Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hello, Hollyweird!

The taxi nosed its way up into the hills, finally stopping at a gated estate, one of the rare survivors of 1970's suburban renewal. The place is grand on any scale, and dates from the early 1920's. Imagine Greystone Mansion, only someone actually lives there.

Raj, the taxi driver, and I were old friends by the time he found the place. We rolled up to the gate but there was no call box in sight. No guardhouse, no visible cameras, nothing to allow us to announce our arrival. We waited a few minutes, listening to Bradley Nowell warble about not practicing Santaria, and speculated about the likelihood of an el Nino saving our parched asses this year.

"Well, Raj, are you going to scale the fence, or shall I?" Ever the sarcastic wit, I was just about to suggest he turn around when the gate slid open. Ok, I guess we're going in.

The drive was typically winding, typically long, and typically beautiful.  The house was - is - a monstrosity.  Built by someone with more money than taste, it's an amalgam of every popular style of the time, from Queen Anne, to Carpenter Gothic, with some California Mission and Frank Lloyd Wrong thrown in for good measure.

I rummaged in my handbag, looking for enough money to pay him, but Raj said it was taken care of and his instructions were to wait and return me to my home when the interview was concluded.  Good thing. I was afraid I'd have to offer to do something like scrub his tires with my toothbrush, in my undies, to work off the fare.

I squared my shoulders and began the long march up a wide staircase leading to the huge, hideously carved doors, when said doors suddenly burst open and the odd little woman flew out. I barely recognized her. Everything was different - hair, makeup, clothing, even the era. She looked, for all the world, like Audrey Hepburn in "Breakfast at Tiffany's".  Her costume was a replica of the pullover, capris, and ballet flats Audrey wore when she and  George Peppard had their last supper together. Right down to the poofy-hair-and-pigtails 'do. It was beginning to freak me out.

Luci is a hard person to remain standoffish around. She rushed down the steps like  cantering thistledown (I know thistledown doesn't canter, but you get the idea), and gathered me into her arms like a long-lost relative.

I need to try to explain her hug. A sensation of peace washed through me during that brief embrace. It was like valium, only I could probably still drive. I found myself following her into the house, like a lamb, as she chattered about something, although I can't remember what. When I came fully back to myself we were sitting in a cavernous room, teacups balanced on our knees.

"So," she asked, bright eyed, as if I hadn't spent the last ten minutes in an euphoric stupor, "would you like to see your office?"

Would I ever!

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Magic Taxi

After walking home, I took a cold shower, ate a Lean Cuisine, and took myself firmly in hand. As intriguing as it was, I really couldn't see myself following another cockeyed lead to Dissapointmentsville again. What was her scam, anyhow? MLM, probably. It's astounding how sophisticated your average Amway rep has become.

I resolutely thrust the whole thing to the back of my mind and went to bed early. My sleep was fitful and bothered with odd dreams, none of which I could clearly remember but all of which seemed especially urgent somehow. When I finally awoke it was 9:30 in the morning. The sun was ridiculously cheerful and, suddenly, I knew I had to make that meeting.

After a quick mascara-blush-and-lipgloss routine,  I ran a brush through my hair, shimmied into my trusty LBD, shoved my feet into my Manolos, and was ready to roll. As I was Mapquesting the address there was a rap on the door. Looking cautiously outside I saw a taxi. The driver was on the stoop.

"Can I help you?", I asked through Mark's cool video-intercom thingy.

"If you're Alexis Wiseman, then, yeah, I'm here to take you to your appointment with a Miss...", he squinted down at a slip of paper.

"Hold on," The driver fished around in his pockets and finally withdrew a pair of reading glasses, which he made a slow show of putting on his nose.

"...Angelino." He looked expectantly at the camera mounted above the door.

Oh well, what the hell, sometimes you just have to go with it.

"I'm coming," I replied, and scooped up my purse. Moments later I was bravely sailing out into that sunny morning, about to trust my life to an LA cabbie, and seriously curious about the rest of my day.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Sorry About the Long Hiatus...Now, Where Was I...?

So, anyhow, I walked to Starbucks, laptop in hand, ready to resume blogging. I'd lost interest for awhile, what with the daily grind of life and then the feverish craft explosion. I thought it would be good therapy to start writing again. The ebook sales, although relatively small, had inspired me and I had some new ideas percolating.  Funny, you'd think that with all the noise and distraction in your average coffeehouse or yogurt shop, I'd prefer to write at home, where it's quiet. Oddly, I seem to concentrate best sitting at a bistro table amid chattering masses of humanity.

