Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Impending Christmas

I know it's been just about three months since I've posted, but I was just linked and I feel like I need to have something new on here for people to see if they happen to stumble here.

I spent most of the past three months unemployed, which was great at first but quickly became rather annoying if not panic-inducing. I just started a fantastic new job about a month ago, which I may or may not post more about in the future. In some ways, it's very different than anything I've done before - in other ways, it's very similar. Stay tuned.

What's really on my mind lately is Christmas. I had a difficult time getting into the spirit last year, what with my heroin-addicted sister AWOL from her first rehab. It was hard to hear Christmas songs. It was difficult to watch all of the Christmas specials. Everything reminded me of the gaping hole she left in my heart. She resurfaced last year on Christmas eve... only to disappear again six days later.

My life changed drastically when she decided to disappear from rehab. My mom moved to Los Angeles (in with us) and my other sister soon moved too. We have quite a full tiny condo. Most of this year, my family was left not knowing where Jackie was. No one had called us to tell us she was dead, so that was the only good sign we had that she was okay. When we finally tracked her down in August, we had high hopes for her newest rehab. She also had high hopes. I'm sure you can tell how the story ends - she left not quite 30 days after she got there.

So once again, she's gone. Once again, a holiday season is upon us and my family is not whole. But this year, I'm prepared for this. When you love an addict, you have to be prepared for really shitty stuff. I'm grateful that I got to spend the better part of a month this year hanging out with her, reminding her how much I love her, letting her know how much I want her to get better and I want her in my life. I have learned that my life is very full and fantastic, and this is one shadowy part in an existence that is truly blessed. I have to believe that she will get better some day, that she will find her way. In the meantime, I have learned to celebrate the good things in my life, and because there are so many of them, I'm embracing the Christmas season with everything I've got. In fact, I feel like I'm already sad that the tree has to come down soon (New Year's Day).

So happy holidays, y'all! Be thankful and safe, and have fun.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Through the ice.

“Maybe I’m too young to keep good love from going wrong…”

This is a lyric from a Jeff Buckley song called “Lover You Should Have Come Over.” It doesn’t seem like that long ago that this line in this song drove through my heart like a stake. Early in my relationship with Gina, I found myself looking at other couples and wondering what their secret was, why it seemed so easy for them. Gina and I have come through a lot to get where we are, and there was a time where I think we both wondered if we could make “us” work. For me, there always seemed to be something bigger at work in our journey, something that was both the destination and the guide, something that made it okay that it wasn’t always easy. I have likened the feeling to being trapped under a very thin sheet of ice without the proper tools to break through the ice. We tried and tried to break through, with no luck, but I knew if we kept trying long enough, we’d get through the ice and be able to gulp the sweet, crisp, fresh air that was waiting on the other side. And we were both willing to keep trying.

It’s safe to say there was a time where it was pockets of brilliance amongst a lot of mediocrity. Never horrible, but rarely blissful. We both understood one thing: we could not understand each other. We talked a lot (hazard of lesbian relationships – women LOVE to talk), but we would both wind up frustrated and confused. About two years ago, we both admitted it wasn’t exactly what we had in mind when we pictured “happily ever after,” and that we both deserved better. Now, I feel like this is the part where a lot of couples would break up. But we didn’t want to break up. We were already in love, and we weren’t angry at each other. So we made a mutual decision to work towards something better.

For me, I stopped questioning everything and started listening. I listened to what she said and what she didn’t say. I listened to myself, to what I said and what I didn’t say. I tried to talk less and listen more. I tried to leave all of the crappy stuff in the past and look at her as she stood in the moment, unattached to anything before. I didn’t pay attention to who she had been or who I had been, but rather who we presently were and where we wanted to be. And none of this represented a change to my foundation – instead, it was a needed maturation. And all of it, all of the work, was a hell of a lot easier than wading through the misunderstandings of before.

It didn’t take long for us to smash through the ice. And now? Now it’s better than I ever imagined it would be. I get a ridiculous amount of joy from her and her place in my life, and my place in hers. I feel lucky every day. She has become my best friend, and every day seems to be better than the one before.

We recently registered as domestic partners, and of course in this hetero-centric culture we live in, a lot of people have asked about me taking her name. Why did you take her name? Is she Gina Papa Hall now? Why didn’t she take your name? The truth is, I took her name initially for two reasons: 1. I like it, and 2. our children will have that last name and I think it’s important to have the same last name as them. But now that it’s official, I feel like a football player wearing the same jersey as my teammate. Of course I wouldn’t wear a different jersey – how will the world know we’re part of the same team? It’s also a hard-won proclamation – she is mine and I am hers. It took a while, but we finally figured it out, we finally have become one of those couples other couples can look up to, and we think everyone should know it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Easing back in

I have so many updates for this space, but to ease everybody back in, mostly myself, here's a quickie for you:

Please don't call it a marriage. That would imply that gina and I are treated the same way married couples are treated, and this is simply not true. Is it a big step? Certainly. Are there certain rights and responsibilities that come with this piece of paper? Definitely. It is still a far cry from marriage, and we are PISSED about that. However, we are proud to announce that we are as married as we can get, and certainly more in love than many married couples out there.

