Hey, remember that one time when I had a blog and I updated it regularly?
Yeah, me neither.
The past six weeks have been busy. Plus, my blog redesign failed tremendously and I can’t be bothered to fix it. So you get this:
Things I’ve Been Busy Doing Which May or May Not Be Decent Excuses for the Pitiful State of My Blog and My Life as a Whole
Today was the much dreaded/anticipated LA Marathon. Dreaded, because it royally screws all traffic in Los Angeles. And if you’ve ever heard of Los Angeles, you probably know our traffic is pretty screwed to begin with. The race route cuts a line through the city from the 5 to the ocean, with no way across. It’s kind of like the Berlin Wall, except it only lasts half a day. And it’s for a good cause. The race was also much anticipated, at least by me, because I was going to finally run and complete a race.
Last year, I religiously followed a 10-week training program in preparation for the Portland, Oregon Half Marathon in October. Two weeks before the race, I planned a 12-mile run through Glendale, Los Feliz, Hollywood and West Hollywood. About 9-10 miles in, I tripped in a pothole, fell, and broke my elbow in two places. Awesome. I walked the Portland Half two weeks later, arm in a brace. This was directly followed by a couple of months of healing, minimal exercise, and eating lots of holiday food.
So I was more than ready to give it another go. And by ready, I mean I followed about half my training schedule, fit in exactly one run over seven miles in the past two months, and almost forgot to pick up my race packet yesterday. The usual.
LA doesn’t have a half marathon, but this year they had a charity relay. One team member runs the first half, then the second team member tags in. I was running with the Courage Campaign team, and didn’t actually know my partner at all. I briefly met her last night at a team dinner. I decided we were the perfect pair, because she didn’t train either, and she wanted to run the first half. Since I hate waking up in the morning, that was ideal for me. Looking at the weather report last night, it said 90-100% chance of thunderstorms. Obviously. Come to LA where it’s beautiful all year round, except that one day that 25,000 people are going to attempt the truly stupid feat of running really far.
I prepared myself mentally for the downpour. I thought of the time my parents took us on a horseback ride in the Smoky Mountains during a thunderstorm. (To be fair, I think the thunderstorm started after we were down the trail a way, but I remember my tiny little brain seething in anger and indignation.) I figured hey, it’ll be like that, except I have no one to blame but myself. At least no one will know I’m crying. Instead, I woke up this morning to blue, clear skies. Not trusting this, I put on a tank top, long sleeved shirt, warm vest, and a hat. Fortunately, I decided against the gloves.
It was gorgeous. Not a drop of rain. Lots of sun. In fact, I got a bit of a sunburn on my face. Which wouldn’t be awful, except for the hat I was wearing (see above photo). It makes for an awkward tan line. All in all, it was an incredible run. I ran through West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Century City, Westwood and Santa Monica, and I love the fact that I’ve finally lived here long enough to have fond memories of all these places. One of these fond memories now is running 13.1 miles through them. Some of the highlights of the race included: tranny cheerleaders in West Hollywood; seeing Natasha and Adam at Mile 20, and stripping down to give them my disgustingly wet long-sleeved shirt which they graciously took home for me; being cheered on by Henry Winkler - that’s right, the Fonz - at Mile 23; running the Sunset Strip - last time I did it I had just scraped myself off the pavement and continued on with a broken elbow; and seeing Brad cheer me on at Mile 15. Which leads me to the ultimate highlight of not just this race, BUT MY ENTIRE TIME IN LOS ANGELES.
I MET HOLLYWOOD JESUS.
I stopped to chat with Brad, who said “Hey, Jesus is here too.” And I think I stopped breathing for a moment. I cannot tell you how much I have wanted to meet Jesus of Hollywood. I have seen him regularly for the past three years. It seems like he is everywhere all at once. I distinctly remember the first time I saw him, not long after I got to town, walking past the Laugh Factory on Sunset Blvd. And I thought: “That was Jesus. That was JESUS. I love this town.” To me, Hollywood Jesus symbolizes everything I love about LA. And to meet him while running the LA Marathon? Well, I’m pretty much in heaven.
Thanks Brad, for snapping the photo. I will treasure it forever. And thanks to Jesus of Hollywood for making my year. I do have to admit, when it got to the end there, and I was kind of wishing someone would carry me, I thought about that Footprints poem and laughed again. That will never not make me laugh.
P.S. Nobody carried me and my legs hurt a lot. They might never work again.
