On sunsets at the ocean.

perfect shade of pink

Sunset at Long Beach, WA.

I witnessed the most amazing sunset Saturday evening. It had been raining hard all day. It was dark and dreary and depressing.  So when I looked outside and saw this view I had to go outside and experience the splendor. It was raining though. A light sprinkling as I watched the sun make its glorious appearance between the clouds and the horizon.

I love sunsets. You might know this by now if you have read this blog for any length of time. You might have heard this before. I will say it again. I love them. And I love them especially when they are at the beach. It is a religious experience to watch the sunset at the ocean.

An interesting thought occurred to me recently. Not very many people get to see the sun setting at the ocean. I get to because I live near the Pacific Ocean. How many other oceans face West? Obviously there are a few. But it suddenly occurs to me that this wonderful experience can only be experienced in certain places, the Pacific Ocean being one of those places. I am very grateful that I get to experience it.

When we went to Santa Cruz last weekend I really  wanted to watch the sun set at our old beach, Seabright. We kept ourselves busy until that magic hour and then we drove down to our favorite beach. As we drove I realized that it wasn’t going to happen. I had forgotten that Santa Cruz is an anomaly. It is situated on the north end of the Monterrey Bay and so when you look toward the water you are looking south, not west. And sometimes, because of the way the coastline is, when you are looking at the water you look East. It is very odd and will completely confuse your senses when you are there. So I missed the sunset that evening and I was sad.

Santa Cruz had some pretty killer sunrises though. I used to run on the beach every morning and I was lucky to be able to see the sun rise over the ocean. Which is just as amazing as watching the sun set. Maybe even more so because there are fewer people around so you share it with a small group of crazy people like you who get up at an ungodly hour.


The Santa Cruz Monica


Sometimes I wonder
If there is another me
who still lives in Santa Cruz.
The Santa Cruz Monica.
The me who chose to be
A creative writing major at UCSC.
She had guts.
She is the one who runs on the beach at sunrise.
She is the one who surfs The Hook.
She is the one who Is not afraid
Of wasps’s nests as she rappels
The cliff at Castle Rock.
She is the one who
Writes stories about the Sea.
I can feel her when I visit.
Her happy soul bleeds
Through the crack in our worlds.


Where is home for you?


I was born in Spokane, WA and that is where my family lives. That is where I lived until I was 20. I had always been unhappy there and I don’t understand why. I remember one day when I was 19, driving to my friend’s house. I was going to a party. I felt dead inside. I sat at a stop sign, snow falling down around my car,  and I thought to myself, “why can’t I just be happy?” Happiness completely eluded me.

I wouldn’t feel this elusive emotion until a year later, when I moved to New York. I was in a car with my friend and we were driving to a dance club. I felt excited for all the possibilities that awaited me in this new place. I realized, then, that this was happiness. I felt happy.  It was a strange feeling. But it was fantastic.

I found my home when I moved to California. At first I was sorely disappointed with the place. I remember flying  into the San José Airport from the east over desert. I thought, “what have I gotten myself into.” I got used to it really quickly and grew to love it. The weather, the palm trees, the Pacific Ocean. I lived there for 15 years. I found my home in Santa Cruz. I felt like I belonged there. I felt like my soul belonged there. Sometimes I feel like it is still there.

Spokane’s vortex drew me back. This time I brought my husband up to live there. And, again, I still had those unsettling feelings. I felt stuck. I was unhappy.  All I could think about when I lived there was where I could move away to.  I still don’t understand this. I had great friends. I loved being closer to my family. Those things were wonderful. There was just something about the place that made me unhappy.

So now I find myself here in Sandy, Oregon. The day I moved here I felt that elusive happy feeling. That excitement for the adventures that awaited me. I feel at home here. I feel like I fit.

So. Where is home for me? For me, home  is the place where my soul fits. If my soul fits then I can be happy.   

The Coolest Vehicle I've Driven



The coolest vehicle I’ve ever driven was a BMW. It was, actually, a vehicle I owned for a few years. I loved that car. I miss that car. I wish I still had it. I bought it from the family I worked for when I was a nanny in Menlo Park, CA.

They bought a brand new one and offered to sell it to me. I think that they were worried about their child being driven around in the Suzuki Samurai I owned and wanted me to chauffeur her in something more substantial.

I paid the car off bit by bit with each paycheck until finally it was mine. It was a fantastic car. It had a sunroof, a kick-ass stereo. Leather seats. It was a dream to drive.

I owned it for several years until I ran it into the ground. It finally died when I had to commute over the Santa Cruz mountains everyday for my job. The car blew a gasket (so I was told) and it would have been too expensive to fix. I couldn’t sell it in the shape it was in and there were already a plethora of old, broken BMWs in the South Bay Area so it was completely worthless. I ended up giving it away to charity. It makes me sad thinking about it.

Powered by Plinky

Hiking Cape Horn

susie standing next to the roots


When I first met Susie two years ago I was in a dazed and confused state. It was my second day of living Sandy. I hadn’t had a chance yet to unpack, I was starting my job the next day, and I was standing in the library in the midst of a bunch of strangers who were throwing a welcome party for me. This really cute petite lady walked up to me and said, “So I hear you lived in Santa Cruz!” I stood there, kind of stunned, thinking, “how would she know this?” But said, “Yes I did.” “Me too!” she said. And we went on to talk and reminisce about this place we used to live. During our conversation I sat there kind of blown away by how surreal it was that I was meeting someone in Sandy, of all places, who also lived in Santa Cruz. Susie and I are still co-workers and have become friends over the past couple of years. I’m still kind of blown away that we both used to live there (at the same time, and just a few blocks away from each other!).

