Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Happy Birthday to the man who lit Sarah Silverman's joint

"Is it a milestone birthday?" asked a coworker.
"No, I just want to do something nice for my husband."

Evening's itinerary

  • Rushed home early from work with a babysitter lined up and a stretch limo waiting for us with chilled champagne in the backseat.
  • 9 course tasting at Sona.
  • Nice touch - U.'s menu had "Happy Birthday U." printed at the top. When leaving they gave us the menu in a white envelope as a keepsake to take home.
  • Unlike Providence where they ask you if there is something wrong with the dish if any portion remains uneaten, here at Sona many dishes went back half eaten and no one questioned it.
  • Food highlight - the palate cleanser (pineapple sorbet and I forget what else), and the blue cheese with honey was orgasmic (I don't believe I've ever used that description to describe food before - I must be getting old.)
  • Stump the waiter - each dish had so many complex ingredients that invariably the waiters would have problems remembering the last ingredient and would either pause and wrack their brains or go back to the kitchen to ask and report back to us.
  • A 2 and a half hour dinner - whew - feels like you need a 7th inning stretch before the desserts come out.
  • After dinner our limo whisked us away to the Santa Monica pier. Today was the lighting ceremony of the new ferris wheel and the amusement park is open until midnight. Riding the lit ferris wheel at night, over the ocean seemed like a good idea but (lots of other people thought it was a good idea too) and the line snaked around for about a 2 hour wait. We decided to pass this time and come back on a Sunday with our kid.
  • We share a warm churro on the walk back to the limo. U keeps saying, "this is SO good." We just enjoyed a $600 dinner and yet a $2.75 churro is the perfect nightcap.
  • My husband thanks me for the 50th time as he pours himself another glass of champagne.

Happy birthday honey. Sweet dreams on your birthday.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Weird weather

I was surprised when it started pouring rain this afternoon in Pasadena, when the weather forecast last night said it would be 72 degrees and sunny. (Even though last night it was very windy.) The storm got progressively worse and from inside my office I could hear the loud thunder, and at times it sounded like the roof of our building was going to rip off. Then someone said that it was hailing at their house and it had scared their little doggie. Then to make things even more bizarre, we had a strange tornado in southern California. I just watched a video of it. But other parts of LA remained sunny and warm like Culver City. What strange weather we're having!

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Being a proud, card carrying member of the M club - I'll be the first one to say marriage isn't for everyone. Finding the right person is the easy part. No one knows what will happen 15-60 years from now. We can just hope for the best, and plan for the future.

But like John Lennon said - sometimes the future happens when you're busy making other plans.

It pains me to see/hear people who jump into marriage when they obviously aren't ready, or they get married for all the wrong reasons (i.e., they feel it's expected of them as soon as they reach a certain age). This seems like a no-brainer, but so many people force themselves to marry just because they're so afraid of being alone and missing out.

Then there's the other camp - that married for all the right reasons - but for whatever reason the marriage ends. So much gets invested in a "marriage" that it's heartbreaking to cut that tie and both people have to rebuild their lives and move on. Made even more difficult when children are involved.

Last night at dinner, a friend of ours said it was nice to see that U. and I make time for ourselves (like this trip, and date night twice a week) without the baby. He mentioned that after his son was born, both he and his wife were just obsessed with the kid and never left the house or made time for just themselves, and that's partly why the marriage didn't work.

There's no magic wand for a happy marriage. There are 2 people involved, and as much as I like to think I can read my husband's mind - he is his own person.

My mom loves to tell me what I like to eat and want I don't like - but she fails to realize that my tastes have changed from when I was a kid. I eat SO much healthier now and it's just a whole new ballgame. The same goes for marriage. There are 2 people making a journey together, and life is so unpredictable it's impossible to predict where you both will be years from now.

Today I was very sad to read that a friend of mine is going through a divorce after 15 years of a marriage. She has a young son and my heart goes out to her.

I never preach how great marriage is, because as great as it can be, it's also a lot of work, and if it doesn't work out there's tremendous heartache and headache. But I always hope for that "live happily ever after" ending even if in reality it's peppered with arguments about who should take out the trash and yes you were sitting on the remote control (as well as deeper issues). I envision an anniversary party with an elderly couple slow dancing to Louis Armstrong's "What a wonderful world" surrounded by their grown adult children, and grand kids. It's a nice dream to have don't you think?

