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February 26, 2011

What the hail?

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And it's still coming down! Crazypants!

Posted by laurie at 1:56 PM

February 25, 2011

Yesterday, when my troubles seemed so far away

1) I'm going to the courthouse and I'm gonna' get unmarried...

My stint in jury duty was supposed to take place this week at the Van Nuys Courthouse like a normal Valleyite. Valleyer? Valleykrie? Like, whatever! Totally!

I don't mind Van Nuys. Sure, I blame it for losing us Valleytos the critical 2002 vote on Valley secession (who had the bright idea to make Van Nuys the downtown of the Valley? It should be Sherman Oaks or Studio City ALL THE WAY, people!) but other than that I have only fond memories of the many good tacos I have had in Van Nuys and Van Nuys Adjacent. I find that tacos always taste better when they're in close proximity to a bail bonds shop and brother, you can find both in abundance in beautiful Van Nuys, California.

Much to my dismay and alarm my jury duty service was unceremoniously reassigned to Burbank. There are so many things about this decision that were against nature. For one thing the population/taco shop ratio in Burbank is just pitifully askew and not in favor of the carne asada. Also, the one and only time that I have ever been to the Burbank courthouse was on the day of my divorce hearing which was a very dark day indeed. There were expensive lawyers in short-sleeved dress shirts (oh, the humanity!), there were tears, there were recriminations, there was my angry self in so many pairs of spanx that the oxygen level in my brain dropped precipitously.

That was also the same day I tried to eat a whole lemon icebox pie by myself.

Lemon icebox pie was the pastry I chose for divorcing, as I thought it was appropriately sweet and sour. And I didn't take the pie to court, I left it at home to wait for me until my tearful return. It was not disappointed. My day in court did not go well. That evening I discovered that I could not in fact eat an entire pie on my own but it wasn't for lack of trying.

Oh, those were the days, when I was crazy and didn't mind who knew about it, like when I shook my tiny fist of rage at the bailiff. I was all, "Yeah! Well I'm going to call 1-800-SCREW-YOU but only replace SCREW with a stronger word that is less family friendly!" And the judge who wasn't even a real judge -- he was a commissioner, what the hell kind of lawyer did I hire again? -- said "You are going to be held in contempt!" and I shook my tiny fist of rage and was buoyed out of court on my spanx legs and the arms of my friends and I was taken home to be alone with the waiting pie.

I know with deep certainty that I'm not even close to the same wacky, unhinged version of myself I was on Divorce Court Day but still, just the thought of it kind of made me want a slice of lemon icebox pie. For old times sake.


2) American Idol took four hours of my life, minus all the time I fast-forwarded

Thank God for Tivo, the only way I can live to love American Idol. I tuned in this year on a day-by-day basis, since last year was an incontinent snooze my expectations were low.

What I have discovered so far is this: Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are kind of awesome. Goofy Southern Belle pageant party dresses from 1987 seem to be making a comeback. Hobbity looking men who play upright bass are kind of sexy. And Colton Dixon was robbed!

I like it. Oh the drama, the tears, the awkward let's-all-hold-hands scenes featuring three boys whose ages when added together equal my own.

3) They say it may snow, say it ain't so

Oh I don't know, some weird rumor is going around that it might snow somewhere. Dallas Raines said the snow levels will drop down to 1500 feet but since none of us living in this city can understand anything other than traffic math, we have no idea where that means the snow will fall.

Freeway distance x hour (rain to the fourth power) - weekends = snow?

A few years ago there were flurries in the Malibu Hills and that was exciting. It was still hot and sunny in the Valley, though, probably because I was still living in Reseda at the time where it stays 118 year round. I'm not worried about the impending weatherageddon, since the newscasters assure us all that everything should clear for The Big Day. The Big Day is coming!!!

4) The Big Day!!
Oscar Sunday is almost here. I have been training for it for months, watching all the best-picture nominees except one, which I have to go see today (Damn you, King's Speech! Making me sprint at the end!)

This is my SuperBowl. I'll be making little nibbly hors d'oeuvre bites and serving sparkling wine and there will be ballots and even a prize for best balloting. There will be fashion commentary and a pre-show and hopefully no snow to mar the red carpet.

Oh, and maybe a lemon icebox pie for dessert. Just for the symmetry of it all.

Posted by laurie at 10:41 AM

February 24, 2011

Something wicked this way came

All I know is that it didn't look this way when I went to bed last night.

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She looks so pleased with herself.

Posted by laurie at 6:53 AM

February 23, 2011

Perhaps I have a 28.8 brain in a T1 world

Every now and then I write a lot, spilling out words all over the place. It's been like this forever -- it's not like I just recently started being loquacious -- so I'm surprised to see recent comments from people who say things like, "I don't usually read that much in a blog..." or "I usually can only read a paragraph then I get fidgety." Our attention spans have dwindled down to bullet points and 15-second blurbs.

