Gratuitous Color Shot #18: I took it on the run baby / ’cause that’s the way I want it baby

Hawaiian folklore deems Oahu’s rugged, remote Ka’ena Point as a leina a ka ‘uhane, or jumping off point for souls leaving the earth. Guided by ancestors or deceased friends, a soul leapt from the point’s sacred rock into the ocean before entering po heaven. But apparently not all the dead were as lucky: some say souls judged unworthy were cursed to wander the island in misery and isolation.

As I’m extraordinarily pleased to announce I’ve accepted a position with a new company, the legend’s core concept—being escorted and supported when heading into the unknown—is one that resonates with me greatly right now.

Especially since the drawn-out process of seeking a better professional life had me living in dread that someone would sidle up to me and start singing “Heard it from a friend who / Heard it from a friend who / Heard it from another you been messin’ around [with interviews].”

Fortunately, my efforts to slide out with minimum drama and a bit of grace succeeded. Objectively, I know I’m headed for a better place; subjectively, though, I’ll be in limbo for a while as the whole new-job thing sorts itself out.

Wish me luck with my leaping?

At Oahu’s westernmost spot, a fellow hiker embraces a more upward view of Ka’ena Point Natural Area Reserve

PSA: Read more about efforts to restore the ecosystem at Ka’ena Point

 

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Gratuitous Color Shot #8: Could you elaborate on that?

At the risk of messing with my street cred as “the least Zen person I know,” “kinda tightly wound,” and “a massive overanalyzer,” I am constantly trying to be more accepting of what the universe sees fit to offer me.

Especially when it sends me signs—sometimes literal signs—to chill no matter how ragged and beset I may feel:

Is the message behind the message ‘last one standing’ or ‘doesn’t stand a chance’?

LIKE WOW, RIGHT?

Unless I’m misinterpreting the message and I’m supposed to aim myself at people and try to take them down, way down.

[Which actually fits better with my grudge-holding, argumentative personality. And it’s not as though the universe’s micro- and macro-level choices are above reproach…so why SHOULD I trust it will take me in a useful and/or life-enhancing direction?]

If I’m going to get serious about ceding control/practicing acceptance, however, I really need a Quick Start guide. Because otherwise I don’t see myself mastering Being the Ball anytime soon. I mean when my days aren’t PACKED FULL of trying to influence people over whom I have zero control, they are positively brimming with passive, slack-jawed waiting for various proverbial stars to align in my favor.

Sure, Kathy the Idahoesque Acupuncturist offered a morsel of help when she recommended I visualize being a fish who lets the currents take me where they will.

[Me: “I feel more like a salmon. How about I visualize a salmon getting upstream in spite of the currents?” Her: “No.” Me (silently): “Killjoy.”]

But I need a little bit more direction than that.

Especially since I have to say that stumbling around trying to be the Ball or a Fish or the Wind Beneath My Wings usually leaves me depressed or fed up. And when I hit a certain point of fed-upness I start to detach from my usual outcome-oriented desires/fears, a state of mind I like to call “going all Thelma and Louise.”

POLICE (O.S.)

(over loudspeaker) Place your hands in plain view. Any failure to obey that command will be considered an act of aggression against us.

I repeat, turn your engine off and place your hands in plain view.

INT. CAR – DAY

THELMA
What’re you doing?

LOUISE
(loads gun) I’m not givin’ up.

….

POLICE (O.S.)

(over loudspeaker) I repeat, cut your engine off and place your hands in plain view.

THELMA
Ok then, listen. Let’s not get caught.

LOUISE
What’re you talkin’ about?

THELMA
Let’s keep goin’.

LOUISE
What d’ya mean?

THELMA
(indicating the Grand Canyon) Go.

LOUISE
You sure?

THELMA
Yeah. Yeah.

Maybe Going All Thelma and Louise is a subset of Being the Ball; hell if I know. I also don’t know how people in truly life or death situations weigh their odds without losing their minds.

But when it comes to fraught yet garden-variety decision making, I’m starting to realize it’s only when I really and truly stop trying to please others that I’m likely to be rewarded.

And it kind of bothers me that I usually get what I want when I demonstrate that I’d rather go over a cliff than surrender. How does that jive with what one hears about compromise and cooperation and everyone loving a team player, huh?

