30 August 2007


I'd forgotten how hard it is to spend all day, 3 days in a row, with all boys. All, all, all boys.

Time for a snooze.

28 August 2007


The oaths of a woman I inscribe on water.

It's funny lately, someone will make some little statement, the most minor suggestion, which I'll initially reject, only shortly later to find myself doing that exact thing. Por ejemplo, a few weeks ago, Deckhand Aaron suggested I should sneak in a day of diving before heading back to school, which I countered with the most obvious reason to say no, that I needed to work. Fortunately, I was still within spitting distance of the end of my vacay in Minne, and could still see that play is sometimes, oftentimes, as important as work, and shortly thereafter resolved to play hooky at the restaurant to go out diving. another example, while meeting with an instructor early last week, he questioned my decision to drag out for 2 semesters what could be completed in 1- namely, putting off 3 classes until next semester when they could be completed this semester, adding only one more day of class to my schedule. Originally, the rationale for the decision was not wanting to alter my work schedule, to continue working on the dive boat on Wednesdays. I had also wanted to delay taking 3 classes I'm not at all excited about: Underwater Welding, Advanced Underwater Cutting and Burning (or some similar title, basically another permutation of burning things underwater), and Seamanship.

I thought the plan to put off the Wednesday torture was really what I wanted, but some strange urge struck me today when I walked into the facility: a great, overwhelming urge to be finished with the program after this semester.

I don't know what it is. I mean, I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Santa Barbara. It's amazing here, and beautiful, and I feel totally blessed to be living in such an idyllic locale. On the other hand, it's damn small, it feels a million times smaller than Minneapolis, and that's too small for me. I remember after studying in France, talking to friends who'd made their way to Monte Carlo. Sometimes I think Santa Barbara must be a bit like Monte Carlo- perfect to look at, almost too perfect to be real. It also feels really isolated sometimes, and it has helped for me to work the driving job, and in neighboring Ventura (approx. 30 miles away), because driving away from here is sometimes exactly what I need. I don't know if it's the feeling of being wedged into a very small parcel of land between the mountains and the sea (not a bad place to be wedged into, mind you ;) ), or the simple lack of neighboring towns (nothing to the north for miles, only 2 small beach communities immediately to the south, then nothing for 20 miles), or how small the town is, or how perfect, or how expensive. There's just something about living here that lends to a feeling of claustrophobia.

And it's certainly not that I don't love the program, and the people there. I do love them, dearly! But there's something about being there too, a sort of time limit. Walking back in today I was reminded of all the things I listen to on a daily basis there, things no woman should ever really know about men, like what they talk about, or how they function as a group, the ridiculous competitions that arise, the incessant need for validation. The summer was like blissful ignorance. I'd blocked out the stinky boys and had only a few boys to deal with, bosses, co-workers, friends, boy more-than-friend, most with a
healthy understanding of appropriate social behavior.

So, I'll be done with MDT after this semester. I think I'll probably still stick around for a bit longer in SB, take some classes, brush up on my math skills, maybe take a real estate class, some pilates or tennis perhaps, enjoy my new digs and the view from my balcony for a while longer.

Unless I change my mind ;)

27 August 2007

as is.

School starts again tomorrow. I've been scurrying around, attempting to get everything done in time. Of course, everything always gets done on time, even if it's not the timeline I'd envisioned.

I've registered for classes, I've even been declared a resident of the great state of California in the eyes of Santa Barbara City College, a distinction that carries with it a significant reduction in the year's cost of tuition. Today I completed my physical for the program, and later I'll gather my gear for the classes that start tomorrow: Surface-Supplied Ocean Diving (in which we dive from Stearn's Wharf in downtown Santa Barbara), and Emergency Medical Technician (in which we learn all manner of gnarly ailments). In general, I'm feeling pretty good about starting classes again. I think the biggest challenge I've encountered since arriving here was not the actual arriving here, which would seem the most reasonable answer, but, rather, the end of the school year. Arriving was obviously a big feat, and there was a ton of adjusting to do, but I had tons to do, and I stayed pretty busy with classes and trying to learn about Santa Barbara. So, the end of the school year was the opposite: with classes over, my whole raison d'etre in Santa Barbara was temporarily gone, most of the friends I'd made during the school year moved away shortly after finishing classes, I was only marginally employed, and the weather was grey and gloomy. It was a strange feeling of... aimlessness, and it sort of persisted throughout the summer, even though I found more work, and new people to hang out with. It seems to have passed out of my daily existence when I headed back to Minne at the end of July, so that now, just as I'm going back to class, I've finally made peace with just living and working in Santa Barbara.

