Saturday, December 30, 2006

when i grow up ...

When I was five my dad was stylist to the Tiller Girls when their dance show came to our city. Tiller Girls had to be over 5’10”; had to be able to kick their noses with their shins while retaining beautiful, permanently etched smiles; and had to travel all over the world. I looked up at my dad and asked, “If you’re 6’4”, will I grow up to be over 5’10”?”

When I was nine my mom took me to a movie about the mother of “modern dance”.
Known as much for her flamboyant lifestyle as for her progressive dance, Isadora Duncan was an adventurer, revolutionist, passionate defender of the free and artistic spirit. And she danced all over the world. I looked up at my mother and asked, “Will you be sad if I grow up and dance all over the world?”

When I was 11, I worked at a famous theatre whose stage has held many of the all time greats from Olivier to Dame Judy Dench. I got to sit in the best box office seats during final dress rehearsals, hang back stage with the actors, and play with props and wardrobe. I looked up at my parents and asked, “When I grow up … ?”

Well, folks, I’m all grown up, so cue the music, BLAST the speakers, and look at me now!

Picture of Isadora Duncan 1878 - 1927.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

looking for chris

* 12/29 - Sad addendum. Was officially announced that Christine is "presumed dead"; also confirmed that Charlie Fowler was the climber found. Chris was not tied to him as originally assumed. Friends & colleagues agree that she died the only way she would have wanted -- on the mountain.

Since I forgot to blog last weekend (what can I say … was the holidays!) I was going to write something flip this morning, in accordance with the creeping dementia that’s part of my current mid-life crisis. But as I logged onto my server home page, two little words smacked me in the face and my stomach fell to the floor.

I’d already moved past the main page so I quickly hit the back button and darted my eyes back and forth for what I thought I’d seen.

Headline reads: One Missing Climber's Body Found in China … but where was that name that so sharply bit into my non-caffeinated brain?

I held my breath as I scanned the page, as though that would change what I was about to read … oh no, please no …

But there it was, in black and white. Courtesy of the Associated Press.

“ … Christine Boskoff a top female climber, and Charlie Fowler, a well-known climber, guide and photographer, were reported missing after they failed to return to the United States on Dec. 4.” Rescuers have located one body but not yet released identification. They suspect the other body may be attached to it under the snow.

Chris has led hundreds of clients to safe summits, including the indomitable Everest—not once, but twice. In October, after successfully leading three Mountain Madness clients to the summit of Cho Oyu at 26,906 ft, she met up with Fowler and they set off on vacation to explore unclimbed peaks in China. It was somewhere there, that they both went missing.

I’d like to tell you the story of how Chris and I met just after she’d purchased Seattle’s Mountain Madness; how hard she’s worked to get to the top of her game, and what a really interesting person she is. I want to tell you how Chris overcame great adversity, yet remained determined, genuine, and down to earth. I’d also like to tell you how much I respect her as a person, as a business woman, and as a climber … how much others respect her as a climbing lead, and how her goal of summiting the top 14 peaks then led into climbing previously unclimbed mountains in China. But it seems inappropriate today; rescuers still don’t know if she’s dead or alive.

In these hours of uncertainty, Christine, I hope beyond hope that your years of meticulous training, championship climbing skills, and survival abilities have lead you to safety. My thoughts are with you and your family, and with the rescue team who is still anxiously looking for you. Come home safely. Come home soon.

Christine Boskoff of Mountain Madness

Ps. I don't know Charlie Fowler, but I wish the same for him too.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

wind blown community

Washington had a little wind on Thursday. Not the kind my grandfather typically inflicted upon us following a traditional English roast, but wind that howled at up to 115 mph east of Mount Rainier.

Trees crashed through houses, blocked streets, tackled telephone wires, and brought down cable poles. Over a million homes and businesses were blacked out; and as temperatures dropped to zero and below, most were also left without heat. Traffic lights, gas stations, and major business centers were all dark. And because no power meant no security, few banks, ATMs, or shopping malls were open for business.

Meetings got cancelled. Appointments rescheduled. And the handful of us who showed up for work, stood around second-guessing the next course of action before getting in our cars and forming the parking lot that used to be a freeway. A ten minute drive through back streets took over an hour. The smell of fresh pine leaves permeated the air, even with windows shut. And familiar roads—now covered in branches, tree stumps, loose wires, trash cans, fallen street lights—became maze-like. Stop, turnaround, up the hill. Oops, blocked. Stop, turnaround, cut through this housing estate; oops. You get the picture … and I was glad to get home.

Despite my Eskimo boots and ski jacket, the wind, now much calmer, cut right through me as I stepped across the lawn picking up wind-torn roof tiles. I looked at the damage to the newly built extension on the home down the road. It’s taller than most of the other houses on the water, and the angry wind of the night before had ripped away two thirds of the roof, taking almost half of the neighboring roof with it.

Feeling edgy, not knowing what to do, I headed up the hill to see what was going on. The coffee shop had power, and although I was often the only customer in there, today all armchairs were filled with people sharing stories of caved in ceilings, collapsed sheds, boat docks folded like accordions, kid’s swing sets that ended up three houses away, and hundreds of dollars worth of food spoiling in the freezer.

Some folks were very matter of fact; they’d been through much worse, and probably would again. Others worried how they would keep their kids warm that night, if their insurance would cover the damage their Douglas Fir did to their neighbor's garage, or how their aged parents were coping.

I thought about the chaos of Christmas that engulfed us up until the day before the storm blew in, and how quickly the pressures of crass commercialism had been replaced with pressures of a different kind, especially for those whose homes were damaged. The important things of yesterday—getting Jack’s Laptop, what to buy Uncle H, mailing baby Ali’s gift—suddenly seemed insignificant. In a surreal way, in spite of (or maybe, because of) the tension of the unknown and the additional financial burdens people talked of, I sensed that most were enjoying this camaraderie blown in by the wind. A community of strangers quickly formed in times of need, but, I wonder, how quickly forgotten.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

the road less traveled

There are those who are meant to be lifelong employees. You know them. They think in terms of "Company Benefits".

They like the illusion of belonging to a collective, an ensemble—not necessarily a team, but a group of similar beings cocooned in a common environment, working toward a common company goal.

They talk of established procedures and process improvement. They’re hooked into that Monday through Friday thing. Two, three, four-weeks paid vacation. Sick leave. Holiday pay.

They’re often more codependent than interdependent, feeding on bigger- better-brighter corner offices, and the occasional cluster recognition. And unless very ambitious, they are usually quite content to move ‘according to standard performance expectations’, within the constraints of the path already worn.

There are those who are not meant to be lifelong employees. You know them too.

They think in terms of the three P's: Passion, Potential, Possibilities. They might be drawn to more innovative projects and careers, seeking more responsibility, more creativity, more flexibility, more self-expression. They might be motivated by intrinsic values such as being their own boss or building an empire. They might simply choose to live life on their own terms, to gain broader life and career experiences.

Or they might be stoked, deep from within, by the desire to look life in the face.
To learn and stretch beyond prior successes; to create and serve a mission in life. They are change-makers, feeding on challenging themselves, on growing, on making a difference. Striving to earn the epitaph they want etched on their tombstone, they relinquish the path well-worn and tread their own.

Which road will you travel?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1874~1963)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

happy days

Still at the beach.

Still playing.

Still in retreat.

Savoring every minute and will see you next week!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

birthday road trip

Have you ever stopped to think about what your birthday really means to you...I mean beyond birthday cards, cream frosted cake, and gifts from loved ones?

My best friend for many years succumbed to cancer six years ago. I cried for her. Cried for her babies. And as her birthday loomed (five weeks ahead of mine) I felt an ache in my heart that she’d never see her five kids grow up. And how that day, for them, would never again be a time of joyous celebration, no matter how positive a spin they applied, or how brave a face they learned to wear.

I tell you this, not for empathy, but because it made me look

differently at birthdays and the traditional celebration around them; and five years ago, I began my own tradition.

