You drive down a residential street. You turn a corner. You see a garbage truck blocking your way. Nooo! Why me?? It’s so unfair! While not quite as bad as your DVR breaking down or missing out on free birthday cake at work, it’s a rather annoying first world problem.

I hate trying to squeeze past those ginormous things; however, this might have more to do with my lack of spatial awareness than hating on those very nice guys – have you ever seen a garbage woman? me, neither – that weekly pick up after my wasteful self. I bang at least one elbow or knee or toe a day while trying to get from point A to point B in my apartment, and I still can’t figure out how to navigate streets without clear lines painted on them. In fact, I kind of freak out when someone else is closing in on me at a whopping fifteen miles per hour. How is this going to work? Are you going to pull to the side? Should I? I don’t know what to do. The worst was the first week that I drove my new car; I had no idea where it ended and the rest of the world began. Thus I was forced to park blocks away from home on completely deserted streets minus any other vehicles because I was temporarily parallel-parking impaired and couldn’t maneuver my new ride into even the biggest of open spots. Hence, my anxiety when confronted with garbage trucks. I don’t even fight it; thirty seconds and a quick U-turn later, I’m outta there.

So the other day, I decided to take advantage of the pleasant weather (and the realization that I was out of coffee) to walk to the nearby Starbucks for a little caffeine pick-me-up. A block later, I caught sight of that familiar monstrous shape and heard the screeching sound of compacting metal. Passing the truck, I was shocked to see a very perturbed woman – she even had the whole hands on hips thing going on – standing in the middle of the street about thirty feet away. “Look, there’s space over here! Why can’t you move so I can get through?” Seriously? Was this chick for real?

This woman had actually exited her still running car in order to berate the fellas who were quietly and efficiently taking away our human filth. I looked to the garbage men who appeared to be ignoring her unsolicited advice. Seemed like this wasn’t the first time they’d encountered such ridiculous entitlement. I then turned back to the woman who again shouted, “Can you please move over? I need to get through.” It was all very Falling Down. I also noticed that two more cars were now blocked behind her shiny black Mercedes as she continued to complain.

Okay, I get it. Like I said, it’s a wee bit bothersome when a garbage truck obstructs the way to whatever very important place this woman was obviously going. But to get out of one’s car and admonish these men for doing their job? That’s straight up whack. Not only was this chick causing more of a backup than the garbage truck, but also who exactly did she think she was? Unless this woman was running late to perform a heart transplant or feed the poor, I’m thinkin’ that whatever she needed to do was far less important than what they were doing. Rather, she was probably on her way to some very nice shop on Rodeo Drive, and though I concede that she would be contributing to our local economy, I would forego her dollars for a trash free neighborhood any day. And might I add, these men are doing something that very few of us find appealing. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but whisking away others’ waste never made my list of future dreams when I was a kid. So the next time you see a garbage man, give him a hug.

Eventually my caffeine addiction called and I went on my way, craning my neck to see how this would all play out. While Whack Job held her ground and continued to stare down the garbage men, one of whom I swear cracked a smile, I then noticed a guy in the car behind her exiting his own vehicle… “Ma’am, could you please move your car?”

Karma is sweet.

Image: farconville / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Some childhood memories stick for obvious reasons. Birthdays, holidays, graduations… Those special moments immediately get filed away into one’s consciousness. But then you have those random recollections that don’t fit any clear-cut category of meaningfulness. Like the time I accidentally referred to my friend’s baby sister as “it” instead of “her” and was given an impromptu grammar lesson by their eavesdropping mother. Or when I was “treated” to shopping spree by another friend’s mom, but was later interrogated as to whether or not my father would reimburse her for my new outfit. That was weird. Then there’s the time my sixth grade class was introduced to Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” I remember this for two distinct reasons: one, because my teacher seemed to become increasingly distraught as the song retold the tragic events of November 10, 1975, and two, because of the silence that took hold of my classmates as we too were drawn into this tale of thirty sailors succumbing to Lake Superior.

I would venture that anyone who grew up within a fifty-mile radius of the Great Lakes knows the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald. If you live within a fifty-mile radius of Chicago, then you might also know the story of the Eastland. This ship never even made it to the lake. It overturned while still docked in the Chicago River and took with it more than eight hundred lives.

The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The sinking of the Eastland. The sinking of the Lusitania. Oh, and that Titanic boat. There’s a trend here. Now I’m sure that as a whole ships are extremely safe vessels on which to travel, but every single thing I know about them conclusively proves that they can’t be trusted. Should you argue that those incidents happened long before you or I were born, I have two words for you – Costa Concordia. Boom. Two months ago. Then her sister ship lost power in the pirate-infested waters of the Indian Ocean a month later. Boom x2.

