Friday, June 29, 2012

Freedom

I never thought I would write such a sentence, but:
There's something very freeing about having nobody read what I write.

Honestly.

I like writing; I like drawing; I like posting; but there's something about having others see it and the judgment of it all. I want the judgment, but I don't. And there's also something oppressive about trying to make a living out of it. Like you have to be careful with your words.

Of course, we all know that we should always be careful with our words. Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can be magic. Words can cause wars. Words can do great thing$. Just ask J.K. Rowling, Stephen King or Jay-Z.

But still, there's that balance. That balance between:
being honest and true and saying something in a way that only you can say it
and
making sure your thoughts are being communicated effectively.

Maybe for the truly talented, they just write what they write and it all comes out just fine.

But for me, it has not gone well. I know I have had toads come out of my mouth. I have written tripe. I have written emails to loved ones that convey the exact opposite of my intended meaning. I have bored people. Offended people. Misled people. Have had people move away from me as quickly as they can. All unknowingly. All with the best intentions.

But here, it doesn't matter. And oddly enough, by not caring, I think I'm finding much better words to express myself. And if not, who cares? No one! Because no one's reading this!

So Yay for the blogging and the internet!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Bone Fairy

I don't want to alarm you, but the bone tip of the fourth toe of my left foot may soon disappear.

As you may know by now, I recently had a horrible and debilitating bone injury. BTW, thank you all for your cards and flowers and well-wishes - THAT I NEVER RECEIVED. But as you may also know by now, I'm not a complainer.

But still.

I went to the podiatrist today. She took an x-ray. And it looks like the tip of that toe bone may soon just disappear.

You see, what sometimes happens - or so my podiatrist claims - when a bone tip gets separated like it does when you drop a 20 pound weight on it, is that it will either fuse back to the main bone OR just sorta fade away.

I immediately started to think of that proverbial tooth in a glass full of Coke. Or a tablet of Alka-Seltzer in a glass of water. Only, this is PART OF MY SKELETAL SYSTEM she's talking about.

I'm not sure why I find this so upsetting. It's not like I use that tiny little bit of bone for anything. And it doesn't really hurt.

When we are kids, the Tooth Fairy brings us money for our baby teeth, which are also part of our skeletal system. But teeth grow back. Until you get old, and then they start falling out. And then no one brings you anything, except the mailman who brings you dental bills.

Which is why I guess I'm freaking out. It's about getting old. Fading away. Disintegrating into the universe before my time. I'm mad at myself for not being more careful. Mad at my wonderful podiatrist for not being able to magically make me whole. Mad at that frickin' Tooth Fairy for filling me full of false hope and optimism when I was so young an impressionable.

And then I think of all our vets who lost limbs in the war. Young men and women. Trying to do something good for their families, our country, for the world. How they must feel. How hard life really can be. And then I think of all the other people in the world who have real problems.

And then I realize I don't know anything.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nursery

I know I'm late to the whole Time-magazine-cover-with-the-woman-breastfeeding-what-looks-like-a-10-year-old-kid debate, but...

I recently had a not unrelated encounter that made me wonder a bit.

It involved my podiatrist's office. And let me state right now that I love my podiatrist. I think she's awesome. I've had three unrelated accidents involving my left foot in the past few months, and having a great podiatrist has been a life-saver.

And I really like her receptionist too. But. Well, let's call the receptionist Mary and the podiatrist Dr. Foot.

So the first time I go into Dr. Foot's office, Mary is breastfeeding her infant as she sits behind the counter. It was awkward. I mean, I know it's natural and healthy, but so is taking a pee. You really have to do it right there? Okay. Fine. Whatever.

So I don't know where to look. But I stumble through it. And Mary is very sweet. And the baby is adorable. And Dr. Foot is very smart, very non-rushed, very granola-y, and I love all that. So this is part of all that. I get it. I even gave Mary a children's book I wrote/drew that has lots of big, bright pictures that I think the kid will like, and she's grateful. Yay.

And the next time when I'm in the office and Mary is breastfeeding, I know where to sit so I'm not in her line of sight. So it's all good.

Oh, and even when she's not breastfeeding, the baby's crib is right there in the receptionist's area. But the baby is very quiet and Mary is pretty good at multi-tasking, so it's still all good.

But this last time I go in, and I need another x-ray. And as Mary goes to develop the slide, she wheels the baby into the exam room so that Dr. Foot can watch the baby. But then Dr. Foot has to go do something, and she leaves the baby - a five (?) month infant - with me.

