Monday, December 31, 2007

Lessons of 2007

Twenty-Oh-Seven is drawing to close, and tonight we will pause to celebrate the beginning of Twenty-Oh-Eight. It will be a time to reflect on the year that has past, anticipate the year that will come and deal with how old we all are.

Then of course, there are the resolutions. But whatever. I'm bored with resolutions, and mine are the same every year. If you want a reminder of what my annual resolutions are, look through the archives of this blog. I've decided, instead, to devote this particular post to what I've learned over the last 365 days. So off the top of my head...

1. If you cut your drinking to two days a week, you'll lose a little weight, seemingly without trying. And you'll feel better. Plus, you really won't miss the alcohol.

2. Never say never. That motto applied to many situations in my life this year, including boys, my plans for this evening (can you believe I'll be in North Beach on New Year's Eve?!?), and actively participating in that which I had previously judged and judged harshly: social networking websites.

3. If you're a woman and can sing at all, you'll get hit on every time you do karaoke. Every time.

4. A really good running route takes you down Los Feliz Boulevard in Los Angeles. You don't live in L.A.? Well, I don't either, but I make it down there to go running, as well as participate in other fun activities, on a fairly regular basis.

5. Sometimes it's very easy to find yourself in a real life episode of "Behind the Music," as ridiculous and inappropriate as that may be.

Okay, that's all I can think of for now. I'm sure I learned more this year, but that should keep you going through the last hours of 2007. Happy New Year, my friends!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Beat Surrender

There's never a dull moment in the life of a fake rock star, and Kelcey, Fabulous Patti, myself and Emily (pictured here) were all fake rock stars at Joxer Daly's in Culver City on Wednesday night. Well, Kelcey was not a fake rock star that night. Apparently, he had been given the hook while trying to sing a rather inebriated version of "All Shook Up" during Emily's birthday party at the aforementioned Joxer Daly's two weeks before. So he stayed away from the karaoke microphone this time around. The rest of us had no such fear, however.

After several successful solo numbers, Emily and I decided to duet on the Jam's "Beat Surrender" because, frankly, when you find "Beat Surrender" at a karaoke bar, you have to sing it. Right? Um, perhaps wrong. We gave it the best we had, and Emily and I can both sing (especially Emily), but... Well, let's just say the beat definitely surrendered during our attempt. I learned that I really only should sing songs I've practiced, and somewhere in the universe, Paul Weller's ears were bleeding.

That tiny transgression aside, we had quite a lot of fun. I sang three of my tried and true numbers, and Emily belted out Irene Cara's "Fame," complete with dance moves that got the attention of literally every man in the joint. The only two remotely attractive guys there were generous with their flirtation, however, and I found myself doing a little cramped swing dancing in front of the karaoke stage, too. One of the benefits of going out in a city where you don't live: the consequence-free dance.

Once back home by the Bay, the rock star theme continued. Last night I went with Helen to see a real rock star, my musician friend Pat Johnson, play at the Knockout in the Mission. He was really good and played my very favorite song of his, "The Very Last Time." Yay! I cast aside any pretense of being too cool for the room and sang along, even when Pat momentarily messed up the words.

Do you know what I did today? Absolutely nothing. After sleeping for twelve hours (I guess the bronchitis, funky work hours and traveling left me a little tired), I spent another hour and a half in bed finishing Him Her Him Again The End of Him by Patricia Marx. For the record, that book is excellent; one of the funniest I've read in a while. After all the resting, I took a run, which was mostly a walk, and now here I am at work. I could be at Pat and Jess' holiday poker party, but I've spent all month switching Saturday shifts and otherwise tweaking my schedule to make it to parties. So I figured I'd be responsible and go to work this time.

I'm not sure living up to my employment responsibilities would exactly count as rock star behavior, but I guess that's why I'm just a fake rock star.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Palm Trees and Pinkberry For Christmas

Greetings from Los Feliz!

In typical Sassy fashion, I have had a very glamorous holiday. After work on Christmas Day... Oh, yeah, I had to work Christmas morning. Starting at 4 a.m. But honestly, it could be a lot worse. I like my job, and I actually kind of like working on holidays. Most of the time, anyway. It feels very festive to me.

Okay, maybe I'll back up just a little bit. I went to bed early on Christmas Eve, after snuggling under the fuzzy blanket on my couch to watch "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" and then got up before dawn for work. I looked for Santa Claus, but I guess he was done delivering toys in my neighborhood by the time I left for my job. After work, I packed my suitcase and hoped on a plane for L.A.