However, I wasn’t actually aware of this (warranted) ship animosity until I was on one. Though I’ve been on many a speedboat throughout my life, I have never taken a cruise. Never met a captain. Never boarded anything resembling a luxury liner. Until last weekend.

Though an official resident of southern California for the last several years, I am shamefully lazy when it comes to exploring all the awesome things this area has to offer. The Queen Mary is one of those things. Permanently docked in Long Beach, I have gazed numerous times upon this ship turned hotel and event venue but have never experienced her grandeur myself. Now I would partake in her splendor on St. Patrick’s Day as hundreds of fellow passengers would partake in pints of green beer. A mass of drunken people on a huge boat with minimal supervision? Sounded like a swell time.

Though as we were dropped off in front of the ship, I immediately felt queasy. Strange… I never once suffered seasickness while on vessels a fraction the size of this behemoth. Technically, it wasn’t even moving. Technically, I wasn’t even on it yet. That’s when “My Heart Will Go On” began playing in my head.

Freakin’ James Cameron.

If I had any chance of shaking my shipism, Cameron ruined it with his monster-piece. Sure, I was a schmuck like everyone else when it first bowed in theatres and wept like a baby as Rose promised a frozen solid Jack that she would never let go… and then let him go to the depths of the icy ocean. But then I wiped my eyes, blew my nose and was done with it. Never saw the film again, and I don’t need to. Apparently along with every awkward parental encounter of my youth I have committed this movie to memory as I kept replaying it while trying to enjoy my St. Patrick’s Day onboard the Queen Mary. When we listened to the band playing Irish jigs, I imagined Jack and Rose gettin’ down with the blue-collar folks in Titanic’s basement. When we ventured into the captain’s quarters, I imagined the look on Edward Smith’s face as he realized that the ship was going down. Even when we were just moseying around the different levels, going up and down the interior staircase, I imagined the goofy look on Jack’s face when he met Rose for their first-class dinner.

So went the evening until we finally exited the Queen Mary safe, sound and relatively dry. (It just happened to be one of the ten days of the year that it rains in SoCal.) I suppose in comparison to how Titanic ended, we made out pretty okay. Maybe ships aren’t so bad after all as long as you never leave the shore.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Trash talk is fun, right? Politicians do it. Athletes do it. Morbidly obese fifty-year-old men that live in their mothers’ basements do it. Just go to any sports site and you can waste an entire day – “waste” being the operative word here – reading the hilarious and sometimes crazy scary comments that are written back and forth between the super obsessed fans of any professional sport. Yet should my team lose, I can still save face because even if I secretly suspect that I have the He-Man power to will my team to win or jinx them to fail, I know in the depths of my mere mortal heart that I had nothing to do with either outcome.

But it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame when you’re playing the sport; then you have no one to blame but your unskilled self. I don’t usually trash talk about my physical prowess because, well, I don’t often have the opportunity. I run solo, so there’s no exercise partner to eat my dust, and it seems a tad inappropriate to ridicule the elderly man I see wobbling down the sidewalk in a full three-piece suit and cane everyday since I already scare the bejeezus out of him whenever I whiz by. I think he might be hard of hearing so my derisive efforts would go unappreciated anyway. And though I could kick some serious sun salutation ass, it seems wrong to brag about it given the whole namaste shtick they preach in yoga.

So I best I can do is trash talk about my pseudo skills in pseudo sports such as the fine game of bowling. Now before some of you out there start hooting and hollering that bowling is a sport… Calm down. I will retract my statement when bowling is added to the roster of Olympic events or a Congressional probe is launched to investigate the alleged doping of those who live and die by the pin. That’s when bowling becomes a real sport.

Anyway… I did a lot of bowling as a kid, yet have no idea why. I don’t know if my dad was banking on me becoming the next Ernie McCracken or it was simply a way to entertain me for a few hours; regardless, I was at the alley a lot. I also bowled quite a bit with friends. Some adolescents get their kicks swiping a bottle of whiskey from the old man’s liquor cabinet or seeing how cool they look smoking in the girls’ bathroom. My crew preferred a little pin action, and eventually I became cocky in my bowling clout.

But that was a long-ish time ago. Now I bowl maybe once every two or three years. Not often enough to keep me in my prime; however, though my actual skills may have deteriorated over the years, my bravado has not. So come last weekend when I had the chance to throw down, I was ready to obliterate my competition, and I let him know it. More than once in the days leading up to our bowling face-off, I warned my rival of his inevitable demise. I think the words “I am going to destroy you” might have even left my mouth at some point. His response? An amiable “okay.”

