Category Archives: Memories

Mix Tapes

Nate and I have an on-going, years long project cleaning out the cellar.  It’s so on-going, in fact, that it never gets any more cleaned out, because by the time we get around to getting rid of a batch of stuff, more stuff has accumulated to take its place.  Yet we persevere.

A couple of weeks ago, we finally unpacked the very last box from our move, (ahem) 10 years ago.  It was full of old picture frames and a Tape/CD player combo stereo unit.  And… a little box full of my old mix tapes.

When I was in high school, before I could afford a CD player, I taped songs off the radio.  I would have my little radio/tape deck on record-pause, and I would hear a favorite song come on the radio, and I’d leap across the bed and un-pause the record as soon as the DJ stopped talking.  The worst was when he talked over the first bit of the song and I had to wait for them to play it again!  I listened to KYUU, KMEL, K101, and there was also an oldies station that for the life of me I can’t remember.  Anyway, I would flip back and forth across the dial, waiting for my favorite songs to play.

Unbelievably, we still have a working tape player in the house.  It hasn’t been used in who knows how many years, but I loaded up “Radio Songs #1” and was instantly transported back to what must have been the first few months of 1987.  Age – 13.



Please notice, first of all, that heaven is spelled “Heavan,” and that at least a quarter of the song titles are completely wrong.  “Madeline Rain” is actually Bruce Hornsby’s “Mandolin Rain.”  Some of these songs are great, enduring songs.  Some of them I didn’t remember until I heard them again.  It was like going back in time.  Here is a complete track listing, just in case you want to visit 1987 for yourself:

Side A:

Respect Yourself – Bruce Willis

Better Than Heaven – Stacey Q

That’s Just the Way It Is – Bruce Hornsby

Walk Like an Egyptian – The Bangles

Johnny – El Debarge

Will You Still Love Me – Chicago

Rumors – Timex Social Club

Land of Confusion – Phil Collins

Suburbia – Pet Shop Boys

Shout – Tears For Fears

Lean on Me – Club Nouveau

Control – Janet Jackson

Sheila – Ready for the World

Side B:

True Colors – Cindy Lauper

Mandolin Rain – Bruce Hornsby

Peter Gunn – The Art of Noise

Coming Around Again – Carly Simon

Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now – Starship

The Lion Sleeps Tonight – The Tokens

Wot’s It To Ya? – Robbie Nevil

La Isla Bonita – Madonna

(I Just) Died In Your Arms – Cutting Crew

The Finer Things – Steve Winwood

Let’s Hear It For the Boy – Deniece Williams

Sign o’ the Times – Prince

Human – Human League

You’re welcome, world.






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Memory Monday

This is one of my kid’s favorite stories about my childhood.  The last summer that we lived in North Carolina, my parents enrolled me in a theater camp for 9 and 10 year olds.  I was only 8, but they fudged my birthday to get me in.  The play was about a group of people who were owned by dogs, rather than the other way around.  I played Old Lady Sarah, and I was owned by a bull-dog.  I wore my hair in a bun, and we colored it gray by sprinkling baby powder in it.  I remember it being fun, and I still remember some of the songs from the play – Thank You Very Much (I just googled – it’s apparently a song from Scrooge: The Musical), and Me and My Shadow.

So, as we’re approaching the big performance, we went on the local morning television program to sing and advertise the play.  We were all lined up, and I was at the end of the first row.  We sang, and then the anchor, or host, or whatever you’d call him, brought the microphone up… to me.  I was, of course, terrified.  Not only was I shy, and didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I was also an imposter, being an 8 year old in a camp specifically for 9 and 10 year olds!  He asked my name, and I replied.  Then he asked the the most dreaded question, “And how old are you?”  I gulped, and said, in a half whisper, half panicked scream, “Nine!”  He moved on to talk to someone else while I waited for my heart to stop racing and the room to stop spinning.

When I got home that evening, my mom said that everyone at work had watched our performance, and that they all laughed and laughed when I told him that I was nine, because I was so very clearly lying.  To this day, I cannot lie – my heart races, I get the nervous laughter.  You can tell from a mile away that I’m not being truthful.  I feel that my inability to lie is a corollary to my secret super-power: I can tell when people are lying.  It’s true.  Just ask my children.

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Memory Monday

I was reminded of this memory while talking with a co-worker this week.  She told me about how her husband tried to dig a rock out of their lawn, and kept digging and digging and digging, and finally realizing that the rock was HUGE, and only the very tippity-top was poking out above the surface.

That made me think of Nate and the Great Swing-Set Debacle of 1998.  We bought our house in Berkeley in 1996, and slowly started working on the yard.  We had a small back yard (the house being on a corner lot), and there was an ancient iron bar which probably had once upon a time held a swing.  It was basically the 1940’s version of a swing set.  We didn’t have kids, and didn’t know when we would have kids, so we thought, “Well, let’s get rid of that thing.”

