Thursday, December 24, 2009

Time Keeps On Trippin'

Time is a trippy motherfudger.

I'm on Long Island, near the area where I grew up. My earliest memories look just like the places I went today: small houses tightly packed on every street, trees lining the spaces in between and every empty lot, diminishing as those are these days. Snow is coating everything following a recent storm. I can almost feel the same air I used to breathe. It's weird, and not a little unsettling.

Nothing about this place feels current. It all feels like an old dream. Where I live - my current life - the houses tend toward Spanish or Craftsman or Mid-Century in style. Here the old Dutch Colonials stare back at me, beckoning me to come inside. Come walk around with my eyes closed. I know the way by heart. Did I really live here, grow up here, have an entire existence here before I knew there was more?

We had dinner at my aunt and uncle's tonight with my grandfather. Grandpa has Alzheimer's disease and it's been a couple of years since I've seen him, between my living out of state and his reduced attendance at the annual family gatherings. My dad and I picked him up from the home where he lives now and brought him back to my aunt's. He was hunched over and using a walker, and though he seemed to recognize me as an old familiar, he certainly didn't know my name and couldn't retain where we were going or why. He did manage a bit of a quip every now and then, a throw-back to his razor sharp wit and gregarious nature. And when the Christmas carols came on, he sung along full pipes.

Coming back here is like Indiana Jones in the snake pit: face to face with my greatest fears. I've written of being upset by time's rapid passing and my reluctant inability to make it slow down. I am both afraid of the future and of time's passing. I find myself in quite a conundrum.

My friend is in the hospital tonight in labor, her first child on the precipice. I am overwhelmed for her and envious all at the same time. Time is definitely not standing still for her.

Merry Christmas to you. May we find ourselves with the intelligence to live life fully, every day. May time not intimidate the best intentioned of us. May my friend have her baby soon, and a healthy baby at that. And may my grandfather be with us next year to sing another verse of "Auld Lang Syne."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Same Old, Same Dlo

Much like Mary must have felt traveling for days, nine months pregnant on the back of a mule, I made a ten hour journey today in the back of a Civic being driven by a Dlo. Today's journey was broken up by meals at not one but two diners and an impromptu visit with some dear old family, my mother's cousins. We just so happened to stop off the highway in the very town where they live to get a bite and my mother just so happened to direct us to a shopping center directly behind their house. Just so happened is highly suspect, but there you have it. Next thing you know we were climbing out of the car, heading up the walk to ring their bell. This was our second attempt. The first was aborted upon realizing we had the wrong house. Thank God - I can imagine the look on my mother's face, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" trilling out of her mouth, as a stranger opened the front door. "Where is Cousin Johnny??" she'd sputter before the realization of our mistaken location came to her.

But there we were, gingerly climbing the path up to the front door, my father's "Oh look, they salted the walk for us!" an all too predictable joke that would surely be making another appearance for Cousin Johnny when he greeted us.

My mother's insistence that we weren't staying, weren't to take off our coats, only were going to say Merry Christmas and then be on our way was as realistic as a six foot tall leprechaun wearing a yarmulke and toe shoes. Our cousins insisted we come in and have coffee and dessert with them. Very old school. Very yummy, too: dessert was delightful Italian pastries; sfogliatella (yum!), cannoli (double yum!) and those multi-color mini-cake-slice cookies... I never was crazy for them though tonight, I could have been tempted. It was all enticing.

My mother, who earlier today announced in the car with some concession that she and my father were no longer Dlos In Training but Full-On Dlo (I consider it a gift in the spirit of the season that I didn't inform her they'd been Dlo for several years now), felt bad that we'd intruded on their dessert. It was obvious though that our unexpected visit was a deeply felt treat, a true gift of the season. Family is family. What ever happened to stopping by to say hello to the people you love?

Coats on, scarves tightened, we headed back to the Civic to resume our journey. "Thanks for salting the walk for us!" my father shouted back.

Same old, same old.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thank You, Samuel Adams

Being with family has been better than I expected (though I'm reserving the decision to rescind my previous reservations until after I've seen my sister) but it sure makes for dull writing. Where's the wit in rocking your five year old nephew in your arms until his breathing becomes steady again after he cries his eyes out in the bathroom because his parents are out for the evening? No, no wit there. Just unbridled affection. He's a very tender boy.

So I thought I'd take this time to... to... look ahead to 2010? Reflect on how my kids have grown? Ponder the Middle East crisis?

Heck no. The kids are down. I'm having a beer.

One Will Be Just Fine

According to my horoscope, I will receive something special from someone I least expect today. I am super-psyched. Christmas isn't for another four days. That rules out Santa. And my family and I exchanged gifts last night, plus I was kind of expecting those presents, so it's probably not them either. This means I'm likely going to be meeting a stranger bearing gifts today. I can't believe it - my very own wiseman! Will it be frankincense, myrrh or diamonds?!

I will keep you posted. I have to cut this short - I need to shower; the mailman might be arriving soon. He could be the one!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Das Boot

I had the joy of going ice skating with my eight year old niece this afternoon. By ice skating with, I actually mean skating next to my niece while she clung to my arm and shuffled her feet. We were there about an hour and a half and I'm guessing the total number of loops we made on the ice where she was not touching me to be point-six. After about a half hour she spotted a friend with whom we did another couple of rounds, the most successful being when she held one hand with her friend and the other hand with me. And finally after a bit of whispering between them, I got the boot: she wanted to skate alone with her friend.

I adore my niece. She is my secret favorite of all of them. I'd do anything for her. So of course I said no problem, then skated off freely on my own, gliding across the ice while keeping a distant eye on the girls from across the rink. I didn't mind getting the boot; she seemed really happy to run into her friend there. And seeing my niece's face light up when I rejoined her to shuffle her off the ice at the end made me know she loves me for more than just my arm.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Le Tigre

[Editor's note: January wrote this at approximately 4:15 am, body-time. She posted it later on a computer. If she ever figures out how to blog from her iPhone she will announce it via iPhone from a remote destination such as Paris, the Serengeti, or the Ancient Ruins of Ouxexiahaha.]

[Editor's note, part 2: January has final editorial review over all Editorial notes. Therefore Editor can not accept responsibility for the potential fabrication of exotic locales or, say, ancient ruins.]

I am sitting at a motley painted picnic table in the most unlikely
place for such an item: Chicago's O'Hare airport. I'm in the middle of my red-eye flight back east. I fell asleep on the last flight before we took off so that should give you some indication of how awake I am right now. That and the fact that I'm typing on my swanky little pink netbook. Oh, wait. I don't have a netbook. Make that thumb prancing on my iPhone.

I am not long for this world of thumb blogging, so I'll keep this brief. Plus, I'm not sure we're all ready for January Stream of Conscious on four (?) hours of sleep. But I saw an advertisement as I walked out of the terminal too priceless to pass by. Naturally I stopped and took a pic.
Um, I think it is to him.

Happy Travels.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

It has just hit me: I'm leaving my home for two weeks. I'll be living out of a suitcase for two weeks. Worse still, I'll be around less than desirable family members for part of this time. And perhaps worse yet, I'll be spending a chunk of it in Astoria, Queens. Sweet God above have mercy on me. In all my time in New York City I was first a Manhattan then a Brooklyn Snob. I don't look warmly on the other boroughs.

I'm off today and hopefully Friday; I still have crafting to do (yup, my efficiency meter shot sky-high at the idea of making individual notecards as gifts this year - clearly it didn't foresee the five hours it would take me to make my first set of ten), cleaning (I'm afraid the fuzz in my shower will become a jungle by the time I return in January), laundry and packing. All this when already at the precipice of a mental break. I don't think cleaning is going to help my mental state but perhaps if I sniff the Ajax a bit I'll become disoriented enough to forget what was stressful in the first place. Oh, shoot. Traveling. I remembered.

