Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Man Pack Rat

Today, as I dragged an email to one of the many folders I have segmenting my inbox, I noticed that there’s still a “Sent to Mike” file lingering in there like old yogurt in the fridge. He is the ex who cheated, and a person who hasn’t been in my life since last July.

“I should delete the folder,” I thought.

But I couldn’t.

I don’t know whether I’m afraid of losing a chunk of my history. Or needing to go back to the folder and floundering when I find it absent. I’m not sure what my hang-up is.

I have “ex boxes” stuffed away in dark corners of my apartment, too. For a long time, one held pictures, poetry, a crusty rose and even the toothbrush of a short-lived ex. Eventually I whittled its contents down to photos alone…but again, I can’t bear to just get rid of the box. Because it might mean that the love affair connected to it never happened.

Somewhere inside, I think my children or my nieces will find my old relics after I’m dead and be fascinated by my life. But maybe I’m the only person who is—and ever will be—interested in all my stories. Journals alone don’t seem like enough…

Am I crazy? I need to delete the “Mike” file, don’t I?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sorting through the Guilt

Having a close family is one of the greatest gifts anyone can ever receive. No one sticks by you like your family. No one is willing to help you out—whether you need your tire changed or advice on what career path to follow—like they are. They are your people in a way that most others can never be.

However, every rose has its sticker. And the pokey part of close families is that they like being just that: close. The idea of moving away is not a welcome one.

I had a dream—after writing my last blog—that my Grandma P. was alive and I left her birthday party to go do freelance work. Just like in reality, I put my life and my busy schedule ahead of my family. This is how I operate. They live near me, so I know I will see them eventually—and therefore, I don’t usually make time for them unless we have a date set on the calendar. My parents have taken to giving me the old “who’s this stranger?!” greeting when I show up at their house. And apparently, my subconscious is feeling very guilty about that.

So if these twinges of guilt can exist when one lives 5-45 minutes from the majority of her family, what sorts of ill feelings surface when she moves to another state or, God forbid, another country? I’m afraid the guilt might kill me.

And I’m afraid because there is a large part of me that wants to move away; experience new things; be somewhere unfamiliar after spending my first three decades in one place. This is exacerbated by a boyfriend who has Travel in his very core. He is not tethered to a family. They are spread out and he doesn’t grapple with guilt when he goes without seeing them for a year. He eats up the idea of living in an apartment in Paris or a villa in Tuscany. And there is a large part of me that wants to remove the screen around my fire and let him stoke it until it sprawls the hills and ends up in Europe.

But oh, the guilt.

I cannot even imagine how a move like that would be regarded. I would become known as the one who forever fractured the family unit.

So what do I do—try to develop sleeker feathers that allow the shame to slide right off? Force the man of my dreams to stay put (when I don’t even know whether I want to stay put) and then feel guilty for holding him back? Or is this some sort of deal breaking sign? That if he really were the perfect person for me, we’d be completely on the same page about all this stuff?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Birthday Girls

Today is my grandmas’ birthdays. Two years apart, they were born on the same day—although, they could not be more different.

Grandma P. grew up an only child. She was adopted by a wealthy real estate developer and his wife, and lived a privileged life, complete with fancy cars and clothes, a billiard parlor—even a wine cellar in the basement. She married Grandpa after about three weeks (or was it three months…?) of dating and tried for a very long time to have a baby. After two miscarriages and a newborn who passed away after coming home from the hospital, she finally got pregnant with my mom. A few years later, my uncle followed, and Grandma had the nuclear family she had always dreamed of. Always the lady, she wouldn’t leave the house without lipstick and earrings. She was feisty and opinionated, and a lover of tradition and everything beautiful.

Grandma H. grew up with twin brothers, and a mother and father who owned a jewelry shop. I remember her telling me that for Christmas she and her siblings usually got a book or a toy and an orange. The first time she received a paycheck, she used it to buy a watchband-like gold bracelet—which she gave to me when I was in junior high. Unlike Grandma P., she didn’t have to struggle to get pregnant. In fact, she had a shotgun wedding in her twenties after accidentally conceiving my uncle. My dad followed, and Grandma found herself running a household of men—which she did surprisingly well. This could’ve been partly because of her fantastic sense of humor. Grandma H. was known for pulling us kids aside at family gatherings to tell us dirty jokes. She was crass and easy-going, yet sensitive and fragile.

