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July 31, 2011

Because weekends were made for Hollywood fun.

My friend and also-blogger Neil Kramer is in town. On Friday night he and I went to the Cinerama dome at the Hollywood Arclight to see a screening of Another Earth.

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Me and Neil. Our necks look weird. Why?

Here's the thing about Los Angeles... every Friday night is an opportunity to sit around and talk about your dreams, man. And this is a town of bigass dreams. The film was followed by a Q&A with director Mike Cahill and the lead actress, Britt Marling. They came right out in front of the audience and chatted and answered questions (most of which were some form of, "So how did you crew a film with only four people?" and "How did you get funding for your film which featured a crew of four sometimes and used a cherrypicker as a crane?" and "How did you get into Sundance and eventually score a development deal with Fox Searchlight?")

I love L.A. You all know these past few months have been insane for me, what with the next door neighbor trying to murder me in my sleep and the car accident and my best friend moving away to San Francisco and that time I got that bad haircut. I started fantasizing about leaving, abandoning the sinking ship of traffic, brown air and organic dry cleaning. But how can I ever leave this place? How do I leave? I'm ruined for other cities. I'm spoiled by our smog and movies that screen with the actual director and Korean BBQ that delivers at midnight.

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The movies are a total scene on a weekend.

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Those shadowy figures down at the bottom near the movie screen are the director and lead actress.

After the film Neil and I walked around Hollywood and played tourist, taking snapshots of local landmarks. That is where I saw actress Casey Wilson who plays Penny Hartz on Happy Endings. Ya'll, she is so cute! But the photo I tried to snap all surreptitiously was bad so just use your imagination.

Later Neil and I ducked into a Thai place off Sunset for dinner, in which we both kind of pretended to be on a date so I could practice for my actual upcoming dates (!!) which I may or may not tell you about depending on how things go. Neil is one of my favorite people, he's smart and has a good heart and he's genuine. I call him sometimes when I'm chardonnay and he doesn't mind. He's known me long enough to know that if you put me on a spectrum of dating disorders, though, I'd be in the non-functional autistic zone.

So we're having dinner to help prepare me for my maybe upcoming date and Neil says, "I don't understand why you have a hard time meeting guys. What's wrong with you?"

"I don't have a hard time meeting guys," I said. "I have a hard time meeting guys who are age-appropriate."

"What, are they too old? Not tall enough? Not Al Gore?" he asked.

"No, like they're 25! Every dude who comes on to me in real life is 25. I can't do that. I can't even bring myself to say the word cougar," I said. "I can't go below 30. (anymore) It's unseemly."

"What's wrong with 25?" he asked. "Might be fun."

"Well it is. But like, I'm a chick, I can't be doing that stuff anymore. I have to like, grow up or something. Also, I have to stop saying 'like' every six words," I said, like, to Neil.

Our pretend date went great, mostly because we're friends and we weren't on a date and I can tell Neil anything and we spent the rest of the night talking about his divorce. Totally the antithesis of real dating.

Then we were attacked by a rabid roaming gang of juvenile delinquents and Neil fought them off heroically and got a black eye but managed to put a teenage miscreant in a sleeper hold to get my handbag back.*

(*None of that happened, but Neil stipulated that any story about him on my website had to feature him fighting crime.)

Oh, also we had these amazing crab rolls:

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And when I was trying to get a picture of Casey Wilson I got this guy instead but I liked the picture:

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Perfect weekend.

Posted by laurie at 8:16 PM

July 29, 2011

It's time to clean the desk

The dust balls are getting huge.

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Yes, I'm alive, I've just been working my little snausage fingers to the bone. Which, with snausages, means you end up with normal-sized fingers at the end. Fairy tale updated!

I would also like to tell you about online dating but that would imply I have broken my years-long anti-online-dating stance and I shall admit no such thing. So let us all do it hypothetically and say the following:

1) Hypothetically, it seems that online dating is no different from real-life dating. The guys prefer to make the first move. If the female makes first contact the female gets sent to the death star.

2) The Death Star is fine, that's where I meet most guys in real life anyway. Though I call it "the grocery store."

3) However, this one aspect of online dating takes away from its catalog-esque appeal. Being window dressing is boooooring.

