Monday, December 30, 2013

The Annual Meme, 2013 Edition

I've been doing this one for 6 years now.  Here's the old ones: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.
Here's how I do this year.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
I finally figured out how to shoot with my Lindhof.  It's a magical camera and I'm still figuring out how to make really awesome photos but at least I've finally figured out how to do really bad photos.  Awesome will come later.

Learning to develop my own film was a really great experience, too.  I love that I'm more and more able to control every aspect of what I shoot.  This year, my technical knowledge of photography grew in leaps and bounds, thanks to an awesome new friend who was so generous with showing me the ropes.
Also, I had a root canal.  That is less awesome than the other new things I've done this year.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
My resolution was to keep up with this blog and I did not do a very good job with that AT ALL.  Maybe 2014 will be the year of the blog....

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My cousin-in-law had a beautiful baby girl and when we went to visit for Thanksgiving, that baby was mine.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
I'm grateful to see that my loved ones are ok.

5. What countries did you visit?
This year I went with my family to Paris and then took a trip to Mexico City with my BFF, where we stayed with my brother.  It was all very awesome.
About seventy squillion other photos from the trip to Paris are here: TRIP TO PARIS

Me, the Brother, and the BFF about to climb an enormous pyramid outside of Mexico City.
A few photos of the trip to Mexico City are here.  TRIP TO MEXICO CITY AND ALSO SOME AREAS AROUND MEXICO CITY I have about eight squajillion more to upload because we went in May and that's only seven months and how is anyone supposed to do anything that quickly?

The other trip was in the US so maybe it doesn't count but there was a trip to the Grand Canyon and that was fun.  Kind of.  Not the camping part, which it turns out we're really, really bad at.  The rest of it was cool.
 Some of the pictures from that trip are here: GRAND CANYON  That trip was in June so there's, maybe, two pictures from the trip in that set.  I expect to have the rest uploaded by March of 2015.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
I really want to work on getting my various businesses off the ground.  There is a specific amount of money that I'd like to be making monthly and it's going to take some hustling to get there.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The trips that we took this year were magical.  Just wonderful, wonderful memories made with the people I love most and those will stay with me always.  Beyond that, nothing compares.  I saw a favorite band in concert twice in the same week, I went on a great little road trip with a good friend, The Kid and I went to the County Fair, just the two of us and had a blast - there are lots of fantastic little moments that happened throughout the year.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Really, it was learning how to navigate a marriage and Sudden Onset Motherhood - The Kid came to stay with us full-time this year and while I love, love, love him and his being around, it definitely took some adjusting to.

9. What was your biggest failure?
No failures.  Except maybe driving my car into a pole today.  That was pretty sucky.  (No major damage, just a dent and some scratches.  Shiny, new Clarence was just made a little less shiny and new.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The root canal?  Does that count?  It should.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
This one is a toughie.  I can't think of any one thing that is the most awesome that I actually purchased myself.  My guy wins this one - he got me my dream camera for Christmas.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My guy.  There have been a lot of stressful situations going on this year, I'm maybe not the easiest person to be with, our expenses have gone up - through it all, he's patient and kind and loving and altogether just an amazing person.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I skip this question every year, I think.  Really, I should just take it out of the meme but then next year, I'll notice the missing number, forget why it's missing, go look it up, get annoyed, and then put it back but not answer it.  So I just won't answer it here.  edit - I left this answer in from last year's meme.

14. Where did most of your money go?
All the bills.  Lots and lots of bills.  Also, the vacations.  We won't be doing anything like that again for a while.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Vacations and cameras and friends and parties and movies and concerts.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
I hate to say it but Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke.  I don't even LIKE it but it was everywhere and it's catchy as hell.  It was EVERYWHERE.  My 63 year-old neighbor played it as her wake-up song in the mornings, that's how everywhere it was.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?
I'm happier
b) thinner or fatter?
Thinner! Because I am a shallow person who obsesses over my weight does never does much of anything about it.
c) richer or poorer?
About the same.  Maybe a little poorer what with the root canal and the accidental hitting a pole with my car.  The pole is not going to press charges, luckily, but I don't think it'll be cheap to make poor Clarence look new again.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
I should have spent more time outdoors.  Walking the dog doesn't count, either.   I've never been much of a hiker/beach bum/outdoorsperson but I think I might be missing out on some nice stuff.  I should check it out before it all gets irradiated or turns into a desert.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Cleaning.  Definitely cleaning.  I don't think the amount of cleaning I do will change with this new year, either.  Two dudes in the house, neither one of them capable of putting anything away.  So much cleaning.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
The three of us spent Christmas Eve at my parents house with them and other assorted family members.
On Christmas Day, J and I hosted an all-day brunch with a revolving door - friends and family drifted in and out all day.   It was lovely.

