29 August 2008

The Clompy Chronicles, Part 3

It seems the power of positive thinking thing worked. Except on the wrong neighbor. The one three doors down moved out. Clompy and her boyfriend, Boomer, remain. Sigh.

Boomer has taken up the bass. I haven't heard the hint of natural talent yet. Just awkward thudding that travels from their living room through their bedroom through my living room to my bedroom. He puts in a couple hours a day. Including some time around midnight. Last night, it was going on well after one ayem. Yes, I have thought about knocking on their door and blowing an air horn at them. But, after I've washed my face, brushed my teeth and peeled out my contacts, I don't really want to get dressed, go out, buy an air horn and knock on their door. I can be lazy. Or masochistic.

They've also created a nice resting area in their front yard, replete with two, plastic pink flamingos and a self-standing hammock, strategically placed right next to my living room window. Boomer likes to go out there and hear himself talk.

Is marching in one's apartment, back and forth and back and forth, the new trend in at-home exercise? Did I miss that memo or infomercial? Still trying to find a reasonable reason for the stomping Clompy does. He joins in, too. When he's not on his bass.

I'll keep trying to think positive thoughts, wish them to a better home that isn't adjoined to mine. Wonder who'll move next?

28 August 2008

Boo Who?

I started to cry this morning. Me, of all people. I had to do a check. Figure out what was going on. I'm not a weepy person. I generally cry through laughter or when Huckleberry Fox leaves the room after Debra Winger tells them she's dying; when he turns around and nods after she says she thinks that went okay -- ugh -- that always gets me. Of course, if something really sad happens, tears will flow. But outside of that, I don't cry much.

Please don't get me wrong. I haven't Botoxed my heart or anything. And I don't find anything wrong with crying. I think it's a great release. But it takes too much energy. When I cry, I cry. It comes from deep within. Eyes swell, nose runs, face gets red and puffy. It's pretty attractive. I'm not one of those dainty weepers whose tears flow gently down with nary a sniffle, easily blotted away with the corner of a hankie and can be camera ready thirty seconds after. Nope. Ice packs, cucumbers, cortisone shots -- that's what would be warranted to make me presentable after a bawl. Even then, I need a nap. Crying is draining. It's best to get it out on a Sunday afternoon, I think, then have a little nap and go out to dinner later. Kind of work your day around it. If only. Could you imagine: "What are you doing this weekend?" "Oh, you know the usual. Errands on Saturday morning, hair appointment then dinner and a movie. Sunday I'll be crying. Should be done by four. Want to grab an early dinner and try that new wine bar?"

The tears that came over me this morning weren't sad tears. They were sappy tears. I was simply sitting here, thinking about my friends. How wonderful they are. How much I adore them. And that's when I started welling up. Whaddafug?

(Seriously, I can hear tissues being pulled from the box by some of you, and vomit buckets pulled out by the rest.)

My first thought was, "Is this hormonal?" My second thought was, "Shit. This better not be peri-menopausal." But then I realized that I'm a little tired, had an up and down week, and my friends have been phenomenal. They've really rallied their support around me. And, see, here come the tears again.

They say you can't pick your family (well, Buddhists say you do pick your family, but that's a discussion for another day, because I still think my paperwork got effed up in that process), but you can pick your friends. I've picked some winners.

Oh. My. God. Here they come again! Jeebus!

27 August 2008

Ups and Downs

I don't ask for much. Just consistency. If my internet is going to go down, it should go all the way down, not just pick and choose what works, because it doesn't pick the right things!!!

After two full reboots (yes, gents, I unplugged the modem and router and restarted the computer after fully shutting down), it was still not letting me get my all of my emails or open all my tabs in Firefox. Safari wouldn't connect at all. Facebook would work, but not my bank website. Some random article I tabbed would open, but not Dlisted. Blogger was up (yea!), but I couldn't get to a new address no matter which http I typed.

This started at 7:30 this morning before I left for the gym. (Okay, let's stop for a moment and acknowledge that, yes, I am actually at the gym before 8:00 AM, or my usual 8:40, able to throw down an hour and a half of exercise for three days running. This, my friends, is huge. Holla!) I tried the first reboot then. Failure. So I went to the gym with a hint of frustration and had a great workout. Were it not for my desire to become a more mellow, go-with-the-flow individual, I'd hit the weights pissed off every day. I did more reps at a higher poundage than I have for a long time. It was awesome.

Figuring at least that had gone well, surely the internet issue would be resolved by the time I got out of the shower. That was when reboot two went down. Again, some tabs would open but others (the important ones) would not. Safari was still shot. I couldn't get the needed mail from one main account and that annoying "doink" kept doinking, alerting me to what I already knew: It's not effing working.

I had to have this solved before my work day happened. I mean, you can't really work from home and not have your internet fully functioning. Who uses the phone these days? Well, I had to. Internationally, no less. I thought I could be quick and email them before the end of their workdays (hence my pre-gym email check and ire-inspired workout), but needed to get to their websites to contact them. Blackberry can only do so much, especially my moldy ol' device. I really need to upgrade. And that statement goes further than my technology.

An hour and a half later, just as nonsensically as it went down, the internet went up again. Like nothing had happened. No apology or explanation. Typical. I just glared at it, put my hands on my hips and said, "Oh, so now you decide to show up." Then mumbled, "Unreliable SOB." But, at the end of the day, I got to hear some lovely accents, received an email with a line in it that read, "Confirmed by Jesus", even though it was meant to say "Hey Zeus", and can now go to see what Cake Wrecks has in store today.

26 August 2008

You Twit?

I wonder if you Twitter about blogging and blog about Twittering, will you end up getting tangled in the World Wide Web? Come down with virtual vertigo? Spin out on the information superhighway? I guess we shall see.

I've become a bit of a Twitter addict. I'm still new to it, so I'm still trying to figure it out. I have gotten myself on Twellow and figured out how to get my "tweets" to update my Facebook status, too. (That would be through the Twitter app on Facebook, and, yes, I can hear the resounding "Duh" coming from a few of you.) I'm sure you've noticed the Twitter feed right there to your left. So, now, if I ever end up doing anything interesting, you will know immediately. (And I hear the resounding yawn there, as well.)

For as long as I have had RUAWAKE (nearing year eight), I've not been what you would call "in" with the internet. I just sit and post. Email friends. I'm not a regular visitor to YouTube. I don't know all the cool sites and blogs. I mean, I get DailyCandy, know how to Google and subscribe to Salon, but that was about the extent of my internet life. Getting on MySpace took years. Now, I live on Facebook.

This whole Twitter thing was kind of a blind leap. None of my actual friends are on it. Well, one is, but she never actually "tweets". Most of my lot had the same initial reaction I did to it: One more thing to manage? But it's really not a hassle. It actually makes some things easier, and is a bit of fun.

On Twitter, I have discovered a really interesting group of intelligent, funny people. It really should be called Witter, because what some of these folks come up with in only 140 characters (and that includes spaces and punctuation) is pretty amazing. Some are there to promote their blogs, their books or their jobs. Others are just folks posting thoughts. Yes, there is some gobbledigook on it as well. But, you can stay away from it. You pick and chose whom you follow and can miss the rest. If only all of life were like that.

I'm still only in double digits with those I'm following. It's a fabulous array that makes up my dirty dozen, and I find them both informative and entertaining. I don't know that I could follow any more than that, though. It's hard enough keeping up with the ones I have as it is. That might be because the DNC is happening, and Rachel Sklar has a lot to say about it. But I appreciate that. See, now I don't have to watch it. Tah-dah!

