Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Snooze You!

People think I don’t like technology. That’s sort of true. I love AOL and I only learned to use the DVD player a couple of months ago. The thing is, nobody ever asks me why.

Technology changes the way people think. My first car had an AM radio with no tape deck. (Fine, brat. We’ll all wait while you wiki “tape deck”.) Long drives were more boring than you could survive.

My first very-own TV was black and white. Nuff said.

The ideological quantum leap was the VCR. You can’t imagine what it was like before that. We had to be home in time to see our favorite shows, and also had to watch all the commercials. Brand loyalty back then was a matter of personality, like a commodity-based Rorschach test.

My first cell phone was the size of a shoe, and not even one of my shoes. It was the size of one of Robert’s shoes, which means slightly smaller than a loveseat. It was too big for a pocket so I didn't bring it everywhere, which defeated the purpose.

But the biggest change in the way people think came after the invention of the snooze button. That’s when the Age of Entitlement began.

Yes, really.

All of a sudden, no one had to keep their word.

You decided to set the alarm, and selected the time. You could have set it for ten minutes later, but did you? Noooo.

You set it for when you needed to get up. Then you changed your mind. You hit the snooze, because it was there.

Responsibility hinged on convenience rather than commitment.

“What’s ten more minutes?” That becomes rhetorical when you are most vulnerable.

I’ll tell you what ten more minutes is. Ten more minutes is skipping breakfast and being irritable all day. Ten more minutes means driving like an asshole so you won’t be late.

Aha! You’re starting to get it. You see how people got meaner and less polite. (Two separate things, I’ll do a post on that later.) You see where gridlock comes from, not to mention road rage.

I figured all this out while dealing with the consequences of having hit the snooze button this morning. So sue me or snooze me, I’m going back to bed.

Monday, January 28, 2013


It’s a large parking lot. There’d been no rain since the night before. I was there in the bright and fairly warm noon sun.

That’s what makes this all more ominous, really, because of what I saw, smack in the middle of a lane.

A snail.

I hate snails. (Hey, some of you are freaked out by clowns. Cut me some slack here.)

This snail was still alive. Not robustly so by any means, but alive. Gooey-ily snailishly extant. It was trying to move.

Think about it.

How did it get there?

Not during the rain last night, it would’ve been run over by the time I showed up. Trust me, it’s a very busy parking lot. I had to circle twice to find a space.

It couldn’t have gotten there after the rain because it’s a sunny day and the asphalt was way too warm to be snail-compatible.

Oh, right, I haven’t hit the obvious yet. That stranded snail is a metaphor for the human condition. We are all alone and adrift on treacherous ground blah, blah, blah.

Can we go back to the puzzle now? Because it’s really bugging me.

Get it? Bug!

Okay, a snail isn’t really a bug, but some of you are freaked out by spiders and I haven’t got anywhere else to go with this and it really is bugging me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Know Your Audience

“Know your audience” should be a mantra in L.A.

The clich├ęs are true. There are a lot of actors here. Even after all this time, I’m still surprised by how often they try to impress the people around them, as if we-the-public are their audience. As if we care.

(I once made an actor joke to someone I was sure wasn’t an actor. Guess what. Oops.)

But you don’t have to be an actor to have an audience.

If the person in the next cubicle can hear you, that counts as an audience. Any class clown knows what an audience is.

I’ve been an unwilling audience in elevators, supermarkets, bank lines – you name it.

Right now you’re my audience. I don’t know who you are, or anything else about you other than that you’re still reading this. Thanks for that. Big hug and smiles!

I doubt you’re particularly impressed, though.

If you want someone to be impressed by you or whatever you’re doing, then you have to do something they think is impressive. The cashier, bank teller or waitress might not agree with you that your harangue is witty and clever, or that your lamentations are tragic.

You have to know who is listening, understand them, and act accordingly to get the reaction you want. It’s a lot of bother. Is your ego worth it? Mine isn’t, but then I’m lazy.

I’m also a tough crowd. All those earnest young men in Starbucks working on screenplays with their laptops turned so the rest of us can see don’t impress me. There are often as many laptops as there are tables, and I’d rather be able to sit down.

And if you’re going to strut around the gym and curl your lip at dowdy middle-aged me, then you’d better train with proper form or else Auntie will laugh at you and generate sarcastic tweets based on your apparent narcissism. On the other hand, go ahead. I can use the material.

