Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny EELS

Quick! If I say the words "Fashion Island" to you...what comes to mind? A land mass surrounded by water on all sides--where the trees have giant metal-scissor trunks and leaves made of plaid fabric scraps? A television show about a hard-to-reach sweatshop prison run by a tall, tan Eurotrash fella with a midget sidekick that screams about planes? A fraud university in Barbados where bikini-top/pencil skirt bottomed Senators' daughters with undiagnosed dyslexia "earn" a diploma in design by sketching clothes for American Girl Dolls?

I'll stop there; because it is none of those things. Everyone knows Fashion Island* is, in actuality--a paved, outdoor paradise: lined with the best-of-the-best stores, koi ponds, and building obstructed ocean views. And it was here, buddies, that I found myself just the other day. Aimlessly wandering in an empty-wallet stupor through a maze of fancy-fance. Verbally scorning everything I saw, and internally aching to own it all. 

I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning...

Upon arrival, I caught a glimpse of a hidden, little mom and pop cafe. It seemed like a popular place with the locals, and after perusing the menu I realized it had the most unbelievable selection of international delicacies and homemade confection items and was definitely worth a try. I was right! Each bite was more delicious than the last. It was simply to die for. "Isn't this delightful, everyone?!" ("Everyone" was me, my husband and the baby.) Everyone agreed. "We simply must remember this place. Which one of you has a pen?" The baby didn't have one. Neither did my husband, but the sweet waiter did. (he was probably the owner's son. It was that kind of place.) "I simply have to write down the name so we will never forget." Since we had no paper, I used the next best thing. My own skin. We got up to leave, very satisfied with our light, tasty snack. And after taking a moment to position our waistband extenders and bigger size diapers, we were off for a day of shopping-- the baby in her stroller, my husband in his sunglasses, and me with the words Cheesecake Factory scrawled across my forearm. 

After passing a store selling wooden toys that made the baby yawn,  and a boutique full of golf shirts featuring whales where a polo player should be (whales are the new polo player, one might say); we came to an inbred puppy shop that also sold "exotic pets." I peered in the window wondering just what these exotic pets could be. I saw what I assumed to be an iguana, a small shark and an eel. "An eel?? How fancy! And gross." Sometimes the two go hand in hand I guess. "Right, everybody?" The everybodys didn't hear me. They were too busy looking at a couple of cats with leopard spots that were licking each others' butts. Ah see! Fancy AND gross! I had this place pegged.

Speaking of fancy and gross...after we left the puppy mill showroom, we reached the koi pond. This koi pond was a pleasant touch to the shopping experience. It added a zen quality to the otherwise hustley/bustley stress that comes with a big day of magnetic strip swiping. It was nice to see so many people relaxing around the pond, yapping into their cell phones and using three or four chairs to hold their bags. And the fish looked happy and well taken care of--no doubt completely unappreciative that they had such an easy-breezy life as big fish in this pretty little pond. And completely unaware that they were once a mere net away from remaining in a cool Japanese spring with the rest of their fish family, leading a normal, simple and unnoticed existence forever. I crouched down, dangerously close to the (ew!) mossy water. I gazed into the eyes of one all-white coy, and started to say something to it out loud. Something a total dork would say. Something like: "hey there, little buddy," or something like that. But just as my tongue started to form the phrase, a plastic spoon floated by--obscuring my view of the white fish and scaring him away. The spoon was recognizable, and shifted my thoughts immediately. "Oh cool, there's a Pinkberry here."

We continued to walk and look. Never going in anywhere. We passed purses, scarves, shoes, green mannequins, makeup...wait. Back up. GREEN MANNEQUINS?? Good God. Anyway, what was I saying...oh yeah, we passed stuff. It was all unmemorable and made of leather. Until we came to one particular little gem. There, prominently placed in the front window of a knickknack boutique, was a lovely item--on display for all to see. It was a tiny pillow, featuring some stunning needlepoint handiwork that read, "Nothing Tastes as Good as Skinny Feels." All the everyones in attendance stopped dead in our tracks to absorb the glory of the item before us. Even the baby dropped her jaw in amazement. I felt my heavy, cheesecake-stuffed belly gurgle a sound that I'm pretty sure was, "Yep". And my belly was right! What wise, wise advice from such a tiny pillow! I'd like to thank the man who thought to immortalize these words in thread on a tiny, portable pillow! How innovative! This is the perfect item for the girl with a tiny head who has everything; everything, that is, except a tiny pillow where she can rest her tiny head and dream tiny dreams about the tiny portions of things she will never eat. Everyone should have one. Everyone! But alas, not me. Not today. We will have to come back for it another time.  When I have my tiny chainsaw with me.

