Sunday, July 31, 2005

We're all heroes

Lance Armstrong. Just the name makes me wince. Not because he is in anyway worthy of derision, (though he may be in some private moments we aren't privy to) but because here is a guy who holds the admiration of the world in his hands, having broken world records while also beating that cancer. And then using this celebrity to further the research into cancer - in short, a true hero. But here's my problem: instead of feeling inspired by him, I just feel like I'm a worthless piece of shinola.

Remember when you were young and the teachers and older folks encouraged you by saying that you could be anything you wanted to be? Isn't that what is still happening today? And the reality is, it's just not accurate. Now, I'm sure Lance wasn't pulling on mommy's apron going "I want to win the Tour de France and then I want to get cancer, beat it and win that race some more times. Wouldn't it be great if I could win it seven times and inspire the world to step up and solve some major cancer riddles?" But he may have wanted to race bikes, I don't know we'd have to ask him. (Sure I could traipse all over the net looking for interviews to add some verisimilitude to the piece here, but then I'm no reporter) The truth is that you will probably not be the "best" at anything, that you won't have a previously unthought of thought in your entire life. The truth is also that you will have a set of unique experiences that when mixed together with your personality will provide you with a completely new "existence", unexisted until now. No one piece of it will be new, just the whole recipe taken together.

It took me decades to figure this out. I've tried to do many things, with varying degrees of success. I can read music and write songs, write little stories and swim, bodysurf and bowl. But there is always someone who can do it better, their particular mix of talent and drive far more suited to the tasks than mine. All the jobs! Waiter, model, actor, restaurant manager, calendar maker, teacher, factory worker, gopher; I like to think I was/am good at those things, but I'm certainly not the best. Sigh.

And so, doomed to a life of obvious mediocrity, there is that one tiny thread to cling to; taken together your existence is unique. It's the one thing you can be the best at, the one true way to stand tall and be proud, and the one way that we can all be Lance Armstrong.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Last night

We took the bus down to the village yesterday. This is gay pride week here in Montreal and so I chose to go join the festivities for my birthday. I wanted to eat at Saloon, a popular bistro where I've never had a bad meal. First stop was Sky for a before dinner beer. The place was packed at 6pm, full of tourists and locals taking advantage of the two for one prices in effect until seven. We were just about ready to leave when the pretentious ones arrived and joined us wishing me happy birthday and standing around passing judgemental comments about the patrons, the music, fashion and the like. I can't stand being around them, a bunch of bitter queens spending way too much time showing off their two hundred dollar shoes to each other. They've just got it all figured out those guys, how to be arch and bitter, and ultimately boyfriend-less. When told of our dinner plans, it was wrinkled noses all around. I was wearing a tank top, shorts and Berkenstocks so a high class restaurant was not really in the possible mix of eateries. But anyway, this is how they are, I didn't ask for them to spit on my plans, but they just hawk their loogies up on just about anything.

So what are you doing for your 40th Tornwordo?

We're going to have dinner at Saloon, and then we're going over to the festival site to watch the concert.

Saloon, why do you want to go there? (Looks at watch, yawns)

Always a good meal, and cute waiters to boot. (my eyes sparkling, hey - it's my bday)

Well there's much better restaurants in the village than that. ( with pity and the wrinkled nose disgust look) And there's nothing good at the festival tonight, tomorrow night and Sunday are better. (who asked you?)

Afterwards, we'll probably head over to the Stud to dance a little.

At this point, they were dumbstruck and gave each other little knowing glances of disdain. The Stud is one of many bars in the village. I like it there because it's full of real people, where guys with beer bellies dance with their shirts off. It's a we don't care what we look like, we're here to let go and have fun kind of place. There are many other places with twenty dollar cover charges and New York DJs, the dance floors filled with steroid addled Chrissy queens. Just not my kind of place anymore.

Serge and I finished our beer and said goodbye to the snot patrol, went up and had a lovely dinner at Saloon, enjoyed the festival concert enormously (there was a rendition of God Bless the Child that nearly had me in tears it was so beautiful) and danced until one at the Stud where we ran into our old neighbor who bought us a drink for my birthday. (This was classy, I thought, the arbiters of taste didn't even do that at the beginning of the night.) The music was from the 80's on the dancefloor, actual songs I knew the words to, and we danced unselfconciously to the beat of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Tears for Fears etc. A great way to end the night.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Apparently life begins now

Forty years ago today, my mother suffered a good bit to squeeze me through her loins. Since then, a number of events have shaped me to be who I am today. I can't really say which events played the biggest role, just that taken together, they have led me to this day and the incredible unimaginable life I'm leading right now. If you had told me that one day I would be speaking French and living in a foreign country, I wouldn't have believed you (French always scared the shit out of me) and yet, here I am.

