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May 28, 2010

My next book may be written entirely from personalized license plates on the 101 Freeway

Can you believe it is already Memorial Day Weekend, 2010? In honor of all the people who will be on the road this weekend, I present to you a few personalized plates from all the people on the 101 that I shared traffic with this week:

bumper-1gr8laugh.jpg
I love a great laugh! Not sure about Lafs, though.


bumper-alsfurn.jpg
I had no idea there were APOSTROPHES in license plates.
Crazypants Al and his Furn.


bumper-heart-abs.jpg
Yeah, well I have abs, too. They're just well concealed.

bumper-hoagie.jpg
I would say if I had to pick someone to be friends with it would be the person driving this car. Which may explain my well-padded abs.

bumper-syntist.jpg
Scientist? Scientologist? You decide.

bumper-tojiero.jpg
I drove behind this person for over forty minutes. Yo quiero? Toe J. Hero? What does this mean? Why do you not have an explanation printed on your bumper? I had to change lanes finally. It was making me crazy.

bumper-ubeyou.jpg


U B having a good Memorial Day weekend!

Posted by laurie at 6:58 AM

May 27, 2010

Thankyouthankyou

For the times you took out of your day to comment or email, I thank you.

For just reading or checking in, thank you.

For laughing at my dumbaii jokes... THANK YOU!

There have been times, especially in the past six weeks, when you have made me laugh and given me things to research and think about and it has been a Godsend. It kept me breathing.

I don't get to thank you often enough. So thank you.
Also, you've lost weight and I love what you did with your hair.

Posted by laurie at 12:52 AM

May 26, 2010

Idol sightings

Yesterday Corey and I were having lunch on the patio at the Standard when I interrupted our conversation to say, "Holy crap! That's Andrew Garcia checking in!" and a few minutes later ... "There's that girl whose name I don't remember! Another American Idol." I guess the cast and top 10 are staying at the Standard during the two night finale at L.A. Live.

After lunch Corey wanted to go to an ATM so we walked up Flower and as we crossed 7th Street there was Siobhan Magnus bigger than life with her two little sisters, it looked like they'd been shopping at the mall. I had no cell phone and no camera with me. Of course. Or I could have played paparazzi while Corey tried to run away fast. But still, those are some pretty good rising star sightings for a lunch break!

So who will it be tonight, Lee or Crystal? I'm voting Crystal all the way but I still want to be the filling in a Lee and Casey James sandwich.

Posted by laurie at 7:40 AM

May 25, 2010

Circular needles, cat help and gloves and questions, oh my.

First a question from a reader... then I have a question for you!

Please share your tips on knitting hats and circular needles. I just made my first hat and stumbled through but could use some common sense tips!

--Jessica

Hi Jessica! I love knitting on circular needles, and even though I have been knitting for several years now I still get excited about the magical way you can create perfect stockinette just knitting the knit stitch in the round. I love it and I hope I can spread that love to you like bronchitis, or innernet crabs. Once you catch it you're a goner. Hats are some of my favorite projects because they're fast and round. And on Saturday I met a lovely woman named Judy who had made not one but two of my knitted cat tunnel patterns!! It is the ultimate knitting-in-the-round gigantaproject. I would try to explain the zen surrender to stockinette to non-knitters and they would glaze over in pain.

The trickiest part about getting used to circular needles seems to be casting on and joining the circle. I wrote a post a long while about about knitting in the round (you can read it here.) I hope it helps. And in full disclosure I will tell you I often cast on in the round and mess up and have to undo it and cast on again. No one has arrested me yet for bad beginnings to good hats!

My newest project is done in the round but not on circulars, it's knitting on teetiny little double-pointed needles like toothpicks. SKEERY. I cast on four times before I got it all joined and untwisted and so on. I am making my very first pair of hand-knit-to-size gloves and I'm using the build-your-own-pattern method from The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes & Gauges (a million thanks to every reader who recommended this book to me, I love it.) Also I feel so advanced using such a complicated-looking pattern! Even though it isn't really complicated it still took me about an hour to cast on and join properly and even then I didn't knit the first round in knit-1-purl-1 ribbing because I was so happy to have finally joined these tiny stitches that I knit a round plain. But I don't think you can tell, and I'll just do the same on the next glove.

gloves-beginning.jpg

gloves-pattern-book.jpg

At the rate I am knitting these I will have a pair of completed gloves in 2019. Hope it's cold that winter.

First I started with a swatch. I cast on 50 stitches are started knitting in stockinette on straight needles (I'm using a size 3 because it alleviates my SupaTight™ Knitting if I go up a needle size or two.) I knit for a few inches, then cast off. I should have knit the edges in garter so it didn't roll as much but I didn't, so there you have it. After pinning it carefully down I measured to see how many stitches to the inch I was getting:

gloves-swatch1.jpg


gloves-swatch2.jpg

Seven stitches to the inch. I also measured the width of my swatch to double check and I got just around seven inches of fabric which is right on with casting on 50 stitches (7 stitches to the inch x 7 inches = 49 stitches.)

I had a lot of help measuring:

gloves-swatch3.jpg

Bob inspects my mathyness.

