21 March 2007

Human Nature

(Notes for a post that I'll likely not flesh out)

Never changes
Art with knee replacement
Tom who the ladies call my boyfriend
Cliff who’s calling me a Tarheel
Doris who brings her own cloth napkins to meals that match her outfit,in the face of paper napkins
May Rose

Adolesence into elderly:
Complimenting ladies
Holding doors


My horoscope from Rob Breszney today for this week:
It has been too long since you visited the Middle of Nowhere. You've been a fixture in the heart of a well-defined Somewhere for quite some time. But now, Taurus, you need the enriching confusion of the Cosmic HUH?! it's prime time for you to wander out into the fertile chaos of the WHAT THE HELL!? zone. Have fun! Don't forget to writhe! Now please repeat and repeat and repeat after me, slowly building from a smirking giggle to a cackling belly-laugh: WHERE AM I AND HOW DID I GET HERE?!

Totally appropriate.

What I wrote a couple days ago, it's self indulgent and long...

Breath has been central to my life for a long time. Sounds silly, right? We all breathe, Susie, it’s central to all our lives. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t be reading your blog…which you write because you can breathe. Well, Reader, that’s a pretty cyclical argument, don’t you think ☺

Well, it has been central, regardless of your obvious critiques! It started out because of a wound I’d sustained/inflicted upon myself and now it’s central to keeping myself centered in this chaotic world and staying grounded and connected to my God continuously.

It all started in choir auditions in 7th grade. I’d been in choir in 6th, but then it became more competitive, and later I realized that getting into the right choir had some correspondence with Ivy League school attendance. Who knew all those cheesy names just made for good resume fodder? Anywho, I was singing for Mr. Larson and he asked me to sustain a note. I didn’t hear it, but there were cracks in my voice. Not like a pubescent boy, but little clicks. He told me to go to an ENT or something like that and have my larynx checked for vocal nodules. Sure as shit, I had em. For those of you who like my raspy voice after a late night out or a political rally, you can thank the calluses on my vocal cords. Not nearly as sexy now, right kids?

I remember my fist meeting with Jennifer, my voice coach. I had to buy a leotard prior to our appointment so that she could see my stomach when I spoke. Jennifer was the first one who I remember, who tried to teach me how to breathe.

“From your belly! Make your belly go out when you breathe in and in when you breathe out!” the leotard took any chance at disguise away, and I had to let my belly out. (Years later I realize that already at 12 years old I was concerned about having a flat stomach. No big surprise there, just disappointment in a society that may have let corsets go, but not the ideal. Keep ‘em skinny and barely breathing. I still jeopardize my breathing to keep a flat stomach appearance. Who do I think I’m kidding?! Oh, and I’m grateful for Spanks. The new crotchless corset.)

Jennifer became one of my few foes in my adolescent life. I hated our meetings, although I knew she was there to help me learn to use my voice correctly, which meant learning how to breathe. I didn’t want her airy, cheesy voice, though. Nor did I want to have a clicker to count how many times I started to talk with a glottal pop; or to keep a rubber band on the tip of my tongue to remind myself NOT to talk. (“I don’t care if you yell, just do it right!”) I had to give a presentation to all the Ivy hopefuls in all the choirs in lieu of singing…cause choir was bad for my voice!

I went to New Zealand in 2001 to study abroad. It was amazing in so many ways. The country itself kicked ass: the people, the vibe, the Maori and their traditions and…jewelery! I met great friends who I remain close to today. I think of them often.

Breathing took me to new levels, or I took breathing to new levels in my life, in NZed, as I’ll call it from here on out. I met Graca and Brendan and we had a hell of a time together. (God we laughed HARD!) Then Elinor came on the scene. I don’t remember who met her first or how we all met, but Graca who studied Business Administration at the University of Denver and Elinor who studied theology at Georgetown University became my closest girl friends. We had so much fun together and Elinor, being the go getter she is, started a yoga class in our dorms. Graca and I, both in need of a physical outlet, glommed onto the activity. As the days passed it became clear that Elinor knew what she was doing and was passionate about it.

Fast forward a few weeks. I’d gone to Australia to see my friend Jake in Sydney and Cris in Brisbane. I flew to the South Island of NZed to meet up with my boyfriend at the time, Brendan, and a bunch of other kids. They all had flights back, I had a massive bus trip. I don’t mind bus trips or train trips. I love seeing the world from a window, zooming by, close to my eyes.

I was on the ferry between, what is the town’s name? Wellington and some town on the North Island, reading my book. I saw Elinor, Blair and Eugene on the ferry and was pretty stoked that I wouldn’t be traversing the water alone. Blair (DC) and Eugene (Singapore) found a bar, which they were exceptional at (both finding bars and drinking), and Elinor and I retired to the stern of the boat, doing some yoga and talking about our families at home. At the end of the ride, El extended the invitation to ride with them north. As much as I love trains and buses, I prefer cars. Especially the vehicle I was riding in: the Rasta Van. I’ll see if El as a picture of the gem.

