Thursday, April 30, 2009

Question of the Day #176

It's my birthday, which got me thinking about other birthdays. Which in my case, is not necessarily a good thing. I actually had a birthday curse that lasted years, but that's a whole other story and a negative one at that. And today, I'm all about the good.

My brother and I went to college in Boston. We went to very different schools, but saw each other often. And as a guy who's been known to seek out a good time, he planned the ultimate birthday party when I turned 21.

The phone rang. I answered it.

"Hey, I figured out what we're doing for your 21st birthday."

"Um, you did?" I replied warily.

"Yeah. Baseball Birthday."


"Just collect 10 bucks from all your friends and leave the rest to me."

"10 bucks?" This was when Shawmut Bank spit out cash in $5 increments. Ten dollars was a good chunk o' cash.

"Yeah, $6.50 for a ticket, the rest for the keg," My brother said.

"Tickets? Keg? What keg?"

"Don't worry about it. Just get the cash and bring it to me in two days."

So, like a good little sister, I hung up the phone and over the next couple days, when I saw my friends, I invited them to Baseball Birthday.

"What's that?" They'd ask.

"I'm not sure," I'd answer.

But they all coughed up the ten bucks just to see where my crazy brother would lead us.

On my birthday, my friends and I assembled on my apartment's stoop. We lived on Newbury Street, which is Boston's equivalent of Fifth Avenue. (No, we weren't rich. My roommie and I shared a teeny one bedroom apartment behind a shop that sold handstitched Italian leather goods.)

"So what exactly is Baseball Birthday?" Someone asked as my brother rolled up with one of his roommates. They had a car, which was very rare in Boston. From it, they pulled a keg and sat it right in the middle of the walk.

The saleswoman in the leather shop stuck her head out the door and glared at us.

My brother handed everyone a keg cup and a bleacher seat ticket. We drank a lot of beer before the sky darkened and we started our stumble to Fenway Park. Our mob covered half a section of the bleacher seats. Then they coerced the rest of the section to howl out "Happy Birthday." We did the wave and splashed each other with beer and my boyfriend at the time tried to jump the wall and run across the field.

Thank God he didn't get arrested.

After the game, someone picked up the keg and we moved the party back to my brother's apartment where we could blast music and not worry about storekeepers. My 21st birthday party lasted all night long.

It was definitely the most memorable birthday I've ever had. So what about you? What was your most memorable birthday?


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Question of the Day #175

I'm daydreaming about a vacation. I haven't traveled alot. Sure, I've been all over the U.S., but not outside much, so I don't have a huge travelog to choose from when deciding the best of the best.

But years ago, when I found myself in a low spot, I rented a house on cliff overlooking the ocean in a small central coast beach town where there was absolutely nothing to do. I spent a week there, by myself, and worked on my manuscript, took long walks on the beach, watched amazing sunsets, cooked great meals and took care of myself.

That was probably the best vacation I ever took. What was your best vacation?


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Question of the Day #174

All right people, due to today's lack of imagination, we're going back to the "If" book. The question is, if you could spend a year searching the world for one thing, what would it be?

I would search for peace. Peace would be good.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Question of the Day #173

Saturday night, LDZ and I went to the LBC to meet up with some old friends of hers. One of them was staying at a craftsman bungalow, very much like Mansfield, where we used to live. After going out, we went back to the house, sat by the pool and played Questions until it was too late to keep our eyes open.

It was like we were 23 all over again.

While we talked about how tough it's been for some of us to find work, R said, "If things get bad enough, I'll just move to some tiny island, take people diving and enjoy the sun and the ocean. I call it my 'escape plan.'"

"Wow," I said. "An escape plan? That's a good idea."

"You need to get one," he said.

"Yeah, I do," I agreed.

What's your escape plan?


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Question of the Day #172

My friend Wendy is a superhero. In a cast. Last week, she went out for girls' night and some creepy guy came up behind her and began feeling her up. She spun around and punched the idiot in the face.

