Monday, June 27, 2005

Kind of Funny, Kind of Sad

Terry McMillan -- whose celebrated romance and subsequent marriage to a man 23 years her junior became the subject of her fictionalized best-seller "How Stella Got Her Groove Back" -- actually got her groove back with a man who now says he's gay.

Oh, yes. Read the story here.

I feel for her, but come on. How amazing is that? (I won't say ironic, although I am quite sure that phrase is being bandied about.) And you can bet your life her next book is going to be something about the brothas on the Down Low. Mm-hmm.

Getting My Groove Back

As for me, I am still sick and worn out. I am sending Viva back to preschool tomorrow and I'm just going to ignore all the phlegm and act like I'm better. What else can I do? I've been taking medicines, trying to take it easy, and plying Viva with whatever I can get into her (and keep into her -- she has this irritating habit of either spitting medicine out or, even better, throwing it up). It helped that Sweet Willie took Viva Night Duty for a few days so I could get some rest. Ain't he a daisy? Viva is getting better, but I feel like I am in some sort of sickness holding pattern. Thoroughly sick of it.

Ha! No pun intended in that last line! Whee, these are the jokes today, folks. Aren't you scared for me?

Whizzing to Number One!

Despite Viva's sickness, she's been a potty training powerhouse. For most of last week, we were averaging one wet diaper a day. She occasionally poops in her Pull-Up* (maybe once a week), but for the most part, she is really good about telling me she has to get to the bathroom. Ironically, she is better about telling me when we are out in public and she has to pee -- I guess at home she gets too caught up in what she's doing and doesn't want to take a break, thus the accidents. But she is also starting to stay dry all night, which is HUGE. HUGE!

My friend M is grossed out by the idea of potty training, particularly the poop aspect of it. I can't imagine why he would feel that way, when it is the most glamorous part of my job. In truth, it is actually not that pleasant to sit next to someone as they plop one out, and to behave as if what they have just done is the Most Amazing Thing in the History of the World. Indeed, more than once I have lit a stick of incense after one of these sessions and congratulated myself on my superlative acting skills.

* Please note that when I Googled "pull-up pamper" it led me to many links to that Fabolous song, "Not Give a Fuck." How darling! Here's a taste:

When I pull up like the pamper brand,
Those in the lambo slants,
With a madame from france,
With a ass so big,
You couldn’t hide it in hammer pants...

I don't make this stuff up. My talents lie in other drawing, which I've been doing a lot of lately. More on this in my next post. Toodles!

Friday, June 24, 2005

May cause problems sleeping, headaches, or stomach upset

A sprinkling of miscellany today, as I am still mired in the depths of phlegm and my energy level is -2.

With a Woof Woof Here…

Took Viva to the pet store the other day, where we saw the latest in designer dogs, a Puggle pup. A puggle, in case you are interested, is a pug-beagle cross. Here’s a pic:

They’re kind of cute dogs, albeit controversial. It is kind of ridiculous to pay $1,000 for what is, in essence, a mutt. But then, I’ve always been a big fan of going down to the pound or even, God forbid, picking out a puppy from a neighbor’s litter. I'm not all that picky.

And a Woof Woof There…

Speaking of dogs, the mom of the 12-year-old who got killed by the family pit bulls has been arrested.

And all I can say is: what took them so long?

Good Day, Sunshine

In other news, happy birthday to my dear friend, Coolia! To commemorate your birthday in a special special way, I began menstruating this morning. (The rest of you will think it’s gross, but Coolia will totally love that I said that.)

Bop The Man, Part II

Pursuant to my rant yesterday: turns out that despite having paid into this prescription plan for six months, Sweet William’s employer never included us on the roster, so there was no way for either the prescription company or the pharmacist to know that we were covered. Nice.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, "Hey! That Mama Blah Blah hasn't blogged in a while. She must be up to something! Hijinks! Shenanigans! Something crazy!"

What is the matter with you?

Fight the Power, Bop the Man

Dude! What is it about The Man? Why he always tryin' to keep me down? Witness:

We lost the Best Health Insurance Ever when Sweet Willie changed jobs a year-and-a-half ago. In fact, the health insurance was so great that they Cobra'd us without charge for an additional year, meaning we didn't have to pay any health insurance premiums at all for all of 2004. So , okay, we led a pretty charmed life, with one insurance card that covered health, dental, vision, and prescription plans. No co-pays. I'm serious, we did not pay a dime for any expenses incurred relating to my pregnancy and delivery of Viva (and believe me, they would have been hefty, what with my ER visits, extra ultrasounds, and all that other stuff).

