Saturday, December 31, 2011

One-Hit Wonders: December 2011 terms inexplicably pulling up my blog...
  • cheerleader with dirty stain
  • funny quotations on journalism
  • person buried in concrete
  • millatimes fake tits
  • childish gambino red hoodie
  • odds and ends life improvements
  • college beer bellies
  • one time at band camp
  • pour out a little liquor

Monday, December 26, 2011

Year in Review

cue the world’s smallest violin for the typical lamentations that come with the ending of another year. despite having very few reasons to complain, i always seem to arrive here feeling like a pile of crap. the year has flown over me like a rocket in space, just like every other year does, yet i still find myself disturbed by the passage of time and how it refuses to stop for me.

because as much as i do each year, there are so many other things i don’t do, things that tug at me like needy children clamoring for attention. it’s the dusty goals, the broken resolutions, the should haves. my hope chest is full of them.

of course i have a very good excuse this year in the form of THE HOUSE, which occupied most of my life and will continue to do so through the first quarter of next year as the deck (finally) gets built. naturally, the house has been my greatest source of happiness and pride this year — in addition to a fair amount of debt and misery.

it’s been an intense 113-day labor to get here, but i love my beautiful new baby and plan to enjoy her for many more years to come. she has taught me so much already, mostly about carpentry, but also about the empowerment that comes from tossing aside your fears and doing what needs to be done. she’s the crown jewel of my year.

another great highlight this year has been my FRIENDS, both new and old. when i reviewed my posts from 2011, what struck me was how much i talked about “socializing.” most of my friends i’ve known between five and 20 years, though this year i met a bunch of new people whom i’m sure will turn into old friends in no time. i hope this trend continues.

one source of these new friends has been HAIKU WEDNESDAYS, a facebook group i started earlier this year on a whim and have grown to love. lots of quality people have joined the group and have put their inspiring creativity on display. the energy there is warm and funny and has made wednesday my favorite day of the week.

as for WORK, it’s been a mixed bag this year. it was definitely not the best year for freelance work as a magazine i had been working on folded. other clients also vanished. thankfully, i have a few prospects lined up for next year, including a new magazine and book assignment, that will be fruitful if all goes well. here’s to hoping that it goes well.

the day jobby has also been fairly stable all year, though it provided a small fiasco this month as i entertained an offer for a new job in a different department within my company. there were several mitigating factors surrounding this, most of them financial. but ultimately, the planets realigned and i decided to stay put as i really dig my boss and have made a happy home in my own department.

as for my WRITING, cue the violin because this is where i want to beat myself up, not only for not updating this blog as often as i had hoped to, but for not getting one single thing published this year. i did try a few times but was demoralized by the rejection like a total, insecure lame ass. i’m going to work on this next year.

LOVE has also been a losing game for me this year. after a short-lived relationship during the summer, i find myself entering another new year on my own. it’s a lonely place to be at 35, but i’d rather be here than in any of the (many) wrong relationships i’ve been in before.

if anything, i’ve grown increasingly less desperate and more picky over the years, understanding that things will work or they won’t. and if they won’t, i don’t need to waste time with silly dramas or childish game-playing, which always indicates a poor match.

of course, i would be a liar to say i wasn’t still hoping for my happy ending and i’m sure i’ll keep trying because i am a romantic at heart. i only hope i make smarter choices and get it right the next time. but if i don’t i know i’ll be ok either way.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: After Photos


remember this piece of shit? that pink monstrosity that sat on a hill looking ugly? yeah, that was my old house. thankfully, it’s nothing like my new house.


another angle of the turd: these before photos are shocking to me. it’s as though they speak to some former era of my house’s life when it was living in the wrong skin — before the sex change operation that brought it to its rightful state. nothing about the before makes any sense for the house, whereas everything about the after does. the remodel wasn’t so much an overhaul as a correction.


drumroll, please: there’s my beauty! ain’t she the prettiest girl at the hillside fair? like a butterscotch and chocolate dream with a cherry on top — a very expensive, diamond-encrusted cherry that took 113 days, countless amounts of dollars and buckets of tears to produce. but she was worth every painstaking effort.


