drinking, family, magic

What’s in a name?

I like idea of the power in a name. Special words ascribed to objects and people of significance. A name that’s handed down, borrowed, or given as an homage or blessing—a name that becomes familiar or famous. A name that implies layers of meaning and strata. A name that opens doors and breaks barriers. A name that when called or written, works like an incantation on the forces of the universe. Rockstars. Magicians. Dignitaries. Gangsters. Kings and Queens. Spiritual Leaders. Deities.

No offense to the multitude of Bob Smith(s) out there, (Robert Smith of The Cure, notwithstanding) but wouldn’t you rather be named something like, say, Robert Gerald Mondavi? His is one example of a name with power and his legacy was in the game of naming things—specifically, wine.

Mondavi “aggressively promoted labeling wines varietally rather than generically.” He believed we should know the true nature of something. Instead of us saying, “Oh, I like Franzia, Gallo, Paul Masson, or Carlo Rossi, (cheap, brand name jug wines from California) or “I like ‘Burgundy’ or ‘Chablis,’ (terms that were meant to conjure the French regions and corresponding varietals they were supposed to taste like), Mondavi wanted us to challenge the assumed knowledge of regionally grown varietals and clearly identify the grape right there on the label. This is now the standard for the way we label New World wines.

In a pinnacle move to merge the Old World and the New into one grand opus, Mondavi went to the Big Island of Hawaii and met with Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Château Mouton Rothschild to found the joint venture, Opus One. Their intention and idea was one they kicked around since the early 1970s—to create a single Bordeaux style blend based upon Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The Baron’s name gave the Napa wine region a respectable air, and it quickly became the most expensive Californian wine during its time.

But the stars didn’t always align . . .

When Robert Mondavi Winery went from a private family named estate into a publicly traded corporation (a move that Mondavi stated regret over), The Robert Mondavi Corporation ballooned into a behemoth that owned several wineries at home in North America and partnered with prestigious wineries abroad. A succession of unfortunate events came on the heels of the Y2K panic—the economy tanked, 9/11 happened a year later in 2001, and wine sales were way down. In a hostile takeover bid of more than $1 billion, Mondavi scrapped the whole sordid plan and sold off his luxury brands to Constellation Brands, the hydra beast of beer, wine and spirits who gnashed at and absorbed his legacy.

Mondavi left his own board as ambassador and partnered back in with the family. With his youngest son Tim  and daughter Marcia, they created a single wine from a single estate at the highest level. The family partnership Continuum Estate is still run by Robert’s son, daughter, and grandchildren Carissa, Chiara, Carlo, and Dante Mondavi (how about THOSE names?!). Thus in the continuum of things, he tried to get back to to the original idea of good food, good wine, and good family to share it with. His name was on the label of many philanthropic ventures—he donated millions to his alma mater to create an institute dedicated to the food and wine sciences as well as the performing arts. In the end, he was back to where he started and among those closest to him who shared his name and his passions. He died peacefully at home at the age of 94.

Having a background of wine knowledge myself and having drunk (and been drunk) on a wide array of wine, I know that even a name doesn’t guarantee standards, flavor profile, consistency, anything really. Terroir is just as crucial in plant genetics as it is in humans. We are built, or damaged by our biology (geology), geography, and the climate of the place and people we interact with. The way we express ourselves and the way we grow is dependent on all of that plus the weather. We are also subject to those pesky, but necessary insects and undesirable diseases. Although some diseases, as in the case of Botrytis infection known as “noble rot” in full-ripened grapes make for a kinder boon. The wine made from grapes picked at a perfect point during the moldy infestation can produce a fine and concentrated sweet wine said to have an aroma of honeysuckle and a bitter finish on the palate. We as humans, can choose to be either sweet or bitter from our miseries.

But isn’t it nice to think, we can remake and reinvent ourselves or even return to ourselves? Or just reNAME ourselves, like most young people who flirt with the idea of running away or changing their name—we want to have our names roll of the tongue, thick as honey, golden and royal. Penetrable as common knowledge. As rich and well-established as old vines grapes. We start out and continue searching for our own power and control over our lives and destinies. We break and change and reconfigure. We try to escape who we are, where we come from. Sometimes to come back and sometime to never look back. Women take a name, add a name, hyphenate a name, or leave name behind when they join forces in love and marriage or business. We set out “make a name for ourselves” like it’s a rise to fame, or a numbers game, and perhaps, we discover our true nature along the way come to peace with a name that suits us well.

Now, getting briefly back to wine . . . of course, you must be a certain percentage of a varietal (with an allowance for some mixing) to be considered “authentic,” and claim your name, so I got to thinking about what kind of math goes into being 100% Andrea Janda and the numbers in my name.

So—here’s a fun little witchy exercise in frequency and numerology on the power of my name from nameanalyzer.net

A (4x) • N (2x) • D (2x) • R (1x) • E (1x) • J (1x)

Influence of the letters in Andrea Janda name:

Numbers and Tarot cards are behind each letter of Andrea Janda name. A brief description, explanation of the meaning of each letter:

Letter Number Tarot card Intensity Short description of meaning
A 1 Magician Creative, Inventive, Intuitive
D 4 Emperor Determined, Persistant, Idealist
E 5 Hierophant Wise, Crafty, Daring, Inventive
J 10 Wheel of Fortune Optimist, Opportunist, Enterpreneur
N 14 Temperance Healer, Wise, Survivor, Crafty
R 18 Moon Patient, Determined, Strong
HEARTS DESIRE NUMBER Andrea: 1+5+1=7. Reduced: 7 .
Janda: 1+1=2. Reduced: 2 .Hearts desire number for Andrea Janda name (calculated from vowels) is Nine.The hearts desire number represents your innermost desires and longings. This number closes the gap between how you feel people see you and the way they see you. It also relates to the subjective, inner aspects of your life, and improve relationships.
Life Expression number (DESTINY NUMBER) Andrea: 1+5+4+9+5+1=25. Reduced: 7.
Janda: 1+1+5+4+1=12. Reduced: 3.Destiny number for Andrea Janda name (calculated from all characters) is One. Also known as Name Number. It relates to your vibration in this world; how you express yourself in the many outer experiences of your life, birth given talents to be developed, and tasks you must achieve in this life.


death, drinking, music, photography

Cry To Me

hey look! i'm a picasso!
hey look! i’m a picasso!

