Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Into the Wilderness

I got into the woods over the long weekend and it was so good for my soul. There is nothing like the Pacific Northwest and its hundreds of shades of green to calm the inner dialogue and thoughts of this and that. In my head I have lots of questions...Where do I go? What do I do? Why aren't I writing more? Do I really want to wear this shirt? When the hell will it warm-up? Those are the kinds of thoughts that pollute my mind on a daily basis. It is as self-destructive as having an over-inflated ego.

My latests studies with the Shaman have been on quieting my over-active and overly self-critical mind so I can hear God again. Not an easy task even for the experienced meditator. I'm grateful for the thirty plus years of meditation I have under my belt and if it were not for it I am sure the tedious questions my mind produces would surely push me over the edge. The Shaman works with a different meditation format than what I was taught with Transcendental Meditation. His approach is quite visual and a bit "new agey" which brings a lot of judgment on my end, so keeping my inner dialogue in check is a practice in compassion. I also believe that any judgment I have towards others is simply something or a trait that I don't want to look at in myself, so keeping that in line is critical.

Also, I come from highly critical people. My mother, for instance, is the biggest critic in the world. She has opinions about everything and for the longest time I took all her criticism personally...probably because it was directed at me...personally. I've always thought that her ideal job would be working for the CIA (not the Culinary Institute of America, but the other one) and having her interrogate terrorists...she'd be great at it and she would be serving the country. But now, I'm thinking a better job for her would be in the AA community....

Here's my latest idea for a new AA meeting step 2

NOTE: You must complete the first new AA meeting concept in an parallel universe first which I will review for those of you who may have forgotten:



Recipe for meeting:
Walk into the room
Approach the table
Pull out the chair
Sit down in the chair
Scoot forward to the table
Open vodka bottle

NOTE: you may pour as little or as much as you require, so pour wisely. You may need only 1 drop of may need the case that is in the back of the room that I didn't even tell you that is here, but if you need it, I got more vodka...okay? So take only what you need....think about that...

Set Timer for _______________ amount of time

NOTE: start with the least amount of time and increase as needed up to infinity...but I recommend stopping at 1 hour since that's how long these meetings usually last.

Use only as much time as you need...consider that...

Now ask long did that take? Are you at the meeting? Did you open the bottle? Were you able to sit down?

Monitor your progress.
Take notes
Celebrate your success with your community
Notice how far you've come

Does it matter if you took a sip or drank a bottle?

Okay....let's say you have been able to sit at the table and are able to celebrate your progress. Now let's make it interesting.


Same as above except add one Sylvia Silberman. Ask her what she thinks about your hair (or any other part of your being) and see what unfolds.

Really, she is tough. But I am recognizing how I have taught myself to be as self-critical and hard on myself, taking over for my mother but using my own voice. Some of the work I do daily is listening to this inner voice and asking it if it is my own and is it necessary. We all have inner critics but who did we learn it from and what good does it do? I can see the good in an objective critic at times for instance, when I am learning a new jazz chart or a new piece of music, the critic is helpful with fixing mistakes or interpretations of what I am playing, but I tend to let the critic to get the best of me. When I am quiet in my head and performing, I am a better piano player. It is hard work for me to turn off the critic.

Echart Tolle talks about identification with thought and I've been reading his works again to help me overcome this hostage situation from my thoughts. Yes. I feel that I become hostage to my thoughts, inner fears, criticism and such...especially since I am not working now. That has been a hot topic for my critic because now I have a lot of space and the critic has nothing to criticize except my not working. Tolle says that to overcome this habit, one must become the observer and witness when and how these thoughts occur and then to simply allow them to be.,..not become overwhelmed by the thoughts, but create space for them.

I've visited with an old friend named Eiric who was voted as Seattle's angriest server 9 years running. Well, he wasn't really voted that, only by his co-workers...he didn't get a plaque or anything, but he really was the angriest person who worked at the restaurant and who can blame him? We worked at Cafe Flora which was/is a vegetarian restaurant and attracted the highest maintenance customers in the city. Eiric was an exceptional server, tall, strong, handsome and could carry all the tables in the restaurant if that were required of him. His drive was cash and that's healthy in the restaurant business. But the needs of the customers was a hundred times higher than in a regular restaurant. Most of the tables had special diets and required the wait staff to request many special instructions with each order. When you have a full section on a busy night, the last thing that you need (as a server) is to see if the Portabello Wellington can be made without garlic and wheat and can the side of mashed potatoes be substituted with mashed cauliflower even though it isn't on the menu but it is a part of a special cleanse the customer is doing? Doesn't the chef have time to make that? You have cauliflower in the restaurant, right? So why won't they make it? Seriously, the customers at that restaurant required a lot of hand holding and you needed a lot of focus and patience...traits that Eiric did not possess at the time.

