Tuesday, August 26, 2008


For the past several months, I have been thinking about P. He has been off on adventures since before I left Hawaii and now I didn't have a way to update him on my change of phone numbers. In fact on Saturday I wrote in my journal, I need to find P. Yesterday, Monday, P called me at work, finding me through Google. Not only is he back stateside but also in California--the northern part though. But it was good to hear his voice and reconnect.
I first met P in Hawaii. He moved into the house in the jungle to help the roommate with his start up business--the garage was converted into a massive tech room. After the gate wars, I decided to move into the luv shack in Aiea with J, C, & later M. For a few months P & I lost touch. He had moved out of the jungle as well. One evening I ran into him at the Thai restaurant in Waikiki. Since then we have stayed pretty much in contact. And in the way that islands work we realized that the Assistant Director of my school was his downstairs neighbor and eventually a teacher, S, worked with P at another job. Interwoven connections, six degrees of separation.
There was a fairly long period when P & I would meet on Mondays to go running around Diamond Head. This was a bright point in my time in Hawaii. Lots of fond memories generated through pounding feet & conversation. We were the constant with C and sometimes S joining us. With P, I could and still can talk about anything, but it is not the same as talking with other people about anything--I can do that with a few other people, too. But what makes talking to P different is that I only need to bring a topic up. I don't have to negotiate my meaning, P knows what I mean. He has pondered the same idea at some point. We just take off throwing thoughts that crash and meld to form something more substantial because we both think the same way. We are not alone in this world.
I am glad P is back. In 3 years I want him to walk the El Camino de Santiago Compestella with me. I have been seriously thinking about taking the walk for about a year. When I told P, he said of course he would go because in the past year he has encountered people talking about it around 20 times. Connections are fascinating.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Santa Monica Redux

Another Saturday at Santa Monica Beach. This time I decided to head in the opposite direction of Venice Beach. I ended up at the end of Will Rogers beach about 3 or 4 miles away from the pier. The walk was very refreshing. The day started out overcast and cool--a perfect day for a long walk. Santa Monica and Venice have about a gazillion people but once away from the main parking towards Pacific Palisades the beach mostly empties to small pockets of people. The beach becomes very short so it was nice to hear the waves crashing, but Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is also near. But it was easy to ignore the cars and focus on the beach, bikers and joggers. For most of the way I was on the South Bay Bike Trail, since I wasn't the only pedestrian I didn't feel too guilty--just a little guilty. I didn't realize the trail was so long, but I ran into mile markers 19 and 20. I now want to get a bike and bike the trail.
As I walked along, enjoying the soft air, and refreshing breeze, I had time to contemplate how much I really want to win the lottery and move back to the coast. I can't even fathom the prices but I can tell you two weeks ago a very dodgy looking studio for rent right off the parking area for $900 a week--yes that is right a $900 a week for what looks like 300 square feet of rat infestation. Yesterday, the sign was gone and the occupant had the door open, the interior pretty much matched the exterior. I really need to start buying those lottery tickets if I want to get out of the hot arid valley. But then if I look on the bright side I have upgraded my lot in the last 6 months from the windy desert to the up and coming Santa Clarita Valley.
The solitaire beach walk took me back to Hamada and the Kaihin Koen (Seaside Park). I loved taking my scooter through the back roads to watch the sunset at Honda Point, past the lotus ponds to Tamami Gaura where an earthquake brought a crosshatch of seafloor to surface and then around to Kainin Koen with its 2 miles of sandy beach, wave breaks, cabins, and clear blue water. During the summer between Golden Week (May) and Obon(mid-August) the beach was hopping with people fleeing the polluted humidity of Hiroshima. But after 5 o'clock the beach emptied out--all the tattoo-ed yakuza (Mafiosos), girls in stockings & heels, and surfers, and beach bunnies headed back to the big city across the mountains. There was always the end of the season atmosphere in the evenings but for me it was the best part of the day. The sun drifting down the horizon bringing relief from the heat and humidity of the day. One by one the squid boats lit up the darkening evening like a ethereal coming to life on the waves. Soon, I would hop on my scooter and head back through the back roads to my tiny apartment passing the rice polishing vending machine on the corner.
Just over an hour after I had started out, the path ended and I headed back. I walked up 157 steps--I counted them--to from the bike path up to Colorado Street where I headed onto the promenade to have lunch at Buddha's Belly. I had a lovely coconut curry with just enough spice and about 60 oz of water. After lunch, I walked to Venice and turned back. The sun decided to put in an appearance. I was glad I had sun blocked myself and donned a hat in the morning. There was no one interesting swinging on the rings so I didn't stop there.
At 2:45 I got back on the bus and headed back to the dry heat of Canyon Country. Really, memo to self, buy lottery tickets every week!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Twenty percenters

