And the decision is . . .

I stepped off the cliff and quit my job Wednesday. It’s the first major decision I’ve made that I didn’t second guess.

I’m all in.

It’s a risk, but I took it. Two weeks to go at my current job and a great 15-year chapter of my life closes.

What is there to say?  © ArtFamily - Fotolia.com

What is there to say?
© ArtFamily – Fotolia.com

After I told some of my work friends, it’s been a draining experience. First, telling them was hard. Then hearing the very nice things they had to say about me – well, some tears and choking up.

The part that surprised me most was the respect people had for me jumping ship at this stage in my life to improve my skills and try something new. It caught me off guard. I work for a great company with fantastic people, but it’s full of processes to be followed and is rigid. For some, I believe they would like to escape and do something else too.

Again, I’m grateful for my luck in life.

So that’s it for tonight. I’m tired because I haven’t been sleeping well. The stress of this situation keeps me up late and wakes me up early.

I am so lucky. Thank you, Universe, for my good fortune.

 

Advertisements

Revenge of the nasty, stinky rug

Readers of my previous post know that one of our labs puked on three rugs this week. The alien substance smelled so bad, and permeated a 3×5 rug in my office so deeply, that I had to throw the rug away.

I rolled it up and stuck it in the trash.

Who is that hiding in the trash can? It's the unknown jack-in-the-box.

Who is that hiding in the trash can? It’s the unknown jack-in-the-box.

Now here in Los Angeles we have nighttime trash raiders. I don’t mind them as long as they’re not trying to steal identities. But my other neighbors get really upset because technically it’s illegal.

I do, however, fantasize about hiding in the trash can, then jumping out like a jack-in-the-box when one of the “Jawas” opens the lid. Nothing like a practical joke that gives a poor person a heart attack while they’re stealing plastic bottles to put food on their table to make you feel better about your life.

Back to reality.

My wife was walking the dogs this morning when she saw a trash raider with a pick-up stop and take the rolled-up rug out of the trash and back to his truck.

Now, when I threw away the rug, it wasn’t a casual decision. If I threw away a rug each time one of our dogs barfed on it, well, we’d be rug-free and poor. But I suspect our poop eating black lab did just that – ate poop – and it created a toxic smell worthy of a government weapon.

No cleaning product was going to bring that rug back to life.

The trash raider, back at his truck, let the rug unroll. Big mistake. My wife said he immediately recoiled in horror, like he got hit by something. I’m sure after five days in the plastic bin and hot sun the stain was nice and ripe.

Even worse, she said, he must have gotten some on his hands because he was frantically trying to wipe them off on a section of the rug, while trying not to get too close to it.

Finally, he folded the rug and placed it back in our trash. Then he looked around in his truck for some water to wash his hands, but not finding any wiped his hands on his truck, got in, and drove off.

My only regret is not taking a picture of that rug for this post. Oh, well, that’s life.

Broncos beat the Chargers and my daughter calls me a . . .

Whack-a-do.

That’s what she called me after the Denver Broncos beat the San Diego Chargers. We were eating dinner and I was giving instructions to both her and my wife to remember exactly what they wore during the Broncos game so they could wear it again the following Sunday for the showdown with the evil New England Patriots.

You know you have the best wife ever when she makes a Broncos pom pom for the dog without a Broncos collar. Love.

You know you have the best wife ever when she makes a Broncos pom pom for the dog without a Broncos collar. Love.

“What? You want us to wear the same thing we wore today?” she said, as if I’d just asked her to eat kale at every meal for the rest of her life, which is funny because it feels like a lifetime from the moment we ask her to eat her kale to when she actually takes a bite.

“You’re a whack-a-do,” she said.

“Is that good or bad?” I asked.

“Well, it’s better than a cray-cray nutcracker.”

Tweener code, it’s never boring. I rue the day she calls me a cray-cray nutcracker, a term her friend invented for who knows what reason.

I need to order a tweener decoder ring on Amazon.

Regardless of my daughter’s protest, all three of us will be wearing the same clothes on Sunday at noon when the kick-off takes place.

Fortunately for the ladies of my house, they will get to wash their clothes before the game. I, being an OCD purist, will, with the exception of my Labrador boxers, be wearing the same clothes in their pristine, unwashed condition: my old Broncos t-shirt under my orange Manning jersey, Broncos lounge pants, vintage Broncos logo hat, and orange-trim running shoes, no socks.

Yes, whack-a-do sounds about right, whatever it means.

A perfect day with my daughter (with an assist from a reader of this blog)

When you’re living in overtime, or extra time, bonus time – whatever you’d like to call the point at which every moment you have left matters (a lot) – you fall in love with the days when everything comes together and the Universe hands you a gift.

