Saturday, September 24, 2011


I love camping.

I haven't been camping in more than 4 years. Not because I haven't wanted to, but because of time schedules, school, work, family, The Man moving in, sharing of vehicle, that thing called money (Thing formerly known as money? Oh, that's my bank account.)

I loved to camp at Lake Cuyamaca near Julian, which is outside of San Diego. Julian is known for apple pie. It is also known to the Girl Scouts as CAMP! I developed a love for camping at an early age, when I went to summer camp at Camp Winacka. Horseback-riding camp was my favorite.

I loved being close to the horses, their soft, warm breath foggy in the early morning hours as we mucked out their stalls. I loved sneaking them apple slices from lunch, feeling the suede-like mouths move over my hands. I whispered secrets into their large ears, and received nodding responses in return. They kept my secrets. I've kept their love for all these years. At a time in my life where humans were confusing to me, these strong, dignified animals made sense to me.

Meet "Dinky", the smallest horse for the smallest rider (Me).

And meet "Rocky", the camp kitten who liked to sleep on my pillow.

I digress....

Lake Cuyamaca is an interesting place; depending on the amount of rain we get, the lake can be very small, or immense, crossing over the footpath leading to the peninsula. The waters can vary in color, from a deep indigo after a fresh rainfall, to more of a murky green from the algae and grasses living in the bottom. I love it all.

The fires in 2003 broke my heart when they ravaged this area. Enormous, gorgeous green trees were black, rotting stumps in seconds. The mountains and hills were black and brown rubble. Animal life ceased to exist for quite some time, having nothing to eat and nowhere to hide. Homes, memories, and lives were lost.

I returned to the area during a rough time in my life. I initially drove up for the day, and sat with my journal and camera by the Lake, writing some, but mostly staring off into the distance. I watched the clouds roll in and out, the ground squirrels chattering to each other, the long lines of ants making their way to wherever. I listened to the sound of the water splashing against the dock. I sat there for hours. I felt as if I had found my way home.

A couple of weeks later, I went back and stayed overnight, in the back of my truck. It wasn't true. So a few weeks after that, I bought camping gear and returned "for real".  I set up my tent, my camp stove, my chair, and brought out my flashlights and things that I would need for night. I set off on a hike around the peninsula, and was overjoyed to find a labyrinth. When I found it, it was completely covered in wild grasses, unfinished, and seemingly abandoned. I sat for hours in the center, feeling the wind and the energies around me. I was filled with a searing sense of "self". I returned to this place several times over the next few days.

I was shut off from the television, radio, and almost all phone contact, as cellular service in that area was not very good. I was in heaven. I missed my cats like mad, however I knew they were in good care, and would be understanding of my need to resurface my soul.

I went camping many times after that, and would often search out new spots. However, no spot seemed to be Home, like the Lake was. I would spend hours wandering the area, watching fathers and sons fish on the lake in tiny aluminum boats, and would share my flashlights with the giggling groups of high-school campers who had forgotten theirs at home. I would listen to the chittering of raccoons as they passed by my campsite, and would hear coyotes howling in the distance. I would look at the stars pass over through the roof of my tent, and relish the soft glow of the Milky Way.

One evening, I sat on a table overlooking the lake. The fog began rolling in, in strange patterns, tubelike, over the water. The sun was able to sift through the murky grayness from time to time. I was able to capture a moment that will forever be captured in my heart and mind. (All I did was darken the photo. No color was added, and nothing else tampered with.)

Do you see my Guardian Angel at the top?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where I'm From

I am from creaky, wooden mini-chairs in the backyard, from Wisk laundry detergent and 80 rolls of brown, 
Hi-Dri paper towels.

I am from yellow stucco, drains that gurgle whenever it rains, and the whooshing sound of coffee in the old percolator with the see-through plastic top.

I am from the bougain-villea, the cypress trees, and the pond that disappeared.

I am from player pianos and talking with your hands, from white beards, soft voices and colorful tattooes.

I am from slamming kitchen cabinets, cursing at defunct computer programs, and having too many papers on my desk.

From being adopted and being adored.

I am from a mixture of Paganism, Taoism, Buddhism, and the Green Flash. I am from the quiet curl of a baby fern leaf on the first day of Spring.

I am from San Diego, from Cherokee, Irish and English blood. I am from clam linguine and baked potatoes that explode when you open the oven door.

From the Wint-o-green Lifesavers on the patio over a card game, the Chasing of the Bunny, and playing superheroes on the enormous, brown swing-set.

I am from everywhere, bookcases, albums, fireplace mantels, computer files and libraries.

I am.

If you would like to use this prompt, please see HERE for the template.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

30 Days of Shamelessness - Day 7

Today's challenge: Share your efforts at something you don’t think you do well.

For me, it's organization.

Now, arguably I'm clean, just cluttered. FlyLady helped immensely over the summer. The place was spotless. However, HOWEVER, I was not going to school during the summer. Once school hit, Typhoon Coriander blew through the damn house and upended everything. I'm happy to have a place to put this laptop. I can't see the loveseat because it's covered by clean laundry, textbooks, various coupons, and paperwork that I "might need tomorrow".

