Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An Open Invitation: Celebrate Life!

Please celebrate with me on Dec. 8 and 9 (both or one of the nights, based on availability) as we mark the beginning of the 32nd year of my life. That's right! 32! The digits add up to five and so I'm sure it's going to be a good year. :)

But seriously, I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to celebrate having survived 31, which wasn't exactly a party. Plus, it's sort of a Birth Day party--the whole weekend will be art-full, which (if my life were a novel analyzed by literature students of any age) could symbolize the transition I am making into a new life with a fresh start. So here's where to be and when:

Friday, Dec. 8, 6-9 p.m. "Expressions in the Garden" at The Espresso Garden, 4121 Park Blvd., SD, 92103
This event is open to all ages, and will feature my friends Jareb Liewer and David Robinson singing "The Prayer" together, as well as several solos each. It's a gorgeous combination of pop and classical styles--you seriously MUST HEAR these men sing. Even their first read through blew me away. The Garden will of course be open to the public and serving coffee, though we are asking a $5 donation to support the musicians. I might sing a song or two (my first public performance as a vocalist outside church), but I will definitely have some paintings and photographs on display. The photos will be framed, matted or on cards.

After "Expressions in the Garden" the party will continue... Beginning at 9:30, Jareb will be singing at Taylor's in Pacific Beach.
So, drink some coffee at The Espresso Garden, and then head on up to Taylor's for food and drink and kick back with me while we listen to him entertain the masses. (We want MASSES at all of these events, so please bring your friends.)

Then, on Saturday, Dec. 9 (my actual birthday) for Ray at Night at Ani Homes
on 30th at University (across from the parking structure, between George's Camera and Shooter's)
from 7-10 p.m.
I will be showing my artwork along with a few other artists, and Jareb will also be singing. There will be wine and cheese and popcorn (they use ANI bags, to advertise), and it should be really fun.

So please come! After Ray at Night, I'm pretty sure the festivities will continue elsewhere in the Hillcrest/South or North Park area, but nothing is exactly planned. (I'm trying to learn to live in a less structured structure.) ;)

Again, if I haven't seen you in a while or if I've seen you a lot lately, I really hope you can make it to one or both of these events. Given that my presence at the shows is a gift from God, your presence will be present enough. If there's one thing I've learned this year it's that the love of friends and family is all anyone really needs to be happy--everything else is just a pile of stuff that can be sold, stolen or locked away when you're not even looking, and eventually you don't even miss it anymore. But the people, when they leave you notice and you don't really forget. At least I don't. I just miss them. So--if it's been ages or even a day since we last met, just swing by; it's practically guaranteed I'll beam at you and then nearly knock you over with a gleeful hug. (consider yourself warned) :)

Hi kids!

OK. It's time to give up the anonymity of the web and say "hello." I know you're out there and reading this blog! A former high school teacher can only go so long living in the "real world" (after school) before she's found and facebooked/blogged/myspaced about. So say "hello" already! I'm not even going to grade you on your grammar--though I may correct it. It's a compulsion I need to feed occassionally.

So you miss my advice? Well, here's something for all you college seniors (excerpted from a message to a former Falconerd who wasn't afraid to say "hello" to me):

Don't worry too much about trying to figure out exactly "what you're going to be when you grow up" right now. It's just like senior year in high school, when everyone thought their college decision was the last big decision they'd ever make. By now you know: they were wrong. It's just one more decision in a long line of decisions that can be changed later.

Take it from someone who knows--you can change your mind or take a break, and sometimes something will happen and your road will take an unexpected turn. I think the most important thing is to be true to yourself--which means you have to know yourself well. It takes a little quiet time to get to really know yourself.

After college it's sometimes a good idea to take a "brain break" and do a little travelling or a simple job (like temping at various places to check out the environments and see what you can live with on a daily basis). That way you can make a "commitment" to a career choice when you're ready, instead of feeling rushed just because "everyone else is doing it."

OK. I'll get off my big-sister/teacher advice soapbox now... I'm going to go make myself some tea. And also copy part of this onto my blog for the rest of the kids who haven't worked up the courage to e-mail me yet. ;)

Take care!

OK. So now, whoever's out there and hasn't said "hello" yet, but has told other kids I'm here... SAY HELLO TO ME! :) Welcome this old lady into the 21st century! ;) (Nick's counting down to 21... but I'll be 32 on Dec. 9. Seriously old.)

love ya'll!

