|Christmas 2004, and Staying at The W Hotel in Westwood
||[26 Dec 2004|04:19am]
Well, Hey Everyone, Merry Christmas, Ho, Ho, Ho! I hope those of you who celebrate Christmas, or any version of it, had a wonderful holiday!
We're staying here at The W Hotel in Westwood for the night, which is kind of fun and a nice treat. I think W stands for Wonderland because it's written on little slogans and cards around the place. Update; Nope, it turns out that it doesn't stand for anything and the hotels just have fun making up slogans that begin with W like Whatever Whenever and Welcome to Wonderland -- sweet. Scott is sleeping in the bedroom. I'm here in the office which is super luxe for an office, and we also have a big living room. We originally had just a one bedroom suite with some kind of cute and friendly name, (the Wonderful Suite), but they upgraded us to a Cyber-Suite without my even asking -- probably because I'm a member of this hotel group -- a Starwood member. I joined a few years ago when I went for my advanced scuba certification in Maui, blew out my ears, and was grounded for six weeks. That got me a few points, and a hell of a lot of glossy brochures and magazines that tortured my travel deprived heart for a good while there.
This is what our living room looks like.
I'm having a late night dinner because I couldn't eat anything at the restaurant tonight, it was all so ridiculously weird, fun and different, but just too unusual, awkward and unappetizing like asparagus salad with vinagrette dressing, walnuts, onions and a poached egg on top. Then there was the fact that my Mom had to have two martinis, "Right now, just bring them both right out, both of them, I don't want to have to wait for the second one." Nope, no drinking problems here, none of that obsessive-compulsive-I-love-booze-shopping-and-food-way-too-much addictive behavior going on in this family here, perish the thought.
I'm drinking a nice cup of hot black Chinese tea, yeay caffeine, and having a small piece of this mini marguerita pizza with truffles. Oh man, I love truffles. If you haven't had them they're amazing. They have a kind of nutty garlicky taste and they really grow on you. The taste is so rich and pungent I crave it. It's weird because I don't normally like things that taste this strong -- have this much bite.
Here's the entrance to the hotel but you can't really see the color of the stairs or the water darn it.
This hotel is very cool, very celebrity driven. Julia Roberts once called me by mistake from here thinking she was leaving a message for her hair stylist. Everything is very modern with a kind of 60's 70's retro throwback feel. To get to the entrance you walk up glass stairs that are underlit in neon blue and have water cascading beneath them. When you enter the lobby there is, of course, super cool music, and everything is dark and artfully lit. There are places to lounge and hang all over, and there are interesting arty video installations being projected on the walls. The lights are always super low at night with colored spots here and there -- the elevators kind of alternate glowing blue and red, and they have cameras that take pictures of you, break them up into a couple dozen smaller frames and play you back to you on a little monitor mounted in the wall that says funny little things like, "Show us your mirror face," and "Ooh la la, pretty." There are great big black and white photographs all over the place as well and the people who work here are super attractive, they all look very New York in LA, in their all black understated elegance.
Here's just a part of the lobby, but it's usually much more colorful and darker than this.
Cindy Crawford's husband Randy Gerber has his bar/clubs here at these hotels, Whisky Blue. I wish I could go downstairs and check out the lounge scene but I don't want to go by myself, and by the sound of the snoring coming from my exhausted and holiday-burnt-out pal in the next room, it looks as if we won't be visiting the little, secret, outdoor room at the top of the hotel that I've known about for years and very few other people do. I asked the maintenance man, who came to fix the TV and stayed for a bit to gossip about famous clientele, if it was still there and he said that it was and that we can still visit it, darn it. It would have been so great to show to Scott after all of these years. You can see all of Westwood from up there and it's so pretty, especially at night. Plus the moon is supposed to be full and amazing tonight. Oh but I forgot Scott has a fear of heights and to get to it you have to sneak up some stairs then walk all around the ventilation ducts and various electrical things on the roof, then turn a corner, go up some more steep metal stairs, and you end up in this strange open concrete room with a railing.
Our bedroom where Scott is snoring right now.
I love finding secret places like this -- I love exploring. I also love hanging out with and meeting new people. It would have been so wonderful to bond with a few new people on Christmas, but there weren't too many people hanging out in the lobby on the couches playing games and congregating like there usually are, or like there were in New York. The bar/club would have been a different scene though, there were plenty of people in there last night, but they did look pretty exhausted. Normally by this time, after everything I've done for everyone else, I would be passed out in bed at home with a pile of cats pinning me down, and George Nouri or Art Bell keeping me company on the radio, but I wanted to do something special and different this year and since Mom had originally been planning on staying here, and Scott can't sleep covered in cats, I just decided to keep the reservation and come here with him for the night. Beau is with his Father, bleh, sadness for me, but happiness for Beau that he gets to see his Dad and the family that used to be mine as well.
