See you on the other side of the (Arizona) border!
See you on the other side of the (Arizona) border!
T minus 24 hours to road trip to California!
I was thinking the other day that not having human kids means that I’ll never have to feel like the Grinch who stole Thanksgiving when my kid comes home from school brimming over with warm and fuzzy stories about the “history” of “the first Thanksgiving” and I find myself unable to keep from explaining the truth behind the myth. If schools could just limit Thanksgiving holiday festivities to cute finger turkey drawings, then fine, but somehow, I don’t see them omitting the fables of the “Pilgrims and the Indians” being BFFs on “the first Thanksgiving” anytime soon.
That bit of cynicism aside, one thing that’s remained true about Thanksgiving over time is its focus on expressing gratitude for a bountiful harvest, which has broadened to include giving thanks for everything that we have, including our good health and each other. This is the aspect of the holiday that appeals to me the most – its focus on family.
Thanksgiving is this week Thursday, and we’re going to be spending it with my family. When I lived in France, I missed the comfortable proximity to my family more on Thanksgiving than at any other time. You always hear people saying, we should give thanks and express gratitude for our families every day, not just on Thanksgiving, and I agree with this, but still… Thanksgiving.
And I’m feeling so grateful for my family… the family that chose me, the one that I’ve chosen and the one that I inherited just by being alive.
We all have family, even if we think we don’t. If your circumstances are such that your actual family members are absent in the world, if you feel isolated and friendless, as long as there are people in the world, you have family.
In Hawaii, you’ll find this concept expressed openly and naturally by the locals, as the family mentality is a part of the local culture. If you’re walking along the beach and a child is playing in your path, it’s likely that the adult sitting nearby will call to the child, with firm affection, “Come over here, Bobby… let Auntie pass.” And you’ll look over at the parent to find him smiling and nodding at you with respect. Auntie. Think of it! A total stranger will see you coming and say to his child, let Auntie pass. (Yes, this happened to me.)
You are family. We’re all family. Humankind is a human family, and I believe this to be true: When there’s injustice in the world, we have to remember that we’re all brothers and sisters, and we have to allow this to give us strength. Being united gives us strength. Our interconnectedness is an absolute, even in our moments of craving our solitude, even while counting our enemies. To me, Thanksgiving is a time to remember this and to feel our bond and connection with others. Being human also means that we can lose patience and hold grudges, but on Thanksgiving, I want to be mindful of our oneness and feel grateful for what that means. We walk the same earth and breathe the same air. We can help each other and commiserate and make each other laugh and offer comfort and support as easily as we can do harm.
Happy Thanksgiving week, All.
Most of us have heard of the “11:11 phenomenon.” What does it mean to keep seeing “11:11” everywhere?
I came to my own conclusion about it rather dramatically, but it’s simple. I decided that the purported meaning of 11:11, if there is one, doesn’t matter… because for me, the only significance of 11:11 is that it’s just plain weird when you start seeing it repeatedly. I don’t feel the need to venture past that superficial level, and I wouldn’t normally even think to blog about it if it wasn’t for the bizarre set of days – five, to be exact – that just passed.
In the five-day period, my eyes happened to land on digital clock displays at exactly at 11:11 every day, sometimes more than once a day. When I say “happened to,” I mean, I wasn’t looking at the clock already, and I wasn’t thinking about the time. My eyes just naturally gravitated toward the clock exactly when the time read “11:11.” (Twice in that period, I saw 1:11, as well; I also saw, twice, 2:22. One of the 2:22s was the change on my receipt at Trader Joe’s, so I was a few days into the repeating digits bonanza and already sensitive to them.)
The weirdest of my recent 11:11 sightings occurred in California on Saturday night. What happened on Saturday night was actually beyond your normal, garden-variety weird, and I’m going to tell you about it.
It happened when Callaghan and I were lying in bed in my childhood bedroom in San Jose. The nighttime darkness in that room is complete, thanks to the window covering. We’d been in bed for about 20 minutes when a small, bright light suddenly flashed on in the darkness. Imagine it – total darkness, and then, blink! Illumination. We lifted our heads and looked around. The light was coming from the far corner of the room.
It was coming from my phone, which was lying on the dresser.
“That’s weird! Why would my phone just light up like that all of a sudden?” I asked. It had made no sound. Callaghan was already getting out of bed to investigate.
