Tag Archives: Places

Please STEP ASIDE (It Could LITERALLY Save Your Life)

Please STEP ASIDE (It Could LITERALLY Save Your Life)

airplane-the-movie-that-launched-1000-spoofs-is-35-years-old-take-a-look-back-at-just-h-486780One result of the many changes in my life this past year is that I now commute between states on a fairly regular basis (every 2 weeks or so) and have to fly to do it. I know you’d think someone of my stature and fame would be doing that via private jet, but it appears that Alaska Airlines did not message that out to the numerous degenerates who muck up my airplane and hijack the valuable time of my pilot and staff with their ridiculous demands.

I think we can all agree that flying, especially when forced to mix with the likes inhabiting steerage, is not the most pleasant experience one could come up with. Surveys show it is often a close second behind prison rape. I imagine that is probably a little less pleasant.

Now that I am living this peripatetic lifestyle (and yes, I Googled the shit out of that word) I have been witness to every flavor of traveler that exists.

As such, in order to keep myself out of jail for any number of assault charges, I always have a little one-on-one with myself before starting this process by deciding I will simply have a smile on my face throughout the travel day, no matter what. The result is that I look slightly dazed and more-than-slightly unhinged (both of which are actually true under any circumstance). But, the response is usually either one of a returned smile and pleasantry or fear and avoidance, either of which I gladly take on a travel day.

After all, my mom used to always say that you catch more flies with honey.

As an aside, I’ve always thought that was a disturbing saying. Flies are filthy insects who gather on piles of fecal matter because that is like their version of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Then after they’ve had their disgusting bacchanalia, having covered themselves in all matter of disease, decide it would be a riot to buzz around your head before landing squarely on your food to wipe off their gunked up feet. So, really, if we are to be accurate, you can actually catch more flies with shit than honey.

This is a statistical fact

You can keep your god-damned flies!

At any rate, one of the occasional bright spots in all of this is when I do my online check-in and that beautiful, blue and green harbinger of hope shines brightly in the top left corner of my boarding pass:

This seemingly small but life-changing symbol is literally my favorite thing on earth – sorry kids, but Mommy needs this!

I know, I know. If I just took a month off to navigate the catacombs of the Homeland Security process to get this done permanently, life could always be sunny. Have you not been listening? I’M A VERY BUSY PERSON!! “Making a Murderer” isn’t going to binge watch itself, people!

The biggest reason pre-check means the world to me is not because I don’t like taking my shoes off in public or shoving my endless liquid beauty products into Lilliputian sized containers. It’s because the level of idiocy that presents itself around that security conveyor belt turns me into a raving lunatic.

So I ask you all this.

Nay, I beg of you!

Can we, as a people, as a civilized race, PLEASE agree to move aside from the conveyor belt to re-dress and put our shit away?

Just gather up all your stuff and STEP ASIDE. They even provide perfectly nice benches and tables, sometimes only 10 feet away, for you to manage your shoes, belts, liquids and computers, out of harms way. Because, you are clearly unaware that I am looming right behind you, ready to stab you in the back of the knee, if you do not STEP THE FUCK ASIDE.

Listen, I’m already letting you on my private jet and allowing my staff to be at your disposal. The very least you all can do is STEP ASIDE.

Seriously.

STEP. THE. FUCK. ASIDE.

Thank you for your attention and enjoy your flight.

Don’t Overthink, Just Say It – #7 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

Don’t Overthink, Just Say It – #7 In The Achieving Emotional Grace Series

 

“Too often, the opportunity knocks, but by the time you push back the chain,
push back the bolt, unhook the two locks and shut off the burglar alarm, it’s too late.”

~Rita Coolidge

 

 

Today I’m going to tell a story to illustrate a concept that is very simple but remarkably difficult for many of us to act on. It’s not a particularly funny story, I will warn you. But, it’s a story that I think of so often that it is clearly one I should share.

The first house my husband and I bought was in West Seattle. The house itself was a 1920’s Tudor with a cracked foundation and smelly basement that would have been perfect as a serial killer’s lair. We both worked at home as consultants at the time and the floors sloped so much that if I pushed away from my desk I’d roll to the other side of the room.

