Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Heppy Renewed Year

As we prepare to welcome a brand new year, we tend to reflect on the year we had and look forward to the year to come. There are those who celebrate this time to start anew: "Out with the old, in with the new."

I'm devoting the last day of this year to do just that...of sorts. I am in the process of converting old t-shirts into yarn.

I had the idea to make some t-shirt yarn for some time, but I haven't really made the effort to try until now.

After a helpful tip of a Goodwill that sells clothing by the pound in Long Beach, I figured getting a big bunch of test shirts and make a lot of yarn, so I grabbed my roommate and called up a local friend and went on a little field trip and found the "Last Chance" warehouse behind a proper Goodwill store.

After a lot of digging through piles and piles of sometimes very smelly clothes, I managed to get a sizable pile with which to work, and for $1.99 a pound, I (think I) got a pretty good deal.

After a good washing, I tried a few methods to cut the yarn, and found the spiral cut method works the best for me, particularly in getting most out of the shirt.

So now I have this little pile that I can power through and make some yarn.

We'll see if I can salvage these last chance finds and make good with their new purpose...once I figure out what to make with all that I've got. One of my resolutions is to try to make more handmade things, and another to be a little greener; take up more sustainable practices. Doing this kills two birds with one stone, so we'll see how this goes!



Monday, December 29, 2008

Resolutions Better than Yours

How many of you commit to resolutions every year? I never have and never will—except this once. My life’s been uneventful these last twenty years, so to spice things up I decided to include only heroic feats in my one and only new year’s resolutions list.

  • Tame horse to rescue damsel in distress and flee by jumping over canyon.

  • Enter burning building, exit with soot-faced baby.

  • Utilize martial arts to apprehend head of criminal organization.

  • Protect honor of shy woman by smashing a bottle of vodka and holding shard to offender’s neck.

  • Infiltrate compound to thwart weapons smuggling by using weapons in question to dispatch enemies.

  • Remove shoes, jump into pool, emerge with coughing baby.

  • Ram tank into helicopter.

  • Sacrifice self to help friends escape dungeon by using body to hold open stone slab only to reappear later to surprise sullen friends.

  • Stalk, capture renegade circus elephant. Gut, extract living human baby.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Taco Holder

I am a lightweight when it comes to drinking. One watered down mai tai and I'll be dialing the big white telephone all night. A second drink renders me so drunk that I no longer care if I am sickeningly dizzy. Well, what the heck? It's the holidays! Sure, I'll have another... After perusing a long list of fancy cocktails I ordered the prettiest one, because well, I am a sucker for cute. "I'll have the Rainbow!," I happily proclaimed. "Hmmm, really?" The waiter warned. "Yes!," I uncharacteristically raised my voice, "I want to taste the Rainbow! Ha Ha!". The waiter warned me again, my friends cautioned me, I contemplated offers of other fruity drinks (the appletini, the lycheetini...), but I still had my heart set on those colorful, layered swirls.

I tasted that rainbow. And then I tasted it again on the way out. Since I am a skilled vomiter, I was fully equipped with a barf bag. I gracefully (yeah, right) fell outside for some cool air and privacy while a friend held my hair back. Yes, I carry barf bags on my person at all times. It's what an expert does. It's not like I have many accomplishments to be proud of, so I like to point out all my various profeciencies and tout them as remarkable achievements. I have a wall map littered with tacks, pin pointing all the various places I've vomited. Sometimes supplementary maps are needed to add specific detail for bigger cities. A shiny red tack marks the corner of Westwood Blvd. & Broxton in honor of this event.

On the ride back home in my friend's car, I demanded a pit stop for snacks. Armed with enough burritos and tacos to start my own Taco Bell franchise, I finally arrived home. After covering my bed with various wrappers and hot sauces, I immediately felt the need to bathe. I grabbed a taco and headed for the shower. That's when I discovered it. The soap dish/taco holder. I've always wondered what that little dowel was for! The way that taco fit so perfectly in its holder was shockingly beautiful to me. Being able to eat a taco while washing my vaguely pukey-smelling hair was exquisite! I had to call everyone that night to apprise them of my exciting discovery.

I've never been so drunk and I hope I never am again, but there was something special about that night. That magical night in which I discovered just because you want something doesn't mean that you should have it, and that my shower sports an excellent taco holder. Should you find yourself in a similar predicament this holiday season (or place of bliss depending on how you see things), I hope you too are fortunate enough to have a friend who will hold your hair back and a revelation so profound that you need to call me at 3am to let me know all about it. Have a festive and safe new year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

I've Got Spirit, How About You?

Last night, on Christmas evening, I caught an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, the sitcom from the late 90’s starring John Lithgow as the high commander of four aliens who settle in a small city in Ohio to observe the human race. They were happy to celebrate their one year anniversary being on earth which also happened to be around the time of Christmas. They were very excited about the holiday until one thing or another extinguished their Christmas spirit, only for it to be rekindled before the end of the episode. That episode basically summarized in 28 minutes what I’ve gone through with my sentiment over the holiday season in the 28 years of my life.

This time of year used to be my favorite ‘twas the season to sing Christmas carols, watch A Christmas Story, eat candy canes and get presents. As a kid, I would do as any other kid would, get excited about getting presents, and tried to sneak peeks into what I would get. As I got older, the obligations and responsibilities of getting older, like taking tests and writing papers, along with the pressure of getting presents for the people “who counted” and making sure that I gave the right present – something that’s nice, but not TOO nice as to imply you were trying too hard for the particular person. Then came combing the malls and battling for parking spaces during the holiday shopping crunch, trying to find that “perfect” present for anyone and everyone. I sang few carols during that time, I didn’t get as many candy canes, and I cared less and less about getting presents, and even if I had any, I was more conscious of the beautiful wrapping that someone paid for just for it to be torn apart and discarded without much thought.

That’s not to say that I’ve become a regular Scrooge when it comes to this time of year; it just didn’t have that same kind of magic that it once held in my heart. Thankfully, my most recent trip to Europe reminded me what the Christmas spirit was all about. In fact, being there seemed more like Christmas than I’ve felt in a long time.

It helps that Munich and Salzburg are both very Catholic, and with Christmas just around the corner, holiday decorations, ice skating rinks, and if they weren’t up yet, Advents/Christkindl/etc. market stands were going up and running, selling Nativity scene figures and sets, Christmas tree ornaments, handmade toys, etc.

The highlight of these markets were the food stands that would sell things like Heisse Marroni (Roasted chestnuts), Gebrannte Mandeln (candied almonds), candied fruits, various types of Wurst, and the highlight of the trip, having Glüwein (mulled wine served hot) to warm up during the cold, winter-like days.

Aside from the fact that this was my first time being in a snowy place for the longest period of time, particularly during the Christmas season, being surrounded by Christmas without the pressure of having to buy something or get something for someone else.

I came back from the trip charged with Christmas spirit, ready to face the mall and whatever holiday season frustration I may have to face. That included being flipped off by a well-manicured hand that came out from under a window of a minivan while my roommate and I were driving on the 5 Freeway the day of Christmas Eve.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Short Story (part 5 of 5)

[Here's the conclusion to the critically acclaimed comedy I wrote last year. Peter Travers of Rolling Stones wrote, "it is an explosive tour de force magnum opus the likes of which we have not seen since Shakespeare himself trolled the internet." Here are parts one through four.]

“To great fucking friends!” Pablo said. I sat and the world spun like a carousel. My icy gin was like icy water. I lit a cigarette and gave one to Kent who slid it above his ear like a pencil.

“Lemme have one, Frank.” Had I not been so drunk I would’ve declined Vin’s drunken request. His girlfriend looked at me the way a gangster looks at a rival gang member. It wasn’t annoyance anymore. She looked as though she was going to maul me. I laughed.

“Hey, guys, hey, who in the hell goes to the beach, applies sunscreen on their body and neglects her face? Seriously, why would anybody do that?” Vin’s girlfriend had been guilty of this on an excursion we took to Mexico several years back. Her face became bloated, red, and her skin molted off. I laughed harder.

Kent lit his cigarette and I threw mine into the fire. I kept going about her folly at the beach and the smoke from Vin’s cigarette was blowing into her face in bursts through his chuckles. She was furious and trembling. I’d never seen her so angry.

“You stupid shit! You stupid, lazy shit! Why won’t you get a job! What the hell must your parents think!” She yelled and I laughed harder. She stood over the fire to look me in the eye. “You’re old, when are you going to start working!” Kent tossed the log into the fire. “Why haven’t you started wor--“ an ember flew into her face and she squealed as she slapped it off. Another flew onto her peasant dress as she sat down rubbing her face. The ember stuck and Vin attempted to bat it away, but in his drunken stupor, he only batted it deeper into her dress. A small flame caught and she panicked and attempted to get up but was unable due to Vin’s swatting at her legs. I stood and poured my watered down cup of gin onto her dress and the fire extinguished.

