Saturday, December 26, 2009

I'll admit it, that this year I didn't feel the Christmas spirit, at all. It had nothing to do with me being laid off from my job, oddly enough. It just sneaked up on me too fast and I wasn't into it. I thankfully decided not to fly anywhere, which due to my lay off, turned out to be a good decision. It was money saved. Also, the weather wasn't cooperating with air travel, and I can't say that I'm sorry I missed that debacle. I didn't take out my Christmas decorations, nor play Christmas music. I did bake cookies for an office Holiday party, my first and last with the company, which were a big hit. I do make great cookies. I just have a knack with baking. Cooking however, I can't stand. I made chocolate chip meringue cookies, which I knew would be pretty unique. Every time I make them, people say they've never tried them before. And, I make good ones. Just enough chewy and crunchy, plenty of chocolate chips and barely bronzed. However, unlike my cookies, the office party was pretty dull. Lots of people whom I didn't know too well because everyone works from home a lot there. It was actually a little weird, walking in and having people wonder who you are, and doing the same to them.

I got great gifts this year, thank you family and friends! And, took the downtime that only this time of year presents and worked on some home projects. And, on my writing projects. The downtime I mean is the knowledge that everyone else is taking a break too, so there's no pressure in my case to worry about following up on job leads or being asked to complete any work. I'm still technically employed until the 31st.

I saw Avatar with a friend last week, and was surprised to see someone that I knew as the Head of Visual Effects on the movie, among other things. I'd been introduced to him through the Italian mother network. My stepmother Marie's mother knew his mother, and they conspired to get me a meeting with him over ten years ago. I was working at CareerPath, (now Careerbuilder) and we were doing profiles of people who had careers in the entertainment industry to parallel the release of the first Star Wars prequel. At that time, he had won an Oscar for Titanic for Visual Effects, and it was very interesting to interview him at his office at Digital Domain. A few years later, I met him at Sony, just after he'd completed the first Harry Potter, to talk to him about career opportunities, and he was gracious both times. I lost the interview that I did with him, but it was mostly question an answer format. He's now on his own, as the corporate side of the effects industry has become a who can bid the lowest game, and is still going gangbusters. Good for him. His name is Rob Legato. Google him. After seeing his name on the Avatar credits I sent him a congrats email. That movie was just stunning. I can't imagine the sleep he's having to make up now.

I hope all of you had wonderful holidays. Just because I wasn't into them this year doesn't mean that I don't hope everyone did have a magical moment. When you get them, it's awesome. Treasure them, as they are the best gifts. Sometimes they're fleeting, like smells of firewood or cinnamon mixed with pine, or the way the light reflects off the snow or windows. The quiet of Christmas Eve when even big cities experience a hushed moment. The unwrapping of gifts, lighting of candles, the thrill of finding the perfect gift for someone on your list. Nights so crisp and clear that the stars brightly twinkle as if winking at you from their celestial home, to name just a few. And, baking the perfect chocolate chip meringue cookies.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ho, Ho.... Ho shit!

Ho, Ho.... Ho shit!


This masterpiece was created by my childhood friend Tony Donaldson, who tracked me down through Facebook, via another common friend. He's now a successful professional photographer, (take a look at his work... it's awesome) who lives in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter. I'll tell that incredible "small world" story another time, but just had to post this picture that he took of the Christmas decoration on his house. Is there any surprise that I was childhood friends with someone who would create this hilarious work of sheer diabolical brilliance?

No word yet on if anyone has stopped to help.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It looks like I have an update to my "Thankful" post.

"Thankful...

For having a great job, having had a great job, and still having my health, my family and most recently...my most awesome car."

And so on... the rest stays the same.

I had just been telling a neighbor that no one is guaranteed a job, and that I live my life with the knowledge that I could get the call the next day that says, sorry, we're laying you off.

I got that call the very next day. In fact, 120 people in my company got that call. And I'm one of the lucky ones. They're keeping me until December 31st. I'm one of about ten that they kept until then, the rest were laid off immediately. My boss was also laid off, and like me is one of the ten who are staying until New Year's Eve.

I'm okay about it, and not freaked out at all. I'm optimistic, seeing it as an opportunity for something new. And, know that for six months I had a great job and did great work there that will certainly pad my portfolio. I guess I'm so mellow about it because I've been through this so many times that I'm almost a professional at being downsized. When companies cut, creative is usually the first to go. I've been laid off, companies have crumbled under my feet, been bought, contract jobs that I've had have ended suddenly due to cost cuts or a regime change, etc. It's par for the course. This was a full-time job and I'll get severance pay, unused vacation and all the bells and whistles they give you to help your "transition."

And, what I told my neighbor was the absolute truth. I lived every day as if I would get that call, and was thankful that I had a job like that which not only was an incredible experience and awesome opportunity, it got me through six months of a bad economy. I took nothing for granted, and I won't in my next job either. Anyone who thinks they're indispensable, is well, kidding themselves. And, I've seen plenty of "indispensable" people, some who were very famous even, be forced out, laid off or fired. Others have dropped dead of heart attacks at young ages. And I mean that literally.

And that's also where perspective comes in. I've got it in spades. Jobs come and go. Your passion, integrity, sense of self and talent are yours to keep, no matter what. And, it's the people in your life, your health and freedom that are what's important.

Even when you have to put the acquisition of the designer purse on hold.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful...

For having a great job, my health, my family and most recently...my most awesome car.

For all the wonderful souls whom I've met in my life, that accept me despite all my quirks, faux pas, marching out of time to my own drummer and bad hair days.

For the perspective to know what's important to fight for, and what's trivial radio static.

For having an incredible support system of friends and family.

For my ability to recognize toxic people, and more important for the wisdom to be able to walk away with no need for the last word, to right wrongs, fix misconceptions, and yet wish no ill will despite having endured their despicable behavior.

For my beautiful, wonderful cats and the love and laughs that they bring to me. As well as to my friends, family, neighbors and to passersby who say "Look!" and "Awww," when they see them looking out my window. I'm happy they provide a smile for you.

For having a fiercely independent spirit that pushes me forward when walking against the wind.

For my awesome friends, part of my California family, who had me over to Thanksgiving dinner this evening.

For my blog readers who send me the most incredible emails and share their own lives with me, make me laugh, think and remember how much we all have in common.

For the generous souls who donated to help Oliver, some, who have left this world since then.

For old friends who found me and got in touch through the wonders of the Internet.

For my creativity, sense of humor, ability to wonder and the gift to express them.

And, for my own hard-earned peace and belief in myself that steadies my course when doubt makes me waver.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

For all of you asking how Oliver is doing...

What a lush!

Any questions?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday night, Shannon and I went to Nolan's, our neighborhood Irish pub, to welcome in the weekend. Nolan's is a great watering hole, as we know the owners, have gotten to know some of the patrons and always enjoy the eclectic group of people that come in there, both local and not. A lot of the people from the studios come in, and you'll be talking with someone and learn they're the stunt coordinator for "Flash Point," or that a provocatively-dressed cougar prowling the joint with her friends is Kristin Dunst's mother. Other times, you're talking to a traveling businessman who's just passing through and enjoying being a party to the local Los Angeles flavor. That is, in between times when his gaze softens and focuses far off, and you wonder if he's shifted to missing home and his family. It's a place where for the most part, people let their guards down and don't have to wear the front of their professions. Industry big shots mingle with coffee baristas, musicians laugh it up with accountants, writers like me and photographers like Shannon have used complete strangers to play jokes on one another. The latest, Shannon told a woman to approach me and gush over my writing. She did a damn good job, because I was totally confused and convinced that she had read something I wrote somewhere. I only find out about most people's work because it comes up after we've been talking a while. There's normally a really good vibe and people don't come there to puff out their chests like peacocks, looking for trouble.

Last night wasn't one of those nights.

It was around midnight and I had just started sipping my second lemon drop, the drink I order on Friday nights because the bartender who works that night makes them particularly well. I'd just put P.I.L.'s "Rise" on the juke, and while talking to Shannon, saw a flurry movement over his left shoulder near the kitchen bar. It took me a couple seconds to realize that it was a scuffle, and that the two men grappling weren't joking. "Oh my God, a fight!" I said to Shannon, who turned to see it just as all hell broke loose. Fists flew, beer was thrown, people ran toward the melee, and shouted. Then, it was two on one.

Shannon had run toward them, thinking that it was Dennis, one of the owners being attacked and went over to help. Dennis is a big guy who can handle his own, but he was recently injured when taking down a drug-addled man who had entered the bar during the day a few months back and began throwing things. His injuries consisted of a torn pectoral muscle and required surgery from which he's still recovering.

Because I'd seen it start, I knew that it wasn't Dennis and screamed his name along with the bartenders. Nolan's is two floors, and Dennis had gone up to the second floor. Hearing us, he ran down and broke it up. Several men grabbed the aggressor, who had crazy eyes brimming with rage, and blocked him as he tried to go at the guy again. The group shoved him backwards through the hallway and out the back door as a woman screamed at him all the way out, repeatedly calling him an asshole just for good measure.

And yeah, he was an asshole. In an act of supreme maturity and impulse control, he decided to throw wadded up napkins at a woman he didn't know. Another man, a regular, asked him what he was doing, and was answered with a flying fist. He fought him off until the douche nozzle's friend decided to help his compensating-for-his-micro-penis buddy, making it two on one. Brave souls, those two jerk-offs. I'm sure they're still feeling the echoes of pride from that night.