I had a very weird Christmas. I'm grateful for everything, don't get me wrong -- I know I'm very lucky to be relatively healthy and to have a healthy son, lucky to have a home when so many other people don't, lucky that my Mother is still alive, that I have a loving partner, and so many other blessings, but compared to other Christmases, this one kind of fell flat. I just never got that warm Christmas soulful feeling -- you know what I mean, that feeling that kind of seizes you by the heart and makes your nose tingle and your eyes water, the one that makes you want to be more loving, be a better person, that feeling that Oprah must be feeling 24/7. The closest I came was when I was celebrating Hanukkah, of all things, and snuck around giving presents to my neighbors for seven days, or last night when I was watching our very feeble and elderly Pope perk up whenever he saw children. I'm not a big fan of the Holy Father, not that I don't like him, I don't feel anything but love and respect for the man, it's just that I am a wee bit suspect of my own religion and it's history, the wipe-other-religions-and-cultural-histories-off-the-face-of-the-planet-by-murdering-and-plundering, hey-let's-burn-all-of-their-books-and-women, oh-and-by-the-way-birth-control, especially-in-third-world-contries, except-by-the-universally-recognized-as-totally-unreliable-rythm-method, is-bad, and-nuns-and-priests-should-deny-their-natural-God-given-sexual-inclinations-and-wind-up-having-to-act-them-out-in-weird-and-dangerous-ways-because-they-have-been-forced-to-remain-celibate part that I don't dig. Nevertheless, and probably because of my having attended a good twelve years of private Catholic school, I maintain this childlike reverence for it's traditions and seeing this sweet, deeply-devoted, Godly man doing his best to stay awake, blessing children, was rich and meaningful in some way that I can't quite put words to.
I think maybe I was just too obsessed with the gift giving part of Christmas without remembering to embrace the reason behind all of the gift giving. Although I did give lots and lots of great gifts, and I got great gifts too -- Scott gave me a diamond and gold pendant necklace, the first time any man has ever given me a diamond anything, my neighbors across the street gave me a beautiful gold heart on a chain, and Atra's mother gave me a heavy gold chain with a big J charm on it that she had made for me especially in Iran. I gave and received lots of wonderful things but other than giving out presents and tips and donations to anyone who was within reach, and passing out a few bowls of chicken soup to some down-on-their-luck folks in Santa Monica, I never got to that deeper richer place that I might have found if I hadn't been spending so much time obsessing on gifts and making my collage cards. And everyone has been so totally PC about the whole Christmas thing that it's kind of blown the candles out of it. I can appreciate how left out of it people must feel when they aren't Christian and everything is decorated in green and red, and someone comes up to you and just assumes you want to hear Merry Christmas. I can sort of see this and I have tried to be sensitive to it, but like my friend Jen said, I really wouldn't mind at all if I lived in a world of blue and white and everyone was wishing me a Happy Hanukkah, in fact I actually do, but why can't we all wish each other a Happy Hanukkah at Hanukkah and Kwanzaa at Kwanzaa and Christmas at Christmas? What is really so wrong with wishing someone a Merry Christmas if you're saying it from your heart?
Why do I have to feel guilty for smiling at someone and saying, "Merry Christmas if you celebrate it." At least I'm adding the, "If you celebrate it part". On the phone at this hotel tonight I wished someone a Merry Christmas -- I mean come on, it was the operator for God's sake, and it's not like I was saying Fuck You -- but there was this long frosty silence that chided me for my horrible misdeed in spreading some CHRISTian love on Christmas, and I'm someone who doesn't even go to church, whose favorite Christmas gift was a gold Buddha charm, and who sleeps with a Jew. It's not like I don't care because I really do, I want to honor, respect and include everyone. It's just that I think as long as we welcome and include all holidays then we ought not feel the need to totally obliterate the one holiday that had for so long dominated all of the others just to get even with it. "Take that Christmas, with your jolly old Saint Nick, your reindeer and those damned trees, we won't wish anyone a Merry or even a Happy Christmas any more. There, now what do you think of that you freaky Jesus lovers?" You know I hate to point this out for fear of alienating half of my reading audience here but umm Jesus was a Jew so why isn't cool to celebrate his birthday? I mean we can all agree that he was a good and loving man, right, and that if he wasn't the only son of God, he was at least a fairly decent prophet of some kind, a cool dude who worked some miracles, right? Well, then while you're waiting for the real messiah to come along and save all of us, can't we at least celebrate this guy's birthday? I swear that I will be up for celebrating everyone else good and holy's birthday's too, Buddha, Krishna, Mr. Rogers, whoever, as long as there are presents I'm up for it. Merry Ghandi Day, whatever, I'm up for it. Okay I'm off of it, I promise.
