Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

For the last few days, I've been thinking about the resolutions that I could make for myself for 2006. If you let me, I'll go on and on and list about 40 different things I'd like to accomplish or do differently. That's also about 37 different things I'll have forgotten all about by January 2nd.

This year, I'll take it easy, forget about the 37 things from the start and focus on the three things.

1) I'm going to read 40 books, dammit. This was one of my bigger personal disappointments in 2005, seeing that I scaled back to 40 from the traditional 50 to give myself a break, yet still couldn't manage it. For someone who enjoys reading, 28 books is kind of a pathetic number, don't you think? I can do so much better than this.

2) Just five more pounds gone. Please. I think I can do it. I feel disgusting enough right now, with my Christmas-acquired muffin tops and bat wings, that on January 1, my motivation will be stronger than ever.

Actually, I did well with this in 2005. Despite the holiday backslide, I've mentioned before that I managed to lose 10 pounds after buckling down and getting serious. This might be the least I've resolved to lose in years. Maybe next year I can use this space for something else, like resolving to go to Cold Stone Creamery for dessert every night.

3) I'd like to save some more money. I did pretty well in 2005, between my personal savings and retirement fund, and it'd be great to keep it up. I guess this means I can't also resolve to buy more shoes. Crap! My mom was telling me the other day about a friend of hers who has 80 pairs, and my first thought was, "New year's resolution!" But the Mr. would kill me. At least I'd be wearing bitchin' shoes.

There. Three perfectly manageable things. Less disappointment on December 31, 2006.

Have a great new year, y'all. See you on the other side of the hangover!

Turn to Clear Vision

Friday, December 30, 2005

I Didn't Know You Could Break Cameras With Too Much Cute

My nephew Steven, giving some snuggles to his little brother, Jackson.

Two Rare Photos, In Which We Aren't Trying To Poke One Another's Eyes Out*

I'll bet for a second you thought it was Robert DeNiro, right? No, it's just my (little) brother.

I don't know what happened here, but I'm trying not to spit out my drink.

*Courtesy of the Mr.

Once I Really Listened, the Noise Just Went Away

It's 7:01 a.m., and I'm at the ATL airport right now. I wish I had something interesting to say, because I feel like this is my big opportunity to sound really worldly and busy-busy-busy, like I blog during the limited downtime of my high-powered and glamorous job and I type between sips of my nonfat lattes and people wonder, "How does she do it all?" But the truth is, the Mr. and I got off the plane and I asked, "Does this airport have wireless?" and he wondered what I could want to do with the internet at 7 a.m. on a few hours of sleep. Hey, I could totally have stuff. He's so onto me, though. I just like the internet, that's all.

I'm not having any sort of coffee drink, either, because I'm going to need to sleep some more later. And the facade just falls away, doesn't it?

As I'm sitting here, though, people are glancing over at me. Maybe they think I'm doing something huge! I'm closing a big deal! I'm...updating my blog! Which they've probably never read! Unless, of course, they are members of the Site That Will Not Be Named.

Let's see. The flight was OK. It was so bumpy that at one point I tightened my seat belt. I never do that, because those things are so uncomfortable. They make me claustrophobic. At another point, the plane shook and dropped, and there was a loud "Thump!" from the back. I just gripped my book harder and went back to sleep.

Our flight did leave about 45 minutes late. At the time, I was very irritated, but now I'm kind of relieved. This was originally going to be a long layover -- just about two hours -- and now it's a fairly short one.

When I got off the plane, a couple that looked reasonably content while boarding were fighting. Well, she was fighting and yelling and waving her arms, while he stood there helplessly. I tried to linger nearby to see what it was all about, but I have no idea. Then she stormed off and left him to drag both their suitcases. They're not on our connection home, which I was disappointed to see. What got her so crazy?

There was just one baby behind us, but he or she only cried once, when we were getting ready to land. What a relief!

The Mr. and I did online check-in before leaving for the airport, and toward the back of the plane were a TON of empty seats. We picked an empty row. He got the window, I got the aisle (frequent trips to the bathroom and all that) and we thought, "What lunatic is going to pick a seat right in the middle of us with all these empty rows around?" The joke was on us, though. The flight was full, so we had a girl occupying the seat between us and thus, couldn't spread out. But I wound up having a nice sleep, anyway. I owe it all to my fuzzy, soft travel pillow. This thing is ridiculously comfortable and worth what I paid for it. In fact, I might go back and throw more money at the vendor because I'm so happy.

You know you're addicted and devoted to blogging when you're having an internal debate about whether you should sleep when you get home, or post some pictures from your trip.

I haven't decided which side wins yet.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

A Riot of My Own

I've had my iPod for just over three months, and just about the only thing I haven't done with it is put it on "shuffle." I've been afraid to. Why? Well, what if my iPod shows an affinity for Journey or the Carpenters? Oh, sure. I love Journey and the Carpenters, but shouldn't my iPod have better taste than that? Shouldn't my iPod, when left to its own devices, be the snobbiest of music snobs, or at the very least be somewhat selective? I'd like my iPod to be cooler than me, to give me something to aspire to.

So, it was with much trepidation the other night that I finally set the thing on "shuffle" and sat back to see what it would spit out.

1) "Nightswimming" by R.E.M. Good start. "Automatic for the People" is, in my opinion and with the exception of a few songs, a terrific album that reminds me of my sophomore year of college. I breathed a sigh of relief when this came on.

2) "Ann Arbor Grandfather" by Big Head Todd and the Monsters. This is an album I recently added from the Mr.'s music collection, so I'm not so familiar with these guys. But this was a decent song. Good work so far, iPod. You're not embarrassing me. It's all I ask.

3) "Take Me I'm Yours" by Squeeze. OK! Things are looking good.

4) "AT & T" by Pavement. I was hugging and kissing my iPod by this point.

5) "She's a Woman (and Now He's a Man)" by Husker Du. I'm glad my iPod is showing some love for the Minneapolis music scene. I'd have preferred the Replacements, but Husker Du ain't too shabby.

6) "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" by Public Enemy. Just when you think you've got the iPod all figured out.

