Friday, August 31, 2007

Little Deuce Coupe

Last night was one of those few times that I wish I was a picture person, to say nothing of a video person.

After our surreal experience at Craft, we were thoroughly satiated. Dinner would not be able to hold a candle to lunch, so there was no point in trying for high brow dining. We ended up going to Pink Taco, which was right across the street. Pink Taco is a small chain owned by the Morton family and it has the atmosphere of a Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock cafe. Not my usual kind of place, but there was something kind of engaging about the atmosphere.

I am burned out on trying to do the food critic style writing, but suffice to say, it served its purpose. Decent food, really good guacamole, strong margaritas, party atmosphere and thongs available for sale at the front desk.

Afterwards, we went for a ride in my sister's car. As a preliminary matter, "car" is somewhat misleading term. After seeing An Inconvenient Truth, my sister was inspired to reduce her carbon footprint. She will tell you she bought an electric car, and that is literally true. In reality, she bought a kickass golf cart that bears an uncanny resemblance to Archie's jalopy in the old comics.

It can't go more than 35 miles an hour and while I am no stranger to convertibles, it has no roof or doors, either. It reminds me of those cars we used to drive at the Malibu Grand Prix at Disneyworld. Small is an understatement, but cool doesn't even begin to cover it.

We went all over LA, but the highlight was most certainly cruising up and down the Sunset Strip (on a Thursday night). The car has two tiny seats up front and one in back that faces outward (the cars behind you). Kelly was driving, I was shotgun, and my 12 year old niece was bringing up the rear. I could not believe the reaction of the other drivers on the road. That car gets so much attention and people are genuinely stoked when the see it. They take your picture, they honk wildly, they offer to switch cars with you, they pull up next to you and pump their fists in approval - it is just an absolute blast.

(Random: Although I have never, ever wanted a tattoo, if there had been a few more tequila shots AND if I had any creative inspiration for something I would want to permanently etch on my body,I would have gotten a tattoo last night. Yet another close call averted. Here's hoping I can again dodge the urge tonight. Somehow, I don't think "DILF" is something I would want to see on my person in a few years. Whatever, it seemed extraordinarily funny at the time. I blame the fresh smoggy air.)

Kelly has long since tired of the attention and rarely acknowledges the cat calls with more than a nod. I, on the other hand, LOVED it. I waved, flashed peace signs and thumbs up, waved like a beauty pageant contestant, and answered affirmatively to marriage proposals. I also put my hands up in the air when we went down hills, as if I was on Space Mountain. I couldn't believe the universally positive reaction from everybody in uber cool LA. The car(t) obviously doesn't go fast and can hold up traffic, but even that didn't hurt our goodwill. For the very first time, I saw LA as a community with a little soul.

Kelly drives that thing all over LA, with the obvious exception of the freeways. She lives in a pretty central location where that isn't an issue. She gets that reaction every day and the novelty has worn off. Me? I need to get me one of these:

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Squee! Celebrity Edition!

Another story to record for posterity....

My meeting was at eleven this morning and, as luck would have it, the building is around the corner from my hotel. This being LA, that sounds much closer and convenient than it actually is, as I have never seen a city that discourages pedestrians more than the City of Angels. As I strolled through a courtyard, I passed a valet station and wondered about its usefulness, given the business setting. I got my answer when I saw a sign with the unmistakable logo for Craft and mentally squeed. I knew that one had recently opened in LA, but certainly didn't know it was right the hell around the corner from my hotel. w00t!

I first dined at Craft in Manhattan with Drew and Gwin a few years ago and still remember what we ate and the wine we enjoyed. Drew and I split the Côte de Boeuf and it was, without question, the best and most memorable meat dish I have ever had. I have since been to Craft Steak in Vegas a few times, also with Drew and others, and it was equally outstanding. Just perfectly executed meals, using the finest ingredients, seasoned subtly but memorably, and side dishes that should be ordered as entrees. I have also eaten at 'wich craft, which is their gourmet sandwich chain, and their $10 sandwiches are worth every penny. Suffice to say, I am a fan.

I was just starting to get into dining as a hobby when I discovered Craft and certainly didn't know anything about the owner and executive chef. His name is Tom Colicchio and he is now also a judge on Top Chef. I confess that although I dodged reality television for years, I am addicted to Top Chef. I love watching people cook and the show isn't really calculated for drama. What really enhances the show is Tom Colicchio, as he is clever, knowledgeable without being smug, and is a chef's chef. He loves food, loves the whole experience of creating and preparing a meal, and knows how to enjoy and appreciate a dining experience. Plus? He is absolutely adorable - strong smile, twinkling eyes and a confident and comfortable presence. Less than three.

So, after what turned out to be a clusterfuck of a meeting (I hate most lawyers), I rounded up the sister and we hit Craft. Kelly had never even heard of it, let alone Tom, and obviously doesn't watch the show, but she knows I know how to order a meal. After kind of gasping at the pricey lunch menu, she acquiesced and let me do my thing. We got a prime seat for people watching and took in the lunch crowd of agents and attorneys arriving for their power lunches, secretly hoping for an Ari Gold sighting. We also admired the outdoor lounge area, which, while in the equivalent of an office park, was strangely inviting and intimate. Large, canopied squares with chaise lounges and benches that looked perfect for a night out with friends.

We started with an heirloom tomato salad with basil and my holy hell, it was unlike anything I had ever had. I am really not much of a tomato person, although I do loves me fresh Caprese salad. These tomatoes shined all on their own, although, as always, they were complimented with fresh basil and just the right amount of salt and seasonings. I have never considered myself a tomato person and often consider it unused garnish, but these tomatoes? They reminded you why tomatoes are scientifically considered a fruit - succulent and juicy, sure, but the flavor of each variety literally burst in my mouth. Perfect beginning.

I followed the tried and true rule to always order the braised short ribs, of course, and upon recommendation of the server, ordered the scallops. I don't think I can say enough about both of these dishes. The braised ribs fell apart by the forkful and were garnished with thyme and rosemary, which just coaxed out more flavor. They were simmered with aromatic root vegetables which were tasty, but completely second fiddle to the star attraction. As for the scallops? Perfection from any perspective. Flawlessly cooked - this point cannot be reiterated enough - such that they were fork tender without even the slightest hint of overcooking. Lightly caramelized, they sat atop a simple but flavorful lemon buerre blanc that, again, perfectly enhanced but did not overpower the fish. As I said to Kelly, somehow, without overseasoning or overdressing the scallops, the chef had managed to bring out the best flavors of a scallop while also eliminating the all-too-often (faint) taste of the ocean. I don't think I will order scallops again for a long time, as it would be damn near impossible to match what we had today. I also was dazzled by the plate presentation, as both dishes were served in small cast iron dutch ovens, which was both aesthetically pleasing and kept the food warm.

Getting long and wordy again, and the best part is yet to come. Sides were equally flawless, which made us both marvel about the level of talent in the kitchen. Summer squash and asparagus tasted as though they were harvested that morning and, again, prepared perfectly. Most surprising, on the suggestion of the server (and for my fungus-loving sister), I ordered the assorted mushrooms! I think I require a higher quality fungus and we were surely served them today. I couldn't believe the flavor and texture of the shittakes, while Kelly loved the...hell, I think they were called bear forest. In any event, while I remain suspicious of mushrooms generally, they were the best I think I will ever taste.

Despite having a great deal of food packed for home, I had to see what the kitchen could do with desserts. We opted for the cream cheese semi-fredo with fresh basil scented strawberries and strawberry sorbet and a slice of decadent goat cheese (Clara). The semi fredo was easily the best I have ever had, with the fresh cream cheese (with tiny bits of sweetness) balancing the tartness of the strawberries and the taste and aroma of the basil providing a savory counterpoint. As I had ventured far enough with the fungus, I left the mold to Kelly, who lingered over every bite of the Clara cheese.

Around this time, one of the hosts came over and we quickly bonded about food, NYC restaurants and my love and admiration for Tom. He said something to the effect of "well, if you're lucky, you might see him, as he just got back and is working today." My eyes widened and I told him that, next to the holy diety that is Clooney, I would probably lose my shit if I met Tom. About two minutes later, Tom walked past our table and into the kitchen. I confess that I gasped, my jaw dropped and I felt my face get red. It was a moment of pure squee that I had to repress to maintain some semblance of foodie cool and cred. Our server came over and, with my eyes still wide, I gushed a little about seeing Tom. She and I then bonded over the fact that she used to work with Brian at Oceannaire in San Diego and I told her that I had met him when he worked at Oceannaire in Seattle. We shared a love of Top Chef, then told me she would see if Tom would come by the table.

Yes. Yes, he did. Having a few minutes to prepare, I composed myself and resolved not to be a completely gushing fan. When he came out, the very first thing I thought to myself was that he was much, much better looking in person, which is a bold statement. The camera does add a few pounds, although he looks great on television, and he has a really solid build. His eyes are what stunned me - piercing blue and yes, twinkling. We introduced ourselves and he just sat there and chatted with us for about ten minutes. The first thing I said to him was that I really admired his ability to attract and retain the talent that he has in his kitchens, as every dish I have ever ordered at his restaurants has been absolutely, perfectly cooked. He talked about the superiority of the level of produce in Los Angeles and how they buy most of their fruits and vegetables from the Santa Monica farmer's market. Mindful of his confidentiality responsibilities to Top Chef, we spoke primarily about his blog for TC and how he really reads each and every one of the comments. He was just as I had perceived him from television, only much better in person. Completely genuine.