4) It's actually much more fun to go shopping at Amazon or Zappos or Etsy because you find something you like, you give it your address and it shows up and doesn't try to murder you or tell you you're fat. No wonder online shopping feels so good. It's practically therapeutic.

5) Mind you, I haven't actually gone on a date. I've only been caught in the (hypothetical) electronic web of blabbery that precedes a date.

Remember when it was considered pervy and creepy and flat-out pathetic to date online? Well if you don't remember that far back in time then get up off your chair right this second and go peer into a mirror and appreciate your poreless, unlined skin with no crow's feet and think about that time last week when you got carded.

The rest of us will be over here thinking that maybe we should run off and start a country called Old Fashioned Iowa where people meet through mutual friends, bake sales and whatever other Leave It To Beaver dating fantasies we hold from tenth grade.

Not that it's impossible to meet people in Metropolis. I got hit on last week while pumping gas. He had a teardrop etched underneath his left eye. Perhaps it was a symbol of his deep emotional maturity?

Ah, city life. You are so funny with your freeways and psychopaths.

I do have some good news for you today. Remember that terrible haircut I got back in May that I paid $13 for and then felt completely unable to complain about because it was so cheap and yet so bad? No? Probably because I felt dumb complaining about a bad $13 haircut. ANYWAY. It's grown out enough that I can go sheepishly visit my real hair magic man and get it fixed. And I'm in one of those "maybe I should get a beehive as a tribute to Amy Winehouse" moods so you have no idea what this day may bring.

Keepin' it fresh, people.

Posted by laurie at 9:18 AM

July 27, 2011

Summertime, when the living is easy

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Posted by laurie at 9:19 AM

July 22, 2011

Yawning on the job

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Posted by laurie at 1:22 PM

July 21, 2011

Dude, you have a problem.

Yesterday I was sorting through my pictures when I found a little gem that I snapped on my flight from Atlanta to Daytona Beach last month. I know I posted this on twitter when it happened, but I didn't post it here.

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That dude on the aisle read his Playboy magazine during most of the flight. He didn't seem to mind that there were families and small children all around. He even did a full-on head tilt when he got to the centerfold.

Seriously. How bad is your addiction to porn if you can't even sit through a one-hour flight without looking at naked ladies? Mon dieu!

Posted by laurie at 10:45 AM

July 20, 2011

More walk talk

Ya'll know when I get on a topic I am like a dog with a bone so we are still walking and talking! Thanks for sharing your motivators, it's kind of a relief to see that not every human feels particularly thrilled about working out every day, but so many still do it daily and feel good after the fact.

Before I get to some of the Q&A from the comments, I have a question of my own here today:

I found a guided super-beginner level hike that I want to try and the description says to wear pants, bring water, and bring lugsoles.

Uh. I am assuming from the word "soles" that lugsoles are shoes, which made me realize that hiking might require something a little different than my Nike running shoes.

I know that some of you all are avid hikers and outdoorsy folks, and I would love your suggestions and recommendations for whatever the heck a lugsole is. Or whatever hiking shoe you like the best. Or even where to purchase a hiking shoe. I don't have a large amount of money here to spend on supplies, but I would invest in a great pair of shoes if it will help me to not die on my first ever hike.

- - -

I am not very outdoorsy. If I stop posting for a few months, send someone looking for me in the Santa Monica Mountains. Thanks!

- - -

Christi said:

I'll tell what really helps keep you motivated to exercise: having an exercise buddy. On those days when you want to stay in bed, knowing your buddy is waiting for you gets you OUT of bed. And if your exercise buddy is a dog, believe me, they won't let you rest till you've gone on your walk (or run, as the case may be).

I noticed that many of you said the same thing and I am taking this to heart. My friend Corey offered to do a Zumba class with me -- I've never tried it and I often feel ridiculous going to new exercise adventures on my own. So I am taking her up on this offer and just emailed her a whole long list of local classes, days and times we can try. I would probably cancel on my own but if I know she's driving here to meet me I definitely will not cancel.

