Archive for the ‘ Giving Thanks ’ Category

There’s Always Room For Dessert

Lisa and I finally managed to meet up for the long promised “Girls’ Night Out.” Her schedule was always crazy busy (it happens when you’re a doctor saving babies), and I was still in between jobs. It was a miracle that a date popped up right when I got a job close to her home. When I told her that we should meet up one of these days after I finished work, she suggested meeting up the following week.

We decided on going to Osteria La Buca. She told me the pizza was really good there, so that’s what I ordered. She had ravioli stuffed with lobster. Like all girly dinners, we dished about dating, the gym, clothes, shoes, and the cardio we’d have to do to burn off our dinner.

Lisa was preparing for a bikini-ready body, as she was going on vacation shortly. I knew this, but since we’d already eaten bread and pasta and cheese (not to mention the two or three glasses of wine each), I figured we might as well live it up. It was a special occasion: after nearly a year of planning, two girls winding down after a long day at work. The waitress stopped by our table and asked if we’d like to see the dessert menu. Lisa was hesitant, but I said yes. Our original Girls’ Night Out plan consisted of us eating ice cream and bitching about guys we’ve dated.

“I have to be able to get into a bikini,” she said.

“I haven’t seen you since the summer. Plus, if we split it, it won’t be as many calories,” I said.

We ordered something that was like chocolate pudding. We each took about two bites before throwing in the towel. It had been a great night.

We walked outside and gave Valet our tickets. Her brand new Acura showed up first, with my car following. We hugged each other, and I told her that I wanted to have a drink with her before the year was over. She nodded, smiled, and got into her car.

It’s weird how the simple act of sharing dessert is now one of my most precious memories. When I received the news of Lisa’s passing the next day, I was crushed. The fact that our dinner was the last thing she did was a terrible memory for many months after. It’s only been recently that I’ve been comfortable knowing we had fun, and that my last moment with her was a happy one.

But you know what really makes me happy? The fact that I talked her into having dessert.

This Is Harder Than I Thought It Would Be

I don’t blog as much as I used to. Possible reasons:
1. The people who got me started on blogging on a non-Livejournal website rarely blog these days.
2. It’s all about micro-blogging. (If you want to stalk me on Tumblr, you can do it here. I don’t post regularly on that site, but this could always change.)
3. Not working in some form of customer service doesn’t really bring in fresh ideas/funny stories.
4. Working in entertainment is kind of neat, but you can’t really talk about what you’re currently working on. (Confidentiality agreements and all that.)
5. I don’t feel like my writing style is up to par these days.
6. Death does not get easier to process as I get older. (Not my own mortality, but the taking-away of people part.)

When things really throw me for a loop, I tend to revert back into things I’m familiar with, and a lot of that is compromised of pulling out books and journals from my teenage years. On a whim, I pulled out this book:

I received a copy for my 11th or 12th birthday and read it dozens of times. Eventually I moved onto the harder stuff (Haruki Murakami, Junichiro Tanizaki, Ryu Murakami), and Banana Yoshimoto became my go-to book when I wanted something girly to read.

After Lisa’s passing, I went through my bookshelf and pulled Kitchen to read. I knew it was going to be an easy read: no elaborate storylines, no drama-filled love affairs, no violence. It’s a book I could read just for the story.

Or so I thought. Right off the bat, there was a death of a close relative, followed by the stages of grief. All I could recall was the transsexual mother and a budding love story.

I’d never see my own grandmother again. Never again. I don’t care for the loaded sentimentality of those words or for the feeling of limitation they impose. But just then they struck me with an unforgettable intensity and authority.

That’s just the English translation. I have no idea how close it is in the original Japanese text, but those sentences really struck a chord in me. And then there’s this:

To the extent that I had come to understand that despair does not necessarily result in annihilation, that one can go on as usual in spite of it, I had become hardened. Was that what it means to be an adult, to live with ugly ambiguities? I didn’t like it, but it made it easier to go on.

“Moonlight Shadow” is a short “encore” story that also deals with death and grieving (and had somehow completely slipped my mind). In this story, a young girl gets to “say” goodbye to her boyfriend who was killed in a car accident. Because she lost her love so abruptly, she finds immense relief in being able to wave goodbye to his spirit.

It sounds cheesy to write this (and I’m wincing as I type this out), but this book literally pulled me from a dark spot. There were so many times I came across a passage where I wanted to shout, “THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I’M FEELING RIGHT NOW!” There were a few times I came across a passage that gave me hope about dealing with last November and December.

I’ll never be able to be here again. As the minutes slide by, I move on. The flow of time is something I cannot stop. I haven’t a choice. I go.

