31 March 2009

In Consistency

So, obviously my March NaBloPoMo was a total fail. I was hoping to pull it off. I'm one for discipline. I don't usually sign myself up for something and not follow through, no matter how painful it is to finish. I've done the Master Cleanse three times. However, life just took over here. C'est ma vie. But, I think this post will be the equivalent of what I failed to write.

It's been a while since I've taken a road trip. Fuel had been so expensive for so long that it made one question a superfluous drive across town let alone upstate. But, now that it floats around two-bucks a gallon (and when did we ever think that would be a deal?), it was time to hit the road. Two and a half weeks ago, I did just that.

I'd been planning a trip up North to visit a friend and meet her husband and son before moving in for a week to help out during one of her chemo treatments. I thought it might be a good idea to find out if her kid would totally hate me, or her hubby for that matter, before showing up to give care. I'm kind of courteous that way. Besides, I couldn't wait another month to see her.

I should probably note that I haven't seen this friend in two decades, although we have been in touch for the last year. She found me on Facebook. Since then, we have emailed and pinged and had phone dates with wine. We spent election night together (telephonically speaking), and the Inauguration, too. We have known each other since the seventh grade, growing up surrounded by the same beige stucco. We sort of picked up like it had only been a week since we talked. There are just friends that are like that. And she's one.

As I do with all long drives, I took my car to a full-serve station and had my tires, oil and fluid checked before I rolled. I am also one who is extremely diligent in taking my beloved Ghetta in for scheduled maintenance. While she may not look it, I love my car. She is awesomely reliable. So, imagine my surprise when I saw a huge plume of white smoke trailing behind her.

"That can't be from me," I told myself. It just couldn't be, so I just carried along playing the new Lily Allen on my new iPod Touch. Ah, life was good...until I saw another plume of smoke definitely trailing from my car. I had just passed the point where the 5 and the 14 split, which is uphill. Not only was my car smoking, she was losing power.

"No, effing way am I pulling over here," I said to myself as I eyed the shoulder. I was mere miles away from our hometown. It would only be poetic for me to crap out there.

I threw on my hazard lights, made my way over to the far right lane and said little prayers in between cursing the fates. I had a frozen, homemade (by my chef friend, Cookie) chicken pot pie and two packs of Guinness in a cooler in my backseat. The pot pie was for my friend, whom I'll call Joy here; it's all she's been craving. The Guinness was for me and the hubster, whom I'll call Dude, because he is a super cool dude as it turns out, and that's all I've been craving.

You know, it's shocking the amount of people who seem oblivious to what flashing hazard lights imply. Tailgating isn't going to help. Zipping around me, like I'm in the way, isn't proving a point. I'm in the slow lane with my flipping hazard lights on. SHIT'S GOING WRONG! DEAL WITH IT!!!

I made it to Lyons Avenue, the portal to my personal hell, and opted to turn right because it's downhill. My car was barely hanging on.

Now, if you are in a "planned community", like the whole of the Santa Clarita Valley is, you might expect them to plan enough to have a service station offering repairs available off the freeway, don't you think? Oh, sure, you can get gas, you can even get a boatload of Doritos from any one of the attached Food Mart/Circle K/Seven-Elevens, but good effing luck finding a grease monkey.

I continued further in to town to a gas station that had previously serviced my car (and by "previously", I mean more than fifteen years ago), only to find a 7/11 where the repair station used to be. Beyond frustrated, I parked, turned off my failing engine, Googled "Volkswagon Valencia" and dialed.

"Good afternoon, Valencia Nissan," she sang. I asked if they were also the VW dealership. "Oh, no. That closed. But I hear it might be coming back in April or May. But I think it's going to be at the Infiniti dealer. The closest VW dealership is in Palmdale." I politely told the sing-song lady voice that I was broken down in Valencia. Palmdale would not be an option. Would she know of any place in the area that might be able to look under my hood? "Oh, no." Were there any repair places on auto row. "Oh, gee, not that I know of." It was like being trapped in Fargo.

I'm not one to just sit and wait. I need to keep moving. I started my car and, miraculously, she was behaving better already. I figured it must be a hose or a belt. And doesn't white smoke mean oil? Maybe they just overfilled the oil? This was going to be an easy, quick, cheap fix. I was certain of it. Still on the phone with Nissan Fargo, I asked her again if she knew of any mechanic anywhere in Valencia. "For a Volkswagon, I think you'll have to go to Palmdale."

