Thursday, December 19, 2013

Family Ties

I just watched 3 episodes of Family Ties, back to back, and each one made me cry.

Either I am especially emotional, or those were three very good episodes.

The first one was the one where Mallory enters her mom into a mother-daughter modeling contest, and they win. Then, Elyse gets all the attention and Mallory's feelings get hurt. Mallory had a great line, which was, "Then why does everyone make fun of the things that are important to me?" That moment with her mother was beautiful.

The second episode was the one where Steven's production assistant at work falls in love with him. It comes out that Steven is 39. 39! I felt old. But no, that's not why I got teary eyed. The production assistant was played by Judith Light. That wasn't it either. The way Elyse handled Steven when he came home from not having an affair was beautiful. Meredith Baxter Birney did a great job.

The third episode I watched was the one where Alex starts taking amphetamines so that he can keep up with all his studying and writing for mid-term exams. This show is wacky sometimes and the jokes are occasionally really corny, but Michael J. Fox was great. Maybe his acting as a kid on speed was a little frenzied but it was very good.

Anyway, I've been laying around watching television, and it's time to do some laundry and Christmas shopping and cleaning and all that stuff I've been planning on doing. It's nice to be off work.

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's time to go.

This past Saturday was my last performance in the booth for "Moskva" at City Garage. The show closed on Sunday, but we had a birthday party for one of JP's little friends to go to, and I couldn't be there for the final performance.

I ended up with conflicting feelings about this show. It was beautifully performed and designed and written, and as always, I came away with very personal reactions to things I saw and heard on the stage. That almost always happens with City Garage performances.

However, the tech for this show was so hard for me. I think I had one perfect performance, and I'm really taking that to heart. Maybe I shouldn't. There are all kinds of reasons for why this show was so hard, but in the end, what it comes down to is, my operation wasn't up to my usual standards. Friends have told me that I'm being too hard on myself, and maybe that's true, but I will note that these friends are not associated with the theater or performers themselves. I think that matters.

I'm not sure if I'll even be asked to do another show, but if I am, I really have to think about what I'll say. Besides the fact that it was hard on Patrick for me to be gone two nights a week, that all the driving back and forth to and from Santa Monica was hard on me, and the late nights away from home are so much harder on everybody than when we didn't have Jules, that I wasn't able to join my friends at flute choir... it's a huge responsibility. I take it so seriously, especially when I fail, or feel like I have.

Anyway, to be honest, I'm glad it's over. I did have fun, and as I said, it was a gorgeous production, but for me, I'll be glad to not have to have it weighing on me. And flute choir begins again in January, and I'd like to spend some time with my friends, playing my flute more. It sucks that I can't do everything anymore, but I guess that's just the way it goes.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Actual Conversation

My co-worker, who normally doesn't work on Fridays, who talks to herself: Hey, what's that you're listening to, Irene?

Me: Oh, it's Ray LaMontagne, is it too loud?

My coworker: It's just a little repetitive.

Me: Oh, you mean Grammy award winning Ray LaMontagne?!

(I didn't say that last bit out loud.)

Coffee, Dayquil, and Ray LaMontagne

This post says not much at all.

Today's one of the Fridays I work. Unfortunately, since Wednesday, I've been feeling a major cold coming on. Headaches, achy, tired, sore throat. It's not a big deal, just annoying.

Anyway, most Fridays when I work, Patrick doesn't make the coffee in the morning. He leaves early and I take Jules to school. On my way in to work, I pick up Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for myself and my co-worker, and usually some sort of pastry.

After I dropped Jules off this morning, though, I went to Rite Aid to get some half and half and some DayQuil. When I got to work, I decided to make myself a pot of coffee. Earlier this week I bought some CBTL ground coffee for an "emergency stash" for those days when I need an extra cup in the afternoon (we have a Keurig machine in the office). I haven't used a regular coffee maker much: when we started making it at home, we got our fancy machine pretty early on, so all I know is how to use the Breville YouBrew (I love it!). Anyway, I figured out how to use the machine, but I have made the worst coffee in the world.

I think I will throw it out and drink water instead, and sit here at my desk and listen to Ray LaMontagne and try to ignore the woman talking to herself in her cubicle. She's not usually here on Fridays. My normal quiet time has been disturbed, but I will survive. The question is, will she?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Actual conversation (mostly)

We were at the park. He’s riding a lion. I am standing directly in the lion’s path.

Actual conversation:

Me: [Lighthearted tone] Oh, I’d better move! You’re going to run me over!
Jules: The lion is going to get you!
Me: Oh no!
Jules: And then he’s going to eat you!
Me: Wait – what?
Jules: The lion is going to eat you!
Me: Really!? What about daddy?
Jules: Daddy too! And Franny and Dora!
Me: …um… 
Me: You know if the lion eats us all, you'll be by yourself, right?
Jules: Meh. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It's good sometimes, to be dumber than your friends.

I don't think I've written much about my current stint in the booth at City Garage as the Light/Sound Operator for their new play, "Moskva," by Steven Leigh Morris, here (though apparently I have, over on Facebook, where my friends may or may not be losing patience with me), so I thought I might update you all (ummm. "you all" sounds optimistic, doesn't it) on this part of my life.

First of all, when I signed on to do this, I was told that it would be simple. I've done 14 or 15 plays at City Garage, most of them in the old alley space, and one at the new space that was a revival of a play we did in the old space. Maybe there were certain technical limitations in the old space; maybe Charles (the designer) is super inspired by the new space: I don't know. I can only tell you that the tech for Moskva is not simple.

I know I'm not the only operator they've ever had, and I know I panic and freak out probably more than anyone else, but the thing is, I try to do a good job, and to me, that means getting it right, as often as possible. If not every time. That's a little nerve wracking. I talk about it. Shoot me. For this show, my rehearsal time was limited, changes were being made up to and through opening weekend, and while it might not be the hardest tech ever, it's the hardest show I've ever done. 

I'm not going to be too specific about what, exactly, is hard about it. If I've ever complained before about only having two hands while running a show, this time around, it's even worse. I was teasing Charles about being surprised that he didn't add a foot pedal or indicate in the notes when I should be standing on one foot. That's the only thing missing. I mean, the curtain call? Has 13 step, two music cues, fiddling around with the DVD player (hit pause at 14:03; hit play at 14:20, hit pause again...). It's like 5 minutes of insanity. And maybe I'm exaggerating, but isn't the closing scene (and the bows, because City Garage doesn't actually have a curtain) one of the most important parts of a show? Screw that up, and it might be hard to remember that the last 2 hours were really beautiful. So yeah, there's pressure. Those moments are important. I want to feel the same magic the audience gets to feel, and that means doing it right. 

Anyway, because it's hard, and because I'm a nervous Nellie, Charles was in the booth with me for three weekends of performances (I only work the Friday/Saturday shows). In fact, I didn't even touch the DVD player or do the curtain call by myself until this weekend, when I finally ran it for the first time, live.  

Friday night was my first night alone in the booth, and it went mostly OK. I made some minor mistakes, and one pretty big one (twice). There are four moments in the show that make me crazy because there are about 20 things happening at once, and those actually went off okay. I was super nervous about that curtain call because I am not kidding when I say I had never done it before, period. I just read Charles' notes (and re-wrote them) and went for it. It seemed to be okay. Even Charles seemed surprised that I did the second audio cue (and believe me, I considered leaving it out). My timing could be better but that'll happen in time, I'm sure. Saturday went better. It's a great show. The onstage performances are really, really good, and the show is getting great reviews. You should definitely check it out.

Some of my friends on Facebook, and one not on Facebook, apparently felt it necessary to remind me to chill out about it (or perhaps just stop boring them by talking about it), and so, all day Friday I made an effort to relax about it. When I got to the theater Friday night, I wasn't panicky, though I was excited. It really helped. I always forget that when I relax and do my best, that things tend to work out. Worrying about stuff almost never makes that stuff better. To quote my friend Sarah, who was actually talking to me about something else entirely, "Just take it one step at a time and don't get ahead and worry about the unknown." 

It's good advice in so many ways. I love that I have such smart friends. When I actually listen to them, it makes things so much better. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's possible that the so-called Goddess of Light and Sound is going to need a nap soon.

(Re: that title, and sorry if you've heard me refer to myself that way enough already; the director introduced me thusly to the cast at the cue-to-cue: "Say hello to Irene! She is the goddess of light and sound!" And hey, look, when somebody calls you a goddess in front of a room full of people, that's not exactly something you forget or take lightly. Not me, anyway!)

Last night was my triumphant (ha ha) return to working in the booth (light/sound) at City Garage Theatre in Santa Monica. The cast and crew have been busting their butts for months, and I show up for one cue-to-cue a week ago and one week (actually, 4 days, this show opens on Friday!) of tech rehearsals, and here I am, after just one night, already complaining.

That's not true, because I'm actually not complaining.

Last night went well. At the cue-to-cue, Charles had informed me that he was keeping things simple for this show, and I (naively) took him at his word; however... things have gotten complex in the week I was gone. The audio is going to be a little tricky, and then I overheard the director and Charles say the dreaded word "projector." I've dealt with a projector before, in the old space, and let's just say it wasn't my favorite thing in the world to do. However, that particular piece of equipment was balky and possibly possessed by the devil (and yet it worked perfectly whenever Charles was around), but I was under the impression last night that the machine he's going to bring in will - maybe? possibly? - be from the 21st century. We'll see. Anyway, last night Charles ran the sound and I did the lights, and I could see that there are things I'm going to have to learn fast. There's a lot of having two audio cues happening at once, there's a live microphone, and there is some of the dreaded cross-fading. And of course the opening is super complicated.

