Monday, February 27, 2006

Welcome to Swellsville

Awards Show Post-Mortem

After all the running around to prepare -- to find the dress/the clutch/the wrap/the shoes/the jewels, get my nails and hair did, get my face exfoliated and excavated* -- it was a relief to finally be in the car on the way to the awards show. Before we arrive there together figuratively, let me share with you how one of Will's coworkers described the event:
Every year I go and I spend 500 bucks** and for what? To see a bunch of old white guys up on the stage! So one old white guy gives another old white guy an award and they all laugh and say "Ha ha ha, aren't we great, well, I'll give this to you next year," and the next year that old white guy gives the award to the other old white guy, "Ha ha ha, aren't we great," and they all laugh and pat themselves on the back and talk about how great they are. I'd rather save my 500 bucks.
I would say this description is pretty much dead-on accurate, but having been forewarned, I was actually kind of amused by it. For a while, that is. Until (a) my back started hurting from sitting so long, and (b) I realized that each award presenter was making a 5-10 minute speech, followed by 10 minutes of film clips, followed by the presenting of the award, followed by a 5 minute speech by the recipient. If they had only been giving out three awards, we would have been cool. But keep in mind that the actual awards presentation was preceded by a 1.5 hour cocktail hour (complete with prom photos!***) and a 1.5 hour dinner (fantastic steak). By the time we were halfway through with the presentation, I was ready to go home. And there were still five awards left to go.

And my shoes, my cute little strappy black shoes: by 9 pm, they felt like they were made of piano wire. Which is to say, they were cutting into my tender toesies in a most heinous manner. Sweet William and I left the ballroom to stretch and mill about the lobby for a bit, and when we returned, we discovered that we had missed half of Nicole Kidman's presentation to Sydney Pollack. That fucking sucked. But Sydney Pollack was very funny, as you might imagine. Anyone who references Willie Nelson and the B'nai Brith in the same sentence is okay by me.

By the time it was all over, my feet were so wrecked that I couldn't even walk all the way to the car, and it was frickin' cold out. Sweet William ran off and got the car and picked me up (you see why I call him Sweet William), and we drove home. As we got out of the car, I looked down and saw my left boob looking back up at me. Somewhere along the way, the strap of my gorgeous beaded dress broke and ran for cover. Cheezus!

* I refer here to the painful facial experience of extraction, which, miraculously, my aesthetician did not have to do too much of. At 37, I finally have "good" skin -- and now I'm going to start wrinkling. You can depend on it.

** You don't have to pay a fee to attend the show; this is, I imagine, the amount she spends every year on the preparations (see above) like buying a dress, going to the hair salon, etc.

*** You can't even imagine the horror. After getting our drinks and moseying down toward the ballroom, we were ushered into a line where photographers were taking portraits of the event-goers. Our photographer moved us into a pose in which Sweet William and I stood sideways (me with my back to him), and he had me reach back and cup Sweet William's chin in my hand, and then he had Sweet William place his hand lovingly on my arm -- the one that was holding up his chin. Of course, this makes perfect sense, since wherever we go, I always walk one step ahead of Sweet William, holding his big head up for him since it is too heavy for him to hold up by himself. The question is, of course, how did the photographer know this about us?

Post-Show Sickness

Sweet William had been feeling a bit poorly the past couple of days, but around 2 AM after the show, he got sick. Upset stomach. Can't eat anything. I made the blandest soup possible for lunch (chicken broth, noodles) but he won't touch it. Currently asleep on the couch. Status: miserable. Since we spend far too much of our time talking about poop as it is, I am doubly bummed. (Bummed! Get it?!)

Don't Go in the Water

Those of you who are following our new pets, Nemo and Marlin****, will be happy to learn that they have a new trick. I had read that Betta fish are very social with humans, and when you approach the tank, will swim right up to you. Marlin has evidently figured out that when we open the top of the tank, food will come miraculously from the sky. If you go anywhere near the tank, Marlin will charge right to the front and beg. This is not the new trick, however.

This morning, when I opened the little feeding door to drop the food in, Marlin actually leaped up to the surface of the water. He did this several times, even when I wasn't actually dropping food. After he did it three times or so, Nemo started doing it, too. I have to give Nemo props, because previously I had pegged him as not very bright, but he's a quick study. Now, my first thought was that Marlin was just impatient to get the food, and that may well be. But it occurs to me now that, as the dominant fish, perhaps he realizes his only chance to jump over the barrier and beat the shit out of Nemo is when the little food door is open.

Perhaps I'm reading too much into it. You don't think so, do you?

According to Wikipedia (thanks, Internet!), "Male bettas do not 'fight to the death' in the wild; once one fish has clearly won the encounter, the loser will retreat to a safe location. In an aquarium, however, there is no place to run, and the winning fish will continue to attack the loser, often ending in death."

Hmm. No good. Now I'm all worried about these damn fish!

*** I keep wanting to spell his name Marlon, because there is a bit of Brando bravado about him. Eh, what's the diff?

Me, Me, Me, Meme

Oh my Gawd, I got tagged by Momma-Yaya (hi!) with a meme like, ten days ago, and I had no idea. The good news is that Momma-Yaya is already (I think) familiar with the enormity of my lameness, so this was to be expected. The bad news is that my lameness may perhaps make this meme quite uninteresting.

At any rate, here we go.

