Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Letter to the 2001 Me

An unedited gem from my 2011 journal - a letter to the me of May 2001:

Dear Jessica circa 2001,

Start meditating now. Go see Amma, get a hug. Begin to cultivate a spiritual practice, right away.

You're a new mom with a gorgeous, bald, four month old baby girl. Try to understand that getting laid off last month was one of the best things that could have happened to you. Don't rush to find a new job - use your unemployment insurance until it runs out.

Write. Write. Write.

You have so many undiscovered talents - if you dig for them, search for them, uncover them, you will not have to wait so long to own them. Better to own what is yours at 33 rather than struggle for the next decade.

Trust me.

Slow down. Sleep when your baby sleeps. Laugh with her. Take your time. Nurture yourself and her. She is going to be a handful, that one, and it is only going to get more and more challenging. Love her. Love yourself.

Stand up for yourself.
Slow down.
Enjoy what you have been given.
Want less.
Take care of your friends.

Jessica, you must spend time with your mother. Take the time afforded to you now that you have been laid off and spend time with your mom. Do things with her and Maya. Play in the garden, walk to the beach, go to the park.

Write love letters to Maya. Write love letters to yourself. Take writing classes. Learn to love a dirty house. Just take the time. Take up space, gather it like wildflowers. Hoard it. Revel in it. Enjoy this life in this moment because you can't even begin to fathom how it is going to change in the next ten years.

Lives and loves and dear friends will be gone. What you thought was indestructible will be destroyed. What you thought was impossible will be commonplace.

New lives will be born. New smiles and thoughts, different love, deeper love.

You must hold the space within and around you to breathe and recognize what is real and what is not. To honor what is transitory, which really is...everything.

So stop. Breathe. Love. Laugh. Rub your hand over that sweet bald head of Maya's because in ten years time it will be covered in golden ringlets she won't want you to touch and your hands will be full of other hands and things and even if you don't - can't - won't slow down you'll realize how easy things were now, then.


A Prayer for 2012

A Prayer for What Seems Impossible 2012:

May there be time and space
for contentment to grow.

For sweet, green tendrils of joy
to unravel
like fern fronds in spring.

Let contentment settle
like a seed in the soil.

Let it send its roots
into the Earth
deep enough to give it purchase.

Let the winds of disbelief
and cynicism
be not so strong.

Let not the rain of self-doubt
nor any fickle frost
cause us harm.

Let the warmth of hope
protect us
like a mother does a child

with guidance
and optimism.

- j woods 2011

Found This Poem

in my journal from this year - here is the draft, unedited.

i don't know
if you know this

but i want you
to love me

to hold me

like a monk
cradling his
sole possession

a begging bowl
of brass

all he relies upon
for food
for drink

the brass
rubbed to a shine

bright enough
to illuminate

the darkest hours
and last

as many lifetimes
as it needs to.

-j.woods 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Look

The other day I was at The Farm waiting for my mentor to show for a meeting. There was a young man sitting with a much older woman at the table next to me. He looked like her grandson. She was a sweet older woman with white hair cut in a cute bob, parted on the side and held back with bobby pins. She was quietly sitting across from him and though he said a few things to her she didn't respond. Just sat there quietly.

Eventually, what appeared to be her two children, returned to the table. She looked at them with her beautiful blue eyes and as I watched her look at them I recognized the look. She knew she should love them, but she didn't recognize them. Her son gave her a cookie, which she enjoyed, but she didn't really know who he was - this kind man bringing her a cookie and speaking sweetly to her.

It reminded me of my mom, before the Alzheimer's got particularly brutal. She would sit with us, interact as best she could, but you could tell that while she knew she should love us she didn't know who we were to her.

It must be so disconcerting - to one moment know where you are and who you are with and then the next moment feel completely alone and scared.

I miss my mom. I wish I could go back and be more compassionate to her. I wish I could have loved her more. Better.

I hope she knew it was Juniper and I who were with her, holding her hands and stroking her hair, telling her she would be alright when she left this world. I hope she didn't feel alone.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Activity versus Inactivity.: Some thoughts on stillness.

I feel like I have always been busy, or always had so many things I wanted to do, get done, check off my list. I have had this feeling on a daily basis as well as in life in general.

Lately I have slowed down. I am slow. I'm inactive and yet it feels OK.

im not writing
im not going to the gym
i'm not doing anything regularly

im ok resting

This feeling is different.

It still stresses me out a little bit to not be doing, to be inactive in all ways, but it feels right.

I feel like I need to become completely still in order to move forward.

I don't know what that means or what it looks like or what it will look like, but that's how it feels - like I just need to stop spinning in order to move forward with any sort of real direction...even though I don't know what that direction is right now.

So even though it feels counterintuitive and it feels wrong compared to what everybody else is doing and it feels strange it still feels right to just slow down and be still.

so that's what I am aiming for I guess.

at least today.

in stillness,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Feet

Yes, these are my feet.

I have bunions.

I don't look so cute in flip flops any more and I am very careful about the shoes I buy (if I buy cute shoes, which I do rarely these days.) Strappy shoes are out because usually my bunions stick out or they accentuate the curve of my big toes.

I used to not be as self-conscious about my feet, but over the past 5 years or so they have gotten worse. One day I wore flip flops to school because we were going on a walk to the beach and a kid said "Ewww! What's wrong with your feet?!" Granted, I was working at a middle school, so I was able to cut the kid some slack on his lack of social graces, but still.

Then we had some friends over for a BBQ and one of our guests commented on my feet - how I shouldn't have been wearing shoes that showed them. Miraculously I was able to keep from showing him how my foot looked on his ass as I kicked it out the door.

Social graces, people. Learn them. Use them.

I don't know if he realized that he was in my house and insulting the hostess is a great way to never get invited to a free food, beer, wine and good company kind of gathering again. (I don't know this because he hasn't been invited over since. Mwah - ha - ha!)

Last year I was teaching high school and had a pair of shoes on that I thought met my "hide the hideous feet" criteria until one student couldn't take his eyes off them and asked if I had broken my toes or something.


Those are just three examples of why I don't love my feet. Why I am embarrassed by them. Why I spend so much time trying to keep them covered up.

Friends, the jig is up.