Chloe discovered her shadow the other day. We took a full 20-minute break from what we were doing so she could dance around and watch it move. She was delighted. At one point, she turned to me and said, “In my shadow I get so big, but in your shadow you get small!” This was blatantly untrue; I was standing right next to her and my ginormous shadow dwarfed hers, but the thought that she was bigger than me made her so happy that I didn’t bother to point that out. Clearly her powers of imagination are developing faster than her powers of observation.
She’s becoming fairly obsessed with the idea of getting bigger, and being a big girl, and being much older than babies. Watching her dance around, I started thinking how much I wanted to be a grown-up when I was little. I was never quite old enough for what I wanted to do. I just needed to be a little bigger. And that led to me thinking about the fact that being older is nothing like I thought it would be. Nothing. The funniest part is, if I could go back and correct every misconception I had about getting older, it wouldn’t matter, because younger Erin wouldn’t freaking believe one word of it. Regardless:
My Letter to Younger Erin, Correcting Her Stupid/Naive Beliefs About Grown-Ups and Growing Up (Because These Are the Thoughts You Have as You Hurtle Toward Thirty):
Dear Little, Slightly Precocious, Usually Obnoxious, Erin:
You are never going to become a doctor. Hate to break it to you, kiddo. And it’s not because you’re not smart enough. But one day you’ll figure out you like some parts of school better than others, and that learning is only really fun when you care about the subject. As fate would have it, you’re not a big fan of science. Especially if it involves lab work. Especially if that involves taking detailed notes over long periods of time. Like a whole week. You’re not going to have much patience for that. You’ll still have to take science, of course. But you’ll spend most of your time writing songs about permanganate, and leaving hidden messages for future generations under the tiles in the lab. (BTW, they’re gonna remodel that school a couple of years after you leave, so that was a total waste of time.)
Grown-ups don’t know everything. They don’t even know everything they’re supposed to know. You’re going to figure this out about your parents pretty quickly (which will lead to years of strife and you not giving them credit for knowing anything, which is not so much fair, but nobody kills anybody and they still like you in the end.) Still, when you start to figure this out about the rest of the world, take deep breaths - it will be terrifying. Especially when you realize these people have been voting for decades. Everyone’s winging it. That blind trust you gave so freely as a child will be nearly impossible to muster up when you realize how many classes your pre-med friends slept through, and just how young your Kindergarten teacher actually was. Plus, your grown-ups don’t even have Google yet, so you can pretty much bet they’re raising you on old wives’ tales and hearsay.
Getting bigger hurts. It physically hurts. And not just because of growing pains and menstrual cramps, although NO ONE will adequately prepare you for the latter, so buckle up. It hurts because you have this crazy body that’s always changing. Just when you start to get comfortable, you’re going to hit a growth spurt, probably before the boys, just to make you feel extra awesome. And just when you think your body has chilled out, and you’re all done growing, it decides it’s time for the Freshman 15 or adult acne. Whee! Plus, you’re not going to become any less clumsy. You will sustain countless, humiliating, self-inflicted injuries. Get ready to nearly cut your thumb off, and fall down in the middle of the road and break your elbow, and get hit in the face with a basketball in PE class. And, the older you get, the longer it takes to heal. Also, you can forget about that idea that scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue, because someone said that in the 60’s and it turns out it’s a load of horse manure.
Nobody tells you when you’re done. You don’t unlock grown-up level just by playing the game long enough. There’s no badge, or card, or certificate. (In fact, when I start to think about how old our parents were when I thought they knew everything, I realize you are being raised by children. Don’t worry though, they do great.) You will hit a point when your birthdays don’t mean anything anymore, except getting closer to the ones everyone complains about it. There’s no birthday that makes you a grown-up. Certainly not 18, because you’re mostly an idiot then. Not 21, because you’re just a legal idiot then. And you don’t become a grown-up by getting a degree or having kids or getting a job or buying a house, because so many people you know have those things and are still kind of only mostly grown-ups. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’ll let you know when I do. My best guess, at this point, is that you pretty much have to be older than everyone else in the world, and then it hits you: Oh hey, I totally grew up.
Don’t be sad about any of this. It’s probably a good thing you’re never quite going to feel like a grown-up. You’ll hit that point in your early twenties when you’ll think you are for two seconds, but that’ll pass, and every year you’ll realize you know less and less. Don’t freak out. It’s fantastic. You get to learn something new every day of your life. No one knows everything, but you get to start relying on other people in your life that know more about some things than you do. And you’ll Google things. And, yes, you’ll even call your mom or dad because it turns out they know things that Google doesn’t know. Not knowing everything doesn’t make you a fraud. It just makes you almost a grown-up.