But of course, comfort and ease seem not to agree with me for any length of time, so I suppose, just as I'm getting comfortable, it's time to recharge with some newness and momentary dis-ease, just to keep me on my toes. Who knows? Maybe there will be another girl at the facility this year, or even some interesting new stinky boys. I'm definitely excited about my classes. In addition to the ones above, I'm taking Mixed Gas Diving (yes, we will be diving HELIUM, or at least a gas mixture partially composed of helium), and during the second half of the semester, Bell/Saturation Diving, and Ocean Structures, and one other not-so interesting one that I can't think of right now. It will also feel pretty good to be starting the advanced courses, if only to entertain the illusion of understanding what I seem to have completely forgotten over the summer.

21 August 2007


19 August 2007

sea legs.

Today is the day: 1 year ago today, after 2500+ miles and 4 days on the road, I drove into Santa Barbara with a carload of my most important belongings. I drove around (having forgotten to mapquest its location in advance, of course) until I found my new abode, getting plenty lost and frustrated in the process. I'm reliving it now... the late afternoon sun shining, inching down the street as the house numbers grew larger, larger, until I spot a big old Victorian with the Eagle's Nest bar just opposite... walking to the door, finding my key, going upstairs, opening the door to the yellow room for the first time...

920 Bath St.

The Yellow Room

It's funny to think back on. I can't really imagine how I was feeling then, or what I was thinking. Or maybe it's more that I don't want to, like it's more than enough to have gone through it the first time around. I remember feeling so excited and hopeful, and scared and lonely and uncertain. I so desperately wanted it to work out, but would it? It all seemed really crazy and illogical, as though there was no way it could possibly work, as though around every corner there was someone waiting to tell how foolish I'd been in thinking I could succeed.

Here on the other side of this first California year, I'm pretty pleased with how things have turned out. There have been some major adjustments, but I think that here, going into a new year, I'm beginning to feel really comfortable with where I am, and finally feel like I'm beginning to settle into jobs, community, friendships, school, but still feel like there's tons to learn and experience and do. Today, for example, on the boat, we anchored at Santa Cruz Island, rather than Anacapa, as we usually do. It was a full boat, which usually makes for a crazy busy day, but rather than pulling anchor after the first dive, we stayed in the same spot, which allowed me enough time for a bit of snorkeling. The visibility was amazing, the water beautiful and blue. At the surface, the sun was shining, the breeze minimal at our sheltered mooring.

18 August 2007

flight of the bumble bee.

If you listen closely, you might hear a sigh of relief, coming from way down, deep inside of my person.

Tonight is the first night I've had to myself since I returned to Santa Barbara. I read something somewhere about how salespeople, upon returning from vacation, should overbook themselves, as a way to get their selling mojo back to operational. It made sense to me somehow, and so I intentionally set it up so that, upon my return to SB, I would be immediately back to work for a few days in a row, allowing for slim to middlin' time for wallowing and/or being sad. I'm happy to say the strategy has proven to be a magnificent success. I've been so busy for the past 4 days that my short term memory has all but disappeared, and I seem to be operating on auto-pilot. I don't really even have the presence of mind to decide what one has to do with the other at the moment.

I do know that life has been pretty amazing since I've been back. My time in MN was the perfect distance and perspective I was in need of, and has allowed for a renewed appreciation for where I am. My new place is amazing. I love having roommates, the best part being that I can be at home in my room, alone when I want to be, or out in the apartment, hanging out with my roommates. It's really, really good. I also love being back to work. I love going out on the boat. I'm having a great time at the restaurant. I'm also really looking forward to getting back to school, learning new things, getting back into the routine of being at the MDT facility, finding out what all my stinky boys have been up to this summer.