I am working on celebrating the perfect puzzle of my imperfections right? I am going to honor the parts of me that I have not honored so far, at least not in the way they deserve to be honored.

Here is why my feet deserve to be honored by me and those who love me:
1) They are a perfect combination of my mother's feet and my father's feet.
2) Bunions are passed down matrilineally in my family, so my mom had them and my grandmother had them. I come from a line of women with imperfections, sure, so do you. But they were awesome women who gave us life, so cut their baby-carryin', dinner makin', scraped knee fixin', laundry washin', feet a break, will you?
3) These feet carried me through ballet classes...with grace and an enviable point.
4) These feet carried me swiftly around the track and over hurdle after hurdle during high school, leading me to 11 league championships, as well as sectional championships, school records and halls of fame.
5) Because of these feet I was recruited by several top-notch schools and offered scholarships to Cal and Cal Poly.
6) These feet carried me to second place at Nationals and All-American honors...3 times!
7) These feet have had the sense to walk away from jobs, men and other situations that were not positive for me.
8) These feet have walked through the Louvre, along the canals of Venice, across piazzas in Rome, between the 5 hamlets of Cinque Terre, through the Vatican, the North End of Boston, the beaches of Kauai, Key West, and have logged miles and miles along the California coast -- to name just a few of many foot propelled adventures.
9) These feet held me on the black lava of Hidden Makenna Beach as I married my husband on a warm Maui morning 11 years ago.
10) These feet pressed against foot rests and midwives' shoulders as I pushed my daughter and son out.
11) These feet have padded quietly, quickly, softly, slowly, with love and care and concern down the hall from my room to my children's rooms in the middle of the night without second thought more times than I can count.
12) These feet carry me each day, as I pedal with them and stand on them all day teaching children about the importance of physical activity, health and positive self-regard.
13) These feet keep me rooted to the Earth as I stand in tadasana.
14) These feet remind me of every step I've taken and, with luck, every step I dream of taking.

Standing just a little taller,

Perfection in Imperfection

I shared this on Facebook yesterday. It comes from Dharma Comics who I just discovered. This sums it up so perfectly. I am grasping for "perfection" in myself. Yet I know that is not possible. Nor is it really desirable. I want to be who I am. Fully. Simply. And find my perfection within the puzzle of imperfections that make me who I am...

Suffering and Acceptance

Suffering and acceptance. Vinegar and vanilla right there, no?

This is what has been on my mind lately. How my life would be so much nicer if my Judging Mind wasn't along for the ride every day. JM talks non-stop. From the second I wake up to the second I go to sleep...some nights it feels like he just keeps on talking while I sleep too. (hmmm...I typed "he" - I am not sure if Judging Mind is a "he" or a "she", but it is interesting that that was what I typed. Veddy Veddy interestink.)

In any case, JM likes to pick on me mostly, but certainly has no issue picking on others as well. One of JM's favorite topics is my body. Followed closely by how I spend my time - is it useful? is this what I should be doing right now? isn't there something more important I should be doing?

I have decided to fight back against JM. I am going to begin by praising myself. Openly. Publicly. Starting with my body.

I will start this soon, very soon.

I expect these posts to be short and painful, sweet.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Unexpected Vanilla: Baking


I am having a really fun time searching for recipes for breads and muffins to make with all the random, ripe fruit (and vegetables) I have on hand. Like, spending the day at Ikea fun. Or whole-day-spent-in-Los-Gatos-on-Community-Yard-Sale-Day-with-a-girlfriend kind of fun.

Carrot apple muffins.

Banana macadamia bread.

Cream cheese frosting.

Vegan banana bread.

Apple spice muffins with streusel topping.

All from scratch, all by hand...and (so far) all yummy.

Really, who knew?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I love a lazy day...

when your plans are based on whims and the weather...

today is a perfect day for rainbow hunting. pouring rain one minute, sunshine the next. this morning maya was getting ready for school when she yelled out "A rainbow! A rainbow!" so tosh and I ran upstairs to join her on her bed and admire the rainbow together. we spent a good 3 or 4 minutes talking about it - where it ended, what colors we could actually see in it, what it meant.

i told them how a good friend always thinks of her fiance who passed away when she sees a rainbow and how i like to think of my mom. one day i saw a double rainbow and thought of the two of them up there, missing us, and letting us know.

living. fully. simply. happily.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Onward October!

October, the month of:
- resurrecting the blog!
- refraining from purchasing anything new (only recycled, if i must - food items excluded, naturally)
- resuming a regular yogamed practice

stay tuned....

living. fully. simply.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

10 thoughts following an intermediate hatha yoga class

1) I can breathe! This is the first difference I notice following Bikram Experience #1
2) I feel a little silly doing it, but enjoy chanting "Om" before the class.
3) I like the instructor - she is sorta built like me. Shallow, I know.
4) When I see my face upside down in the mirror while in downward dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) my face looks like a happy buddha face.
5) Holding poses for 6-10 breaths is difficult.
6) It is good to practice with a teacher from time to time so you can correct the small mis-alignments you have developed or been unaware of.
7) The older lady next to me is remarkably flexible. Not comparing, just saying.
8) Trying to do a tripod headstand makes me sweat.
9) I am going to add tripod headstand to my home practice.
10) I prefer the slower, centering pace of Hatha to the fast pace of Bikram. But I will try Bikram again. Friday morning. I've begun Project Massive Hydration already, in anticipation.
PS: 11) The day after Hatha I am SORE! Going to do a restorative sequence today.

Monday, July 25, 2011

ten thoughts on bikram yoga following my first class

1) I survived! That is, if survival is just staying in the room.
2) I almost walked out after setting up my mat. I was already sweating and started to "impermanence" meditation practice came in handy though, and I managed to get through it. The idea of "impermanence" came up a lot during the 90 minute class.
3) I have NEVER sweat that much in my life.
4) I don't feel like I got much of a physical workout because, let's face it, I was just sitting or lying there for the majority of the class.
5) The flip side is, I got to meditate on my breath a lot.
6) After about 10 minutes who cares how big my gut or ass is, I gotta take these freakin' clothes off!!!
7) (Un)fortunately, the above feeling didn't last once I walked out of the room.
8) Note to self: buy a more supportive top.
9) Note to lithe yoga bodied woman practicing her backbends after class: yes, I am staring at you. Yes, you do have a great body. Guess what? I did too when I was 25 and childless. Mwahahahahaaa!!!
10) I think I am dehydrated (duh) 'cause I have a bad headache.