I grabbed a skinny vanilla latte, triple shot, and settled into a table wedged into a corner. That's another of my idiosyncrasies. I get nervous sitting in the middle of a room. Why? I haven't a clue.

Anyway, I had finished about half my coffee and was really getting in to the zone when I noticed that someone was standing close to my table, literally at my right elbow. I glanced to the side and saw brown tweed and a couple of leather buttons staring back. Resolutely ignoring the space-encroaching person,  I returned my attention back to the screen.

"Why aren't you at Pinkberry today?" The question wafted down from above.

I looked up at the most astonishing woman. Like I said, she was dressed in tweed. A tweed suit to be exact, in the style of the late 1930s, complete with a fox fur collar. I wondered how many times a day she had to lie and say "Genuine fur? Of course not! This is simply a high quality faux!"

"Excuse me?" By this time I'd lost the thread of our conversation.

"Pinkberry. The one in Santa Monica? It's where I normally see you, or did anyhow." She twirled an empty chair around and dropped into it, graceful as a feather, then leaned toward me, chin in hand.

"So, what's up with that?" She delivered that sentence in a sing-song, almost as if she were using the phrase for the first time.

I was speechless. Absolutely nonplussed. As I sat staring at this strange little woman in her veiled hat and matching gloves, I couldn't think of a thing to say. She didn't seem to notice my confusion while she fished in her alligator handbag for a moment, finally holding up a business card. It was actually a calling card, the old fashioned kind that simply has the caller's name printed on it. Whipping out a Flair pen she scribbled her phone number on the back.

"Call me." she said, "The job starts immediately."

Okay, now I got it. She was recruiting for something sketchy like pyramid-scheme fruit drink sales or soft-core porn. Been there, regretted that. I left the card lying on the table between us and said something like, yeah, sure, maybe I'll do that, you-have-a-nice-day, and turned back to my laptop, hoping she'd get the hint.

"Alexis, honestly, this is what you've been waiting for." She leaned closer and touched my hand. I recoiled as if she'd prodded it with the tip of a burning cigarette.

"How do you know my name?" I asked with all the badass indignation I could muster. This thing was definately taking a turn toward Creepytown.

Silently she pointed to the dymotape lable I had affixed to the laptop case with the silly hope that if I ever lost the damn thing someone would be kind enough to call my cell and reunite us.

She uncapped her pen and wrote an address under the phone number.

"Don't bother to call. Just show up at 11am tomorrow." Then she rose from her seat and did the oddest thing. She winked at me before turning to go. Winked at me!  I couldn't decide if she were hitting on me, making fun of me, or trying to draw me into a conspiracy. Before I could figure it out, she was gone, leaving nothing behind  but a calling card and the lingering scent of "My Sin" perfume.

Life had definately taken a turn, but if it was toward Creepytown or not still remained to be seen.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Tower of Pallets and Our Vanishing Sense of Humor

I slept well the night of my pitiful little shopping spree, better than I had in weeks. Next morning I pulled on my pink tracksuit, ran my hair through the flat iron, and set out for the neighborhood Starbucks. It's a little over a mile from Mark's apartment which, I probably forgot to tell you before, is in the valley. Sherman Oaks is a nice place, and all that, but it's not L.A.

Mark's condo is located on the site of a former historic landmark. Back in the early fifties, this crazy old coot named Daniel Van Meter came across a bunch of wooden pallets which had been discarded by the Schlitz brewing company. He drug them home and stacked them into a huge beehive-shaped tower twenty-two feet across and twenty feet high. The city more or less left him alone until 1977 when they told him that he had to tear the unpermitted structure down.

Well, Van Meter was having none of that so he marches down to the Cultural Heritage Commission and convinces those guys to designate it as a Historic Cultural Monument.   When asked why the commission agreed to Van Meter's request, the then-commisioner replied, "I don't know. Maybe we were drunk. It was the funniest thing we ever did."

In 2006, Van Meter's estate sold the property, bulldozed the mouldering old pile of termite infested lumber, and built the apartments.

Somehow, I think the days of designating a pile of kindling as a landmark site just for the fun of it are long gone. R.I.P. Daniel Van Meter.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Craft Photos!

Mark, god bless his little heart, found some pics of our craft projects from the Ventura Swap Meet. He sent me this, of headbands, and promised more to come. Too busy right now for a full-on post. Back soon with the next installment of mi vida loca...

