Tuesday, November 30, 2004


Okay, so first let me go on record as having thought of this prior to it being used as a storyline in Desperate Housewives. "This" being the use of Ritalin to bring more focus and discipline into my life. The woman on Desperate Housewives uses it to keep up with her kids, obviously buying into the belief that children don't really need Ritalin, it's just a way for schools to keep them drugged and pharmaceutical companies to stay profitable. I do think that over medicating has happened and does happen, but those kids on that show are like birth control. I totally understand why she ran away from home at the end of Sunday's episode. But anyway, since I don't have kids I've been looking for Ritalin via friends who do. And I finally scored some.

I was a little nervous to take it because I'm very sensitive to stimulants, ex. two cups of coffee make me shaky and nauseous. But I'm really struggling with my ability, or rather my lack of ability to focus and complete tasks when it comes to writing. Up until today I would write an idea down and then save it and go do something else. And then something else. And then another something else. And when I got to work, no matter how much sleep I had as soon as I sat down I was overcome with lethargy and unable to get anything done. I'm currently working on a script and my goal is to write one scene a day, and I've been doing that, but when I'm not focused nothing comes so I've been writing one crappy scene a day and that kind of defeats the purpose.

This morning I got my little yellow pill out and drank it with a full glass of water per all the research I did on the internet. This is a time release pill which is supposed to last for 8 hours. I took it about 8 hours ago and I've yet to feel jittery. And I wrote a kick ass scene effortlessly. And completed something I promised to a friend over a month ago. And did a little quick research for another friend and sent her the links. And my legs are shaved perfectly - no missed spots or nicks.

I'm not really hungry, but I can still eat and I have been eating because I feel like crap if I don't. That's not necessarily a negative side effect for me. I usually eat out of boredom and I'm not feeling bored. I am feeling incredibly engaged in everything I do. I have really dry eyes and I feel like I'm on the verge of a bloody nose, but I think that's more to do with the fact that the heat is on really high and the area around my desk is like the hotbox in the Yuma Territorial prison. Normally when this happens I sit slumped over, fighting for oxygen and desperately trying not to fall asleep. Oh, and I also get a little panicky. Today though, I just keep getting up and opening the door to let the outside air in - it's about 60 degrees outside so that's pretty brisk. I'm all about the solution and not the situation.

And I'm also wondering if perhaps I haven't had a touch of ADD my whole life? I was "disruptive" in class because I couldn't stop talking to the cute boys who sat near me. And perhaps because in tests given by the school I was determined to be a "gifted" child my inability to focus on what was going on in the classroom was chalked up to boredom. Or the fact that I've been boycrazy since I was six. Was I bored and easily distracted? - why yes I was. But today many children who test in the gifted zone are also diagnosed as AD/HD. It's how I got my pills.

The kid who's pills I pilfered is a super smart kid. She also gets bored and easily distracted and has been disruptive at school. Her mom has resisted the idea of medication and explored every other available option and therapeutic modality. The reality is that when she takes the Ritalin she's able to stay on task, to be connected, and in her words, "her brain doesn't hurt." She has an easier time dealing with other kids who tend to reject her when she's acting out. She can have friends. I have spent time with her when she's opted not to take her pill and she's a different kid, completely disconnected and not much fun to be with.

We had to be separated because we kept getting into it.

I didn't have social problems when I was a kid, but I definitely didn't work up to my potential in school. I don't necessarily condone the medicating of children, but I think that there are definitely cases where the biochemistry is off and the drug will benefit. I know a young man who's mom never took him for assessment for ADD and at 21 he's been having a hard time in school. Since his doctor put him on Ritalin he's been getting through his school work with no problems. He's having success where before he was failing.

Am I one of those cases? Probably not, but there is a noticeable difference in my ability to focus and get things done. I'm not tweaky or speedy or any of the other symptoms that I get from stimulants like Ephedra. I'm thinking I should get some more of this Ritalin to keep on hand for when I'm so frustrated by inability to get anything accomplished I'm languishing in a puddle of self defeat. I'm just sayin.

Of course, if I can't go to sleep tonight I'll be singing a different tune.

Monday, November 29, 2004


Woke up Thursday morning and ate five chocolate chip cookies for breakfast. I had actually turned some of that cookie dough into cookies and I had to test them. Then I did 30 minutes of cardio, took a shower and left about noon for South Orange County and my stepsister Susan's house.

When I arrived everyone was over at the park playing football - a family tradition - except for Nana and mom who were watching the Dallas/Chicago game. I joined them - another family tradition.

About 3:00 everyone came back from the park and took showers and we prepared to eat the big meal. There were 17 of us total, once my brother arrived. Thanksgiving dinner was turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry jelly, zucchini casserole, salad, creamed onions (yet another family tradition) and rolls. We sat down to eat about 3:50 and finished eating about 4:10pm.

At about 5:00pm we turned on the disco and started to dance - yes, you guessed it, another family tradition. The entire family was up on their feet for Y-M-C-A, and then my stepsister Susan and I resurrected the Pony and the Jerk for Mony, Mony. After that interlude we had pie an event that resembled a host of locusts descending on an unsuspecting pumpkin patch. The pie was too close to the sink filled with soapy water and it slipped in and got washed. We rinsed it off and it was good as new.

More dancing.

I was home on the couch nursing a migraine by 9:00pm. Had wakeful sleep all through the night and decided that I really need to assess my sugar issue. It's just not worth it. Woke up about 9am and called to get directions to Rancho Las Lomas in Santa Ynez. Peg, Ron and Emily were there for Thanksgiving with her family and they had driven down with Ben their 70 pound Golden Retriever puppy. I started my day with a heart friendly egg white omelet. No sugar. Took off about 10:30 and arrived a little after 1pm. For some reason traffic was crawling between Thousand Oaks and Ventura. Like 10m.p.h. crawling. It took forever.

I handed off Emily's birthday presents that I didn't take to Disneyland with me the previous weekend because they really didn't need to haul back 20 Nancy Drew books circa 1968 on the airplane. She also got a Word-A-Day calendar because Em likes words as much as I do. Peg and I headed into Solvang to run a couple errands and then we were going to go have a snack.

I had never been to Solvang. It's kind of like Disneyland only with a lot more tchochke shops. We decided not to have a snack there because it was full of tourists so we headed over to Los Olivos. As we drove past all the wineries it occurred to me that THIS is where the movie Sideways took place. I recently saw Sideways after I found out that the guy that wrote it based the characters on Julian and Roy whom I know from Extreme Winetasting. I have never wine tasted in Central California but I'm seriously going back to do so. Los Olivos is a cute little town that will probably be overrun when the movie gets nominated for an Academy Award, and I'm predicting it will. It's that good.

Had dinner with the family up at the Rancho and then headed home. I rolled in about 11:30 and fell into bed exhausted. I had driven over 400 miles in the last 2 days.

Saturday was all about cleaning the house. It was raining and cold outside so that worked out well. Saturday night I got dressed up and went up to the HOB on Sunset to see Matt's band Wax Apples open for The Blasters and X. The bartender made me a very delicious margarita and the Apples started promptly at 8pm and rocked their set. The sound at the HOB is great. I stood too close to the speakers and had a bit of deafness in my left ear by the time they were done. So I got a second margarita so I wouldn't think about it.

I lost my friends and wandered up to the Foundation Room to look for them. Gale force winds were blowing on the smoling porch outside - I wasn't sure if I was drunk or if the wind was just really strong. It was probably a little bit of both because I am a lightweight when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Anything after one and a half drinks is a pretty serious buzz. I eventually made my way back downstairs and found my peeps whose numbers had grown to include Dave who I met at the last Wax Apples/X show. Dave is cute. Dave is a paramedic who has a masters degree in philosophy. Dave wanted to make out and I thought "why not". It was fun. Because he's cute. And smart. And we were both buzzed so it was a lot like making out at the high school dance. Before he ran off to get his place in the mosh pit he said, "thanks for making out with me." Dave is also polite. At the end of the evening Dave was removed from the premises by security because he didn't have the gold sparkly wrist band required to get up to the Foundation Room and he kept making a run for the elevator. Dave doesn't handle his liquor all that well. Those of us with the sparkly wrist bands went up to X's dressing room and hung out until it was quite late. I got home about 1:00am and didn't wake up yesterday until 10:30!!!

