Monthly Archives: June 2008

Cockaigne

Now I know what a lot of you are thinking and no, this is not a champagne cocktail with a you know what in it for a swizzle stick.  Nor does it have any relation to cocaine or places where you could sniff the cocaine.  And it has nothing to with roosters.

Cockaigne \kah-KAYN\, noun: An imaginary land of ease and luxury.

I thought this was a fitting word to leave you all with before I hop onto my plane – at least until I can find some internet in Paris and regale you with my exploits on the other side of the pond.  I’ve promised my mother to stop, drop, and roll if any of the Parisian “greeters” come at me with their swizzle sticks, but knowing me, I’ll still find someone to make friends with.

I did debate for a moment if cockaigne was the right send-off.  My other choice of word was defenestrate (to throw out of a window), but that just didn’t seem like a good idea.  I’m already stressed about flying for 10hours.  If I were to get it into my head that I’ve given myself bad juju with a word that might cause me to tossed out of an airplane window, I’d have a nervous breakdown.  After a good six or seven hours of me complaining about how I can’t sleep, Sam would do it.  I know he would.  And that’s why I went with cockaigne.

Cockaigne.  I can’t wait for the dreadful 10hour flight (where I’m stuck back in coach with a man who might defenestrate my poor cramped body somewhere over the Atlantic) to be over so I can land in a cockaigne made for fashion-loving, word-crazy, croissant-addicts like me.  Cockaigne.

And I’m off…     

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The List

The day before my big trip and all I can do is make lists.

1.  Drastic haircut to make me look as if I weigh as much as my driver’s license says I do…check.

2.  Waxing eyebrows for the first time in my life because someone told me it can make you look 10 years younger…check.

3.  Expensive new dress to make French people not notice that I can’t speak French…check.

 

Is this normal?  Do all people make these never-ending lists?

4.  New shoes that will kill my feet, but will look gorgeous as I strut my stuff…check.

5.  A bag of fresh cherries that I will have to smuggle in and out of customs because I won’t eat them as planned on the flight…check.

6.  15 miniature-sized toothpastes to last me a month when I could just take one normal-sized tube and be done with it…check.

 

It’s absurd the amount of time I spend fretting that I’ve forgotten to do something. 

7.  Large ostrich feather to be worn in my hair during 1920’s themed wedding…check.

8.  4 different handbags that take up way too much room in my suitcase, but are needed since I can’t commit to bringing just one…check.

9.  Slim white jeans, boot cut white jeans, sexy skin-tight, hubba-hubba white jeans…check, check, check.

 

Sam says he’s staying home with Kiki if I pack even one more thing in the bag we’re taking.

10.  Metamucil cookies for each day of the month…check.

11.  Band-Aids and antiseptic cream for the blisters my new shoes will give me…check.

12.  Sunblock, face cream, leg cream, eye cream, body cream, nail cream, lip cream, and the fancy pot of underarm deodorant cream that I got from Italy…check, check, check, check, check, check, check, and check.

 

And then there are the errands I have to run and the little last minute “tasks.”

13.  Pay bills, mail birthday cards…Do this on the way to the airport?

14.  Buy paperback books for flight…Do this at the airport?  Can shove them into carry-on?  

15.  Find passport…DO NOT FORGET!  This is important!!!

 

My list is several pages long, but I’m crossing things out as we speak.  It’s going to be a great vacation when I get around to finishing this darn list.

 

 

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Paris, the city of love

  48 hours until Paris

The last time I was in Paris was back in 1999.  My mother and I had planned a month long trip before my big move to Hawaii; a week in Rome, a week in Florence, a week in Venice, a week in Paris.  We saved Paris for last.

 

I have fond memories of Paris.  One day my mother and I were walking back to our hotel after a full afternoon of shopping along the Champs-Élysées.  In case you’ve never been, this is one of the most famous streets in Paris – a wide boulevard full of boutiques, cafes, and some of the most expensive real estate in the world.  We were pooped and our feet had gone numb.  Luckily, we had bags of merchandise to show for our troubles and we carried them back to our hotel like a couple of a proud cavewomen.  Our hotel was near the Musée d’Orsay, an old train station filled with the Impressionists and still to date, my favorite museum in the world.