Which is very complimentary. But WTF?

Now, it just so happens, I'm pretty good with kids. But Dr. Foot and Mary don't know that. I mean, I'm alone with this kid for about 10 minutes. Really? Yes, really.

Okay. Fine. I had a copy of my book on my iPhone and I was reading to him and showing him the pictures and it was all good.

But then I had to call Dr. Foot the other day. I'd had an incident with my toe the previous night - where it hurt pretty badly, and I wanted to make sure it wasn't a blood clot or something that might be serious. And so I needed to explain it to Mary, who had answered the phone. And here's the thing: you know how someone whispers and tries to rush you off the phone when a baby is sleeping? Well, that's what it was like.

And I'm thinking to myself, Oh, I better make it quick and not talk loudly, I don't want to disturb the baby.

And then I'm thinking to myself, WTF!? I'm a patient with an injured toe and might need medical attention!

Now, I know you're all probably deathly worried about my toe - and don't worry, it's fine.

But still. I'm not sure how I feel about all of this yet. Women have been working in the fields and everywhere else with their kids on their backs or at their sides for centuries. I'm guessing this issue's not going to go away soon.

But still, it did make me wonder.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Where Does My Time Go?

Sunday
2:00 - 7:00 pm
Discover there's no sound on our tv and the Blu-ray player will not play.
Spend five hours on the phone with two different DirecTV "tech support" guys, and doing trouble-shooting on my own.
First DirecTV guy speaks intelligibly and tries to be helpful.
Second one - Still have no idea what he said.
Prognosis: negative.
Resolution: to wait until the next day, when our "free" trial of Showtime is over, and the malware they interlaced with our satellite signal is gone.


Monday
7:00 - 8:30 am
Still no sound on the tv.
Spend one hour on the phone trying to convince DirecTV representative to let me speak to her supervisor, who clearly does not want to speak to me.
During that time she also offers helpful information that turns out to be amusingly wrong.
Spend a half hour speaking with supervisor, who lies to us, but in a friendly, respectful way. Am appreciative for the effort.
Resolution: DirecTV to send out a new receiver via FedEx. We will lose all the recorded programs that we've paid for, but there's nothing they can do, sorry. Receiver should arrive Wednesday.

12:15 pm
Decide to unplug tv and receiver again. This time I'll leave it unplugged for a half hour; maybe it'll cool down and reset itself and maybe Showtime malware is now really, really gone.

12:45 pm
Replug the tv and receiver, then go into kitchen to unload dishwasher while praying to God.

12:50 pm
Hear noises from another part of the house and wonder what the hell that is. Walk into den to see/hear that tv now works. Praise God and promise to watch tv more responsibly from now on. And to be a better person.

12:55 pm
Call DirecTV to see if I can cancel shipment of the new receiver. Good news! I can. Shipment cancelled.


Tuesday
5:50 pm
New DirecTV receiver arrives. (was never cancelled - surprise!)

6:00 pm
Call DirecTV to report and find out easiest way to return receiver. Am told I must return to FedEx site in person; that they cannot pick up from the house.


Wednesday
5:00 am
Wake up extra-early and go to gym early near FedEx center so that I can do physical therapy for broken foot (no, I had not kicked the DirecTV receiver. I had dropped a dumbbell on the foot a few weeks earlier).

8:30 am
Discover $52 parking ticket for parking near gym on the side of the street that had street cleaning that morning. Hooray!

9:01 am
Arrive at FedEx center. Am told they cannot accept the package there; that I must set up a pick-up time for next day (8 am - 8 pm) and return home to wait.


Thursday
2:00 pm
FedEx guy arrives and picks up DirecTV receiver. He's very pleasant and gladly gives us a receipt, so that when DirecTV charges us for the receiver that they'll claim they never received back (like they did last time), we have evidence.

2:15 pm
Take nap.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Appraisal

So we're refinancing our home mortgage, and as a part of that process, they send out an appraiser. This person will inspect our home, decide how much it's worth, and then the new loan will get processed. Nothing to give a second thought to. Right?

So why was I getting all defensive when one of the appraisers made a casual comment about how our views would be even better if there weren't so many trees?

Did I suddenly become one of those people who think their house is beyond reproach? Was I now concerned about the environment in a new and committed way? Was I a latent tree-sexual?

We'd had appraisals before: The appraiser comes; I sorta follow him around the house casually with my smart phone in hand (I've read enough blogs to know there're a lot of kooks in the world); the appraiser leaves; the appraisal is what it is, and we get the new loan.

