Buying a car, burying a dog, and vacation-induced PTSD

I’m so ready for this week to be over. These last three weeks have been incredibly stressful and emotionally draining for me.

My last moment with Julius after eight years together.

My last moment with Julius after eight years together.

First, my week of intense car shopping…

I spent five whole days car shopping with my dad. Almost non-stop. I enjoyed the part where I got to spend all that time with my dad, and learn a WHOLE lot about the car buying process. I didn’t, however, enjoy the process of car shopping. I also didn’t enjoy the panic attacks in the middle of a Honda showroom, and the Mazda showroom. And the amount of crying in public I did when I finally sold Julius, my Mini Cooper that I’ve had for eight years. But at the end, I wound up with the perfect car. I totally thought I was going to get a used small SUV that I felt kind of “meh” about. But ended up with a brand new Subaru that I’m over-the-moon for.

photo

I seriously love my new car. She’s perfect for me in every way: My favorite color, can fit my entire family, and with such a smoother ride. It’s basically like Julius on steroids! It was also going to be so much more comfortable riding experience for my aging family dog, Ayla. I that was going to be the happy ending to a looong week of stress.

But the very next day, Ayla died after thirteen years of love and laughter. This completely devastated me for two reasons: I miss her so much, and I had to watch Elsa, my loooongtime housekeeper, grieve harder than anyone.

That started my week of intense sadness…

Continue reading

Icing my knee is making me want strawberries!

Thankfully I saved the ice thingy from when my mom in law sent me chocolate-covered strawberries. It's coming in handy for my knee injury. It's also making me want strawberries.It’s funny. I can lie on my ass all day long and LOVE every minute of it… when it’s a choice, or it’s something that I shouldn’t really be doing. Now that I’m laid up in bed with a painfully injured knee, I can’t STAND not moving!

I did something today to my knee that I can’t understand. I was working out with Robin, and I lifted my knee and all of a sudden I felt a sharp pain. I waited for it to subside and it never did, it just kept getting more and more painful. Robin helped me out immediately — getting me ice and stuff — and I figured it was something that would just get better in a few minutes. But it didn’t, and I had to call off the training session.

Robin’s husband John, whom I recently helped home from the hospital after his second knee surgery, grew concerned the moment he saw me walking out of their apartment. “Is that how you were walking when you came in here?” he asked. Which I had to laugh at, because I was walking like I had a peg leg. NO! I’m in pain! But I’ll be okay.

“No you’re not.” He said and sat me down to do some of the tests his doctor did for his knees. Not everything he did hurt, but some things did, and John was still concerned that it was a tear.

Right now he’s trying to convince me to get an MRI as well as making calls to his knee people to see what they can do for a no-insurance-having loser. And I’m trying to convince him that I can’t afford to get doctors involved. And I’m trying to convince my knee to get over it’s little temper tantrum so I can get back to avoiding getting off my ass instead of being forced to be here.

So if you’ve got some, send some positive energy brain waves out to my stupid knee, so this all ends up being a bad sprain. Think happy no-tear thoughts!

Saying goodbye: Breaking up the Norton Gang

The only photo of the entire Norton Gang. (L-R: Coco, Megan, Aaron, Ari, Amy, and Tristan. Bottom row: Chips and Maybelle.)

Since my last blog was about the possibility of moving, I thought I’d talk about a couple that actually made it out of the Norton building and moved on to bigger and better things. My best friend since I was two-years-old, Amy, and her husband Ari took off last week to move to THEIR NEW HOME in South Carolina! Yup, those two crazy kids bought themselves a home. If anything makes you hate Los Angeles real estate, it’s seeing what your friends and family can buy in any other state for a home price that DOESN’T EVEN EXIST here.

Anywhoo. The thing is, Amy and I have never lived more than an hour (or two in traffic) away from each other in our lives. Now she’s on the other side of the country. My heart is broken. Every day I have to walk by the empty apartment that used to be mine and then theirs, and I feel like crying. The painters came the other day to re-paint it and now it doesn’t even smell like them anymore. I feel sad and lonely and… well… jealous.

Family dog pile: Ari, Amy, Maybelle, and Chips.

