Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Giving

As you might already know or suspect, I decorated my cubicle to the nines for Christmas.  Trees, snowflakes, twinkle lights, garland, and ornaments abound.  I've even got a laptop dedicated solely to playing a fireplace DVD and snow in the corners of the cubicle wall window panes that otherwise look like a prison visiting room.  It's my little 5x5 winter wonderland.  As a part of this celebratory setup, I switched out my usual coffee mug for a Christmas mug with which to sip my seasonal teas and coffees.

On this, the morning of our last day at work before Christmas, I was walking with my usual balancing act to the kitchen and I accidentally dropped my Christmas mug.  It actually flew out of my hand and shattered quite dramatically on the concrete floor.  All I could do was stand and watch.  There were four or five people standing behind me watching my mug (and heart) break.  Of all the mornings, it happens on the last one, the pinnacle of the holiday season at work?  Word spread quickly amongst my coworkers, many offering me their condolences.  Then, about an hour later, as I finished my last sips of holiday chai out of an impersonal and wasteful paper cup, a new offering appeared on my desk.

I looked over to find a red and gold cube-shaped box and a small brown paper bag.  As I turned, I saw one of my coworkers, Michelle, standing there.

"Now you don't have to drink out of a paper cup," she said. "And I got you a muffin too."

With those two sentences, my day (and season?) was effectively made.  I opened the box to find a beautiful, brand new creme and gold Starbucks Christmas mug.  I'm no Grinch so it's not like I was sitting there pouting and decrying Christmas, but even with my holiday engine running on a full tank, I was truly touched by this thoughtful, surprising gesture.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Monday, December 03, 2012


Wow, over two months and nary a post.  I'd give you the full boring rundown of what I've been doing while NOT blogging, but to share my reasons would be to make excuses out of them.  I will say I've been in a creative drought of cracked-earth proportions.  Last night, however, I was dancing in my living room and I don't know if it was the caffeine, the Christmas spirit, or both, but I heard the hushed roar of a flash flood of inspiration approaching.  I don't want to get ahead of myself though so I think I will post someone else's thoughts before proclaiming to have any more of my own.  At least the subject is topical.


By W.H. Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait til her mouth can
Enrich that smiler her eyes began.

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have to time to stand and stare.

Friday, September 28, 2012


 I was watching "You've Got Mail" last night, a Fall tradition.  For the first time, I realized just how technologically dated it is, which probably reveals me as pretty dated myself if I'm just now catching on.  I had always huffed at the sound of the modem connecting and how abbreviated the timing of it was, but I had never really picked up on the social aspect of it, how it's set in a time when the internet was still a new and novel thing.  Many of the online jokes fall flat now that the internet is so tightly wound into our social fabric, but there was a pleasant nostalgia for the element of innocence in those early days as well.

I was taken back to that time when as Meg's character says "my breath catches in my chest until I hear three little words, 'you've got mail'."  Remember when you could log into your email account and NOT necessarily have anything new there, much less fifty emails you have to sift through?  I remembered anxiously waiting for one.  Please tell me I have mail!  Even though conveyed by that robotic voice, those three little words were like a colored greeting card envelope in your mailbox, a jolt of excitement and anticipation before the who and the what were revealed.

I guess that's it.  Just a quick Remember When.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Well I just had a punch-in-the-nuts kind of a weekend.

Now this is not on the level of things that actually matter in life or anything.  I am healthy and not in trouble of any kind that I am aware of.  No, we're just talking about sports, which, if you care about them you know, can be ALMOST as exciting, joyous, heartbreaking, and devastating as many things that do matter.  It's all about how much you invest emotionally.  Let's just say I am an all-in type of guy in this department.

Please allow me to give you the rundown of the worst sports weekend in recent memory that had me looking to a Paul Thomas Anderson movie as escapism and counting the minutes 'til Monday.  In the order in which they occurred...

--My beloved Angels, who have been trying to send me to the insane asylum throughout this rollercoaster season, blew a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth on two home runs and lost a crucial(!) game in the Wild Card race to the (friggin') Kansas City Royals.

--My proud USC Trojans, ranked #2 in the nation and a popular favorite to win the National Championship as well as the Heisman Trophy for its quarterback, suffered a shocking, demoralizing, emasculating defeat at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal.  The loss doesn't make championship impossible, but it's improbable.  And it was their fourth straight loss to this team.  Joe and I discussed driving up for the game and can only thank the heavens we didn't because I would probably be in jail right now for suspicion of murdering a tree.  Thanks to the brilliant blogger at Lost Angeles, I feel a lot better about this loss now, but at the time, I was bordering on catatonic.  My solution was to drink and go see "The Master," which was just weird enough to disrupt my waves of depression.