It was sweet. Now we are in the muck with everyone else. I can't figure out for the life of me how we are supposed to manage all this crap. I finally figured out the dental stuff and now I am actually trying to fill a prescription from my groinocologist (props to Archie Bunker for that fabulous phrase). I've changed birth control methods, if you must know. So I took the prescription to Sav-On Drugs yesterday and the pharmacist on duty was baffled by my insurance card.

"I don't know what to do with this," she said. "It doesn't say anything on here about your co-pay."

"Hmm," I said, brightly. "Well, let me call them and find out what is going on." And then Viva and I went merrily on our way. Well, perhaps not merrily, since we are both hacking and wheezing to beat the band, but that's another story. It involves phlegm, and I don't want to revisit that at this time.

I called Sweet Willie at work to get to the bottom of this. Now, we did receive a packet of information about all our health insurance options, and I read it and filled everything out and gave stuff back to SW to hand it to Human Resources and I thought at one point we had all that stuff on the no-man's land that is our dresser. And yet, it is nowhere to be found. I didn't file it anywhere (which, if you know me, is very odd indeed, because I am completely insane about clutter). So we are flying blind with a lot of this, and for some reason, the Human Resources person won't give SW another packet.

I have to say, I really think this Human Resources person must be some kind of sadist, because now every time we have a question, SW has to go in and ask about it, which must be kind of annoying for the HR person, unless the HR person has some huge crush on my husband, in which case this might all make some sort of sense. But regardless, I don't want the HR person where my husband works to think that he (or I, or both of us) is (are) an idiot(s). Because we actually are both reasonably intelligent people, even though we both graduated from small liberal arts colleges. And Sweet W even has a law degree. They don't just hand those out to anyone.

So I called him at work to figure all this out, and he sighed and said he would talk to HR. And then he called me later and gave me the 911. And get this: our health insurance and our drug prescriptions are two totally separate entities, handled by two totally separate companies. This is a first for me. So Sweet W said all I need is the name of the company and his Social Security number (which I won't post here, even though I trust you all implicitly).

I called the pharmacy back and gave them this information, and the pharmacist said, "What's the group number?" I started to laugh, and so did she, and I said, "You know I don't know that, right?" And she said, "Don't you have the card?" And I said, "No, because that would be too easy." And then I said, "Okay, you know I have to call my husband again and call you back," and she said fine and I hung up and stuck a fork in my eye.

On to Day Two of this ridiculous saga! Sweet Willie goes to work, gets me the group number, calls and leaves it on the voicemail, and then calls me a little while later to tell me the group number he gave me is wrong, so he's bringing the information home with him. In the meantime, the pharmacist has called and left me a message saying they can't fill my precription until I call her back with more info. So I eventually call back (by the way, Viva and I are both sick, so I am not quite on top of things) and the pharmacist on call says she can't find my prescription, but she'll ask the other pharmacist when she gets back from lunch (this is at 3 o'clock, by the way).

Meanwhile, I go online to get duplicate prescription cards mailed to us, as advised by the HR person where Sweet Willie works. And here, my friends, is where I gave up. Let me just cut and paste here what I sent to Sweet Willie via e-mail:

That Website is the most useless piece of crap I have ever come across. At every stage it asks for your member # (which is supposedly your Soc Sec #),and then it tells me that they can't process it with that #. So I look on the site for a phone # to call and it tells me I can't get the specific customer service # for my area without my member #. I found an automated 1-800 # to call and the first thing it asks is for my member #. My head is about to explode from the sheer idiocy of it all. Even the section of the site where I can request membership cards (so I can find out what my member # is)asks me for my damn member #!!!!!

This is totally ridic.

P.S. I sent them a scathing e-mail telling them how horrible their site was and that they need to send me my damn member #. They sent me a lovely e-mail back saying I can expect a reply within 24 hours. I'm glad I didn't just have surgery or something which would require scads of pain medication. I would probably be eating my own head by now.

I think the healthcare system in this country could stand improvement. It's just a birth control prescription. Jesus!

Gratuitous Viva Conversations, or Much Ado about Cuteness

Viva (muttering sleepily): Something something pee pee and poo poo.

Mama Blah: Did you already go, or you need to go?

Viva: Yup.

The Downside to Being a "Stay-at-Home" Mom, or a Simple Equation

Eating three meals a day at home = doing dishes/cleaning up the kitchen three times a day. This is no good. No good, I say!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Michael Jackson: It’s a Rap!

Since we were away, I am behind on my writing, and I promised myself today I was going to devote a big chunk of time to it. So this blog entry is a real quickie, because I couldn’t resist.