Four Jobs I've Had:
* Babysitter
* Info Desk staffer at my college Campus Center (which led at one point to me dressing up as an elf for our Family Holiday Extravaganza – sorry, no pictures)
* Student Advisor at a music school
* Freelance grant writer

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over:
* The Princess Bride
* Raising Arizona
* Welcome to the Dollhouse
* Rushmore

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch:
* The Sopranos
* Chappelle’s Show
* The Office
* My Name is Earl

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation:
* Orlando, FL (Disney World, when I was 12)
* New Orleans (pre-Katrina)
* New York, NY (pre-9/11)
* Barcelona/Seville/Granada, Spain

Four Favorite Dishes:
* Groundnut stew ( I can't find my fave recipe for this online. I use the one from Vertamae Cooks in The Americas' Family Kitchen, which does not have sweet potatoes or eggs in it.)
* Oatmeal chocolate chip walnut cookies (my own recipe, I can't divulge)
* The breakfast quesadilla at Doughboys (HUGE, and so yummy)
* Microwave popcorn

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
* Salon
* Bloglines
* Craigslist
* Google

Four Places I’d Rather Be:
* Hiking in Griffith Park
* Lying on the beach in Cabo San Lucas
* Snuggling on the couch with Sweet William and Viva
* On tour promoting my bestselling novel

Four Bloggers I am Tagging
I am actually not going to tag anyone, but if you want to do this on your own initiative, hit me back and let me know you did it so I can read it and have deep insights into your twisted little mind. I would love to hear from MR. X and SPLOOEY since they don’t post on their blogs atall these days, and they’re the ones who encouraged me to blog in the first place. Come on, you two, don’t leave me hangin!

Friday, February 24, 2006

She's Built, She's Stacked

A few weeks ago, we welcomed some new additions to the family: two male Betta fish. Viva is crazy about fish* these days, and when she was named Student of the Month in the three-year-old class despite being the youngest kid in the class and in fact not even yet having turned three, we felt she deserved some sort of recognition of her achievement. Sweet William asked her what she would like, and she decided on fish.

* She is also crazy for: yogurt in any incarnation, babies, dogs, cats, Maggie and the Ferocious Beast, singing, making letters out of straws/coffee stirrers/her own body, and edamame beans. Just so you know.

So we went down to Ye Olde Petco, and we looked at the goldfish, and after some discussion with an Official Petco Representative, we decided to go with Bettas, also known as Siamese fighting fish. More specifically, we decided to go with the male Bettas, which the Petco seemed to have in great quantities. We bought a tank with a barrier down the middle so they wouldn't be able to get at each other, because hey! These fish will actually fight one another** if they are in the same container! Hence, the name!

** So, yes, apparently we have elected to live with the fish version of pitbulls. Perhaps next we wil go in for cock-fighting.

At any rate, we have one pink fish with turquoise fins named Nemo, and one that is a very dark blue with red fins named Marlin. Viva is fascinated by them, and I'll admit it that after being petless since my cat died in 1999, it's been strange how quickly I've become attached to a couple of fish.

This morning, Viva wanted to know if she could put Dora in the fish tank so The Boys would have some company. This is the Dora she was talking about:

"Oh, I don't think so, baby," I said.

"Why not?" Viva demanded.

"Well, they each only have half a tank as it is. And Dora, well, she's kind of a big mamma jamma."

Why did I say that? It just slipped out. Guess what Viva's new favorite phrase is? Sung loudly and with gusto? "BIG MAMMA JAMMA, BIG MAMMA JAMMA, BIG MAMMA JAMMA!"

I wish someone would figure out just what is wrong with me, because that is just not right.


1. Today in my running about town, I saw a personalized license plate on the back of an old sedan that said simply: "GMILF." Now, I have of course heard the phrase MILF, but I think this is taking things a bit too far. (I'm assuming the "G" stands for "Grand;" correct me if I'm wrong.) Let's everybody take a step back, shall we?

2. This morning I got a facial, in preparation for the awards show this weekend. At one point, my aesthetician covered my face with a light fabric and then applied a freezing cold mask. "Is cold," she warned me one-half second before putting it on my face. "Whew!" I said. "What is that?

"I put mask because your skin is loose. I put mask to tighten your skin," she said.

Can you see a difference? Does my face look tighter? I wasn't aware that I was walking around with it loose. Once again, I wish someone would tell me these things.

3. "Criss-cross, applesauce!" is Viva's new catchphrase. It's all a bit demented.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Roots and Ramblin's

I'm back from wherever the hell I've been (working, taking care of my loved ones, reading actual books, and then getting caught up on my blog reading).

I recently found out that a couple of people out there in the blogosphere, who I don't know in real life, are actually reading this blog. I felt kind of sorry for them, to be honest, because this has not been a very entertaining spot lately. And then I had a brownie walnut cookie and stopped feeling so bad about it. I think I'll have another one!

But welcome to one and all, old and new. I heart you, I really do.

Moving on, Sweet William and I stumbled across A Fond Kiss... on the Sundance Channel last night. Plot summary (totally thiefed from IMDB, naturally):
In Glasgow, Scotland, the Pakistani parents of Casim Khan have decided that he is going to marry his cousin Jasmine. Unfortunately, Casim has just fallen in love with his younger sister's music teacher Roisin. Not only is she 'goree', a white woman, she is also Irish and catholic [sic], things that may not go down well with Casim's parents. They start a relationship but Casim is torn between following his heart and being a good son.
We channel-surfed on to this fairly early on into the movie, and ended up watching it through to the end, heroically piecing together what they were saying, as one of the main characters has an Irish accent (not so hard) and the other has a Scottish accent ("What the hell did he say?" - Thank God for TiVo and the Live TV rewind).

