Saturday, February 28, 2009

40licious, the Sequel

My family isn't normal by anybody's standards. What with the kidnapping, the step-this and bonus that, it's all a big hodgepodge of love and people and old photos and hankies that smell like dusty books.

I found it slightly hilarious that my mother doesn't know exactly what day my birthday is, she knows it's around this time. Or maybe she knows the date, but she doesn't know when that falls, exactly. So either way, she hedged her bets and called me with an original birthday poem three or four days ago. And then she called my brother to remind him, so he went all "happy birthday" way too early. I think, in all, they called me five times to send their mazel tovs.

Today, as an extension of the joke, he sent me this song. I turned it into a movie. I hope you "enjoy" it as much as I did.






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video

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Giving up Lent for Lent

Well well, it's that time of year again. Lent. We're really emergency Catholics in our family -- those of us that claim any kind of organized spirituality at all -- and so I can't really say with too much smugger-than-thou-ness that I've done such-and-such for Lent. I've occasionally given up an indulgence here and there, but I always need someone to remind me when Lent is over. I'm going to be all about the Master Cleanse next month, so maybe that will count. I don't really see God as a linear being, she won't mind.

But this year, I just plum forgot. So yes, I will have another glass of wine, thank you.




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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Soundtrack of Our Lives


When you're 40licious, you have a very specific soundtrack to your life. My first memories of music were dancing for anyone who would watch in my dad's home office, the long leather couch a stage, to Teresa Brewer's "Put Another Nickel in Music Music Music." Later, there was listening to disco and yacht rock on a Snoopy transistor radio under my pillow -- Little River Band, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers, Eric Clapton ("Lay Down Sally" seemed like a very dirty song to me). And then on to junior high and high school for a stupefying cocktail consisting mainly of New Wave/Southern Rock/Led Zeppelin/Journey/REO Speedwagon/Foreigner/Loverboy, infused with the adolescent yearnings of the FAME soundtrack. (I also lip synched Irene Cara's "Why Me?" at a talent show in a gold lame top over a black pleather miniskirt.)

There are the breakup albums, with the Cranberries and Ani Di Franco leading the pack. And always through everything, Beatles, since I took it upon myself to illustrate what Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds might look like.

So I don't know why it is that tonight, getting ready to hunker down for my homebody Saturday with a French film (I'm in a phase, but please do get Jean de Florette and Manon of the Spring, you will be so much richer as a person for seeing them), and I do a little channel flip to see Tony Orlando and some middle-aged woman with a Mom haircut hawking the Time-Life collection "Romancing the 70s." It's a monstrous compendium of 156 songs. These songs are in my DNA. I've heard them all thousands of times. And I don't know why I am so riveted by the clips of Anne Murray, Neil Sedaka, Lionel Ritchie, BJ Thomas, Captain & Tenille -- there are scores -- in their 70s flair and gloss. But I am, and I can't turn away, and choking back tears is a futile effort.

My first reaction is to wonder why I am so moved by this music, these wide collars and far out hairstyles. A mental check confirms it is not PMS.

It is because the 70s were about summer breezes and midnight trains to Georgia and morning breaking. Danny's song and Annie's song. Or knocking three times and taking a little afternoon delight. Asking if you know where you're going to.

I can't think of a contemporary song that grabs me in the exact same spot. Maybe it's nostalgia. Maybe it's because I know I'll never love this way again.



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Friday, February 20, 2009

It's All Practice

I'm applying for another job where I work. It's not that I don't like what I'm currently doing -- I'm actually quite enjoying it and just had a major splash with the announcement of the largest solar contract in the world.

But this other job is a little more lucrative and a little outside my scope. It's new. I've never done it before. I spent a lot of time wondering how I will close the gap between "I know I can do it" and "I have the experience" since I learned I'm going to be interviewed.

The other day at yoga the instructor asked us to do something I've never done. It involved crow -- balancing my knees on my elbows, chest parallel to the floor -- then folding over with my head to the floor; then lifting my legs straight up so I'd be in a headstand.

Now I know how to do all of those three separately, so I didn't panic too much. And lo, I put all the parts together and I did it just fine. I didn't topple over. I'd actually been leading up to this pose for the past 10 years.

So that's my selling point to the people who will hire me for this other job. I'm already doing all the parts, just watch me put it together in this cool new way.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Change is a Comin'

One thing about 40licious? You get closer to your mother's age, even though, she is, technically, the exact same amount of years older than you than when she had you.

So tonight my friend calls and says, "What are you doing?"
And I say, "I am making a lovely soup."

In all seriousness. In exactly the same earnestness and enthusiasm my mother would.

But you know what? That's completely, absolutely, totally fine with me. And it will be a lovely soup.

ALSO

Keep your eyes peeled -- 40licious will radically be changing soon, upon my 41st birthday in less than two weeks. While we're at it, what do you like about this blog? What could stand to take a hike? All constructively critical comments welcome.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Some Things Are Better Left Undone



Dear World Market,

I currently have, in my possession, an exotic chocolate bar from your fine establishment, which I frequent with great regularity to purchase below-market wine, Indian-patterned table linens, thoughtful gift items, Asian-themed paper lanterns, distressed espresso-finished office furniture, and my Myers natural cleaning solution. I especially love the wide variety of sauces, spices, treats and teas you procure from around the globe. I will admit to being adventurous when it comes to culinary pursuits. I love chocolate and pretzels, chocolate and fruit, chocolate and -- really, almost anything. I nearly developed a combo obsessive-compulsive/eating disorder from your spectacular dark chocolate and sea salt bar. One time I even ate a worm as part of a newspaper story on a guy who ate live worms for their enzymatic properties. (It was gross. It tasted like pine.)

