Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Bode. Toady.

A friend of mine forwarded me a photo from Torino the other day - it was Bode Miller, looking pretty wasted, with some hott chiquita at his side, giving the camera a middle finger salute. Ooooh, Bode! Such the rebel!

I get the whole "New England Hippie" thing. I get his whole "if I wanna get completely tanked before I ski, it's my deal. Live free or die." Whatever. Be that way on your own time and your own dime, bubba.

But if you're not really into the Olympics, if you don't want to try, and you're out of shape?

Stay home, dude.

Drink up, toke up, put your feet up.

And leave the Olympics to someone who's hungry for it.

Bode Miller, as far as I can tell, just didn't want it enough. Hell, he didn't seem to want it at all. He just didn't care. And there was probably another American skier who didn't make the team because Mr. Miller did.

There was an Olympic moment this past week that caught me off guard with its emotion: the final Olympic run of American alpine skier Kristina Koznick. Back in early February, Koznick had torn up one of her knees pretty badly when she skied off an 8-foot ledge on a giant slalom run in Germany. (Yikes!) She really wanted to be at the Olympics, though. Despite being in great pain and hobbling around on crutches, she was determined that she would ski her runs in the slalom and giant slalom competitions. Plus, this girl has gone on her own to train. She is not a member of the US Ski organization; the federation shoved her out when she fell in love with her coach a few years back. Since then, she has trained and financed her competitions on her own. That's one tough cookie.

And there, in Torino, hopping around on crutches, Koznick stayed strong. She did all her practice runs and course checks (something Miller was too damn lazy to get up to do.) For each run, Koznick's coaches would help her off her crutches and onto her skis. This was to be her final Olympic appearance and her last skiing competition before retirement. Entered in the slalom and giant slalom, Koznick got up to the gate for her first of two slalom runs. Slower than mud - in comparison to the top skiers that day - she wended her way to the bottom of the run. Even with her bad leg, she was only 3 seconds off the leader's time. There was no way she would medal.

But still, Koznick had really, really tried. At the bottom of the mountain, her mom was waiting, just cheering and saying, "Honey, it's okay! You did great!" And Anja Paerson, the Swede who would go on to win the gold medal? She immediately ran over to Koznick, hugged her and told her how proud she was of her. Koznick just stood and cried. She would not make her second run, and she would pull out of the giant slalom altogether. Her career was over.

And it all just made me cry. I thought, this is what the Olympics is about. It's about going out and trying your very best, no matter what. And, damned if it doesn't get me kinda teary-eyed thinking about it again right now. Koznick's last run was one of the best Olympic moments for me over the whole two weeks.

Screw Bode Miller and his "whatever, dude" attitude. Let's hear it for Kristina Koznick and all the others who really tried, win or lose.

That's what it's all about. Or, at least, it should be.

How did you come to be lost?

I know.

Not much content of late. More is pending. I have some grumbling I want to do about Bode Miller. I have a half-finished post about my trek to Richmond with the Sasquatch.

I'm really focused on churning out a post for March 16th. It's taking more time and energy than I expected. March 16th is the one-year anniversary of my world being turned upside down by idiots, and I'm finally going to tell my story. Because this had such a huge impact on my life, it's hard for me to write about.

It crushed me. Tore me up and terrified me.

Initially, I was scared by the thought of writing anything down, but now, I know I need to say my piece about the whole ugly, stupid event. But, boy, is it ever hard to decide what to say without sounding bitter or spilling out a lot of words better directed to the Inspector General of a federal agency.

I really just want to share my story as a way of saying to anyone faced with workplace adversity - no matter where you are and how low you have been brought by stupid and cruel people - there is a way out and a better place to be.

It'll be a long post. Just a heads up there, kids.

More soon...

Monday, February 27, 2006

And now, McCloud, too?!?!

This has been a tough weekend for vintage TV Hollywood. Now, Dennis Weaver is gone, too.

I watched McCloud with my mom all the time. Loved those NBC Mystery Movies. McCloud, McMillian and Wife, Columbo...

Adios, McCloud. Happy trails to ya.

Dennis Weaver, 1924-2006

Sunday, February 26, 2006

End Scene

Goodbye to a generation of memories...

Farewell to Kolchak, who stalks the night no more...

The faces that were staples of my childhood TV are fading away...

It's time for the old man to collect his major award...

Darrin McGavin, 1922-2006

I wonder if he would have made it big in today's plastic perfect Hollywood...

Don Knotts, 1924-2006

I know, to most he'll always be Barney Fife...

But, for me and my siblings, he'll always be Mr. Chicken...

Or the heroic Mr. Limpet...

Time to go, Mr. Limpet, Ladyfish is waiting...

Rest well, gentlemen. Be at peace.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Confessions of a Secret Shopper

Someone I, ahem, know (who will remain nameless so she will keep getting assignments) is a Secret Shopper. She goes to stores and restaurants to check out the service and reports back to a couple of different agencies that pay between $10-$25 a pop for a quick, but detailed report on the visit, which usually has pretty specific instructions. It's a fun little gig to make some quick cash and the occasional free meal. (Once, it was up to $80 worth of carry-out from a family-style Italian restaurant. Whoo-hoo! Goodbye, empty freezer! Hello, free dinners for a couple of weeks!)

Often, the assignments are to visit high-end electronics and computer stores. Most of the visits to those shops specifically state that, if the Secret Shopper is female, she must bring a male companion for the visit. I'm still pondering the issues connected to that. Are single women not believable as the purchasers of high-end home theater or computer components? Ponder, ponder, ponder...

Last June, my "friend" did a Secret Shopper visit to a swanky home theater store, with a large, shy arboreal creature in tow. It was fantastic. Not only did the sales associate run through all the big screen TV possibilities for our fearless potential buyers, he offered this awesome private theater experience (for those with a whole wall and $45K to blow on a TV & audio components.) Britney Spears videos have never been so spectacular.


"Toxic" on a huge screen with thumping bass? A thing of wonder. (I think I lose my "cool chick" badge for giving Britney a big thumbs up. What can I do?)

But my fine "friend" recently was asked to revisit this same high-end home theater store. Pas problem! But no male companion was available for the trek this time. No biggie, said the Secret Shopper People. They needed the visit done by the end of the month, so they were willing to take a solo female report.

What a difference a couple of chromosomes makes...

Let's just say, a solo female does not garner the same attention in the big money tech toy stores. It took five minutes for an associate to even deign to talk to her. And then, she was dismissed in less than three minutes, with no attempt to close a sale.

