Tuesday, September 30, 2008

America: A Work in Progress

Despite the fact that I am stuck in Silicon Valley for the time being and the American Empire is imploding, I have found two reasons to be happy today:

1) Mama Iva has not only survived her heart-related ordeal but she is - true to form - back at work today. (As some of you know, she refuses to retire and is 75 going on 55.)

2) Amongst the doom and gloom headlines, I found this in USA Today:

"Usually red state N.D. not 100% sold on McCain"

As previously stated, North Dakota is my favorite Underdog State so I've always got one eye on whatever the NoDak population (639,715) is up to. (That's me above, modeling my Grandma Myrtle's ancient girdle that we excavated from my mother's decaying childhood home outside Walhalla.)

The NoDak folks I know are generally a conservative bunch - 63% voted for Bush in the last election - but I'm happy to see them stop and rethink this one. For this state to even consider voting for Obama - a Democrat! A black one even! - is HUGE. (State population is 91.6% white, made up mostly of farmers and military folks.) The state has not voted for a Democratic president since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 so this would be a tremendous shift.

What is causing this pivot? Several factors:

1) Bush's eight years of colossal fuck-ups.
2) McCain's "baggage" of voting against the farm bill, ethanol subsidies and tax credits for wind energy
3) Obama taking the time to campaign (and set up offices in) North Dakota, unlike most Dem candidates. As one young voter said, "I was surprised to see Obama in Fargo. We're kind of a forgotten state."

Alas, it is not a done deal and plenty of folks on the prairie are smitten with Palin, who shares their love of hunting and Christianity. Fair enough. Come November, NoDakers may still vote as predictably as they do in San Francisco but it's fascinating to watch things get all purple-y in the least likely place.

All in all, this is an intensely weird time to be an American. As countries go, America is a teenager and starting to endure some harsh realities and growing pains. In fact, I'm pretty sure we just started our period - lots of pain and bloodletting ahead! Wheee!

(Low-grade apologies to Fang, who gets queasy at any mention of the menses.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mom is OK!

Well, thanks to modern science, one very kind cardiologist and a gazillion thoughts and prayers from ya'll, Mama Iva has successfully emerged from her crisis. She had 75% blockage in her front artery and was given another stent so she should be good to go for awhile. (Doc is going to keep an eye on a loose valve though.) We are at her Long Beach home right now and she is napping in the next room as I type. Yay!

I have purposely posted a photo of Mama Iva here with my dear friend, Susie, who I was originally going to hang with this weekend in Aspen (she was flying in from LA). Susie, an amazing force of nature who was originally my brother's friend (I stole her), talked to me out of my tree numerous times on Thursday and assured me that our Aspen adventure was no comparison to the needs of my mother. When I'd told Susie that my mother didn't want me to cancel my plans, Susie deadpanned: "Well, you tell your mother, I don't care what she wants. You need to go down there and be with her."

She was right, of course. I did and I was, and I am. In a flurry of packing, driving, parking, checking, sleeping and shuttling, I managed to get to her home just in time to take her to St. Mary's Hospital. Before they rolled her in, Mom squeezed my hand and said, "I'm glad you're here."

I couldn't possibly thank you enough for all the kind words, thoughtful emails and wonderfully supportive phone calls - I was very moved. I especially love the straight-talk voice mail of HDW: "Okay, then. If you need to cry, you know where to go - you got the number." BIG LOVE in all general directions, people.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Concerns for Mama Iva

Crazy day. Lots of anguish, tears, phone calls and a little work drama thrown in just for fun. Looks like Mama Iva is going to have some last-minute heart surgery tomorrow. Was going to Aspen with my pal, Susie, but she graciously agreed that it was best if I was there with Mom instead.

So, I just bought my ticket and plan to leave the house around 4:00 a.m. to be in LA by 8:00 a.m. to take my mom to the hospital by 10:00 a.m. so she can have surgery by 12:30 p.m. Whew!