Afterward, we had a discussion about interracial/intercultural relationships, begun first because I once had a four-year relationship with a man of South Asian descent, so I was able to talk a bit about my experience with him and compare it to what was happening on screen. My ex's parents didn't live in the U.S., so I never met them, and as it turned out, after four years together during which we discussed marriage often, ultimately, his parents did not ever know I existed. I think this was less a racial issue than a cultural one. His family had moved from their country of origin to the U.K., but were still trying to arrange a marriage for their 22-year-old daughter to someone from their homeland. Needless to say, having their eldest son marry a non-Buddhist, "multiracial" American was not on their radar screen.

I was deeply hurt. But, then, I was also 23 years old. I met him when I was in college and still forming my adult identity; this was my first serious/long-term relationship. I look back on it now and I realize that in my efforts to learn about his culture and embrace his identity, I put my own on the back burner. He spent a lot of time teaching me how to cook "his" food, trying to teach me the basics of his first language, and explaining to me how women in his culture were expected to behave.

I was trying to be open-minded, or so I thought. But I can see now that the cultural and religious differences would have been a huge strain, ultimately. And our relationship had other problems, to boot. Not a recipe for success.

So anyway, when we were talking about this last night, we both agreed that our own cultural differences were enough to handle. I mean, I hail from some uptight light-skinned New England Negroes, and Sweet William's people (who range from yalla to deep dark chocolate) are from a very small town in East Texas. They tend to be loud, and boisterous, and country as all hell. Now, when I say "country," I don't mean like, "They really love some Garth Brooks." I mean, COUNTRY* -- as non-cosmopolitan as you can get.

I am a city person, and worse, I am a Seven Sisters**-educated Northerner. I can't help the way I talk, but I can tell you, I don't sound country, and I don't even sound "urban" (i.e., "Black" - though how one can "sound black" is understandably controversial). Dave Chappelle says that all black people in America are bilingual, and to a certain extent, I agree with him. But I am kind of lost with country folk sometimes, because the lexicon (see? with the uppity white girl talk?) is completely different and I must as well be talking to someone from Scotland.

Strange, the differences that exist within our own group. I won't say race, as that is a completely fabricated concept and it doesn't exist. And really, I guess when it comes down to it, the fact that I don't fit in culturally at times with members of my own "race" (whatever we agree that that is) supports the argument that race is a pretty flimsy construction.

Perhaps I will continue my ramblings on this later, but for now, I have to go pick up my little smooch-head. *** Peace be to you and yours, of whatever stripe.

* From
An insult.
A person, generally African American, who grew up or now lives in the rural deep south.
A person, generally African American, who is not sophisticated.
Example: Keshia thinks she all that living in LA but she's just country.
** Back when I was shopping for colleges, I also saw the Seven Sisters referred to as the Daisy League. Too much!

*** Gratuitous Viva bits:

This morning, after I buckled her into her car seat to take her to school, I said, "There ya go, sugar britches!"

"I'm not SUGAR BRITCHES!" she scowled.

"Oh, you're not?" I said, plopping into the front seat and clicking my own seatbelt.

"NO. Britches are on trees."

Duly noted.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Savage Indictment of Bourgeois Society

The latest on what's been happening at Casa de Blah:

Miraculously, no one has gotten sick in the past week or so. However, Viva had an unpleasant accident at school yesterday morning, resulting in a gash on her upper lip and a chipped front tooth. Despite this happening in the morning, no one called home about it, and when I picked her up at 4:30 pm, no one mentioned the chipped tooth. They just said she had hurt her lip, and Viva puckered up slightly for me to see the cut. I figured accidents happen: no harm, no foul.

However, once we got home, we sat down to talk, and I was gazing upon her cuteness in the obsessive manner that I do, and suddenly with a sickening lurch of my stomach, I realized part of her tooth was missing. Here are the components of my horror: (1) her tooth is broken; (2) nobody told me; (3) her father is going to lose his mind with rage.

I think losing his mind with rage is really an understatement. He called our attorney. We had long discussions last night and this morning about whether we should pull her out of this preschool. There have been other issues with the preschool where we feel we are paying a premium for subpar service, but this? Straw, meet back of camel. What it boils down to is, we all know accidents happen and the teachers can't keep their eyes on each kid every single second. But when there is bleeding, and a facial injury, and a disfigurement (admittedly fixable), it seems a phone call should be made. And indeed, it is allegedly school policy to call a parent or guardian when there is a facial/head injury, however slight. We were also supposed to receive a report on the injury, which we did not until we were in the principal's office this morning.

So, bad night last night. For the time being, we have decided to have Viva finish out the school year and then look into moving her somewhere else in August/September. In short, I am in preschool quest mode once more. Oh, the humanity!

We are stretched kind of thin these days. I am finally making some money, which I haven't been paid yet (but my client is so cool that he e-mailed me to remind me to invoice him). I applied for another freelance position this morning. We'll see what happens.

Sweet William and I have been having a stressful time lately -- all the usual "we need more time together, how can we make it happen?" discussions. The good news is, we still like each other and we do actually want to spend time together. Things are not so bad. We just have to figure out how to make time for each other, just like other parents, and be creative in how we do so.

Beyond sick of our apartment. We wanted to move March 1st but haven't found a place yet. Very bummed out, but then this morning, I was talking to Lola (my sister) and she mentioned that her neighbors are moving May 1st and want to rent out their house. Keep your fingers crossed! She's giving me their number today.

