Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Maybe I Should Move...

About a year and a half ago, a friend of mine from high school moved into the apartment next door to me. She was on the other side of a bad divorce and just getting out on her own again. She ended up only staying in the apt for about 10 months...and then she moved in with her new boyfriend.

Thanksgiving weekend, they got engaged.

When she moved out in June, another girl from my high school moved in. She had been living with her boyfriend but they decided to split. He was nice enough to help her move in and check in regularly.

She texted me last night that she got engaged over the weekend and is moving out in February.

I'm thinking maybe there's some magic spell on the apartment. Perhaps I need to pack up my stuff and move next door in the New Year...

Monday, December 21, 2009

All Growed Up

It’s funny how quickly time flies. It seems like just yesterday, I was playing afternoon nanny and weekend babysitter for several sweet-tempered little girls. I’d plan out crafts for us to do, I’d order pizza, I’d sing Bee Gees songs to them in the car on the way to piano practice. They were my surrogate little sisters. And despite the fact that they did things like pee in the water during bath time, turn the kitchen into a disaster that I had to clean, occasionally laugh when I tried to reprimand them, and later throw parties when I was in charge and their parents were out of town—they all turned out great.

These little girls—whose diapers I changed, tears I wiped, childhood stories I heard—all grew up. They went to school at USC, Notre Dame, Princeton, Stanford and Georgetown. These little girls who continually had spaghetti stains on their shirts and lumps in their ponytails have become educated fashionistas and successful career women.

These little girls all have boyfriends and husbands. One even has a baby.

And yesterday, I had all of them over to my house for holiday brunch. It’s funny now how they seem like the grown-ups and I’m still the 16-year old who’s trying to figure out her path. As they and their significant others sprawled around the nil space of my tiny apartment, I couldn’t help but think of how two of them are homeowners. They talked back and forth about recipes and I set off the smoke detector when the sugary topping of my French toast casserole bubbled over and burned up in the bottom of the oven. They played with the baby while I talked about my cats.

I can still see their toddler and elementary school faces when I look at them. Their laughs sound the same as they did in junior high and high school. But they are women now. All grown up, giving me advice.

It’s wonderful and strange all in the same. This must be what parenting feels like. Watching something grow and wondering if you had a hand in the way it turns out. I’d like to think maybe…just maybe…that my presence in their life had some tiny impact on who they are today. I know they had a huge impact on me.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Green Christmas Part Two



I know you’ve all been waiting on pins and pine needles to find out what I did about a Christmas tree, so I thought I’d follow up my last post with the answer and a few green ideas I’ve had over the last couple weeks.

After reading the articles Mike129 posted in my comments, I rethought my plans to buy an artificial tree. I wish I could say that I’m as green as Dingo, who keeps live trees year round, but I’m not at that level yet. Instead, I chose to hit up Target in Burbank—and was pleasantly surprised to discover that their trees this year are “certified green.” Apparently the farm they bought from has met a series of criteria, making them an eco-friendly establishment. Did it cross my mind that they could be green-fleecing the American public? Sure it did. But I’d like to think that maybe there was some good behind my purchase.

Maybe next year I’ll graduate to the live-tree level.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some green ideas I had for gift wrapping:

1. Use recycled wrapping paper. Whether this means saving other sorts of paper (I get posters occasionally from stock photography houses that make great wrapping paper) or just using a roll that’s made from recycled other paper, this is a great and easy way to go.

2. Use raffia instead of ribbon. It’s biodegradable and still looks nice on packages.

3. Reuse boxes and containers instead of buying new ones. Before you throw your oatmeal canister or cereal box in the trash, consider how fun it would be to see someone open a gift wrapped in a Honey Nut Cheerios box.

4. If you do have to buy boxes, get the pre-decorated kind so you don’t have to wrap them. Target has some cute ones this year.

5. Make gift tags out of last year’s Christmas cards. If you’re like me, you don’t clean out your designated card/mail container all that often, so you have stuff from last year at the ready. As long as the sender didn’t write anything on the front cover, you can cut off that section and use it (as a whole or in pieces) to make cute holiday gift tags.

Happy wrapping, everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Confidence Spectrum

More than once when I was dating in my twenties, guys pointed out to me that I was less than confident. The boss in particular, who was 7 years older, told me that my lack of self-confidence greatly detracted from my attractiveness. Of course at the time, I thought he was being a condescending prick.

But his point also gave me pause. How could he think I was attractive and a great catch when I didn’t truly, wholeheartedly believe that myself?

Dating a younger guy in my later twenties didn’t solve the problem either. He, too, commented on my self-deprecating comments and off-kilter view of my worth. I didn’t even fully realize that I was portraying myself in a negative light. Things would fly out of my mouth and I didn’t hear how they sounded.

Then during my crazy course of online dating, I started to see how unattractive it was when other people did this. I went out with several guys who were good-hearted, cute, nice guys, but they way they put themselves down or let their insecurities cause them to act awkwardly was just downright unappealing. It was a shame because they were probably great catches, but the attraction just wasn’t there on my end because they didn’t seem to value themselves. And I didn’t want to be with someone like that…even though I had been accused of being that way, myself.

Enter counseling: the great game changer. Sitting across from a neutral party, having him say, “Did you just hear yourself? Why would you say that about yourself?” is a powerful thing. Suddenly you realize that what YOU are saying about who you are is largely dictating the perception others have about you. Thus, reinforcing what you don’t want them to think.

Having this click for me (and continuing my therapy stint) changed the way I spoke and thought about myself. I realized that I had no reason not to be confident in who I was. Instead of questioning myself and focusing on my flaws, I tried to hone in on my great traits and take on challenges that would make my confidence grow.

When I met Mr. Wonderful, one of the things I loved best about him was that he was unapologetically himself. Did he have some nerdy tendencies? Yes. Was he a bit nervous and awkward? Sure, he nearly fumbled the dinner he made on our second date when placing it in the oven. Was he shy as heck? Totally. But these things didn’t slow him down a bit. I could tell that he knew—and accepted—who he was, and really didn’t care what I or anyone else thought. It was incredibly sexy.

I think women have a harder time than men when it comes to tapping into their true confidence. For some reason, we never think we’re pretty enough, smart enough, worldly enough, thin enough. It’s really terrible and I think it causes us to compromise what we want when it comes to dating. We don’t think we are worthy and deserving, so we never get what we really deserve.

I would love for everyone to think of 5 things about themselves today that are completely amazing and awesome. Focus on how attractive you are, and others’ perceptions will follow.

And listen to this for a great example of what NOT to do. Confidence is a spectrum and this guy is absolutely on the other extreme end. No wonder so many great gals are single!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Loved this poem. Really enjoyed the movie...despite the fact that most of the people I saw it with did not. If only we were all as inspired as Mandela.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fleeting Fidelity

Although I’m sick and tired of seeing Tiger’s mug on the TV and Internet, over the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself engaging in (even initiating) conversations about marriage and infidelity just about every chance I get. Everyone I speak with seems to agree that cheating is wrong, yet the book I’m reading right now claims that 25% of men and 15% of women cheat on their spouses at some point during marriage.

And I want to know, why are people doing it?

I’m not claiming to be some pious individual who has never cheated. I’ve been the cheater, I’ve been the other woman and I’ve been cheated on. But I’ve never been married—these indiscretions all involved other single people—and I think that matters tremendously.

I cannot imagine vowing to be faithful to someone until death, and then tossing that promise out the window for a few kicks or an ego boost. Maybe I am na├»ve. But I would like to think I would try to address whatever was making me consider other men—solve the problem—or separate or divorce my husband before ever shacking up with someone else.