Times like these make me realize how far away I am.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It's Getting Scary Out There

It's frightening enough just watching the American Empire implode due to our own greed. But evidently, deep-seated economic fears are worldwide. Yesterday, a bunch of laid off workers killed a CEO in India when he'd gathered a meeting to discuss options. As reported by TimesOnline:

"Lalit Kishore Choudhary, 47, the head of the Indian operations of Graziano Transmissioni, a manufacturer of car parts that has its headquarters in Italy, died of severe head wounds on Monday after being attacked by scores of laid-off employees, police said. The incident, in Greater Noida, followed a long-running dispute between the factory’s management and workers demanding better pay and permanent contracts.

It is understood that Mr Choudhary, who was married with one son, had called a meeting with more than a hundred former employees who had been dismissed after an earlier outbreak of violence at the plant. He wanted to discuss a possible reinstatement deal."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Facing Fears ... One String At a Time

When you move, you question every little piece of stuff: "Why do I have this? When is the last time I used it? Do I really need it?" I went through this process when I moved to Denver in June 2006 and came across the simple Yamaha guitar that my father had bought for me at Costco several years prior.

Unloading it from the U-Haul, I realized I had no idea how to play it. Within eight days, I was dumped on my ass by the man I'd moved there for and suddenly, had A LOT of free time on my hands. Thanks to Swallow Hill and many a night of fumbly practice, I can now pull off a song or two. "I just want to play well enough to impress drunk people" I always said. Well, I've tested it out on the Mississippi clan at Xmas and my goal has been attained. (Evidently, I'm even more impressive if there is a campfire involved.)

But I never learned to sing. I've been whispering and warbling my way through but never had any training; I decided it was time to learn a new instrument. So. I signed myself up for a "Singing While Strumming" class at SH and every Monday night, 11 of us file into a former chapel hall and face our fears.

Now in the third week, the teacher, JT Nolan, has grown tired of us chickening out. Pointing a scary fingernail at us (he's grown one hand all long, like a vampire, for guitar picking reasons), "Tonight, you are ALL getting up here to sing so GET READY!" We let out a collective groan and quivered in our folding chairs.

Now, when it comes to comedy, getting up onstage feels pretty natural; the idea of a singing performance, however, makes my stomach go queasy and my throat clench up. The great news is, I'm not alone. I watched each student get up there, apologize for themselves, be nervous, fuck up, charge through and express relief that it was over. The fact that we were all equally nervous and terrified helped a lot - like we were all battling the same horrible ego demon as a team. As one guy said, "It's funny. I know this song really well ... just not in front of 10 people."

When it came my turn, I got up to play a very simple version of an old song that I have been playing in my living room for over a year - a three-chord version of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." I can sing that sucker in my sleep. I stood up and a girl in the front said encouragingly, "I like your shirt." I had worn my favorite t-shirt featuring several female superheroes. "Yeah, I wore it to give me courage but ..."

I started to play and realize that I had no memory of the chords or the melody. My mind went completely blank. Several false starts until everyone picked up their guitars and tried to remember the chords for me. Highly humiliating. I always thought that drawing-a-blank-from-stage-fright thing was an exaggeration but now I know - it's quite real.

Finally, I quieted everyone down with some insistence, "I know it! I can do this! I just need to close my eyes and pretend none of ya'll are here. Nothing personal." So, that's what I did and managed to get a few verses into it before desperately wanting to get offstage. My chair mates gave me lots of "You did great!" back pats despite my colossal mistakes. Talk about a safe environment - it's like a support group. The teacher kindly said I had a "sweet voice" but that I had made a formidable selection. "You've chosen a spiritual and we are in an old church. You need to dig deep and fill this room."

It was scary as hell and totally exhilarating. I can't wait to do it again.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not to brag or anything ...

... but this very blog managed to scoop CNN by TWELVE FRICKIN' DAYS on the story about Palin's former town, Wasilla, charging rape victims for their examinations and forensics work while she was mayor.