The house is a 2 bedroom, 2 bath, completedly renovated with central air and heat, all major appliances, a garage, an office, beautiful hardwood floors, and a huge backyard. It's in a great location, in terms of it being pretty close to everything we like, but it's more "neighborhoody" than where we currently are and yet it's in the city. Have I already mentioned keeping your fingers crossed?

I have a freelance project due tomorrow. Waiting to hear back on another consulting opportunity (see "Finances").

Creative Expression
I haven't been writing much this week, but because I have the sweetest husband in the world, I got a brand-new laptop for Valentine's Day, and he had someone who shall remain nameless load about $5,000 worth of graphics programs on it (for FREE!). So hear me now: I will slowly be teaching myself some graphic and Web design. Be patient, Internets! I am but a novice, and this blog will no doubt be my guinea pig. (Squeak!)

For now, though, I must go rescue Viva's mattress cover from the dryer, and tidy up the sty that is our apartment before she comes home and makes a complete mess of it once more. Don't ask me why. It is a compulsion. Peace out!

Note: The title of this post is borrowed from a review of Herman Hesse's Steppenwolf, for all your literary types.

Monday, February 13, 2006

All You Need is Love

So, tomorrow is Valentine’s Day – a day when we are supposed to be thinking about love, and celebrating love, and just love, love, love, all day long.

I find myself thinking about Valentine’s Days past.* I have never been kindly disposed toward Valentine’s Day, because I think if you love someone you should treat them lovingly all the time, and not just on one day of the year. I resent being told I have to be romantic on this one day. I hate the expectations it puts on people, especially men, to make big romantic gestures on this day. Roses! Candy! Jewelry! And go out to dinner! And all that crap! And never mind the sex. Your everyday sex life may be just fine, but on Valentine’s Day, you should be having wild, crazy, wake-up-the-neighbors sex! Multiple times! Do it! Do it! Do it!

Well, maybe I’m being a bit too hard on Valentine’s Day. Perhaps I have gone off on a bit of a tangent there (how unusual for me). Perhaps I’m still a bit cranky because my own personal romantic Valentine’s Day, which was Saturday night (with the fruit of our loins happily having a “sleepover!” at her auntie’s house), was ruined by me getting sick from something I ate at a very expensive and delightful restaurant. And I mean sick, as in getting up every three to four hours to lurch onto the toilet, eventually wrapping up my bathrobe as a pillow and lying down on the bathmat on the bathroom floor because I was exhausted, but didn’t want to leave the bathroom for fear I wouldn’t make it to the toilet in time. And yes, I fell asleep for a while on the bathroom floor.

Why, hello, Internet! Do you mind if I share some humiliating moments with you?

I have a sensitive stomach. It is a nuisance.

I spent most of the day yesterday dozing on the couch, waking up only to eat half a bagel, and then later some corn puffs, and finally later in the day, some white rice. Sweet William, who certainly lives up to his name, was the perfect tender mixture of solicitous yet space-giving. He would occasionally materialize to ask if he could get me anything, and then he’d melt into the background and leave me alone. He drove down to the South Bay to pick up Viva in Sunday afternoon traffic, leaving me on the couch watching Collateral and gathering my energy for the final push – i.e., getting Viva into the bathtub and putting her to bed.

I’m hoping tonight will be a bit more romantic, but you know, I think the planets are once again aligned against me. I am not sure why.

* Just realized that today is the 14th anniversary of one of my most horrible Valentine’s Day episodes ever. In fact, I think it is the worst. My ex-boyfriend, who I had broken up with the previous September, called me repeatedly and asked if he could come over “just for a few minutes.” I kept protesting that I was sick – which I was! True story! – but he insisted he needed to see me. It was a gray and blustery Saturday afternoon in Boston, and I was curled up on my couch with my cat, watching TV, with a mountain of used Kleenex tumbling out of the wastebasket next to me. I was not feeling social at all.

Ah me, I was so young and unawares. He came over, we chatted for a few minutes, and then he said, “Well, I can see you are really sick and kind of out of it—“ Yes, I was! True story! Why must people doubt me? –“So I’m going to get going, but first, hold your hand out. I got you a present.”

“What?!” I said. “Why would you get me a present that is totally ridiculous I don’t want a present from you what are you doing?!”

“Just hold out your hand,” he said, so I did, because I am a gigantic idiot, and then he put the ring in my hand.

“I don’t want it,” I said, holding my hand back out to him without even looking at it.

“Well, you could at least look at it, Jesus Christ!” he said.

“Why would you do this?” I said, and started bawling. And that is when it devolved into a pretty pathetic interaction, where he was trying to get me back blah blah blah and I was trying to get him to leave yada yada yada and I won’t bore you with all that or put more of the horribleness of it out there on display, but suffice it to say that ever since, I have been virulently anti-Valentine’s Day.

But you, maybe you like Valentine’s Day. And if so, more power to you. I wish you happiness and candy and champagne and every romantic thing you have ever dreamed of. As for me, there are the planets, and them not being aligned and all that. So. There you have it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Use Your Imagination

I've updated my Flickr account, so the photo badge you see in the sidebar to your right should contain new delightful pictures for your viewing pleasure. Some of them are part of Sweet William's Christmas present, for which I drove around Hollywood taking pictures of some of his favorite things and then I enlarged each photo and framed it. Some of my favorites are of the Hollywood Shadow Project, a public art installation designed by Electroland. Here is their description of the project:
Large-scale sculptures of iconic movie scenes are strategically situated to cast shadows onto the walls of nearby buildings, all of which house movie-making activities, resulting in shadows returning to the site of their production.
Apparently, this project went up five years ago, and some of the sculptures have since been taken down, but some are still standing. There were originally seven, and I was able to photograph three.

