Friday, August 28, 2009

Here's my Friday slap in the face

The cotton pickin watercolor marker doesn't work. I know this. So why did I try it again? Why not just repaint the mess, and be done with it? I just wanted it so badly. I wanted it like Lisa Marie Presley wants her old face back. Apparently I'm some kind of masochist. I am a procrastinating masochist.

The babysitter came today. We haven't had her over much lately. So even though I should have (could have) gone to the gym, I didn't. I need to return some library books and we are out of milk, but I didn't do those things either. Half of the mountain range behind our house is on fire and it's 110 degrees outside. Leaving our little nest just felt like a double dog dare I didn't want to take today.

So I stayed here. I paid some bills. I started to upload one of the recent weddings to Pictage, so that bride and groom can show off and print their pictures. But the files were too big, and it was going to take 83 hours, so I gave up. I read the jcrew catalog start to finish. Holy shit those crewcuts kids are cute. I want to just stand them up in my living room and give them each a mint green cupcake. After that was done, I started to feel restless. I wandered into the kitchen and saw the markers laying on the back hall table. "Maybe I'll just give it one more shot". Big dope.

Miraculously the thing started working. Not like it was supposed to. Not with silver metallic ink coming out of it. But instead with this gauzy taupe color that almost looked like a shadow. It was perfect. Yes! Awesome! I am Helen Reddy! I finished one whole wall, and it was dreamy.

Then it happened. The ink started dripping out the pen like it was bleeding. First little tiny droplets and then giant streams, that made splashing sounds as they hit the baseboards. I was cleaning up spills with every pen stroke. The final blow came when all of a sudden with no warning, the fucking thing started working like it's supposed to. DARK silver ink flowing freely from the end of the marker. ARE YOU KIDDING ME GOD, BECAUSE I DON'T THINK THIS IS FUNNY!!! Actually I did think it was funny. I started laughing. Then the babysitter came in, and she started laughing too. World's worst DIY project.

I don't know what I'm going to do now. I'm sure it will stay like this. Unfinished and sad for a while longer (sorry Nipper). Anyone have any good suggestions? Anyone want to track down the crafty blogger who came up with this project and pay her to paint my bathroom? Have a great weekend. I'll be here, cleaning up my mess.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Au revoir ennui. Bonjour piano?

I've mentioned before that I was in a
fake band. It was fake because even though I wrote a few songs, and we learned to play a few songs, it was mostly me and my friend Sadie getting together, trying to figure out how to fit Claude Debussy, Dave Brubeck, and Jack White into one band. Also I can't sing. I can carry a tune. I can fake sing. But I can't hear music the way a real singer can. I have no idea how to harmonize, unless someone else does it for me. Oh, and I need to be wearing ear muffs. Sadie doesn't sing either. She plays the piano. You see where I'm going with this?

A couple of times we rented rehearsal space and got our drummer friend, who is in several totally non fake bands, and his friend, who plays bass, to play with us. One time Janeane Garafalo showed up just in time to watch me sing one of my embarrassing songs. That was the peak of our fame.

None of these facts stop me from buying THREE guitars, a red glittery amp, and many, many, prom dresses, from Target. I'm going to say this right now. I had band jackets made for us, for Christmas. They cost more than I can admit to spending on such a thing, and I still wear mine sometimes when I feel I need, a little je ne sais quoi. I read Lester Bang's Biography. I grilled my dad on seeing the MC5 one time in Detroit. His recollection was, that they were, very, very, loud. I wanted to eat, sleep, drink rock and roll. It's like I missed out on something in high school, and somehow at 30, I had to let this daydream play out.

