Friday, December 30, 2005

Deep Thoughts for the New Year

They can't all be light and funny people...
(click pictures to see them bigger.)

In Color

I have always dreamt in color. Clear, vivid, full dreams that I can feel. Literally feel. My senses are overwhelmed as I walk through these lifelike paintings of my mind. Sometimes the dreams are a complete fabrication of my imagination. They take place in situations and places I’ve never actually experienced, and yet I can still feel every aspect of them. Then there are the dreams that take me back to situations and places I have actually lived. I tend to enjoy these more. They are like interactive photo albums that always come to life just when I need them.

It has been a month since I’ve returned from my Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Honduras. It seems so far away, yet sometimes it seems as though I can still see it, hear it, feel it. Mostly this happens in my dreams. I have dreamt frequently of being back there, either as if I never left or as if we’ve all returned for another trip. I find that I usually have these dreams when my waking life becomes too stressful. My dreams take me back to Honduras, to a time when I was able to "unclench", as I wrote in one of my journal entries. For the duration of the dream I am relaxed. And I’m also covered in mud.

In my dreams there is never any real explanation as to why I am suddenly back in Honduras. And yet it seems perfectly logical that I am there. Which is how real life went as well. None of my friends and family could completely understand why I had decided to spend my vacation digging ditches and building houses instead of laying on a beach and sipping frozen margaritas. My stock answer was that I was, "Going to save the world." But the truth was I didn’t really know why I was going. I knew I wanted to get out of this country for a little while, wanted to experience something different and I wanted to do something positive. Habitat’s Global Village seemed like a good fit.

When I arrived in Honduras I found that most of my teammates didn’t really know what to expect from our trip either. Now when I dream of Honduras these teammates are always there. Every one of them. Because my dream is about recreating the colors and the feeling I had in Honduras. And those colors wouldn’t have been nearly as vibrant without the other 17 people on our team. In any other place, on any other day we would have all be strangers, the paths of our lives way too different to ever cross. But on this day we were all sitting in an airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. We ranged in age from 27 to 70 years old. We lived on the east coast, on the west coast, in the middle, in Canada and in RV’s which wandered. We were doctors, we were firefighters, we were designers, we were poker dealers, we were retirees, we were grandparents, we were single, we were married, we were divorced, we were widowed and we were all sitting in an airport in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. And so maybe we weren’t that different after all.

One of our first R&R days took us to a waterfall about two hours away from where we were staying in Honduras. We were told by our Honduras Habitat representative, Luis, that we would have the opportunity to go down into the waterfall if we wanted to. He told us that we would get wet. We all figured Luis’ English wasn’t that great and by "into the waterfall" he actually meant "really close to the waterfall" and by "wet" he actually meant "a little misty". It turns out his English was fine, it was just our comprehension that was a bit rusty.

When we got down to the waterfall one of our teammates, Elisa, stopped to roll up her jeans, thinking that "you are going to have to get in the water" actually meant "you are going to be wading through the water". When our Honduran Waterfall Guide jumped off a rock into the water, fully submerging himself in the process, I looked back to the jean roller and said, "Uh, you are going to have to roll those up pretty high to avoid getting them wet." She looked up to see our guide’s face barely peaking out from the roaring rapids and she shook her head, "I’m not going in there." I tried to convince her to come, but she wasn’t budging. I made my way to the edge of the rock, looked down into the white water, shrugged a little and then jumped in.

When I looked back I was followed by Linda, who was wearing a poncho. You know, to keep her dry. The poncho floated on top of the water, occasionally whipping itself around her neck. As the water rushed by us and the spray from the waterfall littered our faces I asked Linda a wonderful question to ask once you are already neck-deep in water, "Is this sanitary?" She looked around at the water and tried to draw on her memory of her "do’s and don’t’s" list regarding water in foreign countries, "Well, at least it’s not stagnant."

That seemed like a good enough answer to me and I followed the Honduran Waterfall Guide into the waterfall. And by "into" I mean "into". As in the waterfall was literally beating down on us. It was kind of like that romantic scene in ‘Cocktail’, except instead of trying to be sexy we were all trying not to drown. Our vision was eliminated by the splattering waterfall and so all we had to guide us were the hands of our fellow teammates. We formed a line, hands clinched, blindly counting on the one in front of us to lead and trying our best to guide the one behind us. At one point, in a brief moment of vision, I looked back to see who I was leading. It was Elisa. Failing miserably at the "If Everyone Else Jumped Into a Waterfall, Would You?" Test Elisa had decided to join us.

As we made our way into the waterfall we had to stop several times to allow people to catch up. During these times I could see some teammates hunkering near rocks while other teammates did their best to shield them from the pummeling water. Rick, our firefighter from Canada, stayed at the end of the line the whole time, making sure everyone was safe, his firefighter instinct still alive and well even in Honduras. At one point we all huddled around a rock, holding on for dear life, trying to breathe without inhaling a lung full of Honduras water. We were nervous and scared and wondering about our choice of afternoon activities. Then someone screamed, "What the hell are we doing?!" And we all burst into laughter, the fear and reservations melting away with the knowledge that at least everyone else was scared as well.

After we made it safely out of the waterfall and back to solid ground our guide took us up to some higher rocks and showed us how we could jump off of them into the raging river below. Having barely escaped with their lives from the waterfall most of the group decided to stay on the solid ground. But a few of us ventured to the rock’s edge and peered down into the water. It was high, it was questionable water, it was scary. So I decided I might as well do it. I took the leap.

This was our first full day together as a team. We were all taking the leap.

From that very first day all 18 of us just seemed to click. We all got along and not just in that polite way you get along with people you happen to be spending time with. We really clicked. Everyone kept talking about how weird it was that such a diverse group of people came together so well. Yet, this never seemed weird to me. I think we are all the same type of person. In our souls, in the center of our hearts we are driven by the same things. These similarities overpower any sort of perceived difference age or circumstances create.

Our group of 18 was split in half to work at two different build sites. There was Team 1 and Team 2 (otherwise known as The Best Team). As luck would have it I was a part of Team 2. On the first day of building we dropped Team 1 off at their site and found that their site already had several ditches dug before we even arrived. When Team 2 arrived at our site we found only dirt. And lots of it. We then proceeded to spend the next several hours waist-deep in said dirt. By the end of the day we were muddy from head to toe, we were tired, we were sore and we were quite bitter when Team 1 got on the bus and was barely even dusty. And so began the rivalry between the two teams. While it was quite obvious that Team 2 was superior Team 1 continued to proclaim their proficiency, "We actually had the whole house built, but we decided to take it down before you guys came to pick us up, so you wouldn’t feel bad."

But we didn’t feel bad. While Team 1 had a mason and a few family members helping them Team 2 had an entire fire department helping us. While Team 1 had a yappy dog who barked all day Team 2 had adorable children who brought us fruit and sang songs. While Team 1 had lunch breaks and nap time Team 2 was actually busy building a house. The bus ride home every night brimmed with a mixture of sharing and taunting. Physically exhausted we would prop ourselves up against the bus windows and detail our day for each other. There would be laughter and groans and laughter and boasting and laughter. God did we laugh. I laughed so hard my stomach hurt. Which made the other muscle aches just fade away.

People have asked me if I was ready to come home at the end of our trip. Because sometimes vacations, no matter how great they are, really make you ready to return home at the end. If for no other reason than to sleep in your own bed. But that wasn’t the case with our trip. It wasn’t as if I was dreading coming home, but it also wasn’t as if I was eager to return either. For ten days we were surrounded by only good things. In a time in the world when simply turning on the news can give you a panic attack we were free for 10 days. We were surrounded by good people, doing good things, in a good country. We didn’t make much of an effort to obtain outside news. For 10 days we were oblivious to anything outside of our little world. And it was amazing.

Most amazing of all were the people of Honduras. I went to Honduras because I wanted to help people worse off than myself, but the most important thing I learned during my time was that the people of Honduras should not be pitied. They have the things that matter and they are living their lives. Sure they want more, but we all want more. It’s just to what degree.

The husband of the family we were building with is a fireman. His name is Henry. One day Henry invited us all to the fire station to see where he and his friends worked. We arrived to find an amazing new fire station that the men had built with funds they raised themselves. The government did not own their fire station, the firemen did. While we were there the firemen did several fire drills to show us their skills. I so enjoyed being able to see these men at work and to see how proud they were of their job and themselves and the work they do.

The feeling I got from these men and from all of the people in Honduras was that they are very proud. They do not have a lot of money, but they are far from poor. They don’t have all of the things we have, but they have the things we value: our health, our family, our love. These things are universal and these are the things that matter.