Actually... I had a lot of fun last night. I love seeing these shows from the vantage point of the booth. There's something really, really cool about turning a guy's light on while he moves five feet. And I'll admit that there's a bit of a thrill involved what that guy is wearing a sheet... or maybe not even a sheet. (What can I say? The eye candy at City Garage is always spectacular.) It's incredibly simple to just hit "go, and of course the artistry and design was done by Charles and Frederique, but it is really satisfying. And as always, they've created such a beautiful set and tableaux. The thing just looks fantastic.

Anyway, the only sucky thing about this is being away from my family every night for a week. Yesterday was a work holiday, so I was able to be home with Patrick and my son in the daytime. I feel bad about the amount of solo parenting Patrick is going to be doing this week. I've lined up my brother to help him out on Wednesday, so that should help a little. And I'm going to try to go home between work and rehearsal (if traffic cooperates) for an hour, where I will, what? Make the little guy dinner, put away the fifty loads of laundry we did over the weekend, and maybe, maybe, eat something myself.

I heard last night that opening night was sold out and has been for 3 weeks. So exciting. So? As the week goes on I suspect that getting up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. for work is going to get harder and harder. I also suspect that Patrick's patience (which is legendary) will get shorter and shorter. I hope to someday make it up to him.

Until then, though, I'm going to keep hitting "play" and "go," hopefully at the right times. I'll see you at the theater.

Moskva, by Steven Leigh Morris opens Friday, October 18, 2013, at City Gargage Theatre, located at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica, California. For tickets and other information go to 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I want to be the girl with the most cake.

I've been listening to a lot of angsty angry grungy music from the 90s this week, and I realized that might be the reason for the black cloud over my head.


Anyway, I've also been listening to "Graceland" by Paul Simon, so I'm attempting to lighten things up. I just finished re-reading Douglas Coupland's book "Microserfs," and loved it the same way I loved it when it came out, in 1994. I even cried at the end again. I tweeted this (because of course D.C. is on Twitter):

"Hey, @DougCoupland, just re-read #Microserfs for the first time in a hundred years... totally shattered and yet full of light. Thank you."

Yeah, I don't really know what that means, either. He didn't respond.

I haven't had much to write about lately. My life chugs along like a 1972 VW in 4th gear. Oh, well, they started potty training J. at daycare this week: I personally don't think he's ready but what do I know? I'm just his mama.

I wrote this in an email to my friend, Andrea, today, and though it's totally apropos of nothing right now, I didn't want to forget it:

I always feel like a total phony at yoga. Like, these chicks are all thinking about the ocean waves or world peace or something and I’m looking at that woman’s body, humming an old song by Hole in my mind.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This post is full of questions.

Last week, my mother began a new chemotherapy treatment. After having no real therapy for quite a while, the three days of medication really took a toll on her. 

Over the weekend, I asked my sister what she thought my mother will do if the now stronger-than-ever-cancer treatment doesn't work. That's not a question I asked with a song in my heart. She thought mom would be realistic about it, but I told her I wasn't sure. Last week I was talking to my mom about what she wanted me to write in the email I send to our friends and families about her treatment, and my mother said to write, “Thank them for their prayers and support, and to continue to pray that this time the medicine will work.” She choked up when she said it, and I did too.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it. Maybe I’m letting my opinion of my mother’s Christianity-fueled “magical thinking” cloud my judgment. Maybe I’m the one with the “cup is half empty” theory. I totally realize that I need an attitude adjustment about this. The thing is, it kills me to see my mother sick from chemotherapy. It makes me angry to see the affects being sick has on her. To see her exhausted, and gray, to see her lose her sparkle (but not her edge, not totally). Yes! It pisses me off that she’s being used up this way.

Is it wrong to wonder, what if we stop these toxic treatments and just let things take their own course? Would it be better to be well for six months or whatever it is (and who knows how long she would truly have? Not even her doctor can say; certainly not me) or to be sick for a couple of years? Is the feeling, “This time the medicine will work” greater than “Today I feel good for the first time in ages”? Is it worth it? We keep telling her to fight, to be strong, but what does that really mean? Where does peace of mind come from? From knowing you’re letting medicine and your doctor manage your disease or from knowing you've done all you can? Is "giving up" a failure? 

It doesn't matter what I think because it’s not my decision to make. In the same situation (and please, please, please, to whoever has control over this, may I never be in this situation), what would I do?  

The other day my mom and dad were talking to me about their funeral plans, and about their final resting places (which will be wherever I and my siblings see fit, apparently; that was news I wasn't exactly prepared to get). The whole conversation had a level of hilarity and yet total realism that I wasn't expecting. We could have been talking about where to park the car, if parking the car was funny.

I've been talking a little bit about the things I do and don’t believe in with a friend. These have been interesting, text-based conversations. I don’t say everything I intend to say, and yet, sometimes I say more than I would tell someone, were we actually speaking. And then there are all the things I imply, that I think are clear or obvious. Sometimes I over-clarify, sometimes I even undersell the information I'm sharing. It’s true that I’m prone to over-sharing, and it’s true that I like words in my head but not necessarily in my mouth – but these conversations have been making me think about the difference between the things I really believe, and what I say I believe.

Is that how you know when you have grown up? When you’re consistent in what you think and feel and exhibit in your actions? Or is it when you accept your inconsistencies and failings as part of you? I'm not sure if the ideas at the beginning of this post match the one at the end, or maybe they do. I definitely don't feel like I have the capacity to self-analyze the things I am thinking about, certainly not right now. 

At lunchtime I listened (for the first time in a long time) to the recording that was made at the recital I played in when I was 11 months pregnant. My performance starts out a little off out of tune and has it's wonky parts, and my breaths were ill-timed and so loud... but then there are moments I hear of total sharpness (and I'm not talking about tone) and whatever that quality is that I love about my own playing, that I put out in my performance and somehow had the technical ability, to play exactly how I felt about that piece of music (La Flute de Pan, the first movement, by Jules Moquet), that it has always made me cry to listen to it. Every time I hear it, I cry. And not because I think I'm so great or that I'm trying to say that I performed the piece brilliantly. I totally didn't. I think that's what makes me cry, that I did a pretty good job and finally sort of heard what it means to be expressive. This is a totally unbalanced paragraph that I should revise, but I think I won't. I've been trying to figure out how to work in an extra walk or bike ride and not feel guilty about not spending that time with my son, and though I believe the goal of losing weight and being healthy is worthwhile, in listening to my own totally imperfect performance and yet hearing that thing that I love about music, what I really should be doing is getting in some practice time on a regular basis. Maybe that, the sound, the method, the repetitive exercise, will help me clear my mind and feel better about things that I can't control. Isn't that what all my questioning is about, anyway? I think it is, actually. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fed up with ThredUP

A couple of months ago I heard about this great place called ThredUP, which recycles gently used clothing and then sells them (discounted) on the internet. And, you can send in your stuff for cash or credit. It sounded great. I did a little shopping, found some cute stuff, and then I cleaned my closet and sent in a bag. This was in June.

About three weeks after sending my bag, I received an email from "James Reinhart, CEO" that they were experiencing a lot of interest and so processing my bag had been delayed, but that I could expect to receive my payout by August 4.

Hey, a month and a half to process 1 bag seemed a little crazy, but it was nice to receive an email from the CEO, so whatever, I waited. Also, I kind of figured they were functioning on the "underpromise, overdeliver" theory, so I totally expected, based on the fast turnaround on my order, that I would hear from them sooner. If you're apologizing for a delay and giving an estimated date to fulfill your promise, why not tack on an extra week anyway? Then when you do it sooner, won't the customer be thrilled to receive an answer sooner than you said? Maybe I just expect people to work faster when they know they're behind?

However... August 4 was Monday. I haven't received my payout. I emailed them on Wednesday, with no response. Not even an "we received your email and will get back to you as soon as we can" (I know those emails are autoreplies; still, it would have been nice). I emailed again yesterday, early: no response. I went online today and checked my account on their website; still no payout information. I tried chatting with them via their "Need Help?" link, and hey guess what? No agents are available right now. Right now! It's 10 a.m., right now, dudes, and you're in San Francisco. Where is everybody? It's a little early for Ghiradelli ice cream.

I also left a message (the line, of course, is not staffed by a live person). I'm starting to get worried. Some of the clothes in that bag were high-end things that I didn't want to give to the Salvation Army, though now I'm thinking the tax write off would've been better. Where did they go? My clothes, the people at ThredUP?

Of course, doing a "thredUp review" search now has revealed that they have a history of poor customer service, which (obviously) I think sucks. It's a great idea, and a good way to get nice, gently used clothing. I really liked the things I bought. I'd also really like for them to honor their commitment.

I'll post an update from them if I ever hear anything. For now I suspect I can kiss those clothes goodbye.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Panic at the (aquarium)

This past weekend, we went up north for a family reunion. We visited Santa Cruz, Aptos, Monterey, and Watsonville. We've been going every year for about five years. We had a great time. It's so nice up there, and every year my family grows more beautiful.

On Sunday, before we came home, we went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which was incredibly crowded. J. loved it. I've been there before but never in August. It was insane. After we’d been there for a while I left J. and Patrick at the bat ray exhibit to find a bathroom, and on the way back to them, I had a panic attack. It took me by surprise. It's never happened before.

(Though, after in retrospect, I have had major coughing fits in crowded situations - Dodger games, movie theaters - or places where I felt I could not easily get out. I don't know if this is related. Nothing to this extreme has ever happened, though.)

