Monday, October 20, 2008

Humanity's Top 10 Bucket List...Now Where's David Letterman

Coming back from vacation is always a bittersweet phenomenon for me. It’s concurrently depressing and a relief. I’m always longing to be back in the middle of the trip, without a care in the world, yet itching to get everything that’s piled up in my absence taken care of. So Saturday morning turned into a bit of a roller-coaster ride, as I disembarked from a seven day cruise through Mexico aboard The Norwegian Star—my ocean liner of a home away from home—and made my way to LAX.

I won’t lie. I struggled with giving up my Blackberry for eight glorious days. But I also reveled in ditching said Crackberry in the stateroom safe. I both loved and hated not keeping any sort of schedule. I was delighted, yet insecure about being able to sleep in past 5 a.m. (the first few mornings, upon waking au natural et sans alarm, I panicked, thinking I had somehow slept through my alarm and was now disastrously late).

But mostly, I have arrived back in the states with a simmering sense of guilt about being in the social position to receive such an opportunity—to be waited on, hand and foot. My time in Mexico was exhilarating, but concerning as well. It’s just not fair that some of us get to jet-set around, while others toil to make our journeys memorable without ever coming close to affording similar luxury for themselves.

I’ve gotten some flack for believing in an American Dream, but I just can’t help it. Even though I walked through the streets of Mazatlan’s slums and saw the injustice of the de facto global caste system, I can’t stop myself from feeling that the situation can change if we just keep pushing. That sounds simplistic maybe, but that it’s the only way to keep myself from collapsing into depression and cynicism about it all.

I suppose it comes down to what might be one of the corniest, albeit spot on, sayings in sports, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Look at it this way: We can't afford to sit on the sidelines contemplating whether or not to act. So I’m going to keep taking shots until I fall down dead on the field, and I hope you will too. The world is so far from perfect that it’s overwhelming to let yourself think about it for more than a minute. But the world has one thing that keeps me going and that’s the future. We can’t change the past, but we can use its lessons in our every present moment to influence the future and make sure we build the human experience into something better.

Isn’t that the American Dream? The belief that tomorrow will be better than today? And that we must have at least some control over building “our better”? To boot, I’ll leave you with a few other musings on the subject by thought-provokers extraordinaire, who most certainly can put these things more eloquently than I.


“THE WORLD IS A DANGEROUS PLACE TO LIVE; NOT BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE EVIL, BUT BECAUSE OF THE PEOPLE WHO DON'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT.” (ALBERT EINSTEIN)



“DON'T BUNT. AIM OUT OF THE BALLPARK.” (DAVID OGILVY)

"GREAT SPIRITS HAVE ALWAYS FOUND VIOLENT OPPOSITION FROM MEDIOCRITIES. THE LATTER CANNOT UNDERSTAND IT WHEN A MAN DOES NOT THOUGHTLESSLY SUBMIT TO HEREDITARY PREJUDICES BUT HONESTLY AND COURAGEOUSLY USES HIS INTELLIGENCE." (ALBERT EINSTEIN)


“CYNIC: ONE WHO NOT ONLY READS BITTER LESSONS FROM THE PAST, BUT WHO IS PREMATURELY DISAPPOINTED WITH THE FUTURE.” (UNKNOWN SOURCE)

"WHAT GOOD IS A MAN WHO WON'T TAKE A STAND? WHAT GOOD IS A CYNIC WITH NO BETTER PLAN? YES, I BELIEVE THERE'S A BETTER WAY." (BEN HARPER)

Heck, I like this one so much, I'll put the video below. If you've got three minutes and 45 seconds to spare, you should watch!!!



…and although I love Mr. Harper, my personal favorite is saved for last (obviously not least!)

“NOBODY CAN GO BACK AND START A NEW BEGINNING, BUT ANYONE CAN START TODAY AND MAKE A NEW ENDING.” (MARY ROBINSON)
Bottom line: Start dreaming. And dream big. But here’s the catch—you have to actually act on those dreams in order to manifest "our better" into reality. Otherwise, we’ll end up a bunch of cynical complainers in worse trouble than we’ve ever imagined.

So here's my plan: Some of the friends I met in Mexico encouraged me to make a personal “bucket list,” which you can check out by clicking here or on the Bucket List tab on my home page. But I decided the World needed a bucket list too and I can’t make it alone. I’m taking ideas at: starnsbailey@gmail.com. Please write in and use your BIG VOICE--use it or lose it people! Then stay tuned for the reveal of the "TOP 10 THINGS HUMANITY NEEDS TO DO THIS CENTURY…IN ORDER TO MAKE IT TO THE NEXT ONE" (And what you can do to help) on Saturday, November 1.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: How to break up with Wall Street and Still Be Friends


It’s safe to say America’s love affair with Wall Street has come to a tumultuous and dramatic end. We tried to make it work, we really did. But our trust, placed with good intentions, was broken too many times in pursuit of greater prosperity. A break-up was inevitable, really, when you think about it. Wall Street has selfishly put its own needs before ours for years now, in what could be arguably deemed an abusive relationship. The veritable collision course was set as we continued to indulge in blissful ignorance over the frivolity of $300,000 homes we couldn’t afford and spending far beyond our means in spite of the wolf criers’ warnings.
I suppose we hoped, rather than believed, as they say, that a fancy new car (but it gets better gas mileage, which will save us money!) and this seasons’ latest “it purse” (but I’m pumping money into the economy!) would fix everything.

They didn’t.

And now, we’re left picking up pieces of the shit that hit the fan—all while hoping to God that the fan itself won’t come crashing down on top of us in the process. It’s messy and painful. The only thing easy about it is jumping to the conclusion that this is all Wall Street’s fault.

It’s not.

The signs of an imbalanced relationship were there and yet we continually cuddled up with our credit cards when Wall Street “worked late.” We went on lavish vacations, bought homes and cars we shouldn’t have, got manis and pedis and massages and cashmere and Jordans and iPods and a whole bunch of crap we don’t need and won’t want in a few months time.

To be fair, not all of us were ridiculously imprudent. Those of us who couldn’t afford any of the afore-mentioned, superficial ego-boosters even when times were good, are now navigating through even more dire straights. It’s not that we can’t afford to buy as much gas as we used to, it’s that we can’t afford to buy any at all. We work two jobs just to get into Section 8 housing with plumbing that’s never worked and neighbors who are either crack dealers, prostitutes or both. We eat ramen noodles and McDonald’s dollar menu delicacies and pray to God our children stay out of enough trouble to finish school. Sometimes when we feel like hoping against all hope, we dream that they will get a basketball scholarship and be able to go college—but that kind of optimism is too dangerous to indulge in on a regular basis. Or at least that’s how it feels when the cards are so decidedly stacked against you and only the most determined souls are able to make it out of poverty’s vicious cycle and get any of the trickle coming from our country's top-down economic system.

The “haves” and the “have nots” now have several things in common. One: We are all scared out of our minds because even the best jobs, with the biggest financial brokers, are no longer secure. Two: We have little to no savings to deal with losing our jobs. Three: We all got screwed by Wall Street’s reckless behavior and we all have to live with the reality that in order to save ourselves, we have to save theirs as well.

Talk about hard to stomach.

Americans, as concerned as we are about a recession that was perilously close to developing into a second Great Depression and that will still reach almost every single one of us, are more concerned with the injustice that comes in “bailing out” the bad guy. It just doesn’t still well with our sense of fairness at all. Wall street screwed us over and now we have to be the bigger person—which, P.S. still sucks regardless of knowing you are being the bigger person.

So take a deep breath America and suck it all up. This won’t be fun, easy or pretty. But that, my friends and foes, is the great thing about Americans. When it really comes down to it, and we know we’ve run out of options, we know how to gut it out. Or at least we used to—maybe we need to sit down and have a reality check with grandma and grandpa about what it took to get through the Great Depression and World War II. And maybe we’ll find a silver lining in the lesson this will teach us about how habits and living out the values we’ve been pretending to live out.

