Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This year's model

In two weeks my office will be undergoing a major remodel. We have to fit 4 more people into a space already housing 13, but it shouldn't be too difficult, because there's a lot of wasted space in here. It's an old office, with old partitions and heavy, ugly file cabinets and half-assed design (things don't exactly match).

My cubicle, for instance. My cubicle, which is home to just me, my predecessor's files, my sneakers, my one pile of work, and my computer equipment, has room enough for at least two. And for some reason she (my predecessor) collected quite a few boxes of extremely large envelopes, which are now my albatross. Who needs 11 X 15 inch envelopes? What kind of mail are you sending, anyway? So my point is, my cubicle is so large, you could quite comfortably fit another person in here. As well as quite a few more boxes of 11 X 15 inch envelopes.

But that's not what they're going to do. Instead, they're going to tear down the existing walls and offices and install the Herman Miller Vivo system. I've seen it online: space age technology and hip design! It's pretty cool. Some of us are getting smaller cubicles, but the space planning seems a bit more, shall we say, logical. And I'm getting a chair for guests. For guests.

Now. I have friends who have their own offices. Like, with a door and everything. And that is duly impressive. Those friends also tend to have degrees, but I have friends with degrees who stare at a 15" monitor in a dungeon-like office under fluorescent lights 8 hours a day. So let's not judge.

I am impressed with those of you who skip to work in your electric cars, wearing your fancy outfits and perfect hair, and then get to go in your office and close the door. It's cool, and I think you should know that I think it's cool. Then again, I also have friends who work in their own home, wearing God only knows what, eating or watching television as they please, greeting the mailman by name ("Hi, Cornbread!"), with a kitty or two on their lap while they, you know, work. I have other friends who stand behind a register while they work and bemoan their aching feet; friends who get to play their instrument for a living; friends who work with children, which sounds fun and all, until someone pukes or poos on you (perhaps now you see why I never liked babysitting. And why I don't have children, yet), friends who stay home with their kids. I have friends who would like to work who are without jobs. Think about them for a minute, and then come back and keep reading.

I have a cubicle. I didn't scotch tape out a fake door line a la Less Nessman; I don't have to write my name on my (very own Swingline) stapler. I don't have a designated parking spot, or a window. I have a cubicle, a name plate, a pretty big monitor, and a scanner at my desk, and that's just fine with me. And soon, I will have new furniture, and I'm pretty psyched.

See, the thing is, I really like my job. It's been a long time since I could say that. I've been here almost two months, and I really like my job. It's kind of hard to get up on time, it's a bit further than I'd like, just this week I got a peak at something that indicates that things aren't as happy-happy as I thought at first, but I like my job. Most people are really nice. I find myself smiling at people in the hallway, saying hello to dudes in the parking lot. My inner voice, which tends to be overly critical, is quiet much more often. This is a nice place. I want to stay here for awhile.

Monday, October 27, 2008

But I'm so glad it's Friday night! To be! A Centaur!

This was an interesting weekend, if you ignore the fact that Patrick and I both were enormous slugs and sloths - literally human burritos - on Sunday (excitement of the day: I killed a big black spider in the garage all by myself).

On Friday, I returned to Sam's Club to change out my previously new tires. Based on my complaints, Sam's Club Employees of the Month Larry and Kek replaced my so-called new tires, which have 5,000+ miles on them already, with brand new ones. They're the same exact tires, which, as it turns out, are just fine for my Honda-mobile. In fact, as far as Michelin is concerned, for my car there are no better tires. That previous set may have been defective. But: I still feel the same problem on the 605, the 10, and the 710 when I am driving in excess of 60 MPH, but I don't feel it on the 405 or the 105 (yes. These are the freeways I drive regularly. Please make a note of it). The alignment is perfect. The wheels are balanced. So after a little deductive reasoning I've determined that the problem is not the tires. Oh, no! The problem is the road. (Who said the problem was me? In the back there! Yes, you! Stand up you big jerk! I am a perfectly good driver.)

Still. New tires is new tires. And free new tires? That's cause for celebratory shopping. After that adventure, I went to Macy's and bought a gorgeous $225 Martha Stewart quilt (and two shams) for $164 and $80 flannel sheets for $25 (perhaps unfairly. They pulled the shelf signs after my transaction; I had only gently suggested that they had misread the sale signs. I spoke to another person who visited Macy's on Fridays, and she too was of the opinion that they were practically giving the stuff away). Still, I prefer to think that my Jedi mind trick ("You will give the sale price plus the special Martha Stewart buy-one, get-one-half-off deal on this purchase") worked. Friday was my day. I was the man on Friday.

Now if only it would get cool enough for flannel sheets. We also need a new down comforter and/or mattress pad but I didn't want to press my luck.


I think I've mentioned this in the past, but really, any good story bears repeating, no? My friend told me a pathetic story about forgetting her iPod at her last trip to the gym, and finding the ambient noises there too darn boring for words, she proceeded to have a dull workout. I exhibited my usual lack of sympathy and told her that I just rely on my whacked out brain for entertainment when I work out (sure. I work out. Why not?). You may remember that I like cheesy songs ("Feels Like the First Time" has a nice beat, or maybe "Working Man" by Rush; and there's always that old favorite, Christopher Cross' "Ride Like the Wind"); or a Radiohead song (Hail To the Thief has good tunes for walking), or Stewart Copeland's "Too Kool to Kalypso." Today's song of the day for my AM walk with Ana, Hung and Alicia was "We Love You Conrad" from Bye Bye Birdie (I've been thinking a lot about Bye Bye Birdie today. More on this later). Not the dirge version from when the fan club realizes Conrad is joining the army, no - this is the peppy version they sing before Conrad arrives in town in his metallic jumpsuit and melts the crowd with "One Last Kiss." Ooh, that would be a good walking song, too. Maybe a little too sashay inspiring. In my head, of course. Ana, Hung, and Alicia would probably signal for the fire department guys to cart my ass to the hospital in the helicopter the sheriff's department is always landing and taking off not far from our morning route if I started singing out loud.