-- I am eliminated in my Survivor League when the Patriots lose their home opener to the Arizona Cardinals of all teams.  I hate the Patriots.  The one time I ever align myself with their interests, the one time I am NOT rooting for them to lose, that's exactly what they do.  And, of course, they did it in dramatic fashion.  Down 8 late in the 4th quarter, they scored a touchdown, but failed to complete the 2-point conversion.  So now their down 2 and the Cardinals have the ball and can seemingly run out the clock.  Except they fumble it, giving it right back to the Patriots somewhere around the Cardinal 30-yard line!!!  "It's a miracle!" I thought, "Finally, a Patriots miracle I can celebrate!"  But no.  Their veteran kicker inexplicably shanked an easy field goal that would have won the game and, thus, now lost the game.  This is after they had a touchdown called back for Holding by the way.  If you saw the confusion on the face of their owner, Robert Kraft, following the kick, you know how I felt.

--My New York Jets lose to the hated Pittsburgh Steelers in classic fashion, giving up a go-ahead touchdown when Ben Roethlisberger miraculously avoids getting sacked just long enough to throw a bomb on third and long.  There was also the obligatory stinkage of Sanchez and the erosion of both offensive and defensive lines over the course of the game.  I tell you what, there is no more disheartening way to lose a football game than to watch your linemen get bullied over and over and over again.

--Both of my fantasy football teams lose.  I joined a second league this year to diversify my emotional investment, hoping that one team's loss could be offset by the other's victory.  In this case, fate had me doubling down on defeat.  These losses are incredibly painful because you personally watch them develop slowly over a course of 12 hours of an entire Sunday.

Good thing the Lakers didn't play!  Seriously, T.G.I.M.

Although I still have two of my fantasy players in tonight's Monday Night Football game.  Why do we do this to ourselves, men? 

UPDATE, Tuesday 9/18:  As it turns out, I didn't lose in both fantasy leagues after all.  Entering Monday Night Football, I was down single digits with my kicker left to play versus his Julio Jones.  Somehow, the improbably happened and my team pulled off a sensational rally to win by 2 points.  The hex of the weekend was broken and I look ahead hopefully to a better week.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dog Days

I might not be able to declare it to be Fall just yet (by law, it cannot arrive prior to Labor Day), but nothing can stop me from dubbing the next seven days Fall Prep Week.  Yankee Candles will be scouted (new scents, you know), and hopefully purchased.  The Playlist will be updated and freshly curated.  A new Blu-ray upgrade of the fireplace arrived Friday.  New menus of soups, stews, and chillies will be researched and planned.  One change involves the Fall's signature beverage. As I was saying over the weekend, while I still intend to celebrate the arrival of the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, I can't be held hostage by their schedule anymore.  When it's time to go, it's time to go.

This year, Fall could not come at a better time.  I gotta say, August has been weird.  As my beloved Angels have gone into the proverbial toilet in August, I too have been mired in some sort of doldrums.  I can't really pinpoint it as being due to one single thing or even a combination of any two or three, I've just been down lately.  Let me tell you, there is nothing like a hangover to make you take a long look at yourself and not like a lot of what you see.  These last, clinging days of summer have been dog days indeed.

Still, I sent the summer season out in style over the weekend, visiting the Andersons in Arizona.  We took their boat on the lake (our first time) and soaked in one last blast of sun and heat, hopefully absorbing enough for a lasting glow.  Andy cued up the ipod with the Miami Vice Theme and punched the throttle.  As we skipped across the surface of the water, I swear, for just a few fleeting moments, I felt like Don Johnson.  I needed that.  Also, I went tubing.  I'm a tuber.  I tube.  Dragged behind the boat at 30 mph, literally gripping on for dear life, I screamed and hollered like I was freefalling with reckless abandon.  It felt really, really good.  It would never occur to me so be so direct in my treatment of the blues.  Normally, I would ride it out over time, using music, comfort food, and movies to keep me afloat as I eventually drifted back to shore.  As it turns out, an adrenaline-riddled ride on an innertube is much more efficient.

While I am still feeling more down than up, I can see that the harsh light is fading and the crisp sentimentality of fall is rolling in on the horizon like the marine layer that has returned to envelope my neighborhood in the evenings.

And if all else fails, as of Saturday, we've got football.  Happy Fall Prep Week everyone.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Head Space

So I've been meditating lately.  Yeah I said it, meditating.

Before you conjure up images of sitting on the floor, legs angled into an impossible pose, hands opened upward, with guttural humming, let me just say it doesn't have to be like that.  I would guess it can be for certain styles or disciplines or what have you, but it's not required.  My experience has been guided not by a Tibetan monk in the Himalayas, but, rather, by an iphone app created by a former monk.  There actually is an app for that (actually several).

I am not going to tell you how it's radically changed my life, blown my mind, and transformed me into a zen master.  Not because I fear your eye rolls, but because, let's face it, it's only been 12 days I've been doing this.  That being said, I have noticed an ever so slightly greater sense of clarity and ability to observe my emotions without being enslaved by them.  If you know me at all, at some point you've surely chuckled at my ineptitude with the latter.  I dare say I feel a touch more peaceful and less worrisome than I had been.  That was bound to pass anyway, it's just not my natural state.  I'm not so gullible as to say the meditation is the sole reason for this spark of a difference or even a certain contributor, but what does that really matter?  I am at least pleased enough with the small taste of personal change to continue exploring the meditation on the off chance it is the impetus.

