Friday, February 29, 2008

Sit down

7:45 p.m.
I'm practicing my flute for the first time - I'll admit it - in months. I've played my flute but none of that counts as practicing. Last night we had flute choir for the first time in awhile, and then I missed a couple of weeks due to work, and I had to work my ass off. Good players, everywhere.

Right now I was just playing some long tones (E flat Major)... and about half way through I wanted to (needed to?) sit down.

Not a good sign.

Surprisingly the cats are not bleeding from the ears yet. Or packing their bags.

8:45 p.m.
Well, I'm done. It was only an hour, and yes, it did feel better eventually. Sounded better, too. I pulled out the Concertino, by Chaminade. I played it my senior year in high school, and it's fun, beautiful, and not that easy anymore. I'm wondering if Greg, a senior this year, will play it. I wonder if him being half my age makes me way fucking old. After that, I worked on flute choir music. We're playing some really fun, hard pieces, and in addition to the regular whole group stuff, we're doing some small ensembles. I'm in a quartet, working on a killer piece called "Dizzy Fingers," which should give you some idea of what to expect.

Now, I go to pop a big bowl of popcorn and plop back down on the couch.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"That sent chills up my spine."

Last night after the show (hey! You have two more chances to see "The Bald Soprano" at City Garage! What are you waiting for?), I was waiting in the lobby for Patrick to come pick me up. Cynthia, the actress who plays daffy, forgetful Mrs. Martin, was also waiting, and I told her what a good show it was last night (it was - they really did a wonderful job). I told her that she delivers my favorite line in the whole show (see title of today's post), and she told me that she noticed that line usually gets a laugh, but sometimes it doesn't. I told her that for me, what I like about it, is when she says it sarcastically - as if she really means to say, "That was the stupidest thing I've ever seen." It's a funny moment, and it goes by pretty fast, but I love it. I like watching her onstage, she's always good.

Before we talked about that, she thanked me for being in the booth (she really is a very sweet person, and I enjoy her offstage, too. She's so nice!), and she told me that to her it feels as if I am a part of the cast as well. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it was a nice thing to say. I'm getting ready to head down there now, and I hope tonight's show goes as well as yesterday's.

Gone Country

I'm worried.

I've been watching the CMT show "Gone Country," and it's entertaining (though, one question: when do we get to hear them sing?). I'm worried though, because the very first time I saw the beautiful, huge home the celebrities are living in, I said to Patrick, "Hey, man, I think that's Barbara Mandrell's house!"

I have no idea why I knew that.

Just now I was reading on Wikipedia that yes, indeed, that is Barbara's home.

I didn't know who John Rich was, but I knew this.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Random Email

Since I do this so often anyway, I've decided to regularly post a random email to and/or from me. I know. Where do all these good ideas come from and when will one of them make me a multi-millionaire?

Start conversation at the bottom and work your way up like the rest of us, you slippery dog, you.

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 4:29 PM, Irene wrote:
Awesome. Last time I smelled lemon pledge it turned out Patrick's cousin had made us a lemon cake and it was amazing.

What, it could happen.

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 2:42 PM, Somebody wrote:
Do you REALLY wanna know!?!?!? Kidding - She's been a little quiet today. After the whole Conference room hide-out yesterday, she's almost shaken my universe. That was really funny by the way - only made worse by you mouthing the words "napping." I hope we're both wrong. It's so sad. Does she have her mail delivered specifically to Headquarters, c/o "conference room D" or "file room"? Several times I passed your gauntlet and the entire area smells like lemon pledge. I mean, all day its smelled like this. Think she's disinfecting while you're not here? If there's a Molatov cocktail of bleach in your chair when you get back, I'd start with questioning and end with a little water boarding on our permy headed friend.

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 10:58 AM, Irene wrote:
Thank you! I just got up. Damn it's cold. What evil doth E. today?

On Fri, Feb 22, 2008 at 9:11 AM, Somebody wrote:
Get your booty up and get to the gym. Maury isn't going anywhere - he's on all damn day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Don't let me down

I keep forgetting to mention that last Friday, Patrick and I went to a bar in El Paso called the Riviera. Patrick's cousin Adrian's band Brown Betty played that night. Brown Betty is, I guess, a cover band, which - I know - doesn't sound promising, if you've had the same sort of bad bar band experiences I have (well, when I was in my 2os. Picture Gabe's bar in West LA, with a band that not only couldn't play what I requested [and they asked for requests] - "Rocky Raccoon," by the Beatles - or the song they suggested instead - "Dirty Deeds," by AC/DC; Gabe's was the favorite bar because it had foos ball - another thing in which I was not interested - but it was closer to home than McGinty's), but, with Adrian (truly a talented and inspiring player) on guitar and vocals, they made every song they touched (and they literally can touch thousands of songs) either sound as good as or better than the originals.

