Monday, February 28, 2005


Yesterday afternoon I was getting ready to go to an honest to God, big deal Oscar party with red carpets and media lines. Having never done this before I was quite excited. I love to dress up! Love it. I love to wear a gown and high heels and do the hair and make up. It's a lot of work, but once it's done it's so fun to sashay through a hotel lobby or up a flight of stairs workin' it, feeling the heads turn.

This party came up as a total surprise and I have been sick so I was planning on laying low, like on the couch, to watch the Oscars. Or, to be completely honest, to channel surf through the entire broadcast. But I've always been that person who repents later if we're talking about a "how often do you get to do this opportunity" so I propped myself up with cold and flu pills and got ready in shifts. You know - take a shower, lay down and rest; blow dry hair, lay down and rest, etc.

I had just completed make up and was resting before I did hair when my phone rang. It was about 4:15 and I needed to be out the door by 4:30, but when I heard Meg's voice my schedule went out the window.

"I'm in the car going to my mom's," her voice cracked. "She's not dead, but she didn't wake up this morning and her blood pressure is really low. I'm so sorry to call you right before you're going out to have fun, but I just wanted you to know." And then she broke down.

Meg's mom Sue has been battling cancer for about five years and it was a surprise that she made it through the holidays so I had been waiting for this call. Even when you know it's time and she'll be at peace now and there will be no more pain and all the rest of the things that people say; even when you know those things are true it doesn't mean that your heart doesn't literally ache at having to say goodbye. And I could hear Meg's heart hurting through the phone so I put everything on hold and we cried together.

Meg and I have been friends for 15 years and I was lucky enough to be folded into her family. I know what an important part of Meg's life her mother has been. She raised her six kids as a single mother and she made those children the focus of her life. When Meg and I had dinner not long ago and I commented that I was surprised at how well she was handling everything, she said that emotionally she was holding herself in check because she's got a family to take care of and her mom was still here. What she was mostly feeling was angry that her children would grow up not knowing their grandma, that her mom wouldn't be there for her to call when she needed to talk to that person who loves you for just being you, like a mom does. She said that when the time arrived she would take her space and fall apart.

And it was that time. I stayed on the phone and we talked about when Gary was dying and we would make the drive to his house thinking it was time. And then it wouldn't be. And then it was and after months and months of lingering he left. We talked about how even when you think you're ready for someone to go, you're really never ready. Death is such a final Goodbye. We can't even know with any certainty that it's a "See ya later," although I believe it's more like that. I also like to think that it's the beginning of the next thing, whatever that is, but my friend Patrick would say that it's a story I tell myself to give living and dying some kind of meaning.

But even if it is the end of this thing and the beginning of the next, it's still really painful. At this point in my life I've lost so many people that I love, and it never hurts less. The only thing I do know for sure is that life goes on - so as long as you're alive you've got to do the living.

That is why, after we had a good cry and Meg was feeling a little more centered, I told her I loved her and hung up the phone. Then I went into the bathroom and re-did my make up. And I did the hair. And I put on the gown and I sashayed out the door with swollen eyes and a runny nose, and I had a really good time at the Oscar parties.

And all fabulous like I had a gin and tonic - Sue's signature cocktail - and made a toast to her life with much love.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I was introduced to the force of nature that was Dr. Gene Scott by a god fearing, Uzi toting, coke smoking drug dealer named Jon. Jon would sit in his condo in Los Alamitos with hundreds of kilos of cocaine and his guns, lighting his bong load of cocaine with a blowtorch in the bathroom. When he was good and high he would come out and sit in the darkened living room mesmerized by the flickering image of Dr. Scott who was telling a truth that totally resonated with Jon.

Because I worked in Los Alamitos, and was incredibly naive and stupid, I would stop by Jon's house a couple times a week on my way home from work and pick up a couple of kilos cocaine for my roommate who was selling it to supplement her waitressing income. A lot of it was going up our noses too. It was all good fun.

Because I didn't realize that I was carrying around 4.4 pounds of cocaine with a street value of about $36,000 at the time. Nor did I ever think about what would've happened to me if anyone had decided to rip Jon off while I was in his house. And I really never thought about the fact that I was hanging out with a paranoid drug dealer who had loaded automatic weapons that he liked to sit and fondle as he watched Dr. Scott preaching the word.

The realities of that world became dramatically clear a few years later, but that's another story.

I would sit down with Jon and watch Dr. Scott who I found fascinating not so much because of what he was saying, but because he was great theatre! It was hard for me to believe that there were people taking him seriously although he was incredibly intelligent and could back his shit up with facts and figures that he would write on a blackboard with chalk as he strode back and forth orating and puffing on his cigar.

Yes, he smoked a cigar.

And sometimes he wore costumes.

The language that he used to make his points was, well, colorful. He would toss off the N word, which I cannot even bring myself to write, much less say, and even though he was using it as an example of denigrating language he was still saying, nay he was YELLING it, as he ranted.

