Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dear Oprah

Dear Oprah,

We've been together a long time. I've watched your show for ages. I've even been to several of them. I hoped and hoped one of the ones I attended would be about what not to wear or even the famous giveaway show but that never happened. You did give me a very nice globe at your show about what the world thinks of the U.S. There was no giveaway at the show about the abusive alcoholic husband. After that one I decided to stop going for awhile because the topics kept getting heavier and heavier. I figured maybe it was me. But I don't hold a grudge. It was very cool just to be in your studio hanging with you. BTW, thanks for the globe--it is in Boy #2's bedroom and he really likes it. I don't need another laptop or a teeny-tiny video camera anyway.

We've been together thru good and bad hair days, various diets, the whole Tom Cruise-jumping-on-the-couch-thing, book club. We even went to that Grammy event together. I could definitely see you, me and Gayle together on the next road trip. We have so many good memories, you and I. That's why I'm a little confused about something. I have been a loyal subscriber to your magazine, O, for years. I recently bought subscriptions as gifts for a couple of friends at the price of $18 per year. That's why I was so surprised to get a bill for my own renewal at $28 per year. I called the magazine customer service line last night and spoke with Jenny. I told her I thought the regular price was $24 per year. "OK, we can make it $24," she said. "But I just paid $18 each for gift subscriptions," I said. "OK," she said, "we can make it $18." I never realized I could set my own price. Have magazine subscriptions become like airplane tickets--where every passenger pays a different price? And shouldn't loyal returning customers get the best price without having to call and ask for it?

I'm not mad or anything--don't get me wrong--I'm just wondering. It's no big deal--and I'm not going to let this affect our relationship. We'll still see each other every weekday. Oh, did you know we don't live too far from each other in CA? If you are down my way and want to come hang just give me a call. Jen-Jen and Gayle can come too--it'll be a girl thing. I'll pick up some sushi and get the pomtinis ready. See you soon!!

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Last week was kind of hectic here. Mr. Minivan's father passed away and we had a ton of company. Friends, relatives, and other assorted visitors. Nice to see everyone--not so nice why we were seeing everyone. Anyway, Mr. Minivan's brother--we'll just call him Doug--stayed with us for about a week. It was lovely to have him and in between composing a eulogy, demanding expensive out-of-season berries and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, and trying to beat Boy #2 in ping-pong, he came up with a few decorating ideas for me. "You need a TV cabinet to put all this equipment in. I don't like the table the kids' computer is on. And you need a new computer chair." He also had a solution--"Let's go to IKEA and get some things and I'll put them together." Naively, believing he was the handier of the brothers, I went along with his idea. I guess I had forgotten about the magic of IKEA. A few years ago I bought a CD tower there and got to work. 200 parts, 4 hours, and a sore shoulder later, I had it put together. I seem to remember at the time thinking, "I'll never do that again." But, of course, I forgot that soon after. Anyway, we set off to IKEA, over the hill and through Burbank, and emerged with an "antique stained" wood TV cabinet, a small computer desk, and a very comfortable computer chair that somehow fit into an almost-flat box.

We got home and he began to work. I was online in the next room, surfing to the comforting sound of an electric screwdriver when the first sounds of trouble disturbed me. "Oh no!" he said. "What??!!" I asked as I ran into the other room. "False alarm," he answered. A few minutes later, "Oh, no!" and then,"Sh%$^t!!" That didn't sound so false to me. "What, what??!!" I asked again. Turns out that the instructions, sketches really, with not a word of English or even Swedish in sight, were a little confusing, and that the cabinet doors or maybe the shelves, were put on backwards, and were difficult to remove. And when I say "were put on backwards", I think you know by whom. The cabinet was functional, but not as attractive as it was supposed to be. All of a sudden I remembered why I had made that mental note a few years ago to only buy items I could carry alone--not furniture--that is, at IKEA. But I also remembered my new mantra "Don't sweat the small stuff" and I told him not to worry about it. But he worried and stewed. "Maybe I can take the doors off and drill holes on the other side," he said. "Don't worry about it. You've done enough," I said. More than, in fact. "Why don't we take it back and get another one and I'll put it together." I stared at him. I mean, I've heard that "measure twice, cut once" thing, but this seemed a little extreme to me. "Well," I said, "if you and Mr. Minivan want to load this thing into my van and take it back you can but I'm not going back there."

So that's exactly what they did. And our friends at IKEA gave them a really hard time about returning it but after a long conversation with several employees and the manager, agreed to keep the cabinet and put it together properly. Which, as I thought about it, was a win-win. For me, that is. I went back the other day and picked it up. I told the guy helping me that I needed the name and number of the guy who put it together because he was probably going to be my next husband. He laughed as if it were a joke....can you believe that?

