« April 2008 | Main | June 2008 »

May 29, 2008

See you at the Book Expo!

Book Expo America at the Convention Center in Los Angeles

I will be signing books at the HCI booth and also in the main autographing area, so if you are attending and you get a chance stop by and say hey. Free books rock!

Friday, May 30 at 2:30 p.m.
In-Booth signing at the HCI Booth #2947

Saturday, May 31 at 11:30 a.m.
In-Booth signing at the HCI Booth #2947

SATURDAY, May 31, 2008 from 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
BEA GENERAL AUTOGRAPHING AREA, I'm at Table # 15

See you there!

Posted by laurie at 3:52 PM

Funky Cold Medina

What I would like to speak to you about is my left leg which is at this moment bearing the brunt of my knitting "creativity."

Last year, you may not recall, I decided I would start a small, portable project that was not a sock or glove and I would take this project with me on the book tour and knit in my "downtime." Hah! Downtime!

Also, hah! Me knitting without a pattern again!

I do not know why I am compelled to dream up my own stuff instead of following a pattern like a normal human but anyway, that's probably on the same node of my DNA as "won't follow a recipe" and "invents new drinks when fresh limes are in season."

Knitting probably is supposed to be more functional and lovely than goofy or ironic but I have yet to receive that memo, because I thought the project I was called by the Knitting Gods to resurrect was THE LEG WARMER:

legwarmer1.jpg

I thought it would be funny. Notice how my selection of self-striping yarn only increases the elephantlike nature of my gigantor-calves. Lovely!

The yarn is one of my favorites -- Patons SWS, a mix of soy and wool. And this variety stripes in a leg-widening way that accentuates my shortness of stature and wideness of ... stature.

I'm thinking I might try felting this warmer of legness and turn it into a wine cozy. I'm not sure my wine needs to be cozy, but I do know my leg needs to be un-warmed, that is certain!

legwarmer2.jpg

- - -

One Legwarmer, if you have a leg to warm:

Cast on 72 stitches of Patons SWS using a size 10 (16") circular needle. Join stitches to knit in the round. Kind of like making a hat!

Work in Knit two, purl two ribbing for about 2.5 inches of length to create a top cuff. Switch to stockinette (that's knitting every stitch since you are working in the round.)

Work in stockinette in the round for as long as you can stand it. I worked for 13.5 inches.

Finish off with another 2.5" of knit two, purl two ribbing for the other end's cuff.

If you have skinnier legs than me this sucker will fall off in about two seconds flat. Whoops! But then again, yay you and your skinny legs. The end!

Posted by laurie at 9:21 AM

May 28, 2008

And just what is "essential" anyway?

Edited to add: Each of the readers I commented here gave me such thought-provoking and good stuff to ponder that I quoted them because they said what was on my mind, too, and I thank them. Thank you, Jennifer(s) and Jasmine!

- - -

When I decided to share my mid-year resolution to stop buying crap for the rest of the year, I didn't expect so many folks to chime in with the amen chorus and it's made me very happy to hear so many others are thinking along the same lines. But I thought this comment from reader Jennifer was really interesting:

I think that's the smartest thing to do right now... but ...I just read an article about consumer confidence falling to a new 16 year low. So ... the more we worry about the economy, the less we spend. The less we spend, the worse the economy gets. It's a vicious circle and everyone doing the smart thing could have pretty dire consequences. Depressing and confusing. But I'm still going to stop spending AND my tomato plant had it's first fruit last night! Yea! Free produce!

Congratulations on your tomato. I am still hoping to make my own zucchini-based fuel for my Jeep. Hope, like zucchini, springs eternal.

But her comment about consumer confidence was interesting because I was recently asking someone here at the Place I Work about the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) and what it really "measures." For example, if you don't know about it does it really matter to your life? People tell us we need to buy, shop, spend so we can keep our economy afloat, but at the same time we're seeing foreclosures at record highs and more people out of work and groceries costing more every second. Are we supposed to spend to make it better? But what if we go even further into debt, doesn't that make it CRAZY?

I'm not an economist and I don't pretend to be an expert, but while our so-called consumer "confidence" has declined, as a nation we have accrued statistically more credit card debt per person than at any other time in history. So my thinking is... maybe consumers have low confidence because they're already burdened with debt from buying stuff?

All I know for sure is that when I have debt I don't feel good about spending even more money, because that feeling of having debt hanging over me like a dark, ominous cloud of despair is just awful. My life's goal and purpose is not to prop up the failing economy of a whole nation by taking on more debt. I don't believe that's the clean, harmonious path of living I want to be on. I can and will live within my means, and consume less of the earth's resources.

But if the economy is tanking and someone wants to blame it on me -- the consumer -- for not buying crap, I'm totally 100% OK with that. I won't have credit card debt and besides, doesn't blame burn calories?

Another reader also named Jennifer asked:

I have long been trying to extricate myself from the consumerism borg. One question though - does your 'diet' include services things? Like going out to movies or restaurants or getting pedicures? I go back and forth on that one...

Well, the word "diet" makes me want to eat french fries, so I am thinking of this more as a break. Just a little vacation from stuff. My purpose here is to detach from the endless cycle of consuming, buying, shopping, spending and then wondering how on earth I accumulated so much junk!

As for services and experiences, your mileage will vary. I think haircuts are essential, but others may not. I tried having my nails done a few years ago but I got an infection and freaked out because ... my fingers! Take anything but my fingers, I need them for frantic typing! So anyway, germaphobic me doesn't do the nail salon thing anymore (don't bother trying to talk me out of it, it's just my thing.) I don't go out to the movies often enough to exclude it plus it's an experience not a thing that you junk out later at a yard sale. I'll probably still rent the occasional DVD and movies on demand, because I enjoy them and they don't clutter my life.

In general, I think if service/activity things aren't eating up a huge area of your budget they're fine -- especially because you don't have to dust them, store them or vacuum around them! But when it comes to eating out I definitely try to limit this as much as possible because I swear I'm addicted to fast food, and it's HORRIBLE for the body and the waistline and in general it's best for me to avoid it.

The concept of "essentials" varies from person to person. I think buying a a puppy toy (or three) for my parents' new puppy is an essential. For other folks, shoes are an essential but I have more shoes than I have places to wear them so I'll be fine holding off for a few months. I want less stuff and less clutter, so my moratorium is more stuff-related than anything else.

Of course I'm not advocating that all people stop buying stuff. I'm just personally ceasing my crazyass consumerism for the next few months. I'm taking a break. For me, I chose a more radical "rest of the year" approach but I like radical. I began drastically reducing my spending when I got divorced and was dead broke and I owed a whopping amount of debt. I paid it off by living so close to the bone it was scary, and it took me from October of 2004 until June of last year to chip it away and in that time I cut my shopping back to virtually zero, plus yarn. And it worked.

My buy-buy-buy habit started back up again as soon as I was out from under the shadow of that debt. Is that insane or what? It started small... "just this little thing to reward myself for a job well done!" but I could see where it was headed and I'm just not going to walk that road again. I know like I know like I know that I can't buy my way to contentment or happiness or satisfaction, so I am dropping out of buying for a while. I want to focus on life, not stuff.

