Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


May 2006

Clowns are creepy but…

hot air balloons are COOL.  I saw this picture and had to post it.  This is happiness if I ever saw it.  Wouldn’t you want to be part of this? (click on the pic to get a clear image)


The Sound of Silence

I am in a quiet place.

It’s so loudly quiet, I almost cannot stand it.  I live in NYC and it’s never quiet.  I sleep next to fire trucks and loud drunk people.  Oh wait, they are outside and I am inside.  Right.

I am in LA now and it’s deafeningly quiet.  I can hear the light on.  Weird right – hearing a light’s "on-ness."

Anyway.  Here I sit with myself.  I have had a fascinating week and it’s only Wednesday.  Well Thursday, technically.  Fascinating because this week I have…

– realized I have a good investment instinct – been a baker – hugged a guy I just met after talking to him for four hours about his life dream and how he is living it – arose at 4AM. truly. – Been on 4 planes since Monday – Found myself engrossed in a book (Safran – see panel at left).  LOVE this book.  Not done yet but love it.  HEavy boots, jose, postage stamps that taste like creme brulee.  Read this book and be a nine year old child. – realized I am one month from being married (one month!) – learned I don’t want to be a baker but I may very well want to own a small gourmet food store – reaped the benefits of a free personal shopping service – spent time alone – learned I want to live in the pacific northwest.  at some point – discovered an urge to have a child

There is more.  My mind has been racing all week.  I need to let it run.  It’s only Wednesday.

Acquiring Minds Want to Buy

I have a friend who says that in NYC, there is $40 tax on leaving your apartment.  Her theory is that it’s near impossible to leave and come back without spending at least $40.  I think she is almost right – the one potential flaw being that $40 is too low.  Or maybe it’s just me – perhaps I have an insatiable need to get things. 

How terrifying.  An addiction to purchasing. 

Today I needed to find out if that was true.  Do I really have an obsessive need to buy things for the sake of buying?  Inquiring minds want to know if acquiring minds need to buy.

So I was out running errands.  Nothing unusual about that, it’s Sunday in the City, after all.  I had a very tight list of things I needed to get, and I was curious how many times I would be tempted to go off list.  In the course of the errand running, I paid slight attention to my purchase urges…not judging them, just observing them (how Buddhist zen of me).  Below is a summary of what crossed my mind as I walked home:

– "Perhaps I should go into Banana.  After all I have gift cards from there and I get bonus points if I make a purchase in my birthday month!"  Walked on by.  Thou shalt not be such an obvious marketing sucker. (me: 1; buying demon me: 0)

– In Sephora buying hair gel (does not qualify as frivolous purchase – I use it every day and it’s been on the approved "need to buy" list for more than a week now).  However, standing in line temptation abounds!  Cut to scene in line: "Oh how interesting, chardonnay skin smoother?  Odd but could be refreshing.  And smell this yummy perfume.  And I am going on a trip tomorrow, don’t I need more mini shampoo?"  Argh!  Many near misses!  I was surrounded, but made it out OK.  Bought only hair gel and felt most proud of unwavering self control. (me: 2; buying demon me: 0)

– "Oh, we would love to have a bottle of wine tonight!  And Warehouse Liquors is right here.  We have wine at home but those are really for dinner parties…perhaps a cheaper bottle just for us."  What am I thinking?  Just because it’s a Sunday night do I really need to consume half a bottle of wine?  (me: 3; buying demon me: 0)

– "I love Shakespeare Books…maybe I will just wander…" STOP!  Absolutely not.  Stopped in front and made very dramatic turn away from the door.  I buy more books than I read – not a good trend!  (me: 4; buying demon me: 0)

– And last but not least, my new obsession with peonies: "My god aren’t they stunning!  Just look at them!  And I have the perfect vase for them.  They would look fabulous on my table.  $4 a stem or $10 for 3…"  Did she make it?  YES!  My cool head prevailed and I walked away flower free!  I do so love them but given that I am leaving tomorrow on a business trip I would not really appreciate them.  And fabulous fiance would be of course appreciative but let’s face it, peonies are girly.  Besides, my cats would eat them and barf everywhere, leaving said fiance with mess to clean up.  (me: 5; fiance 1; non-barfing cats 1; buying demon me: 0)