The cabinet looks great in our family room. IKEA's not so bad after all. I was just browsing through the catalog and there is this cute little coffee table....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A perfect morning? Not eggs-actly

Today Mr. Minivan and I went to a bar/Mexican restaurant to watch the Bears game. Or at least, he went to watch the Bears game. Here in LA, the game started at 10 AM. We walked into this big place with tons of TVs all over, each with little team pennants on them showing which game was on which TV. I noticed many people with football jerseys and caps on. I thought it was only kids who wore team jerseys but I guess I was wrong. Women, too, had jerseys on and some had even flashdanced them up--scissoring them into sexy little tops. I felt as if I were at a costume party without a costume on. And one of the many strange things I noticed this morning was that there were tons of Philadelphia Eagles fans there--all in proper costume. Has everyone from Philadelphia moved to LA? It sort of felt like it.

Mr. Minivan ordered breakfast--huevos rancheros, while I decided to wait. People who came in after us and ordered got served, but no huevos appeared at our table. You would think that for the kitchen in a Mexican restaurant to put out an order of huevos rancheros it would not be a big deal but apparently it was. After about 40 minutes he decided to check on his order. The cute bartender said she would check on it. She came back 5 or so minutes later and said they were working on it. 15 minutes later we checked again. This time a manager said he would check on it and never came back. Yet another cute bartender or waitress checked. Still working on it--but this time she showed us a piece of paper and said "I put the order in!", which, of course, made us feel much better. Finally finally his breakfast arrived. And here's the clincher--as she put the plate of eggs, rice, and beans in front of him she asked, "Do you need silverware with that?" Um....yes, that's how one usually eats eggs. You want some giggles or eyelash batting----maybe a beer or a very simple mixed drink--she's your girl. You want some silverware or some ice in your water--maybe not. So now my theory is that you need some sort of IQ test to work there but that they take all the low scores because the manager is so stupid he thinks the lower scores are better--like in golf.

The Eagles fans occasionally burst into song, singing the Eagles fight song. How cute. I ended up eating nachos for breakfast--not that there's anything wrong with that. Next week we get DirectTV, and I won't have to leave my house to not watch the game. And the service at my house will be much better. I, at least, will come back to tell you you're not getting any food. Oh yeah, and I hear that the Bears crushed Detroit. Another beautiful Sunday in LA.

Friday, September 15, 2006

This Little Piggy Went To....

My toenail is hanging by a thread. There. I said it. Yes, it's gross. Very very gross. About a month ago I smacked my big toe on a brick stair wearing very cute and oh-so-fashionable flip-flops. At first I thought the nail would survive, even with all the blood and pain. Then, shortly after, I started to think maybe not. But last night, after I once again smacked the same toe on Boy #1's size 12 tennis shoes lying in the middle of the kitchen, I was sure. Toenails are not supposed to be standing up on your toe, are they? I have consulted with a friend, a toenail expert who has lost several of her own, and she has instructed me to do nothing. "It will fall off by itself when it is ready," she told me. "Leave it alone." So I am leaving it alone. I got a 9-toe pedicure today. At least the survivors will look adorable.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Message Received

As my close personal friend Oprah says, sometimes the universe has a way of sending you a message. Sometimes it's a big message like don't drink and drive and get busted and spew bigoted garbage if you're a big movie star or anyone else for that matter. Sometimes it's a somewhat smaller message. Today I got a little message by special delivery.

Today I went shopping with a friend. The first store we went to was a local sort-of-drugstore. You know the kind--they sell everything from school supplies to toilet paper to self-serve candy by the pound to make-up and hair products. Well, this time it was the hair products that got me. I got sucked into their "Buy 2 Get the 3rd at 1/2 Price" offer and found 3 supposedly fabulous products that I don't need. And I truly mean that. I only wish I had the self-restraint of one of my friends who, several years ago, told me that she had a new policy that she wasn't buying any new hair products til she used up what she already had--because as we all know, once you buy something new you never go back and use up all the half-used-up products you already have.

So I bought the 2 and got the 3rd at half price and took the plastic bag from the salesclerk and continued on my merry way to a few more stores. I browsed and looked but didn't buy anything else til the last store where I bought a new belt. Or maybe two. OK, three--but they were deeeeeply discounted. Anyway, I got home and realized that I had the bag with the belts but not the bag with the hair products. I called the drugstore to see if I had possibly left it there or maybe someone had turned it in and was told no. I then called the other places I had been to and--no bag.

I decided to go back to the stores and search myself. It's not that I don't trust people. It's just that I trust myself more. If you've met half my parents you know where my suspicious nature comes from. I can't say any more than that on this subject or I may find the locks changed when I get back to my parents' house tonight. Anyway, I went back to the drugstore and asked if maybe the bag had been turned in since I had called. The saleswoman felt my pain and felt really bad but--no bag. So I retraced my steps to all the places I had been and once again no bag. Then I decided to go back to the drugstore and leave my phone number in case the bag with my products turned up again. The saleswoman who had helped me said, "We were looking for you. We ran down the street looking for you after you left. A minute or two after you left a woman with long blond hair came in with the bag and the three products you bought and wanted to return them. She said her husband had bought them for her. We said--but these were just purchased and she said--OK I'll keep them." Well, the saleswoman and I both knew that she'd come back another time and try to return them. A little shocking and a lot scummy, right? Not to mention that her hair was straight and even the dumbest husband probably wouldn't purchase curly-hair products for her. I guess the peroxide had gotten to her.