side view: obviously, the deck has yet to be built and landscaping has yet to be addressed, but the rest of her is totally done — and her angles are stunning. that top and center ribbon of brown trim were meant to elongate the house and make it look larger than its 1,000 square feet and i think it worked.


front door: i love my new front door and the hardware and the windows and pretty much everything else about the house. (sorry, i promised myself i wouldn’t make this post a big masturbatory session, but i can’t seem to help it.) the door is solid mahogany from not sure where (contractor handled that one), hardware is Baldwin and windows are Milgard.



inside view looking out: one cool thing about that door is that it makes the main room of my house essentially have some sort of window on every wall. the result is an astounding amount of natural sunlight.


opposite walls with other windows: i’ll admit that sometimes it’s too much natural light for me and i find myself needing to put on sunglasses inside the house during the day, especially if i’m washing dishes. of course this is better than the perpetual darkness of many of my former ground-floor apartments that faced alleys.


east facade: that window on the right is the only place where that top ribbon didn’t perfectly sit over the top of the window, so we devised a “cheat” to compensate. the stucco of the ground floor was painted the same color as the doors and trim to make it seem uniform, as though the house were sitting on a big rock. the stucco color is slightly lighter than the house trim, which is more gunmetal gray than chocolate brown when viewed up close.



up close: colors came out like a delicious Neapolitan ice cream and change their saturation daily depending on the position of the sun. that main cream color can look quite yellow in bright sunlight and almost white in overcast skies. that brown/gray is also shifty, with only the cranberry red staying pretty solid.



an hour from sunset: looks fairly yellowish, right? also note that the house is actually painted two different colors on either side of that main center ribbon, with the lower half slightly darker than the top half. it’s an imperceptible but subtle contrast that helps your eye as it moves down the house. or not. i might be making that part up.



north facade: the lines also came out nicely here. i love this view and i love that door that used to be a window (and here i go again). thankfully, Milgard makes a paint line to complement the trim of their windows so we got an exact match of the cranberry for the door, which originally came from a salvage yard.



praise for my contractor: not only did he frame out the openings to the attic and crawlspace to match the house perfectly, he painted the pipes behind the chicken wire black so they wouldn’t be seen. it’s the little things.


window upskirt: sometimes the house looks like it’s made out of plastic to me. not in a cheap way, but in that barbie dream house way where everything looks too pretty and perfect. sometimes it amazes me that this is really my house where i actually live. i regularly walk around touching the exterior, almost pinching it to see if it’s real. so far, so good.



someone is too cute: i think the dogs are also happy with how things have turned out, probably because they sense that i am happy and no longer an irritable stressball.


stairs at north facade: these stairs lead to the east facade, which consists of the ground floor and basement. as i’m still deckless, they are my route to reach the washer and dryer.


decklessness: it’s nowhere near godliness. i’ve had to remind myself (and various friends) on more than one occasion that it’s still not there so don’t open that sliding door and try to step out because the fall will injure you. in other news, check out how the new planter further elongates the house!


my cheerleaders: mom and dad were beyond happy — and supportive, loving, encouraging and every other positive adjective you can think of — throughout the remodel. i am very lucky to have these two as my parents, and i made sure to tell them this during the thanksgiving dinner that was hosted at my house this year.


thankful: i sure am.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One-Hit Wonders: November 2011 terms inexplicably pulling up my blog...
  • a guy falling out of a tree
  • buildings look like corn
  • dress as shaun of the dead
  • groped at audition
  • pentacle orgy
  • yard dog chainsaw in action
  • rottweiler with black markings on paws
  • cracked redwood deck salvage
  • stalin no brosef of mine

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Stuff and Things

the past few weeks have been stressful and a half for a multitude of reasons that i won’t get into right now. of course the house is the biggest stressor and no, it’s not done yet. quit asking me. i also thought it would be done by now given that construction has lasted well over 100 days, but no cigar or finished house. currently the deck is holding things up with its design, which has become tricky for other reasons that i won’t get into right now.

so yes, i’m grumpy and i don’t want to talk about. go me! in other news, life has been keeping me busy with many other things, some of them equally grumpy-making and others delightfully stress-relieving. the good stuff includes:

i bought a bike: more importantly, i’ve actually been using it. this was inspired by my many friends who attended LA’s CicLAvia this year. so i went to Walmart (don’t judge me, i’m broke) and bought the cutest cruiser in the world. then came the interesting part: riding it. it’s no exaggeration to say i hadn’t been on a bike in 25 years, but apparently riding a bike is just like they say it is. after a few shaky starts, i was off. several weeks later, i own a bike rack and ride (semi) regularly at the rose bowl and along the LA river.

