Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I love giving gifties. It brings me joy to pick out a present for someone, to find something that I know they will like. For me, giving someone a gift shows the person that I care about them-- I was thinking of them, I know them, and I listen to them. I guess that makes gift giving one of my love languages, or however that's supposed to work.
Anyhow, I love giving gifts! So I would definitely continue to give my nieces and nephews presents either way, but receiving the thank-you notes they send me? Icing on the cake.

Remember the little basketty thing I bought Princess for her 11th birthday? Well she liked it!

I've also recently gotten a bunch of notes from my other nieces and nephews, for their Christmas gifties. It has been really fun for me to open my mailbox and find little kid-handwritten cards inside it.
I taped the notes up on my kitchen cabinets, and they make me smile every day. I love those kids dearly, and I love that they enjoy the presents I got them.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Spot on.

This is Elena (and me, obviously):
For some reason this was the only photo of her I could find on my computer, and it is from about five years ago. Not the best photo of me, but I had just graduated from my first master's program and we were out celebrating with family, friends, and pitchers of margaritas.

Elena and I met on the bus, on our way to middle school. After that first year of getting to know each other huddled around the heaters in our flimsy school uniforms, we (along with two other girls, who will get their own post sometime) spent three years carpooling, having sleepovers, and getting ready for school dances together. Elena and I remained friends throughout high school, even though she was definitely way cooler than me. We pretty much lost touch in college, but reconnected when she moved to LA. In the years that our time in LA overlapped, we would often meet up for brunch or lunch or breakfast or dinner or some other meal at any point in the day when we both happened to be hungry. Sometimes we would take her dog for a hike in Runyon Canyon or go shopping on Melrose or at the Beverly Center. Sometimes we would sneak into the fancy hotels and hang out at the pools and Elena always knew how to play it off so the management just accepted our presence. One time Elena hosted a Cinco de Mayo party at her house, complete with a piƱata.
Elena is one of those girls who could ACTUALLY pull off wearing a burlap sack and look killer in it. She does improv and standup and once actually got up on a stage and read her middle school diary in front of a crowd of people.

She also made this video:

This is essentially a documentary of my life there. Ah, the endless quest for parking. Seriously, it is SPOT ON. And, weirdly, it makes me miss LA.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


So. As I've mentioned, I've been trying my hand at online dating. It's been... interesting. If nothing else I've gotten an eye-opening lesson in the quality of single dudes out there. Not high quality, is what I've found so far. If I were to compare them to, say, dinner ingredients, I might tell you that you wouldn't want to make a formal meal with these guys as the entree. You'd boil them down to make guy stock for bullion cubes or deep fry them and dip them in ranch dressing. You wouldn't want to BRING OUT the flavor of these guys, is all I'm saying. You'd want to suppress it, and probably heavily season it. You'd probably want to have a few drinks with the meal in order to make it palatable, which, incidentally, is exactly what I've been doing on my recent dates. Not cannibalizing the guy, I mean. Drinking.

Uh, anyhow. A couple days ago I saw a profile that caught my eye. The guy seemed interesting enough and he made it through my fairly persnickety filtering system. And so I sent him a little message, just saying hi, and I think I might have also mentioned that I like his favorite book. Fascinating, I know, but I never know what to say in those messages.

Today I got an instant message from him. Perhaps you will remember that in the little section on my profile where it asks about the first things people notice about you, I wrote: "My hair, my tattoo, my wild hand gestures, my long-winded stories. My sparkling personality? I'm not going to put the thing most people REALLY notice about me on here, but if you meet me you'll know." Guys tend to be intrigued by this and often they do guess right away when the meet me, but sometimes I'll get a surprising answer like "It's your weird nose, isn't it?" Also, more than one guy has laughed and said that he thought maybe I had a wooden leg or something, no offense to any amputees out there.

This dude had a different idea.

Annnnd, scene.

This interaction might have bothered me if I had ANY EXPECTATIONS AT ALL OF HUMANITY ANYMORE. Which I don't. I have accepted that there are no good guys left. This guy just CONFIRMED WHAT I ALREADY KNEW.

If you need me, I'll be packing.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jaded Contingency Plan CDP

Awhile back, a loverly person sent me a Crappy Day Package. She told me it was to be opened on a VERY CRAPPY occasion, that I shouldn't even open the box unless I was feeling spectacularly crappy. So I held onto the box for weeks, using it as kind of a litmus test. I would ask myself: Is today crappy? Yes. But is it crappy ENOUGH for the big CDP? Maybe not.
And so the box stayed under my desk. It was nice to know I had it around, just in case I had an exceptionally crappy day. Kind of like a security blanket.