Every year during my birthday month, I go on a four or five-day road trip. I make no serious plans, other than my first night’s accommodation. And make few rules, except that I go alone. No exceptions. I take no laptop, no Blackberry, no Sidekick. I don’t check voice or email, and my cell phone remains turned off.

I travel lightly. But there are some things I always pack and one of those things is my copy of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, now so dog-eared that it’s held together with tape, and so overly marked with neon yellow highlighter and red exclamation points that there are few pages left as the publisher intended. I may re-read some of it. All of it. Or none of it.

My oversize black leather-bound sketch book also goes with me. Not because I sketch. But so that I can brainstorm and scribble and mind-map whatever pops into my head without being restricted by blue lines breaking up the page, or the size limitations of a normal notebook.

I take good hiking boots and two waterproof jackets. And even if it hails and storms all day long, I walk for a couple of hours every day, preferably on the beach, wind in the hair, feet splashing in the shallow surf. I also pack today’s favorite chi-chi outfit and four-inch-heels so I can take myself out to at least one super fancy dinner.

Without pressure, I like to reflect on the past year: Did I do what I set out to do? Did I enjoy it? Was it worth it? And assuming I’m lucky enough to have a next year, I think about new projects I want to develop. I think about what I want to do more of, less of; where I want to give my time and energy, and with whom I want to spend it. And I think about how I can make a difference, in my own small way.

This year I don’t feel like driving somewhere different each day as I have on past road trips. So I’ve booked a beachfront suite on one of my favorite beaches. There’s a large writing desk facing the ocean, and the French windows open onto white sand that stretches south for several miles. I’m looking forward to being lulled to sleep by crashing surf. And nudged awake by crying seagulls and 5-star room service.

When I get home, always invigorated, always reignited with passion and reverence for this life we live, I begin my New Year—the day after my birth day. This tradition is my birthday gift to myself. I hope you do something nice for yourself on your own special day.

Smile at the Rain artwork by Beth Hendrickson Logan.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

ah hyu shi won ha da: feels so good!

“Bang gap sum mi da” she bows her child-like body toward me, hands neatly folded over her belly. I reciprocate, dipping my head and shoulders and muttering “Bang bap …” … what did she say? “…very nice to meet you too.”

Stepping ahead of me, she raises her hand indicating that I should follow. Stopping in the doorway between the lounge and the studio, she again bows, this time to the empty studio ahead of us. Silently she steps onto the padded floor, watching while I mimic her actions, and invites me to sit cross-legged on the floor in the middle of the room.

Her eyes scan my attire: Black stretch workout Capri’s and black t-shirt with No Limits, Hardly Any Boundaries emblazoned in hot pink across the chest.

Orientation commences: You will be known as Vicki Dowoo-nim; you will call your instructor Kita-nim. I, The Master, Xiana Ji Won Jang Nim. You cannot chew gum; you must wear all white; and no bare feet, perfume, or jewelry in future. We will work on The Meridian center to unblock your life energy. Must not leave class early. Very bad block. Must free blocked energy center.

Sigh. Why, oh why, do I get myself into these things?

She flicks through the discipline book, showing pictures of the Dahn yoga postures, explaining the hang gong and ji-gam mediation philosophy, sharing the Korean phrases we’d use in class. All very different from the Indian Iyengar discipline I’ve practiced for the past 20 years.

Forty-five minutes later, Xiana Ji Won Jang Nim closes the discipline book and invites me to make myself at home while the other Dowoo-nims prepare for class.

Make myself at home? Can’t I just GO home?

The studio door opens and the first of the Dowoo-nims halts and bows before quietly slipping inside. A dozen more trail her, each following the same silent protocol. All wear the exact same white pajama-type uniforms. Not judo or karate PJ’s. These are more elegant, with elaborate detail, satin trim, but with a definite communistic influence. They look stiff, regimental, uncomfortable.

The Dowoo-nims form a circle with Kita-nim at center point. I join them, looking back at the faces all staring at this new Dowoo-nim. The girl to my left bows toward me, starting a domino effect around the room as each Dowoo-nim bows to their neighbors; “Bang gap sum mi da” echoes around the studio. There’s a quick introduction where I learn the other Dowoo-nims names and then Kita-nim starts patting her belly with both palms and counting out loud. ONE, beat, TWO, beat, THREE, beat. The other Dowoo-nims join her, filling in the beat: five, five; six, six; seven, seven. We look like a bunch of apes slapping ourselves and I have an urge to tickle under my arms and scream out like a chimp.

At the sum of ten, Kita-nim ceases counting and hands the lead to the Dowoo-nim next to her who continues counting, not at eleven, but at one.

We keep counting. Keep smacking our bellies. Eight, eight. Nine, nine. Sixty … oh no it’s my turn. And I screw up. Sixty-one. ONE they shout. Sixty-two. TWO they shout again. Three, three … ok I’ve got it … eight, beat, nine beat, seventy ... I hand off to the guy next to me. Seventy-one … ONE! He screws up too. I suddenly like him.

By the time we’ve counted to 150, we’ve actually tapped our dahn-jons 300 times … and my belly is smarting. We have another 300 flat-palmed slaps to go.

“Ah hyu shi won ha da!” cries the master from the corner of the room, "Ah hyu shi won ha da!”
Oh no it doesn't!!

But all things pass—eventually. The tapping stops and we move into stretching.

Quite honestly I’m done by now and would just as soon call it a day. But I don’t want to offend my ultra-polite host whose culture still places great emphasis on good manners, so I turn up the corners of my mouth and try to look sincere as she reaches to correct my posture. The Master presses on my spine with butterfly touches, indicating I should stretch more, arms high above my head, fingers pointing to the ceiling. I close my eyes. Breathe deeply from the heart chakra, low into the dahn-jon, and exhale making the auguh noise that’s supposed to free my blocked energy center. Repeat. Stretch more. Repeat. And the room starts spinning.

I feel Xiana Ji Won Jang Nim’s hands try to steady me, but open my eyes and pull out of the pose. Let’s be real. She’s an extremely delicately-boned 4’9’’ and doesn’t even reach my armpit; in fact, my two arms probably weigh more than her entire body.

We’re told to partner up. I turn to my neighbor, the guy who also screwed up counting. Following The Master’s instruction, we face each other, place our hands on each other’s shoulders, and “…stare deeply, deeply” into our partners eyes. We bend forward from the waist, keeping our backs straight, still staring "deeply, deeply" into each other’s eyes. “Bang gap sum mi da” he says. “Ditto” I reply sucking in my cheeks to stuff down a giggle; my partner laughs back and we collapse on the floor.

We close class by hugging and thanking each Dowoo-nim: “Kam sa ham mi da.” And then The Master walks up to me offering a basket filled with neatly stacked wet face cloths. How nice!

I take one, unfold it and bring it up to my face. “No, no!” she taps my hand and waves her arm at the other Dowoo-nims who have dropped to their knees and are wiping the floor. “Cleansing mediation … you wipe floor, you wipe all negative thoughts from mind. Cleanse mind.” I drop to my knees.

Five minutes later I shrug into my jacket and run over to my favorite coffee shop.

You could say I resisted this new practice; compared it unfavorably to my old familiar Iyengar. But sometimes you have to give new things—like new people—time.

It’s easy to put up walls and defenses around what we do and don’t like; or will and won’t try. It’s easy to keep doing the same old thing simply because it’s comfortable, or because we like it, or because we’re good at it.

I’m now on my third lesson and am keeping an open mind about this strange new discipline. Although still not a fan of the militaristic counting and tapping, I definitely feel more energized following class. So who knows! Maybe all this one-one, two-two dahn-jon belly-slapping really is freeing my “…blocked energy center”. Maybe I will learn to appreciate the cultural regimen behind this 5,000 year-old practice. Maybe one day, I will even reach the discipline’s ultimate goal of Sung Tong Gong Wan Ha Ship Syo—Attaining Enlightenment and Sharing It with Others.

