Tuesday, August 31, 2004

My Side Commits Wuss-icide...

I knew it was coming. Today. It's a day I saw coming... well, weeks ago! I mean all you have to do is look at the calendar!!

But today's more than just a point on the calendar, it's about me pounding my head against my desk in the hopes of getting the blood out...

See, here's what happened - and I'll tell you as impartially as I can... and then I'll tell you why...

I knew that once I was engaged to be married, I'd have to sever any ties I had left with Rosa. Three ties remained: a joint checking account, joint life insurance, and a joint 24-hour fitness membership. Why joint? Two reasons: 1) We thought we'd always be friends. 2) She paid. You can guess which one I was interested in. She didn't have to pay anything for the checking account and I got that closed and opened a new one a couple of weeks ago. I paid for the 24-hour fitness membership from my checking account and, now that I have a new one, I need to look into taking Rosa off and moving the membership over to that new account.

The problem child was that life insurance policy. Rosa paid for that one, see, so I let that go on for a while. Hey, she owes me $10,000! Since she's not paying me back, I might as well get something! I'd looked into this once before. A year and a half ago, my agent had sent me the papers I needed to sign. Rosa had signed one already. The problem was, she hadn't signed the other. This meant I'd have to go see her and have her sign it.

This caused Vicky some distress and she wouldn't tell me why. She wouldn't give me so much as a clue. It could be anything within the range of her possible fear of signed papers all the way up to me having "goodbye sex" with Rosa after the papers were signed. Vicky wasn't talking. Meanwhile, I was doing my own distressing. After all, I hadn't been by that house in eight months and I hadn't seen Rosa in over a year. Now, I'd have to face my failure again, look right into the face of the woman who I had betrayed... no, let me try that again... look right into the face of the woman who I had once loved more than anyone in the world but had betrayed. And you know what that means? It means I'm capable of anything. When you get right down to it, love means nothing to me. I am unworthy of any trust. Anybody would be foolish to put any faith in me.

What I wanted more than anything was for Vicky to say, "Don't worry. I'll see you afterwards. It's okay. I love you." And what was she doing? She was playing, "I'm not going to tell you what I'm thinking."

Now, if you're guessing we fought, you'd be guessing well. Take that talent and go to Vegas! All night long, we snapped at each other and raised our voices. Oh yeah, I was feeling very secure about our relationship.

And what happened next? Not able to sleep, I poured over the documents - again and again - until I realized that she only had to sign in that one spot! I wouldn't need another signature! Any need for me to have to see her was gone!

Now, you'd think it would end there but, of course, it hasn't. This issue has created problems for us and then, it's job done, went away. How nice.

I got to work this morning and wanted to write about it. I wanted to write all about how I felt... but I couldn't. I couldn't think of what to say without feeling like I was violating Vicky privacy or sounding angry or creating resentment...

And that's when today became the day when I could no longer write about my relationship because this isn't just about me any more... it's about us.

Let's hope we can work this out. Let's hope I don't fuck things up again.

Then, I'll write about it.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Wedding Stress & War

Let's see.... over a year until the wedding and, already, I'm encountering Wedding Stress - that feeling where you've just had ENOUGH! ENOUGH! I don't care if the flower girl has pony tails or a bun! I don't care how many leafs the flowers have! I don't care what color the lining is in the tux - I just want to get married! By the time this happens, I'll just be glad to get it over with!

Vicky and I actually got into it today over more stupid wedding stuff! The thing causing us the most stress is our own wedding - and we have over a year to get through before it happens!!!!

So, there you go.

Now, here - look at these pictures and think of who you're going to vote for in November...

Dubious Porter

Of the many things I love - and those who know me know I tend towards the effusive - two of those things are Cole Porter and Bill Harris' blog Dubious Quality. I often sing Porter's music on walks (and, yes, pretend to tap dance) and read DQ (which, happily, are the same initials as Dairy Queen!!!) daily.

So, it was strange to see the two collide today. Vicky had just downloaded the soundtrack to the movie De-Lovely (thanks to Itunes!); I was ready to sop that up... and then I read Bill's review... and thought you should as well:

I like the music of Cole Porter. And I think Ashley Judd is a little volcano. So I went to De-Lovely with high hopes.

Among my hopes, there were no survivors.

This film is the cinematic equivalent of a man sitting in front of a mirror, combing his hair three hundred times. Consecutively.

Cole Porter was bisexual, and in a remarkable twist, the script was written by Jay Cocks. With the deft touch of a man carrying a giant boat anchor, he manages to capture the most annoying elements of both the straight world and the gay world. There are many people in this film, and you will hate them all. The only question is when.

In my case, about twelve minutes.

Every actor in this film gives the worst performance of their career. Many of them no longer have careers. From this moment forward, they will travel to auditions and be greeted with hissed cries of "Unclean!" Perhaps a charitable colony could be established for them, far away from cameras of any kind.

In the first hour I saw possibly the most annoying wooing scene in cinematic history, with both Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd performing with all the nuance of a game show host. As the scene ended, the screen darkened and only hoofbeats could be heard. I longed for a masked rider on horseback to burst onto the scene, brandishing a sword, and behead them both.

The second hour, as people die, offers a more hopeful note, but it is left unfulfilled, as people die neither quickly nor often enough.

Let me advise you strongly to buy a glass container of the kind often used to house fire extinguishers. Place in it a liter of gasoline and a pack of matches. If at any point in the future you think that you might want to see this film, break the glass, pour the gasoline on your clothing, and set yourself on fire.

You'll thank me.

The constant toll of sleepless nights...

Sunday morning, at 1:30am, I awoke. It wasn't that sudden leap to consciousness but, rather, the eyes that open seconds before you realize you're awake. That's the one to watch out for; when that happens, you know you'll be up for a while. So, I crept out of bed. Vicky didn't notice. As light a sleeper as she might be, I've become a lighter sneaker.

And, so, I snuck outside to finish off a box of cloves. Well, there was only one left. I sat out on the swing, lit it, took two big puffs and reclined back... right in view of the moon.

The moon... Those of you who've known me for a while probably remember what it is about the moon. Many years ago, it belonged to Rosa and I. Then, last Thanksgiving, I was able to face it again. Now, I'm looking down the road at a life with Vicky, a life I'm hoping lasts significantly longer than the last time I was married. Oh, make no doubt about it, divorce means death. I died when I lost Rosa and I had to make a new life for myself. As long as that took, I'm doing it again. No wonder they say that moving and marriage is so stressful; you're tearing down one life and building another.

I looked up at the moon. It was a big, fat moon, the kind of moon that you could pop with a pin and it would rain down moonbeams... a flood of 'em. But I didn't want to do that without Vicky there, so I kept my cig low, lest I pop it. I just sat there for a long time and gazed at that fat moon.

Soon, the clove was finished. I put it out and when inside to read, which I did for far too long and was tired all Sunday long.

As I've said to Vicky so many times, sleep and I have never been the best of friends. I don't doubt that I'll have sleepless nights as long as I live. Sometimes, that can be a real bitch. But there are times when I don't mind it, times when I can look over at Vicky and talk to her without her having to come back at me with her faux-Ken inquisitiveness, analysis, pain-in-the-assidness... when I can just tell her how I feel and not worry about her knowing. Because there's so much I don't want her to know... Right now, it's about my fears and my pain... but it goes back farther than that.

It seems my subconscious mind has been working for some time to get rid of those threads from my past life that I'm better rid of. I remember debating for years - literally, years - how to get rid of my wedding ring from my first marriage. For years, it sat in my top dresser drawer as I wondered if I should take the practical route (pawn it) or symbolic route (throw it into the ocean). Then, one morning, it was gone. It had been removed, gotten rid of, and all I can figure is that I did it in my sleep.

And so it was last week when I was packing my memories of Ken & Rosa, of the years between 1985 and 2000, into a box, that I found more evidence of my walking sleep. I'd stripped the memories down bare, throwing away about 90% of what I'd saved. Before I finished, though, I would take one more thing out and put one more thing in.

The thing I was taking out was a wooden sign, a plank about three feet long. It read "Ken & Rosa's Place" and I'd had it made especially as a house-warming gift for Rosa when we'd moved into our home. She hated it. It had never been hung outside as I would have liked. But I held on to it, hoping it would be one day. After the marriage was over, I held on to it, hoping that one day I'd return home. It took me four years to realize that place was no longer my home. Then, I held on to the sign as a memory. But now, I don't even want it for that and I can't help but think how well it will burn next weekend, when I visit Tim down in San Diego and we contribute it to someone's bonfire. (Something will be committed to the ocean, even if it's not my ring!)

The thing I was going to put in the box was the video of the day I wed Rosa. It showed that tiny wedding like a jewelry loop shows tiny imperfections amidst grand beauty. And Rosa was beautiful that day, even as you could see the germs of her distance that would lead to our demise. It showed me so nervous, I couldn't stop talking to the camera. Imagine that! Me, Ken, going on and on and on and on... believe me, it really happened! It caught my dad, after the service in the tiny, little church, whipping out his checkbook to pay the organist. It showed me just how young my brothers, Dwight and Richard were. Our only guests, my friends Sean and Rob, appeared here and there. It was the beginning of a road that brought me injury after injury both physical and emotional... there was no way to know, then... And so, I went to pack the videos, for I had two copies, and... you know what? They were gone!

