Wednesday, January 26, 2005

peace ... please

I'm posting these pictures for a few reasons.  Mostly because they remind me of my truest intention: peace.

I took these pictures during those hot summer-like days a couple of weeks ago -- right after three weeks of torrential rains, floods, road blockages and deadly mudslides.

And today in LA, the disaster toll continues to rise as a Metrolink derailed, killing and injuring many local commuters.

The thing is, I don't believe this was a mistake.  [update: as the day progresses, authorities claim the same.]

There's no reason for this kind of tragedy -- except for lack of love.

Whether we're referring to a natural disaster or human error or even a terrorist attack, it's still a reflection of our world -- the world around us and the world within.

We create our own reality.  This is it.  It's not happening outside of ourselves.  It's part of us -- not apart from us.  We need to take responsibility for our thoughts and our actions.

When we are upset, the planet is upset.  From within our own selves all the way to the extended hands of our neighbors, friends and even our enemies.  We are out of balance.  Way outta wack!

I guess it needed to get this way for me to be reminded of my intentions, on this journey, in this heart.  It's all about the intention.

~ peace ... please ~

Monday, January 24, 2005

Pounce Alert

This is the inspiration I get from visiting Scalzi every morning.  Where does he find this stuff?  Well, in this case he found it here.

There are so many times where I'm like, "Oooh, there's DiAnne. I have a quick question for her."  I send an important IM asking what kind of lipstick she told me about recently, to make sure I bought the right one.

Yeah, as if that couldn't wait for an email.

Hello!  We're bloggers and journalers (words officially added to the unofficial online journaling dictionary -- at least in my mind).  Most likely we're online writing or creating. 

What do I think?  My friends are just sitting there, hoping I'll bombard them with an instant message?  Well, yeah.  Maybe.

Oooh, there's Andrea...


[make your own error message here.]

Saturday, January 22, 2005

In-N-Out in LA with AOL-J

What do you get when you take five different people from different parts of the country and give them an AOL Journal?  Well in this case, you get a mini AOL-J private convention in Los Angeles next weekend.

For the past couple of months, Andrea has been planning a get-away week with her good friend Carol.  After researching a few areas in the country (not to mention a few bats of the eyelashes and big smiles -- sprinkled with a dash of manipulation -- from yours truly), they finally decided to take their vacation in San Diego. 

Even though SD is a two hour drive from here, I threatened to crash their party if they wouldn't see to it that they come early enough to spend time in LA with me.

Then DiAnne threatened to crash our party on the weekend -- but not before I had already presented the idea to Andrea.  Included in the gaggle of gals are our good friends Robbie and Gigi.

So the past few weeks have been filled with emails to/from each of us. -- To the point where I went to hit "Reply All" on an unrelated email today and was shocked to see it wasn't an option.  That's because it was from a different friend, addressed only to me.  Imagine that.  A personal email.

Yesterday's round robin included ideas of what the first-time LA visitors might want to see or do for entertainment.  I had previously mentioned how important it is to experience an IN-N-OUT Burger while here.  Since it is not a national fast food chain, Andrea, Carol and DiAnne hadn't heard of such a place.  And honestly, the first time I heard it, well, we've all had that visual.

Somewhere along the line, IN-N-OUT Burger became INSIDEOUT Burger (a mistake easy enough to make).  "As long as I get to see the beach and eat a famous insideout burger..."  The repeated Reply Alls came flooding in with descriptive visuals and concerns about the kind of food it might be.  The meaning and the real name of this fine establishment was lost on some.

It's the best drive-thru fast food in the area.  Accept no substitutes.  If it's not IN-N-OUT, it's an impostor!

So please pay attention, this is important:


Friday, January 21, 2005

Mahna Mahna -- Up Close and Personal

No freeeeekin way!!  Click on the image and see what my fabulous fun friend, David sent me today.

I've been getting so many emails and comments about the song that plays on my journal.  I thought it was originally from Sesame Street.  In my head, the "doodoos" are replaced with "beebee-padeedeep"  But the more info I find, the less I remember.  [If anyone has more accurate information, please share.]  The one that most people seem to remember is this version from The Muppet Show.  It features Mahna Mahna and the two Snowths.  It's still just as funny today!  Probably the best muppet sketch ever!  And it wouldn't be complete without two grumpy old hecklers and balcony banter:

#1:  The question is, what is a Mahna Mahna?

#2:  The question is, who cares?

