Overly computer literate

Computers. Such a necessary evil in today's technology-driven world. I make my living on one, and I'm so grateful for the freedom it gives me and the luxury of being able to work from my bed. It makes me feel so decadent on the mornings when I can sleep in until 10, wake up, reach over for my computer and begin typing from under my covers.

Computers also make finding information a breeze. Sometimes too much information. I feel inundated at times when I'm searching for a chocolate chip cookie recipe or road trip idea. Do I want a crunchy cookie with nuts or a chewy cookie with chocolate AND butterscotch chips? Do I want to take the Pacific Coast Highway all the way down to LA or spend more time in San Diego by taking Hwy 5 all the way down?

And then there's something I've noticed more over the past year than ever before. It messes with human interaction. Especially when laptops are involved.

Last year, I went over to a friend's house, and he spent the entire night on his laptop searching for cameras on the Internet. I barely even got a hello. I felt extremely insignificant and upset that I had driven all the way over there only to be ignored. Recently, I've been dealing with similar situations. Not quite as extreme, but people go into their own little secluded worlds when on their laptops and forget about the human beings in the room with them. Extreme time-wasting is being done. Relationships aren't being nurtured like they need to be, because people are too busy checking their Facebook. I don't want to fall into this trap. I understand that certain things must be done on computers and there is a time and a place for them. But there is also a time and a place for NOT having them. And I want more of that time and more of that place.

I had such good intentions of writing every day. How many people get the chance to travel around the world and write about it without being millionaires or working for National Geographic? Since I belong in neither of those categories, I am feeling pretty lucky. So why haven't I been more adamant about keeping track of my fortuitous adventures so far? I think I can narrow it down to one thing. Laziness. It has been so nice not to think about anything except where I'm going to eat my next scone (more about the goodness of scones in blogs to come). But a good writer (or just a writer, period) can't say she got to being a good writer without actually writing. But it's just been so much fun not to have any responsibilities, including keeping up a blog! Or even forget for a while about the responsibilities I should be dealing with. However, I do, in fact, love writing and being able to look back and remember my experiences, so I'm going to try to shake the laziness.

So once again I will stretch my fingers and begin blogging. I am currently sitting in a cozy B&B in Ireland in the little village of Doolin on the West coast. It's raining outside and my traveling partners are out playing a round of golf in cold, wet elements. As that sounded about as much fun to me as ice fishing naked, I chose to stay in the comfort of indoors. Doolin is famous for being the center of traditional Irish music. From the moment I landed on the Emerald Isle, the one thing I was most looking forward to was the music that has been immortalized for me by that scene in "Titanic" when Kate and Leo go slumming on the lower deck. I wanted those fast, energetic, wild sounds that seem to burst forth from the musicians and make you want jig on the table until you fall over from satisfied exhaustion.

Last night I finally got my first taste of the sprightly, exuberant sounds of the Irish flute, drums, guitar and fiddle. After being out all day, I made it into McGann's Pub just in time to order parsnip soup, homemade bread and a salad. The pubs usually serve food until about 9:30, after which the vittles bow out to make room for the music. I got my order just as the band was starting to play. The star of the show was definitely the flute player. Her name is Rosin Crowe. She looked about 18...but had the talent and heart of someone who had been playing for at least 50 years. I have never seen fingers fly like that! I was blown away. She would play a little bit of a song for the rest of the band to hear in order to know what key it was in and the rhythm, and then they would just take off. After listening to them for about 30 minutes, I wanted to see what the music was like in the pub across the street, so I popped over there with a couple from New Jersey I had just met (we, of course, had bonded right away). While the flute was amazing, I knew I wouldn't be completely satiated until I heard an the mellifluous strains of an Irish fiddle (how's that for cheesey?). As soon as I walked in, all my Irish musical dreams were fulfilled, as I was met the by the sounds of a fiddle being played by another young girl. Incredible. Now all I want to do is learn to play like that.

And the verdict is....

I. Am. Tired.


Larchmont Village

I’m sitting outside in front of Jamba Juice drinking a Mega Mango smoothie. It could be anywhere, except for the palm trees to my right and also the unfortunate fact that Jamba Juices only seem to pop up in places that have an average year-round temperature of 75 degrees, a truth that makes me resent living in a place with all four seasons.