• Here's a bullet point to break up the monotony of sentences and comma splices!

I don't take it personally. I notice my attention span has rapidly diminished, too. I blame it entirely on the smart phone and the increase in fast internet service. Sometimes I catch myself playing scrabble or solitaire on my phone while I watch TV as if one time-wasting activity were not enough. Nope, I have to double time my laziness. I try to stop myself when I notice I'm doing it because I'm not paying full attention to either activity and I feel scattered and restless. This is usually when I put on my tennis shoes and go for a walk. That flighty and restless feeling almost always means I'm anxious or I need to physically burn some energy.

Everything just moves so fast now, our poor little brains have all gone haywire.

• Haywire brain! Needs bullet points! Likes bold a lot!

Remember when we used to have to wait patiently while AOL made its hissing, scrapping, wheezing, dialup sounds? And remember how long it used to take to load a web page? And remember when people could actually read six or eight entire paragraphs without feeling antsy and needing to click over to something new and fresh? Are you still there? Have you clicked over already?

We so crazy.

Oh wait.

• We so crazy!

One night Jennifer and I were leaving my apartment, out on our way to dinner. The restaurant was in close walking distance, so I took only my keys and my wallet. She was shocked and a little horrified that I didn't plan to bring my phone, too.

"You're not bringing your phone with you?" she asked.

"Nope," I said.

"You're just going to go out... without your phone?" The shock! The horror!

"I like to untether," I said. "Keeps me focused."

She looked at me like I had just announced I was donating all my fingers and toes to science.

"You are crazy," she declared.


• Those people in the crosswalks who are hypnotized by their phones better watch out!

Last week I yelled at someone in a crosswalk. Instead of actually paying attention and walking with purpose across a very busy Los Angeles intersection, she was glued to the mysterious device in her hand and was at an almost complete standstill in the intersection as she typed. The world had ceased to spin on its axis, her entire universe had been reduced to an iphone.

I had the windows zipped down so I hollered at her. Real loud.

"Hey! Stop staring at your phone and pay attention! You! You there! WAKE UP!!!!!! The earth is on FIRE!!!!"

She never heard me or heard the people behind me honking. It was amazing. She was just typing away, clicking on her little cellphone while the world swirled around her.

But I guess I should have just been happy she was able to concentrate on any one thing for that long. Maybe it was a rollicking game of Scrabble. Or a really longass wordy blog with comma splices.

Posted by laurie at 1:28 PM

February 22, 2011

The trite stuff

Thank you for the abundant suggestions and input about both the masthead and the eReader dilemma. As far as the masthead goes, I personally love the mysterious be-knitted brunette. Next time I'm procrastinating on something else I might add in one of her equally minxlike model friends and update the text but overall I think the design is just dippy enough for the important content of cat poo and navel gazing.

The eReader comments were fascinating! Even just a few years ago that conversation would have been about a minute and a half long. I'm impressed with all the early adopters out there and I was happy to hear from the folks who admitted they didn't want to like an eReading device but had fallen in love with one. All of this helped me make an immediate decision to not decide. I already have an iphone that I love (I call it "my Scrabble machine") and a netbook that I adore so I think I can hold off on an ipad until the money fairy arrives. I still want an eReader but when I start to get wrapped up in a decision and stall usually one of two things is happening: I am either trapped in a morass of weird rules I made up for myself (like the cauliflower incident) or I am focusing intently on something I don't really need as a way of avoiding other stuff in my life (eReader paralysis).

In a rare moment of clarity I realized that the answer is not to buy some new gadget, at least not today. I'm not traveling a lot, I don't commute and I have way more time on my hands than money. So I'm going to take some of that time and re-arrange all my books, pulling aside all the unread books -- and there are a LOT of unread books in my collection -- and creating one whole section of the shelves just for unread titles. When I get the urge to go buy something new to read I'm going to check out my own personal bookstore. Ideally there will also be some culling and paring down going on along with the re-arranging.

That is one of the selfhelpiest decisions I have made in a long while. Yay me.

- - -

Self-help has all kinds of relatives. There is its close cousin called The Happiness Movement, led by folks like Dr. Richard Carlson and Dan Buettner (though my favorite is probably Gretchen Rubin, whose book The Happiness Project is fantastic.) There's also the Declutter branch of the self-help family, a movement that started under the vague umbrella of "Simple Living" which has grown into TV shows and newsletters and websites and a whole arm of publishing. My favorite in this area is my friend Erin Doland. Her website Unclutterer is just addictive and her book, Unclutter Your Life in One Week, is actually inspiring. I'll have to remember to re-read it when I am going through all my books, a little motivation may be in order.