I figure if I were wine, I'd be just about ready to drink right now. Twenty years ago I was far to young and bitter and at thirty some of my harsher edges had been smoothed, but today, finally, maturity.

That said, and to avoid descending into some sentimental morass, I give you:

Top Ten Reasons Turning 40 Sucks

10. People are more interested in your money than your looks.

9. It's no longer cool to smoke a joint.

8. Gray pubes.

7. A semi qualifies as hard.

6. Napping becomes involuntary.

5. You start smelling the way you remember grandpa did when you were young.

4. You tsk tsk the younger generation.

3. When you say something about David Bowie, younger people say, "Who's that?"

2. Your face starts looking like a roadmap.

1. When your ass hurts, it's not because of the hot sex you had, it's because of hemmorhoids.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


The doorbell rings. Upon opening the door, Leah is standing there holding a bowl of grapes. Ants are crawling all over the grapes and Leah says look, there is a problem at my house.

Leah lives on the third floor above us, she had a baby two years ago with her then boyfriend who has since left her. She seems to resent the world, though she has an unbelievably beautiful son.

What is the solution to the ant problem Leah?

Well, I don't want any poisons because of the baby.

How about keeping the grapes in the fridge? After all it's summer, you might want to put the things away that attract the bugs. (I'm doing my best not to laugh at her, she is purse-lipped and serious.)

Those are carpenter ants, she says, that means you have rotting wood.

Thank you pest expert Leah.

And another thing, she says, last month you didn't cash the rent check until the 20th and I need you to tell me if you're not going to cash it right away.

Now, I couldn't help laughing, and I thought about showing her what a checkbook looks like, but she was being all serious again, so I said, just pay us in cash if you have trouble keeping track of your account.

I didn't know being a landlord could be so amusing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Twitchy America

Airline travel isn't what it used to be. I'm sure this is nothing new to you. Having visited several airports over the last few weeks, it is quite clear that not only are airports hubs of paranoia, they are also studies in incompetence. I flew from LA to Montreal via Vancouver on the day following the London bombings and there was a huge police presence in the airports on this day, screaming at people unloading curbside and suspiciously eyeing people with baggage (yes, that would be everyone). Instead of feeling safe, it made me nervous, twitchy policemen ready to react.

Last weekend I took a short trip to visit my uncle. When I bought the tickets (from a site called I was informed that I would be under extra scrutiny for having bought my tickets "last minute". (How reassuring) The tickets were bought two weeks prior to the trip. Even though there are posted signs everywhere about the prohibition against lighters, I thought I would just see if I could avoid having to buy another one and left it in my bag. So I went through security in Montreal with no trouble, and then when I landed to make my connection in Chicago, I went outside to smoke and reentered the security screening - twice. Both times, there was no detection of the lighter in my bag. (I figured if they spotted it, I would play dumb and say I was unaware that it was in there.) Huge tubs of lighters that passengers voluntarily gave up sat in plain view at the checkpoints. Agents were reminding people about it and informing passengers that paper matches were acceptable, but not wooden matches. (Does this ring logical?) I saw people with diabetes explaining why they had sharp objects in their bags, and elderly people getting the bomb squad makeover. A kids' shoes caused a great deal of commotion and agents banged the shoes and wiped them with the bomb detection tissues. Apparently the shoes had little electronic lights that alarmed the agents.

I can see where this is going - soon all baggage will be prohibited and special paper airline gowns will be the only acceptable garb. Cavity checks will be common.

When I returned on Monday, I decided to ditch the lighter because it was on its last legs. Wouldn't you know it, then I was selected for extra screening, agents poring over my bag and shoes demanding to know what's this and what's that. The answers were fairly obvious, uh that's a tube of toothpaste (he must have been unfamiliar with "Crest") and that there is a packet of enchilada sauce (the powdered mix). The enchilada sauce caused the agent to ask for assistance as they opened it to inspect the contents. It came to mind to make a joke about anthrax laden powder but then I thought better of it.

To digress from the topic a bit, going home, I landed in Dallas for my connection and when I got off the plane, I remembered how Texans do everything big, and walking through the terminal, the lifestyle of excess was in clear evidence, this was the land of the behemoths. I've got nothing against people with a little extra meat on their bones, but when walking becomes difficult, it may be time to address your coke and french fry addiction. I actually giggled as I meandered around the airport, and thought about how our energy issues could be solved simply by tapping the liposuction clinics in Texas.