However.

However.

I am writing today about your confection that involves dark chocolate and chipotle chiles. Perhaps it is my karma because it's not exactly mine -- I'd purchased it for someone else. But it was there, in my cabinet. I'd returned from a movie, hungry, and had been slightly off-kilter all day. So I thought I'd perhaps taste-test it.

Oh. My God.

Have you, yourself, tasted this? Or did you outsource it to a third-world country, using a Web-based translation program to discern the notes?

Imagine licking an ashtray from a cheap Reno motel.

Imagine inhaling the vapors of the underwear from Alaskan fishermen at sea for six weeks without showers.

Imagine whatever it is that makes you most prone to retching, concentrated, ground into a fine powder, and mixed into some perfectly innocent dark chocolate.

This was worse.

So, my dear friends at World Market, I beseech you to take this off your shelves. Or just rename it "Dark Chocolate and Ass."

Thank you for your kind attention.

Love,

Vanessa

PS -- to the friend whose chocolate I violated, you're welcome.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Escape from Hollywood

Tonight I went out with Natalie, the funny, smart and ethereal beauty I am lucky enough to call one of my best friends. I got to Citizen Smith in Hollywood before she and her BF did. A lot earlier. So it was basically me, clutching a glass of wine, propped up against a concrete pillar, people watching. To pass the time, I made up a game, "Who's over 15?" There weren't that many. The other game was, "Where Does She Keep Her Organs?" And of course the classic,"Who Forgot Her Pants?" (answer: all of them).

Nat and C finally showed up. Which was good, because I had already prepared a text for her announcing that I just wasn't into it and sucking down the last of my wine. Happy to see her. Happy to see him.

Happy to be home now, eating a lasagne.

Day of Reckoning

There are several times a year when we take inventory. New Year's, for sure, to think about what didn't work the past year and what we'd like to manifest for the days to come. Birthdays, to reflect on where we've been and what we've learned. And of course, tax time. Where the hell did it all go?

Over the past few days I've been gathering numbers for my accountant, who has quite cleverly moved to some cheap plot of land in Texas or Utah or Colorado, I don't know, some state where they have cowboys. Yes, I had to plow through a lot of numbers. But I've come up with several realizations, that don't necessarily fall into a mathematical mindset.

1. I work harder than almost anyone I know. Karen and Rachel, my lifelong friends who are, respectively, an English professor and ER doc, probably best me on this. Elperks, a second AD in many movies and television shows you've seen and loved, pulls those looooooong days and nights. Amanda goes around the world to grab images that will change lives. OK. Maybe I don't work harder. But I do work a lot. Most of my waking hours.

2. I give a lot of presents and contribute to many charities. I hadn't realized that. $20 here and $100 there -- I'd imagine that it adds up after a while, and hopefully does some good.

3. I could probably do a couple of my own mani-pedis during the year.

4. I'm rethinking the cleverness of real estate. There are a lot of added costs that I won't see an ROI for, say, 15 years. What if I don't live that long? I think I was frigging CRAZY to do a kitchen remodel, frankly. But whatever. It's nice and there's no turning back now.

5. It would be nice to spend a calendar year lost on an island, trading coconuts and massages and English lessons for food and sunblock. No cash. Just services and goods. In fact, I think I'm going to pitch that.

6. My dog LuLuBelle? She's practically free except for the organic kibble she gets twice a day, and the occaisonal benign tumor removal. She's been the most stable element in my life for 12 years, and will be for 100 more. She is what I count on the most. There is no box for her on any IRS form.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When Geeks Get Mad

Police: Man killed friend with sword after chess game in
Alameda

An evening that started with two friends playing chess and drinking beers
ended with one man stabbed to death and another booked on murder charges
Tuesday, Alameda police said.

Kelly Scott Kjersem, a 40-year-old Alameda man, arrived earlier in the evening at 1220 Park Avenue with a 12-pack of beer, police Lt. Bill Scott said.

Kjersem was visiting the home of his friend, Joseph W. Groom, 62, to drink and play chess. The two men played and drank for some time, and later a female friend of Groom's arrived and began cooking dinner for the two men.


While she was in the kitchen, she heard an argument break out between the two men, Scott said. She didn't know what it was about, but found the two men had started wrestling.


Groom stopped and retreated to his bedroom, Scott said. When he returned, he was brandishing a sword more than 2 feet long. Police said the sword was made in Pakistan.


... couldn't they just had a grudge match with Star Trek trivia or something?

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Harbinger

Today has begun poorly. The tomato slice from my bagel slid off and plopped into my tea. I should just go home now, cut losses, and sleep.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

John Updike puts everything so beautifully here, in this poem, which sums up why you need to make absolutely sure that the people in your life know you love them, so that when it all goes "poof," they will know, without question, that you left this earth with a piece of them in your heart. Because really, the petty jealousies, the misguided outrages, the inferred insults -- they just don't really matter.

Perfection wasted

And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market -
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories packed
in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it; no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.