The yarn is so beautiful, it's Noro Kureyon sock yarn. I've never knit with yarn this tiny, it has a slight thick/thin thing happening and in some places it's as thin as sewing thread! I know some of you sock knitters are all about the tiny thread-yarn but it's taking me a while to get used to it. I have fat hands. That's my story and I am sticking with it.

I do have a question though:

When the pattern says, "Increase gusset stitches in this manner every 3 rounds..." do you knit two rounds then increase on the third round?

Or do you knit three rounds and increase on the next round?

I have been doing it the latter way, knitting three rounds then increasing, then knitting three more. There's no place in the pattern where it tells you how many rounds/rows you knit all total (it just gives total stitch counts in places.) I'll admit right now that even if I am wrong I am not ripping it out ... these are some teetiny little stitches! But I wanted to ask what you think the pattern means so that in the future I do it correctly. If there is a future, what with the tinyness and all.

But for all my trepidation at making a project on something smaller than a size 11 needle, I've made a little progress. Now I'm at the thumb gusset. The Manager Of Glove Readiness is still overseeing the project:

glove-helper-bob.jpg

So much help. So few thumbs. Less need for gussets is my guess.

Posted by laurie at 7:10 AM

May 24, 2010

Good morning!

There's nothing quite like waking on a Monday morning to the sound of multiple helicopters hovering over your rooftop. But more on that later.

First! What a great day on Saturday. The San Juan Capistrano library is really pretty and the whole town is so charming. They even have a little reflecting pool at the library in a lovely courtyard:

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They made a special parking space just for The Red Jeep:
may22-jeep-parking.jpg

Here are Lori and Ada, two ladies who invited me down to speak:
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Lori introducing me and also showing the knitted pieces she'd made from patterns I've posted (which was very exciting for me, I never think anyone ever makes this stuff!)
may22LoriSpeaking.jpg

I was a little nervous so some of my crowd shots were a bit shaky, I only got one clear pic of half the room:
may22crowd.jpg

Some folks who visited with me:

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Dee brought her dad!

may22fun.jpg
I met this gal once before, in Mission Viejo. Nice to see you again!

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Sisters! One came all the way from Sacramento!!

It was a really lovely day and there were even refreshments-- delicious cookies and fresh coffee and iced tea. I loved meeting everyone. Oh, one of the ladies asked to see a picture of my finished socks, so here is a picture for Linda:

socks

That is the one and only time they have been on my feet. I took the picture of my be-socked feet, took the socks off, carefully folded them and put them away in a drawer lest I ruin them by wearing them. Yup. Linda was also concerned about how fast I talk and my general lack of public speaking aptitude and suggested I do Toastmasters, which she said had helped her tremendously. On the loooong drive home I thought about her comments for a good stretch of the 5 freeway, and while I appreciated the feedback I have finally had a Come To Jesus moment ... I have decided it's OK not to be great at everything. What a relief!

It was a revelation. One does not have to be great at all things! You don't even have to be good at all things. Or competent. For example, I will never rock at synchronized swimming, or tennis, or calculus. I know with absolute clarity I will never be great at submarine driving or performing heart surgery or playing the clarinet. And I will never be smooth at public speaking. I will talk too fast and shake and sound twangy and sweat a lot and overshare. The fact that I no longer barf after each event and the very notion that I leave my house and do something that terrifies me is fine enough progress for me. I'll take it.

I am sure Toastmasters is great for so many people but I have made the executive decision to be happy with being less than mediocre at talking in public. And instead of focusing more energy on something I don't love, I would rather put all that time and energy into becoming better at stuff I truly enjoy like writing and knitting and learning to cook and gardening and cat herding. I never wanted to be a public speaker and I know I'm goofy which is why I appreciate all the more every person who comes to these events and doesn't expect anything other than just a silly, sweaty fun time. Tony Robbins I am not. I can make coffee nervous.

So that was Saturday. It was fun to meet you all! I loved seeing what everyone was knitting and the coffee was delicious and the KnitLits and Knitsters were a pure delight to meet. Connie, thank you for the tea, I already made a cup yesterday morning and it was delicious. OH-- and I met a friend of Ellen Bloom's! Adding more fuel to my theory that Ellen is the Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon of the yarn world. And Lori gave me a guided tour of the library which is beautiful and peaceful. Plus I got the opportunity to decide for myself that I am OK with being not great at something. And there were cookies. A very good day.

- - -

This morning I woke to the sounds of multiple helicopters hovering over my rooftop. As I lay there in the bed I pondered the possibilities:

1) Overnight tsunami made the new shoreline of Southern California somewhere around Ventura Blvd.
2) Lindsey Lohan passed out in car outside Valley sushi restaurant
3) Hostage situation near the Marc Jacobs bags in Bloomies
4) Alien Invasion
5) Traffic

I turned on the TV and discovered it was not aliens but was instead traffic. The 101 Freeway is totally shut down westbound in Sherman Oaks.

may2410traffictv.jpg

High speed chase, crash, officer-involved shooting, helicopters. Hello, Monday!

Posted by laurie at 6:42 AM

May 21, 2010

Mañana

frankie-under-capiz.jpg
Der Frankieschnitzel, the decoration of the family. In the light from the capiz lamps she looks partially pink.


