Monday, November 14, 2005

Rules of the Suburbs

There are many rules for living in the suburbs. I've been driving artificially slow waiting for the proverbial ball to roll into the street. We've been placing the trash cans far enough from the mailbox so our mailman can pull right up and deliver the mail without having to exit his truck. I've even bought some things from the neighborhood kids. A few weeks ago, I was guilted into purchasing Christmas cards from our neighbor boy. Fred and I won't even be here in December and we generally don't send greeting cards. Even if we did, the card selection was far too cheery. (I went with: "Seasons Greeting, Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful Holiday and a very happy New Year.") I was afraid that if I didn't buy them our house would be over-looked by the Neighborhood Watch. I'm much more vulnerable here than I was in San Francisco. In the Creek, my desk is right in front of the window. By the time the little pushers are on the porch, it's too late. I've been detected. In San Francisco, I was on the second floor with a gate and a buzzer. Although there were no kids, the political activists that came knocking had no idea I was peering out my window at them. I could even scream out my window at car alarms or partiers and no one knew who was yelling. I kind of miss that anonimity. It's another life here in the suburbs. I already feel like a foreigner and I haven't even left the country yet.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Somebody Stop Me!

I made a delightful, yet dangerous, discovery this week. The Martini. Yes, I know many of you, my mom and Fred included, live and die by them. However, I had never found the right mix for my palate. Too little Vermouth and you might as well be doing a shot of vodka. Too much Vermouth and it tastes too much like sake. Too much olive juice and it's like drinking a condiment. The bartender at the appropriately named "Mecca" in San Francisco has perfected the Martini, in my amateur opinion. The perfect mix of premium vodka, Vermouth, and olive juice served up in a chilled martini glass. The glass was even perfect. The restaurant's name was etched into the side of it and there was a small crystal affixed just above the second "c" -- at first I thought it was a chunk of dirt and tried to chip it off with my nail. Don't make the same mistake. Oh, and the olives aren't pitted. Another pitfall that resulted in an embarrassing drooling incident. Mecca is located one block from our old apartment on Market Street near the Castro. It's a good thing I never knew about their Martini while living in the city. While it's worth making the trek to this holy land from Walnut Creek, Paris would be a stretch. Visit Mecca at:

Monday, November 07, 2005

I wish I was blind (and deaf)!

Jamie Foxx is killing me. And it's not because he's friends with Tom Cruise. The other day, I was watching the video "Gold Digger" by Kanye West, featuring Jamie Foxx on MTV (I know, I'm too old). I suffered a post-traumatic stress flashback. Instantly, I was transported back to August 28, 2005, the evening of the Video Music Awards (I know. I'm too old for that too!). I recalled the live performance of the song. Jamie Foxx had learned two lines, which he screamed over and over and over again, jumping up and down on stage with his shirt completely unbuttoned. Jamie, you're not a good singer, which is why you didn't actually sing in Ray. You are an Oscar winning actor. Now you're a back-up singer for Kanye West? Ray's Pepsi girls were better than you. Really, what's wrong with you? You are teetering on the edge. I understand that you probably filmed Stealth before you were a celebrated Oscar winner - so I'll give you a pass. However, by the time August 2005 was upon us, you knew what you were doing. Even Eddie Murphy knew enough to make Rick James his back-up singer. Let me remind you of Jamie's Oscar speech where he said: "Because Oprah got -- allowed me to meet somebody by the name of Sidney Poitier. And, yes, Sidney Poitier said, 'I saw you once. And I looked in your eyes and there was a connection.' And he says, 'I give to you responsibility.' So, I'm taking that responsibility tonight. And, thank you, Sidney." This is what he does with the responsibility bestowed upon him by Sidney Poitier?

Friday, November 04, 2005

Clean-up! Aisle 6.

Yesterday, I went to Walgreens to pick-up some pictures that had been developed and to buy a space heater (which was really annoying because I sold one at our garage sale 2 months ago for $2). I started at the photo counter. I could tell that the photo rep was having difficulty locating my prints. I told her that I would go get my heater and be back in a moment. She directed me to Aisle 6. I scanned the aisle, but did not see any heaters. Finally, I looked up. And there they were. Several varieties stocked three high one on top of another. I briefly searched for sales personnel to assist me, but decided to take matters into my own hands. I could reach the first layer of heaters just fine. It was the two others stacked on top that posed a problem. My plan was to remove the top two heaters by gently sliding the heater on the second layer out from the shelf, while balancing the third heater a top the second. I would then gingerly lower the heaters, setting both down on the ground. The closest heater would then be free. My plan went terribly wrong. I was nearly decapitated. Somewhere in the midst of my balancing act, the top heater began to fall. I tried to get under it like I'd seen at the circus. I don't remember much after this, except for the heaters toppling down on my head. In shock, I scurried to pick up the fallen heaters (but not before I grabbed the heater that was the original object of my desire from the shelf and set it aside). As I made my way back to the photo counter, I took a pit-stop at Aisle 1, the Cottage Cheese and pre-wrapped sandwiches aisle. I tried to catch a glimpse of myself in the stainless steel of the refrigerator to determine the extent of my injuries. Unfortunately, I couldn't see much. I soldiered on to the photo counter in a daze. The photo pro was looking at me differently. I was scared to ask. I retreated to my car where I immediately pulled down the visor mirror. I was shocked to see a 1.5 inch scratch on my neck, irritated and bleeding. I also noticed a bump forming over my right eyebrow the size of a large pimple. The following morning, I realized my arm was bruised. At first I thought I should introduce more iron into my diet, but then I remembered (I may have had a slight case of amnesia) that I had been pummeled by boxes the day before. That morning, my new coworker arrived at my home office to continue her training session. She asked if Bilbo had scratched my neck. My initial instinct was to say "yes" to avoid sharing the embarrassing details. However, I realized I couldn't tarnish Bilbo's reputation so I said, "No. Fred did it." The problem I have now is that I think the wound is infected. I want to go to Walgreens to pick-up some Neosporin. However, I'm certain the manager has watched the surveillance video by now and I'll be captured and forced to purchase the offending heaters. And having accused Fred of spousal abuse, I can't ask him to go. Maybe a neighbor has an Aloe Vera plant.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gardener Convention, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Daily