“Kent, shut it! Shut it, okay? You guys are making way too much noise!” Kent’s mother yelled half asleep and annoyed from the door of their house. Vin’s girlfriend was sobbing into his shoulder as they leaned into each other from their seats. Both of their faces were hidden behind the fire.

“Are you okay,” I asked her.

“Let’s go, Vin.” She stood and half supported him on her shoulder as she led him down the steps. We waited until we heard Vin’s car’s engine start before we began speaking.

“That was weird.” I said.

“You don’t remember last night, huh,” Kent asked me.

“What happened?”

“Vin called Pablo back. You asked to speak with him and asked that they join us. He said no and you pleaded that they join us next week. You said you wouldn’t tempt him with anything, and they agreed to visit on that condition.”

“Oh.” I felt a flicker of guilt. “Let’s take another shot.”

“To Vin?”

“To Vin,” I said and we drank.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Gender Issues in Illness

Apparently it’s common for women to complain about men being sick. Apparently, all that women do in their spare time is talk about how men are such babies. Babies!

My girlfriend and I were getting a ride home from my friend, let’s call her Raimee, when all of a sudden, as though unleashing a decade’s worth of repressed fury, Raimee explains to my girlfriend how men are such babies when they’re sick. My girlfriend reciprocated with the fervor of a priest belying the evils of satan to his parishioners. I was dumbstruck.

Waking with a fever of 105 and a migraine, I told my girlfriend that morning I had only a minor case of the sniffles, nothing to worry about, shall be fine with half an aspirin. She scoffed, turned and rolled herself in the blanket. I tugged at the blanket, but the fever’d sapped my strength. I tried to fall asleep but my shivering woke her.

“Oh, does the baby need his bwanket?”

“Please? It’s cold.”

“Here, you go. Da baby needs his bwanket!”

I was still deathly ill when I went out that night, but I doubt the women saw through my poker face. They carried on with their girl talk:

“When I get sick, nobody helps me out with anything! I do the laundry, the dishes without asking for a thing!”

“Haha, yeah! And when men get sick, all they do is complain! ‘Wah, my head hurts. Wah, my throat is sore!’ Nothing but complaining.”

“This morning my boyfriend—oh, is it too cold fo’ da baby? Does da baby need his window up cuz da baby is sick?”

“It’s a bit chilly, yes.” It was just above freezing, I’d given my jacket and sweater to my girlfriend and Raimee, and for some reason only my window was down. “I’m just glad we’re almost home! I’m really thirsty and could go for some chamomile and something sweet.”

“Wook, Waimee, da baby needs noo-twee-ents fo’ his body!”

“Aw, po’ baby needs his glucose monito’! Is his bwood-sugaw levoh too low?”

“Aw, da baby has hypoglycemia!”

“Yes,” I said. “I’m feeling faint and very nauseous. Any sweet will help me feel better actually.” At that point they started playing cat and mouse, tossing a Snickers bar over my head. After a minute or so they unwrapped it and ate it.

I’m not sure where all this hatred came from. Maybe all women are innately misandrists, and men being ill somehow disables what I like to call the Misandry Filter. Maybe I just don’t understand women. Maybe that’s why I’m still a virgin.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Chillin' in Los Angeles

When I was walking in a winter wonderland a little under a month ago in München and Salzburg, I figured that time spent in the freezing cold would be an excellent primer for the cold Los Angeles is experiencing now. Boy, was I wrong.

I suppose 10 days walking around dressed up like Randy in A Christmas Story wasn't quite long enough to thicken my Angelino-raised blood to this kind of chill. I feel somewhat defeated, for I think it was a big deal that I survived being in that kind of cold for the first time in my life, and can't seem to handle the weather when it's double the temperature when I'm at home.

In my own defense, there was a time in my life when I was slowly growing a thicker skin when I spent a few weeks in the New York City area, where I experienced freezing temperatures completely unprepared, and then spent the rest of the trip running around in a windbreaker and short sleeves in 50 degree weather. But that time is not now, and even though Jack Frost nipped at my nose in Europe, I am for sure not having it here in Los Angeles, of all places.

I am not one of those people who don the Uggs and the scarves when the temperature drops below 70, but when the temperature drops to the 40's at night and I'm hanging out at a place where heating isn't equally distributed around the place(For example, my house, my parents' house, some friends' homes, work), I get a little disgruntled that I almost have to wear the same clothes I wore outside in Europe when I'm indoors.

It's a little scary to think that it's not officially winter, but I do have to take into account that we're in between arctic storms, so that may have an effect on the current temperature. I'm sure with time, I, along with the rest of the frozen Angelinos, will eventually build a tolerance to this cold (even after heat spells in November), and in the meantime, American Apparel is once again very punctual with new products and can be stylin' wearing their new Unisex Ear Muffs

I may hold off on getting those, but I have to say earmuffs are definitely lifesavers out in the cold (I personally like this type myself), but in the meantime, I should maybe put on some socks and my brand new fleece fingerless gloves, because, Jiminy Christmas, it's COLD!

Me and My Gloves
Me modeling my new gloves made for me by the lovely Sofia!

Do note the above photo is taken indoors, and yes, that's a little neckwarmer I'm wearing along with my coat and new gloves, which I didn't take off until I used the toilet this morning. It's THAT kind of cold.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Yelpy Holidays

If you're like me, unless you can't because of religious, health or personal reasons, you like drinking. And quite possibly, you'd be willing to do interesting things for booze. I have stories of helping a good friend clean up after the peak of her housewarming party and refusing to dump all the abandoned alcohol and kicked off the second part of the party disposing of the under-appreciated drinks. I've drank reclaimed Maß (German for their famous one-liter glass mug) after another when a best friend took a Stein or two from the vacated table of the group we joined in München's famed Hofbraühaus. I wasn't raised in the church, but if I was, I would have gladly ensured the tasteless and watered-down sacramental wine from mass would not go to waste.

Sadly (Perhaps fortunately...for everyone else), I didn't have that an exciting (Rather, drunken and cheap) night at this year's L.A. Yelp's Holiday Party. Sure, I had a blast, listening to the perfectly spun setlist by the night's DJ, trying to pretend my feet weren't killing me in my sassy gold Nicole Miller shoes (I am still waiting for all of the feeling in my third and fourth left toes to come back from that night) while I mixed and mingled and kind of tried moving as if to imply I was dancing without aggravating my aforementioned foot pain situation.

This is not to say that I'm not able to have a good time without being inebriated, for I really wasn't about to wait in the unbearable line to even pay for a drink. It was a nice opportunity to say hi to friends whom I haven't seen in ages, but made it really difficult to avoid those who I'd rather not see (like...that person I slyly cut in front of the line thanks to saying hi to a friend whom I haven't seen in ages).

It wasn't until my blog buddy, Frank, had the smart idea to accompany myself and some others and step out for a drink to take a swig o' the ol' Santa Anita Race Track water bottle (AKA Flask Pro Tempore). We were doing fine until we realized that there wasn't much in FPT to really get a good buzz going.

"No!" Frank yelled at us. "NO!!!"

"Frank, we can do a run to Trader Joe's around the corner." I told him. Without a word, Frank left the car and made his way back to the party.

Fortunately (for him), Frank managed to quaff a good volume of alcohol that night, while I stayed relatively dry until I was taught where to get the "Secret Wine."

All in all, the party was a great night, seeing old friends, rubbing elbows with the dressed up and cleaned up Yelpers and friends who aren't always looking as shiny and glammed up as most were that night...


...and of course, I along with those closest to him, needed to make sure Frank was eventually cut off as he started talking like a mad man, and wanted to prevent him from harming himself and others.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Holiday Party '08

If you’re like me, and I know you are, all of you, you like drinking. In fact, you like drinking so much that you’d be willing to kill for booze. Don’t deny it, there’s murderosity in each and every one of you. People are happy at parties until the booze runs out when free-for-all melees consume everyone in individual fight clouds.

This is how it was at Yelp’s annual holiday party. I was having a blast, enjoying an awesome mix of music, and dancing my ass off. I waltzed, did the twist, and tangoed all at once making women within eyeshot swoon. I was the life of the party, cracking jokes and making crowds explode with hearty laughs!

Everyone was having fun, even those waiting in the unending line for booze. I shook hands with my friends and glad handed my enemies. There were many.

