The Holiday. And The Holiday.

I'm back from vay-cay-shun. Woo hoo. Yay for the high seas. I love boats, so I was quite content just to ride around (or sway side-to-side, as we did for 7 days and I continue to do even now). Unfortunately my travel compadre found herself seasick from the get-go. By sheer power of suggestion, me, Miss NeverGetsSeasick was barfing up a storm on my last night.
I saw gorgeous spots in Mexico that made me never want to come back and I read good books and I ate way too much (how much buffet is too much buffet? I have the answer...) and I got better at blackjack, so I think I fulfilled the cruise checklist.

That's the short of it. The long of it is that, due to weather conditions, I played much more bingo than I'd like to admit. On one particularly cloudy day I ordered a Bloody Mary to fuel my "game". Which resulted in me heckling the bingo caller. I booed his jokes. But trust me, he deserved it. (Examples available upon request)

So due to my inherited seasickness I missed the last dinner and final photos with our Vietnamese dining partners (who the photographer was convinced were our husbands. We gave up explaining to her, and as a result there were a nice set of awkwardly posed photos taken.) Photos aside, I return as single as I left.

But you know who is *not* single? My ex. The one guy I called the b word (not to be confused with bastard. use that one all the time!) He's freakin' engaged.

My mom tried to break it to me all nonchalantly in the car. Picture it: we're driving to the movies, my best friend, my parents, and I. My dad is fumbling with the heat controls. My mom is -- ahem -- gently asking him to shut off the radio "Don't you get enough of these Christmas songs when you go shopping?! Enough! Shut it off!" La la la and out of nowhere, mom lobs it over the net:

her: blahblahblahohSusan'ssonjustgotengaged
me: what?
her: oh, you know, her son. he got engaged.
me: her son, as in XXX??? (names blacked out to protect men who drink diet pepsi)

It was too cute, her effort to play it off (did I mention it's her close friend's son?), so I couldn't even call her out on it. She put the information before me and waited to see how I'd react. I brought the subject up later just to find out if it was who I thought it might be (the girl, not him. Despite my mom's clever ruse, ye faithful readers will know that I had figured out that it was Mr. X) It wasn't. It was someone new. So now, not only do I have to deal with the fact that he is engaged but that not one, but at least TWO girls after me actually wanted to date him! Harrumph or whatever the Archie comic reaction to that would be.

And of course then we go to the movies and what is the plotline? Oh yes, ten movies at the cineplex and which do we see? But of course the one where the heroine's ex boyfriend gets engaged. I shit you not. Story of my life people! Fortunately the film was a romantic comedy so now I"m sure this is the comedy portion of my life film. This is when I have the endearing meltdown, right? The crazy crying fit that makes the audience laugh and smile, knowing that I will triumph. Or do we cut straight to the part when Jack Black waltzes into my life? (Please note that in the movie, at first Jack Black isn't really into her. Ouch!)

So much of me wants to do Hollywood justice and wants to care, just so I can have a good cry and feel like someone affected me that much. But I'm more surprised than anything. Somewhat surprised that he beat me to it. Compound this with the fact that one of my frenemies (my only one I think?) is also engaged. author's note: I have never used that word before, but now it strikes me as perfect, so let's go with it.

Don't you get like that when certain people have good things happen to them? I mean, I'm the first person to be happy for people, but I have my limits. Some people are universally recognized as annoying/sucky/assholey, and so when good things happen to these people, we all just look around at each other and shrug and go "huh!". It's that sort of thing.

Is it me or is there a theme here? People who suck are finding true love (which notably involves being loved), or at least love that makes them not prefer to be at home blogging at 1:30 am on a Saturday. Me? Not so much progress on that front, dear readers!

Hold on, I"m still trying to cough up the emotions I "should" be feeling.

It reminds me of a scene in The Holiday, our film tonight (which I recommend to you, despite the fact that Jude Law prominently stars in it. For my previous opinion of his work, please search "Alfie" and read my post on it. I never thought I'd sit through another of his films again. Glad I did.) Anyway, in the scene, Cameron Diaz tries to make herself cry. All sorts of face contortions, or making the sound and hoping the tears will come. But. Nothing. Tonight I want to do that. I'm sitting here waiting for the Big Breakdown. How to coax it out of myself? I must breakdown or they'll revoke my Girl Club membership card, no? Should I put on some sad music? Throw pillows? Longingly look at old pictures of him? (Oh wait, already drew him horns and boobs on those. No good.) I really don't have the slightest idea what to do, failing to play the role of Melodramatic Female yet again. Why am I wired like this?

I'm a list person and it feels like I should have some sort of list of what to do next. I'm all about the action plans. First will be to find another boyfriend and propertly title him and throw the word around just so I can dilute that silly word (boyfriend. there, i said it. boyfriendboyfriendboyfriend). I guess the main problem is that I don't want XXX back, so the standard plotlines as seen on film ("have fabulous and unexpected makeover! lose 100 pounds! win him back! make him sorry!") fail me.

Last blog I sang the praises of Grand National. Their other track I obsess over is called "Drink To Moving On". On that note, I think I will continue enjoying this glass of wine and drink to being single.

Here's to close calls and absolute freedom.

Talk amongst yourselves.

Love love love that track. I found out about it (band: Grand National) on and am officially obsessed. I've been discovering new music, which will relieve those of you sick of hearing my Madonna tracks play til they can't play no mo.

So, brace yourselves: I'm going on VACATION! I know, you thought it would never happen. Shit, *I* never thought it would happen. I'm gone all the time, but that's not the same as vacationing. Every vacation I have is tied to something else -- a wedding, a conference, an obligation of some sort (ok, minus one trip to Vegas, which was the most fun I've had in the past three years, I should note). I decided enough was enough and Punny and I (Single Traveling Females, Inc.) were inspired and booked a spur-of-the-moment cruise. I'm going to get brown again. I will be reclaimed by my people! I will have a buffet 24-7. I will have gambling 24-7. I will have a bed and no internet access to obsessively check my work... 24-7. Woo hoo!

I used to love going on cruises. We went on two when we were younger, back when our parents could actually stand vacationing with the three of us. We had one particularly awesome one where I befriended a bunch of Canadians (that's why I always say "wicked", in case you were wondering. I picked it up and never quite shook it). I had like 2 sips of beer and felt crazy. I met penpals. I left after a week of hanging out with them nonstop and heard the Whitney Houston song "I Will Always Love You" and got sad and cried in my hotel room. It was awesome. I'm friendstered to one of the guys I met on that some 15 years ago. Gotta love friendster. Gotta love that I still care that we're in touch (hi Jon B!).

I have no idea what this year's cruise will hold. Probably hundreds of dollars lost at the blackjack table, a bit of holiday weight, and catching up on my z's. The friends I make, if I even make friends, will likely be on their honeymoons. But I don't even care. I'm going on VACATION! Did I mention I'm going on vacation?

In other news:
* for once, I decided to do early xmas shopping. but the amazon fairies messed up my order, so everything might not be on time. of course. of course.

* i just had dinner last night with my friends who had their second child. he is so cute. so soo cute. of course, none of my adoration of his lovely baby face kept me from noticing that i have been lapped!

* today my brother asked me if i wanted to buy Franzia. i flashed back to a box of it perched on my dresser sophomore year and us drinking that selfsame wine-in-a-box straight from the tap at the sorority house. i should be embarassed, but i'm too busy laughing.

* i got my subletters' cable bill. i am now quite possibly known to the employees of cox communications as the chick who rented herself "black angels", "wife-bangers 2" and "booty-luscious" during what must have been the very lonely month of October. sigh.

I need some fine wine and you, you need to be nicer.

I can't take credit for that title. It's the title of track 5 from the new Cardigans album. My sister turned me onto them a while back, so I rushed out and bought their new album. And let me say, isn't that song title is worth the $15 alone? (yes, I still pay for music. sometimes) Just when I'd started to lose faith in the music industry I find a song title like that. Or things like the Marie Antoinette soundtrack get published. Or I happen upon the Brazilian Girls' new song "Last Call", produced by Ric Ocasek. Someone somewhere still appreciates The Cars. All is not lost.

Life has been good and pretty mellow in this year of being 29. I spent my birthday doing nothing, which was lovely. I bought myself a book (Fargo Rock City) about this guy's journey through loving hard rock in the 80s and got a coffee and just read and read and read. I know more about glam rock than I ever thought I would. If a better understanding of the dynamics of KISS isn't a good birthday present, what is? As I read about Klosterman's journey through metal land, it reminded me of my relationship to music and how much stronger it used to be back when I had the gift of focus. That sense of discovering something new and obsessing over it. I mean, I still obsess, but I don't pour over the liner notes the way I would back in the day. I bought 4 cds today and I'm not going to tell you what they were because you might make fun of me. I'm reconstructing the life I had in high school, when I'd buy tapes and hide in my room and the only person who knew the crap I'd listen to was my sister. So that's been some fun birthday aftermath.