I know it’s tough to end relationships. I know that even in the worst dating situations, sometimes it’s hard to turn away from months and years of semi-comfort to go out and find something new and better. I know there are tons of emotions involved, and in a lot of marriages there are children, which complicate things even more.

But I just can’t help but think that the inability to walk away or the audacity to be unfaithful is a direct reflection of broken self esteem. If you’re miserable in your marriage, why not sever the tie and find the relationship you know you deserve? If your husband or wife doesn’t make you feel sexy or macho or whatever it is, why not figure out a way to fix that instead of seeking it out somewhere else? Why create a scenario wherein you, your spouse and your “friend” could all get deeply hurt?

It’s also astounding to me how forgiving people, particularly women, are when they’ve been cheated on. Again, I have to wonder if this is a self esteem issue. Why would we allow someone to come back to us after they’ve so drastically disregarded our feelings? I remember being in that bargaining phase though…I remember feeling sorry for my Evil Ex and having moments where I thought maybe if he got counseling we could work everything out. But how could I not always wonder whether he’d do it again? How could we really be a solid, trusting couple after that?

It could be human nature to jump from relationship to relationship. Maybe we really are not meant for monogamy. But I sort of think then we should just do away with marriage as well.

What do you all think about cheating? Is it a fact of life that should just be accepted? Or is it the abominable act some think it is?

A friend at work sent me a link to this segment series on NPR’s This American Life. It’s pretty fascinating. And quite sad. Definitely worth the listen if you have time.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grandma and Grandpa Heth’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve


The company I work for is forcing us to use 3 vacation days the week after Christmas so that they can close down and get people’s extra time off the books before the 1st. I was less than thrilled when I found out this news. As you may know, I’ve used quite a bit of vacation time over the last year and don’t really have any to spare…

But instead of lamenting my dwindling days-off supply, Mr. Wonderful and I decided to plan a trip up the California coast. We’ll be doing it Euro-style, staying in a different locale every night and trying to cram in as much sightseeing as we can each day.

We’ll hit Fresno first to visit his dad and check out the flip house. Then it’s off to Paso Robles for some wine tasting, followed by San Luis Obispo for some neighborhood investigation (we think eventually we’d like to move north of LA). Next will be Carmel with a visit to the Monterey Aquarium so I can talk to the otters in my cat lady voice, and on the way down to our final stop—Solvang—we may duck into Hearst Castle for a bit.

On Thanksgiving, I mentioned the possibility of Mr. W’s and my travels to my dad and I think we both had the great idea that it would be fun for he and my mom to meet us in Solvang. At the time, I didn’t realize we would be there on New Year’s Eve. But that’s how the roadtrip schedule worked out, and when I emailed my mom to see if they still wanted to meet up, she booked a room almost immediately.

Me, Mr. W, Mom and Dad on New Year’s Eve. It’s going to be a wild one.

When I informed Mr. W that the Hetherington Seniors were in fact joining us, he said, “They’re not staying in our room are they?” I’m not sure who that would be more traumatic for. But thankfully my mom has assured me they’ll request a room as far away from us as possible. So we can all sleep soundly in our footie pajamas in our separate bunk beds.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Horton Hears a Hoarder


Behind a mysterious door, in the darkest annals of a nice little house built on a hill lives a collection of treasures spanning 45 years. Prom dresses, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, old knick-knacks, wrapping paper, bar signs, furniture, maybe even a human skull or two. It’s all there—bushels of booty carefully tucked away by the pirates that are my parents.

On Thanksgiving night, my brother told my mom that he had watched the show “Hoarders” and that he thought of her 59 out of the 60 minutes it was on.

We often tease her about how we’re either going to burn down the house when she dies, or sell every single thing in it for a dollar, because with the amount of stuff she owns, that would make us millionaires.

But here’s the thing. As I was cleaning out closets this weekend, gathering stuff to give to the Goodwill (which I do very regularly), I became aware of my own hoarding tendencies.

I have a collection of gift bags and boxes that could choke a herd of elephants. I have a bunch of candles and candleholders that I don’t want to get rid of because maybe, someday I might use some of them again. Then there are the travel bags. And the craft supplies. All the other little things I hang onto just in case…

Mr. Wonderful suffers from some of the same thinking. The bottom drawer in his bathroom has enough medical and hygienic supplies in it that he could probably open a corner store. But he can’t get rid of it because he might need it one day!

In some ways, I think a bit of hoarding can be good because it may prevent us from just buying and throwing things away in a continuous cycle. It may be better for the environment for us to hoard a little because we can "shop" among our own things and not fill up the landfill with old stuff. But this could just be my crazy collector mentality seeping into more brain cells. And I certainly don’t think there’s any reason to save old newspapers under your couch (Mom).

Where do you all stand on this? Do you have secret stashes of stuff strewn about your houses?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dreaming of a Green Christmas

One of the things I love most about Mr. Wonderful is that he calls me out on my nonsense. He tells me to calm down when I’m worked up over something silly. He reminds me that I need to think positive if I start dipping into negative nelly territory. And this past weekend, he gave me a mini-Charlie Brown smackdown to get me to stop being a holiday hypocrite.

I was talking about getting my Christmas tree this year and Mr. W said, “It’s amazing to me that a composting Prius driver would actually kill a tree just to stick it in the living room at Christmas.”

Uhhh...

He was kind of right. I use cloth napkins. I lament the fact that the polar bears are drowning. I buy green cleaning products…but I’ve yet to purchase a fake Christmas tree.

I’ve thought about doing this for the last couple years, but I think laziness more than anything has stopped me. Now that I have been called out on my inconsistent behavior, however, there is no excuse.

So this week, I will head to Lowe’s or Target and see what I can find in the way of plastic trees. I will not have needles in my car or on my carpet this year. I will not grapple with the guilt of throwing my crunchy tree out on the curb at New Year’s. And next year, I will only have to walk to the garage when I decide it’s time to decorate.

Mr. W says I’m making a good investment for our holiday future. But I have to wonder how many plastic trees are clogging up the landfills in this country…

Friday, November 20, 2009

One Foot in the Grave


A few years ago (and many, many before that) when I was single, I could jam-pack my schedule until there was barely any time to change my underwear between events. I loved going out with my single girlfriends—whether for an evening run at the beach or a night of bar-hopping in Venice or Santa Monica—and would often catch myself in these moments of bliss over how delightfully exciting my life was.

I remember driving through downtown LA on numerous occasions on my way home, admiring the city lights and thinking how alive and young and fun I felt.

This week, I met up with a friend for dinner in Santa Monica and as I drove through the glistening metropolis of downtown, I felt something quite different: tired.

I don’t know what it is, but in the last couple years it’s like my body has discovered its real age and it feels OLD. It doesn’t want to stay up late drinking, it wants to accidentally fall asleep on Mr. W’s couch while watching The Food Network.

I experienced a similar realization at the U2 concert last month. I’ve seen The Boys seven other times with GA floor tickets, and I’ve always left the concert buzzing with exhilaration. But this time, I left with a sore back, aching feet and an ear that wouldn’t stop ringing for two days.

People, I think the machine is breaking down.

The funny part is that I’ve challenged myself physically more in the last couple years than I did for the first 31! When I was young and spry, I wasn’t running half marathons and climbing mountains. I thought that stuff was supposed to help me stay youthful!

I know there’s no avoiding the age goblins. But I just really wish that when I sat on the floor to make jewelry or wrap a birthday present, I didn’t start to get stiff before I stood up again. That used to happen to our dog as a kid. And he’s dead now.

It scares me that this is only the beginning… It’s downhill from here… What do you all do to stay feeling young?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yuppie Dinks


This weekend, Mr. Wonderful and I headed to the Santa Ynez valley in Central California for a lovely stint of wine tasting. Some might call such a getaway hoity toity. My nine-year-old niece once made fun of us for going to a wine class, pantomime-reading a “class book” saying, “Ooohh how interesting—you DRINK it.” But we find great joy in the whole swirl, sniff and sip experience.

