Thursday, January 27, 2011

Up Here

Blog-neglecting busy lately, but in the best possible way!

For the first time ever, I feel like a real writer, and though I know that blogging and journaling and poetry are all valid forms of writing, there is nothing like seeing my name in print. Fingertips smudging the words I labored over at my kitchen table for days. Even more thrilling: getting to conduct interviews, chase down stories, sort the truths from the half-truths in the deep well of Internet research.

On Tuesday afternoon (thanks to a glorious day off of school) I got to interview Pulitzer Prize-winning nationally-recognized animated cartoonist Mark Fiore, at his studio in an undisclosed location in San Francisco. I thought I might melt with anxiety and anticipation. We talked for an hour, my papers sprouting notes like weeds, and when it was over, I drove straight to a cozy cafe and pounded out my story. Now it just needs some serious tinkering, which my obsessive mind sometimes takes a wee too seriously. I know I'm being overly dramatic here, but I don't want to wind up like poor Joan Rivers, driven to do nothing but work for some idealized perfection, too consumed to enjoy the fresh air and birdies.

Luckily, my other life as a teacher keeps me grounded and humble. On Monday we took a field trip to San Francisco and had a grand time cruising the botanical gardens in Golden Gate Park before heading to the marina beach and the hyped-up House of Air, a giant warehouse filled with interconnecting trampolines. We jumped until we were sweaty, played trampoline dodge-ball, then jumped some more. By the end of our hour-long session, I'd learned how to literally jump off the walls. Afterward, on the way back home, In and Out Burger never tasted so good.

The pinnacle of relaxation happened a couple of weeks ago, when M and I went to Osmosis spa for enzyme baths (the perfect wedding gift). We drank tea in a private meditation room overlooking a Japanese garden with a waterfall. Then we sank into a hot bath full of pencil-shavings (not really, but that's what it looks like) heated to 130 degrees by the natural fermentation of enzymes eating away at the sawdust. Like fancy, detoxifying, skin-enriching compost. An attendant came by with cool cloths for our faces and sips of water. Afterward I felt light, smooth, and ravenously hungry.

We ate a four course Italian meal at Negri's restaurant in the perfect 19th century village of Occidental. I sipped grenadine and munched on salami and pickled cauliflower and felt like I was on vacation. We climbed the hill above the white church, breathing hard in the cool evening fog, a huge lit-up peace sign reigning over everything. No success in the world like feeling peaceful and content in your own body, your own life.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Exploding Myths

In 2011, let's hear it for myth-busting. Yep. I'd like to challenge my dearly-held beliefs about myself and my life to a round in the ring.

“I don't like the cold.” It's true that I am a summer creature at heart, but this should not mean that each winter Saturday that dawns gloomy must besmirch my mood. No more letting myself succumb to interior rainy weather just because the sun refuses to shine. Yesterday I took an epic muddy bike ride all around Spring Lake, came home with icy hands and ears, but felt amazing.

“I have no time to write.” Just a week into the new year and already this one's been knocked about. If I have deadlines, I have (I make!) the time to write, and somehow I always end up finishing something I'm at the least not embarrassed of, but often that I really like. Now, I know those literary magazines out there are not waiting around for my essays, so I've got to figure out a way to impose deadlines on myself, to actually finish tinkering, and release my words by submitting them.

“At 32, life is ripening too rapidly, I'm getting too old to...” This is just poppycock lunacy that I succumb to in my worst moments, like when I feel wiped out after a late night in San Francisco. I refuse to go gray-hair searching in the mirror just to make myself feel bad anymore! And: if I can learn Auld Lang Syne on the piano by reading the notes, I can still learn all kinds of songs.

“There is nothing to do in Sonoma County.” After nearly eight years in this county, sometimes it feels like I've explored every last forest meadow and beach cove, have seen the same bands too many times, have strolled the same neighborhood streets in the same little towns over and over again. And yet. I know there are still plenty of rocks to overturn. Just this past Friday, in fact, I took some students hiking at Shiloh Regional Park, a wholly new slice of green foggy goodness, and M and I discovered the Schulz museum's movie night: Alfred Hitchcock and candy bars for only three bucks each.

“I lack discipline for rituals.” Maybe it's my Catholic upbringing, but I absolutely love ritualistic living, prayers before meals and reading before bed-time. I want to take my spiritual exploration to new heights in order to better ground myself and enhance my marriage. Focusing on intentions and releasing worries are things that are easy to talk about, harder to actually do. Last Sunday, finally home after our harrowing travel experience, M and I took all of our travel-related documents and set them aflame atop our altar in the garden. Then we took turns throwing poppers on the pavement and shouting our good-byes to the junk of last year.