Monday, July 31, 2006

Newsflash #2

Tonight my brother came home.

Newsflash #1

Last night we watched WarGames - we were at the point where David escapes from the weird mustached (it seems like there should be an "O" in that word) and oddly costumed MP guy by recording the two-toned security code on the door - two toes on my right foot suddenly started cramping up. It was my second and third toes (if this were my hand, we'd be talking about my index and middle fingers), and the second one was pulling far away from my big toe - as if it smelled something very bad and had to get away. And it hurt - it was the strangest thing. Like a cramp or a spasm. Anyway, needless to say, this alarmed me. I walked around the living room a little to see if that would help, but it didn't. I waited about a half an hour, and then I went to bed.

This morning, at around 10-ish, it happened again (this time there was more of a tingling sensation than actual cramping), but my left foot this time, and not as bad. So I kinda panicked, and made an appointment for after work at Kaiser.

Turns out a lack of potassium can cause that to happen. So my doctor instructed me to eat more bananas and oranges and stuff. I found a website that says for my weight I should be eating 4800 mg of potassium a day, and that's a shitload of potassium. For example? 1 banana (which I just ate, thank you) has only 420 mg of potassium.

This is gonna be fun.

Can you see how thrilled I am?

Oh, and another thing I learned?
Soy kills sperm. Who knew?

Friday, July 28, 2006

The kindness of strangers

My friend Julie has written a blog entry about her friend, who was found by a passing motorist after hitting his head while skateboarding. He was pretty out of it - he suffered a serious head injury, and because of the kindness of a stranger, is now recovering in the hospital.

This story brings to mind something in my personal life, but I'm not sure how much to say... it concerns me but it's not my life - and I don't know if telling someone else's story here is the right thing to do. Well, here I go, anyway.

My oldest brother (I have two brothers and a sister, all older) has been having a hard time. In vague terms: a lot of his problems are self-inflicted. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to see how or why he's gotten to this place. It's been very hard to see him this way, especially because I look up to him. He has always been my style guide, my role model, since I was a little kid. I used to sneak into his room and steal his clothes (in the 80s: his Polo and alligator shirts, his Edwin jeans), his records (Talking Heads, Go Gos, Depeche Mode). I thought his life was so much more interesting than mine ever could be. He had cool things, he went places: he was friends with women who looked or dressed nothing like me or my sister (they wore heels and makeup, they had extravagant hairdos and fake fur coats): he was cool.

Because he is the oldest, I know he has been afforded some breaks, and because he is charming and lovable he has probably been able to hide his problems from his family and friends. For a long time, I think he hid behind his perfect exterior. Or maybe we're at fault for not looking behind that "perfect" exterior. And when he is not charming and lovable, we shy away from upsetting him, because his anger gets ugly, and no one wants that. There's a contradiction there but I'm going to move on instead of make sense of it.

I know for sure that he's in financial trouble. I know for sure that he was depressed. He's had a few health problems. For awhile there we didn't know where he was or who he was with or what he was doing, and that was very, very scary. The few times I did hear from him, he said he was on the street, or in a shelter, but I think he was staying with an old friend. I'm not sure he isn't above a little dramatic storytelling. I hope.

But then he showed up at my parents' house, and after a long period of just staying in his room, he started coming out and interacting with my family. This was right about in the middle of my mom's first round of chemotherapy, and we all were worried about him, but tried to just put the focus on her and let him be.

I think I've mentioned before that my mom is a pretty serious Christian. She's the kind of person who thinks everyone would be happier and better off if they'd just go to church. She believes in heaven and hell, speaking in tongues, faith healing... all the fire and brimstone stuff. Needless to say, she's pretty conservative, politically speaking, and she has no problem telling you what she thinks, and what she thinks you should be thinking. She worries, maybe too much, about all of us who probably aren't going to make it to the Nice Place. Every day she gets up and sits in her little armchair stuck in a cramped corner of her room, and she prays. This is real stuff to her, and she takes the bible, God, and Jesus very seriously. During this time for her - while her own health problems were at the forefront of everyone's minds, she was hit hard by what's going on with my brother. My dad too, but my dad is subtler about showing it.