My first ball was a gutter.

Happens to everyone. I immediately shook it off and announced that I just needed to warm up a bit. Soon enough, I got into a groove and was consistently taking down eight or nine pins each round. I even got a couple of spares. Still, I knew I couldn’t make good on my trash talk until that elusive first strike.

That’s when my foe went ahead and got one before me. I could feel a thin layer of sweat beginning to form over my body, and it wasn’t from physical exertion. What was going on here? I hadn’t bowled a game without making at least one strike… ever. At least that’s the way I remembered it in my mind. Time to rally.

And I got one. Meaning, I got one pin. I was imploding fast. Though I had been leading throughout the game, my opponent suddenly overtook me in the eighth round, and I never recovered. Nor did I ever get a strike.

“Wanna play again?” he excitedly asked. Damn right I did. Now my pride was on the line.

The second game went a little like this: he bowled either a spare or a strike each time, and I continued down my spiral of shame and didn’t even crack a hundred. Needless to say, he won – by a lot – though I was put out of my misery fairly quickly because of his numerous strikes. So did he rant? Did he rave? Did he shout, “In your face, sucka!” while doing a happy dance around my humiliated self? Nope.

The best trash talk is when you don’t have to say anything at all.

Image: David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


LA ladies sometimes get a bad rap. A stereotype has been perpetuated, thanks in large part to The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and its prequel The Hills, that we’re vapid, shallow and insincere. If we’re not shopping or botoxing, it’s only because we’re spray-tanning or gold-digging. Oh, and we have no real friends and consider every other female competition instead of a companion.

Sadly, those women are out there, but they’re everywhere: New York (less blonde), Miami (less clothed) or even Chicago (less vegetarian). No city has a monopoly on lame people. Lucky for me, I don’t often come across these self-involved souls and only hear about them second-hand from a friend who saw Paris Hilton stumbling out of The Standard last weekend.

Yet on any given night you will find an altogether different kind of woman out on the town. Though instead of scanning the crowd for her next sugar daddy or admiring the new DDs in the nearest reflective surface, this woman is too busy enjoying the company of her ten or more best friends. These girls come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but can easily be identified by the tight circle they form by the bar or more often on the dance floor. In other words, you are witnessing what is commonly called a ladies’ night.

I have participated in one or two ladies’ nights in my time, but perhaps not as often as you would think. Though LA women can rarely use bad weather as an excuse to stay home, you’d be surprised by how much time can go by between seeing friends in this town. Anyone in the entertainment industry usually puts in a ten to twelve hour day; needless to say, that kills most social engagements during the week. Should you reside west of La Cienega but all your friends live east of Highland, then you might as well resign yourself to seeing them at the next Thanksgiving potluck or perhaps your birthday party if they really like you. However, when the planets finally do align for the elusive ladies’ night, ‘tis a wonderful time.

Yet hitting the club isn’t a requirement for a BFF bash; in fact, my favorite ladies’ night is that of the at-home variety when you don’t have to worry about being groped from behind while getting your groove on or spilling your $14 cocktail on your dry clean only dress. Plus, without the deafening house music you can actually hear your friends and don’t sound like you smoked a carton of Marlboros the next morning because you had to scream every word for three hours straight the night before. Though regardless of any audio obstacles, we ladies get the gold star for our ability to chat long past any male’s oral breaking point. We can have discussions of epic proportions because one of the many things we’re great at is showing how we care through verbal communication, and should one be privy to a ladies’ night powwow, you will overhear at least one of the following conversation starters at some point in the evening:

1. “You look amazing!” The fairer sex dominates when it comes to supporting our sisters, and we’re not afraid to say it either. Yes, those chicks exist who cannot utter one kind word to another woman because of their own insecurities, but you will not find them at ladies’ night because they’ve made their bed and have no real female friends. Minus the Debbie Downers, the rest of us are free to gush about each other’s glowing skin, super cute new haircut or overall fabulousness.

2. “I love your outfit.” This may sound an awful like conversation #1, but don’t let the semantics fool you. #1 can refer to a number of awesome qualities that one’s friend may have, while #2 specifically highlights her keenly cultivated fashion sense. Totally different in girl world. Almost guaranteed to follow this statement is “Where did you get it?” I once had a weird junior high stalker situation when a girl in my class bought every last one of the short-alls I had purchased at Contempo Casuals – CC, I tip my forty to your memory – and had already worn to school. Subsequently, I was forced to retire them to the back of my closet for fear we would wear the same thing on the same day: a fate worse than death when you’re thirteen years old. Happily, Single White Female is a distant memory, so if someone likes what I’m wearing, I immediately tell her where I bought it. Who am I to deny Target yet another satisfied customer?

