Saturday, February 19, 2005

Goin' Back to Cali...

Next week we are finally taking Mr. Na to California. I haven't been back since my darling husband whisked me away for my 35th birthday, where my friends threw me a surprise party two years ago. So, needless to say, it's a trip that's long overdue. I'm especially excited that some of my friends will be meeting Mr. Na for the first time.

I'll admit, though, it's gonna be kind of weird toting a kid around in a place where I lived out my suburban teenage angst, and it's not like I'll be able to visit some of my old haunts. But then again, most of my friends also have kids, so we're all in a different place right now in our lives.

So for now, I guess I'll just have to reminisce about some of my favorite watering holes.

My friends and I had a circuit of bars and clubs we frequented, including Boardners, where Mary and I once danced on tables while Slim Jim Phantom (formerly of the Stray Cats) watched from the next booth. Boardners was my neighborhood bar when I lived on Kingsley, above Hollywood Boulevard in 1987. The bartender there had a special concoction called "Lesbian Stewardesses On Mars" and we'd order a pint of it for $10 and it was guaranteed to fuck anyone up.

Long before Swingers, we were regulars at The Dresden Room for martinis and Marty and Elayne, who perform "Muskrat Love" better than the Captain and Tenille. (Elayne does such an amazing and convincing muskrat).

If we were really drunk, we'd go toThe Formosa Cafe, fondly known as "The Toilet". It's just one of those places where you ask yourself, "why did we come here again?"

For an irish coffee nightcap, we'd end up at Tom Bergin's where we once saw Julia Roberts, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Philips and Jon Bon Jovi throwing back a few (can you tell which movie they had just made together?)

Since we were creatures of habit, we never quite felt right to deviate from the norm. So we'd try The Cat and the Fiddle (watering hole for every single A&R rep in Hollywood) or The Three of Clubs--but somehow our night would always end early and we'd be left wondering why we dared venture off our tried and true path.

All things change, and that much I've learned -- especially in Los Angeles where nothing is sacred. Even though I won't be bar hopping this trip, I'm looking forward to it in an entirely different way.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Le Freaks Next Door

I really hate our new neighbors.

They moved in last July when our old neighbors, who were actually very nice, decided to move instead of putting in an awful lot of money to add a bathroom upstairs. That's the problem with these old Craftsman a family of four or more manages to survive with one bathroom simply amazes me.

Anyway, when our old neighbors left, they told us that they had put together a little scrapbook about several of our neighbors: things like who has kids, who's single, etc. I thought that was kinda cute. I figured it was a nice ice breaker for the new people and a helpful tool at "pre-introductions".

I'm not the type of person who delivers homemade preserves on my new neighbors' doorstep or anything like that, but I smile and wave to people as I see them. So when I smiled and waved to our new neighbors, the woman simply scowled at me. I thought at first maybe I was mistaken, so I didn't take it personally. I figured, "whatever." It happened again last weekend at Starbucks. I was having coffee with a friend and they sat down at the table next to us. As soon as she saw me, she gave me her death gaze and I was just mortified.

To add insult to injury, the woman works during the day and the man works at night. I now know when the man wakes up (3:00 p.m. or so) because he plays the stereo FULL BLAST, and this is right at the same time Mr. Na goes down for his nap. Thankfully, my kiddo's windows don't face our neighbors' house.

However, this is the same time that I try and write or read. So regardless if I go up to my bedroom, or work in my husband's office or in the den, I can't escape this guy's loud music, and it's agonizing. Right now, he's in a disco I've heard everything from "You Sexy Thing" to "Freak Out!" and "I Want Your Love". I'm waiting for him to break out his Saturday Night Fever CD and then I'm going to go insane.

There's nothing I can do about this. I mean, it is the middle of the day, so it's not like I can go over there and ask him to turn it down; and honestly, if it was our former neighbors, I wouldn't feel nearly as put out as I am now. But because the woman throws me dirty looks every time I see her, I can't help but think about what horrible people live next to me. There's nothing I can do about the fact that she scowls at me either. I have to remember to give her one of my ultra-cheesy, fake smiles next time she lobs one over my way. "Kill her with kindness," Mr. Na's Pa says. No. I think instead I'll kill her with cheese. And on Monday morning, around 8:45 a.m., I'll be sure and crank up Barney.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Saga Continues...

Today I learned that, even though the old lady hit my car last week, I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY DEDUCTIBLE until her fucking insurance company complies and pays the claim, even though the woman has already admitted guilt.


See, the problem is, her insurance agency, also known as "Good Sam" -- a division of GMAC -- can sit on their asses for 30 days before paying out a claim. They don't have to play nice if they don't want to.

You know, the $250 isn't the issue here--it's the principle of the matter. Why the hell should I fork over the cash?

I'm pissed and secretly plotting revenge. I've already called the nice lady at GMAC who is supposedly working on my claim; but she has yet to return my call. Gee, I wonder why?

Needless to say, the codeine is wearing off and I'm having a hard time writing because I'm just so unnaturally bent right now that I'm ready to snap.