I think people come back from these kinds of trips feeling as though they live in excess, but not solely because they feel guilty for having too much when others don’t have enough. I think they also realize that we do not need so much to survive. That perhaps we are missing the whole point by chasing money and success and all of those things. Perhaps the things worth chasing aren’t really elusive after all. Happiness is in all the different parts of life - not just the ones we chase after so hard.

I asked other people on the trip what had brought them to Honduras and none of them really had an answer beyond, “It just felt right.” It’s an impossible feeling to explain, but I hardly think it’s a unique one. I do not think those of us on this trip were unique in our desire to do something. But I do think that we were unique in actually acting on that desire. It seems almost too idealistic to imagine what this world would be like if everyone who had the inclination simply took that one little step.

Personally, I have been moving so fast for so long that it did me well to slow down for a little while and really breathe on this trip . Things tend to take on a different shape when they are not moving at a hundred miles an hour. I unclenched for the first time in months. I just absorbed and moved and didn’t plan or worry or stress. Who would have thought that manual labor would be a good way to unwind? But it was. And it has also served me well back at home. To be refueled a little, with a little perspective on things; on life, on people, on me. In the end it seems as though it wasn’t about me saving the world so much as it was about the world saving me.

And now instead of saying, “I’d really like to do that someday.” I can say, “I did that.” And that’s what living is - checking things off the list, instead of just adding things all the time. Now instead of saying, “I want to do that again.” I can say with confidence, “I will do that again.” And it’s that statement that helps me when I’m stressed and wondering what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. It’s that statement that reassures me that I am not just dreaming of who I’ll someday become, but I’m already becoming her. And I like her a lot.

Did Honduras change me? I don’t think so. I think Honduras just showed me who I already was. Instead of just dreaming in color I’m now a person who lives in color as well. And I can’t wait to see what canvas I choose next.

Happy New Year everyone...

(more pics)

Thursday, December 29, 2005


This is a response from my Habitat for Humanity contact when they heard I was concerned about freezing my butt off in DC and NY in January:

"Last year we had snow, freezing rain and David, Sheila and Treva were stuck in DC…"
How is that helpful to anyone? I mean really. "Freezing rain"? Isn’t that what snow is? I wouldn’t know, I’ve only seen it on TV and even then I’m pretty sure it’s more "shredded styrofoam" than "freezing rain".

My mother, being helpful and concerned about her only child dying an awful death, offered to buy me a "big ass coat". Which is nice. But what the hell am I going to do with this "big ass coat" once I return to "warm ass California"? Seems like a bit of a waste to me.

Although I have been bundling up lately when walking to the office of one of my clients. Every time I embark on the three block journey I end up looking like that kid from Christmas story, you know the one, the waddler kid that falls in the snow and then can’t get back up? That’s me. Except there is no snow, just an occasional puddle. REALLY deep puddles. And it's uphill both ways. Of course. I usually end up shedding half of the layers about two blocks into the journey, cause it’s not really that cold and I just wanted an excuse to wear the 564 hats and scarves my mom has knitted me since retiring. Any day that is remotely chilly gets a hat and a scarf. Damn do I look cute. Even as I’m sweating.

So I’m thinking that I’ll be wearing all 564 hats and scarves at the same time while I’m enduring "freezing rain" in DC. By the time I get up to NY they might be frozen together to form one big hat/scarf combo, with my sad little face peaking out between them.

Can we just recap on my intelligence level the past few months when making vacation plans? Two week vacation spent digging ditches and avoiding malaria in Honduras. 5 days spent avoiding hypothermia while learning how to lead other ditch diggers. Cause it’s obvious that I’m the type of person you should follow, right? Riiiiiiight.

*&%##$ Password

I have officially killed my computer in hopes of it rising from the ashes to live again. And can I just tell you that killing a computer is not the easiest thing to do? I guess there are many good reasons for that. After hour number two spent trying to put it out of its (and my) misery I had yet to figure out what those reasons may be.

The computer comes with some discs that are meant to be used when all hell breaks loose and your computer is no longer able to uh, compute. I threw one of the discs in and waited for the computer to heal itself. Instead it asked me for a password. What? Password? Right. So I don’t know the password, because I’ve had the friggin’ thing for three years and I barely remember what I had for lunch yesterday, let alone a password from 2002. Thanks though. So I spend the better part of an hour trying to remember what the password could possibly be, entering every password I’ve ever had in my entire life, names of childhood dogs, streets I grew up on, mother’s maiden name, and of course “password”. Cause you really just never know. None of these passwords worked and so I was left with only one logical solution: I went online and started looking up how much it would cost to just buy another computer. That is how over this computer I am. I just don’t know if my heart can take one more malfunction from this damn thing.

But before spending $900 on a new computer I thought maybe I should at least try calling the tech guy. The tech guy told me that he couldn’t help me with any password related issues, because there was no way for him to know if I had stolen the computer. (God how I wish someone would steal the computer.) He said that he would gladly transfer me to a “sister department” that might be able to help me for the reasonable price of $2.95 a minute. As much fun as paying $2.95 a minute for something that wasn’t porn sounded I said no to being transferred. Then I said, “Is there any way to set up your computer without using a password?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “What would I enter where it says “password” if I don’t have a password?” He said, “Just push enter, don’t type anything.” I pushed enter. The thing finally worked. I said, “Wow that was a good use of an hour of my life.” Cause even though I didn’t have a password the computer asked me for one over and over and over and over and over and over again. Those last 5 years it took off my life probably weren’t going to be that great anyway.

After all that work, all that suffering, all that cussing I have managed to VIOLA! return my computer to the way it was when I first took it out of the box. AKA: Pretty much useless. My once thriving desktop is now vacant, with only two lonely little icons, neither of them things I would ever use. The rest of the computer is empty, all of its files and programs erased as if they never existed. It’s all very sad. (Seriously, I’ll leave my door unlocked if you want to come steal the computer.)

In other news I’ve made my first New Years Resolution: I'm going to try to fit about 12 or 132 more wires under my desk. Really. Cause I just don’t have enough under there. As I was trying to disconnect the 5 USB devices from my computer I managed to get caught in the web of wires and in an effort to free myself I accidently pulled a wire that was attached to my laptop that was on the desk above me. Well, technically after I pulled the wire it was no longer on the desk above me. At that point it was on my head. So if you know of any possible way for me to get more wires under my desk I would love to hear them, as I’m always looking for new and exciting ways to create an awesome electrical surge that takes out the entire work area of my house.

I might need more than a password to fix that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Best Idea Ever

Karma, as it turns out, is waiting for me in 2006. Remember a few weeks ago when I was bitching about how cold it is here? In California? Where it’s like 60 degrees outside? Yeah. So I’m going to both Washington DC and New York in January. We will now open the betting as to where and when I officially freeze to death. I’m thinking it might be outside the DC airport. Or maybe even inside it. As I’m waiting for my luggage an automatic door might open, allowing a gust of wind to blow through and freeze me right on the spot. I’ll be the very large icicle going around and around with the luggage. Someone please put me in a cab and point me towards the nearest hotel with a sauna.

I am going to DC to participate in a leadership training seminar with Habitat for Humanity. You know, cause I’m trying my best to save the world and all. But the thing is, there are training seminars all over the country. Why I chose DC in the middle of friggin’ winter is completely beyond my comprehension at this point in time. I think that I am in denial of how not cold it is in California. I don’t quite grasp that the rest of the country is not 70 degrees on Christmas Eve. And I certainly cannot compute temperatures below 50 degrees. That’s madness. How has the federal government not done something about all of this? How are we supposed to fight terror if we can’t feel our noses? I mean really.

So I was talking to my friend today, who is also a California native. He is going to meet me in New York when I go up there to visit another friend. I told him that we are going to go see as much theater as humanly possible, but that theater can be a bit expensive in New York. He said, "Do they have heaters in the theater?" I said yes. He said, "I’ll pay whatever price they are asking if I can sit in a warm theater for 2 hours, the performers will just be an added bonus." We will be the two with the down comforter over our laps in a Broadway theater. Don't judge.

In fact, nevermind about looking for me frozen by the luggage. I won’t need to pack, I’m just going to wear layers of every piece of clothing I own. And one ski mask I’ve yet to buy. Sure, I won’t be able to walk normally and I will look alarmingly ready to rob a 7-11, but at least I’ll be warm.

Why the hell can’t leaders be trained in Hawaii?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

List o' Mania

I had to write a TV related list for a website recently. I'm currently writing another article and don't have time to blog, so I thought I'd post this up here. I know ya'll hate when I blog about TV, but quite frankly TV is just a lot more exciting than my actual life.


The end of year brings not only Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, it also brings The Season of Top Ten Lists. It seems everyone and their friend who watches Access Hollywood has a Top Ten List of Something. Anything. It doesn’t matter, just make a list. Someone will want to read it. As a new contributor to this website I was asked to come up with my very own Top Ten List of TV Shows for 2005. But it turns out I don’t take direction very well.