I hadn't seen him in a good ten years since I left Seattle and he has since transformed into the most beautiful, kind, loving yoga teacher I've ever seen. He has an inner light that radiates and shines through every cell in his body...he vibrates love. Seeing his transformation was shocking and beautiful. I asked him how he was able to change into a completely different person. He said after he got fired from serving, he started doing a daily meditation that completely accepted everything that came his way and he stayed in gratitude of it. Here's the meditation:

Inhale and say to yourself YES
Exhale and say to yourself THANK YOU

This is a meditation of completely surrendering to what is and accepting it with gratitude. Sounds crazy and it is quite transformational. I've tried it and it shifts the energy. I have not yet tried it with my mother in the room and a bottle of vodka in front of me, but as I have mentioned before...I'm not an alcoholic. Now a pack of cigarettes? Well....I don't know but I bet I'd do okay. I've come too far to start smoking today.

What I realized from being in the woods is that it doesn't matter if I am surrounded by nature or in the city. My real work is the inner work that happens inside the brain and how I identify or decide who I am. My learning to not identify with the inner critic is a good, hard lesson. Accepting myself as I am and accepting that I am already matter what shape I am in, no matter what I eat, no matter if I am dating or if I am doing anything...complete self-acceptance at this moment is the lesson.

The more I am able to love myself, the more love I have for those around me.

So I send you so much love,
All the way from over here,

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I've Stop Looking...

My latest astrologer told me in my recent reading that it was my karmic path to be in a relationship with a man...partnership, and that I needed to accept it and be ready for it. Naturally I laughed at this idea. I haven't been in relationship with anyone for so long that I often doubt it is even possible. I mean, I really don't know how people meet each other anymore. And to even write about it seems so trite. Yet, finding that person is important to me.

So I decided that I would stop looking; stop wanting to be in relationship and to simply accept where I am, right now, in this moment. Because that is all I only have...this moment. And this one. Look! Here is another moment! This is it, baby! This is all I have. All that worrying or wondering about the future is a habit with me and it sends me into a spiral of obsessive thoughts about this and that...that and that, this and there, here and where. Those thoughts bring me no relief. They only perpetuate the cycle of "what am I going to do about __________?"

Our society really has programed me well in this area, especially around work. I am reaching a point in my time away from working where I'm beginning to not obsess about returning to work or thinking about being in the same kind of work. I am creating space around simply being which is HUGE work! American society (and my mother) have programmed me to be always focusing on doing...working...making money. The reality is that when I am in the traditional work environment, I don't make money....I loose money. Part of my mind really thought that there would be security for me working for a large company....and now what is left of my 401K is dwindling away due to their poor business practices and the stocks they awarded me are worthless.

Over the weekend, I went to a little party with several of my old friends from the Cafe Flora days. I tell you, this restaurant was very special. We were all a part of the originally hired group of servers and I moved into one of the manager roles. It took about five years before there was an opening for a server in that restaurant which is unheard of in the restaurant turnover. We all worked so well together and there was something so special about that place that we all stayed for a long, long time.

What that tells me is that people with working chemistry are way more important that the job itself. If we hadn't had chemistry then we wouldn't have stayed together that long. I suppose that isn't a part of the American dream. My sister and I have been watching "The Office" on DVD. She can relate to it from her daily working life. For me, I've always worked in nontraditional work environments except when I was a temp at Duke University. I was hired for three days and they kept me for six months in the HR department. I shouldn't have been so surprised. Hiring and HR have always been a gift of mine. It took me a while to figure out how to not do my work so fast. When I finished a task it always irritated my superior because then she'd have to find something else for me to do. I learned how to stretch my work out, surf the internet and watch movies online. When I started doing that, my boss was much happier.

I can't settle for a work environment that is hostile and competitive. I did that in Florida and look where it got me...a mental institution! Lucky me!

See how well I am doing not thinking about working? I am writing all about working! Such as it is with habits.

For today, my task is to not think about working. Accept where I am living and not be thinking about getting away from Seattle (even though it is still cold and overcast) and enjoy my withdrawal from coffee. I am open for suggestions so please pass them along if you have any.

So much love,
All the way from over here...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dear Mighty Jesus

Dear Mighty Jesus,

I usually speak with your father, but lately when I pray or call on him I get his voice mail. The message I received today said that he was out fishing and to call his son, so I'm guessing that's you. Although it could be anyone of us really if we are all made in his image, but you got that book and all those witnesses and such, so I will speak with you.

Mighty Jesus, I wanted to thank you and your team for the awesome weekend. I can't tell you how good it was for my soul to visit with old friends. It helped me pull my head out of my ass. Naturally, the weather helped too....but I must say, seeing people and having awesome conversations about this and that is was what fed my soul the most. Thank you. Thank you!