Yes, everything was dandy until I stepped out for a drink. I invited a handful of my friends and we drank from a water bottle filled with vodka. We were doing fine until we left the car and were confronted by a couple bitter and very sober partygoers desperately in need of a drink.

“No!” I yelled at them. “No!”

“frank, there’s plenty left, just let them have some,” my colleague, Corazon, told me. They took a step closer and eyed me with despair and aggravation (desperation I think is the word). I pushed the guy and shoved his girlfriend. It was unfortunate that I did this as two police officers were driving up the street behind me.

“Shit, the fuzz!” yelled my colleague. She stashed the bottle in her purse and ran. I tried to keep up but my legs aren’t what they used to be in fifth grade and I was eventually tackled and beaten by the officers.

I spent the night in jail. All in all, the party was pretty fun. I'm happy to have seen my friends, I'm just glad the bitter couple's murderosity was far from surpassing Corazon and my murderosities.


Friday, December 12, 2008

It's a Little Easier Being Green

In the excitement of the giving season...rather, in the excitement of getting them in the mail, my sister gave me my Christmas present early, which was this awesome bamboo utensil kit from To-Go Ware I was jazzed (pictured is the design I got). Even though she kind of hinted that I'll be getting it, I was stoked to actually have it in my possession for me to use!

It's a one-stop container for one's utensil needs: a knife, fork, spoon and even swirly-ended chopsticks made of bamboo all in a container made of repurposed plastic shopping bags. The case is made by employing ragpickers in India to find discarded bags and create these cases, which gives them a job to do, and the utensils are made of bamboo, which is a very durable, sturdy and sustainable product; bamboo is a grass that grows quickly and is sustainably grown for this purpose.

After having it for two weeks now, I've had several opportunities to use my utensils that come with me wherever I go, and it's great. The spoon is a good size and its bowl is deep enough to get a nice bit of soup to sip. The fork's three wide set prongs work pretty well, but since the prongs widen quickly, it's sometimes hard to get a good grasp on some things like a piece of sliced carrot. The chopsticks have a cool spiral design on its top, and I really wouldn't know how a pair of chopsticks could be dysfunctional, and I have yet to try the knife. It isn't serrated, but it's not sharp per se, but it should be good enough a blade to cut through most things - I don't think it could get through a steak, but if you're eating a steak, I wouldn't think you'd be eating it at a to-go setting.

Even though I usually keep my plastic utensils once I've used them, using these utensils in lieu of their plastic cohorts will reduce the demand for them, and even though they'll still keep some in stock, using these reuseable option will reduce their need to restock the supplies, and one has more incentive to take home one's used utensil if there's a washable carrying case for one to take home and wash to use again another day.

I was at a meeting this week that provided lunch, and I got a big thumbs up when I busted out my bamboo fork for my pasta salad, and as all the other plastic forks were being tossed away after their one use, I wiped mine down, wrapped it in a bit of my old napkin to take home and wash for another day. Of course, the fork that came with my lunch came home with me to go with the other accumulated plastic forks, along with the Styrofoam containers my pasta salad and hot coffee came in so I can wash them and put them in my (now full) container full of old toilet paper/paper towel rolls, sauce cups, microwave dinner trays, foil, magazines, tissue paper, etc. so I can take them all to the Armory Center for the Arts so kids in their art classes can use them for their art projects.

It may take a little more work and effort to actually take these steps to make sure that waste isn't quite real waste until all its uses have been exhausted, and sure, sometimes I get funny looks or comments when people see me carrying around something I could just toss but keep knowing I can find another purpose for it. In the end, all these little steps may make a big difference, and thanks to this little kit, I'm better able to do my part in reducing my footprint on the earth.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Short Story (part 4 of 5)

[Don't worry, folks, this story's almost done. Here are the first three parts in case you need a nap.]

“So why haven’t you called?” I asked with a smile while throwing my pack of cigarettes to Kent.

“Oh, I’ve been busy with school,” he fumbled, obviously lying.

After lighting his cigarette, Kent tossed the burning log back into the fire. The embers were like fireflies popping out of the fire pit and disappearing as they slowed through the air. Sometimes they wouldn’t go out and we’d have to move our legs to dodge them. We took another shot while Vin’s girlfriend sat next to him playing on her cell phone. At first it was annoying as we felt we had to accommodate her, but it didn’t matter after our third drink. The nostalgia was powerful and all that mattered was contained within the light of the fire. Then, jealous and unable to handle her boyfriend having fun:

“So, have you gotten a job yet,” she asked me.

“No.” The smile on my face disappeared and everything was quiet except the popping fire.

“When do you plan to look for one?” She gave me an insidious smirk and looked back to her phone, thumbing it quickly.

“I will soon.” My face was hot with embarrassment.

“Really? That’s what you said last time. Why haven’t you gotten a job yet?”

“Well, I’m an anxiety prone alcoholic. Remind you of anyone?” I thought I’d gone too far with that last comment but it didn’t even phase her. I filled my cup of gin with tonic, began sipping it and said to her with the most spiteful sarcasm I could muster, “How’s your acting going? I heard you had an audition, for a commercial was it?” Her face lifted and her gaze turned from her phone to me. “I mean, that is going strong, right? You’ve been actively looking for and attending auditions, haven’t you? That was, after all, your intention. That’s why you abandoned everything up north and moved to LA, right? For your acting?”

“She’s actually been going to a few auditions lately. Will you pour me another?” Vin said trying to defuse the situation.

“I’m sure you’ve landed several lead roles in a couple future blockbusters! How’s your job going, then,” I continued while pouring Vin another drink, “still hate it?”

“Frank,” Han told me in the way an older brother advises his younger sibling to shut his mouth.

Kent dropped another log into the fire and embers began popping violently into the air. The fire grew and I wasn’t able to see her face through it.

“Frank, pour me another shot, yeah?” Han decided to break the silent tension. I decided to pour everyone a shot. My face was red with heat and embarrassment and my pouring hand was trembling a bit and I stumbled as I handed the cup to Vin, spilling a bit of gin onto his pants. I apologized and Vin said it was no problem. His girlfriend said something in an antagonizing tone under her breath but I couldn’t make it out.

“Let’s drink to good friends this time. We rarely do that,” I offered.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Adventures in Therapy!

I’ve been introverted, anxious, and timid all my life. I’m afraid of stepping out of the house unless accompanied by another. My therapist said I should take baby steps and make a conscious effort to notice how irrational my anxiety is. He said a good starting point would be my complimenting a stranger.

“Try complimenting the first person you see as soon as you step onto the street. If you misspeak, or you think you did something wrong, remember your safe word. I know you can do this.”

“Thank you, doctor.” I stepped out of his office feeling invigorated and excited like when you first drink coffee and it doesn’t make you jittery. I visualized the encounter and I pictured myself making eye contact with a woman, smiling, waiting for her to walk by before walking back to her and telling her she’d lovely perfume. I stepped outside and caught the eye of a beautiful blond professional in high heels. I smiled and walked by her and attempted to take in her scent. Instead my nose was assaulted by the most potent musk I’d ever smelled. I decided to keep walking as I felt her eyes burrowing into the back of my head.

I walked by a coffee shop and noticed a stroller with a baby inside. I’ll do this one, I thought to myself. I’ll tell this lady she has an adorable baby. I neared the stroller and smiled to the lady who was drinking espresso. I figured I’d say she had an adorable baby, see that it made her happy and walk away. I bent over the stroller and noticed the stroller was empty.

I decided I needed a drink to soothe my frayed nerves. I walked into an Olive Garden and asked the hostess if I could have a seat at the bar.

“This way, sir.” I followed her and she led me to a table. “Your server will be with you in a second, sir. Enjoy your meal,” she said and handed me a menu. I decided to make the best of it and tried to compliment the server when she arrived. I’ll tell her I like her makeup, I thought to myself. I flipped through the menu and decided only to get a drink. I began getting anxious and sweaty when I realized I’d been waiting for twenty minutes.

I was relieved when my server finally made eye contact with me. She walked towards me and told me that they were closing. I was very embarrassed and my eyes watered up because of it. “I like your makeup,” I told her meekly. She said she wasn’t wearing any.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Misadventures in Driving in LA: Parking Edition

I'm happy that my commute to my new job is only 4 miles long. What I'm not happy about is that in the grand spirit of working in an office in Los Angeles proper, FREE parking is not that easy to find.

Fortunately for me, I'm cheap enough and have the wherewithal to make sure I don't have to resort to such things.

Sure, I could pay for parking at the 2 hour max. meters around, or pay $5 flat rate at the indoor and pretty secure apartment parking structure a block away, but why do something like that when a little bit of effort nabs you a spot for $0? Also by looking for free places to park, you get a better sense of your surroundings and possible shortcuts you may one day have to take.