… I did say maybe.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

oi mom - stop ignoring me

I'm in my hotel room after working through 15-days straight and spending a gazillion hours on my laptop. The brain is fried. My hands are clawed. And I'm stuck in the 'hunched-over' the computer look that's reminiscent of our Neanderthal ancestors. That's my way of saying a hot bubble bath and a glass of pinot noir is calling, and I'm too pooped to blog this week; but my sister-in-law sent this and it cracked me up. (Probably much more than it should have done ... but hey, that's what happens when we fry our brains!)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

dear rush limbaugh

Gasp! What’s that you say? Michael J. Fox was “...acting...” in his recent political ads? "Off his meds...” to create dramatic effect? And "...shamelessly.." playing up his symptoms of Parkinson's Disease to stir "...sympathy"?

Well Fox has often said that disease is non-partisan and that he’s simply looking for a bi-partisan cure. So all politics aside, Mr. Limbaugh, it is you who should bow your self-aggrandized head in shame.

Are you capable of discussing any issue without resorting to the kind of playground spitefulness one might expect from insecure 13-year-old girls? You name-call, you marginalize, you spit venom and hatred; and you get downright nasty on a personal, petty level. If there was ever any doubt that you’re nothing more than a bigoted, headline-seeking redneck with his head down a sand hole, (hey you started this, let’s speak language you understand) then your latest outburst against Michael J. Fox and his very real disability should leave no-one questioning.

With the exception of a few gutless wonders sniggering in agreement alongside you, the majority stayed quiet while you dismissed every woman with an opinion as a Femi-Nazi. Even during your public arrest, there was relatively little said about your blatant hypocrisy in loudly demanding that druggies be kicked off our streets, when all the time your thumb was on redial to your own drug dealer and you were busy shoving black-market painkillers down your throat.

Now you’re verbally attacking a man (not his politics but a man) who can’t stand or sit still, or walk in a straight line, because his body is cruelly ravaged by an incurable, degenerative disease.

Had you bothered to garner ten minutes research before opening your foul mouth, you’d know that Fox, like anyone with full-blown Parkinson's Disease, has little to no control over his body. Period.

You’d know that he probably can’t move at all when he’s " his meds". You’d know that when he wakes in the middle of the night—when it’s dark and his meds are low and his body’s almost catatonic from lack of dopamine—that he probably can’t reach out to hold his wife’s hand for a moment’s comfort. You’d know that he probably can’t dress himself, or cut the meat on his dinner plate, or pull up his pants when he’s been to the bathroom.

You’d also know that the slightest amount of stress—whether caused by anxiety, nervousness, frustration, anger, sadness, excitement, or dicks like you—can send his body lurching, swaying, surging, and jerking beyond his control. Parkinson's Disease slows and cramps the respiratory system that permits him to breathe. The muscles and brain synapses that allow him to smile. The chords that allow him to speak.

You are ignorant Mr. Limbaugh. And ignorance breeds ignorance.

Did watching Michael’s body, swaying and lurching, make you feel uncomfortable? Did seeing him unable to control the simplest of motions make you squirm and want to look away? Is that why you redirected the argumentto ease your discomfort and marginalize Michael's brave ongoing struggle by affronting him with your mockery? Or, Mr. Limbaugh, are you simply “ your meds”?

NB. It should be noted that Limbaugh later said he might apologize. Rush Limbaugh parody ad courtesy of Dave Ward.Michael J. Fox Organization
Parkinson's Disease Foundation

Sunday, October 22, 2006

road floozie

Being a book-a-holic, I found these interesting (in fact, they cracked me up).

I received two postcards from Europe which are images of genuine book
covers from the 1940s.

Evidently, both cover girls were fans of the Jane Russell wonderbra.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

is it enough?

A couple of years ago, my friend JJ and her husband tired of city life and moved to a beautiful river-community 200 miles south. Before they moved, JJ and I had met every three or four weeks (in a coffee shop, of course!) where we’d share our goals for the month ahead, and hold each other accountable for our achievements from the previous month.

We’d leave our sessions feeling invigorated, ready to take on the world!

We’d explore the creative process. We’d share breakthroughs. And—since we are both somewhat type-A personalities—we’d remind each other to take good care of ourselves and those we love along the way.

JJ would grill me: What have you done for yourself this month? Have you been working out? Have you been eating healthfully? Have you been having fun?

Well sure, JJ, I've been having fun; probably more than most. I have hours of sheer glee. And some ridiculously goofy days and weekends, filled with endless laughter and wonderful people. But as we zoom toward the close of another year—and another birthday—I’m doing my “annual thing” and questioning if that’s enough.

~ ~
I was raised by war-babies. Wonderful, well-grounded people who, at three- and six-years old, were regularly woken from scattered dreams by the rude screech of air-raid alarms announcing approaching enemy bombers. In the dead of night, my grandparents bundled their frightened babies into coarse, dry blankets, scooped them in strong arms, and rushed them to the bottom of the garden. There, they huddled underground in the cold corrugated-iron of their Anderson bomb shelter. With teeth chattering, from fear as much as cold, they told stories and tried to snatch moments of sleep, all the while listening for the eerie silence that preceded a falling bomb.

These people were pragmatists. They had no side to them. No superficial gloss. No hidden agendas or devious manipulative meanderings. You knew exactly where you stood with them at any given moment of any given day.  They were resilient and no matter what came their way, they knew they'd get through it.

I grew up with that British Stiff-Upper-Lip doctrine; hold your head high, suck it up, get over yourself. Do the right thing. Don’t be self-centered; don’t show-off; don't be rude; don’t use other people. Work hard. Do things to the best of your ability, or don't do them at all. Think of those less fortunate than yourself. Be grateful for what you have. Do what you have to do; don’t whine about it. And by God, girl, if you’re going to do it … do it with passion!  

~ ~
For the most part, I don't whine about things, but as I review the past year—at that birthday time of year—and what I think, might-or-should-or-could-or-would-be, it feels somewhat self-indulgent, maybe be even narcissistic.  This 'self-thinking' is incongruent to the way I was raised ... my parents and certainly my grandparents, would call it self-absorption ... then add, "This is what's wrong with the world today". Maybe they reflected on these things too, but didn't say them out loud. Given their generations, I think that's most likely.

In today’s society when so much emphasis is placed on self-fulfillment, self-growth, self-improvement, self-actualization, self-self-self ... have we become a selfish society?  Is it selfish to expect to live, to learn, to laugh—and most importantly—to love out loud?

Is it self-indulgent to want to rise above historical references, constraining beliefs, self-imposed limitations? Is it enough to be content with what-is? To concede to the perfunctory veneer of what is easy or expected or known? Is it enough to yield to what is gratuitously given? Or what simply comes our way?

Or should we strive for what, or whom, we ache for? For that which makes us burn? For what we perceive life might-or-should-or-could-or-would-be if we took a risk; if we laid ourselves bare, opened ourselves up, and stretched beyond the comfort of our current being?

I know what I think. What do you think?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

reach out

In this busy e-driven world, where it’s difficult—and sometimes logistically impossible—to get even two minutes face-time with the people you work with daily, have you ever wondered how you’re going to meet new people? Cultivate new friendships? Develop relationships beyond the cursory?

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you’d smiled instead of scowled at the dark stranger who nudged against you while you were on a business trip in Manhattan? What might have transpired if you’d chatted to the person spilling elbows and knees over your seat on the plane, instead of pretending to be asleep? Or what could have evolved if you’d simply reached out to someone who looked lost at an event or seminar?

I first met Yasmine about five years ago at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference. I was on the Board of Directors at the time, and after the opening ceremonies I noticed a fellow writer in the audience; long black hair, long black clothes, covered in tattoos. She stood out. And stood alone, notebook in hand, looking around the emptying room.

