Monthly Archives: December 2011

My Christmas Mend

Christmas was approaching and I was panicking. Not because I had not bought all the presents (I had already decided I was not going to), not because I had not decorated (I didn’t and was okay with that), not because I was feeling the pressure to be happy (a friend had written that she chose to reinvent the holidays and I was following her lead) but because it was the first time in a ton of years that I was unattached. But time doesn’t wait for us to resolve issues so December 24 arrived with me not quite being ready for it.

I wake up with a decision to decline the sweetest of invitations to join a friend’s family Christmas Eve celebration. Next came a decision to go buy a new microwave for the house. Two decisions while still barely awake. Nice start. After my shower I blow-dry my hair, make an appointment to do my nails, and pick out what I am going to wear tonight since I have a “date” at midnight –more on that later.

I leave the house and doubt assaults me. Do I want to brave the crowds, the traffic? I find that it’s really all about how I react, and since I was feeling incredibly calm I had nothing to fret. So off shopping I go. I manage to do it all. No hurries; no worries. I even go to the butcher and buy a great steak to cook and then buy a bottle of Veuve Clicquot for a toast.

I head home. My friend and her two boys are heading out. Hugs, kisses, good wishes. Warm feeling. Realization, so far, that I have just had the less stressful Christmas Eve preparation ever. I change, cook, sit and eat, and make reservations (or at least look at) my hotel options for Chiang Mai and Koh Samui. Time for my “date” is arriving.

For many years, even before my mom was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, at midnight on Christmas Eve -in each other’s time zone- we would look up at the sky and find the brightest star and “connect” through it. Next day we would talk about what we had felt. When Parkinson’s had taken away her ability to communicate I would be the one talking. Last year, on the first Christmas without her I continued the tradition and even though I felt her presence, it was gut wrenching to know I didn’t have her to call the next day.

11:50. I open the champagne. Pour myself a glass and head outside. I find our star. I tell her my dreams, my fears. Is my father close to her? I expect tears, sorrow, loneliness, but what I got was a sense of peace, of being surrounded with love and caring. I smile. I go back in with a sense that I will never be alone.

Christmas Day proves me right. I split my time with my two adoptive families. Early Christmas lunch at a friend’s house with her mom who treats me as another daughter. Then a later lunch with a family I gained from a previous life that gave me a stepdaughter and grandchildren. I return home to a friend and her boys. We sit with a cup of tea while we talk and as you may expect by now… it feels like family.

So this blog was to be about my Christmas break, but I somehow feel the word mend suits it best.

Next I will go back to my BLT+ preparations…

Categories: Ramblings | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

Immunization = $$ = Needles = :(

I am good at procrastinating.  If it were a class and I were in school, I’d be getting an “A” with no effort at all.   But they say change is good and this is a facet in me that I must make an effort to abolish.  Well, maybe modify.  Perhaps just alleviate?  You see how good I am at procrastinating?  Because I feel uninspired, I am using words to stall (at times I  equate stalling to procrastination) and not communicate what I have come to say.   But, no more.  Here goes.

I have a strong aversion to needles and side effects so I have… yes, you guessed it: procrastinated in going onto the Center for Disease Control website to find out what immunizations (ie: needles) I will need to go to Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.  I promise I will find a pseudo-acronym for this trip.  I got it!  BLT+ (B for Burma –actually Myanmar- but for this purpose it will be Burma; L for Laos and T for Thailand and the “+” for Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong.)  Phew, no more repetitive typing!

As I have lunch at The Black Cow in Montrose I pull out my trusty computer and get on-line.  Victor, the best server ever, knows exactly what I order so he greets me with a hug and asks “The usual?”  This feels like home.  So I am on the site.  Lazy me can’t believe that she has to go to each country one by one.  No cheat sheet.  I find a link to a Global Travel Clinic Directory that “know all about traveler’s immunization needs.”   So here I am.  I call the first one in Glendale and they are closed.  I leave a message.  I call the next one in Pasadena.  Also closed.  I leave a message.  I try another.  Ditto.  So now I have nothing left to do but wait.  And enjoy my steak salad.

My cell rings and I am told that this is the Medical Clinic for Immunization returning my call.  So she gives me the laundry list of immunizations that are recommended.  This is not sounding good.  Well the Hepatitis A and B (a series of 3 shots) is $170, then the Rabies shot is another $100.  I become restless.  “Could you give me an approximate figure of how many and how much?”  “Well around six of them would be around $800 but that’s without the two most important ones which are the typhoid one and the….” I stop registering anything until she says:  “Those two are $1,600.”  And this is without the malaria pills.  I’m not that great at math but I immediately add it up to $2,400.  I calmly thank her for the information, hang up, and panic!  Are you kidding me?

I get on-line and e-mail, Facebook, go to the OAT Travel site and message everyone if this is even remotely in the ballpark of what others have paid.  Two of my friends whom I know well and have traveled to BLT+ say: “Noooooo, no need for any of that.  Just go and enjoy!”  I have yet to hear from the travel company’s previous clients.

In the process of checking for responses I find a post from a traveler that says that the CDC has just posted a health warning for travelers going to Vietnam due to an outbreak of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, though it seems to primarily affect children.  What the heck?

