Monday

HR Tip of the Week

I've been talking about this subject more often than I would like to lately.  It's one thing when those conversations are work related-- they pay me well. But, having these talks with friends has really, really sucked. Consider this my Public Service Announcement for 2008. A PSA that hopefully, fingers crossed, will be utterly useless to you. It's about what happens to your employer subsidized health benefits after you lose your job and how COBRA is not always the miracle you think it is. Hang on, I'll explain.

COBRA (the Federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget and Reconciliation Act of 1985, duh) was designed to allow employees (and qualified dependents) to keep their group health care rates, for a limited time, when they lose their jobs due to no fault of their own. This could mean long term unpaid leave, or a few other circumstances, but it usually means after you were fired. I mean, laid off. So the logic is that the group health care rates will be much better than rates you would get if tried to purchase a health care plan on your own, as a private citizen. COBRA lasts from 18-36 months depending on the specific 'qualifying event' (or life status change as we say in the trade), but 18 months is the most common scenario so let's just concentrate on that one. Also, we could complicate things by including Cal-COBRA (and specifically Senior COBRA) but let's not do that either. So, 18 months of group medical coverage after you are laid off.

If you elect COBRA you are responsible for both the employee and the employer portion of the health care premiums, at the group rates. That means, expect to pay considerably more than what had been deducted from your paycheck while you were working. That is the first thing that confuses people. Pay attention to your COBRA rate sheet.

The second thing that confuses people is the assumption that COBRA is always cheaper than what they can get on their own. In my case, this is probably true. But that is because I have a chronic medical condition that makes my fine ass virtually uninsurable at the tender age of 38. Gym membership or no gym membership. In your case, you might be okay. So, here's what you do:

1) Review the benefits covered by COBRA and see which ones you will need. Most likely this is Medical. Dental and Vision you may be able to hold out for until you get your next job. Evaluate what your particular situation is.

2) Review the dependents (spouse, children, NOT domestic partner-- separate but equal, my ass) covered by COBRA and see if any of them have access to other Medical, Dental, Vision care. They may be on your plan because it was the cheapest and that may no longer hold true. Or maybe you just don't like them anymore and don't care if they get sick. I'm not here to judge your life.

3) Actually research what a plan purchased all on your own might cost. Contact the main providers in your area. You may be able to get away with a plan that has less benefits (and cost) than your group plan, but still covers all your health care needs. 

4) Check out this resource: www.coverageforall.org. They can help you see if there are plans in your area that you or your dependents might now qualify for. Mainly they let you know about Government and community funded plans are available. And they also have resources about which private insurers are in your area and statistics about local and national uninsured populations.

5) Thanks to the crappy health care situation in this country, when we talk about medical premiums, we are talking about a lot of money. Money that can be better spent on clothes. Get creative with your analysis. If you are researching how much a plan would cost for you, your spouse and a child, still take into account everyone's individual situations. Children often have more free and low cost health care resources available to them. So maybe you elect COBRA for you and the spouse, but find an alternative for your child. Maybe you are someone who is expensive to privately insure because of pre-existing conditions, but no one else is. In that case, maybe you get COBRA for you only and buy private insurance for everyone else.

6) Stay insured. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have the health care coverage, even if it is very expensive. Look into ways to keep costs down, but don't jeopardize your long term financial picture or your health, by getting less insurance than you will actually need or by going without altogether. Trust me, if you saw my medical bills, before they get submitted and paid by Blue Shield, you would cry. And I'm walking around on two legs looking as healthy as all get out.

That's it. Easy enough. If you have questions contact your HR Department or me if you know how to find me. Don't attempt this on your own; I'm a certified professional.

Sunday

Birthday Resolutions

I know, I can't hardly believe I'm 38 either. You're right, I don't look a day over 25. Still, I feel it. It's been a good birthday. I kept it low key. After spending Friday and Saturday-- working, making out with strangers in the front seat of my car, hiking, drinking whiskey, hanging out at the MOMA, cat sitting, meditating, getting a brazilian wax, eating cupcakes, being sung 'happy birthday' to by my gym weight class, buying poetry books-- I was tired.

I started with the resolutions, what to concentrate on for this coming year:

1) Get back on track for remembering and acknowledging everyone else's birthdays.

2) More time on my writing and photography.

3) Using my MOMA membership instead of just renewing it for another year.

4) Buy more clothes!

Because I'm an over achiever, I woke up early this morning, despite a busy weekend, to get a head start on#4. Also, the Thakoon for Target collection arrived today and I knew that bitch would be selling out very quickly. Even though I made it there before the coffee kicked in, I had to settle for a less than ideal size in the dress I wanted. On-line it was sold out altogether. Sigh.

Then I got treated to a movie, hiked in the Oakland hills. Rounded off the day off with a hot tub, massage, dinner and drinks. We had a rousing birthday toast: "Please let us age like Marisa Tomei and not Mickey Rourke."

When everyone gets back in town, you know who you are, we'll celebrate with a larger crowd. Still, I want to keep it simple. Something involving strippers, tequila body shots and an in depth discussion of Abstract Expressionism.

Thursday

Lived In

The slight ache of Tuesday. Somehow, with my eyes shut, I 
see the last two stars get scattered out of the morning's sky.
The pillow gets pressed against your face. I pull my hair
into a pony-tail; turn toward the floor. This day is already
impossible. You lean in for a kiss. Straddling the side of
me. Hip bone to pelvis. I capture your bottom lip between
my dirty teeth. Bite down. I don't know. Twisting, you fold
yourself back into sleep. I throw my eyes open. Settle my
sights on that awkward picture of us, crooked. Against the
cream-colored wall. No one throws my mornings off like 
you do.

Sunday

Broken Poems

For the record, I have been writing. Poem after broken poem. Do you remember when all I did was write? When you were forced to stare at my badly typed xeroxed pages of poems and short stories every time you accidently ran into me on the street? How you hid? 

I don't know what it is. The journals get carried everywhere, and mostly written in. Am I more critical about the free write and refuse to even try to turn that crap into finished work? Am I too lazy? Have I written everything I'm going to write that has a decent helping of artistic merit? And everything else will just fill small black journal after small black journal. The lexicon is stale, and my form can be pegged from 1,000 paces. I stopped caring about that a long time ago. 

Fuck it, I don't care anymore about any of it. There are two prose poems that I'm going to finish even if I hate them and three more experimental ones-- somehow a combination of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and Confessional Poetry. I don't know how that is really possible either, but I keep looking at them and I don't know what else they could really be.  Sometimes the words get to the finished page the same way they get out of my pen to the draft, as if they were put through a blender. 

Have fun when I make you read them!

Thursday

Rightly Named Holiday

This has been a good Thanksgiving. I'm a fan of thanks and a fan of gratitude. I know I have a good life. Even on those crappy days when all I want to do is watch Court TV, I still know I have a good life. Some people don't even have cable. 

My holiday meal was early. I found myself in San Jose at 1:30, standing in my cousin's hospital room and waiting for my turkey and gravy. It's been awhile since I've written about Tiffanie and you should know she is doing about 500% better. She is awake, and talking, and sassy. She isn't herself. Well, she isn't the Tiffanie she was seven months ago before the accident. Her brain is still in a different place. She is awake though and remembers my name and blows me kisses and sticks her tongue out whenever I take her picture. So, she is herself, just a different self than the 2007 Tiffanie. Last time I was at the hospital, visiting, this was hard for me. That time I hung out with her awhile, hugged her goodbye, and sat on 880 missing the conversations we used to have. 

I was a little anxious today. Wondering if the sadness would come back. The complicated sadness that had me missing her 'old self' and being ecstatic about all her new progress at the same time. But, today I walked in to the room, saw her, smiled and just sat down to talk. 