I didn't mean to suggest that everyone had to go monk and stop buying shoes and wine and yarn. I just personally happen to have enough shoes and yarn to last me a few months. OR YEARS. But for the next little bit I think I can make do with 17 bins of yarn and a bazillion pairs of shoes I already own. If I truly need something it's not like I can't buy it -- no one will send me to Bad Budgeter Jail. This is a choice, something I volunteered for, and I am so relieved for having decided upon it. I want to free myself of the poverty mentality that says I have to hoard for a rainy day. I want to believe -- and live -- with the safety of knowing I will always provide for myself, I will always be able to have (whatever) if truly necessary. I don't want to forever be waiting for the rainy day.

As for wine, it is an essential and therefore free to be purchased liberally and often. (I've discovered organic wine now, I am crazy with the all-organic thing I tell you what.)

By the way, no one at work believes I will make it seven months of no spending. I believe they have an office pool going on how long it will be before I cave in. My co-workers have seen my Zappos.com issue firsthand and they think I am incapable of maintaining a spending cap but they are wrong! When I commit to a thing I am all over it. I am excellent at goofy existential challenges.

And that's what this is, it's a philosophy and a challenge I want to try out for a little while and let it seep into my life and become a real habit. I just want to find the contentment available from anything other than buying more stuff. I'm excited about having to be a little creative and I am really excited about watching my bank account go up a little bit at a time. I didn't mean to suggest that everyone jump ship and move to an ashram, but I know that for me these next few months are going to be really great because I'm focused on appreciation instead of accumulation.

I don't ever want to go back to how I used to be, shopping on credit cards because I was sad and unhappy in my life. Buying stuff I couldn't afford so I'd feel temporarily better. Using those credit card checks they send to rob Peter to pay Paul. Worried about when it would all come crashing down. I spent seventeen years of my life living with credit card and consumer debt and that is way too long. I'm just going to take a few months out to appreciate what I already have and relax from having to purchase, store, move, dust and re-arrange layers of stuff.

That's all. It's just my way of focusing more on what I already have -- my family and friends and cats and using what I've got on hand. Utilizing the library more often, visiting the beach instead of the mall, really finishing the work of paring down so that my home has only what I need and can afford and love. Living within my means like my grandparents used to do. That's all.

If you do want to try it, I'll be here doing this thing I'm doing and probably blabbering on and on about it from time to time. If seven months of no-shopping seems like crazytalk but you like the idea of spending less on crap, you can always start with just two weeks. Or how about trying reader Jasmine's more targeted approach:

I tell myself pretty much every week that I am going to quit buying crap, but my willpower is not equal to to the task, so for the time being I have started small: I've put a moratorium on buying makeup and jewelry, because even though there's a fashion-magazine-reading part of me that believes one more pair of hoop earrings will fix my life, the truth is, they're going to lie at the bottom of a drawer while I wish for my twenty dollars back.

I'm all for little tiny changes that are helpful to your life but not so agonizing they make you want to hide under the covers with a flask of gin. If you like the general idea of de-crappifying your life and spending less on non-essentials, pick a category and stick with it for a month, like "no purchasing magazines for one month." I added up all my magazine purchases once a few years ago and it was something like $40 for one month. NUTTY!

And of course if none of this appeals to you at all I encourage you to completely ignore me and my zealot's wackiness for bringing down the Consumer Consuming Index. You can also join in the office pool that's betting against me, although I assure you it will be a waste of your money. I am SO up for this challenge!

Posted by laurie at 9:01 AM

May 27, 2008

Mid Year Resolution

Happy day-after-long-weekend! I had a particularly long weekend because after being in The Torture Room ("dentist's office") for FOUR HOURS on Thursday, I was in pain and spent Friday at home feeling sorry for myself for not being able to eat. Then I remembered milkshakes and I didn't feel sad anymore. Milkshakes are really nice. So are smoothies. I could probably live on smoothies, especially when they have peaches in them.

None of that has anything at all to do with my Big! Mid-Year! Resolution, by the way.

On Monday bright and early at the buttcrack of dawn, I arrived at Faith's house for a group yardsale with me, Allison and Jane. It was an AWESOME day, because I never get the chance to spend a whole entire day with my friends, and even Sara came by with baby Vivian, and I can't image a better group of friends. We got to hang out and haggle and declutter and make money and chitchat all day long.

And we had a big turnout for the yard sale, even on a Monday! I have a theory about this, as ya'll know I love a theory of any kind, and my theory is that with the pressure people are feeling about the economy and this:

gasprices-may24-2008.jpg

... no one really left town and everyone likes a bargain so the planets aligned just so and we had a great yard-sale crowd. Also, that picture above is from Saturday and overnight it went to $4.19 but I didn't take a picture. I didn't want to idle on the corner!

So that's my yard sale Monday Crowd theory and I'm sticking to it. I've been thinking a lot about the economy lately which is a little strange, I've always been one who prefers to think about things like imaginary vacations, and the mysteries of how the cats need to sit on the one piece of paper on the floor, and whether or not I should be a redhead. But maybe I'm thinking more about the economy because I work at a bank and they have assimilated me finally to their banky borg, or perhaps it's because the media talk incessantly about the weak dollar and the failing real estate market and energy prices skyrocketing. I don't know. I've just felt... unsure. Unstable. Not comfortable at all.

It's a weird feeling, this sort of pervasive uneasy feeling that things could go bad ... and that's not how I want to live my life. Not by a long shot.

On Saturday when I was hauling Jeepload Number One of crap to sell at the yard sale over to Faith's house, I looked in my rearview mirror and I just saw all my clutter with fresh eyes. How was it possible that after participating in several very big yard sales over the past three years that I still have this much crap?

And that's when it hit me. That's when I made my New Mid Year's Resolution to stop buying crap. I did this once before, back when I was desperate to get out from under my mountain of debt and let me tell you, it works. The very best way to not accrue debt is to stop buying stuff. Cold turkey!

So, from right now until December 31, 2008 I am not buying anything inessential AT ALL. There are two exceptions: 1) Presents for other people and 2) I already bought and paid for some office furniture back in April that has yet to arrive, so that doesn't count as new spending but will arrive sometime during the moratorium.

The rest is just the essentials, food and necessities and that's it. Simple. I'm going to do this for the rest of the calender year. After Jeepload Number Two, all my clutter and stuff and piles and bags and boxes -- it was overwhelming. I felt a little embarrassed, a little ashamed to still have so much extraneous stuff especially when I know I would feel better if I saved instead of spent. And that's when it clicked with me, finally, and I decided to drop out of consumerism entirely for the rest of the year. I'm just done with it.

And you know what? I am so excited! I am thrilled! Instead of seeing this as some lame punishment I am looking at this from a whole different perspective. I'm excited about all the things I'll have so much MORE of:

• MONEY! The number one way for me to save money and to have more money is to stop buying crap. Period.