So Nate started digging.  We figured the bar went down a little ways under the dirt, and we’d pull it up and take it to the dump and voila – all set.  Then we realized that the ends were encased in concrete under the soil.  So we kept digging.  And when I say “we”, I mean Nate.  And we dug, and dug, and dug.  Finally – FINALLY – we were able to rock the end loose and pull it up.  It weighed a ton!  And there were 2 of them!  They were so heavy that we had to take them to the dump separately – the car couldn’t take the weight of both of them at the same time.


The proud papa.


It’s hard to get the perspective from this picture! But that’s a three foot deep hole!!

Our yard in Berkeley ended up being lovely.  We had three plum trees, a gorgeous fuchsia, a giant lavender plant, a rosemary bush taller than I am, a clematis climbing a trellis… it’s amazing to think how different the climate is between here and there.  Stay tuned for a post about gardening and composting 3000 miles away from the temperate climes of the Bay Area!

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Memory Monday

VolvoRemember how I said way back in June of 2011 that I was going to post a picture and a memory every Monday?  Hahahahahaha.  Well, I’ve been meaning to write about our old Volvo ever since I was reminded of a particular incident during our big blizzard a few weeks ago.  My family purchased a Volvo almost exactly like this one when  I was 8, so in 1981 or 1982.  We thought it was COOL, because it had an actual tape player in it.  So we promptly went out and bought the soundtrack to Annie.  Anyway, it was a good car.  It moved with us from North Carolina to Berkeley.  I learned to drive up and down the hills of the Bay Area in it.  My parents gave it to me when we needed a second car, and we ended up selling it when we moved back east.  I’m sure it’s still driving around Berkeley.  If you see a white Volvo wagon with a family practice sticker on the back window – that’s it!

So my memory is this – it’s sometime in January of 1995.  I’m 20 and home from school on winter break.  Nate, who at the time was my new, hot boyfriend, has flown out to spend a week skiing in Tahoe with me and my parents.  We’re driving up in the Volvo, and it’s snowing very heavily.  They were requiring chains on 80, so we had stopped and dad and Nate had struggled with the chains for quite awhile, but we were back on our way.  We soldiered on, and didn’t realize it, but they closed the pass pretty much right after we went through.  So we’re driving slowly along, it’s very dark, and suddenly there is a very sharp  odor of oil pouring in through the heating vents.  The engine temperature very shortly spikes up into the red, and my dad pulls over.  We all get out, and my dad opens the hood.  We peer in, and I see flames on the engine.  The engine is actually on fire.  So I turn around, screaming (thankfully in my head), “Run for your lives!” and run as fast as my legs will carry me up the road, putting as much distance between me and the car as possible.  I’ve seen plenty of car explosions in movies – it doesn’t take much to get a car to explode!

Once I’m far enough away that I think an exploding car probably won’t cause grievous injury, I turn around, panting.  Down the hill, there is  a smoking engine, as  well as three people looking at me like I’ve lost my mind.  They have, as a level-headed person might, dumped plenty of snow onto the engine to cool it down, and are now laughing at me a quarter mile up the road.  I sheepishly came back, and we all climbed into the car to wait for a tow truck.  This was before cell phones (cough – I’m old – cough), but luckily we had a kick-ass mounted car phone, so we were able to call for help.  We had to wait about two hours – they had to open the pass back up before a tow-truck could get through, and then the tow-truck guy just hooked us up and let us all ride in the car while he towed it, which I’m pretty sure is illegal now.

He actually towed us all the way to the condo.  We were cold and tired, and took hot showers and went to bed.  And would you believe it?  The damn thing started up just fine the next morning.  My dad drove it into Truckee, got the hose replaced, and hey presto, we were back in business.  That is just one story about that old Volvo.  It really was a good car.  It was boxy, but it was good.

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Memory Monday

A day late.

So my oldest left town yesterday to go on the annual fifth grade field trip.  They go for four days and three nights to a camp about an hour away, and spend their time doing team-building exercises, working on science experiments, and exploring nature.  It sounds great.  But it was hard to see him go.  He’s never been away from us this long.  And it’s really AWAY – there is no contact.  I can’t call up and chat before bed.  Well, I probably could, but I don’t want the poor kid to be laughed at because of his high-strung mother.

This trip has reminded me of the class trip I went on in the seventh grade.  We did a school exchange program with a small town in California’s central valley called Coalinga.  It’s a farming town, about as different from Berkeley as you can get.  My best friend, Jane, and I stayed with a girl whose name was Alma.  She and her family were immigrant farm workers.  Their house had burned down several years before, and the only thing that had survived was a photo album that someone had grabbed as they were running out of the house.  They were poor.  Their house was tiny.  All three of us slept together in a twin bed.  We had Kraft macaroni and cheese for dinner.  Alma and her family were so nice – we were fast friends.  Most of the other kids in our class stayed with kids on the other side of the tracks.  They had guest rooms and game rooms and swimming pools.  They had fun, but I think Jane and I were lucky to meet Alma and her family.  We stayed in touch for several years – I wonder where she is now?