7) "Steve Berman (Skit)" by Eminem. Um. I should have just deleted the skits when I uploaded my Eminem CDs.

8) "Wait" by the Beatles. Good choice, but the iPod is taking the easy, safe route with this one, isn't it?

9) "Lives in the Balance" by Jackson Browne. The first real misstep. This is probably one of my least favorite Jackson Browne songs, so my heart sank a little when this came on.

10) "Linda Paloma" by Jackson Browne. This is an improvement, but I guess the iPod and I will just have to agree to disagree on Jackson Browne's best works.

I was going to stop at ten songs, but the last two selections were so disappointing that I decided to give the iPod a chance to redeem itself. I crossed my fingers and proceeded.

11) "White Riot" by the Clash. Love affair? BACK ON.

12) "Last Day of the Miner's Strike" by Pulp. Well, it's no "White Riot," but what is?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

This One Didn't Make the Final Cut, But It Should Have

Another one of the Newport/Catalina stories we like to tell is one about Joe. Go look at his picture below before reading on. Cute, right? I mean, just totally adorable. He's still impossibly adorable (and also funny as hell), but man, as a kid...so cute!

Joe asked my stepdad, Eldon, for something, and no one seems to remember what it was, but Eldon said no. Joe was so mad, he stopped in the middle of the street and yelled:

"FUCK YOU, DAD!!!"

All of Catalina, right down to the buffalo that inhabit the other side of the island, heard it. It probably made the local paper the next day.

Don't be fooled by that face.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Just Another Story

Me and Joe, taking charge in Catalina. Dig the giant hair.

It's a rare thing when my stepbrothers Jake and Joe and I are all together in the same room. If we're lucky, it happens about once every several years or so. It happened again this Christmas, and like it does every time, the conversation eventually turned to a couple of legendary trips we took to Catalina and Newport Beach in the early '90s.

My stepdad was sent down to Newport Beach on business, and it was decided that this would be a family vacation. The first year, my dad loaned us his van (sans air conditioning), we loaded it up and head out. Jake, Joe and I thought that perhaps it would be wise to stay up all night, then fall asleep in the van and sleep the entire drive, waking up in sunny Newport Beach rested and refreshed. The plan worked until we found ourselves on the stretch of I-5 known as the Grapevine, which is legendary for the number of cars that fail to complete the journey. The grade of the hill and the heat kills transmissions. Jake, Joe and I woke up just as we hit the Grapevine dripping in sweat. To make matters worse, mom was blasting Linda Ronstadt, and I voiced my dissent immediately. Eldon put on the Doors, and when the part of "The End" that goes "The blue bus is calling us" came on, Eldon took out his blue brush and sang, "The blue brush is calling us..."

After surviving the Grapevine, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We were crabby, hot and tired. Joe and I began to squabble, he told me to "take a Midol" and I smacked him with my open hand. We laugh about it now, but mom and Eldon say he looked a little dazed. Joe says he didn't even know what "take a Midol" meant at the time. He was just repeating something he heard that sounded like it could be funny.

Eventually, Joe and I made up and the three of us became a team again. Each morning, Eldon wanted us to get lost, so he gave each of us a twenty and told us to go have fun. The three of us would agree not to spend our money on anything but the bare necessities and instead, we'd look for free ways to have fun. Our most brilliant "bargain" was to jump off a little bridge that rose about 25 feet over the water. It was a carefully thought-out plan. We saw the bridge, thought, "Hey! Let's jump off of that while we're here. No one tell mom and Eldon." We discussed it for a day or so, decided that it would be wise to go into the water below the bridge before jumping to make sure there was nothing that could impale us. After the water passed inspection, we went back to the bridge, climbed over the railing, sucked in our breath, leaned over...and only Jake went. Joe and I froze at the pivotal moment and watched in horror as Jake plummeted toward the water, all flailing arms and legs, executing a perfect belly-flop.

Jake still thinks we set him up, even though we try to reassure him that up until it came time to actually let go of the bridge, we were dead serious about making the leap.

The next year, we spent a few days in Newport before going on to Catalina. What happened there was so embarrassing that my mother feels the need to trot this out as the capper to any Newport/Catalina-related storytelling binge. I've long since given up trying to stop her from telling it.

It all started in a bar and grill where a local reggae band was playing. Since I was in my thanfully short-lived "I love reggae" phase, I insisted that we all go to the restaurant and listen. When we got there, we were told that after a certain hour, the restaurant would become a bar and all the underage patrons without adults would be kicked out. Mom and Eldon wanted to leave after we had our dinner, but I begged them to allow me to stay behind. They agreed, but about five minutes after they left, I was booted out. The band continued to play, and the music could be heard through speakers outside the restaurant. I decided that the restaurant and their stupid rules weren't going to keep me down, man, so I just danced right there outside. By myself.

It wasn't long before a group of four men eating ice cream cones came by, sat down and began to watch me. They asked why I was dancing out there, and I told them, and they continued to watch. I wasn't really interested in continuing to dance or talking to them, but didn't know how to gracefully stop and walk away. Finally, about five very uncomfortable minutes passed before I saw mom and Eldon making their way up the street. "Oh, thank God!" I waited until they got a little closer, then abruptly stopped and ran toward them. Clearly, it was the graceful exit I had been waiting for.

"What were you doing?" they asked. I explained about the pervy men with their licking of the ice cream cones and the not knowing what on earth to do about it and ohthankthesweetbabyjesus they finally showed up.

Eldon said he and mom had been walking toward me having the following exchange:

"Oh, look at the girl dancing! She looks like she's having fun."
They got a little closer.
"Wow, that looks like Nabbalicious."
A little closer.
"That is Nabbalicious!"

And now Eldon always adds, "And the men! They were just sitting there, licking their ice cream cones and just waaaatching her! Oh, it was so gross! Hahahaha."

