31 July 2008

Rats

I've got a mouse. Yes, you heard me, a mouse. There is a mouse and he's in my house. I don't know whether he's brought a lout or a louse, but I'd rather have geese, even a grouse. I'll have to set traps or invite him to joust. Do what it takes to get him out out out! I just can't believe it, but there is no doubt. There is a mouse and he's in my house. I'd like a strong drink, to get good and damned soused, for who can relax with a mouse in their house? Once he is gone I shan't cry or pout. But, at the moment, I'm ready to shout. Take a gallon of bleach and give my kitchen a douse. Clear out the cupboards, throw everything out. For I have a problem I wish to turn about: THERE IS A FUTHERMUCKING MOUSE IN MY GODDAMN HOUSE!

WTF?!?

Now, while I might give the dust bunnies free reign in my home from time to time, I take care of my kitchen. That and my bathroom are always tidy and sanitized. The dust may collect in the rest of my roost when I'm in a writing frenzy, but the kitchen and cozzy are cleaned up daily. So imagine my surprise when I saw Mr. Mouse dart across my kitchen floor this morning.

This happened once before about two years ago. I came home from a long day at work, walked into my kitchen and saw a little rodent shoot across my floor from my stove to under my sink. I didn't scream or curse, I simply turned around, went to the store and purchased rubber gloves (to replace the old ones I'd use), bleach (I only had that special fabric-safe kind and wasn't going to waste that), a mask (breathing in their waste can kill you), sponges and D-Con.

Save all your cruelty comments for someone without a mouse. I'm a Buddhist. I'll deal with my own karma, thank you.

I cleaned out every drawer and cupboard, threw out a bunch of dishtowels and table cloths (wouldn't really want those near my food even with several hot water washes and ample servings of Clorox), scrubbed it all down with bleach and hot water. Soaked all of my utensils in bleach and hot water...twice. I strategically placed the D-Con and then waited for the little bastard to be no more. It didn't take long. It was done in day. Quick and easy. That's the way I like it. When it comes to killing rodents, that is.

But now, another little bastard is back. Breading where I eat. I called my management office and could clearly hear the implied yawn. Someone will be by next week. NEXT WEEK?!? WTF again? So, now I'm off to buy more D-Con, new rubber gloves, a mask and sponges. It's going to be a long day. But, later, I'll throw a little goodbye party for Jerry. May he and his rest in peace. And may the rest of them have the foresight to stay the hell out of my house so they can be free to live a long a happy mousy life.

30 July 2008

Tick Tock Ticked Off

Nobody's perfect. Things happen. I know. But, at some point, a line has to be drawn.

You have one yourself: A friend who is time-telling-time-managerially challenged. One who, no matter what, will be late. Fifteen minutes late would be early for them. A half-hour or more is more likely. And they are not bothered by it. A smile and a, "Yeah, sorry," is supposed to suffice. But I've had it. I'm good and ticked off.

I believe giving slack when slack is needed, but there's only so much I can give before I yank it back. I sort of live by the Three Strikes Rule. Once, it could happen to anyone. Twice, well, we all have bad days. Thrice, that's just ridiculous, and a waste of my time. After that third offense, you're out. The chances of plans being made between us are next to nil, and will happen at zero inconvenience to me. Why should I be troubled by someone who can't bother to be on time? The same goes for those who constantly "forget" or need to "reschedule". The chronically overbooked who haven't yet mastered putting a pen to a calendar to note one's schedule. (Usually actors or the representation thereof.) They are the ones I pencil in and call to "confirm" the appointment well in advance knowing there will be a change and use that time for someone I can actually ink. I tend to lose their overscheduled numbers and am absolutely amazed when they call or email with the suggestion of "Drinks?"

Nobody's perfect. Things happen. Believe me, I know. I have forgotten the promise of a dinner, been an hour late due to traffic (and I even left early), and had to reschedule a date more than once. I've had mornings when I've gotten into a time warp and lost a chunk of time. How does that happen? But the winner was when I'd been working at my desk counting down the minutes to leave for a lunch date only to have the friend call and say, "Where the hell are you?"

Writers can trip. We get pulled into our heads and lose all track of time and housecleaning. But never once have I said, "You are really going to have to cut me some slack," because of it. No. That's my bad. I will warn, "You really will have to excuse me. I've got writer's brain and I might float off at any moment," because, when I'm in the thick of a story, part of my mind is always working on it, and sometimes it will cause me to be distracted almost to rudeness. My caveat is not meant as a free pass for this impoliteness but a request for my friends to tell me to snap out of it. It annoys even me.

Traffic is a factor that is beyond unpredictable. And I know that the best of intentions can blow up in your face. The time I was an hour late, I gave myself fifty minutes to get to a place that would normally take me thirty-five. Because it was early in the traffic wave, I thought that would more than ample. I know the good ways to get places. But, that day, it was bumper to bumper at every turn. I zigged and zagged, watched the clock tick away and realized my BlackBerry had shuffled numbers. I didn't have my friend's cell number. No one at her office had her cell number. I didn't have the cell number of the friend of hers we were meeting with (he and I had chatted on the phone but this would be our first face to face). I left messages on their office voicemails and called the restaurant. It was embarrassing. I showed up sixty-five minutes late, nearly in tears. The meeting itself was more business than social, so I was doubly mortified. Fortunately, they were very understanding and were kind enough to order me a stiff drink to help bring my blood pressure back down. We ended up having a great night, and my friend's friend and I ended up doing business together and becoming great friends. Still, you had better believe that when I go to meet him or her, I leave extra, extra early, let them know when I am in the car and if I run into any traffic troubles. The turn-by-turn updates can be a little annoying, I'm sure, but it's just not okay to be late, especially if you've been late before.

A trick I play on the terminally tardy is: "Why don't you pick the time. Let me know what works for you." That way, the ball is totally in their time-constrained court. So I am beyond perplexed when they can still manage to be late. And I'm not talking a few minutes. I'm talking thirty. And that's after they call saying, "I'm running ten minutes behind." I can't say I'm happy to see my friend when he/she gets to my door -- or worse, the venue that I'm already at. Waiting, without a book because I was overly optimistic that this time, this time for sure, they would be on time. I believe in my friends. They are smart people. They should know how to read a clock. And most of my friends are quite apt at it. It's the few, the annoying few, that hold me up. I have other things to do with my time than wait around, don't you? And I'm beginning to take the stand that people who waste my time aren't worth my time.

I don't expect perfection. I know that life, and bad drivers, can get in the way. But I'd like to see an effort made to keep things on the dot, and keep me from being totally ticked off.

29 July 2008

5.8

Earthquake! I'll still take those over a hurricane or tornado.

What Would You Take With You?

After having a simplifying conversation with a friend, then doing some fantasy real estate shopping over the weekend, I took a good look around my home and thought, What would I take with me?

Not much. My laptop, music and movies and books, my champagne and wine glasses, and a few pots and pans. My plates (I love my plates) and some of my clothes. Oh, and my toiletries and art. That's it. You can get really ruthless when you pack...even if it's only in your head. So, why can't I pack up all the stuff I don't really want and send it on its way?

I've tried. I've even had some success. But I just can't get as serious (or brutal) as I would be if I had to load it all up in boxes and had to take it with me.

I keep going back to my ten days in New York where I had travelled light (for me) and didn't lack a thing. I had packed perfectly for every occasion, was prepared for the weather and had a variety to pick and choose (I like options), but still didn't wear everything I packed. My entire life fit into my rolling duffel bag, and it was still more than I needed. As silly as this may sound, it was a truly liberating experience looking at the paltry selection hanging in the closet, the finite set of shoes lined on the floor. This is how I want to live, I said to myself. Simply. Efficiently. Clutter-free. More than a year later, I'm still trying to get to that point.

It really comes down to being chicken. There's something scary about throwing things out with abandon. What if I need it one day? I don't have enough money to replace it. In some ways, all that crap brings me comfort. In another, it drives me batty. I want it gone.

