Thursday, April 28, 2011

Awkward Moment

As you all know, I am delightfully oblivious to the people around me most of the time. Absent professors have nothing on me. However, from time to time, I will hear something during the course of running an errand (or saving the world) that just sets me off.

I thought today was one of those days.

I was waiting for the elevator this morning, when I heard a young mother calling her toddler daughter away from the display case to join her. Nothing outrageous thus far, right? Well, it would have remained that way except I heard the mother calling, "Come here, Creepy. Creepy, come here." That… seemed a little off to me. I don't know if slightly negative nicknames actually damage a child's self-esteem or not, but it felt a tad jarring. I thought it might be accurate—I celebrate honesty. But not knowing if the child was indeed creepy did leave me with the temptation to give the mom a little stink eye.

And just as I was getting ready to do that, I heard her calling to the little girl, again: "Come on, Sweet Pea. Sweet Pea, we've got to go."

In my defense, they sound really similar.

::: whistling through my unwarranted outrage:::

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Who Am I Anyway?

Who am I anyway?
Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don't know.

A Chorus Line


As I've mentioned, the process of willingly separating yourself from a job of 16+ years is a long one, and it involves an extraordinary amount of paperwork. While that is a nuisance, there is only one box on all of these forms that keeps tripping me up: Occupation.

Health insurance, life insurance, rollovers and any other form you can think of all ask for my occupation. It's a reasonable question, I suppose. Health insurance professionals certainly want to know if I'm working in coal mines rather than an office building, but for the first time in so many years, I have nothing to enter into that field. I'm not a student. I'm not an analyst. Unemployed is technically accurate, but doesn't seem right—surely that can't be me. I did this willfully, and in my mind, that seems reserved for people who have dealt with downsizing and other economic woes.

Am I my resume? I don't think I even know that person.

So, after spending a day or two in panic mode (apparently, undefined is something I'm not quite used to), I decided to look at this as a creative writing assignment. People keep telling me I should put my goals "out there," so I'm going to. The very next form will say "Writer," "Producer," "Fashion Model," "Host," "George Clooney's Wardrobe Assistant," or "Deep Sea Diver" (I know, no one will believe I'm a writer). My friend E came up with a great one today at lunch, "Celebrity liaison." Provided that isn't actually code for "stalker", I'm in! Though, naturally, I will refuse to do anything that involves sneaking someone drugs, a mistress or getting them coffee (no joke, I can't make coffee, and since I don't drink it, most drink orders still sound like gibberish).

How about "Celebrity Pillow fluffer?" And yes, the word "Pillow" needs to be in there, because as I've recently been told, people can seriously misunderstand your intentions if it's missing from that title. Sheesh. One little mistake…


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

House Hunters

Well, it has finally happened: my brain has stopped trying to process what I've done by leaving my job and just embraced Property Virgins, House Hunters and House Hunters International. I may have watched (on and off) about 7 hours of those shows on Monday.

I'm no closer to figuring out what I want to do with my life. I'm no closer to writing the great American novel, script or short-story. I have yet to executive produce a television show. I am, however, an expert at the ridiculous requirements first time home buyers have and where cheap real estate exists in the United States (note: nowhere near Los Angeles).

Here is my public service announcement for the day: You do not need stainless steel appliances in order to have a working refrigerator, stove or dishwasher—particularly if you only have $100,000 to spend on the house and you want four bedrooms, a finished basement, a backyard and a pool. The perfectly functioning white appliances do not NEED to be replaced. If I hear you say it one more time, I will slap you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

And We Want Him Why?

I received a lot of emails and some comments posted on the blog about my post regarding "The Rule of the First." What really stood out for me was how many people mentioned using the rule as a way to…um…reconnect with a man who had cheated on them. I'm wonderfully uptight, and do not generally supporting cheating (so stop emailing me Ashley Madison), but I am willing to give a little bit of leeway to the girl who is hooking up with her ex who is now cheating on the girl who he cheated with (if that makes sense). It's not good. It's not right. But I'm not sure I have a ton of sympathy.

The thing I do not understand is why is there a compulsion to pursue the man again? Why do you want someone back in your life who clearly had very little respect for you when you were together? Is it just an ego thing? Is there some sort of special validation for you if you can get a man back (however temporarily)? Is it all about winning?