I looked everywhere in my apartment, everywhere you could cram a tape, but - nothing! Again, it seemed, I had walked in the night and done something I could never do awake. Somehow, I knew in my sleep that those should remain memories only to those who'd been there. It was the recording of the dead. Best they remain dead.

And so it goes...

Mind you, in two weeks, when I begin moving, you never know what might happen when I pull out my sofa or pull a bookcase from against a wall. What will I do if I find the treasures of my sleeping walks lying there?

I guess I'll plan another trip to the beach.


Okay, before we get to today's My Side... other than this one... can I just say I hate - HATE - Mercury Insurance? I just spend an hour on the phone with these people, asking them to send me my bill! I've never had to spend so much time arguing so I can give away my money! Ghhaaaa!

Okay, you people out of state might not have to worry about this. But, if you do, AVOID Mercury Insurance. If there's any sign of Satan on this planet, it's Mercury Insurance! Mercury Insurance is run by GREMLINS ON CRACK!

... okay... I feel better now.

By the way, just so you know, they're going to mail me a bill in one week - nearly a month late - but they'll waive the late fee as long as I can get the bill back to them before the 14th... you know.... cause they ain't gonna put up with that shit.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Just a short snore...

"My name is Ken... and I'm a snorer."

"Hi, Ken."

Yes, that's right. I snore. Now the weird thing is, I never did before. Nobody I've slept with or near has complained about my snoring or told me I snore - I've even asked! But now, for some strange reason, when I'm with Vicky, I snore!

How could this be? How can it just start up? Age? Weight? Not smoking enough? I don't know!

But I'm going to look into it - get a tracheotomy - something!

So, if any of you out there snore, or love someone who does (in case we get on Jerry), let me know how you overcome it, fix it... kill it!

Meanwhile.... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Step up... and feel the geekness pull you in...

Have you heard about the latest Godzilla film being made in Japan? Well, it's not just the latest, it's supposed to be THE LAST!

Godzilla: Final Wars!

Now, I don't usually whip out my geek for everyone to see but this is one time I just have to. It's being reported today on Ain't It Cool News that this final film will feature: ...Gigan, Rodan, Minya, Mothra, Kamacuras, Kumonga, Manda, Ebirah, Anguirus, King Caesar, Hedorah the Smog Monster, and the mysterious new (or is he?) "Monster X"...

Not enough geek-pie for you? Well, there's much, much more (and you're going to dispute this because it's just one thing but, trust me, it warrants two muches). According to this article, the new movie will feature the old-style Man-In-Suit Godzilla battling (and beating the crap out of) Roland Emmerich's CGI Godzilla from the American 90's film.

Good lord, could it be true???

If so, I gotta see it, baby! The new flick is supposed to open in the states by the end of the year. Any takers???? (Vicky had no idea what she was in for...)

Don't ever say I didn't give you anything...

Those of you who know me well, or those of you who've had the experience of driving long distances with me, know that I am a great fan of Garrison Keillor. I have most of his cds (working on a complete collection) and listen to them and his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion, quite often while I drive. Garrison's work is filled with idea of common decency, brotherhood, and a passionate embrace for the journey we are all on. He inspires me to do better in my work and my life.

So, basically, I like him.

Garrison is democrat from way back. He's the kind of democrat I was when I was a democrat. He's not a new democrat, a Republocrat - he's one of the good guys. I guess it's been the rise of the Republocrats that drove him to write his first book on political theory, Homegrown Democrat. It's a book I will be picking up... you know, if nobody... no female somebody... no female fiancée somebody... buys it for me (or buys me the book on CD!!!!). It's a book I highly encourage you to buy if you're at all politically minded or would like to consider your political beliefs rather than simply take them for granted.

As the book cover says:

In a book that is at once deeply personal and intellectually savvy, "Homegrown Democrat" is a celebration of liberalism as the "politics of kindness." In his inimitable style, Keillor draws on a lifetime of experience amongst the hardworking, God-fearing people of the Midwest and pays homage to the common code of civic necessities that arose from the left:

Protect the social compact.

Defend the powerless.

Maintain government as a necessary force for good.

Now, if you don't have the time or money right now to buy it, I fully understand. And that's why, I'd like to turn you on to Garrison's site where he has posted the first four chapters for you to read FOR FREE(!!!).

See... reading My Side pays off sometimes! ;-)

To have a birthday - you must be BORN!!!

Okay, that's it!

Can we agree on something, folks? Can we agree on one simple, fucking thing?! Can we agree that birthdays are only given to things that have experienced BIRTH??? Because if we can't agree on that, I don't see how we stand a chance in hell.

I'm sick and tired of hearing about Mickey Mouse's birthday, Bugs Bunny's birthday, and now I have to hear about the banana split's fucking birthday!!!! Look! Unless some insensate woman out there passed a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a scoop of chocolate ice cream, a scoop of strawberry ice cream, some hot fudge, whipped cream, nuts, a frozen banana, and a fucking marichino cherry through her vagina 100 years ago - it's not the FUCKING BIRTHDAY! At best - AT BEST it's an anniversary!

Can we agree on that????

(pant. pant.)

Okay... I'm done... for now...

Weddings from Heaven...

After all those terrible dreams last year, I thought I'd regale you with a particularly nice one from last night. Maybe I had it because Vicky and I have been looking into places to have our wedding and maybe I had it because I've been watching the Steve Martin film, Pennies from Heaven (an absolutely horrible film for many reasons but mostly because they wimped out on the ending) - but, anyway, here it is...

Vicky and I are at our reception, and it's time for our dance. We walk out into the middle of this immense dance floor in this huge ballroom, the kind where the acoustics make your voice echo, and I say, "As many of you know, it's been a while since I've been on stage. In fact, you're the biggest audience I've had in a year." I pause, look reflective, for just a minute. "So, with that in mind... Vicky?"

She says, "Let's go."

A hundred lights shoot on. The floor glitters. I look out at the (audience?) and say, almost quietly, "A long time ago... A million years BC... The best things in life were absolutely free... But no one appreciated a sky that was always blue. And no one congratulated a moon that was always new. So it was planned that they would vanish now and them... And you must pay before you get them back again... That's what storms were made for... And you shouldn't be afraid... for," and I started to sing, "Every time it rains it rains pennies from heaven. Don't you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven." At this point, the back wall raised up, behind which a huge band played, leading with the strings. "You'll find your fortune falling all over town. Be sure that your umbrella is upside down. Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers. If you want the things you love you must have showers. So when you hear it thunder, don't run under a tree. There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me."

Next, there's a horn flourish, and Vicky and I slowly begin to tap dance, which leads into this big dance number where Vicky and I trade off parts and then, she sings, "Every time it rains it rains pennies from heaven. Don't you know each cloud contains pennies from heaven. You'll find your fortune falling all over town. Be sure that your umbrella is upside down. Trade them for a package of sunshine and flowers. If you want the things you love you must have showers. So when you hear it thunder, don't run under a tree. There'll be pennies from heaven for you and me."

Her last lines are sung softly and quietly and we move into each other's arms, the lights dim to a single spot, and I could hear other people there for the first time.

I woke up to that and felt really good.

... I wonder if Vicky wants to spend the next year taking tap lessons...

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Gotta love Cuba...

Don't you just love it when the underdog wins? Cuba, the nation we Americans have been keeping impoverished because we don't approve of their economic system, the nation we've been keeping oppressed for nearly 40 years, whooped our butts at baseball today.

You remember baseball. America's "national sport"?

I love to see the little guy win!

The Ethics of Theater-Hopping...

Theater-Hopping: To go see another film at the same theater once yours is done, without paying, thereby seeing multiple movies for the price of one!

I asked Vicky once if she theater-hops. She replied, emphatically, "No."

"Why not," I asked.

"It's not right," she said. "Taking something without paying for it is stealing." And she was right.

Face it. As much as you might like to theater-hop, as much as I might like to theater-hop, she's right! Theater-hopping is stealing.

That's the bitch about being ethical; you can also be a real drag.

But I can tell you, Vicky and I won't be doing it. It's nice to be with someone who makes me want to be a better person. Underneath that libertarian veneer, beats the heart of a Buddhist - she just doesn't know it, yet.

So, a month ago, I joined Audible.com. I picked up The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell and Monster in a Box by Spalding Gray. And, oh man, I loved them! I was hooked! Audible was the thing for me! But, see, I'd joined through a discount my work offers - one month's free membership.

Now, after using my month, I could join again, using a different email address. I could generate new email addresses every month and get a month free (which is two books free, by the way). I could do this for years, getting book after book, for free!!

But I won't. I won't because Vicky is right. Just because you find a loophole around paying, doesn't mean you shouldn't pay, doesn't mean it's okay to steal. I am so split because part of me thinks my company still pays for the free month but another part of me is trying to face this temptation in the face and not let my ethics wither.