Part of me wants to live the fantasy. I would love to have a yard sale and get rid of it all, take what I make from it and buy only what I need and would really love. Then I say, Nah. I don't want to invest in my little hovel. While I joke that I will stay here 'til the end of time because I've got cheap rent, my neighborhood is changing. It's being over-built and will soon be over-crowded. Clompy should have served as a sign. She sounds like one of the horsemen of the apocalypse by the way she stomps around. I should have been positive thinking my way to a new, quieter, larger place with sane neighbors and my own parking space. I long for a garage. Perhaps its time for that.

I don't like being cowardly about anything. I'm one to face my fears. I'm on the verge of double-dog daring myself to do it. Get rid of it. Live simply. Efficiently. Easily. But, right now, that sounds so hard.

28 July 2008

I Don't Like Mondays

But I do enjoy these videos. Feel free to sing along.



I feel better now, don't you?

Okay, here's one if you really want to be sullen today. Catch the genius of Kevin Aucoin's makeup artistry in this one. He's someone I really miss.

25 July 2008

WTF JCP?

I guess we really have The Beatles to blame. Up until they sold "Revolution" to Nike, it was beyond uncool to hand your music over to a corporation to be exploited in a thirty-second commercial. It branded you as a sell-out. Put your artistic integrity in the crapper. It was just not done.

I miss those days.

It's not bad enough that I have to hear punk rock songs hawking shite to the masses. No. Now they are stealing films from my youth.

I nearly barfed up my soy crisps when I saw the extended JC Penney ad running in the movie theatre. It took me a second to believe it was really happening. A two-minute breakdown of one of the seminal movies of the 80s: The Breakfast Club. It was horrific. About as bad as Iggy Pop shouting for a family cruise line, only longer. With worse clothes, and more kids. Sullying everything beautiful about that film. Burning its bastardization onto my retinas. I will not be the same.

All I could keep thinking was, "Whadafug?! Does John Hughes know? Will he sue? Please, dear God, let him sue. Please, don't tell me he actually approves of this! Do they have to ruin everything?"

While it's most likely that the studio owns the rights to the movie, I would hope and pray that the man who shuns the spotlight, rarely gives interviews, gave us Jake and stopped directing after Curly Sue wouldn't stand for such muck and would litigate the matter on principle alone. John Hughes is a hero. A protector of the rebel, savior to the nerd, a guardian of the outcast. Please, tell me he didn't sell us all out.

And don't let Sixteen Candles be next...or worse...turned into a musical.

(The godawful ad wasn't available on YouTube. Here's the original trailer.)



UPDATE: The blasphemy is up on YouTube, but they have disabled embedding. Cowards. Or maybe it was by John Hughes' request. Either way, here's the link: http://youtube.com/watch?v=CWFsOkvGAug

24 July 2008

Granddaughter of the Revolution

You can't really leave your house without stepping in a pile of politics these days. I don't really mind it. While I am not a political animal in either my business or social lives, I do like to have a healthy debate about it. My one request is that you know what you are talking about (not just reguritating party dogma heard on a talkshow) and know why you believe what you say you believe (not just toeing party line). I don't need articles quoted or statistics arranged in a pie chart, just your take on the subject matter and a lively dialogue about it.

Believe me, I'm not especially well-versed in all that's going on in the world right now. My blood pressure rises too easily.
I do check in with the AP wire daily to note the headlines so I'm not in a complete moronic bubble. Catch BBC America's news a few times a week. Matt and Meredith give me the latest on Today. But I have my limits on how much gloom I can take in. I stopped reading the paper after October 2001. I turn off the TV whenever the Shrub wants to hear himself talk at yet another public address that says nothing but spins everything. I can't even enjoy Bill Mahr's show because he always has one guest I want to crawl through the screen to clobber. I'm a Buddhist, you know. I'm trying to stay detached, not judge and just go with the flow. My A-type personality and fiery astrology sign does get the better of me at times. I try to breathe through it.

There's a lot of talk about the raising of taxes. Barack's grand plan to make us all broke and on the governmental teet. That seems to be the right's favorite weapon. Ooh, he's going to raise taxes. How will we afford to live! Please. If Nero would stop fiddling long enough, we could all hear the sound of our infrastructure crumbling. It's been doing that for decades, and no one seems bothered. The fact that our roads and bridges, schools, sewers and such are falling apart...well, that's just someone else's problem. That is, until you are standing in a puddle of poo.

I was having a talk the other day with a dear friend whom I greatly respect. We were chatting about taxes and, while I certainly don't have to worry about capital gains, she was a little up in arms about what Barack was proposing. She didn't like the idea of a tax hike to those who invest wisely. As someone who saw half her paycheck go missing to the taxman when she was 26 because she fell into a certain bracket and had no dependents (except for my offspring: Rent, Car Payment and Student Loans), I get the irritation that overtaxing can bring. My familial roots go all the way back to the Mayflower and the Revolution (and I have a lot of apologizing to do for that, I know). We had that tea party in Boston for a reason. But, if we don't start chipping in to take care of things, the proverbial pot holes are only going to get bigger.

(By the way, we all seem to forget that, no matter what a candidate proposes, it still has to go through the House and Senate before it makes its way to us. I realize it's confusing now, since we have been under a dick-tatorship for so long and the media prefers hyperbole, but that's how it's supposed to work. Last I checked anyway.)

Sadly, it occurred to me last night, while leaving the theatre after a 7:30 showing of The Dark Knight, what lazy, apathetic people we can be. Seriously. Stay through the end credits of a film (which you should do; those people worked hard and deserve some acknowledgment), wait for the lights to go on, and take in the astounding amount of trash left behind. What kind of people can't take their oversized soda cups to the garbage can? What kind of people leave their candy wrappers and popcorn bags on the floor? I'll tell you what kind: Americans. Trust me, the theatre wasn't full of Canadians and Swedes; we were in Santa Monica. Why is this slovenly behavior socially acceptable? Because it's someone else's job to take care of it.

But we don't want Big Government taking any intruding steps into our lives. Smokers complain about their loss of rights often. They deserve the freedom to smoke anywhere they like. Screw those of us who don't like the stench of ignited toxins. I understand their ire to a point. I don't want "The Man" to tell me what I can or can't do to my body. If I want to risk my skull riding a motorcycle without a helmet, I shouldn't get cited for that. But it's not like in the interim, I'm not dropping bits of gray matter on the road as I fly by. Yet, how many times a day do you see a smoker casually drop a butt out of their car window, or flick it to the sidewalk as they saunter along? I must ask again: What kind of a person does that? Someone who really believes it's not a big deal. Someone else will take care of it.

We might say we don't like Big Government, but our actions say otherwise. We expect other people to take care of the things we don't want to deal with. After all, they get paid for it, don't they? That's your tax dollar at work, no?

Trust me, I'm not a fan of taxes. I don't like my money wasted and I'm certainly not pleased with how the government misuses what I send in. But that's my fault for letting them get away with it. Believe me, Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein and Congresswoman Harman (whom I am still pissed at for not following my direct request to call for the Shrub's impeachment), know me and my email address well. I'm not IM-ing them every day or checking in on a weekly basis but, when I have an issue, I address it. I'm not afraid to pick up the phone and call my mayor to say that I'm not pleased about something (like being held captive in Bel Air). And you'd be surprised how easy it is to have a conversation with the right aide to get your point across, even if it's just to say you discovered a chunk missing from the road. It's not falling on deaf ears. It's being noted. Their jobs depend on it. And, if we all start letting our reps know how we feel and what we want, things will change. However, it's usually just the far ends of the spectrum chiming in. We need the middle men (and women) to speak up.

I know that must sound like a Peanut parent talking. Wah wah wahwah wah wah. But how else are we going to not only change things but make them better? Now's the time. Really. What are we waiting for? For it to get worse? I shudder to think of that.