Three songs they performed that night that, for various reasons, really impressed me:

1. Don't Let Me Down, by the Beatles - they opened the night with this song, and I woke up the next morning, still a little drunk, with it in in my head, and even sang it in the shower - I never, ever, sing in the shower when I'm staying over someone elses house.

2. Ziggy Stardust, by David Bowie - I listened to "Crackle" by Bauhaus on the plane ride to El Paso, and had been discussing their version vs. Bowie's original (Bowie's wins, but the Bauhaus version rocks, too) with Adrian. They whipped this one out for us, and then Adrian's dad bought everyone a round of tequila, which almost made me miss...

3. Message in a Bottle, by the Police - the band had a bit of a personnel change for this one: different drummer and bass player, and Adrian sang and played guitar: I don't dance (more than I don't sing in the shower at other peoples' homes), but I swear to god, had I been able to set my feet on the floor without assistance, I would've been dancing to this one. This is strong praise, in case I've not laid it on quite thick enough.

Damn. I'm sleepy. Last night I got up at 2 a.m. with a hacking cough. I felt as if the whole inside of my chest had been spread with glue, and none of that glue was budging no matter how powerfully I coughed and attempted to dislodge it by smacking my hand to my heart. I was up for about 45 minutes, sitting on the lowered toilet seat in the dark bathroom with earplugs in my ears. One thing I can tell you for sure is, that kind of violent coughing, if done while wearing earplugs, will scare the shit out of you. Surprisingly Patrick slept through everything.


Unplanned rhyme of the night:

"There's nothing worse than watching something boring with someone who's snoring."


Here's an email I sent earlier today - it doesn't quite qualify as an "Ask Paul" feature, though, if you read carefully, you will see that I did indeed ask Paul a question.

Pauly, are we having shows both nights this weekend or is it just next weekend that's funky? I am confused [we are running "The Bald Soprano" both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, and only on Sunday, next weekend. That gives you three more chances to see it before it goes away forever].

By the way... Patrick installed the iPod cable thing in the Honda this weekend! I love it
[Paul and I had been discussing this for months. He got his a long time ago]! More music than you could shake a stick at, all right there in my own car! Woo hoo!

Dear Email Gods: Please Do Not Deliver This Message Or Any Other Messages From Me To Paul Into Paul's Junk Folder Because I Am Starting To Get a Complex and For Me, That Is Just About As Bad As Psoriasis And/Or Bad Breath And/Or Dandruff And/Or The Dreaded Fatal Muffin-Top Syndrome. Thank You. Amen.


By the way, City Garage has once again gathered up several nominations for LA Weekly Awards, which you can check out, here. I'm not sure if anybody over there reads this blog, but if you do, and you still haven't seen the wonderful work they do over there in Santa Monica, you should check it out. You won't be disappointed.


Good night.


This morning I went to my math class. Remember... my remedial math class? I'm taking this class so I can take other classes so I can get a promotion? Or something like that? I go every Thursday morning for three hours, and those are the longest three hours since time began. Usually our class consists of some review, a quiz, reading (together! I hate to fucking read together) this non-math book that contains tips and encouragement for us to be better students.

Today I got pissed off. Today I got pissed off, and we didn't even touch that horrible, secondary, non-math book.

So most of the stuff we're studying, I guess we also learned in the 7th grade. And I almost remember learning it in the 7th grade. Last week was fractions and decimals (well, one week was fractions and the next was decimals, but because I was in El Paso, it was all done in one week. Oh, okay, it was all done in one night: yes, I did two weeks' worth of work in about 2 hours, with American Idol providing the background), and this week, ratios and percentages.

Now, the way our actual math book is set up, is, it's a story book. Yes, you read that correctly. As possibly the youngest person in my class at 36 (hey, I had a birthday! Happy birthday to me!), I do not want to be learning math via a story about Sondra and Jackson and a big black cat named Beauregard, and them making lemonade, and I can only imagine how some of the older people in that class feel. For me, it's a dumb way to teach anything, to children or adults. Teach me the basics first and then if you feel so inclined, show me how it works in a story afterward. For now, I don't want to be learning, anything, this way. I just don't. In fact, fuck that. Fuck that, I say!