He couldn't have been more darling and more gracious. He exudes an almost palpable confidence that is nowhere near arrogance and is the farthest thing from a "celebrity chef" as a celebrity chef could be. While I am still hoping for a Clooney meet one day, this was damn near the next best thing.

If you read this far, you are entitled to the money shot. I hate it of me, but goddamn, he is adorable.

To Live and Die in LA

I love and hate this town. Love it for all it has to offer, hate it because it has no city soul. No heart of the city. A town of drivers, hustling to whatever hot spot is on the radar. Aside from Santa Monica (which I love with reckless abandon), it is not a pedestrian town.

I have been here for a few hours and still haven't had an In and Out Burger. Criminal, that. I am here on business, but I am going to see the sister and niece. I am staying one block away from MGM (where the sister works), so the niece is going to spend the day at the hotel pool tomorrow while I am at, what are surely going to be, utterly useless meetings.

I had so much to say and have run out of steam. I had this whole train of thought about how good writers make it look easy. A few days ago, I attempted to review food, books and movies. They were terrible reviews - utterly devoid of substance. I read these types of reviews all the time and never really gave much thought to the creativity and skill necessary for writing such critiques. Even 'technical' writing such as restaurant reviews require a level of talent and skill that is often lost on the reader. Sometimes, probably more often than we realize, good writing is taken for granted.

I had a lot of thoughts about Owen Wilson, too. Suicide is one of those polarizing topics, where, again, probably more often than not, the folks that least understand that kind of despair have the strongest and most rigid and judgmental opinions on the topic. I found myself avoiding most coverage and discussion of it, as it positively pains me that his despair and problems are fodder for websites that I enjoy reading. Seeing comments calling him a coward and a pussy and worse? Makes me fucking hate humanity.

I don't think that I have entertained serious thoughts of suicide, but that is not to say that in very desperate hours, it has not creeped through my mind. To imagine if those desperate hours and thoughts were the subject of post quotas (and social fucking misfits needing to talk to someone - anyone) on the internet? Fuck, that pains me terribly. I have no judgment for Owen Wilson, just sympathy and well wishes, and something approximating hate for those who would, for a split second, claim to have any fucking understanding of his demons. I hope each and everyone of those holier than thou internet tough guys will one day find their inner most thoughts and problems the subject of public debate. Social skills. Go learn them. Get off your fucking computer, while you are at it. Your judgment is truly despicable. Miserable fucks.

Hell, I love a good trainwreck more than most. Britney sans pants and shaving her head? Initially comical, now kind of scary. Lindsey claiming those weren't her pants? Kind of ditto, but still mostly funny. I realize the hypocrisy here - those girls are probably one bad night away from considering the ultimate curtain call, and that reality is sobering (pun intended). I think I have approached media saturation when it comes to sensationalizing the emotional and mental breakdowns of folks I don't know and, in many cases, don't really care about or admire. I am burned out about knowing too much about these folks, especially where they themselves have courted media attention, and mostly, I am pigged out that there are hosts of "magazine" television shows devoted to this trip, while meanwhile, there are articles such as this, which are widely praised by the choir to which it preached, but should be fucking reported on every hour on the hour as the lede before the latest "Lindsey fucked this guy in rehab and all she got was a t-shirt" stories. Unfortunately, the attention span of the contemporary media consumer is fucking pathetic and even the most educated of us have been conditioned to sound bites.

Fuck, LA has this effect on me.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


I keep losing this link, so I'm putting it here for easy access.

I am not a big fan of Justin Timberlake's most recent CD - it is too techno for my tastes and just sounds overprocessed. Nevertheless, on a random surf last month, I was directed to this link, which is a remix of his latest song (Love Strong), done by some guy named Justice. I freaking love it and wish I could figure out how to get it on my damn ipod. God, I suck at the internets.

Justice remix

Monday, August 27, 2007

Monday Review (Film Edition)

My sentence structure and limited reviewing prowess will leave a lot to be desired here. At last, I may finally be succinct. These are the last two films I saw.

Bourne Ultimatum

I don't like action movies, for the most part. I am not dazzled by the special effects, get bored with the fight scenes, and hate the replacement of visual eye candy for character development.

All of that said, I love the Bourne series. I read a few of the books, but didn't remember a single plot line of any of them. What makes the series is Matt Damon, who might be one of the most underrated actors of my generation. Not for nothing, but if you can catch the rerun of him on The Actor's Studio, it is quite prescient. I love Damon because he is smart, and those smarts translate into his acting. He is sharp, quick, fit and the movie is, quite frankly, just plain entertaining. Sure, there are plot holes and suspensions of disbelief, but he makes it work because he is so goddamn believable in this role (and every role he plays). If you need a couple of hours of escape for entertainment purposes, this is the movie to see. I read an interview where he said this movie saved his career. That may be true financially, but he has a lot to offer creatively. I strongly suspect that he will be making amazing movies for the rest of his career.


This movie has amazing buzz in meatspace and the internets, not to mention a 97% rating on I so wanted to love it.

I spent most of the movie waiting for the magic and thinking that I probably was just too low brow to recognize it. I missed it. It was a decent movie, to be sure, and it has stayed with me for weeks. At its core, the film is about two very passionate people who forge a friendship based on music. There are more than a few scenes where you witness that mystical moment where two truly passionate people bond over the art of music. I got that part. It was heartbreaking. Much of the film is heartbreaking. After the credits rolled, however, I asked P if I sucked as a human being for not being moved beyond belief. Turns out, she felt the same way, and although we both liked the film, we weren't dazzled.

Holy boring film reviews, Batman. This is the season of our film discontent.

Monday Reviews - Literature Edition

I kind of shot my load on the last post, but I still need to learn to self edit and that sucker was getting long. Here is the abbreviated (HA!) version of what I have seen and read.

Read: The Emperor's Children, by Claire Messud

This woman can write. After reading the book, I read a ton of reviews that likened her to Edith Wharton, and although I don't see any parallels in their writing technique, I think it harkens back to the subject - Emperor's Children is about New York City's upper crust. NYC is certainly its own character, and provides a fantastical backdrop, but Messud's ability to flesh out characters and plot lines in a most measured way is what sets this book apart. I think it is (or was) up for a ton of book awards, and rightfully so, but what makes this one a must-read is the talent of the author. Although this book should never, EVER, be made into a book, you find yourself casting it nevertheless.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl

This is probably the best book I have read this year, and I have read some fantastic books. This is the kind of book that, when you set it down after finishing, reminds you why you could never write for a living. Imaginative, creative, clever - there aren't enough superlatives to describe it and the brilliant way in which Pessl tells her story. The protagonist is a freakishly well-read adolescent who lives with her brilliant-but-flawed father, who is raising her after her mother's death. He believes in education by life experience (despite being a professor) and challenges her to think for herself outside the proverbial box. As a result, the reader must follow along and question almost everything. A tragedy is described in the opening chapters and you spend nearly 400 pages, dying to know how it all came about. Along the way, you get a passive education, follow some red herrings, and ultimately, come to respect the person who imagined this story and these words that have kept you completely engaged.

I read a lot, and some of it is entertaining crap and some of it is insightful and some of it makes you appreciative of story telling and some of it leaves you gobsmacked. This book has all of that in the best possible way and I am pretty sure it is my Christmas book for my friends. When I set the book down after the final page, I found myself in a state of awe at the creativity and imagination and talent of the author. P has it now and am curious to know if she had a similar experience when she finally finished. A good book can take you places that few films can.

Monday Reviews - Food Edition

I haven't done this in a while and will cover a few of the finer things in life: food, books and movies.

Dining: Osteria La Spiga

The impromptu organizational meeting of the Tuesday night dinner club was held at Osteria La Spiga (website under construction, but gives a decent glimpse at the decor). Me and the P met her sister and Andrew and Kevin for an early meal last night. P and I usually do dinner at her place on Sundays, but we were both up for something different. Andrew and Kevin are both chefs and foodies, not to mention fantastic company, and P's sister D is one of the better people on the planet, so there was no shortage of conversation or laughter.

We arrived about half an hour after them and they had already sampled the sardines and the cheese plate. Although I am normally pretty skeeved by sardines (what with the hair and all of that), I sampled it for foodie sake and it was delicious - salty, meaty, caramelized - not the sardines that are usually haphazardly scattered on your Caesar salad. The cheese plate was actually ample, for a refreshing change, and the selections were creamy, salty and sharp. I may be the last person in the world to get on board with the cheese plate as a first course (owing to a childhood fixation of cheese being mold. See also mushrooms as fungus, infra), but am coming around to the notion of a well balanced cheese plate as an ideal means to stimulate your palate.

We decided to create our own tasting menu and share everything. The house salad is, without question, the best house salad I have had in Seattle. God help me, I cannot remember the name of the greens (I honestly hadn't heard of it before last night), but they were the perfect size and texture and the perfect kind of bitter. Paired with crisp prosciutto, eggs and amazingly flavorful heirloom tomatoes and dressed in the lightest of vinaigrette, it was the quintessential summer salad. It was so good, in fact, that P ordered a second one after we finished our meal.

All these words and I haven't even started on the paparadelle with truffle butter. Oh, sweet heaven on earth, it is positively amazing. Simple but perfectly cooked homemade pasta coated (but not drenched) and the most fragrant truffle butter and just a hint of fresh black pepper. It was, without question, the crowd favorite, and the two plates we ordered were licked clean. I ordered the paparadelle with bolognese, which is almost always my favorite dish in any Italian restaurant and it did not disappoint. Meaty, perfectly seasoned and again, atop that perfect pasta, it is a dish that I know I will need to have on a fairly regular basis. I especially enjoyed the little dishes of finely grated reggiano Parmesan to garnish both pasta plates, as I am of the belief that there is little that cannot be improved upon without a liberal spoonful of high quality Parmesan. Yes. Exception to the mold rule.