I want to hold my breath in a tunnel to make a wish, not because I'm afraid it will collapse. Sink holes scare me (and fascinate me, too). I want to pay for the education of children not my own because, eventually, I'll have to deal with the little suckers as members of the general public and would like them to know how to use their brains. I don't have a problem with welfare. I think we should lend a hand to those who need it. I don't feel cheated by that. I feel cheated by my health insurance company, who increases my premium while shrinking my coverage. I feel cheated by corporations who seek profit at any cost. I feel especially cheated by our goverment protecting those corporations over the people, bailing them out while letting us sink. But, again, that's my fault. I let them get away with it.

My paternal grandmother was a direct descendant of Ethan Allen. When I heard that as a little girl, I thought for sure it meant big furniture discounts; a calming salve to the wound incurred by learning we were not heirs to a beer dynasty. What I later learned was that rebellion and distrust of "The Man" are in my DNA. I was destined to be a malcontent. Meant to question authority. Crave revolution. But, what might be most revolutionary is that I don't mind paying taxes to make our little piece of the world a better place. Maybe it's just my fear of sink holes talking or my version of tithing. Either way, I'd rather chip in now than pay for it later.

Did you feel that? I think it was a few of my relatives rolling over in their graves.

(Couldn't find a clip of them performing "Revolution" from the Isle of View accoustic show, but here's Chrissie and the lads performing "Tattooed Love Boys" circa 1981.)



(And "Private Life" from Isle of View. Not that either of these clips has anything to do with the topic here, she's just one of my favorite rebels, and one hell of a singer/writer/artist. Enjoy.)


23 July 2008

Tis Merely a Flesh Wound

I tend to make a lot of personal calls while driving. I'm sure it's an annoyance to friends, especially in dodgy coverage areas. It's always hard to interrupt a friend in mid-story (and a juicy one at that) to tell them that they had gone into the tin can and I only heard two of every three words, or less if they were of the highly syllabic variety. But, when I'm home, I am also at the office, and personal calls just aren't something I can easily manage. In the car, it's chat time. In goes the earbud and out pours conversation.

Driving home last night, I checked in on a few friends. It was about eight peeyem when I started my journey back from the hills of Hollywood. About half-past, I was in a deep discussion with one mate when I realized that I was hungry, and cooking wasn't going to happen. I decided to make a pit-stop to grab a burrito after a long, undernourished day (don't judge). We were still in the heart of the conversation, so I remained in my parked car in the crowded, ill-designed lot of the Westwood adjacent strip mall that holds a Starbucks, Poquito Mas, Baskin-Robbins, a credit union and Hollywood Video. I wanted to complete the convo (or get it to a lull) before walking into the Mas to make my order. The lot sports mostly "compact" spaces in a neighborhood known for SUVs. Parking is always a bit of an issue there. A few of the larger cars attempted to fit into the empty space next to mine, then left for wider pastures. As I was continuing my chat, I saw headlights coming toward me, then felt my car get a nudge.

"Oh, my God," I interrupted my friend. "She hit my car."

Now, you have to remember that over a year ago, I was in a series of accidents, and recently went out to find my sideview mirror smashed (for the second time; effing street parking with double parked construction crews), so my car is still a little tender. I got out of the Ghetta immediately with my earbud still attached, BlackBerry in hand, made wide-eye contact with the driver and delivered my friend a play-by-play including a quick inspection of the damage. The woman who hit me with her silver Ford truck pulled forward to the end of the lot and sat there. It wasn't a proper spot, but a place she could leave her car while she got out and talked to me only a few meters away. Instead, she put the truck in reverse. Perhaps she spotted a space? I don't like to block people either, so I followed her as she drove back to the other dead end of the lot. No parking there either. As she was driving backward, I read off the license plate number to my friend, who took note of it and emailed it over to me.

The woman looked at me, a tad nervous. First you ding a car, then you can't find a space to park and exchange info. Some night, eh? I get it. She started to pull forward to the end of the lot where our initial "meeting" occured, and so I start walking back there myself. But, before she got to the end, she made a quick left and flew out the exit.

"She's fleeing the scene!" I alerted my friend as I started after the truck in hot flip-flop-footed pursuit. The optimist in me thought for a second that she might have gone out and down to the adjacent underground lot and would be up shortly to address the matter with me. After all, a gray-haired lady in her 50-60s wouldn't really leave the scene of a fender bender, would she? Knowing how long it takes to make one's way up from there, and always one to make the most of my time, I quickly ordered my to-go dinner, earbud still in ear, friend still along for the play-by-play. I paced the crime scene keeping a hawk-eye out for the suspect as I waited for my number to be called. I even followed one woman with similar coloring (gray hair cut in a bob) who appeared to be somewhat sketchy in an in-a-hurry kind of way. I dashed after her, only to find her getting into a silver sedan.

My number was called, and I took my dinner home as I continued to chat with my friend all the way back to my house (about 15 mins away). I ate my dinner (it was getting a little late for that amount of carbage), then called my insurance company to make the claim. It was only 45 minutes after the accident occurred. Normally, I would call right from the scene, but the damage was minimal, and I was hungry, and the conversation -- once we got back on topic -- was still good. My insurance company told me that I had to make a police report. Hit and run is a serious matter. "Even for a small scratch and a ding in the door?" Yes, I was told. Very serious. And the sooner I file the report the better.

I had to call three different police departments (one recording, one computer hang up, one finally answered) only to find that I had to file the complaint in person. "Really? I can't do this online?" No. In person. The officer gave me the address of the traffic division, and now I had to take precious time out of my morning to make a claim that would have been so easily handled in that parking lot with a couple of laughs, a handshake and a comforting pat on the woman's shoulder. In spite of my Aries nature, I'm not the kind to go out for blood. Accidents happen, after all. It's really no biggie, it could have been handled sweetly. But, since she fled the scene, this was now a felonious act.

This is also when a BlackBerry with a camera would have come in handy. I need to upgrade or start carrying around my damn Flip. That reminds me: batteries.

Nothing irritates me more than having to skip the gym for no good reason, especially when I just got religious about going again. I was proudly two-for-two on a week when I can only get there four out of six (on the seventh day, I rest...and do laundry). I hate it when newfound motivation gets sidetracked. Especially after a burrito is ingested at nine peeyem. Especially for something as stupid as this.

One should never judge a book by its cover (though, a good cover will get me to buy it). The truck that hit me was new and shiny and appeared recently cleaned. I would assume that the driver would have been concerned about her own damage. After all, the truck appeared so cared for. My Ghetta hasn't seen the inside of a car wash in ages (I'm on a moritorium until this damn contruction is over and its dust is gone...which is anyday now), but, in spite of her exterior grime, I love that car as if she were a human...or at least a pet. I consider her a friend (one of my more reliable ones at that), and don't like that someone would give her a slap and then make a break for it. So, off to the police station I went.

In all honesty, I didn't bother to take a look at the damage in the light of day. Didn't have the time or want to relive the trauma before I finished my green tea. What I saw and felt in the dark was enough for me. The officer was nice enough to come out and view the wound before we started the paperwork. "That's it?" he asked. "I think it broke the paint, though." Like we were talking about a bite from a rabid dog. But, after a spittle-dipped thumb rub, I realized it was more of a wrinkling of dirt and transfer of paint than a proper dent or scratch. "If you want, I'm happy to fill out the report for you," the officer offered. I shrugged. "As long as the paint's intact and the body's not creased, I'll let it go," I replied. "But, she did flee the scene." He gave me an understanding nod.

When I went to shake his hand, he offered me his left. It was then I noticed that his right hand was resting on his gun.

Charming. That's carma for you.

22 July 2008

The Clompy Chronicles, Part 2

It seems there just might be something to this whole "positive thinking" thing. Clompy has been relatively quite for the past few weeks. Oh, there was one loud lovers quarrel a few days after I posted Part 1. I'm happy to report they made up later that day. They even went away for a while, which was a nice little vacation for me.

