Friday, December 29, 2006

Nordstrom's Dressing Room Trauma

I was at Nordstorm's last night wandering nervously around the Women's Undergarments section. I'm going to a BLACK TIE dinner on New Year's Eve and I bought a killer black velvet gown, and...well, let's just say Miss Turtle was in need of some new undergarments for her dress.

I wandered around looking at lacy frilly things. I picked out one or two items to try on in the dressing room. I get into the dressing room, disrobe, and stare in complete horror at my reflection in the mirror.

Am I really that fat? Am I really that ugly? Do I look that bad wearing light turquoise? Do I look that bad wearing black? Do I look that bad even existing?

Even my long, dark hair which flows halfway down my back and which I know is beautiful, looked horrible in that dressing room. Even my bright smile looked dim and gnarly.

I tried on several items trying to focus on finding what I needed, bought my stuff, and ran out of there. Looking at myself in the mirror this morning, I concluded that the lighting in the women's dressing room at Nordstrom's in the San Francisco Centre is calculated to make you want to slit your wrists.

I spent the rest of the evening lamenting the fact that I, who used to be unique and pretty, had suddenly turned into disgusting troll. Who would love me? Who would even look at me? Will the people who are my friends and family still want to talk to me? Am I Medusa?

I got over it by settling in with the wonderful jacuzzi style footbath my brother got me for Christmas, sipping a cup of hot tea, and counting my blessings:
  • Sure, my arms and legs are ugly as sin, but at least I have them.
  • My eyes might look beady in those awful dressing room lights, but at least I'm not blind.
  • I'm a smart girl. Really.
  • I have a good job, good friends, and a family that loves me.
  • I'm going to a BLACK TIE dinner for New Year's and I'm going even if I have to put a bag over my head.
  • My dog loves me. So do the penguins.
  • My feet are small, my hands are capable and I have great cleavage (when I feel like showing it).
  • I do have beautiful long, dark hair. At least in the sunlight I do.
  • I have very few wrinkles, although I have big "smile" lines.
Time to stop. Time to get off this stupid tangent and start packing for my awesome New Year's weekend. There's wine to taste, spa treatments to indulge in and cleavage to flaunt.

Happy New Year's everybody and don't let the dressing room lighting get you down.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Miss Turtle's Mostly Christmas Haiku 2006

The Ex-Mas Bells Ring
Trees blurt out their Pine-Sol scent
Cold fingers my toes

Brother's gift is late
Forgot to wrap the others
Remember gift cards!

Head cold, sleepy, snarf
Move slowly, my parents wait
Must get going now

Although I complain
I still like the trees and lights
Electric snowflakes

So Merry Christmas
And a Happy Holiday
Wishing you love, peace

A Note - Folks, progress has been made. A year ago I would not even DREAM that I would have enough courage to write a Mostly Christmas Haiku. A year ago I was so afraid of verses and syllables that I would have done anything to get away from them. Haiku? Just say the word to me and I'd look away, eyes downcast, face blushed, unable to even try it. I credit this change to the Choka and the good people who run and contribute to it.

When the Choka first started, I was even afraid to go on there and look around. When I finally did all I could do was read it and marvel at everyone's cleverness. Now, I contribute regularly, have been famed and shamed, and was even included in awgeez' "Sam I Am" Shame Alley write up from Week 38.

Choka on everyone. And if you haven't checked it out, please do so. The more, the merrier.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

It's My Birthday...

Today I am 41. The thing that has been running though my head all day is Smeagol saying to Deagol, "It's my birthday and I wants it!" I have no "one ring" to sustain me through 76 years of searching. No literary masterpiece to couch my exploits in, no Led Zepplin song inspired by me.

It's just me and my dog. Me and my good friends. Me and my family. Me and the killer chocolate cake my secretary made for me. It's not a bad life. It could be a whole lot worse. I could be filing for bankruptcy like someone I know.

There are good things happening, no doubt about that.

No doubts at all.


In the back hallways of my mind, a barely audible voice is singing:
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday, Miss Turtle
Happy Birthday to you.

I'm sitting here slumped in front of my computer screen/32 inch widescreen TV. I'm gearing myself up to go out into the cold night so my dog can "do her business."

Universal heartache abounds.

