Monday, July 27, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
THE GRAVITY OF SAN MIGUEL - ANOTHER EXCERPT
Earthy cobblestones massaged my feet as I walked down Piedras Chinas toward the center of town. The little road was only wide enough for the taxi that had dropped me off 30 minutes prior, and I sat gaping out the window as we bounced down side streets that overlapped and looped like a maze. The buildings were short and bright colored stucco; walls holding me in.
My apartment was exactly like the pictures, and the owners had left a little book with their favorite things in San Miguel, and tips of the trade. They told me about a woman several streets down who serves fresh juice every morning. They described how to get my water, take out the trash, and use the telephone. The rooftop terrace was stunning; with a wooden table and views of the town’s center far below. The spires of the parroquia dwarfed all the buildings, reaching to scrape the sky with their pink tips. I couldn’t wait to see it up close.
The air was balmy and warm for an October evening, and I wore jeans, a T-shirt and a light coat. I passed lots of foreigners on my way down, all of whom smiled and nodded. An elderly Mexican man with a sombrero flicked a stick at a trail of burros saddled with wares. He smiled at me, and I noticed gaps in his teeth.
Everywhere I looked, doors opened into courtyards with fountains, little shops, restaurants, and bars. Each building was a secret: you never knew what you might find behind each ornate door. At night I suspected they’d lock up tight, leaving no evidence of their daytime lives, leaving passerby to only guess.
I could hear the music before I even rounded the bend: salsa music played entirely with marimbas. The beat drew me closer as the sun threw my shadow onto stucco and wood. The men were playing in a gazebo in the center of a park with trees trimmed like squares. People spun and swayed on a makeshift dance floor and crowded the benches. Children ran freely and whites mingled with Mexicans. I’d never seen the two races look so equal, and I watched with wonder. In California, I always saw Mexican men with low slung jeans, women with heavy eyeliner, and trucks that skimmed the ground. Here Mexicans were well-dressed and smiling, entire families hanging out for a peaceful evening.
It was then I saw the parroquia. My eyes had been so focused on the music and people I didn’t even see it looming into view on my left. It was what Steve called “magic hour”, when the sun was low to the horizon, illuminating colors with its orange glow. Tears once again pricked my eyes in the face of so much beauty. The church was intricate, with carved columns and bell towers. I’m not a religious person, but the sight of the parroquia was enough to make me want to kneel with grace, and pray.
I wandered back to find a place to sit to enjoy the music. Spanish tumbled around me, punctuated with laughter. I saw a young Mexican couple holding hands on a bench, stealing kisses, and suddenly missed Steve. He’d been here before. He’d walked along these narrow cobblestone streets. He’d found love within the walls of this romantic city in the middle of Mexico. I wondered if he was different then, if clothes didn’t matter, if money didn’t matter. I wondered what had made him change, and if I’d ever see him again. Funny how I could miss a person so much, who had driven me totally nuts in Seattle. I guess the familiar can create illusions, lock people in. I tried to push him from my mind, and enjoy the sublime moment I was living. I wanted someone to miss and care for, someone to enjoy this with, but I knew it had to be the right person, not just the “right now” person.
Half an hour later, I walked back to my apartment, feeling a little sad and lonely. The cast iron streetlights glowed yellow, illuminating tiny cobblestone mountains. I felt like I could be wandering the streets of Paris, or Rome, both trips I had done many times before, with and without men. It was hard to believe I was in the middle if a third world country overtaken by drug lords, kidnappings, and be-headings. I breathed in the mountain air and felt at peace for several moments as I walked up the steep hill to my new apartment.
Monday, July 20, 2009
David's sister and brother in law, Grace and Prasad.
The sun and breeze felt heavenly. This place is truly spectacular, with views of Mount Baker, Canada, and the Islands.
We then went up to the lookout tower, which is even higher.
It was one of the best views I've ever seen. By that time, the day was running out, and we headed back to the campsite to make dinner and hang out. I love this coffee pot we put on the fire the next morning, which is a percolater.