Ok, so where is this going? One of the guitars I bought was a vintage 1960s red reso-glass Airline from Montgomery Ward. I found it on ebay, and bought it from a guy in Liverpool. It was SO cool. It was small, and red, and adorable, and oh yeah, Jack White (my hero) played one just like it. Except of course, Jack White, can actually... you know... play the guitar... LIKE A WIZARD. SO I bought this thing and I bought a glass slide, and tried my very best to play the blues. Oh man, if I could just have played the blues. The saddest thing in my whole life, is my total inability to sing like Ella Fitzgerald, and play guitar like Jack White. Can you imagine that person? It's not me. I'm more like, if Lisa Loeb was irritated, and out of tune, and didn't have any stick-to-it-ive-ness.

So this week, as I was cleaning out the garage, emptying out the closets, rearranging everything, I realized that it's time for the guitar to go. I put it on craigslist two nights ago. Nipper Knapp and I went to see "It Might Get Loud" this afternoon, and it was awesome. It was a nice little going away party for my rock and roll alter ego. Tomorrow a nice boy, who seems to know everything in the world about this guitar, is coming by to pick it up. He is a musician, who's in a real band, and he will play it, and give it the home it deserves.

I was thinking about using the money to tile the backsplash in the kitchen. The tile that the previous owner installed, makes me think of refried beans every time I look at it. I've trained myself not to look at it. But I'm thinking I might use the money on a piano. I'd love for Jack to learn how to play. We always had a piano growing up, and even though none of us ever played it, or played it well at least, there was this idea of music in the house. Maybe that's all you need.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Office Space Redux

When we bought this house, I had visions of turning the garage into an office, and having the crawlspace under the house, turned into a finished storage area. Nipper Knapp, ever the naysayer, said, it couldn't be done. Humanity was not yet advanced enough to make it so. But then a few months ago, our gardener/handyman/lord and savior, Roberto, and his brother, whose name is Geronimo, which is awesome, but everyone calls him Momo, were doing some work up the hill, and I asked them if they could finish that space downstairs. They said "Por Supuesto". Actually they said "Yes, of course". Roberto is kind enough to never make me speak my horrible Spanish. And in the rare instances when I do, he's kind enough to not laugh in my face.

There was a time in my life, when I could speak Spanish. I even read Borges in Spanish. Which kind of qualifies me for Mensa, because I don't even understand Borges in ENGLISH! I was fluent for crying out loud. My parents were kind enough to pay for me to get a liberal arts education, from the University of San Francisco. I got a degree in Latin American History. I visited City Lights Bookstore for readings by assorted communists and outlaws. I raged against the injustices of the last four centuries. I drove my car while intoxicated, with a Jesuit priest in the back seat shouting, "Lorenzo!" out the window, as we passed Lawrence Ferlenghetti on the street. I went to Mexico by myself, and didn't tell my parents where I was going. Sorry mom. I went to Allen Ginsberg's memorial, where they had oranges floating in a fountain. I wrote poems in Spanish. I know... mortifying! I'll try to dig one up, and post it. There was a lot of stuff about mangos, and unrequited love, and oh yeah, the sorrow of my privileged birth.

Here are some pictures of me spending Christmas in Cuba. I know! Escandalo! And NO, that is not Radio Raheem, in the pictures with me. It's the lifeguard from my hotel, and I totally made out with him. Sorry mom. The other shot is of me at some Santero's house, getting ready to sacrifice a goat. No shit. I actually left before they did that, which I kind of regret. I was chicken. They also sacrificed a chicken, but it wasn't me. Also, my hair was REALLY ugly. I apologize for making you look at it.

Nowadays, I'm lucky if I can remember how to say "how do you do". So I just don't. I figure people would prefer not to hear someone fumbling around with marbles in their mouth, rolling their r's inappropriately.

Where was I? Oh right, the crawlspace. Here it is before Roberto and Momo worked on it:

And I'm totally mad at myself for not taking pictures of the melee that ensued once they started work. First they had to haul away, the 80 years of construction castoffs, and DIRT that were under there. It took two giant truckloads to get it all to the dump. At one point there was a mountain of old wood, bricks and concrete FILLING the yard. One of the guys on Roberto's crew was using the pile as a work table to saw the plywood pieces, they were using for walls.

