Sunday, August 31, 2008

America's Favorite Bisexual Comedian

So after all my trash-talking, I would like to submit, for your viewing pleasure, my friend Michael Dane doing stand up.

I hereby rescind the "more or less" and concede that Mr. Dane is pretty damn funny. Picture him selling books in a sort of stuffy bookstore, and then you can understand why the rest of us were giggling in the stacks. Well, he's one reason.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Abby Travis

Abby is awesome, and I love this photo. She has the perfect amount of stars in her eyes. But is it wrong that what I'm really wondering is what she was wearing behind that sign?

She's the sister of a friend of Patrick's (she performed with MTP once), gorgeous, talented, and yes, she supports Obama.

Nice Dream

I have decided to discard the draft entry I started this morning that was turning into a complaint about my very own bona fide computer genius (but... the anti-virus program on my laptop has been running since Thursday. Surely that can't be right? Patrick's suggestion to stop it seems logical, but don't I want my anti-virus to do whatever it is it's supposed to be doing? Would stopping it accomplish anything? I just want to know when it will be done. I'm starting to feel like his friends and my family are getting the Gold Plated Fake Geek Squad Treatment, and I am, maybe just a little, getting the shaft) but it was coming off as too whiny and complain-y, two things that I am, actually, right now. But hiding that from you all seems like a good idea (ignore the first parenthetical item above, please).

Anyway, follows are some emails I sent to my friend Michael recently. He has yet to reply with anything really funny, and I'm starting to doubt his claims of being "funny." Well, maybe he is, but he sure ain't punctual.* And I am really only writing this to avoid cleaning the house and doing the laundry. And hey, what do you know: it's way past time for lunch. And I have a freezer full of chicken pot pies, too.

from: Irene
to: Michael
date: Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 11:00 AM
subject: Dream!

I don't know what it is about being in touch with you again, but this is the second dream with you in it in like a month. This one's not going on the blog. If I had gotten right up and started writing this maybe I would remember more details but since I forgot all about it until after I'd played a couple of moves in Wordscraper and fed the cats, it's all totally sketchy now.

Here's the part I remember: you and I were somewhere. A house? A restaurant? A spacecraft? I have no idea, but it had four walls, a floor and a ceiling. And a phone. The phone rang, I picked it up. It was Bo. Bo says to me, in that silly/sexy voice he hits me with once in a while, "You... could be my... sister-in-law."

I looked at you, and told you what he just said, and asked you, "What the fuck does that mean?" You told me something, but now I don't remember. It could be the winning lottery numbers, couldn't it.

from: Irene
to: Michael
date: Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 6:45 PM
subject: Dream!

I changed my mind. This is totally blog material. Waiting for your witty reply though. Make it good; you're this close be being listed on the sidebar "I like stuff..." section of my blog.

Okay, okay, he did reply, but it was mostly to just say that he knows he would've said something better than what I remember. Well, sure, buddy, and in my dream I'm sure I was a size 4 and didn't have these fucking bangs. Next time I have a dream with a comedian in it, remember that they're the comedian. Not me. I'm just the dreamer.

And, Michael is totally in the "I like stuff" section. I was just bluffing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I don't know who I stole this line from, but it made a guy named Victor laugh

Today at work, I was talking to my friend about joining a gym. She and I have had this conversation before, and she pretty much talked me out of it ("When will you go? Seriously? When will you go?"). She made a good point (repeatedly), but my friend is practically a supermodel - she goes to the gym regularly, and you know what? It shows. I sit on my ass for 10, 12 hours a day, and hey, guess what? That shows, too.

So today after work, even though I was wearing a cotton/wool blend cardigan and heels (and pants, don't forget the pants), and my sneakers and sweats were at home, I stopped by the local 24 Hour Fitness to see what I could see (I knew if I went home first I would get sidetracked by the leftover Domino's pizza from yesterday. Instead I decided to hold off until after the tour of the gym. And you wonder why I'm so chubby?). I checked them out online before I got there, and so was kind of hoping to score a 7-day free pass. Instead I got a tour, a sales pitch from two lovely people (Jaime, female, and Victor, her boss. He was a guy. Most people named Victor are male, or at least that has been my experience), and a 2-day pass. One of those 2 days is today, which, isn't going to happen. Going to the gym after eating three slices of Domino's deep dish pizza (mushrooms and pineapple, my favorite!) seems like a really, really bad idea.

Jaime took me on the tour, and the facility is actually a lot bigger than I thought it would be. There's a pool, a big area for all the treadmills (cleverly called "Treadmill Alley;" watch out for the well-cut hobos and alley cats there!), a bunch of weight lifting equipment, those scary machines, an upstairs with stair climbers (the stair climbers look like actual stairs. I have never seen this type of machine before. You're stepping on these never ending stairs. It seemed too literal to me, and sort of freaked me out. Jaime waited while I closed my mouth). There's also two types of saunas, a hot tub (full of men. I was standing there on the pool deck, in my work clothes, water dripping down the front of my shoe, and there's a big ol' huge hot tub full of men. None of them were particularly attractive, but still, can you see me in a hot tub with like 12 dudes? Where were all the girls?). So, while we're walking around, Jaime asked me all these questions about my fitness goals, and she was really nice. She asked me if I wanted to lose weight, and if so, how much. I said, "Well, realistically, I'd be happy with 10 pounds, but I should probably go for 20." Now, I don't know if they're trained to do this, but she cut 5 pounds off that right away and said, "Oh, no, you probably should stop at 15." Hello! Thank you.