Self Help's brunette twin sister is the world of sports psychology. Until this morning I hadn't thought about fitness-flavored self help in a LONG time, years probably. Perhaps I've been too busy navel-gazing and recluttering and carrying on. But sporty spice selfhelpyness was once my favorite kind, and it helped keep me sane during the Los Angeles assimilation process.

When I first moved to L.A. I had a job working at the Daily News. There were about five or six other people in the newsroom who were close to my age (I was the youngest, I think) and we all started hanging out together in a sort of misery-loves-company arrangement. The newsroom was brutal, and we formed into a small pack of very well-groomed wolves. During that time my friend Patty got assigned a story about a local athlete who started the Tae Bo fitness craze. She didn't want to go to the Tae Bo class by herself so few of us volunteered to go with her. Since the classes were held in Sherman Oaks (The Billy Blanks World Training Center! Yo!) we all convened in my awesome 500-square-foot Sherman Oaks apartment that literally looked out over the 101 freeway and we carpooled to the gym (a very un-L.A. thing to do, I now realize. But there was NO parking at the Billy Blanks World Training Center and Strip Mall with Dry Cleaners).

That first class completely kicked my butt. It wasn't the exercise as much as the heat. It was an unbearable sweatbox. The workout room of the gym stayed heated like a Bikram yoga class and the sheer amount of people working out in such a small, hot room caused a moist, dense blanket of condensation to hug the walls and drip down the plate-glass windows. I didn't develop my full-blown germaphobia until years later but I hated the heat. It was like working out at noon on a Louisiana summer day.

I didn't die. I did, however, discover that the high I got from surviving class and not actually collapsing and dying of cardiac arrest was amazing.

My friend Patty filed her story and never went back. She and a couple of the other girls made fun of the big, colorful posters that lined every inch of the gym's non-mirrored spaces. The posters were full of the sporty inspirational stuff we used to decorate my sorority dorm with, sayings like "Goals are just dreams with deadlines!" and "Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the prize!" The big posters by the front door said, "There will always be obstacles! They are called learning opportunities!" and "Don't leave your towels on the gym floor!"

At that time I thought the other reporters in the newsroom were much cooler than I was, after all they had lived in L.A. longer and they still made fun of my accent and my deep fear of the freeway. So when they laughed at the selfhelpyness of the gym, I laughed along with them even though secretly I liked the posters. My friend Alicia and I were the only two who kept going to Tae Bo and it wasn't long before I discovered she secretly liked all that sporty-selfhelpy stuff, too. After a few months of Tae Bo we were both in amazing shape. Alicia later left journalism to become a female boxer (!!) and I eventually left to become married and half crazy. Whoops.

I wasn't very introspective back then (and I was incredibly immature) but even in my unenlightened state I understood that physical fitness enthusiasts are almost religious about the mind-body connection. The language of athletes is very much like the language of the self help movement -- there's a lot of focus on positive outcomes, thinking patterns and behavior modification for optimum results. I liked the attitude and the washed-out, calm feeling you got after pushing your body to its limits. Most of all I liked feeling good.

Fast forward fifteen years, one marriage and divorce and about eleventeen different hair colors to this morning. I was outside on a long walk, and I started up a hill in my neighborhood. It was cold this morning and I was pushing hard to get up the hill in long strides. As I got toward the top I had a moment where I felt that little rush you get from exercise, that split second of fully inhabiting your own muscles and skin. I could feel my blood moving and my heart beating.

It was just a split second but it was exquisite.

When I got to the top of the hill I paused to look back and see how far I'd come. That glorious in-my-body feeling reminded me of way back when, back in 1995 when I used to go with Alicia to a cramped, sweaty Tae Bo class every night after work. My life then was not all that great on paper -- I was broke almost all the time, I had no furniture, I was self-conscious about my accent, my education and my writing skills. Oh, and don't forget the tiny apartment on the freeway overpass. But in many ways I was very happy. I was young and relatively ignorant about the logistics of adult life. I just figured things would eventually work out, whatever that meant. I got a lot of pleasure from simple stuff like my kickboxing class and I really liked the platitudes on those posters.

This morning felt like a flashback, the good kind, remembering a version of myself that I haven't been in a while. Back then I didn't have the ability to put words to it but my body knew the spiritual feeling that comes from sheer physical exertion and the calmness that comes when -- for just a moment -- you unplug from your chattering brain and connect fully to your physical self.

I'm not sure when in my life I started to get in my own way. I don't think there's a singular moment when I left my body and started to live totally in my head, it happened gradually, maybe over years. But somewhere along my path I got lost. I suspect this happens to a lot of people. I suspect I am not the only one.