Once safely on the ground in Burbank, my sister Fabulous Patti collected me, and we went to her place in Los Feliz for our family Christmas party. Siblings, nephews, a niece and Diva Mommy all gathered for Christmas in style. My 19-month nephew Mikey Jet was the biggest hit of the party, as he ran, jumped, sang and giggled his way through the evening. But I'd say everyone was full of holiday cheer as we ate and opened presents. My favorite part might have been when my brother Michael opened the "Get Smart" complete series dvd box set that I... oh, I mean Santa... got him. Giving presents may be more fun than getting them.

Well, maybe not, because do you know what I got for Christmas? A Pinkberry gift card!!!!! I am so happy. I've already indulged in a little of the Pink, and I'll be paying Pinkberry another visit before I go home tomorrow night. Yummy. It's possible this may be the best Christmas present I've ever gotten.

It's a little on the cold side today in the neighborhood below Griffith Park. Some strong winds are blowing, and I'd say they're Santa Anas, but the Santa Ana winds are supposed to warm. At least the Santa Anas I remember from my childhood in Pasadena were always warm. These winds, not so much. I'm just glad I brought my big coat.

Tonight Fabulous Patti and I are going to meet my friend Emily for karaoke in Culver City. Talk about your happy holidays!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Love Is All You Need

If you know me at all, you know that there is only one thing I want for my birthday: a good party. I don't need any stuff; so I get the best gift every year when dozens of my friends turn up for my little birthday celebration. I may love the fact that my birthday is right before Christmas (and honestly, I do), but I know that's an inconvenient time for others. So it makes me incredibly happy that my friends make time to toast the anniversary of my birth when there are other parties and obligations to consider.

And this year was no exception. In fact, my friends were complete rock stars this time around because they put up with my coughing and congestion all night, as I was in complete denial that I am still sick. I have since come out of that denial, and I admit it: I'm still sick.

Well, illness be damned, about 30 of us descended upon Club Deluxe for the Night of Sassy 2007, and it was super-duper fun. Even with all my coughing and wheezing. A really good jazz band played, prompting Kevin to take me for a twirl on the dance floor... as pictured above. Lots of other fun people were there, including Rosa and Tihanna, who are posing with me in this shot to the left. I was incredibly impressed that Tihanna made it, given that she has been working double shifts all week and has gotten very little sleep. And Rosa has taken a new job where she works all night. So I also was impressed that she was up for a party at the end of her work week. Not that I don't equally appreciate everyone who came. Carolyn is in the midst of moving, for example, but she took a little time out to swing by the soiree. Tom was invited to at least two other birthday parties last night, as well, but he still made it to mine. In fact, he came to my party instead of attending the other two. Anne is pregnant and, I believe, just getting over morning sickness, but nonetheless, she was there.

I could go on and sing the praises of everyone who came, but suffice it to say, I greatly love all my friends.

There was a time, not so long ago, when my birthday party was all about having a huge guest list. I would invite everyone... and I mean everyone... I knew and liked at all, and it was like some sort of challenge to get as many of them as possible to attend. That effort reached a pinnacle in 2002 when I lured 80 people to the Red Devil Lounge for my 33rd birthday. That was definitely a fun night, but over the years I've become a little overwhelmed by the idea of inviting 120 people to a party to ensure that at least 60 show up. The bigger the party, the less quality time I get to spend with anyone, really. Plus, I was inviting people whom I never see during the rest of the year, and that was beginning to feel silly. Add the fact that a few of my friends now have small children and don't party like they used to... and I decided to change my attitude.

I'm very social and still have a lot of friends whom I see regularly; so I'm happy to say my party will continue to draw a crowd. But I pared down the invitation list this year to about 60 and was able to have actual conversations with the people who made it. And I'd say a good time was had by all. By the end of the night, I could barely carry on a conversation without the eruption of a coughing fit. So I took myself home at about 12:45. That didn't stop Andrey, Katya, Jake, Camilla, Eric, Jack and Tom (all pictured with me here) from continuing to celebrate in my honor. For all I know, they're still drinking. In fact, I'd really expect nothing less.

There is no better way to celebrate the anniversary of your birth than to surround yourself with people you're lucky enough to call your friends.

Friday, December 21, 2007

You Say It's Your Birthday

Is it wrong that my birthday is my favorite day of the year?

Well, right or wrong, my birthday is, in fact, my favorite day of the year. And my birthday is today... YAY!!!! We're having a potluck at work today with lots of delicious snacks and good cheer. The potluck is actually in honor of the holidays, but I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm going to pretend it's all for me. (Yes, I know I probably should be ashamed to make that admission, but whatever... it's my birthday. Besides, Diana put a candle in my little potluck hamburger for me. So there.)

