Monday, 11 July 2011

Thought of the Morning 37


This morning I saw a woman walking down the street, digging into a giant gas station "single serving" bag of cheese puffs for breakfast. My first instinct was the usual adult disgust: "Ugh, how could she eat those for breakfast? She's ruining her health!"

But then, there was that ever-so-tiny voice of the 10-year-old me, the me who couldn't wait for the day she could grow up and do whatever she wanted, that's said, "Awesome!"

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thought of the Morning 35

Now this blog's on Tumblr and people are forced to read this crap. Ha ha ha. The joke's on you. http://sollyd.tumblr.com/

Thought of the Morning 36


So many people in big cities, like LA, claim to be writers. To be a writer, I think, a real one, is being your craft. Even when you’re not actually writing because daily life crap mangles your time, you’re experiencing every moment immersed in this sort of romanticized way in your mind; as though it’s being written on a page for “post-humous” interpretation.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Thought of the Morning 34

Listening to the song bumpin' at 7 a.m. outside my window, I'm struck with the vivid realization that I can't stand Jay-Z's voice and lazy intonation when he raps.

I do feel guilty on so many levels that I dig this "oldie":


P.S. He DOES deliver this rap gem: "I been spendin' hundreds since they had small faces." --just gets better with age. Nice one, Jay.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Rec'd Rec For You!


Been listening the heck out of this album by El Ten Eleven, "It's Still Like a Secret". I downloaded and forgot about it, my hyper life and obsession with rock-tronica fusions taking a frontrow. But *facepalm* THIS is good. Their best yet.
Vibe: Experimental rock instrumental/soundtrack. Not rocked OUT, it's rocked UP. Playfully heart-lifting, just what you want to hear when you're contemplating the beauty of the world from a lengthy stretch of desert freeway--or you're stuck in traffic and want a soundtrack that makes you want to do so. If you haven't yet downloaded them, you have incentive, as it's only $8 on this site (http://elteneleven.bandcamp.com/album/its-still-like-a-secret).

(And they jam live, so catch them on tour before it ends): http://www.elteneleven.com/secret/shows/

Monday, 13 June 2011

Obituary

R.I.P. "ThaRevRob" Northrup-- turntablist, father, friend to many, and someone you don't easily forget. Damnit. I'm regretting not seeing you the last time you were here. But maybe it was better that way, to continue missing you the same way, not having seen you in ages. Either way, it was too soon, buddy.

This is a reminder to reach out to your friends, just to say, "Hey, how are ya?" Time is watery, it pulls the sand from under our feet.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Thought of the Morning 32


I get the best phrases from my gays. From now on, I'm going to respond to everything, good or bad, with a deadpan, "That's cute."

Monday, 30 May 2011

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Fatigue. It's a python that slowly coils itself around your frantically beating heart and squeeze, squeeze, squeezes (brief homage to Suzanne Somers) the last pathetic drops of your brain's vital essence, the juice that keeps you from doing dumb stuff like dropping your keys five times while trying to open your door, or missing the turn to your own street on the way home from work. The thing is, you don't REALLY realize the extent of the damage until you escape fatigue's cold clutches. Only then do you realize that your half-functioning brain (if that) even functions at full capacity. After weeks of 6-minus hours of sleep per night, after a full weekend of NOTHING but rest, rest, rest, am I feeling like a human being. Begone, foul zombie of the night of no return! I'm whole again, and I am thankful.

People in this country wear fatigue like a badge of honor. You tell someone that you've only slept 6 hours the previous night, and that person feels obligated to one-up your sleep deprivation by claiming to only have slept 5. Wayyy to go, buddy. You're even more of a zombie than I am. Let's see who can be the MOST sleep deprived so that we can all function like idiots. Good god, no wonder people are sniffling and sneezing every five minutes in this country! If anything kills us all, it will be lack of sleep.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of workers in the world: One is the so-called "workaholic", who, through a clearly learned sense of misplaced workplace ethics clocks in and does not clock out until "the job is done." This is the guy or gal who's always at the office, slaving away at his or her desk, freaking out over the heaps and heaps of work that has to be done.

Worker two is the "work is just a job" worker. This worker places his or her own personal well-being over the importance of the job getting done, and will not compromise his or her own life for work. These people seem to be the happier bunch, overall, and are generally more productive than the first worker, who usually, in spite of his or her best intentions, actually lowers his or her productivity level by burning out too quickly.

Admittedly, because I work for a start-up and because there are certain things that have ridden on my back recently, I've been more of a Worker #1. Yuck. Adjusting to growing pains, however, I will soon switch over to being mostly Worker #2, mostly because, um, I want to have a life, and because I want to actually get back into writing projects and running, which, with being Worker #1, is practically impossible because of the aforementioned fatigue.

So, goal #1 is simple: sleep more, work less. And the rest snaps right into place as it should. No more zombie. Braiiinnnsss, I need Braiiinnnsss!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Relativity (A Theory, so I Hypothesize)


Back in 1981 in Los Angeles, an artist was booed off stage for his flamboyant mannerisms and funky style. Last night, an entire coliseum of people waved their hands and roared in response to this same artist, whose worldwide fame is now so mind-blowing, that he can quietly announce an impromptu show, any time, anywhere in the world and it will be sold out within the first few hours.

