Saturday, March 22, 2008

Getting closer...

So, I have been trying different settings to transfer a special video off of VHS. My latest tries have me getting pretty close to postworthy quality. I'll let you all know when I get it, and you can see it here. It may be a day or two more...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Moments I miss more and more

I was standing in line at Lalo’s Tacos this afternoon when I was hit by a flood of memories regarding lunch and my Marcie. I have detailed how very in love we remained throughout our relationship and our marriage, and lunch was one of the things we tried to do together from time to time, usually treating them as “minidates.”

This habit, of course, was more often indulged after I developed a liking for seeing Marcie in her work clothes. But it had always been a feature of our life together. I remember days at Anthony’s on the bay, looking into her blue eyes and holding her hand on or under the table as we ate.

She sometimes complained that I was not talking much. I would sometimes just start complimenting her, which pleased her greatly, or playing “footsie” on her silky legs, which tickled. But I usually just told her what was in my heart.

“We don’t need to talk,” I would say. “I’m just happy to get to see you.”

One discussion of this kind that we had, at Lalo’s in particular, came to mind today. I had called her to meet me as I tended to their ad in San Diego CityBeat. I did not like my job, as much as I loved CityBeat, and was pining for a return to the writing career I’d had to abort for practical reasons.

“Honey, why are you being so quiet?” she asked, practically throwing her taco onto her plate. “I gave up lunch with a friend that I had planned for weeks to come be with you.”

She was not interested in my stock distractions, my stock (if very sincere) answer, or the kiss I gave when I leaned over, to quiet her. She pushed me away, back into the seat across from her.

“No, honey,” she said. “You ask me to come to lunch with you and then you don’t talk to me, you don’t say anything, we just eat. What’s the point? It’s like we’re going through the motions when we eat together. It’s crazy.”

I looked across the table at her and thought about it. I had my reasons, but generally I thought she understood and things like this could go unsaid. In truth, I was a little hurt, and maybe it showed.

“Well,” I said. “Mostly, I call you because I want to be with you, and I need to share some time with you during the week when I work. You just make me happy and proud to have you.”

I tried to touch her hand and she pulled it away, giving me her stern and impatient glare, as if I had not told her enough. I just folded my hands together and looked down, and sighed.

“Sometimes, though, I really just need to be with you, and it doesn’t matter that we don’t talk or we eat and smile and chitchat, or maybe we have a little rest on a park bench,” I said. “I just need to see you, so I know why I put up with it all and why I do things I don’t want to. It’s because I want you in my life and happy more than I want all the other little things I think are important to me.”

I was gulping a little and I waited a few seconds to continue. She took my hand and I blinked a little as I looked up in her eyes. I composed myself as she squeezed my hand and rubbed it, nodding in her very understanding way.

“Sometimes I don’t want to keep on doing what I do, or being here in San Diego, or trying to squeeze an extra buck out of my job,” I said. “But all it takes is to see you, and my hard day is a little easier and my heart’s a little lighter, because I know I only have to make it through a few more hours and I can be with you.”

She leaned across the table, kissed my cheek and then my lips, then slid out of the bench and walked to the restroom, purse in tow. I watched her go, and then wondered if she was going to leave with a plate of food on the table. Maybe I hadn’t said enough, or maybe I had hit the wrong nerve.

She slid into the seat next me and kissed my cheek, taking my hand in hers and squeezing it between us. “I’m sorry, honey,” she said. “I understand completely. I’m glad I came.”

She never sat across from me again, but always sat next to me after that, and we didn’t speak much more at lunch, but we smiled a lot, and we acted a bit like teenagers while we waited for our food. I always felt revived, enlivened by her.

Today, as I sat in the bench table where we had that talk, I realized that I really don’t have that same big reason to deal with it all that used to. Still, I imagined she was there having her fish tacos and chattering about her workmates, flicking her long red hair back and playing footsie.

It didn’t work. There was no loaded silence we came to enjoy together. There was no sweet Marcie voice, just the chatter of a dozen people I did not know. There was only the taste of a stripped-down grilled chicken burrito, not her lips or her neck. There was the feel of my boot scratching an itch on my shin and then my hand rubbing and soothing away the soreness of last night’s run, not her little foot sliding up my calf or our socked feet playing footsie.