We always tell these stories, always in the same order. The same people say the same things like we're all in a play and we know our lines by heart, yet every time, it feels like it's the first time I heard them.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Bring It On

I've gotten VERY good at parallel parking, since I have been doing it almost daily for seven years. It's my specialty, a trick I use to amaze, wow and win over my friends and influence people. I'm not generally a braggart, but if I were to totally brag about something, it would be my parallel parking ability.

And now, I can finally present some evidence. This was taken a couple months ago, but I just received the picture from the photographer.

My car is the one in the center, with three inches of wiggle room. Behold*:




Oh, don't feel too bad for the poor guy behind me. After this was taken, the guy in front of me moved his car forward, and then I moved my car.

*How you like me nowwwww, maliavale?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

When Even I'm Not Worried About Arrest, It Has to Be Cool

Glenn: This is Robin Williams's house, up here on the right.

Me, to the Mr.: Ooh! Hand me my camera!

The Mr.: What? No! You're going to get arrested!

Glenn: BWAHAHAHAHAHA

Me: For what?

The Mr.: I don't know! Trespassing!

Me: I'm just taking a picture, not breaking in. Give me my camera, please!

The Mr.: Fine.

The Mr., as I'm shooting: Hey, you better look out! He has one of those security camera things!

Me: Great! He'll have my picture too, then!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy Mommy

Yesterday morning at 6 a.m., the Mr. and I boarded a plane bound for Atlanta, where we would catch our connection to San Francisco. Just as I was settling in for a little nap (or my best imitation of a nap in those seats), a 3- or 4-year-old girl and her mother boarded the plane and sat right behind us.

"Mommy, mommy. When does the plane leave?"
"Soon, honey."

It wasn't long before my eyes got heavy and I fell fast asleep, because I only got about 90 minutes of sleep prior to that. I was a crank yesterday.

"Mommy, mommy. How do they know when we're ready to leave?"

The plane backed away from the gate with so much speed that I woke up and my first thought was of those elderly drivers you hear about from time to time, the ones who confuse the brake pedal with the gas pedal and wind up in someone's living room right in the middle of a "Home Improvement" rerun.

"Mommy, mommy. That was fast!"

We took off. I put some Wilco on my iPod and passed out.

"Mommy, mommy. What if we fly out the back?"

The rest of the flight was like that, me drifting in and out of consciousness, each time hearing the girl ask another question. I turned up my iPod, but even Jeff Tweedy's soothing voice couldn't drown her out.

"Mommy, mommy. What's first class?"

Her mom was so patient. I don't understand how. Moms amaze me. No, I'm serious.

"Mommy, mommy. How long are we flying for?"

In one of my states of mild consciousness, I wondered what would annoy me more? Having a baby that cried constantly for no reason? Or a kid that asked questions incessantly, each one preceded with "Mommy mommy!"? Oh, I suppose it's good that she's inquisitive and showing so much curiosity about the world and yeah, yeah, blah, blah, blah.

"Mommy, mommy. Why is this strange lady locking me in the bathroom?"
"Because you just don't shut up, honey."

On the next leg of the flight, we were seated over the wing. A woman boarded with her toddler daughter and screaming infant son and they sat in front of us. Now, I'm not completely heartless. I know motherhood is tough. It's tougher that I think I'm capable of handling (see above re: locking kid in bathroom). But, I don't know. Couldn't she have sat at an extreme end of the plane? It was suggested to me that perhaps she was too wrapped up in, I don't know, being a mom to think of that. I can understand that. I mean, it sounds like something I would do. I'd probably do something worse. I don't know what's worse, but I guarantee you I'll think of it if given enough time. I know what's worse. I'd probably forget my kid at home, like in "Home Alone."

Anyway, it turns out that I had nothing to worry about at all. I barely heard the baby after takeoff and both he and his mom did a swell job of keeping the noise to a minimum. There was a man in their row who I thought was the father, but it was just some guy. She was traveling by herself, so I felt like an even bigger bitch for not being patient because she had no one to help her.

But still, it occurred to me later that perhaps there should be crying rooms on planes, much like they have at churches. All the parents with babies and young children can gather in there and rest assured they're not torturing anyone but themselves, and the rest of us can concentrate on other airplane annoyances, like seatmates who want to know your life story.

Shall I circulate a petition?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

This Post Has Been Approved By the Mr.*

There's this guy I see all the time. He's always sure to pay me a compliment and notice if I've done the slightest thing different, in a completely non-creepy and adorable way.

"Your hair looks niiiice today!"

"Hey, new shirt. Cute!"

"Got a haircut, huh? Lookin' GOOD!"

Last week I said to him, "You know, you're really going to give me a fat head!"

"Well, you're just like a pretty picture. You look and you look, and you notice new things each time!"

This guy is most definitely not my husband.

My husband is the guy who came up to me on Saturday and said, "Hey! Your hair looks lighter!" So observant, right? Yeah. Except, I had my hair highlighted almost THREE MONTHS AGO.

I'm so glad someone's been paying attention.

*Really!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Sister Christmas

For a couple years when my stepsister and I were little, we'd spend the week before Christmas devising a trap to catch Santa. We spent a lot of time on this, because can you imagine the stir it would cause if we caught the guy? I'm not sure if we actually wanted to do anything to him or hold him for ransom. We just wanted to see how he got in and out of the house, watch him do his work, then shake him down for more presents.

The usual plan was to set up the trap, then sleep in one-hour shifts, which is just a fantastic plan for a 7- and 5-year-old and totally not destined to fail at all. The first year, Karen took the starting shift and said she'd wake me a few hours later when it was my turn. Naturally, she fell asleep on the job, never woke me for my shift and we awakened Christmas morning to find that our booby trap had been dismantled.

The next year, we got a touch smarter, but lazier. We set up the trap with a string running across the floor in the hallway, and tied to my foot. It would not only trip Santa, but it would wake me when he fell. It had the added benefit of completely eliminating the need for sleeping in shifts. It was brilliant! We woke up Christmas morning to find the string had been cut.

Santa was a sneaky mofo, that's for sure.

We gave up on Santa after that, but we kept the other part of our routine until well after we both grew up and moved away from home.

