who's the ECL?

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm not BAD evil, more like devil's food cake evil.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hooray!

 
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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Dec 15, 2007

This is a very important date, boys and girls.

This is day my sister made me a spinster. Or really, I guess my future brother-in-law made me a spinster, by asking for my sister's hand in marriage and that crazy girl accepted.

Dammit! She always does everything first!

Congratulations, Michele and Mikey! I wish you a lifetime of joy and happiness together!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

My Dream Come True

Damn you, Weiden + Kennedy, and damn you Starbucks, because I LOVE this commercial and I WANT TO HUG A BEAR AND HAVE IT HUG ME BACK, NOT EAT ME.

Wah.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Four Things

My cousin emailed the thingy to me, and I thought I'd kind of cheat and post it on the blog. haha!

Four Jobs I Have Had in My Life
1. Pizza Slice Slinger
2. Bagel Slinger
3. Bartender
4. Corporate Gift Wrapper for Gap Inc.

Four Movies I Would Watch Over and Over
1. The Breakfast Club (you guys are putting words into my mouth!)
2. Sixteen Candles
3. Ferris Bueller's Day Off
4. Intolerable Cruelty

Four Places I Have Lived
1. A haunted house in NE Portland
2. The Tenderloin in SF
3. Felony Flats in Salem, OR
4. The international student's dorm in Simferopol, Ukraine

Four TV Shows That I Watch
1. South Park
2. America's Next Top Drama Queens
3. Dancing With the Stars (sigh, all over now)
4. Sex and the City reruns on the CW

Four Places I Have Been
1. Me (sorry, couldn't resist)
2. Sevastopol, Ukraine (a warm water port!)
3. Baguio City, Philippines
4. Edinburgh, Scotland

Four People Who Email Me Regularly
1. Alaska Airlines
2. Stinky
3. Dad
4. The Portland Old-Time music mailing list

Four of My Favorite Foods
1. Warm yellow cake filled and frosted with raspberry-chocolate ganache served with enough french vanilla ice cream for each bite.
2. Rice pudding rich with cardamom
3. Steamed broccoli with butter and salt
4. Crispy onion rings

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now
1. Floating in the warm North Shore Pacific Ocean, Oahu
2. ANYPLACE warm and oceany and tropical
3. A quaint and fabulous little European town with cobblestone streets
4. In bed with someone sexy like the Stinky

Four Things I Am Looking Forward to in 2008
1. Getting deeper into Birthing From Within
2. More time off call
3. Making enough money to start a savings account
4. All the good things that will occur that I can't predict

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Obligatory "Things To Be Thankful For" Post

...in bullet points, because you know how I feel about them....
  • I am thankful for these past two beautiful, clear, sunny days over a long lazy weekend.

  • I am thankful that I got to spend the majority of yesterday by myself making a huge mess in the kitchen.

  • I am thankful that out of that huge mess came four pies, three of which are pretty damn good. The fourth pie has the potential for greatness, but would be better if I hadn't burned the caramel and had toasted the nuts more.

  • I am thankful that I had such a good time creating yesterday that I didn't mind that the fourth pie is bitter and not so much fun to eat. Usually I throw a tantrum.

  • I am thankful to have spent yesterday evening with my old roomie whom I haven't seen much of since she moved out.

  • I am thankful for my life, the way it is turning out. My life, by and large, is pretty awesome.

  • I am thankful that I have good relationships with my immediate family, which is something rare in this world.

  • I am also thankful for the wonderful, warm, supportive circle of friends, acquaintances, clients, co-workers, healers, mentors, and teachers that I can rely on in some way or another for my own healing, growth, sustenance, and laughter, and I am very thankful that these relationships are not one sided.

  • I am thankful for Earl Grey tea, Jack Johnson, fat fuzzy cats, and nowhere to be anytime soon.

  • I am thankful that you are out there, reading my blog, whether you know me or not.

  • and I'm thankful for my hardships, for without them I would have no chance to learn just how strong and tenacious I am, and I'd never get a chance to learn that no matter how dark and terrifying things can get, no matter how long and scary the free fall, that there is an ending and things eventually do get better, even if the change comes so excruciatingly slowly it seems to never be coming at all.

For all these things, I give thanks.

Monday, November 19, 2007

ECL Loves Bullet-Point Posts (and Hyperlinks)

Weekend highlights:

  • I had THE BEST FREAKIN creme brulee' in my life to date. Southpark--DO IT. Creamy, smooth, vanilla, crispy, orgasmic. It was all of these things and more. I would take a bite, and the whole damn druken bar would fade out as I rode a wave of creamy vanilla bliss. And I am only partially embellishing. It was better than Cats.

  • My roomie Joelf and I went to the Hippodrome's Grand Opening show Saturday night. The Hippodrome is a new club/bar/place dedicated to the circus arts, and also for being a way station for circus people coming through town. They invited Pure Cirkus from Seattle to come down and perform. It was mostly fire dancing and "acrobalancers" and some aerial stuff with a rope--if you're ever seen a Cirque du Soleil show it was like that, but for the death-metal/goth/art crowd. The accompanying band, Midway Orchestra, was a metal band that included a saxophone and a clarinet. Fun, loud, and quirky.

    I realized at that show that I really do like to associate myself with the weirdo creative people in the world. I felt most at home in this sea of weird clown makeup, brightly colored hair, tattoos and piercings. I like not normal. Even if it becomes a tad pretentious.

    The grand finale of the show, however, was a bit too not normal for even me. It involved piercings and suspension and it was more than I wanted to see. I could have got up and left, but in my shock and OMG I was glued to my seat. With my face averted 95% of the time. I have to say, though, that the woman who did it seemed quite happy to be doing it. More power to her.

  • Last night as I was quietly starting yet another crafty project (crochet a bathroom rug out of the unraveled yarn from a previous bathroom rug that I grew to dislike) Joelf calls me and asks me if I'll be home for the evening and that he and Carlotta needed my help.

    It turns out they decided to enter The View's contest to win a Dodge Caravan and come on the show. They had to take a classic Christmas song (four were provided) and re-write it to include specific phrases like "swivel and go," "the View," etc. They needed me to film them singing it and upload it to the entry site. And they had two hours before deadline.

    Those two have entertaining in their bones. It only took a few takes before they hit it perfectly and within the time limit. Good job, kids! You can watch the video on Carlotta's blog.

  • I was perusing Metroblogging Portland and I randomly, for no good reason, clicked on Brewcaster's website link and found in one of his posts, a link to the funniest youTube videos I've ever seen. I mean, the guy who overdubbed it is a freaking genius, and he has a wicked sense of humor... If I had to choose one, I'd choose this one below, but only very narrowly. The clapping is fucking out of control hilarious!!

    And when you get done watching this one, go to video 15 of 15 on the little horizontal scroll bar in the youTube player called Iron Maiden Shreds and watch that one too. Ridiculously funny.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Out and About


poor us. this was our view., originally uploaded by jensteele.

I just spent the last six days of my life in New Mexico at a place called Ghost Ranch. I grew up 10 minutes from the San Francisco Bay nestled up against the hills that led to the Pacific Ocean, so I am not much for altitude. I spent my time at Ghost Ranch huffing and puffing as I walked from the bathroom to my bed, blowing big bloody chunks of stuff out of my nose, and undergoing one of the most personal and professional transformations ever.

It is all so new and raw to me, and the newness that is what I am becoming is still hardening in the sun, so I don't want to speak much of it until I can be solidly myself.

But, wow, the return journey is really hard. Today, I slung my purse over my shoulder and with it came all the old expectations of who I thought I was and what I thought would be okay for me to live with. As I picked up my computer bag I felt another slew of little monsters that used to be what I lived with, trying to pull me back down into the soup of what I was 7 days ago. It just goes on and on--the habitual drive to work where I usually yell at everyone driving poorly around me, the armor of personal expectations I put on when I go to work....

I am truly very blessed to be working in an environment that I played a part in creating, and that the work I do is the work I love, and that my search for my authentic self isn't at odds with the majority of my life. I don't have to hide myself to earn a living; in fact the more I don't, the better for my work.

But wow. Life out there...is that the real world, or was the life I just experienced in the last 6 days what was really real??

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Deeper Down The Rabbit Hole

Last Wednesday I posted about birth, and all these questions I have about the couples I've worked with. And to my surprise, I got three very honest, insightful and wonderful comments from three lovely ladies. The surprise came from what was said. Each of them brought up so many points, concepts, and personal stories that I didn't know how to comment, or where to even begin. I still don't, really.