It's still far from Utopian. A new trend has started. Clompy and the boyfriend are making a habit of having cereal out in the back each morning, and they might as well be dining in my kitchen. I don't hear her, but he has rather a loud, deep, resonate voice that carries...all the way through my home. Not to mention a habit of stabbing the bowl with his spoon. He likes the sound of his own voice. I can tell, as he often punctuates everything with a satisfied laugh. It's nice to be able to entertain oneself. At least they've seemed to quit smoking. There has definitely been improvement.

For all their noise, I am kindly spared having to hear them sexing it up. And thank God and Baby Jesus for that. While I am relieved for selfish reasons, I also feel a little bad for her. She's a young gal, and these are the screaming years. I haven't actually found out when mine stop, but do my best to make sure all windows are shut and other noise on. And you thought music was just setting the mood. Still, this is about positive thinking. Wishing her the best. And I do want the best for her. I simply hope (and pray) that before she discovers loud sex, she will be in her fabulous new apartment or mansion or whatever the Fates will bless her with and far, far, far away from me. Or at least at his place. I'll start on wishing him better real estate, too.

Here are two clips on what some other unlucky neighbor has to endure. Try not to laugh. It could happen to you...on either side of the camera. (You may want to turn the volume down if you're at work.)




21 July 2008

Family Ties

There is fun in dysfunction. It's there, right in the middle of the word. So you have to see the humor malformed families hold. And sometimes, it just not that hard to find.

I went up to have lunch with my teenaged cousin and his sister on Saturday. They aren't old enough to go into bars yet and, since it was Dark Knight weekend, we were going to avoid all movie theatres and anything near movie theatres in order for me to keep my sanity. As a rule, I don't like crowds, I especially don't like crowds full of children, and I don't like crowds full of children in the suburbs more than just about anything I can think of at the moment. Something will eventually spring to mind, but, suffice it to say it will have to be pretty loathsome for me to hate it more than suburban kiddie crowds peppered with the people that bred them.

Ruling out bars and movies, and having an unwillingness to go to a restaurant near one of the cineplexes, that left us to lunch on strip mall food. (Insert disgusted sigh here.) I don't do fast food. I require a place where one sits down, peruses a menu held in one's hand, not plastered on a high wall, and a server comes over to take the order. I'm finicky that way. Outside of that, I'm up for just about anything. When I asked my dear cousin what he was craving for lunch, he declared, "Aw, man, I could really go for some sushi." I looked back at his sister. We shared the same look of horror, but for two totally different reasons. She's not gastronomically adventurous and I don't think anyone should be eating sushi at 11:59 AM, especially not in a town called Canyon Country. Since I would only be eating the vegetarian varieties, I figured I wouldn't likely die from it. (Key word being likely.) His sis would be safe, since she was going the meat-cooked-in-teriyaki route. My cousin is a hulking seventeen-year-old football player who can tolerate just about anything. Besides, he's a local. His immune system is used to that stuff.

For the record, it was the least attractive sushi I have ever seen. Possibily ever made. Sushi is supposed to be an art form. I've seen more artistic displays in the dog bombs I've near-missed. The knife skills of the sushi chef were abysmal. Blindfolded, I could have done a better job, and that would include whatever digits got amputated in the process. Even the ingredients were peculiar. They put pickles and brown bamboo shoots in my vegetable roll and completely skipped the carrots. I don't know how they say it in Japanese, but I took one look at it and said, "Quoi?" My cousin seemed disappointed. "Is it all right?" he asked. I assured him and his sis that it was just fine. And that there would be cake right after. Somewhere else, of course.

Yes, yes. I know I was just moaning about my thimples. But this was a medicinal application of sugar and fat. If you had cruddy sushi for breakfast, you'd need a cake chaser, too.

We drove across town to a place known for its pies, and was surprised to find that they did not have any cake. It should be mandatory that all restaurants carry chocolate cake. The world would be a much better place for it. In spite of the chocolate frosted chocolate muffin, I opted for fresh peach pie, my cousin got banana cream, his sister got a hot fudge brownie sundae that came in a tall goblet and, while she is rather tall for her age, as he always was for his, I thought we would need to get her a booster so she could reach in and spoon it out.

It was over our mounds of calories that my cousin brought me up to speed on family stuff. He said he spoke to our grandmother the other day. When she inquired what he was doing on the weekend, he mentioned lunching with me. "Oh," my grandmother replied. Then she asked him, "Has she gained weight?"

I put down my pie fork and picked up my jaw. Even his sister's eyes went wide on that one. "She really said that?" I laughed. He nodded and attemted to clarify, "But I think that she meant it in a good way, like do you have enough money for food. She also asked if you bought a house yet."

If you haven't guessed, outside of my cousin, I don't talk to my family. Not for one reason. No. There are many. It's not like a Hatfield and McCoy type standoff, it's not vitriolic, it's just safer for me to keep a healthy distance. I am rather the Black Sheep of the family. I'm a liberal Democrat for one. A feminist for another. I chose an art rather than a science for my degree. If I say something, I mean it. I don't just say mean things to say them. They mean them more as love taps.

My family has never really figured me out. They were certain I would go on heroin if I went to CalArts. Or, at the very least, stop shaving. (Neither of which happened, by the way.) My mother once accused me of being a lesbian, not because I was overly flirtatious with women, but because I hadn't brought any boyfriends home in a while. A strategic decision on my part. I remember making the mistake of taking a weekend getaway with my parents, who invited my beau along. My mother commented, "He's very handsome, but I bet he wished he was a little taller." "Yes, mom. He mentions that often. It keeps him up at night." He was 5'10. She's 5'8. I'm 5'6.

My family has only expected the worst from me. And, while I haven't been anywhere near a huge success at life, I haven't quite hit the skids either, which must be a sore spot for them. I have bypassed addiction to alcohol, drugs and/or sex. I don't even smoke. I've no bastard children (that I know of). No divorces, but no marriages either, so that's more or less a wash. I've not been homeless or tossed out of my apartment. I don't even have any tattoos or piercings outside of those on my earlobes, and they did that to me when I was five. So, now, I guess the only things left for me to live up to is morbid obesity and devil worship (which Buddhism might as well be to them). I told my cousin to let our grandmother know that I'm due for lapband surgery in a couple of weeks, but I wear my 400 pounds really well. Then I took another bite of pie.

Did she gain weight? Sheesh. This coming from a woman whose own brother-in-law used to refer to her as Jabba (never to her face, though). She's lost weight over the years, but was never what one would call svelt. It's her side of the gene pool that gives me the thimples. And I just can't stop laughing about this. Did she gain weight? I couldn't wait to get on the freeway and get a signal to call a friend and say, "Get a load of this..."

We think of grandmas as cake-baking, skinned-knee kissing bundles of love. My grandmother was a cake-baker, a pie-maker, but more the what-the-hell-were-you-doing-running-in-the-first-place-now-quitcher-crying kind of matron. She has also been very good to me at times, but that has always come with a heavy price. I used to pay it, figuring it was family dues. But then there was one phone call between us not too long ago that kind of made me want to cancel my membership.

I was in a bit of a bad patch. Three car accidents in one year (only one was my fault, and I blamed that on post-tramatic stress from the first one); a client who didn't pay on time, and then the check would bounce; and a burning stomach that would end up costing me two-grand. In an effort to comfort me, my grandmother reminded me that I wasn't getting any younger, I was crapping my life away and would never amount to anything. This was right after I published my first book (something I didn't share with my family until it was done). I explained to her that I knew she didn't really understand what I was working toward, but that I had just made a big step; I wrote a book and it was going to be in Barnes & Noble stores. I told her that I was both excited and hopeful about it, and maybe this would be the start of something good. To that she replied, "Oh, shit on your book."