Seeing Prince perform his gleaming carousel of hits (along with original protegee, Sheila E.) at the L.A. Forum in Inglewood was inspiring. I watched his face as he stood, soaking up the unrivaled cacophony of audience screams, and caught a glimpse of genuine appreciation, or so it seemed. Even though, no doubt, he's been performing for screaming fans for many years, to be here, in Los Angeles, and receive the overwhelming swell of love and admiration from tens of thousands of people, I wondered if, every time, he thought, "I can't believe this is for me."

Maybe that's just me injecting a bit of myself into the mix. I can relate to Prince in a way, being a bit different from the rest, a stand-out creative in a buttoned-up world. His lifelong perseverance in doing what he loved to do reminds me to keep writing, no matter what.

I'm just getting my fingers warmed up to jam out some great stuff. ;)

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Empathy is learned. Not like sympathy, which can be taught in school or via social activity, empathy is something that somewhere along the line either we gather or we don't. In fact, if you followed empathy to its source, you'd find somewhere down the line a repeated pattern of behavior wherein a person is unable to turn away from his or her fellow man or woman. He or she sees a bit of himself or herself in that person in need of a helping hand, or a small sliver of humanity. Empathy may be the most valuable thing we have as human beings.

Not to knock sympathy, I mean, of course we all need sympathy, but it's not the same. A sympathetic person can toss a few bucks into a tin cup and be on their way. I have family members like that, who think that tossing a few bucks to help a charity every now and again makes them a good person. And, sure, all things considered, the money probably means a lot to the organizations that it helps, but, in total, the giver understands very little of the meaning of the gift.

It's this disconnect that has elected officials blind and deaf to the plight of the people, no matter how many rise against injustices. Whether you're for or against current health care reform, look after our people. Listen to them, hear their words. Health care reform has become so politicized, it would be funny, except that we're playing with people's lives. And, keep in mind, that health care debates would not be such an issue, had our economy not tanked in the very first place. Now we're still bleeding out, and sick people unable to pay for health insurance is one of the unfortunate consequences. Whomever you want to blame, chicken or egg, is nothing compared to this all-you-can-eat buffet of political warfare we have going on. Empathy, folks! Get it together!

Anyway, I'm feeling those little bumpy freeway truck thingys that are telling me that I'm off the main road. Lack of empathy distances people, while empathy brings together those who would never have met. Empathy has gotten me through tough times myself, so I understand its power. The cool thing about empathy is that it's not work. Sympathetic people feel as though, if they volunteer to do something, that they are lifting the weight of the world in one powerful swoop from the backs of unfortunates for just a short time, and oi vay, is that exhausting! Empathy is more like the Nike slogan, you don't think about it, it just flows out naturally, and you can do so much with it without even thinking about it. Just one person, just one simple gift, can mean the world to another human being (or animal, or whatever).

I don't know if non-empathic people can learn empathy later in life, but I guess that anything's possible. Empathy education? I'd put my money in that tin cup.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

I Can't Stand The Rain

Hello world. I'm hungover today. You know you've overdone it the night before when you wake up and your head hurts so bad that you would not be surprised to see the other half of your skull on the pillow still. Advil was required this morning. Oh yes, indeed.

Personal news: I bought a new car! a 2011 Hyundai Elantra. It looks exactly like this:




California has been too wet recently. I mean, yes, it's lovely to see grass lush and plants prospering, but I'm tired of being soggy. As someone who needs to walk a dog several times a day, I am tired of hopping puddles and carrying my dog over huge lakes in the middle of the road because she cannot get though them without soaking her body.

I did break down and get "The Beags" a rain coat. I'm really not the type of doggie parent who believes in dressing up a pooch on a regular basis, however, after the last rain, when Sheila became undeniably drenched and spent the subsequent couple of hours shivering (she hates the blow drier, so we can't do that), I felt like enough of a horrible person that I broke down and bought a cheap little $10 raincoat on Amazon.com. It arrived this week and we used it for the first time this morning. We both felt a little bit stupid, but it worked.

I have no doubt that Coachella will have the same instances of downpour this year that it usually does. April showers, no doubt. I still am debating on whether or not I want to try to find tickets online.

Why did I leave London again?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Thought of the Morning 31


Unlike green clover leaves, letters strung together in clusters of four do not bring good fortune to anyone.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Digital Dating: Going out on dat-a(s)?

So, in recent months, I finally broke down and decided to give the old online dating thing a shot. I mean, "everyone's doing it" (and no, if everyone jumped off of a bridge, I would not be flinging my body on top of the rest of them). It's not because I'm even particularly lonely, but I feel as though I'm good and solid and whole, and ready to have someone else in my life, even as a casual, see you every once in a while thing. However, dating, even online, is not as easy as it looks.

