance is also threatening to kill potential lives who could be spared via stem cell research. Are you telling me that he has some sort of control over dead, unviable fetuses now? What kind of dictatorship is this? And how does his need to protect "life" ring true when his troops are slaughtering innocent people every day "over there."

My daughter was born in a teaching hospital. They asked if we would donate her placenta and cord blood to the hospital for research. I'm OK with that, she's done with it. What if our child's blood and stem cells contribute to a cure for any number of as yet incurable diseases. I'm all for that. And those unviable fetuses you never hear about but plenty of women have spontaneously miscarried? Why couldn't those mounds of cells actually help someone? Why can't the grief and loss be turned into something positive and life-affirming, something healing actually? Well no, not if Mr. George Dub-ya has his say in the matter.

What about the numbers of our own emotionally dead children walking around this country right now, without proper supervision, nourishment, healthcare, a decent quality of life or education? Is he looking out for them? No. He's too busy saving unviable, unborn children. Not like he'd take care of them either once they got here. He is like the big stupid uncle abusing us on the sly, warning us not to tell, blinding us from our truth, manipulating us into powerlessness and apathy, all the while yanking on our fear chain, rendering us useless. Where are we heading? It is atrocious to me that we live in this country in the 21st century and yet in some ways it is like we are rolling back to the dark ages! What is going on? Why are we taking it?

As I try to make sense of this pain, this outrage, I know it is easy to go numb. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless, to just shut it off. It is easy to disassociate. Not care. Those of us with traumatic backgrounds are good at that. We've been doing it all our lives.

But that won't help matters.

In my small way, the best I can come up with is that in excavating our dark, hidden secrets, our own tales of abuse and neglect, we bring to light healing for ourselves and for others. We open a path out of the darkness saying, here, it's ok to come out now. We share our tales so that hopefully no one else will have to endure what we've endured.

One of the best things we can do is parent consciously. Take responsibility from conception onward, or don't have children. Show up and actually be present in their lives. Help make our children's needs be met. Help them feel safe and loved. Seems so simple, like it ought to be automatic. As I parent my daughter and learn to re-parent my own inner child, I am, hopefully, taking small baby steps toward changing history. I am healing family wounds that go back generations, and not just my history but collective histories as well.

Maybe together we'll beat this virus yet.

I sure hope so.

And in the meantime, will you PLEASE settle down already!

Ok. I'll get off my soapbox now.


Much has been written "for thinking mothers" as if the rest of us don't think at all. I wish to be not just a mother who thinks, (I happen to think all the time and many of us do), but more importantly, I want to be a Mother Who Has a Life. I USED To Have a Life. Way back when.

When I first moved to Los Angeles 11 years ago, motherhood was the last thing on my mind. Wasn't even on the radar. Most important was getting that illusive record deal, making great music with a terrific band, and having the ability to wow audiences with my shear magnetic presence, sparkling vocal performances, and passionate songwriting. That was it. That was meaningful to me. My life was about music, travel, flowing income, being inspired by talented musicians, finding excitement and entertainment in all the wrong places, and climbing an upward trajectory career path. Who knew what I could achieve and where I would end up?

I now have a 4 yr old, a husband, a home that we've poured hours of sweat equity into repairing and upgrading, and a lavish garden that was once a cement slab. There's also that soft flab that was once a firm wall of abdominal flesh. And music? Well, my attitude there has gone soft too.

In my early weeks in LA, as money began to run out, I picked up some freelance catering work. It was pretty basic stuff. You know, any monkey could do kitchen help: unload, set up, heat stuff up, dish up plates or make artful arrangements of food on large buffet platters, tear down, wash up, load the truck, turn in my apron and collect my hourly rate. Definitely not glamorous. Definitely labor intensive and repetitive work. But it paid pretty well and I was good at it. Plus it was freelance. I only booked events I wanted to do, or had the time to do. See, in my heart I was all about making a big bang with my music.

It's just that the bucks always seemed to come from my work with food.

Perhaps it was my competence, artistic sensibilities, ability to sense and avert impending disasters, or perhaps it was just that I spoke English (you'd be surprised on that one) and knew my way around a kitchen, but within a few months I moved up from your basic kitchen assistant, to chef, then head chef, and then kitchen manager where I was more air traffic controller than food handler. Soon I began overseeing large staffs, organizing makeshift kitchen equipment layouts in the middle of anywhere--streets, lawns, driveways, beaches--for all kinds of events…movie premieres, product launches, industry parties, intimate celebrity-filled dinner parties and soirees in every location imaginable. The logistics were endless.

(You try finishing unroasted turkeys in a bank lobby with no heat source other than rolling hot boxes full of sterno cans whose smoke might at any moment trip the sprinkler system. Not only that, but also get it carved up and plattered in an hour, just in time for the buffet to open to 250 guests. You "ad lib" a fish sauce for 150 people with limited supplies on location when you discover the lovely saffron cream sauce the kitchen sent over ended up all over the bottom of the catering truck due to a reckless driver racing to get to the location. You set up a functioning wedding kitchen under a tent on the beach with sand blowing and no running water. Been there. Done that. It's do-able.)

Ultimately I began to get offers to come back and cook privately for the rich and famous in their homes. Discretion, being agreeable, turning a blind eye, problem-solving of every imaginable kind many times not even related to food, gave me a peek inside how "they," (the "haves," and by that I mean the holly shit "haves"), live. Movie stars, tv stars, record company execs, media moguls...I've cooked for many. LA is weird that way. Believe me, I've seen ungodly excess wealth.

Example: former clients of mine, a family of three: husband, wife, and daughter. It's the same equation as my little family today, except that he owns a record label and at the time had a house staff that consisted of a full-time nanny, 2 full-time housekeepers, 2 personal assistants, a private chef, (I heard the new chef has an assistant now too), a handyman, a personal trainer, a weekly manicurist who does housecalls, a massage therapist, a daily private swim teacher for the 6 yr old, and anyone else they might need to hire in, which they did on an ongoing basis. Christ, it's just the three of them! And that's just the house staff.

I've heard some nannies make well over $25/hr, same as some high-end housekeepers who barely speak english. That's more than double what Disney pays its average production staffer who works 12-14 hour days. Ever wonder what the entry-level wages are for a skilled assistant film editor or executive assistant at a record label? Actually, they pay crap...but we'll save the economic discourse for another day.

Why does it take so many people to run so few? Are they just incapable of doing anything for themselves? Are they just THAT important? Busy? Or is it just because they can? LA is a strange town where third world immigrants and fresh off the bus newbies like me take care of the rich. They feed them, bathe them, clean up after them, and raise their children. I guess it was no different with the royals in biblical times, but I digress.