After the tour, I sat down with her at her cubicle, and she started talking price. I was all, I want to come back tomorrow, and then I'll decide. Can I have my free pass now? But she isn't authorized to give out the free passes without involving her manager, the before-mentioned Victor.

Victor was a short guy, big muscles but not outrageous, about my age (Jaime was definitely younger, though, a bit thick around the middle. Also, this might be yet another trick they use, though I don't know how they figure it out. If some amazon woman had come out to talk to me I would've been too intimidated). He asked some of the same questions, and was really easy to talk to. I involved Jaime in my answers, and said things like, "Well, as I was telling Jaime here..." People like it when you include them, espeically when you're talking to their boss. Then he asked why I wanted to join a gym, and I started giving him bullshit answers (I had told Jaime the real reasons, like I want to tone up, and that I don't want to get old and fat). I mean, they weren't bullshit, actually, but I was being a bit silly. My favorite line? I said, "Well, you know, I'm getting a little older, and I'm finding that things just aren't where I thought I left them."

He laughed.

That's probably a part of their training too: laugh at the idiot's jokes, as long as they fork over the money.

Anyway, I think I'll go tomorrow and see if I can hang with it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Christmas in August

I'm heading out to Trader Joe's with a $50 gift card I just found (payment for cat/dog/bird sitting earlier in the summer, from Bo and Martha. Totally forgot about it. It's like Christmas in August!), and I have only three things on my shopping list:

  1. Kitty litter
  2. Bottled water
  3. Chicken pot pies

Wonder how many chicken pot pies I can get with $50... I need an intern.


Items I actually purchased:

  1. Kitty litter
  2. Bottled water
  3. Chicken pot pies (delicious!)
  4. Navel oranges
  5. Apples
  6. Kitty treats that look suspiciously new age-y
  7. All kinds and colors of pre-made salads
  8. Something else I'm sure I've forgotten

So by now I'm sure everyone has heard my complaints about the poorly designed parking lots of the world. What? No? Well, let me tell you: parking lots suck. I've been, and I'm sure you have too, almost hit, rammed by errant and homicidal shopping carts, cut off by folks in wheel chairs, riding shopping carts, and those crazy Rascal things, and in general, harassed and irritated.

Patrick is sick of hearing about it, so I mostly keep my mouth shut, but what I wonder is, how can parking lots be so damn badly planned? I mean, yes, you need a place to park... but does no one think beyond the actual parking of the car? Who decided that having cars pull in and then back out of a space where people have to walk was a good idea? All I'm saying is, parking lot designers of the world, have a little consideration for the people on foot. The people with children, strollers, carts. And plant some more goddamn trees.

Okay, so anyway, I was alone when I went to Trader Joe's, and honestly, I was thinking about how tight my fucking pants are right now, not the parking lot. And truth be told, I think the Trader Joe's parking lot by my house is one of the best parking lots for a Trader Joe's I've ever been in. Anybody remember the old TJ's in Culver City (before Culver City was cool? Like, when I lived there?)? Or the Santa Monica TJ's? Or the one on National? Anyway, there's also a Target, a post office, a Rite Aid, a Big Lots, and various other no-name stores in this little shopping center, and lots of spaces - it's no big deal. But as I was walking up to the store, walking around various parkers/de-parkers, wannabe parkers, this man walking to my left turned around and said,

"Walking through this parking lot is kind of like playing a game of Frogger!"

And for some reason that cracked me. Made me feel a million years old, yes, but dude was way older than me, so shut up, okay?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Q & A

After tonight's performance of Bad Penny at City Garage, they had the Q & A session with the audience, the cast, and the director. I usually stay - I think these sessions are interesting, and it's fun to see the cast interact with the audience. Most of the time the audience asks questions about elements of the play that I had never considered or maybe had taken for granted. Coming in like I do, during the last week, to learn the lights and cues and stuff, I never really feel like I get a chance to absorb what's going on onstage the way I'd like to. I only have time to listen for my cues, to calm my own nerves, to do my job of making the show what it's supposed to be.

Tonight, someone in the audience asked the cast what they thought their characters had in common with each other. One of the actors responded with (and my memory is not so good, though I did bust my ass to get down the street to the Santa Monica library before closing so I could snag a public access PC and log on to Blogger... picture, if you will, me rushing down the street... OK, so that's a fat lie - I strolled, walked calmly into the library, renewed my SM library card... anyway, my memory is not so good, so I maybe have the wrong gist of what he said) something along the lines of, though each character is of course different, what they're all searching for is mutual understanding. The script says things along the lines of how life is incomprehensible, and how what you believe (or say you believe) isn't always the point. Shit happens for reasons either you understand... or you don't. The point is not your understanding, the point is that it happened. (That's not what any of the actors said... that's my not-so sophisticated, and probably wrong, interpretation.) Much of what the actors say to each other is what normal people might consider to be "crazy." The character Kat talks about her own experience of "becoming" crazy, and then "becoming" sane... and then doing it all over again, multiple times. That speech, where she talks about people looking at you too closely, sounded very familiar.