When I was in Florida last month my sister-in-law invited me to go on her walk one morning over the intercoastal bridge. She meets up there with friends regularly. I tagged along and it was so much fun! Then the next day we went to Curves, something I would never have tried on my own, and I really had fun meeting Kelli's friends and working out with them. I'm famously uncoordinated and that still hasn't changed, but her friends were really nice and funny and laughed with me (not at me, much) as I tried not to fall of the Curves machines.

So, just wanted to thank everyone again for sharing their motivators with me. I'm taking this one to heart -- I even asked Corey and Jen to go on the beginner hike with me so that I won't cancel at the last minute. We haven't set a date yet but we will.

- - -

Allison wrote:

I'm trying to get motivated to do something about my extra 90 pounds before it's an extra 100. I went to the gym after work every day for years, quit when I got laid off and then started back when I got a job. Had to stop. Making less money, but really it was the time. Up at 5, out the door before 7, home a little after 6. Weekends are mostly for all the chores we can't get to during the week. I haven't seen the makeover show, but I have seen Biggest Loser, which ... seems to prove weight loss is only possible if you can exercise 6 to 8 hours a day and eat prepackaged foods. I can't do that, therefore there is no hope. Depressing. I know something would be better than nothing, but when? How do people with no control over their work schedules make fitness happen? I'm as short of sleep as I can go, but that's the only place I see to steal any time from. But I HAVE to figure something out.

I immediately gravitated to this comment because I absolutely know that trapped feeling of desperation when your life becomes a monotony of eat-sleep-work-drive-clean-repeat.

If you have been reading this here diary for any length of time you already know that I have been struggling with my weight and health since my divorce in the ancient year 1775. It was not getting better -- in fact, as time moved on and my schedule became more and more insane, it got worse. I worried I was becoming like one of those ladies you see on the Dr. Oz show who says they still haven't lost the baby weight... and their kid is 25 years old now. After a while I just began to worry that I was dying before I was dead.

I made some very drastic changes to my life last year. Not every person will want or need to go that far -- I live on less than half of my old income, I gave up a lot of security and safety and that can be terrifying. But I had to change. So now I focus on what I've gained instead of what I've lost: I'm alive! I have a positive feeling about the future. I'm healthier than I have been in a ridiculously long time (and I'm only halfway "there" which should give you an idea of how out of sorts I had become.)

That old self-helpy line that "Nothing changes if nothing changes..." is true. It can be a little change -- you could get an exercise bike and put it in front of the TV and commit to ten minutes a day, or buy salad in a bag every day this week instead of fast food, or splurge for one month on a housecleaner, or just decide it's more important to go for a walk each Sunday instead of cleaning the house. You can make a big change like I did and up-end your life with a new kind of working arrangement and a serious reshuffling of priorities. But you have to change your life to change your life.

Here's the best example I can think about to illustrate this:

You hate your job. You work long hours for less money, you're miserable and the only comfort is eating a big, warm meal and de-stressing in front of the TV. You gain weight and feel even worse about your situation. You desperately want to get a new job but you think the weight you've gained will hold you back in job interviews. It makes you feel less confident. You tell yourself you'll start searching for a new job when your life improves, when you lose weight. But nothing is improving. That makes you feel even less in control, and more depressed, and each day is just a tightly compressed coil winding in on itself.

SOUND FAMILIAR?

If nothing changes, then nothing changes. You can start small and build up or go big but you have to do something. I worried that making this huge change would set me back professionally and financially forever but I did it anyway -- I was willing to take that risk to get my life back. I definitely still worry about money and security and my future but you know what? I worried about all that stuff before, too. Now I am just doing it from a healthier vantage point.

All this is to say I understand the desperate, sad, depressed feeling that was so clear in your comment. I was there. The only person who could improve my life was me, I work on it every day. It is work, don't get me wrong, and it takes commitment and time and energy to get healthy when you're almost 100 pounds overweight. But I am telling you it can be done, I do it a little more every day. At least my bus is out of the ditch and going in the right direction.

There are small changes you can make without uprooting your whole life -- I have tried therapy, acupuncture, meditation (I still can't get that one at all), new foods, new ways of approaching problems, new activities. Not everything has worked but just trying different ways of living happier and healthier makes me feel good. Feeling good is the goal, right? You have to find something that makes you light up. I walk because psychologically it makes me have an improved feeling about life and physically it improves my body. I'm not going to turn into a fitness model or run a marathon next week. The goal here is improvement not perfection.

