What a way to start the Memorial Day weekend! My boyfriend's cat Diesel spent Friday night at the vet's suffering from vomiting, a bit of dehydration and the inability to use the litterbox. Waking up Saturday morning felt awkward: no little kitty nose pressed to mine, no hint of claws gently pressing into my chest and stomach, no purring or meowing from beneath the comforter. We lounged around most of the morning, occasionally lifting our heads, expecting to see Diesel at any moment bound into the room and jump on the bed to demand food. At 11:30, we forced ourselves from the bed and ran a few errands (I actually fixed his toilet), ate a late breakfast, then headed back to his apartment to wait for a call from the vet.
When the animal hospital did call, we received both good news and bad: the good, Diesel's bloodwork came back negative for feline leukemia or any other blood disease, and his fluid levels had returned to a healthy state. The bad, he still hadn't managed to evacuate his bowels so Diesel suffered through an enema. When we picked him up, he would not stop meowing and hunkered in his animal carrier. Back at the apartment, his tail jittered as if a course of electricity ran from the base to the tip. His wide eyes scanned the rooms, and he reacted to every little sound. And he stank. We tried our best to keep him off the couch, the bed and ourselves until my boyfriend had the chance to rinse off some of the odor.
Poor little guy.
He's somewhat back to normal, refusing to take his medicines but eating all his food and drinking bowls full of water.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
On January 21, 1945, while the U.S.S. Hancock lay anchored off the coast of Manila, a bomb explosion on the flight deck killed 45 people, including Sewall Carter, AMM2c USNR -- my Grandfather. I write this post in honor of him and of all soldiers and people who lived, fought and died in the service of their country.
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Pride in the LBC
In keeping with my last post's Pride Theme, my boyfriend and I visited the Long Beach Pride Festival Saturday night. Wandering among the drunken teens and the booths peddling lesbian undergarments and free checking plans, I walked away a bit disappointed. Fewer community service booths (healthcare agencies, support groups, churches, etc.) as compared to last year. Dozens of clothing/tchotchke vendors. Three different live performers at various locations of the festival grounds vying to outblast one another and to draw the crowds to them. The odor of beer mingled with Bacardi wafting through the crowd. Once again, the festival seemed more like a swap meet. At least, the next morning, RG (pictured with me) joined us for the parade, and we enjoyed the many floats and cars, the twinks dousing their bodies with buckets of lube, the models for the "Men of the Mortuaries" calendar, the tossing of mardi-gras-style beads to the crowd, Gloria Trevi waving to the fans who ran up to the car professing how much they loved her. A very political parade, with many of the Long Beach government pretenders strutting their stuff for the crowd. I managed to snap a few pictures before the camera batteries died.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Bookwhore Chronicles: The Psycho Ex Game
I promised Friday to tell a tale about Long Beach Pride from a few years ago. The memory of what happened popped into my head while reading The Psycho Ex Game by Merrill Markoe and Andy Prieboy, a twisted and hilarious story of two people trying to one-up the other with stories of their ultimate psychotic relationships. My tale isn't anywhere near as psycho as theirs, and I find it difficult to call this particular guy a psycho. And hope he feels the same about me (clandestinely dropping voodoo doll into box and sliding under bed with foot).
In 1997, I had only been officially out for about a year and spent most of my Sundays at a Coming Out group at the Gay and Lesbian Center. Actually, the official group title was "Young Adult Program" with participants ranging in age from 18 to 25 years; my being 26 raised a few flags with one of the moderators, but they discussed the matter with the group. The Center at the time didn't offer a Coming Out support for someone my age -- unless I wanted to see a counselor or a therapist -- and a co-worker recommended the Young Adult Program because he had participated during his coming out process and found it to be a very positive experience. I stated my case, and the group voted to allow me to stay. (I don't think it hurt that someone with whom I went to high school was also in the group, but that's another story.)