I share this really only to contrast what I am and what I've done, and how I choose to mother. Perhaps if I had all this expendable cash and didn't choose to be so present in my daughter's life, life would be much different for us as well. Perhaps my mothering transition wouldn't have been so bumpy. Perhaps if--and it's a giant if--we could have afforded night nurses or a full-time nanny-or even a regular part-time nanny- I might have gotten some sleep and logged in some uninterrupted work time. I might have even built an empire by now.

Still, it's a weird place to be from my vantage point. With an eye to what it can be like with all the resources and staff in the world...contrasted with our almost non-existent "help" and add to that where I came from, the enormous pain-filled hurdles of my past which made me feel lost and abandoned and so lacking...and now facing my own conflicts about being a mother, a good one, a present one, and yet...STILL BEING ABLE TO FIT IN A LIFE...a career, an independent vitality and creative identity without having to hire out to do it, without neglecting my daughter…is it even possible? Will I EVER feel rested and caught up? Will I ever recover? Will I be, will our love relationship be, as resilient as I intend or expect it to be? What do I expect? I have no idea...except that I think I must have been expecting too much, or maybe, not enough. I certainly was not expecting where I am today. I'm certainly not "having it all" as they say.

Mainly, I USED TO HAVE A LIFE. Perhaps I am still resisting what my life has become. It certainly isn't what I expected. I certainly wouldn't consider this view of my life right now a "full life" in a self-fulfilling way. Yes, I've got the house, the husband and the beautiful child, (and quite a nice backyard too), but where is the "ME" in it? What happened to her? Where is the fun girl, the danger girl, the sexy girl, the rockin' chick--the one who used to stay up all night and forget to eat or sleep, writing songs or obsessing over someone else's playing, or analyzing a cd over and over? That just doesn't work anymore. I used to be interesting. I used to be stimulated. Now I'm just plain tired. Depleted, empty, and yes, sometimes resentful, and yes, sometimes angry too. Why is my sacrifice to have a family so seemingly larger, deeper, more confining than his, my beloved husband? He's still doing what he used to do. I can't seem to fit back together.

I hardly knew what I was in for, and some days I am clearly fighting the change into Motherhood, because pre-kid, one truly has NO IDEA what it's like. You may think you know, you may observe friends and family members, you may appear to be sensitive and empathetic since I was all of those things too, but one never truly knows just how much your life will change on the other side until they themselves go through it...bravely, alone, woman by woman, and then, once done, your life is forever changed, you cannot go back. You cannot undo motherhood. You cannot even test-drive it. You just jump in, and then, it is done. For life. For your child. For your family.

It is truly an amazing and transformative ride. I don't really regret it, it's just, I USED TO HAVE A LIFE too.



Monday, July 24, 2006


This is my current work of art.

Double shot iced cappuccino grande, por favor. Made in the privacy of my own home on my Gaggia semi-automatic machine with Peet's Garuda beans that are ground 'a la minute' in my Solis Maestro burr grinder, dusted off with the crunch of raw cane sugar. My heatwave antidote.

Ah….doesn't get any better than this.

My sister came to visit this weekend. I love my sister and so does Sienna. It was lovely to watch them play "beauty hair" and frolic together in the sprinkler or do "art." They even made soup together--some watery flour concoction with sugar and a dash of dishsoap "so you won't have to wash up afterwards" breaking in the pink chef's hat and apron she brought her.

My sister and I have grown closer. It wasn't always that way. In fact, this shift only happened as adults. When the three children (and our parents) all scattered to opposite ends of the country, it was really my sister and I who decided to finally bury the hatchet so to speak and be each other's family, gathering at the holidays. Beginning in our mid-20s, we did our best to keep the spirit alive and create our own little "family," determined to overcome negative childhood holiday memories. I remember I'd go to Minneapolis, or she'd come to New York, one time it was Kentucky, and later, once we all got to know each other better, we asked Dad to join us and we made it San Antonio, the site of some long-lost cousins of Dad's I had found on a road trip. Together we wanted to share the wealth. Heal the past. Spread good cheer around those who wanted it. Usually it was my sister, her daughter and myself. My brother had been incommunicado for years.

My mother was usually not included in these gatherings, but that's another story for another day. Neither of us felt welcome back in her home and even when my sister settled back in Minneapolis, the same town my mother has always lived in, I stayed with her, not at my mother's. I believe that must have been a sore point for my mother, but she never made any effort to invite or welcome or specifically make us feel we belonged back in that house. I just remember her screaming, "You'd better be out of this house by the time you turn 18!" So for the most part, that was that.

Anyway, after years of deciding to "be each other's family" (as if we were in denial up to that point), my sister and I ultimately grew into our sisterly relationship. Perhaps we've both grown up a bit, or perhaps it is because now that I am a mom too, we share something deeper. Her daughter came years ago, almost 23 years to be exact, as she fulfilled our mother's prophecy to a T:
"Don't EVER get married or have children!"

By 20, my sister was married and pregnant. Daughter at 21. Separated that same year. Divorced by 22. Endless years spent trying to track him down through the courts for child support. Is there an echo in here?

She did her motherhood journey early on. I waited until my eggs had matured. She did hers alone. I waited until I found a partner.

I was just thinking how nice it is to have an "auntie" for Sienna to see regularly. I remember how great it was to be "T'auntie Tanya" to her daughter when she was young, and how she confided in me when she was afraid to go to her mother as a teenager. Sienna also has another auntie from Chris' side on the other coast, but we're lucky if we see her once a year due to geographics. Fortunately for us, my sister's job brings her out here on business several times a year so they're building a nice bond together. Plus it is such a relief to have the focus be on someone else for a change. I actually get a bit of a break.

It must be nice to have family around to help raise your children. I am envious of those with built-in grandmas and aunties or even cousins nearby who can cover you in a pinch or allow you to have a night out once in a while without having to pay for it. I also like seeing the friendship and bond spread out in a wider circle than our tight little threesome. I guess that's "the village" many of us are lacking. Sure, I've built one with other mothers in the neighborhood, in the local online moms group, at the preschool, and that has been a lifeline for me--such a blessing, you have no idea. Still, it's nice to have actual family, healthy (female) family, to share in Sienna's upbringing.

When my sister and I were young we were true sisters. We fought, we clawed, she left scratch marks up my arms. One time our mother said, "If you don't stop scratching your sister, I'll have to clip your nails off like the cat's." (The cat was declawed.) My sister always had long, thick nails, not the flimsy paper thin ones I rarely had since I always bit mine. I was defenseless against her when she decided to attack.

She also went through the thing where she was embarrassed to be seen with me…her younger "tag along" sister.