I loved watching her try to steal more rolls when we were eating, loved watching her blow me kisses, spell my name. I got it this time. The gratitude. That she made it out of that awful accident alive, that she came out of that coma, that she knows who I am and who she is and how good those damn rolls are.

It was great to be able to share a meal with my family, to catch up on the gossip, to pile my plate with too much food and then go back for seconds, but leaning down to hug Tiffanie and having her kiss my ear. That's all I really needed. 

Wednesday

Yes, I Would Arrest Me Also

Speeding tickets aside, I'm a half decent driver (well, I use turn signals, sometimes I down shift near crosswalks). I imagine if you were in the car with me a few weeks ago when I went to Amoeba to sell my dad's old records you might have a different opinion of my driving expertise. My step-sister was with me and oddly enough now every time she gets in my car she double checks the lock for the seat belt and makes the sign of the cross. Even though she was raised Jewish.

So, Suzanne helps me load box after box in the back of my car. I thought I was fine. We got on the freeway, got off the freeway, drove to Amoeba. Then, I guess it turns out I wasn't exactly fine after all. Grief, not linear, doesn't lessen by a small amount every day. It's circular. Better one day, worse the next, then better, then better-er, and even better-er. Then you dig up your dad's old records from your garage and so, worse again.

So, I turned the wrong way down a one way street, instantly realized it. Made an illegal u-turn. And then because boxes of records can be heavy, I parked at the corner-- yellow loading zone be damned--and put on my hazard lights.

I got one box of records to the counter while Suzanne watched the car. When I was picking up the second box, the Berkeley bicycle cops arrived. Not exactly to help with the lifting. Apparently they had seen, um, everything. And, in case I had forgotten my driving errors, they helped remind me:

"Mam, you're parked in a loading zone"

"I'm so sorry, I'm taking these boxes to Amoeba and they are heavy and I was just dropping them off and was going to re-park.  I should not have parked here though, I know that was wrong."

"Yes and before that you went the wrong way on the one way street, followed by an illegal u-turn."

"Yes. I did do that. I turned down the street and when I realized I was going the wrong way, tried to correct it.  I don't normally make mistakes like that. I don't know what else to say. These records were my dad's and I'm selling them because he passed away.  And I'm emotional about that, but I didn't realize that it would effect my driving like this. I can't believe I went down that street the wrong way. It's very dangerous."

Then she stared at me for awhile, and turned to her partner.

"You have any questions for her?"

"No"

And then back to me.

"You still have all those boxes left to bring in?"

"Yes"

"Hurry up and then get parked correctly and then be more careful next time"

"Yes"

Then, I just stared at her for awhile. I'm used to things like this happening to me. I know how to remain calm. This is my life and after 37 years it's all common place.  But, somehow, this being Berkeley bicycle cops and all, I was still expecting to end up in handcuffs. And as hot as ending up in handcuffs can be from time to time, I was happy not to go there with them. And not even a ticket.

Monday

True Love

I could write about my own dating life, but why? Half of you readers have already received late night phone calls from me gushing/bitching about it in painful detail. Making you read about it would just remind you of how inappropriate it was of me to place that call, that late, that drunk, on a work night and get me thrown out of your will. And what would my life be without the promise of someday inheriting your aromatherapy candle collection? I can't risk it. I'm going to talk about my step-sister's dating life instead.

Of course, since she is my friend as well as my step-sister, we all know she is something special to look at. If you're my friend, you are hot, hot, hot. No offense to the uglies out there, but when talking for hours to someone about my chihuahua or court tv, it's important to me that they be easy on the eyes. So, she's a hottie and she placed an ad up and promptly had her email box blow up with potential suitors. Some she liked, some she didn't. The thing is, unlike me, she's nice. She had one guy that she wasn't really in to, but still thought he was nice and interesting and had a hard time breaking his heart. Eventually she did. She let him know that she wasn't attracted to him in a romantic way, but would still like to hang out, but would understand if he didn't. I think when she typed the last bit of that sentence she maybe didn't realize how exactly he would take the news. Just so you can can understand his lack of understanding, I'm pasting his exact email below:

"Here's more or less how things are going to go from here. You have two choices. You can:a) never hear from me again.b) Call me before 3:30 pm. Apologize in a sincere fashion for being dishonest and foolishly, prematurely judgmental. We had no opportunity to establish chemistry Sunday. You will sincerely acknowledge that. If you wish, you may admit that your reaction has been due to the embarrassing way you presented yourself, and a desire to avoid feeling as though you were the unattractive party (you were). You will give your word never to lie to me again under any circumstances.

If I believe you, I will say so and graciously accept your apology. You will then ride the BART to Fremont, arriving no later than 6pm. You will call me. I will pick you up.I realize you probably have plans, and am totally unmoved by any problems this causes you. We will have dinner. At no time will you complain or question my directions, you will simply follow them. You will trust in my demonstrated honesty and respect for you. Since you're a free citizen, you'll have the opportunity to leave at any time. Doing so will result in us never speaking again. I will not negotiate with passive-aggressive, disrespectful people unless I absolutely have to. I don't have to in your case. This is your one and only chance to become my friend, much less anything more.

FWIW, I really enjoyed writing this, on so many levels."

Oddly enough, she has decided not to respond. Not to reveal too much, but I've pissed a few dates off in my life and I've dated a few kinda crazy people in my life as well. It's the combination of the two, added to a slightly dominant personality that allows the creation of the above masterpiece. Frankly, I loved the fuck out of the email. Except the part where he thought it was ok to send it to my step-sister. She isn't giving me his address or phone number, but I will find it eventually. And when I do, I will drive to Fremont, give him the chance to apologize in a sincere fashion for being a total asshole. And I will allow him to give his word never to talk to her again like that under any circumstances. Then I will graciously accept his apology and kick his ass anyway. And, FWIW, I will really enjoy doing that last part on so many levels.

Wednesday

Customer Service

I'm sure y'all already know this, but last week was the Amateur Porn Awards sponsored by Good Vibrations. Being a big supporter of the arts, I volunteered to help out at the VIP party thrown beforehand. Also, I made my step-sister and my friend Leslie, volunteer with me. I bribed them with pastries from Tartine. You can buy friends, you just need the right currency.

Leslie got a grown-up, responsible job, checking for VIP wrist bands and making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. Suzanne and I were in the corner, guarding the top of the steps on the side of the floor that had the access roped off at the lower level.

Not many people snuck past the rope to go up our flight of steps to visit us. There was the one guy that when he found out I had a decent camera at home, gave me his business card because his "friend" was looking for someone to take dirty pictures of him. I was gracious, but you know, that card made it into the recycling bin pretty quickly once I arrived home.


Then the guy, at the beginning at the night, that wanted a refund because he didn't like the choice of beer. For the record, those bitches at Good Vibrations can throw a party. Free beer and wine, performers, snacks, a wheel you could spin to win adult-themed prizes. And tons of hotties just wandering around, some barely dressed. There are worst ways to spend a night, Budweiser or no Budweiser. So, first I told him "after the 10th beer, you're not even going to be able to taste it anymore, don't give up so quickly, no one likes a quitter." That didn't work. Then I went with "You should switch to wine anyway, this is California." Well, being a hater of local economies, he replied "You can't chug wine." I happen to know for a fact, that you can. You don't go to a crappy high school, spend your college years in a drunken stupor, and not come away with a few life skills. I told him that and added "bring the wine over here, I'm going to chant 'chug, chug, chug' and help you through this." That didn't work either. So, I took his VIP wrist band and gave him his money back. Ending the night having made ($10.00) for the cause. Not the most successful volunteer. Which may explain how I ended up sitting in the corner in the first place.


