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Archive for September, 2011

I love Fall.  When I made my mad escape from Boston to Los Angeles, I could only think about how glorious it would be to never have to suffer through another Winter.  Sacrificing Fall was a casualty of that decision, but I had maintained for years that I would gladly give up Fall to not have to live through Winter.  My decision may have been hasty, but the Winter before I moved, a branch from the tree in our driveway broke off from the weight of the snow that covered it and landed on my car. So I’d had enough of Winter. But I misjudged how much I would miss Fall.

Perhaps my love of Autumn comes from having grown up in New England, because it really is one of the most beautiful times of year there.

Fall leaves are pretty!

The leaves change to gorgeous colors, the air is crisp, the Patriots are playing, you feel cozy in a sweater…all good stuff. Another reason for my affection comes from the fact that my birthday is at the beginning of October and my sister’s birthday is at the end of October. So, it was an especially joyous time of year in our house growing up because we kicked it off with birthday celebrations, and then went into Halloween, and then into the  holiday season.  We must have been exhausted by the time the new year rolled around, but I only ever remember it being the most fun time in our house.

There is also a certain New England-y aspect to fall that I get quite nostalgic for.  Apple picking was a huge activity for our family every year.  As an adult, I’m perplexed as to how we made an entire day out of it, because it takes, at most, an hour to fill a bag with apples.  But, the weather was usually lovely, the smell of apple orchards is intoxicating, and there are usually old fashioned, general stores at all of the orchards. These are probably the world’s biggest tourist traps, but my entire family are suckers for these things. Imagine pumpkins outside, wagons full of hay, scarecrows, and inside the store, Halloween decorations, gourmet foods, overly priced organic soaps…it’s fabulous.  Also, having an affinity towards apples in general makes me a fan of anything cooked with apples and cinnamon, most notably my mother’s apple pie and apple crisp. Apple crisp became such a favorite, that for the past ten or so years, if I am around her for my birthday, she will make me one instead of a birthday cake. It’s awesome.

Maybe it is the impending birthday, or the proclamation from my parents that they are going apple picking with my

This lady is supposed to be the personification of Autumn. I wish she was better looking.

sister, brother-in-law, and the kids, but I’m feeling a bit more nostalgic for Fall than usual.  To the point where, I actually don’t mind that it’s getting dark earlier (normally this would be my cue for Seasonal Affectation Disorder), or that it is cool at night (it’s still really warm during the day, and it makes for great sleeping weather!).  I enjoy getting home from work, making dinner and being cozy in front of the TV.

Which brings me to another thing I really love about Fall, which is TV.  I will be the first to admit, I watch too much TV. I am not bothered by this, because I love it.  I have cut down considerably, and my DVR has made it possible to get the most out of my time spent in front of the tube, so it all seems fine to me.  Fall is great because my favorite shows finally come back from their overly long Summer hiatus, and it’s also pilot season, when you get to try out all the new shows.  I’ve realized this year that a few of these things that I love so much have merged together in my mind. Because this time of year puts me in the mood for seasonal things like pumpkin anything (pie is great, ale is better) and Halloween, it feels like a great time of year to watch spooky stuff.  This could be anything from Ghost Hunters, to something I saw for the first time last week that scared the crap out of me, called Paranormal Witness (people share first-hand accounts of their own ghost stories) to something scripted, like Supernatural.

Actually, this desire to immerse myself in the macabre during this time of year may have been borne from Supernatural in way. About four years ago, my ex and I were on a flight back from London and started watching the series, having decided we should catch up on it since it always had good reviews. We watched multiple episodes in a row on the plane, and then we were fully immersed as we watched episodes from the few seasons we had missed. It was how I fought through my jet lag. This was in early October, so it was already dark when I got home from work and we’d start watching. Admittedly, sometimes the storylines on that show can be a bit silly, but in the beginning especially, they were pretty creepy. I dare any skeptic to watch the “Bloody Mary” episode alone in the dark and then get back to me.  That period of a few weeks yielded some pretty freaky dreams, and a new tradition was born.  So much so, that I am really looking forward to the debut of Grimm, and I absolutely cannot wait for American Horror Story to start next week.  Even though this video scares the bejeezus out of me every time, I think it will be a great show.