21. Did you fall in love in 2012?
I stayed very happily in love.

22. How many taco stands?
I had no taco stand food at all this year.  I'll try and do better next year.

23. What was your favourite TV program?
Doctor Who, as always.  Sherlock.  The Walking Dead.  Game of Thrones.  Orphan Black is a new favorite.  My not-so-secret guilty pleasure is Once Upon a Time.  It's so terrible but so GOOD.  But also really bad.  I love it.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No hate for anyone at all.

25. What was the best book you read?
I really enjoyed the Gone series by Michael Grant.  It was so dark!  I made The Kid read it as soon as I'd finished it, it was that good. .......   I'm trying to think of more books that aren't about the apocalypse or sci-fi or fantasy - I'm trying to sound like I'm intellectual - but I can't think of anything.  ...  *taking a break to run through the apartment and see if there are any Smart Books I've read and enjoyed that maybe I've forgotten about*
Some good novels, a couple of memoirs, a couple of graphic novels. I reread a bunch of favorites, stuff by Jane Austen and Dorothy Parker.  2014 will be the year I read all the science books. 

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
This Christmas playlist by my friend Max.  Some of the coolest Christmas music ever, ever, ever.  Save it for next year - you'll love it.

27. What did you want and get?
A very most awesome camera.  I have named him Elwood P. Dowd and he and I are going to make wonderful things together.

28. What did you want and not get?
A unicorn.

29. What was your favourite film of this year?
I can't remember anything in particular.  My favorite film-going experience?  A girlfriend and I saw His Girl Friday at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica.  One of the best comedies ever made, on the big screen.  Cary Grant's chin dimple, larger that life. 

30. What did you do on your birthday?
I can't remember.  Is that bad?  I'm sure it was nice.  The trip to Paris a week earlier was for my birthday.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A unicorn

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Tights.  Lots and lots of tights.  Black ones, brown ones, green ones, spotted ones, all the tights. 

33. What kept you sane?


Coffee?  Willpower?  I don't know.  I'm not sure if I am sane.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I'm not even sure what it means to 'fancy' but I know that this video fills me with delight.

Otherwise, I'm coming up blank...

35. What political issue stirred you the most?
Obamacare, the shutdown, Syria - a year full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

36. Who did you miss?
My grandparents.  Always my grandparents. 

37. Who was the best new person you met?
I've made a few awesome new friends this year.  It's been great.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
Floss your teeth.  Seriously.  Floss.*

*Isn't that a strange word?  Floss.  I typed it and then almost immediately started to wonder if that's actually a word.  Floss.  Flossflossfloss.

39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year
Don't stop me now 'cause I'm having a good time

Sunday, December 1, 2013

I Could Have Danced All Night

We went to a Masquarade ball last night and if I hadn't been dancing I would have been taking pictures like crazy.  Everyone looked amazing and and THE DANCING!  Waltzes and quadrilles and Virginia reels and dance cards and lemonade.  Everyone needs to go to a ball at least once in their lives. 
The Kid dressed as a skeleton and danced very, very carefully.  It was adorable. He was out there quite a bit, too.  He's a keeper, that one.  The Guy wore a suit and a very cool mask and helped stuff me, my gown, and my six feet of peacock feathered train into the car because he is a gentleman. 
My mother, who went as a butterfly, made both of our costumes and people went bananas over them. She is a genius with needle and thread. 
It's occurred to me more than once that I am a very lucky lady, have worn twice in as many years the most incredible gowns in the world. 

The dancing was so much fun, partly because dancing and partly because the dances were 'called' - a lot like square dancing but more falling on the ground as ladies trip over their skirts. There is also the possibility of crashing into someone because you turned left when the other seven people in your set turned right.  It's all very exciting and surprisingly dangerous.  I almost fell over my own dress but I was lucky enough to be partnered with a dance instructor who caught and steadied me so smoothly that the whole thing looked like a very cool dance move.  The floor was crowded and if I'd been with anyone else, I'm pretty sure I would have taken half the ballroom down with me. 

