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Archive for October, 2007


Tuesday, October 30
10:43 p.m.

I woke up this morning clear, which surprised me.  It was wonderful to breathe first thing without congestion.  I slowly got up, stretched, then went into my meditation room and sat on the floor and watched the sun rise with its swirls of tangerine, periwinkle and violet blending in the early morning sky.  It was good to be in the moment.  As the new day unfolded, I took in deep, clear breaths, cleared my mind, and then flipped through one of my meditation books for some inspiration.

In The Meditation Year, by Jane Hope, I came across the following passage:

“…Another distinctive form of Buddhism is practiced in Tibet and the Himalayan regions and is known as Vajrayana or Tantra.  The unique quality of Vajrayana is that it brings the precise experience of the awakened state into everyday life.  The monastic ideal is not held to be as important as in other forms of Buddhism, and the essence of Vajrayana is that any circumstances can be used as a way to develop wakefulness.  The tradition has stories of people from all walks of life who became enlightened through meditative practice.”

I considered the essence of meditation as a way to develop wakefulness.  I do need to wake up.  Literally and figuratively.  And I have been working on it.  The return of yoga and meditation in my life certainly moves me toward wakefulness and enlightenment. 

After a productive day at work, I was the last to leave the winery this evening and I had never been instructed on how to set the alarm, so I called the owner and followed his instructions as he walked me through setting the alarm.  I drove off thinking about metaphors for setting our own alarm systems.  I’ve wanted to protect my heart for so long, and so I had intuitively set my own alarm.  This has prevented intruders from breaking in, which is a good thing.  But, it may also deny access to decent visitors looking to find a nice, safe home.  I had even put up steel bars on the windows!  But I think I am able to better monitor the alarm system.  Best, I think I know when to disarm or arm it. 

 

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Monday, October 29
11:37 p.m.

After work I headed over to the gym and worked out for forty-five minutes, running on the treadmill and then kicking it on the stationary bike.  I then did fifty jumping jacks in sets of tens.  I no longer felt a contrition for having missed out on my work outs, lately. 

At some point, you have to forgive yourself a little – for over-indulging on food that tastes so good that you feel like you are in a constant state of nirvana or for missing out on a week’s worth of working out because you are busy and tired and need a break.  You have to accept yourself for who you are, too, and I have stopped trying to sculpt myself into a perfect size, in a perfect body with perfect lines.  At some point, you have to realize a achieving balance is more important that achieving perfection.  That has been my grand Satori these days.

After a small portioned dessert of rice pudding and fresh organic strawberries, I boiled some water and finished my evening with a comforting cup of Yogi Tea in Sweet Thai Delight.  One of the things I love about Yogi brand teas, again another great Oregon product based in Eugene, is the affirmative messages or fortunes on the tags.  My affirmation read:  Your greatest strength is love.

It is truly an affirmation on so many levels, including the spirit behind this blog, of course.  I love serendipity.

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Sunday, October 28
9:55 p.m.

I missed church and threw in three loads of laundry instead.  I caught up with family over the phone. 

On Saturday I had purchased a CD of musicians Rodrigo y Gabriela, a Latin guitar duo whose music, to the untrained ear, sounds a lot like Flemenco, although they adamantly describe their sound as a blend of a lot of styles and not Flemenco.  There’s a track called Satori, which my ear is happily drawn to.  I opened up the CD and read what this song was about.  They explain:

“(In) April 99, only one week has passed since we arrived in Ireland from Mexico and we had run out of money, our English was crap, and circumstances forced us to get rid of our beloved egos so we could play on the streets (before long we had got our egos back, no worries).  We experienced terrible feelings of uncertainty and we couldn’t see how the decision we made of leaving lovely sunny Mexico was a good one.  We needed faith and although that sounds cheesy and bullshit, that’s how it felt.

Satori is a word that Zen monks use to describe an enlightening moment, and when we think back, we feel like we’ve experienced it, although we didn’t know it at the time.”

As I listened to the beautiful, expressive, passionate strums and beats of this very talented duo, I close my eyes and take in the Satori, the enlightening moment.  I have had my own Zen experiences lately and I don’t think there’s any coincidence in this revelation, nor this introduction to new artists whose music simply makes me feel good.

I drove to Portland listening to Rodrigo y Gabriela.  I was meeting Claudia for dinner at DF, a relatively new Mexican restaurant on 11th and Northrup in the Pearl District.  I got there early and ordered a glass of Albariño at the bar.  The place was empty.  Eventually a couple tables filled and Claudia walked through the door in a lovely, bright turquoise shawl.  We had a margarita then each started off with an appetizer. I had the shrimp with garlic, olive oil and peppers, which was fantastic.  The garlic was in whole cloves.  Then I ordered tacos a la carte, with soft corn shells.  I had the taco pastor, with a savory marinated pork, and the taco pescos with a light, batter-free sautéed fish and a side of black beans.  I finished with a delicate flan dusted with cinnamon and a cup of decaf.  It was a wonderful dinner.