Monday, May 19, 2014

My New Avocation

Before I bring you up to date on the new vocation, I wanted to insert this little tidbit: I'm a writer!  Yes, as in author!  Never in a million years would I have thought I'd someday be writing fiction, or anything else for that matter. True, I don't have an agent and I have a growing stack of rejection emails from 'real' publishers, but I also have a total of $67 in royalties sitting in my paypal account, courtesy of Kindle.

My first few stories were sort of a compilation of this blog, heavily embroidered. Then, out of nowhere, this new, completely foreign and unrelated story lands in my head. At first I just ignored it because, well...because it's smutty.  Not sex-with-animals-and-dead-people smutty - that would have sent me to a shrink post haste - no, just erotic stuff between sailors, boarding school classmates and two fifteen-year-old boys (except for that one is actually a girl), set in the late 1800s.

I know, it sounds awful and gratuitious but, honestly, the thing presented itself to me completely formed. All I was required to do was type it up. It nagged at me until I finally sat down and transferred it to my laptop.

I wonder if that's normal, for a book to write itself in your mind but without any awareness of it happening until it's essentially formed? I didn't just sit down one morning and decide to write about boarding school sexual abuse, runaway teen brides, and homosexual sailors. Now I've got this unpublishable book on my hands that can't find a home because of the 'underage' sex.  In 1876, fifteen-year-olds were marrying, raising families, working, running countries, and everything else a mature human does.  Now, thanks to the seizures the publishing world is having about erotica, I have to change a perfectly plausible story?

I did get some great advice from the moderator over at She suggested I treat the underage sex referentially instead of explicitly. That felt okay when I read it, I mean, my story didn't jump up and scream "No!!"

I'm rambling, I know, but this writing thing is so new and exciting that I just wanted to squeeze it in before going back to the life update. Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled blogging...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Today is the First Day of the Rest...(Nevermind, You Get the Drift.)

The day after Mark and Kurt staged their little intervention, I got up early, showered, shampooed, and set about pulling my life together. Kurt's comment about reiventing myself kept rattling around in my head. I tried to tell myself that this tragedy was really an opportunity slough off the old, center my chi, and discover my true focus. I talked a good game but I wasn't really buying it yet.

You don't understand, until you've lost everything but the clothes on your back,  exactly what that means. I didn't even have a bra! I'd been wearing panties under my pj bottoms, thank god, or I would have had to sneak a pair of the boy's boxers because I won't go out into the world without underwear. No. Ick! Not going to happen. Even still, I did have to borrow Mark's robe while I washed my few pitiful garments.

When my clothes were dry I reached for the pretty pink sweats but decided on the levi's-and-Bijan combo instead. I felt safer in it, like a disguise I suppose. I scraped my hair into a ponytail,  jammed my feet into the new flip flops, and set out in Kurt's Toyota to do some serious hunting and gathering.

First stop, Dollar Tree for sunglasses, fingernail polish remover, cotton balls, toothpaste, comb, blah, blah, blah. At CVS I found a few good-quality cosmetics including a beautiful true-red Milani lipstick and nail varnish to match. Matchy-matchy usually isn't my thing but I thought it would be interesting with what I had on, my Alia, and even the Juicy outfit - red and pink together always reminds me of Valentine's Day. I picked up a knockoff of the Naked Basics pallet for my eyes, a set of Ardell demi-wispy lashes, some Volumnious mascara, a set of Eco-tools makeup brushes, a nice BB cream by L'Oreal, blush, bronzer, and moisturizer. This, plus a few more essentials, knocked an $87 hole in my VISA card.

After that, it was off to Target for some undies, decent casual shoes, and a handbag. The undies were easy. I just grabbed a few lacy pink things on sale and a molded-cup nude bra. For shoes, I settled on a minimal-strap, toe-ring flat thong sandal by 'Sam and Libby' in a beautiful rose gold color. They would work with the tracksuit, the jeans, and the Alia for a dressed-down day look. I also found some slip-on 'Converse' low-tops in cream canvas with pink roses printed on them. The whole experience made me feel like Julia Roberts in 'Pretty Woman'. Except that my benefactors weren't sleeping with me and I only had enough to cover one-quarter the original retail cost of my burned-up handbag.  Speaking of which, I found a cute messenger bag in olive canvas with these awesome little crocheted and bead-detailed flowers appliqued on it. It doubled as a laptop case.

After all the shopping I had $3.76 left on the card,  which I got in cash at Target.  Alimony was still a week away. I'd called Barney to tell him what happened and see if he would cut my check early but he and the bimbo were on vacation again - in Fiji this time - and couldn't be reached.

