Sunday, January 31, 2010

Writers, Writers Everywhere

Friday night, I went to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed book signing in Pasadena. Now, I know not everyone enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love. In fact, some of you kind of hated it. But seeing and hearing this woman in person confirmed everything I love about her and more. She was humble and real and so engaging. She told a touching story (which I may have to post about) that actually made her get choked up on stage. I found her sincerity truly delightful. And her book? Oh my gosh I loved it. I would honestly call it a must read for anyone on the brink of marriage.

So that was writer encounter #1.

The second surprise came when I got home from the book signing. I logged onto my email to discover that this little blog here had received a comment from Stephanie Klein. STEPHANIE KLEIN, people! Author of Straight Up and Dirty and Moose. I went to her book signing about a year and a half ago and also found her to be a complete delight. I was astounded (and ecstatic) to find that she had somehow wandered over to my pages. Wow.

My third writer exposure was to a movie about Ana├»s Nin. Though I didn’t know who she was when I did it, I recently put one of her quotes up as my Facebook status. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” A friend commented on it, referencing Nin’s diaries, so I had to investigate. Turns out (turns out I need to brush up on my literature…ahem) she was a famous 1930s erotica writer who had an affair with Henry Miller. The movie Henry & June is based on her life. And holy schnikes is it steamy! Seriously people, like soft-core porn. Interesting watch on the heels of When in Rome (Yes, I saw that and yes it was goofy but I just wanted to zone out and pretend I was in Italy for a little while…so I went. Be quiet.)

All this writer stuff has definitely made me feel inspired. Just what I needed to get out of my manuscript-ignoring rut!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Much Better Than the Running Itself

I’m registering for another half marathon.

With three under my belt now, I know what to expect when it comes to training fatigue, body aches, and post-race, never-want-to-run-again syndrome. Those are drawbacks, but in the end, they don’t outweigh the rush of coming across that finish line. And they also fail to cancel out the joys of connecting with your running buddies.

This is something that I’ve grown to love about training. Because I’m a wimp and won’t run more than 6 miles solo, I always plan my runs with friends, or in the case of my upcoming race—family. It’s so great to see the same people every week, and have the opportunity to catch up all of life’s little details. After each race I’ve completed, I have genuinely missed that time with my running partners.

I was reminded of this last night, when my cousin K—who’s doing the upcoming Santa Ynez Half with me Mother’s Day weekend—came over for a night of Kathy Smith DVD kickboxing. We set up in front of the TV and laughed to the point of almost peeing our pants as we punched and kicked through the moves together. I love that we are doing this. With busy schedules and two kids on her side, we don’t see each other nearly as much as we used to (despite the fact that we live 2 blocks from each other), so the process is already a real treat.

We decided last night that we would dedicate our race to all the grandmas we have lost. K lost her Grandma Red last year, we lost our mutual Grandma Mary in 2007, and my paternal Grandma Betty passed away in 2005. Sadly this week, my Great Aunt Doris also left us, and K and I are hoping our second-cousin L will be doing the race with us in her honor.

I think it’s going to be a really amazing experience. Celebrating mothers and grandmothers on the holiday weekend named for them; racking up miles alongside family. And getting ready for the whole thing with lots of workouts and laughter.

This kinda stuff sure makes exercising a whole lot easier.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Brain Interception

A couple days ago at work, I had this fantastic, amazing idea. Given that Mr. Wonderful had to spend his 35th birthday last year all alone(ish) in a foreign country, I decided that we should do something this year to make up for it. And of course, because my birthday is 4 days before his, I would get to reap the benefits of said celebration.

Naturally, I decided we should go to Napa to drink wine and eat delicious food. So I messaged Mr. W:

Me: Just had a brilliant idea. Let’s go to Napa in April for our birthdays!

Mr. W: I had this great idea in the shower this morning – we should go to Napa for our birthdays.

Me: Shut up! Seriously?

Mr. W: Yeah I meant to tell you earlier. Great minds think alike.

But then I realized what had really happened.

You see, that morning, as I was preparing my breakfast, I placed my juice glass on the kitchen counter next to my bowl of freshly poured cereal. I reached in the fridge and pulled out the juice, pouring it in my glass. Then I reached back and grabbed the soy milk—only to spin around and pour that into my juice glass, right over the top of my ruby red grapefruit instead of over the top of my cereal.