The American dream is about life, liberty and the pursuit. But it’s also about guts, determination and loyalty to the greater good. We seem to have forgotten about those three in the midst of our personal prosperity and constant success. Sometimes you’ve got to get knocked down and feel a little pain to regain your motivation to be who you truly are. This is such a moment and there’s only one thing to do-well actually there’s three. 1) Get over ourselves. 2) Grin and bear it. 3) Demand a change in the system so we don't get fooled twice.

God, You’ve got to love a break up.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I'm So Over It...Has The House Voted Yet?

photo credit: Rick Wilking/AP
I'll give Sarah Palin credit--she appealed to her base and she didn't bomb. That being said, I also got exactly what I expected from her in terms of dodged questions, unsubstantiated maverick references, knocks on Joe Biden's "experience" (which is, quite ironically, a shorter experience than John McCain's) and absolutely no sign of her being qualified to be Vice-President of the United States of America.

One of the pundits on CNN made a compelling point that I haven't been able to get over. When you think of the Vice-President taking on the fate of the world in the event of a global crisis and the demise of the President, would Sarah Palin be your choice to make the ultimate choice? Is average Joe-sick-pack qualified to make that choice? No. There is a reason we entrust only very few with this task--it's a big freakin' deal and not everybody is capable of making a prudent choice for humankind. Nice as she seems, genuine as she seems, she has in no way demonstrated a sufficient understanding of the world, in the "five short weeks" she's been at this, that would warrant that responsibility being placed on her shoulders.

I've also got to give Joe Biden credit. He reigned himself in and had a clean debate. I saw absolutely ZERO instances of gender bias or sexism. It was a clean debate and I'm prodigiously proud of him for that. He respected his opponent and took Palin on as he would have any other politician. He was even able to avoid too many wordy, wonky diatribes on policy (not all, but nobody's perfect I suppose). When he did begin to wander down that sure-fire path to audience boredom, he seemed to check himself and switch back to connecting personally with the audience through his own experience as a single dad, as a parent of a soon-to-be Iraqi soldier or as a former middle-class citizen of America.

I'm re-watching the debate right now, and more and more I am impressed with the vice-presidential candidates' performances over that of their "principals." In terms of substance and in terms of addressing many of the issues that got lost in McCain and Obama's tit for tat, I'd almost go so far as to say that Biden and Palin did a better job of presenting their tickets' ideas than the actual ticket leaders. They certainly listened to the advice commentators, pundits and hopefully their own advisers gave in regards to strategy in this debate and executed it to the best of their abilities.

The one area notably left out of the debate was the financial situation we are in as a nation. That subject absolutely must be addressed in the next presidential debate in great detail. In lieu of Iraq, policy and reform in this area is going to be the trademark of the next presidency. Things have changed. For the first time in a long time, Americans are listing the state of our economy as their number one concern. This is no longer an election about getting out of Iraq--it's about the bill we are stuck with, partially as a result of Iraq, and how the hell we are going to pay it off . It's a no-brainer that the next president will go down in history for how he handles this situation.

I can't believe I'm still saying it, but the race just gets more interesting everyday. I could go on for another hour about the dynamics of the debate and comments made by the candidates, but I haven't much time for that. The House is musing over this so-called bailout bill and how they'll handle the ball the Senate threw back into their court with overwhelming support. Frankly their vote tomorrow trumps anything that went down tonight.

I'll wrap it up, so you and I can get to bed and get a few hours of sleep before the chaos that may ensue once we wake. Bottom line: The fight goes to Biden, but Palin held her own. No knockouts and the never-ending race goes on. 33 days until we pull the lever and punch our chad in what will certainly be the most important presidential election of my life--maybe yours too. McCain, Obama or Mickey Mouse--the point is this: get out there and get involved. Our country is not living up to its potential and the only way we can turn it around is engage with all the intensity we can muster. This little girl knows a thing or two about using her voice and I urge you with every ounce of volume I've got to use yours and tell our leaders what you need with resounding resolve. This land is your land, this land is my land--it's time to take better ownership of it.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Top Gun v. Will Hunting...And The Winner Is?

What do you need to know about last night's Presidential Debate? It pretty much comes down to this: fighter pilot v. academia. Yep, that just about sums it up. Two very different men, who both love their country, showcasing very different approaches to our common issues.

Even if you know everything there is to know about the big ticket issues (the economy, the environment, Iran, health care, the Iraq War, taxes, etc.) and where the candidates stand on them, debates are a great forum to see how candidates handle themselves in front of a non-partisan audience and under the adversity that comes from being directly challenged by your opponent. Debates can also give great insight into the character of candidates due to the fact that they are less scripted than a stump speech.

Are they confident or cocky? Are they tough or do they crumble under pressure? Can they take a hit and then dish it back? Can they get specific about HOW they will accomplish goals or are they still stuck expounding on what the goal is? Do they know their shit or are they full of shit?

And most importantly, can they pronounce foreign nouns correctly? Because, for God's sake, I've had enough of (as @rawallison put it so perfectly last night on Twitter) "Eye-Rak" and "Eye-Ran" to last me a good long while.

I got some answers to the above questions in last night's debate and came a little closer to sealing the deal on my candidate of choice. I never make a final decision until I'm there at the voting booth, because what goes down right before an election can be really eye-opening. Sometimes you think you've settled it based solely on the issues and then three days before the election somebody will do something ridiculous that causes you to rethink your whole decision based on a revolting and previously unrevealed personality trait. Like it or not, most of America doesn't vote on the issues. They vote based on who they like and who they relate to. And let's be honest, even those of us who do look deep back into voting records and take time to really consider the consequences and benefits of proposed plans, make our decisions partially based on personality.

So, of course I had to watch last night and watch these two personalities paired head-to-head. Here's what I learned in my hour and half in front of the T.V.


John McCain's strategy is to gain voter trust by making Barack Obama out to be naive and ignorant to world issues, while at the same time playing up his own 30 years experience in Washington (Note: you are correct in wondering why he should be cleared from any sort of blame for being PART of the government that has gotten us into the mess we currently find ourselves surrounded by. Answer: Because he said so...and because he's evidently one of those rare holy grails of politics--The self-professed Maverick. Comforting knowledge indeed). The twist in the story is that McCain is also proclaiming himself as a change candidate--one that can stand up to Washington and mend their evil and corrupt ways.

McCain's tactics, during the debate, included mentioning his relationships with and adoration of Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger every two minutes and repeating the assertion that Obama just "doesn't understand" because he wasn't there back in the day. It also included a list of his summer vacation destinations and the people he "knows" and "knows how to work with" because, as previously mentioned, "[He's] been there." Just in case you were curious, people & places that made it on his list were: Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam, Israel, Vladamir Putin, Pakistan, The 1980s in Washington, The 1990s in Washington and the 2000s in Washington. Also making appearances: Elton John, Britney Spears and Lindsey Lohan, every ma and pa coffee shop owner in small-town America, Michael Vick, the moon, the Dalai Lama, the world's largest ball of string, Oprah, the south pole, the north pole, me, my momma and of course, last, but not least... yo momma.

Yeah, well George W. Bush went to New Orleans and hung out with the people from the 9th ward after Hurricane Katrina. We've all seen how much good THAT did. Sorry, but having access to Air Force One and a valid passport stamped full doesn't automatically qualify one as a good leader capable of achieving diplomatic success. Good try though.

Now, playing the whole name dropping and "I've been there, done that" games got real old, real fast, but that's more annoying than problematic to me. I get why McCain is doing it--it proves he has the relationships and experience to get things done on the world stage. Cool. What's disappointing for me is to see a man, whom I've previously found to be very classy, begin to use the tactic of attacking Obama as a person. Very not classy.

Last night I found John McCain to be very condescending and disrespectful towards Barack Obama concerning his understanding of the world and evidently of the words "tactic" and "strategy." What is this, the SATs? Pretty sure he gets it. I mean, it's not like Barack Obama is clueless. He's not George W. Bush and he's not 18 either. He's freakin' 47 and has degrees from Columbia and Harvard (that weren't earned with Daddy's money on "Gentleman's Cs"). I'd rather have heard more from McCain about why Obama's policy ideas won't be successful. I'd rather have heard him speak in more detail about his plans rather than continually question Obama's intellectual capacity on vocabulary and history.