The restrooms are outside of the main exhibits, by a little cafe. In order to get back to where Patrick and J. were, I had to go back through the dark, incredibly crowded exhibits, and I couldn't do it. It was different because we’d gotten to the place I left them from another part of the aquarium, so I didn't recognize anything. I kept texting Patrick to come out and get me, but his phone died. It sounds dramatic, but I’m not exaggerating, I was literally scared to go back in. My body was hot, especially my head. It was so weird. I actually walked a few feet into the exhibits, felt the crowd around me in the dark, and had to walk back out again. I sat down on a bench outside of the exhibits. I got teary. I felt so stupid. When Patrick didn't answer my texts or calls, I tried emailing another friend to see if they could talk to me and help calm me down, but they couldn't talk.  

Finally I walked up to someone working there and like a 5 year old who had lost her mommy, asked for help. She was incredibly kind, and drew a line back to the bat rays on a map for me. It took me at least a half hour to get it together. I was pissed that Patrick didn't come out to find me (later he said he didn't want to leave the last place we had been, which makes sense, logically, but didn't really do it for me in the moment), and when I finally got to him, we had a bit of a fight. Then I just shut up and we left. 

J. fell asleep in my arms on the way back to the car. We spent about 3 hours there so it was fine. We need to talk about this more, because we didn't handle it well, either one of us. I should have known something was up with me because Saturday night, we left the party for a little while with my brothers and Dan’s partner Joe to go to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, which was also very crowded. There was a point where there were so many people, I just couldn’t go any further, so Dan, Joe, Patrick and J. kept walking, and me and Andy hung out and looked at the beach. It seemed so obvious to me that there were just too many people, but we were able to get away from that, and I had someone with me. It worked out.

Yesterday I was talking to a co-worker about this. I know that she has some issues with speaking in public and we'd sort of talked about that before, so I felt like she would know what I was saying. She was totally sympathetic and sweet about it. We were talking out in the hallway, by the elevator, and while I was telling her the story, I felt a tingle on the skin on the back of my neck. I guess now I know what it feels like when your "hair stands on end." It was such an odd sensation.

I've talked about it now with a couple of people, and they were all nice about it. One was my boss, and she said that this used to happen to her mother all the time, and then we laughed about all the things our moms did when we were little that used to annoy us that are now happening to us. Is that all this is? Age? I don't know. I need to think about it some more, and figure it out.

I took the day off today to relax and hang out. I'm watching "Grosse Point Blank," the movie with John Cusack (playing an assassin) and Minnie Driver. I've seen it before, but I'm loving it so far. I think I'll make a bowl of popcorn and go watch on my iPad in the bedroom. Maybe take a nap. Maybe think about things; maybe not.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

For me.. for me!

Yesterday I was teaching J. how to sing the part in Bohemian Rhapsody that goes "mama mia, mama mia...," and he was doing a pretty good job, and then I blew all our minds when I hit the high note (totally falsetto, and not very pretty) at the end of the line, all the "for me!"'s. I think that's Roger Taylor singing that part, and I think it's a B flat or a C? I'm no singer (clearly), so it was extra cool to hear that big ol' note coming out of little old me.

I love that my boy loves music. He rocks out in the back seat, strapped into his (now forward-facing) car seat, and it's the cutest thing, ever. He sings along with TV shows, and when we're walking, he'll sing the alphabet song or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. I'm still hoping he'll be a flutist or a drummer (or a sax or a marimba player, a composer, a singer, a bass player...) but whatever he chooses to do, I hope he always loves music.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Parental guidance required.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting on the couch in the freshly painted living room of the house I grew up, with a small stack of papers on the couch beside me. This is a couch that almost always makes me want to take a nap - it's so cushion-y and soft. I wish they'd had it when I lived there, instead of the scratchy brown plaid couches I remember.

The papers were life insurance paperwork for a policy my parents had purchased in 1998 that is probably not necessary. My mom said it's a "burial policy." We discovered that they might have duplicate coverage for their funerals but I was unsure, because no where on the papers were the words "burial policy." I have to do some follow up to make sure, but they can possibly stop paying on one of them. I don't know where we all were financially, 15 years ago, but I made sure my mother understands that at this point in all our lives, between myself and my three siblings, I think we can afford their funerals without her having to worry about it.

During our discussion of all this, which, by the way, was kind of surprisingly lighthearted, my mom left the room and came back with the pages from the catalog that show the urns she and my dad have chosen for their ashes. They decided against buying a space in a cemetery; I learned yesterday that their final resting places will be... wherever we chose them to be.

The urns are beautiful. Mom's has doves on it, and my dad's is plain, but nicely finished. I'm sure he was impressed with the workmanship. I'm sure either I or one of my siblings will find an appropriate place to display them, if and when the time comes. I guess there's really no "if," is there.

My mom left the room to put the papers away, and my dad and I were left alone.
Me: Do me a favor, and don't be like those people who, when one dies the other one goes within the week.

My dad: What? (Laughs)

Me: We're going to need a least one parent present at all times.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

This commentary is about 6 years too late.

I've been watching the West Wing on Netflix, season by season, episode by episode for a while now. It's such a great show, and I've been highly entertained. This week I finally made it to the 7th season. These are episodes I've never seen before, and they're a lot of fun to watch.

However, I am finding the storyline of "If you would just let him do what he wants, JOSH, Santos will get himself elected president" to be really tiresome. Patrick HATES Matt Santos, and every time he catches a view of Jimmy Smits on my iPad, he groans. I think the actress playing Mrs. Santos is a doll. This show has a thing for cute blondes.

I'm wondering what the hell Donna has been up to; if, after Josh's turned her down for a job but sort of admitted that he feels something, she walked our of the door of Santos/McGarry HQ and found herself a job at the Gap or something. Luckily I suspect this storyline will play out soon.

Josh's new super fluffy hair is super cute and youthful? Maybe. Santos needs a haircut, C.J. needs a nap, Debbie is never around, what does Charlie do, exactly, and WHO LEAKED THE SPACE SHUTTLE STORY? (Actually, I know the answers to some of these questions. Thanks a lot, Wikipedia.) Who cares, I just would like to see more Oliver Babish, please.

I don't like the weird color they've dyed C.J.'s hair: she looks older in the 7th season episodes than she does now, but I love the fuller skirts she's wearing. She's a great actress, and a beautiful woman, but she just seems too tired right now. I've said this before, but I love the actress (NiCole Robinson) who plays Margaret: Leo's, and then C.J.'s assistant.

Anyway, once I've finished watching all of season 7, it has been recommended to me that I should look into "House of Cards," and I watched one episode of "Veep" and laughed (a lot), so those will be my shows once this is over. I'm not sure if I will be checking out "Newsroom." I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Morning grouch

I noticed this morning that there was a memo on the intranet regarding our workplace dress code. I didn't read it because the intranet stories are so easily ignored, but also because I find a memo about dress code to be totally beside the point today.

I'm sleepy, and a little grumpy, and I forgot my coffee and my banana on the kitchen counter, and I didn't fall asleep until 12:45 last night, and then when the alarm went off at 4:45, and I set it to go off in 30 minutes thinking I could get a little bit more sleep, but then the kid woke up too and wanted "milk from mama."

Well. It is my opinion that since we all interact mainly with each other, and because the air conditioning has been so touchy lately, we should be allowed to come to work in our pajamas. I have a nice, respectable pair of navy blue sweat pants that don't say "Juicy" or "Pink" on the butt that I would be most comfortable in today.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Life is hard; wear a helmet*

Anybody who says they don't need a seat belt or a bike helmet ("because we didn't have those things when I was young") is foolish, period. Anyone who says laws enforcing these things are just "nanny state" governmental busybody-ness should get over their paranoid fears and protect their goddamn head already. Does it really matter who tells you to do it? Your mother, a coach, the "law"? I've heard some pretty stupid arguments against bike helmets. Have you seen how big a car is, felt how hard the pavement is, and thought about how delicate your fucking skull is?

(Those arguments that start with "I know someone who was in a car crash who would've died had they been wearing their seat belt" make me sad The stories of people dying in car crashes who should've been wearing their seat belt... well, let's just say they don't just make me sad.)

(I read a description of the car seat we bought for J. that said something along the lines of, "This seat has been nicknamed 'the Orphan Maker;'" implying that in a car crash, the kid will survive but the parents won't. If that fact right there doesn't take your breath away, you're insane.)

And yes, I too (and my sister and brothers) grew up during Evel Kneivel's heyday, riding in the back of my dad's pickup on the 405 freeway, riding minibike motorcycles bareheaded (actually, not me: by the time I was old enough, either the minibike was out of commission or my dad didn't want me riding it), not knowing what sunscreen was really for, rolling around on the floor of the front seat of a car as an infant, wandering the streets alone as a kid, giving "puppet shows" for the people behind us from the rear-facing back seat of my mom's station wagon... and we are all lucky, because nothing really bad ever happened to us (though my brother obtained some pretty rad scars from various bike crashes and other injuries; once, in the 11th or 12th grade, I was groped by a man who spoke to me in Spanish on the bike path under Sepulveda Blvd. Oh, and a big fat guy in a white car exposed himself to me while I was walking to school, once, but I was too stupid to understand what I had seen or do anything about it except laugh). And a guy I dated a few times in my 20s took me to his room one night, and when he was in the bathroom, I snooped in his bedside table and saw that he had a gun. I never saw that guy again.

I don't care if there is or ISN'T a law about safety; because we know, thanks to science and neurologists and people who study this for a living, that helmets save lives. We know that seat belts protect people in accidents. We know these things because not everybody has been as lucky as I have, or you.

