New York, Take 2

Just thought I should empty the contents of my brain from the last 2 days before I forget them.

My mother flew down to Long Beach (or rather I flew her down) 2 days ago. We went out for a fish lunch, then got our hair cut and colored (her grays covered, my shine restored). During our salon appointment, she was sitting two chairs away from me, and I could observe her from a distance chatting with the stylist. One thing that impressed me was that she was responding to the young woman using facial expressions that I would usually associate with my father. More masculine, less motherly, than I remember. Then I thought to myself, I wonder if this is what living with a partner does to you over 36 years! They become your mirror, and you become more like them by virtue of seeing them so often. It’s probably why couples start to “look alike” after a while.

She was so excited when she called me from the Portland airport after her first flight. It was truly worth the whole trip to hear her sound 20 years younger, for her 60th birthday.

Mom is a chatterbox, and that increases with stress, until she just starts singing. When she’s singing, it’s a form of self-soothing. So, I’m learning her cues better and will try to nip her stress in the bud at the super talkative phase tomorrow. The whole “Just Relax” thing doesn’t work on my bf, and it doesn’t work on her! Sigh.

It’s interesting to study her and to see where some of my traits come from. She is very inquisitive, and quite generous with theories and ideas, good or bad. That seems familiar.

I had to learn to be patient with her nervousness today, since she isn’t familiar with a lot of customs, she gets nervous and asks a lot of questions or tries to solve problems that don’t exist, rather than being able to relax and enjoy the moment.

Dad didn’t answer the phone this morning when she called multiple times, so that made her pretty stressed out today, although she put on a brave face most of the time. She later learned he had an earlier appointment than she thought he had, so all was well.

The people at the hotel are nice and fun to talk to. I had a nice conversation with the innkeeper’s daughter today about working for wealthy people, and what the Hamptons culture is like for the nouveau-riche vs. old money.

I had the best roast beef sandwich of my life at the local bagel shop. And of course I had a mini-bagel which was also fantastic.

We started the day by getting our rental car and driving to the beach to watch the 10-12 foot waves crash in with the storm. That was pretty awesome. Then, we went on a mission to find the country’s oldest Presbyterian church and go thrift store shopping (which turned out to be a bust). We ended up at a nice little museum and my mom and the gift shop keeper (from Missouri) traded stories for some time while I found some amazing lavender hand lotion.

The roads were a bit flooded but nothing too hairy.

We ate half our lunches and saved the rest for our dinners.

Finally, I went alone to a movie tonight: The Martian, with Matt Damon. It was kind of cool that a movie about Mars would name its missions “Aries” 1, 2, 3, etc. (Mars being ruled by Aries). It was a decent movie, and cool to think about how one might use science as a survival skill.

Tomorrow, we explore NYC :-) That will be pretty cool. Hope mom enjoys…

Magic and excellence

I’m at a kind of magical junction in my life where I get to witness the grand orchestra at work behind the scenes again. When you let a desire flow through you and follow its consequences, it is astounding how narrow the path is and how many things line up to make the way simple and clear.

I did not work for most of the past 4 months, determined to not make the same mistakes again. After a hell of a last year, I realized that I badly needed a good mentor in my life again. I have had the good fortune of learning under the most amazing (mostly male) mentors along the way, in high school, college, internships, and through my first career, and beyond. I love being taken in under the wing of someone who has achieved something I have not, and learning as much as I can from them, even if I don’t end up following their path.

So it had been a couple years since I lost my last mentor, the person I used to be a personal/admin assistant for. Before him, it was the beloved Doc Harmon Brown who I credit for any success I achieved as a track and field coach. I only got to study under him for one year before he passed away, but he taught me the most important things I needed to know about coaching during that one short year.

So I waited and waited and waited all summer for the right opportunity to “work with someone awesome” again. And the stars aligned at the very last possible minute. I had taken the leaps of faith of leaving my apartment and its grievances, leaving my boyfriend with his complexities and energy sinks, and not taking on work that would pay the bills but make me unavailable for a greater opportunity. And my availability and flexibility got me the position I wanted in the end.

It’s interesting to look with hindsight and see how, if just one factor was different over this summer, how everything would have changed. If I had moved to East Oakland, for example. Or if I had started working as a valet again.

