Thursday, December 30, 2010

OMG! It's SOOOOOOOO Least According to my Clothing Choices...

I feel a rant coming on….

I frequently complain about LA because there are a lot of things wrong with this place, namely, the people. I will be sitting in a café and hear people talking rather loudly about rather private things and then they will look at me like I’m the crazy one when I’m staring at the girl with the “strange itch.” I will be at work and have guys coming straight from the gym ordering a nonfat, 110 degree white mocha with extra whip. I won’t even get started on all the aspiring filmmakers and actors who tell me about all their projects like I actually care. Yes, it’s fantastic the you are working on the most amazing film ever and it is going to change your life, but when you tell me about it 5 seconds after I meet you, I officially want to smack you. (And would if LA weren’t all about lawsuits.)

However, the one thing that I can never understand is why people in LA insist on dressing like it’s snowing outside when it’s 51 degrees. Yes, that is kind of cold, however from what I have witnessed sitting in a café for 10 minutes and watching people walk in the door, you would think LA was the one having a blizzard right now.

(*Note to self: get stealthier with the camera phone so some of these descriptions can come with photographic evidence)

A mom with her baby strapped to her front. The baby has his head uncovered and appears to be wearing a light sweatshirt. The mom (or nanny or whatever) is wearing a beanie, a North Face jacket, Uggs with wool socks sticking out of the top and GLOVES. Her baby is barely covered and yet she looks like she’s ready to go for that 10 mile hike in the snow uphill our parents always told us. Hey lady, how about you take off a few of your layers and put them on your baby. Then maybe he (or she...I really can never tell) won’t be in therapy in 20 years talking about how his mom never cared enough to keep him warm.

A hipster-ish looking guy comes in with, again, GLOVES on. In addition, he is also wearing a scarf and hat and looks reminiscent of Where’s Waldo. His jacket is leather and has a sweatshirt underneath with the hood hanging out. Now, I’m not a guy, but from what I’ve heard, the bottom half is the one you want to make sure is warm. Although, perhaps the snugness of his skinny jeans keeps his family jewels nice and cozy.

A man in a suit walks in. With a scarf. And an overcoat. And GLOVES. Again, it is not freezing. You are not going to get frostbite. What’s with all the damn gloves? And an overcoat? Seriously? He looks like Mr. Big in the last episode of Sex and the City when he is standing on the bridge in Paris with Carrie, only this guy’s coat is heavier. But I shouldn’t judge, maybe the AC in his office building is broken and therefore he needs all the extra layers of clothing in order to keep warm while doing whatever if it is that he does to be able to afford such a lovely coat.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s me. I do tend to get really hot really quickly and I do tend to be a tad judgmental. However, this is the city where girls wear short skirts and tank tops with Uggs, so I think it’s just LA.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Officially Hate Christmas, Part 2: The Stupid Tree

Oh Christmas tree…how I hate thee.

We got a tree from ABC because they give them out to the employees and, since my dad passed away, they saved one for my mom. One of my dad’s coworkers said it should be pretty easy to put up, all I had to do was saw a bit off the end and then just put the stand on and, boom, Christmas tree is up. Sounds easy enough.

I should have known better. Especially after the debacle with the damn lights.

First of all, the tree itself is about 8 feet tall, therefore very heavy and annoying. Trying to take it out of the bucket we had put it in was a total comedy. Then trying to saw off the end…well let’s just say I would have been at it all day if my friend Josh hadn’t come over. See, my dad doesn’t have a wood saw, only ones for metal, so Josh decided the easiest thing to do would be to take an axe to the end of the tree and then use a saw to just even it out. Imagine a black Brawny paper towel guy going after the end of a tied up Christmas tree and you have the image of my front lawn that morning. Possibly not the best way to get it done, but hey, it was faster than the alternative.

With the tree now evened out on the bottom and Josh successfully sweaty and feeling manly, we pull out the tree strand. That is metal. And has no instructions. And has pieces missing. And doesn’t actually fit together anymore because it’s from 1960 (or possibly older). And apparently is no longer legal because it is a fire hazard.

After about an hour and a lot of frustration, we gave up and Josh went home. I tried Chad to see if he knew how the hell to get this thing working, but, after realizing that my dad probably just nailed the Christmas tree to the stand itself, Chad told me to just buy a new stand.

You would think that a week before Christmas, tree stands would be pretty much everywhere. But if you think that, then you would be completely wrong. (Insert annoying game show buzzer noise here.)

I went to Target, where I was informed that they had sold out but would I be interested in a lovely fake tree instead? Let’s see: would I like to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a fake tree when I have a perfectly fine, real tree at home that I didn’t pay for? I think you know the answer, red shirt and khaki pant wearing jerkface.

At both Lowe’s and Home Depot it was the same story, only at those places I was merely laughed at because who the hell tries to buy a tree stand a week before Christmas? Oh yeah, the girl who just lost her dad and is now trying to make her mom feel better by putting up all the damn decorations. Keep laughing, smock-holes.

A Christmas tree lot was next on my list and guess what? They had stands! Only, the stands they had required a hole to be drilled into the bottom of the tree and I need a special bit and I should just bring the tree in and they will happily put the stand on for me. So now, instead of just putting a stand on a tree, I have to strap a Christmas tree to my car, drive it to the lot, and then strap it to the car again and drive it home? No thanks.

At this point, I’m beyond frustrated, I’m crying like a little kid who has just learned that there is no Santa, and I’m ready to just give up on the whole thing. I still had some Christmas cards to buy, so I decided to go to CVS, buy some cards, then go home and take out my frustration by doing what my dad did and just nailing the stupid tree to the stupid stand.

One of my other friends, Andrew, said that CVS might have some and, turns out, they had stands! And, since I’m an idiot and waited until the week before Christmas, it was only $11!!! Woo hoo!! Go me!!!

After that, getting the tree up was fairly easy. It is probably one of the nicest tress we have ever gotten from ABC, with no holes or missing branches. It may be a little crooked because when I was bringing it in the house, I may or may not have knocked the stand on the door frame and been too lazy to try to straighten it out, but at least it’s up and I even put the lights on it with no additional drama.

However, I refuse to do any more decorating, such as putting up wreaths or putting ornaments on the tree. The only dealings I would like to have with any of these things again is when I take them down and get to shove them back up in the attic until next year, when I can pay someone else to deal with them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Officially Hate Christmas, Part One: LIGHTS

Note to self:

Hanging Christmas lights on the house sucks and you should never do it again. Here’s why:

~You will get covered in dust and dirt while bringing the boxes down from the attic. Said dust and dirt will make your contacts dry and irritating for the rest of day, thus making you dry and irritated for the rest of the day.

~You will take 10 minutes to figure out which lights should be used (traditional big bulbs, white icicle lights, colored icicle lights, or go all out and use all of them) and then spend the next 45 getting them all untangled from each other.

~You will waste 15 minutes fiddling with the ladder because it is old and probably not safe to climb on.

~You will get cut by rose bushes while climbing on the old, unsafe ladder and have dried blood on your leg for the rest of the day.

~You will almost fall more than once from the old, unsafe ladder because it is, indeed, old and unsafe.

~You will keep using the old, unsafe ladder because you are too lazy and cheap to go buy a new, safe one.

~You will realize, after all the lights have been strung, that you have no way to plug them in because you did not think about making sure you are able to plug them in before you starting putting them on the house.

~You will then have to climb back on the old, unsafe ladder, get cut by many more rose bushes, and nearly fall many more times in order to get the lights in the correct order to plug in.

~You will finally get them plugged in and walk away.

~Mom will come home, look at them and yell at you for getting on a ladder when no one else is home because you could have fallen and gotten hurt.

~You will argue back that you could have fallen and gotten hurt with her home and she wouldn’t have been able to do anything anyway, so it doesn’t matter.