Ahhh yes, fun for the whole family.  Who couldn't love this frazzled little muppet-guy?  Such a hipster-rocker man!

Thanks for the link David. You rock.  Now, where's your blog?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Let the Sun Shine!


Ahhhh ... SUN!  It's been lovely this week.  I understand many of you are being hit with mounds of snow and sub-zero temps.  ::sigh::  That's just crazy weather.  Like here.  I don't expect it to stay this way for the rest of the season (though, that would be mighty nice).  This is unusual weather for January.  No complaints.  In fact, I'm ecstatic!

Gigi's on her way here to come with us for our dogwalking day (then perhaps a martini later).  So I've gotta run.  But before I go, I'll leave you with this:

No guy can wear a shirt like this in public without thinking it won't end up on *someone's* blog.

To be fair, let's get a closer look at the shirt I was wearing that day.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Peace Place

Scalzi's Weekend Assignment #43: Congratulations, you've become your own soverign state! Design a flag for the United States of You, using no more than three colors and one symbol (the symbol can be of any color). Explain your design choices. Don't worry about actually making the flag -- you can just tell us about it.

Extra credit: make a picture of the flag. Because, let's face it, that's time-intensive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Those who read Andrea's journal -- or rather, her journal comments -- know that her flag resembled my first attempt so much that I had given up on the weekend assignment.  But I'd be honored to be a subdivision of Andi-Land.  That is, if she'll approve.

My flag represents all the times I really wanna lash out but then remember I'm holding onto the sign -- or vision -- of peace.  Even though I get angry, frustrated and disappointed in the world around me, (and that which goes on in my own head) I still have the reminder of why I'm really here and what I believe.  Peace is the way...dammit.

As for the soft pink -- just call me Prissy Pirate.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

SoCal Update

Ouch.  Shin splints-ish.  I hiked some dogs up paved hillside roads on Monday because all the parks are flooded and way too muddy to deal with.  That wouldn't be so bad but I had to do it in rubber boots.  Not so great for hiking.  I can hardly walk today.

The rain has been so intense that I borrowed my roommate's ski pants and jacket.  He insisted I'd stay dry, unlike previous days of drenched clothing.  I found out during the hike that while it was true that I stayed bone dry from rain water, I was soaked in my own sweat from the weatherproof insulation.  It's quite possible I could've lost this pesky winter weight if I had just been wearing this stuff all along.

The sun was shining bright yesterday.  The air was crisp and cold.  The winds were strong.  And allergies were kicking in.  Just a few sneezes though.  ::knock wood:: I've been weather-allergy-free for about a year.  Each year it gets better and better.  [still knocking wood and crossing fingers]

Southern California is getting hit hard this winter.  The death toll keeps rising.  I've never seen anything like it.  Topanga Canyon has been closed for two days because of that two-story boulder that just happened to land in the one street that leads to the west side.  And viewing footage of that horrible mudslide in La Conchita is shockingly surreal.  It's just ... ::sigh:: the power of nature.  Wow.

There's always one story in particular that has the same ring to it.  Always, without fail, someone chooses to ignore barriers and drive through their regular route, thinking it can't be *that* bad.  And always, without fail, that someone the most tragic way.  A woman's car got stuck in the wash in Pamona.  She and her three children were being heisted to safety by rescue workers.  On the way up, she lost her grip on her 2-year-old daughter who was swept away in the raging waters of the wash.  Rescuers found the body hours later.  She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.  The case is under homicide investigation.  Ouch!

I have to admit, all the devastation puts my leaks and drips into perspective.  I've taken pictures but the holes in the ceilings, the water stains and the measly buckets of water just don't compare to what's going on in other parts of the city, or in the next county (or in other countries)!  I can handle a little rain in my apartment.  I'm blessed to still be alive and still have a home.  So much to be thankful for.

...'cept now I can't leave.  The power-outage last week tripped a few things in the main parts of the building.  Today the garage parking gate is locked shut.  There's no release button (like on a normal gate) but that's par for the course in this lovely hole.  So, our cars are trapped.  I have dogs to attend to.

Sunday, January 9, 2005

Reading -- A lifelong struggle

I'm reading a great book.  Some of you know that I'm not much of a book-reader.  It's been the fight of my life.  I used to read very well up until I reached the middle of first grade (yes, I remember this).  I was in the advanced reading groups and read aloud with enthusiasm.  At some point that shifted.  I was brought to an eye doctor where he diagnosed me with a lazy eye.  Thus began the second joke of all jokes.  The first being I was always late "because I was born late."  The second seems obvious:  I was lazy.  Neither were funny to me.  But they stuck.  I got away with a lot, using my branded labels.

