Monday, April 7, 2014

All gloom considered

I received an email notification from NPR music today. The number one story was that Afghan Whigs have released a new album, their first in 16 years.

I've been listening to these guys since Patrick gave me my first CD, way back in 1990. That album was "Up In It." It scared the shit out of me, and held my attention in the same way books do. In the same way the strange and scary plays at City Garage do.

After that, it was on. There was something horrifying and wonderful about Greg Dulli, who clearly is a man unlike any I've ever known in real life (thank God?). He's sad and scared and mean. And boy, does he write about it, and sing it, in an amazingly compelling way. I still listen to those old albums, on a regular basis, and they set a mood that, though maybe not the sweetest place to be, is interesting. The guy just made me want to listen. He made me feel lucky, knowing that the men in my life, though maybe not perfect for me or whatever, were NEVER going to treat me the way he treated women, or talk to or about me in the way he did. And yet, I would love to know him, or someone like him, or at least, to have known him and to have seen with my own eyes what he was like. As it is, I can only imagine.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gigantor eats banana flavored ice cream.

Patrick has been showing our son a lot of old animation from his own childhood, and so my kid is now a three year old expert on shows like "Astro Boy," "Speed Racer," and "Gigantor."

The other day we were at Fry's Electronics, and I had taken Jules to the bathroom while Patrick paid for our items. We were walking down the cashier aisle on our way out, and Jules started singing the "Gigantor" theme song. You know those geeks in line and working there were all unexpectedly happy.

Every night, after I read Jules a book at bedtime, we turn off the light. Before he goes to sleep, sometimes I use the flashlight on my iPhone, and we make shadows on the ceiling. Sometimes I also tell him a story. I'll ask him, "What do you want me to tell you a story about tonight?" Lately his favorite topic has been Gigantor.

I'll admit to not knowing very much about Gigantor. He's a robot, right? A big one? That's about the extent of my knowledge. Oh: and I can sing the whole theme song. Of course.

On Saturday night, he said, "Tell me a story about T. [a kid in his class] and Gigantor!" I had to think hard. I said, "Okay..."

My story was not that great, but here it is.

"One day, T. was at the grocery store with his mama. T. was riding in the seat of the shopping cart, facing her [I included this detail because Jules doesn't always want to ride there, anymore. He'd rather ride in the basket], and they were having a very nice time at the store. Then, when they were in the ice cream aisle, T.'s mama remembered that she had forgotten to pick up some butter. The butter was just on the next aisle, and she told T. that she would be right back. She told him not to talk to strangers, and went off to get the butter.

While T. was sitting there, he heard something behind him. Clang! Clang! Clang! T. didn't know what it was, and he turned his head quickly to look behind him. Who did he see walking down the ice cream aisle? Gigantor! [J.'s eyes are huge at this point. I know this story is lame but my kid was eating it up.] Gigantor came right up to T., and he stood next to him. T. didn't say anything, because his mama had told him not to talk to strangers.

Gigantor asked him a question, though, and T. had to decide if it was OK to answer. Gigantor asked him, "What kind of ice cream should I buy? I don't eat a lot of ice cream, but I want some today!"

T. thought, and thought. He finally decided that his mama was coming right back, and that it would be OK to answer Gigantor's question. [I asked J.: "Do you know what T.'s favorite ice cream flavor is?" He said, "Banana!" I said, "Banana!? Okay..."] T. told Gigantor that his favorite flavor of ice cream was banana. Gigantor looked on the shelves but didn't see the banana flavored ice cream. Finally, he noticed the banana ice cream way down on the bottom shelf. Gigantor was too big to bend down to reach it. T. said, "Don't worry! Mama will be right back and will get it for you."

Just then, T.'s mama came back from the other aisle. She saw Gigantor standing next to the cart with T. in it, and she got a little scared at first, because Gigantor is so big. Then she recognized the giant robot, and realized that it was OK. When she reached the cart, she introduced herself to Gigantor.

Gigantor said, "Hello, T.'s mama! [Neither I nor Jules know the name of T.'s mother] Do you think you could please help me reach the banana ice cream on the bottom shelf? I'm too big to bend down."