Bonus (how lucky are you?!?)
11) Is it wrong to want a cold beer after class?



hi. remember me? your long lost blogging friend? it has been AGES since I wrote, I know. I can't believe it has been over 3 months. It's practically inexcusable. I feel bad.

however, over the past 3 months+ i have learned that the feeling of guilt will pass. i just have to feel it, acknowledge it and give it time. it will move on. (sound of fingers tapping, deep breathing...)

ok. so, the guilt is on its way on to the next person. and i am writing a blog post. albeit a short and pretty boring one, but a blog post nonetheless.

the seal has been broken!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Daily Vanilla

There is a substitute teacher at my school - a white haired older gent who loves to teach Robert Frost and Emily Dickenson. He and I have bonded over rowdy classes (mine that he has subbed for), early onset Alzheimer's in the very young (my mom and a friend of his) and, of course, poetry.

He's wanted to read some of my poetry and when he stopped by today to mention it again I just happened to have some with me, so I gave him some to read.

Later he came by with some lovely comments, some gentle critique and this golden gem:

"Some people are poets and some people write poems. You are definately of the former."

Thank you Jerry. I needed that! :-)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vanilla! Or, How I Spent My Sunday

Daily (well, monthly is more like it) Vanilla

This came to me from The Writer's Almanac, a fantastic resource that I have mentioned before. I pray they won't mind me passing it on, with all credit given to the appropriate sources - the poet, the publisher and The Writer's Almanac.

God Says Yes To Me
by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

"God Says Yes To Me" by Kaylin Haught, from The Palm of Your Hand. © Tilbury House Publishers, 1995.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Vinegar: Fragile as a Balloon

Dear Reader,

One of my favorite quotes comes from Erykah Badu - on one of her cds she introduces a new song (The Fantagalistic Tyrone, I believe)and she says, "Now keep in mind, I'm an artist and I am sensitive about my shit."

Did you catch that?

"Now keep in mind, I'm an artist and I am sensitive about my shit."

So true, so true.

Us artists (you guys who know me best know I am making a face as I refer to myself as an "artist", but hey, progress, not perfection, right? Not long ago I would NEVER have been able to call myself an artist at all!) are sensitive folks.

I appreciated a moment at the Poetry Slam I went to last month when the MC was encouraging the audience to snap or clap or express their appreciation somehow because poets shrivel up and die if they don't get positive feedback.

Sure, all of us, artists or not, are like that - in need of positivity. But poets and other artists are more desperate for it. We shrivel at a much faster rate.

And then we are no fun to be around.

So, the point of this post, Dear, Dear Sympathetic Reader, is that I am shriveled today.

It doesn't take much. One ill-advised rejection from a poetry submission and my entire poetic path of good intentions is washed away like chalk on the sidewalk. I struggle to keep my chin up - to believe that the rest of my grand poetic plan will happen. To know that there are other markets out there, that I will be able to make the time to submit to them, to know in my bones that this is not a bad omen - that other poems that are hanging out there in submission limbo waiting to be loved will be just that...loved. To have faith that my path is well-tended and worthwhile and that I will continue to thrive as an artist and poet.

In need of loud snaps,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vanilla Shot: Quote of the Day

Each of us possesses a creative self. Claiming that is a transformational art. When you begin to act on your creativity, what you find inside may be more valuable than what you produce for the external world. The ultimate creative act is to express what is most authentic & individual about you.

— Eileen M. Clegg

(This quote was sent to me from Kind Over Matter, a most fantastical blog that focuses on the amazing all around, and within, us. I highly recommend you check it out and sign up for her newsletter!)

Part of the work we have been doing in my writing workshop is around understanding ourselves more fully. Giving voice to what has been our story (whether an act of creative non-fiction or all out myth), defining our purpose in life and understanding our destination.

That last piece is so important.

I really believe that our destination is right here, right now. I am supposed to be here, at my desk, on my prep, writing a blog post on a dark, rainy morning. I am present when I write. I can't write if I am not. Even if I am living in my head, or recalling a time past or a time in another reality, I remain present.

However, I do have another, grander destination. More and more I understand that destination requires my creativity.

My destination requires me to be fully present with - and goddamnit! - in AWE of my creative self. She rocks!

Guess what? Your creative self ROCKS too. And you do have one. Think how nice it would feel to get back in touch with that long lost love. Mmmmmm! Makes you shiver just to think about it, even if you have to think all the way back to stubby scissors, paste and coloring outside of the lines with fat crayons. She is there. She misses you.

Reach out. I'll help you.

Lovingly, creatively,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to Separate the Vinegar from the Vanilla

Dear Reader

What is it all about? I have been doing a lot of thinking about this, well, forever, really, 'cause this is the kind of thing that keeps me moving forward. Always exploring, trying new things, looking for new solutions. Some of you know this about me. Some of you even know that as much as I embrace this part of my personality I am equally frustrated by it.

Am I really the only one this dissatisfied? Or, am I the only one dissatisfied with being this dissatisfied?

I am talking about work, here, today. "Career" "Life's work" "Job"

Given the state of the world, the pain, the unrest, the uncertainty that appears to be continuing, unabated, for as far as the eye can see...I wonder - "What is truly important?" "What I am working for?"

I think many of us share this concern. For some the answer is that you work to give your family stability. But is money they only means to that end? If we work to pay the mortgage - can we buy a less expensive house? If we work to pay off bills - OK, I see the virtue in that - but we must strive to crave less STUFF.

To consciously simplify is essential to our freedom. To our RIGHT LIVELIHOOD.

I have been thinking about what my story is - what is the history I carry with me, that colors all I think and do and say. What is my purpose? How is it affected by this story I have been told and led to believe all these years. What is my destination? Where do I want to go, end up? And how do I want to get there? On accident? On purpose? In time? Too late?

What do I want to pass on to my children? There is a family legacy here - but is it worth passing on? Should I be more conscious of what it means and how it may affect them? Do I edit it for them?