Yesterday Reader Kate wrote:

If I'm not a knitter... will it be awkward at your book reading on Saturday? I have no patience for it myself - although I enjoy the results from my mom & others. I just didn't know how the whole knitting section usually goes and I didn't want to feel awkward or un-cool with the group.

No knitting needed or required! In fact, most people will not have yarny delights on hand, so I always add in that it's OK to bring them since it's usually the other way around, with people feeling awkward to whip out a knitted work in progress in a bookstore or library.

Perhaps awkwardness, or the fear of being awkward, is the real human condition?

Hmmmm, too much to ponder so early!

See you tomorrow!

May 22 at 2 p.m.
San Juan Capistrano Regional Library
31495 El Camino Real
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
[ MAP ]

Posted by laurie at 6:51 AM

May 19, 2010

See you on Saturday!

bob-helps-me-write.jpg
Bob helps me write.

I really hope you can make it Saturday, it will be fun!

May 22 at 2 p.m. San Juan Capistrano Regional Library 31495 El Camino Real San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

We're going to have a great day in a beautiful city! I'll read a bit from the book or some other who knows what, and then you can ask any old question you want and I'll answer and blather onward and upward and will sign books. Oh, and bring your knitting! I'll bring mine. It's now two centimeters long and will be completed in 2019.

Yesterday I got an email from the gal organizing this shindig, her name is Lori A. She wrote:

Also, we have a fax machine here that just will not die, so if you feel like bringing your machine-breaking talents with you, it would be greatly appreciated. The Mission is having the all-day Battle of the Mariachis on Saturday, but we don't think it will affect the parking - there are lots of lots around this area. Besides, knitters can take Mariachis any day.

How do you not love a place that A) wants to employ my magical breaking powers and B) is already throwing gauntlets to the mariachis?


LOVE LOVE LOVE


soba-beauty-shot.jpg
The brains behind it all. Totally ready to eat a mariachi for breakfast, with a side of fancy feast.


Posted by laurie at 8:34 PM

May 18, 2010

The Frilly Hat from Baby Beanies

Several months ago my childhood friend Chris emailed to ask if I would make a hat for a four-year-old girl undergoing chemo. And Chris is one of my longest and truest friends so of course I said yes. I'm not sure if the result will please the little recipient but I love it, and I tried to knit it all in love, with happy wishes and good vibes stuck between the stitches.

It's the "frilly hat" pattern from the delightful book Baby Beanies: Happy Hats to Knit for Little Heads. As soon as I held that book in my hands I knew it would bring funky perfect new hats into the world. The patterns are clear, concise and well-written. They're easily scalable especially if you're not new to hats (I may want a ruffled hat myself soon.) And Lord I do love hats.

frillyhat1.jpg

I still have to sew the button on for her.

frillyhat2.jpg

frillyhat3.jpg

I love this hat, knit all in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino with a hatband of Noro Blossom. Even if it is too small, the little girl can use it to dress her dolls and bears and stuffed animals. I put a lot of good feelings into it, I sure hope the yarn translates!

---
And if you''re free on Saturday:


May 22 at 2 p.m.
San Juan Capistrano Regional Library
31495 El Camino Real
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

We're going to have a great day in a beautiful city!

So, I'll read a bit out loud (that seems to work better than reading silently to ourselves, heh) and then you can ask any old question you want and I'll answer and blather onward and upward and will sign books. Oh, and bring your knitting! I'll bring mine. It's about half a centimeter in and took me three hours.

See you Saturday!

Posted by laurie at 5:44 AM

May 17, 2010

Ok, I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time.

That's a line from one of my all time favorite movies ever, Broadcast News. I saw it again over the weekend.

A million years ago I used to work at my college TV news station. I was the weather gal. I was all about the high pressure systems. And I became close friends with a guy called Tony and every time I see that movie I think of him, because in our 1992 minds I was meant to be Jane and he was meant to be Aaron and we would say that to each other all the time. Or he would say, "Because nobody invites a *bad* looking idiot up to their bedroom."

Then we made one of those ill-fated pacts where if we weren't married at 30 (like in If Lucy Fell) we'd marry each other, but of course by the time I turned 30 I was married and living in L.A. and in love with both. A few years after that Tony got married to a woman named after a cheese, and by then I was in the midst of a divorce/nervous breakdown and she forbade him to speak to me. So we haven't spoken since. Aaron and Jane move apart, maybe forever. Cue slow music and pan left to the ocean. The waves speak to their emotional distance.

Anyway, it's a great movie.

The other movies I got into this weekend were:
1) Sweet Home Alabama (well, I think the trailer is better than the film but Reese Witherspoon is so charming she carries it.) I own this one on DVD.

2) An Affair of Love
Freakydeaky French film that I love but you will probably only like it if you like freakydeaky French contemporary films. I have seen it three times and it gets better for me. Rented off Netflix. But I should just buy it since I will definitely want to see it again.

3) Iron Man
The original. Watched it on my laptop in bed, still think it was the best movie I saw in all of 2008! Hey, one can only take so much romance and conversation before you need to see Tony Stark fly.

4) The Italian Job
Not a ro-co exactly, it is an action movie (my favorite genre) but has romance and some good one-liners. I had this on while I folded laundry.

I ran out of time but I still have Julie & Julia to watch from Netflix and I found a version of Sense & Sensibility on cable that I Tivo'd. I loved all the movie suggestions! Thank you! I am compiling them into a list and you know I believe the list is the sincerest form of literature.

