23 November 2009

Tales From the World Wide Web

Dear Internet,
I've neglected you for far too long. I am very sorry. A new post to come shortly. Until, please enjoy these things that have made me laugh or just plain ol' happy.

From the blog My Parents Were Awesome

The amazing book and blog 1,001 Rules For My Unborn Son

The New Moon Sountrack

Particularly these songs:

12 November 2009

Life Changes You. So Does Death.

My head is currently swimming with questions and sadness, and I don't want that to spill over this blog just yet. Instead, I am posting a story I wrote for a creative writing class that I just finished at UCLA. The assignment was to find a picture of a person we did not know and write a story about that image.
This is the photo I used:

The story I wrote is below, though the girl in my story is not the woman in the photo but someone finding her own two feet.

After Daddy died, Mama moved us three kids from Alabama to Minnesota so we could live with her Ma and Pa. We left our white house on Willow Tree Drive on a Friday morning and pulled in the driveway of Ma and Pa Regan’s on my 16th birthday, four days later.
Mama didn’t waste no time getting me and my sister in school. Sandra and I both started at Rawlings High, the same place where Mama went, just a day after getting to town. Little Tommy went to a grammar school across town.
I thought moving would be a good chance to change my name. All my life Mama and Sandra and everybody else called me Geraldine. I just hated it. So I thought I’d go by Gi-Gi instead. The name didn’t take at home, but the teachers didn’t know that.
There was a lot different about Minnesota. Sure we had winters in Alabama, but they were nothing like the miserable winters that come north. And the kids in the North ain’t at all like the kids in the South. They dressed a little better up there, and they all talked like they read dictionaries before bed every night. They hardly ever said please, and they weren’t polite about gossiping. In Mobile we’d at least wait until you were around the corner before starting in on the name-calling. My first few days at Rawlings, I caught hell because of the way I talked. Then the kids started in on me about my clothes. After that I stopped paying any mind, and I ate my lunch in the library.
It was like that for about four months, I guess, when one day a girl in my Biology class asked me if I wanted to sit with her at lunch. I thought, “My stars!” and tried not to grin like that Cheshire Cat. The girl’s name was Judith, and she had a strange way of talking too. I sorta frowned when she told me she was from Maine because that meant she was a Yankee, but I was so happy to have someone to talk to, I was willin’ to overlook that.
Judith and her friends smoked, colored their hair, and kissed boys in the janitor’s closet. Smoking wasn’t so bad once you got used to the sweet tobacco scratching at the back of your throat. And I’d always wanted to be blonde like Marilyn Monroe. Try as I may, though, I always felt like I was tagging along. Boys didn’t take a shine to me like they did to the other girls, and I only smoked at school. Mama woulda smacked the fire out of me if she caught me smoking in the house. So I wore more eyeliner than any other girl, and I kept quiet.
One afternoon, Judith talked a couple of us girls into cutting class. We went to Conrad Department Store to try on fancy hats and gloves. Usually bracelets and rings were behind a glass case, but that day there was a tray of sparkly stuff sitting out on the counter. I saw the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen—a ring with a pearl sitting right on top. I rubbed my thumb over the smooth pearl and watched how it disappeared under my palm.
I could hear Judith hoopin’ and hollerin’ over near the belts, so I went to join her. It was about that time that a man pressed his claw of a hand into my shoulder and boomed out, “Young lady, just what do you think you’re doing?”
Judith and the others stared at me wide-eyed and pale for a split-second before running off.
At the police station I had my fingers smashed in ink and my picture taken twice—one looking in the direction of a secretary typing away at a little desk and another looking right at the camera. The police didn’t really talk to me, just at me. A detective named Mr. Falls told Mama that I was probably doing it for attention—what with the move from Alabama and Daddy’s passing, but that weren’t true.
For once, I just wanted to keep a little something beautiful for myself.

08 November 2009

New Work Digs

The company I work for, VEVO, recently moved into a new office. A new office that has a koi pond, a policy that allows pups to roam the grounds as they wish, and a bamboo forest. Well, it's sort of a forest.

Here's a glimpse of the kitchen. And some crazy chick named Elisabeth.

16 October 2009

Photo Tour

I recently purchased a real camera. Pity I've been so busy lately with my writing class and various other activities--I haven't had any time to use the thing. I am hoping that my schedule opens up very soon so that I can take loads of pictures and learn more about life with a grown-up camera.

For now, a few photos:

Learning how to use the camera with a hot chocolate playing the prop.

Taken while on a walk in Santa Monica. I haven't even begun my introduction to the art of retouching photos. This one is straight outta the box.

At book club last night with Lulu, the puppy.

06 October 2009

Songs for Crushing

Those who know me well know that I'm not much of a dater. However, I am a master at the art of nurturing a crush. I don't get them often but when I do, katy bar the doors. Not to fear--I'm not the sort who stalks and calls at all hours of the night. I tend to be the opposite, actually. After about a week of a crush, I usually want to be rid of it. It's a scary thing to be crushed by a person who hasn't a clue of your feelings (or sometimes even of your existence).

I've carried this current crush around since the Spring, and it has become suffocating. My mind wanders back to this particular person at the oddest of times (traffic, cleaning the kitchen, making copies at work), and my imagination seems to take off like an Olympic sprinter. I act shy when I'm normally quite outgoing, and my nervousness turns normal actions into bizarre actions. Case in point: I did a slight curtsy once when shaking this person's hand. Strange. It is as though I am not myself.

Recently I heard someone compare a crush to an idol. And with an idol, it is the worshiper who is seeking control over the relationship. Given that most idols are made of wood or metal, it is very easy for a worshiper to have the upper-hand in the relationship. As for my crush, I guess I look to create a controlled environment where every comment is insightful and full of wit, and every day resembles a photo shoot for a J Crew or Boden catalogue.

As I'm looking over this post, I am cringing with embarrassment. Who gets caught up in a crush after high school graduation? Well, it turns out quite a lot of people crush. I've noticed coworkers declaring someone a crush with enormous pride on Monday and then tearing that person down on Wednesday after they've been sighted smoking or wearing pleats. I've noticed movies where a crush leads to true love and sunsets. I've noticed that I am swallowed up by my insecurities. I've noticed that I'm jealous over the most trivial of things, and that is such a heartbreak to me. But it is not my crush who delivers the heartache; I'm the only one breaking things around here.