ClizBiz, fast becoming your #1 news source.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Goodbye to Dad ... and Summer

My Dad, Bob, has been visiting me since September 11th and I'll be sad when he leaves tomorrow. He lives in his motorhome, spends half the year in Seattle (April-September) with his wife and the other half in Mississippi, with my brother's family and he visits me here in Denver on his way back and forth. Bob is a true wanderer - he hands out business cards that say "Hobo, Inc." and when he calls me, my cell phone plays Roger Miller singing "King of the Road." Our relationship has always been more like buddies than father-daughter, except that I like to wait on him hand and foot. We have so many similarities - it's kind of eerie. Even our cowboy boots tend to match - see above.

We both have a sweet tooth, relate to animals, speak our minds (causing some discomfort to those around us) and are both infinitely curious. We also both have a tendency to let our lust get us in trouble. (His is, once again, safely married while I keep mine locked up these days until my 'picker' gets fixed.)

He usually comes over every day around 4 p.m. and sits contentedly on the porch, smoking his 'cee-gar' while reading thrift store action-adventure novels and drinking his famous Whiskey Dews (Canadian Mist whisky and Mountain Dew). Sometimes he doesn't bring anything to read but is happy to puff away and contemplate. Lately, I've been playing his old LPs on my ancient phonograph and he's been gleefully reliving the past via Bob Newhart or The Lads.

I'd forgotten about his tendency to smoke the stub of his cigar using his pocket knife, a habit I find endlessly charming. Why burn your fingers on that last yummy bit when there's no need? For reasons I cannot state publicly here, I can totally relate.

I took him to a party last night - a housewarming for Rosie & Kevin - and I think he made more friends than I did! He was shy about going, afraid he would be the old man in the corner but the party had every age group and he loved regaling my friend with embarrassing stories of my youth. Good times.

Then, we swung by the video store where I was reminded that my father's cinematic tastes have changed dramatically. Now, this was a man who took us all to the drive-in to see "Midway" - a film about a famous Naval battle starring Charlton Heston and a bunch of other manly types like James Coburn and Robert Mitchum. In fact, anything starring James Garner, Lee Marvin or Ernest Borgnine, you can bet the Clisby Clan was there.

Somewhere along the way, that all changed. He now adores Queen Latifah, Meg Ryan and Hugh Grant - gone are the testeroney types of the past. So, there we were at Blockbuster, where I tried to steer Dad towards "About Schmidt" due to his love of Jack Nicholson and the life similarities (insurance salesman retires, buys motorhome, etc.) but he begged - nay, PLEADED - with me to rent "Music & Lyrics" - a romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, a film he has already seen 5 or 6 times: "OH, PLEEEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE!!!! I'LL EVEN PAY FOR IT!!!! C'MON, PLEEEEASE!!! I LOVE THIS MOVIE!!!!" People turned to look at us and suddenly, I felt like Bob was my 13-year-old gay son instead of the man who used to dismantle underwater mines for the Navy. I relented and he giggled all the way through the clever romantic bits. (Also, he had no idea about the 'Special Features' on a DVD so he got even more! Wheee!)

Today, we're off to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science where we check out some IMAX films and look at a bunch of cool old stuff. As final-night tradition holds, I will then take him out to dinner at The Fort, my favorite restaurant in Colorado, also serving as the HQ for the Tesoro Foundation, preserving history and culture of the Southwest.

The menu includes a bunch of items that people ate in the Old West, including Bison Tongue and Elk Chop. My favorite is the Trade Whiskey, a true cocktail from the past. I'll never forget my initial conversation with the waiter:

Me: "So, what exactly is in the Trade Whiskey?"
Waiter: "This is a real drink which dates back to the mid-1800s. It is high-grade whiskey flavored with red pepper, tobacco, and gunpowder."
Me: "Gunpowder?!?! Holy cow! Is that good for you?"
Waiter: "Oh no! No, not at all."
Me: "I'll take one!"

So, when I wake up tomorrow, Dad will be headed to Mississippi, Autumn will launched and I'll have some long, luxurious chest hair to explain.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Saved By Comedy ... Once Again

Papa Clisby is visiting me this week and so I am doing all things DAD. This means going to buffets, drinking whiskey mixed with strange things and watching funny movies. This is highly preferable to watching Wall Street go down in flames while a hockey mom distracts the country with her perky up-do. Ugh. Comedy - take me away!