Happy birthday to me.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Conversation, Clean Sheets and a Book Cover

Three Beautiful Things for today:
  1. I have a difficult time meeting people in my day to day life and can even be shy around people I know in structured situations like a party so I decided I would "practice" by talking to people I don't know as a way of getting used to making the first contact. Today I talked to a guy named Bruce while we were waiting to be called for a massage at Nordstrom Spa. I asked him how his day was, he said he was here on business and tweaked his back while playing golf. I said I was recovering from last night's firm party and needed "balancing." A short but fun conversation.
  2. I have to say one of my favorite feelings on this EARTH is climbing into bed right after I've put on clean sheets. I wriggle my feet around, I sigh and roll a bit. I squeeze the covers with my fingers, relishing that wonderful feeling. Ahhhhh!
  3. Last, but not least: one of my best friends had to do a book cover for an assignment and she did one for the novel I just drafted "A Lament for KP." Although the novel title will likely change and I won't start revising it until the New Year, this book cover is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. Makes me cry as I close this post. 'sniff' A lovely photo will follow in the next couple of days.
May all of you have three beautiful things to list today.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Beautiful Day Along The Embarcadero

A friend of mind showed me pictures of a mother and child sculpture she took at Burning Man two years ago. I'm almost certain this is the same sculpture but without the the fire coming out the hands and the fire-laden footprints behind them. That's the Bay Bridge in the background

I'm surprised at how well this shot of the Bay Bridge came out. I didn't even realize the red boat was in the picture until I viewed it later.

Speaking of Red, this small diner-style "Java House" is an iconic fixture. They serve a great breakfast.

I must have taken these pictures over a month ago just before I started writing my novel. The weather lately has been cold, rainy, and foggy. Very different from the glorious blue skies in these photos.

Random Jangle

Today I marched through screens and tags and duplications. I've been on that march for weeks now, but all I get is .tiff files stuck to the bottom of my heels for my trouble.

I'm still waiting for the new lamp that's supposed to liven up my already live office. Smaller, yes, but it's got damn good feng shui (although it's missing the goldfish bowl). No matter, fish swim in my waters on a regular basis, the natural light from the skyscrapers outside my window encouraging them to no end.

The eternal army is unhappy with their new quarters. They keep sending me irritated dispatches. "No one can see us from this angle," they whine, "No one oohs and aahhs anymore."

To which I respond, "I guess my oohhing and aahhing ain't enough for you guys, eh?" They're just jealous of the native americans, coal miners and beekeepers across the way. And they still haven't figure out which aerial shot is London. I made it easy for them, made sure the London Eye was almost dead center in the picture, but they're still guessing.

Mother octopus guards her brood. Her eyes are closed, must conserve energy. An octopus has that Zen monk air until they surprise the crowd by unscrewing the jar lid and pulling out the prize fish of the day. Spectators gape in shock. They learned something new today.

Head and neck. Nose made of cartilage. The person turns this way and that, but is tired of the exposure. They want a rest, keep asking me to turn to the part about the structure of the sun or how a microprocessor works. Energy lurks within these realms.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Time, Structure and Balance

Lately, I've been focusing on the big TSB. This is probably in response to November's novel writing accomplishment and my own self-marauding feelings. Having been acutely aware of both ends of the spectrum of my deepest self, I can see how both sides contradict, feed and can even co-exist together. Here's what I mean:

While writing the novel, I learned that I was able to take the zillions of ideas and swirling thoughts inside my own head and condense/collapse them into a story. Even more amazing, I was able to do that in a specific, demanding time frame. This is huge for me (and probably for others who participated). The number of stories/scenes/scenarios rolling around inside my head are probably countless, but I've learned they are useless up there in my skull. The real trick is to get it down on paper/computer where you can actually do something with it if you choose.

And I was able to do all of this noveling while standing on the plateau of my own despair getting the crap kicked of myself by my own persistent brokenhearted feelings. Sure, it was time to move on, and has been for quite some time, but that didn't stop me from continually torturing myself in this way.