We used to take dance classes at the professional ballet studio across town near skid row. Dancers and dance companies are notoriously broke so their studios are never on the good side of town. More like in some warehouse on the farthest reaches of gentrification. My mother couldn't be bothered to do the whole soccer mom pickup and drop off thing, so we took the city bus from a very early age. It was the 70s afterall. Freedom, liberation, independence. It was 20¢ a ride back then. My mother would dole out exact change for us to ride together: one quarter, one dime and one nickel. After class, we'd catch a ride home with another family. My sister, being the oldest was supposed to look out for me. I was probably 8 then, maybe 9. I kept the coins in a fuzzy little turquoise drawstring pouch I'd crocheted, and stuffed that deep in my white bush jacket pocket.

In retrospect, I'm not sure how my mother afforded dance lessons, not to mention piano and cello lessons, and later voice lessons for me and gymnastics for my sister, because we were always broke and living in scarcity, or so I thought. Nevertheless, we did have all those lessons growing up. Perhaps we weren't as impoverished as she made us out to be. Or maybe that was the only way she knew how to show love for us…guilt offerings steeped in culture. I don't know. It got us out of the house. Maybe it was cheaper than a babysitter.

One time, while waiting for the bus to take us across the bowels of Minneapolis for dance class, my sister decided she didn't want to be seen with me. Before she left she pinned me with her claws and demanded I give her the quarter. Whatever battle ensued, she won it. All I had left was the nickel and dime, not enough for bus fare. I screamed at her, I ran after her tag along style, but she took off well ahead of me. I couldn't keep up. Heart pounding in my chest, fear of being left alone, not being able to get on the bus, missing my class, having to tell mom, the whole ball of fear threatened to swallow me alive. I could see a bus coming…she ran up ahead towards it and just got on. I was a block behind. In order to make the bus, I had to run back to the next bus stop as they weren't on every block. Narrowly missing the bus, flagging it down, I somehow managed to stammer my way onto the bus, deposit my not-quite-enough fare, ask for my orange transfer slip, trying my best to explain to the bus driver we were together, that she had already put in the rest of the money for us, and all the while glaring ahead, my sister wouldn't even look at me let alone sit with me. We traveled in silence, apart, both fuming. Maybe she thought it was funny.

Our father had already left us, my mother wasn't there, and now my older sister who might have been an ally was also shunning me. I was in a cursed family. But by the time we got to ballet class, I got focused. Everything melted away into the dance.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Dairy, Take 2

I just have to share this for its utter ridiculousness.

I was called back today to do some "fixes" on the Motown-y track for this Midwestern dairy's new radio ad campaign. You know, their radio jingle. You may remember they scratched the Barry White-sounding groove for something more "upbeat and catchy." The composer then did a 60s Motown-y remake, figuratively speaking. It was definitely more upbeat and catchy, but so NOT Barry White.

I'm in the booth with this guy, an amazing singer who's sung backups for Michael Jackson, James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and on countless other records and movie scores.

The note is that "The Client" decides he can't hear enough of the "Ds" on the word moods in the previous track we did. The line is, "oh, let's all get into Moods…" Moods being the dairy product they're selling.

So there we are, putting an extra-exaggerated "moo-Dza" almost Italian mafia style over the existing track. Whatever.

"Honey, I'm really in the moo--dza." (wink, wink)

I'm sure that'll make millions more people run out to the store to buy their product.

Hey, as long as they pay me.

Moral of this story, when you're driving around in your car and you hear one of those cheesy jingles playing on the radio, don't shoot the composer. It's usually the result of some non-creative "Creative Director" who runs the show.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Resistance (to the Practice)

(Caution: Contents may contain graphic thought. These are just my thoughts though. And, I will not be apologetic for the fact that it's a long one again. Read at your own risk.)

Today I met with resistance. Didn't want to go--my mind thinking of ways I could get out of putting on my running shoes. Emotionally I felt sad.

I was happy for another's breakthrough. Happy we could hold hands for a moment, but as I let go back into my world, I felt bereft. Sad.

"Fuck it! Just put 'em on" I tried to convince myself. Finally…dressed, sunscreened, lunch packed, water bottle filled--we're out the door on our way to camp and my summer routine.

MWF I drop Sienna at "camp" at her preschool, a block from the ocean, where I run along the bluffs, do "The Stairs" once or twice, jog back, climb the 5 or so flights up the parking structure to my car, jot down any insights into my journal, head home, shower and write all afternoon until pick up, if there's no other pressing appointment. The other 4 days I'm with her juggling activities and playdates, sneaking in a little writing time if Chris can give me a break, otherwise waiting until her restless head finally surrenders to sleep while I write on my laptop until the wee hours of the night. We've got just 2 1/2 more weeks of camp "coverage" and then break until mid-September when her school starts up again. This is precious time for me. I have no idea how we'll manage it in August.

Three blocks to school, Sienna suddenly announces, "I don't want to go to camp! I want to stay home with you Mommy!" I look back at her expecting to see the alligator tears, instead there are real tears watering her eyes. I guess I'm not the only one with resistance today.

"Oh honey, but today is camp day. You LIKE camp. All your friends are there…and when I come pick you up you never want to leave." I'm trying to sell it.

"No. I don't LIKE camp anymore. I want to be with YOU Mommy."

Normally this would wrench me in two--my motherly guilt, my womanly frustration---inextricably tangled.

"But honey, no. Today is camp day. That is the plan. Mommy has to work. You know Mommies have to work too sometimes." There it is. I was final in my announcement, yet loving in my tone. (Still it's hard to justify my "work" as I toil away in obscurity, the only money exchanging hands is outward for my expenses as the bills pile up.)

"I know, let's think of a way we can make this fun," I offer, "and
I can't hear any whining or crying, ok?, because today is camp day…and tomorrow is Mommy day. I'll come get you as soon as I'm done."

Drop off went pretty well. I head out toward the bluffs and begin my routine. Easy does it. I'm feeling sluggish, disconnected, like there's a ball in my chest. No, more like a haze, a shawl wrapped around my heart, only it isn't comforting, it's un-comfortable.

My thoughts scan about writing as I begin to jog. Maybe I'll take the day off and post a piece I've already been working on, not one from today. I don't have anything to say today…

I tell myself to go slow, take it easy. I turn the tempo way down on my pace. This isn't a race, I remind myself. I do this for me, for my body, for my mind, to connect to the Divine, to tune into God's radio broadcast. OK, I can handle that. Slow, easy. Don't push.

I cross the CA incline, take the curvy path. I can do the straight one after I've earned it on the way back. Here it opens up. There are the row of palms, like sentinels lining the royal view to her majesty, the ocean. Then the special tree, prostrate, gracefully bending, leaning over the path to the sea. Next, the Holy Trinity--three tall palms clustered at the root, their trunks shooting straight for the sky. So high. Ah, made it to the break off point. I did it. I'll walk the rest of the way to cool down and prepare for "The Stairs," 190 steps cut straight into the hillside, as steep as they are high. (or low.)

There are 2 sets of stairs. A friend showed me the other ones. I canter down the narrow ones that turn with landings. Can't lean too far forward or I'll tumble down. Very shallow narrow steps. Barely fit feet. Pretty easy, as it's all down hill.