She broke a finger, but Lisa D, H and I are all very impressed that she actually threw down. We've all been groped inapproriately. We've thrown elbows, wriggled away and yelled at the slimballs, but none of us have ever had the courage, in that scary moment, to actually swing.

So, we'd like to know if you've had any courageous moments like that, when you've faced evil and actually had the guts to obliterate it?


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Question of the Day #171

Last night Lisa D. got the hiccups. We yelled "BOO!" in her face, suggested all sorts of relaxation exercises, which were unfathomable in a bar full of people yelling, "Yankees suck!" And finally, Jimmy the bartender gave her a lemon wedge sprinkled with sugar and splashed with bitters.

And like that, they were gone.

So I turned to her and said, "There it is! The Question of the Day! How do you get rid of your hiccups?"


Friday, April 24, 2009

Question of the Day #170

One of The Question of the Day regulars, Lisa D., is here! So of course, we've been pondering all sorts of profound things. And yesterday, as we puttered through LA traffic on the way to meet friends, we came up with a great question.

Which because we didn't write it down immediately, we completely forgot. Until, thankfully she remembered, this morning.

We were catching each other up about mutual friends and unfortunately, a lot of them were described as "out of work." We looked at everybody surrounding us in their fancy cars talking into their bluetooths and discussed spending and how, as Americans, we can be a little materialistic. ("A little" is putting it lightly in LA, where dogs are bred to match $3,000 purses.) We talked about, how as a nation, we "fell for it." Designer jeans, easy money, expensive cars, fancy vacations, homes we couldn't afford.

And we all know where that got us. So, as we pray and work towards recovery, we wondered if the next time things are on the rise, will we remember to be a little more cautious? Or will we, collectively, "fall for it" again?

What do you think?


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Question of the Day #169

So, during the amazing sunset the other night, a young girl from Boston clad in a bikini top and a mini-mini approached H and me. She babbled excitedly about the weather, about how she expected people in LA to be snobby and that she was so surprised at how nice everyone was. She asked about celebrity sightings and explained how she could never live in LA because all she'd want to do is go out and have fun. And that east coast life was way better because sometimes you just need a night by a warm fire.

We explained that it's not 90 degrees in April often and that the cold weather would be back by the end of the week. Although it would feel warm to her, because it takes awhile for east coasters to shed their thick skin. And then she asked how long I'd been here. I told her I'd been here almost 15 years.

As she did the math, her eyes popped. "Wait a minute. How old were you when you moved here? "

"I was 22. I'm 37 now."

"37?!?!" She screamed. The dudes next to us sporting hipster beachy hats turned to stare.

"Yep," I said as I slid down in my chair.

"WOW! I want to look like you when I'm 37! Who looks like you at 37? I thought you were like 30! When I'm 37, I'm gonna be old and fat and married and have kids hanging off every limb!"

"No, you're not. You'll take care of yourself..." H and I cooed.

But after she was gone, H said, "Don't you think it's fascinating that that girl pictured herself old, fat and covered with kids at 37?"

"Yes, I do think that's fascinating."

"Not only did she assume she'd be married, she assumed she'd have kids and she assumed she'd have let herself go. Like she didn't have a choice. Is that what everybody does on the east coast?"

"Not everybody." I pictured my Jersey Girls. Some are married, some have kids, but they all look great. Even hot.

"I think it's amazing that her view of 37 is that and that only," H said.

And when we got on the phone the next morning, we talked about it again. And we wondered, did she think she wouldn't have a choice about the rest of her life? Or that she wouldn't be able to control the outcome? Or that there's no life after 30 or something?

And if by picturing her life that way, would it turn out like that? Would she manifest a gaggle of kiddies and early wrinkles?

What early preconceptions did you have about life at your current age? And have any of them actually materialized?


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Question of the Day #168

After an amazing beach sunset, an inspiring conversation with a twentysomething Boston girl regarding the warmth of east coast winters and other reasons why she could never live in California, a couple beers, some Pete Rock and CL Smooth, three packs of oyster crackers, and much debate, this question is brought to you by the letter J:

Who do you like better, Billy Joel or Elton John?