Oh well, Suzanne and I didn't care. We made our own damn fun.. Mostly, we spent the night making up new dance moves: 'The Cracked Egg', 'The Vegan Grocery Shopper', 'The Lunch at Cafe Gratitude' and 'The Keeping the Damn Pets Off My Lap So I Can Get Some Get Work Done'. It's hard to put into words the sheer brilliance of the dances. Our next step is to dust off our go-go boots, iron our tube tops and head out to dance clubs to show off the moves and make our fame and fortune. Luckily for you, you knew me when.

Friday

Spin

I've been using my time off of work wisely. I walk pets, answer emails, and watch 5,000 hours of Court T.V. everyday. Also, I go to classes at the gym. Because of my overwhelming lack of self motivation, classes are a great way for me to get in exercise. Without the peer pressure of other people watching and an instructor yelling at me, I'm on the stair master for 10 minutes or less, convincing myself it's more than enough time.



Since my days are now driven by my timeline and not my clients' timelines, I've been able to attend steadily. Two nights a week I attend a weight class, where I keep my guns and six pack in working order. After weights, I stick around for yoga. Two mornings a week, I go to spin. My gym has two morning spin classes: the 6am and the 9am. The 6am is where people who work for a living show up. The 9am is the retiree spin class. That's where I've been going.



It's great. Everyone is at least three decades older than me. The teacher turns 67 next week. He's about 5'3", 90 pounds of lean muscle, bald and wears spandex bike shorts. Actually, except for me, most everyone shows up in tight, spandex, bike clothes. Which makes sense, since they are all in 20x better shape than me.


While slightly introverted, I'm still friendly enough, so I've been making an effort to chat with everyone before class and get accepted into the fold. But, you know, they're suspicious of me. Mainly because I don't remember the Great Depression and because I'm too young to be this out of shape. I think they can also tell that I cheat in class. I've always cheated in spin class. It's probably why I love spin so much. I look like I'm keeping up with the class. I'm on the seat when I'm supposed to be, off the seat when I'm supposed to be, and keep the same pace as everyone else. Thing is, the part where you are supposed to turn the dial and increase the tension? I rarely bother with that. But, in case anyone is watching, I pretend to. I sort of cup my hand around the dial, and make the motion like I'm turning it. Then I pedal a little slower to match the retirees' pace and look like it's harder for me to move. I stopped making the groan-y face because I thought that was over kill. A little too deceptive.



So, that's where you can find me two mornings a week, at the gym in baggy sweats and a head band, being out pedaled by a room of people older than my Grandparents.

Tuesday

So Nice of You To Stop By, Whoever the Hell You Are

So, I am doing medical things. Medical things are complicated and rarely pretty. Aging is not for the weak. So, these medical things are affecting my short term memory.  I will awkwardly navigate my world without it, and then it will come back. And I know what the question is on everyone's mind:


How can we f*ck with me, while it is gone?


I have some ideas. The main one is around blog posting. I imagine I will forget about my blog, or what blogs even are, or maybe, if we are lucky, I will just post the same thing every day for two months or so. Repeat as needed. It's like Memento, but without having to keep a tattoo artist on retainer.


But what to write about? I have some ideas about that:


*How chihuahuas always f*ck up

*How self-sacrifice sucks and new clothes rule

*Why bad t.v. is so fantastically good

*Today on BART someone annoyed me

*How cats always f*ck up


Read, discuss, vote.

Monday

East Coasting It

This may sound like a familiar sentence: in a couple of weeks I will be taking a red eye flight to the east coast for a family wedding. It may also sound like I do not learn my lessons. It is all true. One thing you need to understand is that for someone is so sarcastic, bitter, and exhausted, I am also surprisingly optimistic in nature. So, once again, thinking the red eye flight will be fine and not lead to a total and utter mental breakdown, I book it.

So, sleep is for the weak. And this way I get to spend some of the first day of my vacation with my family, instead of losing it to the airplane flight and time change. And if I'm grumpy when they pick me up and demand they get me coffee before talking to me, that's fine, I am there by birthright and there is not a damn thing they can do about it. Reading that last sentence and realizing how true it is going to turn out to be, I'm surprised they keep inviting me to these events. Perhaps they think this trip, I won't be grumpy and moody and cry for no reason. Maybe the misplaced optimism is genetic.

Sunday

Your Pet is My Favorite, the Rest I'm Forced to Watch

Today, I am in charge of three dogs, five cats and a fish. That is a lot of f-ing paws and a gill or two. Needless to say, they are trying to break me. I go to three homes (well, one is mine, so maybe I go to two) to see them all. Everyone gets petted and gets treats and gets litter box cleaned or let outside in the yard. No one feels like that is remotely enough. Everyone wants a piece of me.


Anxious to take advantage of this good weather, that has led to this drought, I packed up the small dogs and went to the small dog park. The intention is to get them to play well with others, the result is they play with each other.



Two tiny, bad-ass dogs check out the dog park



And promply choose to play only with each other

Saturday

Updates

This week, the clouds cleared and the sun touched my pale, pale skin once again. My first year at the HR Farm is coming to a close and I feel like I had to survive a trail by fire the last two months to get to this anniversary. But, let's not dwell on the stressful bits. Let's talk about the good things. I found myself once again reaching out to customers, just to say hi and check in with them. I rearranged the little piles of papers on my desks to better, more organized little piles. A pencil got sharpened. Three days in a row, I woke up on time and looked at my clothes before hurriedly putting them on.

In other news, Clinton and Obama have worked through things. Along those lines, when I become a presidential candidate, I insist on being called by my last name just like the boys. You do not get to act overly familiar with me because of my gender, you do not get to spend time writing about my pant suits, and you can get me a cup of coffee while you are up and rub my feet when you are done with that.

"It's Janet. Ms. Jackson if you're nasty" You know you're nasty, so stop calling me Rachel.

Tuesday

Your Kindest Attention Most Honored Sir or Madam

It's a very exciting day at my house. Today Lolita got his first 419 scam letter. The phone has been listed under his name (well, one of his nicknames) for many. many years now. Sadly it has taken this long for him to be recognized in all the flowery, over the top, grammar grandeur he deserves. One of his unknown relatives has passed away and he has the chance to make quite a bit of money by getting a fax machine, opening a bank account and contacting this high powered estate manager in London that sends 'official' letters on cheap copy paper with a yahoo email address.

Sadly, Lolita can be suckered. Not for money. But if this man was willing to fly to California, pet Lolita a bit and maybe let him run around in the yard for awhile, I bet my bank accounts, retirement plan savings and mutual funds would be liquidated in no time.
Actually, I'm going to go shred that letter now. That cat has turned on the computer before, with much less to gain.

Sunday

Sunday Afternoon Photo Essay





Fresh sheets and the same, stale pet fight

Saturday

Sugarlicious

I don't want to bore you to tears, but life at the HR Farm is very busy. Crazy sometimes. And not in ways that get you involved in top secret projects that may change the very face of HR and perhaps life itself. No, not that. Mainly, repeating the same 30 minute dumb speech to otherwise smart customers. And there are meetings. You might suddenly find yourself in the women's lounge at Bloomingdale, eating a creme puff from Beard Papa, trying to prepare for a training session. The beauty of the creme puff does not last, and neither does the sugar high. Soon you are almost asleep in front of a group of people trying to present something or other to them for some reason or other.


That session went badly. I tried to recover by giving a review of the new Dolly Parton album and discussing my dog's upcoming quinceanera. When all else fails, bring up the chihuahua. And this is for a customer you actually like. There are other customers, that you want to like, but they make it veryveryveryveryhard for you to do so. Imagine for a minute how those meetings are going. There aren't enough creme puffs in the world to make up for that pain.