 

It’s always fun to catch up with Claudia.  I always hear great stories of her developing love life, which is entertaining, engaging and enviable!  She gets the attention of some interesting, international men – Austrian, Czech.  She giggles she likes her men like Wonder bread – white.  All kidding aside, she is fearless in dating, in that she is comfortable in her flirtiness, and sets boundaries but has her fun.  It’s refreshing to be around someone who experiences such joie de vivre. 

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Saturday, October 27
12:55 p.m.

I got up and ran errands.  I went to the DMV and got my new Oregon driver’s license.  I loved my old photo and hoped they could just pull it up and use it.  The license still had a few years before expiring.  But, I had to take a new shot, to my dismay, as I was wearing a ball cap over uncombed hair.  I quickly went to the restroom to primp a little and put on some lip gloss.  I had a really hideous photo for my Washington license, which, I think, reflected how I felt being there.  My Oregon license had to be a good one!  The ladies behind the counter made me laugh, teasing me for coming in with uncombed hair, but fussed over me and made sure I’d get a good shot.  This was pretty funny, actually.  This makes me sound pretty vain, but that wasn’t the spirit behind my wish for a decent license photo.  I was certainly no Posh Spice, or Victoria Beckham, flailing about poses in an L.A. drivers license photo shoot.

In any case, I ran over to Bridgeport Village and picked up a few clothing pieces at REI and Spanish cheese and almonds for a “tapas” dish for a party I was going to later on.  I saw this very cute guy in the coffee line.  He had a ball cap on, he was tall, dressed sporty, was lean and very attractive.  I walked by a couple of turns.  Our eyes met and shy, I looked away.  I filled my basket with what I needed then went over to the wine department to pick up a Spanish Rosé, that happened to be organic.  The cute guy walked by the wine department, glanced over, then walked on.  After I went through the check out line, I was disappointed in myself.  I have no spine when it comes to approaching the opposite sex.  I have this old fashioned idea that I need to be approached, and not the reverse.

I met up with Susan later for a Halloween party, only neither one of us were dressed up.  She had a cute cat mask and a tray of lovely deviled eggs.  We went to her cousins’ annual “tapas” Halloween party.  It was actually adorable.  There was a couple brilliantly dressed as a figure skating pair.  And there was a man dressed up as a furry hairball, while his daughter was a pink cat, which was very cute.  But, I did feel a little bit the Bridget Jones character.  All marrieds with their very sugared-up kids running around, and the parents were all over-the-edge exhausted by 8:30 p.m.  I just could not relate.  I’m used to socializing with fabulous, interesting single, childless thirty-somethings, and I am sure if I were married with children I would have adored that party. 

Susan and I then went for a quick bite at Lauro, a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant on Division.  Despite the atmosphere of mostly couples on dates, it was a pleasant space.  The service was impeccable, but the food was somewhat predictable.  I had a glass of Prosecco, acorn squash soup, again a fall staple, and a shrimp small plate in a garlic and tomato ragu.  I was pretty tired after the noshing session, which was around 10:30 p.m.  I dropped Susan off and then went to The Vault for a quick drink of bubbly topped with Pear puree.  I wanted to see the Halloween costumes, since I didn’t dress up.  It was interesting.  I met a nice guy from Colorado who I wasn’t really into, but he was very nice, engaging and funny.  I left by 11:30 and got home at a decent hour.

I felt a sad, pale sense of aloneness.  I praise and embrace my independence and singlehood.  It has been very important to me for quite some time.  But, following the party of very domestic families and the date-heavy restaurant scene, I was feeling more alone than independent, which was unusual for me.  It was strange to feel a little down, but it wouldn’t last for long.  I had lots to look forward to and couldn’t really be held down by missing something that’s not mine to have right now.  I have a full, wonderful life.  The moment I was thrown into the world of what’s still considered socially expected for people my age, I needed to free myself from feeling any failures for not upholding that standard or any obligation to uphold that conforming standard.  Truth was, I was okay.  It would all be okay.  And I would soon get lost in my work and plans that have helped to define who I am today.  I am grateful for this, as it gives me incredible comfort and reassurance, reminding me that I am living a whole life, a worthwhile and meaningful life, and it’s not defined by anyone’s standards but my own.

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Friday, October 26
11:15 p.m.