Let me lay it all out for you: First I'll be in a small rural town in Upstate New York. Beautiful? Yes. Will I get to see any of its beauty? No. I'll be snowbound. The forecast for every day through my visit is for snow. I've made a mental note to get out the big suitcase since I'll be bringing my snow boots with me. There I will be with my brother & his family, his offspring being the highlight of my trip. The kids are wonderful and I love them! My parents now in their retirement live there too. I love all these people but the chemistry with them all together is highly combustible. I am thanking God my sister and her brood aren't joining us - last Thanksgiving I ended up crying in the pantry with a bag of almonds in one hand and a napkin in the other, trying to dry my eyes before I reemerged. My sister in that exact mix of personalities (my immediate family!) is deadly. It's amazing I made it to college alive.

After several days in the Arctic, I'll be riding with the Dlos down to NYC (well, Astoria) and will have Christmas Eve all to myself. In Queens. No walking out my apartment door to the grand sights and sounds of Manhattan as I'd hoped. (That friend's boyfriend is coming on Christmas, putting the kibosh on my staying there.) I will be seeing the lovely elevated subway train and using it as a beacon to the spot where my train to salvation will come. I will hop that train and ride it for dear life into Manhattan, and hopefully even to my old hood in Brooklyn. I hear there's an Ikea there now. Not bad! One can always cure the blues with a day spent wandering the Swedish Halls of Decoration at Ikea.

On Christmas day I'll head to New Jersey (what?!) for the traditional family gathering, then likely head home for the night with my sister. See my reference to her above. This I am not looking forward to. Anywho, the following day I believe we'll be gathering with the Dlos as well to do our own little Christmas celebration. My sister's house is very like that of the old nursery rhyme except my sister isn't exactly an old woman. But they may have had more room in their shoe than my sister and her family do in their abode.

As previously mentioned, I will later be heading up to Rhode Island to rendez-vous with a dear friend and come the following Sunday, be back to my home. My home. This is where I live now. Trying to fit in where and with whom I used to live doesn't fit at all. The longer you are away, the less skewered your vision gets, the more you see things and people for the way they really are. Sometimes you see they're more beautiful than you ever considered. Other times, you recoil from the ugliness that stings your eyes with every glance.

I am hoping that Santa grants me another Christmas miracle, that of unexpected joy. With my expectations being so low, the chances of them being exceeded are looking pretty good.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Fung Wah Wah Wah Wah, Wah Wah Wah Wah

One of my all time favorite movie scenes: Christmas dinner at the Chinese restaurant after their home-cooked meal was eaten by the dogs, in "A Christmas Story". I'm sure it's politically incorrect to find their mangled version of 'Deck the Halls' hysterical, but I did and I do. The 10 year-old me and my current self have kept our sense of humor at inappropriate things. Some of them, anyway. Apparently the 17 year-old me also shares this humor, as I can recall an instant with a certain foreign guest speaker and a faulty projector screen in Social Studies one day. Hey, I am... was... and always will be... human. Sometimes laughing is the only exercise I have for days. Allow me my follies.

The title of this blog post is an altogether different Chinese reference though. I am going back East over the holidays and will need to get from New York to Providence (don't feel pity for me, but do send cash) as efficiently as possible. This lead me to buses. And that lead me to the mythical Chinatown buses. I've heard of them for years but never took one when I lived in New York. Allegedly, they run back and forth between New York and Boston for a ridiculously low fare. And this afternoon, with the magic of the internet and a twinkle of pixie dust, I found proof of such a bus! By proof I mean an internet site, but everyone knows if it's on the internet it's legitimate. In fact, any day my new unicorn, Henry, is arriving with his two bales of regenerating hay and self-cleaning pooper scooper. I cleared out a closet for him. It's a very exciting time over here.

Anyway, I've found a super cheap bus (yes, by efficient I really meant "cheap") to transport me from Chinatown, New York to Providence, Rhode Island, fortunately not my last destination on that particular trip. I will meet a friend from there and travel on in relative luxury in her Ford Focus. I will tell her how to say "hello" and "flower" in Chinese, and read her her lucky numbers. I may even tell her a joke ("What did the cow say?" "Moo"), who knows. Really, taking a Chinatown bus will be nothing short of magical, so it'll all kind of be downhill after that. But I feel sure that finding this bus line is a little Christmas miracle. Though it will be after that day, perhaps I can rouse my fellow bus riders to a spirited, if not mangled, rendition of 'Jingle Bells.'

Um, scratch that. Better make it 'Oh Christmas Tree.'

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The More Things Change

Well, hello again. Funny seeing you here. Me, I haven't been around in ages. In fact I see the entire eleventh month of this year went by without so much as a peek-a-boo. You'll have to forgive me... see previous post (the one and only from the tenth month). Like the bruise I got at 11 when they tipped over my canoe for my water safety test at Girl Scout camp, I have healed but am still very sore. Unlike that bruise I am not black, green, blue or purple. So I'm grateful for small favors. But I still am resisting re-immersion into my life... not a good thing, truth be told. I've used far too many chocolate chips in an attempt to numb the hurt. I am here to tell you the results are very short-lived, but for the inches on my ass. I feel they're sticking around until I kick them out forcibly. However, enough amusing activity has arisen this past week that I felt the urge to write about it. I feel like a mental hospital patient on a daytime furlough: titillated yet sedated. Hmm, perhaps I should trade semi-sweet chocolate bits for little green and white pills. Food for thought.

I met a man of interest in the last couple of weeks and we went out this week. We met at a common activity and were drawn to each other right away. He has extremely strong energy. And I, I have mesmerizing eyes. [Editor's note: January's doctor has encouraged her to write as positively as possible, so please excuse any artistic excesses she may take.] Anywho, he and I hit it off and saw each other again a couple of times with the group. Then we ended up going out together alone... Um, it didn't start as a date but I felt certain by the time he stuck his tongue in my mouth that it was, in fact, a date. Or at least a demi-date. Yes, I think given the last-minute arranging of plans and my semi-reluctance to kiss or cuddle with him, demi-date may be a good term for it. He's intriguing, older, energetic, shares the same faith as me (a big bonus, believe it or not), and seems like such a great catch. Ah, but he's older. And, um, carrying about 30 extra pounds on him. Does that make me a bad person, being dis-attracted to a man with a belly? Oh, and the Fu Man Chu mustache has got to go. So... I think he does too. Only I was supposed to see him again tonight.

I bagged off. I'm too stressed already, I couldn't handle more this evening. This is why dating sucks so badly. Either 1) I don't meet men I like, or 2) I meet men I like but they don't like me or are unavailable, or 3) I meet a man I may like but by the time I figure out I don't like him, he's fallen head over hells for me and is difficult to cut off. I hate hurting feelings. Breaking up with a guy is almost always as bad for me as it is for him.

I am seriously considering online dating or joining a convent. There has got to be a better way than this rotating assembly of side show attractions. Where are the single mid-to-late 30's men with minimal baggage, strong faith and no bellies???

Oh Lord. Where are those little chocolate pills.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Finding Happiness

263 new messages in my inbox. That's how many emails are sitting there, waiting for me to go through them. 263 emails accumulated in the two weeks or so since I've turned on my computer. I sometimes hate email.

The last few weeks of my life have been... painful. I have been enduring a personal crisis, one so deeply reaching I'm not even willing to write about it. Not wanting to relive the emotions via written word. Not wanting to share with the public, despite my semi-anonymity, my personal hell. I am just starting to emerge, coming up for air...

