Thursday, October 29, 2009

These Are The People in My Neighborhood, In My Neighborhood

Halloween is my second favorite holiday (behind Thanksgiving, of course), and even though I'm not throwing my usual ginormous Halloween party (wedding planning has sucked all of my hostess powers for at least a few months), I'm still very much in the spirit of things!

And so are my neighbors. Avid readers of this blog (all 3 of you) might remember last year's post on the extremely enthusiastic Halloween displays in my 'hood. This year, things pretty much look the same, but I'd like to show you some of the new additions.

First up is the lawn on the corner, which last year, in a tribute to capital punishment, had not only a hanging man, but also a frying one.

Well, this year I guess they had a change of heart because the poor bastard in the electric chair has been replaced by a hip rock trio I call the Bone-as Brothers.

Then up the road is the wonder house that last year provided us with, among other things, a mad bunny driving a hearse on the front lawn.

This year, they've expanded well beyond their yard, over the sidewalk and onto the street, where the hearse is now parked instead.

In addition to wondering why the City of Los Angeles is fine with its residents leaving coffins in the streets, I also wondered if the Funeral Parking Only sign was stolen from

A. A funeral these people had attended
B. The funeral of a stranger

And which of the above scenarios is worse?

At the front end of the hearse is a pair of feet sticking out from below.

The really scary thing about this portion of the display is that when I first drove by, for a second I really thought someone was hurt and lying in the street. But even more disturbing is my initial reaction of "Oh, well, er, I have to get to work, so."

And even MORE disturbing than my indifference to injured pedestrians is my choice of pants for a morning walk.

Sorry fellas, I'm taken!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let's Face It, That $20 Isn't Going To Do Either of Us Much Good

I try to avoid whining, too much, about my financial woes. They are ever-present and super annoying. If I allowed myself to write freely on my blog about my financial issues, the title of every post would be "I Hate Money."

Up until recently, I'd always been sort of "Eh, no big deal. So we're broke." I've never had a lot of money, so I was pretty much used to the lifestyle. In fact, it's made this whole economic depression pretty easy to handle. Welcome to my world, America. Would you like to come over to our place for Cost Effective Margarita Game Night?

But something about being married is aggravating the brokeness now. In my head, the Mrs. title should have come with a mortgage and the ability to treat other couples to a fancy dinner. And heaven forbid we really wanted to have a kid right now. He'd have to earn his keep as a baby model (and let's face it, he'd be handsome enough).

At my friend's urging, I signed up for, to track our expenses and set a budget. I remained optimistic that the problem is merely a result of poor budgeting skills and that the situation is not entirely hopeless. So far, I just find the site a bit confusing and immensely discouraging. It's one thing to throw around the term "in the red" during conversation, it's a whole other feeling to actually see a screen full of red text in multiple categories.

Now, with all of that as a backdrop, allow me to tell you about the $20 ordeal on Saturday. Warning: you are about to get some disturbing insight into my unquiet mind.

On Saturday morning (or, er, noonish), I ran out to pick up bagels and orange juice. Knowing that the bagel place charges an ungodly $4 for a single serving bottle of OJ, I thought I'd be wise and buy a full size bottle from the grocery store in the same shopping plaza. Then for the same price, we could have juice for days! I was off to a good start.

However, as I approached the entrance to the grocery store, I saw two men with clipboards talking to shoppers. As I've mentioned before, I do not do well with petitioners and people promoting their causes.

When I finally got close enough to the entrance, one of the clipboard guys reached out to me. "Will you help us make gay marriage legal again in California?" Oh yes! And thank goodness this isn't some cause I don't understand. (Or one I don't care about. And I do have those too.)

"Oh yeah. Sure."

"Great. Let me tell you a little bit more about what we're doing." And then as he went on explaining himself, I took note of his sincere blue eyes, his youthful face. I resisted the urge to hug him. When I tuned back in, he was asking me for a donation. Damn it. Now I've gone and gotten myself trapped again.

"Well, I'm sorry but I just don't have any money to spare right now. I'm on a really tight budget."