I joined up on OkCupid!, you know, that free online dating site that everyone's joining, because 1) It's free, and 2) it's the first non-pay site that actually kind of behaves like the pay sites. What I liked best about this site was that you could rate people's profiles 1-5 stars and, if that person rated you the same, you'd get a message saying that it was a mutual match. That way, no harm done, you could secretly and slyly find out whether someone you dug, dug you as well.

After the past several months of getting mutual like messages, and follow-ups from eager men fresh on the scent of the chase, and having a few interesting phone calls, a date or two here or there, or an endless volley of emails that led to a dead-end, where conversations dropped like lead weights into a boundless ocean, I became increasingly aware that maybe the free and boundless nature of online dating offered too much choice.

Case in point, I was talking to a guy who seemed absolutely enamored with me. Every letter, he'd go on about how attractive he found me. We had many, many things in common. I mean, so many things, it was almost uncanny. We chattered on back and forth for about 5 or 6 rounds of emails when I decided to round up an email casually offering my phone number to invite him to take our conversation to the next *gasp* level. He replied enthusiastically and offered his number as well, and said that he didn't know WHEN he would call, but that he'd stored my number. I replied back casually, but I knew that, after the number exchange, there were only two choices: A phone call or drop the conversation altogether. What did he do? You're right if you guessed that I haven't heard a squeak from him since.

On the one hand, I guess it's better to know right off the bat if a guy is a coward or emotionally immature, or even if he's "just not that into you." However, I mean to say that, with the advent of Internet dating, people are able to peruse online profiles of potential mates at will. For many men, who, biologically have more of an inclination to be visually attracted to a mate, the variety could be mind-blowing, and, therefore, making a decision on one woman could prove nearly impossible. To further elucidate on this idea, say I need a new raincoat. I could go to the store and find a raincoat, and likely will settle on one I find that fits well and is the right style and price. However, if I go online, I may wind up with several choices, making the final purchase incredibly difficult to decide on, with such a vast selection at my fingertips.

Of course, it's not all black-and-white as that, but I think that the detached browsing functionality of sites makes the whole dating process a bit more difficult. I find myself falling victim to that "plenty of fish in the sea" mentality also. Yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea, but you shouldn't look a good guppy in the mouth...er...you know what I mean.

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Break in the Clouds

This blog's a personal one. Although I have many issues on the dinner table at the moment, which I am more than happy to dig into at some point soon, I should update the people who actually care about my actual life. They're out there, I think. At least, I'm pretty sure that they are. Humor me if I'm wrong.

Bunches of items on the proverbial plate at the moment. Life in general is getting exponentially better.

Career life: I've hit a major milestone at work, gaining us 10,000 Facebook followers in 3 months--yayy! Also, I got a company credit card, which kind of means that an employer both likes you and trusts you, both of which are good signs of a great working rapport ahead. Seriously, when things start to go right, the mornings open up and seem a little bit brighter.

Health life: I've started cutting out carbs from my diet and have started to see some changes, finally. Actually, I began the diet over three weeks ago and then realized that I really wasn't seeing much weight change. The great Google gods told me that, *gasp* I needed to cut out the caffeine as well. Cutting out caffeine is like slicing off a finger for me. But, it's either do that or be fat forever. So, out went the coffee, beginning Thursday. It's now Sunday and I haven't died or landed face-first into my keyboard, so I think I can handle this. Plus, with my workout schedule getting more intense, I FINALLY feel like I could get fit again. The strength is slowly returning. I seriously owe it all to Pilates Platinum, my pilates gym, where I've been taking pilates and spinning classes once or twice a week since mid-January. This is the first week where I haven't felt like a giant, wheezing heffalump among the thin, steel-limbed long-timers. One less wheeze, one more notch on the belt for me.

Speaking of wheezing, I've also given up that occasional smokey treat (cigarettes, people, come on). I think that sometimes it's almost worse for you if you are an occasional or "social" smoker. At that point, you don't classify yourself as a smoker, and you think, "I am not addicted, I can quit whenever I want." Or you have that thought in your head, "I really like smoking, I'll quit some day, but not now. Later, I will." If not now, a wise person once said, then when? That's why I put my foot down and squashed that butt. I nipped the butt right in the bud, you could say!

Music life: Rec'd recs for you:
Mellow days: The Decemberists "The King is Dead." Very much the best Decemberists album yet. I don't know how a band so great keeps getting better, but whatever they're on, they need to keep taking it. This album makes me not want to be human. Or at least I want to find the source of where this album came from and take a big, long drink. Get this one. Forreal

Fun times: Ed Banger "Let the Children Techno" Great, weird, experimental tracks on this new electro bundle of joy from the lovely French Ed Banger Records. They've released decent compilations before, but this one's exceptional. A must-have for any party. Get down with your bad self (available in April).

Home life: Finally, the apartment's starting to come together. Slowly, organization is happening. My energy level is up and shelves are being hung. Oh yes. Except a plastic screw thing broke off in the wall. Not sure how I'm going to manage to get it out. Note to self: plaster and plastic are not friends.

