Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Move

by all accounts the move wasn’t a disaster. i found a moving company that worked very efficiently for a reasonable rate. the movers were cute hungarian guys who showed up, carefully moved my junk and then quietly left — in about four hours. the only thing complicating the move (and the many days that followed it) was the bullshit sun, which decided to become unbearably hot via a weeklong L.A. heat wave. first day of the heat wave was on move day itself, may 15.

also complicating matters was the fact that the house was not exactly “complete” on move day: the kitchen needed to be built, closets assembled, light fixtures installed, appliances delivered, among many other things. this meant several days of laboring around the house in an oppressive heat that must have produced 70 buckets of sweat. during this time i was downing two gallons of water a day and peeing not at all.

add to the dehydration sun blisters on my face, a sunburned nose, chapped lips, chronic sneezing borne of summer allergies and you’ll have one frazzled, yet happy homeowner hit with the ugly stick. my new neighbor, a fantastic lady named Lisa, ran up to me during the move with arms open yelling, “welcome to the neighborhood!” as she approached, however, and got a closer look, she blurted, “damn, you look beat.” in my heat delirium she reminded me of my mom, and when i fell into her arms for the welcoming hug, i hung onto her tightly and almost asked her to hold me and tell me it would all be ok. nevermind that i was layered in sweat and smelled like a sewer.

once the movers pulled out of the driveway, i moved my car into it to unload a few items, and that’s when it hit me: like, wow, i’m parked in a driveway, my own driveway, that leads to my house, my own house. i have a house in front of me that’s my house, and my own car is in my own driveway leading up to my own house.

this was significant not only because i had a house, but more so because i finally had a parking space — something that never happened during my ten years of living in hollywood, where i had only street parking. but now i had an actual parking space and would never again need to redden my wrists by attaching six shopping bags full of groceries to them so i could make the two-block walk from my car to my apartment. now i would never again need to play the fun morning game of, “dude, where’s my car?” or “dude, i forgot about street cleaning and now have a parking ticket.”

i welled up with emotion at the thought of my new parking space and let the happy tears spill out. this was it. i had come home. i tried taking a few breaths but almost choked on the hot air. with windows up, the sun had baked my car extra crispy and ruined my own moment in it.

i darted into the house and saw the mess of boxes piled high in each corner. two nervous dogs circled my legs and panted uncontrollably, their drool spilling onto the new bamboo floors i just paid for. i walked over to Mo, who stood idly amid the mess, also unsure where to begin. he looked over at me, tilted his head and said, “damn, you look like hell.” felt like hell, too. still i asked him, “can i have a hug?” he looked reluctant, “ok, but only a quick one. it’s too hot.”

it was too hot — easily 105ºF. too hot to really do anything, and i wanted nothing more than to sit in a bathtub full of ice with a fan pointed at my face, but i knew that the one bathtub in the house needed serious scrubbing and the fan was packed away somewhere unknowable so i rolled up my figurative sleeves (i was wearing a tank top) and went to work.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Blog!

last week, May 14, marked the 5th birthday of The Milla Times Journal. crazy, eh? five whole years of melodramatic ramblings and embarrassing gut spillage posted all over the interwebs!! and to think it all started with a post that read: “blah, blah, blah. testing, testing, testing.”

like many things in life, this blog started out as something very different than it ended up. five years ago, this website’s sole purpose was to satisfy a course requirement to maintain a dairy while i worked as a journalist in London. i had gone over for a six-week internship with Voice of America, courtesy of a work-abroad program sponsored by USC, where i was getting my master’s in journalism. the blog also served as a way to keep family and friends abreast of my happenings while i was overseas — first working that journalism job, then during a month-long hop on the Eurail that took me all over Europe.

i figured the blog would stop soon after i landed back in LA, but it just kept going and going, chronicling my last year in grad school, the graduation, a big breakup, three months of internet dating, the harem, finding a job, falling in love, then another big breakup, losing a friend, getting a puppy, and now owning my first home. mixed with that were recurring tales of drunkenness, depression, frustration and lamentation — sprinkled with some mighty bad photos of myself. in short, five years of self-obsessed drivel.

