There have been way too many signs lately that I am completely and finitely an adult – besides the number attached to my last birthday.  Despite that ugly number, we still like to think we are young and hip, or slammin’ or whatever more appropriate slang is used by today’s youth.  But alas, there are too many other factors at play in my daily life that suggest I am no longer young, hip or slammin’.  And most of them have to do with a preoccupation with cleaning things.

1)  I just realized the other day that the best Christmas present I received in 2010 was. . .  wait for it. . . a vacuum cleaner.  That I bought for myself.  That’s right, I love something that has the word “cleaner” in the title.  What’s more, I consider this something a “present.”  You might as well slap an apron on me, stick me in 1955 and call me Ethel.  But seriously, this thing is amazing!!!  Amazing!  This vacuum is life changing – slammin’ even – like the first time I ate chocolate ice cream on a hot summer’s day.  My eyes are now open and I can’t believe I lived in the dark for so long!

This isn’t just any old vacuum – I bought myself a Dyson DC25 All-Floors cleaner with “ball” technology.  It is the king of all vacuums and I bow at its clean and dirt-less thrown.  I marvel at its’ unique suction technology and drool over its ability to glide across carpeted and non-carpeted floors alike.  I hate to vacuum, but this machine has officially made me a convert – how pathetic am I?

2)  Do you remember that movie A Walk in the Clouds?  With Keanu Reeves set right after WWII?  (I just looked it up on IMDB to see what year it was released – 1995!!!  I can’t believe it came out that long ago!  That proves my point about being old right there.)  Anyway, its a great movie even if it is 16 years old.  It was on TV yesterday and I watched it out of the corner of my eye as I dried my hair.  In the movie, there is this epic, romantic scene where all the couples are stomping grapes to make wine.  And  then they playfully start throwing the smashed grapes at each other.  And the light is filtering in through the trees as bits of grape and juice fly through the air in slow motion.  And the main couple – Keanu and some Spanish actress – get pushed together and pulled apart so they can’t quite kiss or touch, but you know they want to.  You know. . .that scene.  Have you seen it?  Its pretty great.

Anyway, after all the pushing and pulling in the grape juice, they run back to their room in the dark wood mansion to the bed with the beautiful white linen sheets where the night before they were pretending to be married but aren’t really and its all very romantic and secretive and sexy – I feel like I’m 16 again just writing this.  But you know what I was thinking yesterday as I watched it – not about romance or sex or how ridiculously good-looking the couple is – I was thinking they are going to ruin those beautiful white sheets with all that grape juice!  Seriously – strip first people then lay on the bed!  Grape juice will not come out and you just know her poor grandmother – poor, old abuela – will have to wash them by hand because its 1946 and they barely have electricity on this old vineyard let alone a washing machine.  Then, as they started kissing on the bed (grinding the grape juice even more into the sheets!)  I started to think about how exactly you get grape juice out – is there a trick?  I should consult Martha Stewart.

3) And reason number three I know I am now old:  I actually said the other day in a restaurant “Why is it so loud in here?”  AHHHHHHHHHH!!!  Its over.  Goodbye sweet youth.

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Most of you know that I travel far and wide daily, braving the treacherous LA freeway system that includes not only pot-hole ravaged asphalt, over-turned, on-fire, oil-spilling semis, and tire shards that spontaneously fly out from under the car in front of you, hitting your windshield and scaring that morning’s coffee out of you, but also all kinds of road ragers.  I can definitively say that I have slipped blindly into the dreaded mindset that is road rage; but traveling 50 miles one way to work for the last 3 1/2 years will do that to a girl.  I am, like the thousands of the other people that surround me on the 60 Fwy each morning, a commuter.

But I digress. . .

I learned a very important lesson the other day as a commuter – possibly the most important lesson I’ve learned under this title that I’ve held for a while now:  Don’t lose your keys at work.  This seems like a fairly obvious statement, a statement of fact that can even be broadened to “Don’t lose your keys anywhere.”   But sometimes the fates force us to remember the most evident of facts in horrific ways.