Less than three minutes.

With no other customers in the whole store.

For all they knew this female shopper could have had Big Bucks. But an older man had walked through the front door, and she was discarded for Suburban Daddy War(profiteer)Bucks. Bad move, kiddies.

Here's a handy hint to salesguys:

Do not dismiss your female customers. First, they may be Secret Shoppers, who will be reporting your name to a company that isn't going to edit or sugarcoat her report to your superiors. But, more importantly, women increasingly control a greater portion of our economy, and chicks dig a big TV, too. Don't let your shopper gender bias screw you out of a big deal and leave abandoned or ignored female customers with a bad taste in their mouths and a lousy perception of your company in their heads.

It's just Bad Business.

I cannot help but wonder if my "friend" were younger, skinnier, or just better-looking in general, would she have been treated better by the young male clerk, guy friend in tow or not?

A few days ago, I spent several hours - and several hundred dollars - at the local Midas Mufflers in Bethesda. I chatted with the mechanics & managers, who talked to me in a businesslike, but bland way. I was the only customer planted in their austere waiting room for ages. I read a whole issue of "Field and Stream." My god - did you know that, if you're doing ocean fishing down in the Florida Keys, guys, you need to wear your tighty whities under your baggy shorts or sunscreen the crap out of your "boys", otherwise, you can burn the hell out of your scrotum from sunlight reflected up from the water?!? No? Me, neither! Thank you, Field and Stream!

But I digress...

Somewhere into hour four, an attractive woman came in and three men zoomed to the reception desk, all smiles. "Are you having a good day, guys?" She said, hand on hip. One of them immediately grinned and said, "Well, it's a good day now. Been a crappy day up until now. But all you need is a pretty woman to improve the whole thing! How can we help you?"

Oy. I recognize I'm not exactly any man's beauty dream, but jeez! Didja even remember that I was in the room, guys?!? Nice way to make somebody feel even more like a troll than usual. I paid them so much for my car repairs, they should have thrown in some compliments, a foot massage, dinner and a movie.

At the very least.

Just remember, that troll-woman may be your meal ticket. Beware her mighty power! (And her gift for writing a damn honest review of your customer service.)

Must See TV?

Okay, TV Girl here hasn't been watching much TV of late. Work has been crazy, so I mostly go home and nod off pretty quickly these days. I make sure I see "LOST" and "Project Runway" (dear god, how did Santino make it to Fashion Week?!?!?), but just about everything else is a lost cause these days. However, I know there are some good things I missing out there, much of which I'll have to just put on my Netflix queue when each season comes out on DVD.

So, friends - if you had one or two shows to recommend - shows you think I'm nuts to be missing - what are they? I'm soliciting ideas for when I actually have some slug-like downtime.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Oh, and another thing...

If you're going to call someone at 2:45 in the morning, unblock your freaking phone number. That way, when you suddenly hang up after thirty seconds of silent response to my repeated "Hello? Hello? HELLO?!?", I'll know:

1. It's an emergency, you can't breathe/move/speak and I should - and can - call you back


2. You're an idiot, and I should have access to your number so I can call you back

Just a public service announcement from the woman who was awakened by a "PRIVATE NUMBER" call at, yes indeedy, 2:45 this morning.

Dang it!

I know the rules: carry the camera at all times. Yet, I forget most days.

Tonight, a kitchen and bath remodeling store in Bethesda fell victim to the devious Neon Gods and was reduced to this:


Now, "Hen & Bat" is a store I'd visit. In fact, I'd like Hen & Bat to design a fine master bath for me, complete with heated roosting rack and a nice textured ceiling, with good grips for hanging upside down while steaming one's leathery wings. Perhaps they have a semi-annual "feathers & guano" 75 percent off sale.

One can only hope.

I will have to bring the camera tomorrow and hope the Neon Gods are still up to their antics come evening...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

And additional thanks to...

...one Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who missed being hit #25,000 by a mere minute. Congrats, Mr. 25001! You get the runner-up prize of some old Soviet stuff from my collection of Russian Junk.

Expect a parcel of Cold War joy, heh heh heh!

25,000 hits?!? Holy crow!

I know this isn't a big deal for high-volume bloggers, but down here in Groundling-ville, I'm really amazed. Courtesy of my 4.5 loyal readers, I've just had my 25,000th hit to the Church of the Big Sky! For the record, my wonderful friend the Sasquatch - my very first reader last March - was visitor #25,000. Thanks, Squatchito! You get a home-cooked meal of Chicken Glop a la Merujo as your prize.

My appreciation goes out to everyone who drops by here. You make me feel a little less like I'm just talking to myself. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing.



Cruel (to be kind)

His name was Chris, and he, like me, still had his high school gawkiness to shed when I first met him the day I arrived at college. He had braces and a shaggy head of hair and just seemed like a nice guy. That first night, he was hunkered down in my dorm room with me, my 7 1/2-fingered, wormy roommate Anne, and my next-door neighbor Roberta as we watched music videos on my tiny black & white TV. The local PBS station showed 80s music videos one night a week, with an educational twist: they would make a game out of each video's lyrics. The first video we saw, for instance, was "Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go)" by WHAM! Before the video started, a black screen showed the words "Long O Search" and the jitterbuggy (yeah, yeah, yeah!) song kicked in. They ran the lyrics at the bottom of the screen, highlighting each long O George Michael intoned. It was completely silly, but we ate it up. Oh, the low-tech innocence of 1984!

Chris followed me like a puppy in those early days, but I had my eye on the dorm's resident screwed up, but hot guy, John the Texan. Like many relatively sheltered fat girls, I went straight for the Bad Decision Dude, and I foolishly was his in-between girlfriends platonic friend. Nothing ever happened between us, except for me being stupidly available to hang out with him whenever he felt like not getting laid. Later, I figured out what a total jackass he was - and what a moron I was - when he started making out with a close friend in my dorm room.

Scratch that.

In. My. Bed.

Building a wall of relationship bitterness, one poor choice at a time!

Through it all, Chris was there, always ready to talk, always with a hug, holding my hand and offering me deep, as-meaningful-as-teens-get looks. He'd ask me out to movies, out to dinner. But there was something that always stopped me, beyond my desire to have the attention of the Texas Toad downstairs. I just knew something wasn't quite right. One night, he tried to put his awkward moves on me, and I just got up and walked away. It was weird. He didn't talk to me for a couple of weeks after that, but then, he was right back at my door, the puppy dog at my heels.