I am a big fan of public art because I believe it adds value to urban life, and I love to turn the corner and see something unexpectedly imaginative and weirdly beautiful. Perhaps you feel the same.

The design received an award in 2002 from the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, and yes, I may be way behind the times in blogging about it today in 2006, but let me just say that I still love the concept and still enjoy what's left of the installation, so it's still relevant to at least one person. I think that counts for something.

And now, I must be off -- Viva is squealing from her room, where she claims she is trying to take a nap. I am of the opinion that she could try harder, but there I go, putting unrealistic expectations on my chile already. Wait until she's in high school...

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rage Against the Machine (Not the Musical Group)

Today, Sweet William came home for lunch and launched into a tirade about President Bush and the budget, and how ridiculous it is for Bush to call himself a conservative when his budget is anything but, and what is this country coming to and Ronald Reagan must be rolling in his grave, and what kind of world is it for Viva to grow up in and speaking of which what about California now that there are all these tensions between blacks and Mexicans [ref. prison riots and high school brawls], how is all that going to play out as she grows up, and how can Bush cut all these social programs, what is supposed to happen to all these poor people, and what hope is there, the political process is bullshit and the two-party system needs to be taken out and shot.

There was more, but I'll stop there.

Up until that point, I'd been having a pretty mellow day. I worked out, cleaned the house, did some laundry, and checked my e-mail, where I learned I have a new writing project due Monday. And then my husband came home ten kinds of disgruntled and got me all stirred up, because he would rant about one thing and I'd jump in and add something else and we just fed off of each other like that for a while.

In a strange juxtaposition, today is Valentine's Day at Viva's school. We spent some lovely bonding time yesterday afternoon making cards for her classmates and teachers, and I brought cookies for the Valentine's Day potluck (I know! This school is all about the potlucks for some reason.). So while she is probably spending the day all enveloped in a message of love, here at home the amateur political pundits have been having a field day with all the hatred and idiocy and misunderstanding in the world.

To counteract this, I've been ripping and burning what will be a CD-mix for me to work out to, which generally involves upbeat (or at least up-tempo) music. Some of it is silly, like Outkast's "Hey Ya," and some of it is sexy, like Prince's "Get Off." But I'm also including some Public Enemy. Heh heh heh.

At the same time, I'm blogging and folding laundry. How am I doing all of this at once, you ask? Well, I'm not, actually. There is far too much multi in this particular episode of multitasking, so it is taking me far longer to get each task done than it should. (Particularly the laundry. Oops.)

That said, I'll leave you with this -- She for Whom the World Must Be Made a Better Place:

Have a most extraordinary weekend -- Peace!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Does This Ass Make My Dress Look Big?

So today I went shopping, because, my friends, I have been summoned to attend an awards show. As you may know, Sweet William works in the film biz, and as this is part of his job, now I must attend my first black-tie crazy "I'd like to thank the little people" show.

This necessitated a trip to a fancy shmancy store, where it took me about five minutes to find a dress I liked, because thank Gawd they did not have racks upon racks of special occasion clothes where I would be completely lost and disoriented, like a penguin in the tropics, and run away and anon, on and on, quite like this sentence. No, I found a sexy yet tasteful black beaded number, though I had thought I might perhaps do something with a bit more color, but you can't go wrong with black, or so they say. An incredibly helpful perky salesperson led me to a fitting room, where I promptly removed my T-shirt and jeans, glanced in the mirror and felt horribly sorry for my husband.

Yeesh, what happened here?

I can't blame the lighting in the fitting room entirely for how my body looks now. I can't even blame the pregnancy, because that was, well, three years ago. I can't blame my genes, because I come from petite stock and according to this table, I am the "appropriate" weight for my height. No, I can only blame myself for not getting up off my ass with greater frequency. The problem is not my weight; rather, it is my un-toned-ness.

Full disclosure: as I sit here typing this, I am eating microwave popcorn. This is bad for me, not just because of the salt and fat (of course I buy the kind with butter), but because it is so greasy it makes my skin break out like a motherfucker. However, there is something about it I find comforting, so here I am, running on this sick cycle like a hapless little hamster on a wheel.

I practice yoga twice a week, generally, but if I am feeling sick or bummed out or generally off-kilter, I don't. This happens more than it should. And I should be doing something more cardiovascular as well, I guess, but I don't. Man, I suck.

Sweet William is very active. He runs a couple of miles and/or practices yoga every day. He is incredibly disciplined about it. It is really rather disgusting, but since he doesn't get on my case about how much less proportionately physically fit I am than he, I don't get on his case about that. You see that? A good marriage is all about communication -- not just what you say, but what you don't.

Getting back to the original topic: I bought the dress. It hides my not-so-lovely parts and flatters the parts that are still in good shape -- i.e., my arms, back and bustline (whatever else you can say about it, yoga is good at toning the upper body). So, crisis averted for the moment. Thank God there's no swimsuit portion of the evening.

Speaking of the portions of the evening: cocktail reception begins at 4:30. Dinner at 6:00. Awards presentation at 7:30. What this means is that it would be entirely possible to spend 6 hours at this event that I don't really want to go to. On a Sunday night, when I could be sprawled on the couch in my crumpled pajamas eating ice cream and watching "Curb Your Enthusiasm." You see the dilemma I'm in.

