Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Birthday Story with a Hobo Twist

There is really small Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake that my dad found and that we all thoroughly enjoy now, so, when my mom asked where I would like to go to dinner for my b-day, I said “Casita Del Campo.”

We went and the food was delicious and the margaritas strong, as usual. I ate too much and felt a little sick and tired afterward, which is the true way to know you’ve had a great meal.

On the way home, there is weird turn you have to make in order to go underneath a bridge to get to the freeway. Sitting on the divider of the strange turn was a homeless man. Not a rare sight in Los Angeles, but he had a sign that said, “Why Lie? I want a beer!”

I kept watching him while looking for a few dollar bills to give him and I realize he’s working ON A LAPTOP!! Then, he picks up a PDA and sets it down next to the laptop. Most normal people would this was wholly unacceptable because what the hell kind of homeless person has a laptop and a PDA (and a cell phone, as l later found out). Not me. I thought it was great!

As we make the turn I say, “Dad, let’s go the liquor store and buy him a beer and bring it to him and take a picture with him for my birthday!” To my surprise, my dad pulls over at the next liquor store! We make my mom go buy the beer and she walks out with a tall can of MGD. “It was only $2.25 for the 24 ounce can, so I figured that’s what I should get.”

We pull back around and pull up across the street. I look up and say, “Umm…Dad. There is no crosswalk…How do we get over there?”

“We run like hell.” I’m in heels mind you.

We sprint across the street and come up to the guy. I hand him the beer and say, “I liked your sign so much that I went and bought you a beer. But you can only have it if you take a picture with me.” He laughed, picked up his sign and posed for the picture.

But the best part is when he starts to ask me what I do for a living and go on about how he’s doing his “paperwork for the Oval Office” and that people call him “Number 52” because “52 is the number of everything.” 52 cards in a deck, 52 weeks in a year, something about Jesus was the number 52. I don’t really know.

Dad and I go sprinting back across the street and hop into the car, where Mom is giggling and calling us crazy. Dad pulls through the 76 station to make an illegal U-turn and who should be on the other side but about 6 of Glendale’s finest! They were too busy having their powwow to notice the red car with the three people laughing hysterically.

Now that’s the way you should spend your b-day. Doing something illegal, stupid and kind of offensive with your parents. Classic.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Top Ten Ways to Prevent Something Gross From Being Done to Your Drink

I was at work today and, as usual, I’ve decided that I completely agree with House. People are idiots. So, in order to help all of you not be so damn stupid, I am going to list all the common idiotic behaviors and tell you what you should do instead.

1. It’s so damn simple. BE NICE!!!! I’m not saying you need to listen to your barista tell you her life story, but when she says, “How are you today?” don’t just look at her like she’s inconveniencing you. Say, “I’m good. I”ll have a….” So simple.

2. It’s perfectly fine to have a complicated drink. What’s not ok is to have a complicated drink that you don’t tell the person at the register. I can’t tell you how many times a day people will order something basic, a latte let’s say, and then walk over to the bar and say “Oh, can I have that decaf? With nonfat milk? And no foam? With only one shot?” In my head, I say, “ You dumb bitch. No, you’re getting regular with heavy cream and extra foam” but out loud, I say, “Sure, no problem.” Because I have to.

3. On those same lines, do not have a super complicated drink and then quiz the barista about it. “Is it nonfat? No foam? Decaf?” Yes, you stupid fuck. I just called all that out and now you’re asking me to repeat it again? Pay attention the first time and then you won’t have to worry about it.

4. Another so simple one: PAY ATTENTION. Names are put on cups for a reason, so DO NOT WALK UP THE BAR AFTER “BOB” HAS BEEN CALLED OUT AND ASK “IS THAT MY DRINK?” IF YOUR NAME IS STEPHANIE. No, it’s not your drink. Yes, sometimes the names are misheard, but usually it is easy to figure out that, whoops, “Bob” should have been “Rob.” If your name wasn’t put on your cup, then pay attention to the drink the barista calls out.

5. The next is know what you order and NEVER walk up and say “Is this mine?” I HAVE NO FRACKING CLUE IF THAT IS YOURS BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE FUCK YOU ORDERED. Instead, say, “Is this my nonfat latte?”

6. Ok, I know that we screw up drinks. Remember that everyone is human and, sometimes, we have been up since 4 a.m. and are suffering from sleep deficiency. The proper way to handle this is to say, “Excuse me, but I asked for 2 extra pumps and this doesn’t taste right.” Say it very nicely without attitude and be understanding about it. You have every right to be angry that your drink wasn’t made correctly the first time, but the more angry you get at us, the more fucked up that drink will be. Just because you’re staring at me watching make your drink doesn’t mean I don’t know how to screw with it. Not that I ever would. Hypothetically.