All in all a success but I was amazed at how often my mind wandered into the land of retail therapy, marketing victim hell and money wasting cat killer.  There were other temptations besides those listed above…fruit smoothies, magazines, shoes, small fun jewelry stores, a plant in a very fun vase, cat leashes, manicures, don’t even get me started on Dean and Deluca!  Best to stay inside sometimes and not even tempt the tax…of course, there is always Internet shopping…

Prodigy. A Poem.

Where is that special talent

That unique to me ability that makes the crowd stand back

Something hidden once hit upon turns a life and takes it over

Is that a good thing? Must one pay attention to this element of difference? Is that an obligation?


Maybe it’s ok that it is under a rock

Still waiting for discovery while life goes on, skills are acquired, achievements coming to life

It’s ok if that happens without riding the prodigal beam.

Close to a God

When do you feel you are close to God?  If you believe in "God", that is.  Or is the real question, when dCopy_of_112_1289o you feel you are most yourself?  I ask myself that often.  I think one answer is when I am making things, creating something new.  There is something truly interesting about taking ingredients – say food – and making them into something totally different from their original forms.  Put a few things together and all of a sudden they smell different, look different and taste different.  I think there is something magical about that process, something god-like.  Through the creation process whatever you make out of primary ingredients will be UNIQUE – almost like snowflakes, no two "whatevers" will be exactly the same.  Every pie is unique, every cookie, every roast chicken, every collage, every painting.  Even if the goal is exact replication, what you get is unique. 

I remember marveling as a child about snowflakes…"oh look, did you know no two snowflakes are alike?" we said with wonder.  There should not have been wonder – this is true for everything we create.  It’s not only God’s ability to give an object its own unique character, never to be replicated, we have it too.  We each have the ability in life to create something truly new, something that can stand on its own and impact the world in a way never to be repeated. 

That is kind of nice to think about. 

So with that said, go make something.  Be it a cookie, a drawing, a phone call or a life.  Just add water and STIR.

The River Runs WILD!

Stream of consciousness…ready, set, GO!

  • why do people drink bottled water
  • thai basil
  • blackberry addictions
  • leftovers – boy they can be good
  • elevated patterns in the sky can have meaning
  • angry days
  • need to clean the cat box
  • everything is changing
  • it’s actually all staying the same
  • devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know
  • napa is nice
  • want to play scrabble
  • thank goodness for the dvr
  • love the mute button
  • do I have a personal mute button?
  • where are my friends?  phones don’t ring like they used to
  • the people who are replying "no" are just as I figured thus far
  • not a good idea to drink 2 glasses of wine on any given night this early in the week.
  • the lampshade is crooked
  • should read more
  • need to prepare for pre-marital counseling
  • oh god I have not run for 2 days
  • why is commercial gravy light brown
  • remember how good tv dinners tasted as a kid?

<actually had a clear mind there for the last 5 seconds>

Attitude Wrapped in Fur Coats

113_1380 I have two cats.  They think they have me (us).  They own the bed, we are an intrusion. They wonder why I take pictures.  They are regal beasts.

The cats were a gift from wonderful-fiance two years ago on Valentine’s Day.  Funny – people who dislike cats say cats are not as loyal as dogs…for me, the cats were a moment of "commitment truth".  He gave me cats.  Cats live for a long time.  He likes the cats.  He must want to like me for a long time.

The transitive property of cats.  I knew there was a reason I took math in school.


In the middle of a heated discussion last night (otherwise known as an argument), I had a revelation…

In life there are no answers, only choices. 

I like it.  A healthy dose of reality for dear old me.  It came out of my mouth in the middle of said discussion and I thought about it again this morning.  It is not comforting, but it makes sense, if I do say so myself :-).