Four months into the group, and I sat in the facilitator's office helping him assemble Safe Sex Kits (lube, condom, instructions, HIV/AIDS Information), talking about work, movies, music, television and generally enjoying myself. His presence should have intimidated me -- slightly taller, squared jaw showing off a stunning smile, ice blue eyes, big hands with long, thick fingers, muscled forearms, broad shoulders, yet I hadn't felt so at ease talking as openly about being gay with anyone. An hour later, as we ran out of plastic baggies, he invited me to dinner as a way of saying thanks for the help. He offered to drive and we were soon glancing over the menus at Hoff's Hutt. Conversation flowed easily between his, with me talking about my family, friends, work and other tidbit and him telling me about how his abusive father once pushed him down a flight of stairs, breaking his nose and jaw and about how he was attending SCA meetings regularly -- in fact, had been dong so for over two years. SCA? "Sexual Compulsives Anonymous," he replied matter-of-factly. He said the group helped him channel his emotions into other things, joining a gym and working out everyday. "Feel that." He flexed his arm and held it in front of my face. I shyly looked around then sized up the bicep and quietly, with hidden delight, said that I was duly impressed. He blushed and smiled, his blue crystalline eyes sparkling. We finished our meal and as I reached for my wallet, he handed the waitress his credit card. "I'll pay for dinner, but you have to promise one thing. Have dinner with me tomorrow night."
I know -- flags and sirens and flashing red lights should have gone off, especially after all the talk of SCA. Instead, I thought, Wow! This amazingly attractive guy is asking me out. My face flushed red. I stammered. I reached for invisible butterflies while Frau Blücher played a haunting violin solo. So I said yes.
The next two months passed by in surreal fashion: dinners at gay restaurants in Laguna Beach, staying after the group to help him with other projects (which usually would up with us making out on the floor of his office), spending a few nights at his place, him showing me how to give a good foot massage. But we never had sex, anal or oral. I rationalized this with the fact that he was in SCA and didn't want to move too fast. I found myself falling in love with him, with the first man I'd ever dated.
Little things occurred which befuddled me for brief moments: the fundraising dinner to which he'd invited me and then ignored me for most of the event; joining a Men's Gay Rap Group discussion on flirting and talking about how just last week he'd tried a technique of reading alone in a bookstore and glancing up occasionally, hoping to catch someone's eye (we had been dating for about a month and a half at the time); never initiating the kissing or cuddling and pulling away quickly. Once again, I rationalized away the red flags because I was still in shock that someone like him would show any kind of interest in me. I felt like part of the "In" gay crowd.
The night before the Long Beach Pride Parade, we ate dinner at the top of the stairs overlooking his apartment complex's pool. I worked up the nerve to tell him what I'd been feeling for the past few weeks, and when the three words flowed from my lips, he clammed up. Body tensed. Eyebrows furrowed. I leaned my head against his shoulder, but he quickly grabbed my dish and disappeared into the apartment. I listened to the clinking of the dishes in the sink, wondering what just happened. Shouldn't he have been as happy as I was? I mean, that's what the whole daing thing was about, finding someone to fall in love with and hopefully make a go at a long-lasting relationship. What did I do wrong?
I entered the apartment and followed the light to his bedroom. He had changed into his pajama bottoms and slid into bed, asking me to get the lights. It's only 8 PM. "We have a long day tomorrow," and with that, he turned over and went to sleep. I clicked off the lights, quietly changed into my bedclothes and crawled into the bed.
The next morning, I awoke to dishes clinking once again from the kitchen. I joined him -- already dressed and ready to go to the Festival -- in the kitchen for a bowl of cereal. I asked him a question, but he never answered, instead telling me that I needed to get ready as quickly as possible. A quick shower, clean clothes and within 15 minutes, we drove silently in his car. The next few hours allowed me to forget that anything seemed to be wrong: we set up the Center's booth, joked with mutual friends, talked to festival-goers and handed out flyers. We were back on track, things would be fine. Until he pulled me aside after things were well underway. He said, "we should break-up" and left it at that. I wanted to grab my stomach and throw up. He turned back to the workers at the booth and acted as if nothing had happened. I tried talking to him a few times, but he chose to ignore me.
I left the Festival in tears, walking all the way back to his apartment where my car waited for me.
Monday, May 22, 2006
My Dad mentioned it over breakfast at Mothers' Day, how while growing up in Huntington Beach, the neighborhood kids would dare each other to sneak across the highway with a bathing suit or short or even underwear. Dodge car lights while affixing the items(s) to the sculpture. Almost weekly, police would arrive with scissors to return the sculpture to its "au naturel" state. Why put a bathing suit on him? He's already wearing one. "No, he isn't," my Dad said.