Monday, November 27, 2006


Words get under my skin and I am physically uncomfortable until I have dealt with them somehow. This particular episode began last night when I was discussing the use of paradox v. irony with a friend of mine. It's been turning and turning and turning in my mind; I even had to get the Unabridged Dictionary out--yeah, the fatty. And then there was the question of whether I drew up a quick lesson plan (because I know you kids reading this blog miss my impromptu grammar/vocabulary/usage lessons so much!) or write a poem about the words or using the words. Or all of the above. But just now, in my head, I resolved that we are both right and wrong in our use of the words--and last night's conclusion was correct. It's not a paradox. It's not ironic. It's just good timing. And--dare I add--a blessing that we are friends.

To be explained to the masses later. At the moment, I'm merely hoping getting these brief notes down will enable me to make breakfast and do dishes with other words in my head. :)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Art shows coming up!

This is a work in progress.... aren't you just dying to find out what the final product will look like? Come to an art show in December and you shall see!

Get some while you can! The holidays area just around the corner (including my birthday), and a purchase for someone else would make me so happy! I love to make other people happy. That's what people bursting with love do when they have borrow puppies and borrow babies and a couple of talents... they share. :)

Expressions in the Garden: Dec. 8, Friday
Ray at Night: Dec. 9, Saturday

And you wanted me to post some finished paintings, so here's a sample:

Dream, Reach


Moving Forward

American Dream On

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving Photos

Here are a few, but there's more in the sidebar...

Brandon and Oakley and Paul and Olaina and Jareb and Grace Ann and
Justin and The Luckiest Girl in the World

Gravy of the gods!

mashed potatoes are a must,
but the littlest one might bust!
How is she the one who ate the most?

it's important not to let it slip!

or even drip!

Oaks pointed out that the light shining through the red wine glass made a sparkle on the table... so I had to take a photograph because "I like the way the world looks through a glass of red wine" (I took soooooo many photos of this and then realized I could recreate it another time when pie would not be involved.)

the night ends in food-coma induced you-tube watching
(Yeah, I know about you-tube now too. Blame the people around me and the fact that I don't have hundreds of essays to grade anymore.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Small Plates

The survival of the fittest for the Days After Thanksgiving That Still Include Massive Quantitites of Food: small plates.

I am now on a private reprise of The Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever In My Life and I love it. And the plate is small (though piled high), so I will still be able to do yoga at noon. :)

I took a walk in the neighborhood this morning. Mornings after holidays are the best--sleepier than usual, the privileged overstuffed masses rise late and the quite clear air lasts longer. The rest of us awake that early are in good moods--morning people are--and smile and greet each other in this secret-pre-day-time. We know that the world is better than it is and shows great potential. "We are the dreamers of dreams...."

It's from a poem:

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams.
World-losers and world-forsakers,
Upon whom the pale moon gleams;
Yet we are the movers and shakers,
Of the world forever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

-- Arthur O'Shaughnessy

ps. the links are to wikipedia, which I approach with great distrust, but since I actually know what the words mean and checked the wiki info, I'm leaving them intact.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turkey Final Update 6.0

In the fridge and at this moment probably somewhere on the I-5 North along with Oakley's new papasan chair (best belated 30th birthday present ever given!).

In some people's world, the dishes are considered clean. In ours, they are rinsed and ready to be washed again. (Justin is reading over my shoulder--"There was no soap used!" he objects. Ready to be washed. Tomorrow.

The best ever. I love everyone who came to share in our Thanksgiving with us. We are truly blessed. Yes, the food was orgasmic (see below blog entries), but the friends are what made me feel loved and happy. Gravy does not make a girl laugh. But you people, you people are pretty darn fun. Not to mention wonderful and smart and good and sweet.

So come back and eat your leftovers with us. I'll even tell a funny story or let you have some gravy.... nah, but maybe some After Eights (sorry, we forgot to bring them out... it's a Gupta family tradition to forget to bring those out. More for me. :) ) Justin just asked, "Is that true?"

Yes, and it's horrible because we work so hard to find them in a store and then we forget and when we're doing the dishes after everyone leaves we realize... (it's an English/Canadian thing from my mom, I think, the After Eights, I mean.)

And those of you who didn't make it here today--we love you too and we miss you and I'm especially thrilled if you called or e-mailed or myspaced me. :) (yes, I am making it a verb and a noun. deal.) Come eat leftovers with us soon please. We made 5 lbs. of potatoes.

The best ever. He cooks, he cleans, he let me go to church this morning because there was a Thanksgiving service at Grace Lutheran and I wanted to be in a cathedral setting to tell God thanks for letting me be alive for this day (I did the church thing and then went for a quick walk to The Center's Memorial Garden--it's a beautiful day. You decide which space was cathedral-esque.). And one day he'll be a doctor. (June 1, 2008, to be exact.) But every day, every single day for the rest of our lives, he's my partner in all the adventures we'll have--whether we're ready or not. Justin: "We're always ready if we have each other." :)

PHOTOS: I will upload them tomorrow. We are a beautiful, funny looking people created in God's image each one of us.