But, as one friend reminded me, crushes aren't all bad. Somehow they can inspire a bit of hope. I don't know why in the midst of feeling vulnerable, insecure and like a three-year old hoarding blocks on the playground, I am hopeful that someone will soon come along and walk beside me. I feel genuine excitement when I listen to a coworker outline details of her upcoming wedding. I am thrilled to the point of throwing air punches when I talk to a friend who has recently entered into a new relationship.

So that's where I am. Fighting off this crush as though it were the flu and feeling more like a middle-schooler than an adult. I prefer myself with no strings attached or distractions. And this poor man has me all tied up in strings.

Here's some music inspired by the art/war of crushing:

A song for when I want my way:

A song for what I wish for one day:

A song with a beautiful idea:

Maybe someone is singing this song somewhere:

18 September 2009

Photo Diary

For my birthday, my friend Meghan accompanied me to the Santa Ynez Valley (just outside Santa Barbara) for a day of exploring. Here's a photo taken at a lavender farm.

It was very hot that day at the lavender farm.

All that heat and lavender works up quite a thirst. Here is an amazing wine bar in Los Olivos, a town in the Santa Ynez Valley. Meghan and I enjoyed a flight of wine with a flight of mini-cupcakes. Pure genius, I tell ya.

The following weekend, I joined my friend Julie and her sister Lauri in Palm Springs for Labor Day weekend. Here's a photo from a night out. Mind you, our nights out revolved around delish food and usually ended early enough for us to make the most of the ac in our hotel room.

Apparently I need to master the art of Seven-Up Floats.

15 September 2009

Sometimes God Takes Song Requests

It is a rare moment when I can recite a poem or lyric, so when it comes to church hymns I usually get the chorus but not much else. There are three hymns I can almost sing entirely without the aid of a hymnal: “Amazing Grace” (an obvious choice), “Be Thou My Vision”, and a hymn I learned at university, “From the Depths of Woe.”

That last one, though a bit dark, is a cherished one for me even though I've not heard it since my school days. I had often thought of jotting down a request to hear that hymn and slipping it in the offering plate on Sunday, but I never did. Rather, I opted to periodically remind God that I'd really like to hear that song.

I finally heard my request this past Sunday, the 13th of September, the one-year anniversary of the weekend my sister fought an arduous battle with crystal meth.

I don’t recall the exact date my mother frantically drove from place to place desperately seeking help for my very ill sister. I don’t recall how my dad told me my sister had been admitted to the hospital. By phone? In person?

Instead I remember the grief of finding a charred spoon and crusty needle in my sister’s eyeglass case, the drive up Highway 14 to collect two Rubbermaid containers holding my sister’s worldly possessions, and the smell of cheap laundry detergent that permeated the house where she had been staying.

There was nothing to say, so I tried to provide my mom with a reservoir of energy and assistance. At one point, late in the night of that hellish first day, I was asked to buy new clothes for my sister. You see, a body expelling poison is not kind to the wardrobe. In the darkest of night, I headed to a nearby Wal-Mart. There, standing under blinding fluorescent lights, I stared vacantly at rows of bedroom slippers dyed pale shades of pinks and blues. I reached for pink, my sister’s favorite color, and allowed myself to ask the question I did not want answered: “What if, this time, she doesn’t win the fight.” I must have been a sight, crying over fuzzy slippers in a Wal-Mart at two in the morning. Or maybe not. This is Wal-Mart I’m talking about after all.

A year later, in the high school theatre that houses my church on Sunday mornings, I allowed my mind to return to that hospital room. My sister was in the bed, sleeping. My mom was in the recliner next to her, distraught, lost, and desperate. There were far more questions than answers, and fear constantly hummed in the back of our minds. I could see all of these things clearly even though I was a year older and now on the other side of the country.

And then the pastor said a word of encouragement from 1 John while the piano softly announced that God had indeed granted my request.

A portion of "Psalm 130 (From the Depths of Woe)"

From the Depths of Woe I raise to thee
The voice of lamentation;
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me
And hear my supplication…

Though great our sins and sore our woes
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.

02 September 2009

Casualty of Photography

This made me laugh out loud.

(This image comes to you from The Sartorialist. If you haven't seen the site or the book, I highly encourage it.)

29 August 2009

I Still Really Like Cake

30 years ago today, I discovered my love for cake.

26 August 2009

A Little Rock N' Roll With Your Move?

So after the whole break-in incident at my apartment, I got outta my lease. Mind you, I've just condensed a bunch of days and calls and angst into one sentence. My former landlord gave me just over a week to completely move out of the crime scene--just in time for some poor unsuspecting university student to move in.

In that short amount of time, I hustled to find places to store my things. Boxes of pots and pans went to my friend Meghan's apartment along with my KitchenAid stand mixer (shout out for the best appliance EVAH!). Clothes and such went to my friend Karen's. This left a mattress, desk, bookshelf, a couple of lamps, and boxes of books without a home. I stressed. I worried. I called Public Storage.

When the time (2 weeks to be exact) came for me to move into my new apartment (complete with a roommate I don't know), I decided I'd had enough of lifting and sweating. So, at the suggestion of the aforementioned Karen, I called a company called The Real Rock N Roll Movers. I kid you not. I was promised two rock n rollers, a truck, and a trailer for my tiny move.

The day of the move I met the rock n rollers at the storage unit. They were a few minutes late, but that's to be expected I guess because we are moving on rock n roll time here. The two gentleman (let's call them The Blonde and The Brunette) were both outfitted in skinny jeans and black T-Shirts emblazoned with the company name. The Blonde hopped out of the truck to greet me while The Brunette pulled the truck/trailer combo around back. I noticed that The Blonde's toes were sticking out of his black high-top canvas shoes.

The conversation went something like this:

"Hi, I'm Elisabeth."

"Hey, I'm The Blonde. How's it goin'?"

"So far so good."

"Yeah, yeah. You ever have one of those days when you wake up in a good mood? Well, I woke up in a good mood today and, like, I'm just hoping it lasts the whole day because it's the best feeling, man. You know what I mean?"

