Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Movie Night

It was Halloween Movie Night yesterday and we watched Poltergeist, an oldie but a goody.

Attendance was a little spotty. Some of the guests were involved in a traffic incident earlier in the day and were still at the hospital. Last report: everyone was going to be okay, but there were stitches involved.

The other invitees might have been discouraged by the late invitations. My fault - I'm apparently not so good at That no one had responded in two weeks should have been the tip-off. Anyway, there were four of us.

I'm thinking this group would make a good posse - an entourage, if you will. Everyone needs a posse!

In addition to the scary movie, there was scary food. Camille has been hard at work for weeks devising her food.

Blood Punch

Witches Fingers

Kitty Litter Cake

Not pictured was the chili (not so scary), the green potato salad (still tasty) or the fried rice with pink tuna (which the cats would have really liked to had a taste of).

The following pictures are fun because of the mirror. I've never been able to see both sides of myself at the same time - I'm not sure I like it.

After the dinner we watched the movie, then came back to the apartment and watched a different, less scary movie, but on Blu-Ray which makes everything better. Camille and Will kept falling asleep. Actually, Will pretty much slept through the whole thing. I don't know if this is a testament to my living space's inherently relaxing vibe, the dullness of movie night or the amount of alcohol in the Blood Punch, but I'm going with the alcohol.

Also of note, I beat Will at Madden 09. Final score, 21-14 on a last second touchdown. Go Houston!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Random Cats

I think you'll's been too long without random pictures of cats.

So cute.

So cute, but oh so deadly. Don't let her fool you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Third Anniversary

I haven't tried to say anything profound in awhile. Probably for good reason. Read on...

Today makes three.

Then it was an air mattress with a single pillow. A clock radio glowing with red numbers near my head. A suitcase with a week's worth of clothes not far from my feet. Outside - the city.

Three years ago today I unloaded four cats, a suitcase and a few odds and ends into my new apartment. For three days I had traveled from Alma, Kansas to Los Angeles, California. I crossed mountains. I outran a storm at the peak of the Rockies. I spent a night on the edge of the desert as the October sun set in the direction of my travels.

The trip surprised me. I never planned to make it; never dreamed I'd live in such a place. I never desired it. I never wished for it. Then it was. Now three years have passed and tomorrow begins a fourth year. And then maybe a fifth? A sixth?

So much has passed between that first night on the air mattress in an empty apartment and now. More furniture. Less cats. A whole world of friends and coworkers and moments that will someday make for endless hours of stories and laughter.

I never meant to come here. Living in Los Angeles was the furthest idea from my mind as I sat in my house in Kansas, yet I knew even as I said no the first time that eventually I was coming here. I took the night offered me to think about it and I did. I spent that night trying to talk myself out of moving.

It wasn't Los Angeles. It wasn't the opportunity or the promotion. It wasn't the lure of Hollywood, the temptation of the climate or the entrancing roar of the ocean waves. It may have been as simple as having been asked to go. A surprising new wrinkle. Fodder for a thousand stories. An adventure.

And it was a test. Like many, I have spent a lifetime figuring out what I want to be when I grow up. Also, I have spent a lifetime figuring out where I belong. I always thought it was the small towns I had known as a child. Porch swings. Neighbors stopping by. Friday night high school football games. And I do belong there - sometimes.

I have learned in the passing years that I also belong in the city with all its many small wonders. Movie theatres. Live shows. College football games. Sparkling computer parts stores. I enjoy the trappings of the urban core - sometimes.

One day, about a year after I had moved to Los Angeles, I drove the short distance to the beach. I walked along the water's edge not far from the Manhattan Beach pier and stopped for awhile to watch the sun sink near the horizon. I realized then that I had come as far as I could go. I stood at the edge of the earth peering into the vastness of the ocean. A lifetime had brought me to that moment and that place. It was the first time I felt at peace with deciding to move here.

A year later I returned from a winter trip back to Nebraska. It was Christmas. On the last night in Lincoln it snowed about 12 inches and Thaddeus and I shoveled the drive all morning trying to free the car. Thaddeus braved the elements and probably imminent death getting me to the airport. At LAX, the glass doors opened out into a warm night. Good to be home, I thought. A first.

Home remains an elusive ideal. Is it the place we are born? The place we die? The place we live longest? Is home truly where the heart is? Or simply the place we always go back to? I do not know.

I have lived in only two places longer than I have lived in Los Angeles - Lincoln and Caddo Mills. When people ask where I'm from I say Nebraska even though I have lived more of my life somewhere else. When I tell stories about my childhood I say I grew up in Texas even though I grew up in other places too. For me, home has never been a place. Instead, home resides in the souls of people I find in those places. It's why my parents' house feels like home though I never lived there. It's why I have a niece and nephew in Lincoln though I'm not related to their parents at all. Home travels with us.

Had I never lived in Los Angeles I may not have learned that lesson. In Los Angeles, almost everyone is from someplace else. The wall of my cubicle is lined with over a dozen flags representing the countries where my coworkers were born. They come from across the globe and speak as many languages as there are flags. If home were simply a place, we would all be a long way from it.

I learn something new from them each day. Words. Customs. Traditions. Foods - oh, the foods! Most importantly I learn that home is where we make it.

For now, this is my home. I do not know for how much longer. Years? Decades? Next week? This place is far from perfect. Long commutes. Dirty air. Homeless folks panhandling on the corners. Prostitutes displaying their goods at the stoplights on Crenshaw. This place is not all that bad either. Shiny new movie theatres. Countless arenas, stadiums, coliseums and a Rose Bowl. Only twenty days of rain a year. No winter. No snow.

Today makes three years in Los Angeles though it hardly seems possible. Here in this last place on earth I thought I'd be I find it harder to imagine being anywhere else. It doesn't always feel like home, but it feels like a good place to call home for awhile. A time will come when I get tired of the noise, the traffic, the grit of the city and I'll go somewhere else. Where? I do not know?

I never wanted to move to Los Angeles, but when the chance came I took it because I thought I might find home. Having found it nowhere else, the big city seemed like a good place to look. If I didn't find it in the city then maybe in the places I had already been.

On this last day of my third year I can say I have found home. Home is the place that makes us happy. Home is the people that make it that way. And home need not be a single place when it can be anyplace we want it to be.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Big Daddy and the Fair

It is that is time to tell a funny story about myself. It is a story best told in person, but that won't stop me.

When Camille and I arrived at the LA County Fair a couple weeks ago, we were greeted by a bank of photographers. We were early arrivals to the fair and entered in a trickle of other patrons which left the photographers distracted and talking amongst themselves. I was trying to sneak past them, but failed.

The last guy on our side of the group turned in time to see us. He was a stocky, black man with a quick step and unnervingly happy disposition. "Wait right there, Big Daddy," he said to me. Crap, I thought. Camille was already laughing. "Come on now, we've got to get a picture of Big Daddy with his lady." Camille laughed more.

Fine, I thought, I slid in next to Camille. "Oh come on, Big Daddy, get close to your lady. We've got to get a picture with Big Daddy and his lady!" I put my arm around Camille. I'm surprised that the picture turned out so well. I was expecting an open mouthed, mid-guffaw look from Big Daddy's lady. Nope, just a big smile (and the next several hours and most of the following days being called Big Daddy).