I was that tired! I never sleep that late unless I'm sick or exhausted.

Yesterday I did nothing. I wore my big snuggly robe and laid on the couch in my clean house napping with Pete and Molly all day. It was a perfect day.

And that's the weekend in a nutshell.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Thus far this week has been pretty much craptastic. On Monday, still sporting a migraine, I got to work and realized that my ID had gone missing. This necessitated much effort to get a drive-on and a parking permit, blah, blah, blah. And since my keys to the office were attached to the ID I then had to contact security to get into my office. Big sigh. I am having to consider the possibility that I am coming down with something because my nose is running and my throat hurts - but it could be allergies, even though there's a part of me that refuses to believe that I have allergies. Last night I went to try on a pair of boots that I've been coveting and after deciding that, Yes!, I do like them, I discovered that they're no longer on sale and thus I am back in the decision making process. They are no longer a "deal." This morning I packed my gym bag and went to the gym and worked out and when it came time to get dressed I realized that I grabbed the wrong sweater. I grabbed the sweater with no sleeves, although it does have a turtle neck THANK GOD, because it is bone achingly cold today. At least for the California bred it is. I know people in Chicago can tell me all about cold, but still, while my breasts and neck are toasty, the rest of me is hanging out and it's freezing. But this is all just whining and fussing so I am consciously turning my attention to all that I am thankful for - and it is much.

Because I am abundant, when I choose to acknowledge the fact.

I am thankful for my family and friends who are just the absolute best people around. I am thankful for my connection with these people which supports me through good times and bad and for all the laughter that we share. I am thankful for Pete and Molly, my fuzzy buddies, who keep me company and make sure that I never oversleep (and that's a real perceptual stretch), I am thankful for good neighbors who make my home a loving place of community. I am thankful for all the great kids in my life whom I love and delight in - and because they're not mine my experiences with them are all pretty much consistently wonderful. I am thankful to have known and loved those who are no longer here with me because the loss of them has made me stronger in my faith that we are eternal. I am thankful for employment that affords me health insurance and the luxury of time to pursue my own course (when I'm not busy procrastinating) and the blessing of working with someone whom I not only greatly respect as a talent, but whom I also count as a friend. I am thankful to have fallen in love more than once, and to have a heart that heals without too much scar tissue when it's broken. I am thankful for a whole and healthy body that moves effortlessly and without too much pain as I age. I am thankful for Frova and Ambien - better living through chemistry! I am thankful for the ability to integrate new practices into my life and for the awareness of what works and what doesn't. I am thankful for the ability to have compassion and understanding that everyone is different and working things out in their own way and to give them the space to do so, just as I am thankful when people do the same for me. I am thankful for forgiveness both given and received for it is the only road to peace in my own life. I am thankful for my faith that we are all unique manifestations of one amazing and divine energy - all of us - even George Bush and his badly misguided cabal. I am thankful for the knowledge that when I sit in judgment of others I invite it into my own life and I am my own harshest critic. I am thankful for the unlimited opportunities provided by my life to learn and to practice focus and discipline, love and compassion for myself and others.

Oh! And I'm so thankful for four days off!!! Woohoo!

I am so thankful for all of this and so much more.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


I was writing to a friend this morning about how last year, at this time, I had an insane migraine that lasted days and days, it was the reason I finally saw a neurologist. I wanted to rule out brain tumor or aneurism. I was reflecting on what was going on last year that might've contributed to the extremely long duration of that experience. I was mentally going over all the various triggers: hormones, red wine, barometric pressure changes, sugar.


When I was at Disneyland on Saturday I was somewhat restrained, but I did eat sugar. More than I usually do at any rate. Lately it's been no sugar at all and on Saturday I had beignets, french toast and syrup, caramel popcorn and the thing that probably put me over the edge - cotton candy - which is PURE SUGAR!

On Sunday the only thing I accomplished was a trip to the grocery store to buy the ingredients for the dessert I am making for Thanksgiving, in addition to the pies I will be purchasing. And since there are some members of my family who don't like pumpkin, or pie, or any combination of the above, I whipped up some oatmeal chocolate chip cookie dough. I put it in the freezer until tomorrow night when I will have time to make the cookies. That is if there's any dough left. Because I have pretty much been consuming it a spoonful at a time since I made it.

And my migraine isn't going away!

Say it with me here, "DUH!"

The fact that I've identified the culprit may or may not motivate me to take my hand out of the cookie dough. I have been known to be helpless in the presence of sugar. One of the best illustrations of the power it has over me would be the time I came home from high school on a Friday afternoon and, even though we were going out to dinner in a couple of hours, I wolfed down two huge brownies from a plate that was sitting on the counter.

They didn't even taste that good. They tasted bitter and actually kind of nasty. But I ate them anyway because they were chocolate brownies. My mom and dad came home and collected my brother and I and we went out to El Toro, a mexican restaurant that we ate at frequently. It's one of those places that is dark with red pleather booths, lots of wrought iron and red glowing candles covered in white mesh.

As we sat down I noticed that my eyes were having a really hard time adjusting to the light and it was hard to read the menu. That was really no problem though because I got the same thing I still get in those kinds of restaurants - two shredded beef tacos (I'm so screwed if this mad cow thing turns out to be a real issue). After we ordered I consumed two bowls of chips by myself and laughed uproariously at pretty much everything everyone said, including the waitress who said, "what would you like to drink?" I could not tell you anything about the conversation at the table but it was just hilarious.

When dinner arrived I ate not only my tacos, but anything that mom, dad and Jim weren't quick enough to finish. I could not understand why I was sooooooo hungry. My mom started bitching at my brother about "those brownies" and how he should get rid of them.

What brownies? The brownies on the kitchen counter?

Turns out that my brother had made a batch of pot brownies the night before - you know, just for fun. I gasped and told them that I had eaten TWO of those brownies before we went to dinner and my mom was all, "Susan! Two! Before dinner?" My brother and I started laughing and pretty much couldn't stop. My mom was pissed and my dad just shook his head.

And when we got home I went to the kitchen and had another one for dessert.

Because sometimes, even knowing that it's gonna mess with me, I go ahead and do it anyway.

Monday, November 22, 2004


On Friday night I left work and didn’t stop going until Saturday about 10:30pm. I did have a brief lay down between 1am and 5:30am, but I don’t really count that as rest because it was wakeful sleep, as in I could’ve sworn I was awake the whole time.

Friday began with a little extreme wine tasting. This is a super fun event that my friend Liz has at her club The Echo, once a month. The master of ceremonies is an English gentleman named Julian Davies who knows a lot about wine and ties it all up with facts and fictions most amusingly. Friday night’s event was tied into the 77 Songs of John Berryman, but the people around me were talking so loudly I never really got the connection.

We tasted a Viognier (too sweet for me, but nonetheless tasty) and a Roussane (I have no idea if that’s how you spell it, but it could just called the super oaky white that we did not like). Then it was three Zinfandels and a Syrah. There was a secret seventh wine that was also a Zin and damn, it was good, but I can’t say much beyond that. This is extreme wine tasting because it is a bottomless pour, e.g. you can taste, oh, about 3 glasses of each wine if you like. And get extremely drunk. I did that the first time I went and now I know better.

And since I was going to go to Disneyland the next day for Emily’s 9th birthday celebration I figured I should proceed with caution. I ate a full meal before departing and I didn’t actually finish a taste, except for the #4 Zinfandel, I had 3 glasses of that because it was really yummy. Didn’t yet know about the #7, or I would’ve saved some of my alcohol quotient for more of that.