I am sure you have heard about the 80/20 law. For example 80% of your effort nets a 20% result and vice versa. I think that this rule applies people to in that you spend 80% of your time working with 20% of the people. Most customers transactions are fairly straightforward and time little time to net a satisfying result. Then there are the twenty percenters. These are the habitual in-needs or have complicated requests. I have come to realize that I place a value on a persons information needs. If a customer comes to my desk looking for a stapler, needing me to search the Internet for something, etc. I generally don't mind and I will often go out of my way to find the best information possible. Sometimes it is a real challenge and I am up for that. But on the other hand if a customer comes to my desk multiple times a day with the same requests, I have do not value their needs as highly as other customers and I find that I grudgenly look up yet one more google image search for the millionth time, I help them out with the same problem on the computer, etc. I try to helpful but I would personally be embarrassed if I had to ask someone for the same things a gazillion times. I actually value other people's time in the same way that I value my own. But since working with the variety of public, I have learned that some people really have to believe that my time should be spent working on their problems. All libraries have them and I am assuming most businesses do.
On the other hand, there are some customers that are a pleasure to see week after week. And some of these customers are daily users as well but they are generally not needy or at least their needs vary. And I have one customer that when he does come in shows us a card trick and leaves us all with a smile. I remember my favorite priest telling me that sometimes he couldn't give people what they wanted but the one thing he was always certain he could give was a smile. And I never left a conversation with him without one. These might be the twenty percenters as well. Perhaps 80% of the people you will ever meet will make a very low impact on you but 20% will make a huge impact, positive or negative. I personally hope that I make a positive impact, but I realize there are times when I make a negative impact as well. So maybe I need to think a little bit more on how I want my 20% impact to spin.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Santa Monica's Farmer's Market

Yesterday, I took the beach bus down to Santa Monica. As I mentioned before, I love the beach bus, you get 5 hours at Santa Monica for $4 without worrying about traffic and parking--which would have cost $8 alone. Once off the bus, I headed up to the Promenade to the Farmer's Market. I never seem to have enough cash in my pockets for everything I want to buy. But I did get a variety of tomatoes including some Cherokee Reds, Zebra Stripe, Lemon Yellow, Celebrities and some others that I don't quite remember the name of. I love the Farmer's Market as you get to taste all kinds of things--I never even knew there were so many kinds of tomatoes with so much flavor. Yum! I also picked up some fresh herbs, lemon cucumbers and fresh garlic cheddar. This morning before I came to work, I put together the tomatoes, cucumbers & basil, added pine nuts (at mom's suggestion) and some cave aged Gruyere cheese I picked up at Whole Foods. I of course had to taste a little as I was making it all and let me tell you I can't wait until I get home for dinner tonight. I only need some crusty bread to go with my salad and I think I will be a very happy person.
After shopping at the market, I went down to the beach and enjoyed watching the yoga people doing stunts, the men swinging on the rings and the totally buffed shirtless guy wearing jeans and a dew rag teaching these other two guys how to jump over the wall in one slick motion. So entertaining that I didn't notice that I forgot to sun-block one thin strip of skin on my shoulders. So I am sporting a bright red whelp that is a little touchy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Matter of Faith