Despite any differences in lifestyles they led and opinions they held, my grandmas were dear, dear friends for over 40 years.

I was fortunate enough to inherit some of the best qualities of each. Grandma P.’s legs, outspoken nature and love of connection and communication. Grandma H.’s unwavering sense of humor, wild streak and easygoing-ness.

I think about these two lovely ladies all the time. Since both of my grandpas passed away before them, they became my single cohorts on holidays and at family dinners. Sometimes now, when I’m driving alone, I pretend the two of them are in my backseat and we’re heading out for a girls’ day somewhere. I can’t wait to see them again someday, hear the latest gossip from Grandma P. and a great nasty joke from Grandma H.

I’m sure they’re together somewhere right now, celebrating their birthdays with the pomp and circumstance they deserve, my grandpas and aunts and uncles by their sides, waiting for all of us to arrive and join in the party.

Friday, August 22, 2008

'Cause I'm a B-L-O-N-D

"You want a discount?" Rico Suave asked this afternoon, eyeing me up and down from behind the counter at Sport Chalet.

I assumed he was going to try to sell me on a store credit card. "These are already on sale, I don't need one," I politely declined.

"You a real blond?" he said. Which, now that I type it, makes me think he was being dirty and wondering if the carpet matched the drapes...if ya know what I'm sayin'...

"Yes," I answered. "It's darker than it was when I was a kid, so I highlight it. But it's real."

He looked to be Middle Eastern, with dark, curly hair and a tiny moustache and trimmed beard. "You a real brunette?" I shot back at him.

"Black, you mean, not brunette," he corrected me.

What do you call someone with black hair? Yellow hair is blond, brown hair is brunette, red heads are...well, red heads—does that mean I have to call someone a black head if they have charcoal hair? That just doesn't seem right...

Anyway, next he threw out, "Men find blonds very appealing, you know..."

I wasn't about to engage this guy and say something like, "Romeo, do you find me very appealing?" So instead I asked the next logical question that came to mind: "Is that because we're supposed to be stupid?"

That was the end of the conversation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Worth the Wait

I met a friend—my old art director partner—for dinner last night. Well, I had dinner. She had eaten beforehand and was supposed to just have a drink. A glass of Chardonnay, I thought. But when she walked into the restaurant and sat down, she ordered water with lemon.

“Were you boozing at your work party this afternoon?” I teased.

“No, I’m not drinking.”


My friend and her husband were never on the fast track. They dated for 10 years before getting married in 2005, and have been volleying the kids idea around since then. Being the pain-in-the-butt friend I am, I ask her—every time I see her—whether they’ve made a decision. I thought the closest they’d gotten to entertaining the idea was buying a dog last year.

“I’m five months along,” she said.

I couldn’t believe it. I started to cry. I was so pleasantly shocked and overjoyed that she and her hubby had reached their point of readiness. Had they gotten pregnant right away, I don’t think I would’ve been as overwhelmed by emotion.

I’ve been realizing this a lot lately: That good things are even better
when you wait.

Ever the late bloomer, and always the last to do everything (get my period, get a boyfriend, lose my virginity, ah yes and now, get married) I’ve gotten accustomed to waiting for things. But up until recently I’ve always felt impatient. It was as though life was a To Do list and I was just trying to hustle my way through it and check everything off.

But I see now, that things seem to mean more when I slow down and allow myself to get ready for them; enjoy everything leading up to them; savor them when they arrive. It’s not about the end product, it’s about the process. Seems like a complete no-brainer but I don’t think I used to understand this.

Before Mr. W and I said the L-word, I remember thinking that I should embrace the time without it. Even though I wanted to hear it so badly, I knew that someday we would say it as though it meant nothing (okay, not nothing, but you know what I mean). So I tried to enjoy that anticipation and the physical ways it showed up before it was actually said.

People are now starting to ask me about the M-word, and as much as I want to indulge the fantasy and start looking online for ring settings and gown designs, I know that if I just relax and relish the moments we have, an engagement, a wedding, and a family will be so much sweeter.