“Nothing could be sadder, than a glass of wine, all alone.” — Solomon Burke, Cry To Me

Beg to differ honey, but i’ll miss your music…

Solomon Burke, Cry To Me

books, drinking, film, food, friends, love, marriage, music, pets, relationships, travel, weather

the good, the bad & the tasty

:::   :::   :::   :::   :::   :::   :::   :::

“There are things you do
because they feel right
& they may make no sense
& they may make no money
& it may be the real reason we are here:
to love each other
& to eat each other’s cooking
& say it was good.”

:::   :::   :::   :::   :::   :::   :::   :::

“I’ve been a bad yogi this week,” I mused sadly to Joe. Even talking about yoga to Lia in lieu of actually doing it got my muscles to tingle and miss it.

“Yeah, but sometimes forging new friendships takes the same kind of commitment,” he said to me.

I am consoled to think that at least I’ve been a good friend. or have been having a good time. I can also tell it’s been a full, week of good people, food and silliness when the fridge is full of tasty leftovers, there’s a bouquet of lilies on my living room table, there are a lot of dishes to do, there’s silver spray paint and glass beads in strange places, the laundry turns up stickers, candy wrappers and tiny plastic babies, I am pleasantly tired and I am editing photos of it all.

Sufjan Steven’s “The Henney Buggy Band” lyrics and melody occur to me in snippets.

Oh life, with your colorful surprises
Eleanor, how you put one on disguises

Far in the morning light
We let the movies play
A weekend from the holiday

. . . Forget about yourself and all your plans

This past Saturday a group of friends all dressed up as Villains attended the Alter Egos Power Struggle. It was pretty much a Heroes & Villains pub crawl all brought to you by Alter Egos Society and Drunken Rampage. And Benja said it best with:

“the event included games and prizes along a route through several downtown Portland bars. The games included initiation games (such as “save the kittens” for heroes and “steal candy from the babies” for villains), “You’ve Met Your Match” finding an Arch Nemesis speed dating style), and a dance-off between good and evil. A number of local businesses (bars and comic shops, etc.) and organizations (Stumptown Comics Foundation, etc.) supported the event as part of official Portland Comics Month.”

But for me to tell you about the evening from the streetside and onlooker POV – well, is to tell the story of running through the city, engaging in an en masse, public, costumed rubber band fight, taking over bars of every variety including strip and gay (Portland famous), community pole-dancing, swinging from the ceiling (on a literal swing suspended by chains) climbing elephant statues in the park, catching free prizes in the air like porn, latex whips, silver-studded leather chastity belts, oh – and comic books too. Sure. To give you ALL the details would read a bit Gonzo-esque so . . . “No. We can’t stop here. This is bat country.”

But there are some photos where my friends are harpies, mad scientists, robots, caped, cylcloptic evil overlords with interchangeable blue & red laser monocles with minions to match, judges dressed in cinched robes & a wrestling unitard, and futuristic underwater murderers of dolphins (it’s quite a backstory). A bit of “so long and thanks for tall the fish.” Dolphins are super smart and take over the world. See: Douglas Adams.

Heroes & Villains 007 of 93
clearly, anyone dressed like this, is a villain and up to no good . . .

Here’s the rest of my photos anyway . . .

The next morning, Easter Sunday we threw a Pagan Potluck to celebrate Eostre, the goddess of spring fecundity, love and carnal pleasure. How appropriate. There was so much wonderful food! A big spiral-sliced ham I cooked with an orange-maple glaze and served with a side of “last nite’s costumed bar crawl hangover,” with a friendly diner smile. Quiche, potato salad, fruit salad of blood oranges and tangerines, quinoa, spinach salad with goat cheese, potato salad, deviled eggs, chocolate angel food cake, cherry cobbler, coconut balls and more mimosas and white wine than humanly necessary were consumed. Eventually it devolved into a game of Scattergories and Celebrity. Somehow, my dumb ass did NOT take pictures. I was off duty that nite, I suppose.

Last nite we gathered for a loose dinner party at Jeremy’s apartment themed “food on a stick.” The colorful spread ended up consisting of cheese & chocolate fondue with dippers of olive bread, meat, angel food cake, strawberries, apples, pears, sushi and skewered teriyaki chicken and beef, wine (hey, stemmed glasses are on sticks!) the comedic Pabst Blue Ribbon that Cooper brought up from the depths of the ice cooler, carried in on a large branch and hoisted into the room like catch of the day, and Benja’s contribution of candy with Chick-O-Stix. Surprisingly, no popsicles, perhaps a rather obvious choice. This in no way detracted from the rainbow of bountiful foodie goodness we enjoyed. (Once again, no photographic evidence!) Later, we all lay on collective couches in a food coma watching Val Kilmer in Real Genius. A good old fashioned 80’s “nerd saves the world” movie.

Tonite while drinking cold beer on our warm sunny patio talking to Lia & Cooper who were getting ready to depart for their stay at home happy couple date nite of dinner and cuddling, I was cheered as I received, fielded and answered text messages:

Tiffany: “If I get enough work done today i was thinking of going to the tulip festival tomorrow – interested? It’s going to be a beautiful day.”

Chelsea: “Thought I’d take advantage of the sun with a book and my dog. Ran into friends on the Beach. Dungeoness crab for dinner. Call ya when I’m headed back.”

Claire: “We went to the farmers market and now we are relaxing at a park in the SE. If you were at Stumptown I’d join you. Nap in park instead! We are going out for Pho if you are interested.”

And later from Lia: “We love you guys. Seriously. Like love love. U fixed my music collection! i owe you my life.”