Weekend in Austin, Texas

I'm spending the weekend in Austin, TX with U., who is attending a media conference here. We're staying at the Hyatt Regency - Lost Pines Resort and Spa. We flew in early Saturday morning.

Here are some random 1st observations of Austin
  • Lush & green (unexpected for TX)
  • Chilled beer on the bus/shuttle from the airport to our hotel (open containers of alcohol allowed in a moving vehicle)
  • Mobile homes for $40K
  • Fireworks superstore (biggest I've EVER seen)
  • Restaurant with sign "Bikers Welcome"
  • Cows & bulls grazing in the lush grass
  • Smiley face painted on a water tank
  • 15 minute drive from the entrance to the resort, to the lobby
  • People are very friendly here
Last night we met with Amanda - a friend and former co-worker of U.'s - who lives here and showed us the local haunts.

Today I slept in, ordered room service, read, and worked out. Later when the sun goes down a bit I'm heading out to the lazy river to get wet and enjoy the beautiful day. Just what the doctor ordered. =)

This resort is huge and there's lots to do for families (even horseback riding). Makes me want to come back with Astrid. Who by the way is spending a fun filled weekend with her Godmother. Yesterday was her ballet class and lots of swimming on a hot day. This morning they fed all the animals - which I'm sure was a treat for her - since she LOVES animals (her Godmother has 2 dogs and 3 cats). Later today her Godmother is taking her clothes shopping and then to a vintage car show. Lots of new sights and sounds and experiences. A treat for both of us - since she's having fun with her Godmother, and U. and I can have an adult weekend away to ourselves.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

NPR's coverage of the earthquake devastation in China

Anyone else listening to this?

NPR happened to have reporters there on the ground in China to cover another story (the developing Olympics preparation) and were able to give first hand accounts of the devastation - children buried under a collapsed school, parents waiting 4 hours before help came and digging through the rubble with their bare hands. It's heartbreaking.

I've found myself glued to the radio listening every morning and evening during my commute, hoping they found more survivors. The official death toll estimate is almost 14,500. There was one miracle - a woman uncovered after 50 hours was found alive, and she's 8 months pregnant. A glimmer of hope in so much sadness and despair.

This evening they featured the story of one family, whose son was dropped off at his grandparent's apartment on the 3rd floor shortly before the entire building collapsed. The parents were hoping and praying that somehow all 3 family members had survived. When the bulldozers and cranes came, and rescue workers with equipment to cut through the re barb - the mother ran through jagged metal to a newly dug hole in the rubble, without care for her own safety shouting her son's name and "Mommy's here! Mommy's coming!" And she kept shouting for her son to come out. Almost a half a day passed when they finally found the dead body of a neighbor woman. The neighbors began cutting up a white sheet into 3 pieces. This is the custom there, to cover the faces of the dead. The mother went limp with grief. She blamed herself - "Why didn't I take you to work with me today like you wanted? If only I had taken you and not dropped you off." The NPR reporter giving the report of what was happening - had such emotion in her voice - that by the end of the story I was sobbing. I felt like I was right there watching this grief stricken mother and I felt her pain and sorrow. I so hoped they would find her little boy alive.

A rescue worker emerges out of the debris and says he has found the body of a little boy. The mother asked if the boy looked to be 2 years old, and the worker confirmed that yes he appeared to be around 2. The mother cannot accept the fact that he is dead. She asks the worker if he shouted his name to make sure he isn't just unconscious. The mother and father hold each other and cry. Just listening was almost too much to bear.

They found that the boy was being held by his grandfather, and the grandmother was behind them, holding onto the grandfather. The mother stayed with her son's body and kept repeating, "Mommy's here. Mommy's here." Even just remembering the story and picturing that scene in my mind brings tears to my eyes.

As soon as I stopped the car, I held my 3 year old daughter tight and told her how much I loved her.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Iron Man (an enjoyable modern day comic hero with a believeable Robert Downey Jr. but what was Gweneth Paltrow doing in that movie?)