It also has a broader purpose. In your "tweets", you can ask questions, request research assistance, make connections, announce a job opening, an event, that you are looking for work. It's not really about marketing though, which is what makes it so nice. Right now, it is a happy, little community of people. How long do you think it will stay that way?

25 August 2008

Groaning for Gold

Yawn. I hear the Olympics are over and we won't have to suffer through them for another two years. Yea! So glad we can get back to BS as usual.

I have to say, I did a great job of not watching any of the Olympics, with the exceptions of what the "Today Show" recapped and accidentally watching the Men's Swimming Relay (we were in a bar and it was on, I had no say). Sports really aren't my thing. Overproduced television really isn't my thing. Hype upon hype upon hype completely puts me off. But, above all else, I wasn't going to support anything Chinese government related. You can go on and on and tell me that's not what it's about; it's a time where the world sets that all aside for the honor of competition. Bollocks. That was the Chinese government's big PR push, and quite an expensive one. I think it would have been better handled, and received, if they simply freed Tibet.

My feelings about their government don't extend to the people of China. Look, I wouldn't want to be judged by the dufus sitting in the White House. I didn't vote for him, twice. So I absolutely acknowledge the difference between the people and their leader, or joke in a suit. Whatever you want to call him. And, it's not the little girls' fault that their ages were lied about. But, that landing off the uneven bars was not gold worthy (saw it on "Today"). That the US Team didn't dispute it was kind of gross. Yes, we want to be good sports and respectful guests, but weren't we already overlooking the fact that the Chinese team were grossly underage? It's just seemed way too hinky. And, that's another reason why the Olympics don't do it for me. It's always political.

Back in the day, I think it meant a little bit more. The athletes were amateurs and couldn't go pro. I mean, of course the Men's Basketball Team took gold. They'd better. They had Kobe. And a few other top players I'm sure. But, once they started letting all the pros play, the Olympics truly lost its luster for me. There will never be another "miracle" hockey team. Like Steve Prefontaine, they won't have to suffer for their sport, and I think that's where the true passion and drive comes from. And why college football is easier to suffer through than a pro game. They are hungry for it. They have something to prove.

Nothing's the same anymore. Even Wheaties had their cereal pissed in. I believe in change, but always hope its for the better. Is it though? Do we really need a bunch of fireworks and choreography at the opening ceremony, or is that to justify the advertising cost? Everyone is wondering if London can live up to Beijing's hoopla. Who cares? Just have Beckham wear his panties. Or wrangle the Sex Pistols on to the stage and let them scream about anarchy. Now, that I would watch.

22 August 2008

TGI...Why?

I think there's something wrong with life if we have to give a big, "Woo-hoo! It's Friday! Thank God!!!" when that day arrives. How much must our weekday working lives suck to have that reaction? What is it about the time we spend between Friday elation and Monday dread that makes us loathe any day that doesn't start with an S? These are the questions plaguing my mind this morning as I realize that I am already running late. But, at least it's Friday. Thank God.

If only two days out of seven are celebrated, enjoyed, worshipped, held sacred, then what the hell is going on with the other five? And what does it say about our meager existences if we hate our jobs so much, feeling a shadow of doom as we drive into our places of employment? Nothing good, I'd think. There is the adage of "Love what you do," but how many of us can say that and mean it? It seems like a great many of us hold our breath all week, waiting for it to end, then, when Friday comes about, we all exhale like we are finally able to live again.

Now, I'm not saying that everybody feels this way, or even that everybody feels this way every week. And not everybody has Saturday and Sunday off, or two days in a row off, or even two days off for that matter. In this economy, some are working not for but on their weekends to make ends meet. That makes me sad. We all need a weekend to enjoy.

But the thing is, we should be enjoying the week, too. I don't think enough of us are having fun Monday through Thursday. Are you? I'm not. And that's my fault. It's too easy to focus on what you don't like rather than what you do. And I do like my life. I suppose it's just the frustration of trying to fit more into it without rushing to do it. My attempt to wake up earlier to have a more peaceful morning isn't having much success. But, I'm not giving up. My perpetual yawning is proof of that. I don't know that I'll ever be one to say, "Yea! It's Monday!" But I hope to one day wake up on that day and not say, "Crap." Wait, isn't Labor Day coming up?


Enjoy the Easybeats and "Friday On My Mind".




Here's Goldspot and their "Friday".




And how could I not include Loverboy.

21 August 2008

Blow Me

Nothing blows harder than having the wind knocked out of your sails. There you are, slumped over, not going anywhere, drifting aimlessly, flaccid on placid water. In my case, likely seasick as well. Sailing is only sexy until you are puking in a plastic bag. And that was after the Dramamine...and the barbecued clams and Red Stripes. Not my first sail but, so far, my last. I prefer yachts, anyway.

All metaphorical boating and barfing aside, today was a bit of a bummer. I can't say that nobody died because, as it turns out, my friend's grandmother did. So I can't really bitch about my day. I mean, I can. That's sort of what this blog is for. Or at least lately it is.

There was really nothing I could do to alter my mood. I was told I had to wait a little while longer for the answer I've been waiting months for. We've all been there. Hurry up and wait. And I dare you not to anticipate in the process. I anticipate everything. Occupational hazard, having been an assistant in Hollywood a little too long. I couldn't take the day as it came. I was expected to know how it would go. Now, it's simply a bad habit of mine. On top of it, I'm a natural pre-planner. We can totally book lunch a year in advance. I'd prefer it that way, actually. It's a sickness. You should have seen the menus I made just for a camping trip. No snack was left unconsidered. Munchies were bought for every possible mood and weather condition. I need help.

In an attempt to shift my mood, I got my car washed. This is rather newsworthy, as I wash my car about four times a year. Partially for the environment. Partially because I have street parking and a wash lasts about ninety minutes. I even sprung for the "luxury" scrub. Not that I can ever tell the difference between the basic and the bonus versions. Except they did my tires. Whoop. I had just had it washed about two weeks ago. Normally, a wash would last months but my car got caught in a veritable shit storm of the bird variety. My poor paint job. One day, she'll get a new coat. Until then, we'll just have to live with the permanent polka dots that remain from letting the turds linger a little too long. I'm a bad mommy.

While I was sitting there, waiting for the wash to be done, I thought, Fuggit. I'm going to hit happy hour. Just me and Mac. The Firehouse has a rather sedate setting and room for my computer. Guinness and discounted vegetable rolls are all this girl needs (although, fries might help today...trying not to go there; been good at the gym all week). Unfortunately, there was an influx of loud tourists, both in dress and conversation. Then the Blonde Squad rolled in and announced they needed a table to be loud at. Happily, after checking out my quiet corner, they went over to the other side of the bar. Yes, I realize happy hour is for getting rather happy and loud (been there, do that). I just need to ease into it on this occasion.

The cool thing about my perch is that I am next to a huge window where I can watch the weirdness of Venice pass by. If only they had wireless internet, I'd come here more often. FYI: I am at the place where Keanu got his muffin before the bus blew up in Speed; there is always something interesting going on here, even if it's just a creative ensemble. And, boy, do we have those by the boatload. And shirtless guys running. Some you want to thank and others you would appreciate them putting their shirts back on.

Life's a beach on this part of town. And one can only have a crap day for so long. Then you get close to the water and let the breeze kiss your skin. Everything will work out just as it's meant to. Or, at least that's what I tell myself as the waiter brings over my second pint and cheap edamame.

20 August 2008

In Your Facebook

There is something wonderfully peculiar about Facebook. I was rather a latecomer to it; I was still trying to like/master MySpace. I hesitated before joining. One more site to manage? I wasn't sure I could do it. Two MySpace pages, one on RedRoom, a website and blog, all of which were sorely neglected. I decided to dip my toe. After all, I could always abandon Facebook, too.