What am I working for?

I believe my purpose is to be present. to experience life - through my own actions and through witnessing the lives of others. to honor and share those experiences honestly through my writing.

I believe my purpose is to put pen to paper, finger to keypad, thought to ink. To imagine, to dream, to represent, to stand up, to speak with my voice and my words, to be and be honest.

Where will this take me? How can I reconcile my desire to write and share and behold experience with a very real need to take care of my family? to contribute?

Where am I going with this? I am not sure.

But I am on my way...and that is all I got right now. Join me.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vanilla Amongst The Vinegar: Quote of the Day

To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart, and sing it to them when they have forgotten.

- Arne Garborg

I cribbed this from one of my favorite blogs, Kind Over Matter. Amanda's blog is one of sweet relief from the day to day negativity we are exposed to. She shares her own positivity and that of many, many other wonderfully talented artists of every flavor. Check her out and let her know I sent you!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Very Vanilla: Recap of Reading at The Muse

Dear Reader

If you weren't there you missed out! What a great night! Not just because I was there reading my work, but because there were 19 other phenomenal poets there too!

Last Saturday was a magical night for me. I felt really good beforehand - a little nervous, yes, but mostly confident. I was afraid that reading poems about my mom would be really difficult. In fact, my goal was to make it without sobbing uncontrollably. I decided silently weeping would be OK.

I was a little worried about it a few weeks ago because when I started to read my work out loud, alone in my bedroom, I couldn't make it through Breathless without crying. Eventually I got to the point where I could make it nearly to the end before breaking down, but I thought that being in front of an audience might make me so nervous I would break down.

But I DID IT! I made it through all three, even Breathless, without tears. My voice did crack a couple of times, but all in all I nailed it. It felt great! It was a wonderful tribute to my mom, six months after her death. I felt like a debutante into the world of poetry readings, even though I had read before for the Porter Gulch Review. In Celebration of the Muse is definitely a bigger deal and I felt exhilarated afterwards.

Many folks came up to me after the reading and told me my poems moved them to tears, or that they could relate to my experience. They told me I touched them. That I read with passion. One woman contacted the director of the program asking for a copy of my poems to pass on to a friend, she was so touched.

I shared the stage with poets I admire, that I have made an effort to go hear read their work because they inspire me - and I was up there with them!

Wow. When can I do that again?


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Love me like the hummingbird loves the cherry blossom...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A sunny day, a burger basket and Mary Oliver poems - some kind of poetic bliss...

Monday, March 7, 2011

Shot of Vanilla: Poem of the Day

From today's Writer's Almanac:

by Dorianne Laux

Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read
to the end just to find out who killed the cook, not
the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark,
in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication, not
the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot,
the one you beat to the punch line, the door or the one
who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones
that crimped your toes, don't regret those.
Not the nights you called god names and cursed
your mother, sunk like a dog in the living room couch,
chewing your nails and crushed by loneliness.
You were meant to inhale those smoky nights
over a bottle of flat beer, to sweep stuck onion rings
across the dirty restaurant floor, to wear the frayed
coat with its loose buttons, its pockets full of struck matches.
You've walked those streets a thousand times and still
you end up here. Regret none of it, not one
of the wasted days you wanted to know nothing,
when the lights from the carnival rides
were the only stars you believed in, loving them
for their uselessness, not wanting to be saved.
You've traveled this far on the back of every mistake,
ridden in dark-eyed and morose but calm as a house
after the TV set has been pitched out the window.
Harmless as a broken ax. Emptied of expectation.
Relax. Don't bother remembering any of it. Let's stop here,
under the lit sign on the corner, and watch all the people walk by.

"Antilamentation" by Dorianne Laux, from The Book of Men. © W. W. Norton & Company, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vanilla: The Muse is Coming, the Muse is Coming!!!

Well actually dear reader, as you know, the Muse is already here. In fact, she has been hanging out with me quite a bit lately -- which I am really enjoying!

So technically I am referring to the celebration of her, which is happening THIS Saturday.

But you knew that already because I have been brow beating you with this information since September when I found out I was selected to read!

Needless to say I am very nervous excited and can't wait to stand on that stage and read in front of one of the most poetry loving audiences on Earth!

With my heart racing,

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Super Vanilla: Hear Me Reading!

Hello Dear Reader,

As you can perhaps tell by my last post (the photo) I am on some sort of cosmic experience... AKA ex t e n d e d jury duty.

Never fear, I am using the time wisely. Organizing, or at least trying to organize my writing, reading inspiring stuff, practicing reading for In Celebration of the Muse this Saturday, and generally practicing being present.

In the meantime, I wanted to share this link with you. I was invited to participate, along with 3 other fantastic poets, on a local radio station's The Poetry Show.

It was awesome! and fun! and I hope you enjoy listening to us read.

Writing, reading and listening,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vanilla: I Wrote a Letter to Myself

Dear Reader,

I wanted to give you an update on the state of Mean People Who Suck.

They still do.

BUT, the good news is, it is not the buzzing bee in my bonnet tonight. In fact, tonight there are no bees in my bonnet.

You see, I committed two, count 'em...TWO, radical acts of self-care today.

#1: I did not read the Mean Person's criticism about me again.

I could have. It's sitting there in my inbox, taunting me. But I am bigger than some unhappy person's mean email full of yuck.

In fact, there have even been small moments when I have felt compassion for this person. They must be in a whole lotta hurt to be so mean. I mean, they learned this behavior somewhere, right? Parents, friends, spouses, unhappy turns in life...

#2: I wrote myself a letter.

Yup, I did. Because I wanted to hear certain things regarding this situation and the folks I expected or wanted to hear them from weren't bringing it. So I brought it myself.

I wrote a letter to myself saying all the nice, supportive things I wanted to hear.

Here's the kinda crazy bit: it worked.

I felt better. Still do.

Also helped that I awoke to this quote from my second favorite Maya (that would be Angelou) in my inbox today:

"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."

I remain, bruised but not squished,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Vanilla: Hafiz to the Rescue!

I opened my book, The Subject Tonight is Love: 60 Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz, like a school girl flipping open a book and reading the page where her finger lands, hoping for a message...exactly like that, as a matter of fact. Looking for some love from my man Hafiz.