Then they poured a concrete floor. When I say poured, what I mean is two guys mixed concrete and then hauled it in there and raked it, or shook it, or whatever it is that you do to make concrete lay flat. The whole process, confirmed, once again, that while I think I could someday be one of those ladies on tv, with safety goggles, and a miter saw, that's just a big joke I keep telling myself. Because frankly, I'd rather lay on the couch in my recession dress and watch Jack play with one of his 1700 garbage trucks, and concrete sounds heavy.

Ok, so here is the finished room:

Now for the garage/office renovation. Oy vey. When we moved in, it looked like this:

Unfortunately, it now looks like this:

In the next few days, I have to figure out how to fit all the stuff into the crawlspace, so that I can start painting, and Nipper can start dry walling, and we can all get on with our lives for the love of the Virgen de Guadelupe...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kids say the darndest things!

My big brother sent me a text the other day, regarding an exchange he had with my 5 year old niece. She is the honeycrisp apple of my eye. I thought I'd share this little gem:

Anoushka: how high can an eagle fly dad?
Me: about a mile I guess.
Anoushka: if we took all the feet off the dead people on earth, and stacked them up, would that be a mile?
Me:......sure, sounds about right... Bloody weirdo.

The next day, he sent this follow up:

Anoushka's mom: Why would you take the feet off Anoushka? They would stack better with the feet on.

In fairness, my sister-in-law is a doctor. So maybe that was just her professional opinion, you know, since she's an anatomy expert. But still, I told him, he'd better sleep with one eye open.

Friday, August 21, 2009

There is something wrong with that boy

SO if I told you the name of the first boy I kissed, you'd know right away, I went to a prep school. Boys at public school don't have names like this. But I don't kiss and tell, so you'll have to imagine. Actually I did kiss and tell. It was the fall of 8th grade. This boy, let's call him J Crew Fantasy #1, picked me up, and we walked downtown to the State Theater in Ann Arbor. This was when it was still the great big old theater. Before they turned it into an Urban Outfitters/cineplex. We went to see Hoosiers (prep school boys are just as romantic as public school boys). I remember his arm grazing mine on the armrest, and thinking that my heart might explode from my chest. I have no recollection of the movie that day. Although I saw it years later, and thought it was pretty good. Minus Dennis Hopper. What a ham.

Ok, so JCF#1 walked me home, and there on my front porch, he leaned in and kissed me. This was no G rated romper room kiss. He kissed WITH TONGUE. I think he even Mike Tyson'd me, (his arms extended over my shoulders pinned to the porch wall), but I can't be certain of this. I might have made that part up. Ok, so once I scraped myself off the steps, I ran inside and called my best friend. "JCF#1 just kissed me, on the front porch, WITH TONGUE".

I broke up with JCF#1 several weeks later, even though I was IN LOVE. We were sitting on the front porch again, and he wanted to kiss. I could tell, because he kept leering at me, and the glare off his braces was blinding. The problem was, I didn't know how to kiss sitting down. Sigh... I panicked. As I would often handle awkward situations later in life, I became a mute. My mind was racing. "Do I turn my head sideways?" "Should I turn my whole body to face him?" Oh my god, has there ever been a stupider teenager??? Ok, so as the freaking kama sutra of porch kissing positions, scrolled through my brain, JCF#1, quickly became irritated, because outwardly, I was silent and stone faced. Finally, he said "What's wrong, do you want to break up?" Rather than admit the mortifying truth, that I was not the worldly woman, I made myself out to be, I said "Yes". He stormed off, leaving me on the porch to contemplate my own social retardation.