For about fifteen minutes after, I was nervous that someone was going to return with a gun. I can't help it. My mind just goes there. I looked at where I was in the room and scoped out places to hide were the person to return and start firing off shots. With this economy, people are high strung. And, this person already had proven himself to be a whack. Shannon and a beer-soaked man we were talking to weren't worried. But, I don't put craziness past anyone these days, especially when I'd heard what caused the fight. I'd already found my spot, a tiny place between the bar and jukebox, right behind where I was sitting.

Just in case.

But, like I said, that is rare there. I've seen my share of bar and nightclub fights, having worked in them as a coat check girl while a college student in New York. They are all usually started by some self-esteem challenged asshole who feels they have something to prove.

On Saturday night, I was driving home through Hollywood after dinner and a movie with my friend Jan, and inadvertently drove into a huge club fight that had continued outside. There were over a 100 people running, screaming, shouting at each other and breathing heavy. Several cop cars had just arrived, parked akimbo on the street, sidewalk and anywhere else they could find a spot. I slowly inched forward with traffic through the chaos, when a police woman flashed her light at me and told me to turn right.

"It's not safe here ma'am, turn right."

I did as I was told, leaving the warring humanity behind me. As I drove through the cool night, I rolled down the windows and turned up the heat. I edged up the knob so I could just hear the music above the hiss of the road, breathed in deeply and exhaled.

Monday, November 09, 2009

So much has happened in the past few weeks that instead of writing several small posts like I told myself I would, I've let my detailing of events on this blog back up like documents in a print cue for a printer that's run out of paper. So, I'm sitting in Starbucks, wrapped in a shawl that my sister brought me back from Kuwait City, and I'm going to try to do the best that I can.

In short, I learned I was having a harder time than I thought in dealing with the death of a friend, bought a new car, had a wonderful reunion dinner with old roommates and great friends, am getting "friended" like mad from my grade school friends on Facebook, (you diligent little things you!), my mom came to visit, I'm still enjoying the job, especially this last weekend when we put on an awesome show with The Crystal Method. Oh yes we did.

That about sum it up?

First, for those of you who asked about the replacement, excuse me... there is no replacement for my beloved Honda Civic, but the car that I now drive, I bought a 2008 Volvo C30 T5S. It's silver, sleek, fast and apparently pretty unique. I get complimented on it more than I ever imagined, followed with being told that it's the first one like it they've ever seen. Even now, when I walked into Starbucks, one of the workers whom I'm friendly with told me she loved my Volvo and mentioned seeing it in Twilight. Oh yeah, forgot to mention that.

Yes, I drive Edward Cullen's (the vampire played by Robert Pattinson) Volvo from Twilight.

Shut up.

Anyway, aside from being the vampire's car of choice, it is a unique looking car and for lack of a better word, I just fucking love it. I've caught many people eyeing it as I drive by or see them from inside Starbucks checking it out in the parking lot. Who knew? I knew that I loved it, but it's always fun when a car you drive gets a reaction like that. Especially in a town that's pretty jaded when it comes to cars. And, I'm over the moon about the incredible deal I got on it. Unheard of. It was diligence, patience, research, great timing and luck that I got this car for the price that I did. And, having just gone through the Volvo site and seeing the cost of the features and packages it has, I really scored. It had been barely driven, was a trade-in at a Toyota dealer, less than a year old from purchase and is in perfect condition. Every time that I have to drive somewhere, I look forward to driving it because it's a fun, fast sporty car with awesome handling. Here are some pics I took of it.

My new car!

My new car!

The week before last, my mom came to visit and we had a great time. We ate out, talked, enjoyed the Halloween decor and costumes in Toluca Lake and then in bawdy and um...ballsy West Hollywood, had a drink with Shannon at Nolan's and just hung out. My mom had before tagged Shannon as having an "outlaw" persona, so he was kind enough to wear an L.A. Penitentiary orange shirt when we went out. One of the things she said she noticed was that I seemed to be in a good "place." She said she could hear it in my voice, and see it in my demeanor and being, if that makes sense. And yes, I guess I am. It's something I've as well noticed over the last few months, during moments of reflection, that my baseline feels good. And, I have a fine-tuned barometer for what's important and what isn't. This is not to say that I don't have my down moments. I'm not immune to feeling the pull of depression on some days. However, I've noticed that the arms that try to yank me toward the abyss have lost a lot of their strength, and I'm able to pull free with far less effort.

On Saturday, our group hosted a show in Los Angeles. First, at Bedrock Studios in Echo Park we partnered with College Battle of the Bands, then later, we put on a "secret show" at Echoplex with The Crystal Method. In checking their site, I see that they have a mention about it there. It was a great event on both fronts, and during the TCM show, I had one of those proud moments of being a part of it, much like the one I had while working on "The Wire." I felt it as Shannon and I danced with the crowd that moved as if commanded to do so by the wicked beats of "Divided By Night," the song from TCM's new CD which they opened with. LA Weekly wrote an article about the event with lots of pics, too.

If any of you want to be apprised of other secret shows in other cities as well as LA, email me directly and I'll send you the links to our Twitter and Facebook pages. Our last event was in Brooklyn with Morningwood. I just love them too, and it was great. Fun to meet all these people and see them in action, and the people at Bedrock Studios were absolutely wonderful, accommodating and helpful. That place is just awesome, and exactly what a creative conglomerate should be. The owners were extremely cool and had previously created the studios that had given the grunge scene a launching pad in Seattle. However, they were humble, sweet, funny and didn't flaunt it. They were musicians themselves who just loved music and those who create it. My boss does a fantastic job of creating these events, as they are his brainchild. We even had the coveted Kogi truck there. Yum Yum.

Okay, it's getting late. Or, early depending how you look at it. I'll keep trying for more frequent and short, controlled bursts when it comes to blogging. I can dream, can't I?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dear Honda Civic,

I'll miss you. You were there for me when I needed a lift, both physically and metaphorically. You came into my life when it had hit a teeth-jarring pothole and trusted me to be in the driver's seat. I remember the first day I had you, glad I wasn't taking the bus anymore in a city not conducive to public transportation. It had taken me two hours and two bus transfers to get to the dealership. The last four blocks of that I'd listened to a delusional woman tell me how Stephen Spielberg had raped her. I practically ran out at my stop, and there you were waiting for me, ready to offer me solitude with a 360 degree view.

At the time you picked me up, everything was falling apart around me. You made sure that I continued to go forward and kept my eyes on the road. You drove me and my two cats from Los Angeles to Baltimore, crossing mountains, vast deserts, endless flat terrain, grassy rolling hills and wooded forests that birthed us into into giant canyons. You rolled with me into quiet towns and gasped with me at the F-15 fighter that flew across the interstate at almost eye-level just hundreds feet in front of us. You idled stealthily to keep the cats cool in the desert heat because I just had to go see that huge-ass meteor crater in Arizona. Only you and I knew that I'd left one door unlocked because I had only one key. You drove 2850 miles of interstate and held your own against 18-wheelers and Smokey the Bear. Once in Baltimore, you withstood your very first winter like you were born for it, including the record-breaking snowfall that buried you completely and left you stranded for a week. You endured torrential rains, drove like a ship through flood water up to your mirrors and weathered a hurricane that pushed a tree onto you. You merely brushed yourself off and kept on going. It was an example for me on the days where I felt I just couldn't start.

You welcomed in so many souls whom I'm glad that I met and still know. You protected me from those who should stay out. You kept me warm and dry, cooled me off, offered me solace in times where I needed it.

And once I was ready, after my stepdad made sure you were up to the job, you drove me and my cats back to Los Angeles, except this time we had another passenger. My dad, whom we picked up in Asheville. You got to know him, and he you. You let him drive and me sleep, and vice versa and were always ready to go when we were. You got us there in one piece, which included a fierce windstorm in the desert. Again, you were an example of when the going gets tough, the tough keep going, tumbleweeds be damned.

You were a fantastic, wonderful little car. You spent some of the most difficult, poignant times of my life with me and carried me right through to the much better place that I am now.

It was hard for me to say goodbye today. But, I know you understand. And, that you knew I was ready.

Thanks for the memories, my 1997 Honda Civic. I'll never, ever forget you.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

My trip to New York was great. I had a lot of time to myself as well as bonded with coworkers, most of whom I've never met. I'd luckily grown a brain before the trip and purchased a small suitcase with wheels. I can't imagine how I would have fared without it. Again, at a bargain from Marshall's. I was able to prop my laptop up on the suitcase and wind the strap around for a perfect double-decker fit. Instant mobility, even in New York, even on the subway and even when navigating through hoards of people and tables on the new plaza that stretches down Broadway near Times Square. I stopped at a Starbucks where a man got up from his seat to open the door for me and the barista brought my drink to me from behind the counter instead of yelling it out. Yes, this is still New York City that I'm talking about. I was treated incredibly nicely by the people that I ran into. Almost like a guest. But the great part about it was that I'd lived there and knew my way around, even though a lot of the functionality of things had changed. And, the price of the subway.

I stayed at the Brooklyn Bridge Marriott in Brooklyn, near where our event was happening. I had never spent a lot of time in Brooklyn and really liked it. Wider streets, quieter during the day and wonderful old buildings. Lofts, shiny high rises and renovations are abound, with streets closed off for blocks to accommodate the construction. I think if I ever were to move back to New York, I'd highly consider Brooklyn. There's an intimacy and sense that the place exhales once in a while, unlike Manhattan.