I thought for sure it was my early-onset Alzheimer’s kicking in again. But now I realize that Mr. W must have somehow intercepted my brain waves at that very moment, short-circuiting my pouring skills and planting the Napa birthday idea in their place. Pretty sneaky, Mr. W.

In case you were wondering, yes, I drank the milk juice anyway. And I didn’t die.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love Terror

Entering into my relationship with Mr. Wonderful, I was in a place in my life where I felt healthier and more independent than probably ever before. Maybe it was my age. Maybe it was the heartbreak before it that caused me to become so deeply grounded within myself and my own intuition. Maybe it was the therapy…

Regardless of the cause, I was there—perched atop that place where I knew no matter what happened in my life, I would always be okay.

I remember talking to a girlfriend one night and telling her that even though I was crazy about him, I knew that if things didn’t work out, I’d be fine.

For a long time—even after I completely fell in love with him—I knew that life could go on without him.

I’m not sure when the shift occurred, but for lately I’ve been keenly aware of it. (Especially last night when I watching the animated film “Up.” What a tear-jerker. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet seen it.)

I no longer think I could go on normally without him. I am officially terrified by the prospect of ever losing this man I love.

I don’t know if this is some sort of emotional aftermath from his being gone for 6 months. If the thought of semi-losing him again is just enough to put me over the edge now. Or if this is the path that all great love affairs go down eventually. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.

It scares me to feel so strongly—to feel so vulnerable. It pains me to even think of a life without him. The thought that something could happen to him…I’m really not sure I could recover. And that’s really, really frightening. Would I be forever broken?

The even scarier thing is, it’s only been 2 years. What must couples feel like after 20 years? Or 50? And if romantic love isn’t as intense as the bond between mother and child, how screwed am I going to be if I have kids?

It’s sort of funny that love even has this mildewy underside to it. It’s so hot and juicy that most people don’t pay attention to the condensation collecting beneath it, forming little fear spores. But oh when you stop and look…eek!

I think some spiritual teachers would tell me to practice the art of detachment. Realize that my life and self and bliss are not inextricably linked to this other person’s presence. But if we detach and free ourselves up from love and the fright of losing it, do we miss something in the process?

If Mr. Frederickson from “Up” hadn’t loved his wife so dearly, might he have lost out on the experience of landing softly where he did at the end of the film?

Maybe the terror is part of what makes it all so thrilling.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

And Now, A Word from the Universe

Last night, I had dinner with my recently engaged ex-neighbor Charlotte. At the end of our meal, I cracked open my fortune cookie and was surprised to see only one word staring up at me.


Below it was the Chinese translation, and below that were a string of lucky numbers. But that one word struck me so and seemed like a command from the heavens.

Wait. Stop the worrying. Stop trying to race ahead. Stop considering all the options. Stop trying to predict the future. Just sit here in this moment and be patient, damn it.

I actually laughed out loud when I reported my “fortune” to Charlotte.

“Well at least yours is better than mine!” she said. “Mine says ‘lettuce’.”

Charlotte wins.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Showing My Age (Times Two)

It wasn’t too long ago that my New Year’s Eves were spent collecting midnight kisses and drinking until the wee hours of the morning. Sure, the sleepiness would creep in at some point, but I would power on through and make the most of the night.

This year, as I mentioned earlier, Mr. Wonderful and I celebrated with my parents. We started in the late afternoon, hitting a couple of the local tasting rooms in Solvang. Then followed that up with an incredible prix fixe New Year’s dinner at this awesome restaurant. After dessert, we needed another vino nightcap, so we went to a cute local wine bar (although my parents were drinking pinot soda by that point). It was about 10:30 when we walked home and I was EXHAUSTED.

Mr. W and I went back to our room and started playing Scrabble—but I was falling asleep between turns almost through the entire thing. I woke up at one point and saw that the clock read 12:03. We missed New Year’s! We gave each other a kiss and then it was straight off to slumberland. No partying until 3 a.m. here, kids. I am officially old.

