Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pennsylvania Pictures....

So here are some pics from PA. Explanation after I get home. I wanted to get them uploaded, though...There are like 26. Is there a limit or something on this blogger thing?!?!?!?!

Malvern, PA...my best friend from college's hometown. I was treated like a princess, slept on fabulous sheets underneath a royal red comforter made of silk and covered in family.

I LOVE YOU KRIS & SCOTT! And I can't wait to meet Baby Tucker!!!


Happy Tuesday!

Mucho love and shouts to the Gulf Coast (especially New Orleans) as you rock out the baddies from the past year and get ready to party in goodness, wholeness, and community! DANCE! DRUM! PARADE!

Display that sense of identity that the world sees you for...a city with balance between ingenuity and hedonism!

Um...so I woke up blissful this morning...did half my yoga thing, grabbed the violin case and viola! Here I am! I have a 15 minute presentation to do for this Visioning Day today...I have things in my head, but I want to be prepared with visuals and fun stuff.

Why? Heh, I like presentations A LOT. Visuals and handouts...that would be me!

I noticed a lot of sick people on the bus this morning, especially the 9 San Bruno.

The rain has given way to a lovely sky and I'm just excited about my friend Kris' baby and feeling east coast vibes.

Big Yay. More about Malvern, Media, and Frazer, PA this evening after violin practice!

Tschuss and lots of beads!

~ E

I picked up a sage on the way to work on thursday, 2/23

At least, I think it was last Thursday.

I was looking for carpoolers along Macarthur Blvd. In Alameda people troll the busstops and shout, "San Francisco?" from their drivers' sides. Takers respond, "Thank you" and hop in or just wave the driver on.

Um, in Oakland they look at you like you're crazy.

Here's the benefit of picking up casual carpoolers: they waive the $3.00 toll when you cross the bridge during rush hour traffic. Hell, yeah. That saves you MONEY and TIME, yo!

Last week it also bought me a neighbor who had the sagest advice. Filipino brother, young. He looked like an old schoolmate of mine from Syracuse, Adrian Sicam.

When he got in the car, I noticed his Bob Dylan book. And that started our dialog about life, the universe, and everything.

Now, I have been in a funk. Just feeling like sh--burgers for no particular reason. Just expecting doom and gloom. Part of me thinks it's chemical and another part of me thinks it's practice. You practice anything for 10+ years and you're bound to get good at it. I've been depressed for 12 years now and am working on reprogramming all of that. It started out with a friend's rape and has just evolved into this demon that inventories and catalogs what's wrong in a way that any retail store would envy. When it comes to feeling bad, my brain has a bar code and inventory list that shames Wal*Mart's selection and warehousing.

But I meet this dude and he's cool. We start talking about the life of Robert Zimmerman (aka Bob Dylan), and move on to web design (he's a self-taught graphic designer that didn't graduate from SF State), he just bought a house close to where I am and he just saw life as a game...no walls...and I was fascinated.

All of the things my brain usually conjures for why I cannot held NO water next to this man. He wasn't scolding me, he was simply offering me how he saw things and real examples of how he just sailed through. He shared about a broken relationship (HEY! I've had a few of those!), how he was dealing with money crap (HEY! I know that feeling!), how he dropped out of school (That's ME!)...his life paralleled mine, but his PERSPECTIVE on it was awesome. For him, these were lessons and he learned from them and moved forward.

I looked at how I react. My victim self is TOO strong from so much exercise.

And I thought of what he said, "there are no walls".


I just got this email from him...and I need to share, because Rey's words border on sacred text....

Don't get freaked out but I couldn't help but think about our conversation
during my BART train home (my bro picked me up). It inspired the tirade
below which I started typing in the station. It may or may not show up in a
personal blog somewhere:


Consider that life is a game and not just advertising. (Yeah, juices on
meaning-of-life-stuff were popping.) It's the biggest game you could ever
play. So what are the rules and what do you get when you win?

First my thoughts on the rules -- there are no rules. No rights, no wrongs,
just consequences. But I'll go ahead and create one noble rule: don't hurt
anyone. Because in our discussion, if those around you create who you are
then you're dirt if you treat them like dirt. Karma.

As for the ultimate price? (drum roll please) Happiness! In my humble
opinion, fortune, power, and fame are just subsets of happiness. And through
our life, how we define our own happiness changes and therefore the factors
of happiness also changes -- family, friends, significant others, successes,
acknowledgements, a hot chocolate, a comfy couch, all of the above -- and,
oh yeah, being able to change the world for the better, work in a
non-profit, and own a house.

So now for the twist. Why is Russia, a far richer country than Somalia (2nd
poorest), have a much higher suicide rate (2nd highest)? Don't the Somalians
know any better that they should be more depress because of what they don't
have? Ah, hold on. What exactly does the Somalians have? How about: what
exactly do WE have that we think we don't have enough?! Can you imagine if,
right now, we give a Somalian all the stuff you have? Sit on that for a bit.
So... happiness is actually now if you choose it, and the rest is gravy.

The point is, we've already won the big game but we have to continue to play
it until our last breath. So how about playing a slightly smaller game but
just as scary? For you, you can still choose your game to change the world.
For others, it might be finding their soul mate, or be successful in their
endeavors. Whatever. But when you hit a wall, IT'S JUST A GAME! Remember you
already are happy and just trying to be happy-ier. And there are no rules.
So start again, find another way around the wall. Hell, play another game.
Why? Cause you already won! How do I know? Cause the Somalians told me that
I have more shit than they do therefore I should be happier. The law of
averages says that we're fortunate as hell. Just travel to a third world
country. You'll see.

So now for the game within the game within the big game -- our day to day
trials and tribulations? Let me just put it this way: Ghandi on his way to
speaking to thousands of people find that some jerk has taken his VIP
parking. Does he sweat it or simply find a less convenient parking place
because it's more important just to get inside because the world is waiting
to be change?

So Erika, there's an envelope in your mail saying, "You May Already be a
Winner." What's inside is up to you. But the world is still waiting to be
changed and your game continues... if you still choose to play that game. =)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Shaun of the Dead and the Shawshank Redemption

I know I am not gay.

But I also know that I am more "guy" than I thought. I mean, I enjoy talkin' American Football, baseball with the dudes. I dig on big tool talk, and I enjoyed seeing both Sean of the Dead and the Shawshank Redemption this weekend with Christine's hubby Scott. Gosh, and we have to give props to Mr. Furley and the Dad from A Christmas Story, since you passed to the next level this weekend.

I've been given insight to why Spike TV exists and how horrifying and clever disemboweling can really be.

In addition to feeling baby Tucker dance from inside his mommy's belly and just being filled with familial and love-filled food from Marie Dragoun and other family matriarchs, I am just satisfied. The Keystone State is one of my many childhood homes.

Hell, Christine's ol' Band Dad Mr. Collins opened up the hot tub during the shower for Scott and I. And you know? Lazing in a hot tub in the middle of a stark winter in Pennsylvania under a clear sky on a gorgeous deck is a beautiful thing, man. A beautiful thing.

But I digress.

Sean of the Dead is a riot. It's Evil Dead and 40 Year Old Virgin, and Night of the Living Dead combined. You gotta appreciate the dead pan, matter of fact lines paired with walking zombies. And the cricket bat as battle axe against the soul-less harbingers of armageddon. He's just a normal guy, with a bumbling leech best friend, anal roomie, and hanging on to his relationship by a string. He's 30-something and has jack sh-- to show for it. Some might call him pathetic.

Those "some" did not survive so well when the zombies came 'round. This man, Shaun, found his gumption, wheeled it, and sorta saved his part of the world. Not bad for a lame-ass electronics store guy.

I found his girlfriend annoying.

She was not ate, however.

The film was clever, disgusting, funny. A tale for the everyman. And in days like these, I feel like the "every(wo)man".

Highly recommend. Even for you squirmy-types. I am NOT a horror film buff AT ALL. Hacking is NOT my genre, but this film takes it violence like Monty Python and the Holy Grail or Pulp Fiction. It's so ridiculous that it's laughable. I say this as a woman who has yet to get through Schindler's List or name-your-war-flick, because man's REAL inhumanity to man just BUMS ME THE HELL OUT.

Shawshank Redemption was on Spike last night. Aside from the media buys that had the same 3 damn commercials playing for the 2 hours it was on, I get why dudes are into this movie.

We have Morgan Freeman. He was the Easy Reader on the Electric Company. I loved him. He was cool. He got down and could read. An intellectual, soulful man.

Then we have Tim Robbins. He has a huge forehead. And that boyish face that makes him easy to look at, but not TOO handsome so that he's hateworthy (a la Tom Cruise). And these guys get along. (AWWW.) And they develop a friendship in a prison house that is not related to sex or rape. It's not prison Brokeback Mountain. It's a story of hope.

This sounds very Lifetime, non?

Well, so long as men are in jail gear, are engaged in vocational matters, and are surrounded by police, then it's not a bad "gay". It's male bonding. It's humanizing. Emotions can come clean and honestly because there are no women to be compared to. Tim Robbins character was the metrosexual of the crew.

I also liked how Morgan Freeman was not the "ignorant darkie" character which white guys often get paired with in films.