I did, however, finish reading Augusten Burroughs' Magical Thinking and I'm convinced if I use my mind, both the old lady and her insurance company's claims rep will suffer the consequences. I highly recommend the book, by the way. It's good for some page turnin' laughter, I guarantee it.

Time for some more chocolate...

Friday, February 11, 2005

The Curse of the Rooster

(Note: this is neither a monkey nor a rooster)

Chinese New Year marked the end of the Year of the Monkey and began the Year of the Rooster. It also marked the day my good fortune ran out and the shit hit the fan.

I really hope that whoever said "things happen in threes" is right; if not, I'm still screwed. I had three nasty things happen to me already, and we're only--what--two days into the new year?

On Wednesday, some old lady decided to plow into my car as she parked hers in the space next to mine, rendering what was left of my rear bumper useless. She took off, too, without leaving any sort of a note.

It wasn't the end of the world--all things considered. Mr. Na and I were out of harm's way, in Safeway. I was also lucky in that a good samaritan came up to me and offered herself as a witness. So, hey, fixing the car won't cost me a dime and my insurance company can hunt down and kill the old lady.

What sucked more was coming home to a crashed hard drive. I have to thank the stars in the universe that my marriage contract includes lifetime technical support. Once my husband pried me off the wall, he assured me he could save my manuscript. The additional problems, including my 3.6 gigabytes of music, 200 photos of Mr. Na (including the ones taken in Ukraine), and ours and my mother's financial files potentially fried forever...well, I suppose life goes on, no? I have only myself to blame for not backing up my files.

Finally--and while I had been dealing with this a few weeks before the Year of the Monkey ended--I had a huge chunk of my left ear removed yesterday and now my husband is calling me Van Gogh, or "Van Goat" to be more precise. (Van Goat is a Baby Einstein character that is currently teaching Mr. Na colors.) I have ten stitches in my heavily-bandaged ear and I'm living on codeine; but thankfully the doctors believe they took all of the melanoma cells so they won't spread to my lymph nodes and kill me. My second biopsy results should leave me "in the clear" next least I hope so (and which is why I hope shit happens in threes). I guess I'm paying dearly for having spent my teenage years in southern California, without putting sunscreen on places like the tops of my ears.

This is going to be a long year, isn't it?

Monday, February 07, 2005

In the pink

So today, I caved in to mass marketing and purchased a new line of Pampers called "Feel 'N Learn". They're "advanced training" diapers designed for children to feel uncomfortable when they go in their diaper. But I've come to realize that diapers for Mr. Na's age set are actually gender specific and I find this little tidbit rather disheartening. The problem is, the diapers for boys are blue and have the Hulk or Spiderman on them, while the diapers for girls are pink and are plastered with one of the most recognizeable children's characters, Dora the Explorer.

Who decided that my child favors The Hulk or Spiderman over Dora the Explorer? And, may I ask, when the hell did my 2.5 year-old son have a chance to watch either superhero? I don't even think the old Hulk or Spiderman cartoons are on the air anymore, yet Dora the Explorer is on five times a day, five days a week on any one of the five channels within the Nickelodeon family.

I can just picture the deciding focus group who informed P&G about what's appropriate for boys and girls: some frigging NASCAR set who are too ashamed to admit their boy likes some girlie cartoon character who speaks Spanish and travels around with a monkey, for God's sake. Pshaw, I say! The girl may not be able to spin webs from her wrists, but she teaches my kid how to say "salta" instead of reinforcing the notion that it's ok to throw a temper tantrum because that's how one turns into a superhero.

I realize that this is all some clever ploy to keep my kids in diapers as long as possible, since that's beneficial to the manufacturer. Mr. Na doesn't care if he pees in his Dora pants (and yes, I got him Dora pants). He barely feels it--and, since it's not soaking his jeans, he'd much rather play with his blocks than tell me he has to go potty. I only got them because we're planning a trip to LA at the end of the month, and I would much rather put him in thinner diapers than have him pee all over himself on the airplane, or take steps backwards from weeks of training and put him back in full-fledged diapers.

So there. Take THAT P&G! And THAT NASCAR people! I'm proud to write that for a limited time only, my son is wearing PINK DORA THE EXPLORER training diapers and he likes it!

Saturday, February 05, 2005

So close, and yet so far away...

I wrote an entire chapter for my novel this week. This is a momentous announcement because it's something I haven't done in over a year. 5,044 words and 20 pages is quite an accomplishment for me. The only problem is, when I started writing about liberation, my characters refused to leave the ghetto! So, I'm giving them two weeks to clear out and to help the sick find their way to a Prague hospital before they themselves return to Germany.

I see light at the end of the tunnel. Now, if only my characters would agree.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

My husband had a screw loose.

In his head.


But he's all better now.

Back in June, he had jaw surgery to correct his underbite and alleviate his TMJ. I can't help but comment on the fact that in the seven years I've known him, he's had five or six different surgeries; but I digress.