One of the most surreal experiences I ever had with Jon and Dr. Scott was one Saturday when we were heading out to Hollywood Park to go to the races. Dr. Scott loved horses and so did Jon. He even bought a thoroughbred racehorse. So we're driving down Century Blvd. in Jon's 1971 convertible Cadillac El Dorado, with the top down. My roommate is in the front seat with Jon and I'm in the back with Santos my bodyguard for the day since I had $50,000 in cash in my purse for Jon's betting pleasure. Dr. Scott is blasting from the radio, and it's loud because, you know the top's down. On this particular day Dr. Scott was really using the N word a lot and with much vehemence so every time we stopped at a light that word was just booming out of the car. Have you ever driven down Century Blvd. to Hollywood Park? It's in Inglewood, not too far from south central, and definitely not a place that you want to be sitting in a car with the N word booming out of the speakers.

Did I mention that Jon had a loaded handgun on the seat next to him? It must've been all that money that he sent to Dr. Scott and God that kept things from going horribly wrong. At least that was always Jon's contention. He was paying to be bulletproof. And all that coke he was smoking helped him to believe it to be so. Of course it also eventually made him believe that the FBI was coming to get him motivating him to attempt to flush about 20 kilos down the toilet. It was only little kids playing outside. Jon had to leave town and has never been heard from again.

But I was left mesmerized by Dr. Gene Scott. I kept vascillating between thinking he was completely insane and way ahead of his time. This was back in the very early 80s before cable access took him world wide. I used to watch him on channel 56 and I would go looking for him because some times he would show up on other random stations. There was no mistaking when you found him. He was always doing something bizarre, yelling like he was furious. Other times he would sit in a chair and speak, as though exhausted, the camera close up on his face, his angry blue eyes glaring at you through the camera, as he exhorted people to send him money. He not only exhorted he shamed them into doing it.

I know Jon sent him THOUSANDS of dollars from his drug profits. Basically what I got from Dr. Scott was this bottom line - you could and should buy your way into heaven. And sending money to him was the best way to do that.

As a gift, not a donation. You got no tax deduction on your fare.

The way he said it made you believe in that moment while you were watching him that everything he was saying was true. He was one hell of a charismatic, crazy talker, and all kinds of people got on board with his message. If you ever tuned into one of his church services that was beamed around the world you would see all kinds of people listening and nodding and putting money in the plate. All colors, all ages, all socioeconomic groups sitting there resonating with his message about God and life.

And paying top dollar for the privilege.

He died yesterday of a stroke at age 75 and I must say the world will be a little more boring without him in it. I can't help but wonder who he paid for his ticket to heaven.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005


Yesterday was Nana's birthday. The rains had come in Sunday night and pummeled the coast to such an extent that I woke up to tornado warnings for Orange County. My brother had opted to come up from San Diego and celebrate with her on Sunday feeling, and rightly so, that he would have a better and safer drive without so much water being pelted at his car.

If it had been any other event I would've cancelled and stayed home.

But Nana turned 97 yesterday and by golly that's huge! It must be celebrated even if the one being celebrated gets all cranky about having a birthday. Though Nana loves living she hates aging. Hates it. She's been lying about her age since she turned 50. She had a face lift and lied about that too. When she and Gonga, that would be my grandfather, signed up for FHP she lied and told them that she was born in 1928, instead of 1908. And they believed her because she has always looked very youthful and she is a damn fine looking woman to boot.

But she gets really hung up on the number. If she knew I was writing this she would hunt me down and kill me.

So yesterday I went to Nordstrom's and found the perfect red sweater, it had to be red. She likes red. And as I started my drive down the 405 it began to rain - hard. So hard that everyone on the freeway slowed to a crawl because we couldn't see and it was also coming down with a force that you could feel. The sky was black which made the whole experience that much more intimidating. I was feeling very storm chaser, except that those nutjobs are usually chasing a storm that's moving away from them and I was driving right into one.

I stopped down in Belmont Shore to catch up with my friend L. and her kids Mia (6) and Ryan (2) and to go get a card to go with the gift. It stopped raining the minute I arrived. They should make some kind of device so that you can you predict the movement of extreme weather cells because if I'd had something like that I would've timed my travel a little better. Ryan was totally up for going with me to get a card. He said, in his very deep voice, "I want to walk my dog and pick out a card for Nana."

So we did.

It was nice to be outside and not getting wet. We took a nice long walk down 2nd Street to Toto's Revenge which is a store that specializes in cards and gifts and they'll let you bring your dog INTO THE STORE, but L. felt that with 2 kids we would be having enough of an impact without including the dog who knows where they keep the dog cookies.

It took a while to find just the perfect card for someone who hates getting older. None of the funny cards with the pictures of old people on them would do - Nana has very tender feelings. We finally settled on one with a picture of a Golden Retriever on it who was sneaking a bit of cake and didn't look old at all.

