i'm reading you loud and clear

It's all about the gmail. New email to the right. Read it, copy it, paste it, write it, send it. In short, email it to me, the gapgirl is ready for mail.



don’t pass me by (an LA chronicle)

I’m sitting at the Getty along a path to the side of one of the buildings. I’m in the shade and leaning against the structure’s massive stonewall. I’m on a pathway to a terrace though it’s a path that is almost hidden. People have to navigate around me as they walk through. I wish they’d go away and leave this public space private, for me only.

I can see a vast view of LA from where I sit from the hills to the oceans. Ahead and slightly to the right is a small clump of tall buildings that make up downtown. Beverly Hills is just below me. There is a fire billowing on a mountain a few miles away. It’s in Santa Clarita a passerby says. The smoke won’t reach LA because the winds blow toward the east, toward the mountains. It looks both ominous and soft, like a cloud. To the left and over the hills from the Getty is the Valley and Pasadena, though I can’t see them I know they are there with clichéd houses and perfect lawns. There is smog that hangs in the air between the landscape and the sky, a visible reminder of this cities population. To my right, if I careen around I can see the sea and Catalina Island poking its head just above the haze. The 405 are below me and the traffic crawls from north and south. Planes line up in the sky ahead, waiting to land at LAX.

This city is huge, a massive gallimaufry of rich and poor, everyday and famous. The rich build houses on the mountains or even cliffs, ignoring the impending possibility of earthquakes. They look like cracker or thin wafers that could tumble down like rocks sliding. California has it’s own style to everything, but the houses in LA interest me the most. Their style is a mix of Mediterranean, Spanish, and American classic. The rich, modern houses are minimalist with hard lines and lots of glass, but mostly there is stucco, tan and smooth. It is the red brick of southern California.

The Getty is an amazing place. , a free art museum, open to the public. But, people don’t usually come for the art; they come to see the Getty. It is a vast structure of buildings placed on a hillside overlooking all this city has to offer. It is made of an off-white stone creating straight lines and curved walls. The landscaping is immense, green, and perfect. Fountains pop up in many places, an offering of serenity. The buildings are so large that looking back on them from on of the many terraces and seeing people walking around on the balconies and inside through the glass, they look like tiny bugs, like insignificant, unimportant things.

People stand against the railings where I sit. They squint and point trying to comprehend what they see. The wind is strong at times on this hill. They sun beats down an arid hotness, but in the shade of the building, a chill awaits.



ee oo ee oo

Happy Birthday A.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What to say about A.? Only she will know what the title of this post means. She is a dear college friend whom I lived with for 4 years, 4 crazy party filled and chilled out years. When I first met her I didn’t think I liked her because she is so honest that it can be abrupt at times. Then, her roommate went home for an extended time due to illness and A. and I became good friends and I saw her kinder, gentler side. I ended up staying in her roommates bed quite often because my roommate was a freak of nature and I just needed to get away even if it was across the hall. I’m so glad we became friends and that she is in my life.

A. is the kind of friend who is there for you no matter what. She’ll be there to help you move in to your new apartment or celebrate you graduation a year after she celebrated her own. She is honest and doesn’t judge. When confronted with people who are quite strange she says, “it takes all kinds to make the world go round.” We use to rag her in college because the words “my mommy says” preceded almost every piece of factual or advice laden talk. Well, her mommy did a great job. She is a great girl and a good friend.

She married a few years ago. He is a boy who counteracts all that we college friends thought she was. He is country and mild mannered and loves hunting and listens to country music and watches racing. A. was a bit wild in college so when we found out her choice we were a little confused. It turns out that the domesticated life filled with good cooking and family all around is really her true self. Her in-laws love her as much as we do and she has found a niche for herself and her husband. They are beginning to build a house on 20 acres of land in the country soon. I tell her that as soon as she puts a pool in I’ll be there.

I bow to A. and P. land on this auspicious day and bid you a good one. May tiny pictures from walmart decorate the halls. Happy Birthday, ~ Azafata.