Some of you may very well be thinking, "Just get it over with man, go full circle.  Move to Venice Beach, start wearing loose, flowing pants and stop using deodorant and shampoo.  Become a yoga instructor and casually reference your aura and chakras as if you're talking about the weather."  I get that.  And to be honest, I had a sample of that with this relaxation yoga living social deal I had last year.  First of all, the positions were impossible for my legs and joints, but also the spiritual side was tough to reconcile and to integrate into my daily life.  Where as this simple meditation is not about imagining my inner glowing life force pulsating out my rib cage (not so far anyway), just about a greater awareness of my mind, what's going through it, and the idea of letting whatever it is pass on through.

I am going to continue.  I'm not sure if I am ready to commit beyond the free trial period, but I will leave that tab open in my browser for a bit, metaphorically if not literally.  Hey, look what it did for Phil Jackson.

P.S.  May The Force be with you, my fellow earth children.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Tale of Two Yogurts

I've been suffering a bit of blogger's block recently or hadn't you noticed.  There have been times when I stare at this blank screen and can think of nothing to write.  Nothing that goes beyond the obvious, universal truths know to all, such as "I really love peanut butter."  As much as I could wax poetic about peanut butter for 200 words (I'm averaging a jar per 1.5 weeks), I hardly think anyone cares to read it.  If I stoop that low, I might as well start tweeting my daily breakast.  KRN-flakes, yall!  SO Taste-y!

Rather, I'd like to tell you a tale about yogurt.  Trader Joe's Peach Soy yogurt.  The small plastic foil-covered basin first appeared to me in the company fridge, seen fraternizing with my peanut butter.  This was about a month ago, but you would have thought it was the day after Thanksgiving given all the leftovers in the fridge that day.  It was this same image of dozens of plastic containers crammed in against each other that first inspired my idea for the reality show "Tupperware Wars."  But I digress.  After making a routine piece of peanut butter toast, I went to return my PB jar to its rightful throne on the second shelf.  I had something (I'll never say what) in my other hand so when I found there not to be enough room for the jar, I had to use a little measured force to squeeze it in.  What I didn't know was that there was a Trader Joe's Peach Soy yogurt perched precariously on the edge of this same shelf a couple of containers over, hidden from my view.  We'll never know for sure whether this soy yogurt was pushed off that ledge or whether he made a well-timed choice to jump.  Either way, with witnesses behind me, I was clearly responsible.

At first, I thought he might be okay.  I picked up the yogurt thinking we might all get out of this thing on the cheap, no worse for the wear and a vital lesson learned.  When I lifted the little guy from the floor, however, and saw his yogurt guts dripping, I knew there would be no neat resolution.  I tossed him into the trash can, wiped up the remains, and left the following note on a post-it note inside the fridge where the yogurt had been.


--JOHN K x4691

And that's exactly what I did, I replaced the yogurt with an exact duplicate approximately one and one half weeks later.  My original note, while lasting for several days, had by then been removed.  I placed the replacement yogurt in a spot similar to where its fallen bretheren had come from and stuck another post-it to it that read simply, "Replaced!"  I had heard nothing from the yogurt's owner after having broke the first one and I heard nothing more when I replaced it.  For a week, that new yogurt sat there, note and all, and not a peep was heard, nor the yogurt consumed.

Then it happened again.  You would hope that I would have learned from my mistakes, but you would be wrong to assume I would learn so quickly.  I found myself in the same situation, my hands full, innocently trying to put my peanut butter back, and lo and behold, I knocked the soy yogurt off again.  Once more, its feeble container was cracked, its sad, milk-less, orange hued insides spewed out on the concrete floor.  Oddly enough, I found myself joined by one of the very same witnesses as the first time, a coworker we shall call Meghan.  Only this time, Meghan was not a witness to my humility and embarassment.  No, this time, while flummoxed that this could happen twice, I held not the least bit of shame.  I tossed the fallen yogurt into the trashcan** and went on my merry way.  If no tears were shed for the first yogurt, and no appetite apparent for the second, the joke would surely be on me were I to bring a third yogurt into this fridge.  Clearly, the Trader Joe's Soy Peach yogurt was not meant to be.

**The real tragedy of this story is that my company does not recycle anything but cans and I suspect even those bins are for only for effect.

Editor's Note: This post is dedicate to Bill Brasky.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Calgon Take Me Away

I just friggin' love this photo.  I was gonna wax on and on about it, but it really speaks for itself.  To give credit where due, the photographer's name is William Eggleston.  Apparently he's quite good.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Lighter Fare

When I stepped outside this morning, I thought I was crazy.  It had to be wishful thinking, projecting on my part, surely.  Yet as the morning developed, my feelings were further confirmed.  It felt like a Fall day.  What a glorious reprieve.