It has been brought to my attention that many people on this planet do not believe in you as a superhero, as I do. I don't really know why since you have documented proof that you turned wine into water and fed all those people with fishes and why does you Pop need to go fishing, I wonder. He has all the fish on this planet to choose from...does he use a pole or bait a hook? How exactly does god go fishing? And why would he? Does he hunt too or is it just an easy excuse to get away from the misses? Is he still screwing your mother? I heard Mary got her own show in Vegas! Send her a kiss for me, will ya? Such a nice lady, your momma.

Mighty Jesus, what is going on with the Vatican and their release about relationships with UFO's? If we listen to the Vatican then the space aliens will be our brothers (they didn't mention sisters....hmmmmm...why not?) and if the aliens are our brothers then where does that leave you? Do you have to return then and get all the aliens to believe in you too? If that is true then maybe then it would be time for you to return to the planet and do some more magic show stuff. Do you still have your hat and cape? I'm living near Green Lake and there are a lot of bunnies here so maybe I can hook you up, but I know for sure where you could get a couple of possums if you want to try something new for the act.

So the Vatican admits that if UFOs exist and if Aliens visit our planet (like they haven't already!) then we are to accept them as makes me think that something already happened for them to release such information or it's a set-up for some bigger thing. What's going on Mighty J? What is the scoop? And what would be the purpose for uniting us all? And who will win the election?

Some conspiracy theorist are saying that this whole UFO/Vatican is a set-up so George W. can call off the I guess the thought is that if come October/November, the government releases information regarding UFO's that the president can declare a state of emergency and call off the election.

I know...a far fetched plan. That's why I say that's what the conspiracy theorists are saying. I'm not saying that Mighty J...I'm just bringing it up for the sake that it needs to be said because if a few people are saying things like that, imagine how many are tapping into that idea on the cosmic consciousness.

Quite frankly, I do not care about the election...I know, I can a good liberal like me not care? It is very easy to not care. I don't believe any of the candidates...not McCain, not Obamba, not Hiliary....not even Ralphie Nader. All of our politics are so corrupt and so far away from the real people that it sucks all life-force out of me. When will we admit that our systems of governing are no longer set-up by the people, for the people? And you know what makes me sick to my stomach too is that even the uppity liberal people of Seattle have referred to Hilary as a "bitch" and I am so sick of defending women by saying....she wouldn't be called a bitch if she were a man...but it true?


So my ranting prayer to you today, Mighty Jesus, is for something....let me think a second what it was about. Pop's gone fishing, UFO's and the Vatican, political elections.....ah yes!

Mighty's time for me to give up coffee again and I am asking for your help! See, I knew all that stuff would lead me to the right my coffee addiction is back and it is time to let it go and I'm switching again to Decaf, so my prayer is to help me get off the bean! The withdrawal from coffee is a tough one for me...shakes, headaches, stomach know the I am asking for an extra layer of help if you have it to spare. Thanks for all you do and I'll never forget that thing you did for me back there, that day...I owe you! Let me know if you need your car washed or something. Or maybe you'd like me to make you some rice? I've got it down now! Anyway, thanks in advance and Amen (I know you like that one :-)

And send your Pop back to work!

So much love,
all the way for over here,

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Only in Seattle

There was a severe weather alert warning for Seattle on my yahoo page this morning, so naturally I clicked on it to read all about it.


Okay, maybe I exaggerate a little, but it is supposed to be sunny and warm Thursday to Saturday. That is two whole days people! Two whole days of sunshine! What will I do with myself? On the last sunny day my sister and I took ferry boat ride and maybe I'll do it again. It's a nice, cheap way to be on the water and see the shiny bright light.

I know I haven't been writing much, and I am sorry for those of you who look to my blog for some glimpse of something...I'm not sure what...but I haven't really had much to say. I am walking a lot these days. The most I've walked in a day was about 8 miles...and counting these hills....that's a lot! The shaman I'm studying with has me meditating 1 1/2 hrs a day and that is fine and all but I still don't have any answers as to where I am going or what I am doing...dunno. I used to want to have a life full of coffee shops and writing time and now that I have it I don't have much to write about. I guess it's that careful what you wish for thing. Although that could just be bullshit on my part.

Mostly what I've been doing here is healing and that is going just fine...but Seattle is not where I want to put down roots again. The soil is too moist for me. Florida was only an option because of Whole Foods...whose stock is plummeting and they are loosing money left and right and not taking care of their team members. I must say, the greed has taken over. Buying Wild Oats was a bad business move and it is hitting the investors now! All the people who have stock are screwed...including me. My 401K was mostly invested in WFM stock and now it is just loosing money. I should have paid more attention to that "Smartest Guys in the Room" film about Enron and what happened to their employees and their future monies.

