Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How freakin' cool is this!?

A Juvenile Bald Eagle in my neighborhood

Unfortunately I didn't see this happening literally right on my corner. A juvenile bald eagle decided to hang out in Bolton Hill for a while. Apparently for about an hour. The photo was taken by a Sun reporter and the article is in the paper today. I hope he/she comes back.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Once again, a sweat fest on the Gazelle. It's good, because I'm already feeling better. That is, even though I'm posting this at my usual early AM hour. When I sleep, I sleep a little better and fall asleep faster. It's a step toward regulating it. I still take melatonin, and tonight I'm aiding it with a watered down Amaretto on the rocks. I haven't had a late night Amaretto in a while, and it tastes so good.

Today, while at the coffee shop, a girl wanted to share my table. Of course, this was fine with me. Usually, it's because someone has a laptop they want to plug in, but she simply said, "I like being by the wall." Funny thing is, I totally got that. The reason why many people visit coffee shops is for a feeling it gives them. For her, that best feeling was attained by the brick wall. I liked that she felt both strongly enough about it and confident enough to ask. I was buried in my laptop, so what do I care? It's what community is about.

Another thought of community occured to me in my neighborhood. I was walking by a rowhouse on my street and saw some nice looking sunglasses sitting outside on someone's stoop. So, I rang the bell. Inside, a dog barked and I heard a woman shushing it as she came to the door. She looked out, saw me and opened the door. I introduced myself as her neighbor and told her why I'd rung. Turns out that the glasses weren't hers, she had left them there in case the original owner came back by looking for them. After stepping off her stoop, I had a striking thought that I was someone people felt safe opening the door to, and how lucky I was because of that. I think this particular neighbor would have opened her door to all walks of life, but many wouldn't. I know that I wouldn't, being in this city. However, all doors were open to me.

One night, while visiting the set of our show in a very very bad neighborhood, I saw some stray kittens on my way back. They were young enough to be "domesticated" from their feral state if caught, and eating a discarded chicken bone. I stopped, got out of my car against all better judgement, and tried to coax them to me. They were feral, and even though they were kittens had already learned not to trust the human race. They ran from me despite my slow approach and gentle speak. Behind me, a couple sitting on the stoop of their battered rowhouse watched me. A strange white woman who was moved enough to try to help two kittens in their blighted neighborhood surrounded by project housing. This was where people were shot, stabbed, beaten. Lines of blood had snaked down the street, shiny under the street lights. Most people have only seen areas like it on the news, but I was standing in the middle of it. Just a block away, the creator of the show had insisted on walking me to my car even with a smattering of production people around. Yet, here I was out of it.

The woman half of the couple said to me, "There are more of them. You should get them all." As they spoke, a gorgeous grey spotted cat slinked around them, wanting to be pet. I walked over to them and saw the woman who either didn't like cats or was allergic, shoo him away. I spoke to the little guy to distract him from bothering her, and he flopped himself on his side and purred on the sidewalk. My car still sat in the middle of the street, but no one was driving through this neighborhood at night so it didn't matter. I told them I was hoping to catch the kittens, take them to the vet and find them homes, but that they were too scared. We spoke a little bit. Chit chat, people whose lives were lightyears away but geographically only blocks. Again, I was deemed a safe person, but something in them sensed I knew they were safe as well. I was in their neighborhood. Not just racing through with doors locked. I stopped, we talked. So, for a moment we were reminded we were a community.

I drove away warmed by the experience and haven't spoken about it until now. I didn't want people telling me how stupid I was for stopping and getting out of my car. I wouldn't do it every day, sure. But that night, it wasn't in the cards to be dangerous. I sensed it wasn't. It was meant to be something else.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Karma has come full circle. In my last post, I said I was getting rid of "stuff" in my apartment and mentioned a drafting desk that I gave away. Just a day later, I read an ad on our neighborhood BBS for some you guessed it, free stuff. So, I looked.