We were supposed to be tasting downstairs in the basement, but at the very last minute the ABC wouldn’t give a permit to serve liquor down there, so we were out on the Aimee Semple MacPherson memorial terrace, so named because the back patio of the Echo sits directly below the glowing blue cross atop the spire of her historic church. The patio is festively bedecked with christmas lights, but my friend April says it reminds her of the yard at a penitentiary. And it kind of does, but that’s why I like it. When the police helicopter with it’s blinding white searchlight began circling overhead it just added to the surreal ambience of the whole wingding.

This ain’t no Weststide wine tasting.

The Echo is mostly a place to go see bands, and a lot of the shows are 18+. Indeed the crowd who came to hear music was definitely in high school or just out. And I think they were all on drugs. I was returning from one trip to the bathroom when a little boy in front of me turned around quickly and almost walked into me. His eyes were wide in his white face which glowed under his Peruvian hat, the kind that are so popular with snowboarders. Alex said she thought he was on drugs. I thought he was scared because he thought I was his mother.

Later on as we were walking through the club to leave, her claim that he was on drugs gained more credence when we walked through the throng amassed around the stage all swaying back and forth to the muted sounds that this guy was pounding out of his synthesizer. It sounded like trance polka music since the only instrument we could identify was a xylophone. I couldn’t help but wonder if there’s some new drug that kids are taking that would make that music sound... like something... or even loud. I don’t know if I’ve just gotten really old, or if it was just really bad and all those kids were extremely high – because I didn’t get it. We walked out of there with a wha....? look on our faces and the bouncer at the door said as we passed, “Thank you! You look exactly like I feel.” So I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get it.

Got to bed about 1am and I don’t know if I was just so excited to get to Disneyland, or scared I wouldn’t wake up in time, but I don’t think I ever achieved REM sleep. Consequently I woke up in the morning and had, what I thought was a tiny little hangover. Just a slight dull throbbing in my left temple. I got out the door about 8am and arrived at Disneyland by 9 – just in time to head out for our character breakfast and the Paradise Pier. Emily and Madeline had autograph books and special pens, that no doubt cost $15 each, so that they could collect Lilo, Sitch, Minnie and Pluto’s autographs.

The girls were so excited to hug the characters and get their pictures taken with them. The night before Madeline had said, “only babies do that,” as they were on their way to dinner at Goofy’s kitchen. Ten minutes later she was up on stage doing the Macarena with Mickey Mouse. There were three grown women at a table near ours and they were getting even more excited than the kids were. I was fearing for the life of the guy in the Sitch outfit – they were all over him. At first I thought perhaps they were “special” but when I put on my glasses I realized that they were Japanese tourists.

Peg and I both grew up in SoCal and had both been to Disneyland numerous times when we were Emily’s age, or even younger. Things were always expensive but now they’ve found even more ways to get money out of moms and dads. And there were lots of them there on Saturday! The park is celebrating Christmas already so people were out in force, thousands and thousands of them. And they all had kids and strollers. They have that new “Fast Pass” deal so you don’t have to stand in line, but if you put your ticket in for fast pass at say noon, you can’t come back until between 2:30 and 3:30, and you can’t go get a fast pass for anything else. So what do you do? You spend A LOT more time in the retail shops spending money on crap. As the day progressed the little throb over my left eye started to get worse. Thinking I was possibly having a sinus headache I took some Tylenol Sinus.

We climbed up into Tarzan’s Treehouse (used to be Swiss Family Robinson treehouse back in the day) and I decided to use the numerous flight of stairs as an opportunity to work out so I took them two at a time. I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that I had done a fairly heavy workout on my legs the day before. I also hadn’t really had any water to drink and it was now after noon. Consequently by the time I was climbing down the stairs on the other side I was having severe leg cramps.

The rest of the day was an increasing chorus of pain. We went to a place called Build-A-Bear on the Disney City Walk. Here one takes an empty stuffed animal, which is filled for you at a machine full of stuffing, and then you pick out clothes and go to a computer and name it and register that name. Next up is the cash register where you fork over about $40 for your stuffed animal. Apparently kids love this. And so do Japanese tourists.

I got to see the Grand California Hotel which is pretty damn grand. It’s the hotel that they built around California land, or whatever theme park #2 is called. The whole thing is done Mission style a la Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s reminiscent of the Biltmore in Phoenix, which is absolutely beautiful. It’s as expensive as the Biltmore too. After cruising around Disney city walk and California land et al., we went to dinner.

I thought food would make me feel better, but it didn’t. Still I persevered and headed to the rocket ships with Emily, Madeline and Peggy. The little girls wanted to go together so Peg and I decided to share a rocket. And maybe 10 years ago that might’ve worked but our butts are bigger now. As we struggled to wedge ourselves in, the 17 year old cast member who was running the ride came over to tell us that he had an empty rocket right behind and maybe we’d like our own rockets. At this point we were howling with laughter and he had to help us get unwedged.

I turned to watch Peg get into her rocket and noticed that right behind her our intrepid ride operator was now helping an old Indonesion woman, who looked to be about 95, her face was completely impassive her mouth turned down so that it looked like an ancient mask. She was wearing a light blue scarf that was tied under her chin and her passenger was most likely her daughter who was 75 if she was a day. The kid was trying to explain to them how to make the rocket go up and down as they struggled to get settled. At this point Peggy and I have tears streaming down our faces we’re laughing so hard. As the ride took off we were both turned around watching these women, neither of whom cracked a smile as they rode the rocket around and around in a circle, never going up or down, the blue head scarf snapping in the wind.

We were gasping by the time we got off the rockets and headed over to Small World. They were setting up for the Christmas Parade so of course we got trapped in Fantasy land. Not the land I want to be trapped in with, what I was starting to realize was a migraine. We rode on small world which looks so old and tired now although the dolls all had clean outfits on. The cardboard flowers and snowflakes all looked so hokey although I do remember being about 5 and thinking that it was all so amazing. There was a little tiny girl behind us, who was about 2 and it was fun to watch her face. We all sang and Emily was mortified.

After small world we hung out by the wishing well where the waterfall of turquoise water tumbles over fake boulders. Or rather I did. By myself. At this point I was starting to get nauseated and all the people and the smells and that song that they play over and over again as the parade passes by, it was all starting to get to me. So I parked it on the bench by the wishing well and ignored the couple that was having an emotional moment over by the waterfall. I swear to God, I think this guy proposed to his girlfriend, and I think I probably ruined their private, intimate moment by flopping down right in the middle of it. I was somewhat mortified, not for interrupting, I mean there were literally hundreds of people standing around, but because it’s freaking Disneyland! Who proposes at Disneyland?

After the parade we were heading back to Tomorrowland so everyone could drive the cars on Autopia and when the smell of whatever fuel they’ve got those things running on hit me I knew I was going to puke. So I had to say a quick goodnight and find a trashcan in an out of the way place. I jumped on the monorail and made my way back to the Disneyland Hotel where my car was parked and barely made it home before it started to pour.

I woke up yesterday morning to smell of woodsmoke and since I had just turned my heat on I got a brief adrenaline rush thinking that my house was on fire. But it wasn’t mine it was someone around the corner. I jumped out of bed and my leg muscles shrieked and my head throbbed.

I was extremely wiped out.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


So today is day three on the migraine train. My darling Frova is keeping the worst of it at bay, e.g. I can function enough to be vertical and look at the computer, but light is really bugging me. I feel like Marlon Brando in the Island of Dr. No - I just want to throw my arm over my eyes and moan "Nooooooo. The light. Noooooooo." I have been reading and writing all morning so that isn't helping. I've got a story I'd love to tell her, but the time required would render me nauseous. I can only stare at the computer screen for about 15 minutes and then I need to avert my eyes.

