Monday, February 28, 2005

Some Winter Cheer

As winter woes have smacked some of us face down in the gutter, I am here to spread a little cheery sunshine by introducing some newbie Journalers for your arousal -- I mean, perusal.

AOL-Journals has never been smaller (as if) and lacking content (not true).  Many of you have been begging for new reads. (ha!)  Please Freeepeace, we're bored.  What can we do?  (yeah right)

OK, so it's more likely that (like me) you made a pact with yourself to stop reading new journals because it's nearly impossible to keep up with current reads.  Yep, I hear ya.  Yet, I still find myself visiting newbies all the time.  I'm a recovering addict afterall.  It's a tough one to kick.

Honestly though, every time I do visit a new journal, I'm like, what took me so long? 

Thus leads me to my plight.

Since breaking my pact, there are a few journals that have become a regular daily click.  Two of which I cannot go one more day without mentioning.  It would be a shame not to share this information.  It was fun at first, being one of a few to have these journalers all to ourselves.  But they're just too good to go unnoticed.  And you know, it's time to spread the wealth!

~ * ~    

Mikethedawg - By Popular Demand

Meet Mikethedawg -- aka earpatchgoddess, aka Drew, aka Andrea's-friend-now-our-good-friend, Carol.  Personally, I love her journal screen name!  She's the last of the YakYaks to join J-Land.

Her writing is honest and raw with weaves of humor and a base of humility.  Reading her is like getting subtle -- and not-so-subtle -- reminders of the universal truth that resides in us all.  She has me laughing and crying in the same entry.  I'm often left wondering, how does she know all this stuff?

But don't just take my word for it.  See for yourself.  Hop on over to her journal where you will surely understand why this old soul was conjured up By Popular Demand!  

~ * ~  

Phlskygirl - My Waste of Space

Next up - Aileen!   I actually found her through Andrea.  I was hooked by her journal description alone: 

If you thought AOL Journals were screaming for a vapid and thoughtless alternative to those annoyingly deep and thought-provoking entries out there... Welcome to my humble abode!

Crass and funny as hell, she writes with witty intelligence.  A former flight attendant turned optician, about to embark on a cross-country journey to plant new roots ... in Vegas, of all places.  ;)  My only wish is that she'd update more often.  Maybe if we cheer her on...

Her Waste of Space is anything but a waste of space.  It's no place for the kiddies, unless of course, they're smart-mouthed 9-year-olds from a Park called South.

~ * ~  

Add these journals to your list of dailies.  You will not be disappointed.  My recommendations come with a lifetime guarantee.  If you are dissatisfied for any reason within this lifetime, simply remove the link from your dailies and you will receive a full refund.  No questions asked.  OK, maybe one or two.  But really, what's it matter?  It's a lifetime!  Just click and move on already.  Sheesh.

A Week in Review-ish

Talk about inconsistent.  I had full intentions to journal every day -- restarting last week.  Where does the time go?  I'm serious!  This is unlike me.  OK, maybe it is very much like me.  Let's see if I can recap the week's events...

I have no idea what I did last week.  I walked dogs.  Ohh, I remember.  I bounced a whole bunch of checks and debits because I forgot to make a deposit.  That threw me way off.  The fees alone cost more than some of the debits.  I left my body for a while.  I think I'm back now.  The thing is, I had the money ... just sitting here ... waiting to be deposited.

On to bigger and better topics.

Let's see ... I went to the movies with Cheryl on Friday night.  It was a toss-up between Million Dollar Baby and Hotel Rwanda.  We opted for deep depression and total outrage.  It pains me to think that I had no idea what was happening in Africa, just ten years ago.  It's not like this was before my lifetime, out of my reach.  This was happening right under my nose.  Horrifying.  Great movie.  But I do wish I saw the Oscar winner.  I'll see it.  I love Hilary Swank.  She's an incredible actress.  And her cutie-pie hubby, Chad Lowe, what a beautiful couple they are.  So supportive of each other.  Nice to see.