My cell rings.  I’m starting to feel real important.  My phone is ringing a lot.  This is the Healthy Traveler Clinic in Pasadena.  Me:  “Well, you are calling at a time when I am still almost speechless.  Just got a call from another clinic saying that all the vaccines I need are going to cost me roughly a third of my trip so far.”   On the other side I hear a compassionate voice saying that she understands and she hears that a lot.  She wants me to see the doctor who will go over the priorities, if any, on the shots and pills and that I am at liberty to decline or even go to another clinic to get them.  Things are looking better.   I have an appointment tomorrow morning.  But before I go to the doctor, I must fill out 9 pages of forms. Will be reporting back.

Categories: Cambodia, China, Immunizations, Laos, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Vietnam | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments


I have traveled since I was 2 and that makes me a veteran globetrotter (and no, I will not say how long I’ve been traveling but it has been maaaaaany years!) I have my father to thaImagenk for instilling in me the passion to discover other worlds.  He was the excursionist in the family, my mom was the follower, I had no say, so I became a little of both.  He was a bit of a nomad by nature and by profession.  He worked in the United Nations so I grew up in 10 different countries.  

 I have traveled with my parents, my partners, alone, to exotic locations and others not so much so. I’ve gone for pleasure, as well as in sorrow, and work.  I’ve gone by boat, by foot, by train, by car, and even by burro and any possible combination of. So you would think that the preparation of a trip of 35 days and 6 countries would not faze me one bit.  After all I’ve been a TV producer, where putting out fires and juggling is part of life.  Well, wrong

I sit at the Coffee Bean in Montrose, CA, with my iTunes full volume and trying really hard not to be overwhelmed by all the visa applications that I have to fill out.   I decide to “prepare” my space and in doing so manage to waste a good hour.  With my space organized I have no other excuse for not tackling this.  Do I need another cappuccino? No.  And my little heart starts beating fast.  Okaaay… they need all my main info and then exact dates of arrival and departures.  Uhh, I don’t really know that.  Concentrate.  Yep, here are the dates.  But not so sure how much longer I will extend this trip and where.  Just put a date!  Profession?  I’m self-employed: actress.  Will they question this?  Oh, they need my business permit if I’m self-employed.  Bank statement.  What?  Okay.  Where am I staying in Hong Kong? Oh no!  I know most of my hotels but yet haven’t decided on the Thailand or China part.   And the China visa has to be in a PDF file and every time I make a correction I have to start all over again.  Don’t think I’ll make it through this process so I may not have much to write about in future posts.  Ay, yay, ay!  (Please infuse a Spanish accent to the previous expressions.)

Cut to later in the night.  Most of it is ready to go, but the undercurrent of anxiety has not gone away.  Tomorrow I need to make copies and FedEx the applications to a visa handling company who will probably ask me: “Did a 2-year-old fill these out?”  Will keep you posted. 🙂

 Oh no… then it’s off to see what shots I need to have!  Malaria pills? I may just stay home!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

The Beginning!

Paris, France

I chose this photo I took of a sign in Paris to accompany this post because I certainly feel an affinity to it.  It reads:  “Please do not park.  Car exit.”  and since I have never been one to park my mind or my body in one place for too long, it just felt appropriate.  Besides, my little Baby Blue (aka: my Prius) has been the means by which I have done so much of my traveling lately.  Barely 3-years-old and it already has almost 98,000 miles on it!

However, my preferred form of travel has always been by plane. And it is on one of those that I will be, in barely 2 months time, on my way to Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Loas, Cambodia and China. A trip that will keep me away from home for over 35 days.  A trip I want to take each one of you on and have you delight -or not- in experiencing, touching, smelling, seeing, feeling and hopefully understanding and loving cultures that are so different from ours.

So, setting up the blog is the very first step in taking you with me on this journey.  Of course, considering I am absolutely technologically impaired, it may not be as easy as I had wished.  So I call my friend Carolina Groppa and merely yell (softly): HELP!!  She used to have a celebrity gossip blog and is adept in the blog world.  So here she is with the arduous task of initiating me in this blogging thingy.  We sit side by side, computers in front of us, in The Hollywood Corner while she tries not to be exasperated by my inadequacy in grasping even the basics.  I valiantly say that I think I can do this and we part with Happy Holidays wishes and my inner me thinking “Oh my gosh.  I’ll never be able to do this.” while I am sure hers is going “Can’t help her too much more on this… don’t think she can do it.”

Next frame is me writing my first post and being very proud of how poetic and funny my prose was, and pressing/clicking… the wrong button to publish it!   So my masterpiece is lost in cyberspace and I don’t seem to be able to recover it.   So I laugh at myself and rewrite, though this time in not so brilliant a manner.    If it takes me this long to post things on my trip I will be missing most of the sites due to the need to be indoors trying to get it right!

So I am left with promising you that you will see some pretty decent photos (I love photography and am sort of really good at it).  I promise you that you will read mostly my gut reactions to places and peoples and that I will write mostly from my heart rather than my brain, so I ask you to please disregard grammar, punctuation, and spelling oversights that may occur – something I am usually a stickler for.  Among my many talents 🙂 is that of editing scripts, proposals, treatments, etc.

Wish me luck… I am clicking on another button!



Categories: Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar - Burma, Ramblings, Vietnam | 6 Comments

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