This time it was a man-woman team. He seemed to be the old hat. She seemed to be the dewey-eyed newbie. There was a little chit-chat among us: I offered water/juice, they declined, etc. He gave her instructions on how to use a tape measure. She took it in with great interest. He stomped confidently from room to room. She sneaked peeks into our messy closets. Typical stuff.

And then there was the comment about the trees.

It was the man who made it. I immediately took umbrage, (but totally hid it!) saying how I liked the trees. How they acted as sound buffers and cooled the hot L.A. air. I then mentioned how you could still see the Hollywood sign from our front porch through those trees. I then went on about a nearby park. How I was against it at first. The woman asked me why. I had great and informed opinions about the homeless, drug users, and parking issues, and how my fears were proven unfounded and how lovely and family-friendly the park now was. And how The People loved walking around our tree-lined reservoir, which was right across the street from us. (Did you see the view of it from the living room, dining room and both bedrooms?) And what a great neighborhood this was with its mixture of hipster families and culturally diversity and young artists and urban business districts and green spaces and homes with lawns and trees.

Who was this person speaking? I hate our neighborhood, trees and all.

I hate the posers who sit in Starbucks, staring at their never-to-be-produced songs/stories/screenplays. I hate the tattooed parents who use their  baby-strollers as battering rams in the local Trader Joe's (and all the disillusioned, dull-witted staff there). I hate the entitled dog owners who feel they don't have to clean up after their mutts. I hate the wannabe gangstas who park in front of our house, car stereos blasting, while they stretch before they run around the reservoir. I hate the lack of community on our block. I hate the "art" that pops up on walls, making an ugly building even uglier. I hate the over-priced taco joints called Tapas Bars and all the other pretentious, over-praised restaurants. I hate the leather daddies winking at the young latino clerks in Gelsons. I hate, I hate, I hate...!

And yet.

There I was, like a Century 21 agent, trying to make the sale, close the deal, get the commission.

Could it be I don't hate it here as much as I pretend to? I've been giving it a lot of thought lately. I still don't know.

But as Jimmy Page once sang, "It makes me wonder." As I sit, overlooking the tree-lined reservoir from my living room.

Monday, June 18, 2012

5 Reasons I Have For Not Blog-Posting

1. A twenty pound dumbbell fell on my foot and broke it.
     Well, it actually fractured my 4th toe. But still, it hurts. And it's still bruised. And it still requires a surprisingly large amount of care-taking (bandage redone twice a day with all the cleaning and anti-bacterial related stuff, keeping it elevated; icing, heating, cocktail-drinking etc). It's exhausting. Even though a few years ago I was the care-taker for my mom, who had ovarian cancer, I honestly don't know how people with real problems get through the day. Where is Mother Teresa when you need her?

2. Our DirecTV broke.
    We have no sound and it won't let us play our Blu-ray dvds. I've spent hours on the phone with the good folks at DirecTV, "trouble-shooting," waiting, re-explaining, trying to talk to supervisors, talking to a supervisor, reasoning, threatening, name-taking, etc.
     It's times like these I wish I were heavy into booze or drugs.

3. I'm writing a Best-Selling Novel.
     The world doesn't know it yet, but I'm re-starting a story I've been working on for the past 20 years. And this time I'm really serious. Really. This time is different. This book is going to change the world. And my life. So you can see how I could hardly be expected to write a blog as well, when I'm spending most of my day thinking about how Important my new book will be.

4. The dog next door won't stop barking.
     Actually, it only barks at night. When its owner puts it outside so that the local coyotes can be tantalized by its smell. So it barks. And the coyotes howl. And its owner is passed out on the couch, drunk, and then hostile when we call her at 1:00 a.m. And it's all very exciting. Except that we can't get any sleep at night. So during the day, I can't focus.

5. I'm not a complainer.
     Look, normally I like to keep all my Job-esque hardships to myself. Who wants to read someone whine about the petty b.s. that makes up his life? No one. Which happens to be the exact demographic for this blog.
     Still. Since I really don't have anything useful to write about, I really don't see a need to post. So I'll just end here.
     And suffer in silence.
     ::sigh::

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dear Alli,

Thanks for your comment the other day! I was really surprised to see it, since no one really reads this blog besides you and Marinka. So I decided to thank you in a post. The added benefit to this is that there's one less post for me to write now.

You see, Alli, as late as it is in the blogging game, I still don't really understand the blogging world, and I'm still not sure I belong here. Plus, I'm super-shy, so I really don't know the correct etiquette when it comes to acknowledging comments or not.