The light seemed a little softer, the breeze a little chillier, my mind drifting to chili and football.  We all live in our own worlds anyway, right? so why not allow my world to be somewhat of a fantasy for a day.  It was quite lovely.

When I strolled into work (on time!), a comrade noticed my Jets hat.  I had to explain why I was sporting football today and she said she had just been saying the same thing.  So there you have it, autumn in June.

I'd like to think I appreciate each season for what it is and represents, but let's be honest, I abide summer, but I don't really like it all that much.  Give me two, two and a half weeks of real summer and I'm good.

Anyway, that's all.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Coming up for air

A funny thing happened on the way to acting class or work or weddings or child births or weekend trips out of town...I forgot how to blog.  Cue sarcastic gasps and guffaws.  Hey, I'm not looking for any sympathy here, but let me tell you, I was busy as a mofo bee for a good stretch there.  Something finally had to give and I temporarily tapped out of acting class (this will be another post in itself).  It's been just over a month since I reallocated those 8 hours per week and took some time to breathe.

My first exhale actually came the week prior to my last class.  'Twas the day of Kory's son's birth and since the young man's arrival into this world was scheduled, I was able to make my own arrangements around it.  That fine Thursday morning, I worked from home.  Friends, I'm telling you, it was the most glorious thing in the world.

I slept in that extra forty minutes my body so badly craves every day.  I read the morning paper and went through my usual workout without worry or hurry.  I showered and dressed without checking my watch or yelling at myself to pick a damn shirt and move, move, move(!).  I prepared a sensible breakfast, opened all the blinds and windows to let the draft breeze casually through, tuned in to my favorite sportstalk radio TV simulcast, sat down and took a comforting sip of coffee.  Then I got to work.  I really did work.  In fact, I dare say I was more present, more efficient, and more active than I would normally have been in the office.  Who wouldn't be, working from their couch with a cat on their lap and natural light on their face?  I sent off a salvo of emails and whirled through the usual miscellaneous home busyness as I waited for replies.  It felt a lot better than slouching further and further into an office chair and cruising, I assure you.

After a few hours of tangoing my way through work, I set out into the world, journeying to the foreign land of Newport Beach to meet my new non-biological nephew.  It always feels unmistakably different to be not at work on a work day, but this was the first time in a while that I could say it felt decidedly good.  Usually, I would only be home if I were sick and when I wasn't focusing on the misery of that state, I would be feeling guilty for wimping out and wondering if everyone believed me.  Now I was catching a glimpse of what I had only known as Weekend World did with it's all its spare time, which was the same damn beautiful things.  There was a sense of freedom and it whet my appetite in a dangerous way.

It was just too nice.  The next day, I found myself asking those big questions where the answers only lead to more questions and frustration.  What was I doing with my life?  Isn't life too short to spend 40+ hours a week indoors, chained to a desk?  Wasn't it true that I wasn't even working to live, but merely working to get by?  I liked my job fine for now, sure, but what was I doing that was so much more interesting that it was worth sacrificing paid vacation time and light at the end of the Big Picture tunnel?  What use was the wisdom of appreciating the forest of life despite the trees if I didn't have the balls to act on it?  And why didn't I?  Did I ever?  Or was I just a misguided dreamer who should be happy to be employed, married with cats and access to premium cable?  What should I do, what should I do, what should I do?

The most frustrating thing about moments such as these is that no matter how many times I return to them, no matter how many times I find myself needing to make a change, I never have the time to fully think it through as to what shape that change should take.  It's like a dream where I find myself standing at the edge of a diving board.  I stare at the crystal blue pool below, I smell the bouquet of chlorine, water, sunscreen, and pavement.  I bend my knees and hold my breath and take a big bouncing step onto the board, preparing to commit myself to the dive...but then I wake up.  I return to the dream every night, but it always starts from scratch at the standing position and ends before I've even made the instantaneous decision to bounce again or lean into the dive, much less feel the cool piercing of the pool.  It's a replaying dream always awakened by the alarm of responsibility, the tractor pull of maintaining the idle hum.

I am not naive enough to think mine is an original dilemma.  I feel as if I've read about it a thousand times, but it's usually the setup to some one's success story, how they managed to achieve their wonderfully balanced, thriving lifestyle.  I can only hope that someday I can cut and paste this post before the next chapter about the happy happenstance of what followed.  I know what I have to do the next time I find myself at the edge of the diving board.  I know the answer is to not look, not bend, not take a bouncing step, just fucking jump.  I know that.  However, it's Thursday so I might as well finish out an even week before quitting my job to walk the earth.

So in the meantime...I can at least take solace in that I am not miserable.  I am generally quite happy, smelling the roses, gawking at the majesty of the cornflower blue sky and what not.  My impatience for vacation has been appeased by a couple of recent weekenders.  Those are the pictures I've sprinkled throughout here as they help me maintain sanity as I live and write this stuff. Inner peace and joy despite the constrictions of practical life is most important and I am very thankful to have that.  Even if that peace is teetering as it taps its wristwatch and stares at me as if to say "okay, nice little nap, now get back to acting."  Which I will, but, like I said before, that's another post for another day.  One can only afford so much open-ended hodge podge in a day.  If you're still with me all the way down here, thanks for listening.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I know I haven't really been coming around much lately.  You have been getting my checks though, right?  Heh heh heh...