Our event went really well, with Morningwood rocking the house after a successful day of showing press the incredible possibilities of our software. I'd never seen it in action and was pretty blown away myself. The night before the event, we'd all eaten at Grimaldi's, which Zagat rated the best pizza in New York. It was damn good. There was a half hour wait for a table outside the door, which had a strict policy that if your whole party isn't there when you reach the front, you don't get a table until they get there. And, they don't sell by the slice. The place was boisterous and packed, without a hint of pretension despite its fame.

Me in my hotel room - Brooklyn Bridge MarriottAfter eating New York's best pizza, I went back to my room and took this. I was ready for bed and anxious for what the next day held for us. It was our first of these events and therefore I had no idea what to expect. However, I slept fine that night. More pics from the trip are on my Flickr account.

The day after the event, it was time to go home, which included a series of train rides back to JFK. In the subway station in Brooklyn, an Orthodox Jewish man stood and rocked slightly as he prayed, holding a book of prayers written in Hebrew. It was too small to be a Torah, so I'm not sure what the book was. We all boarded the train and he found a space by the door where he continued to rock. The train rolled forward, swaying back and forth as it gained momentum, and suddenly we were all rocking with him, as if swept up in the fervor of his devotion.

On the plane, finally tired of the two big Russian body builders talking directly behind me in Russian and laughing way too loudly after way too many beers, I turned around and shushed them to the looks of gratitude from the other passengers. I just got tired of them. They were huge, but I didn't care. They seemed harmless and appeared to be decent guys, but were just way too loud.

I got home to hot, hot weather but was glad to be home. Los Angeles is such a sharp contrast to New York, and it was weird, as it was to get into New York. That night, I went to Starbucks and looked down at my shoes that had walked on two coasts in one day and marveled at the concept.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Um. Yeah.

I'm trying to balance life, work, facebook, tweeting, my gym sessions, sleep...more sleep, and this blog. I've been doing a terrible job on the blog part. Yeah, I know. I'll figure something out, but in the meantime you'll just have to bear with me.

Yesterday, I had a nightmare and woke up screaming. Hadn't had one of those in a while. I've got a business trip to NYC coming up and have a feeling that's what it was about. It was a horrible dream, that I'd left my apartment for a long time and forgotten to arrange to feed the cats. Upon finding Atticus lifeless, I screamed in anguish. I heard the tail end of the scream when my eyes opened. Still in shock and not quite back in reality, it took about ten seconds to realize it was just a dream, and that a very alive Atticus was beside me, looking at me in that annoyed way that cats have perfected to an exact science. I'd apparently woken him up as well. I know the dream represented me fearing that I was forgetting something and the repercussions of that. It's been a long time since I've traveled for business, and I'm nervous about it. Even though, the trip is for an event we're having at a nightclub with a band that I love performing there. The cool factor is wholly up there, but it's the first of them for our group and therefore the jitters are abound. I think everything will go awesomely, and I'm sure once I'm checked into the hotel I'll be fine and ready to roll. I also have an awesome fantastic boss with a great sense of humor.

We've had some weirdness at the apartment building. One of the tenants has a drinking problem and has several times disrupted the building with his loud drunken and stoned antics, one of which includes jumping off the second floor or roof into the pool. It's incredibly unsafe even when you're sober. There is no room for error and the pool has a pretty shallow deep end. So much that there's no diving board. Anyway, a week or so after Labor Day, we all got a stern letter from the landlord saying that we'd be evicted if we jumped off anything but the side of the pool. I'm guessing this is because of that Labor Day, when the person in question who had been warned before about it, did it again. When I left that day, he was blitzed beyond belief and was once again being the court jester for some of the tenants. I left, not wanting to be subjected to it. Way too loud, and to be honest, depressing as hell to see a man in his 40's acting that way.

A little history, ever since I've lived here, everyone in the building has been extremely accommodating to his inconsiderate, loud and disruptive antics. Though he's responsible for himself and his behavior, I think our tolerance has actually been harmful to him. It's allowed him not to get better. He doesn't remember half the things he does when he's ultra blitzed and isn't aware that people are laughing at him and not with him. Or, laughing uncomfortably because they have no idea what else to do. One time, on a weekday when I was working at home, he and his friend demolished a wooden chair inside his apartment and threw the pieces into the pool and onto the pool area. Both of them were so drunk, they almost fell over the railing as they hurled the pieces down and each fell on their backs outside his apartment. It was just another of their drunken days of stupor together. I was working, watching two grown men act like fools in front of his open door where bad rock music blasted from his apartment. Not cool. At. All. I had one of those, "What if this is as good as it gets?" moments. And, there are countless more stories just like that one. He has a lot of work to do on himself and a long journey to undertake once he mans up enough to face himself in the mirror. However, he has to be the one that decides to embark on it.

I was watching the season premiere of America's Next Top Model, well, because it was on. And, I was glad that I caught it, because I saw my hair stylist on it! I was fun to see him standing there. They were there for the makeover session, getting new haircuts and makeup. Which reminds me of a couple months ago when I'd just gotten my hair cut and highlighted, and spent not a small amount of money on it. I had just returned from the salon and was sitting outside when the above mentioned neighbor stumbled out of his apartment stoned and drunk and poured water on my head. Luckily, I'm fast and he only got me a little, but I was pissed and yelled at him that I'd just gotten my hair done. Who the fuck DOES that?

Anyway...

I haven't posted about the sad event that I spoke of a couple posts ago. I will. But, it's hard to sit and write about it. It's responsible for part of my lag on the blog, where I just haven't felt like writing about anything.

On a happier note, I got to hear a free David Matthews concert thanks to the Ellen Show, which films right across from my apartment. Mid morning, I heard loud music and thought it was someone playing their car radio super loud. Finally tired of it, I left my apartment and walked to the street, ready to yell at them and ask them if their mommy hadn't given them enough attention when they were younger. I got outside... no car, but still the music. I realized something was going on at the studios and went back inside. A couple hours later, I heard much better music and a cheering crowd, and ventured out again. It was then that I saw the waving arms of people in stands just over the Warner Bros. barrier. And, recognized the music. Earlier had just been the sound check. I walked to get a better view where several people were standing and listening, climbed the Bank of America gate for a better view and watched them play. People were watching from open windows in several of the surrounding Warner buildings. The band was facing out toward the street, so the sound was just awesome. Totally surreal and cool. That night, I learned my next door neighbor, the one who had been my partner in crime in this little adventure, had gone to the show with her friend and been there in the crowd. She got in the second row and said it was awesome. You can watch them perform songs from that concert here and performing "Crash" here.

And no, I didn't ask the Dave Matthew's Band if their mommy didn't give them enough attention when they were younger. I stood outside under the palm trees, my legs wrapped around a metal bar for balance and listened to their music on a gorgeous day, glad I'd moved to Los Angeles because of the possibility of experiencing moments just like this.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I took these photos just down the street from my apartment of the gigantic plume of smoke from the La Canada "Station" fire. The photos don't do it justice on depicting just how massive it was. Looked like a volcano exploding. The fire tripled in size in one day and as of today isn't contained at all. And, for the last few days it's been over 100 degrees outside. Today it looks overcast, but it's the smoke, not clouds which hang over the city. Click on the photos to view larger versions.

Smoke from the La Canada fire

La Canada Fire August, 2009

La Canada Fire August, 2009

I returned at night and shot these from the same vantage point. The glow is from the fire, and while I was standing there, actual flames were visible coming over the mountain. I did the best I could to capture it with my little camera and no tripod.

Same vantage point at night - Fire glow

Flames creep over the mountain

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wow, what a week. A sad week, and one that I will write about later. I can't right now. It's three in the morning on a Sunday night and I must get to bed. The cats are all around me, looking at me as if I'm nuts to be up... and I am. Even more so that I just got home. However, it was a beautiful day in so many ways.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sorry for the lag...again.

There's just so much social media and so little time. Actually, I've been neglecting my other accounts as well, including Flickr, Twitter and Facebook, until today when I posted about this unbelievable story. Some things just bring you out of internet hibernation.

Now that's a birthday candle! I had a great birthday. Shannon took me to Katana on Sunset, and great food, drink and laughs were had. He even surprised me with a birthday sparkler! After that, we went to Bar Marmont and of course ended up at Nolan's. After I changed out of my birthday dress, of course. I'd eaten so much I felt like I was busting out of it. I had a workout session the next day and really felt my over indulgence. It was good to get the body moving though. Speaking of that, the training is going really well. I don't feel like I'm going to die so soon into the workout, which is a great improvement. Now, I feel like I'm going to die about half way through. I must say, that doing these private workouts is one of the best decisions that I've made. It really makes all the difference in the effectiveness of my workouts as well as how hard I push myself. I like my trainer, who is from Japan and also teaches martial arts at another place. He's encouraged me to take a class, which I just might. The art that he teaches is called Seido. A word I've heard, but I know nothing of the art, myself.