Saturday morning, I hurried around the city truck which blocked the crosswalk, stepped up on the curb and almost tripped as a weathered bronze ass crack jutted into view. Sure enough, the surfer rode his wave buck-naked. Why hadn't I noticed it before? Was it anatomically correct? My Dad mentioned that it was. But I didn't climb to find out.
And don't want to know how he knows.
Friday, May 19, 2006
I Got the Music in Meme
Update: Interest seems to have dropped so I will grudgingly supply the answers. Though I admit that quite a few aren't as well known as the ones guessed. Thanks to everyone who played along!!
I borrowed this from RcktMan's Launching Pad because I'm just too lazy and too tired to compose an original post. (I do have something in mind, in honor of Long Beach Pride this weekend, but I think that will wait until Sunday evening. When I'm more awake.)
Step 1: Put your iPod/MP3 player or iTunes on random.
Step 2: Post the first line(s) from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing the song. (Instrumental songs, obviously, do not count)
Step 3: Post and let everyone you know guess what song and artist the lines come from.
Step 4: Strike out the songs when someone guesses correctly and post the title in bold after the stricken song when it is guessed.
Step 5: (for those guessing the songs) Looking the lyrics up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!!!
Here goes nuthin'!!
You tell me there's an angel in your tree. Did he say he'd come to call on me? Long ago, and oh so far away, I fell in love with you before the second show I'm just a simple girl in a high-tech digital world I've got ways to make you sorry, start my life with someone else. I've got ways to make you fall, I'll tell you all the things I lied about
Some may a bit more obscure than I thought. But hey, these popped up randomly on my iTunes. Have fun!
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
The 23rd Qualm
When it comes to writing about anything political on my blog, I tend to halt myself. Not because I don't have an opinion, but mainly because I feel my eloquence greatly lacks in that arena. Too many ideas and thoughts and feelings jumble and dance through my grey matter causing me to become finger tied, tripping over letters on the keyboard. Not to mention that others voice my opinions much better than me so why repeat things over and over? Instead, I enjoy sharing stories found on-line, or anecdotes overheard while at lunch, tidbits of e-mails from my parents. Such as this re-working of the 23rd Psalm....
Bush is my shepherd; I dwell in want.
He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war, I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control, they discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term.
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.
(Written by a retired Methodist minister.)
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Just Another Day on the Farm
The last time I visited Knott's Berry Farm must have been five or six years ago, for a gay night during their Halloween scare-fest, aptly named Knott's Scary Farm. My friend RG eagerly entered one of their mazes set deep in the heart of Ghost Town. Within moments of entering, his loud screams rang throughout the park, and he dashed outside, almost knocking over other guests leaving the same maze, not looking back as he disappeared into the fog. We started to follow until another person, disguised as Pinhead from the Hellraiser films appeared at the exit, tyring to run but legs catching in the long leather of coat. He stared us down, then someone pointed into the fog and said "He went that way." Pinhead smiled, the fog enveloping him and soon, we all doubled over with laughter as we heard RG screaming bloody murder. Eventually, RG returned with a tear-streaked face, alternately laughing and cringing as Pinhead passed him with a wicked grin before heading into the darkness of the maze.
Other memories started flooding in as my boyfriend and I stood in front of the main entrance to the park this past Saturday, waiting for my co-workers to arrive: how my Grandfather loved to take my brother and me to ride the Log Ride and the Calico Mine Train; riding my first looping roller coaster; family dinners at the fried chicken restaurant; munching on stalks of rhubarb; the smell of warm, fresh boysenberry pie topped with a mound of melting vanilla iced cream. Mmm, that boysenberry pie. No one makes a boysenberry pie quite like Knott's, with a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth crust and the freshest berries. I think I put on two pounds just writing that. (Just a little tidbit of information: the boysenberry was developed by Walter Knott and his friend Richard Boysen as a cross among the blackberry, the red raspberry and the loganberry.)
But getting back to Saturday....