We rock.

-katie j. papa

Friday, June 26, 2009

Thinking about charging them rent...

I am of the information age. I love to learn and I love to be right. My favorite thing about my iPhone is I can answer almost any question at any time, simply by visiting google. So it’s shocking to me that when little seed-looking things started appearing on our bathroom counter, I didn’t immediately google it to figure out what it was. The problem is, I usually think the simplest explanation is the correct one, so I figured the weird little specks were perhaps flower seeds coming from outside, since they were only landing right under the window.

Gina and I lived happily with this explanation for about two months. The more I started thinking about it, the more I started questioning this answer. We’ve lived in the condo for two years. Why is that all of a sudden, some plant life is depositing seeds into our bathroom? I like to think I’m pretty smart, but it took me TWO MONTHS to decide to close the bathroom window and see if the little specks still appeared on the counter. I closed the bathroom window this past Tuesday before we went to bed. I woke up Wednesday morning and sure enough, there were dozens of little specks on the counter.

Over coffee, sitting in front of the Today Show, I asked google, “What are these weird mysterious specks showing up on my bathroom counter?” Google smugly answered, “termite poop.”

Suddenly, it was code red. It was as if we had been infested with killer bees. Something needed to be done, and fast. I called three exterminator companies and was horrified that no one could come out THAT DAY, RIGHT AWAY, to save me and my family from the horrifying termites. I’ve seen cartoons – I know how termites operate. They come in and 30 seconds later, your house is gone, and your jaw hits the floor, and they wave to you on their way to the next house.

Larry from Accuracy Plus Pest Control came out yesterday morning and said, “Yep, you have dry-wood termites.” He pointed to two small holes in the bathroom wall near the ceiling, holes that looked like tiny specks of dirt. Apparently, the little shitheads poop out of the wall. So the good news is, they haven’t been crawling all over our bathroom counter. The bad news is, there is termite crap all over the place.

“That’s gross,” I said to Larry.

He shrugged. “It’s just wood. That’s all they eat is wood. It’s not toxic or dirty or anything.”

“It’s poop!” I reminded him. I could tell he saw my point.

Now the real fun starts – dealing with the HOA in getting the bastards exterminated. Good news: they will pay for it. Bad news: if I were paying for it, it’d be today. You win some, you lose some, I suppose.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

On loving dogs.

I know you're not supposed to admit who your favorite kid is, but anyone who knows me will tell you I am obsessed with our dog Noodle, and I enjoy our dog Aldo. We waited a long time for Noodle to arrive once we decided we'd keep her. We had talked about getting a dog long before Noodle came, and we paid a pretty penny to fly her and her former mom (my cousin) out here for the drop off. There was a lot of build-up, and we instantly fell in love with her.

Aldo, on the other hand, was rescued from the street, literally, and we didn't think we'd keep him. He was stinky, filthy, and covered in dry, itchy skin. He lived with us for a good two months before we started allowing ourselves to get attached to him. And while he has healthy skin now, he is still stinky, and he is still not 100 percent housebroken. And while I admit freely that I might not feel the same way about him as I do about Noodle, I really do love him. He has turned into such a great dog, a dog that doesn't even need a leash outside!, and I feel like I forget that a lot.

Today, we got him a haircut. For some reason, Noodle always manages to smell delicious, but Aldo is funky. So we've decided to get him groomed a little more often, because he smells so handsome when he's fresh from the groomer. He loves riding in the car, which is a huge relief, because Noodle gets car sick.

Here's Aldo on the way to the groomer, before the haircut.

He was so confused, being at the groomer's without Noodle, but he managed okay - the groomer even finished early, and Aldo got a jaunty bandana!

It costs $47 to get his hair cut, but when he's done, he looks so sparkly white and smells like Christmas morning. As we were waking out of the groomer's today, I was looking at how sweet he is, and I was thinking how he really is such a good boy, and we're so lucky to have him. As my heart was filling up with love for him, he promptly threw himself on his back on the dirty asphalt, and rubbed fervently, scratching the itch I'm sure he'd been waiting to scratch the whole time the groomer had him. He flipped back over and his freshly washed white hair was dark gray and gritty.