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Question of the Day #167

So, when I lived with all my girlfriends, sorority style, straight out of college, a series of books filled with questions beginning with "If..." came out. We used to play Questions out by the pool, reading out of these books.

Just the other day, one of the girls gave me a couple "If..." books she had borrowed. I hadn't thought of them in years. But since they're sitting here on my desk, I'm going to choose a random question from the book.

Okay, here it is:

"If you could go back in time, as yourself, to live for one year, what year would you choose and where would you go?"

Hmm. Well, I'd say, I'd go back to August 2001 and relive the year, in LA, through August 2002. Thirty spun me a bit. Like suddenly I didn't recognize myself. And by 31, I'd made some not so bright, life altering decisions that I wouldn't mind going back to and altering. Just to see where I'd end up...



Monday, April 20, 2009

Question of the Day #166

When I was about 11 years old, a neighbor's cat had a litter of kittens and I fell in love with them. I begged my mom for a kitten and after annoying her long enough, she said okay. When we brought her home, she fit in the palm of my hand.

After a while, I started wheezing and having crazy coughing fits and during a visit to the doctor, we found that I was super allergic to cats. I took shots and all kinds of meds, but nothing helped. So eventually, (and I hate remembering that day) we had to give my kitten away.

Since then, I've avoided cats like crazy. And when I've been around them, things haven't been pretty. Like the time I got a cat hair in my eye at a party as a teenager and ended up looking like a cyclopse. (In front of my crush, of course.) Then there was the babyshower I wheezed, sneezed, itched and scratched through.

But in December, I attended a Christmas party, inhaler in pocket, and managed to breathe freely for six hours in a house with two cats. It wasn't until I sat on the sofa, late night, that I was affected. And this Saturday night, I visited that house again, without a problem. Then last night, as the ultimate test, I popped a Zyrtec and slept in a house with a cat. I didn't sleep much because the Zyrtec had me buzzing like a bee, but I didn't get sick either. Sure I wheezed here and there, but I could breathe.

It was like a miracle.

So now I'm wondering if our bodies really do change over time? Like when I was a kid, my mom was allergic to eggs. She loves them now. And my friend, F, has been allergic to shrimp and then not allergic to shrimp during different periods of her life.

So could this be the same type of thing? Am I just over it? Or is Zyrtec the king of allergy meds? Have you ever been allergic to something and then found that after a while you weren't? Or vice versa?


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Question of the Day #165

Last night, my friend M hosted a girls' night. And around 2:00 AM, after a few cocktails and lots of talk about waxing, friendship and men, we went up on to her roofdeck to take a picture.

I am clearly not a photographer.

In fact, this picture does nothing to show you what an amazing view of city lights she has. And I love city lights.

As a kid, I remember being in the backseat as my family drove into New York City. Those first few glimpses of the skyline were electric, even then. In college, the Boston skyline buzzed and the glow at the top of the Prudential building was like a lighthouse, guiding me home at night.

And years ago, we had a special spot, in "The Tower." A front row seat to downtown LA, where we'd contemplate everything from the next morning's breakfast to how we planned on changing the world.

When my sister in law, Simply V., came to visit, she took this picture from the top of Mulholland, near my house.
She did a great job of capturing that thing about city lights. That freeway is like an artery, pumping life through Hollywood. Bringing motion to the city. The lights are twinkling. Glowing with possibility.

Maybe that's it. Maybe that's my fascination with city lights. Possibility.

What is it about a city that intoxicates you?


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Question of the Day #164

H took me to sushi last night. (God bless H.) As we ate salmon sashimi and a fiery roll of some sort, we discussed the whole "grass is always greener" theory.

We talked about how married people will ask us, "Did you go out last night?" All curious. Maybe a wee bit jealous. But what about them? Aren't we a little jealous of them? After all, we agreed that it would be nice to eat dinner with someone other than each other once in a while.

So is it only natural to want what we don't have? And does that mean we want it any less?