But I think, right now, I just want to clarify a few things about my post. The questions I asked were directed mainly at a certain population of women and couples that I have had the pleasure of working with in the last 3 years or so.

I’m not talking about the couples who choose a homebirth. I’m not even talking about the couples who know they are getting an epidural. Those guys know what they want; I’m not concerned about them.

I’m talking about the couples who choose to give birth at a hospital, yet do not like the hospital and are very afraid of the possibility of their birth being "taken over" by the medical staff. They don't want any interventions, they want to give birth without pain meds, and they want to be free to move around, eat, and yell as they feel fit.

I’m talking about the couples who choose to try to fight the hospital's standard care giving procedures by trying for a homebirth at a hospital. There’s a certain contradiction between what they say they want and what they believe they'll get or need that is my issue here. They want a happy, cozy, unmanaged, candles and birth tubs type of homebirth in a sterile, fluorescent lights, IV needle, managed birth setting.

Essentially, all those things they told me they wanted? They would get them, almost guaranteed, at a home birth or at a free standing birth center. (PROVIDED they were deemed low risk and a good candidate for an out of hospital birth by their caregivers, PROVIDED there were no complications during labor--which the MAJORITY of ALL births are.)

Why would they choose a setting in which it is almost guaranteed they WON'T get what they want?

Two reasons, as I can see: the allure of the epidural, and the fear of death.

Calgon, Take Me Away
As much as they want to believe they can do it without meds, they want the meds nearby just in case.

That’s the contradiction at the heart of my questioning. They already assume they will fail to get what they want. They already assume they do not have what it takes to cope with the pain without drugs. They already assume they cannot do it.

That’s what I’m talking about here, people. Why do they want something so bad that deep down, they don’t believe they can have?

Let me be clear here. I have seen the wise and compassionate use of epidurals. I do not think they are evil, or bad. If a couple I worked with told me that they wanted to go straight to the hospital so that they can get their epidural as soon as possible, that's fine. I’m glad they know what they want. That’s not the issue. This post is about the couples who don't really know what they want, or don’t believe in what they want.

Death Becomes Her
The fear of maternal/infant death is very terrible, very scary, and completely terrifying. I have yet to support a couple in labor who ends up losing their child, and I am terrified of that day. I am terrified that if I have children I will loose one—but I am no more afraid of losing my child in childbirth than I am afraid of him getting hit by a car on the way to school. No one can guarantee that either scenario won’t happen. Does that make sense?

I guess it comes down to this: I believe in birth. I believe in midwives that are properly trained and experienced. I believe that more often than not, birth is not an emergency. I believe that more often than not, birth is not a medical event. And when birth becomes a medical emergency, I believe in the ability of my care providers to act quickly and accordingly. I believe in the awesome power of modern medicine to save the lives that nature tried to claim for her own.

Yes, I am na├»ve. No, I haven’t given birth. No, I don’t have my own children. So this story may change, as I get older or pregnant or more experienced.

But I have seen women overcome all the odds to bring healthy babies into this world. I have seen a woman, whom her caregivers had given up on vaginally birthing her baby and had ordered the cesarean, get up and keep trying to push her baby out—and succeeding to the surprise of the hospital staff. I have seen women cope with the unbearable pain of contractions without medication, even after hours and days of slowly progressing labor. I have seen women beaten down by the pressure of the hospital staff to comply with their procedures give up and give in to tubes and needles and medicines and disassociation. I have seen emergency cesareans where in seconds flat, the birthing mother is wheeled away by the entire nursing staff, nurse-midwives and OB, leaving the father and myself standing stunned and alone in the room that once held their hopes and dreams. I have seen high-risk births where nothing went wrong and everyone was happy and healthy at the end of the day. I have spoken with mothers who tried for a homebirth but were transported by ambulance to the hospital. I have worked with couples who had a beautiful birth and a newborn with seizures who spent her first three months on the planet in the NICU. I have worked with a mom who was trying to make sense of the loss of her infant, who died as he was being pushed out into the world.

Birth is wild; it is achingly heartbreaking, awesomely powerful, deeply terrifying. It is unpredictable, and uncontrollable. There is nothing like it in the world. I have only seen and experienced it from the outside, but I think that has given me great perspective. I have a sense of the enormous range of possibilities any one birth could be. I also have a sense of the enormous range of possibilities that a normal birth could be. I know people hire me because of my knowledge of these two things. I know that is what I bring to each couple I work with—this belief and perception of what birth can be. But why is it that some couples carry that belief themselves and so many others only wish to?


For Further Reading
For all those interested in learning more about birth in our culture.
Born in the USA: How a Broken Maternity System Must Be Fixed to Put Women and Children First by Mardsen Wagner
The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth by Henci Goer.
Obstetric Myths versus Research Realities by Henci Goer.
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ian May Gaskin
Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin
Birthing From Within by Pam England
Primal Health: Understanding the the Critical Period Between Conception and the First Birthday by Michel Odent
The Scientification of Love by Michel Odent
The Farmer and the Obstetrician by Michel Odent

That's a start.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Questions, No Answers

Remember that post about my issues with being a doula and how I wanted to save women from themselves? Well it has come to my attention that the knife cuts in both directions. These women that I work with that tell me they want a natural birth but are open to the possibility of an epidural--and almost invariably end up with an epidural--these women never truly believed in birth or themselves. They knew I did, so they asked me to believe for them, for their husbands, for the hospital staff, for everybody. Even though they could not do that for themselves.

So really, it was a mutual, contractual agreement. They would hire me, and I would carry the birth and the faith in birth and bodies for them.

So that makes me feel a little better about myself. Of course it doesn't negate my own issues with myself and needing to be needed, but it does makes clear to me why I get involved with such couples.

And really, I've already interviewed with a few couples for 2008, and still that energy persists. So, when I listen to them talk, I start to wonder several things:
  1. If they say they don't want a hospital birth why are they giving birth at a hospital?
  2. If they say they don't want a hospital birth but they are giving birth at a hospital because if anything goes wrong they want to be in the right place--doesn't that imply they expect things to go wrong?
  3. Or does it really imply that they don't trust birth, themselves, and/or their care providers to catch a bad situation before it happens?
  4. Or does it really imply that they are scared shitless of this process and feel helpless?
  5. Why don't they trust in birth?
  6. Why don't they trust in themselves?
  7. Why don't they trust their care providers?
  8. Why do parents who are scared shitless of the process and feel helpess decide to hand over control to their caregivers? Doesn't that simply perpetuate the cycle of helplessness?
  9. What's really at the core, here? What's the underlying belief that has colored all their perceptions of this event?

That's a lot of questions.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dreaming

I studied with a spiritual teacher for many years and one of the things we did was totem work. Part of the totem work was discovering my key phrases, for lack of a better term. These key phrases are the things that color my life--they are the constant themes that have been with me since I was born and probably will be with me, in varying degrees of importance, until I pass from this world into the next. I guess you could say it was like identifying my character traits, but it was more than that. It was about what kind of energy I worked with and was going to work with. It was about my life and how I had been living it and how I was going to live it.

It was about consciously choosing my life lessons, even though I had already chosen them before I was born.

Does that make sense?

Regardless, part of my work was doing these things. And one of the biggest words that come up for me time and time again, was transformation.

I have a love/hate relationship with the word now.

On one hand, transformation is all about change, and energy, and excitement, and stepping into the unknown. It is all about letting go of what isn't okay anymore and embracing what is. Transformation promises newness, freedom, constant learning, entertainment, exhilaration. That is why I love the Fall the most; for the energy this time of year is very palpable, and it feels dynamic.

However, transformation means impermanence, challenge, loss, and to a certain degree, loneliness. Nothing stays the same for long, what made sense and was real doesn't and isn't anymore, it means facing the darkness and fear and terror and pretending not to understand that the path leads that way. It means a lot of time is spent cocooned, cooking in the juices of my past and sinking into the deepness that creates my future potential.

My cocooning always seems to coincide with Mercury being in retrograde, interestingly enough. I am not blaming the planet for my current mood and state of mind, nor do I schedule my inside time based on Mercury's insistence on wandering backwards for three weeks at a time, three times a year. I usually have no idea Mercury is retrograde until I am already hardening my shell and retreating within, and from somewhere out there in Real Life somebody mentions Mercury is in retrograde. Ah ha, I think to myself as I fold in my wings and tuck in my head, that explains things.

So here I am, inside the chrysalis, dreaming my dream for the next cycle, shedding my old legs and body that are no longer of use to me, growing new things in order to do new stuff. I am not in charge of this process of transformation; my job is to ride the wave of this dark quiet mysterious ocean and to pay attention to what slides past me in the current. My job is to remember the dream, and when I hit shore and step out of my boat made of shell, to begin walking once again.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Dry Humour Man

I think one of the best things that came out of my $50 Hollywood late fee extravaganza was my introduction to the BBC series Extras.