Lately, I've been lamenting over selling my Schwinn spinning cycle, therefore leaving me with no way to cardio exercise in the privacy of my own home. I ended up selling that when I was going through my crash while I still lived in Los Angeles. I advertised it on Craig's List, and ended up selling it to a nice man who was a forensic accountant who at the time was working on the Nicole Kidman/Tom Cruise divorce. And no, the item up for grabs wasn't a Schwinn Spinner. It was the Gazelle Freestyle Elite, better known as the funny looking machine that the Screaming Ponytail Man sells on late night infomercials.

Shut up.

I said... Shut up.

To be honest, I was always intrigued by this machine. I know a bit about fitness, and by the looks of it, it seemed to provide a good cardio workout, incorporating the arms, or "above heart" areas that are very important and most neglected when people undertake cardiovascular exercise. Also, it's low impact. I mean, why rush sore knees, joints, and sagging eyelids and jowls? Can't say I'm in a hurry to gain those attributes.

I called the man, a total sweetheart who was moving to Arizona with his wife, and cajoled my stepfather into helping me retrieve it. All said and done, it's in my apartment and from several uses I can honestly say that the thing kicks ass. I'm not really a person who sweats a lot, or so I thought. A half hour on it and I'm dripping sweat. Even after a shower, I'm still sweating from my last half hour go on it.

I decided to try this out of desperation. My sleepless nights had gotten out of control. I was averaging going to bed at three to four in the morning and on many occasions watched the sun rise. Exercise helps regulate sleep, so I went for it. Plus, it was free.

It also spurred me to rearrange my desk/work alcove, where it fits nicely. Not only that, the arrangement is much more attractive. The machine is lightweight, and really doesn't take up any more space that I wasn't using before. I'd already weighed that option anyway and didn't give a shit. Being prone to depression and sleepless nights, I needed a jumpstart out of that cycle. Plus, I want to get back in shape. Mostly, to feel better and tighten up.

It's kind of funny because for extra money, I used to be a typist for AOL chats and other online chats. I only did one, but my training for it was with a girl who was you guessed it, doing a live chat with Tony Little. Even funnier, she had one of the most southern accents I've ever heard. Remember, I have relatives in Arkansas.

The way online chats work, is an AOL moderator fields the gazillions of questions that they get from users and picks the ones to feed to the typist. That is done via the chatroom, and is marked with symbols that identify it as a moderator question. The typist has the interview subject on the phone or in person, and he/she feeds them the questions and then types the answers. Following me? It's the typist's job to control the interview (meaning to moderate if the guest is talking too fast for them) and accurately type the answers. These were freelance gigs through a company that was a hot internet property before the second internet crash.

So, as anyone could imagine, I was anxious to see how this Southern Belle was going to handle the hyperactive Screaming Ponytail Man. Because she was training me, she made the call on speaker. A man answered who was slow spoken, mellow, and sounded like a stoned surfer dude. We figured it was Tony's assistant.

SOUTHERN BELLE: (looking at me) Is Tony there?

TONY LITTLE: (barely audible) This is Tony.

SOUTHERN BELLE and ME: (silence, looking at each other)

Only once during the conversation did he scream like the Tony Little that we knew. Otherwise, he was slow to answer and as energetic as a tortoise in a marijuana field.

My first chat was with The Monkees for Ticketmaster. I had all the Monkees on the phone, and had to type in their names and answers each time they spoke. It was hard, especially since I had to keep asking who was speaking. They were great though.

But back to my free items.

The other item the man was offering was decorative ceiling tins. They are 12x24 inches, with a repeat pattern. The great thing about tins is that they can easily be cut to any size. Luckily, I have a storage unit in the building where those are at the moment. I'd been wanting ceiling tins to add decorative detail to some of my furniture and other items.

But, I haven't given up my quest to minimalism. Looking at my apartment, that would be hard to guess. However, I threw out two contractor bags worth of junk this weekend. Small steps.