It's okay to laugh. I did. That's the fun of dysfunction. For an 82 year-old woman to serve that up to her adult granddaughter, it's kind of priceless. Once I recovered, I said, "Okay, Grammy, I'm hanging up now." "Well, are you coming over tomorrow?" she asked. "Um, no. No, I'm not. Bye."

As we continued our lunch conversation, my cousin and his sister pointed out that they were really only children. Each having a different father (their mother was married to each of them at the time; don't want to paint the wrong picture), and each of their fathers having no other children, on a technicality, his sister told me, they were in fact only children. They both seemed really pleased with that. Who was I to argue?

After we were good and stoned on sugar,we went over to the Barnes & Noble where I showed his sister my book (and moved it into a better position), and got them some important literature (she, The Outsiders; he, No One Here Gets Out Alive...a very apropos title in that zip code). Then we made our way back to their home, where I promptly asked his mother, "Did he tell you what my grandmother said?"

18 July 2008

Thimples

My mother has a set of Shirley Temple dimples. When I was little, people always looked at me with disappointment when I smiled. "Oh," they'd say. "You didn't get your mother's dimples." Once I hit college, I could reply, "Oh, yes I did." They were simply on my thighs.

It's been an ongoing battle smoothing those ripples. I got to the point a few years ago where they were almost nil. I was living on the South Beach Diet, working out at the gym like a madwoman, burning 1,000 calories on the treadmill at a time, and slathering my thighs with Neutrogena's Anti-Cellulite Treatment twice a day. That seemed to be the right combo for my DNA. I was confident sitting down in short skirts or wearing light twill white pants. I didn't even cringe under the lighting of changing rooms. It was a glorious summer.

Then I went on a two-year writing binge, stopped exercising like a madwoman, would be lucky to burn 1,000 calories per week on the treadmill, had to bail on South Beach (you can't have copious amounts of artificial sweeteners with an inflamed stomach lining, nor should you when you are trying to eat all organic, and effing Stevia hasn't gone mainstream...thanks for nothing, FDA), and I can only find that Nivea stuff on the shelves. It seemed I had found the perfect cellulitic storm of writer's lifestyle, age and genetics. Something had to be done.

Not to be catty, but when Jennifer Love Hewitt tried to tell the world that's what a size 2 ass looks like, I had to cough out a bullshizzle. Try multiplying that by four. For a second, I thought someone had sold them a shot of me. But then I remembered I haven't been to Hawaii. To put it mildly, I'm no 2. It was a sad day at the Gap when a 6 didn't fit, and I used to be a 4 there. With a heavy sigh, I bought a bigger size. I knew there was nothing I could really do about it until I finished the book and the writing on my to-do list. My discipline only stretches so far. Now that it's done, I've gotten a bit more wicked with my diet (food will no longer come delivered in white paper bags). I'm back to a 6 now, and I've accepted that, until I can find two hours in the morning for the gym, I won't see a 4 anytime soon.

When I saw the photos of Mischa Barton sitting at a fashion show the other day, I again had a flash of, Is that me? Outside of the cankles, those are my legs right now. All of a sudden, I've gone lumpy. Something is definitely amiss. This has only happened once before when I went on the wrong Pill. Practically overnight, my breast grew a cup-size and small curd cottage cheese moved onto my thighs. I was okay with the boobage, but there was no way I would tolerate the rest. I went off the Pill immediately and both side effects went away. Unfortunately, I cannot blame oral contraception this time. Effing genetics.

Alas, the Nivea stuff just isn't packing the punch I need. For one, it doesn't have that tightening tingle that both the Neutrogena and Clarins creams provide. That's the caffeine, crucial in the fight against thimples. Nivea lacks that, and their L-Carnitine can kiss my cheeks. I've gone to CVS, Walgreen's and Long's, but no one has the damn Neutrogena. Haven't in ages, and I will not drop $75 on the Clarins. It works miracles, but I'm in a bit of a cheap phase right now. Instead, I did something I'd rather avoid at all costs: I shopped online.

About the only thing I buy online is music (but iTunes is a quick in and out). Occasionally, I'll purchase a book over the internet, but would much rather wander the aisles and annoy clerks by asking them to help me find a book that I inevitably end up standing next to when I finally request their assistance. Outside of that, I like to walk into a shop and get what I want or need. I'm a tactile individual. Keystrokes just aren't enough. Netflix is something I only recently warmed to, and that's because I absolutely loathe video stores (I had a traumatic experience working at one my first year of college).

As luck (and logic) would have it, I found the Neutrogena miracle cream on several sites. I hesitated for a moment, noticing the company did a packaging re-design. I don't trust that. But, I got over it. I even got over my cheap streak and bought two bottles. Sometime within the next five-to-seven business days (still too cheap to spring for overnight shipping), I'll starting feeling the the cheese melt. Let the smoothing begin! In the meantime, it's back to being a madwoman. At the gym at least.

17 July 2008

Something Good

Have you ever just sat around waiting for something good to happen? Anything. Anything good at all. Something as simple as Sixteen Candles on cable (premium, not basic). A random email from a long lost friend you didn't misplace on purpose. A coupon in the mail for a store already renown for their discounts. An extra bottle of Veuve found stashed in the back of the pantry. Anything at all remotely positive just to give you a break for the shitstorm you've been in.

The last two weeks have been rather challenging. If time had a personality, the recent past's would have been something akin to a teething two-year-old in need of a nap. Unrelenting in its annoyances and upsets. And all I could keep repeating in my head is, I can make it through the day if something good happens. Something, anything, just a little good. Please. I really don't need much. All it takes sometimes is for a parking space to appear when I need it. That can easily buy me a day or two of joy. Discovering a bit more cash than expected in my wallet not only thrills me, it makes me believe again in Santa Claus and fairies and all things mystical. Especially since I have a "magic" coin purse that has the power to turn a twenty into a one in the blink of an eye.

Good can come in all shapes and sizes but, when you wait so long for something good to come, you kind of want it to have a presence when it finally arrives. Announce itself with a thunderous clap. The ring of a cell phone and a, "Hey, baby. What are you doing right now?" attempt at seduction just won't do. Though, I suppose it's better than a simple text.

There's something sadly passive about waiting for something good to come. But I think it's also self-preserving. I certainly don't want to go out and tempt fate right now. Believe me, I'd stub my toe on along the way and chip my pedi. No thanks. I'm pleased to wait for something good to arrive. It's bound to show up soon. If nothing else, there's at least a new Netflix due in the post. I hope it will be good.

16 July 2008

Covering One's Funny Bone

I realize I'm throwing in my two-bits a bit too late on this whole New Yorker bad-taste-as-satire cover thing, but an article on Salon yesterday really got me irritated. It made two really offensive accusations: 1) Rush Limbaugh was right (about anything), and 2) Democrats have lost our collective sense of humor. Let me tell you, I can find the funny in just about anything. That cover wasn't funny. The more I looked at it, the more gobsmacked I became.

First of all, the cover does nothing more than serve up the Republican right a poster for their Anti-Obama campaign. Whether people in that Manhattan office realize it, outside their insulated bubble, bigotry is alive and well. The right uses nothing but fear to send voters to the booth. The cover decision was just an incredibly dumb act performed by some well-educated, supposedly cultured high-brows. And a perfect example of what kills me about the Democrats: We will shoot ourselves in the foot well before the other side can lob a Nerf ball at us. People, are the last eight years not enough for you? Jeebus. Give me a break even if you won't give one to Barack.

Secondly, but more importantly, the couple portrayed on the cover have children. By that, I don't simply mean "offspring" who will be doing some underage drinking in high-profile bars in the next week or two, but little girls. In primary school. In this case especially, satire needs to take a step back and become a bit more sensitive.

Imagine for a second that Ebony magazine did a "satirical" cover of, say, men donning yarmulkes dancing gleefully around piles of money? Or a priest convention taking place at a boys' school in Thailand? There would be one hell of an uproar if they went for that kind of "humor". Should the New Yorker expect any less? I'm certainly offended. And, had I a subscription, I would certainly cancel it. Fortunately for InStyle, Shape and Fitness, the closest they get to satirical humor is what they do with PhotoShop.

