September 28, 2009

Sunscreen Song

Listening to the CDs that were in storage I am finding some hidden treasures. One in particular I haven't heard since my friends Sharon and Dee-Dee shared it with me way back during our post-college summer in Ithaca.

Lyrics to Baz Luhrmann's Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) Mix from the film soundtrack to Romeo and Juliet.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be
it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by
scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable
than my own meandering
experience…I will dispense this advice now. Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not
understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and
recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before
you and how fabulous you really looked….You’re not as fat as you
imagine. Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as
effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm
on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing everyday that scares you
Sing Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.

Floss Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes
you’re behind…the race is long, and in the end, it’s only with
yourself. Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults; if you
succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements. Stretch Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
life…the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they
wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year
olds I know still don’t. Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children,maybe
you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky
chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary…what ever you do, don’t
congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either – your
choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s. Enjoy your body,
use it every way you can…don’t be afraid of it, or what other people
think of it, it’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever
own.. Dance…even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room. Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do NOT read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents, you never know when they’ll be gone for
good. Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the
people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go,but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and
lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you
knew when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard; live
in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths, prices will rise, politicians will
philander, you too will get old, and when you do you’ll fantasize
that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were
noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund,
maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one
might run out. Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you're 40, it will
look 85. Be careful whose advice you buy, but, be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of
fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the
ugly parts and recycling it for more than
it’s worth. But trust me on the sunscreen…

Mystery Cat

This very friendly cat mysteriously showed up from under the neighbor's fence this afternoon and has taken over the apartment complex. It found its way into my apartment and is now in charge. Nothing stops the cat, including my neighbor's Doberman.

September 27, 2009

Honoring Grampie

Today would have been Grampie's birthday - I believe his 93rd. He passed away two months ago in Connecticut and when our family came together to honor him it was amazing to see his giant clan. Today I am going to celebrate the quarter of me that is Grampie. It is easy to do so by watching baseball or eating ice cream - two of his favorite pastimes. Rather, I am going to notice his best influences on my personal values. These include charity, contemplation and one-to-one connection.

September 24, 2009

Do You Hulu?

I'm now officially addicted to Hulu - tv on demand. I've watched nearly every episode of 30 Rock. This week and next are super busy for me with projects and TV is giving me the escape.

September 23, 2009

Opening My Eyes

Today I've started really seeing my new apartment for the first time. Instead of just seeing stuff in places I can see that they are my cozy little areas of all things me. It is like I'm coming out of a fog. It is a beautiful place in a fantastic neighborhood. Also noticing that I'm getting some of my old humor back and making myself laugh. So nice to have this shift.

Still need a couch, some carpets, coffee table and chairs for my table, plus a nice big piece of art for the wall.

Purple and Pink House

This morning, during my walk through my extensive new neighborhood, I passed this amazing house. Even the wood chips in the garden are purple.

September 22, 2009

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

New Century Chamber Orchestra's Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and Dawn Harms play Take Me Out to the Ball Game at the SF Giants game on Labor Day! I'm so lucky to be working with this organization. Inspirational and energized - can you hear the joy?

September 19, 2009


Over the past 24 hours I've recognized a new sense of spaciousness. I think the transition arrived through my yoga class at Yoga in the Middle on Thursday evening. Nancy asked us to notice the space between the in-breath and out-breath. It felt roomy, spacious, warm and allowed my breath freedom to move around in a circle, up, over and down again. The space is in my belly and in my throat, two areas that have been congested for so long.

With this new spaciousness I am experiencing better sleep, a full eight hours and minimal tossing and turning. In the morning I wake up and my sheets and blankets are still spread evenly across the bed. For years my sleep has been filled with tossing and turning. I am still having vivid dreams.

The spacious feeling is allowing me to clear out the corners of my thoughts, streamlining them to the present with less noodling on the past and future.

Perhaps this sense is being further supported by the new apartment and all the space that is mine, with my things. Also the clearing out of all kinds of old posessions. There are more to go soon.

