Monthly Archives: September 2008

I’m Traveling On That Line

I went to bed too late last night and I was reminded of the line in Charlotte’s Web; “When your stomach is empty and your mind is full, it can be awful hard to sleep.” I felt a little anxious and I’m not really sure why, which made me more anxious. It might have something to do with being on my period, but who knows. Hormones are fickle creatures. Waking up this morning in the dark was not helpful. Fortunately, my mom put on the heat last night, so at least I didn’t have to shiver as I put on clothes.

I zombied my way to my car and drove to the train station without having breakfast. I managed to figure out the perfect time to leave the house (6:50am) so that I don’t get there too early and still have time to do all the ticketing nonsense. A train whizzed by just when I got there (a bullet train that doesn’t stop at my station) and I managed to see the train number. 909. Knowing that I was going to take “the one after 909” really cheered me up. For those who don’t know, “One After 909” is a really awesome Beatles song from Let It Be. It’s about a guy who is trying to take the same train as the girl he likes, but he keeps messing up the time and the station. It happens to be one of my favorites. I’ve often wanted to live in a house numbered 910 or something, just so I could say I live in the one after 909.

I got in the last car and there were plenty of empty seats. This was also heartening because I also have a little worry that I’ll have to stand. I didn’t notice until I sat down that I was surrounded by a bunch of middle school kids. I thought about how cool it would be to have your mom drop you off at the train station to go to school with all of your friends. Beats a school bus any day. There were three boys across the aisle from me. One boy had a huge Tupperware full of brownies for his Spanish class (remember those days?), one boy was a Red Sox fan (ugh) and the third boy was trying to convince the other two to go up front with him so they could be the first out of the door when the train stopped. Brownie boy was clutching two dollars in his free hand and was asking his friends for advice; the machine wouldn’t take his money, but he didn’t want to miss the train so he just got on without a ticket. Should he tell the conductor? The other two boys said to wait until he came around and then to just be honest and tell him what happened. It really made me smile to hear how the boys truly believed that being honest about the situation was the best course of action. Good kids. The conductor of course didn’t come and so the Brownie kid was home free. Once they got off the train, I slept the rest of the ride.

On the way to work this morning I bought a bagel at this shop across the street from my office. I’d been eying it for a week now. The bagel was excellent. The sugar from the juice is making me believe in sanity again. I’m glad tomorrow is Friday.

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Alright, I’ll Actually Talk About Things. Yeesh.

I realize that I’ve been itching to write a real post for awhile and so I’m going to hunker down and actually give an update. None of this stuffed animal crap.

So this is my first real week of being a Working Adult. Well. Minus the place of my own. But practically there. Close enough. Honestly, I think I can do this! I was worried about being bored and over-worked during the week, watching the hours go by so so slowly until I want to kill myself to escape office hell. But it’s really not as bad as all that. I actually like my jobs. Both of them!

Monday, Wednesday and Friday I work at a publicity agency in Palo Alto. Can you think of a day job more fitting for entertainment-savvy me? I am paid extremely well, I get to work next to my good friend B from high school (who got me the job, God bless her) and I get free tickets to all the shows that we publicize. Which is a lot. My days consist of making news clips (cutting and pasting, the old fashioned way!) and brain storming silly jokes for radio spots. For example. There’s a show called One-Man-Star-Wars that’s opening this week. It’s exactly what it sounds like. One guy. Doing the entire trilogy. With sound effects. I hear it’s hilarious, actually, although it conjures images of Spaceballs. . . Anyway, B was writing a radio spot for the show. Here are some of the cheesy lines we came up with:

The force is strong with this one

Like this show, you will

Blasting off to a stage near you

And my personal favorite (that I came up with, of course):

See this show and your journey toward the funny side will be complete.