Christmas came along, and our dorm decided to have a "Secret Santa" exchange. I ended up pulling the name of the most terrifying and disturbed resident of the entire building: Linnet. Linnet was the daughter of a well-known mystery author and a child of relative privilege. She dressed in Scottish tartans and punk-rock-ish black jackets, held together with safety pins.

Linnet also believed she was a Vulcan.

As in, Leonard Nimoy, live-long-and-prosper, crazy-ass eyebrows and ears Vulcan.

Linnet, in fact, had shaved her eyebrows to make them as pointy as possible. (By her junior year, she'd added prosthetic ears to her look.) She kept a black & white photo of Spock on her dresser, surrounded by candles in a Star-Trek-meets-Goth semi-darkness.

Did I mention, she also claimed to be an anarcho-communist?

Lucky, lucky me. I couldn't get one of the girls would probably would have been happy with a stuffed animal or an illegally procured bottle of Malibu. Noooo, I have to get the resident freak-child. We were supposed to keep the gift to $10 max. I ended up buying her tartan-edged writing paper, a roll of tartan stamps and tartan-covered pencils (with little Scottie dog erasers on the ends), and, much to my amazement, Linnet loved them. First - and only - time I saw Vulcan McCommunist smile in our four years at Macalester. Go figure.

My Secret Santa gift was left on my bed. A mysterious envelope with no markings. Inside were two highly-coveted tickets to one of the annual holiday performances of the Nutcracker at Northrup Auditorium at the University of Minnesota. The tickets were expensive. Really expensive. And my brain, was, apparently, very small. I should have known it was Chris that bought these tickets, but I didn't make the connection. (D'oh!) I went next door and asked Roberta if she'd like to go. Of course, she said yes. Anyone in the Twin Cities would have been a fool to turn down one of those suckers.

Later that day, Chris came by and inquired about my gift. Did I like it? Really like it? I got slightly annoyed at how many times he asked. Finally, he coughed up the news that he was my Secret Santa. And, of course, he expected that we would be going to the performance together.

I had to give him the bad news - I'd invited Roberta. He should have just handed the tickets to me, rather than leaving them on my bed. He should have said, "Hey, I'm your Secret Santa, and we're going to the Nutcracker!" And you know, had I not still had that weird "Spidey Sense" tingling about Chris, I might have told Roberta it was a no-go. But something remained, something troubling, in the back of my head.

Turns out, Chris had asked around the building until he'd found out who really had drawn my name in the Secret Santa deal. He'd exchanged my name for his original draw, just so he could get those tickets for us to go to the ballet, so intent was his pursuit of my attention. But even then, I withdrew. He was kind and attentive, and I was, seemingly inexplicably, cruel. My defenses were up against a guy who wanted me. What was my problem?

After the Nutcracker Incident, Chris ditched me. No more puppy dog at my heels. Not even a greeting in the hallway. I was invisible, and, perhaps, justifiably so. Chris found his element in the Speech & Theater Department, doing just about every production they mounted. I'd see him coming back to the dorm after rehearsals or performances, his face still covered in stage makeup.

It would be months later when I finally put two and two together. Months after Chris had found another fat, gawky girl to be his girlfriend. My moment of realization came when Chris broke that girl's heart when she found him passionately locking lips with another boy backstage at a college theater production.

Yep, Chris wasn't straight. He finally came out at the end of that year. (I think his angry girlfriend's sense of betrayal may have helped accelerate his outing, frankly.)

That weird inkling I'd had all year, I think, was just my nascent gaydar finally kicking in. I'd been badly burnt in high school, when my boyfriend of a year revealed himself to be gay. He was a year ahead of me in school, and, just a week before he was set to leave for college, he drove past my parents house and threw a box of my belongings on the lawn. This surprised me, as we'd spent the previous evening strolling through a park together, hand in hand, kissing like crazy. He called me later that day, after I'd retrieved my bits and bobs from the yard. He didn't love me anymore. His class ring was to be returned via a third party.

I didn't understand. Neither did our friends. Then, he called one of our friends and explained that, while he was dating me, he was also engaged in clandestine sex with a 14-year-old boy who lived down the street from me. In fact, they had their liaisons in the same park where we'd been strolling the night before. Gee, not only was he really, really, seriously not into me, he was having sex with an underaged boy. Lovely.

That led to much ugliness for me, and a genuine wariness of any man who gave me more than a moment's attention. That's a wariness that's lasted a good, long time.

Twice, when I lived in Russia, I had gay men - one a Russian, the other one French - try to get me to marry them so they could get green cards and move to the 'States. These two were not kids trying to find their way, but professional, polished men in their 30s. It's as if I had a tattoo on my forehead reading, "Fat chick. Easy shot at a fake marriage!"

Not the case, buckaroos. Not the case.

I deeply empathize with the challenges faced by gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered people in finding their way in our strangely puritanical society. I don't understand homophobia - I simply find it sad and pathetic. But I get downright angry with that small group of gay men who use women they feel are easy targets to help them hide themselves or who they feel are desperate enough for marriage that they'll take on someone who not only doesn't love them, but has no attraction for their gender. As someone who's been in that position more than once, let me say this guys: it's uncool.

Don't do it.

Grow a set and face the world.

I can't hide the fact that I'm fat. And that means that I have to deal with the cruelty and the stupidity and the bigotry of ignorant people all the time. And the last thing that fat chicks need are guys who want to use them as big societal camouflage tarps - especially guys who need to face the world the same way we fat chicks have to.

I used to beat myself up over not taking Chris to the Nutcracker with me. I used to think I was just a cruel kid. But my instincts were right, and I likely saved myself a lot of grief (that got translated into grief for another fat girl), but I hope that my moment of cruel rejection helped him take one more step to being out and content and who he really was. I'll probably never know if that's the case. But wherever he is, I hope he's happy.

My high school boyfriend? I found him online. He's a well-respected academic and a nationally known expert on statistics. He lives with a guy who calls himself "Chi Chi" and calls gay square dances. Chi Chi.

The two guys in Moscow? The Russian found a Dutch girl to marry him. I'm sure he's pretty happy in Amsterdam, but I'll bet you dollars to donuts they're no longer married.

The other one? My Parisian nightmare? Oy vey! He (much like my 7 1/2-fingered, wormy college roommate) requires his own blog entry. He's the reason I fled Moscow, despite having job offers to stay. I hadn't heard from him for ages, and then, four years ago, he sent me some crazy-ass e-mail saying that friends in New York wanted him to come open a restaurant with them. He still needed a green card. Was I still single?