It's now August 15th, Saturday, and I'm at the beginning of my furlough. This means I won't be working next week, but I don't get pay either. It's okay, as I was expecting it and have budgeted accordingly. If you live in the Asheville, NC area, that thud you just heard was my dad fainting in disbelief at that last statement. Don't worry, he'll be fine. Actually, I've been doing well with my budget, living beneath my means. Aside from doing things that I feel necessary, like the personal training as a way to stay healthy and the desperately needed replacement wardrobe, I'm keeping extra expenses minimal. I've been finding killer deals at Marshall's, as like I've said before, I'm Queen of the Bargain. In fact, the girl at Marshall's even marveled at my finds when she was ringing me up. And that's saying something.

I had a little scare with Oliver last night, as he'd been throwing up clear liquid for two days. I was worried that he could be getting dehydrated, so I called the emergency vet Friday night when I noticed him do it three times in the last half hour, and they told me to bring him in. It was about midnight, and they did a series of tests on him. I told them about his prior history, as they are the same place that I took him to for his previous emergency caused by his dimbulb former owner. I was taking no chances. While I waited, I noticed a woman with a solemn expression walk out of the area where the examination rooms are. She looked tomboyish and tough as nails but with an underlying sweetness. A few minutes later, she disappeared back into the examination room area. Soon after that, I saw the vet carrying a pretty orange and white cat in a towel toward the direction that she had gone. After Oliver was examined, I walked back to the waiting room to wait for him to be x-rayed and get his blood tested, and passed another room where the woman and her partner, who had that same tough but sweet quality were seated by the examination table, huddled over the orange and white cat that was lying between them in the towel. They were silent, their faces stricken and heartbroken as they gently stroked its head and face. About twenty minutes later, both women emerged and silently walked out, their shoulders slumped, arms listless and faces puffy from tears. I shut my eyes slowly as I ached for them, their pain so evident and raw.

The vet called me back in the room to view Oliver's x-rays, during which I asked if those two women had just had to do what all pet owners dread and fear. He confirmed that they indeed just had their cat, who was suffering from severe heart and lung problems, put to sleep. The vet told me that Oliver didn't have a blockage and were going to treat him for constipation. I walked back to the waiting room and passed the room where I'd seen the women and their cat. Inside, I saw the cat lying on the table, motionless. When I got back into the waiting room, I lost it. I cried for their loss, how helpless they must have felt, the awful decision they had to make and the thought of them going home to a house full of reminders, food bowls, toys, a litter box, and, at the sight of their beloved cat lying there lifeless. In the midst of my sorrow, a patron from one of the nearby nightclubs stopped in to ask me if I and my pet was okay. I was very touched, and explained to him that I'd just witnessed something very sad. He was a young guy with his girlfriend who had seen a woman sitting alone wiping her tears and decided to check in on me. The emergency vet is in an area flanked by several nightclubs, so there is heavy foot traffic on the weekends. And, because it's a well-lit storefront, it's a fishbowl.

Luckily for me, Oliver seemed to be okay. They gave him an enema because he was constipated and after he well...you know, they gave him to me and I took him home. They told me to bring him back if he continued to throw up. He was a champ through all of it. And again, that hospital was compassionate and thorough. I was especially touched that they let those two women take all the time they needed to say goodbye.

In bed that night, I said a prayer for them and their beloved beautiful cat.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I signed up for personal training at the gym and today finished my fourth session. These are extra on top of the membership, as they have a personal training subsidiary that works out of the gym with actual certified personal trainers. I decided to do it because the only thing that you have in this world is your health. Once that fails, or you don't take care of it, nothing else matters. I'm not going to become a fitness nut or overdo it. This isn't about getting ripped. That's gross anyway. I'm sorry ladies, but it is and as I've said before, makes you look ten years older and angry. This is about doing what's right for my body and getting stronger. Increasing bone and muscle strength, endurance, energy and the coveted better sleep that exercise brings. And yes, of course I'd like to tone up and keep things from going south. But, I have realistic expectations.

I decided to go the personal trainer route because I knew that if I didn't have someone to be accountable to, I wouldn't go. So, I walked in and signed up for a year's worth of training at three times a week. It's my health and I look at it as the most important investment I need to make right now. And, because I know myself too well, I chose to do it to ensure that I get exercise. I also don't want to get injured and this lessens that chance.

The first three times, I was weak beyond belief but this time I felt a difference. I didn't get as deathly, near-collapse fatigued this time. Muscles do remember, and though I'm wholly out of shape, I could feel them saying, "Oh yeah, this does seem familiar," today.

What's nice this time around is that I'm totally chill about it. I'm not making drastic changes to my diet or lifestyle. I have a feeling that will come when my body demands it. If I force it, I'll rebel. And plus, I'd like to keep some sort of normalcy in that category as far as enjoying myself. This way, it can unfold naturally.

I will say it does feel weird to be working out again. It's a good weird, but I guess it's weird because this time I have nothing to prove. I'm not trying to achieve some look or anything. Just be healthier. So, right now I don't know where that puts me. But, with this mindset it's amazing how everyone else around me becomes invisible. And, that's a good thing. It feels...secure in a way that I'm entirely focused on what I should be.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I hate it when I literally have to give the cold shoulder to someone, but that's just what I did. Literally. Turned my shoulder and pointed it at The Sallow Man's face. This just after I had nice, short conversations with others in the coffee shop. I came here because I wasn't quite ready to let go of the day yet. And, settling in, putting the chain on the door and committing myself to a night of being at home would be letting go and accepting that today was finished. Now, as I start typing this, I'm feeling okay about finally calling it a day.

That was Wednesday night, when I went to my regular coffee shop and got accosted once again by one of the annoying talkers. When I saw him come in, I got frustrated and tried to be invisible at my table. No such luck. He sat down at the table across from me, faced me and stared right at my face. I accidentally looked up mid-thought and made eye contact for a fraction of a second. Realizing my error, I quickly put my head down only to hear, "How are you?" Anger swelling in my stomach, I ignored him. Again, "How are you?" At that, I looked up, feigning surprise that he was talking to me. I answered in one word sentences and he started off on a tangent, of course taking a negative stance on it. I looked up to J, one of the employees whom I've befriended who was there but not working. However, used to The Sallow Man's prattle, he was deaf to it and therefore blind to my predicament. After about five minutes of him staring and talking, and not picking up my very obvious clues, I turned my shoulder toward his face and answered him with nods and "um hmms." Still, he didn't get it. Finally, my real out came when J moved to leave and I called him over to my table. The Sallow Man kept talking until J leaned down to talk to me, then watched the both of us as I tried to communicate that I needed him to break the fucking tractor beam. I kept J there long enough, then when he left, buried my face in my laptop and didn't look up. Five minutes later, The Sallow Man stood up and left. However, I was so annoyed by then I couldn't concentrate, and went home myself.

Lots has happened and I've been thankfully very busy at work, but not over busy, if that makes sense. There was one day that I don't think I looked up from my computer the whole day there, but it's all work that I enjoy doing. And, there's no Sallow Man to distract me. I still love my new job and have been there for a month. One day, I had a meeting at Sony Studios and on my way out saw what I thought were two grips play fighting during a break. Then, I noticed that they were moving very professionally and precisely, which piqued my interest. As I passed by them, I saw it was Robert Downey Jr. and an attractive stuntman practicing a fight scene for Iron Man 2, which was filming near the stage where we were having our event. Totally unexpected and cool. Since I didn't want to get thrown off the lot, once I was far enough down the way, I turned and snapped a photo of them. The funny thing, is before I realized who it was, I was going to snap a much closer photo of what I thought was just a fun slice of life shot at Sony. Thankfully, I didn't.

On a not so fun note, I've had EIGHT palmetto bugs in my apartment over the last ten days. One crawled over my bare foot during an epic battle with a can of Raid, Atticus and Oliver at my side, fighting to get to the cat toy with a mind of its own. I'd been watching television when a large black dot moving across the ceiling caught my eye. I looked up and saw it was a huge Palmetto cockroach, and slowly moved into the kitchen so as not to alert it. I grabbed the Raid, sprayed it and it launched itself into a death spiral toward the floor.

It was on.

The cats flew off the couch as if shot from two cannons. Barefoot, Raid in hand, I chased it while fighting them off as they fought each other to get to the still fast two-inch freak crawling toward my bed. I cringed as it crawled up my comforter across my bed, and then sensed movement from behind me. Without taking my eyes off the roach, I dropped the can of Raid, stuck my hands out to my sides, palms backward and blocked two furry faces in mid-air. Oliver and Atticus landed on each side of me, and upset at getting face-palmed, gave me a level of stink eye that only cats who were just denied a most righteous flying leap pounce on escaping prey can give. Not deterred, they raced around me because like me, they could hear it making its way toward the other side of my bed. I raced toward them block them again, just as the big bastard jumped off the bed, landed next to where I'd just stepped, ran across my bare foot and attempted to go up my pant leg.

Oh HELL to the no.

I screamed, kicked and sent the cockroach flying, body blocked the cats who sprang after it and grabbed the Raid. The fat bastard righted itself but was succumbing to the spray. It hobbled next to the mirrored sliding doors of my closet, then flipped on its back. I blasted its underside, then keeping the cats away, got a large piece of paper and threw it in the toilet.

Not half an hour later, I heard Oliver meowing and looked his way. He was planted at the door, looking up. I followed his line of sight to big fat freak number two climbing up my front door. That one went down with much less drama, until it ran behind my bookcase and I lost sight of it. I imagined having to just deal with the fact that a roach carcass was somewhere in my house until I saw it on its back all the way across the room. That one went in the trash, which immediately went into the bin outside.