But I'm going to pay for my next month. I'll pay the $20, so I can get this and this, saving $60. Okay, so I don't get it all for free, but I do get a clear conscience.

Ethics are a real pain in the ass. I'm glad I have Vicky to help me along.

Throwing back the ones you don't want...

The idea behind this My Side is that, when you fish, sometimes you toss back ones that are too small or (in this day and age) covered in tumors - throwing back the ones you don't want...

And, so, Vicky and I went house hunting on Sunday. It was my idea to have Vicky come along. After all, she's my fiancée now and she'll be sharing my life. Who better to come along? I didn't realize the problems that would create.

Oh, they were problems I had to get through. Sometimes problems don't go away until you square off face to face... you know... like cleaning the toilet. You NEED to do it!

The first place Vicky and I went to was in Anaheim, near Magnolia and Katella. Set off from the street, where the houses look... serviceable, this complex looked like a breeding ground. For what? Bugs. Rats. Drug dealers. Gang members. Basically, vermin. I didn't like it. But we'd come all this way and Cathy, my realtor, was on her way to meet us. So, we stayed.

We stood out there in the sun, arm in arm. As we stood out there, though, this thought - more a compulsion than a thought, actually - tried to work its way into the back of my head. Rosa's gonna come by. Rosa's gonna come by and catch you. You should be buying this with her and you're cheating on her and she's gonna come by and she's gonna catch you!

No, I kept reminding myself. Rosa and I are divorced. She's long gone. I don't even love her any more. This home will be for Vicky and me. This is my new life and I am happy in it. Leave me alone!

Finally, Cathy showed up. We looked at the home and, just as we'd assumed from outside, it was a junker. It wasn't just a fixer-upper; it was a thrower-upper! But another home was available in the same complex - and that one was... it was one rung lower than "has potential". The owners/occupants/whatever had put up fake walls (what could only be described as drywall braced together) to create a third bedroom. They'd also laid this ceramic tile that, while on first look was decent, became very annoying due it its high gloss and gaudy etching. Still, it was a place I could live in if I needed to - and I'd been looking for months - I was getting to the point where I'd take almost anything. (Not the first place, mind you!) I even said, as we stood outside afterwards, "Well, maybe we should put in an offer if they'll..." Drop the price? Fix it up? Fire bomb it????

Cathy and Vicky, though, thought we should move on. They could probably hear my lack of enthusiasm, anyway.

The next condo complex was off the 57 freeway, between La Palma and Lincoln. As we drove up La Palma, I remembered the last time I'd been house hunting and had driven up La Palma. I was with Rosa, of course. We went from house to house, plotting our future, fitting it into the structure or, at least, seeing if it would fit. Trying on our possible futures like pants.

We could move in here and have kids.

We could move in here and have pets and a pool room.

We could move in here and I could make you work your ass off until I was through with you and pushed you away until you felt it necessary to be unfaithful and then you'd be haunted by that for the rest of your life.

Can you guess which one we picked?

My chest was tight driving up that road. I almost told Vicky, "Let's not look any more today," afraid of what possible futures I might find this time. After all, that's what Vicky is - that's what every day of our life is - a possible future. She could be wonderful. She could be mean. She could be unfaithful. She could be kind. I've taken every fear I have about relationships that Rosa was kind enough to put a bow on and dressed Vicky in them.

I was talking to Steve the other day, who'd been so disinterested in my life this past year that he never knew I had a girlfriend, let alone a fiancée. When he finally asked and I finally told him (I only force the details of my life upon my readers), he said, "I don't want to open old wounds, but you're finally over... that?" "What," I asked him. "That person?" "Do you mean... Rosa?" He paused. "Yes," he replied. "I don't want to be with her, if that's what you mean."

I've only begun to realize that even the love of someone like Vicky isn't enough to heal those wounds entirely. I've been asked by so many if I would be tempted to get back together with Rosa and the answer is easily summed up with "No". (Sometimes, I throw in the prefix "Hell".) But I never say what does hold its temptation. What is tempting to me is to remain alone, be miserable, and embrace the torture that I feel I so richly deserve.

And it continues to follow me. I awoke from a nightmare the other night, one I thankfully cannot remember, and didn't sleep for much of the night after that. I was laying on Vicky's bed the other day, taking a nap as she worked on her PC, when I heard a voice. It said, Kenneth?, and I sat up. It was Rosa's voice. She used to always call me Kenneth. I asked Vicky, "Did you just say my name?" Of course, her reply was, "No." I went out and had a cigarette.

The next complex was a petite slice of heaven. Three condos, all beautiful, were also all priced just a bit out of my range. But after looking at them, Vicky and I decided we wanted to put in an offer on one we felt was just wonderful. We really liked it. It was like home.

We talked about it later that day and told Cathy.

On Monday morning, I received a call from the bank. The woman who had pre-approved my loan had left the bank. I'm guessing the circumstances weren't ideal because she deleted all her computer files and took her paper files with her. Nothing of my loan was left and I had to apply again. So, for 15 minutes, the loan guy, Gary, and I played 20 questions - mortgage style! He got back to me later and said, "Well, we might be able to swing this with an adjustable rate and a second..." and your first born male child and your eternal soul... I didn't want to have an adjustable rate, and certainly not a second!

That night, Vicky and I talked. We talked about the wedding and how much that would cost. We talked about our bills. We didn't talk about the honeymoon but I thought about how much that would cost. We also talked about the state of the market and how it's beginning to soften. Prices are dropping. There are more houses out there, more competition. Things are changing.

And, so, we threw it back. We didn't make the offer. We're waiting.

It was a taste of what will be... just not now. Still, it was a big enough taste to make me realize that all is not settled inside of me. Under the surface, things are still stirred up. Rosa and I have only two things that still tie us together. The first is our life insurance policy, which is still joint and which I still let her pay because, after all, she owes me $10,000. The second is our joint membership to 24-hour Fitness Center, which I pay because I feel guilty about Rosa paying for the life insurance. (You may now laugh.) I've started the paperwork to split the life insurance and, once that is done, I'll remove Rosa from my 24-hour membership. The fun part will be bringing Rosa the life insurance papers to sign. I'll probably need to get drunk shortly after seeing her... Tim.

Then, we'll finally be split... after over four years...

And I'll move out of my apartment soon, so I'll have a place to start new memories with Vicky.

Slowly, I'm settling things.

Slowly, I'm throwing back the ones I don't want...

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

I write - people read... huh?...

I got an email from Stephanie today about the apartment situation. I wrote her back, wondering how she found out.

How? By reading My Side!!

Okay, I was surprised. People actually read this shit? You have nothing better to do with your day?

Well, color me a light red. I is a'blushing.

Sadly, not much time to write today. I'm actually working - surprise, surprise!

Sometime this week, though, I've got to catch you up on the latest tale of neurosis and house hunting. Until then, thanks for reading.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Semantic absurdity...

When we talk about "semantics", we're talking about how something is said, the words a person uses to convey an idea.

That said, today I witnessed the most semantically absurd statements of my life.

There's this article on IMDB about Trey Parker and Matt Stone's new movie, Team America: World Police. The article goes on to say that the movie "features graphic scenes of puppets having sex".

RED FLAG! RED FLAG! Follow me on this, folks. Puppets CAN NOT HAVE SEX! It is physically impossible. Puppets do not have sexual organs. Puppets cannot procreate like human beings, or any mammal for that matter. PUPPETS CANNOT HAVE SEX.

Puppets can APPEAR as though they're having sex. Puppets can SIMULATE sex. But puppets CAN NOT HAVE SEX!

But the article does not end there. Oh no. Then, it states that as a result the movie has been given an "adult rating". I suppose we can infer that graphic puppet sex is immoral and puppets should just stop such goings on!

Did aliens come and take everybody's brain and not tell me about it???

Another reason why I hate being a writer...

So, we have this product at work... and the engineer insists that, for best performance, the antenna should be pointing in a certain direction... he says it should point "at a 90 degree angle away from the earth's axis".

"Oh," I said. "Straight up."

"No. At a 90 degree angle from the earth's axis."

"Right. Straight up."

"No," he says, getting quite perturbed. "Straight up can be any direction. This needs to point at a 90 degree angle away from the earth's axis."

"Actually, straight up is straight up. No matter where you are, it's straight up. Most people don't know anything about angles. Most people can't balance their checkbook."

"No. No," he says. "That's too confusing."

So, there you are. "Straight up" is too confusing. If I were you, I'd stay away from that term.

You know you love someone when you talk about your poop...

So, we went to Murata's... and I ate a bunch of food I ain't never done eat before...

And then, last night, I discovered a very interesting thing happening... a very interesting poop-ular, poop-y, poop-ish, um, thing...

And I told Vicky about it in far more detail than I should have...

If that's not love, I don't know what is!!!!

The story about when Ken asked Vicky to marry him...

