Sliding Doors. Sliding Lives. 

Watching a show that delves into the lives of couples in , I see couples that have waited to marry and they have younger children. They have money and oceanfront property and don’t seem to have the petty struggles that contributed to the unraveling of my marriage. I’m envious of their first-world problems.  

Divine Intervention

  26 years ago today I was 19 and working at Global Travel Too in the Haight District of San Francisco. I drove that day because of the World Series, normally taking Bart and Muni. I normally left at 5pm and was on the Bay Bridge about 5 minutes later, but that day an obviously homeless guy came in from Golden Gate Park just before 5 wanting a quote for a flight home. I was really irritated, wanting to get to where my friends were waiting to watch the A’s crush the Giants in the World Series. At 5:06 the quake struck. My makeshift desk (plywood and cinder blocks) collapsed on me as I dove underneath it. When I came out after the quake the guy was gone and my old building was crumbling – dust and cracks were appearing everywhere. I ran out of the building with my co-workers in time to see the other tenants escape before the doors buckled and it shrunk by 1/2 a floor. After we all caught our breath I got in my car to go home. Going the way I usually did, I saw that they had closed the freeway, but I really didn’t know why. It was only later that I learned that the Cypress Structure had pancaked on itself, crushing cars and killing their occupants. Had I not stayed late I would have been on the bridge. It took me nearly 9 hours to get home that night and I saw some surreal things in the midst of the situation, but from that day to this I never mind detours or things that make me late. I count it as divine intervention, like my homeless angel, and say a silent thank you for possibly keeping me safe. 

A Year In Review

012Averaging two blog posts per year isn’t bad, is it? Nah. I’m good. Considering I ripped down all the websites I own including this one, I would say that’s pretty good. I just got around to bringing this one back up – partly for nostalgia’s sake and partly because I’m a raging narcissist and need some outlet for my wordy word things.

When we last left our heroine…

  • I was with my Mom in California
  • I was working to expand my client base, after working with a single client for a couple of years (Note to self: Never. Again.)
  • I was cold, and out of good coffee a lot.

And Nine Months Later…

  • Back in Austin, working full-time with a fantastic company in a completely non-travel sector (Biotech, what?)
  • Dreaming of buying a new house and creating Pinterest boards with dreamy french decor
  • Driving my ultimate driving machine… like a boss.
  • Gluten-free and loving it.
  • The girls are settled – one at college and one graduated. Living between them is a dream. I get to see them pretty much whenever I want and we text all the time.
  • I am completely immersed in higher education. Working on my PMP Certification, CPLP Certification, Salesforce Certified Admin, Salesforce Certified Developer AND a Bachelors Degree in Business so I can start on my MBA. Leaning toward Pepperdine’s program for that.

I never thought I would be happy in a cube with a badge to get me in a building. Yet, here I am, loving it. My co-workers are sweet, my boss is a dream and my work is interesting. Couldn’t be happier.

Bob Schneider is My New Jam

Woke up in a stupor
Guess it’s time to face the pooper
Sometimes I feel like superman
Sometimes I’m just recuperating, yeah

My head is twisting in it’s cage
My mind feels like a twenty gage
I hope it’s just a passing stage
My heart’s not red, it’s Beige

And it’s days like this that burn me
Turn me inside out and learn me
Not to tell you anything I think I know
But I think I’ll tell you all that I know

Try to tell you all about it
Thought you might’ve, Lord, I doubt it
Everyday’s a waste, I know
And everyday’s a funeral

Cutting out I’m feeling lost
Lost my mind I’m Mr. Frost
Collected all the evidence
I’m off the edge, I’m on the fence

And it’s days like this that burn me
Turn me inside out and learn me
Not to tell you anything I think I know
Well, I think I’ll tell you all that I know

I don’t want to be alone, I want to be a stone
I wanna sink to the bottom of the ocean
And lie there with you ’til I’m gone

At the bottom of the big blue sea, just you and me
At the bottom of the big blue sea
The bottom of the big blue sea, just you and me
At the bottom of the big blue sea

I know I’ll never know nobody
Better than I know myself
But I can’t even figure out
Just what the fuck I’m all about