At first, I was taken aback by all the "Applications" I had to deal with every time someone wanted to give me a hug or a drink or good karma. Now, I know better and am a bit more choosy about which ones I add. Friends were another story, though. Those I approved willy-nilly.

It began as a virtual reunion of high school friends. I think we were still on something of a high from getting back in touch at the actual reunion. Then we bumped into those who couldn't make it to the overpriced, underwhelming bash we'd had. Suddenly, I was "talking" to people I didn't really talk to in high school. I don't mean that in a snotty way. Not at all. We just ran in different crowds, were seated on opposite ends of the classroom, or we hadn't had a class together since junior high. And, in all honesty, I so couldn't wait to get the hell out of there, I wasn't one to hang out.

Another set of "friends" came about when one lovely lass was looking for a classmate who shared my name. I explained that I didn't go to school in DC, but we could still be friends. And so we did. Another of her classmates contacted me, then another, and another and another and another. I let them all know I wasn't that Sandra, and kind of feel like I've poached her friends, who seem very nice by the way.

There are of course a few local friends I 'book with, but that's so not the point. When you live in the same area code, why bother writing on the wall when you could simply meet for dinner? Facebook is more the way to reach out and touch someone far away and bring them closer. Or at least attack them with your Zombie.

But there is the other side to it. How do you get rid of someone gracefully? Someone you didn't really expect to be your friend, just that Facebook got ahold of your Gmail and sent out invitations without you even realizing it. Or kind of an acquaintance who is a little too in love with SuperWall. Is there a way to "hide" them? I mean, I don't want to be rude or break off the virtual friendship, but there are just certain things I don't want to know or get an email notification about. It's nothing personal per se. There are just a few hairs in the salad. I'm afraid if I blocked them or something, the whole world would know. That news feed keeps nothing secret. A friend of mine wanted to tell me about her impromptu wedding first, but Facebook beat her to it by like three minutes. It's spooky.

Even with the fact it can't keep its trap shut and I know a bit more about some people than I would like, I find Facebook to be the most pleasant time suck. I can tend my virtual garden, bite some chumps, adjust karma, even slap someone with a fish and not worry about getting sued. And that's almost a perfect world for me.

19 August 2008

Mast Applause

I don't know about the rest of the chicks out there, but I hold my breath then let out a soft sigh when I hear the news that someone young, healthy and glamorous announces that they have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Somehow, we just don't expect it to happen to them. Sheryl Crow was a shocker. Christina Applegate even more so. Happily, they both have beaten it and, like Melissa before them, have gone public about it.

Stunningly, Christina Applegate opted for a double mastectomy. A radical choice when so many seem to chose a lumpectomy in order to "save" their breast, and one I applaud. It's extreme, and truly brave for someone whose body was ogled for so many years, but it was an informed choice she made, having considered her family history and genetics. Imagine the courage it must take to do something like that, and then talk about it with the world so soon after it has been done. I wouldn't think she'd even have the time to fully process it or heal physically from it. But there will be lives saved because of her openness. A few more women will realize that it's about saving your life, not your boobs. Boobs are great but, in the grand scheme of things, they shouldn't cut your life short.

I also sigh for all of the women who have got it, fought it, survived it or lived with it until they succumbed to it, and for those who have or will get the diagnosis. I had a scare myself at 23. Let me tell you, that was no fun. Being a gal with dense breasts, I freak out doing a self exam because it all feels lumpy. I leave that to my gyno. Or guy-o. I will also admit, I have my mammogram on my list of things to do, but somehow it keeps getting put off. You know how it is when you are busy. Well, it's a stupid mistake that's too easy to make. Health has to come first. It's time to put it on the books. Once again, this is a reminder that early detection saves lives. Early, being both at the stage and the age. Christina is only 36. Most don't recommend testing until 40. Perhaps we should rethink that.

I applaud the ladies who speak out on this. And not just the one's who have the cameras on them, but the ones at work or the PTA meeting, knitting group, book club, or the ones you might bump into on the street or at a reunion. You may not even know you know someone who has had it (or has it). It's a private matter. So, please give them your respect and applause if they decide to share it with you.

18 August 2008

A Natural Gas Crisis

I went to Arizona this weekend. Flew there and back in less than 48 hours. No, I'm not worried about the carbon footprint for such a short trip. I was on Southworst. I mean, west. Lovely crews, but it's such a sardine can shooting through the sky. I can't understand how they can keep narrowing the aisles. It made me want to skip the free pretzels. I didn't, of course, but I thought about it. They've also narrowed the overhead bins. My rollie has fit in lengthwise (you know, bottom in first), just fine on American and United flights, and that actually makes more room for everybody. Yea! On Southwest, it was too long (even though it's FAA regulation carry-on approved). Boo. Fortunately, I found a spot for it on the to-capacity flight. Those who boarded with C group had to check their bags. That's just nutty, and likely from people stowing their computer totes overhead. Those belong under the seat in front of you; you know, lap adjacent. My tote is rather large (not really a computer bag, but a bag with a computer bag in it, and my purse, magazines and books), and really doesn't fit all the way under the seat. I usually take a window seat and throw my faux pashmina over my legs to hide that. On Southwest, I take an aisle seat in order to make the quickest escape. I've learned that if I cross my legs over by the aisle to block the bag from view, smile and make eye contact, the imperfect fit is missed. Jedi traveller mind trick.

I do believe in ride sharing to the airport and took the shuttle in. I live so close to LAX, it's silly to bother a friend on a Friday for such a trip. I don't even mind the risk of smelly strangers or getting there god-awful early. That just gives me time to meander. Buy water. Get in my two vodka tonics, which stave off any turbulence tummy. But it was the ride that made it queasy.

I had the crankiest driver in the ricketiest van ever in the history of my travels, and that is saying something (have you ever been in an Ensenada taxi?), and I had him all to myself. While I do love my rare but chauffeured town car rides, I've not been spoiled by them. I carry my own bags happily, and will gladly get my own doors. Yet getting into the van in my platforms while carrying my totebag was a bit daunting. Narrow steps with inflexible shoes are a danger, but I made it in without ankle twisting, though, it took two tries to shut the side door. As we drove away, there was a warning bell going off. It kept binging, but the driver didn't seem bothered. "Sir," I asked, "did I shut the door properly?" "Huh?" he replied, so I repeated myself. Still didn't hear me, so I asked again. "What?" he grunted as he turned to face me. "Oh, look out," I said, as the parked car ahead approached us. He straightened out then threw the van over to the right and parked.

"Whacho problem?" he scolded. "Um, I don't have a problem, per se. I was just inquiring if that binging I keep hearing had anything to do with the door I couldn't shut." "That binging," he told me, "is for my door. I goes off about four times and then stops. I don't know why." For the record, it went off much more than four times. "And why did you tell me to look out?" he continued. "Well, because I noticed the parked car we were heading toward and thought I should point it out."

Not typically how I begin a journey. Small talk would be skipped.

There was no need for us to rush. I was picked up at 3:00 for my 5:15 flight, and I live about seven miles from the airport. We had plenty of time, yet the driver decided to drive like a bat out of hell, nearly ran three red lights, and managed to hit every bump in the road. The van itself sounded like it was on the verge of collapse. Squeaking and grinding and wheezing and creaking. I was certain that if we hit one more pothole the wheels would fall off. Surprisingly, we made it there in one piece, and without chunks. I needed a vodka tonic stat. There's something about VTs that settle my stomach better than ginger ale.

