Friday, May 30, 2008

Not beach weather

I spent roughly half of my life in Florida. In high school, if I wanted to, I could roll out of bed and, provided one of my parents would loan me a car, be at the beach in 25 minutes. And I'd know what the weather would be like: Sunny and warm in the winter, cloudy and hot in the summer, with an afternoon thunderstorm.

California's weird. I thought that at least the SoCal/beachy parts of this vacation would be sunny and warm. But it's been cold. Really cold. In fact, while walking down to the beach in Carmel today, I had to wear a sweatshirt AND a jacket.

Here's a video from the beach.

Santa Barbara Wine Country

We left L.A. today, heading north, first to Santa Barbara and then to the Santa Barbara wine country. We drank a lot of wine. I bought a case of wine. There was a lot of giggling. And then we settled down -- to drink more wine -- in a town with a windmill.

For the record, I did drink Merlot, against my better judgment.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Joshua Tree . . .

. . . is one of my favorite albums. But it's also a national park.

It looks like this out the car window.

Just kidding. This is my favorite of the 100-ish pictures that I took today.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Beautiful San Diego, plus fireworks

We arrived in San Diego yesterday morning. After losing exactly one blackberry (not mine) and enduring an unbelievably long wait for a rental car, we were on our way.

First stop: La Jolla Cove. We wanted to see the beach. What we got were seals. Lots of seals.

Then, last night, we went to the Padres game. Here's a little video of the fireworks from the post-game.

After what was close to a 24-hour day, we went to sleep at our very posh hotel. This morning, we woke up and went to Coronado.

First the beach:

Then we chased some ducks through downtown:

Then we went out to Balboa Park and relaxed at the Koi pond by the Botanical Garden:

Tomorrow we head out to the desert.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Revisiting the '80s

I stumbled across an article in the L.A. Times about how Hall & Oates is having a resurgence of sort.

Personally, I never really thought that they went away. In fact, I still have my tape of Big Bam Boom that I got for my birthday in the 4th grade. I remember watching the Nickelodeon show where they played music videos (I wasn't allowed to watch MTV), hoping that they would play Out of Touch or Method of Modern Love. I still maintain that those songs are awesome. The '80s hair, not so much.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just a trim

For the last couple of days, I've been thinking that my bangs are too long, and that I probably ought to get my hair cut before I go on vacation. But because this revelation was kind-of last minute, I couldn't get in to my normal -- and comparatively expensive -- salon. Which is probably a good thing, because despite my proclivity for spending a ridiculous amount of money on clothing and shoes and manicures and so-forth, I can't fathom spending $60 or so to get my hair trimmed.

So I went down to the neighborhood Hair Cuttery after work tonight. That was my first mistake.

The second mistake was allowing a girl who barely spoke English and had crooked bangs near my hair with scissors. I told her that I just wanted a trim.

"One inch?"

"No, a trim. Just cut off the ends, keep the layers and the style."

"One inch?"

Rather than argue, I decided to hold up my fingers to indicate about a quarter of an inch.

"Oh, okay." Surprisingly, she followed my instruction.

Then we got to the bangs. "How much cut?"

"Shorter, but not too short, keep them long enough so I can push them to the side. Keep the style, but angle them in. Try to blend them into the layers."

She gestured to her very short and crooked attempt at blunt-cut bangs. "Short like mine?"

I said, "Uh, no," but I was thinking, "Pretty much exactly the opposite."

She then proceeded to part my hair down the center to trim my bangs. She cut about a quarter of an inch off the bottom, and asked me if it was short enough.

Admittedly, I'd rather her leave them too long then have her cut them dangerously short. But that wasn't even close to what I had asked her to do. And I haven't worn my hair parted down the middle in a very long time. So I told her that they don't go like that. And I told her that my hair generally parts on the left. She then proceeded to try to part my hair on the right, and couldn't understand why my bangs didn't want to cooperate.

After watching her fuss with it for a couple of minutes, finally I said, "My hair just doesn't go that way. Do it on the other side."

She ignored me and took the razor to my bangs. Unsurprisingly, my hair was still not cooperative. Finally, she got frustrated and asked me to show her how I do it.

I took the comb, changed the part, and the bangs went right where they were supposed to go. She played with the razor for a little while longer, but really didn't cut much more.

Ultimately, I think I avoided the third mistake, which would have been letting the girl actually cut my hair. In fact, when I left the place, my hair pretty much looked exactly like it did this morning. Thank god it only cost $14.

Of course, I'll have to see what it looks like in the morning.

Random political thought o' the day

In avoiding anything that has to do with American Idol -- and trying not to watch the Nationals get blown out by the Phillies -- I stumbled across an Obama rally on C-Span tonight, before turning to my DVR and tuning out.

In all honesty, stump speeches bore me to death. But my viewing options were limited, so I watched for a couple of minutes. And compared with a lot of other politicians, he really is a captivating speaker.

