Archive | January 2012

A Ham is Born

Those who love me will readily admit that I am a big ham. They will happily spend at least an hour telling you how charming and adorable my insatiable cravings for attention and affirmation are. They’ll also tell you how worth it putting up with me is because everything that comes out of my mouth is so clever and amazing that they would never want me to deny the world the joy of hearing it. Those who love me will tell you this because they know if they don’t, that I will light myself on fire and that they’ll be next.

I exaggerate (or do I?), but it is true that I love to perform. I have been known to start acting a little weird when I haven’t been on stage for a while. If I have ever done a dramatic monologue loosely based on Mufasa’s death scene from The Lion King for you, all I can say is that you really should have known what you were getting yourself into with me.

Dad! Wake up Dad! We gotta see the Savanna!

I guess I hadn’t given much thought to the roots of my hammy ways until recently, though, when my childhood best friend Kelly sent me some old home movies that her mom had transferred to DVD and put online. I spent an hour and a half watching old birthday parties, choreographed dances, and random play dates that we had insisted on filming. It was adorable, and I came away with several observations.

First, I guess have always been a camera hog. At one of Kelly’s birthday parties, everyone took turns during cake time playing camera man, giggling and filming the rest of the girls at the table. Can you guess who dodged camera duty? That’s right, this bitch. Instead, I followed the camera around, repeating, “This is Genevieve reporting for NBC live from Kelly’s dining room” for about five minutes before I began  scream-singing “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” from the movie Aristocats. Yeah, you’re welcome, everyone.

Though I tried my 9-year-old damnedest to dominate birthday footage, my love of being on camera truly reached a fever pitch one afternoon when Kelly and I filmed a movie that I had written starring my four stuffed cats, Mizzy, Pickles, Soft Classsics*, and Fluffy. The basic plot of The Mizzy Movie is that all four cats are sisters, but Fluffy, the oldest, is a total bitch-diva. Fluffy leaves the others alone one night, and they order pizza, get a little rowdy, accidentally burst a gas line in the house, then accidentally light a match and the whole house explodes. Fluffy arrives home to discover the destruction, and as punishment, locks Mizzy in a shed, ties Pickles to a tree, and traps Soft Classics with a net. When the three heroes naturally escape, they retaliate by tying Fluffy up. Cuz that’ll show her. And, scene.

Left to right: Me, Fluffy, Mizzy, Pickles, and Soft Classics

It wound up being a very rough, Blair-witchy type film. I acted as master puppeteer, narrator, and voice talent for all the characters. If there are any producers out there who think the The Mizzy Movie could be a success, I’d be happy to develop it further. My only stipulations are that it is still filmed with a hand held camera and I still get to play all the parts. Also, the gas leak is non-negotiable.

Kelly, I love you for sending this to me. Not only was it extremely cute, but it gave me some great insight into my present day personality, and allowed me to reach an important conclusion. Those who love me have no choice but to embrace the ham. It’s never going away.

*Soft Classics, or S.C. for short, is named so because the toy company had attatched a tag that looked like a collar with the brand title printed on it, and I assumed that was the cat’s name. Hammy, I was. Creative with names, not so much.

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Up In Smoke

I’ve played tennis most of my life.  It was love at first whack when I started hitting an old tennis ball with a yard sale racquet against the garage door.  Through the years, I improved and progressed.  I reached a point where I had delusional moments of grandeur;  I pictured myself at Wimbledon and the French Open. Oh, the glory!

Ummm, not gonna happen

Those moments didn’t last too long, especially after an embarassing loss to a girl wearing jean cut-offs and dangly Snoopy earrings at the high school state tournament.  That was tough to forget.

Next, a chunky college player, who made me do ALL the running.  That stung a little.

A few years later, the topper, or so I thought; a rout by a woman twenty years older, who never seemed to miss a shot, nor sweat.  Little did I know, the worst was yet to come.