This morning was interesting:

I got up and worked out on the Stairmaster and while I did so I channel surfed to distract myself from the fact that I was exercising so I watched a bit of Driven: Ashton Kutcher and also the end of Malibu's Most Wanted, then I switched over to VH1's 40 Least Metal Moments. Clearly I find the most mindless TV available to distract myself. This is because I once got involved in something on the history channel and when I finished working I out I sat down and finished watching the show. You can't do that when you have to go to work.

So I am probably the least metal fan and I had no idea who most of the people were that they trotted out to comment on the least metal moments. They mostly looked like old men with long hair who are now pathetically resisting middle age and are willing to relive their glory days of AquaNet and eyeliner back in the latter six months of 1986. Whatever. They had Tawny Kitaen who's big moment was straddling a corvette in a rock video, and more recently was beating the shit out of her baseball playing husband during their contentious divorce.

These unknown to me folks are bagging on Alice Cooper for doing a CompUSA commercial in a cardigan - clearly doing a send up of himself. They're bagging on some dude that hosted the metal show that was on MTV who I also didn't recognize. They were unironically making fun of his hair! It was apparently too poofy and akin to hair on the band Uh-Huh to be metal. He clearly didn't take the boys in leather pants and hairsprayed hairdos as seriously as they took themselves. And as these people still do. I did learn that Gene Simmons was briefly Liza Minelli's manager - how weird is that? Can you even imagine the conversations? Do you think he did her? I think he might just to say he did. He's got a HUGE.....ego.

Thankfully my 30 minutes in hell ended and I turned off MTV before they got to Michael Bolton trying to be metal, but I couldn't help but think, as I have always thought, that people in metal bands and people who are fans of metal music are really the last people who should be passing judgment on anyone. For anything. The last thing they want is the glaring light of scrutiny blazing back on them. Cuz it ain't that good and it's certainly not attractive.

I got dressed and since I was at home I decided to pull another historical item of clothing from the closet. Amazingly it fit since my butt just seems to be getting bigger, but I haven't done laundry in a while and with my schedule it doesn't appear that I will have time to do so until Sunday. Even more amazing is that as I was getting into my car I heard the loud and obnoxious honking of a car horn. Since I hadn't even got my butt on the seat much less pulled into traffic I couldn't imagine why someone was already giving me shit. I looked up and glared as a man in a Mercedes Benz passed me by leering and hollering loudly out the window that I was looking fine this morning.

Dude - seriously. Grow up.

And that's how I know that even though the Frova is working I am suffering from the effects of three days of underlying pain. It makes me cranky. Because I am always up for a woohoo of appreciation from a random guy in traffic. A compliment is a compliment. Especially when you feel like your ass is HUGE.

This morning I was ready to kick some ass.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


There are things that I do that are really dumb. Things I should know better than to do. Like for instance:

Putting the bottle of nail polish in my purse after I go for a pedicure. It rolls around in there and the top comes off and it's not long before I put my hand in my purse and find that everything is stuck together. And I've got nail polish on my hand.

Putting a pair of pants in my gym bag that I haven't worn in a while. These days those pants aren't fitting me so great and at the gym, after a workout is not the best time to discover the sad fact.

Bringing a slightly wrinkled blouse into the steam room with me so that the wrinkles will be steamed out. Yes, they are steamed out, but the blouse is also soaking wet by the time I'm finished and the room is so full of steam I knock the hanger off it's precarious balance as I fumble around looking for it and it falls on the floor taking the blouse from soaking to dripping wet.

Wearing pointy toed shoes and not bringing my lunch. My hunger has not reached a place yet where I am motivated to walk across the lot in my uncomfortable pointy toed shoes and I'm pretty damn hungry which gives you some idea about how uncomfortable these shoes actually are.

Spraying on perfume during the 4-day migraine cycle. It should stand to reason that if perfume on other people, or even on someone who has just recently vacated an elevator, or someone who is standing in front of me on line, can trigger a migraine, then perfume sprayed on my own body will most definitely trigger a migraine. and it did.

And these are just the things that happened today that made me think I should know better.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Today I woke up with a migraine. Never a good sign because it means I wake up tired. I've been having a headache and even unconscious it kicks my ass. Thank God for Frova. Last year, about this time I finally went to see a neurologist - to rule out a brain tumor - and he hooked me up with all kinds sample packs for literally, about five different kinds of migraine medications. Apparently there's a need because migraines are as diverse as the people who have them.

Like baby bear I worked my way through the chemical buffet. Relpax worked but not for long and I could only take three in a 24 hour period. Once I'd taken that third pill I was pretty much fucked. Imitrex had me under my desk in a fetal position with dizziness and a racing heartbeat, and experience akin to a ride in the "Valley" section of Magic Mountain - the area where all the pretend streets have names like Van Nuys Blvd and all the rides make you puke. I wonder if they were being ironic. Finally I found Frova.

Frova is time released over 12 hours and I can take it in the midst of a full blown migraine and it makes it go away. This is important because I am a headachey person and I'm never sure if I'm having a sinus headache, an allergy headache, a tension headache or a migraine. I usually figure it out if I take Excedrin and get no relief, Tylenol allergy and sinus and still no relief and by that time I'm usually blind and nauseated and my super sharp deductive powers finally identify that I am having a migraine. Bring on the Frova.

I go through the same process with my insomnia. I have no problems falling asleep. None. In fact, I often pass out with television remote in my hand or with my face in a book. I don't even realize I've traveled to nod. My insomnia is the kind where I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and I'm wide awake. I can't go back to sleep. I lie there and will my self back to sleep with yoga breath and meditation, but my brain has engaged and it will not submit. It's like a puppy that's recharged it's batteries and now it wants to play. Only in the case of my brain - it wants to engage in catastrophic thinking. Which only makes it harder to get back to sleep, what with images of myself in old age pushing a shopping cart full of books and shoes.

After a few early mornings of pre-dawn thinking sessions that lead into days of complete exhaustion and crying jags, I take Ambien. This miracle drug ensures that I get 8 hours sleep, well 6, but for me that's a full night's sleep. And I will usually take it several nights in a row to get my circadian rhythms back on track. That whole wake/sleep thing that our brains are wired to do via our own natural biochemistry. And then I'm all good again. I can wake up at 6:30 a.m. and fiddle fart around with a smile on my face.

If were going to have children their names would be Frova and Ambien.

It's probably good I'm not going to have kids.

So it's time to take another Frova because I can feel the railroad spike heading into my brain and my left eye is starting to squint from the light coming through the closed blinds and the glare of the computer screen.

But I just have to give a shout out to Gary because today is his birthday. I miss the boy - and I often wonder what kind of a man he would've become. But maybe he lived exactly as long as he was supposed to because I can't really get my head around him as a grown up. I will always remember the 10 minute teeth brushing sessions that left the bathroom wall and mirror dripping with water, the enthusiastic love of music and all things music accompanied by tone deaf caterwauling, the exploration and deep love of wine and food - thank you for introducing my palate to phenomenal worlds of wonder, when I think of a '71 Chateau Margeaux I will always think of the last birthday party - 12 years ago today.

Happy Birthday Gary - we'll remember you always with much love.

Monday, November 15, 2004


I live in L.A. where it's not unusual to see someone walking around with a phone stuck to the side of their head having an animated conversation. More recently, with the advent of earpieces I see people walking around appearing to be talking to themselves, holding the little microphone piece close to their mouth so the person they're talking to gets a consistent volume level as the walking talker moves quickly down the sidewalk, or drives their car, or runs on the treadmill.

Those people disconcert me because living in L.A. I also find myself standing or walking next to the schizophrenic homeless population who also walk along and talking and waving their arms. The difference being that they don't have phones, though some of them hold their hands up close to their mouths - cupping the secret transmitter and making sure that "they" can't hear.

Not that long ago I was in a doctor's office and a guy came in and sat down. The waiting room was quite crowded and he took the seat right next to me. My personal space bubble is not that big, meaning I'm pretty okay with people being in my personal space, so I didn't really think anything of it. I just kept reading my book. When he started talking on his hands-free phone and getting agitated I felt a little bit of anxiety, but they called my name so I didn't have time to think about it too much. As I stood, I looked over and noticed that he didn't actually have a hands-free cell phone. He didn't have a phone at all. He was most likely talking to the voices in his head and when I thought about it I realized that he never checked in at the little window. He just came in and made a bee line right over to sit down next to me.