~She will then look at the lights and say, “That’s not how your dad used to do them.”

~You will then slam a door and tell her she can do them herself next year.

~She will eventually say thank you.

~Finally, that night, when you turn on the lights, you will see that there is a foot long section that does not work. When you are retelling this story, everyone will ask you in disbelief, “You didn’t test them before you starting putting them up?” To which, after this year, you may no longer reply, “I’ve never done it before and I didn’t know you needed to test them before you put them up!”

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving is More than Turkey...Sometimes...

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Mostly because it is all about eating and, let’s be honest, if it involves consuming large quantities of food, I’m there! But, after looking back on the last few years, I think Thanksgiving has been the standout holiday.

I could go all the way back to my childhood when we would go to my Grandma Marybelle’s house and she would cook everything throughout the day while I played with my cousins in our refrigerator box that we pretended to be a house. Or how we could go to my Grandma BJ’s house and having to eat dessert on the step going into the living room with my cousins because we weren’t allowed to eat on the furniture like the grown-ups. But, I think some of my favorite memories are from the past four years.

My senior year at Berkeley, my Aunt Bev and Uncle John asked me to join them for Thanksgiving in Chicago. My cousin, Julia, was going to Northwestern and they were going to fly out and do dinner in her apartment. They would pay for my flight and I could stay with Julia and it would be my graduation present. Who am I to say no to that?! So, they booked me a flight from Oakland and I met them at Midway. It was so much fun to sit in the car for two hours in traffic and just chat and catch up with them! I know the traffic part doesn’t sound good, but we talked about so many different things and I had so much energy out of pure excitement, I couldn’t have asked for a better time. On Thanksgiving day, Aunt Bev cooked an AMAZING meal, and all she asked was that we stay out of her way. Then, before dinner, she and I went for a walk. We’ve done this for as long as I can remember, so even thought it was 27 degrees outside, it made me so happy to know that no matter how much changes, some traditions still remain intact. During dinner, the conversation went everywhere, from politics to life after college to explaining to Aunt Bev what “breaking the seal” means. Sitting there with all of them, I couldn’t have been more grateful to have them as my family members and to be spending my Thanksgiving with them.

The next year, I actually posted about it…so read it here (click on it…) But the bottom line was it was the most fantastic dinner, a lot of fun and games, and we got a great surprise in the form of Lisa being pregnant.

Last year, I had a yen to travel again, so it was off to New York to spend the holiday with my sister-from-another-mister, Cierra. She and I have been friends since freshman year of high school and, after she moved, I will take any chance to go see her. Her mom offered to have it at her apartment and Cierra’s sister came with her dad and his wife, along with Cierra’s boyfriend and his parents. Add a co-worker of Cierra’s and we had a full house! The dinner was scrumptious and we went ice-skating after. I had never been ice-skating in my life, and there could not have been a better time to go! We went to the rink at Bryant Park, everyone rented some skates and we just got out there. Cierra helped me along and I got the hang of it. And I only fell once! I can’t say the same for everyone in our group, but I can say that we all had so much fun! I might not have been with my blood relatives that night, but I definitely consider them family. (Also, while in line to skate, I got on the phone with the family at home and, in what is scarily becoming a tradition, my cousin Cheryl informed me that she was pregnant with her second child. I’m not going to lie, I said a little prayer that I wouldn’t be the one next year.)

That brings us to this year. I was worried at first that I was going to do nothing, just work and not have turkey or family or anything. My grandparents moved into an apartment and no longer have the space to host one of the huge gatherings of years past, and everyone seemed to be going somewhere or doing something. My Aunt Bev mentioned once that they were going to San Francisco, but no formal invitation was made. Then, on my second visit to Grandma’s new pad, I found out that my cousin Lisa and her husband (my favorite cousin) Derek would be coming down. From there, I pretty much invited myself to come down as well and stay for a few days to hang out. Since I live with my parents, they are kind of a package deal, so they were coming as well. This would make it a small gathering, with only 7.25 of us. (The .25 being Lisa and Derek’s adorable 17-month-old son, Blake, the one Lisa, two years ago, announced she was pregnant with.)

Then, the most amazing thing happened. My friend Torrey and her husband (still weird that my friends have husbands…), Stephen, were going to be in town and wanted me to come with them to Knott’s Berry Farm. I haven’t been to Knott’s in a very long time and I was more enthusiastic about the hanging out than I was the amusement park. But, like the trooper I am, I went…and had a BLAST! The rides were pretty great and, even though a lot has changed since I was last there, the cute shops and crafts were still there and fun to look through. The best part was that, even though this wasn’t Thanksgiving, it gave me just one more thing to be thankful for.

On Thanksgiving, I did something incredibly typical: I forgot the main ingredient in the appetizer I was supposed to make. I literally got to Grandma’s, put my stuff down, and jumped back in the car to go buy mushrooms. After successfully getting the mushrooms and putting them in the oven in the oven, I headed with Lisa, Derek and Blake to the park to burn off some of Blake’s restless energy. I have to say, I admire the kid. He is not afraid of ANYTHING. The big slide? No problem. The ladder that he could fall through? Awesome (even though Mom and Dad stopped him.) The big kid swings? Bring it on (even though he had to sit on Mommy’s lap.) After getting back, we proceeded to consume massive quantities of food. Between my appetizers (stuffed mushrooms and 3 different kinds of cheese balls...super delicious if I do say myself) and the dinner itself, I was stuffed fuller than the turkey. As it should be. The best part came the next night, though, when I went out to dinner with my grandparents and Derek and Lisa. We ate at an Italian place my cousin Maddy suggested and it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. (Sorry, Grandma) After that, we went back and I just hung out with Derek and Lisa.

Looking back at these last few years, it doesn’t seem like these Thanksgivings were eventful or dramatic. But, honestly, I feel like that is how the holidays should be. Spending time with family and the people you care about and making sure that the ones you aren't with know how thankful you are for them. It sounds so simple and boring, but if that is how I spend every holiday for the rest of my life, I couldn’t be happier.

Oh, and yes my prayer was answered. I did not have any special announcements to make this year.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The fruit I love laboring over...

I love pomegranates. I didn’t always, but leave it to Berkeley to expand my horizons.

What I knew of pomegranates before living in my co-op was that it was a fruit that made juice that is delicious in martinis. However, my first fall in Berkeley, my taste was expanded. The kitchen manager ordered them and I took one look and said, “What the hell do you do with that?” My friend Angelica took it from me, cut just far enough to break the skin, and then ripped it open. I was amazed at how something that was all rough and tough on the outside could be so pretty on the inside. (Metaphor for my life, anyone?)

So, that night, while watching Law and Order SVU, I started picking all the seeds out. Angelica told me that you could eat the whole of the little seed, even though the white inside was a little tangy. I put them all in a container and saved them for the next day. I took the container to class and munched on them throughout the day. I couldn’t believe that I had tried something new and had found new love.

After moving home, I really couldn’t get pomegranates. They are a little too exotic for my usual supermarket and so I had to wait until the fall to find them anywhere. Then, when I did, it would be for a short time, not great quality and cost a lot of money. But I would still buy one, take it home, and take it apart while watching TV. For days afterwards, I would munch on these seeds.

Last night, I was at Henry’s, which is like a Whole Foods with Trader Joe’s prices. They had a whole bin of pomegranates that were not only inexpensive, but looked fantastic! So, I bought one. After dinner, I sat down in front of the TV, opened it up, and started seeding it. My mom said, as she always does, that it looked like a lot of work for very little fruit. I looked up, smiled, and said, “But when you love something and put work into it, just a little goes a long way.”

Happy Fall!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Everyone loves a slutty pumpkin...