The walk back was a little longer because we had promised Ryan a gumball from the Hallmark store back closer to home and he was very excited. Mia wanted to go shopping because after all she'd been in the house for several days. And Aspen, the dog, wanted to stop in every store where she knows they keep the dog cookies. Second street is full of very dog friendly stores.

We picked up some lunch and brought it home to eat before dropping Mia off for a play date. On the way home L and I finally got a chance to catch up - and then it started to rain. More than rain actually, it was the literal translation of pouring. When we got back to the house we sat in the car thinking the cell would move past fairly quickly. But it didn't. Instead it began to hail. And then the street began to flood. As we sat there for 20 minutes thinking it would let up, it had to let up, it just kept pouring and pouring. The water in the street rose higher and higher. It was as if some giant being was standing overhead with a hose turned on full blast. We finally decided to take our shoes and socks off and roll up our pants and get out of the car while we could still get the doors open. The water was about 6" deep as I ran through it, and still it kept raining.

I had to sit and wait for it to abate some before I could drive to Nana's - and even when it stopped the flooding was still quite severe. Again off came the shoes and socks and there was the stomach clenching fear that I feel when I'm driving through deep water. On the news I was listening to some guy up in L.A. at Beverly and Van Ness talk about how he was driving and he felt his tires leave the ground because HIS CAR WAS FLOATING!

But, Nana was turning 97, and I was going to be there to celebrate with her. When I arrived I was informed by my mom and my aunt that there had been almost no rain at all in north Long Beach. How weird is that? Nana was in her room reading and I went and laid on the bed and we caught up. She told me that the thunder Friday night had scared her so bad. We're both really scared of thunder and lightning. She said she missed having my granddad in bed with her because he used to hold her when she got scared. I knew what she meant. I was seriously considering sitting in the closet on Friday night it was so wild and loud.

We had a really good time over dinner. Nana loved her gifts - she may not like having a birthday but she likes getting gifts - she's no fool. We discussed having a festive day next year instead of a birthday. She looked dubious, but I bet she'll go for it. Nana was telling stories about my grandfather which made us laugh, like the time he took her to get her eyes examined because if his eyes were going then hers must be too. But they weren't. She got fashion frames anyway and had them fitted with those magnifying lenses that you can buy at the drug store for $10. Her frames cost Gonga $100 but she did it because he made her go.

Later that day they were washing the car when she told him that she didn't really need those glasses and could've bought cheapies at the drugstore and he chased her around the backyard squirting her with the hose.

I wish he could've been there last night - and on Friday to hold her when she was scared. I'm so glad that Nana is still with us, but I think it's hard to be 97 and alone, so although I would miss her horribly, it's okay if she doesn't want to celebrate her 98th here with us. I know she'd be celebrating with him and she would be happy.

Friday, February 18, 2005


The three day weekend to celebrate the President's birthdays has always been one of my favorite holidays. Not because I'm a huge fan of Washington and Lincoln although it was always fun to do the George and Abe related art projects when I was in school, but because when I was a kid this was the weekend that our family would go up to the mountains with the Saari's, the Witter's and the Kelsh's. Donna, Vi and Liz all taught school with my mom when they were newly married, new moms. My parents and the other three couples got together once a month to have dinner and play bridge, although in the later years I think they discarded the cards and just ate and drank.

I was 6 or 7 the first year that the four families rented a cabin up at Lake Arrowhead for the three day President's weekend. I have a picture from one of those early weekends and Greg who was the youngest was still a babe in arms. Jim, Karen and Matt were all about 18 months younger than me and all born a week apart throughout the month of December. After them were the two little girls K.A. and Andrea who were 4 or 5 years younger than me.

We continued the Bridge group mountain trip for probably about 10 years. I no longer wanted to go when I was 17, preferring to stay home and have illicit parties while my parents were gone. And then not so long after that the grown ups started to want to take nicer trips without their truculent teenagers and would take off for Aspen or Vail. But the ten years that we made our annual trek to the mountains are full of wonderful memories for me.

We would always depart on Friday night when my dad got home from work and arrive in the mountains in the dark. This was normally fine when there was no weather but about every third or fourth year there would be storms, much like the one we're having right now, which would require chains on the tires to get up the mountain. When we were young my brother and I were thrilled to bits to see snow. We would peer out the windows into the dark looking for the first piles on the side of the road. "Snow! There's snow!" This was a good sign because snow meant there would be sledding and tobagganing on the hill just adjacent to the cabin that we always rented.

On Saturday morning we would all get up and the moms would make breakfast and the dads would drink bloody marys and George and Bilo would light their cigars and the first card games would begin. There was a sign up sheet for clean up and after that was accomplished we would all go out and drag the assorted stuff to slide on over to the hill. At this point the dads were pretty lit, now that I think about it. In their early to mid-30s they were still able to have just as much fun careening down hill on a metal snow disk as any of the kids. Plus, they were buzzed.

