Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Snuffing the Rooster

About seven years ago, Boston Market closed its doors in our neighborhood and much to our extreme disappointment, the empty building sits on the Ave, slathered in graffiti, with its ever-recognizable brown/white/red Boston Market awning still affixed.

Months after the closure, Payday Loans took the space next door and then a brand-new little shack was built on the northeast corner of the parking lot which soon became "Rooster Espresso".

My husband was furious at the sight of the Rooster...of course, though, not mad enough to take any kind of stand at the Chamber of Commerce when the Rooster's zoning permit was up for approval; but angry at the gaudiness of it espresso stand? It was just what our already caffeine-addicted community needed, what with Starbucks, Seattles Best Coffee and Tully's all only within a two minute walk of the Rooster.

I sided with him at first, given that the name "Rooster" immediately conjured up David Sedaris' redneck kid brother and never thought once about stopping at the Rooster for a quick cupa. I firmly admit I'm a chain freak--always have been. So I was always quite comfortable with my Starbucks fix anyway.

We are both coffee addicts, though we hate to say so. The smell alone has a pheromone-like attraction and it's one of the first things I reach for in the morning.

When we were both self-employed, our daily routine was to walk down to one of our local coffee places (non-chain...and quite possibly the best in our town) for our morning fix. A year later, we discovered that both of us working from home was deadly: first off, we BOTH paid 30% self-employment tax and secondly, over a year's time, our morning fix cost us a whopping $1,500...not to mention our morning fix was giving us midday angst and soon we would have wound up homeless, jobless AND spouseless if we didn't do anything about it.

So we invested in an espresso machine at home...and now, the morning routine is to lie in bed and listen for the other person to finish pulling a shot in the kitchen. We can't wait until our son is old enough for barista training.

Being a mom to a toddler, I've tried almost everything except pure uppers to keep up with my son's energy levels; but by midday, I'm wiped out...feeling like I've done battle with twelve angry elves. Oftentimes, when I know I won't make it through the morning without a second latte, I stop somewhere en-route to the playground or community center so I can get another refueling. It isn't easy, though, to walk into a coffee place with a toddler in tow. Everything sweet-related is strategically-placed at tot-level and so the battle for "GIMMIE" begins the moment we set foot in the store. So naturally when another mom recommended coffee drive-thrus to me, I was all for it.

I racked my brain this morning as I pulled out of my driveway, wondering where the nearest drive thru espresso stand would be...and then it dawned on me...The Rooster!

And you know? It wasn't half bad. I mean sure, paying three bucks for a latte still stings--especially when I could easily pull another double shot at home. But there's something about holding a papercup with a plastic lid that's as comforting as the oral fixation that goes along with smoking, in addition to the social aspect of going and "getting coffee"--even if it's handed to you while you're still in your car.

We often wondered why the Rooster continued to stay in business after so many years and now I know may not be the best coffee in town; nor maybe not the first choice among pedestrians. But to exhausted women who drive multi-passenger vehicles with small children among the multi-passengers, long live the Rooster.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

One of the hardest things a writer faces is rejection.

One would think that after fifteen years of getting up in front of clients to present the "next best ad campaign" only to have it shot down because the client hated the color yellow on the storyboard (totally irrelevant), or he thinks you want to shoot on location in Bora Bora for vacation I'd have built up some sort of scar tissue or something that prevents me from taking rejection so personally.

I'm afraid that's not the case. Sure I can go back to the drawingboard and rewrite a piece based on the editor's feedback...Sure I can take pride in the fact that the piece in question was actually accepted elsewhere...

But it still sucks.

I know I'm not alone in the writing world where once a piece gets rejected, the writer tends to examine his or her strengths and weaknesses. As the thoughts swirl in my head (should I just hang it up? Should I continue to keep plowing away, comforted by the fact that everyone gets material rejected?) I'll just sit here, drink my lavender tea and kvetch about it until I've mustered enough courage to jump in with both feet and resume playing the game.

Writing a novel is so much easier than writing nonfiction pieces or short stories. It's like being in a womb for nine months because it's warm and comfortable and it's just "you" one else around to bother you or tell you what to do or tell you what you should be doing different; and the best part? So long as you haven't promised the book to anyone or are under contract, you can take as long as you like to finish the book...whereas, once you finish the shorter piece, you feel compelled to send it out for submission; or maybe you've written the piece under a prearranged agreement. In that case, feedback is inevitable...and it's either good or it's bad.

But I suppose if I never sent out my pieces for submission, I'd never know my potential or my limitations. So I think I'd rather run the risk of getting rejected than to live my life never trying.

"There is no failure except in no longer trying."

~Elbert Hubbard~

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

A few weeks ago, I saw The Mayor of the Sunset Strip -- a movie about longtime LA radio personality Rodney Bingenheimer. The film was produced by Chris Carter, formerly of Dramarama--one of the many bands who garnered tremendous exposure nationally with the help of Rodney.

The documentary transported me back in time, not only because Rodney was such a large part of the LA-culture during my teens, but also because he and I share a similar silly fondness over celebrities, though he's lapped me thousands of times over in terms of who he's met. And though I'd known about his star-connections, his "English-Disco" and his bit part as Davy Jones' double in the Monkees' "Prince and the Pauper" episode, I learned quite a bit more about him from the film.

