Monday, September 29, 2008

All of It

When we got up this morning, it was sprinkling outside. It wasn’t like us to be out so early. 6:45 was usually when Mr. W was hitting the snooze button for the first time. But there we were, out in the street, taking a morning walk.

The sprinkles didn’t last. We only felt a half dozen each, but the sky had that streaky look off in the distance. Around the horizon, chalky orange and pink warned us that the sun would soon be up. We could see the downtown skyline bidding good morning in peaks and valleys of concrete and steel.

The air was slightly warm and I almost felt like we were somewhere else—on vacation in Hawaii on a spring day.

We wound our way up the hill, commenting on interesting architecture. A newly renovated home with a longhorn cattle skull hanging over the garage. A picturesque, ivy covered cottage. A miniature Taj Majal with meringue-like dollops punctuating its roof. As we continued in the direction of old Hollywoodland, we were met by 5 cop cars, yellow tape and a police officer. He told us we could go up the opposite side of the street—there had been an accident the night before that was being investigated.

I was a bit nervous about what we might see as we resumed our climb. We finally saw it across the street and I tried not to look too closely. A kid had smashed his sports car into the side of a U-Haul moving van. The sports car was demolished. The driver’s side was nearly flattened against the van’s front wheel well. Glass shimmered in the street. A tow truck pulled up and began to lift the mangled car onto its forks. I wondered how long it had been since the accident actually happened.

On my way home to my apartment, the rain picked up again. As I was coming through the freeway pass towards my exit, I noticed a rainbow creeping up in the valley to my left. I tried to take a picture with my camera phone, but couldn’t quite get the right angle.

I thought of the rainbows Mr. W and I had seen on our first trip away together last January. We drove to San Francisco for a long weekend, and were met with rainbows on the way there and back. I remember thinking it was a sign.

When I reached the off-ramp, I was surprised to see, yet again, evidence of a car accident. Orange cones circled part of the right lane where a traffic light had been knocked down and demolished.

I was struck by the dichotomy of images. An incredible sunrise contrasted with a terrible car wreck. A stunning rainbow juxtaposed with the debris of a fallen tower of metal. It made me pause for a minute and appreciate how varied life is. And how beautiful it is in its chaos.

It’s not just about the pleasant things. It’s about the range of the human experience; the depths of emotion we're capable of feeling. There is beauty in the pain, the heartache, the ills because it is LIFE. It’s all LIFE even when it’s tragic and horrible. It is the mix of all the good and bad and pleasurable and terrifying that make life what it is—and us who we are. And when I come to an end, I will be thankful for seeing, feeling, experiencing all of it.

Friday, September 26, 2008

On the Same Page

It's about quarter to nine and we're hustling to get ready so we can eat some free breakfast and make it Napa in time to catch our wine tour limo. I need to brush my teeth. I need to curl my hair. He needs to get the wrinkles out of his shirt.

I slip into my pink peep-toes and trot into the bathroom. They clack on the tile floor.

“Why are you wearing your shoes?” he sneers from the bedroom.

I kick them off. Extremely annoyed. “I don’t know.”

A few minutes later, I slip them back on as we walk out the door. Why was he so high maintenance? I like my pink shoes. So what if I wanted to walk around in them before it was actually time to leave.

* * *

The next night, we sit across from each other over a huge plate of sushi. His eyes seem sleepy and his hair's a little wild. My favorite look on him.

“We did it again. We made it through another trip without killing each other.”

“We did.”

“The only time you made me mad was when you asked me why I was wearing my shoes in the morning…in a snippy voice.”

“Well, they were loud!” he laughs.

“Did I do anything to make you mad on the trip?”

He looks up, chewing his salmon thoughtfully...

“Yeah, you put your shoes on and walked on the tile at 8:45 a.m.”

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Remember back in high school or junior high or kindergarten when that one girl you hung out with got a boyfriend? And you and all your other friends suddenly had to deal with her flaking on you and talking about him all the time and carrying a lock of his chest hair around in her pencil case. And then she’d finally stop hanging out with you altogether because she was too busy making out with him in front of her locker and going to his water polo games, and eventually you’d barely even say hi to each other in the halls.

Yeah. I think I might be turning into that girl.

I’m beginning to find myself wanting to choose Mr. Wonderful all the time over my friends. I know, right? PUNCH ME IN THE FACE PLEASE.