And now you see that I am pissed, but perhaps I haven't really explained why, or if I have, I haven't done a very good job of it. I am pissed because I know I know how to do this shit. I know I know how to figure out what 65% of 300 is. I know I do. In fact, I can almost remember Mr. Nakayama teaching this to me a hundred years ago. I can see Rachel sitting in front of me, and some guy named Carey sitting to my left... and I almost remember it. Yeah, so what if I was also writing "Irene [heart] Eric Taylor" on my peechee notebook. What's your point? And so why is it totally escaping me today? Why am I struggling with this? Because Mr. Nakayama demonstrated how to do it on the board and then had worksheets with problem after problem on it, and you did the same type of problem for awhile before you moved on to the next ones, and because as boring as it sounds, REPETITIOUS PRACTICE actually works.

Instead, we jumped from thing to thing in an ice cold room (and why do I get so tired in cold rooms? What's up with that?) and the teacher was a space case today and my seatmate kept asking me the answers and I just got pissed.

And then I missed my freeway exit on the way home and took wrong turn after wrong turn, and it took me 45 minutes instead of 30 to get home.

Fortunately now I am going to eat some lunch with my three cats in a warm house and the television before I have to get my ass back to work, where, well, talk about aggravated. Let's not even start.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anticipation dreams

("Anticipation": yes, that is a euphemism)

Last night I had two separate dreams:

1. I'm at the beach with those Jackass guys. No, let me rephrase that. I'm at the beach, and so are they, but other than noticing that they're there, they have nothing to do with this dream. I guess they've been in the news lately. Everything is in grays and blues and it's kind of a dark day at the beach, but warm. It's a cove - there are cliffs that swing around almost in a circle. I'm walking in the calm water back to the beach, wearing a t-shirt and with a towel around my shoulders. Then the water all starts getting sucked out - a huge wave is developing. I can hear it and feel it, and it's absolutely terrifying. I can't make it to shore so I wrap the towel around my head and take a huge breath and dive into the shallow water. The wave goes over head, and it seems like forever before I can stand up. And I can't see, or hear, anything, and now I'm wandering around trying to find the beach before another wave comes.

2. I'm at work. A new guy who started while I was on vacation asks me for some paper. I'm walking with him to the cupboard to show him where it is, and I encounter my co-worker. She's pushing a dolly with a file cabinet on it that's taller than she is. She says her famous words, "I'm so glad you're here" and then I'm back at my desk. I've got piles and piles and piles of files and papers and supplies everywhere and it's like 9 o'clock at night - there's a huge ticking clock on the wall in front of me.

Pretty cool, no? I'm coughing and my ears still hurt and instead of drying my hair I decided to get down these two dreams. There were a lot of details that I wish I could remember - in dream #2 I had a really cool dark wood desk and I think instead of a cubicle I actually had an office with walls and a door.

Off to work. One good thing: I can listen to my iPod in the car.

Monday, February 18, 2008

El Paso Photos

We went to a rally for Hillary Clinton! Sorry for the crappy zoom. It was really pretty exciting.

We also went to Carlsbad Caverns. It was cold, and yes, I had been wearing those jeans for about three days in a row by the time this photo was taken. The darkness behind me contained a lot of beautiful stuff that you'll just have to go there, pay your $6 (I know! Less than a freakin' movie!) and see for yourself.

This is me and my uncle Johnny. He's 83! Unfortunately, his wife Mary died last year after they'd moved to El Paso, so I didn't get to see her in their huge new house. She and I share a birthday.

If you're interested in seeing more of my photos from El Paso, click on the link of today's post.

Home again

Oh, man! So much to write about. Unfortunately I'm not going to do it right now, as I am the victim of a serious head cold. This morning I woke up with both ears totally malfunctioning. I tried to pull off the Valsalva manuever but it's not helping.

Everybody on the plane ride home on Saturday was coughing, sneezing, and dripping something out of their orifices; we were stuck on the tarmac in Phoenix for an extra hour, so all that goop had plenty of time to fester in the air and make it's way to my seat. When I say, "everybody," maybe I'm exaggerating, but it seemed like fucking everybody was sick. So it's no surprise that I too am now working on my own cold. Ha! Karma! (Just kidding!)