I just watched the first three episodes of the second season--and they were brilliant. Gueststars included Orlando Bloom, David Bowie (DAVID BOWIE!), and Daniel Potter-Radcliffe. So funny. Sooooo funny.

If you haven't yet seen an episode of Extras, the premise is that Andy (Ricky Gervais) is a middle aged aspiring actor. His agent is completely useless so Andy ends up as an extra in movies and television shows amongst famous actors and actresses. The show offers up an outsiders view of the inside of the entertainment industry--complete with interaction with people like Patrick Stewart and Kate Winslet and Ben Stiller.

Extras is great--there is always a show within the show, the guest stars parody their own public personas, and there's lots of jokes revolving around very uncomfortable subjects like race, religion, disability and sexual orientation. All packaged in the lovely dry sense of humor the British are famous for.

So when you rent the second season DVD, watch the bonus features on the first disc. Especially the second feature, with David Bowie. He is brilliantly funny; who knew he was such a comedian??

Extras--seasons one and two on DVD

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Getting Back in the Beaded Stretch Velvet Saddle

I am feeling the bellydance bug again. It has been prolly over a year since I have put on any stretch velvet and shiny beaded hip scarves and given my abdomen, hips, and ass a good workout to some soul firing rhythms handed out on a doumbek.

Unfortunately, my work schedule keeps me out of bellydance classes until Saturday MORNINGS, people. You now how I feel about mornings. I may have to rework my clinic schedule. Maybe.

So for all you YouTubing readers of mine, feast your eyes, ears, and soul on some bellydance love. I don't know about you, but these make me wanna get up and dance, maybe even on a Saturday morning...

Jane Archer (my teacher) at Mendocino Camp




Souhail Kaspar drum solo with Layla Jamal

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Felines

Last week, the Stooges were over at Cookie's house for an evening of cable tv, Boone's Farm "wine," and Popeye's Chicken.

Awesome.

Apparently it was the season finale of Hell's Kitchen AND Age of Love, so we flip-flopped between the two. I've never watched either of the shows, but understand both of their basic premises. The chef show I wasn't too interested in, but the Age of Love show did have me at hello.

So for those of you who were not acquainted with the Age of Love, let me explain. Some handsome dude who I think was in the military decided he wanted not only a loving wife and partner who would bear his fruit and raise them, but also a little bit of fame and tabloid exposure. So he decided to let network television help him find his dream woman. Said network found a bunch of single, hot and sexy women, put them all in the same mansion, and sat back and watched the cat fight begin.

OHO!! But these network execs were clever when they chose the ladies: half of them were twenty somethings and the other half were forty somethings! It was like a science experiment! Would the older women who were more experienced, mature, and a little street-wiser beat out the perky little girls who didn't know a thing about life and still giggled about lip gloss? So much suspense!!

And even though all I watched were parts of the last episode, when predictably he was choosing between a "Kitten" and a "Cougar" (their descriptives, not mine) I really wanted the dude (who was in his 30's) to choose the Cougar. Mostly because I am now past the Kitten stage and like many single women older than 29 those little perky ones seems a little...threatening. Just like that Sex in the City episode where Carrie couldn't help but wonder if the Kittens were the enemy?

It makes my insecure non-Kitten ass feel old and wrinkly.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, he chose the Kitten. Boo. Cookie and I were not impressed.

As we mused post-show about the tendencies of men to lust for Kittens more than sexy hot mature Cougars, we couldn't help but wonder, if 20-somethings are the Kittens and 40-somethings are the Cougars, where did that leave us 30-somethings?

Cookie decided we're the Taints.

And, scene.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hey, Do I Still Have A Blog?

I think I have been forgetting lately that I have a blog that I wanted to keep up with.

Nothing very blog worthy has been happening of late. I am trying my best to rent and watch 8+ new movies from Hollywood this month. Maybe that's why I am not blogging much.

I got suckered into their MVP program, which actually was a smart move because I apparently owed them $50 in late fees that I had accumulated over the last 3 months of 2006. When they told me I owed them $50 in late fees I just stared at them blankly with my mouth open, and I am not embellishing to make a better story. I really did stand there, blankly staring with mouth agape.

These were the things that were going through my mind as I stared at them:
Fifty dollars!

In late fees!

What the hell!

So the boy servatron suggested signing up for the MVP at the mid level, because as a incentive they waive all late fees. So for 14.99, Hollywood video would waive my $50 in late fees, and I'd get to rent 2 movies at a time for 30 days for free. I could cancel at any time, like the next day, and I would still remain in the program for the thirty days.

So I did it.

That was last month.

However, I am still in the program because I waltzed in at the end of the month and wanted to cancel the program. But I was a day late and they had already automatically enrolled me for another month. (It's a 30 DAY program, not a monthly program, as I was reminded.)

Oh.

So we canceled my subscription so that Hollywood doesn't have the chance to re-enroll me, and I am on a mission to get my money's worth.

I mean, I'm not mad nor do I feel taken advantage of, nor do I feel a need to rail against the corporate whores of Hollywood Video, Inc, I just want to watch a ton of movies.
    In the past six weeks I have rented:
  • Flannel Pajamas (SUCKED ASS)
  • Dreamgirls (Not so bad, just kind of long)
  • History Boys (enjoyed)
  • Hollywoodland (never ended up watching it)
  • Conversation(s) With Women (pretty decent, interesting premise, little depressing)
  • The Queen (I love Helen Mirren)
  • Extras, season one disc one (Ricky Gervais is brilliant at the uncomfortable monologue)
  • The Pursuit of Happyness (good movie, loved seeing the 'loin, that kid is fucking adorable goddammit)
  • The Last Kiss (intense, I thought it would be more funny, kind of depressing)

Wow! I've seen more than I thought!

Next up: Notes on a Scandal.

I need a funny movie, pronto.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

At Least I'm In Sync With the Planets!

And lo, look what shows up in my inbox this morning...

Venus in Retrograde: Not The Summer Of Love
from Moses Siregar at Astrology for the Soul

Poor Venus. First she had to go into her Fall in Virgo, a sign much too hard-working and self-critical for Venus’s fine, mellow tastes; the ancient astrologers said this is where Venus is the most depressed. Then she had to retrograde on July 27th, the equivalent of her turning into a she-werewolf just in time for the Full Moon. On top of that, she’s currently hemmed between Saturn on the one side, and the South Node of the Moon (Ketu) on the other side. So not only is she a little depressed, self-critical, and overworked in Virgo, her normal energy is flowing backwards creating blockages to the normal flow of relationships and other things we love because she’s retrograde; and she’s also surrounded by big, mean planets that are making her feel even more rejected and criticized and alone. Poor, poor Venus.

If you’re not feeling especially down about something in your life right now, such as a relationship, your work, or something that you particularly love and value, then I’d say consider yourself lucky. This is more likely to affect people with an emphasis on Taurus and Libra, though, whether in tropical-Western astrology or sidereal-Vedic astrology. But it’s in the air for all of us, too.

As they say, something’s gotta give. Venus is an unhappy camper at the moment, no doubt about it, but profound changes often require an unusually challenging circumstance to trigger them. So we need to understand what’s going on.

Thousands of years ago a wise, old Chinese sage said, “Go with the flow.” And currently, Venus has little outward flow. Relationships and self-esteem are at a low point. The nectar of life tastes, in some important personal arenas, more bitter than sweet. Something feels austere, serious, and unfulfilling. So what could be good about that?

Maybe a few things.

When the pleasure principle is at her nadir, it can be very helpful to look within. In fact, this is a way of going with the flow of a currently inward/retrograde Venus. Take a step back from some of your relationships and some of the things you really love—you know, the ones that aren’t flowing right now. Instead, relate to your Self. Meditate regularly or do a yoga practice. Spend time alone in nature or reading spiritual texts. Because this IS a good time to connect with yourself. That’s a key.

Maybe your self-esteem or sense of enjoyment is a little less robust right now. If so, that’s okay. Don’t take it too personally. This makes it a perfect time to focus on the practice of humility. Spend time praying on your knees, or with your head on the floor in salutation pose. Read the Tao Te Ching. Contemplate how much more you have to learn and grow, and be less critical of others. Remember that a tree can be uprooted by a storm, but the humble blade of grass just bends and sways back and forth; there is a profound spiritual teaching and natural law in this. The meek shall inherit the Earth; I don’t think that means that we can’t be powerful and creative, but that our hearts should be light, forgiving, and positive while we remember there is a much greater power than that of our ego.

