Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Great Easter Scandal

Sometimes you are about to do something naughty. And you know it, and your accomplice knows it, and the very universe you inhabit knows it. The only people who do not know it (of course) are your parents. So the universe does its part and tries to send your family a signal in the form of a digital photo. It says "Hey Parents--see how guilty these two little boys look? Like they're in a lineup? Well, keep it in mind, because in about five minutes you are going to sit down to Easter dinner. Dinner will lead to cake and you will say that the boys cannot have cake because they have already eaten more sugar on this one day than anyone needs to eat in an entire year. They will seem to be fine with this. They will leave the room and you and the other adults will pick up your wine and commence with the flour-less yet heavenly chocolate dessert. But then you will notice that no noise is coming from the living room. None at all. And that can only be bad news when the occupants of that room are two four-year-oldish boys. So you will drop your forks and scramble to the living room only to discover that the boys have raided the "grownup candy" basket that grandma so thoughtfully assembled for the adults. With dexterity you could not have imagined and a level of cooperation they have not exhibited all day, they have silently unwrapped and consumed a shocking amount of this candy. Furthermore (and most unfortunately), you will discover that they have chosen to use Grandma's pastel couch as a napkin. That's right. A chocolate covered pastel couch is in your future. Cushion washing. Apologies. Embarrassment. All of it. Unless you act now Parents. Act now! Apprehend Mr. Who Me? and Mr. Nope, I Didn't Do It immediately. Stop admiring their cuteness and digest the clues! Can't you see them? They're practically confessing in advance!

OK, that's it. I've done all I can. It's up to you to save yourselves now.

Sincerely, The Universe"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hidin' From the Pizza Rat

Well, I'm not exactly hiding. I'm just not there. 

At Chuck E. Cheese.

I'm supposed to be there because Transitions (the company that Amgen is paying to help us make friends) is hosting an event there.

Isn't that nice? That they actually hired a company to help successfully integrate us into the community?

I think it's pretty above-and-beyond. It's not just for us though—they do it for all their employees moving to Thousand Oaks from out of town. Mostly they just host little get-togethers so we can meet other families...see if we like each other, see if we have anything in common—pretty much like speed dating. Sometimes it's a movie night, sometimes a hike, and if you're a stay at home mom you totally score because you can bring your kids to a coffee gathering (all food and drinks at these things are paid for by the company) once a week.

We've only gone to one other event so far, and it was kind of embarrassing because most of the people were from other states and other countries. Michigan. Brazil. India. Florida. People who clearly have a legitimate case for needing to be integrated. I think our case is just as legit (in fact, I'd argue that Michigan may very well be more like Thousand Oaks than where we're from), but when I told them that we moved here from Northern California, “which sounds close but really is like another world,” I got a lot of eye rolling.

Whatever. They don't know.

We get to use the service for a whole year, which seems awfully generous. I suppose they figure that if you haven't made any friends after an entire year you're not going to...ever.

Anyway, I bailed tonight because I needed to go running, and so now poor Shanti is in the land of the pizza rat all by himself (well, with Zeke, but on his own socially). And I'm a little freaked because the more I think about it the more I think that C.E.C. is probably a mecca for pedophiles.

Don't you think you'd go there if you were a pedophile? I would. It's like a child supermarket.

I just called Shanti to ask him if he's keeping an eye on Zeke:

“Do you see any of the Megan's List guys?” (We memorized the faces and names of all the ones that live within a mile radius of our new home, which was actually pretty easy because there were only three and one of them used to be married to one of my best friends in high school.)


“What about low-profile pervs? See any of those?”


“Well how do you know? They're low profile—they're probably all around you.”

“No. All that's around me is Amgen people and screaming kids. I'm pretty sure it's a pervert-free zone.”

“OK well I'm calling again in five minutes.”

Hours later...

Fortunately they made it home safe and sound. Whew. I think we'll be sticking to the hikes and movie nights in the future. I just can't handle the pizza rat pressure. The pic is of Zeke is a state of post-Chuckie reverie.

Friday, April 10, 2009

More Thoughts On Life In Our New Habitat

When Shanti first moved down here he complained to me repeatedly about how fast the people drove.

I told him to stop being such a baby, and reminded him that north of Sand Hill Rd., people on the 280 rarely let their spedometers drift below 80 mph. “The people in L.A. couldn't be driving faster than that,” I argued, “They've got all the traffic!” He sighed, resigned to my disbelief, and we moved on to other topics.

But now I'm here, and I get it.

Holy Mother these people drive fast! And they are not messin' around. They don't slow down even 1 mph when you are trying to merge onto the freeway. Not one. If you do not choose a large enough gap and accelerate rapidly enough to slip into it, that Nicey McNice waitress that just blew your mind with her awesome customer service will drive her giant black Hummer right through your teensy-weensy Prius—without a moment's hesitation.

And the weirdest part of this behavior is the universality of it. It's not one or two loonies zooming past everyone and zipping in and out of lanes. It's a much more coordinated, almost militant affair that seems to involve the entire freeway-driving population. Like they all know about some rule that I am unaware of.

Well, I was unaware of it. I'm pretty sure I've figured it out though: Step on it or get creamed.

I haven't decided how I feel about this yet. One the one hand it does seem a little unfriendly of my new neighbors to willfully attempt to mow me down. But in a way I find the lack of ambiguity kind of comforting. There is no “Should I go? Is that guy slowing down for me to pull in? Yeah, I think he might be. OK, here I go. Oh wait—maybe I don't have enough room. Oops! It looks like he had to slam on his brakes. My bad. Sorry! (Waving out the window.) Thanks! That was nice of you.” Nope. You know that the burden is on you to pick a gap, hit the gas hard and make a decisive move into the lane. Anything less will result in disaster. Draconian, yes, but it makes sense. Who knows...maybe it really is the law and I just didn't know it.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Patience Required

Well, it's Day 3 of the Bowl Cut Challenge and so far not much is happening. It turns out that waiting for hair to grow requires even more patience than the fabled paint watching exercise. 

