Sunday, August 30, 2009

Book Binge

I've gotten myself onto a reading kick. I have this idea that I want to write a book some day. It's like a bucket list kind of thing. I don't know what it would be about, but I used to write for fun as a kid: fiction, short stories, poetry. And I'm a kick ass professional writer now in all of my work correspondence. But I like the idea of producing something creative. Something also that maybe could earn me a book deal some day? :)

But since I've graduated from school I've very much fallen out of the habit of reading. I love reading. Bookstores and libraries are the most inspirational of places for me. In fact, a friend just talked about going to see the movie Julia and Julia. It's about a woman who decides that she's going to spend a year of her life cooking through every single recipe in Julia Child's Cookbook. When I heard about the concept, I loved the idea of cooking through an entire cookbook, but the next thought that popped into my head was, I wonder if I could read through an entire library A to Z. Uh yeah, that would be a dream come true but may take me about ten thousand lifetimes.

Anyway, I made a trip to the library recently. I thought I would try out downloading some audio books on my ipod. That way I could listen to literature while walking the dogs and getting some exercise. I found a book on CD on the shelves called "The Good Wife" by Steart O'nan. The plot snagged me immediately. It's about a young pregnant couple who one night the wife gets a call in the middle of the night from her husband who's "gotten himself into some trouble." Turns out he was involved in a burglary which went awry and a woman accidentally got killed. The book basically goes through the trial, conviction, and 25 year prison sentance of the wife trying to hold their marriage together, raise their son on her own, and survive their separation until his release. Well I checked it out, downloaded it to my ipod, and listened to it on a few walks. What I discovered was that I was really into the book, but I was not good at listening to it audio style. The CD skipped around and my mind wandered before I could catch it. So I took it back to the library and exchanged it for the old fashioned hard bound book. Burned through the entire 300 pages in two days. It was a great read and I highly recommend it. Made me think about my own marriage and the lengths I would go to before I would ever give up on my partner. It also shed light on the sad subject of our prison systems and how unrehabilitative they really are. But although it sounds depressing, their are also firm nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that make this read worth while.

After finishing that book so quickly, I had the reading hunger, so I moved on to the next one on my coffee table (I checked out three at the library). This one was called "Remember Me?" by Sophie Kinsella. This one was very much more of a Chick Novel with caligraphy title and flowers on the front, sure to be full of drama and fluff. To give you an idea, the author is most known for her title "Confessions of a Shopaholic." I haven't read the book but supposed to be a New York Times Best Seller. So quite a bit different flavor than the last book but I thought I'd give it a try. To be honest I wasn't that impressed with her writing style and found myself thinking I could do it better. But the idea or concept of the book was pretty fun. It's about a girl who's life is in shambles to start. Her career is going no where, her boyfriend is a loser who treats her like crap, she's broke, overweight and out of shape. She gets in an accident and wakes up in the hospital trying to remember what's happened. As she comes to it's explained to her that that accident was three years ago. She's had a second accident, only she has a sort of temporary amnesia where she can't remember anything that's happened in the last three years. Come to find out she has the "perfect life" now. She's lost weight, she's married a handsome millionaire, her career has taken off, and she seems to have all the success she's ever wished for. The story is about her trying to unravel the mystery of what's happened to her in the last three years and come to grips with her new happily ever after as she comes to realize that maybe this dream life isn't all she dreamed it would be. To be honest it wasn't until the last 100 pages of the book that one of the plot hooks finally got me and her writing started getting better. Still I burned through the book in a few days and really enjoyed the ending. Don asked me why I was spending all this time reading the book if I didn't think it was that good. My answer was that it's been a while since I have felt this hunger for books and I want to feed the craving, build the habit and keep it going. Plus, I really did like the idea of the book, I just thought it could have been executed better. Like, maybe I could do it better even. So we could call it good research for the book that I may someday write. We'll put this in the research category of how not to suck.