Turkey Update 5.1

Food coma: blogging and myspacing

I watch myspace videos now. Sweet Jesus. It truly is a new world.


pumpkin: no one wants it, but I do--for breakfast, so I made it anyway.
pecan: must be eaten

HOWEVER, the eating of pecan pie is intermittently interrupted (alliteration!) by laughter so severe that the plates have to be put on the coffee table so that we can double over and thus avoid peeing our pants, choking, spitting and thus accidentally wasting a bite of yummy yummy pie.

This is to be experienced: the return of friends who have visited already, those who have not yet arrived... anyone who wants some of the best turkey, GRAVY, cranberry sauce (made fresh!), mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and Hawaiian or wheat rolls or pies or cheese and crackers... COME AND GET IT KIDS! :)

Cheers and pass the pie please!

(The funny thing about this moment is that I am for once the kid on the computer and I'm with BRANDON and OAKLEY and JUSTIN.)

Turkey 5.0

Eating time.

Everyone who is not here needs to know that the gravy Justin just made from scratch is orgasmic. (Yes, I did just use the word orgasmic. I'm not in the classroom anymore.)


Oakley and Justin like to cook so they are. (My entire role in the kitchen this Thanksgiving consists of opening cans of broth, setting timers and giving intermittent kisses to the cook.) Brandon and I are myspacing for good music. Oakley comes into the living room with a bite of Hawaiian bread and the butter juices of the turkey. Yummy. Back to the music. Then she comes in with another bite (for me not Brandon, hmmm...) and it's The Gravy. She's raving and claims to have just bowed to my husband. (She's Thai and this is relatively meaningful/less to her.) I eat the bite, say, "Oh my God!" get up, step over the chair... and now I don't remember if I hugged Justin first or ate more bread and gravy first. But that's what happens when a man makes good gravy. :)

Eat up folks!

Turkey 4.0

But seriously. Really. Yeah.

And that's all the comments I can make about the conversation that has taken a turn since my local friends left--I thought they were the wild ones. But no. They were tame. We were stop one.

The turkey is nearly finished, the green been casserole is in the waiting position (what's that thing when planes... holding pattern) fresh cranberry sauce is chillin' (like me), *joking interlude, really can't believe I'm typing not and not actually quoting these people....*

Now there is so much laughing I had to spit my water into the sink in lieu of asphyxiating on yes, WATER, on Thanksgiving... .

I'll blog later.

(enough said)

ps. Yes, Brandon and Oakley have arrived.

Turkey 3.1

Basting. I get to look at it. At this point it should look more meat-like and less deadanimalish.

Or just somewhere in between.

But God it smells scrumptious!

Boy: football is on the TV
Girl: music was on the radio
Girl cannot stand it without music, though she loves football, but can't quite put up with the non-cable static version we have.
Music wins at the moment. Thank you Jesus and Bob Dylan.

Mimosas are good. Veggie dish is beautiful, but only people without braces or with braces and a penchant for olives can eat them comfortably. I HATE OLIVES. Olive oil and balsamic dip for bread, on the other hand, I can do.

Informed the only reason football is momentarily off is half-time. But I got to see the make up artists brushing stuff onto the face of the old-man-announcers Terry Bradshaw and Jimmy Johnson. This picture nearly satisfies all resentment toward the noise football makes over the Beatles (on KPRI now!).

Girl goes to make cheese and crackers plate so she can nosh too.

All will be well always. (Sorry Brandon and Oaks... we just heard there's issues on the drive through San Clemente. I'll have a mimosa for you, Oaks. You can't have OJ anyway. Justin and I on the other hand ARE OJ. :) )

Turkey Update 3.0

J: "It's in the oven!"

I love everything and everyone!

The OC friends are driving down at 1 p.mish, and bringing stuffing. So dinner will be around 5 or 6 (7 maybe--who is Chef Justin kidding?) because no matter how much mashed potatoes I make, without stuffing we are not actually having Thanksgiving Dinner. Plus, not without Brandon and Oakley. San Diego friends and family: Feel free to drop by ANYTIME. There is no such thing as interrupting. From now until then all those who swing by will be treated to a new gallery showing (mi casa), football if so desired, Cat Stevens (now playing--more and others to come), and all kinds of yummy things to eat or drink. (Veggie platter, cheese and crackers, cider, wine... you name it.)

Bottom line--food is good, friends are better. Come when and if you can and we will be DELIGHTED to see you.