What I started thinking about, as I walked out of the theater into the alley and along Santa Monica Boulevard, is yes, that's true: we all want to be understood by each other. It hasn't escaped my attention that I'm here on Blogger, hoping that someone out there reading this understands what I feel based on the way I express myself. Not just understands, but recognizes. As sane? Or just as real. Sure, maybe I'm not the greatest writer, or blogger, or maybe my experiences and comments on them aren't too interesting to other people: strangers! Or non-strangers, even. And maybe I don't really put it all out there, anyway: I've said enough, I think, about my personal feelings without saying all of it. If this were fiction maybe I'd feel more comfortable with the nitty gritty reality of my mind... or if I could say it in a more creative way, to keep some of it for myself, like song lyrics that are both obscure and totally on the mark. But I'm not that talented, and I do need some protection, even I can see that.

What I think, after watching this play, now, for four weeks, is that, if the words coming out of our mouths are weird, or "crazy" or nonsensical or incomprehensible: maybe we're actually saying is preventing so-called normal, sane people from taking the time to figure out how we feel or what the idea that we're trying to convey even is. The words themselves are the barrier.

If what I say is so whacked out crazy, or if you think it's gibberish: is it? Am I?

Or what if, if all I say is the same normal bullshit everyone else says, who will know what the real me is all about?


I have 0:05 minutes left on this computer before the library closes, and I have to get home to Patrick, who has been waiting for me. Also I think my rapid, pounding typing is annoying the other people around me, who seem to be mostly pointing and clicking. Won't think about that too much.

You have two more weeks to get your ass into City Garage Theater for this production of Bad Penny - I really think you need to do it. Go see it. It's a wonderful production, the performances are great, and this show, this theater, needs you. Do it.

City Garage Theater
For reservations, call (310) 319-9939

Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm not crazy

The title of my blog should alert you to the fact that what I really am is a 15 year old kid trapped in the sub-par body of a 36 year old woman. And if you've been around here for awhile, you will see that I just might think that I'm wittier or more interesting than I actually am, which is yet another clue. Delusional? Yes, that's me. The kid making snarky comments under her breath at band rehearsals: that was me, too. Does a mature person think that other people are interested in her iTunes purchases? Or worse, does a mature person not care if people are interested and posts it anyway?

I mean, the truth is, try as I might (and maybe I just don't try), for the most part and with few exceptions (repeating it like that makes it seem more real, doesn't it), I act and react to life in much the same way as I did in 1988. Ah, a grand year, 1988. Not too many firsts and precious few lasts, but some things that occurred during that year really made an impression on me. And some things that didn't happen that year, too.

It's not something to be proud of, this feeling. I mean, I don't know, maybe it is. Or maybe I should say, I'm proud of it, but I know that by being proud of my immaturity, it's just one more example of said immaturity and another reason to look elsewhere when you need, oh, say, advice about your relationship or the tax code or something. I will listen, I will care, but I am a prime example of "do as I say and not as I do [did]." My friends and co-workers, if they knew my secret thoughts and desires, would probably be shocked and/or disgusted. I CAN conduct myself with some professionalism, it's true: I've just recently told some people in my office (and everyone else heard it through the office grapevine) that I shall soon be leaving them to go work... in another office, and everyone (with the exception of my boss) has expressed (to my delight) dismay, so it's nice to finally be appreciated (and these people seem sincere, which is... awesome); but is it mature to be thinking, at those times, "yep, you're going to have to do ____ [insert task that I do for people that they should be able to do themselves, considering their salary and tenure, here] yourself, you fucking nitwit"? I think not. Is it mature to leave a job after 18 months? Is it mature to long for the days of working at the bookstore where the best part of my job was the daily trip to Rite-Aid for ice cream with Bo?

See, the thing is, aside from work, my thoughts haven't evolved that much beyond "does he know I exist" and "when's lunch." Sure, the "he" is now Stewart Copeland, and sure, lunch is now a big salad*, which I didn't have to scrounge for coins under the car seat to pay for. Sure, I listen to NPR. Sure, I read the New York Times, the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker. I don't drink coffee, I don't smoke (anymore), I don't drink to excess (much), and I don't listen to Amy Winehouse or know who Katy Perry is or what the Jonas Brothers sound like. But I also just downloaded "Since U Been Gone" and multiple covers of Pink Floyd songs: 15 year old me would've never admitted to the Kelly Clarkson, but would've been way down with the Pink Floyd.