I'll put up some photos in the next couple of days.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Hanging out with Quasimodo

One of the most fun things to happen to me on any trip happened in Paris. Our hotel was very near Notre Dame and on our second visit to the Cathedral, we took the tower tour. This is a very basic sort of thing - for $20 each, you wait in a very long line, then climb up a whole bunch of stairs in the north tower. Upon reaching the top, you are funneled into the narrow bridge connecting the towers. Very tall chain link fences on either side of the walkway prevent the tourists from tumbling over the side and locked gates keep you from going anywhere except along that walkway and directly to the stairs of the south tower, where you climb back down again. 
The day we took the tour was beautiful. It was cold and sunny and clear and we waited in line with a hundred other people, climbed a bajillionty steps with them, and finally reached the top.
We oohed and ahhed and then I noticed the gate right next to us. I gave it a shove because that's what I always do when I see a gate and to my complete surprise, it opened. I am not one to ignore an invitation.  Five seconds later, I'm through the gate and it's magical. There are no fences, there are the creepiest gargoyles I've ever seen and they're RIGHT THERE. 

The kid and the guy followed me and it was just the three of us romping around the tower.  

We hung out for quite a while, poking around, touching gargoyles and taking pictures.  

At one point, I realized that I'd left the family behind and when I went back to find them, I saw the guy taking a photo of the kid holding a broom. They'd found it leaning against a wall of the tower and it had the name Quasimodo burned into it. 

By this point, a few other people had trickled through the gate, maybe five or six in total.  We hung out for a while and then I continued around the tower. Now I could see the walkway, packed with people and to my right, an open door. I stood there for a second, wondering what I should do when a guy in overalls came out the door and stopped in surprise. We kind of stared at each other for a second and then he said something in French.  I have no idea what it was but I'm pretty sure it ended with a question mark.  I made my very best Lost and Confused face.  He asked something else, I still didn't understand and then we stared at each other some more.  A second later, another guy came out the door, this one much older and clearly in charge.  He took one look at me and started yelling, arms waving, face going red, the works.  I was still doing Lost and Confused and then I added Feeble Shrugging. The older guy yelled some more and marched over to a gate that opened onto the walkway where everybody else was. I followed meekly behind and just as he's unlocking the gate, two more people pop out from around the corner behind me. The guy completely lost it. He pushed me through the gate and locked it behind me. Then he stormed the people behind me, yelling and shooing the other stragglers back around the tower and through the first gate we'd all come through. I could hear him yelling the whole time. He locked the gate, yelled some more, and stomped off. The kid and the guy found me on the walkway eventually, we took some tourist-approved photos from the tourist-approved location and that was it. We were safely part of the group and our self-guided tour was over. 

Always look for the unlocked gates.

Monday, November 4, 2013

So much with the things

There's been a lot of really great stuff happening in the last year.  For example, a friend and I are hosting monthly Tea and Shakespeare gatherings.  We get a pile of people together, choose a few acts from various plays, and everybody reads and laughs and drinks tea and generally has a great time.  We have our victims friends do ridiculous awesome little things when they're reading, like talk in a squeaky voice or spin in place and this, in our opinion, improves the play quite a lot.

Tea and Shakespeare in the park

This was Midsummer's Night Dream in Echo Park. We wore flower crowns and blew bubbles because that is what you do when you are being very Arty and reading Shakespeare.

The other thing my brilliant friend organized was a square dance last Saturday and it turns out that square dancing is AWESOME.  You don't even have to know what to do!  They just order you around the whole time and it's fantastic!
It's quite a workout, all that hopping and skipping and do-si-do-ing.  I helped with the decorating and I'm pretty sure that was the first time in my life I had to move bales of hay around.  It's like I'm a real farmer now.


Monday, October 28, 2013

The beginning of catching up.

No posts here since April.....

That's a long time, isn't it?  I'VE BEEN BUSY!  I have!  Really!  There's a lot going on in Casa Banana.
Let's see... Since April there's been a trip to Mexico City with my BFF to visit my brother,
 That's us, there. In glorious Mexico City. More photos to come, eventually.  It was pretty great.  We saw the pyramids and ate a lot of food and went to a creepy witchcraft market and bought a lot of things and I finally learned how to haggle.  I am (was) a truly terrible haggler.  More than once, I've offered to pay full price for something once my shopping companion had talked the seller into a lower price.  I was concerned that the seller wouldn't actually commit to the lower price and if my friend wanted it that bad, I could just get it for her...  I did this kind of a lot and Jesse had basically forbidden me from saying a word whenever he was discussing prices with someone.  Mexico City changed all that.  I haggle all the time, for all the things and it's shocking how many people are OK with lowering their price.  I mean, it's not for places like Target but I do a lot of shopping in Downtown LA and those guys are tricking people into overpaying all over the place.  I realize that this is probably not new knowledge to everybody else in the world but it's exciting for me.