Friday, April 17, 2009

Question of the Day #163

None of my friends (at least not my friends in LA) cook. They complain about not knowing how to cook or not having the desire to learn. So I decided to offer up prepared Suzie Foods so that after a long day of work, people can come home, pull some delicious homemade food from the freezer, heat it up and enjoy it without worrying about how it was made and if it's got crazy preservatives in it.

But here's the thing. I LOVE to cook. Right now, when a normal person would be enjoying breakfast, I'm simmering a pot of garlicky delicious black beans. Cooking for myself allows me to know exactly what is and isn't in my food. I love that I can flavor dishes just how I like them. I love that I can control the amount of fat or number of calories I take in.

But I get the feeling that most people are not like me. How about you? Where does your food come from? Do you cook? Take out? Eat from a box? Why?


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Question of the Day #162

Last night, this girl got up to sing Donna Summer's "Last Dance." She did it well. As I sang along, H said, "Last Dance is the 70's version of Closing Time." I sprang up out of my seat, got a length of paper from the register feed and started scribbling.

"What?" H asked.

"Word association. It could be good for the Question of the Day."

"Ooo. It could," she said.

So let's give it a try. When you read the words below, what are your instant thoughts? For example, if I think of the word "apple," I immediately think "juice."

1. Water
2. Freeway
3. Cheeseburger
4. Flower
5. Teach
6. Weekend
7. Breezy
8. Hot
9. Umbrella
10. Unicycle

(I'll post my answers as a comment so as not to cloud your creative minds.) What words do you tie to these words?


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Question of the Day #161

Last night, H and I went to our favorite pub and amidst all the sports fans and beer drinkers, this tall woman, in a long dark overcoat, with her hair twisted in a tight not, strode through the bar, walked up to me and said, "Can I ask you a question?"

I shrugged and said, "Sure."

"Oh, I'm sorry." She looked at me again and said, "I thought you worked here."

"I practically do. What's the question?"

"How are the burgers and how much are they?"

"They're good and about eight bucks."

She eyed H.

"How good?"

"Good," H said. "Not the best burger on the planet but they're pretty good."

The tightly wound, mysterious woman said, "I don't eat meat, but I'm craving a burger. So I'm going to honor the craving."

"You should honor the craving. Good for you," H said.

Then she disappeared. Who knows which restaurant's burger actually honored her craving, but H and I really liked that idea of "honoring the craving." All too often, we spend crazy amounts of energy denying ourselves what we really want.

So, and I'm not necssarily talking about food, what craving have you honored lately?


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Question of the Day #160

If you could play hooky today, where would you go and what would you do?

I'd go to the beach and lie in the sun with a good book and only think happy writer thoughts.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Question of the Day #159

You'd think that after delicious pork roast, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese and roasted veggies, it would take a crane to get us off the couch, right? Oh no. All it took was The Easter Bunny saying, "Okay. The beer is hidden. There are two Bud Lights for everyone here and a bonus Bud for one lucky winner. On your marks, get set, go!"

We ambled through the kitchen to the deck easily enough. Like this whole thing was no big deal. But once each of us filed through the sliding door, the competition was ON!

M elbowed R and slid down the stairs past him. Spotting people plucking bottles from deck corners, I blew past my competitors out into the yard. GB and K scoured raised beds. A yelped in delight as she snagged the Bonus Bud. My heart raced. I was empty handed! I inspected the nectarine tree. Was that a bottle next to the trunk? Yes! Score!

We were grown men and women, willing to body chuck each other for beer.

The Easter Bunny didn't mess around. She tucked a bottle between couch cushions, stashed beer in the BBQ and hid treasure in the rafters of the upstairs deck.

And after much scrambling, serious competition and uproarious laughter, the Easter Beer Hunt was over and everybody was a winner.

It's crazy how something so silly got us crazy competitive. When's the last time you got competitive when you didn't expect to?