The lesson started on a normal Wednesday night when I decided to leave work a little early.  This was mistake number one.  My husband leads a bible study on Wednesday nights, so I typically have the house all to myself.  An extra 30min would allow me to stop by the gym on my way home and still preserve my night of solitude.  On my way out of the building, I ran into a co-worker who, while very nice, is a bit of a talker.  You all have that one co-worker who you steer clear of in the hall or avoid eye-contact while leaving for lunch because once they get talking, nuclear bombs must be detonated in order for them to stop.  Anyway, afraid of losing my 30min head start home, I dug through my purse for my keys 5 min into the conversation with said co-worker.  Upon taking them out, I announced I had to run and started to leave.  Mistake number two.

With keys in hand, I stared towards the elevator that leads to the underground parking garage.  Now, I’m not sure how this next part happened.  I don’t think I tripped.  I don’t think the elevator doors hit my arm by mistake.  There wasn’t a dog or raccoon or bird that knocked them out of my hand.  But when you do something this stupid, everyone wants to know how it happened.  As I entered the elevator, the keys somehow slipped from my hand, fell in-between the small crack where the doors open and close, and down the shaft.  Its like it happened in slow-motion.  Or didn’t happen at all.  I saw them go down, but honest to goodness, my first reaction – after reaching for them wildly – was to get in the elevator and hit my floor.  It was that unbelievable to me.  With all the space around they could have landed, they landed on the crack.  I’m still slightly flabbergasted.

Even though I had just seen my keys fall into what I could only assume was a bottomless pit, my only thought was that I had lost my 30min lead.  Oh well.  I headed back inside to security with my tail between my legs to announce my stupidity.  I figured they would radio someone who would have my keys out in an hour tops.  Radio someone they did; however, that someone apparently is on some swing shift schedule as he had gone home at 3:00!  What good does that do anyone?  Or at least me who needed her keys out of the pit at 5:30?  Apparently, Disney has all elevator related emergencies between the hours of 6:00am and 3:00pm.

As the security guard relayed the news that my keys would not be released from the depths of hell until the next morning, I’m sure I stood there wide-eyed, with my mouth hanging open, completely at a loss for words.  The polite man asked if there was someone who could take me home.  I said – a little too loudly and hysterically upon reflection – that I live 50 miles from Burbank and no one I know lives my way.  My mind reeled – do I sleep here?  Do I ask to sleep at a co-worker’s house?  Do I sleep in my car?  Wait, I can’t even get in my car because I have no keys!  I decided to call my husband as the security guard called around to see if anything else could be done for the poor, stupid, clumsy girl who apparently has no control over her extremities.

Anyway, after many calls to numerous people (and many co-workers who stopped on their way out of the building to ask exactly how I had dropped my keys down the elevator shaft – sometimes it just happens and you don’t know how!!!), it was decided that my brother would drive to my house, get my spare key, and then drive the hour or so to Burbank.  Round trip, about 3 hours for him.  God bless my brother.

As I was heading back to my office to wait for my brother, my old office-mate remembered that someone in the building lived in my town!  Excellent!  And he hadn’t left yet!  Even more excellent!  So I ended up leaving the office at 6:50pm with a complete stranger. Woo Hoo – I was headed home!  About 90min after I intended and sans car keys, but you know, not sleeping at the office was a good thing at this point.  You would think this is where my troubles would end.  Not so much.