My friend asked, when I walk with the girls at work, if the fact that there are four of us constitutes a "gang." We're not a gang: Ana's always about a streetlight ahead of me in the morning (skinny so-and-so!), and Alicia and Hung like to talk, so they're a bit behind: really, we're more like a very strung out, out-of-step platoon. Ana went through the Sheriff's academy (or something), so in the afternoon, when we walk through the building (too hot for Hung to go up the hill) and turn around for another lap, she likes to show off with a very military about-face. I, a former marching band geek who never found the militaristic characteristics of marching band "charming," tend to kick out one leg and spin around. It's a very stylized, very Bugs Bunny move. The guys who work in that building (it's a warehouse; all our shops are in there) seem to find it amusing, and I live for their entertainment. The only thing I liked about the actual marching part of marching band was yelling at the rest of the flute section to straighten up, and terrorizing them into memorizing their music, the lazy talentless bums. Sure, on piccolo I was louder than the whole rest of the section (and some of the clarinet section as well), but still. Is that my fault?

Tyrant: that's me.

(How did that old cheer go? "My feet hurt, my belt's too tight, my something swings from left to right? But I'm so glad it's Friday night! To be! A Centaur!")

The reason I was thinking about Bye Bye Birdie is because yesterday I got a comment here from my friend Damon on a previous post (the "I should" post). Damon has grown up to be a successful, educated person who wrote a book on deleting the "shoulds" from one's life. It sounds like a fine idea to me. I should really pick up that book, huh.

Anyway, Damon may not appreciate the story I am about to tell -

When we were in high school, the school put on for the spring musical, a version of "Bye Bye Birdie" that was pretty darn awesome. Now. Our music program was crap: we had a tiny, unmotivated marching band (unless by "motivated" you mean, boy crazy; and that would just be me, thank you), no orchestra, a jazz band full of talent (surprise, surprise, considering the teacher's professional jazz background), but in spite of ourselves, every spring we never failed to put together a pretty good pit orchestra for whatever musical had struck Mr. Mortenson (Morty) the drama teacher's, fancy. Sure, we had some ringers, but mostly it was student power blasting away in Robert Frost's cool little half-moon sunken orchestra pit.

Damon was cast as Randolph MacAfee, Kim's pesky little brother. He was adorable, and perfectly cast. I don't remember who played Conrad or any of the other parts (as a band geek, I didn't run with the drama kids; either too nerdy or not nerdy enough, I do not know, but, um... THANK GOD); I do recall that it seemed to be a very successful production, and Damon did an amazing job. His pitch on "Ed Sullivan" was pretty dead-on.

Speaking of musicals... on Saturday I went to the cue-to-cue for The Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Rehearsals are winding down and they're getting ready for their November 7 opening night. The show's not technically a musical, but Frederique, the director, always finds a surprising way to incorporate music and dance. I'm sort of kicking myself for not participating onstage - I was asked, but I said no. It's such a huge commitment; I think for now I can be happy in the booth. As I've said before you can't really get a feel for the individual performances at the cue-to-cue; what you can see (and I always find this stuff interesting) is to get an idea for the actors: who's a good listener, who doesn't take criticism well, who knows what they're doing, who naturally finds their light without being told a million times, who's flirting, who maybe shouldn't do accents. Many people in the cast are new, and I like seeing them, too, finding out what they're like. At this point they've all been together for something like eight weeks, so to them I'm just a ponytail in the booth, murmuring to and being murmured at by Charles, the production designer (we lucked out: the new headsets worked perfectly. It's such a drag when he has to yell at me in the booth from the audience, where he watches the run through with his cup of coffee).

Tonight's my first real tech rehearsal - I'm pretty sure the plan is to run the whole show with the light and audio cues, which will hopefully be triggered (by me) at the right times. I have rehearsals, I think, every night this week and next week. How those kids have done this for all this time amazes me. I'm kind of already tired just thinking about it.

Update: rehearsal for me ended at 11:20 (the cast had to stay to get notes); I got home by 11:51, and was in bed by 12. However. It was perhaps a mistake to eat 4 peanut butter chocolate chips and drink a mini can of diet coke at 10 o'clock, because I couldn't sleep. I was up until, I think, 1:15. Getting up at 5:30 this morning was a drag.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Today's the day...

I should be getting off my ass.

I should be dressed, and ready to go get new tires (again).

I should have eaten breakfast, I should have shaved my legs, I should have gotten more sleep, I should have read "A Tale of Two Cities," I should have thought before I jumped, I should've done something with my hair after getting out of the shower sooner - now I'm going to have towel hair and I hate that, I should have considered that if I didn't particularly like one Wilco album, I probably wouldn't like another; I should have used more semi-colons in this sentence.

I should be practicing my flute and piccolo parts for the upcoming flute choir concert (December 4 or 11, once we FINALLY PICK A DATE ALREADY).

According to my friend Damon, I shouldn't be saying "I should." He's probably right about that. But without those two words I'd have no entry today, and I feel the need to write something.