My heart went out to the ol' timer who was paroled and sent out into the world with a brown suit and zero dignity. Just because you're out of jail doesn't mean the world sees you in a different light. And prisons can be many things...getting out of a mental institution, getting out of treatment, gettting out of the ghetto, getting out of a bad relationship, getting out of depression... His letter to the boys back in the Big House was a bittersweet tale of how freedom can be a curse. If you haven't exercised it for the majority of your life, you can't be expected to use it. Our systems are so broken when it comes to that sh--. We need to complete the circle. We can't just open up cages and cry, "Be Free! Be Free!" and expect people to even know what that means.


I missed this ol' blog. I caught up on 300 emails, checked out other blogs in the blog-O-sphere, and am listening to the rain and wind outside.

Tomorrow's Mardi Gras. 40 days and nights of atonement and reflection. Yee-haw.

Peace in the Middle East, and other areas in the universe that needs it. Girlfriend needs to shine her teethies and get Proactive before headin' to bedsville!

Malvern, PA

Goodness, just got back from a weekend with my best friend from college, her hubby, baby-in-tummy named "Tucker", the Dragoun clan, the Silber clan, and the feeling one gets when one is nostalgic for home.

Hope everyone had a GREAT weekend. I have pics and will share once I get to a place where I can upload 'em!


A Happy, Refreshed with Perspective Erika

Thursday, February 23, 2006

mary had a little lamb...the remix

regina carter ROCKS!
she's, like, my (violin) IDOL!

okay, i am stoked that in my scratching practice this evening i gained some confidence in my bowing.

i played with the pressure of the bow on the strings. and i played with fingering the board. some of those notes just did not sound on scale, man. i had to make microadjustments with my newly found fingertips.

frustrated with my bowing transition from one string to another i stopped and began practicing the notes in pizzicato.

The finger pluck is satisfying. it reminds me of listening to symphonies when i was younger. i got the scale down and then i went to read the notes and play along.

i found the online metronome and was curt with my bow strokes at first. i was rushing to transition within my beat...and then i lowered the stakes by SLOWING down the tempo. brilliant, non?

intently toe-tapping, i counted out loud. then i prepped my index and middle finger above the D string and began stroking away from me with the bow...D, E, F, G (switch string), A, B, C, D (repeat D), and then back up the scale.

hrm. i did that okay.

so on to the music. it took me a bit to figure out how to count the half notes while playing. 1 and 2...3 and 4...

i botched some tempo, but i recognized the music when i pieced together the notes...the ol' favourite, "Go Tell Aunt Rody!" DUDE! I remember practicing this in Endicott, NY! It was the barely the 80s. We lived at 319 June Street and my teacher's name was Holly. She had beautiful long black hair and an awesome smile.

Endorphin rush...i remember! it's rusty, but here i am, looking at notes (that i have noted above the staff), reading them corresponding a bow stroke to them, and tapping my foot to keep time, and listening to the tick-tick of the metronome.

WOW! I played the first two bars? staffs? damn what are the lines of music called....
And I began to notice as my fingers and bowstrokes made sounds...

F, F, E, F, G, G, G, F, F, F, G, D, D
F, F, E, F, G, G, G, G,F,F,G, D, D
(or something. i am not sure on what notes are what...but the melody eeked out. it was cool!)

I got so intent in my playing...an hour passed! Almost 10 pm and i was alone in the office. yesterday i was watching the clock to put in a half-hour of playing.

sandy, my instructor, suggested that i play along with a piece of music to round out my practice.

i set lastfm.com to music akin to motzart, listened, and let my hands and fingers play.


loudly my violin wailed as i let my arms gesticulate and my mind replace the notes that were actually coming out of the body.

in my mind i was back to my 7,8,9 year old self making music.

endorphin rush!

i will be away from her for 4 days! querida violin!

le violin

the violin is an amazingly expressive instrument.

beautiful, brown, many voices.

like me.

tonight i shall practice for the second time. i shall draw the bow along its strings.
i shall carefully work my way through reading notes and matching them with my fingers placement along the fingerboard, all to an online metronome.

i must perform a ritual first. i must say goodbye to my fingernails.

they are so lovely right now. non-river season nails that just say "elegant woman" to me. one of the things i am confident about me. but they must go so i can finger the right notes.

after the ritualistic clipping, i shall offer them to the candle fire and then proceed with the D scale. (hopefully in tune this time.)


it's big, it's heavy, it's wood - anxiety

yesterday i got to play whitney houston to kwesi's kevin costner in the bodyguard.

after an anxiety-ridden day from no sleep, i woke up early to get the hell out of dodge before i saw the roomie and get to work.

i almost succeeded. i got out of the shower, did my yoga and a sheepish voice outside my door asked, "erika?" while I was in full-on meditative mode.

i responded curtly, "i'm meditating."

now, i know that i am on the path to enlightenment and i DEFINITELY know I am not there yet. i didn't want to talk to him.

i was in "i'm pissed, i'm weirded out, i'm confused and i'm regrouping" mode.

i took my violin with me and walked to the busstop. the morning was crisp and clear.

i had a disjointed convo with mr. mike. i had issues putting sentences together because i was so friggin tired. at some point i decided to leave a message for kwes because i wanted support in going back to my house, and nothing says, "don't f--- with me" like a big black dude, right? kwes agreed to be my rental for the evening. i thought i would strategize with him at luka's and then we'd go to the house.

michelle suggested that perhaps showing up to the house with my big black friend may send the wrong message, especially since roomie wasn't expecting him.


but i was feeling spiteful. if i had to be subjected to an asshole without my permission, he could be subjected to my bringing a friend for moral support.

this is catty, i know.

and after speaking with michelle, i de-escalated.

i would bring kwesi with me, but not as mafia muscle. he could chill in my room while i had a little meetin' with the roomie.

at luka's i ordered a spicy carrot soup and waited for kwesi. my new favourite maitre d with the short dreads and cool necklace from Zanzibar was there. he works with youth, too.

kwesi wandered in, not even seeing me from the pool room. he must've cased the joint clockwise.

"KWES!" I caught his attention and he sat down.

I don't know if I have quite described Kwesi. I met him at a bombazo on New Year's Day. Cool Bostonian. Short hair, beard/moustache combo, glasses, and solid. He's like 6' and 200 lbs? He's hilarious. Totally expressive face. One cannot help but notice his expresssions. His face morphs into a radiant grin that disarms one.

He's a good silly.

Sure, I was anxious about roomie issues and in 5 minutes within sitting down I am about to fall over laughing just listening to Kwes and watching his face.

After a disappointing, nondescript dessert (which was disappointing only because it was a lighter flavour than I anticipated), we headed to the NL stop. (Luka's has only disappointed me once before with their clafouti.)

And on the bus I felt the 4 hours of sleep beginning to unravel. We sat down and I knocked out on his shoulder for a bit, but remembered to tell him Coolidge was our stop.

20 or so minutes later we were there, I awoke and we walked toward my house.

My anxiety was kept at bay. I mean, how does one break the ice about an anus postcard found in one's bathroom drawer unexpectedly?

But I had my friend Kwes there. All would be okay.

I snaked my neck to see if he was watching tv in the living room.

No glow on the neighbor's house.

I opened the door. The house was deadly quiet for 11:30 pm. He's usually up.


I mustered up the courage to hash this out...and no roomie?

Sorry, Kwes. I guess our Whitney/Kevin role play is over.

I'll have to solo with the roomie.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Hitchcockian thriller

dude. i think "hitchcockian" is the best adjective i've seen in a long time.

taken from the parkway's special events calendar:
Tuesday, March 7. 9:15

Local Filmmkakers Showcase: "REHEARSAL "
A Hitchcockian thriller about a group of actors who have been cast in "Bloody Summer," a typical schlock horror movie with a low-budget to match. But there's a twist: A week of rehearsals "on set" at an isolated cabin in the mountains will start the production. One van will take the actors, a producer, and a director away from the safety of San Francisco to a run-down den in La Honda, California. But when people begin to dissapear, starting with the van's driver, those left begin to realize they may have auditioned for more than they bargained for...
Filmmakers Tyler and Nathan Logan Hanley and Jesse Harley in person.
Admission: $5

it's wednesday and i am exhausted from staying up til 4 am so i would be on guard from my roommate.

thanks to michael paul for treating me to the mason diner and thanks to the ben storm band, fumi and michelle for making the marina a hair more palatable last night.

jesus, what soul-less place.

it's amazing to see so many "beautiful people" in one space and close my eyes and feel like the room is empty.

the matrixfillmore is a hipster joint. drinks, blah-blah, fireplace, blah-blah, "cool seating" and soft sculpture walls", blah-blah.

people wearing (safe, bland, colorless) clothes that cost more than i make in a month, coiffed, accessorized and looking completely uninterested in each other. i don't know what it's like to be breathing sculpture. perhaps the art is in preparing to go out and not to interact in any kind of meaningful way. i have no idea.

my roommate situation still feels off. he emailed me apologizing for the anus postcard thing, but it doesn't feel right. like, if he was horrified by it, why the freak would he leave it there for ME to find?

i emailed the crew to get a sense and it's interesting to hear the results. some folks are like...give him the benefit of the doubt and talk to the guy, some folks are like GET THE HELL OUT, NOW. it's about 50/50, actually. i've gotten some concerned phone calls, too. and my gut, my gut, my intuition...she's like "erika, get the f--- out of there. you've had TOO many bad roommate experiences. you're too old for this sh--."

if nothing else, i am disappointed by his judgement call to that end, and that paired with the weird boundary thing just has me exhausted and creeped out. he's a grown man. i realized that it wasn't the CONTENT of the image that disturbed me so much as my lack of choice to be exposed to it.

i remember being introduced to the photography of maplethorpe in college. outrageous imagery involving the body. it was in a communication law class taught by david rubin, dean of the newhouse school of public communications at syracuse (go orange!). we were talking about censorship, profanity, libel, pornography and what made things objectionable in general. he had a book and invited the class to check out examples once he explained the context.

i've been to burning man. i live in san francisco, for chrissakes. i know outrageousness, but i often CHOOSE when i am exposed to it. it's when the unsolicited vaginal opening, buttcrack, penis, ass cheek, or (as in this case) anus appears that
i get that "no so cool" feeling.

i'm tired of living in fear, and not taking up space IN MY OWN HOME. that's crazy.

home as sanctuary has been a myth for me. i've always experienced it in other spaces, ever since moving to florida in '88? home life got weird. and well, i've been looking for stable home for me ever since.

i've found it crashing at friend's pads, in lover's homes, but never created a nest for me (okay, there was my tent at burning man in 04).