Last night we went to my Mother's house to have dinner with her and exchange gifts but it usually feels pretty forced and artificial with her, sadly, because she just can't do anything like she used to, poor thing, and I wind up having to do it all, which I really wouldn't mind doing, if she weren't such a controlling bossy cow of a girl-woman. I mean she can't allow me to finish completing one task she has sent me off on before she's obsessing over and chattering about the next one. "Jacqui go to the kitchen and show 'the girl' how to heat the bread," "Bring me some scissors," "I need a trash bag for the wrapping papers," "Put on some Christmassy music," "No, wait, show Scott how to make my Vodka," "Did you get the salads on the table?" "What about the bread?" "Are we going to open the presents or not?" "I want you to open a present. I want someone else to get a present. I shouldn't be getting so many. This is embarrassing, oh you've given me too much," "Did you check the bread? Don't burn the bread! Where are the scissors?" EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Beau just kind of went off into his own usual selfish, moody, fourteen-year-old, hormonally-challenged-boy-becoming-a-man-before-he-is-really-ready-to-face-the-big-scary-world world, and hunkered down in the corner with his new bass guitar. He plugged it into the amp he brought with him and played the same damned riffs over and over again to our left while Scott sat between us looking miserable, sweaty, and glum, and Mom yakked away anxiously and obsessively to the right of me, while the occasional decent Frank Sinatra tune played in between bad, barely-audible holiday music coming from our crappy old speakers to the right of my Mom. Semi-loud, (semi because Scott had to keep asking him to turn it down), thrash, electric, bass guitar music, and horrible elevator holiday music just don't go too well together and did nothing for my frayed, overworked, undernourished holiday spirit. To say nothing of my usual assigned roll as Santa-the-gift-giver with the spasming back muscles who has to get up and down passing out stuff while EVERYONE else sits down and watches me do the work.
Nevertheless I was truly grateful and constantly reminded myself to make the best of things and count my many blessings. I was happy to be with my little family, as limited or challenged as we may all be, and given that we were all exhausted and hurting, (even Beau who was having the usual growth pains and muscle tightness that a few of our handy dandy Hyland's muscle cramp pills put a quick end to), I think everyone did the best they could. Everyone except for the tiny and super weird troll lady with three teeth who Rosa hired to take her place for the night. And even though we were all kind, and I of course brought a couple of gifts for her (She was after all giving up her Christmas to help my Mom), she drove me up a fucking wall and I can't stand her.
It didn't help that Mother chattered away happily over dinner tonight about how glad she was to have found someone who will sleep on the floor next to her bed so she can help her get up when she needs to. She even used the word slave and had this mischievous childlike look on her face when she said it, "Why, she's just like a slave," oh Lord save me, for so many reasons. Leaving aside the offensive idea of my Mother's wanting someone to be her slave for a minute, (oh shudder), there is the simple fact that this woman is a totally unqualified, negative, stubborn, opinionated, and not too damned bright. Sorry but it just had to be said. The minute I saw her I thought, "Oh man this gal is special, and not in a good way." It seemed to me that Rosa went and got someone who is mentally challenged to sub for her because she is soooo worried that anyone who stands in for her will try to steal her job. Despite this I tried to lay my instincts aside and keep an open mind but every time I went in to the kitchen to help her, and every time I needed to ask for her help, she balked in some way. Either she complained about something, criticized me in some way, or made some negative comment. I couldn't make myself understood about the most basic things, "Please put the serving spoon on the platter," turned into a fight/discussion about why I needed a third spoon when my bossy mother was clearly demanding that she be allowed to have this extra spoon. It didn't matter if it made sense to her, just please put the Fucking spoon on the Fucking platter. Of course I never said that but to have to stop and discuss every little thing that my mother wanted with this strange new person was so frustrating, so frustrating that I finally reverted to taking her hands in mine and looking her straight in the eyes and telling her what to do very, very slowly and firmly so that she would get that I meant what I said and wouldn't discuss the reasons why any further. And I am someone who is polite and empathic to a fault, it was never far from my mind that she was sacrificing her own Christmas to help us, salary or not, I appreciated the sacrifice.
I feel asleep looking at the bright full moon shining through the slats in the wooden shutters on the French door by my bed last night. Beau said that the moon looks, "All crystally and pretty tonight." I woke up super early this morning and there was none of that, "Ooooh it's Christmas, yeay, I'm so excited," feeling at all. It was all, "Oh man I have to make sure I do this and this and this..." I got up, checked the puppy who had shat the floor and then tracked it all over the bathroom, took a bath with her in my tub, then finished wrapping Esther's presents and made out her card, took everything downstairs, tried to wake up Beau, assembled the little cat catnip teddy bear treats, visited the big dogs who live outside, gave them toys and treats, and by then Esther finally arrived.