So, that's it for now. Should be enough, unless you're craving more. Then, I'd say, you're too obsessed with my life and should probably find one of your own. Ta! :)

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Beauty of a Beat

Could music be the one thing that brings peace to the Middle East?

The concept sounds a little, well, frankly, a little "hippie," but, maybe we haven't given those guitar-strumming flower children enough credit. In the immortal words of Madonna, "Music makes the people come together," even if it is for just two fleeting minutes at a time.

A YouTube sensation in the Arab world, the hip-hop dance remix of an incensed speech by Libyan dictator, Muammar Gaddafi thrown over Pitbull & T-Pain's "Hey Baby", "Zenga Zenga Song" has accomplished the nearly impossible. It has brought an ever-so-slight breeze of humanity through the strangled air of the Israeli-Arab socio-political relationship. The track, of course, appreciated by both Arab and Israeli folk alike, was crafted and remixed by Israeli, Noy Alooshe.

In an interview for public radio, Alooshe admitted that he received death threats at first, after Arab fans of the video found out that he was an Israeli, but eventually, they came around and admitted to him that, although they did not like HIM, they appreciated his music.

And, oh that rhythm did never sound sweeter...

Monday, 28 February 2011

One Tax Over The Line, Sweet Jesus


Oh, California! I love living here, with all of the palm trees, mountains, beaches, celebrities, big city living, weirdos galore--I mean, where else can you go and see a medical marijuana dispensary and a botox clinic side-by-side? Not many places, I assure you.

But, funny enough, the Federal government allows doctors to inject botulism into the faces of patients, but does not allow those same doctors to prescribe medical marijuana. However, here, in California, the Feds have given up chasing down growers and sellers in the medical community, and like a parent whose child has drawn on the walls for the 500 time this month, sigh, roll their eyes and let the "delinquents" be.

Now there's actually a chance that perhaps California can paint a picture that the Fed actually likes regarding the growth and sale of marijuana. If there's any smell more powerful to the Feds than the overwhelming waves of pot smoke, it's money. Yep, there's a proposal on the table to add state tax for the growers of medical mary jane here in CA, meaning that taxation of CA's largest crop would demonstrate its ability to bring in mega revenues and help the state drag its way out of debt. If that happens, I guarantee that other states AND the Feds will take notice of the benefits of legalizing marijuana for medical, and even eventually recreational use.

As far as recreation goes, there's a sin tax for alcohol and cigarettes. Think about how much money would be earned by a tax on pot! Plus, think of all of the spin-off revenue that would be taxable as well: pipes, commercial pot brownies, pot beverages, fuzzy neon posters, munchies...okay, I'm only half serious there, but still it would probably be a great boost for the economy. If we're so worried about creating jobs, we really should think about the possibilities here.

I fully understand the arguments against legalization in general--the kids getting bombarded by ads, the fears of a sudden burst of weed-crazed activity by otherwise rational adults, the bleak slide down the spiral to heavy drug abuse, but, honestly, I think those arguments are a bit silly. Here, we could have a HOME GROWN crop of good ol' fashioned American ganja, put our farmers to work, as well as many of our impoverished folks living on a sliver of a dime. People who go overboard on pot might go overboard--but what's the worst that could happen? They pass out? Eat too much? Lose motivation in the workplace and get fired? I reiterate the idea that has been part of the age-old bolster for pot advocacy, which is: far less death occurs as a result of too much marijuana smoke versus alcoholism. Not only is alcohol legal but people can drink as much as they want, whenever they want, and some people go overboard (I believe they're called "alcoholics" and some people don't. Children's brains regularly absorb materials advocating the coolness of alcohol and cigarettes, and, likely, if they're going to experiment with those things, they will, regardless of availability. Since when is it the government's responsibility to instill a moral compass in each and every human being? It's up to parents to tell them what's up.

While I'm in no way a NORML member, nor a pot-head, I do think that there is a lot of merit in getting this vote through. Those who truly advocate pot legalization in this country should be vying for this vote to pass here in California as well.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

My Rainy Day 2 Cents

Rain's pummeling the L.A. West side at the moment. I hear the low steady rumble of the downpour swell and recede on the flatness of roof tops and the rolling roar of a thousand car roof timpani, intermixed with a few light pings of droplets hitting odd objects left on the street, and the occasional sliding swish of tires carving out paths through puddles. Rain like this is quite exotic in these here parts. Great time for my heat to quit working. The air is wet AND cold. A whole lotta blech, I say.

It's one of those nights where going out doesn't seem like such a fantastic idea, kind of like how being snowed in was back in St. Louis. It's winter, we often forget here because most days are bright and t-shirty, where breaking a sweat in one's car in January is not unheard of. People actually get sick of sunshine if they've been accustomed to it every day. I haven't hit that point yet. Sunshine and moderate temps are a beautiful thing.