I left work with every intention of going to a Power Vinyassa yoga class (hot yoga) and then meeting up with a friend for a Halloween Party; because I didn’t have a costume, and because I’d be sweaty from yoga, I was seriously thinking about slinging my yoga bag, donning the cushy flip flops, slipping on a clean pair of velvety soft yoga pants, and a yoga top with matching hoodie and portraying the “dirty, sweaty hot yoga girl”. 

But by the time I got home from work, I was too late to make it to Yoga Pearl for the 6:30 p.m. class, so I made plans to meet Susan at Cook Park for a walk.  We got in a 30 minute work out and talked about dating.  On Wednesday night I had run into a guy who a colleague tried to set me up with.  It’s a long story, but he saw my picture in Portland Monthly Magazine a couple of years ago, when I did the date auction to benefit the local Ronald McDonald charities, and he saw that I was a writer and wine industry professional.  To make the long story short, our mutual friend gave him my number and we chatted on the phone once.  He said he’d call back and never did.  I didn’t really lose any sleep over it. 

Fast forward, and he arrived at the wine shop where we were celebrating our friend’s birthday, and I didn’t recognize him because I never met him in person.  Kerry was up at the bar chatting with him, and she was glowing.  He was tall, his head was shaved and he was very well dressed.  A good looking man.  After awhile, when we were all getting ready to leave, Kerry introduced me to this guy, explaining he’s a writer, etc.  I immediately figured out he was the guy I had the phone conversation with a couple years ago.  We chatted for a moment, reminiscing about our mutual friend, our phone conversation, etc.  He told me he’d be happy to give me advice on getting an agent, so I gave him my business card.  I didn’t want Kerry to think I was interfering with their conversation.  When he left, I was sure to tell her that there was never a connection between us, and that he never called me back, etc. 


It’s funny how certain people ebb and flow in and out of your life.  Kerry had a similar story with this guy; she had met him on a running path, but nothing ever panned out.  It will be interesting to see if this guy floats around in our world. 

So, Susan and I chat about this among other things about single men floating around in Portland.  We then drive over to Bridgeport Village and pick up tickets for the movie Dan In Real Life, a romantic comedy starring Steve Carrel of t.v.’s The Office and The Forty Year Old Virgin.   We grab a bite to eat at Splitz wine bar.  We chatted with the bartender, Ed, from Philly, about Philly.  I ate the sweet potato and quinoa soup, which was an autumn standard.  Then I had the spinach salad with steak and a glass of Barbera D’Alba, which was light and fruity, with a touch of bitter cherry.  After dinner, we ran over to Borders and I bought a CD, the new Robert Plant and Alison Krauss collaboration called Rising Sand.  And then I bought two works of poetry, The Lives of the Heart by Jane Hirshfield and Second Space by Czeslaw Milosz.  I couldn’t wait to open these books up and take in a poem, one by one, as if plucking literary petals from a ‘he loves me, he loves me not’ flower.

As for the movie, I was very interested in seeing it because of a few hilarious commercial previews I had seen on t.v.  The movie did not disappoint.  It was by no means an Oscar picture, but it showed a pleasant range in comic actor Carrel’s usual body of work.  The movie was likeable and Carrel was charming as columnist Dan.  Co-star Dane Cook, who I always thought was a kind of B-rated schmuck, had some funny moments as Dan’s brother in this film, especially when he sang a crazy song about a potential love interest for his lonely bro, Dan, who happened to be smitten by Cook’s girlfriend played by Juliette Binoche.  Dan’s family is kind of a harsh, New England family.  This film has an excellent cast.  And even though the parents, portrayed by John Mahoney of t.v.’s Frasier and Diane Weist, there was a kind of sweetnes in their activity and family time.  You don’t really get any deep insights on the siblings they’re almost like extras taking up space, crowding up the grandparents’ home.   Some of the scenes were mildly gratuitous as the secondary characters could have been better developed.  But Carrel warms you over and makes up for some of the dragging moments, especially in his interactions with his daughters and the other smaller children.

I hadn’t been to a movie since early August when I went to see No Reservations, the Catherine Zeta-Jones film about a chef who ends up with custody of her niece Zoe, Abigail Breslin, after her sister was tragically killed in a car accident.  It starts of a downer, but it does get lighter.  It’s based on a German film, Mostly Martha, which I hear is better than the American remake.  Go figure.  In any case, I guess I have been into light hearted romantic stories, without intention.  I’m just not into action or suspense these days or anything else that’s going to get me worked up or stressed out.

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Thursday, October 25
10:16 p.m., the largest full moon of the year (30% brighter that it typically is in a very clear sky…which means a very chilly tomorrow morning)

Today I querried another literary agent, with the hopes of getting representation.  It is common knowledge that all writers must accept rejection before a big break.  I don’t know what I expect.  But, I just keep hoping.  I keep persevering. 

