Friday, December 02, 2011

Before I went to Baltimore, my dad came to visit me here in Los Angeles. It just so happened that the first day of his visit fell on the last day of my job at Disney. This wasn't planned; it just happened that I went from the arms of the goodbye hugs of my coworkers to those of the hello hug from my dad. Sometimes life just works out perfectly that way, and we get dealt a best case scenario of what could have been a much more blunt transition. We enjoyed absolutely delicious burgers that night at Olive and Thyme, a fantastic cafe/bistro in the neighborhood, then chatted near the fireplace, me with a cosmo and my dad with scotch at the Hotel Amarano in Burbank.

On Sunday, we drove to Santa Barbara and had brunch at the absolutely gorgeous San Ysidiro Ranch. This is a photo my dad took of me before we enjoyed a fantastic meal and excellent service. It was really top notch, the resort was gorgeous and lived up to its five-star rating. The weather, which had threatened to be rainy, threw us a break and after the marine layer burned off, offered a stunning, clear day with just the right amount of cloud cover.

Me at San Ysidro Ranch

We then toured around Santa Barbara, visiting the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, where we looked at the cubism exhibit and impressionists collection. It's so weird to be standing inches from a Van Gogh and think of him painting those brush strokes, locked in the torment that was his mind. I was standing as far from his canvas as he was when he painted it, but as an outsider looking in. Van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime and considered himself a failure as an artist. How could he have imagined, that his paintings would be the most recognizable in the world, even by those who don't study art. Something tells me that even if he knew, he'd still consider himself not good enough.

The Picasso and Braque cubist works were awesome as well. A totally different experience, you could see Picasso and Braque in their Southern France retreat, cigars and wine next to their experimental paintings. I love being older and rife with the wisdom that enables me to appreciate works of art like this in the depth that they were meant to be. And, to get the full effect of my life experience and that of the artist's meeting and challenging each other's perspectives.

After that, we walked around and visited the town's many galleries and weaved among the crowds on the sidewalk that were also enjoying the beautiful day. My dad, for all his world travels, had never been to Santa Barbara, so it was nice to be the one to experience it with him.

In other news, my next door neighbor, whom I really liked, moved out to go to nursing school in Arizona. This, so she could add that to her credentials as an aesthetician. She was the one sitting with me when the psycho neighbor told me to tell her unannounced callers to "go fuck themselves." And, Oliver got along so well with her cat Dominick. Their friendship was beyond cute. When she'd go out of town, I'd look after Dominick and let them have play dates. I'll miss her a lot, as she was a great neighbor and "got it." Meaning, she could tell who was on the level and who wasn't worth getting to know. If only my filters had been as sharp as hers were upon moving into the neighborhood.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I'm sitting here in the very Starbucks I haunted for years when I lived in Baltimore, in Mt. Washington. The place used to be a working mill, and is in a brick loft-like building with high cathedral ceilings and a sense of history and intelligence. I came here to write, to work on the continuity "bible" when working for The Wire, scripts piled high as I documented each character's arc and attributes like badge numbers, occupations and types of guns they carried. Or, how they were killed off. I made friends here, none of which are working here anymore. The place has changed, from one of several tables to benches and long tables. It fits with the building and adds to the rustic ambiance. A high school boy sits across from me and works on calculus homework while I let my eyes relax out of focus, sinking into memories as Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" fills the room.

My mom is next door at Whole Foods, getting party snacks for company that we're having tomorrow. She drove me here, and it was striking at how unfamiliar the roads had become. Roads that I used to drive every day now looked foreign and unfamiliar. Before she left for the store, we sat at the table and looked through ancestry records on

While I was at their house, I was finally able to take this picture of an oil painting that I did for Jack before I left for Los Angeles. It was my first try at a landscape as well as a sunset, and I painted it from a picture he took when he was camping in the Sinai Desert in Egypt. I didn't have a tripod to photograph it, so it may look a little distorted, but it was the best I could do.

Oil Painting I did of the Sinai Desert

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving at Chris and Hal's, a very cool couple who live next to my mom and have two incredibly smart children. Smart, but gracious and hip, as are the parents. Couldn't have asked for cooler neighbors. Another great couple and their son, who also live in the neighborhood, joined us for one hell of a delicious meal. And I mean, delicious. There was some serious work that went into that feast. Everything was perfect, the company, conversation, Spanish guitar music filling the room, the setting and food. It almost felt as if I'd never left, as I slipped so easily back into the stream in the neighborhood. It certainly didn't feel like four and a half years had passed.

I flew up to Baltimore last Tuesday for my first real vacation in 18 months. I didn't realize how long it had been or how burned out I was until I had a chance to sit back and look at the vast amount of time that I'd been "on." This realization happened while I was still on the job with about a month and a half to go in my contract. My sleeping patterns, fragile already, became hard to manage and I was tired... a lot.

The first night there, it rained, and I heard the soft patter of raindrops as I lay tucked warmly into a comfortable bed. It was gentle, peaceful and almost meditative. A perfect welcome into my "off" time, its wonderfulness best described as that feeling of comfort that one gets when putting on a sock just after it comes out of the dryer.

I'll update this post with some pictures as well as post them on Flickr.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Last week, I finished my job at Disney. I took this job for a 30-day stint with the possibility of longer if things worked out. 18 months later, I've worked the maximum amount of time allowed for a temporary employee in one department. My time here has both seemed like forever and as if it has just whizzed by.

They tried to hire me, but because of the uncertain fluxes in that department, couldn't add the head count. It wasn't for lack of trying by management. All along, I've been prepared for that, but when the actual day comes, emotionally it's hard. I'm sad about the departure.

In 2007 and 2008 I worked with the same group, fun, talented and damn good at what they do. I was thrilled to be working with them again in 2010. In September of 2010, we merged with the vis merch group, though we still stayed e-commerce. They are another great group of smart, creative folks who are passionate about their work. So, with a total of 24 months with them, they feel like family.

My boss was awesome. He came on in October of 2010 and we just clicked from the first week on. I've learned a lot from him, not just professionally and about copywriting, but personally. The guy has an encyclopedic mind, totally "gets it," is hilarious and appreciates me and my at-times cynical, blunt quirkiness. Not only that, and I'll borrow from a term that actors use about other actors, but he's a generous writer. Only those in creative fields truly understand what that means and how rare it is. He's a good person and I'm going to miss working with him. At the end of my last day, before he flew off to Michigan to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, he made a point to tell me how much he appreciated me, my work and that I'd been a great help to him. And, I'll go ahead and say it, because it was such a nice compliment, he added that if the next person is half as good as I was he'll count himself lucky. I told him what I just wrote above, and more. He's a great guy and I'm going to miss the hell out of him. If my next boss is half as good as he is, I'll count myself lucky.

I also got a really nice handwritten note from the VP of Creative, telling me how much of an asset I was to the team, which blew me away. And no, it wasn't a formality. Contractors don't normally get letters from VPs at Disney upon their completion of assignments. 14 of my coworkers took me out for lunch, and I came back to see an envelope on my keyboard. I was extremely touched by the gesture, especially after such a great send off from people I mutually respect, admire, and most importantly, like.

This stint, including my full-time job at Avid, is the longest continuous run I've had at one company since moving back to Los Angeles. At Avid, I was laid off along with 200 people after only six months of working at the company. So, I look at these most recent coworkers as family, and in a day I've gone from having that family around me five days a week, to not having them around me at all. Sure, there will be get togethers, texts, Facebook, instant messages and the like, but it's not the day-to-day collaboration and interaction, or them laughing because yes, I went there or vice versa. And, we cranked out some great stuff. Our work, particularly the copywriting work, was raved about in this article, entitled "The Wonderful World of Disney Email." My work will appear on Disney apparel, I've named product lines, collaborated on ideas for the interactive billboard on our Times Square store, written in-store signage, social media, web and packaging copy. As far as Disney Store, I've been everywhere, man. I feel honored to have been a part of it.