This is getting self indulgent, so do what you will, but I’m going to keep writing.

The boys had a few beers on the boat. Maybe in the van, too. So El and I took the driver’s seats and drove us home. How it came up, I’m not sure. Maybe Elinor just asked me what I thought of God. I went into my beliefs about the universe, interconnectedness and the goodness of people and things. Yada yada yada. We talked through the night, peed on the side of the road and talked about God.

We got home and finally went to sleep. When I saw Elinor the next day she handed me Conversations With God by Neale Donald Walsh. Some of the beginning bits were hard to follow…tedious. But the meat of it? I devoured. And became a vegetarian. And read the next three books that followed, well, Book 1.

Elinor became the unsuspecting yogi I didn’t know I was looking for. She’s (so far) not an official yogi (are you, El?), but she was mine. She got me on a path I can’t foresee getting off and, for that, she earns the distinction of being my first God friend. Get it? Like God parent…ugh…tough crowd tonight folks!

Breathing became a central part of my spiritual exploration. Between yoga and meditation, I was breathing so well and fully my life changed. I became conscious; began living more intentionally and presently and really loved it. Since there’s always been an element of this existence, albeit not constant, present and, goodness, it’s lovely. Elinor had been cavorting with some nuns and monks down the road and she introduced Graca and me to them.

This is where I received my mantra. I sat with a Didi and we talked and she told me how to focus and left me with the mantra I still use. Which she told me not to tell anyone. So I won’t start now!

I’m grateful that I can calm myself with three deep breaths and put myself to sleep with ten.

Breathing is coming up again now with my grandmother’s health. Sometimes her oxygen saturation levels are lower than desired, so the visiting nurse suggested some breathing exercises. They also suggested the same exercises for pain management (which I institute in my life now, giving me great hopes for my own pain management when I’m 83, which I hope I am one day). So we sat on the edge of the sofa today, hands on waists, breathing. I became Jennifer and we practiced breathing. I got dizzy and she started yawning! What a pair we are!

Yup. That’s the grand finale. I love breathing. And I’m newly recommitted to getting healthy so that when I’m 83 I can eat bacon and not worry about a heart attack. I would like this to include these activities: Tai Chi, Yoga, belly dancing, Salsa and maybe modern dance. And basketball.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to comment on the amazing stars that hang so low in the sky up here. I love the mountains. I love the big sky.

There’s part of me that can’t wait for the opportunity to go skiing when I want to. And the other part that says, if you want to, you need to. You only live once and some day you’ll be 83 and yawning from breathing.



16 March 2007

With Time Comes Words

This is what happens when I have time! I write! I love it, but I also love not having the time to put together my thoughts; to be so insanely busy I can hardly hold my head up at night. Not the case here in Auburn, but Grandma and I do manage to stay quite busy with meals at 8, noon and 5. 8 o’clock seems to roll around fast and I’m in bed not much after that! For those of you who know me, which most of you do, that must be hard to believe. I’m still adjusting to it myself ☺

Some more things I’m learning here are about how I want to get old. I want to be healthy, do puzzles like my mother and grandmother. I don’t do that now, so chances are I won’t, but one thing I do miss is playing basketball. I’ll try to put that together on some leg of this life. For now it’s walking. Next week it’ll be walking the grand streets of New York. I can’t wait to see her!

I want to stay active. It’s hard to see my grandma balk at the suggestion of going to the casino, formerly one of her favorite activities. She spends a lot of time sleeping, at least when she’s not eating she does. I guess it’s pretty good for 83! She is bright eyed today, which makes me smile. I think she’s getting used to me being around.

So, here are some things I want as I get older. When I’m in a “retirement residence” I want real food. I love eating at these scheduled times. My body seems to be in nutritional bliss and I don’t overeat. (Generally speaking, except some Thin Mints last night. They were my most recent victim.) (Why I feel the need for full disclosure is completely unknown to me.) The only thing I don’t like about my new regimen of structured meal time is that it all comes from Sysco. That great institutional food provider in the sky. The food they hand out is exactly what I ate in elementary through high school, which by the way, I think my folks paid too much to them for us to eat tatter tots and pizza. Anyway, we were waaay better off than most kids, so I’ll eat those words. But leave them in print, so, thusly, only sort of eating them.

Real food. From a Farmer’s Market. I’ll have to consider the agricultural success of a region when choosing where to retire. Which, by the time I’m 76, will be quite a consideration, considering how we’re treating our land now. Who could ever say agriculture of our nation doesn’t affect them? Who could ever say it’s not political?