Also, we're really casual around here. So wear what you want. Just ask Curt--I'm fashionable enough to know something beautiful when I see it, but confident enough to wear whatever I think is comfortable because I'll look fine anyway. (And yeah, say "fine" with whatever kind of accent you would like.)


gobble gobble!
mwa! *hugs*

*********grammatical note:
Use the word "much" with "mashed potatoes" because once they are all mashed together you cannot count them; whereas, if you are talking about the potatoes before they are swirled and you can still count them (also for French fries, baked potatoes, red potatoes that are baked and seasoned...) than you would use the word "many" because you CAN COUNT them.

This agreement issue is a very serious pet peeve of my English teacher heart:

How many potatoes will I need to make enough mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving? How many people are coming to our house? The answer to the later question will determine how much potoato mixture I need to serve, thus determining how MANY pototoes I need.

*ahh! That was such a rush! A grammar lesson AND I'm alive for Thanksgiving and all the yummy food (of which I will eat so much!)!*

Happy Thanksgiving


And no.... I'm not manic. I've been thinking about this for a long time. (The love and the thankfulness, not the manicness.... well, maybe a little thinking about it, but just for diagnostic purposes.) But this is my first Thanksgiving since I thought the best solution to my life and to helping everyone I know and love was to kill myself. And then there was the hospital and all those doctors and the breast cancer scare and everything.

But I am SO HAPPY TO BE ALIVE! It's a beautiful day here in sunny San Diego, my husband is loving and amazing and also cooks, and this year, this first holiday of the holiday season marks the beginning of the strangest cycle of 364 days I have ever endured. And I do mean endured.

So I am thankful for all the people (strangers and those close to me) who stood by my side (some only in spirit and some even from heaven) and helped me cling to life as a choice each day. I am thankful for all the people I knew in the life before and I am thankful for all the people I know in my life now--those who are new discoveries and those who have made it through with me and been so strong and faithful and whole and shared themselves in some way shape or form with me. I love you all. And I love me.

Oh my God! I love me. *tears welling up*

I never thought I get there, not when the sentence "I hate myself" was so easy to utter, when my response to anyone who claimed to love me was either, "You're wierd," or "Why? What the hell for? I can't even carry a baby around in me for nine months or do my job...." yada yada yada.

I love me. I didn't do anything wrong. I'm glad I'm still here. I have a terrible disease and it is not going to beat me. Ever. And I am going to do the best I can to manage it carefully and closely and without fear or trepidation or obsession. I am going to be a good person--and my definition of a good person is going to be much broader than the definition I have carried along for so long but which really belongs to someone else. I am just going to Be.

OK. I have to clean the house for the random number of visitors to be had today. Love you all! (But if it's not perfectly clean I will not judge myself and they will not care. It would just be nice if there were room for people to sit, though I must say the giant canvases do fill the space nicely... there are people living in them and just so thrillingly developing their way out of the colors and into our world.

I love life.

I love me.

I love Justin.

And painting and writing and singing and dancing and myspace (yeah--check it out.)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Turkey Update 2: told you so

This time with a chemistry lesson.

J: It smells good doesn't it? With the cloves?
O: Yeah.
J: I put a few extra in; I had to change it up a little bit, you know.
O: [in my head I'm thinking "Change it up?" I don't think you've ever brined a turkey before, leave alone used this recipe....] Yeah.
J: Plus we didn't have enough salt.
O: [don't ask me what salt has to do with cloves. I don't know. But I'm worried about words like "not enough."] Is that going to matter? That we don't have enough salt? Is it going to make it to dry or something? What's all the salt for, anyway? [I sat up and turned to him.] Turkey update!

And then he launched into a hypo/hyper tonic solution explanation, complete with hand gestures and pointing. I just lay back on the couch and watched, subtly glazed over like when I was in chemistry class in high school. (I wanted to understand chemistry but think I am physically and chemically incapable of learning it.) By the time he was done talking about it he wasn't sure which was which way, but it didn't matter because.... well, duh. Chemistry.
J: Don't quote me on that.

Of course not.

more to come... I'm sure of it.

O: So where is the turkey now?
J: In the fridge.
O: Oh, OK. I was wondering what brining involved as far as that...
J: It's like marinating, that's all.

Have I mentioned I hate to cook? I hate to cook. Falconerd girls and random readers: if you hate to cook you should marry someone who likes to cook.

And here ends update two. :)

Turkey Update 1 (I have a feeling there will be more to come)

Olaina After School

So far I have: purchased the turkey and put it into the fridge.

Just now (9:43 p.m. I'm sitting on the couch and stealing myspace friends from my myspace friends (geeking out, I know, but in the coolest way I know how) and he's in the kitchen with the bird ("Tom" (same name every year, chosen by the boy cooking the bird):

Justin: [from the kitchen] Can you do me a favor sweetheart?

