Monthly Archives: January 2011

My 2-inch mistake of 2011

One month into the New Year and I have already crystallized my biggest mistake—ankle booties.

Still high from a successful outing last weekend in my gray ankle booties, I decided to repeat that action today for work. Prior to last weekend, I had not worn heels since October. My twisted ankle turned swollen ankle turned severely sprained ankle kept my sartorial shoe choices in check. I’ve rocked nothing but ballet flats, Chucks and reincarnated running shoes. YAWWWWWN

Even with my California cool, laid-back chic, I don’t give a flying … style, I’ve grown tired and restless. Hence, my biggest mistake—ankle booties.

These are barely heels. Less than 2 inches!

Sadly, 2 inches too many for a foot that must still step gingerly off a sidewalk. The flexion/extension part of my ankle wasn’t even the worst part of the recovery so it makes no sense that this should hurt as much as it does.

I’ll admit, which I hate to do, that wearing these damn shoes were the biggest mistake I’ve made since spraining the blasted thing. Worse than walking on it when I shouldn’t have been. Worse than taking off my air cast before I needed to. Worse than taking that premature spin class.

  • The walk from the parking lot to the office down ramps and across cobbled plazas—Awful. Almost gave a repeat performance of Sprainmas 2010.
  • The walk down the linoleum hall from office to bathroom—Worse. Almost slipped a handful of times.
  • The elevator ride up and down one floor—Worst. All those judging eyes. At least when I wore flats, people could assume I had a reason. Now, with heels, it just looks lazy.

PHOTO: My stupid ankle booties. I’ll never look at you the same.

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Squeeze that box!

This weekend I took a small step forward, but a giant leap for the musician in me.

I had checked and rechecked office hours. I emailed basic questions. I called to confirm. I drove to Los Feliz and walked right into Dave’s Accordion School.

Yep, I am officially a musician in training!

I had my very first lesson on the accordion Saturday on this beautiful red Castiglione. I’m not going to pretend it was pretty. I was slow. I stumbled on the bass. I sucked on the keys. I exaggerated my piano experience. But… I was told that I picked it up fairly easily and should be able to learn quickly.

Phew!

Now, I’m not at all self-conscious about getting stuck with the children’s lesson book.

I’ve begun to practice at home. Ugh… How to describe the sound??? There’s a good chance I could be banished to the garage. I guess the beautiful sounds that come from my bellows are an acquired taste here at home. I’m not worried, though. I’ll convert them all when I’m able to play amazing French and Italian ballads, tangos, polkas or a little Cheap Trick… norteña style!

ADDENDUM: Watch ‘Rudo y Cursi.’ Aside from the hilarious music video, it stars Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal as brothers/soccer players.

Sucker: The True Story of What Guilt Buys You… or You Buy It

Armed with little knowledge of crime/mystery literature and with even less knowledge of my purpose, I walked into Mystery Bookstore last night.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it’s not what I got.

TO RECAP: This specialty book store has been operating on Broxton Avenue in Westwood for more than 20 years. A bad economy and a flux of new technology translated into steadily declining sales. At the end of the month, they will close the doors for good.

I think I half expected empty shelves or almost empty. Stocked with the dregs of crime fiction literati. Having undoubtedly heard of the store’s upcoming demise, people would have flocked to pore over books—old, new, first editions, signed copies and all at a minimum 35% off. They’d circle and strike like vultures. And they’d leave scraps for poor, defenseless, yet well-intentioned looky-loos like me. And not knowing any better, I’d pick up some obscure crime novel from and even more obscure Eastern European writer that I’d crack open and lose interest in after a paragraph.

Hey, at least I tried.

That picture didn’t unfold last night.

The place I walked into was warm, charming, inviting, stock full of books and character. Posters announced upcoming author signings. With little more than 10 days left as a functioning business, they’re still planning a few more in-store events. The only signs of trouble brewing were the little orange and green stickers on book spines that signaled massive markdowns.

Overwhelmed and waaaaay out of my element, I started along the left-hand wall. I’ve been in my fair share of bookstores and have always managed to make my way through the stacks and come out with a gem or two. There were John Grisham-esque book covers and fonts, some books that looked more at home in grocery store aisles and a whole slew of awesome macabre-type stuff. I managed to find some books that I’d read—Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Strain, The City of Falling Angels, The Devil in the White City, Da Vinci Code.

Now more lost than ever, I turned for advice.

Me to the clerk: I know nothing about this, but I know I like nonfiction thrillers and an occasional low-brow Dan Brown conspiracy. Oh, and L.A. noir. WHAT CAN YOU RECOMMEND?

Famous last words from a sucker with a guilty conscience.

What I bought

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much:
The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession

by Allison Hoover Bartlett

A story about a book thief who “steals for love” and the “self-appointed ‘bibliodick’ driven to catch him.” Praise from Devil in White City author Erik Larson: “Compelling with elegant suspense.”