7-speed schwinn beach point cruiser

i went on a trip: half business and half pleasure, starting in washington, DC, for a work conference and ending in baltimore, maryland, with my dad’s side of the family for a weekend of overeating and drinking vodka. the best part of the trip was the snow, which came early this year and landed on top of some stunning fall foliage. that doubled my pleasure and fun, though i admit to getting restless at the end of the trip to get home and see what i missed with the house.

confetti with frosting

i went to a concert: my obsession with Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) cannot seem to be satiated. i saw him live for the second time this year and have been playing his new album on endless loop since it came out. i think i may need rehab.

my Childish Gambino hoodie

i got a new roommate: this new roommate looks a lot like an old roommate i once had. in fact, they are the same person: my buddy Dan whom i lived with briefly in San Francisco. so far it’s proved to be a perfect pairing, as Dan moved in at the start of november, gave me a check, spent two nights in his new room, and then left for a 6-week work project in San Francisco. no complaints here, and there won’t be when he returns either because he’s a super cool guy and we get along famously.

beyond that, i really hope the rest of the year brings me stress-free days and plentiful sleep. and maybe a big bottle of vodka.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: Odds and Ends


trash pit: Operation: Home Remodel produced an epic amount of trash, much of which sat in my front yard. this is where i need to thank my endlessly patient neighbors, who never once complained about the trash, the noise or the eyesore that was my house for months. instead, i was offered praise, encouragement and even a few thumbs-up when they drove down the hill. so thank you, neighbors, for making me feel like the luckiest girl on the block.



the other dump: we filled up two of these, not only with trash from the remodel, but with most of the contents of my garage, which i finally sifted through after 3.5 years of procrastination. out went the notebooks from grad school, the broken furniture, scraps of wood and boxes of used CDs that were repeatedly rejected by Amoeba’s buyback department. and when it was done, i emerged from my garage feeling victorious (while also wheezing and covered in dust). then i took a painkiller and went to bed.


10 minutes after i washed them: the inside of my house was also covered in dust and i mean wall-to-wall coverage on every surface. the constant banging also dislodged several existing nails, which took the paint with them, requiring a ton of patchwork and the repainting of a few walls. and let’s not forget the dirty footprints on the dark floors and the always-raised toilet seat.


interior work: replacing all the windows meant replacing the interior trim, so there was plenty of commotion inside the house as well as out. no room was safe, including my bedroom, and no place remained untouched, including my bed. with no haven to retire to, i considered sleeping in my car.


a room without a view: living without my view had a profound effect on my mental health. i’ve always thought that my view added minutes to my life, but now i know that it does, because living without it sent my crankiness and irritability off the charts.


dark like my soul: the worst of it was when i heard someone walking around the property at 4am and couldn’t see out the windows. with my heart racing and body contorted, i managed to peek through one of the tears in the plastic to spot a van with headlights on and engine running parked out front. seems the crew broke the glass on the electric meter and a serviceman had been called to fix it. of course i only found this out the next morning after my almost heart attack.


even the dogs missed it: when the plastic finally did come off and i could see out each window and door, a familiar feeling washed over me, one i didn’t even realize had been missing until it made its return: i felt at home again.


the surprises: no home remodel is complete without them. perhaps my least favorite was the missing plank and partially dug out concrete that made up the foundation underneath my bedroom. that was almost as good as finding a bunch of tile in the crawlspace.


even more awesome: the fact that a power source had been buried in concrete right next to a gas line.


original framing: did i mention my house was built in 1924?


the four-legged inspectors: as i’ve noted, i received a lot of inquiries on how my dogs have handled the remodel (with very people asking how i’ve handled it). to answer that question, they have been pretty fairly indifferent about everything, especially as time has passed. (meanwhile, i still jump like i’m hearing a gunshot each time the nail gun goes off.)