D ordered the roasted pork and it fell apart by the forkful. Tender, moist and clearly roasted in a masterful au jus, it was the all too uncommon preparation where you savored the flavor of the meat - so often, chefs mask the pork with a fruity compote or sauce. La Spiga let the meat and fresh herbs do the heavy lifting and the pork won its weight division.

P ordered the roasted potatoes and Kevin ordered the spinach soup. The potatoes were roasted perfectly - crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, seasoned with rosemary and garlic, but of all of the dishes, it was the least interesting. The spinach soup, however, was a complete and pleasant surprise. I love raw spinach and usually only enjoy it cooked when it still has its raw texture, unless it is creamed and really, what doesn't taste great when flavored with butter, cream and salt? The soup was so prepared, but also seasoned with fresh nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. It was probably too heavy for your average Seattle summer day, but last night had a touch of fall in the air and it worked well. Kevin ordered a mushroom dish that everyone pronounced as magnificent, but alas, as I have not crossed over to the dark side of fungus, I abstained. I think I might have already told the mushroom-as-fungus story, but if not, have mentally filed it away for another day.

As I mentioned, P reordered the house salad, and that was the perfect ending to the meal. We didn't do dessert, and although I am not a dessert person, I would go back to see what they offer. Aside from the simply but expertly seasoned and prepared food, to say nothing of the perfect company, what bumps La Spiga up to your list of regular haunts is the atmosphere. The space is eye candy from almost any angle, and you find yourself wanting to come back and sit in a different corner. The outdoor dining patio, while small and in an alley, for fuck's sake, is someplace I intend to seek out before the unofficial end of summer. I can see how nearby residents would quickly call this place their go-to haunt. Although I am a self-pronounced urban city snob, who considers a jaunt to nearby Capitol Hill a field trip, I found myself looking longingly at the bar and considering a mid-week dinner alone, with a book, tasting all of the dishes that we didn't order.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Dating Pool

I have learned, on more than one painful occasion, that timing is everything when it comes to matters of the heart. I have met the right men at the wrong time (both for me and them) and have come to accept that timing is one of those necessary-but-not-sufficient conditions of a good relationship. It cannot be forced or faked, although sadly, it often is.

It isn't the right time for Writer Guy, unfortunately. That just sounds plain stupid, but I think I have to acknowledge it. He is ready to jump start a romantic relationship that I just don't have in me right now. Like a few times before, I wish I had one of those pause buttons that I could press to freeze the would-be relationship in time and come back to it when I was ready to put the effort in. If there is one, I don't know about it, and I am not the early adopter type anyway.

Good date last night. Conversation was quick and entertaining, interests are shared, chemistry is there - almost all cylinders were firing. Unfortunately, the idea of jumping into another romantic relationship right now almost gives me hives. I have never felt this quite this way. I have felt ambivalent towards certain would-be relationships, but never this way, which suddenly defies description. I never thought I would think or act upon a feeling of simply not being ready to have a romantic relationship with someone. Never thought I was that kind of gal.

I can almost hear myself arguing with a friend in the past who expressed a similar sentiment. "Life is too short to wallow in some self-imposed hiatus. Get back out there. Take a chance." And probably a dozen more useless cliches. Just as I never understood depression, anxiety or panic attacks back then, so did I not then understand just listening to your own gut instinct when it comes to that which you think you can emotionally handle. I always jumped in, headfirst and purposefully, confident that I wouldn't hit the bottom and would always find the surface for air.

I think I am still that person. I am not scared to start a romantic relationship with him. I am just mindful that I am not in the metaphorical shape to swim at the moment. Staying with a truly terrible analogy, it is like I know the rule about not swimming so soon after a meal. Even though I've done it before without complications, for whatever reason, I just don't think I should do it now. I hope it isn't an indication that I have lost my fearlessness, but it probably speaks something about that.

In the interest of self-preservation, I will rationalize it thusly. Last venture out, I probably overextended myself and had a close call. Mindful of this, I am taking the time to get into shape before diving back in, and for right now, that means conditioning the right muscles and working out. My confidence was rattled by the last few trips in the pool and I need to take the steps to rebuild that confidence. Yes, there is the competing (and equally bad analogy) about getting back on the horse and all of that, but I still think I need to rebuild some lost strength before getting back on that horse.

Holy mixed metaphors, Batman.

In any event, it looks as though I am about to be that girl, who delivers that line ("I am just not ready to get into a relationship right now"). It sucks and is so foreign, yet at the same time, feels like the right thing to do. Truth be told, if he felt this way about starting something with me, I would damn sure want him to say something before I dove in headfirst.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Wedding Planner

(Horrible movie, starring a friend with absolutely no common sense where script selection is concerned. Don't hate, Matt. Unless it is J.Lo. It is good and righteous to hate J.Lo. And I know you know that.)

My brother is getting married on NYE. Sibling #3. Marrying a great girl that I cannot wait to call family. City girl, we'll call E, much like me. She has been navigating the wedding maze by herself. On Monday, all of the siblings came over and we dished about weddings and venues. I handed her a slew of recommendations. Today, I got roped in, rodeo style.

First, it was the rehearsal dinner. Unbeknownst to me, I had been put in charge of it. My folks had said "let K decide where and negotiate it" After talking to E about a myriad of possibilities, we (yes, I think it is) ironically concluded that the Space Needle was the best place. I am as local as they get when it comes to Seattle venues and the Space Needle is where you take your visitors, not where you go for dinner on a Sunday night. That said, many of the guests are coming from McMansion land in Texas and you can be damn sure they want to tell their friends they had dinner at the Needle.

What struck me in all of this is how I wanted to call B. This is his forte, not mine, and I knew he would be full of suggestions. Uncannily, he called and, after dealing with the personal matters, I asked him for advice. Holy shit, he completely erupted with suggestions and ideas. He kept advocating for the same restaurant I had suggested for the rehearsal, because of the local atmosphere and the great food. I reminded him that if this was us and we were planning a party, sure, but this is for a great deal of out-of-towners who would love to recount to their friends and neighbors their "Night at the Needle." "Remember when we were planning ours, we were mindful of our guests who were combining vacations with a wedding." He got it and immediately got off the phone to make calls on my brother's behalf.

About an hour later, we had secured almost everything - the wedding space, the reception hall, a new caterer, and, of course, the private dining rooms at the Needle. He called in a ton of favors and referred to my brother as his "brother-in-law," even though that era had ended. We both scrolled through our contacts and (1) negotiated a rate for a different, more centrally located hotel; (2) erased close to $5K in add on fees; (3) secured a better caterer who didn't add on random fees and (4) booked the DJ that was "unavailable" for the next six months.

We did all of this the way we used to do everything -- in partnership. B and I aren't going to ride off into the sunset (although tonight? I am pretty sure that is where his head was). When we touched base, it was fun and jointly realized. I will always, always miss that man. He had it all. There was a moment tonight where we both uttered the name of someone we could call. B's response was "K, he has been in love with you since the 90's, you'll get the better rate." My reply was "B, they probably would dance with someone who can get them a chandelier." B said "tough call, I still would bank on your appeal over my connections."

He was right.

I think I am allowed to miss him. I miss my husband everyday, even though I know that guy no longer exists. He is just a ghost. I have met men in the interim that didn't have half of his confidence and determination and it makes me miss the ghost more. I will always miss the ghost of B, as he lacks the sack to be that guy now. Worse, he knows it. He knows he is his most real when he is with me. That saddens me on so many levels, as I have been my most real with others. To this day, I think we both really wanted to know each other. And did, to a point. And still do, to another extent.

I miss my B. I think I always will.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Adventures In Public Transportation

Another indicator that I was meant to live in NYC? I love public transportation. Although I can't really draw the connection, I love it for the same reason that I love going to a restaurant alone, saddling up to the bar for a meal and reading a book. Part of it is probably the white noise, as I am the least comfortable in a quiet room. I studied for the LSAT at a noisy bar, right after I got off my shift waiting tables, and I could concentrate so intensely that I would jump a foot if someone tapped me on the shoulder. In law school, I studied at crowded coffee shops and other places with a constant din of white noise. Although I do love libraries, I could never study there.

I like public transportation for similar reasons, and also, of course, the people watching. Every stranger's face is a new story and, to some extent, a reminder of my small place in the world. B hated that I took the bus to work and often persuaded me to accept a ride from him (even though he was going in the complete opposite direction). At night, I would stop by my favorite bar, enjoy a cocktail while reading something, then take the bus home. It was my chance to turn off my on switch and I came to realize that I required more personal alone time than him. Topic for another day, I suppose.

Because I am incapable of walking like a normal person and get too sweaty walking into the office during the summer, lately I have been taking the bus to work. The morning crowd is different than the evening crowd, and many are lost in thought about their day's events. Tonight, for reasons related to my ongoing inability to eat properly, I knew I was too weak to walk the three miles home, so I hopped on the bus. The evening crowd is often weary and distracted, although there are a few who are just buzzing at their nightly emancipation from their cubicles and offices.