I’m sinking, I’m swimming, no wait a minute
I’m drowning, no I ain’t kidding around
Sometimes I think I’m gonna make it
Sometimes I fake it

And it’s days like this that burn me
Turn me inside out and learn me
Not to tell you anything I think I know
Well, I think I’ll tell you all that I know

Anywhere and everywhere
Made up my mind it’s getting weird
It’s queer to think it might not
Get much better than today I fear

Won’t know true happiness
I tried so hard, I did my best
My best wasn’t good enough
Oh God, I hate this stuff

And it’s days like this that burn me
Turn me inside out and learn me
Not to tell you anything I think I know
Well, I think I’ll tell you all that I know

I don’t want to be alone, I want to be a stone
I wanna sink to the bottom of the ocean
And lie there, laugh there with you
Laugh there with you till I’m gone

At the bottom of the big blue sea, just you and me
At the bottom of the big blue sea
The bottom of the big blue sea, just you and me
At the bottom of the big blue sea

And it’s days like this that burn me
Turn me inside out and learn me
I said, it’s days like this that burn me
Turn me inside out and learn me

And it’s days like this that burn me
Turn me inside out and learn me
And not to tell you anything I think I know

Can Anyone Spare A Time Machine?

Every single Summer of my childhood I looked forward to the last day of school, knowing that within 2-3 days after that final day my Grandma GG would show up and whisk me off for “THE SUMMER” to a place where it stayed light until 10pm, fireflies lit our night sky, we could see every star in the universe, we stayed out late to play freeze tag, I worked at an ice cream parlor with her, and I had an endless supply of quarters for Defender and Skeeball in the village arcade. fleetreview

Growing up, nothing much changed from year to year. The same kids came back, like a refugee summer camp. I had friends from the Palisades – the neighborhood where my GG had lived since the 1950’s, friends from Orange County whose parents owned major Jaguar and Cadillac car dealerships, friends that were kids of rock stars, movie stars and TV stars escaping the heat of Los Angeles. None of this was important to me. Summer was the great equalizer. Sure they were rich, but could they outrun Donny Loth? Sure their parents were important back in 90210, but could they beat my high score at Ms. Pacman?

I loved my childhood in Lake Arrowhead. I am particularly homesick this summer, for many reasons. Mostly, I miss my Grandma and she absolutely loved summer. We would walk the 3 blocks from her tiny cottage to the lake and camp out at Orchard Bay, eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches and drinking Shasta Grape soda until our tongues were purple. We were the first ones there, and the last to leave. Sometimes my cousin Jeremy would join us and those were the best days of all. She would let us wander into the orchard behind the beach and eat bitter crab apples and there was a secret swing to play on. I couldn’t go by myself, but if Jeremy went with me, we could go.

sportsman

One time Jeremy and I were in the water and since GG was the best playmate ever and could do handstands in the water, we called her – over and over and over, “Grandma! Grandma! Grandma!” She was on the beach with her best friend Pauline Loth drinking Olympia Beer and just had her hair set to go to the Sportsman that night with her husband, my Fafa. Finally, she exploded in exasperation, “If you yell Grandma ONE MORE TIME… you’re gonna get it!” – which we knew meant a smack on the butt with a flip flop.

Daring the sting of the dreaded flip flip, but now also knowing she wouldn’t come in the water to get him, Jeremy replied, “What would you like us to call you? OLYMPIA BEER?” – and that was her name for the rest of the summer and for many others, too, shortened to just “Oly.”

Jeremy and I would be trotted around the mountains to her favorite places – the Yacht Club, Sportsman, Monte Corona and the Royal Oak were her top picks, but the Little Villager across the street from the Royal Oak in Blue Jay was mine. Owned by Betty Pekus, my Godmother, it was the place where I had my first and only “Boy Cheese Sandwich” – so named because Jeremy thought I was saying “Girl Cheese Sandwich” when ordering, and felt it was quite sexist. Only the Cedar Glen Malt Shoppe with it’s super-thick peanut butter shakes could woo me from the Little Villager, but long summers insured time for all of the best things to be crammed in, over and over again.