So I will meditate again, pray a lot and walk a ton today. Maybe I'll even have a cup of coffee to perk my spirits. If you have a life plan for me, please email it to me: I could use the input.

So much love,
All the way from over here...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Free is a Four Letter Word

I love free. It is my favorite price for everything. I especially love it now that I am out of work. When I used to live in Seattle I went to get my hair done at Gene Juarez Training Salon where they had 2nd year students working on clients for a very low price. Fifteen dollars for a full cut and color; twenty-five for a foil. Not too bad and the students were pretty good too.

My Miss Clairol box hair color was fading out like a trailer court whore and if I want to move forward with meeting an interesting man or two, I gotta feel good about my hair. I am a Leo after all. And while I don't identify with all the traditional Leo traits, I am fully engaged with the look of my hair. My priest, Father Damien has been cutting it for the last six months or more and he's been doing a great job too, but he is far, far away from me now.

Anne found on Craigslist, an ad for a hair model at 7 Salon which is a very hip, high-end hair studio in the most expensive retail space, Pacific Place, in downtown Seattle. I decided to give them a call. What could it hurt? My hair couldn't look any worse than when I did it myself. I love having my hair professionally colored but had a real hard time shelling out the $125 for a process that needed to be done every 4-6 weeks.

My sisters and I were all born blonds but my hair turned to chestnut brown by the age of 4 and by the age of 15 I started turning gray. That was the year of Three Mile Island and we lived in our basement for a couple of weeks glued to the news to see if the world still existed outside of our house. Mom probably shouldn't have taken us to see "China Syndrome" during that whole affair either. When we exited the movie theater there were about dozen newspaper reporters and photographers to catch the faces of those poor people living within the five mile radius of the power plant. Mom told us not to talk to the media, but I couldn't resist. And I didn't really understand what was going on until I saw that movie which really wasn't a good idea, Mom. Oh well...

Art imitating life. Life imitating art.

I've been going gray ever since. Oh sure, there are a lot of other things that happened too following that mom growing an extra Thyroid organ. It baffled the doctors that a woman could grown an extra organ. She recently had the inoperative extra thyroid removed but I think she started growing it because mine stopped working. That's a nice thought but I am really sure it is because of her well and the ground water she drinks. While she is upstream from the power plant, radiation is invisible. Who knows what kind of damage that place has done to her. I got the hell out of Harrisburg PA by the time I turned 18 and I didn't go back (except for one brief stint in my early 20's following my apprenticeship in Italy) for 20 years.

What amazes me about returning to an area that I'd fled so long ago, was that they were still playing the same music as when I left. Billy Joel's "Just the Way You Are" was still getting airplay. I notice that about my return to Seattle too...the same music is popular as when I left. There is nothing wrong with angry alternative music, but I just don't identify with it anymore. I wonder when the pounding beats of Miami will leave my subconsciouses.

Pounding beats are what greet you at 7 Salon. It is the only hair studio that I have been to that employs a full-time barista and DJ. They have a swank program for their stylists that include another year of training following the two year Gene Juarez Training Salon. Everyone is dressed in trendy black and white (although silver is the new black, but I won't tell them yet) and when greeted at the door, you are handed a sensual smock and hanger by the full-time coat-check person. Your latte will be made while you change.


I changed and was guided by my student, Glenn, who was in his last month of training before his final which included doing 4 models in one day. I was a perfect model because of the massive amount of gray hair I have plus trying to cover my bad dye job. There was no other option but for me to look great. I was in good hands.

The students consult with their clients/models and then en mass they gather around each hair model to discuss with the instructor and in front of the group what they will be doing to the hair. I was last of the eight models/clients and Glenn was prepared.

"My model is 90% gray on top and in the front." He announces to the group.

"Yikes!" slips out of my mouth and the instructor frowns at me. Hair models are to be seen and not heard.

"We are going to do an aggressive color repair, as you can see the damage that she has done to herself using over-the-counter hair color." He goes on confidently.

I could see how defensive I was getting in the chair as my thoughts raced to explain my poor hair color and condition and I had not prepared myself for the public humiliation. I recently gave up humiliation for lent and decided to not take it back-up after Easter. And what with my employment history and all that crap that happened at Whole Foods and my visit to the mental institution...wasn't I allowed to have bad hair once in my life?

See. I'm still defensive about my hair. Let it go Linda, let it go!

Glenn combs my hair over to the other side to show the class all my gray growth and he goes on. "We need to not only create a new color, we have to restore the damage done by the sun and pool damage." That's true, I thought. I was in the pool every day before I came to Seattle. Oh god how I missed being warm and in the sun...~sigh~

"I was thinking of using 5NG and 5NS before covering her with 5NG." The teacher makes a tutting sound and sucks in some air through his teeth before saying, "Do any of you have another suggestion?"