Then tonight, I'll be gathering with about 30 of my closest friends in the Haight for a little birthday party. In my world, December 21st is the definition of "good times."

Not that this birthday has been without a teeny bit of drama. While I have been steadily getting over the pesky chest cold I picked up last week, this virus has made it clear that it's not going without a fight. To that end, my body picked last night to succumb to coughing fits. All. Night. Long. Even though I'd slept very well on Wednesday night. The result: I'm operating on about four and a half hours of sleep. No matter, though. I'll just grab a power nap after work and be good to go by tonight. Not even a nagging, congesty cough can ruin my favorite day of the year.

Oooh, and yesterday I got myself the greatest birthday present: Kate Spade open-toed, patent leather heels which were 50% off! You know I'll be sporting those babies tonight.

Did I mention that my birthday is my favorite day of the year?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Season Interrupted

My holiday season had been bubbling along quite nicely. As you know, my company holiday party was Tuesday night. On Wednesday, Terry treated me to a pre-birthday dinner. And on Thursday, I went on a perfectly pleasant date with Mark.

Then it happened. Late Thursday night, I was felled by a vicious parasite. The resulting illness has overtaken my body and rendered me a coughing, congested wreck. This disease is so virulent and potent, it has paralyzed me. I am a miserable shell; a shivering, hacking wreck. All at the hands of a virus so malevolent it defies description.

Although, I believe, in the parlance of the vernacular, it is known as a cold.

After work last night, I was supposed to party hop from Tara's holiday cocktail celebration to Lucy's birthday soiree. And today I had planned a visit to the gym, followed by a pedicure and shopping for a birthday dress. Then back to work. Well, none of those plans have come to fruition. I attended no parties last night. I can't exercise (the horror!). My dress shopping and pedicure will have to wait, and I'm not even going to work tonight. I rarely, if ever, call in sick to work; so you know this is bad. Not that being exiled to my couch while succumbing to frequent coughing fits isn't fun, too.

Always one to find a bright side, I do recognize that this forced relaxation will allow me time to write my newspaper column, which is due Tuesday, as well as my Christmas cards, which should have been done two weeks ago. Of course, I haven't done any of that yet. But I have caught up on my television watching and my lack of sleep due to chest congestion. My Friends dvd box sets are providing me with some lovely company during this trying time. HBO has stepped up to the plate, as well.

Hopefully this will all be wrapped up soon, though. I have a birthday coming up on Friday, and I must be in top shape for that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ooooh, My Head

So, my company holiday party was last night.

I actually missed most of it because, ironically, I was at work, but I made it for the tail end of the free cocktails. That would have been well and fine, as I had planned simply to swing by for a drink or two on the boss and go home. Good plan, huh?

Well, I had forgotten that I work with a few serious partiers. And once we got kicked out of Bimbo's at the far too decent hour of 10:00, about ten of us took the after party to Tony Nik's down the street. I didn't stay out terribly late, but suffice it to say I drank far more than I had intended. Ouch.

The good news is that I don't have to work today, and I plan to lounge for the next couple of hours before I sweat out this mini-hangover at the gym. The bad news is that my downstairs neighbor seems to have chosen today to practice his electric guitar. Urban living, I suppose.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

How Duh Became This Season's Hottest Buzz Word

We'll get to the title of this post shortly, but first, a moment in musical history.

Throughout the summer and fall, Rosa has played many an open mic night at McGrath's in Alameda. I have occasionally joined her, and Doug has occasionally joined the both of us. It's been a while, but we regrouped this weekend to take our show out of McGrath's and up the hill to Doug's holiday party. Fake Band took the "stage" first, and we followed. While practicing on Wednesday night, Doug christened our little trio The Sub Rosas, which is absolutely perfect. We created a set list consisting of two of Rosa's original numbers, plus six cover songs. And with all due respect to Tony Hatch, Kirsty MacColl, Stevie Nicks and Melanie Safka, Rosa's songs were the best. Rehearsed and ready to go, we planned to knock 'em dead come Friday night. Or something to that effect.

Well, everyone's health was safe, as we certainly knocked no one dead. Make no mistake, our performance wasn't bad at all. I'd go as far as to call it pretty good, and people even paid attention. However, by the time we began to play, Doug had perhaps imbibed a little too much. So he wasn't as sharp on the bass as usual. That's a nice of way of saying he hit at least one wrong note in every song, which is very unusual for him. He's really a very good bassist... when sober. Plus, we had to start one song over because Doug was obliviously blocking Rosa's view of her music.