All this time later what is surprising is that the essential stuff is still true: There will always be obstacles, and you will always move forward. Goals are your dreams on a timeline. Keep your eyes on the prize. Walk it off! Push yourself to know yourself.

And it's always a good idea to pick your towels up off the floor.

Posted by laurie at 12:49 PM

February 20, 2011

Change is no old friend of mind. Old enemy, perhaps.

Yet change is as always marching forward and onward like a soldier who became part man, part android and has been stuck in an infinite loop of marching ever onward ever since.

I got a little lost in my metaphor there, but the theme today is ch-ch-change. Brew your coffee strong this morning and add to it what you see fit for such a topic. I will be adding organic half & half but if I weren't driving out to meet up with Jennifer shortly I would be tipping in the calvados. Strong coffee with that little extra warmth. Oh yeah.

Possible Change Scenario # 1:

It has come to my attention that the masthead image on this here website, while amusing for the inherently naughty nature of a 1960s Bernat knitwear model having to strike such devious little poses, may not be what you want to look at when you hear my voice in your head in the mornings. Many readers have sent me letters saying they do not think it is a good representation of this crazy Aunt we have, funky ol' Aunt Purl.

Also it was pointed out to me that since people might mistakenly believe that woman IS me, that I should reconsider my doppelganger.

I will leave this one in your hands. All in favor of changing say aye. All opposed to change on pure principle, say naye. All those who said aye also signed a contract waiving their rights to complain about a new masthead should one appear. (The waivers are in real small print.) (hee)

I'm open to changing it up. And I need some help on Movable Type so if you know anyone who is an expert please hook us up. My brain hurts thinking about the code.


Possible Change Scenario # 2:

It's time to ponder -- mayhaps not change -- but ponder the nature of the eReader.

For a die-hard paper book lover such as myself, this might be an awkward and at times painful move but after trying to clean my office again for the bazillionth time I finally admit my books are out of control.

My home is full of stuff and of all that stuff the absolute heaviest and largest chunk of stuff is the books and all the furniture required to shelve said books. They take over this house and if I can manage to get some off the walls and into an eReader, it would be a miracle of space-saving.

Right now my thinking is between the iPad and the Kindle. I like the iPad because it's easy to use (after all it's just a gigantic toddler version of an iPhone) but the size itself seems to be a drawback to me for reading on it. Its bonus feature to me is that you can play scrabble on it and surf and do all that stuff on one gadget. But the kindle looks like a better size to hold and read, and it has a qwerty keyboard and it holds a whole lot of books. Plus, I am so tuned in to amazon I even have the shopping app on my phone. Love me some amazon.com. The Kindle also has no service fees, you just pay as you buy books.

So I'd love to hear from Kindlers and iPadders (They really named it that? I'm still amused. Make one with dri-weave now, please?) and if you Nookers and Sony eReader aficionados want to chime in I would love to hear from you, too. Tell us the pros and cons of your favorite device, how you use it, how sturdy it is, how reliable it's been and anything else you think can help us.

Because I am not the only one thinking about adding an eReader into the book cave, am I?

I can really only ponder two big change items in a day so there you have it. And don't worry, you won't insult my delicate southern feelings if you speak your mind on the masthead. I already know I want to change the wording a bit (see what expensive therapy does? I can now change a sentence!) and feel free to reassure me that I am not the only late adopter with this eReading thing. But I see why it could be so necessary now. You get the book immediately and you don't have to store it on your shelf.

Of course I would have to keep some books, many books, let's be real. But if I could clear out my trashy paperbacks section and put those on an eReader I would lose about 190 pounds of stuff and free up a whole area in the bookshelves for the yarn books. Amazing. The times they are a-changing.

Posted by laurie at 8:40 PM

February 18, 2011

It was a dark and stormy afternoon...

It's a' brewing
I just got back from a very long walk. The morning started out partly sunny and ended with a windy chill. Usually as I walk the day warms up but this time it seemed to be getting colder and windier and darker by the minute. Storm clouds are building and the sky looks ominous and I think we're about to have a real-deal bonafide storm.

My supplies are all stocked up, I have a good book (When We Were Strangers, of course, this month's book club selection) and I have beverages and snacks and candles if the power goes out.

Oh yeah, there's something I forgot to tell you about my adopted home city. When it rains the power goes out. I'm not sure why our infrastructure isn't water-resistant, some little mysteries are best left unexplained.

- - -


Luckily I can swim

Yes I can swim, so if my rooftop patio turns into a swamp I'll get through it. Seems when I mentioned the class that wasn't some people thought I was taking swimming lessons instead of swimming exercise class. I got several earnest, heartfelt notes urging me to reconsider and learn to swim and stories of how the writer or his/her mom/sister/aunt learned to swim as an adult and conquer the fear.