My office earned a bonus for our 1st Quarter's performance, but the "rules" stated that all monies must be used for a group event. We toyed around with a dinner (overdone), a movie (boring), a musical (expensive), and finally settled on a day at Knott's. One of my co-workers found incredibly discounted tickets so we invited family to join us and managed to spend a mere $180 for nine park entrances. (That amount would get two people into Disneyland.)
One of the group phoned to say they would be a bit late, to go on inside and that she would call once they arrived. We wandered through Ghost Town -- me snapping pictures at every opportunity. I purposely detoured us through the Boot Hill Cemetery to find the grave with the beating heart and convinced my boyfriend to take a picture of me in a coffin. (If you'll notice, the wooden sign on the bottom right reads "Here lies Scary Mary.") From there, my co-worker ST and I decided to try Xcelerator, a huge pink-and-sea-green coaster that shoots the car at a 90˚ angle skyward, over an arch, then down to finish in a figure 8 curve. I left my glasses with my boyfriend, and she and I approached the entrance. At the last moment, she changed her mind, leaving me to navigate my way through the blurred queue to the loading station. But I persevered and, a few moments later, belted myself into the seat and clicked the lap bar so tight that I could barely breathe. The operator mumbled a few words as the car inched backwards then BOOM! We shot from the station, my body pressed back into the seat, hands firmly gripping the lap bar as we curved straight up. As the car neared the arch, it suddenly jolted left then up over the arch and falling down only to jolt to the right before curving into the figure 8. Thank goodness I used the bathroom before getting in line.
The group asked how the coaster was while I shakily unfolded my glasses. The word "awesome" may have slipped out, but I was too adrenaline-pumped to remember. My other co-worker, GU and her family, called a few moments later, and we hooked up with them before heading for Camp Snoopy. We spent much of the day there, allowing GU's twin daughters to enjoy their time in the park. Of course, a few of us tried some of the kiddie rides, but enjoyed being away from the office, not talking shop, snapping pictures and watching the kids being kids.
As the day wore on, we tried our hands at winning stuffed toys at the carnival booths, watched with shock and awe as some guests voluntarily rode a contraption called Rip Tide that flipped them back and forth violently while drenching them with blasts from a fountain, dressed in western garb for a "pitchur," and even climbed three flights of stairs without my glasses just to ride the Silver Bullet suspension roller coaster. (My boyfriend laughed as I tried to find him after climbing down another three flights of stairs. The world turns into one big blur without my glasses so I wasn't sure that it was him that I tentatively approached.) By 8:30 PM, our legs hurt, our faces tingled with slight sunburns, and we called it a day. Though we did stop to purchase a boysenberry pie before leaving the grounds completely.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Sink or Swim
I pulled into a spot at the Irvine Spectrum about 20 minutes after our scheduled meeting time, then dialed CS's number as I hurried past the Ferris wheel. As I pressed the call button, my phone shouted "Oh my God! Oh my God!" à la Quagmire from Family Guy, and in my ineptitude with most things technical, I lost both calls. We finally connected, and soon I was browsing the aisles of a music store with CS and RG before dinner. SK called a few minutes earlier to say that he had just left work and would drive as fast as traffic would allow. So we grabbed a table at Johnny Rockets to wait.
I ordered a patty melt with a Boca burger patty while CS and I joked at RG's request of a chili cheese dog. After all, in less than an hour, we would be confined to a room with no possible chance of a fast escape should anything untoward occur. Emily, our waitress enjoyed our sense of humor; RG simply glared. CS decided to order a healthy salad and asked about low calorie dressing.
"We have low-calorie Italian," Emily told him.
"Low-calorie Italian?" CS replied. "Italian's just oil and vinegar. Make it low-cal, and you've got vinegar."
"With little bits of oregano floating in it shouting, 'Look! I'm flavor!'" Emily said with a semi-straight face. We, of course, burst into hysterical laughter.
A few minutes later, she once again had us in tears when she set a plate of fries on our table and said, "I know they look small, but they're mighty," and quickly walked away. So many thoughts and visions filled our feeble minds that we couldn't keep quiet and had to be shushed by a neighboring table.