So I am looking on the positive side. I don't have 3 more products that I don't need. I don't have 3 more products that I may not like and will feel guilty about every time I reach past them to get to the products I do like. The universe has sent me a message and all I have to say is "Got it."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Star-ry Star-ry Night

Most Saturday nights I can barely make it through Weekend Update. Last night, however, I stayed up late and had tons of energy. No Red Bull required.

Mr. Minivan and I went to a very cool, very Hollywood, party held at producer and composer David Foster's estate in Malibu. David Foster has won 14 Grammys and written tons of songs you would know. He's worked with Celine Dion, Earth, Wind and Fire, Whitney Houston, Kenny Loggins, Kenny Rogers, and on and on and on. Oh, yeah, and Barbra Streisand. For those of you who watch such things, he was on American Idol this last season, too. Anyway, this event--A Starry Night -- was given by the Grammy Foundation, which Foster is very active in, honoring L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for his work and commitment to youth and education.

We arrived at Foster's private street in Malibu and were directed to a large field where a valet took our car. Then we were quickly transported by shuttle bus past a guard gate and past other houses on the street. I wondered if he invited the neighbors--if that's considered proper etiquette in L.A. I sort of felt like we were on a tour as we entered his grounds. Lush foliage, beautiful flowers, long winding road. We were let off on his front lawn. The huge house loomed above us like a castle. Many stairs led up to the house but, of course, anyone going to the house did not have to take the stairs. A very fancy funicular was also available. We, however, were not going anywhere near the house. The cocktail part of the evening took place on the lawn. Bars were set up all over, and waiters strolled the grounds, offering hors d'ouerves. We chatted with a bunch of nice people, all in the music business. Lots of networking going on on the lawn.
We met Johnny and Laura, who are going to Tony Bennett's birthday party in a week or so. They were both lovely and very friendly. Laura gave me her card and said "Call me--you're new here." Note to self: I need cards.
We watched the red carpet area from a distance, and saw lots of stars arriving. Dionne Warwick got there at the same time we did. I didn't quite understand her outfit--pink jacket with subtle sequined stripes, red top underneath, pink pants with sequined flowers--but what do I know about music legends and their fashion choices? Donald Trump arrived in a huge limo. Too bad, I was expecting a helicopter just like in "The Apprentice." Melania wasn't with him. I guess she was at home changing diapers. During cocktails we mingled with Eric Benet, Josh Groban, and probably others I didn't recognize. You see what years of listening to talk radio does to you?

After a while we were led into the dining area--Foster's tennis courts. About 45 tables of 12 were squished together on the courts in front of a stage. We were two tables away from Foster's table where The Donald, Oprah (white pantsuit, white cami, verrrry curly hair), Steadman, and Oprah's friend Gayle King sat. Oh, then Quincy Jones and Babyface arrived and sat down at their table. One of the guys from ZZ Top--Billy Gibbons-- was there and so was Foster's neighbor, Dick Van Dyke.

Dinner was served around 9:00--a salad, some sort of chicken, mashed potaoes, and green beans all tied up in a little bunch. I asked our waiter if Oprah was eating the same food as everyone else. He said he'd check on it when he could. Soon the show began. David Foster welcomed everyone to his house, which, it turns out, is not his, or, at least, soon will not be his. He is going through or has just gone through a divorce (from his wife Linda Thompson Jenner, who was Elvis's girlfriend way back when and was married to Bruce Jenner before marrying Foster) and his wife is getting the house.

Comedian George Lopez opened the show and introduced the mayor. Antonio Villaraigosa is the first Hispanic mayor of L.A. in over one hundred years and all I can say is "Please, Mr. Mayor, stick to politics, and leave the comedy to trained professionals." Villaraigosa is a tiny little guy and is very commited to improving the lives of at-risk youth through after-school programs and other positive activities.

Then Foster came back out and introduced a group of very talented young people who had spent the summer at "Grammy camp". They played a jazzy number or two and were excellent. The oldest one was 19 and the drummer was 15.
Then the real show started. Natasha Bedingfield sang "Unwritten" and "Wild Horses". She was great. After she was done, she told Foster that she would love to be the next Mrs. Foster and didn't need a castle like this house. He asked her if she was single, which became a running joke during the evening. He told her he had a song for her and played a few bars of "Here Comes the Bride." The audience laughed. Those wild and crazy Hollywood folks, right?

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmunds performed and Oprah was rockin' out to his music. He was fantastic. I finally get why chicks dig singers. He sang three songs including a medley of Boyz II Men songs which he had written. Eric Benet really worked the crowd walking to the stage from the floor, stopping often to sing soulfully to different women and hold their hands. He sang "The Last Time" --with lyrics "This is the last time I'll fall in love."--which according to what we've all read, is not true. He was wearing a white sport coat.

Foster's young discovery Renee Olstead came out and was awesome. He asked her if she was single. Big laugh from the crowd. At some point Foster came out and said. "I took my stepson out to the back 40 (??) and said, "One day, son, this will all belong to your ex-wife." Ba-dum. Big laugh again. It is--was--his house. You have to be polite.