Why people? Again, google has sent someone to my site who typed in "together to pee." I just... I just... don't understand.



the art of losing isn't hard to master

Ahh, little Elizabeth Bishop was so right. So, I've lost my keys. They are in North Carolina. I am not. I didn't realize I didn't have them until I awoke from the early morning drive back to my parents' house. Many phone calls later, they are hopefully being fedexed to me and will arrive Tuesday sometime. I'm trapped at my parents' house which isn't bad except when you want to be in your home, you want to be in your home. And I, want to be in my home. Say some prayers people, may fedex not lose THAT package. I've never lost my keys before and really it's not a huge deal though it may look like (WRITE it) like disaster.



cigars all around

The LA chronicles are not over, but I have been busy washing clothes, making gifts, and repacking for another weekend of wedding festivities. So, I’ll be away from bloggerland for another few days. In the meantime go to my little blogchild’s site. Yes, yes, Anna has a child, in bloggerland that is. Go, read, comment. WahooBuckeye needs you.



i’ve fallen in love

with another city. I never thought I would like Los Angeles. Never. I thought I was an East Coast girl through and through. Turns out, I could go either way.

Los Angeles isn’t anything I thought it would be. It wasn’t as flashy as I had imagined. It didn’t seemed as pretentious as it looks on TV and there was no preparing me for the weather. LA was amazing and good to me.

I tend to fall in love with most cities that I visit. Maybe it’s because travel is a carefree existence or maybe it’s because each city beckons to a different part of me. Why did I fall in love with LA? Well, it isn’t the rat race it seems to be or maybe I never came in contact with part of it. And the sun shines everyday. There are never clouds in the sky or rainy, mucky days (there are also not stars). I knew this about LA, but I didn’t believe it. My clouded East Coast brain couldn’t fathom endless days of pure sunshine. How could you be sad in a place like this because whatever happens, at least it’s a beautiful day.

My love for LA is fleeting, though. I know when I am home I’ll settle back into the humidity and heat and then the cool air of fall and the snow of winter. I would miss the seasons if I lived here. Endless days of sitting by the pool would begin to disorient me. Life here would be like an endless vacation. It would be like play, like pretend, just beyond the touch of reality. And my love for LA is not true because it is shared with my love for London, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Morehead City. LA is just another city to add to the list of places I could live if I ever decided to pack up and leave the state and family I know so well. I never do make plans to move to the cities I love so much because I think if I lived there the magic would begin to disappear after a time and I don’t want that to happen. I’d rather hold these cities in my heart as perfect gems nestled on hillsides or islands or by the sea, covered in fog or basking in sunlight.



i like a good beer buzz early in the morning

Lots of things to say, but I'm tired and trying to get back to east coast time. I love and miss LA. It changed me. I'll tell ya all about it later. Time to watch movies and relax.



please place your seats and tray tables in the upright and locked position

I’m off to LA for fun in the sun with my best friend. It’s the last of a girl’s romp before she (you guessed it) gets married. I plan to do some touristy things and then just hang with my best gal pal. I miss her and I’ll miss her even more when she gets hitched because girlfriends change ever so slightly when marriage happens. I was hoping we’d hop over to Vegas for the weekend, but we’ve opted for time in LA with her fiancé. Well, I love them both, loads and loads. I’m excited to see them, either in a flashy city or just in their living room. Have to say though, kinda wish I was going to see a Vegas show.

I’ll blog at ya next week. Blogger back ya’ll.



freedom fries and other things

We at mind the gap are a happy and loving lot. We like diversity and we like to celebrate with our friends when they have things to celebrate. Today is such a day! Today is Bastille Day in France, a day of celebrating the end of monarchal rule. And so, in honor of our French friends, a list of things we love from France, or things that France pimped out to us.

• the Statue of Liberty
• le baguette (yummy)
• the colors of the French flag
• fashion
• le croissant (even yummier)
• Dijon mustard
• Champagne
• Cannes Film Festival
• toy dogs (because the French took them everywhere long before Paris Hilton was born)
• Jaques Costeau
• Les Mis (though in French it would be lost on me)
• Jean-Marc Gaspard Itard and the wild boy of Aveyron
• Matisse, Degas, La Tour, Cezanne, Monet, Rodin, Renior, to name a few
• Joan of Arc
• “Let them eat cake.”