I think what got me to thinking about all this is that I noticed I've been hanging on to one relationship... and I need to let go of it, I guess. See, even the "I guess" demonstrates a refusal to face facts. That relationship blossomed and tanked when I was 15. I know I think that this relationship is was something special because I had those special feelings, and because of them (or I should say, in spite of them), somehow I wasn't afraid (and: I was always afraid) to tell the person the way I felt. Yes, I did it in this stupid, convoluted way (that maybe I'm still a little in awe of. I did what? I can't even believe I had the guts to do it at all!), but even that makes it special. Is that mature? Would keeping my mouth shut and waiting and seeing what fate brought me have been more mature? Or going for it? I don't know. Bringing someone else on board my crazy train seems a little immature, to me. And then: I went for it, but then I gave up. I gave up too soon. So without really knowing if the person was worth all the build up and those crazy feelings - I did it anyway, but I let it slip away. And there's no fixing that.

Maybe it wasn't about them, anyway, but more about what I was capable of. What I was feeling. Ah. And is that mature?

No, it didn't work out. But it happened, and I got to see the results, and that was kind of cool. Sure: embarrassing. Sure: in the end, which took decades to come, actually, disappointing. And I get all that, that it's over and there will be no friendship to rise up out of the ashes this time. I get it but I've kind of been acting like I don't. Like a child. Like the next action I might take will involve "I Can't Stand Losing You" and a phone. No, I'm not going to do that - but 15 year old me, did. And thought it was a reasonable reaction.

Today I wrote this person a short, happy email and I signed off this way:

I'm (still) not crazy,

Just in case this person was worried. It's as if I'm thinking, writing got me into this mess, and maybe writing will get me out. I should remember the disappointment, up there, and that nothing really happened (nothing!), back in 1988, because that was the reality, and it's never going to be any different. And that's okay, I guess. I can let that be okay, if I try a little harder.

Maybe I have been a little crazy, and for that, I apologize. I can't say I won't do it again: maybe my brain will catch up with my physical state and I'll start acting like someone who could be the parent of a 15 year old rather than an actual 15 year old. I'll lay off the email, I promise. We've all done stupid things; I just seem to be carrying on a bit too much about it now. Let it go, Irene. Letting things go is a decidedly mature outlook on life, and I could stand to try it. I need to sit down and think about my actions, see if I can't grow up a little, and change.

No, wait, that's what a mature person would do. Instead, I'm going to go to the movies with Patrick, and maybe get some ice cream. Happy Friday, everybody.

*"Now" being defined as, since I rejoined Weight Watchers (yesterday), after discovering that I have gained 7 pounds. I have also decided that having the thought "goddamn I look tubby" every time I look in the mirror is a bad thing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm not at work but Patrick is

Day three of no work for me, and I have to say, I could get used to this. I didn't sleep quite so late today; got up around 9:30. Patrick had to go in to work today and move some computers from one library to another, but we had plans with some friends of ours to take them to La Casita Mexicana for lunch, so after visiting the Woodcrest and Compton libraries, he met us out there at 2.

Lunch was awesome, as expected, our friends liked it, and as Patrick drove away (I took our friends home to North Long Beach), I thought, damn, I am so sorry he has to go to work. Sucker!

Then I came home, decided to put some shorts on, and take a book out to the backyard and read.

It's a lovely day, seriously. I need to go do that right now.

Tomorrow I'll do the laundry and clean. Today I read.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm still not at work

I'm off again today, and quite frankly, today might be even better than yesterday.

I slept in until 12:30, no phone calls or emails from work, I'm still wearing my nightgown, and I just read a funny story my friend Michael wrote on his blog about his "friend," Angela.

My friend "John" just called. John works for the LA Philharmonic. I told him I wasn't home, and he asked when a good time would be to call me back. Then, before I could answer, he said that he wasn't trying to sell me anything but that he just wanted to let me know about some great opportunities that were coming up. I wanted to say, oh, you mean the LA Phil wants me to audition? Because that's the only "opportunity" I would be interested in.

I don't know what the average NPR listener is (I was just reading this very goofy book about the power of wishing, and the author - Caucasian, 40-ish, drives a Volvo - stated that she was the epitome of the stereotypical NPR fan. I'm pretty different from this lady [reading her book solidified that notion], and I wonder if the LA Phil knows that I'm a 30-something Hispanic who didn't finish college and who just spent the weekend listening to Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, the Birthday Party, the Who, Jamiroquai, N.E.R.D., the Police, and really old podcasts of Fresh Air and This American Life? Do they care? Does NPR?), or what the average LA Phil subscriber looks like, and I'm not really interested in average, anyway. How boring, right? But what's the deal, LA Phil? Unless you're going to offer me a job, I'll call you.

And, hey, John? We already saw Dianne Reeves once. It was enough. Thanks.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm not at work

I'm not at work, and yet I have answered three phone calls from there this morning, with one more surely to come today, if not tomorrow.

I'm not mad, though.