I spent all day Saturday with some YakYaks in Laguna Beach.  I was the reluctant tag-along.  The idea was to spend the day gazing at overpriced art in a few "tiny" galleries.  To my pleasant surprise, we spent the day tavern-hopping!  The one gallery was enough for me.  And by the time we left the last bar, all the galleries were closed.  I call that divine intervention.  Although, (ok fine) I admit, I was intrigued by some of the art through the windows.  Sure, that fourth margarita helped.  Dinner was delicious too.  I swear, I haven't had that much to drink, nor have I eaten that much since college!  I'm gaining that freshman fifteen all over again!

I loaded up on all possible hang-over remedies before I fell into bed at 1:30am.  Still, I was awake at 3:30, tossing and turning.  I might've gotten a couple of more hours sleep before getting up at 8:30.  I don't recall.

I had a meeting with a potential new client at 10.  So I had to be somewhat alert.  I was told this dog was wild and needed a good dogwalker.  She had been adopted out and given back twice -- not exactly sure why yet.  I can imagine her breed/look might have had something to do with it.  She's a strong pitbull/ridgeback mix.  So, I geared up and dragged my sorry ass to meet them.

She (the dog) came around the corner to greet me and immediately sat at my feet, wiggling, sniffing.  She's one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever seen.  Okay, they all are.  But really, she's a cutie!  She's not that wild.  I was waiting for a fish out of water.  She listens.  She submits.  She's smart.  She knows sit, very well.  I took her for a trial walk and let her run in a nearby off leash area (no one was there).  We fell in love.  She just needs consistency.  She's got some cuts that are healing and she could use a little meat on her bones.  I'm looking forward to growing with her.  I hope they take this dogwalking thing seriously.  They say they aren't dog-people, but they are care takers so they want to be sure she's well provided for.  To me, that's what matters.  Melted my heart.  [thanks Danielle!]

After our initiation, I picked up Hunny who had spent the weekend with Cheryl in the animal kingdom (Cheryl had Hunny and Jennifer's dog, Roshi, all weekend.  Plus the three cats).  I almost zonked out there but dragged home to crash in my own bed, with Hunny by my side... all day long!  What a couple of slugs we were.

Later Hunny was really sick.  My poor baby.  Nothing I could do.  She just had to work it out.  I laid on the floor with her for a while.  She seems better today.  I imagine the boiled chicken for breakfast raised her spirits a little.

Today it was business as usual.  The sun was shining when I left.  The rain came out of nowhere.  And I drove home in sunshine.  I guess we're not out in the clear just yet.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Rainy Hike

When it rains once in a while, I don't mind canceling my day to rest and play.  But when rain continues through most of the winter, at some point I just have to push through it.  Dogs need walking.

The dogparks are too muddy and gross.  And most of them will stay that way for at least a week after the rain stops.  Rain is bad for business. 

Two of my clients canceled due to the rain.  I took the remaining group on a hike.  Good for them.  Good for me.  That is, until twenty minutes into it.  Another round of downpours swept in.  That means twenty minutes away from the car or anything resembling shelter.  Fun for them.  Not fun for me.  It was a quick reminder that the jacket I was wearing isn't exactly a raincoat, nor is it waterproof.  I was drenched to the bone.  Three layers of clothing dripping and stuck to my chilling body.

But a hike is a hike.  I kept my heart rate up and felt that slow burn in the backs of my thighs.  Had it not been cold, I might've broken a sweat.

I would've stayed out much longer with the dogs.  We were having a great(ish) time.  I'd like to keep it up.  I wonder how Otis would do on a hike.

Next year I absolutely must invest in full body rain gear.  I suppose if I had known how intense this season was going to be, I might've taken care of that already.  I used to think buying expensive rain gear to wear for two weeks out of the year was just a waste.  Go figure we're hitting record levels of rainfall this season.

Just gotta get through tomorrow and hope this is the end of the season's storms.

Oooh, I wish I still had my garden.  Could you imagine!  Spring is gonna be gorgeous around here.  And the farmer's markets -- Fresh fruits and veggies for this hiking body.  Good stuff.