T.'s mama said, "Of course, Gigantor," and she bent down and got some banana ice cream. Gigantor thanked T. and his mother, and went walking down the aisle toward the cash register. Clang! Clang! Clang!"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Technology, walking, and passing some chick like she was standing still.

Sunday, I went for a walk.

It was hot Sunday, but I was feeling guilty about the matzoh ball soup, cake, delicious omelette with bacon, fried chicken fingers, tacos, chips and salsa, cookies, scrambled eggs with butter, and other various bad things I had eaten since Friday, so I put on my sneakers, and, while Patrick was giving JP a much needed, "daytime bath," took off.

I've been a little lost without my Fitbit Force, which I returned about a month ago. No, I didn't (surprisingly) come down with the dreaded mystery rash many Fitbit Force users succumbed to, but instead, my Force just stopped worked. The display would freeze, and then the thing stopped recording my activity. Patrick returned it for me, got a store credit from Best Buy, and advised me to sit tight until whatever Fitbit replaces it with comes out. I've also had a few people telling me that Apple may (or may not) be working on a fitness band, too... which is intriguing. In any case, without my Force, I've been using the (horrible, I do not recommend, I downloaded this thing years ago and need to upgrade) app "Map My Walk" on my iPhone. I hate this app. Maybe if your activity (run, bike, walk, whatever) is continuous, it's OK, but because I usually walk with my toddler (who sometimes wants to get out of the stroller, and who, when he gets out of the stroller, sometimes wants to pick a dandelion... or twenty) and because sometimes you have to stand there and wait for a light to change before you can cross the street... it's not a good fit. And, I hate having to pause my workout - it should intuitively know that I'm not dead or slacking but that I'm waiting for something important (a green light). The last few times I used it, it didn't even actually "map" my "walk" (I know for a fact that I walked at least 2 miles, and it only logged 0.6). And the stupid thing doesn't count steps (it's not a pedometer, so calling it stupid for not doing something it doesn't bill itself as being something it even does is unfair, but I just want you to see how useless this app is for my purposes), so whatever. Oh, the "pace" thing drives me nuts. Normally I'm not at all interested in how fast or slow I am going - I walk as fast as I can, and that may be pretty slow, but telling me I'm walking a 25 minute mile pisses me off, and not in a "get out there and go!" kind of way.

So anyway, it was hot Sunday, and I had shorts on for the first time all year (these shorts... are not cute. But when they fit me, I get excited, because they tend to feel small), and my big goofy floppy hat, and I took off. I decided to check out a new bunch of streets on the other side of Bellflower (judging the exteriors and yards of the houses in the immediate vicinity of my own home has gotten to be very boring), and I was feeling pretty good, if also pretty sweaty as I was coming home (gone for about 40 minutes; hence the 2 mile estimation). Then I spotted a woman ahead of me.

She was dressed in jeans, wearing sneakers, a pink jacket, a pink baseball cap, and was carrying a lightweight burgundy sports bag over her right shoulder. I was pretty sure she'd gotten off the bus, so she hadn't been walking for long. Her hair was long, straight, brown, and pretty, and as I approached her, I realized a couple of things.

1. This woman was not old. She was my age or younger.
2. She was probably on her way to the park for a game.
3. I was going to have to either slow down to avoid passing her, or... stay at my pace and pass her.

This kind of thing causes me all kinds of unnecessary anxiety. I like to say that I'm not competitive... but dude: I totally am. I know when I'm outclassed, though, and I accept that (usually). But, I had to do it, so I passed her.

"Excuse me!" I said.
"Oh! Sorry!" she said.
"Have a nice day!" I said.

Now, if she'd decided to break into a run or something (attack me, for example), I would've been screwed. Outclassed: I know when it happens. But she didn't, and so, in passing her, in my dorky old green Gap shorts and big ass floppy hat, I felt pretty good about myself. That I did it with a sweaty smile makes it feel even nicer.

The so-called "Goddess of Light and Sound" rides again!

Last week, unexpectedly, I received an email entreaty to resume my duties in the booth at City Garage for the next production. After my last total failure over there, I was pretty sure I was never going to hear from them again... but desperation makes people do some pretty desperate things (deep, right?). The other thing was, I was also pretty sure I never wanted to do it again. I took it pretty seriously (all the mistakes!) and just felt BAD about it last time.

