Monday, July 31, 2006

Things to Make Your Brain Hurt

I have many things I want to write about but not a lot of time this week. I have work, as usual, and I also took on a quick freelance assignment which will take up some time after work this week. I do, at some point, want to discuss the recent Brookings Institution study which shows that the middle-class is shrinking dramatically in metropolitan areas across the U.S., with Greater Los Angeles ranked dead last in a survey of 100 American cities in terms of the percentage of middle-class/mixed-income neighborhoods. This is not shocking to me, since LA is both the capital of the entertainment industry, which is the source of an obscene amount of wealth, and also the capital of the working poor – see reports like the United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Tale of Two Cities: Promise & Peril in Los Angeles. But as I read more about it, I am hit with the very dreadful feeling that Los Angeles, and indeed, many of our urban areas with this kind of extreme divergence, are not going to be very fun places to be in the coming decades if this trend continues. And I am a city gal, for better or worse. I’ll try and post more thoughts about this if/when I have time.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

I Went to the Party Y'Know and I Did the Smurf

My friend Cee’s latest post reminds me: hey, I’m having a birthday soon. I had the brilliant idea to throw myself a birthday party this year and yet, strangely, I haven’t gotten around to planning it. Well, I’ve done some preliminary Internet research on venues, but I haven’t actually called anyone about booking a room. My invitee list is at 20, and the party would be in two weeks! Eeps. Um. So. The problem is that when I actually have a moment to think about the party planning, I am inevitably at work. In a cube. And still, fairly new to the job – indeed, within my probationary period – so I don’t want people to overhear me making party planning calls from work and think I am a slacker, even though we all know that in my heart of hearts, I am.

Really, all I want to do is get some friends I haven’t seen in a while together and drink and shriek with laughter and all that. Although two of my friends are pregnant, so they can only drink lovely frozen fruit drinks, if they even bother to come out at all (one of them is due in September, so she may not want to fool with such foolishness). Nonetheless, I have largely chosen this group because convened together, they will no doubt spawn splendidly wondiferous hijinks of madness and mayhem. I am envisioning, for example, my friend Ratboy singing karaoke with nary a karaoke machine in sight, as half of us shrivel up from embarrassment and the other half egg him on at high volume. I love my friends.

Maybe I will even post pictures. Blurry, off-center pictures. Blargh! Drunken madness!

Oh, Sweet Mystery of Life


Things I have seen this morning, before having my coffee:

1. License plate holder that boldly proclaims “I’d rather be praise dancing

2. Tiny Asian twenty-something wearing tiny denim mini-skirt and tiny purple T-shirt with huge Timberland knock-offs, untied, no socks. No socks! It was already 80 degrees here in Koreatown at 8:30 this morning. Sweet Jesus!

3. A continuation in the mystery of the missing three-hole punch series of e-mails that have been sent to ALL staff in this building. While it initially appeared that one of our IT staff may have taken it home, you will be most interested to learn that one of our Vice Presidents actually nicked it to work on stuff for our kids’ programs over the weekend. Still have not heard jack from the IT staffer whose co-worker informed the world that he took it.


Work has been crazy this week, and by the way, it’s crazy hot here. Viva’s school lost power at 11 in the morning on Tuesday, and thank God they have a pool, because I think the kids stayed in it for most of the day. Unlike many places around the city, county, state, and country, power was restored by the next day, so we did not have to call upon the babysitting powers of Viva’s grandpa, who honestly is never happier than when he has some kids around him to fuss at, but I was still apprehensive about what the hell they would do all day.

Okay, the quiet part of my morning is ending and I must ramp up to do some work. Perhaps later in the afternoon I’ll get into some praise dancing in my cubicle. I think my next-door cube-mate is Pentecostal, so perhaps he won’t complain.