18 years without feeling a sense of home, safety, being cool in my house.
18 years of needing to sneak cooking, being uber-careful about noise so as not to disturb others, but not having the same care taken for me.
18 years of staying out late so i didn't have to interact with the personalities i'd find in the house.


i'm going to find HOME. HOME is the first place one needs, the terra firma.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

the butt of a joke?

Well...here's the email from the roomie:


oh my gosh! i forgot i left it there! i'm sorry! i found it in the bathroom boxes i went through and i'd never seen it before. it must be to/from an old roommate since i don't recognize the people's names. i didn't want to throw it away because i just didn't know what to think about it. it's shocking. i didn't know what to do with it at the moment and i guess i just left it there and went on to other things. it wasn't even meant as a prank. it's totally disgusting. i've removed it and i'll figure out what to do with it. it's just soooooooo sick that i can't seem to throw it away. think i should just toss it anyway? probably ... it's just too over the top to do anything with.

So it sounds as if things are cool. I think a convo is in order, regardless...

Anus Card

This morning I was snuggled comfortably in my bed. Perhaps a little too long.

But I finally woke up and my roommate was gone.

The friggin sink is still stopped up after Citra-Solve drainer solution, baking soda and vinegar and boiling water and Drano gel. They all failed to unclog the damn thing. I've been in this house 3 weeks and it's been stopped up for 2 of them. WTH?

I grumbled on this point, so I moved my attentions to the toilet seat. I prefer mine left down. There is nothing to see there, so why leave it up? Let me have a seat.

Next I thought I might put my bottles of lotions and so forth away. My roomie mentioned that he had emptied one of the bathroom drawers for me so I could put my toiletry stuff there. I thought I might take advantage of that a moment before heading into the bay leaf enshrowded rain forest for my morning shower.

I slid the drawer open. It made that scratchy sound of wood scraping against metal runners not quite connecting.

Instead of an empty drawer I found a postcard and the postcard had a black and white photo of a very caucasian anus. It was fur-lined as well. And captioned.

I was like, "WHAT THE FU__?!?!?!!?"

The card was positioned so that it looked like it was placed there. I'm sure in theory it could have fallen there. I flipped it over to see if there was a "HA HA, GOTCHA!" on it, but it was a postcard dated sometime in 1996. Okay, this is not funny.

I showered. I felt dirty. I felt violated.

And while I showered I was wondering...do I need to move out of this house?

DAMMIT! I just bought the CUTEST shower curtain, though!!!

Monday, February 20, 2006

I Remember

Her eyes were so gentle. She asked me what I remembered and I shyly said, "Not much."

I stood before her, feeling rather naked. I had my case open, my instrument lay in the case, on the plastic bag it came in. And I made the bow taut.

I had no idea what to expect.

But Sandi reassured me that my memory would remember for me. She asked me to hold my violin and I placed it under my chin and held it, just as my first teacher had taught me. Sandy said, "Good!"

And apparently I remembered enough of the basics that she and I moved on in our lesson.

Did I remember the names of the strings? "Yes! E, A, D, G!"

But I had a bad A string from trying to tune my instrument. She replaced my string for me while telling me stories.
Sandi Poindexter played examples from Euroclassical to Indian to Arabic to Latin...pulling her bow across her strings and vibrating her left hand for flourishes that I could not grasp. Subtle finger vibrations make these beautiful lilts happen.

Sandi is confident I will get there, no problem.

My greatest moment of anxiety happened when she asked me to read the notes and play at the same time.

Quarter notes to a basic metronome beat. Slowly.

the names
of the
the drawing
the bow
across the corresponding

That exercise was painful, humbling.

She encouraged me, though. Praising me for what the 9 year old in me remembered. And then we ended up our lesson with an improv in G.

My nails inhibited me throughout the lesson, so as in river rafting, I will need to trim them so the tips of my fingers connect with the strings on the lovely neck of my beautiful violin.

She and I played the G string together. It is the deepest voice of the 4 open strings on the violin. After a few draws of the bow she improved just a bit...only on the G string. Her fingers created beautiful sounds from the minutest adjustments.

And then my turn. I practiced placing my fingers along the neck, playing with the pressure of my fingers on the fingerboard and with putting pressure on the bow. Nearer the bridge meant the notes would sound louder. Futher from the bridge meant the notes would sound softer.

I filed this minutia away.

I was making music for the first time in 24 years. My anxiety about being able to do it was gone. It was about uncovering what my body already knows.

My instrument is a Suzuki student violin I purchased on my 30th birthday to encourage me back to music. I paid it off in about 2 years. And now I will play her and practice with her. And Sandi assures me that my practice will lead me to whatever I wish to have in my repetoire.

If You Want to Be a Successful Leader - Have Courage.

This is what my Yogi Bhajan calendar says today for Presidents' Day.

I woke up at 9 am and lazed in my bed until 10:30 pondering the day's possibilities. (This is my fantasy bed. I want a sleigh bed when I get my grown up own space/house. I am hoping to rope in my friend Dave or Mike to make it for me.)

It's sunny outside and my room is still half-populated with boxes. I am meeting a violin teacher today at 2 pm and then I was going to have a house meeting with my roomie to discuss the quirks of the house that the landlord can help out with (getting the outlet for the dryer, the paperthin backdoor, the missing tiles in the bathroom...) and house expectations.

But then I receive an email from Mr. Chris that he's celebrating his dinner at Spices II for his birthday. Well then, I will cook another time and we will go to Spices II and I will discuss how wrapping one's leg around one's roommate, massaging her shoulders, and being able to hear the surround sound movie show in the living room from her room is not how I envisioned this living arrangement.

I showered and attacked the sink with the baking soda/vinegar/boiling water solution to clear the drain.

I know I'm an impatient woman, but nothing seems to be happening.

The bubbling from the chemical reaction between the vinegar and baking soda was cool. That gave me false hope, though. We'll see in a few hours.

I haven't done yoga yet today or taken my 13 pills for the day, BUT I have done my share of clearing cobwebs. There seems to be 13 years worth of cobwebs in this house.

I enjoy character and history. But one should not be removing curtains of cobwebs. That's just neglect. (Unless he's been using them as insulation all these years since he disconnected the heater.)

I have a dab of toothpase on my nose because after ProActiv-ing I noticed a little whitehead making its appearance. Friggin'-A. Marylin McCoo (former hostess of Solid Gold, after Andy Gibb) noted it as a remedy in an article I read once. I believe her. She is beautiful.

I also engaged in line drying this morning, because I can't NOT have clean clothes.

Um, so there's a fixed pulley system in the backyard. One end is affixed to the house and the other is affixed to a tree. There is about 30 feet of line looped around these pulleys and you pull the line in, drape your clothes on it and push the line to free space to put MORE clothing on it.


There is a stopper on our system, so I had to figure that out. After a few trials I figured out the space I needed for my 4 items of clothing I can publicly display flapping in the wind. My underwear is hanging off a clever hanger in my room that has hooks all over the place. It'll be a few days before I can use them, but thanks to all of my undie gifts lately, I have enough underwear for 3 weeks now! I think I own 21 pair! It's the most underwear I've ever had in my life. And I think I have been given 10 bras, now! No more flappy breasts if I don't want to! This is a boon to my bustline!

A special Happy Life Day to Mr. Chris. I met him in 1999. Houman introduced me to him and I remember him having green hair for Burning Man. He also gave me a lovely mix cd that introduced me to Beth Lisick for my birthday. He's Velvet Einstein, a lovely host. Mr. Chris never seems to need anything, but is a kick-ass ice cream maker. Has a penchant for random movies, music, and for traveling. Chris's curly blonde cajun hair, quiet demeaner, and wicked sense of humor make him my favourite piscean today.

Special shouts to the following fabulous people who've helped me through the dark mood this past week and have been patient guiding me to the light: Fumi, Michelle, Denise, Sara, Solomon, Cynthia, Kwesi, Ameena, Lisa, Anita, Omer, Dancho, Herb, Poncho Sanchez, and Xavier for re-recording "Gimme the Night" in that happy-go-lucky club-pop kinda way.

For the Girls.

Dude, my writing's been uninspired and transcripty lately. Lo siento. I'm finding my inner muse again....

This morning I laid lazily in my bed.

The sun peeked out, but it was not warming my room. My room is an ice box, but I nuzzled very happily in my bed, listening to NPR.