However, if they hadn't asked me, I probably would've been upset about that, too. Aren't I a strange woman?

Anyway, I talked it over with Patrick, and on Sunday, told him that I wanted to do it.

There are few reasons why I decided to put myself through this again:

  1. My old friend Bo is in the show, and he and I can carpool (so if I screw up I don't have to kick myself all alone; he's quite good at making me laugh).
  2. The show is written by Charles Duncombe, the director's husband and the man I work with in the booth; his work is always really interesting to me.
  3. The show has connections to the last one; I like that kind of continuity. 
  4. I'm only being asked to be available for 4 weeks (two weeks of rehearsal, plus two weeks of shows). Who knows if this is what it will really be as time goes on, but that's a pretty good gig.
  5. Redemption, motherfucker.
So. Look for me in the booth starting April 4th. Yeah, I know the booth operator isn't exactly a draw for most people going to the theater, but you're here to read about ME, right? 

For more information, go to www.citygarage.org. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

In consideration.

Yesterday I was asked to do something I had sort of told myself, that due to prior disastrous results, I would never do again.

On the one hand, it did feel good to be asked again ("you were terrible that one time but maybe this time will be different" - not what anybody said to me but now you know some of my inner dialogue), and on the other hand, oh my god, total anxiety now.

I told the person who asked me to do this thing that I needed to think about it and talk to Patrick about it (because it involves a really, really big time commitment), and I did, sort of, talk to Patrick about it last night. But because I know how protective of me he is (I was really shattered by, I know, my own feeling of failure; no one made me feel that way except me), I told him I didn't want to really discuss it just yet. I need to let it set for awhile. I know that his automatic reaction is going to be "no."

 Maybe that should be my automatic reaction, too. The thing is, I'm considering it.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

I've been around.

I haven't blogged in a while, and I blame Facebook.

All I can say is, I've been around.

Here's what I've been doing (none of it is super exciting):

1. Watching a show on PBS called "Super Skyscrapers" - though when I say "watching," I mean that I saw that it was actually a show that existed and that I thought I would be interested in it, and then I caught about 40 minutes of an episode the other day while JP was taking a nap, and then I also fell asleep - so by "watching," I mean, considering watching and then seeing a tiny bit of one episode.

2. Watching Jimmy Fallon/Seth Meyers - there have been a few sleepless nights in my life in the past couple of weeks, and instead of laying there in bed like I usually do, a couple of times I got up and decided to check out the new shows. Jimmy is a funny guy and enjoyable, as always. I thought that Seth Meyer's first night looked a little rough (those guest chairs are awful) and in spite of the very positive review the NY Times gave him, he seemed scared to me. I loved Fred Armisen, though. Oh, and whoever chose Big Cruel World or whatever that band's name is for the first night (they played a song that essentially made me want to die) should be fired.

3. Deciding that Lorde is not for me. I don't like it. I might just be old, but I might also be a genius. Who can tell so soon?

4. Not practicing enough. Flute choir is playing an arrangement of Flower Duet and there's a one bar spot with quadruplets (in 6/8) that I'm not getting (and I think I'm the only one not getting it) that's embarrassing the fuck out of me. Also my tone is coarse and my piccolo playing is spotty. I need time to practice.

5. Last weekend I went to see a friend's band, Bikos, in Santa Monica. They were awesome and I highly recommend.

6. Listening to Neko Case. We've had a bit of rain during the past couple of days, and dude, floating down the 5 freeway with "Ragtime" on the radio is one happy place to be.

7. Bra shopping. After 6 months of no breastfeeding, the boobs are finally settling down into a realistic size. I know some of you might be thinking, hey, TMI (and some of you might be unnecessarily stimulated) but if I can't tell you, my blog, about my body, then who can I tell?

8. I lost 5 pounds over 5 weeks, and then last week I gained, inexplicably, 3. I admit it: I cried. It might be an anomaly that can be attributed to water weight (I had my period last week), or it might be that the Victoria's Secret "Body by Victoria" bra I was wearing for the first time to my meeting weighs 3 pounds. Hey, anything is possible. Needless to say, this is yet another reason to wear exactly the same thing (which I was, with the one exception) to every meeting.

