03 July 2008

Boom boom room

I spent three weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico a few years ago and even have a whole superdetailed and LONG blog made up of my photos and journal entries from my trip. If you ever have persistent, incurable insomnia, reading it might be helpful to you.

One of the things I learned while staying there is that Mexicans - at least Oaxacans - enjoy fireworks of a quantity and quality unheard of in the United States of America and they put them to use at the slightest opportunity. Festivals, parties, elections, saint's days, Tuesdays - anything is a good excuse to blow stuff up.

My whole trip, from the night I got there to the night before I left, was punctuated with frequent, window-rattling booms and bangs.

When I went to the amazing cultural festival La Guelaguetza in Zaachila, there were these wooden wheels about a foot in diameter with firecrackers all around the edges. They were mounted on the ends of long poles. Occasionally someone would light one and it would spin madly until the wheel flew off the pole into the crowd. Yep, you just had to keep your wits about you in the not-entirely uncommon event that a flaming, exploding wooden wheel would come careening toward your head. THAT will keep you sharp!

Now I live in a largely Latino/Mexican immigrant neighborhood and the Fourth of July is not just one evening. It is an excuse for a whole month of fireworks, beginning a week or so before and lasting until the fireworks run out. It isn't a constant barrage, but there are some explosions every night.

I curse these every-night incursions on my peace because my dog is a total wreck. She won't go outside, won't eat, won't drink, just huddles miserably as close to me as possible, even climbing in the shower with me when it gets bad.

But when I went back and looked at some YouTube videos of Oaxaca and the festivals there, I realize that this handful of bottle rockets and firecrackers is like a tiny tickle to people who come from a culture where this is common - prepare to be amazed, because you aren't going to see ANYTHING like this on the American fourth of July:

At least no one is marching around my street with a homemade backpack full of lit spinners and poppers!

01 July 2008


I got this from Avitable, who got it from Secondhand Karl...blogrolling in our time.

The ABCs of Me

Accent: So Cal, dude.

Breakfast or no breakfast: OMG this oatmeal/wheat bran/protein powder thing I have a love/hate relationship with. It weighs 40 lbs per cup and no, I will never, ever be constipated.

Chore I don’t care for: There are chores that people LIKE? Imagine that! I would say cleaning the bathroom is the worst, which is why I manage to do it almost annually.

Dog or Cat: Dog. I am kind of over cats, and I have the scars and damaged furniture to prove it.

Essential Electronics:
MacBook, of course. For a hint about how addicted I am, read this post.

Favorite Cologne: I hate most cologne. I know I certainly hate yours. No offense, but that crap smells like floral wet dog fur.

Gold or Silver: Gold. I'm allergic to the nickel in silver.

Handbag I carry most often: This giant black Mary Poppins-looking thing

Insomnia: I get the 3 a.m. freakout a lot where I worry about being old, cold and living in a cardboard box. My mind is like a bad neighborhood - I really shouldn't go there alone.

Job Title: Princess, duh

Kids: Medium rare

Living Arrangements: Me and Goldie and 400 dust bunnies

Most Admirable Trait: I leave good blog comments

Naughtiest Childhood Behavior: Booger collection on the wall behind my bed. Sorry, mom.

Overnight hospital stays: Have you ever noticed that they never actually let you sleep in the hospital? Someone is always bustling in to mess with you.

Phobias: Snow. I hate snow. Kill a rattlesnake or spend a week in the snow? Hand me the hoe, Clem.

Quote: "Life's too mysterious. Don't take it serious." Mary Englebreit

Reason to smile: I smile like a goon all the time. My laugh lines are spectacular and deep as the grand canyon.

The finest in the world

Time I wake up:

Unusual Talent or Skill: I can whistle so loud it scares people

Vegetable I Refuse to Eat: Okra. Slime in a capsule.

Worst Habit:
Farting at inopportune times.

X-rays: They only asked this because they couldn't think of something like Xenophoic: yes or no.

Yummy Stuff:
I love food, lots of food, but do NOT try to take away my cheese.

Zoo Animal I Like Most:
I feel guilty visiting zoos, but sometimes I still do. I have a soft spot for elephants.

Goldieversary, Year 6

In 2002, I was volunteering at the L.A. County Animal Shelter in Agoura Hills. For a county shelter, this one is amazing. A group of dedicated volunteers kick ass there.

They work hard to make sure most of the animals who come in leave with new families instead of being carted lifeless out the back door after a visit to the "Blue Juice Room."

I was exercising dogs - the volunteers tried to make sure all dogs went out at least twice a day. First on my list was a big yellow dog who got to go out before all the other dogs because she was so well housebroken that she would rather hold her urine for 12 hours than to pee in her cage.

When I went in to get her, she began wagging so furiously that she wagged the end of her tail off. I looked down and her sides were painted with red stripes where the tip of her tail had bloodied her sides. I was freaked out but she seemed perfectly happy, though - it was walk time!

After a trip to the onsite vet to get her tail taped, we went out to the exercise yard. Unlike other dogs, she didn't want to play with the toys. She wanted to sit next to me and let me pet her while she leaned against me, soaking in the affection.

"What a great dog!" I thought.

For the next nine weeks, I came back again and again, each time exercising her and each time thinking, "What a great dog! Someone should adopt her."