Things have a very "Ken" way of happening in my life. Anyone who's known me for a goodly amount of time know this; things are just a bit... different when they happen to me. Like the time I went to the Grand Canyon to kill myself and stopped at the entrance to take pictures after driving through a typhoon. Or the time I hitchhiked out to apologize to Rob... when he was in school in Claremont. Or my entire marriage to Rosa. Things are just a bit different; they are very "Ken".

And so it was on Saturday, when Vicky and I drove out to Lancaster to visit her family. Now, I knew what was going to happen; I'd been planning it for weeks! Oh, sure. I hadn't been planning exactly this but other opportunities kept slipping away and I wanted it to be perfect. I have this thing about making things perfect - or as close as I can get - probably because I didn't when I was with Rosa. Look, she and I eloped, my proposal was informal (non-chalant), and I was stand-offish with her family. Not only does Vicky deserve more, I refuse to do any less than my best this time around! So... perfect. Perfection is tough. What is perfect? Well, in this case, it couldn't be too big and it couldn't been too little.

Once I figured it out, I ran around getting everything ready. I bought the champagne. I got the ring. (Vicky and I had picked it out together.) I even made sure her dad knew. I wanted him to be in on it - as I told someone, "The best way to make someone your friend is to let them in on a secret." (This probably won't work if they're holding a gun to your head.) But, when I told him, he said, "Well, that's very nice of you but you don't have to ask for our approval. Vicky's smart and you seem like a nice guy. So, of course, you have our blessings."

... I just went with it.

Saturday morning started as most of our days do. ("Our days" because Vicky will start seeing more "Ken" days now.) I woke up at 7am, drove home, got ready, and drove back to Vicky's. My cats muttered, "Who was that masked man," as I left.

The drive to Lancaster took us out, on the Angeles Crest Highway (SR2), to Billie's house. (Billie is one of Vicky's best friends.) As we drove there, I felt myself slip into "hiker's mode". I started telling Vicky about the hikes I'd gone on and the camping I love to do and how I'd love to do more. She said, "You'll never get me out there." What? Excuse me? I told her how I'd do her "parking lot camping" (which is the misnomer so many people think of as "roughing it"). I told her how I've done things for her that I don't like... as we drove in her SUV... But she kept refusing, saying, "I'd hate it. My back would hurt. I can't do that." On and on. A friend of hers, upon hearing about how my marriage with Rosa had ended, had recently referred to me as a "doormat"... well, things were beginning to feel very familiar. And I just stopped talking. I was getting nowhere but downhill and nothing but a headache.

And I had an engagement ring in my pocket.

But we arrived at Billie's and put on our happy faces for her benefit. Billie is a cop and to say she was suspicious (of any man being good enough for Vicky) would be a bit of an understatement. This visit was what several people had already referred to as "the interview". She quizzed me on everything from the subjects of my books to what I wanted to be when I grew up... when I was five! In the end, I guess I did all right... and her dog, Chleo (not Chloe, but Chleo... or Cleo... or Kleo... anyway...), who barks at everyone, didn't bark at me. I checked out. I was clean.

We got back in the car and started talking. By the time we were in Lancaster, I thought we had worked things out.

But then, she made a remark at my expense and I was mad again. Twice in the same day, I thought, "And I'm going to ask her to marry me???"

And so the day went, fighting, visiting family, making up, fighting, visiting family, making up...
And the time for popping corks and questions was slowly approaching...

Towards mid-afternoon, we visited her grandfather. Her uncle and aunt live just across the way, an old biker and a Skandinavian ex-nurse... sitting with all four of them was like a "Ken" day all its own! As most old people do, he started pulling out pictures from his last trip. I did what any reasonable person would do, I lapsed into a coma. Vicky thought my sudden exhaustion must have been because of the long day but, no, it was the pictures. Those boring, boring pictures. I didn't take much to wake me, though. Her aunt said, "Oh, you're going to the restaurant? (The Restaurant being Murata's, her mom's restaurant.) We'd love to go with you." and I awoke in a panic. No! No! We were supposed to be alone! All alone! "Sure. That'd be nice," Vicky replied.
Great. Now, not only did I have to deal with proposing to a woman who I'd spent the whole day fighting with but I'd have to do it in front of her elderly relatives... did anyone mention "perfect"?

But first, we had to visit her grandmother in the convalescent hospital. Oh joy. Look, let me tell you, I hate these places. My grandmother was shuttled from one to another for the last 15-20 years of her life. They reek of death and sadness and aren't filled with bounties for the other five senses, either! Vicky and I got there ahead of her grandfather, aunt, and uncle. Her grandmother had broken her hip and it was clear that she was too old to ever recover. I wondered, looking at her, which would be better, spending the last few years she had in delusion or knowing the truth? Should I just tell her. "Look, you're never going to walk around again. You're never going to dance. You're never going to feel vital or young. Your whole life is behind you and you're probably going to die here." As I was thinking this, she was telling Vicky about how, in rehab, she had walked three feet. What a horrible place to be, waiting in line for death. And, as I thought this, my stomach began to turn. I had been hungry before... but in this place... And then, her family arrived, and the attendant brought in chairs. (It would be an insult to nurses to call this woman a nurse.) Vicky's grandfather sat in close to his wife. It was obvious that he loved her. Only a few minutes before, she had said to me, "I want you to know, we approve of you." And here I was, having my doubts if I approved.

And as we left, her aunt said, "We'll see you at the restaurant!" Great.

So, it was clear that my first job at the restaurant would be to get us a secluded table, a small table, a table where future in-laws could not sit. I picked out a two-seater... and now I had to figure out what to do about Vicky.

We started talking - but then the food started to come out. Her mom dashed wave after wave of appetizers onto our table - everything from sushi to salad to soup to.... weird things.... It made it rather hard to talk, though we tried.

Then, her family arrived. I scanned the restaurant. The only empty table was the four-seater beside us. "Let's move this one over to yours," her uncle said and, voila, I was sitting at a six-seater.

Now, lesser men would have given up at this point. Lesser men would have recouped and assembled his resources to fight another day. Lesser men would have been smart enough to admit defeat.

But I am not lesser men!

Then, the main course came out: salmon. Thankfully enough, for our bursting bellies, we split it between us. And then, we had dessert.

... and then we waited. Vicky didn't know what we were waiting for but I did.

We were waiting for two things... and I didn't know which one would happen first. I knew which one I was hoping would happen first. I was hoping her family would leave. There was also something else. I had purchased a bottle of 1995 Dom Perignon champagne and put it, along with a bucket, flutes, and ice, inside of a cooler in the back of Vicky's car. Vicky's dad, who was working at the restaurant that night, had gone out and brought it into the back of the restaurant. At some point, someone was going to bring out the champagne and I was going to propose.

Which would happen first???

At about the time I was thinking this, Vicky's uncle, John, had got his main course and was offering me a bite of his steak. I ate it quickly, hoping he would do the same.

And we waited.

They got their dessert.

And we waited.

Vicky and I couldn't talk about our quarrels... or, at least, I wouldn't because her family was right there.

So, we waited.

Then, they left.

I excused myself, walked to the waiter, and said, "So, did Steve tell you about the surprise?" I might as well have said, "The sparrow reads Variety in winter." for all the good it did me. He looked at me like I'd just proposed to him and said, "Uh, no." I wanted to slap my head.

But then, Steve gave me the signal and I walked around to Vicky's side of the table.

I guess she thought I was going to talk to her about our quarrels... and I probably should have... but something had occurred to me. You can spend your life dissecting things. You can die trying to understand why someone said something hurtful. You can spend years posing argument after argument. You really can. And I've been pretty good at it.

But, right now, I just wanted to ask the woman I loved to marry me.

So, I got on one knee and told her how much I loved her. I told her how much, in only two months, she'd come to mean to me. I told her how she already made me more contented and comfortable than Rosa did after 15 years.

Then, her dad brought out the champagne.

It was around this time when Vicky started to get the idea that something very different was going on.

I told her I would always try to make her happy and I knew that she'd do the same and, as I slipped her engagement ring onto her hand, I said, "Vicky Mari Pearson, will you be my wife?"
And she said, "Yes!"

And we kissed more than people normally do in Japanese restaurants. We kissed enough to make people uncomfortable. I kind of liked that.

We stayed for a while longer. After all, we'd had a busy day.

Love is good for anything that ails you...

There's this old song, Love is Good for Anything that Ails You... which is just right for my present mood. But the original version played it a little safe, so I thought I'd pep it up a bit...

Love is good for anything that ails you
even when a psychopath assails you
or those strange days, when a cabbie hails you
Love is good for anything that ails you

Love is good for anything that ails you
like when Vlad come in and then impales you
or, after a jog, your pacemaker fails you
Love is good for anything that ails you

Love is good for anything that ails you
such as when a mad postman mails you
or a conductor (with issues) derails you
Love is good for anything that ails you

... I should stop now...

Friday, August 20, 2004

The person next to you may be an idiot...

Minutes after finishing the last My Side, I clicked over to Yahoo and found this article.

It starts:

More than half of Americans, 54 percent, continue to believe Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or a program to develop them before the United States invaded last year, according to a poll released Friday.

