Sunday, March 29, 2009

South Park Walkabout: Something For Everyone

Last night was out last South Park Walkabout.
It's my parents birthday weekend (they were born a day apart) and my grandparents are in town, so we started the evening with pizza down at Mazara's Pizza and Deli. We had some good food, made fun of my sister with a friendly game of "telephone" (my grandmother now thinks Eva likes a guy named "Eugene Andrew Six Pack"), and Dad was grooving to the live guitar music.
What's great about the Walkabout, aside from the fact that people are out and about and the local shops stay open late, is that there is something there for everyone...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bug Eyes, Babies and Badgers

Having big eyes is great when you want to bat your lashes to get out of a red light ticket, but they are not ideal when there is something you're trying to hide.

See, I have this little problem with babies...I think they're ugly. I understand people are proud of their little bundles of joy and drool, and rightfully so...they went through nine months of hell to get them, but as a bystander who isn't blinded by parental bias, all I see is a scaly, little alien-like creature. Of course, I was one of parents lovingly refer to me as "ET" in my first baby picture. The good news is that there is hope for most children who grow into semi-cute toddlers.

My problem arises when I'm walking and pass parents with a baby, and the baby gets mesmerized by my big eyes and makes a funny face at me (funnier than normal), and my eyes bug out (buggier than normal) and my face contorts into a combo expression of surprise, disgust and sheer horror, which wouldn't be so bad if only the baby saw me...but when the parents see my saucer eyes emitting anything less than adoration for their little blob of "cuteness," they huff and puff and angrily carry on.

Well, I bring this up because I feel slightly vindicated for years of angry looks after having our dog, Maya. I know Maya isn't my baby but she feels like it, and walking with her you are guaranteed to get bugged-out eyeballs all along the way. The other day two guys walked by and one practically yelled, "What IS THAT!?" The other said, "I don't KNOW!" and they started laughing hysterically. People pull over on the side of the road when we're walking to get a better look at her. One woman asked if she was part badger.

I used to think I was a horrible person for not being able to control my facial expressions, but I feel better knowing that others can't least not when it comes to a dog that looks like a badger. And as that badger's "mother," I understand how there are just some faces that only a mother could love.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gods Of The Sea

Almost five years ago my sister and I came to visit California for the first time. After my parents dropped the "We're moving 3,000 miles away" bomb, I felt a twinge of excitement, but also skepticism. My sister was just plain mad; she was graduating high school and would have to leave her friends behind. There was, however, one thing that convinced us both that San Diego was a perfectly acceptable place to move: Surfers.

Picture this: It was mid-January; we had left a freezing cold small town where at the moment everyone was wearing at least three layers; a place where you could count the number of "hot" guys on one hand...make that one finger. Six hours later, we landed in a place that felt a million degrees warmer and the guys were a million times hotter. I have never seen so many of them (San Diego is one of the few cities that statistically has more men than women) and I was instantly mesmerized by the flocks of surfers bobbing in the waves like birds (in fact, from a distance I thought they were birds I swear that's why I was staring).

There is a certain (top secret) street where all the surfers emerge from the beach and wrap towels around their waists so they can change out of their wetsuits. Let's just call this place Heaven. When we discovered Heaven, Eva started giggling and squealing uncontrollably and I was grinning so hard my cheeks hurt (this signature grin is an involuntary reaction I have had around boys since I was three years old...I don't even try to hide it from Tommie who can see it overtaking my face from a mile away).

But those darn surfers are the most elusive species I have ever seen. Of all the guys wandering the streets of San Diego and out at the bars at night, we never ran into a true surfer and they certainly weren't going to talk to us on the beach when they had a wave to catch. I began to think they all lived in some secret underwater world...emerging from the waves in early morning and diving back under at night like mysterious gods of the sea. We tried to get close to them in their natural habitat...I took lessons once with my Dad where I quickly mastered the wipe-out; and Eva and I rented surf boards in Pacific Beach so we could legally enter the "surf zone." I rode the board in on my stomach while Eva simply floated there with her arms folded on the top of the board, all googley-eyed, saying, "I love surfing." I had pictured guys circling around us in the water like hungry sharks, but they stayed at least 20-feet away making sure we didn't get in their way.