Jeremy asked: “What time tomorrow?” in reference to the brunch we’re having on the deck at my house since the weather promises sunny and 74 degrees. i instructed, “Let’s call it a casual noon. Brunch in single digit #’s is called breakfast & is lame.” Claire is coming over to cook some spicy eggs, i’m gonna to fry up some bacon and make a stack of fluffy pancakes. hmm, i have no champagne for mimosas . . .

i smiled to myself a lot for a lot of little reasons today. Odin was hiding in the freshly washed bed sheets in an effort to stalk me. i realized that if i want to fall madly into bed with Joe tonite, the bed must be made, cat or no. There was a time when we got so distracted and caught up in each other, too busy making love that we could rarely be bothered to comb our hair or pack properly for a trip to the woods. The apple butter in the fridge reminded me of the camping trip where, because we were too busy “packing” we had forgotten a knife to cut and spread food, so we simply tore off hunks of bread and dipped it in pumpkin butter (no more apple butter to be had at the roadside stands that late in the afternoon.) How that nite, Joe and i flipped the script on the traditional camping roles: i built a fire and secured the goods from bears and he, my would-be-husband cooked a fabulous dinner of beans and onions and summer sausage. I thought of our long looks in the fire light, and the sound of a large skunk trundling through the brush into our campsite  making my eyes go from lovestruck at half-mast to wide and panicked. “Animal. Biggish.” i whispered in a fearful assessment. And he laughed.

i washed the tablecloths from the Easter Pagan Potluck we threw last week and tossed in a few old throws. One of them, a bright blue with red stripes i didn’t recognize until turned the tag to read it:

British Airways.
Airline use only. Please do not remove from aircraft.

And i smiled, thinking of Joe taking me to Rome after we got engaged.

“Hey, did i ask you to steal this blanket from the plane ride?” i prodded.
“Well, one of us stole it. It’s unclear who, “Joe smiled.

it’s in my lap right now as i type this in the office.

i am about to take some fruit down to thaw for brunch: a bag full of frozen mango & berries – something called “Mangolicious” from Trader Joe’s that i put with some Vanana (vanilla & banana flavoured yogurt) and some local Hanna’s honey in a cup. i am thinking fondly of myself & two dear friends in our pajamas eating apple pie for breakfast. In bed. Laughing. i am thinking of not waking up earlier than 11 am tomorrow. i am thinking the red & yellow tulips in bloom in my garden should suffice if i don’t make it out to the Wooden Shoe Tulip festival.

Oh, life with your colorful surprises.

drinking, food, friends, health, love, music, philosophy, relationships, work & employment, writing

March On


February is and in my case WAS such a short, sometimes brutal month. Then you have March, which does the ins and outs of wild predator to tame sweater maker. But in the short month of February i packed in a lot of healing, writing & music readying myself for the tempest of March.

Qi To The Kingdom . . . Or, i Am A Tiny Pin Cushion

i began seeing an acupuncturist to well, to unfuck my qi. Being a stickler for detail, i’ve kept a calendar since my surgery detailing and tracking my symptoms, moods, foods, internal movements, etc. i’ve been drawing a gradation of faces from frowny to flat to a simple upturned bow to smilies with big dotted eyes and a row of piano key teeth. i doodle and color my calendar with markers, moods, faces, any sign of discomfort and yes, even when i poo to be consistent with patterns. i do this NOT to become the obsessive spaz, holding onto illness like a war medal, but to determine severity & frequency to see if i am improving or moving towards healing. And if not – to do something very proactive about it.

My acupuncturist is a very kind man who went over my extremely detailed laundry list of complaints and undesirable changes in my body. We talked for over an hour before he even put a needle in me. Hardly any practitioner of any healing art, takes the time and energy to do this; there simply is no time to listen or touch or get all the detailed information that forges the craft of a good diagnostician. This is especially true in Western Medicine. Which is why i chose the modern miracle of Western Medicine for surgery and the centuries old Eastern Philosophies for healing.

“Wow, this is great,” he said, scanning my list of dates and list of maladies, “No one does this. It’s really organized.Very helpful.”

He went over the whole page with me.

Once we figured on a plan of how acupuncture and Chinese medicine could help me, i felt a sense of calm purpose, and he began tapping hair-thin needles into my legs, wrists, shoulders, neck, ears, all along my abdomen near the floating ribs and liver, a few near my stomach, even some threaded underneath the scar tissue on my stomach to soften and flatten.

Then he took what looked like a big black crayon, a half-smoked cigar, or a pointed smudge stick. It was moxa, heated Mugwort which he applied near the needle tips to send heat into the acupuncture points. It felt pretty wonderful actually. My stiff, knotted trapezius muscles softened, nausea vanished, headache faded and my stomach and bowels were still and calm. This last visit, i told him i had a creaky knee, he touched around, squeezed lightly and asked if i had been using my quads to do some lifting and bending the day before. It was true as i recalled all those half squats in yoga and he stuck one in for that. i also expressed difficulty falling asleep, and damn it i LOVE me some sleep, so he tapped a little silver needle right into the top of my head to clear the airwaves. Then he put a crinkled mylar blanket over me: light as air, silver as Mercury and i lay there, a little Fembot, conserving heat and energy under my quasi-futuristic Austin Powers blankie.

i feel like things are definitely improving inside. Much calmer and less symptomatic. yoga’s been great, food is becoming my friend again, acupuncture seems to be helping and i’m taking a Chinese herb called Shu Gan Wan (liver soothe) to stop my liver from being so pissed about my gallbladder being gone. They are miniature versions of Whoppers chocolate malted milk balls, but they taste like curry. The most interesting visual diagnoses delivered upon me: liver invading spleen and liver invading stomach. Not a bad way to think about it really. The way the Chinese see it accurately describes the miniature battle that’s been raging in my guts since surgery. In the 2 days following treatment, i’ve sometimes felt an internal struggle for domination, like there are knots being untied, like i’ve been damp and bit drowned inside and then i come out the other end and it’s all Snow White & bluebirds. i have more energy, i get ravenous and my outlook improves.


i’ve added a Calcium, Magnesium & Vitamin D supplement combo (what a horse pill), A Vitamin B complex & Spirulina. Rather than those amber bottles clogging up the cabinet, i now rattle vitamin supplements onto a little red dish in and effort to boost my immune system and well-being. i would say i’m at about 75%. i guess i’m just looking for time and worry to pass and toss me the other quarter.