During this morning's yoga class at Alameda Yoga Station, again with Nancy, I noticed the spacious breathing as well as space in my joints and a new release of the muscles for deeper, more balanced poses. Plus, much room for laughter. I looked around the room and felt so much love for and from my fellow yogis.

September 18, 2009

Clinique Bonus Time Meltdown

Following a client meeting in San Francisco this morning I was chatting with my co-consultant David in a cafe near Bloomingdales and there was a little tent on the table that said, "Clinique Bonus Time". I totally freaked out and b-lined it to Bloomies as fast as possible. It's been nearly two years since my last Clinique Bonus Time in London. Significant withdrawal.

The women at the Bloomies Clinique counter thought I was mentally ill as I frantically asked for my facial sunblock - make it two - so that I could get the bonus. I've been waiting for a bonus time to get this much-needed product and in the interim have been using an inferior alternative that has resulted in lots of sunburns. Yes, I told all this to the Clinique women. They just smiled and hoped for the best...and that I would leave quickly.

Got the bonus - a highly unattractive silver bag that looks much like fish scales and filled with products I'll never use. But you know what? I'm so happy with that bag and will treasure it along with all my other Clinique Bonus Bags.

September 16, 2009

Note to Self: Don't Economize on Healthcare

The big lesson I have learned this year is that cheap healthcare is expensive. I subscribe to Kaiser's cheapest plan which has a whopping $5,000 deductible. Once that is met, everything is covered. This means that every time I visit the doctor or fill a prescription I'm paying full price and let me tell you, that price is not cheap. Plus, emergency services aren't covered, as I learned last month when I ended up needing an emergency tetanus shot.

Basically, I'm paying $169 per month for nothing. Or, actually, paying that much for the assurance that when I hit $5,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, in this calendar year, I'll be covered 100%. Bad equation. The impact of this plan has been less trips to the doctor when I've needed to go, such as my two bike falls and a yoga shoulder injury. Plus, the heart-stopping shock of paying for meds at full price.

Thankfully, I will change plans at the start of the new year. Just three more months to stay as healthy as possible.

September 14, 2009

Attention Sports Fans

A noticeable addition to my BART travel are sports fans and University of California Berkeley students, with the two overlapping on a regular basis. My new BART station, Mac Arthur, is the transfer point for access to nearly every train line which means we get fans for Raiders, Giants, A's, 49ers and Cal Bears. My grand conclusion for helping these confused folks find their way is signage and announcements telling them which trains to take. Totally confusing and I often find myself helping people figure out how to get to their destination. The super challenge is that they are often, already drunk. Makes for fun times when they are trying to get home.

September 13, 2009

Girls' Day at My Place

Today was fabulous with two consecutive visitors to my new apartment. First Jessica came over for lunch. We didn't do bento, I ran out of time, but we did have some lovely little dishes we picked up down the street. Then we chatted for hours and hours.

Dinner was with Hisun who brought over fresh heirloom tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella. She prepared a beautiful salad. We chatted for hours and hours while shopping in my closet and then watching youtube videos.

All these guests! I've been a hermit for the past 13 months with barely a visitor to my last place. Now that I'm in my own apartment and have a fantastic setup the friends are visiting and we're having tons of quality time together.


Yoga in the Liquid Sunshine

Yesterday, in the rain and cold of the early morning, fifteen of us yogis demonstrated flowing yoga poses at the Castro Valley Fall Festival on behalf of our guiding heart Nancy of Yoga in the Middle. What a morning! We hardly ever get rain and when we do it is a mess. People don't know how to dress or behave, including myself. Its like we forgot our origins and suddenly melt in the wetness. However, we transformed the experience into liquid sunshine. You can see the streaking sunshine across these photos.

Can you spot me? I'm wearing a heart shirt.

September 12, 2009

Adventures in Bento Making

I've had an inspiration, after reading an article in the New York Times called Bento Boxes Win Lunch Fans, to make a bento lunch this weekend. My friend Jess is coming over for lunch on Sunday and she is my first dining guest in the new apartment. Unpacking my stuff from storage, I realized that I have tons of Japanese bowls and plates - perfect for a bento meal. Also many cute cookie cutters for shaping veg.

