1. I have spent the night on a schooner drifting among humpback whales in Alaska, their blows echoing across Frederick Sound.
2. The northern lights are one of the most awe-inspiring, naturally psychedelic things I have ever seen. Great bursts of color draped across the sky, pulsing in curtains of gold and green…if you didn’t believe in God before, you might after.
3. I won a city-wide poetry contest in the 8th grade for a poem I wrote, called Love. Besides being published in The Daily Breeze, the prize was an inscribed pen-holder, which is sitting on my desk as I type.
4. I remember the blog I was reading the first time I met Freaky Troll.
5. I was an extra in a movie with Mac Davis called Cheaper to Keep Her. He flirted with me on the set but I really, really hated Baby Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me so I ignored him. I’ve never seen the movie.
6. I am famous among my friends for meeting famous people. I don’t really try to, but I’m not above nudging fate in that direction. The first celebrity I met was Dennis Wilson, who was walking in front of us on our way to the hotel in Pittsburgh where my friend’s mom was going to pick us up after the show. We slip-streamed behind him into the lobby where the rest of the Beach Boys and Steely Dan (the opening band), were holding court. I chatted with Carl Wilson while one of Dans made a move on my friend. She wanted to go to the party upstairs but her mother was on the way, and truth be told, we thought they were too old. For years this incident gave me standing among my peers, not for having met the Beach Boys, but for having seen Steely Dan live.
7. In 1999 I hosted a Tibetan Buddhist ceremony on the beach at Alki for the spirit of a gray whale who had been killed by a local tribe. The Tibetans believe that when a sentient being meets a violent death in a state of trust, its spirit is confused. When the monk blew the conch shell at dusk, the whole beach reverberated. I was inspired to do the ceremony from a dream.
8. I have been remembering dreams my whole life, using them as touchstones and signposts on the map of my life, a compass to guide my way. I feel sorry for people who say they don’t dream, because of all the good information they are not using, all the richness they are missing. You can choose to remember them or not, and you can train yourself to do it.
9. I was voted Most Likely To Succeed in my high school class.
10. I waitressed my way through college, San Francisco, and the early years in Seattle. My first restaurant job was serving meals to patients at a hospital in high school; my last was at an Italian place in Pioneer Square that goes crazy on Seahawk Sundays. In between there was Polar Bear Ice Cream in Santa Cruz, which made me the most popular person to invite to any potluck; a Szechuan restaurant in Capitola, where a customer found a band-aid in his snow peas; a nightclub in North Hollywood, where we sold people two drinks a show whether they wanted them or not; a diner in North Beach owned by Francis Ford Coppola, where I learned how to pull a good espresso from one of the producers of the Godfather; and a 5-star hotel in Seattle where I learned the miracle of salmon in parchment paper, and blueberries in fresh cream.
11. My first non-waitressing job in Seattle was at an architecture firm in the 80s. A psychic had told me she saw me in a place surrounded by blueprints and that is the only reason I applied for the job, I was sure I would die a slow creative death in an office. Over 100 people applied for the low-level administrative position, and I got it. It was my first job with benefits, bonuses, the whole nine yards. The firm had clients like Microsoft and Nordstrom, and soared to new heights with them, faster than anyone had dreamed. Eventually that job led me to Aldus, which merged with Adobe, and a career in an industry I never could have foreseen.
12. I’ve been in love three times, and in what looked like love at the start a lot more than that. The last one knocked the wind out of me, but I’m back on my feet again.
13. I identify more with my Chinese horoscope sign – Monkey - than my Western sign – Virgo. I get along well with Dragons and Rats and am very wary of Tigers.
14. When the Council of Animals comes at the end of the world, I don't want to represent the humans, unless I am standing behind Jane Goodall.
15. I was a Girl Scout until I was 15. We canoed down the Colorado river, camped on Catalina Island, and streaked on our way to Palm Springs. I always came home hoarse from laughing so hard, singing so much, and staying up too late.
16. The most overwhelming place I’ve ever been is the Old Delhi train station at 4 AM, when the platforms are filled with sleeping people as far as you can see. Most Americans live like kings compared to the rest of the world. I have lost patience with a lot of what we worry about here.
17. When I visited Philadelphia I was unexpectedly moved by seeing Thomas Jefferson’s walking stick on a desk at Constitution Hall and understanding for the first time, fully, that they were only people too—people who risked everything to hatch the grand vision of democracy, and that every generation has to keep it in play. We just pulled out a big save.
18. I was part of the anti-nuclear movement in the 70s, and participated in a 5-day vigil in front of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Washington, DC. We fasted and camped on the sidewalk. When the NRC ruled to suspend the license for Seabrook, the police closed off the street so we could celebrate. I kissed a guy from Baltimore, and still wonder where he is.
19. I love to dance. If I am depressed, playing early Beatles really loud will almost always get me right out of it. The band I’ve seen the most is Los Lobos, and the movie I’ve seen the most is A Hard Day’s Night
20. My favorite feeling is laying on a towel in the sun after having just gone for a swim in the ocean. I love the feel of the salt on my skin.
21. Though I’m not Catholic anymore, I like to visit churches in foreign cities and wrap myself in the familiar cloak of the half-dark—the faint smell of incense, the creak of the kneelers in the wooden pews, the red votive candles flickering at the feet of the saints. I always light one, prayers rolling across my tongue like sweet forgotten candy. When I get scared, I say Hail Marys.
22. The thing that I am most proud of is that I was part of a project to help an orphaned orca be reunited with her pod. It is the only successful orca rehabilitation in history. The project is not done for me until I've told the story.
23. Because of 22, I was invited to a potlatch in Alert Bay. For two days we sat in the Big House watching dancers around the fire, sun glinting off the house poles, smoke rising through a hole in the roof. It was hard to keep track of time, or what century we were in.
24. I am the third of four children. My brothers both surf and I love to watch them slice across the waves, agile as seals. I worry about my younger brother, the long-term effects of the cold water on his ears, and the great white sharks that live in the waters where he surfs. My older brother is the one who knows me the best; we have always seen eye to eye. I idolized my big sister as a child. I loved to watch her do her hair, and she taught me how to dance. I have two nephews and a niece. I love them all more than they know.
25. My best friend from high school passed away almost exactly two years ago today from Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. She was 51, and her dying changed my life. I feel her on my shoulder, every day.