Obama's "Change" platform is geared to inspire voters to get re-engaged based on the idea that together we can affect positive change. But lately, Obama has also had to tie John McCain to President Bush's to convince us that McCain's claim that he too represents a change isn't true. Obama got in some good punches about McCain's record on President Bush's biggest proposals and how McCain supposedly agrees with the President 90% of the time. But he spent more time attempting to play defense from McCain's jabs about his naivety than convincing me of the inevitability of four years of George W. Bush Part II: The McCain years. I say attempting because McCain basically shut him out from any defensive tactic several times by continuing to defiantly rattle on over Obama's response--which I saw as tacky and a little desperate.

In spite of often being on defense, Obama did a reasonably good job in avoiding the appearance of being emotionally defensive, but you can't win any game without passionate defense (there is such a fine line between the two, but the best politicians find a way to walk it). When he found room to make a defensive move, Obama was prepared to contradict McCain's assertions with information. I just didn't see much passion when McCain was laying into him; more frustration at being talked over than taking deep offense to the assertions. That's got to change and here's why: Effective and passionate defense always opens up opportunity for aggressive offense. Obama can't let McCain talk over him like he did last night if he wants to win either of the next debates, or the election in November. He must find a way to walk the line between passion and pathetic. So much of politics is making power plays and the candidate with the appearance of power and strength often comes out on top. Even though McCain's aggression may be viewed negatively by undecided voters, Obama's response to it is equally as important. I expected Obama to do something more about the bully-like abuse coming from McCain, but was left feeling disappointed in the lack of action from him. Passivity is NOT how you affect change dude.

I don't think I'm alone in saying that I walked away wanting more from both of the candidates. There are still so many unanswered questions and still 38 days until the election. That's a hell of a lot of time and plenty enough for somebody to utter a Howard Dean Scream and throw the whole thing away.

Note: Photographs used for this story are by David Mills for the New York Times.

Monday, September 22, 2008

SYSTEM...ENGAGE!!!

Back in action and better than ever baby! Stellar weekend. Absolutely fabulous. Common concert, Oregon Ducks football and tailgating (w/lots of raw fruits & veggies thanks to fabulous Aunt Brenda!!!), and dinner with new friends is just about the most perfect way to spend three days that I can come up with.

Never mind that I didn't get my laundry done and had to wear not-so-clean clothes to work today.

Never mind that the U.S. financial market big boys were being bailed out by the biggest governmental rescue plan ever to be formulated since the Great Depression.

Never mind that you and I will be paying off the national debt this move is creating until we are long cold in our graves.

Never mind that Sarah Palin is the biggest farce of an environmental warrior that I've seen in a LONG time.

Never mind that I still relish the fact that John McCain chose a woman (any woman) as his running mate, because in terms of progress for the Republican Party, this is HUGE.

Never mind that my trunks from Burning Man are still half-packed even though I'm already planning for next year.

None of it matters, because every single second of my weekend felt goooooooooodddddddd. And when you've got it going on, you've got to take advantage of it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Post Traumatic Burn Syndrome

Lately I've been feeling really withdrawn from any form of technology or media or connecting with the world. It took me a week after Burning Man to even write a post about it and another week sitting on the post to put it up on the site. I'd get on the web, pull up a page and heave a giant sigh. I'm not ready for this.

I keep flashing back to the playa. Post-Traumatic Burn Syndrome. Except in this case, it's the real world that has a traumatic effect on one's psyche. It's like patron saint of Black Rock City is a siren calling out to me, sometimes faintly, sometimes screaming. She sure as hell draws you in.


But come on. I mean, really. What the hell? The girl who always has something to say doesn't feel like weighing in on the world? This is some serious business. I was having a bit of a personality meltdown. Especially since the news is fraught with dramatic headliner events--Wall Street stalwarts collapsing, devastating hurricanes, gender politics on the national scene. I should be foaming at the mouth to comment on all of it and yet I was feeling quite passe. So over it.

In the end I had to hit the reset button and reboot. My little pinwheel was stuck in an endless whirl of "I don't care" (At least though, I cared that I didn't care--if it had gone a step further and hit the "I don't care that I don't care" phase, I might have checked myself into an institution). My internal processor was just that overloaded from the Burning Man experience. Let me tell you that I am now an even bigger supporter of activity rather than apathy. God it felt horrible. Lack of motivation to be engaged is seriously the most surreal and horrid experience for me to go through. I might be crazy, but I'd rather be a little cuckoo every single freakin' day of my life than spend one of them feeling apathetic.

Right after I got back from Black Rock City, I had a very telling dream. It was if my mind knew I was about to go through this process and tried to clue me in (Of course it went WHOOSH, right over my pretty little head). I dreamed I was stuck in the inner compartment of a pumpkin shaped art-car (@ Burning Man people bring these tricked out artistic cars to ride around in and give other burners rides back and forth across the playa). It was almost pitch black, but I could very faintly see, through playa encrusted windows, that there was some light coming through from the outside. I wasn't going to die or suffocate--I knew this much. But I had this incredibly strong urge that I simply HAD to get out of the car. Things were going on without me and that was absolutely disturbing. I was screaming for help, knowing full well that my little cage was in a secluded area of the playa with no sign of anyone around (digression: isn't it crazy how you innately "know" things about situations in your dreams without anything to back them up from the course of events unfolding?). I began to grope all around for a way out. I felt very certain, through my simmering panic, that there was indeed a way out and that I had to work very quickly to find it. After a few minutes of frantic searching, I found a window that slid open to reveal a screen. Elated, I reached forward to punch the screen out, only to snap out of the dream as my fingertips felt the perforated texture of it.

I was in my room. Thrust back into consciousness with the simple firing of a synapse between my finger and my mind, disoriented and instantly trying to come to grips with just what the hell happened.

I started cracking up, because the answer to getting out of the art car was so simple and because the panic I felt in my dream was so silly and useless. I just had to get back to living. Back to the now and away from the playa. I'll be back soon enough, but I can't spend a year trying to stay there in my mind. We only get to live on her for a week per annum and that is part of what makes our time there so magical. The rest of the year, her spirit lives through us and our actions as we continue walking our paths. Far be it for me to mess with that. I might be little. I might be loud. But I know when to go with the flow and ask questions later. That time is now. And I'm so here.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

You Down With BRC? Yeah You Know ME!!!

Fact: My "shake your booty to any sound with a bumping beat reflex" often gets in the way of my ability to take care of myself.

Point in case: Burning Man decompression party last night.

Being a bit sick and weezy never stopped this little girl--oh no. I have no patience for being under the weather. I just surge ahead and tell my illness to get the hell out. I am stronger than you!!! I can and will continue to rage it even if I'm hacking up a lung on the side. 

However, my propensity to party on doesn't extend to things like blogging. What a lazy ass blogger I have been the past three weeks! Alas! No more! I will post! I will share photos! I will tell crazy stories of being trapped in an art car (only to later wake up at my bedroom window trying to punch the screen out and realizing that was all a dream and that I'd been sleep walking).

Let's get started!


Seeing as Burning Man is not JUST a week long chance for adults to play (I mean, that's what it is, but at the same time it's more) and that there ARE life lessons to learn if you so choose to engage yourself, I thought I'd share a few morsels of knowledge I picked up out on the playa

Burning Man lesson No.1: Awesomeness is achieved by taking it one step further than the last guy or gal. The crazier the better. The nakeder the better. As the Nike Commercial says: My better is better than your better!!! JUST DO IT!!! 

Burning Man lesson No.2: Cleanliness is a luxury not reserved for time in Black Rock City. Showers are pointless. You will be playafied within 10 minutes of stepping out of one (playa being the alkaline dust deserts that make up the landscape at Burning Man). It will take several weeks for your hair and skin to recover once home.