I am further inspired by the blog Adventure in Bento

Also found this fantastic website called I Love Bento for Bento supplies.

Stay tuned for photos of the meal and the apartment.

Photo from Adventures in Bento. Don't those rice guys look like peeps!

September 9, 2009

Racing with the Clock

I have to wonder why I push myself into bizarre and stressful situations sometimes, to save money. Today I rented a City Car Share truck for three hours. To get the truck I had to ride damaged Ike the Bike to MacArthur BART and drop him off for repairs at Alameda Bicycle at Fruitvale BART.

From there I picked up the truck and the race was on. First zoom to Ikea to pick up some more essential stuff - I've practically memorized the catalog as pre-bedtime reading. You've never seen someone zoom so quickly through Ikea.

Luckily my new place us a straight shot from Ikea. I zoomed home and proceeded to run up and down the steps 12 times unloading new stuff and loading boxes to go to charity. I literally ran.

One hour and fifteen minutes to go and I started my drive to the electronics recycling place in San Leandro. After much searching in industrial warehouses I found it, only to learn that they are going to charge me. Fine. Just take these computers and cable snakes off my hands forever.

Now I was down to 30 minutes to get to Alameda to drop off my boxes at Good Will. I get there and unload in record time. Made it back to the City Car Share parking space with ten minutes to spare.

Aren't there simpler solutions such as renting the car for longer, or, even owning one?

The good news is that Ike is fixed and that only cost me $3. Cheap and cheerful.

September 8, 2009

Getting Comfortable

I've turned a corner and am much more comfortable in my place and on my own. Nearly everything has found a home within my home, except for 12 boxes I am taking to charity tomorrow. You can't even imagine how many computer cables I have from so many previous technology iterations. Same with music CDs. Now I'm all about downsizing.

ATT has been a challenge in terms of setting up my DSL. Their outsourced tech support is atrocious. However, their local repair service is extraordinary. They had a guy to my house within two hours of my call. He fixed up the DSL line which had a problem at their box. Some things you just can't solve from overseas.

This new apartment is so quiet. Yes, I'm in a busy neighborhood but it is a lovely mix of urban and nature. Today there were two blue jays frolicking in the trees outside my window and then a curious squirrel watching me from the roof. Very peaceful.

September 7, 2009

American Idiot

Saturday night I was lucky enough to be invited to see American Idiot the punk rock opera by Green Day at Berkeley Rep. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea what the performance would about until I walked up to the theatre and assessed the scene. I know Berkeley Rep always hits home runs and this one was bound to be out of the park.

From the moment we walked into the theatre we could feel the vibe. The audience was total hipsters - and we blended well, if I do say so myself. When the curtain rose our draws dropped. What a set! At least three stories high and the backdrop was covered with words, images and dotted with TV monitors. The action started immediately and never stopped. For the entire opera there was accelerated action over every inch as actors sang, danced and flew across the set - often highlighted with unbelievable lighting techniques. We were continuously blown away.

As far as the story line, this was told nearly 100% through lyrics with minimal straight dialog. We agreed we would have to see it again to figure out exactly what they were saying. Another option is just reading the lyrics from the Green Day album from which most of the songs originated.

As the actors took their bows the audience jumped to their feet and gave them a standing ovation. This show has got to be headed for touring and we're lucky we caught it in previews!

Ikea Goes the Extra Mile

In the grand movement of my stuff, the screws for the legs of an Ikea table were lost in transit. Something so simple as four little screws are so essential to transcending a table from donation candidate to fully functional.

I hiked out to Ikea Emeryville today via bus and shuttle and, once arrived, took a number in their ominous service department, hoping for the best. Finally, when I had my turn at the counter, the woman looked up the part number and said they no longer make the legs. But she was nice enough to work with another floor person to find something similar. After an hour of searching the showroom they came back with for mismatched screws that they said should do the trick. I was thrilled with the care they put into helping me, and extra happy that they didn't even charge me for the parts.

When I got home I screwed in each table leg with the random selection of screws. They fit perfectly. Suddenly my place felt like home. I even cooked a real dinner and ate at the table instead of at the computer. Small steps in claiming my space.