Yes, this too will pass. But it ain't passed yet.



Monday

Middle Management

Snitch!

Fondue has decided that entry level jobs are for lesser dogs and she is strictly management material. The other day, while I was in Modesto, she was at my Aunt's house supervising their yard work. My aunt and her girlfriend were working hard and Fondue kept tabs on them to made sure they didn't f it up. She would lounge in the sun, then go over and check out what they were doing, then go back to lounging. So dedicated!

Last night, late last night, maybe it was early this morning, she tested her management skills out on the cats. So, around 1:00 am Fondue starts barking. I was happy with the sleeping, so I'm a tad upset. She then jumps out of bed and acts like if she doesn't get outside that second the world will end. I am upset, but figure it is a dog related emergency and let her out. And there on the other side of the door is Galileo. Then I realized I had opened the window without the screen in error. So, I guess the cats saw their freedom chance and Fondue got upset and here we are at 1:00 am. I let Galileo in and then notice I'm still a cat short. Luckily, Fondue is on it. She is in the yard, trying to corral Lolita back inside (kitties are indoor kitties, everyone knows that; everyone except Lolita). Fondue runs up to me, leads me straight to Lolita and then blocks him on one side, so I can scoop him from the other.

Fondue would like you to know that if you are on break, you should be clocked out and if you aren't on a break you shouldn't just be standing around like that. Also, she would like you to know she isn't paying you to read this blog all day, she is paying you to work. Also, she can only pay you in kisses. Also, you are lucky to even get them as lazy as you are, so stop complaining.



Lolita Says: Chihuahuas suck

Sunday

Five a Day

I'm not the biggest fan of Modesto. Or the Central Valley in general. The fact that I have to drive five million hours to get there does not help (the 580 to the 205 to the 5 to the 120 to the 99, oh my) Still, Modesto has manged to fall short of the low expectations I have for it.

At the very least, Modesto should be able to provide me with the following:

1) Kick ass Mexican food
2) Tons of vegetables and fruits everywhere
3) Good quality, fresh meth

So, number three isn't a real requirement. I really don't have the time or energy to become an addict right now. Plus, with my shitty teeth, meth would be the worst choice I could possibly make. No way could I afford the drug addiction and the escalating dental bills. So, that leaves Modesto with only two things to provide me with.

My first day at the hospital, I had chicken tacos brought in. Seriously, I've had better Mexican food in France.

Next day, I went with a sandwich. My avocado and cucumber sandwich comes back to me from Togo's with ONE slice of mealy tomato and TWO half wedges of cucumber. Seriously? You grow the vegetables out here, but can't manage to keep one or two for your own community before putting them on the trucks?

So now I bring my own salads with me. I think about how those vegetables have to travel from the Central Valley to get to me, and then I buy them and take them back to their birth place.

Saturday

Time is Brain

My cousin had a horrific car crash the other week. It is maddening to sit around and wait to see how she will be when she pulls through. I don't do well with waiting, with the in between. I require direct communication. I like the facts. I like the action. I don't handle silence or ambiguity with any grace what-so-ever. So, these days, I drive to Modesto, and sit in a hospital NICU waiting room with my family. And sit. And wait.

It's amazing how much time and energy waiting can take up. Sitting in the small room, trying to get the air conditioning right, changing the tv channel without the remote, running out of small talk. I stare at the sign in the waiting room that tells you how to recognize the signs of a stroke. The sign is in English and in Spanish. The English version lacks the grace of the Spanish version. At one point it talks about how one sign that a person may have suffered a stroke is that they don't make sense when they speak. Then the sign ends with the following phrase in a 40 pt font: 'Time is Brain'. ?? I have decided that as soon as that phrase seems logical to me. It is time to call in the doctor and get me evaluated.
I don't go in and talk to Tiffanie. I don't know why. It feels too hectic for me. I sit in the room, I pull apples and carrots out of my bag hour after hour. I wait and wait and wait.

Sunday

Dogs Love Clothes

With Fondue walking around in her bad-ass bedazzled shirts for weeks now, I knew it was only a matter of time until all of her dog friends got jealous. In the spirit of animal fairness, I got out my rhinestones, sat on my couch in the lotus position, and waited for the creative energy to flow through me.

These two projects are part of my "Rock of Love II" series. Inspired by Bret Michael's guyliner, cheap hookers and cuervo shots. But then again, what in my life isn't?

Sometimes at night, I look up at the blurry, smoggy, Oakland sky and try to imagine what my world would be like if the stars were intensely multi-colored and maybe even visible. I took that desire and my bedazzler and created this for Lily:




I saw my imagined stars against a deep, black background. A black background streaked with milky white patterns and bedecked and bedazzled with stars. Surprisingly the stars, in this piece, seem to resemble the letter 'L'; coincidentally Lily's name begins with a 'L'.

You never know what in life itself is going to call on you, become your muse, and push you to the next level in your art. The other day Fondue and I went to the vet for shots. Well, she went for the shots. I went for the shitty coffee and high credit card bills. On the way there, in order to detract myself from the mellifluous sounds of chihuahua whining coming from the back seat; I looked out the window at the rolling hills that border the 580 and saw the goats. I don't know the full story about the goats, but they move around from location to location around the bay area and seem to be employed as grass mowers. I was moved by the combination or urban and rural. Goats by the freeway! Not smelly goats that you need to feed and take care of, but pretty goats that you look at while speeding on the freeway. Urban, rural, the combination and the contrast. I was overwhelmed and couldn't wait to get home to create this for Trixie:


Surprisingly, the eyelets in this piece seem to resemble the letter 'T'. Coincidentally, Trixie's name begins with a 'T'.

Next, I put Jay Z's, American Gangster and Dolly Parton's Backwoods Barbie in the cd player, hit shuffle, close my eyes and let the bedazzler and my subconscious do the rest.

Friday

'Adult' Madlibs

Sadly, you cannot judge a book by it's cover. More accurately, you cannot buy a book of Madlibs because you glimpse the word 'adult' on the cover and get all pouty when they are lame and sexist. Still, the money has been paid and it is non-refundable.

ARE YOU TOO DEMANDING?

Women certainly know the many PLURAL NOUN to get what they want, but are we too demanding of our PLURAL NOUN? Take this ADJECTIVE quiz to figure out whether you're just a/an ADJECTIVE gal or if you need to learn to a [sic] little more flexible.
Which best describes what happens after a/an ADJECTIVE Argument?

(a) You go into the ROOM, slam the door, and wait for him to VERB.

(b) He spends NUMBER hours screaming and telling you that you are ADJECTIVE.

(c) You fall into each other's PART OF THE BODY (PLURAL) and you lead him to the NOUN immediately.

(d) You give him the silent NOUN for NUMBER days before forgiving him.

Answer: Hopefully you picked (c), you'll get ADJECTIVE evening out of it!

Wednesday

Still Breathing

Please stop calling my house at all hours of the night to see why I have not been keeping up with the blog. I've just been busy. I'm going through a something or other right now. It's not you, it's me. Well, mainly it is the HR Farm. It is one of our busy times. You may not have been hearing from me, but my customers have. I know they cherish my calls, the dulcet sound of my sweet, sweet voice, but must they keep delaying doing what they are supposed to do in order to make me call them EVERY DAY? Sigh.

I have tried to make time for you, and the blog, and personal hygiene. Alas, it was not meant to be. My days are spent with the calls and the meetings. At night, after enduring the two mile commute home, I fall on the couch, deaf to the cries of lonely pets. I handle the stress the best way I know how, Bedazzling shirt after tiny Chihuahua shirt. Dogs love rhinestones. It’s a fact. Bling aside, it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

I do still love you. Please stop with the tears.