Maybe you’ve felt more criticized or rejected than normal. Maybe you can face some tough things about yourself through this, but otherwise know that that’s the planetary mood right now; so don’t let it get you too down. And realize that you too may be causing others to feel this way right now. So try to be a little kinder. Be a little gentler. The principle of love may be weak right now, and others may seem harsh, but that’s all the more reason to be generous and noble. Someone’s gotta do it.

Maybe the external world seems more like a harsh and grim place than usual. This is your reminder, then, to nurture your inner world. Re-commit to personal practices that uplift you. Surround yourself with spiritual teachings that inspire you. Open your heart and surrender to whatever you believe in as G-d. Bend low, and you’ll be spared the swinging axe that serves to chop off all the heads that have grown too big. Because with Venus so besieged, it's a more appropriate time to enjoy the inner life.

Maybe work feels like too much work. Maybe love feels like too much work. Maybe life feels like too much work. Hang in there, friend. Try to stay positive. Don’t go into self-destructive mode. Try to be thankful for what you have; that will always create more of what you want and need—another metaphysical truth.

And then there’s the possibility of a breakthrough, that thing that’s gotta give. Maybe you need to make a real change. If so, it’s probably going to take a heavy mood like this to really change your point of view. This too shall pass, but that doesn’t mean this too doesn’t carry an important message. Something IS off right now. Meditate on that. Sit with it, every day if need be. Calm your mind and let the answer and clarity arise from within you. Keep trying. Persevere and keep asking, and the answer you need will come.

Venus will be retrograde until September 8th. During this time, don’t be surprised if some important relationship(s) or something that you really love isn’t flowing. If so, you might want to take a step back, focus on yourself, and give yourself some time to reevaluate your goals and values. This is no small matter; it could be life-changing. But the beautiful thing about it is that we have an opportunity to check in with ourselves and become really honest about where we’re at. Then we can find a new reason, or a renewed reason, for being and loving.


Astrology For The Soul Home

Monday, July 30, 2007

A Leave Of Absence

I announced last month to my doula group that I wanted a leave of absence for the remainder of the year. I am obligated to attend one birth in early September, and that will be my last of 2007. I don't know about 2008.

I haven't had much fun being a doula these days. I did as many births in the first half of this year as I have in the 3 years before I joined my doula group. It was great, but I stopped enjoying them. I started wondering when some of these moms were going to get their epidurals so I could go home and sleep. I started not caring if I wasn't able to make it to their births. I began to have a hard time wanting to connect with some of my clients. I felt more and more emotionally distant from this work.

Part of it is that this job is hard. Being on call sucks ass. Working for 12-24 hours straight, without sleeping or taking more than 30 minutes off can be hard.

But for me, the hardest thing of all was not being able to help these women do it naturally.

You see, I have a lot of personal investment in birth. I believe all women, well most women, could have a natural childbirth. The majority of them don't, because of modern medicine, modern society, modern lifestyles, lack of good support, lack of belief in oneself and the process, lack of determination, too many choices, blah blah blah. In short, I think most women opt out of doing it.

Don't you see the problem with that line of thinking? I am judging all women who don't have the kind of birth I think they should have. I am placing my values on these women and expecting them to live up to my beliefs.

So birth has become a disappointment for me. I've been to too many medically managed births. And it is sapping my love for this job.

A part of my brain can see how whiny I am being about all this, but I have to honor the fact that I have a problem with my job, because I have a problem with me. I need to feel helpful. I need to feel important. I need to feel necessary. I chose the healing professions because my jobs could give me those feelings. Which are all the wrong reasons to be in this field, anyway. These jobs I have shouldn't be about stroking or validating my own ego.

So being a doula was about me being helpful to these women who have a very real need. I wanted to save them from themselves, I wanted to save these women from the managed, medicalized birth. I wanted these women to emerge victorious after facing their deepest fears and doubts, and I wanted to help them do it.

That's the problem, kids. I wanted to save them from themselves.

In a way, it is every doula's dilemma, for all doulas believe quite passionately in natural childbirth, yet every doula finds more work supporting couples who have hospital births. This means that most of the time, a home birth/natural birth believer and supporter will be working for women who do not share that belief.

So I know I am not the first to be feeling this way about this job. I am not the first to become disillusioned by the reality of birth in America today. But I am quite the dreamer, and more fragile than you think, and it hurts me to the core to see all these families start life in what I believe to be such a disjointed way.

I don't know how to reconcile my beliefs about birth with the reality of birth. I could do only homebirths from now on, I could apprentice with a home birth midwife to provide more opportunities for women to choose a gentler, more feminine kind of birth. I could shelter myself so. I would still see hospital transfers and the like, but a much smaller percentage.

But to do so, I have to deal with this burning desire to save women from themselves. Because to turn to homebirth only would me make feel like I was turning my back on the women and families that needed me most.

I have a lot of work to do around this issue. It goes right down to the core of who I am. I've always needed to be needed in order to feel safe, solid, human. Otherwise, I'm just a whisper of a fragment of a memory, nothing real, nothing present, nothing important.

See, lots of work to do.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The End

DON'T WORRY, NO SPOILERS

(Nice widget over there-->)

Well, I got my Harry Potter book Saturday morning at 12:20 am, and I finished Saturday evening around 8:20.

I swear, this book gave me high blood pressure and anxiety. If my health was any more delicate, I might have had a heart attack or a stroke.

Would somebody PLEASE finish the book so we can talk? Geez.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ITS HARRY POTTER JELLY TIME

I saw HPATOOTP last night (Order of the Phoenix) and for the most part I was really impressed. I think this is the best HP book to movie adaptation so far.

I did miss the Valentine's Day scene at Madam Puddifoot's, where Cho turns into the Human Hosepipe. Harry and the Potters did a nice song about it.

Anyhoo.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS COMES OUT ON A FEW DAYS

I know I haven't been blogging much, but I will be blogging even less come Friday night. The only thing I have to do this weekend that will take me away from Book 7 will be a massage Sunday morning, and I need it. And who knows, I could be done with the book then and crying all over the place.

So everyone likes to predict who will die, but has anyone any theories on how Harry will defeat Voldemort? Is Harry really going to become a killer?

I doubt it, but then how will it all go down? And how many of his friends are going to die in the process? And if Harry doesn't die, what the hell will he do with his life?

All these questions, and more, will be answered FRIDAY NIGHT AT MIDNIGHT!

See you on the other side...

Monday, July 09, 2007

the worst part about a bedroom with a screenless window at ground level

things to do

1. clean up room.

1. kill spiders in room.

2. clean up room.

2. take shower to wash off any potential spider left lurking in hair

3. clean room.

4. strip bed; look for spiders.

5. wash bedsheets and clothes to kill off any potential spiders hiding in the sheets waiting to lay eggs in your ear while you sleep, or bite and poison you when you put on your favorite t-shirt

6. vacuum floors and rug and all the corners and walls and behind pictures and under the bed and everywhere

7. consider vacuuming the yard to get rid of all the spiders you trapped and threw out there in your moments of weakness

8. consider bombing the outside because there are tons of spiders out there, waiting to sneak in the window and get you while you sleep

9. another shower to cleanse self

10. consider psych meds for present mental state

11. eat a couple of milk chocolate digestives instead

12. sleep with the lights on, upstairs on the couch

Saturday, July 07, 2007

"your crazy ass"


aahhh--the assortment, originally uploaded by jensteele.

saint cupcake has pretty tasty cupcakes. i mean, look at them, their frosting to cupcake ratio is pretty serious.

they also have a little blog attached to their website and because i like their cupcakes i put their blog in my site feed.

and today, i found this posting which made me laugh and now i would like to eat one of their cupcakes every day as a thank you.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

child of thunder

when i was in hudson visiting the stinky last week, i watched some footage of the boys performing on stage.

i didn't get to see them play live, unfortunately. half the band was out of town; they won't play a show until july 2.

watching the footage of stinky and the band up on stage was really eye opening for me. he is an amazing man. i watched him, up there, playing his heart out, and i've never seen him look so alive. he was electric, he was fire, he brought the thunder and the lightning down through him. i've never seen anyone play like that before. i've never seen anyone channel so much energy like that before. he's magical, that stinky.

it reminded me of the first time we met--we are an online couple, and so we arranged to meet one sunday afternoon at my clinic. when he opened the door and walked in, he brought all this light and energy into the room with him. it was crazy. and really cool. just like him.