I can't help but think this is the universe preparing me for the chance that our first child will be a boy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Naturally, on 4/20.

It seems overdone to post about the legalization of marijuana on 4/20. So I’m going to take this one step further and post about the legalization of all drugs.

I haven’t really cared one way or the other about the legalization of marijuana. It has always seemed to me that it should be legal, but I wasn’t one to argue for it because I just didn’t care. It was easy enough for me to get it whenever I wanted (which was never very often), and I was never in danger of “getting caught.”

Lately, however, I have been learning more about the business of marijuana. I heard somewhere that marijuana is a twelve billion dollar industry in California alone. Twelve billion dollars. BILLION. Twelve billion dollars that never gets taxed, that never sees the light of day. That just seems counter-intuitive at its best, stupid at its worst.

While a lot of people, especially in California, would argue for the legalization of marijuana, I wonder how many people would argue for the legalization of all drugs. That’s right – all of them. Heroin, crack, cocaine, meth, whatever. I never thought I would be on board with this, but I’m starting to feel like the anti-drug campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s were less than truthful with me and the rest of my generation about what the dangers of these drugs were. I tried to do some research on the internet about the true dangers of each of these drugs, but it’s all scary propaganda.

Look, I know drugs are bad. I know that. I know meth destroys the part of your brain that allows you to feel. I hate drugs. They are ruining my sister’s life, and thereby doing a number on my life and the life of my family. But I also know that I’m terrified to go to Mexico right now. I also know that all of these drugs are cut with stuff that are in some cases more dangerous than the drug itself. And to be blunt, drug dealers are making a hell of a lot more money than teachers, and that’s not okay by me.

It is all of these things and many more that have made me start to think, why not legalize everything? At least then, government will force regulations on the drugs. Users will know exactly what they are putting into their bloodstream when they snort, shoot, etc. Furthermore, it would seem reasonable that regulated, legal drugs would be safer in general, because they would be REGULATED. And maybe then drug use would be treated more like alcohol abuse or tobacco abuse – as an addiction, and one that you can’t always kick on your own. We would clear out prisons, redirect portions of the police force, and tax an industry that thrives while the rest of the country is suffering. I’m not saying gangs would be eradicated, but the whole landscape of organized crime would change. The Mafia was at its strongest during prohibition. Whoever controlled the liquor controlled the city. Most importantly, we would be able to be honest with future generations about the dangers of these drugs, instead of just scaring them into not using, because the scare tactics? NOT WORKING.

There are many very intelligent people – doctors and scientists – who say that a lot of these drugs are not as dangerous as we are made to believe. Let’s take my sister’s drug of choice: heroin. A normal dosage of heroin will most likely not kill you. Is it bad for you? Of course. Does it put holes in your brain? Boy, does it ever. Will one dose get you addicted? Hells yeah. But it probably won’t kill you. What is MORE dangerous than the actual heroin is the life you lead as a heroin addict. First up – malnutrition. You’re not that hungry when you’re high, so you lose A LOT of weight in an unsafe way, and your body gets little to no nutrients. Because you’re not eating, you will probably get constipated. We all know how fun that is. Secondly, the no-brainer – dirty needles. This is by far the dumbest things heroin addicts do: share needles. This is a surefire way to contract something horrific and die. Third – injecting ANYTHING repeatedly, even if it’s saline, will lead to collapsed veins. Fourth – even the most experienced drug users will overdose, because they are always chasing that first high, which they will OF COURSE never get. Too much of anything will kill you. And lastly, heroin addiction is so powerful, addicts will stop at nothing to score their next high (I’ll leave it to your imagination), and we all know when your inhibition is lowered, you are in much greater danger in general.

I have no idea if legalizing heroin and other drugs would change any of this, or change the manner in which users get high. But I feel confident that it’s a topic worth a lot of discussion, because at this point, in my family and in this country, we suck at this war on drugs thing. I also know that what we are doing now is not working.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


Gina and I joined a dodgeball league via The Eagle Rock Yacht Club. The E.R.Y.C., as it is known to us insiders, is a social group formed by some cool kids with the intent of finding stuff to do that is cheap and fun, and also to figure out ways to give back to the community. As if this weren't perfect for us already, the dodgeball games and most events take place within a mile of our house.

Dodgeball! It can't be that hard, right? After all, we all played when we were in middle school and it was on of the more fun games they had us play in gym class. You throw a ball, the other person dodges it or catches it, that's it.

Last night was the first game. It wasn't so much of a game as it was a meet-your-new-team and see who sucks and who doesn't. Gina and I? We suck. I don't remember the balls being that difficult to throw accurately. But we had a lot of fun, and drank beer afterward, so no one is complaining.