BeBe Winans and saxophonist Dave Koz came out and BeBe sang a song he wrote called "I Care". Dave Koz is a tiny little guy, too, but plays big on the sax. They were great. After the song Dave Koz told us that Foster (who I forgot to mention played piano for all the singers) had written "the best song ever for the sax", the theme from "St. Elmo's Fire" and that Koz had learned it when he was 15 and would love to play a little of it with Foster. So they did. It was great--everyone recognizes that song. BeBe Winans was also wearing a white sport coat. This could be a new trend. You heard it here first.

The waiter reported back to me that Oprah ate what everyone else did. That concerned me a little because I believe mashed potatoes are one of her trigger foods. I saw Gayle get up and figured she was going to the bathroom. So of course I got up, too. She stopped at another table to talk with someone and I went to the ladies' room. I figured I'd wait for her there. Oh--the bathrooms--The nicest. Port-a-potties. Ever. Stalls, running water, real soap, those helpful seat covers. Delightful. Of course, Gayle never showed so I headed back. I ran into BeBe Winans and told him he was fabulous. Our eyes met. For a minute we had a moment. He said thanks. I asked if he was from Chicago (He does know Oprah)--no, he's from Detroit. The moment was over.

One of the guys at our table, a very connected independent music promoter asked if there was anyone I wanted to meet. Of course, I said Oprah, but she was the only one he didn't know. I thought about meeting Trump, but I was afraid I'd be so mesmerized by that hair that I would embarrass myself. I also don't like to interrupt these people while they're eating. Besides, I didn't bring my camera. Next time I will.

Josh Groban--another small guy with a big big voice--got up to sing. Apparently Gayle King looooves Josh, so they had a little exchange before he began. He wore a black untucked shirt and jeans. And messy hair. I know he's a music guy and all, but would it have killed him to tuck in his shirt or maybe comb his hair? If I were his mother I wouldn't have let him go to a fancy party looking like this. I know this is evidence that I'm getting old, but I'm just saying....
His voice belongs to a much older, much bigger man. He started off with a beautiful song in Italian--maybe from an opera--I don't know. After that song he said with a wink, "Gayle, that was for you." Then he said "I had to sing this next one" and sang a beautiful version of "Starry Starry Night." What a great voice!

Dionne Warwick closed the show. And guess what? David Foster asked her if she was single. "Yes," she answered, "and I'm going to stay that way!" Now THAT was funny. She opened with "I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again" and then sang "What the World Needs Now is Love." Make up your mind, Dionne.

Then we grabbed our goody bags and caught the next shuttle back to the parking lot and back to real life. Just another day in La-La Land. Incredible evening. Even without the Red Bull.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Honeymoon's Over

My parents have started taking me for granted. Yes, sad but true. I've been here for exactly 4 weeks and today I actually had to make Boy #2 breakfast!!. I know, it's shocking. I actually had to drag my butt out of bed and cook an egg for the kid. I will have to have a serious talk with my mother. I can't believe it's come to this. Does she not understand how things are supposed to work? Does she think she can just go on her merry way in the morning to her exercise class and shirk her duties at home? And my dad is not so innocent either. How can he get breakfast ready for Boy #2 if he's on the golf course? My parents really need to get their priorities straight.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The tables have certainly turned

When I was in high school and home from college, I was the one going out at night. My parents would caution me to be careful and ask where I was going. As I raced out of the house in search of fun, I remember sort of snickering at them, at home, watching TV. And in those days, remember, there were maybe 5 channels! Now, I realize, the tables have turned. I am "home" for the summer, living in my old bedroom, showering in the bathroom I shared with my three brothers, and deja-vu-ing all over again. My kids are going to camp here, one at overnight camp in Wisconsin, and one at day camp close by. Mr. Minivan is holding down the fort--sort of--in L.A., and I am having flashbacks of decades ago. Actually, it is very nice staying with my parents. In the morning I hear Boy #2 get up and then I hear the clink and clank of dishes and silverware. When I come downstairs he is all fed and ready for camp. I tell my mom I'm running out for a bit and come back 4 hours later and Boy #2 is busy and happy. It's sort of like having a live-in staff. It's fabulous. Except for the fact that the staff's social life seems to be booming. They go to plays, out to dinner, to baseball games, golfing, to bridge games, etc. Meanwhile, I'm totally caught up on Entourage and Extreme Makeover Home Edition. They are starting to cramp MY social life. I mean, I actually have to ask them if they will be home to stay with Boy #2 if I want to go out at night. Now I'm the one who waits up to hear their key in the door. And last night when they got home at midnight the second I heard their footsteps I yelled "go to bed" at them down the stairs. My dad asked me if I wanted to go out with them one night next week. I couldn't help it. I had to break it to him gently. "I'd love to, Dad," I said, "but you know my policy on socializing with the help."

