Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kitchen Bitch

In response to a recent comment on the blog, I'm going to fill you all in on my cooking cred. I wasn't born-and-raised wealthy, just comfortably well off. My father was a dentist, as I think I've covered before, and my mother was a 'homemaker'. That actually used to be a job description. I'm an only child, and no, I wasn't lonely. I went to public schools, had tons of friends, and - bonus! - wasn't forced to share my beautiful pink bedroom with anyone.

My childhood was idyllic in lots of ways. My father was Armenian, like so many residents of the Fresno area, but my mother is French. Full-blooded, like with an accent and everything. She's an incredible cook. She taught me how to make a perfect white sauce just as soon as I was old enough to hold a wooden spoon. She can create a masterpiece with nothing more than eggs, butter, cream, flour and white pepper. Somewhere in my storage I have a few videos we made of me, as a sullen-but-compliant teenager, learning the finer points of various international cuisines. She was as proficient with Southern Chinese provencial cooking as with South Indian regional fare.

After my father died, she stopped cooking as much. She claimed it wasn't fulfilling without my dad to enjoy it. She did, however, give me our family's cookbook when I married Barney. Until the 1920's, when it was printed and leather-bound, it had consisted of various folders, notebooks, and loose pages, all handwritten and tied together with twine. I'm not sure what happened to the originals. I've used those recipies over and over, and shared many of them on my previous blog. Even though the book still sits in my kitchenette (or whatever you call that strip of wall with a sink, half-sized fridge, and two-burner stove that passes for a kitchen in this cramped little box), I rarely use it anymore. Besides the ingredients being cost-prohibitive (fresh black truffles? really?!), I haven't had the heart to cook much since the divorce. Like my mom, I suppose, I'd be happier cooking for someone who'd enjoy it. Barney never said he loved my cooking but he didn't routinely regurgitate it either.

So, back off Bitches! I've got a pastry-cutter and I know how to use it! Peace out.

Secrets to a Perfect White Sauce
There are but three things to remember when whipping up a white sauce:
1) Use an iron skillet.
2) Cook the flour in the butter until bubbly but not yet brown.
3) Heat the cream to just under a simmer then dribble it into the cooked flour mixture while whisking furiously until it is all incorporated. Cook until glossy - done and done!

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Chair

I finally got the Jag back - yea! Jose, god bless him, brought it back a couple of days ago. Unfortunately I don't have anywhere to go. No job enterviews this week. The upside is that I don't have any extra gas money anyhow.

While driving back from the repair shop I decided to cruise by the Beverly Hills house and pick up my 'mail', which is actually a stack of papers in grocery bag that Aurora, Barney's housekeeper, saves for me. We get along well and have in common childhoods spent in the San Joaquin Valley. She grew up in dusty little farm town about fifty miles from Fresno, which is my hometown. Anyway, she saves stuff from Barney's office trash that might prove helpful to me - reciepts, invoices, correspondence, or whatever - and stashes the bag in the alley behind the dumpster. Barney never goes back there and Harmony apparently doesn't even know where the alley is so there's not much chance that I'll get caught.

Aurora detests Harmony, she calls her 'Whore-money'. According to Aurora, in addition to being cheap, sleazy, and low-class, she's demanding, petty, and a liar. Harmony also enjoys parading around in the nude, especially when workmen are around. Aurora caught one of the gardeners mesmerized behind some bushes in the backyard, blower on full blast in his limp and motionless hand, watching Harmony strolling around the patio with a watering can. She pointed her big old butt toward the yard and bent over to give the potted fern a drink. Right. As if she cares about the wellfare of houseplants. He blew a big divot in the dirt and nearly uprooted a rhododendron.

So anyway, I was driving down the alley after picking up my 'evidence' when I noticed a chair that one of the neighbors had put out for the trash. It's a wooden side-chair, kind of curvy and delicate. The finish was slightly messed up and the legs were a little scratched but other than that it's in great shape. I don't know, but something about that little chair just called to me.

I've been so spun since moving here that I really haven't noticed my surroundings much. I guess deep down inside I thought it was only temporary and that Barney and I would reconcile. Yeah, sure, when monkeys fly out my ass.

My apartment complex is a little drab but in a great location, just a few blocks from the beach. Pinkberry (awesome frozen yogurt place) is walking distance and they have free wi-fi. Apparently we are supposed to get wifi here but it hasn't happened yet.