The moms would go for a walk or go into town or read their books or play their own card games and talk. They were probably just relishing the quiet except for the crack of wood in the fire. The fire was lit the entire time we were there because the A-frame cabin was probably built in the 40s and had floor to ceiling glass windows so it could be cold without fire.

In the late afternoon,after playing outside all day, the dads would take naps and the kids would hang out and play cards or board games or watch the little 19" black and white television in the living room. Every four years the winter olympics would be on and everyone would huddle around and watch. The sign up sheet was up for dinner preparation because it consisted mainly of heating up the pan of lasagna that one of the moms brought and making a salad - a task easily accomplished by an adult with two helper children. The little kids, K.A. who was allergic to milk, Andrea and Greg were usually fed first because they had to go to bed early. When the 12 of us sat down for dinner there was lots of adult conversation, and I remember enjoying the company of these grown ups who although they were the same age as my parents, weren't my parents.

Because I got to know them by interacting with them they all had very distinct personalities that I remember to this day. Donna was very sweet and nurturing and patient, she was sooo patient. Tall with dark hair, that was frosted for a while in the 70s, she had almond shaped eyes and a slender, willowy figure. Bilo, her husband was also tall and very athletic. He always seemed very stoic, maybe even stern, with his crew cut and angular northern European features. He had a sense of humor though because I remember his smile and his laugh which was like a controlled chortle as he sat there smoking his cigar. He really liked cigars.

I always considered Liz to be very glamorous, she was the perfect picture of femininity in the 60s, like a woman you'd see in a Breck shampoo ad, or a pretty mom on a TV show. She was a very pious Catholic and every Sunday morning, even though we were in the mountains, on vacation, she and George got up and took their kids to 7am mass! George had black hair and a husky, sandy voice. He got very red in the face when he laughed really hard, and I remember him laughing a lot.

Vi was tiny and elfin, she was Greek and her real name was Vasiliki, which I have always thought is like, the coolest name. Ever. She was warm and funny and she had a slight accent because I believe she grew up in the midwest. While she was small in stature I always had the impression of her as a powerful woman. This may be because she was married to Bob who was a character. Bitingly sarcastic, tall and rangy with very blue eyes, Bob had a sense of humor that is rare to find and often hard to take. He could really hurt your feelings and sometimes it felt like he meant to. But still I felt the closest to him, probably because I felt free to give him back that which he was dishing out. You know he wasn't my father so there wasn't any serious wounding going on - I didn't have to live with him.

My impressions of these people were formed when I was quite young and those impressions remained with me throughout my adult life although I saw them less and less. They are very much like extended family, aunts and uncles, adults who were the boss of me when I was under their supervision. I remember when my father re-married, they were all there at the ceremony, even though my parents divorce and dad's subsequent remarriage was most likely difficult for them. At the time it was horrible for me - I found out at the "ceremony" that my father and his new wife had actually gotten married two months before their February 14th celebration (way to make Valentine's Day really suck), and when I realized that my brother and I had sat through Christmas Eve dinner with dad and the new wife and that they didn't tell us, it felt creepy and wrong. And the whole event was already feeling pretty creepy and wrong, but that's another story for another time.

In any case, I started sobbing. Because the whole thing was just so sad and I felt like my dad wasn't my dad at all, but rather some stranger who was now sporting a pierced ear and was dressed like an aging hipster. Bob walked over and sat down next to me and just put his arm around me so that I could muffle my sobs in his shoulder. I felt like he knew exactly what I was feeling without me having to say a word. He didn't make a sarcastic remark although God knows the opportunity was definitely ripe for multiple salvos. It meant so much to me to have those people there at that time. As my father was trying to pretend that everything in his 32 year marriage to my mother had never happened - my extended family was there to validate all the good times that I remembered from my life in our family.

This weekend I will probably be hunkered down at home because the rain looks like it's going to hang out and unlike my intrepid forebears I am not willing to risk life and limb on the highways to travel. But I am so glad I have the memory of those President's weekends with bridge group, the eating and drinking and laughing. The playing in the snow and going to Santa's Village to buy candy. The constant fire in the fireplace and the smell of cigars and the card games.

I think those kinds of friendships and extended family fun are rarer these days. My friends seem to be more isolated in their experience of parenting and socializing. When I think about my friends and their husbands though there aren't many that I would want to spend a weekend in a cabin with - which is kind of sad. Even though all those adults were very different they all coexisted really well in what was, when I think about it, a pretty small cabin with seven small children.

That could've been why they drank so much, but I think it was more because they were having fun.

Monday, February 14, 2005


Valentine's Day is a day that most people dread whether they're in a relationship or not. It's incredibly loaded with pressure and you get it from everywhere. The commercials for diamonds, florists and champagne. The fliers left under your windshield in parking lots advertising romantic dinner specials. Even just walking by the card section in the grocery store one cannot help but notice the huge section of Valentine's Day cards.