3. “Know any cute, single guys?” Yes, boys do eventually work their way into the conversation at some point. However, I must stress that those of the XY persuasion take up a relatively small portion of the night’s confab. Sorry to burst your bubble, gents. Though a main squeeze may momentarily surface in the conversation, more often than not any guy talk is regulated to gabbing about what single dudes we can hook up with our single friends.

4. “How’s work going?” What? You think our lives revolve around just shopping and men? On the contrary… The far majority of the awesome ladies I know are working women who do it not only for a paycheck, but because they are uber enthusiastic about their careers. More often than not, many minutes are devoted to discussing whatever new project/show/passion my girlfriends are working on.

5. “Please take that chip bowl/cookie platter/cheese tray away from me!” Okay, this isn’t so much a conversation as a command, but believe me, you will hear this uttered at least a dozen times before ladies’ night comes to a close. I can also guarantee that five to ten minutes later, you will then hear, “Can you grab me just one more cookie?” Gurrl, I’ll have one with you.

Image: thaikrit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Nothing puts me in a good mood faster than hearing a great song on the radio. And when I hear a great song, I must blast it. And because LA has fabulous weather eleven months of the year, I must blast it with my windows down.

However, I do abide by the golden rule and never blare my radio while at a stop. All bets are off if I’m cruising down the 405, but at a light I instantly turn down whatever song to which I’m rocking out. I know most people don’t love Ke$ha the way I do. Yet not everyone follows my example. Many a time have I been trapped at a light and forced to suffer through someone’s fondness for Nickelback or Lil Wayne. When that happens, one has three options. One, you play it cool and do nothing. Two, you employ the passive-aggressive route and roll up your windows. Or three, you go the aggressive-aggressive route and turn up your radio to out-blast them. I usually do all of the above. At first I try to ignore them, but soon enough it’s clear that my tacit disapproval of their musical taste isn’t helping my situation. Upon having to suffer through yet another refrain of “How You Remind Me,” I finally crack and roll up my windows. But by then it’s too late; the song is firmly lodged in my head, and in an effort to banish said perversion from my mind, I dial up whatever tune is currently playing no matter how much I may hate it in comparison.

So the other day, I was driving along when the flow of traffic suddenly slowed to about ten miles per hour. Construction. Turning down “Party Rock Anthem” a notch to perform a quick mental ETA recalculation, I noticed a car ahead of me the next lane over. What caught my eye of this otherwise nondescript Honda Civic was the origin of its license plate: Maine. Hmm, don’t see that too often out here. Though because I have undiagnosed ADD, as soon as I noticed it, I forgot it again and turned my attention to inhaling my Shamrock Shake. All was right with the world when at some point it dawned on me that I was humming along to Adele… except that Adele wasn’t playing on my radio. I immediately looked around to see who in my vicinity was crying; obviously some fellow driver had to be going through a very painful breakup because as far as I was concerned that was the only reason why they would crank “Someone Like You.” Making a little more headway in my lane, I realized that Maineiac was the said offender. As I came side by side with this vehicle, I was shocked to find a dude driving it. (Yes, I assumed it was a chick.) That’s when Maineiac casually leaned his cobalt blue Adidas tracksuit clothed arm out the window and flicked a few ashes from his cigarette. Say what? A dude from Maine with a preference for Adele, Adidas tracksuits and Marlboro Golds? Who was this strange creature?

I was so intrigued by this odd mix of qualities that I almost rear-ended the car in front of me. Traffic had now come to a virtual stop, and we were rolling only inches at a time. Unbeknownst to me, the other lane was closed up ahead, so Maineiac decided that the best thing to do was brake, lean halfway out his window and give me the evil eye.

Full disclosure: I can let my road rage get the best of me from time to time. I admit that on more than one occasion I have denied some jerk from cutting in front of me, but really I’m just trying to make it a teachable moment for them. Apparently they forgot the old adage of no cuts, no butts, no coconuts. However, this was not one of those times. I wasn’t even given a chance to go Hulk Anna before Maineiac went ahead and did it for me. I quickly turned from curious to confused. Why was he being such a… well… douchebag? Can someone who blasts Adele and adorns himself in Adidas tracksuits even have the right to be a douchebag? I had no other choice but to let him in… and burst out laughing. He did not take kindly to my response and gave me a lovely one-fingered thank you in return. A minute later, we cleared the roadblock, and Maineiac went speeding off into the horizon.

So what’s the takeaway from this tale? I dunno. Nothing I suppose… Other than dudes from Maine who blast Adele and wear Adidas tracksuits and smoke Marlboros are douchebags. Just in case you ever run into one.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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