February 17th, 2005

Chalkboard

Valentine's Day, My Bladder Infection, Peggyhunt.com, a Bank Robbery, and Road Rage

Hi everybody, I'm so sorry I haven't been able to update my journal for a few days. I've had a pretty bad bladder infection and been stuck in bed hurting : ( I'm sorry I've missed some of your birthdays and there are soooo many terrific comments that I need to respond to -- so I've got a lot of catching up to do. I've been in too much pain to write or really check my journal at all. Today I was hurting so bad I had to curl up on the floor of my Mom's dining room -- which is where she and her secretary Tina, who I have developed a sincere fondness for -- do all of their business.

I'm feeling a little better now after taking some antibiotics, (Cipro), some bladder pills that have turned my pee orange, some Tylenol and then finally half of a Vicodin that has pretty much worn off, leaving me with this dull, burning ache in my lower abdomen. I keep having to pee, but that's nothing new for me really, I just want the pain to go away, sigh.

I had a terrific Valentine's Day, it was as close to perfect as an overly ambitious romantic like I am, could wish for. I got as much of Scott's house cleaned up and sorted out as the little amount of time we had would allow. I brought over the standing lamp and the mirror that I gave him for Christmas, put the mirror over the mantel, put all of his gifts on the hearth, organized and put all of his television components in the cabinet for him, went through and put away some of the stuff in boxes, threw away trash, moved some furniture around, set up a bookcase, added shelves, lit a fire in the fireplace for the first time, tucked my little hand made Valentine's hearts all around the house, hung a banner in his room and placed some twinkle lights on his dresser, (he loves twinkle lights), cleaned off a paper covered table and set it with linens, candles and flowers, made a great dinner, put out the cake and strawberries, put flowers everywhere, petals on the bed and a trail of petals leading to it, then put on makeup, perfume, and a few layers of lacey black and red things that I hoped he would enjoy tearing off me and waited. He was so appreciative and it was all so worth it just to make him happy.

I weighed myself at Scott's, the day before yesterday, after watching an Oprah show where she had recommended, "Owning the number," so I just forced myself to face my fear and step on the scale. I was so relieved and happy to learn that I hadn't gained a pound when I thought I'd gained ten. My weight has remained stable, thank God, for a few months. I'd like to be losing but I'll happily settle for the numbers remaining the same rather than inching their way back to where I once was.

I gained a few, well, more than a few pounds, several months ago, when my stomach stretched out enough to allow me to eat a bit more, but I'm still at the lowest weight I've been in eighteen years. This happens to an enormous amount of people who have this surgery -- they tell you in advance that you'll probably only lose about 75% of the weight you need to lose and that you should maximize your weight loss potential during the first year and a half after the surgery because that's when your stomach will be at it's smallest. I've been expecting this weight loss stoppage and slight weight gain because really, I'm still the same old emotional overeater -- just because an amazing surgical team worked their magic on my belly doesn't mean they fixed my mind as well : ( The sad thing is that it really doesn't seem like it would be that hard for me to lose the rest of this weight if I just applied myself, exercised consistently, and stopped eating after 7:30 at night. Oh well, never you worry my friends, I may seem like a turtle, but turtles can still win races, it just takes them a while.

I will be thinner by a few pounds when I remove all of this excess skin. It's just taking me a while to get around to doing this because a.) it's super expensive, b.) I'm a big procrastinating baby and am afraid of being cut up and pieced back together, c.) I really don't like the idea of having radial scars extending down from my nipples and a big circular scar running around my entire lower body, and d.) I keep hoping I'll lose more weight and it's best to be at your lowest weight before you have these surgeries.

Look at this dress of my Grandmother's that I won on eBay today, woohoo. I'm trying to get as many of these as I can before the fashion show when the prices will probably go up.

I got a nice surprise tonight when I went to register.com to renew one of my domain names and on a whim decided to look up my Grandmother's name again -- just on the off chance that the other Peggy Hunt, the real estate broker who had owned it before, had forgotten to renew it -- and low and behold, it was available. I gobbled it up instantly and this will make the perfect tie in site for the fashion show in the Spring. I'm still kind of shocked because I'd given up on it and had registered peggyhuntdesign.com just so I'd have some kind of site where I could tell her story and put up pictures of her dresses and press clippings. Now I've got the real thing, just her name and nothing more, and I can even advertise that I'm looking for her dresses and when people Google her they'll find me, yeay.