My place came 'furnished', if you can call it that. There's a tiny dinette set, cheap but all-wood in a not-too-obnoxious style. I bought a new mattress when I moved in - that I simply had to do with the bedbug problems in Los Angeles. There's a chest of drawers in lovely, virgin particleboard, a recliner (ugh!), and the piece-de-resistance - a stinky futon-style sofa with a tubular metal frame and stained poly-blend black canvas. Serious horror show.

I spent yesterday outside on the tiny postage-stamp sized patch of lawn in front of my door, painting the little chair. The sun was sinking low over the Pacific when I finally finished, but I have to say that it turned out pretty well. In fact, Kurt, my gay neighbor, saw me putting the finishing touches on it as he was coming home from work. He actually asked how much I would charge to paint a table in the same style! I mean, not counting art class in school, I've never painted a thing in my life. Kurt says I have a real talent for it. Who knew!?

Anyway, I told him that I'd do it for $50, plus materials. It's not much but it will help keep the lights on.

Recipes and Household Tips for the Recently Impoverished - Tip # 4

Want to induldge in some decorative painting awesomeness but don't have beaucoup bucks to invest in painting supplies? Not to worry, you probably have something just a good in the back of a cupboard or in the junk drawer. I started by applying a layer of white shoe polish. Don't worry if it doesn't cover completely - you're going for shabby chic. When it's dry, get the scrubber sponge from your kitchen sink and rub down the corners the edges to simulate wear. Let it dry then break out the box of old nail lacquers you've got shoved to the very back of you bathroom under-sink cupboard. In addition to the lovely pinks, corals, and reds, there should be some unfotunate choices like blue, green and purple, which you bought one day at the CVS when you were feeling age nipping at your heels. Lightly sketch a design in pencil then start applying the nail polish, working from lightest tones to darkest. Be sure to do this outside where passersby can see you and, hopefully, commission your work.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Bus

My car is still in the shop so I've been reduced to taking...the bus. The bus! I haven't taken a bus since I was in the seventh grade. I needed to get to a job interview in Universal City, about 20 miles from my apartment. Normally I would have just called a cab if the car were unavailable. 'Normal' went down in flames months ago.

First I had to 'plan my route', which can be done online. Supposedly. I finally figured out the route, found the bus stop, and waited for the bus which promised, a mere ninety minutes later, to deposit me at (well, near anyway) University City. So there I stood, just before eight o'clock on a Tuesday morning, with about a dozen other poor, car-less souls. What a hodgepodge of humanity. Guys in suits, women with kids, old people, and this guy in a wheelchair whom everyone seemed to know. So, we all clamber up the stairs and...damn. I mean, damn! Remember the cantina scene in Star Wars? All those guys were there - the butt-head guy, and octopus-face, and this woman who was a dead ringer for Jabba-The-Hutt. I swear to god! I had no idea where to sit. I mean, the bus was nearly packed. It was a toss-up between the Humong family and their seven kids, the transvestite dude in the blue wig, and Butt-Head Guy. I ended up next to the transvestite - at least I was reasonably sure he wouldn't hit on me.

Turns out it was much worse - I actually knew him! Or had in my previous life, at any rate. It was Mark, one of Barney's many attorneys. He'd lost his job - drugs - and been disbarred. He'd worked as a paralegal for awhile and now was shilling texture-coating to poor hispanic families in East L.A. We actually had a pleasant conversation, comparing job-hunting notes, sharing our disbelief and horror about the Boston Marathon bombing, and commiserating about the generally shitty state of the world.

Mark got off about half-way through my ride. We promised to Facebook each other. Anyhow, an old lady who smelled like rotting sneakers took his place and sat there muttering to herself and reeking of moldy gym socks until I finally made it to my stop at, no make that near, Universal City. I ended up walking about a half-mile before entering the H.R. office, all wind-blown and sweaty, and 10 minutes late for my appointment. It didn't really matter because there were about five people in the office, waiting to interview for the same job. An hour and twenty minutes later it was my turn.

It was like speed-dating. The H.R. queen bee asked exactly three questions:
1. Have you ever worked as an Administrative Assistant before? (No)
2. Do you have any special skills that qualify you for this position? (No...well, I have a very organized kitchen. Does that count?)
3. Have you ever been convicted of a felony? (No)

Thank you, Ms. Wiseman. We'll call you.

Well, crap. What a waste of time. I won't even go into the ride home. Let's just say it required a shower, a Valium, and a nap.

