my thoughts . my memories . my family . my projects . my fears

Archive for July, 2008

Letter From A Friend Who Almost Drowned

July 29, 2008 By: admin Category: Faith, Family, Happiness, India, Mom

I met Anka when I first moved to L.A. She and I were hired as the 2 DPs for a pilot about surfing and travel that was to be filmed in Baja. Anka left the project early on, so we never got a chance to work together, but we made a good connection and stayed in touch the whole time I was out West.

Today she sent around the following story. You might not believe it. I almost didn’t, but it’s all true. She survived to give a glimpse of… something. However this story makes you feel, acknowledge it. It’ll be real.

“Friends! Once again* I found myself with no pants in the middle of nowhere…. To be exact the only things remaining in my possession where my swimsuit and a wet t-shirt… The sun was setting fast and I was in the middle of the Zanskar Range of the Himalayas.  It was day three of a six day trek a friend of mine and I decided to do outside of Leh, Ladakh.

We started walking late that day… not realizing that Himalayan Rivers should not be crossed after about 2pm, as the glaciers melt all day and the water rises through the afternoon.  We found ourselves at our first river crossing well after 4pm.  As our guide wondered around for a while, our little group (of 4 people) sat enjoying the Sun… not a care in the world…I had just finished telling my friend that I really needed some space to think about the direction of my life, when an Australian family of five arrived with their trekking guides.

Now we were a large enough group to cross… A rope was thrown over to the guide on the other side and everyone proceeded to form a line holding tight to each other and the rope…  My travel companion was at the front of the line and I was at the back… It was a matter of seconds before the second person in line, was knocked down by the force of a rapidly rising water. I  held my breath as my friend managed to cross on his own… the Australian mom, struggled to stand up, while the river beckoned to sweep her  away… somehow the guides managed to get her out…

Clearly we needed to regroup… one person across the river, while the rest of us watched the water rise…  The guides called for horses… and we watched the water rise a little more.  We waited and waited… no horses..

Finally someone came up with the brilliant idea that the women (the weaker people) should try to cross again before it’s not doable for them. Of course, the brave surfer in me was the first to volunteer… hey my friend crossed about 45 minutes before… how bad could a river be… I mean I had surfed big waves… this was nothing… Those were the thoughts that ran through my head as I bravely grabbed the rope and proceeded into the water.  2meters in I felt the force of several hundred cubic tons of water rushing at me at 30miles an hour … I was down, struggling to hold onto the rope as my legs dangled like the arms of an octopus…  Now what follows are two accounts… what went on in my head as I slowly began to let go of this life and what other people observed…

What other people saw…
I lost hold of the rope, which then got stuck around my neck.  My head bobbed up and down above and below the surface of the water.  And from what I was told I looked like I was just hanging out, not really struggling as everyone yelled for me to stand up…

What happened in my head…
I heard people screaming … but their seemed to be veil between myself and life outside the ragging waters… they were yelling for me to stand up, which seemed impossible from my point of view… my feet kept slipping… in my minds eye I saw myself being swept away by the water, I kept going underwater… like some surreal Himalayan baptism; I was losing my breath… My body no longer listened to me… and as I heard the chaos above the water, being submerged below started to seem like a much calmer more inviting alternative… people get so riled up about things in this life…I thought…

Don’t get me wrong, there was no death wish… I think I was just losing consciousness.  The last thing I heard was one of the Australians who, bravely stood a couple feet away from me yelling ‘ Stand up… stand up…stand up’ over and over like a mantra his words echoed in my head…  Just as I was about to let go… I felt someone pick me up as I gasped for air…there was no one there… just the voice of my father in my head… ‘your mother is not going to get another letter from India telling her that one of her closest relatives died on some silly adventure – its not your time to die’

As I sprung from the water, my trekking guide, Tenzin grabbed me from the shore and pulled me in…  Shocked, cold, wet – I stood across the shore from my travel companion who had all our belongings… I was certainly getting my space now…

The horses arrived moments after my rescue… and as soon as they saw the river one galloped the other way… Clearly our attempt had bordered severe and dangerous stupidity… My surfer ego got a huge dose of humble tea…

Separated from our camp by a ragging river…we had no alternative but to rely on the kindness of  some local women who lived close by.  I had no clothes, I had nothing. Somehow amongst our pack of 8 straggling trekkers… the Australians found a pair of pants I could borrow, while the two Belgian girls who were part of my team lent me their sweatshirt.