Book list!

I read a fair amount…here is a sample list of books I have read, noting the year in which I read it…

Liar’s Club 1997 (loved it),

One Hundred Years of Solitude 1997 (a bit mystical for me),

Malcolm X 1998 (great insight into another point of view),

From Beirut to Jerusalem 1998, by Thomas Friedman, read this while in Chileover XMAS break.  What an amazing book – balanced account of the middle east.  A fabulous intro to the region and why things are the way they are.

The Stranger 1999 (well-written and interesting – though not liveable – philosophy),

Death of Ivan Ilyich 1999 (loved it – perspective),

Prince of Tides 1999 (great beach read),

The Great Gatsby 1999 ok – I was supposed to read this in HS, but since I didn’t really become a reader until college (despite being in advanced high school English (thank you public high school), I read it after bschool.  I loved it.  Fitzgerald has a grace with words and a simplicity that unveils truths about life and humanity not often acknowledged.

Exodus 1999 Leon Uris, got tired of the main character, but overall gripping and an easy way to read via historical fiction, the building of Israel by the Jews,

Bluebeard 2000 should read more vonnegurt,

White Teeth 2001 (pretty good – cross culture character development story), 

A heartbeaking work of staggering genius 2001 (good – some slow parts, stream of consciousness, tender),

The Hours 2001 (loved this – extremely well written and pulled together at the end),

Wives of Henry VIII 2001 (beginning fascinating – catherine and anne; divorced, beheaded, died…divorced, beheaded, survived),

Like Water for Chocolate (2001) wonderful love story,

Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood 2001 (great beach read – cheesy at times, good thoughts on mother/daughter stuff),

Naked 2001 (hilarious and tragic and thoughtful and bare),

Motherless Brookyln 2001 (tourettes part was fascinating, storyline ok)

Tender at the Bone 2001 (loved it, Ruth Reichl has a great voice and is accessible and inspiring)

The Corrections (2001 Xmas) really liked it – cried at the end as it reminded me of my grandmother losing it, my mother being overly persnickety yet how relieved she will be when she is free of caring for granny, of how much I relate to Gary’s feelings of working hard and deserving recognition and the need to control…just a lot of it hit home pretty hard

America‘s Queen – Jackie Kennedy bio (Feb 2002) excellent. she was odd, intriguing, petty at times, charming, smart

Jack (2002) story of GE’s Jack Welch, pretty good, mickey mouse management

Roots (2002) absolutely loved it, amazing story of a family saga and the heinous crimes against them

The Handmaid’s Tale (2002) very disturbing and well written, trends from today taken to their worst extreme

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (July 2002) an amazing start to Maya Angelou’s bio. who knew there was rape, intellectual encouragement, Mexican highjinks, a month in a junkyard, the first black san fran street car operator and a pregnancy at sixteen???

The Haj (September 2002), I liked it as it told a lot about the middle east, but I did find it somewhat racist against Arabs.

Passage to India (2002) really enjoyed this – excellent character development – very complex and symbolic of the larger issues

Papillon (2002) GREAT adventure story.  Tests of endurance, will of the spirit, and a testament to life’s simple pleasures (esp. at the end)

Pillars of the Earth (2002) fantastic story about building a cathedral in the 12th century. Glad I did not live in those brutal times!

The Bell Jar (2002) I thought this was very well-written. I related to a number of Esther’s sentiments and experiences.  That’s a little scary. Interested in seeing the movie.

Comfort Me With Apples (2003) another ruth reichl.  Not so highbrow, but I do love how she ties food into her life as a form of comfort, intellectual stimuli, etc.  good recipes tied into here too.

No Need For Speed (2003) good inspirational running book.  Actually, good life lesson part towards the end about being your own judge of success.

Mrs. Dalloway (2003) must re-read and do it all in one fell swoop on a Saturday afternoon.

Rage to Live (2002 – 2003) ok so it took a while to get through – it’s long – but it was really great.  Need to read more exploration books.  It is so easy to forget that not long ago much of the world was uncharted territory.