No. 1 on David Letterman's Top 10 list of "Things Overheard During the Michael Jackson Verdict" last night: "Another case of a white guy getting preferential treatment."

Michael Jackson’s Website groups his not guilty verdict with such historic events as "Martin Luther King is born," "The Berlin Wall falls," and "Nelson Mandela is freed." NOTE: the site keeps crashing, no doubt from the sheer insane volume of traffic it’s getting today.

And if you really want to show your support for Michael, click here to buy a T-shirt.

Personally, I have to agree with the juror who said Michael may not be guilty of the crimes he is currently charged with (or at least the prosecution didn't make the case that he was), but I don't think he is altogether innocent.

Whatever. Thank God for the end of this particular media spectacle. Isn't there a war going on somewhere? And what's going on with the economy?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Welcome to My Nightmare

I had a horrible dream which resulted in me waking up this morning at 3:45 in the ayem. I dreamed that I discovered Sweet Willie was cheating on me with a friend of ours, and that this had been going on for some time. In the dream, I was screaming and crying and hitting him and then I told him I wanted to break up. [Note that even in my subconscious, I can't use the "d" word.] He said, "Yeah, I figured as much. God, that's gonna cost us 400 bucks an hour."

Naturally, this made me more pissed off, since he seemed to be most worried about how much it was going to cost, and much less worried about the break-up of our happy little family unit.

I woke up completely cramped up from the tension, and had to roll over gingerly and sit up quite slowly. And I haven't been back to bed since.

Now, in all fairness, I know that Sweet Willie would never do that to me. He is, after all, Sweet Willie -- the same fellow who went out and brought me Haagen Dazs yesterday for no apparent reason. We love each other and are pretty happy together most of the time. He told me that my nightmare was groundless and ridiculous.

Weird way to start the day. But cinnamon toast and Swiss Chocolate coffee make it better.

Worst Parent of the Year Award

...does not go to me. Not this year, anyway. No, this year, I nominate Maureen Faibish, the mother of the 12-year-old kid who was killed in his own home by their family pets. She knew the dogs were acting aggressive, so she locked the kid in the basement to protect him, and went off to run errands. What the fuck??? She should be in jail for child endangerment. Why is she not in jail?

I Think We're Alone Now...

I missed the Los Angeles GLBT Pride Festival (also known as the Gay Pride Parade, featuring Deborah "Not Debbie" Gibson and Tiffany) yesterday, but drove past the Tomkat Theatre this morning in hopes of finding an appropriate movie title. One side of the marquee announced "Lust Counseling" was playing, while the other was blocked by an overgrown tree. Hello? How can I know what gay porn is playing if you don't trim the trees? Dude!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Shake, Rattle and Roll

This morning, we were in a little family restaurant in fiendishly hot Rancho Mirage, California. We had just finished breakfast and were about to get on the road to drive back to L.A. Sweet Willie had gone out to the car to grab some ones to tip the waitress, while Viva and I finished up orange juice and coffee, respectively. All of a sudden, the floor started rumbling. Since I am an East Coast urban gal, my first thought was, "That's weird, there's no subway here," followed immediately by, "Oh, crap, it's an earthquake." I grabbed Viva and looked around to gauge whether I should run to the doorway or under the table.

I could hear things falling and crashing in the kitchen. Most people were pretty calm; one woman had crawled under the table in her booth. The only things I was worried about were (a) Sweet Willie was outside, and I was hoping nothing fell on him; and (b) the ceiling fan was almost directly above our table and we may have been in danger of being beheaded if the quake went on for very long.

Thankfully, we came out of it none the worse for wear. You can read the "news" about it here.

Nice end to our little mini-vacation, no?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Gone Fishin'

It will be quiet here at Chez Blah Blah for a few days. Tomorrow, we are leaving for a three-day junket in Palm Springs. Sweet Willie has a work conference, so since we have a free hotel stay, we are lugging our (rapidly growing, increasingly heavy) Viva along to enjoy the luxury resort and spa. I picture her lying back on a chaise by the pool, drinking a lovely frosty drink with a paper umbrella sticking out of it. And then later, enjoying a seaweed wrap after her facial, followed by a Swedish massage. Oh, wait, that's me.

HA! As if. I will be gamely shepherding Viva from the pool to the zoo to the children's museum and back again, like the selfless, kick-ass momma I am.

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. - George Burns

Oh, where to start? I have not mentioned this most recent family issue because I try to respect the privacy of my family members. However, they provide some of my best material, and there is a situation going on with my grandmother, mother, and sister that has been gnawing at me like a tireless giant rodent for weeks. It has, unfortunately, brought up a lot of stuff that I thought I had buried quite conveniently and deeply in a far corner of my psyche. Apparently, repression is not the happy catch-all solution I have been brought up to believe it is.

