Saturday, November 28, 2009

Older than Matt Barkley, Part IV

I believed this little bear hadn’t survived the years of moving – but alas, I found him this morning! Indeed, what you are looking at is a tiny stuffed Bruin strung up on a noose. We bought him from a Coliseum bootlegger (we’ve all done it) in the late eighties making him significantly older than our dear QB. Today, he will return to the Coliseum where he hasn’t been in well over ten years – I know, what kind of USC fan am I? Interestingly, in 1994 he made the front page of the Arizona Star and was the key ingredient to sneaking in three college basketball fanatics into McKale Center for a sold-out matchup between an Arizona team that would go on to make the Final Four (losing to Bill Clinton’s Razorbacks) and the first year of the O’Bannon brothers tenure as Bruins.

Here’s to hoping his magic is back today for USC, God knows they need it. Also, as I have said before, and perhaps I am one of the only USC fans who feels this way, but Norm Chow, please come home, all is forgiven.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Punctuation Marks

This is the last week of the after-school program I coordinate until late January. We have opted to take the entire stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas off, which for us adults will be here and gone before we know it, but for elementary school students will seem like an eternity. All week, we have been giving out prizes and certificates – in part to honor the kids’ participation – but also to offer these wee ones closure. Maybe the gesture is simple and for many of the children somewhat obligatory, in my experience, there is something to be said for offering a space to recognize the end of a season – not matter how small or brief.

As I left this afternoon, it occurred to me that amidst this small turn of a page, tomorrow is my last session with my therapist. I know, it is kind of weird to own in this small venue of mine that indeed I have been seeing a therapist for just shy of three years, but there it is – out there. And over the course of our therapeutic relationship, I have certainly grown, feel more comfortable in my own skin and have been generally grateful for the experience. At the same time, recently the whole endeavor, and I am not sure why, has struck me self-indulgent and most sessions I arrive feeling like I have absolutely nothing to talk about. We have, as I believe they say in the business, plateau-ed.

Maybe it was the sixty certificates I handed out this week, but driving home tonight, I decided to get my therapist a parting gift, which according to two of my friends who are therapists, is not that unusual. I bought a copy of Wally Lamb’s I Know This Much Is True, which happens to be perhaps my favorite book of all time and features a plot line revolving around a therapeutic relationship. It seems apt and good way to punctuate this end.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dodging Bullets

Today I needed to have five separate conversations where the basic gist was, “I think this thing I did might have irritated or straight up pissed you off, so let’s talk about it.” Two conversations were pieces of cake – neither person was at all mad. Good, chalk it up to better to err on the side of caution. One conversation was fairly easy, ill-timed, but the person was indeed not mad at me and appreciated me taking the initiative to air any grievance. One conversation never occurred, which I trust means all is calm on the western front but the fireworks of the last conversation, makes me believe it quite possible I am destined to never do anything again without pissing off large groups of people, and, at this point, it wouldn’t surprise me if that fifth person who the jury is still out on is planting a car bomb in my car as we speak (phew, my car is parked in the garage).

I know, I am being dramatic and over-reacting, but we’ve all been there, right? I know life is lived in relationships, but after a day like today where I am feeling so much like a bull in a china cabinet relationally, I can help but wonder if I’d be better off living the rest of my life like Tom Hanks’ character in the movie Cast Away. I know, I wouldn’t last a day and I probably would kill Wilson – but I am feeling like such a relational failure. And regrettably the tragedy of this whole unfortunate misunderstanding, which I imagine is very often the case for so many of my fellow bulls (living in china cabinets that is), is that I didn’t mean to do any of it. The “it” just sort of unfolded and in my heart of hearts I wish I could just take a relational mulligan.

For the firework conversation, the sober-minded person with exactly five psychology classes under my proverbial belt, would like to rest in the assumption conflict/anger is very often-misplaced and wrongly allocated. I hope the ire I received today stemmed from some larger pain in this person’s life. Or at the very least, it is easier to think that then to sit in the very uncomfortable tension of the possibility that I indeed may in fact be a terrible, barbarian of a person incapable of relational success or anything remotely close to sensitivity.

And maybe the worst part of all of this conflict is that they all happened at church. Church is supposed to be a place of handshakes, hot chocolate and warm fuzzies – not a place where you routinely dodge bullets. Or is it? Maybe dodging bullets is an exaggeration, but I wonder if there are others out there who find this endeavor of the Christian journey together difficult, fraught with conflict and something, many days, leaving you wanting to cash in your proverbial chips on. Tomorrow, I hope I will wake up renewed and ready to mend, but for tonight, I need to go into the cave.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Older than Matt Barkley, part III

Up early on a Saturday morning, primping for my tailgate party and finishing Older than Matt Barkley: part III just under the wire. Here goes, and yes I know the Mexican blanket doesn’t at all match my room.