I also read a bunch of books last week while I was in the east coast for wedding #2049420209 and work meetings. And by "a bunch" I mean 5 (yes, that's the sound of me patting myself on the back). So it seems that my youth is back in full swing. Books and music and locking myself in my room for either has returned. All that's missing is my hot pink shag carpeting. And I swear, if someone could tell me where to find it again, it would be mine.

It's funny how the older you get, the more things stay the same (to mix metaphors). While visiting one of my editor friends in NYC, he handed me a copy of the new book he's publishing "Mortified". People - put DOWN the "tuesdays with morrie" already and go RUN, don't walk, to go buy this one.

The premise is this: various individuals have allowed the publication of their most private childhood/teenage writings for the purpose of their own Mortification and our subsequent entertainment. The general set-up is an intro giving you some context, the writing (edited to make sense, but no additives), and in many cases an adult p.o.v round-up. I have never laughed so often, or so loud, in public as when I was reading this book. There are essays, there are journal entries, there are letters, and there is (disturbingly) some Duran Duran fan fiction erotica for good measure. It's all there.

No matter whether someone was writing to Mr. Belvedere or ranting about how much they hated Black History Month ("for the privilege to be the only black girl in class? Thanks alot Martin Luther King."), there's something incredibly healing in reading about other people's agonizing childhoods. Everyone was tormented. I mean, people talk about how much their childhoods sucked, but hearing it in their voice at age 9, 12, 14 is a whole other story. The message is "you are not alone". You definitely get a good dose of laughing at people, but it's one of those rare cases that you are laughing with them as well.

But bringing it back to the birthday and me (because it's my world, you're just living in it) -- when you look back and laugh at someone's obsession about how they came off to a particular guy or how fat they were or how they were going to accomplish their goals, you realize how silly a concern it was... and is. How things seem so big at the time. Read it. And if nothing else, come Thanksgiving, you will be so damn happy they didn't get their hands on whatever it is you were writing back then.

My how the mighty have fallen.

In case you were wondering, it apparently is possible to run a half marathon with zero training. And when I say zero, I mean that I have run maybe 13 miles (the length of the race) in the past year . No exaggeration. After spending all day yesterday hungover, I ended up accidentally drinking a fully leaded (read: caffeinated) coffee last night. So last night I can tell ya how beautiful the full moon was and what it looked like straight ahead out of my window at any time from 3 am to 6am. Sleepless but wired, I laced up in an obnoxious neon running getup and sweatband to match my friend's and we headed off to the starting line.

I pretty much didn't feel the first 7 miles of the race, despite that, in retrospect, I think this race was uphill both ways! So didn't feel a thing. But then, magically, I did. In the form of a huge blister on my foot (I'd demand a refund for my fancy schmancy running socks from the running store, but I can't move far enough to get there). And then it came to my attention that my ankles were aching. But I was stranded up on the Golden Gate Bridge and I'd said I was gonna finish the damn thing, and I'm nothing if not a woman of my word. So I went where no runner (I would venture to say) has gone before, calling upon a trusty mix of pick me up songs that may or may not have included Guns n Roses meets Mariah. Hey, desperate times call for desperate measures...

And finish I did. I got my little medal, the one that makes it worth doing it all. And pathetically, my time was only slightly worse than my time when I ran it last year after 3 months of preparation. Let that be a lesson to you all. I think this is the way to do it- zero training and then feel like a hero for a week (a week during which you don't have to work out again, naturally, you're "recovering").

I made a beeline for the one stand serving fruit juice and next thing I knew, I had 'yes'd' again! THE BACHELOR was holding an open casting call. God help me, I filled out a form. It took 2 seconds, but I'm sure you'll understand why I had to do it when I tell you that you got to sit in a CHAIR while you interviewed! What's dignity when I could sit my ass down?

My application read that I was applying because "I like catfights. And I just ran a half marathon, so apparently I can do anything."

The interview was pretty basic at first. They asked me why I wanted to be on the show. Naturally I pulled a blank because I *didn't* want to be on the show. I wanted to sit in that comfy plastic chair. But you can't say that, these Hollywood types get all offended. So I told them I was there to support my friend. Seemed like a good, reasonable answer. But then I also laughed and said that trying out for "some show like this" was the last thing anyone I knew would expect me to do. That's when they started leaning in. Why, they asked. "Well, I don't compete. Much less for guys. Much less on national television." No, it didn't occur to me that insulting their show wasn't the way to win hearts. I had left judgment back at mile 5. Nor did it occur to me that the big golden plastic medallion I was wearing (and broadly grinning at) around my neck indicated that I was, in fact, slightly competitive. They asked me what type of girl I'd be if I were on the show. Would I be the catfighter? I told them I'd be the fun one. I'd be "the one who would go on the show and make a bunch of girlfriends and not give a shit about the guy."

They asked me about my dating life, and I clued them into the fact that I've never been a big dater but seem to have made up for that in the past couple of years, "putting myself out there," whatever the hell that means. And that I had a recent bad date story to prove it. Then, naturally, I told them The Date Story (as I have everyone else within earshot in the past month). I can't print it here because it's incriminating to my date and I like to think I have journalistic scruples BUT I will say that if they could have stood and applauded, they would have. But they couldn't because I think Helen was eyeing their chairs...

At lunch I was asking my friends- who actually watch tv, and apparently gather to watch this show - what the heck it's about. They explained.

me: So what's the prize?
them: For who?
me: The girl who wins!
them: The guy!
me: No, the PRIZE!
them: The guy!
me: No, I mean, and... the PRIZE!

Apparently there is no prize. I had the shows confused. I think it's some other show where the guy picks you and then you trade in his heart for a million dollars. Hmf. I mean, not that any of this will stop me from taking off 6 weeks to go live in some European villa on someone else's dime if I get picked, but I just wanted you to know it was because of Yes that I got into this mess at all.

Monday follow-up: ps. i did get a callback. they let me know this morning. and no, i'm not doing it :) the triumph of no!

Who says there's no such thing as a free meal?

In fact, I had one Wednesday night, when my parents and I hit up Barona (for those of you not in the know, it's a casino on an indian reservation, heartily endorsed by Kenny Rogers and myself). My parents took me as my birthday gift. My birthday is in another week -- November 8, so mark your calendars -- but to them, casinos are the gift that keeps giving. And tonight it kept giving to my mom. While my dad lured me over to the nickel slots, something I would never touch with a 10 ft pole in Vegas, my mom headed over to 3 card poker to give them the business. She did and along with it charmed the pit boss into comping our dinner.

So there is apparently such a thing as a free meal. It involves an ice cream bar, so take that!

I'm rounding the corner to 29. 29?! Can you believe that? It seems like a joke. Sometimes I throw around the phrase "well, I'm nearly THIRTY" just to hear how it sounds. But last week it became official. Out of NOWHERE I got three little gray hairs. At first I convinced myself that it was just the glare of the bathroom lights on my dark hair, but there they were, Larry, Moe and I'dPluckYouButIHearYouOnlyMultiplyIfIDo. Arg. So now I'm trying to figure out all the things I want to do in the next year of my life.

First thing I did is sign up for a half marathon that I am completely unprepared to run. It's Sunday. I've run one already, but I recently read YES MAN by Daniel Wallace, where this guy, having been in a bit of a rut in his life, convinces himself to unequivocally say yes to every opportunity he's given (leading to some funny scenarios. Worth a read if you've ever wondered what would happen if you told Sultan Habibi that you would in fact be more than willing to assist him in his overseas multimillion dollar transaction...).

So, back to MOI, Helen asked me if I wanted to run it, and I said yes. This is how I got into running one last year (saying yes without thinking about the realities of such a feat), but I should note that I actually bothered to train for that one. I'm basically hoping for divine inspiration to get me across the finish line. Hold hands and pray for me, would ya?

While I'm brainstorming my list of specifics, I know that in my Year of 29 (love them prime numbers!) that I want to say Yes more. I think life gets more interesting when you do. So far today I've gone with it. Witness:

me: hm. 6am. should i sleep in a bit more?
me: yes.
me: hm, it's almost 7. should i sleep in just a bit more?
me: yes!
me: wow. look at that. 8am. maybe i should sleep in more?
me: uh huh.
me: hm, it's almost 9. should i get up?
me: yes.
me: and should i work in my pjs for the morning?
me: hell yes.

The triump of Yes. I've found myself highly agreeable today. I recommend the Yes plan... so far. I think if we girls unequivocally said "yes" then we'd end up making out with construction workers mid-day and end up in other unsavory situations. So I will have to say yes within reason. But a good dose of Yes should be more than enough to make life interesting. Will keep you posted.

Old whatshername.

A few of my friends are expecting (babies, for those of you living the life i dream of) and have been recently revealing their chosen names.