I fucking love this job. Knowing fully that some poor bastard radio guy will be the one who actually has to speak these stupid phrases aloud, we cackled over the absurd possibilities for at least an hour. For which I was paid $15. Mwahaha! I love it. I love it! I cut and paste newspaper clippings and get to make Star Wars jokes three days a week. Disney On Ice is our next project. Oh. Let the games begin.

And the internship! The beloved internship! Let me take you through a day. It’s either Tuesday or Thursday.

6AM: My radio alarm goes off, set to the classical station. (It’s actually 5:50am because I set my clock fast so I can live under the illusion that I’ve slept later).

6:15AM: I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself and gotten out of bed, face puffy with pout and sleep.

6:50AM: Having force-fed myself cereal or toast, gotten dressed, packed a lunch and secured my various effects, I leave the house, starting in shock at my car speakers as they blast to life.

7:15AM: Arrive at the Caltrain Station in Redwood City. Validate my train pass, buy a parking space (the most contentious of actions).

7:30AM: Board the Baby Bullet to San Francisco. Usually sleep or read on the half hour train journey.

8:06AM: Arrive in San Francisco (AMAZING) and walk ten minutes to my office where I use my fucking AWESOME keycard like a real Career Lady with Important Building-Access Pass. Surf internet until it’s time for work.

8:30AM-1PM: File contracts and catalogs from other publishers and shelve books. Yes. I still shelve books. And yes. My muscle memory of how to push books aside on a shelf with the book I’m holding is still intact. It sounds stupid, but it’s an actual specific arm movement. For serious. I write the “kind decline” letters, which basically means that the submission was solicited, but not up to snuff. So we’re nicer to them since they made it this far. I like personalizing them, mostly because it means that I get to read the manuscript and I like seeing what other people are writing, even if it’s awful.

The Chronicle Books building is REALLY cool. If you were to imagine what a Cool Publishing House looks like (I’m reading a lot of Terry Pratchett who is into gratuitous capitalization of nouns. . . so bear with me) then Chronicle Books is it. It’s all pale grays and blues and glass. Clean, crisp, efficient. Quiet, but clever. Everyone has a witticism to share. The suggestion boards are filled with glib, though good-natured, comments. Giggles and inside jokes run rampant about the office. Everyone smiles at you because you’re assumed to be one of them: a book person. The first floor has the mail room and the cookbook section. Every wall is covered in beautiful, large pictures of culinary masterpieces. It seems to always smell like really good food there, but it might be my imagination. I am on the second floor, the children’s division (and also HR, for whatever reason). Almost all entirely young women and gay men. Isn’t that interesting? I dunno. . . I think it’s interesting. The staff has INCREDIBLY good taste in children’s books! I know this seems obvious, but it’s so nice to have such suspicions reaffirmed. Third floor is graphic design (which I’m coming to realize is considered the most respected and innovative in the publishing world. Cool, huh?) and the fourth floor is mainly conference rooms where Important People talk.

There are three book shelving areas. There’s the area where we shelve Chronicle books that we have too many of, we have a library with every book Chronicle has ever published and then, oh, my dearest, dearest readers, THEN there is the Competitor’s Library. Children’s Publishers do this marvelous thing where they pass around their catalogs to everyone, we pick out books we want to read and then THEY SEND THEM TO US. FOR FREE. For research. Clearly. Of course. For free!!! Any book that’s coming out, we get first dibs. And when we’re done, they go in the Competitor’s Library (of which I am in charge. . . eeee!) Can you see me drooling from here? Once I feel more comfortable with my role in the office, I will DEFINITELY start taking advantage of that.

I realize I totally got off track.