After taking my stash home, I plugged in the laptop's charger and lay down for a nap. The next day I planned to take my three-bucks-and-change to  the nearest Starbucks and blog about my adventures before hitting the pavement in search of gainful employment.

We can file what happened next under 'Be Careful What You Wish For'.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Bit More about Bijan

My beloved Bijan shirt has deeper significance to me so I thought, before I leave the topic entirely, I would elaborate. Here's my Bijan story...

Way back, shortly after I moved to L.A., I briefly dated a much-older man. He took me to Beverly Hills and treated me to Gucci shoes and an exquisite hour at Bijan. I've always been secretly impressed when it comes to lavish wealth, but pretended to be blase on principle. The House of Bijan managed to crush that principle beneath it's custom-shod heel, while simultaneously making this provincial, obviously unimportant nobody feel welcome and even a little special.

As we approached the locked front door I was a little apprehensive - I seem to remember a sign indicating that admittance was 'by appointment only'. I could see some beautiful people sitting around on leather sofas, drinking wine. "Oh swell, now someone's going to call security..." was what came to mind as my date rang the buzzer. Or maybe he just knocked on the glass, I can't remember.

I do remember that it felt like walking into a Faberge egg, filled with Faberge eggs. The place was a jewel box, filled with gorgeous clothes, fabulous flowers and, breathtakingly, a magnificent staircase with furs, sables I think, tossed over the railings.

What impressed me most, however, was the workmanship of the dress shirts, especially the beautifully detailed and eponymous seam tape. Now, I may have been a relative hick but I'd been reading Vogue since I was twelve so I wasn't a complete rube when it came to fashion. Consequently, the eight-hundred dollar price tag did not amaze me.

Looking back now, I think that if I had asked my date to buy me one of those luscious white shirts, he probably would have obliged. I was, alas, not nearly as pushy then as I am now so I settled for two seventy-five dollar t-shirts.

I used to tell myself that one of these days I'll find the perfect vintage white Bijan dress shirt which I'll buy and wear with my ancient 501's, my hot pink Gucci lace-ups, and an enigmatic smile.

I'm not sure if it actually qualifies as irony or not, but it's certainly harsh that I had to lose almost everything for that shirt to finally waltz into my life.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Visit to the Edge...and Back

Needless to say, we were all sort of shellshocked for awhile. Kurt fared better than I did because he and Mark were awakened by the neighbor's smoke alarm before the fire spread too far. They grabbed their cellphones and wallets, Kurt's ipad, a few nicknacky things, and even some clothes before heading ouside to check on the neighbors. Kurt actually had a disaster plan in place for just this very thing. He keeps a filebox behind a table by the door. It contains copies of all his important papers, medical records, credit card info, passwords, everything. He tucked that under his arm as he left the apartment.

Mark called 911 while Kurt made sure the neighbors were all awake. I was almost an afterthought. Mark ran around to my bedroom window as the firetrucks pulled up.

Luckily, no one was hurt. The fire started in the wall between Kurt's apartment, number '3', and the neighbor in '2', who wasn't home at the time.

After being checked by the paramedics for signs of smoke inhalation, we drove over to Marks place to sleep for awhile before regrouping. Of course, I had no renter's insurance, unlike Kurt. The upside is that I didn't own much and besides my photographs and the Barney papers, which wouldn't be helped by insurance anyway, everything else was replaceable. I think I mourned the crafts we'd made more than anything else. They represented so much - friendship, hope, budding creativity - not to mention countless hours of work. That part really made me heartsick.

But, time lurches on and within a few days we'd made all the necessary phone calls, Kurt met with his insurance adjustor, and Mark was back to work at his job. For the first couple of days after, I slept on Mark's couch and lived in my jammies - a ratty old tank top and flannel pants with martini glasses printed on them. The boys finally made me shower. Mark thrust an old pair of his Levi's and a tshirt through the bathroom door and tossed my filthy, wadded-up pajamas in the washer. I still have that old tshirt. Its a lovely, washed out blue cotton, vintage 1980s, with 'Balboa Bay Yacht Club'  embroidered discretely over the heart.

I was gripped in a state of lethargy. I slept a lot and read Mark's old paperbacks into the wee hours. My brain felt pumped full of concrete and I had a hard time participating in conversation. I just wanted to be left alone on the quiet couch to read and sleep for the rest of my life.