Halloween has never really been my thing. I might go to a party or get dressed up for work, but rarely do I put much effort in. Last year, I was Peggy Bundy, a costume I came up with the day of the party. The year before, I was working and dressed up as a bank robber because one of my co-workers was going to be a cop and we thought it would be funny. The year before that, I went to Santa Barbara and partied pretty hard, but my construction worker was neither inspired nor original.

This year, I really thought about it and, while I didn’t want to spend $100 on a costume to wear for one night to a house party, I didn’t want to just throw something together. After going to several Halloween stores and looking through tons of websites, it came down to two costumes. While the beer maid would have been a good (and very appropriate) choice, I didn’t really want to spend the night fetching my friend’s beers. So, I decided on Elvira.

I’m in no way a shy person. Nor am I uncomfortable with my body. However, when I got the dress and tried it on, I became both of those. I was not sure how I would keep my boobs in or if I would have the courage to actually leave my bedroom. The dress was more revealing that my bathing suite and the idea of people seeing me in it was pretty horrifying. To make sure that I would actually grow some balls and do it, I started telling everyone I met. I’m sure I annoyed several people, but if I hadn’t raised everyone’s expectations, then I probably would have copped out and done something lame instead, like a softball player. (Yes, that was my 5-minutes-before-work-costume for today, but at least I dressed up! And dressing up for work doesn’t count!)

So, after telling everyone I met and even having one of my friends tell a certain person I wouldn’t have told just in case I ended up looking more like a cow that the Mistress of the Dark, I had to put it on. Much like many of the things I don’t really want to do but force myself to, I kind of fell in love with it. My makeup wasn’t perfectly straight and the wig was kind of cheap and I didn’t have the fake eyelashes I needed, but this was one of the few moments where I looked at myself and went, “Wow.”

It wasn’t because my boobs were out or because the slit came so far up my entire leg was out. It was because I had done exactly what a person is supposed to do on Halloween: get dressed up and make yourself into another person. For one night, I was wearing something I would never dare wear again with makeup that was much too complicated to do regularly. And I had a blast! Everyone loved the costume, but best of all, I loved it! The party was a ton of fun and I have to say, it was one of my best Halloweens.

So, while I’m not a total Halloween convert (Just say no to haunted houses!!), I have to say this year, I definitely lived.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Little Idle Chit Chat

I am usually a pretty humble person. I don't like to brag about the things I'm good at (or the things I think I'm good at), therefore I tend to be incredibly self-deprecating. However, one of the things I am very good at is small talk. I can do this with just about any willing party, and God knows I'll try with the unwilling parties as well. Here is an example of the small talk I made with some of my regulars at Starbucks one lazy Sunday.

Wait...I should probably start by saying that they are both gay men, but not flamboyantly so. I say this because I did not know for certain that they were gay and my go-to chit-chat with men on Sundays in the fall is football....(In the winter, it's basketball, and in the spring, it's about how baseball has become too long and they need fewer games because the individual games actually mean nothing when you play 500.)

Ok go.

Me: So, any football viewings on the schedule today guys?

Hank: Is it football season?

Bob: (ignoring Hank) No, I'm not straight enough for that.

Me: (realizing they are gay and that, duh, football would not be on the schedule) Ooooh ok....

Awkward silence.

Me: So any antiquing on the schedule for today guys?

Bob and Hank, who I have discovered are incredibly cool, both laughed hysterically and, finally, when Bob could breath again:

Bob: No, I'm not that gay either. But you're definitely too quick for me.

Me: Why thank you. It's all the caffeine.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, C!!!!

I have to say, it takes a lot to be best friends with me. I don’t mean just friends, because I’m kind of awesome and fun and entertaining and a good listener and all that jazz, but to be best friends with me takes work. I am too loud for my own good. I say things that, while true, are not exactly the things you want to hear. I am demanding and incredibly opinionated. I can be a little too energetic and my brain sometimes goes off on tangents that don’t make sense to anyone but me and if you can follow along then more power to you but a lot of the time I can ‘t even keep track of where I’m going with something…I’m getting a little off topic because this was not supposed to be about me and all my quirks. Moving on…

There is one person who has been doing this job for almost 10 years now, and since today is her birthday, I thought I’d dedicate a little post to her. Much like I did with my Grandma’s birthday, this a little list I came up with about the things I love about Cierra, who sometimes makes me angrier than Chris Brown in a Lamborghini and crazier than any of the patients at McLean Hospital, but for whom I thank my lucky stars everyday to have in my life.

10. She lives in New York, so I always have a reason to go. Much like I had a reason to go to Philly when she was living there. Now all I need is for her to move around to all the major cities in the world so I’ll have a reason to visit, other than I just want to visit all the major cities in the world.

9. She is the only one of my friends that can keep up with me on the dance floor, even though I’m totally the better dancer.

8. I can talk sports with her and her eyes won’t glaze over. Although, she’s a Laker Lover and I’m a Laker Hater. It really makes for some quality arguments.

7. She never holds back with me. When I’m being stupid, she will tell me so. When I’m down, she’ll yell at me to get over it. When I’m being annoying, she will reach through the phone and smack me. (As of right now, it’s only verbally, but I’m sure that once the technology is developed, she will do it literally.)

6. She offers to ship all the books I buy and can’t fit in my suitcase when I come visit. She doesn’t tell me I bought too many or that I read too damn much. She fully supports my addiction, and usually asks me to send one or two back when I’m done.

5. I have never met anyone that can talk shit like she can. She’ll do it to your face, to your back, to your mama, to everyone about everything. Even if she has gotten a little nicer in her old age, she can still throw out an insult like a pro.

4. She didn’t go to college and always hated school, but she made her own way and is one of the smartest people I know. Even if she doesn’t act like it sometimes and I have to be the voice of reason. (Which will not always work in our favor.)

3. She believes in me. She has been saying for years how I’m going to do something great, so when I don’t believe her, she just gives me a verbal smacking that reminds me of how capable I am and that everything will work out. (I am just now realizing we have a bit of an abusive relationship, but that's ok. It works for us.)

2. She enjoys a good beer and likes going to Timmy Nolans when she comes out for a visit. ‘Nuff said.

1. She is the strongest person I’ve ever met. She has been through so much and has never let it get her down or ruin her. I know so many people who have been through things similar and have broken down or become terrible people. But Cierra still remains the amazing, smart, beautiful, kind, wonderful person I’ve know for the past decade.

So, I raise my glass to you, C. Happy Birthday and here’s to another decade of friendship. I love you.

(Ok, and because we can be a lot like Lucy and Ethel, here is a little video for you as well.)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Agreement with Mother Nature

I have never been one to love the outdoors, but just recently, I have come to an understanding with Mother Nature. I will stay on the marked paths and she will keep the larger, scarier creatures away from me.

Recently, I started hiking. I’m not talking about hiking like whole day affairs that involve packs and rock climbing and wildlife. I’m talking about short, paved or gravel paths with the wildlife well aware of the fact that humans are horrible and will harm them out of fear. Unlike true hikers, I do it because I am too broke (and cheap) to have a gym membership. However, I have found that a hike is one of my new favorite ways to workout.

It all started when I got bored running around my neighborhood and on the Chandler bike path. I was trying to think of another place that would be nice but not so secluded I’d be afraid to go myself. (Yes, I have fantasies of falling down the side of a mountain and no one finding me for weeks. Yes, I am aware this makes me slightly crazy.) I remembered my dad driving us around Lake Hollywood, aka the Hollywood Reservoir. I knew there was a path around it and I figured that if I needed to, I could just walk. Plus, it’s round so there is very little chance of me getting lost and ending up having to live off the wild until someone finds me or I find my way out. While this wasn’t technically hiking, it was outside and I realized something: Animals don’t like humans and, for the most part, will stay away from them. So, after running most of the way and just walking to enjoy the rest, I decided to look for some actual hiking trails.