For now, I'll leave the larger steps for my new Gazelle.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

There was nothing on TV tonight so I watched the second half of the Teen Choice awards. I didn't even know they were on and it turned out to be good, harmless have on while you clean fare. It was actually entertaining. The funny thing is, were it not for the Pirates premiere, I wouldn't have known who half the people were. Many of them I interviewed.

The treat of the evening was seeing Johnny Depp look so fucking hot accepting his award. And not only that, he was by far the oldest person there, by far the hottest, and way by far, the most popular. Way to carry it Johnny. He was my crush when I was a teenager when he was on Jump Street. Yes, I know he hated being on the show, but it was sure good for me. How great to see that he's completely making a new generation of teens swoon. When he walked out on that stage I think it shocked the entire auditorium that he was there. The screams were deafening. Thankfully I had the ability to turn them down.

So now let's get to the king of the chavs (lower case on purpose), K-Fed. I watched his performance the same way one looks at a car accident, and that's exactly what it was. K-Fed, and whomever agreed to have you on that show, fuck you, you fucking fuck of fucks. How dare you try to kill my and everyone else's Johnny buzz with that talentless, freeloading, wannabenevergonnabe trailer trash. What the hell were you thinking? You knew we would watch, just to see how bad he was, but you had us with Johnny Depp. We were watching already. K-Fed was so painful to watch. Painful. The screams from the teenage girls were minimal, and those were either polite, ones of horror, or an attempt to try to block out the dancing dung beetle that was assaulting them from the stage. Now that I think of it, I don't think they had audience shots during his performance, for fear of what they would reveal. At one point, he jumped into the audience, and I swear people recoiled. I sure as well would have, then taken a bath in Purell just to be safe.

In other news, the middle of August has me quite bored. I've been doing the job search and avoiding the humidity that has once again visited us. I'm in the process of shedding things, organizing, preparing for anything. I guess I could say I'm compartmentalizing. Just in case of well, anything.

I've been particularly annoyed by the amount of unused "stuff" in my apartment. Too many strings that I still haven't managed to sever. Whether it be things I'm stepping over, unfinished projects, papers, clothing, or things I haven't put away. Products I don't use, whatever. I look at it and think how little of it I actually use in a day. But, I can't seem to shed it where I can see a marked difference in the amount of "stuff" I have. I want my home to be a home, not a place where I store "stuff." There are a lot of nice things in my apartment, but lately I'm wondering how it got to this. Luckily, I've been more willing lately to part with it.

For one, I put my art desk in the building lobby late last night with a note on it that it was free for the taking. Next afternoon, it was gone and a thank you note from the first floor neighbor was in its place, telling me it was exactly what she needed. That felt good. In my apartment, it had become a place to hide more junk. Now, it will be used for the purpose it was meant, she is an art student. I was thrilled it could go to good use.

Hopefully, this motion of offering my things and seeing that people want or can use them will translate into my job search, which is really code for my desire to move to the next chapter of my life. It's a step in the right direction, as I believe that we set the patterns of energy for ourselves. This small gesture will be the first in a few of my offerings. Sometimes it's important to validate that others find value and treasure in what you have.

Friday, August 11, 2006

This is the single only thing that I miss about Kansas. This incredible picture was taken from the cockpit while flying over Kansas by Dave, who had to thread the needle through a break in this behemoth. You haven't experienced thunderstorms until you've been under one of these monster supercell storms in the Midwest. Both terrifying and exhilarating.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One day in my fifth grade class, Mrs. Daniels, our teacher told us that in the afternoon, a guest was going to visit our classroom. Even though I was sedated and groggy from walking to school in the heat, my eyebrows lifted at the news, followed by my head. Classroom guests were always a good thing, as they were a distraction from well, school. Anything that helped the clock tick that much faster toward 2:50PM when the freedom bell rang got a good mark in my book.