The big question I have now is, how do you find happiness again? How do you break through the water's surface, breathe, and smile?

This morning I woke up peaceful. I think I am on my way. Today I'm taking small steps... I am walking toward happiness. I've even laughed heartily once already today. This bodes well for this day. There is hope.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When You're Least Expecting

I've had the weirdest week. I'm usually a very upbeat person and typically greet the day with a smile on my face and a light air of happiness. This past week saw the other side of me come out though, starting on Wednesday morning with the maintenance men. I can't narrate the story of the maintenance for you or I will start to simmer again. Given my previous history with the maintenance men in this building - including the one who ASSAULTED my friend in my apartment and subsequently plead guilty to some misdemeanor version of the charge - Wednesday could have been worse. Seeing that the aforementioned man was at my building to work on the emergency plumbing fix (which caused them to turn off the hot water with no notification to any of us) was definitely the worst part. He said nothing to me - just smiled. Creepy. But it actually was the other man who I dealt with to fix the minor problems in my bathroom that irritated me the longest. And the no hot water. I hadn't showered yet.

So Wednesday morning sucked. A lot.

Then the strangest thing happened: I found out I was being hired two days on a union voucher for work, which means that now I will be able to join the union. I have been working for this for 15 months and had all but given up hope. Conceding that I can not survive on non-union wage alone, I was preparing to go back to a corporate job and actually had a meeting arranged for that afternoon with a placement agency. And then completely out of the blue, I found out my good fortune.

I was so overwhelmed and surprised by it that I couldn't truly celebrate! My energy was stuck in that bitter, angry spin cycle where the next innocent passer-by may get knifed. I mean, they say it's going to happen when you're not looking for it. Well, they say this about love. So I think they must mean it about all amazing surprises. You're not expecting any new cash coming in and then you receive a random refund check from your credit card company. You go with your friend to an audition and they like your look so you read - then you book a national commercial. You walk around the corner, broccoli in your teeth, stringy, unwashed hair, no makeup on to cover up the three new zits that sprung up overnight, and you walk into your soul mate. (I'm testing this last one out by regularly going for walks looking my worst - I don't even brush my teeth - but so far the only men I've walked into was a garbage man and a gay dog-walker. The dog-walker sort of foundered backwards. I think he caught a whiff of my morning breath.) Well, not only was I not looking for the voucher success; I was deaf, dumb and blind to it. I have no idea how it happened. And I'm not sure if it's really hit me yet.

Wednesday morning: low. Wednesday afternoon: high. Thursday I worked (union!) and was in a slight fog all day. I think I was afraid they might change their minds while I was there and inform me I'd only be earning the non-union wage or something. Friday I was on edge, waiting for confirmation that I was working (union!) on Monday again. I did get confirmation and then heaved a big sigh of relief. But I haven't been able to shake this whole feeling of frustration that started Wednesday. I thought when the time came that I earned all the prerequisites to join the union, I'd be over the moon. I have yet to do my full spontaneous joy song/happy dance. I am going to do it soon though, I am. Here is how it goes:

Yeeeeeeeeeahhhh!!! I'm joining the union! I did it! (double fist-pump, kick, kick, kick)

Oh my God!!!! I'm going to be union! Yay meeee!! (fist-pump, kick, fist-pump, kick)

You know what? That felt good. I'm actually already feeling a bit better. Maybe I'll stand up and do a few kick-pumps.

Yay me!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Parking Rage

I'm going to go back to school. I'm going to earn my Ph.D in Psychology and I'm going to write my thesis on "Parking Rage" and I'm going to publish it in all the leading psychology journals and I'm going to become famous for my theory on its cause and how to solve it. I'm going to become known as Dr. Parking.

In my small apartment building (12 apartments), each apartment is assigned one space. One apartment, who has crowded a family of anywhere between four and seven depending on the week it seems, has at least three cars in its possession and has blatantly hijacked at least one of the spots in our rear driveway. I'll call them the Smiths. They can only get away with this because one apartment is currently vacant. That, and they're yellers. Trust me, I've been on the receiving end. That's a random story for another time. I'll call that one "A Day Late and a Holler Short". Anyway, with each apartment having one parking spot to itself, it would seem there wouldn't be much room for confusion here. And yet there is. The people I mention above are the worst consistent offenders. But the tenant who irritates me the most is the Christian man upstairs.

Folks, I mention his religion for a very specific reason. My understanding of Christians include that they are to act like Christ; i.e., be loving, kind, show compassion, etc. So I expect a man who evangelizes to all new faces in the building the Lord's Message and tried hard for almost a year to get me to attend his church (where he informed me they 'don't hug or do anything weird like that') to be particularly kind and patient. Unfortunately, I also know there are many "people of faith" who have become so blinded by self-righteousness that they lose sight completely of what real faith and love for God is and become awful, Christ-less versions of religion. Feel free to slap me if you ever see me becoming one of them. This man, since he is advanced in age and though feisty, could be my grandfather, is not someone I can slap. So I am left to quietly seethe while he starts regularly parking in a non-space in our driveway: the area opposite my car, against the building's wall. And while I am usually able to get out well enough, pulling in is always a challenge when someone is parked there. And my friend visiting me right now spent 20 minutes the other day trying to get out of my parking spot, poor thing.

So today I decide no mas. Today I spoke with him, kindly and sweetly, and asked if he would please not park there, that it is not a parking space, and it is difficult for me to get in and out. He hesitated - he was silent for a good ten seconds - and then said "Sure." About ten minutes later he came downstairs and brought up the topic again to me, trying to explain that he'd worked out an arrangement with Mr. Smith to park there (opposite my car) only during certain hours of the day, when Mr. Smith is home from work. I held my ground, quite firmly but as nicely as I could muster with my waning patience. He acknowledged that it is illegal to park there. (Duh. That is why he was almost towed from the back driveway about a year and a half ago. He bribed the tow truck to leave without taking his car. He told me that night that it had happened because he'd broken his promise to God - his promise not to park back there ever again. I did not bring up this bit of history when speaking with him today. But I doubt God's forgotten it.)

The driveway is clear of extra cars, for now. I have a clear path to take when I leave here in an hour. I hate to say it, but I feel the odds are in favor of him parking there again. The thought of it makes me seethe...

My thesis, when I am Dr. Parking, Ph.D, is that our parking spaces become extensions of ourselves. When someone tries to take advantage of us by abusing our parking setup, we take personal offense to it. Men have been killed over less. Me, I plan on moving to a nicer apartment just as soon as I can swing it. It will be in the country and everyone will ride horses everywhere. There will be a barn out back where everyone has his own horse stall. And if anyone tries to squeeze his horse into my stall, so help me God-- I'm going to dump a load of horse shit on his front stoop.

As for the misguided Christian man upstairs... I will pray for him!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

B is for Booty

Several months ago I was... um, dating a guy. I call him Dave. I met Dave on set while working one day on a period piece. My first impressions of Dave were not favorable. He was wearing tights. Tights, some kind of froofie collar and an awful flat-haired wig. He latched on to me instantly and while I thought he was nice enough, I also thought he might be slow. He talked a lot about his dead grandmother. Not exactly the kind of conversation that makes you say Hey fella, you're turning me on! What do you say we shake off this Renaissance attire and really break a sweat together? (Ignoring the fact that I was so snapped, laced and strapped into my corset that removing any of my costume required professional help, of course.) The point is, I wasn't impressed. Then when we were leaving, I was a bit behind him. I noticed him waiting for me. He was trying to be discreet but I could tell. And when I checked out and walked by him he spun around as if our timing was pure kismet. We walked out to the garage together. I couldn't help but notice, something was very different. He has black, thick, choppy/spiky hair. He's actually very good looking. And he drives a motorcycle! All things to turn around my dweeby Norman Bates first impression to a date-worthy kind of guy.