Why do the crazy people always sit next to me?

I'm not a fan of cell phone use for myself personally, but I have friends who use them as their primary source of communication. One of my best friends has taken me along via cell phone to concerts and other events that I couldn't attend because, well they were in other states. Or countries. It's pretty cool when she does that, although I was once at a Wilco show and I saw Jeff Tweedy, who normally doesn't really talk, totally flame on someone who was holding up a cell phone. I would've hated to be the person on the phone having that experience.

The other day this same friend was talking to me as she went to the bathroom. Like I said, this is one of my best friends, we have that pee with the door open level of friendship. As she was speaking, all of a sudden - midsentence - I heard her voice receding. And then I heard a splash and from a distance, as though I was at the bottom of a well, I heard her say, "oh shit!"

I'm thinking, "Why, I do believe I'm in the toilet! I have poop POV!"

The next thing I heard was the scruffffle, scruffffle of paper towels.

"Did I just fall in the toilet?"
"Yes - I didn't want you to know! I was holding the phone between my shoulder and my ear and it slipped out and went right in the toilet."
"That was weird."
"Well, I hadn't flushed yet."
"Um, eeeeuuuww, for some reason that makes it weirder."

Wow! Another novel experience provided by the wonders of innovative technology!


Thursday, November 11, 2004


Okay, so TODAY is Veteran's Day! Read yesterday's post which is much more meaningful today. Geez. I knew something was up this morning when there were no kids screaming on the schoolyard at 7:30 a.m. - they are my snooze button. But they weren't there so I overslept until eight, but I still got in my work out and made a healthy lunch to bring to work. I am however, wearing no underwear or stockings because I ran out of time when I was getting dressed.

Oh well.

My plans for last night cancelled at the last minute, thank GOD!, and so I decided to hit Trader Joe's and the market. Two places I've been meaning to get to since last week, but I've been busy. And lazy. And everytime I thought about stopping on my way home from wherever I was, something I can do because the Ralphs by my house is open 24 hours, I always had to pee. I drink about 3 - 5 liters of water a day so I pretty much always have to pee and I have to carefully plan my intinerary. For instance I always pee before I leave work at the end of the day because at the end of the 35-45 minute drive home I'm going to have to go again. And last night was no different. By the time I got to Trader Joe's I knew I had to go, but I was just picking up a few things and I'm a very efficient shopper so I was in and out in less than 20 minutes.

Once back in the car I briefly considered stopping by home and dropping off the frozen brocoli, BBQ Teriyaki chicken and brown rice, that were not on my list, but that I just had to get after tasting this delicious combo at the sample counter, but I thought, "No, you can run in and out of Ralphs, why bother with an extra step." So I quickly dashed into Ralphs, which wasn't at all crowded considering it was after work time, and picked up everything I needed - in and out - in less than half an hour. It was now an hour and a half since I'd left work and wetting my pants was becoming a definite possibility, but I live three blocks from the market and I figured I could make it.

For some reason I slowed down at this point, all the while acutely aware that my bladder was about to burst, I sloooooowly and methodically placed the groceries in my trunk, unlocked the door, sat down and put on my seat belt before I even started the car. Then I drove those three blocks very carefully, with proper use of the turn signals and everything. No one observing me would ever have guessed that I was a woman on the verge.

When I got home, I unloaded the groceries from the trunk and got my gym bag out of the front seat and then I backed the car into the tiny garage perfectly. As I closed and locked the door I started to do the potty dance, I was practically having an out of body experience. I shut the garage door and reached the point of no return. Leaving everything on the ground I ran full speed into the house and just barely made it to the bathroom.

And once my vision cleared and my brain function returned to normal I started to giggle because I remembered back when I was a kid, my dad used to do the same thing. We would hear him coming from down the street, the engine roaring, although he always turned it off and coasted up the driveway. He would slam on the parking break, hurl his body from the car and hit the front door going full speed (we never locked our front door when we were home - lucky for him). He'd leave the door open and run into the bathroom where he'd give a huge sigh of relief at having made it.

We used to tease him mercilessly about always waiting till the last minute.

But here I am doing the same thing and when I think about it I've done it my whole life. I've always thought that it was just due to extreme laziness on my part. Going to the bathroom is a hassle until you really have to go and then it becomes a priority, but if I'm busy I don't want to stop and go. I do the same thing when it comes to putting gas in the car. I can see that it's down near empty but I just can't be bothered to stop. I always try to get those last few miles in.

I should ask my dad if he does the same thing. Maybe I'm not lazy. Maybe it's genetic?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


I am, by nature, a positive person. I have drama queen tendencies for sure, but my glass is mostly half full. It's hard to think of a positive thing to say about the doings in Iraq. As I've mentioned before I feel that this country was lied to and consequently sons and daughters, mothers and fathers are being killed on foreign soil for no good reason. Not to mention what's happening to innocent Iraqi's - who have to live through this war. Unlike those who pulled the lever for 4 more years of lies and smirks, I don't believe that Saddam Hussein ever represented a terrorist threat to this country, nor do I believe that there were any WMDs.


Today is Veteran's Day and sadly, there are Americans in military service, just doing their jobs, in Iraq. I have discovered a way to do something positive by going to the USO website, where I donated $25.00 to sponser a care package. These care packages are put together by the USO who are in the know about what people are requesting, e.g. the troops in Iraq were asking for flea collars because the bug problem. They send them to members of the U.S. military all over the world.

Even if I didn't know anyone over there I would still do this because regardless of how I feel about the war I still feel a lot of compassion for those people who are over there. It sucks. And it will change their lives forever. And not in a good way. They are seeing things that no one would want their child to see. Anything I can do to make that experience even a tiny bit more humane I will happily do.

And I hope you do too.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


This is a question that people seem to ask each other almost immediately upon meeting. I never noticed this until I spent two years on disability after the "crate" incident. The thing that was most apparent to me is that my value as a person seemed to be irrevocably linked to what I did for employment. Because that's what people were asking about. Not what do you do for fun, or in a random moment, questions that can actually tell you much more about a person than how they earn a living. I discovered this because since I didn't have employment during that time I would answer the "what do you do" question with, "I dance in the supermarket aisles and sing along when they play Elton John," or "I read," to which the response would be a blank stare, or a rephrasing of the question in the super ennunciation that one uses to speak to the mentally slow, "No, I mean what do you do for a living."

So I started to make shit up. It was amazing how people would treat me so very differently depending on whether or not I said I was a neurologist, or a cafeteria lady. I was raised in the house of bullshit so I know how to deliver a line like it's the God's truth. Oddly no one ever questioned me when I claimed to be a doctor, but they had a really hard time with the idea of me as a cafeteria lady - something I actually did when I was 15 and worked the line at Clifton's Cafeteria in the Lakewood mall.

A while ago I was at a Press Club event at the Standard Hotel downtown. It was a booksigning for some super hip and trendy guy who'd written a super hip and trendy book, but I'm not super hip or trendy so I have no idea what the title of the book was. I was there with my friend Elizabeth who knew someone who was throwing the event. My motivation was free drinks and food, plus I'd never been to the downtown Standard. Like I said, I'm not trendy. Anyway, Elizabeth and I are standing there amid the throng of trendoid, artsy types with our first drink of the evening and I'm trying to check out the crowd without having to whip out my glasses.

I spotted two guys over near the railing, standing away from everyone else, and they clearly didn't belong. They were crashers who'd somehow made it past the clipboard lady with the headset and the "list". It was still fairly early because I'm a front loader - get to the bar and buffet table before the crowd gets out of hand, and leave when there's no longer any room to move. I looked these two guys over and their Brooks Brother's apparel led me to the assumption that they worked in the financial industry and since we were right near the financial district of downtown L.A., they had infiltrated this uber-hip party but stood out like a couple of frat boys at a poetry reading.

