We are in the midst of a huge storm, and about to have some pretty bad flooding, like 11 feet at the bridge in Guerneville, and that's a big bunch of water. It was around this time of year that it happened 3 or 4 years ago, and then it was just a couple of feet over the bridge, enough to snarl traffic. And we had only one day when we were trapped in our tiny town, by rockslide north of us, road collapse south of us, and flooding to the east. We could have gotten out only to the west, by boat, if we had one. Well, we did have a canoe, but there were 2 foot combers out there. Man, you have never seen a temper tantrum till you've seen what Mother Nature does to the coast during a storm. The river would get all churned up and turn to foamy cafe au lait, and whole trees would float downstream to Jenner beach, where they would pile up and sometime during the summer, burn, either on purpose or the result of homeless people not putting out their fires. Occasionally, a renegade propane tank would scoot by. And, of course, the power would go off, and not come on for days and days after the rest of the county. If we were lucky, the tarp would not have blown off the pile of firewood and it would not be all wet, because we heated the house with the woodstove. Ah, the joys of a house on the hill over the river and sea!
Town is different. The power stays on, or, if it should go off, PG&E scrambles to get it back so their profit-margin doesn't decline. Streets get some big puddles, but even our neighborhood turkeys can navigate through them. I just heard that downtown San Anselmo is flooded, which is a shame; why couldn't that happen on a workday, when my friend Taylor could stay home?
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Last year, really, last year, I saw this sweater at Coldwater Creek here in town, the real store, not the e-store. It was gorgeous, a silk blend, simply styled, just my thing. Except it was $59.99, or $60 (and who do they think they are fooling, anyway), outside my paltry budget at a time when I was spending beaucoup bucks on things like moving, a new refrigerator and washer/dryer, little things like that. Once in a while, usually at work while I waited for my dinosaur printer to spit out a long report, I would check on it online, like, it had to go on sale sometime, didn't it? Well, guess not. Until a couple of days ago, sitting here with nothing to do, I remembered it, and looked again. Eureka! It was $29.99! And in my preferred color and size! Perfect, especially with a few extra greenbacks in the bank from Christmas $$$. It is now in the mail to me. But, there's more. Because I was a firstime customer online, I got an extra $15 discount, which means I will have a $60 sweater for $15, plus shipping, $22 altogether. This is an anthem to patience, virtuous patience. In my life, a rare and wondrous occasion, sorry to say.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I have this love/hate relationship with electrical power. I depend heavily upon it for my creature comforts: hair dryer, coffee maker, CD player, microwave oven, and, for God's sake, my television. So I expect, when I have paid (handsomely, I must say) for it, I expect it to be there when I need it, which is all the time. So, yesterday evening, when I was blowdrying my newly darkened (very dark, too dark) hair and it just snapped off, leaving me sitting on my bed with half a headful of damp hair, in the dark, I was not happy. I noticed that the neighbor's lights were still on, lucky buggers. So that meant this was a localized problem. In fact, when I switched on the overhead light, it obediently shone down on me. A trip to the circuit breaker box was very unenlightening. All those bony little switches were on, so I turned a bunch of them off then on again, aware that I was going to have to go about the house and reset all those things that have digital clocks, or bear the indignity of having them flash at me forever: 12:00, 12:00, 12:00. No dice. The front room was all off, too. Our phones didn't work, and our computers were dead, too. This is very bad indeed. Fortunately my cell was nicely charged up, so I called our landlord first to find out if there was something else we should be looking for, which sent me on a pilgrimage around the house, inside and out, looking for outlets with little red buttons, which I dutifully reset. Still nothing. So we called PG&E. Now, calling PG&E didn't work very well for me before in the house on the edge of the world. We were always last on the list for restoration of power. In fact, once the whole town came on, after a wait of several days, and we didn't. I have always longed to be special, but this was ridiculous. But being in town and two women living alone, without telephones, works! They came over within the hour, poor guy had to call me from in front of the house to find us, but he showed up, fiddled with the circuit breaker box, and everything popped back on. Now, I realize this is a tiny problem. Miniscule. But let's get real. Life with a wet head and no coffee, that's inhuman torture.