What did you watch this weekend?

Posted by laurie at 6:56 AM

May 14, 2010

Don't be a drag, participate. Clams on the half shell and roller-skates ... roller-skates!

'Cause these are the good times... leave your cares behind...

Hello, Friday.
You know once you get into thinking about three good things for the day it gets easier to think of one more and one more. Sometimes they're small, and that is A-Ok. Like today mine are:

1) Two-buck Chuck (it's a whole line of wines from Trader Joe's that are just $1.99 a bottle and not bad at all.) We have a date later tonight. I'll be looking hot, he'll be wearing a label and nothing else.

2) The smell of an old book.

3) Romantic comedies. Tonight I'm going to re-watch Sweet Home Alabama, I just have the urge to hear Reese Witherspoon say, "You have a baby! In a bar."

What are your favorite romantic comedies? Working Girl? Pretty Woman? Bridget Jones? Cats & Dogs? You know there is something sort of liberating about admitting to the universe at large that your big Friday night plans involve cheap wine, a good DVD and a gourmet dinner of microwave popcorn ... and you're really excited about it. I love microwave popcorn (good thing #4) and I desperately look forward to that feeling I get on Friday nights after work when I walk in the door and put down the gigantopurse and take off my shoes and the whole house just sighs in relief around me. (Good thing #5.)

Maybe I'll make it a rom-com weekend. What do you recommend ... Romancing the Stone? 9-to-5? The Princess Bride? Under the Tuscan Sun? Say Anything? High Fidelity? I always love your book and movie suggestions. I'm convinced you are the most hilarious and interesting audience online (Good thing #6, a million times over.) You always have excellent taste. And while I'm at it, I swear you look like you've lost weight.

Oh! One last thing (good thing #7). In just a little over a week I'm doing my very first ever speaking engagement at a public library! I am SO excited, which if you knew me would shock you since I generally have to be very medicated to speak in public. But libraries are where I grew up, it's like second church for me. To be asked to speak at one is just beyond great. Here's the details:

May 22 at 2 p.m.
San Juan Capistrano Regional Library
31495 El Camino Real
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675

I hope you can make it. We'll have a great day, I'll read a bit from the book (or maybe one of the essays that never made my editor's cut, who knows!) and then you can ask any old question you want and I'll answer and sweat nervously. Oh, and bring your knitting! The ladies organizing this event have a book and knitting group called The Knit Lits. BEST NAME EVER. (Good thing #8.)

Well, having said all that, let us now go forth and participate in Friday. Clams on the halfshell and roller skates, roller skates!

Posted by laurie at 12:04 AM

May 13, 2010

Three Things

Some time ago Jennifer had this great idea where we would email each other three good things a day, a little list of what's happy in your day or what you like or are grateful for. I loved that! It's right up my Velveeta-lined way of thinking. We kept at it for a while and then stopped but I think today is a good day for Three Things.

1) The doctor is in

I LOVE my doctor. It took me a while to find a good one -- I had to change doctors about six times before I started going to this one and have been with him for over a decade now. He's really smart and friendly and isn't awkward with me even after that time I accidentally propositioned him. Well, hey, it was a long time ago. I was in his office and talking about le divorce and I asked him if he'd ever gone through a midlife crisis and he turned to me and said, "Laurie. I am offended you think I am old enough to have had a mid-life crisis." And he was probably joking with me but I didn't realize it just then so I went on and on about how he was clearly NOT old and he was very handsome and I overcompensated a bit and maybe said, "You're a total fox." Or something equally embarrassing. To my doctor. Awesome.

Anyway, yesterday I had an appointment with him in the morning and every time I see him I remember what a good doctor he is. It makes all the difference. He takes his time and listens and asks the right questions, and I'm sure my accidental fawning a few years back has nothing to do with it.


2) Baby showers

I have gone to more baby showers in the past 12 months than I have in a lifetime. I thought I wouldn't enjoy them very much (I wasn't sure if it would be one of those secret mom club things where you feel weird for being the one who's never had a kid) but it's been just the opposite. All the baby showers I've been to have been really fun, and FUNNY. Being the kidless one I'm able to make the goofy jokes and I adore watching my pregnant friends with their big bellies being the center of attention and opening a pile of beautiful gifts picked out just for them with love and affection.

My work friend Claudia had a baby shower and I was so excited for her to open up the present from me because I found some of the cutest summer rompers I'd ever seen. I'm not sure if they're her style but they're what I would want to wear if I were a three-month old kid. I got them all at Target and I forgot to take a picture but I found two of the outfits pictured online: this one was by far my favorite. And I got this dress. OH the cuteness!

3) Catdance
I have a desk that's a bit like a giant land boat, I love it. It sort of anchors my whole office. On the immense desktop surface I have my monitor and keyboard and mouse and mousepad and a few books, a little desktop clutter, too, mostly mail and post-it note reminders. A few pictures. Mostly it's clean and open, though.

When I sit at my desk and start typing, Big Ol' Bob jumps up there and walks back and forth back and forth between my keyboard and the monitor. He rubs his face along the edge of the keyboard, sits on the mouse, chirps. He'll do this until I stop and pay full attention to him and then after a while he sits on the end of the desk and looks out the window.

