As I struggled with getting a MS Word doc to format the way I wanted to late yesterday I was reminded of one of my favorite “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” moments on NPR. And comforted by the fact that even though Word frustrated me with its inability to perform the simplest of functions consistently at least “Clippy” wasn’t around anymore to taunt me.
Every once and a while I learn something from TV. Last night I learned all sorts of things about skunks, yes skunks, on PBS. But beyond the fact that skunks eat bees (don’t their tongues get stung?!?), the most important thing I learned is that tomato juice doesn’t counteract the stink spray, but a precise combination of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and laundry detergent does. Now that’s useful information.
I live in San Diego. In the city. Technically. Although my neighborhood feels suburban with neat ranch houses and split levels tucked in on cul-de-sacs, I can see the downtown skyline from the street, hear airplanes as they take off from Lindberg field and watch police cars zoom by in high-speed pursuit. But I also live on the edge of a canyon, a wonderful ridge perched above Mission Bay and Pacific Beach along a fault line and formed by seismic activity I choose to ignore. Here in the middle of the city, in this suburban enclave, wildlife abounds. Hawks, lizards, moles, owls and all manner of critter are regular visitors to our yard.
I often take for granted the dueling interests of the wild and our urban lifestyle. I sometimes forget because I live in the “city” that people pushed themselves into territory populated by other species long before us. This morning I saw a pair of coyotes trotting down our street. They nonchalantly sniffed garbage cans, gardens and the toys of neighborhood kids scattered across lawns. They hopped retaining walls, ignored fences and wandered into the canyon where they’ll remain until they decide to go somewhere else. A reminder that we are the ones passing through their habitat, not the other way around.
Unexpected late night phone calls are never good. So when I saw Jay’s number pop up at 4 am Eastern I didn’t have to answer to know that the news was not good. Our childhood friend Kim had been in the hospital for over a week now fighting the latest battle in her ongoing war with cystic fibrosis.
When we were 10 years old and running around on playgrounds together our parents tried to prepare us, they warned that Kim would probably not graduate from high school with us. But she did. When we all went our separate ways and off to college we were told she probably wouldn’t live past 25. But she did. As we started to get married and settled down, we were told that Kim likely wouldn’t see her own wedding day. But she did. Then the babies started to come, and yup, Kim had one too. But now in our mid-30s the miracles, medical advancements and pharmaceutical innovations just couldn’t keep up. Kim won many battles, but ultimately lost the war. Cystic fibrosis claimed another precious life.
From 3000 miles away Kim’s death is hard to process. She always beat the odds. Always lived her life. Never accepted her disease as a limitation, just plowed forward as any other person would. Her life was not one of missed opportunities. Even though I’m sad and will miss her dearly, I know she squeezed every ounce of joy out of life. I know she was happy. I know she lived a good life. And that’s more than most people can say.
As I walked down the sidewalk to my office this morning, a little spotted dog popped out of the bushes. It stopped, considered me, and then without warning yipped happily and took off in the opposite direction. I called after it, concerned it would get hit by a car in the street, but it didn’t stop. It bolted down the block. Stopped. Looked back again. And then took off running full speed into the distance. Kim?
I grew up on the East Coast. The Northeast Coast more specifically. In and around New York City exactly. The world of my youth was fast, competitive and exciting. New York felt like the center of the universe, and, well, as Frank sang, “if you could make it there you could make it anywhere.”
After earning my college degree in New England alongside of a cadre of over-achievers I landed in DC, a city that brought new meaning to the word “competitive.” So you can imagine that after 30-some years in a fast-paced, highly competitive, over-achieving, push to you get it right and don’t stop till you do world moving to Southern California was a bit of a shock.
Don’t get me wrong, I love San Diego. I love wearing jeans and flip flops to work (although Brooks Brothers is lamenting that change…). I love going home at 5:30. I love saying, “I’m going on vacation and will be unreachable for two weeks.” I love the easy-breezy SoCal attitude that nothing is really worth stressing over. There’s always another wave, another sunny day, another opportunity around the corner, so dude, don’t harsh my mellow.
So why is it driving me crazy that all day long, every day, one of my colleagues does nothing but whine? Whine about how her clients are mean to her. Whine about how much work she has to do. Whine about how her instructions are unclear. Mind you I don’t ever see her do any work, just yap all day on the phone to other people about her so-called problems.
On the West Coast you’re supposed to just ignore the things that don’t directly affect you. You’re supposed to just let it all slide away. You’re not supposed to let someone else’s “bad energy” infect you. Put your headphones on and just ignore it. But the hyper-competive, over-achieving East Coaster in me wants to yell out, “just do your f*cking job! And if you don’t/can’t/won’t then we’ll hire someone who will.”
Fortunately I manage to suppress that urge. I suppose if I suppress it long enough it will eventually fade away…and then I’ll be a West Coaster…for now though, nope, thankfully it’s still there ;-)
Tennis is a sport of generations, and Roger Federer dethroned the stars of mine. I didn’t want to like him. I didn’t want to admire him. He beat Pete at Wimbledon! The nerve, really. But his greatness is impossible to ignore. Now that his game is on the other side of its peak the funeral chants start. And I don’t want Roger to go away. I don’t want Andy Murray or Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic. I want the past. I want to see my favorite players playing at their best. Delivering stunning grand slam matches not just in the finals, I want epic matches starting back in the quarters at least…But time moves on and so does the game. When Roger retires he will likely go quietly. Will we notice or will we already be in love with the next star of the court? The next greatest ever? Only time will tell…
First it was the Krispy Kreme chicken sandwich. Then it was deep-fried avocado, the zucchini weenie – a zucchini stuffed with a hot dog and deep fried – and, of course, deep-fried Oreos.
This summer brings another set of taste sensations: deep-fried Kool-Aid, deep-fried Girl Scout mint cookies, and deep-fried ribs. Think cholesterol danger zone with a high sugar punch.
The creator of these delights is Charlie Boghosian, who started working fairs when he was 14 as a summer job. He walked up to the gates of the San Diego State Fair and got a job at a charbroiled corn stand.
I go camping for three reasons: that crisp, clean air filling your lungs in the morning after sleeping under the stars; the opportunity to get lost in nature and forget about so-called civilization; and most importantly, for the chance to roast marshmallows for s’mores over a roaring camp fire.
I’m a big fan of summer Shakespeare at the Old Globe in San Diego. There’s just something so special about sitting outside as the sun sets over Balboa Park and watching the Bard’s plays come to life. Last night I caught a preview performance of “The Tempest.” It was superb. And now I’m anxiously looking forward to returning to Bermuda for the first time in a few years. Is that Ariel in the distance?