• TIME! I don't have to shop for a new outfit for so-and-so, or spend three hours scrolling Zappos for shoes to match, I don't have to drive around looking for a bargain on whatever it was I thought I needed, and I don't have to special order, find it in my size, or feel bad because I can't fit into it.

• CONTENTMENT! Speaking of feeling bad about fitting into size whatever ... I won't have to feel that little nagging urge to shop to make myself feel better because I'm just not participating in that for the rest of the year. I'm out of the running. I won't be buying magazines either, so I won't be told what brand new thing I just HAVE to have to feel good.

• HAPPINESS! I won't have the weird, uneasy guilty undercurrent running beneath my shopping because I feel bad about spending money when the economy is so unstable and I should have more savings. I will have more savings because I'm not spending.

• GIVING! If you're not spending on yourself, and by that I mean "myself," I will have more money to give to the causes I support. It feels good to be able to have a little more set aside for giving.

• ENERGY! Since I won't have to move, dust, re-arrange, find places for or clean any new stuff, I'll have more time and energy on the weekends to see friends or read a book or knit with yarn I already own or just sit outside and ponder my bellybutton.

The next few months are going to be the culmination (I hope) of this three-year process I've been on to declutter my life and my home and make my days more manageable. It's surprising how little I really need materially, and this next few months will be a break for me, a break from consumerism. I'm really happy with my decision, it feels like relief. I don't want to have a heavy unmanageable life, I want something simple and happy. I don't want to shop anymore and buy stuff that will one day end up in a new pile on the front yard. I'm done.

So this is how it works best for me -- just groceries and essentials (for me that means toiletries and household maintenance stuff like sponges or Kleenex or whatever) and cat food and litter and of course the occasional cat toy, because this isn't Angela's Ashes over here. Cats are not clutter! But no new clothes, shoes, yarn, decorative household crap, DVDs, CDs, iTunes purchases (there is so much free good stuff out there!) (and I already have 27 gigs of music, shouldn't that be enough for a few months' time?), and no more books because Lord knows I have a huge pile of books already I haven't read. And in the meantime, if I see something I want that isn't an essential I'll just write it down in my little notebook that I carry in my purse. Put it on the "Stuff To Buy Later" list and if I still have a burning desire for it after December 31, I'll buy it. No big deal.

But you know what? Last time, when I did a three-month moratorium on buying crap, I went back and re-read my list and after three months there was only one item on it I still wanted -- a salad spinner. So I went to Target and paid my ten bucks for a salad spinner (and I use it more often than you'd think!) and that was it. Ten bucks. All that other stuff had just been impulse "I want it" items, stuff I saw on TV, or maybe something a friend bought so I wanted one, or just some pretty but useless thing I saw in a store. It's ridiculous when you think about it.

So that's my big Mid-Year Resolution. It's not a law or a punishment or some kind of self-imposed prison, it's freedom. It's just seven months out of my entire lifetime, and that's tiny compared to all my years of buying stuff. It's a break, a little period of breathing and re-grouping instead of spending. I plan to really re-evaluate what I already own, to actively have more appreciation for what I do have, appreciation for my time and my space instead of focusing on things I think I "need."

I'm really happy about it. It feels like a great way to start a change in my life, something positive and completely totally do-able. It's just seven months. I once spent seven months on a horrifying diet that featured cabbage soup and lentils as the main meals. Lord knows I can stop buying crap easier than ever eating cabbage soup again.

And anyway, milkshakes and smoothies still count as essentials. Especially smoothies with frozen peaches. They are just truly delicious!

Posted by laurie at 9:02 AM

May 21, 2008

Wednesday and that's it.

1) Blob
Bob found my post-it note highlighter pen, probably my most prized posession, and during the day while I was away earning money for his Meow Mix, he removed each little post-it flag. How do I know it was him? He still had four of them stuck to his body when I got home.

2) He must take after me -- as I am clearly a genius
Yesterday someone sent me a really great notice looking for freelance writers for a project that sounded right up my everloving comma splicing alley. Lord knows I don't sleep and could fill that time writing anonymously about Who Knows What. So I jotted off a quick note to them -- pick me! pick me! -- and later I saw that my email about a freelance writing gig contained a typo. I ROCK.

Maybe later I will volunteer as an alcohol counselor... can we hold sessions at a bar? No? Or perhaps I will send out my next book proposal on my Elvis bubblejet printer stationary. That would show people how COOL and PUBLISHY I am.

3) The copy machine ate my memo
One of the things I enjoy most about This Corporation is how awesome people are, they're generally very nice. I like all the people I work with, and that has never happened in all of history.

Yesterday one of my coworkers and I were chitchatting and she asked, "Do you need a flat iron to get your hair that straight?"

"No," I said. "It's just this dismal naturally."

"Oh, it's not bad," she said. What did I tell you? People here are nice! "It's just that, wow. Your hair is really straight," she said.

And I just knew she must be thinking what torture it was for me to try to be cute in the 1980s, what with my freakishly straight hair and all. So pre-emptively, I said, "Yeah, it was really hard in the hair days of the 80s!"

And she just looked at me, kind of blankly. Nary a gleam of Rave #4 recognition flickered in her pretty brown eyes.

Then I realized she was TOO FREAKING YOUNG to have known the big hair salad days of the 1980s.

I took a mental Geritol and walked away.


4) My new brother is cuter than all of us other kids combined

Tomorrow I have a dentist appointment that will last approximately 19 hours, none of them involving anesthesia or a tequila drip. I like my dentist but I do hate visiting him. So I will be off getting tortured and then later, recovering, and then later "Trying to get a life over the weekend."

In lieu of other exciting things I might post, such as the time I watched paint dry, I will instead leave you with images of the Cutest Thing Ever. In fact, I have already booked my ticket for a plane ride back to see my folks this summer, except I am going to need a much roomier carry-on bag because my little furry friend won't fit neatly inside my current handbag without my parents noticing I am dognapping. Of course I could always get out my giant black patent handbag, Lord knows he'd fit in there. It is roomy.

What I am saying to you here is that all other members of my family have just fallen way down on the list of People Who Matter because of this guy:

Chevis-2mos-1.jpg

Oh God. The Cuteness.

It makes me want a puppy so bad but I'm never home enough and the cats would be all mad about it and it's too hot in the Valley for a dog to stay out in my yard all day while I bask in the cool Arctic office air. SO I am living vicariously through my parents. They read all their Welsh Corgi books ahead of time and studied the dog training manuals and then practiced dog whispering or whatever, with a cocktail I assume, and so on until they were PREPARED for the interloper. And then they picked him up last Saturday and within about two and a half minutes this little five-pound rolypoly of a puppy was declared the pack leader and he now rules the entire family and they do his bidding and bring him fresh water when his bowl is getting tepid.

As it should be.

Chevis-2mos-2.jpg

And my parents did finally pick a name for him, he is called "Chivas" after the brand of Scotch they like. It's ... a Regal name. And people wonder where I get my drinking humor from!! APPLE: NOT FALLING FAR FROM TREE.

But right now I think they just call him "Awwwwyou'resodamncute!" He's the new favorite member of the family, and they have already declared he is the smartest dog that ever lived. They are very objective.