So with two recent books under my belt, I'll be turning to "Nature Girl" next by Car Hiassen. I don't even know how to describe this one. The description is pretty long and complex. But let's just say it's one of those "chaos and hi-jinx ensue" kind of books with crazy characters and even crazier plot twists. So three different books, three very different flavors. I hope I can keep up with this reading bug although I'm going to have to learn to balance better reading while still getting stuff done. Let's just say that the chores and the treadmill have been a bit neglected over the past week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time is the Currency of Life

I just had the wonderful most amazing, refreshing, soul nourishing weekend with one of my closest friends, Kristi Kunkel. Kristi was my housemate from seminary and it is a shame, really a shame that we had not seen each other for over five years since my wedding. She was of course my maid of honor. When everyone else was off having a last shabang batchelor party with Don on the town, the night before my wedding, Kristi and I had a quiet slumber party, just the two of us in the hotel where my wedding reception was. It was our last chance to be roomates before I became the new Mrs. Early and I wouldn't have wanted to spend it any other way.

From the moment her plane landed, we filled every single moment with experiences and companionship. With two full days and two half days, I did more in 72 hours than I normally do in a year! It was fun going around LA with a tourists eyes and seeing different sights. We made it our goal to have as many "California" experiences as possible while she was here so in addition to doing things like going to Griffith Park Observatory, viewing the Hollywood sign, and walking the Hollywood walk of fame, we also made a point to include things like cheap pedicures, illegal U-turns, barbecues, and walking outside barefoot at 8 AM. It was a great exercise of living in the moment and we made a point to get something out of every moment. For example the last night she was here, I laid out in the living room with her and we talked until we both fell asleep. I had no intention of sleeping in the living room. I knew at some point I would go back to my own bed, but not until after I had initially dozed off. We just didn't want to miss out on a single moment of consciousness.

I really do believe that Time is the Currency of Life. It's the most valuable thing and I feel like we really got the fullness of the gift of the time we had together. We slept a little, talked a lot, laughed a lot, saw a ton, worshipped fully, listened and enjoyed. We're definitely committed to not letting another five years go by before we see each other again. So though our goodbyes were tempered with sadness, anxiety, and holding back watery eyes, we were blessed to not have any regrets and to have future trips to look forward to.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Dancing Queens

With Don out of town for the weekend and me thinking of ways to fill my time, for some reason I just got the urge to go dancing this weekend. Now I have a couple of girlfriends already that go dancing a couple of times a week - mostly swing dancing, maybe some occasional salsa. That is all fun and well, but I really wasn't particularly interested couples/structured dancing. I wanted the get out and beebop on the dancefloor shake your moneymaker kind of dancing. Heyyeah!

So after an A-MAZING dinner last night at the Sprays with Matt and Camille (homemade shephard's pie, crispy potatoe skins, garden salad and Camille's incredible family recipe for delicious brownies from scratch), I pursuaded Camille to go out on the town with me while Matt, Jeremy, and Katy opted for movie night and went to see GI Joe.

Living in LA for more than two years, as a married person with a senior citizen's body clock, I have yet to really explore the night life here. Like most married people, we tend to stick to routine. Our favorite evening gathering place is the Springbock Bar and Grill for amazing hot wings and beer. Depending on the night of the week they also host fun activities such as karaoke, rockband, and live music. If we want something a little more active, we also like Champs in Burbank for their inexpensive pool tables. When we really want to change things up, we'll go down to Santa Monica and hit the promenade, all though it's been a really long time since we've done that.

So doing something "new" is not common for me. But I was up for an adventure, and luckily so was Camille. I have to say, I did feel a little ancient when I was researching clubs to try to figure out where to go and it was quite a task, so many choices and the websites were confusing. Is there a dress code? What kind of music do they play? Do you have to be on a guest list? Is there a cover charge? Drink minimum? What about parking? After much research during the day, I found a couple of options that intrigued me - a lesbian bar called "Girl Bar" in West Hollywood and a multicultural mecca called "Zanzibar" in Santa Monica. Neither of them I was really sold on, however, and most of it had to do with driving far away in unfamiliar territory. Plus, who wants to try to find parking in West Hollywood? Luckily, Camille came to the rescue with a little hot spot that popped up on her GPS called SkinnysLounge in North Hollywood right here in the Valley. You had me at local. Nothing else seems quite so important (music, style, theme, cost) when compared to convenience.

So we dolled up. Camille wore her sexy new sparkly green top and smoky smouldery eye make up that loses you in her big brown eyes, plus, super sweet new brown patterned pumps that I am TOTALLY jealous of. I had just watched Dazed and Confused earlier in the day so I was feeling a little more retro and opted for brown slacks with an orangy striped halter top. Snapped a few photos on the modeling wall to capture the evening on film (er, digital cyberspace), and off we headed to NOHO.