Now, let's talk about airport bars. They are always crowded. A good place to kill time and flight anxiety. But there's no place in them for one's luggage, let alone everyone's luggage. You would think that after all this time, some clever architect would say, "I know. Let's give patrons a place to stow their carry-on while they get their drink on!" But, no. I guess that's why God invented the Admiral's Club. (By the way, if you are wondering what to get me for Christmas, hint hint.) The tiny joint I decided to imbibe in was located under the expanse of an atrium. While the atrium is pretty and light and breezy-ish, it also is a lot of dead space. Space that could and should be put to use by installing little luggage lofts so drinkers could move about and not spill their airport-priced beverages. Most of the seating was taken up by Samonite and the like. Another traveller was kind enough to share her table and open chair. We chatted while we made our way through rounds one and two, then we made our way to our neighboring gates and waited for the Southwest cattle call.

In spite of the prediction of turbulence, the flight to AZ was smooth. The new playlist I created that morning made the time fly...which I guess would be literal reference in this scenario. The next thing I knew, we were touching tarmac. Hallelujah.

You know it's going to be excruciatingly hot outdoors when it's absolutely unbearable at the gate. Phoenix offered the kind of triple-digit heat that takes one's breath away. And, yes, I am aware that I was going to Arizona in flipping August, but I am able to forget how hot hot actually is being spoiled by an ocean breeze. And there was the added bonus of monsoon weather and the humidity it brings. Whatever. I was there to see my friend and she was right there to pick me up. We threw my bags into her boot and headed off to a cool venue.

Dining outside of the 310 or 212 generally makes me nervous. The restaurant we ended up at was nice. Cool and white. Calming ambiance. Well decorated. Or so I thought until I went into the vomit-inspiring lavatory. Picture dim lighting in a white room with mirrored walls replete with neon pink accent lighting. Had there been any turbulence, I would have hurled. I peed with my eyes closed so I wouldn't get dizzy, then went back to the table, ordered a big glass of wine and gave a silent-but-sincere thank you to the people responsible for central air, in spite of what it does to our ozone.

I got to meet two of my friend's friends at dinner that night. They were lovely ladies and we were soon enjoying lively, if not bawdy, conversation. It was in the midst of my story (we were sharing our most embarrassing moments involving a romantic excursion alfresco), when we caught the surprising sight of a zebra approaching us.

One has to be cautious when donning animal print. While zebra might be one of the more gentle animals in the jungle, its pattern is somewhat jarring. It should be left to those whose size is single digit. Someone didn't give this chick that memo.

The zebra and her herd were going to be seated next to us. There she stood, as we sat (obviously), with her back to our table, shaking out her blonde mane while she waited for her friends to squeeze around the table. How she was able to squeeze into her short, shiny, hint of a wild print dress was somewhat baffling. After a brief pause, I continued on with my tale as the neighboring ruckus went on, but then we suddenly stopped. The air had gone out of the room.

My friend and I looked at each other and said, "Did the zebra just fart on us?" Our entire table had to bring our napkins to our faces. With wide eyes, we followed the zebra as she took her seat. "She actually farted on us," my friend said. Not sure if we should be shocked or angered, we just sat there laughing.

It happens to all of us. It's human, I know. And I realize that if one is on a date and gassy, one must time the outbursts to the best of one's ability. But, if you find yourself in that situation, do try not to let go in the direction of other people's overpriced salads.

I was so stunned by what had occurred, and continued to linger, that I lost track of where I was in my story. Finally, the air cleared, and so did my mind. My friend continued to react whenever another aroma hit her, swearing someone else was passing gas. We were able to convince her it was just dinner being served. We decided to skip dessert, though.

The next night, it was dinner at a different place, but a familiar sight was seen. Another blonde donning zebra upon zebra (dress with matching coat), approached us. My friend and I shared a look of concern. We could do without anymore "zebra kisses", as we came to call them. Happily, Zebra Two wandered out to the patio, which was perhaps her natural habitat. My friend and I were tucked safely at the bar (quel suprise), waiting for another friend from the night before. Fortunately, the only thing that stunk that night was my pomegranate martini, which tasted like Robitussin. Back on the vodka, this time with soda (tonic has too many calories and is saved strictly for travel), and we did share dessert.

15 August 2008

Worn to a Nub

I went to bed last night at nine peeyem. That's happened maybe three times in my adult life (not counting when I am deathly ill or on another time zone), one of which was whilst camping in Joshua Tree. It was so cold and windy we just said, "Screw it. Let's go to bed."

And when I say I went to bed at nine peeyem, I don't mean I fell asleep on the sofa. That happens rather often. A disco nap or writer's snooze gone bad. No. I mean I intentionally went to my bed, got under the covers with face washed, teeth brushed and flossed, set my alarm and the timer on the TV and dozed off to A&E (there's something soothing in the voices of the crime show narrators). I was out by ten. Ten! Me, whose natural bedtime is two in the morning (which is naturally hampered by having to wake up at six-thirty). This is truly disconcerting because I'm not coming down with anything or adjusting from jetlag, or even doing something more fun. Uh-uh. I was in bed, asleep like a grandma, at ten o'clock on a Thursday night. This just isn't right.

It's times like these I think about going back on the Starbucks. It'll be a year in October that I gave up my daily venti-soy-no-foam lattes -- sometimes up to three daily. I now operate on a single mug of green tea (with heated, unsweetened soymilk spiked with a packet of Stevia). I eat organic (even down to my junk food). But I have skipped a few workouts this week, just because I was so damned tired. It occurred to me this morning that perhaps that was adding to the problem instead of offering a solution.

My morning workouts where my daily stress relievers. An hour plus of lifting weights, treadmill hill climbing, sweating and stretching, and feeling so good when it's over. I thought I was doing myself a favor by not "pushing" myself so hard, giving myself a quiet morning when I needed it, to write if I was inspired. Now I realize the disservice I've done. It's too late to go now. Another full day. The weekend is also packed. But Monday, bloody Monday, I'll be back at it. Whether I'm feeling like it or not. Because I feel like merde warmed over without that little adrenalin jolt. I have less energy without it, not more. God, that's so annoying.

If I woke up feeling refreshed and energized after last night's granny nap, I wouldn't be bitching. I've been up for an hour and a half and am still yawning. I'm zapped. Stress, I guess. Who knows. And don't you dare say it age. I put the kibosh on that. No. I'm just worn out. Nubby. Overdue for a vacation, or at least a massage. I'll put that on the to-do list: Take care of me.

14 August 2008

Kicking It Old Style

Did I mention that I got a chain letter the other day? No, not an email. That would hardly be worth talking about. I received, in the post, a real, live, actual, hard copy, Xeroxed, mailing-labelled, stuffed-in-envelope-and-stamped chain letter. This was the kind that if I mailed a single dollar to the first six people on the list I would end up with a kajillion bucks. If only. I marvelled at it for a moment. The time that person took to send out this letter. The care that went into it. The fact that they bought (or had access to) a mailing list (that actually had my home address and not my mailbox...which kind of freaked me out) and used it for a chain letter, of all things. I smiled as I walked it over to the recycling bin. Sorry. Someone is going to end up being a few bucks short of their kajillion.

There's something to be said for an old-fashioned chain letter going out in this day and age. It was sweet. Nostalgic. Beyond retro. Touchingly personal, in a creepy sort of way. It made me think back to the old days, before cell phones and emails. When getting the mail was a big deal. You never knew if an auntie had sent you a Just Because card with some cash in it. Today, it's all bills and junk. Everything is electronic. And I realized there are people out there who have never known a time without all this technology. The days when we colored in books and not on the computer. I kind of feel sorry for them.