After about a week of this, the boys decided an intervention was in order.  Mark came home with an armload of shopping bags-Macy's, Sephora, CVS, and Designer Shoe Wearhouse. They sat me down on my beloved couch, each taking one of my hands, looked lovingly into my eyes, and said "Bitch, this shit has to stop right now!"

Kurt whipped out the bags and started dumping the contents in my lap - a pink Juicy tracksuit, some of my favorite skincare products from Sephora , a cute pair of jeweled thongs, shampoo and hair products from the drug store and last, a $200 prepaid VISA card.

They told me all the tough-love crap that you're supposed to tell someone who has been traumatized and lost her grip. It was time for me to rejoin the land of the living and start fighting to get my life back. I think one of the reasons I felt so spun was that I didn't feel like I had much of a life to go back to. "Perfect!" Kurt cried, "Now you have an opportunity to reinvent yourself!"

"Yeah," Mark piped up, "It's like what Burt Cooper said to Pete on that episode of Mad Men where he outs Don - 'A man is whatever room he is in.' You need to build another room. We can't afford to completely restock you, but this is a start. Pay us back sometime, or just consider it a gift,  but girlfriend got to get up offa the couch and carry on because this house ain't big enough for three!" He was working his neck like a black girl and I started to laugh,  which became great, wrenching sobs. I bawled for a couple of minutes but when it passed I felt better, clear headed. I was back, thanks to a cheesy TV quote and a good cry.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Where There's Smoke...

On second thought, I'm going to finish telling this story today so I can move on.

The next few weeks stuttered by. Finally the swap meet was just three days away. We were all so excited. Mark had called the wholesale client the previous week to see if she needed to replenish her inventory. She wasn't selling through our stock as quickly as she'd hoped, so that was a dead-end.

The night before the swap meet we were all too excited to sleep so we sat around in Kurt's apartment,  surrounded by stacks of inventory and display props ready for loading into the truck in the morning. Mark was staying over that night and even though I went next door to sleep, it still felt like a slumber party.

I fell into the arms of Morpheus at about one in the morning. I think I must have had vivid dreams but the one I remember was about the three of us barbecuing at Barney's - my old house. We were swimming in the pool, naked, but instead of being filled with water it was full of jello. We kept trying to swim through it but we kept sinking to the bottom of the pool and crawling along the bottom until we reached the shallow-end steps. We could breathe in the jello like it was air but it was making us cough. Harmony was screaming at us to "Get out of the pool! Get out!"

I awoke in a panic, my room was filling with smoke but I couldn't tell where it was coming from. I could see the light from the flames through my window as I lept out of bed. Oddly, I thought I could still hear Harmony yelling at me to "Get out!" I found out later it was Mark at the bedroom window trying to wake me up. Then my feet got tangled in the sheets and I went down, smacking my head so hard I saw stars.

It's funny how your mind works when you're in a crisis situation. It was like I was thinking on three channels at once but my mind expanded to focus on each channel completely and separately. Channel One was screeching like a little girl, "Get up off the floor, you crazy bitch, check to make sure you're wearing something. If not, grab your robe and run like hell!" Channel Two was barking orders like a General, "Hustle up, soldier! Laptop! Jewelry box!  LBD!  Manolos! Hup! Hup! Hup!" Channel Three was going all safety officer on me and was calmly spouting bits of how-to-survive-a-housefire advice, "Stop, Drop, and Roll!" "Check the door knob to see if it's hot before opening it." "The freshest air is near the floor so crawl out the house if you can't breathe."

You know how in that movie 'Over the Hedge' when Hammy was moving so fast that everything around him was going in super slo-mo? Well, that's what this was like. In one fluid motion I arose from the floor, one hand snagging the shoes by their jeweled little slingbacks where they lay peeking out from beneath the bed while the other hand shot out to retrieve my laptop from where it rested on the bedside table. As I stepped to the door I grabbed my dress from the hanger on the back of my door and scooped my jewelry box from the top of the bureau. Arms full of my most precious possessions, I touched the doorknob, testing it for heat. It was cool so I barreled into the front room, intending to sprint outside, but the room was full of smoke, much thicker than what I'd left behind in the bedroom. What's worse was that I could feel the heat from the fire.

