Friday, June 30, 2006

All night in Vegas, Recovery, small town Los Angeles, life as an older sister, and independence.

What a week it's been. I debated in providing several entries for you to peruse, but instead I'm lumping everything into what promises to be a huge entry. I'll try to break everything up for easy reading.

All night in Vegas
I go to Vegas about twice a year. Every time I go, I tend to have more fun than the time prior. This past weekend in Vegas was no different.

We stayed at the Imperial Palace, which is sort of a pit, but it's our favorite casino. Well, it WAS our favorite casino, until they went all Disney Vegas on us and started offering only $15 Black Jack tables on Friday and Saturday nights. Still, the Dealertainer pit is nothing to shake a stick at, and we were grateful for the few times we were to sit and bask in the knowledge of Dolly Parton, and also receive terrible cards from one of the stupid Blues Brothers. However, most of our time was spent DOWNTOWN.

Downtown Vegas is old school Vegas. It's the Vegas you see in movies. It's incredibly tacky and fun and outta control. We hung out at Binion's Horseshoe, where we played $5 Black Jack all night long, and where I won $70 and drank and drank and drank. We hit Fitzgerald's, where I lost $40 of that $70 (BOO!), and then we decided it was time to go home. We left the casino and something seemed really weird. I looked around, totally buzzed, wondering what it was. And then I realized...

The sun was up.

It wasn't sunrise. The sun was full on UP. It was day. It was 6:15 in the morning, and it was day. And we hadn't slept.

The rest of the weekend pretty much followed suit, no pun intended. There was heavy drinking (mainly Miller Lite and Bloody Marys, with a few dirty martinis here and there) and lots of card playing. I ended up losing, but everyone that I rode with on the way there and back won. That was fun for me. However, after my requisite 30 minutes of mourning the loss of my money, I remembered how much fun I had and all was well. (I think it's totally fair to have 30 minutes of a hint of crabbiness after you just lost money and everyone you're with won money. Crabbiness for me = not talking.)

I laughed last weekend more than I've laughed in a long time, and it was awesome. I am so grateful for my beautiful girlfriend and my amazing group of friends.

This section is labeled recovery for two reasons. One, my laptop is back and better than ever, whooo! I cleaned her up when I got her back on Monday, deleting about 1000 pics and freeing up tons of hard drive. So now she runs more quickly and hasn't given me any trouble. Yay!

Two, we needed some recovery from Vegas and haven't had it. Monday we went to play Poker (goodbye another fifteen dollars!!). Tuesday we went to see Sara Bareilles at the Hotel Cafe. Wednesday I went to Happy Hour. Last night, I got a pedicure, Gina went to Target, and I packed for this upcoming weekend (will discuss in a bit), and we watched Six Feet Under and crashed. This morning: more packing, making sure everything is thrown away, everything's turned off, etc. Exhausted. Can't wait to leave.

Small town Los Angeles
After picking up my laptop on Monday afternoon, I went to Target to buy a case for her as I promised myself I would. I was shopping around, as I can never NOT look at every section in Target. It was hot and muggy here on Monday, and Angelinos deal with mugginess as well as they deal with rain. People are crabby and confused. What is this "moisture" in the air? I finally decided to leave Target and who do I run into, but Gina, in line, her arms full of stuff. Immediately, I realize it's stuff I'm not supposed to see.

I say in my sarcastic manner, "Well, well, well..."

Turns out, she was doing some EARLY birthday shopping for me. Since she works in Pasadena and I work in North Hollywood, why on earth would we run into each other at the Target in West Hollywood?? Well, we did, and so a big birthday surprise has been ruined. But, to keep the surprise from being totally out there, I'm not telling you what it is she bought me... you'll have to wait until my birthday. SUCKAS!

Life as an Older Sister
I've talked on here before about my little sisters and how much they mean to me, and how I feel like they're my own kids as opposed to my sisters, because they're so much younger than me and I spent so much time as a kid babysitting them. Because I think of them as my own, I worry about them. All. The. Time. I think about those two girls more than I think about anything else. I miss them, I'm scared for them, and I WORRY. Are they safe? Are they being looked after (even though they're 17 and almost 20 - Happy Birthday on Sunday, Jess!)? Are they making the right decisions?

Jackie, the 17 year old, called me this morning and I could tell something was wrong. She was sniffly and deep-voiced, as though she just woke up or she was sick or she was crying. Unfortunately, she was crying, and after three times of telling her to slow down and explain what was wrong, she told me she was on her way to calling hours for a friend that OD'd. Eighteen years old, and this girl OD'd on heroin, coke, and Xanax. EIGHTEEN. I'm speechless. I'm freaked out. And I hate that my baby sister has to go to a funeral of a friend, not to mention the fact that Jackie is even friends with someone who would OD...

