Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: The Kitchen

voila! this is a view of the kitchen from the front door. the wall on the left used to be three times as long and separated the kitchen from the living room, but it’s been scaled back so that the kitchen has effectively become part of the living area in one gargantuan main room.

view from the kitchen door: and there’s Pinko following on my heels, thinking that my being in the kitchen might mean a piece of food will fly out of my hands and into her mouth.

prefers lamb to chicken: contrast this with Juice’s boyfriend, Max, who insists that any food be served to him while he’s sitting in my chair.

sink wall: remember the sink wall in the old kitchen — the one where washing a dish meant hitting your head against an overhead wine cabinet?

it works! here’s Mo the architect, designer (and installer!) of this perfect kitchen, washing his hands at the sink. notice how he is not hitting his head on anything.

that view again: i know i keep bragging about it, but it just never gets old. it’s so good that Mo and i decided not to furnish the kitchen with a dishwasher since the view is what we’re forced to look at while washing dishes, which means that dishes don’t stay dirty for very long.

coffee station: you’ll be shocked to learn that morning coffee is made here. just shocking! this is also the only part of the kitchen equipped with the dope walnut countertop made by Mo.

don’t eat the chilis: they are plastic, though the other fruits are real. notice how there are no dirty dishes in the sink.

those floors: sadly, there is no pretty view to gaze at while washing them so they don’t stay as clean as the dishes. that’s mostly because of the shedding shepards i once thought were a good idea to get. i’m on the verge of shaving them.

the cabinetry: Mo’s idea was to match the cabinetry with the dark floor so that the floor would appear to be extending up the walls. everyone thought we were insane when we told them the kitchen cabinets would be chocolate brown instead of a lighter shade, but i think they’re rockin like dokken.

the hardware: pretty much everything in the kitchen was purchased from Ikea for relatively cheap, including the sink, faucet, white laminate countertops and all the shelving. the only splurge was the hardware, which consists of these ultra-cool stainless steel and frosted glass pulls. they are smooth like pearls, meaning the dogs will lick them continuously for food particles.

stove wall: except for two wall panels and the one cabinet above the fridge (see two photos up), the kitchen has no overhead cabinets, just open shelving.

stove station: this handy dandy setup puts everything needed for cooking within arm’s reach, except for the take-out menus, which are in a neighboring drawer.

the corner: i love these C&B wall boxes, which used to house CDs at my old apartment. the small mirrors in the corner also do a great job reflecting light around the kitchen. Mo has strategically placed many of these small mirrors all around the house, some in corners that are too tight for me to fit my fat head into to check whether i have spinach stuck in my teeth. i’ll try anyway and Mo will have to butter my big head to get it unstuck.

the other rooms: beyond that white door is the house’s sole bathroom — it’s the original bathroom that came with the house, which means it’s ugly. to the left is the office, and to the right is the master bedroom. (to the right in the foreground is the piece of shit maytag refrigerator, bought for cheap at a used appliance store, that needs to be defrosted every few weeks, otherwise all the perishable food spoils. but i’ll complain about that some other time.)

those new yorker covers: it’s kinda disingenuous since Mo and i aren’t big readers of The New Yorker, but Mo is a fan of the illustrator, Chris Ware, who did a series of Thanksgiving covers for the magazine. Mo also has his fantastic but depressing Rusty Brown lunchbox, which tells the story of the most dejected kid in high school. get it as a gift for all your loser friends.

the kitchen door: the door leads to the deck that hugs the side of the house and provides access to stairs that lead down to the basement, where the washer and dryer live. oh yeah, did i mention how the door showcases the great view?

one more from a different angle: this is the last one i’ll ever post! at least in this set of photos.

i lied: this is the last i’ll post. gorgeous, ain’t it?

