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.