This little anecdote is the prelude to a J Crew Fantasy #2. After 10th grade, I was sent to boarding school. I say after 10th grade, and not junior year, because this place had a summer program, and my mom got me on the first space shuttle going east, trunk packed, mayhem left behind. After the awkward porch kiss incident, things went downhill fast. My parents started sleeping in separate rooms, and then separate houses, and then next thing you know, they're divorced, and JCF#1 and I (now friends) are smoking large quantities of pot on the nature trail behind the school, amongst other infractions worthy of expulsion. SO, I'm shipped off to boarding school in Maine, which might sound lovely to you, dear reader. But that's because you are an adult, who appreciates bountiful lobster, and brilliant fall color shows. I was a pissed off teenage girl (worlds most dangerous and volatile weapon).

By the time junior year started, I had settled in somewhat. No more sneaking smokes, no more running away (that's a story for another time). And part way through that fall semester JCF#2 arrived from Chicago. This boy, was so handsome, I wanted to throw myself on his mercy, beg to be his slave. But I was insolent, and again, terrified... so... silent. Good thing too, because, as I slowly got to know JCF#2, I realized there was something very, very, wrong with him. And I'm going to say it right here, I think it was all his mother's fault. For starters, every item of clothing he owned was from J Crew. Even his socks, and boxers, were from J Crew. Coming from Michigan, I had never seen a boy wearing designer (or what passed for that in my tiny world) socks and underwear. My dad and brother were strictly Hanes men. Tidy whities and tube socks. You know, MEN. So at first this was appealing to me, exotic.

But JCF#2's personality left something to be desired. Namely a personality. He had somehow never developed one. He was vain, shallow, dull, somewhat aggressive, totally lacking in substance. He was this beautiful boy, with a charmed life, and NOTHING to offer anyone. And, again, I blame his mother. He was spoiled. As in spoiled fruit. Rotten boy.

Sometimes, when I hug Jack, I think I could squeeze him hard enough to pop him like a grape. I can't be close enough. When he's not near me in distance, he is always on the forefront of my mind. I do things for this child, that I never thought I would be patient, or generous, enough to do for another person. When he is frightened, or upset, my entire world stops, regardless of what was concerning me the moment before. When he says "Look Mommy" for the 14th time in as many seconds, I inevitably, look. When I'm divvying up some delicious treat, I always give him more, wether it be eggs, or sweets. When I'm out shopping, I forgo designer dresses (most of the time) to buy him organic cotton onesies, and sailor trousers from France. Sometimes for no reason at all I think "Jack needs a new garbage truck" and off I go to get him one. I love that boy, more than I knew I had love to give.

But as I was shuffling through one of his drawers the other day, this sinking feeling came over me. I looked around. His room is filled with perfect things. His life is filled with perfect things. His life is about as good as a little boy's life can be. I know our generation grew up with divorce, and latchkeys, and Depeche Mode, and sometimes we think, if only our parents had done a little bit more, maybe we wouldn't be so... so... well, how we are. Neurotic, terrified of everything from plastic, to public schools. I'm going to try hard to keep my desire to make everything for him perfect. To remember that sometimes life is filled with disappointment, and longing. And sometimes these are the best, most memorable parts.

I will not turn Jack into a listless, cardboard, J Crew Fantasy, of any kind. Although I can't promise I won't buy him any more French sailor pants.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm a masochist

Sorry to leave some of you hanging. I only have 7 minutes to complete this post. Jack is about to wake up, the nanny is on her way, and I have to make a 2:10 matinee with Sadie. Sing it with me: your life is so hard, play your tiny violin!

Here are the contents of the shipping container I received last week from the marvy uchida marker company:

One watercolor marker
One surprisingly heavy catalog
One ball of scrunched up brown craft paper

Why that needed to be sent in a refrigerator box, beats me. Maybe they didn't want the marker to feel claustrophobic. Maybe that's why the mf-er won't work on my bathroom walls. Because it's just too durn small.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jessica and Judd's Wedding

Jessica and Judd's wedding in San Francisco, went off without a hitch. Unless you would call, me showing up to the wrong hotel, to shoot the bride getting ready, "a hitch". Oops. I blame mommy brain. It turned out fine, because the cab ride from the other hotel was exactly 4 minutes. I RULE!