If you're in a relationship and you're a woman there's the whole expectation thing - is he going to get you flowers? Or take you out to dinner? And if it's the latter, did he remember to make reservations, or are you going to end up at The Red Lobster? And sometimes it's will he even remember that it's Valentine's Day? If it's a new relationship, one where you've only been dating for a couple of months and there have been no declarations of love, it's even worse because it's a socially contrived opportunity for him to finally let you know how he feels. And for that reason many men dig their heels in and decide to not even acknowledge the day at all. A completely understandable knee jerk reaction to the obvious manipulation of the greeting card industry, but ultimately a disastrous course of action just for the sake of rebellion.

For men it truly is even trickier. If you're just dating, or in the case of so many of my male friends who are either terrified of commitment or dating someone they're not into for the regular sex while they're waiting for their super model girlfriend to notice them - you know "hanging out," what do you do so as not to send the wrong message? They don't make cards that say "Happy Valentine's day to the woman I really enjoy hanging out and having casual sex with."

And even if you're in a relationship and happy about it the terrain can still be tricky. A man who is incredibly romantic and in love and wants to tell the world about it has got so much trashy, sappy Valentine's Day crap to choose from he runs the risk of buying something, with the best intentions of course, that is truly heinous. And upon receiving the very often truly offensive piece of lingerie often trimmed in maribou, many women just don't see the good intentions with which the gift was purchased, they sometimes get reactive and say things like, "What in the world were you thinking? Do I look like a someone who would actually wear something like this? Do you think I'm a whore?"

And it's pretty much downhill from there.

I really don't know that many people who have the kinds of Valentine's Day celebrations that I see advertised on TV. I think the last time that I looked forward to Valentine's Day I was in elementary school. My mom would take me to Hill Drug to purchase one of those plastic wrapped boxes of 40 cards that said things like, "Be Mine" and "You're Sweet Valentine" so that I could labriously address a card, utilizing my brand new cursive writing skills, to every kid in the class for the card exchange on Valentine's Day. And then, of course there was the candy - a holiday with candy pretty much rocked my 10 year old world. The Whitman sampler that my dad would get my mom. The big box of See's candy that Mrs. Drew brought to be shared by the whole class. And of course those little chalk like candy hearts with the weird flavors like clove and peppermint and the yellow one that has a taste that I can't really describe.

I always made sure that I made a card for everyone in the class whether I liked them or not. I couldn't stand the idea that someone might not get a Valentine. And actually for the kids that didn't get many Valentine's Day cards, the day probably sucked. Just like all those Valentine's Days when my boyfriend didn't express his love for me with even a card, much less diamonds and roses, or the guy I was dating called me for what can only be described as a consolation prize dinner/booty call. It wasn't the Red Lobster but it might as well have been.

I'm all for shifting the emphasis of Valentine's Day from romantic love to just love - any kind of love - because when it comes to love it's all good. Keep the candy, because like I said, any holiday that includes candy as part of the celebration is a good one, but lose all the expectations and emphasis on the couples club. Just let the people that you love know that you love them. Do for them what you would love for someone to do for you. I sent my nana flowers today - lucky for me carnations are her favorites - and she just called me completely thrilled to bits because, c'mon, it's so awesome to have flowers delivered just for you!

And the next time I find myself romantically involved with a fabulous man on Valentine's Day I am going to buy him something wonderful from Agent Provocateur.

In a 36C.

Thus ensuring that we both get something we enjoy on Valentine's Day.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Today is Ash Wednesday and it always reminds me of the Catholic envy I had in elementary school, pre-4th grade. It began when I realized that all the Catholic kids in school got to come late on Ash Wednesday AND they had these smudges on their foreheads that were put there on purpose by the priest at church. They got to give something up for the six weeks until Easter. Not something they didn't care about, but something that mattered a lot. Something that would be a sacrifice and require discipline, like ice cream or watching the Partridge Family or roller skating.

We were Unitarians which meant that I could wear whatever I wanted to church and we would hang out in the field next to the church and look at the flowers and play Red Rover. There was no talk of God or Jesus, and definitely no talk of the Devil or Hell. It was all about the community of man and our responsibility to that community. All in all it was pretty boring, but I did look forward to the donuts when the grown ups got finished listening to the boring minister. Being Unitarian meant that I wasn't all indoctrinated in some fundamentalist form of religion and my parents didn't care if I went to church, or temple with my friends of different faiths.

When I went to church with my Catholic friends, I was really envious of the rituals around the Catholic church like the little bird bath in the front for cleaning your hands and the kneeling in the aisle before you got to go in and sit down. I totally dug the incense cage that got swung around emitting smoke that smelled like the incense my dad burned in his office. There were hand gestures and call and response and lots of changing of positions from sitting to on your knees to standing and sitting again. And everyone did it all at the same time - they all knew what to say and when to do stuff. I watched them intently and earnestly mimicked every thing they did. My favorite part was going to the front of the church to have a little cracker snack. I wasn't so crazy about drinking out of the same cup as everyone else even if they did wipe it off. It was only after church when my friend explained that you were supposed to go to confession before you were allowed to get the cracker snack that I realized I had committed a faux pas. She explained the confessional was like a closet that you went into and kneeled which turned the lights off and made it dark and then the priest who was sitting on the other side of the wall in the closet slid open the partition and you told him all your sins.