Among the many father-daughter bonding rituals we have, Number One might just be the repeated viewing of "Galaxy Quest" - an affectionate spoof on the Star Trek phenomenon and one of the most lovable movies of all time. (THANKS Dean & David!)

I showed it to Pops many years back (came out in December of 1999) and - joy of joys - he flipped for it as much as I did. We quote it to one another all year long and basically, never cease loving this silly little film. (My favorite line is Alan Rickman's, "It's always about you, isn't it?!?!")

I'm not sure what I love most about this movie - Sigourney Weaver as a blonde bimbo .. Tim Allen doing his version of William Shatner ... Alan Rickman's bitter Spock character or Sam Rockwell's over-the-top portrayal as the only real fan among the team of actors who have no affection for the show that still pays their bills.

But it's the Thermians (the aliens) that really make your heart glow. Led by the versatile brilliance of Enrico Colantoni (Mathesar), you have never met a more humane bunch of non-humans. Mathesar makes me cry over and over again as his innocent brain tries to grasp the idea of lies and deception.

ANYWAY, we watched it again last night and it flushed the corporate-mania residue right outta my tired brain. Also, I couldn't help but note that GQ had almost the exact same premise as another new favorite movie, "Tropic Thunder" - which is, bumbling actors being forced to play their characters in the real world - or in the GQ example, space. I had taken Dad to see it (for me, the second time) last weekend, hoping he would love it as much as I. He did! Half-way through he said, "This is the craziest movie I've ever seen," and a day later, "I want to see it again!"

I've already posted a review but I keep wondering if there isn't a way I can send Ben Stiller a thank-you card of some kind. After absorbing headlines all day long and dealing with adult dramas, I needed me some silliness and Stiller delivered on a movie that was not easy to make. Maybe he likes chocolate? Flowers are too weird ... hmmm. Dunno. Maybe I'll just go see it a third time and let the money speak for itself.

Thankfully, I'll be playing with my Rodent crew tonight onstage and once again, I will feel like a new woman. No matter how many times I want to jump off that building, comedy is the sensitive cop that talks me off the ledge every damn time.

Meanwhile, methinks the Obama campaign can take some advice from Commander Peter Quincy Taggart:

"NEVER give up, NEVER surrender!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

SNL: Palin & Clinton Together

Mandatory viewing: Tina Fey returns to Saturday Night Live under sheer obligation - since she looks EXACTLY like Sarah Palin - and joins Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton. This is supposed to be satire but it's frightening how much truth is in here.

Hilarious/frightening on this Monday that is simply bursting with bad news in every direction.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I Still Miss Him

It's been five years since Johnny Cash left us and he is a bigger force in my life than ever. It's hard to explain but sometimes I forget that he was famous. My dad was a big fan and since I grew up with his image, his voice, his music and numerous stories (my cousin, Sylvia, was the wardrobe lady for he and June in the early years), I tend to think of him like a favorite uncle. I never met the man but did manage to catch him in concert in LA once. As expected, he was wonderful, gracious and kicked major ass.

I know plenty of folks who walk around the planet asking themselves, "What would Jesus do?" I think this is a wonderful idea but it just doesn't work for me - I feel about as close to Jesus as I do Socrates or Gandhi. Johnny Cash was not only a man whose time on Earth overlapped with mine but he was imperfect, and he knew it. So many of his songs are about striving to be better - including a song I heard last night called, "I'm Gonna Try To Be That Way." (Thanks, Fang!) So instead, I often ask myself, "What would Johnny do?"

Just recently, this practice stopped Bad Heather dead in her evil tracks. During the blurry mania of the DNC, I'd shared drinks and appetizers with some friends in a bar. The next day, I realized I/we had unintentionally skipped out on the tab. Now, I had gotten away scott free and I am watching my budget but ... what would Johnny do?

Sigh. I picked up the phone, called the bar and gave them my credit card number. The guy on the other line was impressed. "Wow, thanks for calling back!" he said. I mumbled something about not wanting the staff to think that Democrats were assholes, tacked on a fat tip and hung up.