So now, I'm adjusting to unemployment and being back in the job market. On Monday, I had an interview with Disney for another job, but they aren't staffing until December or January. That job would be located all of four blocks from my apartment. Yeah.

The positive part, is after that first couple of days, I'm feeling more oriented. On Monday and Tuesday, I felt jarred and out of place, but after a couple days and some sage advice from a fellow Starbucks regular (and contractor himself), I've settled into this new mindset a bit more. I've "allowed" myself to take the time off and appreciate the downtime. As long as I do one thing a day to move me toward my next job, I take the nap when it calls, or work on my collages. I sleep in and decide when I greet the day instead of being subjected to the whims of the alarm clock. I nest, get back in touch with those I've meant to make plans with and enjoy being home. I finish this blog post. Finally.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I just had one of those "only in LA" moments. I came home from work and was parking my car when I noticed a strange golf cart parked in my neighbor's spot. It was black, clearly customized and had "Nerd Machine" painted on the side. We have a lot of film students in the building, so I figured that it was just something from their school or a prop. After I parked my car, I got out to look at it, and when one of the film students exited from the laundry room, I asked if it was his. He told me it wasn't and went into the courtyard.

Seconds later, a tall, very good-looking man exited the courtyard and saw me standing there. I asked him, "Is this yours?" The man, whom I didn't recognize as a neighbor, said it was, and thinking he'd parked in my spot, apologized. I told him no worries, I was just amused by the cart and wondered whose it was. I asked him about "Nerd Machine" and he told me that Nerd Machine, his company is a "nerd" community that has all kinds of fun gear. During this explanation, I realized he looked familiar. I laughed and said, reminds me of "Nerd Herd." It was his reaction that made me realize he was familiar, and that I was speaking to Zachary Levi, who plays "Chuck" on the show of the same name. If you aren't familiar with the show, his character, when working at the Buy More, works for their "Nerd Herd" tech support fleet. When I made the connection, I pointed at him. "Wait, you're..." He stuck out his hand and said, "Zac."

Turns out he was visiting a neighbor who lives in my building. After the introductions, he asked if I was his friend's neighbor, and I confirmed I was, but said I didn't know him very well. The person he knows just moved in a couple months ago. I told him that I used to write show recaps for his show, and that it was one of my favorites. I then said, "This town cracks me up."

I didn't catch on at first because well, one just doesn't expect to run into Chuck in the carport of their building, and I was especially hampered by post-work low blood sugar and post-traffic thousand-yard stare. Nothing better than a fun encounter like that to snap you out of it.

He was a very nice guy, so visit his company website, Nerd Machine.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Me Upside DownLast night after work, I found myself in Barnes and Noble, and while sitting on the floor looking through vector clip art books, (all on the bottom shelf, mind you), a voice boomed over the loud speaker, "Attention Barnes and Noble customers, for your safety and that of others, please DO NOT sit on the floor. There are chairs around the store and benches in the magazine area for that purpose." I was the only one sitting among the group of shoppers, young artist types who all turned and looked at me. Suddenly in the spotlight, I threw my arms up in the fashion of a gymnast who just stuck a perfect landing. Everyone cracked up, me included. Chastened, I stood up and continued to peruse my clip art as we all continued to laugh intermittently.

I've been collecting clip art to use as a reference for some projects I'm have planned for when I'm going to have a lot of downtime. I'd be doing these projects anyway, as I've already started on them, but I'm doing all the pre-work now. As for what the projects are, they are art pieces that have been floating around in my head for ever. And finally, I'm going to take them out of my imagination and put make them a reality. I want to see where I go creatively with them, as whenever I've done like projects for fun, I'm amazed at the zone in which I find myself, when the vision flows directly from the mind onto whatever medium I'm working on to accomplish it. The last time I did it was a last minute idea, when I made a collage makeshift Christmas tree for my mom and Jack when they visited for Christmas. I just got the idea, and started making it, improvising as I went along. I must have taken 20 Free Christmas coupon books from Vons because they had the perfect gradated green. And as you can see, jewelry ads provided my ornaments. My mom and Jack loved it and so did I to be honest, and still remember the looks on their faces when they saw it.

The reason I'm going to have more time on my hands, or at least I think I am, is because I time out at Disney on November 11th. At Disney, you can only work as a contractor for 18 months. I will hit that on 11/11/11. My boss wanted to hire me, but there's a freeze on headcount in my department. It's too bad, because I have an awesome boss. From day one, we just clicked. I won't lie however, that I am looking forward to the time off. I'm at that point where I need a break and to sleep late for a couple weeks straight, as well as go somewhere for the holidays. So now, I'm collecting color swatches and textures from magazines and other sources to give me a rich palette to work from when I'm ready to start experimenting. And, forcing my friends to take pictures of me like the one above. What appeals to me about collage, is that I can incorporate my writing into it. So, after I hit "publish," I'm going to a paperie store to check out their papers.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Desert TreeI'll explain the origin of this incredible photograph in a bit. I'm going to feature them on my blog, but if you don't want to wait until I post, I'll tell you where you can see more.

I've been busy this last month, and can hardly believe it's already October. Along with my Disney job, I've been working on a freelance job that I just finished up last week for a fabulous company called Naked Princess. They are launching in the Fall with their gorgeous luxury lines of lingerie, home and body products. My friend is Chief Creative Officer and co-founder, and for the last two years has worked with a team to put a gorgeous line of products together with the finest of materials, designers and crafts people. I've been working with another awesome woman, the Chief Editorial Officer. I'll just state here that when I describe both of them, please don't envision the twats you see on TV who play at being what they think are admirable women. In a town full of bullshit artists and posers, these two are the real thing. Funny, fashionable, smart, hip, creative and absolutely real, who get other creative people and bring out the best in them. No posturing, because it's not needed. They are accomplished and I'm honored that they invited me to be a part of something that they've worked their tails off to make what it is. And, managed to also achieve their personal creative goals. Ayn, the editor, just had the feature rights to her book purchased by the same company that produces Californication.

At the end of October, I'm going to be in a photo shoot for the company along with the other contributors to their editorial publication, which I'm not sure I can mention yet. I have no idea what to expect, but I think it will be a lot of fun. One of the women is the founder or a contributor to Apartment Therapy, whom I'm totally looking forward to meeting. If any of you have been following my blog in the last few months, the reason why is obvious. I'll be working with them more in the future and look forward to it.

A few posts back, I mentioned that one of my dad's paintings had been featured in the Etsy Finds blog. Well, last month, he sold his first painting on Etsy! I was so thrilled to look at his shop one day and see "1 sale." And, so proud!! My dad and Marie were in the Czech Republic when I saw it, going on a cruise up the Danube River. I called the cruise ship and spoke to an extremely nice woman who became very excited when I told her the message to give to my dad. She said in her thick Eastern European accent, "Oh, he is artist? I did not know!"

Speaking of Etsy, that brings us to the photograph of the tree. Finally, after several months of cajoling from yours truly, Shannon has opened an Etsy shop, featuring photographs that he's taken on trips, out and about and when inspiration hits. He's been a professional portrait and wedding photographer for almost two decades and has a photographic eye that only comes from natural, artistic sensitivity and awareness to his surroundings and self. And, the technical talent to capture and translate that into a photograph. He's been on Etsy for less than a month and already sold three photos. It's just the beginning for him artistically in this venue and I can't wait to see what his shop and photographic work becomes. I was bugging him to open his shop because art like his shouldn't be hidden. It needs to be seen and made available to others who seek that respite and need a reminder that beautiful moments like this exist. It's been fun seeing him fall in love with photography again and hearing about the people who have been touched by his work and reached out to him through his shop.

So, visit Shannon's shop, and if you are on Etsy and don't have walls that are in dire need of gorgeous photos, add him to your circle and if you feel so compelled, favorite some of his photos. He's constantly adding photographs, so check back often.