The other great thing coming with my sudden, new agedness? Having a runny nose when I eat. Sexy, right? This has been getting progressively worse over the last year or so, and now I pretty much cannot get through a meal without having to blow. Yes, I’m one of those gross geriatrics who honks her schnoze at the table. I guess I should get up and go to the restroom, but it’s hard with my arthritis and all…

This past weekend, I had 3 of my 4 nieces over for a scrapbooking-shopping-17 Again-viewing slumber party. Of course, they wanted me to take them to Abercrombie Kids at the mall and they were embarrassed when I said loud enough for the salesgirl to hear, “I feel like I’m eating perfume” as we walked in. The music was too loud. The scent of pubescent boy cologne hung in the air like a funk fog. And it’s so dark in there, you can barely see the overpriced clothes. Oh and a fake potted palm tree whapped me in the head as we were leaving. The sad thing about my attitude here is that my mother (30 years my senior) has gone on the same rant.

It frightens me that all these elderly tendencies are rearing their wrinkled little heads so early in my life. If I’m this bad now, who knows what I’ll be like in 5, 10, 25 years. Maybe I should just throw in the towel and find a nice retirement community in Florida now. I’ll just have to hope my neighbors don’t crank up the Lawrence Welk music past 8:00 on weeknights...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Writing Captions Instead of Posts

About 8 years ago, I got carried away writing New Year’s resolutions, and I made a list of 35 things I wanted to accomplish in 12 months. In the years since, I have felt compelled to hold up the standard of the 30+ list, and as a result, continue adding the same line items year after year after year. Because really, how can a normal human possibly complete 35 tasks in just 365 days? Shut up.

One of the to dos that has made its way onto my list for the last oh I don’t know 150 years, is to get caught up on my scrapbooks.

Yeah, remember when I told you I scrapbooked? I do. I’m THAT girl. The one who blogged about buying cat and scrapbooking supplies at Target. I like gluesticks and zig-zaggy scissors and being able to pull out archives of my history whenever I’m in the middle of a story or need to check and see how much chubbier my thighs have gotten in the past 5 years.

And because I now have photos from Paris, London, Barcelona, Munich, Berlin, Dublin, Bruges, Oxford, Rome, Beaune and California that ALL need homes, I’ve been spending my evenings trying to make some craft magic happen instead of writing on this blog. Or reading your blogs. I feel guilty about it, but I’m tired of seeing that line item on my New Year’s list.

So I may continue avoiding the keyboard and using my new fine-tipped black pen to write scrolly-rolly nonsense next to pictures from my past. Just me and my scrapbooks. And my wine. And the cats.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Getting Centered Along the Coast

Last week, Mr. Wonderful and I took a road trip up to the central coast of California. We started out with a quick visit to his dad—and the flip house—in Fresno, then ventured to Paso Robles for some fantastic wine tasting, followed by a fun night in San Luis Obispo, and a trip up highway 1 to Carmel and Monterey. On the way back down, we stopped in Santa Ynez for some more wine tasting and a schnazzy New Year's Eve dinner with my parents. What a fantastic week.

Although I'd driven up the California coast many times before, this time I felt very aware of the impact such incredible surroundings have on me. The sights along the water truly lightened my heart.

Seeing baby elephant seal pups bark at their monthers and curl their chubby little bodies around flippers and muzzles plastered a smile on my face for about an hour. I could have stayed and watched these sweet blubber balls all day.

As we drove, we listened to Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol on Mr. W's ipod and at one point the story explains the chemical effects meditation has on the brain. I can't remember the specific details, but meditation-induced brain secretions actually have healing powers. It probably isn't the same sort of reaction...but I would swear that being in surroundings like this facilitate some sort of healing in me.

It's impossible to not feel a high when you're looking out at a view like this. It's like magic.

We stopped at the Monterey Aquarium and I could barely pull myself away from the otter tank. We were lucky to see a few in the wild (above) but watching them up close in captivity was, well, captivating. The way they would kick off from the edges of the tank with one corner of their flippers, propelling themselves around with swishing tails. They're amazing little animals.

We will definitely be heading back up to the Central Coast sometime soon. And hopefully I'll be able to take a few minutes to just sit by the shore, breathing in all the goodness that stretch of land and sea has to offer.