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Question of the Day #158

Back when I lived at Mansfield, The Easter Bunny came to visit us. But unlike the normal egg hiding Easter Bunny, this Easter Bunny hid beer all over the backyard. We all grabbed Easter baskets and scrambled through the backyard finding beers tucked into flower pots, hidden in patio furniture, secreted by plants.

Choruses of "I found one!" resounded. After much laughing, 23 bottles were unearthed. But where was the 24th? We started to get serious. Looking in the pool filter. Was it taped up under the diving board? Had The Easter Bunny climbed the back wall? We searched everywhere for the missing beer.

So finally we interrogated The Easter Bunny.

"C'mon, where is it?" we asked.

"I don't know," she answered. "It's hard to remember where I stashed every one. Plus I have no idea where you found the ones you got!"

She had a point. And The Easter Bunny looked innocent enough. So we gave up the chase and drank our delicious treats.

And that night, as I got ready for bed, I went to close the window in my bedroom. As I cranked the handle for it to close, it got stuck. I cranked again. Not moving. So I opened the door to my poolhouse, went outside and pulled the last beer from inside the window.

"I found it!" I called out into the yard.

Lady A. laughed from her room across the pool. Mr. F. yelled, "Nice!"

And all was right in the world.

Today, the Easter Beer Hunt lives on. After we enjoy our potluck Easter dinner, The Easter Bunny will scurry outside as we hole up inside and promise not to peek. Then we'll search for hidden treasure.

What traditions do you enjoy around this time of year?


Saturday, April 11, 2009

Question of the Day #157

H is taking me out to the ball game today. That's right, it will be our first game of the season. Red Sox vs. Angels. And we're very excited for the competition, the roar of the fans, the feel of stadium seats and of course, the hot dogs.

What's your favorite part of baseball games?


Friday, April 10, 2009

Question of the Day #156

It's Friday. And I'm soooo glad this week is over. So in an effort to begin a fun, simple weeked, I have a fun, simple question for you.

What's your all time favorite movie?

Mine is a tie between The Sound of Music and Beautiful Girls. The Sound of Music reeks awesomeness because I grew up on it. I can recite every word, sing every lyric and spontaneously dance around like a Von Trapp at any given time. Lucky for you, I don't.

But Beautiful Girls hits me square in the heart because it's about a guy who after moving from his little hometown to NYC, returns for his 10 year high school reunion to find that everyone is still plowing snow for a living, pining after their high school girlfriends and positioning to drink at the same bar until they die. It takes a 13 year old Natalie Portman and a visit from out of towner, Uma Thurman, to convince the main character that his life is not so bad after all.

In short, there's nothing like going back to the place you grew up to make you want to go home.

Anyhoo, that's my two cents. Or my two movies. However you want to look at it.

So what are your all time favorite movies?


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Question of the Day #155

So my computer flipped its disc this morning and went cRaZy. I got an error message that windows had stopped working. I couldn't get online and my antivrius wouldn't open. Fearing the worst, I packed it up and headed down to the Geek Squad.

God bless the Geek Squad. Everything seems to be in working order once again.

But my whole morning was thrown off and I am waaaay behind. My head hurts because I didn't have a chance to eat before I sat at the Geek Squad for a couple hours. Or maybe it hurts because of stress.

Stress. My new middle name. Ugh.

Okay, so the question is, who has a funny story to cheer me up with?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Question of the Day #154

My friend Ryan is a professional motivational speaker who does sales coaching and life coaching. Last night he took me to dinner. We talked about how messy corners of my personal life have been affecting my ability to revise the manuscript I'm working on. Logically, my best writing comes when I feel my best. So he gave me some tips on how to avoid negative triggers and thoughts and maximize positive triggers and thoughts.

Normally, in the morning, the first thing I do is get up, check my email and post a question. Through our conversation last night, we determined that checking my email can trigger negative thoughts, "Like there's so much to do," or "more bills to pay," or whatever. And at the very least, checking email right away is a fabulous way to get sidetracked and distracted by anything but writing.

So to avoid that negative trigger, instead of checking email right away, I pulled out the latest notes on my manuscript, read them and went for a walk. I pondered them the whole way and figured out how to solve a timing issue, a plot issue and how to add more tension in several chapters. Then I went home and wrote until right now.