On the last flight to Montreal, we sat at the gate in the airplane for a half an hour as the crew discovered that a passenger's bag was on the plane, while the passenger was absent. We had to wait for the ground crew to go into the hold and find the missing passenger's bag before takeoff.
Passengers on the plane buzzed about how "safe" they felt with these new measures.

I wondered if they really found the bag, or just put on this dog and pony show for us. Really if it's your time to go, it's your time to go and so I sat back and read my book and enjoyed the flight.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Back from the highlands of New Mexico, a last minute junket I decided to take to visit my uncle, I'm feeling refreshed and centered, grounded and grateful.

The monsoon season had just begun and I enjoyed the daily thunderstorms, the unbelievable hiking and just hanging out with family, long talks into the night. On Saturday, we took a long hike in the wilderness to ten thousand foot grass mountain.

It was spectacular and humbling, the thunderstorms muttering around us, the deer skitting off as we approached, and the wildflowers blooming everywhere.

The place is Pecos, about a half hour drive
South of Santa Fe.

Hiking in the mountains with my uncle is really cool, as he spotted wild onions and sage and rattled off the names of plants, trees and animals that we came across.

Tomorrow, we'll return to our usual format.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Contradicting observations

Living among the French here in Quebec is rather paradoxical. On the one hand, they've embraced many capitalist ideals and a good deal of American culture. (Quebecers are number one in the world for per capita consumption of Kraft mac'n'cheese) On the other, the city of Montreal bucks the mainstream much in the way San Francisco does and is one of the most unique (art-filled, festival ridden) societies in the world. Talk about a melting pot, this place has large Greek, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Mexican and Arab communities within a city of just a million (2 if you count the suburbs). But Quebec being a French speaking province, the preferred (or rather legally mandated) written and spoken language is French. I have had long conversations with English people, solely in French, because the event was French speaking. But in other places, like the metro, everyone speaks their own language, and you hear snippets of all of them every day.

Taxes are high and crime is low. (I don't really think this is a paradox, but my Republican friends will)

People who live here love this city and would never want to live anywhere else, except Florida. (There are huge communities of retired Quebecers who live in Florida during the winter, little towns almost)

French people like to say postitive things in the negative form: It's not cold today. (It's nice today.) That wouldn't not please me. (I'd like that.)

If you don't say "Bonjour" you're rude, but if you decline an invitation, a simple "No" is all that is required. No explanation necessary.

One of the most popular tv shows here features a family living on welfare and cheating the system whenever possible.

Half the people want to separate from Canada, and the other half don't.

All the curse words here are centered on religious objects found in the Catholic church. (Chalice, Sacrament, Host, and the worst, Tabernacle) They use the English word "fuck" constantly, but it has no obscene connotation. C'est fucke! (It's broken)

Quebecers are repulsed by refried beans (sadly for me) and love to eat horse.

Stores can sell alcohol only until 11pm, bars can sell it until 3am.

I suppose I could go on, dear reader, but alas, the day presses at me like a child on the window of an ice cream shop.

Well, fair readers, I must bid you adieu again. Off to the hills to visit my uncle in Santa Fe. And while it would be my greatest pleasure to provide updates, the place I'm staying is rather remote and internet-less. I'll post again when I get back, say Tuesday, shall we?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Ten fantasies

Child dancing at sunset.

1. In a stunning act of bad planning, secret service hustle Mr Bush into a nearby dive to avoid the Jehovah's Witnesses tambourining down the street. Once inside, the secret service are mobbed by a group of drag queens and poor Georgie gets dragged to the back room. He appears sore-assed and in a pink tu-tu on Face the Nation the next morning. He giggles and fans himself. After that, everything changes.

2. For reasons only the karmically enlightened can discern, Rick Santorum is mobbed and beaten in Jamaica, accused of being a "batty boy".

3. Aliens visit Earth, apologize profusely, and whisk Tom Cruise back to their world.

4. Whales grow legs and walk out of the sea to kick some serious butt.

5. Three words: multiple orgasm pills.

6. America becomes humble instead of arrogant, the preferred scenario of course would spare all of my loved ones any hardship. (Michael Moore for president?)

7. Arnold Schwarzenegger is swiftly castrated during a bizarre incident involving the office paper cutting tool. "There is a ruler at the edge of the cutter and I was snapping a picture for my dudesnude profile, when the handle came down," he trills in his new girly-man voice.