“OH MY GOD,” he said when he got there. He held up the phone and came over with its screen facing me. I looked.
The screen of my cell phone actually lit up, which I’ve never seen it do spontaneously, at exactly 11:11.
11:11 couldn’t draw more blatant attention to itself if it burst into the room clashing pots and pans together while kicking a metal garbage can against the wall. It clearly wanted to be seen.
Callaghan has the exact same phone, and his settings and mine are set the same way. HIS phone didn’t light up. Only mine did. Why? It made me wonder in spite of my generally non-superstitious self.
And I’d thought the previous day had been weird when my eyes landed on 11:11 twice during our road trip! The first time occurred as we were driving out of Arizona, and it happened again when we crossed the California border into the next time zone, causing a second 11:11 to appear an hour later. (This was two days before daylight savings moved California forward to the same time as Arizona. Arizona refuses to observe daylight savings… another bonus of living in Arizona, if you ask me.)
The weirdness of my eyes being drawn to the clock at 11:11 twice in 60 minutes in two different time zones didn’t even compare to my phone eerily, silently, inexplicably lighting up in the dark, across the room, at 11:11. But it was the reason why Callaghan was so startled when he got up to look at my phone. When the double time zone 11:11 sightings occurred, I’d been incredulous enough to tell him about the proliferation of 11:11 everywhere in my vision field recently. He was aware.
Anyway, that was apparently 11:11’s grand finale in this chapter of let’s mess with Kristi’s mind! – because I haven’t seen it again since. The five days* of 11:11 (and 1:11, and 2:22) ended there, in the quiet dark of my childhood bedroom in San Jose.
*I’m disregarding the fact that five is my lucky number. Coincidence, right?
I love Tesla’s cover of that song. “Signs.”
Well, we tried to attend a friend’s wedding in Palm Springs on Saturday. Let me tell you how that worked out.
We left late in the morning for the 3:00PM ceremony, anticipating a pleasant four-hour drive through the desert. We love driving through the desert. It was sunny and warm, and the broad sky was as gorgeous as usual. I made sandwiches. We loaded up the truck with water and a selection of our favorite driving-through-the-desert music.
The previous evening, we’d had a little mechanical drama when our truck died while we were out running errands, but when the time came to leave for California we felt confident that everything was fine because the emergency road-side service people at our insurance company had sent Steve Buscemi in a tow truck, and he’d hauled us off to Auto Zone; we had a brand-new battery under the hood thanks to him.
Steve Buscemi’s secret identical twin brother, that is. Same exact difference.
So it’s Saturday morning. We have our new battery, and we hit the road.
Not long after we cross the border into California, we break down again. It’s the same scenario as the night before, but this time, we aren’t in the parking lot of a Target, and there’s no Steve Buscemi to come to our rescue. This time, we’re in the desert on the outskirts of Blythe, conveniently close to the Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, which I’d heard has good Eggs Benedict. We just manage to coast off the Wiley’s Well Road exit to the rest area.
Callaghan and I have a long-standing habit of cracking jokes about Blythe (and Bakersfield, but that’s irrelevant), so I guess a possible moral of this story is, don’t make fun of Blythe, because if you do, you’ll break down on the road and end up spending the afternoon there.
The more likely moral of the story, though, is that we weren’t supposed to go to that wedding.
Now, I’m not a trigger-happy “signs of the Universe” type person, seeing signs everywhere, in everything, for every reason, but I do keep an open, aware mind and gauge matters according to the facts apparent in the big picture while holding my sixth-sense finger attentively on the pulse of my intuition. When the collection of “coincidences” too profoundly resembles an enormous glowing neon SIGN that we are NOT supposed to go to the wedding, it’s just plain common sense. You’re not supposed to go to the wedding. You turn around and go home as soon as you safely can.
On Saturday, the Universe plainly said, “You guys aren’t supposed to go to this wedding, and you didn’t heed my warning when your truck broke down last night, so here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to concoct another mechanical break-down, but I’m going to put all the pieces into place necessary to ensure your safety and get you home with minimal hassle. The snafu is going to be serious enough to cause you to miss the wedding completely, and dramatic enough to let you know that it’s a sign from ME and you’d better not push it by trying to get to the reception. Take the gifts I give you and use them to get home.”