(One day I'll write more about my dad, but for now, I'll say that he is the sweetest, kindest, most generous, hardest-working man I have ever known. He's been so good to my mom during her therapy, and he still has time to mow three lawns, make things for his friends, and help out around the house. You couldn't ask for a better dad.)

Then things with my brother started looking up. He started talking to us, and was around the house more, and seemed more himself again. He started calling his friends and taking care of himself. We heard him laugh again, and he opened up a little about things. And I think he started going to meetings. Nobody wanted to ask too many questions, and he didn't shout it from the rooftops. He started saying things like, "I have to go to a meeting." Before I realized what these meetings were, I asked him once how often he had to go, and he told me, "I could go everyday if I wanted to." I think he was going everyday, too; whatever they do at those meetings, it was helping him. We could tell.

The thing is, my mom and my brother have, even when things are perfect, a pretty precarious relationship. My mom has no problem telling us how to "fix" our lives, or what we should do with them. I think all mothers are probably like that… and I know she does it because she worries about us, and because she loves us. Her language, her methods are hard to take, but I mean, of course she loves us. But sometimes you can hear, "You should," or "You need to," one too many times. At what point does it become my own life, and my own problems, and my own solutions? So in a way, I understand if he has a hard time with her. But at the same time, I don't understand someone who can't see past their own problems and see the person who loves them the most for what they are: trying to help, trying to protect, maybe even trying to understand something they can never understand.

And then, with the chemotherapy, my mom just hasn't been herself. Sometimes she has great days, and she's in a good mood, and things are almost fine. But some days, especially after nights when she couldn't sleep, she's irritable, or just doesn't feel good, and with this crazy heatwave, I know she's uncomfortable. The cancer treatment has been hard on her, even though she's holding up remarkably well. For the most part I think she's really benefiting from her strong religious beliefs, but some days are just not good days, no matter what you believe.

So she and my brother - last week they had a spat, and my brother took off (my parents went to San Diego, and when they got home, he wasn't there), and we haven't seen or heard from him since.

All of us in my family have pretty sharp tongues. We've all been guilty of saying something without thinking, and hurting feelings in the process. We hardly ever find fault with ourselves when that happens or even realize what we've done until it's too late - I know I've caused some fights with Patrick because my brain doesn't catch up with my mouth, and it took me a long time to realize that it's unfair to think he'll just take it and forgive me. I do try to think first and speak second, but it's not always easy. So I think this is what happened with them - one, or both, of them said something they probably shouldn't have. And now he's gone again.

The thing is, they were probably both wrong, or maybe both right.

And so the bad thoughts battle the good thoughts, and sometimes the good thoughts win. It can't possibly be as bad as the bad thoughts get (that he's hurt, that he's lost, that he's dead). I know that it's hard, whatever he's fighting. I know that my brother is a good person. I know that envisioning terrible things doesn't help him, that it just means that I don't have faith that he'll make it. But it's hard not to worry. So: I worry. And I hate seeing my mom and dad worry, too.

I hope that someone might be with him now, someone who can see him for who he really is, and the wonderful person he can be, and I hope that person says the right things, the things we as his family can't tell him, because we're stubborn, because we're hurt, because we're scared. And if you happen to meet my brother, or someone like him, maybe you can be a better listener than we have been. Show him and tell him how valuable he is as a human being, that his family loves him, that whatever is going on can and will end.

And then I hope he listens.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Chop Suey Cafe, Revisited

Remember I mentioned going to Chop Suey Cafe?