Before you cuss me out for not wanting to go to this fabulously glamorous awards show, let it be known that the likelihood of celebrities being present is practically nil. These are awards for people who work on technical aspects of films, and while I do think they should be recognized, let's face it -- the only reason anyone would want to go to an awards show is so they can dish about the celebs they see there. It makes for a much more interesting story.

But picking up the thread of an idea: shouldn't everyone be recognized for the work they do? If you do a good job, wouldn't it be nice to get some public appreciation from your peers?

In my first job out of college, I received an award for being an outstanding employee at [insert name of performing arts institution here]. It was a shock -- not in a bad way, but honestly, I didn't know about it ahead of time and went to a staff assembly and they called out my name and I nearly shit myself. It was what I imagine you would feel like if you were sitting in the audience at a game show and suddenly the announcer called out your name: "LISA BLAH BLAH, COME ON DOWN!"

I didn't shriek or jump wildly into the air and hug whoever was sitting next to me, or spill my popcorn, or whatever. I was actually kind of mortified. Okay, so really, it was more kind of like sitting in the audience at a magic show and having the magician pick you to be his onstage assistant to be sawed in half. I scurried up to the stage, accepted my award -- it was heavy, being basically a big block of glass with my name engraved on it -- and then stared at the floor while the Dean of the College read all the nice things that people who had nominated me said about me.

I would much rather have been at home on my futon in my college sweatshirt and ratty boxer shorts, drinking beer and yelling out all the answers to "Jeopardy!" while my roommate cursed at me savagely.

So perhaps recognition isn't always a good thing. But you know, the award did come with a cash prize -- most of which I gave to my mother. Yes, I was that much of a goody two-shoes. Go ahead and mock me.

And right now, I think I might actually push away from the computer, get off my ass and shake it a little bit before I have to go pick up my kid. Dancing around my living room to some old school Salt-n-Pepa or Prince is the cure for the daily blues -- and perhaps for flab. I'll report back.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In the Funny Color Soup!*

Last Friday, I went to lunch with my dear friend Mr. X. We had a delightful meal of Thai food and then went shopping, after which I joked that I was slacking off, and added, “How much would it suck to get fired on my first week at a new job?”

Answer: it would suck so, so much. Like, a lot.

Not to worry, I didn’t get fired, but I did end up having to do a rewrite since I misunderstood what the project was for. Happily, it all ended up okay – the client is using both versions of what I wrote, albeit for different things, and he’s told me to invoice him for both. I had said I would not charge him for the rewrite, since it was my error, but he said I saved him from writing something he would have had to write in a few months’ anyway, so I might as well get paid for it. So, to sum up: feeling very good about this freelance thing, and pleasantly surprised that ethics in business still exist. Who knew?

Anyway, I was shopping for birthday gifts at this store, Wacko, a.k.a. Soap Plant, a.k.a. La Luz de Jesus. I would post a photo of it, but Blogger is up to some shenanigans right now and perversely won’t let me post pictures. Whatever! Moving on…

If you are ever in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, you should drop in and browse at Wacko, because not only do they have a fabulous toy and art collection, but they also have a great selection of books, soaps, and candle-like things. I was able to find all kinds of funky, relatively inexpensive and even age-appropriate items as gifts.

The gifts were for one of Viva’s classmates, who had his 3rd birthday party on Saturday. He and Viva are pals and I’ve been going around joking that he is my future son-in-law. Ha ha ha, until we get to his house up in the Hollywood Hills and I find out who his parents are. It goes without saying that I am not going to violate their privacy, but Viva’s future father-in-law is a big movie producer. Like, of movies you have actually heard of, including one that has been adapted into a television series.


The party was huge, and Viva had a blast. We stayed for three hours and yet and still, they had not cut the cakes (yes, plural) or busted open the piƱatas (yes, again, plural). Viva was fading fast, so we had to cut and run. On the way home, I took a wrong turn coming down from their house and got a little lost. I wasn’t too worried, because I knew if I kept driving downhill I would eventually come out somewhere that I recognized. The streets way up in the Hollywood Hills are very narrow and twisty and turny, and if there is opposing traffic, it is quite easy to very narrowly miss hitting each other, due to the hairpin turns. So I was driving very slowly down the street, and I said, “Shoot, I took a wrong turn. I think we’re a little lost.”

“Don’t worry, Mommy,” Viva said. “We’re just gonna say, ‘Member when we went to [boypal]’s party, and we got lost? ‘Member that?’ And we’ll laugh!”

“Yeah, we’ll laugh, baby. But you know, I don’t think we’re really too lost,” I said. I looked in the rearview mirror. Viva was wearing her party hat, which was a blue Nascar helmet. She looked exhausted, rumpled, and utterly thrilled by her party experience.

“I need to take my helmet off,” she said.

“I can’t pull over right now, sweetsie,” I said.

“But I need to get this off my head!”

“Hang tight, honey, I think we’re almost at the bottom,” I said. And we were, and I pulled over onto Bronson Avenue, and pulled her helmet off, and about two seconds after that, she fell asleep. Ah, my little racecar driver. How sweet it is.

Viva’s favorite thing to say these days is, “ ‘Member when…?” What I love about this is that sometimes she will ask me if I remember something that happened when I wasn’t there. Example: “ ‘Member when we were riding on the front of the bike, and [school friend] was riding on the back? ‘Member?”