But, we loved that house. And, we loved the neighborhood even more. We could walk to dinner or the funky old theater for a movie. We could hear the fog horns of the ferry boats at night. We had a spectacular view of the Olympics if we got on our roof. But, the very best part was our neighbors.

On one side of us lived an older gentleman who lived alone. He had a pool in his backyard (a rarity in the rainy NW) that was never used and fairly green. On the rare occasion that we saw him, he seemed gruff and annoyed. But, we decided to have him over for dinner one night to be neighborly and found that he was a nice, quirky gentleman who simply had lost his wife several years earlier and didn’t quite know what to do with himself. He was sort of our little version of Boo Radley.

Then, behind us, sharing an alley, was Ginny and George, the sweetest elderly couple you could ever meet. Ginny sported the tightest perm I think allowable by OSHA standards and would call me several mornings a week to arrange an “alley date”.

“Irene, honey,” she would whisper, “Meet me by the trash bins in the alley in 5 minutes.”

“OK, got it….who is this?”

“Oh, Irene. You are a hoot!” She would cackle.

When we finally met up at the agreed upon drop point, she’d regale me with gossip of the other neighbors, update me on her grandkids and alert me to the fact that her husband, George, would be getting his prostate exam later that day.

Our neighbors on the other side of us was a lovely young family – Patrick, Catherine, Declan, Meagan and a cat named Finnbar who terrorized our dog.

Catherine, the mother to Declan and Meagan, was a very sweet, smart and beautiful woman who had been battling colon cancer for quite some time. When we first moved into our house and got to know them, Catherine was in remission and was very healthy. We had numerous BBQs, put up a new fence together and lent each other tools and flour. All that neighborly stuff.

A year or so after we moved in, we seemed to see less and less of Catherine. We didn’t seem to see her husband Patrick as much either and the sound of kids playing in the back yard had diminished as well.

Patrick came to our door one afternoon to let us know that Catherine’s cancer had returned and, this time, it was not a good prognosis. They had tried another round of chemo that had been brutal and had decided enough was enough.

I started to see Catherine sitting on their front stoop in the sun, looking weak and thin but smiling and very happy. I would sit with her sometimes and visit. We both loved reading and I would bring her whatever book I had finished and liked.

We never really talked about her illness. We didn’t avoid it, it just never came up. Only every day topics. Nice and normal.

Soon Catherine no longer showed up on her front stoop. I went over to see her a couple of times, bringing the latest book, but she was bed ridden and in a sharp decline so I would leave it with her mother, who had come to help out.

Then one day Catherine showed up again on the stoop. This time she was in a wheelchair. She was extremely thin and pale, but she was still smiling. She waved me over and I sat with her for a moment.

“Thank you for the books. I wish you had come up to talk with me.”

“You weren’t feeling well and your Mother said it was best to let you sleep.”

She laughed. “Jesus, the last thing I want to do right now is sleep!”

“Well, next time I will force my way in then!”

“Please do!!!”

About then Patrick and the kids came home so I went on my way and let them have their time.

A couple of days later Patrick came to our door to let us know that Catherine had passed away. She was only 35 years old and left a husband, two small children, a cat named Finnbar and a neighbor who would never forget how lovely and kind she was.

I was so concerned about saying the wrong thing or insinuating myself into a terrible time for that family, that I never told her how much I liked her and how sad I was that we would not be able to become closer friends. Because I knew, if circumstances were different, we would have become very good friends.

But, we forget that we don’t have all the time in the world. And sometimes, those opportunities are gone before you even realize they are there.

I wanted her to know that, even though I only knew her for a short time, she made a very big impact on me. And, in the end, isn’t that what we all want? To have made a difference to someone.

Catherine did leave me something: the regret I’ve always felt at holding back what I should have said has ensured I never made that mistake again.

And that has been a tremendous gift.

“One doesn’t recognize the really important moments
in one’s life until it’s too late.”

~Agatha Christie

7 Things I Love About You: A Letter To My Beloved Coffice

7 Things I Love About You: A Letter To My Beloved Coffice

My Dearest Coffice,

With the end of the year nigh upon us, I wanted to take a moment to let you know, beloved coffice (Scenes From A Coffice), how much you have given me this year. You have been my rock and I want to take a moment to let you know of my deep feelings for you.