Then there was a trip to the Grand Canyon with the Guy and the Kid.
Grand Canyon
 That's us, there. At the glorious Grand Canyon. More photos to come, eventually.  We brought the Doctor along and all of us had a great time.  The trip was planned as a long camping road trip kind of thing and since I booked the campsite at the Grand Canyon, I asked the Guy to find campsites on the road to and from the place.  We ended up spending the first night of the trip at a campsite in Needles, California.  For those of you who are not familiar with Needles, California, I give you some information.  1) It is not actually in California, it is on the face of the sun.  There's some kind of travel science magic thing that makes this possible.  2) It is the most boring city of ever.  3) The average daily temperature there is roughly 3 bajillion.
We lasted one night because we are Ultimate Campers.  Then we went to a hotel and stayed there until our campsite at the Grand Canyon opened up because camping is the worst.   At the new campsite, feral Elk ate our tablecloth and giant ravens tried to eat my dog.  I imagine that's what living in the apocalypse is like.
The Grand Canyon was very beautiful, we oohed and aahhed and then canceled our stay at the third campsite in favor of our beds and air conditioning.

The kid had a big show where he got a pie in the face.  I have no photo of that magical face/pie moment but I have this:

Guys and Dolls
 He's the tall one in the middle. It was a cute show.  Kind of odd seeing 11 and 12 year old girls vamping it up and singing about giving you a good time but hey - kids these days, amiright?

There's been a bunch more stuff but I've realized that if I illustrate every single thing with a photo, this post will be way too long to deal with.  I'll talk about more stuff later, possibly.

I had my teeth cleaned for the first time (ever) today and the dental hygienist was surprised and impressed that my teeth are as good as they are.  Judging from her expression when I told her that I'd never done it before, she must have expected them to be falling out of my face.  I have good teeth, people. 


Monday, April 22, 2013


I'm doing a thousand different things now and while sometimes it gets overwhelming, I'm having a lot of fun. 
One thing I'm doing is helping a friend open up a salon. Designing and arranging the space has become my favorite thing.  It's like creating a movie set!  Everything has to be just so, it has to say something specific and be harmonious with all the things around it. If I weren't doing a million other things, I'd want to take a design course!   For now, I'll stick to learning how to do lash extensions and teaching myself how to speak French and how to play bass guitar. 
Oh!  And how to develop my own film. I'll be using a friends darkroom tomorrow to develop some photos I took while at the Grand Canyon. I'm not sure if the camera I'd been using actually works so the developing process will be extra exciting. 

I'll get back to the trip to Paris soon. I've finally finished uploading all the photos. Now I've got a couple of fashion shoots, a trip to Mexico City, and the Grand Canyon trip photos to get to. Someday I will catch up with myself. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Day le first, continued.

In a Banana first, I've managed to get quite a few photos edited and uploaded in the first two days after coming home from Paris.  Now, keep in mind that I took roughly a squillion photos during the trip.  Having "quite a few" done means got about an eighth of the photos done.  For me, that's a lot.
The first of very, very many cafe cremes that we had in Paris.

This was the very first thing we saw.  We took the metro from the airport and our stop was just outside of the Notre Dame. 

Pretty spectacular, right?  No photos we took did justice to the beauty and awe-inspiring majesty of the place.  Also, J almost knocked down a wall dividing the tourists from the people worshiping in the rows.

This guy is pretty gruesome.  I think it might be Saint Denis.  I bought a book (at Shakespeare and Company!  I was there!  I shopped !) called Paris: A Secret History.  Pretty fascinating read, lots of weird and cool stories about the history of the City Of Lights.   The point being that's where I read the story of Saint Denis.  Which is also on Wikepedia.  Ah- when I went to the Wiki page, I saw a photo of this statue.  So there.  It's confirmed.  St. Denis.

The aforementioned Shakespeare and Company.  AKA The Awesomest Place In The History Of Ever. 

This was the spectacular view from our hotel balcony.  We stayed at the Hotel Cardinal and it was pretty great.  There were a couple of things that went wrong during our stay (the wallpaper peeled off in a massive piece near the window, the window in the shower broke right off the hinges, The Kid slept in a red sweater and now his sheets, they are pink) but they seemed to be cool about it.  Kind of hard to tell, really.  My French is not so good.   I'm just going to assume that they're used to problems with the buildings.  After all, most of them (the buildings, not the people) are well over a hundred years old.   Also, there was a bidet (not pictured).
And that's the first day.  Odds are good, given my bloggy history, that I won't mention the trip anymore after this.  Hopefully, though, I'll get more in here.  There are some great stories from Paris.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Day le first.

