(not the teenage kind)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Whoops, I Did It Again

I have now almost set my house on fire twice while trying to cook.  And by cook I mean making pasta. And by making pasta I mean heating up water, throwing in the pasta, and then heating up store bought  sauce.  

The first time I was talking to my sister as the pasta finished.  I remember draining the pasta, adding the sauce, and then hanging up.  I finished eating and then went into my office.  Awhile later there was a strong smell coming from the kitchen.  I forgot to turn off the burner for the sauce.  The remaining sauce had burnt as had the skillet.

Yesterday, I put a pot of water up to boil.  And then I got bored.  And a watched pot never boils. So I went to my office to play on the Etsy shop that Julie finally convinced me to open (more on that in another post).  About 45 minutes later I remembered the boiling water.  Fortunately, it was a big pot so a quarter of the water was still there.

I give up.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Change In Perspective

Almost four years ago, my dad, mom and I went to Houston one weekend in October to attend the wedding of my second cousin, Nathan.  I was still working my corporate job and the timing turned out to be very stressful for me.  I spent a great deal of time on my blackberry and remember working on the computer in the business center of the hotel until late both nights. As we were getting ready to board the plane going home, my dad discovered he had left his cell phone and his wallet in the rental car, got extremely angry and upset, and started treating my mom and I horribly.  The rental agency found his stuff and sent it back to him but when I got home I wondered why I had even bothered going.

During the wedding reception, I kept going outside to check my blackberry and I kept running into Christopher, also a second cousin (first cousin of the groom), who was outside a lot taking cigarette breaks.  Chris has a big personality and is extremely personable.  I do not know what we talked about but I could not help but like him.

Chris' parents had a BBQ at their house the day after the wedding and, unbeknownst to me, my dad and Chris had a talk about law schools.  My dad told Chris about a law school here in L.A. that Chris had never heard of.  He applied and was accepted and the only time we saw him in his three years of law school was when he unexpectedly showed up at my dad's funeral.

So I was surprised to receive an invitation to his law school graduation which was this past weekend.  I love graduations.  They are filled with hope and corny music and corny speeches and they make me cry. Chris' mom, dad, and one of his brothers were here and my mom and I joined them and our other cousin Sam (who lives in L.A.  and is the brother of Nathan, the one who got married four years ago.  Are you still following along?) for lunch in Hollywood after the ceremony.

I sat next to Chris and he told us that during his first week of school he was at the law school library and looked out the window and saw my dad motoring on his scooter down Wilshire Boulevard.  Later, we all talked about the BBQ after the wedding and how my cousin Liz had bought portobello mushrooms for me and how her husband Bill had BBQ'd it for me.  "I never cooked a portobello mushroom before,"  Bill said.  "So I just cooked it the way I would a steak.  Was it any good?"  I told him it was great.  "But you and George kept making fun of me.  You gave me a really hard time about that portobello mushroom."

And then all my memories of that trip four years ago started to shift.  Suddenly, it wasn't about being stressed at work and losing a cellphone.  Now it was about helping Chris start his career and remembering that my cousin cared enough to buy me special food, and getting to bond later over the memory of  being teased by the menfolk at a Texas BBQ.  

Friday, May 16, 2008

Get Your Choo Choo On

Last Saturday was National Train Day and I volunteered to sit at the Conservancy table at our very own Union Station. And even though I did not see one advertisement for the event, the place was hopping. Train geeks have their own way of knowing.

My friend John was sitting with me. He is leaving this summer for M.I.T. and in two or three years when he comes back he is going to do great things like make the L.A. River work again or make all the traffic go away or maybe even stop my dog from barking whenever the sprinklers turn on which is what is happening here right this minute. Because I totally want to be John's assistant when he comes back, I agreed to pose with him for this picture:

John was sure that this thing was supposed to be an artichoke and, in fact, kept calling him "Artie" but it turned out that he was a leaf. Because Amtrak is going green! And to really ensure my place in John's entourage, I insisted that he pose for me with the "Wicked" car so I would have something with which to bribe him:

Also at our table was a local newscaster who, during our Union Station docent training, was assigned to trail me and another John and give us feedback before we actually started giving real tours. He chose to go the tough love route and never removed his sunglasses, never smiled, told me I pronounced "epoch" wrong, and claimed that a fact I was citing was incorrect even though it was right there in the training manual. John and I sat as far away from him as possible.

At the end of our shift, however, he made eye contact and mentioned that he remembered me and the hard time he gave me and said something like, "You understand now why I needed to do that, right?" And I mumbled something and John and I ran to the miniature train exhibit as quickly as we could.

And, no, I didn't understand because I have now been doing these tours for several years and there has not been one group who hasn't looked me in the eye and smiled and wanted me to be successful.

Except yesterday I was back at Union Station giving a tour to a group of home schooled kids and maybe I did need tough love to prepare for them. I purposely volunteered for that tour because I wanted to see my bias against home schoolers challenged. Sadly, I think my bias stood up well. There were twelve kids ranging in age from nine to fifteen and seven adults, all moms, and when I asked how many of them had been to a mission the showing of hands among the kids was dismal. And I'm no expert but I think that if you're nine or older you should be able to contain yourself from randomly lying on the floor in a public place. Or jumping on counters at a historic landmark. Or that you should be able to ask more insightful questions than "When are we going to Chinatown?"

They were actually a nice enough group and sent a complimentary note about me to the Conservancy so I'm not really complaining. I was taken aback, though, when I was saying good-bye and one of the mom's (who had earlier told me that it was obvious I felt very passionate about Union Station) said, "May the force be with you." Indeed.

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