I may be a grump in this weather but I just know the earth is smiling right now.  So it's all good.

Weighing In

Did I mention I saw my doctor yesterday?  Got on the scale and nearly BROKE IT.

She came in (it was more like a social visit) and I was like, "Hi, I'm fat again!"  She laughed of course, because that's just so absurd.  But she did say she noticed I put the weight back on.  The last time she saw me, I was at my lowest emaciated mono weight.  ::sigh::  I miss those days. 

Kidding!  [kinda]

Anyway, I'm not happy with the numbers.  I don't even wanna THINK about the inches all over.  This is partly why I haven't wanted to visit my doctor.  That scale thing just freaks me out.  I already know how heavy I feel in my body.  I don't need the numbers to announce it.

I suppose it's a good thing.  I've been threatening to get back to my healthy habits.  But you know how it is, winter sets in and all I want to do is eat fatty foods.  I don't eat a lot as it is.  But I eat the wrong foods.  Starches and fats.  Yum!

Is coffee a starch or a fat? 

So, I guess it's essential for my health (and my spirit) to consciously say I'm ready to think about getting back on the wagon.  Notice how non-committal that is.  Ha.  Whatever.  A hike a day plus protein, veggies and daily supplements.  I want to lose inches and tone muscles.  It won't matter then what the numbers say.  As long as I feel better, lighter and more fit.

But if we were to talk numbers, I'll be happy with eleven less pounds.  I'll be thrilled with fourteen less pounds.  But who's counting, right?

Monday, February 21, 2005

Drippage

Well, that didn't last long.  I thought we had taken care of the nasty leaks in my room (and other areas of the apartment) last night when Cute Neighbor Boy and I hopped up onto the roof with some kind of miracle solution from Home Depot.  It worked for him.  He hasn't had a leak in months.  It worked for me too -- for a full twenty-four hours.  I survived an entire night of heavy rain and thunder storms without so much as a single drip.

That's part of why I spent time organizing and putting things out on previously empty shelves.  It was exciting.

To celebrate, I went out to dinner with Cheryl.  OK, so it wasn't to celebrate, but it could have been.

I couldn't believe my eyes -- and ears -- when I came home to more dripping and water damage.  Cute Neighbor Boy told me to come banging on his door if it starts dripping again so we could run to the roof while it's happening and see if we can find the source.  So, I did (happily).  More patching took place and now the leaks are even worse.  We think it's coming from the upper part of the roof.  And unfortunately, neither of us has a ladder tall enough to reach.  So for now, this is how I'm living.

I had to remove everything from the shelves so I could move the unit out from under the drips.  I should move the TV and its table too but they're both just too heavy.  Plus, where would I put them?

I don't understand.  We don't usually get this much rain in a season -- outside or inside.  And you know what?  It doesn't just 'rain' out here.  It dumps an insane amount of water all at once, in waves, over and over.  Like right now, there's a stampede on the roof.  And just when I think it's coming down as hard as possible, it intensifies.

I know when these storms pass, I won't be phased by any of the drippage.  But, now that some of the ceiling plaster has fallen off, I'm actually feeling the effects of mold allergies.  Sneezing, coughing, burning eyes and nose, scratchy throat, headache, tightness in my chest.

We've made several calls to the apartment manager.  We wrote a formal letter to the building owner.  Nothing is being done to rectify this situation.  I would call this an emergency.  There should be someone on the roof right now, trying to patch things up.  [and it would be me if I could get up there.]  But I can't make someone do something.

The best I could do was call the City Department of Housing and file a complaint.  An inspector is scheduled to come -- in March.  I've also made an appointment to see my doctor -- in March.  Everyone's busy.

I don't even want to go that route.  I just want to fix the leaks, stop thinking about it and live my life.

In an attempt to relax in here, I put my fan on high, hoping for some white noise over the multiple drips.  I'm listening to classical music.  I'm about to watch a movie on my computer with the headphones.

Still, I can hear a ruckus in that corner.  I'm afraid if I ignore it too much, I won't notice if it starts flooding, or if a new spot starts dripping -- like near my desk.