So now it’s go time, and I get to start a whole new chapter of my life. Things change a lot when you move to a new community, change your forms of transportation and place of residence and work schedule. Everything is changing.

No, I don’t have a 5-year plan. Forget a 10-year plan. I’ve never found them to be much useful. My plan is and has always been simple: Find excellent people. Help them do excellent things. Hope excellent rubs off on you.

Beezus Christ, Super Car, Mutant Beehicle

After a long evening of discus and hammer throwing, I dragged myself out to a fundraiser in SF for a really cool Bee Art Car. So glad I did. The frame is underway, and it is going to be epic. Apparently this is Michelle’s idea. Not sure I met her. Great DJs, heavenly food.

BUT I did meet some other very chill peeps, just what I needed tonight. Leslie and Fe (sp?), Chris and Jaime. Just writing this down in case I do actually make it out to BM this year and wanna remember!

Realized while dancing, that I have a lot of energy. And that I am my father’s daughter. When my dad was out of work in the North Dakota winters, you did not want to be around him. He got set off very easily. He worked very hard construction labor, long hours, like a champ. I realize I need similar stimulation. I need to stay active. It is my nature. I tried doing yoga a few mornings ago and got an upset stomach and lashed out at someone in anger. I don’t need yoga right now. I need some serious activity.

Think I’m gonna head to Cal Berkeley soon and see if they have any ideas for me…I’m needing major mental as well as physical stimulation. I need study or work. Glad my love bought me hammer shoes, it’s a small piece of my energetic puzzle right now. xo

Authenticity and ReStoking One’s Fire

Step One. Review Andrrea Hess’s Blog.

“We have to pick ONE way to let our prospects know we exist. Once they know we exist, we have to pick ONE way to invite them to be served by us.”

“Get in touch with your fear, and you’ll get back in touch with your passionate desire.”

Good stuff.

Step 2: Google Authenticity, Answer 5 Stock Questions to Find Your Authentic Self

1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a teacher, of the grade just below me. I wanted to be an archeologist, and look for things other people don’t see on the surface or have trouble finding, like dinosaur bones, or the Loch Ness Monster.

2. What makes you laugh?

I find botched social interactions really funny. I love comedy in general, the smarter the better. I think the point of this question was to find out what makes you happy and lighthearted…fail, haha.

If you’re asking what makes me happy…

…delicious food, a warm bed/shower, a lover to share my life with, babies/animals, mother nature, a good book, magazine, poem, art, achievement, respectful discourse where both parties leave learning and loving more.

3. What clothes do you feel comfortable in?

In high school I decided my dream job would be barefoot in a skirt. I’m also a fan of yoga pants/spandex so I can move my body in any direction it feels like.

4. What activities do you enjoy?

I love deciding to create something and then making it happen, and being resourceful – finding uses for things which appear useless, or making things work out. I love artistic creativity applied to tangible construction. I like art and museums and dancing. I enjoy writing. I love playing sports, being active, and hammer/discus throwing. I love being with things very different from me, and kind of studying them – my cat, babies, foreigners, people with disorders. I love talking about something I just learned. I enjoy studying/trying things that are taboo and coming to my own conclusions. I enjoy gathering friends for meals and parties. I like taking photographs. I like to study how large systems work, like the sciences of chemical engineering, or sociology, or religion, and then relating seemingly disparate things, and finding commonality. I love getting to know people very intimately, whether mentally, and/or physically. I enjoy being outside, especially when it’s warmer, and sunbathing. I love improving myself, studying languages, doing personal health experiments. I love researching things that spark my interest, and soaking up information. I love to help others and contribute to my community. I like organizing, rearranging, and redecorating, including spaces and my own appearance.

(I’m starting to feel like I’m creating an OK Cupid profile for my life, heh)

5. Who can you be yourself around?

I can be myself more easily around people that I feel love me unconditionally, of course. People who are stable and predictable. People who don’t have specific agendas and are open-minded. Non-competitive people (I’m quite competitive). Though I’m getting pretty good at just being me, I could always use more practice.

Well, maybe you know what this means, internet, because I sure don’t. I’m going to go throw a hammer a few dozen times now.

Three Years, New Love Perspective, Or: The Worst Advice I Took from Oprah


2010 – Sign in the Coffee Shop at Burning Man.