I faded in and out of consciousness. I didn't have an agenda for the day and I loved it.

Gave a call to O to wish him well on the ride back to Phoenix and he hadn't left yet. Tee hee.

Then I fell back half-asleep and my phone beeped...a message. Dancho was just calling to say hello...which is ridiculously sweet.

This lead me to call Mr. Kwesi Johnson and he was on his way to the Deep Roots tea house...and I thought...ooo, lunch with wifey!

I then realized I wouldn't get warmer wishing it would be and motivated to call wifey Michelle to see if she was up for lunch.
We chatted a bit, I estimated and hour and she had the brilliant idea to call Ms. Denise.

A women's triad!

I mixed henna -- the greenish powder with an egg, olive oil and boiling water. The paste was beautiful in color...and I stepped in the shower with the bowl, raked the widetoothed comb across the mane and then little by little worked the goop into my hair. I wanted conditioning...

After way too long (I was listening to a tribute to Cheo Feliciano) I remembered my lunch date, brushed my teeth and placed a plastic cap on my head with the paste still on my head. I wrapped my hair in a green sarong and quickly dressed. Zoom! Toward Oakland and Michelle.


It's cold in my room. I am hovering over the space heater, listening to NPR's On the Media on KQED. They just did an interview with CSA's director.
This Confederate States of America sounds REALLY interesting.

Can't wait to see it.

The last 24 hours have given me mood adjustment.

Saturday morning I was still groggy from depression.

After my appointment I made a list of 8 items I needed to finish in 6 hours. The adrenaline of a list of things to do put me in high gear. I even made the decision to enjoy dinner with the crew in Fremont for O's brief return to pick up the rest of his gear.

Dude's really gone now.


Anyway, I zoomed to Oakland to get Pocky then over to San Francisco to pay back the loan and get some more for my Philly trip, and then I was on my way to get Joseph Schmidt Chocolates to send on his trip, because apparently there are no "real" chocolatiers in Phoenix.

For weather reasons I get this, but since chocolate has its origins in warm climes, I can't believe the descendents of the Aztecs haven't jumped on the chocolate hype. There is money to be made off vices, people. I am now a sucker for my spicy hot chocolate at Bittersweet, and I always poo-pooed people who had their regular 3 buck beverage...now I am as guilty and probably spend a dozen of my dollars a month on some fabulous chocolate beverage.

On my way from the Fast Cash Checking place in downtown San Francisco along Mission on my way to Joseph Schmidt, I was hit by a skiddish 16 year old from Sonoma County who had been waffling turning left into a one-way street. At the last moment she panicked and turned straight into me heading straight.

Poor Jane is now scraped along her driver's side in the back. We exchanged information. I remained calm. This girl impressed me with her lassaiz-faire nature about her car and when I said I would get an estimate she said that she didn't care the cost, but that her parents would pay for it off insurance.

She seemed like the kind of girl my students might end up despising. I smiled internally and thought...you are among the future leaders of America and your parents have armed you with...the security of having their money.


Jane was drivable, so I continued on to Joseph Schmidt. I had truffles to buy, dammit. But that little accident meant that I would not be burning O's CD. (Sorry man, "Ethnic Nipple, the Uhaul Addenda" will have to come another time.

I illegally parked on Sanchez near 14th? to shuffle along the wet sidewalk to the Joseph Schmidt chocolate shop. A beautifully coiffed man with a non-American accent asked me if I needed help.

He was a cafe au lait gent with a beautiful halo of a fro about his head. His air seemed Euro and his manner was just gentlemanly. Dreamy. And he was getting my chocolate order.


I considered a pre-packed dozen, but then I was drawn to the display case. And I was drawn to the dark chocolates and chose a dozen lovely Barbie breast shaped mounds of chocolate and confection. Joseph Schmidt chocolate allows one to savor flavors in a creamy, intense truffles. The shell cracks and one's mouth is filled with the encased flavour. It is a palette pleaser, to be sure.

I shuffled to my car, fell out of my left sandal and bruised my heel with the wooden toe portion of the shoe.

OW! I was briefly barefoot and in total pain for a moment before refocusing...I needed to get to Berkeley in 30 minutes for my face appointment and the bridge was looking pretty crappy from what I saw.

I put on Energy 92.7 and I think Xavier's remake of George Benson's "Gimme the Night" was on. That tune offended me at first, but now it's grown on me and Jane and I rock with that clubby optimism when it's on. We sat in traffic and in fumes in her tank to the Elephant Pharmacy and well...we all can read how Tatalia hooked me up, covered up my spots, and made it so I could enjoy dinner with friends in Fremont.

Dinner in Fremont
Man, far be it from me to bring depression to a party when Solomon is picking me up and we're driving down together.

Sol's my homeslice. In friend parlance, I nickname him my boyfriend because he is just always there for me in that rare way men can be there for women without requiring sex. And yet he's always cool for being platonic date to events, should I need.
Besides, he picks me up in his little Miata convertible and that's pretty awesome.

We arrive at our destination and in Sol's crazy way we make donuts in the cul de sac twice before finally parking. Sol's crazy that way. I couldn't help but giggle.

We gather our things and ring the bell. Omer answer's the door and it's almost like he hasn't left.

The friends are all in the living room and the house is alive with conversation, friends connecting and catching up, O's mom and dad doting on us, music going...

It's all good.

Fruit chaat opens the evening...with extra spice in case we want more kick...and we spend the evening catching up, listening to stories, about 20 of us.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ray Barreto, RIP 2/17/2006

Dios mio.

Mr. Ray Barreto, un don de la salsa se murio.

Ray Barreto is one of the main artists papi introduced me to.

Barreto was another Nuyorican who brought the world his conga stylings. Palms on congas, palms on congas and that infectious energy that I've only known from salsa and music from my parents' country.

Pocky Dance Video

Oh my God, the Pocky Dance Video!

Talk about DDR Skills, yo!

Spackle Improves Self-Esteem!

If I create a makeup line, I will call it Spackle.

I am a reluctant makeup user.

Perhaps once a year.

I have never been girly in that way and part of me feels that it's like lying.

But screw it, I wasn't going to hang with my friends all self-conscious.

Tatalia at the Elephant Pharmacy wouldn't let me do such a thing.

I sat, shoulders shrugged and embarassed in her chair. I explained my organic habits and vitamins and so forth. And I explained I am a picker and had a random rash in January and that my hyperpigmentation takes forever to fade.

No judgement.

She said we'd clean and then we'd have some fun with makeup.

Tatalia was a beautiful German woman with the clearest blue eyes I have seen in such a long time. Perhaps late 30s, very pretty, with that smart aesthetician bob.

She armed herself with cotton pads and a cranberry cleanser, a light toner, and a clarifying serum. All went on and off quickly and I sat and let myself be pampered.

Note to self: Allowing people to take care of you feels GOOD. Take more time to let people care for you.

After telling her that I had a dinner event and wanted coverage over my chin where I felt self-conscious.

She brought out palettes of powders. These were makeup.

She also brought out tubes and bottles of liquids. These were also makeup.

The brand she suggested is mineral based, but when she went to match my skin to a color, I was inbetween a chestnut and an almond, either the powder was too puddy or too ruddy. She moved on their liquid line and the palette there stopped at slightly light coffee drink.


We moved on to another makeup line. We found a liquid makeup that would cover the really dark spots.


And then we got a nice coverage from a "chestnut light" powder.

Before any fancy colors on my lips or eyes I felt much better. More even skintone.

I began to smile. Now I could face the world with my non-spackle looking mask.

She then asked what colors I wanted for my eyes and lips.

I told her I had no idea what I was wearing. And she said,

"Let's pretend that it has a lot of black, okay?"

Her German laced English was lovely. I trusted her.

We agreed on a palate that looked like a peacock's feather. Iridescent green, blue, purple, and copper. She found a powdery pink that was lovely to highlight my lids.

She painted and I watched in the mirror and I saw my pretty eyes begin to glow with their new makeup frame.

How lovely.

I began to see makeup not as this lie that women wear to falsely advertise, but as a playful costume. I saw it as decor, accessory, but not as a swindle.
She topped my cheeks off with a slightly sparkly bronzer.

Next came the palette of lip colors.

At first I was timid and asked about a transparent stick that would just glisten my lips. But then I saw a deeper purple called, "passion."

It was deep and purple like an aubergine. It was beautiful and confident and yet not too bold.


I wanted to feel confident. Between my peacock inspired eyes and aubergine lips, I would be fine.

Tatalia made me feel beautiful by toning down the blemishes I was spending all my time focusing on and bringing out my beauty.


I drove home quickly and rummaged around my room for the boots I wanted to wear. Ass-kicking boots.

They're buried somewhere in an inaccessible box.

Dang. There goes that.

So I reused the scarf-turned-blouse and found my black slacks.

These in addition with the black leather jacket mami gave me would be a fine dinner outfit.

Along with the silver and freshwater pearl earrings I bought for a pick-me-up and my pearl collar...bring on the night.

I armed myself with Pocky and Joseph Schmidt Chocolates. I clothed myself and as Solomon called, also put on the shoes I bought with mami at the mall in Raleigh.

I actually felt good.

Not bad considering 24 hours ago I wasn't going to hang with the friends in Fremont to say hello to O and resend him back to Phoenix armed with his stuff.

Earlier today I wasn't going to go either. My anxiety was high.

But when Sol opened up the car door, I knew I was alright.