I will tell you that today Patrick got me my birthday present (eight days late, but hey, we were out of town!) - he had the audio thing installed in my car so now I can listen to my iPod while I drive! Totally cool.

Now I gotta go lie down or something.

Photos and more about my trip later.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The word from El Paso, Pt. 2

I can't believe it's Friday already. We're having a great time in Texas. Patrick's family is so nice.

Let's see. On Tuesday we rode around with Adrian and scouted out more sights in town. He drove us all over and we had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant called La Nortena. The tacos were just like my mother makes them (shells fried on a black cast iron skillet): delicious.

To tell you the truth, a lot of what we've been doing involves eating, and with one exception, it hasn't been disappointing. The food out here, Mexican and otherwise, has been top notch.

Wednesday, Patrick and I got up early and headed to New Mexico again, this time to Carlsbad Caverns. I've been in caves before (Crystal Caves in Sequoia, but not since I was really young); Carlsbad was HUGE. Unfortunately it's not bat season, so we missed the famous bat flight, but all in all it was a really interesting time. It took us about three hours to tour the whole place (and I must be very much out of shape, because my legs are still sore), and it was beautiful. Photos to come!

When we got back home to El Paso, Patrick wanted to have dinner at this place called Chico's Tacos (personally I wanted to visit La Nortena again...). It wasn't my favorite, let's just put it that way.

Thursday was again spent with Adrian graciously playing tour guide. We saw the historic part of El Paso - the old Fort Bliss buildings, El Paso high school (which is beautiful) and ... Oh! More later. We have to go pick up Patrick's mom and take her shopping now.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The word from El Paso

We're having a great time. El Paso is a cool town, with lots to see and do, thanks to Patrick's cousin and his girlfriend, and his mother. Saturday when we got to town, we went to a Mexican restaurant called Kiki's. The food wasn't fancy but it sure was delicious. After that we went to a few bars and drank and hung out.

Sunday we visited Old Mesilla, which is actually in New Mexico. Pretty cool to visit another state. Don't do a lot of that in Long Beach (unless the state of confusion counts). After that, Patrick's family had a little mini reunion. They were all excited to see Pat's mom. And, they were very sweet: it was my birthday, and they sang happy birthday to me and had a cake. Everyone's been very nice and are making us feel very much at home.

Today we hung out with Adrian in downtown El Paso and visited Concordia cemetery. It's a pretty cool place, and when Patrick's dad was with us eight years ago the last time we visited here, he found his father's grave. Patrick couldn't locate it now, and unfortunately there was no headstone, but even still, it was very interesting. Many, many people buried there, and it's a very old cemetery.

Here's a quote from one of the more famous people buried there, John Wesley Hardin, a bad man who died in 1895. It's appropriate because right now Patrick is taking a nap beside me.

"They say I killed six or seven men for snoring. Well, it ain't true, I only killed one man for snoring."

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'm (almost) outta here

I have a zillion things to do but instead I'm sitting on the computer. Jesus, would someone unplug it. Oh, and my neighbor is listening to what sounds like New Kids on the Block but is probably the soundtrack to "High School Musical." Really loud. It's time to turn on the stereo and drown him (yes, it's a "him;" and I think he's in his 20s now) with something good.

Tomorrow Patrick and I leave for El Paso. We're taking his mother to see her sisters and family she hasn't seen since our last trip there (which, if I remember correctly, I had said would literally be my "last trip" to El Paso, because it was a million degrees, humid, and El Paso didn't exactly reach out and grab me; this time around I'm wondering if I didn't give El Paso a bum deal. For one thing, we're staying longer, and we're renting a car, so we're going to get out and drive somewhere, and for another thing, we're staying with Patrick's cousin, and he's super-cool. So how could we not have a good time? Seriously. Tell me. How could we not have a good time?), about eight or nine years ago.

I need to finish the laundry.

I need to clean the house (our cat/housesitter is coming over on Sunday, and there are some areas in this home that are off limits. The closet in my office, for instance, should be condemned).

I need to eat some dinner.

I need to pack.

I need to find the cameras: the digital, and my 35 mm and make sure I have film and batteries.

But instead, I'm writing a not very interesting blog post.

Ah, priorities...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Vote, Part II

This story was originally posted some place else on accident. I could explain but it's really not that interesting. Also, my co-worker told me an even better story than the one you're about to read here, but her story is not suited for public dissemination, or, I should say, it's not suited for public dissemination by me. If she wants to tell her story, well, I'll totally support and even encourage that.