Burning Man lesson No.3: You won't give a damn (that you aren't clean, that is). Everybody else is in the same boat. The environment is part of the challenge!

Burning Man lesson No.4: Magical things go down in BRC. It's a vortex of positive, collected energy, engineered and manifested to create experiences that you won't ever forget. e.g. I was getting a bloody mary one morning and noticed this man's pendant. It was a beautiful enameled circle with a colorful burning man in the middle. I was struck! I thought, "I MUST have one!!!" So, I politely asked what camp he had visited to pick that baby up. Turns out it was from last year and he didn't think the same group was in BRC in 08'. Bummer dude. We got our cocktails and headed back to camp. On the way, I noticed a camp with a lounge that had a state of Oregon flag, prompting me to shout out, "HELL YEAH OREGON!!!" My enthusiasm got us an invitation for snow cones, which we gladly accepted. I started chatting with a woman from Coos Bay and really connected with her. Before I left she told me to sit tight, because she had something for me. To my complete surprise and amazement she came back with the 2008' version of the pendant I had so lovingly admired. This was not 10 minutes after being told I was pretty much out of luck. You can't tell me that's a coincidence. I would call you an fool to ignore the beauty in this simple example of the enormous positive power the universe holds. It wasn't earth shattering or mind blowing. Just a quiet, gentle voice reminding me that I have a guide and to trust my instincts, manifest wherever and whenever I can, and to always always always hold on to hope.

Burning Man lesson No.5: Random solitary mashing can be way more fun than staying with your group. I kind of tend to get lost. I mean, I know where I am, but I usually lose track of where everybody else is. Which doesn't tend to be a problem. I always meet the most awesome people this way. The boys at Moonshine Tavern and the Absinthe gurus at the Golden Calf, the Carl Cox look-a-like who played men's volleyball at Brown, Potty Mouth (who graduated from my cross town rival high school), the Ella Fitzgerald sound-a-like out of the audience at the Jazz Club, the list goes on and on. So down with random solitary mashing. Best part being it never stays solitary for long!

Burning Man lesson No. 6: Dancing is good for the soul AND the bootie! Let me tell you! I danced my ass off last week and it felt gooooooodddddddd. I am such a happier person when I get a good dance session in daily. I think I need to date a DJ. Yeah that'd be good. But in all seriousness, dancing is such a freeing experience and a connecting one at the same time. I can't think of many other times when I've felt better than when in the middle of an intensely ridiculous session. Talk about being in the now with your entire mind, body and soul. Damn. Getting inspired here. Think I'm gonna go put on some jams now.

Well actually, I'm gonna go crash, since my new job has be in to work around 5:00 a.m. Gotta get those Benjamins baby. Saving up for Burning Man NEXT year. Holllllaaaaaaaaa!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Newest Waggoner Family Member


Well he's technically a Beldman, but that's of little consequence. This is Jonathan Tae-Hun and my Aunt and Uncle just met him for the first time in Seoul, South Korea today. They've been through a lot trying to have a child and we are all SO excited for their joy!!!



We got the email about 10 minutes ago. This situation is when I just LOVE technology! I was watching Philip McCluskey's video on Juice Feasting on lovingraw.com and my Blackberry buzzed in with an email. When I saw the header, this little girl went a running down the hall and into the living room with the news! Grandma was called as well as the rest of the family. It's not like we couldn't have waited until we checked email tomorrow, but we're awfully glad to know about all of this tonight!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Will Work For Raw, Organic, Vegan Food: Lessons in Foraging


This week I've been foraging for wild food around town and also for work. Let me just put it out there: I hate (HATE) job searching! Thank God this one didn't last long. After pressing the career reset button, I was a little anxious about finding something quickly so I wouldn't have to depend on Mom and Dad to pay bills for long. I got lucky and was hired today by Lifetouch Studios. I had pretty much every school portrait of my young life taken by Lifetouch and now I'll be the one behind the camera.

I'm feeling extremely grateful to the universe for being able to find work within the field I'm pursuing. School photography won't exactly earn me a Pulitzer, but it does teach you a lot about lighting very ill-lit rooms and I'll be working with complex cameras that will be fun to learn on. The chance to work with cameras on a day to day basis makes me want to squeal with joy (*Sqeeeeeeeeeeeeee* That was for you Blaqberry!)!!!!!!

What else makes my joy runneth over? Freegan finds!!! Within the last week I have been lucky enough to find both apples and blackberries! These didn't come from a grocery's dumpster (I'm still wary of this technique--so many germs in a dumpster!). They came from an even better source: Unsprayed urban trees and bushes! The City of Eugene does not spray any of its properties with pesticides, leaving plants that yield produce mostly organic in nature. In addition, many, like the trees we got windfall apples from, are located in parks that were once part of farm homesteads and did not grow from Genetically Modified seeds.

You would be surprised what you can find around your city if you begin looking. Beyond a backyard, porch or windowsill garden, using free urban resources to supplement your groceries is such a freakin' great practice to adopt during the warm months. Instead of paying $5.00 for a pint of organic berries, we've found a spot and I get as much as I want for FREE! That's zero, zip, nada, zilch! Wild greens are another easily found money saver. Think about how much you would spend on dandelion greens at Whole Foods. Seriously! It's worth a little research and/or covert planting on your behalf! I haven't found a source for wild greens in Eugene yet, (mostly because I've been working on the mammoth load of organic ones in our garden out back) but I've only been here a week, so just give me time!

Before I wrap this up, I've got to talk about those blackberries Mom found in the park at the end of our street. These babies were sweet and succulent--just the way a blackberry should be. Can't wait to go get a giant bowl full and stuff my face with them! Raw Blackberry Cobbler anybody? No doubt it will be in the dehydrator before the day is up!

But first we've got to let the fruit leather we are making from the pulp of the apples we juiced in the AM finish and I've got a craving for corn jalapeno chips too! I might just have to invest in another dehydrator. The one we have is constantly full of goodies! I love it!

Speaking of...off to make those chips (Using Sarma Melngailis's recipe out of Raw Food, Real World that I discovered via Penni from Real Food Tulsa's recipe! Thanks Miss Vroom!) .

Ciao bellas and beaus!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Each Day Gets Better, I Just Can't Let It Go


If you aren't a native or transplanted Northwesterner, then let me enlighten you as to how a perfect summer day goes here. It always involves getting outdoors--ALWAYS. We are blessed with a constant drizzle of rain about nine months out of the year, so as soon as the sun peeks out, we take full advantage of her with no apologies! Yesterday was no exception.

My friend Elizabeth picked me up round lunchtime and we headed out with her dad's raft (The Fish Hunter 360--which is evidently a pretty bad ass boat, seeing as some dudes with the Fish Hunter 280 were really quite envious of her as they watched us put into the river), a six pack of Oregon brewed IPA, Liz's orange waterproof camera and hearts ready for adventure!

Our group of eight just happened to include many of my favorite Oregonians and a few newer faces that turned into great friends by the end of the trip. It was absolutely the most glorious day to be out on the water: 80 degrees, not a cloud in the sky. We floated, we played, we surfed the rapids and foraged for wild blackberry's on the banks (you can bet those haven't been sprayed with evil chemical pesticides!).

I brought raw snacks for all to enjoy and was super pumped that my GLT (Guacamole, Lettuce and Tomato) sandwiches with flax seed bread were such a hit! Nobody went hungry munching on those, organic cherries and cantalope--YUM!!!

Upon arrival back home I also found that behind my back, my two best friends and my parents had organized a little get together to welcome me home! I was so totally clueless as to what was going on. I didn't even get it when we "randomly" came upon my parents and Elizabeth's boyfriend in a neighborhood park. I mean, really? I have a college degree right?

I said it several times that yesterday just couldn't have manifested itself any better and I stand by my word on that. Water, sunshine and good friends is all we need here to have a fantastic time and we had all three in spades. I hope you all had a day just like mine: refreshing and inspiring!

Cheers!


Thursday, July 31, 2008

No, I Don't Have A Plan. Thanks For Asking!