I walk the block to the other stairs. These are the ones. They're wider, made of wood planks, not concrete, and no turns. Just a straight shot up. This is where people go with their walkmans, their ipods, in groups, with trainers, going sideways, kicking backward…all of it.

I approach the bottom of the stairs to begin my workout, looking for an opening in the traffic to get onboard. Don't want to be too close to the slow folks, but want to respect the really conditioned bodies who do multiple sets. You can tell by how toned they are. I try to give them space.

I gesture my hand for a guy to go ahead, scanning his degree of fitness and tone. He gestures back, as if to say, no, go ahead. We do that back and forth thing. I hesitate.

He says, "I need someone to inspire me." Fine.

"C'mon!" I bark, half pissed, half drill sergeant. Let's go. Let's get this show on the road. And really, I know you just want to look at my ass. Guys have been looking at my lilywhite black ass since junior high. Asshole.

The "c'mon!" was my own command. I take off 2 steps at a time, pushing up the incline, passing dilettantes who have time to chat. I don't look back, but I don't hear him. He is dust.

I bound up the whole set, passing everyone, legs burning, pissed off. Who's gonna inspire ME?! I guess I'll just have to inspire myself. We can't do it for others. We can only do our OWN work, right?

Just to push myself, I take on the first set of stairs again, tiny narrow concrete steps, turning down the steep hillside. Down's not so bad. Less crowded. More shady. Nice. At the bottom, I walk a little to the left to loosen up the burn in my legs. Ah, I discover a secret 3rd set of steps. Hmmm, wonder where those go?

For a moment, I ponder taking the road less traveled. Nah, been doing that all my life. Today, I'm gonna stick to the path.

I walk back and climb up the steep, narrow concrete steps. It's burning. Geez, how many fricken' steps are there? I look down at the little orange marker. It says 15. I know the third number has worn away, so 150? Already? By 175 it gets hard. Then I see 185 and push my way up the last 5 steps to the top. Legs burning, lungs gasping, I did it. Two sets. Yes! Shit.

As I walk the few blocks back to the "bluff path" calming my breath, ready to retrace my path, my mind starts to think about writing. It is open, flowing. Damn. Sure wish I had my journal. It's a conflict: Can't really jog with a laptop, can you? Can't flow like this without my running "practice." Hmmm.

I visualize opening a Word Doc. Lord, grant me the clarity to REMEMBER my thoughts. Then I think, well, my thoughts ARE my writing. I AM writing, just in my head. THIS is my blog. It's the state of my mind, my heart. Today.

But what good are thoughts if they aren't recorded? What good are breakthroughs and insights if no one else gets to benefit from them? I did all that work. I deserve to be documented. HEARD. Bingo.

Back to my Word Doc….in my head, of course. I open it up and choose a font carefully. Times--too conservative, too constricting. Papyrus--I used to use it. Nah, feels like I'm trying too hard. Arial--ah, a good fit. Straight, but with a bit of grace. I like it.

Can't open my internet browser without seeing the headline news on my homepage. Can't get to Bloggerville without seeing some graphic image of another explosion in Lebanon. Another pile of rubble. Poor people.

My dad was born in Beirut, raised in Palestine and parts of Lebanon I'll never know, like the parts I'll never know of him. He left when I was 3 and my mom raised us.

I do know that they're a vulnerable people…gypsies, nomads, drifters. Every 5 years it seems someone is demanding they bend over, then rapes them in the ass. No boundaries, no self-esteem, no identity. They shut up and take it. Or flee. The Armenians (half my heritage), have been fleeing their whole history, taking on other cultures, chameleon-like, just trying to blend in and be safe.

I think of Bush and how he's brainwashing the American people. Dumbing us down. To the point of numbness and apathy. Wake up. Wake the fuck up. Is this the 21st century? Have we given away all our power?

(edit, edit, edit.)

After my political tirade is over, my heart heavy and sad, my legs strong and free, I come to this conclusion:

Conditioning is the shit we take on in order to survive our life.
Conditioning is the shit we take off in order to see our strength revealed.

As I see the fat cells burn away, my lungs stronger, my legs more defined, carriage more centered and present, I know I am growing. I am changing. I am taking control over my life. I am choosing ME. Don't fuck with me. I am feeling my power.

Dancemaster Luigi once hit his chest and said, "This is the rhythm of life. Even if you can't walk, you always have that. It is your center. Feel from the inside out." In french they call it port-des-bras. As you turn your carriage, moving your arms this way or that, you hold your intention and direction clearly. Your presence to the world says, "This is me. Here I am." It's the walk of life. We all have that. Even if it is buried. I'm unburying it.

My little Namasté speedboat anchored in the heart slices through the water, obstacles spraying left or right. I am centered. I am grounded. I am here.


Back to the drawing board on the Barry White track for the dairy company. "The Client" says it isn't catchy or upbeat enough for them. Assholes. Barry White isn't upbeat or catchy, he's deep, dark, and deliciously mid-tempo. Soulful. Besides, can't you hear a hook if it fell on you? But what do I know.

This afternoon we did more of a Motowny 60s groove. We'll see if that's catchy. At least, let it catch us the gig.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Perspective (The Practice)

A friend asked me recently if I had a meditation practice. I chuckled. Well, yes, I mean, no, not at the moment. I thought for a minute. How could I sum up my history in a few short phrases? How could I impart the depth of my spiritual life and "practice" without TMI? (Too Much Information?)

One day I'll launch into my meditation-guru-ashram-building a retreat center-years, and how I left there hoping to integrate my spiritual experience into "daily life" rather than remain a monk-like recluse, but not today. Not yet. My friend was just beginning to meditate. She wouldn't be able to hear all of that.

I thought about it and told her, at times I've had both a meditation and a yoga practice. I used to meditate alot. But right now my "practice" looks like this:

Running… as a practice.
Blank sheet of paper… as a practice.
Mothering… definitely a practice.

Anything done consciously is a practice. It helps if it is repetitive and raises your awareness. Life is a practice.

On running:
One foot in front of the other. Over and over. Until you no longer feel what your body is doing, it is just doing it. Over and over. One foot in front of the other. Each time pushing through the invisible cloud of resistance that is thought and sweat and muscles and gravity. Or is it the cocktail from last night that is slowing me down? One foot in front of the other. Steady, easy pace.

Putting the sneakers on is the hardest part. That's the commitment part. Once I get there, I just start. One foot in front of the other. Over and over. Breathe in breathe out. In and out. One foot in front of the other. In and out. Insight comes.

This isn't a race. I just need to move.

Thoughts arise and fall away. Visuals focus in and fade out. One foot in front of the other. Breathe in breathe out. Over and over.