I forget sometimes that just a few years ago he was practically a wild animal, feral and not fond of petting. I like our little keyboard dance. I scratch his head, rub his ears, stick post-it notes to his fur.

Three very good things!


bob-catdance.jpg

Posted by laurie at 7:07 AM

May 12, 2010

Wednnnnesddaye

First, thank you to everyone who didn't send me a note yesterday taking me to task for the one word in my headline that was a typo. While I have done many things in life, I have never contacted a stranger to point out their crappy typing. But hey, I'm no angel. For one thing, I look terrible in white. In the sixth grade I knowingly kissed a boy I knew my other sixth-grade friend luuurved. And I once reported an aggressive tailgating driver to the CHP as a possible drunken crazypants. To me my typos are just a given, not like that time I hauled off and beat up a guy with an umbrella in the middle of Paris.

Then again, if you ever saw me type you'd be amazed I spell anything correctly. I type with three fingers and one thumb, like a monkey on a bender. And I'm fast. It's a sight to behold. I guess I don't care about typos all that much since I'm usually typing at 4 a.m. in bed on a laptop with half a cat butt on the keyboard. But I get it. For some people, it's all about the spellcheck. I don't spellcheck. I don't sleep. Is there a connection? I'll take Possible Correlations for $200, Alex!

Most of the time I teeter between relaxed and pinched but lately it's all pinched. This has been a very inneresting time, so much so that I called Drew up two weeks ago and asked, "What the hell is in Uranus?" and he said, "Mars is in Uranus and my Uranus and make it go away!"

(This is probably only funny if you are a big dweeb who laughs every time someone says Uranus, which is just not often enough.)

Sometimes when something's up Uranus, I self-medicate with wine and chicken tacos. The taco is truly a perfect food, much like a cheeseburger. When things go poorly and a taco isn't enough, I like to fantasize about stapling things to people. I am often not a very nice person. Jennifer used to say they were reserving a special little room in hell for catty wenches such as ourselves, but I figure the company down there will probably be more fun anyway. And you won't need a coat.

Whenever I question the blackness of my shriveled soul, I try to remember the one time I was faced with a great temptation to become even more morally bankrupt and I chose to pass on the opportunity. Which is not exactly irrefutable proof of being a good person, but it is a step in the right direction.

It was a few years ago -- 2004 to be exact. My then-husband had just all-the-sudden up and moved out and on the same day he was packing up all the good DVDs and moving off to his new life, my job was transferring all of us to a new building downtown so I went into work on a Saturday and pretended everything was hunky dorey and unpacked all my stupid design books and stupid sharpies and pasted a smile on my face and acted like a normal person whose life wasn't unraveling at the seams.

The new building had all kinds of safety features the old one didn't have -- it's like the pentagon around here. You need a badge to get into the hallway where the elevators are, a badge to punch any button in the elevator and then you swipe in again on your floor to get into the office. We were all getting used to this and the security guys in the building were helpful, and nice, and not nearly as cheesy and mackdaddified as the security dudes in the old building.

That whole period of time is a big hazy ring of smoke. Mostly from despair and also a LOT of smoking. I was smoking at least a pack a day easy, and I would go out on breaks to the smoker's annex behind the building and sit alone and stare at the ground and smoke.

One of the security guards at that time was a friendly older guy, we'll call him Robie [not his real name!] Robie was from West Africa, and he had that lilting accent which is kind of soothing, and he was in his late 60s, and he would walk the back of the building and he was kind and grandfatherly and never lectured me about smoking, because he was a smoker too. Ah, I miss smoking. Anyway, before long he would offer me a light for the ever-present Capri cigarette in my hand and one day out of the blue he gently asked me why I was so sad.

"What...?" I asked. Because surely I was holding it together SO WELL.

"You just seem a little sad is all," said Robie.

And as the weeks and months passed it was nice to have someone to say hello to on my smoke breaks and I did eventually tell Robie that I'd been dumped unceremoniously and I wasn't taking it too well. Which was sort of obvious to everyone but people are kind and keep up appearances for you sometimes. He was a good listener and a nice smoking companion for ten minutes a day.

One day I was working late and it was dark outside and I was leaving the building and Robie asked me if I wanted an escort to the garage. The garage is a few blocks away from the building and it's a creepy walk alone at night, so I said yes and thank you.

As we walked he asked me how I was and it was just bad timing, I think, but I did that horrible thing where I burst out into tears (it happened a lot around that time) and told him I was pretty sure my husband was seeing someone else and wanted a divorce and I told him about the awful financial mess and the DVDs ("He took Billy Jack! He hated Billy Jack! Why didn't he just leave Billy Jack with me?") and finally I stopped crying and we had a smoke on the benches outside the garage then I thanked him and apologized profusely and went home, ashamed and feeling stupid for always embarrassing myself with the crying.

A few days passed and Robie found me out back, smoking behind the building.

"I have been thinking of your dilemma," he said. "I think I have a solution for you."

"You do?" I asked. Because I'd racked my mind for months and no solution had come. I was definitely open to solutions.

He looked around discreetly to be sure we couldn't be heard by the other smokers covertly cowering away from prying corporate eyes.