Instead I decided to come up with a different kind of list, one that is a little more encompassing than merely naming the good shows on TV. Because those of us who live for TV know that there is so much more going on with TV than just the TV shows. There are deals being made, there are technologies being advanced. And most importantly, there are Top Ten lists to read.

So here are my Top Ten Things to Love About TV This Year.

DVR’s - Let us all bow our heads and thank the Lord for blessing us with Tivo. He recognized the pain we’ve all experienced after mistakenly setting our VCR’s to record Telemundo instead of UPN and he sent us DVR’s to ease our suffering. Gone are the days of looking in the TV Guide, searching ridiculously cluttered grids for our favorite shows and stars. Now all we have to do is tell Tivo what and who we like and it does all the thinking for us. It’s so smart sometimes it doesn’t even bother asking us before it records something we should like. Now if only it could do my laundry it would be the only necessary item in my home.

Ensembles - On shows like "ER", "LOST", "Grey’s Anatomy" and "CSI" ensembles share the time and the stories instead of one main character carrying the entire show. I really enjoy this trend. And not only because I have a short attention span and the numerous storylines help keep me interested. I also enjoy how seamlessly these shows have introduced casts that actually look like the real world. If the real world were very attractive, of course. But besides the pretty factor it is refreshing to see how many shows have a multitude of races in their casts. Most refreshing of all is the fact that I barely even notice it. Instead of focusing on race ("She’s Asian, he’s Black. They’re KISSING!") these shows are choosing to spend time on stories and characters. It seems like a simple enough concept, but it wasn’t that long ago that it took "Friends" six years to find someone who wasn’t white in New York.

Sequins! - Please, if you will just for a moment try to imagine the pitch meeting in which an ABC employee came into his boss’ office and said, "So here’s my idea: Let’s put Evander Holyfield in tights and have him do ballroom dancing to a cover version of a mediocre Britney Spears song." Now please imagine how high the executive must have been to actually approve this pitch. And then you will understand that drugs actually do have a place in the workplace. Especially if they result in me getting to see Patrick Swayze come teach someone how to do a dance lift, when the only thing he’s been lifting in the past ten years is his face. Was there anything on TV more horribly wonderful as "Dancing With the Stars"? I think no. It had people being dropped on their heads, strategically placed sequins and of course, "Everything to dance for." The next installment has Jerry Rice, Tatum O’neal and Master P. I smell Emmy Award!

Oprah - Okay, so Oprah isn’t exactly a new addition to our TV screens but this year marks her 20th year on our televisions and I think that is worth noting. Have you seen some of her hairstyles throughout the years? Believe me, those are worth noting. But despite her outrageously big hair in the 90's, Oprah has still managed to build a show that absolutely transcends its medium. Much more than just mindless afternoon entertainment "The Oprah Show" is actually trying to change the world. And if anyone can actually change the world, it might just be Oprah. I wouldn’t bet against her. She loves books, so she got millions of people to read books they would have never picked up otherwise, boosting unknown writers up the best-seller list in the process. She’d had enough of child molesters roaming free, waiting for their next victim, so she offered her viewers $100,000 to turn in the bad guys. And some viewers did. Africa is in shambles, so she is pouring her resources into building a new future for its citizens. Then she interviewed Jennifer Aniston and told us how to buy the perfect bra. Because even Oprah knows that sometimes what we really need is a little mindless afternoon entertainment. And she also knows that the world can’t be changed while wearing an uncomfortable bra.

Cable - Cable is no longer just the place where old episodes of "Supermarket Sweep" go to live for eternity. It is now a breeding ground for new, exciting TV series and movies. Cable stations are not forced to fill an entire lineup of programming and are therefore able to concentrate on one or two quality shows, making sure each one counts. Along the way they are giving cable a credibility just as the major networks seem to be losing theirs. Shows like "Rescue Me", "Nip/Tuck", "Monk", and "The Shield" light up basic cable while "Weeds", "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Rome" entice pay cable audiences. Cable is taking advantage of the leniency that comes from being free from network restrictions and viewers are reaping the benefits. All that AND "Supermarket Sweep"? Man is that exciting stuff.

Tom Cruise’s insanity - This one has more to do with one man’s mental well-being than television, but it sure was fun watching that mental well-being in question as a result of various television appearances. Throughout the summer Cruise seemed to be everywhere on TV, constantly grabbing a shovel and digging an even bigger hole for himself. Sure, it’s a little sad that Tom Cruise was consistently making CNN’s Headline News when there were little things like wars and famine going on, but you have to admit that people losing their minds makes for great TV. So here’s hoping that Tom’s press tour for "Mission Impossible 3" includes at least one couch jump, a proclamation of medical expertise and perhaps even a short wrestling match with Matt Lauer.

Thursday on NBC - Unlike ABC, the drugs that NBC was taking were hurting their primetime lineup. Now I can’t say for sure there were drugs involved, but how else do you explain the presence of "Joey" on the fall lineup while "Scrubs" remained off the schedule until mid-season? Bad drugs are the only logical answer. Because anyone who is sober would tell you that the only people laughing at "Joey" are the computerized laugh track people. Whereas "Scrubs" doesn’t need no stinking laugh track, because it actually has the real thing: Actual laughter coming from actual viewers. But now it seems as though NBC is making an attempt to remove their head from their own rear ends. Starting in January both "The Office" and "My Name is Earl" will move to Thursday night, replacing "Joey" and making Thursday once again safe for those of us who can’t stand to watch others suffer the cruel fate of being contractually obligated to say the least funny lines ever spoken on TV. "The Office" and "My Name is Earl" are not traditional sitcoms but they are consistently, and uniquely, funny. Wouldn’t it be fun if all sitcoms were funny? Ahhh, a girl can dream.

FOX - No network consistently makes as creative of choices in its programming as Fox. Yes, sometimes that creativity leads to such gems as "Stacked" or "Who’s Your Daddy?" but as NBC will be happy to attest to, they can’t all be good. But can you imagine any other network with a lineup that included "Prison Break", "24", "Family Guy", "Arrested Development", "American Idol", "Bernie Mac", "The Simpsons", and "House"? Even if you aren’t a fan of all those shows you have to appreciate the chances FOX takes with its comedies and dramas. "24" was a risky, high-concept show that would have been too outside the box for any other network. Now it is thriving in its fifth season on FOX. And even though it seems inevitable that "Arrested Development" will be cancelled from FOX’s schedule they do have to be given some credit for keeping such an inventive show on the air for three seasons despite the fact that its ratings were anemic at best. In the era of cancelling a show after one episode it is hard to imagine any other network giving "Arrested" three weeks, let alone three years. While other networks struggle to find a comedies that are actually funny and dramas that can hold viewers’ attention from week to week it seems as though FOX is the only network to have a firm grasp on how it’s all done. But they still enjoy throwing an occasional gem like "Skating With the Stars" into the mix, just so the other networks don’t get too intimidated.

News Cameramen - In a year of horrific human tragedies ranging from hurricanes to wars to earthquakes television news cameramen were there to make sure we saw it all. The era of 24 hour news is a bit overwhelming to our fragile senses, but it also means that time restrictions are no longer an excuse for ignoring the realities of the world. Do we really think this was the first year poverty and racial inequality were major issues affecting our country? No, but it was the year we were forced to really look at it as it treaded water on our TV screens. TV news can be exploitive and overly dramatic, but at its best it can also force accountability for events and actions that otherwise might have been swept under the rug.

On Demand - Two of the most beautiful words ever combined for the benefit of the TV viewer. Say it with me, "On Demand". Who needs a TV lineup when you can just select your favorite shows and movies from a menu and play them whenever you like? This year various cable companies and computer programs offered viewers the option of watching what they want, when the wanted it. It was amazing. The new Ipod came with the ability to not only hold a quadrillion songs, but it could also play "Desperate Housewives" if you so desired. Sure, it wasn’t exactly high definition, big screen TV quality, but the concept of being able to access your favorite shows whenever and wherever you wanted was quite exciting to TV fans. We didn’t even know how much we longed to watch "Knight Rider" on a 2 inch screen until Ipod came along. And now we wonder how we ever survived without it.

So there is my list. In no particular order, making no particular sense. Agree? Disagree? Don't care? Probably.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Brawl

I’ve mentioned before that I have a big group of friends from high school. What I didn’t mention was how badass we all are. I will mention that now.

Friday night we all decided to get together for a Christmas party. We’d meet up at one girl’s house, eat and drink, then go to a new club in town. This new club is all the rage here in Sactown, it is THE place to be. It’s line down the block cool. And my group of friends are not only badass (as will be proven later) but also extremely hip and happenin’ (as you will just have to trust me on (no matter what anyone who actually knows us might say)).