Sans glasses I was staring, well okay squinting, intently at them and the little one must have thought I was wanting him to come hither, because he did. He introduced himself as Matt and his friend was Mike. I asked if they were crashing and they admitted they were. I admitted to being on the list, but feeling like I was crashing all the same because these were not my people. We started chatting, the way you do and Mike took off to go get a drink. As he walked away Matt disclosed that Mike's wife had left him 8 months ago and he was badly heart broken and needed to get laid. I immediately started to not like Matt. He was oily and a good friend doesn't disclose personal business. As far as I was concerned Matt was now fair game for mind fucking.

I suggested we go sit in the nearby super cool patio chairs in dayglo orange and bright white and wait for Mike to return. Elizabeth looked at me like I was crazy. She didn't want to spend anymore time talking to this guy, but she did want to sit down, so she came along. I was sitting across from Matt as he stared down my shirt and asked with a smirk, "I know this is forward, but are your breasts real?" "No," I replied, "I bought them and they're spectacular." Matt's mouth hung open and his eyes glazed over, Elizabeth smothered a laugh. Then Matt asked the question, "So what do you do?" I turned the question back to him without answering and he replied that he and Mike were male exotic dancers at the Spearmint Rhino. And I'm thinking to myself that Mr. Hairplugs, because yes, they were obvious, probably ate lunch at the Spearmint Rhino everyday - and dude, it was so totally on from that point forward. Elizabeth replied that she's a writer and then he turned to me, I looked him straight in the face and said with complete sincerity and just the right amount of enthusiasm, "I'm a sexual surrogate."

Elizabeth was mid-gulp when I said it and she snorted and choked - her drink almost came out her nose. I patted her on the back and smiled at Matt who was doing those cartoon eyes that Yosemite Sam does when he finds gold.
"Whaddaya mean? Like you have sex with people? Did you go to school for that?"
"Yeah, I've got a degree in psychology with a speciality in human sexuality."
"So you go to people's houses and have sex with them?"
"Well I can make housecalls, but generally people with sexual dysfunction come to my office and we do our sessions there."
"Whaddaya mean sexual dysfunction?"
"Well, you know, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, women who are anorgasmic."
"You have sex with women?"
Matt's voice went up about four octaves when he asked me that question.
"Of course. About 40% of all women are unable to reach orgasm, even through masturbation. I show them how."

Matt was about to come in his pants at this point he was so excited. Elizabeth had recovered enough to go along with it but everytime she spoke her voice trembled - she was like Jimmy Fallon on Saturday night live. And right then Mike came back and sat down and said, "So what are you guys talking about? Matt turned to him and practically shrieked, "She's a sexual surrogate and she has sex with women." Mike looked taken aback and said, "really?" and he was such a nice guy, you know those guys that you meet and you just know they're cool, even if their friends are smarmy, and I couldn't lie to him.

So I copped to making it up and Matt deflated, but he was unwilling to let it go.
"So how do you know so much about what a sexual surrogate does?"
"Because I was reading an article about it today."
"Oh man, I really wish you were telling me the truth."
"Yeah, I bet. That would be masturbatory fodder for at least a week."

At this point I turned my attention to Mike and asked him if he wanted to walk me to the bar. As we walked I apologized for being a bitch and he said, "That's okay, Matt can be an ass, I'm sure he probably deserved it. I don't know how his wife puts up with him sometimes." Matt suddenly plummeted from a harmless lech to a repulsive waste of space. We talked a bit more about how Mike was having a hard time getting "back out there" post divorce, and that's why they'd crashed this event. He was still in love with his wife and really didn't understand why all of a sudden after 8 years of marriage she decides she doesn't want kids. Matt came up at this point and said wanted to "show me something". I was like, you're not going to take me into a stairwell and pull your pants down are you? He smirked again, God, have you ever just wanted to slap someone across the face, and led me over the waterbed pods that are scattered about the patio of the rooftop bar. As he climbed in, showing grandpa sock, (you know how when old men sit down their pants ride up and you can see the skin between their pant cuff and their black socks?) I looked at his tiny little feet encased in their tassle bedecked loafers, and felt incredibly grateful that I was old enough to see him for what he was, an early mid life crisis in full bloom. I tried to feel compassion for him as he bobbed around in the pod looking like a total idiot, exhorting me to "just climb in, c'mon", and I flashed forward twenty years to Matt in his fifties still slipping off his wedding ring and groping strippers at the Spearmint Rhino and attempting to pick up random women where ever he went. All I could come up with was contempt.

It turned out I was right, both Mike and Matt work in the financial industry. And Matt does eat lunch at the Spearmint Rhino everyday.

And his wife has no idea.

Monday, November 08, 2004


This weekend was absolutely wonderful although I was so exhausted this morning I was unable to get up and go work out. I totally overindulged and had a tummy ache - but it was worth it. Totally.

Friday Roseanne picked me up and we headed off to the airport. I had gotten everything into my fashionable green bag and was feeling very proud of myself. The fact that the bag is fashionable was confirmed on the flight home last night when the man sitting next to me commented on how great my bag is as I shoved it into the teeny tiny spot between two massive black bags that selfish inconsiderate people carried on - luggage that should have totally been checked and that's just one more thing I hate about flying coach.

Anyway - we arrived about 6pm into Oakland and had to board a BUS that drove us practically to another town, to the rental car center. I had rented a car in Oakland before and I could've sworn that I had just walked across the street to get it so I was feeling a tad freaked out and disoriented. Turns out that this was just the temporary center - so I wasn't making it up! We got a zippy little Toyota Corolla, turned down the Buick SUV because gas is just as expensive up there as it is in L.A. and we were going to be doing some traveling. The Toyota had a CD player so we rocked the PM Dawn as we headed up to St. Helena to stay with the Greens.

I haven't seen Dave and Renee and their kids since Jack was a baby and now he's a 2 year old who has very strong opinions and can melt your heart when he says, "I wuv du," or "wead me a stowy," in his deep, raspy voice. Hannah is almost a teenager, very mature and super fashionable. Dave had run out and picked up dinner from a place around the corner and damn! that was good food. We drank a wonderful wine called Roth which is a new label that he's launched at Lancaster Estate, where he is general manager. It was so great to see them and hang out. They've been living up there for about 4 years and I forgot how much fun it is to spend time with them in their home.

The next day we walked over the new house that they are building. A house that Renee has designed from top to bottom. Even with just the framing up I could feel that this was going to be a wonderful space for them to entertain and raise their family. St. Helena is a small town at the north end of the Napa Valley, about 9 miles south of Calistoga which is the top. Hannah had a soccer game in Calistoga so Roseanne and I went and hit a couple wineries and then met the Green's for lunch at Wappo Taco. If you go to Calistoga and eat there I recommend the delicious Carnitas tacos with the lemon garlic sauce and grilled onions. Yum!

I love Hwy. 29 between St. Helena and Calistoga because the trees bower overhead and the road is lined with vineyards. They had an early crush this year so the rows of vines were devoid of fruit, are starting to turn light green and golden. When we went tasting we looped around through Calistoga to the Silverado Trail which is one of my favorite roads anywhere. There were miles and miles of vineyards and fall foliage was in full color. Unfortunately I didn't eat a substantial enough breakfast, and got more buzzed than I wanted to be at Cuvaison so that was pretty much that for me.

After lunch we headed down the valley to the Sullivan Estate. Shaun Sullivan and Dave knew each other when they were kids growing up in Hancock Park. Shaun's father Jim was a graphic designer back then (he designed the logo for American Bandstand) with a love of wine and a passion for winemaking. In 1972 he moved his family up to 30 acres in Rutherford and started making wine. Dave called Shaun and made an appointment for Roseanne and I to meet him at 3pm. We pulled down the gravel road between the rows and rows of vines and drove toward the large house at the edge of a pond. Actually more like a small lake. Shaun wasn't there when we first arrived so we started tasting and their wines are excellent. The walls of the tasting room feature art created by Shaun's sister Kelleen. She is, quite simply, an amazing artist. I fell in love with a piece that hangs over the tasting table of wine bottles with special labels calledQueen of Hearts. She works with paint and collage which gives her work a depth and texture. I would love to live with something she made in my home.