I’m not sure she was feeling lost, but I walked over to her anyway and made a passing comment about her striking tattoos. I learned that she was a nonfiction writer like me, but she authored metaphysical books. We wished each other well and went on our way to enjoy the conference.

Almost a year later I was dawdling across the parking lot to the UPS store, eyes to the ground, when I sensed someone in front of me and looked up. The tattooed lady!

I was about to brush by her with nothing but a lazy summer smile and something made me stop. “You probably don’t remember me” I said, “but we met at the PNWA conference last year.” She remembered.

She told me she had just finished a mystery novel and was looking for an agent. We exchanged business cards, promising to hook up for coffee one day, and again, went on our way.

Back at my studio, I filed away her card for future reference. Before the week was out, she'd sent me an email, and we met up a couple of days later in one of Seattle’s ubiquitous Starbucks. Her husband, Samwise, dropped her off and politely got lost for an hour while we girls talked shop.

Another couple of days passed and an excited author emailed: “I have an agent. She loved my novel…”

Best of British I said, and meant; the business-side of my brain knowing, but not saying, “…doesn’t mean squat until you have a signed contract.”

Well she did get a signed contract, within the week, for three mystery books; quickly followed by another two-book contract for the same series; plus a new three-book contract on a second mystery series!

On October 3rd she launched her third series—this time an urban fantasy. And on Thursday, a week into the launch of her new series, she officially became a Best Selling Author with Witchling.

Friendships are intangible. Some are easy; some challenging. Some could be considered meant to be. Others may seem odd or mismatched. But I know one thing for sure. Reaching out can bring unexpected joy and good fortune into your life.

I’ve so enjoyed experiencing this journey with my friend, seeing her growth as an author and multi-series novelist. I’ve heard her highs; felt her lows. I’ve listened to her angst and fears. I know how hard she’s worked. And even through the cruelest hardships, when most people would have long ago given up, I know that she’s dreamt of this very moment for most of her forty-some years.

I’ve been as excited as she has, at each new step of her voyage … and I would have missed all that, and so much more, had I not reached out in the parking lot that day to a tattooed stranger.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

name your talk radio guest

I’m gearing up for our 9th live on-air season, starting in just a few days, and will be spending the next week or so on program development. I thought you might be able to help!

I’m looking for really great nonfiction books, films, or people that have changed your way of thinking; even changed your life. Changes don’t have be monumental—but what have you read that’s created a significant Ah-Ha moment, or made you see life differently, or given you a radically different perspective? Which nonfiction books do you recommend to others? Which nonfiction films engaged you in conversation long after you’d left the theater? What stories or topics have been buried in mainstream media? What should more of us understand or be aware of? Or who can enlighten through the power of laughter?

My favorite guests, and the ones our listeners typically connect with the most, are those who’ve got a really compelling story to share. They’re often ordinary people who’ve stretched themselves above and beyond the ordinary; who’ve pushed the envelope and accomplished or survived what everyone said they couldn’t.

Like the partners, in love and business, who shot a documentary about the vanishing art treasures of Iraq. While she flew back to New York to begin editing their film, he stayed in Iraq to shoot more footage. Videos flashed around the world’s news stations showing him handcuffed and hooded with a rifle to his head—and that’s when his partner learned he’d been kidnapped by insurgents who threatened to shoot him if their demands were ignored.

Or the 50-year-old former nurse I profiled in a feature series after she’d walked solo to the magnetic north pole, coming face to face with polar bears. She’s now a respected National Geographic explorer, has lived with wolves, followed the caribou trail, walked the Mongolian Desert, and has been on the show twice. Or Dr. Jane Goodall, a very humble, regular person with extraordinary tenacity, whose work has reached far beyond saving chimpanzees from extinction to touch the lives of young children and their understanding of our world.

I’m not an expert on much of anything. But through my work, my goal is to help inspire, inform, and stimulate, one person at a time. Who do you think would make a great guest?

Links to previous interviews mentioned above.
The Jane Goodall Institute
Micah and Marie Helen Garen - American Hostage and Micha's Iraq
Helen Thayer - Explorer

Saturday, September 30, 2006

the good neighbor

Hadn’t seen him in a while, but I wasn’t concerned. I was busy and I’m sure he was too. I'd typically see him on Saturday mornings, scurrying like a squirrel, back and forth to his car where he’d grab another large brown paper sack of groceries before striding two steps at a time up to his apartment.

I knew him as Gary. No last name. No present. No history. The only thing I knew about him was that he’d had a play produced in New York, off-Broadway.

Likewise, he knew me just as Vicki. He’d watered my plants when I flew to England to help my father through his last days. And when I returned, he expressed his sympathy, not in person, but by voicemail. I sometimes overheard him laugh on the phone, but I never saw visitors and I never heard him open his front door to anybody’s knock—not even mine.

We’d been neighbors for six years, which takes into account the time he'd left and lived in New York—presumably when he’d had his play produced. But he’d returned 12 months later and I was flattered when the building manager told me that he’d asked if I still lived there, and if so, was his old apartment next to mine vacant. I was flattered not because I thought he had a thing for me, but because it meant I was a ‘good neighbor’.

We talked little during those six years, partly because he was painfully shy; partly because I need space and guard my privacy. But I liked and respected this quiet man who minded his own business, and we engaged in polite, albeit superficial, conversation whenever we passed.

A creature of habit, he’d leave every morning at 7 am, warming his green Neo’s engine for exactly five minutes before engaging first gear and taking off down the driveway. He’d come home every night at 4.30 pm, reverse into his parking port, and skip up the stairs where he’d slip invisibly behind his olive green door. At 7 pm, he’d tie some kind of exercise equipment to that same door and work out for precisely 15 minutes every day. Not 17 or 12 minutes, always 15.

With barefaced humiliation, I confess that the only cross word we had in six years came from me. As I said, he was a creature of habit. He’d take the trash down to the dumpster every morning at 6 am, thumping the door behind him, rattling my windows, shaking this sleep-deprived night owl from a measly four or five hours of slumber.

One morning, void of make up, hair stood on end, bare shouldered and bare footed, I waited at the top of the stairs for him, trying to contain myself. I explained how I’d been working on a TV commercial script until 3 am…not his fault. But could he please close the door more quietly in future. He must have wondered what planet I’d dropped from, standing there half naked, and not even aware of it.

He was very apologetic. I was equally apologetic when I saw him five days later and he said in all sincerity that he hoped he hadn’t woken me since we last talked.

“I’m so sorry” I groveled, “I must have seemed like a raving mad woman…” “To the contrary,” he assured me “you were quite charming…”, which says far more about him, than it does me.

So, as I said, I hadn’t seen him in a while. Not since he’d left one morning in a freshly pressed shirt and neatly tailored business suit. I was watering my winter pansies as he rushed downstairs, disappearing like Alice in Wonderland’s white rabbit. “Have an interview…” was all he said. “Good luck. I’m sure you’ll ace it,” was all I said.

I started tracking the days. His car hadn’t moved since at least the Monday before Thanksgiving. No sounds or vibrations from next door. Hadn’t heard his joyful trill (not exactly singing, more like a warble of glee which often drifted through our shared living room wall and never failed to make me smile).

November ended. Another couple of weeks came and went. We were heading towards Christmas. I called the police. “It’s probably nothing ... torn between invading his privacy and being a concerned neighbor and … he’s very, very private … is there anything you can do?” No worries, they said. They’d call around in 20 minutes and do a courtesy check.

I heard them come. Even peered surreptitiously through the Venetian blinds. I stuck my ear flat against our shared living room wall—our sofas, back to back. Then someone knocked at the door—and as I turned to open it, I knew. My quiet, respectful, polite, shy, considerate neighbor had blown his brains out. So considerate, that he’d ended his life on his bed, to contain the mess.