I ended a nine-year relationship 3 years and 2 weeks ago.  As I prepare to celebrate my 3-year anniversary with my new love tomorrow evening, I am thoughtful about what the last three years has taught me, and is still teaching me — about myself, about love, the nature of relationships — all of it.

I hadn’t dated much before I settled into my long-term relationship at the age of 21. My first love had dumped me after a few intense months for getting too deep too fast, and for being too poor to marry into his family, according to his mother.

I had lost my virginity with him, and I was raised that you marry the first person you have sex with. When he left me, I felt like I had been dumped out of a cup into the ocean, unequipped to deal with relationship dynamics post-virginity.

I met an attractive man the following summer, and went to bed with him fairly quickly, kind of rebounding, like, “Well – fuck it, what’s the point of waiting 18 years like last time?”  After a few dates together, it soon became apparent to me that I didn’t want to mate with him in the formal sense, but he was fun to be with and we enjoyed each other’s company.

I was really struggling with my sense of virtue in my newfound sexuality, so I caused him a bit of grief by going spells where I refused to have sex with him because I was trying to be “good” somehow, trying to avoid continuing to give my body to someone who wasn’t going to be my life partner. It was a very mentally conflicting time. I couldn’t yet envision a new relationship paradigm.

Because it was clear to me that I needed different qualities in a mate, I dated some other people simultaneously, but no one really clicked with me. I remember having one particularly conflicted day when I had had some physical contact with three different men in the span of 24 hours. It made me sick to my stomach and I wrote a poem about it for one of my class assignments.

Although I was very open and honest with my dates, I couldn’t escape the feeling that I was doing something “wrong” by spreading my physical and emotional affection. I didn’t have my bearings for what was okay or appropriate anymore.

There was only supposed to be one.

Halfway through college, I fell head over heels for a boy who was very similar to me in our passions. I liked him even more because he seemed very independent and didn’t chase after me like I thought he should. I endeavored to seduce him, and ended up with a few intimate encounters that rocked our worlds but drove him away and left me wanting.

Like a lovesick puppy, I clung for several months onto the intensity of emotion I experienced with him and wrote about a dozen poems trying to process my emotions while in the tortuous state of un-returned affection and relationship void/chaos.

Having moved to New Mexico for the summer, I then met a man at the gym who would become my partner for the next nine years. I was (and still am) a big fan of Oprah Winfrey. The things I learned and was exposed to watching her shows in high school and college really helped me have a positive mindset.

So I listened when she recommended one day, that you should completely cut your ties with ex-boyfriends when you get a new boyfriend. That “fit” with what I was taught growing up, that you should “protect” a relationship from temptations and the like, and stay focused only on your one partner.

By the end of that summer, my “passion prey” had gotten engaged and married off, and my “long-term fling” came to visit me unexpectedly. He had driven in anticipation something like seven hours that day to come see me, and he arrived late at night. Being pragmatic, I offered he could sleep in the bed next to me, but I withheld all affection from him that night. I thought that was the proper thing to do, because I had a new boyfriend now.

I cooked him a pancake breakfast the next morning, then said my goodbyes. He was quite shocked and hurt by my cutting ties with him that night, especially given the circumstance, but was lovely and sweet to me when he saw me a year or so later randomly out in public.

So I locked and loaded in with my new partner. He was cute, ambitious like me, a bit striving, liked the finer things in life, and had goals and plans and wanted a family like I did. Although he was over ten years older than me, we felt like equals. He made it very clear that he only had eyes for me, and that I should only have eyes for him.

He was quite untrusting, questioning my answering the phone out of breath, or whom I was out to  dinner with, or what was that condom package doing under my bed (he had bought it). I had started to explore my feelings about the same sex, and he was hurt and upset about it (surprisingly to me, against stereotype). He wanted me all to himself. And that felt right, given my upbringing.

There was only supposed to be one.

Fast forward, nine years of long-distance dating, trust issues, and splitting up several times, I was so happy to be free finally. I had learned a lot about what it meant to stick and stay and work through anger toward resolution. But as we got closer to moving in together, our growth progress felt stalled and I felt hopeless about nine more years training him to love me. There had been so many failed attempts to get what I needed/wanted.

The ensuing three years of dating again would prove to be an experiment in how tightly I would hold to my notion of:

There is only supposed to be one.