And I’ll say, “No, sweetie, I don’t remember, because I wasn’t there. But I’m glad you and [school friend] have so much fun together.”

And she will actually look a little puzzled, like she was sure I was there with her at school all day. It is as though, even though she realizes that we are two separate people, I am still somehow in her brain all the time, seeing what she sees.

I am hopeful that this misperception will last a long time and keep her from doing all the dumb shit one does in prepubescence, puberty, teenagedom, and young adulthood, but I think the odds, they are not in my favor.

* Our blog title today is courtesy of the menu at the Thai restaurant that Mr. X and I frequent. Whoever wrote the menu is either an evil genius or does not have a thorough command of the English language. I like to believe that it is the former.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Holy Crap, I'm Working!

It's called work, and I'm doing it. I don't have much time to blog today because I am expecting a package from my employer tomorrow. Said package will contain research materials necessary for me to finish the absolutely-essential-to-the-survival-of-mankind writing project I started today.

Today, I talked to my client about what I've done so far, and he is thrilled. Already talking about pushing for more money in the budget for next fiscal year so I can work work work my little typing fingers to the bone. The reason I don't have much time to blog today is that I anticipate being quite busy tomorrow, and I need to do lame shit like vacuum today before Viva comes home (she screams when the vacuum cleaner is on, perhaps from some sort of visceral recognition of the suckiness of it, but who can say).

But first, let me just add this, as a follow-up to my post yesterday about the kee-razy post office experience I had:

Gregory Ignatius Armstrong, 42, was indicted for bankruptcy fraud in Greenbelt, Md., in December for claiming in all seriousness that he is a sovereign nation with unlimited contract powers and is thus owed $500,000 in copyright royalties by anyone who uses his name (in one case, by his Postal Service supervisor who wrote him concerning absences from work).
Added proof, if you needed any, that the United States Postal Services has some strange magnetic attraction for the nutjobs. (Or the nutobs, if you prefer.)

I found the story in News of the Weird, but you can read the original article here in the Washington Post. And I have to say, I'm glad I looked up the source, because then I would have missed another, even more eye-popping dimension to the story:
"It was sort of nightmarish," said Odell Johnson, Armstrong's supervisor at a U.S. Postal Service center in Capitol Heights. "They were threatening to foreclose my home."
You know, one of our family members used to work at the post office. She's one of the ones we don't speak to anymore. Coincidence? I'm beginning to think not.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Why I Don't Read the News

I try to avoid the news whenever possible, so I do not have to lie awake at night thinking about stuff like this...

In a Jan. 31 article titled "The Fear That Kills," Marjorie Cohn writes:
Last week, Col. Janis Karpinski told a panel of judges at the Commission of Inquiry for Crimes against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration in New York that several [female American soldiers] had died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquids late in the day. They were afraid of being assaulted or even raped by male soldiers if they had to use the women's latrine after dark.

The latrine for female soldiers at Camp Victory wasn't located near their barracks, so they had to go outside if they needed to use the bathroom. "There were no lights near any of their facilities, so women were doubly easy targets in the dark of the night," Karpinski told retired U.S. Army Col. David Hackworth in a September 2004 interview.
Fucked. Up. You can read the whole story here.

Whizzuh Whazzuh?

Writing this post in haste because I am expecting a call from my new freelance client with an Urgent! Assignment! For which I will presumably get paid, and then I can do stuff like pay for my kid to go to school and eventually have disposable income to waste on CDs and books and shoes.* Sweet.

* I know my hubs will read this and the first thing he will want to do is add a comment that he makes enough money that his wife can buy stuff like CDs and books and shoes even when we only have one income. Slow your roll, William Sweet! The problem is all mine, because I have this horrible New England Puritan thing going on, which involves feeling guilty for buying anything for myself. If I have any extra cash left over from my weekly household expenses, I inevitably spend it on Viva. I am quite certain I am not the only mother who does this. Is it a biological thing, do you think?


[Note: my "J" key is sticking, so I typed that heading as "All Hail the Nutobs" three times. All hail the Nutobs, and be awed by the greatness of their works!]

So this morning I went to the post office. I had to go to the teeny tiny post office near my building, although there are two much bigger post offices within a one-mile radius, because I had to pick up a package. I tried to go yesterday morning on my way back from dropping Viva off, but the teeny tiny parking lot was jammed, so I said "fuck it" and drove on home. I suppose I could have parked at home and then walked back to the post office, but it seemed to me that the parking lot was an indicator of how crazy busy the post office was, and that kind of crazy busyness is an indicator of how high my blood pressure will go, so I put it off until today.

I pulled into the parking lot and there were three available spaces (not including the handicapped parking). This means there were only three cars in the lot, so I ASSumed that the post office was not crowded. I am an ass. I was the tenth person in line, and there was only one postal worker in evidence, although there were two windows open.

I feel for the postal workers. I do. They have to deal with the public all day long, and for whatever reason, much of the public is a bit nutters.

It does seem to me, however, that when you deal with nutty people all day, you'd want to get them out of your immediate environment as quickly as possible. But perhaps I don't quite understand the joy the postal workers get out of dealing with disgruntled people, which can be the only reason why they want to prolong each person's wait.

At any rate, when I arrived, there was one postal worker helping a customer, and one woman standing at another postal window, presumably having been helped by another postal worker who had then disappeared into the back to procure a form or find a package or whatever. The line did not move for five minutes. The second postal worker did not come back. Finally, there was some movement, a few quick transactions at the first window. The line moved. Then, O Joy of Joys, someone went up to the window with a melon-colored postcard meaning he had a package to pick up.