Anyway, the reason I was thinking about this trip is that I was thinking I’m so glad that they’re doing this in the fifth grade and not the seventh grade.  Seventh graders get into trouble.  The hormones are starting to rage, some kids are starting to experiment with drugs and alcohol.  In the fifth grade, the most trouble they’re going to get into is someone’s going to try to smuggle in an iPod or something.  I remember on the bus on the way back from Coalinga, we were playing truth or dare in the back of the bus.  Every time a teacher would look back, we’d all shut up and stare out the window and look bored, and then we’d go right back to it. Anyway, I kissed Chris Larson.  It was a dare.  My first kiss was a dare.  I was so grossed out (no offense, Chris!) that when I got home I actually washed my mouth out with soap.  You’d think I would have just thoroughly brushed my teeth, but I guess that wasn’t going to be good enough!

So – Jake comes back on Thursday.  I’m expecting him to be very dirty and very tired.  And wearing a big smile.  And I’m pretty sure he won’t have kissed anyone on a dare.


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Memory Monday

Since our bout with Irene and several drenching days of rain since, our ground has been extremely moist.  So moist, in fact, that mushrooms in these parts are flourishing.  They are sprouting in the lawn, laddering their way up trees… they’re everywhere.

I have trained my children to never touch a wild mushroom.  Yes, we don’t even touch them.  That’s because when I was about three years old, I picked a mushroom from the front yard and ate it.  I remember it very clearly.  I remember being whisked into the house, made to drink ipecac, and then sitting in the bathtub for several hours as I repeatedly threw up.  Again and again.  I do believe I was an adult before another molecule of mushroom passed my lips – this time the store variety.

Now, I’m a bit of a connoisseur of mushrooms – portobellas, shitake, crimini.  Yummy.  But never a mushroom from the yard.  Never.  Shudder.

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Memory Monday

In April of 2001, Nate and I decided to go to Hawaii, kind of as a last hurrah before Jake was born.  I was seven months pregnant, and Maui seemed perfect.  And for the most part, it was.  We laid around by the pool, drank (virgin, in my case) mai tais, and drove around to see the sites.  But then we decided to take a day-trip snorkeling.

We were supposed to go out to Molokini, which is a partially submerged volcanic crater off the coast of Maui.  I had been there before, and the snorkeling is really amazing.  However, the water was exceptionally rough that day, so the ride out was really choppy, and once we got there, they decided it wasn’t safe to snorkel, and we would go to a different location that was shielded from the wind.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I get seasick.  Easily.  Like I’m feeling queasy right now just thinking about being on a boat.  I usually take medication if I’m going to be on a boat, but because I was pregnant, I was unwilling to medicate, and so I purchased some seabands at the drugstore and hoped for the best.  Wishful thinking.  By the time we turned around to go to the other location, I was standing at the side of the boat praying that if I threw up it would make it all the way to the water without splashing anyone on the way down.

So we finally got there, and I hadn’t thrown up.  I was the first person into the water, and quickly swam away from the boat so that I could hurl in private.  And hurl I did.  Copiously.  Luckily, when you’re pregnant you have your own built-in floatation device, because otherwise I hurled so much I might have drowned.

Here’s the dirty little secret about vomiting while you’re snorkeling.  Best snorkeling ever.  The fish swarmed around me and couldn’t get enough.  I saw more fish on this snorkeling trip than in all my previous snorkeling trips combined.  It was really amazing, and as much fun as you can have while you’re puking your guts out.

Eventually my stomach calmed down, and I swam over to Nate and we paddled around for awhile, saw some sea turtles, laughed about the puke.  My goal was to be the very last person back on the boat.  Boat bad.  Water good.  So we’re swimming around while everyone else is climbing back onto the boat.  Suddenly, Nate looks at me with a look of absolute horror on his face.  My first thought was, “SHARK!”  But no, he was frantically pointing to his hand and trying to shout something at me through his snorkel gear.

I finally realize that he’s pointing to where his wedding ring should be.  He sees that I understand what he’s getting at, and he points down to the floor of the ocean.  It’s crystal clear, but the bottom is 20 feet away.  We swim around searching the bottom, but see no glint of gold winking back up at us, and the boat is issuing its last call, and it’s time to go.  So we say goodbye to Nate’s wedding band, and swim back to the boat.

We’ve never replaced Nate’s band.  The fact is, he had lost about 30 pounds in the year leading up to this moment, and it was bound to happen at some point.  And if you’re going to lose your wedding band, shouldn’t it be in the beautiful, puke-filled waters off the coast of Maui?

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