And in the context of her vast absence, it all just hurt.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Submitting short bits

I will be submitting stories about Marcie and I to various outlets as I build up to the trip and my larger project. I have a few venues in mind, but if any readers have ideas on places to write to, I am more than willing to listen and follow up. Simply hit the little comment button below, then click on my email address above the comment entry part of the page that comes up.

When I am accepted for publications, I will let you all know right here. Stay tuned.

Suggestions on anything, or questions, are always welcome. Just send them via email and tell me if you want answers in email or on the blog.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The morning

As I was listening to the radio on the way to work, a song came on which struck a chord (thought not much more after I read its lyrics). Still, it reflected on a small part of my and Marcie's love affair that occurs to me almost every day.

She used to wake me gently if she woke first. "Honey," she would say. "Sugar Bear, it's time to get up."

But I was no Sugar Bear in the morning. In fact, sometimes I would simply startle awake, no matter how gentle the waking. Worse, if she moved the bed around, I apparently cussed (which I tried not to do around my sweetie much).

Still, after a splash to my face and some time to adjust to morning, I would wander in and hug her around the waist from behind as she put on her makeup.

"Hi, baby," she would say. "Are you in a better mood now?"

Her sweet and loving voice always made me smile. So this song, aside form why its singer is separated from the unknown voice he seeks, was suitably touching to me, despite being from the Barenaked Ladies:

Sound Of Your Voice

The moon is full but there is an incompleteness
The days are beautiful but I feel a bitter sweetness
If I had a wish, or even a choice
I'd wake up to the sound of your voice
How I miss waking up to the sound of your voice

I let you down and fell right off of your good list
I hope each day you'll find peace and forgiveness
The alarm clock rings, What a lonely noise
And I long for the sound of your voice
Oh, how I miss waking up to the sound of your voice

Take it from me: there's not much to see
In this void

The saying goes there will be other dances (don't give up)
This little song is about second chances
Just say the word and I will rejoice
And wake up to the sound of your voice
Oh, how I miss waking up to the sound
To the sound (sound)
To the sound (to the sound)
To the sound
Waking up to the sound of your voice

Take it from me: there's not much to see
In this void

Sometimes I really need to hear the sound of that voice. I luckily can listen to a few recordings I kept. I also sometimes hear her voice in my mind very clearly. I wish I could hear it in my ears, even if she were cross.


Accidents happen

Yesterday I had my first road accident ever as a driver. It seems I could not have avoided it in this case, one way or the other, but I am still disappointed about the whole thing.


It felt more like an assault than an accident, likely because it started as an assault. I was heading down Adams Avenue near my home at about 20-25 mph when it happened. Behind me, a modified white CRX got up on my ass. I looked ahead again and all was clear. I don’t speed for ADD-afflicted monkeys, so I stayed put and moved over a little in case he wanted to pass (unwisely) via the turn lane.


However, before that annoyance could become a more serious hazard on the road, huge wall of metallic blue, (the side of a lifted truck), pulled up alongside me in the turning lane/median and started merging into my lane. I swerved as the chrome step on the passenger’s side headed for my side window.




A man in a Honda civic had apparently come to a full and complete stop at a driveway, or (as I suspect) backed into traffic. I thought at first I must have hit him, given the circumstances. He was fine. His car was only lightly damaged, and was drivable.


But my Elantra was not happy. The fender was smashed in a little, but more importantly, the wheel had been crushed in and snapped completely free of the drive train. I have no idea how that could happen in a straight-on collision with the corner of his car, especially since the bumper was only slightly damaged, and I was heading straight in one direction.


Suffice to say I have had time to think about it.


The damage was all on the corner of his vehicle, as if it had been backed hard into something… like my poor car. It had some scraping but was mostly crumpled straight in from the corner inward. I think he hit me, and I think he was backing out hard when he did it.


Tellingly, my fender was more damaged behind the headlight cage than it was in the front, and the bumper had only a slight scrape, with the fender behind it was increasingly crushed, as if the impact was into me, not him. We’ll see how the insurance handles it all.