We exchanged numbers and started to communicate. I use the word "communicate" because he seemed disinclined to talk on the phone, versus texting. He is, in fact, a serial texter. His most frequent text to me: "Hey."

But I digress. We started to communicate, which lead to hanging out, which lead to some wildly entertaining sex. He was a dirty boy... mama like! But he remained rather distant outside the bedroom and mama did not like that. I finally told him I didn't want to be just a booty call, that I was at the point of wanting to be with someone, to have a boyfriend and ultimately a husband. He listened thoughtfully and didn't say too much. A couple of days later he texted me that all he could handle right then was sex and so he thought it would be better if we were just friends. By the way, I give him credit for that! And that shows you how idiotic and thoughtless a lot of guys are. I was happier that he leveled with me than sad that he didn't want to be my boyfriend.

Not proudly I admit to you that I tried as hard as I could to get him to come over for one more Paso Doble in the sheets. (Hey, I'm like a camel! I have to store it up!) He reluctantly declined, siting the rareness of actual success between F Buddies staying just Buddies apart from the F. Whatever. I was crushed that he turned down my request for one more for the road, but what are you going to do.

Things initially progressed awkwardly between us. As I expected, he didn't seem too comfortable with being a friend! Attempts by me to get together somewhere in public for some innocent event, like coffee, went unaccepted. We saw each other at work occasionally and that seemed to help turn the tide. Then I took a friend to go hear him play out (he's an aspiring singer-songwriter too, did I mention??) and it was like good times at the old friends home. Very comfortable and loads of fun. Nice.

Last night while talking with a friend, fighting off sleep in between sentences because I was so tired, Mr. Dave texted me.

Dave: "Hey"

Me: "Hey"

"What are you doing?"

"Talking with a friend, about to hit the hay."

"Why don't I come over?" [Editor's note: spelling of "come" has been corrected here. Dave spelled it the vulgar way.] [January's note: I said he was a dirty boy!]

"I'm exhausted, worked long day. Gonna go to bed."

"Well how about I wake you up? ;)"

*Sigh.* Dave, you're about four months late. And you can't seem to spell. And your deep love for your dead grandmother makes me feel kind of icky. Plus your tongue ring really is amazing for some things [Editor's note: January is forbidden to expand on this remark] but really gross when I kiss you. So, no. No, you may not come over. No, I will not be your booty call. As a very wise woman once said, if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it.

And no, that doesn't include tongue rings.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Cheesecake

OK, so maybe I never made a cheesecake for the firemen. But while searching for an image to put at the top of my post "My Season of Baking", I stumbled onto this picture of classic New York cheesecake. I may need to resume my baking.

My Season of Baking

Seven years ago right now I was putting the first of my homemade cookies into the oven. I'd rushed home from work in the city to my apartment in Brooklyn Heights and baked a batch as fast as I could. I finished them some time before nine o'clock and then, wrapping them carefully, I walked over to the neighborhood firehouse, Engine 205, Ladder 118. I nervously knocked on the side door. The big, front door was down and there were no signs of life. I think I may have rung the bell. A young fireman greeted me. I told him I'd baked some cookies for them, and his eyes lit up and he welcomed me in and lead me to the back of the house, to the kitchen, where they were all gathering. Apparently firemen all eat together and sort of late, since their shift-change comes during normal dinner hours. They enthusiastically welcomed me to eat with them. I felt bad. I was there to bring comfort to them. I was feeling lousy myself and I could only imagine how they were feeling. But I stayed. I can still taste the ground beef-pasta creation (actually, I think I just burped some of it). A couple of the older guys sat with me at a table, the younger guys a bit shy to be talking with an attractive young woman bearing baked goods. Or maybe they had girlfriends, young wives - ? Either way, the older guys were comfortable enjoying my company, not shy or quiet at all.

As we started to eat, they all angled themselves to face the TV hanging from the wall in the corner. A documentary about 9/11 was about to come on. I was stunned. I hesitantly asked one of the guys next to me if they weren't kind of sick of seeing all the stuff about 9/11. It was a year. Their house lost eight men that day. He replied "Well, yeah, we are. But we're in this one." And so they were! The show narrated what happened to them on 9/11, interviewing some of them. The TV showed these firemen - in this firehouse - in this kitchen, with the same TV that I was now staring at in the same corner of the room. It was surreal. None of them were upset; I guess they had a year to cry and grieve about it. They were very brave men, as I learned after 9/11. One never really considers the bravery of a fireman until he actually dies in one of those burning buildings trying to save someone. 343 firemen were killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. It's almost too much to think about, even eight years later.

The firemen at the house that night lifted my spirits so high, I no longer was feeling depressed. I was happy and so appreciative for the sacrifices these men made for us everyday. I was so happy that the next day, the first anniversary, I rushed home and baked for them again. And when I got to the house to deliver the baked goods, their main door was up, and a young fireman who wasn't there the prior evening thanked me for the cupcakes and I went on my way. A lot of other folks in the neighborhood had brought by baked goods and flowers. It was all really nice, and really appropriate, but I found myself thinking 'Wouldn't it be nice to do something special for them on other days, not just this anniversary?' So that began my baking for the firemen, something I continued for almost a year, until some gained weight made me reduce the frequency of my baking (I've never been able to resist chocolate chip cookie batter!) and a new boyfriend became the recipient of what rare baking I did. So ultimately, I baked for them for a season. My season of baking for the firemen... something I'll always be so happy I did. I wasn't able to take away the hurt for anyone I knew who was affected by the acts of 9/11, but I could certainly sweeten things a bit.

Revolution Number 9

Gee, is it Thursday already? How did I go this long without writing anything? I'm trying to be good about that. I'm trying to write every day. The more I do it, the better it feels. But it's easy not to write. It's easier not to do anything. It's easy to be a big fat f*ck. Excuse the expression. It's always just flowed so nicely.

Not that I am a big fat f*ck, thought I have been feeling overweight and unhappy with my body for some time now. How long is some time? Oh... three years. Three years. Ever since I moved here. How the hell does someone go for three years without liking her body, the very baseline of her self-esteem? Well, it's not nice, I've got to tell ya. But I'm being honest. I'm owning up to it. Here it is: I have body image issues. Most people look at my body and think it looks fine. I look slim enough; I have an attractive figure... Ironically, I've gotten more positive feedback about my ass recently than ever before. Me, I look at my body and think "My ass is too big. I can't fit into my pants anymore. My pants are literally ripping. I... can't... fit into my clothes. I've gained weight."

Moving to California, of all things, actually decreased the activity in my daily lifestyle. I've gained weight and I've kept it. It was a little slow, and then the last six months or so really pushed me over the line. How much weight am I talking about here? Thirty, forty... sixty pounds? No. Not even ten. So help me God I'm being held hostage by 9 pounds. Nine pounds is all it takes to drag my esteem through the gutter. What the hell is that. I'm an intelligent woman. I'm a sane woman. I know that's ridiculous. I know that's... unreasonable. But I can't help how I feel. And I feel... unattractive. And I feel upset, because so many of my clothes don't fit me. And I feel sad because I want nice clothes. I want cute little dresses. I want to wear fun skirts. And guess what? I've got a closet full of them. But I can't wear them. They don't fit. They look horrible. And - you know what? At this point I'm not even sure that they do look horrible. But I feel like they look horrible. Because I feel horrible. I'm being held hostage by nine freaking pounds.