Usual Suspects – Netflix – Matrix – Conflicts

i’m still unemployed, but trying to occupy myself. If i didn’t have yoga or the occasional social outing with Joe and his work mates, plus Tiffany & Chelsea, i’d be a house mouse for sure. Of course, this may change when Spring comes into full bloom and i expect it to. i can see happy little yellow & purple crocus poking through in the backyard, so there’s a spot of sunshine yet . . .

i fire off about 4 resumes every other day. Then i hear stories about how an ad for a front desk position at a local yoga studio garnered, not 6, not 60, but SIX HUNDRED applicants and i get to thinking, unless my email arrives blinking or on fire, there’s no way i’m getting noticed. i applied for a local position at a Chiropractic office, found my best business casual with a little Portland funk and showed up in person to the office where i found myself on day one of two amidst a light cattle call. 5 women were already standing in a room like Star Search & American Idol contestants, beauty pageant finalists, the weakest link, a lineup.

And it was the usual suspects. The over-bleached & frosted tan woman with alligator handbag face (too may hours poolside) drinking Coors Light, guilty of wearing fluorescent cotton jumpers, coral lipstick and hair scrunchies, probably just relocated from the Carolinas or Florida. The dumpy girl in business casual, pock-marked, unremarkable, practically invisible, hunched back from self-deprecation, flinching & shying from imaginary social punches, shifty, downcast eyes and shuffling feet looking for a nice quiet office to answer phones in, listen to soft music, eat bologna and American cheese sandwiches in and hide. The Sweetie-pie mouse girl, flat brown hair, doe-eyed, squared off chiclet-smile, high-pitch, pedamorphic voice both docile and simmering. The other two women were variations on a theme. Background noise. i was just waiting for the talent portion so i could showcase my baton twirling.

The rotund, possibly former high school football coach now Chiropractor with soft, spiky, salt-and-pepper would-be-Mike-Ditka hair shuffled through our resumes like quiz sheets. Doctor Ditka then asked each of us if we had undergone any chiropractic work and for what ailment. Turns out i was the only candidate who hadn’t been cracked and i couldn’t tell if this fact was a help or hindrance to my cause. No previous body work and one couldn’t truly expect to explain the process or how it feels. Previous work and you may just be looking for some free medical care.

Then the assistant spoke up. She was Doctor Ditka’s little frau, and i caught her checking out my legs in black tights and eying my skirt up and down. She made a lot of eye contact with me but probably because i was taught it was polite to look speakers in the eye. Even when they’re addressing a group.

She went over the finer points of duties and representation at the job, stock still and legs straddled with a clip board held in one hand and wedged into her belly like she was about to call off a cheerleading squad roster, or note how slow your last lap was, or go body surfing. Except, this was winter and she wore burnt-caramel suede & beige fur boots, tight blue-black jeans belted off with a strap of leather i imagined she could unbuckle and snake through her belt loops to beat you quickly with. It was all topped with a grey angora sweater. A snuggly little snit, a real fuzzy blowhard, probably a former stoner, rock chick & bully known to sit on the smaller, smarter girl’s chest at school and bloody her nose for her.

i quickly assessed who was in charge of this operation and it wasn’t Doctor Ditka or the nice older woman smiling at the front desk. After receiving frau’s full up & down measure, i also knew that job was not going to be mine.

People aren’t going out much, home entertainment and movie watching is up, and this is true of me as well, so i applied at Netflix for shits and giggles. They called within hours and scheduled a phone interview. Apparently Netflix is a rarity in corporate customer service. They decided to employ human voices, eliminated e-mail-based customer service inquiries, chose not to outsource or go offshore, and set up their big  call center in Hillsboro, Oregon “because it thought that Oregonians would present a friendlier voice to its customers.”

So, i had a nice chat with a woman who conducted a phone interview, went over some of those basic, “tell me about how cool, calm, successful and how much of a suck-up, pretty little cog, team player you are.” And then she asked two strange questions. “Would you like to be considered for a second interview?Oh, no thanks Judy, i’d like to stay in my pajamas all day and ask my poor working husband to bring me bon-bons and tampons since i’m not a financial contribution to the household, but this has been a real hoot, thanks for asking. And,”Would you like to work in a call center?Oh, yeah, i mean, i dream of sitting in a desk with open cubicles in a sea of heads wearing headsets jacked into the hive mind, assimilated like the fucking Borg, pausing just enough to slurp down a salty, stryofoam, pseudo nutrition container called Cup O’ Noodles and get right back to it at any time in the 24 hr span you’re open. Who needs a circadian rhythm, right?

But i answered safely, and quite honestly. “i’m highly efficient and i think i am fully capable of working in a call center.” Translation: “i am made of sturdy human material able to withstand the inquiries of irate morons and confused grandmothers and techless luddites. i am able to hack the necessary mundanity and the flexibility to talk to anyone from any walk of life even if all they want to do is talk. i am a meat popsicle. And yes, i will do it for $12 an hour.”

i wasn’t going to lie about it. What we want and what we are able to do, are often quite different. i want for things i am unable to do and i am able to do things i don’t want.

All of the above line of inquiry is mostly about touting one’s own work ethic, But i wish i had known about Chelsea’s latest answer to the interview question, “What do you consider your weakness.”

She simply rolled her eyes, tossed her head softly, sighed and helplessly replied, “Chocolate.”

Foolish Words, Bird Song & Shiek Music

Joe, Chelsea & i went to see Christopher Moore as he stopped in on Powell’s Books in Beaverton, touring in support of his new book, Fool.  He didn’t read excerpts, but DID regale us with funny stories as any good jester would.

i waited for a little over two hours to say hello and have him sign my book, while i fumbled through half stories of the times his writing kept us entertained on road trips.

“Hi, we’ve met,” he said.

“Well, i comment on your blog.”

“Right, well, good to meet you in person.”

He actually recognized me, i think, and probably through pictures but maybe he says that to all his MySpace / Facebook buddies. So i dropped him a quick public thank you:

thank you SO much for coming out to Portland (Beaverton) and staying so long to sign books and chat with everyone.

i was terribly flattered you remembered me from photos here and said i’d looked familiar. (probably from blog comments). i’ll be riding that cloud all week . . .

i really enjoyed your stories (“sorry”). i also really enjoyed meeting you in person since, like a good friend, you’ve made me laugh at so many times in my life.

i probably should’ve said that, but you know, the mind goes blank in the “awkward moment” that accompanies book signing as you put it.

also, i probably should’ve offered to take you out & feed you, since they had you shackled to a podium then a table so long, but didn’t want to imply an undue familiarity. just sayin’.

next time . . .thanks again!

He was kind enough to write me a quick personal message back, which, as i informed him, made my millennium. i wonder if he’ll read this . . .