7. PICK UP YOUR SHIT. There are trash cans all over the place, so rather than leaving your empty cups and newspapers on the table, drop them in the trash can on your way out. Your mom doesn’t work here and won't pick up after you. I ain't your mama either, so I will hate you for the rest of the time you come to my store if you don't pick up after yourself. This also goes for spilling sugar on the condiment bar and not cleaning it up or dropping something on the ground and leaving.

8. TURN THE VOLUME OF YOUR CONVERSATION DOWN. I’m telling you, if I hear one more conversation about whether or not that girl's boobs are real or that you have some sort of rash on your “hidden areas and aren’t sure which guy” you got it from, I’m going to give my opinion. (Yes, both of those have been real conversations I overheard.)

9. DO NOT MOCK, CLOWN, HATE ON, OR TALK SHIT ABOUT THE PERSON SERVING YOU FOOD. Especially when she can hear you. It makes an already thankless job even worse and it is what causes bad customer service. If you go everywhere and everyone treats you badly, it’s not them. It’s you.

10. DO NOT COMMENT ON THE PRICES OR HOW LONG THE LINE IS. We cannot control the prices, so don’t complain to me. I agree that it’s expensive but you’re choosing to spend $5 on a drink, so just accept it and move on. Same with the line. If you walk in and there are 10 people in front of you, realize that there is going to be wait. You’re choosing to get in line and wait for a drink, so if you don’t wanna wait, go to 7-11.

That’s it. It’s simple and easy to have a good experience. Then, when someone is truly rude to you and you have done nothing, you can do what I do: make a scene.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Books, sunshine, writers and lectures: what more could I ask for?

It’s Saturday and a beautiful, clear 75 degrees outside. So what do I do?

Go to the LA Times Festival of Books of course!

I had planned on going for quite sometime, mainly because, well, it’s a festival of BOOKS! But then I found out that there would be a lot of great writers and publishers there, so I got even more excited.

It was held at UCLA and, even though I’ve been to UCLA more times than I can tell you, I realized today that I had never really seen it. The buildings are beautiful and, although the campus is huge, it was easy to get around and find my way. (Plus, there were no major hills, like at the better UC up north) It was the perfect venue to hold a festival like this and it made me miss school a lot.

The first panel I went to was called “Fiction: the Re-imagination of a Life.” Now, I’m not a fiction writer. I wouldn’t say that I suck at writing fiction, but I could name a few who would. But I am always curious to learn new and interesting ways to write, so this seemed like a great place to start. The panelists were people I had never heard of, but am now interested in reading. They brought up a lot of good points about character and theme and I got a few ideas for some fiction I might one day actually sit down and write.

Then I did the less intellectual part of my journey. I went to see Alyssa Milano talk about her new book. I wasn’t going to but I caught the end of the speaker before her (Winnie Cooper from The Wonder Years!) and a seat opened up so I sat and listened to her. I’ve always been pretty indifferent to her, but today I realized just how cool she is. Her book is about baseball and how it helped her form a relationship with her dad, which is something I can totally relate to. She was very entertaining and interesting and, even though I considered this the less stimulating of my journeys today, I felt like maybe I should go buy her book.

The next panel I went to was a discussion with Ray Bradbury. Yes, as in Fahrenheit 451. (!!!!!) I was very excited, even though I had to choose between him and Gore Vidal. To tell the truth, it was kind of boring. It was more of an interview than a discussion and it was crowded and hot in the auditorium. Plus I had a man next to me who obviously thought that sporting sandals and socks while wearing no deodorant is an appropriate thing to do in public. But, how many people can say they got to hear Ray Bradbury speak for free? Well, probably about 500 because that’s how many the auditorium held.

The last panel I went to was called “Publishing: the Big Picture” and it was very interesting. They talked about how the problem isn’t really that Americans don’t read, it’s that they don’t buy books. They also talked about how the main reason people don’t read is because there is so much to read and people are overwhelmed by choice. It really made me think because, for me, when I walk into a bookstore and see all the choices, it exhilarates me. I love that there is so much to read and that there are endless possibilities. But, I do understand how hard it can be to have to choose when there are a million options.

I didn’t end up buying anything because I got turned off by the amount of people crammed into the little booths. I did, however, write down some presses to look up and a few authors to google. I had a great day there and am glad I went.

I also thought about how happy I am to be the kind of person that can go do something like this without needing someone to be with me. I know a lot of people who wouldn’t see it as fun or would think it was pointless, even scary.

But honestly, I do kind of wish someone would have gone with me, because there was tremendous mocking potential. I didn’t know you could still buy Hammer pants and Keds, but boy-o-boy was I wrong!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just keep your mouth shut until you get in the car and are on the freeway!