Me at Micelli's in HollywoodAnd speaking of Shannon, we had a great time on his birthday at the original Micelli's in Hollywood, with singing waiters and the first cognac I've had in a long time. The bartender suggested a French Connection, which mixes Frangelica with cognac. I hadn't tried the drink before, and I have to say, it was awesome. Rich,deep and warm with a bit of the burn taken off by the ice. That was my idea, adding a few cubes and that made it perfect. I sipped it through the entire dinner and it was a great time. The photograph is me at the bar waiting for my "Connection."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Taken just after September 11, 2001 near Ground Zero. Photographer unknown.

I woke to my alarm blaring at me, not because I had to get to work, but because I had a therapy appointment early in the morning. I had already quit my job and was in the beginning of a downward slump into a major depressive episode. My cousin had killed himself six months earlier on March 1, 2001. I was the last person in our family to have contact with him. We spoke over Instant Message, and he seemed okay. The next morning, my stepmother called me and asked me if I was sitting down. She then gave me the news that he had taken his life.

That morning, on September 11, 2001, I was about to get another rude awakening. After silencing the alarm, I turned on the radio. I always liked to listen for a few minutes before rising to a morning show in Los Angeles. The first thing I heard was a man saying, "Everyone is in line for the payphone because cell phones don't work. My friend worked on the 100th floor," he said, his voice cracking, "All I can say is God bless him."

My first thought was that there was a fire in downtown Los Angeles. A bad one. I got out of bed, knowing it would be on the news. I turned on the TV to see one of the World Trade Centers on fire, and a huge plane slamming into the other one. I was seeing a replay. It was just past 7:00 AM in Los Angeles and the second tower had just collapsed. They showed people jumping, I heard a woman sobbing, "Oh no they're jumping." Next cut, the first tower collapsing, then the second. I collapsed next, onto my knees, my face in my hands, my forehead on the floor. "Those poor people," I said. "My God those poor, poor people." I looked up at the television, a graphic across the bottom read, "Plane crashes into Pentagon." For the first time ever, I was terrified in my own apartment. When I saw the footage of the planes crashing into the towers, I could tell they were commercial jets. I also knew that no pilot, even if there was a gun to his head, would have willingly flown his airplane into those buildings. They would have fought them to the death first. And that's exactly what had happened.

My phone message was blinking, and then I remembered hearing my sister's voice while still in twilight sleep, saying something about being okay on my answering machine. She's a flight attendant for Delta, and when I played the message, realized she had called to let me know she was fine. I went to therapy, and was the one to break the news to my therapist that the second tower had fallen. She had been getting the news piecemeal from her patients and people in the building. After my appointment, I learned about the plane in Pennsylvania.

It's hard to believe it's been ten years. I've been watching the specials on National Geographic, History Channel and others because still, it's hard to grasp that it happened. And, to be honest, because part of me, the one that wants to believe in fairy tales, is hoping for another ending. For a long time, not even having been in New York or Washington DC when it happened, I suffered from what I can only call a mild post traumatic shock syndrome. I'd stay up all night, while in bed, glued to the radio. Or, get up and watch TV, trying to find out anything about what had happened. I quit looking for jobs entirely and merely existed. I was terrified to sleep for fear of waking up to something that horrible again. However, I will say that I never gave up on breaking through it. I was lucky to have not been one of those 2977 people who lost their lives that day. I always kept that in focus, that I would honor them by embracing life, even if it took some time, losing almost everything, a move across the country and completely starting over to relearn how to do it. And, that's exactly what I did and am still doing. Every time things got bad, I thought of those poor people, who weren't given a choice, and pushed through. God bless all the innocent souls who lost their lives that day. We have not forgotten. I will never forget, especially on my bad days. I remember what you lost and had to face. And then emboldened, I push through.

These are some of my posts about September 11, 2001.

December 12th, 2004 My Visit to Ground Zero in 2004. Includes picture of me there.

September 11th, 2004 America, Interrupted.

September 11th, 2002 One Year Later, and a tail of hijacked mail that got delivered.

September 8th, 2002 Before the first anniversary, thoughts of Them.

July 4th, 2002 Independence Day.

May 1st, 2002 An Unwelcome Companion.

April 1st, 2002 A Fireman's Daughter's Tales From Ground Zero.

Where were you on that day? Click on the time stamp (right next to "Posted by Anne") below to leave a comment.
It's been so long since I've posted that Blogger has changed their interface. I like this one a lot better. Much more room to write an a cleaner interface. We're having one of those gorgeous September days. Blue sky, spotted in areas with a thin layer of high clouds. Perfectly warm with a gentle breeze. I scored a table outside, where an older foreign man is talking to a younger Japanese kid in his 20s about the ills of society. I can't tell the where the man is from by his accent, but have spoken to the Japanese kid before. He's a student at the New York Film Academy, which has sort of turned our little area of Toluca Lake into an artsy college town. And I mean sort of. I've lived in college towns before. But, the students are always walking by my window on the way back and forth to the school and their apartments, and they are always filming their projects.Two groups of them live in my apartment building. One was the victim of the building psycho's torments about parking his bike next to her illegally parked big stupid scooter.Speaking of the psycho, she came into Starbucks a few days ago when I was here. I quickly turned away from her when I saw her walk in, all crazy-eyed and suffering from stage four bad hair day. Clearly having seen me, she struck up a conversation with the girl behind the counter, attempting to achieve a veil of sanity. (See?? Other people think I'm normal!!!) all while not knowing that I'd shown the picture of her rambling note and shared stories about her psycho behavior to the very barista she was talking to. Inside also was another man the psycho had accosted inside this Starbucks about where he was sitting. When he blew her off, she took his photo and posted nasty things about him on her facebook page. Of course, since she didn't have her privacy settings set correctly, I was able to access it and print it out. I gave him a copy the next time I saw him, just so he would be aware that a nut had her ray-gun eyes trained on him.

She thankfully moved out of our building months ago, which means that enough time has passed for her new neighbors to realize what a nut she is. Unfortunately, she's only a couple blocks away, but luckily, this Starbucks is the only time I've seen her since then. Hopefully it will be my last.

A couple months ago, I bought my dream chaise from a guy on Craigslist. I had first seen the chaise almost ten years ago at Kreiss furniture in West Hollywood. I've sort of held other chaises to those standards since I saw it, and couldn't believe it when I saw someone selling it online. I was able to talk the guy down to $450, because I could see from the picture that it had been through its share of wear. And, because I could tell that he really wanted to sell it. Considering the chaise new was well over $2500 ten years ago, that was a super deal. This is one of his pictures that I copied from Facebook, and there are other shots of it on my Flickr account. As you can see, the upholstery needed a good cleaning. Beautiful Kreiss Ares Chaise I bought on CraigslistHe delivered it to an upholstery cleaning place, Bobcat Carpet and Fabric Care, that I'd found on Angie's List, and I paid him for it right there. He was a really nice man, and it's always interesting to see the faces from behind the Craigslist advertisements come alive. He was happy to be rid of it, because his fiance was moving in with her furniture and he needed the room. I on the other hand, was thrilled to finally, have my dream chaise. Well, about a week later, I got a call from the upholstery cleaning place who said that the material was in much worse shape than they'd first thought, and during cleaning it had ripped. This was not their fault, it was just that the micro fiber had begun to disintegrate. It was also nothing that the man who sold it to me could have known. We were all right there when I inspected it. Bobcat recommended a reupholstery company, Roman Upholstery, a long-term business colleague of theirs, and kindly worked out a deal for me with them to only pay cost for labor. They have been in business for three generations and were experts at high-end pieces.

The upholstery I chose for the chaiseSo, I took a couple hours off work, drove down and chose the fabric. Now I'm sure that this will come as a complete surprise to anyone who has been a regular reader of this blog, but I'm incredibly picky. However, after perusing through at least 20 fabric books and reminding myself that a chaise of this size should not be of an opulent-patterned fabric, I decided on this warm color pictured at right. Luckily, they had the chaise in their workshop, so I was viewing everything in natural light. You can see the gorgeous color, grain and craftsmanship on the wood. There's not a scratch on it.