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

I am getting so tired of people doubting me. Or even worse--calling me a liar-- when I have the courtesy to let them know of my star sightings. After all, sightings are so common here that it's really no big deal to us residents. I just feel that I have a duty to all the little people I know back in the Heartland, back in the Midwest, the South, and the East, to let them know what is going on out here. So when I tell people that I saw Pamela Anderson Lee at a Little League game (stringy bleached blond hair, layered t-shirts, looks like she's been around a few blocks a few times) or Jerry Seinfeld at a burger place (burger, half a bun, no fries, looks exactly like Jerry Seinfeld, jeans, blue polo shirt, driving an in-perfect-condition powder blue 1970's VW Bug), why must they doubt me? IF I were going to make up a sighting, wouldn't I come up with one just slightly better than, say, Pamela Anderson? I mean, c'mon, I would at least throw a Barbra Streisand or a Julia Roberts at you, wouldn't I? I am just trying to report breaking news as it occurs. And I can't always get a good photo. I only have a Canon PowerShot. It has a tiny little zoom. Sometimes you are just going to have to be satisfied with Pamela back or Jerry's VW. It's called TRUST, people. Get with it.

one more thing

Oh, also, Mr. Minivan and Boys #1 & 2 sat next to Matt Damon at breakfast today. (Vegetarian egg white omelette, if you must know.)
OOPS--I guess it wasn't Matt Damon after all! That's the last time I take second-hand information. I need a fact-checker and fast!!!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

This boot wasn't made for walking

I'm not the most athletic person. Seriously. I'm not. I know you find that hard to believe, but it's true. That's why it's so hard for me to believe I really like a certain kind of exercise class. Two words. Boot camp. Yes, boot camp. Usually a military-style kind of exercise class where the instructor takes quite a bit of joy in yelling at his students to "motivate" them. I like the class because it is always different. It doesn't get boring because you aren't always doing the same thing each class. It is the kind of thing where you feel like you are going to die during the class and then afterward you feel great. This boot camp was founded by a gay-Jewish-former-addict-now-sober guy who is apparently a very tough teacher. I haven't taken one of his classes yet. What scared me a little about his classes was learning that if you throw up during the first class you get a free t-shirt. I love a free anything but, c'mon! I'm sticking to the non-hyphenated teachers for now. I survived the first class and have learned something new about myself each class. During the first class I took I learned that I can run on a treadmill for half an hour. During the last class I took I learned that even my shoulders can sweat. Can't wait to see what I learn next week...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Target got me again

It all started because of an egg crate mattress pad. Boy # 1 is going to overnight camp this summer and I wanted to get him a foam mattress pad to put on top of his flimsy little cot mattress. You know, so he'd be more comfortable. Like a 12 year old boy actually cares about stuff like that. Like the foamy egg crate mattress pad is actually going to come out of its wrapping. So I went to one of my favorite stores, Target, for the mattress pad, and a few other things. Well, $250 later, I am back at home, wondering what the hell just happened. I did get a few cleaning supplies, and a really cute workout outfit that I didn't try on--of which at least one piece will probably not be quite right, necessitating another trip to return--and probably make a few more purchases--and the cycle continues.

The masterminds at Target are brilliant, I must admit. Everything there is displayed so nicely. They always have something cute and new and colorful. You will for sure find something there that you never even knew existed yet you realize you need it desperately. Little colorful cubes of dishwashing detergent or cute straw dispensers that would look great on that table in your backyard that you've never served dinner on but probably would if you had a new set of brightly colored plastic plates and, of course, that straw dispenser. And don't forget the red and yellow containers for ketchup and mustard. One more task for your to-do list: "Somehow transfer ketchup and mustard to red and yellow containers." Yeah, right.

But Target and I have such a good relationship that I don't even feel guilty about today. I know we're meant to be together. We have a lot in common. We both like the same things. We've been down this road before, Target and I. I go there, spend a lot, do the drive of shame home, and enjoy my purchases. Then we take a little break from each other. And then, soon, before I even realize it, I'm back ready to do it all over again.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Happy Mother's Day

So tonight Mr. Minivan invited 3 business associates over for a little BBQ. I know, I know, what could be more special and more celebratory on Mother's Day than eating char-grilled meat with your husband's business cronies? I mean, anyone can go out and bring home roses. I am so lucky. When I mentioned that that was an unusual way of celebrating--let's face it--this Hallmark holiday--he said the three little words that strike fear into most women's hearts. Yes, he said, "I'll do everything." Yes it's true. AND--the thing is--he actually believes he will. This is a man who proudly tells me he's cleaned up the kitchen when what he really means to say is "I put the dishes in the sink." And then he said, "We'll get ready-made salads." Well, I have a reputation to uphold--business associates or not, and that was not going to fly.

He did go to the store and shop, and he did all the grilling. He also "cleaned up the kitchen". It was actually a very nice evening. Even without the ready-made salads.