As I helped Mr. W carry his things down to my already loaded car, he told me not to look in his gym bag.

I know what you’re thinking. That inside the bag, there was a little black velvet box.

Well, there was a boxy black item in there, yes. But it was Mr. W’s Nespresso machine. He actually packed the whole thing (with a zip-lock of free-trade raw sugar) so he could enjoy coffee the way HE likes to drink it.

I believe he had a shot before we went for a morning jog Saturday. And perhaps another before we headed to the top-rated restaurant Root 246 for dinner.

I’m not sure when I had my oh-my-god-we’re-such-yuppies moment, but it suddenly seemed to me that when you added everything up, we were walking stereotypes. Then again, I’m not sure that true yuppies do all the stuff we do…

Like when we were trying to take a self portrait on this beautiful country road and I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes open in the bright sun, and Mr. W said, “Tardball, stop making that blinky face.” I must have laughed about 42 more times throughout the afternoon over that one. “Tardball.” Yuppies don’t talk like that.

And I don’t think they crack up about farts when they’re jogging.

Nor do they show off their mad female burping skills at 10 a.m. while drinking Dr. Pepper instead of coffee.

And they most certainly don’t buy gummy worms and melon rings at the gas station then stick the two together in an obscene way before chuckling and eating them.

So even though we ARE young, urban professional, double income, no kids kinda people, I think we’re still relatively down to earth. Especially if the earth has wine grapes growing out of it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In Honor of This Very Special Day

Once upon a time, two years ago today Mr. Wonderful and I had our first date. It was a delightful evening at The Melting Pot in Pasadena. I thought I might have an email from the actual day, but apparently we were IMing by that point. Here's one of our last exchanges before we met that night...and I was hit with the feeling that I just might fall in love.

I said: Hold the phone - you fix hard drives too?! That might be even hotter than the power tool usage. If I'm nice to you, (I'm batting my eyelashes rapidly right now) can you install a new hard drive into my broken iBook? Haha, that sounds sort of dirty. :) [Please Note: He DID install a new hard drive in my iBook. Swoon.]

Let me add to that with - you got up and went running at 6 a.m.?! Who are you?! I think you really are an international man of mystery or maybe a cyborg. People don't just fix hard drives all night and then wake up mega early to go running unless they're total badasses or partial robots. I spent the night talking on the phone and got up late this a.m. only to wash the dishes I left in the sink last night. Not quite as impressive as your story...

You mentioned Neil Diamond below and now I feel compelled to tell you that I saw him in concert a couple years ago. My sister and I took my mom for her 60th birthday. It was pretty fun - Neil's still got it. I think I heard Sweet Caroline every night I was in Ireland. I don't know if it's just that Caroline's an Irish name or what, but just about every pub performer sang that song.

Don't go picking up on any Hooters waitresses tonight. Oh and polish up your Barry Gibb wig. I expect a serenade on Sunday.

Mr. Wonderful said: Ha, well I need to be a well rounded guy (not just in the belly region either). Did I mention I can write a database and scripting too? And I can take apart my motorcycle engine (not while riding though) and do a complete top end job? Does that do anything for you? I like to be able to do many different things and I get bored if I'm not challenging myself. And yes, I'd totally install your hard drive for you if I were able. I haven't worked on the ibook, only the powerbook. Just make sure I do that before we have drinks. Otherwise well, I can't promise you I won't turn it into a toaster or something like that.

How could you think installing a hard drive sounds a little dirty? Get your mind out of the gutter, woman. You can't try to turn everything into a sexual innuendo. Although I did read your writings, so I understand your constant thought process now.

I have to say, I don't hear The Diamond often enough out and about. I have a good live recording of U2 covering the song. It's amusing and good of course.

I'm staying away from Hooters for a while, so I think they're safe... at least this weekend. Sorry, no Barry wig this weekend. I'll save that for the special occasions. Just like you can't break out the school girl outfit every day. It just loses something, you know?

Of course I would fall for someone who joked around about wearing a '70s Barry Gibb wig for me. That's top-shelf amazing.

Mr. W and I will be ringing in year 2 with a lovely evening of cheese and wine consumption. The lifeblood of our relationship. Happy Anniversary Wonderful Boy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Dog Ate My Blogwork

So yeah…a whole week without blogging. I think it’s been awhile since I’ve done that. But really, it’s not my fault.

I’ve had to spend a lot more time doing other things lately.

Like washing my hands. With all those H1N1 germs floating around, I’ve been much more conscious about lathering up before I touch food or pick leftovers out of my teeth. Takes a lot of spare minutes out of my day.

And my allergies—oh my allergies. After the Muddy Buddy race last weekend, I had the worst allergy attack I’ve ever had in my life. It was miserable. I truly feel for anyone who has to deal with that on a regular basis. Wheezing = sucky. Sneezing every 5-10 minutes = torture. The gigantor pimple I got because the skin around my nose was so dry my sebaceous glands went into overdrive = epic. A huge thank you to Mr. W who let me use his neti pot (now that’s love) in my darkest hour. Anyway, all that noseblowing ate up a lot of my free time.

Then there were the cool Ugandan recycled-paper beads I bought at the Women’s Conference Expo. I just had to use some of my nighttime hours last week to make 6 necklaces out of them.

Some evening hours were also spent counseling a friend who is realizing the importance of finding joy in her everyday life. I was so impressed when I read that fellow blogger, Lesley took a huge leap toward making her work and life more pleasant by quitting a miserable job. I hope my friend can do the same. I know we all have financial obligations, but these are our LIVES. It’s SO not worth it to stay in a job, relationship, or other situation that swallows your happiness from sunrise to sunset. We all deserve to be happy. Every single day.

Speaking of happiness, Mr. Wonderful and I are celebrating our two-year anniversary Wednesday. This means, I’ve also had to spend a lot of time reading old email exchanges we had. Seeing our innocent, flirtatious notes—before I farted on his leg in my sleep; before he’d seen me with ratty hair and morning mascara-raccoon eyes; before I had watched him chase squirrels with the hose in the backyard—it all makes me need to dab my eye.

Dr. Oz is probably the final culprit in my posting procrastination. I record his show every day and feel that expanding my knowledge base to include things like: you shouldn’t hold your poop for more than 3 hours and cats are more likely than dogs to carry MRSA bacteria is way more important than writing about how livid I am that the gay marriage law got repealed in Maine. Or not. I guess I should be writing about important stuff like that…

I’ll go ahead and try to find some more hours in my day(s). But if I come down with Swine Flu, I’m totally blaming the Internet.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Because Dirty Is the Way I Like It


Three half marathons. A couple 5Ks. A climb up Half Dome. Who'd have thought a scrawny kid who couldn't serve a volleyball over a net until 6th grade would ever venture into the world of competitive and challenging outdoor sports? I never would have believed that I'd be doing these things if you had asked me 3 years ago. But here I am.

And this weekend, I took it to a whole new level.

Mr. Wonderful's roommate and his girlfriend signed up to do the Muddy Buddy race in San Dimas, and when I heard the news I decided it would be a fantastic idea for us to join them. This was a couple months ago. And after a mountain bike ride where my performance left Mr. W saying, "I think we're going to have to drop out of the race," I was worried we had made a huge mistake signing up for this crazy relay. Throw in this past week which included a wedding with my family, a (9-hours-of-standing) concert, two days at the Women's Conference and a Murder Mystery party on Friday night—and I was questioning my ability to complete a lap around the living room let alone 6 miles through hilly terrain.