SK finally arrived, informing us that the line for the movie wrapped around the building. He grabbed the tickets from RG, offering to hold a spot in line while we finished our meals. We gulped the rest of the food, then gave Emily a generous tip before heading outside to find SK waiting by the entrance doors to the theater. The line had been allowed inside at 20 minutes to 7 PM so we rushed inside, hoping that with the size of the crowd, we would be able to find four seats together.
We entered the IMAX theater and claimed a few seats roughly a third of the way up and toward the center. Not a bad place, but we would still need to look up in order to see partsofo the movie. At least, we managed to bypass the first three rows which stare up the screen from almost the very bottom, making the actors appear to have conical bodies with teeny-tiny heads. Until the previews began, an image of a cruise ship about to be toppled by a gigantic letter "C" filled the screen, giving us an early clue as to what was about to happen in Poseidon.
The movie, a remake of the 1972 disaster classic The Poseidon Adventure, turned out to be much better than I expected. As with the original movie, the cruise ship Poseidon, en route from London to New York is struck by a rogue wave and capsizes. Against orders of the Captain (André Braugher), a small group of survivors, lead by professional gambler Dylan Johns (Josh Lucas) and former firefighter and New York Mayor Robert Ramsey (Kurt Russell), wind their way through the many decks of the ship to reach the surface before the boat sinks. A better-than-expected disaster movie/remake, the only real drawback to catch my eye was the CGI work. At times, the computer-generated material looked like computer-generated material (the oil pouring through the ceiling, character movements, etc.), but the suspense and acting overcame any flaws for me. Bits of the original story and characters changed: no Gene Hackman reverend or Shelley Winters/Jack Albertson married couple. The list of survivors included: Richard Dreyfuss as openly gay architect Richard Nelson; Jacinda Barrett and Jimmy Bennett as mother and son; Emmy Rossum as Ramsey's daughter Jennifer who, along with her finacé Christian (Mike Vogel) are trapped on a different deck along with Kevin Dillon's lounge-lizardy Lucky Larry and Mia Maetsro's Elena who's trying to get to New York to see her sick brother; Freddy Rodriguez as ship's waiter Valentin. Oh, and Stacy Ferguson (a.k.a. "Fergie" from Black Eyed Peas) thankfully has only a small role as the ship's singer. (Unlike Carol Lynley's characterter in the original, she stays behind with her Captain.) I won't give away too much about who lives and dies, but many times throughout the film, I wondered when the gay character would be killed.
One thing I should mention is that we viewed a screening in IMAX. While it did enhance such scenes as the claustrophobia of the air duct sequence, I think we would have enjoyed the movie just the same on a regular screen. Though, looking up toward a towering Josh Lucas and Mike Vogel in their wet, clingy shirts....
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Weekend At-A-Glance (excerpt)
Friday, May 5, 2006
5:15 PM - Meet with RG, SK and CS at Hamburger Mary's for drinks (meaning 2-1/2 iced teas for me while the rest indulge in Cape Cods, $3 margaritas and $1 tacos). Try to hold a conversation about RG's new job while shouting over the loud
8:00 PM - Dinner with my boyfriend at Chen's: plates full of Cashew chicken and of Orange chicken (both large enough to feed a family of four). While discussing movies to see this weekend, push back the flowerpot with silk flowers straddling the wall between our table and the birthday party on the other side; dark-haired man keeps standing to make speeches, his head continually knocks the flowers, potentially causing a "flower shower." Hilarity a possibility.
Saturday, May 7, 2006
11:30 AM - Movie The Wild at the Downtown Disney AMC. (Boyfriend spending the day with parents.) Use free movie pass to see this ultimately fun movie which could almost pass as a clone for Madagascar, except the animals appear to be animals, and featuring great voicework from Keifer Sutherland, Jim Belushi, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Izzard (as the hysterical Nigel the Koala), and William Shatner and Patrick Warburton as choreographically-obsessed wildebeests. Be prepared for the typical "Disney Absent Parent" storyline and the standard "child crying during movie," as this is a kids film.