That same Saturday, Joe & i went with friends, Janet, Adam & Hillary out for a nice little dinner at Thai Peacock at  then to see Andrew Bird at the Roseland Theater. i will not bore you with my full-blown review because, as anyone who knows anything about me, i am a HUGE fangirl of Mr. Bird and can gush at great length. Suffice it to say, it was one of the warmest, most intimate, tightly performed and emotionally charged shows of his i’ve ever seen.

Five days later, i’m sitting quietly at home reading my email when a blast comes through from the Aladdin Theater for FREE tickets to see, Duncan Sheik. Do you all remember him? Sudden unexpected pop heartthrob who put out “Barely Breathing” then apparently went on to compose, quite successfully, for film & Broadway musicals. Somewhere in that road he found Buddhism, explored his pop-roots and electronica and went from blue-eyed crybaby crooner to what appeared on stage to be softshoe hobo, railroad vagabond. Complete with floppy hat. No offense, but i like my pop-candy to be a little more polished. Even so, he was soothing enough and perfectly entertaining, particularly when joined onstage and accompanied in harmony by pianist/vocalist Holly Brook, a spritely, red-headed songstress with an easy voice who perked my ears with “Mama Who Bore Me.” i thought she sounded like those pitch-perfect singers on Broadway and indeed, the song is from Sheik’s Spring Awakening and was sonically delivered as such.

He seemed humourously self-aware onstage, in that sort of clumsy, rushed and fearful of rejection way that makes you check your fly and crumple your hat or roll a piece of paper into a straw. He began every introduction with, “Ok, so . . .” then while fiddling with one of 5 guitars, explained the song’s meaning and context as it applied to storylines in one of two Broadway plays he wrote music for. Then he’d crack a small joke or two, launch in, finish and begin again, “Ok, so . . .” Here and there he sprinkled in familiar pop tracks and love songs.

It struck me while i was awash in the soft repeating flow, that certain artists have a “sound” and so, i found myself trying to figure out the landscape of his music, the places i went to, the things i imagined. That sound for any given artist can be mathematically complex, assaulting, heart-beating, ass-wiggling, spirit soaring, a warm bath or just plain vanilla. Music to vacuum by. But it occurred to me that Duncan Shiek’s music, nearly the whole of it, sounds like a day at the beach, and not all the sunny, splashy, sandcastles & coconut lotion bit. But the white noise of the ocean, the call of circling birds, the cool that moves in around 6pm after a long day of swimming and sunbathing, the blue sky gone grey and overcast, the part of the day where you are tired and melancholy and have to pack up the blankets, shake out towels, rinse your flip-flops in the surf and walk back half a mile to the car with sand on and in unpleasant crevices. And you didn’t even get to stay and watch the sunset with a good bottle of wine, because the kids were whining, because the wind kicked up, because a storm moved in, because your lover/wife/husband is not who you think they are / hope they’d be. That’s what it sounds like.

But boy, the people were into it. And probably vacuumed up sand to it regularly or settled in with a pint of Vanilla. You know, after the beach.

To his credit, Duncan Shiek is a fine & thoughtful songwriter, he’s just not as deeply provoking as some. Gold star finish though – he ended his encore set with a most righteous cover of Radiohead’s “Fake Plastic Trees.” Finally, something real.

Welcome to the world of big monsters in pants and big possibilities!

If my SPAM is any indication of my shortcomings then i definitely have a small penis and should do something about that if i ever intend to satisfy ANY woman. i should also invest in discount Viagra & Cialis to keep my new size erect and in check. And if i really want to impress, i need “a status symbol of today” because “an expensive watch makes a huge difference socially and at the office.” Because, people look upon an expensive watch with “feelings of envy, wealth, and wanting.” But why would i want to spend all that money i don’t have? i should invest in a replica watch. Big and expensive to match my new “enormous manfullness in my pants.”


Even my SPAM is trying to tell me i’m an inadequate man in the working and dating world, which i guess is fine, seeing as how i’m an unemployed, married woman. They’ve got me all wrong. But i save the real gems for a laugh:

You’ll be able to invade so deep into woman, she’ll scream and shout like crazy.”

She will stay by your side as you have that bulgy pride.”

No matter how you are dressed everybody will see that you are blessed.”

Good gravy.

From Writing Under The Influence to Creatively Sober

So here’s some fun thoughts on a rainy day . . .

Elizabeth Gilbert gave a speech at TED on genius:

i encourage anyone who fancies a good scribble, wants to write, practices writing or contemplates the writing / creative life seriously to watch it. It actually made me cry.

As a background, Joe & i listened to Eat, Love, Pray while we trekked across the country to from Springfield, VA to Portland, OR and though i found most of it moving but some of it rife with her own personal drama and insecurities, this speech of hers was much more coherent and truly inspiring. i liked the idea of something passing through you, urging to be captured and caught by the tail, then wrestled to the paper, else it chooses to move on and select someone else to come through.

And well . . . i have to agree with her and her stories of other creative types. i have muses, sure enough. Guides. Voices. Faeries. Things that keep me up at nite or prod me on in the middle of the day, with something loud and clear to say. Often in the shower, sometimes i hear it right in my head or chest, a booming, filling voice. Sometimes it is in my own voice. Sometimes, it’s not. It’s ok – i’m no stranger to odd voices and old muses. it is my Greek Chorus, my accompanying soundtrack, the movie voice over. The Blathering Other.

Then, when the voice(s) go dead on the line, i write stuff like THIS too, just to address the situation . . . So even when i’m not wrtiting, i’m writing about it. very reflexive if for nothing else but the mere exercise.

What i’ve learned is that, for me, it IS an exercise, it’s a voice (or several) that like any good relationship, need cultivation and conversation to keep them active and accessible and “flowing.” As in “real life,” there are some friends for whom, if you don’t call for awhile, get offended.

But the bigger question about torturing oneself with the expectation of follow-up, or creative force, or the fears of “can i produce if i am NOT miserable?” And “do i have anything to say if i am not suffering?” Or “do i have to descend into madness in order to arrive at genius?”

Recently i was asked this:

Is it true, that hard times make you even more creative, allowing you to produce great art?

Perhaps there was a time in my life when it was somewhat true, but now it’s more about transcendence. that’s where our ‘art’ or trade or practice of the thing we do best comes in . . . and i’ve talked about this at great length before.