Griffith Park seemed like the easiest place to start. I found a lot of writing about the Charlie Turner Trail, which leads from the Observatory up to Dante’s View, a cute little picnic area. The reviews all said that it was an easy hike and fairly short. I was pleased to see that they were correct. It’s a steady climb up, but not overwhelming. Plus, there was a ton of people out, so again, I didn’t feel like I was going to get lost and go missing. Dante’s View has a picnic area and I totally thought it would be a great spot to bring a book and just read. Although, it also made me think about who this Dante was and if this "view" of LA was really supposed to mean something...

After doing that one a few times, I decided to try out Runyon Canyon again. I’d done it once with my friend Ellen, but it was so strenuous that I didn’t think I would ever do it again. But, for some reason, I was in the mood for a real workout that day. Boy did I get it. There are these stairs that I like to call the “Stairs of Death” because unless you are in the best shape of your life, they will kill your muscles. They play tricks on you by making you thing you’re almost to the top, but NO, you’re not even close. However when you do finally make it up to the top, you feel incredibly accomplished and good about yourself.

I am usually a solitary hiker, but I did take my friends Jason and Meaghan out to the Charlie Turner Trail once. It was a lot of fun and it didn’t feel as long because we were talking most of the time. It’s always great to have someone to talk to when you’re out doing these things. Plus, the risk of falling down a hill and going missing is much lower. If I do fall down the hill and die, at least someone will be there to call the coroner.

For the first time in a long time, I feel like I’ve found a workout that I can actually keep up. When there are days I don’t feel like working out, it’s just a nice walk to get fresh air. When I want to really push myself, there are plenty of paths to make me regret wanting to push myself. As long as I don’t meet any scary creatures and the birds stay in the air where they belong, Mother Nature and I will be cool.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Living It Up! (In My Own Way)

I was reading this article in the NY Times the other day, and it kind of made me realize something that I have been searching for throughout this blog: happiness is directly correlated to experiences, not material things. Also, what you’re “supposed” to be doing and where you’re “supposed” to be at certain points of your life, might not be what will actually make you happy.

Shocking, I know.

For a year, I was working so hard at two jobs and making money and gaining experience that would hopefully help me jumpstart my career. But guess what? I didn’t have time to spend the money the way I wanted to. I was tired all the time. And my experience has yet to jumpstart my career. (Maybe the jumper cables weren’t hooked up properly?) Then, after quitting the second job, going back to Starbucks full time, and quieting my mind about what I’m “supposed” to be doing, I starting noticing that I’m actually enjoying my life and, finally, living.

In the past 2 months since I quit the paper, I have done more things and had more time for friends than I’ve had in the past year. Sure, my schedule is different than most people, but somehow it works out that I can spend time with everyone. Sure, I don’t have as much money, but that is just making me appreciate all the free things the world has to offer.

When I was making more money, I also wasn’t saving as much. I would go shopping at least every other week, in search of something that would fulfill me and make me fell good about myself. Guess what? Buying a fantastic outfit but having no time to wear it out doesn’t make you feel any better. Now, I put away a little from each paycheck, pay off bills, then take what little is left and make the most of it. Now I have a reason to wear all the cute outfits I bought instead of putting that money into savings. (I’ve also realized that shopping for shopping’s sake doesn’t me have the best taste. Some of the things I bought are not as cute as I originally thought. Having “what was I thinking?” moments only a few months after buying something is NOT good…) As an added bonus, I cherish the things I buy a lot more than I used to and I'm actually doing research on stuff before blowing $150 just because I want it. ( the Nook vs. Kindle debate, the Nook is kind of kicking the Kindle's ass...I still can't bring myself to buy it though. Yet.)

I’m not saying that I am completely happy or that I don’t get frustrated or that I don’t still want to move out of my parents house or move to the Bay or NY or that I wouldn’t like to be making more money to buy myself the Brian Atwood Harrison Chain-Trimmed pumps ($1,050 at Saks, but sooo friggin hot), but honestly, if making more money and buying those pumps and having the fabulous apartment comes with being stressed, unhealthy and unhappy, then you can have it.

Don't worry, I'm still on a search for how to live out the rest of my life, so I'm not going to be giving up my blog any time soon. (Insert annoyingly cute emoticon here)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

You Want to Sit at the Bar?!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love beer. I didn’t always, but thanks to Alec and the fabulous staff at Timmy Nolans, I have come around. I am wiling to try just about any beer now and I actually have clear favorites.

While I was hanging out with my grandparents, I was telling Grandpa about my new favorite, Downtown Brown from Lost Coast Brewery in Northern California. I discovered it like I typically do: sitting on a stool at Timmy Nolans. I wanted to try something new but I didn’t know what. I looked at the tap handles while Rocky, one of my fabulous beer professors, explained all the different kind of beers they have that I haven't already tried. One of the handles caught my eye. It was wood with a kind Picasso-esqe drawing of a man at a table with a beer and buildings in the background. I turn to Rocky and say, “I’ll take that one. I think the handle is pretty.”

Downtown Brown is a brown ale with a bit of sweetness to it, kind of caramelly. It’s not too heavy and there is not a whole lot of carbonation. Overall, it has enough flavors to keep me satisfied. Yes, I expect a beer to keep me satisfied from first sip to last drop. Is that too much to ask?

I was telling all of this to my Grandpa over dinner and he said, “Well I have to try it. They probably have it at that Yardhouse. That’s where the young guys go.” Why he added that on, but if that’s where the young guys go, I need to be there.

So, the next night, after we went to a movie, we went to the Yardhouse. If you have never been to the Yardhouse (it might just be Yardhouse, but I am not a frequent visitor, so I really don’t know), you should go. They have 100 beers on tap and the bartenders are pretty knowledgeable. Or at least ours was.

When we got there, Grandma walked up the hostess and asked for a table for 3, to which Grandpa replied, “BJ, let’s sit at the bar.”

Grandma whips her head around and says, disgusted, “You want to sit at the BAR?”

There was an awkward, staring moment between the two, so I turned to the hostess and said, “I guess we are going to sit at the bar.”

Grandma huffs off, horrified that we are actually going to sit at the bar and points out to Grandpa that he might not be able to get up onto the bar stools. He, in true Jack Brown fashion, shows her up by getting into the stool just fine. It might have taken him a few tries, but he did it.

The bartender barely gets over to us when Grandpa says, “Do you have Downtown Brown?”

The bartender, who clearly had a whole speech he was supposed to give us and is now thrown out of his comfort zone, “Umm..Yes? Downtown Brown, you said? Yes, yes, we have that.”

“Well that’s what I’ll have.”

Grandma orders a soda and then the three of them look at me, who has just started drooling over the possibilities. It must have been a full minute before I realized they were waiting on me, but I finally said I needed a minute to think about it.

The bartender comes back with Grandpa’s Downtown Brown and Grandma’s soda and waits for me to respond. I decide to go with a delicious stout called Old Rasputin and, in pure bliss, we enjoy our beers.

The best part, however, came when we got the bill. I had already intended to pay because I just spent 4 days at their house and it’s the polite thing to do when you’re a guest. We had ordered calamari as well, so I was expecting it to be a little expensive. When we got the bill and I looked at the total, I almost jumped for joy. Our beers were half off and so was the calamari! We had walked in after 10 p.m., during their reverse Happy Hour! Let me tell you, there is no better feeling in the world than going to pay for something and having it be half of what you expected.

Although, sitting at a bar, having beer with my grandparents "where the young guys go" might be a close second.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Adventures from Grandma's Closet

So what does one do with 4 days off in August?

Go to the desert, of course.

My grandparents just sold their house, which is great because they have been trying to for over a year now. The problem? They have 3500 square feet worth of stuff that they now need to get into about 1500 square feet. (They don’t have a place yet, so please pray for them!) Therefore, I was assigned by my mom and aunts to help them get rid of stuff. Obviously, my mom and aunts don’t know me very well, otherwise they would know that I am a bit of a hoarder and would be of little help. But I tried.