Do you see why I couldn't wait to move out of those beige, stucco walls?

I hung up with her and called my old pal, Nerf. I call him Nerf because he is made of Nerf. I've also known him since seventh grade (all the elementary schools poured into one middle school back then). Amazing that some people can put up with me for so long, no? Anyway, I got Nerf's voicemail, but, true to form, he called me right back and helped walk me through the possibilities. He still lives in my personal hell.

"There's a Shell station up at the top of Lyons that has a service station, and there's a Jiffy Lube near that," he told me, though, giving me the disclaimer that, since he lives in another part of town, he's not really up-to-date with that section of Stepford. I was in auto row by that point, so I turned around and headed back up the hill, catching up with Nerf as I drove. I pulled onto the side street that would take me to the Shell repair shop, and found it shuttered.

I won't list the litany of curse words Nerf had to hear.

I turned around again and went to the Jiffy Lube. Before Nerf and I hung up he said, "You know, I just Googled repair shops for you and there's a place on 9th." Then, we said it together, "German Autohaus." Praise God.

The Jiffy Lubers were really nice. I popped the hood and they showed me that my oil funnel was broken. That had to be it! I called German Autohaus and asked if they has the part. "Yes," said the accented voice. I asked how much. "Eight dollars," he said. Always the skeptic, I asked if he was sure it was only eight dollars. "It's just plastic," he told me. I told him I'd be right there.

When I explained my Ghetta's symptoms, he told me, "A broken funnel would not cause you to lose power." Can't a girl have her fantasies? He, who I will call Hero, went into his office and came back with a little computer he plugged into my car. The Ghetta found a shoulder to cry on there and spilled her guts. Hero came out shaking his head. "You have two cylinders misfiring and two sensors that are bad," he said.

I won't list the litany of curse words that went through my head.

I told him I should probably head back to Santa Monica and deal with my dealership. "Why?" he asked me. He called to verify that nothing was under warranty (my Ghetta just turned nine), so I said, "How much?"

Three hundred and thirty-eight dollars.

You can imagine the litany of curse words I swallowed.

All I wanted to know was that he could fix it that day. "Sure," he said. "Once I get the parts, it will take about two hours."

I had been pinging Joy to let her know the situation. I had been so proud of myself for having left ten minutes ahead of schedule, and was so happy that I hadn't hit any traffic...and now this major delay. She was more concerned that I would have to drive in the dark. "I may not be awake," she said, "but Dude will wait up for you." I ate my lunch, drank my water, and peed eighy-three times. It felt like hours had passed, but I wasn't watching the clock. No. I was being Zen and reading a really bad book.

Hero finally came up to me and said, "Okay, Sandra," and I lit up. Then he finished with, "We just got the parts." Fuck. Another two hours. This was cutting into precious visit time. Bummer.

I read. I texted. I emailed. I Facebooked. I Twittered. I peed some more. Finally, Hero came back out and said, "We're all set." I handed him my debit card and stared at my new iPod. Ironically, it cost as much as my car repair. [Litany of curse words redacted.]

At 4:55 PM, I hit the highway at 80 MPH. I was fortunate to miss any traffic and got to Novato at 10:20 PM. The Guinness was still cool. The pot pie pretty much frozen. Dude and I settled onto the sofa with some pints, keeping our voices down while Joy and the boy slept, and had a good laugh about my wild ride.

Some people are just going to be beautiful no matter what. Joy is one of those people. She and Sinead O'Connor can rock the no-hair look. It was so good to see her. Of course, I would have felt better about it if I hadn't just rolled out of bed. But the pitter-patter of little feet was just too irresistible to sleep through.

"You have a present for me?" Laddy asked me (yeah, that's the name I'm giving their three year-old). "I do," I said. "But, would it be okay if I brushed my teeth first?" He looked at me for a moment, then nodded. After good oral hygiene (he joined me in the teeth brushing), we went back into mom and dad's room to hang out.