we kissed later that night, in the center of a labyrinth. he was going to get to the center first--i asked him to wait for me and he paused for a moment, got all serious, and said he would wait for me. he watched me from the center where he waited, and when i approached the center where he stood, he smiled at me, held out his hands, and i walked right into his arms. i began to give him my heart right there.

a year later when he told me he was moving to NY, i was crushed. i was devastated. i could only think about what it must mean about us. if i wasn't coming with him, then we must be breaking up. if he didn't ask me to come, he must not care about me that much. i was confused and heartbroken, angry and bewildered. nothing made sense to me. i couldn't reconcile our past with our present, i couldn't reconcile what i felt in my heart with the mental constraints i lived by. nothing was right.

but seeing that footage, seeing him onstage doing what he loves and is called to do, it made everything make sense. i get it now. and someday, when two gun man come to your town, i hope you do, too.

i love him so much. i love him so much that it almost seems to overwhelm me, like i'm not big enough to contain all the love i feel for this child of thunder. our road together may become harder yet as two gun man shop for a label and begin to promote and tour like crazy. there could be very dark times ahead for us. but i know that there is no one else in the world whom i love as i do this man, and that my life is much richer and vivid and magical with him in it. i could live without him, sure, and find a deep love with some other guy somewhere, but i choose him. i choose to stay put, and to let this overwhelming love pour through me and make my heart bigger, more open, more tender. i choose to face this terrifying uncertainty and let it teach me about faith, trust, love, and strength. i choose these things because every cell in body sings to do so, i choose to do it because he deserves no less.

i do it because he is the stinky, the bringer of the thunder and lightning, and i am in love.

what

the fuck is going on with my site feed for eat my cake?

i hate it when good technology goes bad.

Monday, June 25, 2007

liamshow.com is ridiculous

It it hot and humid over here in the Hudson River Valley. But I am having a lot of fun.

My friend Brains showed me this youtube video before I left, and it is the campiest of camp. Which means that it is AWESOME.

Play that video!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How It Is Beginning

I'm at the Portland Airport. It is 9:45 am, and my flight leaves at 12:55. I guess I'll be on time for my flight.

First off, PDX is my favorite airport of all time because there is FREE WiFi, and I can sit and people watch and blog, all at once! Hooray for the technological terrors.

I have had about 30 min of sleep in the last 2 days. I am hunched over and bleary eyed. I keep noticing people looking at me and I don't think it's my freshly washed hair that smells faintly of roses. I think its because I look a little undead.

I had a doula client who was supposed to have been due around June 9th. So I thought planning a trip for June 21st would be just fine. First time moms go overdue, but usually not too much.

This mom started her trek to the labor labryrinth on Tuesday. I thought there was a small chance she'd actually hit active labor before I left. I got her a backup doula, and felt much better about things.

Yesterday she continued to be in early labor. She came in and got a treatment mainly because she wanted something to do. As the day progressed into evening, I figured she'd hit active labor sometime in the wee hours and I'd call in the backup.

We spoke on the phone around 10:30 pm and she was getting ready to go to sleep. Still early labor. I was convinced I was going to miss her birth.

11:30. Call from the husband. COME NOW, he says. I hear loud moaning/yelling in the background. ARE YOU COMING NOW? Yes, I reply. OKAY, GOTTA GO. He almost didn't hang up in his rush to attend to his wife.

I hang up. FUCK.

When I got to their house it didn't take long for me to decide it was time we get to the birth center. She looked like she was in transition to me!

Maybe 45 min later we arrive at the birth center, the midwife starts filling up the tub, and we settle in...so to speak.

2:30 am. She's feeling pushy. She starts pushing.

5:00 am. Still pushing. I call in the backup.

6:00 am. Backup doula arrives. Baby is born.

6:17 am. I'm outta there!

I come home, shower, pet kittens, feed kittens, get dressed and finish packing, and fall asleep on the couch for 30 min before my ride shows up.

FUCK.

And then once I get here, I discover my flight is delayed 90 min.

FUCK.

Zombie time.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The One And Only

I freaking love Tyra Banks. She is a crazy, over the top, diva in the making with two, TWO crazy assed television shows that are mostly about herself, even when they don't seem like they are about herself. Somehow she can sneak herself into any situation, serious and tragic or otherwise. I love that about her.

Her talk show is a little bit of a train wreck but also totally fabulous and I also love her for that. She can do a dumb show about the latest fashion lines from some of her favorite (ie whack-job) designers, and then the next day do a show about date rape that is really quite touching.

I also love her latest cause of loving women that are normal sized. Thank god somebody is making this an issue, and I think it is delicious that it is Tyra, who gained weight and finally looks like she's healthy.

I admire her and laugh at her all at the same time, and she has won my love begrudgingly, which makes it even better. I just can't help it. You love who you love, no explaining necessary.

Miss Tyra Banks at the daytime Emmy Awards

Thursday, June 14, 2007

better than a tag cloud

ode to zetta



because of her
the sun wants to share
its rays of life
and the plant kingdom
wants to
photosynthesize
because of her
big fluffy dogs wait
in crates
and velvet noses
look for love
because of her
communist medicine is
less communist and
more magical
because of her
you are reading this silly blog
and looking at my
self indulgent photos
because of her
this world isn't such a bad place
because of her

Going On A Trip

I know, I have been conspicuously absent from EBTC.

Here are my excuses:

1. If you haven't noticed, I've been baking quite a bit. Those always end up being long and involved posts with photos to upload and links to generate, waah, waah, waah. It takes me a couple of days to post after I bake, and once posted, I am spent.

2. I just don't have much to say these days. Aside from whining about my lack of posting.

3. My sister and I are playing phone tag so I don't have her drunk dialing 911 story yet.

4. My new roomie (Joelf! Hooray!) has been entertaining an out of town friend for the last four days and I have been helping entertain...and not getting much sleep.

5. I just got an iPod and I am spending a lot of time on my computer messing around with it...and getting completely sick of being on the computer.

6. If you don't read my cakeblog you might not have noticed that the Stinky came to visit and we are back in each other's lives. I spend a lot of time on the phone to upstate NY now.

As much as I tried to evict him from my life and my heart I completely and utterly failed. I really didn't want to be in love with him anymore, but my heart rebelled against my brain and one day when we were pleasantly chatting about nothing I started crying and my heart took hold of the phone and spilled my awful secret: that I was still in love with him and wanted to be with him. My awful secret turned out to be the doorway into a place where we could be open and honest and tender with each other, and things have been quite lovely since then. And I'm off to go visit him on Thursday.

There is something comforting in the fact that as much as I didn't want to still be in love with him, every cell in my body rejected that notion and pulled me closer to him regardless. I struggled for so long against what I was naturally drawn towards, that when I finally surrendered to my longings for him it was a sweet, sweet feeling of release.

Before you throw up, I'll also have you know that I am re-reading the Harry Potters and am deep in Order of the Phoenix.

So I don't leave for NY until next Thursday, but I have a lot to do before I go, so don't be surprised if you don't hear much from me until July...just hold onto your horses and donkeys and have a great end of the month!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fun With HTML

I added a tag cloud over there on the right -->

I did a google search for blogger tag cloud html or something like that and I used this webpage's HTML and detailed instructions to do it.

I don't have to give props, but I am so excited by my tag cloud, and that this person's blog made it happen, all for free!

Then, I needed to convert some font colors I wanted to use from hexadecimal to RGB code, and another google search led me to this website, which helped me do it.

Nice. I love the internet.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Hot Day, and a Funny Sister

Today is the first hot day in Portland. Portland explodes with people when it gets sunny and warm--I am always amazed when I see so many people out walking, running, cycling...I mean, where the hell were these people two days ago?

Anyway, my sister sent me an email today with a link to a video, and both are too funny not to share:
ECL's sister writes: this is a funny clip! by the way, according to stacy's reference below, did i ever tell you the story where i got so drunk i thought i was dying so i called the fire dept? if not, remind me to tell you AND include the mcdonald's story. ha ha!!!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Stacy
Date: May 21, 2007 10:31 AM
Subject: 911
To: ECL's sister


Couple things to consider while watching this clip:

1. You're not the only person who has ever called 911 thinking they were dying from drinking too much (or in the case eating too much)
2. Just be thankful you are not in law enforcement

(I would pay big bucks for the recording of your 911 call or better yet a video of your McDonald's drive-thru snafu the next day.)

Classic.




I don't know the story my sister is referencing, but I do know that during my senior year in undergrad my parents called me up to tell me that they had sent my sister MY birth certificate so that she could get A FAKE ID.

What the hell kind of parents do that??

I can't wait to call her up tomorrow and hear her story about drunk dialing 911. Nice!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Well, It Happened


courtesy of the london grill, originally uploaded by jensteele.