I figured out who I get my penchant for shopping from. Grandma has enough clothes to open up a boutique, not that anyone would actually buy anything. The best pieces had to be 3 nylon tracksuits, in pastel pink, teal and blue, with tapered pants and, the best part, SHOULDER PADS. I wasn’t really old enough to know, but apparently, in the ‘80’s, people who weren’t linebackers would workout with shoulder pads.

Grandma tried to tell me that these were the fashions and I shouldn’t judge her. I assured her that I understood what the styles were, but why the hell had she kept them for so long?! She couldn’t give me an answer. Nor could she answer what year she had bought them in or when the last time she wore one of them was. She tried to blame her memory loss on old age, but I think it was from shame.

Once I was done with Grandma, I tried to work on Grandpa and his books. I now know who I get my book obsession from. He was worse than Grandma, though, because he just ignored me and told me to come help pull boxes down in the garage. In 110 degree heat. It was the most fun you could have without actually having any.

When I went back into the den to try to get rid of (read: steal) some of Grandpa’s books, Grandma was looking through photo albums. There were some on a high shelf, so of course I was given the task of pulling them down so she could go through them. Fyi, photo albums are HEAVY. However, once they were down, we started looking through them and it brought back a lot of memories. There were pictures from every embarrassing stage of my life, along with every embarrassing stage of my cousin’s, aunt’s and uncle’s lives. (To all my family members: you're welcome. I thought about scanning every horrible photo and putting it on Facebook, but I decided against it.) It was so much fun!

Then, I struck gold.

I was looking through an album from one of the many trips my grandparents took and I found a picture of Grandma in a row boat with a few other ladies, WEARING ONE OF THE TRACKSUITS. I looked at the outside of the album where Grandma had written the date.

“Hey Grandma, do you recognize this outfit?,” I said, pulling out the photo so she could take a closer look.

She knew where I was going with this but she played along. “Yes, isn’t that one of the suits we gave away yesterday?” Yes, she called them “suits.” Not “tracksuit” or “jogging suit,” but suit.

“Yes. Guess what year this picture is from?”

“I don’t know.” She looked a little nervous now.

“1989. Grandma, those tracksuits are old enough to go to a bar and order you a Perfect Manhattan.”

She then told me she thought Grandpa needed some more help in the garage and politely got rid of me.

I tried to steal the picture to scan, but for an 80-year-old, my grandma is pretty quick!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Post of Awesomeness

You’ve got your sunscreen, your beaches with bikini-clad babes, your poolside trashy novels, and your BBQs. Aaahhh…it must be summer.

I have actually had an action packed summer thus far and I have to admit, I’m damn glad to be working at Starbucks. If I was still working two jobs, or just working at an office from 9-5, I wouldn’t have done some of the awesome things I’ve been doing.

Let’s start with some traveling. (Ok one trip but still, one is better than none.)

I went up to San Francisco for my cousin’s son’s 1st birthday party, which to me was just an excuse to get to SF. Now, I know most people wouldn’t consider me the child’s birthday type, but it was a blast. They had it at a daycare center, so the kids could play and the parents and guests could socialize without worrying about the kids running off or something worse. Plus, I got to hang with my amazing cousin Lisa and her husband, my favorite cousin, Derek. (It’s a long story) I also got to see my VERY pregnant(and also amazing) cousin Cheryl and her husband, Mark, along with their 2-year-old son, Jack. It was awesome to get to spend time with these cousins because I looked up to both of them when I was growing up and I love the women they have become and continue to admire them both. As an added bonus, Derek’s brother, Tobe, and parents, Bruce and Ava (Eva? Lisa, correct me please) are pretty friggin’ extraordinary, so I got to play around with Bruce’s Kindle (I kind of want one…or a Nook…or some money to be able to afford it) and then have a debate with Bruce, Ava, Grandma and Grandpa vs. Me, Lisa, Derek, and Tobe about social networking and the Internet. It was so fantastic I can’t even put it into words. That was just Saturday!

On Sunday, I met my friend Nicola, who was visiting from England. Yeah, I have a friend who lives in England. How awesome is that? So we just grabbed some coffee and lunch and then walked around a lot. It’s amazing how the simplest things can be so perfect. I think meeting at the Ferry Building and then walking around the piers with the Bay Bridge as our backdrop had something to do with it. Then, I took MUNI (Oh, how I miss public transportation!!!!) to Golden Gate Park and waited for Lisa and Derek to finish at the Science Center. I grabbed an Its It (Reason number 9 billion that San Francisco is tremendous) from a cart and just sat down on a bench under some trees and read. Then, when Derek and Lisa were done, we went down under the bridge and took some pictures. I was so incredibly happy.

Now, the beach.

I love the beach. I grew up in So Cal and we used to go to the beach ALLLL the time. But here’s the crummy thing about the beach: you really can’t (read: shouldn’t) go alone. So, I have been dragging Meaghan and Jason. They are the perfect companions because we can talk and chat and gossip and then all just sit there reading magazines, writing, or just staring out, contemplating the vastness of the Pacific. On top of that, they are both kids and love to play in the water, so even though I don’t want to live in the water like Meaghan, I don’t have to brave it on my own. We’ve gone twice and I see many more outings in our future. Perhaps with an umbrella next time. I wonder if I can snag Grandma and Grandpa’s UCLA one we used to use every summer?

Next: the pool. (Specifically, Jason’s pool.)

I’ve gone twice to Jason’s pool and both times, it’s been lovely. There are plenty of lounge chairs and the water isn’t too chlorinated. It’s only 3 feet deep so it’s great for just floating around and chatting. There’s some shade, too, so if it’s hellishly hot, we can always find some cover. It’s also not too big or loud to where you can’t hear the person in the pool or the people sitting out. Today, we were out there for the entire afternoon and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Again, simple but perfect.

A Summer Staple: The 4th of July BBQ(Served up with some cheese)

I actually wasn’t planning on doing anything for the 4th because I was working. I figured I’d work then go home to some leftovers. But then I got an invite from Alec and Laura, and since I got of early, I decided to go. Had myself some hotdogs, chips, beer…you know all the healthy stuff. Then they started the fire and we had s’mores. I think the best was how musically inclined their friends are and we sang (I’m a little ashamed to say) “Party in the USA” around the campfire. Then, during the fireworks, they sang “The Star Spangled Banner.” It was super cheesy and hysterically funny, but at the same time kind of perfect for the moment.

Now this is living….

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's 2 m's and 2 i's. Get it right.

I did a previous post on the 4 names I identify with (It's a link...go read it) and, upon re-reading it, I realized I skipped a very important part of my name: the spelling!

Most people don’t get to choose the spelling of their name. If your parents gave you a funky spelling, too bad, you’re stuck with it. But there are some of us who HAVE to be so unique that we create our own spellings. I am, of course, one of those people.

In the second grade, I was dubbed “Kimmie” and I spelled it the traditional, cutesy way with an “ie.” After maturing two whole years as Kimmie, I decided I wanted to try it out with a “y” instead. I liked they way I could make the “y” turn into a kind of underline when I was signing my name. I also liked how, if I felt like it, I could loop the “y” and make a happy face in the loop. I was in fourth grade. Don’t judge me too harshly.

Then, in seventh grade, on the first day of computer class, I was writing my name and decided I wanted something a little more exotic. Something a little more sophisticated. I still wanted to be “Kimmy” but I wanted to be a little something different. (I should have know there was something wrong with me then…) So, while I was making my nametag tent, I wrote “Kimmi.”

I thought it was so cool and unique and I wrote it EVERYWHERE. Everything I owned said “Kimmi” at least 5 times. I was a walking advertisement for myself. I also felt so cool when someone asked how to spell my name. “It’s Kimmi, with two m’s and two I’s.”