Good luck. Godspeed. And seriously, if you can avoid that basketball to the face, do it. That’s going to be absolutely mortifying.
I spend a lot of time around kids, but I don’t have any of my own. Instead, I have Dwight. Full name: Dwight K. Schrute (Adam named him. It was a vast improvement over the cat. Her name is Star Trek). I think people might be right when they say if you want kids, you should start with a plant. Keep that alive, get a puppy. Keep that alive, you might be ready for kids. The thing is, I’ve had some plants. None of them have survived. Now I have a dog, and sometimes I don’t think I will survive. This does not bode well for ever having children.
Despite that, Dwight is alive and mostly well. We’ve both survived the past four years, though sometimes barely. I do think having Dwight has taught me a variety of life lessons that make me a better caretaker of small children. These lessons have also made me a better runner, a better wife, a better sleeper, and a better human. Let me explain:
Lessons I Have Learned From Dwight the Dog (Part Brittany Spaniel, Part Australian Shepherd, Full Obnoxious):
I love my dog. I don’t bother to get into any of the competitive bragging at the dog park. In fact, I’m usually pretending I don’t know him while giving him the evil eye. This is the dog that ate all the stocking stuffers one year (Handy tip: charcoal also induces vomiting in dogs. Also immediately). This is the dog that humps my grandmother every time he sees her. This is the dog that knocks over small children, and eats Kleenex, and used to chew up furniture legs. The same dog that begs you to take him out, then makes you chase him around the apartment to get a leash on him. He’s a hot mess. But he’s our hot mess. And there’s nothing like having a slobbering idiot around, that relies on you for every little thing, to give you a big kick in the pants toward adulthood.
I saw this bus the other day when I was in Van Nuys. I’m a big fan of Parks and Rec, so I got excited for two seconds, took a picture, then promptly forgot about it. Living in LA, you get used to seeing the fake world of film and television bleed into the real world of your life. One time, I saw a car crash into the back of a semi truck by the Hollywood Bowl, then keep driving full speed with its front bumper dragging amidst a shower of sparks. I looked around for a few minutes trying to figure out where the camera was before I realized it was real life, not a stunt.
Another time, I was going to a concert at Universal Studios, and Jay Leno was filming a Jaywalking segment right in the middle of the Citywalk. My friend and I were in a hurry, blew right past, and said to each other “Seriously, could he pick a more annoying place to do that?”
It’s not that we’re all jaded. It’s just that there are so many famous people and so many TV shows and so many movies and so much BS that we just don’t have time for it. We would lose our minds if we cared about even a third of it. So we don’t.
Except for those times when we really do. Because, come on. I LOVE Parks and Rec. And it’s not every day you see Leslie Knope’s campaign bus. (Although, I’ve seen it a total of three times now, so it’s not exactly a one in a million thing either.) On that note, here’s a list.
My List of Surreal Los Angeles Experiences That I Cannot Even Pretend I Wasn’t Totally Psyched About:
I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting. I’m also sure there are plenty of times I’ve walked or driven right by something insanely awesome happening without even giving it a second glance because I’m thinking about what I need from the grocery store, or how many miles I need to run. I’m okay with that. I live in LA. I don’t have time to care about all of that.
But if you see Nathan Fillion, please make sure to get my attention because I’ve loved him since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I’ve thought of a million better things to talk about than the weather. Thanks.
I tell people I live in Los Angeles, but I actually live in Glendale. It’s Los Angeles adjacent. But it’s not really Los Angeles. It’s kind of like the one time I asked a British friend if she was from the same part of England as this weird British guy we both knew, and she answered, “Yes, the same part of England, but also a different planet.” It’s like that. LA, but also a different planet. So:
Things You Didn’t Know About Glendale (Which Could Be a Very Long List Since You’ve Probably Never Heard of Glendale Until Just This Moment):
I like living in Glendale. Aside from that one coyote death and those serial killers, which were kind of a while ago, it seems like a pretty safe place to be. If you’re not in a car. Or crossing a street where cars are driving.
What I like most is that it feels like a neighborhood where people actually live, and have kids, and have dogs, and celebrate Armenian Independence Day (which is September 21, everyone knows this). People who live on the west side look down their noses at anyone who lives on this side of the I-5. I have two words for all you haters out there. FREE PARKING. That’s right. No permits. No pay-to-park structures. NO HEART BURN. Deal with that.