You know what's better than a security blanket? An ACTUAL blanket.
A bright, beautiful, cozy, cuddly SNUGGLE BLANKET.
I opened the box today, right after I got home from dinner. It was so worth the wait.

I went to dinner tonight with a group of gals from my school program. They are all really nice people. Lovely, really. But tonight, I left the group feeling... well, crappy. Because although I know I shouldn't compare my life to anyone else's and although I generally feel good about myself and happy with my life, being with that particular group of people brought me down a little bit. All of those gals passed their Giant Paper Things on the first try, graduated on time, took their board exams, and most of them have jobs already or are at least living settled-ish lives. Me? I spent 2011 learning that when you ASSUME, you make an ass out of yourself in front of the entire internet. I assumed I would pass my Giant Paper Thing on the first try, and ha ha ha that didn't happen. I assumed I would graduate in June and surprise! Nope. I assumed that I would take my board exam and I would have a job at least by December or January, and sigh, no. Not yet.

(Have I mentioned that I am taking my board exam in February? I'm parenthesizing this because I feel like the Universe has been doing a bit of excessive smiting of me recently, so I'm trying to fly under the radar here. I am certainly studying my ass off and hoping that I pass the exam on the first time, but no need to smite me for being cocky, Universe, for I know now not to just EXPECT that I will pass. After I finished Giant Paper Thing v 2.0, I was cautiously optimistic-- BUT I had a contingency plan in case I did not pass the second time. So. If I don't pass my board exam the first time, well I guess I'll find out when I can take it again, study even harder, and take it again. Maybe I'll have to look for a non-NP job while I study, or even move back in with my parents, but the point here is that my life will go on and things will be okay, even if they're not exactly as I planned. Planning, it seems, is what leads me to make an assume out of myself.)

Also at dinner tonight was the necessary telling of the breakup story, since most of these gals had not seen me since 'graduation' in June. So I told them about my breakup, and about how I've been on so many bad dates recently that it's like a douchebag convention. I don't know why I didn't anticipate it, but this led to the inevitable "Oh don't be cynical, you'll find him!" and "You've got plenty of time!" and "You should just concentrate on yourself for now" comments. I love these ladies-- they are all really nice and smart and whatnot and I know their hearts were in the right place, but if there is one thing I hate it is BEING TOLD HOW TO FEEL ABOUT SOMETHING. I would like to just be allowed to feel how I feel and have that be okay. I don't need anyone to try to fix it, and I ESPECIALLY don't need anyone telling me that the way I feel is wrong.
"Maybe you shouldn't be looking so hard for someone right now." I'm not desperately searching for Mr. Right at this precise moment. Right now I'm playing the field. If I meet someone amazing, great. If I don't, that's fine. I've been a little disheartened recently by the dating pool as it seems to be overwrought with asshats, but I tell those stories because I think they are funny and entertaining, not because I need you to tell me "Just stop looking and it'll happen!"
And the kicker is that I didn't even think I sounded that emo or cynical when I talked about that stuff. Maybe it is because this group of people didn't see me when I was heartbroken, sad, and angry, so they interpret Contingency Plan Julia as jaded and woeful. I feel like I'm being smart. The last thing that I want is to be waiting around to meet someone until it's too late for me to biologically have babies. I'm not saying that I have some deadline in mind, but I'm realizing that it is possible that I won't get married and I'll be damned if that means I'm giving up on my dream of having children. If finding a dude who I can stand and who wants the same things as me doesn't pan out, well then maybe I'll have to go a different direction-- maybe once I've worked for a couple of years I'll have babies by myself or maybe I'll become a foster or adoptive mom. That's not a defeatist attitude, it's realistic. But apparently it comes across as cynical and give-uppy when coupled with a breakup story, several anecdotes about douchey guys, AND a currently not-yet-employed status.

Bah. Whatever. Maybe I am jaded. But I do have a new blankie that makes me feel nice and warm in my hollow tin chest.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dollhouse Love

My 10 year old niece got a cell phone for Christmas. I, her 29 year old aunt, got a dollhouse. No, really.