Toss in a little luck with an email from a reader of this blog and it becomes the “perfect” day.

With my wife fighting a cold, my 11 year-old daughter and I visited the Renegade Craft Fair,  located between Chinatown and Downtown LA. It was our holiday gift-finding adventure on a Saturday morning. And, as a bonus, the weather gods delivered the optimal temperature: 75 degrees, light breeze and crystal clear sky with minimal pollution that we could see.

Now just a bit of back story.

Usually I drag my daughter to early morning flea markets and swap meets in search of reclaimed wood and metal pieces and other unique items I can refinish for the house. Like the time we drove all the way to the Long Beach Flea Market and I told my daughter it might be chilly out and to dress warmly, only to get an 80-degree day. This led to “angry tweener syndrome,” which is a lot like walking the booths with the Tasmanian Devil at your side. It bites. So keep your eyes forward and ignore the snarling noises.

This image is from the Renegade Craft Fair site. It's located in other cites too. Check it out.

This image is from the Renegade Craft Fair site. It’s located in other cites too. Check it out.

What I’ve learned is my daughter at 11 has a very narrow range in her comfort zone. Tired, hot, and hungry all lead to beating up daddy with “grumpitude.”

But the Renegade Fair, with its jewelry and clothing, was more her style. And though she overdressed a bit, losing the wool scarf upon arrival, she took to the hip, LA cool of the place right away, especially when it’s almost Christmas and I’m footing the bill.

90 minutes later, we left with bags and more bags of soaps, caramel popcorn (peppermint was my favorite, curry, hers), seed bombs, fruit preserves, lip balms, and a hanging terrarium for her mom. We also rejoiced in helping small businesses and scoring great Christmas gifts. Double Bonus.

(Now the story shifts sideways for a moment.)

The best part of writing this blog is the people I’ve met online, from Van Nuys CA, not too far away, to Australia and England, and down south to Georgia. And Texas. And Boston. And Valencia CA. And Minnesota. I fear mentioning just these locations because they don’t cover all of my blog friends. But they’re far and wide.

I email back and forth with many of these wonderful and caring people and they prevent me from being completely hopeless and negative about humanity.

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Larry emailed me and mentioned he saw a place TV show with a restaurant in LA called Homegirl Cafe and asked if I’ve ever been there. I haven’t. And it’s in Downtown LA, so I doubt I ever will, I tell him. But I research it, finding out Homeboy/Homegirl helps transform gang members with “Jobs, not Jail,” an excellent cause here in LA. I’m intrigued and put in on my mental bucket list.

Heaven, cucumber, lime and pineapple in a plastic glass. (Is that correct? Plastic glass? Hmm.)

Heaven, cucumber, lime and pineapple in a plastic glass. (Is that correct? Plastic glass? Hmm.)

So, as my daughter and I drive away from the craft fair, what restaurant do I pass?

If you guessed Homegirl, you are correct. (Larry, my friend, you are a Prince.)

The Universe said: Luck is your responsibility. 

U-Turn made.

Daddy, was that legal? 

We skip driving home and park at Homegirl.

Luck had found us thanks to a simple question in a simple email. And my daughter and I enjoy a great memory and brunch – a bacon omelette, in which she removes the bacon strip and tries to eat it all at once. “You eat like a barbarian,” I say. She smiled a big bacon smile.

The Universe rewarded me with an amazing Cucumber, pineapple and lime drink and I enter “foodie heaven” – and feel good about supporting a wonderful enterprise like Homegirl.

I read a theory on time once that stated it feels slow for us when we’re young because we fill it constantly with new experiences and memories. As we grow older, we create fewer new memories and time feels like it goes faster.

I’m not sure if the theory is correct or not, but I can say this: 4.5 hours of airway clearance a day, and three to four hospitalizations a year, are worth the price of admission to a life with days like this one.

One reason we need government: Foster Farms

We eat a ton of Foster Farms chicken. Then I read the following article tonight. 

Foster Farms? More like Salmonella Farms.

I know it’s easy to get on our government about how much they suck at times, which I do, as I can’t stand Congress, except for Senator Elizabeth Warren, but the government does provide some good services. As in policing the companies that provide our food.

Not looking so hot today, Foster.

Not looking so hot today, Foster.

On top of the Salmonella concern, once again the continued use of antibiotics in our food supply rears its head. How long is this going to continue? Does anyone still think it’s a good idea? Years from now, this is one of those actions people will look back at and shake their heads, wondering how we could have been so stupid.