I've read a lot of really interesting things over the years about women and their bodies. My favorite is probably the piece "Size Six: The Western Woman's Harem" by Fatema Mernissi, published by Ode magazine in August 2003. (Check it out: But all the well-written and really, really sensible articles you could read don't change what's inside you. If you've been drilled since birth that thin is in - and if in your lifetime skinny, flat dimensions became really ideal - it takes enormous strength and flawless sense of self to embrace your body and love it for each and every glorious inch and pound.

I have a lot of glorious inches. I may have some trouble loving them all today, but so help me, I'm going to love them all before I die and hopefully much sooner. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. I feel a revolution coming on!

I am beautiful! My body is beautiful! My cellulite is b-

Ah, let's not get carried away here. One inch at a time.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

January's Botanical Garden

(Left to Right) The stepchild, Cathy; the wounded Christmas Cactus; its healthy sibling.

The sign I'm hoping saves the day.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Green is the New Black Thumb

I have a black thumb. I have killed every plant I've ever owned. This mostly means I don't bring plants into my household. Being an avid decorator though, I long for the harmonic feng shui some living shrubbery would bring to my home. So every now and then I've tried.

A rather unsuspecting friend gave me two beautiful Christmas Cacti a few months ago when she was moving out of town. I didn't have the heart to tell her she should bid them adieu since she'd never again see such full, expectant, beautiful green plants. If she expected me to video-phone her the plants to see how they were faring, she had another thing coming. But then I had a strange turn of luck. They were too big to be inside, and she had kept them on her balcony, so I put them on mine. (Editor's note: January's balcony is actually the stoop outside her front door. She doesn't have a balcony.) Suddenly they were blossoming their beautiful hot-pink flowers. How did I fare before such creations of beauty grew outside my door?? I felt suddenly confident. Perhaps I could learn to grow plants like a professional. Perhaps green is the new black!

And then one of them started wilting.

I don't know what happened. I watered them equally and not too often. The one stayed large and in charge. But the other one... well, it became pitiful.

One morning I went out to water them and upon touching the soil, realized they had already been watered. What?!?! Someone else was watering my plants?! Oh my God, someone was committing planticide -- they were being over-watered! This was very distressing to me. I thought about it, starting with the most obvious suspect: the old foreign semi-crazy lady across the courtyard. I'll call her Babushka. Babushka stores her mops in the flowerbed under her window and keeps various chairs outside her stoop depending on what she's discovered on the curb that week. She also regularly leaves an abandoned shopping cart in the courtyard after a particularly fruitful shopping trip and I always wait until dark and push it out to the sidewalk in front of the neighbor's building. Anyway, I asked Babushka's son one day (she doesn't speak English) if by chance she'd been watering my plants and if so could she stop. Her shrieks informed me it was not her.

My next probable suspect was the landscaping guys. They come weekly and though I hadn't seen it happen myself, I did note that my plants' dirt was moist on Mondays... So one day when a guy was out cutting the grass, I spoke with him, asking if he'd watered my plants. Bingo!! He said yes, they were dry. I said, they're cactuses idiot, they're suppose to be dry. Well no, I didn't say that. I would have said cacti. But actually I said thanks, but please don't anymore since I'm watering them. He smiled and answered that he wouldn't.

Last week my struggling cactus seemed to be perking up! Until after Monday, and then she wilted again. Her soil again was damp. Grrr... Now I'm thinking either that man is not the same one who always comes and/or there is a language issue going on since he and the other guys primarily speak Spanish. I am desperate to save my cactus! And I'm worried that the healthy one may go too. So I am taking the toro by the horns!! I have made signs to put up by my plants in English and Spanish. So help me Dios, this had better work. Mis plantas need an intervention here, and soon. Wish me luck.

(The editor wishes to include mention of January's third plant, evidently the stepchild, since she left it out. January and her mother went shopping for it when her parents were visiting. It is a Camellia Japonica Purity and it loves shade - perhaps the real issue with January's cacti. January named it "Cathy" after her mother. She's therefore holding very high hopes that she doesn't kill it.)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Days of Wine and Roses

I got a blast from the past tonight when my dear old friend Pete with whom I'd studied abroad our junior year of college popped up on my caller ID. We were rolling on set so I didn't pick up. And it turned out it wasn't him, but his friend who also studied there with us. Here's the voice message. Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.

"Hi January, this is Tom O'Connell calling you. Perhaps you remember a little town in the south of France... on the ocean beach... tying me up in the bed... and having your way with me. 'Cause I sure remember it. And I think it was a damn good time. So, Pete and I are sitting here hanging out tonight, thinking about it. We both have a bunch of kids now, and are married, sitting in the doldrums of life, thinking back to the wonder years. So just wanted to call and say... thanks. Bye-bye!"

Um... ah... you're welcome? No, I mean... Damn you Tom O'Connell, you dirty mid-30's year old man!... Uh...

This guy is still smiling thinking about a lay he had in December 1993? I suppose I could point out how utterly pathetic that implies his sex life since has been. Or I could mention that I remember no details about it except that it didn't happen again and wouldn't have happened at all if my roommates hadn't gone to Barcelona that weekend. I could also go into some depth on the array of emotions this message brought about this good Catholic-raised contemporary woman: guilt, mortification and the giggles, not necessarily in that order. I should probably mention that Pete and I have always been friends. It's not like 16 years has passed since we've spoken. And he's extremely good-natured, so I believe there was nothing ill-spirited by this call. So... here's what I think:

They were very drunk.

And I was very good ;)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Paging Dr. Banner

I pride myself on being a calm, peaceful, fairly evolved human person. I keep an even keel. Rarely do things rattle me. I've even stopped cursing at people when I drive. Yet today I witnessed myself, from a painfully close proximity, go from Calm Happy to Angry Bitch in about five minutes time. Literally, like Bruce Banner, I morphed from a very happy woman who'd just seen a wonderful film (Julie & Julia, by the way - highly worth checking out. The cuisine was not the only masterpiece in the film. Exceptional performances by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci stand out too) to an angry, upset person who could find nothing but fault with her parents. Five minutes. That's all it took for me to sell them to the devil. I was pissed.

The matter at hand is so insignificant that I have no choice but to believe the whole episode was another Opportunity From God that comes along every now and then to change something awful about myself. The more something irritates me, the more I probably need to check it out and ultimately let go of it. I've been having such a nice time with the Dlos. After the movie, to which we arrived about a half hour early, I noticed the time and realized we had seven minutes until our free parking expired. Seven minutes. Holy crap, seven minutes and the world was ending. It was a preview of 2012. It was insane. I felt overcome with the need to "pay" for the parking before it became un-free, so I waited until my Dad came out of the loo - five minutes now, and Mom was still in there - and told him I was going to pay the parking and to meet me at the car. I then ran across the mall... RAN. There, I clarified it: I was insane. I ran across the mall and down to the pay-machine and punched out for free with two minutes to spare. I then came back upstairs to wait for my parents, knowing Mom moves slow and figuring I'd see them as they approached and we would rendezvous sooner. I waited. And I waited. Ten minutes passed and they were no where to be seen. Then it started: the painful descent into Where the hell are they? and Really? Can she REALLY still be peeing? and SON OF A BITCH. DON'T THEY KNOW I ALREADY PAID OUT THE PARKING AND WE HAVE TO LEAVE THE MALL NOW??!!

Oh, Lord. I was so far gone, I didn't care who saw my flesh turn green or my pants rip open for my expanded muscles. Mom finally called me (Me: "Where are you??") and said they were at the car. Now, this should have been the end of the incident. But it got worse. I ran down the stairs... and couldn't find the car. Specifically, I couldn't remember where we'd parked.

