Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Walk of Shame.... Or Not

This morning at 9:20 I arrived home wearing the same clothes I wore yesterday.

Sounds saucy doesn't it? Well, it isn't really saucy at all.

After work last night, I took BART to the East Bay to meet Rosa for what has become our new open mic tradition. She and I went to her apartment and practiced "Different Drum" and "Somewhere Only We Know," the two songs I would be singing. Then Doug joined us, and we practiced not only those two songs, but the three Rosa would sing. We then went to McGrath's in Alameda (Rosa lives in Alameda) and joined the show.

I must say, just like our appearance two weeks ago, we did rather well. Rosa was fantastic and amazing, of course, and I was good, too. Plus, the people at this open mic are very nice and supportive. After we were done, several people came up to me to tell what a beautiful voice I have and how great they thought I was. One woman even took my hand and implored me to keep singing. I wasn't planning on giving up my singing hobby, but that was still sweet. Not to mention that I'm a decent singer, but I wouldn't say I'm great. I have occasional pitch.... issues, let's say... and I still have a lot to learn about technique. I may be really good one day, but for now....

Well, suffice it to say, the positive feedback was quite lovely. Those singing lessons I take from Best Friend may well be paying off.

After our performance, we swung back by Rosa's apartment so she could grab some wine and homemade cookies, and then we went to Doug's house in the Oakland Hills. There we munched cookies and drank wine while we soaked in his hot tub. (A note for anyone who has ever taken a dip in Doug's hot tub: we all were all clothed in some fashion; either in bathing suits, or, in my case a big t-shirt and shorts.)

At about 2 a.m. Rosa and I went back to Alameda, and she let me sleep on her couch before taking me back to the BART station this morning. The best news of all is it's a "Spare the Air Day" in the Bay Area today, so my BART ride back into the city was free! Now, I do my part to spare the air everyday by not owning a greenhouse gas promoting automobile, but I'll take a free transit ride anytime someone wants to hand me one.

I was supposed to go to the gym today, but after only about five and a half hours of sleep, I have a feeling my own couch will command my attention before I just take a quick run and then head to the Haight for a haircut.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Aliens Are Watching

I was in a bit of a lousy mood this afternoon. The reasons why aren't important... because I was lifted out of that mood at about 3:00 or so. That is when we, here at work, had occasion to speak with a man who, in all seriousness, told us that he believes not so much in aliens from outer space, but in a parallel human society that has developed underground.

I'm not kidding, this man was dead serious. He's attending some UFO convention in town, so you know he believes what he was saying. With all due respect to this gentleman, I laughed so hard I might never be in a lousy mood again. I really should find him and thank him.

My mood also picked up today when Rosa and I decided that we're going back to the open mic in Alameda this Tuesday night. Doug is going to come, too, and accompany us on bass once again. Rosa plans to sing the Beatles' "Let It Be" and an original tune of her own. I'm going to warble my way through "Different Drum" by the Stone Poneys (which I used to sing with Fake Band) and, if we can work it out, Keane's "Somewhere Only We Know." Yay for singing!

Diva Mommy recently told me that she always found singing to be therapeutic. I think I understand what she means.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oh, Yawn

At risk of sounding dull, I must admit not much has been going on. Not that I haven't done a few things...

On Thursday I went with Gretchen to Formerly Favorite Bar, so we could get caught up. Needless to say, since Gretchie had her baby almost a year ago, we don't see each other as often as we used to. So she and I swapped fun stories, as well as sharing a few frustrations we're both currently experiencing. Our frustration share prompted us to anoint ourselves the bitter queens of the bar, but I must say, we were the cutest and most charming bitter queens I've ever seen.

So I guess we're not really that bitter.

Last night I went to dinner with Patti, Terry and Jane after work. That was fun, even if the restaurant was, perhaps, a little over-priced. But a good time was had by all because, of course, our collective grace and charisma dominated the evening. I'd been invited to a picnic this afternoon, but I didn't think spending the day in the sun before work was a good idea. So I did my laundry and went running instead. Okay, that doesn't just sound dull, it is dull.

Well, the good news is that in a week and a half my monotony will be broken by my trip to Hawaii! Yay! Nothing is boring about days spent in the Waikiki sun and nights spent with a lava flow in your hand. Then in October I'm taking a long weekend in L.A., which should be fun. Pinkberry, The Dresden Room, Hollywood... here I come.