Now THAT is what Johnny would have done. And then he would have written a song about it that made you dance, cry or want to hop a train.

This practice also caused me to do a 180 on my death penalty stance. For most of my life, I was very much a "Fry those evil fuckers!" kind of gal. Until one day, I watched then-Texas Governor George W. Bush mock the clemency plea from a female death row inmate. (He ignored it and fried her anyway.)

It hit me like a sudden wind gust: 'Holy shit! I AGREE with George Bush and I DISAGREE with Johnny Cash????? WHAT HAS BECOME OF ME???' Clearly, I needed to rethink the matter. I'd become one of those people that just thinks what they think without thinking about it.

Then, I did a little research and found out that capital punishment actually costs more than life sentencing (due to the repeated appeals process) and that was the final straw. I'm now officially against the Death Penalty, thanks to JC. He was a real human who passed no judgement on others, was kind to everyone he met and celebrated his spirituality through song and ...well, I'm gonna try to be that way.

Check out a special tribute radio show on JohnnyCash.com that you can listen to anytime.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not Happening, Not Happening, Not Happening

Okay, okay, okay, this photo pretty much sums up my feelings about Sarah Palin - I just want the nightmare of lies to end. I want the horrible bamboozling to cease. I am beyond freaked out by this woman who has a credible chance at being a worse VP than Dick Cheney. Turns out that covering my eyes, putting my feet in the air and looking as cute as possible, doesn't really address the situation.


I sat in on a call today that featured Former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles and Mayor Bob Weinstein of Ketchikan – the city of the Bridge to Nowhere. A lot of interesting stuff came out on that call but two things stuck out to me:

The McCain campaign talked to exactly NOBODY in Alaska before Palin joined the ticket. As Knowles said:

"We cannot find any one person who was called - as an advocate or an adversary - in making in one of the most important decisions of the campaign. A question I would ask is, what kind of information was given to McCain? If you are going to hire a CEO or COO, there would be a lot more vetting going on."

Secondly, a little known fact came to light here. Evidently, when Palin was mayor of Wasilla, there was a law on the books that had rape victims being charged for forensics work. Both the mayor and the local police chief (whom she'd appointed) enforced this. When then-Governor Knowles signed a law that revoked this law, he was aghast. He recalls:

"I remember commenting aloud when I signed the bill how fundamentally off-base it was that Palin’s administration chose to charge victims for forensics. They fought the ban, saying it would cause them undue financial stress."

WTF? This is the same woman who can't bring herself to teach her kids (and is against anyone else doing so) about sex. Meanwhile, her 17-year-old gets knocked up by a self-described "fuckin' redneck" and it's all okay 'cause they're gonna get married! Awww!

A fellow voter (recognizable as the fuck buddy of Sarah Silverman) evidently shares my fears and sums it up nicely:

Fannie & Freddie - Alive but Struggling in the UK

Today's Sun (London) ran a clever piece where the reporter, Tim Spanton, tracked down two living breathing humans who go by the names "Freddie Mac" and "Fannie May" and guess what? They are having a tough time too:

FREDDIE Mackie — known as Freddie Mac — lives with his wife Carol in a two-bed terraced house in Glasgow. Amazingly, he is a mortgage broker. And he has had to take on a second job as a debt adviser to survive. Instead of 40 hours a week, he now works 60 to try to maintain his £25,000 a year pay. (Approx. $44,000 US dollars.)

Dad-of-one Freddie, 56, left, said: “It is ridiculous. You work twice as hard just to stand still. There was no way I could afford to have my normal quality of life if I didn’t take another job.”

RETIRED teacher Fannie MAY is trying to beat the crunch by going back to work as a rock singer. Fannie, 53, of Cambridge, quit school earlier this year to record an album after cutbacks saw her do more work for no pay rise.

The widowed mum of one has a £400,000 mortgage (approx. $703K US) and is worried house price falls could leave her in negative equity. She also invested in property but is now selling her five flats.

She said: “I hoped the flats would give me a healthy pension but it’s an uncertain future.”