A 25 minute drive brought us to Fremont and a living room filled with friends and
it was good.

It was weird to limit myself to hugs on the way in because of the new lip gloss.
I didn't want to leave a postal stamp on people's cheeks.

But I felt good talking to people. Milling, chatting.

Fruit chaating.

All because I could face the world because of a little trick called makeup.
I hope someone got pictures.

I'll lovlingly refer to it as Spackle.

Maca Rhymes with Caca

Depression's had a hold on me this week -- friggin' up and down, like a rollercoaster.

Yesterday I bought maca to add to my vitamins and supplements because this is caca already!

(maca rhymes with caca. i find that funny.)

I also received my Proactiv box. After attacking the bathroom with everything I had - new transparent, bay leaf print shower curtain, Mrs. Meyer's Lavendar cleaning stuff, new sponges, new extending arm cleaning brush, new Japanese mat, new candle (Pacific company, Fig something. VERY NICE SMELLING!!!)

I was leaning over our kitchen sink last night, my roomie asks me how I am and I respond, "crappy."

Now I am sure his intention was comforting, but I was alarmed when he came up behind me and began massaging my shoulders.

I quickly snapped, "Roommmates do not massage roommates."

He quickly removed his hands and I continued talking about house issues.


Normally I am a rather affectionate woman, but I have to say in the 19 days I have been a resident of this house I have felt a little uncomfortable on more than a few occasions.

I introduced myself as a hugger in the roommate interview. But that doesn't mean you can wrap your leg around me when you hug me. It also doesn't mean you can offer a shoulder massage when I say I feel crappy.

No, sir. I don't like it.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Dancho, Poncho, a Day in the Fog, Maca, and My New Shower Curtain

The mind can be a terribly wasteful thing.

The last week has been an unpredictable roller coaster of emotion. Today was spent in that anxiety feeling. A hood engulfs my brain and I can tell I'll burst into tears at some point, but I never know the exact time. I maintained composure during my 9 am meeting and tears began streaming down my face afterwards as I walked about a mile to the main bus route to head to my 10:30 meeting. I actually arrived to my next meeting at 11:30. About 2 miles. I waited for a MUNI bus #71 for about 30 minutes plus the 30 minutes I walked.

And today was cold. Bitter cold in comparision to the past two weeks of tropical bliss. Global warming has a spoiling effect on the masses.

While walking I called my support group: Fumi, Michelle, Mitzi, Megan, Mary Ann. I explained that I was saying my affirmation, but it wasn't reversing the overt need to cry. I explained that I needed support and that I wanted to explore other ways of maintaining composure.

My phone remained idle as I reached Market Street. I stood in the greyness, among the din of cars and people shuffling from place to place.

During my second meeting I felt overwhelmed because I know nothing about installing a wireless network on a PC. The tutorial/help was pretty useless to me as lay person.

I took down specs and returned upstairs to work on website stuff.

Purchasing a domain name and host? I've never done such a thing. Through webaxxe.com or something like that we purchased 14.00/month hosting. Oh and apparently were charged $26.00 for domain name registry. I guess I wouldn't have been miffed, save that this $26.00 was not clearly itemized. I called customer service and she insisted that was clearly marked.



My friend has cable tv. My anxiety raged to where I felt completely incompetent about everything...my lack of understanding about GIS technobabble, wireless networking, not to mention the other usual demons I deal with...I felt like I was about to become Niagara Falls again.

She was watching a show called Starting Over. A reality show about improving women's lives who have told themselves they're not going to take it anymore, have submitted a tape to NBC, and work on a goal.

If I could only figure out my goal, I'd submit a tape, man. I may not watch tv, but maybe this could help me with the depression demon I battle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

pillow fight!

justin herman plaza became a mass of feathers and pillow gladiators at 6 pm on tuesday night, february 14th.

i arrived moments after the 6 pm ring of the bell, but jumped in with my two pillows...swinging away and laughing all the way. i had to take a few breaks, but there were people there swinging for the full half hour. the plaza was covered in enough feathers by the end to make feather angels on the ground. it all ended in "NAP TIME!" and a bunch of folks dropped to the ground, laying on their pillows. it rocked.

i'm going to be combing feathers out of my hair for DAYS, but i highly recommend pillow fighting as a superhealthy way to get into the right head space. i'm waiting for a gym to offer pillow fighting classes...

tee hee!

Here's the SF Chronicle Article

george was shopping for chocolate

this morning i rediscovered kpfa's world music show. victoria was rockin' some excellent tunes!

this morning's been cool. got to get some computers up to par and inventoried in the moon lab.

far be it from me to let a gent standing hopeless in front of rainbow grocery's chocolate display.

i had done my purchases...fennel, bosc pair, olive oil, peppercorns, coconut juice, yogi detox tea, omega3 supplement and new chapter's inner beauty skin supplement.

and the poor man was standing there, stupefied. he had a dagoba bar in one hand and i think a raphael bar in the other.

i asked if he needed help because he was standing in front of my favourite chocolate...goddess chocolate. and he said he was buying chocolate for his mom and he had no idea what to get her. he said he was embarassed.

i went into chocolate sommelier mode. i introduced him to all manner of chocolate, spoke about the subtleties i understood about the brands, the subtle flavors, etc.
i asked what flavors mom was into, because she might enjoy the subtle scent and flavor a lavender bar could offer versus a chili flavoured bar.

the poor man's mind was blown. here he was, young exec in international business. he imports things from china, has a command of english, spanish, japanese and chinese and still is worried about making the right chocolate bar for his mom.

moments like these are priceless.

he asked what i did, i offered my business card and gave a minor elevator pitch.

he was asking about a boysource. i said we're visioning that. who knows? i may have met a potential funder.

valentine's day

good morning. happy valentine's day. hope you acknowledged whomever makes your life decent in some way, as i am sure you do every other day, because you're a conscious individual who knows to be cool to others. it's another gorgeous day with a beautiful blue sky.
the dogs have already done their ferocious barking. my roommate has already cleared his lungs of the mucus within and i have done my asanas for the day listening to blu magazine's album #12. it happens to feature women artists.

it is no longer published, but it did feature news from a more global perspective and always included an album of non-mainstream artists. some of them may have gone mainstream, like "the life" by mystic, a rap artist from oakland and "enough is enough" by chumbawumba.

my legs are still trembling from my warrior ii pose. it's been a little over two weeks since i have done a set. but it feels good to have done it.

i am now debating on what to wear today. i will be going to work and then going to a pillow fight. what would emily post have me wear?

i realize that in the last two days i've been treated to the words of some pretty wise women. maritza, frances, and denise reminded me to believe in being beautiful. and cynthia and fumi reminded me to continue pushing back against the negative voices. if i keep practice, they'll be outvoiced by the positive. thank you.

okay, megababe's "trailer park" is making me smile. gotta get dressed and out the door. (i can't find a link to the american band megababe, but apparently there's a cool japanese punk band by the same name. i'll plug 'em. why not?

Monday, February 13, 2006

full moon monday

odessa, the neighborhood cat is paying my bed a visit. she's grooming her very long, luxurious hair. she's mewed serveral times and has examined my room. she settled in the corner under the chair before hopping up to my bed to groom.

her coat is a beautiful motley of grey and white. her head is mostly grey with a muzle of white and a shawl of grey lays on her back.

i anticipate the whole fur ball episosde. she is grooming rather long hair with her tongue.

i am thankful this is not my lot in life.

today my head swimming felt less flailing. i set valentine's plans with cynthia visiting from new york, received a message from megan, and finally had enough courage to speak with fumi. fumi has been persistant over the last few days to make sure i was alive. tonight she insisted that i eat, engage in conversation, face my particular demon.

and i resisted, but i relented, too. as she drove closer to my office, i kept talking to her. and i used up my energy behind my current excuses for how i could justify my lack of self-esteem.

they didn't really hold weight and i know she knew this.

capricorns have the benefit of being swimming goats. tough, with horns, and the deftness of fish. so the stubborn persistance paired with the swimming...that helps wear down my saggitarian crazy aiming of arrows in a million different directions.

we're both mythical beasts...and this time, i submitted to the myth that i am a monster.

not true.


Turn Off the Power Strip

Another beautiful day in Oakland. The sun streams in from my eastern and southern windows and the neighbor's dog seems to be barking and growling at nothing.

Friggin' dog. Use your INSIDE voice, perrito!

Most of my day yesterday was spent in a fog of feeling like caca. My poochie friend Kayla sensed it. Our morning walk was lackluster. Diane called and I answered a crying mess. My dad called, mami called, Cynthia, Maritza and Dan. Somehow I managed not to snivel for Dan, although my mind was faraway. I even managed enough charm and energy to figure out a Thursday night hangout. The man is a hospitalist and since he's transitioning to his turn at vampire hours his weekend is now Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday is too soon, Thursday is fine.

I should figure out my life and attitude by then, no?

Last night I walked Kayla in the park and let her off leash. She found a pretty thick little stick and we played stick. Stick is a pretty simple game. You throw stick and she retrieves it. She taught it to me. And I taught her that I cannot play stick if she holds it in her mouth.

While walking in, before the game of stick I had several conversations with my mother. She was trying to help me out, telling me to count my blessings (of which I could not acknowledge one), that I cannot compete with my friends and if that's what makes me miserable, I should make new friends (I tried to explain I don't want to compete with people, I want the opportunity to hang out more often on different adventures (like skiing and trekking to Europe and perhaps indulging in the occasional shoe purchase for hiking or some such outdoor adventure), and to come home.