The nice stranger dropped me off at around 8:20pm.  I’m cold.  I’m starving.  And I have to pee (shocking, I know).  I realize my next hurdle to jump, naturally, was getting inside the house.  I knew my husband had hidden a key on the ledge above our porch, I just hadn’t anticipated how high the ledge was.  My husband is tall, but it still baffles me that he managed to reach this ledge.  So there I am – in the dark because our porch light isn’t on and shivering because I don’t have a jacket – standing precariously on the arm chair that decorates our front porch, trying to reach this damn key.  I tried for literally 20min to get this thing down, using everything from my shoe to a rose bush branch to knock it from its perch.  Finally, I heard the key clang to the ground and breathed a brief sigh of relief.  Brief because I realized I had no idea where the key had landed in the darkness that surrounded me.  The part of the ledge where the key was perched was directly over where the cement meets the bushes.  The key was most likely in the bushes!!!!  It was at this point, at about 8:40pm, that I started to cry.  To be fair, I am one of those people who cry more when they are frustrated or angry and not as much when they are sad.  If we are ever in an argument, don’t be surprised if I am yelling at you through tears (its actually a very ugly thing to witness and I hope none you have to experience it).

So – crying now – I immediately did what any good 21st century girl would do:  took out my cell phone to use as a flashlight.  However, my non-iphone phone was apparently not bright enough to even inspect the back of my hand, let alone the bushes that surround our porch (I have since purchased an iphone).  With my useless “flashlight” in hand and tears streaming down my face, I searched on hands and knees for another 20min.  Keys were getting the better of me that night, but hell if I’d let them defeat me!!!  But, at about 9:00pm, I sat down on the chair, about ready to throw in the towel and wait for my husband to come home.

It was at this point that my cat walked up the front steps to the porch.  She decided to sit down on the other side of the front door, the complete opposite side from where the key had dropped.  I walked to her (because she wouldn’t come to me when I called – stupid, strong-willed cat) and it was when I was right in front of her that I heard the most glorious sound – the clang of a key under my foot!  I immediately dropped to all fours again and scooped the key off the ground.  Instead of the bushes – which were directly under its perch – it had landed 10 feet away in the corner of the porch.  On the cement!  Even more frustration but relief washed over me as I quickly stuck the key in my front door and barreled towards the bathroom.  At 9:05 – 3 1/3 hours after my ordeal started – I was home.

Lessons learned from this mishap:

Never take keys out of purse before entering or exiting elevator

If you are going to have an elevator emergency, do it before 3:00pm

Remember name of helpful stranger

Hide key where the possibility of retrieving it exists

I don’t understand this movie trailer.  First of all, didn’t this movie come out two years ago but with Anne Hathaway instead of Ginnifer Goodwin?  And secondly, why does it look like no one in this film is in love with John Krasinsky?  I will have to suspend a heck-of-a lot of belief if John Krasinsky plays the wacky, platonic best friend.  I’m just saying. . .

 

This weekend, I am trapped in Mammoth – I mean on vacation in Mammoth – with my in-laws.  It is snowing buckets outside (can I use that phrase with snow, or only with rain?).  Literally feet upon feet of snow is falling from the sky out there!  And there is wind too.  Gusts and gusts of wind.  Making it impossible to go outside to enjoy oneself.  So I am stuck.  Inside.  With my in-laws.  Not really enjoying myself.  If I wasn’t a wuss girl from California, I would be outside in the 10 degree weather doing anything else.  But because of my inability to withstand freezing temperatures – damn you California weather! – I am stuck inside listening to my husband, his father, and his two uncles fight while they attempt to “enjoy” themselves over a game of Risk.  This is honest to goodness the dialogue that is going on behind me:

“There are a lot of stupid things you can do in this game, but taking Africa right now is about the stupidest I can think of.”

“Why is everyone gaining up on me.  I’ll take Germany if you don’t watch yourself!”

“Why are we fighting?  You guys need to shut up and play the game!”

“Its impossible to play when everyone decides to invade my countries and get me out after two turns!”

(the above should have written in all caps to truly express the palpable anger in the room)

Anyways, Risk arguments aside, I had two apifanies this morning during my forced confinement:

First of all, in-laws are kind of an outdated concept in today’s modern culture.  Hear me out on this one.  I mean, you fall in love with this man, pledge to spend the rest of your life with him, and suddenly you become a bona fide member of his crazy family.  As if putting up with the crazy in your own family isn’t enough.  Now you have to spend every holiday, celebration and, yes the occasional vacation, with this surrogate family.