Are you reading this, Nancy [not her real name]? Because I think my readers deserve your story. I think the world deserves your story.


I went to Carl's Jr. this morning for a large diet Coke, after voting and before going to work. There was a youngish black girl and a youngish black guy waiting for their food.

The girl must've seen my I Voted sticker, because she asked me where I voted. I said, "Long Beach." Where I voted seemed a bit personal, but okay, it's a big town, she was interested in the process, which seemed like a good thing. I think she thought polling places are like mailboxes: hard to find, but handy to know about. Most of the day, people have been asking me that same question, so I don't know, I guess she isn't alone in not understanding how it works.

(Next time I might answer, "Near your house. You know? The place with the flag out in front and the big signs that say 'Polling Place.'")

Then she says, getting hostile now, "Who did you vote for?"

I said, "I don't have to tell you!" in kind of a kidding way - I laughed when I said it, but I recognize that my natural dorkiness (20-somethings bring it out in me) probably brought out the bully in her. She was fine with me at first, but then she must've thought about it, because she said, in a snotty way, "Well okay, then. I didn't know it was that serious." Her pal (who, by the way, was wearing a coral colored over sized men's suit, which made his legs look about two feet long) said, "You're not supposed to ask people that." Then they started talking to each other and I ordered my diet Coke, and I figured they were going to make fun of me quietly and leave me alone to read my article from the New York Times about Knoxville, Tennessee (talk about political fiascoes!), a conclusion to this encounter with which I was fine.

Then my new best friend announced, "I'm voting for the black guy - what's his name? Mohammad?"

And then I realized that this story had a happy ending. Go for it, kid.


For the last few weeks I've been working on this report with a lady from another department - it's really important and time consuming and requires a lot of follow up and tracking down info from other people who (let's face it) aren't that great at their jobs - and yesterday, while she was at my work meeting with me, she goes, "What time do you get in in the morning?" And I said 8. And she goes, "OK, I'll see you tomorrow at 8."

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Fuck it, this morning I'm going to vote before work. Since I've been getting home around 8 at night, I probably won't be able to tonight, and I'm not letting this lady keep me from voting. Yes, I could've gotten up earlier to do it and still be at work on time... but whatever. Life isn't perfect. She can wait.

To possibly incorrectly quote my favorite band from my high school years, fIREHOSE,


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Self censoring

It's funny, I'll write just about anything to anybody at any time about myself, exposing myself to ridicule and, I'm sure, many laughs on the part of the reader (and maybe a few grimaces and an"oh, fuck" here or there), but there are two things I really need to write (a thank you note to my aunt, who made me a beautiful red afghan for the bed for my birthday, which is rapidly approaching; even worse, I need to write a sympathy card to one of my oldest friends which I'm having a hard time with for my own reasons, but it's terrible, because "my own reasons" really shouldn't be stopping me from offering sympathy to this person, who, I'm sure, if the shoe were on the other foot, wouldn't be sitting around putting off offering me their condolences; I'm just selfish, lazy, and bad), and instead of writing them, I am watching the video for "Genius of Love" by the Tom Tom Club with Patrick, and planning on totally avoiding all my responsibilities for the next 20 minutes until it's time to go to bed.

Tomorrow will be another killer day at work - this lady is coming to work with me on this huge report we've been working on for the last couple of weeks (I've been working late, working on it at home...); keeping on top of this project has completely sidelined all my other tasks, which makes me feel anxious and out of control, and I'm taking all of next week off to go to El Paso with Patrick and my mother-in-law... so I know I have quite a few things to wrap up and I'm not sure if I have enough days to get everything done.

On Friday, I submitted three applications for three classifications that I may or may not be qualified for, but if I get 'em, would mean a big step in the right direction for me. Right now I just have to wait and see if the powers that be agree.

I haven't been to a Weight Watchers meeting in about 4 weeks (I've been using my project as an excuse, but really, I just don't want to go), and I've been eating whatever I want, which hasn't exactly been a great plan; however, I've also been taking a 20 minute walk almost every day for the last couple of weeks, so at least I'm getting out of the office at some point during the day to walk around. I've been going kind of late in the day, so I get to see the early evening sky, which, as you may or may not know, has always been my favorite time of day.

Good, there's at least one nice thing for this post.

I'm not in a great mood. This is a hell of a way to feel on Sunday night before a week that promises to be a busy one. Come Friday, I will be ready to walk to El Paso.

I don't know what that means, either.