1-2PM: Lunch

2-5PM: Finish decline letters and begin on. . . SLUSH!! Slush is the name for any and all unsolicited submissions. My job is to “weed out the crazies” as my mentor likes to say. I was specifically told not to blog about any of them, unfortunately.  Honestly, most of them are really boring rewrites of stories that we’ve alllll heard before (seriously, how many lost kittens/puppies/bunnies can there BE?). Ones I like, I put in another slush bin for other readers to sort through. Those I don’t like or are too ridiculous to waste anyone’s time with, I put in the recycle bin. I read manuscript pitches for novels (Chronicle just opened up submissions to YA and teen, whoohoo!) and ask for the fuller manuscript if I like the idea. So basically I spend most of my day reading children’s stories. And I’m paid to do this. And the staff is amazing. And I get to use a train and walk and act like I’m a working part of this pulsing, beautiful city that is San Francisco. I love it.

And then, when it’s all over, I retreat to my queendom in the mountains and marvel at how tomorrow is Wednesday and the week is half over already. Three more days until I see my sweetheart. Three more days until I can go out and play with my friends. And it all doesn’t seem so bad.

Together

Yes, I am as happy as I look. Touching or frightening. You decide.

A Wretched Girl Thinks of Food and Complains

Today I went on an interview for a job that would occupy me three of the five working days of the week. I nailed it, despite having absolutely no experience working in PR. I guess I have done similar things, but never working in a place solely devoted to it. I basically walked in there, said I grew up around actors and clowns and that I love the entertainment industry and am looking to find my niche in it. That was pretty much it. I think getting the job had more to do with the total ineptitude of the woman preceding me to the post than anything else. I may be selling myself short here, but good God. The last hire sounded like a disaster. The most ridiculous of her mess-ups was being given three letters to mail (with a post-it on each one of them indicating the name and address) and somehow managed to send two of them to the wrong addresses. I believe I heard stories of her not understanding the basics of the fax machine.

I mean, I make stupid mistakes in offices sometimes, I admit it. It’s usually because I’m bored or daydreaming or trying to invent a faster way to do the menial task to which I have been assigned. However. It’s usually something like printing 20 copies instead of 2. On the wrong paper. Or causing several boxes of paperclips to spill all over the floor in an attempt to put them in a more time-efficient position on my desk. You know. Things that A) can be immediately fixed B) happen when no one is watching or C) A continuation of B, except it also includes no one ever finding out about it, unless I tell it as a funny story of Jasmine Being Jasmine, Oh That Silly Girl.

Speaking of Jasmine being a silly girl. I thought that my interview was at 10am, but it was actually at 10:30. So I got there 40 minutes early and B kindly told me to take a walk around the block a few times. The good news is that I found two places of business that I would like to patronize at some point. Both center around alcohol and food. But also culture! Which is how I will justify such absurdities. Anyway. The first one is a tiny little establishment called The Wine Room. Its tagline was “A Convivial Place to Drink Wine.” Isn’t that pleasant? Convivial. What an underused, wonderful word. The second place caught my eye firstly because it said NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) and secondly because boldly next to the name of the place was the word “BOOZE.” This endeared itself to me only because it very much captured the spirit of Bourbon Street. Upon further investigation, the decorations inside (I looked through the window, as such a place isn’t open at 10am) were just great. Lots of colorful art splashed all over the walls. The furniture looked comfortable, a fun place to hang out. It was really big, too, there were a couple courtyards swathed in Christmas lights and dotted with potted trees. I liked the look of it because I liked what it made me remember.

So anyway. Got the job. Starts at $15/hour, which I’m pleased about. Down side? Makes it so I now have a legitimate 40 hour work week. I mean, I guess I’m going to have to come to terms with such a thing (bleck) someday. . . but I’ve been so wretchedly spoiled all summer. . . the next few months might just kick my pale ass. I will leave the house at 7:45am (annoying, but respectable) on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and at 6:45am (annoying and DISrespectable) on Tuesdays and Thursdays to catch the train into San Francisco. Like I will be doing in just 7 short hours. I will return home between 6:30pm and 7pm daily. Which seems like an awful amount of time devoted to work.

Haha, listen to me complain about having a full-time job during the worst economic crisis of my generation. What a horrible girl I am.

More on my internship later, once it’s actually happened. . .