I don't have all the answers, I only wanted to give you a word-hug and let you know I have been in that place. Every change comes with some discomfort and even fear. It's a trade-off, it's part of life. Perhaps we just get to a point where change becomes preferable to staying the same. My life today isn't perfect and every day isn't rainbows and unicorns, but it is so much better than it was. I hope you can find a way to a better feeling day and string a bunch of them together.

Don't give up! It's never too late to change your life.

- - -

Chris asked:

Now that you've inspired me to get moving, do you have any suggestions for non-chaffing shorts to walk in?

Hi Chris! I saw in Target the other day that they've made the same flat-seam pants I love into knee-length capris and shorts.
Link to the pants (I wear these everyday! I started in a size XXL and now I'm in a L, thanks in part to the looong walks I can take with no seams chafing my legs!)
Link to the capri pants version
Link to the shorts

I have not worn shorts since the earth was a molten ball, but let me know if those work for you! I don't work for Target or make money off these pants, I just like to share when I find a product that actually works. There is no way I could make a 7-mile walk without chafe-free pants!

- - -

Diana asked:

Laurie, a question for you. When you walk, do you walk at a leisurely pace like you're sightseeing, a brisk pace like you're late for something, or a crazy man in spandex shorts powerwalking pace with your hips swinging back and forth? Just want to figure out what I should be aiming for.

I work full-time and have a 2 year old and it's almost impossible to find even 30 minutes to work out. Before baby I went to Jazzercise 3 days a week and loved it. But the class times are no longer convenient for me. I do have a treadmill and an Ipod and am just struggling to fit it in. Once the weather gets to a humanly bearable temperature I'd love to walk outside after the boy's in bed and the dishes are clean.

Hi Diana!

Today I walked at a pretty leisurely pace (3 miles/hour for one hour.) I was overzealous last week when it was so mild outside and I overdid it so this week I'm taking it easy.

Usually I walk at 3.5 miles/hour and do between one and a half or two hours each morning, which is between five and seven miles. At least one day a week I walk in the hills for 3 miles and on flat sidewalks for another 2-3 miles (hills are more strenuous than sidewalks, obviously.) If I am feeling really crazy I might jog (on flat surfaces) just for a tiny bit in little bursts but that almost never happens.

Sometimes I use my exercise bike, too, and I ride for a few minutes while I watch TV. Tonight I'm going to do that since I had a fairly unathletic walk today.

My goal right now is to increase my fitness level a little bit every day and lose weight so I exercise more than an average person would need for maintenance. I don't have any interest in running, but I do want to get in good enough shape to be able to take on a moderately strenuous hike and not keel over or embarrass myself. All those years stuck inside my car three hours a day commuting (and then in an office) made me forget how much I like being outside! I feel happy when I'm outdoors. It seems like hiking would be a really good goal for me and that's my little personal fitness marker.

Since I don't have kids I'm never sure how people fit anything in when they're moms -- most of my friends have kids and their lives amaze me with all they have to do! I have no idea how to incorporate a kid into working out but I'm sure that plenty of readers will have some ideas. My only suggestion would be to forget the dishes until after your walk, I think anything is more fun than doing dishes...


- - -


One last question, this one also from me:

For all you folks in the Pacific Northwest and other rainy areas, do you walk/run/exercise outdoors on rainy days? If so, do you need anything special to wear? I don't want to feel like I can never leave Los Angeles just because I might lump up and melt with some rain.

We haven't had rain in so long I forgot what it looks like!

- -

Thanks everyone for not rolling your eyes dramatically with all this walking talk. I'm sure that tomorrow we'll be back to knitting or cat poop or traffic...

Posted by laurie at 11:23 AM

Super close-up

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Posted by laurie at 10:14 AM

July 19, 2011

Good Question

First, a little look at the weather here in The San Fernando Valley:

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Dude! It's hot!

- - -

So, Karen S. asked me a question on Twitter the other day and it really got me thinking. I mentioned something about walking and she asked:

Can you pinpoint the moment when you went from "this sucks" to "this is amazing." I can't get to the crossover point.