I sent several hysterical all caps texts to the landlord, and they sprayed on Friday. I hadn't seen a roach since.

Until tonight.

I was watching TV and heard the cats up to something. I walked into the kitchen and saw them side by side, both standing on their hind legs on the plastic bin where I keep their food. Their paws were draped Kilroy style over the counter and they concentrated on a spot near the sink. I was lost in the moment of how adorably cute they looked, then felt my stomach sink I realized what had probably grabbed their interest. I moved a bowl, and there it was. Big, brown, fat and ugly, antennae twitching at me. The Raid was right under the sink, which meant that I had to reach down close to where the roach was on the counter. Luckily, I've become quite a pro at this and after blasting it, let it run around until it died. I had already scared the cats away when I dropped the bowl in the sink upon seeing the unwelcome guest.

I texted the landlord again. All caps. F-bomb included. He's sending his brother to patch up a hole under my kitchen faucet. It's been there since I moved in, but I think the fat fuckers are finding a way into that crawl space and coming in that way. Especially because I've sprinkled Borax by my front door. That hole was made when they re-piped the building with copper piping and never patched up.

I sent a text to the landlord and thanked him, and said that if we join forces, together we will defeat the mutants.

Lots more, just not tonight.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Michael Jackson hoopla has come and gone. Tuesday morning, I counted twelve helicopters buzzing around my apartment before I went to work. And, they shut down freeways for it. All during the day, the helicopters would return for news updates. In the early morning as I still laid in bed, I heard a bunch of French speaking people pass by my bedroom window. I have no idea if the two were related, but there were people from all over the world who had come to "be there" and a lot of them were French. And, we have several hotels around due to the studios being so near. Luckily, it didn't affect our area the way that it could have. I think people took the hint to stay away. Same with the downtown memorial.

I finally, finally got my refund checks. On top of that, I got a freelance check along with them so I had a total of five nice checks to deposit into my account. God, did that feel awesome. I couldn't believe it when I saw them there. Of course, they come when my finances are vastly improved and back to normal, but I'm not complaining. In fact, I'm glad they came now.

Yesterday, I was on standby to possibly go to the 90210 set where they were using some of our products for a scene, but I never got the call. Apparently, they knew or figured out how to set it up. I wouldn't have known how yet, but I had some people on standby who did. I would have just been the person to put both together and be there to accommodate extra requests and make sure everything went smoothly. So far, the job continues to be great and challenging in all the right ways. I also got a really nice compliment from my freelance job at the network regarding the work I did for them. I'll miss them, as I enjoyed that work and they too were awesome to work with.

So, that's it. I'm settling into this new routine and every day get my bearings a little better. Now, to start exercising again. I went for a swim in the pool yesterday and my body relished at the movement and use of it. It's been too long, but I'm almost at the point of not being able to stand it any longer. Luckily, I respond really well to exercise and see results quickly. It's the motivation I need to work on, but luckily the company supports healthy living and will pay part of a gym membership. I already belong to one, but am considering going with a trainer for a couple days a week and that helps with the entire cost. I don't look at that as a luxury, but a necessity and as prevention. Plus, better, quicker results. My swim had me feeling wonderfully tired at a decent time of night, which was a first in a very long time.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Fourth of July to my fellow Americans.

This past couple of weeks has really kicked me in the behind. One, because I'm on a learning curve with the new job, and second, because I'm finishing out the work I've been assigned for the television recaps. I'm shocked that so many of you have stayed with me and keep checking back. I'm always surprised by the amount of hits I have on this blog by the end of the day even when my updates have slowed down. Again, I'm going to try to fix that.

On Wednesday I learned that my new company gives us TWO paid days off for the Fourth of July. Awesome for me, who needed the extra time off to make this transition easier. And, to clean my wreck of a cluttered apartment and partly, my wreck of a self. I got my "hair did" on Thursday by the awesome person who always makes me look fabulous. I told him he had his work cut out for him. He's so cool and gives me a rock and roll beachy style that is perfect for my massive amount of hair. Now, I just need to sprout an extra arm so I can style it the way that he does. It's always fun to go to that salon.

The job so far is fabulous. In the first week, I was having a meeting poolside on top of a swank hotel and then on another day, on a photo shoot as the "marketing connect" for a product in a downtown live/work loft for one of our products. Fun to see these creative, smart people collaborate well and produce such high quality results. We had a model as well, and he was great. Also interesting, was we were on video meeting with another art director in Quebec, who also had a direct connection to us. They would hold up the laptop, with a live shot of him on screen, and bring him around like a disembodied head to look at the shot set ups. There were a few instances of crackups because of that. I took a few pictures of everything going on. While still on my learning curve, I wrote the copy for the packaging. I've really enjoyed the challenge and my ability to step things up while still retaining my "space." I'm excited about the challenges that are ahead, and even more so when I get more settled in and "one" with the multitude of products and the workings with the company. So, all is good on the work front, and while of course I have my moments of self doubt and nerves, I understand that they will pass. When that happens, I sort of just relax my body and let them blow over me like a sudden strong wind. If I don't try to fight it, and just let it push my body where it wants until it's over, I haven't expended valuable energy nor given into their desire to disrupt me.

Oh, and within fifteen minutes of being on my new job, I was complimented on my shoes.

A few blocks from me, the King of Pop lies in state awaiting burial at the same place. During that meeting by the rooftop pool, my boss received a news blip on his iPhone that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital. Thirty minutes later, on my way home from the meeting, news broke on the radio that he had died. I texted my boss the news in case he hadn't heard. I have mixed feelings about his death because of the allegations that we all know too well. I have no idea whether he was guilty or not, but the mixed feelings come from the fact that I like so many people enjoyed his music and magic, if you will. He was a talented, fantastic entertainer who had an almost supernatural control over his body in his dance moves. I don't know one person who didn't enjoy his music during their lifetime or can't link one of his songs to a poignant moment in their lives. I myself can remember the elation I felt when I finally mastered the moonwalk when growing up. However, the sad part is that Michael Jackson was never comfortable in his own skin, literally. Because his parents were more focused on building his music career rather than a solid emotional foundation, as an adult he didn't have the tools to deal with well, just about everything. It's no excuse if he hurt children. I have no tolerance for those who hurt children. However, seedy opportunistic parents with their eyes on the big payoff were all too eager to feed their children to Michael Jackson. And, they are just as guilty if not more if the worst indeed happened. Jackson was a vulnerable person who was reckless in making himself the perfect target for those who wanted to exploit him. Like I said, if he indeed hurt children, that changes everything I just said. But, it doesn't make things any less tragic for everyone involved.

Last night on my way home I passed the funeral home. Already, several news vans, trucks, cars, huge mobile units were parked outside, claiming their spots like greedy kids on the rushing out to recess calling first through third swing. Most of them weren't occupied, but there as place holders to their turf once the focus turns there. I think it will all happen on Tuesday, and that will be weird.

Anyway, enough about that. It's just been so "in your face" here. And on Tuesday, it's going to be in my face.

So, back to enjoying my weekend. I have no big plans tonight except to enjoy the multitude of fireworks displays around. I didn't go out of my way to plan anything, unlike other Fourth's where I make plans with friends. Sometimes, there are times to be mellow and this feels like one of them for me. Shannon and I went to Nolan's last night and hung out. We had planned to go over to Hollywood but reeled in our plans for fear of it being crazy out because of the holiday weekend.

Now, time to get back to enjoying said weekend...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I treated myself to a little retail courage, my version of liquid courage today at Neiman Marcus, before I start my new job on Tuesday. I'm nervous, but it's a good nervous. However, I wanted to have something new to "start" this new chapter. I have a credit card at Neiman Marcus, and it has a very low balance on it. So, today's goal was shoes and a shirt. I knew they were having a huge sale that started today and scored big time on a pair of Prada sandal flats that will go with everything I own. Yeah, I know, sounds like a splurge but I got them for a third of their price and I'd been eyeing them since I toured the store a few weeks earlier as a motivational push. In a way, this was my way of sealing the deal. A little reward for sticking with that motivation. Plus, I'm in desperate need for new shoes. I've been riding out the ones I have for quite a while during my lean time and it shows.

I am queen of the bargain when it comes to retail. My aunt, who has several houses and let's just say, no shortage of funds, once said something I'll never forget. "Never pay retail." And she's someone who can afford to do so. I always hear her voice when shopping and heed it. And, because of my short stint in the fashion industry, became even more steadfast against it.

I stopped by at Teuscher chocolates to get my blended mocha and turned around to see Jason from the coffee shop coming my way. We laughed at the absolute randomness of us running into each other in Beverly Hills. He was there because his girlfriend was getting her "hair did," as I phrased it, and was killing time during her appointment.

After my jaunt through Neiman's, can I just say this to you ladies who think that zero body fat is attractive? Know this. It ages you a good ten years. At least. Especially if you're over 25. There were so many walking around, sallow skin pleating at their elbows and knees, sunken cheeks and wrinkles that fillers didn't disguise. And, hair that was as devoid of life as the expressions on their faces. There were a few of them there today, walking scarecrows who looked exactly what they were trying to avoid, tired and old. With an extra helping of hard bitterness. I'll tell you this, I stayed the hell out of their way.

