5 Things to Know Before You Go Out Dancing

1. What do you mean, you don’t go out dancing? That’s crazy! Dancing is fun, fun, fun! And good for you – bumps up the ol’heartrate, increases physical endurance and provides the social contact necessary for maintaining a positive outlook in this messed-up world. If you’re a guy, know this: women prefer a man who can get his groove on. (I think we all know why that’s true, but just in case, allow George Bernard Shaw to explain, “Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music.” Mmmhmm!)

2. However, you men people, also know this: No one wants your creepy ass rubbing up against her thigh, butt or any other body part. What makes you have a creepy ass,  you ask? Because you’re rubbing up against some woman who does not want you to do that! No means no means no and a woman is far more likely to like you if you stay on the side of fun that includes respect. Having to point this out seems ridiculous, but I spent part of last month’s 100mph Soul Party running interference between some skeevy dude and my girlfriends.

3. Also in the stating-the-obvious column: wear shoes you can wear all night long. No, not your gym shoes – unless you’re going to bust out your best Electric Boogaloo moves – because sexy is good, but if you’ve strapped in and your pinky toes are going numb before you’ve even finished applying your lipstick, that’s not a good sign. Dazzle people with your confidence and they’ll never notice what’s on your feet.

4. The best dance parties aren’t always the most popular ones. Sold out shows mean wall-to-wall people, which means you can’t move and also that you’ve become a C & C Sweat Factory. Weeknights offer more than you might think: for example, you can get your skank on this Monday at the Jam; rock out to some country soul on Tuesday at Hum Brews; Wednesday, Nocturnum goes all Whomp Whomp with “Dubstep/Dnb/Glitch/HipHop/BadassBassDriven/LazerFilled/WaistMotivating/FootTapping”; Cherae Heights throws back to the ’80s and ’90s on Thursday; you’ve got barn dancin’ at the Bayside Grange on Friday, where they will even teach you to dance; and Saturday’s list of body-moving possibilities presents you with so much choice you might stress out about which dance party to attend! But you know what’s a great antidote to stress? Dancing! You can also rally a bunch of friends and take over any place with floor space and a decent jukebox. Hell, have a slumber party and Spotify up all your old faves – Madonna’s “Physical Attraction” and AC/DC’s “TNT” being two on my all-time list.

5. Don’t overdo the booze. You might think you need to get drunk to loosen up, but the difference between dancing and flailing can often be traced back to an unfortunate decision to answer, “Yeah! I’ll have another!” Figure out the pace that works to keep you happy on the floor without being on the floor and stick to it. Drink lots of water! Don’t do shots. (In fact, unless you’re toasting the dead, don’t ever do shots.)

Bonus: Still unsure? Find some inspiration listening to Mike Dronkers’ Midday Dance Party every Friday at noon on KHUM 104.3/104.7. You can bop around the office or in the privacy of your own home! If you absolutely need to take some lessons first – or you’re ready to step up to actual steps – you’re in luck! We live somewhere people love to dance! Here’s a beginning look at what’s offered, but check out other publications and flyers around town.

Thanksgiving, Beach Friday, Saturday morning

I forgot to be especially grateful on Thanksgiving. For one, the lessons learned in CR’s Native American studies class stuck and so the “celebration” always tastes slightly off to me despite attempts to make it a simple moment of food, family and gratitude. For another, I worried more about who was going to be where and how to make it a lovely fun time with such a small portion of my people.

Love it.

However, as these things do, it all worked out. Bobby drove 50 miles round-trip in the morning to collect the girls while I put together a giant salad, veggie pot pie and crust for Nick’s mocha pecan filling. Nick helped clean the house. Sunshine streamed in through our many windows. Everyone returned to the smells of baking bread, carmelizing onions and wafting rosemary. Bobby put together butternut squash soup and the mocha pecan pie turned out to be the best one yet. K’s boyfriend and friend joined us later in the day for several rounds of Bananagrams interrupted only by texts from far away friends and family wishing us a happy day. After Chelsea and the teens left for other celebrations, Bobby, Nick and I left the warmth of the house for King Salmon, where we clambered around the rocks and watched waves smash through the harbor entrance, 12-foot high explosions barreling into the bay. We returned to home, then to the neighbor’s house for more pie – ours plus pumpkin and apple, coffee and tea. The night wrapped up next to the fire, mug of tea in hand, with several episodes of Trailer Park Boys, eliciting guffaws from the guys and giggles from me, and then I finally dove into 1Q84, a birthday gift I’ve been anxious to start reading. Not only did the prose pull me into the story from the start, but the book is amazingly pleasing to the touch, like high-end bedsheets or soft, warm skin.