But this morning, we woke up bright and early, ready to face the day. We donned our gear, had some breakfast and then realized that we had forgotten to set the clocks back and we had an hour to spare. Off to a great start... We crawled back into bed and were even more tired when we got up to leave the second time.

Muddy Buddy led us through 5 legs, each of which had one of us running (in the hot sun, up and down hills) and one of us mountain biking. Within the first half mile, we had to wade through thigh-deep water and then carry on with wet shoes and pants. There were obstacle courses at each bike trade-off point, including an under-net crawl, a rock-climb wall, a balance beam, a rope ladder climb (with an awesome slide down the other side) and finally, a crawl through a 10-yard mud pit.



It was EXHAUSTING. But surprisingly fun and a little easier than I expected (thanks to Mr. W's scare tactics). Will we be doing it again next year? No, I think we'll stay home and drink wine and roll around on a bed of shaved Parmesan instead.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Gap Between Tough Love and Sympathy

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about how I relate to others…and I how I seem to be lacking a sympathy gene. I read this very poignant blog post the other day and felt guilty that I could not be as understanding and enlightened as its writer, Mandy.

I am the person who doles out tough love like I have an endless supply. I will tell you to quit crying and find a solution. Figure out how to make your life better. Figure out how to get to the place you want to be. Stop going down the same path again and again and expecting a different result. I don’t think I’m good at comforting…

A friend of mine was telling me yesterday about her broken ex-husband and how he isn’t over her and how she feels sorry for him. Why would anyone feel sorry for him, I thought. He made a series of choices that led him to where he is. He chose to not take responsibility for his life. He chooses to play the victim. No sympathy from me.

And he’s not the only one who doesn’t get it.

Because of this great thing called choice, it’s hard for me to feel sorry for people who—even in the most difficult circumstances—cannot make better choices for themselves. Does it take hard work? Yes. Is it easier to whine and focus on being stuck and unhappy? Yes. But there’s always a new path to be blazed. And unless you’ve exhausted every option and have held yourself fully accountable, I just don’t really feel sorry for you.

But then I flip over to the liberal, bleeding heart side…

I attended a portion of The Women’s Conference of California in Long Beach this week and found myself yearning to be like the remarkable women who received Minerva Awards. This honor is given for work done to improve individual communities and the world. One of this year’s recipients set up a tutoring program for homeless children. Another created a rehab facility for native Americans. Another built a hospice center for dying children and their families. And the last was environmentalist and defender/researcher of the chimpanzee population, Jane Goodall.

Watching these women’s stories made me feel so inspired. What could I be doing to make my world better? How could I reach out and help people? I felt so strongly that I wanted to do something like they had. That I needed to do something.

Why doesn’t this feeling strike me when it comes to the people I know personally? Maybe I hold them to a higher standard? It seems like a big disconnect.

Anyone else out there experience anything similar? Or are you all great sympathizers? And if so, what advice can you give me to be more understanding of the people around me?

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Concert Recap and Thank You Note

Dear Mr. Wonderful,

Thank you for standing in the blazing Pasadena sun with me yesterday to wait in the general admission ticket entrance line for the U2 concert. Thank you for holding it together when people were squished together like sardines, stepping over ditched lawn chairs and piles of garbage, only to get to the turnstiles, receive our GA wristbands, and have our tickets show up as “refunded” when they were scanned.

Thank you for holding my hand as we navigated through thousands of people to get to Will Call to try to solve the problem. Thank you for being supportive when we found out that the friends we’d gone to the concert with not only got in, but got in to the inner circle right in front of the stage. Thank you for helping me keep it together as we had to wait 45 minutes in line, simultaneously trying to talk to StubHub customer service, to figure out whether we’d received fake tickets. Thanks for sighing with relief next to me when we found out our tickets worked.

Thanks for walking all the way around the Rose Bowl back to the floor entrance. And for waiting in another line with me to get a hotdog.

Thanks for being a trooper as people crowded in all around us on the field, the drunk ones starting fist fights with people around us. Thanks for trying to defend me when I chimed in to an argument with a sleezy, white trash intoxicated bitch, letting her know that she hadn’t gotten in line early (and therefore would not be allowed to weave her way through the crowd and get in front of us) only to get backhanded in the face by her. Thank you for smacking her arm away. Thank you for trying to bring my blood back down from a boil, and preventing me from attacking her and getting us kicked out of the show. And thank you for agreeing that I could’ve totally taken her midgety blonde ass down in a heartbeat.

Thank you for also strongarm-escorting me away from her after the show when I wanted to go beat her face in.

Thank you for trying to lift me up when Bono came over to the section of catwalk in front of us. Thank you for flashing your gorgeous dimples at me every time I turned around to look at you during the performance. Thank you for smiling, even though I know you were pretty miserable being sandwiched between hundreds of people there on the floor. Thank you for holding my hand and not telling me to simmer down when I was jumping all around and spazzing out to the music. Thank you for kissing my cheek when “In a Little While” played and reminded us both of Arezzo.

Thank you for being patient when our friends got lost after the concert and we had to wait 45 minutes for them to find the car…after carefully planning an easy-getaway parking route. Thank you for driving us all home safely even though you were tired.

But most of all, thank you for taking such incredibly awesome pictures…







I love you, my most favorite Mr. W.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Work of Art?

For many years now, I have jokingly referred to my face as a Picasso. My eyes aren’t level. My lips are too thin. Nose is crooked. Teeth are way off center. Nothing is quite in the right spot. (And don’t even get me started on my ears…one is literally a quarter inch higher than the other.)

Usually when I make the Picasso joke, Mr. Wonderful shushes me. I’m sure this is just because he doesn’t want his taste in women questioned…

Anyway, back to my teeth. I have effed up teeth. The first one I ever lost as a kid was a molar. I have a baby tooth still hanging in there on one side. And when my parents took me to the orthodontist in 5th grade, they said if they gave me braces, my teeth might fall out. Apparently I have scrawny roots that wouldn’t hold if the teeth attached to them shifted too much. So I had retainers for 5 years. And now I have a little Tom Cruise off-center midline. Most people don’t pay attention to it. And I’ve come to love all my “artistic” flaws, so I don’t mind it much.

However, last week after his dental appointment, Mr. W and I began discussing and investigating each others’ teeth. I noticed for the first time ever that his bottom ones are a little crooked like mine. Cute. Then he started examining my midline and as I tried to explain that I was actually missing two teeth on one side (which might really only be one tooth because the permanent resident baby tooth accounts for the other), he bugged out his eyes and slowly recoiled, pointing his finger at my poor little chicken-lipped mouth moaning, “Exxxtraaa toooooth!”

It was as though he discovered an extra toe. Or an undeveloped tail. Or the severed limbs of my ex-boyfriend in my mouth.

“I’m just missing some on the other side!” I tried to set him straight.

I couldn’t believe the horror in his voice and his inability to get out more than two words to describe the atrocity he was viewing at that moment. It made me want to chase him, shoving my disproportionate chompers in his face, yelling “Eat you! Eat you! Eat you!.”

I was thinking about dressing up as something scary for Halloween. But apparently I’m creepy enough without a costume. And here I was just thinking I was a one-of-a-kind work of art…

Monday, October 19, 2009

I Run

My feet grip the pavement,
Hands grip the air,
My house key.

Stamp. Stamp. Stamp.
Pounding it out.
Sweating it out.
Aching it out.

Ponytail swings in the night
Behind me, propelling
Every worry
Every wonder
Every upset
Every sympathy.
They flit and fly off toward the trees.

And I am free.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Watching a Multi-Car Pile-up

Over the last several months or year, I feel like I’ve been standing on the edge of a freeway. Cars are zooming into view, some are spinning out of control, and no matter how much I scream, “Slow down! Go a different direction! Steer IN to the skid!” no one can hear me. There’s nothing I can do to stop any of it. Nothing I can do to help. Nothing I can do but watch the cars collide and stack on top of one another.