The entire time, though, I was thinking about the Washington Post article describing the racist incidents that his campaign has had to endure. And we all probably know at least one person who, despite being otherwise reasonable, believes all the chain emails about him being a radical Muslim or whatnot. (According to the New York Times, this is an epidemic amongst older Jews in South Florida. I personally know at least one South Floridian who, despite being a lifelong Democrat, will vote for McCain over Obama this fall.)

I can't help feeling that it's such a shame that people are so closed-minded.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Grey hair

Early this morning, my brother texted me to tell me that he was upset because he found a grey hair. He's 28.

I started finding gray hair the week of my college graduation. A lot of them. And since I've given up dyeing my hair for the past two years, I'm at the point that I don't want to even look anymore.

So I texted my brother back, saying that "You complaining about gray hair to me is like me complaining to you about being broke."

What to pack?

I was at work until well after midnight last night, and came home to no internet. Which, in retrospect, was probably a good thing, since I really needed sleep. But what I also need to do is pack for my upcoming vacation, which starts Saturday. (And get a haircut, which is a whole other matter.)

Anyway, in deciding what to pack, I have a quandary: Which dress to wear to the wedding. So I'm asking the audience. Here are your choices:

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Today would have been my grandfather's 84th birthday. A year ago, the family -- other than my parents, who were away on vacation -- crowded in the ICU, and read him his cards, hoping that things would end well. So much has changed since then, it's hard to wrap my head around it all.

When I started thinking about things, I noticed a strange numerological coincidence that had somehow managed to escape me for the past 32 years: My mom and her father were both born on the 15th; my dad and I were both born on the 27th.

Yet more shoes

Not sure if these are too high (4"), but they match my Catherine Malandrino dress:

I forget what eight was for, too

song chart memes
more song chart memes

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Political horoscopes

I read this L.A. Times article about the presidential candidates' handwriting, and I am of two minds about it. On the one hand, looking at the candidates' handwriting and trying to get a feel for their personalities is somewhat humanizing. The graphic is particularly illustrative: McCain is "intense yet private," Clinton is "controlled, smart and forceful," Obama "deals with different people and situations well."

On another level, handwriting analysis seems akin to analyzing the effect that birth order had on their development -- which is, to say, about as insightful as reading their astrological chart. If you look hard enough, you can find something there to support the inferences that you've already drawn.

But don't take my word for it: I researched the candidate's horoscopes. Here are my conclusions:

  • Obama is a Leo, so he is a "natural born leader", "well organized, idealistic and [has] a knack for inspiring others."
  • Clinton is a Scorpio, which means that she's "overbearing," "stubborn" and doesn't "know the word quit."
  • McCain is a Virgo, so he's "picky and critical," "exacting," and "practical and logical."

This is deep and insightful, right?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Oxford Comma

Yesterday, Stuff White People Like noted that white people really like grammar.

Guess that makes me white, because I'm guilty as charged.

But you know what's better than grammar? Songs about punctuation. Specifically, the serial comma:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Irony is hard; mocking is easy

If there's one thing I've learned over the past two-plus years, it's that irony requires a deft touch. Especially in written form.

When an author writes about something, and the article turns out to be the best example of the subject, it's not really irony. Well, maybe it's dramatic or situational irony, but it's not truly ironic. And it's not really funny, either.

Case in point: a discourse on the overuse of the word awkward is, for lack of a better word . . . awk-ward.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother-less day

This is the first year that I can remember where I did not buy a Mother's Day card for my mom. I will never buy a Mother's Day card for my mom again. And, for all of these years, all of these cards, I always bought her funny cards -- even though I knew she liked the sappy sweet ones better. I always hated the mushy stuff -- now it's worse than ever.

I managed to mostly avoid being overwhelmed by mother's day stuff today by going to watch a stinky baseball game in the rain. For some reason -- habit, mostly -- I checked out some of the mom-themed postcards on PostSecret, and a couple of them made me tear up. What really got to me, though, is how my Nana said that she put out the cards she got last year from Pop and my mom. I waited until I hung up the phone, but that's when I lost it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

More shoes

These might be the most ridiculous shoes that I've ever purchased:

And yes, I really do need a pedicure.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Trust vs. Skepticism

I had a weird conversation with my sister today. She's always been a very trusting person -- like my mom -- and, after a series of recent events, she's become aware that people take advantage of it -- which is starting to get to her.

Not me. I was born a skeptic -- and law school just made it worse. I told her that I go into every situation fully aware that everyone has an agenda -- sometimes it's hidden, sometimes it's not -- but it's still an agenda. And I spend an exorbitant amount of time trying to figure out just what that agenda is.