I imagine all of that will take care of any spells of ennui.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Radio Silent

Forgive me for the silence of the last six days or so. I try to update this space at least twice a week, but the reality is I haven't really been doing much since I last blogged. Well, that's not totally true. Last Friday night I went to my friends Daniel and Mark's housewarming party. They bought... yes, bought... a large apartment just a few blocks from where I live, and they spent about six months completely gutting and renovating it. It was a nice space before, but now it is positively phenomenal. Daniel and Mark are such grown ups. One day, I hope to be like them.

Aside from that, I must confess I have spent the last week working, nesting and mulling over the situation at the heart of my last post. The latter is kind of a waste of my energy, but whatever.

Things looked up a little bit today, however. First of all, I met Katie at Zeitgeist for a couple of daytime Chimays, which is always fun. Then my brother Mike called me and told me he'll be in town tomorrow night. Yay! I already have plans with Gretchen and Helen tomorrow evening, but I should be able to do it all.

After Zeitgeist this afternoon, I went to Il Fornaio for a party for one of the big bosses at work, and it turned out to be a lot more fun than I had imagined. One of my (sort of) co-workers invited me to a karaoke party tomorrow night, which I'm very excited about. For one thing, this party is happening in my neighborhood. For another, it will be early, so I can swing by and sing before all the other stuff I have going on tomorrow night. And finally, I was supposed to go to Julie's Supper Club with Sheela for karaoke tonight, but she had to cancel because she is sick. So I'll be jonesing to sing tomorrow.

It's always good, after a week of gloom, when things start to look up and I remember how fabulous my life is.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Band Aid Ripped

Almost four years ago... December 8, 2003, to be precise... I was fired from my then-job. In my industry firings are common and often have nothing to do with the person being let go. One can be doing an excellent job and still be dismissed when the company wants to "go in another direction," "make a creative change" or "trim staff due to budget cuts."

In the seconds following that fateful phone call informing me my services were no longer necessary, I thought to myself: "All things happen for a reason, and in the end, I know this will be for the best." Honestly, those words really did go through my mind immediately after I was fired.

How, you may ask, could I have been so grounded when I was losing my paycheck? Well, while that particular job looked great on paper, there were a lot of things wrong with it. The man who hired me had been transferred, and I inherited a boss I absolutely hated. I did not respect in the least the company I worked for. I was getting bored with what I was doing, even though it was fun and easy money. I didn't feel connected to our product in a lot of ways. Frankly, I'd had my 15 year high school reunion that spring, and I'd been a little embarrassed to tell my doctor/lawyer/author/politico/screenwriter classmates what I did for a living.

I knew leaving that job was for the best, even though I'd been forced to. I'd had a really cushy work schedule, so I never would have left of my own volition. But in the months after my firing, I did some really interesting things, like interning in the San Francisco District Attorney's Office. Something I never would have done, otherwise. Flash forward almost four years, and my current job, while not perfect, is far more satisfying. It may not be the be all, end all of my career, but it is a sizable step in the right direction.

All of that said, though, getting fired still sucks and is at least little painful.

I tell you that story this evening because I'm going through something similar in my life right now. It has nothing whatsoever to do with work; it's of a more personal nature. Last night, a situation I'm involved in took a small but significant turn. The change wasn't really anything new; in fact, it was information I already had, but that information was confirmed. The difference is that concepts like honesty, respect and integrity now have made their way into this dynamic, which is a very good thing. And in my heart of hearts, I am really happy because this change, in both the long run and the here and now, is truly positive. I'm now faced with the decision as to whether I will stay in this situation or cut and run, but whichever course I choose, my self respect as it relates to this dynamic is significantly stronger.

However, much like getting fired four years ago, change still sometimes can disappoint and even hurt. Just a little.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Open Mic Spotlight

My quest to be a singer (read: rock star) is taking me to more and varied places these days. The latest would be McGraths, an Irish dive bar in Alameda. Yes, Alameda.

Rosa has become a regular at McGraths' Tuesday night open mic, and she's been asking me for a few weeks to join her there. So last night, I went, along with Doug and Diana. In addition to cheering Rosa on as she sang and strummed her guitar, I sang, myself. Doug played bass for both of us, and Diana was the perfect supportive fan.

While I never thought I'd be caught dead at a dive bar open mic in Alameda, it was pretty fun. Rosa sang two of her original songs, as well as John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads." I don't write music (yet...), so I sang Kirsty MacColl's "They Don't Know" with Doug, Rosa and an open mic regular who joined us on fiddle, and Freda Payne's "Band of Gold" with Doug and another open mic regular who jumped in to provide some percussion.

Rosa has a beautiful voice, and her songs are really good. At risk of sounding egotistical, I'd say I was pretty good, too. We had to wait forever to go on because we signed up kind of late, and a lot of people were there. Who knew Alameda was so hopping on a Tuesday night?