Worst of all, the example above is just one of many stories each week of companies pushing the boundaries of what not to do. Without government, though far from perfect, we’d be hosed and puking chicken casserole into a toilet while the banks took crazy risks with our money.

Hold it? What the hell. That’s already happened. Our government sucks. Never mind.

My work-cation comes to an end and my top five vacation moments

The good news: Monday’s return to work won’t be quite the shock it normally is after a vacation because I worked most of the time I was on vacation. (This is my “glass is half full” attitude, which is kind of working for me right now.)

The bad news: I have to go back to work on Monday and I won’t be in Ventura CA doing it. And the next few weeks of work will be brutal.

One of the highlights of the trip was watching my daughter learn to boogie board. When my advice failed, she got angry. When it worked, she caught a wave and yelled, "Did you see that one, Daddy?" Yes, yes, I did. And it was great.

One of the highlights of the trip was watching my daughter learn to boogie board. When my advice failed, she got angry. When it worked, she caught a wave and yelled, “Did you see that one, Daddy?” Yes, yes, I did. And it was great.

I heart Ventura CA. And if it weren’t for our friends and my daughter’s school, I’d move the family. My wife, however, says my love affair with Ventura and the ocean is vacation-related and living there would be something different. And though my wife is right more times than I care to admit in writing, she’s wrong on this one (I think). I could live there in a heartbeat, even if we were miles from the ocean, which might be warmer and a better choice.

The house we stayed in was around 900 sq. ft. So, coming home to over 1,800 sq. ft makes our house feel almost McMansion-like. In fact, it makes me feel better that we didn’t do two things:

  1. Add on to our house during the real estate boom, which we thought about and would be still be paying for right now if we had.
  2. We didn’t move into a larger house, as it would mean more to clean, to heat, to cool.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t like more space around the outside of the house and a workshop for my tools, but the physical space we need to live in might not be as much as I thought. I just need to be more clever with the space we have.

Since returning mid-day yesterday, Saturday, I haven’t done much at all. I returned to my Treadmill Desk (over 8 miles walked) and escaped into a novel (The Cuckoo’s Calling) while doing it. I have a dozen projects around the house to complete, but haven’t worked up the energy to tackle one of them, owing my laziness to having a lot on my mind, like how to get rich and buy a vacation house in Ventura. Simple thoughts like that.

My top five Ventura moments:

  1. Standing deep in the water and watching my daughter boogie board and catch a huge wave. Her eyes got really big and I could tell she wasn’t too sure about it (a fear/excitement cocktail). But she held on and I was there to see it. I am lucky.
  2. My wife’s crazy lip-sync dance to a reggae song, and the fact I videotaped it for embarrassing her at a party one day. Priceless. Gold.
  3. Dinner with our good friends, outdoors, at the Sushi House on a perfect night. Great food, laughs, and excellent sushi a block from the beach. What more is there to want in life?
  4. Go-kart racing with my 12-year-old nephew and literally driving him into the rail/wall when he tried to pass me. Gotta teach the young ones to respect their elders now, don’t we?
  5. Dinner at Rice Thai with my wife, daughter and 10-year-old niece, who stayed with us for three days and came up with the idea she wanted to own the sun and sell sunlight to everyone. It’s good to think big before the reality of life crushes your dreams (hey, what happened to my “glass is half-full” spirit? That didn’t last long).

That’s it for now. Back to the chain gain and breaking rocks.

Breaking up with people who probably already broke up with you

Last weekend, on the beach, we met a very nice older couple. Our dogs met first, as their rare breed, 80 pounds, black and white with a patch over one eye, had a crush on our common black lab and couldn’t help but go Hugh Hefner on her every five minutes, until the leash came out and took the spark out of the stud.

Details about the couple: husband with salty gray, wavy, windblown hair, a deep tan, Ray-Bans, quiet; she of proper upbringing, talkative and charming, warm. They live in Santa Monica and have a house up here in Ventura they visit on weekends. They’re intelligent, articulate and the husband worked in Hollywood for a long time, making them successful. They have a son who is an engineer and working with a racing team back east.

Oh, and they’re in a class above us – the one I’ve always wanted to be in.

This is my calming ocean photo. I look at it and relax and forget about people that drive me nuts.

This is my calming ocean photo. I look at it and relax and forget about people that drive me nuts.

So, right off the bat, I’m depressed and jealous, a bad combo.

Why are they speaking to me? What do they want? 

My wife tells the woman, Joan, a name I just gave her, that I know and write about automotive technology and luxury cars. And Joan, it turns out, is in the market for a luxury car I know a lot about. We have a great talk about it on the beach, as I keep one eye on the dogs to make sure Cali doesn’t run up and steal someone’s food, which she likes to do.