Well, that's not entirely true. There is the whole issue of our team name. A lot of these people have played before, so the other three teams came with good solid names and one even came in uniform. We seem to be the leftover team, strung together with all of the newer people. And that's okay by me, but the team name that had been chosen for us was Pearl Necklaces. I could probably think of a more offensive team name, a name that would be more alienating for gina and I, but it would be difficult. Gina and I are on the same team, and we were both sort of annoyed that it was going to be Pearl Necklaces, but hey, we were the new guys, who were we to say anything?

I started to realize how male-centric all recreational sports names are. Some friends of mine were on a kickball team named Wonderballz, that had a team handshake mimicking a testicle tickle. I think I heard of another kickball team named Family Jewels. And now Pearl Necklaces. It got me thinking... what is it with guys and their junk? Why is it so funny? And even for straight women, do they really want to be on a team called Pearl Necklaces? I can only imagine what the uniform would be. *shudder*

We didn't complain, but apparently some people did, because an email went around today asking for new team name suggestions. I wanted to be really sarcastic and try to think of stuff that would be alienating or gross to guys. I came up with Cervical Mucous. Sadly, girls just are not as gross as guys when it comes to their junk. I didn't share my suggestion, but instead shared suggestions that everyone could enjoy:

scarlet letter
sex on fire
hilarity ensues
grammar police

An email just came through with the suggestion "Incrediballs," which I actually kind of like, as long as there is no testicle tickling handshake.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Testing limits.

After what has felt like four months of non-stop rain and chilly weather, we finally had a break here in Los Angeles over the weekend. The sun shone and the temperature hovered around 80 degrees. The air smelled great and was crystal clear after all of the rain we've had, and it was one of those weekends that reminds you why you live here. I'm sure people did tons of outdoor activities - walking, hiking, biking, roller blading... I slept.

Bad timing has always been a forte for my body. I couldn't have caught this ass-kicking cold when it was raining inches every day for two weeks. My body had to wait until the sun was shining and spring was springing.

It started with a sore throat and turned into a "breathing optional" sort of event. I've blown my nose more in the last six days than I have probably my entire life. And still, I can't really taste anything. Soup and I have become very close over the last week.

The weekend was not a wash. I refused to let it be. We saw Rent at the Pantages on Friday, with Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal reprising their roles as Mark and Roger respectively. Anthony Rapp is still as spry as ever - Adam Pascal has aged. Overall the show was good, not great, but very enjoyable and we had a lot of fun.

Saturday morning, I went to get a massage courtesy of my unbeatable girlfriend. I did not want to cancel the massage because of my cold because I was SO looking forward to it. But really, I should have canceled it. I do not recommend any situation where you have to lay face down when you have a runny nose. You can paint the picture yourself. After the massage, I napped, hoping to make a miraculous recovery in time for our scheduled happy hour at Fiesta Cantina in West Hollywood. No such luck. Still, I was a trooper and went to happy hour and had a great time, until the very end when I was suddenly and overwhelmingly miserable. Turns out tequila, yelling, and second-hand smoke do not make a good cold remedy. I was in bed by 10pm.

Sunday was another beautiful day that saw me inside for the entirety of it, starting in the morning with what I imagine were delicious chocolate chip pancakes courtesy of gina. I could just taste the chocolate. This was followed by more napping, and then dinner with mom and Jesse and Paul, where I not only was unable to taste my soup and salad, I wasn't even charged for it!

Today, day six, I woke up feeling marginally better, better enough that I can see the light at the end of the Common Cold tunnel. I know now that I won't feel like this for the rest of my life and I will indeed eventually get better. I haven't even needed one tissue yet today. Things are looking up!

Oh, and the rain is back. Seven days worth of rain, to be exact, perfectly coinciding with my recovery. Rad.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Calling bullsh*t on Chuck Taylor

We are in the middle of a ridiculously rainy season here in Los Angeles. I usually have a rule that prohibits me from wearing my Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers on rainy days, but my outfit today was such that no other pair of shoes really "went," so I threw caution to the rainy wind and wore them today. And all day, my feet have been freezing.

Now, I love the way these shoes look, but I'm starting to realize what a racket Converse has got going on with these shoes. I feel like when I used to buy them as a kid, they were around $20. Now, if you buy them at a regular shoe store, you can't get them for less than $40. Even if you buy them at a discounted shoe store, they're between $30 and $35. Folks, these shoes are NOT comfortable. I mean, they're not uncomfortable, but you can't really wear them to Disneyland, for instance. There is no support anywhere in the entire shoe. The canvas is so incredibly thin, and there are little eyelets in them, so there's very little protection from the elements.