 

I noticed a man behind us and despite his stylish dark suit, my hackles raised.  He was average looking, clean, well-kempt…nothing to make my spidey senses tingle.  I told myself to let it go.  Mom and I continued walking and the next thing I knew, arms like tree trunks were wrapped around me in a bear hug.  I was caught – my arms pinned to my sides, my shopping bags still clutched tightly.  The man in the suit had grabbed me.

 

I won’t go into too much detail, but suffice to say, he found my black trousers provoking.  His wiener-schnitzel came out and as I stood there immobile, he wiener-schnitzeled all over my pants. 

 

My poor mother went banshee and beat on him with our pretty, French shopping bags.  I prayed that my new, white sweater wouldn’t fall out and get dirty.  The people around us stood shocked, mouths gaping.  I was getting humped by a strange man in a dark suit.  No one could believe it.

 

Perhaps this was a Parisian tradition that the guide books had forgotten to warn us about… 

Maybe this was an honor.  Like a key to the city type of thing?  Welcome to Our City! Here’s Some Man Juices for You to Bring Back Home!  From Us to You…

 

Needless to say I’m looking forward to my return visit.  Sam promises that if by some strange chance of luck, I don’t get the official Parisian welcome, he will attack me himself.  I’m looking forward to it.  I’ve got the perfect pair trousers already picked out.

 

Paris, the city of love…I’m on my way!  Just hold on a little longer.

 

 

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Crazy for Crabs

  CrabFest 2008 – Crazy for Crabs (photo courtesy of Jill Sanford)

Yesterday afternoon six of us ventured where few Los Angelenos have ventured before…to a crabfest!  Jill, Francesca, Aaron, Tony, Sam and I put on our bibs and got busy pickin’ Maryland Blue Crabs.  A native Eastern Shore girl, I kept my head down and my elbows on the table.  I was there to pick some crabs.  I wanted to shove as much of that sweet, tender meat into my mouth as fast as I could with no distractions. 

Jill is an itty-bitty thing from Memphis, whose style of crab pickin’ was delicate and ladylike.  One bite of corn, one bit of crab – her petite-ness was no match for my crab crushing hands.  Her little mouth probably doesn’t even have as many sharp teeth as mine does.  I out ate her by at least 5 dozen Maryland Blue’s. 

Francesca missed the tutorial.  Her method was to stick everything into her mouth and then to spit out the shell.  As an expert I know this takes too long – there’s too much time wasted sorting through your mouth trying to figure out what’s meat and what’s not.  Plus, I think she ate some stuff that you’re just not supposed to ingest.  I out ate her by at least 5 dozen.

Tony’s from the Big Easy and I expected a lot from him, but crawfish and crabs are too very different crustaceans.  I also think he might’ve lost part of his appetite by sitting next me.  He definitely got sprayed a few times with flying crab guts.  That’s why I wore a spandex dress to crabfest that I could hose down later.  I guess Tony didn’t know any better, which is why I out ate him by a good 5 dozen. 

Sam knew what he was doing from trips back home to visit my family.  I thought he’d be my stiffest competition for reaching out into the middle of the table and grabbing another crab…he wasn’t.  The man spent most of his time giving away his crab meat to other people.  I kid you not.  It’s my fault I guess.  I didn’t do a good enough job of teaching him what’s what in crab pickin’.  Giving away his meat?  I still can’t wrap my head around it.  What was he thinking?  I out ate the poor guy by at least 5 dozen, which leaves me with the dark horse, Aaron. 

Aaron’s method of pickin’ crabs was a sly one I’ll give him that.  He blinked at the table behind his hipster, black eyeglasses, “I’ve never done this before.  This is great.”  He told us all enthusiastically.  Fool am I to fall for such a ruse!  Covered in crab mustard and dripping old bay juices, Aaron wasted no time in showing me who my real Brutus was.  Novices will grimace at the wet work of pickin’ crabs.  They’ll waste valuable time dipping their hands into the bowl of lemon water or wiping themselves with napkins.  Amateurs.  When you’re pickin’ crabs, there’s no keeping clean.  No dabbing at your mouth with a napkin.  You wear the stains on your fingers as a badge of honor!  I got some shell in my hair from crackin’ a claw and I’ll keep it there until tomorrow. 