but why blog? why put your shit-stained laundry on the clothesline for all the world to see? i get asked this often, and while i won’t pretend to speak for all the bloggers in the universe, i think for a lot of us who keep a personal blog, its existence is as much for ourselves as it is for the readers. foremost, it’s a journal in the traditional sense so it’s fun for me to review older entries and see my evolution as a human. truthfully, i’ll read things i wrote five years ago, even one year ago, and want to barf. five years from now i’m sure i’ll be reviewing things i write today and feel the same thing. and that’s ok by me.

i’ve thought of removing some of the racier posts or deleting those with the most atrocious writing or even correcting the typos that burn my eyes and chip away at my skull, but i tend to leave them alone. i need them to learn from. i need them to keep me honest, to keep me comfortable with my imperfections. i need them to remind me that the world won’t end if i publish something against my better judgment. after all, this is only a blog on the internet. big whoop.

the public side of it is another matter. i understand that people will judge. they could find me to be a certifiable shithead, just as i could find those same people to be pathetic trolls whose only concept of love is rubbing peanut butter all over their bodies for their dogs to lick off while they eat their TV dinners and blast bloggers for having a viewpoint. see, i’m people. i will judge, too.

with that in mind, now seems like the perfect time to let y’all know that i plan to post some ads here, probably sometime this year. they’ll likely start as simple google ads and will hopefully not grow into those annoying ads that taunt you to catch a monkey for $20. i don’t anticipate making boatloads of money from these ads, but now that mama has a mortgage to pay, every little bit helps. i’d also like to give this blog the makeover i’ve been talking about giving it for ages. hopefully also this year.

i’ve begun to tag entries with a subject, a process that will take some time to complete as i’m rummaging through the archives so that every post gets at least one tag. so far, i’ve created 17 different tags that range from birthdays to holidays to music. to date, the tag with the most entries is dating, which has 19 posts to its credit, followed by whining with 13, and then breakups with 10. i know — how totally poetic. i expect the travel tag to pick up the most entries once i get around to tagging those early posts of my adventures in Europe. of course my favorite tags include the photos of the cuties, labeled with dogliness (seven entries), and Mo’s love notes (nine).

other blog oddities in case anyone cares:
  • this post is number 255.

  • the posts that have generated the greatest amount of comments, 36 total, are this one and this one.

  • the post that’s generated the greatest amount of emails was the one about my visit to the psychic in hawaii. i average roughly one email a month on that one. most just ask for her contact info — which is listed twice in the comments — but sometimes people share their own experiences of seeing her, which are usually interesting.

  • the posts i cannot bear to read are those that deal with Angela’s death, labeled with the death tag. always a buzz kill.

  • although i’ve broken this rule on occasion, i’ve vowed to never discuss details of my political beliefs or events that occur at my day job. the whys of this should be pretty self-evident.

  • to date, there have been two sorta stalkers, more like fans, who have emerged from this blogging experience. the first, of course, started out as commentator “Chris Knight,” who turned out to be my arch nemesis from high school, Marlin (aka Mo), now my spectacular boyfriend. the other (plexi, you still out there?) was a former coworker who sent me a sweet birthday e-card one year and asked me out for a drink. (never happened.)


last week i finally moved into my new house. it even looks new after all the work that’s gone into it. (photos to come in a few weeks once all the boxes are emptied). with the new house in tow, the blog turning five, my love of Mo growing by the day and a new position at my work that i’ll reveal more about later, i sense that this is the beginning of the next big chapter of my life. i know how absolutely cheesy that sounds and i wish i had better poetry to express it, but it’s a valid truth for me right now.