So, I will be sleeping with the lights on until at least Christmas, but it will be totally worth it for that old, Falltime feeling.

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Next Wednesday I will turn 36 years old.  I’ve never been bothered by birthdays before, but I’ve also never been 36 before.  As my very wise and adorable grandfather used to say (before his death at the age of almost-97), “Age is just a number! Don’t hang out with old people and you’ll always stay young!”  Sound advice, but as I mentioned to a colleague today (whose birthday is a mere two days before mine (except he’s only turning 31– bastard)), you get to a point where you don’t even really feel like celebrating, because each year is really just bringing you closer to 40, and who wants to be reminded of that?

Certainly not me, but my Mom has a knack for not letting me avoid things I don’t want to think about.  This morning when I left the gym, I had a text from my Mom letting me know that my older cousin turned 40 today (incidentally, I love/hate that my mom texts me; on the positive side, it is great to get information from her without getting roped into a thirty minute conversation, twenty-eight minutes of which would be her rehashing things she’s already told me; the annoying part is that she has morphed into a teenager and abbreviates things in a way I don’t understand. She is also not above starting fights with me via text message, which I find exhausting. I just can’t type that fast).  This milestone birthday of someone who I considered as part of my age group happening so close to my own birthday is upsetting (not to make it about me, but I guess I just did). It was one of those moments that made me sit up and realize how much time has actually gone by in my life.  I’ve lived in Los Angeles for eight years.  My parents just turned 60 this year. Next year, they’ll have been married for 40 years.  My favorite uncle just turned 70.  Generally, we are a young-looking family (our inbred Sicilian heritage at least yielded us that one positive), so it’s strange to look at these people and reconcile their age with what our society tells us that age should be, and what they actually look like. Which, I suppose, is good news.  At almost-36, I still get carded at restaurants, even when I’m with people younger than me and they don’t get carded (perhaps that only happened once, when I was with my boyfriend, and he has a beard which may throw people off a bit, but I’m sticking with that one).

The passage of time is a strange thing.  As you get older, with pretty much everything that happens, you think, “That can’t possibly have been that long ago!”  I’ve been out of high school for almost (gasp) twenty years?  And out of college for almost fifteen years? Impossible!  Yet here I am. I’m not sure why this is so hard to believe. I already have one marriage and one stroke under my belt, so the proximity to 40 should not be all that shocking.  Maybe it’s because we live in a youth-obsessed culture, and I am susceptible to being brainwashed by the media, because most of the time I still think I am in my twenties.

I think my impending birthday truly hit home for me today when I was driving myself to the lab for blood work for the fifth time this month and couldn’t find anything to listen to on the radio, and happily settled on the local Oldies station when they played a string of songs I enjoyed.  I took this to mean that I should just start embracing my advancing age (I’m not sure exactly what this entails – maybe walking around outside in slippers and what my great-grandmother used to refer to as her “house coat” while yelling at kids to get off my lawn – when I don’t even have a lawn?) instead of desperately clinging to youth gone by (I’ve finally stopped shopping at Forever 21).  There is a balance that can be struck between not looking or acting your age and pathetically trying to look and act younger than you are. I’ll let you know if I figure out what that is.

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My well-meaning mother recently got me a book of case studies on the auto-immune disease I was just diagnosed with (APLS).  The case studies are about one to two pages each, so it’s generally a quick read and mostly informative.  The idea behind the collection is that the doctor who discovered this thing, a Dr. Hughes from London, thinks that it is much more common than people realize, it is often misdiagnosed as other things, and can be easily treated with blood thinners.

 All of this is seemingly good news. Still, reading this book has been really bumming me out.  I couldn’t put my finger on why, until recently. Reading about these other people reminds me that my life will never be the same. I absolutely have to have blood thinners and medical attention in order to survive. I don’t mean that to sound dramatic, but I did just read about a girl who was hiking through the Outback and dropped dead of a heart attack (in her twenties) because she had this disease, and was managing it with aspirin, not blood thinners, so she got a blood clot in her heart.