I now have a "system" to find myself some parking. I take my usual route, and when I'm getting kind of close, I start scoping out my last resort spots. They're relatively close, but kind of not in a safe area, and even though it's supposed to be in a 1 hour only zone, it doesn't seem that most of the cars on the street actually move from their spots. When I'm closer to my work, I look for some Golden Spots, and if there aren't spaces, I'll go down more and around the corner to a street that has poles for meters, but no meters on them, so you don't have to pay, but they sometimes enforce the 1 or 2 hour parking limit, but I've been lucky so far.

Of course, the ideal place to park are these aforementioned Golden Spots. For some strange reason, there is a strip of curb long enough for 6-8 cars and has no meter, no parking or street sweeping restrictions, and is directly across the street from my office. By the time I come in, most of the spots are taken, but there is a bit of curb that's after a driveway and right before a fire hydrant at the corner that can hold two cars; sometimes someone parks like a jerk and it becomes one space, but sometimes, that place is completely empty.

Today, was one of those days.

I was happy when I saw the entire spot completely free, which allowed me to park the way I want, so that someone else could park behind me (good parking karma). The only thing is that I work in a rather busy area, and that intersection gets pretty congested, so when I was going for the space, I was able to squeeze past the last parked car and the car in queue at the light so I can pull over and park. The only problem with that was several cars followed suit, but they were planning on squeezing through so they could get into the non-official lane to turn right, so when I parked, I essentially blocked their way.

When the light turned green, people were baffled and honking as to why I was just sitting there, gathering my stuff, and I tried to mime in the best and most polite way possible, "I'm staying here. I am parked."

Yes, some people were pissed. When I got out of the car, the woman who was behind me the entire time looked angry and started talking to me.

"Why did you park there? You're blocking the way."
"This is a parking space."
"You can't park there."
"Yes, I can. This is a parking space...there's no red here."
"Well, this isn't a good parking space."

I do have to agree with her in a way, but still, it's right across the street, free and unrestricted, so I'm staying.

After seeing several cars were behind her and honking, I didn't want to risk crossing right there and took the 10 steps to the crosswalk, where a man who got backed up because of me rolled down the window at the light as I was waiting to cross.

"You have to make a right turn! You were blocking the way!"
"I'm sorry, but I signaled, and that is a parking space."
"You can't park there! There's a hydrant!"
"No, I can park there, sir. There's no red on the curb."

As he continued to try yelling at me, I got the go to cross, and I swiftly went behind his car and crossed the street.

Free parking isn't always the nicest and easiest thing to do. But if you've got the fortitude and the belief that parking should be free, it can be found.

Here's a quick and dirty tip on free parking:

FIND THE BROKEN METERS. Sure, it does say sometimes that you're not supposed to park there, but the trick for these is that you should take a minute to call the number listed on the parking meter and report that failed meter, and make sure to get that person's name. Sometimes failed meters reset on their own, or get fixed while you're gone, and if that happens and you get a ticket, you can say you're the one who reported the broken meter and can contest the ticket. If you do this, make sure to get the location and time you're there. Also make sure to obey any other parking rules of that space, including if there are time limits at certain times of day or street sweeping the day and time you're there.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thankful to be Home, but...

My last post from last week was actually written one week prior to its publishing, to give myself yet another reason to come home to LA (next to the fact I'd want to come back to mild weather and my life), and treated myself to a bacon-wrapped hot dog. Sure, I was going to Germany, the land of Wurst, and a silly Street Dog may not be up to scratch to what they have there, but I thought, "Hey...this is what they've got here, and that should be good enough for me..."

I kinda want to take that back.

In the eight full days that I was traveling through Bavaria and Salzburg, I cannot begin to count how many Würste I actually had, but I sure had A LOT. Being based out of Munich, the traditional Weißwurst made of veal and pork was a common breakfast staple and those come in pairs, much like many other traditional Würste. Whether they were served on a plate or in/with a Semmel (bun), a Brezn (pretzel), currysauce or Senf (mustard), etc., I don't think there was a sausage I had that I didn't like (Though it seemed I offended a few Salzburger Wurststand workers when I tried ordering the city's popular "Bosna" and didn't have any ready and actually served me a pair of regular Frankfurters instead, and I just walked away from it).

I'm not that big on meat, which is funny to write after all this talk about meat and meat-wrapped meat...but it seems that I'm not fond of the texture of solid a lot of the times, so having the muscle fibers finely ground, made with quality ingredients like I've had on this trip kind of makes things easier for me to take down. And really, who can blame me? I'm not really sure if there are other places that could make better sausages than I had on this trip, and quite honestly, when it comes down to it, the cheap and greasiness of the bacon-wrapped hot dog just doesn't compare...not even the All-American hot dog with some onions and ketchup that I had today doesn't stack up to the taste and snap of the casing of a perfectly made sausage.

This isn't the first time I've come back from Germania and the amazing selections of Würste only to come home to be sad that it's pretty hard to come by some sausages of that caliber. That said, that doesn't mean that I can't and won't ever have a hot dog, bacon-wrapped or not ever again. I enjoyed the one I had earlier today, and I look forward to the talks of having yet another bacon-wrapped hot dog night at some friends' very soon. I'll be happy with what I have here, and the thought of making a Germanic version of the Dirty Dog makes me shudder. Will I crave for another "Bosna" from the Salzburger Adventsmarkt? Oh yeah. Am I kind of wishing I didn't declare my package of Weißwürste to only see it confiscated? You betcha. Did I miss the bacon-wrapped hot dog I so lovingly missed before I even went on this trip? OH HELL NO.

But that's the beauty of gives you something to which to return...right?

FYI - for those international travelers who would like to take meats home with them back to the States, do know that beef and pork are prohibited unless the product has been prepared for shelf life (IE, canned or jarred) in order to kill the certain pathogens that the meat may or may not contain. I have brought Weißwürste home in the past, but I had to subject myself to a lot of scorn from the locals when they were hand-inspecting my backpack and found a giant can of the stuff, laughing at it and me and showing it to their co-workers saying what an abomination I had. At least I was able to take it home to my sister...vacuum-sealed packs and smoked/cured meats are not acceptable. Of course, you could take the gamble and try to sneak the stuff in without declaring it, hoping they wouldn't find it and fine you $300+ and get your meats taken away...which is something that we could have done...IF we weren't law-abiding citizens! Yes...*tear*


Monday, December 1, 2008

Short Story (part 3 of 5)

[Here's part three. Here are parts one and two.]

I woke the next morning in my bed shaking with anxiety. No headache, no nausea, just shaking, anxiety, and a fear of I don’t know what. I stood dizzily and staggered to the aspirin and chased it with a shot of rum and in a minute I was able to enjoy my own company again. The highlight of my day was the cigarette I had with my coffee on the balcony after the rum while reading in the shade of a flapping blue tarp attached to a tree that swayed with the wind.

The sun was setting when the wind picked up. The sun lit the roofs of the houses that led up the hills like golden steps into the horizon when my phone rang.

“Let’s go get fucked up!”

“All right,” I said.

“Han will pick you up in--”

“An hour. Needa get ready.” I flicked my cigarette onto the barren property next door and went inside and showered.

At Kent’s house Vin was sitting opposite Han with a beer in his hand. Through the fire, I caught the face of his girlfriend who looked despondent and shy at the same time. I smiled at both of them and they smiled back, but Vin’s was genuine. It was nice to see him again and it was as though no time had passed at all. All the resentment I harbored over the last year or so had dissipated. I took the bottle of gin and filled halfway six plastic cups.

“To Vin,” I said and we took it in two mouthfuls. It was a great feeling sitting there in the dark around a warm fire with my friends. “Cigarette?” I mumbled to Vin, cupping my hand over my cigarette to light it.

“I haven’t yet picked up the habit,” he said jokingly and his girlfriend glared at me. She was still angry at me for dropping him off that one night leaving him smelling of vomit, cigarette smoke, and liquor. She decided that night that she would leave Vin if he didn’t stop drinking or going out with his friends--not all of his friends, just us.


Friday, November 28, 2008

Reason to be Thankful (and to Come Home)

It's the day after Thanksgiving, and yesterday most people in the US have celebrated thanks for the early US settlers' exploitation of the indigenous people of this great land, and perhaps done so by eating lots of this country's native bird. I, on the other hand, am a few thousand miles away not having had a turkey meal while traveling around or out of Austria, hopefully thankful I'm warm enough.