Was I still single?!?!?

Some people never learn.

I deleted his e-mail.

Cruel to be kind. (In the right measure.)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Sticker Shock

$869 in car repairs today.

Anyone want to buy some plasma or my soul?

I need a nap. Or a drink.

Maybe both.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Thomas Dolby on tour - listen up, DC peeps!

If you read about my trek to Los Angeles, you know I'm awfully fond of the music of Thomas Dolby. There aren't that many musicians who would inspire me to haul my carcass 3,000 miles across country for a handful of songs. But the Dolby is something special. He is, frankly, a vastly underrated gem of 1980s/1990s music. He's also a tech-savvy guy with a visionary edge that has put him in the forefront of digital music for the Internet and mobile industry. (Think of him when you hear the ubiquitous Nokia ringtone - he handled the polyphonic arrangement of that sucker. He also did this great ringtone for a VP of Nokia who was slapped with a stupendously large speeding ticket - it's the sound of a motorcycle being pursued by the police.)

And, to top it all off, Dolby is just one damn nice guy.

So, the time is growing near, children of the 80s, for Mr. Dolby to take his show on the road. And a good show it will be. He was great live in L.A., and a full set of his music will be fantastic. He'll be touring both the West Coast (in April) and the East Coast (in May.) I understand that he'll have around 10 gigs on each coast, and the full tour list will be out in a few weeks. However, DC, NYC, and Philly area folks - the dates for his gigs in your 'hoods have been announced:

May 3 2006
Joe's Pub
New York, NY

May 4 2006
Joe's Pub
New York, NY

May 5 2006
Sellersville Theatre
Sellersville, PA

May 7 2006
Rams Head On Stage
Annapolis, MD

May 8 2006
The Birchmere
Alexandria, VA

I am tickled pink that Dolby will be playing two nights in the Washington area, and I hope that some of you fine folks will be there to tune in 'til the tune suits you right. Get your tickets while there are tickets to be had!

Tune in tonight.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Red Shoes

The summer before I left for college, I did some community theater. I was supposed to be an English and Theater major in college. That was my original plan. I even had a scholarship from the English Department at my high school. But something in me snapped, and, for reasons I cannot clearly remember, I decided I was going to do Russian Area Studies. This came as a surprise to my English teachers. I think it may have been a surprise to me, too. I was a teenager. Go figure.

But I still loved theater, and I wanted so badly to be part of that local scene one last time before I left for Minnesota. I tried out for one of the Greek tragedies in the park in Rock Island. I got the part of the Nurse in “Hippolytus.” He got the part of Hippolytus.

We met at auditions. He was tall and blond and somewhat beefy, probably a good five years older than me. His 80s haircut flopped in his eyes, hidden behind tortoise shell horn rim sunglasses. He grinned and called me “Sweetie” and sat with me in the stands while we critiqued the local gentry coming out to try their hand at stage play. He made me feel warm from my head to my toes.

We were both always early for rehearsals, sitting alone, chatting away about music and movies. I wore a painters cap from my intended college, Macalester, and I remember him taking it from my head one day and wearing it throughout rehearsal. He’d gone to my college, it turned out, but then dropped out to just pursue theater and art (I guess now we’d call him a “designer” from what he liked to do then.) One day, by chance - not difficult in the preppy uniform 80s, I suppose - we both showed up in red polo shirts (collars up), khaki shorts, and, strangely, red Chuck Taylor Converse high tops. Matching sunglasses, matching haircuts, matching clothes, matching personalities. We laughed a good, long time.

The next day, he showed up with his Walkman and put the headset over my ears. Elvis Costello sang to me:

Oh, I used to be disgusted
And now I try to be amused
But since their wings have got rusted
You know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes
But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain
That's when I knew that I could not refuse
And I won't get any older, 'cause the angels wanna wear my red shoes

And every day after that, you’d hear him singing around the set, “Oh, I won’t get any older, ‘cause the angels wanna wear my red shoes…” and he’d look around for me and just smile that crocodile grin. Between scenes, while the stagehands moved the set, he’d sit next to me, leaning into me, an arm around my shoulder, whispering conspiratorially in my ear, all while my heart pounded away. He was handsome, we were inseparable in the park, and, lord, he knew all his lines cold by the third run-through! I was so impressed and so amazed by this man who gave me all his attention for two or three hours every day for a handful of weeks.

He talked about how he should come up and visit me at college in Minnesota that fall. Show me all the places where he’d hung out that one year at Mac. I just beamed at the thought of this man wanted to come visit me. This tall, blond Scandanavian man, cultured, handsome, so… everything.

And then, the day of the dress rehearsal, he came up to me and said, “Hey, hon – this is Andrea, my fiancée. Andrea, this is Melissa, that sweet girl I was telling you about.” And this gorgeous, tall, blond woman smiled at me with her own crocodile grin and offered me her hand to shake.

I think I smiled back. I think I said something. I think it took a long time for the muscles in my face to loosen up from the rictus I wore. I know I did an awful job on stage. I sleepwalked through each performance. The director screamed at me backstage. No one could hear me through my mask. He’d made an awful mistake in casting me. What was my problem?

He was my problem. And I was a fool. Welcome to Idiot in Love 101.

Lesson learned.

I still have those red shoes, although I never wear them now. I haven’t done any theater since then, and, for the life of me, I can’t remember his name. But whenever I hear Elvis sing, I still remember his crocodile grin and the way I felt when he whispered in my teenage ear.

Oh, I won’t get any older, ‘cause the angels wanna wear my red shoes…

Monday, February 13, 2006

After the snow...

Had I not lost power, heat, light, telephone, you name it on Saturday evening, the 14 inches of snow we got would have seemed even more gorgeous. Even with the interior apartment temperature hovering in the chilly low 50s (and me coughing up a storm), I had to admit - it was beautiful outside on Sunday morning...

Outside my apartment

The street where I live

The deer that decided to bolt in front of me
on the street where I live (thanks, guys)

Frozen buds outside the condo office

Frosty on steriods

Me after getting clobbered over the head
with a huge load of snow off one of the trees

It was beautiful. And so quiet. (Except for the the sizzling and buzzing from the downed power lines, but I'll let that pass...) It was nice to finally have a little winter in our winter. Guess it's time to throw the "Happy Holiday Hearth" fireplace in the DVD player (with the "crackling fire" soundtrack, please!) and just sit back with a good book.