My confidence in my soon to be graduating Glenn was fleeing quickly.

"I might use a level 4NG because of the massive amount of gray and its resistance plus I'd want to sure the front and the back were going to match." A pretty platinum blond student said.

Yeah Glenn, had you thought about that, I thought to myself. Didn't you want the front and back of my head match? When were you going to think about that, Glenn? Were you just going to make my hair two different tones? What were you thinking Glenn? Geeze! Everybody knows that you need to use a level down for the really hard grays which never want to color and a higher level for the new non-gray growth in back. Is GlennGlenn anymore! Did you change your name to Glenn to be cool? There hasn't been a popular Glenn since Glenn Campbell and why the fuck are you studying hair, Glenn? Are you going to make me a freak, Glenn? God Glenn, pull your head out of your ass, man. THIS IS MY HAIR WE ARE TALKING ABOUT!!! You're not cool Glenn...EVERYBODY SAYS SO!!!


Glenn listens to the advice his fellow student gives and the instructor says, "She's right Glenn. What did we learn?"

Glenn says, "That gray take a different level and time because of the lack of pigment and the resistance to accepting color."

"That's right. Now what are you going to do?" asks the instructor.

"I'm going to use a 4NGS in the front, the 5NG in the back and readjust the overall color using a 5NPS." Glenn says.

"Good decision. Write it down." says the instructor. I liked him. Stay close, I thought to myself. I may need you soon!

Glenn writes down the information from the consultation and the group disperses to mix their color and get ready for processing and I settle down and pray.

even your real name? Who even names their kids Dear Kindest God,

I know we haven't formally spoken in a while and I am sorry about that. Sometimes I forget where you are and I know that is a lame excuse but it's true. Forgive me? Thanks!

I gotta ask a favor. I'm here hoping that you'll watch out for Glenn and what he's gonna do with my hair today. I know, it's a shallow request and I am so grateful for my legs that work, my lungs that can breath in the beautiful air, my eyes that can see all the love and beauty around me...and seriously God...make sure Glenn doesn't fuck up my hair, okay? Do it for him! Think how good he'll feel if he does a good job! Forget about me God, let's focus on Glenn.

Okay, I see he's got a bunch of stuff for my hair coming this way so I'm gonna go. Let's do it for Glenn God. Keep his mixing skills primed and thanks for the free lattes and the little chocolates they brought with my bottled water. That was a nice touch and I feel pretty lucky, a bit like a princess. Thanks God. Nice manifestation!
Ashey. Namaste.

Glenn brings the smelly formula to his work station and started applying it to my roots. I watch cautiously thinking to myself, "Do the front first Glenn....those are the hardest roots to take. Let it go Linda! Trust him! Let it go!" I practice some deep breathing exercises to ease the beginning of an anxiety attack I feel rising in my belly.

It's just hair. It's just hair, I think to myself. Read the pretty fashion magazine! I pick up the latest issue of Vogue and distract myself looking at anorexic models dressed in overpriced denim hot pants and thin sheer tank tops. When will I ever be able to put on a pair of shorts's so cold! I forget about Glenn and my hair and drift away into the photos and advertisements.

Glenn says, "Time to go under the dryer so those roots really take hold." He spins the chair around and leads me to a space-age gigantic conference table that can seat twenty in over-sized office chairs. The dryer units are coiled pads on a hydraulics system high above the chairs that are lowered and wrap around your head. They are silent so I can hear the DJ jamming while radiant heat surrounds my head like a halo. Time passes quickly. Glenn collects me to add more color to the rest of my head and finish the process.

"How do you think it's gonna look?" I ask him while waiting for the process to finish.

"I think it'll be good." he says in an almost question form. I'm not convinced. He needs to work on his bedside manor, I think to myself. A woman in the chair needs a lot of confidence from the hairdresser to come through...especially when there is a process happening on her head. I make a mental note and remind myself to tell him that later when we're finished.

He taps my shoulder and says, "Ready to rinse?" I nod and follow him to the the sinks. Warm water showers over my processed hair and he gives me a gentle scalp massage when the conditioner is applied. "How's it looking?" I ask.

"Shhhhh. Relax." he says and finishes the massage rubbing my neck. Okay. It's out of my hands now anyway.

He dries my head and leads me back to the chair, steps away from me and returns with three round brushes of various sizes, several hair products, a hair dryer, flat iron and comb. He spritzes my head with cucumber water and smears smelly gel all over my head. Spinning me away from the mirror, he proceeds to dry my hair pulling my hair out and down.