Our class had had previous guests, such as cops, firemen, a guest art teacher, and others. The firemen were great. They took us to the gym and while wearing those manly man uniforms, made flamethrowers using a match and several different commercial aerosol products to demonstrate how dangerously flammable the contents were. The largest was a can of spray paint that produced a ball of fire so intense that I felt the warmth on my face sitting several feet away. Of course, none of us were to try this at home. No, that would have to wait until college when art school provided us with all sorts of flammables and combustibles. Not that I'm encouraging this, but you haven't lived until you've painted a table with a rubber cement pattern and then lit it on fire from several feet away using a match and an aerosol can.

But, back to fifth grade and the sink of disappointment that I felt when Mrs. Daniels said that class would continue as usual and the guest wasn't going to interact with us, just observe. We were to think of her as invisible. Mrs. Daniels explained that the guest was studying how kids in the fifth grade act and behave. Knowing us all very well, she quickly followed that with a warning that she expected us to exhibit our usual behavior and not to make a show of ourselves.

At that, my anticipation rose. I wondered if this mysterious guest was from a top secret agency that was really searching for kids who didn't belong in Topeka, KS. Kids like me whose peers consisted of girls who carried combs in their back pockets and noisily chewed grape Bubble Yum. No, she was looking for girls who were expert tree climbers and who could ride a skateboard standing on their hands. And yeah, thanks to an insane sense of balance, strong upper body strength due to swimming and gymnastics training, I really could do that. Perhaps she'd discover something special in me and take me out of this place that I loathed beyond the daily recommended dosage of loathing. Maybe this was my big chance to be whisked away to Jedi Knight school where I'd meet a young Luke Skywalker and discover whole new ways to use the Force. Okay, the last part of that sentence was my adult self kicking in. I just wanted out of Topeka (Tatooine) and to begin my Star Wars adventure.

Besides serving as a pyrotechnics arena, our gym also doubled as a cafeteria with high ceilings and lots of floor space. That day at lunch, I was sitting at the girls' table when an over boiled, dimpled pea landed in the middle of our table. As it rolled around between our trays like an injured pinball, the boys' table chuckled and snickered. As a rule, cafeteria cooked vegetables were not food, they were ammunition, and that meant that someone had just declared war. I dipped into my arsenal and returned fire with a spoon-launched projectile of steamed cauliflower, and honest to God, knocked a bag of chips clean out of a kid's hand. Not to be outdone, Jay, who was also known as "the fat kid," upped my ante with an entire stalk of raw celery, throwing a Hail Mary that could have traced the outline of the St. Louis Arch if he'd been standing at one end. To this day, I've never seen a vegetable with so much hang time that it would have made Air Jordan and Mikhail Baryshnikov hold hands in communal sorrow and bow their heads in shame.

Since I was wedged between two girls and couldn't move, all I could do was helplessly watch as the celery tumbled toward me, end over end. I was so mesmerized that I didn't even block. It smacked me on the side of the neck, bounced off my tray and onto the floor. The boys' table erupted in laughter. The girls looked at me in that oh-I'm-so-above-this-but-I-can't-wait-to-see-what-you're-going-to-do-next way that pre-teen girls do. I couldn't back down now. I reached for the celery, but before I could return fire, a teacher pointed at me, Jay, and the pea shooter, JP "The Gooch" Gooch. Busted, we got up as the other kids did that chastising group, "Ummmmm" which meant they were celebrating that you were in deep shit and they got to watch you wade through it without the benefit of boots.

We three food-warriors put on brave faces and approached. The teacher furrowed her brow and shook her finger at us, saying our juvenile behavior would not be tolerated in the lunch room. After we finished eating, we were sent back to the classroom to sit out lunch recess. On the way back to the classroom, I asked The Gooch.

ME: Aren't we juveniles?

THE GOOCH: (looking toward floor, shrugs)

ME: So that makes our behavior exactly what it should be, right? Why are we in trouble for that?

It was too much to contemplate for The Gooch, and he stuffed his hands in his front pockets. Jay shuffled behind us.