About a week ago, I got it back and am now finishing this blog post on it while Atticus lies beside me, sacked out. It is drop dead gorgeous. They did an absolutely phenomenal job and totally nailed it on every level. Flawless. I got new pillows so it's basically brand new. Total cost of the reupholstery was $1500, which also includes the fabric. Worth every penny, and it's a total solve for where to sit while I write. I did an entire freelance writing job on it, and had ample space to spread out the paper work...not to mention a couple cats who joined me. I've done away with the desk, which now has my TV on it, and have adopted the chaise as my wonderfully comfortable writing space.

I have fabric that I'd previously bought from a high-end fabric shop, and am going to have an accent pillow made from it. I laid it down on the chaise and it's absolutely stunning. I haven't been able to take a picture of the finished chaise that does it justice, so that will be coming.

Hopefully, having a comfy, relaxed and luxurious place to write will aid in my blogging more regularly.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I started this post on August 3rd, and am finishing it on August 7th.

Happy Birthday to me.

Holy birthday wishes! I think I'm up to a hundred or so, thank you very much! I'm having a great birthday today, and last night too. Or, should I say had because I'm finishing this post on August 6th. On Monday, I went to Nolan's, which funnily enough, was used as a location on this week's episode of Entourage, with Shannon and we were greeted with Celtic singers and musicians. It was a really nice vibe that night with musicians and singers sitting around a large corner table, jumbled among their instruments and drinks. Violinists, percussionists, and bag pipe players conversed in music and song as Shannon and I shared chicken fingers and fries. We toasted in my birthday at midnight and left around 1AM. I didn't want to be too tired for work the next day, and we had plans for the next night too. This is a video I took of the Celtic musicians casually playing an Irish jig.

On Tuesday, I worked a half day so I could have the afternoon off to visit my friend Becca in Beverly Hills. I got to see the awesome things that she's doing as Chief Creative Officer of Naked Princess, a stunning collection of luxury goods soon to launch. They approached me to do some writing for them on a freelance basis. Their products are incredible, with every detail considered and designed with the utmost luxury always in mind. Their offices look like a scene out of boudoir-noir 1940s Hollywood. It was great to catch up and see her again.

After that, I hopped over to Teuscher chocolates to pick up one of their imported Swiss chocolate infused blended mochas. Imagine my surprise when Angela, an incredible musician whose band, Leda Atomica, I've posted about before on this blog was there. She moonlights at Teuscher from time to time, and was facing away from me when I ordered. She recognized my voice when I ordered, and turned around and said "No charge!" What a nice surprise! She asked if I'd gotten her Facebook post to stop by. Since I hadn't been on my computer, I hadn't. Not only that, they gave me some of their world famous champagne truffles as a gift. This birthday was turning out really well.

On the way back home, I took Sunset and noticed a paparazzi crush at the very Armani Exchange where I had discovered the awesomeness of jeggings. Okay, the salesperson there had to coax me into them, promising me no camel toe disasters and that I won't look like a soccer mom trying to relive her glory days. Anyway, because I could, I pulled over and took a few photos of the crush, not expecting to get their subject. I had no idea who they were photographing, but I've always been fascinated with the frenzy that occurs because some human being is just doing what all we other human beings do. In this case, shopping at Armani Exchange. As I was taking the pictures, more paparazzi descended, including a kamikaze on a motorcycle who squealed up behind me, blocking me in. He tore off his helmet, leaped off his motorcycle and joined the fracas. A couple minutes later, their subject walked out, whom I didn't recognize, but guessed who it might be. Indeed, it was Justin Bieber, who was kind enough to make an appearance on my birthday, this making me the envy of millions of teenage girls. Here's the video I shot of him coming out of the store. As you'll see, I have not mastered the art of shooting video by phone.

Me on my Birthday, Aug. 3rdThat night, Shannon and I walked over to Olive and Thyme, a new restaurant/bistro/cafe near my apartment in Toluca Lake. We sat outside in the perfect summer early evening as dusk eased into night. I'd wanted no fuss and mellow, and this was absolutely perfect. We both had their delicious pulled tri-tip sandwich on sour dough bread, which I had with white wine and Shannon had with one of their specialty beers. He snapped a phone pic of me with the spectacular creation in front of me. If you are in the area and haven't tried this place, do it. They get the bistro deal and know how to treat their customers. I've been there twice, and they have both times been accommodating, genuinely friendly and welcoming. It's no wonder that within the first few weeks of opening, they've been getting rave reviews in the press, including this write up in Daily Candy, as well as becoming the darling of the nearby studios and neighborhood. They also are a gourmet grocery, which I have every intention of perusing next time I stop in for a coffee.

My sister sent me a box of fabulous gifts from all over the world. Being a flight attendant, her job takes her well, everywhere. From what my mom says, she picks things out for me on her travels. I was blown away. Gorgeous masks, silk pillow shams, beaded purses, a stunning shawl, and it goes on!! These were gifts from Thailand, Africa and I'll have to talk to her to see where the rest are from. Seriously, it was incredible and I can't wait to decide where to put everything.

It was an awesome birthday, and I've caught myself smiling every now and then as I've been typing this entry.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A giant cumulonimbus cloud looms over the Verdugo mountains, but the rains won't reach here. It's a tease for those of us who live in Los Angeles and love thunderstorms. It happens a lot this time of year when nature unleashes itself on the desert. Yet, every time I see one, I hold out hope that it will find the strength it needs to hoist itself over the mountains. It won't, but somewhere, someone's getting it.

My dad's painting made Etsy Finds!In some cool news, my dad, who in his retirement has really pursued his oil painting, had a neat thing happen. Long story short, for several years he's been really refining his craft, mostly painting in oils but has now branched out to pastels and other mediums. It's been really fun to watch him find his painting "voice" as well as how well he's put his marketing and business acumen and experience to work in getting his work into galleries, fishing shops (many have trout fishing as the subject) and other ways of being seen. You can view his work here. The painting on his homepage is one of my favorites, but too bad for me, it's sold! Well, as many of you know, in my quest to create my writing nook, I recently discovered the awesomeness of Etsy, and suggested that my dad place some of his paintings on there. Of course being my dad, he researched it thoroughly, learned everything he could and completed some of their online workshops. He placed 24 of his paintings on Etsy, and less than a week later, one of them was featured in an Etsy email and on Etsy Finds! I got so excited when I saw that I made quite the scene at my desk at work. You can see his Etsy shop here. Way to make an entrance, dad!

Continuing this post on Sunday, where yet another cumulonimbus cloud darkens the sky behind the mountain range. I had a nice reunion with a colleague from The Wire who is now a producer on True Blood. We had reconnected through Facebook and she suggested we get together. It was fun to touch base and we had brunch at the swanky Soho House, sitting at a table on plush couches that faced a panoramic view of Los Angeles. My latte was so thick with foam that I could have probably sculpted Devil's Tower with it. Scrumptious, as were the blueberry pancakes.

It's always interesting to see people you knew when you lived in another town and new context. There's always that five minutes of awkwardness as you adjust from who you were then and who you are now. After making it through that, we had a nice chat and it was a great change of pace for me to one, get moving around early enough to have brunch and two, meet up with someone whom I last saw in Baltimore and who was part of my Wire experience. Glad we did.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Free "Carmageddon" Champagne at the salon Carmageddon turned out to be Los Angeles on vacation. It was awesome driving around, and the city seemed to have exhaled. The politicians did their job in scaring everyone off the streets, so it was smooth sailing for those who did have to drive. I drove over the hill to get my "hair did" and even noticed a much calmer pace at the salon, where they had free Carmageddon champagne. Not a lot of people know this, but they have to do the other side of the bridge next summer. So, we get to do it all again.