Dick. Just call me Dick.

It probably took me no more than five minutes and two phone calls to Mom from that point to find them, and we left with no problem... but the damage had been done; I'd exploded in my head at them and was embarrassed by the jerk I'd become. Like a flash flood, I'd flash-assholed. I flasholed. They were calm and unfrazzled, I think because they knew how worked up I was. They've gotten very good at that, counter-balancing their children's moods. My brother especially has given them lots of practice. However, today was my turn. I felt bad about being at all bitchy to them. I felt worse to know this part of me still exists.

Before I found the car, once I'd realized I was lost and now was the one delaying us further, I had a quick talk with God. "Lord, I know I messed up here. I get it. I was impatient and now I'M the one screwing up! But seriously, I get it. Now, can you please help me find the freakin' car?? THANK YOU!"

Not my finest prayer. Sometimes I like to think He's up there enjoying the show and I take pleasure knowing at least someone's laughing. Other times I know He's just up there, gazing down at me, all "Oh, child. Ohhhhh, child.", nodding His head like the parent of a new puppy who's just chewed up his new slippers for the eighth time. Lots of love, lots of patience, some amusement and way more wisdom than the puppy - or I - has at this point in its life.

Please grant me patience, Lord. Help me be slow to anger and long on humor. Remind me that the insipid details of our earthly days, the $2.00 we may need to pay for overstaying our parking, are really, really not important at all. And if all else fails Lord, please trip me within the first twenty feet so at least I know right off the bat that I should throw in the towel. I promise my pride can take it.

Time Flies

The Dlos are visiting again. They're here for a week this time. It's lovely... and a real time-sucker. Not in a bad way, just in an Oh My God, It's the 1st and I Haven't Paid My Rent Yet kind of distracted way. So - I've got thoughts exploding to get out of my head but no time alone to write them. At this moment, Mom's in the shower and Dad's up and about, so I hopped online real quick. But this, alas, must be short and sweet.

I almost wrote last night but instead ending up watching "Ten Days That Changed America: Antietam" with the Dlos until about 11:00, at which time I roused myself - I'd fallen asleep twice - and we started talking about our plans for today.

My plan right now is to say TTFN (ta ta for now) and skedaddle since the shower's about to open up. At least I'm managing to keep up my hygiene.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

La Vie est Belle

Oh, to be in France. Everything seems magnified there: richer colors, robuster flavors, even the language is more beautiful. I've had a love affair with France since I was a kid. My first trip was a heady twenty years ago this summer as part of a school exchange. Some memories from that trip have stayed with me, popping out for visits over the years... Here's a good one: we're in Paris in a shop buying a bottle of water and my classmate can't quite speak well enough to get that across. I commandeer the request and we're handed the water along with a "Tres bien" and a smile for me from the shopkeeper. Here's a better one: it's July 14th, Bastille Day, and I'm hanging out with my 'sister' and the other kids we'd met on vacation there in the French Alps where our family had taken us. We're marching along, arms interlocked, singing the French national anthem. I'm the only one who knows all the lyrics, thanks to my incredible high school French teacher, the Parisian Madame Gilbert.

Hmm, both memories involve me being better than others at something! Um, paging Dr. Freud...

Well here's the best memory. It's the last night of our stay, and my 'sister' Sandrine and her boyfriend Max and I and another boy, a cute one who's name I no longer recall, are hanging out. Sandrine is coming back to the States with us for the other part of the exchange so she is seeing Max for the last time in a while. They are off somewhere on their own. I am left alone with the cute boy - I'll call him Jean-Luc, why not? Jean-Luc and I are laying in the grass on our backs, watching the stars. There are shooting stars that night. The sky is deep blue and speckled with a sea of stars and some of them streak across as if to visualize the magic that I know surrounds me. It's beautiful, and peaceful. Jean-Luc rolls over and stares into my 16 year old eyes, so naive and trusting and hopeful. He brushes a piece of hair out of my eyes and leans down and kisses me. He doesn't say a word, just brushes his lips softly against mine, and I kiss him back.

If only. Really, though that is my favorite memory from that night - shooting stars, people! - Jean-Luc never kissed me. He remained on his back and I on mine. We were two nervous, insecure 16 year-olds whose hormones hadn't yet quite overcome the confidence hurdle. If he'd have kissed me, I probably would have gotten nauseous bordering on vomiting. Trust me, that's what happened when I did kiss a boy that Fall. So, all things considered, I suppose things went well as they stand. He with his patch of grass, me with mine, and all the stars in the world above us, dancing around and welcoming me to their magical world.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Today several people brought their dogs to work. All of them were small, some were very cute, and all undoubtedly were quite loving and lovable. They made me think of my dog. Or, my almost-dog, as I should really refer to him. I've wanted a cute little pup for many years now (like, ten) and finally a couple of years ago I was in a position to get one. I studied up on the breed (Maltese). I researched AKC breeders. I found my little guy, named Grady, and started getting very attached.

There was one nagging detail though: my apartment. My landlord only allows cats. I didn't feel right sneaking a dog in here - even such a sweet and tiny one! - so I decided to ask him if he would make an exception for a 5 pound fluff of love. He didn't say no. Actually, he said "Emphatically NO!" at which point I unexpectedly burst into tears. It was so strange! I was overcome with sadness, losing this little guy I didn't even have yet. My landlord was thrown off too. He apologized and explained the rules again. I didn't take the opportunity to remind him that some of my neighbors have cats weighing over 30 pounds. He clearly is a dog-prejudiced man. Sympathetic or not, he stood by his rule. I hung up with him, hyperventilating.

The sadness sat with me for hours, and then a couple days, while I digested what was in my heart and head. And ladies and gentleman, the truth hit me like a pink and blue clad ton of bricks. I want a baby. Not just a baby, any baby courtesy of any man... I want it all. The man, the marriage, the baby. I want it all and I don't have it. Grady was going to be my little substitution on whom I could shower all of the love and warmth and hugs and hope almost every woman with a ripened womb has at some point. I'm thirty-six years old. I have no idea when or if this is going to happen. It aches sometimes. Usually I live a very happy, content life... completely without thinking about any of this, naturally. 'Cause when I do think about it, assuredly I feel a bit glum.

Today I thought about it a bit. Those darn dogs...

So, bearing in mind the things I can and cannot control, I swear my next apartment is going to be dog-friendly. And when I live there, I will definitely bring home my own little fluff of love. He will be beautiful, sweet, and may even lick my toes a little. Just like my ex-boyfriend. Only, better. My dog won't leave the toilet seat up, harbor a secret addiction to porn or emit noxious odors and pretend I'm the only one who's lactose intolerant. My dog will be de-lovely.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Or a Quill and Parchment

I need a laptop. I am utterly uninspired by the view here at my desktop (behind the monitor: blank white wall) and long for the tranquil, beautiful space that is my living room (on the right). Or the bright, comfy feel of my bedroom. Both places inspire great thought. Sitting here, I'm thinking it's time to take out the trash. Slightly less grand. So I've started thinking about laptops a lot, even started checking them out online, and here's where it gets tricky. For the love of God, how many freakin' permutations can there be? Here's what I want, folks. A small laptop. A cute one, preferably pink or another fun color or pattern. One with long battery life. One I can read from a distant of, say, my lap to my face without requiring reading glasses. A keyboard big enough to fit my medium sized woman hands without feeling like I'm typing on the world's biggest BlackBerry. And I think a built-in camera and microphone would be a nice way to bring myself into 2009 by allowing me to try a Skype. Don't know much about it but hear it's good for communicating with those far away, kind of like telephones were before they invented mobile phones smaller than a breadbox. Something $400-ish.