Still, this skyburst's rather relaxing, and the tiny rumble of thunder reminded me of lying quietly in bed as a kid in the Midwest, while the rain washed everything and made the next day fresh for everyone. I remember how bright those colors were against the slate blue cloudy backdrop--the leaves, flowers, trees and grass. We don't get that sort of "pop" here, that electric look to the foliage, even after rain. No neon green sprouts or shocking pink or purple blooms. Everything here after a rain just kind of looks soggy like, "Thank you for the water, but we really don't need it that much." Sure things grow better after the rain, but the vitality just isn't there. Too much smog, perhaps?

Even the rain here is "SO L.A." I suppose. But it's nice to have, every once in a while.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Lost People, Not Dogs


Well, "The Beags" and I just finished one of our lengthy weekend excursions. We scuttle about 5-6 miles in one morning, which is a good amount of mileage for both of us. I'm aiming to do that at least a couple of times a week, which will be good for both the pup and for me.

As we embarked (no "bark" related pun intended) on our little promenade, I noticed a few handwritten flyers tacked up on trees and telephone line posts (what are those things officially called anyway?) that read "Lost Dog: Miniature Doberman Pinscher" in big, swooping, wobbly text. My first thought was to judge: "Well, if people followed the rules and kept their dogs on leashes in urban areas," I thought. "then they wouldn't be crying now." Many of the people in my neighborhood must not be big Googlers or readers of City Ordinances or even the "Dos and Don'ts of Pet Ownership" manuals that litter pet shops, veterinary offices and the like--so many of them do things like let dogs off of the leash or allow animals to defecate anywhere without cleaning it up.

I tried to imagine the scenario during which this dog lost his home. No doubt, the owners took the poor little thing outside, sans leash, and it saw something: a squirrel, a cat, perhaps, or maybe another dog. Its fierce instincts overtook its devotion to its family and it shot off like a greased bullet, leaving a family of crying, obese children behind. A sad, but all-too-common scene in America today: ignorance and greed resulting in sadness and confusion. I felt really sorry for that little dog.

As I was lost in my daydream, a car slowed alongside us and a middle-aged man called out, "Excuse me, Miss?" Oh boy, I thought. What's it going to be now? Is he going to ask me for directions? Hit on me? I just wanted to be in my head and to walk this morning, uninterrupted.

"I don't know if I talked to you before," he started out. "But I lost my dog around here and I've been trying to find her. You may have noticed the flyers that I've posted."

"Yeah, I have," I motioned my head toward the next post, where one of his flyers was plastered.

"Well, she was hit by a car, and she just took off running. I've looked everywhere. She wasn't hurt because she ran off," he explained.

I couldn't help but rage inside of my head. Well, if you'd kept your dog on a leash like you're supposed to, she wouldn't have run out into the street, I thought. And I also knew that the dog could have experienced internal injuries after being hit by a car, but was in such shock at the time, that she took off yelping. Not good.

"I know that a lot of people in this neighborhood are allowed to have dogs," he continued. "So, I've been looking for people walking dogs that look like mine. I'll call her name when I see them on the street."

So, he thinks someone stole his dog, eh?

"I'll keep an eye out," I told him. But, honestly, if I see someone else walking your dog ON A LEASH, I'll probably smile at them and walk on by.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Weekend Bliss (with a few crazies mixed in)


Weekends have become TRULY relaxing AND motivating for me. Not only do I actually try to get things done (whereas before I was too depressed to even sweep the floors some days), I get in some great sightseeing and exercise on my morning long walks with Sheila B. (B for "Beagle").

Having a dog is like having a child in a lot of ways, I've discovered. Gone are your luxurious mornings, where you get to sleep til 9 or 10. Nope, the Beags has to pee BY 7 a.m. If not, she will politely pester you until you groan and tumble begrudgingly out of bed. This morning, she jumped off the bed and then back on, and crawled onto my side, using my hip as her fainting couch. It was darn cute, as annoying as it was.

We headed out the door by 7:20, me with my sweats on and a hat to hide my morning coif, and Sheila's tags jingling as she enthusiastically clicked down the sidewalk. We established this routine last week and it was going well, our long Saturday walk in the chilly January air. Neighbors were pulling junk out of their garages for impromptu sales out on the front lawn. Early sales hawks were already clawing through the merch, or at least peering down at it with interest.

Every time we encounter a person or dog on these walks, Sheila strains in her harness to get as close to them as possible. Sometimes, to avoid my pulling, she'll stand up on her hind legs and walk on those to get some slack. ANYTHING to make new friends. While I'm thrilled that my dog is friendly to both dogs and humans, she has no idea that there could possibly be someone on this earth who thinks that she's not the most amazing dog around. I'm kinda with her though on some fronts. Someone who doesn't like dogs? Quel horreur!

Anyway, she's getting better. She's learning not to pull so much, and not to race across the street (which she also liked to do, out of the blue--which is probably why she lost those teeth in the first place--vet thinks she was hit by a car :( ). Most of the time, once she's gotten the initial burst of smelling EVERYTHING within range (a Beagle trait), she clicks gently alongside of me and we both trot briskly along in unison.