I hung up three different times. I love my mother. Sometimes when I am in my mindset tizzy she approaches me with a tough love that my mind filters innaccurately as "Erika, you're doing it all wrong. Why would you do it that way?" She's essentially asking me to change my perspective, butI always seem to hear it as criticism from her.

My self-frustration lead me to the game of stick.

It seemed so simple, really. Here was something I could earn a success with. If Kayla was criticizing me, I couldn't understand. And she didn't care if it landed in the mud and she wasn't judging me on my aim or distance. (I did plenty of that myself.) Stick, what a cool game.

In the early evening in Glen Park this meditative game of stick and the medicinal scent of mud mixed with euchalyptus began to change my mood.

My face was still tight with tears when I arrived back at the Surrey Street house with Kayla. I recognized the silver bug and knew that Kayla's were home. They were back from LA. I wondered what the week's hospital visit would look like.

Bendito, so thin. And I thought, "Damn, I left dishes in the sink."

But she looks healthy, not too worn. That lifted some worry off my shoulders.

I called Maritza to see if the Colbert report party was still on.



Earlier in the day I decided to cook for myself. Something medicinal to chop and put into boiling water. There were vegetables that would go bad. I began with water, salt, a little olive oil, and some pepper. I found some garlic, chopped onions.

I knew there were a bunch of carrots that needed attention, chopped and added those. Some Bragg's amino acid stuff. I found cauliflower. What else? Tomatoes that I cut the rotting bits off (not much, but not what I wanted to eat), and celery.

I put in a little wild rice. I found a vegetable boullion cube. I put in ground flax seed.

And the house began to fill with a loving scent. Warmth on a chilly evening. As it boiled slowly I put in a DVD I borrowed from Jose from Street Side Stories, "Every Child Is Born a Poet." It is a story of Piri Tomas, a Newyorican poet who discovered the word while in prison.

Man, his story mirrors my dad's until the jail part a little bit. My papi wasn't into the gang scene or drug scene though.

Are there any great clean Puerto Rican artists? Between Pinero and Piri Tomas it all seems we discover our greatness from the harshness of the Barrio. I gotta dig back into the island and the women. There's Rita Moreno. Let me look at her life, too.

He spoke some deep words and my tired eyes took in the words and images and something softened in my brain. Something opened.

After leaving Kayla's parent's house, I called Maritza.

And yes, she and Frances and Denise were watching the Colbert Report. And to come over.

I felt okay enough to not burst out crying. I went over.

And we picked up pizza and talked. And, wow, I began to feel better.

The Colbert Report was okay, but talking girl talk and travel...they're going to Mexico and Denise is going to Australia. Wow.
And then the presents came out.

Clothing samples that were just gorgeous. There's a linen dress with red striping that's darling. I felt like Christmas had come to me.

Mami's voice came to me, "Count your blessings."

Sunday, February 12, 2006


pues no se lo que paso.

she woke up and she told myself that she loved herself. she slept with the totem kenyan soapstone heart from a world of good. the waldorf pilates tv ad was still in her mind. it featured diasy fuentes (who has become ridiculously whi-tino) and women who sculpted their bodies from sizes 12 to 4 in weeks watching a dvd and using a metal hoop with handles.

danny glover endorsed it.

and that little ad crept into my mind.

i wonder if there is a book, since i am one of the bassackward with no television or media player other than the computer, and this thing ain't equipped for the dvd revolution.

the scarf came off my head last night, unleashing my little bush atop my head. i took a moment to brush my hair and retie my scarf. kayla was patient with me this morning, not tugging at me for a walk. i brushed my teeth.

i walked kayla, down the sidewalk, across the street and into glen park. another beautiful, dewy morning.

i made a dog owner friend with a gorgeous, blonde, poofy something or other pooch. he just moved up from la. i looked awkward in my jacket, i am sure. the temperature jumped about 20 degrees from the time we stepped outside to when we arrived at the park.

he was an la dude. stylish, wavy hair, muscle shirt with arm tats showing and explained how small san francisco seemed.
i agreed with him. i chatted with him about the dog culture here. from my observation a dog could be treated like royalty here. i held back my comment about humans not having as much food, pampering, and health care. i tried to be the welcome wagon, not the cynic wagon.

i let kayla off leash after she did her business and after i picked up said business. she amused herself with a tennis ball for a little bit.

i passively listened to the mini until "toledo" by elvis costello and burt bacharach came on from the painted from memory album. sadness turned on at that tune. my mind got into that blank state. the daydreaming into nothing. the not caring about anything. the list of deficits began streaming like ending credits into my mind.

time to walk home.

and the dog needed to come, too.

we chose the high road on the way back. i charged kayla to stay the course and as soon as i walked into the door...

waterworks, please.

so these tears, where do they come from?
these tears, are they real sadness?
does the monster reside always in my mind?
why does it hate me so?

i replenish my quiver
i make my aim
i take it down
yet it returns

cry cry cry
that's all i ever do
and i hate myself for feeling weak
for feeling worthless
for feeling nothing

my father calls
asks what's wrong
and i tell him
i am fat and ugly and poor and talentless
and i don't know what to do

i am overwhelmed by the global destruction
and the personal blemishes and debt

i am overwhelmed by the prospect of folding clothes
all the while life happens outside
cars are driving
cherry blossoms are blooming
there's a gorgeous, graceful conifer of some type outside the window

and he tried to comfort me
with the story of a little girl he saw
that reminded him of when i was little
beautiful, smart, all over the place

in my mind i wondered what happened to her
you guys were so happy all the time, he says.
i remember that
except when i was scared of my neighbor
and scared when things used to fly in the house
and scared my parents would find out about my neighbor
because when you're little you feel powerless
and i thought it was my fault
i let him get ahold of my bike
i let him take me behind the shed
i let him make me feel bad

and i took on the victim, the blame
i thought that's what jesus would do

my father says i can't let depression take my laugh
my father says he will call me back, mami is in kroger's right now
my father said i looked good the time i was there

my father recalls a poster he's seen with a beautiful woman
staring into a mirror and seeing a monster in the reflection

i'm not the beautiful woman
i'm a monster staring at her reflection

Comedy Sportz

I woke up this morning with 2 goals:

  • To walk the dog
  • To get to my doctor's office

All else was secondary. I was feeling crappy and woke up with Kayla snoring next to me on the couch. I don't remember falling asleep last night.

Kayla was pretty patient with me, her human host. I was groggy, eyes half shut and my shoulder felt out of whack. I showered and languished there, standing with water running over me, still asleep.

I made some motion for conditioner and soap and rinsed off with cold water at the end (you know, to rejuvinate the tired skin!) and then managed some clothes.

Kayla stood on her hind legs to catch my attention. She was ready to go outside.

I armed myself with the iPod mini and a plastic bag.

One thing I find odd about dog ownership is the LNT policy. I think it's cool, but, well...there's a lot people do for their dogs they do not do for their fellow human being.

We walk briskly down to the park, passing by many canine friends. Past the tennis courts and begin along the trail.

Ms. Kayla has squatted several times and I have the plastic bag at the ready, but these previous squats only produced little pools of urine. Future dead patches in the lawn at Glen Park.

Toward the fork in the road, near some euchalyptus trees she squats down and she squats hard.

And I try to turn my head before the process happens. (To give her privacy.)

I am amazed at the lack of shame animals have while relieving themselves. After a few moments, she has deposited her contribution to the earth. A neat little pile, the color of the organic dog food her parents get her. And in the morning cold, it is actually steaming.

For a moment I wonder whether I need to wait til it stops steaming, but I remind myself that this is not a product fresh from the oven. I sigh, make a makeshift mitt from the bag and scoop up her mess.

Thankfully the trash bin was steps away. I slung the bag in and kept walking with Kayla on the leash.

I also thanked (in my mind) the person who cleared away this doggie's mess and every doggie's mess ever deposited in the trash at this park. This is a potentially yucky job.

I call Megan while Kayla sniffs at her doggie peers butts and began to essentially whine about life.

Being the good friend that she is, she listens. And then she tells me I might feel a tad drained because of my schedule lately.

I ponder this as the clock strikes 9:12 and I need to return Kayla to the house and get over the Berkeley. I would have been screwed if I was on public transportation, but Jane makes the journey from Glen Park to University and MLK in Berkley in less than 20 minutes.


I unleashed a lot during my session. I explained how I have been without my herbs and meditation and felt listless and depressed. And my good doctor stopped me and began a socratic exercise when I mentioned why I couldn't date successfully.

She made me list 5 things I like about myself. I struggled after two: I care, and I am genuinely interested.

She eeked out 3 more.

The end of the session came and I felt a little better. I needed to eat and deposit the $25 bucks I earned last night working on Sarah's sister's computer.

Hey man, that's gas and food til the 15th.

After my session I sought lunch. I sought a moon crepe, Banh Xeo, from the Vietnamese place on Shattuck, right next to some California French Cuisine place. Here is where they make moon crepe's that rival Huy's mom's recipe. For those who may not know...imagine a slightly warmed salad of sprouts, shrimp, chicken, carrots, all laid gently within a crispy golden crepe. It is served with basil or mint leaves and a light sauce to bring out the mixture of flavours. This restaurant serves one of the best I have tasted.

The crepe is golden, crispy and has a slight coconut flavor.