And so it was that everything was exquisitely in place.
–Our truck broke down precisely when and where we could glide onto Wiley’s Well Road.
–Within ten minutes, a trucker appeared off the freeway in a vehicle whose engine was perfectly suited to jump-start our 4-Runner’s battery,
–and, being sent by the Universe, he knew the area very well, so he was able to give us specific directions to the O’Reilly Auto Parts store in Blythe.
–After we changed out our battery in Blythe and prepared to continue on to Palm Springs, we broke down again – for the third time! – when we stopped to get gas at the Valero station positioned on the on-ramp of the freeway.
Universe: WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING STILL PLANNING TO TRY TO MAKE IT TO THAT WEDDING? WHAT PART OF “YOU’RE NOT GOING TO PALM SPRINGS” DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? HERE, HAVE ANOTHER BREAK-DOWN, YOU FOOLS!
Us: Uh. Okay. Guess we’re not going to that wedding.
The day continues on in this serendipitous manner:
—Somehow, Callaghan is able to manipulate things under the hood enough to get the engine going. Back at the auto parts store, a different guy runs the diagnostics again and discovers the real problem – a dead regulator (inside the alternator). It was the alternator that killed the battery.
–An alternator specific to the make, model and year of our truck happens to be in stock.
–An auto repair shop happens to be right down the street… the O’Reilly Auto Parts guy gives us the phone number.
–By the time our transactions at the auto parts store are complete and we get to the shop, we find that the lone mechanic, who’d been working on a car and had another on deck when I’d called, had just then become available to take us. He gets right to work replacing the alternator and gives us an estimated wait time of one hour.
We walk to the Starbucks (miraculously positioned there in that tiny desert town) across the street to get some coffee while we wait. Callaghan gets online and calls Bill, one of the grooms (it was a two-groom wedding). They’d been expecting us, and we didn’t want them to worry. The ceremony is over and Bill is finally, officially married to his partner of 20 years. We congratulate them heartily. From Blythe.
We drive back to Arizona with a picturesque sunset behind us and get home just in time to feed Ronnie James and Nounours, who had no idea that Mommy and Daddy narrowly escaped some fate far worse than breaking down on the road. What unspeakable catastrophe did we avoid by not making it to Palm Springs?
We’ll never know.
One thing we do know: the Natural Born Killers soundtrack is still an entertaining soundtrack to play while driving through the desert in the American southwest.
Also, Blythe? Is a cute little place with friendly, helpful people. If you break down in the desert between Arizona and California, try to make it there.
We are here! And as of yesterday afternoon, we have internet! Once again, we’re surrounded by boxes, and this time we’re unpacking every last one of them.
We left Austin early on Friday morning, dragging our ponderous beast of a rented trailer behind us as we drove west. An unexpectedly odd sensation: 13 hours later, we were somehow still in Texas. At the half-way point, very late at night, we stopped to sleep for a few hours at a motel. We were still in Texas! It’s not even like we left from the eastern border; Austin is in central Texas. Come to find out it’s one thing to look at a map and note the area of the state compared to other states, but it’s something else entirely to take in its vastness on the road. It seemed that we drove and drove and drove, and we were still there! Under the overcast sky, it almost felt like being in the twilight zone. But we took in some charming little towns on our way out – Fredericksburg, for one (must go back for a proper visit!) – and enjoyed seeing as much of Texas as we could until the sun went down.
The next day, right on cue, the sky turned bright blue and sunny when we reached the actual southwest. It was like we entered New Mexico under a party of sunbeams, and when we crossed the border into Arizona, the broad desert sky was like a gorgeous, familiar embrace.
I can be a vainglorious beast when I have a camera in my hand. I mean, I can get overly serious about taking pictures. At least I recognize this distinction: You have your real photographers, both amateur and professional, people equip with raw talent, people who are visionary and intuitive with their cameras, hard-working and trained artists. Then you have people like me, the pointers-and-clickers. But I am quite the pointer-and-clicker, if I do say so!
All of this to say that yesterday we returned from a road trip (14 hours, total) through 7-8 départements to the center of France (to visit a friend), and here are pictures – a little bit of atmosphere from the passenger-in-the-moving-vehicle perspective.
Coffee at McDonald’s. Camenbert burger, anyone?