1:15 PM - Enter California Adventure to settle the Disney fix -- two months without the mouse is long enough. Ride Tower of Terror and Mulholland Madness, then scurry over to Disneyland for a quick trip on Space Mountain and The Haunted Mansion. Supposed changes have taken place in the attic of the Mansion -- figures in portraits that lose their heads when the lights change, a new bride with an animated face and wielding a hatchet, etc. Browse through the stores of Downtown Disney before heading to boyfriend's apartment.
6:00 PM - Grab a bite to eat at El Torito. Try the spinach enchiladas, just for something different. Discuss why the flower lady purposely skipped our table after seeing two men enjoying their meals. Afterwards, wander around Barnes & Noble and limit self to only two books at the most.
8:00 PM - Mandatory kissing and cuddling in front of the TV while the cat tries to break in.
Sunday, May 8, 2006
8:00 AM - Wake up.
1:30 PM - Get out of bed and grab a late breakfast at Hoff's Hut across from the movie theaters. Wander over to Tower Records and maybe buy a CD.
4:30 PM - Speed to the theater to see the Chinese movie The Promise. Promises to be a visually stunning film, with a bit of hokey story and lots of CGI work. May cause fits of laughter in unexpected (and possibly unwanted) places because of overacting and a so-so script.
7:00 PM - Watch a few episodes of Ghost Hunters while eating leftover Chinese food from Friday. More kissing and cuddling to follow.
Monday, May 08, 2006
We wandered through the aisles of Tower Records yesterday, with the good intention of simply browsing and listening to a few CDs instead of buying. I grabbed a CD from Gotan Project and another from The New Amsterdams and sped toward an open listening station. Scanning in the first disc, I swayed and tapped my foot along to the Latin electronica of Gotan Project for a few minutes, then tried the second disc. My eyes glanced over the other CDs in the nearby display stand and stopped on a picture of a young, dark blond man wearing a weathered leather jacket and two piercings in his left ear, seated on a beach, looking away from the seagulls crowding behind him. Somehow, the picture seemed out of place compared to the Tupac and other rap CDs in the display; he didn't appeared to be a rapper, but I was intrigued enough to check out the track list: a few standards such as "Love for Sale" by Cole Porter and "Lucky to Be Me" by Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden and Adolph Green, a "Promenade" from Modest Mussorgsky, "I've Seen It All" from Björk, and some original pieces by the artist on the cover, Taylor Eigsti. All for $8.99. So I took a risk, scanned the bar code, and what followed amazed me! Notes flew from the headphones as fast fingers ran up and down the piano keys while the jazz combo kept in time but never overshadowed. The pianist sounded so seasoned that I found it difficult to believe from the liner notes that he was a mere 21 years old. I stood in front of the listening station a good fifteen minutes, enjoying snippets from each of the tracks. A woman waiting patiently behind me to use the station sighed loudly and semi-stamped her feet until I finally walked away with CD in hand.
Friday, May 05, 2006
Cinco de Mayo and guess where my sweetie and I are headed tonight? Chen's on Broadway for some incredible Chinese food. Not your typical place to celebrate the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla, but when the hankering hits, we must obey!
Plus, I would most definitely overeat as I love to indulge in tampiqueña steak, baskets of warm torilla chips with moderately spicy salsa, cheese enchiladas and refried beans topped with jack cheese. I weighed in this morning at 197 lbs. and am determined to drop below that by the end of the month so I must resist temptation.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
From a Box of Cracker Jacks®
Walking across the parking lot, I glanced quickly at the line of cars backed up through two stoplights and the three cars waiting to make a right turn from the lot into traffic, and decided to use the entrance at the other end of the lot to make my escape from the office. I turned left onto the street then waited patiently in the turn lane to make another, pressing the buttons on my radio past the pop stations and the "indie" stations in a vain attempt to find something worth listening to. The road cleared and I made my turn but, before I could straighten the car, had to swerve left in order to miss the humongous SUV barreling toward me in the far right lane. The driver swung left at the corner without stopping, ignoring the blaring horns and almost slamming into a white BMW.
The few of us on the street slowed down, waiting for the police car which obviously must have been in pursuit of the SUV. I mean, no one drives like that unless they're being pursued, right?