You know, until I read those notes I never thought about my own ability to swim, it was something I just took for granted. My folks taught me as a baby and it's something I can't remember not knowing how to do. Thanks to those notes, when I talk to my dad this weekend I'm going to tell him how grateful I am they threw me in the pool early because that is one life skill I definitely would not want to learn as an adult. When you're a kid your fear and anxiety level is so low about things like learning to swim or learning to ride a bike or trying to fly by jumping off Little Nanny's barn (whoops) fourteen times (whoops). I think I spent most of my childhood jumping off stuff and landing in creeks and bayous and large piles of dirt. It is sort of a miracle I survived.

I don't have a fear of water or swimming, though I am not real fond of boats. And I downright panic at the thought of a big ship, like a cruiseliner. They make me hyperventilate just looking at them (see what I mean about adult-level anxieties? I am pure crazy head.)

My ability to swim is the only reason I can even step foot on a small boat. I have two firm rules when it comes to watercraft: the vessel must be small enough for me to safely jump off the side and the boat journey can't take us out of site of the shore because I can swim to shore.

When my mom and I were in Bermuda last year we discovered that much of the transportation around the island was on a water taxi (read: boat). We were about to step on the first boat and she turned to me and saw the expression on my face.

"Are you going to be OK? You're not going to upchuck or wig out or anything are you?" she asked. SO MOTHERLY.

"I'm fine," I reassured her. "But we have to sit on the top deck so we can evacuate more quickly if we start to sink."

"Why would we sink?" she asked. My family enjoys humoring me.

"Not sure," I said. "Could be anything -- pirates, icebergs, mechanical sharks. The point is we have to be ready and aware."

"It must be hell living inside your brain," she said cheerfully.

"Sometimes," I said.

We got on the boat and sat down (near the side of the boat, easier access to the edge) and she laughed at me.

"You look like you're working out a math problem," she said.

"I think if we have to swim for shore we'll probably have to ditch your handbag," I informed her.

"Why do we have to get rid of mine? Yours is bigger," she said.

"Because I'm the stronger swimmer," I replied tartly. "If I'm dragging you, I can't take your purse and mine both. And we'll need some money for the wine I'll have to drink after this mini-Titanic goes down."

"Yeah," she said, "I could really use some of that wine RIGHT NOW."

Then she put on her sunglasses and pretended to be vacationing alone. But it was such a great trip. I could see the shore the whole time.

- - -

Finally

When the big storm hits today, I will be safely home, safely cocooned in my little world where my personal heated blanket is all ready to go:

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Oh yeah.


Posted by laurie at 11:34 AM

February 17, 2011

The city that Ugg built

Yesterday it actually rained a bit in the morning and it was very exciting. I woke up, made coffee and watched the morning news and traffic report from my bed while the sweet thrill of schadenfreude washed over me. It's like a little birthday present every day that it rains and I don't have to get in my Jeep and ride the clutch all the way to downtown. It's only about 14 miles away but it can easily be a two-hour voyage in the rain.

You may wonder why we're so terrified of the mist. Here is the weather forecast:

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HOLY CRAP PEOPLE> WE GONNA DIE> SEND WINE.

But when it came time to do the man-on-the street portion of Super Mega Storm Trackermageddon, it was actually bright and sunny and beautiful outside. After even a little mist this city turns into a sparkling, crisp little jewel. So our intrepid news reporter Leo Stallworth (one of my favorites, he always gets the weather stories and he is ridiculously entertaining) stood outside in his blue slicker and showed us what is forecast for Southern California:

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Water will fall from the big Evian bottle in the sky. Drive carefully, folks.

If I didn't take pictures of my own television you know you'd think I made all this stuff up. Admit it, secretly you want to come here on vacation and watch Channel 7 news during STORMWATCH. Don't you? Bring your Ugg boots. You'll need them to blend in with the natives.

- - -

There is a cat picture at the end.

So it was kind of dark in the room and my iphone doesn't do a great job in low light but I think even with the poor quality you can see that this is a work of art. I want a sculpture of this pose.

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He makes me laugh.

Posted by laurie at 7:36 AM

February 16, 2011

The rain makes us all smarter and dumber at the same time. It's the humidity perhaps,

This morning had three high points:

5:30 a.m. - 6:45 a.m. - Successfully ignored feline chatter aimed at getting me up out of the cozy bed and down the stairs where the kitchen tiles are cold but the fancy feast is still waiting patiently in its can.

[NOTE: Once feline roommates begin using their flexible bones and joints to mimic thumbed creatures, this problem will be solved. Frankie solved the meow mix access issue years go by creating a delivery channel in the bag with her teeth so the meow mix could flow like a river whenever she is around.