What's in a name? I wrote a whole college essay about mine.

I was named Lilly because my mom liked the flower and my parents didn't want to burden me with some ridiculously traditional Persian name. Or a Persian name that just sucks for an American kid, like Poopak. Yes, that's a name. And yes, I snicker when I say it. I always like to ask people what they were *almost* named. It's like a window into who they could have been. I could have been Roxana (traditional Persian name with very hip 80s twist) or Diana. Blech. I can't imagine being a Diana. She sounds like someone who would tell on you. When I was younger I hated my name. It was a name for other people's dogs and dead grandmas (I have examples for you if necessary). So I decided that my name was going to be, well, Carol. DUH. I found it convenient to name my father Peter (this was during an era when I liked to ignore the existence of my mom). Carol and Peter, together forever.

Later in life I wanted to be named (but note: did not insist on being called, just thought how it would have been nice) Renee, Stacy (you may remember her from Kids Incorporated. I pretty much wanted to be her actually. Little did I know she'd become Fergie.), Maxine, Monique, and Pierre. I managed to be the last two in French class. Take these small victories, I say.

Tonight I was im'ing with Jon, who is reading the Virgin Suicides. And it randomly reminded me that I had wanted to name my kid Lux (one of the characters), but I couldn't for the life of me remember why! Who is this Lux character? And if she was played by Kirsten Dunst in the movie adaptation then shoot me now, my kid must hate me already. I wonder if this happens to other people. Like they name their kid after something and then just can't freakin' remember why. It seems like naming your kids is a cool way to pay tribute to something you like. What a waste to give them a boring name!

Weird things I have wanted to name my kids at various points in my life:

(side note: i don't usually think about this stuff. just like i don't wedding plan, not even in my head and my daydreams. i used to find this a source of pride; i wasn't one of "those" girls. but i read that it's actually a sign of commitmentphobia. oops.)

ahem. The Name List.

1. Lux. reason unknown.
2. Evangeline. a good character in Uncle Tom's Cabin. but in retrospect i think she was a little girl who was dying. but for some reason i remember her being angelic. and the title of a great matthew sweet song.
3. Aiden. I really liked that name after reading Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy. I hereby swear that I will never name my kid after a character in a Chris O'Donnell film. Remember him? Yeah, didn't think so. Exactly.
4. Madonna. reason known but not reiterated here because i can already feel susie starting to type a comment.
5. Mateo. because, like every other persian, i like to pretend i'm really italian.
6. Maradona. because it sounded like Madonna but had an ass-kicking soccer vibe to it too.
7. Milan. after Milan Kundera, my favoritest writer in the whole wide world. but then i realized it's also a polluted industrial city the churns out Prada bags and is probably more explaining than it's worth.
8. Lilly. just kidding. kinda.

Before I could name things my mom named them for me. Like my first doll, Lilac. Why was it named Lilac? What if that's what my mom wanted to name me and my dad changed the name? (much like Susie who was supposed to be Shireen until my dad won the debate. Sorry if this is news to ya Suz.) Am I living a lie? What if my name is really Lilac G? That would super suck.

And my first teddy bear. Its name was Garp. I never knew why, but then my mom told me it was because she'd just finished reading The World According To Garp. Fine. but why implicate me with a fabulous but disturbing John Irving novel? At the age of, oh, one? To clarify she let me know that it was because she had read it to me WHILE I WAS IN THE WOMB. (Some things explain so much.)

But me, there was apparently not much to my name. No good notations in the baby names book on my parents' shelf (yes, I looked). And to tell you the truth, I'm not even sure how much she likes lilies because she has this ridiculously plush garden and not a lily to speak of! As I write this, I have no idea how I turned my no-story name into a college essay. I wish I could find that admissions essay -- I'm sure it was a magnificent piece of bullshittery. I've saved some old hard disks in the hope that I'll find it someday so I can revel in my own brilliance. Will keep ya posted.

In the meantime, continuing on the theme of moi and my name, I have decided to go narcissist for Halloween. I will be a Tiger Lilly. Roar.

ps. Jon (ahem, Jon Yang, author of the Rough Guide to Blogging) just taught me how to bold. I will no longer have to use * to emphasize words I want you to pay extraspecialattention to. This is a whole new world . I figured that one out myself! Oh, this could get ugly.

Just because I felt like blogging.

Well hey, if I wait til I have some stroke of genius or a showstopping topic, then you'd pretty much never hear from me again. I'm trying to learn to blog more regularly. Hold me to it.

I have to find better ways to use my time. This is today's proclamation. When examined closely, all I see is a pileup of wasted time. Consider:


1) I decided to save the environment and use public transportation instead of calling my trusty airport shuttle (sad fact of my traveling schedule lately that I live in SF but the SuperShuttle driver in my neighborhood sees me more than my roommate does)

TIMESUCK: I took the BART to the Oakland Airport. This involved taking the BART across the water, then jumping on a shuttle. Fair enough, but then I had to pay for the shuttle! Perfect change, $2! What, like my $3.35 wasn't enough, oh San Francisco Transit Authority? BART was going to advertise "Oakland Airport" as the stop and then freakin' leave me there? I think not. I saved something like $20 in the end, but if time is money then I'm getting paid minimum wage.

2) I am devouring Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. I bought it at the Vancouver airport this weekend to get rid of those pesky Canadian dollars and mostly because the options were slim and I just couldn't bear to pay for, much less be seen with a Nora Roberts book in hand. Not in this lifetime!

TIMESUCK: Confession -- I was just holding the book up most of the flight while surreptitiously reading some trash magazine over the shoulder of the passenger to my left. (It was about the Madonna adoption. It couldn't be helped. It offered a timeline of comparison between her adoption and Brangelina's, using Guy Ritchie and Brad Pitt's friendship as the nexus. Yes, I just said Brangelina. Get over it. Anyway, it was a must-read.)

3) I hadn't seen my family in nearly a month.

TIMESUCK: After dinner I retreated to the tv (we don't have one in SF, so I figured I'd indulge) and watched the following --
Gilmore Girls (but I was also too lazy to walk across the room and get a phone to call someone more in the know for an update, thus rendering half the episode just confusing as I tried to pick up the pieces of my life in Stars Hollow) Recap of the senate races on some news show (yawn!) that my dad promised would be funny. Not only was it not funny, but there was a human interest segment about a double-amputee soldier. Laughs all around! My dad and I couldn't even look at each other when it was done. I think we would have cried. The only funny thing was (and this was honestly funny) that the wife made some smartass comment and the husband/amputee turns to her and says "you're lucky I don't have feet or I'd kick you."

I topped my television binge with a Janet Jackson interview in which she revealed zero items that I didn't already know. Zero! How am I supposed to increase my bank of useless pop knowledge if they've started recycling facts? I KNEW she was married to the guy from DeBarge (think "to the beat of the rhy-thm of the night, dance until til the morning liiiiiight." now try to get it out of your head.) I mean tell me something I don't know, like a diet secret, Janet! Double yawn.

4) I owed some people an email.

TIMESUCK: I recapped a particularly hilarious (read: disturbing, but if you don't laugh you'll cry kinda thing) date for my single girlfriends round the way. I spent more time on that email than I did on my law school admissions essay. Granted, it was a classic date and deserved such attention-slash-painstaking detail. But it now occurs to me that, in exerting so much effort to perfectly chronicle the evening as it occurred, I pretty much relived the experience = extra time suckage (date time suckage times two. Or is it squared?)

So there you have it. In conclusion, I need to make better choices... or I just need better time management skills.


Today an author came up to me at the end of my talk this afternoon, face beaming (as only those of aspiring writers can). She asked me where my office was based, and when I said San Diego, she nodded.

"I knew it! You seem so L.A."

She meant this as a compliment. I think.


You're So Vain. I Bet You Think This Blog is About You.

Today! My first nomination! I didn't wait for anyone to vote him in; I knew they'd agree as soon as I cast my vote. He's in, and it's official.

Once upon a time, a friend told me about yet another guy who had recently broken her heart. I listened and supported and nodded and rolled my eyes at all the right places, but then it came to me just what the problem was. She was attracted to a very particular type of guy, and it's the type of guy that was the problem

She is drawn to Guys Who Are Victims of Their Own Good Looks.

We all know the type. That guy who has been told just one more time that they are cute. Whose mommies adore them just a little too much. Who don't even fake that they don't know how cute they are. Who don't even notice that I used a double negative right there because they were so busy reflecting on their own beauty. She would constantly date them -- she'd date guys who were former models, or current models, or actors. And it's not that every model/actor/performer is beautiful, but she'd find them. Or she could find the guy who worked at a restaurant in a very low-key job but had that aura. And what was the aura? Say it with me now...