After the initial shock, after the initial upset, I was flushed with waves of anger. I was angry with the hazardous materials clean-up crew. Angry that he’d lain there, right next to me, for almost a month. Angry with him for not reaching out. Angry with myself for being too independent, too protective of my privacy, too self-absorbed to know he was in pain. Angry with the apartment owners who, I'd learned, were evicting him for non-payment of the previous month’s rent. Angry with a system that couldn’t provide a fulltime teaching job for an intelligent man who had worked every single day of his adult life to educate our youth. Angry that the only flowers on his doorstep were the ones I placed there. Angry at the loss of life of a healthy human being. Most of all, I was angry that he felt this dark, irreversible path was the only way out.

As days passed into weeks, I realized that this was his choice. It’s not one I understand. And maybe it’s not mine to understand. But I no longer blamed myself for not being able to prevent his death. For not knowing he was hurting.

I no longer felt angry with him for not speaking up or for making the choice that he did. In his darkest hour—my good neighbor did like all of us do—he reached deep inside himself and did what he knew how to do.

Maybe some of us are meant only to flicker, never to flame.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

oxymoron: freedom of speech

Freedom of speech is fast becoming an oxymoron, as observed once again, when Pope Benedict XVI recanted his recent speech exploring the basic philosophical differences between Islamic and Christian faiths.

The inflammatory words, firing Muslims to call for a “…serious apology,” were apparently first spoken by Emperor Manual II Paleologos of the Byzantine Empire, the Orthodox Christian empire which existed in what is now Istanbul, Turkey.

It may have been wholly (no pun intended) unwise of the leader of the Catholic Church to quote such a narrow perspective on the relationship between violence and faith, so publicly, during these turbulent times. But what’s more disturbing, is that freedom of speech took yet another nosedive in a flurry of papal irresponsibility and knee-jerk reaction.

What happened to live and let live? Let's agree to disagree? You go your way; I'll go mine?

If we don’t like what we’re hearing, reading, or viewing—shut off, put off, or turn off. We are each at choice.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

a blog with no name

I’ve written three articles this week on top of a 55-hour project week, a day full of gardening, an hour of parasailing through the South Sound (… the manifestation of pure glee!!), and a couple of hours of kayaking off Whidbey Island. And somewhere in the middle there, I managed to nurture a good friend from California, broken hearted after his boyfriend dumped him; catch up on two long overdue letters home; dine out with my guests from New York; and even grab a few hours sleep along the way. But, “GDI” (gosh darn it—hokey but “politically correct”) I could not for the life of me, come up with a topic for this week’s blog!

I could blog on how tired I am of hearing the term “PC”—but I’m so bored of hearing diluted, superficial, “politically correct” blandness that I can’t be “FB” (flippin’ bothered). And I’m even more bored by the people who hook their fingers in the air doing that wiggly rabbit-ear thing, as if they are wrapping quotes around the term “PC”. What’s wrong with having an opinion these days?

I could blog on how freeing it felt to parasail across the Puget Sound, shoulder-to-shoulder with seagulls, overlooking the Olympic Mountains and nose to-tip with the still snow-crested Mount Rainier—but I’m afraid I’m getting “SA” (somewhat addicted) to the adventure rush since I almost ditched the gardening day to soar amongst the clouds again.

I could blog on how perfect today was as I meditated while plucking roses in a gentle ocean breeze—but then I’d have to tell you how I moved a planter and disturbed a family of frogs who quickly scattered the lawn, driving me screaming into the street. And then you’d know what a “GBFW” (great big fat wuss) I am.

So in light of last week's blog, when I vowed to reassess priorities and do what’s important to me, I’ll just say how "GD" good life is, and how grateful I am for “TSTIL” (the simple things in life)—even if it’s not always “PC” to say so.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

with gusto!

We take for granted that this minute will lead to the next; that the next minute will lead to the next hour. And the next hour will lead to the end of today, and the beginning of tomorrow.

We take for granted that we’ll have time to travel to Alaska next year. To cruise down the Panama Canal once this contract is delivered. Or that we can postpone a visit to a loved one for a few more months; maybe we’ll go in the fall.

Shrinking behind transparent excuses, we naively fool no-one but ourselves when we say that it’s not fear, but strategy, that keeps us sleepwalking through mundane careers or loveless marriages because of financial or other so-perceived convenient arrangements. That we can follow our passion, or be with the one who truly sets our heart and mind on fire, two, seven, 15, or 30 years from now. After college. After the kids have left home. After the house is paid for. After we’ve retired.

We take for granted that next week is coming. That our legs will still work. Our eyes will still see. Our hearts will still beat. But the terms and conditions of life are intangible, written on a non-refundable promissory note that can be revoked in the time it takes a butterfly to flicker its wing.

She knows firsthand. She was planning to quit work; planning where she would travel, what she would do. And how she would spend her days when they, at last, belonged to her. Now, one of my favorite cousins is nursing a heart attack. It was sudden. Unexpected. Mild. She was lucky—life's conditions were modified, terms were not revoked.

It was a wake up call for everyone who loves her and it made me uneasy to think how easily a wasted day can lead into unconsciously wasted weeks, even years. I thought of one of my favorite poems by John Keats, When I Have Fears, and immediately vowed to regroup priorities and focus on what’s important to me. To borrow a phrase from Dr. Stephen Covey “To Live. To Love. To Learn. To Leave a Legacy.”

I’d expand on that: To plan for the future, to honor the past, to live in the now. To breathe deeply and experience with all senses. To retain child-like curiosity and explore life with zest. To do what brings joy. To love with heartfelt passion. To laugh out loud—and often. To provide a safe, soft place for family and friends. To step out with courage and stand up to life with open arms. To love with passion … but wait, I already said that.

And to avoid further redundancies, and thus more wasted minutes (which might inadvertently lead into weeks) I must go live some more today. I encourage you, my friends, to do the same. With gusto!

When I Have Fears
By John Keats 1818

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;--then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

it's your day

Labor day on Monday and thank goodness … a day off at last. But I got to wondering, after living in the US for the past 21 years, what is Labor Day really all about?

When you mull it over, most other holidays are connected, to some degree, with man’s prowess over man. They originated primarily because of greed and power struggles; because of one nation's glory over another. For example: American Independence Day, or the defeat of my homeland’s loony King George. Yom Kippur, or the Ramadan War. Martin Luther King Day, acknowledged only after his brutal assassination. Christmas Day and Easter Sunday, both celebrated with glee in honor of a persecuted prophet who reputedly died for our sins. Columbus Day, and we won’t even go into who really founded what-when-and-where, or under whose flag. The list goes on.

But according to the American Federation of Labor, Labor Day is different.

Labor Day, originated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City to represent the creation of the labor movement, became an official holiday in 1884. The first Monday in September was selected as a national annual tribute to the “ … contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Labor Day is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.”

Hey … that’s me and you!

With that sorted, I trust you will have a good, long, fun-filled, work-and-guilt-free, weekend!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

eavesdropping at large

The hour I'd set aside for this week's blog quickly vanished when a rush weekend assignment called me out of town. So I'd like to share an excerpt from one of my column's with you.~v

It’s Monday. A whole day where I make no business calls, do no research, no writing, no marketing, no e-mailing, no eavesdropping. Well ... almost no eavesdropping.

Ask any writer and they’ll tell you it’s habitual. That over the years you learn to have a pleasant and fully engaged conversation with a buddy, while simultaneously—and surreptitiously—scanning and sorting the conversations taking place across at least three neighboring tables in your local coffee shop.
Like the auto-tune on a radio, you’re able to hone in to what’s interesting, and might some day make good copy, versus what’s boring and can be skipped over. You learn to zone into the quietest mutterings with a bionic-like ear, sometimes learning far more about the strangers huddled on the sofa by the fire than you care to.

And I should know better. My Victorian-born grandmother, sadly long deceased, admonished me as a child when I blatantly listened to others' conversations, telling me it was impolite and that I should not be so rude. But despite my typically good British manners, I consider coffee shops exempt from this rule. Free-for-all. No holds barred.