But I guess people with power—people who have something others want—often respond better to bravado than supplication. Or often enough, anyway. So after recently negotiating for something fairly big in my generously termed professional life, I’m adjusting to (and cautiously celebrating) the results.

Trouble is, there’s a part of me that can’t stop remembering how good my foot felt on that pedal….

Marsee Bakery olive bread: It’s the pits!

Call me mind-blowingly optimistic, but when I buy a loaf of olive bread and see a “May contain olive pits” disclaimer, I assume that any “pits” will be pretty much pulverized. Because what commercial bakery would have a quality control process that allowed pits of any DISCERNABLE size to appear in the final product?

Well, for starters: Marsee Bakery.

Marsee Bakery Olive Bread: Truth in advertising + the poking-out, slightly flour-obscured Pit #2 (upper center)

Marsee Bakery Olive Bread: Truth in advertising + the poking-out Pit #2 (right)...as always, click to enlarge

There may of course be others, but in approximately 15 years neither I nor any olive bread eater I’ve known has encountered pits in their olive bread. That would be…wrong. Dangerous. Or as Tawny, the Marsee Bakery employee with whom I initially spoke said:*

I’m sorry. That isn’t supposed to happen.”

But happen it did, leaving me with two sheared/chipped teeth and discomfort I’m scared to have diagnosed by my dentist tomorrow. Luckily the loaf wasn’t shared amongst friends, since after swallowing Pit #1 and some tooth fragments I noticed—and photographed—another pit poking its not-so-little self out at the bottom. I’d certainly get a rep as hostess with the mostess if I served bread that took out someone ELSE’S teeth!

Since I was both concerned by the idea of rampaging pits and hoping Marsee might feel ethically compelled to cover my entirely-out-of-pocket dental costs**, I contacted them. Once over the phone, the second time in person. At which point Tawny informed me that Chef Danielle was going with the Disclaimer Defense. And declined to give me the contact info of higher ups. [Nor ask for mine, just in case anyone further up the chain of command wanted to reach me.]

Maybe my love of Ralph Nader’s non-presidential-election-related efforts is talking here, but if olive bread is going to be the new chaw, then I think Marsee Bakery needs to amp up its disclaimer. Show you mean business, people! I’m thinking something along the lines of:

WARNING. THIS LOAF MAY CONTAIN OLIVE PITS THAT CAN JACK UP YOUR TEETH AND POTENTIALLY CAUSE OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS. INGEST AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Marsee did offer to replace my two loaves of olive bread, however. [Me: “You know, I’d rather not take the risk.”] Instead, I accepted their DDS-bound refund. Though maybe I should earmark it for a JD instead.

In the spirit of “love the sinner, hate the sin” though, I’d like to rave about a place that understands how to do right by the delicious olive:

Ironically given my trouble with its namesake, my true love may be The Olive Pit

Yes, the affectionately—and non-literally—named company, located in the heart of California olive country, offers passerby an unpretentious setting and many an olive-oriented delight. Graze at their olive bar and leave wishing you’d held back on that last blue-cheese stuffed olive! Debate the ideal amount of grassiness an olive oil should have as you sample “regular” and flavored varieties! Rejoice at how their aged balsamics have a price point good for those with champagne taste and a beer budget!

I’m telling you, what the Olive Pit lacks in la di dah labeling it makes up for with kickass product and super-reasonable pricing.

Fortunately for those of us who only drive through Corning, California on rare occasions or don’t live near it at all, the Olive Pit does online transactions. And fortunately for those gunshy about PITS in their olive products, they seem to have mastered the art of extraction. Maybe Marsee Bakery should place a bulk order.

Below, one of my favorite (if unimaginative) ways to use The Olive Pit’s products….

The Celebrating Corning Honey Citrus Vinaigrette

4 oz orange juice

2.5 Tbsp honey

2 oz aged Traditional Style Balsamic Vinegar

4 oz inexpensive extra virgin olive oil

3 oz yuppie olive oil (recommended: Ascolano, Arbequina,

or the only-available-seasonally-and-mine’s-almost gone Olio Nuovo from the California Olive Ranch)

1 oz Blood Orange olive oil

Salt + pepper to taste

Mix juice, honey, and vinegar together. In separate pourable bowl/measuring cup, combine oils. Whisk oils into juice mixture; add salt and pepper.