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like this. A long while, actually. Like not since my first serious boyfriend (which I had in my early twenties, thanks to a near fatal case of the late bloomies). I remember being so infatuated with him, that I’d just want to be with him every minute and stare at him in awe like he was a newborn baby sporting one of those astonishing gas-induced smiles.

It was so long ago, I can’t remember if I pissed off my girlfriends in the process. Probably did. And I know for sure that I made him feel suffocated.

But I don’t think Mr. W is struggling for air. I think he likes having me around just as much as I like being around. I think he’s pleased when I cut plans short with my girlfriends and come over to play Rock Band with him. I don’t think he minds taking me with him to Home Depot or to look at new mountain bikes.

It’s funny because I actually thought I minded being with him all the time and not having my old single-life free-time oozing out of every crevice of the calendar. But then this past weekend, when I had an entire day to myself—to get all my chores and errands done and just bask in the quiet of my alone time—I found myself missing him.

By 2:00, I was sitting on the couch wondering what he was doing. ON MY ALONE TIME DAY! I was amused and frustrated with myself all in the same.

Is this normal, people? Am I supposed to be wanting to spend all my weekends hiking and biking and kissing with him? Is it wrong that I’m not craving girlfriend time—or worse—that I’m feeling blue during my own alone time?

I need some perspective please. Love makes me a little crazy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

I've Lost that Lovin' Feeling...and Found it Again (Maybe)

I started running because I was trying to move through a terrible breakup and was so filled with angst and hurt and rage that I had to do something to detoxify my psyche. It was either running or throwing plates in the driveway. And throwing plates wasn't going to give me shapely calves, so I picked running.

The first time I did 6 miles, I was astonished. I never would have thought I was capable of making it around the Rose Bowl. Twice. I couldn't believe that I didn't drop dead that night.

Nine months later, I completed a half marathon. Also something I never thought I'd do. I walked at various points during that race. And when I finished in 2 hours and 32 minutes I thought, I can do way better than that. I can definitely improve my time.

When the opportunity to join some friends in the Nike Women's race came up, I agreed to participate...although I'd lost the fire in my belly. The thought of devoting my Saturdays to long runs and forcing myself to get in miles during the week just didn't sound so fun anymore. It sounded like a big fat burden.

I didn't have the adrenaline-laced anger pulsing inside me like I did when I started to run. I had a boyfriend who I liked to sleep in with and drink lattes with on weekend mornings. I had blogs to write and freelance work to complete. Shoes and groceries to buy. A toilet and a Prius to clean. Yes folks, I would rather clean the toilet Saturday morning than run.

That is, until yesterday. I was absolutely dreading the 9.5 mile run through Los Feliz that my race buddy and I had planned. As we completed it, I developed raw spots on my shoulderblades where my CamelBak bounced and rubbed against me; my running buddy and I got lost; we had to walk up most of the hills because they were so steep; I thought multiple times that I Just Wanted It To Be Over.

But somehow through the pain and suffering, I found a little spark of love again. And as much as I was wishing for a helicopter rescue or a torn hammie that would enable me to stop in my tracks, I was also enjoying knowing that I was doing 9.5 miles. So next weekend, I'm going to do it again. I might even be looking forward to it a smidge...

Friday, September 19, 2008

What a Peach

One of the coolest places Mr. W and I went in Napa was the Greystone restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America. Former site of the Christian Brothers winery, the campus is perched above a beautiful vineyard in St. Helena.

We chose to sit outside, under the trees and heat lamps, looking out over Main Street. I was delighted when a French couple took the table next to us and began speaking in their native tongue—further amplifying the feeling that we were dining somewhere in Europe.

Mr. W and I both had delicious steaks that delighted the palate, however my first course of pimentos, almonds and manchego burned the crap out of my mouth. Not that there was crap in my mouth before I ate it... Anyway... We also discovered that the Greystone brand of wine is quite tasty—especially when paired with a slab of beef.

When it came time for dessert, I was giddy to see creme brulée on the menu. I love creme brulée. I love the sound it makes when you crack the sugary surface. I love the custardy taste and the smoothness of it as it slips down my throat. Mr. W ordered some sort of peach cobbler that was equally decadent, and as you can see from the picture, presented very nicely on the plate.