 This got me thinking…what if I am ever without blood thinners?  Will I have more blood clots and have strokes, or die of a heart attack or a pulmonary embolism?  These are very depressing thoughts, so I try not to dwell. But it did spark a very practical route of thinking, which was this: I live in the land of earthquakes, and God and the government only know how far away we are from a truly debilitating terrorist attack, and what about the surely inevitable zombie apocalypse?  Will I be able to survive without blood thinners?   I should have an emergency stash tucked away, in case something tragic happens and I can’t get more from the pharmacy.

 This seemed like a reasonable request, and as far as I know, Coumadin is not a controlled substance and it is probably unlikely you can off yourself with it if you had suicidal tendencies (there have to be more efficient ways to get the job done), so I decided to broach the subject with my hematologist.  As I’ve stated before, I absolutely love this man.  I know it is mutual, because he told me so (not in a creepy way).  Being a hematologist means that he is also an oncologist, so his day is consumed with very sick, often terminal, patients who feel and look terrible.  By comparison, I am the picture of good health.  So when I walk in there and tell him I’m concerned about the zombie apocalypse, I can only imagine that it brightens his day a bit because I am relatively healthy and babbling about nonsense (for fun, not because I’m having another stroke).  It is probably a much-needed reprieve from the, literally, life-and-death issues monopolizing his time.

 This is how the conversation went today:

 Me: I had something I wanted to ask you. I’ve been thinking about having an emergency stash of Coumadin on hand. Because what if there’s an earthquake? Or a terrorist attack? Or the zombie apocalypse?  I don’t want to be a victim of Darwin if the zombies come, I’d like to have a fighting chance.

 Him:  Zombies?  I’m not going to say it couldn’t happen (coming from a respected medical professional, this should be a cause  of concern for all of you).  I’ll write you another prescription.

Me: Thanks. I’ll keep it with a Swiss Army knife and other supplies so I can fight off the zombies.

He chuckles as he writes out a prescription with his back to me.

Me: On second thought, if I’m going to be fighting zombies, I might need a better weapon than a Swiss Army knife.

Him: Yes you will.

So, over the next few weeks, I will be getting more Coumadin, investing in a strong box (or two – probably best to keep one in my car) and perhaps a shotgun or a trident so that I am prepared for all eventualities.  My life will never be the same for sure.  It’s frustrating to have to consider things that most people don’t have to worry about.  But, with some pre-planning and ingenuity, I think I’ll figure it out.

Oh, and I’ll keep you all posted if I hear anything more about the zombies.  But you’ll need to bring your own weapons.

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Because of all of my ridiculous health issues, I spend a lot of time at the lab having blood taken out of my body, and at doctors appointments talking about what happened with the blood taken out of my body.  Conveniently, most of this can be attended to in one giant medical plaza in Burbank, across the street from Providence St. Joseph’s Hospital.  The medical plaza is fairly new, and pretty much every doctor in the area who is affiliated with the hospital has moved their practice into one of these four buildings.  Predictably, it is generally a zoo around there and a mecca of old people driving cars that are way too big for them.

This morning I had an appointment with my hematologist at 9 AM.  His office is always nutty and you end up sitting around for a really long time (my new way to combat boredom: losing at solitaire on my phone).  As you might imagine, this makes me a little cranky.  Also not working with me: I had been out late last night so I’m really tired, have a little bit of a headache, didn’t have time to eat breakfast, or drink the massive amount of coffee that I typically need to get my ass in gear on any given day.  The quick pit stop at the coffee cart in the plaza yielded a pathetic excuse for a latte from a man named Nick that didn’t really cut it.  Also, being surround by old and sick people has started to really bum me out, because I don’t want to be either.