Conversation like this continued during the move. We talked about bands (duh), how downtown Los Angeles was becoming super trendy, some loft that was available for rent downtown, a music festival that had just taken place the day before. Oh, and I asked a TON of questions. My questions resulted in the following information:

1. The Brunette and The Blonde are indeed in a band together
2. Apparently moving is a good hangover cure
3. The guy who started the business is very organized. And he plays music
4. My move was one of the smallest they'd ever seen (score!)
5. People are rude--especially when they hire movers and haven't packed a bloomin' thing

My entire move lasted less than an hour, and I didn't even break a sweat. And at the end, The Blonde and The Brunette invited me to a gig. How many times have you moved and gotten an invite to a show?

Ah L.A., you are bizarre.

20 August 2009

Photo Diary

Here are a few photos I've saved up on my phone over the past few weeks.

The Coastline in Ventura County

Stopped here with my parents on our way to dinner in Santa Barbara. Yup, we drove to Santa Barbara just for dinner. And why not? It always seems exotic to say you drove to another town for a meal. Like, back in South Carolina I might say: "Last night I drove to Pickens for dinner."

Miles and Miles to go

You drive a lot in LA. Sigh.

Guys and Dolls at the Bowl

My friend Karen was kind enough to invite me to sit in box seats at the Hollywood Bowl. To repay her kindness, I literally tossed my salad at the woman sitting in front of us. In the same box.

Common Ground

Sometimes friendships are built on childhood memories or shared work experiences. Not so for Meghan and me! Our friendship is built on a mutual love of food, Gilmore Girls, and coffee. Here we are in search of the perfect iced coffee (I think we found it!) and a replacement for a beloved red velvet cake that was served at a now-defunct restaurant called Doughboys. Sadly, the cake in the picture didn't quite match up to Doughboys'. (but it was still pretty good!)

17 August 2009

The Girl With Pineapple Juice In Her Purse

There are many good things about LA. For example, people seem awfully fond of this perpetual sunshine. There are also many bad things about LA. That perpetual sunshine can be redundant, and people can be a little on the superficial side.

So it isn't surprising when an Angeleno permanently latches onto the arm of a person who is true to their word. Especially if that person is wearing super cute red peep-toe pumps and strolls up to your bar two nights in a row.

Dear Internet, allow me to acquaint you with Carolyn. She is unlike any other person you've ever met. Sure, she has all of the obvious traits you want in a friend: funny (check); smart (check); cute shoes (see above). But in addition to all of that, Carolyn kicks butt and takes names in the kitchen. She needs only a tiny taste of your grandma's famous lasagna before she can divulge grandma's top secret ingredient (it's probably nutmeg, btw).

On Saturday night Carolyn, our mutual friend Karen, and I had plans to meet up for dinner, which would be followed by the movie "Julie and Julia." After the movie we'd go for a drink at the somewhat swanky bar and restaurant located below the theater.

By coincidence, Carolyn had been to this bar the night before with a few other friends and had sparked a debate so big the bar staff were STILL talking about it the next day. Basically it went down like this--a barman I shall call Duke insisted a Mai Tai was tastiest when made one particular way that omitted pineapple juice; Carolyn cried foul. Mai Tai without pineapple juice?!?! How could it be? Since the bar was sans pineapple juice, Carolyn vowed she would bring in her own juice so that she could introduce Duke to a most delish Mai Tai.

And that's how I ended up with two (or was it three?) cans of pineapple juice in my purse on Saturday night.

After the movie, which I thought was very good, we made our way to the bar. There on the bar, I set the tiny cans of pineapple juice I'd been hiding alongside the can or two Carolyn had smuggled in. We got some sly glances and odd looks from the people around us, but it was Duke's reaction that was funniest. He wasn't shocked that there were 4 tiny cans of pineapple juice on the bar. No, he was surprised that the girl from last night came back. What?! She actually did what she promised she'd do!

Carolyn made her special Mai Tai for Duke from the CUSTOMER'S side of the bar. Duke tasted and declared Carolyn's Mai Tai to be sweet.

Enter another barman I shall call Dick. As if working from stage directions, Duke went who-knows-where, and Dick planted himself firmly in front of the pineapple girls while loudly making drinks for other patrons. We girls sipped Mai Tais (made by Duke, not sweet at all) and tried to ignore Dick's constant racket as we talked about what girls usually talk about: what we're looking for in a guy, Christian Louboutin shoes, sexing up the wardrobe a la Color Me Badd, and what we're looking for in a guy.

I don't know how, but Dick ended up in conversation with us. Well, mainly Carolyn. The scene was so hilarious I couldn't do anything but watch and laugh. Dick is a fan of putting loads of bitters in drinks. He also likes to show off. He tried to flip a few bar items in the spirit of Tom Cruise in Cocktail, but ended up throwing things on the floor. Um Dick, we noticed. He debated drinks with Carolyn, and conceded that she knew her stuff.

He also hurled the most debilitating insult Carolyn's way. While discussing LA restaurants and chefs and other LA-isms, Dick suggested that Carolyn was from a town way east of LA called Rancho Cucamonga. She gasped and hid her face in her hands. A bar staffer restocking glasses laughed so hard I thought he'd drop those glasses. "WHAT!" Carolyn shrieked. "You think I am from Rancho Cucamonga?"

Seeing as Dick is from Minnesota, he recognized that by keeping her word Carolyn didn't exactly act like a LA native.

But for a girl from the 310, Rancho Cucamonga is akin to saying you are from East Deliverance, California.

11 August 2009


The past few weeks have been chaotic, exhausting, and incredibly challenging. It feels as though I am on a treadmill in which the slow-down button has been removed. I've avoided writing at all for fear that the negativity constantly racing through my mind would seep out through my fingertips to reveal my true Debbie Downer self.

So here I am--rising from the funk I've been in, reminding myself to get over myself, and trying to keep things in perspective. And nothing puts things into perspective quite like a life and death situation.

I was probably running through all of the reasons I should be mad at the world when I received an email from my friend Karen last week. The email contained a link to a news story NBC News aired about a woman named Linda Russell, a very dear friend and mentor to both Karen and me.

You see, Linda decided to donate a kidney to a complete stranger just because she could. A great-grandmother (yes, that's right), Linda is the picture of health thanks to years of exercise and proper diet. Not only is Linda disciplined in matters of health and fitness, she is a woman of remarkable faith. I can count on my hands the number of times I've gotten up before the sun rises; Linda is up everyday before the sun even has a chance to think about rising. She uses this time of quiet to pray for others--as in, not praying for herself like I probably would.