The bus was pretty full and as I peered over my book, I saw the usual suspects. The guy on his laptop, making full use of the plethora of unsecured wireless networks on the route home. The ipod folks who nod off to music that reminds them of easier days. The readers (self included) who take their entertainment in the incremental periods of commuting. The quite-nearly-postal employees who hate every minute of being on the bus and silently pray that no one will deign to sit next to them. The fucking idiots who make all of their return phone calls and speak as though they are on walkie-talkies.

Early on, a dreadlocked guy boarded the bus, carrying his guitar. I confess that I am just judgmental enough that I held my breath as he passed, lest he emit a less than showered scent. Shortly thereafter, he started quietly strumming and it was pleasant. I was secretly hoping he wouldn't bust out with lyrics when, all of a sudden, the woman in the seat ahead of me turned around and said, quite loudly, "WOULD YOU PLEASE NOT PLAY YOUR GUITAR? I HAVE A HEADACHE FROM WAITING FOR THE BUS!"

I was utterly gobsmacked. First, and as a preliminary matter, the faint sounds of his guitar were nothing compared to the symphony of city sounds, which included ambulances, horns, the bus driver announcing stops, the aforementioned cell phone conversations, chanting protesters (Danfur? No idea) and whatnot. Second of all, what kind of audacity does it take to say, in effect, "not tonight, I have a headache" to a complete stranger? My jaw dropped and although the would-be strummer could not have been more gracious, I found myself completely pissed off. I shot him a look of sympathy and mouthed the words "that is bullshit." He ended up in a too loud conversation with obnoxious cell phone guy about their respective bands and aspirations, but I was seething with desire to tell that fucking bitch off.

I gathered my thoughts and was preparing quite a soliloquy about entitlement complexes and shared space. Seriously, I was irrationally tweaked at her behavior and the notion that she expected everyone (or, at least this guy) to accommodate her bad mood. My fellow passengers in the immediate vicinity could see that I was about to be very un-Seattle-like and call bullshit on this move and seemed both poised to cheer me on and ready to ignore another crazy person on the bus. Just as I was about to open my mouth, however, I noticed her ponytail.

She had a crappy haircut (certainly not of the $400 variety) shoved haphazardly into a barely-there ponytail, and I could tell that she assembled this look while her hair was still wet. I had a pang of recognition and searched my mental Roladex as to how I might know this person. I realized that she had been a temp at my firm and I was the reason she was no longer there. She had been placed at our firm during a paralegal's maternity leave and she sucked ass at the basics. I can overlook most incompetence, however, especially for woman doing the temp gig, so it wasn't her lack of skills. No, it had been her - wait for it - entitlement complex in that she thought she just had to show up to collect her paycheck. I rarely, very rarely, ask my legal assistants or paralegals to do something I can do just as fast (see, e.g. copying this document, faxing that one). I ask them to do stuff that they can do faster and more efficiently than I can on account of their experience (see, e.g., format this document for the 9th Circuit, etc.).

On her ill-fated last day, I asked her to do one such task - format a pleading template for me - and she barked back at me that she was going to lunch, needed to eat on account of her diabetes and low blood sugar, and, in the future, if I needed her services, I needed to give her at least one hour's warning. I felt immediately shamed, as though I had treated her like a servant or otherwise disrespectfully (even though I had said 'please' and 'when you have time'), and said I understood. While she was at lunch, I looked up the applicable rule, formatted it myself, and forgot about it. She came back even more angry and launched into this bizarre tirade about younger women disrespecting older women and did I know that if it was not for her, I would not be an attorney?

(I don't discount the substance of these arguments. Many women before me paved the path for me to become an attorney and it is very true that I owe those women a huge debt of gratitude. Women who sacrificed family and children and put in ungodly hours to prove their worth to their male counterparts and likely endured humiliating indignities towards that end. This woman did not appear to be such a pioneer, but appearances, they can be deceiving.)

As she stormed out of my office that day, I noticed that she had crammed her short hair into a strange little pigtail and, as I heard her flip flops clacking in protest (seriously, flip flops? At a law office?), I reconsidered my earlier shame. I had asked her to do a task that was well within her job requirements and had been completely polite and non-demanding in that request. After she left, I walked into my boss' office and told him that I would not work with her again, giving a brief explanation. To say that I am the least demanding attorney in my office (vis a vis the support staff) is a huge understatement, and she was let go within the hour.

So (fuck, I need to self edit), just before I prepared to launch into my tirade, I remembered this little interlude and felt guilty for having caused this woman any professional fallout. I was certain that I didn't need to call her out amongst my fellow in-city commuters and, in any event, humiliate her further. I kept my mouth shut like a good Seattle girl and endured the short ride home.

As I got up at my stop, I passed her and she said, again, quite loudly, "I HOPE YOU ARE PROUD OF YOURSELF FOR GETTING ME FIRED!" I was stunned. Dreadlocked Guitar Boy and Obnoxious Cell Phone Guy both smirked as I turned around, leaned down to her and said, "Cupcake? Consider for a moment that you are not a pleasant person to be around and that you are responsible for the hand you keep getting dealt. You just might be the fucking problem."

My little section of the bus cheered as I exited the bus. I felt equal parts ass and hero.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Life As A Summer Rerun

(Just realized that this post I wrote over the weekend never published. I am recording it solely for posterity (HA! Punny!), as the irony and/or coincidence was not lost on me.)

My older sister was here for the weekend, attending her high school reunion. Unbelievably (if you knew my sister), she managed to catch an earlier flight, so I had to scramble to get my sorry ass over to my aunt's house (Bremerton), where she was staying for the night. At the time, I believed all four of the siblings were going to converge at the aunt's house, so I couldn't call in "lame." No excuses jeans.

I opted to drive over, as it is only about an hour and a half (as opposed to the hour long ferry). As I was driving, I was listening to a CD made by the most recent ex. Not in an emo sort of way, but more of a closure kind of way. I made my peace with all of that and was listening to the CD in a more positive way. Not exactly reminiscing, but not rewriting history either. Just enjoying the music and fondly remembering the good stuff. Closure, it is a good thing.

The phone rang and it was B, wrapping up some unfinished business. The conversation was very cordial and cool, but then it started to rain hard. The sky ahead looked ominous, and all of a sudden, I was in the worst torrential downpour I have ever experienced in Washington. I told B to stay off the road, that I needed to get off the phone, and his voice was panicked. I hung up abruptly and Darbs (in the front seat) knew immediately that we were in deep shit trouble. I turned off my phone, the stereo (unbelievably, Open Your Eyes by Snow Patrol was playing) and I just white knuckled it.

I was in the far left lane, just to the right of the carpool lane. I couldn't pull over without fear of being rear-ended. I just had to keep going, albeit at a lower speed. I will forever be impressed by my fellow drivers on I5 that day - we all turned on our lights, stayed a healthy distance from each other, and just persevered. It was, without question, the scariest drive of my life (aside from the flash flood on the trip home from Notre Dame). Not unlike months prior, I became fixated on what would happen if I had a fatal wreck. Still technically married, last person I spoke with was my husband, mindful of the rules regarding wills (and unnamed spouses). Utterly fixated.

Holy shit. What a fucking repeat. Was I going to pull over (in the full light of day, but with enormous risk) to write another will? Jesus, sequels suck, and I didn't want to do that. Then I remembered a feature on the Blackberry - a voice record. I couldn't pull over for fear of my safety, but I turned on the speaker and recited a will. I revoked all prior wills and left my meager estate to my sister. I recited everything I knew about wills and the prior history and left detailed directions. I got through the random storm (we don't have those here) and finally pulled over. I replayed what I recorded and wrote (again, on a legal pad) a letter affirming the contents of my Blackberry. The storm had let up, but I was so shaken by the experience that I left nothing to chance. When I finally made it past the Tacoma Narrows bridge, I exited to the nearest mailbox and mailed my chicken scratches to my office.

(Incidentally, it arrived yesterday and my penmanship leaves a lot to be desired. That said, I am remarkably detailed in a crisis and it probably would have held up, not that anyone in my family would have challenged it.)

When I got to my aunt's house and recounted the tale, my aunt immediately remarked that my experience was similar to the Christmas Eve freak out that I already chronicled, which, of course, I realized. (I wrote this whole thing out within an hour of arriving at her place)

I am having my will rewritten (again) tomorrow and that whole shit will be nailed down yet again. Lord knows, I hate repeats, but this one? Pretty telling, all things considered. Even if my last conversation was with B, I didn't want the rules of law to give him back our life, which is deader than Anna Nicole Smith. I also realized that, if something awful happened to me, I would want my sister and her daughter to reap any financial benefit I could leave them.

Sounds utterly morbid, and yeah, this story isn't nearly as entertaining, but seriously, how often can one person have an existential crises while driving in a freak rainstorm? Two times is more than enough for me.

Second Date, Part Deux (Personal)

Scene: Getting ready for work this morning.

Drying my shorter hair, which, strangely, takes more effort than when it was longer. Singing aloud (and with purpose and passion) to some truly horrible, terrible song that I would not even admit here that I love. I haven't listened to music while getting ready school? I blame the post-workout high. Planning the day, the week, the weekend - and all of a sudden, I have something approximating a freak out about The Writer.

Stream of consciousness thinking, turned up to 11 for full effect:

WHAT THE FUCK AM I THINKING? I have zero desire to start another something with someone and have resolved to take this time to really get cool with myself. It is way too soon, or maybe too late, or just simply really shitty timing. This guy seems like a really interesting man and someone I would love to get to know, but not under any pretense of dating. Am not anywhere near ready to start any new relationship and need to focus on strengthening and repairing the ones I have. Want to spend more time with family, especially siblings. Am still a little weary and leery from the last experience and am going to take some time to heal and introspection in order to regain what has been lost in the past few years. I wish I had been introduced to this man in a few months, you know, after all of the personal growth that is surely bound to happen. This will probably turn out to be some rebound experience that goes horribly amuck, amuck, amuck.