We trudged to our desks where I pulled out a Starburst from my secret stash and unwrapped it. Jay sat on my right, his mouth watering at the sight my contraband. I made a show of opening it slowly, making sure the humidity aided aroma wafted over to him. The Gooch sat on my left, silent. They were total opposites in physical appearance. The Gooch was skinny, angular, and rat-faced. Jay was fat, round, and pug-faced. It was hot, sticky, and the sounds of kids playing outside drifted in through the window, taunting us at what we were missing. I decided to make the best of my purgatory by drawing. After a few minutes, Jay couldn't stand the lack of attention. He started to brag that he'd long distance bitch-smacked me with a piece of produce.

JAY: You know Anne, you owe me a piece of celery.

ME: I tried to give it back but Mrs. Kirk stopped me. Go to her with your complaint.

THE GOOCH: (snicker)

JAY: Like you could have hit me from there.

ME: (hackles rising) Oh, I think I could have. Just ask Van how his chips ended up on the other side of the gym.

JAY: (Unable to deny it, tries a different tactic. Looks at The Gooch.) You know I live in her old house?

THE GOOCH: Yeah.

JAY: I sleep in her room.

ME: My OLD room, so it isn't MY room anymore.

And that was true. After my parents divorced, Jay's family bought our house after my dad moved to another state and my mom, sister and I moved to a nice condominium which actually, I liked a lot better. For one, my bedroom wasn't sublevel. That is a whole other story which I will not go into at the moment.

With just a mother and two girls, the house was too big for us and we didn't need the extra garage space for my dad's boat, car, canoe, fishing equipment and other man stuff. And as my mom would point out time and time again, the yard work. Jay, like me until my dad moved, was an IBM brat. I think his father took over my dad's job when he moved out of town. All of it was too close and personal and annoyed me. It pained me to think that Jay's naked butt sat where mine had when taking baths and that we been naked in the same room. Naked! It felt like an invasion, and it didn't help that Jay was an obnoxious fat boy. It was fifth grade, and the taunts were pretty brutal. "Hey Anne, what do you think about a fat kid being in your room?" "I don't," I’d say, but I did. Sometimes I'd look at Jay in class and visions of him would enter my mind, prancing his fleshy boy self around my room in his birthday suit or sitting on his bed wearing a velvet robe, eating bon bons. Don't ask, it was my fifth grade pre-pubescent mind at work.

To make matters worse, Jay had a crush on me which made me a frequent target for his affections. In fifth grade, that meant teasing. Finally, when that didn't work, he made a point of letting everyone know about his crush during a moment when the teacher was out of the room during activities. He stood up, walked to my desk and asked me to "go" with him in front of the entire class as everyone, including the kid that I had a crush on, egged him on. When I vehemently said no, and I do think I accompanied that refusal with a pound of my fist on my desk, the groans of disappointment from the fifth grade cupids could be heard in the next state. I turned to the rest of the class and yelled, "Why don't you go with him?"

There were no takers.

But back to that hot, sticky sauna they called a classroom. I was outnumbered, being the only girl in there with two boys. They used their advantage skillfully. However, I was no slouch.

THE GOOCH: Do you dream about her?

JAY: (As if) No. I had to take all the stupid girly wallpaper down, too. Now it's a cool room.

ME: Except that you're in it. (To The Gooch) You know how many spiders are in that room? It's in the basement.

JAY: I just smack 'em. (Smacking his desk open palmed) They don't scare me.

Yells, bouncing balls, and laughter from outside recess floated into the room. A cheer from a kickball game erupted. I ached to be outside.

ME: Can't smack 'em when you're sleeping. Bet they crawl under your covers and right up your butt.

THE GOOCH: Gross.

ME: For the spider, it is.

THE GOOCH: (snickering) It probably suffocates.

ME: Yeah, how many do you have to shake out in the morning, Jay?

JAY: Shut up.