Anyway, they slapped the ugliest glasses on my little six-year-old face just to "train" my eyes to look at the same place at the same time.  Looking back (ha, get it? looking ba... oh nevermind) I think I was just bored out of my mind and no one really got that.

I was supposed to wear said ugly glasses for reading and watching TV.  I refused to wear them.  I hid them, often.  One day, I had all the neighborhood kids at my house.  We were watching TV.  My mom asked, "Where are your glasses?"  I shrugged with a look like she was speaking in tongues.  A few friends giggled, "You wear glasses?"  I rolled my eyes and made like my mom was crazy, "I don't know what she's talking about."

A moment passed when my mom came around the corner and physically placed the ugly glasses on my face.  She stood tall (just over five feet) with a smug look of victory, her fists proud on her hips -- the only thing missing was a cape and a big S on her shirt.  Everyone laughed.  Everyone!  That was the last time anyone ever saw those glasses.  I hid them once and for all -- said I lost them.  Surprisingly, my folks gave up on making me wear them. 

In the time I was "supposed to" be wearing the glasses, I avoided reading -- that way I didn't have to wear them.  Easy.  Not-so-easy in the longrun.

It stunted my reading progression in elementary school.  I could read.  I loved words (still do).  But I had difficulty reading aloud without stammering and tripping over letters within words, sometimes missing whole words in a sentence.  I'd read the same sentence twice without realizing it.  I'd skip a paragraph.  It was embarrassing.  I focused so much on trying to read each word with perfection that I completely missed the idea of comprehension.

Eventually, my eyes corrected themselves.  [At a later eye appointment, doc told me I had "better than 20/20 vision."  So, I just thought the whole "glasses thing" was a torture device.]  But the psychological damage had already been done.  I survived high school and college without ever reading an assigned book -- fiction, non-fiction, text books.  I figured out all I had to do was show up to class and pay attention to the discussion.  I would skim for notes before tests, but that was the extent of my reading.*

The thought of reading aloud still terrifies me today.  I was asked to read to a fifth grade class recently and I panicked.  I told the teacher I'd sweep floors or clean pencil sharpeners -- anything but read aloud. 

I learned in my adult life that I actually love to read -- non-fiction.  Anything else just seems like a waste of time -- to me.  My mind is like a constant dry sponge, eager to soak up knowledge about many different subjects.  My interests change with the wind.  When I want to know about something, I research it till I fall asleep.  Or until another interest sweeps me off my feet.

I'm fascinated by people and where they come from, what their stories are, what their lives were/are like, how they feel, what they think, why they behave the way they do.  That's why I like reading journals and blogs.  They are short, ongoing, personal accounts.  Snippets of life from all over.  Inspiring and informative.

I like books that help me live a better life.  With non-fiction, I can read one page of a self-improvement book and put that information to use.  Like the one I'm reading now -- Organizing from the Inside Out (by Julie Morgenstern).  I may never pick it up again but already I've learned enough to get myself more organized.  Reading on can only help me get even more organized.  And that's where my passion lies at the moment.  I've gained new tools, a new way of looking at things, new information.  It opens doors to many levels of life and the world around me.

Oooh, gotta run.  My roommate's ready to clear out/organize the common areas of the apartment.  Gotta do it while the mood strikes.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

* There were only a few fiction books I ever fully read as a kid.  And really, the person I have to thank for that is my aunt who made us read for one hour a day when my brother and I would visit.  I loved being there, with my cousins and all the fun things we'd do together.  But the reading...that was a huge price to pay.  I resisted.  I suffered.  I remember one time being "locked" in a room with my cousins, each of us with a book of our choice.  My cousins seemed a little too enthusiastic about reading in silence.  I thought I'd be able to get their attention to play a game instead of reading, since we were the only ones in the room.  But nope.  They wanted to read.  To my surprise, the hour was up before I was ready to put the book down.  I can't remember which one.  But they were always only written by Judy Blume.  I still love those books today.

Saturday, January 8, 2005

Winter Dogwalking

I've been meaning to update all week.  Something about the weather - and the season - that keeps me from hopping-to-it.  It's been raining every day for at least two weeks.  I don't mind the rain.  We need it.  And up until yesterday, the rain had been working in favor of my schedule.  I would wake up every morning to the sound of drips and plops (both inside and outside).  And by the time I got myself geared up to pick up dogs for the afternoon, there would be a nice clear break in the clouds.  The rain would hold off till I got home.  Nice huh?  I thought so.