Yes. You might die in a car accident even if you're wearing your seat belt. Yes, you might be paralyzed or suffer brain damage if you're in a bike accident while wearing a helmet: these tiny straps and pieces of foam are not the hand of God. None of us is guaranteed a safe ride home, every time. But don't be purposefully stupid, don't put yourself in harm's way if you don't have to. Take every chance you can while you can still think about it.

There, whoever I've pissed off has left the room, and for you, the ones left, I'd like to share this article I just read in the NY Times about pretty/cool/incredibly expensive bike helmets. My own personal helmet is a very utilitarian looking Specialized helmet that I got at Wheel World in Culver City. It looks like a helmet, and is black and grey, with reflective tape that I added for better visibility, not fashion; then again, that right there IS my style. Just because I personally don't feel the need to express my individuality via my stupid bike helmet, doesn't mean I don't think it's a fun idea. If more people will wear one because they now have the option of getting one that's a little kooky, then, hey, go for it. You can read the article here.

And don't forget to buckle up for the ride home, dummy.

*There's a seemingly now defunct website by this name that came up on my google search while I was writing this, with that title. I thought it was cute but couldn't access the site. My apologies for stealing your title, whoever you are.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Someday you'll tell this story, and laugh." Today is that day.

My mom hates it when I tell this type of story so let's just pretend this happened to someone else:

I was talking to my coworker on our walk this morning about learning to drive. Her son is in his 20s, and just got his first car, a 1999 Toyota Camry with low miles on it. I was about that old when I got my first car, and was going for practice drives with my mother. (It never occurred to me to get my license before I had a car.) First of all, who had that bright idea? Anybody with half a brain could see that was going to be a disaster. For one thing, my mom and I had a history, when I was younger, of butting heads about how to do just about everything. She knew the right way to do things, and hey, guess what? So did I. Unfortunately, those two ways were always totally different. We did not know how to agree to disagree, we only knew how to attempt to beat the other into submission. This is an exaggeration. But when we disagreed, we really disagreed.

And then, I was nervous and not a confident student (of driving, and many, many other things). This should surprise no one. But my mom was also a nervous teacher, and this combination of fear and lack of confidence meant that our lessons almost all ended in tears (mine).

(You should know: I am an excellent driver now, so I will take a moment to thank my mother for those lessons, which though they were dramatic and emotional, apparently also taught me something. So, thanks, mom, for getting in a moving vehicle with me when I was a big dopey 20 year old. Also, now, 20 years later, we are better about accepting each other.)

The story I told my co-worker was this: I remember being in my mom's 1984 Subaru GL, waiting somewhere at a red light not far from home. I want to say it was at the intersection of Sepulveda and Sawtelle, heading towards Overland. Where Crocker Bank used to be. I was sitting there at the red light, with my hands on the wheel, stuck at 10 and 2. Tense, man, I was TENSE. My mom said to me, in that tone of voice that freaks me out TO THIS DAY, "Irene, you can relax! We're at a red light! Take your hands off the wheel!" And I immediately burst into tears. I probably then made an illegal u-turn and took us straight back home, where I hit the curb when parking the damn car.

My coworker and I laughed about this and did the whole "Mothers!" thing, and she said, "Aw, she was just trying to keep you safe," and I acknowledged that J. and I will probably have this exact same moment at least once (and probably many times), about a whole bunch of things, so the lesson for me today is that I need to learn how to not do this to him. It's also nice to be so old (there's something wrong with that) that these stories are now more amusing than painful, but I'll admit that I wish I'd been a more confident young person, or at least self-aware enough to have known that I should've found anyone else to teach me to drive so that both my mom and I would be spared the emotional scarring this event inevitably caused. It was nice to laugh about this now, and to understand what was going on, a little better. I appreciate my mom so much now; I need to work on showing it better.

The driving lessons I had  in my 20s with my sometimes slightly drunken boyfriend were better, but I can't advocate this for anybody else. For one thing, it might be against the law. Hearing his silly half-drunk voice ("Are we stalled out?") from the back seat as I stalled his 1990 Toyota Tercel on Wilshire Blvd. was a much more fun experience. (Sober, he was pretty much just as nervous about my driving as my mom was. You should've heard the argument we had once when I drove his car on the 405 south over some sort of debris that when he asked me to identify, I couldn't. He made me pull over so he could ensure that his gas tank hadn't been punctured or some bullshit like that. Needless to say, he made me cry, too. And then we made out on the side of the freeway. Hey, this was a more fun story. Why didn't I think of this one sooner?)

All the world's a stage, even your crappy little work cubicle

If you do a search on the internet for "why do people talk to themselves," most of the answers you're going to get back are about schizophrenia or the fact that everyone does it "so you're not crazy."

But there's a third reason my 30 second haphazard Google search didn't unearth (though it might have; I didn't delve much further than halfway down the first page of results. You want science, look elsewhere, my friend. You should know this by now), and I think it's this:

People talk to themselves because they're (we're) attention whores.

That joke about it being the only way to be assured of having an intelligent conversation? Yes, and it's also a way of making sure that a room full of people who have their own thoughts and tasks are all totally aware of you and your every utterance.

Anyway, somebody said something out loud in their cubicle today (this happens many times, every day), in a tone that was intended to be overheard (everything this person does is intended to be overheard), and while I have to assume this person is as sane as I am (because doubting my own sanity would be a problem, and because I am not a doctor, and therefore completely unqualified to diagnose anyone; you should know this by now), it just struck me that it's possible this person (a former community theater actor) considers their position behind their desk, with their back to the window, facing the door of the office, as an actor, on a very small stage.

Yes, lady. We're all looking at you and listening to your performance. What you don't realize is that some of us are also judging your performance.

(This article cracked me up. Should I ever need to find a banana, I will be sure to say it out loud. "Where is the banana? WHERE IS THE BANANA? Seriously! Where's the goddamn banana!")

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Words are trivial": for examples, see "Maturity is a disappointment," blog, by Irene Palma

I was at Venice Beach on the 4th of July and heard "Behind the Silence" or whatever that stupid Depeche Mode song is called, and thought, "And now my trip to Venice is complete. J. will remember this day forever." (Actually, he probably will: it was his first time playing in the ocean and he went batshit crazy. He LOVED it.)

When Patrick had said he wanted to take J. to the beach, I thought he meant, to walk around on the boardwalk and look at all the crazy people. It was only when we got to the sand and he started heading to the water that I realized he wanted to take our kid into the ocean. I had to stop so we could talk about it. I said, "I'm kind of freaking out right now about this." I said, "You need to be in charge, here." I said, "Don't you take your eyes off him or let go of his hand, EVER."

These were strong words even for me, and Patrick's no dummy (after 15 years of marriage he totally gets when I'm scared), and he retreated a little: he said, "We don't have to go today." I said, "No, we can go, just know that I'm worried."

Why so much worry? I remember being about 15 or 16, playing in the water with my friends, turning my back to the ocean like an idiot, and getting totally wiped out, flattened, tumbled, and flopping up on the beach many yards from my original starting point, breathless and blind (my glasses were somewhere on the beach with my stuff, and my friends, who were nowhere to be found for what felt like forever but was probably only about 15 minutes). It scared the shit out of me. I'm sure that other people who wear glasses are safe in the ocean but I am not one of them. And that experience was not one I will ever forget. Patrick, who grew up boogie boarding and body surfing (and he wears glasses, too) in Venice Beach (without a history of eye/ear infections or gangrene) is a much stronger swimmer (much stronger, in general) than I am, but I sometimes worry that in his efforts to make things "fun" for J., neglects some of the safety precautions I would take. This is, I think, the difference between lots of mamas and daddys.

Anyway, Patrick did everything right, and J. loved his time in the ocean, and we will be sure to get him to (perhaps cleaner) beaches again soon. But that's not what this post was supposed to be about:

There is something about that song, and that place. It just seemed right, hearing it. I heard it as we were walking back up the boardwalk to Rose Ave. to my mother-in-law's house, and it hit me in the head, via my ears, like a brick. Maybe because my experiences at Venice beach were mainly in high school, when that song was new (me, too). Maybe because my experiences at Venice beach were mostly unpleasant. Anyway, going there with Patrick, who lived six blocks from there practically his whole life until we got married, and exudes Venice cool, and my toddler, who couldn't be cool if he tried, was totally awesome. J. had to be physically picked up so we could go home! After about an hour of jumping and splashing and having what we suspect was the time of his life! Patrick said, "I wonder if he will dream about this?" Who knows?

The kid loves the water. Me, I got in the ocean up to my ankles, felt the pull as each wave reversed it's way back out, and remembered that it's not my job to transfer my fears to my kid: it's my job to make him feel safe in the world, and to ensure that he is. I'm trying, sweetie. I really am.

Take a look, it's in a book

I was walking back to my office through the parking lot, after picking up lunch. I saw a butterfly, about 20 feet above me. Simultaneously, as my eyes/brains identified it as “butterfly” (as opposed to, say, “missile” or “777”), the words and tune of “butterfly in the sky…” came to my mind. (Did you know there's a Reading Rainbow app for the iPad? Check it out!)

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday's Musical Choices

No one cares, but here's what I listened to today at work (there were only 3 of us, and our offices/cubicles are spread out, so I could listen with abandon for a change):
  1. fIREHOSE, Fromohio
  2. Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac
  3. Weezer, Pinkerton
  4. Gang of Four, Entertainment!
  5. The Police, Outlandos d'Amour
  6. Pixies, Doolittle
  7. Pixies, Bossanova
  8. Wilco, The Whole Love

F-f-f foolin'

I heard Def Leppard's song "Foolin'" in the car this morning, and it was a perfect example of a song I've basically been singing along to my whole life, but all the wrong lyrics.

