All posts by amyclites

Me Today, You Tomorrow

(originally posted on on 10/1/10)

Yesterday I attended a funeral.

Now I promise to try not to get morbid or unduly sad on you, dear Blog-Friend, but I feel it warrants mentioning because it’s often during these sorts of circumstances that one has moments of clarity.  The funeral was for a woman I had never met – she was the mother of a dear friend of Adam’s – but I wanted to be there to show my support for the family.

The internment ceremony – held at the celebrated and oft-filmed Hollywood Forever Cemetery –  was attended by just of few members of the family and close friends and officiated by a comfortingly gregarious Irish priest (complete with brogue!).  It was short and simple, but not without depth of feeling.  She had been married for nearly 70 years (!) and her husband, our friend’s father – was quite beside himself with the loss.  I had not anticipated having a strong emotional response myself, but seeing how much he (and everyone else) was missing her, I was moved to the point of needing a few tissues myself.  70 years with someone.  70 years.  Most of us will never know what it’s like to even know someone for 70 years, let alone at that level of intimacy.  All the stories.  All of those life moments shared, both good and bad.  I felt privileged, in some way, to be there while they said goodbye to her.

All those in attendance spent the day together, and I had several opportunities to talk with my friend’s father and share his memories not only of the times he spent with her, but of a lifetime totalling almost 90 years.  The Battle of Midway.  Traveling across China.  How downtown LA has changed in the last 60 years.  At one point towards the end of the night, he asked me “do you love yourself?”.  A pause before answering, “I think so.”  And encouragement to stay positive.

Other friends have had losses of loved ones recently, and it’s in these moments that we realize, however cliched it may sound, that life is precious, and short, and the only thing fear and hesitation brings is regret.  How I hope to remember that lesson daily.

My friend’s father’s place next to his wife in the mausoleum already bears his name and epitaph, taken from a phrase he saw at a convent in Italy:

Me Today, You Tomorrow

How true, how important to remember, and how difficult to comprehend.

Not a Significant Source of Cholesterol

(originally posted on on 9/23/10)

I don’t know if I told you, but I’m in the middle of training for a half-marathon.  It’s my second, and I can tell you, I never thought I’d be the type of person to willingly run in races.  But…I’ve found running to be an easy kind of workout (you can do it anywhere, for free, without spending too much on equipment).  Plus it’s been an interesting challenge.  I joined the track team in 7th grade (only because my best friend, Kim, wanted to join the track team and we did everything together), and the only thing I can really take away from that experience is the fact that my mother told me I look funny when I run.  So there you have it.

Nonetheless, I am currently running 5 times a week, with a day of cross-training (bike-riding) thrown in there.  One of the things I enjoy about this daily run is the opporutnity it gives me to really check out my neighborhood.  I’ve run essentially the same path over and over for the last year and a half, but inevitably something new surprises me every time.  Today, instead of my usual morning run, I opted to go out at about 2pm (one of the luxuries of unemployment is the ability to workout at whatever time I want to, not necessarily the crack of dawn).   And it was definitely a different kind of experience.  Early in my run, I was joined by a pack of high-school kids, in the midst of their afternoon P.E. run.  I am proud to say I was able to keep up with them, although thankfully our paths did not converge for long (nothing like watching a teenager run effortlessly to make you feel old).  But the most amusing part happened when I rounded the corner to my street and was half a block from my apartment.  I live on a residential street, all apartment buildings, and it’s pretty quiet for the most part.  Not alot of pedestrian traffic, mostly just neighbors walking their dogs (and the occassional crazy homeless person, but that’s another blog).  As I rounded the corner, I was approached by an older man dressed nicely in a suit carrying an empty 2-liter Coca-Cola bottle.  He started to say something, and I had to remove my headphones in order to hear him.  He dramatically indicated the empty Coke bottle to me, and proceeded to ask me, in severly broken English, “Please tell, have cholesterol?”.  I thought, what the hell is he asking me?  Is this some sort of ambush?  Is some guy gonna pop out of the bushes while I try to decipher what this guy is saying to me?  But no, he simply wanted to know if Coke contained cholesterol.  As he went on to explain “Me no cholesterol.  Say doctor”, I understood that he wanted to know if this 2 liter he just sucked down was going to kill him or not, based on the recommendations from his doctor.  He and I both studied the label, which I tried to tell him said “not a significant source of cholesterol” but it took alot of hand gestures and figuring out different ways to say “no” (like nada, nothing, zip, zero) to get my point across.  I finally saw the light bulb go off, he smiled, seemed excited by my answer, and went on his merry way.  Why the fuck he was walking down the street asking strangers this question is beyond me, but hey, this is Los Angeles after all.