As for the other performers.... well, by large, most of them were decent musicians, even if their material was somewhat forgettable. My favorite was the guy who ran the open mic; he had probably the best stage presence of the night. My least favorite was an Afro-Caribbean group, the members of which played out of time with each other. Poor fellows. They're probably quite lovely people, and they certainly get points for trying, but they gave cacophony a bad name. All in all, however, I'd give the evening a thumbs up.

Rosa is already planning more open mic nights for us.

Tonight, the mics won't be open to me, but I'll be acting as a member of the in crowd when I go to the opening night performance of the musical "Blues in the Night" and the opening night party afterward. First, however... this afternoon the spa calls.

I lead a very hard life, don't I?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

"First of All, You're a Slob Who Owns Guns"

Forgive me, dear readers. When I rambled on in my last post about my music-infused Thursday, I left out the quotation of the day. The fine words "First of all, you're a slob who owns guns" were uttered by Best Friend, as she and I sprawled on her living room carpet enjoying an indoor picnic of grapes, Wheat Thins and cheese at the end of my singing lesson. And said words reduced us to mere puddles of laughter.

Worry not, this brilliant declaration was not directed at me. Best Friend was telling me about her friend Tina* and the man Tina is dating. Tina has apparently been on three or four dates with this gentleman. At first Best Friend told me that she and Tina were both worried because Date has not yet tried to kiss Tina, even though he calls a lot and has suggested he and Tina go away together for the weekend. Tina likes this man, so she is hoping things go her way. I suggested Tina just kiss him, as that is, in my opinion, the best way to find out how a man who isn't necessarily stepping up to the plate feels about you. Every man thrills at this experience in the moment, making for a some immediate fun. Then afterward, the man who likes you will move full steam ahead, while the one who doesn't will pull the patented fade away maneuver, leaving you wondering whatever happened to that guy you had been dating. But one way or the other, you know.

Then Best Friend mentioned that there was more to the story.

Lore has it (and by "lore," I mean Best Friend's recounting) that on their last outing, Date met Tina at a beer festival. Tina became concerned, however, when Date arrived at the festival sporting a jeans shirt and a fanny pack. A fanny pack. In 2007. Then for one reason or another, Date and Tina had to stop by Date's apartment. That's when she saw it: the unforgiving mess, the lack of real furniture and the guns strewn about. Yes, guns, as in plural. Apparently, Date was very apologetic for not telling Tina that he is some sort of sharp shooter (huh?) and explained that he would never expect her to play with... excuse me, use a gun, nor would he impose his evangelical beliefs upon her.

I'm sorry, hold the phone. Evangelical?

Best Friend said Tina failed to get details on the evangelical portion of Date's being. But don't we know enough? When she said the words that became the prized phrase of Thursday, Best Friend was acting out the conversation she would have had with Date, had it been her standing in the squalor of his living space.

Now, I have been known to date/fall for some serious losers in my time (see Bob in 1993, I.C. in 2002 and a recent infatuation I saw fit to simply nickname "Wrong"). And when these dudes dump me, as they always do, I wring my hands, wallow in self pity, wonder What's. Wrong. With. Me?, eat very little and generally indulge in some serious drama until I'm ready to shake the lout off. So I have no interest in judging Tina for liking the gun slob. But I can't help but think maybe she's lucky he's too chicken to kiss her. Not to mention that she should probably hope never to be invited back to his apartment again. Regardless, she might want to practice saying it: "First of all, you're a slob who owns guns..."

* * *

In other news, last night I went to that party I had mentioned for the Very Important Person I know. It was fun but also kind of like attending a cousin's wedding. You see, I interned in Very Important Person's office while I was between full time jobs. It's been a few years, though, and my internship was very part time. So I only vaguely recognized most people at the party, if I knew them at all, making the experience very much like watching distant relatives I never see grooving to the Prince, Michael Jackson and Cheryl Lynn records the DJ was spinning. It was still fun, nonetheless, and I did get to see my friends Debbie, Bilen and Heidi. Yay!

Tomorrow I have to work and then scoot across town for Mindi and Matt's wedding. I'll be late, but I'll arrive in plenty of time to see who is drunk and has the most potential to get out of control. And that should be a good time...

*Name changed to protect the innocent. Or smitten, as the case may be.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Music of Thursday

Thursday has become quite the musical day in my week.

As you may know, every Thursday afternoon I trek out to the East Bay for my singing lessons with Best Friend. Lately I have been working on some songs that are... let's say, more of a challenge for me. Another way of phrasing that would be to say that I've been kind of sucking lately, but this is why we take lessons, right? I'll master these tunes. Or I'll become more aware of my strengths and limitations.