This list does not endorse the loving of all things French because those French didn’t go to Iraq with us so we said "the heck with you too." Our amazing and welcoming country forgot that French troops helped us in the American Revolution and about the gift that France once bestowed on us, the Statue of Liberty, and said, "We’ll call French fries, Freedom fries instead," ignoring the fact that French fries are actually from Belgium. “Ha, take that you French,” our government said. Well, those French were pretty spot on and had a sense that Bush was blowin’ smoke about weapons of mass of nothin’. Darn those French! Happy Bastille Day everyone!



simple gifts

The Shakers say it is a gift to be simple and a gift to be free. “Simple Gifts” is an old shaker song written in 1848 and it is one of my favorites. It is a song about simplicity, but it also says that “when we find ourselves in the place just right, we will be in the house of love and delight.” While the house of love and delight sounds like a cheesy, incense burning, hippy joint, the sentiment is what gets me. I like the idea that when we are true to ourselves we will find the simplicity of life which ultimately brings peace.

But it’s not always so such a simple gift. We are all given gifts to some degree. We are can run companies, we can cook amazing food, we can play an instrument, we can balance budgets, we grow a garden, we can teach someone to read, we can diagnosis symptoms, we can write, we can act, or we can see the world differently through the lens of a camera. We all have talents and gifts which should be a part of our everyday lives. The act of doing what you are good at, what you are talented in, is itself simplicity and freedom.

My cousin B. is an amazing photographer. She has an eye like no one I’ve seen. She loves taking pictures of things like rust and wood. She can take scenery and portraits, but these are not her specialty. Those shots are easy and generic, anyone can do them. The passion she sees through her lens are things we would easily pass over. B. hones in on the things that we feel corrode of corrupt surfaces. Somehow, B. finds the beauty in them and she shows rust and corrosion as art. And she does it so well.

She has never sold a photograph and has pretty much stopped taking pictures creatively when she left college. All because the cost of taking and developing pictures is too much for her budget. I’m saddened by this and I tell her often that she has to start taking pictures again, that she has to use her gift. It is a gift to be simple and a gift to be free and sometimes we have to fight to use those gifts. If our favorite writers and actors and doctors and teachers didn’t use their gifts, where would we be? How many times has your life been changed by someone else’s gift? I know that B. is scared and I understand it. Putting your creative self out for the world to reject is a terrifying thing. But that simple Shaker song says that “When true simplicity is gain'd, To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd, To turn, turn will be our delight, Till by turning, turning we come round right” So bow and bend B., simply use your gift, you’ll turn round right.



love is patient, love is kind, love...

Numero dos is done. Two weddings down, three to go.

The other day I received yet another wedding invitation. As I perused the oh so familiar oversized envelope I wondered, “Who is getting married now?” I thought I was aware of all the weddings for this season. Apparently now, but I was relieved to find out it is a second cousin. I’m not close to her, so the pain of another wedding was lessened at bit. It would actually be fine if I didn’t make it to this one. But, it is in Florida in September. Either that would be a great time to get a last minute tan or to see the wrath of a fabulous hurricane since it is the middle of that season. I don’t know if I’ll go. It would really be a weekend of hanging out with the rents which, let’s face it, I do enough of in my own apartment when they decide to come visit, often. I am; however, quite happy for this cousin as it is her second time of engagement though the first for actual invitations. She’s in her late thirties and that alone gives me a bit of hope and room to breathe.

Tonight was a great wedding. The drinks flowed and good food was served and we ate dinner overlooking a lake at sunset. There were people I’ve never seen before and familiar faces from all the showers and pre-parties. There were good friends and new friends and family. And there was dancing and pictures and smiling and happiness and love, lots of love all around.

Starting at 3pm in a Catholic Church, I nestled in to back row pew and beckoned friends to follow suit. Our row, full of teachers, was the official peanut gallery. We could hear and eye everything from out backseats, the late comers, the whispers, the crying children, the brat child telling her mother to “shush,” we saw it all and yet WE kept quiet.

Not being Catholic, we were worried that this would be what my Dad likes to call and “aerobics class” service. You know, up down, up down, kneel, up down, kneel, etc. But, my good friend L. and C. decided on a Catholic light service since they too are Catholic light, if anything. The wedding was short and pretty with well-chosen songs and readings. The parish was beautiful. I always love big, cathedral parishes; they almost make me want to be Catholic.