Oliver's new development is that he's discovered my lap. Before, I had to put him there and he'd tolerate it. Now, he's figured out that the lap means petting and cuddling. He's constantly tapping me on the back with his big paw, wanting attention. And yes, I give it to him. Now, he's finally gotten the lap concept. However, Maine Coons are not especially jumping cats, like Atticus whom I swear has invisible wings and spring-loaded paws. So, the first times he attempted the lap ambush, which is sneaking up behind me while I'm at the computer and jumping aboard with no warning, he had a few mishaps. Those mishaps became my excruciating pain. Imagine a cat who weighs at least 15 pounds trying to keep himself from slipping off your lap because he didn't put enough height into it. It's the equivalent of a 15 pound dumbbell attached to fish hooks that pierce your belly and thigh. And if that wasn't bad enough, the dumbbell being suddenly dropped while still attached to said body parts.

Yeah.

Upon grabbing Oliver's claws and removing from skin: Ow! Oh fuck! Damn! Fuck!

(Upon looking at wounds) Nice. Thanks Oliver. FAIL.

However, he's gotten better and concentrates before lap ambushing, as well as doing his best to keep his claws retracted. It heartens me that he's making these steps, and trusting me enough that he's finding new ways to enjoy life. After the involuntary belly button piercing attempts, I made sure to lift him onto my lap and let him know that yes, he is welcome there.

Today, my employee packet came via Fed Ex. And of course, I was naked when he knocked on the door. I yelled at him to hang on, then dressed quickly and took it from the smiling man. I think he knew I was naked when he knocked. Probably a regular occurrence for them, and they've honed their ears to identify the exact level of stress and surprise in someone's voice when they've surprised them in the buff.

It was exciting to look through the packet and anticipate. I was impressed by how they organized it. Once again, extremely smart and thought out. At that, I continue to prepare. Doing laundry, cleaning the apartment, buying groceries and whatever so I can be free of mind clutter.

Oh, and of course...buying a new pair of designer shoes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Enjoying a large mocha at Starbucks, because I've needed a change of place from my regular digs. For those of you who don't know, and I didn't...you can buy a $5.00 Starbucks card, which enables you to use their free Internet for 30 days or so. All those times I had Starbucks cards, I never knew and could have benefited. So, if you have one and aren't a T-Mobile subscriber, there you go. My usual place has free internet, but they cut off their outlets due to some a-holes who abused the privilege. One such a-hole would sit for HOURS, get one regular coffee and do the refills all day. I'm not sure how much refills were, but they weren't much. Maybe twenty-five cents. And, wouldn't tip. Not only that, he came in with enough computer equipment for E.T. to phone home and chat up all the other people there who were the wanderers. His "presence" was very large there and took up a lot of space. Not only that, but these people prevented a lot of others who came there for coffee and conversation from sitting at tables. Too bad that a few bad apples...you know the rest. They did it under the guise of electrical problems but the workers told me differently. Unfortunately, for people like me who went there for a short time, if I wanted to use the Internet, it greatly reduced the time I'd sit there as I have an older laptop that doesn't have an internal wireless receiver. I plug in an external one that really eats the battery.

There have been some wonderful developments and though they aren't final, I think it's safe to discuss them now. For two months, I've been going through an interview process for a great job. The more people I interviewed with, the more I realized that they were a place that nurtured and brought the best out of people like me. I could just feel it, that they "got" how creative people work as they were all creatives themselves. It was odd, because one day I sent my resume in cold to the company when I saw an ad for a marketing copywriter on their site. Two days later I had a response from them, wanting to speak to me. For some reason, I've gotten lucky in doing that. All of my favorite jobs and the trek they put in motion for making lifelong friends and contacts have been from sending in that resume cold, with no connections. So, it does happen people. Well, in interviewing, I found out that this job was even cooler than I expected. Way cooler, and hip. So, after interviewing with some incredibly talented, accomplished and interesting people, I learned this week that I landed it. To say I'm excited is an understatement. I haven't started yet and will probably do so sometime next week. Interestingly enough, and I know you all are going to wanna kill me, but it's full-time with benefits and a mostly work from wherever you want position. Meaning, at home, Starbucks, a sweat lodge, Ferris wheel, the Roman Catacombs (as long as you can email from there)...wherever. There will be times that I'll go into the office, which will be good as well. I look forward to seeing how it works. This is a stable, major company which has been the standard in the entertainment industry forever. It's not going anywhere but up. They have offices all over the world and people that will be doing what I do in major cities like New York, London, Paris you name it. The person whom I'll be working for devised an incredibly smart way to market and not only that, is funny and very laid back. All said, everyone I spoke to is very dedicated to what they do and loves it. This is why I've been relatively quiet on my blog for a while, as there was a lot going on. Needless to say, I'm thrilled.

Thanks for sticking with me through the quiet people. I promise things will pick up again.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

For those of you following the extremely sad story of Air France flight 447, I point you to Dave's site, who has some insight and intelligent comments from his readers. Dave is a commercial airline pilot who mostly flies the same kind of aircraft that disappeared mid-flight over the Atlantic. He offers a couple of possible scenarios from a pilot's perspective, one which had me looking up what a "super bolt" of lightning was on Google.

His has been a favorite blog of mine for some time because of his fantastic writing and descriptions of his travels, and when air disasters happen it's always helpful and interesting to get his point of view. As a somewhat nervous flier, even though I've gotten better over the years, I always think of Dave at the helm when taking off, the time I'm most afraid and it's done wonders for my nerves.

Even so, the Air France accident is a sad and tragic event which plagued my mind last night. I not only was thinking of the terror that the passengers must have endured, but of course their family and friends who lost loved ones. My sister is a flight attendant for a major airline, and while I know airline travel is extremely safe it's still jarring when things like this happen. I could only offer prayer for the victims and families. I know I was one of many whose prayers were drifting up into the ether, joining hands with the prayers of others. I prayed for strength for the ones left behind.

UPDATE: Just read in the comments that Dave's post about this accident made the BBC News website.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What a tool.

I mean...seriously.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Well, Kcuf.

I just found out from the IRS that all of my refunds were sent to Baltimore. My accountant had my old address and therefore they went to my old apartment. Luckily, I still know the owner of the building and I'll let him know. They were probably just sent back to the post office, as the people in the building don't know me anymore. The owner/landlord, however, I'm still in touch with. He's a great guy whom I adore. I wondered, because the "where's my refund" portion of the site told me that the checks had been sent on May 8th. Yes, I'm getting more than one. No, don't ask. I'll just say this. Extensions. And I'm not talking about the kind you see on name-that-random starlet's head here in Los Angeles. However, the good news is now I know what's going on. I was fearful that they'd gotten lost in the mail. And, when calling my mailbox the c-word every time it yielded no checks didn't make them magically appear the next day, I spoke to a real live person at the IRS. I have to say, every time I've dealt with the IRS, they've been helpful and friendly. Okay, so there was one lady who'd cached in her smile chips for the day, but hey, I eventually won her over. Just a little bit.

What this means, is that it will be a few weeks before I get my refunds. Phooey.

In other news, things are still going well and that "good thing" I mentioned is still a very real possibility. I'm keeping it close to the vest for now for obvious reasons, but it's put me in good spirits.

I'm taking care of the neighbor's kitties, who are just adorable. It was cute how they asked me, knowing I have cats. And, previously I've asked them about theirs a few times. They are a young married couple who live in one of the studios in the building on the first floor. And, one of their cats is named Oliver. A black beauty with amber eyes. And, just a sweetie. I've enjoyed my time with them.

I'm at Starbucks today, cheating on my local coffee shop. I saw another regular who is also cheating. Sometimes you just have to break from routine. It gives you a fresh perspective. Plus, I love the huge pine trees near this store. I'm sitting outside and hearing the wind filter through them. It always is interesting to me to see the humanity that comes into Starbucks. How, that they decided to make getting coffee a part of their day. The auto mechanic with the Midas patch on his shirt on walking in with his wife, the multitude of teenagers, lots of laptop warriors and families. A big, muscled African-American man smoking a thin cigar who smiled at me, maybe thinking his size could be seen as intimidating when we met eyes. He was standing, me sitting. It's one of the perks of being a woman. Men, who wouldn't crack smiles for other men, show you courtesy. It's hard to explain, but I've had it happen many, many times. You know it when you see it. It's pure chivalry.

A couple days ago, I struck up a conversation with a veteran teamster. He'd again, shown that chivalry. He told me about working on "Predator" in the Mexican jungle. Very interesting, as I'd just watched it recently on HBO again. The first time I saw it, I was staying my my dad and step mom's house in New Jersey when they lived in London. They had a huge, wall-sized TV, so it was like seeing it on a movie screen. I was flipping channels, it was on and I decided to watch it. Well, not only was I not expecting it to be as good as it was, but also didn't expect it to scare the crap out of me for the rest of the night. They lived in a house surrounded by trees, including a half-acre of wild wooded area behind their house. After the movie, I closed every single blind over the windows and jumped at any noise from outside. I swore I was going to see a glint of distortion in the forest, then a triangle of red sighting lasers float across my chest before I was blown to oblivion. I didn't expect the monster to be as scary as it was, nor the movie so creepy. He told me a few stories from the set, such as the deaths that occurred during filming. For you fainthearted, you may want to skip this part. But, he told me about an accident that happened when they were rigging the props for a scene where the commandos first see the hanging skinned bodies of the other commandos. Before shooting, when they were hoisting the helicopter up into the tree, a cable snapped with such force that it cut two workers in half at the torso. These were Mexican nationals, and he saw the entire thing. I've researched that story on the internet and haven't been able to find anything, but it's not something that a major studio will publicize unless it's unavoidable like the Twilight Zone Movie deaths. Also, that accident happened in America, not the Mexican jungle. If anyone knows about it, please point me to the information so I can link to it.