Being a Unitarian the whole concept of sin eluded me so she had to explain that pretty much everything we do in the course of being human is a sin, like thinking mean thoughts, or wishing that you had Star's cool hairdo, or talking back to your mom - all sin. But if you told the priest about it he would give you some prayers to recite and then you'd be good with God again. I wondered if I was going to go to hell for eating the cracker without getting in the closet and telling the priest about my sins. My friend said that since I wasn't Catholic I couldn't confess, but I shouldn't go up for a cracker the next time.

I was left feeling guilty about having the cracker without confessing and worried that I was going to go to hell which I knew nothing about, but it sounded like a pretty bad place.

I wasn't so keen on going back to church with her after that. I didn't know the moves, I couldn't go to confession, I couldn't get the snack. I didn't want to sit alone in the pew as everyone else went to the front of the church. Everyone would think I was a big sinner.

When I decided to discuss all these heady matters with my father he didn't want me going back to the Catholic church. He said it would mess with my head too much. He told me that sin was a concept made up by the men who ran the church to scare people into doing what they wanted.

And shortly after that I was watching "Chiller" on KTLA - a show that predated Elvira's show, but basically a Sunday afternoon scary movie featuring slasher movies and monster movies. The movie that I saw so soon after my foray into the Catholic church was about a girls Catholic school run by nuns and one very evil looking priest. Students at the school started disappearing under mysterious circumstances and it turned out that those nuns and that priest were actually witches and a powerful warlock doing the Devil's bidding. Looking for a young virgin to be his bride. I had no idea what a virgin was, but I didn't want to be one.

Um, did I mention that I wasn't allowed to watch Chiller because 1) I was prone to serious nightmares and 2) I had a hard time separating truth from fiction when it came to movies. I was like nine and these were simpler times.

So anyway that movie, along with my limited understanding of the Catholic church, my father's comment about "the men in charge making up sin" and the whole idea of going to hell for just being me all left me pretty much traumatized.

All of which gave me the greatest compassion for my friends who were raised in the Catholic church. No wonder they got rid of their virginity as soon as they possibly could.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


It's the Chinese New Year and this year is the year of the Wood Rooster. So basically we aren't going to be having much fun in the old hen house. The Wood Rooster supports foundations and basics - so it's a good year to get out of debt and start saving, clean up cluttered corners and get organized, put away your party shoes and get rid of all those old clothes you don't wear anymore. Because you are never going to fit into those jeans again.

On a positive note it's a great year for love that lasts - foundation is good for that kind of love.

All in all I have to say that I started this roman calendar new year in a Wood Rooster kind of mood - so here's to being out of debt and into long lasting love by this time next year.

Monday, February 07, 2005


I don't consider myself much of a drinker, e.g. I don't drink that often. But last week I drank almost every single night. It's not like I'm slugging down half a bottle of bourbon, but I have been drinking my half of a bottle of wine. With the exception of Friday night when I took a break, stayed home and went to bed at 9pm I drank straight through the weekend.

And by yesterday morning I had one of those hangovers that you don't really feel until you spend prolonged time in the vertical position. Despite eating a meal before I went to the Extreme Winetasting, now called the Irregular Winetasting, I was quite drunk when I got home and quite ill when I woke up yesterday morning. And dumbass that I am I went out having washed the sheets but not made up the bed so I had to do that with a buzz on when I returned home Saturday night.

I crawled in bed and turned on Saturday night live comprehended that Paris Hilton was hosting - what the hell? - and promptly passed out. Woke up at 4:30 and ate some Excedrin and went back to sleep until 9:17 am when the phone rang. Ow! I got up and fed the cats and then rested. I got up and ate a little something and then rested. I got up and got out a bag to carry stuff to the superbowl party at Rs. and then rested again.

I rested until about 1pm when I got in the shower and then I had to rest from the exertion of standing upright in my slippery shower with my eyes closed and head tilted back while rinsing the soap from my hair. Dizzy! I ate some more aspirin and downed a litre of water and got in the car to go. I was so nauseated I had to mouth breathe all the way there.

The first thing I did on arrival was drink a beer and ding! I was back in the saddle again. After the second beer I was downright jolly and after the third I was in what has become my mildly buzzed reality. There was lots of good food, but I didn't eat that much because I was so aware of all the calories in beer, plus I had been put to work chopping and once I touch food I no longer want to eat it. Lucky for me I didn't make the guacamole so that was still appealing.