I don't know which is worse -- trusting people too much, or not trusting anyone.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Cards and Flowers

When I was in law school, Mother's Day always fell right around finals. One year, I had a late final or a paper due or something, so I told my mom that there was no way that I'd be able to come down for the weekend. Then, when she and the entire family were out to dinner, I magically showed up, flowers in hand. She was so surprised to see me -- much as she was when I did the same thing for her birthday a couple of years ago -- but she lied and told me that she thought I'd be there. The truth is that she knew I would do something -- I always did something -- but she had no idea that I'd get in the car and drive for four-and-a-half hours just to turn around and head back the next day.

The real truth was that I hated not being with her on Mother's Day. Celebrations like that were very important to her.

One year, a long time ago -- back when I was still a teenager, maybe in my first year of college by then -- my mom and my sister got in a bad fight right before Mother's Day -- so my sister ignored her for the weekend.

That was so not my mom's style -- she'd get angry and then forget why she was angry about 10 minutes later -- or maybe the next day if it was really bad. So my mom wound up being upset that my sister was mad at her, but she was really bothered by the fact that that my sister didn't wish her a happy Mother's Day, or even give her a card.

Of course, I tried to negotiate a truce, and found out the truth: My sister had gotten my mom a card, but didn't give it to her as "punishment," like how you would take a favorite toy away from a misbehaving child.

But I digress. What I really mean to say is that this is the first holiday that she's not around, and it's way harder than I thought it would be.

According to a survey, this year, consumers plan on spending about $15.8 billion on gifts for Mother's Day. In 2007, the same survey indicated that consumers planned to spend $15.73 billion.

Not me. This year I am doing nothing.

Yesterday, I told my Nana that I couldn't even bring myself to go into the Hallmark store -- right downstairs -- to get her a card. Not surprisingly, she understood that I'm just not in the mood for it.

I don't think she knows how bad it is. Every time I see an ad on tv, or get an email from one of the places I used to send my mother flowers in years past, I get annoyed. I think I'm just about ready to add 1-800-Flowers and ProFlowers and FTD to my spam filter. All that marketing is really just too much for someone who just lost their mother. It borders on offensive.

No, that's not exactly right: It feels like a kick to the stomach.

You would think that the retailers would have done some kind of survey on that.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's still May 6 in the D.C. metro area

Not only was there an earthquake in Annandale today, but somehow, the Washington Post managed to break the space-time continuum and write a story about it in the future.

Talk about newsworthy.

Monday, May 05, 2008

My "truest, deepest self" still wishes my mom was here

I stumbled across an article in the Los Angeles Times, of all places, about how some people improve their lives after being orphaned as adults.

I am not an orphan (my dad has promised that he'll make it to 100, and I believe him) but I understand part of it. I mean, since my mom died, I've made a conscious effort to try to clean up my act -- I'm being healthier, I'm trying to be more responsible, and I'm trying to eliminate extraneous things from my life, particularly if they don't make me happy. But I can't get behind the central pretext of the article, that "The death of your parents can be the best thing that ever happens to you."

The author tries to justify, or maybe just explain:

"The death of a parent -- any parent -- can set us free. It offers us our last, best chance to become our truest, deepest selves," Safer writes. "Nothing else in adult life has so much unrecognized potential to help us become more fulfilled human beings -- wiser, more mature, more open, less afraid."

I find the whole thing offensive. Even if all the rest is true, since my mother's death, I don't find myself being free. Not even close. And I'd trade any wisdom or maturity or fearlessness that I may have gained in this shitty process to have her back -- even with the merciless nudging, the constant complaining and the high expectations, coupled with my need to make her happy (or at least placated). I miss it. I need someone to kick me in the ass sometimes.

All of the re-prioritization in the world isn't worth it.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

How the dinosaurs must have felt

Don't get me wrong: I love CDs. But my consumption of music has been evolving -- I am now as likely to download a song from iTunes as I am to go to Amazon and buy the CD. And not too long ago, I noted that I had digitized my entire music collection -- it's now up to 12051 songs (not including a whole bunch I got from Stereogum that I haven't added to my iTunes library yet).

I even posted my own muxtape to share with the world.

I used to buy CDs in actual music stores. But I can't remember the last time I did that. In fact, the only time I remember going into a music store lately, it was a record store (Orpheus in Clarendon, which is going out of business by the end of the month), and I bought a used copy of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk from the bargain bin. And that was before my record player died, which must have been at least a year ago.

I think I'm a prime example of the reason that record stores are going out of business -- my habits have changed drastically in a very short time.

A couple of months ago, I read a Washington Post article indicating that the record industry believes that it is illegal for me to copy the music that I have purchased in CD format onto my computer. That can't be right, can it?

About the only thing in the entire story that made sense to me is this:

The RIAA's legal crusade against its customers is a classic example of an old media company clinging to a business model that has collapsed. Four years of a failed strategy has only "created a whole market of people who specifically look to buy independent goods so as not to deal with the big record companies," Beckerman says. "Every problem they're trying to solve is worse now than when they started."

The 21st century is a confusing time.