The present moment is a great place to be. And if I can be patient, I know beyond a doubt, that everything ahead of it will be worth the wait.

Congratulations to my friend J on the impending birth of her
little baby girl!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Elevuuuun Hours

Remember the great scene in Spinal Tap where they talk about turning the amp to eleven? If my weekend were an amp, I would have liked to turn it down to one. Because my "eleven" this weekend was eleven hours spent working on a freelance project.

It’s rare (like I haven’t actually done any in ohh 3 years, I think) for me to take on work outside of my day job. I LOVE my free time and usually the money just isn’t worth giving up a couple hours at the movies or a run at the beach. But this time, when the opportunity came up to make some fat cash, I thought about my credit card bill. And my nest egg. And my hypothetical trip to Italy. And I felt like I couldn’t say no.

So 3.5 hours Friday night, 4 hours Saturday, and another 3.5 Sunday night were spent staring at my computer screen as I edited 43 documents. Thankfully, I gave my eyes a rest Saturday evening when I went to see Tropic Thunder (some chokingly, gut-wrenchingly hilarious parts in it, btw) and visited Bottle Rock for some much needed vino.

But last night, I literally dreamed I was staring at my computer screen. I kept tossing and turning because, in my mind, I was still proofreading and editing. And this morning, I was exhausted. There’s nothing worse than thinking about work during the one time you really shouldn’t be.

Anybody else ever had this happen?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Moving of the Toothbrush

I have issues with toothbrushes. The way they show up in your bathroom when you start dating someone and then linger there after you and that person have parted ways. I don’t like throwing them out. I don’t like keeping them around. I don’t like seeing my single toothbrush alone in the holder after I’ve disposed of an ex’s.

Last Christmas, my parents bought me an electric toothbrush. This does provide a dazzling and technologically advanced distraction, however I still keep a regular one in my medicine cabinet, and I still look at it every day, standing steadfast at its post.

When Mr. Wonderful and I began dating, and he started spending enough time over here to need his own dental care items, I decided to do the cautious thing and place his brush on the third shelf of the cabinet. That way, I wouldn’t associate it with my own brush, and miss it if it ever needed to be scraped along the lip of my toilet, torched and pitched into the trashcan.

It’s been perched up there since November, balanced carefully on a box of teeth bleaching gel, waiting patiently to be relocated to the porcelain cup on the bottom shelf.

Well, I don’t know whether it was the fact that I had a new box of Imodium to store on shelf three—or maybe Mr. W’s charming use of no-no hole—but this morning I moved his toothbrush down next to mine.

Yes, it’s a big risk. But I’m willing to take it and be hopeful that the only reason his brush will disappear is because he’s upgrading it to a new one. Or all his teeth have fallen out.


My mother actually just sent me an email that said:

"Dad wants to know what a no-no hole is.
He's never heard of that!"

People, this is why I am the way I am.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Whole New Level of Romance

I have to thank Mandy for expanding my vocabulary last week with a term I found so absolutely hilarious, I had to pass it on to Mr. W. Mandy is brilliant and should be in charge of writing Merriam-Webster’s next Collegiate Dictionary. I know, you’re wondering what the term was… Well, read below and I’m sure it’ll jump right out at you.

Somewhere between Saturday and Monday I caught a little stomach bug. Mr. W and I saw an awful U2 cover band (broke my heart, seriously) at House of Blues on Saturday night and then went down to Newport and rollerbladed along the beach Sunday. He made a fantastic dinner and I fell asleep on the couch—from what I thought was post-rollerblading exhaustion. Turns out the exhaustion lasted right into Monday and was accompanied by body aches. Then my stomach got all topsy-turvy and I realized I was probably dying of e coli or arsenic poisoning.

Or maybe I just had a little touch of the flu.

Anyway, by last night, I’d had enough. I was uncomfortable on the inside and outside and I was whimpering my woes to Mr. W over IM.

His response: “Why don’t you go to CVS and get some Imodium for your tummy and some baby wipes for your no-no hole?”

I wiped a tear of pride from my eye, realizing that his continual exposure to my obnxiousness is paying off, and today I love him more than ever.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Seen It. Believe It.