Joy and Dude had given me the "Chick" car from Cars to give him. I had also brought two Beenie Babies along that my chef friend passed on to me: a dragon and a bear. Joy had told me he was into dragons. I brought the bear, too, because it was so soft I just couldn't put it down. "I was wondering if you would like to take care of this dragon," I asked Laddy. "No," he said shaking his head. His parents were mortified. I thought it was the coolest thing. He wasn't copping a 'tude, he was being honest, something I totally adore. "How about this bear? Would you or mommy like to take care of that?" I asked. "No," he said. "Not even mommy?" I inquired. "No," he said. It was all I could do not to laugh. I told him I had one more thing I thought me might like and asked him to shut his eyes and hold out his hands. I reached into my pocket and pulled out the car, and placed it into his hands. Totally matter-of-fact-ly he said, "Chick," and crawled into bed with his parents. They weren't too happy about how he had accepted his gifts, but I told them I thought it was perfect. We were bonding in our own special way.

I won't bore you with our perfect weekend. I will just say that I couldn't love or be more proud of my friend. If any husband should be cloned, it's hers. And Laddy is just too much fun. I'm in love. The cutest thing was, after his nap on Saturday, he came stumbling out all red-faced and sweaty-headed from a three year-old's sleep, and had a Beanie Baby tucked under each arm. Yeah, I melted.

I came home, three-hundred-bucks overbudget, to find that the job I was told I had through May, would end mid-April. Perfect. I looked again at my iPod. It seems every time I treat myself there's a repercussion. But, I can't look at it that way. The way I have to see it is that everything happens for the best. Sure the bill for the car repair sucked, but Hero surprised me by fixing my front end. That's a bonus. There's no way my old iPod would have lasted that trip, or an hour into it. The new iPod was not just a treat but a necessity, because there are going to be many more long drives in my future. And, while these little setbacks keep happening, I'm still moving forward. It's consistent, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

10 March 2009

Rarely Do I Repeat Mistakes

I don't repeat my errs. Really. I find it silly. Burn your hand once, you learn to keep it out of the flame. Did anyone ever buy two Epiladies? I think not. I mixed white wine and red wine once -- one time -- and never again. The whole purpose of mistakes is to learn from them, right?

Well, there's one mistake I seem to repeat over and over, year after year, and that is not entering my shizzle into QuickBooks. Muck fe.

This will be the fourth -- THE FOURTH -- year in a row that I have been less than diligent about entering my banking into QB. It is torture. I have the Amish version of the software. It won't download from the net (not like my bank will let me download year-old transactions, anyway), so I have to manually input all of my transactions. And I live on my debit card. Yeah, I'm the ass hat putting Starbucks on my ATM card. I never have cash. I have a magic wallet that turns a twenty into a one in like fifteen minutes. So everything goes on that card. And that all has to go into QuickBooks. Un-fun.

Typically, I start off the year pretty good, going from daily to weekly to monthly updating. That responsible behavior typically lasts through April or May. June, if I'm lucky. Then the rest I have to enter. But, when I sat down to do 2008, I discovered I only got to late January.

Repeat after me: I am sofa king wee todd dead.

So, I've spent the last five days entering that data. Five. I hurt all over. The pain, however, is mostly in my ass. When will I learn? Seriously, when? It has to be this year, because I can't go through this again. I can't. I won't! Tomorrow, I start on 2009. No, seriously. Otherwise, I might as well stick my hand in a fire, call an ex-boyfriend and mix red wine with white. I know better. It's time I learn that.

09 March 2009

I Suppose

I suppose this blog would be a little more exciting if I were actually doing something other than waiting. Waiting waiting waiting. That is the story of my life. I truly am a lady in waiting. Though, we could argue that the term "lady" doesn't really suit me. Whatever. You get my point.

This is good waiting, though. Happy waiting almost. Well, perhaps that's pushing it a bit. I'm waiting on a deal to come through that will officially christen my career and afford me the opportunity to afford to go out and do stuff. High on the list, as you might have noted, is to move. As I type this, next door, Boomer is cracking himself up while Clompy is slamming things shut. They say good fences make good neighbors; I vote for thicker walls. I live in a duplex. Is one soundproof wall too much to ask? Whatever. I'm waving the white flag here. I'm ready to go. Once the deal goes through. And so I wait.

After I move, or right before, I'm going to treat myself to Dublin via New York. Use that not-used ticket I bought that is nearly worthless now. I don't care. I need a vacay. One that involves a passport. Which reminds me, I've got to get that renewed. I've been waiting to do that until my hair gets to the point that I don't hate it and can tolerate looking at it for ten years. It's not quite there yet. Do you think they'd let me where a wig in that mug shot?