It goes on to read:

Half believe Iraq was either closely linked with al-Qaida before the war (35 percent) or was directly involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on this country (15 percent).

So... that's half... one out of every two...

Now, we KNOW you aren't dumb enough to believe such lies.... right?

So, the person next to you.....................

To a delux apartment in the sky-y-y...

There was a plan... it was a well thought out plan... it was a plan that would have worked... for the first time in four years, with the exception of the time I went to the Grand Canyon, there was a plan.

Then, two months ago today, there was a kiss. Those of you who know about my life know that my life often turns on a kiss. Need an example? Look at how my marriage ended. That was the kiss of death. But two months ago today, I was given the kiss of life.

Mind you, it totally screwed up my plan. The plan was to be alone, to be miserable. It was a plan I could live with; a plan I could count on. You can really get your hands around misery. It's solid. It's stable. It's always there for you. Happiness comes and goes but misery puts down roots!

I turned my back on misery that night. You might say I betrayed misery. I betrayed the plan.

And I've never been happier.

I didn't know too much two months ago today but I knew that I had to see Vicky again. I knew I wanted to get to know her. So, I did. I saw her again, and again, and again. And the more I got to know her, the more I wanted to continue knowing her.

And now, I am sick of it.

I'm sick of waiting to see her again. I'm sick of waiting to be with her.

So, to hell with the plan. The plan was to buy a condo/townhouse (even a home if I could get so lucky) alone and live alone and be alone with my friends: booze, smokes, and misery.

Who needs them when you got Vicky?

I don't want to be alone. I want to be with her.

And so it is that today, two months to the day when we first met, that I can announce that Vicky and I will be moving in together next month. We're getting a two bedroom apartment for the time being and looking for a home (condo/townhouse - even a home if we could get so lucky!) together. We'll have four cats and a dog and each other.

Sounds like a plan!

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Every little bit...

From the very first My Side Vicky read, I was expecting to offend her. But through dreams and drunken ramblings, I seemed to be walking a golden path.

This ended today, with what Vicky called the one about snot. (Paraphrasing.)

I figured I'd better get something else out there, lest she stop reading my words, thinking they're all about snot, snot, snot. (Is too! Is too! Is too!)

... I figured it should be something good.

So, here you go. I came across this great poem the other day, this wonderful creed for all optimists, even the most skeptical of us. Remember it for the next time someone laughs at you when you pick up trash, drive an economy car, or try to behave decently, for when they claim your actions of faith are pointless.

Do not take lightly small, good deeds,
Believing they can hardly help.
For drops of water, one by one,
In time can fill a giant pot.

- Patrul Rinpoche

Snot. (Is too!)

Okay. So, there haven't been a whole lot of My Sides this week, not a whole lot of MySiding going on... as it were... though it wasn't...

Where was I?

Oh, right. I've been sick.

I've been ill.

I've been in the very lucrative, though poorly paid, "Snot Production and Distribution Industry". And, folks, let me tell you, I've been BUSY!

This is not to say that I haven't had some very "Ken-like" things going on, things happening in a very "Ken-ish" fashion, a whole lot of "Ken-ian" occurrences... oh, on the contrary!

Monday was the auditions for "Laura" at the Huntington Beach Playhouse. I'd originally become interested in this play because Terri, my director from "Something to Hide", was going to direct. In addition, the part she had me in mind for was the good guy! What a great opportunity to work with Terri again and play the good guy for once in my miserable life!

Then, Terri dropped out and was replaced by one of our local playwrights, i.e.. the competition. Did I want to audition for one of my fellow playwrights, someone who, in all likelihood, knew I was far more talented than she'd ever be on this little sandlot we call a planet?

Of course, I did!

Then, as you know, I got sick.

But would I let that stop me from auditioning? Would I let that steal a chance of finally playing the good guy on stage? Of finally breaking this 38 year trend of playing bad guys and comic relief? Of finally breaking decades of typecasting? I nearly did. I spend Monday in bed with a fever and a hyperactive set of sinuses. (I nearly wrote "snot gland" but figured I'd have a hard time getting you to believe that, while most people don't have one, I have the most active snot glad in creation.) But, with auditions starting at 7pm, I headed out at 6:45 with my headshot in hand (and kleenexes in pocket). As much as I like to downplay my love of the craft, this is real dedication. To go to an audition sick, to act the part of a non-sick person who isn't you - that's dedication to your craft!

We'll take a jump-cut at this point and I'll let you know I sucked. I sucked hard. I sucked strong. I inhaled DEEPLY! I'm totally comfortable with the fact that I sucked because, honestly, when you're sweating from a fever and you can't hear yourself talk and you're coughing up gobs of (see the heading), you're just gonna suck. There's no way around it. But I'm glad I did it anyway.

Life is very often just about stepping up to the plate. You don't always have to hit it out of the park.

As I walked out, I noticed that my shirt was soaked through.

I'm on the mend, back at work.

One more thing. Vicky has been great to me through this. I've been kind of "hands-off", wanted to take care of myself, but she's called me often to show she cares and loves me. She's great. I love her very much. And now that I'm starting to feel better, I can show her.

But first, I have to go blow my nose.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Schedule for the Repugnican Convention...

With the Repugnican convention coming up, I thought I'd let you know what was on the plate (thanks to Moby.com):


6:00 PM - Opening Prayer led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell

6:30 PM - Pledge of Allegiance

6:35 PM - Ceremonial Burning of Bill of Rights (excluding 2nd Amendment)

6:45 PM - Salute to the Coalition of the Willing (including military giants guam and papua new guinea)

6:46 PM - Seminar #1: Katherine Harris on "Are Elections Really Necessary?"

7:30 PM - Announcement: Lincoln Memorial Renamed for Ronald Reagan

7:35 PM - Trent Lott - "Re segregation in the 21st Century"

7:40 PM - EPA Address #1: Mercury: It's What's for Dinner

8:00 PM - Vote on which country to invade next

8:10 PM - Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh

8:15 PM - John Ashcroft Lecture: The Homos Are After Your Children

8:30 PM - Round table discussion on reproductive rights (men only)

8:50 PM - Seminar #2: Corporations: The Government of the Future

9:00 PM - Condi Rice sings "Can't Help Lovin' That Man"; accompanies self on piano

9:05 PM - Phyllis Schlafly speaks on "Why Women Shouldn't Be Leaders"

9:10 PM - EPA Address #2: Trees: The Real Cause of Forest Fires

9:30 PM - break for secret meetings

10:00 PM - Second Prayer led by Cal Thomas

10:15 PM - Carl Rove Lecture: Doublespeak Made Simple

10:30 PM - Rumsfeld Lecture/Demonstration: How to Squint and Talk Macho Even When You Feel Squishy Inside

10:35 PM - Bush demonstration of trademark "deer in headlights" stare

10:40 PM - John Ashcroft Demonstration: New Mandatory Kevlar Chastity Belt

10:45 PM - GOP's Tribute to Tokenism, featuring Colin Powell & Condi Rice

10:46 PM - Ann Coulter's Tribute to "Joe McCarthy, American Patriot"

10:50 PM - Seminar #3: Education: A Drain on Our Nation's Economy

11:10 PM - Hilary Clinton Pinata

11:20 PM - John Ashcroft Lecture: Evolutionists: A Dangerous New Cult

11:30 PM - Call EMTs to revive Rush Limbaugh again

11:35 PM - Blame Clinton

11:40 PM - Newt Gingrich speaks on "The Sanctity of Marriage"

11:41 PM - Announcement: Ronald Reagan to be added to Mt. Rushmore

11:50 PM - Closing Prayer led by evil lord Cheney(oops, Satan)

12:00 PM - Nomination of George W. Bush as Holy Supreme Planetary Crusader #1

To the sick and drunk, there is no UP...

It all started at Costco...

No, wait. It all started 21 years ago. (Though, you never know, it could have started before then.) I'd been hit by a car, taken to the hospital, and was driven home by Sean Mullin. He was the first person I told, afterwards, when I found out that I had amnesia. I told Tim Murphy next. Years later, Tim told me about how - during that period which now sits in a blank tapioca haze - I would smoke French cigarettes and drink from a little bottle of gin. This is all important. Honest.

And so, Saturday morning, I went to Vicky's place, all packed up for our weekend together. We had it all planned out... and then plans changed... and then we had it planned out... and then plans changed... and then we said, "Too hell with it," which was inevitable.

We first went to Costco, hungry because she'd had no breakfast and I had only one granola bar to coat my stomach for my vitamin. And so we traveled from sample stand to sample stand... sampling. And getting our goods. We had a sample of Zipfizz and bought a box at half-price, because it picked up Vicky a little and gave me a buzz as good as my last bong hit. Yes, I liked it! And I needed it. I'd spent the past week with body aches and I made a special effort not to tell Vicky about my sore throat. I wasn't going to let anything ruin our weekend, especially myself!
But when we returned to her place to unload the stuff and get going, she noticed when I sniffled. "That's not the first time you did that," she observed.