Here are a few pictures from their day. I'm off now to shoot their reception in Malibu tonight. I know, a two city wedding! They are FANCY.

Friday, August 14, 2009

I left my heart in San Francisco

Yesterday morning, after a tear free goodbye to Nipper Knapp and Jack (I'm tough like nails), I drove to LAX, and I got on a plane, baby free, for the first time in two years. I want to shout from the mountain tops "PEOPLE!!!! BEFORE YOU HAVE A BABY, DO ALL YOUR FLYING NOW!!! Jack is pretty good on a plane. He did ask to "go outside" for 2.5 of the 5 hour flight to Michigan. But no major freak outs (knock wood). But, like it or not, traveling with a child turns you into a sherpa. Tensing Momgay. The stroller, the baby bjorn, the sippy cup, the snack container, the diapers, the wipes, the 10,001 matchbox cars, the dwell baby drawing kit, with the invisible ink markers that he will never look at, the iphone loaded with every episode of sesame street ever, all the xanax in the world. It adds up.

As soon as I checked into my hotel, I got on the 30 Stockton bus, and headed for the Palace of Fine Arts, where the wedding is taking place. That's right, I got on a BUS. It's weird that you can lose your ability to do something, as simple as navigate a public transportation system. When I lived in SF, I didn't have a car for 5, of the 7 years I was here. I walked, rode the bus, and very rarely hopped in a cab. In LA, we live in our cars. I don't want to say there's no street life, because I know there is, but it's not the same.

When I was about 23, I lived briefly with a boyfriend in a great old building on California street, at the cusp of Chinatown and Nob Hill. I rode this bus every day, where an old man who kept the same schedule as me, blew snot rockets onto the floor in the aisle of the bus.

As we were driving through Chinatown, the smell of overripe produce filled the bus. The streets outside jammed with people. People stepping off the sidewalk into the street, blocked traffic. When I lived here, this kind of thing, made me crazy! UGH! STENCH! MOVE! But yesterday, I felt like a prisoner seeing blue sky for the first time in a long time. When I got down to the Marina district, the air was filed with mock oranges, and sea air. Street Life! Plus, I think I forgot how to walk. My hips are so tight from all this walking, I could be mistaken for fit. Walking is something all human beings learn how to do when they are about 1, unless they live in LA. Those people learn at 1, but by the time they are school age, they never walk anywhere, ever...

So, I'm shooting this wedding today. The location is beautiful. The bride is beautiful. The groom, well actually I haven't met him, but I'm sure he's a delight. Wish me strength, and good vision!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Don't go in there!

Shitsticks. This does not bode well. I ordered a marker. This is what arrived via fedex. It's roughly the size of a shipping container. I'm too afraid to open it. This whole project has been doomed from the start. I mean, maybe it'll be a nice kind of surprise. Like maybe what's in that box, is a whole new bathroom, or a replicant of Jack who is already potty trained, and likes to rub my feet.

I'm about to board a plane for San Francisco, where I'm shooting the wedding of the dear Ms. Hopper, and her un-bride husband to be. My heart can't handle one more crack, pre-flight. I've never spent more than 12 hours away from Jack, and I'm a little concerned that my sobbing might disrupt the wedding ceremony. Just kidding, I'll wear a muzzle. However, if I was to break my wrist, smashing my fist through the bathroom wall, all would be lost. So for now, the jinx stays in the box.

Wish me luck, and stuff.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Highland Park 10:36 a.m.

Me: on the computer, entering my credit card number as fast as my piggy fingers can fly.

Nipper Knapp, panther like, suddenly at my shoulder: "whatcha buying?"