Yesterday was a different story.  There were no breaks in the rain.  It was a steady downpour all morning, day and night.  There are three more holes in our ceilings and plaster splattered below them.  Pots, pans, vases and towels are spread around to catch splashes.  Remember, that's just inside!

I canceled the dogpark trip because the rain was just out of control.  Some of my dogs still needed to at least get a chance to stretch and mark territory.  I took Hunny, Winnie and Sparky for an ultra-quick, brisk trot around the block.  Along the way, Sparky had to slosh through puddles neck-deep.  She hates the rain.  I had to coerce her.  Hunny too.  She at least knows to jump over puddles and get to some piece of dryer land.  Sparky stood in the deepest flooded area of the alley and stopped moving.  She looked more pathetic than ever.  And if it weren't so damn wet, I'd have taken her picture.

Winnie, well, she's bigger, fluffier and more comfortable than any of us...including myself.  Rain seems to fall right off her thick coat.  Unlike mine.  I was semi-dressed for the weather.  But I wore jeans, which thoroughly soaked through my skin.  The yellow rain boots were my saving grace.  I had on four ... no ... FIVE, layers of tops -- tank, t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt, sweatshirt and a raincoat.  By the end of the block-walk, I was freezing from the heavy wet clothes on my back.  My head had three ... no ... FOUR coverings: bandana, hat, sweatshirt hood and raincoat hood.  The very top of my head stayed dry.  So, my feet and my head were dry.  The rest of me was wet and cold.  No one could tell I was crying.  I was kinda laughing too.  But just because it was so absurd.

It's expected to rain like this all through Monday.  I'm not working this weekend.  I'm happy right where I am.  Although, we had a power failure yesterday.  It knocked a lot of things off track.  So, the elevator isn't working in the building.  I was hoping to get some laundry done (you know, all those wet clothes and towels I used to dry Hunny).  But carrying that stuff down three flights doesn't seem appealing to me.  So I think I'll just take a hot bath and curl up with some DVDs.

Yes, yes, I completely understand -- things could be much worse.  I used to live in the Northeast.  I know.  It's bad.  It's not fun.  I don't know how NYC or Boston dogwalkers do it.  Then again, that's why I live here, and not there.  Every job has its perks and quirks.  And jerks.  But that's a story for another time.

Happy Saturday everyone!  Oh, and thank you all for the Hunny-Birthday wishes.  She had the best birthday EVER!

Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Sunday, January 2, 2005

For the Fun of it

I've been inspired by so many different people in so many different creative areas over the last year and a half.  Today's venture (by pure happenstance) involved paintbrushes -- rather, mouse-brushes.  Gigi's been raving about how fun it is to draw and paint on the computer.  I've tried it.  I tried it a few times again.  I stopped trying.  Till today.

OK, so I could never actually draw anything freehand...but I seem to have picked up on tracing.  The most difficult parts were first, finding the function that would basically outline the original picture -- and second, tracing and coloring with my right hand.  I'm left-handed.  It's one thing to get used to using the mouse with this stuff.  It's a whole 'nother thing to do it with the wrong hand.  Unlike Gigi who whips up her fabulous creations in MS Paint, I discovered this in the photo editing program I've been using.  Who knew it had all these other functions?  [perhaps everyone except me.  now I'm in the know.]  I started my day in the Help menu, looking for ... I can't remember what.  Instead I played with paintbrushes.  Yep, another day down and gone.

I did take a few breaks throughout the day.  I cleaned and vacuumed my room.  I took Hunny for a few spurts of walks (it's raining -- again).  I spent over an hour in the kitchen cleaning and cooking.  Yes, actually cooking.  Nothing big.  But, other than warming leftovers or opening a can of soup, it's the first time I've cooked in ... since ... um ... six months?   I had all four burners going at once.  Scrambled eggs, steamed broccoli and cauliflower, basmati rice and mashed potatoes.  It wasn't all for one sitting.  I figured it would be better to have that stuff hanging around, ready and available to snack on.  Ha.  It didn't stop me from having a mini double chocolate bundt cake tonight, but it did encourage me to freeze the last two.

Tomorrow I plan on checking out Bally's Total Fitness.  I'd much rather spend the money on an iPod and hike with the dogs, but this is the time of year when everyone joins a gym, goes fortwo weeks and continues to pay for three years.  Hm.  On second thought....