Bagels for Breakfast and a Beautiful Wedding

This next bit of fact should alert you, dear reader, to the level of magnificence of last weekend: I had a bagel every morning on my trip. Three of the five times with lox and cream cheese. I keep telling myself that I deserve it, but I think that I’m not very good at convincing myself. This past weekend was incredibly eventful and wonderful, so I’ll try to avoid writing an Odyssean-sized post. We’ll see how I do.

I woke up Friday morning at a somewhat reasonable hour, lounged about and read for as long as I could stand being unhelpful. First, I bought bagels and juice, not knowing that this would set the trend for the rest of the weekend. Then, leaving M Fox to do his work, I decided that I would Be A Good House Guest and tidy up the place. The Irish kids that were living with M Fox until recently had little to no respect for the common living space. Having been in similar situations, I understand how it’s just too frustrating and upsetting for the one person to run around cleaning up after everyone else only to find a day’s work destroyed in an instant. M Fox was driving me to and from the airport, driving to and from the wedding and possibly securing a hotel, so I thought it would be a nice gesture to help him out. Unfortunately cleaning supplies were in short supply (haha) and so I had to improvise, which included securing dry swifter pads to the bottom of my feet and skating over the bathroom tile to rub in the comet. It was kinda fun and the fact that no one was watching made it easier for me to look stupid and spin around like an Olympic figure skater.

There is a reason why I’m talking about this, and it’s not to demonstrate that M Fox has a disgusting bachelor’s pad that needs a “woman’s touch.” This, thankfully, isn’t the case. The case IS, however, that I am not only inept, but I am both Lucy and Ethel combined.

I decided to do his laundry next. As I schlepped his basket across the street to the laundry mat, I was so pleased with myself. So happy that I could somehow repay his driving and gas money and time spent shuttling me around. I proudly checked all his pockets before deftly tossing them into the large washing machine.

Well.

Almost all his pockets.

About twenty minutes into the wash, I noticed there was a strange clunking sound coming from the washing machine. Just pocket change, right? Maybe a particularly crumpled sock? He has some cargo pants, maybe they just get really really heavy when they’re wet.

Nono. It was his cellphone. In pieces. Being tossed around and around and around. The other laundry mat locals all watched me sympathetically as I called my mother and a friend seeking advice, my own phone tucked between my shoulder and my ear as I tried desperately to tug open the washer door. To no avail. Locked. I watched in despair as three more rinse cycles flooded the machine.

The bad news is that I think I have permanently ruined his phone. The good news is that M Fox is wonderful and treated the whole thing as though I had thrown away a useless receipt rather than trashed a fifty dollar piece of equipment that he’s only had for a month and a half. All I can say is THANK GOD he hadn’t bought an iPhone or an Android yet. Had that been the case, I think that my plane ride back to Ventura would have happened a lot sooner.

So my worries that my idiot mistake would set the tone for the trip were assuaged, and Saturday we had bagels for breakfast, packed and took off down the highway, gleeful that all the traffic was headed in the opposite direction. We attempted to create a new type of accent by changing all As to Ys and Os to As, but I think it only managed to make us sound like drunken Wisconsinites. It amused us for the length of car ride, though.

Nothing could have prepared me for the incredible hospitality and love that awaited us as the bride’s parents’ home. We had never met them before, we were associated with the groom (I more loosely than M Fox), but we were immediately treated as life-long family members. I was so moved. I had brought my book, expecting to just stay out of the way and let the family go about their first-daughter-getting-married business. I didn’t expect to be treated rudely, obviously, but I expected to be ignored. Not the case! We ended up going out to dinner with the combined families for the rehearsal dinner, hanging out at the meet’n’greet by their gorgeous pool (curse my body-image issues, I would have loved to swim), the bride’s father took great care to show me around the house, proudly exhibiting his train sets and, of second most importance, the hammock swing that he bought for his wife. I want one of those swings. Seriously. I must have one. It can take up to 350 pounds of weight and can swing 360 degrees and it feels like you’re sitting on a floating throne. It will be mine, oh yes. It will be mine.

