Object Lessons: Rantings of a Lone Pamphleteer
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Iíve fallen in love with a town.

Up to now, the longest Iíve lived in one place has been Winston Salem, where I lived for 9 years. Dragged around the world until I turned 16, I lived in Winston-Salem until I was nearly 25. I chose to go to Maryland, but that was for grad school. I could have as easily ended up in Houston, or Baton Rouge. But Houston was too hot, and Baton Rouge too humid. This June marked my tenth year in Maryland. Iíd come to think of it as home.

But lately Iíve been enjoying La Jolla too much. Iíve been here three weeks, and enjoy it more daily. Itís a lovely town, mostly because of the Aruba-like weather. Despite the June Gloom lasting well into July, itís been between 50 and 80. It rains so rarely in the cove near the coast, that one night last week we were shocked to remember what rain sounded like.

It occurred to me the other day that not once in my life have I picked a destination for a home. I stayed in Maryland because I was comfortable there, and I met Jon, and he has lived there almost his entire life. So I never had a reason to look for another place to live.

If I were going to move, La Jollaís at the top of the list. Seriously. La Jolla has a lot to recommend it: Lots of job opportunities for both of us; Pati is in nearby LA; plenty of art and culture, perfect weather year-round. Itís really the weather that lulls you. What fascinates me are the wide-ranging activities afforded by the weather: Snorkeling, Kayaking, swimming and Scuba are a mile away at La Jolla shores, (not to mention activities I never plan to try, such as Surfing, water skiing, and hang gliding). Just a few hours away are some great Ski spots, and letís face it, if youíre gonna ski you want to be on this side of the country. Itís also very bike-friendly. Iíve been getting some exercise walking to the store and back, but today I think Iíll try the bike.

Itís not just the weather Ė Californians, moreso than populations in other states, are very health-conscious. Of course, itís easier to eat your fruit and veggies when they are locally grown. The freshness, variety and cost are better than in Maryland. Iíve been enjoying twice the avocados at half the price!

More opportunities exist for exercise indoors, too. Sarah and I found a great Ö gym? I guess ďnew age gymĒ is the best term. Eight Elements West teaches yoga, pilates, strength training, and offer various massages at relatively reasonable prices. Sarah enjoyed an hour-long massage, and Iím trying a free Yoga class on Thursday.

Itís clear that Iím falling in love with a place, and not for the first time. But when youíre used to moving regularly, wanderlust can, it seems, become a problem. Especially if your husband has no plans to move. When youíre living (even temporarily) in a luxury home near the cove, well, itís no wonder I donít want to return to my little shambles in Maryland.

So Iím now in the awkward position of looking for things to hate about La Jolla, just to spare myself the pain of leaving.

Itís a bitÖ overplanned, for one thing. No huge golden arches here, all the signs are low to the ground and uniformly designed. Oh, wait, I like that.

But the village is uniform, too. Long rows of low houses with Spanish-tile roofs. No, wait, I like that too.

Still, the East Coast has more layers to it, more history. Buildings that date back centuries, not decades. The biggest museum complex in the world is five miles from my home. Of course, Balboa Park and Old Town provide some depth of history, as do the native populations. Not to mention the lure of nearby Mexico. Wait. I keep forgetting....

Well, the people are nicer back home. Itís more insular here. And no one obeys the posted speed limit.

Truth is, itís a nice place to visit, but I canít afford to live here. Even a vacant lot here is almost $1,000,000. So I guess Iíd better look forward to going home in a couple of weeks.

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Fire Karl Rove

Air America Radio is circulating a petition to Fire Karl Rove, the man (allegedly?) behind the leak of a CIA agent's identity.

My one concern: What will the Scarecrow do without his brain?

Sign the petition here.

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Sailing, Sailing

Went sailing with our friend B. on Saturday. We were joined by another colleague, MM, and the four of us set off on a three-hour tour. A three-hour tour.

Once we'd made that joke a few times, we headed for the harbor. B., who is an accomplished sailor, passed the test that Harbor rental agent gave him, and
Based on past experience, I confidently took half a Dramamine to prep myself, and we set off.