I could be upset that I'm leaving California without swooning over the one thing I came out here to swoon for, but then again it's probably better this way. I can remember them the way I want to. No one ever called me "dude" and wrecked the whole thing. No one ever talked to me at all. Like the surfer statues that dot the coastline out here, I can remember them as chiseled god-like creatures who let me get just close enough to smile at their six-packs while their stone-cold gaze stayed fixed on the ocean before they jumped in to catch the next wave...or to get away from the creepy girl who wouldn't stop grinning at them...thankfully, I will never know which.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

There is a part of me that's in disbelief about our upcoming move. Sure, we've talked about it for months, and I knew the time would go by fast, but with departure time fast approaching, I feel less prepared than ever (mentally, at least). In my mind I kind of stall the  process, trying to trick myself into thinking that I have more time than I really do. Meanwhile, the world carries on, wasting no time in shooing us along. Already our life in San Diego is up for rent.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Press Release

Our cross-country moving plans have officially been announced to all important parties...our families, friends back home, the grandparents we'll be staying with when we first get there, my boss and our landlord. There's no turning back. A lot is still undetermined and that scares me, but I know that's what happens when we set a part of our lives into motion with change. In one month we'll hop in that Penske truck, car in tow, and drive (at a painfully slow pace) back to where we came from. Maya will think one of those big trucks she's so scared of finally swallowed her whole, just as she feared.

Naturally, I have been plotting and planning the move for months now, and I am making sure we take care of all the details asap. We've pre-ordered a couple books on tape (since Tommie refuses to listen to 18-hours of "Great Expectations"I can't imagine whywe settled on "Beloved" read by the author Toni Morrison and "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury); I bought a spanking new "Tush Cush" for my sensitive derrière; I'm starting to sell so many things on Craigslist they are going to start calling it Amberslist, and I've been yelling at Tommie on an hourly basis to organize his stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of this month he and Maya drive the truck home without me.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gear Up For National Poetry Month

For all the poetic souls out there, now is the time to sign up for your poem-a-day e-mails in preparation for National Poetry Month in April.

Even though poetry has taken somewhat of a backseat in my life since graduation to be replaced by the burdens of "the real world," it's still an ever-important part of my being. In April I'll highlight some of my favorite poets, but for now here is a poem to get you thinking. I'm reminded of the quote by Robert Frost, "No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader." This is how some of the best poetry wanders like an unpredictable dream. The words and thoughts come as a surprise and leave you questioning how the poem got there, and also how you got to where you are in your own life.

Intro To Poetry
By Steven Bauer

You thought it was math that taught

the relation of time and speed
but it's farther than you knew
from that sun-lit white-walled classroom
to this darkened lounge with its couch
and overstuffed chairs. How many miles,
would you say, since you talked

as if poetry were no distorting mirror,
one-way street? But listen, sometimes
it's like this, a stranger's Ford pulls up,
and you, with no plans for the afternoon,
get in. He doesn't talk, stares at the road

and it's miles before you understand

you didn't want to travel. His lips say no
as you reach for the radio's knob.

In this silence you fall deeper

into yourself, and even the car
disappears, the stranger's face
into faded upholstery, and all things
being equal, you're alone as though

you've wandered into a forest with night

coming on, no stars, the memory of sun
and a voice's asking
Is this my life?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Mean Girls

When I read fiction I want to encounter characters. Of course every fiction novel has characters in it, but what I’m looking for are characters who are characters. I don’t know what this says about my own character, but my favorite books of all time have one thing in common—mean girls.

When I took a 19th century literature class in college my favorite book was “Wuthering Heights,” by Emily Bronte. My friend who took the class with me thought I was crazy...she swooned over Jane Austen and couldn’t understand how I could like a book with such mean characters in it, and I realized that was exactly why I liked it. Catherine was mean; she was real; she was torn, and multi-dimensional (Heathcliff was no walk in the park either).

In that same class we read Dickens’s “David Copperfield.” My friend loved this one, so you can probably guess where I stood on bored me to tears. I almost swore off Dickens’s entirely...until I met Miss Havisham and Estella in “Great Expectations.” A crazy old woman dressed in her tattered wedding gown living in a rundown mansion training her young daughter to become a that's a character. If you ask me, Pip, (the main character) had everything little David Copperfield did not...he had mean girls in his life. They asked Pip to come visit and ordered him to dance around a rotting wedding cake; pretty young Estella kissed him then made him cry within the same breath...(I know what you’re thinking...and I have never made someone dance around a rotting wedding cake.)