The other thing I want is to have people of all ages around me. I want to live in a college town with a lot of college students around and young professors with sweet little children running around. Integration of generations is absolutely essential. We do it so poorly now.

I don’t remember what city I was in (Brooklyn maybe?) where there was a building labeled “Senior Center and Pre School”. NOW you’re talking. Integration gives everyone perspective and knowledge one cannot gain from books or movies or film strips (remember those?). Human interaction. It’s the only way to go. And when a kid doesn’t find a niche with his/her peers, maybe they’ll find one in an old engineer who just wants to tell his stories and be around a wee ball of energy. That benefits everyone.

I wasn’t going to say integration of generations as the other thing I wanted, but I can’t remember what it was that I did want, so that was a good second. OH! I do know! I want lots of elevators in my retirement residence. So we can all get down to a meal on time and at once. Maybe just a chute, like they have at banks. Until I can be beamed somewhere, chutes will have to do. You have to think an activity like that and the giggling that inevitably ensues would keep you young. Not that that’s necessarily the goal; it would at least cause some fun.

I also want lots of music. In my grandma's place the intercom system is at a constant low buzz. Dare I say it drives me a little mad. When I'm old, I'd like to hear some Dave Matthews, David Grey, Dave Brubeck. And people other than those named David, or some derived name there of, too. Maybe some Ani DiFranco, just to keep me on my toes. And the Garden State soundtrack.

Have I told you lately that I love you?

Please read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert! Each section is a charm unto itself. I have a whole other post to write about God, spirituality, my great fortune and love of the world and universe, but lunch is in 30 minutes and I have to go wake my grandma up.


Thoughts, by Susie Handy

So I’ve learned a couple of things today. I knew there was potentially great opportunity for knowledge gain, instead of brain drain, this week, but such stark truths about life are always moving and inspiring to me. So, I’m here to share, with you, my nearest and dearest. (This is assuming you’ve not completely given up on me due to my recent absences and lack of writing…if so, thanks for hanging in!)

The first thing I learned was today at lunch. The ladies at my grandmother’s table eat Jell-o. Not nuts, right? Jell-o with some fruit in it. I’ve been known to eat the same thing, although there’s often vodka involved. Don’t ask for Kate’s bachelorette weekend recipe ok? Watermelon soaked in vodka may taste good, but it is decidedly NOT a good idea. Don’t do it. Well, maybe once. But never again ;)

Anyway. You’ve got your Jell-o salad (which a friend of mine and I were discussing: do they still render horses for Jell-o and gelatin?), and you grab some ranch dressing…and smother the Jell-o in the dressing! Has anyone heard of such a thing? Well, the ladies seem to have it down pat and I might just have to try it before my week at Blue Oaks is over. Which, all of the sudden, seems to be creeping up quickly.

The second thing was revealed at dinner. I sat with Cliff and Tom, two of the very nice men who live here. We started dinner discussing what a great guy my grandfather is/was. Joe Weber died 8 months ago and he’s still well respected around these parts. This makes me proud and also want to cry. When Tom asked why, if there is a God, why God would take my grandfather. Unfortunately the first thing that came to mind, was what I though was funny: Only the good die young. My grandpa was 84 years old. Get it?

OK, fine. Not funny. Anyway. If you can’t joke, why live? Not being funny isn’t going to bring him back.

So, sitting with Tom and Cliff we got to talking. Tom has a bit of a stutter; he talks about being the “dumbest kid to graduate from his high school and working his way through Cal Berkeley”. Berkeley is no small shakes. And he’s proud of himself, as he should be. We talked at dinner and between the two gentlemen, who each probably hear 50% of what anyone says, and me who is talking at a decibel higher than everyone else in the room, we were quite a table (the burger was actually pretty good, too).

After we’d come upstairs from dinner Tom told me about his life a little. I’d asked him what he did when he was working since we’d talked about my work for a good portion of dinner. He went into his story-quite an amazing and interesting one, I might add-and the culminating points were the things he thinks about now. Dancing with beautiful French women in Paris was one of the loveliest stories. The compliment he received from one of the women who said the other ladies he’d danced with had said he was fabulous and she, not being an outstanding dancer, didn’t want to dance with him. He called this, “the first complement he’d ever received.” Then he lamented that his father had never given him a compliment in all his life. Well, at least not that he could remember.

Lesson: people always need to be listened to and, better yet, heard. We all want to tell our stories. But at around 80 or 90 years old, what is it that Tom remembers and talks about? Some world travel, some occupational successes, but more? He says he thinks about dancing in Paris since he has MS and can never do that again. And he thinks about the compliments of young Parisian ladies; and the compliments he never received from his father.

So this I pledge to you: When a compliment is on the tip of my tongue, I will never hold it back. And I hope that one day one of the compliments I give will be on the mind of some man who years ago couldn’t imagine he’d summon that moment or those words to help him remember where he’d come from.

