Friday, June 27, 2008

Packing nostalgia

I was going through my computer files at work on Friday and came across a blurb I wrote for my Friendster page (remember Friendster?) almost a year and a half ago.

It reads:

"I'm a reporter for a weekly in the middle of nowhere, California. Long story how I ended up here, but here I am. After six months in the Central Valley, here's my report: this place has enough strip malls, developers, gay-bashers and manly-man pickups to keep me consistently aware that I'm out of my element. But it's nice in its own way - there are still fields full of almond trees, and cows, and people talk to you on the street. Plus I'm writing for a living, and people are reading what I have to say. So that's pretty damn cool."

As I sit here in a skeleton of my bedroom, wondrous that all my worldly belongings may actually fit into one car tomorrow, I can't think of a better way to describe it.

You know what's weird? I'm going to miss this place.

Monday, June 9, 2008

A Wal-Mart find: Eat this, not that

Watch out, bikini season, here I come.

(You can burn fat and build the body you want – not by eating less, but by making smart, health food choices. And now, the right choices are simple! ... Whether you’re in the frozen food aisle, the fast-food drive-thru, the local Olive Garden or EVEN IN YOUR OWN KITCHEN, you’re faced with dozens of food choices every single day.)

(Did you know an Egg McMuffin is a healthier breakfast choice than a bagel? (You’ll save 210 calories!))

And we're sold.

Thank you, David Zinczenko, for delaying my stroke.

Friday, June 6, 2008

An open letter to my Buick

I remember the first time I laid eyes on you, Buick. It was August 2006 in E's yard in Portland. You were square and maroon and very unsexy - not at all what I had in mind. "No way," was my reaction. "My grandfather owned that car."

It was a hard sell, I admit. What I really wanted was that cute little Cabrio - a zippy little number with the top down - but in the end I came back to you, Buick. I told myself there was something poignant about cruising you into this next, uncertain, suburban phase of my life. The truer truth was, I liked your $900 price tag.

I didn't think I'd have you very long, anyway, judging from the deep growl you unfurled whenever you were asked to do anything. I crossed my fingers that you would even get me and my two suitcases down the coast and past the feeble fountain at the Tracy offramp.

But you got me there, in a glorious, sun-filled, music-blaring drive - I was on my way to love, after all. To the California border, where the fog split and the sun poured down with such immediacy that I had to laugh aloud, and on, southward, into the state's concrete belly.

You got me there. And then you got me through county flats, time and time again, past farms and smokestacks to a newspaper job that I did not know I could do; you got me through random, winding, developer-named streets on going-nowhere drives in some of the saddest, lostest moments of my life; you got me home on dark, twisting highways after late nights in San Francisco when I should have stayed the night. You got me where I had to be, every time.

If you had any luster to begin with, Buick, I've worn it out of you for sure. Your blinker was the hardest to stomach, seeing it dangling out of its socket like an eye. I gouged you on a dumpster next, with that embarrassed woman looking on - we just laughed and waved. Finally the mean Central Valley sun sizzled your rear view mirror clean off, leaving just a square of old epoxy in its place. Along the way, your grumbling got grumblier. Your rattling got rattlier. You've become quite the sight to behold, but still you go on, and I thank you for it.

The truth is, I think we might not have been friends a few years ago. I can't say exactly how I've changed, but I suspect you were as much the cause as the effect.

I say all this, Buick, because we've got another journey coming up. In a couple weeks I'll pack you full of everything you'll hold. Bailey will ride shotgun, we'll plug my iPod in your tape deck, and we'll drive north this time. I know you're tired, but I hope you'll stick with me through another trip. And I hope, this time, we reach that border and the fog closes up around us like a zipper.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Manteca PD

First, my apologies for this period of boringness on my blog. For a few days there, I was throwing all my creative juices toward writing a 10-minute play, and then I had two 12-hour work days, and now I think I'm getting sick. Exuses, excuses.

So onto the police blotter. Once a week, I go down to the police station and pick up a thick pile of paper with the hundreds of police calls received that week, and pick out the best to print in the paper.

Sometimes there's some really weird stuff in there. Here are a couple:

May 26, 8:16 a.m.: A woman on the 1400 block of Mezenen Place called to report that someone had killed a rat, spread its blood all over her Ford Mustang and left the rat under the windshield wiper.

May 22, 5:15 a.m.: A woman called from the 1200 block of Northgate Drive to report that her ex-boyfriend had stolen her “dildo” and “X-rated movies.” The caller said her boyfriend’s name was Dean. (Printing this one got us several angry phone calls, including one from the woman with the missing dildo.)

May 16, 1:06 p.m.: A woman called from Planet Beach, 1168 E. Yosemite Ave., to report that a white man had been sleeping on the sidewalk in front of the store since 8 a.m.

May 19, 10:46 p.m.: A man called from the Western Mobile Home Park, 1130 W. Yosemite Ave., and said he thought someone was stealing his pain meds and coffee and soup.

May 5: Someone on the 8300 block of East Southland Road said someone had stolen 300 bales of hay.

Monday, June 2, 2008

That's a conversation stopper

Interview faux pas, #76:

Her: Both my parents died when I was 18, so...
Me: Both your parents died when you were 18? How did that happen?
Her: Murder-suicide. My mother tried to leave my father, so he shot her and then he shot himself.

(awkward pause)

Me: So that must've been rough.