O: Yeah, sure. [I type a little more, read a funny bit from Brandon's profile and start moving away from the couch]

J: The sooner the better.

O: I'm on my way! OK. What can I do?

J: Can you move that pot to the other side of the sink? [He's holding a 12 lb. bird and pulling off some shrivelly-looking goose-bumpy skin.]

O: OK. [I do it, and glance askance at Tom from about two steps back.] Do you need anything else? Because I really don't like looking at the bird.

And now here I am blogging, myspacing, while he cuts celery and talks to himself happily about the glory of cooking. I think it helps that we're brining with a recipe Oakley sent that requires Guinness. So now there's an English guy in my kitchen saying, "Oh, it's a happy fridge."

If you don't care about food much, it's good to marry someone who actually likes to cook it.

Meanwhile, I had to remove my paint palette from the shelf because the turkey needed it more than my as-yet-unused dollop of quinacridone magenta.

(And BTW, for those of you who care, I think it's important that you know that Golden acrylic paints are my favorite, whereas Blickrylic is not making me all that happy. Also, I was born on Dec. 9, 1974.) ;)

note to self and others: do not get your car towed

Especially not the night before Thanksgiving, only to be discovered 30 minutes before the impound lot closes.

Grace Ann and I went to Ocean Beach at 10:30 a.m. to go to Apogee--where John, the master of all body piercers, works and sells pretty jewelry. We were just going to be there for a little while, but then were lured by all the shops and the yummy fish tacos for lunch and the beach and the pier. So we were there til 4 p.m. When we were wandering back to the car, we saw a Farmer's Market and thought, "Oooo! neat stuf... hmmmm." Oh look! A car is getting towed! That sucks! Oh neat! They're setting up all that stuff! Oh my! Nooooooo.... we parked a block further down, didn't we? Where did we park? hmmm.... let's keep going. We're bound to see my car....

A coffee shop had parked on my parking spot. My car had been vaporized.

Legally stolen and then required to be repurchased by the legal owner for almost $300.

NIP: Negligent Impound.

I don't know that I've actually been negligent about anything in my entire life.

I think that today I just had a good and relaxing day, with a little commercial break for the traffic cop, the freeway, the three people in front of me in line at the window (better than TV--a story to be told later), the freeway and all the other people on the freeway on Thanksgiving Eve.

My life is a comedy with commercials. Like snacks from Henry's called Pirate's Booty. Argh!

The funny thing is, for a moment I thought owning a towing company might be the right future career move. It was just a moment though.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Reason No. 329402984 not to do drugs

I should not do drugs of any sort; they always do more or less or worse for me than they should do.

I was going to say illicit drugs, but I've only heard fascinating stories and read some typical just-say-no style literature. I'm just assuming that medically prescribed drugs failing this miserably is only a slight indication of what could happen in other scenarios.

Last week I thought I was going to DIE of a headache. And it turns out benzos--the class of medication I was withdrawaling from--are one of few that can actually kill a person who quits them too suddenly. My head felt like it was going to ooze out of my eyeballs and ears, and no amount of ice packs, silence (not really possible in a city undergoing construction on my street), or darkness was helping. Neither was 800 mg of ibuprophen, muscle relaxants, ice cream (worth a try), massaging my teeth/gums (could it be my braces and my teeth moving?), caffeine (could skipping ONE mocha really be the cause?), sleeping (barely possible). There where points when I could barely open my eyes, when I couldn't take my sunglasses off, and when I thought I was be sick if I ate or if I did not eat.

Then, on Friday, Justin drove me to the pharmacy to get my refill (I don't even want to get into how FUBAR the Naval Medical Center system has become), and three to five pills later, I think I will live.

I still could use a massage--for a while I couldn't turn my head; to see someone sitting next to me I had to rotate from the waist. I might try to find a way to justify investing in such a luxury. I might even give a massage school a shot.

Anyway, if the withdrawal from drugs my doctors want me to take is this bad, I'm not about to get started on something that isn't even legal.

Not that it's a question or a problem or there's been an offer--I'm just telling all those kiddies out there reading my blog (hi guys! Falconerds forever!): Just Say No! (as if I haven't told you before--and as if you listen to me... ha! but worth a try! :) love you!)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

how is it?

when music...
or art...
or love...
or laughter...
or paintragedybeautyfearjoytearandaccidentallovegrabshold

sometimes there is no letting go?
no forgetting?
no end
and no beginning?

just breath
and air
and waves
too much to bear

let's not negotiate the waters of friendship,
just sail on them...
As if there were -ships in space or time
that didn't need direction.