Some people might call Glendale boring. In fact, a lot people actually did. A study done in 2011 found that the majority of respondents did, indeed, think Glendale was boring. The city council voted to appropriate $1 million to an image campaign based on the tagline “Your Life. Animated.” I have no idea what this means, but I think this was probably a really good use of taxpayer dollars and no one will think Glendale is boring ever again.
I found this hanging in my closet the other day. I’m not sure I even know where to begin.
I’ve been married for eight years, eight months, and six days. That’s 3,173 days total. Or 76,152 hours; but who’s counting? If you take into account the fact that we dated for a couple of years before that, and knew each other for a couple of years before that, we’re pretty well acquainted. But then he does something like THAT and I wonder if it’s possible to ever really know a person.
I get what happened here. The tank top wouldn’t stay on the hanger. Mind you, there are special hangers for the tank tops, but that’s fine. Whatever. This works too. Except no. This doesn’t so much work as it inspires immediate rage in the very core of my being. I know that is an overreaction, but I don’t think you can truly understand until you’ve spent at least 3,173 days married to someone. You don’t fight about the big things. You fight about THIS.
With that in mind, here are two lists, 3,173 days in the making:
Things Adam Does That Drive Me Completely Out of My Mind Crazy:
Things I Do That Make Adam So Angry He Can’t Even Talk:
There are plenty more issues that could be added to these lists, but it would take roughly 76,152 hours and I don’t have that kind of time. The important point to remember is that these aren’t actually problems. These are distractions. These are the things you forgive each other for every day for years and years and years because it would be exhausting to be upset about laundry and crackers and lost keys and frozen soup all the time every day.
YOU GUYS I AM NOT EVEN JOKING ADAM JUST WALKED BY AND SAID “I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO SLEEP TWO HOURS AGO” AND GAVE ME HIS JUDGY EYES.
That really just happened. He is denying that he was judging me in any way, but he thinks I would probably sleep better if I didn’t stay up so late. Oy. It’s a good thing the list of things that make me happy is way longer.
Boston has St. Patrick’s Day. New Orleans has Mardis Gras. And Los Angeles has today.
HAPPY OSCAR SUNDAY, PEOPLE.
It truly is a happy day here in Los Angeles. Not because some people are going home with statues tonight, or because Billy Crystal is hosting again. No, we’re all happy because tomorrow, Hollywood Blvd., which has been shut down for a week, will be open for traffic again. We’re happy because we will no longer be inundated with posters touting movies and actors, shamelessly displaying the words “for your consideration.” Most of all, we’re happy that this means Awards Season is finally over, and people in LA can finish giving each other trophies and get back to actually making movies and television. Hallelujah.
Los Angeles has a love/hate relationship with the Academy Awards. Yes, they’re a total pain in the ass. Yes, they’re often pretentious, usually boring, and they always run long. But there’s something magical about movies and Hollywood and stars in tuxedos and dresses. It’s the Oscars. We’re all totally going to be watching.
In honor of the Oscars, I have decided to give you my two cents about some of the Best Picture nominees. I’ve watched most of the screeners SAG mailed out, seen some more in theatres, and have an opinion about all of them, whether or not I’ve seen them. You’re welcome.
The 2012 Oscar Best Picture Nominees and My Opinion of Same
The Artist: This movie has no talking, and it turns out I’m a big fan of talking. I thought it was a delightful film, but when the characters don’t talk, I overcompensate by talking about the movie to Anne, who didn’t mind, because we were both a little underwhelmed. The dog was adorable.
The Descendants: In this movie, George Clooney runs really weird. Like, he runs several times during the movie, and each time I thought wow, he runs really weird. Which begs the question - character choice, or is George Clooney a totally awkward runner?
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: I did not see this movie, but if I compiled a list of all the tweets I read making fun of the name of this film and read that list out loud, I think it would be longer than the film itself. That’s all.
The Help: For being a feel-good movie about a white girl single-handedly curing racism and inequality in the south, this movie was surprisingly enjoyable. The actresses saved it from being overly sweet and Disneyfied. Allison Janney deserved more recognition than she got for her work, but I suppose that is thematically appropriate for the movie.
Hugo: I think this is the same movie as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I might be wrong.
Midnight in Paris: I didn’t see this movie but everyone says I would like it, so I’ve decided to dislike it just to be difficult.
Moneyball: Don’t let the title fool you. This film is about baseball. And it is fantastic. I don’t think Brad Pitt deserves an Oscar for it, but be prepared for him to win just because he’s Brad Pitt and he hasn’t won one yet (e.g. Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich or Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side). Jonah Hill was also great, but the real winner is, per usual, Aaron Sorkin, He is the Muhammad Ali of words.