On top of this, once you buy a pair, you need a good two or three weeks to break them in before they are even tolerable. Don't plan on wearing them to the movie theater, where you have to walk from the parking garage to the theater. Don't plan on wearing them anywhere that requires walking.

How in the world are we paying $40 for these shoes? It's insane. We deserve cold, wet, sore feet.

In other news, I totally need another pair.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


New post time, I suppose. After all, it has been WEEKS since my last one. So here are some things on my mind.

1. Update - A few weeks ago, I gave you guys this post, all about my sister, basically. Well, a mere two hours after I published that post, I found out that Jackie left rehab, again, and again I spent a week crying at the the drop of a hat and coming to terms with the situation. So I think I'm back to where I was before she came back the first time - broken-hearted and hopeful. What else can I do? Hope.

2. Kings of Leon - it's been since Death Cab For Cutie's Transatlanticism album that I've been obsessed with a band. I purchased Kings of Leon's latest from iTunes and have listened to it no less than 10 times since Saturday. LOVE IT. Want to see them when they come to the Forum Aug 22.

3. Reproduction - I know an absurd amount of women who are pregnant right now. There are four women at my company who are pregnant and one who just gave birth in December. There is another woman who USED to work at this company who is now pregnant (I just found out the other day). Also, my friend Tiana, who I really only see in July when we all go to Catalina, is also expecting. And of course, Dooce is going to have another little rugrat as well. Now, I am thrilled for all of these great ladies having babies. I LOVE babies! I am so excited to have so many opportunities to play with them! However, I liken this situation to being the last one in your grade to turn 16 - you see everyone else getting their driver's licenses, and you're left to wait until it's your turn. Sure, you're happy for your friends, and you take full advantage of them having driving privileges, but there's a part of you that just wishes it was your turn, too. And suddenly, once you get your license, the six or eight months you had to wait behind everybody else doesn't seem like very long at all.

4. Because I am one of the only women at work who isn't pregnant, I am able to partake in days like this past Sunday, where I went to brunch with a bunch of my good friends at Hamburger Mary's in Long Beach, where they think it's a great idea to charge you a $1.00 for unlimited mimosas. And because none of THIS group of friends is pregnant, pictures like this are not totally socially unacceptable.

5. Travel - I traveled so much for work that when I stopped, I had literally no desire to go anywhere. Tonight I break my 11 month streak of not getting on an airplane. Gina and I are headed to Chicago for Valentine's Day weekend, and also to see a play written by none other than our friend Amy. Pictures to follow, for sure.

And that, my friends, is all I got. (I actually have one more thing, but I'll save it for a separate post. It involves our poodle and separation anxiety on my part.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Call to service

In honor of Barack Obama's inauguration yesterday, I think today is as good a day as any to give you some ideas on where you can donate your time/money this month.

My friend Jamie is volunteering with LA's Homeless Count '09. Every year, this organization counts the city's homeless so that proper funding can be requested for services. This is actually happening next week, so hurry and sign up if you're interested.

On January 15th, a guy I went to school with lost his wife to melanoma. She was 31 years old. His name is Rich, her name was Rachel. He has a blog chronicling the battle here. It is so incredibly sad to think that someone so young has to go through losing his wife, and also that someone so young had to battle a cancer so violent and viscous. Gina and I were unable to attend the funeral, but we're going to donate to:

University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute Development Office
UPMC Cancer Pavilion, Suite 1 B
5150 Centre Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15232

If you'd rather do a donation online for a more general fund, check out the Melanoma Awareness website, with links on the left side of the page on where to donate.

If you want to donate time but can't figure out where to go, check out Volunteer Match. This website will give you listings of places that need volunteers - all you have to do is enter your location and what volunteer opportunities would interest you.

Starbucks is giving away a free tall cup of coffee if you pledge five hours of community service! Click here for details!!

Lastly, if you have any ideas for the Obama administration on what you want your country to look like, go to and send President Obama some suggestions.

Peace out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some said it was the weekend of dreams… and it was, it really was.

I wish every weekend could be like this past one. Not only did I have a blast, but I made good on three of my resolutions! Prepare to experience the fun…

Friday night: I went for some after-work drinks and pool at Johnny’s, a bar in my neighborhood I’ve been meaning to check out since we bought our condo. (Resolution: go to more new places in LA – check.) Small with one pool table and a jukebox, this bar is right up my alley. After drinks, my work buddies and I went to a colleague’s house and played poker.

I TOTALLY WOULD HAVE WON, but I started being super risky the closer it got to 9:00 because I had a birthday party to go to. As it stood, I had to leave my chips to Jake’s care before I left, and we lost. Sigh.