lately, i’ve been experiencing an intense blend of excitement, optimism, anxiety, tearfulness and wonderment — which means that i’m feeling like my usual self. i’m generally not a fan of big life transitions and emotional upheaval, but this one has been tolerable, even enjoyable as it’s engaged all my senses and propelled me into my future, which seems saturated with possibility. i feel alive, alert and so stupidly weepy that i could look at a flower now and cry.

the past five years have been sometimes terrific, sometimes terrible, and spilling their contents on this space has been greatly rewarding for me. plus, it’s cheaper than therapy. i can’t wait to see what the next five bring and only hope that you’ll continue to play along — leave some comments, click some ads, roll your eyes at my absurdity and maybe chuckle at my bad jokes.

thanks for reading.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: The Extermination

tented: the circus came to town, or maybe just to my house. but this circus didn't feature elephants riding around on tricycles, only termites being gassed to death under the big tent.

kill 'em all! props to Terminix for bringing the poison, though it would have been nice if they also brought a keg and maybe some pizza.

wondering if they sell these as stickers: because i'd probably get a few to stick all over the new plywood subflooring.

praying they don't find a cat in there: Terminix told me to warn my neighbors with curious kitties that the big tent would be coming. he said the amount of dead cats they find in tents is astronomical. i did my best to warn the neighbors but still felt anxious as hell throughout the three-day fumigation that a cat would wiggle in, die and kill my chances of making nice with my new neighbors.

send in the clowns: this better do the trick.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: Under Construction

ready to come inside? are you sure you’re ready? are you positively sure you’re sure? because it’s a fucking disaster in here.

floored: remember when i mentioned that the floors revealed a few soft spots and dips after the tile was pulled up? yeah, i’d like to forget about that, too; it’s a very painful, expensive memory. my contractor didn’t like it much either. he insisted on pulling up the oak hardwood floors that were underneath the star of Chuy. then he decided to pull up some of the subflooring. guess what he found?

rotted wood: apparently the subflooring hadn’t been replaced since it was installed — in 1926, when the house was built. termites and time took their toll. contractor called me at work and said maybe three or four boards could be salvaged. he advised that all of the subflooring in the living room be replaced, along with some of the beams, if i wanted even floors. and if i didn’t want to replace them, i would need to sign a waiver saying i didn’t heed his advice and wouldn’t sue him if the end result sucked. he showed me the wood, specked with black lines of termite feces. he picked up a board and tore it apart with his hands. he gave me an estimate and told me the labor to replace the floors would tack another week to the job. i took about ten seconds to think it before saying, “do it.”

plied: the new subflooring turned out to be big sheets of plywood that were cut and sanded to fit nicely together. thankfully, the subflooring in the bedrooms was in good enough shape to be left alone.

this is the bathroom: it was the only room in the house that was not under construction, so it turned into the tool depot for the crew. i certainly wanted the bathroom to undergo a makeover — with its cheesy wainscoting, chipped marble tile and nauseating rose paint — but given the subflooring surprise, the battle against this ugly would have to be saved for another day.

dump: construction on the house lasted roughly three weeks and produced a hellish amount of trash.

demoted: the speaker that was once in the ceiling cried out amid the rubble. i thought of scooping it up from the trash and placing it next to the star of Chuy in the garage, but decided to pass. sadly, once it was removed from the ceiling it lost all its charm.

disaster averted: the hole in the ceiling that cradled the speaker was indeed patched. with that, the portal to the netherworld of the previous owners was closed forever. good riddance.

walled: the crew also patched the area where we demolished the wall that once separated the master bedroom into two smaller bedrooms.

doored: they also added a door to the kitchen.

souled: and replaced the kitchen window with a smaller one to accommodate a sink. the kitchen plumbing also underwent rearrangement, not to mention major overhaul of the cabinets (to be covered in a separate post).

those colors: once the patches were made, the plumbing moved, subflooring replaced, i wouldn’t need to see those colors ever again, because the crew then primed the place to get it ready for painting, the floors ready for the bamboo installation, while i waited eagerly for them to finish.