Lungs expand. Legs awaken. I don't even look at the ocean, I just know it is there. Always there. Always will be there. Foot in front of the other, bump, bump, bump, bump. My own internal tempo.

Mountains rise up, sun beats down. Sand at my feet. Stay on the path.

Eyes survey:
"Boy, they're slow. They're cruising. They're in shape. They're not."
Inconsequential thoughts drift by like the scenery as I focus straight ahead.

Who am I to judge?

Maybe they've just had a baby
Maybe they've just recovered from an injury
Maybe it's the first time they've run in 11 years
Maybe there's a blister on their foot--or a stitch in their side
Maybe they're working out a scene for a novel
Maybe they're replaying damaging dialogue from their childhood
Maybe they're just trying to recover from a hard night
Maybe they've already lost 25 lbs even though you can't see it
Maybe they've already run 10 miles before you passed them
Maybe they've already done 6 sets of stairs and are cooling off on the 7th
Maybe they're right where they need to be

Are they fast or slow? Just starting or finishing? Hitting their stride? One person's fast is another's slow. Either way they're out there. Slogging.

What is truth?

It depends on the perspective. It's all relative to the snapshot and the position (and temperament) of the viewer. We're all out there doing our thing.


Today I saw a woman running with her cat. No kidding. I had to check and see if it really was a cat on a leash and not one of those little yappy dogs that are everywhere these days. Nope. Cat. On a leash. Running ahead of her cute blonde pony-tail-bobbing, thighs-as-skinny-as-my-arm kinda chick owner in tight leggings and a white tank top, pulling the leash taught as it led the way.

"Honey! I'm taking the cat out for a jog… Be back later!"

Only in LA.

No wonder we get a bad wrap.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I don't even like Stevie Nicks, not specifically. Never really got into her witchy symbolism or her layers of spinning skirts, but I was a huge Fleetwood Mac fan. They were part of the soundtrack to my life, along with a huge bandwidth of music that included soul, funk, pop, classical and classic rock.

"Oh my God, where did you get this?" I said, reaching into a milk crate stuffed with cds already "ripped" into the ipod playlist, waiting to be sold on the cheap at some future yard sale. "I remember this one."

Recently my 4-year-old has taken an interest in adult music, or maybe it's more that we're completely over and have banished any sort of toddler tunes, Disney or otherwise. Although entertaining, we even tired of the They Might Be Giants kids cds. Can't do it anymore. My ears can only take so much repetition. We moved on to the Beatles so she can be exposed to great melody, harmony and counterpoint, but we've already worn out Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, so now she listens to Guster, Coldplay, the Gin Blossoms, Counting Crows, the Pretenders, Howie Day, Toad the Wet Sprocket, and whatever else I put into the car's cd changer. She has also been asking to hear some of the music I listened to as a girl.

Then, we stumbled upon that first Fleetwood Mac album, the one before Rumors, the first record when Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the band, the record that would change lives. It's in the car now.

I can't seem to get through "Crystal" without tearing up. I don't know, is it the hormones, or am I weeping for a past that seemed so innocent, so possible?

Personally I remember my lithe dancer's body, flat-chested in a tank top and jeans, passionate and propelled forward as if by some unyielding knowledge of what I must do to express myself, like I'd die if I couldn't, made only more bittersweet by the knowledge of what I didn't accomplish in hindsight. I'm a realist now.

Or maybe I'm crying because professionally, that band would never exist today. It couldn't. Not the way the music business is run now. You couldn't put an album out that sounded so disparate from track to track. No label would buy it. And 3 lead singers? That would only fly if it was a girl band, something like Destiny's Child or the Spice Girls. And my favorite cuts, "Crystal, " "Landslide," and "World Turning" aren't necessarily "radio-ready" singles, so they'd probably be dropped from the record altogether or at least buried past track 9 or 10.

Or, am I moved because the lyrics speak of love, so universal, one can't help but recognize it and be held captive, motivated and magnetized into a higher state of oneness? It rings so pure, so true? I too was driven "like a magnet to the sea"…where I found love. Where I found myself.

After all these years, "Crystal" remains a gorgeous track and it still gets to me. I love the way Lindsey starts singing after only 2 guitar strums…no big intro set-up here. Subtle. Innocent. Then the harmony builds on the second verse. And the way the guitar and keyboards shimmer like sunlight hitting the ocean on the instrumental out…I can almost see it…it's stunning.

I love to sing Stevie's harmony part as I'm driving in my car through the streets of LA, carefully blending my phrasing to match Lindsey's as if I had the headphones on in the booth and was tracking it myself. I wonder why Stevie wrote that song yet had Lindsey sing it, as if in those days she wasn't confident enough to sing her own lead vocals. I also notice that even though she wrote it, she had to give up her publishing, splitting it three ways. I suppose you have to give in order to get. (That part hasn't changed.)


Do you always trust your first initial feeling?
Special knowledge holds true, bears believing

I turned around and the water was closing all around
Like a glove, like the love that had finally, finally found me

And then I knew in the crystalline knowledge of you
Drove me through the mountains
Through the crystal-like and clear water fountain
Drove me like a magnet
To the sea
To the sea…

How the faces of love have changed turning the pages
And I have changed, oh, but you, you remain ageless

I turned around and the water was closing all around
Like a glove, like the love that had finally, finally found me

And then I knew in the crystalline knowledge of you
Drove me through the mountains
Through the crystal-like and clear water fountain
Drove me like a magnet
To the sea
To the sea…

©1973 Buckingham/Nicks Music/Dona Marta Music (ASCAP)


Today I sang on a session for a Midwestern dairy ad campaign. It was a Barry White sounding groove and I was one of the groovettes. It was lovely to add the oo's and ah's, stacked up like a good chocolate layer cake, breathy and lush, frosting the track. Damn, that old sound sounded good. Put a glow on the rest of my day.

Ally McBeal's Ikettes got nothin' on N. and my 6-part harmonies!

Wish more of my life, my music, was that easy and satisfying.

There's nothing better than dancing around with your 4-yr-old to the sounds of Barry White and the Love's Unlimited Orchestra…real or our ad campaign facsimile. As we listen to the playback, wild blonde hair flying, she runs, jumps and spins with such freedom, such utter abandon, it is pure expression. Wordless. Timeless.

I'm done in by it.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


Impermanence. Inconsequence. Insignificance.

We're all just footprints in the sand…to be washed away by the rising tide. The tide always rises.

Linda died yesterday. I was right there, 2 doors down, watering the grass clippings back into the lawn, recycling the piles of prunings and weeds from the day's gardening, chasing my daughter around the yard. A hook and ladder, then another fire truck, and then a paramedic truck pulled up our block.