Clearly, I have much to be especially grateful for.

The boy

This continued into “Beach” (not “Black”) Friday, when yet more sunshine demanded a walk over the dunes to the ocean. I plucked end-of-season huckleberries along the way. Sandy, our 13-year-old yellow lab mix, who has aged notably over the past year, grown wobbly, deaf and occasionally incontinent, nonetheless cavorts so happily along the shoreline that from far away, people still take her for a puppy.

True, a fair amount of argument over curfews and other rules took place between the teenage boy and those of us responsible for his safety, but at some point, we moved on to better conversation – and to a “leftovers” party, where music and champagne ushered in the evening. (One bottle of champagne was from 1970 and no, that doesn’t mean it was nicely aged. It tasted like sherry and I thought I might die from some sort of alcohol poisoning, even texted a few people goodbyes in case, but I awoke alive and without a hangover, and wow, am I thankful for that.)

This morning, my appreciation of life decreased slightly when Nick’s glucometer popped up 398. That’s a lousy way to start the day. However, his blood sugar check since confirms the insulin is working, he’s dropping to a more appropriate level and thank goodness we have all this technology and access to medical advice that allows us to keep the greatest diabetic threats at bay.

Also, the fog lingers around the house this morning, making for a perfect atmosphere in which to cozy up with my book in a nest of pillows, Earl Grey at hand, nothing but quiet for a while yet.

Thank you.

Humboldt County stuff I like #1

In addition to the ocean, beaches, bay and forest, I also love several local businesses/people. I don’t have gobs of excess money to spend – especially after covering food for the family, medical bills and my bar tab, but here’s some places I go. Here’s a rather random smattering (more to come as I get inspired – I like a lot of places and people!):

Praxis Fitness Keeping me in fighting shape – cause I need it! Not just to rock my short skirts, but also to surf better, bike farther, dance longer. I leave Praxis feeling awesome, which makes going there all the more worthwhile.

Cassandra at Parker’s Beauty Bar A good cut makes your look. Cassandra keeps me stylish. Not only does she excel at cuts and color, but Parker’s in general is a blast. Complimentary beer and wine, plus fun reads, from Amy Sedaris- and Posh Spice-authored books to celebrity gossip mags.

Rebecca at Bloom For all your waxing needs. And when I say “all,” I mean “all.” And that’s all I’m saying about that.

Casey’s Skin Care Studio Also for waxing, plus facials and more. Casey is a class act.

L C Nails The closest thing you can get locally to a San Francisco mani-pedi. Also massage chairs! (Note, one option on the massage chair triggers a knob nailing you right in the tailbone. Or thereabouts. Watch out! Otherwise, fun.)

Oberon Best Bloody Marys in Eureka, hands down. Also a lovely atmosphere and attentive service. I mostly go for the Bloodys plus snack as dinner gets a bit pricey.

Cafe Nooner Everything is good, especially the Bleu Noon sandwich. Warm days, you can eat outside.

Jambalaya A wide-open space, pool table, stage for the bands, hearty food and cocktails. Both birthday parties I’ve had here have excelled.

Go Go Bistro I should go here more, but it’s inconveniently located in Henderson Center. However, the mac’n’cheese makes me swoon, so….)

Overlooked with John Matthews Because while you can listen to the same music you listened to in high school, you’re so much more interesting when you follow along with John.

Lost Coast Outpost Hank doesn’t write enough, but when he does, it’s so worth it. In the meantime, stay entertained with news and music from KHUM, KSLG and The Point right here. Plus I contribute.

Obligatory Seven-O-Heaven mention here.

Humboldt Baykeeper Because they kick ass at making sure our bay stays healthy and protected. Executive Director Beth Werner blows my mind with her smarts, her passion and her modesty. She’s my hero.

Yes, it’s an indulgence-heavy list. I also donate regularly to Doctors Without Borders and pick up a lot of trash while walking my old yellow lab on the beach. So there.

(Addendum: Those last couple lines may come off defensive and flip. I don’t mean to be either – the hypocrisy of professing to care about others and then spending “extra” money on anything but charitable causes troubles me, but I’m not vying for sainthood yet, just trying to balance being good with having fun.)