I know this will come as a shock, but girls can be caddy; I have always respected girls who were just outright mean because then, at least, everyone was being honest. The truth is, I grew up with friends full of wit and sassiness who I think these novel characters could have been based on (indeed, at times, I've thought they could be based on me). These girls were smart, sarcastic, funny and, yes, slightly sinister.
I can’t help emitting a little smirk while I’m reading these books and thinking of the characters who entered my own life. Call me crazy, but I miss these mean girls.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ancient History

Growing up and hearing older generations tell stories of their childhood and adulthood, it seemed like they experienced some of the most unimaginable changes. The things that older people experienced in their lifetime (Wars, The Depression, advances in technology) seemed like myths, as if these things only happened because the people and the world were "older" back then. I didn't think that much could possibly occur in my own life because we had already come so much more could happen in such a relatively short amount of time?

Maybe because I've reached my quarter-life crisis, or because the world now seems to be teetering on the brink of big change or collapse, I suddenly understand how easy it is for change (and a lot of it) to occur in one's lifetime. I'm only in my mid-twenties and can already think of several things I did/saw that my own children will not: they may never be served a free meal on an airplane in coach; they won't shop at Linen's 'n' Things, Mervyns or countless other stores I did; they will never drive (maybe even see) a Pontiac, one of the first cars I started driving; they won't know life without caller ID (when I used to have to screen calls by lying...I told my parents to tell people I was in the shower all the time); they won't be able to drive directly over the Hoover Dam like I did on my way to California; they won't place metal coat hangers on top of their TV to get a clearer picture; and they will just know that women and people of color can run for and become President.

Already, I have experienced war, a recession, technology I can't even follow anymore.  My grandchildren will read about the world I grew up in, and these moments I am living will become their flash cards for history class. It's hard to fully understand a time before our own lives because learning it is not the same thing as living it. I want to remember all these moments as best I can because they are most alive when they are happening, and they flicker in our memories for some time after until the last person who lived that moment passes on and it's no longer documented in a living mind but exists only in the library archives.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's A Dog'on Good Life

If there is one group who benefits most from the weather and the parks in San's the dogs. The neighborhood we live in (South Park) caters most to our canine companions with a self-service dog wash (South Bark) where dogs get a complimentary blueberry facial; attentive dog groomers like Yuko on 30th Street; and of course, Grape Street Dog Park within walking distance. Only in San Diego would a large, well-landscaped park overlooking the skyline be reserved for the dogs. Of course there are countless other dog parks in San Diego (including a section of Coronado Beach). This is the place to be if you're a dog. We're not telling Maya that we're moving yet...she might never forgive us.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Shadow Self-Portrait

"Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings—always darker, emptier and simpler" —Nietzsche

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Woes Of A Worrywart

I've decided I don't make a very good human being...and by this, I'm not talking about how I'm not a very nice human being...that's a different story...what I mean is that sometimes I think I would have made a better cat or bird...or rock, and this is mainly because I worry too much. The curse of the homosapien is that you know too much, and the more you know, the more you have to worry about.

Most people get excited about the future. I get scared. I think it has to do with my urge to control everything...I can control what's presently in my life because I know it's there already, but it's the uncertain variables in the future that drive me batty. How am I supposed to prepare (and I do love to prepare) for what I don't know is coming? I'm not, right?

I know I should be more optimistic about the future, and sometimes I am...I do have dreams I look forward to, but when the boat starts to rock a little, I want to grab a life vest (or three just to be safe) and paddle like hell back to a familiar shore. What I hate the most is when I'm the one causing all the waves. When I make decisions, I am responsible for their consequences. Of course, I know there are two sides and that there is such a thing as a good decision...and things have a way of just working out most of the time, but even with this knowledge, I can't stop fretting.

This is one of those posts I'll probably regret ever writing when I'm 85 years old, but right now all I can seem to focus on is the wide open, terrifying space between now and then.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Color My World

I heard that it's snowing again back east. Talking to one of my friends on the phone today, she said she's ready for the season of gray to be over. For those living in the colder regions, here are some images of color and light to remind you that it's on the way. (Photos taken at the rose garden in Balboa Park, San Diego...and my neighbor's yard.)