8. I apply for and get a job which only requires me to breathe. Any government job will do.

9. A remake is made called "Marty Poppins" featuring a dandy boy from the land of pederast. (Just a spoonful of jism helps the med...well you get the idea) *No flaming please, it's called humor, if you find it in bad taste, fuck off

10. I marry my man and move to a foreign land where we can live our lives in a peaceful and tolerant society. Someplace like Canada. Oh wait.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Reader feedback requested

An interesting question was posed at the barbeque Saturday night.

There were eight of us, Marie and Olivier with their nine month old son and their friends Martin and Frederique (the female) with their 18 month old daughter. We had taken the train to get to Marie and Olivier's house way out on the edge of suburbs and countryside. When we arrived, it was blisteringly hot and muggy and the two infants were in the blow up kiddie pool, squealing and splashing ad infinitum. The six adults sat around the kiddie pool chatting and sipping panache (half beer/half seven-up, ice cold) and cooing over the children. The children had no desire to leave the pool, ever. Eventually, we got hungry and dragged the kids out of the pool, went inside and fed them while getting the adult food together. At seven, the kids were sleeping in the other room, and we all sat down to enjoy barbequed ribs and potato salad with some lightly chilled red wine. Marie served a fresh homemade strawberry tart for dessert and a bottle of dessert wine from 1970. (They are from France, can't you tell?)

Anyway, suitably oiled for more risque talk, the conversation began featuring bodily functions and finally sex. To which the following question came up: How did you experience your first orgasm? We practiced first by going around the table, "Was it alone?" Six yesses all around, then, "Was it before or after the onset of puberty?" Here we were evenly divided. We then shared our stories, one by one, except for Olivier, who smiled nervously the whole time and finally weaseled out of telling.

That would make for a pretty interesting blog, don't you think, I mean the first time orgasm discovery stories? It could be anonymous, everyone showing the incredible diversity of our species. (I was quite shocked to find out that people were having orgasms as children. I felt like I had missed out on something.) We could start right now, you could leave your story in the comments. Oh what? I should tell my story before I have the gall to ask you to leave yours? Geez, my family reads this thing. Okay, family, don't read on.

On the bed with my feet turned up and over my body flat against the wall behind my head. That which best displays my gender made contact with the back of my throat. A strange electrical sensation passed and throbbing began and I got scared, not sure what was happening. After thinking it through, I figured out what it was, and practiced often after that. ( I am, sadly, unable to achieve that position anymore.)

See how easy that was? Go ahead, share, won't you?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Scatty cat

I hazily woke up some 30 years ago, alone in my bed, shivering due to a fever. I had stayed home from school for days and the flu was reaching its zenith inside me. A gnawing pain in my gut reminded me to take sips of the 7-up my mom had left next to the bed. I had a small black and white tv in my room, and it was all I could muster to reach over and turn it on. Suddenly, I was hot and pushed down the blankets to my feet, ready to pull them back at the first sign of shivers. For hours I alternated between sweaty and freezing, slowly sipping from the 7-up glass.

During The Price is Right, our cat Panther paid a visit to my bedroom and jumped up on the bed making purring noises, and I stroked her as she pushed her clawless paws into my legs as if they were scratching posts. She purred and purred and rotated and extended her tail as I stroked her from her head and down her back to her tail. I actually started feeling a glimmer of happiness, sick as a dog, stroking the cat.

And then something unexpected happened.

While the cat was turned toward my feet, and her tail straight up in the air, a tiny bursting sound, a kind of phht popped out of her anus. It sounded like gas and smelled highly pungent and as I started gagging from the smell, I noticed tiny brown specks all over my white t-shirt and on the pillow behind my head. Uncontrollably, the 7-up jettisoned itself from my stomach flying clear across the room in one voluminous squirt, and I stood and staggered to the bathroom. Once in front of the mirror, I could see all the brown specks dotting my face and the dry heaves began. It took me an hour to get cleaned up and change the sheets, doing my best to stifle the nausea.

When my mom came home that day, I was feeling so awful and yet glad to see her. When I told her what had happened, she cried laughing, huge gasping uncontrollable laughter.

I still can't laugh about that story.

Monday, July 18, 2005

More summer ranting

Sunday evening in the back yard. After the air
conditioning hunt.