At the crux of the issue is this: my family tends to treat me differently than they treat my sister. My theory is that this is it is part of our family culture to do things the hard way. My sister seems to love to choose the hard way, while I have no patience with this and generally say so, despite all the aforementioned repression. One example of this is that my grandmother had the expectation that we would each pack up all our Christmas gifts and come and stay at her house with our kids and husbands on Christmas Eve. This is so we can all wake up together as one big happy family on Christmas Day and share in the joy of the kids opening presents, stockings, etc. To my sister, this is a necessary part of Christmas. To me, it is a huge pain in the ass. I would rather spend Christmas morning in my own home, with my little family, where it takes maybe 30-45 minutes to open our gifts and play with everything in a leisurely fashion, rather than having it be a three-hour extravaganza, at the end of which the kids are exhausted and cranky and are still expected to sit quietly at the grown-up table for an elaborate Christmas brunch.

Oy, I am getting off track. I can't even begin to explain how they push my buttons.

At any rate, I am irate because my grandmother wants to buy a house for her, my mom, and my sister, brother-in-law and their kids to all live in together. By no means do I want the same thing for myself. There is no way that I could live peaceably with my mother and grandmother -- I would be alternately spitting nails and swallowing my tongue, and aside from being a dandy visual, it's not how I want to live my life.

I'm just pissed off that my sister continuously gets help (she gets free childcare from her in-laws and pays them about one-quarter of what we pay in rent, to live in a 2 bedroom house) and no one gives me shit (we have paid for childcare since Viva was 4 months old, and we pay market-value L.A. rent).* There, I said it.

*Also, when my sister had her kids, my mom helped her for the first 3 weeks or so of each kid's life. I was on my own. My mom happened to be in L.A. when Viva was born, so she saw her on the first day of her life. But after that? Despite the fact that she was staying at my sister's, 5 minutes away, for the next several days, she left L.A. and drove home without coming back to the hospital, without coming to my apartment, and damn, I don't even remember getting a phone call. Am I bitter? You better fucking believe it.

I deliberately missed my mom's birthday a couple of weeks ago, and my grandma's birthday is tomorrow. Am I being petty? You tell me. I need a break.

Added to that, Sweet Willie's dad, Not-So-Sweet-Bill, called yesterday to ask to borrow $6,000. It is so outrageous that all I can do is laugh. This is the man who did not attend his daughter's wedding because he did not want to have to contribute financially. He didn't tell her he wasn't coming, either. On the day of, he just did not show up. So Sweet William (who was in high school then) had to give the Diva away. Can you believe that shit?

And there is even more family stuff coming out of Texas (Sweet Willie's mom's side) that I can't get into here. Sweet Jesus, I need a damn vacation.

On a Lighter Note

Must end here, it's almost time to wake Viva up, struggle her into her tutu, and take her to ballet, where she will leap about with enthusiasm and turn my stormclouds into sunshine.

Monday, June 06, 2005

One Hell of a Commute

Hold on to your hats, kiddies, because I have a big announcement to make.


Wait, you say, wait! How can this be? Isn't home ownership well out of the range of most first-time, middle-class home-buyers in Los Angeles? In fact, doesn't the current issue of Money state, "In Los Angeles... just 5% of homes sell at prices affordable to a median-income local family"?

Well, yes. We are in escrow on a residence in Arizona, which we plan to rent out. And then sell in a few years. And hopefully make a profit. And eventually, buy our own damn house to live in here in beautiful freak-show Los Angeles.

I still can't believe it. Sweet Willie and the Diva (his sis) and Big Mike (Diva's husbin) and I are indulging in real estate speculation.* Who'd a thunk it?

* "A tongue in cheek definition of speculation is: when I invest in real estate in a rising market, it’s to safeguard my financial well-being and provide for my retirement and my family. When someone else does it, it’s speculation." (Source: "The Role of Speculation in Real Estate Cycles," Stephen Malpezzi and Susan M. Wachter, paper prepared for the July 2002 joint meeting of the American Real Estate and Urban Economics Association and the Asian Real Estate Society.)

Okay, so I'm all cool with the quotes and citations, so I bet you think I'm gonna be all articulate and have something else to say about all this. Well, I don't. What are you, new?