How is it
she dares
to wish for impossible

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Expressions in the Garden

The Espresso Garden
will be hosting Expressions in the Garden on Friday, Dec. 8. Art will be on display by Olaina Anderson (amazing gifts, BTW!) and live music will be performed from 6-9 p.m. by singers including David and Jareb with a mellow mix of classical, folk and pop music. We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Art & Photo Update! Thank you!


Thank you so much to everyone who attended the Artists Open at the Center. I had so much fun seeing my friends and family there and meeting so many new and interesting people.

I even let some work get adopted--I am only sorry that I forgot to get the contact information of some of my new friends so that I could send them personal thank you cards. So:

To the young man who took home the 16x20 framed photograph of Diamonds (the sun reflecting off ocean water on rocks at the beach)--thank you. That is one of my favorite photographs I ever had the good fortune to shoot. I still cannot believe I had the extraordinary providence of the being there at the very moment that the sun made stars in the day time. Who gets to see real stars in the daytime without any kind of visual/camera filter or medical/health intervention? Me! I am blessed to have had the camera with me, to have looked at the ground instead of ahead at the waves for a moment, and therefore to have the opportunity to share Creation's beautiful tricks with all those who will get to see that work of art I happened to capture on film. (Still available in other sizes and forms if any readers are interested. I'm thinking of using it as part of my holiday card this year--you can purchase a store bought holiday card with stars for the same $3 and send the same one as millions of other well-wishers, so why not use one of these homemade ones and support a local artist?)

To the first buyer, who took a photograph of seagulls home to another state, thank you!
It was very encouraging to have a purchase within the first hour of the show, and it was a lot of fun to talk to you about the birds and show you all the different "poses" I caught them doing. (We San Diegans all know you can't actually pose a seagull--you can't even all that successfully keep one from eating your food at the beach...)
I suppose I should thank those two birds, who didn't fly away as I crept closer and closer to them while they looked at me and each other and tried to decide who should go first if one of them were to fly. (My favorite of those photos is called "Double Dare.") In that one the two are looking over a cliff that wasn't that steep to someone 5'4", but the birds are looking down with trepidation, as if they've forgotten they can fly,
"You go!"
"No you go first!"
"I dare you!"
"I double dare you!"
I think you adopted the one called "Take Off"--I like the forward action of that shot, the possibilities of where they might go. I hope they enjoy their home in a different state (on the East Coast I think you said?) and that they travel safely--I'm sure the long flight in a plane will be effortless for them and safe for you; a real treat for the birds. :)

And then there are the acrylic painting and pastel art lovers. What an honor! I always have a hard time parting with my works of art. We spend so much time together deciding what is going to come out of the canvas and the paint and the heart and the mind, it's difficult to say whether the painter paints the painting or the paintings comes alive and the painter is merely the vehicle who gets to hold the brush.

I can't believe I didn't take the time to give the two paintings and one framed pastel hugs before they left, though I'm pretty sure I hugged their new caretakers. I am comforted by the knowledge that they have found happy homes and that some of them are going to be in town and that those that moved to other counties will be well-loved.

I am not really crazy, but I have some words for my works:

"Why Not?": when I asked people their opinion, they were not sure which gender the two figures are; my favorite answer was, "Does it matter?" No, it does not. What matters is people think you are dancing, or entwined, or making love and definitely in love, and they are right, right, right. I have a feeling there will be more editions of paintings in this vein, but you were my first and inspired by my friends, and I love you. Why not?

"Lovers": Wow. I can't believe I let you go to live in someone else's home. Justin and I loved your colors, your flowers, your ethereal spirits blooming out of the flower pistils and entwined in the air. We'll miss you. But I think there are more in your family too--more of that style of painting calling itself to life, asking to be borne of my brush. You will never be alone.

"Middle Management": You are the saddest yet most hopeful one, which makes me sort of glad you live somewhere else now. That man, who was first just a figure so crouched in his pose he clearly needed something to contain him, became a symbol of Willy Lohman in The Death of a Salesman (the death of the English teacher in Olaina still clearly a ways off, don't you think?). It is a man full of potential, ready to burst out of his cub(icle) and really Be. There is light out there, but only a little comes inside the box. Where do you think he will go? I leave it to you to decide. Where will you go?

And to all the card lovers--may your joy and the recipients' joy be matched and full of love and blessings and beauty. A little bit of love from my heart to each of you is given with those cards--pass it on. Pay it forward. :)

I can't wait to see more art enthusiasts on Dec. 8 at The Espresso Garden for Expressions in the Garden. The date has been changed due to a conflict in event scheduling, but it will still be glorious as the artists and singers share their love and talent with all who come through the Garden gates.

More shows soon!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

"Hope for the world!"