Since I can’t prevent the accidents, I try to set up a triage station. I try to help the injured and guide them back to places where maybe they’ll feel better. But I think most of them just nod and walk away with wounds gaping. They will get back into their cars bruised and broken and maybe they will go out and get into a dozen more accidents.

It’s hard to watch. It makes me wonder if crashing is inevitable.

It makes me wonder if marriage is really just an out-of-control vehicle that’s destined to hit walls and hurt people. It makes me wonder if we’re keeping an institution on life support that should be allowed to pass away quietly. It makes me wonder if it is at all possible to stay on a safe, sturdy path and not flip upside-down if you choose to say “I do.”

Even the marriages that look healthy and happy on the outside raise questions. Maybe there are things we don’t see. Maybe someone is hiding something. I don’t know. I don’t know if people stay together because they’re afraid to be alone—or if being together really is gratifying.

My parents have a marriage I’d like to model fairly closely. I have no memories of big, terrible fights. Nobody ever called each other names or walked out on one another. Nobody questioned their feelings. Or maybe they did, and I just never knew.

It seems like there are steps you can take to avoid going off course and smacking into a line of trees. It seems like the accidents should be preventable. That if you truly, honestly, 100% respect each other, and you’re truly 100% passionate about each other, and you’re truly 100% certain of who you are as an individual, maybe just maybe you can forge a life together that works. But I just don’t know.

I don’t want to lose my faith in the idea of marriage. But typing that makes me think, is it really I who doesn’t want to lose faith, or has society conditioned me to think I should keep the faith. How much of what we all think and feel is based on antiquated notions of the way things should be?

As much as friends and family tell me how they can’t wait to see me engaged, I hear them make sarcastic remarks like, “this is what you have to look forward to,” and even, “you should just be smart and become a lesbian.”

Is it possible anymore to have a good marriage? Was it ever possible? Or does the majority of the population just not know what they’re missing? Do they stay in situations because they think they’re supposed to—or that what they have is as good as it gets, when really there might be something out there a million times better.

I don’t know. I don’t know anything. I just know that it’s incredibly hard to watch the people around me keep crashing. It’s hard not to wonder if one day I’ll skid into the pile-up, too.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Thong Pox on My House

As if I don’t have enough else to keep me occupied, I’ve been dealing with a thong pox on my house. How do I know it’s a thong pox? Allow me to present the evidence.

Incident A: The laundry room
Several years ago, a dear friend of mine bought me a silky, black thong from Victoria’s Secret that says “Angel” in rhinestones across the front of it. Considering what a chaste and pious individual I am, I know you find that fitting. But I think it’s kind of trashy and funny.

About two weeks ago, I was doing laundry in our communal facility when I looked up and saw said thong folded on one of the shelves above the dryer. Couldn’t have been a nice, tame white cotton one. Nope, had to be my stripper underwear. And I’m sure it was the 79-year-old two doors down who found it hiding in the dryer. Very embarrassing.

Incident B: The bathroom
Shortly after finding the Angel thong out in the great wide open, my apartment became overrun with ants. They got into the cat food. They were coming out of the bathtub faucet. They were in my linen closet. And the day I left a heap of dirty clothes lying on my bathroom sink, I came home to find my thong covered in ants. SO freaking sick.

Incident C: The hallway
I wear flip-flops to work a lot. So much that I get teased about it. What can I say, I’m a California girl. Anyway, I was sporting my favorite black thongy thongs last week when I unknowingly bounced down the hallway and stepped in a pile of cat barf. Nothing better to come home to after a long day at the office. It was dark, I didn’t see it, and as I flipped on the bathroom light and hopped toward the tub to wash the shoe, I noticed the puke was covered in ANTS. Super fun. There is an ant man coming today to spray under my apartment.

Incident D: The kitchen
Sunday night after enjoying a lovely 2nd birthday celebration for my youngest niece, Mr. W and I stopped by my apartment to grab a couple things before heading back to his house. I was racing into the kitchen to get the frozen panna cotta (DELISH, I tell you) I bought at Trader Joe’s, when one of my favorite flip-flops from the story above came unhooked from its sole and flew off my foot. They were only $7 at H&M but I looove them and was very sad that they might not see another day.

Thankfully, I performed surgery on the broken shoe last night and was able to repair it. And I have made a mental note to triple check the washer and dryer when cleaning any undergarments. I’m hoping these activities will undo the pox. However, if they don’t work, I am prepared to consider switching to ballet flats and granny panties.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It All Started with a Toilet in the Backseat


This past weekend, Mr. W and I ventured to beautiful, exotic Fresno, California where he purchased a house to flip. Bright and early Saturday morning, we made the drive up the 5 freeway with a brand new toilet in the backseat of the Beemer. I wanted to sit on it, but Mr. W didn’t think I’d fit back there.

We made a quick stop at an outlet mall because, well, why wouldn’t we? And then it was over the train tracks to the new house. Ain’t it purdy?



It’s a foreclosure Mr. W bought for no money on auction. The people living in it totally trashed it and then signed it over to a colony of cockroaches. And this dried up frog that was in one of the bedroom closets.



Needless to say, I did a lot of squealing while we were working on it. And for the record: spraying Raid directly on a roach does not kill it on contact. I actually had a cockroach nightmare last night as a result of all the exposure…



The house is a great buy, though, and I know it’s going to look amazing when he’s done with it. Even just hanging a new door in the front made a difference.



The evening and next morning were spent at his dad and stepmom’s place, which was pretty much like agricultural Disneyland. In addition to the two miniature horses below, they have two dogs, three cats (one is a kitten that I wanted to sneak home in my purse), three rabbits, a chicken and a rooster.



They have 3 acres of land that feels a bit like a resort and a farm rolled in to one. It was a nice escape from Rancho Roacho.



I’m pleased to say that no one saw me in my underwear (well, except those intended to see me that way) and I got along swimmingly with stepmom, who I hadn’t met before. I’ll definitely post some progress pictures as the house comes along. But until then, I have about 4,587 other things to get caught up on in my life. And I have to go drink wine and eat chocolate tonight.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Gives?

The plates are spinning fast right now. I’ve been trying to keep them all balanced on their spires, but it seems like every day a new one topples to the ground.

When I was in college, I worked 2 jobs and did an internship my last semester of school. I don’t know how I did this. Between homework and commuting and maintaining a social life, it’s a wonder I found any time to sleep. But somehow back then, I was able to manage it all with a degree of ease I seem to have lost with age.

Now there are too many little saucers that jump in and take precedence over the dinner plates. Like Facebook and fall TV premiers. Even with Tivo, I keep letting those damn shows eat up my time—and I let things like exercise fall to the floor. Last night, instead of working out, I watched The Biggest Loser…ah the irony.

Work has been crazy, and I think that might have some sort of strange psychological effect that makes me rebelliously lazy when I actually get home. I know I should be checking in with friends, working on writing projects, completing travel scrapbooks, sweating off my summer muffin top and reading the magazines and books that have taken over my nightstand—but it seems like by the time I eat dinner, chat with Mr. W, watch some TV and do the dishes it’s bedtime.

This is also why my blogging has been sporadic. Every night, I mean to lay down some words. And every night, I get distracted by other things. My To Do List keeps getting recycled from one week to the next with names of friends I need to contact, short stories that need to be finished and overdue chores. I can’t seem to find the time to finish those, or write blog posts, or watch the Netflix copy of Cabaret that’s been in my cabinet for a month.

I probably need to reprioritize. Focus on the big stuff instead of the little. It worries me that if I don’t do it now, I’ll be a wreck if I ever have to run a household full of other people someday.