"Is anyone else picking up a package?" hollered Postal Worker One.

I ran up there like she was my long-lost friend and shoved my postcard under the bulletproof glass. Hot damn!

"Okay, Miz Blah Blah, I'll be back in a minute," said PW1, and then abandoned us all to our fate.

Because we all commenced to wait. And wait. And wait.

Wait! Are you feeling like this story is moving in real time? Because you couldn't possibly. Time stands still in the post office. It is like being in another dimension.

The Nutjob Dimension.

You see, after a few minutes, Postal Worker Two (PW2) came back. And she had a form for her customer, who had inexplicably moved to the far window, furthest away from the original window, and decided she wanted to be served there. Let us not question why at this point. In the meantime, a couple with a baby in a carseat had entered the post office and decided to stand in line behind this crazy customer and wave a piece of paper wildly at PW2. In the meantime, another customer (let's call her Crazy Customer 2) started yelling at the customer in PW2's line for some reason, and they screamed back and forth at each other in lightning-speed Spanish, so I couldn't tell what the hell they were so mad about.

PW2, in her wisdom, mumbled something about applying for a passport, and set the application down on the counter in her window (where her customer was not standing, since she decided she wanted to be served at a window that was closed), and WALKED AWAY. The couple with the baby then ran to that window, grabbed the form and started filling it out. At this point, Crazy Customer 2 lost her shit completely and started screaming at the couple in Spanish. Since they were Asian and presumably could not speak Spanish, they looked at her with puzzled alarm, but finally got it that they had (a) cut the line, and (b) taken the form that was intended for Crazy Customer 1. There was much apologizing and backing away.

This is when the Crazy Jesus Lady at the front of the line started up. "Her problem [CC2's, that is] is that she is filled with anxiety, and confusion. The spirit of confusion has got hold of her," she said to me and the woman (thankfully) standing between me and her.

We all stood waiting some more, and the Crazy Jesus Lady said conversationally, "I just came to see my mailman, but he's already gone. I wonder what they'll tell me. Maybe I should come back this afternoon."

We all stood waiting some more. The customer waiting at PW1's window for his package said in an Australian accent, "I think they've all run off." Neither PW1 or PW2 came back. It was as if there ws no one working there at all. Finally a short, old, pudgy man with bristling eyebrows went up to one of the empty windows and started banging on them with his keys and calling out something in Russian.

"Oh my God," I said to the guy behind me, whose Nextel was burping out information throughout this process.

"This shit is crazy," he said, rocking back and forth.

"PEACE! Dear Jesus, I pray that you lay the spirit of peace on this post office," Crazy Jesus Lady said. The rest of her prayer continued under her breath, and then she said, "That man has the spirit of anger in him. You can tell, he's one of those, what do you call them, like a cannon?"

"A loose cannon," I said, God only knows why, except I can't help it. There is something wrong with me.

"That's it, a loose cannon," she said. "He carries the spirit of anger with him. He is angry all the time--"

To add to the chaos, the baby belonging to the Asian couple woke up (not surprising) and started wailing. The mother took him, in the car seat, up to an empty postal window and banged the seat with the baby in it! against the glass. "Do your job!" she said to no one, since neither postal worker had returned.

"GET BACK IN LINE!" Crazy Jesus Lady yelled.

"Miz Blah Blah?" said Postal Worker One, having rematerialized from Tibet or Palmdale or wherever the hell she went to go get my fucking package.

"Yes, yes!" I said, bobbing up to the window.

"Oh, hold on a minute. This is insured, I need to scan it. And you need to sign for it and show your ID. Let me finish up with this guy [the Australian] first."

"I just came to see my mailman," Crazy Jesus Lady said.

"Oh, Lord," I said.

"THANK YOU!" said Crazy Jesus Lady, beaming.

Finally, I signed, flashed my ID, grabbed the package, and fled the scene.

The kicker? The package isn't even for me. It's from my cousins back East, for my grandma, who, since she is between houses, is living in a hotel in Anaheim. Oh, did I mention this? My mom and grandma were staying in Carlsbad, but moved to Anaheim. A week ago. And didn't tell me.

Ah, family. The ties that bind, and strangle you.

That is a subject for another post entirely.


The other day, Viva and I were in the supermarket, where I spend many blissful hours each week, and we passed by another kid-filled shopping cart (which, for some reason, Viva calls a "shopping carpet," which is very cool as a concept. I picture us floating about the supermarket on flying Persian carpets, never having to ask for help getting things off the uppermost shelves). Viva said, "I saw a little BOY back there!"

"Actually, there are two little boys in that cart," I said, "sitting next to each other."

"Why do they do that?" Viva asked.

"What, sit together? Probably because they're brothers and they like to be near each other," I said.

"I need a brother!" said Viva.

"You do?" I said. "I don't think you need a brother, you're doing okay on your own."

"No, Daddy said I could have one," Viva said. See how crafty??

"Oh, ho ho," I said, laughing. "Here is where I know you are making things up. I am quite definitely sure that Daddy never said any such thing."

"I need a brother or sister," Viva insisted.

"Which one would you rather have?" I said, curiosity getting the better of me.

"A brother," Viva said.

"I think you probably just want one because [Best Friend] has brothers," I said.

"[Best Friend] has a dog, too," Viva said.

"Well, keep working on that angle, because that seems more likely," I said.