Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Blackout

“I need to schedule a dinner with the neighbors,” I said checking email on my desktop computer.
“Speaking of dinner, you hungry?” Mr. Wonderful said walking toward the kitchen
“First look at this crazy cat,” I said clicking on a feline .GIF video.
“We need to eat dinner.”
“Just watch it,” I said clicking the ‘play’ button.
ZIP! My computer and every light in The House went dark.
“The power just went out.”
“So... I guess we won’t be eating dinner.”

It had been hot in the City of the Steaming Angels, which is the name L.A. has earned this summer thanks to the punishing Heat Miser weather. Every day temperature records were broken with temps hitting triple digits in Fahrenheit and Celsius. Needless to say, it was hot.

But when it's that unbearable I have my methods of coping with the heat: 1) Swim in the pool. 2) Go the mall (not to shop but to avoid the relentless sun). 3) Run the air conditioner 24/27. Because 24/7 is not long enough.

Unfortunately I was not the only one with this strategy of high-heat coping. Every single person in the City of the Steaming Angels was doing exactly the same thing, which is why at 9 PM on a weeknight, a ZIP! sounded and plunged us into darkness. And Mr. Wonderful didn’t even get to see that crazy cat video.

“I’ll check online to see what’s happening,” I said digging in my purse. With my desktop computer dark, I grabbed my mobile phone. Unfortunately I hadn’t recharged it in days so it was flat and dark.
“Good plan,” Mr. Wonderful said eyeing my useless phone. I hate making a fool out of myself in front of him.

“Okay. I’ll just check the local news on TV—” I stopped before making a complete and utter fool of myself. Although being married to me this long, I’m sure my spouse is onto me being a tad foolish.

No internet, no computers, no TV, no crazy cat videos? This blackout was the worst.

“Okay. I’ll go check on things,” I said marching outside through the front door. For miles around every house and street lamp was obscure, but in the sky overhead the night was clear and bright with stars. It was beautiful.

“You going for a drive in this blackout, Harold?” I said noticing our 86 year-old neighbor standing on his driveway before his closed garage door.
“I’m not going anywhere since this electric garage door won’t open.” So, the blackout had not affected Harold’s orneriness.
“Maybe you should stick close to home.” Harold lifted his eyebrows and without saying a word, said I was a fool.
“What if my heart and I need to go to the hospital? I can’t even get my car out of the garage.” The blackout prevented me from watching a crazy cat video, but it brought this 86 year-old man’s thoughts to life, death and speeding tickets.
“If you ever need to go, we’ll drive you,” I said pointing to our car parked in the driveway.
That seemed to settle Harold down. Or maybe his complaining was just on the blink.

“This is some blackout,” Jerry said passing his rose bushes to meet me on the street.
“No kidding. Do you know who’s affected?”
Jerry looked at me turning his head like a parrot. “We are.” Great, now my husband, Harold and Jerry think I’m an idiot.
“By the way, here’s your bowl back,” he said passing me an empty stainless steel bowl. “Your tomatoes were delicious.”

“Hi, neighbors!” Charles called out as he met Harold, Jerry and me in the street.
“Long time no see!” I said giving him a hug.
“All work and no fun makes Charles a dull boy.”
“Hey, we’ve been meaning to invite you to dinner.”
“Tell us when and we’ll be there!”

I gave him a date, he wrote it on his hand in ink, and we told jokes for a while, the four of us just standing to the side of the street during a blackout. It wasn’t bad being forced to hang with the neighbors because we had a wonderful group of neighbors. It took a blackout to remind me how great everyone was.

This blackout was pretty good.

Just then ZIP! The lights in all the houses and street lamps turned back on. The blackout was over! I hugged Harold, Jerry and Charles then returned to The House.

Inside Mr. Wonderful had illuminated the living room with a dozen tea light candles, turning the space into a romantic island in our life’s voyage.

“The blackout’s over,” Mr. Wonderful said looking at the illuminated electrical lamps and blowing out a candle.

“Let’s make the blackout last a little while longer,” I said turning off the electric lights and re-lighting the candles.

Mr. Wonderful didn’t think I was a fool now.

This blackout was the best.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good News x2 and Bad News

“Here’s an after-dinner espresso,” I said setting a small cup and saucer on the table. 
“Good idea,” Mr. Wonderful said rubbing his hands together in anticipation.
“To go with it I made biscotti.”
“Great idea.”
“And homemade tiramisu.”
“… What’s wrong?”

Mr. Wonderful is very astute. He tells me things about me that I can’t even tell how he could tell them because they are so telling. One time he came home from the studio after 10 PM and said, “Has your sister called?”
“No. Why?”
“She’s going to call you tonight.”
“If she hasn’t called by now, she won’t call at all.”

At 10:45 PM she called. How Mr. Wonderful knew she would call,  I have no idea. In fact Mr. Wonderful didn’t know how he knew it either. He called it a premonition. I called him lucky.

This time he didn’t get lucky with a premonition of a phone call, he just saw me piling on the good Italian sweetness and figured: I was in the dumps; I was planning a Godfather movie viewing marathon; I wanted to eat my way to happiness. He is so lucky at guessing what is up with me.

“What’s going on,” he asked dunking a biscotti into the cup of espresso.
“I have good news, bad news and more good news.”
“Well lay it on me.”