But seriously, I am on the verge of coming back bigger and badder than ever, but in the meantime I have a question that may just sufficiently blow your mind until I can post something really worthwhile.

Levi's 501 Shrink-to-fit jeans.  For my size range, they tell you to add 3 inches to your normal size to allow for the shrinkage.  Fine.

But why then do they still only sell inseams in even numbered sizes?

I have been hemming and hawing over this one for weeks because it's not like you can return them if you get it wrong, ya know?  It's driving me insane!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Summer Reading List!

By popular demand, I give you My Summer Reading List. Okay, let's be honest, I will be lucky if I actually get through 1.5 of these books. No, scratch that, I shall achieve my goals and finish 2 of them. Anyway, here are the ones I will be choosing from.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Warming Up

--Given my slouch and increasingly sore back, I have decided to take action. I lowered my chair to a comically low height, but it's allowed me to scootch under my desk and be upright when typing at my computer, not hunched over. It's also got my elbows about letters-high (baseball reference). I'm telling you, I feel like a new man already. I'm gonna be two inches taller by June.

--I know there are women who stop by this blog and, ladies, I must call on your expertise. I need to start taking better care of my skin. I'm currently using this Neutrogena scrub that has that nice little roughness to it. Then Neutrogena 55 spf Faces sunscreen. At night, I steal some of the old lady's Estee Lauder night repair whathaveyou. I don't have acne problems, but I have more blackheads than I'd prefer. I had a red spot on my nose that appeared and never went away (I think it has been checked out, hmmm...). Basically, I want to protect my youthful good looks and have healthy skin. Here's where you come in. How do I do it? How do I determine what are the best products? If I go to department store counter, they're just going to sell me whatever happens to be at that counter, right? Who can I trust?

--As the days get longer and the weather warms, I can't help but look ahead to the summer. I'm never very inspired to make New Year's resolutions, but, rather, seasonal goals. The following is a working list of things I would like to make a point of doing this summer:

-Sand and restain my adirondack chairs (no offense, Conrad)

-Cook more. And I don't mean opening a couple Trader Joe's packages and putting them in a pan. I'm talking about actually cooking. I'd like to plan out a weekly menu and try some new things.

-Revitalize the Summer Patio Film Series. Attendance was down already last season when we had to cut it short due to scheduling conflicts. I need to come up with something, even a small touch, to kind of hit refresh on the affair.

-Ditch the blinds and get curtains up in the living room. We have been thinking of doing this for so long. It's time for some action!

-Camp. Every summer, I think about getting a camping trip together and it never happens because we have those BS jobs that offer zero paid vacation days. You end up eating a few unpaid days to take the necessary trips and there's just never any leftover flexibility for camping. This summer doesn't project to be any different, but, screw it, I'll do a one-nighter. We'll get up early, head down to someplace like Carlsbad and spend the whole day at the beach and have one nice night around the ol' campfire. Life is too short.

-Read, read, read. Is there anything more relaxing than laying in the warm sun with an engrossing book? I've gotten so behind on my reading since I started "The Lay of the Land." I'm enjoying it, but it's not a fast read by any stretch and it has consumed my literary life for too long. I aim to finish it this weekend and get to work on the summer reading list, tout de suite.

-Make it to 10 Angels games. We got Pujols, we got CJ, we got a real shot at the World Series. Arte and Jerry put up, now it's time for me to shut up and get down to see my team! What's more American summer fun than a baseball game?

-Get an actual tan. I'm not talking Jersey Shore here. I'm talking au naturale, like the old days when I used to just casually acquire the California golden glow. I realize this could potentially conflict with my call for skincare help earlier, but surely there has to be a compromise? I'm not talking about sunbathing per se, just saying I want to spend enough time outside so as to not look like a ghost.

-Go to one of those free sunset concerts at the Getty. Always wanted to. Never have. I might have to suck it up and just go when the evening is free, rather than waiting for an artist I recognize.

-Make more wine. My very thoughtful father-in-law gave me a wine making kit last year and after cutting my teeth on the first batch, I never got to work on a second batch. I mean, we had 30 bottles to get through before there was available space to make more, but that's no longer an excuse.

-Grow tomatoes. Evie's got some going over in her garden along with various other herbs and color me inspired. Tomatoes seem like a reasonable goal. And rosemary. And cilantro. Have I mentioned how much I (pardon my French) fucking love cilantro? I can't breath or eat enough of it. ARGH!

-Save money. Amid everything prior on this list, this may seem like a joke, but I believe it to be possible. The truth is I am not very forward-thinking when it comes to money and I know that will bite me in the ass someday, possibly soon. It's time to develop a savings plan and stick to it. Ha, I guess I should throw rolling over my 401K into the mix here as long as I've got myself growing tomatoes and chasing a golden glow. Sure, maybe this will be the year.