And of course, he delivered:

They Call to You to Sing

Stones are longing for what you know.

If they had the graceful movements
Of your feet and tongue,

They would not stop laughing
Between their ecstatic dance steps and unbroken praise.

Your heart beats inside a sacred drum,
Its skin is tanned and stretched -
Our skin is alive and stretched -
With the wild molecules of His Wondrous Existence.

Your mind and eyes are an immense silk cloth
Upon which all your thoughts and movements paint.

Your soul once sat on an easel on my knee.
For ages I have been sketching you
With myriad shapes of sounds and light;

Now awake, dear pilgrim,
With your thousand swaying arms
That need to caress the Sky.

Now awake with your love for the Friend and the Creation,
Help this Old Tavern Sweeper, Hafiz,
To celebrate.

No more enemies from this golden view -
All who have entered this holy mountain cave
Have dropped their shields and swords.

We all cook together around a fire
Our yearning music builds.

We share our tools and instruments and plates;
We are companions on this earth

As the sun and planets are in the sky.
We are all sentries at our sacred humble posts.

The stones and stars envy the movements
Of your legs and tongue
And call to you to sing on their behalf.

The atoms in your cells and limbs are full of wonderful talents;
They dance in the Hidden Choir I conduct.

Don’t sleep tonight, dear pilgrim,
So I can lead you on my white mare to His Summer House.

This love you now have of the Truth
Will never forsake you.

Your joys and sufferings on this arduous path
Are lifting your worn veil like a rising stage curtain

And will surely reveal your Magnificent Self
So that you can guide this world like Hafiz

In the Hidden Choir
God and His friends will forever

Vinegar: Bitter, Bitter Vinegar

Dear Reader

I feel yucky right now. Someone out in the world is discontented and I am the lightening rod for this discontent. Ugh. Blech. Yuck.

Logical Me knows this person is just a mean, horrible, evil person unhappy within themselves - and that this tirade is not all about me. I may play the smallest, teensiest part in it, but really, it's all about this person's own feelings of inadequacy.

Illogical Me just feels really bad.

I feel bad that this person is being mean to me. I feel bad that I am letting this person be mean to me. I feel bad that I am carrying this person's meany bobeeny attitude around with me.

I also feel bad because I was already kind of doubting myself in this area, and now that this pit bull of an unhappy person has decided to bite my ass and hold on I am questioning my right to be in the neighborhood at all, so to speak. There was a time when I felt like I belonged in whatever neighborhood I was in. I didn't doubt myself so much.

Me no likey.

So, as the aspiring enlightened sentient being that I am, I am trying to just sit with this uncomfortable, sad, feeling so that I can let it pass. Like a tornado black cloud on an otherwise beautiful day.

But it's really difficult.

I leave you with two thoughts: 1) Remember, you can always be more kind. 2) Mean people suck.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Poet Friend's New Book!

A Place to Fall Into: Poems

A wonderful poet friend of mine has a new book out - A Place to Fall Into by
Jo-Ann Birch is full of gorgeous poems. She is an absorbing poet with a wonderful sense of humor and the gift of total honesty - both qualities I greatly admire.

I love to listen to Jo-Ann read her work, she has a rich voice and distinctive rhythm, which I can hear so clearly in her written work.

She is also one of the featured poets at this year's In Celebration of the Muse and one of the reasons why I am honored to be a part of this amazing event I have been fortunate enough to attend - and be inspired by - for several years.

I hope you will support an extremely talented local poet by ordering her book...and look for my name in the acknowledgements! ;-)


Friday, February 11, 2011

Vanishing Vanilla: Being Honest

Something is troubling me, Dear Reader.

I received a jury summons a few months ago, and sent in for a postponement. Then I got my second jury summons and figured it would go as it usually does - call in Monday, be told to call back. Call in Tuesday, be told to call back. Call in Wednesday - be dismissed.

Well, long story short, it hasn't gone that way. And here I am, a week later, still in the loop.

But that is not what is troubling me.

What troubles me is that, when I mention jury duty, everyone tells me how to "get out of it." What magic word I can say that will convince the judge or the attorneys that I am nuts, or biased, or not able to give a person a fair hearing.

Now, I work in the area of education, a place where we are supposed to educate the youth - mold them into mature, responsible citizens.

Did you catch that last word, citizens?

How are we doing that if everyone is trying to tell me creative (and some, frankly dishonest) ways to get out of my civic duty? How am I modeling civic responsibility?

Sure, this is a serious case, with serious ramifications, and it will likely take a long time. Time I am sure would be easier spent in my regular job, taking care of my work responsibilities in the manner in which I am accustomed. But is that a valid excuse?

Heaven/God/Fate/Whomever forbid that I myself, or a family member, ever has to sit in front of a jury, but if they do I would rather it be a jury of 12 folks like me - educated, honest, caring, good citizens than just people who were "too stupid to get out of jury duty."

I have been struggling with this for days now - how it seems we all think sitting on a jury has to be the worst way to spend our time. When in reality, this is one of the rights we fight for, one of the tenants of our community that we supposedly honor - the right to a fair and open hearing by a jury of our peers.

I understand the system is flawed - truly, I do. But why give up the little power we have because it is inconvenient? Is this the lesson we want to teach? That it is worth fighting for - this flawed system of ours - but only if it is not inconvenient?

Do I want the message I send to my students to be: "If something inconveniences you, even if it is for the greater good, come up with a good lie to get out of it"?

Because, frankly, I think they have learned that one already.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let's flip this _____ !

Dear Reader

This idea of "enough" has got me all riled up. I keep thinking about it. What I have enough of and what I don't have enough of. You know the drill.

So yesterday, as I drove to jury duty and thought of all the things I needed to get done, and what could I get done in there, and how was I going to plan for the substitute and get to the 3 hour meeting I had last night and grab something to eat or maybe a coffee would help my headache since I seem to have a mild case of the flu, and when would I be able to help with my daughter's science project that is due today and I didn't manage to get in any yoga or meditation and I need to get cash for the babysitter....I decided to FLIP THIS BITCH. (Forgive my language, but really, this concept of time and the lack thereof is just that for me - a bitch!)

Just flip it up! What if I have been going about this completely the wrong way.