The Sleepwalkers
by Paul Grossman

A high-ranking Jewish detetective working a bizarre murder in Berlin 1932. “About a good man trapped between his duty to serve and his grave doubts about what, and whom, he serves.”

L.A. Requiem
by Robert Crais

Apparently one in a series of Los Angeles detectives that I won’t have any trouble reading midway through. Joe Pike/Elvis Cole ring any bells?

PS I’m aware of the gross irony that I use Amazon.com (the very cause of the store’s closing) for the book links.

The things I do for no apparent reason

GUILT |gilt|
n. the fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime;
a feeling of having done wrong or failed in an obligation
SYNONYMS: self-repoach, self-condemnation, shame, a guilty conscience, pangs of conscience; remorse, remorsefulness, regret, contrition, contriteness, compunction

Guilt is the universe’s greatest weapon transcending language, culture and religion. Used effectively, one can successfully will other people to do their heart’s desire without even breaking a sweat. Just ask your mother.

On a smaller stage, guilt makes you do silly things even when no one is pulling your strings. That comes from one of two reasons. Either you’re A) highly sensitive to the needs of others or B) Catholic.

Though some would argue with me, I fall in both categories. Yes, I’m sensitive!

Here’s my evidence:

I love to cozy up under my electric blanket with a good book. I’ve collected an exceptional library over the years, which I have schlepped across the entire city, out to the IE and back. If ever there were a fire (what am I saying, if? I’ve had enough close calls), I would cry over the loss of those books. They would be my first insurance claim. I hate borrowing from friends or libraries. I underline and highlight passages, dog-tag pages as I go. On the flip side, I’ll lend you whatever you want… so long as I get it back. I won’t forget and haven’t forgotten who has wronged me in this regard. I’m unlike Adama in that regard.

It took me a long time–five years at least–to be cool with ereaders. The tactile experience couldn’t be downplayed. But, I got over it and for Christmas I got a brand spanking new Kindle. hell yeah! I’m loving that beast. It’s easy, breezy. I can download anything at any time for a fraction of the cost. I can peruse best-sellers. Even read a free sample chapter or two before committing. Awesome!!!

And then what happens. I read about this tiny Westwood bookshop going out of business because people like me who used to buy them are now downloading them on their readers. That was last week and this week (as if it were a slow news cylce), it’s back in the Daily Bruin. A nearby Borders closed up earlier this month… big deal. But this tiny little mystery bookshop… ahhh. Poor baby!

Now, of course, I’m feeling sufficiently bad for putting these people out of business. How will they feed their families?! Damn it! Now I have to go into Westwood and buy a stupid mystery book. Yes, have to. That’s called guilt.

PHOTO: Mystery Bookstore on Broxton Ave. in Westwood is closing its doors Jan. 31. Go get a book before I buy the rest of their inventory out of guilt. (credit: Daily Bruin)

Don’t even think of taking my sign!

I’ll admit to a very shocked reaction when news reached me about this new old astrological sign. Is this a prank? It must be a joke that some idiot started, another even dumber idiot believed and that a handful of top-level idiots disseminated.

Honestly, after a few millenia, you expect me to believe that there’s a new 13th astrological sign? Yeah right.

Yeah…? Right?!?

I don’t pretend to be an expert on the subject of zodiacs, star signs, constellations or any of it. I don’t know it’s history or when someone decided to divvy up the night sky. I don’t even believe that my day-to-day life has anything to do with my horoscope. But my personality, that’s a whole different story.

I’ve been thrown into a whirlwind with the addition of Ophiucus.

I understand that I’m overreacting or being a tad dramatic. Some have said it’s all nonsense. Some have said that it doesn’t matter. But, look, the fact that I’m obsessing about this is just more proof positive that I am a Scorpio.

According to the very reliable zodiac-signs-astrology.com, Scorpios are loyal (✓), passionate (✓), resourceful (✓), observant (✓), dynamic (✓✓). But also jealous (✓), OBSESSIVE (✓✓✓), suspicious (✓), manipulative, unyielding (✓).

We’re a tricky sign. You either love us or you hate us because you don’t want to admit that you love us. Drop Scorpio in any conversation and you’ll be sure to get an, “Oh!” reaction. Yeah, that’s right. Don’t mess with me.

Now, if I wanted to look at a different sign a “new” sign, I’ve got a bit of a tough decision here. My birthday is Oct. 30. That put me squarely in the midst of camp Scorpio. There’s no denying it. But with this new b.s., I’m either a Virgo or Libra. No offense to either sign. I know plenty good people in each, but AUGHHH the last thing I want to be is a dorky person holding some scales. And a virgin lady? Wow, I got a realy tough choice here.