Speaking of press clippings, my Mother and Grandmother have thousands and I swear I think it would take me months to organize all of them if that's all I did every day. I'm so glad they saved them though because they really didn't save much else -- not their dresses, not their patterns, nothing. But these clippings -- these scrapbooks -- are fabulous! Unfortunately they're in terrible shape.

Granny clipped and saved all of the best newspaper and magazine articles and photos, and glued them to pale green construction paper that she then slid into these large, plastic sleeves that were in super-big, black leather binders. But they're really old, and the plastic -- like old film stock -- is unstable and has begun to degrade and melt. All of the pages were damp and it looked like someone had sprayed a fine mist of liquid on the inside of the plastic covers. There is also this weird, sour, acidic smell.

At first I thought it was rat or cat pee or something freaky like that but there aren't any animals at my Mom's house. Then I thought it might be mildew from their having been stored in the basement. I blamed this on Rosa because, given that she's always causing so much trouble, she makes a convenient scapegoat. This was unfair of me because I'm fairly certain now that the problem was caused by the plastic. I never said anything to her, but I blamed her and I'm sorry, sort of. She's just so beady eyed greedy all the time that nothing seems to escape her clutchy gaze. Mom's tenant told us that she can't ever do her laundry because Rosa seems to be running the machines 24/7. Gee I wonder why? Could it be that she's doing laundry for her entire neighborhood and making a bit of money on the side? I bought Mom a Pajama-Gram for Valentine's Day and it comes in this really cute blue hatbox that I'll bet you a hundred dollars Rosa will take. But what can I do as long as my Mom wants to keep her, and is willing to trade a few stolen things -- that she doesn't care about even if I do -- and careless housekeeping and management, in exchange for Rosa's willingness to be treated like a slave? I just have to wait it out and walk the line between standing up to her and being kind at the same time, bleh.

Anyway, what I had wanted to say was that these scrapbooks are amazing and so much fun to look at. They're filled with newspaper clippings and magazine articles about my Grandmother and my Mother's fashion shows, their dress designs, the women who wore them, interviews, parties they threw, trips they took -- there is just a ton of valuable historical information there that I am going to mine.

I have to make the time to scan and then restore them before they degrade any further. I took all of the pages out of the plastic sleeves, threw the albums away, and laid all of the many pages out on every available surface and bit of floor space that I could find. There are old black and white glossy studio photographs of Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Irene Dunn and so many other actresses wearing my Grandmother's dresses, that I just adore. There was even a picture of a Miss America wearing one. I can't wait to share these with you.

On the way home from picking Beau up at school today we ran smack into the middle of a neighborhood crime drama. There were helicopters, news cameras, cops and police cars and barricades. It was a mess -- scary, weird, and a little thrilling at the same time. There was so much traffic, and every street we tried to turn on to head towards our house was blocked off. We got kind of lost in this neighborhood of celebrity houses and twisting streets. I felt like I was trying to drive my way out of a maze. When we passed a cadre of SWAT cops wearing full body armor, with big shotguns, face masks, and extra ammo strapped across their chests, I realized we really were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently there was a bank robbery near us and the bad guys had escaped into the neighborhood. But the funny thing about living in LA is that there is so much crime and drama on any given day that this didn't even make the nightly news, at least I don't thing so because I looked for it.

I've been driving a convertible rental car for a little over a week now. I rented it in order to be able to stay at Scott's for the few days when we were working on his album, and wound up keeping it because Anna thrashed the breaks on my car by driving with dos pies -- two feet. Beau loves it and so do I.

While we were driving home today -- going down this curving, steep, hilly street near my house -- Beau and I were screwing around, fighting over the crust of his Subway sandwich. He had let me have a bite and I had typically only eaten the cheese filling, out of the center of the bit he tore off for me, because I don't want to eat all of the bread. I put the left over crust back on the paper in his lap, because I couldn't hold it while driving. When Beau realized I'd put the piece of crust back on his lap he kiddingly handed it back to me, and we were laughing and trading it back and forth when I had the bright idea of surprising him by tossing it out of the car.

Believe me when I tell you that I am normally super mindful of the environment and am not a litterer, but this was a piece of bread, and we were passing this woodsy area where I know there are these cute little squirrels who skitter back and forth, kamikaze-like, in front of the oncoming cars. Here are the thoughts that went through my mind in that heartbeat before I tossed the bread out of the car, "Get rid of the bread -- make Beau laugh -- win the crust game -- this is not really trash -- feed the hungry squirrels." Then, when I heard the sudden, loud, and incessant, angry honking coming from the Range Rover behind me, I thought, "Uh oh, bad plan."