If you can believe it, you can achieve it. Can I get a witness up in here?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Into the Frying Pan

Hey guess what? It’s hot. I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned it to you yet. Maybe you haven’t noticed, because no one else is talking about it. It’s pretty incredible, when you think about it, how no one is stating the obvious. It's summer, and we live in Southern California. We're all running our air conditioners and dishwashers and turning all the lights on for no reason, and I'm sure there are power outages and people dying from the heat, my GOD, the heat. I just wish someone would talk about it so we could get it all out in the open. It's not like every single person I have talked to today has mentioned it. They're all in denial. I mean, seriously.

Holy crap! Sweet W and I are so psychically connected, so as one in our oneness, that he just called me to find out how my day was going, and he said, “It’s SO hot outside.” I burst out laughing.

“Why is that funny?” he said.

Honey, it just is.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Annual Grouch Convention


In my cubicle, on my desk, sits a little fake metal trash can (henceforth known as LFMTC), and inside it is my own personal stash of paper clips. I am not overly attached to the paper clips, but the LFMTC has some sentimental value because of my ties to public television, and I have had it for many, many years. This morning, I opened the LFMTC to grab a paper clip to fasten some papers together, and found that whereas yesterday, the can was ¾ full, today, there are only a few paper clips rattling around in the bottom of it.

Dude! Who is so hard up that they have to steal my paper clips? What is UP with that? You can buy a box of 100 at Staples for 49 cents. What is wrong with people?

Aside from that, it creeps me out that someone specifically went hunting around my desk and had to open the trash can to see what was in it and then stole something so trivial out of it. Wack job.

There’s a Metaphor in All This

In other world news, Prison called us again last night. But this time, Prison didn’t leave a message. You might think Prison is calling us because we have a very common last name and perhaps Prison is confusing us with someone else that Prison wants to call collect. But here’s the thing: we have an unlisted number.

Do you think Prison wants to borrow some paper clips? Because I’m running low.


Happy Friday, my lovelies. There’s a frosty cold beer calling my name…oh, wait, that’s just my coworker snarking about some screw-up. I’m off to get the latest office dirt. Smooches!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Twenty-Three Days to Go

My birthday is coming up. Again. Funny how they do that.

Sweet W. recently asked me what I would like for my birthday. I honestly have no idea.

World peace? Do they still make that? That is what I want. I swear, the world has gone berserkers.

In anticipation of people asking me how old I'm going to be, I was fully prepared to say "Thirty-five." And then I realized I've gotten to the age where I'm saying "thirty-five" to sound young. Thirty-five is not young, kids. Nor is the age which I actually am.

If I weren't so frickin' senile, I might have realized that in the first place.

Thirty-five was a good year. But thirty-eight* has great potential, don't you think?

* I don't know why this is freaking me out so much -- I shrieked inwardly when I typed it and my insides turned to toxic sludge. I have friends who are older than I who no doubt will comment here to tell me how much I'm boring them. (Hi, Splooey!) "Call me when you turn forty," they will no doubt say. "Yawn."

Ack! I am about to be late for a meeting. Cheerio!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ask a Health Professional Before Use

Sometimes Sweet W is up really early in the morning or really late at night, and this is because he doesn’t require the same amount of sleep as a normal person. Perhaps that last bit isn’t exactly true, because he may require the same amount of sleep as a normal person, but his body simply won’t allow him to sleep for more than five hours at a time. (This is rather bothersome to me, as it means that 95% of the time, when I wake up in the morning, he is not next to me. And I like him. It would be nice to roll over and have him there, snoring softly, half-smiling and dimples flashing.) (Sweet Dub’s mouth naturally turns up at the corners, and he has really deep dimples which show pretty much all the time. These features make him look like he’s a happy-go-lucky guy, as opposed to cynical and full of contempt for his fellow man*.)

Last night, he fell asleep at 9 pm, and woke up at 3:45 am, which is actually a lot of sleep for him. But I tell you this to say that he was up, and turned on the TV at that ungodly hour, and was assaulted by a commercial screaming “Head On! Apply directly to the forehead! Head On! Apply directly to the forehead! Head On! Apply directly to the forehead!” while a pleasantly smiling woman applied what appeared to be a glue stick to her head. I know this because he had the presence of mind to grab the remote control and tape it for me. He only caught part of the commercial, and he played it for me this morning, and we looked at each other in baffled amusement.