  1. You were there for me with open arms as I narrowly escaped the life of an unwashed shut-in and an awkward family intervention. You’ve provided me a safe haven in which to mix with other nutjobs with similar afflictions. You have been my savior.
  2. Living in a place as lovely as Santa Barbara, you have been an island of rough edges in an otherwise shiny, tanned and well-pressed city.
  3. You know what I totally love about you? I love the fact that I hesitate before sitting on any of your numerous well-worn couches and chairs for fear of contracting a new strain of antibiotic-immune super virus. Just like home.
  4. Your staff provides the perfect balance of irritation and cool. And, thank you, dreadlock girl, for not laughing at me when I asked if you had hemp milk. I could see that was a real effort and it did not go unnoticed.
  5. Your WiFi has been as steadfast and consistent as my love for you.
  6. You play the coolest music. This of course contributes to my wasting hours of time hitting Shazam over and over again instead of writing. But, I now have the freakin’ most awesome playlist on the planet. It’s like my mixed tape of love for you.
    (Yes, there was that one day when someone decided cross-over country music was the right choice.  I am not unreasonable though and have chalked that up to a lapse in judgment only. No relationship is perfect.)
  7. I hope I’m not overstepping any sense of propriety by saying that your tomato/avocado/lemon pepper toast is nothing short of sublime.

So, in closing, I thank you for always being there for me with a tepid smile, wobbly tables and your abundance of outlets. I am hopelessly devoted to you and I will thank you when I receive my Oscar for Best Screenplay, assuming I ever finish it because OMG I LOVE THIS SONG!!!

Forever yours,

Irene

Top Knots, Amish Beards and Comfort Food – A Love Letter To Portland

Top Knots, Amish Beards and Comfort Food – A Love Letter To Portland

 

I am an Oregonian. I say that with no small amount of pride because I love the Northwest in general and Portland specifically. That city is my soul mate. It’s inhabited by such a variety of humanoids that it sometimes smacks of the bar scene from Star Wars.

I love every one of those freaky bastards!

But, here’s the terrible tragedy in my love affair with Portland.

The weather kind of sucks ass.

You see, emotionally I wear Gortex and fleece. My psyche and humor reside in a dark and rainy place.

By stark contrast however, physically, I am a giant weather pussy. Shorts and a t-shirt or death. I eschew the very thought of socks and shoes.

The thing about Portland is that while the people and it’s environs can look dark and, often, grim, in reality they are exceptionally sunny of disposition. Which flies in the face of the stereotype that Northerners are all Kafka-esque, alcoholic Nihilists who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

Nay, these are a friendly, helpful, welcoming and honest tribe who read a lot and compost even more.

And I, just like Oscar Wilde, have been exiled from my home land. Except that he was an amazing writer. And he was exiled for sodomy and gross indecency. I guess I could cop to the gross indecency but you can keep your sodomy thank you very much.

Lest I sound ungrateful, I do live in a very beautiful place. The sun shines pretty much every day and 70-75 degrees with a pleasant breeze of 0 MPH out of the North is de rigueur. (Along with throwing out the occasional snooty French term to prove you are wealthy and well-travelled.)

But, you are not going to see the chunky human soup here that you will see in Portland.

A clown wearing a kilt and combat boots while weeding the community garden? What of it?

A woman who looks remarkably like Betty Paige whilst sporting a Betty Paige tat across her back with an ironic and Escher sort of vibe? All women (and many transvestites) in Portland look like Betty Paige.

Here are a few other delightful and singular quirks about my beloved City of Roses.

The men’s top knot – Here’s your situation. You are running late to bartend at the new badminton/karaoke/tequila bar you work at called “Flick”. But, your exceptionally long tresses that brush your vintage rockabilly belt buckle are in the way.

Do you:

A) Cut them off to free you of the burden?

Or

B) Twist them up into a head bun ala Black Swan?

Obviously, you are going to go with option B. Cut off your hair??? Not even possible! What are you, high? And, if so, quit bogarting.

Facial follicles – Just when you think there is only so much one can do with face hair, you walk down Burnside Avenue and a whole new world is opened up to you. Big mustaches, done that. Retro mutton chops, yawn. The Amish beard, or “face mullet”, well, that’s still kind of cool…to the Amish anyway. Is that a dude with The Rachel on his face walking into The Doug Fir Lounge? Why, yes. It certainly is. Bold move, my man! Well played!