"I know a woman," he said, in his lilting accent. "She is a Nigerian .... doctor. Sort of doctor. She can make cures and she can help you, if you want. I can put you in touch with her. She is a very special person. I think she can make your problem disappear."

And maybe it was the way he said it. She can make your problem disappear. Or perhaps it was some of the stories I'd read about voodoo and I don't even know if that's what he was talking about, really, except I kind of did, because I had goosebumps and not the good kind. It was the way he said it. And for just a minute I thought about it -- I have a wild imagination and it only took a second -- and then I sighed. I was too much of a wuss. I'd be lying if I told you the idea of pulling an Angel Heart and going all voodoo on the ex wasn't enticing, but I couldn't do it. I just couldn't.

"Robie, thank you, I really do appreciate it, but I'm going to do it the old-fashioned way," I said. "You know, with an incompetent, overpriced lawyer and a lot of wine."

And he never brought it up again, and eventually I stopped smoking and then a few months later he stopped working at our building and I haven't seen him in years. I actually I forgot about it for a long while, that whole conversation, Robie's offer of help. It wasn't until much later when I met a woman at one of my booksignings who had recently gone through a horrible, long, expensive divorce herself and she said, joking of course, "It would have been cheaper if I'd just offed him!" and I remembered Robie and the witch doctor. Because I feel very certain that's what she was, just from his tone of voice, the way he described her.

And while it isn't proof exactly of being a good person, it is at least proof that when faced with temptation I do try to tread on the side of the not-entirely-heinous. Sometimes.

But Lord I do miss smoking. And I am a really really crappy typist.

Posted by laurie at 12:06 AM

May 11, 2010

The Crochet Dude is redefining the word "tool" as it applies to men. And women.

Over the weekend I braved the Valley sidestreet mayhem to visit the Michael's in the Burbank Empire Center (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Shopper.) My best friend Drew has created something so astonishing and cool that I had to see it with my own eyes:

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It's a whole line of Crochet Dude tools, kits and bags:

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I stood there trying not to get all misty-eyed like a crazypants (hey, I'm a little emotional these days, give me a break) and also trying to move people out of the way so I could take a picture thank you verymuch. I got a chuckle out of this one:

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Drew has a giant blue hook.

You can read about Drew's whole line of crochet kits, bags, hooks and tools on his blog at thecrochetdude.com. He also lists all the stores where you can find his line of products.


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After ogling the display I got into my car and we were on the phone and I was so excited and also, nuts, because in nine months Drew has brought to life an entire line of product and it was Mother's Day and I know his mom was watching, I believe the Universe works that way. And I needed to see it myself with my own eyes. I needed proof that in nine months' time one person can dream it and work on it and create it and not be some Buddha in the mountain in flowing robes but is a real person with two cats, one of which is even more "fluffy" than my Bob, and he can be a real person who scoops poop and worries if this is a good haircut and how will it all work out? And he mops and makes dinner (OK, yeah, way better dinners than I make but whatevs) but he is real and true and against all odds success finds him. And he rises to meet it. He inspires me. He keeps me sane and he lifts me up when I need it.

I don't relate so well to starlets and celebutantes and men in guru shirts who have the time to go to yoga retreats and meditate on a mountain. Drew and I grew up in very similar situations and neither of us have strayed far from our true selves. And his success gives me joy and hope and true belief in the possibility that there may actually be another possibility.

For those of you who have been reading between the not-terribly-subtle lines lately, you know I'm in a space. (For those of you who just occasionally skim, feel free to skip the next 120 words.) It's not about the details of whatever is going on with me, it's the general stuff we all deal with and I've been thinking maybe all we need is an attitude adjustment, a little more focus on what we have instead of what we could lose. Maybe it's the way you tell the story, maybe it's the way you choose to see the events or maybe it's your heart showing you something's gotta give. (Good movie by the way, total writer porn, who doesn't want to be Diane Keaton writing in that office and dabbling with Keanu? Come on.) So you take a chance or get pushed into one or maybe you just know a time is coming when you get to decide how to look at the facts. Frame them this way, you got heartache and depression. Frame 'em another way you got freedom and possibility. It's all in how you decide to look at it.

I do believe God dreams things bigger for us than we even know how to imagine. I know it because I saw my dear friend Drew Emborsky's name and face on an entire line of craft products in the busiest Michael's in all of Los Angeles, California. I am so happy for you, Drew! And I am grateful to you, for giving me hope and proving anything is possible.

Plus, I will be teasing you about your giant blue hook for years to come. Talk about divine inspiration.

Posted by laurie at 6:44 AM

May 10, 2010

Mystery vanity plate #547

Saw this last week on my way into work:

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What does it mean? Scared to love L.A.? Screwed and in love with L.A.? Surreal heart Los Angeles? So much to ponder on the 101.

And:

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This weekend I saw the Sobakowa sitting in repose looking out the window and her ears appeared to glow... is this how she communicates with her people? Will they soon be taking over? Very mysterious. Also, I think she's been using Twitter. I keep coming home to find her sitting on the keyboard. If that cat can type with her butt, I may be out of business.

Mondays.

Posted by laurie at 7:13 AM

May 7, 2010

Friday Haiku

Friday Haiku:

Just remember, hey.
Tomorrow is Saturday!
My favorite day.