That night, all 8 of us slept on the concrete floor of a local hut.  We huddled together in flee infested blankets as the local women cooked up a scrumptious meal.  I let go of all my future forward thinking and sunk into the moment….  I had had a huge visceral reminder that life only happens here and now…  for the next several days, and until today… I soaked and soak in every moment like the desert soaks up rain…

I felt closer than ever to my father, who died several hundred miles away on one of the towering Himalayan peaks.  In fact I was (considering his body is still somewhere up there in the snow).  I felt him in my ambition to test myself against nature… and I felt more free from his death then ever as I thanked god for the continuity of my life at present…

The Himalayas were breath taking.  Their beauty, majesty and towering presence a reminder of our place on earth… as borrowers of a finite piece of time…over the next days there were more majestic rivers, 5000meter mountain passes, and days were walking through and ever changing landscape was my only activity.  The night stars swallowed what was left of my thoughts at night, as I struggled for sleep at height elevations… Mountains test you, not only physically but mentally too.

I love Ladakh.  A totally different India from my previous weeks.  Ladakhi, Tibetan, Buddhist – mellow, calm, gracious people.  I will never forget the hospitality of our trekking guide who after the trek invited us to his Tibetan village, where his mother told us the story of how she wondered through the Himalayas for three years when she was exiled from Tibet at the age of 9.  She trekked for 3 years, while I found it grueling to trek for 6 days.  The contrast of experience.

Tonight I catch a flight to Bangkok, the next day I fly to LA.  My current Indian journey is over, but I have a feeling that it is only the first of many trips to this rich and colorful land.

I am thankful. I am humbled.

Love to all of you!  May you be happy!  May you soak up every moment of this life!

*years before I found myself without any pants in the middle of the Scottish mountains.  But that’s another story for another time… ask me when you see me… and I’ll give you all my secrets on what to do when you find yourself pant less in a foreign land!”



What a story! Thanks so much for sharing it and including me on the list of emailed folks. The way you describe your experience in the water is incredible. You really, really communicated a bit of what it felt like to be in there. I too have a romantic notion of water. I’m Cancer with Cancer Rising and my Moon in Cancer. I’m all water-baby. :) Sometimes, though, I get too cavalier about my relationship with waters, forgetting that they aren’t friends, but natural animals much more powerful than I and so I’d better watch my step.

What to say… Did you almost die?  I suppose the truth is that you could have almost died, but chose not to. Amazing. You also proved something to me that I’ve felt for the last three years since my mother died: our passed loved ones are out there, watching us. They come when we need them most. And so, missing my mother as much as I do every day, I thank you for that validation.

Peace & love,

A Death In Taunton

July 24, 2008 By: admin Category: House, News

I don’t know if you all have heard the terrible story in the news this morning… A woman in Taunton, MA took her life because she couldn’t make her mortgage payments. She was 3 years behind in the payments but no one knew. Her husband said she handled all of the financials for the family and had kept mum about the mortgage issues. Classically, they’d had an adjustable rate mortgage on the home they’ve had for 4 years, and Carlene Balderrama shot herself 90 minutes before the house was to go up for auction.

I’ve been reading a bunch of articles today on the story, as well as the comments associated with the articles. The recurring themes in discussion are that you can’t collect life insurance (something Carlene wrote in her note for her husband and son to do) on a suicide, and that the story reminded a lot of folks about Arthur Miller’s play “Death Of A Salesman.”