I’ve been impressed by talent, skill and intelligence, but I’ve also been impressed by gratuitous kindness, an apt retort or a casual but thoughtful gesture.

Most recently, I was impressed by my dog. Jonah has taken to doing his business right next to the trash can by the bus stop. He really knows how to work an audience.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dust In The Wind

I treated myself to a new dustpan today. Don’t judge me for my choice of verb.

I sweep a lot (and yet still not enough.) My dog sheds like a mofo, presuming that mofos look like Cousin Itt and shed hair worse than a Porsche driver in denial.

The rubber end-thingie on my current dustpan is peeling off. Ergo, I legitimately need a new one. Q.E.D., and all that.

But yeah, “treat”, while honest and true, is kind of pathetic when applied to a dustpan.

Or is it?

Look, there are things you use almost every day, day in, day out, day after day etc. Objects so intrinsic to your life that however mundane they may be, they are now a part of that life. You don’t think about them, you just use them.

When was the last time you bought new scissors? Or replaced the chair at your desk? I don’t care how rarely you cook, you probably have a favorite knife or spoon. Besides, if you don’t cook that often, you definitely have a favorite bowl to eat out of. Out of which to eat.

Oh, never mind.

You have stuff you like to use even though you never thought of it that way.

All this brings me back to my old dustpan. It doesn’t qualify.

I don’t love to sweep, and I won’t experience a montage of nostalgic sweep-y memories when I finally toss the damned thing.

But I stand by my verb because my new dustpan is nice and it’s shiny, so why not?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bang, Bang

We spend our lives waiting for things to happen to us.

First we wait to go to school then to be done with school. We wait to work then for days off, for weekends or for vacation. We wait for movies to come out, inspiration to strike, and the meek to inherit the earth.

If we’re female, we wait in line for the Ladies’ Room.

Sometimes, something we’ve been waiting for happens. I had one of those this week. It was neither good nor bad, just over. (Knock on wood.)

“Not with a bang, but a whimper” Eliot wrote, although my world didn’t end, angels didn’t sing and confetti didn’t rain. No one played a Sousa march. Nobody danced, not even me.

Everything is pretty much exactly the same.

That’s usually what it’s like when something finally happens. It’s like nothing happened. You don’t know what all the fuss was about. That’s okay. You were probably the only one who noticed the fuss in the first place.

This is where it helps to be a grown up. I’ve had lots of practice pulling up my socks and looking around for something new to wait for.

At least I’m at home, so I don’t have to wait for the toilet.

Author’s note: I found this in an old Word™ file. I have no idea what event inspired this bit of prose. I posted it today because of the irony in that.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Puppy Love

My clever and generous sis gave me two tote bags with Jonah’s picture on it, thus prompting a typical cashier conversation like the one I just had an hour ago at Ralph’s:

“Ooh how cute! Is that your baby?”

“No, that’s my dog.”

To be fair, he is an exceptionally cute dog. I have often told him that he is the cutest little dog in the whole world yes hims is such a cute little man yes him is booboo oo boo, etc. I stand by this judgment.

(Sic or sick to your heart’s content. He’s a dog. He doesn’t understand language per se and besides, he’d agree with me if he did.)

However, he is neither my child nor my child substitute.

I trained him to obey a limited set of commands. I did not instill in him my values, hopes or dreams for the future. I don’t expect him to clean up after himself or contribute to the household any way other than aesthetically, which he’s good at. See above.

Like I said, he’s a dog. His psychology, such as it is, is determined by his biology. His devotion is complete and unconditional, for lo we are his pack. He protects us from ersatz threats like the mailman and UPS guys. When we walk him, he turns around periodically as if to make sure we’re still there and doing ok. I say “as if” because first, he’s a dog, and second, we’re at the other end of his leash fer chrissake where else would we be?

Oh sure, the temptation to anthropomorphize is tremendous, especially when hims is such a smart little man yes hims is. Of course I make the usual jokes around election time about his proportional intelligence, but mostly I’m just tickled when his doglike behaviour causes people to stop whatever they’re doing to pet him, or give him bits of their food.

And (also of course) he is thoroughly spoiled and indulged. So are the human beings in my care, at least as much as I can manage. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make some nice food for Melva and Robert.

Don’t worry, Jonah will be right there in case I spill anything.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Restaurant Wars

This happened:

“Is it vegetarian?”

“I think so but I don’t want to ask the chef. He’s mad at me.”