Well, my bed is dry.  For that, I'm thankful.

You know, it's too bad the building owner doesn't care enough to put some effort (or money) into his investment.  This place has such great potential.  The building is only 15 years old.  The apartments are huge, bright and airy.  It's basically quiet.  It's centrally located.  Maybe if someone would buy it from him... Then again, I'm sure my rent would skyrocket.  See, there's always a compromise.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

What to Do?

Once again, I set out to do one small task and three hours later, I'm more organized than ever before.  You know, to streamline the process.  Drawers are cleared.  Shelves are utilized.  Books are displayed.  And that one measly task is still sitting in the wings.

All that work has made me tired.

I'm thinking:  Nap or coffee?

Nap?

...

Coffee?

...

Food.

Oh, I think I'm hungry.  Let's see ... morning = coffee.  noon = slice of toast.  afternoon = banana.

Yeah, I'm hungry.

OK wait.  Maybe I'm just tired.

I should take a nap.

...or make coffee.

Oh.  When's dinner?  That will help with this decision. 

...

Oh but I'm too tired to think on an empty stomach.


 this should be a no-brainer.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

MishMosh

Every month since Judith started her artsy essay contests, I've wanted to participate.  And every month passes by without so much as a trial run.  I'm determined to get an essay in -- if not to win the coveted artwork, then for my own sense of accomplishment.

So I sat down with great aspirations this evening and got two whole sentences before I was sent into a tailspin of internal emotional processing.  Isn't it just like the written word to get to those unspoken places?

***

I haven't written a song in over a year.  I haven't been playing much music lately.  As we can see, I haven't been updating my journal regularly either.  I have been doing more personal journaling.  That's always enough to take me to other levels of production (or non-production, depending on my perspective).

***

Winter is always a time to hibernate.  It's when nature slows down and turns the lights out early.  It's a time to reflect, rest, be quiet, rejuvenate and prepare for the next seasons.

This works out well for me.  Spring and summer are busy dogwalking times.  It's already starting.  Calls and emails of inquiries have begun.

***

I'm toying with the idea that a different guitar might break this dry spell.  Tonight, as I forced myself to play, I realized I'm singing songs from a different era of my growth, on the same guitar I've had for 24 years.  There's a lot of energy stored in that old wood.  A quarter of a century of memories.

I also just right-this-very-moment remembered that I wrote a bunch of my songs on a borrowed guitar that I played for two years.  It was that guitar that brought me out of my livingroom every week.  When was that?  1997-99.

I loved that Takamine -- as big and awkward as it was at first.  We became good friends.  I learned to play some fun stuff.  Found my groove.  Came up with new strumming patterns and styles.  I hardly put it down.  Until it was time to return it. [thanks old friend, where ever you are.]

Yes!  I need a new/different guitar.

OMG - that's totally it.  I'm tripping out on some kind of epiphany. Right here. Right now.

I just always thought I was in a lull, or  ::gasp::  losing interest.  But thinking about playing a different guitar shifts my entire perspective.

***

Gigi, thanks for the chat earlier.  It kick-started this whole bunch of something!  I love you for it.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Eyeshades Please

[Imagine Party Pictures Posted Here:  martinis, friends, smiles, wine, champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, food, empty martini glasses, rip-roarin laughter.]

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Now I'm remembering why I don't like to drink much anymore.  And why I never really drank on a school/work night.  I actually just looked out the window in disgust because the sun is shining.  What's wrong with this picture?

In celebration of Valentine's Day, I went to Cheryl's last night for a Sweetheartless Sweethearts Gathering.  Basically an excuse to see friends, eat yummy food, laugh a lot and drink.  You know, eat, drink and be merry.

I may be a "fun drunk" according to Dean, but I'm definitely not a fun post-drunk (according to my shadow).  I don't know how y'all do it.  My body is being attacked from the inside.  My stomach is doing kick-flips.  My chest feels tight.  My head is throbbing.  My ears are blocked.  And will somebody please turn the lights down in the sky?  [I know later I'll regret asking for that, seeing that it's supposed to rain for a week!]