Jet lag has struck and I'm lying in a hotel bed in Paris at two in the morning listening to the sound of a night winding down. There's a cafe across the street from the hotel and it's been a good evening for them.
We got in at 8 in the morning and instead of sleeping on the plane, I thought it would be fun to watch 3 movies. We got to our hotel at 9am, we'd been awake for roughly twenty hours, and we were told that we couldn't check in until two. Five hours of more not sleeping. I was fine with this. I've got YEARS of not getting any sleep, what with nighttime jobs and daytime relationships. I dragged an exhausted husband and a nearly comatose child out into the streets and we went to Notre Dame and then Shakespeare and Co. That bookstore was a dream come true. I hadn't seen it when I'd been to Paris before and that's a good thing - without a family to answer to, I would have just moved right in. The bookstore is large but you'd never know it because there are so many twists and turns and little nooks to explore. The Kid wedged himself into a kind of cabinet with two typewriters inside and as I browsed upstairs, I could hear him clacking away on the typewriter keys. ALL the new books downstairs, lovely, dusty old books upstairs, with little cots scattered here and there. I met someone once who said they'd lived in the children's book section for a little while. That must have been amazing. It's my idea of a perfect world. If anything ever happens to J, I'm going to pack right up and move into the bookstore.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The things that are up

Now that I'm not working a day job, I've got three other jobs keeping me busy. Photography is still the main gig but I've added Perfumer and occasional Fancy Event Lady to the mix.
The perfume thing is great. We've got funny and flirty and occasionally, slightly naughty names for them, like Temptress, Granny Panties, Flirt, and our latest, Himbo (that's the male version of a bimbo).
We sell them online and at the Melrose Trading Post, as well as in a few stores and they're doing really well. It's pretty exciting to watch this grow. I'm be attending some small business seminars in the next couple of months, too. Self-improvement! I has it!
The Fancy Event Lady job is a lot less complex. A few times a month, I get dressed up and stand around for a couple of hours and take names, or press elevator buttons, or show people where things are, or, rarely, hold a tray of tasty tidbits. It's for a very fancy hotel that has a residential complex. Actors, producers, athletes, musicians, all kinds of fancy people live there and if they have a party or if there's a open house at the residence, a few girls are hired to help with the decorations. Mainly by being decorative. My favorite job, so far, has been Elevator Girl. The residences are so fancy that every floor has a separate fob that allows access and so they need us to help guests get to where they're going. I stand in a tiny gilded box, press a button, and have twenty second relationships with all kinds of people, guest and resident alike. When
I'm not chatting with someone, I think of ways to make standing in an elevator more fun and occasionally worry about earthquakes.
1) Stand in a corner of the elevator, facing the corner, and rock very slightly, ignoring everyone that comes in.
2) Stand right in the doorway, with my back to the lobby, and ignore everyone that needs to get past me into the elevator.
3) Lie down right in the middle, face up or down, I haven't decided yet, and act as though it's perfectly normal. Greet new arrivals, etc.
4) Jump out and scream in their faces when the doors open.

I haven't done any of these (yet) but I stand there giggling to myself when I think about them. If the concierge is watching the camera feed, he probably thinks I'm crazy.

That's it. The busy part of my life, at the moment. I like it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Good things are afoot

My friend and I have started a perfume business and it's doing surprisingly well.  It's also surprising that I've started a perfume business.  It started as a joke and now it's a source of income.  So, you know.  That's good.
The other super-awesome thing is the inclusion of The Kid in the upcoming trip to Paris.  This is very cool and I can't wait until he finds out that he's coming with us.  My trip was so long ago that it's as though I'd never been - I don't remember a single practical thing, like how to get to places.  It's going to be great.
I've finally finished uploading the photos from Hawaii.  They're all here and I love looking at them.  It was an amazing trip.
It occurs to me that for someone who is always complaining about a lack of travel in her life, I really get around.  Last year I was all over the U.S. and this year I'm going to Paris and Mexico City.  And that's only my plans up to May.  The summer will have a road trip to the Grand Canyon and at least another trip to Mexico.  I think there will be visits to the East coast scattered throughout the year and at least one visit to my grandparents in Missouri. 
It's going to be a fantastic year.

Friday, January 4, 2013

This is how it usually works...

The shiny new car came with damaged pinstripes so one week later I'm waiting here at the dealership while they fix the problem.  The whole thing was supposed to take fifteen minutes - I've been here nearly an hour. This isn't a Grumpy Post, though.  This is a Post, Interrupted. I know how things work, you see.  If you're waiting for something and begin to feel impatient, start a project. It could be anything: Paint your nails, build a canoe, blog, whatever. The second you really start to get into the project,  the thing you'd been waiting for in the first place will be ready and then you'll be annoyed all over again.  Now you're wishing the thing had taken just a tiny bit longer because you just want to finish that last bit of