We took turns boating and hiking, and it was a blast. The day went by all too quickly, and once again, David and I were on the motorbike home. We stopped at Deception Pass at sunset, which was spectacular.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Early tomorrow morning David and I will leave on the motorcyle to Orcas Island. I found a "back way", which will be much more pleasant than going up I-5 to Anacortes. We'll ride the bike 45 minutes to Port Townsend, take the ferry to Whidbey Island, ride another hour to Anacortes where we'll go over Deception Pass. I've heard the ferry ride to the San Juan Islands is spectactular, and I think I'll die if I see some Orca Whales.
We are camping Saturday night with David's sister and brother-in-law, and may stay in a bed-and-breakfast on Sunday. I want to go hiking, boating, and to the top of Mount Constitution. I've never been to the San Juans before, have you? Do you have any tips for me? I plan on taking plenty of pictures, but I don't know when I'll be near a computer. Wish me luck! I'm the robocopreporter on the motorbike!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
"Kerk got a new Enter Prize. When they took off the computer said, Worp 1, Worp 2, Worp 3, Worp 4. Jim winked at I don't know who but that was my favorite part because I didn't know he could wink."
"Then there was a red alert and this strang thing came abourd and struck a lady and made a modle of her. Than they went to Vegar and there was a big mechine that was lanched more than 300 years ago. Than one of Jim's crew wanted something as bad as Captine Cerk wanted the enterprize."
Yes, I was writing these things as a 7 year old, and apparently, that was how I comprehended the first major motion Star Trek picture. David and I read my writing and laughed out loud at the crazy spelling, and the fact that I was a Trekkie before I entered 2nd grade. That explains a lot about who I am, and I realized, that I really haven't changed much.
I think the only thing that's really changed is that fact that I've grown up, and sometimes it's hard to pluck imagination out of thin air like I did when I was a child. Now I'm thinking about bills and cooking and exercising and commuting. I stress out about deadlines and stories and interviews. I used to love to make up stories about mouse families that had a raccoon for a daughter and a "bere" for a son. Now I write stories about murders and Chase financial.
In the box I found books on writing and selling your first novel that I'd read back in middle school, and creative writing essays with big blue "A"s. This box of goodies has been a true reminder of who I really am: a writer. I have to keep plugging toward that goal, no matter how hard it becomes, no matter how broke I get. Whatever it takes, I have to stay true to myself.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
David owned a motorcycle for 10 years, so is very good at riding. This motorcycle (scooter) is an automatic, and a piece of cake. David has said many times that it's not for the overly masculine man. It's no Harley, or crotchrocket, but it fits us just fine. I want to learn how to ride it someday.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Whenever I visit a place like this, I feel nostalgic, as though I remember and miss the 1940's and 1950's. My dream is to open a similar place, with dancing. Imagine a classy venue with a wooden dance floor, a curve of round tables, waiters in tuxedos,red wine and martinis. Even though nowhere like that exists in Seattle, I'm so glad Jazz Alley does.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
There's something about nature, and being up in high places, that makes me feel closer to God, or the Oneness, or the Great Spirit, whatever you want to call it. The blue sky is an expanse above me, I breath with the trees, the flowers. The babbling creek taps out a rhythm, and I finally feel part of something, something that lacks when I walk on cement ground, and see buildings rise around me like a forest on crack, encased in stone. We hiked ever upwards, through more beargrass, to a summit called Observation Peak.
I was wondering why I'd been so run down lately. Unmotivated, a little sad, like my energy was slowly leeching away. Being on Bainbridge Island in trees helps a bit, but the unbridled wilderness really replenished my soul.
After this viewpoint we scrambled out to Sisters Rock, on an overgrown trail. I felt like a billy goat as I stood on another craggy peak.
This week, I've been dreaming about hiking. Picturing the trees, the views, the mountains and flowers. This hike reminded me of how much I need the outdoors, that I should go outside whenever I can. I'm only a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from some beautiful places in the Olympics.
I've learned to embrace my mosquito bites, and I'm no longer embarrassesd. I can't believe I almost called in sick because of vanity, when these marks are only proof that beauty exists. It's always out there, I can see it when I close my eyes.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I had a sudden urge to to find some carts, use a boom box sized marantz, or even start cutting tape. I felt underdressed in jeans and a tank-top as I was transported back to 1957. I should be wearing pumps and a hat, and holding a tumbler of Jack Daniels with clinking ice cubes. Never mind, a woman wouldn't have been a journalist in 1957. But KOMO reporter Jon Repp would have, as he squats elegantly near his laptop. Personally, I think he needs a fedora and a Cuban cigar to finish the look.