Have a great rest of the week. Watch for falling typos.

Chevis-2mos-3.jpg

Posted by laurie at 8:57 AM

May 20, 2008

Nothing to say turned into a few more paragraphs than I expected.

I just woke up wanting today to be a good day, a better day. It's not hot and for that me and my pores thank the Lord. One would think that overactive pores (also knows as "My face sweats.") would be the sign of perfect skin. One would think.

My parents are so cute, I'm going to visit this this summer. My face will sweat.

Yesterday my friend Dollie sent me some pictures from a college reunion they had recently and I got to see pictures of people I haven't seen in forever. There were pictures in there of faces I haven't thought of in over a decade, faces I kind-of remembered and some who I couldn't believe how much they'd stayed the same, or how much I used to enjoy their company. There was a photo of a girl -- well, a full-grown woman now -- who used to be my closest friend on the planet. And another picture of a guy I used to have a burning desperate crush on.

They were all older by me than a year or two and part of the Incredibly Cool Theatre Crowd. At the time I was a bowheaded sorority chick, or at least that's how most of them saw me. Or so I thought -- looking back I can't tell if I was excluded or just so self-conscious about never fitting in, which I just never have, somehow always living two steps to the left of where everyone else seems to be and it's only recently that I just accepted it and stopped even trying to fit in. Because who fits in, anyway, really? And what is there to fit into, except some jeans?

But back then I was just tangential to that group, the friend of the girl I mentioned so I tagged along from time to time. She was my best friend and we were roommates during her last year in college when I was still a sophomore and still trying to fit in anywhere, with someone. We used to have parties and her friends would come and a few of them were really nice to me which I always saw as a sign of their deeper kindness in general, since bubbly sorority chicks weren't really a great mixer to their college-life drink of choice. (Coincidentally, I didn't fare any better at frat parties, either, always wondering when people would see that I was a sham sorority girl, not committed on the inside, never able to remember where my pin was or when it was OK to wear it.) Later, after my roommate had graduated and her theatre crowd friends had all moved on to Chicago or Real Life, I stayed in school and went inactive in my sorority and made friends with a wide array of other don't-fit-ins, and I think I started to love college then, just as it was ending.

Peer groups are such strange things, aren't they? I think the age 19-through-30 is a really hard decade. You think you have to have all the answers, know who you are and where you're headed and WHO WITH and WHY and you chastise yourself, you have to be on track. Be grown. Have it all figured out. There's a kind of intensity and fatalism about the 20s, like your life is just spinning away from you and you better get it going right now!

I don't miss that feeling of being in my 20s at all. But it was so nice to see all her pictures and laugh and look back and remember that whole time. I miss Southerners. Don't get me wrong, I love Los Angeles and it's my city -- no other place I've been to has such a wide assortment of don't-fit-ins who also have given up on trying to fit in. But I do miss Southerners, who somehow never all the way forget you and have reunions and make family out of groups.

I was trying to explain to someone recently why I love Los Angeles so much. I think it's because this is such a hopeful city. You come here and you know deep inside that anything could happen. You could be living in a one-bedroom apartment in North Hollywood and barely making rent one week and the next week you have a sitcom. Or the waiter who's bringing you your Cobb salad with the dressing on the side could get his screenplay optioned tomorrow. Or you could be here from Jalisco or Zacatecas and two weeks in you found a job making more money then you did in a month back home. It's that kind of town. And that sort of expectant hopefulness pervades the whole city, even if you can't feel it all the time I still think it's there, propping up all our crazy dreams.

I like it here but I still miss other places. Always just two shades to the left of wherever.

Posted by laurie at 8:41 AM

May 19, 2008

Dear Book Expo, have you lost weight? You look great in those jeans!

Last year I got invited to my very first ever Book Expo America (people in the know call it "BEA" and I swear I went around for two months thinking they were saying something in French everytime I heard it, then I clued in) (Laurie: not a fast learner) anyway! Last year I was just a big ol' mess. I was scared and nervous and painfully afraid of public speaking and I had a flop-sweat problem. A very serious flop-sweat issue. I was assigned a media coach and I felt bad because I wasn't any better at speaking by the time I arrived in New York, I think I may have been even worse actually, and if you ever see me in person ask me to tell you the story of the time I left the stage and burst into tears and my microphone was still on. And the audio guy saw my spanx, but not in a good way. It is a hee-larious story, but only if I tell it in person because involves arm gesturing and dramatics. Also, nevermind, it's a painful story.

Anyway, last year I was terrified of everything, especially meeting selfhelpy-supastar Jack Canfield and spilling my drink on him and/or knocking over the entire booth on him. And my parents were there and I said the "F" word in front of them accidentally. Then I did it again FOUR TIMES. And one of the waiters in New York City made fun of me and called me Scarlett O'Hara and how come he didn't know HE WAS THE ONE WHO TALKED FUNNY. And we couldn't get a cab, ever, and I almost mugged a guy on the street for a cigarette (luckily my parents were there and how I managed that weekend without smoking is a miracle) and also I had a psychotic episode in the hotel and yelled at Faith. Really it is a true testament to our friendship that she still speaks to me.

HAVING SAID ALL OF THAT, it is that time of the year again. The Book Expo is coming. I am still a social nervouswreck but now I have medication. Thank you, Dr. Kurt! People on the book tour were like, "You're not nervous! You made it up!" and I said, "Had a nervous breakdown in New York, then got Beta Blockers." And people laughed like I would joke about chemistry. Weirdos.

This year I am less terrified about the book expo because I have realized so much about publishing in the past twelve months. For one thing, publishing is drunk most of the time and very self-involved and not paying any attention to me at all. It is a relief! Publishing is also crazy. You know all those ridiculous and completely nutty things that spring forth from my mouth with no filtering mechanism at all? The things that make me wonder if my day-job employer will develop a case of pink slip? Yes, well, these delightful verbal trip-ups may not go over with applause in the hallowed halls of finance but in publishing it just makes me another "author." Publishing does not care that I am ridiculous. Publishing INVENTED ridiculous.

And, best of all, this time the book expo is being held right here in my beloved Los Angeles!!!! It's on my turf, homey, so don't be telling me I talk funny or I'll drop you on the 405 without a Thomas Guide. Yo.

So I'm really excited about BEA (so in the know!) this year. I'm going to the cocktail parties and if I spill something on Peter Vegso I will blame it on someone else. Publishing likes blame. Also, I believe publishing enjoys conspiracy theories and that is exactly how I plan to explain the flop sweat.

Because you know, some things don't change overnight.

DETAILS!!!

Book Expo America:
May 30- June 1, at the Convention Center in Los Angeles

I will be signing books at the HCI booth and in the main autographing area, so if you are attending and you get a chance stop by and say hey. I will give you a free book and a ridiculous drunken publishing greeting!

Friday, May 30, 2008 at 2:30 p.m.
In-Booth signing at the HCI Booth #2947

Saturday, May 31, 2008 at 11:30 a.m.*
In-Booth signing at the HCI Booth #2947
* Ought to be delightful as all the cocktail parties are Friday night. Dear Convention Center, may I sleep on your floor?