On to something happier...

Happy Independence day everybody! I'm going to Catalina this weekend until Tuesday. Have a safe, happy 4th of July, and among the beer and fireworks, take a minute to remember that despite its shortcomings, this IS a great country, and we are lucky to be here.

Much love to everyone.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Things I have learned in the past week that I should have already known, like, six years ago.

1. CD-RWs do not play in every CD player. As a matter of fact, they seem to refuse to play in ANY CD player. Buy CD-Rs for burning music, and use CD-RWs for saving documents.

2. Saving documents - since the floppy was rendered virtually obsolete, especially for us Mac kids, little do I think of actually "backing up" things. From now on, back up at LEAST once a month, if not twice, or every time I make any changes anywhere. Buy that circle CD case you've been wanting for the past two years and use it for all of your computer files and pictures.

3. Organization - don't worry if you don't have the most practical system of organizing your photos. Don't wait until inspiration strikes you with the most perfect organization system ever. BACK YOUR SH*T UP.

4. Print - Print more photos. Buy a scanner, and scan in old photos like you've been meaning to, and BACK THEM UP.

5. RAM - RAM is like short term memory. The more you have of it, the less you need to rely on long term memory to do different things at once. Buy more RAM.

6. Invincibility - Just because someone ran over their powerbook and it still didn't break, that doesn't mean that the computer is totally invincible. Buy a laptop carrying case, and quit carting her around in the back seat of your car.

And finally, something that hasn't changed: Macs rule. People have asked me several times if this incident with my laptop is the end of my love affair with Apple. "You've only had that thing two years and it's broken? Why not switch to a PC?" This is the first time I've ever heard of a Mac busting up this early. And to be clear, I've had her for over 2.5 years, and she's not given me one iota of trouble until now. My mom has had to purchase a new PC desktop every 3 years, and when she does try to get them repaired, the repairs last maybe 3 months before they start SUCKING ASS again. Furthermore, why buy a PC when the newest Macs run Windows as well as OS X point whatever, AND they can run both simultaneously?!

If anything, this experience has made me love my Mac even more. I checked my status online today - the computer is already on its way back to the Apple Store at the Grove. How's THAT for customer service?

I can't wait till she's home.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Today's edition of Laptop in a Coma (I know, I know, it's serious...)

What was really cool about yesterday was that gina and I got $400 for our housesitting gig last week. What was not really cool was what followed the receipt of the $400 check.

We dashed to the the Apple store at The Grove to make my 6:45 Genius Bar appointment. Somewhere, in the deepest part of my heart, I hoped beyond hope that they would have some magic wand to wave over my little laptop to fix it, or that there was some magic key combo that they could push to bring my iBook back to life.

Needless to say, no such luck.

They took it from me and prepped me to pay nearly $400 for repair and data retrieval. (Da da da dun da daaaa, CHARGE!!) Of course, he asked, "Did you back up?" And of course I said, "Uh... no..." I just backed up some pictures this past weekend through mid 2005, so I basically have a year's worth of pictures on the computer that may or may not be lost. He made sure to tell me that there's no guarantee they'll even be able to retrieve all of my files. So pictures, music, and all of my writing... which granted, isn't a lot, but it's enough to feel sick in the stomach to say goodbye to it.

So there's that...

And then this morning, gina and I went running, which was great. We came home, she showered and left, and then I showered and got ready to leave. And I could NOT FIND MY ATM CARD ANYWHERE. Our apartment is so small... and I couldn't find it anywhere. I finally gave up at 9am so that I could get to my car before I was slapped with another $30 parking ticket (it's one hour parking starting at 8am). I forgot where I parked my car and finally remembered, only to stumble upon it and find... A PARKING TICKET ON MY CAR. But not for $30... for $45! Street cleaning! I am so incredibly careful about parking tickets, and I treat them as though they affect my insurance - getting one is like getting a speeding ticket to me. I treat them like that so that I never get them. Well, last night, neither gina or I thought to check the signs in our neighborhood, which was obviously a mistake.

So of course, I started crying. For no reason other than frustration. I texted gina about my ATM card (do you remember where I set it down?). I got on the freeway and guess what? Traffic. Stopped.

Gina texted a few minutes later - SHIT! I have your ATM card. I'm so sorry! I accidentally picked it up.

Good thing I have $2.00 for Coffee Time!!

Traffic was stopped because of a horrible accident where the car was totally flipped on its side. And then of course, I had an annoyingly humble moment where I realized I didn't have it that bad.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


My laptop is in a coma right now. Seriously. Won't turn on.