Friday, June 03, 2005

Blah Blah Los Angeles

Favorite Movie Titles on the Marquee at the Tomkat Theater, West Hollywood:

  • How the West Was Hung
  • A Rim with a View
  • Dawson's Crack
  • I Know Who You Blew Last Summer
  • Drill Bill
I think it goes without saying, but for those of you who don't know the L.A. area all that well, the Tomkat is a gay porn theater, conveniently located on Santa Monica Blvd., mere blocks from my local Whole Foods. So on my way to pick up all kinds of, well, whole foods, I always make a point of checking out the movie titles because, well, it is damn funny, is all. I share with you out of the goodness of my heart.

Love Notes. And Not.

I love Los Angeles. It reinvents itself every two days. - Billy Connolly

Los Angeles is a microcosm of the United States. If L.A. falls, the country falls. - Ice T

I'd move to Los Angeles if New Zealand and Australia were swallowed up by a tidal wave, if there was a bubonic plague in England and if the continent of Africa disappeared from some Martian attack. - Russell Crowe

I love Los Angeles. I love Hollywood. They're beautiful. Everybody's plastic, but I love plastic. I want to be plastic. - Andy Warhol

Until the Sun Comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard

I was reading this book recently, and parts of it are set in Los Angeles, and at one point, the protagonist is thinking about how much she loves Los Angeles and why. And I realize I'm not going to change anybody's mind about it if they already have a strong opinion, but damn, I love living here. I am a Bostonian by birth and spent the first quarter-century of my life there. Boston has its good points, but you could not pay me enough money to move back there.

Why do I love it here so much?

For one thing, for the endless, and soooo random, parade of freaks I come across in my day-to-day meanderings. I know that non-Angelenos inevitably cite all the Beautiful People running about Los Angeles and how annoying that is; every Starbucks/Target/gas station is filled with model/actress wannabes, etc. Also, everyone, and I mean everyone, is working on a script. Fine, I'll grant you that, but that doesn't really interest me, due to the freak show previously mentioned. The whole Beautiful People thing is just mildly amusing to me, something about which I roll my eyes and say fondly, "Oh, L.A.," as if the city is just a mischievous pet of some sort.

As I say, I love the assortment of freaks:

  • The Lampshade Lady of Los Feliz, who generally wears a floor-length green dress in all kinds of weather, with a piece of cloth wrapping a lampshade to her head;
  • The Walking Man of Silverlake, with skin like scrapple, who speed-walks several miles each day, in shorts and tennis shoes, reading a newspaper and rarely looking up;
  • The Turbaned Homeless Lady of Hollywood, who greeted us affectionately with, "Hello, lovely family!" as we were taking a Sunday morning stroll through the Hollywood Media District (aka The Abandoned-on-Weekends-Post-Production Corridor);
  • The guy I've seen more than once at bus stops holding a rubber chicken. 'Nuff said;
  • Francine of the long flowing white hair, who has her own public access show, but who also travels the streets of Hollywood in a wheelchair...and sometimes rides her bicycle. Why does she need a wheelchair if she can ride a bicycle? You tell me.
  • Also, more pissed-off clowns, in a variety of settings, than one person should see in a lifetime. You don't want to mess with a pissed-off clown.
Then, there's also the weather. I was born in the summer and have never been a cold-weather person. I hate the cold. I hate the snow. I do love big snuggly sweaters and scarves and stuff like that, but I would much rather be slumming along in my flip-flops in January. I love being able to go to the beach when you'd least expect it, like on Valentine's Day, when there's a freak* heatwave and it's 85 degrees.

* There's that word again. I am a freak for the word "freak"! Can't get enough of it. It's like heroin to me.

I also love (here it comes, that horrible buzzword) the diversity of Los Angeles. I love the sheer variety of people you run into here. It is not a homegeneous place by any means. Coming from a place where life was difficult if you could not be pigeonholed ethnically, I love the fact that most people here could really give less than a shit if I am not of the same ethnic or racial background they are. Vive le difference! is what they'd say if they all spoke French. (Of course, I don't speak French, so I'm quite sure that phrase is supposed to have some accent or other. Perdon.)

And I love the friendliness and hopefulness of Los Angeles, the sense that anything could happen here. Maybe other folks don't get that vibe, but those folks can write their own damn blog.

I leave you with a scene from L.A. Story:

Sara: Roland thinks L.A. is a place for the brain-dead. He says, if you turned off the sprinklers, it would turn into a desert. But I think - I don't know, it's not what I expected. It's a place where they've taken a desert and turned it into their dreams. I've seen a lot of L.A. and I think it's also a place of secrets: secret houses, secret lives, secret pleasures. And no one is looking to the outside for verification that what they're doing is all right. So what do you say, Roland?

Roland: I still say it's a place for the brain-dead.