After poker, gina, Justine, and I went to The Dresden Room for a birthday party. The trip continued to fulfill my visit-more-new-places resolution. I lived in Hollywood for a long time, very close to this bar, in fact, and never went. It’s kind of a crime – The Dresden Room is a Hollywood standby. I’m glad I finally got a chance to check it out.

Saturday, gina and I went to the Self-Realization Fellowship Center at the top of Mount Washington in LA. A few people had recommended we check this out. We weren’t sure what to expect – we basically walked around and enjoyed the gardens and the view, and I naturally took some pictures. I’m going to research this place a bit more and possibly post a more detailed description.

I also figured out how to use the digital macro feature on my new camera and took some shots of my ring:

After exploring the Center, we went to see The Reader (finally), which fulfilled another resolution: see more movies. The movie was fantastic, and Kate Winslet is quickly becoming an obsession.

After the movie, we went to Hugo’s Tacos in Atwater Village, continuing to fulfill my resolution to try new places in LA. We had never eaten here but had heard good things. The good things were correct. This place rocks.

Sunday, gina had to go to Catalina. While she was gone, I worked on another resolution by going to the gym and getting in a great workout. Sunday evening, we went and saw Frost/Nixon (finally!). Another fantastic movie. The movie theater, a straggler in the Burbank mall, pretty much SUCKED, but the movie was great.

We both had Monday off, and had plans to go hiking in this place we’ve never been. However, Jesse and Paul called and offered us tickets to the Clippers game, another first for both of us! We went, and learned quickly that the Clippers are not very good. But we had a lot of fun and a lot of beer. (Which might have canceled out the gym visit I made that morning, but whatever.)

And when the weekend was over, it was somehow okay that we had to go back to work today. Maybe the trick to getting the most out of my weekend is to actually DO stuff, and then it won’t be so bad that I have to go back to work, because at least I made the most of my weekend. And to top it off, Barack Obama became President today! Boy howdy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

On track to a better '09.

Remember five days ago when I posted this entry about my resolutions for 2009? Well, less than 24 hours later, I broke number resolution number 3 by plopping down just under $1000 for a weekend trip to Chicago for gina and I. I broke the resolution without even remembering I had made it! Comical, really.

The good news is, I'm keeping resolution number 5, to travel a little more, to get back into those fee-friendly skies. We're headed to Chicago to see a play written by my lovely and talented friend Amy. We also haven't been anywhere together that isn't Vegas in a year or so, so thousand bucks be damned, I'm EXCITED. And who can put a price on that?

Sunday, January 11, 2009


My friend Justine and I went to see a movie called "I've Loved You So Long" last night at a Laemmle's in Beverly Hills. On our way there, I was sharing with her a few things I've noticed about myself that I've attributed to aging - dark circles under my eyes, ridiculously dry skin on my hands, and the like. Justine, who is two years my junior, informed me she hasn't noticed anything in the way of aging. Good for her.

When we got to the movie theater, the following conversation took place:

Me to teller:
One for 'I've Loved You So Long.'

One adult?

Me: Yes. (to Justine) What, does she think I'm a kid?

Justine: No, she probably was double checking that you weren't a senior.

Me: Well played, my friend.

Friday, January 09, 2009

2009: Obligatory Resolution Post

I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what sort of resolutions I want to put into cyberspace, what sort of things I want to change that I’m willing to be held accountable for by my friends. While I hate New Year’s Eve more and more every year, my pleasure for New Year’s Day seems to increase exponentially. There is something to be said for the notion that you have a whole year in front of you, and that little number change on my calendar definitely sets my wheels a-turnin’.

I feel like I have a lot of resolutions this year, because as I get older, I realize more and more exactly who I am and who I want to be, and as I go through life, I pick up bits of information here and there on how to turn myself into that person. So here is a long list of goals I’m setting for myself this year – resolutions, if you will.

1. Health – At the end of 2008, I lost a small amount of weight that was enough to win $50 in a health challenge at work. I liked it and want to continue to work on that. I’m eating more fruit and less crap. I’m exercising more and drinking more water. I’m fitting into clothes again. This is good and saves me money.

2. Donate – Time, money, and my hair, eventually. I will keep you posted on where I’m donating – maybe you will donate, too. (It doesn’t have to be your hair.)

3. Finances – I HAVE to save more money. I will start by attempting to NOT make any huge purchases in the near future. This will be harder than anything on this list.

4. Friends – I want to see my friends more, and talk to them more frequently. I want to know about their lives. I hate talking on the phone, but I also hate being so disconnected from the people I care about. So this year, I will make more attempts to reach out to my friends. I also plan to foster new friendships, if I can just quit being annoyed by everybody.