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

Since I began researching these two signs, I was digging myself deeper in my own personal quagmire. I don’t know if it’s the phenomena of thinking of something after specifically being told not to. Or better yet, taking an introductory psych class and convincing yourself you suffer from every possible known disorder.

Regardless, here’s what I learned about Virgos that applies to me. Again, this is from that bastion of hard evidence:

Virgo is a very independent zodiac sign. They are fully able to put their intelligence to use and get things done for themselves. They may dwell too much on the past and over complicate things…

Virgos are very intelligent, they have an excellent memory and a highly analytical mind. This makes them good investigators and researchers. They also have the ability to probe into a person’s emotions and they can often see into people and detect what their motives are.

They need to be organized in their mind, sometimes all their energy is taken from organizing their mind that they have a difficult time organizing their surroundings.

Virgo has a constant drive to improve and perfect, this can lead to extreme pickiness and finickiness.

I know I’m a Scorpio, true and through. That, of course, includes my tad-dramatic reaction to this. You can call it determinedness or obsession. Either way, two sides of my same coin.

Ahlan wa Sahlan!

Ahlan Bikum!!

Welcome to Day 99 of Operation KickAss aka Learning Arabic.

I just now did the math and that looks mighty impressive. Sadly, a bit misguided. It has indeed been 99 days since I walked into my first Arabic class not understanding anything and clutching to my ability to imitate the same sounds everyone else made. The small detail I’ve avoided (until now) is that I haven’t touched my books, flashcards or cracked open my notebook since I turned in my final a month ago.

A key campaign in Operation KickAss was that I would spend the few weeks between classes, studying grammar and memorizing words so I’d be ready to kick ass on the first day of class. Woops.

Not only is that not going to happen, but I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten about 40% of last quarter. To borrow a phrase from these football-fevered times, I’VE BEEN SACKED. Well behind the line of scrimmage. Is that even correct usage??

Class starts tonight and I need a quick cram session. So…

MA’A SALAMA

PHOTO: Ahlan wa sahlan or “welcome” on a coffee cup.

What resolve!

I made the deadline. My own internal, meaningless deadline.

To make sure I was serious about my New Year’s resolutions, I vowed to write them out by the end of the first week of January. First, it was Dec. 31. But laziness impeded that. Then, it was Jan. 1, then the end of the weekend and finally, the end of the first week.

Writing them out and posting them, holds me accountable. It also helps provide a reference because, unfortunately, my resolutions don’t read like deep life-changing goals. More like a To-Do list or some weekend errands.

REvisiting 2010

I roundly failed at each and every one of my resolutions from last year. Which means? I’m trying them again. To recap: I resolve to read 30 new books, run 500 miles, eat kosher (for more than one day in a row), do a pull-up. It won’t be easy. I’ve already started off on a bad foot/ankle. Haven’t run more than a couple yards to beat the bathroom crowd at HP7Pt1 in mid-November. Even that was ill-advised. But things are looking up. I’ve started PT and hope to be back to the back-of-the-pack by February.

But for everything else, I’m looking good. I have a shiny, new Kindle for the reading. I’m cutting down on cheese, which will undoubtedly, help me in my attempts to have a few back-to-back-to-back kosher meals. I’m focusing more on upper-body strength (thanks to a weak ankle) so I’ll be able to conquer that elusive pull-up, my own personal Windmill.

My Before-30 List

The crux of this blog. I need to get cracking on the list of things I wanted to do. I, sadly, can’t run The LA Marathon this year, but maybe once I’m all healed I’ll be able to run a marathon in Los Angeles. Lame. This is what I absolutely will do this year: watch AFI’s 100 best movies, find my red lipstick, play the accordion, ride a horse, visit two world wonders, continue my Arabic studies, shoot a gun, go rock-climbing, run in Central Park and see a Broadway play on Broadway, win at chess, take a dance class, take a martial arts class, take a cooking lesson, relax at a spa… ahhh!

And there’s still more…

Year of the Great Purge

In terms of resolutions, this one will truly require my constant attention. I am up-chucking everything!! Clothes I haven’t worn in the last year. Jewelry that I haven’t sported since I was a freshman at UCLA, which is really not that long ago ;). Shoes that don’t fit or don’t get rocked! Shit in storage that’s been sitting in storage FOR-EV-ER. I’m also going to tame that impulse I have to buy meaningless knick-knacks and tchotchkies. Get stripped down to the basics.

Once upon a time, I lived “comfortably” with two other roommates in a cell dorm known as Rieber Hall. I only had some storage under my bed and a small-ass armoire to put my shit in, on and around. “Comfortable” may be too strong. The point is, I managed. How’s it possible that my larger bedroom with a closet, a nine-drawer dresser, a four-drawer dresser, a bookshelf and a jewelry stand is not enough?! My place always looks like a disaster zone and attempts to organize it are full-day affairs! That’s ridiculous! RI-DIC-U-LOUS!!