When Linda decided to donate her kidney, she pictured a surgery to be followed by a time of recovery and then a trip back home. Maybe the recipient would send her a card down the road. Maybe not. Linda wasn't looking for a pat on the back or accolades. She was giving a part of herself that could save someone else's life simply because she could afford to. Turns out Linda decided to donate a kidney at the very time a doctor at a hospital in Georgetown decided to do something historical. At first, Linda wasn't so keen on the idea of having a microphone pinned to her shirt while she talked about her kidney giveaway. But then she thought about the people who would watch that interview and the opportunity to raise awareness about all of the people struggling with a life full of needles and dialysis machines.

So, she got over her tendency to avoid cameras and did this: Donor chains give hope to transplant candidates

You can also read the article here.

And you can see Linda's inspiring interview here.

24 July 2009

Is It August Yet?

This week has been long and full of visitors--some welcome, some not so welcome.

Saturday: a Coldplay concert with the brother, who is in town with my parents for a visit. That's Chris Martin's head on the screen. You might have to just trust me on this one.

Tuesday: the brother checks out my favorite LA bar with me.

Wednesday: came home to a missing window and a missing laptop. Now I hate my apartment.

Thursday: watched a movie made by my first crush above the pool of the hotel where my parents are staying this week.

12 July 2009

The Pizza Text

When you think about it, internet dating is a lot like interviewing for a job. You comb through descriptions you are know are exaggerations, distribute personal information about yourself that is probably exaggerated, dress to impress, and (sometimes) pray for a call back that will lead a second date/interview.

Both are exhausting and require a thick skin. It also helps if you have a good sense of humor about the whole thing, as my friend *Audrey* does. Cue the story about Audrey and her pizza text.

Audrey has been on a particular dating site for a little while now. She has gone on dinner dates, wine dates, beach dates, and hiking dates. Audrey is very smart, funny, a great listener, authentic, and--this is important--very fit. So when *Vince* asks her out for a date at a wine bar, Audrey says, "Sure. Why not?"

Upon arriving at the wine bar, Vince tells Audrey that he has changed his mind about his venue of choice. Instead of hanging out at a wine bar, they should get pizza and ice cream instead. Being the good sport that she is, Audrey says this sounds like a good time.

There they are, eating pizza (Vince = a couple of slices / Audrey = one slice) and covering the usual first-date topics. The date ends, and Vince tells Audrey that he had a nice time and that he would like to see her again. Truthfully, Audrey tells Vince that she will be traveling over the next several weeks. She suggests that maybe they meet up for a bicycle ride in two month's time when she is back in town for a weekend.

Two months pass and Vince texts Audrey about meeting up for a bike ride. That day, over lunch at work, Audrey tells the story of Vince and their pizza date to a small group of coworkers and asks for advice on how to proceed. You see, Audrey really wasn't that into Vince. She hoped that her being away for two months might allow him to get distracted and move on, forgetting about that whole bicycle thing.

A couple of our male coworkers counsel Audrey on the situation. "Don't lead him on," they say. "Be up front about not feeling a connection," they advise.

So Audrey calls Vince and thanks him for his text. She kindly explains that while she had a nice time on their pizza date, she didn't feel a connection with him. Vince says he usually gives people two or three dates before he decides if there is a connection or not. Audrey says she respects his time and thinks it is important that she is honest with him. They say goodbye.

An hour later, Audrey receives another text from Vince:

"You were very presumptuous just now. You really should go on a bike ride with all of the pizza you eat."

WOW. WHAT A GENTLEMAN. It's a wonder women aren't beating down his door.

08 July 2009

A Weight Off My Shoulders.

Thanks to a hectic work schedule, a trip east and other commitments I made even though I hadn't the time, I have neglected my writing. In this absence of jotting down notes and stories, I have missed the revelations and feelings of purpose that find me when I write. So in the spirit of hopping back on the horse, I'm tackling a subject that I rarely speak of: weight. That is, my weight.

A few years ago I read an article about a very famous fashion designer who decided to lose quite a bit of weight a little later in life. I don't recall many details about the article (there might have been something about a ridiculous lettuce diet), but what I do recall is the sentiment this designer made about his decision to alter his lifestyle so drastically that every inch of his body was impacted. In short, he said that he desired to wear smaller clothes more than he desired eating sweets and lounging around. I'm totally paraphrasing here, but that was the idea that stuck with me.

It's been about 5 months since I found that same desire, and while my results have not been so drastic as to have been chronicled in a fashion magazine, my change has been noticed by coworkers, friends and family. And of course by me.

A strange mix of guilt and pleasure whirls through my mind each time I measure my progress by way of my reflection. I find a bit of joy in seeing my arms and legs advertise the results of my crawling around on the floor each morning to do exercises with names like, "the dying bug". And I feel victorious watching the pale marshmallow-like rolls of my stomach shrink. In all this, though, there is a sadness--maybe a mourning--for the chances I let pass me by because I was too self-conscious. For the embarrassment I felt because of my body. It's easy to just be yourself; it's much harder to actually love yourself. For this I am sad: that I haven't always loved myself.

In this process of change, I have noticed that I watch people differently than I did a year ago. Before, I looked enviously at women with smaller waists. Now I wonder what battles they fight with their own bodies. It's a curious thing to be a woman in LA, in America, in Western culture. You are celebrated for losing weight and whispered about for gaining weight.

So that is where I am now. I don't have a radical diet, and I don't go to the gym anymore. Instead I opt for water over soda, salad over bread, and I make it a point to get out and walk 4 or 5 times a week. I've also started minimizing time with friends who have been a drain on my mind and spirit. It's amazing how much better you feel when you don't have a Debbie Downer constantly moaning in your ear.

A funny post soon, I promise. But for now I hope this brings a wee bit of encouragement to someone somewhere.

12 June 2009

Week In Review

Whew! What a whirlwind the past 7 days have been! The week started on Monday, as weeks usually do, with me *technically* starting a new job. I still work for the same boss, and I still drive to the same building I did last week, but this week the company signing my checks changed. More on this development later.