This was a long week. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday - where did the days go? I went to work, I smelled breakfast in the City of Cudahy again, I bought a Wii Fit with Patrick, I talked to my friend Roland about buying his piccolo, I did a load or two of laundry, I read a book, I had a flute rehearsal, I went to flute choir, and I tried to get geared up for the next two weeks of tech rehearsals at City Garage.

It's that last one that's going to kill me. How the fuck am I going to handle that? My father got up at 4:00 for something like 40 years, but he went to bed by 9:30. Rehearsals are, I suspect, not going to be over by 10. And then I have to drive home from Santa Monica, converse a little with Patrick (husbands are so needy), and try to wind down before going to bed, and then be up by 5 so I can be at work at 7. On time! (I struggle with being on time. I can do it, mostly, but seriously, whoever said 15 extra minutes of sleep didn't make a difference was a big fat liar).

OK. I can do it. I can do it. Other people do harder stuff. I'm not a wimp, I'm not a wimp, I'm not a wimp...

I don't think I mentioned earlier this week that on Sunday I saw my cousin Gloria? Gloria is my age. She has five children and looks like a supermodel. She also has no husband anymore but who's keeping track? I remember when Gloria got married (she's 6 months older than me, actually; I was a junior... and she was a senior in high school when she got married), and how I was a little freaked out about that at the time. Seeing her again after a long time of not seeing her... with her oldest daughter, who is now 20, I think? Freaked me out again. This story has nothing to do with anything. Well. Maybe.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I knew it

I'm home this morning because last night, when Patrick and I were driving home from Best Buy (where we picked up our Wii Fit!), while he was driving my car (which he has done several times since I got new tires), he finally understood what I had been trying to tell him about the weird feeling I get when I drive over 60 mph.

All this time (he's driven my car a few times since I got the new tires) he's been pretty much telling me I'm crazy. I've driven quite far on these new tires, and I'm a little pissed off at myself, because I knew something wasn't right but I didn't do anything about it, and instead waited for confirmation from him.


So. The tire store doesn't open until 10 a.m. so I have to wait until then, because now my husband doesn't want me driving on the freeway until I get them checked out.

Sometimes I feel like it's 1950 around here. It's not his fault, I should've followed my instincts, but still. Where's my full skirt and heels? My cashmere sweater? My pearl necklace? Boy that Richie Valens can sing, no?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Hello, mammogram!

Yesterday I went for my doctor-ordered "put your mind at ease" mammogram.

Patrick had to work, so like a Big Girl, I went by myself. I had heard from my mother about her own experiences that it wasn't fun, but then I had also heard from an old friend that it's not so bad, so I was just a bit antsy in the waiting room, and that was just fine.

Once they called me in, I met with my technician. Her name was Kendra, and I took some comfort in that - in elementary school I used to walk home with an older girl named Kendra, and she was really cool - this Kendra looked a tad too old to be my Kendra, and she had fried blond hair and an LA drawl - I liked her immediately.

After asking me a bunch of nosy questions about my history, I went behind the curtain and took off everything from the waist up, including my deodorant, and put on one of those cheap, ugly cotton gowns. I don't know why they don't make those in a more attractive print. When I came back out, I saw how cold it was in that room, and while she cleaned off her machine, Kendra apologized for the that. Then she explained what she was going to do, and told me not to worry, that all the stories I'd heard weren't true. She used the word "compression," which got me a little tense (as it would you, I suspect), but then as we progressed through the steps of the procedure (I looked at the wall the whole time), she was right. It wasn't that bad. When it was over, she went across the hall to check her film, and I got dressed and waited for her. She confirmed that everything was fine, and asked me to tell 10 people that mammograms are nothing to be scared of.

And so, I'm telling you now: it was no big deal. All in all, I think it took about 15 minutes, if that. Yes: it's cold. No, it's not very comfortable. But a long night in a tight dress and heels is more painful, and we've all done that at least once.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't box me in

Originally I had different content in mind for that title.

I really wish I could make my brain think of yet another situation for "Irene Casarez" and "Stewart Copeland," and there's stuff in there... but I haven't sat down long enough (well, I have, actually, sat down long enough, but it's the imagination part that's failing me now, not the sitting down part) and tried writing it.

Instead -

Last night was flute choir! We've been on another weird schedule this quarter, with one week on, one week off (due to activities at the school, I guess), and then I missed a week because I wanted to watch the Biden/Palin debate a couple of weeks ago. It was fun to be back. Maybe I was so excited to be there because it took me an hour and 15 minutes to drive 17 miles. I am actually closer to Culver City at my new job, but I have to take the 10 freeway to get there now, and, as I am learning, the 10 freeway sucks. Once I got there (and I was pissed because my lateness allowed me no time to drop in at Mi-T-Mart (OK, so it has a new name but to me it will always be Mi-T-Mart) and buy a bottle of water. I also had to pee, brush my teeth - I had to make a choice.

Since it's our winter concert, we are, of course, gearing up for the holidays, so the music is less challenging than usual, but Patty picked up some interesting remakes of typical Christmas tunes, including one original piece (as in, not a new arrangement of "Angels We Have Heard on High") that calls for three (yes, THREE) piccolos. I get to play picc 1, with Mini on picc 2 and Ronna on picc 3. Mini is a little dynamo - she's quiet and calm, and always prepared and practiced, and I like playing with her. Ronna gets a sweet tone out of her piccolo. Me, with my 50% plastic piccolo (Really. Only the headjoint is wood, and probably crap wood at that! I love bitching about it. It's actually not that bad, and I got a deal for $300), well, I'm pretty loud, and usually in the right place at the right time. We're a fine piccolo team, and I'm excited. Can you tell?