My GG was a little sassy, and I’m pretty sure it’s embedded in my girls. Every year she would “adopt-a-dock” – which I later learned was code for trespassing. Her rationale was that she lived there full time, owned lake rights and had lost her own dock in her divorce from my Fafa. So, she would stake out the lake, sometimes in Emerald Bay, sometimes Orchard Bay, and figure out who wasn’t using their dock that summer and move right in with her folding chairs and pink floating rafts. By the 4th of July she knew she was home free if no one showed up to claim it. If vacation renters came up for the weekend, she would play dumb, bluff if she needed to, and name drop if anyone questioned her. She always pulled it off and until I was about 16, I didn’t know any better. She always told me, “Oh, so-and-so asked me to keep an eye on it this summer for them.” cafe

I miss my lake. I miss the later summers of the Blue Jay Jazz Festival, and the Rotary Wine Tastings. I miss our friends Bev and Jay and dinners at the Chef’s Inn with Randall. I miss being on my Fafa’s old wooden Chris Craft and eating corndogs with ketchup from the Dam Grill at the North Shore Marina. I miss Tavern Bay and the smell of pine trees, and the honeybees that invaded my the tree in GG’s front yard. I miss honeysuckle and the fireworks over the lake.I miss skiing with Shaneen on her boat, “Kenyaketchme.”  I miss my Grandma’s old friends from the Elk’s Lodge – Mickey Haskins, Betty Baumann and Betty Pekus, my Godmother, whom I called my Dodo. The “why” of that nickname has long since faded in shadow, and sadly, I have no one to ask. I miss Santa’s Village and swimming with my Daddy at Deep Creek.

svshow

I haven’t been back since my Grandma died. I’m not sure I can ever go back without having a nervous breakdown. It might just be best to let everything remain frozen in time in my mind rather than go back and see it all without her. Who knows? I used to love Summer with all my heart, and now I’m content to ignore it and work right through until Fall. In 11 days my girls are back to school – one to College and one a Sophomore in High School. Maybe next Summer we’ll all go back and make some new memories. Or maybe I’ll just see if I can find a time machine on Ebay and take them back with me to when it was my very own magical place.

Perception

Joshua Bell
Image by rusewcrazy via Flickr

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

The questions raised:

  • *In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
  • *Do we stop to appreciate it?
  • *Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made…

How many other things are we missing?

This was forwarded to my by my friend Dawna this morning – and it hit me where I live today and I felt it bore repeating.  At the moment, I’m watching my youngest daughter curled up next to me, sleeping off a fever with her puppy at her feet. When did she get so long and lanky? My oldest leaves for college in less than 5 months.

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Added Two New Free Templates

I love the magazine style of website themes. They are very classy and professional looking, and give a travel blogger or travel writer a polished look for their clippings and photos.

This week I’ve reviewed and archived two new magazine style themes, “Purple Haze” and “Red Carpet Magazine” – Did I mention they’re FREE? Links and previews at the site.

purple-haze

I Can’t Make This Stuff Up. Seriously.

I can’t make this stuff up. I often sit and wonder if my friends and colleagues think that I’m the girl that has those small things happen in life, but when retelling the incident it becomes embellished and bigger and bigger the more times the story is retold.

So, here are the facts. I’ll simply report them.

January, 2006 – Houseguests/Friends/Business partners moved out of our home after an 8 month extended stay to help them get on their feet. That business folded, I am financially liable for more than $20,000 in debt.

February 2006 – My grandmother collapses while visiting my Mom in Northern California and is care-flighted to Reno. I fly from Texas and spend a month at the Holiday Inn getting her off a ventilator and into a rehab.

April 2006 – On the flight home, I stand up to get my laptop and tear my ACL, surgery needed and rehab started, but not completed. My volleyball career is officially over.

May 2006 – Hubby retires from teaching music to help run the business. Health Insurance is now on COBRA, just to offset medical cost from blown knee.

June 2006 – My Dad passes away unexpectedly at age 56 after beating cancer. Side effect of chemo is heart arrhythmia which results in heart attack the night before discharge. My grandmother, fresh from rehab, is diagnosed with cancer the same day my Dad dies. I fly from Texas in time to say goodbye to Dad and plan to stay the summer to take care of his affairs.