Damn, it's Les, we all thought, our 95-year-old neighbor, as we hovered closer. I can still smell his stogie lingering after he shuffles up and down the block in his blue coveralls and plaid bedroom slippers. Poor guy. So depressed all the time, heart as big as the moon, waiting to die. Still shuffling up and down the block, slowly up and down, sometimes leaving gardenias at our doorstep, "for the little one," he'd say, or stopping to pet the cat while he caught his breath.

But it wasn't Les, it was Linda, his daughter. She was 62 I think. Had a terrible lung condition compounded by cigarettes and a drug habit. Couldn't ever seem to get her life together. She hadn't been well for some time. They lived together, she supposedly to take care of him. I couldn't tell who was taking care of whom.

She just fell and couldn't get up. "I've fallen and I can't get up." It's almost comical in it's simplicity, except it's tragic. Frail Les, hollowed and weak, bless his heart, tried to pick big Linda up and get her to her bed. She never woke up. She just let go.

What is it when a parent outlives his children? Les had already lost his wife and son years ago and now this, his other child too. What is the significance, the lesson of that? How much loss can one heart take?


I think of all the inconsequential things in my life…all the hours, days, weeks, years spent in pursuit…of the perfect pirouette, heart-wrenching melody, lyrics that rang true, show that entertained, lover who stuck around, youthful beauty and glamour. Who cares about ballet, music, art, well-crafted pop songs, a good meal, movies, stupid tv theme songs or jingles that sell a car? It's impermanent. In the face of death, it's meaningless. Disposable.

This is a funny town. A lot of people hate LA. They say it's so shallow, so plastic. Yes it is, it is, it CAN be, if you subscribe to that kind of nonsense. But you're missing the point, my friends, if that's all you can see.

Life is a buffet. Pick up a plate and take your pick…

You want plastic? Pick up a twinkie.There's an endless supply.
You want organic? Amazing things grow in this climate.
You want inspired? Go to any number of places, artistic, spiritual or otherwise.
You want beauty? There's an abundance of it.
You want wealth? This town is dripping in it.
You want vistas? We got vistas.
You want real? You can find that too.
You want make-believe? We got that in spades!

We got your jello, your vanilla, your leafy green, your silicone, your vegan, your botox, your meat, your designer threads, your actor studs, your artisans, your charlatans, your real and your surreal, your exotic and your erotic, your sunshine, your citrus blossoms and jasmine, ocean and pearls, friends and yoga, meditation, incantation, creation, suburbia, mommy groups, revitalization of the public school systems, revitalization of independent thinkers, self-made men and women, entrepreneurs and much, much more… create what you want.

If you can think it, you can achieve it. It's all here. Prime for the picking. So what are you going to put on your plate?

Pick wisely.

It'll all be done soon any way…and our footprints will cover over…invisible… as the tide rushes in and washes it all out to sea.

I sure hope my life will mean something at the end of my days. That my contribution will be worthwhile.


I'm running along the ocean bluffs again today and am reminded of a song I wrote a few years ago. We started to track it for a 2nd album and then scrapped the whole project. Still like the song though. Sure wish I could post an mp3 so you could hear it.


They say that time is merely illusion
And time doesn't ever last
Like a train at light speed zipping out into orbit
Just a time warp- better hold on fast

Get it while you can
Before it slips through your hands

But I feel it ticking away - a little more every day
And patience - is more than I can do
I wanna turn back time-time stand still-baby for one last thrill
Just a moment - before you fade to grey

Get it while you can
Before it slips through your hands
You don't know if this minute will be your last chance

London Bridge is falling down
The Big Ole Egghead's lost his crown
Sunken ships were never found
And ancient walls are tumbling down to the ground

Get it while you can
Before it slips through your hands
We never know if this very minute
might be the last chance we have

They say that time is merely illusion
And time doesn't ever last…

Lyrics reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Little Trophies

I have never been one of those women who longed to be pregnant (“right now!”), or got a knot in my stomach every time I saw little baby shoes or a pregnant belly. I was never on a race with my girlfriends to see who could acquire the biggest ring on her finger as I aimlessly passed time in this or that boring job, waiting for the day Mr. Right came along to define me. I never fantasized about my wedding day or perfect little house or life as a doting mother to her future full of kids. No, I’ve never related to any of that kind of mindset. Biological clock? Try career timebomb ticking away…that was the clock that held me captive.

I decided long ago that if I didn’t become a household name by 25 (30 max), I’d just as well give up…or jump in a lake. I laid my life on the line for a big, fat career and financial independence…on camera or on stage if possible. Anything front and center. (Oh, the vanity, oh the youthful ignorance!) I wanted Big, I wanted Loud, I wanted Fabulous ME, ME, ME to be trumpeted all over the world. I always wanted to be Somebody, not BE with somebody and certainly not MAKE a little somebody else!

See, I wasn’t identifying with that big maternal life change most women want…having their needs met by having a baby and a man. I certainly never set out to get married and never even thought about kids. Me? A mother? After what I'd been through? No way. Instead, I wanted to line my nest with trophies and benjamins…and world travel. Excitement.

Best intentions aside, however, my story reads like a rat in a labyrinth. Or a hamster in a gerbil cage, spinning the ubiquitous wheel of never getting anywhere and always feeling a bit out of place. Is this all there is?

Yet somehow the path I was on, through its twists and turns, led me here. No trophies to speak of really, only a few benjamins, a handful of bills and some good stories to tell. Lots of travel, yes. Lovers on every coast and some in-between too. But no household name, although I still own mine--name that is.

So...I'm well past 30, no lake but I live by the ocean, and now, with a husband, a home, and a kid. Stable. The home I never had. The love I never felt either. The goal I never knew I meant to achieve. The opportunity to transcend all the ugly bitterness and hate, anger and abandonment, need and neglect I’d come from. The whole ball of wax that sealed my fate was beginning to melt. The chance to love and be loved. Deeply. To heal and be healed. Profoundly. To begin again on a primal yet unmistakably essential level. Oh sure, I do want trophies and benjamins, and I won’t give up the chance to go after them still…but I’ve learned a few things along the way too.

It’s not where we’re going -- but where we are.
It’s not who we know – but knowing who we are.
It’s not what we have – but loving what we have within us.
It’s not when we succeed – but succeeding at being here and now.

And so the chapter begins…a whole new place…a place I’d never dared go…one I never dreamed to dream…a place of humble beginnings and acceptance. Of love. Of myself and of my new family, the family I never had. The one I made from scratch.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Waiting For Wings

Who Am I?

I am not so brave. Not like you. I lie, evade, withhold, I harbor secrets.

I tell it like it is, then deny what’s really going on. I tell some people some things and nothing to others. I recount my past with painstaking detail and brutal honesty, then clamp down and totally evade questions. I hide out and isolate, then spill my story for all to see. Online strangers seem more comforting to me than actual friends at times. I confide in my work on the page yet not to those around me. The closet confessional. I am equally repulsed and blatantly in love with myself. It's total acceptance…with a few notes. A walking contradiction. Truthful, yet hidden in plain sight. I hold truth, integrity and some rarely attainable achievement to the highest standard, and spend the rest of my life trying to get there, disappointed when I fall from grace.