(Thanks to Paul Kedrosky for the tip.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Space Junk

Sure, sure, there were the usual screaming headlines pertaining to life on Earth but a small paragraph caught my attention in this morning's WSJ:

"NASA said October's shuttle flight faces a higher risk of getting hit by space debris because of a more littered orbit."

So, I went on to read about McCain, Obama, Palin, Fannie, Freddie and the usual gang but could not get past this factoid. Seriously? We've not only trashed the home planet but have now moved on to fucking up space as well??? Wow. I had no idea and honestly, was much happier then.

According to Robert Roy Britt at Space.com, "Thousands of nuts, bolts, gloves and other debris from space missions form an orbiting garbage dump around Earth, presenting a hazard to spacecraft. Some of the bits and pieces scream along at 17,500 mph."

Some "fun" space junk facts:

The oldest debris still on orbit is the second US satellite, the Vanguard I, launched on 1958, March, the 17th, which worked only for 6 years.

In 1965, during the first American space walk, the Gemini 4 astronaut Edward White, lost a glove. For a month, the glove stayed on orbit with a speed of 28,000 km / h, becoming the most dangerous garment in history.

More than 200 objects, most of them rubbish bags, were released by the Mir space station during its first 10 years of operation.

The most space debris created by a spacecraft's destruction was due to the upper stage of a Pegasus rocket launched in 1994. Its explosion in 1996 generated a cloud of some 300,000 fragments bigger than 4 mm and 700 among them were big enough to be catalogued. This explosion alone doubled the Hubble Space Telescope collision risk.

I don't know about you guys but I'm going to start wearing a helmet ...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Just Imagine

It seems like years ago that I sat in Central Park's Strawberry Fields and tried to wrap my tired brain around all that I had seen, heard and felt during the DNC. There was so much intensity and history-making that I'm still absorbing it all.

My favorite part: Taking the light rail home at the end of another action packed day and delving into deep conversations with anyone and everyone. Those cars were buzzing! One night, I had a terrific discussion with this lady - who so sharp and inspiring, I didn't want the ride to end.

Being in the audience at Invesco for Barack Obama's speech was one of the most exciting things I have ever witnessed in my life. The experience was nothing like a concert or a sports event - something much bigger and yes, even spiritual. I'm telling you, doing The Wave has never held such meaning.

What Obama and the other speakers - Al Gore, Bill Richardson, Barney Smith - talked about that night was the idea that America can be great again, that life here doesn't have to be as hard as it is, that we don't have to be the assholes of the free world (okay, I may have been daydreaming that part) and that these changes really aren't up to just one man or one woman but us, the flag-waving idiots.

"Can I ask you a question? Is ANYBODY gonna miss Dick Cheney?"
--Bill Richardson

Sarah Palin's arrival on the scene has certainly livened things up a bit, made the race a bit tighter. I see my liberal friends frothing and I can't tell you how many times I've heard the term "Satanic" when describing her. Who knew that Lucifer would appear to us as a human clone of Tina Fey?

I do know that her unsuccessful efforts at book banning freaks me out to no end and I don't get how she's supposed to raise a baby with Down's Syndrome while she's trying to run the country. If she is VP, the country or that baby is going to get the short end of the stick. And yes, I'd have the same concerns if Sarah was Samuel - a baby is a baby. Plus, is anyone concerned that this person has ZERO experience on the international stage? (And no, Cindy, just having Alaska close to Russia on the map doesn't count.)

I've never really bought the whole McCain is Bush's twin slogan but let me tell you, if Palin gets one heartbeat away from the Oval Office, we're all going to get nostalgic for W and that is a horrible future to think about.

Oh God, I hope we don't fuck it up again. It hurts just to imagine it.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Battery Low

In the city that never sleeps, I finally got me some.

Sleep, that is. I never thought I’d have to go all the way to New York to get a good night’s rest but that’s what I did. Spit out by the intense emotional vortex that was the DNC last week, I somehow scrambled together a suitcase and got my tired ass to New York via truck-shuttle-plane-shuttle.