The Tree of Life: I don’t smoke pot, and I was told that was a necessary step to enjoying this movie. In my mind it is Big Fish meets that trippy movie with all the Beatles songs. I never saw either of those, but I bet that’s accurate.
War Horse: This movie is about a horse, and a war. I heard it’s sad. Steven Speilberg makes a lot of movies and a lot of money. It’ll probably win things.
You might think I forgot to make a prediction about which of these will win. But I did not forget. I do not know, nor do I particularly care. I do not, in fact, remember which film won Best Picture last year. All I know is that there were a lot of movies made last year, and I saw a lot of them, and I want my money back for Breaking Dawn Part I. And maybe a formal apology for Jack & Jill. I didn’t watch it, but none of us deserved that preview playing before all the other bad movies we paid to watch.
Good luck on your Oscar predictions - I have to leave now to get to a shoot in Hollywood, which means I have to take Los Feliz because Highland is closed. I miss you, Hollywood Blvd.
The other day, Chloe asked me about my tattoos. I have two, both of which are on my forearms; the larger one is pictured above. I’m used to questions about them. When I lived in Morocco, everyone thought my tattoo was henna. I gave up trying to explain, until my one and only trip to a hammam.
A hammam is a public steam bath. You pay an entrance fee, collect a bucket of hot water and a bucket of cold water, strip down to your underwear, and relax in a steam-filled, tiled room of naked women. It is not as sexy as it sounds, I promise. One of the main purposes of the hammam is to exfoliate the skin. After hanging out in the steam for a bit and rinsing with the hot water, you use a rough scrub mitt to take off layers of dead skin. It’s common to see friends or relatives helping each other get hard-to-reach spots. It’s apparently not common to see three white girls ineptly scrubbing their own bodies.
A very large naked woman walked over to me and started speaking Dareeja, the local Arabic dialect, and holding her hand out for the mitt. Thinking I had offended her in some way, I handed her the mitt and apologized profusely. She then sat on the floor next to me, grabbed my naked leg, rested my foot on her ample breast, and proceeded to scrub my leg raw. I truly thought the mitt might be bloody by the time she was through with me. I was speechless. My Arabic was almost nonexistent - I certainly couldn’t find the words for “please remove my foot from your breast and stop scrubbing my naked body because it makes me uncomfortable no seriously I don’t even hug people I know and you are freaking me out.” So I bravely sat there and let her exfoliate the hell out of me. Until she got to my arm. She started really putting her back into it, and I realized she was trying to remove my henna. I frantically explained that it was permanent, and my two friends joined in. After a very strange game of naked charades, I think she finally got the point. Or she just thought we were crazy and gave up. Either way, she moved on to my back, and I still have my tattoo. Although, quite a few layers of skin are surely missing.
I’m glad she didn’t manage to remove it, because I like my tattoos. I didn’t get them on a whim, or after a drunken night in Vegas. I thought about them. I designed them. I made a deliberate choice to have them permanently placed on my body where I could see them. And I don’t ever want to work in another job where I have to cover them up, because I’m over that. My tattoos are part of me, but they are not who I am. They don’t mean I’m dangerous or irresponsible or naive. They’re just tattoos. We all make a million decisions a day that we can’t go back on. I think there’s something freeing in embracing that and making a decision and not looking back.
When Chloe asked about them, I gave her my usual kid answer. ”Sometimes grown-ups like a picture enough that they want to have it with them forever, so an artist draws it with special ink that doesn’t come off.” My adult answer depends on the mood, as well as the attitude of the person asking the question. Some people get the full story, some people get the one-liner, and some people get a completely made-up load of nonsense that they somehow always believe. (If you received one of the latter answers, I hate to break it to you: it is not half a friendship tattoo I share with my best friend in kindergarten; it is not a tribal design tattooed by Bedouins in the sands of the Sahara; it is definitely not an image that came to me in a dream and will someday play a major role in my life.)
Chloe, like most 3-year-olds, digested the kid answer with absolutely no judgement, and said “I want to decorate them. You don’t have any colors. I have tattoos with colors.” She pulled out a can of temporary tattoos and proceeded to create a masterpiece. While she worked, I thought about how refreshing it was that she didn’t ask me what they meant, or have to rearrange her entire view of me to fit this new piece of information. She just thought they were pretty and needed some color. I think the world could use a little more of that kind of effortless acceptance of others.
BTW: The word temporary is misleading. My tattoo was “decorated” for four days. Just thought you should know that temporary tattoos are one of those decisions you can’t go back on.