I just came across that line while looking up passages I wanted to include here. Absolutely love it.

The next post will hopefully bring me back to my usual smart-assed self, especially since I’m doing the whole online dating thing again. But in the meantime, thanks for sticking with me while I’ve been in limbo.

Wrapping Up

2011 was a bag of mixed nuts. In March a terrible earthquake and tsunami hit Japan and almost destroyed a quarter of my heritage. In the spring I got to play with puppies. In May I left a job I hated (which I didn’t realize I hated until I quit). In June I lived in Las Vegas for almost three weeks while working on a pageant. In the fall I realized that my efforts in dating someone that I’d met a year ago just weren’t worth the time. And the last two months brought on the loss of two people who touched my life more than I realized.

In between all of that, there were family and friends who managed to keep things together for me. There’s no way I could ever truly thank or repay them for what they’ve done for me, but I hope they’re aware of the tiny fraction of appreciation I have for them (even you crazy internet friends whom I’ve yet to meet in person).

Tonight I’m spending time with new-found friends, and tomorrow will be spent with friends and family. I’m still amazed that these people let me into their lives the way that they do (well, except for my family – they didn’t have a choice). Here’s to a more stable 2012.

Cupcakes & Wine

It’s been seven weeks since Lisa Kelly’s passing. It’s a Japanese custom to acknowlege each week for the first seven weeks, something that almost, I’m sorry to say, slipped my mind.

Because on my bad days, it feels like I just had dinner with her the night before.

On my good days, it feels like it’s only been a week at the most since she passed.

The only reason I started counting is because Lisa’s friend, Kim, mentioned that a month had elapsed in a blog post. No way, I thought. We just had the memorial. But pulling up the calendar proved me wrong, and I realized that I had three weeks left to make up for it.

My friend Nina had suggested holding a small birthday celebration last Saturday for Lisa at her “new place.” I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some cupcakes for the occasion – I managed to convince Lisa to have dessert *that* night, and figured she wouldn’t object to another round of sweets. (When you’re in Heaven, calories don’t count. If they do, then it’s not Heaven.) The day was cloudy with patches of rain, but the sun did eventually pop its head out towards the end (just like at her funeral).

There was wine, chips, cheese sticks, a sausage and cheese platter, and those sugar cookies you see at the grocery store that are frosted and covered with sprinkles. We were just a main course short of having a full-fledged meal in the hills of Forest Lawn. Since our location was a cemetary, we couldn’t help talking about funerals and other loved ones who had passed. I couldn’t keep the tears back, but for once they weren’t from grief – I was crying because it felt like we were slowly getting rid of a heavy cloud that’s been hanging around since November 4th.

Our little group (Kim, Nina, Will, Lisa’s friend Jodi, Lisa, and myself) decided to sing “Happy Birthday” to her and “share” our wine (a fancier version of pouring one for the homies). It took almost everything I had left in me to make my voice sound cheery, but I’d like to think that Lisa got a kick out of us being a little tipsy and singing a little bit off-key just for her.

One of the last things I said to Lisa is that I wanted us to get together again for a drink before the year was over. And in a way, we did have that drink.

Going to visit a grave is typically a somber experience, but it wasn’t the case this time around. It’s still a sad occasion, to be sure, but when you’re with a group of friends who are gunning to make the best out of things, you can’t help but feel a little bit lighter.

What I’m Thankful For, Pt. 7

Day 330: Thanksgiving

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I’ll let you fill in your own as to why I’m thankful for this.

What I’m Thankful For, Pt. 6

Even with my limited budget this year, I managed to go out and see some really good shows/events. For example:

1. The Pee-Wee Herman Show at Club Nokia:

the pee-wee herman show

2. Eddie Izzard at the Nokia Theater:
Stripped Too: Intimacy Tour

3. James Urbaniak at a screening of “Drones” in Hollywood:
drones: the after party

4. Wil Wheaton speaking on a panel at the Festival of Books:

5. Ricky Gervais at the Nokia Theater for less than $2:
ricky gervais live

6. The New Pornographers at the old Fonda:
@ the fonda

7. A Democratic comedy benefit that featured Kevin Nealon, Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Robin Williams, and Eddie Izzard. (Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of this.)

I still have Margaret Cho to go next month.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to see all of these great shows, and am truly thankful for the fact that Los Angeles will forever be a stopping point for any tour.