[Further NOTE: The dry food is now stored high above in glass jars. Humans 1, Felines 0]

6:45 a.m. Best part of the day so far, coffee. Yes, I still use instant coffee, and I still love my electric kettle more than I have loved every man I dated from 2005-2011. Not that I dated anyone this year but it's a logical assumption that if it happens I will still like my coffee maker more, as men in L.A. seem to consist of only 60% real man. The rest is 20% pre-adolescent teenage boy, 15% woman, and 5% marijuana and/or porn addiction.

I made coffee in the cold downstairs tundra and brought my mug back upstairs in bed where it's cozy.

7:15 a.m. Assessed the day. This consisted of looking out window to see if it's really raining like THE MegaDoppler of DOOM!!! predicted. Followed by some if-then logic, as in "If it is raining then I will not go outside and walk." or "If it is clear, I will maybe go for a walk." All this fancy brain programming decided, "If it is today, then I will knit and watch movies in bed."

Executive decisions have been reached, goals have been outlined for the day, success is a path clearly charted.

I love days like this.

Posted by laurie at 8:22 PM

February 15, 2011

Mark it in your calendars: February 15, the day that winter arrived

Oh sure, you've had thirty-six feet of snow, but enough about you. Let's talk about poor little Los Angeles, where we have a change in the weather so huge and terrifying that it has been the lead story on every news channel.

Last night Dapper Dallas Raines showed us what is in store for the week. First, and most terrifyingly, there is a big red L in Arial Bold with swirly dingbats hovering in the clouds:

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And at some point in the week a big mass of blue arrows will arrive in Los Angeles:

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Finally, some giant blue robot teeth will descend upon the city and eat us all:

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I love watching the nightly weather here in Hollyweird. It's the most entertaining thing on television. Did I ever tell you I was our college TV station's weathergirl? I have been a weather nerd for as long as I can remember. When The Weather Channel first debuted I remember thinking it was the greatest invention since blue mascara. (I was younger then and had unusual priorities.)

We have all kinds of weather in the seven day forecast this week -- sun and clouds and rain and palm trees and I am already looking forward to seeing our local news anchors dressed in slickers and standing out on Ventura Boulevard doing man-on-the-street interviews about the mist. It's absolutely my favorite part of the news.

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Palm trees and clouds and raindrops oh my!

This is the first time in 16 years I can fully appreciate the rain in Los Angeles since I'm not commuting in it. I'm going to stay home and build a roaring fire (read: "flip the light switch that turns on my fake fireplace") and drink hot beverages while watching STORMWATCH 2011. And of course I will wear my Uggs, and probably wear my pajamas to the store.

Oh, I love you, crazy city of mine.


Posted by laurie at 7:30 AM

February 14, 2011

"Oh yeah, and Happy Valentine's Day..."

After texting back and forth in a fit of panic this morning, I just left an eleventy minute voicemail for Jennifer. It went something like this:

Hi! I'm home already. Yes, it's 10:02. I went to the class, just like I said I would. Because I follow through! I am a followthrougher! I drove my car to the campus, I parked my car, I got out and walked across campus to the aquatic center.

What I failed to realize when I signed up for this swimming class was that community college is a lot like high school. It is high school with ashtrays. There are teenage boys everywhere. The pool is open, outdoors, set right in the middle of campus and there were clumps of teenage boys wearing hoodies and baseball caps and baggy jeans slouching around watching the people in the pool. One of them had his cell phone out and was taking pictures of the hot lifeguard girl cleaning the pool.

I turned around and ran away like the wind. I could hear the voice in my head saying, "Run, Forrest, run!" Think of the calories I burned by NOT GOING TO THIS SWIM CLASS.

We have known each other a long time. There are many things in life I am afraid of. Like dying in an airplane crash. Or dying in a fiery inferno. Or perhaps a fiery airplane crash inferno. But right after that the thing I most fear is having my lardy ass photographed in my swimsuit by teenage boys and having it posted on the internet for laughs and internet captions.

Oprah says you will never see swimsuit pictures of her in the tabloids because she does not even own a swimsuit. Oprah is a wise woman! Why did I deviate from the Oprah? WHY? I am going to continue on my path to health and awesomeness by doing activities that require me to be fully clothed. Until I meet someone I may want to know Biblically and in that case we will do it with the lights off LIKE NORMAL PEOPLE.

So I'm going to forget this ever happened.

Oh, yeah, Happy Valentine's Day.

So that is my Monday so far. I am fully clothed and happy with it.

And oh yeah, Happy Valentine's Day!

Posted by laurie at 10:05 AM

February 10, 2011

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow!