I have been told by all of my hairdressers over the years that I have enough hair for two, if not three people. I got the thick, wavy Italian hair that is rich and lush. Drying my hair can take a full calendar year. I had my hair dried and straightened in Durham North Carolina once. It took my lovely hairdresser 11/2 hrs just to dry it before bringing on the flat iron. Poor thing. I think she needed a blood transfusion when she was finished. She was a tiny thing and it took all the life out of her that day. She never offered to straighten my hair again.

Part of the training program at Salon 7 is to dry the hair out straight so the teacher can see what the color looks like and grade the student. Glenn's instructor comes over and watches him dry my hair. He asks me, "How do you like it so far?"

"I don't know, I haven't seen it yet." I reply. I wasn't facing the mirror as he worked, he had me spun towards the windows so I was watching the lunch crowds streaming out of office buildings below.

"Glenn, your client cannot see herself or what you are doing. When you are a stylist at Salon 7, the client must always be able to see themselves. She is not facing the mirror. Why have you done this?" he asks coldly.

"I couldn't reach this part of her head when she was sitting forward." he says.

"You have to learn how to work with your equipment and fix your own obstacles. Think about her! Think about her not able to see what you're doing!" Glenn immediately stops and spins the chair forward. The teacher shakes his head and walks off. Poor Glenn. Being scolded in front of a your model is tough! Hang tight little one I think to myself.

He finishes drying and straightening my hair so the smooth, chocolate brown locks shine in the salon lights.

"Wow." I say. I am speechless. It is the most beautiful color ever. "Nice work Glenn!" I say.

He beams. The instructor returns and says, "Well done Glenn. That was a real hair challenge and you did an excellent job. Good work." Glenn smiles relaxing for the first time since the hair challenge began.

He puts some finishing spritzes of hair spray on my head and walks me to the coat check guy to fetch my belongings. "I have my final on May 19th if you'd like to be one of my may need a touch-up by then." Glenn says to me.

"Thanks again Glenn. I really love the color." and I give him a little kiss on the cheek. Thank you God!

I changed and walked out confidently. Spending three hours of free time in the chair was definitely worth it! Thanks for the tip Anne.

So much love
All the way from the land of beautiful hair,

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rice is a Four Letter Word

Hi. My name is Linda Silberman. I am a CIA grad and I cannot make rice.

"Hi Linda" the imaginary culinary 12 step meeting says to me.

I am blogging today to ask for forgiveness. I implied in one of my earlier posts that I knew how to make brown rice, but that is a lie. I was lying to myself and to kind reader. Denial is so powerful and so is self-judgment. I created an over-inflated ego around my cooking skills and I could not admit to myself and certainly not to you that I cannot make a decent bowl of rice. It is pathetic to think that I spent over forty thousand dollars and could not produce the most basic of recipes. Every person in China knows how to make rice! What is the matter with me? Why can't I do it? When I make rice it comes out too wet and kinda starchy, not al dente, which is how I like my brown rice. I don't like the over cooked, extra soft and fluffy stuff and no matter how many times I changed the recipe or length of the bath, my rice turned out the same...mushy. Imperfect.

My recipe was this:

1 cup Brown Rice
2 1/4 cup water or stock
pinch of salt
splash of olive oil

Bring water to a boil. Add rice, salt and oil. Turn heat to very low. Take a bath and relax (about 45 min), then rice is finished. Fluff and serve.

Here's the problem with that recipe. EVERYTHING!

Lisa and I talk a lot about rice. We don't have a lot in, that's not true! We do have a lot in common and one of our favorite foods is brown rice. Whole Foods has an excellent frozen product of brown rice that you microwave for 3 minutes and it's ready. Trader Joe's carries the same sort of product but they are always out of stock which pisses off customers like me and I have a hard time paying three bucks for a pound or two of cooked rice when it costs pennies to make at home. Brown rice was a staple in my diet when I was working for WFM and the 20% store discount didn't hurt either and I was considering soliciting team members for marriage to receive their discount so I could go back to my eating ways...but that is not my path.

Last week, Lisa and I were going somewhere and she waited patiently for me on the stairs as I grabbed my things and touched up my makeup before leaving the house. She flipped through the latest issue of SAUVER magazine and noticed they had a six page spread on brown rice. Being the excellent reporter that she is, she read out loud their recipe for perfect brown rice.