In essence i have learned not to abuse my “art,” not to squander talent into personal transformation through miserable expression. Suffering is apparent, pain is necessary, yes – but it is NOT the desired or correct state, purpose or constant in this life. And if it is – you’re doing it ALL WRONG.

i think getting to the other side of bad times bravely, however you document it in your art, is the goal. But making sure you have something to say or paint or photograph or film when life is blissful, is just as important.

i can remember a time where i’d plunk down in front of the computer, get to writing or editing photos (or Christ almighty, compose email) and kill a bottle of wine by myself, no problem and with little effect. i did this mostly because it was there, partly because it was business (i sampled wine from distributors for restaurant purchase) and lastly because it was wet and slightly more interesting than water (which i kept stacked in bottles within crates. Hydrate while you drink, people.)

Now, lately when i bring a drink to my face, i can almost feel my liver raise up and bitch slap it out of my hand. The smell of beer, fresh or stale in a room, on the breath in my face, or on clothing makes me sick. Apparently, my liquor license went out the door in my bellybutton along with my gallbladder. This is coming to you from a woman who in most pictures i am smiling, with a wine glass thrust forward in the frame as if to toast to anyone looking on and willing to share. These days, i’m afraid wine will turn my guts into a pit of roiling acid and deliver a mean hangover. So i guess i just wait, until things calm down and my liver and i come to an understanding.

And when it comes to sharing & understanding, for me, it’s often those random letters and email messages from old friends, new friends and complete strangers that i find myself sitting down to flex and exercise my writing muscles. Often, i cut and paste bits from email correspondences into the blog and vice versa, so don’t be upset if something we might’ve shared in supposed privacy ends up in some public form. i hope that doesn’t cheapen the exchange. i like to remember people and things they’ve made me consider and think deeply about. Sometimes it happens when i write them.

In some ways, i suppose i repeat myself, but i do this because, i “said” it once already, just the way i wanted to, and i don’t want to repeat myself. Redundantly unclever, i know. Didn’t you get the memo? It’s the primary reason for having a blog, it’s better than having you dig into my email, my word documents, my sketch pads in my car door and desk drawer or rifle through the stacks of dream journals at my nitestand. i mean, that’s where i go to collect my thoughts and try to reassemble them later.

Stories For Boys . . .

So, on the topic of later assembly, i dug up an old document from an upper-level creative writing course i took years ago. It’s about 70 pages loosely forming some sort of memoir. It’s not strictly linear, like you’d imagine, “i was born, this stuff happened, my mama, my pop, my sister and the hamster and the dog and the cat and the cute boy and the asshole best friend.” There are some elements of that, to be sure, but mostly i seem to mention the various people, mostly men whose friendships and entanglements pushed my personality forward and helped define me and what i do or do not want out of any configuration of friendship or relationship.

Now, that said, this is not a Willie Nelson & Julio Iglesias joint, a wide-sweeping “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” type proclamation, nor is it a tell-all rockstar biography. More like, what it was to grow up and make sense of the self. i’ll admit, probably owing to the time in my education and life, it smacks a of little feminism, trying on clothes, trying on lovers, divorce, mommy & daddy issues. But i think it’s a pretty fun & revealing romp, things even i’d forgotten about, so i’ll probably just intersperse them like chapters in between actual, current blogs at random, as i re-work them and under the title “Stories for Boys: (#).” They’ll be easier to tag, bag and search for.

As you might’ve guessed, i don’t change the names to protect the innocent, either. After all, we were just children then, honey. Trying to figure it all out.

March on . . .

drinking, friends, humor, photography, politics

Make A Joyful Noise . . . A Change is Coming

We were on 37th & Hawthorne in SE Portland at the Back Stage pool hall in a small, intimate upstairs room with our own table & tv (we flipped between CNN, Fox & Indecision 2008). When we got done applauding wildly, tearing up, hugging and generally being amazed at what history was happening before us, just after Obama’s victory speech with a few pitchers and cocktails under our belts, Joe, Tiffany & i poured out into the street, looking for a Champagne nitecap. This ended up being right next store at Greater Trumps, a funky cigar bar where the bubbly couldn’t be had and so, transformed into 3 Basil Hayden’s with a cube. There was quite a bit of smoke but some nice outside patio tables & when we wandered out to get some fresh air, a joyful commotion had ensued . . .

Total Spontaneous Human Happening – all emotions dialed up to stun & thrill. Fireworks had been setup right on the block, people were suddenly armed with sparklers, pot lids, drums, trash cans . . . anything that glowed & made a happy racket. There was a man with an Obama mask waving and pumping his fists in the air, a man riding a unicycle AND playing the bagpipes (i couldn’t make that up if i wanted to), President Obama signs suddenly manifested, every car honked as it went down the street packed with people hanging out of every window and howling like animals, chants and drum beats went up, “Yes We Did!” and “O-ba-ma!” And then . . . people lined up on either side of the crosswalk on the corner, by of all namely places, the Baghdad Theater, hooting, hollering stamping, drumming and woo-hooing until the crosswalk indicated it was safe to walk. But they didn’t walk – they ran, like two teams intersecting in a mass, hands in the air, giving high-fives to everyone, every smiling stranger as they passed.

Such a silly and special moment to get caught up in . . . replete with YouTube Video proof!

drinking, education, food, friends, love, technology, travel

Happy to me . . . a birthday blog in brief

so . . .

here i am in beautiful San Diego, California with pinky-brown toasty shoulders and a soft band of freckles across my nose.

Joe and i are here primarily for the BIO 2008 Convention and i was able to have floor access through George Mason University . . . what a spectacle! It’s been four days of business card exchange, glad-handing, hob-knobbing, party-hopping and eating all on the dime of the biotech industry (photos and stories to follow when i get home!)

Tonite, we are going to a fancy pants dinner at Bertrand at Mister A’s. Over the next few days sights should include Balboa Park and of course, the San Diego Zoo. i love me some wild animals!