Some may know I'm a bit of a Germanohpile, and since this is my first trip to this area in a few years, the notion to not come back has crossed my mind. Along with the fact that Germany is now in a recession with its already difficult foreign work visa process, there are several other reasons, like a milder climate and the frequent use of the English language that will have me coming back.

There is one thing in particular that sticks out in my mind that will have me coming home to the U.S. of A., but more specifically, back to the love-to-hate city of Los Angeles:


For those who can/choose to eat meat and haven't had one, you're really missing out. They go by many other names, such as the "Dirty Dog," the "Hollywood Dog," these illegal hot dog carts can be found in high-foot traffic areas, most notably around the Fashion District and in Hollywood late at night where many inebriated and hungry clubbers roam the streets. Its execution is simple: bacon is wrapped around a hot dog and is cooked over a metal surface heated by propane below. Onions and jalapenos are typical toppers, along with the usual ketchup, mustard and mayo on the side.

I have been vexed by this one particular bacon-wrapped hot dog cart that's just around the corner from my work, and there is usually one time each day I have to walk past it, and each time, I have to stop myself from getting one each time. It's the smell of the meats being cooked with the smell of caramelizing onions that one just can't deny.

On my last day of work before this trip, the allure seemed even stronger. It also didn't help that the fruit stand guy that's usually stationed 10 feet away wasn't there, for there wasn't as much as some sort of angel-devil contrast between healthful fruit and artery-clogging goodness.

But why, of all things I could eat, would I want a bacon-wrapped hot dog before I'm going to Germany, the land of Wurst? This dog is a sad bastardization of the glory of its source, so why taint that? After much thought, the answer was simple: This is cuisine that's so L.A., and if anything, I would need something to remind me what I need to come home. With that, I went out and got myself one hot dog with onions, jalapenos, a bit of mayo and ketchup for the road.

I had the dog packed to go and took it back to my office, and in that short trip, the grease had already seeped through the paper in which it was wrapped and already hit the paper bag it was in. It was beautiful when I unwrapped it, and that first bite was divine. The jalapenos weren't that hot, unfortunately, but the onions and the bun were slightly sweet and mixed perfectly well with the saltiness of the entwined meats.

Though I'll be sad to be leaving my current location (at the time of this blog entry's posting) so soon, I at least have a few things to look forward to when I'm home. I'll probably be wearing skirts and tank tops when everyone else is in scarves and coats if it does get cooler in LA, and when I go back to work, I'll know I've got these bacon-wrapped goodness waiting for me.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Short Story (part 2 of 5)

[Here's part two of my story. Part one is here if anyone is interested. Part three of five will be posted next Monday.]

Between the four of us we’d had a bottle of Gordon’s and a twelve pack of Pabst. Both were vile, something moonshiners wouldn’t touch. I’d had the majority of the gin and thought everything was hilarious, especially the fireworks and the lighters in the fire pit that would explode with a comfortable, luminous pop. We were stupidly drunk every time we were at Kent’s house, doing the stupid things stupid young kids do while drunk. I’m sure it was annoying but time is the least thing we have of.

“Let’s--take a shot,” I spat.

“To what!”

“To Vin!”

“We did that before.”

“Then to his last drinking adventure!” Up until recently, we’d been binge drinkers. Liquor would settle in our bellies in the form of shots or entire cans of beer at a time. As a result, we learned how to gauge our drinking through our mistakes. I, for example, learned not to swill a half bottle of gin in twenty minutes. Kent and Pablo learned not to take more than two shots in a row. Han never learned. Vin, well, he learned to never drink again, an exaggerated response. Han, Vin and I were at a friend’s house when we were twenty and we, for whatever reason, probably good weather, decided to get drunk. Han passed out an hour after arriving and Vin accepted challenges to chug beer and martinis. Eight or ten challenges later, Vin was rendered a crawling mess, unable to raise his head above ankle level unless it was over a toilet. I remained sober, drove him home and he vowed never to drink again. Pansy.

Han finished his cup of gin after our last shot and he was sick thirty minutes later. He threw up on the grass next to the wall of foliage far behind Pablo. I walked over and he looked up at me and insisted that I go have fun with the rest of the guys while slobber and tears crawled down his face and onto his crossed legs. He was belligerent and in my drunken state I had to try hard not to laugh.

I went back to my seat and Kent, putting a burning log to his face, lit a cigarette. I followed suit but with my lighter and exhaled breath thick with smoke and coughed.

“How long have you had that cough?” Kent asked.

“Around a month.”

“Are you gonna get it checked out?”

“Yes,” I lied.

“Yer gon’ die of lung cancer, Frank!” Han yelled through sobs from the grass outside the warmth of the fire. He may as well have not been present at all. He would always tell us stories about cancer of the throat, and how you’d lose your ability to talk unless you had a voice box or spoke with burps or some stupid garbage like that. He knew it got on my nerves. When he pissed me off enough, I would blow smoke in his face and we wouldn’t talk for the rest of the night. It would be awkward sober, but drunk I was impervious to emotion.

Kent’s phone rang, “just us four. Absolutely, whatever beer you want. Yes, twelve is fine. See ya.” His phone clapped shut, “David’s on his way. He’s bringing more beer.” It was midnight and Han was sobering up beside us around the fire. His eyes were red and glossy. I had another beer and didn’t remember anything after it, not even David’s arrival.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Short Story (part 1 of 5)

[Here's a short story I wrote last year. I've developed my writing a bit since, so I ask for patience. I plan to one day pull a (polished) novel from this short.]

“Somebody call Vin.”

“Vin is dead,” I answered.

“Yeah, fuck Vin.” Pablo added.

We all missed Vin dearly and hadn’t heard from him since his girlfriend moved in with him. He’d been an avid fan of liquor, but one night he’d indulged a bit too hard and decided to not drink ever again. That and his girlfriend was a tee totaling wet blanket who had him by his balls.

“Let’s take a shot,” I said.

“To what?”

“To Vin.”

It’s not that we really considered him dead. We were happy for him, where ever he was. We were all single most of the time so I guess we were jealous, or we resented the fact that he stopped calling, but that’s the nature of the beast, right? Friends lose touch in time and sometimes it coincides with one of them being taken by a lover. I resented him deeply for that.

After several shots we sometimes called Vin. Well, I never called him, I’d no intention of speaking to him again, but Pablo didn’t have a problem dialing the number. Vin would never answer, of course, and so ensued Pablo’s default message: “Hey, Vin, it’s Pablo, we’re hanging out at Kent’s house drinking beers around a fire. You should come over.”

“Hey, remember that time after the movie when we wanted to go to a bar?”

“When Vin looked to his girlfriend for permission?”

“Ha, yeah.”

“Did you know he transferred to CSUN?”

“What the fuck! When?”

“Last year.”

“Wow. How’d you find out? Oh, when you still talked to his girlfriend?”


“Why’d you stop--oh yeah, you told me. So why does she hate us?”

“Her dad’s an alcoholic, her grandparents died of lung cancer.”

“Makes sense.”


Friday, November 21, 2008

Sometimes, I'm a Girl

In about 30 hours, I'm going to be on a plane to Europe. Most people would be very excited and looking forward to such an occasion if they were in my place, but I'm very anxious about this trip. It's not that I have a fear of flying or that I get airsick…It's that I'm really afraid of freezing my butt off (and the fact that at the time of this posting, I'm not finished doing my shopping and have not begun to pack).

I knew that it was going to be cold during this trip, but I never thought it was going to be rainy and SNOWING. For a gal who grew up in "The Armpit of the San Gabriel Valley," the thought of spending extended periods of time in the cold, cold cold really scares me.

To help prevent my coldest nightmares from happening, I’ve gone around and made sure that I have warm things at my ready…part of which includes taking this opportunity to use this trip as an excuse to get new shoes.

Most people will find me wearing flats, slippers, and Chucks which are all not so good for the feet with the exception of my super supportive running shoes. That said, I also don’t have the type of shoe that will keep dry pretty well while keeping them warm at the same time. I figured that maybe this is the perfect opportunity for me to get myself a pair of boots.

Part of the reason why I don’t have a lot of shoes is because I’m super duper picky on what goes on my feet. I don’t know where I got it, but the most minute detail or texture, even a fraction of an inch on a heel will either make or break my decision. It’s a painful process even I hate, but it’s a process I don’t know how to make simpler.

I’d like to hope that this neuroses of the shoe pays off in the end, for I like to think that I do have a decent eye on things that look good (on my feet). What’s funny is that despite my aspirations to obtain my entire wardrobe second hand through thrifting and clothing swaps, I do have an eye for expensive, well made shoes. Whether it’s the shoe I’m looking for or not, I always find myself drawn to some of the more expensive shoes on the rack, and being in shoe stores or departments sometimes make me wish I was more fashion-forward with a disposable income in order to finance this untapped passion for shoes. It’s almost like I have this dormant Imelda Marcos disease, where I just want every nice shoe that exists in this world.