Shaun showed up and I immediately asked him if he had a tractor. I was pretty sure he did and I really wanted a ride. I LOVE farm equipment and riding a tractor through rows of grape vines is my idea of bliss. He laughed - apparently when you ride a tractor all the time it's just not that exciting, in fact he said that the hum of the motor makes him sleepy - but he agreed to take me for a ride. Yay! First we went around the house to the pond where we were met by Zaza their beautiful golden retriever. She was carrying a lemon that she very much wanted someone to throw for her. We meandered over to a block of Merlot grapes and Shaun explained the difference between the Merlot and Cabernet grapes - you can tell by their leaves and if I had any botany vocabulary at all I would explain, but I don't so just take my word for it - they're different. Nex we walked over to the Cabernet vines and there were still some small, dark purple grapes which we plucked and ate and he explained that when the seeds in the grape are brown then they are ready for picking. Not knowing there were seeds I had pretty much decimated the grape and had nothing to look at, but I figured he'd know.

The tractor ride was wonderful - the sun was low in the sky and the light over the rows was golden. A flock of geese flew overhead. Apparently they can destroy a harvest, but it was very picturesque. I stood on the tractor step and hung on as he drove me down the rows and I imagined what it would be like to wake up early in the morning and watch the sun come up and the mist dissipate over the vineyard. Roseanne didn't want to take the ride but I made her because how often are you gonna get the chance to do something like that?

Next Shaun took us into a huge barn where the wine was fermenting in huge silver vats. We got to smell "lees" , it smelled like heaven, a combination of current and berry. Apparently it is made up of the skin and seeds that are left in the bottom curve of a wooden cask when the wine has been bottled. It has the consistency of yogurt and tastes very sweet. We got to taste wine from the vats in various stages of fermentation. It was just such a special experience and Shaun is a wonderful, knowledgeable and funny guy. I could go on and on about everything I saw and learned, but you kinda had to be there.

It was after 5pm by the time we left the Sullivan Estate and we had to go all the way down valley to Napa and then a bit west to Carneros. The wedding, the reason I was up there at all, was to be held at the Carneros Inn and it was dark by the time we arrived. The property is set up in regimented blocks of cottages and when we were driving through trying to find reception Roseanne commented that it looked like military housing with all the corrugated tin fences. And it did because it's so new that none of the landscaping has really grown in yet. When it does it will look like a community of cottages similar to what housed the migrant workers that historically work the vineyards.

Except when you get inside those cottages they are vastly different from how the migrant workers lived. There are plasma screen televisions in every room. The bathrooms have heated stone floors. The beds are dreamy and the linens are cushy - lots and lots of huge feather pillows. There is a fireplace in every cottage and a private patio, where you can use the outdoor shower should you choose. And if it's not 40 degrees outside. It's cold in the valley this time of year. I forgot about that.

We were late for the champagne reception but got in with enough time to say a quick hello before the families took off for their rehearsal dinner at Angele. We headed back to our room and sprawled on our beds and I so could've gone to sleep right then. It had already been a very long day and it was only 6:30. Eventually we rallied and headed into downtown Napa for dinner at Zuzu, a tapas restaurant that was very crowded. Which seemed strange because that is one sleepy town. We didn't want to wait so we walked around the corner to a place called Tuscany and grabbed seats at the bar that ran along the open kitchen. The restaurant was cozy for such a large room. The food was delicious and our waiter was a hoot. I love him lots because he packed my dessert to go - a bowl made of chocolate and filled with white chocolate hazelnut mousse. I was too full to eat it, but just had to have it.

When we got back to the hotel about 10pm, Shaun called and wanted to know if we were up for going out as the birthday party he was attending was over. I was in my p.j.s but willing to entertain if he wanted to come all the way down. It's funny, to drive a half hour to go somewhere in L.A. is expected and normal, but it felt like he was having to make quite a haul coming down from St. Helena. But he did. And he brought a bottle of 1999 reserve Cabernet that is probably some of the best wine I've ever had. Roseanne and Shaun and I hung out and watched Harold and Maude on the flat screen as the fire burned and shot the shit till 1a.m.

I completely passed out and didn't move until about 8a.m. the next morning when I put on my coat over my pajamas and went over to the Boonfly Cafe to get breakfast and coffee and bring it back. Most likely I was hungover, but I was moving really slow. And once back in the room proceeded to pour coffee down the front of me - like all over - as I lay in bed and watched football. It would've been great to just lay there all day, but there was a wedding to attend so I jumped in the shower, a large room with enough room for about six people and shower heads coming out of everywhere. It was kind of like bathing in a carwash - fun!

Our friend, my old roommate Richard showed up, having driven in from San Francisco and got ready with us and then the three of us walked over to the orchard and watched the guests arrive. There were two rabbis and one of them had on the wide brimmed hat that the Hasidic guys in my neighborhood wear when they're walking around. They were both sporting extreme beards. The rabbi who performed the ceremony had a beautiful voice as he sang the prayers. As I looked at the bride I nudged Richard and said, "Is she pregnant?" Because this is a woman who has a tiny little dancer's body and she had lost her waistline sometime in the last couple of months. The ceremony ended with the crushing of the glass and cries of Mazel Tov (and that song started up in my head again - damnit!)

As we sat around the beautiful pool on the patio of the Inn's bar/restaurant the bride came over and told us she was indeed pregnant - and this is a good thing because they've been trying. They're having a healthy boy! The food was delicious... and probably too rich because I ended up with the aforementioned tummy ache and found a bottle of Tums in my bed this morning. I think I was eating Tums in my sleep! We drank even more wine. Oy. And left about 5pm to head back to Oakland so we could fly home.

The far away car rental center was surprisingly easy to find and we jumped on a bus that dropped us off at the airport where we got our boarding passes, cleared security and were able to get on an earlier flight. This was a very good thing because when they gave us our new boarding passes for the new flight they told us that our 8pm flight was delayed till 10:30! I was in my wedding clothes and if I'd gotten stuck on the delayed flight I would've pulled my coffee stained pajamas out of my fashionable bag, put them on, gotten in the fetal position and cried.

As it was I was home by 9:30 with a sick tummy, but it was from having a really great time so it was worth it. I am going back soon! And next time I hope Shaun let's me drive the tractor!

Thursday, November 04, 2004


I'm taking off tomorrow for a "destination wedding" up in Napa. I'd never heard that term before this past weekend when a girl in Victoria's Secret wings said that she and her fiance had wanted to have a destination wedding, but that he had such huge control issues they had to pick someplace that was close by.

At least she knows what she's getting into.

I am thrilled to be going to the wine country as it is one of my favorite places. I've been going there for years. Gary and I used to go all the time through the 80s when he started collecting wine. I will never forget when we stopped at Heitz Cellars and he asked for a tour. The winery isn't open to the public for tours, but Gary was the kind of guy that always got what he wanted. Probably because he asked for it. So, they made a phone call and said that someone would come and take us around if we could wait about 10 minutes. Sure, no problem. We tasted and bought some wine and then Joe Heitz himself came out and barked at us to come on back. He was probably in his mid-60s and he reminded me of a math teacher I once had who scared the shit out of me because he always sounded mad. Would that be crotchety or cantankerous? Gary was impervious to people like this - bless him, because he kept asking all kinds of interesting questions as I scurried along trying to avoid doing anything that would turn Joe's attention to me. He really was quite nice and a very good teacher. I still remember much of what he said about the wine business and how it had evolved.