For what am I waiting? I always seem to be waiting for "that time," when everything aligns and it is all magic and flow…to get to the good part… when past crimes will be righted, forgiven and washed clean away. The start was fresh, the current stagnation mine alone. I can’t look back, yet the future terrifies me.

Bravely I plod along like some worn down pack mule, stuffed with ideas and courage, burdened with doubts and unease. The conflicts of time and money, obligation and responsibility to myself, my family and others, are yet to be resolved.

They say the road gets smoother the longer you’ve been on it. Or perhaps though the scenery and players change, some things begin to look more familiar. But not smooth. Not easy. I'm not coasting yet. No time to rest if there aren’t any laurels to rest upon.

Waiting for the me I have yet to be, I lie in anticipation with a mixture of fear and dread, excitement and knowing…it’s inevitable…it is in front of me…resistance is futile...and yet I resist anyway.

I suppose it is nature’s dumb luck to be both aware and afraid. Ah, the divine human cocktail. Part human, part clay, part pure consciousness…blood and dirt, stick and bone, knowledge and emotion, atom and cosmos. So here I am, cocked and ready, aiming high, for what I’m not quite sure, but I hope I’ll know it when it’s time. And even if I sense what it might be, there I am in the middle of it, doubting, wondering, fearing, agonizing, pushing, evading, waiting impatiently and stalling. If I could just push the “on” button and not “pulse.” Turn it on steady and go, I mean, really go freely, without stops or excuses, without delays or restrictions. Just whirl, baby, whirl. That would surely be the drink of life.

Letting go is the hardest part. Surrendering the brain, the thoughts, the baggage. And waiting…waiting for the me I have yet to be. The me that is in the process of becoming. Waiting for wings so I can take to the sky.

Wings unfurl, stretch and aim high. Lighten your burden and reach for the sky. Fly free little bird. Fly.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Top Ten Things In July That Make Me Happy:

As a counterpoint to fully-caffeinated:

1. Cherries…large, dark cherries and lots of them
2. Watermelon…my new way to eat it is in wedges with a generous squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of Celtic Sea Salt from Brittany
3. Sunny weather w/ cool ocean breezes--oops, it 's like that about 85% of the year here on the Westside of SoCal…sorry
4. Iced cappuccino made with my semi-automatic Gaggia machine, Peet's Garuda beans, milk and raw cane sugar
5. Cocktails--hard to decide which is lovlier, a crisp glass of chardonnay, a lemondrop martini or a mojito made with fresh limes and mint from my garden
6. Entire dinners made out of salad…a little of this, a little of that on a big platter of greens
7. Fresh herbs like basil, oregano, thyme, mint, rosemary, Italian flat-leaf parsley also from my garden…always ready to snip, snip.
8. Peach ice cream made from my peach tree
9. Fresh figs (also from my tree) w/ crumbled blue cheese and a dash of good balsamic vinegar
10. Corn...loads of sweet white corn lightly steamed with butter, salt and fresh black pepper

Such abundance!

LOVE the summer...

Friday, July 07, 2006


Not enough has been made of Love. Pure, unadulterated, all-pervasive, unconditional…love. Can there ever be enough love?

Every time a new baby enters this world, it is a fleshy reminder of all the hope and possibility, the potential of unbridled undefined unrestricted love. Love that gushes forth so strongly and so innately, it can't help itself. It is automatic. It just is.

Love that encircles a mother's heart and being, forever changing her into more than she thought was possible. Love that shows the way to healing the past by loving the present while opening to the future.

Love so strong it encompasses hate, it encompasses fear, it encompasses detachment and conflict and violence. Love that is so solid, even its own solidity becomes permeable, and vaporizes.

Can we ever tire of hearing about love? Do we ever get to a point where we no longer need to learn about it, we're too old, too wise? Where we no longer need to be reminded that we are born of love, that we are loved, that we are in fact, love itself? Even if we can't see or feel it? Not just a few but every single one of us?

I am reminded of this when my daughter has trouble closing her eyes at night. She says she is afraid and can't do it. She says she needs me as she reaches for any piece of my body to hold. I am reminded again the next morning when she is having difficulty transitioning to camp. For what is it about separation, change that is so scary? Or the feeling of being disconnected (at least temporarily) so threatening?

I am reminded of my own struggles with courage and the need to be validated in what I do. Shouldn't it be assumed, automatic, this feeling of self-acceptance and self-worth by now? At a certain point in life, shouldn't I just feel fully capable, and love myself enough to make good choices, to trust myself and my actions? I still need to be reminded to love myself. To connect to absolute love. To go higher. There is always more.

I think of the body that has accompanied me all this way. We are still here. We are still going for it, my body and I. I think of the softness of my belly and thank it for the life it has brought and attempted to bring forth. I think of my generous behind and thank it for padding my many falls. I thank my shoulders and arms for being strong enough to carry my burdens and loved ones. I thank my legs for their endurance on a path I can't always see. I thank my mind for its ability to survive, to adapt, to recreate. I think of my heart, shattered and broken and mended with scotch tape and crazy glue. It stills beats, it still feels, it still loves, it still swells. I thank it for staying with me through this journey, and continuing to stay open and connected to the one consciousness. Love heals. Love endures.

Love is the trail of blood that connects us all. Blood lines. Family ties. Blood that signals a woman's ability to hold life in her body. Blood that surges from placenta to embryo. Blood that transforms into mother's milk to nourish our young. Blood that rinses a wound until it is clean. Blood that pumps through the heart that keeps us living. Blood that unites a people, a cause. Blood that spills on a nation, as we fight for our property lines. Blood that sacrifices the young for our rights and beliefs. Blood that is shed over other's demands. Blood that bleeds out and with it our consciousness passes…on…and returns to…Love.

Can we ever have too much love? Can we truly be ruined by hearing, "I love you" too many times? Do we say it enough? As I focus on expanding love in my heart I feel the pain washing away...

I love you Tanya.
I love you Chris.
I love you Sienna.
I love you sister.
I love you brother.
I love you mother.
I love you father.
I love you grandma.
I love you grandpa.
I love you friend.
I love you buddy.
I love you niece and nephew.
I love you cousin.
I love you mentor.
I love you neighbor.
I love you teacher.
I love you children.
I love you cheerleader.
I love you naysayer.
I love you California.
I love you gulf coast.
I love you America.
I love you Mexico.
I love you George Bush.
I love you Afghanistan.
I love you Iraq.
I love you North Korea.
I love you world.
I love you planet.
I love you cosmos.
I love you Divine Spirit.
I love you Love.