I wrote a comment on the person's blog who had the review. My comment starts, "As this was the site of my first date...," a story you all have read already and probably know by heart. I think my blog entry was wittier than my comment. Anyway, someone (probably an employee or the owner or cook there; they seem to lurk on that site and make it a habit to respond to the comments they don't like) wrote a comment right after mine that says, "What exactly did you order?"

I don't feel like having a virtual conversation with a stranger on someone elses' blog.

I would love to have something to say about the egg rolls and the white rice, but unfortunately we were unable to taste either of those items. And our waiter didn't seem to give a shit.

The restaurant was empty, the service was slow, the menu was small, the music kept starting and stopping abruptly, and nothing tasted very good to either one of us. Isn't that enough?

Look, am I nitpicking? Maybe. I didn't like it. You might like it. Your friends might like it. But I didn't. And I'll never go there again. The rest of you are free to make up your own minds.

I don't know if I mentioned, on the other hand, what an awesome weekend I had.

We didn't do anything super exciting. We didn't save or change the world, or feed, clothe or shoe the children. But we spent time together and with my family and Patrick learned how to play Skip-Bo, which tickled my mother. He played three games with us (my mom won one, and I won two). We had Tito's tacos for lunch. We revisited the site of our first date (see above) and Patrick told me that he remembers the outfit I was wearing the first time we met (we saw an episode of What Not To Wear, and the lady - the bad dresser! - was wearing a sweater very much like a cardigan I used to wear). He also commented that way back in 1988 (the year we met) "you had some boobs." Classy. Thanks, honey, I didn't remember. We drank a couple Fat Tire beers (brewed in Fort Collins, Colorado!). We went to Record Surplus and got three records for only $6. We swam in the pool, and cleaned the kitchen some more, and read books and newspapers and watched "Super-Size Me" and the Rick Bayless cooking show and my goodness, it's weekends like this that remind me how much I love being married to this guy.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Chop Suey Cafe AKA Far East Cafe

Earlier this week, Patrick found out that the Far East Cafe had reopened, which we were pretty excited about - it was the site of our first "date" way back when. It was quite possibly my first time ever in a Chinese restaurant (I led a very sheltered life!). I was about 18, I guess, and pretty much had never been anywhere or done anything. Anyway, we read this review, and it kind of changed our minds: we were interested in seeing the reopened restaurant (it's been closed for several years now), but we weren't that jazzed about the descriptions of the food. So we thought we would try the other restaurant mentioned in that review, the New Formosa Cafe, but they were closed. It was hard to tell if they were just closed today, or forever. We turned around and drove back to Little Tokyo and decided to try the Chop Suey Cafe.

All I remember from that first date is that I was impressed with the restaurant's cool little private booths, and that we ordered hot sake, which I, of course, had never had before. Patrick thought he remembered what we ordered on our date, but I didn't. After that dinner all those years ago, we went to a Japanese animation store, which Patrick used to be really into, and then drove around Hollywood in his big white truck, laughing at all the hair-band fans milling about, in their spandex and big hair, on Sunset Boulevard.

Anyway, our dinner tonight was pretty disappointing. I ordered the barbecue pork, and Patrick had the house salad and chop suey. We also ordered some egg rolls, but were told by our waiter that they were out of them. It was a Saturday night, and there were only about 4 customers in the whole place, so I wondered at what point in the night they had run out of egg rolls, and just how long it takes to make them. I don't know, it just didn't seem like a good sign.

Our waiter was nice enough, but he brought out the dishes in totally random order, and only when he was refilling our water glasses sometime after we'd already been served, did he ask if we wanted some white rice, which sort of seems like the obvious acompaniment to this meal. And we said that we would like some white rice, and by replying in the affirmative, we kind of expected that we would actually receive some.

Stupid us.

Without the egg rolls, our food consumption was pretty light, so after we left there, we decided to check out Weiland Brewery, which is right up the street. Patrick just went there with his friend A.D. and really liked their garlic fries. And he was right - their garlic fries were pretty good. I had that beer I've been craving (they carried Fat Tire Ale, which we first tasted, if you remember, on our trip to Denver), and it all successfully cleared from our mouths the taste of that bad first dinner.