I used to curse the fire engines as they would race past my apartment with their sirens blaring. I used to curse the drunks as they would stumble past my window yelling at 2:05 a.m. on Saturday mornings. I used to curse the homeless man that would rummage through my recycling bin clanging bottles at dawn on the Thursday before trash pickup. I would gladly trade all of those inconveniences now if the incessant noise from the leaf blower across the street would stop. Living in suburbia has its advantages: warm days, mild nights, a washer and dryer in your house. But, the manicured lawns may be the death of me. Gardeners roll in and out of my neighborhood, trucks loaded with menacing motorized tools. Truck after truck after truck after truck. As I write this, the gardener across the street has been blowing the same leaves all over the yard for 113 minutes. I'm not lying. And when he's done, my next-door neighbor's gardner will roll up and begin mowing. And when he's done, it's my gardner's turn. It never ends.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Get Your Hot Fresh Cornbread . . .

I'm beginning to think that Fred isn't who he says he is. Last night, he went to the grocery store to pick up some things for our dinner, steak and corn-on-the-cob. As he walked out the door, I suggested that he grab a baguette as well. He looked at me perplexed and said, "Bread doesn't go with corn". I thought I misheard him. He repeated himself. Then I looked perplexed. I told him that was the weirdest thing that I had ever heard (which he challenged, of course, and he was right. The weirdest thing I've ever heard had to do with a German cannibal who advertised for volunteers over the internet and received several). His assertion was weird nonetheless. It wasn't like I was going to slice the baguette open and use it as a hot dog bun for the corn cob. In fact, the baguette was for him more than me. It still doesn't make sense to me. Have you ever heard of a Frenchman turning down a baguette? We briefly revisited the issue again this morning. He explained that they didn't go together because they are both "carbs" (I guess that comment in his blog entry wasn't a joke!). I figured corn was a "vegetable" and bread was a "bread" on the food pyramid. And, I swear, I have seen him eat Corn Flakes before. Anyway, to prove my point, I've decided to take him to Tennessee on April 29-30th to celebrate at the "National Cornbread Festival" for next year's vacation (

You Can Take the Girl Out of FTT ...

Fred and I spent the weekend in Orange County. Much of the trip was spent walking down memory lane with a tour of downtown Fullerton and a visit to my high school. We rushed back on Monday to be home in time for the trick-or-treaters. They don't do it in France and I thought it would be fun for Fred. Plus, it had been years since I had handed out candy (yes, there were those occasional times in my van, but the kids weren't in costume so it just wasn't the same).

I forgot how stressful Halloween can be. As the trick-or-treating hour approached, I started feeling self-conscious about my candy selection. I don't know what came over me; it wasn't as if I were handing out Abba Zabbas. I had purchased bags of jumbo Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, and Tootsie Roll "Midgees" (yes, Paula, I was delightfully shocked by the name). Kit Kats were a solid choice, but there ended up being only a dozen or so in the bag. I thought I had done well with the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups too, but as I gobbled them up, I realized that perfect mix of salt and chocolate could only really be appreciated by a PMSing adult.

As the parade of princesses and vampires jammed their greedy little hands into our candy bowl, I noticed we were getting dangerously low on treats. I thought about offering tricks, but Fred stopped me. Instead, he ran down to Safeway and grabbed 6 more bags. The problem is that Safeway had run out of Halloween candy too. They were only stocking Christmas varieties. Now, not only was our candy Christmas-themed (they were wrapped in red and green foils decorated with snowflakes), the pieces were miniscule -- little Miniature Reese's Cups and itty bitty Milky Way Caramels.

The night was finally winding up. We still had some candy left and no parents had accused us of trying to poison their kids. I sat there riding my sugar high, satisfied with the night's events. Just then, the bell rang. I opened it to a group of high school teenagers. They were all very cute and polite except for one girl who looked to be about 15. She peered into the bowl, looked up in disgust and said "Uh, like isn't that Christmas candy?" I explained that we had run out and that was all that was available at Safeway. I told her that it tasted the same and probably was much fresher. She said "Really?" in a bitchy tone with an Alicia Silverstone Clueless expression. I told her that she could give back the candy if she didn't want it, plus it would probably ruin her braces (which is much nicer than what I was thinking -- let's just put it this way, I should have put a free gym pass in her pillowcase instead of a Milky Way). I'm sure our house will be toilet-papered tomorrow, but it was well worth it. She was a real brat. I have to admit that I was a little ashamed (especially after Fred reminded me that she was just a kid). I felt so immature. I thought I had made so much progress over the past several years. I guess 48 hours in Fullerton Toker Town can really bring you back to your roots.