They're Taking Over My Brain

I fear that I am becoming one of them. It seems to be happening slowly, almost without my realizing it. Yet I think that's how it works out here. The other day it was 67 degrees outside and I put on a long-sleeved t shirt. Yes. A. Long. Sleeved. T. Shirt. And the thing is, I didn't even realize what was happening until I put it together with a few other clues. I spoke with a friend from Chicago and she told me it was 44 and cold and rainy. And what went through my mind was "Yuck. Who would want to live somewhere where it is 44 and cold and rainy in the middle of May?" OMG!!! I have only been here for a couple of months. My blood is actually starting to thin. But what is even worse is what's happening in my head. Is it possible that there is something in the water here? But here is how I know for sure that something funny is going on. I drove up La Cienega the other day and gazed toward the hills and toward Sunset, the scene of my nightmare come to life, and I thought, "that doesn't look so steep after all." I've got to do something before it's too late to save myself. But I have to run out first. Let me just go grab a sweatshirt to take with me--after all, it is only going to be 70 today.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Driving Myself Crazy

My parents were here last week for a visit. They drove out to Las Vegas from Chicago in February for a couple of months and then came to spend a few days with us. My mom wanted to get the oil changed in her Lexus, so I called the local Lexus dealer and asked for the service department. "How much is an oil change?" I asked. "$74.95" was the answer. Um, no. We Midwesterners think a $74.95 oil change better include a pedicure at the very least. So the oil change would wait. We had a lot of fun, went to Santa Monica, the Farmers Market--my new favorite place in L.A.-- and had lunch with a friend of my dad's at Mel's Drive-In, a retro-y diner. I plugged the address into the GPS in my car, and we were off. The friendly voice of the GPS directed us up La Cienega. I could see the street getting steeper as it approached the hills in the distance. Have I ever mentioned that I have a recurring anxiety dream where I'm driving up a hill and it gets steeper and steeper and my car starts rolling backward? Anyway, we are driving up La Cienega and I can see that there is a stop light almost at the top of the hill--just where we have to make a left turn onto Sunset. Of course, I am the first car that is stopped at the light, still headed uphill, having to make a left turn when the light changes. And there is a big truck in back of me. My heart is pounding. My dream has become my reality. The light turns green. I take my foot off the brake and put it on the gas. In the few seconds between those two actions, my car starts to roll backwards a few inches. Now my heart is really pounding. I step on the gas and thankfully, start going forward and make the turn. I hope this lunch is good, because I'm never going back to this place again. My dad's friend gets there and my heart has returned to a semi-normal rhythm. I ask him if all the streets leading to Sunset are that steep. "No," he says, "that's pretty much the worst one. I usually try to avoid that one." Now he tells me.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Big Sighting

As you may or may not know, I have pretty much been a prisoner in my house lately. Waiting for repairmen is my new hobby. So tonight I was actually looking forward to getting out of the house to go to Boy #2's Little League game. We got there a little early so he could warm up and there seemed to be a little buzz in the air. My fellow baseball moms told me that Tom Cruise's son was on the opposing team. Little Connor was actually the catcher. Finally, my subscription to People magazine was paying off--I knew his son's name! We all wondered whether Tom and Katie, or TomKat, as they are known, would show up. The other moms were talking about the paparazzi huddled together on a grassy knoll near the other team's bleachers. "They are not allowed to come any closer." "Can you believe that's their job?" Shortly before the game started, the flash bulbs went wild. TomKat was in the house. I mean, in the park. She is very pretty and very pregnant. He looks exactly like Tom Cruise. All the baseball moms on my team seemed to be on their cell phones alerting their friends. I was watching Katie rub Tom's back, his hand on her leg. I then decided to go hang out by the other bleachers. I mean, I'm new in town. What a great opportunity to make some new friends, right? Up close they look exactly like themselves. They didn't look crazy. And I think you know what I mean. Tom was shouting out encouraging baseball dad stuff to his son. Katie was rubbing his back. I texted a couple of friends the breaking news. One of them told me that she had just seen on Entertainment Tonight that Katie was in Ohio preparing to give birth. "She's sitting on a bleacher 50 feet from me," I said. The other one called me a liar and demanded photos. I actually took a couple of photos when Boy #2 was up at bat that would have been perfect if they weren't so dark. Tom and Katie were in the background. One of the team moms took tons of photos so I actually do have proof. Not that I need any. After all, celebs are all over the place here, right? You practically can't take a walk--not that anyone does out here--without falling over one. And all of us residents are very blase, you know--it's SUCH a common thing. Nothing to get excited about.

Oh, who won the game? I have no idea.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

When will this nightmare end?

OMG!!! Tonight I was doing the dishes when I realized the water in the sink (yes, THAT sink) wasn't draining. I ran the disposal for about 2 seconds --and, nothing, the water was still there. Now, I may have a couple of faults, but I'm a VERY fast learner. I turned off the water, put the rubber gloves down, and backed slowly away from the sink. I then tried to use the other sink in the kitchen, the one with the faucet that needs to be replaced. The faucet that needed to be replaced in 1994, probably. Would you believe that the disposal in THAT sink doesn't work? I know, I know, it boggles the mind. So I grabbed the phone, threw it at Mr. Minivan, told him he could call the landlord, and exited the kitchen. I'm almost to the point where I would welcome the locusts.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Back to Normal?