I started with good news #1: a TV sitcom I wrote made the Semi-Finals of the PAGE Awards, a very prestigious screenplay writing competition in Hollywood.
Mr. Wonderful looked at me blankly.
“I means my sitcom was one of the top 25 written sitcoms of the year.”
“That’s great!” Mr. Wonderful said high-fiving me.

Then I progressed to the bad news, which was that this same TV sitcom did not make the cut to be among the Finalists.
He smiled and nodded dumbly.
“It means my sitcom was not one of the top 10 sitcoms of the year.”
“I still liked it,” Mr. Wonderful said giving me a fist bump.
It was nice that he liked it but I would have been stoked if more PAGE judges had liked it enough to make it a Finalist.   


A long time ago I learned to end on a high note, so I reminded my spouse and biggest cheerleader that I had one more piece of good news. 

“Guess what the good news is,” I said biting into the tiramisu.
“I have no idea,” he shrugged.
“Don’t you have a premonition or feel lucky about guessing it?”

So I told him: My book Evolution of a Wine Drinker was reviewed by Big Al's Books and Pals, the respected book review website, and received its highest marks—5 Stars!

“That’s awesome!” Mr. Wonderful said picking me up and swinging me around the kitchen. I couldn’t stop laughing. Nor could he. 

Sometimes it’s good to forget premonitions and live in the moment with great book reviews and delicious tiramisu with the man of The House. Here’s to good news!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A Pool in a Drought

“It’s been so hot lately,” I said sipping a glass of white wine during a night out with the girls.
“That shouldn’t bother you,” my friend Jeannie said. “You have a gorgeous pool to cool off in.”
“A pool? Oh my god.” Domino said. “How irresponsible. I mean like, there’s a drought and everything… You know?”
Yes. Like. I know.

It had been a while since I’d gone for drinks with the girls and in the meantime new girls had been added to the group. My dear friend Jeannie was present and she had invited a work colleague of hers named Domino, which wasn’t her real name, of course. Her mother had christened her “Mavis” but finding it too common, she chose her own unique name; one that happened to be synonymous with one of the most popular kid’s games of all time. 

Knowing Domino—the game—but not the person, and realizing that she and Jeannie had a connection, I refrained from responding with anything more than a tight smile and nod, which was the right thing to do since as the night wore on I noticed Domino had many opinions about many things, such as: “Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have ruined marriage for everyone.”; “Animals should rule the world.”; and “We vegetarians make the best lovers.”

It seems to me that if two consenting adults want to marry, they should be able to do so. And Animals do rule the world if you consider politicians as pigs. And as far as vegetarians being the best lovers? How would Domino know when she was sporting leather shoes and a Coach leather handbag? As they say, let the person without sin cast the first ostrich-skin Jimmy Choo shoe.

The next day I tried to shake off Domino’s comment but in truth, I felt horrible about having a pool during this long California drought. I compensated for it by living with minimal water in other ways. Namely: 1) I converted my yard to a drought tolerant oasis; 2) I washed my produce over a big bowl to collect the water, which I reused to irrigate my herb garden; and 3) I took the fastest showers in the west. In fact, my showers were so fast, Mr. Wonderful questioned if I even got wet. Pssh. Men!    

But even though I was saving water in other ways and places, I still felt guilty about my pool. Call it Pool-Owner’s Guilt.

Then a European friend sent me an article from the British newspaper, The Guardian. Basically the article said because of the drought, L.A.’s backyard pools should go the way of the dinosaur: die leaving their remnants across the landscape while becoming popular with fourth graders nationwide. After reading The Guardian article, I felt even worse. Something had to change. I had to do more to conserve water.

“I’m forfeiting taking showers,” I told Mr. Wonderful.
“That won’t save any water. You barely use water now,” he said looking up from his cup of espresso.
He did have a point. 
“Alright then,” I said. “You can stop taking showers.” 
“Do you really want me to?” In our early days of owning The House, Mr. Wonderful installed a window on a 99 degree fahrenheit day. I could smell his sweat from here to the Venice Canals. And back.

I escaped outside to wrack my brain on how to alleviate my Pool-Owner’s Guilt. Maybe I could stop drinking green tea thereby saving the water for another purpose! But me operating without a cup of morning caffeine was not a pretty sight. I got it! Mr. Wonderful could stop drinking espresso! That’s it! But espresso already had so little water in it, would it even make a difference? 

“Morning,” my 86-year-old  neighbor said. “Something on your mind?”
“Hey, Harold,” I said picking up the LA Times newspaper from the driveway. “I just feel guilty for owning pool in a drought. It seems wasteful and irresponsible to have all that water. What will other people say?”
“You don’t fill your pool every day.”
“You use it every day.”
“You got rid of the grass in your yard.”
“Well, when everyone else gets rid of their lawn, which they have to water all the time, then they can complain about your pool. Because their lawns drink up more water than your swimming hole.”
“It’s in the newspaper,” Harold said hoisting his flag and disappearing into his house.

I opened the LA Times and saw their front page story about how much water pools in L.A. “waste”. According to the article, pools use less water than lawns! And with pool covers, use less water than drought tolerant gardens! And VoilĂ ! My Pool-Owner’s Guilt  vanished like water sprinkled on the street on a hot September day. 

Thank you, LA Times! Without further ado, it’s time for a swim in my gorgeous pool! 


Monday, September 1, 2014

Men (Not) at Work

It's Labor Day and Mr. Wonderful and I are celebrating by not working, hammering or laboring anywhere. Especially not in The House!

Enjoy this beautiful work-less day!