How could I forget?

The kids who don’t have the instincts of an athlete, yet bravely take their turn at bat, unsure whether to hope for four unmistakable balls or pray for a miraculous hit. I love them, too, and admire them for having the guts to do what I was always too afraid to as a child. Over the years, I’ve seen their persistence and dedication pay off. It’s a beautiful thing.

For fans of The Golden Compass

If you have read and loved Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass), this may interest you.

And here is my daemon.

Ah, fixed!

That was brutal. Now to catch up!

Out of Order

After 2 years and 4 months of excellent service, my iMac up and experienced a blackout Friday. It’s at the shop awaiting fixing.

I’m on deadline. Perhaps more tomorrow.

Mozzarella Cheese Balls

They roll in the clear plastic tub, not particularly appealing at first glance. The cheap plastic turns me off, as does the somewhat murky water they soak in, and then there’s the name, “cheese balls.” The word “balls” to describe food has about as much appeal as “curd” or “log.” And yet, once I get past the unfortunate label, drain the icky water, pop one of the soft-yet-slightly-resistent pieces of cheese into my mouth, all hesistation vanishes. How to describe the taste? Not sweet, not sour, not savory, just so creamy-fresh, like a picnic on the sunniest day with the bluest sky under a picture-perfect oak tree, cows lowing in the distance. An innocence. Mozzarella in other forms seems bland, lacking the tanginess of cheddar or the excitement of something veiny and blue. But the mozzarella balls, they would be the snack of the gods – especially with some fresh basil and tomatoes, which is how I brought them to the station.

But this has nothing to do with radio. This has everything to do with K, who moved away. I used to buy her mozzarella balls because she loved them so much. Once at the Co-op, I saw her neighbors and said, “Wait!” then dashed over to the deli, grabbed a tub and sent it home with them to deliver to her.

I wish I’d brought her a feast of cheese and fruit and bread and wine before she left, but I’m so bad at goodbyes, was so sad and angry that she had to move away. I said almost nothing rather than risk saying the wrong thing. And she had other friends helping her, so I kept my tears to myself and let her leave without even a hug. Buying those cheese balls made me think of her, which made me happy, right before breaking my heart.

Sore throat

Ugh. Woke up with a head full of phlegm and a throat that feels like I’ve been hanging out in a smoky bar for hours.
No radio.
No biking.

I did clean the downstairs. I think I will lie down with some tea and a book now.

days I remember all my life

I have Elvis Costello’s version of “Days” – it’s originally a Kinks song – stuck in my head. (Find it on Kojak Variety or, more popularly, off the “Until the End of the World Soundtrack.”

Keeping a journal has never been a strong point of mine. First, because the pace of my life rarely allows it; second, because I get bored wallowing in my feelings. However, one year, I kept an online journal (a private one) faithfully. I recently scanned through it and was surprised by how much pleasure I took in being able to remember specifics about my life that would otherwise have dissolved into the general soup. So I’m going to try recording my life for a week and see where it goes. Please excuse the verb tense inconsistency.

6 a.m. Alarm went off. I loathe alarms of the beeping type, which is what this was. The clock radio sits in the bedroom, much nicer, but too far away if I’m sleeping on the couch.

6:15 a.m. Left for the Co-op, dressed, but with hair unbrushed. Like it matters in Arcata before sunrise. Gathered breakfast (frozen organic waffles, a rare buy, butter and apples) and lunch needs (seitan, jam, bread) and then some. Stopped to check out the T-S’ mountain lion attack story; admired the wife’s bravery and passion in fighting off the attacking cat; was saddened by the follow-up killing of two mountain lions in the area.

6:45 a.m. Home, waffles in toaster, food processor put to work. Go over Nick’s insulin/carbs. Folded laundry. Said nothing about the length (or lack of) of Chelsea’s skirt. Made sure Kaylee had everything for her lunch. Finished making “chicken”-salad sandwiches for Bobby and I.

The frozen waffles made breakfast progress more quickly than usual. We actually left the house on time, without being rushed.

7:40 a.m. Kids to bus stop, school. On the way, I asked Nick if he was sure he had everything. He realized at that point he’d forgotten his insulin and blood sugar monitoring kit. I remained calm, even though this was the first morning all week I had a little bit of time between kids and KSLG. Or rather, did.

8 a.m. Back home. Cleaned up lunch mess, had a moment with Bobby before he split for work, gathered Nick’s things, my own stuff.

8:50 a.m. Back to Arcata. On the way to Sunny Brae, I noticed a guy hitchhiking at the 101 S onramp, holding a sign, “CR.” I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, but since I was going that way, I decided to pick him up if he was still there after I dropped Nick’s kit off.