I am sure you are familiar with the idea that we attract what we believe. If everyday I am telling myself there is not enough time for me to get everything done then, theoretically, I am creating that reality. Not only that, but by stressing about a perceived lack of time then I am choosing to live in a state of stress - rather than grace. Right?

So I began to tell myself, there is enough time. There IS enough time. There IS enough time.

When I finally got out of jury duty, half an hour after the meeting had already started, and got on the freeway realizing I was heading in the bad direction for traffic I told myself, "There is enough time, there is enough time" and lo and behold - it kinda worked.


I managed to get to the meeting in one piece - even after stopping at the school to leave some stuff our for my sub (since I'll be back at jury duty later this morning) and pick up something I needed for the meeting.

There is enough time.

I got home, was able to help with the project [there is enough time] and read a book to the son [there is enough time] before passing into a deep, sound and still sleep [there is enough time].

And this morning, as the time suck swirl began to gain momentum in my head. Stop. Write the post.

There is enough time.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Still Not Enough?

Dear Reader

There is a particular walk I take in a near-by neighborhood. I always enjoy the walk - the houses are gorgeous, perched along the cliffs with an amazing, unobstructed view of the Monterey Bay. I especially love the flowers blossoming and have, on more than one occasion, literally stopped to smell the roses.

Today it felt like spring. Cherry blossoms are in full bloom, their sweet scent floating by from time to time. The birds - so many new voices! - singing to each other and the sun and the blue sky. (Apologies to you living practically anywhere else in the US right now. It's February and it's probably 70 outside as I write.) Just gorgeous! Invigorating!

I love to look at the houses, too. Many different styles perched there on the cliffside - modern, traditional, french provincial, english garden estate...there's even one that looks like a series of monastic cells - with incredible views. I love the smaller, Spanish-style ones with small gardens hidden by low walls, the sound of fountains teasing me as I walk by.

Today I was admiring the reflection of the clouds in the floor to ceiling windows of an older, but well-maintained, house. This house is on a corner lot and has about 5 immense windows looking out across the street to the sea and the mountains across the bay. As I turned the corner I saw the big white sign with basic black text stating the owners' intent to redevelop the property. Not just remodel - in this case the plans are to demolish this perfectly fine house, probably 2500 SF, and build a two-story home, complete with basement and garage, coming in at over 3500 SF.

Now, I don't know anything about these folks, maybe they have a really big family with 5 or 6 school-aged kids who will be running around, and they need 6 bedrooms and 6 or 7 bathrooms. A playroom. A big kitchen. A three car garage.

But, I bet they don't. This is probably a vacation home - as many of the houses in this neighborhood have turned into over the years. Big shiny SUVs in the driveway on long weekends with license plate holders from the Central Valley.

I know I shouldn't judge, and I am responding solely out of pre-concieved notion-ville, but really. Isn't the 3000 SF older house with the killer views enough? You have to make it BIGGER? And TWO stories? and a BASEMENT? For what? all your STUFF?

Yeah, you're right. Maybe if I had, or had grown up with, money like that I would have a different take on how people spend it.

But I like to believe I would buy the small house with the hidden garden and the big backyard. And take the extra millions burning a hole in my brain pocket and work less, travel more and share the wealth.

But that's just me.

Still working on my first million,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Vanilla: More Real Vanilla Flavah!!!

Dear Reader,

I am so excited!!!

I have been invited to read on KUSP's The Poetry Show on Sunday, February 27 from 9-10 pm!

This is a really great opportunity and extremely serendipitious.

About 8 years ago my high school boyfriend was murdered, which I heard about on the evening news. I ended up writing about him, and for some reason I boldly submitted the piece to another program on the same station. The piece was accepted and I recorded it for the air. The wonderful woman who produced the show encouraged me to continue to write - and share my work.

I owe her no small debt of gratitude for her encouragement and kind words - she really gave me the confidence to begin to put myself out there. Even though I have written poetry since I was 9 or 10 it took me until I was well into my 30s to even consider sharing my work with anyone - let alone strangers.

Funny, since public reading is now one of my most favorite things to do! The Terror! The Anxiety! The Sweaty Palms! The High!

I totally get off on it.

So, for these reasons, among others, I am SUPER excited to be a part of The Poetry Show and hope that you will listen - either live or to the podcast.

Live and on air,

Monday, January 31, 2011

Vanilla: It Feels Good to be Bursting

Dear Reader,

Sometimes I am too ripe. I am bursting with juice and joy and desire to hear pen scratching on paper, fingers typing on the is such a luxury to be so full.

I recognize this - that right now I am rich with inspiration - and thankful for it. I am grasping it, trying to hold on.

At times like this I need to choose between writing and sleep. Frankly, sleep usually wins out because I have a family and children and a job that requires me to be encouraging, positive and on my toes for the betterment of today's youth.

But if I could, I would be living the quintessential writer's life - in my pajamas all day, writing, writing, writing...stopping only to check the mail and take the dog out for a quick constitutional before pouring another cuppa and scribbling some more...


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Vanilla: Good Reads

Read two good books recently. The first one was The Forty Rules of Love: A Novel of Rumi by Elif Shafak. I am really into poets like Rumi and Hafiz right now and loved this book about Rumi and Shams of Tabriz and how Rumi was introduced to Sufism. The modern element appealed to me as well.

The one I just finished today is called The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. This is a very sweet, easy read. If you like novels about cooking that read like a movie then you will enjoy this. It's a light, fun read with sweet stories about life and love and the healing nature of shared food and time spent together in the kitchen. You will enjoy this one!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

How Much Is Enough?

Dear, Dear, Dear Reader,

This question has been haunting me of late..."How much is "enough"?"

I know what I don't have enough of...sleep and time being the top two. Time is far and away #1 on my list. I don't have time enough to think, or write, or relax, or meditate, or wonder, or ponder, or dream or read. I barely have enough time to do my work, fullfil my obligations as wife, mother, employee, sister, daughter, friend, teacher, etc.

Don't misunderstand, I am thankful to be each of those things - honored and proud and grateful.

I just crave more time.

So, as in many things, it is such that I know what I have too little of. Thankfully I can only think of two things. I know there are many, many people out there who could add a whole lot of things to their list - food, money, clothing, to name a few. Yet the question remains: how much of the other stuff is enough?