I anticipate this will be just the beginning of what I learn this week. Being with my grandma has been lovely. She went to bed tonight giggling and I loved hearing her happy. She’s doing well; today was a good day.

Looks like really shitty weather back east. Maybe I’ll change my ticket back to New York. Just kidding, Mom!

I’m reading a book that I’m really enjoying. It’s called Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was looking for a passage that I loved today but I can’t find it. I didn’t mark it. I’m passing the book on, so I’m trying to keep my annotations limited. Which is actually a challenge for me since pretty much everything I do is a conversation. No wonder I work better in groups.

What else can I tell you? Probably a lot. But I’ll spare you.

One bummer about being on the West coast is that when the east coast goes to bed, I stop getting email. I’m going to have to start getting used to being out of communication for a few hours a night! I did get used to it, but then I got my Sidekick back. Il connectido. That’s not a word.

Mucho amor the sweets of my life.

15 March 2007



I've been composing this post in my brain for days. Limited internet access is a killer for me and I know my mom's been enduring the same lack of connectivity. I've broken down and bought a "day pass" at Auburn's local Starbucks so I can send out resumes, catch up on MySpace, Friendster, Facebook, Yelp and email. Who ever said I didn't have a GIGANTIC internet footprint! Oy...One of these days maybe they'll start coming down, but for now, it's a good way to stay in touch, keep people updated and for me to see where people are and what they're doing. Which is monumentally important to me!

I've been in California for a week now. I love it here. I've seen Cristina, met her boyfriend Adam, stayed with Sara and Renee and then also been in Auburn most of the time with my grandmother who's dealing with old age and diabetes. Last weekend I got to see my brother, cousin Nate, Aunt Kate and Aunt Susan. My mother arrives next Monday and then we'll drive down to Oakland to drop off Sara's car, hopefully get a bite to eat, and then cruise back to Auburn to stay with Grandma for a couple more days. Then it's to New York from Sacramento on Wednesday evening.

San Antonio for John Edwards was fabulous. I worked with two exceptional people, Joel and Junior, who, if nothing else made those 5 days in Texas quite lovely. We also stayed with two of the nicest serrogate parents in the world, Char and Judi. They took care of us like we were their own. Shot up to Austin for 16 hours to do a TV thing with the Senator and then back to SA to fly to Oakland.

I love the jet set life, as you all know. The same issues come up when I do it: continuity, where to "live", how to maintain relationships successfully without being physically present. It takes a leap of imagination and faith on the part of my friends and family and your and their support and love does NOT go unappreciated. I couldn't live the way I do if you weren't all there for me and excited about the next moves and patient with my sometimes lacking committment to communication. Thank you.

Watching people get old is amazing. The way we fail, the choices we make about life all come into clear view. My grandma has diabetes, and it's become obvious to me, through cancer with my grandfather and this with my grandmother that self care, now, is of the utmost importance. Not only is it great to be hot when you're young, but that's going to transfer in to health and wellness when we're old. This is not new news, but important to remember. I need to become recommitted to taking care of myself! Otherwise, it will be hell on whomever is slated to take care of me when I'm old. And I want to walk as much as possible when I get old. Sitting too long makes my butt hurt!

I think that's all I've got for now. I've got to get resumes out to those who've offered to spread the love of the Sooz. It's crossed my mind to work in Sacramento for a while, to be family closer to my grandmother. I'll tell Amber that when I send her my resume!

Love to all!

07 March 2007


Wow...what a great comment on the last entry. "Hello". I know, I'm totally MIA. I'm tired, working a lot and coming off a bout of un and under employment. So I don't get to read as much or think about writing as much. It's an undertaking to write personal emails let alone a blog entry.

I'm in San Antonio seeing things I've never seen before, learning a lot and being very well taken care of by all those I meet.

I've been privy to the southern gentlemen this week and it's a different world. If I don't go in a door first, the conversation stops. I haven't opened a door, it seems like, in a week. If I drop something someone always beats me to picking it up. I never carry anything heavy.

They've learned to hear my bossy-ness and I think they've come to appreciate my northern woman mentalities. But, I dare say, I've taken quite well to this treatment.

I wish I could write more, but I haven't talked to my brother in weeks, let alone been able to write this stuff.

I'm exhausted. Game day is tomorrow and then it's to Austin for an event, just to attend, back to San Antonio to fly to Oakland, stay there a night and then to Auburn to see my bro, cuz, auntie and grandma. I'm really excited for that.

Then I'm going back to New York. I'm going to sell as much of my stuff as I can; give away some clothes; pack my bags and leave. I just don't know where I'm going.

And you know what?

I'm not worried at all.

Thank you for thinking of me and supporting me. I think of you all so often. I wish you knew how often I look at pictures of you all. I really miss you; I really love this life.

More...well. I guess, just later.