Anywho, small, cute, enduring and practical. Wait a minute - I've just described myself! If only I was as inexpensive. Well to be fair, I have considered the alternatives. I have thought about going the spiral notebook/pencil route. These come in various shades of pink, small sizes, and would be an investment of $1.98 at the 99 Cent Store. Unfortunately, my hands start cramping when I write longhand now. I type faster and more easily than I write. I've even evolved to think better typing. So the spiral notebook is probably not the winner.

Weren't there plans for every child to have a laptop? What happened to that idea? I agree with it wholeheartedly. I also believe the government should grandfather the cause, gifting each former child with a laptop. That would solve my problem completely. I would gladly accept whatever free laptop they gave me, and I could certainly spruce it up on my own. Can of pink spray paint: $4.99.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hanging With the Dlos

Years ago my mom was friend with a younger woman who used to call the old, character-y ladies she would see around the neighborhood Dlo. As in, O-L-D but D-L-O, to be nice I guess. Mom has taken to referring to herself over the years as a Dlo. She and Dad arrived yesterday for a brief visit on their way to vacation, using LA as a stopover in a long trip. As you can surmise from a previous post, my father is also a Dlo. And he opted not to go to a local barber ($15 for a cut, $20 for a fade, no senior discount) but instead was thrilled I have a buzzer so I could clean up his neck and the back of his hair.

Dad, while limber and quite willing, has probably slowed down a little bit. If I'm twenty-one, Dad remains somewhere between twenty-nine and thirty-three, contrary to what the light grey and white bits of hair that fell to the floor as I shaved his neck would indicate. Mom, on the other hand, has slowed down a lot. She is willing but no longer able to attempt the movement she used to take for granted. She can not walk for long without feeling pain in her back and legs. She used to walk all the time. Now, we sit around the living room discussing what we can do for fun that doesn't involve much mobility. She looks good, but...

It's hard to witness life speeding along so intently. It can be shocking. Certainly it's easier when you see a person every day, but when you only see him or her sporadically throughout the year, the changes are more obvious. The gait, slower. The hair, whiter. The ornery, ornerier.

I suppose the same can be said of me. I've got lines on my face that didn't show themselves ten years ago. And my back - it hurts when I've been standing or walking for a long time. Did it used to do this?

And why the hell does "Sunrise, Sunset" keep playing in my head?

We're all dying from the day we are born, as they say. I just wish knowing it wasn't sometimes so hard.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Actual email I received from my father yesterday:

Hi Jan,

We'll have time Friday morning when we're visiting you... so... Do you know of a reasonable barber with senior rates near you?

Love, Dad

I think getting old is hereditary.

Suck This, AARP

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

30 Is the New 65

I can't complain about my day. It was long, but relatively nice. Good work. Good conversation. Good food. The one blemish on my day was my, er... blemish. The big one on my chin. The one the 2nd AD pointed out, saying "You have something on your face." In hindsight, I wish I'd played along with it and walked away quickly, wiping at my chin with a napkin. It would have been easier. Instead I said "Oh, that's a zit! Thanks!" with a deadpan delivery that left him mumbling and visibly uncomfortable. Me, it was no sweat. If I decided to dig a hole and crawl into it every time I have a breakout I'd be living in China by now. He however realized he'd crossed that invisible line whereby you do not refer out loud to one other's shortcomings. I.e., "Hi Bob, nice boil on your neck. Ingrown hair?" Kind of like when I asked the hairdresser how she was feeling and acknowledged her growing baby bump only to learn she wasn't pregnant. OUCH. (See future post on "Times I've Felt Stupid.")

What's a zit here and there? They come and go like the wind, or the tides. Cyclically. Time of the month and stuff.

Oh heck, why am I beating around the bush? No need to be modest here. The truth is I look remarkably young for my age. Seventeen, I'd say. I believe this even if my driver's license tells me it is impossible but for a grand act of God. I use my occasional adult acne as evidence of my youth and this is good enough for me.

So imagine my horror when I came home to find in my mailbox a piece of mail titled "It's Time to Learn About Medicare" from the AARP. The AARP! This stands for the Altogether Aged Retired People. What on earth are they doing in my mailbox, with my name on the front??! Oh good lord. Do they not know I have a blemish on my face, not wrinkles?! I am only seventeen, if only in my heart! It is really too soon for me to think of dying a pruney, forgetful death surrounded by other anachronistic relics who undoubtedly will be sending fear into home health aides everywhere by attempting to recall The Hammer Dance. Seriously, let's save the getting old for when I get old. Let me keep my zits, you can have the wrinkles, foggy memory and fragile bones.

On second thought and some quick reconsideration, as I already have a foggy memory, I am willing to advance my inner age to twenty-one. So I'll keep my zits and foggy memory. You can have the wrinkles and sprained hip. But I will not, repeat, will not join the AARP.

I do however reserve the right to change my mind should I forget my new age and become unable to resist the benefits of AARP membership. If I can get a discount on early bird dining, it just might be worth it.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mad Mad Mad Mad Man

I'll make this short and sweet: I love Mad Men, the show on AMC that is having its 3rd season premier in about, oh, 3 minutes. Don Draper (played by the handsome and ridiculously warm and kind Jon Hamm) is what every woman would want if philandering, absent husbands were the rage. And since I am not married - and Don Draper is not real - I am going to say, screw the philandering. I'll take him.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to the Future

You know, there's a reason why God made time a linear thing. Something happens in the present, and when it's God-awful, by His very grace it is soon in the past. Of course this happens for fabulous things too, but at least those things - now called memories - we can replay all we want and enjoy them still. The God-awful crap we can pretend never happened and try to get on with our lives. Unless the past comes back to haunt us. Or you sign up for Facebook.

Both happened to me this week. Well, I signed up for Facebook a while ago. But man, did my past come back to haunt me the other day. Compared to this particular memory I assigned to the "Do Not Recall Unless Desiring an Anger Flair-up and/or Depression" file, any and all memories drudged up on Facebook are like skating. Ice skating. Scott Hamilton ice skating on new blades on freshly Zambonied ice.

I was on set one day this week talking to wardrobe when who should drive up on her motorcycle but a woman (that's a nice name for her) I worked with almost 10 years ago during what was the most painful eight month period of my life doing a national tour of a musical. This woman was the bad-guy lead in the show. Total typecasting. She's a squat, butchy woman with an artificial smile and a black soul (Muah Ha Haaa...) I feel comfortable saying she is probably the last person I'd choose to have a reunion with. But there she was, in all her stubby glory, an actor in this episode. She didn't see me, so I had time to decide what I wanted to do. I wasn't upset, more like, is this for real?? I mean, I left her in Baltimore 10 years ago! Why isn't she still there?!


Where am I now? Can her barbs still affect me the way they did then? What do I do? I took a quick assessment of myself and realized no, she can't still affect me. I'm not the same person I was then. I've lived a whole life or two since then. I am a happy and loving person, and even Cruella De Vil couldn't bring me back down to that depressed, helpless shell I left in Baltimore. I waited until I saw her at lunch and we greeted each other, I with a hug for her (insert calculating grin, here). I don't think she was expecting that. Nor was she likely expecting me to be so civil to her. I was, in fact, as friendly to her as I'd have been to a stranger, not a backstabber like her (Whoops, did I say that out loud?). The encounter went exceedingly well and I left it feeling no better or worse than I had before. In other words, despite her foray into my present, she remained in the past.