In the summer of 1974, my family and another family drove from sunny Los Angeles to Mexico City. My entire family missed Nixon’s resignation because they were amidst this crazy caravan trek, the stories of which have become family legends at this point. In the end, missing watching Nixon’s speech with all of America was a small price to pay for the epic cross-continent vacation. I was not there, nor was my counterpart, the youngest son of the other family, who turns 35 this March (so if you do the math he was kind of there, and had his parents not “decided” to have one more kid, who knows, maybe my parents wouldn’t have either).

But somewhere along the way, my mother purchased this bright (bordering obnoxious) Mexican blanket. I stole it about five or six years ago, and while although these types of blankets are easy to come by, I maintain that they don’t make ‘em like they did in the mid-seventies (which is true of a lot of things). I use it seasonally. In my old apartment, our entire place was just so ugly, that it didn’t really matter the blanket was so off. Now that I am starting to nest and care very much about how my house looks, I am beginning to wonder if I should move on from this old blanket I love so much. But for our purposes today, it well makes the cut of being Older than Matt Barkley – FIGHT ON and beat the Cardinal.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

To get a dog or not…

This weekend, I was lucky enough to dog sit for my friend’s precious one-year old lab mix, Ashwa. Ashwa was a wonderful house guest and if I could figure out a way to do so without getting caught, I would dog-nap her. During her stay, among other things, we were able to visit the dog park on Orange Grove, pictured above, which was also an absolute delight.

But this jaunt into dog sitting has got my juices flowing about getting a dog. I have been a dog lover from as long as I can remember. Growing up, we always had all sorts of dogs. During my long, painfully long, stint as an apartment liver, I always told myself, as soon as I get a home, I will get a dog. And now here I am, new house but no dog (mind you it has been less than a month).

Let’s open up the conversation about the pros and cons of dog ownership – all serving as a divergence to a dismal update on my lack of any new developments with my JCrew model-esque teacher crush that I have to date still not had an actual conversation with (what is my problem??). Back to the dog question.

Pros. A dog would offer protection, companionship and a bona fide reason to hang out at the dog park on a regular basis. The idea of rescuing a dog appeals to me very much but I can hardly look at the humane society web site because the thought of those dogs getting euthanized breaks my heart.

Cons. A dog requires a lot of attention, routine and availability. Would the dog get lonely while I was slaving away at work? An adult dog might be better-adjusted – but what if it had a bad habit like urinating on my beige carpet? A dog also could prove to be expensive – what if I need to take it to the vet and how much are these congs everyone rants and raves about?

Breed. I had a very good experience with the mixed breed and I’ve only heard good things about labs. I need a dog with shorter hair because of my allergies to that end; I can officially eliminate German Shepherds. I don’t want a yelper but I also don’t want a huge dog. I like pugs, but they are super expensive and I’ve believe they have respiratory problems.

Final verdict? My inclination is towards a chocolate lab mix around a year old. Anyone know of one up for adoption?

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Older than Matt Barkley, Part II

In high school, I worked as a hostess at the Olive Garden – Hospitaliano was our motto. As it happened then, not sure if Olive Garden still has this policy, we host staff were required to serve as doormen/people which for me, as a gregarious sixteen year old, was a good fit. Except for the weather and that year, as I am told is the case this year, was an El Nino. So there I was, rushing out the door to make my shift at the OG when I needed a jacket. Why I didn’t grab a jacket of my own, I don’t know, but I stopped at the closet in the entry way of my parents house and grabbed my dad’s caramel-colored corduroy lined with chocolate brown faux fur which much to the chagrin of my father has been mine ever since.

I have it on good authority my father has not been able to fit into this jacket since he stopped smoking in 1984, so it wasn’t much of a loss for him. I believe this jacket was purchased at JC Penny’s in the mid-seventies, making it a good fifteen years older than our beloved QB. I don’t wear it as much as I used to, but without fail every time I do, I get many, many compliments. In fact, over the years, I have had more than one person offer to buy it right off my back – can you believe it?

And so today, as the Trojans take on the Sun Devils, not to be confused with the devil incarnate and recent World Series Winners who’s MVP instead of Matsui ought to have been cold, hard cash, Fight On and let’s win out our games. Emerald Bowl, here we come!

PS: Don’t you just love my new patio furniture? I heart Craig’s List.