Stay warm, y'all!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Cremains of the Day

I really hadn't planned on UPS'ing my mom's remains to my brother.


But sometimes, life throws you a curveball, and you just have to take that swing.

She said, "Swing away, Merrill. Swing away!"

A wonderful post on Gina's blog about her mom's wishes for her funeral made me think of the preparations for my mother's funeral and the eventual disposition of her ashes, or, as the funeral industry calls such things, "cremains."

Cremains. Sounds like a word created by a marketing company, no? From the makers of Cremora, it's Cremains! Your loved one in an carefree, no muss, no fuss powdered form!

At this point, I can already hear a couple of my less amused family members typing in WWW.SHESGOINGTOHELL.COM. Well, hey - Mom would have laughed at this, so here goes.

My mother was very adamant about her wishes - she was to be cremated, plain and simple. She didn't want to be propped up on display. She didn't want to be buried. But, things get more complicated when you have nine surviving adult children and conflicting interpretations of Mom's final wishes.

However, the cremation plan was never questioned. A small handful of the kids gathered at DeRoo's Funeral Home in Moline the day after Mom's rough last day on this planet to discuss plans with the gentle, sweet son of the man who'd handled my father's funeral back in 1986. He showed us options for "cremation caskets" - you can actually put your loved one in a cardboard box, if you want, but it's not exactly appropriate if you're having a memorial service, even though the deceased doesn't give a damn (and would probably have preferred that you saved their hard earned dollars for something other than a box that's going to be incinerated.) And let's face it, we were not putting Mom in a cardboard box. So, we ended up with the tasteful "Pioneer" oak casket. (Seemed like an appropriate choice for a pioneer-woman.)

Then, came the next issue: the cremation urn. A decision had been made to inter a portion of Mom's ashes in Dad's grave. She would have her own headstone, next to Dad's, in the National Cemetery, noting her name and status as a WASP. That was cool, and it was also kind cool that, rather than dig a new grave, they would simply re-open Dad's spot, and place the urn on top of his casket. It's a nice gesture.

The portion of Mom's ashes not interred with Dad would be handed to us, so that we could scatter them in an appropriate place. Two years before, my sister NurseRachet and her husband eBay Bob had met a B-25 pilot at Mom's last WASP reunion in Texas. He flew a Confederate Air Force-maintained B-25 out of Minnesota, and he'd offered to take Mom up for a ride (as she'd flown B-25s, among other aircraft, in WWII.) However, Mom's health never improved, and that ride had never happened. NurseRachet figured that, perhaps, that pilot might be able to take Mom's ashes up for one last ride and sprinkle them out from the skies. That would have been very, very cool, but it did not happen - I'll get to that in a minute.

Back to the urn business...

Again, the funeral director pulled out a catalogue of urns to show us. All very lovely. All rather pricey for something that was going to be covered in dirt, frankly. Mom was, at heart, a very practical woman who knew how to stretch a dollar to its absolute ends. She also had a wicked sense of humor. We countered the expensive jars with this suggestion: why not put Mom in one of her vintage Tupperware containers - in a tasteful royal blue - and, at the cemetery, we could have a solemn "burping of the seal." This was followed by a lot of potentially inappropriate laughter on our part. I think the funeral director was appalled, and he gave us a rather Spock-like look, lacking emotion.

Apparently, the state of Illinois frowns on burying things that aren't approved funeral goods. So, that is how we ended up with a $200 cloisonne jar to bury at the Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery. I still think the Tupperware was a much better option.

We finished the arrangements. There would be a color guard at the cemetery, with a salute and trumpet playing taps. It's a dying tradition, sadly. The younger veterans aren't interested, and the old men who still see the honor are dying out. Not everyone is buried at Arlington, where a color guard is a given. In small towns, it's tough to find the folk to answer the call. (In fact, a reporter showed up at Mom's funeral to do a story on that very issue. More on that in a moment...)

In the end, there was a viewing at the funeral home. I was against it. Mom hadn't wanted it, but some of my older siblings felt it was important. I was unhappy, but outvoted. It was strange to see Mom that day. She had been so bloated by illness and medication, she was almost unrecognizable when I saw her a couple of hours after she passed away. (I missed saying goodbye to her by a short window. I was in the air over Illinois, traveling to her, when she died. I held it together pretty well until I called the Sasquatch later that day. Then, I simply, utterly fell apart.) But here, her hair dressed, her clothing neat and somber, her WASP wings on her chest, her face gaunt, she was a different person. Looking at her, I wondered if this was the dignified, elegant form she would have been granted in life, had illness not stolen so much from her.

When the time came for the neighbors and friends to come in, Mom's wings and rings were removed, and the funeral director attempted to close the lid. I don't know if many of us noticed that he was having problems, but, in retrospect, it's a little funny. He just couldn't get it shut. I think Mom was propped up a wee bit too high. I couldn't help but wonder if he was having problems with her prominent nose being too close to the lid. Very subtly, my sister NurseRachet went up and gently pressed down on Mom's shoulder as he worked to shut the casket. It was surreal and somewhat horrifying then, but now, I have to smile. Mom was probably up there saying, "Oh, for Pete's sake, just slam the damn thing shut!"

(Now, the rest of my family members have just starting typing in WWW.SHESGETTINGABIGSETOFHORNSANDAPITCHFORK.COM...)

(Already have those horns, thank ya very much!)

One of the neat things about mom's memorial service - it was pretty free-form. Those who had something to say just stood and said it. I spoke about her respect for people and not giving a damn about appearance or money or anything superficial. God, I miss her.

Many of my friends came to the service. It was so neat to hear them talk about how much Mom had meant to them. One friend, whom I hadn't seen in years, talked about how, even when I was out of the country, Mom would call her and see how she was doing. I hadn't known that.

We had a bulletin board of photos of Mom's life, her kids, grandkids... The funeral home printed up memorial cards with a photo that NurseRachet had picked out. I carry one in my wallet all the time.

The morning of the military graveside service arrived, and, about a half hour before we were to leave the house, a call came in. It was someone from the national cemetery. Did we ask for news coverage of Mom's funeral? Because someone from the local ABC affiliate was planning on showing up with a news crew.


No, we hadn't call the press. No, I had no idea what the hell this was about. None of us did.

I called WQAD, the ABC affiliate just two blocks from Mom's house. I used to sit out behind the station and watch the live outdoor weather forecasts with "Bob BetterWeather." (That stopped when the streakers running through the set became too numerous to count.) I was put in touch with the reporter in question, who was just about devastated as I alternately pummeled her with questions and read her the riot act.