Our first house, in Fremont, didn't have enough bedrooms to hold both Karen and my stepbrother Glenn, plus my brother and I when we came to visit. Karen's room had a rollaway bed I slept on. The day my dad and stepmom bought it, Karen and I raised it and jumped on it until it collapsed, sending a loud "BOOM!" rattling through the house. My stepmom came into the room to find out what happened, and we were all whistles and innocent looks.

On Christmas Eve, we'd pull out the rollaway and sleep next to each other. Karen always woke up first on Christmas morning. She'd climb out of bed, wander out to the living room to go look at the tree, then run back into our room, jump on my bed, smack me with a pillow and, if Christmas had been good to us, she'd shriek "WE GOT THE BIG PRESENT WE GOT THE BIG PRESENT!" Every year, my dad and stepmom would alternate whether the boys or the girls got the big present, as in, the physically biggest present. We hadn't figured out the "small packages" adage yet.

We moved across the Bay to Foster City when I was 13, and the new house had enough space for everyone to have their own room. Despite that, Karen and I decided we would keep up our Christmas routine. I'd sleep on the rollaway in her room and she'd beat my ass with a pillow in the morning and scream about presents in my ear. The routine continued after I moved to Florida in 1998 and came home for holiday visits.

We finally had to knock it off in 2001 after Karen got married. I don't think her husband, Ray, would have been so wild about me sleeping next to them, and he definitely wouldn't have tolerated her pillow smackdowns as well as I did.

I think that was the Christmas I finally realized we had to grow up whether we liked it or not, and things weren't always going to be the same. Our pancake face breakfasts have been upgraded to eggs benedict, and we're not so fooled by the huge boxes anymore. Oh, and we can pour ourselves a few drinks at the family Christmas party and feel free to get a little tipsy. Growing up isn't all bad.

***

Tomorrow morning, way too early for my tastes, the Mr. and I are going home to the Bay Area for a bit. I have grand plans to update often, especially the week after Christmas. I'm also bringing my cord to upload photos periodically. We'll see how it all shakes out. If you don't hear from me, I hope all of you have a wonderful [insert holiday here].

Make Up My Room, Dammit!

I could live in a hotel. I'm serious.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Brennan


Hands Project

Friday, December 16, 2005

Kimberly

One for the Hands Project.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

That Part About Me Getting An E-Mail About This? True.

Darren chronicles the events of this morning way better than I ever could.

Here, when I saw this morning that my stats were blowing up, I thought that I was famous in the good way.

You should also know that I have hundreds more visitors than normal today, too. We're not talking a few dozen. Just when I think I've nailed down what topics bring in the readers, my mind gets blown...

Rear Window

Don't Fence Me In

The Mr. and I went to see "The Squid and the Whale" last night. I had been caught up in running errands all day and the movie was more or less a last-minute decision. As soon as we sat down, I panicked. I didn't know how long the movie was. I also didn't know what it was about, although I had heard it was good. I had just completely forgotten to look.

Before I see any movie, I can't relax and enjoy it until I know the length in minutes and have a brief synopsis. In a theater, it's a little easier to lose yourself and forget about how long a movie is, but at home, I find my eyes constatly drifting to the counter on our DVD player to see exactly how far into the movie we are. I wish I had some sort of insightful explanation for this, but I don't. It has nothing to do with whether I'm actually enjoying the movie.

Luckily, the "The Squid and the Whale" turned out to be great, and clocked in at a really short 88 minutes.

I'm pretty sure my compulsion to know how long a movie is and what it's about began after "Dances With Wolves." My mom and grandma had been dying to see the movie, and they dragged my brother and I to see it in the theater. Mom mentioned that it was about a man who encounters some Native Americans, so I gamely went along, not realizing that that damn movie was more than three hours long, and had about four false endings. I was ready to poke my eyes out.

Shortly after the movie was released, I was working as a hostess in a restaurant. One Saturday afternoon, two women came in asking to be seated and fed immediately, as they had just come from a showing of "Dances With Wolves." They hadn't realized how long it was and one of the women was a diabetic and had gotten sick. I could certainly relate.

Ever since then, I'm not really a fan of the 3-hour epic. Sure, I'll go, but I need to mentally prepare myself for sitting there for that long. One night, a friend and I went to see "Short Cuts" in the theater, and the movie is anything but short. I loved it so much that when I recommended it to people, I didn't cite the interesting storylines, or the cool way everything is interconnected, but "It doesn't even feel like three hours! Seriously! I thought it was 90 minutes, tops!" Any movie that doesn't feel like three hours is aces in my book.

Of course, I did make an exception for "Titanic," which I saw an embarrassing number of times in the theater.

I do the same thing with books. As soon as I begin a new book, I must immediately flip to the last page to see how long it is. Then I read the inside cover to get an idea of what the book is about. If there's a picture of the author, I'll check that out. Then I can get started on the book. I can't just dive in and enjoy the journey. The page number hangs in the back of my head the entire time I'm reading, and like with the movies, doesn't mean I'm not enjoying myself. I think I must just like knowing where I am in relation to things.

When I told the Mr. last night about my book compulsion, after asking, "Why?!" he told me that sometimes he flips to the back and reads the end. I did that once, with "Where the Red Fern Grows." The dogs die at the end, so I was, of course, totally distraught. Then I read the book and actually got the full story and was just despondent.

I also can't watch coming-of-age movies about pets. Jasclo has told me numerous times that I need to see "My Dog Skip," but I don't think so. I can already tell you that the dog is going to die at the end. I don't care if it's "heart-warming." It's the same reason I haven't seen "Old Yeller." Dog die=me not interested. Dog live forever=OK, maybe we'll talk.

Next up: why I need to spin around three times before climbing into bed.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Brooklyn Redux

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Door

Some Things Never Change

In high school and college, I had a certain knack for falling for the wrong guys. There was Nick, the guy who broke up with me via the postal service over the summer. It was after I sent him a postcard of the "Hotel DeVille." I was so mad when I received his letter that I crumpled it and prepared to throw it in the trash, but couldn't. I opened it again and again, and re-crumpled it as many times. I showed it to all my friends. "Rude" was the verdict. There was Tom, the heavy metal/horror movie freak I kind of liked, but who embarrassed me. He was just so loud and showy, I couldn't stand to be seen with him outside his dorm room. George couldn't make up his mind about whether we should date or not, so he toyed with me all through junior year until finally, finally, I had had enough. There was Larry, so demanding of my attention but so stingy with his own.