Happy Birthday!

I would like to wish a great big happy birthday to one of my favorite actors of all time... Harry Dean Stanton, who is 80 years young today (oops, I mean, yesterday. When did it become Saturday!?).

And, while we're wishing actors happy birthday, my good friend Bo Roberts had a birthday earlier this week, too. July 12 was Bo's birthday, and I don't think he'd like me to advertise his age here for the world to see, so I will just say this:

You will always be way older than me, motherfucker!

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Mark Rosenberg

I had a friend named Mark. Mark passed away a few years ago. He was a good guy. I was friends with him during the time I was with Drew, the man I didn't marry, so when we broke up, I stopped hanging out with the rest of those friends... I guess I thought a clean break was the right thing to do. I was probably wrong about that.

Anyway, it meant that I wasn't around when Mark passed away, and I didn't feel good about not going to his funeral, and all that - it was a hard time for me, but still: I probably should've gone, anyway.

But I mention him here because there's this one crazy thing that Mark used to say (he was a funny guy, with a very silly sense of humor. He loved beer, atrocious clothes, bargains, cars, and Depeche Mode, unfortunately; but he was big-hearted and loyal and a lot of fun, too; all those study sessions with him and Drew meant that I got an A in algebra for the first - and last - time ever), and it has to do with feet.

If we'd go out to eat (and we did, eat out a lot, all of us, or he and Drew would make these crazy, multiple course meals for us when we were studying), and the food was particularly tasty, Mark would say, in this weird little voice he had:

"That was so good it made my foot fall asleep."

And I don't know if that's a real phenomenom, or just something that happens coincidentally, or if he knew something I didn't know, but as it happens, on occasion, I will have eaten a special or hearty meal, and every once in awhile I'll find that my foot has fallen asleep. And it is at that moment that I will think of Mark.

And then I remember all those times I had to get out and help Drew push-start Mark's piece of shit car!

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Another post stolen from Julie

My friend Julie always has these cute things on her blog and of course the first thing I always do after reading hers is steal her ideas and use them on my own blog. As I have done here. Thanks, Juls!

I AM: struggling to fill in the blank, here

I WANT: a dog; to be one of those people who pays each bill when they come in

I HAVE: 2 cats; a good husband; a house; a car with airbags ABS, and a CD player (the Celica had none of those things); a great family; good friends; a refrigerator full of food (for a change)

I WISH: I wasn't such a procrastinator

I HATE: white flies on the hibiscus; drivers who don't use their turn signals; jaywalkers; when people park in front of our house and don't leave enough space for another car

I MISS: hanging out with Rachel E., Melissa, and Michelle (riding the bus to Westwood, going to Disneyland or Magic Mountain in the summer!); loving my job and my co-workers; living in Culver City; having a dog

I HEAR: Patrick banging on things in the back yard

I WONDER: when we'll have kids; if the young guy across the street (not the cat-sitter) is gay

I REGRET: not going to college

I AM NOT: going to Weight Watchers anymore (and I am also not 145 pounds anymore, either)

I DANCE: alone in the living room; with Patrick in Vegas and we have the elevator all to ourselves

I SING: in the car, in the shower, when I wash dishes. I don't think I sing that well, but I like doing it anyway

I CRY: more than you might think

I AM NOT ALWAYS: telling you the truth

I MAKE WITH MY HANDS: cookies occasionally; rude hand gestures to the people who refuse to use their turn signal

I WRITE: with a pretty fine hand

I CONFUSE: Brian Williams and Anderson Cooper (even though they look nothing alike)

I NEED: more pairs of shorts so I can stop wearing Patrick's boxers around the house

I SHOULD: lose 10 pounds

I START: mental lists and then forget almost everything on them unless I write it down right away

I FINISH: most books I start, but that doesn't stop me from not finishing books that suck.