We meandered for what seemed like hours before I finally got the gumption to enter an establishment. "Let's go in here!" I told everyone. "Look everyone! Look at that couch!" The couch I was referring to was a long leather-buttoned beauty that I peeped in the very back of an oddball furniture store. "This way everyone!" Everyone followed, and we hesitantly made our way through the marble-jackrabbit statue section and past the mirror-ball beanbag aisle. And then -- there was the couch. Oh man! It was so good. SOOO good. Everyone agreed. And so...with complete confidence that someday soon I would own the item and thus needed to know the cost; I tenderly reached for the price tag and looked at the numbers on it. I then tenderly put it down. "I've changed my mind, everyone. The couch is not right for us. For one thing, how would we ever get the chip crumbs out of those button holes?!!" Sure, maybe somewhere on this Island they sell a sucking machine with a tiny couch-button-indent-cleaning attachment; but if we got one of those where would we put it? Our sucking machine cabinet was already overstuffed. Also, the creaky futon with flattened cushion that we currently possess is nice, and frankly I would miss it if we replaced it with something soft. And comfortable. 
The day was winding to an end and the sun was, I assume, going down over the nearby ocean. (We would have been able to see it but Bloomingdale's was in the way.) I gave in to the idea that my money would not be useful at this place. Because the currency of Fashion Island has more zeros on it than mine does. Also, we didn't have a need for any jade-egg necklaces or snakeskin fedoras. 

But never fear! This story doesn't end sadly! We did NOT come away empty-handed, no siree! On the way back to our shiny Buick, I got myself a name brand soft pretzel. Auntie Anne's to be exact. With cheese! 

Y'know to be honest...I can't quite remember what skinny feels like. But that pretzel tasted f%#king good.

* For all you Nor/SoCalies who don't dare venture below Redondo; and for all you So/NorCalies who don't care what happens anywhere that doesn't have a bay nearby; and for all you Nor/NorCalies who live in the woods sustaining yourself only on berries and worshiping magical pixies; and for all you So/SoCalies who could trip over their shoelace and fall into a Tijuana scorpion belt buckle store -- Fashion Island is an outdoor mall in Orange County. And don't feel bad if you haven't been there. It is not as cool as I make it sound in this blog post.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Big Game

Let's do something a bit different today...remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? I made something like that for you here! Fun right?? A little game to spice up your week. You're welcome :)

Whew, I am tired! Yes sir tired, tired, tired. Exhausted. Man, I am just plain beat. Pass me a pillow, I could sleep right here on my keyboard. Oh, I'm sorry did you just ask me why? Well, I didn't really want to go into it, but since you asked. It's because this weekend...

Here is where you choose. Choice A? Or scroll down a bit for Choice B. (Or choose BOTH - you brave, time waster you!)

Choice A
I went on a PAAAAAAARRRRTY BUUUUUSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's right. A bus--but not a bus that goes to a party. A bus that IS one (a party). A party that rolls on wheels. And on those wheels is a chassis holding sixty people with crazy party faces. And in those faces' hands is BEER. Real beer. With liquor in it! And you can drink it while you look out at the Hollywood sign through plexiglass from 15 feet above the road.

The plan was simple: get on the bus in a Ralph's parking lot, stop at three bars in three different yet equally hipster-awesome locations, and then end up back where it all began. (No, not the Garden of Eden. I meant Ralph's again.)

The journey to the first bar took us on a stop-and-go jaunt down the 10 East Fwy. During this time, party-goers overcame their claustrophobia and busaccidentphobia by pouring combinations of handle-bottle liquor and mixers into red cups. Due to the setup of the bar, (because, you see, we were on the top deck of a moving bus. As I mentioned before.) these drink combinations were inevitably "too much" of something and "too little" of something else. So the phobias quickly faded. As did the dry, slip proof floor. The introductions and conversations became a bit more lively as people shouted over freeway wind and traffic noise while tripping and splashing themselves and their drinks into friends-of-a-friend.

After an unknown and who-cares amount of time, the bus pulled into Downtown LA - the home of many and the hangout spot of none. We pulled up to our first stop, a haunted hotel. SPOOKY! After accidentally entering an area designated for another private party (which now that I think about it was most likely a birthday party for ghosts), we charged the bar and ordered more drinks. The place was lots of fun; there was a softly lit pool that we could look at but were not able to touch (because it was for registered guests only), a phantom step-down in the middle of the room on which people kept tripping. And a couple of the guys heard a ghost in the bathroom zipping up his fly. But that was as spooky as it got.

We shuffled back out to the waiting bus. And I think now is a good a time as any to mention that both sides of the bus were plastered with ads featuring David Beckham in his H&M undies. Which got us a lot of attention, let me tell you! It even prompted one funny street gentleman/dirty bum to scream out a slurred, "bend it like Beckham MO FOs!" Funny stuff, dirty gentlebum. Everybody's a comedian.

When we pulled into Culver City for our second stop, we were greeted with angry shouts from a sidewalk table. A snip-snappy, sweater around the neck, Hefeweizen-drinking gent (wearing a shirt from Yale a certain school that I shall not name because I don't want to single out any one institution for breeding half-functioning, mirror-gazing, automatons that eat fifty dollar bills and poop nepotistic job offers) started yelling at our bus! He was calling us..."Trash!" At that point there was may or may not have been an altercation involving my husband and this part-hair-lame-o. And that trust fund-face may or may not have been WAS shaking in his daddy-bought boots as my trash husband defended our right to party on the top deck of a rented, mobile, Beckham ad. Another win for the 99%. And another win for the "PARTY" Party! Am I right?!!

Well after that, the details of the night get knotted up and dipped in a bathtub of dye. There was definitely...a second bar that was cave-dark and had pizza topped with shrimp? There was almost certainly...another ride on the bus involving lap dancing to music that sounded like it was coming out of a speaker from 1967 that had been dipped in water and buried six feet underground? Then there was for sure...more sloppy drink making using the last of the mixers and the last of the liquor resulting in a warm tequila and Dr. Pepper concoction? It was also highly likely...that everyone started stuffing their face with rattlesnake sausages at a place with a German accent mark in the name and a valley girl hostess wearing lederhosen?