But mostly . . . this message is broadcast to thank everyone for the texts, emails, MySpace messages and phonecalls to wish me a Happy Birthday. it’s been such a warm and beautiful day, and i feel so loved and thought of, even from so far away and on the other coast.

i will be having some great food, fine wine, tropical drinks, and the requisite sprouts and avocado slices that accompany all California fare.

i plan on having my eyes take in more waves and feet touch more sand in the coming days . . . and you should see some Flickr images and a few stories by early next week.

see you all soon!

much love . . .


dreams, drinking, food, love, myth, nature, philosophy, photography, psychology

Factoid of 10

so . . . i was tagged. more, i was asked to write a blog with 10 random things, facts, goals, or habits about mys(elf).

this longish little labor of love is dedicated to Virtual Angel and Laura, (thanks for waiting pretty ladies) though i will break the trend by NOT tagging anyone directly for obligatory response and instead invite anyone to tell me one random thing, fact or goal about themselves here as an optional comment.

i will start big and descriptive and then i will try to scale down to some simple trivia.

:::   :::   :::   :::

1 i am a nature nut. I have a profound respect for all things furry, things with leaves, scales, fins, feather and especially wings. And not just the pretty things like moths and butterflies, but birds and even bats. I have picked up butterflies dashed by car radiators flapping at the roadside. i’ve hand fed a dazed hummingbird after thudding pitifully into a window and was amazed to have it fly directly out of my hand. i have carefully pulled a baby mouse from a glue trap. Out of sheer interest, i took great pride in planting and cultivating a small but beautiful garden and i raised giant silkmoths (Saturniidae) for a year. i have photo documented nearly all of the above in great detail.

This all adds up to the fact that i wish i were a National Geographic level photographer (though i did finish in the 3rd annual Smithsonian contest in the category of Altered Images for a photo of a red tree.) my photos have also been featured in a Maryland Department of Natural Resources Calendar and on a species sign at the Calgary Zoo (for a HUGE bat called a Malayan Flying Fox.)

To remind me of the fragility of the natural worlds (humans included) i keep a little wooden box on my bookshelf. Some would consider it a bug sarcophagus but it has several wings, some full bodies of, and some single panels of glittering, scaly, colorful butterflies, moths and a fully intact dragonfly. I’m not a pinner and framer or a freezer or a killer. None of this Silence of The Lambs nonsense . . . i would just find these and collect them in the field as is. Creepy to you maybe, but delicate treasures to me.

2 i move slow on Sundays. Meditatively so. Or more at, sometimes, i don’t like getting up in the morning. Correction. i do NOT get up in the morning, i typically rise in the early afternoon. Morning for me is 10am to 11am. 9am is really pushing it. Anything prior to that and i am either sleeping, or some kind soul is cooking up a mean breakfast in the kitchen that has roused me and my hunger. Or –  i wake voracious and i am found making a tall stack of pancakes, towering like fluffy beige clouds or a big mess of cheesy scrambled eggs. My Sunday ritual is this . . . Rise late. Drink tea. Eat breakfast for lunch. Stay comfortable. Snuggle with Joe. Read or write of fill my mind and heart with music and art. I am not religious (unless you count nature) but i understand why people go to church, why they don’t want to work, why they choose forced respite on Sunday. as midnight approaches on a Saturday, bringing to close a full day, a full week lived and loved, greeted and embraced, photographed and written about, drunk down and eaten full, documented, cherished and learned from, i see the world as my church and the amazing places, people and things in it, all beautiful, meaningful and deserving of reverence in their own godlike ways. So i need time to digest my universe. And i refuse to work on Sundays. For at least the past 10 years . . . ultimately, i try to live my life as if it were a string of neverending Sundays: i eat when i am hungry, i sleep when i am tired, i work when i need the money, i rest when my mind or my body calls for it.

3 i am guilty of magical thinking. This is because i believe i lead a charmed life. Truly. In a world of random bullshit and utter chaos, i find myself wildly lucky. this works for me in a positive way not a paranoiac way. Many, many positive things, people and opportunities have filled my life. The places i’ve traveled to and seen, the wine i’ve consumed, the food i’ve eaten, the music i’ve absorbed, the people i’ve met, the true friends and the necessary lovers over the years and now, the perfect husband i now cherish. Where does the magic come in? i believe these things have been delivered to me from sheer wishing, from dreams, from asking the universe out right, from applying my mind and my will to them and invariably, from making the good decisions that put me in the places where the magic indeed happens. Oh yeah – and i think faerie folklore has a good bit of truth and i don’t care what you think that means. The boon of art and writing inspired is plenty. i look for signs in everything from placement in time and numbers on coins, to colors worn for effect, from license plates to billboards, from overheard conversations to the small, pinched flower mouths of children. Myths are made daily. i live like that . . .

4 i prefer to eat with my hands. I can even been seen eating a salad like this. Sure – i’ve worked in fine dining for the better part of 16 years and i know how to set a proper table. Even so, i use my right hand like a little claw or a prong, gathering three fingers and a thumb into a quadrant, leaving the pinkie out. i like gently tearing off hunks of cake or gathering a bundle of French fries and bringing the whole of it to pursed lips. i often taste sauces on plates with my fingers first before going in. it doesn’t matter how fancy or how low country the food is, though i will often employ the proper tool at the proper time, i still prefer the direct tactile sensation of bringing food to my mouth with my hands. and as for beverages, i’ll drink wine out of anything, including a bowl.

5 i’ve tried my hand at every artistic arena minus sports. i’ve attacked and completed most ventures with moderate success and still continue to grow in the ones i’ve decided to hold onto. No one told me i couldn’t or explained that i might fail so i tried everything to see what i was good at with joyful abandon. i play acoustic guitar and a smattering of piano, i even tried flute and saxophone. i sing mostly as i discovered it was my best instrument and used it to front a band. i’ve been recorded. i’ve sketched, painted and sculpted. i took jazz for a few months and performed in precisely one dance recital in a hideous pink and black polka-dotted bodysuit with crinoline skirt when i was 15. i still write quite a bit and have been published in small collections that i have entered and/or was editor-in-chief for and won minor educational scholarship contests for writing when i began my college career. Then there’s the photography bit too . . . as previously mentioned.

6 secretly – or maybe not so secretly, i want to sift through my writing and author a book. Poetic prose, nothing too confessional, something probably more at short-story/essay-type of writing. If there were a way to amalgamize the astute natural observation of Annie Dillard, the humor of David Sedaris, Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore, and the delightfully dense prose of Tom Robbins, fluid and delivered in equal parts, then this is the book i want to write. i mean – aren’t we all very busy writing the Great American Novel?