Otherwise, I've been in a happy state for many reasons. Things are starting to make sense. I'll explain more about that when I can.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some more Oliver adorableness. Here he is kneading my shawl, with it in his mouth of course. This time, he gets his back legs into the action. No shawls were harmed in the making of this video.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Written on May 11, 2009

The weather has cooled off thankfully. Now it's back to normal May weather. Nice during the day, cool at night. There are some good developments that have been happening, but I won't mention them here yet as they are still in progress.

I don't have much to report otherwise.

Last night, I drove to the grocery store to settle my ice cream cravings that I've been having lately. Jeez, we get a little hot weather and I'm raiding the Ben & Jerry's selection in the freezer aisle.

On my way there, I saw a Cadillac SUV pulled over by my building in a haphazard way, with flashers on. The passenger door was open, which led me to look at my building, then notice the two young guys pressed up against the wall between the palm trees, taking a leak. Usually, I'd get irked at that, but for some reason this time it cracked me up. They just looked so helpless and caught well...with their pants down. They noticed me at the same time and turned around guiltily. I rolled down my window, and one of them looked like he was bracing for a tirade from me, but I merely smiled and shook my momma finger at them. They laughed, I laughed and one of them yelled repeatedly at me, "I'm sorry!" It was hilarious. I guess they really had to go.

After a night at the bar, Shannon and I hit up Bob's Big Boy where my neighbor waited on us. The two of them took swipes at each other succeeding in both embarrassing and cracking me up. It's always weird having my neighbor wait on me, but after a couple times I'm used to it now.

The weird thing is that I looked over Shannon's shoulder and saw the sallow man. I couldn't believe it. It was three in the morning, and there he was talking some other poor guy's ear off. Luckily, he didn't see me, but my neighbor already knew him by name. Just before that we'd been at the local pub, that is, after Shannon pounded on my window because he wanted to go out. Funny thing, is well, I was indisposed at the time that he did it, so when he moved to the bathroom window I had to yell at him that I couldn't move. Anyway, it was funny and we were on Nolan's bar stools fifteen minutes later. We ended up talking to three stunt men who were really fun to talk to. I tell you, those guys have nerves of steel. I'd gone to put some songs in the juke and when I returned, Shannon had struck up a conversation with them. He went next and told them, "watch over her." The three surrounded me and though I didn't know that Shannon had said that to them, I had a sudden sense of security. They were very nice, confident but approachable and were extremely comfortable in their own skin. And, funny.

Written on May 6th, 2009

Hot. Dry. Windy.

I came home after eating soup next door to one of my neighbors sleeping on his stomach feet from my door, beads of water glistening on his tan skin from a dip in the pool, in his swim trunks with his toes dangling over the edge into the water. I took his cue and left my door open, stretched out on my couch and fell into a light sleep as I listened to the wind chimes in the courtyard. Perfect.

When I woke, it was hot. I relented, shut the windows and blinds, then turned on the air conditioning. I can't sleep well when it's hot, so let the cooling of my apartment begin. It's so funny when I compare my hot weather posts to ones like this. Both have their merits.

Monday, May 04, 2009

It looks like I have three little earthquake predictors in my house. They were acting nuts the day before the earthquake, so much that I actually Tweeted it. Look to the right if you don't believe me. And, the follow up after the quake hit. I got a lot of emails from people because I also updated that on other social networking sites. It was just a little quake, but nearby and shallow so it was felt in a lot of areas.

That day, they were "off." Just wandering around as if looking for something, and extra jumpy. Oliver roamed around the pool area meowing, which was very unlike him and Atticus raced around the house. Scout was extra alert and also went looking...as if something was making a noise and she was trying to find out what it was. It was odd enough that I noticed it. I can't explain it. I even said to them, "Are we going to have an earthquake?"

I let them out when I'm home, and make sure that they stay within the pool area. I leave my door open so I can keep an eye on them. They're really good about sticking around, and it's funny when a noise spooks them and all three come racing in. I never, ever let them out if I'm not home. Too much risk out there, but I know they love it so this way they get to stretch their legs a bit. And eat grass, and then come inside and throw it up right beside me. Um. Yeah.

Anyway, I'm glad there's an enclosed area where they can walk around and socialize with my neighbors.

There are some other things going on that are good, but I just can't mention them here! I've been in a good state of mind lately. Especially tonight when I was taking a rest on my couch. It was one of those quiet dusks where everything just takes a breath and cooperates. So, you find the rhythm and breathe in time with it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thanks everyone for your emails and help. I deleted the post because time has passed for the project. I didn't win, because well, I ran out of time before I could complete my whole project. It was for a focus group that I was doing for a wireless company. In the end, I just ran out of time and energy. A very neat and fun lady won. By then, knowing I hadn't finished, I knew I wasn't in the running but I gave them some good stuff. It was for an extra $100 on top of the $200. Would have been nice, but I'm not complaining by any means.

And for those of you who need extra cash, you should look up companies that do focus groups in your area and see if you can get on their lists. They pay in cash and usually $75-$250 cash, depending on what you're doing.

Now, for this comments thing, I'm at a loss. Apparently, some of you can see them while others can't. I can't, so I'm going to leave them up for this post. If you can see them, let me know.

Now, back to Ghost Hunters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We finally got a reprieve from the three-day heat wave. I plan to walk later in my gorgeous neighborhood, as I have a feeling many others will do. It's crisp with a slight wind and partly cloudy. Perfect.

I've had some great prospects and that's all I'm going to say for now. I'm hoping for the best and keeping my fingers crossed.

On April 15th, I was sitting smugly in my apartment, watching the news about people who waited until the last minute to do their taxes when it hit me. I hadn't mailed in my state taxes. They were finished, just not mailed! A couple weeks before, I'd turned in my Federal taxes in person at the IRS office, to a no-nonsense humorless old lady whom I finally won over enough to get one of the corners of her mouth to turn up. Just barely. Even so, I felt triumphant. I'd cracked through the iron curtain frown of a veteran IRS worker two weeks before tax time.

So, back to that night. Smug as a bug in a rug until I looked over at those envelopes. I went to my local post office and just missed the cut off time. When I walked in, they were helping their last customer, a guy who I'm sure was thinking when I was turned away, "Sucks to be you."

I waited for rush hour to pass, then drove to the post office in Van Nuys, that was staying open until midnight. When I arrived, news vans were lined up in front, newscasters readying for the 11:00 broadcast. I was NOT going to be on TV. Not a chance that I was going to be the object of someone's smugness. There were a ton of cars going into the post office lot, but parking was easy to find once in. Inside the post office, people were surprisingly cooperative with each other and in helpful moods. One guy passed out the rest of his stamps to those who needed them, and another guy saw me standing in line with a stamp and offered to by one for a dollar. I told him not to be silly, that he could just have one. He absolutely refused and put the dollar in my open purse. Feeling horrible, I tried to give it away but there were no takers. Someone said, "Play the lottery." It was funny. I just felt so bad about taking a dollar for a stamp, but perhaps it was worth it to that man who didn't want to stand in line for a single stamp.

Either way, I got them in and avoided being on TV. On the way home, I saw a horrific accident on the other side of the freeway. Firetrucks, police and ambulances everywhere, and on the other side of it, traffic backed up for miles. How close we all come to things. That was the freeway I had taken to get there. Had I waited another half hour...who knows. It didn't look like there were fatalities, but there were probably some pretty serious injuries.

On a lighter note, I took this funny video of Oliver. He makes this adorable chattering sound when I play with him with the laser. It just cracks me up. Make sure your sound is up to view the adorableness in its entirety.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I decided to shelve the hiatus. Sorry for the false alarm. I'll explain later. It's due to a good thing, to all you who wrote worried. Either way, the blog will continue without interruption.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I went to a colleague's book signing on Wednesday. The book signing was for Evan Wright's Hella Nation. And, if you like fantastic slice-of-life stories from the fringes, this is the book for you. From knowing Evan, he's a great story teller and very funny in his descriptions of the extreme people and situations that he's profiled. I met Evan while he was in the office for Season Four of The Wire, working with David Simon on Generation Kill, an HBO Series based on his book by the same name. Evan was a great addition to the office and we shared many a conversation over the dartboard that was in my office. And, he and his wife have two Maine Coon cats.

When I got to the store, I followed an attractive tall blond man whose looks screamed Scandinavian, and his friends up the escalator. I wondered if the tall blond man was Evan's relative because of well...the tall and the blond thing. Evan is tall and blond. They took a seat in the front row as did I, and they were later joined by another friend, a hip looking guy in a gray knit cap.

David Markland of L.A. Metblogs and I had exchanged emails beforehand, as he was planning to go as well. Sure enough, he found me out of the crowd and we chatted a bit. It was great to meet a fellow blogger IRL. "In Real Life" for those of you who aren't up in geek speak. Hi David!