Well one thing is absolutely some point some party-goer stole a copper cup from someplace, and the rest of the night the entire group endlessly chanted, "STOLEN CUP, STOLEN CUP, STOLEN CUP!" over and over. At the time that was the funniest thing I had ever heard in my life. It still is.

The bus did in fact make it all the way back to Ralph's. And everyone did survive - defying the Vegas odds that were surely 9 to 1 we would all perish on the excursion. A good "it" was "bent" by all. Even Beckham.

So with heads full of dehydration and the delusion of bliss that goes with a successful night; we packed up, headed home, and went to bed. And we all woke up the next morning ready to trudge through another day, week, month or longer. Hoping the chance for awesomeness would come our way again real soon. 

Choice B

And this year was even more exciting than most because my very favorite NY Giants were up against their bitter rivals The Boston Baked Beans New England Patriots!

So, if you are anything like me, Sunday was time to make your Super Bowl preparations! Time to assemble a 7-layer dip that only has 5 layers because you can never ever remember the last two! (beans, sour cream, guac, salsa, cheese. WTF else is supposed to go in that??) Time to cut the legs off mini chickens, dip them in spicy batter and fry them! And then dip them again? But this time in spicy ranch! Time to pick up the Costco Red Pizza Phone and tell whoever is on the other line to, "start making pizzas and don't stop til I'm asleep!" Time to lie to your friends and tell them their Doritos sketch was good enough to be picked to air. Time to put three dollars toward your office football pool and actually pencil the winning amount into your checkbook balance "just in case." Time to get a football cake--just as a decoration though--because the frosting is grainy, hard-edged sugar that is grody-to-the-max and should never be consumed! And time to put on your old t-shirt with a worn image of Lucy from the Peanuts pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown! You know, the one with nacho stains on the front! And back! Time to drive to your parent's house to watch it 'cuz you are boring and antisocial and can't get comfy on anyone's couch but your old home-sweet-home!

And finally it's time to watch the game. Or the first few minutes at least. Until you need to get up to get yourself more dip. Then when you get back, the commercials have started. (Beckham! we meet again.) And you get in a discussion with your mom about whether "ads these days are stupid" and "no one is clever anymore." And just like me you probably say; "Aw Mom. Geez. Can't you just sit back and watch without judging?" But you are secretly thinking how dumb the ads are too. Then you leave the room to feed your baby. And answer an email. When you get back there is another pizza that has to go in the oven and plates to clear. Then you doze off for a bit and wake up to your dad saying he doesn't care who wins but he just wants it to be a close game therefore he will switch who he roots for with each new score. Then there is a debate amongst everyone in the room as to whether or not Madonna is "putting on a good show." And you, like me, probably say that there is no way it can be considered a "good show" if she is not "actually singing." End of story.

And then you make yourself a bloody mary and start to drink it, and may doze off again. The next thing you know it is the fourth quarter and the game is close. VERY close. Immediately you are nervous. All of a sudden the Giants prevailing is the most important thing that has ever been on the line in the history of man. You feel your stomach tighten and your toes tickle. You close your eyes. You can't watch.

Then, a thought crosses your mind. The same thought that crosses your mind at the end of every sport you spectate. The same thing you always think in every ninth inning, at every finish line, every last second on the clock, every stick of the landing, every reach for the pool-side, every overtime goalie miss: I will not care about this when I wake up tomorrow. Tomorrow, the whole process starts over again. And whether or not the Giants win; I will still wake up an office manager who only remembers 5 layers of that dip, I will still be feeding the baby and arguing with my mom, I will still use the Red Pizza Phone at Costco and I will still---

And then the Giants win. Celebrate. Gatorade their coach. Put on crisp caps and t-shirts. Hold their trophy high. And party late into the night, filling their bellies with rattlesnake sausage and rubbing elbows with David Beckham. Then with heads full of dehydration and the delusion of bliss that goes with a successful night; they will pack up, head home, and go to bed. And they'll all wake up the next morning ready to trudge through another day, week, month or longer. Hoping the chance for awesomeness will come their way again real soon.

 Epilogue (for the young kids)
You are too young to remember such things, but just as the Choose Your Own Adventure series of my youth did, I decided to end both choices with the exact same paragraph. Because, you see, whoever wrote those books was a sneaky, pessimistic, fatalist - who no doubt tried to subliminally teach kids that there was no way out of their predestined kismet no matter which adventure they chose. The end was always the same. (Unless you chose a REALLY stupid option, in which case you were killed by Bigfoot on the very next page. But please, I NEVER fell for that. And you wouldn't have either.)

Epilogue 2
OLIVES!!! Olives is the 6th layer. I just remembered.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Yossarian Lives

Psst! Hi. Remember me? I used to write this blog. Semi-regularly. And semi-regularly, some of you would read it. Semi-semi-regularly you might have even chuckled. Maybe you only read it that one time you were Googling places to buy cans of cheese and you accidentally chose this result and thought "huh interesting" and found yourself lost, as you do semi-regularly, on a page where you had no intention of spending hours and later you wake up out of a sound sleep gasping, "oh my, I never did find that cheese can store, did I?!"