As of 9:55 am yesterday, I'm now officially 34.

My friends are the best friends EVER--they made sure I had a great birthday. And the fun doesn't stop yet--Monday is the Stooges' Day Out, so we are going to keep on celebrating...having a birthday on a three day weekend is AWESOME.

Hope your long weekend is equally as fabulous!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

On Turning 34

The day is fast approaching when my life clock ticks forward one more year.

*Tick*

You know, I sometimes wish I could shut that damn clock up. I mean it. SHUT UP, STUPID CLOCK!

*Tick*

34 really isn't that bad. It really isn't that old. I really don't have much to complain about.

Except for that clock.

I can get all metaphysical about that clock by reminding myself that the female principle, the Yin, of this world is the physicalness that makes this world seem real. The female principle is all about time, and beginnings and endings, physicality, dense, heavy, slow, cold, dark, mystery, unknown. Yin is the bowl that holds the eternal, Yin is the Mother that is constantly giving birth to time, Yin is the Earth that the Heavens are constantly trying to reach.

So that stupid clock ticking away, is really just the Yin principle acting itself out through me, a woman, a carrier of the Yin principle, an agent of time and the conduit for the gates of life and death, the beginning and the end. Like all women.

*Tick tock, tick tock*

Sigh. Isn't there a quiet mode for that thing??

** All About Gemini--from Astrology.com

Gemini is the most lighthearted sign in the zodiac, hands down. The Twins' circle of acquaintances is as varied as their interests, so they see an awful lot of invitations. Of all the reasons we love to have our Gemini pals around, their wit comes first. These folks find humor in absolutely everything, and their ability to say what's on their minds in an extremely entertaining fashion is world-famous and well deserved. These word-wizards and storytellers are able to uncannily impersonate anyone and anything at the drop of a hat. That includes accents, gestures and subtle idiosyncrasies that no one else would ever notice -- but then, if Gemini were a business, its motto would be 'Details-R-Us.'

True to the nature of its ruling planet, Mercury, Gemini is also quite communicative. So during those rare times when these talkative Twins are actually alone and not chatting on the phone, IMing with a friend or answering their voluminous email, they're probably on the phone or the Internet, or poking away at their Blackberries with a vengeance. If not, Geminis will manage to keep those restless minds active by doodling or solving puzzles and word games.

As for the dualities this sign is famous for? They're all true. In reality, there are a lot more than just two sides to the average Gemini, and each facet of this versatile sign has a fascinating story to tell. All that being said, it's easy to see that the one thing they just can't stand is being bored, tied down or isolated. 'Variety is the spice of life' is this sign's very own motto, and Gemini lives every second with that motto in mind.

So if you're a Gemini yourself, you know this all boils down to the fact that you can't stand being in a rut -- especially when it comes to relationships. Your sign has been called fickle more than once, but that's not fair. The Twins are perfectly capable of being faithful, as long as the person they're with is witty and interesting enough to keep them interested. No, it's not an easy task, but it's well worth it. Life with a Gemini is full of constant activity, endless movement and even more fun. And you can bet they won't scatter their affections if they can find someone who'll be willing to at least try to keep up. Gemini, whether you're a friend or a lover, you're one of the main reasons life on this planet can be fun for the rest of us -- so accept our thanks for just being you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hooray!

My future husband won Dancing With The Stars!!

I would like to believe that it was my votes that turned the tide for him.

Congratulations to Apolo Anton Ohno (and his dance partner Julianne Hough), and Apolo, give me a call when you're ready to settle down.



Note: for all of you people who are coming here for this photo, you can find the original shot here.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The things you learn when you come home.

I spent the weekend at my parent's house and alas, no real chance to post. I wrote this Sunday night, May 6.


I am at my parent’s house in sunny California this weekend. My sister came down from San Francisco to spend the weekend here as well, and tonight her boyfriend drove down for a family dinner.

Mom made lamb, using fresh herbs from her garden. She roasted new potatoes and steamed asparagus. She laid out a fresh plate of tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado. Dad opened a pinot noir and we ate outside next to the rosebushes and orchids.

The wine loosened my mom’s tongue, like usual, and out flowed this story about her father, and her, and me. I don’t remember her father very well. He died in the Philippines when I was in the first grade. For a while he lived in the bay area and mom had told me several years ago that she and I would go visit him every week in the old person’s home he lived in while he was here. I don’t really remember going, but I do have a sort of still picture in my mind of an old, bald, Pilipino man sitting across from me, leaning a little forward on his cane, with a look of sorrow and an imploring expression, like he had just asked me to do something really really important and wanted me to understand completely and say yes. The still photo in my mind gives off the impression that there was a large chasm between him on his chair and me across from him—one that would never be crossed, no matter how much he may have wished it.

Tonight I learned that he had a stroke when he was 59. He had another stroke some years later and soon developed Parkinson’s disease. He shook so bad that he couldn’t eat, or stand on his own, and mom got him into a treatment study that Stanford was doing. She said that three times a week, while dad was at work, she would drive down to Santa Clara to pick up her father and take him to Stanford for his treatment. I was about 1 ½ years old, and my sister was a newborn. Mom would haul the three of us there and back.

Stanford put him into a treatment study which mom said helped my grandfather, to the point where he could walk again and feed himself.

Then mom said that the side effects of the treatment began to manifest in her dad as crazy. I guess one night he tried to kill my grandmother because he thought she was an intruder. My grandmother I guess called the cops. Mom says the next morning she took us down to see what had happened, and that when she walked in, her dad started hitting her about with his cane. Mom did all she could to protect us from him.

He ended up in a brand new residential senior living institution. That’s where we would go see him every week.

Mom says the whole ward would know when the Angeles daughter was coming—that was mom—because she’d bring her kids with her. I was always decked out in the latest goofy outfit my grandmother made me—apparently everything I ever wore as a little child my grandmother had sewn by hand for me—which always had pockets. Apparently I would stuff my pockets full of candy so that when we got there, I could give all the old people candy. I wouldn’t leave the house until I got my pockets all stuffed with candy. Mom says that most of those people never got visitors, so they were all excited when we would come by, and they would stand there with their hands out while I would place candy in each of their hands. Mom says many of them would cry. Mom says she would cry. Mom says that I would ask after my grandpa’s roommates when I didn’t see them, and I would have to be told that they had died. I guess that happened a lot. Knowing myself, I probably took my job really seriously. Knowing myself, I probably understood how important it was for me to give all those lonely old people candy. I was about 2 years old.

I’m sad that I don’t remember any of that. I’m sad that all I remember of my grandfather is a frozen image and a sense of loss. He was an educator and loved history; he dreamed of coming to the US and seeing the historic places. He loved WWII history and wanted to see Europe. It was a sad thing that when he finally came to this country he was a broken old man in a wheelchair, and he never got to travel like he had dreamed.

My mother didn’t get along with him very well when she was growing up. He was a very domineering and controlling man, my mother told me. Mom is very stubborn and headstrong so you can guess how many times they clashed. One of my aunties, mom’s older sister, told me once that he wasn’t as strict or terrible as mom makes him out to be. She told me that every Sunday he would get all 9 of his children together and have them sing. He taught them to harmonize and my auntie said that was one of the best memories she has of her childhood.

After a couple of years in the nursing home, his head seemed to have straightened out and he told mom that he wanted to die at home. Home being the Philippines, in the house he had built for his family.

The youngest daughter was still living in that house, so she agreed to look after him. Two years later, he passed away.


There is a lot of sadness in my life right now. There is a lot of loss and grieving going on. There is a lot of heartbreak and hurt right now in people around me. I feel kind of like the eye of the storm. I am trying hard to hold down the center and bring as much love and healing to the hurricane that I can. I didn’t realize how much my heart could break in response to another person’s grief. I don’t know why my mom started talking about her dad tonight. I do know that I needed to hear her story about him, and that adding him to those being grieved seems right.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Zetta Asks, I Talk

Zetta tagged me.

1. Why cake?

I almost don't understand this question, because it is CAKE, people, CAKE! Cake is awesome.

When I was a kid, we had cookies and Cadbury chocolate lying around on a regular basis. My grandma (the Canadian one) would come stay with us every winter and she'd bake pies like there was no tomorrow. But cake, cake would only be served for birthdays. Cake meant something fun and celebratory was going on, cake meant parties and presents, cake meant that for a day, it was all about you. Nobody baked cakes in my family--so we would go to the local bakery, or when that closed, the local Safeway, and the birthday person got to pick out their cake. I would always deliberate carefully about my birthday cake. I didn't want a cake I would regret, but I also didn't want to get stuck in a cake rut.