-Oh come on, I can't end a summer to-do list with "save money." That's weak, if not sad. One more thing to wrap it up...hmmm....Okay, I got one.

-Blog more.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Well, it happened again...

Last night in class, as part of our warm-up we were told to turn to the nearest person and do some repetition, an exercise where you stare at the other person and make observations about them. I get this guy Joe, whom I've had pleasant conversations with about NYU and what not. I wouldn't say we are buddies yet, but we're certainly not strangers and we have not an ounce of bad blood between us. So what is the first thing uttered between us in this exercise?
"You are smug."
I shit you not. My knees buckled. I stayed in the exercise which calls for me to repeat what he's observed, "I am smug," but on the inside I was screaming in exasperation, "I am NOT fucking smug! I am SMILING! I am just looking at you and SMILING because I am--get this--HAPPY!"
I give up, friends. Smug is as smug appears to your acting class classmates. I are smug. I take solace in the images above, obtained as top results in a Google image search for "smug."

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A Case of the Mondays

I went to the dentist Monday afternoon. But wait, there's more!

When I started the new job up here in the valley, I thought I would need to find a new dentist, leaving behind the one I really like in El Segundo. I had handled my dental affairs over a lunch break. Then my boss pointed out what would probably be obvious to most people, why switch? Monday marked my first time working the ol' leave-work-at-three-o'clock-and-don't-come-back deal. I hadn't really thought about it until I found myself out in the free world on a work day, not sick, not rushing to get back, but this was unfamiliar territory for me. Unfamiliar at least in the last 15 years or so. The first thing that came to mind, in fact, was back in high school. I remembered how even working around tennis and drama, there were still these great long afternoons to work with. I remember going to Knott's Berry Farm sometimes on a Wednesday. It was not complete freedom, mind you. There was still homework to be done and the next school day to get ready for so it was hardly like a weekend. Yet, in those few hours when the light was golden or the falling rain could be heard above anything else, there was a slowness, a sweetness, and a stillness that, in hindsight at least, was very precious. Being older and having not experienced this, okay, magic in so long, I could really appreciate it and savor it as I lived it.

I got the dentist out of the way. No cavities, impressive gum regeneration, yada yada yada. Then I went and got a hair cut. She took a little too much off the back, but it was my fault, I was egging her on. I look like a cross between The Dutch Boy and He-Man, but it'll grow back. Next, I went shopping, or tried to anyway (I was disappointed in the color of the khakis). By then, it was high time for The Richmond, which is where I was always so tempted to go after the dentist, but, alas, had to go back to work. It took me switching to a job 18 miles away to finally do what I wanted. I don't need to tell you how much I enjoyed The Richmond. Couple pints, turkey sandwich, and a great peace of mind.

I was utterly exhausted that night. I went to bed at 9:30. Was it from the beer? You could make that argument if you wanted to be obvious and boring :-P. I would venture that I had enjoyed a great release, a relaxation of mental muscles I had been unknowingly clenching for far too long and was flooded with emotional free radicals. Whatever the case, I slept good and hard. I wish I could say I woke up feeling peaceful and not ornery, but that's another story.

I love the dentist. If not for the cleanliness of teeth and mouth, then for the day pass into the beauty and possibility of a weekday afternoon. See you again, July 3rd at 3:20 pm.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


It never really occurred to me, but I just realized, I love looking at maps.
We were having a meeting at work, going over our tentative schedule and route for the rest of the season. As the discussion veered into matters which are not relevent for me to comment, I let my eyes wander (mind still fully present, of course) the giant US map on the wall. I could have stayed there another hour. It's such a delight to come across cities or points of interest you've always heard of and maybe had a general sense of geographically, but to really pay attention to them and get a sense of their proximity to this or that. Quite fascinating really. It inspires daydreaming of possible travels, which is, as you know, one of my favorite daydreaming topics.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Still Got It!!

So in case you didn't realize it, yesterday was Valentine's Day. I had class until 11, but I knew it was a special day because when I got home, the wife was still awake! She had just gotten home from a painting excursion and we met in the kitchen for a well timed smooch just before I scrounged together some turkey meat balls. Classic romance. Get this though...and please forgive me for getting graphic...when we went in to kiss, we got zapped. Electricity, folks! Lit-trally. Sparks actually flew. And we're not talking wall-to-wall carpet where this kind of thing would happen all the time. No sir. Hardwood floors, baby. Hardwood floors and non-vinyl tile. That electricity came from nowhere but the spark plugs of our hearts, my friends. Still got it!

The Cock of the Walk!