I'm sad.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

What's a meme?

And how the hell do I tag someone else?

I know – I'm lucky.
I believe – perspective is the key to happiness.
I fought – with my sisters a lot growing up.
I am angered – by ignorance and mean people.
I love – my girlfriend, my friends, and my family.
I need – my confidence to continue to grow.
I take – figurative things literally sometimes. It's a bad habit.
I hear – women reach their sexual peak at 32.
I drink – water, coffee, beer, dirty martinis.
I hate – mustard, and the word "hate" when referencing people.
I use – baby lotion on my hands and feet before I go to bed.
I want – children.
I decided – to try to put nothing into the world but love and see what happens.
I like – laying in a comfortable bed, watching Six Feet Under on a flat screen TV with my beautiful girlfriend.
I feel - caffeinated.
I wear – flip flops from March to November.
I left – my mom in charge of my sisters.
I do – everything in my power to avoid confrontation or conflict.
I hope – some day I make enough money to buy a house.
I dream – of gina and I having kids, a dog, and a back yard.
I drive – 12 miles to work every day.
I listen – to KCRW and KROQ in the morning, and Jack FM in the afternoon.
I type – so quickly people think I'm faking it.
I think – way too much about things that aren't important.
I need – to listen more.
I wish – gina and I lived in a bigger apartment.
I am – grateful. Every day.
I compensate – my savings account when I take money from it to do something fun. Well, I try to compensate it.
I regret – nothing.
I care – about bettering myself.
I should – exercise more and write more.
I am not always – in a good mood.
I wonder – if I'll ever accomplish half of what I wish for.
I changed – a lot from ages 22 to 26.
I cry – when I get angry.
I am not – organized.
I leave – my cell phone in my apartment a lot, and then I have to climb back up two flights of stairs to retrieve it before going to work.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


We went to Gay Pride this weekend. I have yet to go through the pictures, but I have to tell you about the most exciting thing that happened on Saturday.

When we got there, we were, as usual, welcomed with open arms full of free stuff. Bags, frisbees, stickers, temporary tattoos, free samples, flyers, CDs, contest entry forms. I grabbed a Pride Guide and looked to see who was performing on the stage. They usually have one big name act and a lot of smaller ones. I let out a loud gasp when I saw who was headlining that night.

The Bangles.

The Bangles weren't going on until 10, and we arrived at 2pm. We knew it was going to take an extreme amount of endurance to drink all day and still manage to be awake enough to see the show. We paced ourselves, and despite every instinct to go home, we stayed for the show.

Best. Choice. Ever.

I hadn't really given the Bangles a thought in a few years. More specifically, I hadn't thought about them much since I came out. But as soon as they started singing, the image of Susanna Hoffs from the Walk Like An Egyptian video came to my mind and didn't leave. And I realized, even though I was by no means an MTV kid (MTV was not permitted in my house), and I probably only saw the Walk Like An Egyptian video a handful of times, that image has remained burned in my memory for twenty years.

My cousin Mark was very vocal about the crush he had on Susanna Hoffs, and I remember being very jealous that he was allowed to have a crush on her and I wasn't. And every time I heard that song as a kid, as well as Eternal Flame, I thought of Susanna in that video, just that one part, after she sings her verse, and the camera is on a medium close up of her face, and she's quietly singing, and her eyes are shifting from left to right.

Sigh. I tried to find a screencap of it, but could only find a thumbnail, which didn't seem to that shot justice. Instead, I'll leave you with this shot:

Monday, June 12, 2006

Cut the shit, Britney! and other Ack! files

Britney Spears will be appearing on the Today show on Thursday. Seems Brit forgot that she's fired any stylist that ever worked for her, because she looks terrible. I know she's pregnant... but I think pregnant women are HOT. Britney? Not hot right now. She needs to tone down the bad makeup and put some more clothes on. It makes me sad. Britney, come back to us! Dump the loser and come back!

In other news, and this is my only note from the Ack! files, I read on my favorite news source, Huffington Post that Tom Cruise wants to convert Angelina to Scientology. Have you ever heard me say that Angelina can do no wrong? Well, I lied. Scientology would make me lose all respect for her. It's a fool's religion, created by some science fiction writer to make MONEY. He knew that was the best way to make MONEY - create a religion. This would be okay by me if the religion made any sense at all. Perhaps I need to be some high level operating thetan to understand why I should believe some guy who, 40 years ago, proclaimed that we're all descended from alien pods or some similar bullshit. Perhaps I need to pay hundreds of dollars to be audited to different levels so I can understand why Scientology thinks homosexuality can be, or more importantly NEEDS to be, cured. Also, maybe Jenna Elfman can teach me, for a discounted fee, why she thinks AIDS is a STATE OF MIND and not a disease that deserves funding, and then how she can, in good conscience, seven years later, attend an AIDS benefit hosted by Elton John. And finally, how do you make me believe that psychiatry is not a science? Who are you to tell me that? Who are you to tell the whole world that? It's poisonous, and it's not helping anyone. The Scientologists are minimizing many people's problems, including people that are very close to me. Who knows? Maybe we are over-medicated as a country. But there are some people that need medication that science has to offer, and they should not be made to feel like their suffering is invalid, or can be cured by clearing their mind (and their wallets).