Moment of Clarity, AKA GENUINE SELF Speaks:


Dog freaks out, randomly jumps into my arms, licks my face as if it is covered in peanut butter, then barks loudly in my face:

I think she and I just had a meeting of the minds. I hope she won't bite him if he comes over.

Return of EMOCHICK, who has suddenly started yelling like GENUINE SELF:


Dog gently but persuasively nips me for the very first time in our 1.5 years together:

Another moment of clarity. Seriously, who the fuck is this EMOCHICK person with all of the excuses and self-help jargon and, of all things, approaching life from a position of fear? She may have a $400 haircut, but it is framing a brain and mind that bears little resemblance to the woman I thought I was, and certainly the woman I want to be.

8 AM. Phone rings:

The Writer. As my newly schizophrenic self was currently hosting GENUINE SELF, I answer. He is calling to see if I have a wild hair to have lunch before the elusive second date. Ever the discriminating diner, I ask what he has in mind. Salumi, he replies.

Salumi is Mario Battali's dad's place and is fucking amazing. I don't eat a lot of bread, but need a sandwich from that place every couple of months. EXCELLENT choice.


"I'm in. I'll meet you there at noon. You better arrive early to get our place in line. I like pesto, so if you have to order before I get there, hit me with the green stuff."

The Writer:

"Excellent. Let's get the elusive second date out of the way." (I had made the mistake of telling him that I had never taken a second date with someone I wasn't really interested in).




"Don't make me nip at you again, freak of nature. Banish the EMOCHICK and just be yourself. That chick I know.


Replays the God awful song, sings louder and with even more purpose, and tells EMOCHICK to go fuck herself.

Scene: Lunch at Salumi's

The Writer has properly ordered my sandwich and we sit communally with a host of foodie tourists from NYC. One great looking guy asks us how often we ate there and The Writer announces it is our first time together and our spontaneous second date. Table cheers, pronounces us "made for each other," and extends invites to "our next trip to NYC" (including quasi-famous chef whose name I recognized because I watch entirely too much Food Network and Top Chef).

Scene: Leaving Salumi's

Me: "Well, I have to get back. Filing tomorrow and, by the way, I am probably going to head to LA this weekend, so we probably have to reschedule dinner on Saturday."

The Writer: "That's cool. I got the elusive second date, and I assumed that if you accepted a second, you'll agree to a third. I'm kind of clever that way."

Me: "Fuck it. Yeah. I'm in. Next week is a bear and I probably won't have a night free until Thursday, but yeah. Sign me up."

The Writer: "You know? It is a gorgeous day. I will walk you back to your office and we'll call it date #3."

Me: ("Fuck you, EMOCHICK") "Think you can keep up?"

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Second Date

So the Tom Douglas set up has some potential.

The dinner was amazing, of course, and watching Tom and his wife cook was an experience I will never forget. I was put to work, chopping and mincing (badly, I might add, but I did gain a few tips on form), when they could pry me away from their herb garden. Oh sweet Jesus, I need me one of those. As promised in the initial bargain, I arrived a couple of hours before the party and got to see the magic happen. It was the perfect summer dinner party - filling but light, full of fresh flavors, comparable to a night out at any great Seattle restaurant, but with the intimacy that comes of friendship.

I hadn't given much thought to the mystery dinner date, even after I arrived. Tom gave me some light background on the guy while prepping dinner and I was intrigued, in spite of myself. He is a writer, primarily a screenwriter, who has enjoyed modest success. I confess that my biggest concern was that he was - and this is remarkably shameful to admit - that he is two years younger than me. I have dated exactly one person younger than me and vowed never to do it again. However, upon learning that he was divorced, I was willing to spot him a few years, as that ages you in good (and bad) ways. I had almost no expectations, even after the minor sell from Tom, who repeatedly reminded me that this was my time to date. I altered my perspective and just opened my mind.

He has very nearly my sense of humor and reserved but outgoing nature. He was charming without overplaying his hand and I, only knowing how to play it cool, just took it for what it was. There were one or two moments where we both kind of let loose and laughed really hard, and those were the most awkward moments of the evening, as we (or, at least I) wasn't sure if it was chemistry of the romantic or other variety. I got the distinct sense that we were both sort of interested, but wary, and neither of us wanted to show our proverbial hand.

I wasn't sure how the evening would end, but knew that I wanted to take my leave before him. I excused myself to help clean up and Jackie was all aflutter at our "chemistry." Married folks do so enjoy successfully setting up their single friends. I told her that I wasn't sure how the game worked anymore, but I still had some quaint, old-fashioned ideas about the choreography of the pursuit. In layman's terms, the ball was in his court, although I probably needed to noodle whether I wanted the elusive second date. He is very attractive, smart, clever and funny - and tall, which is a new thing of mine -- and I wanted to get to know him better. That said, I go up to 11 on such things and was concerned that I was staring at another potentially serious relationship. Oh fuck, I was just confused.

When I finally made my way to the door, he asked if he could walk me to my car. Promising sign. As we did, he took my hand and asked if I would like to have dinner with him - just he and I. I am so out of the rat race that I immediately thought he wanted to have me over for dinner, which seemed to be....a big step. I made a joke about being able to hold Tom liable for any future food poisoning and he quickly reassured me that he wasn't going to try to follow up the night's culinary treats himself. I agreed to the elusive second date, which we scheduled for this weekend (and I will likely have to cancel for work).

But here is where he kind of dazzled me. Tonight, he called me to "touch base" and whatnot. Considerate and cool of him, even though we are both not "phone talkers." I ended the call by telling him I was going to take Darbs on a walk - I didn't reveal the destination, just mentioned that my dog was starting to maul me a little. I should add here that ALL of the siblings were at my place last night and we celebrated accordingly. I was a little worse for the wear today and was sporting the baseball cap and dreaded ugly white T with gym shorts look.

I went to Greenlake and, halfway around, he appeared. It didn't freak me out at all, and I laughed when I saw him. He said "lucky guess" with a fiercely wicked smile, then proceeded to take one of my ear buds out of my ear and grabbed my hand. Of course, I had cheesy music on, and House of Pain's "Jump Around" was blaring on the ipod. I confess that, even if we just end up as friends, skipping and hopping with him for the last mile around the lake was pretty goddamn outstanding. I love a man with confidence and the sense of self-assuredness to make an ass out of himself (and take me down with him).

We only saw each other for about half an hour tonight and still have tentative plans for this weekend. We shall see. I am apparently breaking my resolution not to date in 2007, even though I remain pretty tentative. If nothing else, he is interesting, smart, funny and talented, so perhaps I am merely beginning a good friendship. I just know that I am going to take this one nice and slow and see where it leads. I am both unnerved and strangely reassured at how comfortable he is with me and I with him, and suspect that is something to be reckoned with. No matter how much you just think you know someone, you usually don't know the whole story. Then again, I don't think I want to be the kind of person who evaluates new friends on the basis of past relationships. Live and learn, absolutely, but I refuse to weigh down new friendships with the baggage of past relationships. Fuck that noise.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

In Cursive

Sofa king awesome.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Forgive and Respect

I have always been good at forgiving the mistakes and slights of others. Perhaps it is because I have screwed up plenty of times and have often needed to ask for forgiveness. Maybe it is just that simple.

As far as I am concerned, if I am offered a sincere apology, my anger and hurt tends to melt away. I also seem to have a dangerous tendency to forgive and forget, as the saying goes. If I trust in the apology, I trust it won't happen again, and I don't dwell on the matter. I am a water under the bridge kind of gal. Once the issue is honestly resolved, it is done and buried - whatever event gave rise to the need for an apology. I don't believe I have ever resurrected a buried issue in a later argument. It goes against the way my (usually) rational brain behaves. Crimes against a relationship (friendship or otherwise) have a very short shelf life. Speak then or forever hold your peace on the topic.

By the same token, if you don't speak up and admit you're hurt, or, on the other hand, honestly apologize when you realize you have hurt or wronged someone else, you may lose the opportunity to fully resolve the issue and mitigate the harm you caused. Every situation and shelf life is different, but timing, she is a cruel mistress. Sometimes it can take you months or years to realize that you fucked up, and yet you can still make the deadline for a constructive apology. Other times, you can miss the window just moments after you fucked up, and the opportunity to mitigate the harm is gone forever.

The conundrum (great white wine, by the way) arises when an apology can repair some, but not all of the harm. You can mitigate the anger and hurt, but not the damage that you caused. You didn't wait too long for the apology to fall on deaf ears, but the recipient has lost the ability to accept and attribute it to the same "person" they needed it from. I think this is the situation that people often characterize as "being able to forgive, but not forget." I didn't understand that school of thought until recently.

A lot of people balk at the idea of even offering an apology in this scenario, since there may be little reward in the long haul, aside from limited peace of mind. Without question, I have taken this cowardly route. Some of the relationships were obviously not that important, as I tend to act upon those I consider meaningful. Others were relationships where the situation was hazy and gray, where fault was shared and perhaps a reciprocal apology felt warranted. Still others occurred in the context of family, where forgiveness is ultimately expected. All in all, still cowardly of me, and cowardly of others in similar situations.