So that's it. That's my update for now. Because I want to get to bed, because I also have all of tomorrow morning to myself, even into the afternooon, so I'm off to read a bit before bed. May you all be having as relaxing and blissfully inactive a night as I am. May you all have a little something to be joyful about ;)

14 August 2007


Back at LAX now, waiting for the bus to take me back to Santa Barbara. The weeks in Minnesota were too busy to reflect much on coming back, and even now, knowing I have so, so much to do in the next few weeks, I still don't have much time to think much about how I'm feeling or what I'm thinking. Increasingly, I think this is the best way for me- enough time to relax a bit, but I think I'm always in a happier place when I'm busy and active, without too much time for introspection. I think of others I know who are happy, and this seems to be a key, not too much down time, but lots of activity.

My early morning started with loads of good things: I woke up on time (in part because I don't sleep very deeply on mornings pre-flight), we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, the flight was only 3/4 full, and so my whole row (and a super roomy exit row, at that!) was empty but for me, and I caught some snoozes during the flight. The happiest coincidence though, was back at the Humphrey terminal, an example of how, sometimes, chance & circumstance totally knock me off my feet.

Consider the variables: choosing this particular day, 14 August, to fly back to SB; arriving at the airport, making it through check-in and security; stopping into the ladies, picking up my summer's last cup of DBC; choosing to walk down that particular aisle, at that exact moment when...

I ran into a guy I worked with in Minneapolis, a crush, way too young, but a crush nonetheless. He was leaving from gate H3, and as I walked between the rows of chairs, looking for a place to sit, he had just arisen from his own seat to board his plane. Another coincidence: he was moving, in a somewhat impromtu manner, to NYC. He'd made the decision in June, booked his flight, and was still waiting for the gravity, the reality of it all to sink in. The last coincidence being, of course, that today is the same date I drove away from Minneapolis last year.

And as always in situations of serendipity vs. chance, I have the internal debate: does it mean anything? My realistic mind leans toward the negative, but the hopeful, non-reasoning side of me always insists that it does, in fact, mean something, if only a reminder. And again today, as always, she walks away the victor.

13 August 2007


Here's an old song to think about: "It never rains in California," by Albert Hammond. You may not recognize the artist, but my guess is that you could probably sing along to the chorus, because those words, combined with a simple poppy-folksy hook, will stay firmly planted in your mind for hours after hearing, or even thinking about the song.

It's not true, of course. It does rain in California. Just not very much. In the year that I've lived there, because it's also been something of a drought there, I've seen no more rainy days than I have fingers on one hand. 5 rainy days, at the absolute outside. A few of these happened to coincide with travel plans, most notably a drive north from SB to meet a friend in Big Sur. The inclimate conditions impeded our plans to hike and/or meander along the beach, but the drive up the PCH was beyond description. The water was pale aqua, beautifully contrasting a slate-gray sky. But I digress.

One of the things I love about Minnesota is all the totally insane and extreme weather here, especially during the summer, and specifically, thunderstorms. I remember living in the old house on Nortonia, watching storms roll in over the city through the huge picture glass window, the midday sky darkening to the color of steel, blinding flashes of lightning, rolling thunder rocking the foundations of the house, the humidity stifling, the uncertainty exhilerating. And despite all the drills in school, I was never really sure what to do with myself during those storms (turn off the TV? don't use the phone? open the windows slightly? tornado drills and thunderstorm procedures often mixed together, creating a sometimes contradictory, always hesitant precautionary mind-stew.). I was pretty sure that standing in front of a 4' x 6' piece of glass was not the most intelligent of my options, but I loved the storms, was transfixed by the storms, and so I stayed at the window.

In all the time I've been preparing to come back for a visit (and over the course of this harsh summer, my mind has wandered home repeatedly), I've been hoping for at least one good storm. At least one power-outting, tree-whipping, rain-slinging, pupil-aerobics-inducing, ground-rattling storm. I dreamt of one last week, early in the morning, after a midnight trip to the bathroom, but I can't really remember it, and so am not entirely sure it really happened. I got a hint of another a few days ago, coming from the St. Croix River after an afternoon with my big bro and niece, and Brendan and Regan. But the timing wasn't quite right, and I out-drove it within 15 minutes. Tonight though, tonight I got the right storm. It was big, and loud, the lights went out, leaving me to scrounge for a flashlight and candles.

And even though I knew this time what to do (head for the basement with weather radio and supplies, staying away from windows), still, I stood on the patio and watched, and listened, and felt.