The easy lesson here is that by just shaking up my rountine, I got great results.

So can you think of any ways to shake up your routine to maximize your results?


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Question of the Day #153

Today's Question of the Day is brought to you by a fabulous wedding blogger, Krista. She asks, based on looks first, acting ability second, who would play you in the story of your life?

I have no idea who would play me. I'm drawing a blank on curly-qued thirthysomething brunettes...

So what about you?


Monday, April 6, 2009

Question of the Day #152

Baseball season has officially started! WOOHOO!

Summer nights, bright lights, hot dogs, cold beer, warm pretzels, chanting fans, talking smack, flailing waves, drama and trades, friends at the pub, my first live game on Saturday.

It's all happening...

What's your favorite season?


Sunday, April 5, 2009

Question of the Day #151

Yesterday, I was invited to an "Around the World in 80 Beers" party, featuring brews from Germany and Belgium. We tasted and rated everything from lemony hefeweizens to a potion reminiscent of liquid beef jerky - which after many grunts and moans, aptly scored 0's all around and was promptly poured down the sink.

The hosts created fabulous Germanesque "Brats in a Blanket," "German Meatballs" and "Un Der Pickles." But it was the "Mustard Krauten" (pronounced moostard krauten) that blew my mind.

Imagine sauerkraut and mustard, blended up in a food processor and smothered on "Brats in a Blanket." I know it sounds kooky, but this combo may be the best surprise I've ever tasted.

What crazy food combo do you love?


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Question of the Day #150

So I signed up for a blog carnival about trees. A blog carnival is a blog event dedicated to a particular topic. Bloggers can submit their materials to the carnival and a host will link back to bloggers' sites. Then new bloggers come to your site to see what you have to say about a topic.

Since a while back, I'd asked, "What's your favorite tree?" I figured I'd sign up. So over the past day or two, new bloggers have answered the question.

I'm fascinated by their answers. They answered in scientific terms. Trees I've never heard of. And I'm wowed by the fact that there are serious tree fanatics out there.

Which, in turn, made me ponder what interests other people have. I am clearly a foodie. I analyze foods, determine the secret ingredients in recipes and then attempt to better them on my own. I'm obsessive about getting the freshest, least expensive ingredients I can. And I love to grow my own food.

What are you a fanatic of?


Friday, April 3, 2009

Question of the Day #149

Yesterday, while "faking it," I noticed this banana tree. The homeowner had tied up the fruit so the tree wouldn't collapse under its weight. I started thinking about the idea that as a banana tree, its entire purpose is to create bananas. And maybe I was just bored out of my melon waiting for someone to send me off to the store for some more Red Bull, but I started to get all kinds of philosophical about this banana tree.

Was it sad that as a result of producing that amazing bunch of fruit, the tree could no longer stand up on its own? Or was it beautiful, in a Giving Tree sort of way?

Which of course, made me wonder, what would you'd be willing to snap in half for?


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Question of the Day #148

In Hollywood, people use the phrase, "Fake it 'til you make it," a lot. My friend got me a one day production gig today and that's my plan.

Now, I'm fairly sure that to do this job all that's required is common sense and the ability to memorize a Starbucks order, but I truly have no experience in production. Unless you count my three days as a Production Assistant when I was 25, during which I vaguely remember doing a lot of filing and fetching lunch. Although I did have the supercool priviledge of chauferring Chris Farley around for one of those three days.

So, I'm going to arrive on set, on time, in sneakers and let whatever happens happen. I'll smile when I'm confused. Smile when I'm annoyed. Smile when I'm 15 hours in and wondering why I agreed to fake it 'til I make it.

Have you ever faked it, like you knew how to do a job even though you didn't? How did it work out for you?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Question of the Day #147

All right, this question goes out to all you practical jokers:

What's the best April Fool's Day prank you ever took part in or witnessed? And if you can't think of the best one, tell me, has anyone been fooled today?