I've been a busy little bee with my beloved iPhone the past few days. Aren't you lucky to enjoy the proof here:

I've discovered a new place to walk after work. The view reminds me of how glad I am to have quit the gym.

The dog: Lady. The house: my fave.

I wish I could post the smell of these peonies online. The best smell in the world. With one exception--the smell of a huge wad of cash in my hand.

Lunch at In-N-Out with some peeps from work. Yum.

Artichokes in bloom. Yes, that's what happens when you just leave artichokes to do what they will.

08 June 2009

The Funny Face With A Missing Mole

I'm beginning to think that I am God's very own comedy channel. Case in point: my visit to a new dermatologist last week.

I should clarify. My trip to one of the select doctors who specialize in treating "stars." This doctor has a skincare line and frequently finds his name in the pages of "Allure". There are a lot of these doctors to the stars, and they all seem to have offices on one of two streets in Beverly Hills. I once saw Goldie Hawn entering one of these buildings as I was leaving.

Anyway, back to the office visit. The staff seemed bored. That is until the visiting Neutrogena rep handed out full-sized bottles of face wash to each of the ladies. (Maybe Neutrogena isn't kidding when they say doctors recommend it?) After answering "no" to a bunch of questions about skin diseases, I was called into a little office at the end of the hall. An assistant who had recently scored two bottles of face soap asked me a few questions about smoking, drinking, cancer, and the purpose of my visit. I was there to see about a mole on my hip and some small moles under my eyes. Right. She said could see the moles under my eyes. This was a little confusing to me as the moles are not pigmented, and she was standing pretty far away from my face. "Wow. These people are really good," I thought.

45 minutes later, the doctor-to-the-stars came in. He, too, asked some general questions before saying: "Well, here's what we can do. We can take one off your face today. You can see if you like the results. And then we can go from there."

So I said sure. He numbed the area by injecting me with a needle...on my face. Then with a swift movement, one mole was gone. I was handed a mirror and asked to examine the results. My only thought was that it looked like the injection site was bleeding more than the site of the incision. This is why there are doctors to the stars! They are fantastic!

"We" finished off the visit by removing the hip mole (ouch) and going over the instructions printed a small slip of paper entitled "WOUND CARE". Then I made my way to the front desk where the ladies were still talking Neutrogena, and I made an appointment to return in 1 month.

Because I had been at the office forever and have recently embarked on the drink-as-much-water-as-you-can-possibly-stand challenge, I asked for the key to the loo. There in the dimly lit, marble-tiled restroom, I re-examined my face.

You can imagine my surprise when I looked at the mirror and realized HE CUT OFF THE WRONG MOLE!

All my life I have had four distinctive moles on my face, and now one of them was...missing. It was a moment so ridiculous that I laughed out loud, which was a bit awkward because half of my face was still numb. I felt like one of those stories where someone checks into a hospital with an injury in their right arm and wakes up the next day missing their left arm.

I called my mom after the visit to share the absurdity that was my Thursday morning. She gasped, then laughed, and we both decided that if this celeb doctor didn't notice those tiny moles, they certainly aren't a big deal. It was inevitable that the missing mole would one day have to be removed since it is there in plain view of the sun 24/7.

If I'm being completely candid, and why not at this point, the purpose for visiting the dermatologist that day was primarily motivated by my vanity. The small flesh-colored moles under my eyes are barely noticeable. But to me they are huge billboards that shout, "I'm turning into the crypt keeper!" If this doctor, with his huge magnifying glasses, didn't object to my tiny moles, why should I?

As for the missing mole, I'm surprised people still recognize me without it.

26 May 2009

Coronas, Basketball and Topless Women: A Terrible Way to Meet People

I'm just gonna cut to the chase. At 30, being single isn't so much fun.

I don't normally talk about dating (or the lack thereof) or my faith, but last night I experienced something so ridiculous it was both hilarious and incredibly depressing. What to do with a story like that? Tell it to the World Wide Web!

I begin my story 5 weeks ago on a Monday night. My church--well I'm not technically a member yet because that process is lengthy and so involved that I half expect the pastor to ask me for a DNA sample--held a series on Christians, dating and sex and blah blah blah. I stopped attending lectures on the subject of being single a while ago; I'm practically an expert on the matter. But I'm new at this church that I'm almost a member of, and I thought this would be a good way to meet people. It was a good series; I learned a lot, not just about the wild world of being single, but about myself. So that was indeed a good thing.

To wrap up the series, the church hosted what I can only describe as a mixer for those who had attended the series. And so begins my encounter with Coronas, basketball and an illustrated poster of a topless woman.

I only went to this mixer (that's what I'm calling it even though I imagine this label would make the church staff cringe) because I have always griped about how churches never do enough to encourage people to meet. "Suck it up," I thought. "Just go and have a good time. At least you'll meet new people." So I talked a friend who doesn't go to my church and didn't go to the seminar into going with me.

We arrived about an hour after this mixer began and promptly ordered 2 Coronas from a surly woman in a low-cut tank top. The Lakers were playing and every.single.tv.in.the.place was blaring the game. My friend and I were talking (yelling) at each other over the roar of the crowd when several kind people introduced themselves to us. I haven't a clue as to the readership of this wee blog, so I'm just gonna say there was interesting conversation, dull conversation, a new friendship forged over a mutual love of coffee, a person who talked so much you couldn't get a word in edgewise, and a person who spit in your face when they talked.

My friend and I spent the evening smashed between a wall, the bar, and a beer pong table. From our viewpoint we could see the entire crowd, and let me tell you, it wasn't pretty. There was the single woman in her late 30's I met once who had that I-am-here-to-find-my-husband-and-you-are-competition look in her eye. She couldn't be bothered to be polite to my friend and me because she had a single pastor from our church centered in her crosshairs. I thought the poor man would be trampled by her at one point. Then there were the guys who so badly wanted to know if you were The One that they asked embarrassingly intimate questions before you had the chance to tell them your name. When it was apparent that my friend and I were not The One, these boys wandered off mid sentence.

At one point, my friend and I were actually having a pretty funny conversation with a guy I shall call John Coltrane. I was on my 6th or 7th glass of water when I turned into a total klutz. I knocked my friend's cup of water all of the floor, caught my jacket on a nail, and, much to John Coltrane's amusement, my wildly flailing hand slapped the bare boob of a woman featured on an old Buzzcocks poster. Turns out this poster was directly above my head the entire night. That might explain why a lot of guys constantly looked in our direction.