Now normally "line down the block cool" results in me "not going within a block, thanks". Cause I don’t know if you’ve picked it up from this blog, but I ain’t cool. I know it, I’ve accepted it, and I’m quite okay with it. Think of all the money I’m saving on shoes alone. But my friends wanted to go to this club and one of them made arrangements so we didn’t have to stand in that very hip line down the block. So in the spirit of Kwanzaa I figured I would go dance to some hip hop music in a trendy club. Jesus would be so proud.

So we go to the club and it’s all "I’m so very cool because I charge you $20 to get in and I have upside down Christmas trees hanging from the ceiling and people pay $5 for my water." And I was all, "I’ve come straight from a family function and I’m wearing a sweater and khakis and I’ve never felt more unhip in my life." I was hoping that perhaps I was so unhip that I was actually hip, you know, that I was too cool to try to be cool? Yeah, I wasn’t buying that either. But I didn’t really care, my outfit did not affect my ability to shake my groove thing to ‘Baby Got Back’ and "In Da Club". In fact, I’m sure those hip shoes would have just increased the odds of me twisting my ankle during the particularly exuberant "Turn around! Stick it out! Even white boys got to shout!"

Following that exuberant turning around and sticking it out I decide to take a break and converse with some friends near the bar. It was at that point that the evening started to look up. Apparently while I was dancing there had been a brief altercation between one of my friends and another girl in the club. Something to do with the fact that the other girl had screwed my friend’s brother out of money. Or something. I didn’t really care. All I cared about was that there was a good possibility that things were about to get way ghetto in this classy club. This filled me with much holiday joy.

My friend seemed to have really upset this random girl. The girl was so upset that she apparently lost the ability to count. She thought it would be a really good idea to try to start a fight with someone who was there with 15 of her closest friends. She came up to us a couple times, tears in her eyes, screaming about who knows what, looking decidedly unhip despite her cool shoes. Each time she was held back by one of our friends while the rest of us prepared to brawl if necessary. Well, by "the rest of us" I mean "the rest of the girls". The guys were just in charge of holding the drinks and the purses as the girls went out to battle. Because, as I mentioned before, we are badasses.

How much do I love this? So much. How much would I have loved to see us all get in a brawl? So so so so much. Now, we’ve all be friends for over a decade and there would be no hesitation if one of us needed defending. But let’s be honest, in that decade we haven’t embarked on a lot of street fights. On Friday our group included two cops, a high school teacher, a veterinarian, a congressman’s aide, and a soon-to-be college professor. We are probably not what many would describe as "intimidating", unless of course you are talking about our mad dance floor skillz. (Our "turning around" and "sticking it out" abilities are the envy of many.) At one point one of my friends said, "I work for the United States government, I can’t be pushing people in clubs!" To which I said, "I’m just a graphic designer, let me do it!"

Could you imagine our white asses trying to get in a bar brawl? Seriously. It would be the most pathetic fight you’ve ever seen. I keep picturing the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz, when he says, "Put ‘em up. Put ‘em up." And he’s bouncing all around in a ready-to-fight pose. That’s what we’d look like. There’d be flailing, there’d by hair-pulling, there be attempts at rational conversation to avoid confrontation. Which is what the United States Government worker did. She calmly placed one hand on the shoulder of the attacker, while keeping her drink balanced in her other hand (because after spending $9 on a drink one must protect it just as much, if not more, than a friend). Then she explained to the crazy girl that this was probably not the time or place to have an altercation, and perhaps if she could calm down, she might be able to realize that herself. At this point I handed my beer to the guy holding the purses and ran to be a part of the rational conversation. My friend continued to calm the girl down and I sporadically threw in a "Yeah!". And then the girl left the club.

Like I said, we are quite badass.

Look, I know it ain’t a P Diddy caliber nightclub altercation. But for a group of white-collar workers it was really the best we could do. Sure, we were all ready to fight if we had to, but we were also equally interested in the upside down Christmas tree. So yes, we might be a little more Martha Stewart than 50 Cent, but don’t try messin’ with us. We’ll rationally discuss you right out of any club, any time.

Bring it.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Fa la la friggin' la

It's two days before Christmas and I finally went to Target to do some shopping. That's the good news. The bad news is that I have decided to add "personal" touches to all my gifts. Which is why I'm still up at 3 a.m. and still not really that much closer to having anything actually wrapped. BUT I do have bags upon bags of crap covering my floor. We won't go into the specifics of how many of those bags are for me and how many are gifts. Because that is not what is important right now. What is important right now is that I need to start scaling down the number of people in my life. Because this whole "personal" gift thing really makes your realize that you should really be "personal" with far fewer people.

I know, I know. I'm just bursting with holiday joy. It's actually quite hard to contain it.

More good news: in a mere four days my light rock stations will once again move regular cheesy ass songs back into rotation - replacing the 20 cheesy ass Christmas songs they have been playing since March sometime. God bless us everyone.

I need to go to bed now, I have to rest up for three solid days of eating that lie before me. A girl needs her energy for such things. It will most likely be after the holiday the next time I blog, so I do wish you all a great Whatever The Hell You Happen To Celebrate. I could write a heartfelt wish of good cheer and comfort and joy to all of you.

But that's not really my style.

So instead, in the spirit of my light rock stations, I will replay this holiday standard for you, cause there is a good possibility that you just recently stopped twitching from watching it the first time.

Feliz ChrisKwanziKah everyone.


Okay, here we go, here is the Holiday song to end all Holiday songs. If you can't hear it, well, consider yourself very very lucky. For additional entertainment I've included the Behind the Scenes outtakes as well (scroll down for that video). They show you a brief glimpse into the genius that is my creative process.

Oh and as always, I recommend pushing play then pushing pause and letting it load all the way before trying to watch it.

And you don't even have to wait for the DVD to see the outtakes.

Here are the words, so you can sing along at home:

I do ChrisKwanzikah, cause I wantika
Get lots of presents for me!
There’s Christmas and Hanukkah
Why not make it three?
So they made up, Merry Kwanzaa
For seven more days of fun
So get closer, gather round now
The fun has just begun!

Ba ba ba ba

But your yamikah on,
It’ll be so much fun
As we gather around the tree
Opening presents wrapped
In red or blue
And sing a little R&B

We’ll deck the hall
And eat Maza balls
And do a soul train in the snow
Three sistas throw a dradle at Claus
Sayin’ “Who you callin’ Ho Ho Ho?”

Ba ba ba ba

I do ChrisKwanzikah, cause I wantika
Hang bagels on my tree!
I love my stockings and my yamika
But it’s all about the bling bling.
So we made up, Merry Kwanzaa
Cause you know how we roll
So come out now, bring the reindeer
To our barmitzvah in the snow!

Ba ba ba ba

Black or Jew, Christian or you
You all have a place on our sleigh
Oprah’s drivin’, Diddy’s rhyming
Santa’s sayin’ “Oy Vey!”

Ba ba ba ba

I do ChrisKwanzikah, cause I wantika
Eat soul food with my lox
Light my menorah, drink my eggnog
And turn up the boombox.
And wish you happy holidays
And peace for you and me.
From your preacher
And your rabbi
And the NAACP!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The &%$@*@# Post Office Part 2

(Part I here)

Must mail 850 Christmas cards for a client today.

As Christmas is in like four minutes.

Only have 400 stamps.

This is going to make it difficult to mail the other 450.

Go to post office four days before Christmas.

Best idea ever.

Walk the three blocks to the post office from my house.

Pouring down rain.

Sideways really.

Get inside.

Am told by security that I can't bring my camera phone inside, must take phone back to car before being allowed into the building.

Tell security in a completely calm, rational manner that I walked here, I can't put it in the car.

Am told that there can simply not be camera phones in the building.

Because, seriously, does the government think that that is going to be the downfall of national security? #%&^$*&@# camera phones? Really.

Put the camera/missile transport device in the hallway.

Am told it can't be in the building.

Put phone outside in the rain.

Which is TOTALLY going to help it's already uneven ringing abilities, I'm sure.

Tell the security guy that I can take my phone into every other post office in the country.

Am told that the building I'm in is a federal building, that is why camera phones are not allowed.

Want to tell the the security man that I'm not surprised that people are plotting to blow up federal buildings with camera phones.

But don't have time for the inevitable body cavity search that that declaration would cause when Bush's eavesdroppers heard me.

Wait for 18 hours to get to the front of the line.

Once there I tell the nice lady that I need 450 stamps.

She asks if I want the new stamp rate that will go into effect in January, or the old stamp rate.

I say the old is fine.

She says they are out of rolls of stamps.

At the post office.

Thank god I didn't have my phone missile with me, or I would have clicked it right then.

Am told that they have quite a few pages of stamps.

You know the "collectors" editions.

The one with dead people and animals on them.