ME AND THE GOOCH: (grinning at each other.)

We were all so classy.

Now, I can't remember from here what Jay said to elicit the response from me that he did. Desperate that I'd just won over The Gooch, he relentlessly tried to shift the tide back in his favor. I on the other hand, was satisfied that I'd won and wasn't feeling generous enough to offer Jay a chance to recoup. I turned my attention back to my drawing of an X-Wing fighter. Besides, I'd already asked him once.

ME: Shut up, Jay.

Okay, it was more of a demand, not a request. So when he persisted, I reiterated it.

ME: I said shut up, Jay. Can you just stop talking?

But Jay wouldn't be denied. He pushed, and prodded, and poked, and teased, and taunted. Finally, I had to resort to this.

ME: (yelling) GODDAMNIT JAY, I SAID TO SHUT THE FUCK UP!

EVERYONE: (Stunned silence.)

And that's when I heard a scuff from the back of the room. The Gooch was sitting sideways in his desk, knees pointing toward me, looking at me as wide-eyed as his beady little eyes could manage. Jay was looking toward his desk, motionless. I turned around toward the noise and saw a woman I'd never seen before, looking at me, her cheeks flushed red. As I met her eyes, I realized it was the woman who had come to observe us, the very one who could have been my ticket out of here. I turned around, hiding my abject horror.

Seconds later, the bell rang. Kids hyped up from fresh air and recess play filtered in, ignoring the guest sitting at the back of the room by the empty coat hooks. Under the cover of class activity, The Gooch snuck over to me, snickering in that rat way that he did.

THE GOOCH: You said that right when she walked in!

ME: (knowing)

JAY: Yeah, good going, Anne.

ME: (Head in hands) Shut up, Jay. (I was never going to be a Jedi Knight.)

YODA: (In Anne's head) Much anger in this one. I cannot teach her.

ME: Shut up, Yoda.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Happy Birthday to me.

A shout out to all you Leos out there.
It got in the triple digits in temperature today. The heat index was supposed to be around 110 degrees and a code red alert has been issued for the state. So far, I've been handling the high nineties heat by staying inside and drinking iced drinks. I also take cool showers and stand in front of the fan naked before toweling off. I have AC, but I also have 12 foot ceilings and huge windows.

Oh joy.

A couple days ago, after I mentioned my social life demise, I accepted an invitation to lunch with the Korean girl whom a year ago I was worried about when observing her at Starbucks. We'd been talking a lot since we are both there at the same times, and she asked if I wanted to go to a sushi place. She'd suggested it before, but I was resistant because that's just how I've been here. My head is in Los Angeles. However, she doesn't like it here either for the same reasons that I don't. It was funny to hear the same things come out of her mouth that I've been lamenting about. And, it was fun to have lunch with someone and chat.

During our lunch, the cute guy who works at another coffee shop came in and had lunch as well. I pointed him out to her. He's a total art/music dude who looks like Keanu Reeves with dreadlocks. Dunno, something about him just catches my eye.

I've been unable to sleep again. I know that a lot of it is because of the recent world news that I've been unsuccessful at blocking out. It's not that I worry I'll miss hearing about something. It's that I worry that if I don't keep aware, something catastrophic will happen. Much like when I went to bed September 10th, 2001, and woke up after the towers had fallen the next morning. Why that affected me more than hearing about it live, I don't know. All this news of war feels very much like the days after September 11th. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop and I need to stop it. I have no control over any of this. But knowing that isn't helping me sleep.

My mom and I went to the hospital to see my Amy and Mark who just welcomed their baby boy into the world. He was so tiny and felt so delicate when I held him. I really could have held him all day, so precious, feeling his warm little body in my arms and subtle movements. Also, watching his face make little expressions in his sleep. He was delivered C-section so he didn't have the cone head that many newborns have and is just gorgeous. His name is Turner.

It's supposed to be another day of 100+ temperature tomorrow. Let's hope the electricity holds up.