In my 40’s, I happened to land on a great women’s tennis team that progressed through several qualifying tournaments to reach the Nationals.  I hadn’t been this excited about really anything (aside from things like ice cream and a clean garage) in a long time.  I trained hard: lessons, weight lifting, even jogging. I cut back on the wine (a little).  The only problem was the coincidence with my 25th wedding anniversary.  My husband cancelled all of our Napa Valley, romantic weekend, French Laundry reservations and rebooked us into a Holiday Inn, Tucson, Arizona.  Just a tiny bit of pouting; manageable, considering this was a moment of a lifetime for me.

The tournament began with stifling conditions.  Humidity, 100+degrees, lots of wind.  I played my heart out, as did the team. We won one match and lost the next two.  All the matches were closely contested.  Our team was out of the running for a trophy, but we had one match left and we were going to play for pride, damn it!

My husband, Jeff, hadn’t watched any of the play, as he couldn’t be bothered to leave the pool.  He decided to quit being a pouty baby and show up for my last match.

I introduced myself to my opponent, a fit, tiny woman who looked about 30 years old.  Great…a scrambler and young;  this didn’t look good for me. About 45 minutes later, I shook hands with her again.  I was a 6-0, 6-1 loser.  I said to myself, “It’s O.K., not too bad for your age.  At least you made it to Nationals”.  I gathered my things and walked off the court.  Jeff greeted me with a hug and said, “Hey Babe, I’m really glad I left the pool for that.  I thought you should know that the woman you played lit up a cigarette the minute she left the court”.

Tucson, Arizona.

September, 2008.

An ego went up in smoke.

This is apparently how you win matches

Super Seniors

Super Seniors: Then

My parents just left after spending three weeks here.  It’s fitting that it’s pouring rain today, as it reflects our feeling that these two little rays of sunshine have taken their party and gone home.  Fortunately, they left their hostess gift behind: a BoomBlaster Electronic Fart Machine.

Despite the fact that we squeezed eight people into a four bedroom, two bathroom house, they were ever cheerful.  No problem with the noise, too much shared bathroom information and the general jumble of the household.  These super seniors dressed each day prepared for any possibility of activity, from a museum visit, to lunch, to a stroll around the neighborhood. Cocktail hour?  It’s only 3 o’clock?  Why yes, I’ll have one.  Cashmere sweaters: on. Hip jewelry: of course. Full head of styled hair: in place. Dad looked like the Mayor of Palm Springs and Mom channeled the owner of a modern art gallery.

While they were here, Mom knit a complete sweater for herself, while watching a LOT of Real Housewives. Dad, (if he wasn’t golfing with the boys), spent the day reading the paper in the sun by the pool.  He perfected READING the paper.  He had to be ready for dinner conversation with the latest updates in the world, especially the weather. Lots about the weather…everywhere. They both did a bunch of shelf organization. We can’t find anything anymore, but it really looks sharp. They also spent some time plotting the evening victim of the fart machine.  The best one was when they taped it under my husband’s chair. That made for some dazzling dinner conversation.  By the time they left they still hadn’t figured out how to turn on the T.V., and never did manage to answer their cell phones on the first attempt, but by God, they had that fart machine down to a science.

Family dinners were an event, with candles lit and lots of wine.  Conversation was lively, which really means loud, as they are kind of old.  Mom thinks an eye lift would be kind of fun, my Dad can’t understand the “hooligans” of  Occupy Wall Street.  They had lots of opinions about everything; they were rarely asked for, but freely given, often.  Gingrich was a fun target, especially that account at Tiffany’s, and his wife Callista.  We heard about their schedule at home:  coffee group, neighborhood martini parties, wine Fridays, golfing, skiing at 78, because he’s waited a hell of a long time for it to be free, funerals, their part-time jobs, driving three hours to have brunch with friends from 1962.  Apparently, just about any Wednesday is an excuse for a gathering…even the summer solstice is a night out.

Mom and Dad are the kind of people who give you a trophy for just being you.  They tell you that you look great…every day!  They think you do a good job… on everything!  They think you’re the best…all the time!  They seem to marvel at a lot of little stuff that is easy to overlook.  They’re still really excited to see what’s going to happen next, for their family and especially, what’s on the next episode of Masterpiece Theater.  They’re really just a good time, all the time.