On the one hand, I want to be part of a larger world and be connected to really great people who share my sensibilities and all that. And blogging seems to be a way to do that.

On the other hand, I'm at that age (old) when I'm starting to pare down friendships. So this little voice inside my head (or one of them, at least) starts saying, "What are you doing, making new friends?! You don't even spend enough time with the ones you have!"

And even though I'm on FaceBook, I break into a cold sweat every time I log on there. I never know if I'm insulting someone or not by Liking or Poking or Adding To Calendar or Commenting... or not. It's exhausting.

And I'm not young and tough enough to just be all glib and be all, "Oh, it's just the internet. Whatevs."

So I looked at your blog - the one about math teaching - and I used teach high school Algebra for bit - so it looked really good - but then I started to worry, "I can't take on reading another blog! I barely have time to read my phone bill. Alli is going to be so pissed at me, and that karma is bound to bounce back to me! What am I going to do?" (besides go on stronger medication)

So, what I think I'll do for now is to just thank you for your comment. And thank you for stopping by my blog. And maybe take a nap.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Reading Disorder

Does this ever happen to you? You're reading something fairly quickly - like on a web page - and out of the corner of your eye, you see some words in the sidebar and you misread it.

Like I keep seeing "Men In Black III" - and I see the "Men In" part, but then I skim through "Black III", only seeing the B the k and the I, and my mind puts it together as Bikini. 

And then I think "Men In Bikini"? THAT doesn't make any sense. It must be "Men in Bikinis" (with an s at the end), which technically makes sense, but is certainly not the title of any movie that most people would want to see. Especially if Tommy Lee Jones is the lead. (Although there is a lot of buzz for Magic Mike, a movie about male strippers, directed by Academy Award winner and film visionary, Steven Soderbergh. WTF is going on there?)

Anywho, (or Anyhoo, as my friend, Marinka, likes to write), I think the bigger point here is that as we get busier and busier, reading more and watching more media, I think we become sloppy in what we think we perceive. Or at least I do. And if I do it, certainly you must do it as well. No? 

"Man Loves Wife" becomes "Man Leaves Wife". "Obama-Biden Make Comeback" becomes "Osama-BinLaden May Come Back". "Gay Marriage Legal" becomes "Gay Marriage Lethal."

So I'm going to try to slow down a little for now. And try to undermine the senses I read.  I mean, understand the sentences I read.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

10 Entities To Blame For Me Dropping A 20-Pound Weight On My Foot

This morning at the gym I dropped a 20-pound dumbbell (appropriately named) on my foot. And I am furious. Mostly at myself. For a lot of reasons. But mainly because I wear these "five-fingers" running shoes to the gym, and these shoes offer no protection from these kinds of accidents. Now, having dropped a 5 pound weight on my foot last October, which cause me great pain and setback, you might think I would have learned my lesson and switched back to an athletic shoe that does offer protection. But if you thought that, you'd be wrong. But in the great tradition of American Politics, I'm looking to blame others for my own stupidity. So here goes:

1. My Dental Hygienist, Jacob
     I had an 8:00 a.m. appointment with him this morning to get my teeth cleaned, so I had to get up extra early to go to the gym before then. Yes, I could have taken the day off from working out, but I didn't want to head to the dental office in the middle of L.A. Morning Rush Hour. So my strategy was to get up early, work out at a gym near the dental office, go for my semi-annual teeth cleaning, then spend the rest of my day doing happy and productive things. Thanks a lot, Jacob.

2. L.A. Traffic
     Everything I do can be blamed on L.A. Traffic, since I have to plan everything I do every day around it. (see above.)

3. My Friend, Peggy
     I had suggested we go to lunch on Monday, but she couldn't go until Tuesday, and that set my work-out schedule back one day. So if it weren't for Peggy, I would have done an aerobic workout today, not one with weights, and hence, I wouldn't have dropped the weight on my foot. Thanks, Peggy.

4. The Guy Who Gave Me The Evil Eye For Using "His" Cable Handles
     People at the gym have funny habits. "Funny" as in "insane." One of these habits is the practice of "using" multiple machines and weights in multiple places. For example, they'll do a set of bench presses, then go do a set of curls on the weight-cables, then go do a set of pull-ups, then come back to bench press. Sometimes (or not) they'll leave a little memento of themselves, like a towel or a water bottle, near each station to indicate that no one else in the gym is to use that piece of equipment until they are done with it. And you, as a fellow gym member, need to divine this information or risk their wrath.
     So this morning, I saw that no one was using the cable handles, so I used them on the vertical pull for one set, but when I went to put them back, some guy was having a conniption fit because he had been "using" those cable handles and who had taken them?! When I calmly handed them back to him, instead of getting a "Why, thank-you for your courtesy, fellow gym member!" I got the evil eye from him. It totally messed up my karma.