I myself have never been attracted to the pretty boys. A guy who takes longer to get ready than me will be rightfully ridiculed. I like modesty in a guy. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like a cute guy as much as the next girl, but vanity is a no-no with me, especially when that vanity has a darker side. These are guys who use their beauty to seduce women, usually multiples at a time, but after a brief period of success with this, women are onto them. We usually proceed to mock and ridicule them. We know they're hot and we will speak of it, but they have also tainted themselves through their greedy sluttery.

Today I finally came to terms with the fact that I may have dated a candidate. There, I said it. I too have dated a Guy Who's A Victim of His Own Good Looks. A guy who thought his good looks would make up for some shady behavior, but oh no, I'm onto you! Remember: I'm not just a member, I'm the club president.

I'm pretty excited about this. I feel like now when I accuse my friends of dating guys in this sub-species I will have more authority, more street cred if you will. This appears to be reason to rejoice (or feels like it at 1:40 a.m.) Now that I have a PERSONAL investment in the Hall of Fame, I'm taking my role seriously, monitoring for membership and trying to raise public awareness of this social disease. Feel free to help me compile additional qualifications for nomination. I think my favorite clue is that they believe their prettiness makes them have game. "But all they have is pretty." (rubber bracelets with this key phrase are on the way and will retail for $3 each, to be applied to consolatory drinks for Women Who Are Victims Of Guys Who Are Victims Of Their Own Good Looks...)

On another note, one of my friends recently suggested something that might border on brilliant (and were this the academic battlefield I wish discussions of dating etiquette would be b/c I think we could use some scholars, she would be invited to lecture on her revolutionary theory). She suggests that girls should date guys "just above the threshhold of acceptable attractiveness" for us. Like figure out what's a notch above "nope, couldn't kiss him" and stick with that. Not hot. Not really cute. But just there. Just enough to be happy you're with him, but not enough to cause anyone trouble. I mean, think about it!

I haven't quite figured out what the voting procedure will be for The Guys Who Are Victims of Their Own Good Looks, but I'm thinking it involves a complimentary chest or eyebrow wax. Gentlemen, get your mirrors.

Royal Flush

sometimes life happens and you start to notice the little things- to appreciate them. for the past week (reporting live from san francisco, dear readers!), my friend helen and I have been awed by the power of water pressure. why, you ask? because our toilet broke at the apartment. today marks day four of the bathroom hostage crisis. we were victims of a recalled toilet. i know, baby cribs get recalled, battery parts get recalled, but not toilets!

for half a week, she and i have been surreptitiously dining at restaurants, not for the fine food and drink, but for the amenities they provide. i was actually caught eyeing the port-o-potties at the end of our high-end residential street. i mentioned it to her when she got home.

me: "i saw some port-o-potties at the end of the street when i was out running today."
her: "oh yeah, i know. i saw them already. but they're locked."
me: "nuh uh! they were unlocked!"
her: "oh good! but i'm embarassed to have my neighbors see me going on -- or coming out! -- of one."
me: "hm. good point."

this exchange was followed by such delightful emails as "the Four Seasons bathroom is ridiculous!" (me to her, monday morning). we brainstormed what to do, and thought about people she vaguely knew who lived in the area. she mentioned a guy she'd been on a date with and thought that we could stop by to say hello "hey! long time no see. oh, is that a bathroom back there?..." and of course, ever the plan-ahead lawyers, we established contingency plans should nature call in the middle of the night.

you start to notice the conveniences we take for granted. you don't notice those sorts of things until your toilet becomes a chamber pot. that same monday morning my friend i was breaking-fast (?) with mentioned that the only complaint she has about living downtown san francisco is that people poop on her doorstep.

her: "i mean! enough poop already!"
me: --silence ---
her: "you know! enough poop already!"
me: "mm hm"

i don't even mean it in a smartass way - but where are people SUPPOSED to go to the bathroom? i haven't frequented any doorsteps (at least, not of anyone i know...), but i have sympathy in a way i never did before. i know my brother went through something similar when we vacationed in Paris and he realized there were NO water fountains. what's up, public amenities? where have you gone? sf mayor gavin newsom is trying to bring free internet to the city. how about some potties, gav?

san francisco is pretty damn awesome. it's fun being in a city that reads and that cares. a city that knows the name of its mayor (even if its mayor has looks that better suit him to a southern california metropolis). i've been catching up with old friends and enjoying our swanky neighborhood and doing the work that's piled up over the past few weeks. i'm trying to make a list of things i want to do while up here. i already went to a bikram yoga class, which makes me a better person than you, dear reader. just kidding. i'm actually not a better person though because, despite the mind-centering it supposedly brings, i caught myself giving a pregnant lady the stink-eye after she raised her leg straight to the ceiling. i thought "haha, watch it now, that's how you GOT that way!"

things are just now slowing down enough that i can catch my breath. summer flew by. most of my friends agree that it feels like summer didn't even happen. i mean, my tan came from a bottle. i went to the ocean once. last week. at 1am. where's the summer in that?

Summer Realizations, by lilly:

1. work doesn't go anywhere. in fact, when you're not looking paperwork breeds. why are people studying mice when they can be studying the submissions on my desk?! papers will be there when you get back from whatever you'd rather do. 75 and sunny won't. okay, if you live in san diego it will, but you shouldn't be excluded from the fun just because you were smart enough to move there!

2. fake tanner works. what everyone says about the healthy glow lotion is true. however, if you're overgreedy with it, it will look like your feet are rusting.

3. crushes are often more fun than the actual thing. crushes in your late 20s are just as much fun, just as heart-stopping, as they were in high school. it's a surefire way to feel young again.

4. nip/tuck is a porny soap for guys. that said, it's very good and i'm definitely a fan.

5. toilets are your friend. embrace them. literally if need be.

My Triumphant Return to Blogging OR Five Things That Made Me Smile Today

I have been hovering over my keyboard for two weeks and two days now, trying to figure out how I was going to blog about my next big life change. I decided to take a few months up in San Francisco, a city I love and will probably love even more since I'm a single girl and then I can blame my singleness on something other than the fact that I'd rather spend an evening with two other couples (Lorelai and Luke and Rory and Logan for anyone keeping track) on any given night. So off I go to the big city up north, the city where other people read more than I do. The emerald city.

The sad thing is that I know more people there than I do here. If I had to take a poll, quantity-wise I'd say more people are excited to see me move up there than are sorry to see me go. There has been a slow exodus from San Diego and I'm attributing part of the lack of mourning-my-forthcoming-absence here to that (for the sake of my own ego!). Or maybe urban sprawl just makes it feel like that. And I suppose the fact that it's just a test run at this point (two months, for those of you counting) helps make it not quite dramatic.

But it IS dramatic for those of us who have resided at the same address for the past four years. I have never moved somewhere for the hell of it. There was always a reason (namely: school, school, school, family). I'm just going to go. To see if whatever it was that told me when I was 16 that I would someday live up there actually exists. (Back when I was 16 it struck me as "Chicago with less shitty weather", for one thing). Back then that same 'something' told me I'd go to Stanford. Hardy har har.

So that's the general backdrop for whatever I'll be yammering about in the coming months. Maybe I'll write blogs about all the time I spend in the public library (my hopes! my dreams!) or at obscure author readings. Or about walking up hills and down hills and back up them again (i'm not taking my car. this seems like a good idea at this point in time, i'm sure I'll be eating my words soon enough). No idea what I'll blog about, but there are aspirations to blog a bit more.

And now, without further ado:


1) Remembering how much I used to love reading "Alexander Who Used To Be Rich Last Sunday"

2) Working out (step class, LA fitness) and listening to the music and coming to terms with the fact that I'd jump at the chance to be one of the Countdown Singers

3) seeing someone's very very faded suction-cuppy Garfield on his car window

4) related, but NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH GARFIELD: hearing susie make an offhanded reference to Heathcliff at dinner.

5) making jokes about finding a man with a good health insurance plan. and watching other people laugh. and then laughing inside because i wasn't joking.

Only When I'm Dancing Can I Feel This Free

You are what you listen to. Or something like that. I grew up apparently with a lack of hobbies, because every time I bought a tape, I’d rush home, lock my door and pull out some paper. I would then sit and read the liner notes over and over (who did they thank? Who produced it?) This sometimes took a weekend (rewind. stop. what was that line again? fast forward. stop.)

Stop snickering - this is one small part of how I amassed my Stash of Useless Trivia. Like the fact that Patrick Leonard who helped Madonna’s early stuff was the same guy who helped Jody Watley (listen to "most of all" right after you hear Madonna's get up there, and you can hear his keyboards and how he used some of the same stuff. It’s how you know that the Bangles sang the chorus on Cyndi lauper’s “change of heart” or how you know Prince wrote “Manic Monday”. And how you know that he also wrote sinead’s “nothing compares 2 u” and he will only sing it with one person, Rosie Gaines. (And that he does, it’s a live track on his best of discs.)

But I digress. I always digress. Is taken yet?