Friday, July 18, 2008

The New Gig

i’m two weeks into the new jobby now. i’m still with the same company, just moved over into a totally different department to do totally different work. the move was less than smooth but a long time in the making. i knew about it for six months and tried to make the transition sooner, but my old department — which was swamped with work, much of which they wanted me to complete — lined the road with hoops of fire.

i got the tap on the shoulder last christmas; new department called and said, “hey, we’re creating a new position here. maybe you can fill it.” it’s weird because i wasn’t unhappy in my old role or even looking for something new, but i knew i would take it immediately, despite feigning cucumber coolness at that first phone call, which i ended with, “i’ll think about it.”

it seemed like divine intervention, like the faeries floated out of the trees and said, “hey you, girl — the girl with the confused look on her face and pimple on her nose. yes, YOU. in addition to the house you’re about to get and old boyfriend you just reconciled with, you’ll be starting a new job in the summer. get ready.”

it should have seemed like too much to take on at once, but the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. things had become too steady, too built. i could feel the restlessness thrashing around inside me, screaming “i’m bored! i’m bored!” and here came the opportunity to tear it all down and rebuild.

i had been doing my old job for three years. in case you missed it, my old job was working as a copy editor for my company’s website, a website that helps facilitate the selling of mutual funds. it’s ok to be jealous. i know it’s the sexiest work around. i know this because when i’m at a dinner party with new people who ask me what i do for a living and i say, “i’m a finance editor,” their eyes glaze over with jealousy. then they turn their backs on me, probably after concluding that i’m the coolest person in the room and they’re too intimidated to talk to me. then they walk away.

i can’t wait to see their reaction when i tell them that i work for my company’s compliance department. they will surely turn green with envy. and what of this new department? well so far, i love it. the team i’m working on is much smaller than the web team i used to be part of, and that’s a better environment for me. i’m pretty much working with just three other women, all of whom i get along with splendidly. so splendid that our periods have already synchronized.

the job is slower paced, i’m in fewer meetings, and i have greater autonomy in my work, some of which involves maintaining my company’s internal compliance website, which means all the tech classes i’ve taken in the past will finally pay off. the only thing i miss about my old job are the very nice people i’ve become buddies with over the last three years but there’s plenty of opportunities to gossip with them over lunch.

new job also means i’m taking the metro to work three days out of the week. i’m still abnormally excited by this. to prepare for my new adventures as a Gold Line commuter, i bought the most excellent ergonomic backpack and loaded my new iPod touch full of music. on day one at the train station, i put the iPod on shuffle and plugged the earbuds into my head just as the train approached and U2’s “The Fly” came on. that’s my most favorite U2 song.

as i stepped onto the train in search of a seat, scanning the faces of my fellow Angelinos and with this crazy guitar riff blasting in my ears, i felt this strange rush overtake me, complete with tingles in my head and goose pimples on my arms. it was surreal, like a scene in a movie, where i looked around and wondered, “am i still in LA because this feels totally foreign?” but yes, i was still in LA and loving on it.

i wanted to share my excitement with the other commuters, maybe go around the train offering hugs, but they looked far less ecstatic to be there. in fact, they looked downright bored, like they had been riding the train for years and would rather be sitting in an air-conditioned car, while i sat near them with a stupid grin on my face, listening to Bono’s falsetto sing “Love, we shine like a burning star falling through the sky.”

Monday, July 07, 2008

My Summer Vacation

i took three glorious days off of work the other week, which, when combined with the holiday three-day weekend, made for six whole days without work, a condensed summer vacation during which i did a whole lot of nothing. it was a beautiful type of nothing that has no consequences save having to do a something later. haha, i say now to that lengthy to-do list i wrote at the start of my respite before the inertia of sleep and leisure took over. i read it over now and marvel at how silly i was to think i should spend any part of my six days off at Amoeba trying to sell them the used CDs they refused to buy the last time i was there. haha, ha and ha.

the week was not entirely without activity, however. my first day off was spent at marvelous Six Flags Magic Mountain, my beau Mo in hand, riding roller coasters in 100-degree heat. we went on a whim with two-for-one coupons and, as it was a tuesday, barely wasted any time standing in line, and did well to snatch the seats at the front of the train for each ride.