I think that's the longest title I've ever given a blog post.

I saw the movie "Iron Man" at The Vista tonight. Before I get into the movie, let me just say that I love that movie theatre. With it's Hollywood Egyptian motif (you know whoever they commissioned to make those 10 huge Egyptian heads is still talking about it - or his/her surviving family members are), a single/huge theatre (you never have to tell the ticket master what movie you want to see because there is only one) and lots of leg room (unheard of in today's theaters).

So how was the movie?
I expected the worst. When U. told me he wanted to see this movie I made him promise that he'd go and see a chick flick with that he would NEVER under usual circumstances go and see in the movie theater (like the Lars and the Real Girl). The big draw for me was seeing a movie at The Vista, and seeing Robert Downey, Jr. (who I think is a brilliant actor). So I was blown away when the movie opened in Afghanistan. Talk about a true modern day comic book hero!

I was entertained throughout the entire movie. Robert Downey, Jr. plays a believable comic book hero and the technology they feature in the movie is awesome. Like when he's building this model of a high tech arm, and reaches into the floating hologram design to try it out. It was a fun, "popcorn movie" as U. likes to describe big blockbuster films. You know you're not going in to see an Oscar movie, and feel a bit guilty that you're not watching a movie with artistic merit, (we were considering the documentary about Abu Ghraib, but not on mother's day - just too disturbing and upsetting - although we still plan to see it). But it was an entertaining, action packed movie.

Jeff Bridges was good in it too. I couldn't figure out why Gweneth Paltrow was in this movie though. She plays a small part as the main character's personal assistant and love interest. She takes like 4th billing in the movie and that role does nothing to showcase her talent or further her acting career (as a serious actress that is). Whenever she would appear in the movie they seemed to focus on her body (tight skirts and backless dress), and she seemed to have difficulty walking in those stiletto heels.

But overall 2 thumbs up from both U. and I.

Happy Mother's Day 2008!

This was the 1st mother's day that my daughter was able to tell me, "Happy Mother's Day!" That was the best present this year. She also made me a drawing, and a cool arts & crafts rose at preschool.

U. also presented me with a new pink nano iPod (i can't get over how tiny and powerful it is- it fits into the palm of my hand, but it's got more features and even more powerful than my old iPod - I have the album covers I can choose from which is super sweet). But here's the kicker - U. downloaded songs from all the bands at Coachella this year that I liked. How thoughtful is that?! So here I am listening to The Verve on my iPod. (Which song you ask? The song, "The Drugs Don't Work." A beautiful song that we saw them perform at Coachella.)

Just got back from Mother's Day brunch with the fam at House of Blues in Hollywood. I finally got to see & experience their Sunday Gospel performance for the first time. What a treat!

No preaching - just guitar and singing (the performers dressed in soulful, flamboyant costumes)- and pointing out that everyone has something to be thankful for - even just waking up this morning. Hallelujah to that! We take a lot for granted don't we? A few volunteers stood up and said what they were thankful for and sang "Thank you!" into the microphone. I looked over at my devoted husband, and our beautiful angel of a daughter we created together, who is our pride and joy (and gives us both gray hairs) - and my heart swelled.

I have so much to be thankful for. I am thankful for the privilege of everyday that my husband and daughter are a part of my life and knowing their love. I am thankful to experience this crazy whirlwind of a journey called parenthood with a wonderful partner. I am thankful to be a mother.

Happy Mother's day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Exception to the one leg at a time pants rule

Guys doing funny stunts with pants.
Make sure you check out the last one of the guy doing a backflip into pants.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Vampire Weekend - APunk @ Coachella 2008

This is how our Coachella 2008 weekend started out.
Vampire Weekend was the first band we saw.

MGMT - Time To Pretend @ Coachella 2008

I heard this song on the radio today during my morning commute and it made me think of Coachella. Every year that darn festival goes by WAY too fast. Wishing I was back there again.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Growing up without turning into Annette Bening's character from American Beauty

It's funny how life works. For years you think in terms of "when I grow up" and then one day you suddenly realize you're all grown up when your husband remarks, "That's all good, but just make sure you don't turn into the Annette Bening character from American Beauty."