I go to so many weddings that I could probably recite the scriptures and the vows by heart, but this wedding did not bore me and when L. walked down the isle with tears in her eyes I kinda welled up myself. I’m not a crier at weddings. In fact, I thought for a long time that I had a stone heart because of my lack of crying at weddings. Everyone else gets caught of in the emotions and you see women dabbing their eyes and bridesmaids pulling Kleenex wrapped about their bouquets. I’ve never needed a Kleenex at a wedding and have always though “Yeah, it’s a wedding, what’s the fuss, why are you crying?” But, today, for L., I understood a little more. She’s almost 31 and the tears in her eyes were the symbols of her waiting so long for that man who loves and respects her and that she in turn loves and respects. He’s not a perfect man, but he is one with whom she can share a life and so she cried for all that she is getting as she walked toward him. And when I saw her crying, walking with her father, I thought of myself and if I ever find that man I’m sure then that my stone heart will certainly melt and tears will run down my face as I walk toward him too.

Cheers to L. and C., may you live happily ever after!



the last of the syllabus

So I haven’t been great at blogging lately, especially since I returned from vacation. I even wrote those beach ones on vacation when I was up late at night and bored. But, now back at home there are things to distract me. I should be writing all day since I have no job, but I picked up a few kids to consult on and tutor so that takes up a few hours a week and then well, today, I’m just procrastinating. I have my final paper due for a class that finished on Tuesday night. The paper was actually due Tuesday, but she gave us an extension and I took it. I am the worst procrastinator. I will put things off until it is 2 hours to deadline, but this stress is really what gets my creativity and productivity going. I’ve tried to be diligent and work on things early and it is so lackluster that it seems a waste of time. I’ve tried to put my own deadlines on things to make me work on it and then go play, but no, again, I don’t fall for my own tricks. So, today, I probably should have turned it in sometime this morning, but she didn’t give us a time and so I haven’t started. But, now, now I’m getting ready to start. It should only take two hours or so, unless I read some blogs, or turn on the TV, or have to call that friend back, or have to find that CD that’s been missing for 3 months because only THAT CD will make me productive. Anyway, off to work on it, *wink*.



i met a boy

I met him two weeks ago before I went to the beach. I’ve been thinking about him ever since and am so happy when I see him. He lights up my face and makes me feel like I have the best life in the world. He is amazing. I’ve even met his family and they are amazing. He has a brother and sister and his dad his handsome and his mother is kind. They are calm and centered and welcoming. On Monday, his mother gave me five ears of corn, just because.

This boy is undescribable. It doesn’t matter what I write because you can’t possibly get the full scope of him. He has wisps of blond hair and blue eyes and when he says my name I melt. His personality shines even when he is in a different room. He is sweet and cuddly and playful and so much fun. And the reason that he lights up my day and makes me want to appreciate everything that I have is because he can’t walk because of a tumor on his spine and he has cancer and Downs Syndrome and he’s four years old. He deserves to live until he is 80 years old with a life filled with happiness and productivity and good people all around him. He deserves so much this little one, this boy that I met.



the crystal coast

Morehead City, NC. On the Bogue Sound. When you hit Morehead City limits you know you are at the beach. Windows are being rolled down and the warm, musty salt air begins to hit your face. Your hair begins to curl almost instantly. You know good grits are on their way too because beach water makes the best grits. You cross the bridge over the Bogue Sound and see a glimpse of that magical water, part lake, part ocean, part river, all saltwater and controlled by the tides. There are clams and oysters and sand dollars and porpoises in this water too and you wish you were staying on the sound. At the light after the bridge you take a right toward pine knoll shores, just a few miles away from Atlantic Beach, from you childhood.

The house sits in front of the ocean, facing what seems to be an endless amount of water. You can’t believe there is actually something beyond the point that your eye can’t see. The horizon is so far away that you see whole clouds from top to bottom in the distance. Some nights, there are storms at sea, you see the lightning, but the rain and thunder never make it to shore. You wonder what good a storm at sea does, were any boats caught in it?