Thursday

Today's Letter

Dear Crazy Guy on BART,

First, I'm not sure if you are really crazy or maybe just a little drunk. At 1:00 in the afternoon on a weekday. Your eyes were bloodshot and you kind of over-shared in an odd, frantic way, still I was doing my best not to pay too much attention. I was actually trying to read the new 'Consumer Reports'. You may have noticed that it was on my lap and I kept glancing down at it while you were talking to me. As much as I tried to stay on point, I don't think I retained any of the product reviews. If I end up buying shitty toothpaste, it is your fault. And frankly, my teeth cannot handle the risk. But I digress.

What I really want to say is I know I may appear friendly and approachable. And in many ways, I am. But I don't do well with crazy. I do even less well, with crazy, that spends half their time talking about how their girlfriend wants to marry them and the other half of the time flirting with me.

First of all. I am tired of that tired old gender cliche talk about how guys don't want to marry and gals really, really do. It's stale, it's annoying, and I don't find it very accurate. Marry her! Don't marry her! Just stop flirting with me and let me read my magazine.

Also, while I appreciate advice that is helpful. I'm not sure you explaining to me that I have not ever been in love was very helpful. A) because I have. B) because maybe crazy people and girls on BART that try to read Consumer Reports just might feel love in different ways.

Still, you were nice enough. And when you said 'you don't bite' that was accurate. At least for the BART ride. And that's good. Because if you weren't crazy. Or drunk. And you weren't overly into gender cliches. And if you didn't have a girlfriend. And if I was even .05% attracted to you. I would insist on being the one doing the biting.

Now, leave daddy alone. She's reading about toothpaste.

Stichin'

So, my sewing classes were supposed to start last night. I was anxious, to say the least. If I'm going to get on the next season of Project Runway, I should probably know how to thread a bobbin and say, turn on my sewing machine. So, I show up at the middle school that the class is supposed to be held in. E Hall, room 2. Now how hard could that be? Well, it is complicated by the fact that C Hall was next to H Hall. I'm no alphabet expert, but that seemed wrong to me. It also explains why people seem so concerned about the quality of education that the California public school system provides.

Finally, the really nice, really short janitor guy helped me out. We made jokes about the uh, order of the halls and found our way to E-2. Which was empty. So, that was excellent. The janitor, was still helpful. "Well, I know that E-1 has an ESL class, could that be it?" "No, I'm all good there." He laughed, he helped me find the number for the adult school people. So, I call and they tell me that the class was delayed a week and 'everyone' was called. "No, not everyone". Then I was informed that the supply list had changed and I should bring my sewing machine.

??

Now, I do have a sewing machine. That isn't the problem. The problem is, the fact that you need a machine for the class was not mentioned anywhere in the write up. While I am not a mensa certified genius, I am still smart enough to realize that's some crazy shit to forget to mention.

So, that was my yesterday. Except the part where it gets better. You know the old saying: When one door closes because the f-ers at the adult school don't even know the alphabet, another door opens. My friend Michele called and had an extra ticket to the Ani DiFranco, City Arts and Lectures interview.

Honestly, that made everything better. 500% better or so. Rough estimate.

Friday

On Cherry Hill

Do you remember the first dirty joke you were told? Not something you overheard an older relative telling someone else. The first dirty joke one of your peers went up and told you. I remember mine. I also remember not quite getting it at the time. I knew it was dirty, I got that it was sexual, but I was still not fully aware of the complete, uh, mechanics of it all.

So, a boy walks into class 5 minutes late. The teacher, she keeps a tight ship, she sees him come in late and pulls him to the front of the class and asks "Why you are late?" And the boy simply states, "I was on cherry hill." and he sits down.

5 minutes later a second boy walks into the class, also late, in fact, even later. The teacher pulls him to the front and asks "Why are you late?" And his answer is word by word the same as the first boy, "I was on cherry hill".

5 minutes after that a girl walks into the class. Now, she is 15 minutes late. The teacher is just beside herself. She doesn't even bother pulling this girl to the front to talk to her in private. She is exasperated and says to the girl, "Don't tell me. You were late because you were on cherry hill" The girl says, "No, I am cherry hill."

Get it? Get it?

I'm not even sure I thought it was funny at the time. I was in first grade. A friend told me. She certainly got the joke. Public school is nothing but trouble.

Why am I telling you this? My lovely step-sister and I are about to birth a new, joint blog, called "On Cherry Hill". The vision is to deal with sexuality and sensuality, the personal and political of it. Geared towards the early experiences. A teen-ish perspective. It will be an open blog, meaning we will be looking for people to contribute. Both people that want to get rights to the blog and contribute on a regular basis and people that just want to email us with items and have us post it anonymously. We want it to be more than words, comic strips, art, videos, all are in the scope of the vision. As well as everything we haven't thought of yet. Here is our call to action:

"What was the first dirty joke you ever heard? The one you heard before you quite even knew what it meant. We want to hear that. We want to hear about your awkward early dates and sexual experiences. We want to hear how abstinence only education makes you scream. What do those sexually suggestive bracelets the kids wear even mean? Why isn't oral sex considered real sex anymore in high school? We are trying to get our muther fudging blog off the ground. We want it to be about sexuality, the personal and the political aspects. We want it to be a mixed media affair. We want it to be fierce. Help!"

Eventually, if you don't volunteer, I'm just going to show up at your house and make you. Eventually when that is squared away, the blog will be off and running.

Monday

Today's Letter

Dear Asshole in the Hummer by Home Depot,

Here's the thing. If you choose not to use your turn signal, you give up the right to honk at me if I cut you off. While I am a woman of many, many, many extraordinary abilities, psychic powers are not among them.

Also, since the chances of your automatic transmissioned tank catching up to my car were slim to none, it occurs to me you honked not because of potential vehicular related danger, but because you are an asshole. Not only is that firmly against my understanding of what the state of California code allows, it also could startle the people working at Togo's. The people at Togo's cannot be startled at lunch. They have to make my avocado and provolone on wheat.

Thanks,
Rachel

Sunday

Meeting of the Minds

"That 3o minutes I spent with the Backstreet boys is a half an hour of my life I'll never get back" Trace Adkins



From your mouth to God's ears, Trace.

I don't normally watch The Apprentice. Mainly because few people annoy more than 'The Donald' does. Sure, his hair. But mainly he is a greedy, misogynist asshole. With bad hair. But, I was forced to watch Celebrity Apprentice the other day. Because the draw of watching Trace Adkins help plan a Backstreet Boys concert was too powerful to resist. First he has to call their tour manager to set up a meeting to review their concert rider. He has to say his name about ten times, and then spell it, and then explain his role. So, that got off to a good start.

Then the freakishly tall country singer and the freakishly bad boy band meet face to face. Trace breaks the news that there is only going to be one dressing room for the band. Then he fields requests for room temperature water, hot tea, and wheat grass. Which is great because Trace has no idea what-so-ever what wheat grass is. And you know, I'm a native Californian and I still am not really willing to juice grass and drink it. Seeing what it was like to explain that concept to someone born in small town in Louisiana, was pure television gold.

And soon, the finale, where the Backstreet Boys ask Trace to get black nail polish for them. (!).

Saturday

Today

Today Fondue ate cat poop. Threw up cat poop. Ate throw up. Threw up throw up. By then I had a hold of the paper towels and put an end to the vicious cycle. Today is not my favorite day.