SATURDAY, MAY 31, 2008 -- 3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
BEA GENERAL AUTOGRAPHING AREA
(I'm at Table # 15)

See you there, fellow crazies!


Posted by laurie at 8:33 AM

May 17, 2008

Saturday and final winner....

Congratulations from reader from Anne S. from Also I Do Not Know Where, as she has not responded yet to my email of winningness. Unless the name of her town is "@yahoo.com" which I kind of doubt. Next time I will maybe be more organized and pick winners the night before. Maybe.

But it's Saturday and hotter than heck already and I have to go get my errands done in the next little bit -- someone has no air conditioning in her vehicle, ahem -- so comments are closed because it's just too damn hot to comment. Really now!

Thanks to everyone who entered (this was fun!). I love giving stuff away so hopefully someone from some corporation out there who has stuff, like air-conditioned cars or yarn or George Clooney clones or what have you, will email me poste haste and tell me they have great stuff they are dying for me to raffle off.Heh!

Have a good weekend!

Posted by laurie at 8:33 AM

May 16, 2008

Friday: heat, transit, ends with a proposition

The bus is now crowded with new faces, and these days getting a parking space at the park 'n ride lot is just a fantasy after 7 a.m.

Honestly, I never really thought that rising gas prices would have much change on people's driving habits here in Los Angeles but I guess I was wrong. I've been a power user of the Los Angeles transit system for six (loooong) years, and in all that time I've never noticed gas price fluctuations having an impact on the amount of riders (or for that matter, ticket prices haven't really affected volume much, either.) But now with gas at $4+/gallon everywhere, you can see the bus lines all around downtown are longer and more people are on the metro, too. So our already tenuous web of mass transit is really strained to capacity.

All that commuting would make people more relaxed in another city, one with better transit options, but this is Los Angeles. I suspect I am not the only one daydreaming to make the time pass.
- - -

Yesterday I was on the bus ride home (I drove in on Wednesday, not yesterday, though it seemed that way because I write at night when I get home and often forget to update the tense, the hour of posting and the date for the actual day of posting, which people love pointing out to me. For the record, I am not an editor.)

Anyway, yesterday afternoon on the bus ride home I was listening to my headphones as the bus trundled along the five north, happy the end of the day was near, and then .... I could smell it. You know the smell if you've lived here long enough, a California brushfire has a unique smell all its own and even when you can't see the smoke yet you can often smell it. I saw other people on the bus looking up from their books or newspapers or mp3 players and looking for the telltale smoke rising somewhere in the hills.

I slid my headphones down to my neck so I could hear the chatter. One of the girls across the aisle from me caught my eye.

"It's a brush fire near Griffith Park," she said. "And there's another one in the Sepulveda Basin, but the one we're near right now is the Griffith fire."

I looked at her in awe for a moment and the guy behind me asked what she'd said so I reported it to him and then turned back in my seat.

"How did you know that?" I asked the girl across from me.

"It's on the news sites right now," she said. And by way of explanation she held up her hand with her iPhone in it.

"Oh!" I said. "An iPhone, cool!"

And this is where a normal human would end the conversation. I of course did not stop there.

"It's just like that time in Independence Day where Jeff Goldblum saves the world with a mac ... you know? When he goes to the alien ship and embeds a virus with his trusty mac...?"

She looked at me like I had sprouted another head and turned polka dotted.

I am the alien, apparently.

- - -

It's going to be hot this weekend:

may15-2008-weatherman.jpg

I love my Dapper Dallas Raines. Dallas, I'm free this weekend for margaritas poolside. Call me!

Have a good weekend!

Posted by laurie at 9:37 AM

Friday winner

Our Friday and next-to-last-day winner is Sue F. from I Do Not Know Where, as she has not answered her happy email yet. BUT! Happy Friday and happy winning!!!!!

P.S. Check your email.

P.P.S. You still have one last chance to win! Read about the sweepstakes if you haven't already, and enter to win right here. All previous entries are valid for the final draw!

Posted by laurie at 9:32 AM

May 15, 2008

Vacations I would enjoy

I had to drive into work because of forces not of my own making. I like to amuse myself while in traffic by daydreaming about vacation.

My very favorite thing to do (aside from rolling around naked in money, which I have not yet done but sincerely hope I am one day able to do on a regular basis) is daydream. I daydream a lot. I do it in my car, on the bus, before falling asleep at night, in the shower, and pretty much everytime I am not required to be present and focusing on a task at hand. I know we are supposed to live in the NOW and be PRESENT and all that stuff, but some things in my own life are not really divine and delightful and soul-enriching, such as dentist visits and traffic. Daydreaming is like a little vacation for the mind.

Perhaps I am more like Walter Mitty than I care to admit. On Saturday night a few weeks ago, Faith and I were at the bookstore/coffee shop and I was thinking about my Mittyesque moments so I asked Faith if she knew that Kafka used to work at an insurance agency. We were in the middle of talking about a trip to Palm Springs so I'm not sure the question made sense... to her.

"I am like Kafka," I said. "Except without the talent. And it's a bank not insurance. Tomato, tomahtoe. But I might still turn into a cockroach one day."

Surprisingly, making weird bug-related comments is not the strangest thing about me. That same night I brought my own little tiny tupperware container of heavy cream to the coffee shop because they only have whole or skim milk there and half-and-half but no heavy cream. And if I am paying two bucks for a lousy cup of coffee I want it to have the creamy goodness.

Faith just laughed good-naturedly at my Tupperware. She kindly ignored my Kafka cockroach soliloquy.

ANYWAY. Daydreaming about vacation is my favorite, I love to imagine vacations of the future and what I may be wearing in these vacations, which is always something fabulous and I am always thinner in my mind, and also probably taller. And I must have had laser hair removal or something in my daydreams because I'm never covering unsightly stubble with long pants in hot weather as I am known to do in real life.

My top five favorite daydream destinations:

1) Spain. I think the next trip I take will be to Spain because I have thoroughly enjoyed every past visit to Spain (I once spent three days in San Sebastian once, just remarking at how much one can eat and drink on vacation and just feel BETTER instead of worse.) I love the people and the language and the food and since I was never single at the time of past travel experiences to Spain, I never had the opportunity to make some amigos.

2) Croatia. In this fantasy not only am I the aforementioned "skinnier" and "taller" but I am also a delicious buttery tan all over and I drink cocktails with fruit floating on top. (On top of the cocktail, not me.) (Although on vacation I might just try that one day.)

3) Surfing the coast of Peru. In my fantasies, I am not just the skinny, taller, tanner version of me but also am practically out-Gidgeting Gidget with my rogue surfing skills. Hang ten, dude.

4) Greenland. I am probably still skinnier and taller and tanner but none of it is troublesome as I am covered up under layers of fabulous handknits.

5) Maui. There's an actual real possibility that this place will move from fantasy to reality but again in the daydream I am skinnier, taller, tanner and suddenly look good in floral prints. There is probably a greater possibility that I will indeed sprout and grow taller than the chance of me ever looking good in something floral. It clashes with my personality.