the last time i spent a day at Magic Mountain was 14 years ago during my first year in college, meaning i rode a bunch of new rides this time around, many of which kicked my ass — make that my head. by 4pm, i was spent and queasy; i found myself having to sit still for 15 minutes after each ride to recalibrate my equilibrium, which was flirting dangerously with vertigo. but i refused to be outdone by my childhood hangout so i fought the nausea and trucked on, riding a few more coasters before finally conceding to my wussyhood. by then, we had ridden 10 roller coasters and managed to walk away from the park in a cloud of euphoria, our faces sunburned but smiling and with a fun caricature that we put on the fridge.

if the day at Magic Mountain served as a grad night of sorts to my abbreviated summer vacation, the rest of my week served as the rest of those three months between school years, when laziness rules divine and uninterrupted. i slept in every day, rising reluctantly yet cheerfully, stirred out of bed only when the sound of a dog panting over my face became too smelly to ignore. then i’d languish on the deck with a cup of coffee for an hour while thinking about how little i planned to do with the day.

most days were spent tooling around the house, which didn’t get a whole lot of my attention beyond the usual admiration. i did knock out a few low-effort things on my house list, like reorganizing the kitchen’s contents and setting my desk up in the office, but as far as the labor-intensive work i planned to do in the garage, well haha and ha again.

afternoons were spent reading in bed, with the new ceiling fan making a breeze. as always, my summer reading list is long and i barely managed to power through anything, finishing off just two books before week’s end, one of which i highly recommend. i also had some freelance work happening, including half a dissertation on homicide in Jamaica, in addition to the regular work i do for the ASC.

as evenings approached, i’d get in the kitchen to start the meal-making. Mo and i had a few cookouts, some of which involved good friends who came by to sample our world-famous hamburgers, mashed potatoes and gazpacho. we sat on the deck every night, eating like royalty, our meals topped off with fresh watermelon, while the dogs laid at our feet, mouths ajar and drooling. i left the house only on a few choice occasions — when i felt compelled to shop for food and cute shoes and for a half-hour massage and steam room visit. sadly, i never made it to Amoeba. (ha)

the highlight of the week is one of those had-to-be-there kind of things that involves a lot of 4th of July fireworks. namely, the multitude of fireworks i witnessed blowing up over Highland Park while i sat on my deck, transfixed for three hours. a neighbor mentioned the yearly display casually, saying he’s had to tranquilize his dog before and now just stays across town with his daughter on that night. but i thought nothing of it since most fireworks are illegal in Cali.

haha on me. by 8pm, the place was on fire in a strange mix of disneyland and baghdad. explosions went off every few seconds, followed by colorful sparkles that seemed to occupy every inch of the night sky. to say that there were hundreds of fireworks going off at once is not an exaggeration. to the left, right, overhead, down the road and everywhere else saw a Tijuana firework exploding. from my perfect vantage point on the deck i could see my neighbors’ yards full of bright flashes and booms, while Juice paced nervously through the house, whimpering.

i kept expecting a lull, something to taper off the festivities so i could go back into the house and replenish my vodka spritzer, but the fireworks kept popping for hours like a bag of microwaveable popcorn, with the last few kernels erupting around midnight. all the while, Mo and i sat on the deck in silence, muttering a few holy shits under our breath as a rainbow of fruit flavors blew up all around us. i was stunned, hypnotized, amazed. i had never seen so many fireworks in my whole life. it was AWESOME. everyone in the world is invited to my house next year to see the show along with me.

the week ended predictably: with a major case of sunday blues that pushed me into bed teary-eyed, declaring to Mo that i never wanted to work again and that i better win the lottery before my alarm went off the next morning at 6:30am or else something bad would happen. predictably, something bad did happen: my alarm went off the next morning at 6:30am, forcing me out of bed without cheer to start work at my new job, which i agonized over like it was the first day of school.