The deed has officially been done. Reset button hit on life. Quarter-life crisis successfully averted. Or maybe aided and abetted--I'm not sure which. All I know is that as my plane flew by the peaks of Mt. Hood on the descent into Portland, countless adventures were looming on the horizon, threatening to make Chapter 3 of this Little Girl's life experience one hell of a good time.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Taking Over, One Asana At A Time

I'm obsessed with the idea, I'll fully admit this! Ever since Bliss of Being alerted me to this ridiculous form of partner yoga, I've been showing this video to every friend and foe that's come through our home. All nine minutes and 39 seconds of it.



It's so freakin' cool that I can hardly stand it. So cool that I am pretty much bound and determined that I will be an acro-yoga efficienado within a year's time. Well. Maybe two.

This positive attitude looks past the fact that my yoga skills are intermediate and my flexibility could stand some MAJOR improvement. It forgets that I can't currently afford to attend the number of classes it would take to get to this level, and the reality that it requires a time commitment I would struggle to make.

But then I watch another video and that all goes out the window.

Sometimes it just feels good to say, "screw it", doesn't it? I get some sort of sick joy out of defying expectations (admittedly sometimes of my own making) and rising to a level above most people A) do not believe me capable of reaching and/or B) are too afraid to aspire to themselves. I don't know whether this is just a rebellious attitude with selfish motivation or that of an independent soul with a propensity to break the rules in order to reach greater heights. I hope the latter. I don't break rules to disappoint people I love, only to increase my own joy and understanding in and of the world. I guess the lesson to learn is that you have to disappoint others sometimes in order to avoid disappointing yourself. But you also have to trust that your strength, balance and flexibility as a human being will be all you need to get through it--that and maybe the corresponding capabilities of a trusted partner who is standing by to support your every move.

Acro-Yoga here I come!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Give Them An Inch And They'll take a Centimeter

photo credit: David Sanders/New York Times
My friend Rawbin on Twitter--wonderful, crazy lady--sent out the link to this video the other day. I had heard of this Buddhist couple earlier, but hadn't really taken the time to think much about their lifestyle, which involves spending their days as close to each other's consciousness as possible. In a physical sense, this involves their being within 15 feet of one another at all times. In a spiritual sense, they try to experience everything together, not just with each other, but as each other.

So this video, is about a New York couple that decides to try it for a day and finds that our modern and very individualistic habits don't mesh so well with the concept. We like to be in the driver's seat. We don't like to wait for others to catch up. We don't like to stop what we're doing so that our companions can accomplish a separate task.



I've talked before about the Me l I l Mine focus of our culture before and this is a classic example of how it's manifested itself, even in our most intimate relationships. When forced to live by another's schedule, it doesn't take long for one to become very frustrated--especially if you are lacking patience as a virtue, as I usually am! What I really like about the theory behind this practice is that it forces the participants to deal with issues right then and there, because there is no "time-out" or cool-off period. Anger or jealousy don't get bottled up inside. There's no chance for either to poison the body, mind or spirit. It's just a much more efficient way to work within a relationship. Even if you would never even entertain dreaming of trying this arrangement temporarily, much less permanently, that lesson alone is worth learning from these stories.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Too easy to be true?

photo credit: www.inhabitat.com

I absolutely LOVE creative people…those expressive souls who are constantly making you say, “Gosh, I wish I’d thought of that!”

Point in case: San Francisco’s reverse graffiti artists.

They took an art form, considered by a large majority of the public to be offensive, ugly and negative, and flipped it upside into a positive expression of cleanliness and progress.

Too freakin’ cool.




In other news, I have my first tomato on my porch plants!!! I was beginning to wonder if they would ever start popping up, but when I went out to check on them after the monsoon on Saturday, lo and behold, a single green marble of veggie goodness had appeared! Of course I dashed into the house for my camera to document the event (lest any of you be skeptical of my gardening prowess). See photo for proof that I do NOT have the black thumb of death!!! I can’t tell you how exciting it will be to eat that first tomato that I grew, or rather didn’t kill—I don’t exactly have the best track record with keeping plants alive.I have a much better track record with rocking a party until it shuts down and I lived up to my reputation this weekend. Friday night, I drove out to Miss Sophia’s place for Charlotte’s raw food uncookbook club and five course meal.









Photo Credit: www.vikterduplaix.com
After a delicious sampling of raw delights—carrot ginger soup, pina coladas, tacos, almond cherry tart and a lovely salad with pears and spiced pumpkin seeds—Sophie and I were off to dance the night away to the musical genius of Vikter Duplaix. This dude is a serious mastermind of sound and rhythm. He sings, song writes, produces and spins. A renaissance man—my kind of guy!

So Sophie and I burned off A LOT of calories at Loft 1523, ripping it up with the rest of the crowd, but we couldn’t resist hitting the after party at Hom from 2-4am. That raw food goodness will keep you going long into the night baby! So we popped in to catch Mark Farina’s last set upstairs and then rushed downstairs when we heard Vikter was taking over the tables below. Two more glorious hours of his hot eclectic groove and our feet were killing, but our souls were uplifted. You know what they say, “No pain, No Gain!”

You’ve got to check out Monsieur Duplaix if you get the chance. I’m a bit obsessed with his sound at the moment. Went home and downloaded everything I could find and have been playing it non-stop (well, I had to take a six-hour break for my favorite flick, A&E’s Pride & Prejudice, but you get the picture) around the house all weekend. I guess when something gets into your system, you’ve just got to let it take its course and give into the groove.

The weekend closed out with another Monsoon that closed down Charlotte Symphony’s Pops in the Park event. We got about two hours of music in at the South Park Outdoor Amphitheater before the impending clouds settled over us and began to dump their contents onto the crowd. We made it to the car just in time to avoid getting completely drenched and shuttled home for some well earned shut eye and the start of a new week.

There are times when you look around and experience moments of profound happiness and this weekend was rife with them. I simply enjoyed everything life gave to me over the past three days and I’ve got to say that the feeling of joy is such an energizer! I woke this morning feeling refreshed and renewed despite the fact that my sleep count was severely lacking, my allergies were acting up and the clouds had taken over my clear blue Southern skies. So get out there people! Do what you love! Do what gets into your system and let it take hold of you—mind, body and soul! That’s the secret to finding happiness right there. It’s almost too easy to be true.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Giant Leap For Mankind...



One of the big things that separates human beings from other forms of life (other than obvious physical features such as opposing thumbs and gigantor brains) is our capacity to hope, dream and aspire to greatness. This ability is SUCH a gift. It is really awesome when you think about it. Whatever we can imagine, we can aspire to. And we do. We get it done, for better or for worse.

Today, I'd rather not dwell on getting it done to the detriment of society. We see enough of that in the news. You can check out any of the front pages if you need a heady dose of reality on this lovely Monday. Personally, I need some Life, Liberty and Pursuit in my world. So today my focus is on a community that is getting it done for the better. When their city was completely leveled in the physical/tangible sense by an EF5 (i.e. RIDICULOUS) tornado on May 4, 2007, the citizens of Greensburg, Kansas were crushed. But not for long. Soon, they realized a monumental opportunity lay before them--they could rebuild their city and they could do it using the greenest technology available; they would show the world that the heartland of rural America is ready for sustainable living in every sense of that concept.

Even Leonardo DiCaprio, a Hollywood Champion of sustainable culture, realized how incredibly meaningful this project and this community can be to pushing mainstream America Green. He's producing a documentary series on the transformation on the Discovery Channel/Planet Green, because the word HAS to get out about this. I totally feel his excitement! I mean, think about it!!! The ENTIRE city is going to be LEED PLATNIUM CERTIFIED. Yes that's right, I said PLAT-TI-NIUM. God I love me some Greeny Bling Bling.

I feel at a loss for the right words to explain just how huge I think this is. I have butterflies fluttering around my stomach writing this!!! Such a courageous and pioneering effort; one that will hopefully go down in history as a step akin to the giant leap for mankind we took when landing on the moon. That might seem a bit overblown to some, but just wrap your mind around the fact that this is mainstream, normal, conservative, rural America seeing and acting on the big picture in a way most of us can't even fathom.