On a quest for a window box air conditioner yesterday, an unsuccessful quest incidentally*, I had to get on the bus for one of the legs of the journey. The heat has turned everyone into muttering, poor-postured stink factories. We file onto the bus and take a seat. The windows are open, but the heat is suffocating inside. At the next stop, more people get on, and as people brush past you, it is not a little tickle, it is more like a slide, as your sweat hooks up with theirs, gooey and greasy. A well dressed man chooses to hang onto the pole attached to your seat. There is such a jarring assault of odors, you (like me) put your face out the window. The man obviously has some perverted idea that deoderant is useless. His is a gag-inducing foulness. But wait, you detect something else, something even more sickening, yes, he has the most nauseating garlic breath imaginable mixed with something like rotting teeth. He had run to catch the bus, and he stands next to you, his exhalations blowing directly onto your head. You are trapped. You feel your gag reflex gear up with every breath. You begin to breathe through your mouth, and consider getting off the bus and waiting for the next one. You are panicked.

The stench gauntlet was what it was. I'm trying not to be overly critical, but when you notice the sheen of oily sweat coating your body, it might be time for an armpit check, nay, refreshening. Especially if public transportation figures in your plans. Otherwise, and I say this with love, stay the fuck home.

* You would think that in our perfect capitalist society that you would be able to procure an appliance at will. You would be wrong. You would also discover that advertisements are made to lure you into a store to buy a product only to find that they don't have the product. You might be offered a raincheck for when the next shipment comes in in August, and this might make you cranky and wont to tantrums (like informing the salesman that they have an idiot in the ordering department).

All I can say is shove your "sorry" up your ass.

We bought a second fan instead. We have a lot of hot air blowing around the house.

Sunday, July 17, 2005


It's dumping outside now. It's 77 and pouring down tropical rain. I've been sitting outside watching the sky pulsate and imagining the clouds as giant sponges, some unseen force squeezing them and releasing. Squeeze and release. Rumbles of thunder roll in from a distance like a choir in the background. Serge sleeps uncovered on the bed, snores escaping now and then, oblivious to my morning ecstasy. Sara cowers under the desk - she hates choirs. The air is heavy and thick, like syrup. The sounds of water dripping from everywhere, incessant, is like a giant lullaby for a sleeping city. I feel like I got up early and caught Santa Claus on Christmas Eve.

Sunday sermon

You have all the answers,
Derived from your brain,
The heart unconsulted,
Intolerance, the refrain.

You hail from a red state,
On us you cast shame,
We don't hold the power,
But still, somehow, are to blame.

You call us naive,
For wanting to know,
What makes the world,
Hate America so.

You market ideas,
Like the latest new thing,
Cloaked in fancy labels,
And talking points that ring.

But what you are missing,
Though you're completely unaware,
Is that you are heartless,
For the world, you do not care.

God bless America,
That's what you say,
God fuck the rest of the world,
Said another way.

You're holding the reins,
We're trapped on the ride,
As you take us ever further,
To the dark side.

And so today,
I send you some light,
Light to be shed,
On this spiritual fight.

There is no us,
There is no them,
There are only people,
Get some heart in your head.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Mother bloodsuckers

Again with the heat, man. Already we've had the hottest June EVER recorded here and now July is shaping up to be a sweathouse nightmare. I so want to love summer; the festivals, the nightlife, the twice weekly fireworks shows, the lightning storms and lush growth in the parks. And the bike rides, I had these great dreams of exploring the bike paths in other parts of the city, going on long rides along the river, and taking advantage of this wonderful network of dedicated bike lanes. All of those things are rendered drudgery when the perceived temperature tops 100.

I'm telling you.

The neighbor upstairs, Guy, informed me of the local public pool, and generally extolled its virtues of proximity and size. All I could think was that you couldn't pay me to enter a public pool with hundreds of other humans a large percentage of which are children. "Thanks, Guy I'll have to check it out" I said. Would this qualify as prissiness? This revulsion for coating my body with urine (yes, I know about the chlorine). I was a kid, and I'm fairly sure that I was not alone in peeing in the pool. I'm just saying.

Should we stick it out or break down and get the window box air conditioner? You know how it's going to go down if we do buy it: the weather will change and we'll have a cool rest of the summer, and I'll be subject to a permenant harangue by my (gosh I love him) battleaxe.

Speaking of said battleaxe, I would like to give only a cursory review of yesterday's events, the details too tawdry to go into. It seems that the manly cutting tool could be seen having his handle polished in a park nearby oh about 3 am. Mitigating circumstances might include that the tool had been marinating in cleaning solution for 8 hours before this event. Today the cutting tool is full of rue. (giggle)

In other news, I went on a quest for more deet. The back yard, harboring as it does this year's winning mosquito breeding ground, is a gauntlet of blood sucking. Each time I am seduced by the warm summer breezes and the new patio, I step out only to swiftly have my blood let. I have started coating myself with bug spray every day (I like to think of it as my camping perfume) and ran out of the Off from last year. So I found some super heavy duty bug spray (30 percent deet) and when I used it, I got a buzz from the fumes. A poison buzz, nice.