Is That In the Schedule?

(originally posted on on 9/21/10)

Well, hello there, Blog-Friends!  Long time, no see.  Is this turning into a weekly blog?  It kinda seems so, based on my behavior.  But do I really need to impose that sort of schedule on a blog?  Can I just write, you know, whenever I feel like it?  That’s just so out of character for me.  For three years I have been the Keeper of the Schedule…not my own, really, but my boss’s schedule (and let’s face it, he was WAY busier than me).  So I think I’ve become programmed to schedule every day down to the half-hour.  Hey, at least it’s not down to the minute.  Not yet, anyway.  Give me a few weeks.

Take this whole unemployment thing.  I’ve basically arranged my weekdays to reflect that of your typical desk jockey:  wake up, work-out, shower, get ready, eat breakfast, “report” to work.  9am-1pm is for responding to emails, browsing for jobs, reading the latest industry and world news, and admittedly checking out my friends’ Facebook pages (cuz, hey, I did that at my office job, too).  1pm-2pm is for lunch (longer if I have a lunch date, as you have to accommodate for transit times – I used to actually schedule “transit” in my boss’s schedule – and it was always in blue).  2pm-6pm is for longer-range planning, strategizing, project implementation, more browsing for jobs, snack breaks, perhaps even an errand or two.  But now there’s all kinds of other stuff coming up, and I think – where is that going to go in the schedule?  For example, I desperately need to learn some rudimentary Spanish for my upcoming trip to South America (I found through experience that it’s pretty essential to be able to ask where the nearest bathroom is).  Does that fall into my “work” day?  Or is that for my “time off”?  If I study Spanish from, say, 3-4pm every day, does that count as goofing off?  Should I wait until I “clock out” at 6pm?  How about that etsy shop I want to open?  Does making upcycled handbags count as my primary work, or should it be relegated to the “moonlighting” position?  And why the hell am I even obsessing over this?  Is that OCD gene kicking in?  Or is it my middle-class guilt that I’m collecting a wage (unemployment) without really doing anything?  Good lord, sounds like I need a Valium.  I think I have a bad case of Calendar-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  After so many years of living and dying by The Schedule, it’s hard to let go.

Oh, it’s 12pm PST.  Time for my regularly schedule bathroom break.

COBRA and Other Venomous Specimens

(originally posted on on 9/7/10)

I have officially made it through one week of unemployment.  I’ll admit, though I’ve made endless “to do” lists and have had a flurry of energy, I had moments of feeling at loose ends.  Moments where I felt that all my glorious planning about What To Do Next had done nothing but create a mountain of not-yet-started projects that, at times, felt insurmountable.

I felt a bit like that today.  Dealing with anything related to health insurance makes me want to jump off the Santa Monica bluffs on my next morning run, so I’ve been putting off looking at the big packet that recently came in the post containing everything I ever wanted to know, or not know, about COBRA.  For my dear Blog-Friends who may be reading this in Canada (or some other country lucky enough to have socialized medicine) and are super-confused about why I may be receiving poisonous snakes in the mail, COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconstruction Act.  Quite a mouthful, no?  Basically, it means that I can elect to pay the premium so that I can continue to have health insurance coverage.  So that if I were to, say, be bitten by a cobra I could actually go to the hospital for it.  Ain’t America great?  However, I swear you have to have a doctoral degree to understand the minutiae of this literature they send to you.  But I think I have it figured out.  If I am summarizing the information correctly, it goes something like this:  pay us an obscene amount of money, and we’ll try to do our best to make sure you don’t die.  Or something like that.