Dora, Puma and Franny will probably not be too happy to hear me practicing (my part has some high Cs and quite a few high B flats); nor will the neighbors, I think, but oh well. Now if I can plan to practice during the open house across the street then I can maximize the amount of people I can annoy.

One the way home, though, after sitting in all that traffic getting there, you'd think the traffic heading south on the 405 at 10 p.m. would've been better, but no. Why do Thursday night drivers love to box me in? I could not get around this one group of pickup trucks going 60 (one in the carpool lane, one in the fast lane, and one in the middle lane) from Culver City to Carson. It was ridiculous. Were they in a parade? A cavalcade of pickups?

In a couple of weeks I'll be driving to City Garage for tech rehearsals after work, and I have no idea what traffic is going to do to me. I'm going to really have to work on not being in a bad mood once I get there.

Today, well. Today. Today I am going to Kaiser for my first mammogram. I'm kind of putting off getting up and getting dressed and going to do this. I'm not scared. I'm just... procrastinating.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Lesson learned

Yesterday, Patrick and I went to the Breast Center at Kaiser and I had another examination.

This time, the doctor didn't feel anything (well. She felt something but I suspect it wasn't much of a thrill for either of us). However, because I think she could tell that I was a bit on the "freaked out" side, she recommended that I go back for a mammogram, when I get a chance, to ease my wacked out mind. Being as I'm a bit young (yay! too young for something) she put it in writing and on my chart, so that the mammogram people won't give me a hard time. I'm going to go do that on Friday. A full report will be forthcoming.

Obviously I am relieved. I mean: Yes. Absolutely: I am relieved. Everyone I spoke to about this made a point of telling me not to worry, and I really appreciate their kind words (on Friday my friend Bo even paid me a rather inappropriate compliment; surprisingly this worked well to temporarily quell my worries), but it was definitely eye-opening to be in this position. I have things to think about, about the way I have been treating my body, about the way I deal with the doctor's office, about the silly thoughts in my head.

Patrick, as usual, was realistic, calming, sweet, and really, really understanding. I am so lucky.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Genie-ass; Yearbook Saturday

Everybody probably noticed, a few updates ago, that iTunes added this silly new Genius feature - you pick a song, and Genius makes you a playlist from your iTunes library (or suggests songs from the iTunes store) of complementary songs. I wasn't sure about using it because it seemed a little invasive for my tastes, but then decided what the hell. And... apparently iTunes has a different definition of "complementary" than I do.

The following playlist was suggested by iTunes for the song "Relatin' Dudes to Jazz" by fIREHOSE. Oh, and by the way? I didn't ask Genius for this playlist. It did it all by itself. I'm still trying to figure out what these songs, exactly, have in common. And waiting for my computer to start calling me "Dave."
  1. Relatin' Dudes to Jazz - fIREHOSE
  2. The Man Who Sold the World - David Bowie
  3. Just Like Heaven - The Cure
  4. Myage - Descendents
  5. Banned in D.C. - Bad Brains
  6. Born in the 50s - The Police
  7. Ana Ng - They Might Be Giants
  8. Party at Ground Zero - Fishbone
  9. The Mayor of Simpleton - XTC
  10. The Softest Hammer - fIREHOSE
  11. Bron-Y-Aur Stomp - Led Zeppelin
  12. Space Oddity - David Bowie
  13. Down by the Water - PJ Harvey
  14. Hanging on the Telephone - Blondie
  15. Can't Get There From Here - R.E.M.
  16. Bela Lugosi's Dead - Bauhaus
  17. Bring On the Night - The Police
  18. On Your Knees - fIREHOSE
  19. Gigantic - Pixies
  20. Making Plans for Nigel - XTC
  21. Gloria - U2
  22. Destination Unknown - Missing Persons
  23. Against the 70s - Mike Watt
  24. Dirty Boots - Sonic Youth
  25. Gardening at Night - R.E.M.

I'm listening to it now, and I'm confused. Not that these are bad songs, because of course they came from my own library (though... I'm going to lose all the They Might Be Giants, I think. I never listen to them and if I do get a song when the iPod is on shuffle, I skip them. They just annoy me now), I just don't see the connections.

I mean, a Genius is someone who is smarter than me, right? So maybe I'm just too stupid to get it. Thanks, Apple. That's a great feeling.


Still working on the '88 yearbook. Look, I have next to nothing planned for today, so maybe later I'll go dig around in the garage and see if I can find the other ones.

Today's entry is from... well, read it yourself:


What do I say? I don't know. I guess I've known you for quite a while. Even though there have been occasional bad times, they have been mostly good. This is hard to write. If you think any differently, I'll set you straight. I've always considered you a friend. We've been through too much not to be. Just because you had that year of weakness, it doesn't really bother me. You were still a friend anyway. You're a good person, don't forget that. Just relax, a little. Anyway, I don't know know what else to say, so stay essentially the same, don't change much, and stay away from the library.


It's interesting, because I met my husband at the library (a couple of years later).

And yes, telling me to "relax" was apparently the theme of the yearbook. Jesus. One girl recommended that hook up with some "homo sapien males." I won't quote her completely, but that's just weird. It also appears that my friends thought it was okay to mention the actual name of the actual boy I was ob--

(Wait. A man in a suit just rang the doorbell.

I'm not here, man. Now he's caucusing with a couple of old ladies with questionable hairdos... and they're standing in front of my house, writing shit down. Dudes. I'm not here.)

Whatever. I'm not going to worry about the other stuff.

Thanks, Barry. That was a nice thing to write.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Friday stuff

On Tuesday, I had my physical; part of the physical requires some blood tests. So today I'm off to the lab to do that, after fasting for 12 hours. 12 hours is a long time, sometimes.