I think the joining of two families made way more sense in the old days.  Lets consult my completely made-up case study:  Family #1 owns a farm and finds themselves short on cows.  Family #2 has cows, but needs more pigs, which are busting at the seams on Family #1’s farm.  So, Family #1 and #2 hitch-up their daughter and son, exchange some livestock, and everyone is happy.  The families may have to put up with some crazy, but now they have their cows.  Crazy in exchange for cows was just logical back then.  I may have gotten a wonderful husband when I got hitched, but I didn’t get any cows.  Just the crazy.

Secondly, I think I’ve pinpointed the main reason holidays are so intense:  they revolve around a meal where typically more than one family member is contributing.  This was proven this morning when it took 5 people – 50% of the total number of people on this vacation mind you – to cook some eggs and a few waffles.  What was supposed to be a lovely breakfast on a cold winter’s morning transformed into all out world war 3 when the waffle maker refused to heat-up, Uncle Dean put onions in the scrambled eggs, and someone made the coffee using 5 tablespoons of grounds instead of 4 (the horror!).  Why is it always the most mundane, everyday things that families chose to fight over?  I can’t remember a more stressful meal that didn’t fall between late November and late December.  Families can be stressful a certain percentage of the time and cooking can be stressful at times, but put them together and things are stressful 100% of the time.  I am not looking forward to dinner!!

The following is an intereptation of my feelings that it is Friday as displayed by business people who are dancing to the song “Shout” by the Isley Brothers:

The guy on the far right looks a little like NPH, no?  He’s suited up at least.

A few days ago, as I made my long trek into work, I drove up next to a van with the words “Urgent Blood Transport” written in white across the back windshield.  Now I normally wouldn’t think anything of this phrase had it been posted on the side of, oh I don’t know, an ambulance-looking vehicle of some sort.  But no.  This was a 96′ Dodge Caravan that looked like it had been beat-up from the inside out by an entire team of  ten-year-olds on their way to soccer practice.  Not only that, but the lettering on the back couldn’t have looked less official (unless maybe written on a post-it or scrap grocery receipt found at the bottom of my purse).  The white letters looked to have been purchased at the Home Depot and had been dealt the same blows from the pack of ten-year-olds as the minivan itself.  Lets just say, I would definitely not want any of my blood transported in this vehicle, let alone urgently. 

So, with my interest at an all time high for 7:15 in the morning, I decided to drive past the van to see who was driving this apparent vehicle of deceit.  This did nothing to calm my fears about the safety and sterility of the substances inside the van, as the driver was SO obviously a vampire.  My mind did not immediately jump to this conclusion, however, as society has now taught us that the vampires of today are supposed to be brooding, beautiful and sparkly.  This guy, on the other hand, looked like he had spent a raucous night in his buddy’s basement with a 12 pack of Budweiser, at least two joints (maybe three), and a breathtaking game of quarters.  He looked to be about 42, was wearing a dirty white undershirt, had long, stringy hair and had very, very pale skin (not exactly the vampire of teenage dreams).  Once again, maybe I could have excused the appearance of the van if the driver had been wearing, oh I don’t know, some sort of uniform – something more official looking than the uniform normally worn by drunken car mechanics. 

This got me thinking about an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (or maybe it was Angel), when it was discovered that some of the local vampires were high-jacking blood as it was transported between hospitals.  Then it clicked!  The white skin.  The stringy hair.  The thinly veiled attempt to impersonate a hospital official.  This guy was totally a vampire!  But not one of the vampires that sell movie tickets and make the cover of Us Weekly – this was a real vampire who was totally jacking the blood of MY local hospital.  I didn’t know what to do.  Should I call 911?  Should I attempt to run him off the road?  So I did what any sane person would do in such a predicament – I took out my cell phone and tried to snap a picture of his van so I could show my husband later.  As I searched for my phone, the fake blood transporter started exiting the freeway and was gone.  I did not call 911.  I did not run him off the road.  I did not take his picture (not that he would have showed up in the print because, hello, vampire).  Instead, I let a very cunning (well, not that cunning being as I saw right through his ploy to appear human, but still – he’s trying) vampire out into the world to steal his next batch of blood.  If someone in my town ends up being brutally murdered by a vampire (or even dies because they do not receive their blood transfusion), it is totally on my head!