So today dawns again with the promise of more sweating and bloodletting, my body an apparent bottomless well of such liquids. Sigh.

Friday, July 15, 2005

No more mo without the jo

Why bust my butt every day to post when no one is even reading it? Anyway, today I have to write for money. Ugh. I get to write how the food is the cornerstone of the restaurant. I'm serious. As if no one knew that the food was an integral part of a retaurant operation. In addition, I've written a similar spot on the same topic, (here's why our food is so good, look at the lengths we go to get the finest and most exotic ingredients blah blah blah) and I just don't know how to improve upon it. But, if I just pull out the old one, I don't get the fifty bucks. I want the fifty bucks, so I'm going to go work on it now.

Sorry there's not much more today, but further stroking is needed for inspiration/ambition.

You have been warned.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Hoverers part 2

They never figured out exactly what had happened the night that Heart of a Jaguar died so gruesomely. The idea that was advanced and finally accepted was that human sacrifice was necessary to appease the spirits and within a decade the practice of child sacrifice was an annual affair. This gave the tribe a sense of security, and thus creativity flourished. Creativity is easily extinguished by fear, but by this atrocious act of sacrifice, the spirits entered into a pact of protection with the tribe. In fact, the spirits began to mentor the tribe and teach them unknown miracles. Their cultivation and hunting methods improved and the population flourished for twenty years. And then...

Watches the Clouds was 12 at the time. He was the only offspring from his parents, Dawn of Spring (who died giving birth), and Night Wind, who presently shared his sex with Dawn of Spring's sister, Watertalker. Watches the Clouds had missed his mother his whole life. The tribe couldn't understand this as he couldn't possibly remember his mother. But Watches the Clouds did know his mother. She visited him in his dreams nearly every night where they spoke in hushed loving tones. He wanted to be with her, or for her to be with him, to touch and smell her physically. His was a heart of want and desire, unsquelched by the admonitions of others. Where the other young tribesmen were thriving in the social obligations in the village, Watches the Clouds was becoming more withdrawn, solitary, and morose.

As summer was giving way to fall, the young Watches the Clouds told his mother that he was coming to see her. She smiled and loved him and said gently, "Not yet." It was with this impression that he woke up, three days before the annual sacrifice would take place. The decision of who would be sacrificed was left to the elders in the tribe, who practiced ritual ceremony to divine the best candidate. Watches the Clouds went to the house of the elders that morning and informed them that he would like to be the person sacrificed. The elders thanked him for his bravery but gently rebuffed him, saying only, "It is possible." The more Watches the Clouds thought about it that day, the more his sense of urgency mounted and his thinking became jagged, and disconnected. His mind lit upon the fruit from the plant that makes one crazy. That was it, he thought, "I will see my mother tonight" he said. He left the settlement and wandered into the hills in search of the fruit from the plant which makes one crazy.

In the late afternoon, he came upon a clump of berries hanging from a bush near a trickle of a stream. They looked like sweet miracle fruit, but he wasn't sure so he picked one of the berries and put it in his mouth and began to chew. The incredible bitterness of the berry made him spit it out nearly immediately and he knelt down and cupped his hands to drink from the stream and rinse out the bad taste. He took the clump of berries and placed it in his sack fashioned from the hide of a mountain goat he had killed the year before (his first). As he began his journey back to the village, Watches the Clouds started getting dizzy.

His mind became befuddled and confused and he sat down on a large flat rock overlooking the valley with the village below. He heard his mother's voice, distant but real. "Fly," she seemed to be saying. Watches the Clouds didn't understand what was happening to his eyes, the whole world seemed to be composed of vines, rippling and vibrating. "Fly," his mother's voice said, louder and more clearly. An eagle flew past and rippled the vines as it went. Watches the Clouds could actually feel the ripples move past him. "Turn your heart, over and again," his mother said, "Like a rock tumbling down the river, turn your heart and fly." Watches the clouds felt the center of his love for his mother and began to turn it inside him. He couldn't see his heart, but he could see ripples emanating from his torso. "Faster," she whispered. He imagined his heart, his love, turning and turning faster and faster. "Look down," his mother whispered again. When Watches the Clouds looked down, he saw that he was nearly a foot off the ground, and as he gasped in surprise, his heart stopped turning and he fell briskly onto the rock. But, this time there was no fire.