And Joan and I continue what I like to call, “rich people speak.” I can’t explain it. The tone of the conversation is unique, and uncomfortable. Name-dropping, lots of questions about what you do. A sizing up of the other person. Networking for one’s personal benefit? (Is there any other kind?)

We hang out with them for about 20 minutes or so, and Joan asks us if we’ll be around next weekend (yes), and if we’d like to come over for a glass of wine (yes). Great, she and her husband will stop by later with their contact info.

Two hours later, they show up. I’m standing on the front patio when they pull up. Joan gets out of the SUV and gives me a piece of paper with their names, phone number and address. Again, they’re super nice, which makes me wonder again why they’d want to hang out with me. My wife, I understand. She’s the nicest person in the world. But me? It’s all about the cars, which I’m okay with, and used to. People love to talk about cars, but it’s usually men.

The week goes by. I ask my wife to send Joan a text on Friday. She does. We don’t hear back, but then Joan and her husband show up at our door later that day. She has information on tomorrow’s Artwalk (Did you know about it? Yes. Are you going? Yes. Would you like to hang out and have fish tacos? Yes.)

We talk for 10 minutes and I probably say a bunch of stupid things (to be discussed later in this post). And she tells me she didn’t see the text from my wife.

The next morning rolls around. I send a text to Joan on my wife’s iPhone because my Blackberry is drying out after its swim. But I don’t hear back.

We arrive at the Artwalk with a couple of our friends and I call Joan. It rings but she doesn’t answer and I leave one of those messages where I didn’t plan on leaving a message and sound like a complete idiot. These calls come easily to me.

We attend the Ventura Artwalk, which is a bit of a disappointment, as it’s more “walk” than “art.” I don’t hear back from Joan. And it drives my OCD mind crazy: Why did they come by twice and then stand us up?

I re-think their second visit to our house and analyze everything I said. What did I say wrong? I was nervous for some reason – stretching to be cool? More name dropping? Was it the point I made of how similar Google employees seem to Hollywood people, that they’re special and in the in-crowd? Arrogant? Did I piss off her husband?

I can’t figure it out and my wife doesn’t understand why I’m concerned. She doesn’t care. And it’s not that I cared, as much as, I was curious what went wrong.

We went to the beach at the end of the day with the dogs, and who do I see down the beach? Joan, her husband, and their horny exotic dog. They’re leaving. (Did they see us and leave?) I have a business card for them. So, I follow them home. (Yes, I’m aware that sounds very stalker like, but it was to give them the card, not peer in their windows.)

I catch up to them at their house, as 50% lung function does not make for moving quickly through deep sand.

Again, they were super nice and offer water, which I thought was for me, but was for my yellow lab, though I did think about getting down on all fours to share it.

We talked about the Artwalk. Joan forgot her phone, and they too were disappointed in the lack of artwork. I complimented her husband on an amazing career in Hollywood – I looked it up on the Internet. And I told him he should write a book about the experiences on the different movies. At some point, I slipped in a stupid comment about wanting to make sure everything was good, as I’m prone to saying stupid things. It’s a blur how I threw that comment in. (Come on, I’m insane. I’ll never know where the stuff that comes out of my mouth comes from or why.)

(Now here is the “breaking up with people who probably already broke up with you” part of the story.)

So, Joan asks how long we’ll be in town, as if to hook up with us again. (In a Bronx accent in my head: Oh, no you didn’t. Oh, no you didn’t just say that.) I’m having none of it. No way. She’s just being polite. How many unreturned messages will it lead to? I can read the signs, babe.

“That’s okay,” I say. “We don’t want to bother you. I just stopped by to give you my card in case I can answer any questions about the car. That’s it. “

“Well, we know how to get in touch with you then,” she said.

We say goodbye.

Back to the beach, I went, Luna, hydrated, at my side.

Was it the orange Cheetos stain on my shorts? My week-old, bristly beard and the four long hairs sticking out of my left cheek that I was too lazy to shave or pluck? How stupid did I sound? What mistake did I make?

I’m sure they were relived after I left and looked at each other in agreement that meeting strangers on the beach would be something they would never do again.

BUT THEY CAME TO OUR RENTAL HOUSE TWICE! Twice. I don’t get it.

I’ll never know what happened. And that’s the part that will drive me crazy – for frickin’ ever and a day.

ARGGGGGHHHHH. Damn dogs. Next time, I’m getting two pit bulls, not cute, friendly Labradors.