Look around any cafe and you’ll see many people seemingly interacting in deep conversation; but then you’ll catch a tell-tale sign that at least one ear is subtly scanning the surroundings like a metal detector ready to beep over a possible gem. It might be a slight shift in body weight, a leaning to one side. A quick slide of the eyes to the animated couple sitting to the left. Or an out-and-out stare. Used to be that we sat and ‘people-watched’ at crowded malls or steamy café windows. Now we sip double-double mocha’s and eavesdrop. And it’s not just writers.

A non-writer friend once shushed me because she couldn’t quite hear what the lady with the pink stockings was saying to the person of undetermined sex in the gray sackcloth. Another friend went to the bathroom just to get a closer look at the “moron” (her term) who kept griping at life’s unfairness, and how he wished he could experience what his wife felt as she breast-fed their new baby.

I concede that some writers take eavesdropping to a heightened level, but we do so with purpose. We’re always looking for new ideas. Fresh points of view. Tantalizing lines. Heady description and interesting tales and opinions—even if they do come from secondhand observation.

During the course of our regular coffee (or sanity) breaks, where we rally over the highs of a new project and bemoan the writer’s angst, my writer friends frequently grab their ever-present notebooks to jot down a word or a line before it slips into oblivion. No matter how much we tell ourselves we’ll remember that killer-phrase, we know we won’t, and in the absence of a notebook, a napkin or palm of the hand will suffice.

Conversations with a screenwriter friend are frequently stalled, while he punches whole dialogs into his slimline laptop. Once, while enjoying my favorite grande-nonfat-caramel machiatto, extra hot, extra sauce, he whispered a melodramatic “cut…” freezing me mid-frame while he captured the glee of three 5th-grade boys snorting latte down their freckled noses as they shared jokes, each one grosser, and apparently, funnier than the last.

Another time he raised a long artistic finger signaling that our chatter pause momentarily while he immortalized the sorry line that the guy with yellow bleached hair just hung on the girl with no lips. Obviously their first date, probably their last!

An author friend readily admits that when she’s feeling stuck, or even just bored, she’ll cruise a couple of coffee shops down by the beach hoping to find some good home-grown conversation to spawn the beginnings of an idea. While a talented colleague attributes his recent award-winning TV commercial entirely to a conversation he overheard between two teenage girls, while downing a triple-shot Espresso.

So, I’m sorry dear grandmother, but no matter how distasteful you’d find this revelation—and I know that you would—I make no apologies for my writer friends and their rude behavior!

Writers aren’t nosy for the sake of being nosy. They’re curious about people and about life. Always searching, always reaching, always exploring. Just as an artist looks for inspiration in the color of falling leaves and the texture of rain-washed cliffs, a writer’s imagination can be sparked by a word or an off-hand remark, and eavesdropping in coffee shops simply goes with the territory.

So how do I amuse myself while my cohorts snatch moments in time from the lives of complete strangers? Why, by eavesdropping, of course.

© 2004 Vicki St. Clair. Excerpt from Bibi's Beat column first published in Authentic Living.

Friday, August 18, 2006

midnight prowlers

It’s funny, but when you move to a new home, you don’t realize at first how different noises might be. The sounds you took for granted in one home can mean something entirely different in another home. Bangs and bumps in the middle of the night at my old apartment, usually meant that one of the residents had come home drunk and was trying to find the keys he’d dropped in the parking lot.

I’d often be blasted at 3am by a car stereo with “¡Oh tierra del sol, suspiro por verte! ahora que lejos yo vivo sin luz, sin amor …” (That's a whole other blog!) And sometimes I’d be woken by folks from a neighboring building fighting over who flirted with whom; or revving up their Colgate white low-riders and chasing each other around the block.

These were noises I was familiar with. Didn’t enjoy them. I’d curse the villian who woke me (again, thank you very much), pull the pillow over my ears and try to block the sound quickly before I became too agitated to sleep.

But now I have a new set of noises to get used to. Like the nightly creaking floorboards of an old house settling back into itself. The tinkling of my indoor wind chimes at odd hours, for no apparent reason. The clanking of passing trains. The sudden screeching of bald eagles. And stealthy footsteps outside my window, just 30-minutes past the witching hour …

There I was, last weekend, a vision of absolute loveliness, curled up in my favorite Gloria V’ PJ’s, watching The Shining. I have an overactive imagination at the best of times and have no business watching spooky films in the wee hours of any morning, let alone when I’m by myself. And in a new (old) house.

So after I’d jerked a glass of iced Perrier water over my legs—the result of a mild heart attack—I grabbed the TV remote, turned down the sound and held my breath. Nothing. See. Idiot. Shouldn’t watch films like this!

Blotting my wet legs with tissues, I settled back on the sofa and turned up the sound just as Jack Nicholson stuck his ugly face in a doorway and grinned that menacing grin and … damn it … the hair on my arms shot on end. More footsteps!

I jumped to my feet and grabbed the phone. Ran into the kitchen. Back into the lounge. Turned a circle … more footsteps … another circle. Heart pounding, back into the kitchen. Where’s the flashlight?

Holding my breath, I tiptoed to the side of the curtain and pulled it back about an inch so I could see out, without being seen. Nothing. Nothing. Just empty black stillness.

I snatched a breath and forced it out in a heavy sigh. Stupid, stupid woman.

I was about to step away from the window when a shadow leaned across the driveway. I dropped the curtain; heard more footsteps among the rose bushes. Two, three, four more. Coming closer?

Something knocked against the window; and again. Thumb paused over the number nine, ready to dial for help. Not breathing. Heart racing. I nudged the side of the curtain just a smidgeon. Three more footsteps. Oh!

My jaw dropped and a quick gasp of breath stuck in my throat.

Wow ... mommy deer stepped onto the driveway and into the moonlight. And her two beautiful kids followed. These were noises I could learn to enjoy.

Friday, August 11, 2006

pop, where are you?

Over the last couple of years I’ve been with two dear people as they passed from life to … wherever …

'Now-age' people (as new-age folks now like to be called) say the body’s just a vessel. We are more than flesh and bones. We are spirit; we are essence; we are one with the universe. We don’t die. We live into infinity. Christians tell you the body dies, but the spirit lives on and passes to a greater heavenly arena where they promise salvation. Buddhists believe we’re reborn to learn our past mistakes. Jews say we’ll have a place in the world to come. And Islam preaches the attainment of eternal bliss in the hereafter.

I never understood any of this until the day my aunt died. And I still don’t. But just minutes after my aunt passed, I was mystified. Standing by her side, I cradled her tiny, dry, withered hand in one of mine, sheltering it with the other. No matter how hard I looked, or how closely I leaned in to her still face, I could no longer see her. “Where have you gone, Catherine? Where are you?

Eight months later I sat with one of the most handsome, classy, vibrant men I’ve known, as he bravely slipped away. I draped across his footballer shoulders and tightly wrapped my arms around him, swallowing tears I knew he wouldn't welcome. But it wasn’t him I hugged. He’d already left.

At that very moment, I was gutted—yet bewildered. “Pop. Where are you? Where have you gone?” I pressed my cheek against his, then kissed his forehead, now pallid and relaxed of life’s stresses. Only minutes before, he’d mustered the last of his strength to give one final instruction, “You have to let me go. Let. Me. Go.” And go he did

I went back to the hospice the following morning where staff had laid my father in clean PJ’s, tucked tightly between crisp white sheets. He died just before his 69th birthday. Nurses had slipped the card I’d given to him between his hands; hands that were strong and athletic, artistic and gentle; hands that had held mine as a child, keeping me safe and secure; hands now void of life that lay neatly folded across his chest. I wrapped my hands over his and squeezed them as I leaned into his cheek to kiss him goodbye. But he wasn’t there.