Thursday

Flight Club


There is this certain age during youth. The early, early teen years. The pheromones kick in. The hormones kick in. Your body changes. But you are still not sure what to do with it all. I love seeing kids in this stage. Trying to figure out what to do with the body that is almost adult and the feelings that are almost adult and the thoughts that are as adult as they can possibly be. Except sometimes when they just aren't. And to have to hold all of this constant, crazy change. Oh my. This is why the kids are just nuts.

It is important for you to know that I was that age once. Not that it is a specific age so much as a specific phase. Some go through it at the end of grade school, some in high school, some get out the gate way too quickly. For me, it was towards the end of grade school. I was tall, gangly, looked older, was full of angst and contemplation. Awkward. And also pretty. Pretty in an awkward way, which just seems to make you prettier. Not that I ever thought I was pretty. The self awareness was being tested. Suddenly, others notice you. The objectification begins. You are fully unprepared. You are fully curious. Lethal, lethal, lethal.

And this is where the groundwork for your future relationships gets created. This is the testing ground, the emergence. I had swooned over the unattainable boys for years. Rock stars, actors. Poster after poster torn from magazines and taped to my wall. But now, the boy crushes were real. Not the innocent flirting of the younger years, but the lusting of the magazine boys taped on the head of a real boy. The yearnings had begun and I was scared shitless.

There was this boy. Who, technically, was recently out of high school so maybe more of a man. He was beautiful. Even better he was beautiful and cool. Even better, beautiful, older and a bad, bad boy. He sold pot on South St. in Philadelphia. He hung out there. He was beautiful. Did I mention that? I met him at my mothers friends' house. I guess they were my friends also. I hung out there a lot. I would sit on the couch and they would get stoned and talk and I would just learn. I learned that smoking pot makes you hang out on your couch a lot, learned who Nelson Mandela was, how red lights never last more than a minute so you should never run them, and that Hall and Oates were gay. I also learned that the beautiful boy that stopped by their house to buy pot to sell on South St. liked me. You know, liked me, liked me. And as much I yearned for that with every ounce of my gangly body; I was not ready for that.

He took a few weeks with it. Talking to me, throwing compliments my way. Watching the combination of terror and desire in my face. Gauging his place. Then he went for it, escalated it. Asked me to walk up to South St. with him for some reason or another. I said yes, but I don't know how or why. I walked with him, up the stairs, out the door, and around the corner. We passed the Wawa and that's when it happened. He ran into a group of his friends. More older boys. Beautiful boys, cool boys, pot-smoking-south st.-hanging-out boys. This officially made it just all too much for me. I was a bundle of nerves and confused feelings and just not ready to be around that many beautiful boys. My would be suitor walked a little ahead of me, to talk to his friends. I lagged behind. And then. And then, I just cut around the corner without saying a word to any of them. I took off in a completely different direction. Sat in a park for awhile, let the hormones rearrange themselves, got on the SEPTA bus and went home.

Sometimes you end up being more flight than fight.

Wednesday

Jolly Ranchers

I am safely home and back to work and even in the actual office, instead of sitting on my couch with my laptop and Divorce Court. It's nice to be back here. Yesterday, a co-worker brought in lunch for me. Because she remembered I like Korean food. And she's Korean and had cooked Korean food. And mainly because she is nice. It was excellent. And a fantastic welcome back. I've missed my co-workers and my plants and the basket full of snacks the HR Farm keeps in the break room. My fingers are still covered with almond dust from today's snack break. I need wipes.

The broken elevator has been fixed. The receptionist has refilled the candy jar. But she still managed to pick out all the cherry jolly ranchers and keep them for herself. She's pregnant. Once the baby comes I will insist on getting access to the cherry ones again. In the meantime, I make do with the green apple.

Monday

Lucid Dreaming

I have a lousy track record with remembering my dreams, but a fairly decent track record with the occasional lucid dream. Lately, the dreams have not been that great. The worst part of that is that I have not had the best track record of getting to sleep in the first place. It's not my most stress free year. I get that. Two weeks ago, I had an awful night full of tension dreams. I woke myself out of the bad dreams three times (!). Luckily, with the lucid dreaming skill, I can wake myself out of bad dreams. Unfortunately, I have not yet learned how to harness those powers for good and just turn the dreams around. And, I am more concerned about getting the sleep than getting the dreams.

I have been, however, been reminded of my very first lucid dream. Or the very first lucid dream I was aware of. It was in grade school. I was in the school yard in the dream, then suddenly I willed myself to do something in the dream. And I did it. And suddenly I was aware I was dreaming and somehow still asleep. I wasted no time. Next thing you know, I was making out with Rob Lowe. But in a grade school kind of way. Still, good times.

I think what I am saying is where is Rob Lowe when I need him?

Sub-Urban Living

So. I live in a slightly transitional area. Not quite urban, not quite suburban. Sadly, not rural at all. What this means is I have a neighborhood watch group and a liquor store on the corner. I have easy access to public transportation and street parking in front of my house.

Well, the parking. Now that is a story. It's important to know that my block is suburban enough so that I know everyone's business through the gossip grapevine. And, everyone knows mine. Which mainly involves trying to figure out which one of the neighbors I am related to. I look nothing like my Aunt's girlfriend and even less like my Aunt. Also there is that I lock myself out of my house wearing only a robe and I never wash my car. Gossip is powerful. Not powerful enough to convince me to clean my car. But powerful.

So, the latest news is the guy on the other side of my Aunt's house. He is an outgoing guy, friendly enough. I forget his name. Which is okay, because my understanding is that he refers to me as 'the girl in the yellow house'. For the record, my house is green. So, friendly guy that can't bother learning my name or my house color stopped by my GREEN house a few months ago to get me to sign a petition that allowed him to create a handicap parking space. Fine. Then he paved over his yard so he didn't have to deal with grass. Fine. I don't like the look of concrete lawns, but unless you have an effective grey water system in place I don't like the idea of you watering your lawn all the time either.

The other day, while sitting on the porch sharing a sandwich with the tiny dogs, I noticed some construction going on at the friendly guy's house. On closer inspection, I noticed he was putting in a driveway next to his house. Fine. Oh wait. He now has one spot designated handicap parking and just took away another parking spot to create a driveway. This is going to create some issues.

The thing you should know about the sub-urban slightly transitional areas is that people are really, really, really particular about their parking. When I lived in San Francisco, I considered it a success to get within twenty city blocks of my apartment. And usually I only got that space because of some street cleaning sign I forgot to look at. In the suburbs, you park directly in front of your house. You feel entitled, you feel ownership. If you have a driveway, then the spot in front of your house, is in case your friends stop by. It is never to be used by your neighbors or your neighbor's friends or those f*ing out of towners that clog the street on crab feed days. I hate those people.

So, my sleepy block of homeowners are faced with two less parking spots. And people are talking. Things are about to get animated around here.

Friday

Last Words

It is important for you to know, gentle readers, that I have been near death these last few days. Suffering from the common cold as no one has ever suffered before. I knew it was coming. I knew my life style full of non-stop-rock-star-like-partying would catch up with me. There was the whirl wind, snow filled, trip to Boston. Then late night after late night watching the step-sister gamble in Vega$. Then. Then. I checked myself into an almost local hotel for a work training session. You think, Burlingame is so close to my home. I can sneak over the bridge at night and visit the tiny pets. You don't know during all that thinking how tired you will be. The HR Farm likes you to learn shit. They pack your day full of classes that use all the remaining brain cells. Then the HR Farm wants you to bond. They pack your night full of team dinners and team building exercises. After that I am too tired for the bridge and I don't really even remember where my car is parked or really remember how to drive a stick anymore.