5. The Vibram People
     They're the ones who make these stupid "Five-Finger" shoes. It would kill them to put a little padding on the top of them?

6. My Domestic Partner
    Because I blame him for everything.

7. All The Gym Members Who Do Not Re-rack Their Own Weights
     If the 20-pound weights had been in their appropriate place - on the weight rack - I would have done my set there, and wouldn't have had to use a gym bench, where they fell off.

8. L.A. Fitness
     If they actually had any employees who cared about the gym, someone would have returned the weights to their proper place when the members didn't. And then... (see above).

9. 24-Hour Fitness
     I have a membership at this gym as well, and I actually prefer doing my weight-lifting there. But their showers are awful, if you can get one at all. And I need to shower after I work out, especially before going to have someone work on my mouth. So I did not go to the 24-Hour Fitness. But if I had, like I'd wanted to, I wouldn't have placed that dumbbell on the bench and it wouldn't have dropped on my foot.

10. God
     Why me, God?! Why me?!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

10 Things I Hate About My New iPad

I know I'm sounding like a Grumpy Old Fag, but my life has NOT become "magical" since I've bought my New iPad. In fact, the dang thing keeps frustrating me. But like a bad boyfriend, I keep giving it another chance. And like a bad boyfriend, it keeps letting me down. Not that I've been keeping a list-- but I have. Here it is:

1. The keyboard sucks.
     It just doesn't work well if you want to, you know, type. Maybe I just don't have that magic touch yet. But the typing definitely lags about one word behind. That is, while you're typing your next word, the screen is still showing the word you typed three seconds ago. Like I'm not confused enough. And yes, I know you can get a bluetooth keyboard for it. But then, what's the point? You might as well just get a laptop instead and lug that around with you all day. 

2. You can't draw on it. 
     The stylus just doesn't work with the touch technology yet. And don't show me all those awesome drawings by all those awesome artists who've figured out ways to do it. Yes, some dudes can swallow fire. The rest of us get burnt.

3. It doesn't work well with Google products.
     Whether it's gmail or Blogger or Documents or anything, it does all types of weird crap when I try to work within these systems.

4. It doesn't work well with Adobe and MS products.
     I've tried different apps. But there's always something funky going on. If Apple's secret plot is to get us to use only their products, then why don't they create visual and document apps that people actually want to use?

5. The Cellular Data plans suck.
     I went through 2GB in about two hours going through emails. No videos. No games. No nothing. It's not enough that you spend $1000 on the device? Now you have to spend an extra $80 a month to get any type of decent data plan?

6. You can't watch DVDs on it.

7. You can't watch Amazon Prime videos on it.

8. You gotta be careful where you touch it.
     You might think you're going to scroll up that screen, but oops, the end of your adult-sized index finger just touched that ad, and now your screen is frozen.

9. iCloud does what it wants.
     Can the people at Apple call the people at Dropbox and maybe work something out?

10. Nothing works as well on it as it does on a regular laptop or desktop.
     Let's just be honest. Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Amazon - anything that any normal person uses just works better on a laptop or desktop. There's always some weird stuff going on the scaled-down iPad version. And I wish we would all stop pretending.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

10 Reasons I’ve Decided to Start Blogging Again


1. I’m no good at it. But who cares?
2. Nobody's reading it. (see #1 above)
3. I don’t like doing it. But I sorta do.
4. It takes too much time. So I'll just not spend that much time on it.
5. My life's not that interesting. But that doesn't stop others.
6. I've got nothing to say. But that doesn't stop anyone.
7. Do I really need any other reasons?

I know these hurdles haven’t stopped millions of others from blogging or posting on Facebook, and since no one is reading this, why not?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

10 Reasons I’ve Decided to Stop Blogging

1. I’m no good at it.
2. Nobody's reading it. (see #1 above)
3. I don’t like doing it.
4. It takes too much time.
5. My life's not that interesting.
6. I've got nothing to say.
7. Do I really need any other reasons?

I know these hurdles haven’t stopped millions of others from blogging or posting on Facebook, but for me, it’s enough.