I suppose I could find other things to do but, honestly, I can't focus long enough to come up with anything worthwhile. All I want is that phone call or email signaling victory and a chance for us to move forward. You see, it's not just me that's waiting. Which is kind of nice. I suppose the stymied love company, too.

08 March 2009

Parody is the Sincerest Form of Comedy

Not exactly bad or terribly naughty, but maybe just a touch. Okay, it's a little crude, but totally hilarious.



By the way, if I don't actually write, is it still considered "blogging", or do I just have to post something? I didn't really read the NaBloPoMo rules and regs.

Don't worry. I'll never do another NaBloPoMo again. Promise. But I think it's like blind dates or coloring your own hair...you just have to do it once to have the experience. I'm good about learning from my mistakes. xo

07 March 2009

Cotton

While it might not be the sexiest statement, and I do adore cashmere, my favorite fabric is cotton. I am my most comfortable, my happiest self in a t-shirt and jeans. I sleep soundly on cotton jersey sheets. Would anyone dispute the comfort of a plush cotton robe? I think not. We are swaddled in it from infancy. It warms us, allows us to stay cool, keeps us cozy. It is protective and makes almost everything better.

I think friendship are made of cotton. The are soft and strong. They can shrink or stretch or fade or, if cared for properly, get better with age.

I cotton to my friends. Some are new, some are quite vintage. Some fit better than others, sure. But with them, I am my most comfortable. Even in the worst of times, I can surround myself with them and instantly feel better. They are a durable lot. As soft and gentle as they are strong. They help me to be my best. And I can just throw them in the wash to freshen them up. They are low-maintenance. And how can you not love that?

06 March 2009

I Should Be Home Now

I look around my home and see all that I want to change. Which is everything. Really. When I move from here, I think I'll have an open house. Just open up the doors and say, "Here, take it." There is not one stick of furniture I want to move with me. Nothing I own represents me or my taste. It was what I could afford at the time. And, in all this time, the only things I've "updated" were a new (and somewhat crap) sofa and a (very cheap) desk.

Some pieces came from my first apartment. I know. Now you must really feel my humiliation. Other pieces are from my co-habitation with Almost, and that was an ice age ago. My furniture is lost past its "use by" date. And it stinks.

If only I were indeed moving. Sadly, that's not on the agenda. Yet. Oh, I fantasize about it more than I do the Clooney. It's the first thing I'm going to do when I win life's lotto. Must-haves are parking (in my hood, that's a bonus) and my own washer and dryer. Because I prefer to have the option of doing laundry in the nude. I do. I think it's liberating to be able to wash *everything*. That's something you just can't get away with that at the laundromat. Then again, why would one want to? It's bad enough knowing that you are in proximity to the worn smalls of strangers while you are folding your clean clothes. And how the hell did I get on this tangent? Jeebus. I need some Purell.

A fresh coat of paint would help a great deal here. But that would entail moving furniture, laying drop cloths and a bunch of prep work. I just don't have it in me. Isn't that pathetic? But I don't. I'm just over this joint. I don't want to live at an intersection anymore...and that statement goes a lot further than my address. It's time to put it out there: I want a new home. A fabulous new home where I can safely park my car and won't have to worry about street cleaning days. Where I can wash *all* my clothes and not have to deal with the unmentionables of others. It's time for me to come home and feel at home again.

05 March 2009

Ping Pong

So, I've been driving my friends (including you) nuts about my whole iPod-iPhone-BlackBerry-which-should-I-get dramalama. Nothing, I repeat, nothing should be this difficult. It never takes me this long to make a flipping decision on anything, let alone something so banal. Nor do I go back and forth on a matter like I have with this. One day, I'm certain I'm going iPhone...the next, there's no way I could part with BlackBerry. I guess I can be a little bit of a gadget geek. I appreciate things that make my life easier. And these are things I actually don't want to face life without. After a great deal of thought, endless Facebook threads and a bit more math, I re-decided to get an iPod Touch and to stay with BlackBerry. I know. I'm sure you're thrilled by this news. And aren't you glad I signed up for Nablopomo? Sheesh.