For a long time I've wanted to compile a list of my favorite song lines. I know a woman who keeps a list of first lines from books. Maybe I'll try that next. For now, here are some lines that, for all different reasons, I have love or been affected by in the past 28 years. I'll get the Madonna ones out of the way first, so skip down if you're a hater.

“all I know from experience is that if you have to ask for something more than once or twice, it wasn’t yours in the first place…” -Madonna/Waiting

“I’m not religious- but I feel so moved. Makes me want to pray.” – Madonna/Nothing Fails

“without your love, I’m nothing but a beggar” - Aerosmith/Angel

“try me on… I’m very you” - deee-lite/Try Me On...I'm Very You

“you turned to me as you were threading daisies on a chain. You said ‘it’s decision time again’..." –Everything But the Girl/Wrong

“Kiss me. Please kiss me. But kiss me out of desire, baby, not consolation. Oh you know it makes me so angry cause I know that in time I’ll only make you cry. This is our last goodbye” - Jeff Buckley/Last Goodbye

“I want to end this letter with three words- we tired y’all” Prince/Dear Mr. Man

“Everytime I comb my hair, thoughts of you get in my eyes.” Prince/ Erotic City

“Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten.” – Natasha Bedingfield/Unwritten (yes, I had a very hard time admitting I wanted to include this)

“There’s a time for every star.” – Nikka Costa/Everybody Got Their Something

“brick for brick I know this city like my handprint” – G love n special sauce f. jasper/This Ain't Living

“The rich declare themselves poor and most of us are not sure if we have too much but we’ll take our chances cause God stopped keeping score…you hold on to what you can and charity is a coat you wear twice a year…” –George Michael/ Praying for Time

“She got the beamiest face. Car turns left. I’m into you” Howie Day/Secret

“You make me love you… with a little L” -- Jamiroquoi/Little L

“Yeah yeah have you heard the news today? Money’s on the menu in my favorite restaurant.” - Jamiroquoi/When You Gonna Learn?

"Snap her up in a butterfly net... Pin her down in a photograph album" - Counting Crows/Anna Begins

And that's just for starters.

Playing Grown Up

Ok, I have come to the final realization that playing "grown up" sucks. When I was little, all I wanted was to work. I was dying to take the place of my mom's secretary Paula, answering phones, booking appointments and offering financial organization to the world and its dental files.

Fast forward to today. When you play house, you do the fun stuff, you cook for the kids, but you never have to clean the dishes. And you don't deal with a broken garbage disposal. Mind you, being an adult with a juvenile mentality, I should note that I've functioned sans disposal for about 2 months now. No joke. It stopped whirring one day and I mourned it for about 24 hours and forgot about it.

As a kid, you play house with whoever's around. If need be, you convert an elementary school classmate into Mike Brady. Hell, I did. As an adult, the quest to find someone to put into Mike Brady's shoes becomes more difficult. And you find out Mike Brady was a homosexual, which just confuses you that little bit more.

Today I'm faced with finding a partner (if not for love then for the tax deduction, because I was nearly brought to tears when I filed my taxes this year), making enough money to keep a roof over my head, perhaps even fixing the appliances therein. And yesterday a friend mentioned that perhaps I should create a savings account for "fun" or travel. What happened to mom and dad just springing a Hawaii trip on us? Nowadays I consider it a getaway if I drive as far as La Jolla. And as a kid you prized your possessions and knew where they were at all times. This weekend, concerned with worldly things like paying a month's worth of bills (ok, and maybe watching the Hulk Hogan reality show at the gym) I lost my iPod. Again. And I'm too tired to care. I'm not sure which is sadder.

What happened when the biggest task in your day was a sheet of foreign verb conjugation or finding a ride to the mall to get that new cassette you were dying for? Youth is so wasted on the young. I'm just gonna pray that my youthful looks help me stretch it out a bit more. Let the regression begin.

You Are My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine

I went out of town to New York and returned. Apparently the sunshine and 70 degree weather I took with me to the Big Apple didn't return with me. It's day 2424635 of cloudy greyness and I've had enough of it.

Alot of people say that if you didn't grow up in California you don't have a right to complain about the weather here. To them I say, well, whatever word goes with wiggly moose-head signs and sticking my tongue out. Screw that. I pay a premium for sunshine and so I want some fucking sunshine.

See how mad I am? I just f-bombed. And my mom reads my blog!

When I left the midwest, I left a land where crappy weather was a certainty. There is something to be said for the reassuring nature of knowing that when you get up, it's going to be crappy out. Here, I get up expecting California Dreamin' and I look out the window and don't know where I am for a moment. In Chicago, you knew it was going to be freezing-slip-on-your-ass-icy in winter, spring and part of fall. In summer it was unGodly hot where your lungs would need a moment to adjust from the cool air conditioned house when you stepped outside, beads of sweat forming almost immediately. It was never perfect, so you didn't bother worrying. But here, my own (very reasonable) expectations aside, I have a reputation to keep up! When people -- clients, friends, telemarketers -- call and want to know what the weather is like, I am under a certain amount of pressure to perform. I want to say "you don't want me to tell you - heh heh", but instead I say "Sorry, tell me again. What is the survey about?"

In Chicago my parents realized that the lack of sunshine was affecting their children. It was first noted shortly after my growth spurt halted right around 4 feet (yes, short, even for my family) for a while there. Immediately my mom sought out what became nicknamed "happy lights" -- indoor lighting meant to mimic the sun's rays and give you some of whatever that drug is that the sun shoots down on my solar panel. Our moods lightened, or in any case the placebo effect was in full force.

But these days, I don't know where to buy a happy light. I'm in freaking San Diego. They don't sell them here. I keep turning around (I've turned my desk because facing out the window was getting to me after a week) to see if maybe the sun has burned the clouds away while I"m hammering away at my keyboard. Nope. At this rate, I will continue to be the Whitest Iranian Girl That Ever Did Live. It's not a title I'm looking to champion for much longer. I keep eyeing a reserve bottle of self-tanner in my medicine cabinet. Middle eastern people shouldn't even HAVE to buy that stuff. See what I mean?

If there was a sun dance, I'd do it. But that would require energy I don't have. Send help.

guilty pleasures in no particular order.

1. Jordan Knight covering New Kids on the Block. Double disc album. Owned by me. For those of you who thought it couldn't get worse than my ownership of the London Symphony Orchestra covering Madonna's greatest hits. (Apparently one of you out there didn't think it was so bad b/c you borrowed it and didn't return it.)

2. Seeing famous people look fat in pictures. Thank you US Weekly.

3. I stay up late the last night of the month so I can sneak a peek at what Susan is predicting for the next month. True. Not that I should feel guilty about being emotionally attached to my horoscope. I am a Scorpio and we're just obsessed like that...

4. Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup. Sodium plus starch, period. I could live on this stuff.

5. Singing in the car. I know, not a guilty pleasure until I tell you that sometimes I rewind so I can sing a different part of the harmony. Gotta cover it all. Albums like Brandy offer maximum harmonizing potential, fyi.

I have no idea why I just cyberdumped these private facts. I'm a stone's throw from a reality show audition. Actually, I think I'd like my own show. It could be called So Lillious. Don't worry, Tori could have a supporting role. I don't want to totally steal the limelight. It would be about my life, my times, and importantly, my rise as a pre-eminent literary agent to the stars (see for more details on cast member Jon Yang).

So basically it would show me reading for the first 5 minutes. Then for the next 25 minutes the camera would watch me watching my screen, emailing everyone I know - clients, friends, randoms and laughing at my own wit. Insert more featuring my various friends. I'd definitely give special attention to my lawyer friends, contrasting their days with mine (them in suits, me in cute sweats. them clocking in and out, me reading manuscripts in the sun). Maybe I'll take a note from Hasselhoff and do a slo-mo montage of that bit. I'd let my parents be on the show, but my dad couldn't make jokes about me being an old maid. Come to think of it, I'd probably have to make him sign something about that.

I still feel like I'm jetlagged from my awesome trip to NYC. This week's lesson on "So Lillious" is that you can take a wicked nap if you bunch up an airplane blanket for a pillow to rest your head on on your traytable. Plus you look so weird that the air waitresses (as I like to call them) leave you alone.

Like a Von Trapp, I bid you adieu (always wanted to do that. To you, and you, and you and you and you). Nitey nite.

Does My Hair Look Okay?

This evening a few pressing questions came to mind.

1) Do people who have mullets *call* them mullets?

Or let's backtrack.
2) Do people who have mullets even know they have mullets?

Pondering these questions has entertained me for more of the evening than I'd like to admit.

Notes from Room 611

So last night I had a near brush with death. Don't worry, dear readers. I'm alive and well, if undercaffeinated. There is much room for aggressive Strabucks franchising in Colorado, if anyone is looking for a business opportunity. I threw a fit in the Denver Int'l Airport. I had been late to SAN to take my flight, so I figured I'd nap and get a coffee at my layover. This was not meant to be, however. I walked the length of the terminal at Denver only to find myself in front of the terminal map, hands on my waist, just short of stomping my feet.