There were people I had met before when I was dating R. and once again I mused over the fact that they seem a LOT older than me. I always feel like I'm partying with my parents and their friends. I mean R. is older than me too, but I don't think of him that way. But maybe he was adapting to me. All of the women were wearing frosted lipstick and had that over processed blond hair. Like if you looked at a high school year book from 1973, how the "hot" chicks used to wear their hair and make up.

But you know I'd had three beers so I was golden retriever friendly. Then the tequila bar opened. Lots of good tequilas - Don Julio, Casa Noble, the expensive Cuervo and something that had a leather and leopard skin carrying case, Tres Hermanas maybe? I tried them all passing around a shot glass with Marvin and Adi. When tequila is really good I don't get so much drunk as drugged. I moved quickly onto water as my head started to pound coinciding with the end of the game.

Speaking of the game it was kind of boring. Big defense games are snorers, but usually the festivities around the superbowl are pretty fun. This year when they opened with the deaf and blind kids singing and signing I knew it was going to be pretty grim. I fully expected Up With People to perform at halftime and Paul McCartney in a bad t-shirt singing Hey Jude wasn't that far off. Though I bet if you were there it was pretty cool. Still it wasn't ZZ Top or Kid Rock or Lynard Skynard. The commercials were pretty blech too.

So it was good that I had a buzz on for most of the game otherwise I think I might've taken a nap. It wasn't until I was talking to Adi about a story that I'm working on and he looked at me and said, "Are you sober enough to hear me?" that I wondered if I had been staggering around all day and people were just pretending not to notice, or if he's one of those people who watches how much other people drink. I was watching what Marvin was drinking because he was mixing and I'm always kind of in awe of people who can do that without throwing up.

I was sober enough to stare into Adi's gorgeous brown eyes and I still remember the very salient point that he made which totally changed the way I'm thinking about this particular character and story and now it's back to the drawing board. And I helped clean up and didn't break anything. So I don't think I was "drunk girl" at the party, though I was definitely happily buzzed girl.

This morning I was foggy in the head girl who blew off working out and taking a shower in order to sleep until the very last minute before leaving for work in pretty much the same clothes she wore yesterday.

This week I'm not making any plans - other than to put down the glass.

Friday, February 04, 2005


A. this one's for you.

About 3 years after I got my spectacular breast implants I woke up one morning and had to pee, like really bad. And when I went to the bathroom I was amazed at how much I peed and peed and peed. But it was pretty early in the morning, and it was a Saturday and I was a tad hungover so I went back to sleep.

I got up several hours later and got in the shower, and it was here, as it so often is with us women, that I realized that there was something not quite right about my left breast. It wasn't quite as specatacular as the right one. In fact it seemed a little droopy. But I was going shopping with a friend and I was running late so I put on a bra to better support my droopy left breast, thinking, I don't know what really, like maybe it just needed a little uplifting to get back into it's normal perky position.

I met my friend and we had lunch and I continued to pee with great alacrity and by the time we were in the dressing rooms trying stuff on there was no more denying it. My left breast was deflated. Freaking out I had K. come into the dressing room with me and said, "feel my boob? Does it feel different to you than the other one." She stood there in front of me with a breast cupped in each hand sort of weighing them and indeed, I was not going crazy, my left breast not only wasn't so perky it was much lighter in weight.

The fact that my left breast had been reduced to a bag of skin was even more dramatically illustrated when I bent over at the waist and it hung down like a flesh colored triangle similar to those you see on nursing dogs, or indiginous tribal women in National Geographic who've had multiple children. It hung there next to my plump and perfect right breast and it looked just plalin old wrong.

Now, there was no risk to my health because all that had leaked into my body was the saline that had been in my now deflated implant, thus all the peeing. I knew this. I knew it could and would be fixed and it wouldn't be that big of deal. My rational self knew this. My irrational self had a complete hissy fit in the dressing room - there were tears, there was kneading of the breast that verged on self flagellation. I called the doctor's office and left a hysterical message knowing full well that no one would be there until Monday. Note that I left a message and did not call the service and insist that this was an emergency. I may be a drama queen but I do know the difference between a true emergency and a vanity melt down.

I spent the rest of the weekend in a bulky sweatshirt with my breasts bound to my chest with the smallest bra I could find because it just felt so weird. When I got the implants I chose a reconstructive plastic surgeon because I was so flat chested that's pretty much what the procedure amounted to. Consequently my skin had stretched A LOT and it was now just a slack sack hanging off my chest. Oh and I also spent the rest of the weekend holding my left breast and looking at it and freaking out.

When Monday came the doctor's office told me that they wouldn't be able to get a replacement implant from the manufacturer for a WEEK! That was so not acceptable. I told the nurse who called me that I was going to drive up to Santa Barbara to the Mentor corporate headquarters and pick it up myself. I was not going to walk around like this for a week!

Okay, let me pause to totally acknowledge that I am vain and shallow and in a world where women die everyday from breast cancer my situation was silly because it resulted from an elective surgery.