I say that these are for a politician's Christmas card.

"Well, then probably not the Valentine's candy hearts that say I Love You on them."

"Probably not."

"Everyone loves cars, right? How about these?"

"Uh, no."

"How about these former World War II Generals?"

"He's a Democrat. Something about putting war generals on his Christmas cards seems wrong."

"Does he like architecture?"

"Look, I'll just take the jungle theme. Animals are liberal."

"Oh, that's a great choice."

I start counting them out.

She starts ringing them up.

I'm picturing how fired I am for putting an armadillo on my client's Christmas card.

Then I have a thought.

"Do you not have any rolls at all, or just none of the old stamps?"

"Oh, we've got plenty of the new ones."

"Um, you can stop scanning those 40 pages of stamps. Cause I'm going to go with the more expensive stamps. I think my future employment is worth the extra 3 cents a stamp."

"Are you sure? This antelope is quite pretty."

"I think I'm sure."

I wasn't before, but I am now definitely looking for various ways my cell phone can destroy this post office.

From the puddle outside, of course.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

U be gone

So I got a new phone. I talked myself out of getting the $500 PDA, because it just seemed ridiculous. Who do I think I am that I need to pay $50 a month so that I can get e-mails while in the bathroom? That just doesn’t seem sanitary.

So I picked a low-priced phone, got all my numbers transferred over and I thought I was in business. I mean, I didn’t get a phone that I can watch the nightly news on (actual ability of phones), but I thought I had all the bases covered as far as calling and receiving calls, right? Not so much. Cause apparently I didn’t read the fine print of the phone which stated that the phone wasn’t so much meant for RECEIVING calls. Yeah. It doesn’t ring. Well, it rang a couple times, just to let me know that it COULD ring if it wanted to, it was just choosing NOT to. It does periodically let me know that I have messages though, which is a nice feature. It’s kinda like having a personal assistant, cause I never actually have to answer my phone. I heart technology.

And it hearts me as well. Today the “U” button of my laptop decided to pop off. For no apparent reason. Cause that’s what happens around me lately. Popping. Exploding. Destruction. I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if the “F” button popped off with the “U”, cause it’s quite obvious the techno-gods are screwing with me.

And speaking of technology, I really think that the advertisements on the internet have gone too far. Advertisements in any medium have gone too far in my opinion, what with people merrily discussing Viagra and herpes and foot fungus while they engage in various slow motion jogging and celebrations. But somehow on the internet the ads seem a little worse, because they sorta sneak up on you. Sometimes your banner ad has a of french fries, sometimes it’s a picture of your mortgage rate faaaalllling, and sometimes it has the words “vaginal” and “ring”. And it’s at those times that you wonder if this is what Al Gore was intending when he invented the internet.

Today as I was clicking to an e-mail message I caught the words “vaginal ring” out of the corner of my eye. I actually caught it as the page was turning, so I went back, just to make sure I saw that right. I did. While the location of the ring was apparent the purpose of the ring was not. So I pushed on the ad to see what this ring was all about. Oh dear lord. It’s some sort of birth control that I really don’t want to detail right now, but if you are interested you can check it out here: But beware, the thing has music. Cause nothing says birth control like a little upbeat pop ditty. Can you imagine? Cause let’s do all we can to make others aware that you are in search of new birth control. You randomly push on this link at work and all of a sudden your speakers are blaring and people come over to see what it is that you are listening to and what do they find? Vaginal Ring. Nice. That’ll look good on the review.

That was a bit of a tangent, I’m sorry. I’m trying to get out all my thoughts before the rest of my keys fall off the keypad and I’m only able to communicate in morse code. And I didn’t want to have to figure out what the code for “vaginal ring” would be, so I thought I’d go ahead and blog about it now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


In keeping with the theme of December my phone died today. Obviously it was feeling out of place, being one of the few electronic devices I own that was still alive. It is kinda like “Where the Red Fern Grows”, in that my electronic equipment can’t stand to go on when the other things have died. Which I guess I can understand. Today, when the keypad half of my phone was vibrating and the ear/listen part of my phone was in another room I too felt like it wasn’t worth going on.

I had to answer the phone and speak into the speaker, “I can only talk, I can’t hear, call me back at a different number, cause I can’t call you back cause I can’t get to my phone numbers and I of course have none written down anywhere.”

I’m so savvy, it’s ridiculous.

I think it might be time to get the insurance on my phone. This is about the 7th phone I’ve had in my life. They just FLY out of my hand. I think they are factory-rigged to do just that, forcing me to spend more and more money on my inevitable brain tumor. It’s all quite a conspiracy, if you ask me. (And if you want to ask me you’re going to have to send a courier pigeon, as I can’t actually hear out of my phone.)

This phone purchase will be one of many that I’ve made this holiday season. That’s normal right? Except I don’t know if it’s normal to spend as much money as I’ve spent this past month and yet still only have two presents under my tree. (One of those is really just a cool box that someone gave ME and the other is some knitting that I had my mom do for a friend.) Which means that I, ahem, have still yet to do any Christmas shopping. But I have bought myself an exorbitant amount of gifts for no reason other than I know I’m supposed to be spending money around this time of year, and I wouldn't want to let Jesus down. It appears as though I’m just a wee bit misguided on the spirit of the season. Whatever. Plenty of time! I have a feeling a lot of people are going to be getting theoretical Christmas presents from me this year. “Look, here is a picture of what I fully intend on buying you as soon as the stores stop frightening me with their masses of people.”

I’m so savvy, it’s ridiculous.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Good News, Bad News

Bad News:
It's 5 a.m. on Monday and I'm still doing work that I started at noon on Sunday.

Good News:
The Roommate had the wherewithal to order three tubs of cookie dough two months ago, resulting in three tubs of cookie dough in my freezer today. If you were wondering if you can live on only cookie dough, the answer is yes.

Bad News:
I didn’t feel like cooking the cookies.

Good News:
So I just scooped it out of the bucket as if it were ice cream - cutting out the middle man (the oven).

Bad News:
My computer is still screwed. This weekend buttons actually started falling off it.

Good News:
Since I’ve worked for about 18 hours straight today my carpel tunnel has all but gnawed my arm off my body, meaning that even if I had a functioning computer my body is no longer up to factory specs and incapable of doing anything more than sorta knocking the mouse around the top of my desk.

Good News:
I figured out how to turn my fan on in my room and circulate the heat that is coming out of the vent thingy, meaning my extremities are no longer frozen.

Bad News:
I’ve been freezing my ass off for three and a half years when all I had to do was turn a switch on the #^**@# fan.

Good News:
My adorable 10 year-old cousin was in a production of Nutcracker this weekend.

Bad News:
She was only in 3 minutes of the production.

Badder News:
The production lasted an hour and a half.

Good News:
It’s time to go to bed.

Bad News:
There is never anything bad about saying that sentence.

Friday, December 16, 2005

My Tivo is Confused

I think I’ve figured out what is wrong with my Tivo. It seems to be under the impression that I am Black. Maybe it’s because I celebrate Kwanzaa. Who knows. But all I know for sure is that every time I come into the room Tivo is watching an African American show. Good Times, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Jamie Foxx Show, The Cosby Show, Sanford and Sons, Eminem. You know, all the stereotypical “Black” shows.

I was so confused by this. I didn’t know why my Tivo thought I was Black, other than perhaps it had heard my mad rapping skillz and knew I had the flava. As likely as THAT seemed I thought maybe the Tivo was making its assumptions based on something a little more technical. (Not that my rap skillz aren’t technically magnificent as well as lyrically stunning.) Then I realized that I Tivo Oprah everyday. And therefore Tivo thinks I’m Black. And therefore it thinks that I must like any show with a Black person in it. Cause that’s how it works, right?

First of all, how misguided is Tivo to think that an Oprah viewer is just clamoring to watch Fresh Prince of Bel Air? Unless it’s a “Very Special Episode” Oprah viewers are not going to bother pulling themselves away from Lifetime Movie Channel long enough to listen to “In West Philadelphia, born and raised, and a playground where I spent most of my days...”. And isn’t it kinda funny that my Tivo never tapes cheesy Lifetime movies? That the only thing daily Oprah taping sets off in its computer brain is “Likes Black People”. For a machine that can ask my wall what is on TV Tivo seems to be a little behind the times.

“...when a couple of guys, who were up to no good, started making trouble in my neighborhood. I got in one little fight and my mom got scared, said you’re moving with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air.”

Thursday, December 15, 2005


Can I just tell you about the luck I've been having? Not so good. But now it has become obvious that the gods are just being asses.

A few months ago I got a thing in the mail stating that I was part of a class action suit against a restaurant where I used to work. It was some blah blah blah, sign here if you want to be added to the list. I figured why not, so I signed it and never thought of it again. Then the other day my mom called me to tell me that I had gotten my class action settlement in the mail and asked if she could open it. I said yes, so that after she told me how large the check was I could then hang up the phone and promptly quit my job. Why even bother finishing the day, really.