If we're being completely honest here, which we are, I'm not sure there is an exercise tipping point. Or if there is I haven't found it yet. Instead it's more like any activity that you have to do, it has benefits and irritations. There are days I do not want to do it. The biggest hurdle is making time for activity every single day, even for me, and I work from home. While I no longer commute three hours a day I still have to move exercise to the top of the list or else it won't happen.

There's that whole law of motion thing going on -- you know, an object that sits on its butt stays on its butt. If I miss too many days in a row I feel inertia coming on strong, so I try to keep moving even if it's just a little bit here and there. That's how I've have made the transition from sedentary to active. It was definitely a process, it did not happen overnight. It's taken me about a year to really make this my life.

The benefits are worth the trade-offs, though. All the blabby stuff everyone tells you about exercise is actually true. Stamina and fitness will improve and so will sleeping, energy levels, even blood pressure improves. But everyone already knows that stuff. Maybe it's enough to keep some people motivated every day but I need a little more.

So here's my motivation: alleviation of embarrassment. A few days ago I saw one of my neighbors in the parking lot and she was struggling with her groceries so I offered to help carry some of them up for her. We both live on the top floor of the building, up three flights of stairs. In the past I would have been huffing at the top of the stairs (and really embarrassed) but now it's no big thing at all to go up some stairs carrying heavy bags. I wasn't even out of breath. This is a major accomplishment and one I feel really happy about!

I still have a ways to go in the physical fitness arena, so when I notice improvements I hang on to them. Usually it's enough to get me out the door and on the pavement. On days when I don't feel motivated I just do it anyway and hope that motivation eventually shows up.

Has anybody else been walking and seeing improvements in your life? (Comments are open today.) I'd love to hear what keeps you going even on the days you want to stay in bed.

ALSO! Is anyone else watching Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition? If so, do you also think it is nuts to lose 150 pounds in three months? I wonder if they'll do a follow-up special later in the year to see if people are maintaining their weight. I can't imagine that would be a lifestyle anyone could sustain for long, but I guess anything is possible. The lady in last night's show looked amazing at the end. I am such a sucker for a good transformation story!

Posted by laurie at 7:42 AM

July 18, 2011

Three corner cats

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Posted by laurie at 1:27 PM

Professional Sleeper

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Posted by laurie at 1:15 PM

Hot pants

Today I'm nostalgic for 1980s music videos. My whole teen and pre-teen era was filled with a deep longing to be just like the girls in music videos. I remember watching Madonna sing "Dress You Up (in my love)" and desperately needing a bright paisley jacket and some purple lace leggings.

My parents did not feel the same way and I think I am still a little mad about it.

The 1980s were so colorful, especially compared to the drab head-to-toe black ensembles that have become the dress code since post-grunge. When I saw the cover of the latest Anthropologie catalog I had an immediate happy feeling about the bright green jeans.

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In the seventh grade I owned a pair of purple jeans that I thought were the absolute ultimate in cool. Seeing the colored skinny jeans on the catalog cover reminded me of them. How I loved those purple jeans. And paisley. I was crazy for paisley and had quite the array of patterned shirts, belts and pants ("the paramecium years.") I never found a Maddonna-esque paisley jacket, though. In the 9th grade my best friend and I saved all our money for six months to buy matching jackets with a big embroidered pyramid and eyeball on the back because we thought they looked a little like Madonna's jacket in the movie Desperately Seeking Susan. I think I wore that jacket every single day the whole winter of my freshman year.

It feels like a stroke of luck that I grew up in the 1980s. For a long time I thought the return of 1980s fashion was a direct sign of mass hysteria, but now I think it's kind of cheerful and hopeful. I could definitely see myself in some purple jeans again.

Posted by laurie at 1:08 PM

July 17, 2011

Hiberknitting

My handbag has become the holder of hats, it seems that every day I'm knitting another hipster hat. It's the perfect little project to take along with you wherever you go, it requires almost no counting or fussing and since you knit a lot of stockinette for a long time without decreasing it's great TV knitting for when you're summer hibernating. And by "you" I mean "me."