But that was a long time ago. Back when Osama Bin Laden was still alive and so was Amy Winehouse. When the last NASA space shuttle was still awaiting its final journey and people were still purchasing the Twilight novels at Borders. Back when Carmageddon was just a twinkle in a Cal Trans supervisor's eye. And Mark Anthony and Jennifer Lopez were still the happiest Latino couple in Hollywood (besides Eva Longoria and Penelope Cruz's teenage brother. Que scandaloso!!) Back when Steve Jobs was still wearing black turtlenecks instead of white ones** -- and way back when no one was occupying Wall Street except d-bags in stripey collared shirts with receding hairlines and black American Express cards.

What was I talking about? Oh yeah, my blog. So then one day...POOF! Gone (the blog). Apologies all around. There really are no valid excuses for the laziness of not writing, but I will dish out an invalid one:

I had a baby, yo! ...a BABY.

And this "baby having" really sucked all the thinking juice out of my brain folds. It also kept me from going places and doing things that might be semi-interesting to blog readers. Surprisingly. Because one would think: Motherhood. Meh! No big deal. So my body is a disaster, so what?! So I get a little tired now and then, who cares?! So I can't drink dirty martinis until I puke whole olives, ride a motorcycle helmet-less at 130 mph, or do bumps of cocaine off a golden spoon-necklace until 6 in the morning ever again for a while?!! NO. BIG. DEAL.

Well, in actuality it was a big deal. The biggest deal. A deal soooo big, it has taken me seven months to shake the P.T.S.D. of the whole thing. And it was, to be frank, quite graphic and unspeakably painful.

Aw...never fear, my buddies! This is not about to become a "mommy blog." No way! Never. First of all mommy blogs are so full of pompous "I know everything there is to know and so does my little one" talk that they make me want to sew my eyelids shut. And second, my baby is the cutest and smartest in the universe and I wouldn't want to rub that in people's faces week after week.

So now that I have been back at work for awhile and the baby is barely even a baby at all anymore, I feel the need to give you a hint of how my life went the past few months. Just to catch you up. And instead of telling you what I DID do, I will give you a rundown of what I did NOT do. That could be fun. Here goes...

I didn't read.
Not one book. Not even half a book. And I intended to read a lot. In the ninth month of my pregnancy, I drew out an extensive plan of all the things I would get done while I was home with my quietly napping child. In this plan, I listed several books I planned to read. It was a noble list. There was even some re-reading on there. I would enjoy a Vonnegut or two, maybe tackle a Faulkner, revisit the good old standby Catch 22, and finally finish that book I never could finish years ago which still haunts me to this day, Delillo's Underworld. Anyway, let me cut to the chase before you label me a literary name-dropper: I didn't even get through the first 50 pages of the first Vonnegut. Instead I stared, lobotomized, at the pictures in US Weekly and tried to decide if Hillary Duff or Padma Lakshmi wore it better. (Padma did, btw.)

I didn't write.
Not one word. This is probably an obvious one since there has been no blog of mine to speak of for almost a year. But boy oh boy did I INTEND to. I thought by now I would have at least one screenplay, one short story, and the beginning of a novel -- all tucked away in my "Finished Writing" floor hatch. I also intended to write a whopping knee-slapper of a comedy pilot. It would be all about the krayzee poop capades that a husband and wife go through when dealing with a new baby. Man, that woulda been a funny show. But unfortunately before I could get it out on paper, the government (in cahoots with network execs) bugged my thoughts...AGAIN. And now my ideas have become a Christina Applegate sitcom in a coveted Thursday night time slot. That baby show idea was something NO ONE could have ever thought of except me. Idea number 10,000 stolen. Oh well. That's what I get for never doing anything about anything.

I didn't "not watch TV."
Not one day went by without it. Even though I promised myself I wouldn't expose my baby to such trashy background noise and would instead have soft classical music playing constantly in the background--I watched it all the time. "But you don't have cable," you say? "The comically large big screen TV hanging on your wall has been broken ever since you hung it," you remind me? Well let me introduce you to a little something I like to call Netflix. Yep. Through the magic of complicated electrical cables fitting into computer holes, I was able to get any and all episodes of Law & Order SVU at a moment's notice. All day. All THIRTEEN, unending, eyeball bursting seasons of it. And yes, I watched them all. So yes, I can answer any question you have about it. For example: yes, the law is the courtroom. And the order is the forcing confessions out of an unending list of falsely accused suspects and then finding the real culprit was the first guy you met but for some reason never suspected. And yes, Adam Beach IS a bad actor and only gets roles because he is Native American/Canadian. And for the last time, yes, Mariska's hair grows at an alarmingly slow rate and as soon as it touches her shoulders it chops itself boy-short again and YES, SHE SHOULD GROW IT LONG!

I didn't lose my mind.
I didn't. I swear.

Anyway. I'm back! So as long as my baby doesn't do anything to distract me (like move into another, more challenging stage) you can expect regular blogs from me until the end of time. Or the semi-end of time at least.

 **Too soon?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Old Man and the See

On a drive earlier this week in my white Buick Regal, blasting NPR with my dog Ziggy Stardust at my side--I had a sudden revelation.

I am an old man.

