Friday, March 27, 2015

Hey lady, why don't you take a hike?

I am back to having every other Friday off, so this morning I woke up early so I could take my son to school. I haven't been able to do that in a long time; I was happy about it. Due to my schedule and my office's inflexibility about being on time (I mean, really. The nerve!), it's better if my husband takes him, and picks him up. When I got to do it in the past, I would always take a nice long walk afterward. I like that part, too. So, earlier in the week I had asked, via Facebook, if any of the parents at his school could recommend a good area to hike or walk nearby, and one of them told me about the Dominguez Gap.

It was a little hard to find - despite having a great Yelp page, the Yelp directions are not rooted in reality. However, the Yelpers were kind enough to give better directions, and after a wrong turn or two, I found it. It's in a weird area: between the 710 freeway/LA River, and a trailer park. There's also the bike path, and the Blue Line off in the distance. I felt a little uneasy at first - I wished I'd had a dog or a friend along with me - but after a while I relaxed and just walked and looked around.

There is a marshy area that stretches along the path. I can't call the 3 miles (I traveled one portion twice) I walked an official "hike" because half of it was paved, but there was some wildlife and flowers and plants, and I have quite a few little rocks and pebbles in my shoes. It really was beautiful. Next time I will bring a hat, though, because there isn't a lot of shade.

I saw:
  • Two dudes on horses having a rather inappropriate conversation
  • Three other solo walkers - all walking in the opposite direction
  • Two dog walkers - one leashed, one not (the dogs, not the walkers)
  • One runner
  • Countless ducks and little birds
  • Four lizards
  • Dozens of butterflies
  • Three dragonflies - one flew beside me for quite a while
  • The Italian cycling team (hey, it could've been. I think it's been too long since I saw "Breaking Away")
I said hello to everyone I passed, except the runner, because he appeared to be in pain. Also he was wearing headphones, and I doubt he would have heard me. I figured by saying hello, a murderer or rapist might be put off by blatant friendliness and rethink his or her path in life.

I used to just walk the residential area near the school because the homes there are huge, obviously expensive, and beautiful. I will admit that I probably prefer eyeballing the rich houses to this sort of isolated, possibly artificial, but still lovely, wilderness. It's good to have an alternative, though, and I did feel a bit more meditative and peaceful than usual.

Afterwards I drove to Starbucks and got an iced Cafe Americano; that feeling might be short lived.

Monday, March 23, 2015

minutiae, part 2

Yesterday, I decided to treat myself to some Albertson's fried chicken for dinner. I also picked up some chicken strips and mojos for the boys. On my way out of the parking lot, I stopped at the sidewalk to let two teenage girls on bicycles go by.

I had the window down and the radio on. I was driving Patrick's car, and I was listening to KUSC. I liked what I was listening to so much I used Soundhound to find out what it was (and I just bought it off of iTunes). It was the Allegro maestoso from "4 Romantic Pieces," by Dvorak, played by Gil Shaham and Orli Shaham. If I've misidentified it, I apologize.

Anyway, because I can't listen to any music at a decent volume, it was rather loud. And I'm sitting there, waiting for these girls, who were riding their bikes on the sidewalk, to pass (I was glad to see them on the sidewalk. Traffic is very busy on that street and cars scream by at a million miles an hour. I never pull out thinking I have enough time so I always wait until it's absolutely clear).

This Sunday I was super lazy: I showered at like, 2pm. I didn't put on any earrings or blow dry my hair, which means that my naturally wavy hair, which blow drying, in general, tames, was pulled back into a messy ponytail, and my bangs were looking pretty wild.

One of the girls, who was blond and adorable in that way blond teens usually are, got rather close to my open window and said, in a surprisingly masculine voice, "I love your curls!"

They were gone before I had a chance to react. But I laughed all the way home.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

minutiae

After dinner tonight I mentioned to my husband that I hadn't achieved my step goal for the day. At the time I was lying on the couch in my pajamas. He said, Well, you could go to Walgreens and get Dora some cat food.

I thought about it for a long minute, and then I got up and went to change. I left the house a few minutes after 8. It was a little cold but otherwise, a quiet, beautiful night. Walgreens isn't that far; it's about a ten minute walk. About half a block away, my Fitbit buzzed that I had reached my goal. I had only needed 250 steps. I considered turning back and just driving there, but I didn't. 

As I walked, I thought about the clothes I had thrown on: a man's zipper hooded sweatshirt, burgundy, that's too big for me. I bought it when I was pregnant. It's very snuggly. I was also wearing a blue t-shirt, skinny jeans, and my new black converse that desperately need breaking in. Oh, and my canvas backpack from Powell's Bookstore in Oregon. I looked like a very old runaway. 