“What the hell is it FOR?” he said, which was just as bafflingly amusing, because we all know I’m smart**, but not THAT smart.

Well, my friends, if you haven’t run across the commercial yourselves, Head-On is apparently a headache remedy which is available in fine drug stores across this great land, and even on the Internette. Head On has a fine marketing department which is doing a bang-up job. The product is homeopathic and I have no earthly idea how it works, but their commercial is truly mind-boggling*** and great.

Tune in next time, when I deconstruct the BET Awards. What the hell, they were only what, three weeks ago and I'm just getting around to watching them on my fake TiVo? What do you want from me?

* I don’t think he’s full of contempt for all of his fellow men. Just some of them. And some of the women, too. He’s all equal opportunity like that.

** Yes, we all do know this. It has been independently proven by a team of researchers who have not quite yet published their findings.

*** I just typed mind-bloggling. What does it mean?

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Feel Good" Music? Not So Good.

I got some really good information yesterday from one of our agency people who works in the field with troubled kids. I am working feverishly to incorporate some of her input into my proposal, and I’m waiting for another agency person to call to take me off-site to see some of our agency work in action. I have foundation research to do as well. And now, thanks to my cube-mate, I am listening to the instrumental version of Alicia Keyes’ “If I Ain’t Got You.”

It makes me want to rip off my own head and hurl it at the radio.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

P.S. My boss is currently at war with the He Who Rules Our Small Bit of Universe, Head of Moving Offices Around. She is threatening to go to the President & CEO if he doesn't move me into my own office (which we've already picked out -- quite nice, but there are political issues about moving the existing tenant out, because she will then have to share an office with someone else. It's all very delicate. OF COURSE.).

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Drowning in a Vat of Smooth Jazz

WARNING: This post has nothing to do with its title; it's just how I feel after a mere 2 hours of being at work with a cubicle-mate who keeps his radio tuned to 94.7/The Wave.

So it’s officially been a month since I started this job, and I still like it. I am neck-deep in writing an interagency grant, so I have become the meetin’est meeting-goer imaginable. I have also had a chance to go on a work-related field trip and see some of the long-range planning of the company, which lends a whole new, “Oh! So that’s the big picture!” dimension to what I do. And, since we are such a large organization, there is the added benefit of someone having a birthday or retirement party once a week. Nothing wrong with cake!

Sweet W has been (true to form) very sweet as we have made this transition. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, he picks Viva up from school, hangs out with her and makes dinner (!!!*) while I work out. I do the same for him on Mondays and Wednesdays, and then on Fridays we usually all go out as a family for pizza or order in.

Since we have given up for the moment on looking for a house to rent (with or without the option to buy) (which is a long and disheartening story which I do not wish to revisit at this time), Sweet Dub has also gone on a home improvement kick and spent the last three weekends sprucing up the run-down shotgun shack we live in. He’s completely reconfigured our home office, and last weekend did the same with our walk-in closet. I have been resisting the idea of renting storage space, while he has been advocating for same with all the vigor of Robert Duvall in The Apostle. We may actually be able to hold off on renting space to store stuff like his comic book collection, my art supplies, Christmas decorations, and the assorted lights Sweet Dub used in his video production days. And hold on to your hats, because we Might. Actually. Paint. Our bedroom.

Perhaps this time we will stick to one color, so as to avoid the exhausting, labor-intensive, three-week “if I have to paint anymore I will stick my head in this bucket of Ablaze SW 6870 paint and end it all” debacle of our last painting efforts.*** I don’t know if we are aesthetically capable of that, but I will let you know.

* I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Sweet Dub’s momma, who has many other fine qualities, did not teach either of her children to cook. Sweet Dub’s sister, Diva, taught herself to cook and is quite handy in the kitchen now, but when I met my beloved, Sweet Dub was pretty limited to eggs, burgers, and steak. He could pretty much grill anything, but I think that comes part and parcel with having a Y chromosome. In our years together, he has expanded his repertoire quite a bit. Having said that, I still have no idea what we’re eating tonight. Sweet W’s momma is fortunate to be married to a man who cooks**, since otherwise she might subsist on takeout, canned tuna, and black beans with salsa.