I turned to Ziggy and asked him if this was true, and he said what I assumed to be "yep". I shrugged and took a bite of my tuna fish sandwich. Then started thinking about all the chores I needed to do on the weekend, and how gosh darn short the days seemed to be getting.

"Dagnabbit!" I said to Ziggy. "Things are getting to me lately. Y'know what I mean?" He didn't. Or at least he pretended not to, and started chewing his own foot. But I kept right on thinking about this and that. And this and that really started to get me steamed.

I thought about how the recycling truck had forgotten to come down our street this week and now we will have to smush down the contents of the already-full barrel in order to fit next week's containers. Ugh, how inconvenient!! I remembered how I had forgotten to shut off the heater for the past THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW. And now because of that, my sinuses were dry. I thought about how much I hated the phrase "Poet Laureate" and that I had already seen it used several times this month. I thought about how much I despise Charlie Sheen; but how I despise his live show audience members even more! I thought: if I were a courageous French girl wearing red lipstick, I would lock the doors of the theater during one of his shows and set fire to the whole building thus ridding the world of a generation of idiots and changing the course of history for the better (Inglorious Basterds 2).

Thoughts kept coming. I muttered to myself about the annoying amount of animated films in theaters these days. And how gasoline used to be the same price whether you bought it with cash or credit card. I thought about how facebook used to be JOKES GALORE; and now it's just a place to fund-raise for yourself, dodge spam disguised as fun quizzes, and promote one's own self-indulgent blog (!!!!!!!!!)

And there was much, much more to grit my teeth at, but I was having a tough time concentrating due to the racket squawking from my speakers. "Groan," I grumbled to Ziggy, "I am going to tear my own ears off and make a soup out of them if I hear another yapping word!" (I was referring to the vocal tone of the newscasters on NPR.) Lately, they had really been getting on my last nerve. All I want to hear is the news! Can't a person get informed anymore without having to tolerate whistling "S"s and over-enunciated vowels? Not to mention, each and every broadcaster sounds like she/he was just in the middle of swallowing something--when suddenly a red "On Air" sign lit up above them and they immediately began spewing the news. Pretending, unsuccessfully, not to have a full mouth. While we on the receiving end are forced to listen to world issues filtered through an unswallowed ball of mashed potatoes or candy corn. Or BOTH.**

(**A favorite concoction of NPR announcers, this treat is often available in the studio vending machines and is known around the Public Radio sector as A Mashie Home Cornpanion.)

In a hasty rage I changed the station and landed on a Neil Young song. Lucky find. And on the first try! I sipped my ginger ale and sang at the top of my lungs about looking for a heart of gold as I pulled up to a red stoplight. Which took at least four minutes to change! When the light finally did turn green, I immediately honked at the truck in front of me. MOVE!! Why does no one pay attention? Probably texting. Sheesh.

I was about to honk again when I noticed the traffic was stopped for a good reason: a blind man in his late 70's with a red-tipped cane was crossing the street.

He took lots of small steps. So many. I watched every one. In fact, all the non-dead cells in my brain were then focused on him. How long had he been blind? Was he lost or did he cross this street every day? Did he have someone to take care of him? Is he mad that he can't hear an approaching Prius? Where was he going? Does he wonder why people make such a big deal about HD? Is he so lonely that it hurts in his bones?

Many moments later he was across. But I continued to watch him small-step down the sidewalk as Neil Young's voice in the background sang, "...and I'm gettin' old".

And suddenly I was in tears. Crying, crying, crying. Down my face, off my chin, onto my chest. Even the honk of the car behind me could not shock me into stopping. Ziggy was worried and decided to lean right against my shoulder for a little while. "I was wrong, Ziggy!" I sobbed. I'm not old! I have lots of life to live and I really have nothing to complain about! What is wrong with me??! My life is great. For one thing, I can SEE!!! I should wake up thankful everyday for that alone!

Proud of my new "half-full glass" outlook on life; I wiped my wet cheeks, turned off the radio and rolled down my window. Who needs music?! For goodness sake, I can just listen to the sound of the world around me.

I pulled into my neighborhood and down my street, sporting a huge smile. I love where I live! And golly gee I am happy to be returning home! And what a great day! Another miraculous sun sets on another splendid horizon!

Once home, Ziggy and I hopped out of the car with springs in our steps and wags in our tails and skipped up the driveway. On our way by the mailbox I stopped to peek inside.

"Why look Ziggy, I got a letter! How exciting. I wonder who it's fro--"  I didn't need to finish the question. It only takes me a split second to read a return address. I'm no dummy.

"The Internal Revenue Service?" Ziggy cocked his head to the side and I opened the letter and scanned the info.

"Well, well, well Ziggy, isn't this just the most interesting news? It seems I am being audited. And in addition to that, I owe $3,000 dollars in back taxes. My...goodness."

My half-full glass immediately tipped over. Spilled. Rolled off the table. And shattered on the floor.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Prank You Notes

Boy oh boy, today is gonna be a great day! Why? Because, silly heads, it is my most favorite day of the year! The one day that it is completely okay to lie at someone's face and then when they believe the lie you just told, you get to laugh at them! Hard. For a long time. Then you get to call them an idiot. And embarrass them! Plus, you can just keep laughing and never feel bad about it because it is a world-endorsed holiday. It is "a day which tolerates practical jokes and general foolishness," says Wikipedia. And as always, Wikipedia is right. For today is...Secretary's Day!