So I got sick. The best part is my voice is going out. So I tried to work at home as much as possible. People insist on talking to you when you are in the office. "Hi Rachel, how are you feeling?" Selfish bitches. The best part is my voice is going out and I have to do a presentation for big important client on Monday. A big important client in Vegas. Oh yes, sin city, voice or no voice, I'm coming back to get you.




Monday

Las Vegas

Vegas loves a bride. Vegas even loves four girls with a cheap veil pretending to be a bachelorette party in order to get in everywhere for free.


Home, sweet and tawdry, home

Kickin' it old school at Ballys


Liberace. People go through the museum of excessive bling and still don't think he was gay.

Seamed stockings

Disco horse at the Bellagio

Topless hula hooping dancer at the Double Down

At Red Rock, hiking the sin away

Some tree I'm too lazy to look up the name for.

Moss on the rocks


Tuesday

Boston

Hours before boarding the plane to Boston my brother sent me an IM. "It's 20 degrees here" Seemed reasonable to me, until he typed, "It's supposed to snow". That's when I realized he meant 20 degrees fahrenheit. Quickly, I opened the suitcase, and stuffed it with a down jacket, gloves, and rain shoes.

all wintry and bundled


The flight to Boston was, well, unawesome. Crowded. Delayed. The guy next to me kind of fell asleep on me a little bit. I wanted to push him off, but his wife wanted me to take pity on him. Which seemed odd. Maybe they were swingers and that was some sort of mile-high club foreplay. Regardless, it made it hard for me to sleep. I survived the flight and my brother picked me up at the airport.

My brother's self named 'wedding of the century' was in mere hours. It was too early to check in at my hotel, so he took me to the step parents' hotel. They were happy to see me and tried to engage me in conversation. I went to their couch, made a pillow with my down jacket and took a nap. They were not completely surprised. I had been a petulant child after all. Gingerly, they woke me up in a couple hours. I patted down my hair, smoothed my skirt and went with them to Cambridge City Hall for the wedding.

After the wedding, we took over a local restaurant for lunch. Still somehow awake, I had an excellent time talking to the other guests and snapping pictures. Eventually, the energy waned. I was escorted to a cab and sent to my room.

I was staying at the Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge. The rooms were very nice and warm and they had nightly wine receptions in the faux living room off the lobby. I tend to be a fan of the faux living room thing. I grabbed a glass of wine, some coffee table books and made conversation with the other hotel guests. It was chock full of lesbians in town for the KD Lang concert. So, I felt right at home, but with snow.

The best part of the hotel was the drapes in the guest rooms. They had the Declaration of Independence on them. Not the original, here you can see:

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of textiles



This guy at the wine reception thought they were "US Constitution Drapes". I imagine a few, cold hours walking the freedom trail will help him sort that all out.

So, the snow. It snowed all day on Friday, which makes a pretty back drop for a wedding, but means I had to wear a dress that matched my rain shoes. The roads were unsalted according to the taxi drivers and not safe. I was alarmed to think it was the kind of storm that even 'professional' drivers would not want to venture out in, but the KD Lang fan I befriended said "they're all from Ghana, how would they know how to drive in the snow". Perhaps all the above is somewhat true. It did mean that the dinner with the family, turned into me eating french fries and drinking wine in a faux hotel living room, because no one wanted to drive. Still, there are worse things than french fries and free wine.


The white powder from the sky, she burns.

Saturday, we did all manage to huddle together and make our way to a fantastic brunch. Afterwards, I indulged in some fabric shopping. Still, not past the curtain stage with the new sewing machine, but I am determined to make myself some new clothes, since this year they cannot be bought. I went to Marimekko to pick up vibrant prints for some sort of future skirt project. In china town, I went with bright silks. Something slinky, but simple. From china town we made our way down town, past all the brightly lit clothing stores that used to demand my attention and credit cards. My brother was impressed by how brave I was, barely glancing at the H&M, when we passed by. Out of pity he bought me a pair of chihuahua socks. Socks with chihuahuas on them, not socks for chihuahuas. Though, chihuahuas will indulge you:


Socks as hats!

After being gifted with socks, I put myself on the T and found my way back to the hotel without the help of breadcrumbs. After a grueling twenty minute work out at the hotel fitness center (people, I am a machine), I had a lovely dinner with my brother and sister-in-law. My french fry recommendation was well received.


The next day, I had an early breakfast with my friend Shannon and her son, Matthew. She was nice enough to drive to meet up with me and take me to the airport, even though I didn't even tell her I was going to be in town until the last possible minute. I'm glad she made it. It was nice to see her again and it was nice meeting Matthew in person. He has those fat baby cheeks that demand pinching. There are worst things.


Must. Pinch. Cheeks.


The rest of the story involves more delayed plans, more awkward seating arrangements, me spilling water on the guy sitting next to me and finally arriving home to the disco wall at the airport BART station.

Disco wall!

Monday

Michael and Huaiyu: 2/22/2008

The newlyweds!


Let me tell you a few things that I don't like about the east coast: the winter. Let me tell you what I do like about the east coast: my brother. And that, in short, is why I found myself on a crowded, miserable red-eye flight to Boston last week. Huaiyu, my brother's girlfriend, had agreed to make an honest man out of him. Finally.

After dating for a billion years and enduring the world's shortest engagement, they exchanged vows at Cambridge City Hall. It was a simple, sweet ceremony. Scheduled last minute, to make sure Huaiyu's parents caught the show before returning to China. Still, there were enough family and friends there to crowd the room. Afterwards, the couple treated us all to lunch. Now they are back at work. Honeymoon to be scheduled. I suggested Maui. A few billion times. I think they are afraid, if they actually went there, that I would show up at their hotel room, trying to crash on their floor.



Michael, avec bling.


So, snow aside, delayed red eye flights aside, lack of sleep and flat, hat hair aside. It was a good day. Sometimes seeing two people that are great on their own, even better together, and nice enough to be considered living saints, smile until their teeth hurt will just do that to you. Crazy.


Me, with my new sisters, my new brother, and my, uh, old brother.

I look tired because I am.


The day after the wedding, Huaiyu's family gathered in her small Cambridge apartment. Her dad, got out the construction paper and made a huge, red double happiness symbol for the kids to put on their wall. The way things have been going with Michael and Huaiyu, I don't know if they even need it. Still, let's all wish it for them anyway.

Tuesday

Hey, Hypocrisy? It's me, George!

"Eventually, this transition ought to lead to free and fair elections — and I mean free, and I mean fair — not these kind of staged elections that the Castro brothers try to foist off as true democracy." George W, talking about Castro's resignation.

Um. Speaking of elections and Florida and brothers and I mean free and I mean fair.

Monday

Tag, You're It

It is Galileo's turn to be the Bad Pet of the Month. Her picture is proudly displayed in the living room, her name on a plaque for all to see. Originally, I had considered starting a Good Pet of the Month competition, but then I realized, good isn't what my particular pets are competing for.

Galileo, was certainly the dark horse in the competition. Sneaking under the radar, to come in first. She cinched it with a couple of bold moves. One, was stealing my food. I had a salad with chicken on it, but decided I didn't want the chicken. I put the little chicken pieces in a container for potential future use. Once my back was turned, Galileo jumped on the kitchen counter and ate most of it. Two, was stealing Fondue's food. During Fondue's morning feed time, Galileo came into the kitchen. Normally, she wants (and by wants, I mean demands) fresh water. It's not enough that the water glass and bowl are full. She likes to see me, put the water in. She does not trust. So, I give Fondue food, go to fill the water glass and when I turn I see Galileo eating some of Fondue's food that dropped on the floor. Fondue looked at her with sad puppy eyes.


Lolita says: I am sadly disappointed in this month's results. I thought the fact that I scratch the beloved couch every single day would make me a shoe in.