Recipes and Household Tips for the Recently Impoverished - Tip # 3
I found a recipe for lemon-bars that calls for only two ingredients: a box of angel-food cake mix and two cans of lemon-pie filling. Simply mix the filling and the cake mix, spread into a nine-by-twelve pan (spray first with non-stick coating) and bake for 45 minutes at 350-degrees F. I added a bottom crust made from crushed coconut cookies - all ingredients courtesy of the dollar store. Incidentally, I checked the price of pie filling at the local Savemart - $5.49! And that was for the Western Family brand!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Crying Jag

My car hates me. As a wedding present Barney bought me a brand-new Jaguar. I drove it for a couple of years but when he suggested I turn it in for something newer I just couldn't part with it so it sat in the far stall of the garage while I drove one of the newer cars Barney leased every couple of years.

When I met Barney I'd been driving my sixteenth-birthday-present 1992 Volvo 240 and I was ready for something 'classier'. I'll never forget waking up on my sixteenth birthday and rushing to the window to see my new car. I knew my parents were buying me one and I'd hinted plenty about a Camaro. Seeing that tan Volvo parked where my red Camaro should have been was disorienting at first. For a split second I thought I'd better go outside and look behind it to see if my pretty red car was hidden there. Anyhow, Barney convinced me to sell it right after he gave me the Jag. Stupid move.

When we split I was allowed to keep 'my' car, as per the prenup. If I'd only known that he was planning to dump me for a newer model I'd have let him gift me with a new car every couple of years. And they'd all be Volvos.

So now the Jag and I are stuck together, lurching our way down Santa Monica Boulevard each day in search of cheap food, wifi hotspots and gainful employment. That car is nickle-and-dimeing me to death, only the nickels and dimes are really $500 and $1000 repair invoices. Within a few hours of getting my alimony check the damn car lost its transmission while I was stopped in traffic. I'd just turned off Lincoln toward the 99-cent store (yes, it's becoming an obsession) when - Varoom! Varoom! All rev and no motion. What a nightmare. Everyone was honking and screaming at me to move my fucking car and I just froze. I had absolutely no idea what to do. I sat there hoping Scotty would beam me up or Calgon would take me away. Instead, a couple of hunky guys pushed it into a parking lot. They were so sweet and friendly; I was considering the bend-and-snap (rent 'Legally Blonde if you don't get the reference) but the way they called me 'Ma'am' was crushing, all respectful voices and downcast eyes. If I'd actually done the bend-and-snap they'd probably just assume my orthopedic hip was giving out along with the transmission on my rattle-trap old-lady car.

After waiting an eternity for the tow-truck I finally got it in to Jose, my mechanic. The transmission isn't completely gone but it needs about $700 worth of repairs. Jose is a good mechanic, and fair. And since Barney and I split he's been giving me discounted prices. Even with all that it knocked the crap out of my check.

So here I am again - rent paid, bills late, $127 between me and starvation, and 26 days until the next check. I need a job, and quick!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Dollar Store

My friends used to envy me because I’m kind of OCD organized. I don’t need much sleep and I don’t like to sit still – I get antsy – so I tend to accomplish alot every day. Months ago, my former next-door-neighbor (and former friend now, apparently) said I should blog about being...well, being 'me'. She told me that lots of people make money blogging and, while money was never a problem in my marriage to Barney, there are things a girl likes to keep to herself. Like Botox and vaginal rejuvenation surgery. So that's how MalibuTrophyWife came to be. I didn't make any money, incidentally, but I did get hooked on blogging. It's cheaper than therapy and I get to play with pretty backgrounds.
I was born with an incredibly-hard-to-pronounce Armenian last name, but that was Fresno, a long time ago. Whatever. Let’s just say that now I’m your typical kicked-to-the-curb, pushing forty, high-maintenance blond almost-actress who gambled and lost.

Barney. God, what an asshole. While I was floating on the pink-cloud of our upcoming wedding, he slid the pre-nup in like a cocaine-coated suppository. I didn’t even feel it. I had no idea what I was signing, and frankly, I didn’t really give a shit. I actually loved Barney, almost completely, and he seemed to love me. More with the pathetic. If a woman can be a schmuck, then color me schmuck.

Ok, enough with kevetching about the past for today. This post is about the dollar store. Believe it or not, I stepped my last-season's-Prada-clad foot into a dollar store (actually a 99-cent store) for the first time this week.
OMG! I mean, seriously! You can get anything there! From avocados to ashtrays, hammers to houseplants, flip-flops to food! Good thing too, because I was down to $12.87. I got my alimony yesterday, so I'm not going to starve for awhile, but earlier this week it was pretty grim. The fridge had nothing but a half-full carton of cottage cheese, a tomato, the very last of my precious La Prarie Anti-Aging Stress Cream, and a small chunk of turkey. The state of the freezer was even worse - empty, save a few ice cubes and a lone bottle of Stoli. So, in desperation, I decided to explore the dollar store a few blocks from my apartment. Quelle surprise! After roaming the aisles in abject fascination for awhile, I decided on a box of maccaroni-and-white-cheese-sauce (the good kind that's already made up, not the powder stuff), a bag of garlic, and a bunch of asparagus.