In three different acting classes, with not a single classmate in common, I have been called "cocky" or some synonym of the word. It's always come out in the context of an exercise, but in only one instance could I pretend they were saying my character was cocky, not me. The first time, I thought it was funny. It was the first night of class and the guy didn't know me from Adam so I didn't take it personally at all. I thought it was hilarious that someone could be that far off in their judgment. By the third time, however, I think it's a little past laughably dismissible. At some point, you have to look in the mirror, right? So what the crap, am I cocky? I don't feel cocky, I really don't. I'll own up to being occasionally smug. My sense of humor can sometimes be dry and deadpan, which I can see as playing as superiority. My boss called me a "cheeky fucking git" once, which was so great I had to accept it as truth. The bitch of it is, the three people I have heard "cocky" from were people I had barely talked to for more than a couple of minutes each, I am certain none of which were spent boasting (about what?) or condescending. I think I must give off an air of cockiness at times visually, despite whether I'm actually thinking about how great I am or whether I'm fretting over the Lakers' needing a good point guard. Which sucks. As much as anybody says they don't care what people think, I don't think anyone likes it when the outside world's perception of them is negatively different from their self-perception. Especially when the outside world is so inferior to you. Heh heh heh...
I'm trying not to dwell on it, but it has gotten in me in my head a bit. I second guess everything I say socially in class, examining how it might be perceived as cocky. It's maddening I tell you! On the other hand, I don't get the impression that anyone dislikes me. Everyone is still very friendly and supportive. I guess if I were truly cocky or if they really believed that was me, they would probably not be nice to me. Ah screw it, the more I try to be not cocky, the cockier that must make me seem. How about I just be myself and let the chips fall where they may? I like that plan. See what a genius I am?

Friday, January 27, 2012


First of all, I'm at work. Just now this girl came by our little quartet of facing cubes to say goodbye because today was her last day. There were several pregnant pauses where it seemed she was waiting for someone to stand up and give her a hug, but no one did. Finally, she walked toward one of the other guys and initiated the hug. At this time, I rose up out of my chair to be prepared when my turn came. She moved to the next guy, fine. Then she skipped me, walked right past me. Like I wasn't standing at all! I remained on my feet, either to play it off like I needed to stretch or to hammer home the fact that, hey lady, I stood up for you.

I'm not insulted by this. It's actually not surprising at all and quite representative of our dynamic in my 2.5 months on the job. We'd always attempt to exchange good humored small talk whenever our paths crossed, in the kitchen or for business reasons in an office. More often than not, I walked away feeling like she thought I was an idiot. Which is not an altogether pleasant feeling. There was no professional motivation for her not to like me. Our paths didn't cross enough for me to even be in a position to affect her job in any way. It was always just puzzling or just interesting the awkward, opposite chemistry between two strangers.

And now, we have the perfect punctuation. No hug, no deal!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Everything, Everywhere, at the Same Time

You know me and my rainy days. I was going to write a poem about my feelings on this gloriously rainy morning, but I lost the patience for composition and decided to just explain it directly.

I am paralyzed and terrorized by choices. I get one rainy day and yet I want to spend it six ways from Sunday. To live in sweats for the day, to read, listen to thoughtful music, and to stare out the window or close your eyes and imagine every place you've ever heard the rain pattering. To run in it, splash in it, taste it as it runs off your lips. To laugh when you realize it's just in that moment that it's soaked through the last dry stitch. To keep walking in it anyway. To put on something fancy and show off that dapper new umbrella by walking the downtown streets taking black and white photographs, stopping in for soup and a beer. To drive up the coast, to see it peppering the ocean waves, turning the sand dark. I want to do it all. Yet there is only one choice that can be made, of course. Sometimes that simple truth is hard to accept and the satisfaction of living one of them is lost for not living all of them. Then there's mornings like this one where there is no choice at all, where I sit in a line to exit the freeway for work while the coast-bound traffic whooshes by, calling to me to swerve from obligation.

In other news...

We cashed in my birthday present yesterday, up close and personal seats to the play "Our Town," by Thornton Wilder, starring Helen Hunt. I say up close and personal rather than front row, because of the unique setup of this show. There was no stage. The play was performed on the floor of the theatre, with bleachers for seating behind us lucky folks sitting in chairs lining the performance area, inches from the actors and the action. At one point early on, Helen Hunt was standing directly behind me, over me you might say, addressing the audience. Yes, my heart fluttered. The house lights barely dimmed. This was in-your-face theater, literally. The intimacy was not just a gimmick. This was "Our Town," this was about Us, so there we were, seeing ourselves and the play, seeing the play in ourselves. Can you tell yet that I was a bit floored? It's over twenty-four hours later and I am still feeling affected by it. The third act, about death, was nothing short of profound. (Spoiler alert: If you plan to see (or read) the play, read no further)

It opens in a cemetery, with the dead speaking from their graves, welcoming the newest arrival, Emily, a character we have seen develop from a child, to a young woman in love, to an adult afraid of growing up, and now, into the afterlife. She realizes she can go back, she can relive any day she wants, and she is told that, yes, this is true. But she is also warned not to do it, that it's not what she expects, and that she will only turn and come back. Of course, she goes anyway. Suddenly, the Stage Manager (Hunt) pulls back a curtain at one end of the theatre and this sparse production that has thus far used primarily our imaginations for its props and scenery, gives way to an amazingly realistic set, a quaint kitchen and dining room with working stove. Emily's mother is there making bacon and when the smell reaches you, you're there too. The richness of this set contrasted with the starkness of everything we'd seen up to that point was like a nail into the heart. Her mother is there, her father as well, and even though they can see her and hear her and speak to her, it's not the same. Now that Emily has witnessed beauty on an extra-worldly level, it's too difficult, too confusing for her to exist with those who can't see it. I think she has a line about no one having time to look each other in the eyes long enough. She says goodbye for good and returns to the cemetery.