** Our dearly loved and loving Wash, Sweet Dub’s stepfather and Viva’s PawPaw. For whatever reason, Wash did not impart his love of cooking to either Sweet Dub or Diva.

*** Blogger is acting up and not letting me embed a link back to my own shit. Fuck that noise. As I said, our last painting efforts: Maybe I can come back and fix this later.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Raise Your Hands in the Air, and Wave ‘Em Like Ya Just Don’t Care


I am not very tall. I say I am five-foot-one, but that is on a good day. I am actually five-feet-and-one-half-inch tall, but that is really just too much to expect me to say. It does not trip off the tongue as one might like.

And still and so, when I went shoe shopping this weekend, I bought two pairs of very flat shoes. One for work, and one for fun. The work shoes are pretty basic, but cute and comfy:

The play shoes might not come across onscreen as cool as they are in person:

Dude! They’re METALLIC SILVER. It was the last pair they had at Nordstrom. I totally rock. Can’t wait ‘til Casual Friday.

I revel in my shortness, by the way. (Even if it makes me look like I am standing in a hole when I go to get coffee with one of my co-workers, who is 6-feet tall and even so, wears a bit of a heel. She rocks, too.)


Speaking of revelry, a good time was had by all Sunday afternoon during the send-off of one of my dearest and rottenest friends, who is moving five million miles away from me back to the Midwest for reasons that are still not entirely clear to me. During our send-off, we drank a tea called “Spicy Revelry.” Somebody in the marketing department was clearly having a good time sniffing glue.

I will miss my dear and rotten friend badly, even though as it is, I see her maybe twice a year. Bon voyage, my dearling!


I recently posted something about how Viva is all into the wordplay these days. Lucky reader, here is a continuation! Today, in the car, she proposed a rhyming game, and it quickly devolved (unbeknownst to her) into a bewildering array of inappropriate verbiage. In the 7-10 minutes it took to get from our home to school, here is a selection of rhymes that were offered (by Viva, not me):

“Door, WHORE!”

“Television, HELL-A-VISION!”

“Tow truck, HO TRUCK!”

“Bike, DYKE!”

I was just waiting for her to say “Truck, FUCK!” You know it’s inevitable.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Spot Trends? Stop Trends.

I have been so busy at work and at home that I have neglected this blog terribly. This will, it seems, be par for the course, since this weekend I have four separate events to get to. I am tired just thinking on it.

My quest for comfy yet cute work shoes continues. Recently, I found a cute pair of sandals made by Dansko that I think will actually fit the bill. Of course, the store didn’t have them in the color and size I need, so I special-ordered them. Paycheck in hand, I wait. Hungrily.

At the store I went to, which was privately owned (i.e., not a chain “mall store”), I walked in on a conversation between the two store employees on hand, during which they were talking about how women of a certain age have no business wearing certain outfits.

“At some point, you have to accept reality,” the older one (let’s call her Blanche) said. “Support garments are made for a reason.”

Her much younger counterpart (we’ll call her Minnie) made some small noise as if to speak, but Blanche steamrolled on: “I mean, I wear pantyhose every day under my pants, so you see a smoother line.”

“What?!” Minnie said. “Don’t you get hot?”

“Beauty is pain, sweetheart,” Blanche said. “Who wants to see bulges and fat rolls? Not me, honey. The other day,” she said to me, “there was a woman in here, had to be sixty if she was a day, wearing a midriff-baring top. Can you believe? These women need to recognize, and stop thinking it’s twenty years ago. ”

“Amen to that,” I said. “The other day I saw someone wearing a short denim skirt with those leggings with the lace on the bottom? You know what I’m talking about? Like they used to wear back in the ‘80s?”

“Oh my God,” said Minnie, who by the way was wearing a very fetching red-with-white-polka-dots halter top. (Hence, the name.)

