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?