“Well, since I’ll get sick if you’re wrong, I guess I won’t get it.”

“Yeah, that’s probably for the best.”

That was years ago. The restaurant is still there, so I figured she was gone and it was safe to go back.

Like an idiot, I went back.

Yep, she was gone. The replacement server-ette was just as pretty (it’s L.A., pretty is a job requirement in food service) and even slightly smarter. Underline “slightly”.

“I’d like a Pellegrino, please.”

“Oh, we don’t have any of that.”

“Sorry, I thought you did because it’s on the menu. Never mind, Perrier will be fine.” It was also on the menu.

“We don’t have that either.”

Guess what! They didn’t have three more menu items. We ordered. Food came. Shortly thereafter, the server-ette was back. Not to ask how things were, no no no. She came to grab.

“Mngllbkez!” I tried to say around a mouthful.

“Excuse me,” my dining companion translated. “She’s still eating her salad, please don’t take the dressing away.”

My turn to intervene came when my companion was chewing and the server-ette tried to take the bread away.

Before you ask, they didn’t need our table. Only three tables in the whole place had customers. It was after 8:00 last Monday night, and there was more weirdness than just the above.

In case you were wondering why I don’t go out to eat more often, it’s not the vegetarian thing. It’s the sanity thing.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Focus Poke Us

Setting goals is easy as pie. Easier, really, as you know if you’ve ever made a pie. Setting a goal is also easier than going out and buying a pie, smarty pants.

All that aside, once you’ve set your goal, then what?

Oh sure, you take the first few steps in the right direction, but any goal worth reaching won’t happen that fast. You’ll start fine, either strongly or just pushing through hesitation, but you’ll start.

Step one, maybe even step two, then…

Was that a text? You’d better check. It might be work. Or that thing, you know.

Okay, so you lost some momentum. It’s fine, you hadn’t gotten that far, you can get your momentum back. Just finish up what you’re doing and we’ll start over.

What? Yes, it’s late. I’m tired too. Do you want to get some sleep and we’ll really get going in the morning? You’re positive? Fine with me.

Of course, by the time morning comes around there’s a pile of email waiting for you, not to mention all the normal stuff that has to be done right away. Your goal is long term, it’ll still be there, but this is urgent. Well, maybe not urgent, but it really ought to be done sooner than later.

Don’t worry, you haven’t lost your goal. Before the week is out you’ll get back to it. That’s when you find out that Step Two wasn’t quite right, or you had a better idea – for one reason or another you’ll go back and start Step One over again, or just decide to wait til you can.

Sound familiar? You’re a busy person in a distracting world, it’s not easy to focus on one thing.

The way to reach your goal it to keep poking away at it whenever and however you can.

It’s okay to have setbacks, or go off on tangents. It’s okay to be discouraged and take breaks. You can always go back to it. As long as you want it to be there, your goal will wait.

In the meantime, you might as well have some pie.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Welcome to the year I’ve been dreading since I was old enough to do math. Of course your superstitious Auntie has Triskaidekaphobia, but it might not be as bad as it sounds.

Long time readers (bless your hearts, I owe you both dinner) might remember this:

Thirteen certainly proved to be lucky then, didn’t it? But that was in 2009. Everything was different way back then. Just kidding.

Still, two uniquivocally good things have already happened today, completely randomly and out of the blue. My Magic 8 Ball™ didn’t see either of them coming. I know, because I asked it right after midnight last night.

Of course there were black-eyed peas for lunch. We would have had them on an ordinary New Year’s Day. It’s as much tradition as superstition and almost shouldn’t count. Yes, the dogs got some too.

But I read my horoscope this morning, which I hardly ever do. Desperate times, etc.

And I found a Chinese restaurant that was open for dinner tonight so I could get some Kung Pao tofu. Kidding again. Oh, I got the Kung Pao, but more importantly, I got a fortune cookie.

Apparently my lucky numbers are in order, 04 07 17 28 32, and… you guessed it, 13. The thirteen was completely separate. Not just out of sequence, but after a comma. The fortune is taped to my computer if you want proof. Proof of what, I dunno.

Sure, there are people whose (real) lucky number is thirteen. I know two of them. Or three, depending on how you count.

One of them is dead, but she lived to almost 100. She was also into numerology. I have to figure maybe she knew something, that she chose thirteen for a reason.

Really, I have to figure that. For at least a year.

Happy New Year, my dears and darlings! Knocking on wood for all of us.