Which brings us to vintage comfort foods. Portland loves it’s eclectic food combinations and genre-specific trends. Like a Yoo-Hoo and Hamburger Helper tapas bar. I don’t know if it exists, but it should.

Allow me to illustrate the depths of the emotional investment Portlanders (Portlandians? Portlandists? The Portlandic?) feel for their food.  The following is a real-life tragic tale that recently occurred one evening at a fine establishment on SE Division Avenue during dinner.

The young adorable nerd (adora-nerd?) looked solemnly through his horn-rimmed glasses and toyed with one of his lip studs.

“I have some terrible news about our menu tonight.”

We sat back and girded ourselves for some horrific story of severed fingers or a devastating kitchen fire.

“Our waffle maker is broken.”

I actually believe I saw a small tear forming on the inside of his left eye.

“And what’s even worse,” he continued, “our back up waffle maker also isn’t working.”

They have a back up waffle maker?

“So, I’m so sorry but any items on the menu that have a waffle involved will now be replaced with johnnycakes instead. I’m so sorry.”

We all look at each other and murmur our understanding of the situation to our forlorn little hipster as he slinks away.

“Wow, he was really upset about that. Should someone go see how he is holding up? Maybe we should buy him a card.”

So, in closing, I leave you with a quote from my 11-year-old son upon our return from a recent visit to PDX.

“You know what I like best about Portland, Mom? I like that no one cares what other people think about them. I think that’s why everyone is so happy and friendly.”

Could not have said it better myself.

Mosh Pits And Incontinence – Recapturing Youth

Mosh Pits And Incontinence – Recapturing Youth
Step off, bitches!

Step off, bitches!

I’ve been fortunate to have accidentally lived in certain cities during their heydays. In the 1980’s I was in Silicon Valley and San Francisco for the high tech and new wave music boom. 1990’s it was Seattle for Microsoft and the grunge movement.

I’m not sure exactly which city best represents the 2000’s but for me it was split between Portland (before Portlandia existed) and Santa Barbara.

Not sure there is much to say about Santa Barbara…..Michael Jackson’s pedophile case was tried here. Does that count for anything?

As I’ve gotten older and my kids are no longer the parasites they once were, I’ve been trying to recapture a little of the person I was before I turned into the life-giving drone I became.

So, when one of my dearest and oldest friends mentioned that The Specials were on their reunion tour and playing in San Francisco, I immediately committed to getting my saggy ass back up to The City by The Bay to do some serious recapturing.

Let me start by telling you that I have always FREAKING LOVED THE SPECIALS! I believe they are one of the best but shortest-lived bands ever. I am a closet ska girl. I made the DJ at my wedding reception play all their songs, even though there were only a few of us who would get out there and skank (ska dancing for the unenlightened).

One of the steps in recapturing my inner rude girl is going to a concert that is general admittance where one must stand pressed inappropriately against strangers.  In recent years I’ve gone more the barc-o-lounger route, because I say shit like “Oy, my aching back!” or “Is it loud or is it me?” and “What the hell is that smell?”

But see, with a Ska band, you CAN NOT sit down. It is physically impossible not to dance.

This is a scientific fact. Go look it up.

The next step is remembering all the important concert rules. First and foremost of said rules is that one must never “break the seal.” Meaning, hold your pee because once you go the first time, you will have to go constantly through the concert and no one wants to have to go to a bathroom in a venue that would have any band you’d want to see. So, if you hold it until that initial need passes, you can hold it for the duration.

This is yet another scientific fact. See, I entertain AND educate.

Or, at least that’s what used to work when I was in my 20’s and had not yet had children. Suffice it to say that there is really no “seal” to speak of after that.

But, pissing oneself aside, this was one of the most fun nights I’d had in years. It was easy to get right back to that place of feeling so much joy in music that you love while being surrounded by friends that you love.

Plus, I have come up with a new product idea. Concert diapers for the post-30’s crowd. You can buy them next to the t-shirts in the lobby with the band logo on them. Let’s face it, most of the bands could use these too.

Introducing
Piss Off! Concert Nappies ™

 “Not Your Grandma’s Diapers.” ™

Rude Girl is back.

