Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Here in DC we just came through the storm of the century. Seriously, for the first time, the storm actually was as bad as they predicted. It lasted two days, dropped a couple feet of snow, brought blizzards winds and freezing temperatures. In this city there are not enough plows to clear even the main roads, let alone small streets like mine. Not including the weekend, the US government has been closed for three days and today there is a three-hour delay.

This might sound terrible to people from sunny climates, but I had a fantastic time during the storm. I had plenty of notice and time to get supplies, and I scored one of the last snow shovels to make it into the region. I have friends within walking distance, plus, Murphy's, the coolest Irish pub ever is not two blocks away. They already had a great reputation of staying open in storms, but I wasn't sure they could keep that up with this monster. Sure enough, they stayed open by putting up their staff in local hotels. They kept their 1:30 am last call in the height of the storm. Amazing.

So basically I ate and drank and socialized right through the storm, and got all kinds of personal things done I never have time for, I got the tax paperwork ready, re-addressed the mouse situation, etc. A gift of time with no expectations attached.

I also had to do some serious manual labor. I only have street parking, so my little car was buried beyond all recognition. I waited until it had to be done and the plow finally cleared at least a path in the street, and dug in.

Particularly far from the street plowing, I had to almost shovel my own driveway to get the car free.

It was a good workout. A few hours of manual labor hurts no one.

My co-worker/neighbor advised me by text, "Put your trash can in front of it when you leave so no one steals it." He's not alone in his thinking. I have noticed a few lawn chairs, etc. holding the few spots that have been dug out.

I don't get it. I don't own the street, and to try to save my spot while I go to work for eight hours is just plain rude. I wrote to him I was not doing that...he wrote back, "But you'll lose your spot and be driving for hours in circles in search of another one." Hey, we all knew what "street parking" meant when we moved into this precious neighborhood. You want guaranteed parking? Move to the suburbs, you might even get a garage.

Someone even resorted to this pathetic plea:

Isn't that always how it is. We're afraid there won't be enough, that we won't get what we deserve or what we've earned. We let fear drive us into protecting what is "ours."

I have learned otherwise. I have learned that there actually is enough. There is enough time in my life for what I want to do that I don't have to resent my work hours or fear I won't have time for me. I have learned that there are resources enough in almost every case, to be magnanimous, to try for big things, to step out, to be audacious, and certainly to leave a parking spot for others to use all day.

I have learned to trust myself and the universe to provide what I need, and when I do, I am rewarded. I am rewarded for getting to live that day without fear. I don't want to live in such a way that fear of scarcity affects my decisions and has me being too frugal, too stingy with my time or money and living too small. My objective in life is to develop and live bigger, which does not include hoarding a parking space.

Now...let's see if I feel the same tonight when I get home.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


I should be writing about Renaissance art, the Amalfi Coast, and the wonder of Rome. I should be posting pictures of the Roman Forum, my favorite scene of the Sistine Chapel and writing what it's like to spend Christmas in Sorrento. I have recently seen the wonders of the greatest empire to ever rule the world.

I should be writing about how magical the trip was, how I am coming to believe that only when you step out to do something as large as dragging your parents half-way around the world because you think they need to see it, does magic happen. There's a payoff for audacity.

But I'm not writing about that. Yes I was inspired, there are several posts in that two-week trip, and I may get to them. But I am more compelled to write about another topic, as it has become my semi-obsession.


I live in a house built in 1890. It's in the historic district, it's charming, it is in a great is suddenly a mouse haven. Not charming. I left it cold and still for two weeks in the middle of winter, with a pantry full of, well, tasty items if you are a mouse in winter, apparently.

So I had this to tackle ASAP when I got back, as I was too grossed out by the mess my tiny housemates made to let things lie for even a day. Jet-lagged, I walked down to the 24-hour drugstore at 3am to buy whatever they had. It is not fun to buy anti-rodent paraphernalia. They only had conventional traps, albeit hard plastic instead of the old wire and wood design, but they had teeth and looked effective. I grabbed a handful, took them home and loaded them up with almond butter.

No dice. These are city mice, street smart. I thought they might like the Whole Foods almond butter, and they did. I got home to empty traps. They know how to get the goods and run back into the depths of my crawl space. Not cool.

I went to the sticky traps. Evil, and mean, I agree, but I needed to deliver a strong message. Success. I awoke to two very alive but very stuck creatures. I have to say, they were a little adorable, and so I felt bad, even apologized as I put them out of their misery. Had to, poor creatures. There I am in the freezing, early-morning dark, in my jammies, apologizing to the tiny beasts as I hit them hard with a piece of firewood. Twice each. Ugh. It took more emotional energy than physical, but I can do this, and was heartened to be getting somewhere with this crowd.