After my appointment, I made my way to my car and began the excruciating process of driving out of the parking garage. This is generally the world’s biggest pain in the ass because of the amount of old people who drive really, really slowly looking for a parking spot on the first or second floor (when there are hundreds available on the third floor), and the other old people shuffling to their cars from the elevator.  It is seen as bad manners to beep at someone with  a walker for walking too slowly, so it is a true exercise in patience getting out of this place.  This morning, as I was one ramp away from freedom, I spotted a car very slowly backing out of a parking space. It was clear that the driver could not see around the car next to him to know I was coming, so I stopped and waited for him to pull out.  The car was some sort of Ford sedan, driven by a man who had to be at least 80 and was going about -1 MPH.  However, he had a license plate that read “MR VIBES”.  I will forever wonder what the significance of that license plate is related to that very old, very slow man.

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So Alec Baldwin walked out of the Emmy’s last night after the FOX Network nixed a joke about the phone hacking scandal in which their parent company is currently embroiled.  Now far be it from me to come to the defense of Jack Daughnagy but I think the man has a point.

Baldwin’s rationalization was that the entirety of the sketch had would be compromised were it to lose that single joke.  Maybe so or maybe not.  Have you ever watched the deleted scenes from a movie and wondered how the film would have played (better or worse) had those scenes remained?  And, as an aside, have you ever wondered about the quality of a screenplay that has entire blocks that can be omitted and still be a coherent story?  But I’ve gone adrift.

My point, and I do have one, is this: sometimes the whole is compromised by the elimination of a part.  I will use my life as an example but only because I think everybody cares what happens to me.

Three years ago I had a son who was born seven weeks early.  I guess a more concise way of saying that is I have a three year old son who was born seven weeks early (it would be less hilarious if the reader thought I “had” a son instead of “have” a son).  Either way, my kid comes out of the oven before he is fully cooked.  It is a scary time; ambulance rides, confusing jargons and no doctors who want to kiss me (which always happens in TV hospitals).  He’s born and put on a machine that breathes for him.  A machine that eats for him.  A machine that makes his heart beat.  A machine that poops for him (and even that poop was gross).

When I get to go home (wifey and the kid are stuck in the hospital), the first thing I do is get a vasectomy.  Then I send out an email to everyone announcing the blessed event.  Basically it is nuts and bolts (weight, length) but I throw in a flourish or two.  One of which being “he is small and tough like his mother and he came prematurely like his father”.

My wife calls and asks where the hell I am (I tend to lose all track of time on the internet) and I read her my email.  No way.  She nixes the “came prematurely” bit.  She says there is no way that is going in an email about a kid who still only merits a shrug from doctors when we ask what will happen next.  I argue that that’s the best part.  I argue that without that line the email is pretty much the same as all the other birth announcements piling up in my trash folder.  She makes a buzzer sound like a game show and orders it out.

And, like my second favorite Baldwin (my first is the Harlem Renaissance author James), I remove the offending line.  I break the continuity of the entire bit and make it very bland.  Had I been thinking clearly, I would have walked off the project.  I would have asked to remove my name from the whole thing.  But instead I did the opposite.  I signed it and hit send.

I have 34 people in my contacts, the Emmys was probably viewed by twice that.  Here three and a half years later I am still (obviously) concerned about the judgement past by my distribution list so I can only imagine what Mr. Baldwin was thinking when word came down that his bit was being edited.  He likely was concerned he would be burning all the goodwill engendered recently from ’30 Rock’, hosting the Oscars and his supporting turn in “The Departed”  and we would be looking at him and asking why the guy from “Mercury Rising” ruined the Emmys?

 

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Yesterday morning I was headed to a baby shower that took place in Costa Mesa, leaving from my apartment which is just about in the center of Los Angeles.  The shower began at 11 AM. According to Google Maps, the drive should take about 54 minutes.  Knowing what I know about traffic around these parts, I usually add about 20 minutes on to the suggested travel time because nothing stresses me out more than being late* and I know how crappy the roads can get here.  Yes, even on a Sunday.