About being a reporter, Irene said recently that sometimes she’ll read a story in the newspaper and will instinctively think to herself “someone should follow up on that.” No longer a reporter, though, she takes comfort in knowing that, for the most part, someone probably is. I think for this story there’s a way I can follow up on it that won’t be gross. I won’t barrage the family. I wouldn’t even approach them until a month from now, but there are others to talk to to find out just what happened here. No history of mental illness…

Such a sad, sad story…

Propeller.com 2.0

July 22, 2008 By: admin Category: General, Propeller, Video

Hey everyone, our new site design launched early-early this morning. Check it out and let me know what you think!!! Here’s one of my first videos for the new site, and here’s the other one. I’m going to be doing a few more of these “Help” videos, I think…


The End of A Short-Assed Era OR Please Don’t Call Me A Vegetarian

July 21, 2008 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Fatblogging, Food, Humane Food


So… it happened. I broke down for bacon. But here’s the thing… I didn’t need it, I just wanted it. It wasn’t a craving thing as much it was a “oh holy god I haven’t eaten bacon for months” thing. Also, bacon isn’t like other meats. it’s BACON. It has special powers. And so I’ll eat it as much as I can while I’m dancing through this landscape called “pescatarian.”

Seriously, though, this whole “fish only” thing isn’t by choice. It’s just happening. I LOVE beef. I LOVE chicken. I LOVE pork… and, ohmygod, LAMB???? I live for lamb; except for recently I can’t help thinking about living lambs. Itty-bitty baby sheep being slaughtered for my enjoyment. I get the whole “survival of the fittest” thing, I really do — I’m the fuckin’ poster child for survival of the fittest! — but lambs are SO CUTE! So, consequently, those have been off my plate as well.

Let me reiterate…. let me, as Aaron Sorkin would say, “spread it out for you in a nutshell”: I. AM. NOT. A VEGETARIAN. And, unlike a bisexual, am not confused about my gastric identity, for I am also not a pescatarian. I identify as a bloodthirsty, grease-loving, CARNIVORE and am completely at peace with that!!!! Except, notsomuch when it comes to the teeny-tiny lambies…

Of The “P&S” and Family

July 21, 2008 By: admin Category: Faith, Going Home, Happiness, House, Mom


Here’s an excerpt from an email to my aunt and uncle. It shows best, I think, what happened regarding the house last week. Basically, a distant relative said it best: “There is no substitute for family.”

“Hey guys,

I want to thank you too. I think it’s one of the best visits I’ve ever had. It was so wonderful just hanging out with you guys — that comes with actually having more time than just the 2-3 days that I come to visit CO. I am also especially grateful for your input on the house. The ideas, feedback and LEGAL ASSISTANCE were invaluable.

I actually don’t know what else to say beyond that. Having you at the P&S signing, Vince, was indescribably amazing. It made ALL the difference in my confidence and decisions going forward. And the fact that you’re family… for that afternoon you filled the hole in my heart that was left when my mother died. I haven’t felt that sense of wholeness and security since July 14th, 2005, and so I thank you with everything that I have. That was an incredible day and will go down as one of my favorite days ever.

I find it amazing that you guys were here during the most critical time in the house process. It’s not coincidental. The Fates wanted me to have your support, and I have been changed by it. I’ve been doing everything myself so far — and doing a damned good job! — but sometimes you need somebody to hold your hand and reassure you that what you’re doing isn’t not only not insane, but GREAT. :)”

And now, after long last… here are pictures of the house and workroom building. :) Thanks to everyone for your support. I still have to navigate the closing, but for all intents and purposes, the house is mine in good faith. I am very happy. :)



Running With The Big Dogs

July 16, 2008 By: admin Category: Faith, Family, Going Home, House, Living, Mom

My friend Mary’s Dad is from Louisiana. he’s one of the funniest and most excellent people I know. One day he had this baseball cap on that he just couldn’t resist buying. It had a cartoon image of a pack of canines running across the hat and below them was the message: “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.”

That and other key phrases have shaped the way I’ve conducted myself in my personal and professional life over the years, but this one in particular has special resonance today. Or, well, yesterday and the few days preceding yesterday. Y’see, there’s been a lot going on for me and those around me… V&I came out to see my house and LOVED IT. V went with me to the P&S review and caught A LOT of stuff that we then had to go over and fix with Andy. Laura had the job interview of a lifetime. Molly got her massive computer. I got a powerful invitation I never expected and a several professional opportunities that just fell from the sky. And all of this converged on the 3rd anniversary of Mom’s death. It’s as if the universe was saying: “Well, look… things are going very well for you and yours and so I don’t want to bum you out by forcing you to focus on this anniversary, so I’m going to load the day up with a lot of great stuff that’s kind of like a few birthday presents all rolled into one, ‘kay? That way, the day is made auspicious, everyone feels all warm & fuzzy, and you can think about your Mom in the context of joy rather than, you know, if it was raining all day. Enjoy.”