Because my doctor felt a "cyst" (reason for quotes in a moment), she gave me a referral for a full-on breast exam. I made that appointment this morning, and I'm going on Monday. Way to use a County holiday, isn't it. (After that I'm getting a massage from Bruce, though, so it kind of makes up for it.)

The woman who made my appointment referred to it as a "lump."

Isn't it funny that "cyst" is less scary to me than "lump"?

Maybe I'll just think of it as lump crab meat. That's yummy. And I'm hungry, so it's sort of distracting. After the lab I'm having lunch with a friend at Souplantation. We will eat until we burst. That's not a prediction, that's a fact.


Last night on my way home from work, I rediscovered my "Life's not so scary!" music.

In 1990, when me and Adam spent a couple of weeks visiting his brother in Santa Cruz, we were listening a lot to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and to Talking Heads. The Talking Heads album of that trip was "Naked." CSNY is good stuff, but a little melancholy. "Naked" is pure goofball grooviness. Last night I was driving down the 91 with the windows down (obviously doing less than 40), pretty much blaring "(Nothing But) Flowers" and "Totally Nude."

I can't remember which song it was, but I distinctly remember dancing with Adam's brother to this album, in his living room. That was pretty cool.

I have a feeling I'm going to be listening a lot to those two songs.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chinese tamales + Def Leppard's "Pyromaniac"

At my second office job (my only other office job was in the optometry office [where I took a lot of afternoon naps, on the floor], unless you count the two summers I spent selling magazines over the telephone for “Golden Rainbow Publishing Company” [in quotes because I suspect this wasn’t an actual business but rather a front for… something else*]; as you can see from the bracketed information above: I don’t. Count it, I mean), which was alternately heaven and hell (“heaven” because there was little chance that it would go out of business and because my checks were significantly larger, unlike my last several jobs; “hell” because I stupidly put up with a very bad experience for too long. This is not unlike my last job, which was all “hell” and very little “heaven” at all). For awhile there I was the sole secretarial/administrative support for these two ladies who spent their time discussing where they would go for lunch and then taking long lunches once they figured it out, and who found it amusing to scare the hell out of me and make me cry. I’m sure when I wasn’t looking (off in the bathroom crying, probably) they accomplished many fine things, but I’m not interested in thinking about them any more.

Whatever it was they did, at some point it required them to bring on another person, and so they did. Her name was Dana, and she was supposed to be the Administrative Assistant (the same as my current appointment, and I am proud to say I’m a much better AA than she ever was. Hey, it’s true, and honking my own horn isn’t something I do enough of, so there goes). I’m sure she did Administrative Assistant-like things, somtimes, however, most of what I observed her doing was quite similar to the duties I had been performing (little ol’ me, at the lower classification) prior to her arrival. And then had to teach her. And still had to do when she was out. And then there were several occasions (towards the end) where I was doing her work while she was still there. Why would I put up with this?

Well, because unlike my actual bosses, Dana was really nice and fun, she had great style and had, on occasion, shopped for me (picking things out for me that I would not have bought myself but that I ended up loving), and because she fed me. She was married but spent a lot of time with her parents. Her parents were Chinese and Vietnamese, and thanks to Dana and her mother, I sampled many new Chinese-Vietnamese dishes. She took me to the Korean grocery store and introduced me to delicious snacks, and she took me to the fake Hello Kitty store where we bought ridiculous items like fake Hello Kitty washcloths and teabags. We took the Red Line to Hollywood and shopped. She introduced me to the tofu house on Olympic Boulevard where we’d go for lunch sometimes, and she always treated me there like her honored guest: she ordered for me, cracked my raw egg into the steaming hot soup, made sure I stirred it up enough, bossed around the waitresses for me: in short, Dana made up for my doing her job by treating me like a queen when it came to food (I was about 15-20 pounds heavier than I am today then, too. Gee. I wonder why?), and I was mostly happy with this arrangement.

One day Dana brought in some of her mom’s leftovers to share with me. Dana told me what the dish was called, but I don’t remember the real name. I only remember that she called it Chinese tamales. To be honest, I don’t remember much about it other than how it looked, and tasted. I think it was just rice, with some meat, and some kind of beans, wrapped in some kind of leaves (?), steamed, and tied with the cutest bow into a package about the size of a large stapler, oddly rectangular in shape. Heavy for its size, obviously simple, and so good. After a while, Dana found another job, accepted it, gave her two week notice to our bosses (after they found out through the grapevine that she was leaving. They weren’t happy, but she was), and I never got another Chinese tamale again. I’ve been looking, though.

These days, I have hooked up with yet another Chinese-Vietnamese woman, at my new job. Her name is Hung, and I have a feeling Hung is an amazing cook, just like Dana’s mom. This is only a guess, but just listening to her talk about food makes me hungry. I don’t have any idea how common it is to be Chinese-Vietnamese. I don’t know from which culture the tamales come (though Dana did call them “Chinese” tamales and not “Vietnamese” tamales); I don’t know if they’re something Dana’s mom cooked up (pun intended) on her own or if they’re a common dish. Hung is a very nice person, and I am biding my time, waiting until I know her just a little bit better, until one day, when I’m going to ask her to make me (or teach me to make) some Chinese tamales. I cannot wait for that day.**


Hung and I walk, twice a day, four days a week (because we only work four days a week. Nice, isn't it) with two other ladies, Ana and Alicia. Ana is sort of the leader – she’s fast and she works out all the time, and we let her set the pace. At the end she gets to be the “winner.” I think she likes that: she’s a Leo. We need her for inspiration, and she’s good at providing it. Ana could be in the Marines, she’s that fit; Hung is tiny, I’m sort of medium, and I guess that leaves Alicia in the “large” category (Alicia has been kicking my butt all week, finishing way ahead of me, so I should be more careful who I go around calling “large,” shouldn’t I). Usually Ana’s way out in front, Alicia is somewhere in the middle, and Hung and I, the chatty ones, are trailing behind (talking about food, usually). Today I was late for our afternoon session, because I had been on the telephone when they left, so I missed the first lap. After they finished up, I did one final lap alone. Usually I walk with a song in my head (if not in my heart), and the songs are whatever come to me at the time. I’m always walking around town with a song in my head. You should know that about me.