Certain things will just never be funny. I don't see a wave of 9/11 standup routines. Concentration camp humor hasn't made its way to the stage. There are no jokes about the day JFK or MLK Jr. were shot. If there are, I don't want to hear them. But if Pain plus Time really does equal Funny, then the New Yorker's biggest mistake was not waiting to do this cover after Obama takes the oath. Then all that cover would have said to the Republican right was: Gotcha!

15 July 2008

Off the Vagon

My vegan life lasted 33 weeks and three days. Well, technically, I suppose when I realized that denouncing leather was also part of the pact, I really didn’t get past day one. And then there was the cake clause, which I realized was beyond hypocritical (like a vegetarian who eats fish). There weren’t going to be a lot of birthday parties or weddings involving vegan pastry. Cake was going to happen and there was nothing I could do about it.

It’s really not easy being a vegan. For me, anyway. Or maybe it’s being a social vegan that’s the problem. Going out with friends for dinner to any place that’s not vegan-themed (and, let’s be honest, friends will tolerate that on occasion, but their patience with faux cheese and tofu runs out quickly), makes finding something on the menu, that’s sans meat, dairy and egg, generally limited to spring greens and the hummus platter. I could easily dine daily at A Votre Sante, but most of my friends prefer someplace a little less “healthy”.

Being in LA, the finicky palates and restrictive diets brought on by the latest trend are regularly tolerated at most restaurants. Some actually add a small parcel of menu real estate for those of us who skip meat or avoid those pesky carbs. Other establishments figure that if they add a quesadilla or cheese ravioli, they've got their bases covered. Even before being vegan, cheese was not an option. Not with these allergies. Fortunately for me, there’s Hal’s in my 'hood. Hal’s offers the perfect storm for my social life: 1) It’s walking distance from chez moi; 2) It has a killer cocktail menu; and 3) I can get the “vegetarian plate”, which consists of your choice of any four of the “sides”. I always selected the tofu, brown rice, spinach and either the broccolini or asparagus. It pairs nicely with my cantaloupe martini.

I could equally live at Hal’s, and most of my friends love it as much as I do, but sometimes they want to venture out to someplace new. Being a creature of habit, I loathe that. Especially as a vegan, cake eating or otherwise. So many menus had limited offerings of what I could/should eat, and I need a little something more in my belly than lawn trimmings. Salads just aren’t my idea of a dinner. And, as I gazed at the scallops on the James’ Beach menu the other night, I knew my vegan days were numbered.

I’ve been going back and forth about putting fish back in the mix. Mostly because I have fantasies of living in Dublin or Tuscany for a bit and figured I would be a less annoying dinner guest if I at least ate seafood. And, truth be told, I really only love about four vegetables. I tolerate the rest. Friends often encouraged me to go for the scallops, get the salmon. But I was afraid. What if something went wrong? I thought it would be more prudent to do a test meal at home...just in case. I have an allergy to crab (but not any other shellfish...yet), and it hits quick. Cold sweats, stomach cramps and...it’s not pretty. I also can’t eat seabass or halibut; the reaction isn’t anywhere near the crab, thank God. It’s the same as eating raw fish; I feel like I’m digesting glass. Quinoa and pears have to be avoided, too. There is no rhyme or reason to this, I know. It’s all just the fun part of being me. I’ve also come to find that once I take something out of my diet for a length of time, it may not be welcomed back.

I figured the window would soon close and, if I was going to start eating seafood again, I might as well do it now. Being the kind who leaps off the high board and then wonders on her way down if someone did their job and filled the pool, I grabbed the menu for my new favorite Indian restaurant and ordered up some Shrimp Vindaloo. Because of the $20 minimum for delivery, I also ordered the veg curry and some samosa. Go big or go home. And, because I was home, I was prepared for anything.

It’s amazing how little your money gets you when ordering seafood. I dumped the entire contents of the Vindaloo container onto the small serving of rice I doled out on a dish (I’m trying to watch my intake of refined carbs, you know). I ordered the Vindaloo at medium heat, as I like to taste my food after the first bite. And the first bite was delicious. So was the second, third and each one after. I ate every piece of crustacean they put in (which I think totalled six), and when I was done I waited. I waited and wondered what might happen. Was the wheezing that I felt coming on the first sign of anaphylaxis, or was that the whipped cream I had in my chocolate soufflĂ© the night before? (Okay, maybe my vegan stint lasted 33 weeks and two days.) Was the burning in my belly from the intense spices, or was something worse on its way? I ate a samosa and had a small serving of the curry an hour later (I was hungry from skipping lunch), just to see how far I could push it. Another hour passed and it seemed everything was going to stay down. My windpipe would remain opened. My plumbing would not be tested. I would indeed live to see another day.

I woke up with a jolt about 2:30 that morning. For a moment I wasn’t sure what was happening. Then I remembered what acid reflux felt like. Charming. Maybe the Vindaloo was taking it a bit too far. Perhaps it wasn’t the wisest choice for someone with such a sensitive tummy to partake at the same time seafood was being reintroduced to the digestive system. But I’m not half-assed about much. Do or die. Go big or...I took a sip of water, propped up my pillows and went back to bed.

Merriam-Webster officially added the word pescetarian to the American lexicon earlier this month. That’s a vegetarian who eats fish. I always thought that was just someone who didn’t eat mammals or birds. I guess it comes down to what’s the best way to describe the kind of a pain in the ass you are to eat with. I suppose I’ll need to create my own terminology for my distinct lack of discipline. In order to avoid being offered vegetable lasagna at dinner parties or eggs dishes at friendly breakfasts, I’d still rather equate myself as vegan, even if I’m a fraudulent one allowing cod and cake. So, I’d like to coin the term fegan. Or perhaps ficakan might be even a descriptor.

I do intend to be a vegan at least 80% of the time. The tofu still calls. Hal’s will always be home to cantaloupe martinis and brown rice based entrees. A Votre Sante will remain my first dining choice, even if it’s most of my other friends’ last. But, next time I’m faced with the choice of spring greens or hummus, I’ll have the scallops if the mood so strikes. The whipped cream on the chocolate soufflĂ© might have to go, though. Damn allergies.

14 July 2008

Have Some Class

Being such an independent broad, I even went so far as to "independently" publish my first book. Because of that, and my many other blogs on the subject (sorry, you aren't my only blog, dear, but that doesn't mean I don't love you best), I've become not so much an "expert" on self-publishing, but the one you email to ask how you can avoid repeating my mistakes. Somehow, I convinced the good people at Santa Monica College to let me teach a little class on the subject. If you are in the LA area on September 17th, I hope you'll join me.

Intro to Self-Publishing

Playing With Potential

One of the more enjoyable things one can do on a Sunday is have brunch with a good friend, maybe consume a few more calories than necessary, perhaps have a cocktail or two (or three, which is okay because we were walking), and then wander up and down the boulevard imagining what's next. Wonder how close we are to actually having it all. And we would indeed have it all. Why not? Fantasies are free.

There's a heap of potential out there just waiting to be seized. You can see it in the open expanse of a loft space. Within the four walls of that house for sale. In a shop window. The smile that stands out on a face in the crowd. Once you start, you begin to see it everywhere. You can't help but consider what you would do if your dream actually came true. If money were no object. If time wasn't something that ran so short, compressing everything everyday. If you could finally afford that maid. The personal chef. The personal trainer. And how nice it would be to actually have your own personal assistant.

Hours can be spent doing this. It's an enjoyable game. And daydreams as an adult seem to have a bit more power to them. They aren't merely an exercise of the imagination, but a plotting of the future. Phrases change from If or When to How. How can I make this happen? How quickly can I get it done? How great will it be when it's finally achieved?!?