The universe has a dry wit. 😉

Just Salt Your Arm And Pass It Over To me

July 11, 2008 By: admin Category: Fatblogging, Health, Humane Food, sustainability

Grass Fed Beef burger from Alexia Prichard on Vimeo.
(This is my friend Diedre eating a grass-fed beef burger. I could kill her right now.)

Vegetarianism could turn me into a cannibal. Like THAT *snaps fingers.*

After only one day and one morning of not eating meat-meat (I don’t consider fish meat-meat, I consider it fish), I’m craving burgers. Bloody ones. Lots of them. Gooey, juicy, half-cooked, jumbo, buffalo, grass-fed, I don’t give a shit. Just smash it on the head and drag it over here.

This is why I could never be an activist. I don’t really give enough of a flying fuck about anything to change the way I live to improve the lots of others. So, there. I’m a capitalist pig. YOU CAUGHT ME. Now, for the love of god, would you PLEASE hand over that stick of pepperoni!

Sad Today

July 10, 2008 By: admin Category: Going Home, Happiness, Health, House, Meditation


When some things aren’t going my way I get the blues and it’s hard for me to motivate. Thankfully I’ve been at this whole video thing for so long now that I’m kind of a robot – you just push a button and I’ll go. Now would be a good time to finally learn how to meditate. I wonder if that’s how it works, actually… You have an on-going crisis and being meditation to deal with the fact that there’s nothing you can do while the situation works itself out.

I came to this conclusion when I started thinking of ways to distract myself and sort of FORCE the time to pass. The thing I came up with is going to sea. I would sign up with a vessel that needed filming done. For six months. As I imagined myself aboard ship I quickly saw the cabin fever that would hit pretty much within the first week. There being no chance to say: “Hey, Captain, um, you know, FUCK THIS, and can you please turn the boat around?” I had to come up with a way to learn to deal with the cabin fever. I came up with meditation and yoga. Yoga is good cuz you can do it anywhere, like a small, shared room on a boat, and meditation is good because (see above).

So, shall I pretend I’m on a boat then? Why not. My situation isn’t dissimilar from that and I need to learn how to meditate anyway, cuz I have a feeling I’m going to need the skill.

Also, for the record, even though I’ve only been an unofishal (as in, not at all) pescatarian for a few days (since Monday) I already miss meat. I miss the smell of it cooking. And for all of you who are laughing, you’re absolutely right: I miss the very thing that vegetarians and vegans say is one of the reasons they avoid meat.

This is going to be a very long year…

“Vegetarian Is The New Prius”

July 09, 2008 By: admin Category: Food, sustainability

Well, it had to happen sometime. Someone has finally spelled out — very clearly — the global warming impact of meat eating:

“Vegatarian Is The New Prius” 

Got this from Michael, where I get all my cool info… :)

Getting Closer

July 09, 2008 By: admin Category: House


(This photo is not actually my house. It’s just to scare the shit out of my Dad…:))

More house things have happened. I now have a lawyer. This is not the type of lawyer you call out for when you break the law, as in “I want to call my lawyer.” This is Andy. He’s here to read the P&S. What is the “P&S”? It’s the “Purchase & Sale” agreement, which, by the sound of the title certainly insinuates that it details all the stuff a buyer and seller have agreed upon regarding the sale of the home. If there were any “contingencies” (this is another word I learned through this process) like the sewer pipe or roof need replacing, this is where those fixes would be reflected. BUT the contingencies are things that have been worked out waaaaay before the P&S! You and the counter party agree on what the contingencies are, how they’re going to be handled, you put’em in writing, and THAT becomes the P&S. :)

I’m ABSOLUTELY SURE I’m going to learn what the rest of the P&S spells out once I read it through with… my lawyer.