I'm a fairly accepting person when it comes to religion, as I think that every religion requires a leap of faith, and I respect that and appreciate that. But this... this religion is ridiculous and foolish. I'm sure there are good things about it, but it seems like those good things are only yours if you promise to keep paying the church and keep learning, and some of the teachings do, in fact, include something about aliens and 75 million years ago, and Xenu and pods and a volcano.

So Angie, please... no Scientology.

(The comfort: HuffPo's link about this story was to the National Enquirer, and it's one of her tongue-in-cheek blurbs that she often throws on her website - stories that are sort of non-news but make you shake your head and roll your eyes.)

Friday, June 09, 2006

On Angelina...

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt gave birth recently to a little girl named Shiloh. Yeah, I think a couple of small papers picked up this story.

I have a special place in my heart for Angelina Jolie. No, it’s not because she’s hot and I like women… although, that helped at first. Rather, she’s always been crazy and honest and never uninteresting, which you can’t say for many other celebrities. To boot, she’s a good actress. Sure she makes some bad decisions about which roles to play, but she’s a kick-ass actress.

I’ve been a fan of her since ’99, and she’s never disappointed me. People can say anything they want to about her: “Ew! She wore blood in a vial!” or “Ew! She made out with her brother!” or “Ew! She married Billy Bob Thornton!” or “Ew! She broke up Brad and Jen’s marriage!” Of course, people overreact to these things. So, she wore blood in a vial? Who cares? People walk around wearing their own NAME on RICE in a vial around their neck and no one says anything! And folks, she did not “make out” with her brother. Making out means there is tongue, physical groping, and sexy love. There was none of that. Get over it. And Billy Bob? Who cares! They loved each other. He turned out to be a dick anyway. And Brad and Jen? Don’t even get me started. Jen Aniston’s doing fine on her own. She can take a bath in her money if she’s upset (I’m a huge fan of Jennifer and prefer not to victimize her at all – I love her). Divorce SUCKS for everyone, but it’s a popular fact of life.

Anyway, now that Angelina is on every magazine cover imaginable, I feel like I should write something about her. Let’s face it, kids. This woman is an incredible woman. She adopted two children from different countries, which is more than a lot of upper class American folks are willing to do. She has given birth to her own baby now, who has Angie’s lips and Brad’s eyes (cutie!). She’s the goodwill ambassador for the UN. She cares about people less fortunate than herself and shows the world that, not by going to some charity event in Los Angeles, but by actually getting in the trenches with these people and trying to help.

As my friend Christian says, saying you like Angelina Jolie is like saying you like money. This statement was born out of frustration with the lesbian world’s obsession with her. But what better actress for young women to obsess over?

Regarding the hullabaloo about the birth of lil’ Shiloh, my friend Kim said, “It’s like no one has ever had a baby before!” It’s true, people are going ballistic over this kid. But I have to say, the fact is that we see Brad Pitt and Angelina all over the newspapers, magazines, websites, etc. And when my friends give birth to babies, I am all about it. I bring my camera every time I visit and take tons of pictures. I show off the pictures like they’re the most important kid pictures in the land. To my friends that are moms, the birth of their children is more important than any other birth, and the people in their family make them feel that way (ideally). Because Brad and Angie are so visible, people want to see pictures of their baby, because babies are a big deal! It’s just magnified because instead of 30 relatives wanting a peek of a baby, Brad and Angelina have a whole world wanting a peek of theirs. And to my friends that are moms, don’t you think your own beautiful children deserve to be seen by the whole world, even if they never get the chance?

More on Kim… I was there for the birth of her first (and only, to date) child, and let me tell you, on that day, it WAS like no one had ever given birth before. Nothing else mattered but the fact that I just witnessed my friend bring forth a life. I talked about it as though tens of thousands of other mothers didn’t go through the same thing that very day. I’ve told Kim before and I’ll say it again, that day was the most exhilarating, amazing day of my life, and I imagine the only thing that will top it will be the birth of my own child.