So anyway, the nurse made a couple phone calls and called me back to tell me that the Mentor rep was going to drop off a new implant that afternoon and I could come in the next day to have my deflated one replaced. Probably not so great to give me positive affirmation for my whole hysterical baby behavior, but I appreciated it and sent both the office and the rep a Harry and David Tower of Treats and how Neiman Marcus neurotic am I?

I was at the office at the crack of dawn the next day waiting for the doctor and his staff to show up. The surgery took about half an hour and was no where near as painful as the first one because basically it was just like filling a bodhi bag. They had to go in through my old incision, but I heal really well so it's almost completely faded. There was some pain from where they had to cut through the muscle to re-insert the implant under the chest muscles. Still, I was back at work that afternoon with a little Vicodin.

And life went on.

Except for the fact that I am now so paranoid that it will happen again that I am constantly, absentmindedly, feeling myself up.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I haven't been on the computer much due to the verge of migraine. Trying to avoid actually having one and that means staying away from triggers, e.g. light from the computer glare, sugar, etc. But I have to wax rhapsodic about the fact that I have curtain rods, curtains and blinds in my windows. It's amazing how grown up it makes me feel. I've always been one of those people who will take a project, like redecorating a room to a certain point and then stop because I do not have the ability to use the necessary power tools. Actually I have the ability to learn how, I'm just too lazy to do so.

Anyway, my dad came to stay this past weekend and he brought his drills and drill bits and his extensive perfectionism and he not only hung curtain rods and blinds, he also changed out the sockets in my apartment so that they're now grounded. This allowed me to plug in a power strip for the NINE plugs that make my various entertainment center components go. Previously I was using extension cords and had what looked like scary electrical insects stretched across the wall of the living room.

While dad was staying we also ate and talked and ate and talked. My dad likes beer so he drank the Heffeweisen that's been sitting in the frig since the last time I had a craving about two months ago. I didn't drink the beer, but I was still able to share with him my feelings about how spending time with me feels less like a priority for him and more like something to do only when it's convenient. Like when his wife is doing something else and his only option is to be alone. He said that's not true. And I know it's not. But what was important is that I think he understood what I meant. I also told him that although I know his wife doesn't dislike me, if often feels like that because she's a very cold person. It's because she's scared that people won't like her - but seriously talk about a self fulfilling prophecy. When setting boundaries sometimes it's good to be aware that you might be erecting barbed wire fences that most people won't care to get cut attempting to climb over them.

It's nice to know that he sees her "boundaries" as walls, and also that he loves her just the way she is. My parents really have ended up with partners who are more appropriate to who they are at this point in their lives. Teachers to take them through the last chapters. I asked dad why it was the he and mom didn't seem to be friends the last half of their marriage. What changed? He said that she couldn't acccept him for who he was and that was probably due to the fact that he wasn't accepting of himself. Hindsight and all that. Considering the bonding that I was feeling and not wishing to appear judgmental I didn't ask why it is that he seems so mad at her that they can't be friends now.

Baby steps and all that.

Saturday night we went to see Indigo, a movie produced the Spiritual Cinema Center. This is the same group that produced What the Bleep do We Know. I didn't see that movie and I wish I hadn't seen Indigo. It's based on the theory that Indigo children are those kids born in the last 10 or 15 years who are born with a deeper knowing and a different way of being in the world. They are more empathic, more creative, more able to reason in new ways. And in this movie the Indigo kids were psychic and able to heal people with Alzheimer's disease. There were lots and lots of scenes of cars driving with bad movie of the week music playing over and scenes of beautiful Oregon sunsets and forests. The writing was abominable - think afterschool special circa 1971. The acting, except for the little girl was pretty much what you'd see in a student film, made by a student who ultimately decides to go into producing because he realizes he's not a director.

We had to go to my church to see it because it was sold out at all the AMC theaters that were showing it. And in overall weekend box office the movie came in NINTH! The only reason I can imagine that this happened is because of the marketing that the Spiritual Cinema Center did with massive e-mail dissemination. When the movie finally ended we leapt out of our seats and bolted for the doors with the majority of the audience. The girls behind me put it very succinctly when one said to the other giggling, "I've never been so happy for a movie to be over."

Amen sister.

On Sunday I got dad up to watch the Austrailian Open men's final and I ran to Ikea to buy bamboo blinds. I've always wanted them and at $4.99, with someone to install them, totally worth the half hour drive to Ikea and the run walk through the entire store to get to the curtain section. Part of Ikea's master plan is to make you walk through the entire store. You can't cut in from the bottom and go up. There's a secret stairway that one of my friends told me about but I couldn't find it and so I went up to the 3rd floor and ran down.

Dad gave me a big hug and said he'd had fun and would come back soon. And as I waved goodbye as he drove off I remembered the shelves that have been sitting in the hall closet for the last three years. I hope he comes back soon. Not just to install the shelves, but because for the first time in a long time I really had fun being with my dad.