Like the processional at a wedding, it’s usually best if the songs I’m humming in my head are in common time (try keeping a steady beat in 3/4 or 5/4 or 7/8; it’s pretty much impossible. It’s why Pink Floyd’s song “Money” would be a poor choice for a walking song, despite that cool bass line*), and it sometimes feels to me, if I get a nice groove going (in my head) as if I’m walking on four legs instead of two. I can’t really explain it. It’s that rolling gait, I guess, that some high school marching band drummers, the ones with exceptionally long feet, adopt. I don’t know exactly how I’m keeping the beat, but I’m doing it on four legs. Two of which don’t exist.

This week’s songs have been: Radiohead’s “The National Anthem,” Foreigner’s “Feels Like the First Time,” and today, Def Leppard’s “Pyromaniac.” I don't know what these songs have in common. I didn’t get the four legged feeling until this afternoon, when I was cruising along by myself, mostly during the guitar solo. It’s a good thing Hung, Ana, and Alicia had left me. My phantom four legged gait would’ve probably freaked them out.


So. Somebody asked me today if I had tried to feel the cyst in my breast myself.

Now, I'm no prude. I think self-exams are smart, necessary, and a common-sense way to, er, handle one's body. It probably goes without saying but I've touched my own breast before. Shocking, isn't it! However, today, after learning about my little friend (Patrick and I have named it "Crysysty"), I'm all weirded out about it. I'm curious, and I've come close, but for some reason the only time I was really drawn toward actually doing it was in the car on the way home from work.

I had gotten off the 710 at Whittier (about 3/4 of a mile after getting on the 710... traffic was a full-on nightmare tonight) and I was driving down Whitter Blvd., right where there's that big old giant East LA sign (I tried to take a picture but failed miserably). I was listening to Pink Floyd's song "Money" (because I realized that I was wrong - you could totally walk to it, it's got that loping gait written all over it) with the windows down because it was really, really, super hot (I've got this new stupid rule that I only break some of the time, that in order to have the AC on in the car, I need to be going at least 40 miles an hour. On Whittier Blvd, at 5:45 pm, I don't know what the speed limit is, but there's no way you're hitting 40), and there were all these people walking around and in a 100% not creepy way, that was the moment when I thought I could see if I could, you know, feel it.

I didn't do it. I'm not a pervert. But hiding out in my bathroom or in the shower - now that's creepy. Last night I could barely talk about it with Patrick, but I think maybe later tonight I'll ask him to help me. I don't want to feel this stupid foreign object that my own body produced, alone.

It's too weird still.

And to those of you who have experienced this or worse and you're all, get over it, Irene: well, I will. I'm sure. I will.

*I googled them. Surprisingly they're still there. I wonder if Liz is still running the place? She was totally cool.

**It looks like Hung is off the hook. Look up "Chinese tamales" and the exact thing that I ate all those years ago, courtesy of Dana and her mom, comes up, including a recipe. The real name is zongzi, which may be my new favorite word. I don't know if I'm talented enough to make these, but I might look into it. Score one for me!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Had totally decided not to blog this


About two hours ago I had a physical. During the course of the physical, because I am female (and, let's face it, cute), I had a breast exam.

Because I am a female between the ages of 30 and 40 (as the Mayo Clinic website has just informed me), it appears that I may have developed a cyst.

And, as the Mayo Clinic website has told me, cysts are pretty common, pretty normal, and nothing to worry about. I'm not going to wait and see: I'm going to not worry about it.

Which is why, in spite of my original decision not to blog this, I have changed my mind... and here I am. Blogging about it.

Actually, I should say, there I was, blogging about it. Right now I'm getting a Weight Watchers ice cream out of the freezer.


You may wonder why I didn't mention the presidential debate which took place today. I watched it when I got home, listened to it on NPR during the drive to and from the doctor - and I'm sure there will be more intelligent words written about it on other blogs. Right now I am watching Hardball with Chris Mathews, and he's interviewing some guy named Mike Duhaime, and this guy, Mike Duhaime, is reminding me of a hamster in an exercise wheel.


Here's the story I had originally intended to tell today:

A couple of weeks ago, I got my hair cut. During the haircut, Nina, my stylist, mentioned that I should stop washing my hair every day. She explained why, and since I've heard this before, and it made sense, and she gave a hell of a scalp massage during the shampoo process, I decided to consider what she said and see if I could do it. And I found that I can... but I'm having a really hard time, at 5 a.m., remembering if I washed my hair yesterday or if today's the day. It's kind of funny. I guess I have very few operating braincells at 5 a.m. It explains a lot, actually.


Now. Where's my ice cream?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Yearbook Monday... and other stuff

So, by popular demand, I bring to you, what my friend Damon wrote in my yearbook in 1988:


Another year another wall (no pun intended). I'll come to your window. (No pun intended). Anyway, Irene, have a bueno summer. Keep the faith (ha ha!). RELAX! Actually, you have lately!