I say, way to go, Angie and Brad, for bringing eight more pounds of cute goodness into the world! Because your baby is the most anticipated birth since Jesus, several charities in Africa will split an untold sum that has been rumored to be as much as seven million dollars. Killer! Sure, Angelina hasn’t saved the world, but I’m glad she’s making an effort.

Now, if we could only get as many people to pay this much attention to the Bush administration’s endless mistakes…

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ladies and gentlemen... SUMMER!

While I was comfortably sitting at my desk last week at work in the cool 68 degree office, summer barreled through Los Angeles with no warning, leaving people stunned in its wake.

Sure, it felt about 80 degrees at 10am when we would walk to get coffee. Sure, the apartment seemed a little warm when I would get home at night. But I'm here to tell you I had no idea how serious summer was being this time around. Summer was not kidding around this weekend.

I've been pleading for summer to join us. I'm ready for everything that comes with summer - barbecues with friends, beach volleyball, drinking beer in the afternoon on weekends, swimming in the freezing Pacific Ocean, 4th of July weekend in Catalina. Usually, summer in LA is full of 80 degree days, cloudless skies, a cool breeze, and a sort of disgusting haze (smog) hanging over the skyline. Obviously, you have to take the good with the bad.

This weekend was different. Yes, there were the cloudless skies. But my God, was it HOT. The forecast called for 87 degrees both Saturday and Sunday. When the forecast calls for 87, it's saying it will be 87 in downtown Los Angeles. See this map of LA:

See where it says "LOS ANGELES"? That's right around where we live. Do you see where it says "NORTH HOLLYWOOD"? That's where I work. That's in The Valley, also known as The San Fernando Valley, also known as The Fuckin' Valley, and its gang name, The SFV.

Why am I illustrating the geography of LA? Well, when the forecast calls for 87 degrees in downtown LA, you can bet your sweet bippy it'll be near 100 degrees in The Valley. And the deeper you go into The Valley, the hotter it gets. This is why I don't want to move to The Valley.

Conversely, when the forecast calls for 87 degrees in downtown LA, it'll be no hotter than 80 at the beach (usually closer to 78), in places like Santa Monica, Venice, and the like. And there is always a nice ocean breeze the closer you get to the water. This is why I want to move closer to the beach.

Because as middle of the road downtown LA is temperature-wise, nothing provided relief this weekend.

We spent Saturday morning in Santa Monica with Elizabeth, making buckeyes, which are an Ohio cookie of chocolate and peanut butter. Santa Moinca was beautiful, breezy and warm. And in a moment of sheer beauty, Gina uttered words I will never let her live down. As she could smell the ocean, feel the cool air, and walk on the streets without stepping over trash, she said, "I... I'd kind of like to live down here." (Up until that point, she'd expressed no interest in moving out of Hollywood. And while I love Hollywood, I'm ready to go west, young man.)

All was fine and dandy, we were welcoming summer with open arms. Then... we got home. Our apartment, normally a perfect mix of bright and breezy, had turned into a 350 square foot high pressure system, making it feel quite like the feeling you get when you open an oven to check on a casserole.

Now, I grew up in a house with central air, where during the summer, it was not uncommon to come visit my house and see my whole family in sweatshirts and three pairs of socks. Everyone except my mother, of course, who insisted on keeping the house at near-freezing. Despite my complaints about how cold it was inside, I became very spoiled, and enjoyed the sticky Ohio summers only because I knew I could easily get out of the heat. When I have no escape from the heat, I become cranky.

We had two fans running, including a ceiling fan, and opened all the windows. The usual breeze that inhabits our apartment had gone elsewhere, and left us gasping for air. After about an hour and a half of bitching, I decided on a whim to turn on the wall unit air conditioner. The heating function of this never worked well in the winter, so I imagined the cool air function wouldn't work well either... not well enough to keep it on while it emits harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. I was right... it cooled only the spot directly in front of the unit.

We decided we needed to get out of the house for a while, so we went and ran some errands. Despite my instinct to turn everything off before leaving... despite my instinct to run the air conditioner as little as possible... we left the wall unit on while we were away, hoping beyond hope it might help. And sure enough, when we got back, the apartment was like heaven again. I attributed it mostly to the sun going down, but the next day, before we left for the farmer's market, I turned on the AC. We were gone for about three hours, and when we got back, it was downright cold in our apartment.

Of course, it was only cold in the living area... the kitchen was hot as hell. And wouldn't you know it, I decided to bake cupcakes in celebration of Gina's 30th birthday! today!! So... that didn't help. But Gina got to eat her share of cake batter, got to take cupcakes to work today, and we found out the trick to enjoying our summer.

All is well.