- - -

Some iphone pictures:
Woke up in the middle of the night with a Soba on my shoulder. Also why I look so awesome. Practically a supermodel.

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And some Friday Bob. He makes me laugh!
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Have a great weekend!!

Posted by laurie at 7:01 AM

May 6, 2010

Airnarium and aquarium

Traveling is always an adventure, sometimes the most trepidatious part is just sitting beside a stranger for so many hours. On the way from L.A. to JFK, I sat next to a guy who was completely addicted to his cellphone. He wasn't the only one, so was the lady in the seat in front of me. They both talked on their phones as they boarded the plane, they were talking as we waited for the plane to fill and eventually they were holding up the plane because neither would hang up so we could take off.

The lady in front of me was on an urgent call that went like this, "Yeah, I'm just sitting on the plane now. Huh? Yeah, I got a coke before but forgot to buy something to eat. Well there was one place but everything else was still closed. Yeah, I liked that bagel shop we went to that time..." and so on. Clearly too enthralling to hang up when the announcement was made for the third time to please turn off all cell phones. Now. Please.

The guy beside me was funny. He was obviously addicted to his cell phone, too, and antsy about being unable to use it for a few hours. You see people like this all over the city, they can't stand to sit still and be silent for even a second. He was talking when he was walking down the aisle of the plane and as soon as that conversation ended, he immediately called another person and another and another until the flight attendant had to stand over him and take his phone away as if he were a naughty six-year-old. He was probably in his mid-forties. All his conversations were as urgent and compelling as the gal in the seat ahead of us: "Hey, you talk to Mike yet? Did he see that movie I told him about? I knew if he liked poker he'd like it. You eat breakfast yet? Yeah, well, we were late for the plane so I haven't even had a coffee. Oh right, Ok, talk to you later." (click) (dials phone) "Hey! Mike, it's Sy. You see that movie I told you about? Yeah, well I knew if you liked poker you'd like it. Man, I am dying for a coffee..." and on and on and on.

When the flight attendant took away his phone he fidgeted until we were in the air and then promptly fell asleep with his mouth open.

My mom and I flew together from JFK to Bermuda, so that was nice. Then on the flight back I was in a row by myself from Bermuda to JFK, and from JFK to LAX I sat next to a guy with a bad case of IPS -- Imaginary Package Syndrome. You know the guys who have an imaginary package so large they have to spread their legs really wide and encroach into your personal space to accommodate that enormously huge imaginary schlong? Yep, I sat next to that guy.

I'm really glad they don't allow people to make cell phone calls in flight. I hope they never change that rule. Even with my headphones on I could hear my seatmates talking, and I have those fancy schmancy noise-canceling headphones. The idea of sitting next to someone for six hours and listening to them natter on and on would surely increase the passenger air rage quotient, no? Of course it does nothing to address the prevalence of dudes with Imaginary Package Syndrome. Some things you just have to make jokes about.

- - -


One of the highlights of our sightseeing on vacation was visiting the local aquarium. I love aquariums, there's something so peaceful and beautiful about watching the fish and reading all the information about each display. It appeals to my dorky science-geek self as well as the "I want to view nature in air-conditioned comfort" side of my personality.

My favorite is always the octopus (they're so smart!) and I love all the wacky sea plant-animals, like anemones and coral and urchins. Sea horses and jellyfish are big favorites, too, though there weren't any of those at this particular aquarium. There was a giant living reef display that stretched along a wall and had some very big fish. And sharks! They're so fascinating. I've known some sharks, actually. Except the ones I knew were dressed in people clothes.

Most of my pictures turned out great, so I'm going to bore you with a ton of them! (The key is to never use flash. I love my little Canon point-and-shoot, it's a great camera!)

Some of the fish had people faces. I find aquatic life endlessly fascinating. Do they get bored with swimming? Are they uncomfortable in the aquarium? Or is it all the same when you're a fish? If there are any fish reading, let me know. After all on the internet, no one knows you're an octopus...

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Posted by laurie at 6:33 AM

May 5, 2010

In Bermuda, they're just called "shorts"

The other options for the title were, "I survived the Bermuda Triangle and all I got was this silly hangover" or "Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty Mama..."

So, hi! Guess who went to Bermuda over the weekend?

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Me and my mom. It was her birthday. Happy Birthday!

Bermuda is breathtakingly beautiful. It is someplace I never really had a hankering to visit and I sort of learned my lesson visiting Hawaii alone that island resort destinations are not the best places for me to travel solo (whereas in a big city or a European trek you can travel alone without drawing attention to your single status.) Alone on an island in a place full of tourists undocking two-by-two from giant cruise ships... well, it's like shining a spotlight on yourself, Hello! I am alone in paradise! So Bermuda was not on my current list of places to see. Then one day several months ago I got an email alert from American Airlines with an insane sale on all sorts of beachy places and they had tickets to Bermuda for $117 each way.

At first I thought it was a typo, because that was cheaper than a ticket to San Jose. But it was for real and I called my mom and said, "Hey, want to go off to Bermuda for your birthday?" And just like that we were booked and ready to go. And the trip couldn't have come at a more perfect time for both of us, who needed to get away and relax and we realized on this trip we've never done anything like this before, never traveled alone together for a weekend or ever. I got to have her all to myself for a whole weekend!