This is from a post a couple years ago that I think should illustrate why I love dollhouses so much:
My grandmother built my dollhouse and I remember it being spectacular. I think I probably remember it as more spectacular than it actually was. But that is because I loved it so much.

It lived at my grandma's house and I played with it pretty much every time I went over there. So, a lot. I would make up stories and scenarios for the dolls. I would arrange them in the various rooms. I would make extra things for the house-- a mailbox made out of a clothespin, a tiny drawing to hang on the wall. I would act out the storybooks my grandma read to me. I would take out all the furniture and things and use my grandma's cleaning products to scrub the carpet and clean the floors and then I would put the furniture back in and arrange everything nicely.

My grandmother died when I was 12 and I was devastated. I miss her more than I can accurately describe. She was really the only person I was completely myself around, when I was younger. I know our relationship would be different if she were alive today. I know that I would never appreciate her more than I did when I was a child.
I'll spare you the rest of the post, which basically describes how I was SOBBING HYSTERICALLY when I found the remnants of my dollhouse furniture mixed in with the rest of my nieces' and nephews' toys. The post was written right around the time of THIS, so I think it is safe to assume that my emotions were all over the place and I may have been expressing some displaced anguish. But. My dollhouse was a big part of my childhood. In some ways I guess I considered it a physical object that represented my relationship with my grandmother. Dollhouse = LOVE.
I was devastated when my grandmother died, devastated again when the dollhouse broke into pieces, and devastated again when I found out that the pieces had been either lost or thrown out over the years. The furniture was all I had left, and so I was happy to see it again, but also disappointed and sad that so much of it had been broken or lost.

In November, my mom and I went to the antiques faire to do some Christmas shopping. We spotted a very sweet dollhouse at one of the stands and went over to admire it.
"It's so cute," my mom said.
"I love it," I said.
We admired it some more and then went about our business. My mom bought a fancy chess set for my dad for Christmas, I bought a couple Breyer horses for my nieces.
"That dollhouse really was cute," my mom said.
"It REALLY was," I said.
"I think maybe you need a new dollhouse."
"I think maybe I do!"

And so, Christmas morning, I came out to the living room and found this by the tree:

Dollhouse = LOVE.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Winter Holiday Potpourri

I say Winter Holiday not to be politically correct, but because there were two (for me): Christmas and New Year's. Well, and Kwanzaa. I always wish people a Happy Kwanzaa on December 26th; it's the first day, you know.
I had a really really lovely visit with my family over Christmas. After recent endeavors, I'd been in need of a palate-cleansing couple of weeks of just good clean family fun. And family fun there was. We did all sorts of outings, eatings, and hangin at my parents' house. The kids got together and built a rather elaborate jumps course in the back yard, where they spent HOURS pretending to be horses and, well, jumping.
Most of them have Nintendo DSs and a couple have Kindle Fires, so it was quite nice to see that their favorite thing to do was playing an outdoorsy running-around-together game. There were only a couple spectacular crashing falls. And sometimes one of them would yell "Refusal!" and then skitter sideways, giggling.


My nephew got a remote control helicopter for Christmas. It looked like this one (but I suspect it was a cheaper version).
Two of my brothers in law held and impromptu competition to see who could fly the helicopter, hover it, lower the grappling hook, and pick up the basket better. One of my bros in law flew the helicopter right into the wall and then hovered it over a vat of gravy as the rest of us, as though in slow-motion, yelled NOOOOOOO and tried to save the gravy. And my other bro in law flew the helicopter directly behind him, into the living room (which is full of breakable knicky knackies and decorative ceramic items), and impaled it in my mom's antique Japanese screen above the piano.
"That's an OUTSIDE toy," said my mom.


I wrapped some of my gifts in Flip & Tumble bags, and some in pretty scarves from the flea market. I thought they looked very festive.
My sister was teasing me about my Hippied Out San Franciscan Eco Friendly wrapping paper and I told her I couldn't hear her ALL THE WAY UP HERE ON MY HIGH HORSE.


I went out with Jenny and a couple of her good friends on New Year's Eve Eve. It was probably my favorite New Year's celebration of recent memory. Because: whenever I have gone out on ACTUAL NYE I've always come back semi-disappointed. It has always felt like it should be a bigger deal and more FUN than it really was. And it's hard to find a bar that is cool but that isn't overly crowded or charging a ridiculous cover. And it's a pain to get there and to get home afterward. Anyhow, going out the night before solved all of those problems-- it was lots of fun and I didn't have unrealistic expectations, it wasn't overly crowded or expensive, and it was easy to get there and get home. We had a fantastic time and Jenny managed to make some guy who was trying to hit on her cry. In her defense, he did have a chin-strap beard. A CHIN-STRAP BEARD. One of the international signs for douchebag.