Random gratitude, flagellation (self)

Here are things I am grateful for:

  • the willingness of my husband to always strive toward excellence and his support as I aim for the same. Also, he’s sexy.
  • the general good health of my children, even with Nick’s diabetes taken into consideration.
  • the cohesiveness of our admittedly imperfect family unit.
  • the sweetness of our (old!) dog and usefulness of our cats.
  • living at the beach in a house full of warmth and light.
  • food on the table.
  • my body working.
  • my brain working (despite occasional trip-ups indicating the end might be nearer than expected!).
  • man, I have great friends.
  • also, lots of books.
  • the big ol’ocean waiting outside my door and all the solitude/renewal it offers.
  • an amazing job helping to protect that ocean.
  • fun times on the radio and with the writerly folks.
  • that most of my biggest problems are self-inflicted and therefore, solvable.
Because sometimes I struggle to click my mind into place. I am easily tipped into worry when things go awry. Or rather, my bent towards perfectionism means I can never rest assured I’ve done enough, am enough. Intellectually, I know better. And I don’t panic! But certain challenges (hello, parenting! etc.) and mistakes (oops, totally forgot to account for that auto-debited student loan payment when figuring out the month’s budget) trigger, or rather reinforce, my sense of self as a complete and total loser.
OK, that’s an exaggeration. On a good day, I can enumerate my successes along with my failures. I know I’m a good mom and person and all that. But somedays, a certain weariness leaves me distraught that I can’t be better. I don’t pick up hitchhikers, which I am pretty sure makes me a bad person. I still can’t sew. If society collapsed, I have few skills that would enable us to survive in a lawless, wild land. My oldest daughter struggles to find her place  – clearly, I must have screwed up along the way. I see the ways in which I should change, all of which revolve around being less impulsive, less prone to saying YES all the time, less treating life as if it’s one giant party to embrace, less pursuit of happiness to counterbalance my despair at how screwed up the world is. I need to be less optimistic that things will work out. Pessimists must be better at saving money. I should be more worthy of this life I’m so privileged to lead.

A circuitous route

Tuesday, Sept. 7: I boarded a plane at ACV, landed at SFO, BARTed over to the Hyatt Embassy for the four-day California World Oceans conference. Half of the attendees were young, attractive, childless and well-traveled with multiple degrees and stunningly accomplished. The other half was older, attractive, had perhaps a child or two, and were even more well-traveled with even greater education and stunningly accomplished. I am the same age as the older half; awareness of my lack of accomplishment undercut my self-esteem. I spent the most time with the younger half; awareness of the toll age has taken on the ol’ face and bod diminished my self-confidence. Other than that, the conference served up many opportunities in which to wonder why I did so much damn partying in high school instead of focusing on my grades, dammit, and now my poor besotted brain is… besotted.

But, we did go out for some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had!

(Lest anyone worry I’m in a fragile state, let me reassure you that I am okay with my life choices and happy to be where I am today.)

I also drank too much one evening and found myself performing karaoke for the first time ever. A proud record, destroyed by that demon alcohol. Specifically, by the cotton-candy-tasting pink cocktail at that Thai bar in the Embarcadero. That’s what triggered the downward spiral.

Friday, Sept. 10: Flew home, helped host our Surfrider Shindig at ATL. Thanks to Greenhouse Boardshop, we raised another $1,000 or so — excellent. I’d written what I thought was a decently motivational speech, but failed to predict the volume of noise (read: volume of children) I’d be speaking over. In the manner of great speechgivers everywhere, I cut my losses and cut it short. Nonetheless, a promising-looking Volunteer Coordinator candidate sought me out after, so, hopefully, mission accomplished.

Saturday, Sept. 11: Loaded up family (four out of five) and set off on a road trip to Gustine, home of the world’s largest Portuguese festa, celebrating Our Lady of Miracles. We missed the cow parade, but did arrive in time for the Parade of Queens. By blood or marriage, my husband is related to almost everyone in town and so, thus, are we. The crusty old ranchers swooped up Nick, a veritable city boy by Gustine standards, and took him out to shoot rabbits (I found that part out later) and to the bloodless bullfights. Both, I hear, were quite exciting. Kaylee and I opted for kitchen table chat with the female side of the family. Everyone ate for days. The Central Valley is nearly unbearable with its heat.