Love, [peace sign],


So maybe this one needs a little edification.

1. Damon like(s) calling me "Rene." He doesn't pronounce it "Ren-ay" - he pronounces it "Reen." I don't know why. I do know that I liked Damon so much that I let him call me Reen. We called him Tree. I don't know why we did that, either. He was pretty damn cool. I also "let" him make me wear the Hostess Cupcake hat (the silver foil his cupcakes were wrapped in [not a euphemism]).

2. ..."another wall" - I have no idea what this means. Sorry.

3. "no pun intended" - obviously this is where I picked up the lame "not a euphemism" business. It's funny, no?

4. I think I've told the story of how Damon used to show up at my bedroom window almost every Saturday night, scratching and tapping like a huge meowing cat, trying to get me to go to Rocky Horror with him? He'd wake me up, and I'd be all sleepy and half interested and half terrified? So one time I went, and it was delicious fun. I didn't get caught, which was amazing. And later, when I told my mother about it, my little midnight trip to the Nuart, my great Sneak Out Adventure, I put a little dig in at her refusal to let me hang out with Damon: I said, "Mom, of all the boys who came and picked me up at the front door, with him, the one you didn't want me to go anywhere with, I was always the safest." Gotcha, mama! It's okay now, though. I forgive her.

5. "bueno summer" - obviously he was a most excellent student of the Spanish language.

There's a picture of him in this yearbook, wearing a KXLU t-shirt, with his funny long hair and a blissed out expression on his face (his skin looks amazing), blowing bubbles at the camera. He didn't sign on that page. He signed on the page, amongst all the silly senior bios, that had a photo of some chick wearing skinny acid washed jeans, what look like velvet cowboy boots, and full-on, cannot be denied 80s hair.



Yesterday was the funeral of this woman Patrick used to work with. It was actually pretty nice, as funerals go. I've never been to a Jewish funeral before, but I've been to lots of funerals; this one was peaceful. It was a beautiful day. The rabbi was pretty young, and his voice was beautiful. There were several people who stood up and told wonderful stories about the woman who passed away - about how caring and loving she was, about how dedicated she was to her work, and to gourmet food, and to her family, and how she had a lovely smile. About her personal style, which was (and I can see this, totally) fierce. I worked with her too, briefly, but I mostly remember her for the engagement party she and her staff threw for us, which was a surprise to me and lots of fun, and for how, on the infrequent occasions when we all got together, she was always nice to me and interested in what I had to say.

Afterwards, we went to visit my parents, and I looked at the paperwork my mother wanted me to look at. I wasn't sure what good my looking at it was supposed to do, but I told her again not to be afraid, to be brave, to ask her doctor questions, and then I told her I'd go with her and my dad the day of the procedure. I said that before I noted that she has to be at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning, but... okay. We can do that. Then I kind of made the same comment about praying for peace and to not have these worries, and as usual, my mom came after me. Here I am, trying to remind her that her religious views have always been held up to me as something that can get you out of trouble, and she's ignoring it, and asking me when I last read my bible. Hello? I am not the problem here, woman! But I smiled, asked her in my teasing way, "How do you know I haven't been?" and gave her a kiss.

In some ways I'm glad my mom still has her claws.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Checking in

So I'm not exactly sure how this has happened, but I am suddenly the owner of a Kindle.

Kindles are this crazy invention that Amazon has come out with that allow you to download books over something they're calling the Whispernet. The Whispernet is basically free Internet - they don't charge you to use it (though you do have to pay for the books, which are, in my two days of experience, offered at a pretty good discount), and it's kind of everywhere: I don't get it yet, but it doesn't matter. It's there: it works, believe me. You can then read these books on your Kindle, forever if you like. They don't expire, you don't have to turn them in like library books, they're yours. It's a silent iPod. I love it.

You shop for content using the Kindle Store, which at first I thought was just a cutesy name for Amazon.com. I was under the impression (for about five minutes) that every book I could possibly want would be available in the Kindle Store; I was sorely disappointed.

Instead, lots and lots of other books are available, but after looking for one single book and not finding it, I got a little confused. It's not unfamiliar, this feeling, but it rarely happens to me when I visit an actual bookstore. Inside an actual store with books, I can find reading material in approximately 30 seconds. This feeling of confusion was akin to what I normally feel in record stores. In record stores, I have to have some idea of what I want because those CD cases and LP covers aren't giving anything away: I lose my mind in record stores. Sure, now you can listen to them at places like Borders or Barnes and Noble (god I miss Tower Records), but still - you have to start somewhere, and if there's a broken link in the chain of things I'm looking for, I lose all interest and suddenly need an ice cream cone. Even iTunes bewilders me sometimes, if I don't know what I want ahead of time.

Patrick, on the other hand, has no problem in record stores or bookstores - in bookstores he heads straight for the magazines, where he finds his geek music/computer/technology periodicals (I almost always gather up the Atlantic Monthly, the New Yorker, Wired, and People); in record stores he has this ability to find something unusual and interesting, though it does usually take him about two hours. Two hours for him in a record store is nothing. For me it's pretty much death on a stick.

Anyway, I have totally digressed from my original point, which was, for a moment there, heady excitement about my new toy. And now I have no idea what books I want to read on my Kindle.

So somehow, accidentally it seems, I have ended up with two books on "spirituality."

All of a sudden, after months of reading and re-reading Philip Roth and Peter Hamilton, Anne Rice ("The Vampire Lestat" was perfect for floating in the pool), here I am, reading "Eat, Pray, Love" and "Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith."