But Lord I love to daydream. Especially when someone stinky is too near on the bus and you're stuck in traffic and you do the math and realize that by the time you get home you will need to turn around and head back to work in just a few mere hours. It's also good to have a little daydream in your pocket for the long wait at the DMV. Or when you're in the dentist's chair. (Although what really helps when you in the dentist's chair comes with a prescription.) I've been to the dentist four times this year already. Not once have I had a prescription... but the daydreams help a lot.

The best thing about daydreaming vacation is that it's totally free and you can do it even while in the shower. How's that for multi-tasking?

I was in traffic and daydreaming this morning when I saw this:

may08-traffic-microwave.jpg

You can't tell from the picture because I was shooting into the sun (and driving for hours into the sun which is REALLY AWESOME) but the truck in front of me has the tailgate down and inside the truck's bed are all sorts of goodies that are not tied down ... including one big ol' microwave oven. Untethered. On a truck with no tailgate to hold it in... ON THE FREEWAY.

Our freeways are a series of stops and very jagged stops, so I can't imagine that microwave made it to its intended destination, unless said destination was "roadkill." People wonder why the freeways of Southern California are always littered with sofas, ladders and houses. People maybe need therapy in this town.

I took the photo then expediently changed lanes. And got right back to daydreaming.

Posted by laurie at 9:10 AM

Thursday winner!

CONGRATULATIONS Justin from Pennsylvania! You are officially the first guy to win anything on this website, I hope that makes your mama proud. It makes me proud :) Also, I happen to know (because I snoop on ya'lls links) that he is a Virgo, and Virgos love Envirosax.

That is my story and I am sticking to it. CONGRATS!!!

- - -
Also, new winner tomorrow! Read about the sweepstakes if you haven't already, and enter to win right here.

Posted by laurie at 8:38 AM

May 14, 2008

Thursday winner and other things.

Also, in the latest round of squash comments, I saw this from reader Linda:

Your comment about how every year you try to grow watermelon reminded me of my Mom who passed away this year. Every year she would try to grow tomatoes. Now, she lived in Daly City which is also known as foggy city and we only have five hot days per year. Most years she just grew green plants, but every once in a while she would get a tomato that would get past the green marble stage. So this year, I will continue on her great quest to grow a tomato.

Linda, I loved what you wrote. I think the reason I plant anything (I hate to break ya'lls little rhearts and tell you I don't even LIKE zucchini, but I don't really) but anyway, I am pretty sure the reason I plant things every year is just out of hope, and because my dad always had a garden.

Makes me miss my folks a little less.

Posted by laurie at 11:50 AM

Wednesday Winner!

Congrats to Lucia in Boston -- you know I believe Lucia has been reading this here website since 2004 and never won a single thing and I am so happy to say, YOU WON! Also, go buy a lotto ticket tonight, lady. You're on a winning streak :)

ALSO -- did ya'll know Lucia has FREE knitting patterns on the innernets? Go see!

That is about all I can write today because OH MY GOD. Work is hard. Apparently I can not just sit here and daydream about Zappos all day while multitasking with coffee-drinking, I have to get proverbial butt in non-metaphorical high gear. Sad, I tell you what.

But yay Lucia! Also, new winner tomorrow! Read about the sweepstakes if you haven't already, and enter to win right here.

If you have already entered your name is still good to go for the next drawing. Except Suzi, who already won. And Lucia. And Zappos.

Posted by laurie at 11:38 AM

May 13, 2008

Perhaps I am poor at time management or the commute is the issue or it's because I have an unfinished list of to-do's as long as ... something very long... but truly I don't know where people get the time to do all this fancy cooking and baking and "here go out and harvest zucchini flowers then wash them and dry them carefully then make a batter and fill them and batter them and deep-fry them and after that grate some zucchini and make a whole loaf of something and also, it should be edible! Serve it with homemade something else fancy!"

My usual dinner consists of some re-heated thing I made on Sunday night. If it weren't for Sunday nights I wouldn't have anything to eat all week, except take-out or frozen crap and I really think that's bad for both the budget and the butt-size.

I like my Sundays, though, even if they aren't the maniacal June Cleaver thing it seems is happening with other women. I'm more of a kitchen visitor than a resident. During the week I have about 12 minutes of free time and I do not spend it in the kitchen making... whatever it is kitcheny people make. But on the weekends I go to the grocery store and come home and wash veggies and chop and so on, by "veggies" I usually mean a cucumber and some cauliflower, and I make my lunches up for the week and it's all pretty boring. Except on Sundays I experiment with one new dish. Last week I made a crockpot chicken curry from (book) that was pretty good, I ended up adding more curry powder later and hot sauce because I thought it was a little bland, but it was still good.

Posted by laurie at 12:49 PM

Nature has a sense of humor.

Is zucchini a weed? In the past I have only had this level of gardening success with weeds -- I have grown weeds that would make you cry with joy (or pain.) But I have never successfully grown many useful things -- case in point: all of my watermelon plants have died. AGAIN.

You may be wondering how they could die AGAIN, but this is just another year in the long sad cycle of me and dead watermelon seedlings. I try every year and still they die. Every year.

Look how dead they are, there is not even a sign that something green used to be planted here:

watermelon-dead1.jpg

watermelon-dead2.jpg
Obviously... I am growing dirt.

So I had two big empty patches of dirt where the watermelon plants were supposed to be happily growing and waiting for their squareness to begin. But no luck. I decided to go out back to the Back 40 and look at my raised bed garden to see how the one lone zucchini outrider -- that I did not plant -- and my two pumpkin plants were faring. I expected the zuke to be alive and the pumpkins to be dead.

The good news: The pumpkin vines are still hanging on! The bad news: There are five more seedlings just sprouting from the barren ground and they are suspiciously zucchini-like. One can safely assume that nature thinks this is hilariously funny and wants me to be afraid of my backyard.

zuke-magic-seedlingsMay08.jpg


Just to recap:

1) Sometime last fall the gardeners got tired of looking at the scary huge-ass zucchini plants that were taking over the back backyard and while I was away they cleaned the whole thing out including about two inches of my organic dirt.

2) There was nothing in the raised bed garden all winter.

3) Just dirt and probably bug poop.

4) Then one day I noticed a green thing growing in there. It was a zucchini plant.

5) I did not plant this zucchini. I did not plant any zucchini seeds. I did not water, fertilize or even look at the back backyard.

6) Now there are MORE mystery seedings!! Popping up from the dustbowl of barrenness and despair!!

I am a little afraid, because I have never in my life had wild zucchini sprouting up here and there, it is not normal for plantlike things to flourish in my presence. I have already lost a thyme plant and a whole marjoram that was eaten in one night by a fat neon green worm. Later I thought it was kind of sad that I don't live in a worm-eating culture because he was probably really tasty, having been seasoned from the inside out with pure organic marjoram.