I won't give any examples now, but let's just say that way I sing it, the song makes no sense.

I looked it up, and holy cow, that's a love song.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Jason Isbell - Southeastern

There's something about this guy, who has a totally different songwriting and storytelling style, that makes me feel the same way George Harrison makes me feel. It might be the guitar sound, but there's definitely something Harrison-y there. It's also a little bit like the way some Jackson Browne songs make me feel. George does it with his spirituality, Jackson with the aching love songs (though, I guess they're really the same thing). This guy has something a little different in tone but the effect is the same. I know I'm not really telling you anything that makes any sense if you're not in my head, but I'm still feeling pretty raw from my first listen of "Southeastern" this morning. And I never professed to be good at this writing stuff.

I listened to the first eight songs on this album on the way to work, and I didn't stop sniffling until I got to "Songs That She Sang," which was the point when I told myself I had to get pulled together so my co-workers wouldn't call 9-1-1 when I got there. Just so you know, the 5 freeway through the City of Commerce on a June Gloom morning is pretty depressing. I'm not saying he made me sad; the three and a half hours of sleep I got last night probably account for that feeling: I'm just saying these are heartbreakingly beautiful songs. Remember the first time I heard "Sky Blue and Black"? I just want to be heading off on a road trip with him and that voice.

Wikipedia calls his sound "progressive country," and I don't know what that means, exactly, because though there are some voices in the country (alt country, whatever) genre that I really like, I'm not exactly a fan of that style of music. I'd probably freak out (in a good way) if this guy put that voice (his voice is killer! It's so emotional and broken and gorgeous) to a Fleetwood Mac song, or rocked it out (I haven't heard him enough to know if that's something he does). Oh, my goodness, imagine him singing Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done"! Obviously I have some more listening to do.

Anyway, I'm here at work, drinking my coffee, and no one seems alarmed at my emotional state, so even though it sounds as if Mr. Isbell wrecked me, it was in a good way. Anyway, I think that was his plan. Otherwise why make music in the first place?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Update on me reading the Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice

I forgot to mention:

I started re-reading book one, and got about three quarters of the way through before... all the beatings got to me. Maybe I just have zero understanding of erotica and what people are looking for (no maybes about it, I really don't know anything about erotica), but people getting jacked up is not sexy to me. It seems a little too violent and psychologically questionable, and I just can't do it. I mean, are you supposed to imagine that nobody's actually getting hurt? I don't get it.

So? I'm out. Anybody interested in these books is welcome to them. Contact me with your mailing address and I'll send them to you, free of charge. The first one might have a little minor water damage (water glass mishap). Maybe you'll get more enjoyment out of them.

I've got ants in my coffee maker. Call 9-1-1! Do something!

My little family has been struggling with a particularly annoying infestation of ants this year.

I thought it was because the Littlest of us is the King of Crumbs, but Patrick has informed me that no, these ants are looking for water. The crumbs are just Extra Fun for them. Anyway, I guess it's true, because the other day I found one of JP's water cups under the couch, half full of water and a quarter full of dead ants.

They're also in the bathroom (I know, gross), and of course the kitchen, where the target seems to be the kittys' water bowl. They mostly avoid the cat food.

We found a guy on Angie's List who was well-recommended and reasonably priced, and he came out a couple of weeks ago to spray with some "safe for kids and pets" ant spray. He went under the house and hit the yard, as well, but last week, the ants came back.

(By the way, I love Angie's List. We got our landscape designer, the dudes who implemented the landscape design, our plumber, the people who installed our windows, the people who re-did our stucco, the new maid service, and the painters through there and they were all super-excellent. I recommend it.)

Yesterday morning I discovered my little ant friends in our Fancy Coffee Maker. Which, as you know, before it grinds the coffee beans and brews the coffee, is full of water.

Patrick had time to rinse the thing out and make another pot of coffee, but this morning, they were back, and we didn't have time. And then we discovered that the little door that covers the water reservoir won't close. No big deal, I think the thing will work without that being closed, but dude. Coffee maker down. NOT GOOD.

Luckily for me, over the weekend, I purchased some Starbucks "K Cups" for the Keurig coffee maker we have at work. This is my "just in case" stash (just in case I forget to bring mine from home, just in case I need another cup in the afternoon, etc.) because I'm not a fan of Starbucks coffee... but I was at Target, and of the other choices they had, Starbucks seemed the best. I got the Pike Place Roast, which I had read was smoother than the others, and I'm drinking it now (after having my coworker show me how the damn Keurig thing works). It seems fine, but it is no Groundworks "Black Gold." It's not as bitter as I remembered Starbucks coffee to be, but that might just be because the Keurig blends a milder cup than you get in an actual Starbucks store. I have no idea. My coworker good naturedly called me a coffee snob, and "spoiled," to which I replied, YES I AM, at least with the coffee if nothing else. You can drink that Kirkland crap if you want to, lady, but it's only the "good" stuff for me.

Anyway, it's almost gone, and I might make another cup. I need to steel my nerves for the possibility that our Fancy Coffee Maker might be out of commission for awhile.

The ant guy is coming back on Friday.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don't call me "Deacon Blues"

So, earlier this month I made a decision that it was high time for me to learn how to play the saxophone. I (sort of jokingly) reached out to my friend Phil who plays and he's offered (perhaps jokingly) to go with me to rent one and show me the ropes in exchange for dinner.

Lots of flutists are sax doublers, and it's because of some similarities in fingering, but I've been uninterested, until now, in giving it a try for a couple of reasons:

1. I'm concerned for my embouchure. The one thing I can count on in my flute playing, especially when I lack the time for consistent practicing is my clear, sweet tone. Lack of practice means everything else (fingers, confidence, ability to sight-read) goes to hell but since I usually sound okay, it keeps me from committing suicide (or, putting the flute away forever; you decide which is reality). I've heard things about what happens to a flutist's tone who picks up the sax, and let's just say, they're not always nice things.

2. I'm lazy. See above: I don't have a lot of time to practice the flute, when the hell do I think I'm going to be able to sit down and figure out a new instrument?

3. The reeds and the mouthpiece. WTF is this shit? I don't know anything about these items, and frankly, they bother me. I have to do what to a reed before I can use it? Get it all wet with my spit? Is that gross or is it just me? I mean, I'm sure I'll get over it, and some Reeds 101 would probably include hygienic advice but for now, I don't feel good about this part. And then I know that the number of your reed can be a status-y thing for some players, and jeez, do I need that pressure?

On the other hand, I have (misguided, probably) confidence that I will be able to pick this up fairly quickly (due to my inherent musicality and superior genes, musically speaking. Fine: I can't parallel park, but I can be hot shit on occasion, when it comes to music. Man. I'm a brat, aren't I?), and will be playing the sax solos from "Careless Whisper" and Fishbone tunes in no time. And, I bet I would look good in a bowler hat. Check this one out, too. Seriously, is this going to be a problem?

Come on.
Or maybe this is my destiny.

Cuing up the English Beat now.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


While at work, I don't want to have to "overhear" anyone's conversation that includes the words, "It's because you're a Cancer, honey, it's your hard shell..."

I'm just saying.

If your daily conversational style requires that you constantly use terms like "the bottom line is," "the point is" and "the idea here is," doesn't that mean that you need to improve and simplify your communication skills? I mean, if you have to constantly ask for confirmation that your listener understands what it is you're telling them, couldn't you do a better job of making the prime point, whatever it is?

Or is this just the sign of rampant condescension?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Feels like the (cough! cough!) first time

I've been hearing commercials on the radio for a new product called "Enjoy" Electric Cigarettes. I haven't done much (any) research, so all I know is what they tell you in the commercials (and then only the bits I can remember), which is that you can't buy them if you're a minor (that's got to be a good thing), that nicotine is addictive, and that they are some sort of "electric" cigarette. What the hell that means, I have no idea. Do you plug it in or are they battery powered? Then they have Foreigner's "classic" "Feels Like the First Time" playing in the background.

I did do a little half-assed research into Foreigner, and I had no idea that some guy in the band used to be in King Crimson. Shocking! And I found out that "Head Games" (one of my favorite dirty little secret songs) was a Foreigner song! I had no idea. Also, Foreigner seems to take themselves very seriously.

Anyway, my point is, I think that's a funny song to use in this commercial, because, as I remember it, my "first time" smoking a cigarette wasn't anything to brag about or remember fondly. It involved a soft pack of Pall Malls (I've told this story before; I chose Pall Malls because some dumbass kid, who my life would be a lot better had he never crossed my path, told me "Kurt Vonnegut smokes Pall Malls"), the dirt behind my neighbor's shed (they were out of town and I was supposed to be watering their eggplant), and a shitload of coughing. It was not a pleasant (or very smart) experience. Unless I'm significantly lamer than the rest of the world (and it's definitely a possibility), I'm not sure that anybody who smokes is looking back to their first time lighting up through rose-colored glasses with Foreigner in the background. It was around 1987, the chances are very high that I was listening to U2 or Billy Idol.

Anyway, I wasn't a huge smoker, and I finally quit about 10 years ago (because it was literally making me sick, and starting to feel very gross to me, and because I worried about my husband, who smoked more than I did, and when I would relapse, he relapsed even harder; and because there's nothing more stupid than a woodwind player smoking a cigarette), and of that I am proud.

If you're a smoker and you need help quitting, there is LOTS of information and help out there for you. Try starting here:, and please, do it for yourself. You deserve a long, healthy, smoke free life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

"I love the smell of bookstores in the morning."