It was loads of fun for the first hour. B. knows a lot about sailing, and was willing to teach. Jon had sailed with B. before, on the Chesapeake, and I was the least experienced person there. I learnmed a lot, starting with the parts -- mast, mainsail, jib -- and moved onto basic steering. Bill even encouraged me to take the tiller. Though B. had sworn this was the hardest type of boat to turn over (on account of it's deep keel), my inexperienced tilling challenged his assurance on more than one occassion. Once, B. had MM move to the same side of the boat, to help counteract the nearly forty-five degree angle of the boat. I only splashed the deck,. though, and did better once we were out in the harbor.

Right up until I splashed the sides of the boat with the contents of my stomach.

Now, I've spent my life nauseous. The stink of gasoline in Mexico is always ensured to make me gag. On cross-country flights, I can always tell when we're crossing the Rockies, and not by looking out the window; I keep those closed.

Over the years, I've barely learned to deal with the horrible embarrasment. It seems like a lack of control, as if mere self-discipline would keep me from it. I have picked up a few tricks; a cold cloth on the neck, tomato juice, focusing on the horizon line. A quarter of a Dramamine every couple of hours is usually the most reliable.

Now, I don't like throwing up in front of people. It's not fun. Nothing is more offensive than emptying your bile in public.

I remember the time I first met my inlaws. Jon and I flew to Phoenix to meet them. Silly me, I thought they lived nearby. The flight had made me ill, and I was relieved to get into the car, until Jon clarified that it was a two-hour drive to Tucson, where they actually lived.

A two-hour drive. Or so. Through the mountains.

By the time we reached the community, I was ready to go. Get out of the car. It took all my concentration to keep it down. (I've had lots of practice.) But the LTD in front of us wouldn't move more than 5 miles an hour. It's 90-year-old driver was driving home unperturbed by the woman in the back seat of a big van that had just crossed the Catalinas. And I blew. Right outside the car in the middle of the street. In front of my inlaws. On our first meeting.

They were very kind about it. And they welcomed me with open arms twenty minutes later when we announced our engagement.

Bless their hearts.

Every experience has a gift for you -- especially the bad ones. I felt fewer qualms about admiting my dilemma aboardship than I would have four years ago. I can see the appeal of sailing, but not for me. I just can't.

My other favorite blowing story is from our first trip to San Diego, on a whale-watching tour.

Some other time...

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Continental Divide, Rental Car Galactica, and Baby Grand

Our little home will have to undergo its renovation by itself while Jon and I enjoy Southern California. As Jon has mentioned, we have rented a home (along with his colleague and buddy B.) right near the beach in La Jolla. It's a nice rancher, large for just three people. I've particularly enjoyed the kitchen, which, if placed next to mine, would laugh until its professional range-hood fell onto its glass burners.

I've been planning to use my five weeks as my own private Artist's Retreat. Of course, that's between overseeing plumbing repairs (I can't escape the contractors) and doing the household stuff, which I'm happy to do for Jon since he's gotten us such a nice situation.

Teddy's enjoying the yard, but can't seem to decide if he prefers inside to out. The weather is indistinguishable, excepting the sunlight. Jon documented his trip across country with Teddy, here.

Cheetah surpassed all preparatory worrying by hardly causing any trouble at all on the trans-continental flight, at least directly. I had a brief scare at Security, where they commanded me to take Cheetah OUT of her carrier and walk through the detector with her in my arms, something they could have mentioned before I left home. I hadn't even sedated her yet; I also hadn't thought to bring a collar, harness, or leash, so I'd be holding her bare. I knew she'd either cling to me full-claw, or scratch me to pieces to seek the deepest, darkest corner she could find. Ferals.

She chose to cling through the detector (no beeps, thank heavens), shivering, but started to dart when I approached the luggage conveyor. I'm still silently thanking the anonymous passenger behind me who yanked her carrier out of the mire and held it open.

More fun was had onboard, struggling down the mini-aisle with a huge cat carrier in one hand and my life in my laptop bag weighing down the other. On reaching row 18, I realized my path to seat F, window seat, was blocked by the woman already seated in her aisle seat, 18D. She smiled (smugly, to my mind), when I mentioned I was in the window, which is universal airplane code for Get the F out of my way, can't you see I'm blocking traffic and my cat could puke any second from the sedation I was too chicken to pretest, plus I'm holding up the line full of people already ticked at me for taking so long in Security.