9:10 a.m. He was still there, but I didn’t see him until I was already making the turn on the opposite side of the street. I felt bad, so I exited the freeway, circled the traffic circle (or is it a roundabout?) and went back for him. His name is Sal. He was grateful and not scary at all. I considered calling John to warn him I’d picked up a hitchhiker and that if I didn’t show up, he should alert the authorities. But, like I said, the guy was not so scary. Really nice, even. We chatted about CR until I delivered him there.

9:45 a.m. Arrived at KSLG. Discussed human-predator relations with John on air. We were divided in our stances. We then moved on to the household hints portion of the show. Microwaving your sponge for four minutes on high power will kill most all bacteria on it. Please make sure it’s soaking wet first, and remember, it will be hot when done.

10 a.m. I am your KSLG radio personality, scoping out music and other news for your entertainment. I also check and respond to email as necessary. I drink lots of coffee. Some water.

Noon: Freestyle Friday action. Today I play music by bands coming to the area. Lots of good ones on the way, including a band featuring Ry Cooder’s son and a way hot keytar playing chick singer – and whose album was produced by Ry Cooder. (Coworker says name of band, Hello Stranger, reminds him of SNL “Hey, you!” skit.)

Eat yummy sandwich at some point.

2 p.m. Off to Arcata. Alternate between Eye-related CDs and KHUM on the way. Nice to get some non-KSLG music in to clear the mind. Love that R.L. Burnside. Thank you, Larry. Remind self to email people about the DM3/Hillstomp show coming up at Jambalaya. The table’s already up to 12. No surprise, considering the love these bands inspire.

3 p.m. Eye. Work on layout in between phone calls and people coming into the office, such as the man who shows up – “Love your paper!” – and explains, with great enthusiasm, that he found an OES laptop sitting on the bumper of an SUV for sale in the Uniontown parking lot. We refer him to APD, but after he leaves, reconsider that perhaps we should have offered him the chance to leave it with us. The teenagers who hang in the hall nook are especially loud today. Check in with Chelsea via cell phone.

5 p.m. Friday moment at the Alibi. I indulge my craving for a Black Russian.

5:45 p.m. Pick up Nick and friend. (The juxtaposition of these last two actions does not look very good, I notice. Should I point out that I was nowhere near impaired by the drinking of said Black Russian? Or would that come across as protesting too much?) Stop at VX for The Guardian. Cheesy, yes; Ashton Kuchter, yes – but I love the Coast Guard and will stick up for Kevin Costner to a point.

As I walk to the counter with the movie, the VX guys are shaking their heads at the inanity of a movie one of them is holding, essentially saying, “I can’t believe people rent this crap!” Of course, they were talking about the same movie I was holding in my hands. (Note: the VX people are great.)

I acknowledge the possible badness of the flick – “C’mon! It’ll be like the Coast Guard version of Point Break!” – which amuses them, so no hard feelings. The fact that I still have Troy out makes for more embarrassment – “Really, I don’t just rent Hollywood cheese all the time! My son needed it for his Greek studies!” I am relieved when the clerk says I owe a late fee on The Corporation – “See! We watch good, serious stuff, too!” Thus semi-validated, I make a break for the car, then make arrangements to get together with some other folks to watch This Movie About America’s Unsung Heroes.

6 p.m. Make dinner. Low-effort tonight, just pasta. Salad if they want it. I read more of Pretties, fold more clothes, wash a few dishes, clean up. Check in with Chelsea again.

7:30 p.m. Nick’s blood sugar goes low as we’re about out the door. We deal with it. I worry: Will I ever be able to get our lives into enough of a routine to keep priorities, priorities? Am I a bad mom for all the chaos I allow, in some ways even cultivate? We leave.

7:50 p.m. Stop at Westwood Market and once again marvel at the 1975 feel. Chips and beer.

8:10 p.m. Friends’ house. Kids bounce off walls. Everyone eats, drinks, keeps a running commentary through the movie, which is exactly what one would expect of a movie about, “A high school swim champion with a troubled past enrolls in the U.S. Coast Guard’s ‘A’ School, where legendary rescue swimmer Ben Randall teaches him some hard lessons about loss, love, and self-sacrifice.” Totally fun. Many blood sugar checks during this time: low, okay, okay, low, okay, high, high, okay.

11 p.m. Pick up the teenager.

11:15 p.m. Home, kids to bed. Make tea. Read The Pretties. Fall asleep reading. Cold; no fire tonight.

Last Thursday

After drooling over the buoy reports all during my radio shift, I did something I’ve been needing to do for months. I bought a new wetsuit. Amazing how with two jobs I can go from broke to OK in a day. Also, I’d been building up credit at Greenhouse, so I was a bit ahead, then with my KSLG paycheck (yay!), my moment finally came.