All of that to say that she took me hiking yesterday and we had a blast! She knows about all of the greatest hiking spots around the Mt. Hood and Columbia Gorge area. Yesterday she took me to Cape Horn, it’s in Washington on the Columbia River almost directly across from Multnomah Falls.

It’s a pretty mellow 7 mile loop. It actually would make a really great trail run. Apparently “they” spent over a million dollars renovating the trail this past year. They installed tunnels under the highway and a really nice lookout spot where you can sit and eat lunch or enjoy the view.


Susie hummed a really pretty tune as she walked through the tunnel. It was kinda awesome.

There were several spots along the ridge where the views were absolutely stunning. Here is one of them:
the view

Here is another. And another.

The trail winds down the side of the ridge to meadows and tree lined roads

and then down through a slightly sketchy, moss-covered rocky area.

ubiquitous mossy rocks

We had fun chatting about Santa Cruz, Eastern Washington (she was born and raised in Wenachee. Could this shit get any weirder?!?), and being silly. At one point we were swishing through the enormous maple leaves on the ground and she said, with such sincerity, “I wish I could record the sound of the swishing of the leaves.” I was all, “Let’s do it!!” So we did, for posterity:

more photos:

Photography Friday: Brewgrass


Sandy is a great place to live all year round but it is especially fun in the summer. There is lots to do and the city does a great job to make it all happen. Shakespeare in the park, movies, concerts, all of it free! And the Mountain Festival. We can’t forget that. Unfortunately, I have never attended any of these things because I am lame. (With the exception of Mountain Festival! I did do that this year). That is, I was lame. I am no longer lame because I attended Sandy’s first annual Brewgrass shindig.

It was Wednesday evening. Since Wednesday is usually the day that my meditation group convenes we decided to, instead, go to Brewgrass to check it out. We actually tried to do a meditation under the Gazebo and were successful. It was kind of weird but, whatever. The weirdness wore off and it became very pleasant. In fact, I’m thinking I need to meditate at the park more often.

Afterward we wandered over to the main stage, grabbed ourselves a beer, and enjoyed each other’s company and the bluegrass music. My friend Susie had a friend from Santa Cruz visiting and I chatted with her. It turns out we had 4 things in common. 1)knitting – she was up here to attend Sock Summit. 2)Ukulele – She plays the uke too! 3) She lives in Santa Cruz – and I did too. 4) Mediation and Buddhism.

So that was very cool.

It was really great to be at an event were I saw so many familiar faces. Sandy is a small community and working in the library I have gotten to know a lot of people here.  I recognized a few moms from story time. One of them said, “Hi Miss Monica!”  I thought that was kind of fun (as I was paying for my beer).

I have said this before, but I am so happy that I moved here. I love living here. It’s such a wonderful community.

On missing Santa Cruz

Picture of Interstate 90 descending Sunset Hil...

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes I feel like I am living in an alternate universe.

It’s as if I walked through a wormhole and I ended up in Spokane while my other self is still living in Santa Cruz. Sometimes I can feel my other self when I think about Santa Cruz. I will focus on a certain aspect of that place, like our walks through the Redwood Forest. If I am still enough and I focus enough I can smell the pungent scent of the Bay Trees. I can feel the cool shade of the forest.

Or sometimes I will remember our walks on the beach. And I swear I am there again. I can feel the sand under my feet, the cool breeze as it sweeps off of the ocean. I can hear the people screaming on the Big Dipper, mixed in with the sound of the waves crashing on the shore.

When we go back to visit it feels like I’ve never left. It feels like I am where I belong. I am reunited with the Santa Cruz Monica, and I feel whole again.

Maybe I left part of myself back in Santa Cruz. And maybe that part of me is still enjoying the beach and the Redwood Forest.

Maybe the Spokane Monica is the person I would have been if I stayed here and not moved away when I was 19.

Maybe being here just reminds me of the person I might have become had I stayed.

Being here makes me feel numb. I don’t know what it is, and that bothers me. I can’t put this feeling down into words. It’s frustrating. I don’t feel alive here. I feel blah. I feel like my life is just passing me by at a million miles an hour and I’m just standing here watching it go. where has the past 4 years gone? I kind of want them back, I think.

What is it about this town? I have always felt blah living here. I remember one day in the winter when I was living in that horrible apartment on Maxwell. I was driving to my friend Dawn’s house and I was stopped at at stop sign. I remember just feeling completely bummed out. And thinking to myself, why can’t I just be happy? Why am I not happy? I had no reason not to be happy. I had lots of great friends. I was young. I was out partying and having fun. But happiness eluded me. I didn’t know what happiness was. I chased after it.

When I moved to New York a few months later I remember driving to a dance club with a friend and it actually hit me. I felt happiness. It felt so strange and foreign. But it was happiness. It felt great. more than great. fucking fantastic.

When I lived in Santa Cruz I felt that happiness everyday. I would walk around and just feel joy at being there. I was so blessed. I loved that place. Truly loved it like I would love a person, or a pet. And i miss it the same way.

I loathe Spokane though. I am beyond hating this place. I loathe it. Why is that? What is it about this place that makes me so unhappy? I would really like to find the answer to that question.