5. Travel – I have not traveled since March of 2008. It has been great, being in Los Angeles, but I’m ready to get out now. I want to visit Ohio, Chicago, possibly NYC, and maybe, just maybe, Italy. I will crabwalk backwards to Columbus for the USC v OSU game if I have to.

6. Los Angeles – Even though I’ve spent the last 10 months here and nowhere else, I haven’t done anything. I was so excited to be home after having been on the road for so long that I don’t explore anymore. This year, I want to visit places in LA I’ve never been, or have only been once. A post with a list of those places will follow.

7. Write – This will always be a resolution of mine, because no matter how much I write, I don’t know that it will ever be enough. I took a short story class at UCLA this past fall and feel like it helped me get back into the habit of wanting to write, and it sort of got me back into the habit of actually writing, if for no other reason than to earn back the $500 I spent on the class. I want to ride on this wind and write more, and also diversify what I write. I’m toying with a novel idea, but I’m also toying with taking a nap, so we’ll see which one wins out.

8. Books/Movies – I read a lot of books, and I see a lot of movies, but I have realized recently that if I am ever to read all of the books I want to read and see all of the movies I want to see, I need to be engaging myself in these activities much more frequently.

9. Love – Most important on my list is to love more. I want to erase negativity, although I’m not sure how to do that and still maintain my signature sarcasm. Maybe THIS will be the hardest resolution on the list. In any case, I want to take more opportunities to tell the people that I love that I love them, and also show them that I love them. I want to quit taking these people for granted. And when you send love out into the world, it comes back to you. I’m not even being sarcastic here! It even reads weird, right? Man, this love thing is for chumps.

10. Sleep – I’d like to sleep more and be awake less. I love sleep. Sleep and me are like this. I realize that with all of the other resolutions on the list, plus my full- time job, this will be nearly impossible, but my mom always told me I could do anything I put my mind to. And sleep is one area where I never procrastinate.

My goal is to keep you posted on the progress of all of these resolutions throughout the year, but first, I have to work on resolution #10.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Quote - "Winesburg, Ohio."

When he began to weep she held him more and more tightly. On and on went her voice. It was not harsh or shrill as when she talked to her husband but was like rain falling on trees.
-Sherwood Anderson, "Winesburg, Ohio"

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Decidedly not funny, but pretty informative.

2008 was one for the books, folks. I have been noticeably absent from this blog for the past year, and feel like I owe whatever readers are left some sort of explanation.

The nutshell is as follows: End of 2007, it seemed my youngest sister Jackie had gotten herself into some sort of troubling habits. I won’t go into detail as to how we figured this out, but I was convinced all she needed was away from her friends in Ohio, so when she asked if she could come stay with me and gina for an indefinite amount of time, I happily bought her a one way ticket. Right before she arrived in Los Angeles, it came to light that the “troubling habit” was an addiction to heroin. You read right, folks. Heroin.

Back in those days, one year ago this month, I had no idea what to expect having a heroin addict live with us. In fact, I didn’t really admit to myself that she was an addict, even though the logical part of my brain reminded me that people don’t really use heroin recreationally. Jackie arrived here, was sick for a few days, but once she started to feel better, things were good. She got a great job, and was very proud of herself. We were all very proud of her as well. She felt good about working and earning money and living a good life.

As addicts are prone to do, she relapsed. This was disappointing and at first shocking to me, but upon further reflection, I realized this is an issue she will deal with every day for the rest of her life, and all I hope for her is that she will come to me for help and that I will be able to help her in whatever way possible. Disappointment and anger turned into pride and hopefulness when she checked herself into a rehab about 45 miles away. I knew it would be hard for her, and was so incredibly proud of her for taking this step to better herself. I missed her every day, but was so grateful there were people taking care of her and looking out for her, people who actually knew how to help her.

She was slated to be there for 90 days, but about 30 days in, she left without notifying anyone. We found out about two weeks before Thanksgiving that she was not there anymore. It’s never a good time to go missing, but right before the holidays is the worst time ever. I had booked my mom a flight to LA to spend Thanksgiving with us back in August. When Jackie disappeared, my mom decided she would stay in LA indefinitely, find a job, and try to find Jackie. It was not easy when my mom arrived, as you can imagine. I feel like I have a unique relationship with both of my sisters because they are so much younger than me, and that at times, I feel more like a mom than a sister, but when my mom got here, I realized that I am nowhere near a mother to them, and that the pain my mom felt in losing Jackie infinitely outweighed anything that I might have felt. My mother was devastated. She cried every day, and every day she just waited for her phone to ring. That’s all we could do was wait. Thanksgiving came and went and we didn’t hear from her. The weather got colder, I knew her money was running out… she had no cell phone with her and did not seem to be checking email. There was literally nothing we could do but wait, and hope that she was okay, and hope that she would call eventually. Nothing is worse than being so out of control of something that affects your heart and your mind so drastically. It’s like we all had this disease – not just Jackie. We were all hurt by it.