Over the weekend, Patrick and I took Jules to a local Long Beach bookstore where our friend Jeff was playing with one of the ensembles he's in. We'd never been to this bookstore, which is crazy, because it's about 1.5 miles away from our house (and next to the bike store, which we both have been many times). It's a little funky used bookstore, apparently small enough for one employee at a time. That one employee, when we first got there, resembled Ernst from the movie "The Hotel New Hampshire," blond, handsome, with a thin little mustache. The guy who came in after him had dirty fingernails and a bit of a tremor.

As a long-time, former bookstore employee, I think I've pretty much seen it all, at least as far as the type of people who work in bookstores goes.

While we were waiting for the band to get ready, I wandered around the bookstore a little bit. They sell used books, and the space is pretty small, so it was easy to see everything in a short amount of time. The book I picked up rather haphazardly at first was Rob Lowe's autobiography. What can I say? I knew I didn't have a lot of time. Sort of magically, I turned, at random, to the chapters where he writes about "The Outsiders." I'd forgotten he had been in that movie, which is one of the very few instances I can think of where the movie was as good as the book. I'm in no way commenting on his performance as an actor. I didn't read the whole story he wrote about that movie, because Jules wanted to be held. Maybe I'll find it at the library. Then, I discovered (in a box) Anne Rice's "Sleeping Beauty" trilogy, and just the sight of those quality paperbacks, with the original (as I remember) covers, took me straight back to 1991, when I was working at Crown Books in Culver City.

Everyone is (or was) all excited about the book "50 Shades of Grey," which I haven't read, and don't intend to read. I haven't read a lot of erotica, but the shitty reviews (or, I should say, the reviews that reveal that it's a shitty book) of "50 Shades" are enough to keep me from checking it out. Not one person has told me to read the book because it's well-written, and I don't have a lot of time for books as it is: why would I waste my time on one that's terrible? Anyway, I had read the Anne Rice books, or at least the first one, back in 1991, while working at Crown, hiding in the corner to the right of the cash registers.

So here's the thing about working in a bookstore, or at least, a bookstore with a corporate headquarters: you really aren't supposed to read the books. At least, not on the floor. This was the rule at all the bookstores I ever worked in, and, aside from not being on time for work very often, the rule I broke the most. Truly, I almost got written up at Rizzoli (or was threatened with it, though, I don't think anyone ever got written up at Rizzoli) for it. I wish he'd done it, because what the hell, right? There are worse things I could've done (and were surely done by my co-workers, some of whom were blatant drug users and outright thieves).

Here's another thing you should know about working in bookstores, should you be looking for that kind of job (and good luck to you, because there sure aren't many bookstores left): people who profess to "love the smell of bookstores" almost never get hired. That type of person, who has a romanticized notion about a building that most likely hasn't been properly vacuumed in years, where the smell of the "books" is more likely a moldy carpet or the other employees, is probably a little bit crazy. We know that, those of us who work in bookstores. We know that "old book" smell is probably the receiving clerk's lunch. From two weeks ago.

Yes, books are awesome. Yes, buying, selling, handling, talking about books, opening the new shipments up for the first time: that's pretty fucking rad. But we didn't wear those aprons at Crown for nothing: it's a dirty business sometimes, and you need to know that you're going to be crawling around on your hands and knees, rearringing the travel section a lot of the time. But the thing that's truly wonderful about bookstores is the people, and that's what I miss the most. I'm pretty introverted: I'm not very outgoing with strangers, and I can be a little awkward, but I loved ringing up people and handling their books and the act of the sale itself, the sound of the cash register, or the credit card machine, and then packing their books up, and wondering about the person buying them (what made them pick these two books?), asking if the writer was any good if I didn't know, supressing a chortle if I did know that the writer sucked. I loved all that, I love straightening a section (I used to say, "I'm inflicting the alphabet on this section!") and cleaning it up.

So, I walked past the used copies of the Sleeping Beauty trilogy a few times. I thought about how much I enjoyed Anne Rice's other books (not all of them!!!!), and how I thought she did vampires so much better, with way better writing than anything I've seen since, and I thought, I should check these out (again). I remember being young when I read the first one, and feeling shocked at the things she was writing, but now that I know about her (and life) a little more, I wonder if there's a hidden value in that, if there's something in reading these books beyond the initial, secret thrill. Somebody out there, probably lots of somebodies, has figured it out already, because there are so many smart people in the world, and I'm not necessarily one of them. Still, I think they'll be fun to read. Anyway, the books were cheap. They were practically giving them away.

I'll let you know if I figure it out.

What do you mean, probably?

I was just now helping my co-worker print something (personal), and trying to be careful not to cough or breathe on her, but then I put my hand down on her mouse, and felt something sticky on the left mouse button.

"What is that?" I said.
"What?" she asked.
"There's something sticky on your mouse."
"Oh, it's probably just coke," she said.
"What do you mean, 'probably'?" I thought.

And then I felt that feeling of absolute revulsion that comes over you sometimes, and I went back to my cubicle and practically emersed my hands in hand sanitizer.

She may find an anonymous gift of Lysol disinfectant wipes on her desk later today.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Stairwell A vs. Stairwell B: Who will be the winner? You? Or me? Or something like that.

"In North America tens of people die and tens of thousand people get injured every year from the falls on stairs." From Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety

(I'm sure I could've found a more relevant, and/or dramatically stated, U.S.-centric quote, but whatever. You get the point.) 

The building I work in has two stairwells. Stairwell A is located at the main entrance of the building, and is next to the elevators. Stairwell B is located near the parking lot.

Each floor has 24 steps per stairwell, but Stairwell B divides the 24 steps into 3 sets of 8. It's a circular stairwell, with a small landing at the top of each 8. Stairwell A has is divided in 2, with 2 sets of 12 steps.

I was talking to someone in my office the other day about my trick for walking more: I try to take the stairs as often as possible, and I've even started using the basement level restroom so that I get an extra trip.

I prefer Stairwell B for a couple of reasons: 1) it's closer to my office 2) there are windows in that stairwell 3) I get to go outside for a few feet before reentering our building (our building is built into a hill; the basement level is half stuck in the side of the hill). I like the way the stairs are broken up into chunks of 8. For slower people or if you're carrying something, it seems safer to me to have a landing there. Again, I'm sure I could've found something relevant to this topic that bears out my theory, but somewhere in the back of my grew-up-watching-This-Old-House-and-other-various-construction-related shows, I feel like I've heard it said before by people with knowledge on this topic, that fewer steps in a row is safer stair desig. So without corroborating evidence, I believe in it. Yes, I believe! I am a believer in the concept of breaking up a flight of stairs into more manageable, shorter chunks. Hallelujah, I believe.

Why am I telling you this? Because when I suggested that this person take the stairs (she was complaining about not walking enough and missing the sunshine, two issues that a simple walk down the stairs could fix), she freaked out on me.

Yes, she literally freaked out. I guess she saw someone fall down in Stairwell B (I haven't seen the accident report yet, and yes, those do come through my hands, so I'm not sure what the exact circumstances were. Maybe that person was looking at their cell phone, or their shoe was untied, or they had low blood sugar, or maybe they were pushed!), and she seems to have an unnatural fear now of that happening to her. And THEN she had the audacity to suggest the Stairwell A is safer for exactly the opposite reason I think the other one is safe! (Wait. Did I get that right? Oh, use your own logic and work it out, the point is, SHE'S WRONG.)

Anyway, did I mention that this person, without fail, drives me up the wall several times a day, EVERY DAY? Don't you think that for this reason alone I am justified in my deep and undiluted annoyance with her? I mean, right?


To all my friends advocating peace, love, charity and kindness:

I try.
No really, I do.
Okay, fine: I tried.
For a little while, I did. I tried. But then her she had an idiotic computer question, and another issue, and then she stuck her nose in my business, and then she talked to me like I was her child, and then she had more computer problems that an 8 year old could solve and then...

Okay, fine.
I will try harder to be kind in the face of rampant idiocy.
No, I mean, I will try harder to be kind.
I will be kind.
Starting now, I will be kind.
I will.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Today's playlist

I haven't done this is in awhile, but today required music, lots of it, and at high volume (due to concentration issues, and the loudness of various and sundry conversations in my office. Did I use "sundry" properly?). Here are some highlights, thank you, trusty iPod:
  1. Muzzle of Bees, Wilco
  2. Alabama, Neil Young
  3. Don’t Fade On Me, Tom Petty
  4. Life Wasted, Pearl Jam
  5. Old Enough, The Raconteurs
  6. I Want You, Kings of Leon
  7. Use Me, Love & Rockets 
  8. Gimme the Car, Violent Femmes
  9. Oh! Darling, The Beatles
  10. Breaking Us in Two, Joe Jackson
  11. Personality Crisis, New York Dolls
  12. He'd Send in the Army, Gang of Four
  13. They Don't Know, Tracey Ullman ("Baby!")
  14. I'm Not a Punk, Descendents
  15. I Don't Want to Lose You, The Smithereens
  16. Wah-Wah, George Harrison
  17. All I Want is You, U2
  18. Let Me Lie to You, Afghan Whigs
  19. Bring on the Night, The Police
  20. Burning Down, R.E.M.
  21. Only Lonely, Divinyls
Please to enjoy. Cast aspersions as you may. Possible links to clips at some point in the not-so-distant future. Note that when I say "possible" I mean, when I get a free 45 minutes at home with my laptop, and that might be... never.

Red, itchy, puffy and hot

On Saturday, I got to participate in a really cool photo shoot at City Garage. My friend Justin Davanzo is a supremely talented photographer, and he gave us City Garage people the opportunity to sit with him. For the actors, I think it was a chance to get some creative headshots and professional caliber photographs taken. For me, it was for fun.