For whatever reason, the musical bug bit me this morning. On my new fangled computer, I went to work putting together a digital playlist for my iPod. It's so easy now. I remember the art and skill it took to put together a mixed tape back in the day. Timing your turntable and testing your reflexes on the "Record" button. Oh, I was good. I made one David Bowie mix that was so sublime someone stole it before I could dupe it for friends. Of course, I never kept notes or a list for those tapes. It was an organic process. You had to feel it. I kind of think I've missed my true calling, which would be working for an alternative version of K-Tel making compilations. Instead, it's a hobby. Nothing makes me happier on the treadmill or in traffic than punk followed by disco, soul, rap, 70s glitter rock and a few newbies thrown in the mix to help me bop along my way. It makes me want to pass a note in the hall. Cut class. Make out in public. Stay out past curfew. Pimp beer. Tease my hair and whip out the liquid eyeliner. Ah, those were the days. Before you could get black nail polish just anywhere. When you could walk into a thrift shop with ten-dollars and walk out with a wardrobe. Before there was a Madonna ruining our airwaves (sure, it's kitschy now; back then, it was an audible atrocity). Now, look at the messes that are in.

Last night, I was talking with a friend I've known since junior high (for two hours; how high school is that?!?), catching up on our lives. We spoke of how young we still feel. How old our parents were at our age. How happy we are to be out of a "planned community" and to have survived our youth in one piece. Without rehab. Or criminal records. While we were having our chat, my mind wandered down memory lane to Tempo Records and Tommy's for fries (two totally different ends of the avenue, so it was a long walk...and was it Tommy's or Tommie's?). Working at Magic Mountain. Making sure you had a cool job there. White Reeboks and Season Passes. God. You couldn't pay me to go there now. But I do fondly recall the Contempo dance floor and many a weekend spent on it.

There was a time when music defined you more than anything else. Fights were had over it. Much beloved bands were abandonned when the masses took a liking to them. Poseurs. You had to back up what you wrote on your Pee-Chee. It was serious business. Then, LPs warped. Tapes tangled. CDs were replaced with the computer. It's just not the same.

I hear you can hook your turntable up to your computer and download your LPs to iTunes. The new fangled old style. I'm too lazy for that at the moment. I just buy the singles and put needle to vinyl when I want to hear the whole album. Lying on the floor with my head toward the speakers. Singing along with Ian or David. I can't believe that Beth still has my Adam and the Ants records that she borrowed to tape in the ninth grade. The whole collection. Do you know how many special orders at Tempo that took? I hope she's enjoyed them over the years. I wonder if she'll turn up on Facebook? I'd still like those back. You can't get liner notes on iTunes.

Here's the playlist I concocted this morning. I'm not going to say that this is my best. No. That honor goes to the disco dance party mix I made a few years ago. A dual CD compilation that will have your ass shakin'. Enjoy this anyway.

Hitsville Uk - The Clash
To Have and to Have Not - Billy Bragg
Sole Salvation - The English Beat
Ain't No Other Man - Christina Aguilera
Do You Wanna Hold Me? - Bow Wow Wow
Baby I'm a Star - Prince
Got to Be Real - Cheryl Lynn
God Is a DJ - P!nk
Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John
Silver - Echo & the Bunnymen
Digital - Joy Division
Brick House - The Commodores
Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin' - Journey
DJ - David Bowie
My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone
Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones
Blood Sugar Sex Magik - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Poem With No Rhyme - Mads Langer
Beautiful Child - Rufus Wainwright
(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais - The Clash
Cretin Hop - The Ramones
Los Angeles - X
Love Gets Dangerous - Billy Bragg
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
Lips Like Sugar - Echo & The Bunnymen
Hip Hop Is Dead - Nas featuring Will.I.Am
Clash City Rockers - The Clash
Any Way You Want It - Journey
Judy Is a Punk - The Ramones
Transmission - Joy Division
Me Ever Changing Moods - The Style Council
Oh What a World - Rufus Wainwright
Kite - U2
California Love - 2Pac, Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman
Devil Doll (Demo) - X
Blitzkreig Bop - The Ramones
Bend & Break - Keane
Red Hill Mining Town - U2
This Is England - The Clash
Shine - Mads Langer (admittedly, this one doesn't really fit the punk-themed mix, but it is just so damn good, I put it on everything)

13 August 2008

Overdrawn

I've always been a girl who dreamt big. After all, it's free. I like anything at a discount. I make the most of free. So, my dreams are epic. Limitless. But they do come with a bit of a cost.

While I am a dreamer, I'm not a fantasist. My dreams are reality based. I don't expect to meet an exotic (and truly handsome) prince from a little known European monarchy who will whisk me away, make me his queen and we'll live in the well-heated castle (replete with a moat) in a happily-ever-after manner. No. But I have often said I intend to be William's Wallace Simpson. Oh, come on. Stranger things have happened.

I'd like to win the lottery. But I only play the $50,000 jackpot. Better odds. Name kept out of the paper. And my real goal is to just pay off my bills. I don't need a McMansion.

The dream I have for my life is a simple one. I get to live on my own terms. Make a decent living doing what I love. Have a great guy to share it with. Sure, there are additional perks I'd indulge in, like multiple homes. But, even in my dreams, they are modest. A place in LA near the water (which I have now with rent control). Perhaps a pied-รก-terre in Manhattan. A flat in Dublin. Something quaint in Tuscany. I'd rent those out when I'm not there, of course. Like I said, reality based. Rental income is nothing to sniff at.

I don't want a big, fancy car. I love my Ghetta. She'll soon be nine. I think if I got another car it would be a Jetta or a Rabbit or a Mini. Although, the Audi turbo wagon is kind of nice. My dream wardrobe just consists of the basics. Something comfortable and right for every occasion. But I wouldn't mind having Grace Kelly's wardrobe from "Rear Window". We need an Edith Head revival. I wonder if the Gap could pull that off?

A simple life for me would truly be a dream. Funnily enough, getting to that simplicity has been a challenge. While I'm living life mostly on my own terms, there is a price to that. The stubbornness grows with time. I don't hold myself open to a "Plan B". I've invested too much in my aspirations to turn back now. I find myself mentally pacing, holding breath, gritting my teeth as I wait for an answer. What I've long ago planted and nurtured is due to finally bloom. However, I've been waiting an awfully, awfully long time for that. When one gets close to seeing something come to fruition, one's patience is spent. Overdrawn, in fact. Optimism turns into bullheaded agitation. Irritation sets it. Then a pit in one's stomach grows. Please, don't tell me we are back to square one. Not again.

These aren't failures or set backs, just par for the course in a creative field. A path that doesn't come with a map or signposts to let you know you are nearing your destination. Because, when it happens, it really does come overnight. Or, after lunch. Years and years of work culminate into a moment of success. Perhaps a mention in a trade. A blurb on the internet. A Twitter post (or five, since they are small). Until then, there are merely blips and hope and opportunities that come one's way. Blip. Blip. Blip.

So I sit in a patience deficit. Blue from holding breath. Cramped from crossing fingers. Blind from staring at the BlackBerry. Waiting for the call or email to come so I know, one way or another, what move to make next. It's not the end of the line. Not a brick wall or hurdle, just another step. Whether it's forward or back or lateral has yet to be determined. I need the BlackBerry to vibrate in order to know that. One thing is for certain, though: At the end of the day I can always count on my friends. Their love and support and patience comes in surplus.