As I laid in bed last night, my mind was occupied with this third act, giving way (any topic thought of in bed always gives way to a dozen others) to thoughts of death, or more specifically, the afterlife. Let me just stipulate right from the beginning that I don't believe it's possible for us to comprehend what the afterlife actually is. I think it's beyond our abilities as humans to understand. And yet who can help but to ponder the possibilities. What if my rainy day conundrum speaks in some way to what it means to move on after death? Maybe it means that you don't have to choose where to go or what to do because you are everywhere at once. Every place you could ever be, you are. Every experience you could possibly have, you are having, simultaneously. The question of where are you, what are you doing holds no meaning. What if the most beautiful, joyous moments we'll ever know in this world are merely a view through a pinhole to a flickering candle in the next room? Perhaps what awaits us is to become the fire itself. Maybe to leave our bodies is not merely to lose shape or to fade to black, but to lose the separation between the inner consciousness and the outer world. We would no longer give love or receive love to and from the others we meet, we would be love itself as it exists among everything that ever was. If God is love, we would be ultimately united. I don't think I could walk away from that either.

Forgive me for getting all mystical. I assure you, I am not under the influence of any controlled substances, unless by way of flashback. I hope you can at least appreciate my inspiration, if not where it led me. I believe that art at its best inspires us to better understand ourselves and our world, provoking questions if not providing answers. "Our Town," to me, most certainly did that. Not bad, Mr. Wilder. To be fair and to perhaps diffuse my effusiveness, I didn't walk out of the theatre with my hair turned white. I wasn't bawling or walking on air. In fact, as we drove away from the theatre, towards the sun setting into the seeming eternity of the Pacific Ocean, we decided to go shopping. I know.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

So this is the new year...

Blogging is a lot like sex. Sometimes, even in the absence of true inspiration, you have to do it just to prove to yourself that you still can. Here goes nothin'...
Tomorrow night marks my return to acting class and I could not be more excited. It was an unexpected and unexpectedly long hiatus since my last class ended and I could not be more excited to get back. I think what I look forward to most is the feeling of being completely open and unguarded, which I think I can say with some confidence, is essential. It's a feeling of freedom, a sense that while successes bring elation and joy, even the failures are equally potent reminders that I'm alive and giving myself to something. I compare it, as I do so many things, to standing in the ocean and braving the pounding of oncoming waves. Whether you time your jump and ride the rising water like a zero gravity trampoline or whether your legs are swept from beneath you and you're sent tumbling ass-over-head into the sand, you're having fun regardless. I can't wait to just be out there. So there's that.
As much as I love Christmas, there is something refreshing and relaxing about January, a month that really isn't under any obligation to mean anything. I guess there is the pressure of the fresh start, the new year's resolutions, but in January, nobody is really holding you accountable for those anyway. Do people even really still make new year's resolutions? Anyway, as much as I love the sentimentality and nostalgia of Christmas, January makes for a crisp, glowing morning after. Call me a cockeyed optimist (really, please do), but I feel good things lay ahead in 2012.
I'm not the least bit stressed, I've just had an incredible vacation, but damn it I could use a long drive. I need to trace the coast, watch a sunset, and eat dinner at some place I've never seen before, just because it looks good. "Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic" as Van Morrison wrote. It's the same old feeling, I realize. Even an exhausting, thoroughly satisfying vacation begets the adverse cruelty that so much beauty exists in this world, but is unavailable but for those precious, carefully budgeted periods. I just typed that and already I disagree with myself. Vacation and travel is a state of mind, of course, but I know what I meant. It's disappointing to realize you'd like to do so much, but can only do so much. Then again, what an inspiring realization that you'll never be able to do it all.
I know what I am going to do. I'm going to take a step outside this building and take a deep breath*. I'm going to cue up some vacation music for the ride home. I'm going to drink wine. I'm going to grill something. I'm going to celebrate.
*It's become sort of a tradition of mine with the new job. I don't really get to go out for lunch so most days I am inside for ten hours straight, albeit with a great view. Still, that first scent of the real, night air is energizing.
P.S. Another thing about my new office, I'm on a new floor where the paint is barely even dry. The place looks great, but you can tell construction was rushed as little errors pop up. For example, the back hall is carpeted and there are these bubbles where the glue didn't take and the carpet is coming up. I go out of my way to walk down that hallway and I can't stop myself from stepping on the carpet bubbles. It feels good under the foot and makes a nifty little noise. I can't decide if this is OCD or living life to the fullest.