After many years, I have kept this spelling. I get people asking me a lot why I still go by Kimmi, and not Kim or Kimberly, because most 25 year olds don’t keep their childhood nicknames. But I do. What can I say? I’m unique.

Plus, then when Barney Stinson (played brilliantly by Neil Patrick Harris) makes the following statement, I can laugh a little bit harder than everyone else:

“Don’t even get me started on girls whose names should end in y, but instead end in i. Those girls are like roller coasters. You gotta wait in a long line but once you get up there you hold on for dear life and hope you don’t drop your keys.” –Barney Stinson, How I Me Your Mother “The Three Days Rule”

No truer words were ever spoken.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Process (of Procrastination)

When I am determined to update this blog, sometimes I can’t just sit and write what I want. This is how it went today.

Turn on laptop.

Open Word. Type for about 30 seconds and decide to check my Facebook.

Text Ben before checking Facebook to see if he wants to go to Timmy Nolans for a beer later tonight. He can’t because he already has plans.

Open Firefox and go to Facebook. Look through everyone’s photos and statuses. See a link to something interesting: Jesse Jackson said the Cavaliers coach has a “slave master mentality.”

Go to google to look up the rest of the statement. Laugh hysterically at Jesse Jackson’s interpretation of how a hurt coach/owner reacts when his favorite player ditches him for warmer climates.

Decide that Jesse Jackson is kind of a nutter. It’s like a break-up. Dan Gilbert is just in the anger stage of grief and needs to lash out. Leave the poor rich white man alone.

See something about Christina Millian and The Dream broke up. Spend 10 minutes looking for the “racy” photos that brought about this announcement. Decide they were not worth the 10 minutes I spent looking for them.

Realize that nothing I am looking at has any real value to the world and go back to find something a little less trashy.

Read about the shooting in Albuquerque. Text Iisha, who lives there, to make sure she wasn’t shot.

Remember that I’m going to the beach tomorrow and look up weather. Looks like the LA beaches are going to be too cold and realize that Huntington will be our best bet. Text Meaghan and Jason.

Computer alerts me I am working on reserve power and will need to connect to a power source within 15 minutes.

Plug in the computer and decide to read instead of writing anything. I’ll get to it after Iago convinces Othello Desdemona is cheating on him. Or possibly after I read this long article Ben posted on Inception, which I don’t really want to see.

Read article. I totally want to see it now.

Should write, but I’m definitely going to read some Shakespeare instead.


(Read on the previous post to see what came after I finally got down to business.)

Jury Duty Part 5: The Kid Rock Story

Have you ever had a time when you can feel someone staring at you? Then, when you look up, he looks away awkwardly and blushes? Well that happened to me.

With Kid Rock.

Let’s back up. I was on a civil trial filed against Kid Rock for allegedly beating up some paps outside of a nightclub. Or allegedly egging on his posse to do so. Allegedly.

Anyway, he wasn’t in court most of the time. His lawyer claims it was because they wanted to minimize press coverage but I suspect the real reason had to be that Kid Rock is too big a rock star to actually show up to court. I know it was kind of a bogus lawsuit, but come on, dude, pretend like you care.

Finally, he shows up to court and it was, well, anti-climactic. There was one girl from TMZ that had been there throughout the trial, and 2 photographers. They interrupted another witness’s testimony in order to accommodate him, which bothered me because seemed like a cheap ploy to screw with the prosecution.

He is on the stand, totally indifferent to the questioning, making jokes and kind of being a jerk, so the prosecutor asks for a sidebar. After some not very covert whispering, the judge takes them into chambers. Kid Rock is still on the stand staring around the courtroom. The people in the gallery are talking quietly. The jury is pretending to go over their notes while really contemplating keeping that awesome doodle they made on the first day. Need I reiterate how BORING jury duty is?

I needed to get some water, so I lean forward and reach into my purse for my bottle. It takes me longer than it should because I have a penchant for large purses and therefore cannot find anything. As I’m searching, I feel someone eyes on me. Not sure if I am crazy and “feeling” strange things, I look up without sitting up. Instead of looking into a pair of eyes boring holes into my skull, I look at a pair of eyes boring holes into my BOOBS.

Yes, Kid Rock was looking down my shirt.

As soon as he realized I was looking up, he turned his head and started starring off into space. He got a little red but, thankfully, the lawyers and the judge came out and the trial continued.

I really can’t hold it against the guy. I wasn’t wearing something revealing, but let’s face it, no matter what I’m wearing, when I lean over, one can’t help but look. I could have held it against him for the rest of the trial, but I took an oath to render judgments only on the evidence presented to me and based on the instructions of the court. Unless the judge instructed me to render a verdict on him based on his being a pervert, it really didn’t pertain to the case.

I never did get my water, though. Bastard.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jury Duty, Part 4: This is not a TV show.

For some, Jury Duty is not a big deal. You have to call in, maybe go, and probably be done in a day or two. But we all know the kind of luck I have. My “hopefully only 2 days” turned into a 14 day trial. That’s 3 weeks in “business day” time. Or a whole lot of income lost. Or a whole of time spent sitting on my ass.

When we first walked in for jury selection, I thought I was for sure not going to get picked. It was a civil suit against Kid Rock for (allegedly) beating up some photographers outside a nightclub in 2006 or something. Correction: it was (allegedly) members of his posse. Allegedly. I thought, “Well all I have to do is tell them I work at a newspaper and I’m golden. They won’t want someone who works in the media on the jury. Plus, I’m smart. They will know that I will see through all the bull and they won’t want me. ”

I was wrong. Contrary to what everyone says, they didn’t want the simple, uneducated people with no opinions. They wanted the educated professionals who could think for themselves and make intelligent decisions. Son of a bitch. Every single person on the jury with me was smart and opinionated and willing to argue, not to mention at least 10 years older than me. (This made deliberations SUPER fun.)

Now, when you’re on a trial, it’s not like what you see on TV. It’s rarely exciting and it usually involves sitting around outside the courtroom while they go over motions and things like that. Then, when you’re actually in the box, there are still a lot of sidebars and "going into chambers." At least when you’re in the hallway, you can read. Not in The Box. You have to just sit and wait for them to come out of chambers. You can’t even make inappropriate jokes that have nothing to do with the trial to the jurors around you, otherwise you’ll get a stern scolding from the judge. (Ask me how I know.)

You might think that a trial involving Kid Rock was exciting. You’d be wrong. It was boring. There was a ton of testimony about things like where the sidewalk ends and the hotel begins, where the limo was parked, if you can see out of the windows of a limo("Well it was kind of dark and I mean, I had knocked back a few." I had no idea knocking back a few meant you went blind!), how cameras can be on a limo floor with no one seeing them, and why every single person had a different memory of the event. From 4 years ago. It was torture.

Deliberations in cases like this are much harder than criminal trials. They aren’t just “guilty or not guilty.” They are “did this person intend to harm this person” and “if that person did not intend to harm this person, did he still harm this person" and "was this person working under the assumed guidance of Kid Rock." It’s a lot of legal crap. Plus, when it comes down to deciding damages, how do you put a monetary value on “emotional distress”? It took us 3 days to finish everything and, by the end of it, we were all exhausted. I got elected foreperson (of friggin course) and, when, after reading the War and Peace length verdict, the judge said we had to come back the next day, I almost burst into tears. I had just spent three days playing mediator with a roomful of adults, some of whom were old enough to be my grandparents, and now I had to come back and play referee again???

When we came in the next day, the judge informed us that the “matter has been settled over lunch.” I was a mixture of indignation and liberation. I was finally free! But I just spent 14 days trying to solve this and they do it over LUNCH?! You’ve got to be kidding me! (Btw...we all agreed that the photographers had been beaten up and had their cameras stolen, but we had some trouble decided to what degree Kid Rock was actually involved. So we said that he should just pay the photographers medical bills and that's it. It took us 3 days to come to that and these guys figure it out over lunch. Bastards.)