Fault will likely lie with me, as there is a no “faultless,” or “we get what happened there,” clauses in our crappy little state of insurance that is, “required by law for you to buy, but not required by law to reasonably accommodate reality on the road.” So, a bump in my rates is likely.


The important thing is that, by 10:30, I was at work and feeling okay (if shaken and stirred to boot). I have my rental car, my own vehicle is in the repair shop, and everything will be fine. But I did not want to have a traffic accident on my record, and now I do. Grrr…



Bah. BAHH!


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Taking the time to do it all

Well, folks, it looks like I will finally be catching up on all of my "to do" stuff this week. As of Friday, I am taking a week of leave from work. It has to be done. Some plans I have for the week include:
  • Start the online store and pack it with Marcie's and my things
  • Begin selling off the household goods and the appliances
  • Start building a memory box for Marcie so I can store what is meaningful enough to keep
  • Rebuild a wardrobe, since everything is just too big now
  • Tend to my financial health (tax appointment Saturday, portfolio adjustments)
  • Start gathering consular information on the international transportation of ashen remains
  • Crank out a few dozen résumés and cover letters for good-sounding jobs
  • Reconnect with Marcie's family and get them over or take them out for a dinner
I ave a week of bereavement to take and plenty of vacation. I won't be able to use my bereavement if my school job is cut, as it is not vacation, so now is the time. I may try to rake in extra cash with some freelance work. We'll see.

Wish me luck, and watch for the new store and other efforts. If everything goes well, who knows? Maybe I'll have time for a road trip. Maybe Humboldt this time...

Thanks for reading on. I know I owe all of you a wedding video, but it looks terrible and scratchy, so I am going to try to transfer it all over again this weekend. I do have a poem for tomorrow... and news later tonight.

Much love,

Monday, March 17, 2008

Marcie and Saint Patrick's Day

Marcie was not much of a fan of St. Patrick’s Day at the pub. Irish and beautiful as she was, she just never quite hewed to that cultural tradition while she was with me. That did not mean she wanted me to eschew celebration on the night of Saint Patrick’s. We just went about it differently than most.


The most Irish we became on Saint Patrick’s was to buy a bottle of Bushmill’s and a six pack of beer, enjoy some corned beef and baked or fried potatoes, skipping cabbage and going with a nice salad instead. She also foisted split-pea soup with bacon on me, usually. Dessert was a delicious bit of cake, usually chocolate with some green dabs of butter cream frosting, a nod to the reason for it all. Following that, we had the usual indulgences, mood permitting, of course.


However, I can honestly say that I have not been out on Saint Patrick’s since the second year we were together. Never once did we go to an Irish bar with my red-headed beauty in tow (or towing me). Tonight, that changes. I am going out and staying out, and trying to have a bit of merriment with it all.


I wonder, if it happens, how long it will take when I do go out tonight for me to get that old feeling of discomfort I used to while in bars or at friends’ houses without her…

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Sunday Brunch Ritual

Sunday brunch with Marcie was always a treat. The meal was elaborate and dressed up in every possible way. As we were both cooks, it could get a bit excessive, but it was always delicious.

Marcie would cook up meat, whether ham, bacon, leftover Saturday steak, or sausage. She or I would whip up eggs or omelette's, to order. Then the potatos.

Marcie was a potato queen. From a potato, she could summon baked (included twice and thrice variations), fried, french fried, mashed, hashed, homestyle and scalloped goodness at will. Sundays were a potato bonanza of potential, all from scratch.

By far my favorite tater from Marcie's kitchen was the broiler homestyle roasted breakfast potato. This flavorful and somewhat healthful treat was always dressed up just right. Marcie would bake the potato, red or russet, for just a little time, then chop it up, still firm, toss it in oil and broil or bake it to crispy goodness as she made everything else.

It was delicious. We not only used variants of it for breakfast, but also to side along our roasts and various dinners. The potatoes were always delicious reheated, too. A recipe for you all to reproduce them with:

Marcie's Roasted Breakfast Potato

1 potato per person (two if of the small rose variety)
2 mushrooms per potato
1 tsp per potato dried onions
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
cayenne pepper*
black pepper*
Sea salt*
dash of sage*
*(use what you like!)