I called a friend. At work. In the middle of her busiest day.

me: "Um. So there's apparently no Starbucks at this airport. Is this even possible?"
her: "No Starbucks? Is it a third world country?"

This is why we have our friends. Rather than ridicule me, she was quick to point out that even Iran has Starbucks, if a completely illegal ripoff called "Starbox". I love my people.

Anyway, she told me Seattle's Best is owned by Starbucks, but that didn't comfort me. I got a frozen yogurt and continued planning the bar crawl for 100 folks that I've got going on Tuesday night in honor of the Roomienator's graduation. Is there anything better one can do on a Tuesday than drink copious amounts of well drinks? I think not. And I don't know that there's anything more professional you can do on a business trip than spend your time planning such an event. "$2 kamikazes. Think you can do that?"

Back to the future, here we are, room 611 at the Wyndham in Colorado Springs. Which brings us back to my near-death experience. It's really dry out here. They outfitted us with bottles of water and chapstick upon arrival. Well last night I was talking on my phone (yes, this is what I do on Friday nights. Get over it.) and my phone was sparking at my ear! Static like CRAZY. So I decided to put it away, shut off the lights and go to bed. And then, when I got in bed there was even MORE static- sparks left and right. BLUE SPARKS! Big ones! Ouchy ones. I told myself not to worry because I'm not flammable. But then I realized...


I am flammable. For some reason this fascinates me. I nearly escaped death. Ok, maybe that's dramatic, but I'm at a writers conference. What do you expect?

Here's to hoping I find the next Great American Novelist downstairs. And a cup of coffee. I'd like one of those too.

My Last Meal

Tonight my roommate and I had some friends over and cooked dinner (yes smartass, you read that right). A ridiculous top-secret yummalicious recipe from her boyfriend's mom for mac and cheese. And dessert? Cupcakes.

Unfortunately, the amount of joy I found in consuming this menu led me to the realization that while I am 28, I am really just 5.

Kiss the Cook

Apparently hell has frozen over. I've decided I like cooking.

Yesterday I woke up in the morning and moseyed (mosied?) my way over to the kitchen, where I pulled out the latest issues of COOKING LIGHT. You might want to know why they were handy, and I'm going to go ahead and out myself and let you know that I subscribed. Yup, commitment. I leafed through and decided that I would take on the Dijon Pork Tenderloin w/a cranberry sauce. Oh yes, it's true. I was ready to put Rachel Ray in my back pocket.

So anyway, I read the recipe twice to be sure I understood the Order of Operations (for you elementary school math geeks). Then I checked which ingredients I had. I was missing just two. Tarragon and cranberry sauce. Now, the Lilly of a few months ago would have decided that all green spices are the same, and used rosemary or some other Simon and Garfunkely flavoring (damn them for the inadvertant accompaniment I get every time I spin my spice rack). And don't think I didn't entertain using what was left of my sugar free strawberry jam as a sauce instead.

But no, this time was different. I am ready to cook by the rules. I know. I felt possessed!

Last night I got home from the bar and what did I do? Did I head to the bathroom to pray to a porcelein God? Nope. Did I go straight for the chips in the pantry? Well, kinda. But I also had the wherewithal to MARINATE my meat to be cooked today. I kid you not. 3 a.m. found me fully dressed in club gear, shaking a tupperware container with my little concoction.

Today my inner domestic goddess and I got up and went to the store and picked up what I needed. Tarragon, the sauce, and much more (worry not, dear reader, for they corrolate to recipes for later in the week). I came home and made what my sister called my little Thanksgiving feast (ok, I had sweet potato on the side). I did everything as instructed and -- it came out really good! I put it on a pretty plate because I was dining with Lorelai and Rory and the rest of Stars Hollow. It had the makings of a perfect night minus the makeout session, but THINK! -- if I get better at this whole domestic gig, chances only increase actually get one of those too!

I can't get over the fact that I actually ate the whole dinner. What if I outgrow this "I'm the anti-domestic goddess" act that fits me like the perfect pair of jeans? What if, instead of scrolling past the Food Network listing on my tv, I stop? What if I WATCH it? What if I become one of Them? One of those people who knows how food magically arrives on a plate? Then what will I have? Apparently six servings of leftovers. Anyone hungry?

So as I was washing my dishes (I'm the cleanest chef west of the Mississippi, by the way) I had this epiphany -- it was this: every ingredient matters. You can't take shortcuts in the kitchen and expect things to come out as perfect as if you went through all the agony of circling the grocery store six thousand times scared to ask for canned anything because you're at an organic store. No short cuts. So it is in life. Every Ingredient Matters. And then I started to worry that I'm finding my life philosophies in the kitchen. "Every little ingredient matters." "Coffee or death." "Expiration dates are for wussies" and so on.

I'm hoping to cease the cheesy life lessons, but I'm going full-force with this cooking thing. I'm not sure where this adventure is taking me, but I highly encourage my friends and acquaintances to get very busy very soon because I'm looking for tasters, you see...

Let He Who Is Without Sin

Two events happened back to back that are possibly worth discussing.

This past week I met up with Tim, who started, my internet musical playground. Pandora is a site that lets you plug in an artist or band you like and then goes through its records to create a station of songs you are likely to find equally appealing as tested by the Music Genome Project. I know, too cool to be true. It explores the fact that our musical taste might be a touch different if we felt we had complete privacy to explore -- and adore -- music. In discussing this, he brought up the fact that music is very personal to people.

Proving that "All roads lead to Madonna" (R), I was talking with my sister yesterday and she brought up my unrelenting love for all things Madonna (no secret to you, dear reader), and she wrinkled her nose or rolled her eyes or jabbed at her Indian food in a protest of my taste. I realized in a flash of a moment (or it could have been a curry-induced hotflash, but let's go with "epiphany") that I do the same thing.

Ok, so that's about when I started to feel bad. On the one hand, I do believe music is right up there with air and water. I believe music is important and fuels our days and forms a soundtrack that we each live by, that marks important dates or times or experiences. I think everyone should have access to it and that a world without songs would be, well, the gynocologist's office. I love music SO much and consider it such a basic human accessory that when I find people who *don't* have articulated tastes or preferences or feel satisfied to listen to music rather than own it and obsess over it, I get a bit confused. I then have to look at them and think quickly of all the redeeming qualities why I should go on being their friend. And then I have to tell myself "It doesn't matter if there aren't enough reasons. You still have to stay their friend!" It's true.

I'm a self-proclaimed radio-knob-arm-wrestler. If you're in the car with me, the rules go like this:

IF I'M DRIVING: I'm the radio boss. My car is equipped with buttons on the BACK of the wheel (so you don't even KNOW I'm the boss but I am). Totally coincidental, and at the same time, totally convenient. It has been brought to my attention that I will covertly turn up the volume while other people are talking if there's a song I like but then fade out so my own proclamations can be heard. I know, an obnoxious twitch of a habit. But come on, pretty funny. Volume, cd, track, station, it's all mine. It's my car, so naturally it follows that I'm the Music Leader in that situation.

IF OTHER PEOPLE ARE DRIVING: I will wait to hear what's on. If it's objectionable, I will request a music change. Particularly when a group of people are in a car, you'd think music wouldn't matter and you'd, I dunno, TALK to each other. But the awful truth is that I get carsick if I don't have music on in the car. And knowing this, most people prefer to let me be the Music Leader and not barf on their lovely upholstery.

IF MY SISTER IS DRIVING: I will not wait to hear what's on. I think this is more out of habit than anything else. If it's B-52s, we will leave it in peace. But then I will sing along and Susie will shut it off because my singing is apparently that offensive (although fans of The Parish may not agree, and I love you all -- ::mwah::) Then, as she's focused on a task like, I dunno, getting us somewhere in one piece, I will covertly begin tinkering. Susie is one safe driver and so, after a few times, she will usually just shut it off while I look around the car for that damn B-52s cd.

Ok so now that you are fully acquainted with my Musicism or whatever you want to call it, my bossy nature (if you must) about music and my Taste Preferences (see also "Judgmental"), you can imagine how taken aback I was by the mere notion, suggested to me ever so casually, that taking music personally and harassing people about their (poor/pathetic/offensive - circle one) music taste are at odds.

So I'm deciding which one I want to pick. Do I continue believing that music is personal and important and touches everyone in a different way -- which would require me at some point backing down and biting my lovely tongue when someone's eyes grow wide and bright at the mention of a remastered Abba disc? (I'm talking biting til it bleeds, people!) That kinda sounds like the whole thing where you try to find something nice in everyone. I know, I gagged too.

Or do I march forward in my Crusade Against Shitty Music like one of those generals in the Civil War who, I dunno, marched alot?