In my own context, I now realize that my failure to sack up timely apologies to certain people has probably irreparably altered the respect those folks have for me. Respect is a close cousin of trust, upon reflection, although they are certainly distinct. You shouldn't accept an apology without trusting in it, so trust really isn't the immediate issue. Respect is what needs to be rebuilt. Restoring respect is what I suspect most people confuse with restoring trust. I wouldn't accept an apology from someone I didn't trust was honestly expressing regret and a commitment not to re-offend (at least in that manner) again. No, I think the obstacle is re-establishing your value in the relationship, and that, ultimately, that is a matter of respect.

I guess I think you can trust someone not to hurt you again, but have absolutely no respect for them. I think that is exactly where I am with the exes of relationship-past. I suspect that is also where I sit in terms of a few relationships that I torpedoed. I am going to sack up and learn a little from my experiment in "better living through blogging."

*Yes, I wrote this a days ago. The publish button eludes me.
** And yet it publishes on Friday. Awesome with an e.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Days of My (former) Lives

Enough with my commentary on blogging. Fully formed thoughts are what I am going for, not disconnected, unorganized musings.

I've got nothing at the moment, but in the interest and exercise of practicing writing, I shall tell a random story. I truly need to learn to self-edit, so here's hoping this one isn't too long.

1995, the Final Four was in Seattle. For whatever reason, I have never been into college basketball, even though I used to follow pro-basketball (alas, not since we lost George Karl, who, incidentally, is a story for another day). Oddly, I love college football but not pro-football, but whatever your head.

Doing this from memory, but I know UCLA (with the O'Bannon brothers and Tyus Edney) were the ultimate victors. God help me, I can't remember the other team. B wasn't much into college basketball, but days before the final games, he decided we needed to go to the game. Tickets were obviously scarce and expensive, and, as this was a year into our marriage, we weren't rolling in disposable income. I didn't give a shit about going, but B suddenly became determined. Back then, B was a much different guy and pretty imaginative and innovative when it came to getting what he wanted.

On the Wednesday night before the final games, he went down to the Kingdome, where the finals were being played. He somehow managed to bribe a security guard and got a poster that featured all of all access passes issued to the media. He brought that thing home (to our boat, at the time) and studied it intently. The next day, he enlisted the help of our friend Larry and, for the next 24 hours, they spent all of their time and efforts making all access passes from the models in the posters. They were of the "no guts, no glory" frame of mind, so they made 25 of them.

Come Friday night (semi-finals), we all arrived at the Kingdome. B and Larry sold five of the passes for $100 each (no warranties as to authenticity) to cover their sunk production costs, but none of us knew if we would actually be admitted. Mine proclaimed me "Karin Bunselmeyer, MTV Sports." As we approached the Kingdome, I distinctly remember thinking that if we got arrested for trespass, it might hinder my dreams of becoming an attorney. I was a "play by the rules" kind of gal and was sure this would end badly.

As it turned out, we all dispersed to different exits and we all got in without so much as a second glance. As B and I got in, we smiled wicked grins at each other and, hand in hand, made our way up to the VIP section. This was the year of the baseball strike, if I recall correctly, so we saw quite a few Mariners (and, oddly, Danny Ainge, whose name I surely just misspelled). Although we hadn't thought our cunning plan on the way out, the 20 of us eventually made it to a VIP lounge, where we marveled at the free drinks and private televisions. We. Were. In. We watched the semifinals, toasting our sneaky accomplishment and had a blast.

The next day was the final game and we were all supremely confident. We waltzed past security, had our token free drinks with the high rollers at the VIP lounge, but we were not satisfied. How far could we go? At half-time, emboldened by a few drinks and a sense of fearlessness, I declared that I was "going down." I was going to the hardwoods. B looked at me with something approximating pride and horror, then said "go, K. I'll meet you down there." I sashayed out of the VIP lounge - I worked for MTV Sports, after all -- and headed down to the promised land.

I'll save the suspense - I made it. I walked right past Barbara Hedges, then the athletic director for the U and a customer of our (then) deli. I ended up sitting cross-legged on the hardwoods, a few feet from the UCLA cheerleaders. I am a very animated sports fan (former cheerleader myself) and was leaping and yelling and having a blast. B saw me on the television in the VIP room and found his own inspiration to test the boundaries, as did most in our group. By the time the game ended, we were all on the hardwoods, sneaking glances at each other and reveling in our achievements.

The next day's Seattle Times? Yeah, the front page had a picture of the O'Bannon brothers were cutting down the net. I was holding the ladder steady. Good times.

You would think that after this whole heady experience, we would go off into the good night and further celebrate our scam. Oh no. We had to go further. We went into the press room (nearly getting busted by some more observant security guards) and eventually, I was sitting next to Tyus Edney (I know I am misspelling that) as he was interviewed by ESPN. I was visible on camera and a friend called me (yes, have had the same cell phone since 1995) and said "WTF are you doing?" I ended up making nice with Tyus and he told me where the after party (with dinner) was.

Yes. Yes, we were that daring. We showed up at the Westin, sporting our fake passes, thinking we could get into the private party. No dice. Except.....the security guard knew B from classes at the U. He told B he could get maybe B and myself in, but not our group of 20. He gave B a couple of tickets and B smiled devilishly. There was a Kinkos two blocks away. B took the two offered tickes, spirited off, made copies of the tickets, and the 20 of us dined and drank with the 1995 Final Four Champions.

It was, quite frankly, a perfect evening.

Years later, B successfully attempted a repeat performance when the Sonics were in the playoffs. I begged off. "We cannot repeat the experience of 1995 and I don't want to try." I wanted to preserve the perfection of the Final Four adventure. B and his buddies gained entry and had, what I have to believe, was a decent but not comparable experience. I got phone calls throughout the night, chronicling their successful infiltration, but I was content with the memory I had.

When he got home that night, B presented me with two things: (1) signed basketball from George Karl and (2) Shawn Kemp's shoes. He said it wasn't as fun because I wasn't there, but truthfully, you can never repeat an experience and shouldn't try. I still have the shoes, which have gathered dust for nearly a decade, and have no sentimental value to me whatsoever. I'm trashing them tonight.

Many, many years later, we were invited to the VIP thing for the MLB All Star Game festivities, at which we were completely legit. It was a blast, but not nearly as much fun as our two days as trespassers at the Final Four. Part of it was probably the thrill of the scam, sure, and being partners in crime. The other part was that it felt stale to be part of the establishment, so to speak, and there was none of that pure expression of love of the game from the players. We got to see a bunch of sports stars hang out with a bunch of rich white guys, with nary a spark of what makes these guys play their game. It was just a show, and this was just something they had to do to keep the fans happy.

Yeah, I still need an editor. And need to actually hit "publish" on the nights I write this tripe. Still, one of my more favored memories from a life long gone.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Rock of Blog

That last entry was a total mess.

What was stirring in my mind, oddly, was some odd connection between reality television and blogging. More likely than not, there is a well parsed, elegant study about what I was noodling in my head, but I haven't even connected my own dots, so I haven't googled properly.

My as-still-undeveloped social thesis has the following mis-matched ideas as a collage:

1) If my understanding of pop culture is correct, the original reality television programming was The Real World on MTV. This was a cast of characters that were not famous for their thespian skills, but just a bunch of no-name actors whose private lives were documented for the Gen Y audience to observe. As far back as I remember, this was the first peek behind the curtain that was broadcast as entertainment.

2) Somewhere between then and now, the Hollywood Powers That Be violently vomited and gave us the current state of programming. From "The Bachelor" to "Temptation Island" to "American Idol" to "Project Runway," there has been created a whole cast of non-actors and "real life" stories that dominate popular viewing.

3) I have successfully dodged this projectile vomiting, for the most part. I watched a season of Survivor (the one with Elizabeth Hasselbeck), one of The Apprentice (I , honestly cannot remember who was on that one) one season of The Bachelor, the Trista-what's-his-name one.

4) I have never seen an episode of American Idol (I did watch part of one season finale and died a little inside when I saw Prince on it). That said, I recognize the distinction between a competition and drama for drama's sake. At least in theory, the contestants on those kinds of shows have a talent or skill and they are vying, again, at least in theory, for a prize beyond fame and recognition.

5) I succumbed to Bravo. Project Runway and Top Chef. Fashion designers and chefs -- folks with whom I have little in common. Part of how I justified my viewing was that it was a competition of skills and not fame for fame's sake. They could do something I couldn't, and ergo, I was watching their skillful competition, not contributing to some false B-list celebrity. I developed a crush on one of the Top Chefs because he was attractive, confident and could cook a mean steak. So, apparently, did most of the world. This is good television.

6) While I was sleeping, the true B (and D) listers of the world (former actors) hopped on the reality television bandwagon. Shit, even in their prime, Britney, Jessica Simpson, Ozzy Osbourne and others thought that their fans would enjoy seeing their "day to day"lives. Celebrities, you see, are just like you and me. US Magazine says so.

7) What used to make a celebrity a celebrity was their elusiveness. Think of the actors of yore who you really admired. I know very little about George Clooney because he doesn't call the paparazzi to inform them of his every movement. He doesn't reveal himself in interviews to the point that you have some false sense of intimacy with him. As a consumer of pop culture, I know he used to have a pig (Max), has an Italian villa, and that his politics bend my way. But unlike Brad and Angelina (who are more stalked by the press than exploiters of it) his every movement isn't documented, such that we eventually tire of hearing and seeing him.

8) Now, in what I have to believe is the sunset hours of reality television, we have aging or fading celebrities acting like those contestants on The Real World. Tori Spelling has a show. The Two Coreys. Bret Fucking Micheals (that show, incidentally, is 180% awesome, and I hate that I know and think that). The formerly famous are co opting the medium and trying to convince public that the minutia of their lives is interesting.