Who can forget that unforgettable slapping scene where Annette Bening's character Caryoln, the suburban wife, mother and real estate agent is trying to sell that crappy house, and behind closed vertical mini blinds her keeping-up-appearances crumbles and she loses it and starts slapping her face hysterically, telling herself she is weak?

For the first time in my life my compensation is enough to support my husband and family. Just me alone. Who would have thought? It wasn't too long ago that my husband supported me so I could take a year sabbatical to teach, and then stay home with our daughter. Now that U. has started his own company, I'm happy to be able to do the same for him to support his dreams and aspirations.

My rising star and ambition is great as long as I have balance in my life, but I don't ever want my husband smoking out in the garage having a mid life crisis (fantasizing about working as a fast food clerk) while all I'm concerned about is my next commission. It's important that we're both not so caught up in the rat race that we forget about what's really important to us.

So on our date night tonight, after dinner and drinks - we did something a bit out of the ordinary - something we haven't done since we were kids. We went to our local neighborhood carnival in Cypress Park for Cinco de Mayo and rode the Super Slide. Seeing my husband's big smile as he sat on his blanket, gliding down that long slide was priceless.

Yes, honey I'll always try to remember your comment about not turning into Annette Bening's character from American Beauty. That was a pearl of wisdom I'll try and live by.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

My summer of love (reading)

My sophomore year of high school we read the book, "Lord of the Flies." Each night we were assigned a chapter or so to read for homework and the next day we'd have a quiz on what we read. I kept getting into trouble because I'd show up to class without having read the chapter and would just wing the multiple choice test, but if asked any questions about what happened I would fail miserably. I finally got tired of it and went home and read the entire book in one sitting. That impressed my English teacher.

Then we had an assignment to bring in a poem of our choice to read out loud to the class and discuss it. I chose the poem, "We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks.

We real cool.
We left school.
We lurk late.
We strike straight.
We sing sin.
We thin gin.
We jazz June.
We die soon.

My English teacher commented that he always wondered what it meant to "jazz June" and why the month of June was significant. My 15 year old virgin self stated bluntly - "June is a girl. We jazz June. Get it?" I think that even further impressed my teacher.

By the end of the year he had recommended me for the honors English program. Just a handful of sophomores were chosen and we were required to take an excellerated summer literature class which required us to read a bunch of classics. That summer I had little time to do anything else but read:
  • The Grapes of Wrath
  • Farewell to Arms
  • The Catcher in the Rye
  • Cry the Beloved Country
  • Julius Cesar
During the heatwave I'd be in my pool with a book propped up on the edge - reading every minute of the day that I wasn't in class or working. And I absolutely loved it. It was one of the best summers I have ever experienced.

So today when I read the list of the 50 best cult books, I couldn't help but smile. One of the books I read from that summer - a banned book at the time - appears on the list - "Catcher in the Rye." As a teenager I could not relate to the book at all. (Only in my 20's could I begin to relate.) I couldn't understand why adults wouldn't want us reading it and thinking that somehow we'd become psycho killers as a result - and I still don't understand the banning of books. It's too Fahrenheit 451 (which I thought for sure was on the list but it is NOT).

Hunter S. Thompson also makes the list with his book, "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas." As does "On The Road" by Jack Kerouac, and "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath.

Just like when the New York Times list of best books comes out, this list makes me want to run out and read every single book on the list.

Tegan and Sara

Tegan and Sara have a unique sound of of vocals, guitar, keyboard and synthesizer that's perfect for an outdoor Coachella music festival. Of all the bands I saw at Coachella this year, they're the ones I most enjoyed sitting on the grass, listening to, on a beautiful hot day in the desert sun. They've got great songs and I could listen to them for hours. The band consists of Canadian singer-songwriters Tegan Rain Quin and Sara Kiersten Quin, who are identical twin sisters.

Below are a couple songs that I really enjoyed live. Today when I heard their music (U. was playing it on his ipod) I had a flashback and I could almost smell the Coachella grass.

Tegan and Sara - "The Con"

Tegan and Sara - "Back in your head"