I can't remember if I've updated on my weight loss, (or, my get back to fucking normal journey) but I've been maintaining for quite a while. It's been an awesome journey and I feel like my body and me are friends again and I am back to my teenage weight. Amazing at my age. The maintaining has been easy and I have plenty of treats. I was worried that the weight loss would affect my face, but it didn't. It did thin me out a little, but I didn't get sunken, and boy was I keeping an eye on that. Same goes for my ass. All those years of sports paid off. I don't want to go any lower, because ladies, as I've said before, being too thin can age you ten years at least, and ripped doesn't look good on most women over 40. The great part about all of it is just feeling normal again. And, being asked if I've been working out. Nope. Not a bit. But, I have gotten an itch to go back to ballet.

And here is a little Oliver silliness to end this post. I'm sorry I'm not more chatty, but I'm still struggling with what this blog is anymore. It's just not the anonymous purge into the webisphere that it once was. I'll figure it out. But until then, enjoy Oliver being a complete spazz. And yes, this video is playing at regular speed.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Taking Cover Behind the Couch I hope you all had a Happy 4th if you live here in the US. Poor Oliver didn't enjoy it, as when I came back from watching a fireworks show, this is where he was, hiding behind the couch. Atticus was under my bed and both indicated no signs of emerging any time soon. Scout, however, my only female cat, was on top of my bed, on her pillow, not a care in the world.

I however did enjoy it, taking a bottle of chilled white wine down the street to watch the Lakeside Country Club's fireworks show, open container laws be damned. I sat next to an old hippie/biker dude and his wife among the crowd of neighbors who gather annually for the great show. It was warm, very "4th of July" weather. A true warm summer night, which can be a rare thing in Los Angeles, as it can cool off considerably once the sun dips past the horizon.

As the fireworks exploded and boomed in the sky above, I uncorked the bottle and poured into my glass, the brilliant light reflecting off the swirling wine. I toasted our country's independence, those near and dear, and my general happiness. Things are good, in perspective and professionally going well. I tapped into my own creativity, resourcefulness and ingenuity to create a home in my apartment and even though that involved spending some money, I'm now less than 1k from being 100% debt free. I have a job where I work with a great group of people and get paid to write. And, have a fabulous boss. I know things can change for me in an instant, but in my choices to live my life my way, that's what I signed up for. So right now, I'm just enjoying the ride.

July 4, 2011 - Toluca Lake Country Club FireworksDuring the show, I took this picture with my little point and shoot Canon Elph digital. It's one of those lucky shots where timing is everything. A family was standing across the street in front of where I was sitting just as a car was about to pass, shining light on them. Being a residential neighborhood, there were few cars and I was sitting with the majority of the crowd on the street curb. I snapped this photo, and the car that I saw as an annoyance at the time ended up providing an almost cinematic lighting effect on the family watching the show.

Happy Birthday America. Here's to spending many more together.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Around 7:30 PM last Sunday, I was enjoying a quiet evening when a loud crash almost jolted me out of my chair. It was followed by a sickening scraping sound that lasted a good ten seconds.

Holy. Fuck.

I stood up and ran outside, looking up the street about 200 yards from my apartment to see what used to be an early 1990s Ford Mustang. The entire neighborhood, which was jolted into action just like I was, descended upon the scene, all of us expecting to see carnage. Thankfully, we didn't. At least, not in the human variety. The car was another story.

Car Accident on my Street

A kid who looked about eleven years old had been walking on the sidewalk with his dad, younger brother and baby sister, and told me that he'd witnessed the driver roll out the passenger side onto the street, then get up and walk over to a corner restaurant where he sat dazed and bleeding on a chair, half his left ear hanging off. The car had left a trail of debris and destruction. Completely taking out a traffic light box, which sheared off his passenger side door. He'd been traveling at around 80 miles per hour and not even applied his brakes, meaning he hadn't even seen the curb. That box could have been that family I was talking to, or anyone enjoying a summer evening walk. I resisted the urge to go over to the driver, who looked like an aging gangbanger with an impressive beer gut, and kick the reckless waste of flesh hard in the ribs. About at that point, another kid, a girl this time who looked about the same age as the boy, walked up to me and told me that driving while texting is the equivalent of driving and drinking. It was so cute, and clearly she was proud of herself for being able to recite back what she'd learned in a safety lesson at school.

This is what was left of the traffic light controller box, and part of the inside of his door that was halfway between the controller box and where the car came to a rest. Also there, before a fireman who had picked it up, was the driver's shirt.

Downed Traffic Control Box Part of the passenger door sheered off

In this photo, you can see how far the car skid. The corner is where the downed controller box is, as well as the outer passenger door. Past where the woman is pointing, about thirty more feet, is where the car finally stopped skidding.

Transformer down

In this photo, you can see where the driver hit his head and sliced his ear in half. I've highlighted the area where his blood is on the door.

Blood on the door

If this isn't a message to be attentive while driving, I don't know what is. This guy is going to be in a world of hurt both financially and legally. And frankly, he deserves to be. So many people here drive recklessly. My first year in my apartment, there was a horrific accident. Luckily for me, it was mid summer and all my fans and air conditioner were on. I heard the squeal, but not the crash. I posted about that accident, and posted some of the photos I took of the aftermath. That car ended up in the Warner Bros. lawn. I also linked to an article that explains what happens, and that the driver was charged with murder, as he should have been.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I started this entry on Memorial Day Weekend, then continued it on the weekend after. Now, it's Wednesday, June 8. But first, I must post this. On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, I stopped by Starbucks, then walked back to my car to put a package inside it. Then, I went to get a manicure in the same shopping area. Afterward, when I got into my car, I noticed this on my windshield. Usually, I'd give something like this a wind up, but it just speaks for itself:

Note Left on My Car

Contact information obscured to protect the completely guilty. I like that in case I didn't know who he was, he rendered what I'm sure is an incredible likeness of himself.

Memorial Day:

Car serviced, check. Plants, soil, trellises and ceramic pot purchased, check. So far, I've been productive this Memorial Day weekend. I plan to pot said plant, which is a winter blooming honeysuckle, tonight and set it in front of my nook window. It's a climber, and that's what the trellis is for. It will offer a little more privacy as well. I mentioned in another post that I'm making a little creative/writer's nook in my apartment. The area where I'm doing it was my desk area, and I started the whole thing by putting burlap on my walls.

IMG_3308This was my first incarnation of creating subtle tones in the area, but the idea for an actual nook, especially one in my shoebox sized apartment, came later.

As you can see, the carpeting created a design problem. At first, I added white moulding at the bottom which did wonders, but that created a problem for the seams where I'd stapled the burlap pieces onto the wall. I'd dressed up the bottom, and that called attention to the seams. After some unsuccessful tests on how to cover them, I lucked out during a trip to Michael's when I noticed they had some unfinished wood trim. Ding ding! The ideas started flowing and since it was cheap, I picked up a few patterns. I took a burlap piece to Home Depot and picked a stain I thought would work. I then bought unfinished moulding at Home Depot and removed the white, which is now leaning against the wall behind my bathroom door. I applied the stain, then installed it. Usually, I'm not a fan of darker moulding and trims, but the rustic feel of the burlap just seemed to demand it. After top, trim and bottom were in place, I installed new curtain hardware and hung Restoration Hardware curtains and sheers.

Badly lit pic of my burlap wall, right side of the alcove.Next task, was to remove the ghastly vertical blinds that came with the apartment. People, vertical blinds are a bad 80s leftover with absolutely no redeeming qualities. It is your duty to society to remove them, as maybe together we can rid the world of this blight. However, if you live in an apartment, make sure you don't damage them and that you give them to whomever takes care of maintenance, or to the landlord. And, return them with every single part included. I put all the small parts into a Ziploc bag, then removed the blinds, stacked them and taped everything to the rack. I returned both sets to the landlord, neatly packaged and easy to transport. They still hang on my bedroom window, but my curtains cover them. I'm looking to remove them from there as well, but since I live on a somewhat busy street, haven't found a solution to that nice extra barrier between me and the sporadic noise during busy times. I'm looking at noise-reducing curtains for that.

Atticus basks in sunshineClose up of rugNext, I had to solve the carpet problem, so the hunt for a neutral-colored Oriental rug began. That took a few weeks, finally settling on this rug which matched both the burlap and the curtains. Yeah, I sort of did it backward. The rug has beautiful olive and blush rose tones, and covers the entire area except a small patch before the entry into the kitchen.