The thing is, BlackBerry may not be as sexy and clever as an iPhone, but when you are on the phone as much as I can be, and rely on email as much as I do, BB can't be beat. Not to mention the total area FAIL of the provider Apple forces us to use to have an iPhone, which so overcharges for its iffy coverage. But the absolute final factor was when I found out that Entravision pulled the Indie 103.1 app that some Indie fans made to allow iPhones to stream the now online-only station live and in your car. (Entravision claims they are going to put one of their own up "soon", and we all know that "soon" in corporate language means, "don't hold your breath"). With that, there really wasn't a point of me buying out my T-Mobile contract to switch carriers. Yeah, LA radio is that bad now that Indie is off the airwaves.

So, today, I bought an iPod Touch. I am both excited and stupefied by the purchase. I'm calling it an early birthday present instead of dumb. I could've saved the Franklin and got a Nano, but I went big. After all, the Touch can pick up Indie via WiFi in my house, which means good morning radio again. And I can download podcasts for the car. Yes, LA radio really is that bad now. Plus, I'm going to be making a few road trips in the next few months. Seven-hour drives totally require a spectacular soundtrack. And I know Mini just doesn't have it in her. Bless her tarnished silver heart.

The other reason I went this was was the fact that I do love my BlackBerry. Yes, it's totally Amish. I moan that it doesn't have a camera. I'm frustrated that it can't download the Facebook app, and I can't delete the fricken icon for it. But one upside it does have is that it's made of Nerf. Seriously. It has to be because I drop that baby about once a week, and it just keeps on ticking. How can you not love that? But my favorite thing about BB is the ping.

BlackBerry has its own IM program just for BB users, but we don't IM, we ping. I still have a fair share of friends who are BB loyalists. We ping and ping and ping until one of us gets ponged. So, it's completely worth stay with a geriatric BlackBerry to keep pinging the ones I love. At the end of the day, and after all the back and forth, I want that connection with my nearest and dearest. Especially those who are far away.

04 March 2009

25 Things

Oh, dear God, no. I am not going to repeat the 25 Things meme here. No. Instead, I'm going to share a video post via my friend, AB, via Justin Plus One about 25 things to hate about Facebook. Thus, I'm totally ripping off two great bloggers, one clever guy and his friends/crew for this post. I officially suck. And I'm okay with that.

Trust me, this month will get better. As soon as I'm done with my taxes. Which should be in another week or two, or my friend/CPA will no longer be my friend or CPA. Enjoy.


03 March 2009

Blurts

I get the most random things blurted to me by people I hardly know. This has been going on since I was a little girl. I would sit there as calmly as I could as marital woes were told to me. No, I'm not kidding. I'd put on my highest level of maturity, which, at 3 years old, was simply crossing my legs. I'd gently pat the hand of the confessor, then lend some really sage words, like, "I'll get you a Kleenex."

I mean, my friends pretty much tell me everything. I am a TMI-free zone. But, you expect that from friends. Even friends of friends...especially if there's wine involved. It's those that I only know in passing that slay me.

A parking garage attendant, whom I had only "known" for a few weeks, and a few days per week at that, told me one morning about his mother dying when he was a teenager, what she said to him before she died (a little too personal to repeat), and how he hoped she would be proud of him. It was an achingly dear confession. I was a touched that he felt he could spill it to me. He wasn't a terribly talkative man with his broken English. Prior to that, we merely said hello or good morning, noted how hot it was already for that early in the day, or how long I would be staying at my clients' so he would know where best to move my car. That day, I was late for a meeting, but stood there for the ten minutes it took him to tell me his tale. It would be impossible (and slightly inhuman) to walk away from something like that. When he was done, he looked as though he had lifted a huge weight from his shoulders. We smiled and parted. We went back to our friendly hellos and weather discussions after that, but now as better friends.

There was the mean-girl friend of a friend whom, while slightly drunk at my friend's sister's baby shower, admitted to me that she had never had an orgasm. Ever. Which so explained her sour mood. I put my arm around her and suggested that she spend some quality alone time figuring it out. She was much nicer to me after that.

A colleague of mine, whom I just recently met, told me within five minutes of meeting him that his newborn son was, "already hung like a 5 year old!" I know, right? We are going to work so well together! And can you imagine the inappropriate tangents we'll take during meetings? Feel bad for the other people at the table.