Love in the Time of Cholera (2003) I am not a fatalist, and I have my doubts that two people are meant to be together forever…HOWEVER, this book was a marvelous picture of love and relationships.   Such truth and humanity.  Worthy of a re-read once every few years.

The Miracle of Mindfulness (2003)  by Tick Nhat Han, sent to me by my sister.  This was a really good intro to meditation and various forms of meditating.

Chesapeake (2003) by Michener.  What a big book.  I got tired of the characters BUT there was fascinating detail on the history and the ecology of the territory.

Stargirl (2003) by Spinelli.  This is a book aimed at teens and recommended by Donna.  I am in love with this book.  It is all about nonconformity, in the context of a high school.  The interesting thing is that those issues persist beyond high school and just take different forms (different marriage choices, different career and financial choices, etc.) and still can be divisive, though not necessarily quite as viciously as in high school.  She is such an amazing character – and the descriptions and writing and life lessons…phrases like “OH no, you are a dolphin stuck in a tuna net” or the conversation about the dormant mud frogs.  The scene where they are listening to the world was striking as well.  This will be sent out to many and re-read often.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2003) by Michael Chabon.  This book was incredibly well written and wonderfully imaginative.  The middle got a little tough – reminded me of Catch 22 in style for some reason.  Would recommend.

Wacky Chicks (2004) by Simon Doonan.  This book was disappointing.  It became more about how they looked than about what they had accomplished, or about fun things they did.  It was more an expose of how they dressed and maybe a few antics.  Nothing special.

The Art of Happiness (2004) This is the Dali Lama.  I had read bits and pieces of this before, but never straight through.  It was not earth shattering, nor did it change my life, but it did offer several really great strategies for dealing with life, anxiety, fear.  It had wonderful thoughts on developing compassion and emphasized patience and tolerance.  Definitely would recommend and want to summarize its wisdom to review later on.

When Things Fall Apart (2004) More Buddhism – and I really like it.  It’s realistic and makes a lot of sense.  However, would not recommend this particular book to a depressed person – that would be a disaster! 

Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman (2004)  Career empowerment stuff.  Not bad.  A few good reminders of things to think about to keep you out of trouble with habits you may or may not even be conscious of (terrible grammar on my part).

The Power of Now (2004).  Ok this was a REAL winner.  Much of the same learnings as When Things Fall Apart, but a bit more digestible (or maybe it’s all just starting to make sense to me.  The lessons are powerful and worthy of summary which will do in the journal.  This is a book that will be re-read again and again.

Tuesdays with Morrie (2004 – second time).  So this is the second time around for this book and I was inspired to pick it up again post reading #44.  Good choice.  Similar lessons and what an inspiration Morrie was (and is).  We should all aspire to be more like him even in our best moments.

Interpreter of Maladies (2004).  This book was excellent.  A series of short stories that were heart-felt and real.  Well illustrating the issues dealt with when assimilating into a new culture.

Awareness (2004).  This is life-changing.  An annual must-read.

Peace in Every Step (2004).  Well I liked the Miracle of Mindfulness better.  I am all for meditation and awareness, but this was a little too hokey for me.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2004)  I remember being amazed at how this book came together – and yes, the sense of spirit and life is not to be missed from this.

Ahab’s Wife (2004)  Well I really liked the beginning but man, she goes over the top with her PC references.  Mercy.

Shadow of the Wind (2005) This one was pretty good, not fabulous.  Decent beach read.

Back from Betrayal (2005) this was written by a woman I met at a wedding.  It talks about how she dealt with her husband’s infidelity.  Definitely worth reading. 

Million Little Pieces (2005) This book is really extraordinary.  Close to the bone on many levels given that dad was in a treatment center, as was Alex’s mother.  Stream of consciousness.  Really powerful to understand those moments of progress and improvement.  (now very unhappy with this book and the fact that it was a big pile of embellished rubbish).

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