 April Fools! (It's April Fools' Day.)

And boy oh boy, have I got some good general foolishness to spread around this year.

First thing on the agenda -- I am going to give out little boxes that look like "presents" to all the individuals I come in contact with. And when each individual asks me what's inside, I will say, "Well I'll tell you one thing, it is NOT a bomb. I swear on the grave of the recently-deceased-turtle-at-my-office this is not a bomb. It is a present tied with a pretty bow. Go ahead, open it." And when they do, it explodes and black bomb dust gets on their face and they run off crying to Papa Smurf because IT WAS A BOMB!!!! HAAAHAHAAAAAAA! Funny stuff. Funny. Funny.

Another "good one" I plan on pulling off is writing a false status update on the ol' FB. Yeah, you heard me. Something COMPLETELY UNTRUE. Hehehe. For example, I might write, "Oh man, just ate chili cheese fries from Del Taco." (Psst...I DIDN'T!!) Or I might post something like, "Hey does anyone want an Ikea dresser? It's practically new. But you have to find a way to come and pick it up cuz I don't have a truck or anything." (Shhh, hehehe...totally wrong! My husband HAS A TRUCK!! Sneaky prank-faced move!) Or I could even pull off the ultimate stunt: changing my profile picture to a photo of me with a crazy blue wig on. And underneath is the caption: "New Haircut." (HA! Not really my hair!!!)

Some other ideas I have bouncing around are:

1)  Sending a mass email to everyone I know, asking for money to start a new theater company! That's funny because I once did that for reals--but this time it's fake. Get it?

2)  Telling everyone in the office that the office turtle is dead. But he's just sleeping!
      R.I.P. Short Stack, the "office turtle". March 28, 2011

3)  Giving my vegetarian friend a hamburger and saying it's made of soy meat. Then after they eat it all I tell them the truth :) hi-LARIOUS.

4)  Asking someone for money to ride the bus, and then using that bus money to buy methamphetamine. (Can't take all the credit for that one. Got the idea from some pretty funny junkies that hang around a quaint/ramshackle/bulletproof glass-encased liquor store in San Pedro (aka Charles Bukowskitown).

Those are some good funnies, huh? You think I am the ultimate prankster right now, don't you? Well I am pretty good that's for sure. But don't order me an Oscar-esque, plastic trophy engraved "Best Supporting Pranktor" just yet. I have also been on the receiving end of many a masterful April Fool practical joke in my day. And I have to give it to these crafty fellows. They got me good!

The best example I can give of a real April Fools' master at work was a certain ADHD-ravaged, wizard of a boy from my second grade class. This young genius stacked 5 lunch pails on top of each other against a brick wall and told me to stand on them. He told me to look over the wall and check if an ice cream truck was there. Well I, being a bit of a genius myself, quickly obliged. Ice cream!!! So close to school??!! This I gotta see. But once atop the tin tower, I immediately noticed that there was (of course) no ice cream truck to be seen. And before I could let the news be known to the other kids, I felt an ADHD foot-filled shoe kick me in the butt. Both the lunch pails and I toppled into a heap, crying. (yes the lunch pails were crying too!) As I hobbled away to the nurse's office on what I would soon discover to be a cracked tailbone, I heard an ADHD-powered tongue scream, "April Fools'!!!". Touché, young man. Touché.

Fortunately for the joy of humans everywhere, jokes like these are not reserved for adolescent boys under the age of twelve. Nope. There are lots of people who keep right on pranking each and every April 1st--long after their thirteenth birthday and well into their Lexus buying, pumpkin ravioli eating, Dave n Busters happy-hour drinking, MMA watching, art-opening attending, Netflix streaming, youtube sketch comedy making, bar method attending, serious adult days. Why, personal examples from the past five years alone are hard to count.

There was the time one of my customers at a restaurant wrote $1,000,000 into the tip line of their credit card receipt and then crossed it out and noted "April Fools!" But then didn't write an amended, real amount. That was pretty darn funny. And the instance where someone handed me a beer they had spit in. The time a friend called pretending to be a commercial agent that wanted to sign me. Oh, and the time my coworkers hid my wallet so that I thought it was stolen.

And even as recently as this morning, this VERY April Fools' Day, I was pranked by a fake billboard on the side of the highway promoting a phony show that supposedly stars Toni Collette with a gap in her teeth, wearing funny hats and doing different silly voices--pretending to have super stereotypical, mulit-personalities. HA! (But I'm no dummy. I caught on to this joke right away. They couldn't fool me! No one would watch such a stupid show. NO ONE. Nice try, "Showtime".)

Wikipedia states that April Fools' Day has been around since Chaucer's era, or perhaps before. That's a long time! Longer than Secretary's Administrative Professionals Day even! This is VERY good news for me and all the rest of you April Fools' Day enthusiasts. Cuz it sure as heck seems like this day is here to stay. And thank goodness! Because boy oh boy, nothing is funnier than a day full of blatant lying -- sending our thin layer of trust in others and that deep-down need to believe that people are essentially good and well-meaning into a complete tailspin. HHEEEEEHHHEEEEHAHAAAHAAAA!!! I'm LOLing so hard I'm afraid I'll puke. I wish this day would never end!***   

***April Fools!! (This day should be punched in the face. Worst day of the year.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dr. Strangecandy or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Steal the...candy.