Great, now I was being followed by some crazy guy with control issues and a Don't-you-dare-litter-in-my-neighborhood-you-careless-interloper chip on his shoulder. He followed us down this dangerous, twisting street tailgating and honking the whole way. I refused to make eye-contact with him in my mirrors and he kept trying to swerve into the opposite lane in order to pull up next to me. When we got to the bottom of the hill I thought, "I'm not gonna let this guy intimidate me, I'll just outrun him," but just then, Jason -- our local, special-needs dog walker -- slowly ambled out in front of me at the stop, making this the perfect opportunity for Mr.-I'm-Gonna-Give-You-A-Piece-Of-My-Mind to pull up next to me.

So there we were in a convertible and there he was with his window rolled down glaring at me. Damnit if I wasn't forced to deal with the guy. What was I gonna do, roll up my window? He was so irrationally angry about this. The first thing he said was, "Do you live in this neighborhood?" Well, I was hardly going to say, "Why, yes I do. In fact I've lived here for eighteen years -- long before you, you overinflated housing market, stupid tract home buying idiot. I'm one of our friendly neighborhood block captains, have a newsletter," because who knows what kind of trouble this seriously unstable guy might try to make for me over this wee crust of bread so I just said, "Why are you acting like such a maniac? I have a child in this car and you're scaring us and driving dangerously?" To which he responded. "Well, I live in this neighborhood and you were littering! This is my neighborhood and I do not want you littering here!"

By this time I was so sick of this guy I just wanted to say, "Oh why don't you just Fuck off you uptight control freak," but I'm nicer than that, and who knows what he's dealing with in his life, so I just said something like, "Look, it was only a piece of bread and I was trying to feed the squirrels," but who in their right mind is going to understand or even believe something like that? I mean it's not like anyone knows that I'm the self appointed neighborhood squirrel saver, or that I'm so devoted to these little guys that I even feel a sense of responsibility for their bodies when they've died. No one knows that I take it upon myself to scoop their poor dead little bodies out of the middle of the street and place them gently on the side of the road because I can't bear to think of them being squished throughout the day by all of the many cars who won't even bother to swerve around them. Anyway, after listening to more than I could take from this guy, more, "Blah, blah, blah, my neighborhood," crap, I just peeled out and left him sitting there with his angry mouth hanging open.

Beau, who had been on the phone with our friend Phil, while all of this happened, wanted me to drive back to his street and burn rubber back and forth in front of his house. The boys thought this would be a pretty funny thing to do, especially considering I was driving a rental with no fault walk away insurance coverage. It took me some time to explain why doing something like this just wouldn't be the right thing to do, but I have to admit that in my secretly naughty irresponsible heart, the fantasy of reenacting some scene from The Fast and the Furious, in front of this guy's house, sure felt good for a moment or two.

As a woman, and as a long time homeowner, <i>in this neighborhood,</i> I just really hate it when some guy takes it upon himself to lecture me on my behavior. Ever since the price of these simple little houses skyrocketed up into the millions, there have been more and more people with attitudes moving in. I guess having to pay that kind of a mortgage makes a guy just that much more house proud and controlling about what goes on around him. We should probably have let a couple of those Rock Em Sock Em Robots battle it out for us. His would have a robe with I'm An Uptight Macho Asshole, and I Spent a Fortune To Live Here on the back of it, and mine would say something like Shaddup, It Was Just a Piece of Bread, and I Was Here First.

There will probably always be a big part of me that is a rebel at heart and can't bear anyone who tries to dominate or take authority over me. These kinds of interactions just always make me want to act out in wacky ways. I mean, I swear, even though I will usually respond in a reasonable, relatively-polite way to most people, there is still a big part of me that is super immature and would just like to whip up my top, flash the guy and drive off, or grab another piece of bread and toss it in his face while reciting the lyrics to some Michael Jackson song or something, you know, just to freak the guy out and push him that much closer to the edge of his approaching madness?

I saw a funny bumper sticker today. It said; I'm looking for a florist who can send two bushes to Iraq.

Oh God I have to pee...

Big bread tossing hugs,
Jacqui
XOXOX
Chalkboard

Birds Before a Storm, I-Pods, Airstream Trailers, Ana Voog and Scott


Watch the birdie.