Bake or microwave the potatoes until about halfway cooked. Chop them into small disks or wedges, as you prefer. Heat the broiler to 500 degrees or 450 if roasting, and toss the potato slices with the chopped mushrooms and dried onions and oil in a small bowl. Arrange it all on aluminum foil on broiler or cookie sheet. Broil for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned or crisp. Roast for 25-40 minutes, or until browned as above.

To this we would sometimes add special breads, from waffles to pancakes, toast to cinnamon rolls from Hob Nob Hill. But by far Marcie's favorite was my French toast. I took pride in whipping up fluffy, light and well-flavored French toast for her.

Another recipe I hope you will enjoy:

Frank's French Toast

2 pieces of soda/sweet bread per person
1 egg (or equivalent egg substitute) per person or 2 pieces of bread
1 tbsp heavy cream or half and half (milk okay, too) per egg
1 tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp powdered or confectioner's sugar
dash of nutmeg for each slice of bread
syrup and butter (to taste)
slice of apple (garnish)
mint leaves (garnish)

Combine the egg, cream/milk, cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and mix it well. Heat some vegetable or canola oil in a pan (butter is okay, too) big enough for two pieces of bread (at least) to lay flat. Prepare some syrup , either by heating it in second pan or in the microwave. If making roasted or broiled potatoes, a steel bowl in the oven will also do. You can add the nutmeg to the syrup.

When the pan is hot (about medium heat to high-medium will do), quickly dip the soda or sweet bread into the egg mixture and then flip it, coating both faces lightly. Do not let the bread sit in the mix. Place the egg-washed bread on the pan and cook until just brown on each side.

Add a pat of butter if desired to the hot syrup. As soon as you finish cooking the French toast, garnish the bread with apple slices and pour syrup over it all. Top with the mint leaf garnish and a dash of nutmeg if it is not in your syrup.

This was the core of our best breakfasts, our anchoring repasts for calm and luxurious Sundays in our mutual company. Occasionally, I would make Marcie a screwdriver or a mimosa, taking one myself. That almost always fueled a wonderful after-breakfast treat or languid make-out session on the couch.

I replicated it all today for old time's sake, changing out healthy options for everything as I could, and sighing that I would not be kissing her or taking a contented nap in her lap. But it was nice to do something I know she would be happy to see me do what I grew fond of distinctly under her influence.

But it was not always joy on Sunday mornings for my sweetie and I. Marcie and I had one nearly unresolvable difference. It concerned when we ate, and it could get heated at times. Marcie could not eat a heavy breakfast too early in the morning. I was starved from the moment I awoke.

Mind you, it is hard for a person who eats breakfast early when he eats it at all, usually some cereal or fruit or a combo thereof, to wait on food. Adding in sloooooowwwwlyyyy cooked bacon, home fries and other wonderful-smelling items, and you have one impatient eater.

"You need to let me cook how I know how to and go do something else," I remember her saying after I urged Marcie to turn up the heat.

Marcie took an hour each Sunday to cook bacon, slowly bubbling it in its own juice and fat, spreading a pork smell all over the neighborhood. Ditto for ham. She took her time.

Maddening! I pushed a lot, and too far at times. She booted me out of the house once over it, and tossed all the food away twice aside from that after I groused about it not being ready yet.

"Why don't you just go down to Denny's and eat their breakfast food if you can't wait for me to cook for you?" she said, torqued at me just too far. She dumped the food into the trash can and hauled it out to the dumpster, infuriated.

I learned eventually. I left and went surfing or walking when she started cooking, and I tried to have a cup of coffee to hold down my hunger until she was ready to eat. Still, I would find myself going crazy with hunger when I got home.

Which I think she rather enjoyed, as long as I kept my mouth shut and ate gratefully, which I alwats did eventually.

This little meal, this ritual, was just one that Marcie and I shared. Many other meals we cooked were also cooperative efforts, complementary dishes put together on a whim with indulgent details. I do not hold out much hope of finding anything like it ever again, but at least we had it, and eventually got it right.