When I traveled around Europe with my brother Mike (shout out--hey Mike!) at the age of 21, I kept a strict and detailed diary. As I documented each day sentence by sentence, I became increasingly sure that the diary and all its Euro-discovery-fueled wisdom would someday be a best seller. Or in the least it would captivate my immediate family as I, nightly, read aloud gripping passages involving flower covered bridges. And peasants selling geese and rosaries in front of Gothic cathedrals.

So, a couple weeks after my return to the states I opened said diary to re-read my own masterpiece before it went onto publication. Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit less gripping than I first thought. SO less gripping, in fact, that I tore it to pieces. And then distributed those pieces into different trash cans throughout my neighborhood. It was that bad. BAD. The fundamental problem was this: the whole journal was about things I had eaten on the trip. Every page!

The story about the flower-covered bridge? That was actually about how good Stracciatella Gelato tasted while crossing it. The rosary and goose seller? That was a story about how hard it was to push by her on my way to the cheese-on-a-stick cart. And every tale involving a Gothic cathedral dedicated one or two sentences to cathedral design--and nine paragraphs to the design of the pastry counter in the cafe next door.

My point, dear friends, is that I often accidentally find myself writing about food. And today is no exception.

Chapter One: CANDY (then)
I used to love candy more than anything ever. And my addiction to it could only be compared to that of a crack addict. (My grand, generalizing, stereotypical assumptions here about crack addicts have little to do with fact and mostly to do with events depicted in Bad Lieutenant.) I use this crack comparison because--like crack--I needed it all the time and it was the reason behind almost all of my early criminal activity. Examples? But of course! Here you are:

1) Early on in my existence, my father was a So-And-So at the company that owned 7-11. Therefore little ol' me was privy to some top secret corporate information that most of the public knew nothing about: THE SECRET CANDY ROOM AT CORPORATE HEADQUARTERS! Yes. Candy Room. Inside contained nothing but a candy display shelf, exactly like the ones in 7-11. And full of all the same candy. Each time we went to visit my dad at his office, he would take us in and tell us to pick out one treat. I always picked out one Whatchamacalit. And I also always picked out two Peanut Butter Twix and stuffed them into my pockets and picked out one handful of Fireballs and jammed them into my Little Twin Star purse. Every time! And I got away with it. Which led me to believe I always could.

2) Years and stuff happened, blah, blah, blah. No specifics available.

3) At some point after my senior year of high school I told myself that I needed to lose weight. But being the anti-conventionalist I was and still am, I decided that sensible run-of-the-mill dieting was not for me. And I devised my own fool-proof way to shed pounds. The regimen was simple: Do not exceed 10 grams of fat a day. That was the only rule. It was quite a straightforward diet, yet it went through many trial and error periods until finally emerging as something I now call the "Sour Gummy Worms and Diet Coke diet".

(You see, sour gummy worms have very little fat in them. And Diet Coke has none. So weight loss and health would obviously go hand-in-hand with this combo. Hand. In. Hand.) 

Unfortunately, this pricey diet coincided with a "low funds" period in my life. And, as many of you know all too well, Trolli Brite Crawlers can run you upwards of $2.35 per bag. Multiply that by 4 bags a day and you'd better have yourself a $40K a year job in order to keep your stomach full. Well, I didn't have a $40K job. I worked at Bobby McGee's Restaurant as a Scarlett O'Hara-esque, costumed hostess named "Southern Comfort". And believe me when I tell you -- the gig did not pay $40K.

Thus began my mid 90's reign of shoplifting terror unleashed upon all North Orange County Rite Aids. I am not proud of this. And I reserve the right to withhold further details of the spree. But as your heads are undoubtedly picturing right now -- it wasn't pretty. (And neither was my skin. Turns out-- an all sugar, all chemical diet really incites the acne. Words of warning from the ex-acne-surrounded mouth of someone who knows.)

Chapter Two -- The Final Chapter: CANDY (now)
Here (finally!) is where this blog post becomes relevant to today.

Currently, I am in charge of the candy dish at work. This is one of my many important daily duties, if not the most important. Sounds like a sweet deal, huh? (Intentional Pun! Zing!) Well, don't jump to conclusions because this task has turned out to be somewhat of a candy-ruiner for me. The pure routine of it alone has proven to be a turn off. Whatever image my mind used to conjure up for "candy" has completely morphed into looking like "office supplies". And then there are the drooling faces that begin to lurk about as the fill-time draws near..

When my predecessor was training me for the job, I wondered why she emphasized the importance of only filling the dish once a day. "ONLY FILL THIS DISH ONCE A DAY," she said with wild eyes that had seen too much, "ONCE. That's it. Just once. No matter how much they beg." I shrugged and said, "sure". Assuming --as I usually like to assume-- that people are crazy and say crazy things that I should just ignore.

But she was oh so right! Each day when the second hand tick-tocks its way around and slaps 1:30pm, "candy time" arrives. Methodically I open the locked cabinet (to which I am the only key holder) and pull out a mixed bag of fun size stupid candy and fill up the ugly dish. And undoubtedly the last Musketeer is still hitting the bowl when the first sneaky taker pops out from around the corner. Then another. Another. And another.