Aaron tried to distract me with cute stories intent on making me laugh.  His dad for example, has taken to tucking pads of butter into his pockets when they go out to eat.  The doctor has told him no more butter, but Aaron’s dad raises the age old question of, does stolen butter really count?  I laugh and smile until it hits me…it’s just a trick to eat my crabs.  If I’m laughing, I’m not eating.  I quickly scowl across the table and crack another claw.  Bastard.

When all was said and done, it was a close race to the finish.  I looked at Aaron’s pile of refuse and blanched.  I out ate him by only a dozen.  The good news is, I still have that shell in my hair.  No matter how many crabs he ate, he can’t take that away from me. 

(for all those readers who also enjoy good music, Aaron will be performing this evening at Spaceland in Silver Lake) 

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Love in the time of handguns and hand-grenades.

  Grrrrrrr…. 

Relationships are hard.  Sometimes you can’t help looking at your partner and thinking, “You are an evil, selfish demon-man who should be thrown into a pit of hungry fire ants.  You should be tied up and smeared with hot bikinni-wax and then introduced to an aesthetician named Helga the Hammer Hands.  If there was a frying pan in my hand, I’d beat you like a 5-inch steak.”  You know these thoughts, right?

 

Sam says that he can tell when I’m thinking like this and when it’s time for him to back away slowly.  He says that my eyes get slitty and black like a snake’s and that I start growling in the back of my throat like a rabid dog. 

Me: What time do you want to have dinner?

Him:  <silence> (He’s too busy watching a movie to pay me any mind.)

Me:  What <growl> Time <growl> Do You Want <growl> to Have Dinner?!? 

Him:  Would you look at the time?  Gotta go…love you, babe.

 

This morning I left the house with a bee in my bonnet that was about the size of giant, killer, attack-bear.  (Okay, I admit it.  I was imagining a bear coming into the house and attacking Sam.  Are you happy now?) 

It was 8:30AM and I was late for a Bat Mitzvah.  The entire car ride I thought about what it takes to be in a good relationship.  As I sat in the temple, words that I couldn’t understand floated above me, into the ceiling, and towards the heavens.  A minute later dozens of people beat their tongues and made a high-pitched noise that reminded me of Bedouins screaming across the desert.  As I heard it, I imagined God smiling.  LalaLalaLaLalaLalaLa.  It’s a fantastic noise – happy, energetic, empowering, and just a little it crazy.

 

LalaLalaLaLalaLalaLa – take out the trash and put down the toilet seat!

LalaLalaLaLalaLalaLa – wash your dirty dishes and get rid of those old magazines!

 

A young girl walks to the microphone.  I get excited because she begins speaking in English.  She talks about what she thinks God expects of her after her Bat Mitzvah.  She says things like patience, generosity, kindness towards others, and strength.  Everyone makes the noise again. LalaLalaLaLalaLalaLa.

 

I smile and promise God not to kill Sam.  It’s not his fault that he always leaves his dirty dishes in the sink…. LalaLalaLaLalaLalaLa.   I need to have more patience.  It’s not Sam’s fault that he reads magazines by the bushel load and leaves them all over the place.  I need to be more generous.  It’s not Sam’s fault that I fall into a bowl of water when he leaves the toilet seat up.  I need to show more kindness towards others.  And it’s not Sam’s fault that I can’t stand how messy his man closet it.  I need to have more strength.   

God and I shake on it.  LalaLalaLaLalaLalaLa!!! 

 

(note: at the time of this blog, one Sammy Davis Junior aka Salty Ham Sam is straightening up his man closet after having washed the dishes and taken out the trash.  Thank you, God! LalaLalaLaLalaLalaLa.)

 

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How Much Wood Can A Woodchuck Chuck?

       Two Old Woodchucks

 

Last night Sam and I had dinner with friends at Dominic’s in West Hollywood.  Dominic’s is an atmospheric, Italian restaurant usually frequented by 30-something urbanites who prefer old school charm over trendy glitz.  We got there at about 9PM and the place was packed.  Thursday night and everyone is out and about…who knew?  Not us. 