The whole trip was about 1,300 steps. I'm glad I went. This afternoon I had cake and ice cream at a coworker's goodbye party. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

This post is not titled.

I got home a bit early today, and as I was driving here, had made all sorts of plans for how I would spend this extra time alone. One of the things I wanted to do was practice. Last night, I listened to an old performance with the flute choir from about six years ago, and though that performance wasn't perfect (I never am), I was struck by the difference in my sound from then to now. Hearing the difference really bummed me out. "Bummed me out" is the stupidest phrase for describing what I really felt, but I'm not sure I want to put it all into words. I listened to the performance three times, and I heard the obvious mistakes (a huge, wrongly placed breath, for example), but what I mostly heard was my clear tone, some pretty vibrato, and expressive playing. The piece wasn't anything hard, but I heard me, sounding like me, playing like me: and I don't think I'm playing that way anymore.

This feeling sort of applies to other things I've been thinking about lately - well, maybe not "things" - maybe just my outsides. I was able to express this in conversation with my brother-in-law, and I told him: I'm losing weight, I'm the smallest I've ever been, but I don't feel much better about my body than I did before. He totally got it and gave me some good advice, but the thing is, I still haven't done any of the things he suggested.

So I got here and the house was a bit cluttered and there was laundry to do (Jules had an accident in his bed last night) and so instead, I straightened up a bit, threw the sheets I had washed this morning in the dryer and the rest of the blankets in the washer, put on my sweats, and now I am sitting on the couch with my iPod syncing to iTunes, watching "Mexico One Plate at a Time" on the TV. Patrick will be home with Jules soon and then we are going to go to the grocery store.

Maybe I'll practice later. Maybe I'll go for a walk after dinner. Or maybe I won't.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The value of a handwritten note.

I don’t know if everyone who has lost a loved one thinks the same way I am, right now.

(Actually, I doubt very much that anyone thinks the same way I do. That statement probably has "psycho killer" written all over it.)

As someone who is unsure about God and all the things my mother believed so much in, it might sound crazy, what I’m about to say (any of it it, actually). I’m finding it hard this year to get excited about Christmas. On Saturday, December 20, it will only be five months since my mother passed away. I’ve been missing her so much lately. The few sentences in this paragraph seem to cover so much ground, and none of it goes together: faith, Christmas, grief. But the other day I was sitting in my car, driving somewhere. The car is where I either get a lot of thinking done (quietly, alone, moving along, or not moving along, depending on the flow of traffic) or I do absolutely no thinking at all (iPod on, volume set to very loud, singing badly and as loudly as possible). I was sitting there, driving somewhere, and for some reason I was imagining myself having a conversation with a friend, who was not present at the time. I don’t know why I was talking to him in my mind. Maybe because this person is a great listener, and unemotional but kind. It’s good to talk to someone like that – it makes me control my own emotions, and to be a better storyteller. In my head I was telling him about something that happened last week.

Jules found the little bag of cards I've been saving for him. I keep them hanging on the inside knob of his bedroom door, but he’s never noticed it before, even though it's been there his whole life. I thought it contained only the cards I received at each of the baby showers I was so lucky to have, but it turns out I had forgotten that I've been putting other cards in there for him. Birthday cards, Christmas cards, even an anniversary card from my husband. He dumped all the cards out on his bed, and started pulling out the ones he liked: one with a kitty on it, one that made sounds. I read them all to him. He was enjoying it. Then he found one that my mom had sent to him for his first Valentine’s Day. He asked me to read it, so I read the corny printed message. Then he asked who wrote it, and I said, "Grandma wrote it."

He asked me to read it, so I did. I don't remember what it said, but I remember feeling shocked to see her actual penmanship: her style of writing, which I always thought was so pretty. My sister agrees. Mom's handwriting packs a powerful punch. In those loops and swirls: my mother lives. She had a special way with the cursive capital letters. At the time she gave him the card she was still strong and able to move around well. Later her writing got messier and her thoughts weren't clear. I read what she wrote, and I started crying. It was the actual penmanship that made me undone: her strong hand that I'll never see or feel again, and neither will he. I wiped my face and said, "Let's go get your daddy." We went to the living room where Patrick was relaxing on the couch in the dark (only the Christmas tree lights were on), and Jules went back to his room to get something to show him. While he was gone I really started crying. Patrick rubbed my back and gave me a hug, and then he went into Jules’ room to finish getting him ready for bed. I went to my own bed and fell asleep for a while.

So... I’m telling this story to my friend, in my head, remember, and I say to him (he who is not present), as I get to this part in the story, “I miss my mom... I wonder if she misses me.”