It’s almost laughable at this stage, if it weren’t still such a standard in society. After a failed attempt to “lock down” my first new love, who kept moving in and out of the country, I went through several stages of dating around, settling, dating, settling, trying to create structure and imagine a new, happier life.

I don’t like the word “rebound,” as it implies that a relationship is taken on without love, attachment, or meaning, and I don’t feel that way about any of my relationships, ever. But my energy in this phase was “rebounding” from a state of untrusting/jealousy/love-scarcity, searching for the other side of the balance toward trusting/freedom/abounding-love.

I  resigned that it was no longer a black-and-white world of “no sex before monogamy,” which was spouted often on a dating show I would watch called “Millionaire Matchmaker,” all about how to lock in the life partner of your dreams. It was a patented process, of sorts, that many times ended with a couple in marriage vows. And there was something elegant about that system that appealed to my engineer mind, that appealed to my religious fundamentalist mind, while also feeling just a little too formulaic/controlling.

The past three years have been ultimately about letting go…letting go of my need to feel in control of the pace and outcome of a relationship. Letting go of conforming every relationship to the formula. Letting go of the idea that there is only one person out there worthy of my love and affection. Letting go of my need to smother a person I deeply connect with, with my continuous presence and energy from day one. My multiple relationships helped me buffer this.

While I appreciate the simplicity of the monogamous system of relating, I’ve found it too limiting to define what makes me feel healthy and loving. I’ve discovered that, with ample communication, love and trust can be established outside the boundaries of a monogamous relationship that can even be deeper and more solvent than the trust and love provided by mere process, vows and labels.

A while back, a friend of mine referred to my new relationship style as “sophisticated.” I like that description, and I think it feels more  real and true to the nature of relationships in general. And I am attracted to the authenticity of that.

In my early twenties, a girl a few years my senior said to me while we were immersed in relationship talk, “Relationships are complicated.” It hadn’t struck me before that that was correct, but it resonated with me on a deep level.

On my first date with my new love, three years ago this week, we went to a Bawdy Storytelling event in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco. The theme of the night was “It’s Complicated.” We joked after the show about how silly it was that these polyamorous people had such complicated lives, and how grateful I was that my last nine years of monogamy had been so simple.

Little did I expect, we would navigate the next three years together, at varying degrees of closeness and distance, all the while with  me struggling whether to listen to my turbulent emotions, my quiet sense of knowing, or the voices of Oprah, Millionaire Matchmaker, my parents, church, and Hollywood, or the lovers who would call me a slut or a whore, either in jest, in the heat of the moment to turn me or them on (doesn’t turn me on at all), or in anger at my willingness to spread my affections further than ONE.

During a particularly intense discussion a couple weeks back, we both found ourselves admitting, “This is the most complicated relationship I’ve ever had.”

And I’ve never been happier.

Update 7/15/13: Ended three-year relationship. Complications became overwhelming. Need a happy medium. Still not ready to admit Oprah was right though(!)….tbc…

Generosity and Welfare

Got the sweetest birthday gift today from our old Ukranian coach that volunteers at SFSU…he was so upset yesterday that he hadn’t known it was my birthday and promised to bring me a gift the next day, despite my objections. A pink, wrapped box of Ukranian hazelnut cognac chocolates, and a birthday card which reads: “Like a great wine, we get better as we get older! Inside: Or rather, as we get older, we feel better with lots of great wine!” And a few servings of his delicious homemade tea, with wild mini strawberries, lemon, strong black Georgian tea, and a touch of cognac. What a perfect and thoughtful gift. I think he receives something like $300/month and wants to earn a bit more, in your seventies with a language barrier in a tech town this is no small challenge. Such a generous heart, it does make you believe in welfare, seriously. What kind of creativity and opportunities can there be for someone in that position? Someone who has lost his wife, has had surgeries, etc., and volunteers his time to keep coaching (and had a runner-up national champion high jumper this winter for State).

An Almost Cry for Help

So I’ve received word back from the car insurance company that not only are they refusing to pay my medical bills, but that they are denying I was injured in the first place. I can’t fathom why victims of car accidents are made to further suffer through this system we have created. It is asinine. I would be better off having my own savings account so that I get to decide whether I am healed or not, and how long to pursue treatment.