Neither of which I had any intention of reading. Anne Lamott, the author of "Grace (Eventually)" has been one of my most favorite authors, but since I've started reading her non-fiction ("Bird By Bird" excepted; I can always re-read "Bird By Bird") I have to take a long time in between books. Because those books have started to be about Jesus. And I'm not sure I want to read about Jesus. Even though she does it in a totally entertaining way, the way, if I were going to write a book about Jesus (I am so not writing any books about Jesus), that I would hope I could; it's still not exactly my favorite topic. Jesus, I mean. There's just something about it (him) that makes me squirmy and nervous, even though it's her writing about it (him) (Him) and her writing has always meant something to me.

The other book, "Eat, Pray, Love" is a bestseller, and I downloaded a sample (before I downloaded the Lamott book... I am not telling this story well or in the right order at all, am I) before knowing what exactly the book was about because downloading a sample is something you can do with a Kindle. And this particular sample seemed really long and interesting, and while reading the sample, I discovered that the author also has a good way of putting her hand into my head and patting me from the inside, which was kind of a surprise.

Does that make sense?

So here I am, today, about to get up and start futzing around the house before we have to get ready to go to a funeral and then to visit my parents, where I am supposed to review these papers the doctor gave my mother about this procedure she has to have that's probably nothing special at all, a routine procedure which will make her feel a hundred times better that people all over the world are probably having right now with no problem at all, which she is sort of freaking out about, and I've just been lying in bed for about 4 hours now, reading about Jesus and Anne Lamott and yes, that strikes me as weird.

Yesterday I was talking to my mother about the procedure, on the telephone, and she asked me to come over and read these papers, and I said I would. She told me that she had talked to her (wildly Christian) friend Mary about it, and Mary told her to pray that she would know what to do. What to do? What to do is not the question. The doctor will tell her what to do. I told my mother to pray that God would tell the doctor what to do. I told her to pray that God would help her be brave and help the doctor be smart, and that her job was to try to stop worrying about it.

This made my mother cry.

I did not feel that great, making my mother cry.

But then I made her laugh, which seemed to even things out, except I don't remember exactly what it was I said that she found so humorous. Well, I'll be honest, it wasn't much of a laugh, but it was something. It's okay, I think. I don't know. I worry a little about me telling my mother what to pray for or who to pray to - when I pray, I always sort of do it in typical Judy Blume fashion: "Are you there, God? It's me, Irene."

See, I ask the question, "Are you there?" but then I go and do it anyway.

I wonder if my mother asks, too. I used to think she knew. I'm not so sure now. I think thinking about this stuff makes me sad, which is usually why I try to avoid thinking about it.


Wouldn't it be nice if all I had to say today was that Patrick is out front mowing the lawn and the grass smells so good, and we saw "Nick and Norah's Ultimate Playlist" last night and loved it, and I wish I had had that high school experience and wonder if anybody really does. I liked it so much more than "Juno."

And now I'm going to go do some laundry and maybe run the dishwasher, and then get ready for a funeral, and to visit my parents, and not be sad or confused anymore.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Yearbook Friday

The other day I got an email from my friend Damon (who I haven't spoken to in ages and hearing from him, even through Facebook, pretty much made my day), and he made a comment about "the weird shit" he wrote in my 10th grade yearbook (this obviously after reading the first installment of "Yearbook Thursday," which, yeah, I do think that's pretty cool*), so I pulled out my trusty 10th grade yearbook and started looking, and right now I can't find it. Oh it's there alright, but I think he did something sneaky and wrote on one of the inside pages and right now, at this moment, I can't locate it.

So you'll just have to wait until next time.

Today's entry:


We've known each other for some time. I think I've known you longer than any of my friends. The amazing thing is, we're still friends. Let's stay that way.

- Jeremy

P.S. Keep practicing your flute! You're the best.

Well, he didn't lie: Jeremy and I met in kindergarten and were friends from that day forward. Maybe in later years not as close as when we played Star Wars with his action figures (not a euphemism) or a game of our own invention, "Cat and Dog" or when his mother would drive us to the beach in her Pinto (until my mother asked her to take us in the safer car - the VW) to fly kites, or when I showed him and Patrick S. my underwear in the garage - but we were friends for many years. I'd say right up until we graduated high school and I think I never saw him again.

That's kind of sad, isn't it.

He was in band with me, and went on to be the drum major, and I'm pretty sure he did really well in school and got good grades and all that stuff, but I didn't know him very well after kindergarten. Though he did write a story, when we were in the 12th grade (in Goldman's English class), about his first kiss, which was, surprisingly, with me. I am sorry to say that I don't recall it. I'm fairly certain it didn't occur in the garage.

(I don't remember what I wrote about. I'm pretty sure it was probably a lie. I tend to lie [with good intentions, of course] about that stuff. Have you noticed?)

Anyway, his mother and my mother at some point cooked up some vision of the two of us growing up and getting married, and while I haven't seen Jeremy since 1990, I have (and my mother has) run into his mom at various Culver City institutions (Big Lots, Tommy's, Tito's), where she always makes a point of telling me how great he's doing (good job, nice car, too many trips to exotic locales for surf vacations). I don't even think I saw him at the reunion, eight years ago. Then again, I might've been too distracted at the sheer and total tackiness of that reunion to have noticed anything other than my need to go out and smoke a couple cigarettes in the parking lot with Adam and Patrick.


The good ol' days.


I've GOT to find my other yearbooks.

*He also left a comment, which I also think is pretty cool. Hint hint, nudge nudge.