It was not my finest hour.

It turns out, she was doing a story on the dying tradition of the funeral color guard, and she'd asked the gents from the VFW if there were any upcoming military funerals she could cover. The guys gave her the date and time of Mom's ceremony, but no one had called us. In the end, with the reporter in tears (poor thing - I can be pretty tough on the phone), we brokered a deal. She would do a story about Mom being a WASP, and she'd use some of the footage for a later story about the color guards.

It all turned out beautifully. Some of my siblings and nieces were interviewed. I apologized for being a total troll to the reporter, who even came over to the house to watch the broadcast with us. That was really, really cool. (Also helps that it takes 30 seconds to drive from the station to the house.) In fact, I need to find someone with some technological skills to help me transfer the news story from VHS to a digital format, so it isn't lost. (The same is true with an audio cassette of my mother giving a speech on her flying days that needs to be transferred before the cassette dies. If you have the skills/knowledge, please zap me an e-mail!)

The color guard was lovely, the weather clear, and the ceremony, short and solemn. The only problem? The funeral home had forgotten that they were supposed to give us part of the ashes. As soon as the ceremony was over, the jar had disappeared, and I started asking everyone where the rest of the ashes had gone. I finally caught up with the funeral director, who was mortified. His folks had forgotten they were not to bury all the ashes. He raced to get the jar back from the gravediggers. Had the jar actually entered the grave, it would have required a disinterment order from the U.S. Government to pull it back out.

Disaster averted.

He surreptitiously went to the trunk of his car and poured out half the ashes into a box. We'd be able to pick them up in the morning. And with that, the jar was laid in my father's grave.

The discount-version cremains container ain't elegant. It resembles an army green, economy-sized version of an old, square Nestle's Quik box, without the cute rabbit cartoon. There is something initially disturbing about seeing a life reduced to a box with a typed label marked "CREMAINS OF GERALDINE N. JORDAN." But after the disbelief fades, you realize the life isn't there - it's in what you carry with you. What you continue to share with others about that life and its great value. But the box is, initially, a bit freaky to have around.

It was decided that I would take Mom's ashes out to Maryland, when I returned to the house in Illinois in July to collect the family photos and genealogical research that Dad had done. I had no kids, I traveled. I would likely be able to arrange someone to take Mom's ashes up for a final flight.

Cute, but not approved for holding human cremains.

Do you see where this is going? It might help to tell you that Mom passed away at the end of March.


By July, although we didn't know it yet, the very thought of being able to go up in a plane and sprinkle some mysterious powder into the atmosphere was fading fast.

Then came September 11. And then, close on its tragic heels, came anthrax.

By then, Mom's box o' cremains had become my bookshelf companion. I'd come home from work and say, "Hey, Mom," as I walked by the shelf. On her birthday, my inner Buddhist called to me, and I pulled Mom from the shelf and made a little altar on my coffee table. I pulled out a Pfalzgraf luncheon plate and made an arrangement of ham and cheese on Triscuits with apple slices (a Mom classic) and lit a candle. I think she would have approved. (And I think my friends would have thought I was nuts at the time.)

But, all good (and slightly off-kilter) things come to an end, and eventually, Mom's tenancy on my bookshelf was over. My brother, Air Jordan, and his partner, my adopted brother, The German, planned a trek to the West, to see the places where our mom grew up and learned to fly and ski and simply cherished. They would scatter mom's ashes across the western mountains and lakes she loved.

But how would I get the ashes out to them? I worked as a contractor then. I had no leave, no time, no money to meet up with them.

This was important.

I would have to think like a Marine, channel Clint Eastwood in "Heartbreak Ridge" and "Improvise. Adapt. Overcome."

I went to Mail Boxes, Etc.

With the box wrapped carefully in layers of plastic Giant and Safeway bags and taped securely, I went to mail Mom 1,000 miles back to Illinois so my brother could take her out west. I did this with a measure of trepidation. I didn't even go online to see if this was legal. I just didn't want to know.

The young clerk at MBE was cheerful and delighted to help me take the non-descript, plastic-wrapped mystery and lay it in a bed of packing peanuts in an oversized box. Meanwhile, I slowly filled out a UPS shipping slip.


"Mom's stuff." (True enough.)


Oh dear god. What does one write? Suddenly, shipping a box has become a philosophical venture.

$100. (No matter what I wrote, I was going to Hell. No doubt.)

I wrote out one of my sisters' addresses in Illinois for my brother's receipt upon his arrival from Germany and handed the form over.

"Oh, how nice!" The clerk smiled. "A Mother's Day surprise? Lovely!"

I looked at the calendar. It was a week before Mother's Day. I had forgotten completely. I just smiled at the clerk. "Yep. I'm definitely doing something special for Mom!" (I'm just not telling you what that is.)

$18 later, my mother had been entrusted to the capable hands of the United Parcel Service.

And then began five days of sweating out all the potential disaster scenarios. What happens if Mom is lost by UPS? What if the package breaks open and I get arrested while Homeland Security checks out the strange powder I'd shipped as "Mom's Stuff"? How will I explain this to more humorless relatives?

Fortunately, Mom arrived safe and sound, and Air Jordan and The German took her out for one more adventure in the West. She took flight one last time, on the winds of the rugged rural lands she loved so much. I wish I'd been there to see it.

It does my heart good to know that she is forever part of that landscape, part of the atmosphere that made her the fearless woman she was. I hope I carry part of that with me, too, wherever I end up going on this planet.

Be fearless, people. Be willing to do something brave and right and true with your lives.

Live decently and kindly and openly. And let others do the same.

I had no plans to write this today. I'm sitting in the coffee shop, watching the snow start to stick, nursing a big cup of Moroccan mint tea. Guess it just feels good to feel better and have a moment for the brain to work on something different.

Here's hoping for more of these moments.

Now, I wait for the phone call from my oldest sister, after she finishes freaking out that I mailed Mom across country...

Cheers from snowy Rockville,


Friday, February 10, 2006

At last, winter is coming!

After a virtually snow-free season, we're finally getting an appreciable amount of white stuff this weekend. Whoo-hoo! My 'hood is projected to get 5"-8" of snow over the next two days. Of course, here in the DC area, this means that people are buying all the milk, bread, and toilet paper available for 100 miles, just in case the 5" of snow turns into a blizzard and they have to go all Donner Party and start eating their young.

"Bobby? Sorry, son. You drew the short straw. But don't worry. We'll eat ya slow and savor every bit..."

