Category Archives: do something

Good Jewelry Joo Joo

Late last week, I walked past the UCLA inverted fountain on my way to work. I found myself looking down at the fanned cobblestone, and it must’ve been at the exact right second because my peripheral vision caught sight of a shiny, bluish item. It was a small hoop earring with turquoise embellishments.

In the seconds that followed, I had the most bizarre inner monologue.

Oooh, that’s a pretty earring. I should pick it up. But, wait, what am I going to do with one earring? That’s stupid. I’ll just leave it. On the other hand, I can try to make a pair for it. No, I’m not going to do that. I know some people who could do that, though. Ok, I’ll pick it up. But that’s a lot more work than this one earring is worth. It’s settled. I’ll leave it. Besides, somebody may circle back here retracing her steps looking for it. And why wouldn’t they? It’s not like they’re expecting someone to pick up ONE earring. That’d be a dick move. Ok, I’ll leave it… as a Good Samaritan. Hmmmm, I wonder if it’s real turquoise…

I made it to the office and to the meeting. Afterwards, as I talked to my colleague, I noticed her earring. It was a small hoop with turquoise embellishments. SHUT THE GATES OF HELL. She hadn’t noticed that the other fell. I told her and mentioned that I saw it nearby and that I was THIS close to picking it up but (long-windedly) talked myself out of it.

She went out looking for it but came back empty-handed. Now, I feel like a dick. I could have gone with my first instinct, picked up the blasted thing, and saved the day. I tell myself:  Next time I have a dumb desire to pick up an earring, just do it. There’s probably a good reason.

Many hours later, I’m wrapping up and leaving the office with other colleagues. We walk by the fountain and I instinctively start scanning the ground. And guess what! Yep, I found it… AGAIN. Right where I left it the first time was that small hoop earring with turquoise embellishments. I told my awe-inspiring story of destiny to the guys… somehow they weren’t that impressed. They couldn’t grasp just how EPIC and KARMIC it all was.

Yeah yeah, it’s just a freaking earring, but still, you can never have enough good jewelry joo joo. And just to prove the point further—I have already been repaid. Last night, I got a pair of earrings as a gift from a friend.

Is there a moral here? Who cares? All I know is the turquoise earring is on its way back to its rightful owner. And I’ve added some little red hoops to my collection. All is right in the world!

PHOTOS: One earring. Two earrings. Red earrings. Blue earrings.

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One more time, with resolve

It’s January, which means its not only the time to set in motion this year’s resolutions but also to take serious stock at how massive a failure last year’s resolutions were. My 2011 resolutions included:

  • Run 500 miles: FAIL. Since I started keeping track on dailymile, I’ve run 272 miles, five of those in December.
  • Read 30 books: Again FAIL. Even with children’s books, couldn’t make it past 20.
  • Eat kosher: Oh please.
  • Do a pull-up: I completely forgot I had this as a resolution. Even though I haven’t tried, I can say without a doubt that I didn’t complete this one.
  • Get organized:

I keep making the same resolutions year after year and keep thinking it’ll come to a different conclusion. That’s insanity, right? Oh well. Let’s brush these failures under a rug, pretend I never made them and start anew (albeit slightly tweaked). My 2012 resolutions include:

  • Run 273 miles: If I vow to do better than last year, I’ll likely meet it and my elusive 500.
  • Read (unread) books: I don’t know if it’s 30, 20, 10 or somewhere in between, but I’ve amassed a lot of books over the years that I’ve never had time to read. You know what doesn’t help? Massive, close-out sales at all those bookstores. It’s like I’m stockpiling for the armageddon and my panic room library.
  • Eat clean: I’m not giving up cheese and I’m not giving up bacon. But if the majority of my diet is clean, unprocessed food, then I don’t give a damn.
  • Do a pull-up: Now that I’ve remembered, might as well give it another go.
  • Get organized: This is the one I’m most excited about. I even have a plan in place to break it down into manageable nuggets. I’ll write a separate entry dedicated to it shortly.

And we’re off!

Spa Results In: Thumbs up

I survived and thrived from my first Spa Day.

