1. Venice. I love my neighborhood. It's crazy and shady, a little bit sleazy and a whole lot freaky. There's always something going on, musicians playing, artists painting on the boardwalk, acrobats, dancers, drifters and derelicts. Murals everywhere, and most of all my beautiful friend, the Pacific. Every day a sunset that people fly across the country to see, and every minute there is something creative happening in Venice. I love it, right down to my toes. I can sit in my apartment and hack away at a problem at work, then put on sandals and walk down to a coffee shop, where the drifters (many of whom I know by name, or at least well enough to say hello) keep my appraised of the goings-on while I get a cup of fair-trade joseph that's as strong as the Ukrainian women's weightlifting team. There are flowers in a riot everywhere you turn, and a plethora of eateries of all and sundry ethnic cuisine as well as some that never existed before. Basically I'm living in the cyberpunk future, and it's perfectly thrilling.
2. Patrick O'Brian. I'm closing in on the end of my second read-through of the Aubrey/Maturin series. I dearly love these books, and am sorely tempted to just start up reading them again at the first when I'm done with the last. I got a handsome bound edition of the complete series, and I even love the physical books themselves, with pages as tissue-thin as a cheap bible, a book-marker ribbon in every one, and that new-book smell that only comes from hardbacks. Each night I read myself to sleep. Since it's winter, the electric blanket is on, and thus the cat is extremely possessive of space on the bed. I shove her over, and she wakes up to bat at the bookmark ribbon. I say to her, "Let's see what Jack and Stephen are up to, shall we?" and start reading. And truly I feel like they're old friends, O'Brian doesn't get nearly enough credit for his beautiful insight into two very disparate characters - it's easy to get lost in the soaring beauty of wind, tide, sail and hearts of oak. I only wish there were more, or more like them. (Yes i've read Hornblower and Ramage, they're not nearly as good.)
3. My cat. She is orange and useless, and if she makes noise, it's only to complain. But her head-butts = love.
4. Rock Band. It's far, far better than Guitar Hero - there are drums and vocals in addition to guitar and bass. But more importantly - and really - this is completely crucial: cowbell. Yes, that's right, if you're the vocals on "Don't Fear the Reaper", you play the cowbell by tapping on the mic. The only problem is - not enough cowbell!
5. My job. I grumble about the more annoying bits since...well, something happened. But even so, it's close to home, not at all stressful, and very rewarding. I have the freedom to do a lot of things that I am supremely glad to do, like help out a sister or two, and pay off old (and stupid) debts.
6. Surfing. I'm still terrible. It's a good day when I stand up for more than a second or two. But I can walk down to and surf whenever I want. I get at least as much pleasure watching shore birds (and more rarely, seals and dolphins) as from the surfing itself. But when you put yourself in the way of the wave just right, and it picks you up, it's like when you were a kid and your dad put you up on his shoulders; the world is entirely different from up so high. Speed, grace, the wave, the board. Can't wait until I get cleared to get back to it.
7. My friends. Somehow I've ended up with a collection of incredibly generous, interesting, smart, funny and fascinating people that I'm privileged to spend my time with. They're my family of choice, and they mean a great deal to me. Couldn't have made it through some spots without 'em, and wouldn't have enjoyed any of them nearly as much. I don't know half of them half as well as I want to, and ... well, you get the idea. Friends furnish the heart, the way books furnish a room.
8. Writing. When I can pull of a neatly turned phrase, it's satisfying in a way that nothing else quite is. And the joy can be revisited later, and perhaps someday even shared with other people. There's not much I can predict about my future, except that it will always and certainly involve writing.
9. The Pacific. I start and end each day looking at the Pacific. She's never the same color twice. Sometimes her waves are so high I can see them all the way from the end of the street, and sometimes so calm that I'd have to get all the way down to the high-tide mark to hear them. Coming home, I can smell the sea-water, hear the gulls, feel the temperature difference. She keeps me cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
10. Coffee. Pour it out, take a heady whiff of the scent. Blow the vapor swirling across the top. Wait, because you know it's too hot. That waiting is sublime. Finally, a hot, hot sip - black, bitter, earthy and ineffable. The rush. Eyes open just a little wider. Night cobwebs in the brain clear up. Morning. Coffee. Glory!