Friday, April 24, 2009

Sunny San Diego

Pictures from Paradise

Torrey Pines Beach

La Jolla, CA

Orfila Vineyards, Escondido, CA

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Usual

I love where I live. I love the complex, the layout of my loft, and the pool where I spend my summer vacation. I even love my parking spot. The one thing I wish I had was an outdoor grill. I'm allowed to have one, but because I have a second floor unit, it would be inconvenient, so I do without. Since I'm pretty good in the kitchen, for the most part it's easy to make due. But I don't like to do without steak. Despite my Calphalon grill pan and culinary prowess, I just can't make a steak work on my electric range.

I have never been squeamish about eating out by myself. Traveling on business before I was a teacher acclimated me to dining alone and being single for a good part of my adult life kept me in practice, so finding a good steak was as easy as choosing a restaurant. My once occasional red meat cravings led me to Outback, where I knew I could get a reasonable priced and consistently good steak. What came as a bonus was good service and good company. As a result I am a regular. Now when I go out for a steak, I get dinner and conversation, and a few good laughs--especially if Erika and Juli are working.

They are my favorite servers. They know I like the Little Boomey cab, and a little time between my salad and my steak. They know I like the green beans with my steak (sometimes 6 ounce, sometimes 9) and the most I will change up my order is to skip the salad and get garlic mashed potatoes with my sirloin (cooked medium) instead. Just as I can count on Juli asking, “the uzh?” (or however one would phonetically spell the first syllable of usual as it’s pronounced) I know that Erika will come over after my meal with a devilish grin to see if I’ll be tempted into a dessert martini that she is happy to shake up.

What I like more than their knowing what I like to eat and drink and at what pace is that they are friendly and fun and easy to talk to. They chat with me if they have time in between customers and we all know details of each other’s lives. They are good people. I like them. And they make me like being a regular.

Even if I got a grill, or for some unforeseen and godforsaken reason I gave up red meat, I’d still go Outback for what’s not offered on their menu, but is as comforting as a good meal. Friendship.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Several years ago I went to a writers' workshop--an adult writers' camp, if you will--for a week. I submitted a manuscript, one of the first iterations of the first chapter of my novel, and was assigned a teacher.

I became weightless for weeks, perhaps months. Not only was the writers' workshop held at Simmons College, my alma mater, where I was clearly comfortable, but also I would have an opportunity learn from Elinor Lipman, a sister Simmons alumna, who was my favorite author. Before I even packed my bag, I was sure I would have another reason to be grateful for Simmons College, something else to add to my list of How Simmons Changed My Life.

Indeed, "writers' camp" turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life. Every evening we read fellow classmates' manuscripts and the next morning critiqued them. We participated in writing exercises and spent our afternoons rapt while editors and publishers spoke to us. And if this entry were about the New England Writers' Workshop, I could tell you how nervous I was when my classmates critiqued my work, how I felt when I left, but it is not.

Rather, it's about time and friendship.

While at camp, I became friends with another writer, close to my age. I must say that I have never had much trouble making friends, but Kim and I really clicked. Although I am older than Kim, both of us were younger than others in our class, so we pal-ed around all week and exchanged emails when we left and kept in touch. After camp we shared drafts of pieces we wrote and even got together in DC for lunch, where she lives, while I was visiting Deanna in Baltimore.

Then, as often happens, we lost touch.

Until today.

I do not share a hometown with Kim or a vomiting episode at a basketball game in high school; I share with her a passion. We became friends because we love writing, and because we were both brave enough to put our words on paper and let strangers read them. And even though it has been some time since we communicated, it made me smile to see her name in my email in-box today.

I'm not even mad that she mentioned it's actually been 13 years since our camp experience.
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