Beau woke up and then we opened gifts with Esther while eating some of the amazing and pretty Yule log that we hadn't eaten from the night before, it was a little too sweet for breakfast, yeee, but it was enough to fill my stomach so I could take my morning pills. I enjoyed giving Esther and her kids Eduardo and Andrea their presents, and watching Beau get his. I really liked the green Gap sweater that Eduardo gave me. I haven't worn something that came from anywhere other than a fat girl's store in so long so it was a special treat for me, I'm wearing it right now. Esther gave me some cotton floral appliqued blouses that she bought on Olivera Street in Downtown LA because she knows I like them, but they didn't fit, and a cool Frida Kahlo print that had been pressed into bark.
Scott came a little before one and had hurt himself by tripping on one of the many seed pod balls that fall from our sugar maple trees all year. He tripped on one and then landed hard on another causing him to get a big round bloody wound on his knee with little holes all around it that came from the prickly spikes on what we call the spiky balls. I took him upstairs and cleaned it with Hydrogen Peroxide and Neosporin and then put a Band-Aid on it. It was nice to be able to help him with something health related because he normally has to act tough all the time when it comes to his health and I feel hurt and left out when wanting to be brave and masculine he pushes me away.
Afterwards we opened all of our presents, all of which were wonderful but I am now so tired I just can't go into much more detail here. Then Robby came to get Beau and made me laugh and reminded me of how much I miss his friendship and our shared sense of humour. They left and then Scott and I went to see Sideways in Santa Monica, then we picked up Mom and came here for our weird, trying-way-too-hard-to-be-cool ridiculously expensive dinner. Mom chatted away happily telling us the usual stories about her life while I took notes with a pad of paper and a pen that I had borrowed from the starved thin hostesses. Dinner took two long excruciatingly slow hours and then we were able to leave to take Mom home. At the car she handed me a five for the $4.50 valet parking fee and reminded me loudly to, "Get the fifty cents back," which just embarrassed the hell out of me, as usual, so I got her damned fifty cents because if I'd let him keep it she never would have let me hear the end of it, and then I gave the guy an extra five bucks when she wasn't looking. On Christmas five dollars is a nothing tip, I wouldn't have been able to live with myself if I had to get the fifty cents back and wasn't able to give him anything at all.
Tuatha, if you're reading this, in answer to your question, our new dog is a mostly white, scruffy-coated, Jack Russell Terrier. She has two light-tan spots around her eyes and Beau wants to call her Scrappers or Scrappy, which I think is a pretty shitty name for a sweet, girly, puppy dog, seeing as Scrappy is just one letter away from Crappy. I saw her yesterday, or the day before, (I don't know, everything is starting to blend into one big fuzzy sleep deprived reality ball for me here), fell in love instantly and just had to bring her home for Christmas. I am smacking myself on the forehead here.
We always used to bring home two dogs for Christmas, then we'd find homes for them and start over again the next year, at least that's what I hoped we'd do, but we kind of got stuck with Jack the wolfy-shepherd-mix because he's a big old runaway humper and people just don't go for the whole pointy-pink-dick-rubbing-against-their-legs kind of thing when they're looking to adopt a dog, and Puppy, (who we never named because we were certain we were going to place her with some brave energetic person), is a Pit Bull Dalmatian mix so I probably don't need to say much more than that to explain why we haven't been able to find her a better home than the one we're giving her. Also Puppy is a cat killer, not exactly a good fit for someone like me, eh?
I don't talk about the dogs as much as the cats because I feel more protective of them and threatened by the legal limits as to how many you can have. With dogs there are licensing laws and the animal control people take them much more seriously than with cats. Ever since the incident where Anna just let the Animal Control Dude in to our house, after having been warned not to, I have been scared, scared, scared, so I kind of keep the animal thang as low key as I can manage while still being unable to keep myself from letting my pet love/joy leak out now and then. I'm still not a thousand percent certain the person who turned us in wasn't someone here on Live Journal because it was just days after I posted pictures of a big bunch o' kitties on my bed, that the guy showed up. So there you have it, I'll still put some pictures together for you and post them, if I can hold the thought long enough to remember to do it, argh.
Yep, it's me, your worn out, burnt out, pal.
My eyes keep closing, and the rate at which I am making up sentences and typing them has slowed to a crawl. There is a siren in the distance, the sound of my fingers clacking away on my computer keys, Scott's heavy breathing in the bedroom, and I am longing for sleep. I know Scott will pop out of bed super early and then pace around doing his I-have-got-to-treat-myself-to-the-perfect-breakfast-and-read-the-paper morning routine so I'd better get some sleep before I lose the chance to.
I love you guys and am looking forward to moving beyond all of my obsessing over all of this and being able to relax and read a few journals finally.
Big Hugs from your weary worn out pal,
A rare glimpse of your exhausted friend.