Streets of Bakersfield

An oldie but a goodie. I heard this song today after work on the radio and the tune and lyrics hit me fresh (taken literally in this case–not in reference to heroin!) I like the idea that you are a friend of the city you live in. Driving the familiar streets of Bakersfield today, it dawned on me that I would be leaving the city soon, and it feels like leaving a friend that I’ve grown attached to:

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t have a partner
Sometimes I feel like my only friend
Is the city I live in, the city of angels
Lonely as I am, together we cry
I drive on her streets cause she’s my companion
I walk through her hills cause she knows who I am
She sees my good deeds and she kisses me windy
I never worry, now that is a lie. ”

~Red Hot Chili Peppers, Under the Bridge

Enders Game

A favorite quote of mine I found while cleaning out my closet for the open house. It is from the book “Enders Game,” and it sums up what I believe about people:

“In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him….it’s impossible to truly understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.”

~Orson Scott Card, Enders Game, 1985

Cousin Kristin’s Wedding & Voice Experiments

A week ago I attended my cousin Kristin’s wedding near Seattle…well, I attended the reception anyway…but let’s not talk about that. Many of the cousins on my mother’s side of the family attended, most of whom are in college currently. I hadn’t seen any of them in over 5 years. It was fun to hear what they were studying: Vocal Performance, Philosophy, Photojournalism…I learned that I have a cousin in grad school (Gonzaga) who coordinates university speakers on the controversial subject of science & religion. She was originally enrolled in cosmology and switched majors to Philosophy. We all had a lot in common and had a great time catching up.

Most of the people on my mother’s side of the family are talented singers. I’m not a great performer, but I have a decent voice and a good ear, and I’ve participated in many school, church, and traveling choirs, even directed a church choir. Anyway, my cousin Rachel, who is studying vocal performance, mentioned to me that her voice professor has been encouraging her to speak in a higher tone of voice. This was very interesting to me.

The theory goes that speaking in lower tones is harder on the vocal chords, and that women naturally have higher voices, but tend to speak in lower tones if their childhood playmates or siblings were mostly boys. I thought about my childhood as a dead-set tomboy, and about all the women that work in the male-dominated oil industry, and sure enough, I had trouble picturing even one woman I work with that uses a higher, more feminine voice at work. So, of course, this led to a brief social experiment.

My brother and I took a ferry and met the mother & father of the bride the day after the wedding to hike Hurricane Ridge (pictured). I told my brother on the trip over that I was going to speak in a higher tone for the entire day and take mental note of what I observed. The first thing I noticed was how nice I sounded….nice, as in not-mean. It was almost the register of the voice a mother would use to greet an infant or young child. And just speaking that way made me want to be nicer. Also, I found it difficult to speak crudely in that tone of voice. Not that I am usually a vulgar person, but it was almost impossible to say anything vulgar in that tone of voice – it just didn’t sound right.

The first thing I noticed about other’s reactions to me was my brother. I am definitely the dominant personality around him, and I tend to speak more often or pick on him when we talk, but I think he liked me better in the higher tone of voice. It wasn’t assertive, loud, or condescending in any way, and I think it put him more at ease.

It was an interesting experiment, and hard to gauge stranger’s reactions to it. I think in general, people just thought I was a nicer person–definitely less-threatening. That doesn’t mean I will abandon my usual tone of voice. It comes in handy whenever an assertive, in-charge projection is needed. But I learned a little sweetness goes a long way.


Something silly I had created for the construction team at work. My boss had been called a flangehead by one of the operators, and thought it would be fun to turn it into a team name. Unfortunately, it didn’t catch on…so much for my career in graphic design.
Text based off a military naval reference.

A few thoughts about Responsibility…

I just watched the documentary “Earthlings,” lent to me by a vivacious & quirky massage classmate–a retired court reporter who is a vegan and an animal rights activist. I told her I was interested in why she chose to become a vegan & champion animal rights. She asked me if I was thinking about becoming a vegetarian. I told her no, not necessarily, just that I was interested in why she had chosen that lifestyle. So the next day, she brought me this disturbing and thought-provoking video to watch.

I have to admit it wasn’t what I expected. I didn’t come away with message that I needed to stop eating animal products or wearing leather immediately. Rather, I came away simply thinking long and hard about any unintended contributions I was making to a sick underworld.

The purpose of the film was to shed light on the fact that animals are suffering a lot of cruelty for no good reason. The images of animals enduring pain & abuse on the streets, farms, slaughterhouses, fur factories, circuses, and zoos, in spite of animal rights regulations, really made me wonder what kind of society I was living in.

Most of us buy without much thought to origins, and discard tons and tons of waste every year without thought. For the most part, we live our daily lives without much intention at all–unconscious living, as Oprah would say. I’m just as guilty as the next person.

We tend to place the responsibility on our government to keep our food, jobs, families, and environment safe…while taking minimum actions personally. Despite our social and evolutionary progress, my fear is that we are still in danger as a species of swarming and spreading over the earth, devouring as many resources as possible, and leaving behind unprecedented toxic waste, carnage, and suffering directed at fellow earthlings.

Some see animal cruelty as a symptom of other larger, underlying problems, and I’m starting to understand. I’m discovering I live in a society that is blind to many personal responsibilities, one of which is the responsibility for treating with respect the animals that feed, clothe, and entertain us.

What would you attempt if you knew you would succeed?

“What would you attempt if you knew you would succeed?”

I heard that line on the Oprah Winfrey show about 10 years ago, and it stuck with me. About 2 weeks later, I found an oversized white t-shirt at the Bon Marche in Missoula, Montana that had the saying on the back side, and I bought it immediately.

That very question is the burning question in my mind lately. I have a vague idea of what I want to do next: finish massage certification, sell my house, move to the San Francisco area closer to my boyfriend, and pursue something different, something creative, something compelling. Depending on the proceeds from the sale of my house, I may have the opportunity to travel, write more, or study something like psychology, yoga, “natural” healing, politics/law/history…

At this point in my life, the only failure I fear is failing to choose somthing different, creative & compelling, in the short amount of time I will have before the funding runs out!

What would YOU attempt if you knew you would succeed?