My little personal mantra is "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." I'm sure I heard it first from someone smarter and wiser, or maybe the TV. I've been using it for a while.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that a good-enough choice is really good enough.

Today at the grocery store I found myself incapacitated by total indecision in the vegetable aisle. The organic cauliflower was not on sale (as usual) and seemed yuckier looking than normal. The non-organic cauliflower was on sale for only 88 cents a pound. That is a good deal on cauliflower, people. I tried to remember if cauliflower was on the Least 12 List and I just stood there in the produce area like a moron for a ridiculously long amount of time while I went back and forth between organic and non-organic.

OK, this is so not a big life problem. In the scheme of things it's somewhere between "that time my hands were cold" and "the day I learned the real words to that song I was singing wrong." But for perfectionists and crazy people (we look very similar! we are so very hard to tell apart!) the minute daily dilemmas are just an illustration of the way you live life. Your mind tells you to stick to the rules, whatever those rules may be. Of course the rules are often flawed and impossible to keep and arbitrary. Perfection is a myth.

I know all this but I am still hardwired a certain way. Which is why I was standing there at Ralph's until the perplexed produce guy asked me (again) if I needed help.

I grabbed the sale cauliflower and quickly exited the vegetable area. Good grief.

Obviously this little drama wasn't the stuff of novels and headlines, I'm not marching for freedom or solving the world's problems. Not everything in life is a grand moment. Most of living is small, daily life, chores and routines and little choices.

It's the smallest things that show you to yourself.

Posted by laurie at 11:36 AM

February 9, 2011

That's so funky

About a week ago the biggest headline here in Los Angeles was the lawsuit filed against Taco Bell claiming its beef tacos and burritos were not beefy enough to be called beef. Now Lindsay Lohan is the breaking news, because here in Los Angeles we have our priorities: celebrities, traffic, traffic caused by celebrities, awards season, and awards season traffic.

I didn't pay much attention to last week's Fast Foodgate because I don't normally think of Taco Bell as being a purveyor of fine quality protein anyway. The lawsuit reportedly claims that only 35% of the taco meat filling is actual beef. Thirty-five percent, eh? That leaves a whole lot of room for the crack cocaine they add to make the food addictive. Yet still I wasn't that freaked out. I don't eat at Taco Bell often enough for it to really set me off in a panic. I have a few million other things above it on my list of stuff to worry about.

But if you read carefully at the very bottom of this story from the Los Angeles Times (opens in a new window) according to the USDA, the term "beef" can be only be used on products containing at least 40% beef.

Now that gave me pause. Shouldn't something called "beef" be required to contain at least 50% of its namesake? And ideally, 100%? I can give you some leeway on spices, but when I make tacos at home it's still 99% meat and 1% spices.

I am not a scientist or a lawyer or even an ardent fan of Taco Bell. But as a normal(ish) American even I can see that there is something really wrong in a world where the government says it's OK to call something "beef" if it is 60% plastic and heroin and salt. That is like saying I am "tall" because I am at least 40% of the height of a supermodel. Or you could say I am "thin" because I am at least 40% made up of thinness.

Actually, now that I think about it, this new Taco Bell math could work for me! I have a scary birthday coming up eventually and I might not have to face it at all. I am, after all, at least 40% still a baby.

Well, done, Taco Bell math. Thank you.

Posted by laurie at 8:42 AM

February 7, 2011

The smell! Can you smell that smell!

Last week I went to the acupuncture doctor as I have been doing and he worked on my ankle. As he has been doing.

I have sprained and fractured and broken my ankles more times than you can say Toe Touch Jump! So I rehabbed it like you do and the acupuncture seemed to help. One day the goodlooking acupuncture doc even massaged my ankle which led me to proposition him accidentally.

After that he only stuck needles in my foot. No more massage for you!

Last week he came in after our session with a huge, wide piece of white adhesive medical tape. In the middle was a brown schmear the size of a postcard.

"I put this on your ankle, leave on for two days," he said.

"Uh, OK," I said. Because have I mentioned the acupuncture doctor is very goodlooking? I don't talk much around the hotness.

Later that day I was back at home, working at my desk. I noticed an odor and I wondered if the cats had made an extremely generous contribution to the box recently. It happens.

I cleaned the box, no abatement. As I worked the odor grew stronger. Since I am not a fast learner it took a while to realize the smell was coming from me. My ankle, to be exact. Whatever powerful herbal remedy was brewing on the bandage was stinking up my whole office with a vengeance. Was it possible I was sitting in my chair with extruded iguana feces on my ankle? It smelled possible.

I thought about the repercussions of being stinkified. Pros and cons were weighed, mental lists happened, stuff was considered. In the end, I stayed stunk up. AND GLORIOUSLY SO! Why not? I filed this away under Reason 519 that I am happy to be single and not living with another human.