ANYWAY, this coming weekend I will move the two zucchini seedlings (or at least I suspect that is what they are, they could be body-snatching plants WHO KNOWS, time will tell) into the watermelon patch on the sunny side of the yard and another seedling over to the shadier side of the yard. What I am saying here is that I am going to have a houseful of zucchini again, I have just resigned myself to the idea that I will have to learn how to cook. Or better yet, I should learn how to make biodiesel out of squash and then learn how to single-handedly convert my Jeep to run off zukediesel insted of gas and then I could have a neverending zuke-based economy!!! Or, you know, I could learn to cook.

OR, maybe they make good wine!! That would be a self-sustaining economy right there. Zucchini wine!!!


zukeformationMay2008.jpg

Posted by laurie at 11:14 AM

Tuesday winner!

Congratulations to Suzi in Fullerton, your package is in the mail ... tomorrow because I totally forgot to bring a book in today. I need an assistant! Named Julio, who is 18 and very tan....

New winner tomorrow! Read about the sweepstakes if you haven't already, and enter to win right here.

If you have already entered your name is still good to go for the next drawing. Except Suzi, who already won. And Julio.

Posted by laurie at 10:53 AM

May 12, 2008

Put that in your bag and smoke it!

The cool people at Envirosax contacted me a few weeks ago (just after I extolled their mighty nylon virtues right here in a fit of earth-friendly happiness) and they offered to provide me with five sets of rockstar Envirosax to give away to my readers. Each set contains five bags from the Green Grocer collection:

envirosax-greengrocer-bags.gif

And it was smart of them to offer up the Green Grocer bags, they're colorful but not printed with a pattern so that if you aren't a floral fan or mad about mod, you're still winning a great bag. The only nit is that the handy carrying cases for the set are backordered so the winners of this here sweepstakes will be carrycase-less. But still, winners will be five Envirosax richer!

So go over and enter the give-away today at crazyauntpurl.com/sweepstakes. There will be five winners and each winner will get a set of five cool Envirosax plus a signed copy of my book just because. The book has nothing to do with Envirosax but I like to give, and I only have three cats so ... books it is!

The rules are pretty simple:
• You get one entry per email address (the duplicates will be filtered out.)

• Any person from anywhere on planet earth is eligible to win.

• I will draw one winner at random starting tomorrow morning and do so for five days (math challenged? that means the final winner will be announced on Saturday morning.)

• All email entries from any day of the week are eligible for each drawing, meaning that if you enter today you will be eligible for all five drawings!

• As usual, I never re-purpose, re-sell or re-distribute your email address. I have enough issues with spam, I certainly wouldn't spam you!

So that's the big Monday goings on here at Chez Bagpipes, and each day this week I will draw a new winner's name from the pile and announce it here in between the normal goings on which tomorrow involve zucchini. Or at least I think they're zucchini. God only knows what is happening in my yard.

- - - -

Go enter to win! >>>

Posted by laurie at 8:43 AM

May 9, 2008

When Soba runs for office...

... this will be her campaign poster:

soba-ruler.jpg

Republicat or Democat? No.... definitely Dictatorcat!

(I did not even know she had a black Dictator's Scarf. Who knew!)

- - -

Have a great and furry weekend! ("I am Sobakowa and I approve this message.")

Posted by laurie at 8:22 AM

May 8, 2008

If Frankie were a professional actress....

... this would be her "wide-eyed starlet" headshot:

frankie-headshot.jpg

Posted by laurie at 8:31 AM

May 7, 2008

If Bob had a driver's license...

... this would be his DMV mugshot:

bob-mugshot.jpg
Dude, I'm like... all serious and stuff.

Posted by laurie at 8:26 AM

May 6, 2008

Terribly ill-advised things I have done so far this month and it is only May 8th

1) Overnight express mailed a package of chocolates to my parents to an address that does not actually receive mail.

2) Purchased three pairs of shoes online in a fit of ennui and realized later that buying three pairs of shoes does not actually relieve budgetary inflation and may in fact have the opposite effect.

3) Accidentally cried at work. Nothing says, "I am a professional adult" more than crying at work. Spent the rest of the day hiding in my office feeling like a GIRL.

4) Substituted two tablespoons of Gulden's spicy brown mustard in a recipe that called for two teaspoons of dijon mustard. The dish ended up tasting like hot potato salad. BAD hot potato salad.

5) Locked my keys in my Jeep. Twice.

6) Broke into my own car to retrieve my keys. Twice.

7) Told my boss that the large Zappos box being delivered to my office was NOT shoes, it was in fact a research project evaluating Ecommerce websites and customer service for my ongoing Client Service Experience data project.

8) Interrupted my publicist during a phone call to ask if ***** is still married. He is.

9) Met a friend at a coffee shop wherein I produced from the depths of my handbag a small tupperware container of heavy cream. "They only serve half and half or skim milk here," I told her by way of explanation. "I need the creamy goodness when I am paying three bucks for a cup of coffee."

Posted by laurie at 8:58 AM

The buck of the collective state of insanity stops... there. Way over there.

I don't want to generalize or anything, because generalizing is wrong (yet so convenient!), but it seems like every human being on the planet is cranky and combative these days. I am rounding up of course, since I have not met every human.

Perhaps it's a widespread low-level depression, or a collective free-floating anxiety. Maybe it is a combination of financial stresses from an economy that is currently at a terror threat level of "Industrial Concrete Grey" -- that is the color they paint the inside of debtor's prison. People at the gas stations all across America are mad, people at gas stations in other countries are mad at Americans for being mad, and people in grocery stores everywhere are downright pissy.

This is because stuff is expensive. I am not so good at math, but I estimate everything at the store to be one gazillion times more expensive than this time last year. Give or take ten dollars.

Or maybe people are overwhelmed from the constant blaring news headlines yelling at us emphatically about how something new is going to kill you, maim you or rob you blind... tune in at ten for more details. (I always want to know... if something is THAT important, shouldn't you tell me now instead of making me tune in at ten p.m.? What if I get killed, maimed or robbed blind between now and ten? Where is your commitment to my well-being?)

People also seem poised to argue any point at any time no matter if that point has any bearing on anything at all. It is kind of like being in high school debate class when you got SO MAD about that thing that time ... and you can't really remember what it was but you were still SO RIGHT. For example, if you say, "Hey I saw a cute movie pre-teen girls might like..." people say, "You're an jerk who is perpetuating stereotypes about the differences between boys and girls!" If you say, "What can I use in this smoothie besides a banana?" someone writes you an email demanding to know what you have against nature's finest fruit. "How dare you malign the poor banana? People in other countries DIE to produce your banana!" And you are left to wonder A) when bananas became so dangerous and B) who has time to sit around scolding strangers about their smoothie contents.

What I am saying here is that everyone is batshit crazy right now and I believe it is global. It cannot possibly be limited to Encino-Adjacent and one block of downtown Los Angeles.