In the interim ... up and at em.   ::wince::

Monday, February 14, 2005

Nothing

I've done nothing today.  All day.  Nothing.  No. Thing.  Not one-single-thing.

Well, that can't be entirely true.  I did get up.  Drank tea.  Watched bananas ripen.

Geez, I messed up.  I'm supposed to buy one banana from different bunches so they don't all ripen -- or in this close case, start rotting -- all at the same time.  I guess it's banana smoothies for me for the next few days!

So, I got up.  What else?  Drank tea.  Oh, I already said that.

I kept waiting for something to happen.  Some motivation to kick in.  Some inspiration to stir up.  Seems I'm still waiting.

I read.  Ate fruit.  Sulked.  Read some more.

Didn't want TV or music.  Didn't feel like writing, editing or playing solitaire.  Didn't want to be social but didn't want to be alone.

I napped.  Got up.  Considered indulging in pizza or ice cream -- or both.  Made more tea instead.

If it weren't for Hunny, I wouldn't have seen the light of day or felt the crisp air.  Not much though.  She's a great partner.  We're going out? Great.  We're napping? Great.  We're eating now?  Great.  We're napping again? Great.  (she probably has more to report than I do today.)

Everyone I did talk to (or email) said they were having a similar day.  It actually made me feel better being a slug for the day.

I know I need these days every once in a while.  And there are many times when I crave these days.  But when they spontaneously happen, I find myself wondering what I should be doing instead.

Shower.  Shower might be a good place to start.  Oh, I'll take one in the morning.  It's time for bed already.

One banana down.  Seven to go.

There.  I did something today.

[damn.  this entry didn't even make it in today.  since it's after midnight, it's technically not even today anymore.]

Monday, February 7, 2005

Connecting

What more can I say that hasn't already been said?  By now it's obvious how much I adore the YakYaks.  These are some of the easiest women to love -- because they love so freely.  I feel completely relaxed when thinking about who we are as friends.  No awkwardness.  No worries.

They're not afraid to tell it like it is and perhaps give me a boot in the ass to get stuff rolling in my personal or professional life (thanks lovelies).  If there's a misunderstanding, we bring it to the table.  If there's any doubt about how we feel, we check in.  Imagine that -- a world where honesty really is the best policy.

I have that in my daily life.  I expect that in the friendships I've cultivated offline.  But sometimes you just never really know when it comes to meeting people online -- or meeting online people offline.  My instincts (in this case) haven't let me down.  You know, when you think you're connecting and then you really do connect, it's kinda cool.

Cheeseburger in Paradise

 


The best cheeseburger I've ever had ... in Paradise.

According to Aileen's comment in Andrea's journal, "Trish TOTALLY looks like a vegan..."   Thanks girlie, I'll take that as a compliment (no matter how you meant it).

I was vegan at one time.  But these women have seen me in swim trunks.  They'll be the first to confirm, I ain't no vegan no mo!  [they'll also tell you I don't talk like that.]  Apparently though, a dark steamy hot tub gives some the illusion (delusion) of six pack abs.  It's all about the lighting, girls.

Seriously, how yummy does that burger look?  And those fries!  Mmmm...

Dental Rant

It's been almost ten years since I've been to a dentist.  I was scheduled for a "possible" root canal today.  But apparently I'm blessed with strong teeth.

No root canal for this chickie (not today) -- just preparation for a crown, which involved drilling off the old filling (fine by me, it was heavy metal).  Three shots of novocain and still I was jumping in the seat. 

"Uhh gock, rhy's i-hootig knee so nuck?"  [translated, "Uhh doc, why's it hurting me so much?"]

"I don't know, you're just sensitive I guess.  Ten more seconds."

"HUH?"

::drill::

"ACCHHH"

Ten seconds. My count.  I punched her.  I swear, it was a reflex.

A few moments later, she was building the crown area (or whatever they do to torture those of us with small mouths).

"Stop moving your tongue."

I didn't know I was moving my tongue.

"Open wider."

Um, I think you'll find my jaw somewhere in my lap.