The Ghost of My Dead Film Career

The Ghost of My Dead Film Career

Amargosa graveyard

What, with it being Halloween and all, I figured it was time for a little visit to the dark side. I mean the scary, ghostlike dark side, not the whole excessive body hair thing I usually dive into.

Like the time my sister and I came home from school and heard our dog, Sugar, whining. So we searched the house for her, thinking she got locked in a closet or something only to find out our parents had put Sugar to sleep earlier in the day. True story.

Or like the time I was making out in a parked car with my boyfriend and we heard a scratching on the car roof. We thought it was a tree limb but it turned out to be the disembodied arm of a murder victim whose fingernails were scratching the car.  Not a true story.

But this one is actually one of the true ones.

I’ve mentioned before the unfortunate decision I made years ago in going to the desert to film a movie with a lunatic.

There is a  special horror in being on the crew of a really bad movie. Some of you may have experienced this torture before and can attest to the exceptional pain and suffering involved.

We were filming in Death Valley Junction, CA which is an outcropping of mostly abandoned buildings in the middle of the desert with approximately 20 “living” inhabitants.  The only real attraction here, other than being the hottest place on earth, is the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House.

By the way, Amargosa comes from the Spanish word “bitter” (amargo). Don’t you love it when things line up so perfectly!

It was built in 1923 and was home to borate miners who worked for the Borax company for many years. It was abandoned eventually and almost disappeared into the graveyard of that desert but was saved by an eccentric dancer, Marta Becket, in the late ‘60s.

The hotel is famous not only for it’s Gloria Swanson-esque owner but because it is believed to be extremely haunted.

Some of the stories are of miners who lived in a section of the hotel, now abandoned, who haunt the halls of the area called “spooky hollow”.

Spooky Hollow

Spooky Hollow. Also looks a lot like the hallway in my first apartment.

Others are of a known hanging that occurred in one room that is now haunted by the unfortunate ghost of the man who died there.

And yet another story is that there is often the sound of a child crying when no children are in the hotel.

It’s owner is both a ballerina and an artist and covered every room and hallway in her unique 3-D style of art that only adds to the overall freakiness.

Sure, nothing creepy here….STOP LOOKING AT ME!

Fake headboard. Real air conditioner.

This fake armoire was in my room.

This room had a fake boa you could wear while listening to fake old timey music on your fake gramophone.

You can imagine my joy to find out we were staying in this haunted hotel during the shoot from hell. But really, I should not have expected anything else.

After a long, hot and dirty day of shooting we all checked into our rooms, showered, and hunkered down. I would guess I was asleep for an hour or two when I heard knocking on the door to my room.

I got up, opened it and there was no one there.

Assuming the dickhead sound guy who was staying in the room next to me was high and fucking with me, I cursed and went back to bed. I was just falling back to sleep when the knocking started again. Now I was pissed off and went to the door ready to tear his head off.

But again, no one was there. I looked down the hall in both directions and there was no one to be seen. At about the same time the sound guy next door clumsily unlocked and opened his door and stuck his sleepy head out.

“What the fuck. What do you want?” He said to me groggily. He had heard it as well but it was obvious he hadn’t done it.

Needless to say I did not get much sleep that night. It seemed every time I started to fall asleep I’d hear footsteps in the hallway, whispers or the knocking.

The next day most of the crew reported a similar night. One person said she decided to leave the light on in her bathroom but when she woke up in the middle of the night the light had been turned off.

All of this, of course, is totally explainable in some form or another. But, given the number of times guests tend to check out in the middle of the night, it does give you pause.

I was more than happy to be done with that shoot for many reasons. I was happy to hightail it back to civilization and away from the undead. And the ghosts were scary too.

And, I was ready to take a break from making crappy films. Maybe one day that break will be over….

Best Practices For The Remote Worker (Or, How To Avoid Being Creepy)

Best Practices For The Remote Worker (Or, How To Avoid Being Creepy)

I stopped going into an office every day 18 years ago, so I may be a bit of a pioneer in the field of remote working. At least that’s what I tell everyone because saying I’m lazy and anti-social just doesn’t have the impact I want.

I was fortunate enough to work for a company that was definitely on the cutting edge of working with virtual teams around the world. And, while that company has since turned into a behemoth monster that could rival government entities in its utter lack of innovation, I still am loyal because they made my slacker lifestyle possible.