I was approaching the freeway onramp when I saw them. His blonde hair looked damp, face was flushed, calves were rippling. Her brown ponytail swung back and forth, swatting butterflies from her shoulder blades. They were smiling at one another. Jogging side-by-side, unaware of whatever else was going on in the world around them.

I want that, I thought.

I knew him. He was a guy I’d had a crush on after college. And now he was with her and they looked blissfully happy.

I wanted to be the couple who ran together. Who enjoyed each other’s company so much and shared hobbies and laughed and laughed.


There were dozens of bad dates after that day. My heart got broken at least three or four times. I cried orca whale tears. I lost weight. I gained weight. I hated men. I longed for them. I kept getting on and off the rollercoaster. Why? Because I believed. I knew I could have what the jogging couple had. I deserved it.

I believe everyone can have that. I believe there is someone out there for everyone. I believe that if you want to find your perfect match, you will. Someone to call when the sunset looks like it did tonight. Someone who will reach over and stroke your hair and neck while you’re driving. Someone who will put a spoonful of homemade spaghetti sauce to your lips and ask you if it tastes okay. Tell you they love your skin. Hold your hand at the movie theater. Play Scrabble with you on a Friday night. Race you to the top of the hill. Smear sunscreen on the places you can’t reach. Make plans with you. Give you a look, across the elevator in Target, that nearly takes your breath away. Make you have stomach flips that are gold medal worthy. Laugh at your jokes. Dab at your tears. Breathe in your exhales.

But I also know, that the only way to ever find it is for you to believe, too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Wishing the Skies Weren't so Friendly

I've been having a hard time coming back to reality since my trip. My morning commute takes me past the local airport, and every morning last week, I wanted to just turn right and head to valet parking. I thought I'd be over it by this week, but alas, it persists. I could hop on a flight to New York or Chicago then who knows where I'd end up. Maybe here again because it was so beautiful...

Or maybe I'd flit off to see some waterfalls in New Zealand. Or Bali. Going on vacation always reminds me just how incredible it feels to escape. Evade the routine. To wander around somewhere unfamiliar and experience things for the first time, making invaluable deposits into the memory bank.

I think that's what I enjoy most about traveling—not the relaxation or the seeing of sights—but the sense of limitless possibility. Every day you wake up away from home is an adventure (even if you're just a few hours or a state away!). You eat at new restaurants, you walk down new streets, you see a different skyline when you watch the sun set.

It's nice having someone else in my life who understands this. Nice...and dangerous. Because together we could run away (yeah, I know my feet look like monkey hands and you're thinking, "how can she run on those things?"). We could go travel the world. And as much as that stokes the coals of wanderlust smoldering inside me, it also scares me a little. That's the funny thing about my sense of adventure—it's coupled with a tether to my hometown. I tried to move away from the area once (all the way to Orange County! Gasp!). I only lasted 8 months. But if I had a partner...would I ever come back?

I ate lunch today with a girl who saved up with her husband and took ten months off work to travel. She went to 28 countries. I don't know how you could do that and not come back a better person. Someone who has experienced the happy sense of being a little lost, seen things you maybe never dreamed of seeing, tried something new every day. Actually, I don't know how you could come back from that at all.

Friday, August 8, 2008

In Other Ass News...

Yesterday was an exciting day. As if awarding me the Shine a Light CD wasn’t enough, dear blogger, Dingo, bestowed a Kick Ass Blogger Award upon me. I was so busy at work, I was barely able to bask in the glow of celebrity—but here I am today, wearing sunglasses, throwing diamonds around while I pet my miniature dog and tell my coworkers to pick up documents off the printer for me. (Or sit in my corner-office cubicle and eat apple slices from a Tupperware container…)

As part of receiving the award, I am supposed to pay it forward by adding 5 other bloggers to the Kick Ass list. Therefore, it is my pleasure to tell Bretthead of Dark, Stormy Loopy, GeekHiker of The (Single) GeekHiker, Hannah of Naked Banana, Michael C of The Wonderful World of Nothing, and Mandy of You’ve Got to be Kidding Me that I think they kick ass.