Our immediate impression of the place was very positive on several levels. First, ample free street parking (at least if you arrive early in the night). Second, no cover charge for womeon before 10:30 (great for old ladies like us). Third, really nice, clean decore with good lighting (not to light, not too dark). We started the evening by pulling up a couple of stools at the end of the side bar where the music (good music) was very present but not too loud so we could easily enjoy conversation over a couple of rounds. The drinks were within reason, $7 for shots, $6 for a beer.

After we finished our drinks we headed out on the dance floor to do what we came there to do - get our dance on! We were definitely one of the first people to grace the floor and we chuckled in good humor with some interesting people watching. Of particular note was the girl with the size 2 jeans and the size 14 hair (she looked like an 80s Sarah Jessica Parker), slightly intoxicated and freely getting down on the dance floor. Some guy was trying to boogy with her but she seemed more like an elusive slippery fish that he couldn't hang on to. It was quite amusing. Very into the back bends she was.

But we spent little time watching other people and quickly got into our own groove. Camille put in an early request for Outcast to get our blood pumping and we cut loose and had a great time. There are few people in this world that are more fun to dance with than Camille. The combination of confidence from her classic training, appreciation for the music, and overall goofy spirit explodes into an infectious energy that spreads immediately to those around her. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen anyone combine goofy and sexy before as well as Camille did last night. Too fun!

I'm glad to discover at 31 that I'm not too old to go dancing. I worried a little bit that I might not recognize any of the music or that the energy of the scene might be too young to get into. But actually, I think I had more fun than a lot of the younger folks there. It's rather funny, but as dolled up as Camille and I were, we were probably the most casual folks there. Lots of women in very short dresses, with great legs in stilleto heels, with a drink in one hand and gucci purse in the other, and trying not to dance too vigorously so as not to ruin their hair or makeup. But that is LA for you. And when I saw one girl coming back from the bathroom brushing her nose, I had to wonder how many people there that night were on coke or ecstasy. Just another reminder how much I do NOT want to raise kids in this town. How hard it must be to be young and single and searching for real human contact here. It reminded me of how grateful I am to be married to my best friend, to have the greatest friends and family on earth, to have a sense of myself greater than what I look like on the outside, to be pumped up on my own natural endorphins, and to express all of that that for one really fun night through music and dance.

Since Camille and I were one of the first ones on the dance floor, it was only fitting that we were one of the first ones to leave around 12:30 when our old ladie knees and ankles gave out. But we left happy, and satisfied, and open, very open, to the idea of going back again sometime real soon. SkinnysLounge has definitely made it's way into my lovely, ordinary, repetitive, routine life.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


I have a little bit of extra time this morning. Don has a late morning flight out of Burbank so I'll head in a little late to work and drop him off on the way. Lucky bastard gets to go to a Gaming Convention in Boise, see his family, and skip work. You could call me a wee bit jealous. All of my vacation for the year is tied up in our upcoming trip to Germany in September, which I don't think I have blogged about yet. That's right, Don and I are headed to Germany for 10 whole days of luxurious travel. I can't wait to have that feeling like we did on our honeymoon. There is nothing like crossing an ocean to make one feel free and far away from any kind of real life obligations. Now that's a vacation!

As if Germany itself were not exciting enough, we also get to meet up with some of Don's family which we haven't seen in about 5 years. Jim and Sharon (Don's Father & Mother-in-Law) are flying out from North Carolina and we'll be staying with Chuck & Heike (Uncle & Aunt) and their kids who live there.

I'm also hoping we'll get to see another distant relative - Ripsy, the first wiener dog I ever fell in love with and Cordy's brother from another litter. At the last family reunion we were able to attend in North Carolina, Chuck & Heike & their boys fell in love with Ripsy so Jim & Sharon let them take him back to Germany - the Doxie Motherland. Six months later when we shared with Jim & Sharon that we were looking for a black & tan wiener dog, they shipped Cordy out to us on a plane from North Carolina. She is without a doubt, the best gift we have ever received.

When I first realized we were going to Germany, I thought I would run out and take a crash course from the library or something on German 101. Well, I've given up on that idea as time is dwindling. My only goal now is to lose a couple of pounds since I'm sure there will be copious amounts of photo taking, plus I plan to consume about a billion calories of German food and beer while we are there. We started a new weight loss weigh in group at work again. First week was pretty much a wash. But everyone needs a good warm up. We'll see if I can lose a pound before the next weigh in.