Don't you love rhetorical questions?

March of the Questions

This one goes out to my roomie (Hi Roomie!).

So my Roomie (who can be identified by the beeping and screaming coming from my car when she lets me drop her off "smartest student at Cal Western coming through! BEEP BEEP! Make way!) and her boyfriend just saw March of the Penguins. I've had mixed feelings about this movie, but given our conversations about it, I thought I'd parlay my thoughts, hopes, and confusions into a post.

When I saw this movie, I left the theater very depressed. The storyline: penguins march across God's frozen earth to hatch an egg that they then roll back and forth in a painstakingly fragile ballet, during which the egg may just, well, die. And sometimes the moms die. And sometimes the dads get sad. And sometimes baby penguins get eaten by seals. The way I saw it, the movie might as well have been titled "God Hates Penguins". What a difficult life. I couldn't see the point.

If you rebut my thoughts with "that's part of the circle of life", please pass me the nearest barf bag.

Don't get me wrong -- the film was beautifully done. In fact, it was such a touching portrayal of the little things that I obviously took it to heart and felt the anguish of their little journey and the toils of their lifestyle.

But this afternoon a few questions came up that I think we need to address, effective immediately. I'm plagiarizing them from my conversation with Roomie. Please respond to us IMMEDIATELY if you have insight into this (yes, Susie, our avian specialist, this means you.)

--> So when the couples all find each other, what do the SINGLE penguins do? Today we bounced around a few scenarios- so do the single penguins hang around and help with anything? Moral support? Someone call Hillary -- does it take a village to raise a baby penguin too? Why would the singles go with the couples on this pain-in-the-ass-ful journey? I can't recall if the pairing happened before or after the trek. I venture to say before, in which case, why do they have to go too? Why can't they be left alone -- like their human corollaries -- to rot in single purgatory? A lil' Valentines spirit for ya ;)

--> What are the possibilities that a penguin would accidentally mate with a sibling? I mean, how do they know who their parents were or that they are related one year later?

Roomie suggested this and I would like to feign disgust, but the truth is, I wondered the same thing when I watched it.

--> Part B to the above: what would an incest penguin look like? (that's all mine)

--> Why do they go so far? We felt this was a stretch, a little dramatic flair.

Sheesh. Hollywood can't even leave the penguins alone.

Fan Mail.

Sometimes when I sit down to check email -- ok, every time I sit down to check email -- maybe I pretend I'm reading my fanmail. Who loves me? What do they think I can advise them about? Am I keeping them on their toes? Clients? Friends? Mom? The spam mail is just a red herring in this quest to connect with my public. A few lines in (or a cup of coffee later, whichever comes first), I'm quick to realize that Abu Kambuzi from Nigeria doesn't *really* need my help transferring millions to his account. I refocus and apply myself to giving useful advice to writers or friends (or completely useless advice and/or obnoxious and unsolicited life commentary, depending on the friend), channeling my thoughts out at 100+ wmp.

And when email fails me, and I'm super-bored and don't want to do my work, I will go back through my blog, beat myself up about typos, and read comments from my TRUE fans. Or obligated friends, as the case may be. Which led me, on this particular evening (it was that or continue reading a book about Mormons that is barely holding my interest) to a few months back when I posted a brief chain letter of sorts. The post I offered had concluded with offering readers to send me three questions which I would then answer.

But I realize tonight that I never did answer them. Oops. With an attitude like that, how do I expect to keep my fans?

Taking a page from the "better late than never" book, I'm going to go ahead and answer them.


1. What’s with this new pink color on your blog?

Answer: My blog, as you, dear reader, must be noticing, is no longer pink. I go through phases when I need change. Expect frequent overhaul of my blog design if I can figure out how to not lose the comments you've all posted ("I" = Jon, my tech guru, friend, client, coiner of the phrase "My agent, my life." and author of THE ROUGH GUIDE TO BLOGGING, forthcoming this summer. How's that for a shameless plug?).

2. Where/what is Mathissexy? I tried; it wasn’t anything interesting.

Answer: Mathissexy is something my sister mentioned on her blog. I don't know what it is, but since it generated from my sister, chances are it's hip and ahead of the curve, and thus something you and I won't be privy to for another 2-3 years, at which point she'll tiredly point out "I told you so."

3. Can you make gobs of money being a literary agent?

Answer: The short answer to this one is yes. The long answer is that one in a million do. But we all agree that I'm special like that, no? Keep checking back. James Frey and his agent have parted ways, so...

Kidding, guys, kidding.

I personally could make gobs of money if you refer up there to #1 and buy Jon's book. In bulk. For years.

B1. Why study French instead of Spanish?


In general -- French is very pretty, but short of living in France, French Canada, certain parts of Africa, or dating Gerard Depardieu (how many blogs can boast his name coming up TWICE?), eet eez maybe not so -- how do you say? -- makeeng of sense.

Personally -- My parents didn't really see the point to us learning Spanish growing up. What was the point? We were in the midwest -- *we* were the only brown people in town. At least with French we could communicate with the family members abroad that we (my sister and I) so staunchly refused to speak Persian with. Plus when they sent us away to language camp in the summer, it just seemed like you'd be better behaved at the French camp. It translated to "less fun, more manners."

Moving to California was a big ass reality check and now my brother, mom and I all speak it.

Truth is, in a country where we regularly massacre our own language (it's English, by the way), I'll support whatever language you'd like to study up on.

B2. How sinful is it to be a closet label whore? Not LV or anything obscene like that, but say, 7 jeans, or Valentino sunglasses.

Answer: In Lilly's Book of Sins, this fit in right between "wearing Tevas" and "not flushing". I thought the whole fun of being a label whore was the exhibitionism?

B3. Overrated, overroasted Starbucks or messy and time consuming but perfect stove heated Bialetti moka?

Answer: Starbucks. I would elaborate on this, but I can't even see how it's a question. Although if they promote anymore crappy albums, I may have to convert.

1. what are you getting dad for xmas?

Answer: Hi Susie. Every year I give dad something that bows to his dismay of all things gifty just a bit more. This year I took a funny investment book from the free books shelf in my apartment complex and wrapped it up for him, labeling that it was acquired at no cost. By next xmas I should be giving him things like homemade coupon books boasting such treats as "free parking at 7366 Fairway Road", "this coupon entitles you to not be given a new tie for Christmas", and "You can walk the dog." Can't wait.

2. what's the grossest thing you've ever eaten while on the atkins diet?

Answer: I ate a hell of a lot of bacon the first time I was on it. I mean half a pack in one sitting. Serving sizes mean nothing to me when I'm on Atkins.

3. name the top five things you miss about south haven, michigan

Answer: In no particular order-- sitting by myself on the grass watching the sunset, Ryan Gardner's cute friends, that feeling of hope as I'd enter the pawn shop looking for cheap cassette tapes, the smell of mom heating a rhubarb pie from Crane's orchard, and getting all the neighborhood kids together to create a whirlpool in the pool at night. (It was harder to limit that to 5 than I thought it would be. Oh South Haven, Michigan, 49090, how I miss you.)

1. Do all the real men migrate to Vegas?

Answer: By "real men" do you mean "greasy chest hair caught in rusting faux gold chains basking in the stink of last night's hookers"? Just checking. Real men VISIT Vegas, find a cute little Persian thing at the craps table, and strike up a witty conversation. WHERE ARE YOU, REAL MEN?

2. What (if any) articles of clothing do you swear help you get lucky? (I have my own sad list)

Answer: If I'd found the outfit, I don't think I'd be sitting at home alone blogging at night, now would I?

3. Is Ocean Beach the Gyro capital of the world?

Answer: I would assume Athens is, but don't quote me on that.

A New Brand of Family Fun OR How We Spent Monday Night

I recently made a little mistake of judgment that I will now share with you so that you never make the same mistake.

Allow me to set the scene: on the eve of my father's 65th birthday, I got the feeling that he wasn't so excited about it after all. I mean, for YEARS he's been ordering senior breakfasts at Dennys and haggling at the movie counter for $2 off. He LOVED all the perks of nearly passing for a senior citizen. But when it came to actually "becoming" one, he got a little bit bummed. "Dad, you wanna go to the casino on your birthday?" Nope. Sad face. "Wanna go to SOUPLANTATION?" Nope. That's when I started to worry.

We quickly devised a plan- entertain him with a funny slapstick movie and a dinner he'd like. Ready, set, go. Short of my brother shaving for the occasion, we couldn't have better laid out our plans.

I arrived at the house and mom was cooking. During dinner we each poured ourselves one glass of wine from the half-empty bottles he wanted us to finish. We ate everything on the table and kept the conversation pleasant. We spoke about how to best wrangle a good deal on the used car Susie and Michael were about to buy. As soon as we were done, I beat him to clearing dishes and made sure the kitchen was SPOTLESS following a meal of his favorite food.