And my ankle feels good today! Bring on the extruded iguana poo!

Posted by laurie at 7:46 PM

February 4, 2011

Winners and thanks and the rest of you get started on the book!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the book club giveaway! The five winners chosen at random were Lacy S., Julia, Trisha R., Ginger and Vikki. I alerted the readers who won by email so if your name is on this short list please check your email for a note. Selection is very scientific. Usually I filter out the duplicates then call my mom and ask her to pick numbers at random. Apparently she had better things to do on a Friday night, so I used random.org to pick today's winners. Isn't the internet a weird and wonderful thing? You can order anything to be shipped to you from just about anywhere, you can get the news, watch cats play piano and have random numbers calculated for you at the click of a button.

How did we live without it all those years? What did we used to do? Have actual conversations with live humans in the flesh? So vintage!

I hope you'll find your way to a copy of When We Were Strangers and check back in on Monday, March 7, 2011 to chitchat about the book. The author, Pamela Schoenewaldt, will be stopping by later that week and answering your questions ... all from the secluded, cozy comfort of your own private internet.

Have a great weekend!

Posted by laurie at 4:40 PM

February 3, 2011

New Book Club Selection: When We Were Strangers

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This month's book club selection is When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt. You can get it at amazon.com in paperback format or on your kindle (and also as a Nookbook).

OR, as you can see in the picture, you can win one of five copies right here! Harper Collins was generous enough to send me these copies (plus one for me to read, too) and five lucky readers will win a freebie book.

To enter, just post a hello in the comments section. You do need to include your email address and if you do not want that email address visible (it's only visible as you hover over your name with a mouse) then fill in the field just below email address that says "URL." You can just type in crazyauntpurl.com there if you want. People seem to freak about their email, and I am not a super code machine that can fix much of anything on this website, so I embrace the Buddhist fudge it philosophy.

Anyone of any age on planet earth is eligible to win. I do ask that you restrain yourself, though, if you aren't actually planning to read this book in the next four weeks.

And the best part about this month's book club is that the author has agreed to do a question & answer with all of us. So, on Monday, March 7, 2011 we'll meet back here to talk about the book and you all can ask any questions you might have and later that week (or so, give her some time) the author will chime in with answers to your questions.

Here is the Publisher's Weekly description of the book:

Schoenewaldt's heartbreaking debut is the late 19th century immigrant coming-of-age story of poor, plain Irma Vitale. When Irma's mother dies, she warns her 16-year-old daughter that leaving their little Italian village dooms her to die among strangers. A few years later, Irma, frightened of her increasingly lustful father, leaves her village and, armed only with her sewing skills and a small dowry, secures passage on the Servia, where she meets the first in a series of helpful strangers who will color, shape, and add the occasional zest of danger (her face is scarred by the time she disembarks) to her journeys. In America, her friendships with a few determined women--Lula, an African-American cook; Molly, an Irish maid; and Sofia, an Italian nurse--help keep her afloat and moving from a Cleveland sweatshop, through misery and rejuvenation in Chicago, and, finally, to the lush hills in San Francisco. Though some plot turns are played too melodramatically, Irma's adventures and redeeming evolution make this a serious book club contender.


Well, I personally am into melodramatic (have you heard me tell the story of how I got my first Brazilian bikini wax? It's practically a soap opera!) so I am all in to this book. I will be reading it for the first time along with you and have no idea what to expect. It just seemed like the perfect fiction escape from February.

Pamela, the author, has also offered to share some of her stories about her time living in Italy and so if you have questions about that as you read the book, be sure to ask on book chat day.

So that's this month's Book Club with a twist -- five free books up for grabs! The comments will close tomorrow night so I can email the winners and get the books shipped out on Saturday. Good luck!

Posted by laurie at 10:22 AM

February 2, 2011

That wind-blown look

We have Santa Ana winds blowing everywhere. When I first moved to Los Angeles eleventeen years ago I did not realize that a place with very little weather could have so much crazyass wind.

My houseguest canceled on me and my swimming class got postponed because the pool is leaking or something, and my TV isn't working ... all I get is this when I turn it on:

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All the channels look furry!


- - -

Tomorrow I'm announcing the new book club selection with a twist. But when is the best day for us to meet back and talk about it? Is a month too short? It feels short. But Mid-March is spring break, right? Let me know what you think is a reasonable amount of time to read a normal-sized fiction book (it's not Pillars of The Earth, promise.)

Though if we ever do pick a humongous book as a book club read it will also count as that month's cardio.

- - -

Bob does cardio:

bob-does-cardio.jpg

Posted by laurie at 11:44 AM