Forgive me if I ramble, as I am trying to work this out as I go...I know we have enough food. We certainly have enough clothing (I think I could go for a full month without having to wash clothes at all. We may all be commando by the end of the month, but we could survive. I must conduct an experiment!)

So, we have enough food, enough clothing, enough material goods crowding the house and garage - shoes, books (my fault!), TOYS, artwork, technology, sports equipment.

Do we have enough money? Hmmm...that is a tricky one. Perhaps that is THE tricky one. We have more (much more) than others. According to the world bank, France's average per capita income is $42,620. The US: $46,360. Costa Rica: $6,260. Bhutan (where they are supposed to be the happiest) $2,030. OK, Norway skews our data - they come in at $84,640...with a life expectancy of 81.

What else might we have, or not have, enough of?

What do you have "enough" of? How do you know you have enough of it?

I'm curious to read your answers...

Yours in Wanting,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

daily vanilla: oh, that wonder that is Maya Angelou!

Dear Reader,

It is mere coincidence that my lovely daughter is named Maya. We didn't hamer her after anyone - not even Maya Angelou. But can I say how pleased I am that they share the same name? (and the same fire, I have a sneaking suspicion...)

I am a "friend" of Maya Angelou on FaceBook and she posted this little gem today:

"If you are going down a road and dont like what's in front of you and look behind you and don't like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path."

I am not sure what it is about this quote that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up so. I am sure there are many things...but today it's the confidence, the courage, the just be yourself godammit-ness of it all.

Your partner in clearcutting,

PS: The Amazing Miss Maya Angelou is coming to town, March 18, I already have my tickets - click here to purchase yours.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Thank You" power

Dear Reader,

Thank you. Thank you for reading the randomness that is my blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about what I have written and for encouraging me to continue to write. I appreciate it more than you may ever know.

With Love,

Didn't that feel good? Doesn't it feel good to be thanked - especially if it is for something you enjoy doing anyways? Or even if it is something you have to do - a part of your job, perhaps. Sometimes being thanked for that can get you through a rough day, or rough patch, at work.

Something I have been conscious of doing is thanking people. In writing. I write thank you notes and send them in the mail. You know, the old-fashioned way, the kind of mail you get in your mailbox. I imagine my recipients to be thrilled getting something addressed to them, in handwriting, that is neither a bill nor an invitation to a time-share seminar. I have thanked receptionists and co-workers and friends. People who ought to already know how much I love and appreciate them as well as complete strangers.

True, it makes me feel good too. But I think it makes them feel even better. It's not often enough that I can do something relatively simple to help someone feel good, or better, or appreciated. I am enjoying the exercise.

My goal is to continue and perhaps expand the process. Good is good, no matter how you look at it.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

On Stillness

From the Sufi poet Hafiz:

A Still Cup



To make love,

For the divine alchemy to work,

The Pitcher needs a still cup.


Ask Hafiz to say

Anything more about

Your most



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Daily Vanilla

I just love this quote:

“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream.” ~ Vincent van Gogh


Friday, January 7, 2011

but can i walk the walk?

oh, Dear Reader,

so much to do, so much to do!

the tree and holiday decorations need to come down, be packed away. i have to take an exam tomorrow for work - one of those exams that drain your brain and exhaust you. and require #2 pencils. i have, literally, 2 milk crates stuffed full of papers to review and finals to grade. laundry multiplies like extra-horny rabbits. i have a really, really good library book i want to sink into. my body is craving a really long yoga session. i am not done with my year in review. i am still on "vacation" and would prefer to use this time to continue to relax and not have to spend the day in my frozen, filthy classroom grading finals.

today's challenge is to find that place of stillness and sit there. even amidst the whirling tornado of "shoulds" and "musts" that are largely, no, entirely, made up, arbitrary.

this is an opportunity to practice what i preach. i can talk the talk, but can i walk the walk?

or -

can i be the be?

sit the sit?


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

2010 in the rear view

Hello Dear Reader,

Day 5 of the new year. So far, so good. I have to tell you that one of my "goals" for the new year has already been met!

I have been writing this blog since my birthday in 2009. So it is just a smidge over a year old. I am pretty happy that I have maintained it for a year. I get positive feedback from the friends and family who follow it and who read it when I send out updates. I am truly grateful for that and it gives me both pleasure and momentum whenever someone leaves a comment or sends me an email in response to a post.

This year, in 2011, my goal is to have at least one comment from someone who I am not related to nor do I know personally. I would also like to increase my number of followers and have that increased number include folks I do not know personally.

The first half of that goal was met on January 2! I got a comment from a stranger! Although, truly, any other woman around my age who writes poetry, blogs about it and reads other poet's blogs is not all that "strange" to me, is she?

I was SOOOOOO stoked to see her comment!!! (Thank you S!)

I had a similar feeling when I reviewed the past year. For many reasons 2010 was extremely difficult. Key, of course, was the death of my mother at the age of 61. That was a challenging time for me for many reasons in addition to my mom's passing. But I got through it - as I am wont to do in most situations - or I wouldn't be sitting here writing, would I?

After my mom passed in August the year continued to be challenging in ways both good and bad (from a new job I love but that gives me a ton of work to too many deaths of people I knew - the deaths of the young, the unexpected, quick deaths being the most difficult to process.) But from the range of experiences over the last 6 months or so I have learned so much.

I have learned the importance of, really. You may laugh - "Yes, of course, we know it is important to breathe..." but I mean it. We take it for granted, we don't pay attention to it, we do it without thinking about it. Breathe mindfully. If things are tough, breathe. If things make you feel sad, or stressed, or depressed it is OK. Just feel what you are feeling and pay attention to your breath and you will get through it. Anger, sadness, fear, joy, envy, confusion...breathe through it all.

Being able to breathe and "be in the moment" (however cheesy that may sound to some of you) I was able to be fully present with my mom when she took her last breath. I was able to move on to a new job - and manage the stress of essentially being a first year teacher again now that I am teaching a new subject. When the workload gets to be too much I literally stop, breathe, and think about what the important things are in my life - what I have identified as my top 5 priorities:

1. Having fun with family and friends
2. Writing
3. Practicing Yoga
4. Meditating
5. Reading

Then, after pausing, breathing, and thinking about what is important to me I move on, usually with a clearer view of how much time I want to spend worrying about something (an unhappy student/parent, the stacks of papers to grade, the loads of laundry piling up or the annoying little dust bunnies who taunt me from every corner) that is not on my list of truly, madly, deeply important things.