NOTE: I have a few magazine subscriptions left, Cooks Illustrated which is an excellent source of technical information with flawless recipes tested dozens of times and SAUVER which I lovingly refer to as Food Porn. It is the sexiest food magazine on the market including travel and wine tips. All the industry people love it and secretly keep a copy of it by their bedside for when their partner is in the mood and they aren't. I dare you to flip through a couple pages of that magazine and not get turned on! Your mind will wander to making love on the hillsides of northern Spain drinking Lan Edicion Limitada 2004 from Bodegas LAN snacking on exotic cheeses, cured Bayonne ham sliced paper thin , fresh baguettes and an array of fresh fruits and vegetables...believe me'll be on cloud nine in no time! Only try this if you are strong and if you have an adventurous spirit. It is not for the weak of heart, although a copy of this magazine helped keep Anne alive while she was getting ready for her open-heart surgery. Check it out. Very sexy.

I'm getting ready for our outing and Lisa says, "You know, it says here that you are supposed to cook brown rice like pasta." She goes on and reads the recipe, "Bring 12 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of rice. Boil rapidly for 30 minutes, then strain and let rest and finish steaming in a covered pan off the heat for 10 minutes."

Insanity! I think to myself, grab my backpack and we are ready to go.

"You should try that." Lisa suggests.

"Maybe." I say. But it sounds too crazy to me...boil it like pasta?

How can you make rice like pasta? It goes against every rule of cooking that I have learned in the last 30 years! I remember when I thought I'd found the Holy Grail of making rice before...the oven method. This technique is used a lot of restaurants. You take your basic rice recipe...2 parts water or stock to one part rice, bring the water to a boil, add the rice, cover and place in a 450 degree oven until you remember that you have to serve rice which can be anywhere from 45 min. to 2 hours....but by 2 hours it will be burned, but only on the outside. You can serve the stuff on the inside. You can even make this without boiling the water first, that way you can forget about it longer. But really, it isn't a good way to make rice.

False rice gods.

Then I discovered the bath method. This recipe was imparted to me by my dearest friend, Karen Sevenoff. We used to eat at this awesome raw/vegan restaurant called The Gravity Bar in Seattle which is no longer in business. They did so many things well, their specialties being fresh juice, lemon tahini dressing and brown rice. they had a way of making rice that was the perfect bite to it...not starchy, never overcooked, always made in a rice maker...which I have never figured out how to use. I know, the instructions are simple....add rice and water. Turn on machine. When it stops, rice is done...but the rice never turned out good for me there either!

God, who knew I could write so much about rice...or that I even felt so passionate about it?

So yesterday, after thinking about Lisa reading me the recipe, I decided to give it a shot. I had time and ingredients. What could it hurt? I bring the water to a boil, add the rice, stir and I also added a pinch of salt and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. It boiled vigorously for 30 minutes, then I strained it and let it sit covered undisturbed for 10 minutes more.

The house filled with the most incredible, nutty scent and the dogs went wild while it was cooking. My stomach started smelled so good in the house. I had a hard time waiting the full 40 minutes for the rice to be done. And when it was finished? How was it?

Perfect. The most perfect cup of rice that I had been craving had been found! I realized that the rinsing and the boiling extracted so much of the unnecessary starch, that the true nutty qualities could come out! Who knew? I know that this won't be the method that the Chinese will start to use and their rice is perfect for them...but now I know. Now I know how to make brown rice. Finally! After all this time!

How did I eat it? I did my favorite thing...a spoon full of crunchy almond butter, a pinch more salt and pepper, a dash of olive oil and I had a complete protein that filled me up and gave me enough energy to work with my new Shaman.

Oh, didn't I mention that? I'm studying with another Shaman.

But it isn't time for me to write about that today. Now I have to go buy some food because I am starving again, just thinking about that awesome brown rice. Thank you for letting me confess and come clean about about my lack of rice cooking skills. I think I've got a handle on it now...and thank you so much Lisa for reading me that recipe. I might not have considered it had you not read it out loud.

So much love
All the way from over here...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Seattle and I are an Old Married Couple

Seattle and I are in denial about our relationship. I left her (in this situation Seattle is definitely the woman and I am the man...not that us being same sex is wrong, it just is how it is for us) nearly eight years ago for good reason. We discussed it and although we thought I was only leaving for a short while, we both agreed that the longer I am gone the better.

In 1999, after the WTO Marshal Law was imposed on the city where anarchists took to looting in the streets, smashing in Starbucks store fronts with city trash cans, I though to myself...maybe it is time for me to leave this place. And then that 6.8 earthquake hit, shaking bricks off of the side of the building I was working, the Alaskan Viaduct was closed for weeks due to serious damage and fears of aftershocks that it would flatten it like a pancake...just like in the Bay Area was pretty scary. And then Seattle produced the longest stretch of rain, 97 days, in record. That was it! That was my limit. The earthquakes, the Marshal Law, the rain...all good reasons for a separation.