At the beginning of the year, I created this huge Excel report that probably should've been done in Access (except no one [read, "my boss"] wanted to send me to Access training, not even when I asked for it in a well-written memo) so that we could track the process of hiring a million and one employees of a specific classification we have been tasked to hire by the powers that be. That's an awkward, vague sentence, but it's an awkward, vague world. You know what I am saying, sort of. (I just read an "essay" my friend Michael wrote on his "online journal" where he pretty much filled up a bunch of space by writing all his sentences backwards, and as annoying as that could've been, it actually made me laugh, and start to feel it a little. See, I almost wrote, "Saying am I what know you." Michael Dane, you may have something there. Or, I am your target audience. Pick one).

Anyway. So I created this complicated report with filters and labels and colored tabs and I knew it was complicated (but it does what it needs to do, and frankly, I'm proud of it) but since I have started to explain and give detailed instructions to the person (her name is Lisa, and she's quite competent, just maybe a tiny bit overwhelmed. Join the club, babe) who will be in charge of it now that I am leaving my current job, I'm a little worried that it's overly complicated.

Except it really isn't. Sure, maybe there's an easier way to do it. Sure, maybe Access would keep track of the information in any more readily accessible manner (ah ha! Access - accessible... I get it now) or maybe it would, but once I learned Access, I would be one of only two people in my office who know Access (the other one is my boss, who already irritates me with her, "I could do this better" pronouncements about this and other things that I do. Really? Then WHY DON'T YOU? I am always shocked when she says stuff like that, and I wonder in what leadership training she heard that these types of statements were a good idea), and how would that be better or easier for anybody? There are multiple things that we need to track, and this report was created at a moment of stress: we were being audited, the auditors were there (literally, there, at my desk), I had little time to finesse it. It is what it is, and for me, the creator*, it works just fine.

On Thursday I sat down with Lisa for an hour, and we went over everything, including a 9-page instruction pamphlet I started making last week, complete with screen shots and definitions, and I'm happy to take her calls. It doesn't feel much like a vacation yet, but that's okay. We stayed up late last night watching the Olympics, I slept in and (in between calls from Lisa) read, plucked my eyebrows, and watched TV - I'm not at work and that's what counts. Right? That's what counts.

*I am THE CREATOR. That's pretty funny, right there.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

This must be the place

Patrick and I left Friday morning on our trip north. We got out of the house at around 10 a.m., with me at the wheel. That lasted about 200 miles. We stopped somewhere for lunch at Carl’s Jr. and I guess we should’ve been more aware of how tired we were, because about 20 minutes later, while somewhere on the 5, all my earlier comments about how much I love road trips and how much fun we always have came back to bite me in the ass.

I’m not sure exactly where we were. We hadn’t passed the cows, I can say that much for sure. The road was a four lane highway, and I guess Patrick was getting tired. I was mostly in the left lane, keeping out of the way of the truckers and slowpokes, and, in my opinion, keeping pace with the other cars. A third lane would've made it easier: I didn't want to go as slow as the slow cars, but I wasn't 100% comfortable with the fast cars. Every once in awhile some jerk would show up in my rearview mirror, tailgating, but if I had time to move over out of his way, I would. They would pass, and speed along on their merry way, and everyone was happy. Everyone, that is, except Patrick.

Look, I’m a competent driver. And Patrick is a lovely man. But sometimes his know-it-all Leo nature kicks in: he can’t help it. I’ve been around other Leos, and while they all have varying levels, at some point the things that I love about them (decisiveness, personality, big noses) turn on me. When that happens, a smart person would close their ears and continue to do what they were doing, the way they wanted to do it. If I were a smart person, I would’ve realized that as the driver of the vehicle (my vehicle), I was the one holding all the cards. He was just the peanut gallery, and turning up the music (at the time, we were listening to the Who’s Quadrophenia, which I have been trying to make up my mind about for some time now) would’ve been one of way of ignoring him. Any way of ignoring him was probably better than what I did, which was to get pissed off, which lasted for a split second, and then to get hurt feelings, which last about 73 miles. So instead of continuing to drive, I pulled off, there in nowheresville, turned off the car, got out, and traded places with him.

It all worked out, though, because after awhile, he got too tired to continue to drive, and I took over, changed the Who for Radiohead's "Hail to the Thief," and Patrick fell asleep (note: I can now say, with 100% certainty, that I do not like "Quadrophenia"). When he woke up we were both in better moods, and as we do with all our silly disagreements, were laughing about it later. He apologized, I told him that I hope he realized that most other people would've asked him to shut the fuck up, or invited him to walk to San Jose, and the rest of our ride, and trip, was fine. The funny thing is, I drove most of the way home, and did actually do it the way Patrick was advising me to. So. He may be a bit of a nag, but I'm pretty stubborn, too, about doing things my own way - but in the end, like I said, we can laugh about it. The secret, I think, to our success.

We made it in to San Jose around 4:30, and after checking into the hotel, Patrick took me on a little tour of San Jose. I've been there, but not for many years, and he was just there last year for some computer training. We drove and walked around for awhile, and then went to this restaurant he had visited on his last trip, an Indian restaurant called Mezbaan - and it was exceptional. We had a good time, too, because the restaurant was playing on two big flat screen televisions, old time Indian music videos, which were really entertaining. The restaurant was in this little shopping center across from a pretty condo/town home complex that is adjacent to a beautiful park. We walked around the neighborhood and soaked in the almost-full, gonzaga* moon before going back to our hotel to chill out before the family reunion on Saturday.