12 August 2008

Get Real

What has the world come to when a little girl is told she is not cute enough for her country? Her voice might belong to an angel, but her face... Seriously? What a low moment. Now, granted, China isn't really known for its kindness (hello, Tibet) or its diplomacy (hello, Sudan), but isn't there something about honor in their culture? It seems that can be faked, too.

Everything is fake these days, from our teeth to our tits to memoirs and even clips on flipping YouTube. Life is CGI'd on green screen, altered by PhotoShop and spun by the press. Our way of living is in the hands of lobbyists. Nothing is real anymore. Not even the little girl singing on TV.

The news of this fakery (and, yes, I'm not using real words in this post) stopped me in my tracks this morning. It struck a nerve. Is this really what the world has come to: Perfection above all else? It makes me sad. It pisses me off. It makes a bit of sense. I mean, isn't this striving for perfection, or the illusion thereof, what's causing so much misery in the world?

It really got me wondering about why we focus so much on the outside and not the within. It's silly. Like building a castle on a faulty foundation. What's the point? It will only crack and crumble into a useless pile of naught. Yet, we seem to put our attention on polishing a facade than making sure what's underneath is in working order.

Take a look at the subprime situation. People scrambled to buy homes they couldn't afford and why? For appearances? For a deal? For a chance to say, "Look what I have!"? Sure, there is a value to owning real estate, pride in owning your home, making a wise investment for one's future. But it's moronical (fake word, but should be real) thinking to assume you have any of that if you're only paying interest without accruing equity. And look at the fall out from it. Who could have imagined how bad this would have turned out? It's very sad. It's also basic math. But we want what we want and we don't bother with what the true price might be as long as it looks good on the outside.

I carry the debt of my mistakes as well as my education. It seems no one can get through college these days without grants, loans, scholarships, or a cushion from mom and dad. If you were to work your way through college today, it would likely take you a decade or more to do so. Going into debt is the quickest way out. In my grandfather's day, debt was a disgrace. An embarrassment. Something you worked hard and went without to pay off because it wasn't really yours if you didn't own it outright. Now, debt is par for the course. A rite of passage almost. Something we lug around our entire lives. I've got nothing fabulous to show for all that red, except my three-letter degree. Credit cards were merely microloans to fill the gap between what I was paid and what life really costs. To keep me afloat while I waited for clients to come, or to pay, or for their checks to finally clear. It was what it took for me to get by, but I'm sure that's not how it looks on paper. It simply diminishes my "real" value to a bank or an employer. It says nothing of the real me.

People starve themselves to reach their form of perfection, or overeat to fill an endless hole. Overspend to make themselves feel better. Cut themselves to see if they feel at all. Take something to numb or calm or correct. But the core goes ignored. Why do the work if a prescription can make it all better? Does it though?

I wonder what would happen if we all just stopped and got real for a second. Do an interior inspection, audit our insides. What if, just for a day or a week or a minute, we all really liked ourselves just as we are? I wonder how the world would look. I know, I know. That's a little too California for you. It's a Tuesday. I tend to get philosophical on Tuesdays. Indulge me.

It just seems that so many of us would rather look good than do good or feel good. Keeping up appearances and all. Fake it 'til you make it. Chin up and best foot forward, because you only have a single chance to make a good impression.

Don't get me wrong. I clean my house before company comes. I spackle my spots and conceal my imperfections. Add blush where a natural rosy glow should be, if I had time to get proper sleep and nutrition...or the dough for a really good facial. I use deodorant and shave. Use creams that slow time. There are ways to make improvements that can be of benefit ourselves (and others), but they don't have to get in the way of being who we really are.

Some of you might be too young to remember (or, gasp, weren't even born yet), but look back to the 70s. Take a gander at the people in the films or on the musical stage. The hair, the clothes, the teeth, the boobs. Very few would have careers today. Not without a whole lot of "work". I think that's very telling of how far we haven't come. We've sort of lost sight of that simplicity, of that beauty, and perhaps we've misplaced some of our humanity, too.

A little seven year-old girl was told she was not cute enough to appear on television. Yet, her photo tells another story. I wonder what that will do to her insides after all of this is done. Will she carry that with her instead the honor given to her voice? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I doubt we will ever get the real story, though.

11 August 2008

An Affair to Dismember

So John Edwards was unfaithful. BFD. The man isn’t running for office anymore and his wife is terminal. I think we can hold off on the public flogging, don’t you? And what exactly is the big deal? He’s not a priest. He’s a politician. A male politician at that. The shocking thing should not be that he cheated, but that it was with a woman. An attractive woman. An attractive woman who wasn’t a prostitute. And one who was of age. For an affair, this is beyond vanilla. It’s not news, it’s snews.

This happens every day in America. People cheat. Usually, it’s the men who get caught. The women who do it seem to be a bit more clever about it. Perhaps men do it for ego and women do it for emotion. I don’t know. I don’t cheat. Though, I can’t say I’ve not been the dreaded “other woman”. Okay. I hear the gasps. Trust me, it’s nothing I’m proud of. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we aren’t aware of the error being made (only after the fact do all the details come to light). Or perhaps we go into it knowing the wrong we are doing, the risks and the cost. We might have our reasons, but there is never an excuse that makes it okay. I won’t talk about it any further than what’s already been mentioned because it is private. There’s no point in being honest about it because the whole thing is founded on dishonesty. What could possibly be said to make someone say, “Oh, I totally get it. It all makes sense. Thanks for shedding the light. I feel much better about it now.” See what I mean?

I’ve learned that it’s pointless to make assumptions about a situation without knowing the whole story. And the thing is, we don’t know the whole story. There’s no reason we should. It’s none of our business. Yes, we can assume the marriage vows they made, but we don’t know what agreement the Edwardses may or may not have had. None of our beeswax. If he were still running for office, yes, to a point it would be our business. In spite of my scarlet letter, I happen to think that a certain vow of chastity should come with the Oath of Office. Keep it in your trousers for 4-8 years, or keep your mistress locked in another wing. Whatever. Just don’t diddle the interns. That’s beneath the Commander in Chief. I also expect the person in the Oval Office not to be popping pills, doing lines, shooting up or falling down drunk. These are my standards. I expect them to be met. Decorum; it’s important. But John Edwards is not in public office. He is now a private citizen. He and his family should be allowed to deal with this in private, which is hard to do living in the public eye. Which we all do now, by the way, thanks to camera phones and YouTube.

You can judge all you want. It’s a human foible. But, let me ask you: Is your relationship perfect? I suppose we’d have to define “perfect” in order to answer that. Have you ever strayed? It’s okay if you want to plead the Fifth. Have I? No. When I am in a relationship, I am certifiably monogamous. Have I been cheated on? Yes. One boyfriend only kissed another girl. Big deal, but it still pissed me off. This was after he had an emotional affair with this really annoying broad, which was beyond irritating but doesn’t “technically” count, right? Oh, we were in our twenties. Drama happens. Big whoop. Another cheater taught me the difference between assuming that you are in a committed relationship because you have been seeing each other 5-6 days a week for four months straight and the loophole left open because you didn’t have the commitment conversation. Haven’t made that mistake since.

I’ve known the effects of cheating from an early age, having sat up with my crying mother when my dirtbag of a father didn’t come home. I was three. They divorced when I was five. He cheated on her, namely with the woman who would become my stepmonster, who was later surprised to find out he cheated on her. The most sympathetic thing I could think to say to her was, “Duh.” Well, at least he waited fifteen years before he got caught.