Watches the Clouds stayed on the rock overlooking the village for hours practicing his newfound ability to hover, and he was learning how to move forward and backward and from side to side. It took a good amount of concentration, and distractions were problematic. He hovered back to the village never more than a few feet off the ground. When he arrived, he began walking, not sure how to go about revealing this strange and magical skill. Just before arriving home, he ran into one of the elders. "Good news, " he said to Watches the Clouds, "You got your wish, you've been selected for the sacrifice."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Around the house

So you see the cutting board in this picture? It has hung in that very spot since we brought it home a year ago. We were at Ikea to finalize details on the kitchen cabinets we purchased there, and the kitchen accessory section was just adjacent. All things kitchen hypnotize Serge and as I followed him through the area, he picked up dozens of things proclaiming "we need this!" I said things to engender his love like " Can you define need?" and "We've never made bread, so how can we need a bread-maker?" etc. I thought we did pretty good by getting out of the kitchen section with a few pans, a metal shelf (the cutting board is hanging from it) the cutting board and a tablecloth (which is still in the original wrapping as I write today.) The problem with the cutting board is that it looks so good with it's uniform wood color (that matches nicely with the cabinets I might add) and it's stylish metal trim that we don't want to use it and sully the surfaces. So we have continued using the $2 plastic cutting boards of which we have three. I refer (unfortunately for Serge) to the cutting board now when the phrase "we need this" is used. It shuts him up and saves me money.

Is this what Romaine lettuce is supposed to look like? I've never grown Romaine lettuce but I've bought it at the store hundreds of times. Funny, I've never seen a three foot head of lettuce. We've been eating the lettuce and giving it to neighbors and it tastes like store bought, so what's the problem right? The problem is that when you have garden admirers over, one is pressed to explain how the lettuce grew like that. So far the consensus is that they were planted too close to one another and therefore grew up instead of out. I like to think that I have special lettuce, standing tall in the glow of my love.

This is the pink cup. The pink cup, procured for a quarter at Pic n Save in Long Beach 8 years ago, is my favorite cup. Like Serge, I don't care much for the color, but I drink from this cup every day. This is the cup for water and I am careful to consume several per day. What a lucky cup I have. Of all the like pink cups produced, I figure mine has had the most productive life, truly fulfilling its purpose. We are grateful for each other, my pink cup and I.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


One of the prevalent paradoxes in the world of Physics/Philosophy/Mathematics is the following idea:

Suppose that you want to cross the room and touch the wall on the other side of the room. Ok, now imagine that you want to find the mid point between you and the wall. Next, you want to find the mid point of the two halves of the distance (now you have fourths of your path). Mathematically, this can be done to infinity. Therefore there are an infinitite number of points between you and the wall. It is impossible to "cross" infinity because then infinity is finite. So, you can never reach the wall.

But we do reach the wall. How is this possible?

There is no consensus on the matter.

Further, what does it mean to "touch" something? Is there something between you and the wall that you "touch"? (Physicists say yes)

Touching cannot be defined mathematically, but it is easily perceived.

These ideas lead some philosophers to claim that reality is only perception. I am because I am perceived. (I reach the wall and touch it, because I perceive it.)

Isn't our world, our lives, our minds and the present moment all just an amazing magical phenomenon?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Courageous cowards

The blog fallout from the London bombings seems to be continuing. The question that no one seems to be asking is, what part or responsibility do we have for these actions. Similar to post 9/11 sentiments that I had - what are we doing to engender so much hatred for us? (Us being loosely used here to represent the west, or the imperialists, or the capitalists) After 9/11, I discovered a lot of information about why we are hated and when I put myself into their mindset, it was easy to hate us (because, though largely unannounced in our media, we do plenty of raping and pillaging on this planet).

You know in lots of American movies, there is a formula. The antagonist usually has a very large ego, is arrogant, and often has power that takes incredible cleverness to defeat. (the protagonist is this clever person who always seems to vanquish the antagonist spectacularly at film's end, yawn) The audience buys into the collective hatred of the antagonist, waits for him/her to get his/hers, and cheers and applauds for the protagonist's final defeat of the antagonist.

In a way, that is how many of our "haters" see us: our actions are defiant, arrogant, publicly self serving (why wouldn't we do something in our best interest, right?) and though we claim to be on the side of good, we ignore the millions dying of famine and brush under the rug civilian death statistics in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. That is because at the root of it, we believe our civilians hold more value than "theirs".