I arrived Saturday night, in just enough time to pass out at The Pod Hotel in Midtown, a funky new hipster place with really small rooms and shared bathrooms. If iPods had parents, this is where they would have sex – lots of plain white, clean chrome, lounge music and bright Lichtenstein colors.

When I opened the door, I started laughing. “Um, wow. They weren’t kidding.” It’s a regular motel room except y’know all that space between you, the door, the bathroom and the wall? Yeah, none of that. It’s like being in a really cheap cruise or a really fancy Navy. Best part? Okay, it’s cheap for NYC ($159 a night!) but the second best part? 80% of the room is taken up by the most important part: The Bed.

Fumbling through the formalities of undressing and teeth brushing, I finally fell into my new best friend, The Pod Bed. There, at long last, my body welcomed zzzzzz’s like a famished teenage boy greeting a buffet. Rarely moving, I grabbed 12 solid hours of delicious slumber. Consciousness and I simply needed some distance between us, you understand. Legally, emotionally and financially, mine eyes were sown shut.

In the light of Sunday morning - or was it afternoon? - I was so pleased with myself. I walked the streets with a sleepy, contented grin and was friendly to everyone; Asshole Heather was nowhere to be seen. I had slept so hard that I had that warm, restful feeling you get in your chest right after a nap – it always feel like your body is thanking you.

Since I’d planned on wearing gold strappy shoes at a wedding that weekend, I treated myself to a full pedicure with pink and gold polish. The MC Yoo Spa Salon was empty except for me and a few employees so we chatted up a storm - mostly about politics, languages and guitar music.

The girl doing my toes was delightful. She was from Japan and got into her line of work after she’d had her son five years earlier. She was married to an African-American man and seemed happy and content. She viewed her nail work as art, which helped.

The young man behind her was from Korea and very smart. He’d only been in the U.S. a year and a half and was starting to get a handle on the English language, which is one of the world’s more difficult languages to learn. He cursed the language skills CDs he had tried to learn on when he realized how much faster Americans talk in real life. Conversations like the one we were having were better teachers, he said.

The girl asked me about a manicure and I declined, explaining that my nails must be kept short as I try to learn guitar. “Guitar?” the boy piped up. “I like guitar. You play this?” I told him I was trying my best and asked what guitarists he liked. He mentioned Eric Clapton and we began discussing styles and songs. It was then I discovered that he had never heard of Johnny Cash. I tried best I could to convey the essence of this person who was more than a musician but a spiritual leader and a major influence on American music. I made him promise he would look into it - my good deed for the day.

"Don't forget now," I pointed at him expectedly, like a teacher highlighting homework. "Johnny Cash!"

"Yes, yes!" he nodded emphatically. "I Google!"

With my new shiny toes, I flip-flopped further down 2nd Ave. until I came upon one of my favorite foodstuffs on the market: Pinkberry. Not sure what it is exactly but I'm told it’s not yogurt, or ice cream, or sorbet, or gelato. Hell, it’s not even soft serve. I DON’T CARE. I love it. Must have it with mangos and blueberry for toppings. (This time I added carob chips.)

Evidently, I was so excited about ordering one that the girl behind the counter, Mickey, couldn’t stop laughing. She’d say things like, “Oh my god, you’re adorable” and “You totally made my day.” She was adorable and totally made my day. I floated outta that place like an Aryan princess in a Disney movie – with animated birds and butterflies chirping behind me carrying napkins and spoons. Cloud 9, baby!

At that point, I realized my instinctive path. After everything that has happened, all the intense conversations and the powerful imagery I’ve seen, all the speeches and fist-pounding calls to action – it was all a jumbly mess. I needed to clear my head and get it all in order – this talk of the future. What did it mean to me? My country? Was it just a bunch of words? Some pretty-sounding ideas?

I grabbed my notebook and pen (and my camera, of course) and headed to Central Park. Destination: Strawberry Fields.

Shark Towing Crazy-Ass Surfer

I'm still recovering from my life (New York, DNC and whatever was before that) but here's something fun to enjoy until I gather my photos and thoughts. Looks like Huntington Beach, California - my old childhood stomping grounds.