Please keep in mind that I'm not talking about situations where you were both young and someone made a mistake. While I don't know if I could ever really forgive the mistake, I think people can learn from them in certain cases and move on. Also, I'm fully cognizant that women also cheat and generally behave badly. If a woman cheats on a man and leaves, does a man also pursue?

Obviously, love does not go away just because things go awry. Maybe there is a healthy mix of habit in that longing? Maybe after that kind of hurt, the one left behind just desperately wants to return to normal, and the pursuit is the only way that makes sense at the time?

Pen has had these moments. She heard a lot of encouragement on the other end: "She's not you." This, by the way, is catnip to women. She thought she would finally win when the other relationship ended, and he didn't want to be alone. But ultimately, she walked away. Why? Because the only thing she would have won was a man she would never be able to trust.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Breaking In Meets Dr. Drew

Ah, proximity—you seem to be the key to all things dating… which is tricky given how much I like to spend time alone.

This week's Breaking In featured the theory that "love is a numbers game" and that the way for one of the leads to finally get the girl of his dreams is to spend as much time with her as possible. He actually had the day broken down into "quality time spent" components, and spending the day at work with this girl meant he would be "winning" (not in the Charlie Sheen sense, but with actual positive outcome in the mix) the battle for her heart (which he might want along with her other parts).

Then much to my surprise, when I finally got through my email, I saw that Kelly at HLN had sent over another clip from Dr. Drew's show. Now, the piece was supposed to explore what it is that men really want from women. This scared me because I assumed it was somehow pornographic. Kidding. Kidding. Not really, but let's pretend.

Naturally, the conversation turned toward the different approaches of the sexes in meeting a potential partner. The panel and Dr. Drew came to the conclusion that Cam did in Breaking In (only they backed-it up with actual data) that proximity plays an enormous role in finding a potential romance.

I worked many, many, many years in a largely-male environment. Love did not blossom for me. No seeds were even planted. Clearly, I need to work at a place where there is a plethora of options before I can give this theory a try. But otherwise his advice did leave me a little bit stuck. He said, "Go put yourself in environments where you're about to be near people that share the kind of interests that you do." That idea is all well and good, but look at my interests: ballet, theater, museums, movies, reading and watching TV. They either involve being alone, not interacting or involve places not exactly teeming with single, straight men who have also arrived alone. Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a shy, retiring type to pry a guy away from his mother at the ballet? It's not going to happen.

Also, sitting next to the guy sitting alone in an empty movie theater is creepy. Not that I've tried that. Yet.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pink Pepper Thai and Other Thoughts on a Thursday

Pink Pepper Thai

Yesterday, I discovered a terrific Thai food place called Pink Pepper Thai in Hollywood. I'd like to say that I am a visionary who has unearthed this yet to be discovered hot spot in Los Angeles – and if that gets me a job writing for Social LA-type blogs, I will say that. Now, if I want to go with honesty, the place has been there since about 1989, and I just don't get out much… and my friend suggested it as a good place to meet. But other than those things, I totally discovered it. Now it's your job to go try it. Also, as a side note, Thai lunch from the day before makes for an excellent breakfast the next day.


Pink Taco Disco

I have figured out where men go to congregate in Los Angeles! They go to Pink Taco (and now that I think about it, it would make sense that dudes were attracted to this place). Hordes of men were there last night (and by night, I mean just as the work bell sounded at 5:30) with ties askew and drinks in hand; no doubt chatting about the deals they brokered, or the white collar clients they kept out of jail for securities fraud. Go team! Naturally, I spoke to none of them because I was busy being enormously entertained by the disco music they were playing while Pen and I were delicately sipping our margaritas and in no way descending on the bucket of free chips like wild animals. Ahem. Anyway… this discovery has brought us to a new and exciting possibility: roller disco (Courtesy of C). Again, not a new concept, as I last did this when I was about 12, BUT a totally new experience as an adult. I can't wait. I'm possibly more excited about roller disco than I have been about anything other than quitting my job. I wonder if I can find my old sparkly, blue skate laces?