On actual NYE I spent the evening at my parents' house, eating Chinese food and playing board games with my nieces. By midnight I was in a bubble bath, book in hand.


I have finally found a game I can beat my nieces at. Good old TABOO! Every other game they wipe the floor with me. They have this one game that's about the states and capitals and whoever has the most cards at the end wins. They all end up with fifteen or so and I'm over here with my sad four little cards. They even beat me at Fact or Crap and they didn't even know how to pronounce most of the historical occurrences or famous people that the game references.


After New Year's, I took a two-day road trip with my sister and her kids to help her move into their new house. After many hours of (me) driving we arrived at the house to find that there was no hot water. My bro in law was out of town, but he kept sending his friends over to 'fix' the water heater, which involved them doing things like... flipping the circuit breaker while I watched and exasperatedly thought I TRIED THAT. WHAT ELSE YA GOT? Other things I tried to get the water heater to work: flipping the circuit breaker multiple times, breaking into my bro in law's tool box to find a wrench and opening the panel on the water heater and pressing the red reset button, glaring at the water heater, cursing at the water heater. Two days of this and then we finally had a professional come out. He did a satisfying amount of work on the water heater-- yanking out hunks of metal and scary-looking charred bits-- so my sister and I felt justified in having a professional come look at it instead of just waiting for her husband to get back into town on Friday (aka, the day before the weekend, when they probably would have had to wait until MONDAY to have a professional come out).
My sister also ordered a new fridge, which arrived on Tuesday. The delivery man heaved the thing all the way from the truck and into the kitchen and then he told me "Oh. It's not gonna fit." Apparently my sister and I neglected to incorporate the baseboards into our measurements of the fridge's space. I had no way of reaching my sis or her husband (they were both at work) and the delivery man was about to leave me with a fridge standing in the center of the kitchen and an extension cord running to the wall, AND there wouldn't be anyone to accept the delivery of different fridge on a different day, or pick out a new fridge for that matter, since they live in a wee tiny town and stores tend to close early. So I made an executive decision and, well, nobody needs to know what may or may not have happened to the baseboards but let's just focus on the fact that the fridge fits now. It FITS.


I participated in Doing My Best's Crappy Day Present Exchange, which was super fun all around: I had fun answering the survey questions, I had fun shopping for my little gifties and sending them off, and I had fun receiving CDPs and opening them when I had a crappy day. Apparently I was not so good at chronicling the buying, wrapping, sending, receiving, or opening of the CDPs like a good little blogger, but FUN. It was fun. And I still have one CDP that I'm holding onto for a particularly crappy occurrence.


Bowie is an indoor cat all around, but for some reason at my parents' house he THINKS he wants to go outside. Maybe it's because he sees the birds and whatnot, maybe he's jealous of the other indoor/outdoor cats, who knows? But I can tell you that he doesn't ACTUALLY want to be an outside cat because (1) he currently lives like a king and I'm certain he doesn't want to give that up, and (2) whenever he does get out he mostly hides under the porch.
The kids have gotten better at keeping the doors closed, so Bowie hasn't gotten out at my parents' house in a year or so. On the day that I was about to leave he apparently snuck out the one screenless open window in the house and I didn't even REALIZE it until two of my nieces ran into the house and shrieked that Bowie was outside, headed for the ravine. We all leaped into action; the kids grabbed flashlights and ran out to corral Bowie before he made it to the (full of coyotes and poison oak and who knows what else) ravine, and I stomped out to front door to get my sweatshirt from the car because if I was going to be hunting for my cat all night, I was at least going to be WARM. I got my sweater out of the car, turned around, and THERE WAS BOWIE just sitting under the open window (I think he had run away from all the shouting and flashing lights). I took a flying leap at him, missed as he ran into the bushes, but did manage to bruise up both my knees and twist my ankle. He ran out of the bushes, toward the porch (of course), and I grabbed him by the tail.
As a poison oak precaution (and the girls' reward for helping retrieve him) Bowie got a bath.
Maybe that'll learn him to STAY INSIDE.