I guess it wasn’t much of a countdown since I missed some days in there. Sorry about that. But I’m not one to leave my readers (all 5-10 of you!) hanging. So here is the rest of my 40 x 40 list.
9. Thrown a surprise party (and pulled it off) – It was for Han’s 40th birthday. We had plans to go to D’s play at JT, then have late lunch with his grandpa. But then, I’d also conspired with Marcia to take him to her place after lunch where all of our friends were gathered. She was supposed to meet us for lunch, but then she played having sprained her ankle and not being able to walk on it. She asked if we could stop by so she could see Han for his birthday. She also asked us to bring ice. Classic. We got to her place and I walked in first with him behind me and everyone yelled, “Surprise!” and he was!
10. performed at the National Poetry Slam at The Note & Subterranean Café in Chicago 1999 – I was on the Laguna Beach national slam team that year with Mindy Nettifee, Buzzy Ennis, and Paul Suntup. It was also my first time to Chicago (and not my last!) I remember bits and pieces about the trip, riding the “L,” the venues, just the adventure of it. At the Subterranean, I tried to go ‘off-page’ and recite my poem “Portrait” by memory. I’ve never been an off-page performer, but if I was going to bring it, this was the place. I totally froze up. But Charles Ellik was in the front row, and I saw him rooting me on, “Come on, Lizzie, you can do it.” And I did. I finished, and I think we won, beating Winston-Salem and Knoxville. Then I believe we partied there for a while. For the last night, going to the Chicago Theater for the finals was amazing.
11. hosted a house concert for 8 years – The namesake of this blog, Meeting Grace, was the house concert series I started in March, 2000, in my house in Golden Hill. The years that the series took place are some of my best years so far. They were the ‘golden years’ of house concerts when they were just becoming popular. I hosted some amazing artists, and really truly loved doing it. When I had to move from the house, I took some time off, but then took up the series again in Normal Heights. Those were also some incredible, memorable shows. But then, it was time to hang it up, pass the torch, whatever you want to call it. It was a great run, and I feel like I secured a place in the history of San Diego acoustic music. Not too shabby.
12. have had major surgery (right knee) – I’ve blocked out a lot from this experience, but in a nutshell, I tore my ACL in my right knee and severely damaged my cartilage. I had arthroscopic surgery first and then I had reconstructive surgery. The first surgery was in early 1994, shortly before my graduation from UCSD (graduated on crutches, yo!). Then the reconstructive surgery was in October of that year. Thinking back, I think the surgery may have changed the course of my life. I had to move back home for recuperation in the summer after graduation because I didn’t have a place to live or a job. My mom was in Spain so my dad and I hung out all summer. But I was a little stir crazy and had no idea what I was going to do. Then, a friend from college was going to look for a place for us to live in SD and I was going to move back and try to find a job, so that’s what I did. Who knows what would have happened if I hadn’t had that summer at home?
13. set up a poetry hotline in San Diego in the mid-90s – After I moved back to San Diego, I got more involved in the poetry scene. I ended up in a small collective of sorts that called itself Ink & Voices. I don’t really recall the specifics of what we did, but we tried to create a community for poets. I believe there was a newsletter that published local poets, and I set up a hotline which was a recorded message that had all the poetry events going on for a week at a time. I paid for it and updated it. I was like the Rosie (of SD Dialed In) of poetry, but before there were blogs. I had poets send me the information about their readings, I kept up with the weekly and monthly series and who they were hosting. It was a definite labor of love, and I think it worked for the time.
14. sang on stage – with all my talented musician friends, I am very shy when it comes to my own singing, but I love to do it. But there are some instances when I’ve gotten up the courage. Han & I once sang “Leather & Lace” at a Java Joe’s open mic. I sang Nanci Griffith’s “Cradle of the Interstate,” also at open mic at Java Joe’s, and dedicated it to Han when he was going to be going out on the road. I’ve also sang Maria McKee’s “Life is Sweet” with Han backing me up on a Native American prayer drum. That was super cool. I think I was opening up for Dead Rock West and Han maybe did a set, too. That was at Twiggs. Another time, I’d gone to see Eve Selis at Humphrey’s Backstage Lounge, and she had me come up and do “You Are the Light” (Lone Justice). By the way, except for “Leather and Lace,” these were all done a cappella. The one time I’ve sang with a live band was in 2009 at a conference for work. They had a live karaoke band and I sang “Son of a Preacher Man.” That was such a rush, and I think I stunned my co-workers. People still bring it up to me.