I haven't seen the photos yet, but if I like them, I'll post them here, and will probably even redo the design of this blog. Until then, you'll just have to wonder. I'll also post a link to his page later.

It was a fun experience, and involved a professional makeup artist. Since I very rarely wear makeup, and when I do, the quantity is negligible, to sit in front of a professional (not a Sephora employee) was pretty cool. She did a nice job. The photos were mainly black and white, and so she worked her magic for that specific (what? situation? utility?) _________ (fill in correct word here; I'm too lazy to complete this thought this morning). The makeup she used was MAC. I loved the way she did my eyes. She did a great job.

Afterwards, I washed as much of it off as I could, and went about the rest of my day fine. But when I woke up Sunday morning, my face was hot, puffy, red, and itchy. At first I thought it was my cat allergies, but then I figured out that no, I sleep with cats every night and never have this reaction. At around 10:30 a.m. I took a Benadryl, and almost instantly fell asleep for the next two and a half hours.

The rest of the day I still felt itchy and red and puffy, but I hoped today would be better. I can't take Benadryl while I'm working (because sleeping on the job is frowned on) but I did take a Claritin, and just now I emailed my doctor about it. He told me the Benadryl and Claritin should work, but if not, I might need to come in, and they'll give me a steroid. Not sure I want to do that, so I'm hoping the other stuff works. I feel pretty self-conscious about it but Patrick said it didn't look too bad. Then again, he's not the most observant man in the world, either.

So, I head off into the world today, red, puffy, itchy and hot. Only not in a good way.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How did I lose track?

I know I've written here before about growing up and spending a lot of time with my mom's friend Joy. She opened her home to me and my brothers and sister, and a lot of other kids in the neighborhood, but because I was a little younger than everybody else, I spent a lot of time with just her and her son, Guy.

Joy died back when I was in high school, in Montana, where they had moved. I was a bratty teenager and I didn't keep in touch the way I should have. And then she died. After awhile, Guy moved back to Culver City, and we saw him around - working at Target, or Pavilions. I even went to Universal Studios with him and his friend from his old street. When was that? In the early 90s, I think. But then again, I was a bratty 20-something, too, and lost track of him.

I guess you (I) think people are always going to be around. My brother and sister and I were wondering what had happened to Guy, and so Angie did a little Internet sleuthing. There's not much out there: but now we know that he died in December 2009. Almost four years ago. I've known this since Monday, and aside from the text messages back and forth between her and me and my brothers about it, I haven't talked to anybody about it, because I feel like shit.

So if you've been interacting with me in the last couple of days, wondering what my problem was, well. I've had this on my mind.

We don't even know how he died. In 2009, he was only 41.

This is actually somebody I knew, and spent a lot of time with growing up. We went to Dodger Stadium and rode around with his mom and played catch and Atari games and Monopoly. He loved dogs and I thought he was kind of weird, like an older brother to me. I'm sure he considered me a pest and a nuisance. He loved teasing me because I was so terrible at playing catch. He was a "nudge." I don't really know what he was like as a grown up. 

At this point I don't really know what else to say about this. Guy was a friend from my childhood; it was definitely shocking to find out that he was dead. I just thought I'd hear from him again one day. There are all the cliches about telling people how you feel about them because you never know what will happen when that person is out of your sight... I'm not sure that's the note I want to end this on, but it's all I got. If you care about someone, make sure they know it.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Girl! You make the rainclouds disappear!

(I've been listening to Weezer's "Miss Sweeney" for the past few days. I'm kind of falling in love with Miss Sweeney, myself.)

So... a couple of months ago I took a couple of exams. Work-related. One was for a promotion, one was for a demotion. Kind of weird career planning, I admit... but see, but I don't really have those kinds of "gotta get ahead" goals. I'm pretty satisfied with things as they are (or, I was, until my three major projects all went poop on me), EXCEPT for the distance from work to home (correction, not the distance, the time it takes to travel the distance, which is only something like 16 miles). I'm just not ambitious. I like to do what I do for as long as it takes for me to get good at it, and then I like to sit around and savor that feeling of adequacy.

I'm being a little facetious here, but whatever, just because I have a blog, that doesn't entitle you to all my self-analyzing.

Anyway, so I took these two exams. And I felt pretty good about them, because they were kind of easier than I expected them to be. At least, I thought they were. Then my results came, both on Mondays when I wasn't home. Patrick texted me and asked if he could open the envelopes, and I of course said Yes.

He was shocked at how poorly I did. Not because he thinks I'm a genius (or maybe he does, he's just never come right out and said that... but I doubt it), but because I've usually done well on exams in the past. I was more accepting of my results because I kind of had a yeah, whatever attitude about this for awhile now. I think I mentioned that I lack ambition? And my reasons for taking those exams were merely to get on some lists so that I might be eligible for other opportunities - closer to home opportunities.

Anyway, he was sweet about it, and said things like "You were robbed!" and "This is an outrage!"... and then he ruined all that good feeling by saying, "Do you think you got these scores because I didn't nag you about the exam like I used to?"

Again: just because I have a blog doesn't entitle you to know everything, so we'll just leave that story there.

So it's been awhile, and I've avoided telling my co-worker, who took the same exam (the secretary one, the one that would be a demotion for me), and who keeps asking me how I did... until now.

On Thursday of last week, the staff assistant for one of the divisions here at my current department called me, and asked if I was interested in an interview. I turned it down because the job location is the same as I have now. I would be pretty stupid to take a demotion just to incur the same commute; I mean, I may not be very ambitious, but I'm not interested in actually sabotaging my career. This woman and I have worked together on some projects so we know each professionally, but we've never spoken about anything personal. I asked her where the job is located, and after she told me it's in the same location, thanked her and explained to her that what she was offering would be a demotion, and that I was looking for something closer to home. Of course she knew my current job title, and she made a comment to that effect. I said, "I have a small child, and I want to be closer to home." And then she told me her story, which is similar to mine, except she's a single mother. And then she told me she lives about a half mile from my house.

I thought that was pretty cool. It was nice to talk to her. Maybe we'll run into each other one day. The only problem is, I have no idea what she looks like, since all our communication has either been through email or on the telephone.

I told Patrick the story this way: "Hey, my score on that sec exam must not have been too bad because I just got a call!" But then, doing that thing I always do that those of you who are smarter than I am will totally recognize for what it is, I said, "But I bet they only called me because she recognized my name and she wanted to get the scoop."

Anyway, today, just now, mere moments ago, that woman's boss, a Division Manager (big deal) just called me. He said, "I have so-and-so [another Division Manager] on speaker, and while I know you already spoke to my assistant, I just want to confirm that you are truly turning down the position?" I asked him to confirm that the job location was in the same building as I am currently working, and he did.

I thanked him profusely for taking the time to call me himself, I mean, they don't usually do that!, and then, as politely and professionally as I could, I said Thank you, but no.

My co-worker, who would probably love to have that job, because for her it would be a promotion, heard the whole conversation, and was kind of amazed. She said, "Wow!" When I told Patrick, he said, "You're a hot commodity!" (This, dear friends, is what passes for a complimentary statement from my husband.) He also said I must have a good reputation. I laughed about it a bit more with my co-worker, and then I said, "That's doing pretty good things for my confidence level." Seriously, the timing couldn't be better.

What would Weezer say? They'd say, "The sun always shines when you're near!"

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Actual conversation

Me: (______) doesn't know what they're doing!

My boss: [Eyes wide]

Me: I mean, I'm not trying to say they're idiots. But it's like they were given a space ship, and no instruction manual!

My boss: [Laughing]

Me: And not only that, it's like the space ship wasn't even built by earthlings!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My home remodel will not be televised.

Like a lot of people, I grew up watching episode after episode of "This Old House." My dad is good at that stuff, and can pretty much make anything (surely I told you about the replacement power/volume knob he crafted for my old Toyota Celica?), and he can watch shows like that for hours. As it turns out, so can I. I not only know how to pronounce "Trethewey," I know how to spell it. I've learned a few things from TOH, such as valuing traditional design and workmanship; and though I may not be capable of doing that sort of work myself, I do understand that when you see the words "Master Craftsman" in somebody's title, you're getting somebody a little better than the dude hanging out in front of Home Depot.

(Bob Vila was my idea of the perfect man for a few years there, and might explain my attraction to guys with beards.)

It seemed like a natural transition, then, to shows like "Trading Spaces" or "Design on a Dime," right? I mean, I think that's what the geniuses at HGTV were hoping. Except, no.

It took me a little while but eventually I got tired of those shows (everybody else finally did, too, because I don't think either one is on anymore). For one thing, I'm really not interested in having things (other than edible things) in my home that were homemade by anyone other than my two-year old. Or my grandma. The projects that are created on HGTV shows look like somebody had a lot of extra balsa wood, a $50 gift card to Ikea, and a hot glue gun. This teaches me nothing except that a lot of people have really, really bad taste. The guy who paints you a painting with every remodel? Um. Thanks, but no. And I really don't think that every kitchen needs granite countertops or stainless steel appliances. More than lessons about remodeling or design, we learn that everybody thinks they know what it means to have "made it" in life. A big-ass Viking stove or walk-in closets: I have arrived!

Then, it finally dawned on me that these shows all follow the same script. Nothing new ever happens. For awhile I was really enjoying "Love It or List It" but then the same old storyline about how the designer screwed up started really pissing me off. Hey, lady! Get it together! Or the homeowners would be walking around with such a huge case of "I deserve an en suite bathroom even though my budget doesn't really stretch that far in the market I'm shopping." And that feeling of indignation, every time I watched the show, started building up in me. Wait a minute, I thought. THIS HAPPENED LAST TIME! Look, I don't get to watch a lot of TV time anymore. It takes awhile for things to crack my exhausted shell. But now that I'm thinking about it, every show is a bore.