Trapped in Apartment

Presidential street closures are happening outside my apartment today and possibly tomorrow. I understand the need for security. I support this entirely. But that does mean I am trapped in my apartment since leaving suggests the need for returning, which I may or may not be able to do depending on when and if he wanders through this area. How about this as a deal: I will vote for him, if he promises to stop coming to Los Angeles? I knew we could work something out. Seriously, I saw the President less when I was living in D.C. But the new, intriguing, possibly-sexually-willing me (nah) is going to make the best of this by declaring it Reading by the Pool Day unless the fog doesn't lift, and it really stays 65; and then it will be more like Sitting Inside the Apartment Obsessing Over Why I Don't Have a Direction in Life Yet Despite it Being Day 4 Day (which has a slightly less entertaining ring to it, and the acronym just doesn't sing).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 3: Reality Check

I may have expected too much from my new life—or at least I may have expected fabulousness to begin occurring with a rapidity that was unrealistic. I feel enormous pressure to find something amazing every day, for no other reason than I think I believed that to be so. I had this "look out world" moment, and so far, the world has yawned. Spielberg hasn't called. Clooney hasn't called. And I'll admit I'm still mired in paperwork.

This is what I've learned so far:

  1. I am bad at being idle. I may get better with time, but I'm already looking around me wondering what I can fix, clean or organize.
  2. I should remove the "employed" requirement from the dating wish list. Some of the most fabulous people I know don't have jobs at the moment.
  3. I have very much enjoyed having lunch with friends and not having to worry about work waiting for me. Let's keep that one going. Though I'm unemployed, so you all will have to keep picking up the check. Sound good? I knew it would.
  4. I'm going to be spending a lot of time in Venice over the next few months. When I'm not flustered about the problems with parking and needing to be back north at a specific time, it's a pretty groovy place with a ton of good, not always wildly expensive, restaurants. Though the person who tried to give me the pot license information was definitely suffering from some serious delusions about my being there.
  5. Brownie bites are good for more than a week.
  6. I'm writing more than I ever thought possible. I'm chalking that up to the fact that I don't have something else sucking every bit of energy I have out of brain through my ears. (Note: I didn't say that I was writing well, only that fingers are flying over keyboards)
  7. I'm already having nightmares about money and ever finding a job. This is ridiculous. I've planned for this. I'm ready for this. And it just started. Clearly, my brain has not quite caught up with my new "go with the flow" attitude.
  8. I've quite my job with relatively little waking fear, yet I'm too nervous to begin sign up for tennis lessons. Apparently, some new I can handle, and some new is just too much.
  9. For the first time in years, I want to dance.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Penguin Joy

At some point, I would like to be as happy as this penguin. New goal!

<br/><a href="" target="_new"title="Penguin Loves To Get Scratched">Video: Penguin Loves To Get Scratched</a>


Clearly, in order to become a wildly famous author with Pulitzer committee calls and film conversion offers waiting in the wings, I should tell you about the brilliance that was my first day in my new life. That brilliance should include a sly mention of my embarking on a torrid affair with a well-known leading man who only stays in his "Hollywood" marriage for the sake of his adorable children and to avoid a career-debilitating scandal. These pages should be full of the joy of re-discovering sexual desire and colorful descriptions of the whole new world of tabloid dodging that immediately wrapped me in its seducing tentacles. I should be at least hinting at purple prose waiting in the wings (that I will obviously try to sell as empowerment involving the shedding of moral shackles).

As I type, I'm thinking of sentences like "and so he took her, as only a man can take a woman, who yearns…"**




I did laundry.


So close.


Well, I was seduced by a brownie. Does that count?


Maybe later today…




**(bonus points if you can name the origin of that sentence).


Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 1: But I am My Blackberry

It turns out that the first thing to throw me about my new found "adventure" was not the relatively late wake-up time (slept in until almost 6am, thank you very much!), and it wasn't the lack of frantic emails on a Sunday night about the work week. It was my missing Blackberry.

I have perfected the roll and check. Typically, the alarm would sound at around 4:30am (technically, 4:33am because I'm weird that way). After the customary round of "why God why" was completed, I would roll over and check my Blackberry to see what the day would hold. But that sounds too banal. It really was a thing of beauty. Clearly, my advanced dance background has something to do with the grace and extension involved in plucking the device from the nightstand.

Today, I woke at 5:55am without panic. Intellectually, I knew that I had nowhere to be. Instinctually, however, I executed my roll, extend, hold and… got nothing. There was a moment of genuine consternation.

I sat up.

My Blackberry was gone.