I loved everything about cake, from the sweet piped frosting made from shortening, to the pretty layers of cake-filling-cake-frosting on the inside, to the contrasting textures of soft, creamy, crunchy. Even as a kid I was a cake connoisseur and knew the difference between a good cake from a real bakery and a shitty one with rubbery layers and terrible cheap tasteless whipped cream frosting with airbrushed pictures. Even as a kid I would be pissed off when I would go to a birthday and the shitty kind of cake would be served.

People don't know anymore what real cake is. That shit from a box isn't real cake. That is shit. That rubbery ass stuff you can get at big box "bakery" sections is ass. Since the decline of the neighborhood bakery the grocery stores have picked up the slack--or maybe the grocery stores ran the bakeries out of business. Their cakes are mediocre to fairly decent at best. But there are even some bakeries in town that make a crappy product. The people want their cake to taste like that shit from a box, and so the bakeries that are still in business have to accommodate that taste. Which is fucked up, people. Bakeries should be educating the unwashed masses: "you want cake people? I said, you want cake? I'll BRING IT, and YOU'LL EAT IT, and YOU'LL LIKE IT."

I bake cakes because I love cake. I love what cake stands for--a celebration, a special occasion, a milestone. I give birthday cakes as the birthday presents because the people I love deserve a real cake for their day. I use the best ingredients that I can get--and that adds up to the best tasting cake. I bake cakes because I have an awesome cake book and I can make an awesome, REAL cake really easy. I don't have magic baking hands. I have a great cookbook and a strong desire to follow directions.

So in a nutshell, I love cake like a fat kid loves cake.

2. Who is your favorite Southpark character, and why?
Please cite examples.


Cartman, hands down. I mean, duh, who else on television can kill a kid's parents, cook them up in a chili, and feed this chili to the kid? And only to get revenge for being duped by a pubic hair joke? Cartman is life's jester; he is the rule breaker that keeps us all free.

Plus, his mom was on the cover of Crack Whore Magazine.

3. What animals do you identify with most?

Bears. My favorite part of Borat was when they were traveling with the bear. I want to travel with a bear! And go swimming with him in the pool!

I have a secret dream of cuddling up with a big ol grizzly bear, all sleepy and bloated from eating huckleberries and moths all day (the bear, not me), and me being able to slide in and be enveloped in the thick, coarse, probably stinky, warm bear fur and the two of us would nap in the afternoon sun.

Besides, I have an ass that resembles a grizzly bear. We must be related.

Dolphins. Squeaky and fast. And they always seem like they are laughing at us hairless monkeys. I like that in an animal. And they live in large community groups and know how to get along, and they are social and fun loving and have sex for the enjoyment of it, not just to procreate, and they are smart and adaptive and some groups have learned to cooperate with tuna to get food and they all feed together. Watching wild dolphins race around in the ocean always makes me cry. Even through a television set their overwhelming joy and exuberance is a palpable force that fills my heart and overwhelms me to tears. It's as if their echolocation can reach me through the tv and I feel it as wild, pure, fiery joy.

There are other animals, of course, but that is a good place to start.

I generally have an easier time identifying with mammals over other life forms, although sometimes a tree and me can get into a pretty heavy conversation. Trees like to laugh at us hairless monkeys too. I like that in a plant.

4. Do you think there is a such thing as impossible?

Only if you believe impossible is possible.

5. Is natural childbirth for everyone, or are there some people who just need drugs and surgery?

Yes and no.

There was a time, before hospitals and pharmaceuticals, where natural childbirth was for everyone because we had no choice. Women had to figure out how to do it. The only other option was death.

And death happened, a lot.

I have a lot of theories about how life might have been like back then, how pain and hardship might have been accepted as a normal part of everyday, and that we might have had a better understanding of how to roll with life's punches.

But also, a lot of women and babies died.

Now we have choices. Almost too many choices. And sometimes it seems as though all of our choices end up saving us from ourselves. Sometimes it seems like we can opt out by choosing modern medicine instead of muddling through the trials of fire and ice and learning about our own deepest strengths.

But all of that is just my judgment call, you know?

A woman gets a stack of cards at the beginning of her child's labor. Sometimes her deck includes a gentle birth, or a textbook birth, or fetal distress, a fourth degree tear, a precipitous birth, or prodromal labor. She doesn't get to control what goes into her deck; she can only control how she works with and responds to her circumstances.

Sometimes a woman gets the four day birth and stalls out at 8 cm dilated in the early morning of the 4th day. Sometimes she needs some help to finish. Before modern medicine, what could she have done? If she hemorrhaged really seriously or tore really deeply or the baby had trouble thriving in the first hours of life, chances are she or the baby might die.

Death, maternal or fetal, is not an option in modern medicine. Death has become unacceptable in our culture as an outcome of a situation.

So modern medicine does everything it can to control the uncontrollable, and in 99.9% of the time, it can guarantee freedom from the possibility of death.

What laboring mother wouldn't ask for those odds when her child is at stake?

So natural childbirth is for everyone, because childbirth is a natural process.

However, sometimes a woman needs to opt out of the journey to the underworld (where she goes to get her baby) because she doesn't have the right support, or she wasn't prepared, or she doesn't believe in her own depths of strength.

And sometimes a woman gets handed a deck stacked against a natural birth such that if there will be two lives at the end of the process, modern medicine must intervene and control the process.

Friday, April 20, 2007

SNL - Digital Short - A Special Christmas Box

I know you have already seen it, and seen it, and seen it. But what the hell, see it one more time. It will be a good way to start the weekend.

Sing with me now: "it's my dick in a box..."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vader Sessions



i probably need to get out more often...but not until i see this one more time.

(found on OK Go's youtube profile.)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Spring Snowfall, Loud Coffeeshops

It is spring in Portland, Oregon.

This is a photo from my flickr page. I am obligated to tell you that.

Click on the photo to see it big, so that you can see the petal snow in the air.



All those lovely flowers and all those petals and pollen?

Make my eyes all puffy and swollen like this:

me, puffy eyed from allergies and sleepy


And also:
I was in the WORST coffee shop yesterday evening with yelling children, semi-orgiastic teenage girls on the couches, stupid adults yelling over the loud cacophonous music the dead-eyed servatron decided to play, and idiots who decided their large party of 5-8 people had to crowd around the 2-top right behind me instead of sitting across the room where there were plenty of empty tables.

It was an exercise in patience, and I failed.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Poor Keira, and How Cool is Gmail!

1. Poor Keira Knightley. She got fugged again. And I laughed out loud in the coffee shop--them fug girls are funny.

2. I am currently IM chatting with my sister using the gmail IM thingy! How fun is that! We are talking about setting up a petting zoo. She and I have terribly large and very soft spots for animals. I sometimes prefer stinky animals to people. No offense, people.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A Story About a Donkey and a Horse



As this post stands it isn't my favorite because it changes narrative style or what-have-you halfway through, but I can't seem to find a good way to fix it am extraordinarily lazy and it is a cute little piece of fiction.

To all the wild horse boys and their little donkey girls.

Once upon a time there a was little donkey who lived by the river in a delicious patch of clover. She was a fairly happy donkey, but she always dreamed of having a horse boy for a friend. She thought he'd be strong in his sense of self, a good protector, a little wild and very firey. She thought he would be someone who carried a lot of joy, and expressed it with every move he made, who knew who he was and what he wanted, who was a little proud and maybe even a little arrogant, who loved to laugh and laughed about life. Even though the little donkey hoped to meet such a wild and free horse who loved to explore and experience new things, who loved to run and run and run, she hoped he would be the kind of horse that would always, at the end of the day, come running back to the little patch of meadow where she would be. Sometimes she hoped he would be so excited about whatever was out there to see that his enthusiasm would incite the cute little donkey to go run with him for a little bit.

This little donkey girl would be happy munching away at her patch of tasty clover by the bubbling stream, but would love her crazy horse for all his joy and passion and enthusiasm for life. Even though the two of them might seem a little mismatched, they would love each other for their differences, and the donkey would give the horse a little stability and the horse would incite the donkey into playful explorations.

She hoped for a horse who would love his little donkey girl and find her little habits and ways very endearing. Someone who would be as deeply loyal to her as she would be to him, and even though their social circle would be fairly busy and exciting, as both are social creatures, at the end of the day they would be happy to be just the two of them together under the night sky.

Maybe sometimes they wouldn't quite get each other, but they would accept each other for the creatures that they were, and that acceptance would make the both of them feel loved and understood beyond anything they had ever experienced before.