Yesterday, my friend and I bought a house, started a few restaurants, opened a boutique and leased office space (I even threw in a few items for my wardrobe). The potential out there was palpable. Of course, more than a few of our plans required a windfall to make them real. A lotto win would come in quite handy, or a group of investors would do. Personally, I long for a generous benefactor. No, not a sugar daddy. I'm not that kind of girl. But, I think it would be nice for someone to take me on as their favorite charity. Be my very own NEA. It would be fabulous if we hit one of those jackpots. But, we knew it's down to us to take all that raw potential and mold it into exactly what we want. Somehow, we convinced ourselves that the DIY way was even more exciting than winning the lottery or a kindly benefactor picking up the tab. That was probably the third drink talking.

11 July 2008

EastEnding

Fridays shan't be the same now that EastEnders has ended in LA. Insert deep, sad sigh here. For those of us who love the non sequitur, high-build to anti-climax soap of the blue collar families on Albert Square, this is a heavy blow.

It's not like KOCE gave us much of a warning. No. Just a flash of a title card announcing that it shall no longer be broadcasting it. Bastards. They have yet to reply to my email as to just how much dough we need to raise to get it back on. Evidently, it's an expensive show to air.

This is the second time this EE has been pulled away from me. BBC America was first to betray. How could a network with the letters BBC in their name drop the quintessential Brit soap? Isn't that up there with dissing the Queen? That cancellation happened right before my trip to Dublin and I was so excited to see it "live" for once. I was three weeks behind on BBC America, which meant I had to go online to catch up. Of course, my trip was timed with the most boring storyline ever (the one where Alfie's grandmother was set to marry that conman). Still, it was a kick to see it in its proper time zone (though not in the UK, which was an equal kick). When I came back, I stayed current by reading the synopsis on the EE website. But, four episodes a week took a great deal of time and dedication to manage and, slowly, I let it go only to go back to watching the show on PBS. Their episodes were over five years behind, and airing only two episodes a week was only making it worse.

I knew the storylines already, but they were fun to re-watch. Reliving Frank and Pat's betrayal of Peggy and Roy. The many meltdowns of Phil Mitchell. Janine becoming a coke-addicted prostitute. And we were just getting to the good part where Melanie flees after Steve's death and we aren't sure if she's going to keep the baby or not when KOCE pulled the plug. Now I'll never get to see the skinny Sonia and watch her marry Martin, the father of her baby she gave up for adoption years before (though it probably would have taken over a decade to get there). I mean, you think life in LA is dramatic, but we don't have nuffin' on what goes on in London's EastEnd.

Click here to see the hilarious scene where Sonia give birth, completely unaware that, at 15, she's preggers (they disabled the embed code, hence the link). Watch Steve Owen die below (and, yes, that is Martin Kemp from Spandau Ballet), in two parts.




10 July 2008

Young at Heart

The funny thing about growing older as a woman is that we will do just about anything to not age. We will inject ourselves with unnatural things, have surgeries, apply chemicals to our face so we can peel off a piece of time. At the very least, we will spend a little too much on lotions, potions, serums and creams to do battle on a daily basis, or gag down fistfuls of vitamins that might serve as a remedy. No longer being a spring chicken myself, I get it. I'm a slave to sunscreen and appreciate a good peptide as much as the next girl. But, in spite of what the magazines are writing about, the one thing that truly keeps us young is men. Well, that's more than one thing, actually (pardon the pun). But there's nothing that will take a woman back in time, and to a perpetual teenage state, like trying to figure out a man. It's uncanny.

Since I kind of wrote the book on getting over a guy, I tend to field my share of relationship questions. I don't mind. They can be some pretty fascinating conversations. Especially the "Why Do You Think He Hasn't Called?" topic. It's amazing the amount of time women will waste on that subject. The precision of the analysis that goes into it. The predictions of doom (which can easily be self-fulfilled). Granted, it's always a curious moment when the man who's always called like clockwork suddenly goes MIA, but we all know that all men do this at one time or another. As one friend says, though, knowing is the booby prize. When that call doesn't come, it will freak more than a few of us out.

I have been going back and forth with one friend for two days on the subject. And, of course, right after one such convo, he called. (I know this because she emailed me after.) But then I got another concerned message from her because he didn't call the following day. What's worse, he didn't respond to a text she sent him. And he always responds to her texts. And she's, like, going away for, like, four days, leaving early the next morning, and he knows this. So why hasn't he called?

Who cares?

I mean, I care that my friend is upset by this (and, for the record, she does realize she's being just a tad irrational), but who cares why he hasn't called? He just hasn't. That's it. If there wasn't a fight or an issue or some other "cause" for the call to be skipped, the guy is just doing a guy thing. Who cares? And, besides, they just talked the day before. For over an hour. Criminy. Even I don't always want to talk that much.

There is one little distinction I would like to make, though: If a man says he's going call and then doesn't, that's going to make a little tickmark in my brain. I'm the kind that keeps a mental note of people who do what they say they will and those who don't. I do that with everyone, though. To me, it's a gauge of character. But, if it was just assumed that he would call and then knickers get twisted because he doesn't, that's simply self-created drama, and a sure sign that someone needs to get out and see friends more, or at least take up a new hobby.

Ironically, it's not like anyone has to be sitting by the phone to feel the angst of the missing man call. Today, our cells are perpetually attached, bombarding us not only with calls but texts and emails...or not. Perhaps that's what makes the missed communication sting a little more. It's so in your face. It's not like you have that one disappointing moment when you walk in the door and find your voicemail empty. No. You know the whole time that phone didn't ring with the call you were jonesing for. Bummer. Still, who cares? I would think by now we'd be beyond that stage and could simply blow something that silly off without a second thought. Then again, it's nice to know that, in some ways, youth never leaves us. It's really only a missed phone call away.

09 July 2008

I Know Who Killed (Ti)Me

I cannot believe that I actually watched I Know Who Killed Me. The shame I feel. Maybe it was the Midol I was stoned on. Or maybe this is the length I will go to in order to avoid the revision on my novel. Writers. We tend to avoid writing every once in a while. It’s all part of the process.

Probably the most disturbing part of this is that I didn’t merely stumble upon the movie playing on cable. No. I caught a glimpse of it on the guide and selected it. I chose it. This was an act of free will. There must be something wrong with me.

For those of you who might be curious, this is not one of those “so bad it’s good” films. It was so bad that I am absolutely amazed that it got funding in the first place. I watched it with my eyebrows together and mouth agape. Fortunately, I was alone. It was so bad that the ending credits went in alphabetical order (and it’s not like the movie boasted an all-star cast). The woman who played “Fat Teena” rolled first. (I suppose it does pay to have a last name that starts with double-A’s.) But I started to surmise that Lindsay might not have been too popular on set if the Bozo-like lipstick application in the strip club scene was any indication. It artistically emphasized the poorly timed and oddly chosen lip injection she had, probably for the “character”. To think of all the little celluloids that died to make that film. Sigh.

Perhaps that premium cable package isn’t such a good idea. I can only pray that if/when my life ever flashes before my eyes, I won’t have to relive that hour and a half.

The End of the World

I know this is older than the internet and you've seen it a thousand and one times, but I lurve it, so make it a thousand and two. (There is some adult language in it, so you may want to turn the volume down if you're at the office, school or find yourself around uptight individuals.)