“I know,” I said. “And she looked about 45 years old. I think if you were young enough to wear it the first time around, you should not wear when it comes back into fashion. If it has, which I am hoping it hasn’t.”

“I don’t know,” said Blanche. “This might not be a bad thing. At least she’s covered up.”

“Hey, you know, you’re right,” I said. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“Well, what about you? You looking for shoes?” Blanche said.

“Oh, that,” I said. And now, paycheck in hand, I wait. Hungrily.

Monday, July 03, 2006

From Humdrum to Fundom

Here I am at work, and there is literally not one other person from my department present, and may I remind you that I am only in my fourth week of work? I can always research stuff and read, which I have done today, but a lot of what I need to do right now hinges on other people’s feedback. So I am just kind of sitting here and not wanting to read more of this particular book I’m reading, which although fascinating because of all the info on brain development, is also kind of a downer because it is applied theory, meaning it talks about child neglect and abuse and how that affects the developing child’s brain. Guess how it affects the developing child’s brain? Not good, that’s how.

So while I need this as background info, and while the president of the organization suggested I read it (which I took as a mandate, because I see her every couple of days and she might ask me about it), I have to do it in short sessions, with breaks between. And I am not feeling like reading more of it right now, so I took a break.

I took a drive up to Wacko in Los Feliz, about 15 minutes away. And you know, I should preface this by stating that the thing about moving to a new job is, you may want to cultivate a fun new persona there. I’ve been trying to figure out how to decorate my Desolate Cubicle of Humdrum Humdrumminess. It is barren and gray, and short of buying some batik bedspreads and throwing them hither and yon, for a sort of boho-chic drapey effect (which I haven’t done, because let’s face it, that might just be too much), I have been at a loss for ideas. I have a couple of plants and some of Viva’s artwork up, which makes it a bit warmer, but it’s still pretty sterile.

Well, happily, I have discovered my new shtick. Wacko carries vintage replica tin toys which look like they hark from back in the day (pre/post-World War II-era, I guess). I found the coolest damn miniature carousel and Ferris wheel, and the toy actually plays music, in addition to the carousel and Ferris wheel moving around, when you wind it up. Wacko’s fantastico collection includes robots, a duck with a spinning beanie on its head, other carnival-type toys, and more spaceships, cars, and airplanes than you can shake a vintage replica splintery stick at.

It takes so little to make me smile, in my dimwitted simple way. Ooh, look! Shiny!

What are Words For?

Viva has always been ahead of herself verbally. At this point in her development, she is into all kinds of wordplay – she is really into rhyming, jokes, and is teetering on the edge of liking the concept of puns. (Yes, puns! That’s my baby! Someone once told me puns are the lowest form of humor, and you know what? Whatever.)

She and Best Friend, while not completely at peace, have come to some sort of understanding and are chummy again. What delights them to no end, and gives me a terrifying look at the gum-snapping, lip-gloss-wearing, cell-phone-blaring teenyboppers they might become, is the “See you later, alligator!” routine. Last week, I was witness to this:

BestFriend: See you later, alligator!
Viva: See you later, elephant! [collapses in laughter]
Best Friend: See you later, monkey! [gasping for air]
Viva: See you later, alligator! [practically peeing herself]
Best Friend: See you later, baby head! [screaming like a hyena]
Viva: See you later, elephant! [falling over herself]

It was strangely hilarious, I’ll admit, I guess mainly because they were cracking themselves up. So yesterday, Viva started up with the “see you later” bit with me, and I responded with, “After a while, crocodile.” She gave me a look like the light bulb had illuminated over her head, but maybe it was only a 40 watt bulb. I explained to her that the key to the routine was the part where it rhymes, and that she got the part where she had to add another animal at the end, but that it was supposed to rhyme.

Mama: So you say, “See you later, alligator—“
Viva: See you later, alligator!
Mama: And then I say, “After a while, crocodile!” See how that rhymes at the end?
Viva: Uh-huh!
Mama: Okay, now I’m going to say it: See you later, alligator!
Viva: Not for a long, long time, elephant!

My love for her swells into my chest like a big, big, fluffy marshmallow.