In fact, as soon as I saw his lovely cobbler presentation I said, "That dried peach looks like lips! Give it to me!" Thus solidifying my unwavering class and ability to fit in at any high brow establishment.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

In the Land of the Nectar of the Gods

First off, thank you to everyone who weighed in on my deodorant dilemma. I so greatly appreciate your concern with my malodorous armpits. Thankfully, there were no stinky incidents on the trip.

Secondly, please bear with me through this post. My brain cells (I just typed sells instead of cells) are still a bit blotto from the weekend. Even with a daily nap, it seems I never quite got enough rest to rejuvenate my drunk little neural pathways. So I think many of them are shut down right now.

The weekend was fantastic. Mostly just because everything connected to wine is beautiful and decadent and timeless. Driving through rolling hills dotted with oak trees and flanked by striated vineyards is sort of like crawling across a big beautiful patchwork quilt. It’s comfortable and you appreciate the care and craftsmanship that went into creating it, and you really want to just stop and take a nap on it. Seriously, I think there’s a reason they named it Napa up there…

Then there’s the whole process of swirling the wine in your glass and watching it catch the light; holding it to your nose, trying to pick up fragrances of green apple or earth; swishing it around your mouth as its buttery flavor coats your tongue. It’s an indulgence for every sense.

We went to about a dozen wineries and tasting rooms. La Crema, Kendall Jackson, Seghesio, Simi, Lambert Ridge, Rosso & Bianco (Coppola’s), Cosentino, Miner Family, V. Sattui, Merryvale, Rubicon (also Coppola’s), Opus One, and Silver Oak. At a couple of them, we just wandered around a bit an enjoyed the scenery. At all the rest, we sipped and poured, trying to determine how badly we wanted to add a bottle to our purchase list.

We ended up shipping 12 bottles from about 5 different locations. And Mr. Wonderful joined the wine club at our favorite spot which I’ll write about in a separate post.

I’m wearing a grey shirt today, which pretty much sums up how I feel about being back in LA. I was so depressed last night I cried after I left Mr. W’s house. There’s something about getting so high on the taste of olives and cheese and Cabernet and kisses then having to come back to the daily grind. Quite a downer. At least I can smile every time I look down at the type across my new grey t-shirt…it reads “pinot envy.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

We’ll Have a Stinkin’ Good Time

Mr. Wonderful and I are headed up to Napa this weekend for four days of drunken, naked debauchery. Okay, we won’t be naked the whole time, but we will be all wined up and we’ll definitely be debauching. Maybe. Or maybe we’ll be really snooty and speak about “legs” and “bouquets” in British accents.

Anyway, I’m particularly excited about this trip because I’ve never actually been wine tasting in Napa. When I was a wee 23, my college boyfriend and I were all set to take a trip to Calistoga…and he decided to break up with me. Right before Valentine’s Day. Don’t worry, we got back together about a month later…and then broke up again the following year. And then spent several years being each other’s bootie calls… But I digress…

So for weeks, Mr. W and I have been counting down the days until our trip. Just last Sunday after returning from a hike up Temescal Canyon (which I totally meant to blog about) we were sitting on his bed, discussing the details of the trip, joking that we wouldn’t ever want to come back again.

I laid down on the bed with my arms splayed overhead, dreaming of what it would feel like to become a professional grape stomper. Mr. W toppled down next to me and when he scooted closer, he scrunched up his nose and said, “Whew!”

Enter: mortification.

Apparently his olfactory receptors had come into range of my smelly armpit. Sure, we’d gone hiking—but I put on a bunch of freakin' deodorant. I should not have been a stinkfest.

“Why do I have to always be the smelly one?! Does the other pit stink?”

We both leaned in toward the other pit and decided it wasn’t as bad as the first one. “You probably just need to change the brand of deodorant you use,” he said. Or I'm a rancid freak who should run away and join P.U. Barnum's Circus.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that I stunk up the bathroom on our last wine tasting trip and farted on him in my sleep (oh, you guys don’t know that story yet…) now I’m the girl with the putrid underarms. I’m seriously beginning to develop a complex. And it doesn’t help any that he always smells good and seems to crap peonies and spongecake.

So yesterday I went to Target and I bought new deodorant. It’s some coconut-scented Secret stuff. I held the clinical-strength Degree for about 5 minutes before deciding that I was not in fact a special stench-case who required near-prescription strength anti-venom. We’ll see how it goes. It’s supposed to be 90° up there during the day. Add in a lot of alcohol consumption and my propensity to get hot and bothered around Mr. W and it could just be a recipe for disaster. I’m going to hope for the best though—and maybe if Mr. W’s nose ends up in my pit somehow during the heat of passion, the new scent will make him smile instead of dry heaving.