Regardless, it was super fun, and I caught a few people singing along with our rendition of "Downtown." (I know, aren't you just shocked I wanted to sing that song?) In addition to "Downtown" and Rosa's originals, we did "They Don't Know," "Lay Down," "Somewhere Only We Know" and a marriage of "Landslide" and "Dust in the Wind." I really wish I could figure out a way to sing for a living. Hmmm.... that seems a highly doubtful prospect, so I'll definitely stick with my day job.

Well, Rosa and I are planning to conquer the musical world during our spare time.

After Doug's party on Friday night and work on Saturday, I was ready for a Saturday night out. First, I went to Katie and Steve's annual holiday party. Or more accurately I should say, I went to Katie and Steve's annual holiday spread with a party in the background. They had the most delicious snacks of the season so far. Totally yummy!

Once full on champagne, sausage-stuffed mushrooms, meatballs, sliced fruit and sweet and spicy nuts, I made my way across town for my friend Beth's birthday party. Beth and I posed for this little photo at the end of the evening, after I'd met a host of interesting people, including a woman with the same first name and birthday as me. I'm not kidding. She is four years my junior, but imagine, another December 21st-born Sassy at the same party! Needless to say, we bonded instantly.

Sadly, Beth's husband broke the news to me that they will not be having their annual New Year's Eve party this year because Beth has been asked to open for Cake at the Warfield that night. Sadness... because that is a truly fun party. But I told both Beth and Eli that I would forgive them if Beth set me up with Xan McCurdy. I wonder if they knew I was serious?

At one point during the evening, I was talking to my Birthday Twin, this guy named Kamau and some other guy, who was rather inebriated. Kamau is African-American with kind of cool hair, which seemed to prompt The Drunk to look at the two of us and proclaim, "Oh, my God, you guys obviously should know each other. Duh!" Kamau, myself and Birthday Twin were all a tiny bit shocked by this statement, but the idea that the black man and the half-black woman at the party were somehow obligated to meet was far too stupid to inspire true offense. So in laughing at the poor drunken lout, we decided that for the rest of the evening, we would punctuate every sentence with "Duh!" And we found it works with pretty much anything.

"Hey, I'm going to get another beer. Duh!"
"Wow, that's a super cute coat. Duh!"
"I think I need the loo. Duh!"
"You should come see my comedy show next week. Duh!"

Little did The Drunk know that his ignorance provided us with much merriment for the rest of the evening. See, even the drunk and ignorant can't ruin a truly good party.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

'Tis The Season

I am a Christmas fanatic. I generally start singing Christmas songs in mid-September, and by this time of year, the halls of my apartment are fully decked, my heart is four sizes larger than normal and 60 to 100 holiday cards have been written and mailed.

Not so much this year.

Not that I'm the least bit unhappy. In fact, I went through a teeny, tiny depressive period this fall, and I think I have fully pulled out of it. (Knock wood.) It's just that a lot is going on, and I seem to have no time for Christmas. No halls have been decked, no holiday cards written and don't even talk to me about shopping. My heart is pretty large, but I'm not sure how much the Christmas spirit has to do with that. So perhaps 'tisn't the season for holiday madness in my world yet, but I'll you what 'tis the season for.

1. Celebrity sightings
Okay, I should say celebrity sighting. Singular. This afternoon I met my friend Wendy at the Grove on Fillmore for one last bonding session before she moves to New York on Monday. We'd been discussing boys and all topics related to boys for a while when I realized that the man next to us with his two small children and two female companions was, in fact, Dave Chappelle.

Dave had looked over at us a couple of times before I realized who he was, but I'd thought perhaps my and Wendy's boy talk had a gotten a little too saucy for the nearby small tots. So I just made a mental note to speak more quietly. Once I recognized Dave as himself, I admit, I kind of looked for excuses to engage him. With two kids in the mix, it was pretty easy. One of his sons started bopping around to "The Letter" by the Box Tops, which was playing on the Grove's sound system, and I took that opportunity to congratulate the little boy on his good taste. The Box Tops featured Alex Chilton, after all.

As Dave as his brood were leaving, he fixed his gaze on me for a minute, smiled and asked me how I was doing. I was caught a little off guard and didn't really know what to say. I was too embarrassed to gush over his talent, so I just told him how cute I found his children to be (and the were super cute). He seemed to appreciate the compliment. I appreciated that, at the end of the day, I ran into a celebrity, and he spoke to me first. Ha!