my gremlin: the only trouble came when the planter had to be tarred. seems the same someone who got sprayed in the face by a skunk had to step in the tar and matt the hair on her paw shut. i’m ashamed to admit it took me two days to notice the constant licking and chewing she had been subjecting her paw to, but with a little olive oil and soapy water, her paw and curiosity were as good as new.


by the way: this is my new front door. it’s made of solid mahogany that was stained with an ebony and dark walnut blend.


the side door: i decided to turn a window in the second bedroom into a door to connect the house with the “yard,” which is essentially a slab of concrete on the north end of the house (one day, it will be grass!). i found the side door at Pasadena Architectural Salvage for super cheap, and my contractor spent a week lovingly restoring it in my garage.


the contractor: this is the super magic man with a plan, hammer and nail gun, the one and only Platon Markarian. i would give you his number, but you might call him and he’s still working on my house, so i’ll hang on to it for now. good luck getting him, though, when i do give it to you — my neighbors have already booked him for the next year after seeing the quality work he’s done for me. this guy doesn’t believe in shortcuts. he’s simply awesome.


then came the paint: after photos to come in the next post.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Home-Improvement Chronicles: The Siding


day 57: it took two weeks for the siding to arrive, a time when the crew busied themselves with interior work like trimming the new windows and filling my house with dust, while my contractor cheated on me with another job. i was quite cranky during this time, as nearly two months of banging, drilling, sawing and stapling had worn my patience down to its nubs, but as with most things concerning this remodel, it was out of my hands. so i suffered through it impatiently, smiling widely as the first board of siding was nailed to the house on the 57th day of Operation: Home Remodel.


timing: applying the siding went quickly, taking a little over a week to wrap the house and then another week to patch and sand. at this point, only my contractor and one other crewmember were doing the work, effectively putting the house together with their bare hands, a saw and a nail gun. i provided the cheerleading.


shelter and sky: coming home from work during this part of the project felt like a weeklong christmas for me. i drove up my hill excited every day to see the gift that would await me at the top. my once pink house had turned into a woodsy log cabin, and it looked gorgeous.


the specs: the siding was cedar, except for certain parts of the trim, which were redwood. the style is known as "channel rustic," which is a flat profile with square corners that isn’t as popular as it used to be; it’s actually known for being quite old-fashioned, but it does plenty to give the appearance of a lengthened house, which is why Mo the architect decided on that style over a shingle or clapboard approach.



the pattern: that thin, central “belt” that hits the top of the planter wraps around the entire house and effectively breaks it into two parts. below that belt, the siding changes size from one thick piece to two thin pieces and back to one thick piece. above the belt, the inverse occurs with two thick pieces sandwiched between one thin piece. the belt again appears in the top and bottom trim that wraps around the house, further giving it a horizontal sensibility.


corners and nails: the corners were mitered together, which, given the less-than-straight walls of my house, meant that extra patching was required to plug in gaps and ensure a snug fit. the nails were chad nails, which normally don’t hold as well as galvanized nails, but when you use enough they hold just fine. plus, the galvanized nails kept breaking the boards.


snafu: it rained on day 65, so the crew wrapped the house in a giant condom to ensure that none of the untreated wood was damaged. as there were plenty of unused wood scraps at the site, some cedar did become wet, creating a most divine smell that transplanted the entire neighborhood to a magical forest.


speaking of wood scraps: there were beyond plenty, which i tried to give away repeatedly without much luck save for one friend who took some for firewood.


Pinko! here’s a photo of my cute cake just because.


Juice! i couldn’t include one and not the other as i adore both my mutts equally.


voila: i adore my house plenty, too, and after the siding was up and windows were uncovered, i can’t say i didn’t get a little misty-eyed. it looked beyond better than i ever imagined. a few people told me i should just stop there and stain it, but this cedar is knotty and built for paint, so the crew patched and sanded instead.



fenceless: then the fence around the front yard came down, giving the house some serious exposure to the street. this was probably the first moment in my three years of homeownership that i was proud to have the outside of my house seen. gone was the scary-looking foreclosure that kept solicitors away — admittedly, not always a bad thing — and in its place was a house that looked as it should, with a design that serviced its location, layout and owner especially.


home stretch: then came a coat of primer, which did much to show off the lovely angles of the siding, and got the house ready for its big finish: paint.