9. Walking my butt off. Though I guess I need to ramp it up a bit. See no. 8.

10. Reading the same issue of The New Yorker for 3 weeks. Man. I never used to be this slow.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm in the waiting room of the mammography unit at Kaiser. It should all be fine and routine: I'm only here because when I had that infection and then surgery when Jules was a few months old, I was told to get this check up after I stopped breast feeding.

I stopped breast feeding when? In July? Anyway, here I am. Better late than never, right?

I have to say that I think it's pretty funny that the thing that's concerning me the most right now is the fact that I wish I'd worn pants with an elastic waist instead of jeans. I'm worried about my muffin top.

It's not my first mammogram; I had one several years ago after my doctor felt something that turned out to be a cyst: nothing.

The other ladies in the waiting room are speaking Spanish to each other, and I'm finding their camaraderie enjoyable. They're all older than me, but one is also wearing Uggs. I don't know what I mean by that. The other is with her mother.

The most chummy thing my mom and I ever did together was go to traffic school together.

Anyway, it's cold in here, my boobs are bigger than they were the first time I did this, and yeah, I'm a little nervous about other things than the size of my gut. Wish me luck.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Due to circumstances beyond our control.

During the two weeks I was out on vacation, staff in my office noticed that files and folders they normally have access to on the "shared drive" were missing. Someone called in to the help desk and opened a ticket but nothing happened. When I returned to work on Monday, this issue was brought to my attention. The person who opened the ticket wasn't here that day, but I used their employee number and called in to follow up.

The woman I spoke to couldn't find a ticket for this person, so I opened a new one (update: after reviewing all the back and forth emails that I was privy to, it turns out that the other person did open a ticket. I have no idea why the somewhat grumpy help desk lady I talked to couldn't find it). I gave all the information I had: that as of December 18, staff couldn't access the folders and files on the shared drive. The folder that they used to use was "gone."

What we do here isn't rocket science, but it does impact our department's employees. We use the data on some of the files to create reports for our department's executives, who use those reports, in turn, to keep their bosses informed. Lawsuits and record-keeping and employee confidentiality are all impacted when our staff can't do their jobs.

The next day, I received word from the IT tech who had been working on our problem that our files and folders had been restored, but only through October 30th. Why this date, I wondered, and I emailed him, this and a few other concerns.


After a long and complicated chain of emails, this person finally said, "Due to circumstances beyond their control, the most recent backup/restore operation was back in October."

Other information was provided to me, but all you need to know right now is that the backups, which are supposed to be done incrementally and on a set schedule, were not done. For two months. Two months!

Oh, and he tried to blame it on us! He said, Had we received word when it was noticed that things had gone awry, this could have been prevented. How!? The backups would still not have been created because we have nothing to do with that process. We can only sit at our desks, do our work, and hope that some guy in a server room is answering "yes" when asked "do you wish to create backup" or whatever the procedure is. I assume it's more complex than this but who knows? Dudes. Set up an iPhone reminder to backup our work or something.

Some of the things that are standard operating procedure in my office are overly complex and not very efficient, but certainly recreating two months worth of work is not a very good use of time.

So I thought about this for awhile, and I decided that this guy doesn't understand what "circumstances beyond our control" really means... or, more likely, or hopes that I don't. "Circumstances beyond our control" means, to me, that as the dude responsible for setting up the backsup was reaching for the mouse to perform that very action... as his arm was stretched out, that dude suffered from catastrophic heart failure. Or a meteor, undetected by scientists, struck the building in which he was sitting, obliterating everything.

Anyway, I've also been working with another guy from something called the "Problem Solving Unit," who apparently follows behind our techs and ensure that proper customer service has been provided. That guy speaks my language, understands our dilemna, and is (apparently) riding the butts of the crew who screwed up. Actually, I don't know about that last part. They may all just be putting off the inevitable, which is to tell us that our work is lost.

The good news is, I've engendered a nice jocular relationship with the Problem Solving Unit guy. His name is Claude. I'm hoping he comes out here one day to meet us all. And maybe take us out to lunch.