Benefiting from an impromptu stop at the Monterey Visitor’s Center, I found a coupon for the Vista Blue Spa at the Monterey Plaza.  I got a complimentary 25-minute hydrotherapy treatment.  Sweet!

A quick look at their brochure revealed this was a $60 deal.  Even sweeter!

They had three different options: (1) a calming bath with seaweed extract, (2) a lavender rose and grape seed bath and (3) one with arnica, rosemary, and other oils for muscle tension relief.

Let’s fast-forward.  I got none of that.  My “private hydrotherapy ritual” was really just a bathtub with bubbles.  I had a little tray with fresh fruit and some tea.  I also had a good view of the bay.  And jets.  That was nice.  But in NO WAY was that worth $60.

But it was free, which means that I’ll count it as a blessing.

Next on my spa agenda was a custom massage.

Considering it was my first-ever, I thought it best route instead of saying, give me the Deep Tissue.  Oh, and I got a pineapple papaya exfoliation.

The results were POSITIVE!  I wasn’t in intolerable pain.  My back and neck survived.  I didn’t have to hold my breath or breathe through the hurt.  Though, there was one hiccup.  My forearms.  They hurt.  Weird, right?

So, now that I’ve had a spa experience, I’m ready for another one.  I want to be wrapped in something, ooh, or some hot stones. Who’s in?

PHOTOS: View of Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa on Cannery Row and their hydrotherapy room.

The Replacement

After the humiliation I suffered when my awesome keychain was stolen, I couldn’t stand to look at that nub of a key for too long.  I found this keychain at home.  It’s not as cute or big as my shoe.  It gets lost in my jean pockets.  But it’s Squidward — my compadre, my SpongeBob alter-ego.  The quic-key replacement gives me momentary solace.  The message speaks to me and puts me at ease.  Om

Now please, go be stupid somewhere else.

Ommmmm

My public service announcement

I’ve been burgled.  Robbed.  Violated, even.

My office key is not attached to the same keychain as my car and home keys.  I like it that way.  I don’t want to have to carry around a pound of keys whenever I leave on coffee breaks, or what have you.  The convenience comes at a price, though.  I lose it — a lot.  Once, I went a month without my key until I finally found it in a jacket pocket shoved in the back of my trunk.
It’s a “big deal” to lose this key.  So I’ve been told by one person, the entire office must be re-keyed.  With eight individual offices, a conference room, four outside doors and dozens with access… it’s “big deal.”  All out of my pocket… so I’ve been told.

Consider that necessary background for the following story.

I leave my office.  Walk down the hall to the bathroom.  There’s no one there.  It’s morning.  It’s summer.  It’s slow on campus.

I place my key with a super cool Chuck high top keychain on a ledge near the mirror.  Proceed into the stall.  While in there, I hear someone else enter. (Sidenote: of all the empty stalls, why plant yourself next to me? sheesh. Well, that ended up being a blessing-in-disguise and I’ll tell you why later.)

Exit stall. Wash hands. Head for key… except. It’s not there! Shit! Ok, maybe I left it hanging in the stall. (I know, I know. That’s obviously not where I left it, but you think of all possibilities in these instances.)  Nada.  I check every nook and cranny in the near-empty bathroom for a good solid minute.

Then I thinkMaybe this lady in the stall took it. Ok, I’ll ask. Except, wait, I definitely don’t want to have a conversation with her in there. I’ll wait.

I fix my hair, as I wait.  I wash my hands again, as I wait.  I’m done waiting.

Think: I’ll head to my office and grab her as she leaves. Luckily, one of the outer doors are open and I can spy from there. Luckily x2, this lady took the stall right next to me and I got a peek at her shoes.

I chill out, all stealth Continental Op-like. I’m chatting with a friend in the office and from my peripheral vision, I see the shoes. Then, I see the whole package — frizzy blonde hair, high-waisted shorts, leather-braided belt, blue polo shirt… UCLA employee.

Think: I’m set. She’s a UCLA facilities employee. She’ll do the right thing and head downstairs to turn it into Lost&Found. Even though it was never lost, but whatever.

Friend says:  “Why don’t you just ask, ‘hey did you happen to see any keys in the bathroom?'”