Besides the wineries there are fabulous restaurants like the world famous French Laundry. Someday I will go eat there. And there are wonderful places to stay. There are also bed and breakfasts, but, you know, I'm not quite sure why people think that staying in an old house with super thin walls and strangers that you have to eat breakfast with, even when you're not feeling like a morning person, is fun. One of the few times I did the B&B things was up in St. Helena with Gary, when we stayed at the Ambrose Bearce house. I thought it would be very romantic, but it was a restored Victorian with loud plumbing. As someone who is not opposed to a little exhibitionist sex once in a while I have to say I just couldn't get in the mood. Maybe I'm a considerate exhibitionist but I was so aware that every little noise was traveling through the vents and I didn't want to have to sit at breakfast with people who were pissed off from lack of sleep. So we had silent, inhibited sex which, if you think about it, kind of goes with the Victorian theme.

B&B experience - over rated.

I usually stay up in Calistoga or St. Helena because my favorite wineries are up there - Clos Pegase, Chateau Montelena, Cuvaison, to name but a few. I love to stay at Indian Springs, a spa type place with little cottages that have back porches and bbqs and hammocks. They sit at the edge of a glider field. How cool is that? I go up to the Paradise Market and stock up on cheese and salami, apples and spicy nuts - a few bottles of wine, and I spend the majority of my time snacking and floating in the biggest pool I've ever seen which is fed with piping hot natural spring water. It's one of the oldest hot springs in the area, reportedly originally used by Indians back in the early 19th century. There's also shuffleboard and croquet if you'd like to partake. I thought about it once, but ended up taking a little nap on the shuffleboard court. I would deny it - but there are pictures. I was just super duper relaxed, you know? Okay I was majorly buzzed - but hey it was midnight and it was my birthday.

This weekend I will be going to visit friends who live in St. Helena and then wine tasting my way down the valley to Napa proper as the wedding will be at The Carneros Inn. It looks like a cool place to stay and I've never really explored the town of Napa. I am so looking forward to getting out of town. And celebrating at Kate's destination wedding. I'll probably feel a little sad because Gary and I spent so much time there and I can't help but think about him and the missing of him will sharpen some.

But I will discover and drink lots and lots of wonderful wine.

And make a toast to his memory.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I have more than one friend that is absolutely devastated and shocked by the outcome of yesterday's election. I would imagine that there are large groups of voters who are wondering what happened? I had pretty much resigned myself to four more years with this administration after I saw a presentation of this documentary. My friend Robert has been working on it for months and he has been educating me on the realities of touch screen voting since even before that.

Quite simply I believe that this election was a done deal before anyone ever went to vote. Karl Rove has been stealing elections since he was in college. He's really good at what he does. All those revved up citizens for change never had a chance. No matter how many people showed up to vote the reality is that there was electronic voting with no paper trail in all of the swing states. The software is not secure and, as shown in the election in Georgia just a few months ago, the numbers can be changed to reflect whatever outcome is desired by people who are nefarious enough to subvert the democratic process.

So yesterday I picked up my Rx for Valium and spent the evening drinking wine and riding a mellow buzz. I watched a little election coverage, but news journalism ain't what it used to be so I turned to "Manhunt" on Bravo. An insipid show about the search for the most gorgeous male model in America, the alter ego of America's Next Top Model. An insipid show yes, but it's cute 20-something boys who spend a lot of time showing off their pecs as they're drenched in water or oiled up.

And I prefer to know that my reality is being edited for my entertainmnet and highest dramatic impact.

The craptastic election coverage was still pretending it's got credibility when actually it's just a really mediocre reality show edited to spin whatever opinion the White House wants the viewer to have.

However, I was so incredibly relaxed last night that the last thing I remember is the commercial break as the announcer said, "stay tuned for the surprise elimination!" I totally missed the elimination of Paolo who was hot, but annoyingly into his hair and his body. The kind of singlemindedness that can cool the heat. I tried to imagine what it would be like to date a man who was so into the way he looked. Um, yuck. Even so it was way better than falling asleep listening to Tucker Carlson, James Carville and whoever that weird looking man was with the white hair, black eyebrows and vulture-like posture, all sniping at each other.

And I guess the surprise elimination announcement accurately described how many people felt when they woke up this morning. But they were relating it to Kerry, not Paolo.


As I was driving around running my errands last night - the pharmacy and dinner to go - I was so aware of the people who were out and about in my neighborhood. They were all Korean (pharmacy) and Hasidic Jews (dinner to go). I am fascinated by both cultures but lately I've been really fixating on the Hasidic community.

This may be because I take a short cut on my way home through a neighborhood that is chock full of shulls and boasts a very high population of Hasidic jews and now that it's dark at night I am hyper vigilant not to accidently run them over as they walk across the street in their very dark clothing. I feel protective of them as they walk in groups of men and boys, and women and girls. The littlest boys walk with their moms, but the sexes don't mix, even when they're walking down the street. I love the boys, not yet men, in their too large suits and seemingly oversized hats balanced over beards still sparse. I can't help but stare at the husky men in their fur hats and their stolls hanging to their knees, their full beards, some shot through with grey resting on their barrel chests. I imagine their resonant voices raised in prayer.

It's as if they came from another time. Or from the cast of Fiddler on the Roof.

Which was on the other night. The night I couldn't sleep last week. I got caught up in watching Fiddler and it brought back memories of seeing it over and over again with my friend Debbie when I was in fifth grade. Her family was Jewish. Her father was a German Jew who had survived the concentration camps. Everything I know about Judaism I learned from spending time with Debbie and her family. I loved going to Friday night supper - the ritual of her mother with the lace scarf over head singing the prayer over the candles. I loved going to temple after dinner. I loved Mickey Greenberg.

So anyway, I'm watching Fiddler on the Roof and there's the scene, my favorite scene actually, where Tevye has to tell Golde that even though their daughter is promised to the butcher, Lazer Wolfe, a gross old man, in a marriage arranged through the matchmaker, he's promised her that she can marry her true love, the tailor, Motel Camzoil. He looks over at his sleeping wife and then screams as though awakending from a horrible nightmare. Golde wakes up and asks him what's wrong and he tells her that Fruma Sarah, the butcher's wife came to him and told him that any woman who marries her widowed husband will die! There's a song in this dream sequence sung by Golde's dead Grandmother and all the other deceased family members as they dance around the cemetery and it goes:

A blessing on your head,
(mazel tov, mazel tov)
To see you daughter wed,
(mazel tov, mazel tov)
And such a son-in-law
Like no one ever saw,
The tailor Motel Camzoil

It's a really catchy tune. And last night I watched a group of Hasidim cross the street as I waited at a stop sign and I started singing it. Out loud. The windows were closed THANK GOD!

And I've been singing it, silently, in my head all day.

Which, I suppose is better than being devastated by the outcome of this "election". Of course it could just be that I am a weirdo and this is my supressed stress related reaction.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004


When I was a kid my dad used to take me with him when he went to vote. Back in those days voting booths were much more booth-like. They were like small rooms with walls built on three sides from the floor to over the voters head. Back then they had curtains! To ensure privacy! When I was a kid, standing inside the booth clutching my dad's leg and standing on my tip toes to see exactly how this voting thing was done, I could not wait to be able to go into a booth and pull the curtain and vote.

By the time I was old enough to vote there were no more curtains to pull and the walls of the booth began at mid calf and extended to over my head. I was so excited to vote. I had done all kinds of research on the candidates and the ballot measures. I was in college at the time and there was lots of talk of the election in my classes. I felt so incredibly adult. So powerful.

And then Reagan won.

In subsequent elections it became clear to me that just because you vote it doesn't mean that your candidate will win. In fact most of the people that I have voted for have lost. And I have come to understand that the person that gets elected is very often the one who reflects the consciousness of this country.

The other night Bill Maher called George Bush a retarded cowboy.

I'm just sayin.

At any rate, this morning I went and voted and I'm happy to say that I still get excited. But the booths are pretty much just tables with little two foot dividers.

I miss the cool booths with the curtains.