After he extracted a piece of bone from his jaw a few weeks ago (by himself, using the stylis for his phone), he decided to go back to the doctor to make sure nothing else was wrong. Sure enough, they found one of the four screws they used to pin his jaw together, sitting on top of the bone.

So, with Mr. Na in tow, I drove my darling husband to the doctor so that they could extract the screw and he could move on with his life.

I should probably admit the fact that I have a tendency to make my life harder than it actually needs to be. Today was no exception. I've been trying to get Mr. Na completely potty trained and it's been one of the most painful experiences we've had to endure together thus far. Mr. Na is poopie trained, thank God, but he's not yet pee pee trained. And as of late, he's decided that "big potties" scare the living shit out of him and he wants nothing to do with them. You would think I would have just slapped a diaper on his bottom so that I wouldn't have to worry about him peeing in his pants during the two hours we were in the Doctor's office.

But no. I didn't.

Instead, I dressed him in his Thomas the Tank underpants (and clothes on top of that, of course) and grabbed an extra change of clothes, in addition to his three trucks, his sippy cup, a Clif Bar and the six thousand other items I have to carry around whenever we go somewhere.

We had to leave in an hour--and between getting Mr. Na up, letting the dog out, feeding all of us, and taking a shower, I was reasonably confident we'd be late. I just can't move fast enough--especially before I've had any caffeine (though I am only drinking Green Tea now) and so as I climbed into the shower, hubby announced that I had left the dog outside.

By 8:00 a.m. hubby informed me that he had popped his prerequisite Halcyon for his impending surgery--something which would make him about as dopey as I usually am pre-caffeine. From the bathroom mirror, I barked orders for him to feed the dog and pack Mr. Na's "things" (see above list).

At five minutes to nine, I silently cursed myself for not leaving the house earlier, and openly bitched about rush hour on 99. I thought everyone took the 5? Why is 99 backed up? Darling husband was mumbling the words to "Go Ask Alice" while Mr. Na was playing "what's this?" in the back seat.

When we arrived, the first thing Mr. Na spotted was a fish tank. And wouldn't you know it? There were two "Nemos". But of course, in true toddler fashion, Mr. Na said, "Nemo! Poopoo? I hungy, Mama." All in the same breath.
"You have to go poopoo?" I asked.
"Nooooyeaaahhh," he replied (his standard response).
"Well come on, then, let's go," I said, tugging on his hand. A nurse directed us outside and down the hall.

The minute I got him in the stall, he wailed so hard it bounced off the walls and traveled down the elevator shaft behind us. I thought for sure all of Seattle could hear.

I tried everything: going first so that he could see no one was going to be swallowed up by a monster toilet; trying to convince him no one was going to be flushed; I tried bribing him with tootsie rolls in my bag; tried bringing out his trucks; tried begging; tried threatening. Nothing worked. He just screamed and cried and wanted up.

This happened three times during the span of our two-hour visit. I'd ask him if he had to go "poo poo" and he'd say "noooooyyyeaaah" and we'd trek back to the bathroom without success. Despite my darling husband's state of unconsciousness during the surgery, he swears he could hear Mr. Na down the hall.

When my husband came around, one of the nurses took us back to the recovery area to go over instructions. All I kept thinking was, "please, please, PLEASE don't pee now." He didn't, thankfully--as I think he was more intrigued by the ellusive screw they retrieved from my husband's jaw. It was all shiny and clean, and placed in a sterile bag as a memento.

Despite the failures, I have to hand it to him, Mr. Na stayed completely dry until we got home--three hours after we left the house.

And this was just another ordinary day for us!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

I (Heart) February

According to the American Heart Association, Cardio Vascular disease, including stroke, claims more women's lives than the next seven causes of death combined--nearly 500,000 a year, nearly twice as many as all forms of cancer.*

February is American Heart Month and it's a great time to remind people to take a CPR/AED course to learn something that could save a life. It holds a special place in my heart (no pun intended) for two reasons:

Before I left the corporate world, I had the honor and privilege of working for an automated external defibrillator (AED) manufacturer. As a member of the marketing team, I met many survivors of cardiac arrest--something that, if untreated, can kill a person within minutes. Unlike a heart attack, there are usually no prior symptoms and a person loses consciousness, stops breathing and has no pulse. These survivors had been saved by good samaritans or trained responders who used an AED. At the time, AEDs were being installed in public locations--from airports like O'Hare International, to airlines, parks, ferries, train stations, ball fields, and schools. Nowadays, AEDs can be purchased by individuals for home use and it's remarkable to see my former company's vision attained: to have AEDs as accessible as fire extinguishers. Speaking with survivors and hearing their stories made me realize that sudden cardiac arrest can strike anyone at any time with little or no warning.

I also learned this first hand, when my sister died in August 2003. She was 40.

February 4 is "Wear Red Day" for women. Several landmarks, including the Space Needle and the Empire State Building will be illuminated in red to raise awareness in women. For more information click here.

Source: American Heart Association (