We usually make our route through a popular shopping district, where we have to cross a major road. Some haggard looking Latina was standing by the side of the road, looking down at Sheila right before we crossed. As we crossed, she screamed at me, "Pick her UP! Pick her UP! People's is crazy! Oh my GOD, pick her up!" She ran along side me, yelling at me as we crossed the street, Sheila and I in perfect unison, the dog pinned neatly at my side the entire time.

"Next time I see you doing this, I'm gonna report you!" She yelled.

I ignored her this whole time, thinking, Is this woman insane? Or, was there some doggie walking safety etiquette that I was unaware of? I mean, it'd be one thing if I'd let the dog run out in front of me, but she was walking next to me, in unison, while we crossed. This lady's logic seemed unfounded. Would the dog be any safer if I'd picked her up? Probably not much. I mean, if a car was going to strike us, it would knock both of us for a loop. Whether I was holding my dog or not seemed trivial, unless it was a small roll forward, or tap that could possibly hurt Sheila, but not me. Anyway, I'd never heard of such a thing, or seen it. I'd seen people carrying tiny dogs, like chihuahuas or shitzus (because they were used to being carried anyway and couldn't keep up with their owners on foot) across busy intersections, but never a Beagle, however small.

I'de never heard of such a thing.

And that agitated me. I've never EVER been called a bad pet owner by ANYONE in my entire life! Anyone who knows me knows that I'm extremely conscientious of my pet's needs. I read articles, I give my dog supplements. Not everyone does that. I take my dog to work, for Pete's sake! I know that I shouldn't let one crazy, ignorant person get to me, but still.

I had to walk off all of that negative energy. Instead of stopping at Starbucks, which was about 1/2 mile from my house en route home, we trotted all the way to Coffee Bean (which I do like better, anyway) 2 miles away, and we had a sugar-free vanilla latte break before taking the 2 or so mile route back home. It was such a good walk that I decided that we'd do it at least once a week, if not 2x. Plus, it's really worth it to get my favorite coffee chain coffee, instead of settling for one I like less. I think we did about 8 miles, total. The Beags still had energy to spare when we got home!

I find that I have more energy too. And my mood is changing. I feel happier, friendlier, more social. Could it be that the depressive cloud is lifting? I want to move my body all the time, or do something productive with my brain. Dog ownership could possibly be the best thing that's happened to me since I got to Los Angeles.

Woof and Woof!

Now, at 30, I'm finally reponsible :)


Not to seem hyperbolic, but dog ownership has completely changed my life--for the better, actually. Not just dog ownership, but this dog in particular. Her name is Sheila, and she is, in one word, AMAZING.

I say she's amazing not just because of her great personality and cute quirks (I'll get into those later), but also because of the things that she's taught me in such a short time (two full weeks).

But, let's jump all over the place (because I may have adult ADD) and rewind to two weeks ago, to when I got her from Beagles & Buddies. First of all, I had been referred to B & B through another adoption agency, when I inquired about a Beagle/Pug mix (I guess you'd call it a "puggle", but it really looked more Beagley than Puggy) that they had. Someone had already filled out the paperwork on the adorable little thing, and so that left me out of luck for that adoption prospect. However, the lady from the adoption agency told me about her friend who volunteered at another place, Beagles & Buddies, where they were currently being overrun with pooches that needed homes, and were reaching out to their affiliates to help them out.

Several conversations with several adoption people later, I set up a Saturday to drive out to El Monte to participate in the shelter's open house. I arrived, a list of dogs from the website in hand, as a guide to try to sort out the ones that might be suitable for me out of the pack of adoptable pups. The woman at the main counter gave me a look that was neither here nor there and wryly quipped, "Let me guess, you're here to buy a new car, right?"

After discussing my options, she pointed me in the direction of the kennels, where I found my way alone through a couple of gates to a long line of cage runs. The noise of barking dogs was deafening, and heartbreaking to me, thinking, "How could a dog be nothing but insurmountably stressed to be here? I mean, yes, the rescue was saving them from an even worse fate, and hopefully most of them wouldn't be there long, but I couldn't help but feel my heart ripping apart a little bit. Walking down the line, I saw many friendly doggie faces, wagging, yipping, yelping, whining. I knelt down by the cages and dozens of noses poked through the wires to catch my scent.

I decided to play with one dog, Bitsy, who was a very dark colored beagle, with a very sweet expression. She was a little bit larger than what I was looking for, although still on the smaller side of medium. Taking her out into the yard, however, she seemed interested in everything and everyone besides me. It was like going on a date where everything seems perfect, but you just don't "click" with the person. One of the volunteers mentioned to me that they had a dog that she thought would be just perfect for me.

"Sheila," she'd said. "She's small and super quiet. Honestly, she's too good of a dog to have ended up where she did. The only thing about her is that she doesn't have any teeth on one side, so her tongue just hangs out."

A broken dog, I thought. I'd pictured my dog, the dog in my mind's eye to be beautiful, perfect, one that I and everyone in the world would think, "Wow, that is the cutest, most wonderful dog on this planet." I'd been raised with purebred dogs all my life (don't hate on my parents, they had their reasons--although now, as an adult and seeing all of the great animals out there for adoption, I am NOT in any way an advocate of dog breeding), dogs that were always beautiful. The thought of having an imperfect dog never crossed my mind. Still, I thought it'd be worth checking her out. Keep an open mind, I thought to myself. You never know.