Now that I'm married (to someone delightfully appropriate, I might add), I've found another inappropriate thing to fall for: TV shows. Sure, I watch some crap. But I think it's just a defense mechanism after years of heartbreak. I've built a wall around myself, and I don't let just any TV show work its way in.

It all began with "Relativity," starring the adorable Kimberly Williams as Isabella and David Conrad as her boyfriend, Leo. It's murky now, but I think it was about three sisters and their various dilemmas. One was messing around with a teacher, I think. Another one, who was married, was hooking up with Leo's best friend, played by Adam Goldberg. Sure, it was soap operatic, but it was smart. Midway through the season, it wasn't looking good for the show, so I tried to rally my friends around it. I was successful, but unfortunately, Nielsen doesn't care what four people in a tiny apartment in San Jose think. Adding insult to injury, the final episode ended with Leo proposing to Isabella and you don't get to see her answer. That might have been ruder than Nick's letter.

A few years later, I discovered "Cupid," starring Jeremy Piven as the brilliantly manic Trevor Hale and Paula Marshall as his cool, logical psychologist, Claire. The premise was that Trevor was really Cupid, banished from Mt. Olympus and sent to live among the mortals. He had to make 100 matches sans bow and arrow before he'd be allowed to return. Trevor was deemed mentally ill, and each episode featured Trevor and Claire duking it out over whether you should love with your head or your heart, or maybe a little of both. The show had it all: comedy, drama and occasionally, major tearjerking.

If you're able to watch "The Heart of the Matter" episode and not cry like a baby at the twist ending, well, I salute you, you robot. Cupid really could have been a major hit if the network hadn't changed its time slot every freaking week. When things began looking dire, I sent a letter of support to the powers that be begging and pleading with them to keep it on the air. Unfortunately, the network doesn't care what a 20-something no-name on the East Coast thinks and they axed it. And just to twist the knife into my heart a little harder, the final episode aired on Valentine's Day.

I was lucky to find someone online who had taped every episode, though. Every few years or so, I'll take out the tapes and watch the episodes back to back. And cry. A lot.

After that, the Mr. and I discovered the sitcom "It's Like...You Know," which was just a victim of unfortunate timing. It debuted right around the time "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" was going crazy, and the network cleared the schedule to air "Millionaire" 24 hours a day. It never had a chance.

Then, there was "Freaks and Geeks." Oh, that show. I'm getting a little choked up here. This was the saddest one of all. I have the geeked-out special edition DVD, which I watch periodically. Little Sam Weir, and his crush, Cindy Sanders. Lindsay and Nick. The giant, scary Norseman mascot head. Biff from "Back to the Future" as the P.E. instructor. Bill's disco dancing, which he thinks is totally going to get him the ladies. Millie, the tense nerd. I mean, when she sits down at the piano at the keg party after announcing to everyone that she can have more fun than anyone without drinking and plays "Jesus Is Just All Right With Me," I die laughing. I'm having trouble collecting my thoughts. I...I can't go on.

Finally, there's "Arrested Development," and we all know what's going on with that one. I'm really rooting for it to stick around, but I'm not getting my hopes up about it. History has not been kind. I knew I shouldn't get attached, but it's the price you pay for true love.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Hotel

Don't Blame The Sweet and Tender Hooligan, Because She'll Never, Never Do It Again

I get weak whenever a police cruiser pulls up behind me. My legs go numb and I start running a mental checklist of things I could be pulled over for. Did I fully stop at that last stop sign? Am I going the speed limit? Are my lights in working order? Are there warrants out for my arrest? Have I run someone over and not realized it? Even though I've done nothing wrong, my guilty conscience kicks in big-time.

When I was growing up, outside of ghosts, I think one of my biggest fears was getting a ticket or being arrested. You can maybe see why: I have a dad, two grandfathers, an uncle, a cousin and an aunt who are or were in various branches of law. You'd think it would be just the opposite, that perhaps I'd think myself invincible with so many people around to get me out of a little jam. I'd go around breaking the law left and right, and if I were ever caught, I'd announce, "Do you know who my father is?"

But dad made sure we didn't grow up with that attitude and instead worked hard to instill a sense of respect with a heaping tablespoon of paranoia about the po-po. He'd remind us in not-so-subtle ways that if the cops were intent on catching a criminal, catch them they would. You can run, but you can't hide. And once you were caught, you would be shown no mercy. He occasionally took me on tours of the county jail, where on one visit, a prisoner barked at me. I'm pretty sure the message was, "Misbehave, and this guy is going to be your roommate."

On more than one occasion, he asked us kids who left a mess in the living room or kitchen. After we had all vigorously denied responsibility he'd calmly ask, "Are you going to make me dust for fingerprints?" We sputtered our confessions immediately.

He never had to resort to actual dusting, although I think we should have called his bluff just once, because I just don't believe he had a fingerprint dusting kit until years later in his work as a homicide detective, if he ever had one.

Growing up in perpetual fear of the police didn't exactly make me law-abiding in my teen years. I just knew that whatever I did, I had to take extra care not to get caught, because I had seen firsthand what happens to people who don't behave. And my parents wouldn't consider jail punishment enough, either. I could also say goodbye to the TV. At the time, I thought I was crafty, but it really was just dumb luck that I was never ticketed or arrested.

My dad's scare tactics worked even less on my brother, who for a stretch of several years was routinely pulled over. While the officer was looking at his registration and license, my brother would casually ask, "Oh. Hey! Do you happen to know my dad?"
"Who's your dad?"
My brother would tell him his name, and the officer would almost always say, "Oh, yes! Wow, he's a good guy! You must love having him as a father. It's great to meet his son! Well, forget the ticket, and tell him I said hello! Have a nice day."