September 6, 2009

Smash Up

I am like a little kid this summer as I keep crashing my bike. When you ride as much as I do I suspect it is bound to happen. This time I was crossing the railroad tracks at Jack London Square in Oakland and my wheel got stuck. Down I went, right next to a train running on the parallel track. Luckily it was stationary.

A few folks hanging around asked if I was OK. One man stayed by my side as I evaluated the damage. Now I have matching knee bruises and the palms of both hands are black and blue. He said that he had the same accident a few years ago and we both agreed that falling off your bike is sucky.

The only other person to ask if I was OK was a 10 year old boy. I instantly saw a future for him in community outreach.

Ike is a bit damaged. There is a part scraping against the chain. A good reason for me to visit my guys at Alameda Bicycle at Fruitvale BART.

September 5, 2009

Giant Fridge

After years of living with minimal fridge space I've become accustomed to buying small amounts of food each week and not keeping tons of condiments. In London the fridge was one of those mini affairs with a freezer that could hold one tray of ice cubes and not much else. I think I need that fridge back.

Now I have a giant, brand new fridge that loves to run constantly to cool down a package of cheese, some mushrooms and a container of orange juice. I keep adjusting the temperature switch hoping that it will get the picture.

September 4, 2009

Settling In

Last night I started hanging pictures on the wall and that helped me feel more settled. In my room I've hung lots of heart images and and am recreating my shrine. I can breath easier now.

The living and dining rooms still need to be sorted out. I've always wanted a wall of photos and my collection is so large that I believe I can make it happen. Megan may be coming over this weekend and if so I will recruit her to help me arrange the images. I do it be eyeball and she'll do it by measuring. We'll meet in the middle.

September 3, 2009

Thoughts on Being on My Own Again

Honestly, I am lonely here on my own. That is pretty silly considering that I have my front door open and my neighbors and their dogs are constantly sticking their heads in to say hello. We're all moving in at the same time since this apartment is newly renovated. I suppose it is just being alone that is hard - not being partnered. They all have partners and dogs. I have me.

Unpacking all my stuff from storage I have had to sort through everything to find the essence of Amy. There are so many great pieces of art - many of which were created by artists for me. It makes me feel loved and lonely at the same time. I suppose this is just the opening line in another chapter of my life.

Today I facilitated a full day retreat for one of my clients and the Music Director made a poignant statement about stories. Every story needs to have an ending that you're driving towards and drama, especially disaster, sells well. She was speaking about documentary film - challenge and overcoming it to reach your goal. Here I am facing my challenge. All kinds of old, layered feelings coming out.

September 2, 2009

All My Stuff in One Place

I'm all moved in and it only took about three hours to load everything in and then another three to unpack. All my stuff that was in storage in Houston is now unpacked and there are approximately seven Giant boxes to take to Good Will. After those are gone I'm sorting through my books and getting them down to the most valuable arts books.

The two men I hired yesterday as day laborers did a spectacular job moving everything carefully. Nothing was broken. Many missing bits and pieces however from the consolidation of my stuff in Houston storage. Much went off to Good Will out there. But that's OK. I didn't miss it before and don't miss it now. It is so good to have all my things on one place instead of having them in storage. I'm shocked by how much paper I've been carrying around and how many knickknacks.

Off to IKEA tomorrow to beg for some missing screws and to pick up some other bits and pieces.

September 1, 2009

Moving Day!

Nearly everything is packed, took me an hour. Now I'm starting to bring my stuff downstairs from my attic oasis. Next to load everything into my City Car Share truck. Then over to the new place to do a condition inspection, unload the truck and then wait for the Door to Door container delivery.

When the container arrives I'm then heading back to Alameda High Street to hire two day laborers. Stacey, my current housemate, is going with me to help with the hiring. Then back to the house to pick up a few final large items. Finally, off to the new place to unload the container. All this and then I take the truck back to Fruitvale BART, pick up Ike the Bike from Alameda Bicycle's valet parking (bike day care) and then take BART to MacArthur, my new station.

Off we go!