I don’t know where Dad went when he left that body. I don’t have a faith. I don’t believe in an omniscient being. I don’t believe in rebirth. Or a life hereafter promising eternal bliss. I have no answers and I don’t believe I ever will. I just know that it’s the anniversary of Pop’s death next week, and as I miss him every day, my heart still whispers, “Pop, where are you?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

age is just a number

Had a long overdue lunch today with a friend and I have just this to say:

To my friend who's worrying about losing her Mediterranean looks as she turns 40--and in the process, creating even deeper frown lines--and to anyone else who despairs about their passing youth, today is the youngest you will ever be. Embrace it!

I promise that in 10 years you'll look back at photos from today and tell yourself how damn good you looked 'back then'!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

mother nature's warning

In England last week, the newest addition to our family, two-week old Alaska Rose, spent a scary night in hospital. Despite her mom’s best efforts to keep her precious new baby cool, Alaska Rose’s tiny body simply overheated. Had her parents dithered and not rushed her to hospital, doctors say she might well have gone into seizure and worse.

Also in England last week, during 40-degree centigrade (100F) temperatures, the BBC said "Get used to it!" They reported that Britain’s typically moderate summer temperatures will regularly reach over 100F within the next ten years.

Back here in the USA, more than 50 people lost their lives as a direct result of last week's heat wave. With temperatures soaring as high as 52C (that’s 125.6F!) in parts of California, the Fresno County Coroner, Loralee Cervantes, said so many bodies had arrived she couldn’t give an accurate figure for heat-related deaths. "We cannot keep up … we have capacity for 50 [bodies] and … no room for anyone else."
What's going on?
Tom Brokaw. Matt Damon. Al Gore. All three recently presented separate documentary films on global warming. All three films were slammed by right-wing critics as unbalanced, liberal, self-serving hogwash. Liberals struck back with accusations of right-wing conspiracy and denial theories.

One thing we can’t deny—because this is fact—is that the United States of America stands head and shoulders above every other nation when it comes to producing harmful greenhouse gases.

We consume. We toss. We throw. We are the world's biggest polluters. We waste more than any other nation on earth. And because of that, we take more from our planet than any other nation on earth.

So how do we justify being the only western industrialized country—along with Australia—who refuses to ratify the Kyoto Treaty?

Ratified by 141 nations, the 1997 agreement drawn in Kyoto, Japan, limits emissions from 35 industrialized countries and is estimated to reduce greenhouse gases by more than one billion tons by 2012. Although the Clinton regime was instrumental in drafting the Kyoto Protocol, President George W. Bush withdrew US support as soon as he took office. In fact, in March 2001, Bush was quoted as saying that the United States would never participate in the treaty since it would impact our bottom line; our economy.

Right. Left. Middle of the road. Who cares!

I care that little Alaska Rose has a healthy future and a healthy planet. And I trust you care that your children and grandchildren do too.

For more information on the Kyoto Treaty and to learn what you can do, see United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

shades of inspiration

A girl can only take so much and after a week fraught with major technical challenges, hours spent in plugged traffic, sweaty 90-degree heat, and the royal rip-off cowboy moving company, I decided enough is enough.

At the end of a teeth-clenching day, I looked up from the computer and smiled in silent awe as tingles of tension released in ripples down my spine.

When all else fails to inspire, Mother Nature never does.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

kevin trudeau's natural cures

Call me contrary but I'm reposting this blog because someone left a rather nasty message demanding I "... pull it down now!"

Here you go babe: Bibi's Beat: kevin trudeau's natural cures.

give me a break big brother

I’ve been camping in my empty apartment again this week. All the furniture’s been shipped down to the house and I’m crashing on Eddie Bauer’s Luxury Insta-Bed, which any way you cut it, is still a blow-up bed. So I’ve cracked a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which I’m drinking from a paper cup, and am sitting in my tweety bird jammies giving my new laptop a test run. Boy do I know how to live!

Makes sense to leverage the apartment since most of this month’s business is in Seattle. But now it's empty and there’s nothing to do other than write, read, practice yoga, yak on the phone, eat Ben & Jerry’s, or watch the small portable TV I used to keep in my studio for late night work stints. Tonight I’m bored. And I'm out of Ben & Jerry's. So—I’m really embarrassed to say this—I have one eye glued to a show that I’ve always refused to watch, and will never view again: Big Brother. The All-Stars. (…huh?)

What is with those people! Capital-A-Awful doesn’t begin to cover it. In the 30 minutes I’ve been cringing and cursing, the only person to hint at a modicum of integrity is the strikingly handsome, bearded Kaysar. And the only mildy interesting segment was when what's-his-name (the dumb one...okay that's not nice, the laid back one) left his towel on the bath tub and climbed out of the shower butt naked. The 'interesting bit', of course, was blurred out.

Please tell me what drives people to showboat their sneaky, spiteful, pitiful, conniving selves anywhere, let alone on national TV? They call it strategy. I call it ugly. They call it game. I call it pathetic. Do they really believe they’re destined to become the next great star? In the words of 20-20’s John Stossel—give me a break!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

wanted: hunky stepford guy

7:25 am and Cole sends a priority text message. Check voicemail! So I duck out of my meeting to listen to his ever-so urgent message: “… sent seven emails. Where’ve you been? … don’t you know you’re supposed to blog at least once a week? S’posed to be a journal of what’s going on, what’s caught your eye, what’s on … [blah, blah, blah].”

Well, yes Cole, I’ve been told. But when you’re busy LIVING life, it’s sometimes challenging to make the time to actually sit down and catch up. When you’re temporarily living between two homes, and working from an Internet café because for the first time in 12 years you have no home Internet connection and your new studio looks as though an Israeli misfire landed—and then you have to waste precious minutes scavenging through hurriedly packed boxes looking for clean knickers and at least one of your three hairdryers and a steam iron (to hell with the board, I’ll do it on the floor) just to avoid looking like a startled alley cat—you feel caught somewhere between the simple life and Gehenna.

So I roll my eyes. Hit delete. And as I slide back around the conference table, decide that like many busy career women, what I need is not a husband (although they can be quite wonderful), but a Tom Selleck branded version of the Stepford wife. Now wouldn’t that be lovely.

Friday, July 07, 2006

just be

Whenever I lie tossing and turning at night, chasing ever-distancing sleep, I always think of the old Crystal Gale song, "... it's three o'clock in the morning, and it looks like it's gonna be another lonely night ..." Then I throw back the duvet and tiptoe into a darkened kitchen to make a cup of tea. (As do all good Brits—but that's a whole other blog!)

There's something special about three am; not quite night, not yet morning. And regardless of whether you have a have a silently sleeping partner, the stillness is palpable. It's a time when you can actually be still. And just be.

There's no one to call, no ringing phones, no beeping pagers, no screaming kids, no pressing or urgent in-your-face issues. And as the dawn chorus begins, and the lark heralds the untold promise of a new day, I snuggle into my robe and am glad to be alive in this world, experiencing this very moment.

Next time you find yourself fighting wakefulness, give in. Get up. Enjoy. And just be.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

not the big m!

No, no, no, no, no ... and my humble apologies to the dozen or more folks who emailed excited greetings and scripts thinking the Michael M I referred to in the previous post was 'THE' Michael Moore.

Sorry to disappoint guys; I don't even know the big M. (The one I know is really dishy, but don't tell him I said that, LOL.)

adoption blues

Back in April I edited a script for Michael M., a good friend and filmmaker who was directing a documentary on adoption. I reviewed the first cut of his film two weeks ago and the images still haunt me.

To the hundreds of American couples flying overseas eager to adopt Chinese, Russian, and Vietnamese babies, I say bless your hearts.

To the thousands of older American kids who’ve never snuggled against a mother’s soft breast, or felt safe in a father’s strong arms, or climbed into bed between mom and dad ... I say bless yours more.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

woo-woo whispers

Friends would tell you I’m definitely a healthy skeptic when it comes to all things woo-woo. I’ll consider possibilities and alternative explanations, but I also want facts; and I like to know the bottom line. Give it to me dry. So given my recent anxiety over the impending move, it’s not without a twinkle in my eye, that I say it “appears” my apartment’s had enough of me and is telling me to get the hell out!