9) How this all relates to my thoughts on blogging? No meaningful idea. Part of it is a theory that some bloggers are looking for reality television type fame among the anonymous screen names on the internet. Documenting the minutia is part of the exercise, even if it is a misguided attempt at fame for fame's sake. Are they (and me, by definition, even though I abhor the notion of this corner of the internet being widely read) just hopeful fame whores? Is it a consequence of bad reality television that people think what their pets are doing is fit for publication or otherwise an interesting discourse?

10) Related: the blogs that I enjoy are usually characterized by a creative writing style, interesting and insightful on subjects that interest me, and/or written by people who fascinate or amuse me, usually because I have met them and enjoy their personal commentary. I confess to be a little uneasy at reading the personal websites of "celebrities" (read: authors or actors) that I admire, even though often I gain an amazing insight into the inner workings of their brain. I am not entirely certain I want that, as it changes the way I experience their crafts.

11) Because I go up to 11? Jesus, I love Rock of Love. I think it is probably the absolute rock bottom of reality television and perhaps that is the appeal. The tide surely has to wash back into the ocean and regroup, doesn't it? Watching those girls, all of whom have a the gleam of fame in their eyes, it is truly fascinating television. All of them want to be famous for doing absolutely nothing beyond whoring themselves out as outrageous. How is that different from the internet folks who try to be shocking as internet sluts, virtual bad asses, or online exhibitionists - despite being in-person introverts.

Yeah, it is all a mess of unconnected and likely senseless musings that have likely been more fully fleshed out by seasoned social researchers. In the end, it is, of course, a question of "change the channel if you don't want to see it." I nonetheless remain intrigued by the subject as a whole. Attention whores, internet personas, fan seekers and a disconnect from reality afforded by contemporary media.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Irony Poisoning

With all deference to Law, who coined the phrase.

I would never want to be a blogger - at least, in terms of audience and traffic and all that. I know that there is a very small handful of friends who read this occasionally, and I would be lying if I said I didn't give attention to my form and sentence structure because of them. However, this corner of the internet is mine and is remarkably cheaper than therapy. I hash shit out here that would otherwise fester in my head and it serves as a release. As another aside, I write for a living, but not the kind of writing I would long to do, so just putting my own words on virtual paper is a creative and exercise.

I read several blogs on a semi-regular basis. Stephanie, and of course, there is Amy, who is just plain entertaining and her kid is cute. I also read the QC Report, because she is a great goddamn writer and was also the little girl from The Goodbye Girl, which is required viewing for anyone. My list of must read is mostly people whose writing styles and senses of humor I enjoy, and I could list a bunch of writers' sites that I read whenever I remember them.

What I don't read are the sites that feature "oh, I took the kids to school today and fed the pets this, and took a phone call from so and so" and that type of sharing. I understand the nature of those blogs - keeping in touch with e-friends, etc. - and I read those of my own e-friends. That said, my e-friends aren't really of the daily "here's what I am doing, every moment of the day, and here is every thought I am thinking" variety. There is a certain kind of arrogance to that style of posting, especially if the writer is assuming (or cultivating) an audience. I enjoy listening to people when they have something to say, not because they want to talk. I don't believe my life is particularly interesting and cannot imagine wanting to record and share the mundane as a substitute for actual relationships. I certainly don't tell my meatspace friends about that kind of minutiae, nor would I especially like to hear theirs. I don't call my friends up and tell them about how adorable Darbs was this morning and how I need to clean my house and fuck all, are my cramps kicking my ass, which is smaller because of all of the squats and lunges.

I am a little fascinated by that whole line of thinking. Is it some hope or expectation that a reader will become invested in your daily life and tune in for some reality-show type shenanigans? I think that is part of it - a modern day version of "I have the wackiest life and if only I had the time to write the sardonic, cutting memoir, I would have it all." More often than not, the writing on the "days of my life" style blogs is mind-numbing and banal, but the underlying idea is nonetheless intriguing. If someone - anyone - comments on your minutia, does it elevate it to Interesting Shit That Happened To You and Therefore Significant?

This is all terribly hypocritical, as I type to my blogger account that I know at least three people read (NORM!). It is an as yet undeveloped thought that, I strongly suspect, will cause me to cease my blogger-as-therapy adventure. I don't type stream of consciousness stuff and I have other outlets to work out the more personal shit. What is interesting and puzzling to me is the sites I enjoy most are highly personal in nature. I am not at all comfortable with airing my deepest personal issues on a website that Google will archive forever, yet am kind of appreciative of those who can do it.

I live my life largely in private, this corner of the internet notwithstanding. I know that words have lasting power, especially in the Google era, and at the end of the day, you are judged by the words you write, not the sentiment behind them.

I guess we shall see. I still want to write down my thoughts about a few things. Not what Darby ate for dinner tonight, or how stressed I am feeling, or how many chores I have to do this weekend. I love stories, I guess, and I love to read and tell them. The hope is that by doing it often enough, I will get better at it.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Flipping Coins

Had to drive in this morning and ergo, drive home. Another day, another vehicle ran that damn light. This time,to make things interesting, it was a several ton concrete truck. Unreal.

On this Angry Thursday, I got my rage on about the divorce thing. Colossal fuck up by my attorney, but it may not be as dramatic as originally presented. She is throwing herself on the mercy of the court, so to speak, shouldering the blame and pleading that her misstep doesn't prejudice the client. Only thing is, the court is slightly less sympathetic when the client is also an attorney - even an intellectual property one. I have a decree that is voidable and the original petition was dismissed by the court, but there is still a decent chance that the court will reinstate it and allow my attorney to cure the procedural error.

I didn't use her to negotiate my divorce and, Alanisy, I only hired her to make sure I didn't fuck up anything procedurally. As incredibly pissed as I am at the whole situation, I just can't go after my attorney with both barrels. As a preliminary matter, there is the whole professional courtesy thing. Being a litigator myself, I am all too familiar with competing deadlines and the feast or famine nature of the scheduling demands. I have missed deadlines in my practice and, tellingly, both of them occurred when I was trying to do a favor for a family member or friend. My attorney and I aren't social friends, but she knew her role was limited. I should have been more vigilant about following up with her and taken a more active role in something that mattered so much.

Mostly, however, I have learned a lot about forgiveness, as well as the futility of channeling energy into being angry and vindictive. Suing her for malpractice? Well, I would likely recover my fees, which she has already volunteered to return. I could probably state some damages in the form of exposed liability to B's debts during the past few month, and could tack on some mental anguish claims about being still bound by social contract to B. I don't feel particularly entitled to those kinds of damages and the cost to her? Professional humiliation that will stay with her for the rest of her career. The inconvenience to me and the resultant irritation I feel? Those feelings don't justify causing that kind of lasting pain to her. It won't improve the situation in any meaningful and ultimately, won't add any value to me.

People - myself certainly included - fuck up. I cannot expect forgiveness for my mistakes if I am intolerant of those of others. Granted, this is a professional mistake, but it was just that - a mistake. An oversight. No malicious intent. Because I have some bizarre need to apply these observations to matters of the heart, I realized I need to abide by that formula more than I have. I also need to accept that the world has a sizable population of those who enjoy being angry and vindictive, often for their own entertainment. I am rather proud of not being a member of that populace.

Ultimately, however, I think that the underlying fallacy of that brand of thinking is the superficial sense of self esteem derived from belittling or antagonizing others. I am not certain that it is all that different from deriving your self esteem from a (theoretically) rewarding relationship, as the same false premise is involved - feeling good about yourself because of someone else, or, more pointedly, how that someone else makes you feel about yourself. Probably two sides of the coin, and I have certainly had my headshot on that other side. It can be addictive - the heady sense of self-importance and worth - when experienced at either the expense of, or through the estimation of, someone else.

The danger, of course, is ambivalence. What the fuck to do when the person no longer gives a shit what you think about them or what you think of them? WHERE IS YOUR SELF ESTEEM NOW?

Have no idea where I was going with this. Actually, that isn't exactly true. I had a whole line of thinking today about blogging (NB: this isn't blogging, this is me ACHIEVING PERSONAL GROWTH), but I am le tired and need a nap. Maybe I will write it anyway.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Better Living Through Blogging

Goddamn it, I may have to cancel my appearance at the Douglas dinner party. A case in which I am involved is blowing the fuck up and reaching near-hysteria. I will likely have to be in LA most of next week and should probably go during the weekend to get settled. No pun intended, but certainly desired.

The divorce drama? Holy fuck. It appears as though we failed at both marriage AND divorce. The decree was not finalized due to a clerical error of my attorney (she didn't file something that took it off the court calendar). I am still married and now must wait another ninety (90) days for the divorce to be final. My attorney is a seasoned divorce attorney and this was a colossal fuck up, the kind you sue your attorney for making. I cannot do that, as we all make mistakes, and I am getting my fees paid returned to me. That said, if this all blows up? I hope I can remain magnanimous. There is a chance she can plead with the court that the error was clearly clerical in nature and somehow avoid restarting the goddamn clock.

I couldn't feel less married if I tried. B wants to meet, of course, but I am of the "no contact" state of mind. Too soon to try to be friends, too late for anything else, and too tired of all of it. I have said before that I will always love the man I married and that remains true. He disappeared a long time ago and I have since given up that search and rescue mission. He cannot let go of me as his emotional safety net, but I have bid a fond farewell to that role and have to stand firm to that. He is an undeniable part of my history (wedding album continues to gather dust underneath my bed), but not any part of my future. I have to believe that I am not bitter for the experience, just wiser. I think I have a better idea of what I want in a partner and am holding out for it.