Sheila was carried out to me in the yard, while a pack of hyper young Beagles romped about. She was small, puppy sized, and her tongue hung clownishly from the right side of her muzzle. Her unusually golden eyes observed me with a welcoming gaze as I stroked her silky beagle head and gossamer ears. Well, she WAS sweet.

"Are you sure she doesn't have any issues? Any problems with other dogs, anything?" I asked the volunteer.

"Nope, she's PERFECT!" the volunteer said, giving little Sheila a squeeze.

The volunteer plopped Sheila down on the bench next to me. Sheila looked at me expectantly. I patted my lap and she crawled right over. A good 15 minutes passed while we sat together, observing the goings on around us, as I massaged her little Beagle back. Was she the one? It seemed as though the rest of the world didn't matter when this dog was on my lap in that moment. But...this was not a decision to be taken lightly, I thought. Could I love an imperfect looking dog?

It seems shallow, it seems dumb. But I knew that there were going to be comments, questions, stares, all of the time. Could I deal with that?

Finally, after much deliberation and the gentle persuasion of the volunteers, I decided to take the little angel, tongue and all, who had decidedly curled up in a dog bed and gone to sleep, away from all of the hubbub, while I made my choice. Broken, or not broken, everyone deserves some TLC.

As soon as I opened my car door, Sheila hopped right in. I had some trouble dislodging her from my lap before we took off, but I finally settled her into the seat next to me, and we took off toward a new life.

Two weeks later, I have to agree. The tongue has become extraordinarily cute, a great conversation starter, and this dog is nothing but perfect in every sense of the word.

Follow Sheila's blog also (we're starting it this week)!

Friday, 21 January 2011

I'm getting a dog! EEEEE!!!

After a year of yearning for a canine companion, I finally have the money AND ability to have a dog. Both my boss and my landlord have given me the green light to bring a pooch on board (whooeeyayyyyy). I'm going this Saturday to Beagles and Buddies, a local rescue shelter, where I will be looking at a few pups. One of which is an adorable puggle (I hate that this is a "designer" dog, but the name "puggle" is the kind of cute that makes your eyes go all googley and your lips smootch, even if you don't want them to). Anyway, I'm fully aware that a lot of the time, the dog that you set out to get may not ultimately be the dog you bring home, so I'm TRYING to keep an open mind. Either way, this is going to be an amazing adventure, and I am sososoSOOO excited!

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Places You'll Go (and what you'll leave behind)


"Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."--Dr. Seuss

I started out with this quote in my head this morning, out of nowhere, and I used it as my Facebook status. People added the usual "likes" and two cents worth of comments, and, well that's always lovely and welcome. But, as much as we want to believe that stuff is true, as much as we try to, in a sense, put people out of our minds and put ourselves and our personal desires, feelings and individuality above all else in some sort of whipped up recipe for self esteem, it all seems a bit...idealistic, doesn't it? As much as Truffala Trees and Sneetches, and Yertle the Turtles, it is. I don't mean to knock the great Seuss, but I do mean to question this very quote in particular.

The past year has been a big journey for me, but recently I've noticed friends sort of drifting away, and those who claimed once to know me and enjoy my company, seem to treat me as though I'm some sort of foreigner, a stranger, if you will. Suddenly it feels as though I'm the one whose thoughts, actions, ideas and intentions are uninteresting, invalid, and I end up feeling much like a rose whose scent is whipped away by a sudden gust of wind in the wrong direction of the smeller's nose.

Maybe it's my fault. I mean, mostly, maybe it is. I've turned into one of those types who is absorbed in her career, or her outside activities, one who is often outside of the fun her friends are getting into and only catching up every third or fourth weekend, where I used to make an appearance at least once weekly. I can't deny that I've been busy. I'm thirty--that happens, at some point, right?

And then there's my quiet-ness. I mean, not that I'm shy and quiet, but volume-wise, I just don't compete with others in that way. Most of them are boisterous, riotous, laugh-o-matics whose quick-witted and volume-heavy quips carry conversations. In these situations, my words tend to suck back into the blackness of my own skull, to bounce around in there and make merry with my other thoughts, mostly because I cannot get a word in edgewise anyway, and, if I do, the moment for my words to shine has already passed.

But...wait! Reading this over just now, I think that I sound rather pathetic. Darn it, Seuss! Maybe you WERE right, after all. I mean, why should I blame MYSELF for not being the loudest of the bunch or not outshining everyone. Real friendship isn't so hard as all of this blather. REAL friendships aren't glittering showgirls singing and can-canning on a stage. Real friendships stem from those hearts you can confide in, those people who, when you need them, will drop everything on a dime to come to your aide. Real friendships aren't your "good time gal"--but they always guarantee you a good time, no matter what you do, even if it's sitting in the middle of nowhere, wrapped in complete silence together. Real friendships may not burn the brightest, but they burn the longest over time.