Even though the little donkey girl would be left alone often by the wild and firey horse, she would know that the horse would come back to be with her when he was done running. She thought she'd be okay with that. She trusted the horse to come back--he always did--and when he did he would be so happy to see her, and her him, and they would graze in her favorite patch of clover as he told her all about his explorations, and they would cuddle together under the moon and stars and all would be right with the world.

The horse loved the little donkey so much, and felt so free with her because she understood who he was and accepted him for it. And in return he did the same for her.

Eventually, however, the little donkey began to really miss her horse when he was gone running. She thought she'd be okay with his need to leave and be wild, but it began to wear on her. When he was around he made her feel like the most important donkey in the world, the most loved and understood little donkey ever. The donkey girl realized that she wanted her horse boy to be around more often, so she could show him all the new things in her world, and so he could comfort and cheer her up when she was feeling blue (which seemed to happen every four or five weeks for days at a time).

The little donkey understood that he was who he was, and understood that even when he was off running and running and running (you could see the fire in his eyes when he ran), that she remained a presence in a little corner of his heart.

One day, her horse boy found a vast new landscape to run and run in, and in that new landscape he met a herd of horses who wanted him to join them. The horse boy had been dreaming of a herd such as this, in a promising new landscape such as this, for all of his life. He agreed to join this new herd, and eventually went back to the little donkey girl to tell her.

The little donkey didn't understand why the horse had to leave her completely to go be with the new herd. She didn't understand why he didn't want her to come along, even though she knew her little legs and donkey body would only slow the herd down. She thought she could find a new patch of clover in the new landscape, but the horse thought she'd be better left in her familiar environment. Looking into his eyes, the donkey could see that he was already running with the other herd in his soul, and that nothing she could do or say would keep him with her, unless she did her best to tether him to her. She loved and respected his wildness enough to reject taming him, so she knew he would be gone by sunrise.

And off he ran, with one backward glance at his little donkey girl that he loved, standing in her favorite patch of clover.


Epilogue: every now and then the wild horse boy, who loved his new herd, would look up from wherever they were grazing, and he would look back in the direction of his little donkey girl. He would think of her and hoped that she could feel him thinking of her, back in her little clover patch by the river. He hoped she understood why he needed to leave, and why he needed her to stay. He hoped she understood that he still carried her around in his heart, and the wild horse boy hoped she understood that he didn't consider their story to be over.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Renewal

gossiping

I promised myself that when I caught up on my sleep, phone calls, emails, work, and had some free time I would sit down and write this post.

I have been really upset and angry and heartbroken for a long time now. By no means am I out of the woods, but I am well on my way. I don't feel as raw as I did. I am being more honest with myself about our relationship--good and bad. I recognise now that the hardest part about letting him go is letting go of my future dreams. I had dreamt up a pretty good life with Josh, and it is hard to let go of the fantasy and accept the cold hard reality. Mainly because reality leaves me all alone--today, probably tomorrow, and maybe even for a long time to come.

I don't like looking at my own aloneness.

For a while there in the winter, both real and emotional, I had given up any hope of finding anybody with whom I could spend the rest of my life with and vice versa. I am high maintenance. I like a lot of attention. I have an ever changing emotional temperament and my feelings can be felt and expressed quite intensely. People liken me to a volcano. Sometimes I spew joy and exuberance and love and sometimes I spew frustration and disappointment and verbal insults at the idiot drivers all around me.

For a while there I didn't believe I would ever find somebody who would love me ever again. Because he did love me, for who I was, and that was the most empowering and enveloping feeling ever. I felt like I could grow taller and reach deeper and fly higher because he saw me for who I am and loved me for it. I hadn't had another man understand me quite like he did.

For a while I thought I needed to get the hell out of here because too much of this city is tied up in memories of him. If I left, even he couldn't have those memories anymore. He wouldn't be able to find me anymore. If I left, I could hide from my own failures and begin again. And if I left, maybe I might be able to meet somebody. For a while I believed that Portland was a barren wasteland when it comes to available good men.

For a while I resigned myself to believing that I would just be one of those wonderful women who has a brilliant career, who changes people's lives on a daily basis, and lives alone, alone, alone. Actually, I am still haunted by that possibility. I see it around me, in my mentors, teachers, and spiritual leaders. And I know I could easily be one of them--I have such a deep and enduring passion for birth that I could turn all my (volcanic) energy and effort into changing this country and giving women the options and chances and support that they need.

For a while I was so heartbroken and confused that I gave up on love. I didn't want it, it only brought pain and suffering, it sucks, it hurts, I hate it. No more love for me.

For a while I believed he was my last chance at love. For a while I believed he was the love of my life. For a while I believed he was The One. For a while I believed that we'd come back together, even if it was three or four or five years in the future. For a while I believed I could wait for him.

The winter doldrums and my wounded heart seemed to be in cahoots this year, and I didn't see an end in sight.

But, then we started having some sunny days.

Then the daffodils started blooming.

Then all of a sudden I looked around and there was life and renewal happening. And I began to feel a little bit of an easing in my own heart. I kid you not. The weather has a powerful influence on us. It find it interesting how my own saga has been in tune with the seasons this year.

I decided that he couldn't have this city anymore. And that the memories I have of him that are tied up in places, events, seasons, and things, are just that--memories. I have set upon taking those places back. It has been fun, mostly.

I took away his own special ringtone.

I decided that maybe by the summertime I'd have a better outlook on love and my possibilities, and this damned city I live in. I have a love-hate relationship with Portland.

Then I read this post from the Gluten-Free Girl, and everything is changing. That post reminded me not to give up on love. And it inspired me to hope for love, a good love, a real love, a true and enduring love, right here in Portland Oregon.

There are good men here, I'm sure of it. And I'm sure one of them will want to love this crazy emotional, cake baking little ECL. And vice versa, of course.

I'm not out of the woods yet, but I can see a break in the trees.

I thank Creator everyday for all those daffodils.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

a sunny day at work


a sunny day at work, originally uploaded by jensteele.

i have a lot to say, and no energy to say it in.

  • i was at another L O N G birth monday-tuesday.
  • i loved the sunny day today.
  • i'm moving into the angry stage of getting over josh.
    which is progress.
  • i started pilates a couple of weeks ago and it is hard. 20 10 minutes into the session and i am mad as hell about having to curl up and down and wave my legs about but i keep going back for more.
  • i am loving that the stooges are reunited. this is the first time since 1996 that the three of us are living in the same city at the same time. fuckin awesome.
  • you know how some cats will shit on your bed to express their displeasure? mine likes to throw up somewhere she knows you'll step in it before seeing it.
    at least she doesn't throw up in my bed.
    i would have to kill her.
  • tired.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

one day...


one day..., originally uploaded by jensteele.

Mondays I tend to spend the day gallavanting with The Stooges.

Today we started at St. Honore', a bakery over in NW Portland. My. Favorite. Place.

We sat at the little bar where we could look at this kick ass oven and into their kitchen, and I dreamt of baking in an industrial kitchen, and having an oven such as this in the home I'm sure I'll own someday.

That home will also have a long long wooden table, with benches on either side where everyone who will come over can sit and help prep for whatever we're cooking/baking and keep me company. There will be doors which open up to the patio and the herb garden just outside, and in the warm months we will leave the doors open so that the delicious breeze can blow through our home.

What dreams do you have for your home?

ps--Happy Spring Equinox!
pps--I bought a cute little dress today that originally was $168--I paid $17.58!!!! Crazytalk!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

5 Things You May Not Have Known About Me

The Lactivist tagged me.

1. When I was a kid somebody gave me Dr Seuss's My Book About Me which I filled out, and refilled out, every 3 years or so between ages 6 and 15. I love talking about me!

2. I also read The Little House on the Prairie series over and over again as a kid and started to keep a diary hoping that someday after I died someone would find all my diaries/journals and publish them so I could be famous like Laura Ingalls Wilder.

3. I never took typing lessons and learned how to type by playing a lot of Nethack. I tried teaching myself to type with the program Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing and it sort of worked. I type fairly fast but make tons of mistakes and I need to be looking at the keyboard when I type even though I don't need to be looking specifically at the actual keys...

4. I don't have cable TV anymore, but when I did I was completely addicted to the Food Network. Paula Deen, Rachael Ray, Mario Batali, and Ina Garten were my FAVORITES. I miss them, except for Rachael Ray, whose TV talk/cook show I do not like.

5. Most of my acupuncture patients don't know that I am also a shiatsu therapist and most of my shiatsu patients don't know that I am also an acupuncturist, but all of them know that I am a birth doula.

Who to tag? How about everyone who has the time to play? I was always terrible at tag.