July 2006 – My Mom has a nervous breakdown and leaves my Grandmother in my care. Her home, and all her doctors for Proton Radiation are in Southern California. My home, husband and kids are in Texas. I stay to see her through it all with husband’s blessing. He holds down the fort in Texas.

December, 2006 – Grandma and I drive cross country, with doctor’s blessing, to have Christmas in Texas. She develops a minor cold, which becomes a massive infection, and the paramedics rush her to the hospital Christmas morning before the kids even wake up.

January, 2007 – The house in California floods from a burst pipe. It will be 10 months before its habitable. Grandma stays in Texas with me until March, then we drive her home and she checks into assisted living close to doctors while contractors finish house.

May 2007 – Other family members in California are telling Grandma her house is almost ready under their supervision. A family friend takes her to see the house on the sly and discovers that the house is down the studs, sits with no work, completely mildewed, and no one overseeing the contractors. I start commuting back and forth from Texas.

July 2007 – Husband takes over project, starts planning to move everything out of storage, including Grandma. He brings her home for weekends while he builds a new deck with a ramp and landscaping for her to enjoy. She doesn’t have much time left, we’re told. Its a race to get her home.

September 2007 – With only one more week before move-in to her finished home, Grandma collapses and is placed on a ventilator. The doctors call me to come from Texas. Its discovered when I leave her room from that point on her blood pressure spikes dangerously high. I am her new roommate in the hospital. She begs me to take her home.

October 2007 – We finally get her off the ventilator, and fairly stable, and I bring her home with hospice. She pulls her feeding tube out during the first night, gives it to me (sleeping next to her) and quietly tell me, “I’m done” and passes peacefully later that afternoon. She got her wish to die in her own bed, in the mountain cabin she lived in for 55 years. Five days later two wildfires come within 2 miles of the house. I remain in the house despite the mandatory evacuation order to keep the newly renovated house from burning to the ground.

November 2007 – I finally come back to Texas, sick from the smoke from the fires. Server crashes the following week with 11 days of business insanity. The worst in the history of our business, in fact.

(* Note: I’ve edited some of the dates to keep track after this original post date, in case you are confused by my sudden power of clairvoyance.)

So, the moral of this story is – I don’t know. Roll with the punches? Define your own normal? Embrace every day? For me, I thank God. It seems weird, but I know that throughout all the strife I’ve come to realize what’s important and what’s not. Who is important and who is not. What is worth fighting for and what is not. I don’t understand the “why” of everything that happened in the big-picture scheme of things, but I’ll embrace the fact that I really do live on a lovely tropical island, with my husband of 18 years, and my two amazing daughters and I have very, very good friends that mean more to me than the ones that I’m related to by blood. I will have a very hard time making a house payment for a while, but we’ll get through this – we’ve gotten through worse, and I’ve definitely learned to NEVER say, “It can’t get any worse”.

Because it can, and sometimes does.

However today the beach calls. Must answer.

Celebrating the Little Things

They say, “don’t sweat the small stuff” – and I agree. Small Stuff bogs you down. Small stuff keeps you from doing big things. Except they also say, “the devil is in the details”

OK, first of all, who is “they”? and why am I listening to them?

I’ve decided to sweat whatever I want to sweat, and watch volleyball. So there.

Great day. A client that I really, really like signed as my third marketing client. I was really hoping she would because I think she’s smart, determined and her suite of sites have a lot of potential. She’s one of those people that gets it, and knows where she wants to go, and guess what? I’m holding the OnSTAR button.

So I’ve got three, and I think four and five tomorrow to round it out. And then the fun begins. Actually, its been fun so far choosing the clients that I really think are a good fit in terms of time, energy and potential. I’m batting .1000 and it’s pretty awesome after the insanity of the summer. I [heart] work again.

Favorite YouTube Video d’Moment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nuj7DTrDOkk
Stuff I need to Watch on DVR: Texas Tech vs. K-State Volleyball, New Gilmore Girls
9pm snack to keep me on task: Creme Brule’ Latte & 3 Excedrin.

Good Times.

// C