Today--or is it tomorrow--has come and is almost gone. No locusts. No frogs. No pestilence. No avian flu. Maybe we have turned the corner. Dare I hope that I can actually get back to unpacking? I think I may be able to. Cross your fingers.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Water water everywhere....

Yesterday morning I went downstairs to the kitchen and made breakfast. After breakfast I started to wash the dishes. By hand, because the dishwasher--a Magic Chef--ever heard of that brand of dishwasher?--doesn't work and is being replaced this week. So I'm washing and the sink fills up with water, and I press the disposal button. And nothing happens. The water doesn't drain--the sink is still full. So I go do something else and come back in a few minutes and press the disposal button. The water starts to drain and then I hear a horrible whooshing sound. A sound that I hope never to hear again. A sound that is still echoing in my brain right now. I open the cabinets under the sink and whoosh--all the water in the double-sided sink as well as all the food particles from the disposal whoosh out of the broken pipe and are all over the kitchen floor. And going into the dining room. And going into the kitchen eating area. I always wanted a pool but this is ridiculous. Luckily, for once during a household crisis, Mr. Minivan is home. We start grabbing towels and paper towels and getting to work. It is disgusting. It is all over. We cannot possibly have enough towels. It is all too much for me. I start to cry as I'm standing on two towels scootching my feet back and forth over the water on the floor. I literally throw in the towel and let him clean up the mess. Right now I'm sitting at home waiting for the plumber who was supposed to be here 3 hours ago. He just called and is still in the middle of a job. But he'll call me in an hour or two when he is done. Oh, and here's the clincher. I just went into the laundry room to fold some laundry. The water heater is leaking. There is water all over the floor. Details to follow.

UPDATE--the plumber came and is picking up a new water heater right now. I'm drinking alone. I can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Some observations

I have realized why I go to the grocery store every day. Not only is it a break from unpacking, but it is a little bit of face-to-face human contact other than my own family. I find myself chatting up everyone from the deli lady to the produce guy to the checkers. And they have to be nice to me because I'm a customer. I have also noticed that whenever a service person comes to the house I switch into hostess mode. "Would you like a Coke or a bottle of water?" I ask the phone guy and the cable installer. I am days away from offering them cheese and crackers, I fear.

A couple of days ago was Boy #2's first baseball game. A very serious league, this one is. Lots of rules. A real dugout, a real umpire, and a real scoreboard. It was about 68 degrees and I had been running around all day. Besides, I'm from Chicago. That's practically a summer day back home. I wore a tank top. I walked up to the bleachers and saw the other mothers. In. Scarves. And. Fleece. Can you believe it? Actually the temperature did drop soon after I got to the game and I put on my sweatshirt, but really, scarves and 68 degrees? Fragile people. And they all told me I'll be just like they are soon.

The unpacking continues. More observations as they occur.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Welcome to the Neighborhood?

In some communities, when someone new moves in, the Welcome Wagon visits. Sometimes the neighbors come to introduce themselves, usually bearing cookies or maybe even a bundt cake. L.A. is such a fast-paced city that I didn't really expect the Welcome Wagon, but what I got was so much more.

Last Saturday, as Mr. Minivan was putting yet more trash bags and moving boxes out in the alley to be picked up, he found a smouldering mattress. Yes, that's right, a mattress had been set on fire and then left to smoulder outside our back gate. Maybe it's a local custom involving marshmellows and graham crackers, but since none of those, nor any Welcome Wagon, was to be found, he poured water on it and continued taking out the trash.

Right after that we went to the Little League opening night festivities. Quite the event, with giant inflatable slides, a raffle (I later found out I won a Curt Schilling autographed jersey, but I digress), a silent auction, and lots of food for sale--the local fireman were even grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. Very small-town in the middle of the big city. We told the fireman what had happened in the alley and they told us we shouldn't hesitate to call the police or fire departments about something like that. But it was over and we enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Yesterday I was out in front getting the mail and a fully-uniformed fireman walked up the driveway, saying "Hi." How nice, I thought, he's here to welcome us--what a nice surprise even without the bundt cake. But, not exactly. He told me that there were a bunch of fireman out in the back putting out a smouldering mattress and that there was also a burned-out couch back there. He asked if, since we were new here, we were putting extra furniture out in the alley. I was horrified. I explained what had happened on Saturday. The neighbor next door was out in the alley, too, giving me dirty looks. She never did introduce herself. I guess I too would be a little crabby if new neighbors moved in and furniture started spontaneously combusting all in the same week. So, anyway, the policemen took my name as the "reporting party" since the neighbor was too busy glaring at me to get her ID. I told them I didn't want to see my name in the local paper. And now along with unpacking and trying to find my way around, I also have to keep an eye out for my local pyromaniac. All in all, I'd rather have the bundt cake.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

First Celebrity Sightings

Who knew Little League was a great place to spot celebrities? I was talking to one of guys who produced "Glory Road" and over his wife's shoulder I spotted someone who looked a lot like Sela Ward (from Once & Again, Sisters, and House). So I asked his wife and, sure enough, it was Sela Ward. You know, me and Sela Ward, Little League moms. We have so much in common. Once I start drinking coffee I'm sure we'll go grab many lattes together. Then I spotted a bearded man who looked like an older Danny Bonaduce (think Partridge Family) and of course it turned out that he was Danny Bonaduce. I also learned that Tom Cruise turns up at a lot of soccer games, but soccer season is a long way off. More sightings as they occur....