And if they get it, so can everybody else. That's why the step is so huge. Walking on the moon was a magnificent feat and proved what humanity CAN do when we sink our effort into something. This step shows what humanity WILL do with all of our power and knowledge.



America was built around the premise of choice. And boy do are we facing a doozey of a decision! Will we save the planet we marvel at from space? Or will we squander it?

Greensburg's vote is in. How will you cast yours?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pot Calling Kettle Black--But In a Most Humorous way!!!

Disclaimer: Watch with an open mind. This is a piece of modern satire and invokes a needed discussion on the hypocrisy (not to mention impracticality) that is the current American political climate. My personal statement is that I think it unfairly sticks it to one party in particular. I believe that the entire political environment on BOTH sides of the isle could use some shaping up, seeing as many of the issues brought up in this little video span back into the last presidency (and beyond) as well. However--It's still hilarious and ridiculousy witty! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Follow Your Own Path--Even If You Cannot Do It Perfectly

photo credit: Lyn Sims
OK, I know I'm posting out the whazoo this weekend, but I came across this while researching bikram yoga (Yoga done in a very hot environment--our room today was 95 degrees Fahrenheit). It really struck me.

"The roots of Vedanta philosophy ask us to believe in ourselves and believe in God. Karma yoga, the yoga of action, is knowing your gift and using it. No one can force you to do what's not for you. In the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna,
'It is better to follow your own calling imperfectly than follow another's perfectly. If death should come while following your own path, this is surely better than living with the fear and anguish of following a false path.' (3:35) When we're forced to do something that is against our own nature, our soul is unhappy, there is no peace. When the soul is unhappy, pain begins to trouble the body as well. Rather than change your ways to conform with the world, you must eventually find a way to express your truth from your heart regardless of the world.


What makes your soul happy? What is your goal? Since the rest of the world doesn't care what your soul wants, it is up to you to find out."


(from http://www.bikramyoga.com/)

This is the most relevant thing I've heard with regards to what I am going through at this very moment.

I feel so very blessed to have found this passage--and a new way of looking at the situation.

I Guess We Need a Personal Photographer, Cause We Suck At Taking Photos

My friends and I are retarded. We took exactly ZERO pictures on my birthday last night. I wonder about us sometimes, LOL.

Though to be fair, Jennie brought her camera, but the lens wouldn't open. Bummer. But my phone actually has a very nice camera WITH a flash and we still didn't take any pics?! Not to sound ridiculously shallow, but we looked hot last night and I want proof to show my daughters in 20 years. Yours truly rocked a white strapless number that definitely made me strut my stuff all night.

The night started off with uncorking a bottle of bubbly (the cork hit like every wall in our condo LOL!) at our place and then on to dinner at this restaurant called Feast. They could have just named it Delicious. I had an arugula salad with walnuts, beets and green olives. YUMMY!!! I was a bad raw foodie and also had goat cheese on my salad and a bite of Beth's chocolate and banana crepe. Both were AMAZING and soooooooooo worth it.

Then we walked through the mess and maze of Taste of Charlotte over to SUITE (still strutting...John Travolta would have been so proud of me). SUITE, like Feast, is super swanky--which I love. I just loved getting dressed up and going out on the town for martinis, etc. It's kind of the last thing I haven't given up with the whole raw food lifestyle. My last frontier I guess you could say. I just love me a good dirty gin martini!!! I think I like feeling very Carrie Bradshaw in NYC for a few hours, LOL! Someday New York, you and I will be together at last. I feel you calling to me. I'm working on it oh sweet Siren!


But I digress. Back to last night. No pictures at SUITE either. Retarded. Well that's not entirely true. I did take one shot of my friend Dianne with some sparkly table decoration. Random.


So we finished the night dancing ourselves into oblivion (DJ even played MIA which made Jennie happy happy happy), shut down the club and headed to Pita Pit (which we immediately nixed as the line was out the door and spilling onto the street. Waiting 40 minutes for a pita in heels? No thank you. Not worth it).

Woke up this morning and Beth and Jennie gave me my birthday present: A freakin' bad ass Rocket smoothie maker. It's like one of those magic bullet things and I'm so pumped to use it for green smoothies and juices. Traveling especially will be SO much easier. I mean who has room for a giant blender in their suitcase? Not me. That's like four pair of shoes I could have brought. This baby will only take the place of one pair of shoes and I can live with that.

I already tested the nut milk making capacity and it's good. It has a little strainer application that does a pretty good job getting the grit. It's not as good as a nut milk bag or cheese cloth, but who wants to bother with all that in a hotel room? Not me. I'll be testing it for soups and more creamy things later. I want to see if it can actually get things made with soaked nuts smooth.

Which got me to thinking. Why the hell is there no mini-Vitamix? Or Vita-bullet, if you will? I know they make industrial level machines, but the raw foodists of the world would surely appreciate a bullet-esque vitamix for travel. Not to mention people who like to make a single serving smoothie or juice in the morning and take it with them to work or whatever (i.e. me).

Like my friend Tiffany always says--I should write a letter.

So I'll be trying out my new toy all day and predict that I will be very happy about it. Also trying out Maca for the first time. I took some yesterday with almond butter and was totally blissed out for the evening. Put it in my matte this morning and tasted OK there too. I will be trying in smoothies and upping the dose to see what's best for me. Right now I'm at a little under a 1/4 teaspoon. I can feel the effects, but no adverse reaction, so I'll just keep bracketing until I find the perfect dose.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Did That Really Just Happen?

I meant to post this yesterday, but I got sidetracked.

It definitely makes my list of The Top 10 Things I Never Expected to See.

Tree Hugging Former Presidential Candidates: I was watching CNN yesterday and was this close to turning the TV off to head to work, but God I'm so glad I didn't. I saw the most amazing thing: Jesse Jackson and Pat Buchanan doing a commercial for a cause. TOGETHER. And, get this, they were doing a commercial on saving the environment!

I was like....WHAT?!?!?!?!?

I seriously pondered whether my green smoothie was laced with something.

But no, it was real. I suppose miracles never cease to amaze and I'll be honest--I freakin' like this miracle a whole lot. Here's why. This teeny tiny commercial is really a giant step for mankind. It tells me that people are waking up to the reality of environmental consequences and that the cause is transcending political lines. I mean, come on--when Pat Buchanan (Mr. "Right From The Beginning") and the Rev. Jesse Jackson (Mr."Left Conservatism Behind When He Sprang From The Womb") actually AGREE on something AND think it's a big enough deal to willingly be in each other's company, the issue is HUGE. Now I know that, and you probably do to, but there are still so many global citizens who are clueless as to how big the issues of climate change and environmental preservation are (i.e. our current Prez).

And a commercial, admittedly, is not going to solve all of our problems, but there is a major lack of awareness that still exists in this country and beyond that challenge, there is also a lack of urgency. I think initiatives like this will act like alarm clocks for people and let them know that its OK to be a Bible toting environmentalist. That you don't have to be on the far out fringes of the left to love your planet and want to keep it in good health. When the issues moves from the extremes and into the mainstream it is a much better thing for us all. I hope more people with influence will continue to push the message and get it out there for the people that still need to hear that being green isn't just trendy--it's absolutely necessary if we are going to make it as a species for another millennium.

I really really wanted to include the vid for you, but couldn't find it on the web and I'm too impatient to keep looking after 20 minutes. Sorry, my name is little girl I BIG VOICE, not little girl I BIG PATIENCE.

However, for good measure, I have included an extremely relevant ad from the environmental defense fund that I found while looking for the other. Enjoy!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Stickiest Hug Giver You Ever Saw


This is my Grandpa Earl in a nutshell. I love this comic for making me smile and think of his fantastic hugs.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Crazy Scary Good

Wow, sorry for the absence people. I was connected in Texas, but only through Blackberry. I had a great time with Mary and Gabe at their wedding (more to come on that later), ate and drank way too much and am back in Charlotte. It's REALLY hit me that I am leaving very soon. I've started to get busy putting together my portfolio, selling almost everything I have accumulated in college (and it's A LOT) and making plans. The challenge in all of this is to remember to stay present and make sure I really enjoy my time here and my people here while I have them readily available.