"Stop pushing with your tongue.  Breathe through your nose."

Let's see, I'm gagging on my tongue.  Would you rather I breathe through my throat or throw up on you?  It's your call.

90 minutes in the chair.
15 minutes of actual work on my mouth.
100 bucks down.
900 to go.
4 weeks of soft foods.
That adds up to one gigantic headache.
And I think...yep...the novocain is finally kicking in.


Oh yeah.  I'll be changing dentists.

Invoking SloMo

It's unfortunate that SloMo wasn't able to join us for our visit last week.  She's a big part of my life and the lives of some of these women.

I had planned on invoking SloMo during a ritualistic ceremony involving frostbitten  Coca-Cola Cake.  I had just enough left in the freezer for each of the YakYaks to take a bite. 

But sadly, the cake was missing -- most likely dumped to make room for all the fresh-frozen food a mama's boy [and an army of mama's boys] could ever need.  I'm not really sad about it.  I'm angry.  But that's a story for another time, dammit.

Not all was lost.  The invocation was still to be had.

One thing I've learned from SloMo is how to take candid photos.  Point and shoot and don't be afraid.  What's to lose?  They're digital images.  Don't like em?  Delete em!

I'd say I'm getting pretty good at it too.  She always said it takes weeding through about a hundred shots to find that one good, clear one.  Well, I'm still looking for some of those but I lucked out in Paradise.

Andrea put her sunglasses on top of her head -- something I think we all do.  I didn't think anything of it till a few sips -- I mean, moments -- later when she checked herself out in the reflection of her spoon.  Then she caught me capturing her checking herself out.  And still, she didn't even notice I captured her catching me capturing her! 

Ask Adorable Andrea about the feet around her neck.  I think it's a pretty profound symbol.

Thanks SloMo.  You were missed but not forgotten.

Thursday, Feb 3 - Paradise

Only a graceful Lotus Martini such as Gigi could get away with dumping the contents of her margarita shaker into a martini glass without losing a drop of alcohol!  She's my hero.

Honestly, I ordered a margarita -- but only hers came in a martini glass.  She's famous ... even in paradise.

Saturday, Jan 29th

Saturday, Jan 29 - YakYak Headquarters

This picture of Andrea and Gigi is the only decent (really cute) image I captured from the secret meeting place the night Andi and Carol arrived.  All others show some precarious angles of the walls and ceilings.  And a few others of which I can't make heads or tails.  Must've been that kick-ass vodka Gigi brought! 

What's the name of that stuff again?  Y-U-M!

Note to self:  When drinking Gigi's vodka, leave all picture-taking to DiAnne and Robbie.

P.S. to self: Get Veto Power on all pictures taken by DiAnne and Robbie.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Later Saturday, Jan 29 - Casa Del Mar Hotel Lobby Bar

Carol, still flying high from Dramamine.  Cutie-pie!
I tried a few self-photos with us.  Thinking about it now, I don't know why!  There were five other cameras in the room!  As we can see, Gigi caught us snapping these photos. 

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

One-eyed Andi.  She joked about this picture being the "opposite" winking eye.  What a talent.  Seriously though -- adorable face right?  These are some of my favorite pictures of her.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

YakYak Sistah-hood

Dropping back in ... I don't know where to begin.  It's been a whirlwind of a week  -- from DiAnne's arrival last Thursday to Andrea and Carol's departure Friday afternoon.  I'm a zombie.  There's so much to take in.  So much to be thankful for.  So much to release.  So much to laugh about.  And even some to grieve.

This world of AOL-Journals continues to amaze and inspire me.  Even though I have been absent from much of the outer community for a few months, the close friendships I've come to know, continue to grow deeper and more lovely.

I had a home full of women -- women I'd only known through the written word at one time.  Strong women.  Beautiful women.  Intelligent women.  Opinionated women.

My life is forever changed.  For-e-ver. 

For the past month, in preparation for our in-person gathering, six of us have been emailing, getting to know each other on more levels than just the surface of the weather.  At one point our inboxes were so overloaded with personal daily babble that we joked about our connection being sweet like sisters -- schoolgirls sharing in giggles, who just couldn't shut up.  Thus became the YakYaks.