 

Sam and I spent the whole car ride trying to remember when the last time we went out to dinner was.  In our dotage our memories are like sieves, but as far as we could recall, it had been months.  We usually rent a video and stay home on school nights.  We thought everybody else our age was doing the same thing…they’re not.  We’re even lamer than we thought we were.  Not only are we not going out enough, but it’s been so long since we’ve left the house that the trends have changed.  Poodle skirts and jodhpurs are back in.  Red is the new black, green is the new red, and black is the new green.  It makes my head spin.

 

When we sat down outside beneath the twinkling lights, Sam saw people we knew.  In the blink of an eye we were popular.  Obviously this is not true, but for that brief moment, we pretended we were as social and in-the-know as it appeared.  “Matt, good to see you old chap.  Have you met our friend, Drew?  Drew, this is Matt’s gorgeous wife, Wendy.  Wendy, wish our friend, Alicia a happy birthday why don’t you?  And this is Steve.  Steve, meet our friends and notice how many people we know.  We’re very important and well-liked.”

Ah, it was swell. 

 

By the time our little party finished dinner it was 12.30AM.  12.30AM?!?  When did I become Lindsay Lohan?  We got home by 1AM and I wanted to call someone and tell them that I was up this late not with indigestion or insomnia, but because I was out on the town.  I was one of those people…the people who ‘dinner’.

 

Seven hours later and I’m groggily awake and hungry.  My body reminds me that I am no longer a young, nubile 20year old.  The first thing I thought of when I dragged my exhausted body out of bed wasn’t about how great last night was.  Instead, my only thought was that it wasn’t worth it.  This old woodchuck is better off eating dinner with the rest of the geriatrics…at 6pm, in her kitchen, with a book at the ready for afterwards.  9PM dinner…what was I thinking?

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Common Courtesy

How late is too late?  15minutes?  30?  An hour?

Yesterday I went to get my fantastic new dress tailored for Paris.  I had called a day in advance, set up an appointment, and then shockingly, I kept the appointment.  The tailor on the other hand, strolled in exactly one hour later.  Perhaps 2PM was a more convenient time for her.  Or maybe she was chained to a storage unit near the airport.  I’ll never know…

Whenever I’m late I call.  Kiki has upset stomach.  An LADWP truck has blocked me in and as soon as the guy climbs out of the manhole, I’ll be at your party with the McFlurries.  This is called common courtesy.  Common: shared by two or more people.  Courtesy: polite or considerate behavior; good manners. 

Years ago in Paris, I splurged on a one of a kind white, wool day dress.  I lent it to an ex-friend of mine who needed something gorgeous to wear to a movie premier.  I was happy to help until A) It took her forever to return it…and B) she gave it back to me dirty and missing an irreplacable button.  You’re welcome?

Recently, a woman I know made plans with me to see a movie.  We sat on my sofa and purchased the tickets online…and by we, I mean I purchased them.  She just picked out where she wanted us to sit.  The next night comes and she doesn’t show.  I finally call her, which is when she tells me that she’s not feeling well and that her husband was supposed to phone me earlier and let me know.  I went to the movies alone that night…and I still have that extra ticket if anybody wants it.

And then there’s the dog guy.  His dog attacked and hurt Kiki Wonder last Easter.  He came to my home and gave me half of what the vet bill was, promising to mail me the rest in a week.  Then he returned later that day and gave me a tub of tapioca. (???)  Never saw the check, but the man calls me every few months and leaves messages about his dead grandmother.  I haven’t picked up in a year, but that doesn’t seem to penetrate old tapioca head.  I assume he really enjoys leaving weird messages.

Treat others how you would want them to treat you.  If I’m doing that, if I’m rushing to be on time, and drycleaning your dress after I borrow it, and paying for your pit bull’s surgery when my 12lb Shih Tzu/Brussels Griffon attacks him…well then, I’m going to tell you when you’re rude.  I may even show you this entry and ask you if the term ‘common curtesy’ resonates in your vocabulary…or if it’s something the hammer and I are going to need to teach you.

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