This is all the exact same colorway of Noro Taiyo but I sort of re-jiggered the colorways to suit me. I didn't like the lime greean and black in the middle of the other colors so I started cutting it out of the skein and after a while I had a big ball of yarn for a black/white/green hat. Noro is still my favorite yarn of all time, I like the crazy color surprises. And now that I've been knitting for a while I'm not at all weirded out by cutting up a skein or two of yarn and making my own color combinations.

Most of my hats are little gifts, I know quite a few hipster hat wearin' individuals.

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Posted by laurie at 4:58 PM

Now we're just waiting for the sequel...

Carmageddon came and went, apparently residents of the city were sufficiently scared out of their damn minds and they avoided all driving to all places at all times. The weekend was virtually traffic free! Which means when the sequel comes around next year and they do this all over again to tear down the other half of the bridge, people will think Carmageddon was a non-event and no one will heed the warnings to stay off the roads and there will be gridlock.

Just a prediction.

I did not drive anywhere. I walked to all my destinations, most of which were inside my own apartment. When I was out for my daily hike through the neighborhood I did see more folks walking and a little less traffic on the boulevard. There were plenty of news trucks parked here and there along the route, though all of the reporters looked a little sad that the city wasn't mired in traffic.

The guy who lives in the apartment across from mine (across a very small alley, in another building) had a big Carmageddon party where all the guests stood out on the balcony and chatted and smoked. As the night wore on the guests got louder and I could clearly hear my neighbor pitching his next script idea: "OK, so they close the freeway for construction and while demolishing the bridge the workers discover a portal that leads them back in time to the day the bridge was built!"

"Or what about a big group of homeless people, right? Like, displaced from the bridge..." said Another Person.

"Do people still live under bridges?" asked Third Person.

Then my neighbor had a stroke of brilliance.

"Hobo camp but with aliens!" he shouted. And you could hear everyone clinking wineglasses.

Crazy city.

Posted by laurie at 4:43 PM

July 12, 2011

Countdown to Carmageddon

As you have probably heard by now, poor little Los Angeles is about to implode and self-destruct and everyone is losing their damn minds and just as soon as I finish making fun of it some more I myself am heading off to the pet shop for extra cat litter and then to the grocery store for supplies because you may be right, we may be crazy, but we just may be the lunatics you're looking for.

It's called Carmageddon. The 405 freeway is shutting down on Friday night and not re-opening until Monday morning. If you don't live here you might think that's not really such a big deal because people can just take alternate routes, right? That's logical but it's not really how things work in this town. The streets of Los Angeles are more like a game of Pac-Man where you're caught in one of those wonky loops with ghosts on your tail and there's no way out.

The mayor and the city council have advised people to leave the city. And if you can't leave the city you are to stock up on groceries, stay home, and hope to get raptured into a carpool lane.

I'm not sure if this will turn out to be a non-event (like that one time it was supposed to rain really hard and the mayor advised the city to stock up on food and supplies... for a day of rain...) or if it really will turn out to be a cartastrophe of epic proportions.

Los Angeles -- never a dull moment here!

Posted by laurie at 10:59 AM

July 11, 2011

Monday notes

1) Discovered this little gem at the supermarket:

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Although it tastes a lot like a carton of mashed-up fudgesicles, I love any food item that gives you the calorie count for the entire container. This is truth in advertising.

2) No matter the location or size or cost, all my Los Angeles apartments seem to go through the same boring ritual. First, the garbage disposal dies (this usually happens the first week I move in.) Shortly thereafter the A/C dies. It was really hot on Friday and my air conditioning sputtered out around 5 p.m., just in time for everyone to be closed and unavailable to fix it. By a complete stroke of luck I was heading out the door on Saturday morning to buy another fan and I saw the maintenance guy -- the same one who fixed my garbage disposal. He fixed the air conditioning, he is magic. Thank goodness, since this apartment is quite the little heatbox. If I ever decide to leave this crazy city I'm going somewhere cold.

3) Which brings me to hiberknitting. I've been on a hipster hat binge lately, and just last night completed my fourth hat while watching streaming episodes of Friday Night Lights. Jennifer got me irrevocably hooked on that show and it's perfect summer hibernation viewing.