A few days (and a whole lot of relaxing and not thinking) later, I went onto TMZ and found out that the photographers got $35,000. It wasn’t much, but it was more than we were willing to give them, so I got even angrier. They put me through 14 days of hell so they could see what we’d be willing to give them and then settle outside of court??? I wanted to track down the lawyers and slap both of them across the face. Or ask that they pay me for the 3 weeks of work I missed. Take your pick.

The trial wasn’t all bad. I did catch Kid Rock looking down my shirt when he was on the witness stand. But that’s another story….

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sometimes I'm not the one that says the funny things

Every once in awhile, someone says something that is just plain hilarious. Maybe it’s not funny to everyone else, but it was pretty damn funny.

John is one of my co-workers. He just moved here from Florida and sometimes he says things that crack us all up. What he said last night, though, has to be my favorite.

John (attempting to write two cups): Hang on. My pen isn’t working.

Me (impatient, as usual): Just give me the cups. I think I can remember 2 Fraps that are exactly the same.

John: Oh yeah, cause you went to Berkeley. (turning to the customer) She went to Berkeley. I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds impressive.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jury Duty, Part 3: Public Transpo & the "Honor System"

So I know I’ve already written about the adventure of the Los Angeles subway on my way to jury duty, but I left out one very important thing: the honor system.

In every other place I’ve taken the subway or rail or whatever form of underground there is (such as the weird hybrid that is MUNI…but that’s another post to come), you purchase your ticket and then swipe it to get through the turnstile. Then, when you leave, you either have to swipe again or you just leave. There are many ways to do this, but not in LA. We have to be idiots about it.

The first day I took the metro to jury duty, I bought my ticket and then walked up to the “turnstile.” Only, there was no actual turnstile. It looked like they had put up the turnstile, but then taken out the gate and left the posts. Ticket in hand, I walked up and looked for a place to swipe. There was no place to swipe. There was a round circle on the front of one of the posts that said “TAP here” so I did. Only nothing happened. I stood there like an idiot for a good minute before I watched another passenger just walk straight through. I did the same, but felt I had missed something. I’ve never jumped a turnstile before, but somehow I felt as if that’s what I just did.

Sitting on the train, all I could think of is how dumb of a system this is! Why would I even buy a ticket if I can just walk through? I’m a fairly honest person (despite what people think) and I would do it because I believe that nothing is free and if you are supposed to pay for something you should, but at the same time, I was tempted to not buy a ticket anymore. If I can ride for free, then why wouldn’t I? Especially if other people weren’t paying. It’s not fair to me to pay for everyone else. I might believe that you should pay for things, but I don’t believe I should be paying for a bunch of strangers.

All of these thoughts were going through my head when I was buying my ticket the next day. I ended up paying the $1.25, but not without a lively debate in my head.

It’s a good thing I did, however.

When I got down to the platform and boarded the train, there was an announcement for everyone to have their tickets ready. “Sheriffs will be coming through to check for tickets.” I watched at least three people get up and walk out, only to be grabbed by sheriffs outside the train. I wanted to ask the sheriff a ton of questions when he got to me, but I refrained because he looked like he had enough work to do without me asking a bunch of questions. I watched as several people got pulled off the train and were written citations.

A quick Google search told me that the ticket can be up to $200 and you have to show up to court! Plus, the MTA loses about $5 million a year from fare evasion. There is a debate about whether or not the MTA should spend the money to put in the gates and have people swipe in order to get through. In my opinion, there is no debate. People are dishonest. Even an honest person like me (keep your sniggering to yourself please!) thought of being dishonest simply because the MTA had made it so easy. LA, come on. Why can’t you just look at systems that work and model your system after one of those? Why must you be different and naïve? (I did find out what TAP meant. "Transit Access Pass." Very clever MTA.)

I ended up paying every time I rode. It was not worth $200 and another wasted day in court just to save $1.25.

Although, I am a bit tempted to jump a turnstile next time I’m in NYC.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Breakin' Up is Hard to Do

Here s the post everyone has been waiting for.

Only, you’re going to be very disappointed. (Sorry Lisa)

I was watching The Real Housewives of New York reunion (don’t judge…you have guilt pleasures too.) and Bethenny was asked about peeing on a pregnancy test stick on camera. She said that certain things she has no problem with being on camera but other things she keeps private. She said that there is a line and she decides where it is. They all signed up to have their lives shared with all of America, but there are some things off limits.

Why I quit my job as the newspaper is one of my things. (Sidebar...I quit my job at the newspaper and am back at Starbucks. Just an fyi)

It’s not peeing on a stick or anything, but for some reason, I don’t want to write about it and share it on a blog. It felt a little like a breakup, and even though there were no hard feelings on either side and it’s actually a really good and exciting thing, I’m not ready to share this story. Maybe I will be eventually but I’m not right now.

I will say again that there are NO hard feelings on either side and it is totally for the best. I am actually happier now than I have been in a really, really long time. I’m also really excited for all the changes I’m opening myself up to and I am hopeful they will all work out the way I want. But if they don’t, that’s ok too. It might sound cheesy, but I’m really excited for what’s to come.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jury Duty Part 2: There's a subway in LA??!!

While I was on jury duty, I had a ton of ideas for things to write about, but I never actually managed to. Thank goodness I wrote these ideas downs! That way, when I’m going through a notebook I had carried with me and happen upon some of my ideas, I have a post that is almost completely written for me! I’m nothing if not all about doing very little work.

One of the things that really stuck out to me was taking public transportation in Los Angeles(possibly for the first time ever…I seem to remember taking a bus with Grandma when I was a kid…maybe?). I have taken public transportation in NY and SF many times, but never in my hometown. It’s LA…we drive. Except that the drive into Downtown in rush hour traffic made me stress out so much that I would have convicted anyone just so I could get out before 3:30 and not have to come back the next day.

My friend Chad was actually the one who suggested it. He told me it was only $2.50 round trip and it would drop me off right at the courthouse. So, for the first time (possibly the last time…) I took Chad’s advice.

While the actual train was awesome(always on time, crowded on the way home but not unbearably so), I had one issue that I should have anticipated given the fact that it’s LA: parking.

“Park and Ride” stations. Sounds perfect right? The only problem is that there is not NEARLY enough parking for all the people taking the train! No actually there is, except that half the lot is for monthly parking. Which was NEVER even CLOSE to full. Rows and rows of open parking spots, all of which would be great for those of us who have to drive to the station because there is no bus anywhere near our residence. But NO. The MTA would rather leave those spots empty to early morning commuters in hope that people will pay a monthly fee.

I decided that maybe I should just buy a monthly pass. I knew the trial would take at least 14 days so, depending on how much it costs, a monthly pass might be worth it, if for no other reason than it would keep me from pulling my hair out looking for parking and then just end up parking in one of the monthly spots out of frustration and getting a $40 parking ticket. (Which I did.) But guess what? THE PARKING PASSES FOR THE NOHO STATION WERE SOLD OUT! WTF?! How can they be sold out when every single morning there are 5 rows with at least 40 spots each totally empty?! MTA, I would like an explanation, please.

In the end, the trial ended up lasting 15 days, 11 of which I took the subway. I might have been totally frustrated by the parking situation, but by the time I got to the courthouse, I was totally relaxed. I would read my book, listen to music or just people watch, which was probably the most interesting part about it. When you people watch in the car, you run the risk of crashing into the stopped car in front of you. (Which I haven’t done yet, but I feel like it might be one of those inevitabilities about living in LA, like fake boobs and spray tans.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Dart

It has been a long time since I updated my blog. That's what happens when you work 2 jobs and barely have enough time to do your laundry, let alone write anything interesting or worth reading. (Not that anything I write is interesting or worth reading, but I try.) But, well, I now only have one job, so hopefully there will be a whole lot more where these came from. (The "only have one job" is going to be a different post.)