The next morning there was a half-stuck mice that had crawled with one free leg out into the center of the kitchen in a final quest for freedom. Inspiring really. Braveheart came to mind.

I spent my weekend buying glass containers and bleaching every inch of the pantry, throwing out perfectly good food and paper items because, well, let's be honest, I needed to feel cleaner. Sorry to the environment, but, desperate times...

Feeling cleaner and a little smug, I thought the bleach and eliminating their ability to find any morsel of food would encourage them to go elsewhere. Sure I had given some effort to close up some possible entry points, but to really get back in that scary crawl space...well, no one wanted to do that.

So back into another work week, waking up and coming home to dead mice daily began to wear on me. I got tired of killing mice. While I was apologizing to the first two and feeling bad, by the time I got to numbers six and seven, I was just tossing them into the outdoor trash. I had gotten calloused in a hurry, and starting to take this personally. Hey, freezing to death isn't that bad of a way to go. Don't judge.

I wasn't winning this war. Mice are China. I can kill them wholesale, and they will just keep on coming. I was going to have to deal with the scary crawl space. As I armored up with gloves, goggles and old overclothes, I couldn't help but think about how I have learned that in life, I eventually have to face the scary crawl spaces. I should have gone there first. It was scary, and nasty, and it took a few self pep-talks to clean up and seal the nooks and crannies. Got it done. Felt better, but couldn't help but wonder if everything was really sealed, and, did I seal any in?

It wasn't over. The next day I had to go all the way to hand-to-hand combat with a brazen mouse trying for my dog's food, right before my eyes. Absolutely not. We went one v. one. There was yelling involved. I did not apologize to that mouse.

And so...that was that last dead mouse I have seen. Good, right? No. Right after the dog food incident I saw another attempting the same kibble. There is one remaining. This one is wily. A special-ops mouse I think, as he or she has avoided all fresh traps with all manner of enticements for days. I'm going to have to raise my game, study up on warrior ethos.

If only I had some airpower.

Someone else's words...

“Living through enough, we all come to this understanding, though it is difficult to accept: No matter what path we choose to honor, there will always be conflict to negotiate. If we choose to avoid all conflict with others, we will eventually breed a poisonous conflict within ourselves. Likewise, if we manage to attend our inner lives, who we are will—sooner or later—create some discord with those who would rather have us be something else.

In effect, the cost of being who you are is that you can’t possibly meet everyone’s expectations, and so, there will, inevitably, be external conflict to deal with—the friction of being visible. Still, the cost of not being who you are is that while you are busy pleasing everyone around you, a precious part of you is dying inside; in this case, there will be internal conflict to deal with—the friction of being invisible.

In a daily way, I have to be conscientious about being truthful and resist the urge to accommodate my truth away. It means that being who I really am is not forbidden or muted just because others are uncomfortable or don’t want to hear it.

The great examples are legendary: Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Sir Thomas More, Rosa Parks. But we don’t have to be great to begin. We simply have to start by saying what we really want for dinner or which movie we really want to see."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Writing to Live

I'm back.

It only took six years apparently.

It took about five years for the, "You need to write," voice to become louder than anything else I needed to do, and another year for me to actually listen, which is a whole 'nother thing....

Six years ago it became apparent to me overnight that I had to turn my attention to a project that would take all my energy: Building a life on my own.

I did that. The journey has been as rewarding as it has been hard.

Six years ago I instantly dropped all creative work and went into serious survival mode. From the initial job-search to the eventual house-buying, I felt my plate was full. There was little time or emotional energy for creating, only space to exhale, recover and try to have a little fun. However, over the past year or more, I have found myself driving to work on Mondays without a feeling of anxiety over getting through another week, and, I now have time and space for travel, reading and many, many time-wasting endeavors. I'm breathing easier.

These days "You need to write," voice is very loud. I have resisted it with every imaginable lame argument, until recently, I lost the debate. The argument trumping all others was this: If I don't throw in and start writing, I will never know. I will never know what I could have written or what it is like to be a writer. I will have the regret of the un-lived life.

I can see myself on my death bed saying, "But wait...I was going to write something really, really good."

Six years ago I loved this blog, maybe read by a handful of people. I was taking baby steps to see if I, like everyone who aspires to do something creative, had the courage to put my stuff out there and create a tiny piece of art with my choice of words. It felt great. It gave me an outlet for my thoughts and a growing feeling of confidence and satisfaction every time I got to click on the word "publish." It was as if I was a real author.