After spending hours in the mall, trying boot after boot, I did settle for a pair of Bandolinos that look fairly weatherproof but still nice enough to be dressy and not to heavy so that a So Cal girl like me can wear it out. I’m happy with my choice as a shoe, but it remains to be seen if I made the right choice on the right footwear for this trip.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Coincidence. Appreciate it. (part II)

[This is part two and the conclusion of Tuesday's post, which was this blog's very first Adventourist entry. Thank you, Rochelle! For the rest of you, I hope you like it as much as Frank and I do, and we hope that some of you may want to hazard a guest entry! <3corazon]

In the afterglow of all this election excitement, I was trying find a personal connection to Obama's win. You know, something a little more connected than that $25 I spent on a T-shirt, or all those cupcakes I bought at my neighborhood "Hungry For Change" bake-sale. Not knowing where to look for a starting point, I took a break in front of the t.v. Then I found it! Jeri Ryan.

Look at the palm of your right hand. Your "love line"-it's right below your pinky finger. I don't know about yours, but mine has a great big gap in it. When I was just sixteen I dated the man of my dreams. It was the happiest time of my life. Cut to six-ish years later - I idiotically broke-up with him. Thankfully we are back on track together. But maybe that time away served for something more important than my feeble happiness. So how does the Star Trek Voyager star connect with Obama and my love line?

Jeri Lynn Ryan starred in an Indie movie called the Last Man. The guy I dated during my aforementioned gap acted alongside Jeri in this movie. Years after the film completed, it made it to the Hamptons Film Festival. I went along helping to promote the movie, supporting the crew. Afterwards, Jeri had written a letter to the director thanking him for believing in her. She thanked him for fostering her self esteem and for giving her the opportunity that boosted her career. She then ended her part as trophy wife to Jack Ryan. No, not the Jack Ryan from Tom Clancy movies. Jack Ryan, the Illinois senator. The senator who ran against Barack Obama in 2004. In an act of courage and new found confidence, Jeri Lynn Ryan decided to open the divorce files on her ex-husband to expose a scandal that would forever change the course of history. Way ahead in the polls versus Obama, Ryan left the race after his sex scandal was exposed. Was this retaliation for forcing Jeri to attend sex clubs? I don't know. Perhaps it was just the right thing to do.

While Jeri replaced her former husband with chef Christophe Émé, the republican party tried to replace him with Mike Ditka. Mike said no, so Alan Keyes stepped in to lose to Obama. Keyes is now attempting to sue Obama for proof of Obama's U.S. citizenship. What a crazy world...

So where is my link in all this? Perhaps it was an off-handed comment I made to Jeri about my opinions on marriage. Or perhaps that extra boost of confidence came from all those men who were looking at her instead of me. We can never know the real impact of our every word or decision. That is one of the things that is so beautiful about the effect of coincidence on life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Survive a Clothes Swap

[Author's note: I was rushing to get all this entry's eggs in its metaphorical basket, but had to take care of a few matters. Because of that, the photographic material that I would like to have accompany this post is waiting to be linked...on my own computer. Please check back later to see some visual guides to the words! <3corazon]

Clothing swaps have gained in popularity in more recent years in the spirit to reduce consumption of new materials while still refreshing one’s wardrobe. This is "One person's trash is another person's treasure" personified: What may be a tired garment to one is a brand new piece to another.

Events like the Swap-O-Rama-Rama takes this concept a step further: along with the swap are DIY stations for swappers to modify their clothing on the spot, as well as DIY workshops including silkscreeners, pants/tshirts-to-tote makers, shirt pimpers show swappers how they can creatively reuse old clothes.

I've volunteered for Los Angeles' take of this event since its start, organized through the efforts of Lori Petitti and Hip Line Media. As the swapping process is much like thrifting on steroids, developing good strategy ensures a successful and productive time at a clothes swap.


Proper attire is pretty handy when rummaging through clothes. A skirt for ladies and secure men alike is ideal, allowing quick work at trying on other bottoms. Slippers (flip flops) as footwear are very handy. Tops should be worn as close to the skin as possible to try clothes on top of them and get the most accurate sense of fit without much bagginess.

Messenger-style bags that rests at your hip is very handy for quick rummaging, grabbing, and stashing. It's the closest thing humans have to having little pouches in the insides of their mouths, though not as handy but lots more stylish.

The human race wouldn't be where it is right now if not for its advanced social structure. It's rather prudent to use this skill when swapping. Being in cahoots with at least one other person is helpful in keeping an eye for things s/he may happen upon that's your style It's also handy to have another eye to let you know how a particular piece fits, looks, flatters, etc. you, which brings me to my next point:

Save the time and regret you may have from taking home impulse grabs by going through the small pile you amass through time. Try on the pieces you didn’t get a chance to before, show off your finds to your aforementioned accomplice. You can swap with others who may be editing at the same time. Return unwanteds to the pile for someone else to find. If you’re on the fence with something, you can keep it, after all…

Holding on to potential pieces isn’t bad - you may love something one day, then want to leave it the next. Come next swap, you can re-swap it to see if it can find a home with someone else. In my two years and three swaps, I’ve seen several pieces come and go and return again. There have been shirts I’ve taken from someone who wasn’t into that style, realize it’s not my style, and went to re-swap it. As it turns out, their original owner started wearing those shirts again and took them back…thus the beauty of the swap!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Coincidence. Appreciate it. (part I)

[Our first guest post! Welcome Rochelle! Her first post is about the intricacies of coincidence. The second part will be posted Thursday. Enjoy!


Coincidences happen everyday. It irks me when those crazy happenstances go by without much appreciation. I am kind of obsessed with these little surprises and I relish looking back trying to connect the dots to find hidden adventures. I am talking about the kind of unbelievable coincidences in life that, when seen in a movie or happen in a book, you say to yourself, "yeah, right! how convenient. . . there's an ornithologist in the restaurant where our heroes have just gone to escape from killer birds!?" It's sometimes overwhelming to think about the chain of events- each chance, every little decision that had to take place in order to get here. Where? Here in the Future! How do I know now is the future? Because in every futuristic alien movie a black man is president of the United States of America.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adventures in Bad Writing

The night was drunk with the scent of fresh-baked bread and a monstrously odorous carne asada burrito. I lit a cigarette under the screaming light of a full moon, marrying the scents in a haze of twilight smoke outside a bar filled with vampires. I washed down the mouthful of burrito with a drink from my vodka which burned in conjunction with hot sauce. It was a strange burn, a burn like none other.

A man approached me from within the bar. “Hey, can I bum a smoke?” he asked with an indelible persistence, like the migration of a species, or Jupiter’s Red Spot. I had to think faster than a cheetah runs as it would have been impossible for me to hand him a smoke with one hand full of burrito and the other full of vodka. I decided the burrito had been eaten enough to where I could hold it in my mouth and leave it hanging out like an enormous tongue, freeing one hand to pull out the pack of cigarettes in my back pocket and offer this man a smoke. “Thanks,” he said standing there watching me wrestle the burrito from my mouth.

The burrito was mashed and gnarled as though it had been mauled by a rabid dog who thought it was a cat covered in peanut butter. I was filled with a deep sorrow; the burrito reminded me of my mother. She had been sick with the flu for days now. “Got a light,” the man with the iron resolution asked me.

“Sorry, I don’t,” I said panicked, not wanting to suffer through anymore burrito-mouth madness. I walked away into the screaming moonlight through a drunken night dancing in the scent of fresh baked-bread and yellow puffs of cigarette smoke pushed from behind my lips with my under-worked diaphragm. I never found out if that smoking man found a light. I surmise he did. I hope he did.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Berry Bad Attempts on My Life

I'm allergic to berries. I have one particular friend who usually remembers of my allergy, but sometimes it seems she wants to find some kind of way to innocently kill me by getting me to eat them.

One night, she and I were eating at this great greasy spoon famous for their homemade pies. It was around closing time, so their selection was limited, but had their famous ollallaberry available. I told this dessert-loving friend she could have dessert on her own, and I didn't care either way, but she insisted that we share a slice o' pie, then we shared the most boring slice of pumpkin pie ever.

I think this is when her plan for vengeance started.