L, the bride, and her two sisters were simply incredible human beings. Though they were clearly different, independent women, their common sister/family connection was so apparent and complimentary to each other. It made me wish that my sister had turned out normal. Such a closeness would have been nice, I think. B, the groom, was, as usual, magnanimous and smiling, pleased at the beginnings of his empire. His groomsmen were pretty typical groomsmen; silly, young bachelors who wanted to have a good time with their buddy before he tied the knot. Even though I was just M Fox’s date, some broad from far away who no one had even heard of, I was in the club. The bridesmaids were nice to me, the groomsmen were nice to me, both sides of the family were not only nice, but THRILLED to have me there. I really couldn’t believe it. I still feel like I got away with something that I shouldn’t have.

We were kindly offered an air mattress in the train room (complete with a train clock that hooted a different train sound every hour from 9am to 9pm). I hung out with The Women and played Rock Band, watched movies and giggled about pretty dresses and drunken bachelorette parties. M Fox went carousing with The Men for B’s bachelor party in San Francisco and sauntered in at 4am. Admittedly I worried, but it was the nice kind of worry where you worry because you love someone and just want to be near them in the wee hours of the night. Also, I felt REALLY guilty about ruining his cellphone, his only tool to use in case of an emergency. I had visions of him being stranded, naked, covered in bruises and lipstick, glasses broken, golden brown hair askew, wandering through The Haight-Ashbury tearfully begging with a tin cup for 25 cents to make a phone call. . .

Obviously, he was fine.

We slept late and took our time getting ready on Sunday. We had bagels for breakfast, of course. We piled into cars, excitement building, perfume and aftershave mingling, smiles contagious. The wedding site was indeed beautiful. Sweeping, shady lawns, various types of trees lending the landscape a full palette of greens to choose from and, of course, perfectly manicured gardens of flowers. The employees were helpful and happy (you’d think they’d get sick of weddings, but they seemed genuinely tickled). I was, once again, privileged to sit in with the bridal party and watch L don her beautiful wedding gown. I was privy to the tears of joy, the blessings and the shrieks of mirth from the bridesmaids. I zipped up a few dresses and approved a few make-up and hair jobs.

M Fox had bought a Costco camera (which he will return in 90 days, of course) which I used to film the ceremony. My camera skills improved as I went, but I’m sure there’s a lot of back-breakingly fast pans and gut-wrenching close-ups for the first 10 minutes of film. I did pretty good during the vows and the rings and the kissing, though. That’s the important bit, anyway. I tried to minimize the amount of “awws” and “ohs” and swallowing of tears that escaped from me. The ceremony was quite beautiful, though. It took place at this cool amphitheater surrounded by pillars and a tasteful string quartet. Everyone looked great.

After the procession, the party got started! The food was great, from the bruschetta and wine to the tri-tip and potatoes and pineapple punch. Here’s a list of highlights, in no particular order:

1) The best man’s speech was quite sweet, especially knowing how incredibly nervous he was about giving it.

2) The huge amount of salsa music played and how all the elderly latino guests kicked everyone else’s asses on the dance floor.

3) Teaching M Fox the basics of the waltz, salsa and swing and then hearing other men compliment him on his moves. (As they say, behind every great man. . .)

4) L had the DJ play the Sleeping Beauty Waltz. I have said for YEARS that I want this played at my wedding. . . and after fully experiencing how incredibly FAST and LONG it is. . . I’m considering reconsidering. It was fun stepping all over M Fox’s feet and laughing nervously together when yet another chorus started.

5) The Techno-version of the Hamster Dance was played. Which was absurd. But fun.

6) Crying when L and her father danced together. Oh man. I was filming it and I had to stop because I was sniffling like a moron. They played this song called “I Loved Her First,” which was probably really hokey to everyone else, but it seriously made my mascara run. I’m such a wuss.