Monday, May 01, 2006
Saturday started well. My boyfriend and I watched Young Frankenstein after waking up around 12 PM. I won't go into the details about how this was his first-ever viewing of the film or the fact that he was in stitches every time Madeleine Kahn entered a scene, but by 2 PM, we were ready to run errands before heading to a big birthday party in California Heights. Cat food, movie tickets, two books from Equal Writes for the next book group, and a quick bowl of soup at The Pantry, followed by a stop at his apartment for a breather before dashing over to the party.
Arriving at M&L's house, the festivities were well underway, with semi-loud music thumping from the speakers while the blender whirred and crushed and mingled the ice, margarita mix and tequila. M decided on a "Cinco de Mayo" theme for her mphpth birthday, and the mini shot glasses shaped like squat green cactus that rested next to the tiny maracas, the packets of gummi chili peppers, and the string of lighted mini-sombreros and cacti adorning the dining room archway helped to usher in the fiesta experience. The aroma of chicken burritos, beef taquitos, L's homemade refried beans with a hint of cinnamon, and the sour-sweet tang of lime slices also added their hints of good times to come. Surprisingly enough, with the large amount of food simmering or roasting, we didn't eat until 9:30 PM; instead, we drank and talked and listened to stories about social work (as three or four of the attendees all worked in that profession) until L told us to grab our plates and follow him to the little room off the kitchen. Everyone piled food on their plates then crammed around the two tables in the dining room, laughing, talking shoveling delicious food, and washing it down with Coke or beer or salty margaritas.
Around 11:30, L finally brought the cake to the table then made everyone pose around it before slicing. We all chimed in with Happy Birthday to You, then savored the chocolaty chocolate chip goodness of the cake, the red velvety cupcakes and the strawberries drowning in chocolate sauce. All this incredibly good food at such a late hour would probably account for the strange and vivid dreams I experienced early the next morning. And let me just state for the record that it is very odd to awaken from one of those dreams to find a cat attempting to lick the spot on your forehead where you stuck one of those gummi chili peppers. (Don't even ask....)
The next morning, we hurried to meet one of his family friends at the LA Times Festival of Books held on the UCLA campus. My boyfriend had attended this event a few times, but this was my first and not knowing what exactly to expect, the riot of people and college politics, the odor of sizzling hot dogs, and the glare of sunlight of pristine white pages bowled me over. Rows of white tents separated into booths, each with a clean white banner touting the press or author or book-related device that temporarily inhabited that space. Stringers of colored flags tied to trees and buildings, meant to be used as guides to different locations. Thousands of people carrying large canvas tote bags, pushing strollers, crowding booths and demanding autographs. Dogs of almost every breed and size. We squeezed through the mass of people, trying to find the UCLA bookstore and the statue of the Bruin where we hoped to find his friend.
Marlo Thomas spoke from the stage to our left as we saw his friend patiently studying the festival guide book. She and I had never met yet we hugged and kissed cheeks like old friends. The three of us consulted the guidemap then climbed our way to the main festival grounds and even more tents and more people. We briefly paused at the booth for the L.A. Times where a young man stood beside a gigantic Sunday crossword mapped onto a dry erase board. Onlookers stared at the empty squares, not saying anything or reaching for the man's blue marker. I knew the answer to 32 Across "Blue ___ Shoes," grabbed the pen from his hand and filled in those white squares. Others tentatively followed my lead and soon, the man was barraged with shouted answers or polite requests for the pen to fill in the answers. We wandered from there through the university presses, the political books, independent bookstores and presses, avoided the kids area, and tried to spy a few celebrities. (I think I saw actor Kevin Kilner. pic) We steered clear of the main sponsors -- Borders and Barnes & Noble. Why come to a festival to buy books from them when I can find them at a nearby mall? To me, the festival seemed to be about the smaller, lesser-known presses and bookstores so I didn't mind spending money with them. And, though I am a self-proclaimed bookwhore, I purchased only four books.
We started to make our back across the campus toward the parking structure when we ran into joela and his partner who had spent both Saturday and Sunday at the festival, getting books signed and buying dozens more. I introduced them to my boyfriend and his family friend, and we chatted for a few minutes, but the day had finally caught up with us so we allowed them to enjoy the rest of their day. 3-1/2 hours later, tired and sunburnt, we finally made it to the car and headed for home.