I learned that even in my darkest, most self-indulgent times I could move forward in other ways even if I was still on that plateau. And, because everything else is moving forward, I have no choice but to follow by climbing down from that plateau to cheerier possibilities. The key for me is Time, Structure and Balance.
  • Time - I've started scheduling my activities into specific time slots. This came directly out of learning to figure out when I was going to work on my novel in such a way as to meet that 11/30/06 deadline. While this seems confining, especially since I like some degree of spontaneity, I find it liberating because it allows me to focus on what I'm doing in the moment. One of my problems is I don't have a good sense for how long it takes me to do things in my personal life. I tend to over-schedule or not schedule at all. Scheduling in this manner really helps me.
  • Structure - I started setting goals and mapping out the steps to accomplish them (also the result of writing a novel in a month). I've done this many times in the past, but never made it past the planning stages. Slipping goal-related tasks into time slots along with everything else seems like a natural next step.
  • Balance - I need Balance like a fish (or turtle) needs water. I'm learning that internal vs. external, active vs. passive, open vs. closed, etc. is crucial to my feelings of contentment. If I start spending too much time doing something/not doing something then it's time to focus on the other side of things.
If I were feeling childish (and believe me, I often do), I could complain that this past year and a month have been a complete waste of time for me because I'm not in the relationship I really wanted to be in, but I know this has not been a waste of time at all. In fact this past year and a month will likely be the biggest turning point in my adult life. The lessons learned, things accomplished, and people I've met have all been priceless. Preparation for the unknown waters, wide horizons, and endless possibilities up ahead have finally been completed.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Song That Keeps Following Me Around

"Miss Turtle."

"Miss Turtle."

I can hear Mr. Gryphon talking to me, but I can't respond to him. I'm standing in the concrete BART station at Glen Park. It's Friday night and I'm leaning up against a pillar. Trains going to the airport keep pulling up and departing, causing the wind from the tunnel to whoosh around me. Trains going back downtown are not coming any time soon and that's where I need to go. I missed my station because I so upset. I'm sending an email message. Another futile one. Tears stream down my face. People are walking by. I know they are glancing uneasily at me. I'm not sobbing, but my tears are unmistakable. I refuse to look up at them.

I turn away from Mr. Gryphon so I can focus on finishing my email message. I finally do and another train to SFO pulls up. I briefly think of that line from Casablanca. Something about "a man with a comical look on his face standing on the train platform looking like his teeth has been kicked in." Too bad I'm not wearing a putty colored trenchcoat and black fedora. Both look good on me.

The side of the train platform going towards downtown fills up. More people steal glances at me. I focus on the far wall. A dirty stone wall with sharp, mottled tiles. I glance up at the ceiling. The concrete beams seem to be decorated with worn out striped fabric. Very odd, early 70s.

I continually wipe my eyes. The tears have settled on my fingertips like drew drops clinging to a half-closed rose petal. Salt from my tears is starting to dry on my face. Perhaps if I cry enough, the salt will eventually form crystals on my lashes. I hear Mr. Gryphon behind me, but still ignore him.

"Miss Turtle." Mr. Gryphon comes around the other side of the pillar. I don't talk, just cry some more. He hands me one of his handkerchiefs. I really need one. The skin on my face feels tight. I once read that tears release some kind of toxin in your system. I'm not sure what good a toxin would be on my skin, but it doesn't matter I guess.

I'm finally able to talk a little, "Why am I so stupid? Why do I do these things?"

"I can't answer that. I can tell you the decor in this place is really bad. Are we going to wander the airport like accusing ghosts or go back downtown?" he asks. He is looking down at me, arms folded. People move around him, having conversations about co-workers and television shows.

"We're definitely going back downtown." I wipe my eyes some more. They keep streaming like I'd been hit with the white billowing clouds of tear gas.

He nods and leans on the pillar with me. I hear a song starting. One with the following lyrics:

"Does life seem nasty, brutish and short
Come on up to the house
The seas are stormy
And you can't find no port
Come on up to the house

There's nothin in the world
that you can do
You gotta come on up to the house
And you been whipped by the forces
that are inside you
Come on up to the house

Well you're high on top
of your mountain of woe
Come on up to the house
Well you know you should surrender
but you can't let go
You gotta come on up to the house"
(Tom Waits, Come On Up to the House, Mule Variations (1999)

"Are you playing that, Mr. Gryphon?"

"No. I noticed it keeps following you around, though," he says. I smile a little. He's smart enough not to say the next thing and I'm grateful for it.

"I don't know where the damn house is so how can I surrender and go on up there?" I look up at the black BART sign with flashing red letters. It tells me that the train going downtown will show up in 4 minutes.

"You're asking me where it is?" he fluffs his feathers much like how the penguins do when they want to relax.

"No, I'm not. Perhaps we should hang out at the Casino tonight."

"Not a good idea. There's a brawl that's been going on there for the last two weeks."

"I guess we should go home then, Mr. Gryphon," I sigh. I really don't know what else to do. "Why does this shit take so much time? Why do I have to learn to be patient with my bombed out feelings? Why can't I just turn them off?"