So while I might dream at night of being bitten by venomous snakes and have moments of ambiguity during my days, for the most part this unemployment thing is pretty awesome.  That being the case, I find it amusing that when I tell people of my recent lay-off, the first thing they want to do is console me.  I’m not quite sure why this is, since usually my admission is complemented by a huge smile or a shout of “Yahoo!”.  I don’t need to be consoled.  I needed the consolation when I was employed.  THAT was dreadful.  This…this ain’t so bad.

Reality? Check.

(originally posted on on 9/1/10)

A few observations since beginning my “funemployment”:

1.  There are alot of people at the gym at 10:30am.  Who are these people?  What do they do?  Are they unemployed like me?  Do they have night jobs?  Are they trust fund babies? (Probably no on that last one – I go to Bally’s, a distinctly low-budget gym).  Having been holed up in a windowless cubicle from 9am – 7pm for the last three years, I’m amazed that there are people out and about during the day.  Riding bikes.  Shopping.  Having coffee.  Hell, there is more traffic on Santa Moncia Blvd. at noon than at 9am.  How is this possible?  And why has it taken me so long to join this terrifically sunshiney world?

2.  In the 13 years that I have had my cat, I often find hairballs at least once or twice a week.  I have never actually witnessed him doing it, however.  No longer.  Now that I’m home during the day, I got to see it first hand.  It’s pretty impressive.  One second – nothing there.  Next second – giant sticky, smelly mess on the floor.  Like magic.  Like it came through a wormhole.  Wow.

3.  I have the ability to waste an enormous amount of time on Facebook.  Thank you, my friends, for being  endlessly fascinating.

4.  Daytime TV is depressing.  I’m sorry Rachel Ray, but I find you kind of grating.  And don’t even get me started on Oprah or Dr. Phil.  I’d rather gouge out my eye with a rusty spike.

5.  When I don’t know what to do, or I am avoiding doing what I should be doing, I clean.  My apartment is going to be fucking spotless within the week.

6.  If I don’t get out of my apartment regularly, I’m going to gain 20 pounds in a matter of days.  Food is my elixir for boredom and stress.  And the yogurt place across the street is constantly calling my name.

Still trying to sort this new reality out, but I’m definitely in it.

I Had a Dream

(originally posted on on 8/30/10)

I had a dream last night…

Okay, let me interrupt myself.  I don’t often like to share my nightly dreams as I know that it can be excruciatingly boring for the listener, but I promise this one time it is relevant.

I had a dream last night that I got an 11th hour reprieve on my lay off, and was expected to report to work today.  In my dream I was devastated.  I did not want to go back there.  Lucky for me, I woke up shortly thereafter and realized with a sigh of relief that I would not be driving to Burbank this morning, and that I am, in fact, still unemployed.

Which leads me to today’s biggest order of business:  filing for unemployment.

I received the above tome as part of my “separation packet” from my (now former) employer.  I must say, it’s a little daunting.  I’ve never applied for unemployment insurance before, and if the stories from friends who have are true, what I have to look forward to are endless hours on hold, lenghty waiting periods, interviews that could go awry, and the possibility of a dispiriting appearance in Appeals Court.

Good times.

As I sit here in my pjs, I wonder just how many others are sitting in their pjs doing just as I am doing this morning.  If the statistics are true, today in the state of California it’s approximately 4400 people.    That’s an alarming number.

I think before I endeavor to delve into this mass of confusing paperwork, I should head to the gym.  I believe it’s going to be important to me to keep up my daily routine as much as possible, so I’ll attempt to make sense of all of this at the more reasonable hour of say, 9:30am.  I’ll let you know how it goes.