(That company is Microsoft, in case any of you are neophytes in my universe.)

If you are thinking of becoming a Remote Worker, otherwise known as “self-imposed shut-in”, then you need to know the reality. Because, boy, it can get pretty ugly.

You probably have a picture in your mind that looks something like this:

 This well-coifed go-getter is taking no prisoners from his sunny,
IKEA-outfitted home office!! Is that the Grundälstŭp desk? Man, this guy is rockin’ it!

But this is where you may end up if you aren’t careful.

 This young man, fresh out of college, is currently programming the
next release of the hottest new app but he will never get a date again.

So, I feel like I should pass some of my lessons and observations along to the next generation of self-starters, social misfits and multi-taskers. Take heed, people. It can all be a slippery slope.

Try to take a shower at least every other day if for no other reason than to keep your sheets clean. Plus, at some point or another all of us have to make an occasional trip to the mother ship, be it your company or a client. Consider taking a shower a fire drill for when you need to be in front of people who will judge you.

Always look as if you are about to go on a run or are just finishing with one, neither of which is usually true.This is a way to dress only half a step beyond pajamas. It’s a cheat, to be sure. But, you never know, maybe you actually will go for a run…..I know, that was silly. You aren’t going for a run.

Attempt to have some sort of exchange in person with other humanoids, even if it’s just the cable guy. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can forget how to speak and interact in a real-world setting. You don’t want people to think you have a meth lab in your basement.

On the flip side, don’t scare the mailman by talking his ear off and asking him to come in for a beer. He may think you have some sort of human skin factory in your spare bedroom and run screaming. And, there is the added risk you won’t receive your unemployment checks.

Avoid video conferences. Period. But, if you must do it, set up your environment as if you are about to shoot Kathy Bates in a sex scene. Some Vaseline on the lens does wonders.

Add a small fan to create a windswept look.

Finally, the perfect camera angle is key to ensure they don’t see that you have only dirty underwear on from the waist down.

I took longer to get ready for my first video conference than I did for my wedding.

Go for something along these lines. 

Try not to get too distracted. This is a really tough one to master. Between porn and cat videos, you can sink yourself quickly. If you must, create a schedule around your internet trolling. But, if people can view your schedule, be sure to use code words.

For instance, instead of 11:00-11:30 – Troll Web for porn, try 11:00-11:30 – Research SEO for women’s issues.

Finally, the holy grail of remote working – get thee to the Coffice.  Having a place to work remotely from your remote job is imperative and has saved many lives. You can then call in sick to your home office and actually work at a super groovy coffee shop instead, thereby taking advantage of yourself and your lax people management style.

I cannot impress upon you that a change of scenery could save your life. And ensure you don’t scare your UPS driver half to death.

Go forth now, and conquer.

I Was Plucked By The Original Jersey Girl

I Was Plucked By The Original Jersey Girl

So, with all the woes of the world, let me tell you the issue I am most outraged by and feel there needs more public awareness around.

My eyebrows.

I realize this may seem like a small issue to many of you but we all need a cause and mine is that weird strip of hair over each eye that most of us have.

I have a hate/hate relationship with my eyebrows. I wish it were the style to just shave them off – I’d be first in line for that fashion trend. I know that it would be like not having a belly button though.  We’d all look like something out of Alien Autopsy.

See, even Anne Hathaway looks creepy as hell.

I started out with nice big bushy Gorbachev eyebrows that met enticingly in the middle of my forehead.  Regrettably, this was before the whole bushy Brooke Shields look was totally awesome so I felt like a caveman amongst a sea of thin browed goddesses.

My 6th grade school picture.

As it happened, one summer my mom’s older sister came out to Oregon to visit from New Jersey. Let me just give you a little snapshot of Aunt Del.

Her real name was Ismania De La Parra. Really. But, justifiably hating her name, she went by Del.

She was about 4’10 with breasts that probably measured about the same. And she was what the word flashy was invented for.

Aunt Del had unnaturally pitch black hair with two streaks of gray shooting out of her temples. And, she played it up by having a ultra teased bouffant style that added at least a foot to her 4’10” frame.

She wore entirely too much makeup, tight clothes and high heels. She had a terrible temper, swore like a sailor and did it all with the purest Jersey accent you have ever heard.