I still don't feel well, (bladder infection, ouch), and I have a mountain of things to try to accomplish today, because we're having a sale at the antique mall where I have a case, but I just had to tell you about the birds in our neighborhood. It was so weird, like something that happens in a movie right before something apocalyptic happens; it seemed as if all of the birds in the world, definitely more birds than I have ever seen gathered in one place, were perched on the trees in front of our house. There were so many, they covered every branch and were making the most amazingly beautiful sounds. They were so loud that we could hear it here in our bedrooms at the back of the house, even with all of the windows closed.

As soon as Beau heard this he came running to get me, because having been raised in LA he knows enough about earthquakes to be alert for any pre-earthquake animal weirdness -- I mean anything to give yourself the extra few seconds it takes to put on your shoes and run. So naturally when the birds started behaving so strangely he got frightened and thought we were about to be visited by the Goddess of Shifting Tectonic Plates. I hadn't told him that we've been expecting a big rainstorm here, and he doesn't watch the news unless it's assigned to him for homework so he didn't know.

We went out on my balcony to watch and listen to them, and it was so beautiful and touching -- the way they were all twittering and singing together in this gorgeous loud chorus of birdsong. From the balcony over our library, at the back of my house, I have this terrific view over most of the other houses in the neighborhood, and we could see thousands of birds flying from one tree to another. They were all swirling around forming great big flocks and then separating, looking for shelter and calling out warnings to each other, all while making this beautiful diverse and constant stream of bird sounds. We both wished we had some kind of shelter to offer them and I wonder where they've all gone now that the storm has finally come.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that I finally gave in and bought an I-Pod and had a blast buying some of my favorite songs on I-Tunes. I just wish I could share them with you, I have to figure out how to do this...

Hurting hugs,
Jacqui

PS: I think they're buying and restoring, or redesigning, Airstream trailers on The Apprentice tonight. This has been one of my little dreams for a long time now. It's the main reason why I bought a big gas guzzling Ford, the second being the number of kids I had to take to and from school every day when Irma's four kids were living with us. You just can't do this in a Prius, although I have been trying to find a way to buy or lease one to use as our main car, then we could put the Ford up and use it only for hauling or traveling long distances.

I tried to get my Mom to watch this tonight, but she wasn't interested, she doesn't like reality shows. I want Mom to get into the idea of our buying an Airstream because she makes the decisions about my money and since she is kind of out of the loop, current culture wise, she doesn't understand most of the things that I'm interested in, and therefore can't get behind them. I want to buy an old Airstream and restore it because we would not only be able to save money by taking it with us to Burning Man every year, instead of renting one, but we would be able to use it for antique and collectible buying trips and for traveling. Argh, I just need to get off my ass and generate my own income without needing it to come from my inheritance. but first I need to clear up this weird bladder whatever-it-is...

PPS: I really like Ashlee Simspon, I think she's a sweetie-pie and I like her music and the way she sings. I like her dark hair and her personality, she has the greatest energy. What I don't like about her career rise has nothing to do with her -- it's just jealousy and upset -- anger that I feel towards the music industry.

For example, my guy, who is this genius singer songwriter, (and you wouldn't know this from the music he's got on his site right now because it just isn't a good enough representation of his work), has had to struggle for so many years to try to find the right people to get together with to produce an album that will capture what he hears in his head, and what I hear when he sings, and there's my dear friend Ana who is this incredibly talented singer/songwriter who IMHO should be working like crazy and isn't. These are two super gifted people who are just as deserving as anyone else, if not more so, and the fact that they aren't getting their work heard as much as so many of these pretty, pop music babies who are out there just because they're cute and have been packaged properly from the get go, just doesn't sit right with me.

And here's American Idol acting like it's big of them to have upped the maximum age limit of the singers on their show from twenty-six to TWENTY-EIGHT years young, big deal! Does this mean that Ana and Scott and me and everyone else over twenty-eight years old should just chuck all of their dreams? I sure hope not, but it does wear on me, and upset me, and make me sad and a little envious of people who have soooo much support from such an early age that they don't get all tangled up and distracted by the complications of living


Pretty, pretty birdies. I so miss having them, but I am not a good enough birdie mama, same goes for fish, sniff, sniff. We've got more than enough animal pals as it is without adding delicate sweet little birdies and fishies to the mix, darn it. I really miss them : ( God, I love animals, all animals, even bugs : )