"I ate something spicy," I told her.

"I ate the same samples you did. None of them were spicy."

"Oh," was all I could say.

And so she got ready. And so we left for San Diego. I drove. Now, I love driving but when I'm driving someone else's car and that car is an SUV, that love turns into hate. Now, just imagine how much I hated it, considering that traffic was stop and go almost the entire way!

Quadruple that because of the fight Vicky and I got into on the way down! Sure, this was still a "Ken & Vicky fight", which is at worst a heated disagreement. As I've said before, if this is the worst we fight, I'll be the luckiest guy in the world! At the same time, it's never pleasant to have even a heated disagreement with someone you love. Worse, I could see a pattern. Vicky likes to make herself out to be cold and heartless, which makes my chest go tight and my heart stop - but she can't keep it up and ends up admitting that she's not cold and heartless. I realized Saturday that she does it because she doesn't want to be taken advantage of; she wants to be appreciated, respected, and loved. When I realized this, I told her she didn't have to worry about that with me. But I know how defense mechanisms work - I'd be crazy not to admit I have a few built-in, too - and it'll take some time for her to learn that she doesn't need it.

Even with the fight we had, we were fine again by the time we reached San Diego. "Tim, where's my drink?!" I said as I went in to blow my nose. We went next door and bought some Vanilla Clove cigarettes - Heaven! I'm in Heav-en! - and drank melon vodka and 7-Up. Yep, it was fun... We even danced out on Tim's patio - Vicky and I, Tim and Vicky, Me and Tim... and got a few pictures of the happy couple... Vicky and I!

But after a while, Vicky was a little hungry. Tim and I were a little drunk. What better time to walk to the beach and grab a bite. We staggered down - Vicky looking very embarrassed for us. By the time we got to the bonfires on the beach ("We have to walk by the bonfires and make friends," drunken Tim had told us.), we were holding hands. "Are you guys a threesome or something? Why are you holding hands," someone at the first bonfire asked us. "We only do this when we're drunk," I replied. I'd meant that we only held hands then... I think he took it differently. He yelled, "Right on!"

It was about this time when I started forgetting things.

We went from bonfire to bonfire, making fools of ourselves. When Tim couldn't do it alone, I helped. Vicky abstained. Vicky and I were trying to work Tim up from the beach to a restaurant for dinner. It took forever but we eventually made it to Hodads - a burger joint with great burgers. I ordered a cheeseburger, a malt, and a side of jealousy. It came when Vicky and Tim started checking out the guys. Now, Vicky says she wasn't doing it... and I was drunk so how could I say?... but it sure looked like she was... and I sure told her she was...

And she sure took off angry...

And so, we had our second fight of the day. It ended when I admitted that I was drunk and I could have been wrong - even drunk I knew to say that even if it wasn't true - I still thought she'd been checking the guy out - and I just wanted to go back to Tim's and lie down. My head hurt, I was drunk, and I couldn't stop sniffling.

Somewhere on the way home, I lost track of continuity... I remember all the vodka and 7-Up hitting my bladder... Then, I remember getting to Tim's and running into the bathroom... Later, after Vicky had gone to bed, I lied down... ("Honey, aren't you going to get under the blankets," she asked. In response, I grumbled... and went to blow my nose again.) And on one trip to blow my nose, I remember that my ears popped, as they do sometimes... and the rest I'm piecing together with recollections from Vicky and myself... She asked, "Honey, are you okay?"... I grumbled that I was fine... "Where are you," she asked... "I'm in the bathroom," I replied... "No, you're not," she said. "You're on the floor."... I opened my eyes and, sure enough, I was on the floor. I'd fallen down after blowing my nose...

And there I remained... for a while...

But I had to keep getting up to blow my nose. And, so, it was morning that brought the end of a restless night, a now-raging head cold, and a murderous hangover.

It wasn't pleasant.

Still, I wasn't going to let this ruin my weekend with Vicky. We went to breakfast. We went antiquing. And I, basically, died a little bit with each step. Sunday became all about getting through. I didn't enjoy a minute of it.

Thankfully, by the time Vicky got us back to her place, my hangover was mostly gone though my head cold raged on. I stayed at her place, while she cleaned. I was supposed to go to an audition but I could hardly move in my state. Auditioning was right out! I relaxed with her, had Taco Bell for dinner, and then headed back to my place for more nose blowing. A fever awaited me at home and I added that to my repertoire!

So, it was no surprise that I didn't go to work Monday and now you know why this My Side is a day late...

The fever persisted all day. And I sweat and I sweat. Still, last night was the last night of the auditions and it was for a play I wanted to do. It was for "Laura", a play that Teri - my director from "Something to Hide" - was going to direct. The director was changed at the last minute, though, so my "in" with Teri was gone but I still wanted to audition. I wanted to audition for the part of the good guy. I'd never played the good guy. I thought it'd be a nice stretch for me.
But I continued to sweat. At 5pm, I took a shower. At 5:15, though I'd dried myself off, I was soaking wet... not a good sign.

At 6:30, I went to the audition. I'd forgotten my resume though I'd remembered my headshot. I could barely stand. I had little voice. Oh, I was impressive.

The new director had me read three times. The second time, she said, "Could you read him drunker?"

"I didn't know he was a drunk," I said.

"Well, he may not be, but you look kind of drunk and that's given me an idea," she replied.
Shortly after that, she sent me home. I don't think it's a stretch to say I probably won't be cast.

I went home, snuggled that cats a bit, and spoke with Vicky before I went to bed.

Almost immediately, I was at Rosa's door. I'd come to have her sign the life insurance papers, splitting our policies into two. She said, "Can you hold me, just once more, for old time's sake." I backed away from her, "Rosa, I'm engaged to be married. You might not remember what that's like but I don't intend to let anything ruin that, not even you. You never appreciated my level of fidelity - you never appreciated me - like Vicky does and I'm never going to do anything to ruin that!"

I awoke with a start, my face dripping with sweat, my throat sore.

I immediately punched Vicky's number into the phone and felt better, hearing her voice.

(For those paying attention, we're not engaged..... yet. Stay tuned.)

Friday, August 13, 2004

Today's My Side is brought to you by the letter "H"...

"H" for Hurricane!

"H" for Help!

"H" for Hey Rich, are you okay?????

Yes, as many of you know, a couple of hurricane-forced hurricane-type hurricanes (HURRICANES!) are hitting Florida. A couple million people have been evacuated and I'm wondering if I know a couple of them, namely Richard Lind and his daughter, Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeechelle. I hope they're both safe and dry.

Richard, let me know how you're doing.

Actually, this is a good opportunity to say to all of you, "Send me a note and let me know how you're doing." Now.

What are you waiting for?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Weighing in on Nader...

Just a couple things about Ralph Nader and then I'll shut up.... sure....

Let's try to keep in mind, next time someone tells us that Ralph Nader made Gore lose the election in 2000, that Gore won the election in 2000. So, I am not threatened by Ralph Nader's candidacy and neither should Kerry be threatened and neither should any Democrat be threatened.

As I've said before, however, Ralph Nader should not run. He should be ashamed of himself. Ralph Nader was once a man of inestimable character. Now, he's taking money from Republicans. Republicans!

Now, are we clear? Everyone can get off Nader's ass. He's not a threat. He's a disgrace.

Kerry in 2004!

Catchin' up with Ken

Every once in a while, I need to write an entry that is strictly trash, void of a theme or any deep meaning, what you might call "sitting on the porch and shootin' the breeze".

K-pow! Stupid breeze...

I kind of threw my back out recently. Engaged is what strenuous activity, you might ask. "Sneezing," I'd probably answer. Yes, sneezing. I sneeze at work and the next thing I knew... OUCH! It's just thrown out enough to hurt, not enough to keep me down... which is too bad... I like being down... down in bed, down with World of Warcraft, down with a martini...

I recently heard tell that Tim and Autumn are working on making a baby. This is great news and I wish them luck. I know, from my own experience these past couple of years, that making a baby can be very difficult so I thought I'd give you some tips:
1) Sacrifice the virgins to Q'mafytl no later than five minutes after sundown on the third day after the ceremony of many hair.
2) Keep the cultures under your arm for as long as you can stand it... even if it means screaming...
3) Most importantly, the arms and legs of the new baby should each come from different babies... or Mickey Rooney... same thing and sewn, not with brunette human hair but BLONDE human hair. I made that mistake once and - whew! - never again, let me tell you!

In lieu of that, you could also have sex. My suggestion would be to have lots of sex, boxes of sex, a livingroom full of sex. But keep the sex at room temperature - NEVER put it in the freezer. Serve with garnish.

I haven't talked about Vicky in a while. OKAY! OKAY! I'M SHUTTING UP!

My mom got her computer fixed. So, of course, she's been calling me with question after question... someone, please kill me!

Auditions for Laura will be this Monday at Huntington Beach Playhouse. A new director has signed on, so I won't be able to presume upon the good will of the director I had in Something to Hide... in other words, I'm going to have to be a good actor. Time to start making alternate plans...