This is just one more example of how my brother was born with the charming gene. If I tried that, I'd be sitting in the back of a police cruiser with a cop up front telling me that my dad sure must be disappointed at the way I turned out. Of course, the one person my brother had a little difficulty charming was dad, who eventually got wind of what he was doing and told everyone in the department that if they pulled my brother over, he was to be given a ticket. That put an end to that.

My lucky streak nearly came to a screeching halt one night at an all-ages club with Trish and Peter in college. They were both over 21, and I must have been 19 or 20 at the time. While I bitterly sipped my diet Coke, Trish and Peter knocked back Zimas. I asked Peter what Zima tasted like, expecting him to describe it to me, perhaps let me smell it. Instead, he held the bottle up to my mouth and poured. Before I had even finished the sip, a woman came over, shined a flashlight on us and snapped, "Let's see IDs."

She hauled Peter and I outside and left us shivering in the cold while she went to get a uniformed officer. I started to cry.
"Oh my God, Peter. I can't go to jail."
"You're not going to go to jail."
"No, I am. I got caught drinking! How am I going to tell my parents I'm in jail?"
"Relax. You're fine."
"You don't understand."

He rolled his eyes. It was a Friday night, and I began mentally going over my schedule for the next day. I had to go home, but I probably wouldn't be expected to show up until dinner, which would buy me most of the day to sit in jail.

"Peter, if we went to jail now, what time do you think we'd get out tomorrow?"
"We're not going to jail."

Fine. He's going to be sorry later that he didn't plan this all in advance, I thought. I was pretty sure I'd be out in time to get home, and no one would be the wiser. I'd deal with the other problem -- that word would probably get back to my dad that I had been in jail -- later.

Finally, an officer came over and had Peter and I recount the incident for him. Peter blamed the entire thing on himself and stressed that I really hadn't been given much of a choice about the drink. When we finished, he asked us if we knew what we had done was illegal. "Yes, sir! I know!" I said. He warned us not to do it again, and sent us back into the club. Peter told Trish about my histrionics and they had a big laugh at my expense.

But really, how stupid would that have been to be arrested for a crap drink like Zima?

Saturday, December 10, 2005

My Morning

5 a.m.
The Mr. shakes me. "Can you take me to the airport?"
Me, groggy. "Right now?"
"Five minutes?"
"Mmmphbb."

5:05 a.m.
The Mr., "OK, now?"
"Grrrarghh."

5:10-5:50 a.m.
Drive to airport and back home.

5:55 a.m.
Crawl back into bed, read "Entertainment Weekly" for five minutes to fall back asleep.

6 a.m.
Bliss.

7 a.m.
Alarm to get up, have breakfast and go to spinning.
Hit snooze.

7:08, 7:16, 7:24, 7:32, 7:40, 7:48 a.m.
Hit snooze.

7:56 a.m.
Wake up, drink coffee, eat oatmeal, leaving 10 minutes to do all that and still make it to spinning on time.

8:05 a.m.
Screw spinning, but perhaps I can just go to the gym at 8:30 and use the Arc Trainer. OK. That's the new plan. Yes.

8:11 a.m.
Newer plan: I'll go back to bed, wake up at 9:45, go to the mall to run an errand, then go to the gym afterward.

8:15 a.m.
Or maybe it wouldn't be so bad if I just skipped it all today.

8:33 a.m.
I'm so going back to bed.

No Moleste

Friday, December 09, 2005

I'm Cured! It's a Miracle!

I've had IBS for years. In fact, my symptoms really began in 1996, not long after I graduated college and entered the real world. Coincidence? I think not. I knew I should have just stayed in school and been a professional student. Believe me, I wanted to. My parents, not so much. Before I even enrolled in my first class, they informed me, "Four years is all we're paying for. After that? You're on your own." I probably was destined to get IBS anyway.

Every single night at work, I'd get these intense shooting pains in my stomach. I'd bloat up like Violet Beauregard in "Willy Wonka." I couldn't, ahem, go to the bathroom. It was horrible, and I suffered like that every night at work for the next eight years or so and I didn't know what it was. For a long time, I thought it was cervical cancer. I heard that if you have it, you can get gassy and bloated. My trips to the gynecologist never turned up anything, and some part of me wondered if they were just missing something, or maybe sending my tests to that sham lab I read about in Reader's Digest once. The workers at this lab were under intense pressure to get through as many pap smear tests as possible. One woman was so productive and rushed in her work that she sent back a "cancer negative" result for a woman who was actually positive, and the woman wound up dying and her family sued the lab. Anyway, I hoped my doctor wasn't using that lab. I don't want to be a Reader's Digest feature someday.

Sometime in 2002, I met with my doctor's nurse practitioner for my annual exam and I told her about my IBS. She told me I just needed to relax. It sounds bad, but she was so nice that she was the only reason I stayed with that doctor as long as I did. As soon as she was gone, I was out of there. Her advice was probably the best she could do at the time, because doctors were still figuring out what IBS was and how to treat it. She told me that it was caused by stress, but she didn't seem to know of any medication for it. They make "just relaxing" sound so easy, don't they?

In 2004, I saw some commercials advertising drugs for IBS, so I went right back to that doctor and demanded some: "Me want drugs. Tummy hurts. Gimme." It was the first and only time he ever really listened to me, and asked all kinds of embarrassing questions about my symptoms and I tried to give honest answers without covering my face with my gown and giggling. He put me on some drug that starts with a c? Whenever I felt an attack coming on, I was supposed to pop that under my tongue and let it dissolve. He did suggest managing my stress a little better, which is true. But wouldn't valium make it a lot easier?

The c drug only worked for a month, though. It was getting to the point where I was taking three at once and not feeling any improvement. I went to a specialist earlier this year, and they were very enthusiastic about putting me on Zelnorm. They sent me along with some free samples, and the next day, I noticed how much better I felt. I called the nurse practitioner, raved and gushed and thanked her and promised to name my firstborn after her, but I didn't mention that I was undecided about having kids. They wrote me a prescription, and I began to take it regularly and things were fantastic.