Monday, December 26, 2005
Here I sit, with my big red cup full of fresh-brewed Ethiopian coffee, happy beyond words. Sixteen years ago, I was nursing a horrid hangover and a huge heaping of remorse. Little did I know that would be the last time that happened in my tiny life. And things were not looking up, oh no. My partner was in the process of moving out, leaving me to stew in my own juices. And I was terrified, with a lot of dandy things to contemplate in the future, like court and some pretty big fines. Yes, hitting the bottom, alcoholically speaking, is not fun. Getting sober isn't, either. It's just better than the alternative. I honor that poor broken woman on this day every year. She is not me anymore. And that is because I did the things I needed to do to change. Ooooh, there's an ugly word. Perhaps it is more that I kept to the high road, and somewhere in that process, I was transformed into something new and improved. So this week, I get to make the rounds of meetings where I show my face regularly, and give back the medallions that say XV, and pick up new ones that say XVI. Sweet sixteen. That's me. Again.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I used some of my Christmas money to buy some new music on CD, soundtracks to the new Pride and Prejudice (Okay, I admit it, I saw it again today with a friend, but she needed something sweet to fill her up with sweetness) and Sense and Sensibility, another Jane Austin tale, and both CDs are amazing in their lovliness. I am bathed in all this amazing music. Then I went to the Christmas Eve candlelighting service at the Center for Spiritual Living, we belted out some of those very un-PC carols and had a jolly old time. Now I am all decked out in my red satin jammies, feeling kind of holidayish, kind of. Actually, it is not bad being me today. Not bad at all. My life is filled with abundance. I saw all kinds of people I know and love, got to help another woman in her early recovery, do some service, hug a lot of dear friends and kiss my dog. How could it get any better? Well, it could, but that's for later, maybe next year.
Friday, December 23, 2005
I got my final papers back from my Critical Thinking prof yesterday in the SASE I left for him during Finals week. There was just the smallest moment of hesitation in opening it. Despite bending over backward many times, I couldn't do better than an A- for this nitpicky guy. Then I took a page from another book, and decided to kiss up to him, wondering all along if this was the proper approach for a spiritual being to take. Like, where is the dignity and integrity in this action? Then I tore open my envelope and found that voila! I had finally gotten that A, no little niggly minus behind it, just an unadorned A. I want to believe this was because of my superior effort, and I know it was my best work that I thrust under his nose. And in the end, it all adds up when I apply for the psych program I want, where I need a solid 3.0 average. So my sucking up was for a very good cause, in the end. Right.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Well, we were sitting around this morning reminiscing about our childhoods, and kind of whining a little, too. I am remembering my mother busily baking up a storm around this time of year, so that the whole house smelled of cinnamon and vanilla and chocolate, too, when she stirred up the fudge. We had Hallmark Card Christmases, with very tasteful flocked trees and bowers of holly and even beribboned bunches of mistletoe over the doorways. Sometimes, the presents were piled as high as the tree. You would think this was all very wonderful, but the truth was, my mother martyred herself to this process, and instead of enjoying it, seemed to labor under the burden of the work. Now, I love a good Christmas cookie. I am going to bake some myself this afternoon. And my roommate is making candy, too. But it is a joy to do this, really. I insist on enjoying myself, even in the stores full of maniacal shoppers, even in the wall-to-wall traffic, even in the rain. There's not a thing I can do to change any of that, after all. So I sit at the stop light, for the fourth time, and just scratch Boo under the chin, or sing along with Barbra who in crooning her heart out for me on the CD player, and watch the window steam up. It could be worse, after all. I could be living in Iraq, and in fear of my life everyday I leave my hovel. There is always something to be grateful for, if I work a little at it.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
My friend Bill has a license plate that says "ZMOMENT". This is a very spiritual man who spent his life outdoors and has explored his inner landscape as well. How important this concept is and how very simple. And how very elusive. I look at that picture I got for Christmas of myself at 11, and my heart is full of regret. I think of my next semester, when I will be taking (gulp) geology, and my heart is full of fear. Right now, as I sit here pecking away, my belly is full of apple pie that I ate for breakfast (hey, it's fruit, after all) and I sip my coffee, and I am mighty fine. Well, a little cold. OK, I just turned on the heat. That was easy. Ram Dass was right to admonish us to "Be Here Now". I saw the Dali Lama on the telly last night. He says the same thing. Don't worry about heaven or hell. Just be. Everything is temporary, anyway.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