Not long after, I went to her place to hang out and eat random snacks. One of the snacks included a jar of ollallaberry (and some other berry) jam. That jam looked pretty amazing. It came in a dark glass jar, and inside the jam was a deep, royal purple color that would make it even more exciting to eat. Its decadence was proven with each mouthful of jam my friend had, she'd sing a mouthful chorus of pure bliss, followed by her exclaiming how good it was as she nudged the jar closer towards me. Each time this happened (and it happened a lot), I'd assured her that I'm sure it is tasty. It wasn't until the next day that she realized the error of her ways, probably because she was so obsessed with the stuff at the time.

It wasn't until this week that she made her decisive move. We were over at some friends' for dinner, and she brought dessert: petit fours. When it came time for dessert, I took my bite, I thought its almondy goodness was great, though it had a hint of something funny tasting. Then I looked at the innards of the petit four I just bit and saw this little maroon line along the bottom of the treat.

When I asked what it could be, my friend immediately replied, "Oh, that's probably raspberry, since they put that in a lot of petit fours."

"Then I shouldn't be eating this," I replied.

"Oh, that's right. You're going to die if you eat this." My friend casually retorted.

Later that night, my entire right upper arm was itchy, and large portions of my scalp was all a-tingle.

I escaped this incident okay, but I don't know if I'd be so lucky next time. It's kind of like eating secret poison blowfish. There are few people in this world who are trained to cut the edible parts from the poisoned part of the fish. How would one react to someone else who just ate something that was poisonous?

"This fish tastes funny."

"Oh. That was probably the poisoned part. Oops."

Maybe that would be my friend (who is not licensed to cut blowfish, BTW) if I ate poisoned blowfish.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Adventures in the Art of Cookery

I asked my girlfriend what, if anything, I hated. After hardly thinking for five minutes, she said, “dancing! You hate dancing and singing!” Excellent, I told her, and that I’d use that in my blog. Then I remembered how much I hate cooking and tomatoes.

Do you know why audiences sometimes bombard performers with tomatoes? Because fuck tomatoes, that’s why. Nobody likes tomatoes, at least not those generic red monstrosities. You have to be pretty handy in the kitchen in order to transform these red, mangineered atrocities into something edible. Sure, you could buy proper and ripe tomatoes, but who has the time to cherry pick anything these days? I sure do, but fuck tomatoes!

I’ll tell you what else I hate: dull knives. I must be the most incompetent fool in America because I have a sharpening stone and am unable to sharpen my knives. My knives seem to get duller after every “sharpening.” You know those dolts on the Ronco infomercials who smash tomatoes with a dull knife like a mental invalid attacking a pile of clay with his hands? I’m one of them. It’s not because I’m incredibly inept, it’s because my hands go rogue due to my uncontrollable rage.

Cooking is a downward spiral of pain and suffering for me, especially when I have to dice tomatoes for an omelet. Not only do I have to deal with dull knives, bitter tomatoes, and rogue hands, I have to deal with eggs sticking to fifteen dollar “nonstick” pans.

Oh, and sometimes I add onions to the omelet. Do you know how ridiculous onions are? Only two things make me cry: broken bones and onions. That makes no sense. On the contrary, it makes nonsense, my friends.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Adventures in Politics, Voting

Voting apathy, I’ve noticed, is among the more unpopular apathies. I think I’d be better off not caring about recycling.

While walking to my polling place, I asked passersby for whom they voted. After they responded I said I was voting for the opposing candidate and gauged their reaction. Some smiled politely and walked away, others stormed off with their hands flailing in the air. I approached groups of people, families, couples and such, and asked them all the same question.

“Hi, who’d you vote for?”

“McCain,” the father said.

“Oh, I voted for Obama. How about the props?”

“Yes on all but two and eight,” the father said.

“I voted no on all but two and eight. And the missus? How’d she vote?”

“I voted for Obama and yes on one, two, and seven,” she said with a proud smile.

“I voted for McCain and no on one, two, and seven. You, sir, are you an uncle? I negated your votes, too,” I said.

“Surely that’s not possible.”

“I work here, sir! It is very possible and I did it! Let this be a lesson to you, children: do not vote!” I said with the fervor of a peeled-eyed crack addict. I jumped over the table and held their arms. “It’s a waste of time! A waste of time!” I continued through their sobs. By this time the voters had stopped voting and were staring at me. They seemed scared and a few were inching for the door. “You! Voter! Your ballot, sir!”

“I, uh—“

“Worthless!” I said taking a bite from his ballot and punching him. “You with the tan jacket!”


“Yes! Your ballot!”

“I didn’t vote! I swear!”

“Good man, because I surely would have negated your votes, too!” I said and punched him while running out of the room. Outside I gave a group of twenty non-English-speaking immigrants contradicting sample ballots I’d filled out.

I ran down the street and jumped into a family’s living room through their window and punched out their TV. They were watching the voting results, wide eyed with glee that Obama was in the lead. I jumped out another window and punched a man on a soap box who as preaching about the evils of drugs.

“Don’t listen to this man!” I yelled through his megaphone. “Voting is a waste of time!” I plowed my way through the crowd and punched an anarchist and took his wallet. By now I had a group of voters unable to appreciate my views chasing me. “Close-minded fools!” I yelled while running. I ran into a police officer and explained my situation.

“Follow me,” he said and I punched him in the face. I was tasered by his partner, handcuffed and arrested.

Indeed, voting apathy is an unpopular apathy.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Misadventures of Driving in LA

I'm just as proud to be an Angelino as any, but even the most devout LA resident is often driven mad trying to get from one place to another without dying on the road. It's almost like each car trip we take is made to make us thank our lucky stars that we managed to survive the dangerous dance humans play as we speedily control these multi-ton vehicles around.

I had once dreamt to grow up to be a civil engineer, and I think that was once realized after all the times I've had to travel on a few of the most dangerous and annoying driving areas in LA.

Although this can be an ongoing series in itself, I'd like to share my top 5 least enjoyable driving areas in Los Angeles (in no particular order).

The 101 South/110 South Freeway Interchange along the Downtown Exits
Whoever figured that a major freeway's transition into another freeway right where there are a slew of very confusing offramps in the city's center must have been on drugs. I do not understand why the 101 drivers freak out and drive like they never were behind a wheel as they frantically try to merge onto the 110 when they never realize they don't even need to change lanes as they have a dedicated lane that will happily lead them into the freeway! I always loathe having to exit Downtown because of this, because those 1,200 feet of interchange is just a constant death trap - if it doesn't kill you, it just makes you more bitter with life.

10 Freeway Offramps
As semi-irritating it is to have particular offramps for streets on one direction of the freeway to another, I sometimes think I'd rather have exits at every other major street when it comes to a lot of the offramps for the 10 freeway through the San Gabriel Valley. Both the east and westbound exits have separate exits for the north and south bound sides of the street. Yay Convenience! The only thing is, usually the first offramp comes way too soon when you're not properly slowed down, causing you to practically screech to a halt in order to make your turn and prevent you from running into dangerously opposing traffic who are trying to get ON the freeway. If you're trying to get to the second offramp, you have to make sure you avoid these cars trying to jump on, who usually aren't ramped up to speed just yet. I'm usually holding my breath and pray I survive each time I take one of these exits.

The 605 South/10 East - 10 West/605 South Interchange
I just don't understand this. Both freeways are pretty big, yet someone thought that instead of putting a perfectly efficient cloverleaf for this half of this interchange (as they have half of one on the other side), they decided to create a 436ft. two-lane driving space where 605 southbound drivers have to try to get on the 10 east at the exact time 10 westbound drivers want to get on the 605 south. Let's not mention how fast drivers from both freeways go in/out of this's just not cool.

The 5/101/10 East & West/60 Freeways Interchange
Just look at it. In order to get from one part of the 10 to another, you have to be on the 5 for a while. Then, the 101 starts off here, but it's a really small offramp. Oh, there's also a way to get to the 60 from all of this, but it's almost put there as an afterthought. Don't ask me how many times I was tired/in a rush/stupid/etc. while trying to get somewhere and I invariably wind up taking the wrong offramp and wind up on the other side of the city before realizing that's not the direction I wanted to go. Sure, I'm responsible for my stupidity, but really, this area doesn't make it that hard to make anyone drive like an idiot.

The I-10 Freeway
I just hate this freeway. It's unattractive, more often than not always full of traffic, and is a necessary evil to go around LA. I can't even begin to explain my hatred for this freeway. Have you ever had to pee so bad, perhaps you had to pee while suffering from a uniary tract infection, but you were comfortable sitting/lying down while being extremely mentally/physically/emotionally exausted at the moment, that the however long trip it would take to get you to the toilet makes you wish you just had a bedpan? That's how I feel about the 10 freeway.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

PMS and Politics

I'm not too proud of it, but I am an extremely competitive person. Anyone who has ever played games with me can attest to that, and I'm very glad those who I've played Mario Kart Wii online have not heard the sort of expletives that's escaped my lips in the heat of racing. It's very smart on Nintendo's part that players cannot input their own online messages to others - the game's most aggressive messages being "Grr...Darn it!" and "Funky Stadium!" which is passable. No message can't convey my sentiment when I really want to say, "Your perfectly-placed banana peel on that turn put me into such a rage that I want to see your smug Mii's face as a pixelated pulp!!!"