As always, when you drastically change something in your decor, you expose opportunities for improvement in other areas. In this case, it was what was on the wall. I love my playbills but I wanted something more writer themed or unique. Also, the Playbills are from another period in my life, when I lived in New York City and was in college. When I think of the great divide between that person and me now, it's staggering. Being a new quest, I wanted something that signified the start of it, not where I've already been. After several unsuccessful trips to flea markets and stores to find suitable art for the area, somehow, back in the memory banks, I remembered, where I found these awesome prints on antique book pages. I picked out some frames and mattes for them, and they look wonderful with the perfect mix of whimsy, inspiration, mystery and sense of history. These came from a woman in Spain, and were delivered about a week after I ordered them.
Pictures from EtsyPictures from Etsy

After some more rearranging, these are the latest pictures of my nook.

My new file cabinet from Horchow I moved the rocking chair out of the corner to open the area up and provide a place for my new file cabinet from Horchow. Yes, that's a file cabinet. The top opens up and has file cabinet hardware. I just absolutely love it and it's perfect in the nook. I've also been working on the outside of the nook. Just outside the window, you can vaguely see a plant and trellis where I put the honeysuckle. It provides a nice barrier between me and the courtyard/pool area, which can be an eyesore. I also bought a Bose dock for my iPod because I needed a decent music player. It's on the bottom shelf of the file cabinet, where it's unobtrusive. I plan to reupholster the vanity bench and restain it. Below are more pictures of the nook. Click on them for larger images. So far, I'm really happy with the result.

Things are coming togetherPretty Lantern from Pottery Barn

Tray from Pottery BarnMy new candles

You may view even more of the nook and its progress here. I'm going to try to get some way "before" pictures, so you can see the transformation. Shannon had taken some before I even moved in when another apartment that I'd chosen during a visit to Los Angeles from Baltimore didn't work out. I've tasked him with looking through his archives, so we'll see what he comes up with. Back in Baltimore, I'd found my current apartment on Craigslist and arranged for him to photograph it so I could see it in detail before making a decision. I'll also add any pictures I dig up that document the process.

Tomorrow, I'm going to the Rose Bowl Flea Market to look for more accent pieces and decor. Not just for the nook, but for my apartment. I'm excited and hope I score some great finds.

Monday, May 23, 2011

My heartfelt condolences to those of you in Joplin, MO, which was hit by a devastating tornado on Sunday. So far, the death toll is at 116, an astounding figure. A third of the town is gone, if not more. When I was a kid, we passed through Joplin many times on our travels. If you want to have just a hint of what the terror was like, watch this video, taken by a Joplin resident as the tornado hit a convenience store that he was in. You can see just how black it is outside, and it's the middle of the day.

What I'm struck by is all these people were strangers minutes before, yet when they knew the shit was going to hit the fan, looked out for each other as if they were family and pulled together to make sure everyone had the best chance to survive as they endured the most terrifying moment of their lives.

And, here's a Flickr set of photos from a young man who photographed the destruction in his neighborhood minutes after the disaster.

I'd just posted about the rarity of tornadoes killing so many. There have been two record-breaking killer tornadoes in the last month alone. The death toll this year from tornadoes is almost at 500.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Last Saturday, I went to my friend Cody Deal's viewing party to watch his debut as the title character in The Asylum's "Almighty Thor" on the SyFy Channel. I met Cody through LA Fitness when he was working as a Fitness Pro specialist at the company. I'd asked to speak to someone regarding the personal training, and the receptionist called for "Cody," over the loudspeaker. A couple minutes later, Thor approached me and shook my hand. Tall, blonde, handsome with a physique ready for a Men's Health cover shoot, Cody instantly brought to mind the Norse god. I smiled as I thought, "Thor is signing me up for personal training. Welcome back to LA." As we talked, I learned he was from Kansas, and that there was more to him than his resemblance to the God of Thunder. Little did I know, that Cody had actually scored an audition for the role of Thor in the Paramount Pictures release and had been given a serious look from the director.

Since that meeting, I watched him literally, give up everything...and I mean everything, to pursue his craft, which included walking away from his job and immersing himself in acting classes, getting a team behind him and marketing the hell out of himself. If you've got your wits about you, Los Angeles offers a lot of opportunities to make a living...even a good one. For those of us pursuing a craft, this can be one of those "good" problems. You can support yourself, but the comforts of a steady paycheck can lure you off the path to achieving your goals. This was Cody's case--he was making good money, but it was not what he'd come here to do. So, he took that blind step off the cliff and hoped there would be water at the bottom. Watching him in Almighty Thor, it was great to see this first inception of his dream realized. Yes, the reference was intentional.

Cody Deal as Thor in SyFy's "Almighty Thor."

For those of you that aren't familiar with The Asylum films, they produce "mockbusters" that you see on the SyFy Channel. You know, the shows that have you asking aloud, "What is this?" Your answer comes in the form of The Terminators, Mega Piranha, Snakes on a Train, and so on. An Asylum film is also the only incarnation where you'll see Thor chasing his nemesis Loki down a graffiti-marked street in battered downtown Los Angeles, firing an uzi. Being a Norse god used to more primitive fighting, I give him props for adjusting to the culture in LA so quickly.

It's always a little nerve wracking to see someone you know perform. What if they are just awful and you're stuck fumbling for compliments? Thankfully, I didn't have to face that predicament. Cody hit his marks not only physically as Thor, but brought heart, sincerity and a vulnerability to the role, standing toe to toe with veteran actors like Richard Greico ('memba him from 21 Jump Street?) and Patricia Valasquez. He'd clearly researched and approached the character as complex and not just a two-dimensional muscled Visigoth wielding the Hammer of Invincibility. Many times as we watched, I'd forgotten he was right in the room with us, watching along, which is a real credit to an actor. It means that he became the character, who was different from the guy sitting on the couch across the room. A few times, we applauded a particularly emotional quality he brought to a scene that someone who had just been hired for their muscles would have stumbled through or glossed over. Simply put, he was believable, and rocked the role as Thor.

If you want to know the lengths to which Cody went to pursue his craft, read his blog, Hollywood and Beyond. Much of it he kept secret until he wrote about it there. I was pretty blown away, as I'd run into him a few times during the worst and had no idea of his circumstances. However, like all of us who have been through the worst, and those of you who have read my blog through the years know you can count me among the "been through a rough patch or two" crowd, it's how you face it, fight it, and though it may open a can of whoop ass and leave you battered, never let it get the better of you. Especially when all seems lost.

Keep an eye on this one as he's going places. Here are some TV screen shots I took of Cody in Almighty Thor while watching.

Watching Cody Deal as Thor in "Almighty Thor"

Face Off between Thor and Loki on "Almighty Thor."Cody Deal as Thor in SyFy's "Almighty Thor."

Sword fight in Almighty ThorMr. Deal is ready for his close up in "Almighty Thor."

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I don't think that people who haven't grown up in a tornado prone area know that while tornadoes are a terrifying fact of life, it's extremely rare for one to affect you directly. Tornadoes, for all their destructive power, also rarely become killers. This is because of the sophisticated Doppler radar systems, knowledgeable meteorologists and vast alert systems in place. Also, almost every house in the Midwest, South and severe weather areas have basements or storm cellars. This is why the death toll and number of huge F4 and above tornadoes in the South is really of epic proportion.

I grew up mostly in Kansas, (you know, where Dorothy is from) where severe weather is expected from around May until late September, each season kicking off with a statewide tornado drill. That meant tornado sirens blaring across the city, followed by school bells shrieking as we stood up from our desks and calmly proceeded single file down the hall into a fortified hallway or cellar, then sat in the stuffy, crowded, not well ventilated area with our backs to the wall, heads between our knees and hands crossed over our heads until the all clear bell rang. Usually, within minutes of settling in, someone cut a nasty fart which made waiting for that all clear bell a fucking eternity.