I feel so fortunate that I've got a lot of you wonderful people out there floating around in the world, making your presence known and keeping me sane. My love is definitely a bit promiscuous when it comes to geography, but I have no intention of holding it back. Charlotte is just one more city that I will have loved and lost to some extent. I am always missing people and places, but the silver lining is that a plane ticket and an email can solve all of that.

So while everything here is making it pretty challenging to detach, I feel a wee bit better knowing that I can come back to these people and they'll be the same even if the skyline changes.

It's been a pretty good day. I'm broke and jobless after June. I've turned down four opportunities to play it safe and I'm scared as hell about job searching as a photojournalist. But it feels freakin' great to make a choice.

It's crazy scary good.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ashes to Ashes or Cradle to Cradle?

The author of Cradle to Cradle discusses design and how to rethink how we build our products and cities in order to save and enjoy the world. Check it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Future of Body Care is Futurenatural Baby

Also, glamazon ladies out there, check out this new website PLEASE!!! If you like Sephora, but are eco-conscious and want to put only the best, purest, organic products in and on your body, Futurenatural.com is the way to go!

Founder Emma Pezzack was interviewed by Current TV about the mission and purpose of this fabulous new company.





We often forget that our skin is our largest organ and absorbs everything we put on it. If we are concerned about putting chemicals into our body, we must also be concerned with what we put ON our body. Emma does a ridiculous amount of research about their products and tests everything. Anything on their site is top quality in all areas. Check it!

Wedding Season

photo credit: www.cartier.com

I don't know if anybody else noticed--but it's wedding season. I myself am in one for my best college girl next week and am going to a shower for another couple tomorrow. That's this month alone.

Not to get all Carrie Bradshaw on everybody, but I have mixed feelings about wedding season. On the one hand, the joy and love that accompany such a day is so incredibly refreshing. On the other, that nagging feeling that I should be up at the alter too doesn't ever quite fade away completely.

It's not that I want to get married. I don't. Well--let's clarify, I don't want to get married now. The idea of finding a man I am so head over heels in love with that I just don't know what to do with myself is incredibly appealing in theory. It's just that I know I'm a massively long way from being there right now. You know that State Farm commercial (The one where everybody is "so there")? I'm it's anti-thesis.

I'm so not there.

What is there? That good ol' peer pressure--even in this day and age where getting married later in life is perfectly OK, normal and common--to find somebody. Because if you haven't, then there must be something off about you right?

Wrong.

There is nothing awry with this little girl. I'm just freakin' independent as hell and have high enough standards to stay away from Mr. Right Now. I don't have time for Mr. Right Now. Not because I'm spending it all in a hurry to find Mr. Right. Uh, hello! I've got a life to live and things to accomplish! I've got goals and plans and aspirations that don't involve a hubby (at least not on paper, because we all know the world has a crazy way of throwing the best laid plans askew and challenging you to fit things into the picture that weren't even on the horizon in the original vision).

But back to Mr. Right Now. I hate Mr. Right Now. Mr. Right Now is such a waste of time. Sure, it's nice to have a guy or two to go out on dates with. That you enjoy spending time with, but don't invest anything further into. That's all fine and dandy. But the guy (or girl) that you stay with because there isn't anybody else on your radar at the moment, and you can't handle being alone for more than two weeks, isn't somebody we should be staying with. Not only do we hold ourselves back, but we also hold them back. Not just from finding "the one," but from finding self-confidence, self-determination and self-awareness. While a triple braided cord may be stronger than the three alone, you are also only as strong as you weakest link. You have to make the individual parts strong if you want the entire cord, the relationship, to be strong as well.

Me? I'm in strength training mode baby. I'm learning so much about myself right now. I'm learning about what I believe in, what I am passionate about, what I want to do for the rest of my life. I am learning about my baggage and figuring out what I want to and need to leave behind in order to get to a new level of being. Cause, man oh man, am I ever ready for that level!

It just doesn't necessarily involve my soul mate. Or maybe it does. It's like a video game. There are all these levels and challenges to pass before you enter the next phase. In life, we play each level only once, and we never know what lies ahead--so maybe Mr. Right is there. But Mr. Right Now will surely be avoided. Don't want to get stuck in a level and become stagnant. Let me put it this way. There are some people who will call you crazy (and who have called me crazy), but we'd rather be crazy for the rest of our lives than apathetic for one single day, right?

So all you single ladies (and gentlemen), bury that feeling of insignificance despite the fact that you haven't come across a significant other. It's about as important as Mr. Right Now.

I.E. NOT VERY.

It's wedding season, yes. It might make you long for a soul mate of you own--and that's OK too. Who doesn't love the idea finding that person. Just remember that you are worth just as much single as you are married or committed. My Mom loves this mantra: I am holy, I am whole.

I am holy, I am whole. I am holy, I am whole...

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Feeling Indecisive

Voting is the ultimate way to use your voice. We know I love to use mine, so that should lead you to conclude there is no way I'll be skipping out on the polls this year. But I have a dilemma. The North Carolina presidential primary is Tuesday and damn it, I still don't know who I'm going to vote for. I'm sitting here with my voting guide, feeling frustrated that I can't make up my mind!!! I've been listening to speeches and debates and reading positions and meditating on it for months--and no luck. If I were less obsessed with democratic principle, I'd flip a coin, but I just can't bring myself to cop out. My damn and blessed democratic duty is stressing me out.

Maybe (hopefully) my decision will come to me in a dream. They've been very telling on my inner workings lately. Or maybe I'll just have to buck up and make a hard choice. There is so very much at stake here. We are obviously at a crossroads as a nation. We absolutely need to make a good decision this go around or things could go from bad to worse very quickly.

I'm worried about my country. I want it to be all it can be! We are so far from that now and I wonder if we can ever get there. But, as an ever-faithful, if not discerning optimist, I have to hope against all hopes, and the past eight years, that the American Dream is not dead. It does seem like we are entering a global period of soul searching, doesn't it? That we simply need to go on a quest and reclaim our identity. We know what it's supposed to be, but we haven't done such a bang up job of living up to the lofty principles we claim to hold so dear.

Choices are not always easy, but I keep coming back to the fact that we are so incredibly blessed to have them. We have to hold on to the right to make them with everything we've got. The erosion of the public voice and role in making complex decisions with great impact on our nation and the world is a worrisome and quietly occuring phenomenon. But it doesn't have to be. Our votes have the potential to put a protector of those rights into the highest office and set the tone for the rest of the system.

Millions around the world lay down their lives for the right to choose (and thousands of our own soldiers risk their lives to protect it--however misguided their superiors are). I'm still feeling indecisive, but also grateful. Despite some major issues, what a great country this is that we live in! Let's not take that for granted. Let's get out there and vote for growth and positive change and for putting our principles at the forefront of our politics.

Now, which candidate will get us there? Damn good question. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Happy Voting North Carolina!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

New Forum For My Big Voice!!!


Hey all! My first post on Charlotte's hottest new blog, CLT Blog, is officially up!!! Check it out please! And check out the rest of the blog too if you've got time. There are some very very talented people up in our space!

Hot Time, Estelle Is In The City

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Must-Read On This Lovely Saturday Afternoon

P.S. Awesome article! Really hits the complexity of the issue (though unfortunately the EU isn't addressing the matter of emissions and resources used in production of food--but it's a step in the right direction). Read UP!

The Environmental Cost of Shipping (NY Times)

Proud Mama

Today I stood up for my right to reasonably priced produce and got myself some plants. That's right, I've got a nano-farm going on my back porch. Until now I've only attempted bamboo, since I seem to have inherited the Black Thumb of Death from my mother (thanks Mom), but I like to think I'm the adventurous type, so I'm going for it. I'm keeping it simple to start (don't want to push my horticultural luck): Porch tomatoes purchased from a local vendor at the organic farmer's market here in Charlotte, organic cilantro, peppermint and basil starters to boot.