My friend's virgin groom came up to me three times at the reception to tell me how much he was looking forward to the honeymoon. No, really, he just couldn't wait. Seriously, just a few more minutes and they could leave. Poor bastard got himself so worked up, he couldn't perform at all that night. He didn't tell me that, though. She did.

Today, though, kind of took the gold in the random Olympics. I made a quick run to Gelson's for some Liquid Plumr and vegetarian sushi and had one of my regular cashiers. I've been going to this grocer for nearly 15 years, and have "known" this particular guy for at least 3 if not 5. We always do the friendly chitchat. Roll our eyes at the annoying person in front of me. Talk about the importance of a good reusable bag. But today, he gave me this random blurt: "You know that button you push on your gear shift to move it from gear to gear? Well, mine sticks. I have to hit it the top of the handle to get it to pop out again. What do you think that's about?"

Dude, I have no idea.

02 March 2009

Daily Grind

I always love it when I find another cherry to pop.

Believe it or not, I've never participated in a NaBloPoMo (which is blogger geek for National Blog Posting Month). That means, I've vowed to post every day for the month of March. Yeah. You're right. We'll just see how that goes. I mean, could they pick a longer month? What's wrong with February, people? But fine. I'm up to the challenge. I think.

The theme (which is optional) for the month is "giving up". As in Lent. And since I've already given up U2, I thought this was fated. So, here I am, posting. Every day. Giving up the ability to flake out on my own blog. Sigh.

01 March 2009

The Day I Fell Out of Love With Bono

I am a huge U2 fan. I think they are one of the best bands in the world. And, yeah, they are everywhere. And, yeah, they've lost street cred over the years. Whatever. I don't care. I was never the kind of girl to hate a band she loved once they went mainstream. I never saw the sense in that (I preferred to turn my ire to the Johnny-come-lately "fans" who wrecked the scene).

The closest thing I've ever come to a religious experience was at a U2 concert. Really. It was during the Joshua Tree tour. The show was at the LA Sports Arena, which is a smaller venue (smaller than The Forum and tiny by Staples Center standards). Lone Justice opened (j'adore Maria McKee) and then the Dublin lads took the stage. The entire arena was on their feet. We held hands, swayed to the music and sang every word to every song. It was unlike any show I had ever seen. I wasn't just a witness to it, though. I was part of it. We all were. It was beyond kumbaya. As their shows have gotten bigger and bigger, and more fashionable to attend, I've missed that unity. It's still there, but occasionally interrupted by someone who doesn't get it. You don't ever sit down and you do sing along, people. I always get a little pissed when I see folks like that at their shows. They've taken away a ticket from someone who would actually enjoy the concert. U2 is a big band meant to play to intimate audiences. But, global domination requires stadium-sized crowds. So, I have no choice but to suck up the triple-digit ticket price to get my Bono on.

But yesterday, that all changed.

Yesterday, I got an email from U2.com. Apparently, I am a member. I don't recall signing up, but suspect I did after their last tour when I was still on that U2 high. I did the same after the NIN concert. I know. I'm a total nerd sometimes. Anyway, U2 has relaunched the site and asked me to sign up again. There was something about a free album download mentioned in the email. How very "The Slip" and "In Rainbows" of them, I thought. So, I clicked the link to sign up and then realized that the "subscription" they were talking about cost FIFTY DOLLARS!!!

WHAT. THE. FECK?!?

The biggest, richest band in the futhermucking world is CHARGING their fans for a website subscription? It's time to put down the Guinness, lads. Seriously. You are way too high.

Now, this fee isn't going to charity. That would be different. I double-checked to see if it was going to the ONE or (Red) foundations, but I saw nothing alluding to that. Oh, you get a remixed, remastered download. OF SONGS I ALREADY HAVE! Everything else they offer, I get for free on NIN.com (and they are uploading awesome videos from the Australia shows...at no cost to you).

I sat there with my mouth hanging open. With the state of the world economy, this band -- this mega corporation -- wants to charge its fans? Jaysus. Well, they lost a fan in that moment. My love and respect for U2 wilted. Shriveled to the point that I have no interest in their new release or catching them on tour. Who needs it? If it's not about the art, and it's not about those who appreciate you, I guess it just comes down to the money, honey.

So disappointed. Bono, you really let your woman down.