The week after my mom died I submitted some poems for a local event - In Celebration of the Muse. This is a major event for women poets in Santa Cruz (which, honestly, is a hot bed of poetic talent). It has been going on annually for 30 years and I have been going, as an audience member and admirer, for over 5 years. One year I wrote in my journal how I wanted to read at the Muse someday. Well, 2011 is my year! I got in! And the beautiful thing is that the organizers have asked me, specifically, to read the poems I have written about my mom.

I also had work accepted this year by two other lit reviews (Shemom and the Porter Gulch Review) and had a piece selected as a finalist (top 5 out of over 250) in another contest. Considering I only submitted work to 7 places getting in to 3 and being a finalist in the 4th is not too bad!

So, as I look back over the year, I am altogether happy. I had some successes with my poetry and made progress on the novel (25,000 words worth thanks to NaNoWriMo), I have a new job that I am thoroughly enjoying, I got to be with my mom when she passed away, I have learned a lot, I have established a steady yoga and mediation practice, my children continue to grow and flourish, I have supportive, loving, amazing friends and family who totally showed up in a time of great need, my father (my mom's ex-husband) was spellbindingly present and amazing during my mom's death, I had a most remarkable time on retreat for my 43rd (!!!) birthday and I am feeling juicy and ripe as I head into 2011.

This year I will continue to write, share my work, apply and submit to publications and events that I think I will never get in to, to write to you and hope you spread the word about Vinegar and Vanilla, to breathe, to learn, to love, to dream, to have fun, to stretch, to walk and ride instead of drive, to smile at everyone, to laugh every chance I get, to dance and sing to the music and to have fresh flowers on my table - because I promised my mom I would.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

This is Where the Magic Happens! pictures from december's writing retreat

This is where the magic happens! New Camoldoli is the location of the annual silent writing retreat that I go on. This long weekend is one of the most transformative, juicy, inspiring and restorative experiences I have ever had. My writing muse, mentor and prime encourager, Amber Sumrall, leads the retreat and many others. I look forward to this weekend every year. Someday I will be fortunate enough to afford to go on two of her retreats ~ one in the summer and this one.

I am not particularly religious, but "signs" like this abound at the monastery and are comforting in a very natural, non-threatening way.

This was my room this year. I love being in room 9, since I always think of 9 as my lucky number. I was born at 9:36 PM on 12/9 - all the threes involved! Maybe it's 3 that is my lucky number! LOL!

I got a kick out of being in the Immaculate Heart room too. All the other rooms are named after saints.

A sample of the spectacular natural beauty of Big Sur. Truthfully one of the most amazing coastlines on Earth.

This sign on the road to the monastery never fails to make me smile, breathe and slow down. This is always my mantra as I leave the mountain and wind my way back to reality.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Flaky Flix: A Cautionary Tale

Dear Reader,

Happy New Year!

2011 ~ thank the goddess you are here, I am ready for a symbolic shift. As you, dear Reader know, I cycle through times of diligence, discipline and productivity (DDP) contrasted with times of sloth, despair and waaayyyyy too much coffee. This is an ongoing thing with me. I am sure you have your own cycles you go through. The best I can hope for is for shorter sugar/caffeine/sloth cycles and longer DDP cycles. And an awareness of where I am and that I can either speed the cycle along or slow it down, respectively.

I mention this because, as it is the new year, it is the traditional time for reflection and setting new intentions. Not resolutions, but intentions. I like to review my journals for the past year and reflect on what has happened, how I dealt with things, what I am proud of, and where and what I need to continue to pay attention to. Then, I think about what I would like to happen in the new year and set some intentions.

It works well for me at this time of year not just because it is the "new year" but also because my birthday is in December and I often go on retreat around then plus, as a teacher, I have a break now. It all fits together nicely.

Lest you think I am too awesome let me tell you this secret: I have eaten so many cookies and pieces of fudge over the past week I think I have developed a true buddha belly. Even worse, I have washed said cookies and fudge down with wine and/or champagne almost every night. Boo me.

I simply can't help myself. If it is in the house, on the counter, I can't resist. I kinda like to feel as bad as possible, you know, hit rock bottom, before I break out of the sugar cycle.

I hope this does not come as a surprise - I know I have told you on more than one occasion I have very little self-discipline. Particularly in the areas of chocolate and butter and sugar and, well, fermented grape products.

By way of history, a story:

Once, in college, I had a bad night. I think the guy I was dating was mad at me - maybe we even broke up (BBac, are your ears burning?) In any event, I was distraught. My roomie was out for the night or the weekend and I, sad and broken hearted, decided to take it to the limit. This involved a trip to the grocery where I bought at least one bottle of wine and a box of Flaky Flix. If you don't know the joy of Flaky Flix you really should. But don't ask me to join you.

I went home, listened to sad break-up music and drank wine and ate Flaky Flix. And wrote bad broken hearted poetry. The evening ended with me in the bath, candles all around and the nearly empty box of Flaky Flix on the bathroom floor next to me.

Did you know that if you pour hot melted candle wax into the bath it solidifies on contact? Tres dramatique! But a real bitch to clean up the next day.

I digress...

In any event, the point is that I do not know when to say when. Or, more truthfully, I do know when to say when, I just refuse to say it. I really prefer to eat the whole damn box of Flaky Flix and wash it down with the whole damn bottle of Louis Martini Cab (college wine of choice and budget) and melt down all the candles and fill the whole journal with bad poetry written until my pen runs out and then prick my finger and write in my own blood and slip out of the bath only when the water is ice cold and crawl into my bed with wet hair so I wake up not only hungover and in a sugar coma but also with pneumonia just so I get all the feeling bad out of the way at once .

Then, I have a renewed dedication to right relations, less alcohol, better poetry and, well, a really strong aversion to Flaky Flix. Even to this day.

Kind of like celebrating New Year's.

Happy 2011!