It was then that I decided I was tired. Tired of talking, tired of being claustrophobic, tired of wading through nights like this.

I haven't a clue as to why that "roofie bar" was chosen as the place to host a mixer for people who just finished a lecture series on Christians and dating. It was as though the church said, "let's see how well you swim when we throw you in the deep end without swimming lessons!"

I left that circus feeling incredibly disappointed and discouraged. I can only relate it to a line from a book I read where the author said something to the gist of Christians who try to date and follow God trade with a currency the world doesn't use anymore. If I can't meet like-minded guys at my own church, where else am I to go? Does no one else value the same things I value? Granted, I only met a few people, but the scene was so similar to the pub I used to go to. Only at that pub I wasn't shouting, and I was surrounded by friends--not people putting the pressure on to quickly determine if you were their wife before moving onto the next woman at the bar.

My gut reaction to that dismal failure of an outing was to quit. Why bother putting yourself out there when all you ever get is disappointment? But then I emailed this story to a friend and laughed so hard as I pictured the ridiculousness that was last night.

So while I will more than likely never go to another gathering where everyone has a target on their back (a.k.a. mixers for people without significant others), I'm not going to give up on finding someone who still trades in my currency.

Either that or I'm going to start trading in credit.

19 May 2009

My Fashion Icon Cooks a Mean Irish Stew

On Sunday, "60 Minutes" aired an interview with Anna Wintour, the matriarch of the fashion world. The interview was interesting and safe. Ms. Wintour is an incredible editor--no doubt about that. She is perhaps the only woman who could tell Oprah Winfrey to lose 20 pounds and not get slapped in the face for it.

Every month Ms. Wintour tries her hardest to persuade me that someone like Giselle Bundchen, with her linguine legs and flat tummy, should be my fashion icon.

This morning, as I was pulling together a few cookbooks for a coworker, I chose my fashion icon. When I lived in Belfast, I watched Rachel Allen's cooking show regularly. Ms. Allen is from Ireland and teaches at the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork. In each show, she was laid back and often cooking with pink pots and spatulas. Even though I've never met Rachel Allen, I felt her clothes said a lot about her personality: detail-oriented; conscious of style without being obnoxiously trendy; feminine; authentic. I couldn't tell you what kind of personality Giselle has (she's usually photographed sans top).

So I declare the Irish chef Rachel Allen to be my fashion icon.

(I found this photo at nydailynews.com)

06 May 2009

A New Morning Ritual

I've never been a morning person. I could very well stay up all night and watch the sun come up, but forget trying to wake me from a deep slumber to witness a sunrise. Lately, however, I've been waking up at least an hour before my alarm sounds. Minor miracle, people.

Because I'm not an early morning person, I don't know what to do with myself during this hour. For the last two weeks my mornings usually looks like this: wake up around 6am, stare in disbelief at my clock for a minute or two, put on an Edith Piaf album, and stay in my bed, wondering what people do at this time of day. When you're just sitting there, a fan blowing your curtains all over the room and Edith singing about love and loss, your mind starts to wander. This is about the time I burst out laughing.

Every single morning, without fail, I get an incredible case of the giggles. It is an odd way to greet the day, really.

Yesterday, I thought about how people use words incorrectly.

For instance, I once read a query letter for a novel about a character who tried to mustard up her courage.

And another time, a friend told me that she had an affliction for fast food chains.

I'm starting to look forward to my early morning laugh fests. Although, I can only imagine what my neighbors must think.

26 April 2009

On Returning to LA, Wilting Blooms, and Starting a Hair-Care Regimen

(The sun setting over millionaires in Malibu)

Some people move to Los Angeles for the weather. Seriously and truly, they do. I am not one of those people. I moved to LA (the first time) to work in the music industry. And it was work that brought me back to LA two years after I thought I’d left for good.

Having never lived in a place where snow piled up to the windowsill or driveways demanded clearing right this very instant, or you’re not going to work, mister!—I cannot say how much the promise of steady sunshine would be worth.

Instead, I grew up with an abundance of sun and humidity accompanied by a constant breeze of AC. Surviving a hot day called for a glass of iced tea and a medal of honor. The humidity kept my skin looking dewy and young. At least, this is what I told myself when I ducked into public restrooms to mop up the sweat dripping from my armpits.

These days, the California sun annoys me. That is something I have noticed. I have also noticed that I am older, much older, than I thought I was. Obviously, I realize my age. I’m not that far gone. It’s just that what I remember looking like isn’t showing up in the mirror or on glossy 4x6 paper. There are lines that weren’t there before. And my hair. Oh, my hair.

Yesterday I went to have my hair cut and engaged in a long discussion with a nice hairstylist named Ryan—or something like that—about what happens to your hair as you get older. For those of you not in-the-know, your hair gets thinner and duller and not so Pantene-like.

I told Ryan—or something like that—I was using a product meant to encourage new hair growth. He said the product I was using was indeed marvelous, and, yes, it was working. (Hooray!) But, he quickly added, that product was too harsh for fine hair like mine. He recommended another product that would be a little kinder.

So I left the salon, famous for being trendy and affordable, with a bag of product that cost 3 times the price of my haircut all in an effort to fight the inevitable. But this is LA, and age defines you here.

In addition to noticing my dislike of constant sunny days and lines around my eyes, I have started to wonder if I am losing my bloom. That sounds completely archaic, I know, but I can’t think of any other way to put it. Jane Austen gave me this idea of people losing their bloom. Ms. Austen says of her heroine in Persuasion, “Anne Elliot had been a very pretty girl, but her bloom had vanished early…”

This line runs through my mind when I notice these news things about my face.

In response to this absurd thought, I picture myself to be a peony tree. In its early years, the blossoms on a young peony tree are pretty and give off a bit of sweet fragrance, sort of like a whisper. The branches of an older peony tree, however, are heavy with huge flowers, thanks to years of pruning. And the fragrance of that older tree is incredible—like standing before a symphony.

On days when I feel so very un-LA, I wear an extra spritz of perfume and a lot of SPF.

Some Reasons I Like LA:

1. Really good bands play here. Like Travis, pictured above.

2. I have a really great job. These were a gift from my 2 bosses.

18 April 2009

I've Arrived. But Just Where Am I?