About a month ago, the Zelnorm began slipping my mind and I'd forget to take it. I noticed that I wasn't having any attacks, so I continued to not take it. It's been about a month, and I've had perhaps three attacks this month, a huge improvement. I do take the Zelnorm in that instance, but it would appear that I don't need it regularly anymore. I went to my specialist yesterday, and informed him of all of this. He seems to think that my having lost 10 pounds in the last few months and eating yogurt like a fiend every day was enough to help. Then he praised me for being such a good patient and listening to what they tell me. Awww.

I'm going to miss him.

Bolts

Thursday, December 08, 2005

And Now For a Completely Random Entry

I've been waiting for months and months to share this little tidbit, thinking that the perfect opportunity to write about it would eventually present itself. Some people were of the opinion that it would have worked well in this entry, but I don't know. That was about sharing food and this didn't seem quite right for that. But I'm getting tired of hanging onto it, so here you go.

I used to work with a guy named Jeff. He was tall-ish, thin, wore glasses, a blazer and jeans to work nearly every day. He was also smart, hilarious and snide in way I found amusing, and we became pretty good friends. But one thing he did drove me absolutely crazy.

We all ate dinner at our desks, because in our industry, you really can't get away for all that long. You have about 5 minutes to heat up your stuff in the microwave and grab a soda from the vending machine, and then it's back to your desk to continue working, taking bites between fits of typing.

Every single night, I'd heat up my dinner and come back to my desk. My butt would barely hit the seat before Jeff would poke his head over the partition and say, "Nabbalicious?"
"Yes?"
"What are you eating?"
"Chicken noodle soup, Jeff."
He'd pause to consider this.
"Can I see it?"

That's right. He didn't want any. He just wanted to see it. I'd hold it up so he could get a good look. Every time, he'd stare for two or three seconds before saying, "Huh" and sitting down without any further comment.

He did this to all of us, every night. My friend Tannalee, who sat to my left and diagonally from Jeff, was driven so batty by his nightly "Can I see it?" fests that she started keeping her food under her desk and sneaking bites when Jeff wasn't looking.

Your coworkers can definitely make you insane.

Brooklyn Bridge

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Village

Some Pictures I Found a Few Weeks Ago, Some Of Which I Wish I Hadn't

I found this picture was so horrified that it was just as bad as I remembered that I thought, "Oh, God! Horrible! I have to put this on the blog." I mean, no wonder everyone wanted to beat my ass in eighth grade. I had been blaming it on Lisa, the remorseless rumor-spreader, but come on. This is Exhibit A in her defense right here. The earrings. Coordinated with my top. The necklace, with what, a ring? What is that? And pink eyeshadow. Nice. Dig my hair. What is going on with my hair? And someone get me some braces, stat.

But let me draw your attention to the piece de resistance, the eyebrows. When I met Jurgen Nation a few months ago, I had this picture in mind when I challenged her to an eyebrow-off, but she didn't appear prepared to face the challenge. That's all right. One look at these caterpillars crawling across my forehead and one has to wonder, "Who can?"

No one.












Actually, I think I'm looking somewhat cute here in first grade, but why on earth did my mom let me leave the house dressed like Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz" when it wasn't Halloween? Did I throw an epic tantrum to be allowed to wear this outfit and the Dorothy hairstyle? I hope I wasn't wearing replica ruby slippers, too.











Aww, yeah. Who is like so punk rawk?! I don't know which picture embarrasses me more, this one or the first one. It probably took 90 minutes every morning to slap on all that makeup.

This is the year I wound up in the mental hospital, actually. I'll probably write about that someday.







Well, I did smile some of the time. I posted this picture because I want to talk about how you should be prepared for whatever you find when you Google an old friend from the past.

This is my friend Preston from 10th grade. He had a heart the size of Texas and was so great to me that year. He was just a really, really great friend. I wonder how he's doing and what he's up to from time to time.

A few years ago, I Googled him and found nude pictures. I mean, hey. I'm not one to judge. But what am I supposed to say? "Hi, Preston! Remember me? Saw your nude pics online and just wanted to say hello! Uh, lookin' good!"








This is what happens at slumber parties. Well, this, and saucy renditions of the "Greased Lightning" dance.








For once, this isn't an embarrassing memory, but a fond one. Trish and I went to the Renaissance Faire in Novato, CA, in 1991. We stopped by the Golden Gate Bridge on the way because Trish, being from the L.A. area, had never seen it before.

We had just met and become roommates a few weeks earlier, and she couldn't stop marveling at the differences between Southern and Northern CA. "When you signal to merge, people let you in?!! Everyone is so nice here!" "Oh my God. Look at the squirrels!" "Wow, there is just, like, no traffic here, is there?" It was like hanging out with someone who had been on another planet for the last decade and was just catching up.

It was a gorgeous, sunny day. When we got to the bridge, I ran ahead and busted this move, just 'cause. Then we leaned over the side to spit and watch it drift to the water. Our spit made a splash. Just after that, we turned around to find a sign that said spitting off the bridge was illegal, punishable by fine. We booked it back to her car, and continued across to the Faire, blasting "Lights." It was nice to look at my city with new eyes that day.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

We're So Pretty, Oh So Pretty

In July 1989, I went on an East Coast trip with my family. We started in Orlando and spent a few days at Disney World, then we went up to Washington, D.C. and spent a day or two there. Then we went to New York. The trip just happened to coincide with my "I Am Such a Bad-Ass Punk Rocker" phase, so it was no secret that New York was, for me, about as good as the vacation could possibly get.

I was 15, and had it all planned out. I was going to finish high school and defect to New York. End of plan. Everything else would, um, I don't know, fall into place or something, I guess? Maybe I'd go to Juilliard and study music. Maybe I'd join a band. I'm sure there would be some outfit that would be able to use my mad piano skillz.

At one point during our visit, my family and I took a tour around the Statue of Liberty, and we sailed by some apartments on the river. I picked out my future apartment right there from the water. My dad and stepmom were greatly amused. "Oh? And how are you going to afford it?"
I'd get defensive and snap, "Hey, I'll get a job!" They didn't seem to appreciate my big dreams.