So I was in this long, long line at Best Buy yesterday, and a friend waved as he hurried in, and made a little comment on the lateness of the hour. And I retorted "I'm done. This is for me." So there. You see, my folks give me money at Christmas, as well as a few little things, but money, well that works for me very well. Most of it went into the bank to buffer next month's text book purchases. But some I actually got to spend. So I decided to get a new book bag. My red one, that I bought at Safeway for $10, was really meant for a kid, and already was pretty beat up. Plus the strap kept getting twisted up and digging into my shoulder because the flanges were plastic and didn't keep them from doing that. It was bound to break under the load I was asking it to bear. I love my new book bag. It is a Targus and a lot more sedate than the red one, and I could actually carry my laptop in it if I wanted. Why then didn't I just use the laptop bag I already have, you ask. Well, because it won't handle the books, that's why. Then I went to Target, always a favorite place, for birdseed, bubble bath and binder paper. Also got some dividers and a little box for index cards, the ones that have been sitting on my desk for a month in an untidy pile. All for $13. When I got home, I set up my binder (the one that would not fit into my red book bag) with dividers for the classes I would be taking, in the order I will be attending them. There are pockets in the dividers for my syllabi. And this year I will not be cramming hand-outs into a spiral notebook, but can actually punch holes in them and file them in the binder so I can find them at test time. How dandy is that.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Wouldn't it be lovely to get just one do-over per lifetime? Like go back in time and not marry that first husband, so I could actually finish college when all the other kids were doing it? It would have been nice to not have to live by my wits for all these years, to actually have some education to fall back on, to make my living in a more esoteric way, instead of falling back onto whatever my employer wanted me to do, business-related things, of course. On the other hand, there is enormous gratitude for the strength and ability to do that, certainly God-given gifts that served me well during life no. 1, the one before I got sober. And I continued to persevere, that seems to be my forte, to cope and make do, so that now I can change horses, not in midstream, but at the end of the trail. It may seem like a little late, but better late than never, right? Anyway, there is a whole bunch of nothing to do today, again. And school beats working, anyday. How many jobs give you a month off at the end of the year?
Sunday, December 18, 2005
We had our family gathering today. My mother started this a few years ago, exchanging gifts on the Sunday before the holiday so we could all be free to be with others at Christmas, which has the effect of orphaning me, of course. I no longer have in-laws who demand command performances. Last year, I went to the movies. I may do that again. We'll see. Anyway, I came home with a haul, as usual: two sweaters, nightgown and slippers, a wonderful throw for the sofa, See's candies, it goes on and on. Best gift came from my oldest brother, a picture made from one of my Dad's old slides of the three of us, me and 2 little brothers, taken in 1955 when I was 11. We always got new pajamas, and I was dressed in my turquoise flannel baby dolls, my hair in little pink curlers, with legs as long as all outdoors. My kids got pictures of me when I was young; my son got one of me and his father. I had forgotten how young I was. And Amber got one of me at around 13; I was surprised to find how pretty I was then, so fresh and freckled. And my mother gave me a bracelet she bought when we sailed on Matson Line's Lurline, in 1963. It is still the vacation of a lifetime, one I will never forget. So, some precious memories went around the family this year. As much as I dread it every year, it always winds up to be a blessing that we are all still kicking, and can spend a few hours together in harmony.
Saturday, December 17, 2005
Last year, I was wrestling a 40 lb bag of dogfood up our many steps at the house on the edge of the world, and I noticed this iris plant by the fence. It was not blooming, but one leaf was bent down horizontal to the ground, and it was bright red. Such an ordinary plant, but that one leaf in a sea of green was arresting. So, when I caught my breath, I came down with my camera and took a picture of it. I didn't know then what it was I found so fascinating that I had to record the moment. Later, I had an enlargement made of the print. Once in a while, I get a picture that is just wondrous. This was one of them. It was balanced and had lots of interesting light happening. And I know now what that leaf said to me. I have always felt different. The red leaf said different is not always a bad thing. Different could be a Mozart or an Einstein. And different does not mean beautiful, either. Certainly this was a homely plant. But it certainly had pizzazz. Yes, I am happily different today. What can I say? It's a zen kind of thing.