Now comes the all-important question: What do I write after having been absent for so many months? Do I write about why I only have one job now? Do I write about the fun phone calls I’ve had to deal with? Do I continue my Jury Duty story that I never did continue? Nope...I feel like this post is going to have to be something easy, much like the first workout after not exercising for a long time. (Yet another post idea…) So, I’m instead going to write about something very near and dear to my heart: the Dart.

The Dart is a 1974 Dodge Dart that is kind of a family heirloom. My grandparents on my dad’s side bought it brand new in 1974. Then, my Aunt Bev drove it out to CSUN for college. Then, my grandparents drove it for many more years before giving it to my dad to update their ride to a pimped out Oldsmobile station wagon(corduroy seats anyone?). My sister then had the pleasure of driving it, and then, it came to me. I drove it almost every single day of my senior year of high school. My dad took it back when I started college and needed something to make the long drive out to Pierce. He drives it everyday to work. Except when my car has trouble and I have to us it.

We don’t have money or jewels to pass down generations, but the Dart is totally priceless.

Now, looking at it, you wouldn’t think much of it. The blue paint has faded and the white canvas top is almost completely gone. The seats are cracked so the padding is showing and the dashboard is not in the greatest shape. In order to open the trunk, you need a screwdriver and a little bit of lock-picking talent. This is all before I mention how my dad keeps every water bottle from the past year in the front seat along with his passes from work, his Thomas Guide, jumper cables, and straws. Plus, the Christmas lights in the back seat he got from General Hospital. (Do we actually need more Christmas lights? No, but the prop department was throwing them out so I must take them!)

Driving it is, well, to put it nicely, an adventure. There is a whole ritual to getting it to start and then you have to keep your foot on the accelerator to keep it from dying. When you need to brake, you have to pump the brakes three times and pray that three times was enough. The heater has to be on at all times so it won’t overheat. Also, just recently, it started popping out of gear so sometimes you have to slow down and let it pop back in.

You’re probably wondering why I would consider this POS as special. (Or if I just really have a thing for living dangerously.)

Here’s the thing: The Dart has never failed me. Sure, it’s died while I was sitting at a red light, but it always starts up. I might be sweating by the time I get to my destination, but I always get there. My right leg might get a workout pumping the brakes, but I always manage to stop. Plus, when my car (which I love very much) has some trouble, as all cars do, the Dart is there to get me where I need to go.

Even more than its reliability, the Dart has memories. I remember being a kid and driving around with my grandparents to run errands and pretending the hump on the floor of the backseat was a wall that my sister was not allowed to cross. I remember when my mom stalled it and couldn’t get it started again because she flooded the engine and then yelled at me because I was laughing pretty hard. I remember piling the whole basketball team in it to go out to lunch, even though most of my teammates were not supposed to leave campus for lunch.

The Dart is way more than a car on its last legs. It’s a part of my history and my family’s history. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

However, I will be happy when my car is fixed.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jury Duty. Part 1: Death and Karma

Jury Duty is something that every American comes across and must deal with at some point in their lives. Much like death. And, much like death, there is really no good time for Jury Duty. Alos, much like death, you can’t predict when it will come around.

I, like pretty much everyone I’ve ever met, was not at all happy when I got the summons. So, I This way, I rationalized, I was able to get everything set so if I had to go in, it wouldn’t be too destructive. After calling in Saturday to see if I had to report Monday and discovering that I didn’t have to go to court, I thought I was in the clear. I was wrong.

Monday night, prior to a movie night outing with Jason, I called in. “You are required to report to Stanley Mask Courthouse at 7:30 a.m.” NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Even though I had warned my job this might happen, it didn't make it any easier for them. Or me.

So at promptly 7:45 a.m., I walked into the Jurors Assembly Room to a woman explaining how to fill out the 8 questions needed in order to determine our eligibility and ability to be a juror. At promptly 8 a.m., I was falling asleep. On the plus side, I had come prepared with not 1 but 2 books.

During the two hours I was sitting around, I thought a lot about why Jury Duty sucks. First of all, you have to make arrangements with your work just in case you get called in. So, the whole time you’re doing it, it’s a big “IF” hanging over your head. “If” I get called in…”If” I get put on a trial…”If” I lie to try to get out of it and end up in jail for perjury…

Secondly, you get paid less than minimum wage for a system that your tax dollars are funding. If my tax dollars are going in toward this, then why am I not being compensated at least what I would be getting paid if I worked in one of the sweatshops a few blocks away.

Third, the whole process is completely screwed up. It is not a “jury of your peers” if you really think about it. (Now, this is going to sound racist, elitist, and every other “ist” that cause the politically correct to cringe, so I apologize ahead of time.) A jury of my peers would be naturally born Caucasian citizens with college degrees, two married parents, and an open, unbiased mind.

The longer I sat there, however, the more I thought about how I would feel if I were on trial and needed a jury. I would want people just like me on the jury. Not necessarily white and educated, but intelligent and open-minded. I woul”d want 12 “peers who could listen to both sides and see the evidence and make logical, informed, unemotional decisions based on that. I would also want people who understood that while this system is not beneficial in any way towards the jurors, it does allow every person in the US to get an opportunity to be part of the justice system, whether it’s actually serving on a trial or just making that phone call every night until dismissed.

I did get put on a trial and am currently serving. While I may complain about what a pain it is to get downtown and how the days are long and boring and how much money I’m losing by being out of work for 8-10 business days, I am glad I’m doing this. Mainly because my jury karma will be good so hopefully, much like death, I'll only have to go through it once.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Happy Birthday Grandma!!!

In honor of my Grandma’s 80th birthday, here are the top 5 things she has taught me:

5. In order for a bed to be made properly, the flat sheet has to be tucked in all the way around. Otherwise, she will make you do it again.

4. Travel is essential to life. (and that the educational/historical stuff is just as important and fun as the actual fun stuff.)

3. Its ok to be two sized bigger on top than you are on the bottom.

2. A Perfect Manhattan is, in fact, Perfect.

1. Family is the strongest bond we have and we need to keep that bond strong, no matter how busy or crazy life gets.

Thank you for all you’ve given me. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful grandmother. I love you and Happy Birthday!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This is as close to a Thank You note as I'm ever going to get

I am not a serious person.

Nor am I an emotional person.

However, in the past few days, I have been really reflecting and thinking and, well, feeling.

I look at what is going on in Haiti and I can’t help but feel incredibly sad for each and every person there, as well as every person here who has family or friends there. It is a country where there was so much turmoil before this huge earthquake, and now it is just in shambles. Food can’t be given out because of near-riots. Medical workers are being evacuated because of threats of violence. Rescue workers are not even able to get to the island because the airport and dock have been destroyed. Orphans are sleeping on the street because the orphanages are too dangerous to be in. Paperwork for these orphans is completely lost and, thus, these children don’t even exist. There is no clean water for people to drink. People are dying from diseases that we not only have cures for, but are what we consider minor. Mass graves are being built because there is nowhere to put these bodies and there is no way to find out who they are. People are missing, starving, and dying. It is so heartbreaking and, unfortunately, there is only so much we can do.

As I sit here, all I can do is be thankful for everything I have. I live in a country where our government is stable enough to live through natural disasters and tragedies. I have family and friends whom I love and who love me. I have 2 jobs that I complain a lot about but allow me the small luxuries in life. I have my health, and my life. I have never felt so grateful for everything I have. I find myself worrying less about the small annoyances and just being appreciative.

Thank you to every single member of my family and every single one of my friends for being so amazing. I know I make a lot of jokes and I complain a lot, but from the bottom of my heart, each and everyone of you means more to me than I could every express in words.

Thank you.