"You don't have to give a lot--"

"But I would. I would give a lot, I want you to know."

"We're asking for a one time donation of $44. That's one dollar for every --" I should have let him finish. I'm sure that would have been an interesting fact.

"Yeah, that's too much. Maybe it shouldn't seem like a lot, but it is."

"Or $28. That's one dollar for every--"

"I just don't think I can spare anything. My husband and I really can't afford any additional expenses." Damn it. Now I'd gone and rubbed it in that I'm married.

"We're really fighting an up hill battle as a grass roots organization, getting by on donations from people like you. Last year the Morman Church spent $40 million on their campaign to ban gay marriage."

Well now he'd gone and done it. I was particularly sensitive to this matter after Devin and I discovered we'd inadvertently visited this Mormon racket in Hawaii that promoted itself as the Polynesian Cultural Center. It was sort of like Epcot Center with villages for Figi, New Zealand, Tonga, etc. But we became suspicious when we discovered tour buses leaving from the center and going to the Mormon temple up the road. I'll spare you the full rant and instead just conclude that in a roundabout way I'd donated money to the wrong side of this debate. It was the least I could do to give some cash to this poor guy standing in front of me.

I opened my wallet to find a $20 bill. I paused for a moment, thinking that this $20 would either go to this guy or to, most likely, booze and food. How selfish could I be?

Unfortunately, I'm prone to borderline delusional flights of fancy (cute when you're 12 years old, troubling when you're 27) and began envisioning myself as a champion for gay rights. I'd be at protests. I'd help raise money with this guy. (Really, I am WAY too lazy to do any of that.)

I handed over the $20 and felt quite pleased with myself. But by the time I'd finished the 5 minute drive home, I regretted my decision. That was 20 bucks! I needed that! What was I thinking? I decided not to tell Devin about my new political endeavors.

Then later that night, as Devin and I were walking up to the restaurant where we were meeting a friend, something reminded me of that morning's encounter. "This morning I gave $20 to a guy for gay marriage."

"Why would you do that? You can't even pay your bills."

"I know. I just felt bad."

"That money could have paid for your dinner that you're about to eat."

"Yeah, but I had to do something..."

"$20 is not going to make a big difference to them. You may as well have just hung onto it."

Sure enough, my portion of the dinner was about $35. That long lost $20 bill would have been handy.

Dwelling on this matter again yesterday while grocery shopping, I decided that the only way to make up for giving up that money was to spend as little as possible for my lunches during the work week. So I bought 5 packs of ramen noodles for $1, to avoid spending $20 - $25 on take out or expensive foods with nutritional value.

Lesson learned, I guess. Don't donate money you can't donate. It's not going to help your karma, it's not going to save the world, it's just going to ruin your lunch.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thank you, Toluca Lake Plant-life

Yesterday morning, while walking the dog, I felt rumbly and grumbly and generally upset. It seems like the world is playing a joke on me lately, specifically in the financial department.

While huffing and stomping through the streets, Seamus literally stopped to smell the roses. (Usually he just pees underneath them.) He shoved his snout right into one, then when he was done he looked over at me like "you gotta get in on this."

To his credit, he found a pretty cool looking rose.

I pat him on the head to thank him for reminding me to chill out and look around, then we strolled back home.

And I noticed I had a tiny flower tagalong.

Is someone getting all sentimental these days or what?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My DJ was a D-Bag. So what?

In my last post I alluded to the fact that a number of things went seriously (I'd say disastrously) wrong at our wedding. And while this is true, and while I'd planned to share horrifying detail after horrifying detail with you, I've decided I'd better just stop thinking about the bullshit and focus on the memories. Isn't that what people advise brides-to-be? "Now remember, don't think about the bullshit."

Well, someone should start saying that to brides. I will.

Actually, it was Devin who suggested we just put a ban on the postmortem analysis after discovering that the further we tried to get to the bottom of things, the worse we both felt. I think I might actually be a little depressed. And I have stopped talking about it, sort of.