Since making the decision to move, I’ve experienced a string of events that, by themselves, seem innocuous. But added together, many would call “signs from the universe”.

It started when a suitcase, which had comfortably hung on a hook at the back of my closet for several months, suddenly dropped from its anchor to the floor. Then the curtain rod fell down and refused to go back up, leaving my bedroom bare to the world. I lifted one book from a shelf and all 36 came with it. I reached for one envelope from my stationery unit, and dozens of labels, cards, and CD packs followed.

I fell up the steps on Wednesday. Down them on Friday. And on Sunday, my front door key snapped in the lock leaving me wondering who I could call for help at 1:30 a.m.

While I could have ignored the whispers, the final event roared loudly when the swipe card to my apartment’s community security gate suddenly stopped working. It happens. So I went down to the office for a new pass code, and surprise! It doesn’t open the entry gate at all … but the exit gate flies wide open. Hasta luego Bibi!

Monday, June 26, 2006

to believe or (maybe) not

I went to a business lunch last week where the panel discussed blogs and how they are—or already have—spawned a whole new kind of "consumer journalism". Because the panel included a TV news director and a Seattle newspaper editor, they spent most of our lunch discussing the importance of ensuring that blog readers could discern between “real journalism” written by traditional journalists, based on valid research and sourcesand “consumer journalism”, written more from hearsay or as personal opinion. And in other cases, written from a radically biased and agenda-driven viewpoint (like Fox TV News).

I believe the average person is discerning enough to distinguish the difference. And we all know that even highly respected traditional journalists have made huge judgment and reporting errors. But it got me thinking: If most magazines and newspapers are currently produced by professional writers and editors for 6th-grade level reading, what’s going to happen when (and if) traditional publications disappear altogether and they're replaced entirely by 6th-grade level writing and research skills, edited only by Microsoft’s Spell and Grammar Check?

Instead of curling up on the sofa with a French-press full of coffee and the New York Times on a rainy Sunday morning, sharing sections and exchanging stories with a "Wow, can you believe this?", I guess me and mine will be hunched over our individual laptops, flinging each other Instant Messages, asking “Wow … CAN you believe this?” Or maybe, “… can you even understand this?”

Thursday, June 15, 2006

moving angst

In between juggling 70-hour work weeks and trying to maintain some semblance of an interesting personal life—if one can stretch the descriptor that far—I now have to start packing for my upcoming move. It’s getting down to crunch time and all I’ve done thus far is clean out my closet. I know the closet might seem a strange place to start packing, but given the recent upsurge (or should I say down-surge) of gravity, I figured clothes were a mandatory requirement while everything else is negotiable, redundant, or replaceable.

During today's mid-afternoon sugar slump, I found myself seriously questioning the sanity behind my decision to move 50 miles away from the spot I've called home since leaving California. The place where I've made good friends, where I have a support system, and where most of my day-to-day business is conducted.

My nerves screeched at the thought of rush-hour commutes through Seattle and I suddenly developed new-found appreciation for all the little things I take for granted, like the four-minute drive to one of my major assignments. The movie theater I can walk to (but always drive to). The guys at Starbucks coffee kiosk who cheerfully greet me by name every morning. The ten bookstores, all within a five mile radius of my apartment, and the clerks who share new book finds with me. The lakes where I kayak; the trails I cycle. Friends who pop in unexpectedly when they’ve been shopping nearby. Phong, the dry cleaner who presses the tightest crease in just the right spot. And the lovely lady Lee who’s painted my toe nails an array of pretty colors for the past eight years!

But sometimes you just need to shake things up. Move things out. Move things in. Move energy up, down, and around. And it’s time.

Soon I’ll have a lovely studio to work from with a panoramic view of the Puget Sound. I’ll have the mental and creative space I’ve been yearning for, and a quiet location in which to write. I'll have a garden to potter in. I'll find new coves to kayak; virgin trails to explore. I’ll try new restaurants, new hotspots, and I'll meet new friends, and have old friends over to visit. I’ll have a beach just 50 yards from my house, where I can walk my new puppy each morning while I wake up with a mug of Seattle's Best Breakfast Blend. And at sunset, when I scribble in my journal and check off another day, maybe I’ll savor a golden Mai Tai or two as I dig my toes into the sand and contemplate how lucky I am.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~ Andre Gide.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

soul food

I just got back from LA where I had entirely too much fun, and I've been tired and ratty all day—as were most of the people I dealt with. (Hmm, could that have been a reflection of my attitude, I wonder?)

It’s Monday. Blah-day. It’s been raining for eight grey hours and no one wants to be working. But I try to make a conscious effort not to wish my days away, even the dull ones, and so I did what any sensible English woman my age would do. I called it a day. Came home, plugged in the woofer, revved up the bass so the floor vibrated, and leapt around my apartment to Eminem until I couldn't breathe. “White America…I could be one of your kids. White America.”

Tomorrow it could be Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Etheridge’s My Lover, REM's When a Man Loves a Woman, or Ali Farka Toure’s Ai Du.

The equation is simple: Music feeds the soul. The soul feeds the spirit. And before you know it, Hey Baby I’m Back!

Monday, June 12, 2006

more on natural cures revealed

Just to be fair, I checked out Kevin Trudeau’s second book (see natural cures post June 6th) which contains an inordinate amount of his favorite words throughout: I and me, and me and I. Overlooking his palpable absence of humility, the second book lacked equally as much as the first, seeming more of an attempt to excuse Trudeau’s behavior and explain why “everyone”, including the government, is out to get him.

Rhetoric aside, I was genuinely amused—to the point that I laughed out loud—when his book jacket read something like this …Trudeau now claims that he’s been a “secret covert operative” for the past 20 years. Huh, guess the prison uniform was simply part of his cover.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

npr and pbs vs. handicapped kids

It seems as though Washington once again has its priorities screwed up and is seeking a $115 million reduction in funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Adios NPR, PBS, and more if it passes.

According to the Boston Globe, Representative Ralph Regula, Ohio Republican and chairman of the appropriations panel that approved the cut said: "We've got to keep our priorities straight ... You're going to choose between giving a little more money to handicapped children versus providing appropriations for public broadcasting."

That's an EITHER / OR? And the connection is ... ???

(Contact your elected official at:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

kevin trudeau's natural cures

I hate to give his name Web space, but I really want to know why Kevin Trudeau’s book Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About is still on the shelves of superstores like Barnes & Noble? And even more perplexing, if not disturbing, why he now has a second book called More Natural Cures Revealed, sitting right next to his first book on the shelves of those same superstores?

Natural Cures has become a bestseller, not because Trudeau tells the truth—as he claims—but because of saturation marketing and snake-oil sales strategies. Yes, I've sat and watched his infomercials in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep. And I've seen him bat his pretty blues at the camera, raising his eyebrows in a triangle of furrowed frustration at those 'evil' pharmaceutical companies and mysterious government agencies he claims don't want us to get well at any cost.

But at what cost are his books still on store shelves? And more importantly, at whose cost?

I've reviewed Trudeau's natural remedies and found no valid reference to documented clinical studies proving any of his cure claims for cancer, diabetes, or Parkinson's disease; in fact, I found much of nothing, and nothing much. My mother has Parkinson's, so trust me when I say that if I thought there was one ounce of hope in Trudeau's claims, I would be force-feeding her large daily doses of Natural Cures They Don't Want You to Know About.

Unless folks have been hiding under a rock, they must have heard that Trudeau served prison time for his part in a credit card scam; and that he was forced to pay thousands to consumers in redress for false product claims. And that the FTC* fined him two million dollars for making fraudulent cancer cure claims.

Take a look at this,
just one of many documents* available to the public. And then please tell me why Trudeau’s face still stares smugly from the shelves of these superstores, spreading false hope to the indiscriminate, the naïve, and the needy who believe their future lies in 'Trudeau's truth'.

(*Here's the URL to the Federal Trade Commission document in case the link fails to work