2. Socializing
I guess this sort of falls under the category of holiday madness because some of my socializing involves holiday parties. But there have also been and continue to be birthday parties, as well as other social events. And fate has been kind to me this year, as most of these parties fall on evenings when I don't have to work. Or I have been able to adjust my work schedule to accommodate my playtime. That was not the case last year, so yay!

Plus, next week I have a date with a guy I met at Wendy's going away party. I'm not sure what, if anything, will come of this date, but it is always nice to be taken out by a decent fellow.

3. Overindulging
Unfortunately, the close companion of all this socializing is a lot of eating and drinking. I have already decided to relax my two-day a week only drinking rule for the month of December, and for the past couple of weeks, my alcohol consumption has grown from one or two days a week to three or even four days a week. Add the abundant snacks that are also available (and I can never resist), and I foresee a little dieting and a whole lot of exercising come January.

4. Singing
There hasn't really been more singing this season than any other month, but Rosa and I will be singing at Doug's holiday party tomorrow night. Doug will join us on bass; Rosa will play guitar; and Rosa and I will sing five songs each. Fake Band is also playing this party, but I will not be reliving my days with them by joining in on any numbers. Not that they asked, but I'm very happy to be doing my own thing.

The long and short of it is that while I may not be my usual Christmas-obsessed self right now, 'tis still the season for some very good times.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Rock Star Weekend

I should clarify right away that this weekend was a rock star weekend for me. Any self respecting rock star would scoff at my partying prowess over the last 48 hours, but it was a good showing for the old lady that I have become. Don't get me wrong, I socialize quite regularly, but these days I like to go out relatively early and return home relatively early. So to attend four parties in one weekend, and to stay out until after 3 a.m. Saturday night/Sunday morning is kind of big deal in my world. Especially since I work weekends, as well.

But I am getting ahead of myself here.

The rock star weekend began Friday night with the very sophisticated cookie and cocktail party at Jim and Molly's. They have a lovely apartment in Russian Hill, and it was packed with cookies, savory snacks and delicious wine. Not to mention fun people. Most of the Gourmet Group girls were there, as well as various husbands, boyfriends and friends. Laughter filled the air, cookies were consumed, and an impromptu dance party began at about 11:30.

I got home at the fairly decent hour of 12:30 that night, but I had to be at work at 11 o'clock the next morning. Take into account that I go running before work every day, and you'll understand that I didn't get quite as much sleep as I would have liked. But I was okay and ready for work Saturday afternoon.

Immediately following work, I hit the first of three Saturday night parties: Kim's birthday soiree. It was also a sophisticated and adult affair at a private room in a Financial District restaurant. Talk about good snacks; they were not only tasty but very fancy. The wine was also flowing in celebration of Kim, and we had delicious birthday cake. Some of the partiers are pictured above: Katie, myself, Birthday Girl Kim, Gretchie, Paul and Bill.

After about two hours at Kim's party, I hopped in a cab and made my way to the Marina for Emily's birthday bash. Emily and her friends had staked out their space in a crowded wine bar, and I arrived just in time for champagne. After a glass of bubbly and some good conversation with Emily, her friend Isha and a random (to me) anesthesiologist, I was off again. This time to the Lower Haight for Wendy's going away party.

The fair Wendy is moving to New York in just about a week, and in the middle of her super-fun goodbye party, I realized just how much I'm going to miss her. Wendy is an actor, yoga instructor and superhero whom I became friends with about four and a half years ago. She's positively neato, and New York will be very lucky to have her. Wendy and I posed for this picture as I was waiting for my cab home at about 3 a.m., after a night of nothing but good times.

At Wendy's party, I got a chance to see Camilla, whom I hadn't seen since July, as well as Jake, Davin, Mark, Rick, Jordan, Bernadette and a host of other people. I also met Wendy's old friend Mark (about half the guys at this party were named Mark), whom I think I'm going to hang out with again before he heads back down to L.A. in a week or so. You know if you read this space with any kind of regularity that I visit L.A. fairly often. So I'm excited to have another friend down there.

When I finally arrived home after the party marathon that was my Saturday night, I didn't settle into bed until almost 5 a.m. I don't know if I remember the last time I stayed up that late because I was socializing. (I'm thinking it was my birthday almost a full year ago.) Luckily, I don't work until 5 p.m. on Sundays, so I was able to get enough sleep, go running and still show up to my job feeling fresh.

Oh, yes, in my own way, I am a rock star.