By now I'm sure you're really wondering what's going on and if I'm ever going to tell you. Well, I'm not. At least not exactly. Suffice it to say that we were fined a handsome sum of money for smokers smoking outside of the site's designated smoking area. (If you're reading this and you're one of them, you're an asshole. I'm sorry but it's true! And I can't call you up and tell you that personally.) The DJ started fights with me, Devin, my sister, my father, and our photographer. We nearly got shut down for someone smoking pot in the bathroom - or what has come to be called "the incident in the bathroom" in all related emails since. And I wound up leaving my kitchen shears and steak knives at the hotel.

I'd love to expand on all of those points of interest, but if I start, I'm likely to type so furiously I'll break a finger.

So since we've gotten back from our honeymoon we've been trying to get money back and make sense of it all. But nothing seemed to be going our way.

And in the meantime I have everyone I know asking me if I had a good time. I think the phrase "Don't even get me started!" was invented for moments like these.

It really sucks. To be honest I've been putting on a front as best as I can and seem like everything was perfect. It looks that way in pictures. And actually until everything took a weird turn the day genuinely WAS perfect. I'm really hoping that as time passes I'll only remember how great everything was, that it was 99% awesome and that I got to spend a day with everyone I love. Because for now whenever it gets brought up I have the same reaction you'd have if someone brought up a night you got really drunk and embarrassed yourself. I just want to pretend it never happened. And that breaks my heart.

Still, I'm getting better. The full DJ story (which I will tell you some time over drinks...later) is actually already a little bit funny. And it helps that Devin has somehow managed to filter out the bad stuff and I know I'll come around. When all is said and done, I really DID get married. That was the end goal and I met it.

In an effort to prove to myself that I don't really give a damn, I sent one final email to the location's (passive-aggressive) manager, whom I'd been battling with over the smoking issue. I wanted to type something jolly like "hey, my friends might be idiots but they're still my friends!" Then I deleted idiots and typed crazy. Then I deleted that and typed whacky. Then I gave up and instead just wrote "I really had a fun time!"

Thankfully she hasn't responded. So at least I got the final word.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Best Wedding I Ever Hosted

Gosh, one day of being back at work and in my messy apartment, and it's like the whole honeymoon never happened!  Routine, routine.

I've been a wife for all of 10 days now, and the first thing I've learned is that people do not like you to say that you are glad your wedding is over or describe it as catastrophic.  Don't get me wrong, it may have been the best wedding ever.  I know this because so many guests said it was the best wedding ever.  (Or maybe my friends are great with compliments.)  

What I mean is... I wish someone had told me how tricky it can be to have fun at your own wedding.  There are so many things to do and people to talk to and pictures to take and things that can go surprisingly and drastically wrong (but more on that later).  

So lest you think I'm a bad bride, allow me to present you with visual evidence of my wedding awesomeness.  I will also RE DO this entire thing once our photographer's pictures come in...but that will be weeks from now and who can wait that long? I can't without straining myself and passing out.  

In the meantime, fantastic snapshots from my friend Barry.

We started with a peaceful ranch.

Added some well dressed men.

Some pretty ladies.

And a couple in love.

And Devin's friend Todd, a newly appointed minister in the Universal Life Church.

What you can't tell in this picture is that I shocked and embarrassed myself by bursting into tears the moment I began to recite my vows. I swear, I was fine, I was fine, and then "I Briana, now take you Devin.... gwwaahhhhh" Where did that come from?

Afterwards, our photographer suggested waiting a short while for the light to improve before taking more pictures. So I released the wedding party into the wild, where they must have each had at least 2 drinks a piece, for when I called them all back to take pictures I found myself confronted with an unruly bunch!

And then there was dinner. And a much celebrated speech from my father (who apparently channeled Dudley Moore for the evening).

And then there was dancing, and drinks sloshing all over the place (but none hit my dress... ha cha cha!).

By the end of the night it was time to slice the wedding pie and serve it up with ice cream. The caterer provided us with the world's largest knife, which prompted me and Devin to ham it up with stabby murder faces.

Seeing the pictures now, I'm not sure stabby murder faces were the right move.

But then it was time for more kissing. Yay!

Sunday, October 4, 2009