In full disclosure and with a nod to the observer effect on scientific research, I admit that I myself am not immune from the global beserkedness. No, I truly do believe that much like charity, true crazy starts at home. Case in point: last week I passively aggressively confronted the Coffee Pot Bandit. I saw him leave the coffee pot at work dry TWO DAYS IN A ROW and I lost my damn mind. Over a coffee pot. First (on Day One) I just stood in shock that he drained the coffee pot before my very eyes and sauntered off with nary a nod to a coffee filter. When I returned to my senses, I did the only thing I could -- I made faces at his retreating back as I held my empty coffee cup of rage. Later I tried to get my Deepak on and lower my blood pressure by imagining that Coffee Pot Bandit was actually working on a proposal to cure cancer so I cut him some slack and made a fresh pot of coffee and called it a day. Breathe in, breathe out, etc. But then when he repeated his performance the following day, I remembered OH YEAH, I WORK AT A BANK so he was totally NOT CURING CANCER! Then I was mad and confrontational! Later I told a joke about cameltoe. No one laughed. My whole day was just not right.

I would also like to mention I outweigh Coffee Pot Bandit by about forty pounds and he better not meet me in a dark alley. NOT THAT I AM HOLDING A GRUDGE OR ANYTHING.

It just seems like any old thing will set someone off these days ... even though coffee, in my defense, is more expensive per gallon than premium unleaded. (Or at least I think it is, it was a few days ago when I was formulating this hypothesis ... I haven't filled up my Jeep today and I could be wrong.) In just the past week I have seen a man on the bus yell at a woman for talking on her phone, I have witnessed two people get in a fight over a parking space at a grocery store, and I have seen a crazy person confront a poor unsuspecting coworker about leaving the coffee pot dry.

In my scientific reasoning brain, the one I use for making up statistics and also fooling people into thinking I am smart, I have surmised from my serious research of the topic that 97.3% of the population of Earth is collectively disgruntled and we need a vacation.

That is pretty much the end of my research. Because as you know, it's really expensive to fly anywhere or drive anywhere and people are really irritable when they travel. I am thinking a vacation alone in the bathtub might be nice.

I do not know what the solution is... prozac dispensers in the hallways? Rum in the water supply? Gnomes who turn into male dancers named Fox? I do not know, I don't posit solutions I merely observe for science. But we should all agree right now to leave the coffee pot full at all times because until they invent a hybrid version of me that runs on part electric, part caffeine I really need at least that particular cup to runneth over.

Finally, in conclusion, ad nauseum, ipsum lorem dolar, I am certain there are people who will argue this hypothesis of mine. They will say, "But you're wrong! I'm not cranky or argumentative! I'm great! I feel happy and joyful!" and there is an explanation for this anomaly: these people are aliens. Because science doesn't lie.

Also if you know about any gnomes that turn into hot male dancers named Fox... do not hesitate to share this data with me. I will research the matter and report back to you. In the name of science.

Posted by laurie at 8:09 AM

May 5, 2008

Yes we have no bananas today

While I do enjoy my berry good smoothies regularly, sometimes I don't want to add a banana. I may not have a banana, for example. Or I may have them but they're really really ripe ... compost ripe if you know what I mean and I think you do.

But if you still want the creamy goodness that a banana provides and you either don't like bananas or don't have one on hand, what do you add instead to get the smoothie smooth?

Ideas? Suggestions?

Posted by laurie at 9:37 AM

May 2, 2008

Kid stuff

If you have kids -- especially girl kids -- I cannot imagine how hard it would be to find appropriate movies and TV shows to watch with them. Especially for the tween-age girls. So I am about to admit to how much of a dork I truly am while doing so under the guise of being helpful to moms who have daughters.

You see, I don't do your Netflix or your DVD-watching or general admission movie watching pretty much ever, except on the rare occasion that I need to see a gem like say The Bodyguard, and when urges such as that come over me they are all-consuming I have to see said movie rightnowrightnowRIGHTNOW. But in general I don't have a lot of free time for moviewatching. I think the last time I sat my butt in a real movie theater was when the last Bourne movie came out and before that it was... uh? Probably the Bourne movie before it. I love me some Jason Bourne.

But sometimes I get a window of opportunity and a sleepless night and they collide when the planets align and the stars get twinkly and for that brief interlude I am forever grateful to the human who invented Movies On Demand. I am certain this clever person was an insomniac herself, and she spent many a sleepless night wanting to get wrapped up in some relatively-new-release movie and yet it was 3:25 a.m. and all the stores were closed and like some people we know, mail order is TOO DAMN SLOW to fulfill the one magical window of opportunity.

Movies On Demand is pretty much the best insomniac invention since the Tivo. Or with the Tivo. Tomato, tomahto. While I am trying valiantly to cut back on my TV viewing (and I have) there are still times when it's 3 a.m. and you can't sleep and none of the books on the nightstand seem appealing and your neighborhood is too ghetto to go out and go for a walk or anything productive and you really just want to watch a movie and forget you have to be at work in three and a half hours.

You know?

With Movies On Demand you just scroll through whatever your cable company has on tap (mine has bazillions of movie titles and TV shows and all kinds of stuff) and with a press of the B button (for BUY! Buy!) you get your selection right then and there, delivered to your teevee through the modern marvel of technology. No gas was harmed in the delivery of your movie! The fee shows up as an additional charge on your cable bill and it's usually between $1.99 and $3.99 for a movie.

And that is how I managed to see "Waitress" (cute) and "Michael Clayton" (very good, love you George!) and that is how I found myself one night not too long ago watching a tween movie called "Sydney White."

Sydney White is a modern Snow White re-telling, with that frothy cute Amanda Bynes as Sydney White who goes to college to pledge her dead mom's sorority (I'm surprised it wasn't a Disney film ... there's always a dead mom in the story somewhere!) and the sorority girls are meanies and Sydney is banished and ends up in a house with Seven Dorks. And it's actually (and surprisingly) a really charming and cute movie and even I wouldn't be afraid to show it to a kid-sized girl, and I am notoriously fickle about what I think kids should be allowed to watch on the magic screen. (Have you heard of that book, "I was the perfect mother until I had kids"? That's me in a nutshell. Yup.) But it's a cute movie, so even though I'm unmasking myself as the lamest old lady on the block it's for a good cause. So you can thank me when you have one pretty good movie to watch with your twelve-year-old.

That's right, thank the middle-aged insomniac with three cats. There's nothing weird at all about that.

Posted by laurie at 4:17 AM

May 1, 2008

May Day

May 1st has many meanings. For one thing, it is my mom's birthday, and she is fabulous and I am a horrible child who waits until the last minute to send anything and everything, and thus her gift should be arriving in the mail... shortly.

But hello and Happy Birthday!

Also May 1st in Los Angeles is very exciting because people who apparently do not do such things as "develop secretary spread in stale office air" such as myself take to the streets in the middle of the day and swarm the city with chaos and then people throw coke bottles at the police and then the police shoots them. I have never really understood the whole May Day Melee thing but then again I do not understand quantum physics and still I say things like "entanglement" on a regular basis.

People will hold placards and some will have bullhorns and there will be more sirens than usual and downtown will be a mess. Or not! Because you never know, people might just go get a plate of hotwings and a pitcher and call it a day. The buses may or may not run, the city may or may not perish, and either way... it's still May.

How on earth did we get to May so soon?

Posted by laurie at 8:36 AM