Oh, right. New Life. New world. New adventure.

But… um… who am I without my Blackberry?

Sure, I hated the incessant buzzing and flashing red lights. It interrupted everything and all the time—vacation time, sleep time, Californication set time (unacceptable!)… But I realize that it was also shorthand with people: that's right, I'm employed and "important" because only someone truly vital to their organization would be this constantly in demand and/or connected to a small, annoying electronic device. It became part of my identity. I was always checking it.

And now I'm… uh…not sure exactly…

But it's only Day 1 of the new life. One step at a time. There is bound to be some separation anxiety in this transition, right? Eventually, my hands will stop shaking, and I will find a new device to bolster my ego and hide behind—I mean, a new and better purpose…obviously.

Just out of curiosity, though, is there therapy for this sort of thing?



Friday, April 15, 2011

End of the Road

Remember this blog: ? Well, the question posed there might not have been a rhetorical one.

I've found myself at the end of one particular career path. While I won't go into details, I began to wonder why I was doing the things I was doing. And while no one loves to complain more than I do (hello, I have a blog), even I couldn't listen to my complaints anymore. Deep down I knew that the only person who could make me happy was me—so I'm taking a leap.

I'm taking the next year off from my normal life.

I'm leaving my job of 16+ years. I'm leaving stability and consistency for something completely unknown.

I started pre-school at 2 ½ years old. I worked in the interim year between college and graduate school, and I've never been without a plan. But at this moment, I literally have no idea what I'm going to do. I want to travel. I want to write. I think "Executive Producer and Writer" sound like excellent titles when paired with my name. I want to take random classes on art history at the Getty in the middle of the day on a Tuesday—just because. I want to take internships to see another side of the world around me and not worry about the fact that they don't pay, or don't pay much. I want to learn to play tennis. I want to finish a book in less than two months (reading one or writing one). I want to go to an airport, stand in front of the departures board and pick a flight. I want to be invested in whatever I'm doing, and eventually, I would like to feel like I count again.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't had a moment or twenty of panic in the last two weeks. The paperwork alone has been stunning. I'm absolutely certain in the coming weeks I will have at least one all consuming desire to beg for my job back while rocking back and forth asking myself, "What the hell was I thinking?"

Ok, that's likely to happen more than once.

No one is suddenly going to knock on my door and offer me a better life (and let's face it, when someone knocks on my door, I don't answer it), so this is my attempt at taking it. If this experiment ends with me broke and begging for my old life back, I'm going to seem stupid. If this experiment is successful, I'm going to seem brave and insightful.

Today is my last day.

It's the end of the road. Or at least that road.

Stay tuned…

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Rule of the First

We all agree that cheating is bad. It shouldn't be done. It should be avoided at all costs. You never want to be the other woman (unless you were one of my friends in college who thought that a guy cheating with you meant you were special because he was risking something). And so on. I can see you all nodding and smiling from behind your computer screens right now.

We are all in agreement. We are all entirely virtuous. Almost entirely. Mostly. In theory.

But there is a secret—a little discussed, but much adhered to axiom, referred to as "The Rule of the First."

And now some of you are starting to shift uncomfortably.

You know what I'm talking about.

Under normal circumstances, you would never bed a married man—unless you had been with him first… before her… before the current wife. You had him first, and there is a little part of you that will always feel like you have a prior claim… a greater claim.

I think about my own situations—one in particular. While I have zero interest in rekindling a relationship with The Ex anymore, I recognize that he would be my greatest temptation. There is simply too much history for me to say with 100% honesty that there wouldn't be at least a moment where I would consider it. And that's crazy because I'm the most law abiding, inflexible, uptight person you are going to meet. But late at night at a friend's wedding with wine and memories flowing… danger.

I'd like to believe I wouldn't give into it. I'd like to believe he wouldn't give in to it. But that whisper of "mine" and "first" would always be there.

I've seen the normally morally sound fall to it.

"He realizes he never should have married her."

"We never should have ended it."

"They are only still together because of the kids."

"He's never been able to forget us."

"We know it's wrong, but we've never felt as connected to other people as we do one another."

"It's our second chance."

"I was there first."