What kind of deodorant/antiperspirant do you all recommend?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Angels in Soot-Covered Helmets

I’m wearing a NY Fire Department t-shirt today. I wore it last year on this day. And the year before. And the year before that. It only seems right to me.

9/11 was such a surreal event. Actually, event is the wrong word. Event has positive connotations. 9/11 was a surreal disaster. I will never forget watching everything happen on TV and feeling this overwhelming desire to be in New York. To do something to help. To hold the hands of people in that state and band together with them to heal.

I did not know anyone who was lost in the towers. But I listened to their names at the memorial and cried and cried. What struck me the very most through the whole tragedy, though, was the loss of the firemen. Report after report noted that while everyone else was running out, the firemen were running in. And it’s for them that my heart breaks the most.

My brother is a fireman. He’s been working in the field for about 17 years, with years of volunteer experience before that. Right now, he is an engineer, so he drives the truck and operates it while the other guys run into burning buildings. For this, I am lucky. But there will most likely come a time when, again, he is one of the yellow coats rushing in to rescue people.

And I hope that when that day comes, the men who I'm wearing my shirt for today will watch over and protect him.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A New Breed of Rescue Society

Chihuahuas are being saved. Pit bulls are even finding new homes. But my neglected and/or downtrodden girlfriends?
They have no place to go.

If I had enough money, I’d start an Unhappy Wife/Girlfriend Rescue and Refuge. It’d be a place for gals to retreat when their husbands or boyfriends were treating them like crap—not respecting their wishes; not looking out for their best interests; not caring how many tears were being shed.

I’d buy acres and acres of land, and build quaint little cottages for the girls and their kids. We would grow vegetable gardens and raise chickens and goats (to make goat cheese, of course). I’d get an on-site therapist to help them work through their “stuff.” I’d make Fridays “mani-pedi night” where we all sat around doing our fingers and toes, wearing our jammies, watching Footloose and Grease. I would encourage the girls to follow their dreams, despite financial setbacks. I would build them back up after their men had knocked them down.

And if they decided to sever the ties to their past, I would help them set up online dating profiles and design manifestation collages to attract men who were committed to honoring, cherishing, and listening to them. I would rehab them into daters that knew when to trust their instincts and recognize when they weren’t receiving the treatment they deserved.

Like the canine rescue programs, I would hope that after living under my roof, I could send them out to better (or drastically reformed) homes, where they would enjoy long, happy lives rolling in the grass and driving with their heads hung out the window.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Blogger’s Guilt

Hi readers. As you may have noticed, I’ve been slacking a little on the posts lately. I haven’t been responding to your comments…I haven’t been reading your blogs as diligently as I was…I can’t even seem to find time to reply to sweet people (like Semicharmed) who send me emails. And despite the lack of actual indicators that I regret my behavior and want to change my ways, you should all know that I feel extremely guilty for not fulfilling my bloggerly duties.

This little web site and the people who read it really matter to me.

It’s tricky when you get tangled in a fishing line of weddings and freelance work and family time and errands and boyfriend time and appointments. As I sit here, I’m eating my lunch with a half-numb face from the dental procedure I had done this morning. Yes, I got a mirror to watch myself eat. And yes, every time I chew, I look like a crazy bag lady who is missing half her teeth. But that’s not the point.

The point is, I’ve been backburnering this blog and I feel bad. So in an attempt to rectify things, I decided to FINALLY post my pay-it-forward list of new bloggers I like. However, when I had to choose 7 people for it, I found myself feeling guilty yet again. Because all of you blog writers deserve an award. Heck, all of you who don’t have a blog but write thoughtful comments deserve an award!

I have to thank Nilsa for not only giving me this blogger award, but for writing this fantastic post that discussed the very guilt I’ve been feeling. She rules. Speaking of rules, here are the rules for the Brillante Award:

1. The winner can put the logo on his/her blog.
2. Link to the person you received your award from.
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs for an award.
4. Put links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message on the blogs for the people you’ve nominated.