So I am left in a rather vulnerable position of having to take an insurance company to court, having already wasted 2 months of my time and money that I don’t have healing myself from an accident that was in no way my fault.

This on top of the fact that I am at a loss for how to get my next project off the ground and survive in the meantime. The room is filling up with water and I see no exit.

Sometimes pressure helps us focus and make breakthroughs. I hope I can McGyver my way out of this one. I also hope my community will step up to support me. I have such a heart for helping people heal and get healthy, and no means to support myself while doing that yet. I’ve never been good at reaching out because my young life was about proving my self-sufficiency. So I’m at a loss for what to do now. I need help to help others, and I’ve never felt so close to that help yet so utterly destitute.

Warning: Feet Haters – Graphic Images

I thought as a followup I should post the bottom-sides of the feet at the 12-week point of barefoot living in Berkeley/San Francisco, CA! People seem to be curious what the bottoms of my feet look like after walking barefoot everywhere. Are they all thick and nasty and calloused? No…not so much.

Feet Crossed, No Weight on Them

These are my bare feet after a shower. I have not done ANY maintenance on them in the past 1.5-2 months probably. I could easily file off the small amount of permagrime (and will after posting this!) – it’s about what you’d have walking around your house barefoot I suppose. I don’t have “callouses” built-up. That would be counterproductive to the feet’s “job” of sensing the ground and helping you make adjustments.

Bottoms of Feet

My arches, or still lack thereof…



You can see the amount of new skin my toe has had to grow as my pinky toe uncurled, it’s a bit darker. It’s this type of shit that makes me feel like an old school Chinese princess. Frickin’ foot emancipation society. My toes love me more now and that’s all that matters :-) <3

New Toe Skin

12 Weeks No Shoes

Today is a big milestone for me in my barefoot experiment – 12 weeks/3 months sans shoes!

I was very pleased at how well my feet recovered after having to wear shoes all day for one day this week. My thin skin healed up well and I was able to walk without the extra sensitivity today. Back to normal! The feet heal so fast!

The changes in my feet are subtle to detect in pictures.

Here is Week 1, Compared to Week 12, topsides:

Week 1

Today, Week 12

I feel that my 4th and 5th toes have more knuckle functionality, and that they have untwisted slightly to face more downward instead of inward.  They operate a bit more independently. They are also slightly longer, as the skin underneath has broken and stretched the toes to nearly full length. There may be an additional 2-3mm more of stretching to take place, ouch! The spacing is also a bit more even, the weight is being distributed more evenly.

I feel the biggest difference is probably in the strength of my hamstrings and the shape of my calves, neither of which I bothered to collect data on along the way! I walk totally differently now. It would be fun to find a video of my walk before and make one after. It is night and day. My legs spend so much more time behind me, and my steps land under me instead of way out in front of me. One of these days I’ll get on a ham/quad machine and test my relative strength. I used to do about 2 times more work in my quads than in my hams. For example, if I was extending 110-120 pounds on quads, I was curling only 50-70 pounds in my hamstrings for the same number of reps and fatiguing just as fast. I probably could get this data from my college workout cards. A new acquaintance remarked at how differently I walk compared to other people, in a complementary way.

So many things have changed, that I sometimes get discouraged that my arches haven’t developed drastically just yet. But they are coming along. This week I finally started to feel some perpetual soreness in the muscles in the arch along my 4th toes. The entire structure of the foot and the way it lands has had to change, in order for me to have a foundation on which to reconstruct my arches. I suppose it is all happening in due time. Now I nearly have the hamstring and calf strength to perform additional strengthening exercises for the arches. The calf muscles really have to support the arch work, I have found, and the calf muscles are still not fully developed, as they are sore every day I walk any distance. I predict it may take another 6 months before I see major, lasting change in my arch shape now.

All in all, still a very satisfying experiment. I have learned so much about my fantastic feet and have come to appreciate them and the muscles that support them so much more.


Somehow I felt like I didn’t do anything today.

Even after I got a suntan, retrieved 2 javelins, stretched, spent hours studying biology, checked in with athletes, cleaned my room, did laundry, caught up with friends on Facebook, took the garbage out, did dishes, organized financial data, consulted with a business professional, checked in with my boyfriend, and gave myself a haircut.

I didn’t write.

I should probably find peace with that :-p