Fondue says: She only got it because kittens are better jumpers. I tried over and over to get on the counter. Boing. Boing. Boing. Boing. Boing. But I could not reach it. I like chicken!


Galileo says: Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Sunday

Memory

I know getting older is better than the 'alternative'. I get that it is natural. Still, I'm going to be bummed when my memory starts to go. It's quirky, but serves me well. I remember what you wore that night, when you said that thing. Please don't try to deny it.

Friday, between client meetings, I managed to shovel in a late lunch and pick out a new eyeshadow. It's spring-ish. I wanted a pastel-ish shade, but a solid, pastel, not a wimpy one. SPRING, not spring. Last time I went to Vega$, I had a new, greenish (what's with all the 'ishes'?) blue eyeshadow and it turned out to be a damn good trip.

So, I get done with the meetings and the BART rides and make it home to the barking dogs and my new treat. I hadn't been able to test it on my eyes yet. Generally, colors good for Vega$ are not good colors for client meetings. So, it's this chalky blue, slightly shimmery shade. Somehow it reminds me of the first 'eyeshadow' I ever wore. The blue chalk at the pool hall. The memories just came flooding back. You know, when they really hit you, and you have to just sit down and just remember?

Before I was Grandma's girl, I was Grandpa's girl. Technically, I am the oldest of 30 cousins, but unofficially, I am really the youngest of 10 kids. When your parents have you at a young age and they are on the older end of their clans, the generations get blurred. My youngest aunt and uncle (twins, please don't ask if they are identical) are about seven years older than me. About, because my birthday does fall a whole day before theirs. So, I fell neatly into the fold and since my parents were still trying to figure out what to with a baby, the village took over.

So, my kindergarten, was very close to the high school that my Grandfather coached (football, basketball, softball) and taught at. Some days, I would be dropped off at his door. I loved hanging out at the school. I would visit with my Grandfather, eat whatever I wanted at the cafeteria, and draw pictures in art class. Some days, when school let out, my Grandfather would take me to the bar with him. I know it sounds awful in the light of today's parenting standards, but this was a while ago and you know, we're Irish.

I loved it. The bartenders would give me change to buy sodas from the machine. One of those soda machines where all the wares were in glass bottles and the machine had a built in bottle opener. The bar-flys sitting on the stools, would give me money and I would buy candy. You have to remember that at this point of my life I was living in the country, with my barely of age hippy mother, no t.v., no sugar, no bath tub, no heat, no fun. Candy was beyond decadent.

They had a couple of pool tables in the bar. Every once in awhile someone would try to teach me how to play. I never was very coordinated or graceful, so I would inevitably give up. Still, I'm a helper. I would take the cue sticks, grab the small squares of blue chalk, and get everyone ready for their next shots. And, I would use the chalk as eye shadow.

My Grandfather let me. He had me on the world's longest leash. Once, I talked him into cutting my long, shimmery, blonde hair and giving me a bob. He certainly wasn't the world's best hair dresser, but he was a damned good Grandfather. I loved sitting with him, with my blue eyeshadow, ruining my dinner with candy bar after candy bar. When the memories begin to fade, I want this one to cling until the end.

Friday

Busted, Almost

So, yesterday, I left the HR Farm a little early. I figured I would let the dogs run around in the yard and finish up my work from home. When I turned onto my street, I noticed two Comcast trucks parked in front of my house and the Comcast guys kinda looking at my yard. Needless to say, I was more than a little worried that I was busted and they were there to disconnect my beloved, illegal cable.

So, I did what any other highly ethical person would do. I parked in from of my Aunt's and, without pausing, entered that house with my spare key. Then I sat on their couch and watched until the guys left.

Luckily, my illegal cable is still in effect. Even better, because I'm dense, I still haven't learned my lesson and won't be doing anything about it.

Thursday

Valentine's Day

Dear Pretty Co-worker,

Thank you so much for the $.25 box of Necco Sweethearts. I felt like we had something and am happy to have tangible proof that it is mutual. I'm happy that you want me to be your valentine. I'm a little sad that, judging by the amount of boxes of sweethearts that you brought in today, that you want everyone else to be your valentine as well. I still feel special, but in a slightly used way.

Luv,
Rachel

Wednesday

Cashmere Lipstick

1. Cashmere
2. Lipstick
3. Cat
4. Other Cat
5. Dog

Not only are cashmere and lipstick the top two items on my 'What I want with me when I am stuck on an abandoned island' list, they are the keys words in the titles of two lame ass t.v. shows.

I know, it does seem weird for me to offer t.v. critique. I schedule my Sunday activities around watching Rock of Love 2 and reading the NY Times. In that order. But even I, apparently, have taste limits.

I hate to start getting all feministy on you, especially with my history, but Lipstick Jungle and Cashmere Mafia are just backlash shows wrapped in shiny, Prada bows. So, here is why these shows make me grit my teeth and get all frowny when purely crap shows like Rock of Love 2 don't.

LJ and CM try to act like they are all empowered and then just force the same broken-sisterhood shit down our throats. I get it; career girls are lonely and their men don't love them. I get it; women are too nice to do 'hard' things like fire fucked up employees. I get it; men don't like to hire women in high positions because they have babies. I get it; girls can't wipe their asses without asking the other girls if it is okay.

Let me just say that these things all still happen in the big bad world. But, if most sexism was this transparent we should all be so lucky. The real shit is layered and it's the under currents that can pull you under.

Tuesday

Pet Updates

Galileo has decided that her over priced cat food is just not enough. In the past week she has stolen food from both me and Fondue. She really isn't the food stealing type of pet. That is Fondue and sometimes, Lolita.


Garcon, the menu please.


While I am still going strong on my goal to not buy new clothes or even new, old clothes, or even shoes (ay dios mio!), Fondue has a new winter coat. People, she was cold! Chihuahuas get cold! It's for health.


I used to be cold, but now I am hot, hot, hot.


Lolita says no pictures please. He is sleeping on my New York Times and he would like more treats when he wakes. That is all.

Yes, You

Hey! Why are you wasting your time reading this? Go out and vote!

Monday

IN YOUR FACE

It is a fine day today. Yesterday, you may be aware, was Super Bowl XLII. That is 42 for those of you who do not read Roman. You may not be aware that yesterday was also my second (annual?) 'Super Bowl Party for People Who Don't Watch Football'. It's the social event of the season. It involves me making enchilada casserole and watching the game on my smallish t.v. with other people that don't actively follow football. We get easily confused by the rules of the game and spend a lot of time switching to The Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. I started the tradition last year when my uncle's team The Chicago Bears made it to the Super Bowl. I knew there was no way I was going to get away with not watching the big game and still be considered part of the family.

So, this year, my other uncle's team made it to the Super Bowl. Did you know I was related to so many football coaches? Look at how broad my shoulders are; how could I not be? Unfortunately not everyone in my family has the drive and determination needed to be a highly valued HR Professional. Some of them are forced to take high paying jobs in professional sports instead. Still, I try not to rub it in their faces when I see them. That would be rude.

So, for the second year in a row, I was forced to watch sports on t.v. (for the record I love going to see games, just not into the whole game on t.v. thing). I took the enchiladas out of the oven, gathered the pets, and cracked open a beer at 3:00 on the dot. Twenty hours later the game really took off.

Even if you are not a sports person, you still need to find someone who got that crap on tivo and watch the fourth quarter. Amazing. I got up when there was about five football minutes left in the game (note: one football minute equals one hour of real time) to go to the bathroom and never made it there. I just stood, staring at the game.

And best of all. We won. We really won. Take that other East Coast football team that also wears red and blue. Take that.