I've been working on a rewrite to Everything Changes. My god. This really was my first play, wasn't it? I cut ten pages from it (impressive? not when you consider its 125 page length!) and want to cut more. But how? It's also crammed with jokes and some of the best lines I've ever written. Yes, I impressed myself but a rewrite will be better. Having done it (the rewrite, Vicky!), I'm now wondering if I even want to show it to OCPA. These people are so set in their desire to be "artists", they miss the whole "entertain" idea. Do I even want to bother with them? And, if not, why am I a member? Things to think about.

So, anyway... Vicky. For those wondering, I've been discovering that Vicky, too, is neurotic. She's just neurotic in different ways from myself... and now I will spell them out for all of you. (Nothing - but NOTHING - is sacred!)

... okay, just one.

The other night, Vicky and I were eating ice cream. We set the bowl down (yes, we were sharing - aren't we cute?)... and, several minutes later, I picked it up to get the melted part. The melted part is universally agreed to be THE BEST PART OF THE ICE CREAM.

Vicky: What are you doing?
Ken: Huh?
Vicky: (kind of freaking) What are you doing?!
Ken: What's it look like I'm doing?
Vicky: (freaking) You're not going to eat - the ICE CREAM, are you?!
Ken: Well... yes.
Vicky: (really freaking) You can't eat the ice cream!!
Ken: Sure I can. I get it with the spoon and put the spoon in my mouth... like this. (And I put it in my mouth.)
Vicky: (positively freaking) But it's full of germs and diseases and DEMONS AND DEVILS AND

So, at that point, her head started to spin around and green pea soup started to fly and, well, I'm thinking she has this thing about germs.

... Anyway, she's a little neurotic.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

A note from Kurt Vonnegut...

My favorite author has checked in to share with us his thoughts on recent goings-ons:

Our president is a Christian? So was Adolf Hitler.

What can be said to our young people, now that psychopathic personalities, which is to say persons without consciences, without a sense of pity or shame, have taken all the money in the treasuries of our government and corporations and made it all their own?

Vote where you shop... or something...

An interesting story came out today on MSN, showing that Costco execs have come out in support of John Kerry. Meanwhile, Wal-mart execs are pro-Shrub.

Now, this doesn't bother me because I like Costco. It must be a majorly thorny issue for Dwight or my dad, though, having already signed their Repugnican contract in blood but loving to shop at Costco at the same time! And I've always hated Wal-Mart, so... (Let's face it, folks. Should anyone love anything that's a knock-off from K-mart??)

So, get your alliegances in order. Next week, burger joints start lining up behind the candidate!

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

It is what it is...

I saw a zombie driving to work this morning.


Okay, I guess I shouldn't start off like that - tends to confuse some people. Some people will wonder who was driving, me or the zombie. Others will conjecture if the zombie was the walking dead or someone under a voodoo spell. Please, let me clarify. This morning, as I was driving to work, I saw one of the undead driving on the freeway. She drove with her head tilted waaaaay back in her chair, her mouth wide open and unmoving. None of her moved. Her skin, like well-worn leather, pulled taut, would have betrayed any movement at all.

She just drove along.

She must have died old; her hair was that of an old person.

I hadn't had an hallucination like this in a very long time, not this vivid. Oh, sure. It could have been someone dressed as the undead... but I prefer to think of it as an hallucination. (Tim Clostio would probably ask, just about now, how I knew it was really one of the undead driving a Volkswagon. Tim, stop that.) Hallucinations can be very useful. They can be enlightening. Some of our best heroes and writers have had them.

I watched the zombie merge onto the 405 south (probably heading to the airport) and wondered about the death I was surrounded by. I must be, after all, to encounter it on the freeway on the way to work. What death? I'm rewriting Everything Changes, killing my first play. That play no longer exists. I, myself, am dying, watching my solitary self die as Vicky takes a more prominent place in my life. My days of Chloe, my old dog, are dying off as Suki, Vicky's dog, takes a larger role in my life. Soon, my apartment will die when I move. Death. Everywhere. You want more? My hair is graying - death. The tires on my car need replacing - death. Summer ends soon - death. It's everywhere - and there's no stopping it.

How many of you have already begun scoffing at the notion? How many of you have said, in one way or another, "Sure, Ken, but you're not dead... those examples aren't really death?"
Do you think so? Play along for just another minute, anyway.

There are many kinds of death. How many of us have had our car "die" on us? Or had a phone line "dead"? Even when a pet dies, we see it as death, no matter how much we try to tell ourselves that it isn't, that's it's less important, that it won't affect us. We go on. We go on. We go on. But we are constantly surrounded by death.

So, why aren't I upset by this? Why aren't we always confronted by this grim reality? Because people possess a remarkable capacity for hope. Even the most cynical of us see it every day - we know that life is an incredible force and, just as sure as the finale of a Gospel, life trumps death. Even as my hair grays, and my youthful nature dies, a more mature Ken La Salle is born. As the old Everything Changes dies, a new, hopefully better one, is born. My solitary self is shucked off like a old shell to reveal a more fulfilled self with Vicky. Chloe is the fond memory that brings about the life of a new relationship with Suki. The death of my old dwelling brings to life a new - again, hopefully better - one. New tires are put on my car. A new Autumn (no, not you, Autumn) is born. Life may not spring eternal but, for our purposes at least, it has quite a libido.

Maybe that's why it's so tempting to believe in reincarnation, because we see it all around us. We see the flowers grow in the cemetery. We see animal life perpetuate and perpetuate and, well, perpetuate. There must be a life after death... right? It would give our life meaning, wouldn't it? And if there's one thing people crave, it's meaning. We look for it all around us. People tell me, "You and Rosa split up because you were meant to be with Vicky." They say, "You had to lose everything in order to appreciate what you have."

But just as surely as people look for life after death, people need that meaning to counteract the meaningless that also exists.

Let's face it, the life that we see following death is not meaningful on a personal level. The life of someone you knew is not continued in any meaningful way. The tree you see growing at their grave does not continue their consciousness. The fish that their body feeds when you bury them at sea do not eat their hopes, only their flesh. People need that life after death because they need a continuation of themselves. And it's a tough pill to swallow to think that, at best, you'll be feeding something NOT at the bottom of the food chain. The interesting thing about reincarnation is that, for the most part, the originators of this belief got it right. They weren't as caught up in personal continuation as we are. They saw that a man who dies is reborn within the soil, within the worm, within the bird, within lion, and within, finally, the person. So, we counteract that with the idea of a soul - a soul that must go on - a soul we believe in, clingingly, in the hopes that such a thing exists, though we know it's a long shot at best. We crave a soul because we crave meaning. We refuse to face the meaningless.

Do you have to lose everything to appreciate what you have? Some do. Some don't. Prescribing to meaning is like prescribing to a proverb or maxim. Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. Is a bird in the hand worth two in the bush? Sadly, nobody has a clue!

The unbearable truth, to many people, is that there is no personal meaning to events, just as death brings life but not a continuation to that thing's life. The ultimate meaning to things is beyond our feeble comprehension. So, then, how is it that things look so clearly to us as having meaning? They appear so clearly because we are the ones to prescribe such meaning. We look at our lives and say, "Oh, so that's why that happened." or "That's what that means." It must be true because it is so clear.

But just as life follows death and meaning follows meaninglessness - and just as one is only related to the other in the most peripheral way - so, too, must understanding follow ignorance. We don't have to admit the truth and, in fact, most people do just fine without it. But Buddha had to die to ignorance and so did Jesus. Buddha became enlightened to the truth and Jesus was born again to it. And if we are going to claim that these are people worth emulating (What would Jesus do?), shouldn't we, too, eschew our tendency to comfortable ignorance and embrace the uncomfortable?

What's wrong with death being the end? What harm could meaninglessness bring us? The finality of death brings meaning to our days. The incomprehensible drives us to learn. And sometimes we have to admit that what is simply is. Vicky is in my life, not because of God's will or fate or karma or any universal lottery. Vicky is in my life because this is the time for her to be in my life. She won't be for long. I could lose her tomorrow. I could lose her in 60 years. The point is not to prescribe meaning or insist the endings never come but to embrace both my lack of comprehension as to how I could be so fortunate and the knowledge that I won't be one day and to live each day fulfilled. I don't need to know why and I don't need it forever. It is what it is. These moments are eternal and to say that we, as two people in love, need more meaning than that, is a joke.

And this is how I live my life... and for those of you who say it must be rather sterile or dull... I got to see one of the undead drive a Volkswagon...

Monday, August 09, 2004

The Spoken Word...

I got a membership to Audible.com recently. I love spoken word recordings - Garrison Keillor, Spalding Grey (who is no longer with us), Firesign Theatre, etc. - and I got this great deal for a free month through work, so... Immediately, I ordered two books, Spalding Grey's Monster in a Box and Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

Joseph Campbell had an incredible speaking voice and could take the driest, most desiccated material and reinvigorate it, make it live again. Sadly, though, he's dead. (Buying from the dead saves all that time at the checkout counter.) So, they had to bring in someone else to read his book, Ralph Blum. Another writer, Ralph Blum composes new aged claptrap about runes and that kind of crap - certainly no one to fill Joseph's Campbell's shoes. The could have got Peter Coyote or Joe Montegna but NO...