It turned out that our hotel, though "only" 40 miles from the party, most of those 40 miles are on the dreaded highway 17. On the way to the party, we stopped at the Starving Musician, a store in Santa Cruz that sells used instruments. We had a little time to kill, and so we looked at everything, and I mean everything.

The reunion itself was a lot of fun, and I'll post some photos later. My cousin Christina, and her husband Michael, have a beautiful home and they are so generous to have hosted us all. It was great to see all my family, and to meet some new people (Michael's father was a very interesting man, and fun to talk to). Most of all it was nice to see my mother with her brothers and sister, and to see her having fun, even though she really hasn't been feeling well lately.

Patrick and I left a little earlier than we planned on, because it got late, dark, and then foggy, and though the party was still going strong, and the outdoor fireplace had just gotten lit, we took off around 9:30. I personally was a little worried about that drive, but Patrick is a pro, and handled it fine.

This morning we slept in, cleaned up, and visited Falafel's Drive In, where we had a lunch consisting of some very fresh and yummy falafel and banana milkshakes, and if I can just put in a good word for this place, I would say, check it out next time you're in San Jose, if not for the falafel, then for the banana milkshakes. Delicious.

The drive home was mostly uneventful: we visited the outlets in Gilroy, where I went to to two stores (Banana Republic, where the service was a bit snotty - these people surely realize that Gilroy is not, say, Beverly Hills, don't they?; and J. Crew, which was better), and Patrick went to one (Sony). After getting back on the road, we hit some really terrible traffic, which set us back about an hour, and we never really figured out what the deal was - it appeared that they had taken two lanes of traffic down to one so that opposing traffic could cross? but at that point we were listening to XTC, and enjoying it, and ourselves, so as usual, despite a rough beginning, Patrick and I managed to have a successful, fun trip. Now that we're home, though, with the kitties and the Olympics on the television... I'm happiest here.

*"Gonzaga" was the name of one of the exits off of one of the freeways we were on during this trip, and I think it's an awesome word. It should be right up there with "gazonga" and "ginormous" and I aim to use it. Look for it here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Someone going berserk

I woke up at 3:38 this morning because someone in my neighborhood was, for some reason, honking their horn. It went on for awhile before I got out of bed and went to the kitchen to try to figure out where it was coming from. Even from over there I wasn't sure, and even if it was somebody on my own street, they were quite a ways away. There seemed to be no other listeners but I didn't go outside. And it was loud and insistent: how could no one else be awake, too? From there I didn't see any lights on (mine were off). Finally after 10 minutes I woke up Patrick.

"Do you hear that," I asked him. (He had been perfectly asleep, barely snoring. He didn't hear anything, except me tripping over someone's shoes.)
"Should I call the police?"
"Someone else will."
"But somebody could be in trouble."

I went out into the living room and my office, but in the dark I couldn't find the phone.

"Irene," Patrick said, tiredly, "It stopped. It was just someone going berserk."

I stopped looking for the phone. "But now they could be dead."

"Good," Patrick said, and went back to sleep. Patrick can sleep through anything, it seems, except when his wife wakes him up. Now I have two hours to think about it before I have to go to work. I fell asleep last night in my clothes at around 8:30 - I spent the day at a boring work thing where my only real job was to set up the laptop and data projector for the presenters at an HR forum, and for some reason the whole day was exhausting (it could be that being pissed off about having to be somewhere helping idiot people with technical shit a child could do, when you have actual work to do is actually tiresome. Will have to study that). I was tired. I'm not exactly wide awake now, but I do feel like I'm in some sort of weird aware state. Weird for 4 o'clock in the morning, anyway.

The sprinklers next door just went on. At least, I hope it was the sprinklers.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Walking in LA

Google Maps has a new button you can click on - now, you can find out how long it would take to walk to your destination. Is this a direct result of the crazy high gas prices? Maybe they should add a feature: how long it would take to drive there on under-inflated versus properly inflated tires.

I have no idea how long this feature has been in beta - I just noticed it today when I was planning my trip to San Jose (okay, so actually we're visiting Aptos, California. I keep saying Santa Cruz because nobody I know has heard of or can pronounce Aptos). Yes, you read that correctly: we are visiting Santa Cruz/Aptos by way of San Jose (which is a whole 40 miles from our ultimate destination), and I'm not sure if I blogged this already? We couldn't find a hotel room in Santa Cruz, Aptos, Watsonville, Cupertino, or Monterey (there were a few, but they were either of the Motel 6 variety, and as much as I love Tom Bodett [are you surprised?], I will never ever stay in a Motel 6 again, not after the hairy blanket episode; or they were $400/night. Gas prices seem to have plummeted a whole five cents, so what the hell, right? Anyway, so I was plotting my trip when I see the little "by car" or "walking" choice, and being a curious sort, I clicked on "walking."