I believe she was the Chilean predecessor to Snooki’s guidette.

My father barely tolerated her, my mom sighed and rolled her eyes a lot (which she did a lot just in general), but to me she was an exotic flower that made my heart beat fast.

One weekend while she was visiting we went camping. And, because I used to get car sick on these trips, my parents gave me some motion sickness drug that would knock me out for most of the weekend and wear off just in time to clean the fish they caught while I was comatose.

I still don’t think I ever had motion sickness. I believe this was their version of pharmaceutical babysitting and forced servitude.

At any rate, we piled into the station wagon with Aunt Del’s steamer trunks and headed to the hills. I promptly fell into my usual stupor.

Next thing I really remember was climbing out of a fuzzy drug-induced sleep on a cot in our tent and seeing Aunt Del stooped over her make-up mirror putting on fake eyelashes.

She looked over at me, shook her head and said “We have got to do something about those eyebrows, honey.”

I was still very groggy and confused as she started to go through her tackle box and finally found her tools of choice – a small scissor and a huge tweezer.

She pinned me down and went to work. It was an excrutiating experience that felt like it took hours. There was a lot of brow geography to cover. I sneezed a lot, yelled, squealed and teared up. She was relentless.

When she was done I felt like someone had taken a lawnmower to my forehead. She threw a mirror in front of me and I gasped. I had two barely visible lines over each eye. This was not a subtle change.

This “after” picture also perfectly captures my sense of confusion and dread.

When my parents got back to the campground after fishing, they took one look at me and shrieked. My father was livid with Aunt Del. A loud Irish New Yorker vs. a shrill Chilean Jersey girl. Trust me, it could make your ears bleed.

Everyone got over it eventually. Everyone but me that is. My eyebrows NEVER GREW BACK.

And now, we are back to the full brow look and here I sit, woefully inadequate and never being able to time the brow zeitgeist correctly.

And thus ends my tale of woe as I wait for the day someone discovers a cure for the thin-browed of our world.

Think I’ll hold a telethon.

Scenes From a Coffice

Scenes From a Coffice

INT. COFFEE SHOP – DAY

Disheveled woman dressed in yoga pants and hoodie enters ramshackle coffee shop. It’s a slow-motion scene, reminiscent of a Scorsese film, as the Rolling Stones “Paint It Black” plays in the background.

I see them all looking at me slack-jawed, the citizenry of the Coffice. They watch as I find my favorite table next to a power strip and slowly, slowly reach into my computer bag. There is a collective gasp as they are all blinded by the sexy, shiny new MacBook Pro I unveil.

Oh, I know they have all been mocking me with my archaic and filthy old Toshiba. Undoubtedly taking bets behind my back on which super virus will be unleashed by my sticky keyboard.

But no, not today. Today I stun them with my firepower.

Put your single soy cappuccino away, little barista. You think you know me? You don’t know me. Give me a double espresso with a Jack Daniels back today, small purveyor of the bean.

Behold! On this magical contraption, I will become a famous writer – a national treasure the likes of which has not been seen since….uuummmm…..I suppose I should read more.

Yeah, so I got a new computer. And I have a bit of a hard on for it too.

I’ve been tied to the PC world for what feels like an eternity so getting to join the hip, young world of THE APPLE (said with reverb) is a better means of aging denial than getting a tattoo or a piercing….or hormone replacements.

Lest this turn into some Apple commercial (though, call me if anyone wants to do that) let me enlighten you on my insecurity about EVER being uncool.

I’ve always thought that I was a very cutting edge and hip person. My guess is that most people who are decidedly NOT cool think the same thing about themselves. So, trust me, I know I may well fall into this category.

Working in a Coffice is where you see the coolest people IN THE WORLD. They are unshaven, unwashed, hopped up on “the bean” but are working their stubby little fingers to the bone to do something spectacular.

If they didn’t believe this, they’d be sitting in an office cubicle with much better hygiene.

They are artists, entrepreneurs, writers, developers, and drug dealers who are working outside the system, thereby flipping off “the man”. I love these people down to the tips of their dreadlocks and feel like I am always trying to be worthy of their acceptance.

Let’s paint the scene of a REAL Coffice.

A true Coffice is an old gas station with a small Guatemalan in the back room roasting beans.