I drink coconut juice with pulp. The green and white label is bilingual in Spanish and I begin drawing lines between nations on an imaginary globe in my head. I love this kinda multi-culti thing.

The sun is gentle and out and I drive to my Oakland house to gain some floor space from the boxes in my room. I am engrossed in the Doomed Love show on This American Life when I park in front of the house and lean my chair back to finish the story, cat-like in my car.

I fall asleep and wake up to the nature show that comes on afterwards on KQED on Saturdays.

Man, why am I so tired?

I remind myself if I tidy up, I will find my vitamins and supplements and will begin to eradicate the anxiety.
I get in the house, all is quiet and I wonder if my roommate is home.

I pee and take a mental note that the sink is still clogged and that I need to buy some organic anti-clog thing on payday. I HATE a bathroom that doesn't function. The house needs tenderloving care in a way that I am not quite wealthy enough to provide, but I will get it there. We need some light in the dark woodpaneled bathroom. And the rose print shower curtain has to go.

I flush and hear the rustling of someone from slumber. I rinse my hands under the tub spout and b-line to my room. The warmth of the light draws me to the bed for a nap. The sun is beaming on my right cheek. Celtic music is playing gently in the back of my brain from the radio. Thistle and Shamrock is on with Fiona Ritchie. I first heard her lilting voice in Raleigh. The fiddle play keeps me interested in Celtic music. I don't care too much for the spacey-druid kinda stuff, but give me mandolins and fiddles and a storyline...and I'm in heaven.

I am drifting into Irish bliss, perhaps skipping along some fields in Eire when a dog's barking scares the bejeezus out of me.


I hate dog barks. They are not restful sounds and my eyes feel like they are made of lead. I am freakin' TIRED, Apollo. Shut the hell up, please.

He barks for what seems like forever, calms down and then I can get some sleep.

In 15 minutes he beats my alarm and is barking again.

I am going to investigate one of those electronic anti-dog barking devices they peddle in airplane catalogs for those suburbanites who have everything (including the pottery tree face for your front yard elm or maple). I am not putting the energy into another move unless I get a job offer in Portland.


I get up. I can't sleep with that dog yellin' and I hear voices in the house anyone. Roomie David and a woman's voice. Damn, I look all to' up from the flo' up with a scarf around my head, a jankie tee and my worn orange cords. This is not the first impression a woman likes to make. And since I feel like I am always on as blatina diplomat, I definitely don't want to come out.

So I engage myself with the wall of boxes next to my bed. My room is 9 by 13. My bed takes about 5. The rest was filled with boxes and bags and stuff that needed to be moved.

I got a phone call from Meryl, who is my big sister, sanity extraordinaire and answered the phone, "How the hell did you know I needed you right now?" And she responded with, "The same reason why I know I needed you."

I love this woman.

I share my anxiety over my vitamins and yoga and how I feel the difference over the last 2 weeks. She trumps me by saying the weather in Boston is predicting the biggest storm of the season and she's doing her best not to hunker down with some cigarettes.

I fall into weak cheerleader mode. It's what I can muster.

And I tell her how proud I am of her.

She tells me that she has an entertaining picture of ">Pamela Anderson that should cheer me up. I told her Pamela Anderson never cheered me up. The picture is goofy. I would like to say she sorta looks like Barbara Eden, but, um...no. She just looks goofy.

My phone is dying. One bar left. But Meryl has me in stitches with her NYC accent coming out when she makes references to water.

While on the phone, I have cleared a little yoga studio for myself on the floor and have stacked away some boxes. Yay.

It's almost 6 pm (or so I think), I gotta get to Comedy Sportz in San Jose!
It's interactive team improv. And it's been about 5 years since I have been on the stage.

I get to San Jose an hour early, because I misread my military time on my cell phone clock. Dang.

Well, I seek out a coffeeshop and find a thai-inspired joint and order a duck breast with pomegranate sauce and rice for supper. Moi was hungry.

And it was awesome. A great 10 year old kid served as my host in between IM chats and web surfing. Smart kid, really service oriented. I kicked it on a couch and turned my brain off, which was nice.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


New Chapter's Supercritical Holy Basil
Ayurvedic medicine strikes me (as other herbal/direct from the source healing does) as a smart and tested way to balance out the body and mind's wackiness. I also think that vitamins make sense in a typical American diet where we don't get the right balance of vitamins and minerals (even those who are vehement about organic foods, fruits, and vegetables). The last two weeks have been a reminder of how supportive these substances can be. (Not to mention I've been off my yoga because my yoga suite is filled with boxes on the other side of my room.)

My daily regimen up until I boxed up my things last week was a multi-vitamin for women, herbal supplement/vitamins for skin, Omega-3, Holy Basil, and to up my immune system, additional Vitamin C.

For the last week I have felt a lethargy that I haven't felt in a long time. My focus seems off and I have definitely noticed my skin is breaking out and SLOW to heal from breakouts. I also notice a "gorge" attitude toward eating when I have the desire to eat at all. Strange. All this while still maintaining the same level of exercise. (That is to say I walk about the same. My cardio level is about the same.)

Recommended to me in August of 2004 was
New Chapter's Supercrical Holy Basil. It was recommended to me after I explained that feeling of being overwhelmed, lack of focus, anxiety that didn't strike myself or my counselor as needing any kind of psychiatric meds. She said, "You're not depressed in a way that we need to knock the YOU out of you."

That was good to know. So I took a bottle of holy basil home with me and popped my two gell capsules a day.

I noticed a difference in my perspective on issues. Instead of everything being depressing, upsetting, troublesome...I had a moment of pause before making my assessment. My issues surrounding sugar lows were minimized. I felt a balance.

Over the last two weeks I have noticed without the suppport of the Holy Basil that I am often trying to remember things I had in m brain a moment ago and waffle from task to task. I have a to-do list, but it all seems priority and so it's been hard to choose one thing to do to just DO it. When I get home tomorrow night from housesitting, I am going to scour the boxes until I find my vitamins!

Friday, February 10, 2006


there's a happy little bush atop my head
she's a full bush
extending from my scalp about 10 - 12 inches in some spots
and about 6 - 8 inches in others

the little bush i think is
needing bushwhacking
when the twists are undone

my comb has not been able to best
this bush in quite some time

so i stopped by sally's
and pleaded with the counter woman for help
i apologized that in my 33 years i did not get how to do it
my hair
this flaming bush atop my head

so beautiful
so full

it is unbridled beauty

and with unbridled beauty
comes great responsibility

it is beyond good intention

it is in need of expertise
i purchased a wide tooth comb
and a pick

it is in need to conditioning and reconstructing
i purchased an oil treatment and two conditioners

it is in need to love and care

raking the comb through the bush
much is pruned
raking is a difficult task,
taking much

i divide and conquer
parting in the middle
dragging the left side into submission
my scalp is massaged by the comb's teeth

and i free the single grey hair from the inhospitable forest that has trapped it

along the right
i drag the comb and free two more grey hairs from their forest

beautiful bush

it now extends 9 inches from my scalp

the microwave has sounded its bell
the hot oil treatment is ready

i open the tube and massage 2 treatments into my hair and scalp
warm, it penetrates into the hair shaft

and i take time to write
the winter olympics is behind me

i need to shower it off
add more conditioner that is leave in

tame the bush

decide whether or not to twist

ah, the beautiful bush-crown atop my head
my glorious halo

and i will tap into her power
she has much to reveal to me
i will forever be her student
and she will teach me much
my glorious bush atop my head

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Ghost Cat on the Fallen Tree

The ghost cat on the fallen tree gazed upon Kayla and I. Larger than the average cat, with an inset face, like a snowy owl she crouched and followed us as we head up the hill. The same cat as last evening.

Is she protector of Glen Park?

I cannot know.

This second late-night walk with Kayla is meditative. We're in the city, but not in the thick of the city. We can hear the din of the city just fun from where we are. Our surroundings are rows of homes with smart front lawns and fencing, and potted hedges.

There is a quiet that begs the question, "What happens behind these doors?" The residents within keep very much to themselves, being sure not to disturb a single soul.

Kayla's nose follows a trail completely invisible to the human eye. Down Surrey and up Swiss and over to Sussex. Houses are quiet. Trees are neatly contained. Calla lilies bloom as an early gift of spring.

The night is a hair shy of warm. My barbaloot suit shines as fine coverage for the evening. We only encounter two moving veichles in the 20 minutes we pace the neighborhood.

I note the stars above and the surrounding skyline all around. Kayla is my friendly companion, leading me through this wall-less maze of her trail. I follow, pausing only at crosswalks and when her leash veers to my right side. I carry the leash in my left hand and her on my right side makes wielding it awkward.

Today has been a successful day: 1) letter drafted for the GirlSource monologues, 2) minor troubleshooting of machines, 3) correspondance surrounding the CTN Steering Committee, and 4) Orientation into the Full Circle Fund Community Fellows program.

The weather was gorgeous. Absolutely summery and I realized when I got dressed that somewhere in my Oakland room my shows lay askew. On my feet now are the slippers I left the house with. My feet are painfilled with blisters from a pair of kick-ass boots lent to me by Abigail. I don't have socks with me, which would have softened the proverbial blow. These boots gave me confidence today, but they HURT. They hurt A LOT.