Nothing seemed logical about this, which made it even harder. I never thought she would leave without a trace. She wasn’t really missing, she just didn’t want us to find her. And we all knew that. Still, it seemed like she had been taken from us, and we all had to remind ourselves that she was cutting herself out of our lives, probably because she knew she would hurt us if she were in our lives. She wanted to use, and she knew she couldn’t use with us involved with her, so she did just that. I kept telling myself, if she’s dead, someone will call us. Someone will find us. She must be alive, she must be staying somewhere, someone must be taking care of her. She’ll call eventually. While I waited for her, I used the time to strengthen myself so that I would be ready when she finally did call. We all tried to do this. We all just held on to the idea that she needed to be away from us, and she would call eventually.

Thanksgiving was brutal, not having her there, not hearing from her, but we still managed to have a great day overall – good food, good company. When Christmas music started coming on the radio, and decorations started going up around town, the heartache deepened. I knew the best thing to do was to continue on with Christmas preparations and traditions, but it was not easy – putting the tree up, planning for Christmas dinner. To me, I felt like I was forcing it – fake it ‘til you make it, as the saying goes. It felt like a ticking time bomb – I knew that if she didn’t call by Christmas, she wasn’t going to call for a long time. But eventually, I was making it. I was carrying on, going through the motions, and it was okay. There were moments of crippling sadness, usually on my way home from work when I was alone and thinking, and it was dark outside, and I just wanted to hug her, I just wanted to hear her voice, to hear her laugh. But what was I to do? I just prayed, and put it out into the universe that I wanted her back.

She called on Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve – easily the most emotional day of the year for me. We picked her up, with the intention of getting her into a detox as soon as possible. But wouldn’t you know it, detox intake workers celebrate Christmas just like the rest of us, so there was no one that could take her. She detoxed at our house for what ended up being six days. It was amazing, being able to see her again, to hug her, to know where she was. I knew it wasn’t right to bring her back to our house, because the last thing you want to do for an addict is enable them. But my logic failed me, as it had during the entire year, and it was fucking Christmas Eve and I wanted my baby sister to have some place to sleep where she wasn’t going to wake up and use. After six days of calling about 100 rehab places, we finally found her a spot. Should she choose to stay this time, I think the program will work for her. It’s very structured and full of discipline, and they expect a lot out of their residents. It will be hard for her, but I hope she decides to stay because it will make her life easier sooner.

This is why I haven’t been writing. I didn’t want to share this in this space until now, and without talking about it, it seemed like there wasn’t much else to talk about. The reason I’m writing about it now is because once I did start talking about it, no fewer than five people, only two of which are close friends, shared their own stories about their own connections with addiction. These people reached out to me and were able to relate to my pain, frustration, and hope. They were able to tell me I was doing the right thing. They weren’t able to promise it would be okay, but I didn’t need or even want that. I just wanted someone to remind me I wasn’t the only one who had ever dealt with something like this, and that whatever I had decided to do was the right thing to do. I needed those people to help me continue to relinquish all control over the situation, even though the reality is, I never have been and never will be in a position to control it at all.

Also, I felt like once I was sharing the situation with people, I was able to breathe more easily and I was able to cherish and be grateful for all of the good things in my life. I have also been able to accept my own reality, and I have learned that life is definitely not always what you had planned it to be. It’s still my life, and she is still my sister, and I love her just as much as I did the day she was born. I am sad for her that her life has to be so difficult, but I am also well aware that it is this way because of choices she made – choices I did not make for her or could not have made for her. I hope she finds her way through this, because she really has a bright and brilliant mind, and I believe she has something great to offer the world. And selfishly, I adore her and want her in my life for as long as possible.

I have accepted that this is not just Jackie’s problem to deal with – this is an issue for me too, and I do not have to keep it secret to protect anyone. Conversely, I feel like I need to share it to seek help and support for myself, and maybe even to offer help and support someone else. Above all of this, I have realized that I can’t always work through stuff by myself, and that keeping my feelings, thoughts, concerns, hopes, dreams, and fears so close to myself doesn’t help me at all. I don’t need to guard my hand so carefully – no one is out to get me. Quite the opposite: it has been nothing but an outpouring of support from my closest friends, and I finally understand that there is no shame in needing such support.

So hopefully, having shared this, I have unlocked some reserve of creativity, and now I will be free to post frequently with hilarious stories and funny yarns. 2009 will be a fantastic year if I have any say it, and I’d love to share it with you, if you’ll still have me.