(And did I mention, it looks like this plant is sticking its tongue out at the world? Now, that's audacious!)
(And did I mention, it looks like this plant is sticking its tongue out at the world? Now, that's audacious!)
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Well, school is finished for a while, and since I was up way before the sun yesterday I slept in way late today. I am thinking of maybe cleaning the house, and maybe going out to do a little grocery shopping (I wanted to stay in bed all day today and eat junk food only to discover I am totally out of junk food). I may wrap a few of the Christmas presents I have piled on the far side of the bed, or not. It occurs to me that Boo is looking a little poochy, not unlike me, so a walk would probably be a swell idea, too. I will have to get to the bookstore at school soon to sell back my books, and scope out the next tomes so I can look for them online, maybe save a buck here and there. And a peek into the ironing basket, that fortunately has a lid to keep the dust out, tells me I may have to dig out the ironing board from beneath the giant-economy package of paper towels and the enormous bag of dogfood, too. Gee, that's a great big bunch of nothing to do today!
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I have spent many angst-ridden moments studying for my Political Science tests. Somehow, this material is so murky and incomprehensible. And the best I could do was a high B on the mid-terms. I clinched on the last one and blew the essay question, well, I got 41 out of a possible 50, but that was not good on my list. So I really worked hard at the final, outlined the study guide and just in case, reviewed the chapters, all 7 of them, as well. And he still threw in some questions that I didn't know. Sigh. But this time, I had a heads-up on the essay questions because I ran into a classmate yesterday, the one I had taken notes for, who had already taken the final and told me the questions we would be answering, so I studied for that, and really dazzled Mr. Freidig in my BlueBook. Then, after handing it in, I found out that because I was there everyday, and did all those little assignments like designing my own political party, I had a 95 going into the final! I got an A in Political Science! I am pretty sure I aced the Psych final, and I had an A- going into the final papers in Critical Thinking, so it is possible I am an A student! Since I have nothing more pressing to do, like work, I think I should be an A student if I apply myself. Truth is, it is really hard. But I am learning how to learn, and trusting that I can actually do that. What fun!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Clinicians observing my current behavior might conjecture that I am in prodomal stage of schizophrenia. I wander around in my sweats, which I wind up sleeping in, too, muttering things like "Brown vs the Board of Education" and "judicial restraint?" OK, the psych final is history, and I am 100% sure of 90% of it, I think. It is, of course, possible to be 100% wrong even if I am 100% sure. Wouldn't be the first time. Now on to PoliSci, and I got creative and went online to take the chapter quizzes. Not good. If Monte does the whole test on the Presidency, I am AOK. Everything else is sketchy. I will continue to study, nevertheless, even if I wind up schizotypally affected. Add insult to injury; the final is at 7 AM. That's in the morning, way before my usual day begins. Well, something to be grateful for; there will be plenty of parking!
Monday, December 12, 2005
I just turned in my final paper in Critical Thinking. He said to wow him, and I did my best, with a doozy of an allegory based on the characters from The Wizard of Oz. Fortunately, I had this in my mind months ago, so I didn't need to spend a lot of time procrastinating and actually had the assignment done before it was due. So I drove over to campus, the first time I've done that for a while, and it was good that I did, because parking is still a crunch and I need to be on time for my Psych final tomorrow, no time to be circling the lot like a lonely buzzard. Anyway, there is a feeling of completeness already, having finished this course. I read the syllabus on the first day of class and thought, yeah, I can do this? Well, I did it. It was a stretch sometimes, but I kept plugging away. One of my short suits is discipline. I prefer to call it devotion. Then it seems worth doing. Discipline sounds like forced marching to me. Anyway, I am now devoting my day to my studies, what a good girl am I.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