Now that they’re gone, the house doesn’t have the same kind of perky atmosphere.  I guess we’re back to the usual, which means Ben doesn’t have to fake being charming anymore and we don’t have as much of an excuse to open the wine on a Tuesday.  The fart machine has been put away.

We hope to get them back here for another visit, I’m waiting for them to let me know when they can fit us in…

Super Seniors: Now

Klife Klessons

I started my new job yesterday. Before you lose your lunch with excitement, it’s just a reception gig. It is none too exciting, but steady work nonetheless. For me, this comes at a great time for a number of reasons. First, yesterday was Chinese New Year, launching the year of the dragon, which is my year, so it seemed a good day to start new things. Second, my bank account is dwindling, and I’m pretty sure I would go into some kind of withdrawal if I could not afford my tofu red curry on the regular. Finally, I discovered over the weekend that Keeping up with the Kardashians is on Netflix instant, and if I were not otherwise occupied I would spend the whole day watching it. 10 points to anyone who can guess how many episodes I watched on Sunday. Hint: it was more than the number of points you would get.

I’m pretty impressed with my brain today, because despite my best efforts to melt it, it is still functioning as of press time. Amazing, because I spent a solid 40 minutes of my Sunday entranced by the drama as Kim and her old nose bought a Bentley, punched Khloe for shutting a door in her face, pouted her way through a family ski trip, and then literally ran away from home because the rest of the krew had decided to stop watching her pout and instead go dogsledding.  Her blatant cry for attention worked because Kardashians and Jenners alike apologized for making her feel bad, even though it was totally clear that she was being the asshole. Yeah, sorry Ben, but she’s still a major douche. Also, Bruce had a midlife crisis. Hilarious.

It is troubling that successful adult women can act this way on television and have everybody feel ok about it, and then give her a People’s Choice Award. It encourages a hideous amount of unjustified self-importance. I found myself embarrassed watching it, because I think I behaved a lot like that when I was in middle school, minus the Bentley, and, of course, the sex tape. There is a study that says that people who watch reality television accept and expect more drama in their lives.  Given how many people watch reality tv, I guess I should probably hedge my bets and start throwing tantrums all the time. Kris Jenner types really respond to that, and they are clearly the most powerful kind of people.

But what I really like about the Kardashians is that not only are they constantly watching old home movies and crying together, they are also constantly learning lessons that a thinking human wouldn’t need to be taught. Khloe will wrap up an episode saying something like, “This was a good lesson for me. I learned that I shouldn’t set my brother up on a blind date and then go to the restaurant to spy on him.” Who knew? While she learned that, I learned that blind dates with Rob Kardashian are about as fun as a pap smear. Honestly, Khloe, we both should have known.

This week, I will apply all Kardashian thinking, contradictory though it may be, to my daily (namely my brand new workplace) life. Because I learned that the key to success is to scream a lot in desperate bids for attention, whine about how hard work is, and also be nice to my family. Who knew?

Word of the Day: Pleasant

Hello friends and internet! I’m Julia and I’ve taken on the daunting task of corresponding on all things pleasant. I’d like to think it’s my specialty, given the sometimes outrageous lengths I will go to in order to make my life more pleasant.  Of course, when I say “all things pleasant,” I mostly mean desserts. I often bake more than is acceptable for someone that doesn’t live with an army of hungry teenage boys, but it’s the only way I know how to exist.

I graduated this past May and did what any typical college graduate seeking excitement and new opportunities would do:  I continued to live in the same apartment and go to the same school. I put off the real world just a little bit longer and went to grad school for education. I’m about to start full-time student teaching in kindergarten, which simultaneously makes me excited and exhausted. But as much as I love kindergarten, I like my kitchen the best. Unlike kindergarten, it always smells good, it’s appropriate to use knives, and I can listen to the country fitness Pandora station as loudly as I want. There’s something weirdly calming about beating your fists into bread dough, as I would imagine Carrie Underwood would be doing if “Before He Cheats” was set in a bakery and not a bar parking lot.