I say:  “Because that’s not my style. And I’m not going to be as nice as you. Trust me, it’s better to swoop in after and get my keys.”

A minute later, I head for Lost&Found. The guy tells me someone did drop off a bunch of keys.

Me: “any with a shoe keychain?”

Him: “No. Only one has a keychain. This it?” He holds up a ratty yellow-and-blue UCLA keychain. Honestly, the kind that they give out like candy aka worthless.

I see all the keys she dropped off — about eight and none with keychains.  But they look like office keys. I tell him that mine was an office key and that maybe she dropped it off without a keychain.  He checks my number against the ones there, and comes up empty.  He suggests I go to the office down the hall, across from the bathroom.  “Sometimes people drop stuff off there instead.”

Walk upstairs and down the hall and into the second office I go.  Ask this guy if anyone’s dropped off some keys.  Of course not, that would’ve been too easy.

Shit. I start thinking back at how mad this one person would be if I come back without keys. I’m ready to say that it wasn’t my fault. I was burgled, violated. I did not lose them. And just to make sure I had rock-solid evidence, I go back into the bathroom and do a quickie sweep.

Stalls — empty.

Sinks — empty

Mirrors — empty.

Towel dispensers — empty.

Trash bins — empty.

Ledge where I placed my keys to begin with — not empty. Three rolls of paper. I go through the motions of picking each one up just like the last time. Then, I see it.

A lone key. No keychain. Looking like it had always been there.

I quickly grab the key and head to my office because it could either:

A. Be my key without the keychain, or

B. Be someone else’s key in one of the stalls, and at which point I’d be doing the same to them that was done to me.

It’s my key, yes. It opens my office and the office suite. But where’s my keychain, huh?

This beeyotch stole my keychain!!  And didn’t even bother to turn in my naked key with the rest.  Now all those keys made sense.  I’m dealing with a serial keychain-stealer. Hide your keychains, boys and girls. They are not safe. Unless, of course, they’re not that cute.

PHOTO: My fly Chuck high top keychain. How will I ever replace it?

get up and LEARN something

This video is why I do what I do.  Granted, it’s a lot more polished and scintillating.  I don’t see myself doing parkour in front of the Eiffel Tower either, especially since I have yet to master a simple cartwheel.  But I could take a cooking class.  And for all his adventures, I didn’t see him throw some clay on a pottery wheel (my latest escapade).

This is the second of  a three-part series of short films by Australian filmmaker Rick Mereki and friends. The other two tackle MOVEMENT and FOOD and are equally awesome!  Check them out on Mereki’s vimeo page and try something new while you’re at it.

One Month check-in

It’s February = time to check in on New Year’s resolution progress

Revisiting 2010

  • GOAL: Read 30 new books. As of today, I have read 1.5 books, loads of magazine articles and too many stories about protests in the Middle East. But, because not much of this counts toward my goal, the official tallY is 1. 29 to go.
  • GOAL: Run 500 miles. I knew this was going to be hard since I started the year unable to jog and with no clear deadline of when I would be able to. I have not run a single mile since October 2010, but I have walked briskly a respectable 2 miles in the past month. I’m counting that towards my goal. Again, official tally stands at 2. 498 to go.
  • GOAL: Eat more kosher meals. I’ve done fairly well but haven’t been able to string together a few days’ worth of kosher eating habits. AMENDMENT: Kosher Mondays. I’ll post my Monday meals here so you know what I’m up to.

My B4-30s

  • Started accordion lessons on Saturday afternoons. More to come…
  • Arabic studies continue. Watched Al-Jazeera in recent class and could make out a few things. Progress!
  • AHHHH! Even before I write it, while I’m thinking of writing it, I’m peeved. I had booked my trip to Egypt and Jordan almost two months ago and now, because of obvious circumstances, that trip is on hold. I sympathize with all those people protesting and find it exciting that such changes are unfolding across the Middle East. But, I’m also bummed that I might not be able to go. How awesome to be in that midst and witness history?! If I’m forced to change my travel plans, then I likely won’t see those World Wonders before my deadline.

Purging

  • Total failure. Life remains as cluttered as before.

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.

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)