We can all agree that this is horrible, right?  I mean, come on!  You are a beautiful, thin actress who can wear just about anything and it will look amazing on you (not mention that you most likely had a gaggle of designers begging you to wear their dresses for this night), but instead you choose (for the Oscars nonetheless), a dress that looks like you traveled to Sesame Street, handed the local tailor your designer dress, asked him to shave Snuffleupagus, dye the hair the color of Barney the dinosaur and sew it onto the bottom of the dress.  I just don’t understand the madness of this decision!

It must be said that I diligently tried to think of a clever title for this post, but my mind kept returning to the word “stupid” and I just couldn’t get past it.  This in turn reminded me of the now infamous Hagen family tale when my mother was bragging to some friends about how polite and respectful her children were, especially to each other.  As if in an effort to showcase my mother for the hypocrite that she apparently was, I, at the bossy/violent age of 6, chose this exact moment to pick up a handful of marbles from the chinese checkers set that lay between my brother and I, and proceed to chuck them in the direction of his passive/naive 4-year-old face screaming, ” You’re stupid!”  Timing has always been my strong suit.  It was from this point on that my mother stopped bragging about her well-behaved children.

So, getting back to the point – what was the point?  Oh yeah:  I believe that 3D is indeed stupid – as my brother inevitably was all those years ago – and I would definitely throw chinese checkers at it if I could.  To clarify, I am talking about the newest rendition of 3D – the so-called “amazingly realistic” rendering of Avatar, Alice and Wonderland, etc – and not the “blue and red glasses” 3D experience of yore (for those of you keeping track, the 1980s heretofore shall be known as “yore”).  That 3D was pretty much awesome sauce.  Pretty much.  Do you remember Captain EO?  Sorry for the ridiculous question – of course you remember Captain EO.  Things popped out at you, objects went flying through the air, and Angelica Houston, with her long, freaky-freaky black fingernails, reached out from the screen and gently stroked the tender skin of my adolescent cheek.  It is this very  freakishness that sticks with me today and made the 3D of yore worth wearing the silly, flimsy, cardboard glasses. 

In contrast, the 3D of today, for the most part, provides no such experience and is completely devoid of the awesomeness of my youth.  First of all, the 3D of today is bossy.  Yes bossy.  It puts into focus exactly what it wants you to look at while the background is blurry or extremely hard to look at.  Have you noticed that?  If I want to look at something in the background that is not the highlighted object of the director’s choice, I have to literally use all that is within me to force my eyes to focus on the background. . . and it really hurts the eyes!  WTheck?  Why should my eyes be punished for wanting to explore the screen and the world that has been created?  It’s rubbish I tell you – directors trying to boss around my eyes.  Being a master of film, I understand that directing the eye is all part of being a brilliant film director, but never before have I been punished for seeing through their dirty tricks to get me to focus on one section of the screen.

Secondly, the glass are a big fat nuisance.  Now that they are plastic and heavier, they slowly start to slide down my nose 30 minutes into the film.  So instead of being drawn into the film, as 3D claims to do, I am consistently forced back into the harsh reality of the theater that surrounds me as I dwell upon how annoyed I am to be wearing the glasses.  And I wear glasses all the time – reading, sun, etc – I’m wearing them right now.  But for some reason, those damn 3D glasses do not fit my head/nose correctly.