** Unfortunately not on tape.

** Not everyone will share my position, I know. So far my informal polling has resulted in a 70/30 split in favor of company responsibility.

Note: All products purchased by me. No monies have been given for the writing of this post though I will be happy to accept some NEW TEETH from Marsee Bakery.

Another side to her story

In an odd, falling-dominoes way I discovered that a woman I liked very much died last week. Cancer.

God knows others have much richer memories of her than I do. I only knew her during a single, condensed phase of her life–a time when she was throwing monstrous amounts of time and a not-insignificant amount of money into broadening her creative capabilities.

The testimonials I’ve seen all speak to her loving, devoted ways as a wife, mother, and friend. She earned every word, no doubt. But when I met her 10 years ago, outside of her usual roles, she was just herself: a kind, deliberate person in an oft-unlikable and chaotic setting.

At the time, she’d just taken her fairly conventional life in what she thought would be a slightly different direction. The alteration wasn’t meant to disrupt the lives of her husband, children, or clients, but even a 5-degree change in course can plunge one into the rapids. And like the rest of us who’d picked the same path, away she went.

Despite paddling madly, she found she was unable to meet her own high standards. And with so many new expectations added to her pile, she couldn’t test her limits without reducing what she was able to offer others. So reduce she did (though from my perspective it sure looked like she continued to give a lot without asking for much in return).

Back then I wasn’t sure if her loved ones supported her choice to throw herself into something foreign and challenging and draining. If they didn’t, I hope they eventually understood why she risked making her life, and by extension their lives, a little less perfect and predictable. Because despite the exhaustion, she seemed to thrive. Despite being surrounded by love–because of being surrounded by love?–she wasn’t afraid to desire something more, to give herself permission to explore new ideas and old fascinations.

She was soft-spoken, humble, and in her 40s–an easy type to overlook or ignore in our particular environment. But if you were smart enough to pay attention, she’d make you think. She was a methodical pragmatist who wasn’t afraid to dream, and I’m sure many of her friends and family will remember her that way.

But just in case they don’t, I will.

More Emily Dickinson than PT Barnum

In the late 90s, I accidentally scratched out a bedtime story that seemed to delight more than a few children and a surprising number of insomniacs. A few years later, a friend called in a favor and made an offer: if I wanted, I could get free spec illustrations from a local artist.

I wanted. And after meeting with the illustrator, I received his designs, designs that embodied the untamed energy I had tried to portray. He deftly added so much heart to my text that 10 years later, his images continue to melt mine:


But as I was neither That Kind of Writer nor ambitious, I shopped the story half-assedly. Eventually I shopped it again—still half-assedly. Had I done it more throughly, I’m pretty sure the additional rejections would have put me well over my oh-we-really-we-don’t-want-to-go-there RDA. [No wonder Those Kinds of Writers tend towards depression and go gaga for groupies!]

Overall, the process seemed very unseemly, with more than a whiff of S&M, for a storybook. Of course overall I probably seem very unseemly, with more than a whiff of S&M, for a storybook writer.

Occasionally, I’d rouse myself and think, “Why don’t I try going around vs through the industry’s hoops?!!” but I didn’t exactly put any effort into doing that. More specifically, I put NO effort into doing that. Unless one counts daydreaming about emailing my little creation—“Eloise meets Good Night Moon!”—to the staff of Oprah or Katie C. Though perhaps I can get points for doing a little light scheming about partnering with a mattress company.

IT HAS A SLEEP ANGLE, OK?

But I did nothing. Why? With literally nothing to lose, why I couldn’t bring myself to do something mildly zany? Ridiculous. Or way f’d up.

So now I’m going to post it on the internet.

Ridiculous? Or way f’d up? More a reminder to myself that external validation doesn’t set us free from internal demons. Sure, it’s easier to endure a life that’s more pats-on-the-back than pokes-in-the-eye; I’ll trade this pirate patch for a sore vertebrae any old day.

But I’m beginning to believe that if we don’t make the space for our happy endings, they’ll go elsewhere. So I’m tossing out a lot of mental crap, sweeping the hippocampus, playing Barry White to my anterior cingulate. After all, I’ve got nothing to lose by trying to lure in a happy ending or two…and everything to gain.