How do you all do it?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Grade A Choices

Working in advertising, one learns pretty quickly that most people are afraid to make decisions. Taking risks and trying new things is great and can really move a brand forward, but if your target audience doesn’t like it, you could end up screwed. Both routes of choice seem scary. So options get weighed. Every little detail gets scrutinized. And usually the end result doesn’t really feel like a “decision” but a mish-mash of security blankets stitched together to allay everyone’s fears.

I understand the fear of making decisions. Before I bought my car, I talked about it for around a year. I researched at least a dozen different makes and models—analyzing cost of ownership and comfort and finances. And finally one day, sort of out of the blue, I decided to go look on a local lot. I bought the car on the spot, totally not intending to do so.

When it comes to most things, I’m snap decision maker. And even though I deliberated forever on the car, when it came down to it, I made a pretty snap decision. I would rather move ahead! cross it off the list! just do it! and deal with the consequences later, whatever they may be.

I wonder what the world would be like if we all did this more often. If everyone decided to decide. No more limbo or mish-mashes. Just hardcore decisions. This is just speculation, but I think we might all live much richer, more interesting lives.

Friday, September 18, 2009

He’s Just That Into You

I watched He’s Just Not That into You last night and found myself thinking again how helpful it would have been to read that book when I was oh, about 12. So many glaring warning signs might have been acknowledged if I’d been able to apply HJNTIY to my assessment of various dating situations.

The funny thing about the movie vs. the book, though, is that it shows resolutions after turmoil. Guys who seem not to be into girls end up coming around. So it sort of contradicts or raises questions about the book…

It also got me to thinking about the ways you know he IS into you. Sometimes he doesn’t do the normal things he’s supposed to—but the things he does do make you feel in your heart of hearts that he’s all in.

He may say he’s not ready to be exclusive yet…but he’ll spend every weekend with only you. He may wait to call you his girlfriend for what feels like forever…but you’ll be the first person he tells when something exciting happens and the first person he invites when an event comes up. He may not say I love you right away…but he’ll show it in the way he kisses your cheeks and hands at random. He may not know what sort of future he wants with you…but he’ll take the initiative, on his own, to find a professional to help him figure it out.

His actions may not fit in the stereotypical what-he’s-supposed-to-do box. But he’ll show you in his own unique ways that he is in love. He’ll show you that he’s just that into you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

In Appreciation of All That Is Good

As an opinionated and often snappy person, I don’t always stick to the age-old parental commandment, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” Sometimes I just can’t help but let something snarly slip.

However, the older I get, the easier it is to bite my tongue. Who am I to judge? Why should I be spewing negativity into the universe? Don’t I have better things to do with my time?

Given this mindset, I find it amazing whenever I read comments that personally attack blog writers. Dooce has actually created an entire website filled with the nasty comments and hate mail she receives. When I saw her link to it, I couldn’t help but take a look—and I immediately found myself wondering, Who are these people? And why do they feel the need to be so mean? Honestly, I don’t get it. I don’t get how they think they are doing any good by expressing their vicious viewpoints.

I’ve been pretty fortunate with this little blog here. I have received comments that upset me before, but only one was downright mean. For the most part, I am graced with good advice and heartfelt understanding. And in some ways, this amazes me just as much as the awful-comment phenomenon does.

I mean, there are several of you who I’ve never met (or rarely see) and yet you take time out of your days to have dialogues with me about my life. Not just comment conversations either—but long, thoughtful email exchanges and detailed IM volleys. Seriously, how cool is that?

This week, in particular, I’ve had several great chats with some different folks and I just feel so lucky to have insight and caring coming from so many places. It makes me want to put more of it back into the world.

So thank you, readers. There may not be hundreds of you, but I’d take quality over quantity any day. Thank you for your time and your thoughtfulness. Thank you for making this blog a more positive place.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

When Life Gives You Dingleberries, Make…Travel DVDs

The past two days have started off pretty crappy. Literally. If you don’t want to read about poo, now would be the time to visit a different blog.

Yesterday morning, I rushed home from Mr. Wonderful’s house only to discover that I’d left my makeup bag in his bathroom. Thankfully, when I dumped my overnight bag onto the living room floor, my deodorant and hairbrush fell out. But I was forced to scavenge through my cupboards to find old makeup substitutes, and I had to blend my eyeshadow with a paintbrush.

Still rattled from running late and having to be innovative too early in the morning, I was more horrified than normal to discover something brown on the handle of my hairbrush… I wiped it off with a tissue and, being my mother’s daughter, took a whiff in attempt to identify the substance. Then I screamed and threw the brush into the sink, washed and sanitized it and scrubbed my hands like I was going in to surgery. How in the hell did poo get on my hairbrush handle? Seriously!!!!

I checked the only culprits in the house (Cat One and Cat Two) and could find no evidence on either of them. I looked through my overnight bag and found nothing in there…or on the shoes that were in the bag…or on the carpet next to the bag. It’s like a ghost appeared in my apartment, wiped his butt on my brush and flew away.

Needless to say, it wasn’t the best way to start the day.

So this morning, when I walked down the hallway to brush my teeth before work and saw a skidmark(!) on the carpet I almost ran from the apartment never to return. What the hell is going on with my life and poo???

I am now convinced that there is some sort of bad karmic payback or that my crappy attitude is finally starting to attract actual fecal matter into my life. What you put out comes back, right? This is not good.

And no, I didn’t somehow turn the dingleberries into DVDs like one would turn lemons into lemonade. It just seems that working on my trip DVD is the brightest (and poop-free-est) part of my day lately. If you have a Mac computer, I highly recommend iMovie and iDVD. Great ways to showcase your favorite photos…and forget about all the sh*t going on around you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Untitled

I found out last Thursday that a friend’s husband had taken his own life the day before. I’ve never known someone who committed suicide, and never would have expected this person to be the first. I don’t have words for how broken my heart is for this family. I cannot imagine the pain that led him to do what he did, nor the pain she is feeling now.

Hearing about this rocked my perspective. Suddenly this massive awareness about how short life can be and how much every moment needs to be cherished settled upon me. I wanted to reach out my arms and gather every person I know to tell them that they are special and necessary and important. Tell them that nothing could matter more than having them in this world. And that they would always be okay and taken care of even if they lost everything they owned. I wish there was a way to ensure that everyone believed this.

This perspective got me thinking about my impatience with Mr. Wonderful and how ridiculous I was being, letting myself get down about our seeming relationship standstill. When every day here is so precious, I should be doing nothing other than enjoying him and celebrating what we have.

But Saturday night I found myself caught in another emotional discussion about why we haven’t moved forward. Kids, kids, kids. He’s waiting for the epiphany that will tell him he really does want kids. I’m not sure that epiphany will—or even can—come until he is holding his own child in his arms. To him, that’s too big of a risk. He said he wakes up every day with this on his mind. Every day, he wonders what to do.

And I wonder if there needs to be any wondering at all. It’s making me crazy that I can’t just keep Thursday’s perspective in my head all the time and know that what matters most is the joy we experience when we’re together. What matters most is that I have him in my life. I get so worked up about “having a life with him” when, in reality, it’s already here. And because no one knows what the future holds for any of us, I should really embrace that life.

It’s like there’s a knowing parent and a spoiled child fighting inside my head. And every time someone makes a remark about how I need to get married and have kids, that spoiled child grows louder.

I want to pay attention to the knowing voice. I want to make the most of every moment and believe that things will work out the way they are supposed to; when they are supposed to. I want to remember that things could change drastically in an instant.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

In the Presence of Sizzle


Meeting up with a fellow blogger can feel a little like embarking on an Internet date or meeting someone famous. In some respect, we're all each other's fans—so the thought of actually seeing one another face-to-face is sort of a thrill.