7 Socks. i love them. Especially knee-highs. The longer, more silly, more sexy, more striped, more full of cats and flowers and polka-dots and eyeballs and stars, the better.

8 Being naked. This is my preferred state. And i don’t say that to be provocative. i like senseless nudity. Like, i prefer to be naked cleaning the tub and bathroom tiles (so i can shower after!) or fresh out of the shower composing email naked in front of the computer with a towel on my head. i like doing the dishes naked or dusting the bookshelves on a chair naked or my favorite, stripping down in front of the washer and loading the clothes into the basin naked. Also combine this with 7 and you get naked plus socks – another common state of mine.  Because i dress according to mood and function, it takes me awhile to decide what i’m wearing for the day so if i don’t have to go anywhere on the immediate, i’ll just wander the house naked until i get inspired.

9 Oregon. This is where i want to live. I want to see mountains and water, to hike to camp, to breathe and eat healthy and sleep soundly to the rain. All of this with my husband Joe, in a home with a fireplace and a wall stuffed with books (or a proper library), with a couple (or few cats) and a big porch to watch the birds from, a backyard without a fence to hold back the garden of flowers, herbs, vegetables and lavender, a few comfortable chairs, a bright window to look out while i write and read, and a nicely stocked kitchen and pantry with plenty of cupboard space for us to feed ourselves and entertain the people we adore. There is a plan in place for this eventual utopian move . . .

And last for 10 i give you . . ..

10  My Top 10 List of Tiny Zen

  1. the top of my cat’s head (where smooches go)
  2. Mango flesh – if you want to learn to kiss, eat one, with both hands
  3. the smell of onions frying in butter
  4. the crisp of autumn experienced through an open window
  5. blood orange hot tea
  6. an afternoon nap in a cool, dark place
  7. lavender – in any form, mixture, balm or concoction
  8. a sexy, luscious, viscous red wine
  9. Jasmine Rice steaming
  10. cold champagne in a hot bath

and the invitation is now yours, should you choose . . .

art, books, drinking, friends, photography

more wine, vicar?

i don’t know . . . but i sure feel tense lately.

i just started 2 online courses to complete my (neverending) degree in Psychology. having lost two beloved pets last month and the subsequent emotional adjustment left me a little sapped. work has been wearing on me a little and i am STILL slightly sick . . .

but mostly just sick of not having enough time to just sit here
and write
and draw
and sing
and drink
and dance
and sleep
and pet the cats
and take pictures
and scribble
and glue shit together
and create
and laminate
and get paid for it.

so to make myself feel more at ease (and to keep the cold at bay) – i fried up some pierogies filled with potatoes and cheese in butter and warmed up some drinking chocolate sent to me from the UK courtesy of a dearly missed friend, re-read a sympathy card for Miles from another missed friend in Detroit, also named Andrea, stared at my clown fish, the sweeping fan feeders and the little purple hairy ghost crab that inahbits the nano-reef i have in my office, snatched up both cats for a kiss and a cuddle, listened to some old Steeley Dan, wandered DA for some inspiration, slathered up in some lavender lotion and donned some soft pajama bottoms, which i should now waste your time/amuse you by describing:

these newly beloved pajama pants are cream colored with fuschia cats all over them. the cats have big heads, tiny bodies and a little curlique for a tail. they have hearts for eyes and interspersed in the places where cats do not reside, there are tiny chocolate, caramel, and fuschia colored hearts and the word “kitten” right side up and upside down all over in between the hearts. they sit low on the waist and have this really cool japanese, flare and overlapping fabric trimminng detail at the ankles. if i never have to get out of these pants that would be just fine with me.

soon now – i should find myself curled up with actual kittens pressed against my kitten pajamas, jacked into my iPod listening to Douglas Adams read his book, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” for the bazillionth time. (by the way, interestingly enough, if you simply type the word “hitchhiker” into GOOGLE, you get a whole lotta Adams.

i have a box of photos i intend to begin sorting through to and transferring them into 2 large leather books. there is everything from me coloring Easter eggs to my high school graduation and far beyond. i find something amusing in the photos that others take of me – in most of them, i am holding a wine glass.

Well, i suppose i will do what the HHGTTG says, “DON’T PANIC,” keep a towel handy, and drink plenty of fluids . . .

“The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy also mentions alcohol. It says that the best drink in existence is the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.

It says that the effect of a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is like having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped round a large gold brick. ”

and perhaps it is time to unwind with some stellar bevvies 🙂

in the meantime, i’ll be over at Marcy’s place in the afternoon, setting up a wireless network, which i’m sure will require at LEAST a bottle of wine.

in pre-emptive celebration, i will leave you with a funny bit about fine ladies gone out drinking . . .

Women’s 19 clues to calling it a night
you know it’s time to go home when …

1.  You have absolutely no idea where your shoes are.

2.  You’ve just had to get someone to help you pull your pants up in the ladies room.

3.  You suddenly decide you want to kick someone’s ass.

4.  In your last trip to “pee” you realize you look more like Tammy Faye Baker than the goddess you were just four hours ago.

5.  You drop your 3:00 a.m. burrito on the floor, pick it up and carry on eating.

6.  You start crying.

7.  There are less than three hours before you’re due to start work.

8.  You’ve found a deeper side to the office nerd.

9.  The man you’re flirting with used to be your 5th grade teacher.

10. The urge to take off articles of clothing, stand on a table and sing becomes strangely overwhelming.

11.  You’ve forgotten where you live.

12.  You’ve started to sound like Jessie Ventura from the cigarettes you’ve smoked, because (as you’ve mentioned like 10 times by now) you only smoke when you drink.

13.  You yell at the bartender, who (you think) cheated you by giving you just tonic, but that’s just because you can no longer taste the gin or vodka.

14.  You think you’re in bed, but your pillow feels strangely like pizza.

15.  You start every conversation with a booming, “Don’t take this the wrong way but…”

16. You fail to notice that the toilet lid’s down when you sit on it.

17. Your sloppy hugs begin to resemble wrestling take-down moves.

18. You’re tired so you just sit on the floor (and why not!).

19. You show your friends that girls CAN pee standing up, if they really try.