I was obsessed with anything and everything punk back then, most especially the Sex Pistols. Oh, did I ever have a crush on that nice boy, Sid Vicious. I had his poorly received posthumous album of covers (still do, at home somewhere), books about him, the book by Nancy Spungen's mother, And I Don't Want to Live This Life, and I had seen Sid & Nancy about 472 times. If you don't know the story, the facts are that Sid stabbed his girlfriend Nancy to death in Room 100 of the Chelsea Hotel in 1978. Up for debate is whether Sid murdered her or whether Nancy wanted him to kill her in some suicide pact gone awry.

Great stuff, right? I mean, you can totally see why I wanted to stay in Room 100 someday*, or at the very least, visit the hotel. It isn't at all creepy or anything. I did a little research before the trip, because I knew my dad and stepmom would have none of it if I said, "Hey, can we swing by that hotel where Sid Vicious killed his girlfriend? Pleeeease?" If I said, "Hey, did you know Bob Dylan stayed at the Chelsea Hotel? Isn't that cool? Can we go see it?" it sounds much better.

Dad, at first, went for it. It was almost too easy. "Hey, dad, Dylan Thomas once stayed at the Chelsea Hotel. Did you know that?"
"Hmmm, no."
"We should go see it! Yeah?"
"Eh, OK."

But my stepmom got wind of the plan and knew right away what the deal was. "Is that where that drug addict killed his girlfriend? You're not going there!"

Curses!

On Friday, Darren and I took the subway to Chelsea for lunch, and we got a little turned around. While he tried to figure out which way to go, he nonchalantly pointed out a building in front of us, "And that's the Chelsea Hotel."
"Oh my God!" I took out my camera and snapped a few crappy pictures, while I explained my fixation on this place. Oh, sure, I've more or less gotten over Sid Vicious and no longer think of him as suitable husband material, but I still like the Sex Pistols all right. Regardless of where you are in life, for me at least, it's cool to see something you've always read about or just been left to imagine. The Chelsea Hotel was much, much bigger than I expected. It's a pretty building, too.

Now that I've accomplished that "goal," my next one is to do a photographic mission in which I tour the city taking pictures of places mentioned in rock songs, including 53rd & 3rd ("53rd & 3rd" by the Ramones), 45th between 6th and Broadway ("My Own Way" by Duran Duran) and St. Mark's Place ("Alex Chilton" by the Replacements; I didn't realize we were there the other day, unfortunately!).

Hey, at least I've gotten a little more realistic, haven't I?

*In an excerpt I read of "Killing Yourself to Live", Chuck Klosterman writes about visiting the hotel to see the site where Nancy Spungen died. The clerk at Chelsea wasn't all that excited to see him, and informed him that Room 100 is now an apartment and that, no, he couldn't see it. The clerk then went on to complain about the ongoing morbid fascination with the room and how he wished people would just get lives. I logged onto the Chelsea site after reading that article, and noticed they were selling souvenir room keys with "Room 100" on them. They're not there anymore, but it looks like it wasn't bothing anyone too much, huh?

Nabby Had Better Not See This

The Mr., getting inspected by Harvey. I'm pretty sure he passed.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Natalie Lanam

I was going to post about all the fun we had with Darren and Heather last night, but that'll have to wait. Around 3:30 a.m., I got a call from my sister telling me that grandma, Natalie Lanam, died around 12:30 this morning. I'm honestly a bit shocked right now, because I had just talked to grandma on Tuesday and while she sounded weak and tired, she was still there. My dad says she lost consciousness sometime on Wednesday and they knew it was a matter of time. I was so heartened by our visit a few weeks ago, that I started letting myself hope that she'd be around this Christmas.

To say she was an amazing grandmother is to sell her short. You would really only need to know one thing to know how great she was to me: I'm her stepgranddaughter, and she has never treated me as anything less than one of her own grandchildren. I don't think she ever even called me her stepgrandchild. She didn't have to do that, but it's just the kind of person she was. She came to our birthday parties, gave us Christmas presents, she came to my high school graduation, and when the Mr. and I got married in May 2004, she and grandad flew to Chicago to attend.

She bent over backwards for all of us, all the time, and expected nothing in return -- except maybe that we eat when she offered us food. Woe to the person that turned down her quesadillas or Mexican sweet bread. She was on a mission to fatten all of us up. In 1991, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana and Pearl Jam were playing a show at the Cow Palace on New Year's Eve. My friends managed to get tickets, but once I figured out whether I could go, the show was sold out. Nana's good friends were on the board of directors at the venue, so I sheepishly called her to ask if there was some way her friends could get me a ticket, because I really, really wanted to go. She said she'd see what she could do.

A few weeks later, I saw her and she said, "I'm sorry, I couldn't get you a ticket."
"Aww! Oh, well. Thank you for trying."
"I GOT YOU FOUR!"
Commence joyous screaming. She said I sounded so excited about the show, she couldn't help herself.

Nana was the most incredible cook. Her tamales were locally famous. Ever since I can remember, all the women in the family would gather at her house a few days before Christmas to churn them out by the hundreds. We would laugh, fling masa at each other and gossip. When the tamales were done, a few dozen would be set aside for the family dinner on Christmas Eve, and the rest were handed out to friends in the neighborhood. The tamale recipe was handed down through several generations, and Nana became so well-known for them, she's been featured in the local papers a few times. I don't know what's going to happen to this tradition. It's not going to be the same without Nana overseeing the whole operation. I hope the rest of us have learned enough to properly carry the torch.

Sometimes it's hard to nail down just one particular thing I miss about home, but if you asked me today what I missed most around this time of year, it would be making those tamales.

When dad told me a few weeks ago that it wasn't looking good for her, I made one of the most difficult phone calls of my life. I wanted to tell her goodbye and let her know what her kindness has always meant, that to me, she and grandad are my grandparents. She was really happy to hear that, and I'm so thankful I actually got the chance to let her know this. After that call, I decided to pay her a visit in person, and I'm happy that I had that chance, too.