The things you can find on Google images... my, my, my...

It'll be nice to see a little white stuff around here. It's supposed to start slowly tomorrow morning and grow heavier throughout the day. I'm feeling a bit better at last, so I think I'm going to take the laptop up to the coffeeshop in the a.m. and do some writing before it gets too treacherous to drive. It'll be nice to have a warm cup o' joe and the opportunity to craft some text that isn't connected to federal funding!

I'm taking a break from watching the always surreal opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. I don't care what country is hosting, the ceremonies always look like bad performance art at a junior college. I know millions and millions of dollars/lira/you name it go into the ceremonies, but, in the end, it's always weird music and a lot of people in spandex doing interpretive dance. I saw that movie, it was called "Tron" and it was better with Bruce Boxleitner and David Warner as the MCP.

Tron or Torino? You make the call!

Okay. Break over. The parade of countries has started. I just heard them call Andorra. Man, I loved her on "Bewitched."

(Yes, I need sleep. Let the slaphappiness begin!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

But, how much for the FBI shite?

Courtesy of my friends Ben and Natasha, who encountered this elegant bit o' signage over by the Air & Space Museum:


Monday, February 06, 2006

Zithromax to the rescue

All hail the amazing Zithromax Z-pak!

Six pills. Five days.

Kick this m-f'ing infection to the curb! YEAH!

Figure 1. Zithromax. My best buddy.

Coda to an L.A. Story

I forgot one great little gem. On Sunday morning, I woke up in the hotel to the sounds of my next door neighbors having a spirited discussion about their day:

She (young woman): "I want to carry the gun today."

He (older dude): "No, dammit! We're in Los Angeles. I'm carrying the gun."

She: "I don't see why I can't carry it."

He: "This is L.A. I told you, if we went to L.A., I was carrying the gun. This place is not safe."

My reality seems to get stranger every single day...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Great Forty-Eight (Part 4 - Saturday and Home)

I'm still sick. Wretchedly, horribly sick. I've spent the majority of the past two days asleep, and yet, I feel like I could happily sleep for the next 18 hours or so. I'm planning on hitting the sack as soon as I finish this, as a matter of fact. So, before my eyelids droop some more, I'm going to wrap this sucker up.

Like I said, the Sasquatch already did a very nice job of telling the tale. But I suppose there's something to be gained from a slightly different perspective.

I felt horrible when we got back to the hotel Friday night. Being up for more than 24 hours (six of it on a plane and six of it on my feet) left me looking and feeling like hell. My feet were swollen and numb, and I have never seen deeper circles under my eyes. I set the hotel radio/alarm, my travel clock, and my cell phone for 8:30, so I would have enough time to slap the snooze once or twice, fall asleep in the shower, and attempt to look semi-human before meeting up with Javi for breakfast.

Javi is a friend I made via another friend's blog. I read a comment he wrote and thought, "Okay, this guy's funny - I have to check out his blog." At that point, I had no idea he was a hard-workin', uber-talented Hollywood scribe and producer - I just thought he seemed pretty dang cool. Turns out, he is pretty dang cool (even if he did give me nightmares with his writing once...)

See? Sometimes the Internet can be a tool of good rather than evil!

I was looking forward to meeting the fabulous Javi, even though I was moving like an old age home resident on lithium by Saturday morning. In comparison, the gentlemen were looking pretty spiffy and perky when I met them by the icy pool in the hotel courtyard. We motored over to King's Road Cafe (getting there a wee bit late, most likely because I was driving and I wasn't functioning on all cylinders.) I saw Javi waiting out front, and I ditched the guys to greet him while I found parking. I thought I was oh so smart and had found some parking on a residential side street. No such luck. No parking without permit on weekends. Drat.

I saw a metered spot across the street on Beverly, and, after waiting what felt like ages, managed to get through the strangely spaced traffic and snag a place.

Handy hint, visitors to Los Angeles and environs: meters are active on the weekend.


I had a huge bag of change, but I'd left it back in the hotel. My bad.

I hopped over to the cafe, got a warm hug from Javi, and then sent the poor Sasquatch forth to feed the meter. (He ended up having to repark the car - I can't remember why, poor guy.)

Long story short - that was a great breakfast. Yep, the food was tasty and the coffee was good, but the conversation was even better. I don't think I could do justice to the delightfully weird range of topics we covered, but it was fun. It's great to meet up with a friend for the first time and just feel very comfortable, very much at home, and laugh a whole lot. Thanks for everything, Javi! (Especially for the great advice on How to Annoy Rich People. That was beautiful.)

Javi, the Sasquatch, and me.
(Photo snarfed from the Sasquatch's blog.)

After saying farewell to Javi, we turned to leave. And that's when I had Bad Eye Contact with a b-list celebrity.

A few minutes before, Gonzomantis had quietly spotted said celebrity, Sara Gilbert, late of Roseanne and, more recently, ER. (Good eye, Gonzo!) She was with some other ladies and a cute little kidlet, who was burbling away happily. As I don't follow the life and times of Ms. Gilbert, I did not know that the kidlet was likely the son of her partner, who I guess was one of the other women at the table. I don't think any of us really gave the group of diners a second thought, as Javi was gathering some copies of his comic book The Middleman (gobuyitnow!) to give to the Sasquatch. (Which was very kind, indeed!)

But, as Javi drove off into the hazy day, the kidlet started to burble and laugh quite a bit.

Here's the deal: I'm a 40-year-old single woman. As curmudgeonly as I may be, I do react positively - and fairly instinctively - to the burbling and laughing of a cute kid. So, without even thinking, I turned and smiled. The kiddo was waving a hand, and without even thinking, I waved back, while quietly saying, "Cuuute kidlet!"

And that's when Sara Gilbert hit me with the Look of Death. The look that says, "You've just crapped in my omlette, and I know you're going to eat my child."

It was fairly harsh. It stopped my smiling at the kid, cold dead. Who knows - maybe Gilbert thought I was staring at her. Maybe she's just hideously protective. Maybe she thought I was going to snap their photo with my Nikon (which was in its case and slung over my back.) You got me there.

Hint to b-list celesbians out with their kids for breakfast: it is fairly common for other humans - especially middle-aged childless women - to smile, wave, and get stupidly oogly-woogly with cute kids. Smiling at your kid in a sidewalk cafe is not a crime. Get used to it.

Crank session over.

On to the La Brea Tar Pits!