The Man is understandably frustrated. Bubba (the cat) is all, "Ooohh. Cool shit to play with and knock under the fridge and you will never see it again. Ha-ha-ha." Bandit (other cat) is like, "Whatever. C'mere and let me sit on your lap."

I am HUGELY organized with my scheduling, however. This semester we're required to do many things outside of school, plus with being on the Board of Directors in our organization, I have a zillion things to do all at one time.

Um, sure. I can fit you in... how's next February?

That is my actual dayplanner for the month of September. It has more stuff in it now since I took that picture a few days ago. I should have weighed the damn thing before and after I actually wrote, because I could probably buy stock in ink or something based by poundage.

I left my dayplanner at home today. I felt naked. Naked is not a good look for a nursing student on campus. 

(I wasn't actually naked.)

So while I'm great at planning and putting stuff on those pages, I'm not so great at organizing my home while I'm doing all the stuff on those pages. I come in the door and plop. I like to plop. Plopping on The Magic Nap Couch is a pleasantry that I haven't had much time for. There is also Norco. Norco has helped my shoulder feel better at night but does absolutely balls at offering me spare time when I am actually conscious and able to move.

Last night I was on The Magic Nap Couch trying to focus on House of Leaves and I ended up waking up at 4:30 in the morning. On the couch. With the book still on my stomach. Thanks, Norco. However, when I came back from a potty break, I found this:

Bandit absorbing the nightmare of the story through osmosis

So as you can see, my organizational un-skills weave their way through my thoughts as well. Start with a blog about a messy house, end with a cute picture of a cuter kitty who is claiming my book for herself.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


There are a million blog posts, Facebook entries, and Twitter feeds about what people experienced on this day 10 years ago. All of us have our own stories.

I was in Hawaii with my now-ex-husband and his family. We had awoken astonishingly early that morning to the promise of a helicopter ride around the island of Kauai. It was an absolutely beautiful morning for 3:30 a.m., humid after the rainstorm that had come through the day before. I had had my usual breakfast of fresh Hawaiian pineapple and Kona coffee. I was feeling a bit nauseated at the time (from a pregnancy that I wasn't yet aware of).

We arrived at the small airfield only to be turned away by a woman with a look of horror on her face. "A plane has flown into one of the Twin Towers," she said. All air traffic had been grounded.

We returned to the hotel and turned on the TV just in time to watch the second tower fall. My mother-in-law and I were horrified, tearful, and scared to death. We were on an island, hours away from family, and all air traffic had been halted. Phone lines were slow to reach my family. It turns out that a cousin was supposed to be in one of the towers that morning. He, thankfully, had been delayed at home.

My now-ex-husband was evidently untouched by what was happening, and kept telling his mom and me to calm down. I hated him so much at that moment for being so cold. (I really don't have any idea what was happening in his own head.) I took solace in my frequent phone calls to my parents, afraid that it would be a long time before I could see them again. Afraid that I would never get off that island. Afraid that we would be attacked, that my parents' city would be attacked, that life would never be the same.

The screams coming from the television echo still.

We eventually did make it out of Hawaii, accompanied by guards with machine guns and their German Shepherds. Tensions ran high among the throngs of people in the airports, and we were all terrified and silent the entire flight home. Reaching the mainland safely inspired a new outburst of tears from several.

I honor those who fought so hard to rescue people who needed help. I honor those who lost their lives. I honor those who continue to grieve for people they love. I honor those who, every day, strive to make our country a safe place.

Friday, September 9, 2011


I imagine most of the country heard about our blackout here yesterday and last night which affected about 6 million people. While it was "only" an 8-hour long blackout for us, it lasted longer for some people, and might still be affecting people in various parts.

We were in lecture at the time, and many of us had been distracted by Twitter and Facebook, listening to people saying how the power had just gone off here and there. I was wondering how long it would take to hit our campus. At 4:18, "click". The room went dark and it became eerily silent. After about 15 minutes, a loud siren sounded, with a voice over the speakers telling everyone to remain calm, and to leave their classrooms. My friends and I tried to figure out what to do, because two of us had taken the trolley to campus, and guess what? The trolleys run on electricity. My friend offered to give me a ride to my car, and the other friend took the bus.

That was when the second siren went off. We looked up to see police helicopters soaring over the campus. The siren was an eerie downgrade WOOOOOO-WOOOOOOO reminiscent of concentration camps and tornado sirens. My friend and I hightailed it across campus to the voice saying, "We are closing the campus. Please leave immediately and listen to emergency service personnel."

It was like we were being invaded. Or there was something awful about to happen. Maybe it already had happened.

The parking structure and the surrounding streets were in a standstill. After 25 minutes of sitting in the parking structure, we got out and went to the Veteran's "hang-out" for two hours. It was hotter than hell in there, being almost 100 degrees outside. We stayed there for two hours, trying to get any cellphone service or data plan usage. Nothing. It was like the world had stopped. The landlines didn't work, either.