To join the list of winners, you must go to and add your name to the Kick Ass queue. Then:

• Choose 5 bloggers that you feel are "Kick Ass Bloggers."
• Let them know in your post or via email, twitter or blog comments that they've received an award.
• Share the love and link back to both the person who awarded you and back to

On another kickass note: Yesterday, Mr. Wonderful and I had a brief conversation over IM about planning a trip to Italy and Greece in April for our birthdays. Have any of you been to Italy or Greece? I am DYING to go. Eat, Pray, Love threw me over the edge of Italy yearning. And ya know, while we’re there, I’m sure we can do some great eloping. I mean, sightseeing. Sheesh all the kickassness has gone to my head…

Have a great weekend everyone! Oh and in my heart of blog hearts, I think all of you kick major ass.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Steaming Stinkholes

Don’t let the sulfuric stench hold you back from exploring the magic of geysers. Yes, they smell like rotten eggs. But they look—oh they look—like liquefied gemstones. They appear so inviting, Mr. W and I kept joking about how we wanted to jump into one. But then we remembered that would melt off all our skin.

Mixed into the surrounding runoff near a lot of them, you see vibrant oranges and rusts and yellows. We learned that these colored areas are inhabited by thermophiles—microorganisms that live in extremely high temperatures. Given how hot it is in my apartment right now, I’m pretty sure a family or two of them have taken up residence here for the summer.

It was interesting to see dead trees standing in the vicinity of a lot of these hot spots. I can’t quite understand how trees grew there at all, given how old most of the geysers are. Perhaps the trees are really old too…or maybe certain geysers are really sneaky and conniving and they make the tress think it’s totally chill for them to sprout up nearby, then when they least expect it, the geysers shower them in liquid hot magma water…

One of our last stops in the park was Old Faithful. The last time I was in Yellowstone (16 years ago), OF was erupting every hour and six minutes. That has increased to about every hour and a half. Apparently, Old Faithful is getting older and having some trouble getting it up regularly…perhaps a little Viagra would help…sorry, couldn’t resist…

In addition to the scents that wafted our way as we trekked the wooden pathways of the various geyser basins, there may have been an episode in the hotel room when Mr. Wonderful walked into the bathroom after I’d been in there and immediately ran back out, doubled over with his arm slung over his nose, crying, “How does that smell come out of you?!” But I won’t tell you that part of the story.

Here’s the bathtub from our room, by the way. Rockin’ awesome.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

If I Could Snuggle the Woods, I Would

So as you know, I was in Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, WY this past week. Mr. W and I flew into Jackson on Wednesday afternoon, picked up our rental car and then drove about 3 hours to West Yellowstone to stay for the night.
As soon as we entered the south gate of the park, I could feel myself rejuvenating. Being in nature—especially somewhere as spectacular as Yellowstone—has a profound effect on my psyche. It’s like having God Himself tap me on the shoulder and go, “Check this out, I made this for you.” I feel so at peace. At one. Fortunate.

The first place Mr. W and I stopped was Lewis Falls. As we crunched up the trail to look over the tumble of water, I could literally feel my spirits rising. I would love to know if exposure to fresh air and the smell of soil and pine can actually release Serotonin in the brain. (Note: I may have been equally excited when I discovered the Jacuzzi bathtub in our hotel room.)
We were also privileged to witness fields and fields of wildflowers. Rabbitbrush, lupine, fireweed, paintbrush and yellow monkeyflower polka dotted the hillsides and the riverbanks. Everything we saw seemed extra vibrant—pastel petals, cobalt sky, flickering sage-colored Aspen leaves.
My favorite sights, however, were the fuzzy wuzzies. We saw a bald eagle, a buffalo, some antelope or elk (they all kind of look alike when they don’t have antlers…), a durkle of baby ducks (What’s the proper word for that kind of group? Gaggle? School? Hoard?), a marmit and several hawks and magpies.We also saw these guys and many of there brethren in various stores throughout Jackson Hole. I was margarita tipsy when I took this shot through a store window, finding it funnier than I probably would’ve sober. Poor little coonie-pie and squirrelypants…
You’re probably wondering where all the geyser shots are. Be patient, my children. The geyser post will erupt in time.

Monday, August 4, 2008

She Did Well, Didn't She?