What I’m Thankful For, Pt. 5

I’m thankful that I’ve got friends who let the F.O.B. in me come out:


What I’m Thankful For, Pt. 4

Almost two years later, you can still find me every other weekend at the Healthy Spot in Santa Monica, doing my volunteer gig with the Bill Foundation. I spend a few hours with dogs who need just a little bit of affection and attention. What do I usually get out of it? Dog hair, streaks of mud/poo on the front of my shirt, and multiple scratch marks from nails that are in bad need of a trim.

But every now and then you get a dog who thanks you for the attention you lavish. It’s not the dog that gives frequent kisses, or the dog who jumps into a lap as soon as you sit down. For me, it’s the dog that will give a cautious kiss on the cheek; the dog who leans into you as you hold him/her. And in a very rare occasion, it’s the dog that wants nothing more than to “hold hands:”

bill foundation

This is why I do what I do. And I’m thankful that these dogs put up with me, even when I’m cutting off their circulation from the hugs I bestow.

What I’m Thankful For, Pt. 3

One of the benefits of working in an environmentally conscious industry is that the people are HEALTH FREAKS. Not in a hardcore vegan-only, no glutton, organic way, but enough for me to really take a look at my diet and realize all of the junk I was eating.

Which probably accounted for the twenty pounds I put on during unemployment, eating frozen food and instant ramen all the time.

Being fully aware of the need to reduce my carbon footprint, I started walking a lot more to places around the office for coffee or for lunch. Lucky for me, I’ve got three different grocery stores, tons of eating options, and a DSW right within a twenty minute walking radius around me. FedEx is located less than a block away, so shipments are ridiculously easy to process. And there’s a hospital about a mile away from the office, which is fantastic.

Working with healthy people also meant that everyone was relatively fit. My first few weeks on the job had me feeling like the fat kid in class, so I stepped up my visits to the gym. (One of the PMs here actually swims out to the first buoy once a week – nothing I’m hoping to accomplish, but damn.) I also quit visiting my late night fast-food places after a drinking binge and opted for a really, really big bowl of Trader Joe’s O’s with skim milk. Before I knew it, I had to go out and buy new pants because the old ones just weren’t staying up anymore. Clothing from my retail days were fitting again.

The biggest bonus, of course, is feeling attractive again. I’ve gone from getting “You’re cute” from guys to getting “You’re hot.” And that’s a huge boost to my self-esteem. So thanks go out to my office for keeping me on track, and for also being the office that won’t bring cakes and donuts in every week.

What I’m Thankful For, Pt. 2

Obviously the biggest thing I’m thankful for this year is that my unemployment gig only lasted for four months. I realize this sounds like bragging, but I was seriously worried. The recession just fully hit the hospitality industry in LA, and I’d managed to survive three rounds of layoffs during 2009. My dismissal was done quietly; it was just myself and another sales manager (which I wouldn’t find out about until the following day).

My search for a job had me worried. The only real things I was qualified to do was either work for a hotel, serve as a personal assistant, or go back to retail. There wasn’t much call for either of the first two industries, and I had completely missed the holiday hiring season. Unemployed friends in California warned me about a hiring freeze statewide, which had me looking at other locations (mainly the East Coast – multiple job postings were EVERYWHERE in the hospitality industry, and at some of the oldest and hardest hotels to even find positions were posting).

So I made a deal with myself: if I couldn’t find a job by the end of March, I’d borrow a friend’s New York address for my resume and begin looking elsewhere for work. By the second week into March, I began to fill out applications through my old hotel brand for positions at the Waldorf and Corporate Headquarters (which had just moved over to Washington D.C.). It went far enough to receive a call back from Corporate to see why I was interested, and I stretched the truth: my family was located in New York and I wanted to be closer to them. Mentally, I began preparing myself to living in a place that actually had weather and seasons. Los Angeles and I were coming to an end.

Then LA decided to pull a trump card on me, and a job offer was made on the table. I was taking a pay cut, but it was better than living off of the [severely broke] state. The company was just a little over 4 miles away from the house, the people were close to my age, and it was an environmentally focused industry that I found myself plunging into. I could wear open-toed heels, not wear nylons under skirts, and had the options of jeans on Fridays! (Working for Corporate America does not allow for these luxuries.)

My means of employment helped get me out of the depressive state I was under, and I slowly made my way back into my social circle of friends. The internet didn’t annoy me anymore (it seemed like everyone was at work or at least doing something with their time), which was a major relief – how could I not find joy in Newgrounds, TMZ, and Wikipedia? THE HORROR.

This job is definitely amongst the most interesting I’ve had. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing, but hopefully the kinks will be worked out soon. But I’ve got steady income, I’m paying off credit card debt, and I’m not anywhere as depressed as I was at the start of the year.