With gratitude and more love.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Tripper Family

Sienna: "We're the Tripper family."
Me: "Why are we the Tripper family, honey?"
Sienna: "Because we go on a lot of trips."

This morning we're leaving again on another adventure--a weekend of camping up at Lake Casitas, tucked between Santa Barbara and Ojai. Besides lakefront campsites (conveniently stocked with grills, toilets and running water), there is a giant water park nearby with sprayers and waterslides and a "lazy river" to tube down that undulates with man-made waves. Great for those hot summer days. Splashin' during the day, grillin' and sippin' during the night. Fun for the whole family.

For me it's the fourth trip I've been on in a little over a month. Two with the family and two without. There were the jungles of Tulum and Playa del Carmen, the personal writer's retreat up the coast, the amazing and life-altering Writer's Life #2 in Portland, (Bless you Jennifer Lauck!), and now this camping trip. What a journey!

I suppose her assessment is accurate then, we ARE the Tripper family. At least this month!

I know I've deluged the blog with long entries in the last few days, but it's just because I really wanted to get current. Now I shall take a break. Enjoy the weekend. Happy trails.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Floating In The Sea Of Salts

From Writer's Life #2:

I am so grateful to be home. Not a house kind of home, but an internal one. This is me. This is for real. I can do this. And I am. It takes a lot of courage--audacity really--to be who we are. To be real. Authentic. To drop the veil and reveal the truth. I am doing it. We all are, together, surrounded by one circular embrace.

I log onto my email account and am reminded to be grateful for the interconnectedness of our lives. Thanks to Entourage (my email program), my emails are sorted into neat little categories. An internal wave swells over me, expanding from my heart, up and out to the universe.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by great women friends…my immediate mama circle, the larger metropolitan mama group, the dynamic circle of moms from our preschool ("the doers" I call them), the virtual moms in cyber space and the moms right in the room. I am so thankful to be included, caressed by their care, nurtured by their friendship, inspired by their strength, and spirit of cooperation. We all help each other. We share each other's burdens, we swap stories and advice, we share playdates, cocktails and life.

I hold a vision of women, each powerful jewels, dynamic and flawed, joyous in their humanity, forging the center outward, each one cutting her own path, which then connects to the larger outer circle.

Jody had her baby…it's a girl. A sister. A woman. A fresh soul enters as old pain washes away. New light has arrived as we excavate our truth.

I am happy. I am sad. I am open. I am tired, and all this is true too.

* * *

I float in the sea of salts, calmly, peacefully, drifting off to another place far away. Time is suspended indefinitely.

Something pulls me back into lucidity as a pair of white birds--is it geese or swans?-- are flying straight towards me. Mouths open, wings flapping, heading straight for my throat. For a moment I am startled, frozen even, ready for the attack.

"Bring it on!" I rejoice, suddenly freed from the fear, "Bring it on!"

My detachment shifts the trajectory and now we're heading up to the sky. Large, feathery white wingspans pump gracefully higher and higher…until we ARE the sky.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

It's July 4th. Independence Day. The New Republic. The day we Americans celebrate our freedom and independence from British rule.

For me it takes on a more personal significance. As of 2001 (a space odyssey, we joked), July 1st was the day Chris and I got married. Not a quick road-trip-to-Vegas-let's-get-hitched-kind-of-thing. No, I was on the sloooow track. I was the "I'm never going get married or have kids" kind of girl. Strong and proud, independent and free, I'd lived my adult years on my own terms, captain of my own ship. "Compass Girl" was my theme song and the name of my first CD.


I’ve been around this world
searching for my lost pearls
I’ve dragged them thru the mud and swine
and I told myself it was…fine

A nomad and misfit, wandering spirit
east coast - west side - and true north, but
it’s gonna take alot of snow to freeze this heart
and I come to you still

following my own free will

And if it feels right - it’s alright by me
But when the feeling’s gone - it’s time to move on
I spent a long, long time finding my place in this world

It took 6 long years for Chris to pry back the armor and get under my skin, enough to trust him with this partnership and heal my thoughts on "men." When I first met him on the beach 11 years ago, he was not what I was looking for. In fact, he was everything I wasn't looking for and I had given up looking. "Have a relationship with your self for a while" was the advice I had followed. I did.

I was on my second round of The Artist's Way and had road-tripped across America. For six weeks in my 1985 Nissan Pulsar, armed only with 4 cylinders, a journal and an open mind, I was on the road to discover a new horizon. My meanderings departed Louisville where I had been docked after New York City, and led me to friends and strangers, couches and motels, dive bars and rock stars, and eventually a sublet in LA.

Chris and I met before I actually moved here. I joined a few new friends at a concert on Hermosa Beach for the now defunct radio station, KSCA, featuring Sonia Dada from Chicago and opening band Venice from well, Venice Beach, California. I was there to see the headliner and he was there to see his friends play in the opening band. He casually knew the girls I was passing "Kentucky bug juice" to (a tasty concoction of bourbon, sweet herb tea and sliced fruit), so he plopped down and joined us. He was everything I wasn't looking for: a guy, with a warm smile, sea blue eyes, who played guitar and wrote music.

Been there, done that, sworn it off for good. Not even looking, thank-you-very-much. Musicians had been my drug of choice for quite a while there in a merry-go-round of unsatisfying power plays. It was heartbreaking really. I was done.

Knowing he wasn't going to get to me, I thought we could just be margarita buddies and check out new bands together. I was the new kid in town. I knew almost nobody. I needed some hangin' buddies. He could fit that bill. And besides, I wasn't even looking…I was having a relationship with myself for a while.

This isn't the time to spill the whole tale, only to introduce you to my world and invite you into my blog. I find it fitting that I enter the Holy Bloggership on Independence Day, as in a way Independence Day to me is tied to the weekend we got married some 5 years ago. It's an odd study in opposites, but ironically I celebrate my independence on our anniversary, the day I got married, the day I became a dependant and the day I closed the chapter on much of my past family ties.

It is the day I finally dissolved the visceral need for a mother, the mother I never had, the mother who couldn't be present in my life, as a child or an adult. The mother who "just couldn't make it" to my wedding or to much else in my life, with no explanation other than "she just couldn't do it." But that was just her way. After a whole lifetime of this, I had finally decided to give it a rest. To stop banging my head against some dead end wall that was never going to open. To totally drop it. To truly move on. I finally got it.

So for me, celebrating my marriage, in celebrating our partnership and inter-dependence, was really like celebrating my independence from the past, (or the grip it held on me anyway), as I turned a fresh clean page on my future.

Every year I like to reconnect to that feeling and be grateful for the new family we have created, the healing that has occurred, and the ride of my life. For in learning to trust, learning to love deeply, learning to make space for another and then another, learning to mother, like learning to crawl, I am learning to live a whole new way.

The Compass Girl has taken root, blossomed and given fruit, and now all I can think of to say is, Go Mama, Go!