I should be more enraged about this whole situation, but I have attained that elusive state of apathy. I need to get refiled immediately and get this dissolved by the end of the year - I am NOT assuming our joint tax obligation another year and the IRS mercifully assesses your tax year marital status on the last day of the calendar year. That is the date of my brother's wedding, and I fully intend to be legally single by then. I should be a lot more pissed off at 2007 than I am, but I am honestly better now - in August of 2007 - better than I was in August of 2006.

Honestly better? I am better because I am more honest, both with myself and others. I am a ways from where I want to be, but I finally know where that is. America, fuck yeah.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What Matters Most

Days after my most recent breakup, I was on the phone with a client who is also a friend. She has one of those maddening cases where the facts are all in her favor and the law, or, more accurately, the process and standard of review, are stacked against her. Without divulging any client secrets, she was treated inexplicably unfairly by her employer, despite twenty-two years of exemplary and much lauded public service.

During this shitstorm, she also separated from (and eventually divorced) her husband of 20+ years. Suffice to say, 2006 - and much of 2007 - is sucking out loud for her. However, when I talked to her that night, she was rather upbeat, despite just ending a relationship in which she was deeply invested. As she is 15 years older than me, and I was wallowing, I was intrigued by her optimism. She told me that the man she had been seeing was conflicted about competing interests and that she just told him to choose for him what mattered most. Those words have stayed with me for a while and I continue to be amazed at their wisdom, simplicity notwithstanding.

Until very recently, I had lost sight of what matters most. I have had the luxury of self-pity and indulging in all this introspection. It really is a luxury in the grand scheme of things.

Two events have altered my perspective. The first is utterly random and a strange creature of the internet, to some degree. A few months ago, I read a book that just fucking resonated with me. Straight Up and Dirty is the title and while it sounds like typical chick lit, it didn't read that way to me. Stephanie Klein is, without question, my kind of writer - honest, humble, strong and insightful. I actually started (and finished it) the day of that conversation with my client.

It was the first time I finished a book and immediately wanted to thank the author. I didn't know it at the time of the reading, but Stephanie is something of an internet rock star and has a very successful blog, through which she obtained her book contract. I found her website, sent her a note of thanks for her book, and have exchanged a few emails with her. Her site has become required reading for me as, again, she is my kind of writer. Hell, just my kind of person.

I spent a good hour at her site, reading past entries (written both before and after the book). Her book ends as she is beginning a relationship with the man who eventually became her husband, so I didn't know that she now has fraternal twin babies. I just skimmed the posts, but gathered that it wasn't an uncomplicated pregnancy and delivery, and that her beans (as she calls them) spent their first days in the NICU. Stephanie isn't a mommy blogger by any stretch of the imagination, so the days of her mothering life isn't the focus.

Within weeks of my discovery her site, however, her baby boy had to be admitted to the hospital. The sage is ongoing, but it appears that he has acquired hydrocephalus. The saga started here and has understandably been her primary topic for the past few weeks. This woman, whom I do not know personally, but whose talent I admire from afar, is dealing with the scariest thing I could imagine, even though I don't have kids. Her baby has a brain condition and she has no idea what is going to happen to him.

Talk about what matters most. I have been so fucking self-indulgent and self-involved, and it took this virtual stranger's story to rouse me out of it. Sure, I have a heavy heart, but I was an active participant in the events leading to it and certainly wasn't dealt this kind of a hand. Yes, there are people suffering worse fates all over the world, but it took this one to bitch slap me into reality. Incidentally, her last post? I am not a crier unless in a darkened theater, but this one brought on the waterworks. There was a comment on that post that really resonated with me: it really is amazing how much we can care for people we've never met.....

Maybe I just needed to care about someone other than me. Or, better said, needed to feel that sense of empathy to remind myself that I am so very fucking lucky to experience this self-pity. I am ashamed of it tonight.

The second event happened to a friend of Kathy's (and the former girlfriend of a client). I was actually at the intersection where Kathy's friend Talia was in a bike-to-truck accident. Oddly, it was the morning after the most recent breakup, and I drove to work in a complete daze. Serendipitous, that. I was delayed at that intersection for 20 minutes (usual cross time? 2 minutes) while the cops directed traffic. I remember wondering what had happened and even checked the local news sites for information, to no avail. Turns out, Talia (on the bike) collided with a truck and had a series of seizures en route to the hospital.

Her injuries were largely superficial (cuts and bruises), but those seizures were a cause for concern. Turns out, Talia had a brain tumor - a big, fucking brain tumor - and had it not been for the accident, it probably would have remained undiscovered until she woke up one day, unable to talk. Talia has had a rough 2007 herself, but this took the cake. Her accident was at the end of June, and she had surgery to remove what could be taken from her brain at the end of July. Surgery went well, things were looking up for her.

And then the pigeons came. Mass removed from the tumor in her brain is malignant and very aggressive. She cannot speak, as the tumor has affected that part of the brain. Two years is the prognosis, assuming she does the chemo-radiation game, 6 months without. Presently, she is leaning towards the no-treatment, as she understandably doesn't want to spend two years sick by chemo with little quality of life. Oh, and did I mention she is only 34 years old and has a 9 year old son? No?

Yeah. What matters most. Am self-absorbed little shit. Feeling all shitty about lost loves and all that, when there are other, more palpable problems. Kids with brain issues. Single mothers with malignant brain tumors. Soldiers with limbs lost in a war fought for reasons 90% of the voting public doesn't understand. I have the luxury of sitting in my condo, lamenting whatever pity party de jour I have chosen to throw. I am ashamed and humiliated.

Kathy and I are going to work together to throw a benefit for this woman with a death sentence. I am officially over myself and so utterly bored with my self pity that I am starting to actively dislike my own company. Jesus. Disgusting. Pathetic. And fortunate - to quote my ex, because if my angst is the worst of my problems, I live a treasured life.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Tuesday Night Supper Club

Still on the high of a great meal and dining experience, my cunning plan to create a dining club is on its way.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to Kathy about how there are so many great, locally owned restaurants in Seattle and how we tended to go to the same ones over and over. As an aside, I believe that Seattle was rated the worst place in the country to open a chain restaurant. We have a few of the usual suspects (P.F. Changs, Ruths Chris, Cheesecake Factory - egads), but those places are for the tourists who like their food to taste exactly like it is at home. Which, incidentally, begs the question: why go out of town if you want everything to be like it is at home? I understand the business traveler has different needs, but the pleasure travelers? Bizarro. Hell, I am dying to go to Boston this fall and really want to check out Legal Seafood (LOVE the name), but am told it is nothing compared to the smaller, locally owned spots.

In any event, Kathy and I talked about doing dinner once a week at a different place and eventually eating our way across the city. My schedule has been nutty for the month of July, so it hasn't yet happened, but the seeds, they have been sowed.

The P and I went to ANOTHER movie today (Once - a topic for later) and afterwards, ended up ambling down Broadway on Capitol Hill. P and I both consider ourselves contemporary Seattle historians (I will never understand how it took the internets for us to meet, as we knew so many of the same people) and we ended up at Vivace, the absolute best coffee place in Seattle. P knew a couple that lived nearby and we ended up having a glass of wine with them in their amazing apartment.

These are great guys with terrific interests and knowledge. They started a Sunday night dinner ritual with their neighbors at which every dish is made from locally grown, sustainable ingredients. They were featured in the weekly food section of the Seattle Times, a paper I loathe with every fiber of my being. P and I have been doing Sunday nights and Sopranos (or Six Feet Under, Dexter, and now Entourage) for years and we're not about to change the routine, as there is something to be said for tradition.

In any event, I hit it off with Andrew and he was completely jazzed at my idea of trying a new place, every week. Tuesday night is a perfect night for it, as the restaurants aren't usually full and you can take your time to discover the menu. I love movies, books, theater, music and everything else this city has to offer, but I love great food, drinks and conversation the most. I think it will be a blast to take a culinary tour of the city.

In the bigger picture, I spent entirely too much time on the computer during my separation, and in particular in the past year. It gave me a false sense of companionship and friendship that took its toil and caused a great deal of pain. While I have developed some truly epic friendships through this machine, nearly all of them have ripened into meatspace relationships. I loves me the internets, to be sure, but I need my relationships to be three-dimensional. Too much can be lost or overblown in a text-based world and it is too easy (although for some, not so much) to log off and simply avoid. I am simply not an avoider. I don't have a real-world ignore button, nor do I want one. It is so hard to imagine that mindset, but different strokes and all that.

I noticed that each and every one of my meatspace friends spends very little time online, and the "internet" friends that have become vital meatspace friends?. The heavy lifting is done in person. We send each other quick emails, reminding one another of social obligations and trading short bits of information, but we do the friendship thing in person. If we have an issue with each other, we have a coffee or a drink and deal with it, no matter how unpleasant. That is, quite frankly, why they call it "social skills" - like any other skill, you have to practice to be competent.

To that end, I have significantly curtailed my online diversions and refocused on what I can see, hear and understand in real time. I am going to spend an hour outside and out and about for every hour I spend on the internet. That could probably be a diet as well - exercise an hour for every hour you spend escaping on the internets. In any event, it should be pretty fun and delicious to work my way around the city with an engaging group of folks who enjoy the same thing.

I have the soccer and softball teams to keep me balanced.