I love each of the YakYaks uniquely.  DiAnne, with her quick-wit and vibrant smile kept things rolling for us those first couple of days.  She's got a lot of energy.  I wonder if she was a cheerleader, ever.  She, Robbie, Cheryl and I went to dinner last Friday night (my god, was it really that long ago?).  I believe there's a group photo somewhere in her stash.  I was too involved with getting to know them to be bothered with the camera half the time.  Thankfully, DiAnne was on top of every possible photo op!  I can hardly wait to see her pictures.

The following day, DiAnne and I drove to San Diego to pick up Andrea and Carol from the airport. Their flight was long and Carol was still stoned from her Dramamine patch, but it was Andrea who didn't recognize her bag on the conveyer belt (nor did she recognize the identifying ribbon she tied on the handle).  The four of us had a couple of hours to get comfy with each other while driving back to LA in the PeaceMobile -- but not before a few cartwheels in the parking lot to break the ice.  [if memory serves, DiAnne has photos of that too.  Be afraid. Be very afraid.]

Robbie and Gigi joined us back at our secret, undisclosed location (referenced here, here and here.)  This is where the meeting and greeting continued and more eating began -- and it didn't stop till, well, I don't know about them but I'm munching on chips as I write.

So much!  There's just so much!  Drinks. Star sightings. Food. Robbie's convertible. Photos. Giggles. Talks. More food. More drinks. Laughs. Tears. Music. Love. Light. Fear. Again, more food, more food, more food.

At this moment, my heart is filled with a varying range of emotions, my head is spinning from all that I'm learning and my stomach is bloated (for obvious reasons).  I need at least a week to rest from this vacation.  [yet I wasn't on vacation and I didn't really go anywhere.]

I've made lifetime friends in Andrea and Carol, but they are now back in their Indiana homes -- too far away, if you ask me.  Writing and talking with each of them takes on a whole new meaning today. 

Most of you know Andrea from her journal Unhinged.  We had begun our friendship in the fall of 2003, based on similarities and connections through journals -- still, nothing could have prepared me for this adorable little (teeny-tiny) shy beauty.  I'm blown away.  Truly, she's more beautiful in person.  Intelligent and strong.  Wise and deep.  I have to cut myself off somehow because I gush when I think of how adorable she is.  When she smiles, she lights up a room.  She has so many quirky facial expressions -- all of them, adorable!

Carol needs a blog.  She's a great writer and her in-person personality is even more dynamic than the hysterical antics I've been receiving in her emails all these weeks.  Gentle, intuitive and wise beyond her years.  A young, beautiful mom of two boys (and two dogs), she has the softest hands I've ever held.  Andrea's are right up there in the soft zone too.  How do you girls do it?  And why didn't I ask for tips while you were here?  ::sigh::  I miss you.

Even though I have known Robbie (in real life, as they say) for a while now and Gigi and I had spent some time together before this convention, I was able to experience a deeper connection with each of them last week.  I know I can count on Robbie for her honest opinion.  Her reflection helps me gain perspective in many situations.  Gigi and I were the late-night gigglers during the sleepover Saturday night.  What was it, 3am when we decided to crash?  I could've stayed up past dawn talking with her.

She and I were later blessed with the opportunity to spend an evening in Paradise with Andrea and Carol the night before they left.  We continued our connection there.  [more drinks. more food. more fun.]

Saying goodbye to the Indiana girls was bittersweet.  We sipped on lattes, reminiscing about the week's events.  As the security line at the airport began to swing around a corner, we decided it was time they get in tow.  Still, the line moved way too fast for my liking.  I wasn't ready to let go.  But it was time.

Strange how it seems there wasn't enough time to experience all we wanted to (Venice Beach, Hollywood).  Yet, we experienced more than we ever could've imagined.  There were beautiful moments where it felt like time stood still and we were connecting on that unspoken level where no words are necessary.  Just breath and love.  Very few things in life compare.  Like chocolate.  Or a sneeze.