Ok, now I'm starting to panic. Suddenly the front door crashes open and a fully-suited-up fireman bursts through.  I was screaming and he was grabbing me and trying to pull me through the door while I clutched my four possessions for dear life. I dropped my shoe as he was hustling me to the door. That's when I kinda lost it.  There was no way I was going to leave my Manolo behind. I kept screaming "Shoe!" "Shoe!" and pointing toward the floor. The guy must have figured it out because he reared back and kicked my shoe out the door like Sebastian Janikowski kicking the Raiders to victory. Then he hoisted me and my armload of stuff over his shoulder and carried us outside, accidentally banging my head on the doorjam on the way out. At least I think it was accidental.

The rest of the night was hazy. Adrenaline finally exhausted, I sat on a paramedics gurney, watching four apartments, our side of the eight-plex, burn to the ground. Funny but it wasn't until a few hours later that I realized that I hadn't even thought about my handbag, my cellphone, the portable file full of the evidence I'd so painstakingly gathered against Barney, and most egregiously,  my family cookbook.

So there I sat, homeless, with nothing to wear but a little black dress and an awesome pair of shoes. I had no idea what I was going to do next, but at least I was going to look great doing it.

The Great and Powerful LBD

The countdown to the next swap meet seemed to take forever. In between crafting seizures I answered job advertisements and went on interviews. I actually picked up a short-term thing helping this grouchy old woman organize her closets. She lived a mere 3 miles from me so I walked to and from her house. Might as well get a little exercise, right?

By this time I'd really dialed-in the being poor routine. There's quite an art to it. Thrift and resale stores are ok but yard sales are really where it's at for keeping the wardrobe in decent repair. My best score so far is a perfect Alaia lbd (little black dress) for $10 that fits like a dream. It had a broken zipper but Mark fixed that. Never underestimate the power of a killer lbd. If it's simple enough you can wear it date after date and no one will even notice that you only seem to own one dress.

I know I make it sound like no one ever asks me out but that's not true. It's more that my invitations are often so dismal I simply can't face the evening. I've honed my prospective-date-vetting skills to a sharp edge. Within five minutes of detecting that a reasonably attractive man has caught my scent, I know his general willingness to take me to dinner, the type of restaurant we'll likely visit, and his ability to pay. I'm fairly certain of his marital status, his fatherhood status, and whether or not I'll be expected to put out a little sumpin'-sumpin' in exchange for a second round of sushi at Nobu. Not that I would...unless he looked like George Clooney (well, a slightly younger George Clooney) but that has yet to happen.

It's not that I'm selfish, or a bad date or anything. I really try and make sure that the guy with the credit card gets his money's worth. I ask lots of questions about his job, stay current on general sports topics, and lean forward while hanging on his every word and shoveling expensive food into my mouth, all the while sprinkling the evening with my charmingly throaty laugh. If we're walking in public and I happen to be a little taller than he is, I'll hold myself very erect and glance down at him adoringly so that the other males who see us realize that short, slightly balding Barry-the-optometrist has a hot chick on his arm who maybe, just maybe, might rock his world later on tonight.

Usually Barry (or Ron-short-for-Myron, or whoever) gets a kiss and a free boob graze before being left at the door by the exhausted girl who must be up early tomorrow morning.
I sometimes, usually in fact, recieve another invitation from the besotted Barry but it's my policy to decline then make up a recently-returned-to-my-life ex-boyfriend if he calls a third time. It's not fair to lead men on, even if I am dying to try that new East Indian place up on Melrose.

Oh shoot, I've spent today's blogging time yammering on about my dating strategy instead of telling you about the awful thing that changed everything.  Ok, next post. I promise.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Careful, I've Got A Gluegun And I Know How To Use It!

We drove home from that first swap meet on a cloud of hope and good cheer. We were six weeks away from the next event and all aquiver with creative excitement. For the next few days we texted, pinned, and instagrammed ourselves silly, sharing ideas for new things to make. The big challenge was to come up with cool items that we could make without having to invest in a ton of expensive raw materials. We gleaned from our wardrobes. The boys donated old oxford cloth shirts and ratty denim jeans for making rolled fabric roses, while I found some moth-eaten angora sweaters that I figured we could use for something.

I was reluctant at first, but I finally phoned my mom, told her about our project, and asked for donations. I didn't want her to know how excited I was about it so I played it off like we were just having a bit of fun. She didn't have to know that the money I'd made a few days before allowed me to pay my cellphone bill on time and that the five bucks I saved by doing so actually mattered. A few days later I got a large fedex box crammed with her castoffs - junk jewelry, old belts, extra buttons in tiny plastic bags that had come with nice clothing. There were some other oddities like a bunch of tiny plastic princess style phones on ballchain that the phone company used to hand out and an ancient box of pipe cleaners that had belonged to my dad. It was stuck in the bottom of the shipping box and I had to shake it hard to dislodge it.