15. hiked & camped in Utah – here’s another one that seems very out of character for me now, but I was young and still figuring out what I liked. I was in college, I think it was my sophomore year, and I signed up with a few friends to go hiking and camping in Zion National Park over the President’s Day holiday. This was serious. Full-on heavy backpacks, powdered food, sleeping on the ground, shitting in the woods kind of camping. We drove to Utah in a van and camped the first night. I remember that first night was really nice so we didn’t put up the tent. The next day we hiked, and I believe the hike in was about 6 miles. I believed it rained off and on throughout the day. We found a spot to camp and made camp. The food was weird. I think I had my period, too, and there were jokes made about bears finding us (what was I thinking?) I remember that I apparently snored like a fiend (my early sleep apnea) and my friends were terrified of me and for me. They said I sounded like a train rushing through and then I would stop breathing (which is what happens with apnea). However, I survived and we hiked out the next day. Again 6 miles, but this time uphill with major switchbacks. I don’t know how I did it. I do remember when we got in the car, we drove to St. George where we stopped at McDonald’s and those chicken mcnuggets were just about the best thing I’d ever eaten in my whole life. Needless to say, I’ve not been camping like that again.
16. know 2 Cy Young Award winners and a member of a World Series championship team – This one kind of blows my mind, but I know Randy Jones (1976 National League Cy Young with the San Diego Padres) because he was on a radio show with Tim Flannery and I got to know him a bit when we’d go down and hang for the show. He’s a very nice man. Of course, I mentioned Tim Flannery, who is the 3rd base coach for the San Francisco Giants (2010 World Series champions). I’ve known Tim know for about 10 or so years, and consider him a very close friend. And finally, I also know Jake Peavy (2007 National League Cy Young with the San Diego Padres). Jake no longer plays in San Diego, but when he was here, he was close with Flan and that’s how we got to know him. He’s an awesome guy and I wish him all the best!
17. recorded 2 spoken word CD’s and published 5 chapbooks – in the fall/winter of 1999, Han and another friend brought some recording gear over to the Meeting Grace house in Golden Hill, set up a microphone in a closet, plied me with Jameson whiskey, and I recorded my first CD, “A Wing & A Prayer,” which was nominated for Best Local Recording at the 2000 San Diego Music Awards. The artwork was done by Han’s friend, Jason Cox, and it was absolutely beautiful. I put my heart & soul into that CD. It was also Han’s first production effort doing it on his own. Everything about it was amazing, including the CD release, which was held at Dizzy’s. Acoustic Duo played, as did Gregory Page, and that’s also when I met David Beldock. It was awesome.
The 2nd CD, “A New Leaf,” was much more low-key, but still a great time. I recorded a bunch of The Game pieces that had come from the private version we hosted in late 2005, early 2006. The Game is now a public event that Cathryn hosts, but the private group was awesome. I recorded it in Han’s studio of course, and Tim Flack made copies of it. I sold it here and there at different readings. No fanfare with a release or anything like that, just wanted to capture audio versions of those poems.
My chapbooks: Familiars, Naked Wrists, Complicated Skies (Inevitable Press), Baseball Poems, 12 Windows
18. know Grammy winners – this is another one that blows my mind. Dennis Caplinger is a master of banjo, dobro, fiddle, mandolin, an amazing picker. He is the recipient of two of those awards. Then there’s Gavin Lurssen, Mastering Guy extraordinaire. He also has a couple (maybe more by now) for his amazing work.
19. traveled internationally – when I was a kid, my mom, sister & I would travel to Spain almost every other summer. I remember when I realized that it was a very special thing, “You mean not every kid gets to do this!?!?!?” On the way to Spain or while there, we also traveled to Holland, also a small jaunt into France, but it’s always been Spain that’s had my heart, more specifically Barcelona and the Costa Brava. I would love to go back again someday soon.
I’ve also traveled to Jamaica. That was for work (see # 39) to cover the inaugural Reggae Marathon. We (other writers/reporters) were put up in an all-inclusive resort in Negril (can’t remember the name). That was an amazing trip.
20. make splendid chocolate chip cookies and deviled eggs – I’m not a great cook. I can follow a recipe alright, but I don’t have the flair for just knowing what to do. Except for deviled eggs. I just have a way to know exactly how much mayo & mustard to put in. And my chocolate chip cookies? Forget about it. I think it must be in the way I mix the dough. I mean, what else could it be? Same ingredients. I also don’t keep them in the oven too long. Like meat, I take them out and let them “rest” just for bit until I remove them from the cookie sheet. Delicious!