Yesterday a patron commented that she was glad that the library was being run by a Good Christian. I was momentarily confused and then I remembered that I was wearing my crucifix. I smiled in response because there was little more I could say without getting into a conversation I would rather not have. I have had a crucifix since I became Catholic in college and sometimes I feel like wearing it. Sometimes I don't. On Sunday I did and I haven't taken it off.
Here's the thing, I am Catholic and mostly happy being so (molesting priests aside), although I sporadically practice and I have certain beliefs that would probably get me burned or at least a nice long stretch on the rack if the Inquisition returns. Maybe I shouldn't wear the crucifix but I feel that there is enough latitude in Christianity that I can still do so with a fairly good conscience. I don't wear it to proclaim any beliefs, I wear it to remind myself of where I have been and where I can go. And to tell the truth, I wouldn't have any qualms about wearing a Buddha either for the same reasons although I have never been Buddhist.
But what does it mean to be a Good Christian, if I remember my literature right Elmer Gantry was also a Good Christian--I hope I am not like him. Nor would I care to be like some other Good Christians on the order of Tammy Faye & Jim Baker, and Jerry Fallwell. I also have no interest being aMega-Christian like Elmer Gan...uh oh I mean... Joel Osteen. So in my opinion being a Good Christian can mean anything from saving millions like Mother Theresa or robbing same said millions like Oral Roberts or have sex with them like Ted Haggard. I guess I can easily fall somewhere in the middle and can take that moniker if I please when it's offered.
Here's the thing about religion for me. It is a personal synthesis of your cultural background, world view, experiences, and soul. Personally, I don't have a hard time reconciling reincarnation, karma, purgatory, creation, evolution and some other Big Concepts. I feel the universe and the creator are far too mysterious for me to exclude any of these. I am not inclined to limit what I cannot possibly understand. Culturally, I am inclined to monotheism and spiritually the rituals of the high church resonnate--ergo I am Catholic but not one looking forward to the return of the Inquisition--I don't need to add any inches to my stature. Really.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I started running a long time ago when things were going south with A. I had so much emotional energy to expend that running seemed like a good outlet. I was really surprised that I enjoyed running so much. And I over the course of the years used running to help me cope with relationship difficulties to extent that one student said that "When you have a boyfriend you are fat and when you are single you are skinny." Somehow, much to my chagrin I haven't been able to tap those emotional reserves that send me chasing the mile markers with sweat during the last two break ups. I blame graduate school and taxing full-time jobs on part of it. I in some ways miss the edgy feeling that all that emotional energy breeds but at the same time, I am glad that if I put on my shoes for a run it is because I am not trying to cope with a bad relationship. There is a glass half full here somewhere.
Last night, I decided to walk at least one hour to make up not running in the morning because I had a few New Castles at The Londoner with J the previous night and in time to get myself organized for my eye appointment. By the way, I am one step away from bi-focals--I can't be old enough for those, can I!?! So, with no intentions to run at all, I started up Soledad and then crossed over to the bike path. Once on the bike path, I thought "What if I just shuffle along for a bit? Not really running, but faster than walking." Since I wasn't dressed in running togs and since I had my old old shoes (would be hash shoes in Hawaii or Japan), I really didn't want to really run. I wasn't dressed for it. So I shuffle along for a while and realize I wasn't having any of my I'm-dying-here-you're-killing-me feelings that I usually have for the first 5-10 minutes of a real run, probably because I was going so slow. In the end, I decided to shuffle along for 30 minutes before walking back home. I felt so good, heart rate up, mind clear, feel good chemicals kicked in--this is why I love running and really and truly want to do the Santa Clarita Marathon in the fall. Can I do it? That is the challenge! Wish me luck!