When the pipecleaners dropped out I caught a wiff of my father's pipe tobacco blend. It was like being suckerpunched. I started crying.

After I calmed down I began sifting through my mom's jewelry. That was really weird. There were some pieces I'd remembered from when I was a kid, like the jeweled peacock pin that I used to think was so elegant. There were also things of more recent vintage, much of it fairly hideous. I put a few pieces away, like the peacock pin, and a little goldtone dachshund on a chain sporting one blue rhinestone eye. I'd given that to Mom for Mother's Day when I was twelve, the year we got our dachshund puppy. Everything else was destined for the craft pile.

We kept to the category of fashion accessories. The neatly packed plastic containers began to fill with hair clips, jewelry, cosmetic bags, handbags, belts, hats, fascinators, and upcycled items..

Looking back, I see all that glorious stuff, so full of promise and hard work, and I want to cry all over again when I think of what happened next.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Why I Don't Facebook - Part Two

Oh, yeah, and I don't actually have any 'friends', except for Mark and Kurt. I already see about as much of those two as is healthy. Go ahead and call me a fag hag if you must, but with friends like those two, I really don't need another 674 'friends'. Get my drift?

Why I Don't Facebook

Notice that I've used 'facebook' as a verb, not a noun. I use facebook daily, it's a requirement of my new job (which I will get to eventually, I promise!) but I don't post photos of my cat, location updates complete with photos proving it, cutsie memes, or drunken rants about my personal life that I discover the next morning and quickly delete, hoping that no one has read/copied/shared already.

Did you know that facebook is the biggest and most powerful facial recognition software on the planet? It's true. Even the DoD and Homeland Security don't have better. Frequent posters leave a trail of breadcrumbs about their lives and whereabouts that can never be obliterated. It lives in the great 'cloud' of the internet, which is akin to Santa's list, as far as I can tell. They're making their list and checking it twice, people. Think about it.

But like I said, I use facebook every day, along with twitter, instagram, tumbler, pinterest, a host of lesser known social networks and, of course, that archaic but undead cryptkeeper of a network, MySpace.

The amount of personal, incriminating, vulnerable, and dangerous information that people continue to post, even after we've all finally gotten a clue, is staggering. Jeeze Louise, people are stupid animals.  God, if you're up there and listening, maybe you should have stuck with the dinosaurs and left bipedal hominoids on the drawing board.

A big part of  my every workday consists of research,  and most of that is accomplished through social media. I'm also, oddly enough, required to stay current with the print media, Star, National Enquirer, and People, specifically.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Before I can bring you up to speed on my job I need to finish the backstory.  So, back to crafts, the swap meet, and the conflagration that ruined everything.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Ventura Swap Meet - Part Two

I'm better now. Isn't it odd how sometimes memories walk right up and knock you on your ass? Back to the swap meet...

So we decided to gather up all the cutsie pinterest crap we'd made and get a booth at the swap meet. A premium spot is only fifty bucks. Split three ways it was actually doable, even for me. I hadn't realized just how many finished items we'd made. It was a mashup, true, but when we grouped it all together it made a pretty impressive display. Kurt suggested that we make everything functional somehow so all the flowers got pin-backs or were hotglued onto cheap headbands and barretts from the dollar store. The tiny wire-and-fake pearl bird's nests became pendants or earrings. Rolled magazine-page beads were fashioned into bracelets. You get the drift. After three days of polishing our product we were ready to attack the marketplace.

We got to the fairgrounds early and got set up under a popup canopy that we borrowed from Kurt's mother. Our theme was 'eclectic funky elegance' which was accomplished with yards of cheap tulle and glittery fabric bought for a dollar a yard at Home Fabrics, lots of mardi gras beads, fake pearl strands, and great bunches of peacock feathers one of Kurt's ex-lovers had left behind. We even set up a fabulous Venetian style mirror and set out a leopard-print fake Louis Quatorze chair.

And then...we waited. And we talked to tons of people, all of whom loved our stuff, but few of whom actually bought anything. The event was over at 2pm and by 1:30 we'd only sold $73 worth of junk. Other vendors were closing up shop, some had already left, and we were all sharing a nasty bad mood. The boys were beginning to snap at each other and I was getting ready to knock their well-coiffed heads together when this girl runs up dragging an older woman behind her. "Oh, thank god you're still here!" She cries,  "Mom, just look at this stuff! Isn't it perfect?" Then to us, "Do you wholesale?"