A couple of weeks ago (or was it 3?), I went to see Matt Hale perform at The Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. Matt usually goes by the moniker Aqualung, so if you're shopping around for some new albums full of well-crafted songs, look for that name.

When he took his seat behind his upright piano, he announced to us all: "I've arrived." We clapped, of course, and enjoyed 40 minutes-or-so of songs and banter.

I've been thinking about that announcement these past few days. I've arrived. Usually you tell someone you've arrived at a destination as in, "I'm outside your house now," or "I landed at the airport." But we can also arrive at ideas or stages of growth. And those places aren't easily located on a map.

The place I've arrived at recently doesn't come up in any GPS system or on Mapquest. I hardly know what to call this place at which I've arrived. Instead, I find myself frequently (as recently as this morning, in fact) telling people that I'm here in LA for now. Or I'm here at this job for now. I seem to be focusing on "now" a lot, now that I think about it.

A couple of friends recently challenged me to be more aggressive with my career aspirations. For the record, I climbed off the corporate latter a long time ago with no intention of ever getting back on that blasted thing. Well, this place I've arrived doesn't really seem concerned with career aspirations. Instead, this place I've arrived is more concerned with the intangible: relationships, education, experiences. These aren't things usually scored on employee reviews.

While this place may be difficult to describe or locate, I know exactly how I got here. By way of a life-changing year abroad and a challenging year at home. One year gave me opportunities to work with magnificent people who thought and operated completely differently than any of my former colleagues. The other gave me opportunities to work with people I had literally known since my infancy. Both were challenging. Both gave me perspective. And from where I sit now, life seems especially fragile and resilient all at the same time.

This past week my sister completed a long and grueling program that will hopefully right her course. Next week she moves into a new home. In many ways she begins a new life next week: a new job, a new return address to write on letters, a new set of challenges. But I am praying fervently that she savors this moment. For such a time as this, she has arrived at this this season of new relationships and lessons to be learned.

For such a time as this, I am in Los Angeles working alongside incredible people in an incredible field of work. For such a time as this, I am living in a small apartment with a big kitchen and neighbors from far away cities. For such a time as this, I've arrived at this time of uncertainty full of routine.

And I am determined to make the most of it.

07 April 2009

My Favorite Part of a Workout

I know what you're thinking. First, "Why is this photo so blurry?" and then, "What's this validation business when you're talking about a workout?"

1. My gym is serious about their no mobile phone policy. I didn't think the gym peeps would be super appreciative if I whipped out my phone to take a photo. So this was taken on the sly.
2. This is LA. Of course you have to validate.

Yesterday at the gym I had a revelation of sorts. Well, kind of. I don't do much thinking outside the lines of "how much longer" and "get me outta here" while working up a sweat on a bike that goes nowhere. After I decided that having your iPod at the gym really does make that time more bearable, it dawned on me that the whole concept of a gym is kinda funny.

For example, this lady (looked like an executive type that might crush her assistant just by raising her brow ever-so-slightly) was running like crazy while watching a home and garden show on her own personal treadmill TV. When she finished her run, she limped off the treadmill, red-faced with a look of victory: "Look at how much I have just tortured myself. Running away from nothing while running towards nothing."

And my favorite are the people who choose machines right next to the mirrors. I was under the false impression that mirrors were installed along the walls of the gym in an effort to add the illusion of a couple hundred more square feet to the place. No. Mirrors are there so that people can watch themselves as they workout.

It's ridiculous and HILARIOUS all at the same time, this flexing of muscles and hair primping all to impress a reflection.

So I continued to sit on my bike that went nowhere while staring out the window at all of the passers by--people on their bikes going somewhere and walkers headed elsewhere.

And then I remembered this photo I saw in a restaurant in Hollywood this past weekend and it completely summed up how I feel about the g.y.m.

25 March 2009

For Lack of Something Better to Say

I'll admit it--I have tried to write several posts in the course of the past two weeks but haven't actually finished any of those drafts.

So in the absence of wit and stories of interest, I am posting several photos from my phone. Hopefully this will suffice for the time being.

Ain't that the truth.
(Photo taken at Dylan's Candy Bar in New York. I highly recommend it)

A beautiful exhibit now on at LACMA in LA.

Delicious goodie-goodness, served nightly at El Cholo.

10 March 2009

Top 5

A friend recently asked me to list my top 5 can't-live-without albums for a project. Have you ever tried to pick just 5 albums that you couldn't live without? It's hard. Really hard. Especially when you love music as much as I do.

1. Billie Holiday – Greatest Hits (Sony). Sure her vocal range was limited compared to other powerhouse female vocalists, but Billie had the ability to possesses a song in such a way that I swear she lived it. She tailored melodies to suit her—lagging behind the beat just a bit and using inflection to transform the stalest lyric into a scrumptious morsel. This album is my favorite collection simply for the fact that it includes “The Very Thought of You”, a simple and beautiful representation of her talent.

2. Miles Davis – Kind of Blue. Most likely, deserted islands come standard with this classic album. It is an intimate body of work, perhaps due to the fact it was not a rehearsed body of work. It comes alive, somehow, each time I play it. And it always sounds different, as though Miles and his band (John Coltrane!) are jamming together inside my stereo for my own personal enjoyment.

3. Van Morrison – Moondance. The first time I went to Belfast, I half expected to be asked to recite the lyrics to this album before being granted entry into a pub. The stories woven through this album are ingrained in me: I want to be the object of affection documented in ‘Crazy Love’; I hear the fog horn he sings about on ‘Into the Mystic’; I feel the rain pounding down on the county fair in ‘And It Stoned Me’.

4. Foy Vance – Hope. Foy tells stories through his songs the way Leonard Cohen tells a story—so detailed and personal they seem more like personal memories than stories. My favorite track is ‘Indiscriminate Act of Kindness’. Much the way I can see the room Leonard sings about in ‘Chelsea Hotel’, I see the characters Foy creates in this ultimately uplifting song. And that voice! This guy can sing.

5. The Beatles – Rubber Soul. My two favorite Beatles songs live on this album: Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) and Girl. I’ll never tire of hearing John Lennon sigh in the chorus.

What are your top 5 albums?