At home, I stir-fried the tomato and a couple cloves of garlic with the asparagus, cut into bite-sized chunks. I made up the mac-and-cheese and folded in the cottage cheese and turkey, cubed up, then topped the whole mess with the stir-fried veggies. Voila! Several relatively balanced meals for three bucks and some random refrigerator leavings. I really think I'm getting the hang of leftovers.

Recipes and Household Tips for the Recently Impoverished - Tip # 2
The dollar store. 'Nuf said.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

new life, new blog, old story...

For those of you who are new to my blog, let me give you a little background info. I started my old blog, MalibuTrophyWife, about nine months ago. Back then I wrote blithely of my ‘perfect’ life and shared a recipe or household tip each week. Talk about self-delusion. My perfect life recently imploded. For those of you who are continuing to follow me from before, the tone of this new blog will be totally different from what you guys are used to reading. (I’m keeping the recipes and tips, though!)

My name is Alexis Wiseman, at least it was for nine-point-nine-nine years. Part of me still feels like Alexis Matthews, even though I only called myself that for about a year, after I moved to Los Angeles to become an actress. After I married ‘Barney’ (not his real name, but it should be, the dirtyrottenbastard!) life was all rainbows and cupcakes. I could leave my spotty past behind and finally ‘be somebody’. I drew on the name Wiseman like a nutria-lined trench coat. Barney is a ‘Producer’ with a capital ‘P’, but only for television. He specializes in reality shows - big surprise. Even still, on our wedding day I felt like I’d won the lottery. Amazing how things can just turn on a dime. Anyhow, I’m hanging on to my married name. It might be the only thing I get out of the divorce.

My regular readers know that I’ve been silent for awhile. It’s because my husband – soon to be ex-husband – has gone insane and left me for a life-sized, primarily plastic human doll I like to call ‘Pea-Brain Barbie’.
I spent last week reading my old blog posts. Seriously, I can’t believe how clueless I was. For example, awhile back Barney seemed to lose interest in sex. I just thought it was prostate problems. I mean, he’s 56, after all! Then he started to spend more and more nights in town - ‘working’. Can you say “someone’s got a bimbo on the side”?
I guess I wasn’t completely oblivious. I know I was depressed. Even though I’ve taken down my old blog, in the interest of bringing you all up to speed, here’s how my mind was working…

“No wonder Barney seems distant. I caught a look at myself in the mirror today. Damn. I look like an FLDS sister wife. My hair hasn’t been touched up in weeks and I was wearing a t-shirt and a jumper. I mean, honestly – a jumper? At least it wasn’t denim (shudder!) but still…I guess I’ve been more depressed than I realized. Ok, so, today is all about beauty-911, lunch, and shopping.”
Pathetic, huh? What’s worse is that I thought a little sprucing up would actually make a difference.

“This last week was hectic, but I’m feeling back to normal. Franco restored my hair! Where there was straw, now there’s cornsilk. A French mani/pedi cleared up the nails. My face is still a wee bit red, but an intensive European facial will do that. I feel a little sore – maybe three yoga sessions right out of the gate was a bit much but all-in-all I feel fabulous. I met with Nadia, my cosmetic surgeon. We’re discussing the possibility of a forehead lift this spring and fractal laser on my face, neck, and decollete. No more tanning beds! From here on out it’s spray tanning and SPF 100!”
I’m reading the post again and it makes me want to cry. There won’t be any mani/pedis, let alone fractal lasers, in my foreseeable future. On my current income I can just about afford a new pack of emery boards. When I’m done with my nails I’ll just use the damn things to resurface my face.

Ok, well, that’s my life so far. Tune in next week for the latest gory details.

BTW, in the interest of protecting myself from libel, slander, or whatever, all the names in my blog and profile have been changed. Except my first name – that’s real. Just sayin’…
Recipes and Household Tips for the Recently Impoverished - Tip # 1
Did you know that you can use mayonnaise to clean the leaves of houseplants? I didn't either! The bigger question is what was mayonnaise doing in my apartment in the first place? Anyhow, you can polish your dusty ficus leaves with a dab of mayo on a soft cloth (or just rub it off your fingers after consuming a Subway sandwich at 2am while watching 'An Officer and a Gentleman' for the twenty-seventh time and crying your eyes out - again.