When I returned here a couple of months ago, my spirits were good...strong, steady. Ready to help but my help was rejected. Friends unavailable or unable to connect with me and this terrible cold weather aided my funk to quickly returned. Finally, when I completely accepted the rain and cold on Saturday, walking more than six miles in it, willingly, accepting the frigid air and freezing stops.

Now it is beautiful and this is exactly where she acts like my wife. It's the make-up sex that keeps me in this relationship. The make-up sex is all about the sunshine, the clean air, happy smiling people everywhere. This is the part that I love and hate the most. When she is like this, I want to believe her that she will be smiling, happy weather ready to meet my needs. When the sun is shining it is all about me. She takes care of me, gives me ideas of things to do, places to go, to be alive in this beautiful place. That is what she is doing now, suggesting that it will be warm and sunny for the next few days; maybe even a week!

And I get sucked right back in. Oh baby! How could I have thoughts of leaving you? Why would I want to do so? Why do we fight so much? Come here and cuddle with me a minute...let me get you a cup of coffee...

Oh that's another caffeine addiction is in full swing again. Thank you Howard Schultz. I am back to my gotta get a coffee mode, which is not a place where I like to be. I don't like to be addicted to anything, but Greg Nichols (Seattle mayor) has required that all persons living within the city limits must consume at least 12 oz of coffee a day to keep all the over educated, under employed Seattle community alive. It is considered community service to drink coffee here. Seattle has the most educated baristas employed anywhere. I've talked to some of these overeducated coffee maids and they can bring in over a hundred bucks a day in tips! That is if you are in the right location, like in Fremont which used to be the center of the Universe (self-proclaimed) and now it is the center of the Universe for software writers. A great place to work and live and get your quad Venti half-caff soy macchiato.

Note: I've only ordered that once. Too much soy milk for me. I stick to black coffee with brown sugar and cream...and I really prefer the baking brown sugar, not the sugar in the raw but I'll use that. The brown sugar adds a richness that is less sweet than regular sugar but deeper in flavor. See? I was totally off my brown sugar addiction in South Florida.

Oh but Momma does like her brown sugar, don't she now?

So Seattle and I are having make-up sex. Sunny and sixty degrees is all it takes. I am rewarded with very early sunrises and late sunsets. I forgot how light it stays up here. She has been whispering in my ear how if I leave then she's going to be like this all the time and all my tears would have been for nothing. Is that what I want?

Okay, okay. I'll stay for the month of May. I'll juice everyday and feed myself excellent foods, continue with my healing and excessive walking and see how it goes. Mary the psychic says I'm not supposed to be here and I am sure she is right, but for today I will stay in Seattle, have a second cup of coffee and ask myself why I let Seattle get to me so much? She's just behaving like she always done. I've known her for well over 20 years now. Haven't I learned anything yet?

But you know how it is when she gives you a warm sunny kiss...

so much love,
All the way from over here,

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Looking for suggestions

I have too much time on my hands now and am uninspired to do most anything, especially write. That's no good. I've been told by all people from shaman to psychics to doctors to psychotherapists, "Take this time to heal..." and how do you do that exactly? By sitting around doing nothing? By wandering around aimlessly? By volunteering to help friends? Nothing feels right. Writing doesn't feel right and waiting doesn't feel right.

Mary the Psychic told me that it was my destiny to return to whole foods or another big corporation to be finally celebrated for all the gifts I have to offer...I hadn't even mentioned WFM or any of the work I did there, she just picked it up. I must say that is the most terrifying thought of all...returning to WFM or another type of big corporation. I don't fit in there and my creative gifts are not celebrated. They hadn't been in the past and one thing I did learn is that past performance predicts future performance.

But sitting here with only time and nothing of interest around me in the cold of Seattle doesn't feel right. Sure, I have great healing professionals here but they all tell me to just sit in it: feel what I am feeling. Well, I am feeling frustrated, tired of this period, sick of not having a purpose in life and with nothing to do but walk the dogs and feed them everyday.

Mark the Shaman assumes I am studying with him starting on Monday but for what purpose? He says I need boundaries. That's what the flower essence/acupuncturist/astrologer said too...that I have boundary issues.

I'm really sick of everyone telling me what they think. Anne has all sorts of ideas of how mentally insane I am, Lia is concerned because I appear depressed, Mom is worried because she thinks I am going to just run off "run away from my life..." yada yada yada...

The psychic says that I have put myself here and I can pull myself out.

I need an bigger than just riding the metro system...don't get me wrong, that is a huge daily adventure especially for your sense of smell. Eckhart Tolle says that there is only this moment...this moment of comfortablenesses is caused by resistance of what what is?

I am here with two dogs. It is cold, but there is sunshine which is an improvement. I am not hungry. My ass hurts from walking up so many huge hills. There is nothing to do that is of interest to I'll just sit here and listen for god.

So much love,
All the way from over here...