So she ripped open the check to find the enormous sum of $9.50. After taxes of course. I turned the computer back on and went back to work, a little pissed off that my class action settlement was not even enough for a night at the movies. And even more depressing, it was hardly the kind of riveting "fighting against the man" kind of class action suit that could even be made into a movie. Halle Berry would so play me in the tale of how I had to overcome not only my bad computer and class action karma but also carpel tunnel and lack of singing abilities. God it would be gripping.

Anyways, I moved on from my near-retirement and went about my life. THEN I received an e-mail from a friend who also used to work for the Defendent. She was all, "I just got a check in the mail for $400 from some class action suit. All I did was sign my name and a couple months later money came." Bitch. You know, I got her that job. And yet she still didn't even think to kick me back any of her settlement.

She will be played by an evil awful actress in the movie version of our story. Her character will recognize the error of her ways in the third act though, and our friendship, ripped apart by wealth, will be healed when she says, "I know you don't have enough money for popcorn, let me get it for you."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Art of the Christmas Party

Okay, so this is repost. Not only have I posted it on this blog before I actually wrote it back when I was "early 20's poor". It all seems so quaint now. Look, my computer vomited up all of its programs, I think I am justified in slacking on the blog. Finding new assortments of cuss words to spew at my computer leaves very little time for trivial things like blogging.


Christmas is the best time to be a poor person. Not Tiny Tim, one piece of meat to feed a family of ten poor. No, I’m talking about Top Ramen, early 20’s poor. The kind of poor where you think you’re poor but if you were ever faced with being really poor you would go hide in your furnished, heated apartment and call mommy and daddy for some money. That’s the kind of poor that is great around the holidays.

December is the month of holiday spirit, holiday joy and most importantly, holiday parties. Just like Sally Struthers, holiday parties exist to feed people. Unlike Sally they also are very good at intoxicating people. This makes for much more entertaining pictures than the ones Sally likes to show.

Holiday parties are not to be taken lightly. If planned correctly one never has to see a Top Ramen noodle for the entire month of December. In order to maximize your holiday party enjoyment, while minimizing your own financial burden, buy only one holiday party outfit. Make sure it is festive, but not too festive. Because you want it to be transferable to any holiday party, whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. So stay away from a Santa sweatshirt or manorah earrings.

Also, make sure the outfit makes you look good, but not too good. You want to be able to walk into any party and have the guests want you to be there simply because you look damn good, not necessarily because they know who the hell you are. But if you look too attractive then the guests will be watching you all night and they may ask why you are filling up your purse with chicken wings.

The last and most important requirement for a successful holiday outfit is that it is dark and machine washable. If it is dark enough you might not even have to get to the machine washable step. But the fact is that free booze plus free food equals stains on your chest if you are a girl or on your gut if you are a guy. I mean it really isn’t a good party unless you get bumped while you are trying to shovel chicken salad into your mouth and hold your wine glass between two fingers and do the Chicken Dance all at the same time.

Now that you are dressed it is important to remember that holiday parties, especially the really good ones with mile long buffets, are much like that game "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon". Instead they are called the "Six Degrees of Whoever is Actually Invited to the Holiday Party". Don’t feel as though you have to know, work with or even care about the person hosting the party in order to enjoy the free food and alcohol they are providing. If your friend calls you and says that she heard from another friend that a bunch of people are meeting at another friend’s work party, then by all means, put on your Holiday Party Outfit and put away the Top Ramen.

Also, don’t let the fact that you no longer work there stop you from going to your old office’s holiday party. The odds are that half the people won’t even know that you aren’t their co-worker anymore and the other half will just assume someone invited you. (Note: This plan doesn’t work quite as well if you (a) were fired amidst a sex scandal involving the boss, his secretary and a midget, (b) you "were asked to leave" because "the office is no place for drug trafficking" or (c) you quit and yelled, "I wouldn’t come back here if my head was on fire and you had the only gallon of water left in the world!")

The final rule of successful holiday partying is to have fun and be fun. This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many people do not follow this rule. A lot of people stand in the corner all night, afraid to talk to anyone or do anything, for fear of somehow making an ass out of themselves. It is better to just accept the fact that you will inevitably make an ass out of yourself at some point during the party. I mean, it’s the holidays, you are getting free booze and you are wearing new shoes. You are going to do something stupid, accept it and go have some fun. If people are doing the chicken dance, cluck along with them. If they are singing horrifically off-key kereoke, wail along with them. And if they are taking off their clothes, well, cheer them on.

And if you are being especially fun don’t hesitate to put a nametag on your shirt. Below your name write your telephone number and address. This way you will be acting as your own spokesperson. "Look at me, I’m a good time at holiday parties." Who knows, maybe a few of the guests will invite you to their own holiday party next year. Do this at every party every year and, much like the pyramid scheme, someday you will not know a party-free day in the month of December.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Oy Vey

Things are not going well in the Computer Department of Dawn Inc. right now. We are having many a technical difficulty. For some reason unknown to anyone but the Mystery Computer Virus almost every single program on my computer has been deleted. Word. Excel. Photoshop. Illustrator. InDesign. Dreamweaver. Final Draft. Spider Solitaire. And many more. Adios. No mas. Oy vey.

So then.

I'm told I have to get ALL my files off of my computer so that I can then put in some magical CD that will destroy the computer and rebuild it to how it was when it came out of the box. Only when it came out of the box it had like three little tiny desktop icons and the same amount of programs. Seeing as though I spend about 95% of my time on my computer you may not be surprised that my desktop is now COVERED with links to programs. Useless links now, but links nonetheless. So I have to reinstall EVERY SINGLE program I had on my computer. Which would be fine and dandy if I actually had all of the installation discs. I do not. I will not go into detail about why I don't have all the installation discs, but let's just say that they weren't all mine to keep.

Thankfully I have a laptop that has a good deal of "my" programs on it, so I can use it until I'm able to piece together my old computer. What I didn't have on the laptop was DSL. I also didn't have the installation disc from my DSL. (cause why save one of the few discs that is rightfully mine, really?) So I had to try to download the info from the internet so that I could then transfer it over to my laptop and be a functioning member of society with full use of the internet. And iTunes.

But I had to do all this at about 11 o'clock in the evening. Which, as it turns out, is about some o'clock in the workday for people in Bangladesh, or wherever the hell the helpline people are. Okay, now really, I'm all about We Are The World, everyone is equal and all that crap. But can we please get NATO to agree that in order to man helplines you HAVE TO SPEAK COMPREHENSIBLE ENGLISH? Please. I'm begging you. I don't know if I can face years and years of poor English combined with my poor hearing to create the Lifetime of No Real Help Ever Received.

I was thinking of trying to write a dialog of my conversation with the Worst English Speaker Ever, but I don't even know how I would do it, cause all I heard for 85% of the time are words and sounds that were completely untranslatable into the written word. My e-mail address is throwing_starfish. It took 25 minutes to get that across to her. I was put on hold twice. Because chrowing_tarfish seemed logical enough to her, didn't send up any red flags that that may be a misspelling, and she just couldn't figure out why on earth she couldn't find my account. And we don't even want to go into what happened when she tried to spell things for my deaf ass. It's not good when you swear someone is saying, "V as is in Hotel, S as in Teesidnfal." If I had an audio recording of our conversation it would easily become the bestselling CD of all time. I really didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Later in the evening crying seemed to be the only option when it appeared as though I was going to have to make another call to Botswana tonight. My laptop just wasn't working and I was just about to throw myself out the window. But it's cold outside and with my luck I'd somehow land on my car and then have to figure out how to get it fixed too, so I decided to just make another call. This time a beautiful human being from the Philippines answered my call. She spoke better English than I did. There was no spelling, only joy and help and connected internets. I told her I loved her. Again, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

So I just decided to blog.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Holiday Cheer

(I'd like to preface this entry by saying that my computer is officially pissed off at me and therefore decided to deny me use to any of my programs, including Microsoft Word and it's wonderful Spell Check Function. If you don't recognize a word, just sound it out, that's probably how I ended up spelling it.)

I am very happy that all of you enjoyed my touching and heartfelt ChrisKwanziKah song. I'm sure there were a lot of tears as I touched on quite a few moving subject matters (example: Bling Bling and matzo balls). And now I'd like to give you a glimpse into what has to happen in order to put together brilliance like the ChrisKwanziKah song.