"The price you pay for that kind of behavior can be problematic," says Mr. Gryphon. I look up at him. "It's not in your nature to turn off your feelings. You are not a faucet and wishing you were one is a waste of time. Wishing you were anything other than what you are or wishing you'd done something differently is also a waste of time."

"I hate this whole thing, Mr. Gryphon."

"I know you do,"he says. His tone reminds me of someone and I wince.

The train is coming now and everyone moves towards the platform. Before we join the boarding crowd, I turn and look at him again, "I know what to do now, Mr. Gryphon. I really do."

"Then do it," he says. He has to bend down and pull his wings in tightly to get on the train. We manage to find two seats together. We do not speak again for the rest of the night. I am too busy trying to figure out the how of what needs to happen next.

Friday, December 01, 2006

O-ZO-MATLI! Ya Se Fue! Ya Se Fue!

Ozomatli, The Fillmore, SF (11/30/06)

Ozo playing in the middle of the audience. We were all sitting on our knees around them.

Ozo playing on the very narrow stairs in the lobby of The Fillmore.

Years ago when Ozo came out with their first self-titled CD, I stumbled on it in the Hear store at Stanford Mall in Palo Alto, CA. I was working in Palo Alto at the time and had started going to the Hear store after work to listen to CDs. It was the only store I had been in at the time where you could wander from display to display listening to whatever CD was on the headphones. Curious about the CD display card's "kitchen sink" description, I gave Ozo a listen.


Things haven't been quite the same for me since. I had never heard such a band before. 10 guys from East LA who play a combination of hip-hop, salsa, and funk, all with a Latin music undercurrent. I bought the CD and listened to it over and over. When Ozo came out with Embrace the Chaos, I bought that too.

I only have the first two CDs, but I'm going to remedy that situation tomorrow evening after I hang out with the penguins. One thing I love about this band is the sound is very nostalgic for me. Since I'm half Mexican, that Latin undercurrent/Mariachi sound reminds me dearly of my grandfather, who used to play the guitar for me, and of my childhood.

I had never seen Ozo live until last night although I figured they must play a monster live show. I was right. Late last month when I was feeling like the broken hearted loser completely incapable of ever finding someone who will actually care about me (okay, so I'll admit it's over a month later and I still feel that way much of time, but I'm getting over it - very slowly), I decided that I needed to have some kind of fun so I bought my single Ozo ticket.

Yes, I went to a concert alone for the first time. I was too upset to go through the sometimes humiliating process of trying to find someone to go with me. I don't know anyone who's even heard of Ozo except one person and he doesn't want to have anything to do with me.

Last night I had my doubts. I've been to The Fillmore before to see the Stay Cats (what a fucking monster show that was!), but that was a long time ago and I was worried about it. I also thought that going to a concert alone would be like going on a roller coaster alone: somewhat fun, but a curiously empty experience when you don't have someone else there to scream with.

I went anyway. Thank God.

I've seen a few shows in my life and THAT WAS THE BEST FUCKING SHOW I'VE EVER SEEN! They were unbelievable! I danced for so long and so hard that I must have lost five pounds from slamming my ass around and sweating buckets. My neck, hips and back were so stiff when I left The Fillmore and walked out elated into the cold San Francisco night that I had to take a muscle relaxer when I went to bed. I lost my voice because I sang to all the songs I knew, all the songs in Spanish (even though I don't speak Spanish and most certainly had them wrong) and even sang to the songs I'd never heard before. I lost my voice because I screamed my head off.

Carlos Santana was in house but he didn't play. They were very proud of that and kept mentioning it. Chali 2na was in the house (he was on the first album) and they played one of my all time favorite Ozo songs the Cut Chemist Suite. We were in the house and the walls were burning and sweating.

Did I miss having someone there with me? Not really. It would have been nice, but it didn't detract from what will probably rank as one of the top three shows I've ever seen in my life when I look back as I'm laying on my deathbed.

Ozo is playing tonight and tomorrow too. I thought about going again, but I'm still really muscle sore. We'll see. I may decide to chuck everything and go see them tomorrow too.

I have learned the hard way that it does help, no matter how deep your grief is or how much you just want to curl up into a ball and die, to fill your life with glorious experiences like seeing the best concert of your life or writing a novel in a month. It doesn't make the pain go away, but it does prove that you can make your life better and you do have the power to make great things happen even when all seems lost.