For months I’ve been surfing in a tattered, holey, patched, worn-out, two-year-old suit. When the lining first started deteriorating, I could handle it. When the seam split in the lower back, I glued a block of neoprene over it to prevent my own back from becoming stiff in the constant cold. Wetsuits are a petroleum-based, chlorine-treated rather nasty bit of business, so I try to make them last. (Patagonia’s working on a rather spiffy, far less environmentally damaging wetsuit, but it’s still in the early stages of availability.) The last few times I went out, though, I never warmed up. What was left of the inner lining resembled Sharpei skin. Water leaked into all the seams. The suit was better than nothing, but definitely moving closer to “nothing” with each use. In 45-50 degree water, a person needs more.

So after KSLG, I rushed home, loaded the car, Nick, the dog, and drove to Greenhouse. I knew what I wanted, I knew my size, and I was in-and-out in six minutes, which left me plenty of time for an evening session at Camel Rock. What a wonderful thing, to have something that works! Much like getting a functioning car after driving something that breaks down on a regular basis, that has all kinds of small failures that make the driving experience unpleasant. So the upside of doing without is, when you get something of quality, you appreciate the sudden improvement far more than a person used to having does. I think it’s that “Suffering builds character” theory.

But on to the session. Happy and warm, I nonetheless felt pangs of guilt for being in the water instead of tending to the numerous other responsibilities I could’ve should’ve been attending to: the house, the Eye, writing something new for the Muddy’s Hot Cup spoken word. I have so much going on in my life at all times that doing anything always corresponds with failing to do something else. (Right now I am simultaneously blogging and listening to music for today’s North by Northwest feature.)

The feeling passed though. All it took was one wave, one look at a sky turning to blue velvet in the east and fracturing into pastels in the west. A happy boy and dog on the beach. As it does, everything that didn’t matter receded; everything that does emerged in sharp focus, crystal clear.

desperately holding on

to these thoughts in my head, so when I have time to write, they will still be there – blue velvet sky, fractured pastel sunset, the glow of a still-innocent little boy, the frustration inherent in parenting a teenager, the resigned sweetness of the middle child, the wise and heartbreaking words of Tillie Olsen, a new wetsuit, an old inability to master my fortunately-mild-yet-still-stunting self-destructive habits – and the world, what of the world?

last bit about the ol' checking accout

I’m sure I’ll catch up; I always do. Besides, tax return time is coming right up!

But this reminded me of a piece I wrote some time ago, so I thought I’d post it.

“Insomnia #3”

Finding the poetry in love affairs comes easily. The river as metaphor, the cry of the geese as wildness incarnate, the passion that bursts like overripe fruit upon the birth of a child, these I can revel in as easily as a dolphin riding a sun-drenched wave.

Tragedy, or the specter of it, lends immediately to elegance in words. Injustice awakens eloquence. Even certain small moments glow with universal meaning: two hands touch as both people reach for the pot of just-brewed coffee, the sunrise slanting orange and pink between the blinds, the trill of the birds lightly in the distance; the laughter, exhuberant, of a small child who has spied a butterfly paused on a sidewalk crack; the nervous look on the face of a first-time Little Leaguer as dad and granddad look on; the baking of bread.

But where is the poetry in the small struggles, the ones that singly may be slight, but together overwhelm the way water eventually wears away even most stoic stone?

Where is the lyricism in checking a bank balance online to discover the $3 check I wrote went through right before my deposit cleared and now an overdraft charge has left me $22 poorer and that $22 blow means I now have no money to put gas in my empty-tank car so how are I supposed to drive to all the various places a responsible working mother-type needs to go to?

And I can’t really expect a room full of strangers, or even friends, to suffer my complaints as I still have my health and my children’s health and a lovely home on the beach and a job, a job that even though it barely pays at least has good perks, and a husband who says I’m beautiful as often as I’ll let him and what’s $22 anyway when millions of people are starving and dying while my husband paints a sea dragon on my new custom-made surfboard a friend carved as a favor.

After all, I do know how good I have it with the kids and the husband and the house and the surfing and the lifestyle, but then again I also know the whole enchilada balances both on fate’s whim with regard to my luck and my own strained and rather questionable ability to accomplish absolutely everything work-wise and mom-wise and wife-wise and homemaker-wise that needs to be done every day to maintain the front I’ve so successfully established and this is what it’s like living on the edge of zero and this is why I can’t sleep.

Because I know the effects of that $22 loss only begin with the gas and will continue into the PGE bill and snowball onto the oh-so-inconveniently due car registration and wouldn’t I know my son needs field trip money for school today, right now, and so I sigh and write another check and pray that this week at least I get to the bank before that check does and I wonder, again, what ever happened to the poetry in my life?


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