1) YOU MUST TRY TO FIND A MENORAH. Uh, yeah, so I went to 4 stores and couldn't find a menorah anywhere. I went to Kohls and asked the nice cashier if they had any menorahs. She said, "Ummm, refresh my memory on what a menorah is?". After I refreshed her memory she remembered they didn't have any. Then I went to the supermarket and asked the Grocery Guy if they had any menorahs. And HE said, "Ummmm, remind me what a menorah is?" He then he took me to the Jewish section of the store, with matzo balls and other really unattractive food, but not a menorah in sight. Then I went to Michael's, which is a craft store, full of all things holiday and crafty and over-the-top festive. So full, in fact, that there was no room for any menorahs. But if you needed 3654 gingerbread houses they could hook you up. Then I went over to Ross, thinking that their random assortment of home knick knacks might include a lonely menorah. Uh, no. But they did have a glass high heel full of spices. Classy. So then, I was forced to cut a menorah out of tacky cardboard. Which is really too bad, cause the rest of the song was so un-tacky.

2) YOU MUST BE THE WORST ROOMMATE EVER. I was a bit worried when I got home at 9:30 and The Roommate was already sleeping. I knew that the ChrisKwanziKah song was a lot of things, but conducive to a peaceful slumber was not one of them. My only hope was that perhaps she was very ill and had been sleeping for so long that she was now in a deep REM sleep that even 254 BA! BA! BA! BA!'s wouldn't disturb. I was wrong. She text messaged me the next day, "Were you rapping downstairs last night? Were you drunk?" When I wrote back that I was singing a song she said, "No Holiday Spirit MY ASS." Then I showed her the video and she pointed to the screen, "That's what I kept hearing, the BA! BA! BA! BA! I couldn't figure out if I was dreaming or if you were really screaming downstairs." "Um, I call it "singing", not "screaming"."

3) YOU HAVE TO FIND SOMEONE TO SING WITH YOU. Everyone keeps asking me, "Who is that poor guy you got to sing with you?" and then, "Are you dating him?" and then, "Is he gay?". The answers are: A friend who has no shame. No. No, but he's not afraid to do an occasional high kick. I knew that I needed a singing partner to tackle the tremendous vocal challenge that is ChrisKwanziKah, and Rafeal seemed like a great fit. When he said, "I have the perfect shirt for you, it's a Raiders jersey circa AC Slater," I knew I had met a perfect ChrisKwanziKah contributor. I told him he needed to find a cheesy Dr. Huxtable-type of sweater and he came through like a champ. And also, unlike me, he'd never sung the song before he arrived for the big taping, hence the 40 minutes of outtakes I have. Yesterday he called me and said, "We should do a song for EVERY holiday."

Please brace yourself for the President's Day Song, coming soon to a blog near you.

Friday, December 09, 2005


Okay, here we go, here is the Holiday song to end all Holiday songs. If you can't hear it, well, consider yourself very very lucky. For additional entertainment I've included the Behind the Scenes outtakes as well (scroll down for that video). They show you a brief glimpse into the genius that is my creative process.

Oh and as always, I recommend pushing play then pushing pause and letting it load all the way before trying to watch it.

And you don't even have to wait for the DVD to see the outtakes.

Here are the words, so you can sing along at home:

I do ChrisKwanzikah, cause I wantika
Get lots of presents for me!
There’s Christmas and Hanukkah
Why not make it three?
So they made up, Merry Kwanzaa
For seven more days of fun
So get closer, gather round now
The fun has just begun!

Ba ba ba ba

But your yamikah on,
It’ll be so much fun
As we gather around the tree
Opening presents wrapped
In red or blue
And sing a little R&B

We’ll deck the hall
And eat Maza balls
And do a soul train in the snow
Three sistas throw a dradle at Claus
Sayin’ “Who you callin’ Ho Ho Ho?”

Ba ba ba ba

I do ChrisKwanzikah, cause I wantika
Hang bagels on my tree!
I love my stockings and my yamika
But it’s all about the bling bling.
So we made up, Merry Kwanzaa
Cause you know how we roll
So come out now, bring the reindeer
To our barmitzvah in the snow!

Ba ba ba ba

Black or Jew, Christian or you
You all have a place on our sleigh
Oprah’s drivin’, Diddy’s rhyming
Santa’s sayin’ “Oy Vey!”

Ba ba ba ba

I do ChrisKwanzikah, cause I wantika
Eat soul food with my lox
Light my menorah, drink my eggnog
And turn up the boombox.
And wish you happy holidays
And peace for you and me.
From your preacher
And your rabbi
And the NAACP!

Thursday, December 08, 2005


There are less than 20 days till Christmas. And I haven’t started my shopping. I made a list of names though. And to be honest that is a considerable headstart in comparison to my usual holiday shopping habits. You see, I don’t like shopping. If it weren’t for the food court I would find malls completely pointless. The only stores I really enjoy are the ones with flat screen TVs and rows upon rows of disc-shaped things that I simply must own, but then never actually listen to or watch. I just take comfort in purchasing them and knowing that if I needed to I could watch Reservoir Dogs and Steel Magnolias (quite a double feature).

But you can’t do your Christmas shopping at Best Buy, it just doesn’t work. First of all buying people disc-shaped things is way too impersonal for me and second of all the odds are I’d just keep all the disc-shaped things and then be back at square one on the whole shopping thing. But on the up-side I’d have plenty of new DVD’s to watch while I thought hard about what to get people for Christmas.

On the other end of the shopping spectrum exists people like my friend Jodi. Let me give you a little back story on Jodi. I’ve known her since the second grade and since then we have been pretty much polar opposites. We’re like day and night. She’s day, I’m night. She shops, so I don’t have to. She has what could be classified as a serious shopping problem. As her very good friend what do I have to say about this problem? I say she is doing her part to help our economy. And maybe, just maybe, I might get a little something out of it too. See, Jodi loves to shop, but feels guilty shopping when her closets are already full. So instead of stopping the shopping, she instead chooses to empty the closets. She’s a problem solver, this girl.

Then I receive bags upon bags of clothes that she has worn a few times at the most. Occasionally I’ll get things that still have the tags on them, “It just never spoke to me after I got it home from the store.” One time I casually mentioned over dinner that I needed to go get some new t-shirts and the next time I saw Jodi she was holding a huge bag of t-shirts. She’s like Oprah Winfrey with the whole Wildest Dream thing. My Wildest Dream is to never have to step foot inside another dressing room as long as I live. Oh, and to own a flat screen TV the size of my entire wall. I mean, if we’re getting wild about it.

At least 70% of the time I talk to Jodi she is in some sort of retail location. If she’s got extra time in her day she’ll spend it at a store, sometimes just looking around to see what’s going on in there since her last visit. Me? I can’t remember the last time I’ve actually been inside a store. And I doubt that everyone on my Christmas list will fit into Jodi’s clothes. So I imagine I should venture out into the abyss soon. Of course there’s always the internet. But given the fact that 90% of my shopping is done on December 22, (the other 10% will look lovely in one of Jodi’s t-shirts) I don’t think the internet will work out. I’m thinking I might start bending on the whole “impersonal gift” thing. I mean, who doesn’t love Steel Magnolias and Reservoir Dogs? If a Julia Roberts dying and a dude getting his ear cut off don’t scream Christmas, I just don’t know what has happened to the holiday.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


You know what’s fun? Insulation. At least that’s what I assume. I wouldn’t know from personal experience. Because personally, I live in the only house in America with no insulation. At least that is the only explanation I can come up with for how friggin’ cold it is in my house. As we speak (or blog) I have a space heater sitting on my desk, a mere foot from my face. And I’m still cold. Now, before all you people chime in on how California has been called a lot of things, but cold isn’t one of them, let me cut you off by saying that you are morons for living in places where you have to unbury your car from snow every morning. But your illogical choice of residence has nothing to do with how friggin’ cold it is in my house. And just so you know it’s not all sunshine and poppies here in California. It rained once last week. I barely pulled through. Feel free to donate to our local American Red Cross, they are helping us through this difficult time. Perhaps they will assist me in paying the parking ticket I got when I decided to park at a 30 minute meter for 4 hours and then decided it was way too wet to go put more quarters in.

Yet I digress. I’m sorry, the cold is inhibiting my ability to formulate intelligent thoughts. So I’ll just go back to bitching about how cold it is in my house. I’m not exactly sure why it’s so cold in here. We have a heater. Every room has a little thing in the ceiling that theoretically should distribute the heat. But they do not. There is only one distributor that actually functions, and that one is in the upstairs bathroom. Which is wonderful when you get out of the shower, but after those 2 minutes it kinda loses its wonder.