Tuesday, Sept. 14: We left Gustine with loads of extra food, including a fine vinegary pepper relish, and arrived in San Francisco. Clement Street, looking for a quick lunch before Nick’s diabetes check up. Underwhelmed by Bagan’s Burmese. At the check-up, the doctor and nurses scolded us for not being more attentive to the number of Nick’s lows. On the go, I hadn’t realized he’d had so many. The bad mom alarm sounded in my head. Complicating matters, since morphing into a teenager, he’s less inclined to keep us as informed or let us help — classic teenager behavior, but with regards to the diabetes, one we need to resolve quickly. The doctor adjusted his insulin amounts and we discussed ways to stay better connected; sometimes the distance between Manila and SF is so great, we forget to utilize those resources

Thursday, Sept. 15: I drive to Sacramento after missing the train. I missed the train because in my attempt to BART to Richmond, I ended up in Millbrae instead. Apparently, just getting on the right line isn’t enough. The train must also be traveling in the correct direction. My friend texts from Humboldt. He needs to borrow a board. The waves are really clean and fun.

Friday, Sept. 16: I fly to L.A. and back, have lunch in Marina Del Rey. Back in the City, the party starts. Bobby’s uncle’s 70th birthday. Cousins galore. We’re staying at the Fairmont Hotel. It’s at the top of a very steep hill. The kind of hill where you think, “Oh, good, only one more block.” And then you think, “I am never going to make it up this last block.”

Saturday, Sept. 17: Dinner in the Tonga Room aka an astounding and upscale version of Disneyland’s Tiki Room. Thatched huts, a band playing on a boat, drinks with umbrellas, the works. (I will post photos when we finally get home.) The kids hang out with their numerous teenage cousins, a rare treat. My heart warms with love for family, the extended versions of which have defined our weekends, bookended these days of travel, occasioned it.

Today: We will pack up and leave, finally return to home, to Humboldt, where I hear rain awaits us. I hope the waves are waiting, too.

Starting the year off (mostly) right

Switched from vodka tonics to water early enough during New Year’s Eve to have avoided a hangover, but a nightmare woke me in the early hours. I shook it off, tried to shake it off, stumbled into the kitchen for Benedryl and Advil, then returned to sleep. The Benedryl worked too well — I must find a happy medium between insomnia and oversleeping.

We’d let Nick stay at a friend’s, something he’s been wanting to do more often, a situation that is complicated by our diabetes concerns. He strives to be normal; we struggle to bend circumstances to allow him to be.

Made pancakes for the girls, apple juice and cornmeal. Not as sweet as they usually are. I blame the filtered apple juice — I think the unfiltered carmelizes so much better. The pancakes weren’t bad, but anything less than amazingly yummy is failure.

Had better luck in the afternon. (more…)

White wine, pumpkin pie and Van Helsing (aka why I love VX)

Somehow I don’t think polishing off a bottle of white wine and two pieces of pumpkin pie meshes with my get-healthy plan. (more…)

So very, very busy

Trillium Falls Trillium Falls

Four days of fair weather bliss: a wine-flavored Thanksgiving with neighbors, a day off from radio spent traversing the dunes, a hike on the Trillium Falls trail, a miraculously easy deadline that allowed for a hike through Manila’s beach pine forest and a game of Frisbee with K and Nick.

That ended Monday with the return of the work week – and what a week it is. As typically happens in the holiday season, the number of arts, music and theatre events increases dramatically before tapering off during Christmas and the month after. The only reason I can conceive of fitting it all within three pages is because somehow, I always do.

Email sorted, I can move on to drawing insulin, another blood sugar check and, assuming all’s good, leaving the peace and warmth of home for a dash over the bridges to see Blitzen Trapper – a great indie pop-folk band from Portland.

I love seeing bands and plays and holiday shows, but I confess, I’m sort of looking forward to January and not needing an excuse to hunker down.



Today is my birthday

On the plus side so far:
Bobby made me a lovely breakfast of potatoes, English muffins, strawberries and coffee.
The girls made pretty/funny cards.
My friends sent amazingly touching e-mails.
I have an interview with Viva Voce at noon.
I am having lunch with JDM later, followed by an indulgent appointment at Kalos salon courtesy of my mom. (Just a wee bit of pampering.)
My dear friend LN has something planned for this evening. A “surprise” party of sorts.

On the con side:
My cell phone is inexplicably dead.
Nick’s blood sugar has been running high. He called from school feeling ill. (Bobby went to pick him up.)
I forgot to renew my driver license.

Overall, a great start to the day with only manageable challenges. I trust the day will unfold in a most positive manner.

(Some people might think celebrating a birthday at 38 is silly, but I’m always happy to have an excuse for extra love and celebration!)

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