But it got me thinking, what's with the past coming up like that?? Is the world really just one big Facebook moment waiting to happen? Facebook has been a wonderful tool for reconnecting me with long disconnected high school (and college) friends. I'll concede, it's odd to catch up with a long-lost friend by reading back entries of his blog. But it's also been a powerful witness to reality. It says a lot when the friend you've known since you were twelve and who claims to always be too busy to call or email you has time to repeatedly update her status but not to drop a "Hey, Jan!! How r u? Thinking of u, luv u XXXOOO" on your wall. I'll call it my Ah ha moment. Ah ha, this was my best friend, but is not really anymore. The lightbulb comes on.

Are we really destined to have our past permanently intertwined with our present? Oh, me. Oh, simplicity. Oh, rotary dial phones, home milk delivery and radio dramas. You were so enjoyable.

I need to stop typing now. I've got a bit of candle left and I want to read today's newspaper.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

On the Subject of Cleaning Floors

The question on my brain this morning: Does it really matter if the floor is clean or not?!? What brought about this query?

I am a reformed cleanaholic. In recovery, you might say. You can't really blame me for how I used to be; I grew up in a house of cleanaholics. My house was also one of analaholics but that's for another post. We had to clean our bedrooms once a week which included dusting, vacuuming and changing the sheets (not a bad habit, I'm sure), we each had chores to do every day (among mine: sweeping the kitchen) and in the years after I left home I would find myself still in these practices... save the sheet changing - sadly, that's gotten much less frequent with the lack of my own washer and dryer. When you're fighting for dryer time and begging neighbors can they spare a quarter so you can finish your whites, you slowly feel the need for more frequent washings to slip away. Of course that makes for a painful four-load day every few weeks, but sometimes that's the lesser of evils.

Living by yourself, you become aware of the things you do because you have to versus the things you want to do. Eventually there's not much done that doesn't have to be done. This brings me to the floors. Who ever really notices their cleanliness? Isn't that what shoes are for? And yet for some reason I've noticed over the last few summer months that my feet seem to be dirtier and dirtier on the days I'm home and barefoot. Hmm. Could there be something to this? So I started thinking about cleaning my floors. Not just vacuuming the carpet; I do that often enough, actually. But most specifically, the kitchen floor in all its vinyl glory. Fortunately for me it's a dark patterned vinyl so it hides the dirt. Still, I kind of miss seeing the natural color of skin on my feet at the end of the day. A cleaning is due. Being practical though, I must wait for the right occasion. There always is an occasion for a good cleaning, isn't there? I.e., family is coming for a visit or something. In my case, an old friend - a cleanaholic herself, as I recall - is coming for a stay. I'll be horrified if she blackens her feet while getting up for a mid-night glass of water. And so today is The Day. Good Lord, give me strength. And - some rubber gloves. This promises to be a dirty event.

Does it really matter if the floor is clean or not?!?


Probably not. But my old cleanaholic self will feel better if it is.

Hi, I'm January. I'm a cleanaholic.

Hi, January. Welcome.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Me Day

Yesterday was a great day. It was a Me Day. Me Days are all about self-pleasure, guilty or otherwise. My Me Day was spent solo (the best kind of Me Day) and involved a long walk to the local mall to view not one but two recent movies I really wanted to see but never got to. Movie Me Days require a movie (or two) that you surpassingly want to see (check), lots of popcorn (check) and prime seats (check - I was the second one in the theater). My Movie Me Day was extra nice because upon asking, the nice concession stand boy gave me a free popcorn refill. Score! So movie number two got a tasty treat too.

What did I see, pray tell? 1) The Hangover. Guilty pleasure all around. Also snort-out-loud funny. 2) Harry Potter #whatever. I love Harry Potter. I was sad to realize I've really forgotten how much of the stories go - hey, it's been a while since I've read them! - but I enjoyed the story nonetheless. In fact, I enjoyed the experience altogether. In fact, I believe my favorite moment of the day came during Harry Potter when the woman next to me - also a solo viewer, also seated in that prime row of seats allowing us a foot rest on the rail ahead - shouted to Dumbledore "Stick!!" I don't think English was her first language. And I'm fairly certain his dropped wand was a major plot point. Almost as enjoyable was her breathy "RUN!" a few minutes later.

I gotta take a Me Day more often.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Jake Ryan

The recent passing of John Hughes has made so many of us reflective of that non-existent time in our lives when we were Blissful Outsider Teens. Look, there is no such thing. Any teen who is an outsider is not blissful. I should know; I was one. Or so I think. I spent my teen years and much of the rest of my youth in an insecure angst-ridden fog. This is what I remember, anyway. My account is debated by others I've run into over the years who remember me as one of the popular kids. Go figure. I guess if I was I was too insecure to know it.

But John Hughes' kids, these cinematic kids were outsiders and they knew it. But they also were rather self-assured, or at least some of them. Take Samantha in Sixteen Candles. She wasn't part of the in-crowd and she figured rightly that she had a Popsicle's chance in hell to get with the boy-man of this posting's title but she knew she had something. How else could she possible have the chutzpah to surrender her panties to a Geek she knew was worse off than her?

And while I'm thinking of it, about that boy-man... hubba hubba! He makes Zac Efron look like Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry McGuire.

Thinking back to when Sixteen Candles was released... Wait a minute, wait a minute, I can't recall that one... ah, to when The Breakfast Club was released... Hey, yeah, that's right. I wasn't old enough to see it. It was an R-rated movie. I was in elementary school. So how did these movies and others of their time get to represent my teenage experience? John Hughes did have a great gift for creating real-ish characters that you found yourself laughing at while also identifying with. Who didn't pine for the High School Hottie back in the day. Thanks to Mr. Hughes, I got to have him. Well okay, not exactly. But I got to pretend I had him, vicariously, through Samantha Baker. Insecure Cute Girl gets Knightly Boy-Man. And that is rather satisfying.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Post One

The other morning I woke up with a plethora of thoughts. Not the way cocaine might make you go go go nonstop with no pause for thought, but the way they all gracefully spring up when you're up early and hit the road before hitting a coffee. With each passing mile another one wakes, stretches and joins the symphony. Gratitude for the day. Reminder of phone calls needed to be made. Guessing who you might see that day. Awe at the colors in the rising sun. Wondering how your tenth grade crush is doing on this day in his life. You know, the usual. And as I got farther from home and closer to my destination, I wished I had a laptop (and two extra hands to man the wheel) to expunge these babies so they could take life and grow on their own somewhere other than my seemingly-at-capacity head. I feared I'd lose them if I didn't! Well in truth, I did - that morning was probably a week ago and half of what I meditated on in the car has already gone the way of pogo sticks.

I'd thought before about creating a blog for this mish-mash of thoughts. But for the love of God, do you realize how many decisions go into starting one up? Title. Title alone has taken me four days. Color and font have been the last couple of hours. (Why pink, you might ask? Because I'm a girl and I like it. And I'm entitled.) What to write about, well... that was easier, more by default than anything else. The requirement to write on any one topic would quickly feel laborious and I'm not out to create work for myself. I want the freedom to allow my thoughts full range of motion. Or maybe I'm just reluctant to commit to any one thing.

Story of my life.

But before I get too ahead of myself... A skosh about me. For the sake of this blog, my name is January. I live in Los Angeles and I work in the entertainment business. Truly nothing glam about any of it, but it is generally a lot of fun for me. Being on set beats sitting behind a desk any day.

I think that's just enough to remain within the definition of a skosh (insert grin: here).

So the other morning, the one with the exploding thoughts that may or may not have been facilitated by the lack of caffeine, this is the sunrise that left me in awe. Try to imagine the pinks slightly more vibrant; the clouds, whispier; the mountains holding the last tint of darkness that would come until another day was finished. An iPhone can only do so much.

See? Many thoughts. Totally blessed. Happy, if not occasionally frustrated. And so much to share.