And here are my winners:
Anita Stylist
Charlotte Harris
Just Run Just Live Just Be
My Life and Random Babblings
The Coconut Diaries
Variety is the Spice
Skrinkering Hearts

Thank you for the therapy session. I will send each of you $100 in my heart…

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Parachute

There are times—lately it seems like they’re popping up quite frequently—when stress and anxiety wrap around me so tightly, I think I’m going to suffocate. No matter how much yoga breathing I do, no matter how loud I crank up the Xanadu soundtrack, no matter how many M&Ms I stuff in my mouth, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m literally going to have a heart attack. I get so overwhelmed by obligations or anger at someone’s terrible wrongdoings or my own lack of downtime, I feel I could crack. Like looney farm crack.

Running always helps, but unless I take to just constantly jogging in place at work and home, it’s inevitable that the stress is going to get me again. And again.

So I vent. And thanks to the wonders of technology, I don’t need a blinking, breathing human being in front of me. I can vent over IM. All day. To Mr. Wonderful. And then if I see him in person later, I can spew out some more.

And every time, the most incredible thing happens: He pulls me out of my tailspin and lands me softly on solid ground.

I’m not one of those girls who only wants to vent to vent. I actually don’t mind having someone suggest to me what I should do to fix the problem. So when Mr. W says, “How about trying this?” I find myself feeling grateful.

A couple weeks ago, he and I went to dinner and I was very out of sorts. I was worrying about several different friends; I had a long day at work; I was overtired. And there across the table, he listened to each of my gripes, even saying, “What else, pumpkin?” when I’d finish one story. He offered advice and rubbed my neck. He cushioned what could’ve been a painful fall.

And he does this every time I turn to him.

When I was about 18, I was in my parents’ backyard filling the bird feeder or watering plants or some other inane task, and my mind was wandering to daydreams of travel and how great I thought my life would be when I was older and worldly. When suddenly something clicked. I realized that maybe that was why people got married. Because the fun stuff is even better when you have someone to share it with. I know, I know, I should’ve figured that one out by that age, but I was a late bloomer.

What I realize now, is that it’s not just the fun stuff that's better. It’s the hard stuff, too. The right person is there for you, at your back, willing to take over your descent with one yank of the ripcord. Because they don’t want to see you crash. And that's pretty amazing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Seems like, no matter how old we are, there’s always something new to learn. Or something old to relearn. As if discovering the joy of, say, a spa day and a facial (I had my first facial ever on Saturday and it was fantastic!) weren’t enough, we have to learn things that make us look at life or ourselves a little differently.

In my last post, I called myself a man pack rat. Yet, upon combing each and every email I had been saving from the ex, I discovered that I really didn’t need them. I deleted all except a couple early ones and a few that contained poetry I had written. Although it seemed scary to just up and trash the entire folder, once I examined its contents, the deleting wasn’t frightening at all. I wasn’t losing any part of my history—I was letting go of old pain. And that’s a great thing.

Another surprise that came with this whole process was the realization that the ex reads this blog more often than I may have thought (see comment 22 on my last post). No matter how many times I tell him I forgive him—and that I’m truly happy everything turned out the way it did—he continues to apologize. He probably needs to delete my email folder, too…

I was reminded this weekend, how important it is to experience moments of true happiness every day. Whether you’re sorting through past relationship pain or buried under a mountain of personal obligations and freelance work (uh, that would be me…thus the infrequent comments on your blogs), it’s critical to take time out for little things that make you smile. In between writing my cousin’s resume and editing for my client, I found time to eat Cherry Garcia ice cream, watch a little Tori & Dean, go running and take a very relaxing hike.

I even rediscovered one of the elements of hiking I love: the way that hikers are sort of “all in this together.” It didn’t matter that I was hiking alone. The people I passed on the trail were my people. They smiled and said hello as we crossed. One guy even waved to me as I swatted at a bug—thinking I was actually greeting him. It cracked me up and made me so thankful that I had chosen to take time out for myself.

Mr. Wonderful was away for the weekend, and I found that it now feels very strange to spend so many days without him. We’ve gotten into a routine and I like it that way. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing the routine creep into a bigger routine…but we’ll figure that out when the time is right. Because I’ve discovered there’s no rush.

I also learned that Nilsa gave me a blog award that I must pay forward to 7 others. Instinct tells me this post is already too long (it's my 200th, by the way. yay me.), so I think I’ll save that one for next time…besides, it’ll give you all time to bribe me…

Happy September, everyone.