It's a phrase I use infrequently and only with sincerity. In my seven years of writing college recommendation letters for students it has only wiggled it's way into two letters thus far (three soon, I'm sure). I'm fairly certain I've at least thought it, if not spoken it with glee in my voice, a smile on my face, and a "happy-clapping" sound from my hands when I've seen small children do sweet but meaningful things, like share or give away something they treasure with full-hearted generosity, or if one of my teenagers self-policed the classroom if they heard someone use the word "gay" as a derogatory term, of one of them wanted the class to "adopt-a-family" for the holidays instead of just giving each other white-elephant presents.

But I don't remember ever using it for adults.

But this morning I woke up to NPR News voices telling me that the Democratic Party is regaining control in the United States. And now I hear that in Massachusetts (first name?) Patrick will be the first black man in that state ever to serve as governor. Best of all, the proposition that young women must inform (and thus effectively have the permission of) her parents before she has an abortion of any sort did not pass. Thank God. This election also serves as the first time I have sincerely liked a political race commercial--the one with the female voiceover talking about how sure she is that her daughter would talk to her about a surprise pregnancy and have her support while we watch a bubble float through suburbia. Then we hear a teenage and a motherly voice yelling at each other and the bubble bursts near a darkened window. Californian voters (though not San Diegan voters--shame on them!) have decided that teenagers are sometimes wise and right, even after they may have made a mistake, that sometimes they know what they should do and what is in the best interest of their own lives as well as their children's lives. They've realized that some parents are not good parents--it's not like people have to take a test to qualify, they just have to have sex at the exact right time of the month (a tiny little window, just a few days; a miracle that the Earth is overpopulated). Some parents are really bad. Some parents use their children has weapons or shields or punching bags. Some parents abandon their children emotionally but keep them physically, some parents abandon their children completely, some parents choose to have homeless children rather than pregnant (or gay) children. And some of us, some of us choose, to help those children as well as we possibly can.

So today, I say their is hope for the world, and this time it's people over the age of 18 who inspire that hope. It is the hope that people under 18 will have the chance to live in a better world than the one they've seen thus far. It is the hope that grown-ups can give children their own ability and opportunity and reason to hope. As Brian Naylor from NPR news, says, it's "a campaign based on little more than change." It is a hope won on little more than change.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Even TV isn't the same anymore

Grey's Anatomy character (GAc) 1: Two uteruses? uteri?
(GAc) 2: Uteruses.
(GAc) 3: It's pretty rare.
Justin (yeah, the one in my apartment, the one I'm married to): It's not that rare. I've seen it twice.
Me: (face frozen in an oh my God sort of position for several silent clothes-folding seconds)
J: You OK?
O: I've never heard of that before.
J: Sometimes it's just a septum.... some women have two vaginas--
O: Now that would be interesting.
J: One woman got pregnant twice in one and once in the other, I guess it's just where they guy's stuff goes.
O: Hmm... great...
More silent laundry folding, until Justin starts talking about not having any experience with twins, and how sometimes they share a placenta and sometimes they don't and sometimes they don't split right away, but he can't remember all the details, whereas the stuff he has seen in the hospital he knows better for the test.
O: Twins: there's two of them. Sometimes they match and sometimes they don't.
J: Thanks.
O: I wonder if the ones who have to share a placenta end up being closer when they grow up, you know, since they had to be so close and share stuff right from the start. And then the ones that didn't have to share aren't so close. There could be a study. I thought of a scientific study!
J: You did. (he smiles)
But then we realized we couldn't really do the study because we couldn't think of a reason that would make any money for anyone, so no one would fund the experiment. But maybe if it were for something like twins and heart disease or depression or something--and there were medicines for it; we could get a pharmaceutical company in on it.

Writing: an all new experience for me

Sweet Jesus!

I just finished writing my first letter of recommendation for a high school student to get into college this year. (don't panic--it was sent on time, but this was drafted & then posted later)

Remember, I'm on disability. Which means I'm disabled. Which means my brain does not function at the same fast-paced, multi-tasking, insanely-super-human-person-who-may-have-
found-more-than-24-hours-in-a-day way that it used to work. It's slower now, more like an elderly brain that likes to sit in parks and watch the birds fly by while children play with their parents and puppies. Things do not happen quickly with this brain. This brain hears the alarm go off to take its medication, takes the pills out of the container, puts the pills on the laptop handrests, puts the container away and then has a conversation and forgets to take the pills until it decides to type again and there's something strange underneath the palm of its body.

Writing one letter took me all day. Seriously, I started at 9:30 a.m.ish and, except for a one hour stint reading to my favorite smart little 1.7ish year old neighborhood boy, I worked on it consistently until 5 p.m.