Some days the wind is so strong on the beach that you have to stay in or go to the inlet or to Fort Macon or a day trip to Beaufort. Some days there is no wind and the heat comes off the sand like it is willing you to leave. Some days the rain comes in at lunchtime and moves you from your saltwater post. Everyday, you want more, more sand clinging to your toes, more saltwater up your nose. The ocean pummels and turns you out. You keep going back to it.

In low tide there are tidal pools a short distance from the dune. These are your favorite. There is enough seawater to float you on a raft and as the tide is leaving there are enough waves to keep you moving. The tidal pool is the best of all worlds, no thought of a rip current and all the luxury of

On calm nights the moon glows in the sky so bright that the reflection off the water mimics daytime. You swear you could see by it. You know that nighttime is the best time on the beach. The beach is yours then because no else ventures to the beach at night. You sit on the deck and look at the horizon or the shape of the moon. You feel like you have a secret that no one else really wants to know about. How could anyone not love the beach more at night? You don’t understand the fascination with the daytime, the sun and the rain, when the nighttime brings the moon and crabs and loggerhead turtles. You know the secret and though you try to share it, others prefer sleep.

Soon you must leave the crystal coast of North Carolina. No other beaches in the world will compare. There is simplicity and elegance in North Carolina’s crystal coast. There are very few trappings of fancy dwellings or pools seamlessly flowing into the ocean. There are just beach houses, many are old, and some are new or just well kept. But the house isn’t important, it’s the beach the matters. It’s the weather and the sand and the promise of good shell hunts. It’s suntans and bathing suits and rinsing off before you come inside. It’s a morning swim then lunch then back again then dinner out. It’s beach towels draped over the deck at the end of the day. It’s the day’s catch on the pier or at the surf. It’s floppy hats and sun visors and sunscreen and big umbrellas. It’s rafts and buckets and shovels and sandcastles. It’s enduring the grit of the sand and the stickiness of the water. It’s the oldies station on the radio and it’s your family all around. It’s the beach in North Carolina and part of you doesn’t ever want to leave.


the beach house

A rental for a week for your family, but a house to someone else. The evidence of the family who owns the house is all around. The selection of beach reads on the bookcase in the hall, a small sampling of games with missing pieces in the living room, pictures of the grandpa who worked his whole life to buy the house, artwork from local artists, and the choice of curtains that don’t match the furniture. You enter a rental house like you enter a hotel. You know it is not yours yet you will treat it is such for the next week all the while ever thinking about the family who calls it “our beach house.”

There have been houses that don’t lock things away. The fishing pole of the grandpa who bought the house when he retired hangs on the wall beckoning you to use it. So, you’re father does and on the first cast into the ocean he breaks it. It’s too bad the original grandfather is dead or your father would have apologized to him. Your whole family is a bit embarrassed, but your mother’s friend who rented the house said we were free to use the poles so your guilt is lessened a bit. Still, too bad about ole granddad.

There are the houses that seem to want to share the experience with you. They leave out a guest book and brochures about the area. You glance at them. There have been visitors from as far away as Ohio or as close by as New Bern. Your brother calls the travelers from New Jersey and New York Yankees. You call them Yankees too, but not out loud. They tell stories of their weeks, how much their family loved the house, the good weather they were fortunate to have, and they note their favorite restaurants. You wonder why they choose to write what they write. The guest book is quaint, but you are happiest about the tide chart on the bulletin board, now you can start your vacation.

Exploring the house, you can’t believe that people share their space so openly with others that they will never meet. The coffeepot and spoons and beds and pillows and sinks and bathtubs and deck chairs and lamps are all communal property. There are fragile things about and when your niece knocks over a lamp and it shatters feel sorry for the family again, but then you think that the owner’s expect these things; beach houses are for children too. You wonder how all the house was stocked. Did the owner’s really like the dark, dense fabric on the overstuffed couches or was the whole ensemble on sale? Did they pick up the appliances at a thrift store or are the leftovers from the family 1970s orange kitchen? Your family discusses the flaws in the house, in the decorations. They have ideas on how to make it better, what to paint or how to arrange the furniture. You are quick to remind them that it is better than any of their beach houses. Oh yeah, they don’t have beach houses. No one is amused.