21. have been drunk in several major cities – speaking of Barcelona…although my drunkenness really took place in Playa de Aro. But I haven’t limited my intake to only wonderful foreign places, I’ve also supported the good ol’ USA. Of course San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, and the ultimate town for such nonsense, Las Vegas. We’ll leave it at that.
22. have gone topless on the beach – Ah, Spain. Lots of stuff goes on there! This happened one of my last trips, it’s been since 1999 that I was there. But I think it was the trip in 1995 when I first did it. It’s quite common there, and I was feeling confident. I didn’t get in the water that way, just lay on the beach to soak up the sun without getting those pesky swimsuit lines. Ah, youth!
23. taken a road trip with my dad & sister – This trip was epic. I believe it was the summer after my sophomore year in college. We drove through Montana and up into Alberta. We stayed overnight at a place in Canada called Waterton and we all got drunk at a bar called the Thirsty Bear. The next day was tough, but it was all awesome.
24. had high school “glory days” – I was very into athletics in high school. I was named “Athlete of the Year” for my senior year along with other accolades. I remember telling my boyfriend in my junior year that these were the best years of our lives. He always said he hoped not. I was wrong, but I still enjoyed high school very much. I was involved in sports, I had superior grades, and I had great friends. Though I don’t want to go back to those times, I’m glad I enjoyed it and made the most of it.
25. done solo road trips to Texas, New Mexico, and South Dakota – rather random spots I suppose, but TX and NM were for poetry, and SD was for work. The first trip was New Mexico. I went to Taos for the Taos Poetry Circus in 1997. I remember that I stopped in Sedona on the way there. The whole trip was magical.
I flew to Texas, but got a rental car. I went to Austin for the Austin International Poetry Festival in 2001. I put a message out to a poetry listserv I was on, and maybe a house concert one, too, asking if there would be anyone there who would put me up. Again, this seems out of character for me now, but at the time, it was amazing. I met a woman named Nancy who lived in Driftwood. Her home was amazing (except for the compost toilet!). She let me come and go as needed and we became friends. I wish I could remember her last name. She came to visit me in San Diego a couple years later. She was cool. Anyway, the AIPF was amazing. I read at Ruta Maya Coffeehouse, BookWoman, and Waterloo Ice House. I also explored Austin, I just drove around and got to know the city. I went see “Down from the Mountain” at an awesome little theater on or near the UT campus. I drove out to Luckenbach and explored the hill country. I went and sat alone awhile and watched hawks soar at Pedernales Falls State Park. My subsequent visits to Austin have not diminished my love for that town. Austin rules.
My solo trip to South Dakota was for work (see # 39) to cover the Mt. Rushmore Marathon. I stayed at the Alex Johnson Hotel in Rapid City. I covered the marathon, but I also took advantage of my location and I put some miles on my rental car. I visited the Crazy Horse monument and, of course, Mt. Rushmore. It was October, and it was extremely beautiful. Great trip!
26. use a C-Pap machine – as I’ve previously noted in this post and on this blog, I have sleep apnea. I finally did something about a few years ago and got a C-Pap machine. I didn’t use it for a long time because I didn’t like it. But I’ve started using it regularly now and it does help. It’s still not at all sexy, but I can stay awake during the day.
27. make a living using my degree – I don’t know how many people can say this these days. My degree is in Literature/Writing and my job title is Content Director. I work with words every day, either writing them, editing them, or managing them somehow. And I love it. And I am paid well to do it. Who knew? I consider myself very lucky.
28. trained dogs as part of 4-H – this took place when I was a kid in Idaho. My sister started it 🙂 We had a poodle named Tippi and Sandy joined 4-H and competed with Tippi in dog shows doing obedience and showmanship. I followed suit with my own poodle, Corky. He was not as good a student as Tippi and I never got the awards that Sandy did, but it was a good time. We did a lot of dog shows all around southern Idaho. They were good dogs. I imagine I learned a lot about discipline and such from the competition. And I learned a lot about dogs. I love dogs and wish we could have one. Maybe someday!
29. have used all 7 letters in one play in Scrabble – my mom, sister & I used to play Scrabble a lot. I mean the old school way, using the board. We’re hip though, so now we play on Facebook. Plus I play a lot of Words with Friends on the iPhone. It took quite some time, but I’ve done it (more than once): used all 7 letters for a word. It’s big points! Sadly, with some of the competition I have out there, I need at least 1 7-letter word a game just to keep up!
30. performed spoken word at San Diego Open Air amphitheater opening for Jewel (Soul City Café) – This was a crazy experience. I guess I applied for this and somehow was selected. It was me and another spoken word artist (Nafeesa Monroe) and I think a musician or two. And yes, I got out there on the stage of the Open Air Amphitheater and let my poems fly. It was 2003.