"Oooh! Wow, looks like I happened by at just the right time!"
 "Oh Candy!"
"I really shouldn't, but since it's Tuesday..."
"Hey! You have Snickers today. My favorite, guess I have to!"
"My diet starts tomorrow. LOL!"
"I really shouldn't, but since it's Wednesday..."

And so on. All day. Until there is nothing left but blue jolly ranchers that have adhered themselves to the bottom due to melting, and of course the poisonous barf-inducing Banana Laffy Taffys that are notoriously left behind.***

All of this would be so much more tolerable if these folks would just own up to the fact that they eat lots of candy. If only they would walk up to the dish proudly and proclaim, "now is the time I eat my candy. I do this everyday. And I am not ashamed of it!" I would have so much more respect for that.

Unfortunately that is not the way things are. No one owns up to their addiction. And instead of feeling like a professional respected pharmacist, dutifully distributing to people the antidote for a bad day that they so deserve-- I am a cloaked crack dealer waiting for my pathetic weirdos to emerge from the shadows mumbling/begging for a taste with fistfuls of wadded up dollars.

And then I think back to my youth and note that I should keep my judgments to myself. Because I too was once just like them: a shame-filled criminal and repeat offender just trying to get my fix.

***Little known fact -- When investigating the disappearance of the Roanoke colonists, British and Spanish investigators found nothing but some stones with writing depicting the troubles of the colonists, and a pile of Banana Laffy Taffys with a sign on top saying "Gross".

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Default of Me

A few years back I did something pretty dumb. Something I am kicking myself for right about now. And since you are all my dear friends, I guess I can share with you the tale of my stupidity.

One partly-cloudy day in September, I walked into Fort Knox with an empty cardboard box and asked to borrow $98,000. The clerk (I believe his name was Clerk Knox CPA) said, "Why yes of course! Right this way, young miss."

I followed him down a gold brick hallway and into a room containing one of the world's largest money machines. 

"This makes money," Clerk Knox said. "Take some!"

I held my empty cardboard box up to a part of the machine labeled "cardboard box goes here". Immediately, fresh money started shooting out. 

"Too much!" I shouted. "Turn off this machine, sirs! I have all I can carry." 

After signing my name on a line that came at the end of some words, I attended a brief wine and cheese reception held in my honor. I didn't stay long, and quickly found myself giving goodbyes all around to the good, hard working execs of our country's best financial institutions. Then I skipped out into the now non-cloudy September air. 

"What a great day," I thought as I made my way to the bridge at the edge of town. "Yup, great day. Well, that's enough blabber about the day--there's the bridge!!" 

I ran as fast as a person with a lid-less box of money can run. And reached the bridge without spilling one bill.

Once there, I looked over the side. 

"Perfect!" I screamed to no one. "Watch what I'm gonna do next!" I also said that to no one.  

I immediately turned over the box and dumped all the money into the murky waters below. Smiling, I watched as two fish took two big bites out of the faces of two Benjamins Franklin. And I waved/blew kisses to the rest of the pieces as they floated away to oblivion. 

Satisfied, I headed home to get ready for bed. Thinking the whole time, "What a great decision I made! Borrowing money and throwing it away was the greatest accomplishment of my life. I am going to sleep better than I ever have. And tomorrow I will wake up successful and rich!"

"Hmm...what should I do first?! I know! I will do a play in the center of town. And everyone will applaud me. I'll pose for autographed photo ops and sign each one with: Much Love, From A Rich and Successful Person. And then, after eating fancy chicken pot pies until I puke (that's what rich people do), I will swing by good ol' Fort Knox and pay them back every penny I borrowed plus interest! Gooood Night!!"

Okay so you probably just now called me a liar. Because, as you may have guessed with your smart brains...that story wasn't true (except for the part about doing a play). But I promise I had no malicious purpose for misleading you, my good buddies.  It was merely a tricky way of getting you to read a cautionary tale. Which you otherwise might not have read because most cautionary tales are BORING (example: Young Goodman Brown). But some--well-placed in front of the right eyes at the right time--can be quite gripping and effective (example: Gremlins).

There IS a timely reason for my caution-y tale telling. Today, after years of hiding in plain sight from scary people who hold a bloody note over my head...I started to repay my graduate school student loans. Loans that I will be repaying for the rest of my life.

And it's not the realization that I will be paying them forever that has caused my utter terror and delirium today. It is the fact that somehow, I spent almost $100,000 without even noticing. It's like I fell asleep and while I slept, the loans that once looked so appealing and harmless have now multiplied, hatched and are running crazy in my town movie theater on Christmas and they will never be contained!

The worst part is I have nothing to show for it save a dwindling elitist attitude that I am somehow awesome because I paid lots of money to learn. Money that would have been SO much better spent if I had carried it around in a box and thrown it into some murky waters. At least then I would have been able to touch it and see it for a little while before it was gone. At least then, when people would pass me on the street they would whisper, "There she is!! The girl that threw a box of money in the river! And I think she also won a chicken pot pie eating contest!"  Then I would at least be known for accomplishing something.

But as it stands, the only existing accomplishment that came from the money I owe is my diploma. Which right now lies locked in a damp, university basement filing cabinet. Awaiting the $25 processing/shipping fee I was never quite able to afford.