Since I spend most of my time alternating between grad school and my kindergarten class, I have to be even more ruthless about forcing pleasantries into my life. I’ve always gone out of my way to decorate my living space, make useless crafts, and have baked goods at the ready. Grad school isn’t gonna stop me now.  I’d like to think it’s my job on this blog to cut the sarcasm with recipes and pictures of cookies. Or add the sarcasm to the internet discourse on cookies. Maybe both.

Do I need to backup my claims of pleasantries? Here's some proof.

 

See ya soon, with cookies and pie and other delightful things.

Love, Julia

FRIENDS (*cue music*)

Yoga teacher-training class

For me, like most others, the worst part about graduation (other than the incessant questions about my future) was saying goodbye to all of my closest friends – those who I have laughed with, cried with…and those who have laughed at me while I cried. Cheesy as it sounds, I knew I was going to miss them terribly (gross, I know). And of course, being an English major, I dramatized this situation in my head by dwelling over how I’m NEVER going to find friends like this EVER again and how NO ONE is going to be as close to me…blah blah blah.

Boy was I right! Well, partly. (Don’t worry; I am not a creepy, asocial hobo-lady who rides the metro all day.)

But, I did realize that college is the one time when thousands of people, in the same phase of life, surround you at every waking moment. Though there maybe differences in personality and interests, almost everyone has come with one purpose in mind: to find his or her drinking limit.

The real world, however, is not like that. There is no perfect community of hormone-raging strangers your age, who conveniently live within walking distance. And sometimes one can be surprised, if not shocked, at the kind of friends one finds after graduation. After pursuing a few hobbies and taking up new activities, here’s a list of some of my new friends.

Gabi the Fire-dancer: Yes, she dances with fire. And I know – it’s pretty incredible. She is a dance major at our community college and does shows in DC. For all of those who are wondering, there is a special kind of insurance for this profession.  However I don’t know what it’s called – but I’m sure it sounds badass.

Tai-chi Grampa: I cannot spell/say his name, so I just refer to him as tai-chi grampa. He is a 64-year-old Taiwanese man and in my yoga teacher training program; we’ve had lunch together (yes, it was sushi). He has more strength in his left pinky then I have in my entire upper body.

My mom’s close friends: So since I moved back home, I have systematically stolen my mom’s friends. Over the summer, my mom’s stay-at-home friends invited me for lunch because they hadn’t seen me for so long. Since then, we haven’t looked back. Now, going out to lunch with them is a regular thing. When my mom calls me during the day, I say, “Hey mom. Can I call you back? I’m actually out to lunch with Smita aunty.” And of course, all we do is gossip. We gossip about all the ladies in the friend circle, most of whom I don’t know. But I still smile and nod…and gasp when something is especially scandalous. I actually feel like I’m a part of the Real Housewives of Gaithersburg (look it up…it’s not too far from Winchester). Except that I go to school…and am still unmarried. And I haven’t gotten a nose job.

the TastyKabob Vendor: There’s a food truck on GW campus called TastyKabob that serves really good kabobs in pita bread. The first month of school, I was so nervous about the whole grad school process that I didn’t really explore much. But after I started to get the hang of it, I explored straight to this one food truck. I’m quite the wild child. Anyways, I went there so often that I made friends with the vendor. Well it started out because I would always ask for “extra” hot sauce – some on the pita and some on the side. And after the first few times, he would say “Ohh you are that spicy girl!” (I know it’s a weird thing to be known by.) But yeah, we talked about our backgrounds and our favorite foods…and the next thing I knew, I was stopping by his truck on my way to the library just to say hi.

Hmm, now that I look over this list of friends…I should probably start talking to people in my classes.