Me, caught, casual as possible: "Another paint pen"

Nipper hangs his head

Me: "you took a vow", pat on the back, pat on the back, pat on the back

Nipper: "not a paint pen vow"

Did I mention I bought another one at Michael's yesterday, but in a fine point, because that's all they had, because I wanted see if it was all silver markers, or just mine that totally don't work? By the way, it's just mine. The new one works just fine. SO now I have, two not working markers, and one that works just fine, but not in the width that I need. SO, like any sane person, I ordered another one. But this time, I ordered it straight from the Marvy Uchida marker company in beautiful downtown Torrance California. I'm like Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, "I WILL FIND YOU". This bathroom is going to be romantic like that.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

now hear this

I overheard this conversation, while shopping in Old Town Pasadena, a few days ago:

"Ooh-wee my hair is hot."

"oh that happened to me once."


"yeah, it was the first time David saw me perspire. We were in the desert, and I was feeling so hot, and I went into the bathroom, and there was smoke coming off my head."


Then the light turned, and I crossed the street. Delightful.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I wish I knew how to say uh-oh in a few other languages. The drama of the unpainted bathroom continues. After all the back and forth between me and nice people at the durable supply company, about the silver marker, my woes continue.

With a whole lot of wiggling the marker does in fact work, but just barely. The gold marker that I purchased at the same time, glides right across paper, and the watercolor comes out evenly. The silver marker comes out in fits and spurts, and only if you press with all your might, and the sponge nib flakes off into the paint. Not pretty. I would need a bionic arm to finish the tiny bathroom at this rate, and I'm afraid it would still look like mierda.

As I was painting, the nannny came in with Jack, to inform me that the sandbox he'd been playing in all day was filled with cat poop. FILLED WITH IT. Not to be histrionic, but, kill me now.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Ok, so I know some of you are just DYING to know what happened with the backdrop for the wedding. I think it turned out well. I had to get up on a ladder and hang it twice, because I couldn't figure out how the lighting was going to work. Unlike southern California, northern Michigan, gets this funny thing called "weather". You see, there are these things called "clouds" and apparently they come and go as the wind blows. (we have wind here too). So sometimes it's sunny, but sometimes it's this thing they call "cloudy" or "overcast". And occasionally it does this thing know in those parts as "rain". At first this rain stuff was terrifying to Jack, and he refused to go outside, for fear that his hairdo would be ruined. But by the 2nd or 3rd day of it, he was happily frolicking in it, shouting "Mommy, Jack's shirt is all wet!"

So the changing light made the backdrop a little tricky to shoot. If it was sunny, the light just inside the door to the barn was really bottom lit from the basketball court. If it was cloudy, the light a few feet back was nonexistent. I could have shipped my light kit to Michigan, but that would have cost about $500, and then I would have been crying the whole time, which would have been awkward for the bride and groom. I had to do quite a bit of quick thinking, and a shitload of exposure fixing afterwards. Since I had Jack, quick thinking is not my strong suit. Why doesn't anyone tell you that the baby will take half your frontal lobe along with the placenta when it is born? Seriously, most days I would be content to sit around and drool.

So here are some of my favorites from the day. Nipper Knapp's family likes to do "jump" pictures. They got the idea from the Life Magazine photographer Philippe Halsman. He photographed everyone from celebrities, to heads of state, and even royalty. And somehow, he got them all to jump.

The Happy Couple doing their best American Gothic

It seems like they kind of like each other. I'm just saying...

These two also let me photograph them pretending to be godzilla smashing a city. Awesome.

Mr. Hoffman is not normally an effusive man

I had to put in my own jump picture right? Just in case you thought I wasn't really there

Group American Gothic

The other Mr. and Mrs. Hoffman

Nipper Knapp's father, otherwise known as BG, Big Guy, or Poppa. He kind of looks like a butterfly specimen pinned to a felt backing in this picture. Good symmetry BG, good symmetry.

After the ceremony, the bride changed into a frock suitable for competitive badminton, and chucks to match her hubby