Hi all! I'm back from beautiful Yellowstone and Jackson Hole, WY. What a great trip...more on that later. This post is about my sister. Didn't she do a fantastic job filling in? I think so. I was cracking up when I called her on my way into the park and she read me her first post. Quite entertaining...

In addition to commending her for being a great blogging mistress, I also have to thank her for buying this lovely little gem for Mr. Wonderful and me. She was quite proud of herself for finding this at some jewelry party she attended—and we were, of course, quite impressed by the selection. After I put it on Mr. W for this picture, he forgot to take it off and when it spilled out of his shirt as he laid on the bed to read, I almost called him Vinny.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Neti Pot

If you have no idea what a Neti Pot is, it is time you learned. This silver little teapot looking thing has been life changing for me and my clogged sinuses. (and no, they're not clogged because of cat dander around my house.)

I first learned about the Neti Pot from doing internet research on sinus problems. I was convinced I needed one, so I ordered it, but was terrified to use it once it arrived. Then one day I was watching Oprah, and that fabulous Dr. Oz was on, singing the praises of the Neti Pot. He pulled some girl out of the audience, showed her what to do with it, and that was all it took. If she could do it in front of millions of people, I could do it in the privacy of my own bathroom.

So, what do you do with it? You fill it up with warm salt water, and flush your nasal cavity out. I'll admit, it is a weird sensation to stick a metal teapot in your nostril, and watch a little waterfall trickle out of the other nostril, but it is very satisfying to see what comes out, that shouldn't be in there. I can even do phase two now, which is sniffing the water up into your sinuses, and then the water comes out your mouth. Don't try this at home without proper training, kids. I used to be on antihistamines and inhaled steroids every day, for years, for my sinus issues. I am proud to say that I am on no medications anymore, and I feel great! It's wonderful for fighting off colds and allergies, and very effective once you have a cold, for cleaning out the snot factory that ensues.

It's a great conversation piece, as I take mine on vacations with me. Mine's been to Hawaii, Big Bear, and camping in the Sierras. People love to watch me do it. At first I was embarrassed because it's not the most feminine practice, but if it helps to convert people, then I'll do it in the name of health. Some friends made a video of me in Hawaii last year. I hope that doesn't turn up on the net... We gave one as a white elephant gift at a Christmas party this past year, and the lucky recipient ended up loving it!

You got sinus issues? Get a Neti Pot - you won't regret it - I promise!

Friday, August 1, 2008

My Third Child

I, like my sister, am a crazy cat lady. I only have 1, and I am especially lucky to have her since my husband is allergic. After much begging, pleading and promising to vacuum every day (yeah right, but he fell for it...) he let me pick a real pet for our family. As only fate would have it, he is allergic to every cat on the planet except for her. Not a wheeze or a sniffle out of him. He won't admit it, but he loves her to pieces. We catch him, when he thinks no one is looking, massaging her belly and talking in a cat voice.

I, like my sister, sing songs to my cat; have a special voice that only she understands; and love her even when she attacks my forearms for no apparent reason. Recently I thought I had Cat Scratch Fever from a severe slash, but it turned out to be a reaction to the antibiotic cream I had slathered on the wound. One of the worst scratches really wasn't her fault. I was carefully lifting her into my daughter's loft bed, but I forgot the ceiling fan was on, and her head got whacked. Consequently, she overreacted. She screeched, fur was flying, and I got the brunt of the mishap. I stayed up half the night to make sure she didn't have a concussion. I still love her.

My best friend, who is a therapist, is very concerned about me. She thinks I might wear Sophie around in a Baby Bjorn pack, and nurse her. I have a leash for her, because she is an indoor teenage rebellious cat, and tries to run away occasionally. My friend insists that I not use the leash in the neighborhood, because all the other cats will laugh at my Sophie. She wants to start a couple of support groups for people like me, and their feline children - Getting in Touch With Your Inner Kitten; Don't Be Such a Pussy (for scaredy cats) and my personal favorite, Nobody's Purrfect -a reality based therapy group for cats.

I don't care what anyone says. My third daughter never talks back to me in a sassy voice, will eat the same thing for dinner every night, and will snuggle with me whenever I want her to. Some would say she is saying "meow meow" every morning to me, but I know she is really saying "Mama."