 

Old Fashion

I’m living my life backwards.  I moved to Los Angeles at 50 and realized fairly quickly that I’m 30 years too late getting here.  I really don’t belong in the land of sun and abundance of exposed flesh. I should have been here hanging on the beach, when I had long, swingy hair, a bikini ready body and smooth, toned skin.  That was sooo 1982. Unfortunately and unavoidably, I now have an abundance of flesh that absolutely should not be exposed.  Really, anybody my age should be keeping it all covered.  I’ve thought on occasion that wearing a burka would be a good fashion choice for me, if it didn’t come with the whole loss of civil rights thing and the religious connotations.  It would be so easy to throw it on and walk out the door with confidence.  I wouldn’t have to think about my saggy elbows, the weird stuff above my knees, the hard evidence that laying out on foil with baby oil, the summer of my senior year in high school, would have long term consequences to my neck.

Sigh. A woman can dream...

The problem with living here is a culture of trying really hard to look 21, whether you’re 14 or 50 plus; it’s just not attractive on either end of the spectrum.   I’ve seen my share of teenage wanna-be Playboy Playmates, women my age in clothing that looks like they’re in a Mexican telenovela, and older men in rapper style shorts with a calf tattoo of Donald Duck.

This is apparently a thing

There are way too many opportunities to expose body parts here in the Southland, whether they deserve exposure or not.  Too much TMI.  You merely have to point out what has happened to that Smiley face tattoo on the shoulder of the woman in front of you to your teenager.  Life lesson about tattoos on sagging skin: check.

I’m talking to you Too Tight Yoga Pants. Just say no Tiny Tank Top.  I’m tired of looking at you Muffin Top Thong.  I like to think that I’m a decent example of how to dress in an age appropriate manner.I don’t want to look at it and I want to spare others the view too. Neck to toe coverage, usually in black.  Sometimes I’ll go with navy blue, if I’m feeling perky.  Loose, unbelted, flowy…perfect.   I’m just going to go with my sparkling personality, and wear good jewelry, as it’s all I’ve got left.  That, and a hope that someday I’ll be back in the northwest, with a legitimate reason to cover up (because it’s cold) in head-to-toe polar fleece….ahhh, the height of  fashion.

I would say something to her mother, but she's probably wearing the same thing

Kim Kardashian: Hero

In honor of MLK Day and the most recent roasting of her on the Golden Globes (toally related), I offer this piece up for your mastication.  Just call it an ode to all things odious…

Living in Los Angeles, you get celebrity updates from all sorts of news outlets, more so than you would anywhere else in America.  And of course, since the blowout wedding and subsequent fairytale divorce, there has been no lack of fodder when it comes to the Kardashian klan, specifically Kim.

While most of the articles written about her have been justifiably negative (and the treatment of her (ex)husband, Mutant Taylor Lautner, even worse), there is one side of her that the tabloids, mainstream media, and Barbra Walters have all missed: gay rights activist.

It’s no secret that Kim Kardashian is gay friendly, as can be seen by her asexual best-friend-who-just-hasn’t-found-the-right-woman-yet, Jonathan .  However, no one knew just how gay friendly ol’ Kimmy was until she single-handedly obliterated the ‘sanctity of marriage’ argument through her wedding of a lifetime to Mutant Taylor Lautner.

(As an aside, I would like to explain why I am referring to Kris Humphries as ‘Mutant Taylor Lautner’.  Here’s why:)

(As a tangent of this aside, it would also be possible to refer to Taylor Lautner as ‘Mutant Alpaca’.  Here’s why:)

For years, millions of Americans have argued the pros and cons of gay marriage, and have reached a stalemate.  Opponents have resoundly defended that marriage is a sacred act between a man and a woman.  Supporters have forcefully argued that marriage should be about love, regardless of gender.  Kim Kardashian just took a giant shit on those who oppose gay marriage (and those who support any sort of long term committment in general.  Like dieting) It’s really quite impressive that something billed as the American ‘Wedding of the Century’ could turn out to be the biggest P.R. stunt in support of gay marriage.  Only Kim Kardashian could take the earnest belief in true love that red-blooded Americans felt while watching her wedding ceremony in a four-hour-two-night special on E!, and crush it between her extremely taut buttcheeks. 