I haven’t actually said those words to him yet. I don’t know if I will. It’s totally illogical, and therefore, something he would hate. But I think that’s what is at the core of my sadness right now. I'm pretty sure my friend would say, in response to my question, “I think that’s something one tells, not something one asks.” But how will I know if I don’t ask? I've been saying that my whole life. Anyway, there's no one to ask, is there.

(I think my friend would also remind me to not take what he says so seriously.)

She's gone. I don’t know how “gone” she is. I don't feel like, wherever she is, that she could miss me... but how could she not? - I don't know. I don’t know how to find out. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dreams

Lately I've been sleeping pretty well. (Shoot, I just ruined it, didn't I.) I haven't even been waking up when my son gets in bed with us in the middle of the night. I'm not sure what the change is or why it's getting better. I haven't really been doing anything differently. Perhaps I should stop talking now.

In the past week I had two funny dreams that, since content on this thing has been slim, I thought I should share with you.

The first one was last week sometime. I think it was Wednesday.

I've been wanting to get glasses from Warby Parker for a while now. I even went there early last summer to check them out. I even recommended a friend get some (he did). Right now I don't really need new reading glasses, but I could really use a new pair of sunglasses. My old red Ray Bans are not really cutting it anymore. Plus the prescription is old. So I visited the store in LA in the summer (I think it was the hottest day of the year). However, when I was there I was told that my prescription is too strong, and they won't make it in sunglasses. It took me a while to figure out that I could buy the glasses from them and then have them made elsewhere. Anyway, that's not my dream.

I dreamed that I went into the store, and stood looking at the display for a while. Finally a hipster-y guy came up to me and asked if I needed any help. I said, yes, I'm looking for a new frame. The guy and I looked at frames for a long time, and we chose some for me. He was really nice and the frames were beautiful. I took them up to pay for them, and told the woman at the register, "That guy was really helpful! I love these frames." She looked at the guy, who was walking out the front door, and said, "Oh. He doesn't work here."

The other dream I had was just last night.

I dreamed that I was hanging out with my sixteen year old niece. She and I were talking about boys, but she was getting annoyed with me for some reason (it's doubtful that this would happen. My niece is very sweet, very polite, and even if I was actually annoying her, she would probably not show it), and so I changed the subject. Then, for some reason, I started teaching her the words to "I Don't Like Mondays," which upon waking, seems like a really bad idea.

Neither of these dreams were particular interesting but as I said, there hasn't been a lot of activity on this blog. Gotta fill the space with something, right?

Monday, November 24, 2014

You may find this offensive.

Well, maybe if it was 25 years ago. Or maybe if you're Irish. Or a fan of Les Mis. Or just don't think I'm funny (the most likely option).

I've been watching "The Voice" a lot this season. I'm really enjoying it. But because my life does not allow me to watch it in real time, I'm a couple of weeks behind. And I admit it: I don't watch the cheesy results shows. So I just tune in and wait and see which "artists" I miss.

Anyway, tonight on my way home, I heard U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday." This was a big song when I was a teenager. We didn't necessarily know right away what it was about (to me, in those days, songs were stories about things that hadn't happened in real life. It was that Crosby, Stills and Nash song "Ohio" that clued me in - these people are singing about shit that actually happened. Blew my tiny naive mind). Some of us had to be educated about the Troubles in Northern Ireland, and Bono was just the man to do it. This post is in no way intended to belittle or demean those sad events.

But "Sunday Bloody Sunday," while yes, is a political statement... it's also a story. It's a drama. It's Bono kneeling on the edge of a stage somewhere in a billowy white shirt, waving a flag, looking like a leading man in a movie. If it took hunky Paul David Hewson to get me interested in events outside my tiny little world, then hey, that's what it took.

So I heard "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in the car on the way home. It's one of those songs from my youth that's colorful and comes with a time and a place. But I was also thinking about "The Voice." And suddenly I was picturing little Regan James (is she still on? And can someone please explain to me why Blake thinks she's the next big thing? And yeah, she's 16, but there are way better, more interesting 16 year old singers in the world), dressed as a waif, with pretty Jean Kelly (is she still on?) inexplicably dressed as a World War II nurse standing behind her, and Elijah Rene (I know I spelled his name wrong. Is he still on? He's one of my favorites) also dressed as a waif, and all of them belting out "Sunday Bloody Sunday" in some kind of ripped off "Les Miserables" blocking, tears streaming down the waifs' faces, with John David Chapman climbing down from the scaffolding, and then sweeping up Jean Kelly in his arms, and then she busts out into "There Goes My Hero," by the Foo Fighters. And then there are fireworks. As the stage clears, leaving only John Taylor John Williams striding around in that hat, wearing a guitar, looking mournful and alternatively handsome, he starts to sing "Sugar Mountain" by Neil Young. For no thematically sound reason whatsoever.