And so, having burnt it to CD, I put The Hero with a Thousand Faces into my CD player this morning...

Long long ago, when wishing could still lead to something, there lived a king whose daughters all were beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, who had seen so many things, simply marveled every time it shone on her face. Now close to the castle of this king was a great dark forest, and in the forest under an old lime tree a spring, and when the day was very hot, the king's child would go out into the wood and sit on the edge of the cool spring. And she would dip her tiny feet in the nice, cool water and - aaaaaahhhh - yep, that's good. Would you like a sip?

Not now. I'm driving.

Come on. This is your dream. You might as well enjoy it.

I'd enjoy it a whole lot more if they'd been able to get Joseph Campbell to narrate rather than listen to your voice drone on and on.

As if you're an better? Ever take a look at those My Sides you write? Huh? Snore City!

I wouldn't go that -

And you don't even get anything published any more. Now you write on some free website and all your readers know how sad that is. Just ask either of them!

That's because I have other -

Other what? Working on other projects? Name one! All you've been doing is spending time with your girlfriend, wondering when she's going to break up with you!

Well, she has been giving me weird looks lately.

Like that she has something she wants to say to you but is afraid to say it?

Yes. Exactly.

She's probably thinking, "What a neurotic freak! Why can't he stop asking me what I'm thinking?!"

Well, I'm concerned.

Obsessed is more like it. And why shouldn't she think you're a freak? You bought a Moody Blues DVD this weekend. Moody freaking Blues!!!! Aren't they dead? And on top of that you're reading Garrison Keillor! And if that's not bad enough, she's finally catching on to what a snob you are - just like everyone else you know! Face it! You're a fat, lazy slob who does nothing with his life, is still caught in the past, and thinks that gives him the right to judge people! You should be ashamed of yourself!

What? Wait a second! That's not true!

Oh, sorry. You're fat, lazy AND stupid!

I am not fat. I'm down to 220.

That's fatter than 180.

But thinner than 240. It's all subjective. And I'm not lazy, either.

How's that screenplay coming?

Okay, so I haven't done that. But I did do the rewrite on Atheists and I'm halfway done with the rewrite on Everything Changes. I think having someone in my life like Vicky, someone I may marry, gives me a right to take it a little easy.

Oh, please. Last year, you did, what? Six or seven shows? How many this year? Two!

Okay, there's going to be some readjustment. I know that. But that doesn't mean I'm doing nothing with my life. I'm thinking of the future. So, I'm not caught up in the past.

You mean to tell me you never think about Rosa?

Well, yes, of course, I still think about Rosa.

You called Vicky "Rosa" just last night!

I was half-asleep. I can't even remember what I was saying! Hey, I might have been dreaming for all I know.... Okay, that was my bad. But that doesn't mean I'd rather be with her because I wouldn't! And I'm a lot less judgmental of people than I used to be!

Didn't you go off yesterday about how useless models are? Didn't you do that while Vicky was watching NASCAR? Wasn't that right around the same time you were making jokes about NASCAR?

Okay, my joking got a little out of hand! Still, that's not the same thing as looking down my nose at people or minimizing them, which I used to do way too much of! I'm not as bad as I used to be!

What about this disk?! Weren't you just criticizing this disk????

Sure. But this disk sucks.

So, I took out the disk and put in Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Mood... which began to lecture me on the utter futility and aloneness of existence...

Friday, August 06, 2004

Kudos to Don Henley...

(Thanks, Michael Moore.)

August 3rd, 2004 11:46 amHenley Miffs O.C. Fans by Talking Politics

The Orange County Register

COSTA MESA – Singer Don Henley drew a chorus of boos from fans at the Pacific Amphitheatre after he made several political comments between songs during his concert Thursday night, becoming the latest performer to elicit such a negative reaction.

Two weeks ago, Linda Ronstadt touched off a disturbance at a show in Las Vegas when she dedicated a song to filmmaker Michael Moore. Fans at the Aladdin Hotel and Casino booed, threw drinks and ripped down posters in the lobby, prompting the management to escort the singer from the premises and bar her from performing there again.

Henley, referring to that incident Thursday night, began a sentence with, "Given what my good friend Linda Ronstadt ," but was silenced as the amphitheatre erupted in boos. He responded: "Whoops - Orange County," adding, "We used to be able to have civil debate in this country Not anymore."

Henley then suggested his next song could be a duet sung by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He launched into Randy Newman's darkly satirical tune, "Political Science," which imagines the United States dropping nuclear weapons on the rest of the world.

"He really blindsided everyone," said Joshua Owen of Long Beach, who had taken a group of employees to the concert and was upset by the political content. "There was booing. Some people headed for the exits."

Get your Dribble on...

For those of you who think My Side's been a bit too seriously lately (Yes, that's right, Rich! I'm talking about you! What are you going to about it, you big baby?! What?! Huh?! What?!), I thought it would be a good time to give you a little treat...

... a little taste from the dribble glass...

... enjoy!

Springsteen talks...

(Thanks Moby.)


August 5, 2004


Chords for Change


A nation's artists and musicians have a particular place in its social and political life. Over the years I've tried to think long and hard about what it means to be American: about the distictive identity and position we have in the world, and how that position is best carried.I've tried to write songs that speak to our pride and criticize our failures.

These questions are at the heart of this election: who we are, what we stand for, why we fight. Personally, for the last 25 years I have always stayed one step away from partisan politics. Instead, I have been partisan about a set of ideals: economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for all of our citizens. This year, however, for many of us the stakes have risen too high to sit this election out.

Through my work, I've always tried to ask hard questions. Why is it that the wealthiest nation in the world finds it so hard to keep its promise and faith with its weakest citizens? Why do we continue to find it so difficult to see beyond the veil of race? How do we conduct ourselves during difficult times without killing the things we hold dear? Why does the fulfillment of our promise as a people always seem to be just within grasp yet forever out of reach?

I don't think John Kerry and John Edwards have all the answers. I do believe they are sincerely interested in asking the right questions and working their way toward honest solutions. They understand that we need an administration that places a priority on fairness, curiosity, openness, humility, concern for all America's citizens, courage and faith.

People have different notions of these values, and they live them out in different ways. I've tried to sing about some of them in my songs. But I have my own ideas about what they mean, too. That is why I plan to join with many fellow artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., the Dixie Chicks, Jurassic 5, James Taylor and Jackson Browne, in touring the country this October. We will be performing under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change. Our goal is to change the direction of the government and change the current administration come November.

Like many others, in the aftermath of 9/11, I felt the country's unity. I don't remember anything quite like it. I supported the decision to enter Afghanistan and I hoped that the seriousness of the times would bring forth strength, humility and wisdom in our leaders. Instead, we dived headlong into an unnecessary war in Iraq, offering up the lives of our young men and women under circumstances that are now discredited. We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs. We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent (corporate bigwigs, well-to-do guitar players), increasing the division of wealth that threatens to destroy our social contract with one another and render mute the promise of "one nation indivisible."

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others, honesty about ourselves, faith in our ideals - that we come to life in God's eyes. It is how our soul, as a nation and as individuals, is revealed. Our American government has strayed too far from American values. It is time to move forward. The country we carry in our hearts is waiting.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Shrub comes out with new program...

Will Shrub ever cease to amaze and amuse? Not for a few more months, he won't...

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we," Bush said. "They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."

Let's EAT!

Vicky and I have this conversation every few days. It usually goes about the same:

Vicky. Do you want dinner?
Ken. Eh, I don't know. What are you in the mood for?
Vicky. I don't know.
Ken. Eh.
Vicky. I don't want to cook.
Ken. Chinese food?

Yeah, we've eaten our share of Chinese food. Last night, rather than go the Chinese food route, we decided to try something different.

AND THE WHOLE WORLD CHANGED!!!! ... okay, maybe not the whole world... maybe just a few blocks and a stop light.

We decided to try out Lee's Sandwiches, a new sammach shop just a few blocks away from Vicky's place. (The corner of Brookhurst and Westminster for those of you in Orange County.) Lee's Sandwiches, always open and always packed... kind of like the sammach shop version of Krispy Kreme...

Now, I know what you're thinking. (Tim, stop that!) You're probably thinking that Ken's really run out of ideas if all he has to talk about is food... right? BUT IT'S REALLY GOOD FOOD!!!! Vicky ordered the BBQ'ed pork sammach and I got Lee's Club. (Yes, I know it has beef - shut up!) Then, we got a bag of Delimanjoo cakes and a small box of cocanut cookies. (Can you believe she only let me eat one? What a pain in my increasingly immense ass!)

As we waited for our order, we looked at some of the ethnic foods (yes, many) and talked to a lady from India about where some of the foods came from and how they were made and - wow - it really hit me how Vicky and I are a couple and how nice that feels and how lucky I am to be with her... and then we got our sammaches - they was freakin' great!