There is no argument against gay marriage anymore.  Sanctity of marriage?  More like sanctity of fulfilling contractual obligations with a television network.  If you ever find yourself in an argument about gay marriage, all you have to do is say ‘Kim Kardashian’, and the argument is won.  Maybe someday in the future, there will be a challenge to this ‘Wedding of the Century’ with a ‘Gay Wedding of the Century’, which is exactly the same as Kim’s except that there’s 7 fewer crystals. 

So going forward, I ask that your opinions of ol’ Kimmy be tempered in light of this new perspective.  History books will be rewritten to put Kim Kardashian in a revered place alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Susan B. Anthony as a true pioneer for human rights.  I look forward to the day when my kids come home to me and say, “Dad, I have to right a report of gay rights activist Kim Kardashian.”  I also look forward to taking my kids to her fabulously leopard-printed and diamond-encrusted grave at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and paying homage to such a brave and fearless trailblazer. 

Love ya, babe.

A Scorpio in January

At the start of every month, I like to do a couple of things. I like to order Thai food, get my eyebrows waxed, and read my horoscope to prepare myself for the coming 30 or so days. In my experience, horoscopes get a lot of crap for being “fake” and “a waste of time”. But come on, how can you not get excited when some lady in the internet tells you that your “weekend of January 21 is full of sparkly energy” ? I’m pulling out my best sequined gear already.

Full disclosure, I don’t actually believe in my horoscope. If every Scorpio really did have a “grand old” week from the 8th through the 14th, I’m pretty sure it would be on the news or something. Plus, I would like to think myself too special to fall under the overwhelming blanket of personality and fate prescribed by the Universe.  But this month, Astrologist Susan Miller got at least 2 things right.

The only woman I trust more than my mom

First, she said that “With your third and ninth houses of publishing emphasized this month, you may now get more involved in social media or update your blog or website.” HELLO? Spooky, right? Who even knew I had one house of publishing, let alone nine! Maybe I have more! I’m calling it now, the day my fifth and one hundred-sixteenth houses of publishing are in line with Saturn’s butthole is the day I win my Pulitzer. For this blog. Ok, moving on.
Next, she said, “on January 12 you have an outstanding day when Mars will reach out to the Sun in Capricorn. This would be a fantastic day to…have an interview.” WHICH I DID! And I think I sounded somewhat competent! I’ll hear about it next week, so stay tuned.

Susan’s eerily solid predictions about my January got me a pretty excited when I moved into the romance section of my reading. As a lonely, this is the best part of the whole Horoscope. This month, it read as follows:

“Your most romantic day of the month, lucky you, falls on a Saturday, on January 14, when Venus and Jupiter combine energies. The day will be divine, for Venus in your house of love will send a signal to Jupiter in your house of commitment and closeness. No matter if you are single or attached, this day shimmers with romantic vibrations.”

So something like this

Here’s how it really went. On my shimmering vibrator day of love hope, I woke up late, feeling kind of stuffy. I thought about going to yoga, but decided instead on brunch, promising myself I’d go to a later class. I didn’t. Instead, watched my friend play video games and then went and farted around in a yarn store for a while before deeming everything too expensive, and leaving. I stopped in a deli and picked up some jalapeño  potato chips, then I went home, got in bed, watched Netflix, and ate a shit ton of jalapeño  potato chips. Nice work, Venus and Jupiter. Thank you SO much.

Disappointed, though this left me, I have no intention of bagging the horoscope thing in general. I know it’s useless, but I really like the idea of some lady sitting on an oriental rug somewhere telling the whole world what is going to happen to them every month. Ah, to have a job like that. I love oriental rugs. And apparently, it’s not a bad gig. Susan Miller is speaking in New York at the beginning of February for a modest ticket price of $125.00. For another $65 I could have a private three-course lunch with her. Most romantic day of the month? Talk about the most romantic day of my LIFE! What do you think? Should I go?

Horoscopes aside, I am pretty excited for 2012. It’s finally the year of the dragon! How could this not be my year?

Golden Globes

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