Then came the presents. For once, I did as he said, avoiding big or expensive gifts. He openly hates gifts. But I had to get him something. So that something was the latest John Grisham book. Paperback. With the Target 20% off sticker to boot. (I couldn't strip him of that extra bit of joyful news.) It was wrapped in leftover silvery wedding bell wrapping paper. I had even used one of the 50 cent greeting cards he'd bought for me the week before. He asked me with joy if it was one of those cards and when I confirmed, his grin grew bigger than it has in the past 28 years I've known him. It was a grin that said "this is my kid. Now I am sure of it!"

My brother and sister followed suit, providing him with unwrapped gifts that he loved. A book on the stock market, the Godfather dvd set and a magic dvd. We just had to drive it home.

Now my dad is a guy whose cine-motto is "I don't want to watch something depressing." That's right. Schindler's List can win all the awards it wants, no dice. However, he will watch with delight at Inspector Closeau's adventures in the Pink Panther series starring Peter Sellers. If it involves Steve Martin, it's going to be promising. And my dad has singlehandedly kept Leslie Nielsen in the business. Just in case you wonder why they made "Naked Gun 33 and 1/3".

I had recommended a movie I'd seen for the evening's finale. We'd get dad his jar of roasted peanuts and seat him in his favorite chair. This..... was..... it. Funny? Yes. Slapstick? Surely. Male humor? Check!


Now, I'll be the first to say that I don't have a great memory. I can remember the gist of a movie or book, but very rarely do I remember details or character lines (that memory space has gone to song lyrics, as we all know). So when we sat down to watch the movie, I had NO idea what we were in for. Honestly, the scene that stuck out to me was the chest waxing. Blame it on my middle eastern self. I remember the scene about body hair, and TOTALLY blank on the substance of the rest of it.

Unfortunately, this was the part of the plan that I rigged ALL by myself. My brother nagged that he hadn't seen more than the first few minutes, but went along just to be part of the evening. My mom obviously hadn't seen it because, well, she's a mom. When I suggested it, my sister offered to bring it along because it had just arrived on Netflix. That's right. JUST arrived. As in "she hadn't watched it yet." (Her boyfriend had, though, and for that I totally and completely implicate him as an accomplice in what followed.)

Have you ever watched a bedroom scene with your parents? I generally don't because, back when we were young, my mom instituted the "take a walk" policy. If there was so much as a couple leaning together to kiss (I'm sure we missed many a whisper scene), she announced "TAKE A WAAAALK!" and off we went. Susie and I would march around our old house in Chicago, which was conveniently arranged in a circular course. We'd hurry around the tv room and continue through the house, perhaps banging a few piano keys on the way, sliding across a bit of the wood floor, and continuing on our blissfully happy way until we were reinvited into the room.

Well lemme tell you, I have never wanted to tell my PARENTS to take a walk as I did that night. My mom eventually removed herself from the room quietly, for which I was grateful. I don't know exactly when she left, because I couldn't look at her! The movie began with a conversation about woman-on-horse action and ended with a graphic "ha. You're not a virgin anymoooooooore!" wedding night. Ugh. I get dizzy just thinking about it.

Somehow the entire night, I was immobilized. I had nothing to say for myself. To speak up would be to acknowledge the nightmare I had created for us. And to draw attention to the fact that I had already seen it and found it to be funny enough to recommend. OOPS. So we all just sat there. I'm going to have to organize a Social Institute for Family Film Watching, which will include a total and complete list of movies that are inappropriate to watch with your parents. This just shouldn't happen. I mean, who are all those people out crusading for education and homelessness? Don't they know the REAL social issues pressuring our domestic agenda?

On the up side, Dad laughed out loud, so I knew I did the right thing as far as cheering him up. Despite that glitch, the evening went off quite well, and while I'll be abdicating my throne as "film chooser" FOREVER, I think we made a difference in how he'll head into the next year of his life.

Too bad about all that $ we saved on gift wrapping or cards or expensive gifts though. How much is family therapy anyway?

Hmmmm, Did You Do Something Different?

Ok, so here's a moral dilemma I've struggled with -- let me know what you guys think. Consider this a formal poll of your social practices.

When is it appropriate to comment on a woman's apparent pregnancy?
A. When and ONLY when it's verified, ie. you're in the room watching the baby come out of her.
B. Never.
C. When you've heard from someone else.
D. When she looks like she has a beer belly that you don't *think* was there before.
E. When you're her boyfriend and you haven't been getting any from her.

Ok, the reason I bring this up is that I ran into a casual acquaintance tonight. I asked her how she'd been and she said "Good, good. I, um, had a baby."

So NATURALLY I did the whole 'Ohmygosh!Congratulations!ThatisSOGREAT.Noway!' thing. To which she responded "Well, when I saw you back in June, I was seven months pregnant. And you didn't say anything! I left with my friend feeling sorry for myself because I thought you just thought I was fat." So then I had to explain to her my personal theory, ie. choice "A", listed above. Friends, if you are apparently with child, let me be the first to say you will NOT hear it out of me. Never will the words "Are you expeeeeeeeeecting?" fall from these lips.

I realize the margin of error on guessing wrong is probably very very small after a certain point. When the belly is past the boobs, you're pretty much good to go. My thing is to not comment until they (aformentioned Possibly Pregnant One) insist on making it conversation -- that, or if the labor pains strike on my watch. That's just me. I'm playing it safe. Hey, at least someone is.


There has only been one time in my life that I had short hair. It was (appropriately) in the 80's. Lice was going around my classroom and, next thing I knew, my mom had given me a really short haircut. I would describe it to you as a bowl if it had that shape. Unfortunately, my unruly hair had no shape whatsoever. The shape was kinda like cotton candy, only not soft. Just gross. To compensate, I wore my favorite puffy pastel reversable sweater (I'm not a fashion girl, so the fact that I remember the outfit is meant to signify how traumatic it all was) to school. Matt Evans was quick to tell me that, well, he liked my hair better long. I went home and stared in the mirror and cried. For two days. I never spoke to him again (and when I say never, I mean it. I'm a woman of my word). I also never really cut it again. I had one near-cut trim when a Persian hairstylist in Vestvood took liberties with the 'trim' she was commissioned to give me, but never has my hair risen above shoulder level.

Until last week.

I called my mom and told her I wanted to cut my hair off. Only fitting that she of the 1980's Lice Epidemic Hairstyling Fiasco be the one to once again take scissors to my locks. Was there a moment of regret? Not really, more fascination. Something that had been part of me so long was being amputated, but I couldn't feel a thing except surprise that I'd made the decision. I don't know what I was cutting off, but it felt awesome.

The first shower after you get your hair cut (I'm talking over a foot of tresses here, folks) is scary. You have phantom hair. I have since shared Phantom Hair stories with people, okay, just my sister, who grew her hair equally long and cut it. She recalled throwing her hair back in the shower and nearly knocking herself out when, lacking hair weight, she made cranial contact with a shower wall. But enough about her, let's get back to me ;)

Somehow you think that if you change your hair, you change your life. I'm not making this up. I watched the Lenny Kravitz Behind the Music special, and when he needed to rejuvenate, what did HE do? That's right- he cut his hair! And what are half of celeb magazines focused on? How women took their lives into their hands and cut their hair. Even Persian tribes believe that shaving the hair encourages growth. Granted, that's in children, but I'm short. I'm ready for change. As the wise philosopher Lauryn Hill once said "If you're not changing/growing, then you're dead."

So the report one week in is... well, I just feel like I'm wearing a wig. And I feel like I look older. But I'm also proud of myself for doing something really scary and having no idea how it would turn out. But on the other side, I'm learning not to be attached to it. It's just friggin hair. I know, I can hear you calling in the COSMO cops right now.

And yes, there will be the Matt Evans-es of the world who will remind me that - tsk tsk - men like long hair. But to them I say: Why don't you go worry about the pluralization of your last name and get me an answer on that instead of worrying about my hair?

It's possible to look one way so long that it *becomes* your identity instead of just decorating it. When you take that away, who are you? That's what I'm trying to figure out. And it seems I have about two years to do just that.


This afternoon a friend sent me this link that sends you to Merriam-Webster to find out what the most popular words looked up in the last year were. Click on this link and you too will read that:

"Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2005

Based on your online lookups, the #1 Word of the Year for 2005 was:

1. integrity

Pronunciation: in-'te-gr&-tE
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English integrite, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French integrité, from Latin integritat-, integritas, from integr-, integer entire
1 : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values : INCORRUPTIBILITY
2 : an unimpaired condition : SOUNDNESS
3 : the quality or state of being complete or undivided : COMPLETENESS
synonym see HONESTY"

The NUMBER ONE word that Americans didn't understand the meaning of was... ***integrity***?

I couldn't even bring myself to read the rest of the list. Oh brother.