I went to the gym after work.  It felt good to get in some cardio on the treadmill.  I did intervals of brisk walking for thirty-five minutes, burning around 225 calories.  After, I went to grab a bowl of pho soup. 

While at the restaurant, I couldn’t help but hear the conversation of a young, Asian-American couple.  The man was in scrubs and looked absolutely exhausted.  His young wife had arrived after him with their small daughter, who was about two-and-a-half years old.  The wife kept rambling on about schools and the mundane things she did that day.  It was clear she was a stay-at-home-mom.  Her husband, hunched over his food, couldn’t look more disinterested in his wife’s shopping and playgrounds.  I could feel his energy funneling like a tornado and almost thundering out loud, “please, ask me about my day, ask me about the young man I resuscitated, or the heart I held in my hands before transplanting it into an aging woman giving the fight of her life,” which she never did.  He seemed very passive, still needing to feel important.  She seemed more aggressive, also needing to feel important.  They seemed so disconnected, so out of synch.  It made me wonder about the dynamics of couples that start families.

There’s that heavy decision for the woman to work or to stay at home with her children, or to try to juggle both.  But, more often than not, and especially for those who attempt to do the juggling act, these women are doing twice or even three times the work of their spouses.  There’s the guilt factor that weighs in heavily for making a choice, one way or the other.  You’re either selfish if you want to work, or you have no ambition or social value if you stay at home.  And, really, while it’s wonderful that women today are able to make a choice, social pressures unfairly make it difficult for women to seek the balance they really long for.   Of course, this isn’t always the case.  It just happens a lot.

So, on one hand I felt sorry for her because it seemed like she was desperate to speak with an adult and just rambled on about nonsense, probably because she wasn’t getting any stimulation during her day to formulate more engaging conversation.  And I don’t mean for this to sound stereotypical, judgmental or insulting.  There are many sacrifices made in raising your own children.  But, on the other hand, she was basically unable to stimulate her husband, she couldn’t read him and I just felt the vibrating asymmetry of their energy.  It was stifling, actually.  And it terrified me.  Having children changes everything.  And much of it is good stuff.  But, I wondered how much of the work she was doing by herself and how crazy that was actually making her.  Were they really happy with the decisions they made on behalf of their family?

Perhaps it’s unfair that I observe this family.  And perhaps it’s even more unfair for me to draw conclusions based on my observations.  Irrespective, this couple really made me think about the dynamics of modern marriages.  Are they modern or still a little bit behind the times?  I often think about the role of women in today’s society and I don’t have the answers.  I guess you just have to do what your gut tells you is the best thing for you and your family.  But, I think it is very important, and not selfish at all, to think of yourself in that equation, guilt-free and ever mindful of creating self-happiness that ultimately benefits the whole family in the long run.

 

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Wednesday, October 24

(written on Thursday, October 25)

After work, I stopped by home to change clothes and drove out to Alberta Street to Everyday Wine for my friend’s birthday party.  We put a bunch of dark wood tables together, we brought different snacks, most deliciously a gracious selection of French, Italian and Oregon cheeses paired with an exquisite black truffle pâte and a luscious fig spread.  We each bought wines from the selections available in the store.  I bought a light and aromatic Minervois, one of my favorite French gems.  We actually started off with Champagne, then decorated the table with bottles of Australian Shiraz, a Sicilian Nero D’Avola, an Italian Barbera D’Alba, and a vegetal Saumur from the Loire Valley.  It felt like we were celebrating her birthday in a little wine bar in Paris.  It was exquisite.

Afterwards, we went out for Hot Toddies at a neighboring bar.  It was a great night with wonderful friends.  We made New Year’s Eve plans with our Cameron Diaz-clone friend, Kat, for a party on the Oregon coast.  Very exciting!  I love this group of friends.  And I am very excited about the festive season upon us.   We’re all making plans for a black dress bubbles night – we have a group of women that gets together in a great restaurant in Portland every now and again for bubbly and networking.  Since we’re getting into the holiday season, we want to dress things up a little and really kick off the season.

Susan’s family invited me and Kerry out to their cabin near Bend for Thanksgiving.  Depending on my work schedule, I may join them.  It sounds so lovely – snowshoeing at night, good food and company.  We’ll see!  I’ve never been to Bend, so I’m hoping this works out.

I’m thinking about hosting a holiday party with the theme of ‘around the world’, where people are assigned a region for wine and a paired appetizer, depending on the first letters of their first name.

I love this time of year.  I am smiling just thinking about the social season with great people, great food and great wine!

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