The baristas are only slightly higher than their clientele and can also give you a tattoo in the back by the bathrooms on their breaks.

The manager spins vinyl at local raves on weekends. (They still have raves, right? Is that what the youngsters are calling them?)

So, rest assured, if you are at any coffee shop that has anything better than a spray painted piece of plywood as its sign, you are not really at a Coffice (always capitalized, by the way).

Coffices push me to create some new idea, thought, sentence, whatever. Thereby, rendering me immortal.

That, and it always seems to provide the perfect soundtrack to my life.

INT. COFFEE SHOP –  LATER THAT DAY

Disheveled woman packs up her creative magic box as the spell is broken and, amidst many jump shots of admiring eyes, leaves to the sounds of  “Stuck In the Middle With You” by Stealer’s Wheel.

FADE TO BLACK

If Lazy Were An Olympic Sport – My Time With Elite Runners

If Lazy Were An Olympic Sport – My Time With Elite Runners

The other day Jim happened to mention to me in passing that he had signed us up to crew for his sister for a 100-mile ultra-marathon.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yep. It’ll be fun!”

“Fun? Really?”

“Yes. Fun. We’ll hike into remote areas of the Sierra Mountains and bring her stuff she needs.”

“Stuff like a ride in a car to whatever her destination is? She knows there are cars, right?”

Then he just rolled his eyes at me and mumbled as he left the room.

Why would someone run 100 miles (yes, I said MILES, not pansy-ass KILOMETERS) in the wilderness unless you were being chased by an axe murderer?

Or you are part of the Donner Party….who were probably too weak to actually run the 100 miles. Unless one of the fatter ones was trying to get away.

I tried to get into the mindset of someone who would do this for the challenge and the fun of it. This is not an easy task for one such as me. I don’t push my endurance, I lay on a soft bed of Egyptian cotton with it.

These are the elite lunatics who do shit like climb Mt. Everest, helicopter ski and cliff dive. They, like James Bond, have a taste for danger.

By stark contrast, I’ll take my rape whistle with me to take the garbage out. And I live in a very nice neighborhood. I do not flirt with fear and danger.

I blow my rape whistle at it.

Jim’s not a ton tougher than I am. He once ran, panicked, in our front door and double locked it because he saw a raccoon in our front yard. He swears it charged him. But, since raccoons do not have opposable thumbs, I wasn’t sure what the purpose of the double lock was.

We are simply a cautious people.

But, I gamely went along, cuz’ no one is going to call me a pussy, however accurate it might be. Plus Jim double-dog-dared me and no one walks away from THAT!

At the orientation meeting with all the runners I found myself in a sea of the sinewy. I know I have more body fat in my left butt cheek than all of them combined. A few looked kind of like Dobby the house elf in really good gear.

Give me my race bib, bitch.

These are a steely-eyed group with laser-sharp focus. Like me at the Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale. So, I totally get them.

As is my way, I was much more concerned about my performance in this run than I was about our runner. I considered this the Olympics of project management.

Jim and I were ready. We had our Ziploc baggies (a staple for any and all project management work) packed and marked appropriately. We were like a SWAT team of efficiency.

However, the weather sucked ass. Usually, this is a very hot run so I don’t think anyone was really prepared for the freezing temps and driving rain that hit us.

You may think that we would not complain about being cold and wet as we stood waiting at checkpoints but you’d be so wrong. Yes, you could say we had it pretty easy in comparison to the runners, and I could punch you in the head with my frozen hand. But none of this would deter us from bitching about it anyway!

Because, after all, this was all about us.

But, as the day went on we found ourselves talking to other race crews, watching runners come through checkpoints, and really getting into the spirit of camaraderie that this sport fosters.

After all, every one of these deranged individuals had family and friends cheering them on and I found myself cheering for all of them as well.

It’s kind of like the Special Olympics for super fit nutjobs.

While I am well aware that this is a race and someone has to win, it did seem like no one really loses. If you have the gigantic balls to even sign up for this thing, you’ve gone beyond the average out of the gate.

I, on the other hand, do not possess balls of a gigantic or any other nature either literally or figuratively.

But, in the sport of relaxation and self-indulgence, I am the ultra-marathon equivalent.

Can someone cheer for me now?