It's 396 miles to San Jose from Long Beach, and would take about 5 days, 11 hours on foot to get there. Now, I don't know how many hours a day Google expects you to walk (blisters, bunions, what brand of sneaker, etc.), or what kind of pace that requires, but it seems kind of neat to have this type of data at your fingertips. For instance, it's 0.7 miles from my house to the nail salon, and would take 16 minutes. I should get up and go do that.


OK, so another thing I've been thinking about is this article I read in yesterday's LA Times about Michael Phelps. First of all, let's just get this out there: Michael Phelps and the other USA swimmers are all gods. Seriously. If I had known swimmers had those kinds of bodies when I was younger...! Well. My best years may be behind me, but still. His sure aren't. Anyway, the article in the Times said that because of the way some sports work, Michael Phelps can't count on making any money from his sport, unlike people like Kobe Bryant or whoever. (I could give more intelligent quotes from the article, but really, who cares?) And then the article went on to talk about Amanda Beard, a female Olympic swimmer who I guess used her popularity in swimming and decided to take a bunch of nude photos and work her way into the public consciousness based on her good looks and not just her swimming ability, and then the author stated that Michael Phelps just can't look forward to the same type of opportunities.

Now. Patrick's comment that Michael looks like McLovin' aside (and look, I'm no weirdo fan of beefcake: I don't have photos of Brad Pitt or Patrick Swayze in my cubicle at work), personally, I think Michael Phelps (and Jason Lezak and Cullen Jones, and the whole French team, yikes) is pretty damn hot. Somebody offer that guy some money to pose somewhere. Clothed or in a swimsuit or whatever, I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one interested in him standing still.

Now I have to go drive to the salon, they're closing in 45 minutes. I don't want to waste any more time here.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Random Tuesday

Nothing much is going on. Work was 8 hours of hell, but hopefully that's over soon. Many things were said and done at my place of business, and some of them - precious few - made sense, even fewer made any difference. Some of them made me laugh, though, so that's something.

I did get three huge boxes of ink cartridges for the exam unit, which they have been waiting for since February, and I did write one hell of a report on the ability (or inability) of the directors to complete assignments (I used the NETWORKDAYS function in Excel, and can I say it? It worked like a fucking charm), and spelled out exactly how long it takes them to complete their assignments, or how overdue their assignments are: oh, and copied them all on the report, too, so they know what my boss knows when she knows it. Sooner, actually, because she had already left for the day when I delivered that report, so that ought to make their morning meeting nice and squirmy. So, I don't know, while I continue to pretty much be uncomfortable at work and to plot my escape during my every moment there (not unlike high school... but those fantasies always included a boy on a motorcycle - don't read too much into that, people), I am seemingly serving some purpose. And hey, if that purpose is to point out that other people suck at their jobs in subtle and wiseacre ways, well, then. Let's go on with it already.

Went shopping after work - shoes usually help when I get like this. No luck - didn't really need any of the shoes I saw today. (I can tell you, however, that I need the shoes "Woman 1" is wearing in BAD PENNY - I'd send you all over to [click on "news" not "current production" - yes, that seems weird to me, too] to check them out but somehow Pauly didn't get any shots of Cynthia's feet in any of the photos. What's up with that, Paulo?) Ended up just buying a pair of pants, a nightgown, and a gift for my co-worker, who will be having a birthday on Thursday. She doesn't read this blog (she doesn't read her own email) so I can tell you: I got her an overpriced, oversize, beautiful blues/whites/browns silk scarf from Ann Taylor, and I'm quite proud of this gift, because I have been thinking that Eileen has "silk scarf" written all over her since we first met, a year and a half ago. It would cover her up quite nicely when she's out in the sun, or tie in a cute bow around her neck - really, it's the perfect.

Yes, I got a gift receipt. Sheesh.

Anyway, came home, we talked about our trip to Santa Cruz/Aptos/San Jose (how'd that get in there?) and then Patrick had the best idea ever: pizza! We had beer, watched two episodes of "Weeds" and now, because I am tired, I am considering going to bed. Common sense, no? I was going to practice, finish the laundry, and make the bed, but I think this plan is better, don't you?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

I had a dream

The earthquake and subsequent events of the past week had made me forget this, but on Monday night, I had a very funny dream.

In the dream, my friend Michael, with whom I have re-connected with on Facebook and used to work with at Rizzoli Santa Monica, who is a stand-up comedian and a singer (though, I have neither seen him sing nor do stand-up. I can say that in real life, his shtick was more or less amusing, and in tune [I'm pretty sure he's not going to like that "more or less" but being equivocal may be my shtick, and I think he's got that by now) - anyway, in the dream, Michael had entered a talent show and was going to sing a song. The talent show was taking place somewhere in this big auditorium I've never been in, it was large, white, square, and modern. Could've been a basketball court. Anyway, Michael's getting ready to go on stage, to sing some song with a band - I have no idea what song it was, or the size of the band, or the genre of the music. I think maybe I never hear music in my dreams. I don't recall hearing anything in my dreams. Maybe I do, and I just don't remember? Whatever, I don't remember this time either. So he's about to go on, and I decide that he can't go on just him and sing. That would be boring, and totally lame, and he, and I are neither of those things (well...).