Some houses have a washer and dryer and this is a luxury. You do a million loads in one week, more than if you were at home and partly just because you can. You go home with clean clothes; this you realize is quite nice. Other houses have a linen service and beds are made for you and towels are provided. You feel a bit pampered by this, but you’d rather have the washer and dryer back.

There are houses with air conditioning so strong you end up with a stuffy nose going from hot to cold to hot to cold. There are houses where your family breaks the AC and has to have the unit replaced midweek. You are again a bit embarrassed, but realize you are just helping with the maintenance of the place. Then there are houses with no air conditioning at all, just ceiling fans and the hope of good ocean breezes. These are your favorites. These remind you of camping in childhood. This is what the beach feels like to you, heat cut by cool breezes off the water. Days when there is no breeze you thank God for the invention of ceiling fans. It takes a good day to get use to the heat and the breeze, but when you do, you don’t ever want air conditioning at the beach again. You sleep in little clothing and one sheet, you like the simplicity of this type of house.

In your mind you are always building the perfect beach house. It is oceanfront with enough bedrooms to house you immediate and extended family. It is not new, it is old and well worn, and there is a lot of wood. The oceanfront deck is partly covered and partly open to the elements. There are rocking chairs and a hammock. There is a table for eating and playing cards. A walk stretches to the dune where just before the stairs begin there is another small deck with seats built in and a shower hose for rinsing off. The house has most of its bedrooms on the first floor. Upstairs, at ocean view and deck level, there is a family room and kitchen and dining room in one space. There are many large windows. The dining room table is big enough to sit 12 and there are folding tables for extra company. You want your whole family here and you create a space that allows for it. Couches in the living room turn into beds. There is a good stereo with speakers throughout the house and the deck. Oldies beach music is always on. Every bedroom has a well-made ceiling fan and can be closed off to the rest of the house so that windows can be opened at night. There are beach chairs on the deck and in the garage, waiting for the sand. They are wooden with cloth backs. There are rafts and lifejackets and paddleball sets and kites and bachi ball. The house is always full of people.



They wake up early in the morning to play together. They are little girls with smocked dresses and bows in their hair. They run around with high-pitched voices learning to share the toys they have brought, to the beach, to a family vacation.

Little girl cousins are a special thing. They are automatic playmates and best friends. They share genes and are beginning to share their lives, their growing up. They clamor to the beach with all their might, they play in the sand for hours, filling buckets, dragging water from the surf, and hunting for shells. They are adorable in their bathing suits and their skin tans easily even through super strength sun block. Their fathers or mothers take them into the water and hold them safely from the waves. The tidal pools are a perfect depth. Rafts are their best toys, but sometimes it is just their hands and the sand and saltwater. They get dirtier than they have ever been and never seem to notice the grittiness, the stickiness. They don’t want to go into the house even after hours of playing, but they love to rinse off with the hose, a semi grown up shower for a little girl.

Watching your nieces you relive your cousin time at the beach, at Salter Path Family campground, on the Bogue Sound. Your playground was the sound and your favorite things were floating on a raft on the calm water and clam digging. You and your cousins where obsessed with shells. You hunted them tirelessly throughout the days on the beach or at the inlet at the north end of the island. At the end of the shell hunts, you surveyed your treasurer. You memorized the shapes and names, the olives and whale eyes and baby cradles and cigarettes. It is years later that you realize, browsing through shell books that some names were made up by your mothers, sisters. The next morning, you woke up early to set up shop. You took boxes your mothers had packed in, turned them upside down, and laid old towels on top. You set out your shells by the side of the road in the campground. You sold seashells by the sound. You were thrilled with every purchase. After a few days of selling, you and your cousins and mothers would walk the path of the campground to the real shell shop near the main road. You were amazed with the polished shells. You bought cleaned sand dollars and gold-rimmed hermit crab shells and rope bracelets.

Your cousin still loves shells and houses them in glass jars in her home. You don’t need them around you anymore, but when you see shells or revisit the beach or see little girl cousins playing, you wish for the days at Salter Path, for the shelling and sound. You wish for you cousins and you hope the new cousins will long for their beach days and each other when they are older.

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