Thirdly, the 3D of today doesn’t provide enough of a “wow” factor to make it worth the extra bucks that need to be shelled out at the theater (unless you are me and get to see them for free – and even that price is too high).  The tiny flecks of snow and ash that fall in front of your face in Avatar are not worth the extra 5 bucks per ticket nor the 3 hours of wearing those stupid glasses (the glasses really annoy me if you can’t tell).  My money is better spent on a film where I can look at everything on the screen and don’t have to practically duct tape a silly pair of glasses to my head in order to enjoy the film. 

I understand that 3D is the newest fad and that everyone thinks its amazing and bluh, bluh, bluh.  I for one choose to shun the 3D of today.  Shun on!  I hear Captain EO is back – I think I need to visit DLand and have my adult face stroked by Ms. Houston for nostalgia sake (that sounds dirty, but you know what I mean).

Is this really news? I heard his mother’s, next door neighbor’s plumber is sick too, but you don’t see anyone writing about that!

Picture this:  Its Sunday night.  Late Sunday night.  And its summer.  I sit in front of the TV, mindlessly scanning through the channels, completely aware that nothing is going to be on–because, once again, it’s a late Sunday night in the middle of summer–yet I continue to completely reject this desolate reality in the the hopes that something will catch my eye.   And suddenly – something does!  Its Dawson Leery (aka James Van Der Beek)!  Here to save me from my boredom!  I continue to watch with the hope that Pacey can’t be too far behind.  I can’t exactly tell what I am watching at this point or why it is even on television, when all of a sudden Luke Perry (aka Dylan McKay) walks on camera!  No freaking way!  Two former heart-throbs on the same show/mini-series/made for TV movie -whatever it is.  My heart is a flutter at the thought of these two stars from my childhood appearing in the same film. . .  and yet sadden by how far they have fallen on their road to stardom that they are appearing in a non-descript, middle of summer TV movie/snuff film/soft-core porno (seriously, I still have no idea what it was).  I continued to watch for about 10 minutes, until I decided sleep was a better option, and this is what I gathered from those 10, riveting minutes of television:

-This “film” (we’ll call it this until officially classified) is about weather.  I gathered this much from a few different clues:  first of all, it was raining. A lot.  And every character seemed to be very concerned about the allotment of rain that was pouring from the sky; second, there were two scientist-like people pacing back and forth in front of large monitors that displayed weather maps saying things like “It appears to be headed towards Florida” and “There’s no way we can stop a pressure build up like that.” ; and third, my TiVo told me the movie was called The Storm. Way to go for the super original title NBC!

-The characters were trying to control the weather.  I don’t know why they wanted this elusive power that is typically left in the hands of Mother Nature and Storm from X-Men, but the scientist-like people were working out of a room that looked like it belonged to NASA and you could just tell that they were once in control, but had lost it somewhere along the line.  Houston, we have a problem. 

-Dawson plays a scientist (because he was wearing glasses – natch) and Mr. Perry plays the bad guy because he was wearing a trench coat.  Normally, I would associate the trench coat with a private eye or detective-like character, but since he had poor Dawson Leery tied to a chair and was attempting to get some kind of info from him (weather related I presume), I deduced that trench coat = bad guy on the Storm set.

-James Van Der Beek has gotten hotter; this may have been because I was always partial to Pacey.  Everyone looks hotter when they’re not standing next to Pacey.   And poor Luke Perry has gotten old (I checked – he’s 44)!  Poor “I’m a rebel yet sensitive” Dylan looked very weathered to say the least (pun totally intended).  

-Treat Williams (of Everwood fame) looks way better with a beard.  He played the evil Billionaire who funded the little weather experiment that was out of control.  Good ole Treat (seriously, is that a name?) was sans beard for this little dog and pony show and it was almost horrifying.  Not as horrifying as all that unruly weather, but still. 

-And the most important thing that I learned from watching 10 minutes of The Storm on NBC:  Don’t F$%& with mother nature!!  She will always win.  (Which I basically learned from watching Jurassic Park, but its always nice to have a refresher). 

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