Real friends appreciate you for who you are. Those who mind who you are don't matter. Those who matter don't mind.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

The 80s and Killer Cereals


Sometimes I miss the 80s so much it hurts. Commercialism and consumerism were ridiculous back then. Anything and everything that could be made was made, and people were buying, like whoah.

Everything about the 80s gleamed of fantasy, hopes, dreams, the belief that you could be whatever you wanted to be, no matter what the odds, and that all you had to do was reach for the stars, stand out from the crowd, and be yourself. I can't think of a better time to be a child. I take comfort today in knowing that, no matter how different we are, no matter how scattered our backgrounds and upbringing, everyone in my age group has this sort of collective memory and universal understanding of the culture of the 80s-born child. We all share a memory bank filled with a wealth of iconic figures, sayings, and overall spirit that embodied the era that put the "art" in "artificial flavoring."
Admit it, even now, as you're sitting there, reading this from your iPad, in your eco-friendly, fair trade cotton shirt and jeans, there's a little twinge of sentimentality for those Reaganomical years, where ethics and nutrition took a back seat to the almighty dollar, and the main question on every retailer's mind was, "How can we make this glow in the dark?"
Speaking of glow in the dark, how can we forget the explosive franchises that developed from some of our favorite 80s movies and video games. I still remember watching the "Ghostbusters" cartoon series on Saturday morning, whilst crunching gleefully on Ghostbusters cereal, with its fruity oat bits and marshmallow "Slimer" ghosts--and, remember the jingle for that one? In cast you don't:

(sung to the original "Ghostbusters" theme tune)

There's a new cereal in the neighborhood
with O's and ghosts
(Tastes real good... Ghostbusters!)
Marshmallow ghosts... fruit flavored O's
Ghostbusters taste great with milk and juice and toast
(a nutritious breakfast with the ghost... Ghostbusters!)
What you gonna crunch? (Ghostbusters!)

Wow--just thinking about what was transformed into cereal in an era of such extreme glut makes me feel an odd mixture of delight and disgust that is non-transferable to any other era. I mean, think about the other ones that we saw broadcast during our Saturday morning toon time (a ritual that is now, I think, forever lost among modern day kids, who are more likely to be surfing the web before their parents wake up on Sat mornings than sitting in front of the flat screen with a bowl of breakfast cereal): Smurfberry Crunch (and don't forget Smurf MAGIC Berries), Nintendo Cereal, Pac Man Cereal (Christian Bale debuted his career on the commercial), Superman Cereal (he teamed up with the Cap'n), Bozo The Clown Cereal, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cereal, C-3PO Cereal (amazing commercial btw), Urkel-O's (the most annoying cereal ever created?), E.T. Cereal (chocolate & peanut butter, but hey, it's all part of a balanced breakfast, moms), Nerds Cereal (a sugary candy turned cereal--sounds REAL nutritious, moms & dads), Donkey Kong Cereal, Batman Cereal, Dino Pebbles Cereal, Spiderman Cereal, Cabbage Patch Kids Cereal, Rainbow Brite Cereal, Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal, Strawberry Shortcake Cereal, Hot Wheels Cereal, G.I. Joe Cereal, Gremlins Cereal (but they didn't multiply in milk--bummer), Morning Funnies Cereal, Barbie Cereal, Swedish Chef Cereal (Croonchy Stars --yes, even HE had a cereal in the 80s) and, oh yes, Mr. T Cereal:

Sure, in the end it's all a bunch of corn syrup and dreams that get soggy in milk. Name one cereal out of that bunch that's still alive and kickin. Now, we have everything at our fingertips that we could possibly want, except those. I mean, sure maybe you can buy a box of old, stale cereal on Ebay, but you can't put a price on the memories that we all entertain, enjoy and share.

It's 2011 and I'm feeling a little nostalgic today. So sue me. Lucky Charms anyone?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

A Recipe for a Great Year?


Happy New Year! I give you...eggs!

Eggs are probably one of the best hangover killing foods, but sometimes you want something a little different, not so conventional. 2011 is going to be an unconventional year, so here's something I like to do with my eggy wheggies:

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 shallot diced or 1/4 cup onion (I like red & green)

1 cup spinach

1/2 cup cooked lentils (you can cook these ahead of time or snag them precooked--I like Trader Joe's precooked beans)

1 TBSP nut butter (any will do, whatever you like)

2 TBSP white wine vinegar (you can also use rice wine or apple cider vin if you have those)

Olive oil to cook with (usually 2-3 TBSP)

Heat up the oil over medium heat and toss in the shallots & spinach until the shallots are tender and the spinach is wilted. Throw in the lentils and mix well. Spoon in the nut butter and the vinegar, and stir well until the nut butter melts. Beat eggs together in a separate bowl and then throw them into the mix. Stir until everything is well-mixed and the eggs are fully cooked (obviously, because raw eggs are gross and potentially dangerous).

Throw the mixture in a bowl, salt & pepper to taste. Eat it. Feel like a superhero. You're welcome.