Last year we spent the better part of the winter season baffled over how it was that our heater was on, air was coming out and yet our hands and toes were still numb. We thought maybe it was because the house is so big (our ceilings are crazy high) and maybe the heat just can’t fill the whole house. But then we wondered why we were being punished for having high ceilings and wondered if other people with high ceilings couldn’t feel their toes either. Then one day my roommate’s high heel somehow cracked through a hole in our hardwood floors downstairs. And there was nothing below the hardwood floors, just air. Our house sits up off the ground and for some reason the only thing between us and the unknown darkness below is one layer of hardwood floors. Does that seem right? Shouldn’t there be some sort of something that keeps the cold air from coming up through our floors? And let’s not even get started on the random wildlife that could start making their way into our home. Actually, nevermind, no wildlife in their right mind would want to stay in this cold house.

The best, bestest part of our tale of advanced frostbite was that, despite the fact that we had to dress in four layers of clothes inside our home, we still got an electricity bill that was nearly $200. Yeah. That was fun. And that was also about the time we invested in space heaters and gave up on the hope of heat coming from our ceilings.

Now this year we have run into another problem. Well, I don’t think it’s a problem, but the The Roommate seems to have concerns.

“Dawn! When I got up this morning I could see that your room was glowing.”
“And that means that you had your space heater on while you were sleeping.”
“That’s not safe!”
“How is that not safe?”
“It could have an electrical short and burn up the whole house.”
“And none of the other 45 things I have plugged in in my room could have an electrical short and burn up the whole house?”
“None of the other things in your room exist solely to produce heat. That’s what heaters do. Make things hot. And when things get hot they burn.”
“Well, that’s just silly. Why hasn’t it burned up the whole house all the times I’ve run it for hours next to me while I was awake?”
“If you are awake you’d see it catch on fire and be able to put it out. But if you’re asleep you can’t see it and especially you, because you have such bad hearing, it’s not safe when you sleep.”
“What does my hearing have to do with detecting fire?”
“You couldn’t hear it as it whipped and crackled.”
“Whipping and crackling are like the least effective ways to identify fire.”
“Didn’t you hear about the TV anchor who just burned up in his house?”
“What station?”
“In San Francisco.”
“Uh, I don’t live in San Francisco, so no I haven’t heard of him.”
“Every day, I’m serious, every single day I hear about a house fire where everyone burns up.”
“You need to listen to a different radio station.”
“I’m serious.”
“You’re seriously misinformed if you think that all those people burned up because of space heaters.”
“Haven’t you heard of the lady who died because her electrical blanket caught on fire?”
“I’m not so much sleeping with the space heater on top of me.”
“You aren’t going to listen to me are you?”
“No. But I’ll be sure to text message you if the house catches on fire.”
“Well, my batteries are still out in my smoke alarm, so I’m gonna need all the warning I can get.”
“And I couldn’t hear my alarm if it went off, so I think we’re pretty much screwed.”
“You suck.”
“Yes, but at least I can feel my toes.”

Monday, December 05, 2005

Weekend of Trees

I really think ya’ll have the wrong impression of me. Just because I am not a fan of starting the Christmas season sometime before Labor Day does not mean that I am a Scrooge. I enjoy the holidays as much as the next person. (Because both me and the next person know that Scrooges don’t get nearly as many presents as jolly people.) I enjoy spending time with my friends and family during the holidays and I appreciate that it is a time for people to reconnect and share gifts and jingle the occasional bell. But I really don’t see what 24 hours a day of the same 5 Christmas songs on my light rock station have to do with my reconnecting with the people I love. Or with me getting presents. If you could convince me that hearing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” sung by 4 different singers will increase my gift procurement I might be more open to the repeated sounds of the season.

This weekend I was forced to allow the Christmas spirit into my home via a large pine tree and many a twinkly light. My roommate and I decorated the house amidst the sounds of the 24-hour Christmas station and me repeatedly saying, “Seriously, I don’t like eggnog, I don’t know why you are insisting that I drink it.” But I gotta admit, the house looks adorable. I gotta admit it because my roommate repeatedly threatened to tell the blogworld about my secret love for the holidays. I had found my antlers from last year, was wearing Christmas socks that my cousin gave me and was even belting out the occasional carol. The Roommate said, “See! I KNEW you secretly liked the holidays! It must be the color of your hair.” (This was in response to my proclaiming her blond and as a result generally more inclined to be positive about all things, including the holidays.)

We did hit one minor snag when decorating the house. We needed a hammer to assist in hanging lights in the window. Last year we had two hammers for this process. This year we could find none. I got out my tool box which had an obscene number of nails, but no hammer. The Roommate looked through all of her stuff – no hammer. I did manage to find a socket wrench though and it became our rather ghetto excuse for a hammer. Then, about halfway through the hanging process, as The Roommate balanced between a table and the window sill she screamed, “Oh!” I immediately grabbed her legs, thinking that she was falling. When no falling happened I looked up to see what she was Oh-ing about and there, sitting on the window sill – the hammer. Still sitting there from when we hung the lights last year. We don’t do a lot of home maintenance throughout the year, as it turns out.

The second part of my Weekend O’ Christmas Trees came on Sunday when I went to an annual local show called The Singing Christmas Tree. Do you guys have anything like this show where you live? It’s basically a big-ass tree-looking thing with a bunch of singers sitting in it. They sing all the big songs of the season while dancers and cute kids perform. It’s all very festive. It takes place at a big church in town and I’m pretty sure that every member of the church gets to be in the show. At one point a line of people came in from the back of the theater, walked down the aisle, walked across the stage, walked off the stage, back up the other aisle and exited out the back of the theater. This line continued for the course of an entire song. We had kids dressed like snowflakes and cupcakes and candy canes and letters to Santa and angels and wisemen and camels. All onstage for approximately 3.2 seconds each. “Keep the adorable moving! We got baby Jesus waiting in the wings to save our souls!”

Then for the next song every teenager from Northern California came out onstage and performed a hip hop Christmas song. I found this all quite amusing. There must have been five rows of at least 25 kids each. Out of all those kids there were about 3 black kids. Those three black kids were in the front row, with the few white kids who had any hope of rhythm. The rest of the kids were kinda hidden in the back, only allowed to clap and sway a little.

So, let’s recap shall we? This weekend I wore antlers, drank eggnog and watched an overweight bald man do a ballet-like dance to I’ll Be Home For Christmas in front of a huge ass Christmas tree that had people instead of ornaments. If anyone calls me a Scrooge again I’m going to hit them with my rediscovered hammer.

My Kind of Holiday Party

I just designed an invite for a Drag Queen Bingo Holiday Party.

And I put the words "Come have a ball!!" on the invite.

The holidays are starting to look up.

Friday, December 02, 2005

It’s Only December 1st

I don’t know if I can make it until Christmas without hurting someone. It’s only December 1st and I’ve already had several homicidal urges towards merry people. As you can see, my Zen state that came as a result of bettering myself and the world has started to fade away. Excessive exposure to Christmas carols will kick the crap out of a Zen state.

Last night my roommate and I went to eat dinner and could not find a parking spot anywhere near our restaurant. Why? Because the auditorium across the street was having a HUGE event. It was a holiday SPECTACULAR! It was called “An Evening in December”. Last night was November 30th. Because why wait until December for a holiday event, really? Are 25 days enough time to fit in all of our holiday joy? Apparently not.

Then tonight I met friends at Starbucks. As I entered I noticed a small tent had been set up outside where the outside tables usually sit. I figured the tent was merely a way to keep people warm and not lose that extra seating. Once inside I ordered my small (not Tall, because I absolutely refuse to succumb to their need to reinvent the words “small”, “medium” and “large”) hot chocolate (I don’t do coffee, I do Mountain Dew) and a blueberry thingy. The very festive guy behind the counter said my total was $1.95. I said, that can’t be right, I got a hot chocolate too. He said, “All tall drinks are free tonight, because we are having a Holiday Party.” To which I replied, “Well, then I’ll take 12 hot chocolates.” “Well, you can only have one. But,” he adjusted the pointy santa hat that was sticky off the side of his head, “we have carolers. And we have crafts. And snow.” And then he proceeded to go join the group of sorority girls for a rather expansive selection of Christmas carols. I peeked outside and noticed that my warming tent was actually full of snow and (this is California) people merely standing on it as well as taking pictures of it with their camera phones (it was 70 degrees here last week, we don’t see a lot of snow). After I found a seat amongst the party-goers I was quickly offered a free bag of holiday coffee and a holiday cookie by a woman dressed like an elf. The rest of the seating was taken up by the carolers, people making handmade Christmas cards, and, I kid you friggin’ not, some sort of Jewish bible study group. Do Jewish people study the bible? Hell if I know. But they were all talking very seriously about various religious Jewish things. From what I could hear between “Had a very shiny nose!”

People. It’s only December 1st today. And I’ve already been to a Christmas party with carolers, snow, elves and Martha Stewart-caliber crafts. I imagine the rest of the month is just going to be downhill from here. But then again, I’m planning on going to Taco Bell tomorrow, who knows what kind of extravaganza awaits my merry heart there…