I have discovered somewhere that is incredibly dangerous. It is a place that is a comfort for most and even a safe haven, but for me, it is a place to be feared and avoided at all costs.


I didn’t grow up with a WalMart down the street, so I have never really found a need to go there. I have Target, which is just as good. Not to say that I have never been in a WalMart before in my life, but this weekend I got the true WalMart experience. And IT FREAKED ME OUT!

My sister got a new apartment and we were shopping for stuff like bookcases and trash cans and pretty much the necessities. We went to Ikea and then decided to head to WalMart right next door to see if they had the other stuff we needed.

We walk in and I am instantly overwhelmed. There is so much stuff! To my left, the produce aisle. To my right, the lingerie section. In front of me, all the morally appropriate CDs I could ever ask for. Behind me, the poor greeter to whom I said, “Holy shit, this is white trash heaven!” I’m surprised I didn’t get a riffle pulled on me by some of the guys who no doubt had them in the back of their raised pickups.

As we are walking through, we can’t find anything! It takes three times as long to find things as it would in a supermarket or a drugstore or even in Ikea! Plus, there were about 200 workers but, because if it's gargantuan size, you couldn’t find a single person to help you! Crazy!

Now, I understand why WalMart is potentially so fabulous: convenience and price. You can find a new outfit, accessorize it, do your grocery shopping, get an eye exam and a physical, fill your prescriptions, have your hair and nails done all to have a wonderful dinner at Blimpie with a little ice cream from the frozen food section, while your tires are getting rotated. All for under $50. Why go anywhere else when everything you need is right there?

Oh yeah, maybe because “convenience” is not always convenient. Or pleasant.

There is so much stuff that it is hard to find even one thing. I would rather go 10 places that specialize in what I am looking for and I can go in, get it done and leave, rather than spending 20 minutes wandering around looking for stuff or being horrified by the hairstyles people are getting in the “salon" and wondering if the potato salad really is any cheaper than the stuff at Safeway. (I didn’t know that “feathering” was still even taught in beauty school.)

I think that the cherry on top, however, was that when we were walking out, there was a very large family walking in front of us. (I mean "large" both in numbers and actual size. But, let's be honest, who am I to comment on "largeness"?) The mom had bleach blond hair with long, airbrushed acrylic nails, a spaghetti strap tank top with her bra hanging out, cutoff shorts and flip flops. The dad was wearing flip flops, cutoffs, a beater and his sunglasses on his head. Then, there were 8 kids around them, in addition to a baby in the cart and a 2ish-year-old in the mom’s arms. The little boys all had faux hawks and the little girls all had fake tattoos. The contents of the cart are what truly solidified their white trash standing: beer right next to the diapers. There was also three times as much beer as there were diapers. I started laughing rather loudly and the woman turned around to stare at the crazy woman who is guffawing to herself. I had to bite my tongue so I wouldn’t blurt out “Spending quality family time at the WalMart huh? Are the kids going to help you drink the beer and change the diapers of the other kids while your husband gets the little girls real tattoos to match their fake ones?”

WalMart is a dangerous place for me.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It was only supposed to be a simple trip to San Diego

It started innocently enough. Go down to San Diego for Lisa’s baby shower, then have dinner with Iisha, then go home. I should know better than to expect that anything will be as uncomplicated as it appears to be.

Here’s the thing. My car had a small coolant leak that my dad thought he had fixed. Fixed as in “it’ll get you there and back but I don’t know how much longer it’ll hold after that.” So we figured we were fine.

We got down there in pretty good time and I had a great time. Let me rephrase. I had as great of a time as one can have at a baby shower with a bunch of people one does not know. I spent a lot of time with my cousin Maddy and I got to see pretty much all of my family, so I really have no complaints.

I left to go out to dinner with Iisha. We hardly get to see each other, so I was very excited. She chose Cheesecake Factory and honestly, who am I to argue? We get there and, well, shocker of shockers, it’s packed! We decide to head back towards her house because it probably won’t be as busy and it might even be cheaper, which is always a plus.

As we are driving on the freeway, I notice that the temperature gauge starting to climb. I think that I need to get off, but being the queen of procrastination, I keep going until I have no other choice but to get off. We pull into a Burger King parking lot, where a ton of steam comes out of the engine. It was enough steam to keep a sauna going for quite awhile.