Tonight, as I drove to a sushi restaurant not far from work, I had a bit of a butterfly-filled stomach. I was going to meet THE Miss Sizzle. I've been reading her blog for quite some time and I see her all over the blogosphere. She seems to know everyone, and everyone seems to know her, and in my book that makes you a celebrity. I was prepared to ask for her autograph when I sat down.

The difference between great bloggers like Sizz and celebrities, however, is that there's no way they are as cool as she was. The word that comes to mind is "captivating." She has this great energy that makes you feel like you've known her forever but that you also want to know more. She is a fabulous storyteller—the kind who doesn't leave out a single (juicy) detail. And her fashion sense...get out. I felt like Holly Hobby next to her in her sassy purple dress.

But one of the best things about her was that her friends were equally cool. You can tell a lot about people by who their friends are. I love when I meet someone's friend for the first time and they are warm and welcoming and funny. It just reaffirms everything good I know about the original person. I remember thinking that about Mr. W when I met his friends. They're all good people. Good people attract good people. It's a delightful phenomenon, really.

Sizzle's clan was a blast, and I particularly enjoyed chatting with another fellow blogger who writes this blog. Great guy.

Hopefully this night is just one of many spent with new friends from the vast reaches of Internet space.

Coated

There are some days when I walk out to my car and, upon hitting the daylight, notice such an abundance of cat hair all over my clothes that it's a wonder PETA doesn't throw buckets of red paint on me for wearing fur.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Getting Back on Track

Last week I was really feeling like my happiness train had careened right over the railroad ties and was off-roading through the weeds. But I’m glad to say, I think wheels have re-met with track and the ride is feeling smoother.

Friday night, the joy and optimism started to creep back in. I met one of my favorite friends in Hollywood and immediately felt a sense of “home” as we walked up Sunset to grab some pre-film food at Baja Fresh. Then we saw David Schwimmer on the street and I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy and starstruck. I saw Matthew Perry a few months back, so now I’m determined to run into the other 4 various Friends at some point in my life. Mr. W has seen Jennifer before, so maybe I’ll count that and up my tally to 3 out of 6.

Anywhoo…my girlfriend and I went to see Julie and Julia, and I just cannot recommend this movie enough. For anyone who has felt lost or frustrated with life, (hi, ALL OF US) you’ll absolutely relate to it and might even feel a reignited desire to do something about it. If you’re a blogger, it’ll warm your heart even more.

Saturday, Mr. W and I attended a friend’s wedding and I was reminded of all the reasons I love him so. We laughed and danced (only to slow songs—I’m still working on luring out his inner Tony Manero) and being dressed up made us feel special and romantic. He even whispered to me late in the night that I was the prettiest girl at the wedding. It doesn’t get much more adorable than that.

Sunday I had breakfast in Long Beach with two of my dearest friends, and we covered all sorts of important topics like who had tried KY Yours & Mine and whether or not people pee after sex every time. (Mom, I didn’t contribute to the conversation, just listened.)

After that, Mr. W and I took my parents to a wine tasting class. They were the oldest people there and probably the most entertaining. My dad kept fretting that there would be a test at the end of the class, and when we had to go around the room introducing ourselves, my mom said her “sign” was “Grandma.” Despite some initial discomfort in the unfamiliar setting, they ended up having a great time.

Monday started off just right with a hike in the Hollywood hills and a trip to the farmer’s market. I love days like that. We bought some chicken, picked some corn and tomatoes that Mr. W’s roommate grew in the backyard this summer and plan to have a gorgeous summer barbecue tonight. We also made chocolate-espresso semifredo for dessert and when Mr. W gave me a taste of it a little while ago I almost had to smoke a cigarette out the window after swallowing. It was THAT good.

I’m hoping the train stays on this track for awhile because I’m quite enjoying the current scenery.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Confessions

When I was in Richmond, I watched The Hills every day. Despite the vapid personalities and scripted fashionista drama, I found it comforting to join the cast as they cavorted around the streets of Hollywood. It was sunny in their world when it was raining in mine.

I tend to turn to TV shows for comfort like that. When I was single, it was Sex and the City. When Mr. Wonderful was away, it was Entourage (and Adrian’s hair).

The thing I realized since being back, though, is that the low-grade depression I channeled into boob tube watching while he was gone, and again when I was abroad, is still here. It hasn’t reached real fever pitch, but it’s enough to keep me not feeling well. We’re going on 9 months, here. This isn’t good.

When I look inside and yank dusty sheets off the mirrors and furniture, I can see the problem pretty clearly. It was here last year, too, but somehow I covered everything up and was able to forget about it.

However, when you brew daydreams and expectations together for half a year, I guess the steam makes shrouds fall away. Realizing the meal you’ve been craving needs to simmer for a year or 5 more before you can eat makes you cranky and hungry and sad.

And then there are the well-meaning question askers. The ones who want what you want but seem to just make it all harder to handle. My brother asked me if I was engaged when I came home from Paris in April. My brother-in-law asked when he saw me last week. Friends hint in their emails. It’s like everyone is waiting, cheering silently from the sidelines but I can’t seem to win the game for them. Or myself.

Be in the moment. Enjoy the process. Thank your lucky stars that you at least found him. I know. I KNOW. I want to recapture that mindset and just chill out. But I’m 33 and our 2-year anniversary is in November and I really thought going to live with him in the UK would unleash some sort of new understanding about what was important and where we should be heading together.

Instead, I listen tight-lipped as he talks about the changes he wants to make to his house—the one he shares with his roommate. Trying to hold in the sideways comments and sarcastic quips that don’t reflect the person I want to be.

And how can I even demand forward movement when he just got home from months in another country? He still has boxes to unpack and I’m over here wanting a teeny tiny Tiffany’s box. Pretty effed up, huh?

I was talking to a friend about it recently and I asked her how she handled waiting as long as she did for her boyfriend to propose. “I went to grad school,” she said. Maybe it’s time for me to go get that English Lit degree I thought about in my early twenties…

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation


I don’t know if I ever had to write a summer vacation essay as a kid. If I did, I would have written about swimming and playing on the shores of Lake Powell with my family and all of our friends. Carefree. Secure. A tradition for 12 years of my life. Sometimes I miss vacations like that. The trips that take you around the world, in a tumble of train schedules and early morning flights and religious art and surreal architecture can be exhausting. But here are a few things I learned from that kind of vacationing:

People are generally good. Mr. Wonderful and I had several instances where we got lost or momentarily displaced, and more than once complete strangers approached us and tried to help. Even if they couldn’t speak our language, they attempted to communicate with us and help us figure out which Metro ticket to buy or which direction to go to get to our destination.

Someone should always investigate how you’ll be traveling from the airport/train station/metro stop to the hotel. Otherwise, you waste lots of time trying to figure out where you are and where you need to be. (See above).

Parks are wonderful places to read and people watch. I never go to the park at home. I always think I’m going to take a book and go sit in a botanical garden or along a hiking trail, and then something comes up. But when I was away, I did this several times and it was lovely and relaxing. I enjoyed hearing the breeze rustle my pages. I smiled as I watched toddlers run around the grass and giggle at their mommies. I paid attention to flowers and squirrels. I need to do this on a more regular basis.

Spiders like riverbanks. We walked down to a bench on the Thames one night to have a glass of wine and watch the sunset, and both of us shuddered as we looked up at the streetlamp and saw it absolutely filled with big, burly spiders. Mr. W thinks they hang out close to the river (and in houses on the river) because there are more bugs there to eat. I do not miss this about Richmond…

Wheat beer just tastes good. I have a acquired a new love of Hoegaarden and hefeweizen. They’re light and gingery and delicious.