No particulate news stands out today. I contacted the Castro theater about letting my girls volunteer for their Vday event in exchange for watching the performance. I want to explore my workstyle and some time management tools to help me make the best of my time. I find that I write things in different places and then have a challenge resolving my schedule. I double-book myself a lot by having the phone and written calendar. Whoops!

Kayla is half asleep behind me. I'll invite her to the couch in a moment. She was my companion last night, watching guard so that nothing was to harm me. It's a welcome feeling. Thanks for being my guardian angel, Kayla. Let's send some of those healing vibes to mom.

Freedom Isn't Free

Dateline: Haiti

The coverage of Haiti's presidential election has been interesting. It's my belief that Aristide was kidnapped, abducted 2 years ago. But this election seems to have gone down like all other elections.

No, wait.

People came out in DROVES for this election. I believe over 86% of the eligible electorate was registered. The US can boast an eligible voting population of roughly 75% of its total population of 293.7 million folks.
We cast about 1.2 million votes for our president in 2004. That means roughly half of us made it to the polls to cast the vote.

Haiti has 86%, and we have almost 50%.


It'll be interesting to see how it all unfolds, if the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere is pulled from "abject poverty" to a level on par with the "second world".
We never hear of second world countries. We hear of first and third world, but like the middle child, the second world,
(if it exists) is overlooked.

Careful. We all know that a nation cannot be ignored. Haitians are pretty amazing people do not confuse a country's financial status with the wealth of its people.

Free from Stress, Sorta
So it is my duty to care for the best dog in the whole world for the next few days. A friend is dealing with kidney health issues. She's a year younger than I am. And she's dealing with kidney issues.

When I got the call on Monday night I followed her lead on calm. My brain raced a mile a minute thinking about kidney failure and I offered her one of mine. She has donors, and this latest complication came on suddenly. I didn't know what to say, but "Yes, of course I'll house sit!"

I haven't been home enough in Oakland to become attached to the place. And the least I can do is walk and feed the dog and make sure the house is undisturbed for when she returns.

In the last month I have fielded news of birth complications, cancer of all flavors, brain tumors, mental illness diagnoses, and death.

I'm not naive to think this is novel for today or even this month, but it seems that 2006's mark on the world with be to bring the conceptual to a personal level. We may emphathize with friends who are ill or gone. We may wince when we see surgery scars from people we know. We may stop and give a dollar to the man or woman who has had the same story we've heard.

But perhaps 2006 is the year we'll allow ourselves compassion, instead of reserving it for the proverbial rainy day. I think it's great to save. But sometimes we are miserly on compassion and love.

Instead of knocking us over the head with waves and wind and flood and earthquakes, I think 2006 will touch us and remind us that "tragedy" can be a personal experience. It may not be an overblown media event. It can touch us. And we can decide how to handle our humanity and support the humanity of those around us.

Mills College Up and Coming Reading
In doing research for a performance that I want to do with some of my students, I attended a reading at Mills College this afternoon. My friend Alyson was reading in it. She's getting her Masters there. She's a writer and a presence to be reckoned with.

I arrived a little late because of traffic and found her playing the role of emcee, calling each author to the podium to read her piece. I sat in the back of the Bender Room in Carnegie Hall...a gorgeous room of windows and crafted wood. The event was framed in such a beautiful way, perfect for word pictures.

Elmaz Abinader, department head of Mills College English department read a bit of her memoir. She read about her experience in Yemen (Aden) and the tradition of what seemed like the national siesta there. At 2 pm a leaf is ingested, and I believe it's /gott/. It has a lifting sort of effect on whomever consumes it, which seems like everyone there from her account.

She also spoke of the Yemeni love of poetry. Daily in the newspaper. People quoting poetry of American poets not so well known in the United States to her.

She considered this amazing. And I considered the power of a country's citizenry so educated that it knows the literature of other countries. That is powerful.

I'll guess that Yemen is not a major oil power. It's kinda forgotten among the Middle Eastern/Arab states, but I was impressed to hear of the love of poetry.

That's lovely.

Alyson read some personal pieces. I felt her father's life taken from him in the hospital in one piece. And that amazed me as I sat in the back, the sun setting, sending orange light over the college outside of the Bender Room.

At the conclusion of the reading, I went up to Alyson, hugged her and congratulated her on her reading. I apologized that I was on to Comedy Sportz for rehearsal.

Comedy Sportz
4 years ago I stepped off the Comedy Sportz stage. My life was getting hectic.
Ever since I have practiced guerilla improv with my friends and students and random strangers. It makes a great first impression. People think you're fun!

I've been thinkin', since I am not in the classroom this cycle that I could reconnect with grown up activities I could participate in after 7 pm and I really wanted to try improv again.

Every Valentine's Day weekend there's a Battle of the Sexes show and I wanted to call Jeff Kramer to see if there was room for a crusty veteran like me to come back.

Rehearsals are still at 7:30 on Tuesdays, but he's no longer in Santa Clara. Comedy Sportz is in downtown San Jose, right in the old art house theater that I saw Want, a film my friend Amy worked on and my friend Houman was in. Interesting peek into the dreariness of the .dot com world. It did an excellent job laying the setting for all of the main character's internal struggle...all the external messages of a capitalist culture displayed on ads what he was going through. I recommend it as a snapshot of the late 90s, early 2000s.

So I show up a little late after having a discussion with mom (who was in her telenovelas, so I left her alone), and dad who was talking to me about seeing my nephew and my relationship with my brother.

The theater is filled with lots of college dudes and a smattering of women. Let me clarify: I am one of two people of color in the room. The other is a younger, cool quirky Asian woman.

Funny, though. The room wasn't unfriendly, but I am a little more political now than I was back then. We were doing singing games. COOL.

I was nervous...rushing in and wearing a dress...but singing games? Aw, yeah! Bring it on! This room had 4 years experience on me. But I had my faux fabulous voice.

I quickly became friends with everyone through the games, changing groups and hugging and kissing everyone as I met them. It's the Puerto Rican/Erika tactic. It breaks down the barriers. People MUST encounter me!

It was so much fun just to be in the room with adults who just play. That's what improv is...make-believe. Pretend. And we do it in the context of a scence with suggestions from the audience.

It's the BOMB!

After a few songs, we moved on to montage, long-form improv.

This was the technique that scared the hell out of me when I had left. I always felt a lack of confidence in my ideas, so I would try to eek out a bit part.

Tonight I had NOTHING to lose and did a scene cross that involved making tortillas and blessing the hands of a novice with water. I was into it. My miming was pretty good and I felt my mother's accent come through as my character -- Maria.

The scene came back with music later...which I thought was hilarious. I had an adversary named Ana and we did telenovela drama. (Ana was played by the very blonde Justin fresh from Comedy Sportz San Diego. That was awesome, by the way!)

The Comedy Sportz National Tournament is in San Jose this year. That's awesome. Improvisors from around the nation will be coming down to basically workshop, perform, and crack each other up. Sign me up for that. I want to evangelize about laughter!

The Drive and Awkward Mike Phone Call

Apparently I missed three calls while in rehearsal. One of them was from my friend Mike W. up in the Portland environs. I called him back and we talked his car, my dance encounter last night with Maurice the Brazilian, his plans for Valentine's Day and boy was that a buzz kill to the conversation.

Now, in retrospect I guess that may have been weird, because we were in this non-relationship thing for the last three years. I avoided any mention of Valentine's day for fear of "ruining" the relationship. But if you don't have or acknowledge one, you don't have to celebrate specific days. You are a leased partner.

Let me tell you that I am not bitter about our relationship having come to a close. And I dig his new girlfriend. Heck, I am super proud that he is acknowledging relationship. Yay 34 year old male! Go You and your emotional growth!

Things got weird when I was asking about V-Day plans. I am vicariously living through my friends who have relationships. There are lots of cute romantic plans in the works.

Maybe it's because he's tired from working on the house or dealing with car issues.
Either way, it was not the jovial Saggie talks we usually have. We laughed over the term I coined, "Meganified" /meg ON ih FAhID/, to describe my hyperness. But that was it.

It's kinda like when you turn to your favourite station and all of the music just seems okay.

Oooooookay. Let's end the phone call. Erika has to stop by her house to pick up clothes for 4 days while she housesits Kayla.

Kayla, The World's CUTEST Dog!

Kayla became my instant companion over Thanksgiving. She's active, and short-haired, and beautiful. Black with an undercoat of brown. I know she's a mixed breed, but I have no idea of what. I just think she kicks ass.

Well, Kayla has been cooped up in her garage since about 5 this morning. Um, and I arrived about 11:30 pm. POOR Kayla.

I opened the door and then let her out and she was a bounding doggie who just wanted to play. I took a few maneuvers to get her leash on and then calmed her down so she could realize we had to move OUT the door. *giggle*

Once we were on the sidewalk she took to sniffing cars and gardens. A few steps and then something interesting would catch her nose. Up Swiss, over to Glen Park. We walked at the edge of the park and we passed a beautiful white kitty who was scoping the land from a perch on a fallen log. Kitty would have talked to me, save for the hyper dog attached to my hand via a thin string. Kitty moved a little closer, but exercised caution when it saw Kayla.

I can't say I blame the kitty. Kayla is Odie loving. She may not know she needs to show restraint.

The walk was good. All throughout it, I saw the waxing moon and the Amelie theme played over and over in my head. Ah, the fairy tale.

Here's to positive thoughts for the world. I love myself. I want GOOD health for everyone and a decent night's sleep.

Buenas noches!