"Well," 18D smirked (positively), "you'll have to put all those bags up first."

"Um, actually, I'm only putting this one up." I slid my laptop neatly overhead. "My cat has to travel under my seat."

The woman in 17D leapt out of her chair as if she'd sat on a pin. "You have a CAT?"

"Yes, she's sedated. And the airline regs are she has to be under the seat in front of me. So, if you'll excuse me...." This to 18D, as the shocked woman in 17D had already darted up the aisle, a live salmon against the tide.

"Are you sure they can't take her and put her up front?" 18D persisted, butt still warming her seat.

"Nope, the regulations are she has to stay with me. Excuse me."

She finally vacated long enough for me to wedge myself and the carrier into the seat. Now, Samsonite claimed the carrier was "Pre-approved for in-flight use," which I took to mean it was not only airline-approved, but would fit under the seat.


It only fit long-ways. Most of my foot space below my knees, which I'd expected to have, was covered, and of course I couldn't put my feet on the soft carrier. I'd have crushed Cheetah's (now-stoned and uncaring) head. So I ended up sprawling into my neighbors area a bit, which I regretted almost as much as the tomato juice I spilled on her jacket during a turbulence dip. 18E was a nice lady, though, and the club soda worked wonders. She even recommended her favorite sites in San Diego.

The second I got settled, I got a lecture from the head Stewardess on how it was imperative that I keep her in her carrier for the duration of the flight. "Yes, I'm aware of the regulations," I assured her

"Well, some people think it's okay once we're in the air. But we've already had to move several people (I only saw one) because they have deadly allergies." (I doubt the allergies are deadly.) "So I just want to make sure you understand."

Despite having already said I did, I reassured her by telling her my husband has allergies, that I know how people with cat allergies suffer, and that I fully understood the rules, that her colleagues at the counter had done their job in informing me of the rules, and that I wouldn't take her out even once, not that she'd come out anyway, you understand, because she's sedated and scared, she'd end up stuck to the ceiling like a cartoon cat, and would you like to see my paperwork or Cheetah's ticket?

Sometimes overkill works pretty well. So does reminding them you've jumped through all their hoops, and they've no probable cause to knock you off the plane on suspicion of harboring a stoned terrorist cat. Head Stewardess left, semi-satisfied, and the flight proceeded well. Except for the spilled tomato juice. I'm still really sorry about that.

Jon picked me up, and we spent a lovely first-night in the rental home before crossing the desert on Friday, heading to Tucson for the Fourth with the in-laws, Teddy in the back seat of the newly-christened Rental Car Galactica. We spent a couple of nice days with the 'rents, and the dogs got along well, though once Teddy did interfere with Rudy's fetch game, which quickly and surprisingly ended in a dog fight. It wasn't funny at the time, but neither broke skin, so I can laugh now when I remember Jon picking Teddy up, and dragging that wiry Jack Russell along too, hanging from Ted. We'd all been worried that they would fight constantly, and remain surprised that they only tousled once. This is mostly due to a recommendation Jon's mother read about: When introducing a dog to a home that already has a dog, it's best to have them meet in neutral territory, walk together for a while, and see how they respond. Good advice.

Driving back on the Fourth, we stopped at a place with a Shake we'd not considered before. Even that slight delay didn't prevent us from getting back to La Jolla in time for fireworks at Scripps Pier.

Since then, I've been unpacking, organizing, and eyeing the Baby Grand Piano in the living room. It's a nice instrument, pretty well in tune. I thought about it, practiced my scales, and sought out a piano teacher who's willing to take me on for the next month, once a week, at an exorbitant hourly rate. Pianos have haunted me for decades -- I took classes from age 4 to 9 or so, but fell out of it with so much international moving. I tried again at 19, and lasted a few months before it got in the way of my university studies. So, here I am again, revisiting a place I've been, looking for the music in me.

Though perhaps I'm only procrastinating the "writing" portion of this retreat.

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