08 July 2008

Mads About You

I'm in love. Truly, madly, deeply in love with the music of Mads Langer. Now, if you aren't from Denmark or don't listen to Passport Approved on Indie 103.1, you may not have heard of this wonderful wunderkind. Allow me to bring him to your Attention Please.

http://www.myspace.com/madslanger

Unfortunately, "Shine" isn't on the playlist there. That's the song that brought Mads to my attention and trust me when I say that it is one of the most perfect songs I've heard...and I'm not one to gush over just any bit of music. I can be a little snobby about it, actually. I come from a 70s glitter/glam-80s punk/new wave (though it gags me a tad to even write that phrase) musical upbringing. Bowie and Lennon were my first musical loves, and I fell for them when I was six. K-Tel 8-tracks and daytime showings of "The Midnight Special" brought David into my life, and my stepdad's favorite non-Neil Diamond album was Lennon's Shaved Fish. These men were songwriters. Though, I couldn't really grasp the concept of "Cold Turkey" at such a young age, and envisioned a really pissed off bird chasing after John. Anyway, "Shine" caused me to race out of the shower, dripping over to my laptop to Google him when I heard the song on Indie early one Saturday morning earlier this year. I found Mads but discovered "Shine" wasn't yet out in the States. I had to wait ever so impatiently for it to hit iTunes two months later (it's there now on the EP Fact-Fiction. Pop-Or ???, buy it).

"Breathe Out" and "Poem With No Rhyme" (my personal anthem), are from his debut album, Attention Please, and they are my two faves from it. From what I understand, he was 21 when the album came out. I'm sorry, but no one that young should be that talented. It's almost kind of rude, even at 24. The other song on the playlist, "Killer", I believe will be on the upcoming album (due to drop early next year). And, yes, I still call them albums because I'm using my power of positive thinking to bring LPs back. I miss liner notes.

07 July 2008

The Clompy Chronicles, Part 1

I live in a duplex. It's been my home for too long now, really. But, thanks to rent control, I pay so under-market that there's no point of packing up and moving any time soon. My landlord, who is this side of a slumlord and an all-around arse, hates me for that reason. I've been told not to expect any repairs that would cost much money and that, if I don't like it, I can leave. But, he also knows that I'm not afraid to call the City when push comes to shove, like when he illegally raised our rents a couple of years ago. It's a tentative tennant-landlord relationship, and we now enjoy a somewhat civil, professional loathing of each other. But he's not really what I'm here to talk about.

The duplex is a side-by-side dwelling rather than upstairs-downstairs design. I share a single wall; my living room with that bedroom. We reside on a busy boulevard in a touristy beach town, so quiet doesn't really happen all that much around here. I'm used to being serenaded by drunken homeless men in the wee hours of the morning. Treated to the stereophonic offerings of people waiting at the traffic light. The window-rattling exhausts of Harley gangs. I'm also lucky enough to live two blocks from the firehouse, so sirens are also a regular occurrence. I'm not really expecting it to be Quaker quiet around here, but I'm rather fed up with the slamming, banging and stomping round by my wallmate, Clompy.

Clompy is my fourth neighbor in the decade I've been here. The first was a wonderful lady who had lived in her half of the duplex for over twenty years. She was the perfect neighbor: hard of hearing, rarely home, happy for me to have a party. The only down side she brought was when she took up the hobby of feeding the pigeons. They ate at her place, and crapped all over mine. Sadly, after a series of strokes, she was put in a nursing home by her niece. Shortly thereafter, the pigeons left, and another nuissance arrived. Builders.

Being the tasteless braggart my landlord is, he decided to rennovate the apartment, devoiding it of all it's 1930's, Art Deco inspired charm. He filled the kitchen with manufactured faux oak cabinetry, took out the Deco tub and replaced the ceramic with marble tile and finished the shower with a glass door. He knocked down a wall, removing a hallway and rerouting the closet to create a huge bedroom with a now en suite bathroom. Personally, I'd rather keep my hallway so guests wouldn't have to saunter though my bedroom to "use the facilities", but that's just me. These rennovations took over a year. Hardly cost-effective by my math. And I got to enjoy the sounds of banging, slamming, loud Spanish, power outtages, water offages, dust, drills, more banging, more loud Spanish and several headaches.

Did I mention that I work from home? My "office" shares that common wall. That year was a lot of fun, let me tell you.

I took a look at the place when it was finished, and it was nothing special. It made me sad that all the quaintness my apartment has was gone. Never to return. Just like my favorite neighbor.

A new tennant moved it. A lady over a certain age with a yappy Pommeranian. She liked to have a quick chat whenever I was in a rush, was convinced people were using a key to get into her apartment and steal things, and mistook mating squirrels on our roof as a theif looking to break in through our massive skylights that take over the ceiling space of our bathrooms.

I soon found that the new design of the bedroom made me very aware of the closet, which was now directly across from my desk. Every time it opened or closed I heard it. I could hear clothes being hung or slid across their rod. Shoes being thrown in, but mostly the doors being slid hard to their end and a deadening thud.

My neighbor
also had the habit of letting the yappy Pommeranian out in the front yard each day, where he would bark the entire time. He was an obnoxious dog with a rotten disposition. She would let him bark like that for an hour or more. Nonstop. And it was that panicked sounding bark of a small dog. It was beyond annoying. I finally had to let her know what a disruption that was, especially when I would be on a business call. After that, I would give him ten minutes of bark time before I would yell through the wall that it was enough already.

She moved out when her year lease was up. I did a happy dance.

The next neighbor was a strange man with many strange women, who kind of lived there, and kind of used it as an office, and always had a different car and a different girl, but the girls weren't really like girlfriends, more like Girl Fridays, and the girls always had different cars (and they were all really expensive, foreign cars, which made little sense since we all have street parking; the landlord rents the garages out separately to make a few more bucks). I could hear them talking and dropping things every now and then, but then there would be long bouts of silence when he would be away. He was a peculiar man, we (some of my other neighbors and I) all agreed. He, too, moved out after a year.

Each time the For Rent sign went up, I was filled with hope. Hope of a cool neighbor. One I could either have an occasional drink with, or one I would never see or hear at all. This time, the apartment stayed vacant for many months. The economy is not what it once was, and high rents have lost their prestige. Finally, the sign came down and Clompy moved in.

Clompy is a young girl, about 5'1. Her hair is long and black. Her arms are sleeved in tattoos. She probably weighs a buck o' five, if that, but she stomps around that apartment like she's a stormtrooper. She does not so much close a door as she slams it. Hard. Each and every time. There is the front door, the security screen door, and the gate enclosing her small front yard. She slams all of them on her way in or out, and often repeats the process when she's forgotten something on her way out, which is rather often.

She's a smoker. But not a smoker who smokes indoors; she's one who likes to do it from her back steps while talking on her cell phone. The smoke somehow floats all the way from her backstep to my kitchen window and through my window fan all the way into my living room, up my sinuses and into my brain giving me a nice headache. The back path is littered with her butts. The pot of a dead plant is her favorite ashtray, which has not been emptied in over a year. That's right. She is the only one to go past her lease.

Clompy now has a boyfriend. I'm very happy for her. Except when they chase each other around the apartment, clomping at a rapid pace, or have a fight and slam even more doors. I met him when I popped my head out my backdoor this weekend to ask them to please enjoy their cigarettes in the front yard, as their smoke infiltrates my home and makes me a tad sick. I said this with all sweetness and sincerity, repleat with "please" and "thank you". They both looked at me blankly (as if English might be a second language), didn't say a word (though I know for a fact they do indeed speak English), put out their cigaretts and went inside the house. I guess they are what you would call "Emo". Whatever. I just wasn't going to have a nightly cigarette with them this summer like I tolerated last.

I didn't have a chance to address the clomping and the slamming then. I thought it might be too much for them to handle. I'm trying to figure out the right way to bring it up. Getting out of bed after midnight to knock on her door and mention that I can hear them clomping and slamming about all the way back in my bedroom really isn't convenient for me. A letter left might not be the most personable offering either. So, I'm going to start with the power of positive thinking. I'm going to think positively that she will move. That she will find a great new job and a great new place near that job, and her broody, stompy boyfriend will go with her. All of us will be better off then. And it has to be her. She definitely has to be the one to go because, for what I pay in rent, I'm never leaving.

Stay tuned. I'll keep you posted on the power of positive thinking. And, if you don't mind helping, I would very much appreciate you putting your positive thoughts towards Clompy's success and smooth move. Cheers!