Carrying a backpack in 95° heat is not for me. I knew I had “temperature issues”—meaning I get cold very fast and hot very fast. My internal thermometer is extremely sensitive. And it’s connected to my temperament gauge. Hot and sweaty = grouchy. Especially when carrying luggage and walking to or from a train station. I actually had a moment where I thought, “Is this what it’s going to feel like to be pregnant? Like there’s this awful thing attached to me that’s making me hot and tired and cranky and I CAN’T GET IT OFF?” If so, I may hire a surrogate some day...

When it comes to the weather and your hair, there’s no use in fighting. This is a hard lesson, especially if you have mega spastic twangy hair that is usually somewhat behaved in your home climate. You want it to be like it is at home…but you should really just accept that it’s not going to behave and try to pull off a wavy do or just wear it in braids.

It’s always smart to have a variety of medication on hand. You never know when someone is suddenly going to feel like their head or intestinal tract is going to explode. It’s good to be prepared for every scenario.

The one time you leave your camera at home, you’ll wish you hadn’t. There will always be something you wish you could’ve taken a picture of, and if you’re trying to cram in a lot of sights, you may never make it back to the one you missed.

If it’s going to result in a new life experience, spend the money. Shelling out cash can be a crapshoot. Sometimes it’s worth it (like the one-on-one wine tasting and regional information class we took in Beaune) sometimes it’s not (like the guided tour we took through the hills of vineyards). But you’ll always come away having seen something new.

TripAdvisor can be extremely handy. If you’re researching hotels or looking for a good restaurant, it’s a great resource.

Try to savor every moment because when you get home, it could all feel like a dream. A dream that took months to plan and minutes to pass. A dream that was different than you expected, but one you’d be happy to relive. A dream that leaves you wishing you were still sleeping.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Perspective on Our Existence


It’s amazing to me how people band together in times of tragedy. We see the big picture suddenly, and difference in opinion, lifestyle, belief systems and more just melt away. We recognize that we are humans—encountering the same joy and the same suffering. We are the same.

If only we could hold onto that perspective.

A friend at work was telling me recently about a BBC special where the host of Top Gear goes up in a U-2 spy plane. Flying at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, he finds himself on the verge of tears. He says it is both thrilling and humbling, and that if every person in the world could experience what he had, it would profoundly affect religious and political views.

This planet is ours to keep and care for. We’re all stuck here together on it living overlapping lives. Coexisting with each other and with nature. It’s our job to maintain that coexistence. It’s our job to protect it and make it better for future generations. It’s our job to band together, whether in the face of tragedy or not. I wish there were a way for everyone to see how fragile and precious life here on this earth is. And I wish we’d start taking better care of it and one another.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Crying for My Mountains


The Station Fire in Southern California is burning in the mountains behind my house. The picture above was taken from my street. These are the mountains I hike in. The ones that have been facing me my whole life—the view from my parents' kitchen; the view from my driveway. The mountains that provide a sense of comfort and security.



That's a tanker plane doing a drop. The fire has been burning since Wednesday, but it thrashed down my side of the mountain like a wild man today. We have friends who have been evacuated. My brother, a firefighter, and dad, a wannabe firefighter, are way up the hill with a dear family friend, standing watch on his house. They cannot get down the hill, but they have a plan in place in case they become surrounded. They want to save the gorgeous million-dollar home—the home to 5 daughters and many memories.



That's the view from my street earlier today. It's not as close as it looks. My apartment is not in danger. But other homes in the area are for sure. I cannot imagine packing my things to evacuate. I cannot imagine making the decision what to take and what to leave. Photo albums. Computers. Souvenirs from traveling. Maybe some books. I cannot imagine locking the door behind me not knowing if I'd be able to return.



As I was driving home from Pasadena today, and I saw the clouds and flame from a distance I burst into tears. It looked like a warzone to me. This dark cloud pitted against bright blue summer sky. I started to think about everything getting scorched. The wildlife being destroyed. It breaks my heart. My mom told me a coyote wandered into the front yard this afternoon and I almost lost it.



I've heard rumors that they suspect this to be arson. Arsonists should be tried in court as terrorists as far as I'm concerned. This is striking terror in an entire community. I hope to God they get a handle on it soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reentering the Atmosphere


I felt sick as the plane was descending. My head was throbbing and my stomach ached. I thought maybe I’d picked up a European bug, but it seemed to just be exhaustion settling into all my cells.

The air was smudged with smog or maybe the creeping smoke from a summer forest fire. Not like the sky in Germany. Not polka dotted with cotton candy clouds like in Richmond.

When I came through the front door, I expected the felines to be waiting eagerly. Instead, I had to hunt them down in the bedroom. They seemed to have forgotten my scent and my purpose in their life.

It felt good to drive a car again, although the familiarity of the roads fogged the glass around the past 6 weeks. The drive to work was a Groundhog Day morning. Suddenly it was as if the last month and a half was a dream. Everything was back to normal. Everything was as it should be. Nothing had changed.

Cursed by expectations again. When I left, I expected some grand transformation of person, relationship, outlook on life. Instead, I simply discovered that I don’t like the rain or spiders or heavy luggage. I prefer the consistency of Southern California weather and I enjoy grocery stores that stay open 24 hours. No epiphanies. Just a new awareness of some things taken for granted.

The same proved true when I landed back home. Like how you think you’ll suddenly feel like a woman the first time you get your period. I just felt like me. Except crankier and a bit more tired.

Desperate to effect some sort of change in my life, I started rearranging things in my apartment. Purging vases, packing away picture frames, restacking books. Mr. Wonderful cleaned out his closet. We must have been sharing a similar feeling. But despite the new plant pots and reorganized kitchen countertop, it’s still my same old place.

I’m not sure what my next move should be. I wonder if this is how it feels when you get married or have a baby. All those months of planning, anticipating, expecting. And then it happens and you try to slow down each moment and burn it in your memory. But the next day, that’s all it is. A memory. And you’re still the same old you.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bonjour Beaune

Friends, I'm still feeling lazy when it comes to this little baby blog. I'm jet lagged, adjusting to being home, and about ready to go eat some grilled peaches with Mr. W. So all you get right now are some pictures of the beautiful, sweeping landscapes of Beaune, France. Although it was hot as blazes in the Burgundy region, we thoroughly enjoyed the little town of Beaune and its many outlets for wine tasting. In fact, we may have purchased about $1000 worth of wine...but shipping alone was $250. I hope it's good!


Me cracking up at Mr. W as he balanced our mini-tripod on a trashcan and almost lost it inside. Nice sunset, huh?


The Caveau des Arches where we had a delicious steak dinner.


Another cavernous place we visited—this time for a wine tasting.


Mmmmm old French wine...


Driving through the vineyards along the Cote de Beaune.


It was so hot, butt sweat was running down my leg as I took this. Seriously. Le butt sweat no bon.


Indulging my crazy cat lady when a little kitty came peeking in our hotel room window.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

German Eye Candy


I'm in Burgundy, France right now...getting ready to go guzzle some yummy French wine...but I thought in case anyone was still looking at my blog, I'd post a few quick pictures from the past 4 days. Mr. Wonderful and I were in Munich and Berlin, Germany. Both were stunning in their own ways. Both were immaculate. And the German people: I adore them. What a great country! That's the Bavarian countryside above, by the way...


A Bavarian castle outside of Munich - I believe it's spelled Neuschwanstein.


A palace built by the same royal figure who built the castle above.


Oh yeah baby—dinner at the biergarten!


One of the perfectly manicured parks in Munich. A truly lovely city.


Berlin Wall memorial outside Postdamer Platz.


The Holocaust Memorial


Some sweet German architecture. Mr. W was in love with it.

That's all I got right now. Travel weariness has taken its toll on me and I need a glass of wine the size of my head. Hopefully, more pics to come...