4) The sweater, on the other hand... is stalled. I wanted a really open weave looking sweater which is a much looser gauge than the pattern and so I'm off on my row gauge (obviously) and it was too much headache for me to manipulate the math of the pattern right now. I'll figure it out some other time. Plus the yarn I picked was awfully shiny. I'm not giving up on this project but I'm not sure what I will do next on it, so for now it's on hiatus.

5) Speaking of hiatus, The Closer is back from break and starts the seventh season tonight. I didn't realize this was the final season. Oh, Brenda Leigh Johnson. I'll miss you. I have watched you in four residences at all different weird ass stages of life and you have not disappointed.

6) I think I might knit another pair of Noro gloves. I still have yarn left and I remember how much I loved that project last summer. Those gloves have probably gotten the most wear of all my handknit items, I wore them all winter long whether I needed them or not.

7) Summer also means hibernation for the bears (cats):

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BOB NEEDS PEACE AND QUIET NOW.

Posted by laurie at 10:51 AM

July 6, 2011

Florida, part 2

Hello from sweaty Los Angeles which today feels more like Florida than I care to admit. Humidity -- you are no friend of mine. My hair loves you, though.

Today we have more pictures from my vacation to Florida where I visited with my brother and his family, chased their dog around the living room, tried new and unfamiliar things such as fried chicken sushi. I forgot to take a picture of it so you'll have to trust me on this, but one night we went out to dinner and there was sweet potato sushi (which was actually delicious) and fried chicken sushi, which was oddly confusing to my tastebuds. My brain was wondering why there was soy sauce instead of gravy. Old-fashioned brain!

But before sushi and after our drive on the beach where we DROVE A VEHICLE ON THE BEACH right next to human beings and it kind of freaked me out because it's so wrong and so right all at the same time, where was I? Oh yes, we were off to visit Ponce Inlet, Florida where we passed the beautiful Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse:

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IT WAS THAT BIG.

As we were driving past the lighthouse I thought I noticed people walking around the tee-tiny-far-away top, so I asked my nephew Andrew if visitors were allowed up the lighthouse. He looked at me for half a second, then yelled, "YES!" with the excitement only ten-year-old boys and dorky aunts get about such things. My brother was a good sport, ready to see the attractions in his home turf and we were off.

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Guy and Andrew, looking cute.

The lighthouse has over 200 stairs that wind up in a tight little spiral. I'm not sure you can tell what a climb it is from this picture, but this was taken at the half-way point of the climb:

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Just for a moment in our travelogue I want to take a personal detour and tell you how excited and happy I was that I could haul my butt up 200+ stairs in a cramped little room with no air conditioning in the middle of a Florida summer day and not die. In fact I not only lived, I was perfectly fine climbing those stairs at a pretty good clip. I was a little out of breath at the top but it was the normal stuff any person should feel after climbing up a ton of stairs all at one time. I sweated like I was a human waterfall, and that was gross, but I wasn't any more winded or worked up than the average Joe and I cannot tell you how EXCITED I was about this triumph of body over couch potato nature.

It reminded me in big bold letters why I wake up every day and go for a walk no matter what: I love being able to participate in life instead of watching from the sidelines.

Waiting on the sidelines, waiting for one day, all of it becomes a habit. After a while it became my lifestyle. I don't feel sad about it or have regret or feel like I wasted time, all I feel right now is happy that I've progressed. It truly is possible to turn a sinking ship around. It doesn't happen overnight and it requires effort but it's worth every minute. There's something indescribably satisfying about saying I WANT TO CLIMB UP THAT LIGHTHOUSE AND SEE THE VIEW! and knowing that you can actually do it. And then doing it. And I appreciate it so much more now than I did before, before I started sinking.

This is personal stuff and not my most comfortable area of conversation but I tell you all this because somewhere out there someone is wondering if it is possible to get better and it is possible! As long as you are breathing there is still time. If you had seen me this time last year you would have bet cash money on my dying by stairstep #14. Sure, I still fantasize about my life "one day" and what it will be like (out of habit, mostly). I still need some work under the hood. I'm not even half way. But dammit, I am not giving up. At least I'm not a total spectator anymore.

So I figure this is why God gave me a human body, to use it to climb up a metric buttload of stairs and see the beauty of nature and feel good about being alive and then go off and eat fried chicken sushi and tell you all about it.