7) B passing out glass mugs to his groomsmen with their names inscribed on them. I don’t know why, but I thought this was really touching. It was also funny since M Fox had just that morning said that he would like a beer mug with his initials on it.

After the bride and groom were safely tucked into their limo, headed for their hotel and then off to Roma, we all collapsed into various vehicles and reunited back at the bride’s parents’ house. M Fox and I had planned on driving home that night, but theywould hear none of it. We were upgraded to an actual bed, which was incredibly comfortable and we slept incredibly well.

 

 

The next morning we woke up and had bagels for breakfast. It was strange saying goodbye to everyone because I really wanted to add “See you at Thanksgiving!” or something. Even though I most likely won’t see these people again. I dunno. It’s a good, strange feeling.

The rest of the weekend was spent idly cleaning the house (those children from Ireland left quite a mess before leaving for good, the wankers), watching movies and interviewing new housemates for his house. And eating bagels for breakfast, of course. Oh, also playing a late night game of catch in a locked baseball diamond. Even though I flinched like I was getting beaten, I actually caught most of the balls. Impressive. You know. For a girl. My throw is despicable. Despite my horrid skills, M Fox asked me officially to be his girlfriend (the most common response to this statement has so far been “Men still do that?” to which my reply is, with a smile, “He does.”) I accepted his terms and we’ve settled on an appropriate settlement for PTO, vacation, medical and dental insurance. I think I also get a free turkey and a pumpkin pie in December, which I thought reasonable.

All in all, quite a marvelous time. It pretty much confirms my beliefs that the farther north (or east) you go, the better life you will have. So away I go.

Eat your heart out, Homer.

Welcome Home

I will write more on my magnificent weekend later, but I had to write down the homecoming portion of the trip. The plane ride back to Los Angeles (so sticky and hot, even at 10pm, ugh) was brief and easy. I ordered a Sprite on the flight and got a water, which I think was the universe telling me A) You don’t even LIKE soda, you just want it because it’s free and B) You’ve eaten like a pig at a slop bucket all weekend. Don’t you dare ask the flight attendant to fix it. I didn’t. I guilted myself into not eating the peanuts, either, which are still sitting in my purse.

The plane was pretty empty, which was nice, so it was easy to fight my way out of the plane, into the terminal and onto the curb, where my dad picked me up. Having heard little snippets of me alternatively cooing, bragging or jovially discussing M Fox, I’m sure he was curious about how the weekend went on that front, but, in his very Dad-like way, he very obviously asked about other things first. Like how my shuttle ride was last Thursday. We had moved onto “Oh yes, how was the wedding, which was the actual reason for the trip? Not that airport shuttles aren’t fascinating” and my dad was slowing down for a stop light. Navigating LAX in a car is hell. There was a stop light with a limit line underneath, as usual, but then a weird gap for traffic about 20 feet before it. As my dad decelerated toward the limit line, a barrage of cars started pummeling toward us from our right. I guess they had right of way, but I have no idea why their lane wasn’t put at the stop light intersection instead of so far ahead of it. Yet another reason why LA doesn’t make any fucking sense.

The car in front, which we would have hit if not for my dad’s New York brake reflexes was, of course, a fancy-pancy beamer convertible with a young, entitled rich kid in the front seat. My dad must have given him a rhetorical look of “What the fuck just happened?”  The kid leans out the window and says, “What the fuck are you lookin’ at?” To which my venerable father replies loudly out his window, “Your asshole!” There was a brief and, what I imagined to be, confused silence and then the kid squeaked out, “Yeah right!” and was gone. We continued on our way in silence for a moment. Then we burst out laughing. Then my dad, wiping mirth from his eyes, says, “That just came out of me, like poetry. I guess I could have said ‘I’m sorry.’ Anyway. Welcome home!”

Indeed!