I don’t know what I would do if my (theoretical) husband ever cheated on me, but I’m pretty sure it would involve lead pipe and kneecaps...theoretically speaking, of course. Still, even with my temper and poor ability to forgive, I don’t know that it would spell the end of the relationship. People eff up all the time. Men especially. Egos can run amok. And spouses can emotionally vacate leaving the other alone in a couple. I have learned that relationships bring out the very best and very worst in people. And I know they take constant work from both sides in order to function at all. But, if you are in it for life, you have to take the good with the bad. For better or worse are in those vows. And I think they Edwardses have had their share of worse. They don’t need any more from us.

We can talk and point fingers and say, “Never me.” But, I’ve found that’s the surest way to bring Fate to your door. Perhaps we should just back away, leave them alone and pray, “May that never happen to me.” But, if it should, I really hope that you get to deal with it behind closed doors and not have the public dismember your affairs.

08 August 2008

Staycation

I really wanted to go away this weekend. Unfortunately, the budget doesn't have much room. So it's another staycation for me.

A staycation isn't so bad. I don't have to pack or squeeze my toiletries into one-ounce containers. There are no lines or delays. No chance of traveller's tummy. But there's also no change of scenery, which is something I'm beginning to crave.

I shouldn't complain. I have the luxury of living in a tourist town. The ocean is walking distance away. You'd think every day would be a vacation, but no. Work has a way of sucking the life out of you no matter where you reside. Especially if you work from your residence.

So, I think I'll buy a pair of Bermuda shorts, get a tacky t-shirt, strap on a fanny-pack and wander around my neighborhood. Take in the sights with new eyes. Ooh and ah. Ask silly questions. Take too many photos. Attempt to get lost. Sip an umbrella drink in my backyard. I'll be sure to send you a postcard.


07 August 2008

Crickets

I tend to be one who speaks her mind. It's almost like I have a congenital defect or a mutated case of Tourette's. Whatever little filter most people are born with that keeps things from going straight from brain to mouth I don't have. I say what I think and I mean what I say. That can cause more than a few awkward moments and I've become accustomed the taste of my pedicure. I lack tact. I tend to be blunt as well as sharp witted. I am carefully placed at dinner parties.

I don't always get a kick out of making people uncomfortable (unless they are absolute wankers; then I quite like it). I might want to make a point, but hurt feelings aren't part of the plan. Friends are used to my communication style. They've come to accept it as part of my charm. Which is why they grow concerned when I go silent.

I'm just too busy to put forth much of an effort these days, so now, when I'm confronted with an absolute ass, I tend to go mute. I say nothing. I simply stare at the offender and wait for the crickets to chirp. This is overwhelmingly effective over the phone. In that deafening silence, I can hear wheels turning, cheeks clenching and the stunning realization of, "Man, she thinks I'm a complete moron." Yes, I do. And the beauty of it is, I didn't have to say it. I don't have to say anything at all. Not a word. Not even bother with telepathy; the silence says it all.

I usually wait for the dunce to utter, "Hello?" or I hear their heart beating through the phone line before I speak. Sometimes the person just keeps filling that silent expanse by over-explaining. As they drone on, I simply sit there and sip my tea. Doodle a bit. It's sublime. Silence is the perfect tactic for the tactless, because I can't be accused of being the jerk by imparting my Tourettic honesty. "Well, what did she say to you?" "Uh...nothing?" Off the hook entirely. A simple change of subject and suddenly I've become the class act. Me. That is truly gobsmacking.

For someone who can easily end a conversation, relationship or career in one rapier response, keeping quiet is like donning a bulletproof vest designed by Chanel. Silence is a powerful language that I'm learning to appreciate more and more. And the sound of crickets is quickly becoming my favorite song.

06 August 2008

Me No Likey

I watch my fair share of crime related television. I grew up on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, McMillan and Wife, and Quincy. I'm not sure a three year old should have been watching murder mysteries on her own, but I was riveted. I watched nearly the whole of the Menendez trials, became an addict of CourTV, and watch all the A&E justice stuff. There's a bit of Sherlock Holmes in me. I like to figure things out. I like to figure people out even more.

I've always been struck by the victims' families, those who could go on to speak of their loved ones and say things like: "Everybody loved her. She was so nice. She never had a harsh word to say about anyone. She didn't have an enemy in the world." The entire towns of those victims would mourn. It always seemed it's the best of us that are taken. And that is truly sad.

However, it makes me feel rather safe.

See, I don't like everybody, so I never expected everybody to like me. I'm an acquired taste with a picky personality. No one will ever say, "Everybody loved Sandra." And I'm okay with that.

I'm not nice. I don't like that word. It's right up there with "lady". They are restrictive and milquetoast and make my skin crawl. They meant I had to sit still, keep my dress clean, and not run out and play. Therefore, I refuse to be nice. That's not to say that I'm mean. I am fun, polite, professional, easy-going (at times), understanding (occasionally), but I also have a temper and an extreme sense of right and wrong, and will make my feelings very clear when necessary.

Being a writer, I have a lot of words in me. Some of them are harsh. Some I save for paper, but many are said aloud. If you've ever cut me off, you've heard a few of them.

As far as enemies go, I've made more than one. I actually considered it a point of character. Very old school: You've wronged me, sir/madam, and now you must pay! Granted, I've mellowed a great deal over time. I can't really name an active acrimony, but get me to a Republican bar in Orange County and I'll whip some up.

I never wanted to be Princess Popular. If everybody loved me, how would I ever test my boundaries? I think it's okay not to like everyone or every thing. We all have our preferences, our turn-ons and turn-offs. They should be known. That certainly doesn't mean it's fine to hate what you don't like. That's simply nonsensical. But I'm fine with saying, "Me no likey," about someone or something. Especially if it's the truth.

05 August 2008

Goal!

I'm not an overly ambitious individual. But I am goal oriented. The goals tend to be personal, not things which would compete against anyone else. There is no scoreboard. No tick marks, no notches on lipstick cases or anywhere else. But there are lists. Some are physically noted, others are mental. Either way, I find them a powerful tool.

I remember years ago when I went freelance -- right at the time the economy took it's first nose-dive; it was 2000, and who knew what we were in for. Being the type who leaps then looks, I found myself without a parachute. "Man, six months ago, we would've hired anyone who knew where to put a comma," one ad guy told me when I mentioned I was looking for copy writing work. When the writing gigs I was told would come were moved to the back-burner, then taken off the cooker entirely, I took truly odd jobs, most of them free of writing. I took what business savvy I had and organized small businesses and individual offices. It was far from my goal, but filled time and came with a check.

To say I was broke was an understatement. I thought I had dropped twenty-grand from my annual income. At the end of the year, I found out I had more than cut it in half. As hard and scary as that was, it was also liberating. I would cash the weekly check from my Long Beach job at a bank near the Target. I'd walk over to the red bull's-eye and spend ten dollars on flowers as a treat to myself and my backyard. I had a lovely garden that year. And that simple act brought me a great deal of joy.

I also wrote out a list of things I really wanted: New sofa; leather coat; leather pants (remember, this was 2000 and those were a vital part of fashion); and a trip to Ireland topped the list. Outside of making it to the Emerald Isle, I achieved every goal, in cash. I had to be patient, look for deals, would only accept perfection. It was a pleasure and slight source of pride to draw a line through an item on that list. And, while I don't center my life on material goods, I learned what it was to really appreciate what I earned, the work that went into it, and how to use it wisely...more or less (don't pick on my pants).

I lived that way for two years. A very long, very hard two years. Then I landed regular gigs, steady clients and was finally paid a living rate. The simple goal of paying everything on time (rent, student loans, insurance and car payment were always on time; credit cards, nearly on time; utilities were paid on the color-coded system in that lean period...when they got to yellow, pink or red, the payment was called in), turned to more personal aspirations. Five years after writing it on the first list, I made it to Ireland. Then, I finally got a new computer (I tend to get one every eight years) and went wireless. Modern technology. And then I set about my biggest goal: Finish the novel.