I, of course, call my dad and inform him that his quick-fix blew up in my face. Almost literally. As he tries to figure out a way to get the car home, I call my grandma and tell her that someone needs to come pick me up. Here’s what the conversation sounded like:

ME: Hey Grandma, are Derek and Lisa still there?
GRANDMA: Why? What happened?
ME: My car broke down and I need someone to come pick me and Iisha up.
ME: Yeah Grandma, we’re cool. But I need someone to come pick us up. Dad is trying to figure out a way to get the car home.
GRANDMA: Why don’t you just call AAA?
ME: I don’t have AAA
ME: Because you don’t love me enough to pay for it. Can I please just speak to Derek? Or Lisa? Or Mark? Or Cheryl?
GRANDMA: Well Grandpa will come get you. Hang on give Mike directions. (Like I said, my WHOLE family was there) MIKE, KIMMI’S CAR BROKE DOWN AND SHE DOESN’T HAVE AAA AND NEEDS SOMEONE TO PICK HER UP….NO SHE DOESN’T HAVE AAA….I DON’T KNOW WHY…NOW COLLEEN (my mother) DON’T WORRY SHE’S FINE…YES COLLEEN WE WILL EAT EVENTUALLY…Ok honey, here’s your Uncle Mike.

Ten minutes later, my phone rings

GRANDMA: Derek and Lisa are coming to get you and Grandpa’s coming too because he has his AAA card and I might come too to make sure you’re ok and your mom is hungry so she might come so she can get something from Burger King and…
Grandma: Well…Grandpa has to come because he has the card…ok…the three of them are leaving now.

After a lot of phone calls and texts to Alec, who was working at AAA at the time, we finally found a way to get my car back to LA and get Iisha home. (Thanks fave cousin!) The catch: I have to drive up to LA in the tow truck. By myself. With some random guy. (Ok, so technically not by myself, but you get it.) Now, I hadn’t even thought of this, but, of course, my Grandma had.

GRANDMA: Are you sure she’s going to be ok riding all alone with a truck driver back to LA? Aren’t you worried about her?
DAD: No BJ, I’m more worried about the tow truck driver having to drive up to LA with Kimmi. She’ll be fine.

Oh yeah. It was fabulous. (BTW…My mom finally got food because Derek and Lisa are the Dynamic Duo. Thanks for the concern, Mom.)

Friday, April 3, 2009

I love LA...sorta...

The funny thing about living in LA is the amount of things we see that, in an other city, would be totally ridiculous. Or insane. Or just plain weird.

For example, size DD boobs and long blond hair on a woman who weighs 100 pounds walks down the street in skinny jeans and sky-high heels. In any other city in America, she would illicit stares of envy, jealousy or anger from women. Men would pretend not to stare, but as soon as they thought no one was looking, they would sneak a peak at her peaks. The women would talk about unhealthy she must be to be so skinny or how much her feet must hurt from wearing those shoes. The men wouldn’t talk about her, they would simply think about her later that night, if you catch my drift. However, in LA, the men would only glance at the woman because there would be another one looking just like her coming from the other direction. The woman wouldn’t talk about how unhealthy she looked, but would instead ask where she had “them” done or about how “hard” they look. No one would think Barbie looked strange or unreal. Ridiculous.

In any other city, sitting at a red light watching people run across the street would not seem at all odd. Yet, here, those people you see running across the street are not running to catch a bus or because they are late. In fact, these people are carrying three different kinds of cameras, including telephoto lenses. These people are sprinting across the street at full speed with total disregard for the lights or their safety in order to get a picture of a person society deems newsworthy. By getting that great picture, they can make thousands of dollars. Thousands of dollars for taking a picture of someone who does nothing of note but do drugs, drink, party and illustrate how money and neglect can truly fuck you up. These paps are sprinting to get a picture of nothing more than a woman shopping with her boyfriend. Insane.

Then there’s the characters on Hollywood Blvd. When I say “characters,” I mean literally. Any day, you can walk down to Graumen’s Chinese Theater and be hoodwinked into paying to take a photo with a crack-head dressed up as Spiderman. These people, many of them homeless or out-of-work “actors,” dress up like the characters from movies, whether it’s Spiderman, Batman, Wonder Woman or even Captain Jack Sparrow. The best part, however, isn’t that you can get your picture taken with them. It’s that you might be there to see a fight between Darth Vadar and Superman. Or you might catch Chewbacca sexually assaulting Marilyn Monroe and then get to testify in the pending trial. Anywhere else, these people would be either arrested or committed. Hey, they don’t call it “Hollyweird” for nothing.

I know that I am always the first person to say how fake LA is and how intellectually numbing this city can be, but, truthfully, all of these absurdities are what make this city fascinating. You never really know what is going to happen or who that person really is. “Barbie” might be the next Jenna Jameson, enabling you to tell people how you saw her with her clothes on. Those paps might get the photo of Brad and Angelina pre-Aniston breakup, making you a witness to a huge piece of pop culture history. Finally, those costumes characters are a part of the reason tourists still come to Hollywood and are helping tourism stay alive.

In the end, these eccentricities are what make up the unique culture of Los Angeles. No matter how much I complain about LA, it does have some interesting assets that I have grown to love.