So in the dream, I go on and do some sort of nutty interpretive dance routine behind him while he sings his song.

Keep in mind: I do not dance. Not since seventh grade PE when Ms. Tuggle made us learn the all these horrible soul-killing dance moves to, I don't know, some Chaka Khan song (wearing these horrible, red polyester shorts and tube socks and this reversible red/grey shirt... who designed PE uniforms, anyway? Satanists?), have I danced in front of people (last year's Christmas party is the one exception... and all those people were drunk, including me), yet there I was, looking pretty good (in the dream), pulling all those moves only my cats and the nosy Asian neighbors have ever seen.

There's gotta be some kind of message there but I haven't figured it out yet.

Or maybe not.


All week I looked forward to the weekend, to catch up on sleep, do a little laundry, swim in the pool, go grocery shopping...

And it started out that way. We slept in yesterday, then, after my appointment with Carol the eybrow artist at Studio Cie Skin and Makeup in Lakewood, I came home and picked up Patrick and we went to lunch at La Casita Mexican in the city of Bell.

We've been there before, but it's been awhile. A few weeks ago we saw an episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay" where he challenged the chefs there to a Chile relleno cookoff, and it got me to thinking about another trip to Bell. We didn't have Chile rellenos, but what we did have was delicious. Patrick got a beautiful bowl of potato soup with his meal, which he graciously allowed me to eat for him, and the food, the service, everything was exactly as we would have wished.

Afterwards we went to WalMart to stock up on pool supplies, and then home to nap and hang out.

Everything was going fine until about 9:00, when my sister called and told me that a very old friend of my parents had passed away. His name was David, and I've known him and his wife Mary my entire life. They grew up with my dad in Santa Monica, and were the witnesses when my mother and father got married in Vegas all those years ago. Angie said of course that my mom and dad were very upset, and it's particularly hard right now because my mother is still uncomfortable thanks to her kidney stone, and she's got something else going on that's pretty painful - it's rough over there. Anyway, Angie and my dad drove out to Palm Springs where Mary and David live, to be with Mary and help her out today and possibly tomorrow. Patrick and I are getting ready to drive up to be with my mom.

David and Mary are very interesting people. They used to live in this crazy house in Venice that was constantly under construction and had all these dangerous rooms that us kids weren't allowed to go into (rooms with french doors that should've led to balconies... but instead were just doors that opened out to nothing but a 20 foot drop). That house was sold and finally finished, and moved to another location (I think it's on Electric Avenue now, and used to be on Main or Abbott Kinney... I don't remember: I was just a little kid). David played the banjo, and Mary some kind of electric harp. They called me, when I was really small (and Mary still does) "Little Miss Knickerbocker." Then they moved to Arkansas, where they hated Bill Clinton (this was when he was only governor) and loved it for awhile, I guess, until they decided to move back to California, and they've lived in Palm Springs for a long time now.

It's pretty sad. I have an old photo of me and David sitting on the couch in my mother's house, and he's dressed all in white, probably smoking his pipe, and I'm wearing one of those funny old-fashioned dresses my mom used to dress me in. I have to find that photo.


Update: my day with my mom was nice. I got over there pretty early, made her some vegetable soup (I know! I made soup!) (okay, okay, some of it did involve opening a can, but still), and we pretty much just chilled all day. I played with the dogs, read on the couch, and she napped or tried to. She's on pain medication, and a tiny bit loopy, but not too bad. I have to say, though, my mother isn't that old (68) but is totally fixated on her bowel movements. I don't understand how she can talk about them so much, think about it all the time: the frequency/infrequency of them. It does seem a little nutty, but maybe not. I realized that my task while at their house was to make her laugh, which I was pretty successful at. We talked a little about David, but not much. Later, my sister called from Mary's, and Mary got on the phone a little and talked to me. Her other nickname for me is "Peanut." (okay, so why am I giving out this information?) Angie told her that I said she could come out and live with me and Patrick, and Mary got on the phone. She's very Christian, even more than my mother, and a strict Republican, and she goes, "What!? Democrats and a Republican in the same home?" I said, "Hey, they say the lions will lay down with the lambs..." And she laughed. Making her laugh was pretty special, I think.

Now we're home, and I just put the Obama bumper sticker that I got at the Culver City Pavilions on my car. I think Mary would get a kick out of that, don't you?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Bad Penny opened tonight

Tonight was the opening of Bad Penny at City Garage Theatre in Santa Monica, and it was a fun night. I did not have to work; Charles did the lights and sound tonight so I could sit in the audience and enjoy the show for once. I loved it.

Here's me and Cynthia Mance, also known as "Kat" from the show, hanging out in the alley afterwards. I have no idea what I got on my shirt: it might be hair product, which is hard to believe. She's a little slip of a thing, isn't she? Quite possibly the nicest person alive too.

Call the theater to make your reservations. (310) 319-9939. You won't regret it.