My morning started out well, but then I had the brilliant idea to curl my hair.  This, as always, took longer than I would have expected (I’m Italian, and I have a lot of hair), so I left at about 10:08 rather than 10, already a bad sign.  The drive started out easily enough on the 101 through downtown, which is always dicey, so that seemed to bode well. And then, of course, it all fell apart on the 5.  I have never been on the 5 and not experienced an unexplained back up almost the moment I hit the absurdly-named City of Commerce. This is also where the Citadel Outlets are, which can be seen from the freeway. Also seen from the freeway – very bright electronic, changing billboards for the Outlets, which I swear transfix people and are the cause for the slowing.  Honestly.  Everything will stop dead, then everyone speeds up to a normal pace and you would be hard pressed to find any reason for the gridlock of the previous 8 seconds. And then, just when you are lulled into a false sense of hope, it will be gridlocked again.  More than once, I have thought horrible things, like, “If this is because there’s an accident, someone better be dead!”

Once I got past the stupidity of the Citadel Outlets, we were free flowing, and then backed up again. This was because the right lane ends and Thru Traffic needs to merge left.  Yesterday, this was made worse by the fact that some construction guys were just ambling up to a spot in the left lane to do…work, I guess. They had two trucks, each with those blinking arrows warning people that the lane is closed and that they’ll need to merge right. So, at the same time, you have an overcrowded highway with the folks on the right merging left, and the folks on the left merging right.  Traffic was funneled into two middle lanes. When I drove by the guys with the arrows, they were just sitting there, not doing anything.  Which led me to think, “Aren’t my tax dollars paying for this?  Did I just, in a sense, pay to sit in traffic for no good reason?”

I was about 20 minutes late to the shower, which really wasn’t a big deal, but the most irritating part was that the curls had completely fallen out of my hair, rendering my reason for running late in the first place as ultimately useless and a big, fat waste of time.  On the bright side, the shower was lovely, they served Mimosas, and I did not hit nearly the same amount of traffic on my way home (of course not, I didn’t have to be there at a certain time).  But if I could have summed up my emotions on my drive down into one word, it would have been: “AAARRRGGGHHH.”  Yes, I’m aware that’s not a real word.

* This obsession with punctuality might be a little part of my (undiagnosed but almost certain) OCD.  Whenever I am due somewhere at a particular time, I calculate drive time, add a buffer, and then work backwards to determine when that means I should leave my apartment, after I add the requisite amount of time needed to get myself ready.  It’s gotten so bad, that when I go to visit one of my closest friends on the other side of town, I cannot be late. Even if I were to try.  I’ll say, “Ok, I’ll be there around 2.”  And no matter what, I am ringing her doorbell at 2 on the button. It’s uncanny, and she always laughs at me. More than once, I have contemplated driving around the block to kill some time so I’m at least a tad off schedule, so as not to seem freakishly punctual and out myself as the nerd that I am. Then I remember, gas is expensive here, and she already knows I’m a nerd and is my friend anyway, so I may as well just park.

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Madonna is a Jerk

Last week at the Venice Film Festival, some well meaning fan presented Madonna with a bunch of hydrangeas when she was on a press panel for her movie, W.E.  Apparently, Madonna does not like hydrangeas.  This was evident from the exaggerated eyeroll she gave to the person on her left, and the comment she made to the person on her right, which was “I absolutely loathe hydrangeas.”  Seems she forgot she was already miked for the press conference.

In defense of her statement, she posted a video on You Tube, which is weird and lame, to say the least.   It is a video of her “apologizing” to hydrangeas, and by the end, she gives up, and proclaims her hatred for them once again.

Good lord. Talk about missing the mark.  How much of a spoiled princess are you when you think your flower preference is international news? How about the fact that she was completely rude and ungrateful to some poor fan, who, in what had to be one of the highlights of his life, got to personally present her with (what he probably thought was) a lovely bunch of flowers.  Would it have been so difficult for her to accept the gesture for what it was, and just deal with the flowers until she was able to hand them off to one of her servants or something?  The whole incident screams of someone who is told “yes” all the time, and has been for so long, that she’s forgotten basic human kindness and courtesy.  Fans made her who she is today – she should try to remember that.

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