After leaving, we were able to get to the trolley station where my car was. It was a slow and dangerous process because the stoplights were out and people were real brainless, not treating a dead stoplight like a stop sign. People blew through these dim lights like they didn't exist, and almost crashed. It was horrific.  The freeways were so congested that you would have thought the cars had broken down. As I drove by stores, cars were double and triple parked. The local 7-11 had a line going out the door and around the building.

The whole time I was worried about my cats in that heat.

I got home (finally), and one cat had already been sick. The other was hiding under the bed, probably in the hopes that Antarctica had magically shifted earthly positions. The Man was on the couch, apparently having melted into the fabric. Everything was slow.

There was no phone service at all. My parents, who live 20 minutes away, were unreachable. I had camping equipment and candles and water. I was not worried about us, but about those around us. I made sure my elderly neighbor was okay. We settled down for the evening and waited for it to cool down.

Eventually, it did. The moonlight shone through the windows, and I stared at the stars, which normally are unseen due to city lights. The constant electronic hum had silenced. Neighbors' voices sifted through the night, and we were able to hear people from blocks away. Normally I would be annoyed at this, but something about candlelight and the "escapist" feeling made it okay, and actually comforting. I received sporadic text messages from my family and friends (actual calls couldn't be made, but some texts got through).

At around midnight, our lights came on. I went to bed in peace, knowing that I would be able to get ahold of my family in the morning. When the lights came on, it was like the silence had been shifted. It was like an insult to the eyes. Such quiet and calm had been disrupted, which was in exact opposition to earlier thoughts that the quiet and calm had been the disrupting factors.

Maybe we need to shut off our own electricity more often. There is a human connection out there that nobody seems to know what to do with until hours after the power has gone out.

I issue a challenge, one that I'm going to take myself: Life your life in quiet candlelight once in awhile. Rekindle a human relationship with those you live with. If you don't live with anyone, rekindle that relationship with yourself, in the quiet.

We are all so surrounded by, and infused with, this technology and electricity that we don't know what to do when we don't have it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What happens when I think I have a lucid dream. #LifeFail

I'm now on the hunt for unicorns.

By now, you should know enough about me to be able to not call the local authorities, because I'm just weird all by myself.

So last night I woke from what I thought was a lucid dream. Creepy shivers and navy blue haze and a lone, barren tree far off in the distance. Sitting on a rock in the center was someone that I talk to a couple of times a week via a social site. We've never met, but have thrown fully-capitalized sentences back and forth just for fun.

He would trace single words into the blue haze surrounding him, and then his arm would fall, as if in defeat. He would try again. And his arm would, again, fall by his side. It was disheartening and very sad. The frustration and sense of loss filled me, and I couldn't shake it.

So what do I do? I tell him about it. Because I am totally lame.

He tells me that he's fine, really, and he hasn't drawn words in blue fog for at least 7 months.

I tell him that I'm so glad he's moved on from that phase.

He tells me he's moved on to red fogs and whole sentences.

I tell him how proud I am of his growth, and to let me know if he starts seeing unicorns.

He says, "Or should maybe... you... let me know if you see unicorns?"


I was able to shake this "vision", because after all, he was okay, and not only that, I was getting hugged and kissed by one of my patients as she was being discharged from the hospital.

She and her husband have been married for almost 60 years. They were incredibly cute to each other. He told me how they met (which I won't disclose here based on patient privacy), and that he still loves her now as much as he did back then.

I cried.

I'm sappy. What can I say?

I think love is an incredible thing.

And unicorns.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm going to Panama in January, and need your help!

Okay people,

If I haven't put you off yet by talking about death, or random people selling random disgusting things on the internet, or telling you all about C. diff., then consider yourself rad.

I need your help. WE need your help.

This coming January, with a fabulous group from my university, we will be providing medical care to people in Panama. We need donations, not only for us getting there in the first place, but to be able to buy simple things like Tylenol and toothbrushes.

Think about it. Some of these people don't know what a toothbrush is. Doesn't that blow your mind? These families receive medical care twice, maybe three times A YEAR, if they're lucky. And, all of that is provided by groups like ours. They don't have a place to go if they are sick. We have to come to them. Think about how blessed we are to live in this country. Yes, some of us don't have health insurance. But we're still able to find help if we need it.

I believe this is going to be the experience of a lifetime. What an awesome thing to be able to take into my future nursing career. I know I'm going to be surrounded by nothing but love and the knowledge that we were able to really make a difference. I can't wait for that first smile.

So, what do you think? Can you help? Will you help? I'm not asking for a million dollars, only what you might hand over for your McGriddle in the morning. You will have my eternal thanks, because it's YOU who were able to make this dream a reality for so many people.

Thank you in advance. Please forward this to anyone you think might be able to help.

If you want more information on the Medical Brigades, please click this link. And if you're able to be of assistance, please click the "Can you help" links above. Thank you, thank you, thank you.