Saturday, March 04, 2006

We're here.......

Several hundred boxes, many tears, a lot of dinners out, and many good-byes later, we are in La-La Land. It's beautiful here but a bit strange. These people are freaked out by rain. It was raining the day we went to register the boys at their new school. At 10 in the morning there was a flurry of activity in the office. Several teachers came in to tell the administrator that it was raining and that "we might have to go to the rainy day schedule." An announcement to that effect was made, and I asked what the rainy day schedule was. "Well, the kids don't go outside and they have recess and gym inside." Kind of what is called "indoor recess" at our school back home, where that decision is made 10 minutes before lunch, I guess. And then a little while later the rain stopped and there was yet another big discussion on whether to go off the "rainy day schedule." I also heard a woman on a cell phone at the grocery store assure someone that she was, indeed, "warm and dry." These Californians are very fragile, it seems.

At another grocery store I was behind a woman at the deli counter and she asked to see the ingredients in the turkey. I remember hoping it was an allergy-related request. Then in the produce department I noticed that California-grown avocados were $2.89 each. I asked the produce guy why I paid 99 cents for them in Illinois and they were more than double that in the state where they were grown. "Because this is where all the rich people live," he answered. I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore.

I've had no celebrity sightings yet. I think I will start drinking coffee because it seems that coffee shops are a sure bet for celebrity sightings. Just look thru any issue of People magazine. That, along with unpacking the hundreds of boxes, will be my project for next week.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

My house is mad at me

It would appear that my house does not want me to leave it. How else can I explain what I encountered last night? I went into my laundry room to do yet another load of laundry and found the cabinet that hangs above my washer and dryer had jumped off the wall and was lying on top of the washer and dryer! You know that cabinet--the one that holds the bleach, refill bottles of Windex and Fantastick, vacuum cleaner bags, and other laundry room essentials. It seems a little coincidental to me that, after being bolted to the wall just fine for at least the 12 and a half years that we have lived in this house (and probably many more years previous to that), it would just topple off the wall the night before our realtor had scheduled an open house. Don't you agree? I can't take this kind of stress. If this is what my house will do to show me how upset it is, what will my friends and family do?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Reason #5 Why I Will Never Have a Dog

Some combos are great. Peanut butter and jelly. Pomegranates and Martinis. Ti and Vo. They all bring a smile to your face, right? This weekend I "experienced" a combo that will wipe the smile right off your face. A combo so awful I can barely type the words. Must. Type. Through. The. Pain. Here it is: Uggs and dog poop. Yes, it's true. I can personally attest to the fact that that is a combo from hell. You always know the minute it happens, don't you? There's no mistaking that mushy feeling. Suffice it to say that this incident was like my own personal Fear Factor (surpassed only by the time I was waiting for a friend of mine in the vet's office and the door kept opening and more and more dogs came in to join me in the little tiny waiting room--but I digress). What did I do to upset the karma gods, I wondered, as I THOROUGHLY washed each and every little Ugg crevice on my boot? How could this happen to me in a house full of dog lovers? Someone else's house, that is. Someone else's front lawn, I mean. I guess it teaches me a good lesson or two. Stay on the pathway. Keep your head down and your boots held high. I'm going to take this whole incident as a learning experience.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

You'd better sit down for this one.

I had to. Well, I don't know how to say this exactly, but I'm just going to go ahead and say it. We're moving. Yes, you heard that right. We're moving. I know--I still can't believe it myself. The possibility has been out there for the last couple of years, but you know how when you hear about something for a long time and it doesn't happen, you sort of don't believe it ever will? That's how this has been. Mr. Minivan has been telling me (and anyone who will listen to him) that this was in the future, and now the future seems to have arrived.

His business needs to relocate. We are headed west to the city of angels. La-La Land. Los Angeles. Which, I might add, is a fun place to visit--but to actually live there? Don't those people get bored by all that sun? Here in the Midwest we actually appreciate a nice day.

For the last few weeks I have been very busy getting rid of some of the crap in my house--I mean donating some of my gently used items to charity, and throwing out some less than gently used items. My garage is so clean you could eat off the floor. Well, not really. And my house is such a vision of cleanliness and organization that my children think they're in the wrong house. The "For Sale" sign is up on the front yard. I guess it's really happening. People I barely know are telling me they are going to miss me--my mailman and the dry cleaner. My cleaning lady of 13 years started crying the other day because she's upset I'm leaving. People I do know want to spend time with me--"let's go for coffee"--or in my case, a Diet Coke. I have now become a reason to throw a party. My parents are putting up a brave face and are trying to avoid the reality of all this by going on a Hawaiian cruise. It's very sad and very exciting all at the same time.