OK, now getting serious. Did a serious AA meeting, a closed meeting where sobriety is top priority, before the fashion show and the peanut gallery mentality. Now I am home again, in my sweats, and settling in for a day of serious studying, and finishing the final paper for Critical Thinking. It is an allegory, and you would think it would be a lot of fun to write. I am kind of balled up on the ending. Will I let Oz survive the onslaught of self-serving government and runaway corporate power? Or will it slowly sink into the sunset, back to the Mesozoic age where slime monsters rule? My, talk about powerful. It is all between my ears. Just need to get it out onto the paper. I am doing fine with everything else. Study guides are well dog-eared, and books are well cracked. Bring on finals week!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Last day of class was a doozie. Our lecture was on violence, which is not a psychological disorder, but certainly ought to be. I have been a victim of a lot of it in my life. Today, if a parent leaves a mark on a child, they can be put in jail. Man, where was that law in my childhood? Wire hangers leave awful welts, for a week. My first husband's mother was beaten by his father, and he continued to tradition with me. He skipped the loving contrition stage, though, as he thought it his right. And strangely enough, I took it as a sign that he loved me, since the only time my mother showed any emotion toward me was when she was angry. So I grew up kind of skewed, and yet I was given an inner strength that has served to help me heal and grow, once I got over the need to anethestize myself. And even though I am verging on health now, I will always limp a little. Whoever I was supposed to be is lost to me forever. I can only become the best me I can be, using models of other strong women. I mourn that loss, and sometimes, like today, I get sad. And I am so happy that I finished the semester, well, almost, just have finals to get through. It is an accomplishment that I am very proud of.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I joined the virtual march on Global Warming recently, and now get e-mail from Al Gore. Wow. And now I have joined the 42 day Gratitude March, not a bad thing to do in this dark time. Honestly, is anyone else disgusted with the Christian Right, those people who kill doctors who perform abortions on undifferentiated clumps of cells? Now they are all het up about el Presidente's "Holiday" card. Do they think they own December? It is high on almost every major religion's list, too, numbskulls. Channukah, Ramadon, stuff like that. And not everyone in America is Christian with a stick up their butt. Some of us are actually Buddhist. Or agnostic. OK, I grew up with Christmas trees, but that was a pagan ritual before adopted by Christians. Even the Christ story belonged to another religion before they adopted it. No one knew when he was born, so they borrowed from the myth of Mithra. Heavens. What a tempest in a teapot. One can only wish for the spaceship Mayflower to whisk them off to their promised land, somewhere far, far away.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
I knew a woman once who always wore green. She was a redhead, and had green eyes, so green became her signature color. Until she underwent a psychic shakeup, a big breakup with a lifelong partner, then she segued to black. I like the idea of having a theme, though. I would like to just have one color in my closet, and never have to worry that things will clash with my lipstick or my hair color du jour. It's just that I don't know what color to choose. Black, well that's been done, and it is kind of depressing, and doesn't go well with Boo hair, which I have floating about me all the time. And I like white and all its gradations: mushroom, eggshell, etc., but it shows everything, and with my level of clumsiness, I would have to change too many times a day. Plus, my flowered underwear would show through. Red is an interesting idea, it just seems awfully audacious. Blue, well, it goes with my currently red hair, and is a possibility. But could I give up my sweet soft rose cashmere scarf? Never! So, pink? Oh, really. How prissy can one get. Yellow is good, but still, it is better as an accent, yes? And orange, oh nonono! OK, this isn't going to work out. I am going to have to muddle along in multi-hued splendor.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
I remember when TV dinners were new, and what a thing, dinner all in one little aluminum tray that you didn't have to do anything to except heat it up! It was really freeing for my mother, who spent her days chasing my two bratty little brothers around, to have a night when she didn't have to cook. And now, there are all kinds of prepared foods out there, pre-seasoned meats, casseroles in a box, jars of all kinds of sauces, side dishes like wild rice with herbs, gourmet soups, you can even order your holiday dinner from Safeway, all cooked and everything. For a few dollars, more, of course. For a few dollars more, one need never really cook, or bake, for that matter. Cookie dough is all packaged up and waiting to be cut and baked. And today, I saw that Kraft is selling crumbled cheese in a bag. Now, that just seems kind of lazy to me. I cannot imagine anyone who is so busy they are willing to pay more for a bag of pre-crumbled cheese. Grated cheese, maybe, save themselves scraped knuckles and a sticky grater to wash, but a moron can crumble cheese. Right?