The location: Larchmont Village in Los Angeles, California. The day: Beautiful. The standard gray morning haze is just beginning to burn off, and the sun is starting to warm the air. Larchmont Boulevard is like a quintessential Main Street, but about four times as long as the typical center thoroughfare. Just from where I’m sitting, I see a Belgian chocolate shop, a French cafĂ©, three little clothing boutiques, a mini day spa, a book store, and a Blockbuster (where I ended up renting two movies last night so I wouldn’t feel quite so alone in Jeanne’s empty house).

There is a yoga studio a couple of blocks down and people carrying yoga mats keep walking by. It makes me want to grab a mat, stroll right in and get into mountain pose. I stay seated instead and watch the parade of people march by. Perfectly groomed fashionistas, uniformed school girls, smartly dressed businessmen and women, happy mothers with kids, weary nannies with kids, regular old joes and every kind of person in between are out today.

The house where I’m staying is just a few blocks away, and I walked here last night for dinner at Village Pizza, a pizza joint established by a guy from Brooklyn. I am so thankful for New York pie makers and their ability to make the world a better place. A world without them would be dreary indeed.

Larchmont Village is where individually owned stores thrive. I’m not exactly supporting the local entrepreneurs by getting Jamba Juice (the fruity equivalent of Starbucks), but in my defense, I’m planning on hitting up the Larchmont Village Wine and Cheese Shop next to check out their menu. I’ve heard they have a killer sandwich.

The Bean Town Soap Opera

In the inviting little town of Sierra Madre, I sit in a coffee shop that appears to be the favorite java joint of the locals on a Saturday morning. The exposed brick walls, old wooden tables and chairs and Americana memorabilia make me feel like I’ve stepped back in time. Behind me sits a mother and her two young boys, roughly about the ages of 8 and 10. They have pulled "Sorry" off the well-stocked game shelf (this place encourages getting cozy and staying for a while), and the younger of her boys starts telling his mom about a soap opera he’s seen as he sets up the game.

"I saw this soap opera yesterday," he states nonchalantly.

“A soap opera?” mom asks incredulously.

“Yeah, it’s on Sesame Street,” the boy responds.

“What?” She sounds even more confused and slightly worried, as if he’s either seen something he shouldn’t, or doesn’t really know what he’s talking about…and they couldn’t really be showing that kind of bawdy, ridiculous drama on PBS, could they?

“Yeah, there’s this bar of soap singing a song. It’s really funny.”

“Oh,” the mom quietly laughs and gives a sigh of relief at the apparent obliviousness of what “soap opera“ usually means. “That sounds like it’s funny,” she agrees.

“It is,” he confirms.

This dialog makes me giggle. I love the innocence of youth and its ability to see things in such a fresh way without the contamination of adult perspective.

All the sudden, “I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers comes on over overhead, and a feeling of contentment spreads through me. I could get used to this place.

Ciao, Bella

I'm moving in about 3 weeks. I absolutely despise moving - especially when you don't want to move from the home in which you currently reside. Then there isn't even anything to look forward to. It's just packing and sorting and giving away and thinking about having a garage sale, but coming to the conclusion that it's more work I don't need to deal with right now, resulting in the abrupt end of any thoughts about sales. I'm great at talking myself out of things before I even start them.

Moving is also bringing to the surface many memories...mostly good, but hard to think of, nonetheless. With everything so upside down right now, it's sometimes difficult to find the silver lining. However, here is one sterling glimmer I thought I'd share. I just watched the movie "Bella" (I highly recommend it) and was completely struck by how complicated everyone's life can be, and yet, how beauty and joy can still come out of tragedy and unexpected pain. No one is ever exempt from hardships, but it is the steady, persistent, and faithful who get through the most unscathed. Sometimes the lessons that come our way are hard to swallow, but I know that the growth I'm experiencing from these lessons will be invaluable. To best sum up my feelings about all this, I quote Louisa May Alcott:

"I'm not afraid of storms, for I'm learning how to sail my ship."

Maybe I should move near water so I can actually learn how to sail...

Slowly but surely

Little by little, I'm starting to feel not quite so void of life inside. Bear with me as I get that project completely off the ground. I haven't felt much like blogging lately, but hopefully, that desire will be up and running again in the near future.

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