And man, whoever is preparing those homeowner's for their home inspections is totally dropping the ball! How could you not know that the house needs a new roof, or that there's asbestos in the attic? Doesn't HGTV have any liability? Don't these people work with an experienced real estate agent? Doesn't anybody have a clue?

See, that's what makes me mad, because you don't know if they're really stupid, or if they just think I am.

And now I've been reading that most of these shows are faked - that a lot of the work you think is being done by the homeowners is actually being done by professionals, or that the homes you think they're readying for the market are actually... not for sale. I guess what I don't like is that HGTV tries to sell itself as a channel for people interested in "do it yourself" (or used to, before the actual DIY Channel came along), but none of the stuff they actually show is based in actual reality. I hate relationship-based reality shows (you'll never catch me watching the Bachelor), now that feeling is moving over to home improvement shows.

See, if I ever get the opportunity to remodel my home, my feeling is that I want to create a space that works better for us than the tiny 1940s L-shape we purchased 13 years ago. That doesn't necessarily mean more space, but it does mean, better space. Improving existing fixtures and the floors in every room. Making my horrible bathroom a distant memory. What I would love is a second bathroom and a dining room - or a greatroom that can hold a dining area. These are basic desires for a home that now houses three people and two cats, and someday, I hope, a dog. I want our family to be able to be in the same room at the same time, all while holding forks in our hands, and to be at least 10 feet away from the television. I want to work with the design of my home, which I actually love: a flat-roof, open to the yard (almost none of the rooms have windows that look to the street. Well, the bathroom does). I love the idea of modernizing my kitchen without losing the sort of "grandma" feeling it has. It took me years to figure out that I like old things, and color. I'm not thrilled with the cracked tile countertops, but what would the person who chose those in 1940 pick today? I love the windows in the living room, I love the angles of the roofline. But when it's time for us to do this, I hope we don't go into it thinking we know everything about design, because we don't. That's why you hire a designer, and you let that person educate you.

HGTV doesn't educate you. Well, I know what I don't like, so that's something. It just seems like it would be so simple to show a project from start to finish without any shenanigans in the editing room, but I guess not.

I actually think that "Income Property" is an entertaining show, and not just because I have a crush on the host (Patrick loves to mock his exceptionally white teeth, but come on, that guy has a nice body, and his face isn't bad, either). Then again, I couldn't tell you his name if you paid me, so what kind of crush is this, anyway? At least it feels a little more realistic (using the actual real definition, and not the TV definition), and though I do think the designs are very generic, at least they keep clean lines and seem to do a professional job.

I think it's a shame that a lot of their shows are filmed in Canada, not that I have anything against Canadians, but because (especially the real estate shows) you can't get an idea for comparable prices. And Canada doesn't seem real to me, sometimes, which I know is dumb. But then, anyplace with universal health care seems a bit like heaven.

In closing, I'd just like to say, that if I were on an HGTV show, I like to think that I wouldn't be the person who, in shopping for a new home, gets hung up on inconsequential items like the ugly carpeting or lack of granite countertops. I wouldn't get angry at the TV realtor who shows me homes that don't satisfy my need for grandiosity. I'd hope that we made sure the home was below budget, and that we worked it out with a reputable contractor to make the changes we needed.

But what do I know? Maybe an en suite bathroom would solve all my problems. I might be a better person if I had a laundry room in the house instead of the garage.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Perspective? Kindness? Patience? Yes, please

I think I've posted before about my annoyance with my office situation. We've had some new additions to the workplace, and some of them possess that opinionated, loud personality that almost always rubs me the wrong way. Look, I don't care if you know everything, I just don't want to hear about it. Endlessly. At high volume.

Anyway, I've been talking about it to some of my old friends in the Safety Office, and on Thursday, I went on an errand with one of them. His name is Danny.

Danny said something to me that kind of made me think.

He's a nice guy, younger than me, with a new little baby at home. We talk a lot about our kids. He did the "investigation" on me after I fell and after I reported that I was having problems with my finger. He's not the guy who helped me get my new mouse (I know Alex a little better; we sometimes go get lunch together). Both these people, though, are really sweet, easy to talk to, fun guys. And, it turns out that Danny, along with being a new dad and a surfer, is also a born-again Christian.

He and I talked about that a little, and he told me his story while we waited in line. It's nice, actually, to hear someone who is my age (sort of; I don't think he's even 30 yet; I'm a hundred) talk about Christianity in a logical way. Don't get me wrong: he's totally, head first, COMPLETELY in it. Normally when people want to talk to me about Christianity I break out in a spiritual rash. He told me that his only goal in life is to get to know Jesus and the teachings of Christianity. Somehow, though, maybe because of his funny and sweet personality, I was able to not feel the usual sort of complete desire to be somewhere else when he started talking about it. And, he's a great listener. I was complaining about the people in my office (they were particularly obnoxious Thursday morning), and then he told me something that I've actually heard before. He said, I just don't let that stuff bother me. He said, It doesn't matter in the long run, and I just don't care. He said, I probably do things that annoy other people! He said, I just try to be nice to everybody. He said: I have bigger things to think about (this one's not an exact quote).

You know what? Me too. Maybe not the same bigger things, but I'm going to try very hard to be nicer to these people. When I go home, I'm sure they don't think about me, and I don't think about them, but while we're all here in this office, I'm going to try to ignore the things that annoy me and be more patient. It might make me feel better.

You know, I know that when I write these kinds of things, it probably sounds like I'm an idiot. I mean, this seems so simple, and Danny's not the first person to tell me something like this. When I worked at the Rizzoli in Beverly Hills, I had a lot of the same sort of frustration. My friend Bo told me the exact thing. Bo's no Christian, nor is he particularly spiritual: that's not the point. The point is that these guys have some sort of thing inside that allows them to not worry about what other people are doing. I just don't. I'd like to acquire it, though. Is it wisdom? Confidence? Simple patience? I'm going to start by being kind. Maybe I'll be faking it a little at first. I'll just have to grow into it.

Wish me luck.

Monday, March 4, 2013


Sometime in early January of this year, I was sitting at my desk at work. My job involves a lot of sitting. And typing. I was sitting there, working, typing, possibly rocking out to Radiohead on my earphones, when I realized that my hand was hurting me.

My right hand.

I started rubbing it, and felt something strange. At the base of my right hand ring finger, where the finger meets the palm, I felt a bump.

I didn't panic, but I did wonder what it was. So I called Kaiser and made an appointment with my doctor, who couldn't see me until the end of the the month.

I went to see Dr. Reid, and he looked at it, felt my finger, and got me a referral to see an orthopedic hand specialist. He thought maybe it was a cyst but he wasn't sure.

When I went back to work, I started wondering if it was work-related, and put through the paperwork to get that business started. I thought perhaps it was a repetitive movement issue or possibly an ergonomics issue. My friend Claris in the Safety Office came out and checked my space out, and then she and another Safety person, my friend Alex, hooked me up with a new mouse to try. Since we didn't know what was causing the bump, it seemed like it could be possible that something I was doing while using the mouse was the problem.

When I finally saw the ortho, he also felt my finger. He was not as gentle (or cute) as Dr. Reid, and after his 30 second examination, my hand hurt more than ever. He then called for an x-ray.

It turns out that I have a ganglion cyst.

I did a bit of reading, and I'm lucky - some people get these on the other side of their hand, in pretty prominent places. They're not pretty, and they look like they hurt. Mine is pea-sized and not visible, but it does cause some soreness.

And since I've been trying to make an effort to practice my flute more, that's becoming an issue.

I've always had a bit of trouble with my right hand, especially when I'm out of practice. Now is one of those times. Somehow my right hand just doesn't always do what I want it to do, in the way I want it to work. It can't keep up sometimes, and notes get sloppy. The worst thing is when I'm practicing and I get bogged down because I can't play something as fast as I think I should. Or as cleanly. Being clean is a huge thing for me: it's so important. Feeling the rhythm and the beat: I always feel like that, the hardest thing for me sometimes, is the most obvious sign of a good musician. I got a chance one night in the summer to practice for about an hour (rare!!!!), and I was being really obsessive about a certain passage in one of the Muczynski flute duets, and I had the hand position and finger control all totally synched up... but that was months ago.

I remember watching the Winter Olympics figure skating one year and the announces kept referring to a certain move (a lutz) as a "flutz" because the skater made some technical error related to the edge of their blade and the way they take off for the jump. I don't know much about figure skating, and even when watching the slowed down up close video, can't tell if the skater is on the outside edge or what-have-you. However, the word is totally evocative of the way I feel about what happens when the notes aren't clean. It seems to be the worst on things that involve F#, which, coincidentally, involves the right hand ring finger.

On Saturday, I had a little time to play and I spent the time on chromatic scales and the loop pattern. I did a lot of work in the key of G, and F# (fun scale!). I only ended up with about 15-20 minutes to play, but that was fine, because afterwards my hand was sore.

It worries me.

My doctor is recommending surgery. I have an appointment next week with the orthopedic surgeon. I have a lot of questions! It sucks that this is coming up now when I'm trying to get more involved with my flute playing. Our flute choir group is enormous this quarter and there are so many talented flutists. I need to work hard to keep up.

Anyway, it's not a big deal, really, and it could be much worse, so I don't want to make a big deal out of it. Maybe just more practice will help work it out. And some Advil.