31. have a loving, supportive family – maybe this goes without saying, but it shouldn’t so I’m saying it. Without the love and support of my amazing mom and dad and sister, I couldn’t have done all these crazy, wonderful things. My extended family, aunts, uncles, cousins, are also pretty damn cool, as well as my “in-love” family (Han’s side).
32. helping to raise a young woman – I don’t have kids of my own, by choice, but I’m helping to raise Han’s daughter, D. Over the years, there have been some trying times, but I know that my influence touches her, even if in small ways. She is becoming an incredible person, and I’m happy to be part of her life.
33. own a car – one that I paid for myself, my 1999 Dodge Dakota (“Lucy”) is all mine, twice over. I paid off the loan a few years ago, but then had to re-finance it when I was having some money issues. But now, I’ve paid it off again, and that truck, that’s been owned by my dad and my sister and has had more than its share of repair, is paid for. 🙂
34. taken a road trip in a semi-truck – when I was a little girl, my dad was a long-haul truck driver. One time I remember he took me with him on a trip to Colorado. I’m sure there’s a lot I’m forgetting, but the one thing I remember is that we stayed in a motel that overlooked a drive-in movie place and you could stay in your room and still watch and hear the movie, through the radio or a speaker or something. We had pizza and watched a drive-in movie from the comfort of our room. And then in the morning, we loaded up and were off again. That was awesome.
35. published songwriter – I believe I have 2 songwriting credits out on different albums. “For Lillian” which is a co-write with Han is on Acoustic Duo’s 4th album and on Rock Band’s only album. “Boomerang Love” is a co-write with Han and Tim Flannery and appears on Rock Band’s album. There is also a 3rd uncredited contribution. “Waiting on a Friend” which is on Tim Flannery’s album “Highway Song.” I’m even registered with BMI, you can look me up!
36. helped bring poetry slams to San Diego – after my Laguna Beach experience (see # ), I wanted to bring that excitement to San Diego. I set up independent events at Java Joe’s and the Ould Sod, until one of my friends, Robt O’Sullivan Schleith, decided to do it for real. He set up a weekly reading that was for slams, got it certified, and slam teams from San Diego began going to nationals. The slam is now run by Elevated. I went to the reading one time and was super impressed by the crowd and the intensity. I saw a couple people from ‘back in the day’ who remembered me. That was nice, but it was never mine. I just helped it along.
37. completed a Rubic’s cube side with my feet (4th grade) – Is this a talent? I’m not sure, but it’s what I did for the talent show in 4th grade. It was just in the classroom. I remember that I went up to the front of the class and sat in a chair and manipulated the cube with my feet. People watched, but it was going to take some time so other people got up and did their talent as I stayed up there. Totally random, right?
38. keep my hair natural – And what hair it is! It’s become my symbol, trademark, whatever. I like to say, “It just grows out of my head this way.” It’s curly, grey, and long. I just don’t think about doing anything with it (coloring etc). I love my hair and I’ll let it do whatever it wants.
39. worked in a bookstore, flower shop (1 day), and been a magazine editor – dream jobs – Yep, dream jobs. I’ve had ’em! I worked at Crown Books my sophomore year of college. I loved it so much. When we had to close, I would actually go around and straighten the books, vacuum, whatever needed to be done while my co-workers lounged about and made fun of me for actually working.
I worked at a flower shop for one day in high school. It was during the prom season and they were short-handed. I remember putting pins in the rose heads so they would stay upright. Look out, Frankie. I might come calling for a job someday!
I was the editor of Fitness Runner magazine from 1999 – 2005 or 2006. That was an incredible experience. From planning what articles to include in each issue, to finding writers for those articles, to working with the art director (Cathy Grawin) for hours on end to put the magazine together, I was thoroughly satisfied with every issue we put out. It was for the magazine that I got to travel to Jamaica (see # 19) and South Dakota (see # 25). And I made a terrific friend in Cathy. She is a wonderful, positive influence in my life.
40. was a contributor to Next… Magazine – as part of my indoctrination into the Southern CA poetry scene, I spent a lot of time in Orange County, but I lived in San Diego. G. Murray Thomas asked me if I would be the San Diego correspondent for Next… I don’t recall the number of years I contributed, maybe 2-3? But I wrote reviews, kept a calendar etc. I guess it was the next step from the hotline (see # 13). Plus I met so many amazing writers who are still at it today, tearing up the poetry world in a most triumphant way.