Only once do I remember having to take cover while at school for real, and while I enjoyed the time away from my desk, there was something ominous and scary about knowing that at any minute, the sky could deliver one hell of a sucker punch to where we were and there wasn't a damn thing we could do about it except hope the building holds together. During that tornado warning, we sat in a hot, humid and cramped hallway as teachers tried to keep the chain-reaction freak out from busting loose. That's when one kid freaks out and sets everyone else off. At the first sign of panic, the teachers whisked the possible light to our freak-out fuse away until he or she could get their emotions back in check.

When I was in fourth grade, our school music teacher went on a dinner theater show boat called the Whippoorwill. When the boat, loaded with about 60 passengers, left shore on Pomona Lake, the skies were clear with only a hint of darkening way off in the distance. However, storms can form quickly in the Great Plains. Before anyone knew what was happening, a small tornado formed and made a direct hit on the boat, capsizing it. My music teacher, her mother, nine-year-old-daughter and 12 other people were trapped inside and drowned. The daughter's body was found a couple days later. That year, even with that tragedy, only fifty-eight people were killed by tornadoes in the entire United States. This storm system of the last couple days has taken 300 lives, most of them in one state. The tornado that hit the Whippoorwill wasn't even an F1 tornado. The Alabama tornadoes have been F4 and F5s, some a mile wide.

To put it in perspective, an F0 tornado did this to the Whippoorwill. This is after it was towed back to shore.

At the time, I was terrified of tornadoes. And that incident affirmed every fear that I had of the big swirling finger of nature pointing down from the sky directly at me, ready to flick me across town like a gnat. Except, that time it wasn't me. It was another nine-year-old girl.

Though we'd heard about it over the weekend, I didn't know what to do when the reality of my music teacher being dead cemented when her music class remained quiet and empty on Monday. I didn't understand the behavior that surrounded death and didn't know how to act at school when the teachers sat us down to talk about it. Was I supposed to cry, walk around with my head down? Have something I needed to talk about? Pretend I was feeling something that I didn't understand? Be careful of laughing too loud during recess?

Eventually, we got a new music teacher, Mrs. Kuhns, a crotchety, oddball woman obsessed with the musical "Oliver" because she'd been in a local stage production of the classic. Any way that she could fit in a story of her playing one of the boys in the musical, she would, and some kid, believe it or not it wasn't me, would say, "You mean you didn't get the lead?" Unlike Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Kuhns, to put in nicely, didn't possess the charisma and gift of teaching music to kids. Instead, she ruled the class with harsh looks, words and humiliation. We hated her, and let it show. But, how does one come into a class that had their teacher killed by a tornado? Certainly, not the way she did. But, that's a story for another time.

You can learn about the Whippoorwill disaster here and here.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Thanks to the awesome Capt. Dave for letting me know that I had no email link up! I'm still learning how to tweak this template and didn't know I'd cut everyone off! And here I was why don't they write? ;)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Holy shit, did I really start this post on March 22nd? Oh well, so here it is on April 1st.

St. Patrick's Day is always fun at Nolan's, our local Irish Pub within walking distance. It's become a yearly tradition with Shannon, me, any friends that want to come along and any that become friends at the bar. It was full and people were tapping into their Irish roots, whether they had any or not. Most precious were a Moroccan fellow and his Indian friend, whom we met last year and toasted a few over hilarious conversation. They were dressed in their Irish green, a testament to that on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is Irish. Though it wasn't as crowded as last year, since I think they cut down the number of people to have in the bar at one time, it was still packed. I made my way to the jukebox through a solid wall of people and became stuck in a bottleneck. My dollar gripped in my hand, I showed a couple of girls who were too timid to plow through the people how to get through with firm, but polite maneuvering. My plan almost backfired when the bottleneck occurred, and it became so tight I almost lost my shirt when my body was going one way, and my shirt clung to the behemoth's back who was going the other. However, I inhaled just enough to squeeze through, modesty intact and get Mumford and Sons going over the speakers.
Shannon and Me St. Patrick's Day 2011

It was a fun time and we left before closing. It was a school night, and since mornings and I usually square off toe to toe everyday, I wanted to be rested for the fight.

I've been creating a nook in my apartment, solely for writing. I've been dolling up an area just for the total peace of writing or creating. I'm probably going to do away with my desk, and replace it with a chaise lounge. I opened the can of worms when I put burlap on my wall, and my mom asked about the seams, which had always bothered me too. She was thinking of a fabric solution, but once I got into research, I discovered wood trim, which I stained a golden brown color and nailed it over the seams. Gorgeous. I also bought moulding from Home Depot and stained that the same color, then installed it on both the floor and ceiling. Next, I removed the ghastly vertical blinds in the living room and dining nook windows and bought a set of gorgeous Restoration Hardware silk curtains, sheers and nice curtain rods. Once those were all up, they looked fantastic. However, they highlighted the ugly floor, for which I've been searching for a solution. So, after much searching, as I'm very picky, I bought a gorgeous Oriental rug last week, which should be delivered sometime this week. Last, I got solar shades which hang inside the window frame. My neighbor was kind enough to help me install them after I threw my hands up in defeat. I'd thought it an easy task after the swear tirade inducing curtain rod installation that I'd just been through. Who knew the shades would prove the real adversary.

The next things on my list are a room divider. No, not a cheap dormroom Shoji screen, but a NICE room divider to hide the kitchen and enhance the nook feeling. I live in a small, what I would call starter apartment. It does have some character, but it's not a showplace. However, I've made it a home with nice furniture, art on the walls and disguising it cleverly. What I don't have however, is a nook. And, with some ingenuity, I can create something that's akin to a creative hideaway, conducive to writing, reading or whatever. The room divider will be easy to move back when I need to enter and exit the kitchen. Will it make me more productive? No guarantees. But, it will be a nice space for me. And yes, pictures will be posted once I'm finished.

My coffee table came this week, or I picked it up that is, and my oriental rug is here, so I'll pick that up tomorrow. The coffee table looks gorgeous. Pics will come, and I'm eager to see the "foundation" of my nook in its place.

I made the jump and bought an iPhone 4. This was just after I bought an iTouch 32 Gig iPod. Considering my last iPod was a lime green Mini, (I just couldn't part with the thing) it was about time. I've been enjoying playing with apps, like Instamatic, which is what I used to take this far out 70s style photo of myself.

Lots more, but it's time to hit "publish post" or another weekend will pass without a blog entry.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Oh man, just had one of those funny neighbor things happen. We have a nutcase in our building who has been waging a war with another neighbor because she thinks he parks his bike too close to her stupid big, cumbersome gas-filled fire hazard of a scooter in the common area. Mind you, she also puts a can of gas next to it which she chains up with everything. She never asked anyone if this was okay, just did it. Everyone in the building, and at the local Starbucks avoids her because well, she's an unstable, passive-aggressive whack. She walks with a rigid, always ready to defend body and looks at you with wide and crazy eyes set inside a bird-like face perched upon a stiff neck. Another neighbor, whom I'll call A, and I learned how psycho she was when I told her someone had stopped by her apartment when she was gone. She tensed up and commanded, "I don't want anyone knowing where I live! You see anyone come to my door, tell them to GO FUCK THEMSELVES!!" And here I had just been expecting a simple thank you. She then walked around for a half hour, looking for the culprits.

Another neighbor, not the one who witnessed her congenial suggestion that I take toward her unannounced visitors, (I'll call her B) and I were talking when the nut spotted the object of her wrath, a Russian college student, parking his bike next to her scooter. He's a nice film student who lives across from me and is a good neighbor. The nut was in her bathrobe, hair wet, and approached him, pointing to a piece of her tail light on the ground. She grunted, "How do you think that happened, huh?" Her face was pressed into a pile of towels she'd just folded in the laundry room, and she wouldn't make eye contact. She continued, "How do you think that happened huh? Right there, that. How do you think that happened? Huh?" She continued to antagonize him, even illustrating her point by kicking the piece of tail light across the courtyard. He barely acknowledged her and went to his apartment. B and I stood there stunned. A couple weeks later, the first note appeared, telling him to move his bike because it was well, in "her way." He didn't.