Though I don’t consider myself a political junkie, I think electing the next US President is a big deal, and I, like many people in the US and the world, had a great deal of particular interest in this year's presidential election. People are entitled to their views and opinions, but I was rooting for one candidate over the other, and though I tried to remain practical and aware that the election could have easily gone to either candidate, as soon as the guy I was rooting for was gaining a formidable lead, I started to become pretty darn excited that in my mind, thinking "My Team" was winning.

It should also be mentioned this competitive nature of mine becomes even more pronounced when a healthy dose of Premenstrual Syndrome and hormones is thrown in the mix. That mentioned, I'm in the full throes of "That Time of the Month."

Let's add to the fact that I was stuck in LA traffic as most of the polls started closing and reporting yesterday, and as each projection was announced, it took a lot of constraint to not honk my horn and start screaming, perhaps finding another nearby sharing similar sentiment. It was better I was alone in the car during this time, for I probably would have exerted some sort of physical reaction onto them, like several punches to the arm or a sloppy kiss to the face, whichever struck me at the moment (yes, while driving).

Once our next president was announced, I was in the company of others who shared similar excitement and sentiment as I, but perhaps not as much as I managed to restrain. I think I was so happy, I could have collapsed someone’s ribcage in a bonecrushing hug, patted someone’s back so hard to induce coughing up a lung, and as I sat there listening to our President-elect, I had to curb my desire to take the wine glass in my hand outside, smash it against the concrete and dance upon its shards in some twisted form of cathartic joy.

It goes without saying I’m VERY happy of this election’s outcome, and am particularly happy that things didn’t turn out in the other guy’s favor; for I am honestly afraid to think how I would have reacted to that.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Adventure Theory

I would like to introduce a new segment to this blog (I suppose since there isn't much here, everything is new, so please humor me) called Adventure Theory.

As much as Frank and I eat, drink, walk, sweat adventure with every breath we take, there are just some situations and opportunities that prevent us from actually tackling certain adventures, such as the lack of funding, time, courage, attention, physical capibility, what-have-you. Instead of letting these ideas of adventure fall by the wayside, we now have the opportunity to outline these adventures outside our jumbled heads and onto the space of this blog.

This may be an opportunity for us to visually assess these ideas and realize how crazy they really are, or it may help us see how much more possible it is to go through with them. It also may be an opportunity for us to document our ideas and look back at it when such theories are exercised and things go horribly awry.

Either way, this should make for good times.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Adventures in Politics

I’ve had many epiphanies over the years, the most memorable being when I realized the proof really was in the pudding, or that it’s actually possible to eat scrambled eggs without tortillas, or the following which I epiphanized over the course of a year.

My good friends know that I have a voting problem. I tell them my problem and they scoff. I explain my situation, but they tell me to stop lying, to stop making up diseases. One day, you untrusting hobgoblins, one day Ted Striker’s disease will be acknowledged by the AMA.

“Seriously, frank, it’s getting old. Haha, yeah, Ted Striker syndrome—“

“Ted Striker’s disease,” I tell them.

“Yeah, whatever. It was funny on Airplane! and that’s it. Stop creating excuses and get your ass to the polls.”

“The moles?” I say.

“You know what? Fuck you, frank. I’m tired of your incorrigible apathy.”

My friends, it is because of the frequency of these verbal assaults that I must admit something: I do not have Ted Striker’s disease. I made it up one day and the AMA isn’t really considering its validity. I don’t vote because, my good friends, I have Parkinson’s disease. Would you like to know why Bush won in ’04? My hand shook the puncher into Bush’s circle instead of Kerry’s.

“It’s just one vote, that’s preposterous,” you say? How dare you! Voting is not preposterous! No wait, it is.

I’ve shared my thoughts on voting to those I believe are highly intelligent and insightful. Unfortunately, their reasons to vote weren’t able to stifle the nihilist in me. “An exercise in futility,” I’ve been known to yell, spastically attacking strangers with spittle. Yes, I know my not voting is irresponsible because it discourages others to do the same.

This is where the epiphany kicks in: the reason I’m so turned off by the voting process is because nobody should be discouraged by one idiot’s indifference with voting, and yet it’s the primary reason I vote.

It’s not something I’ve fully thought out. I need help figuring this one out. What does it mean that people are discouraged by others not voting? Am I not a team player? Someone help me. Also make me a sandwich, please.


Friday, October 31, 2008

The End to My Adventures in Convention

Unlike most college graduates, I was somewhat happy to move home with the parents.

I, like several of my classmates from World Arts and Cultures (affectionately and aptly acronymed as WAC), had this goal to recoup from surviving our senior projects then see and experience what the world has to offer - see new things, meet different people, do what we were trained to do best: starve as we lived our lives, making art (or at least talk about it)!

Seven months later, I was working at an overpriced trade school that catered mostly to talentless rich kids. I did it partly because I didn’t have money, a job, or medical insurance. Part of it was to make the parents happy. I also appreciated the fact that I'd be able to pay off the remaining of my absurd college debt, but I did tell my boss pretty early on that I would stay there so long as I wasn't creatively inhibited...and once that happened, I'd be gone.

The job actually afforded me to take classes, buy cameras, finance a trip to Europe and New York. Twenty months later, I left there with a nest egg that allowed me to stay in NYC for almost two months, take a few community college classes and live unemployed for 5 months.

I eased back into working by taking a part-time job, and when I was offered to work full time, I refused, as the pay wasn't the best for the crazy commute I'd have to do (while still at the parents'). Then I got the opportunity I was waiting for: a job at a non-profit arts institution. I figured, hey, it may be admin, which I can do, and I’d be in a creative environment that would inspire me to do my own work, right?


It was then I learned non-profit arts institutions prey on the bleeding hearts that fight the good fight, and the multiple jobs I worked there sucked me dry. I had a car to finance and rent to pay, so I was doubly cursed with no money to finance any creative endeavor which didn’t matter, because I had no energy to actually work on any.

When I finally left just over a year later, I should have known better, but instead gouged my bleeding heart: I signed on to a smaller arts non-profit. Though it paid a decent wage, I had no benefits, and I was working in one of the most difficult situations one could possibly imagine.

I figured I could tough out a year; give me experience, and in many ways, I did enjoy working there. It took other people to help me realize that I should leave, but the stars weren't aligned in my favor, and the longer I stayed there, the worse it became.

As I felt myself slip into a depression trying to find another means to get by while surviving my situation, it dawned on me: I’m nowhere close to what I told myself I’d be five years ago! What happened to that person? Why am I putting myself deeper into misery? I need to do something about this!

And I did.

Five years, four months and 17 days after leaving school, I’ve finally decided to actively pursue what I promised myself that I would do: follow my bliss.

So here I am. With no source of income guaranteed, I’m going to see if I can make it doing what I love. It’s scary as hell, but equally exhilarating to see what will happen next.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adventures in Writing

I’ve always loved writing. I love the way my mind races when I’m on a good roll. Alas, creativity wanes as you age and lately it’s been difficult putting words together. This was not so years ago.

I was nine when I wrote the following:

“I saw lots of fireworks

on July fourth. I had a

lot of fireworks. I

stayed up all night

lighting fireworks. It

was fun.”

How brave was my prose! Random line breaks and explosive repetition outlining a succinctness matched only by the simplest haiku. The date was July 6, 1993 and I received a happy face for that journal entry. A happy face! “Callooh callay, a happy face!” I chortled with glee throughout the house.

How naïve I was. Reaching that level of English mastery would be a feat I’d never again accomplish. The following was dated August 8, 1993:

“Yesterday I went to school

and I forgot my homework

at home.”

My reward? A check mark—of unrelenting pain! I sobbed silently for a week before returning to my journal. I felt inspired that evening, like everything I wrote would be witty and somehow solid as they say. It was dated August 16, 1993:

“First, I went to


Next, I went to


Then, I went to


last, I went home.”

“Is this all?” my teacher’s claws stamped insidiously on my journal. My writing has since suffered, and has since been formulaic.

It’s been years since I’ve written anything witty or worth reading, thus this new venture. My brain needs flexing! And flex it I will. Maybe. Nah, I’ll have fun instead.