04 March 2009

Gymtastic - Or Not

This morning I did something that I thought I'd never do. I went to a gym and met with a personal trainer.

I never thought this day would come because
a) I had to get up very early
b) I had to go to a gym
c) The gym I joined is that typical LA place where starlets and business folk go to worship themselves while throwing scornful glances and those wearing size 6 or higher, and I can't stand that kind of place.

My trainer, let's call him Derek, is what you might envision an LA trainer to be: kinda short, buff, and constantly throws out phrases like "I want to motive you to..." He also refers to me in the third person during the workout session.

I arrived at the gym at the very unkind hour of 7:20. The incredibly tanned young man at the check-in desk wasn't especially kind nor was he helpful. Awesome. I couldn't figure out how to work the permanent locks on the lockers in the changing room, so I stashed all of my precious belongings in a locker without a lock and prayed that God Himself would stand guard over my things (especially my iPhone, which I love so very much). Tanned boy was not amused at having to tell me the directions twice. "Um, yeah, so, like you just open the lock, then, like, scramble the code, and close the door. Oh, and you have to set your own, like, code first." He must write assembly instructions for Mattel in his spare time.

Derek was late. 7 minutes late, to be exact. At about the 5 minute mark I thought of grabbing my things and leaving, telling that tan and unkind receptionist that Derek would have to reschedule. I'm paying Derek the GDP of a small country to tell me how to work out, so every minute counts! (Plus, I'd use any excuse to get outta the gym. I detest the smell, the lighting, the clothes, the unspoken rules and etiquette)

Our workout was preceded by a chat about my goals and a little more Derek advertising. Like everyone in this town, Derek is writing a book (fitness) and wants to have a show (preferably with a book deal). Gracious. What did I get myself into?

The workout wasn't especially enlightening, but I learned how to use the machines and where the towels were located (if you don't wipe down your machine after using it, the scornful glances turn brutal). One of my goals is to improve my posture. We worked on this while I walked on the treadmill. Derek stood behind me because all of the treadmills around me were occupied and told me to "stand up like the Queen," "roll your feet," and "pretend someone has a rope tied around your waist and is pulling you forward." This may seem trivial, but I challenge you to try all of these things while walking quickly on a moving belt that is slightly elevated and trying to have a face-to-face conversation with someone behind you. Not so easy. Not so graceful.

Thankfully, my workout ended with just enough time for me to dash into the changing room and find that all of my precious belongings and my magnificent iPhone were waiting for me in that unsecured corner locker. I took my belongings to the showers and kept my eyes focused ahead. Seems many women are immensely comfortable in that public changing area. And yes, I was that girl who didn't get dressed in the common area but instead dressed in the hot and humid shower area. I wasn't about to leave the iPhone in an unsecure location again! Whatevs. That's how I roll since I am apparently the antithesis of an LA girl.

My reward for pushing through this new challenge? As much coffee as my nerves can stand.

27 February 2009

Looking VS Reading

Might I be lazy for a post and direct you to several things I found today on the brilliant World Wide Web? All of these items are courtesy of The Penguin Blog maintained by the kind folks at Penguin UK.

First. A site of book covers. Penguin book covers to be exact. I believe my favorite to be this cover of Jane Eyre:

1,024 more beautiful covers can be found at: http://bookcoverarchive.com/?startrow=0

Second. A wonderful article on design and reading called "In Defense of Readers" by Mandy Brown. Copyright issues probably prevent me from re-posting the entire article here (not to mention the length of the article would dwarf all of my posts), so I shall only include an excerpt.

"The best readers are obstinate. They possess a nearly inexhaustible persistence that drives them to read, regardless of the circumstances they find themselves in. I’ve seen a reader absorbed in Don Quixote while seated at a noisy bar; I’ve witnessed the quintessential New York reader walk the streets with a book in hand; of late I’ve seen many a reader devour books on their iPhone (including one who confessed to reading the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy while scrolling with his thumb). And millions of us read newspapers, magazines, and blogs on our screens every day—claims that no one reads anymore notwithstanding."

There is a bit about the difference between looking at something and reading something. Very interesting.

(my thanks to Mandy Brown, wherever you are)

To read the rest of this article, please visit: http://alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofreaders

It's really very good.

Two more covers to appreciate:

26 February 2009

I Made It.

Dear Internet:

This post is woefully overdue, so my apologies are very much in order.

As you can tell from my subject line, I did in fact arrive in Los Angeles safely. In fact I not only arrived safely, I arrived tired and well after dark. Meghan and Joe were very kind to not only let me sleep on their comfy couch for a week but also to store my suitcases and tote bags in their living room.

Here's what it looked like when I crossed the California state line:

What a strange experience this move has been. As I left the unfamiliar, dry landscape of Arizona and entered a state I once called home, the terrain became recognizable and reassuring. All of the hallmarks of a California freeway welcomed me back: highway patrol cars were the usual black and white sedans with officers dressed in brown uniforms; blue call box signs marked the way down Interstate 10; drivers changed lanes without using indicators or their rear view mirrors.

As I headed west through the desert, the intense California sunset faded into whispers of pink and blue and yellow until all the colors bled into indigo. The desert sky was littered with more stars than I had ever remembered seeing out there.

During my first week here I found a very small apartment near work, I bought new tires because two of the old ones split, I enjoyed a lovely lobster pot pie while watching the Oscars with Meghan and I tried a breakfast place called The Waffle.

There will be much to write in the coming days, I suspect. This place feels more like a foreign country to me now than another state.

13 February 2009

1000+ Miles and Two Days Later...

Last night I stopped outside San Antonio, made friends with the girl at the to-go counter at Chili's and tucked myself into a Hampton Inn. (I can't help but wonder if I am supporting Paris Hilton's lifestyle each time I stay at a Hilton)

Here are photos from today's journey through the grand state of Texas:

Stopped at The Alamo to buy postcards and so that I could say I had seen it.

Just in case you're ever in the neighborhood.

Wondered why Montana is called Big Sky and not Texas. Isn't everything bigger in Texas?

Found joy in the fact that I could indeed go 80mph on the highway.

See? That glorious sign says 80!


Way off in the distance, the sun sets over Mexico.

12 February 2009

First Stop: New Orleans

Started the day off with a good breakfast.

Watched the morning commute on the Mississippi.

And decided that I love New Orleans.