Tonight, she struck again. I learned when yet another neighbor, we'll call her C, knocked on my door, snickering. She said, "Did you see it?" When she saw that I clearly hadn't, she said, "You gotta come see this." She pointed toward the bike, and I saw the silhouetted scroll, on the Russian kid's bike. "Oh shit," I said, joining in the snickerfest, then put on a jacket and walked toward the bike. I saw this, minus my editorial comments:

The psycho neighbor note Needless to say, I knocked on the window of two other neighbors, a married couple, and motioned for them to come outside. As we stood there laughing at the note, we heard a door open, slowly...from the direction of her apartment.

And that's when we panicked. I bolted and slammed right into the husband, and him into me. His wife darted toward another apartment and the neighbor who had called me outside teleported via light speed to her door, big Tupperware of lentil soup still cradled in her arm. It. Was. Hilarious. Grown adults running like little kids who had just been delivered the scare-tactic punch at the end of a spooky campfire story. Except in our case, it was the wife's brother who had innocently ambled outside to see what the fuss was about and we were terrified it was the boogeyman neighbor coming to get us.

Perhaps I should leave a nightlight on tonight...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Just woke up from an early bedtime, felt tired at 8:30pm, so I went with it and dozed off with the lights in the living room still on. Woke up, saw it was 2:20 AM, so I got up to turn off the lights. Saw my Blackberry blinking, so checked it. Two friends had texted me about the horrible tsunami and quake devastation in Japan. Absolutely tragic.

One works at a Japanese company. I'm sure it will be emotional there tomorrow with a lot of scared people. A tsunami warning has been issued for Santa Monica, but if anything hits it should be small waves.

So very sad and awful, and our hearts are with you Japan, as well as our sorrow.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Yes, it snowed in Burbank today. Snowed! This is video I shot inside my car, and you'll have to pardon my annoying commentary but I was pretty amazed!

Monday, February 21, 2011

After Starbucks, it was around 7pm and I decided to give this weekend's sales one more shot. I drove to Nordstrom Rack which sits in a shopping center of big stores, including Best Buy, Michael's, Lowe's, Target and so on. The sales had pretty much sucked, being nonexistent or really chintzy. My main goal was to get a pair of curtains and rods from Restoration Hardware, but that's another story.

Dogs rescued from the street

The road to the shopping center goes by the Burbank Animal Shelter and runs alongside the train tracks. It was upon passing the shelter that I saw two small dogs, scared, confused and frantic, run out into the road. I honked, traffic slowed, and I pulled over. As I backed up, I saw one of them go for the street again, her little body back lit by car headlights. I breathed in as I was sure I was going to witness something horrible. Thankfully, an SUV had also stopped and a woman passenger got out to help, leaving her door open. This alerted the other drivers that something was wrong. I walked into the street to where the little tan dog was, and luckily, she came right to me when I called her. As I stuffed her into my car, I saw that she'd clearly just had puppies or was pregnant. The woman who had jumped out of the SUV was chasing the other dog toward the shelter. I jogged up the entrance ramp to the shelter, but then realized I was too far away and got back into my car. When I backed up to where she was, she had the other dog clutched to her chest.

"Well done!" I said. She looked out of breath and scared. I learned that she had actually thought the dogs were mine and had jumped from the car into traffic. How nice of her to stop and help! I told her that I saw them running into the street and figured some asswipe had dumped them. I told her that I'd make sure the dogs would get to the shelter, which was closed, and if not, then I had another option. The people at Petmania run an awesome adoption program. She couldn't take them, as she had a dog. For those of you that read this blog, it's obvious why I couldn't take them. She handed the dog to me, and I now had two little warm bodies huddled against me, hearts racing. However, they were clearly tame dogs who had been around people and very glad to be off the streets. The cruelty, stupidity and callousness of people just amazes me. How could that man think dumping them outside a shelter was humane and safe?!

By then, another man, who had been filming for his documentary on the trains, saw the whole thing and came over. "You rock," he said. He'd also witnessed the guy who had dumped them, and at first thought he'd left the "after hours" cages unlocked and they'd escaped. The thing is though, the shelter and police work together, and to get the cages unlocked, you have to call the Burbank police. The guy made the call for me and we waited for the police to arrive. While we were waiting, he took the picture of us at the top of the post. Blurry, but you can see the adorable angels.

The police showed up and opened the cages, then put the dogs inside together. The cages are in a bus shelter type structure, and there is food, blankets and water inside. The female cop compassionately put another blanket over the door of the cage to provide security and further protect them from the cold. They took my name, and that of the man who had called. The male policeman told me that the shelter has top rate security cameras, so hopefully they got the license plate of the man who illegally and cruelly dumped the dogs. Whether they will pursue anything, I don't know. I'm going to call tomorrow to check on their welfare. And, see if I can get them into the Petmania program.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I just gave this poor soul $20. Woman, prob in her 60s, sitting on the street
knitting, she had horrible deformities on her face, and extreme discoloration,
purple and pink. You couldn't NOT stare. She was tucked in a small alcove
against the Saks Men's store. I passed her and of course, her being used to the
looks, felt my gaze and looked up. Her yellow lab sleeping by her. She smiled at
me and said, "Hello there." I didn't flinch from her and greeted her back, then
went along my way. Suddenly, shopping wasn't as attractive. On my way back to my
car, I was hoping she'd still be there. She was, and I gave her the $20. "Well
thank you very much!!!" She said. I told her to take care, and she told me to as
well. Bless her heart.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I had a nice surprise this last week. I lost just under three pounds which brought me to weighing in my one-teens, a weight that I haven't seen on the scale for well, like ever. I think the last time I weighed in my teens was in my early/mid twenties. It was a little shocking, because I'd just continued on my normal track, and wasn't trying to lose any weight, just to maintain. Shocked the hell out of me when I got on the scale, and provided the answer of why my pants were falling down more than usual. I'd already made my goal, so this put me under it.

For those of you that may find this alarming. Don't. This happened with me indulging a few times this week, and still eating as I regularly do. I don't want to lose too much weight and will be making sure that doesn't happen. I think this is my metabolism having adjusted, as well as my eating habits. I eat more times a day and smaller portions. However, this little surprise brought my total weight loss up to 26 pounds. This has been such an wonderful process, to see my body adjusting positively and still get to life a normal life. Like I said, now that I'm at my goal weight, I indulge, but I guess it's how I indulge that's made the difference.

So, cool.

We have a three day weekend coming up, and I'll be hitting the sales. I went to the Barney's New York Warehouse sale last week at the LA Convention Center downtown. I stopped by the accessories table and was looking at a Miu Miu scarf when I felt a light touch on my right arm just below my shoulder, almost like a ghost's fingers on my skin. I looked up and saw a woman across from me who was working the sale. She looked at my arm and her eyes widened to two large saucers. She said, "Oh girl, don't move."

For some reason unknown to me, I remained calm. "What is it?" I knew that whatever it was, it was alive. I asked again, "What. Is. It?" Just then, I felt another brush on my shoulder.

"It just flew away, but it was big. Some bee or something. Big black and yellow stripes, would'a been the ambulance if it stung you kinda big."

When she described it further, I realized it wasn't a bee, but a hornet or yellow jacket. Glad I didn't see it, because my adrenaline would have shot up even more, perhaps alerting it and triggering a sting. Not what I'd come to get at the sale. But, I did end up buying the scarf.

I also finally bought my first Apple touch screen product, with the 32 meg iTouch. I have a Blackberry, and wasn't ready to make the jump to an iPhone yet. I absolutely love the iTouch and have been exploring on it and downloading apps. I even bought a dock so I can listen to my audiobooks at night on a decent set of speakers. It's the coolest thing. It has a two-way camera lens. With one tap, I can change which way the camera shoots video or a picture, away from me or toward me. I discovered that by accident. Sure, I could RTFM, but what's the fun in that?