Back to the travelogue! Here is the view from the top of the lighthouse, so worth it:

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You get rewarded for the climb -- not just with a breathtaking view -- but with a big ol' breeze that cools you off:

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Guy and Andrew, trying not to blow away.

"I've seen this lighthouse a hundred times from my boat," said Guy. "But I've never been inside it until just today. This is pretty darn cool, sis."

I agreed!


We stayed up there for a long while just enjoying the day. On the climb down you really notice how crazy steep the stairs are. I made the dudes pause midway so I could take a picture:

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So it was a perfect vacation, a vacation full of laughing and talking and eating great food and conquering lighthouses and, just in case I didn't already mention it, driving a vehicle on a beach.

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Oh, lonely traffic cone.

Can't leave without one last look at the Puff:

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WHY COME NOBODY LOVE PUFF ENOUGH TO GIVE PUFF BACON SANDWICH?

Posted by laurie at 4:35 PM

July 5, 2011

FOUND IT

After a week of having no idea at all where my camera had run off to with my beautiful pictures of vacation and family, I discovered it hiding in the bottom of my shoe bowl.

So many exciting things about that sentence, including "shoe bowl."

Some years ago I acquired a huge rattan bowl sculpture thingy that I originally tried to make into a cat bed with no success. Eventually it became my shoe bowl and I keep it by the front door to hold all my orangutans shoes. How my camera came to rest at the bottom of it is a mystery to all of us, even the flip flops.

And now the camera is making some weird mechanical noises when the lens opens and shuts, nice!, but nevermind all that, because I have vacation pictures to share.

For my birthday my brother Guy gave me all his frequent flier miles and I went out to visit him and his wife Kelli and their kids, Brett and Andrew. It was so much fun! Everyone scoffed at me, "Florida in June! You so crazy!" but it was a great little vacation and fun was had by all.

Many shenanigans transpired between yours truly and one Prince Andrew:

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He's ten, the perfect age. One cannot be depressed or lethargic or dumbstruck over one's momentous stupid birthday when one is clowning around and discussing Mortal Kombat with a ten year old boy. IMPOSSIBLE.

And I met Puff! This is Puff:

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Behind the scenes, Puff silently endured some beautifying for the photo shoot:

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My brother and his family live in this amazing beautiful home that would cost one bazillion dollars in Los Angeles County. Their pool has a waterfall, and it's all screened in so you don't have mosquitoes or dust or interlopers, which I think is brilliant:

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Basically it was like staying at a five-star resort without the tedious little hassle of having to pay for it. And they drove me around everywhere. By my citified "I have a view of an alley" standards, their home is out in the lush countryside. How do I know this? I present to you their intersection:

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Turtle, dude. At a crossroads. So much metaphor.

While I was there Guy took a day off work to show me the sights in Daytona Beach, which includes a beach that you can DRIVE ON. In a CAR. I don't need to tell you the forty-nine hundred reasons this is a bad idea and why it could never be legal in Los Angeles and how much traffic there would be here while people literally drove into the ocean and honked at seagulls and stuff, so I am just going to show you the pretty and also CRAZY pictures of my brother driving his enormous truck on THE BEACH.

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Tomorrow I have more pictures of beautiful coastal Florida (seriously, Florida, your beaches are pretty terrific, even though you can apparently DRIVE on them, which is nuts) and I have pictures of a lighthouse which we climbed, my first ever. It had something like seven million stairs and I was completely fine with that but did not realize until too late that very old lighthouses in Florida are not air conditioned. Whoops.

But before I go... MORE PUFF.

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Oh, the cute.


Posted by laurie at 10:15 AM

One day

All that time and energy I spend thinking about what life will be like one day just prevents me from living my own real life., right here. Obviously there are some benefits to "one day." When my thoughts and feelings are tied up in a fantasy of who I will be, what I will wear, who I will be with, where I will live, what car I will drive one day then I'm not forced to think about or deal with my feelings about where I live right now, or look like right now, or wear right now, or anything RIGHT NOW.

The downside is that everything feels far away, and long-sought-after, and unfulfilled.

Posted by laurie at 9:48 AM