The only writing I've done since is is scribbling in scores of journals for my own mental health. So, I have to start back with baby steps. However, I've grown up a lot in six years, maybe I can get to full-on walking before too long.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I am swimming.

After plowing through the water for weeks, I am suddenly swimming.

I really thought I would be plowing forever, splashing inefficiently and forcing myself to stare at that damn black line...I really thought it would never be more than that. I have taken up swimming a few times before, and I've never progressed beyond that. It has never flowed, I have never glided.

I just needed to accept it.

I used to think that if I really worked at something in life, I would get better at it. At some point, life would begin to flow, and it would feel like would feel right. Then experience, and other people, convinced me I couldn't, and shouldn't expect that. Things in life are hard and they only get so good, and you need a formula to muddle through.

But...I am swimming now.

It was so sudden, it just clicked. One day I found myself reaching farther with every stroke, feeling stronger with every lap. It shocked me--I had quit expecting things to "click."

So, there is my proof. Sometimes at least, life works the way I thought it should. I was right. Contrary to all those rule-following naysayers who said I shouldn't expect things to flow, sometimes they do.

When I decided to take up swimming this time, it was really just a resignation. I have a beautiful pool a couple blocks from my house--I should throw myself in there a couple times a week for cross-training. I never expected to be gliding within a few weeks...

Well, gliding is too strong a word, but I am swimming. I am pulling myself through the water and getting stronger...can gliding be far off?

I'm expecting it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Mexico

Well, regular life has resumed, if at a much slower pace. Unlike D.C., people in New Mexico are not rushing around trying to conquer the world, or save it. It seems they are happy to just be here...this is one quiet, sleepy town.

It's cool. I haven't waited in a line since I've been here, traffic and parking problems are non-existent. I've met a few locals, then run into them a couple times since--it's that small of a town. We've been saying that we have to allow an extra 20 minutes if we're going to run errands in town, no one is in a hurry and they love to shoot the breeze.

There's been something to do every weekend. There's a little park in town where all the festivities take place--the pancake breakfast, the Cottonwood Festival, the Wine Festival, the Balloon Festival, the Fiesta--and as you might imagine, once you've been to one, you've pretty much been to them all. There's always a few booths with a few artists and vendors, and a stage with a local band playing...that's pretty much it.

The weather has been nice since we got here, and it's true, the sunsets over the desert mountains are worth a look every night. I do a lot of dogwalking/running out there, it's giving me a quiet, big sky, God-must-exist perspective. Plenty of air to breathe and horizon to vent to--I do not feel hemmed in living on-base.

Apparently it's hunting season. I've overheard some locals talking it up and even saw a guy carrying a rifle downtown--we are in the West. Lots of pick-up trucks, ball caps and a few cowboy hats. I had my first rattlesnake encounter--it was the sound that was more startling than the snake--he gave me a nice warning I took to heart.

If I'm home, or near home I get to hear music every day, a couple of times. Each day at 4:30 loudspeakers all over base play the national anthem. Wherever you are, or if you're driving, you are to stop in your tracks, face the direction of the flag, and listen. I find myself trying to work around it if I'm withing earshot--not that I don't like the anthem, it just feels a little...staged. And, because we have a German squadron based here, on Wednesdays they play the German anthem first, then ours. It's only hospitable I suppose. The whole thing reminds me of the organized way of living in Japan, where every little town had their loudspeakers play a song at 6pm. We would make up our own words to those.

So I'm not sure about the 4:30 call to patriotism, but what is growing on me is the 10 pm playing of "Taps," every night. At first it was a little startling--I felt like I was living in a movie and was reminded that any of our people could be called away to fight and die at any time. Now I'm finding it painfully quieting. It is a reminder of what could happen, is happening, and of our purpose here, and that is just, well, true.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back On the Horse...

Well I got bucked off the writing horse.

I think it was the move, the traveling, the adjustments to a new life and place--I'll even blame feeling under the weather for a few days. It takes some time to even figure out what I feel about a new life and a new environment, and I don't feel quite like myself here yet.

There are a couple of ways to get back on a horse you've been thrown off...I know this from experience.

You can jump on, grab that mane and hang on, hoping you stay on and gain control before you're thrown again...OR, you can take your time, try to manage the horse close to a fence, be still and quiet, climb up the fence and slowly ease yourself back into the saddle. Maybe the horse won't even know your back on until your set and ready to deal with the beast.

Anyone who knows me knows I'm going to take my time...