Our answer, natch, was "Why yes, little lady, we do!" We made a deal for nearly one-third of the stuff we'd brought for nearly $350. After paying for the space, giving Kurt a cut for gas, and buying ourselves celebratory macchiatos at Starbucks, we each walked with exactly $101.00. Needless to say, we were in another round of crafting frenzy by the following weekend.

The Ventura Swap Meet

Nothing too exciting happened for the next few weeks after I got fired from my shitty job, except that Mark and Kurt finally came up for air and invited me over for a barbeque. Ever since Kurt came into his life, Mark has been dressing like a regular guy. No more blue wigs and lingerie, at least not in public. He's actually kind of hunky and I'd almost be jealous except for that I seem to have more fun with the two of them together than I ever did with either of them alone. They are honest-to-god soulmates (ok, I'm getting close to the gag reflex but it is true, damn it!) and don't do the drama queen stuff. They're fun, but actually act like growups.

We were sitting outside on ratty lawnchairs, roasting chicken thighs on the Webber, and listening to me complain about money when Kurt jumped up and gasped "Oh my God! I've got the greatest idea! Let's do the Ventura Swap meet!" Ok, maybe he is 'un peu' swishy and dramatic, but honestly, it just adds to his charm.

The Ventura Swap Meet is a huge outdoor market that happens throughout the year at the Ventura Fair Grounds.  It's an awesome location right near the beach. I hadn't been there since 1985 when my friend Sandy's mother took us to a Grateful Dead show there. She was an old hippie and was always doing mildly inappropriate things around us kids. Not sexual or creepy but things like getting her wiccan friends over for a seance or smoking pot in the back yard when she thought we were asleep. I'm so glad my parents were clueless. If they knew the kind of stuff I was exposed to at Sandy's they would have forbidden me to hang out with her.

Sandy died in a car accident on Grad Night on the way to Disneyland  with three of our classmates. Oh shit, now I'm crying. I'll finish this post later.

Hummm...Where to start?

Today is exactly eight months since my last post. Eight long, strange months. So much has happened so, in the interest of continuity, I'll pick up where I left off and try to weave the crazy tale together in some cohesive way. Ok, flash back to the night of my pool party with Aurora...

I got a little tipsy (read that 'shit faced drunk') and slept outside on a poolside lounge. Aurora, god bless her, tossed a blanket over me and left an Evian and a bottle of Tylenol on the side table for me to find in the morning, along with a note telling me she'd put my handbag and stuff in the poolhouse. I caught a cab home, spending precious cash from my dwindling supply, and made the walk of shame to my apartment, without even the pink afterglow of random sex to blur the embarrassment.  How pathetic is that? I was met with another load of happy horseshit when I checked the messages. My disgusting pig of an employer called to tell me my services were no longer needed. No warning, no two-week notice, just "Yeah, uh, listen babe, don't come in tomorrow.  I think I got it from here. I'll mail you your check. Have a nice day!"

I know you can probably guess why he kicked me to the curb. He found a skanky new 'secretary' on craigslist who was apparently willing to put out to get the job. I know this because I decided to march right in that morning and demand my final check. In California, an employer is required to pay you immediately upon termination or they must pay you full wages for each day they wait. It probably would have been smarter for me to just wait then complain to the EDD. Anyhow, I took a shower, slapped on some makeup, hid what I couldn't fix behind my Jackie O sunglasses and walked to the office with my head held high and righteous determination gleaming in my bloodshot eyes.

I used my key and let myself in and there, sitting at my perfectly organized plastic-table-which-serves-as-a-desk, her big butt planted in my task chair, was 'Brandy', the human sex doll.  She was about five-two and thick, weighing in at about 140. Her damaged platinum blonde hair blended awkwardly into a a set of long, synthetic clip-in extensions. This broad had obviously never learned the art of blending makeup.  Her glittery eyeshadow was painted on in blue, taupe, and white stripes. A sharp line marked her jaw where the two-shades-too-light foundation abruptly stopped. The one thing she'd done right was lining her restylaned lips perfectly with red lipliner. Her lipstick, sadly, was pink.

Ok, I admit I'm probably hitting below the belt with this rant, but the bitch stole my job with her fake boobs. Cutting to the chase, I walked out with a check for $213.57, a total of $543.87 in unpaid bills in my purse, and $57.00 in the bank.

Believe it or not, it actually got worse before the miracle occurred that has changed my life, although I'm still not sure for the better.