Anyway, I decided to see if Evan recognized me, as I hadn't seen him since middle of 2005 in Baltimore. Talk about out of context, so my bets were on no. And, my hair has grown quite a bit since last time. When he came in, his eyes lingered for a second, perhaps trying to place me but the recognition didn't come. I would later learn what he was thinking, that I resembled a woman who was stalking him and he wondered if I was her!

He read a couple of passages from his book, one which was hilarious. These are a collection of essays from his days as a journalist from publications ranging from Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Hustler. Yes, Hustler.

When the signing started, the group of blonds and knit cap hung around for quite awhile and talked to Evan. I think David told me he thought they were Generation Kill actors, but because everyone had their heads shaved I couldn't place them, much like Evan couldn't place me. When my turn came up, I stood there and asked if he knew me, then waited a second. I then gave him some hints and it all came back.

"The dart board!" he said. Just for the record, he's the only man who could get away with calling me that. When he realized I wasn't his stalker, just a dart board, we chatted a bit, but I knew it wasn't the place to take up too much time as there were more people in line. And, he'd said he had a fever. He wrote his email address in the book and signed it, "You are awesome," which was great.

David interviewed Evan with a very cool little camera, then darted off to catch Lost. After things wound down, I met Evan's wife, whom I'd heard so much about while on "The Wire," so it was great to see people, like David, materialize from blogs and stories to real life. It was there that I showed him a picture of Oliver and learned his Maine Coon cats were alive and well. Even his wife remembered me from stories Evan had told about his time in Baltimore. She was very cool.

It was there that I learned David and I had been sitting next to two vampires. Evan told me that they were actors from Gen Kill. When he said one of their names, it all came back. The other's name I didn't recognize, I'm sorry tween girls...I'm sorry. I just didn't. Yeah, I know. I suck and am old. But, when Evan told me he was in Twilight, which I'd seen, I was pretty sure which character he played. Does that count?

Shut up.

What I couldn't believe, was that I didn't recognize the first guy, Alexander Skarsgard, the tall Scandinavian, who's on a show that I just love, called True Blood. He plays a very old vampire named Eric Northman, who owns a vampire nightclub. Funny thing was that I'd interviewed his father, Stellan, who plays Will Turner's father in the Pirates movies, on the red carpet for the second movie. The other vampire, the one in the knit cap whose name I didn't recognize, is named Kellan Lutz. Evan told me he was in Twilight, and has lots of fans and fan sites. I verified when I got home that he plays Emmett Cullen in Twilight. That came in the form of cracking up loudly on the phone to Shannon when I put two and two together. A note to the tweens...he's cute in film, but much better looking in person.

After the signing, I went to the Farmer's Market and had a French crepe filled with Nutella and banana. Sweet Jesus. I guess the vampires were hungry too, because as I ate Kellan walked back and forth from a patio bar next to where I was satisfying my appetite near a Mexican place. When I left, I saw them at a table at the bar. For those of you who haven't been to the Farmer's Market, it's an outdoor area with shops and food, and table areas throughout. It's great food, great people watching and a good time. My mom and I went when she visited and she really enjoyed it.

Once again, get the book. Hella Nation by Evan Wright.

After all, all the vampires are reading it.

Monday, April 06, 2009

To the people of Italy or those who have relatives there, you are in our thoughts and prayers today. I was up when news broke about the quake and was hoping that it wasn't that bad. Unfortunately that isn't the case.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The below details exactly how NOT to have a job fair:

Don't tell people on the phone to come at 1:00 PM, then not let them participate at 1:10.

Don't call it a job fair if it isn't really a job fair.

Don't humiliate them publicly for arriving at 1:10, when it wasn't specified that people arriving after 1:00 will not be allowed to participate.

Don't expect me to walk away with my tail between my legs if you do any of the above.

You would have thought it was an April Fool's joke, but this is how I was treated yesterday at a bookstore job fair. Now, before I get into this...my experience on April 1st doesn't reflect the company's policies as a whole. This happened at THIS store with THIS manager. While those of you who are familiar with this blog can guess which company, I'm withholding names because I'm still handling the total FUCKERY that happened below. Those of you who know me personally, feel free to send me an email.

Two weeks ago, I applied at the bookstore and called a couple days ago to follow up. I spoke to the Head Manager, not the Assistant Manager whom I met when I went in the first time, who told me that they were having a job fair on the 1st and that all previous applications would be filed. I did think that was very odd. Why would someone looking for employees decide to "file" aka trash previous applications, especially ones filled out only two weeks ago? The guy told me that "We're doing things differently now" and I would have to fill out a second application. Kind of weird and cumbersome, but okay, I was willing to play. I called again on the 1st and made sure that it was still going on. I was told that the last job fair started at 1 PM.

Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with job fairs, they are usually casual and not a set time thing. When one starts is just when they start seeing people. They can consist of people standing in line to meet with a hiring manager(s) with a lot of pamphlets about how great it is to work for the company. You are given an opportunity to submit your resume, fill out an app, sell yourself for a few minutes during your face time with hiring managers. Seminars or workshops, on the other hand, may have set times, but they are advertised as having them. This wasn't categorized as that, nor was the requirement of arriving exactly at 1 PM communicated to me on the phone by the manager. I was told they were having a job fair and seeing people in clumps at three times starting at three different times today.

When I walked inside the store, there were no signs to direct people where to go. In fact, there was no indication of where said job fair was taking place in the THREE story store. I had to go to information and wait for an available bookseller to tell me where it was.

I know what you're thinking. And yes, the red flags were already up, my fair readers. But I had yet to encounter the glaring red banner with "Abandon all hope Ye who enter" written on it around the corner. That would be when I walked to the event area and saw about eight job seekers sitting in chairs, quietly writing. In front of them, an ugly, turtle-like man stuffed into his size too small suit sat beside another man at a table. He had his hands clasped in front of him, looking at the applicants as if they were students in his high school Social Studies class. Remedial Social Studies class. When I walked toward a seat, the turtle spoke.

"Are you here for the job fair?" He said, looking smugly at me.

"Yes," I said.

"Well," he said even more smugly and pointedly, "it started at one o'clock." The man next to him said nothing.

I looked at him oddly, then said, because I couldn't think of anything else to say, "It's one, isn't it?"

He looked at his watch, and then down his nose at me and said, "It's 1:10."

I just looked at him. Confused.

"You can always drop off an application," he said. Keep in mind, he had previously told me they were only hiring through the job fairs, meaning that he had already decided not to consider me for employment at his store.

"I already did, two weeks ago and was told to come to the job fair." I said.

"We'll have others," he said.

At that, I left. Humiliated, sucker punched and fuming. It was clear that he was trying to make some sort of example of out me to the other job seekers. But, he unfairly changed the rules to turn what should have been a friendly meet and greet job fair to some sick kind of Litmus test. When I'd spoken to him previously, never did he say that people arriving after 1:00 would be turned away like errant children.

I went back to the information desk and asked the same bookseller to get me the names of the district and regional manager. Instead, he called another manager over to the desk. I have a feeling it wasn't the first time he'd had to deal with this that day. When she arrived, it was there that I went off. I told her that while I know she isn't responsible and not to take my anger as directed at her, that I'd never been treated so disrespectfully and hostilely in my life at a recruiting event to which I was invited. And, that it wasn't specified that people had to be there exactly at 1:00.

"Outrageous." I said. "OUTrageous." I then proceeded to say that the manager, Richard Mendoza, (I'll call him "Dick" for short, size pun intended) had sent an open invitation which he used to publicly humiliate me in order to prove some point. I stated that I have three years experience, rave reviews from both stores and that because of him, they just lost a chance to have a great employee. As she apologized, but skated carefully around criticizing him, I said that at this point in the game I'm still a customer and he is a representative of the company and this store. Meaning, I won't shop there and encourage the people I know not to as well.

The funny thing, was when I was complaining, another guy came up, tossed his empty application on the counter and said, "I don't want to work here. That guy was completely rude."

"Exactly," I said to both of them. "For all your caring about making plan (the sales amount that corporate wants them to reach each day), you just lost two customers. Right now we're customers, not employees. Not even interviewees at this point. I've been in meetings where plan wasn't reached by the equivalent of a couple of books."

I gave her one more "OUTrageous," then reiterated that my anger wasn't directed at her, but at the abysmal behavior by her boss. And, while that I know my boycott isn't going to make or break the store, each time they miss plan, my purchases, not to mention those of everyone else who the guy offended could have made the difference.

I then went home and called the corporate customer service line that deals with individual stores and recounted the story. The girl on the phone was horrified and apologized on behalf of the company. Again, I said I knew that she was just the person who answered the phone, and that any tone in my voice wasn't directed at her, it was just my frustration at the unfair, hostile and discriminatory treatment that this person applied in his hiring practices. She seemed to agree and will pass my complaint up the chain and someone will get back to me within 48 Hours. I did add the story of the other guy and said that I bet that scenario was repeated several times that day. Again, I have no idea if it will make any difference, but I'm going to make sure it goes in his file. I'm writing letters and also calling their employee hotline. You get the picture. I won't let this go quietly because it was completely unprofessional, uncalled for and not fair. I feel so sorry for the people who work for this idiot, who clearly has no grasp of effective communication, fair hiring practices, good public relations and leadership.

So wow...who knew that a simple attempt to get out of the house, earn an extra paycheck while doing something that I enjoy would end up like that? There are other stores closer to me, yes. But I'm feeling kind of burned right now.