Monday, December 05, 2005
Getting ready to go to a Saturday night meeting, I reached for one of my scarves to wrap around my neck and keep my chin warm in the chill night. I have several. One is pink cashmere and was a gift from my daughter. One I bought in Piazza Navona at a street fair (that's in Rome, the piazza with three Bernini fountains in it) for 10,000 lire, a restrained black wool. One is red and superlong, and I knitted it for myself. And the one I took that night was made for me by my son, a red plaid with tiny fringe, sewed up by him on his big old machine. When I was newly sober, 16 years ago, I studied the Course in Miracles. I did the daily exercises, most days, and one taught me how I invest things with emotion. Things are, well, just things. But somehow they become more than that for me. Like the coffee cup that is striped green and white, like old printer paper, and says "Friendly User". I found it when I moved, and was surprised, because I thought I had thrown it away. It was a gift from an ex-lover, and embodies pain for me. Glad to say that has changed, the charge is gone. And I am happy to have all these warm and cuddly scarves to remind me that I am loved.
Saturday, December 03, 2005
Oh, dear. My life has shrunk, again. I travel in little circles; home to school and back again, home to meetings and back again, home to Costco and back again. Pretty boring. And I have not waved at a cow for ages now. Funnily enough, I love my little circles, too. It takes a big event to get me out of them. So, when I went to Vacaville, sort of the middle of nowhere, Thursday night, no one was more suprised than me. We sat in horrid traffic with even more miserable rain for one of the two hours it took to get there, at rush hour, not the best planning ever. And it was all worth the angst, as we gave a presentation to the Solano Intergroup guys on how to wow the drunk drivers while informing them about AA. Since I had only done this gig twice, I guessed I was pretty far down my co-worker's list, and no other female from Sonoma County was willing to go. And since I gave up back-to-back episodes of CSI, it was a bit of a sacrifice. In the end, it was delightful being with a different group of former drunks, and we wowwed them, for sure. Could have skipped the dinner at Baker's Square, but it was 3 hours past my regular dinner hour, and I would have eaten road kill by then. It was a tad better than that, I think.
Friday, December 02, 2005
My turkey breast carcass is currently boiling on the stove with some celery and onion, and sage. Waste now, want not, as my Scots mother would say. She grew up in the Great Depression, and we lived with a frugal ethic as I grew up, saving string and rubber bands, making leftovers into casseroles, and what we didn't eat, the dog did. Our stove had a burner that sank down so you could cook a pot of beans, just red beans, onions and bacon, on a long slow simmer all day, and man, those were like ambrosia with a slab of cornbread on the side. And that pot lasted a long time, too, and they got better for the waiting. We ate tuna noodle casserole at least once a week, and Mom made almost all our cookies from scratch, too. She still does, fills up the same old cookie jar, just a big glass jar with a red tin lid, so that whenever one of us drops by, we can have a snickerdoodle or butterscotch brownie. Oh, and at Christmas, that upsy-daisy burner made steamed carrot pudding, an unlikely mixture of grated carrot, potatoes and raisins in a savory spicy dough, that you dished up with hot lemon sauce and a dab of hard sauce, a buttercream with whiskey in it. Sounds like a mess, right? But is was a feast for the angels. I forget that heritage in this time of solo stirfry dinners. I am actually thinking, once finals are over, that I will dig out my sticky recipe file and find all the cards that are splotched and ragged, the well-loved and well-used recipes, and cook up a little storm.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
Today I realized there are advantages in being tall, beyond being able to see parades over the heads of those in front, and being able to reach things on the tallest shelves at the supermarket. I also never get the hems of my jeans all raggedy from walking on them, like my little classmate in Psych. Indeed, the hems of my jeans never come anywhere near the pavement, even when I special order them in tall sizes. Also, there are good things about standing on the shuttle bus. There's a refreshing breeze up there, and the ceiling is upholstered in the same pattern as the seats. Imagine that. And then there is that satisfying sense of personal pride that comes from maintaining one's balance through the jerks and bumps, and not ending up on my ass in the aisle, or worse, in some poor student's lap. And I have learned that it helps your grades when you show up, even in scary, hairy thunderstorms like we had today. I got 28 of 30 right on my quiz, almost as good as yesterday, when I got them all right, my first perfect score. It looks like I will actually finish the semester, and emerge to go on to another. This is amazing progress.