Saturday, February 24, 2007

Wild dreams fall short

I went to the drugstore today, in search of a shampoo that would help eliminate chlorine build-up. (I’ve been swimming quite a bit.) I was surprised to find a brand I used more than twenty years ago: Nexxus Aloe Rid.

Smelling the shampoo as I lathered transported me back to my early teens. I closed my eyes to rinse it off and felt I was back in my room at my father’s house. We used to spend weekends by the pool, swimming, lying in the sun and eating jicama with lemon and chili powder.

I remember that room, and the sense of independence it gave me. (It wasn’t inside the house – hurray!) I liked to read (Nancy Drew), listen to music (The Beatles) and write in my journal. Above all else, I’d wonder what I would do when I grew up. I didn’t dream, or imagine anything specific – I just felt awash in possibilities. From birth I had been assured I had potential, but what did that mean? What would I do? Where would I live?

In my wildest (and not entirely original) dreams, I imagined me living in a house by the ocean. Inside that house, I knew I would be writing. Which is exactly what I’m doing – but so much more. I’m happy. I like the person that I am. I don’t depend on others economically (a primal concern of mine growing up), have one of the best marriages of anyone I know, and for the most part, like what I do for a living.

If I could talk to me, to the girl I was all those years ago, she would be incredulous. She would be proud. She would love Luca (and would think that the fact he’s Italian was totally cool). She’d be completely impressed with what I do for a living (YOU? In high tech? HA!). She’d laugh at the fact I like to cook and that I pride myself in being a good housewife. (I love to do laundry and iron.) If I took her on one of my hikes, she’d find it hard to believe I live in such a beautiful place. She’d be wide-eyed with my mountain biking abilities. I’d tell her I love to travel, and she’d nod. (She’d already know that.)

That curly haired kid would ask me why the heck I haven’t written a book. (I’m going, I’m going!)

The fact that the person I am today would make the girl I was yesterday proud hadn’t really occurred to me, and it makes me feel like the most fortunate human being on Earth.

All this from an eight-dollar bottle of shampoo. What a steal.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


So much has happened since I last wrote (all good! all good!) that I feel my last entry was, at the very least, several weeks ago.

- My mom, who hadn’t been feeling well, is back. I hear it in her voice, I see it in her emails, but most notably I feel a dark cloud has been lifted off me. Welcome back, mom.

- I attended a three day seminar and learned so much I can’t even put it into words yet. I’m still taking it in. And thinking. And thinking. Applying what I learned makes me feel like I flipped a switch on the world.

- Luca has a new blog. It’s about global warming. Well, it’s about you, and what you can do about global warming. The last time he had a blog it was about the World Cup, and he stopped writing when Italy won (what more was there to say after that?) So I’m hopeful about the impact his second blog will have. Today, a soccer championship. Tomorrow, the world.

- My father too has re-ignited his blog. It’s about (what else?) politics.

Curiously, in the midst of all this, I fell in love with the Phoenix – the bird that rises from the ashes and is a symbol of rebirth. It’s everywhere: In Egyptian folklore (its tears heal all wounds), In Christian art; a Phoenix is the chariot for Hindu God Vishnu. It exists in Greek and Roman mythology as well as in Russian Folklore (Zhar-Ptitsa – right, Arseny?).

In the Old Testament, the Phoenix is the only animal that doesn’t join Adam when he’s expelled from Paradise.

Shakespeare mentions the Phoenix in The Tempest – and most recently, the Phoenix is found in Harry Potter books, as Dumbledore’s pet.

There is a Chinese Phoenix called FengHuang, that attacks snakes with its talons and wings spread (much like the symbol on the Mexican flag.) FengHuang is the power sent from heaven to the Empress. In a house, it symbolizes loyalty and honesty, high virtue and grace. It's the union of ying and yang. In most Chinese representations, FengHuang are found with dragons. Together, they symbolize blissful relations between husband and wife.

Life is so delicious. Just when you think you’re a skeptic, along comes a FengHuang.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Best ever...

Luca and I just got back from a trip to Baja California, where we went to ride our bikes, kayak and hike along the cliffs.

The trip was so awe inspiring that we realized we could actually make a list of seven "best ever" experiences.

Here it is:

Best view of a pelican.
We visited several tiny islands, moving from one to another on our
kayak. As we came around the fourth island we found ourselves in the midst of a pelican colony. Because the kayak is so quiet we were able to get up as close as I've ever been to a pelican. There was tension in the air. They looked at us suspiciously. The only sound we could hear as we stared at them and they stared at us was the occasional flapping of their wings and the plunk sound of one diving into the water.

Best whale watching.
We've been whale watching six times (maybe more) but we've never seen so many whales so close on a panga so small, not even in Alaska.

Most technical bike ride.
Nothing screams "live in the present and don't think about anything
else" like a really sandy, really rocky, really pebbly road with
abundant prickly plants along its fringes. Which leads directly into
the next item.

First time I've ever fallen off the bike.
I live in fear of falling and I did and lived. My arm, leg and hip are bruised and scratched. I look like the brave warrior that I am and show off the scars to my coworkers.

Best view from a hotel terrace.
From the terrace of the hotel we could see scraggly mountains, desert and tall Cardones (that look like Saguaro but aren't); then deep blue water dotted with islands. Having the desert meet the sea is really an excellent idea.

The best sunset I've ever seen.
It was 360 degrees of streaked red, pink and orange sky. A few people said it looked like the Aurora Borealis. If I'd photographed it, you'd think I used filters. If I'd painted it, you'd scoff and say such a
thing cannot possibly exist in nature.

Best starry night. (Sorry, Vincent.)
In my entire life, I have never seen a night sky like the ones we saw.
The curvature of the Earth looked multidimensional, multilayered and velvety. We lay on our backs on a cot on the terrace and with binoculars checked out stars, constellations and nebula. I decided I would go back to school to study astronomy. (I'm over that now, but it sounded really good at the time.)

Best fish tacos.
Not only the best I've had but most likely the best I'll ever have. A
cook from Ensenada Blanca made them, and I don't think I'll ever have fish tacos again because it will be impossible to come close and I'd be setting myself up to be disappointed.

I've already raved about Backroads on the first trip we took with them so I won't bore you with that again. I'll only say there is no other way to travel. Plus, you get to meet really cool people, Kevin prepares a picnic on the beach and Tony never forgets the towels, sunscreen and beer.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


I’m on a massive “cleaning out my closet” kick (which Luca fears will spread through the rest of the house. I admit I’m feeling a tug.)

Flipping through a magazine, I found an organization called Soles4Souls that distributes “gently worn” footwear to people who need shoes (for example, victims of natural disasters).

This organization is less than two years old and has donated almost a million pairs of shoes worldwide. They take the shoes that you bought thinking you’d use and that are just taking up space in your closet.

According to the site, it is estimated that Americans have 1.5 billion pairs of unworn shoes. They use all these to make a difference in someone’s life.

Instead of letting the shoes you don't use gather dust, pack them up and send them to this address:

Soles4Souls, Inc.
Foreign Trade Zone #89
6620 Escondido Street
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119