I am not on the side of violence, either from them or us. What I am on the side of is understanding all the points of view, because by truly understanding our neighbors, we are less likely to want to hurt them. (I hear you now, what if we understand and try to act respectfully of this understanding and they still end up hating us? That's a good question, but I think it's contrary to human nature to hate people or countries who act altruistically. Just MHO)

And finally, I am sick of people referring to these guys as cowards. What a self delusion. In the movies, if the protagonist shoots the antagonist in the back from a hiding place, we hoot and holler just the same. Blowing up innocent people is a clever way to get our attention.

If we civilians, who vote into power politicians to represent our will (however successful that is in reality) then we must certainly accept some blame for their actions.

In every conflict, we seek out the enemy's weaknesses - how is this any different?

Call me naive, call me unpatriotic, but frankly these terrorist guys are unbelievably courageous, whatever their ends.

Using my Yoda voice: Two, it takes, to tango.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

The sky is falling

A strange summer Saturday it was yesterday. That's because it rained all day, a very unusual summer occurence. We totaled up well over an inch of rain and the temps stayed in the 60's. The problem that goes with the copious summer rains is mosquitoes. Since arriving home Thursday night, I have had 8 more bites including on my scalp, forehead, neck, armpit, and ankles. (pretty much wherever clothing was absent)

It got me to thinking about insects and rain too. We had "big drops" yesterday. You know, the kind of rain that is composed of big drops that splash when they hit the ground. (As opposed to misty, drizzly, or light rain.) What do the insects do when it rains like this? I mean, here's a drop of rain (weighing more than the insect) careening out of the sky and smacking everything with all its might. Imagine if it were raining giant human sized balloons of water, you would likely be killed if hit by one, wouldn't you?

So maybe they are killed in heavy rain. Maybe in the fly's eleven day lifespan, a thunderstorm is the equivalent to our tsunami. After the storm, the surviving mosquitoes and flies and bees gather together and try to make sense of this terrible slaughter wrought by mother nature. They talk about the senselessness, the indiscriminate nature of the killing, and question the existence and motives of God. Those who escape death share survival stories and myths are spun out of strange coincidences. (When the crow flies and the dog is near, it is then the sky that we must fear.)

Many of those lucky enough to survive had found the underside of broad leafed tree leaves and hung on as the wind howled and the tree shook. Their harrowing day of clinging for dear life paid off, though hunger and exhaustion haunt them. A new sense of urgency has also inspired them to copulate as quickly as possible to rebuild their numbers, and new waves of young insects will flutter skyward over the next couple of days.

And this roller coaster of life goes on and on, until winter.

Annual Armageddon for the insect world.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Life is a fantastic illusion

I'm reading this book right now about time, space and Einstein. It follows all the philosophical and physics developments leading to Einstein and then how all of this is being interpreted today. I find it riveting as we go through proofs that time and distance are not "real" (because they are relative quantities, therefore variable, it depends on who is observing the time or distance) In addition this leads to a view of the universe where past, present and future all exist simultaneously, that the flow of time is an illusion, that the universe is really static slices of "present" all lined up giving the impression of movement through time.

In addition, there are proofs that true motion doesn't exist at all.

These are powerful ideas and make you question the nature of existence itself. What does it mean to exist?

If you could travel faster than light, you could easily skip to the past or the future in your "present" body. (This demonstrated by proofs, though of course how to travel faster than light?)

There is enough energy in the atoms of your body to shatter the earth completely.

I'm only half way through the book and it's tough reading, but mind blowing. It's giving me a whole new way to interpret "The Matrix".

And now I am revisiting my old philosophical nemesis: Are thoughts real?

Ok, prove it.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Trip bits

Special Amenities Posted by Picasa

This was a sign in our Las Vegas hotel room. Rebekah and I were helplessly amused that we had been provided with such special amenities, such as pillows and towels. $10 for a washcloth? You're kidding right? And would you even consider stealing a bath mat? I'm surprised the toilet seat wasn't listed.

Vegas was a ball, the true "vacation" part of my vacation. The casinos are damn cold, however.

My cousin's wedding was fun and seeing the family and hanging out at the beach the following day with them was also pleasant. I am, however, peeling from poor application of the sunblock.

Catching up with Dee over wine and bowls was great, sitting in the hammock in her incredible back yard.

Visiting grandma in the assisted care home. I'm so glad I went, but it made me want to cry.

Great food and conversation with Mom and Mike, cousin Michelle and niece Ellen; mom's freshly caught fish was beyond compare.

My first 40th birthday present. 40 things for 40 years. I felt like a kid opening a few at a time in Vegas.

So busy and sorry that I missed seeing the gang at Spaghettini and dear friend Bob.

Great trip, good to be home.