There is no doubt that "The Rule of the First" leads down a path of tears and frustration—and the possible burning of his gifts on a front lawn (I may have meant that euphemistically). So why is it so powerful? Why do the generally sane fall victim to the delusion? Is it all ego? Is it winning (and not in the Charlie Sheen sense)? Will you end up feeling triumph in addition to the connection because he's choosing you (however temporarily)? Or is there really just a sense that you were there first and that the next girlfriend/wife is only an interloper who can't possibly understand the depth of what you shared?


Friday, April 08, 2011

No Strings Attached

Kelly at HLN sent this video clip over from Dr. Drew (Dr. Drew airs weeknights on HLN at 9pm ET/PT), and I felt like I had to share because it's long been a topic of debate among my friends and I.

If you've been reading this blog for more than 20 seconds, you know where I'm going to fall in this debate: I'm not capable of having "no strings attached" sex. But honestly, I don't know why anyone would want it. All sex has risks: STDs, pregnancy, your one night stand turns out to be an axe murderer... If you think those things aren't life changing, I think you are crazy. I like to limit the number of people who might come within a vague proximity of me. I'm sure as heck going to limit the number of people wandering around inside of me.

Sure, "it's just sex" sounds like an easy approach to scratch a temporary itch. But try propositioning him this way: "It's just an act that can lead to the creation of another human being if the condom breaks—bring on the child support!" Still hot?

Why take those extraordinary risks if you don't care about someone? Literally, life and death are at issue—I'm going to need a little bit more than a wink and smile.

Now, let's pretend that the "no strings" guy isn't a stranger, but rather someone you know. If you are friendly enough with him (and attracted enough) to be able to suggest this, aren't there already feelings involved? Is this an ongoing thing? Are you honestly not going to be a little hurt if he finds someone he actually wants a relationship with and starts avoiding you at work (or at the apartment complex laundry room on Thursday nights)? I don't care how many rules are put in place—people are emotional creatures. Sex puts you in extremely vulnerable positions (so to speak). You have to trust the person you are with to some degree. Given that, I would argue that if you are even contemplating this, there is already an emotional response in play. And I know that the thinking is that you are both using each other, so it won't matter if someone wants to end it. But does anyone really cheer about being a user or being used? Is that the thing that makes you wistful on warm summer nights?

Not shockingly, I agree with Dr. Drew: "It sounds good on paper, [but] something I like to point out to my viewers -- communism looks good on paper too, it just doesn't work so good in real life when you're dealing with humans."


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Blind Date

I have agreed… wait for it… to be set up on a blind date… sort of.

I know. My life is all topsy-turvy and unexpected these days. Black is white. Cats are dogs. Structure and atrophy are swapping places regularly in my mind.

As all things do that are good and pure, this idea started on a bet between a friend and I. She claims that under the right circumstances, I would succumb to a particular gentleman's charms and agree to a date (or in the case that he ends up being the reluctant one—I would then be madly intrigued and pursue him). Being open-minded, I countered that this notion was nonsense because the right conditions would never be present (and both of us are way too passive to pursue anything, let alone each other).

She believes I win by losing. I believe I win by winning because I'd be perfectly happy just being buddies with this guy—also losing seems unlikely.

She has three months to make this magic happen.

Stay tuned.


P.S. Have any of you agreed to be set up by a friend? Has it ever been anything but a complete disaster (she says with her mind still completely open and accepting of the possibilities)?

Friday, April 01, 2011

1 Year

Say that some force of nature, or your own insanity, allows you to have one year off from your normal life. In this scenario, there are no kids (probably), an easy mortgage/rent scenario and some money (not a fortune) in the bank. These are your parameters. BUT you cannot continue working at your present job (and you can't return). In other words, you are completely free for one year to try anything you want to try. What do you do?

I imagine that there are some of you reading this blog that love your jobs/careers so much that you would do them anyway—or find a way to pursue those same things, but in a different way. For some, the idea could be a bit paralyzing because there are so many things you want to do, and you aren't sure where to start. For others, the idea of not having more money coming in, even though you would be completely stable without it for that year, would mean you'd automatically seek out other paid work.

What is the thing that you would gravitate towards in this situation? I'm partial to Bewitched marathons on the couch, myself.

Could you spend your days going to museums and trying a class?

Would you stay at the beach for a year?

Would you head to Africa for a year to work with an NGO?

Would you try many different things and go from internship to internship?

Would you head to Greece and write that long-awaited novel?

What would you do?