My role as a news reporter was quickly changed, as I became the person responsible for coordinating and putting audio on the air. I downloaded ABC updates and reporter wraps on one computer, and tranferred them to another. I spent my entire day several inches from the floor, on a beat-up, dirty footstool. Welcome to the "glamorous job" of being in "the media"!We worked tirelessly to be on the air. Some would say, "why?" Why not just put the best of Schram and Carlson and forget about it? Star 101.5, the top rated radio station in Seattle, was so lucky. The entire radio broadcast was done by Ipod, and an electrical box sitting on the floor.
I think as journalists, we feel an ownership over the content of KOMO Newsradio. We know our mission is to inform and entertain the thousands of people who are listening to us. So we busted our butts to bring news, traffic, sports and weather, even though the anchors were working without computers. Below is KOMO anchor Herb Weisbaum with the 5pm rundown, which is scrawled on a wrinkled piece of paper.
I can't begin to explain how fun this experience was, and how it brought the team together. We are all professionals, and made do with what we had at hand. It also reminded us that great radio isn't about the fancy electronics, computer programs, breaking news and the AP wire. It's about being human, and doing our best for our listeners.
(KOMO anchors Lisa Brooks and Herb Weisbaum)
Ever member of the team stepped up. KOMO's Travis Mayfield did reports live in the field all day long, editor Jeremy Grater scheduled live interviews on a black phone from the 1980's, Mark Aucutt hand wrote the sports reports, Art Sanders came in hours early to hand-write leads on crinkled, lined paper.
Thanks everyone, for being so great. I'm so proud to be part of this team, wherever the broadcast takes us.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
"110 miles per hour," Leary said leisurely as he kept the car in his sights. I, on the other hand, was gripping the door handle as my knuckles turned white. We were flying, and damned if I wasn't holding on.
"Don't worry, I'm a driving instructor." That's not going to stop another car from cutting us off and sending us flipping into oncoming traffic, I thought.
"I trust you completely," I said, not letting go, "I've just never been this fast on a freeway before.....which......is a good thing."
He sped right behind the blue Prius, flashed his lights, and blipped the siren with a flick of his fingers. The car pulled over. Trooper Leary put on his hat. By the way, Washington State Troopers have been voted best dressed in the country. Their hats rock. I thought it would be weird if I asked for a picture.
"This is our radio that goes directly to dispatch," he showed me, "If anything happens, push that button."
He went and talked to the Beverly Hills, California driver, who admitted he knew he was speeding, but was doing it anyway. Leary told me the driver wasn't very receptive, and he wrote him a ticket well over $150. My thought was, the dude can probably afford it.
We pulled over several more cars, including a SUV towing a trailer that was wobbling like crazy. It looked like it could split off at any second, so Trooper Leary talked to the man, gave him a warning, and told him to pull off the freeway. With every person we stopped, I could tell the Trooper really cared about safety, and wanted people to think before they act.
"79 miles per hour," he said, pointing at a minivan we promptly sped after. "She's going that fast, and I can see children in the car. What are people thinking when they drive like that!"
He talked to everyone with a smile and a relaxed demeanor, and tried his hardest to get his point across that it's dangerous to speed. He told me that over the 4th of July weekend there will be 30 troopers on the road, so they can pull over DUI's and try to prevent fatalities. These guys are doing their jobs, and they are doing it to save lives.
Later, as I was interviewing the Trooper about another topic, he did something that saved my life, or better, my sanity. A gigantic daddy longlegs spider suddenly appeared at the dashboard in front of me, and speechless, I pointed as it crawled across the buttons.
"What is it?" he said.
"A spider. Please. Put it outside. Now."
I almost didn't want to tell him for fear he'd kill the little bugger, but I couldn't pretend to stay calm any more. He grabbed the dangly thing by one leg, and threw it out the window. I relaxed, and we continued the interview.
"If you get startled by a spider that can also cause you to drive aggressively and swerve in and out of traffic." He said this with a completely straight face, as I chuckled in the background.
It's just another reason why Trooper Leary rocks. Next time we're taking the airplane.