I gave up two years of my life for this goal. Not intentionally. Once I started, I found I couldn't stop writing. The novel was interrupted by the Guide (that pink thing to your left). It was interrupted again when interest in an ancient script of mine was piqued and required a rewrite to get it into modern times. Then the novel was finally finished, sent out and a revision requested. That revision was interrupted when the script needed to be revamped. Then another script itched to be written. Now, I'm about to start my third script (that would make three in a year), outlining my second novel and slowly revising the first.

I'm not telling you all this as boasting. Gag. There's really nothing here to brag about. I'm merely noting how one little goal can spiral into more and more and more than you anticipated. Of course now the goal (and the big job) is getting it all out there. Baby steps are being made, but I am finally focusing on my aspirations with the intensity that I should...nearly eight years after the fact. The whole point of going freelance was to make my living as a writer. It took me a long time to finally get the nerve up to do just that. I hope you won't wait that long to reach for your goal(s). There's no point in putting it off. The excuses we can come up with (and, believe me, I had mine...namely rent and color-coded accounting), don't really add up to anything but procrastination, and that's such a waste of time.

Go on. Write the list. Take the leap. My only advice would be to pack a parachute. It's the wiser way to jump.

04 August 2008

What a Way to Start the Day

I kind of count on Sundays being nice, relaxing or at least manageable. Yesterday sort of let me down.

I got up early to start my rush of a day. Sort laundry, make tea, grab books, get gas, haul ass to the laundromat so I could get my three loads done in relative peace and quiet. What is it they say about the best laid plans?

First, there was a line at the cheap gas gas station I use. Why the world needed to fuel up at 8:30 on a Sunday morning, I have no idea. While I was waiting, I realized I had left my travel cup full of my green tea soy latte on my coffee table and had to go back to get it. I sang a chorus of F-Words on my way back. I met each and every red light on my way to the laundromat but finally saw a ray of hopeful light when I nabbed a coveted parking space. There are only six spaces in the back lot there, so, when you get one, you feel almost blessed.

In spite of the open spaces, there was a full house within. I had to place my loads of wash in different sections and even use an oversized washer to get my shizzle done. The girl using the back row moved over to let me squeeze in my whites and colors. She seemed nice and as tired as I was in that If I put a smile on my face, maybe no one will notice my eyelids are half-staff kind of way. I broke my $10 bill into a pile of quarters and went about my set up. I'm a bit methodical about my laundry. The black load was on its own, so I left the Woolite Dark on top of its machine. I took out the All Free and Clear, the Clorox 2 for the colors, the Clorox Ultra Care for the whites, Downey for all then fed the back two machines their quarters and began to dole out their soaps. After I put the bleach in the whites I heard, "No! That's my machine!" The nice girl sharing the back row with me ran over and started trying to open the machine or find a way to stop it. "Please, don't tell me you put bleach in it," she said. My stomach sank. I did. But it was the good kind. The gentle kind. Not like that really mattered. I just wanted to look on the bright side. I profusely apologized and told her I would pay for whatever I damaged (please, God, don't let it be Prada). She said it was a furry hoodie that she got in Miami to the tune of fifty bucks. I again apologized and said that I would pay for it and hoped she could get a replacement online. My heart pounded, my stomach churned. Nothing sucks more than ruined clothes. Like the time I loaned out my favorite wool cardigan and my cheap friend put it in the wash instead of taking it to the cleaners. It wasn't terribly expensive, but it wasn't replaceable either. I apologized once more, she laughed and said it was okay. Our whites were right next to each other. Easy mistake at such an early hour. She, too, thought coming in earlier would make for an easier day. We introduced each other, and I went back to doing my own laundry. The last of my bleach was used on her whites. I thought I had everything so perfectly mapped out. So not the case.

I used the in-house ATM (something I avoid truly believing they scam your account, nab your PIN and rob you when you least expect it) and took the $50 in cash over to her. She was kind enough to say, "Let's just wait and see how it turns out." It turned out fine. The gentle bleach lived up to its name. I gave her my card, just in case, and handed her a twenty. "Thanks for being so nice about this," I told her. The least I could do was buy her a round of drinks for starting off her day in such a way.

I scurried home with my freshly folded laundry and got ready for a birthday lunch, for which I still had to buy the birthday present. I knew exactly what I had wanted to get my friend: two folding chairs for the balcony of his new apartment. Cost Plus is the mecca of folding chairs. But not yesterday. August seems to be turnover month. Out with the old in preparation for the new models. The two teak chairs out front were for display only. I could pick up the boxed ones on Tuesday. With pleading eyes, I told the manager of my desperate need. He took pity on me and let me buy them. The cashier had hawk eyes and noticed one had a crack in a slat on the seat. Bugger. One chair and one gift card to go, then over to Hollywood. Ugh.

I hate going anywhere with crap parking. Granted, I hate going anywhere east of Sepulveda period, but especially where traffic and parking are both bitches. But this was for one of my dearest friends. For that, I suck it up. It was an easy drive over (shocker), but once you get to Hollywood Boulevard, there's no way to go the near speed limit, and pedestrians like to test the jaywalking laws. Tourists. One lap around two long blocks and a non-metered space opened up. Miracle! I thanked the parking gods for that gift and carried the bow-tied chair into the restaurant, on time but out of breath (I tend to hold it in traffic and parking space quests).

While I like a good burrito as much as the next person, I generally don't crave one for my first meal. And there really isn't a healthy way to eat Mexican cuisine. There's no way one can skip the chips just sitting on the table as your stomach growls with only the remnants of a green tea soy latte sitting in it. No. And then all you are left with is a carb coma. The rest of the to-do list just isn't going to get done.

I did my best to fight it, but fell asleep at six peeyem. I woke up at ten with a Damn. I wish I could be the person who can make due with a twenty minute catnap. Nope. It was after two ayem when I went to bed only to toss and turn, but somehow I woke up with my six-thirty alarm. Miracle again! I actually made it to the gym, did my hour on the treadmill and started my workday feeling like I had already accomplished something. I sat at my desk happy and hopeful. I just wanted a simple day. An easy day. Go gracefully into the new week. Then I felt the cramps. A day early. Great. Breakfast with a Midol chaser. So not the way I had wanted to start the day.

01 August 2008

Deep Breath

Inhale. Hold it. Hold it. Now release. Inhale. Deeper. Hold it. Blow it out.

In order to get through this week, I had to remind myself to breathe deep and let it go. Some people just like to make everything a bigger problem than it needs to be. It's disturbing to an extent. There are moments when you can almost feel their glee in doing this. To me, it's rather telling of how small their lives must be. Seriously. Who has time to blow everything out of proportion? I don't. I've got other things to do. Like floss or rearrange my sock drawer. So it is a colossal displeasure dealing with those personalities who haven't quite gotten that making a mountain out of a mole hill is just asinine. How they can take something so fantastically simple and twist it into a great, big, fat, irritating mess is mind-boggling. Sometimes it's a family member, a co-worker or a friend over-reacting. Then again, sometimes it's just the buffoon in front of you holding up the line. There's nothing you can do about it. Schooling them on the fact they are acting like a twat isn't going to help matters. Suggesting that they shut their traps and engage their brains won't speed things up. No. All you can do is take a deep breath, hold it, and blow it off.

Sometimes you have to do that so often it feels like you're hyperventilating, though.



Enjoy the hilarious wisdom of this clip.