But she wasn't showy - not spotted or tri-colored or purebred or any of the other things that catch the eye.

She was also 6 years old, which is a hard age to adopt. 80 percent of people want puppies and the sappy, sentimental 10 percent take the hard luck cases - old, decrepit, smelly dogs with three legs or dogs who are blind. The healthy, middle-aged dogs tend to get overlooked.

I went home after volunteering that Friday and spent all weekend thinking about that yellow dog sitting there for 9 weeks in that concrete cage. She was so sweet, so sensitive, so loving that the thought of her sleeping in that noisy, hard, cold place just killed me.

Also, Fourth of July was coming up and the shelter was stuffed full. I knew that so many animals run away because of fireworks noise that sometimes shelters "clean out" unadoptable animals in advance of the holiday to make room for the inevitable runaways.

Even though I didn't really want a big dog, I knew what I had to do.

First thing on Monday morning, I was at the shelter. I handed over $32 and got the best gift of my life, my Goldie.

When I went to get her from the cage, the volunteer on duty started crying.

"Oh, thank you, I was so afraid..." she said.

"Me, too," I replied.

Goldie turned and did something she rarely does: she stood up and put her feet on the volunteer's shoulders. I think she wanted to say goodbye.

She hopped right up on the front seat in my car and came home with me and we have been together ever since. She makes me smile every day, makes me exercise every day, and gives my parents something to look forward to (she spends work days with them).

If I think about it any more, I will start crying, so I will just leave you one of my favorite photos of her relaxing:
Dogs get tired

30 June 2008

Secret Sin

Everybody's got a secret Sonny
Something that they just can't face
Some folks spend their whole lives trying to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take
Till some day they just cut it loose
Cut it loose or let it drag 'em down

-Bruce Springsteen

Time to cut it loose. Reveal my secret.

Last year, when Kevin Charnas and his fiance, Wil, had the world's most bestest Halloween/blogger party, I dressed as an internet troll.

Thinking of the qualities that most embody "troll" I decided to go with ugly, stupid, and badly dressed. Voila:

The Billy Bob teeth and the GW Bush t-shirt were nice touches, but the part of this hideous outfit you can't see are the pants. They are these flowered fleecy size 17x sweat pants that are normally not seen outside of a Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon.

Everyone got quite the laugh at my outfit, and when I came home, I threw most of it out. But I kept one thing:
Knees and Goldie head

Yes, I wear them. No, not outside of the house! But I have to say, no matter how retina-damagingly ugly they are, they are pretty comfy to lounge around in. Maybe I will get brave and wear them to the swap meet next time I go.

29 June 2008

Weekend Update

The labyrinth project is going well. I walked four different labyrinths in four days.

I am enjoying the meditation time. It takes about 20 minutes to walk a 11-course labyrinth slowly in and out, and by the time I am done, I feel light and mentally refreshed.

I can't sit and meditate. I am a bad, bad meditator. I have tried it and I fall asleep ALL the time. Or else I think about how I am not meditating right. I'm sure that is a sign of my spiritual ineptitude or something - which is what I am always thinking while I am trying to meditate.

The walking helps me to not be so mentally ill and self-judging about trying to meditate. While walking, I just let go and don't get so caught up in "Am I doing it RIGHT?"


My boss got promoted out of our department (out of our whole company, actually since we work for a wholly owned subsidiary), which is a great move for her.

A co-worker whom I admire very much will be taking on some of the former boss's duties for now, but we have no idea how the management structure will end up being. I don't think they will replace the boss's position, which will mean both more self-management and more freedom for us.

At least two very excellent things are going to come of it: I will get to work at home two days a week instead of just one. With gas prices being what they are, anything that lessens my 55 mile daily round trip is thrilling.

But the best part is that as my co-worker inherits the boss's cubicle, I will be moving in to hers. And my people, for the first time in my working life, I will have something I have always wanted: my own window! Birds! Sky! Trees!

I can hardly believe my good fortune. Right now, my cube door (opening, whatever - there is no door) faces the fire exit and the first aid box, so about 50 times a day, someone comes to see if it contains tylenol (no, it does not).

The other thing about the new cubicle is that it is totally private - you can't see into it from the aisle. I don't know what I will do with my newfound luxury - work in my undies? Practice hula? Anything could happen back there and no one would know. Yippee.


I decided to take a class this fall just for fun, but nothing in the continuing education catalog grabbed me. I had it on my desk for weeks and kept flipping through it and was considering a salsa class (the dance not the food LOL) but somehow I neglected to do anything about it.

Then the catalog for the local community college, one of my many alma maters (srsly, I have over 100 credits of COMMUNITY COLLEGE), got here and I decided to see if they had any conversational Spanish classes. It fell open to a class called "Spirituality and Health" and I suddenly KNEW I had to take that class. Dunno why, just had to.

The class discusses different forms of meditation and spiritual practice, issues of death and dying, and other interesting stuff.

So if you want to find me on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the fall, I'll be in room G-23, even though I'm not exactly sure why I am there. I am really looking forward to it.

Of course my 80s teen movie alter ego is:

Who's Your 80s Movie Icon Alter-Ego? Find out @ She's Crafty

Can't imagine anyone else. I got this quiz from Eden at So, Anyway.
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