I'm pretty excited seeing I spend at least $15-20 a week on tomatoes and herbs (I seriously eat tomatoes at every meal except breakfast). That means within two weeks of "harvest", I'll have paid for my investment. The thought of my little babies bearing too many tomatoes for me to eat all by my lonesome is so lovely. I can't wait to give people baskets full as mid-summer's day presents.

I'm also reading a fascinating, though frightening book to further my education on GM foods--Genetically Modified foods that is. They are more prevalent than we think and the laws governing their use and safety are slack at best. But I digress. The book is called Uncertain Peril (By Claire Hope Cummings) and it's been a really great read so far. I did a lot of research my freshman year in college on this subject, but I was looking at it from an international perspective and only touched on U.S. policy surrounding the matter. Having gorged myself with the illustrious Vandana Shiva and the like, I feel like it's time to learn about how the U.S. currently handles these products (for my own health and well-being) and also how we can create change through our actions (how and where we spend our dollar, who we vote into office, etc.). This is a subject that a lot of people are unaware of (and that's certainly a conscious act by those involved in GM production) and can really affect our nation's economy and consequently our global economy. Not to mention the very obvious risks posed to our health by the inadequate research done on the subject and laughable laws in place to keep our food safe. I urge each and every one of you to look into the matter. You'll be shocked (or maybe
expecting) to find that the government has hardly any measures in place to keep us safe in this regard. Remember Dolly the cloned sheep and the issues she had? Well genetically altered food has the same propensity to fail us, but nobody mentions that on their packaging.

But I digress again. I really must be off! It's been a busy, busy weekend already and it isn't even half over! I'll be sure to post pictures when my babies started producing!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Living The Difference--Everyday Earth Day

Earth Day is like Valentine's Day to me--a great time, but shouldn't we be celebrating it everyday? While one day a year is a great way to bring awareness to the issue, it's also quite obvious that we need to be living these values year-round. Saving the earth isn't that hard to do, if we each commit to doing the little things.

My grandpa always said, "don't sweat the small stuff." On the opposite side of that, it's the little things that matter when it comes to the environment. They add up in a big way--for better or for worse. So let's make some real changes this Earth Day. Let's each make a commitment--like a New Year's resolution. It will be a New Earth resolution. Are you with me?!?!

My New Earth resolution is to cut down my shower time to five minutes. It's absolutely amazing how much water we waste in the shower and I am one of the biggest culprits. I love a good long shower with lots and lots of steam, but think about this: In just two minutes an average of 10 gallons of water is used. That's as much as many people around the world use in an ENTIRE DAY!!! And they have walk miles to get it. I read this in "The Green Book" the other day and it really got to me. Yeah, I enjoy a long shower, but shaving off just a few minutes makes such a difference in the long term (the math: 5 less minutes = 25 less gallons per day = 9, 125 gallons in a year--whoa!).

This Earth Day, it's time to enact some more changes for this little girl. If you aren't quite ready to give up shower time, make a commitment to bring your own organic cotton bags to the grocery store instead of taking paper or plastic. Or maybe buy a Sigg bottle and give up bottled water. There are so many things you can do without real sacrifice that it seems silly NOT to manifest a positive change for the health of our world.

I wish you all a magnificent Earth Day--which basically translates to a magnificent everyday. Live the difference people! Live the difference!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Extra! Extra! We've Got Good News!

While the newspapers keep talking of recession for the U.S. economy, the Waggoner family's spiritual economy is still going strong in the growth category. If you're tired of doomsday and depression (or maybe just recession), now hear this: We've got good news to share!

Yesterday was a really great day! I mean REALLY great. My Aunt Beth and Uncle Jan-Willem have been waiting in the adoption lines for a while now--but the stalemate has broken! Around 4:30 p.m., they got the call that a real live little boy is waiting for THEM.

Little Tae-Hun is officially the cutest little thing I've ever seen. I had to cover my squeal of joy when that giggling little human being popped up on my screen at the office. I think you'll all agree! Please see evidence of cuteness below.



I rest my case. So even though both parties have a few more months to wait before being united in Seoul, we are all pretty freakin' pumped about the whole thing!

It's amazing the level of instant positive energy that a baby brings to a family. Their fresh little souls seem to have a purifying effect on us all. They remind us of all the possibilities we have in front of us today--that each day is new and full of exciting things we've never seen before. Plus they are so intuitively loving! And the feeling's mutual. I can't even explain the love that swells up inside me every time I look at the little tyke. It's absolutely amazing and so is he.

Monday, April 14, 2008

BAM! little girl l BIG VOICE Hits The City!

Coming soon to a computer near you! You can now follow your favorite loud-mouthed little girl on yet another forum. As if lg I BG, Studio 1000, Facebook, MySpace, Give It To Me Raw, G Living and Twitter weren't enough, I'll be joining the crew of CLT Blog--an awesome new site run by some inspiring young artists and journalists here in Charlotte--to report on the bad-ass social scene in the Queen City. I'm super pumped to be a part of this group and get in on the positive energy swirling around this creative venture. I have a feeling my social life is going to kick itself up a notch--BAM! So stay tuned! I'm sure I'll much to share about my favorite Southern city and our ever-occurring crazy adventures here!

Friday, April 11, 2008

HAPPY NEW BEER'S EVE!!!

Last Sunday was the celebration of New Beer's Eve, the 75th anniversary of the day when the prohibition tide began to turn and beer went back to a potent 3.2% alcohol content!

Sameer thought I would have something to say about this and I do--mostly that I'm really glad we aren't still in prohibition! Man do I love a good bottle of organic California pinot grigio or an exotic Northwest micro brew. Thank God for April 7, 1933 and FDR's push to re-introduce legal alcohol back into the system. Not only did it give our flagging, depressed economy a boost, but it also ensured that millions of hard working Americans, just like me and you, can kick their feet up on Friday night and enjoy a nice Gin and Tonic (or whatever the drink of your choice may be). A quick story to commemorate the day.

I remember this time, right after I had turned 21 (I'm talking a few weeks here), that I brought home the leftovers of a six-pack of some yummy mirco brew from a night out with my friend Tiffany and our dank Oregon crew. I didn't think twice about putting it out in the fridge. I was 21, right!? Maybe not.

Let me give you some background on my family. Dad is an ordained minister, as is my uncle. Most of my family are elders at their churches or at the very least passionate and committed attendees. It should be pretty obvious that we aren't big drinkers. In fact, a lot of them don't drink at all (my parents do drink, but modestly). So little Bethany--the first child of the generation on both sides of the family--being into any sort of alcoholic beverage would be a little out of the norm. Most likely even frowned upon.

You get the picture. Back to the story.

Well, the next day my dad comes in from the garage, with the six-pack in his hands, asking who the beers belong to.

I wish I had an audio file of the reaction I had inside my head to record my brief panic internal panic attack. It went something like this:

"OMG. WHY AM I SO STUPID!!?? WHAT WAS I THINKING PUTTING BEER IN THE FRIDGE!!?? It's too soon! TOO SOON. WHY?! WHY?! WHY?! Ahhhhh what do I say?"

Meanwhile, though time had slowed enough for this entire conversation to run through my head in 0.2 seconds, Dad was waiting for an answer.

So I said, sheepishly (and yes I realize putting together me and sheepish is a complete oxymoron, but it did in fact happen), "mine..."

"Oh. Cool. I thought it was Tiffany's and I really wanted one," said Dad.

[jaw drops...waves of relief begin crashing over me]

"So can I have one?"

"Uh...yeah of course," croaked my uncharacteristically meek voice.

Whew. That was close. I guess Dad is cooler than I thought.

Now when I go home we go to Trader Joe's and love picking out new brews to try together.

It's like father-daughter bonding for the 21st century.

HAPPY NEW BEER'S EVE DAD!!! MUAH! Can't wait to try some new brews with you this summer!

And P.S. Next week is Charlotte's Creative Loafing's Beer Week. Come out and join us!!!