I did a little online research and discovered that hair really only grows 1/2 inch per month. Is that right? That can't be right. That means I won't have enough hair for a bowl cut until November or December. Very disappointing. I didn't envision the bowl as a winter 'do. A winter bowl seems very serious to me. A conscious choice. A statement. It puts the world on notice that you have an entirely different belief system than they do, and you're not afraid to show it. Like a neon sign on your head. I'm not sure Zeke has the self-assurance to bear the weight of the winter bowl.

The summer bowl on the other hand seems to me like more of a carefree thing. An "I've been having such a fabulous time frolicking in the sun that I forgot to get my hair cut," thing. 

So I don't know what I'm going to do now. I do know that I'm not giving up. Not immediately anyway. I had Zeke try bowls on his head tonight. He has a very big head, so as you can see, the first regular soup bowl he tried looked like a yarmulke. No good. That will give him shorter hair than he already has. The second bowl was better, but still not big enough--which is shocking, because you can make a truly massive salad in that bowl. I'm not sure what to try next. Mixing bowl? Casserole dish? Wok? I'll have to dig around. Guess I've got about eight months to figure it out. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

It's Bowl Season!

I'm pathetic. This is the only newish picture I have of my son right now, and really it's not new at all. It's about one month old—taken at the hotel we lived in for three days after the movers packed our stuff, but before we were ready to head south.

Now that we live here, Shanti and my mom take hundreds of pictures of Zeke in any given week, so I always feel like we're covered in the memory department...and we are (no need for me to pull out a camera--ever). But it means I'm not quite as well covered in the blogging department.

Anyway, I like how short his hair is in this shot. I always like it short. But I think I'm gonna let him grow it out this summer.

Maybe “let” isn't quite the right word since he's not asking to grow it out, but you get the idea. I'm going to stop cutting it. I want it to get long enough that I can give him a bowl cut. Just to see if he can pull it off. And to see if I, as the lead stylist of the NudieCuts Underground Salon (because I require my customers to be naked for easy cleanup), can pull it off. I feel like the window of haircutting freedom is rapidly closing and I have to act now if I want to pursue new styles without complaint. Today he'll let me do whatever I want. Next year he might not think that shooting for a bowl cut is such a hot idea. And I'm pretty sure I'll have to start paying for haircuts (gasp!) as soon as his friends are old enough to know what's cool and what is not.

So today Project Bowl Cut is officially launched. I guess it's actually a pretty passive initiative. Not much to do but wait. I'll let you know how it goes.

Credit to, which just had a Best Bowl Cuts contest. You have inspired me.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Anybody out there?

Hey--Thanks if you're still coming by the blog! Sorry I fell off the map for a while. Moving to Thousand Oaks was a little more disruptive than I imagined it might be. Took a little while to find solid ground and get to a point where I had the energy to blog again. And it's funny, I haven't stopped thinking about blogging--there are at least two dozen things I've wanted to write about--I just haven't been capable of doing it. So anyway, my apologies. Thanks for stopping by to check it out again.

I don't have any pictures to post right now, but I may have some later this week. Zeke is doing great, and so is Shanti. I'll go into detail on their adventures in future posts. For now, a few of my observations about life (back) in the Southland:

-Observation #1: The 80s are alive and well here. At least musically. Where in the Bay Area there might be 80s hour on one channel at lunchtime, or really late at night, here you can find 80s music at any time of day, any day of the week, on at least five different stations. So odd. No 70s, no 90s, just 80s. All the time. Even on radio stations that purport to have some other format. In the car on the way to the gym the other day I was so pleased to find what I thought was a pop station. My good friend Katy Perry was singing to me about how her man was “hot and then cold, yes and then no.” It was good and thumpy and fun. Perfect music for a warm day with the windows down. I turned it up. Then, just as I was patting myself on the back for having found a non-80s station, the DJ throws on a little Devo. That's right—Devo! Whip It. Being played on the radio in 2009. It continued at the gym, where I was treated to Rebel Yell, Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?, and a Pet Shop Boys tune, before the DJ put John Mayer on like nothing ever happened. Like that whole sequence made perfect sense. Same thing at the supermarket, the car wash, the salon. They play Like a Virgin around here like it was released yesterday. And Van Halen? If you just landed here from another planet you'd think they were the most popular band on earth right now.

-Observation #2: The customer service here is incredible. At first I just thought we were having a string of lucky encounters with courteous and enthusiastic retailers, but it's been two solid weeks now and it's clear that this is not luck—it's a pattern. We have not had a single bad experience at a restaurant, dry cleaner, grocery store, or anywhere for that matter. And these people are not just running through the script that the corporation assigns them. They're polite, helpful, and seemingly genuine in their friendliness. We can't figure out what's going on or why there is such a huge disparity between here and the Bay Area (and truly, it's no contest), but we like it.

-Observation #3: The parents down here dress way better than we do (and by "we," I mean Bay Area parents because I still think of myself as a Bay Area resident). Think daddies that pretty much all look like some variation of Tommy Lee, but with much fewer tats, very carefully pressed jeans, and unspeakably expensive shoes and jackets. And moms that are almost universally fit and cute, wearing equally stylish clothing (LOTS of fake boobs too--there is clearly no taboo about that down here). I don't know where these people work, but I'm guessing it's not Amgen. Maybe the music industry, because they even look too cool for the movies.

That's it for now. I know--sweeping observations, totally unfair...but I'm just reporting. Tellin' it like I see it. No offense intended to L.A. or the Bay Area.