When Rodney was a teen, he began his life in Hollywood when his mom drove him from northern California to Connie Stevens' house. Being a celebrity-buff herself, she told him to knock on the door to get an autograph, and then she took off, leaving him on Connie Stevens' doorstep with nothing but a suitcase. So he walked to the Sunset Strip and hasn't left since.

Rodney is neither handsome nor particularly talented; but when he was younger, he had a cute puppy dog-like quality that made him a chick magnet. Pretty soon, women like Pamela Des Barres and Cher were looking after him like a little brother. And because he always had a flock of beautiful young women tending to him, he was always accepted by rock 'n rollers.

I met Rodney for the first time in 1987 at an aftershow party for Duran Duran at the Lhasa Club. He was about a half foot shorter than me and his handshake was very timid; yet I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Susannah Hoffs fawning over him; or Nick Rhodes paying homage. It just seemed so strange to see such a little guy have such an enormous presence.

Yet that's how it was whenever I saw him. We traveled in similar circles for a brief time in history since I interned at Capitol Records and became friends with some of the KROQ jocks, including my former boyfriend, (Dr.) Drew. At the last "Loveline" show in the old studio in Pasadena, Rodney milled around with his "good friend" (everyone is Rodney's "good friend") Eve Plumb and I could see why the two hit it off so well...they were clearly recognizable but not someone you were really clamoring to meet.

Part of me is a little envious...because in a way this little guy represents the little star-struck girl in me, only he gets to hang out with all of the pretty people I'd wanna hang out with too! But the movie also made me feel incredibly sad because they'd show rooms full of celebrities who just kinda smiled and patted Rodney on the head like he was the tolken pet of the party. And at the end of the day, no matter how many people he knew, he was still incredibly lonely; and that is why dubbing Rodney Mayor of the Sunset Strip is apropos.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Every year around my birthday, my body reminds me of my mortality. Some years it's a few more gray hairs or a few more lines around my eyes and mouth; but this year, I received the mother of all aging symptoms: a late period.

You have to understand, this never happened to me before in my life...well, once, when I was pregnant; but any other time, my menstrual cycles have been 28 days--almost to the hour. Synthetic hormones couldn't even suppress ol' Aunt Flo regardless how much progesterone I shot through my veins every month. Sure I felt like a Foster Farms chicken but by god I never missed a period.

I have reason to believe I threw myself into early peri-menopause because I forced my body to ovulate through the use of synthetic hormones...and not to produce just one egg a month either, mind you...I really WAS a Foster Farms chicken producing nearly 20 mature eggs with each fertility treatment I suffered through. We women are born with as many eggs as we will produce in our lifetime. I'm sure my reserve is nearly tapped dry by now.

Last year, I began to suffer through a series of premenopausal symptoms: the hot flashes; the heavier periods; the heightened PMS; the sleepless nights; you name it. Clinically, this is what happens to most women who hit their mid-30s and it could last anywhere from 6-15 years until full-blown menopause sinks in.

So my doctor suggested I go back on the pill to regulate my cycles and ease these symptoms, though what she neglected to recall was the initial reason I went off the pill five years ago. I had the most intense migraines which basically put me at risk of stroke--and given my family's wonderful medical history (read: sister dead at 40 of a heart attack), I decided to seek a second opinion from a naturopath.

Of course the minute I told the naturopath my peri-menopause diagnoses, she replied, "That's bullshit, you're too young to be going through that." She prescribed me four types of vitamins along with a tablespoon of ground flax seed every morning to get rid of the symptoms.

The results? I no longer have hot flashes, thank God, and I can sleep through the night. My periods are still pretty heavy, though...which totally grosses me out beyond belief and they also hurt like hell (which has always been the case), so I'm hoping that too will diminish over time.

During those first few days of my cycle, I often wonder why I put myself through this ordeal. Why not use another form of birth control to regulate my cycles? Why not opt for a hysterectomy? It's simple, really. To me, these are not options. My husband and I have a 1% chance of getting pregnant over the course of my reproductive years. Why ruin that chance? Given that we just adopted our first child in January, we're not actively trying to have a child---but when a couple is as infertile as we are, you're always actively trying to have a child. It's kinda like being addicted to the lottery and buying a ticket once a week for the rest of your life. You may never win the lottery, but your chances are still good so long as you keep playing.

So you can imagine my bewilderment when, after day 30 hit, my "monthly bill" never came. I spent most of that day wondering if I should run out and buy an EPT or call my naturopath and ask her what in the hell was wrong. It was the same type of rollercoaster ride I put myself on four years ago and jumped off of, vowing never to return after spending close to $30,000, putting on 40 pounds and having a miscarriage. Lucky for me, though, this ride was a short one...and as the evening wore on, the cramping started and I was back to day one.

Incidentally, that same week I had just a shred of hope...and an equal shred of disappointment, I learned of two dear friends who got pregnant. Two years ago, the news would have crushed me. Now I'm hoping to host their showers.
I'll be ok if I never give birth to a child and I realize this every time I look at my son (I know my husband and I can't do any better than that!!) But kidding aside, I resolved my infertility issues two years ago when I actively called it quits. We could have kept trying...and probably could have succeeded finally (my gosh look at Courtney Cox, who I believe has done something like 6-7 IVF cycles) or...since the problem doesn't lie with me but with my life partner, I could have decided that carrying a child for nine months was much more important than staying married to him.

In the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to defy the aging process...or at least try and reverse some of the damage I've done.