And we were truly in paradise:

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There's my mom, also named Laurie, checking out the sunset from the patio of our hotel room.

It was so much fun! We got in on Friday night and I think I slept more soundly than I have in months, and we got up the next morning to the most beautiful view out our patio doors. And we took a water taxi into Hamilton (and you know you're on vacation when A) you're on a boat taxi and B) the boat driver has his dog along.)

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Boat-loving dog.

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Lauries on a boat

In Hamilton we went to lunch at a pub that caught on fire (listen, it's not vacation with me unless something is on fire!) and we had just placed our order and taken a sip of iced tea when the fire alarm sounded so we all filed outside and waited a bit and nothing seemed to be happening, except all the waiters decided to sit on the stoop and smoke, so my mom and I moseyed down to the next pub and had a delicious meal.

Afterward, we wandered around Hamilton a bit and made it to the bus station where we bought a two-day transportation pass (only $20 each) and boarded a big pink bus for a trip to the Aquarium and St. George.

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The pink buses were comfortable, safe and very economical with the pass, which you can also use to get on board the water ferries.

Midway to St. George, we stopped off at the Aquarium. I love aquariums! Luckily my mom does, too. And she actually read the guidebook instead of just looking at the pictures like some people we know, so she knew how to get us there. Tomorrow I'll post all the pictures we took there, but here's one for today:

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Hmmm, which one of us is the exhibit and which one of us is the observer?

The next day we saw Dockyard and then took a bus all the way back to get a view of the interior a bit more. It was great. Here's Laurie waiting for the big ferry to Dockyard:

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View from the maritime museum.

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Cheesy and tipsy self-portrait

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We talked to Dad on Skype and showed him the view of the balcony and the room! (That's my newer ASUS Eee PC, I upgraded while back. This model has amazing battery life, I didn't have to plug it in once!)

When you're looking for your next off-season deal to somewhere new, Bermuda would be an excellent choice for anyone. I might even go back solo, who knows. It's incredibly clean and the people we met were hands-down the friendliest of any place I have ever visited. The food is great, the public transportation is easy, the island is so beautiful it's just breathtaking and it's so painless to get there and back. They even have a US Customs post right in the Bermuda airport so you go through customs in-island (instead of most foreign travel, where you deplane on your first stop on the U.S. and go through border control in a giant line.)

I will always think of it as the spot where I had the most relaxing time with my mom and laughed more in one weekend than I have laughed in ages.

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Sunset view from the room.

Posted by laurie at 6:02 AM

May 1, 2010

May Check in

A brief one. April was the sands of the hourglass, so are the days of our lives, cue dramatic music, wear too much makeup, sigh dramatically.

So here it is:

Goal One: Get Healthy (Actions)
Well, OK. So that happened.

The mere fact that I did not spend last month sleeping on the floor of a Jack-in-the-Box so I could absorb deep-fried items 24/7 is a miracle. There was one day when I was driving home from work, blubbering but trying not to be too obvious about it, and I looked over and saw a woman in a Volkswagon Jetta lighting up a cigarette and I thought, "I MUST HAVE ONE NOW." And yet I just drove myself home. I didn't stop at 7-11 and buy a carton of Marlboro lights and I am counting that as a major victory.

Granted, I did go into my earthquake kit and dig out the boxed wine I have on hand in case of emergencies (it was an emergency of sorts) but I haven't smoked now in what... three? four? years and I saw her light up and I was thisclose to just giving up entirely on health and well-being, which tells you all you need to know about my April without me going into the sordid details.

Awesome month! So happy it is over!

I did not walk every day. Or any day, except all that walking to and from the bus stops when my Jeep was in the shop. I did spend several days during the month cleaning obsessively which I count as exercise. My neighbors are probably all plotting to break my Dyson under cover of darkness. I actually Magic Erasered some of the paint off the walls. Oops.

Also, I ate junk food. Into every life some junk food will fall. It happens. In the long run, getting an order of drive-thru french fries was probably better than starting smoking again so I am cutting myself some slack. But I did manage some good meals including making myself tuna salad which does not have any lettuce in it but does have the word "salad" in the name!

So for the month I just sort of maintained. I was not super healthy but not completely in the ditch. As Scarlett would say, tomorrow is another day!


Goal Two: Yes (Attitude)
This Year of Yes thing has been like that old proverb where you ask God for patience and he sends you a traffic jam.

Yeah, HEE-larious.

But you know what? I'm still making jokes and I have my cats and my friends and family and my avalanche of yarn and it's good. There have been all sorts of changes happening in the mechanics of my life (and listen, I don't always embrace rocky changes that well) (you think?) and I think I am handling it not too badly. Etc. etc. Also I am right now doing something very fun which I will tell you about later and so May is already looking better than all of April and here it's only been May for like an hour.


May Goals
In May I want to try again to walk every day for the month (eventually I will make this goal) and I want to eat more vegetables. I also want to remember not to spend energy defending my unhappiness and instead to put that energy into writing, knitting, cleaning house, hanging out with friends, cooking, anything else. That is what the Yes Year is all about, deciding deliberately to let go of festering and embrace something, anything else.

And now it's May. May, two-thousand-ten. Crazypants.

- - -

[Comments are not available today.]

Posted by laurie at 4:24 AM