Can I tell ya - we were really blessed with fantastic weather for this trip? Sure, So Cal has great weather anyway (except for those wildfires and mudslides and earthquakes), but for three Upper Midwesterners, January in Los Angeles is like paradise. Cool, dry, simply mahvelous!

And honestly, a stroll around the La Brea Tar Pits on a quiet Saturday afternoon in January is pretty damn pleasant. There are nice paths, good landscaping, and the occasional spot of tar bubbling through the grass (which, of course, idiots have to put their hands in and then wipe on the nearest tree.) There are also gorgeous flowering trees and plants that just jump out at you with their brilliance.

These two plant-tastic photos, by the way, I took after the Sasquatch showed me how to use the "macro" option on my camera. Fortunately, he has one of these in his office, so he knows all the cool stuff I haven't bothered to learn yet. (Eventually, I master that technology. Honest!)

After taking a gander at the big bubbling pool that faces Wilshire Boulevard (you know, the one with the statues of the critters stuck in the ooze), we decided to actually go visit the Page Museum and check out what goodies they actually have dug up from the pits over the years. It's a pretty nifty little museum. We got to play with the "leg in tar" hands-on exhibit, where you get to try to pull metal bars out of a pool of tar - first one approximating a human leg, and then one a mammoth leg. No mean feat. I had a hard enough time with the human leg bar. I believe I turned to my fellow travelers and just said, "Well, I'd be dead." (Yes, I am a font of positive thought!)

The guys attempt the amazing tar pull.

One of the coolest bits in the museum (at least from a design standpoint) is the big wall of Dire Wolf skulls they have on display. The skulls are backlit in orange, and they take up a whole wall. It's a pretty striking effect:

This is just a tiny sample of the Skull-a-rama on display. Neat, huh?

Gonzomantis was actually paying attention and saw where we needed to stroll outside to actually see some bubbling tar, so we took a wee stroll out of the museum building. I was walking with my cane this afternoon, so I was very, very happy that Squatchito suggested stopping briefly to rest tootsies and soak up some of that fanschmabulous So Cal sun:

The Sasquatch dozes on a tar-free hillside...

Like I said, it was a gorgeous day.

We saw bubbles...

We saw fossils...

Who could ask for anything more?

We should have gone straight from the tar pits to the beach, but we made another stop en route: the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

I'll admit it. I didn't get it. And three people I respect had recommended it to me. Yet, I just didn't get it. And I'm speaking as someone who willingly went to the Mütter Museum in Philly. When we departed, mostly puzzled, I admit that I said, "Well, that's five bucks and one hour I'm not getting back."

Maybe I needed more sleep and less irritated feet to appreciate it. I'll ponder that.

Next stop: the beach. We found a relatively empty stretch of beach in Venice - just a few locals out on the sand, a few hearty surfers catching some icy waves - and got a little ocean therapy. I find the ocean calming, and, had it not been quite so chilly, I could have gladly stayed there for hours. Unfortunately, my feet were still somewhat numb from the night before, so I took to the pier rather than attempt to trip myself in the sand. (Shame, too - I'd brought my swim shoes with me.)

Of course, while the guys strolled the beach, I met up with a freaky local on a $1K custom-made bicycle. I wish I'd taken this dude's photo - he looked like Slash: the later years. Of course, just my luck, he whips out a bottle of vodka and offers me a snootful. "No thanks," I say, starting to get the Massively Creepy Vibe from him. He's an artist, a scupltor, he tells me. And then, he goes off on a racist diatribe that I will refrain from sharing. I started wishing I was down on the beach with the guys.

This was just about when the batteries started to die in my camera, dammit. I had spares, but I left them in my hotel room. Just as well, really. I was taking awfully crappy photos this trip. Fortunately, Squatch-man and Gonzo were taking some good ones to make up for my lack of skill.

I wish it had been just a little warmer at this point. I genuinely feel healthier on the ocean. I love the water, and, in warmer climes, I can spend hours on end in the drink, especially if there's good snorkeling to be done. I have a prescription snorkeling mask, so I can actually see the fishies and other critters I'm swimming with. (Or, like on my trip to Mexico a couple of years ago - see the big, bad-ass ray that decided to swim up right underneath me. Eeek.) I was pretty impressed that the surfer dudes weren't shivering up a storm as they stripped out of their gear on the sand. (And when I say "strip" I really mean it - I saw a bit more of one of those guys than I intended to see. Perhaps nice under certain circumstances, but not when the strippin' surfer in question is the age of my sisters' kids. Yeesh.)

Hunger finally started to set in - we hadn't eaten since breakfast with Javi that morning. So, we made a command decision to take the One up to Sunset and trail back through the hills to Hollywood.

It was stunning.

I felt bad that the Sasquatch was driving at this point because everyone should have had an equal chance to soak up that outstanding sunset. If I lived there, it would be a nightly ritual for me to just enjoy that view. Too fantastic.

This simply doesn't do the sunset justice. God, it was beautiful.

We tried to grab dinner at El Coyote, recommended to me by my friend AJ (sorry we missed you out there, AJ!), but it was overloaded with people - people better dressed and likely less hungry than we were. We settled on a less hip, but damn tasty Mexican joint by our hotel, and we were plenty happy puppies.

We didn't eat there, but they have great neon!
(shot on the fly as we drove out of the lot...)

Our evening wrapped up with an attempt to visit Griffith Park, clueless that the observatory had been under repair for some ridiculously long time. We tried to find out what the scoop was from a rent-a-cop parked in the Los Feliz Hills, but he was more clueless than we were. Alas!

Next time.

It was a quiet end to our trip. We retired to our rooms, packed, and crashed out. We parted ways with Gonzo at LAX the next morning and the DC contingent continued on to Long Beach. All the way home we marveled that we'd done this insane thing.

48 hours in L.A.

And, far too soon, we were back in Surly-ville, dealing with cold, cranky people at Dulles. I asked our fellow passengers on the shuttlebus to the car if anyone would give up their seats for the elderly couple that had gotten on board. No one would.

I feel it's really important to note: I get verbally abused in DC all the time for being fat. Cruel, useless, stupid comments that serve no decent purpose (happened to me tonight, as a matter of fact when I crawled out of the sick bed to fill my gas tank and get a container of wonton soup.) But out in L.A.?

Not a single rude comment. Not a single incident of cruelty. Nothing untoward. (I'm discounting the evil eye from Sara Gilbert.)

That was nice. That was beautiful. I wish it were so here.

G'night everyone.

Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that I feel better in the morning...