Letters of recommendation used to be accomplished in one hour. One hour! One hour.

One hour:
Fifteen minutes to read the counselors packet, which I love because they're funny and I almost always learn yet more amazing stuff about a kid I already adored in the first place. (Funny: The kids answer a bunch of inane questions and try to use big words and then rate themselves on things like "intelligent, sensitive, sense of humor." I love it when they give themselves the highest or the lowest marks in everything. Come on! Be real! Sometimes when they give low marks and they're in the room while I'm reading I argue with them--"but you make me laugh all the time!"), the parent letter (Unless the parent happens to be a good writer they usually write, "My kid is the best and the smartest and started reading really early and is nice to his siblings and I'm so proud of him and he also does a lot of sports and is active in the religion of our choice and he's very lovable and loving." This blather does not help me at all. Tell me a cute STORY people! Tell me something I do not already know!). Then the peer letter (Which is usually much funnier than the parent letter--remember I worked with honors students--and they give a far more vivid picture than the parent letter: "she can move like a jellyfish" I think was one phrase I read. I couldn't imagine this very reserved girl moving like a jellyfish, so I asked for a demonstration. This of course is only true if the kid hasn't blindly chosen a best friend she adores who is really kinda spacey and inarticulate, but somehow the kid hasn't caught on, in which case it's "I can tell her anything, I call her in the middle of the night, and she's always nice to me and everyone she knows, plus she's cute and lets me borrow her clothes" woo! hoo! That gives me a lot to work with.) I hope for transcripts and the kid's own college essay--that way I know I'm not repeating what they've already said and I don't have to try to remember what grade they earned two or three years ago or which year I met them. But I don't always get that. Then I spend 20-40 minutes of writing and another 20 minutes filling out the forms and making photocopies of everything, and if I got really lucky, 30 more minutes driving to UTC to wait in line at the 7 p.m. post office get the postmark stamped on the right day.

Anyway, I'm ranting. This letter was actually quite a pleasure to write--I love the kid, the information came to me early, she's an amazing writer and one of the best human beings I've ever met. But it took me all day.

Usually one hour--two tops, and that's only because they apply to 23 (I kid you not) colleges and I have to answer the same questions several times and they don't fill out the part where it says to write the school address because it's in the "teacher only" section.

But my brain. It's mushy. It still writes well in some situations, but formally it can't remember what it's already done v. what it's only thought about doing. So I'm at great risk of writing about the same characteristic over and over again. College admissions officers take that as a bad sign. Fortunately, I had Justin read it and he said it was good and not repetitive at all.

I am convinced this kid will get into this school. She would be able to do it even without my letter, though I must say I wrote a unique, interesting and glowing letter of recommendation.

But my brain is mush.

What if I had to teach today? Or if I also had a piles of essays or copy to read?

I really need to remember that I'm on disability.

Out of fear that I will fall deeper into the dark hole of depression out of which I seem to have crawled at least some distance upward, I am so busy keeping busy with "active distractions" that I'm forgetting about the fact that I do need more rest than the average bear, that I am supposed to do something relaxing and fun each day (and those are supposed to be two separate things--no double dipping), that I am supposed to be gentle with myself (not get angry with me for taking all day for one letter and not getting everything else on my to-do list done), and exercise EACH DAY.

So I need to take it down a notch or seven. It's not just the letters, it's also the PR for my friends and the homemade cards and the business cards for friends and the web stuff and the art shows and the art class and the household chores and the social events and the foreboding anniversary of all this shenanigans starting almost one year ago and how different last year's holidays were compared to how this year's might be and how sad that makes me feel.

Hey! Do not worry about what might be. Stay in the now. Breathe.

Right now, my husband has dinner ready for me and he is a good cook. This yummy-ness is where my focus should be.

Oh, but the point of starting this blog was to share this conversation, I just got a little distracted:
O: It took me all day to write one letter. One letter!
J: Now you know how I feel when I write.
O: Oh no!
J: You've sunk to my level.
O:Oh God! (Partly in dismay at my abilities, partly in dismay for all those students whose inability to write I never understood)
J: Yep. I just hope it goes away by June. (That's when I help him with proofing his applications for residency programs.)

That's all.
Good college vibes to all you kids out there who are reading this blog! And I really do LOVE writing your letters and do a good job (I think every Ivy League has a letter from me somewhere in its files and a kid working on its newspaper) and I am willing to do more if anyone still needs to ask--I'll just schedule it to take a day instead of an hour. It IS an HONOR, I just thought it would be fun to write about writing them. :) And you kiddies who are in college now--you'd better be making the best of it and becoming kind, thoughtful, mature young men and women; don't make me have to call the Deans and ask for those letters back! ;)