Then this evening, I met Higgins and Ron for Daydrinker practice. Before you worry that I'm training to be a mid-day alcoholic, I'll remind you that Daydrinker is the name of my new band. Okay, it's Higgins' band, but he lets me sing in it. Rehearsal was really fun, and may I just say that Higgins writes a mean little pop song. So far, I have learned about seven of his songs, and I love singing them. Rehearsal with Daydrinker can be a little sporadic, but most of the time we get together on Thursday evenings.... rounding out my musical experience of the day.

I was supposed to go out for drinks tonight with some Very Important friends of mine, but that didn't pan out. Instead, they have invited me to another Very Important Person's party tomorrow evening. It should be fun. Or at least nice to see my friends.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

So Deliciously Decadent

Just about four years ago, I toured what would become my gym, and on that tour I saw it: the gym bar. When I said to the then-membership director, "There's a bar in this gym?!?", he responded, "This is not a gym; it's a lifestyle experience."

Um, okay.

Since joining soon after that fateful morning, I have intended to workout and afterward enjoy an adult beverage at my gym... um, excuse me, my lifestyle experience. Unfortunately, I usually haven't the time or inclination to drink after my workout. However, today, Denise and I had made a plan. We met at the gym at about 2 p.m., worked out, cleaned up and then bellied up to the bar for snacks and drinks. Denise's boyfriend Paul and their friend Jim joined us, and good times ensued. Not to mention that the bar at my gym is first rate. Not only do they have a fine selection of liquor and wine, but their beer selection is definitely top drawer. We're not just talking Bud Light and Amstel here, my friends. But how do you feel about Anchor Steam, Newcastle and Chimay Blue and Red Label? Oh, no, these people are not messing around.

Drinks were consumed, meals eaten and brilliance displayed. At about 8:00 Paul had to scoot to his weekly poker game, and Jim took his leave of us, as well. Denise and I stayed for another drink and a few more snacks... and that was when it happened.

Say what you will, but I don't care because I'm a baseball fan. Just before 9:00, Barry Bonds hit career home run number 756, thus breaking Hank Aaron's all time career home run record. Obviously, we weren't at A-T&T Park because we were at the gym bar, but it was still exciting to see it live (or at least on 7-second broadcast delay). Everyone in the place cheered, and I'm just happy I saw it happen. Say what you will about Bonds (he cheated, he's a jerk, whatever), I love that I live in a city with a hometown hero.

All this while I was at the gym bar. And to think it took me four years to indulge in an immediate post-workout cocktail (or four, as the case was tonight).

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Good Things

There are some good things going on this weekend, and I just have to share.

1. Tickets for the Go-Go's show at the Independent are going on sale tomorrow morning. The Go-Go's have been my favorite band since 1982, so you know I'll be going. Denise is going to come, too, and some of my Go-Go's fan friends will also be there. Glenn, Kim and Claire, to be specific. I believe this will be the 12th time I've seen the Go-Go's in concert. That number is no rival for Deadheads, I know, but it's pretty impressive for me. No matter how old I get, I'll never grow tired of the Go-Go's brand of punky new wave power-pop.

2. One month from tomorrow I go back to Hawaii! I am so excited, especially since my travel partner for this trip has secured us free accommodations in Waikiki. How much does that not suck? Diva Mommy (who, you may recall, lives in Honolulu) will be having surgery while I'm there, but she should be fine. Be warned, one of these days I'm going to go to Hawaii and not come back. I threaten that every time I go there, but one day it will be true. I can hardly wait...

3. My sister, Fabulous Patti, is in town this weekend. Even though I can't fathom why she'd want to leave her fabulous Los Feliz neighborhood in L.A., it is, course, nice to see her. Last night I took her to the Latin American Club for drinks and some excellent people watching, and then we hit the Ferry Building this afternoon.

So those are the good things I'm focusing on tonight. Of course, we always want more in life, and to that end, I admit I am in the process of formulating some specific requests to present to the Universe. Those requests will revolve around infusing more creativity into my job; bringing fun, smart, cute boys who are not emotional morons into my orbit; and helping me recognize and revel in all the fabulousness that surrounds me and emanates from me.

I don't think that's too unreasonable, do you?

On a more somber note, a former employee at my place of business died of cancer last night. He had retired three years ago and moved to Oregon, but he was legendary in my industry here in the Bay Area. I didn't know him that well, but I had gotten to know his son rather well, as we worked together a few years ago. Ah, the circle of life, I suppose.