I have dreams of grabbing my husband and our pets, packing up all our shit and driving off together into the future (and out of LA), just as Amy and Ari did. But that doesn’t keep me from being happy for them! I do miss my childhood-to-adulthood friend and her awesome husband. But, as my friend Lisa put it, “You know they are just making the country a smaller place by going.” And that made both Amy and me feel a bit better about the preveiously-unexperienced miles between us.

And now here are some photos just make this blog post a little more sappy and sad… Continue reading

RIP Birdie Lee

Another death in my life… this time it was my great aunt. But it’s sad and it’s not at the same time. She was ready to go, ya know? She spent the last few months of her loooong life in a hospital bed, barely able to speak. It actually pained me more to see her like that, then to know that she was… well… wherever one goes when they pass.

Here’s a picture of me from the trip…

You can see the rest of my Shreveport photos here. I didn’t photograph Birdie Lee because, well, I didn’t think it was appropriate, though, in hindsight, I kind of wish I did. All I have now are memories.

My favorite memory of that trip and of Aunt Birdie Lee was when we went to visit her in the hospital. We had heard that, aside from her NOT being dead, she was actually communicating and seemed to be doing better. Since she couldn’t speak, her only way of communicating was by raising her hands. So we’d ask her a question like, “Can you here me? If you can raise your hand.” And she’d raise one bony, trembling, little hand, which was pretty unbelievable. Out of excitment, my cousin Dana starting asking her all sorts of questions just to see her respond. It made us all happy. “Are you tired?” She’d raise her hand. “Are you thirsty?” She’d raise her hand. “Would you like some water?” She’d raise her hand. Then Dana asked, “Aunt Birdie Lee, would you like a glass of wine?” And she not only raised her hand, but she raised BOTH of her hands and held them both waaaaay up high. Everyone in the room started laughing hysterically through our tears. I love that she kept her wonderful sense of humor till the very end.

She was a great woman. She is and will be missed very much. I hope wherever she is now she’s not in pain anymore, and she has unlimited glasses of good wine and great company.

RIP Paul Lewis

My neighbor died about a week ago. His name was Paul. Paul was this cool old guy that lived right across from me — our doors face each other. 

reminders of Paul

This is what’s left of Paul in my life. The spots on the railing that have been used so much (as it got harder and harder for him to make it up and down the stairs) that it wore through the top layer of black paint down to the green that it used to be. It’s sad and it’s weird and am even missing the smell of stale cigarettes that used to come wafting out of his door.

I don’t really have much to say in this post about Paul because I didn’t really know him, but I thought I should document this somehow.

Also this twitter exchange made me smile…

@meganfinley First my neighbor Paul, now Les Paul. :( RIP you old badasses.

@PFTompkins @meganfinley AM I NEXT?!

Aloha means goodbye.

Please stop asking me about Maui…


For the past 4 years I’ve been focusing almost all of my energy and thoughts on one thing. It was my comfort when things got tough, it was something to daydream about when I was bored or walking the dog or needed a little escape. It was the key to my success, I was (and still am) convinced of that. And the idea of it kept me going on a day to day basis.  That thing was Maui. Moving to Maui, living in Maui and working in Maui. And now that dream is dead.

And I got so close! After getting married there my father asked us to look at properties on our honeymoon. And we found our dream home! And my parents put a down payment on it with the understanding that they would be renting it out until Aaron and I could move there and take over the mortgage. And we had our future looking pretty good even if our present was pretty shitty.

Aaron keeps getting laid off from jobs and I can’t even find a one. And our apartment is always messy and our dog doesn’t have a yard. My asthma has gotten so bad that I can’t EVER breathe. And we’re both so tired of living in LA. Seriously fuck LA. But there was always Maui.
And then there was The Shack. This shining beacon of hope for our future lives. But it’s gone now. The Shack is not ours anymore and will never be.

Without going into a lot of detail, because I’m probably already in trouble just for writing this — my mom lives in it now. That’s my mom’s place and not mine. And now Maui is this place of negativity that just hurts to much to even think about. The house has been made uglier than it used to be and changed so much that it wouldn’t work for me and Aaron anymore anyway. And we’ve had to cancel our plans to go back in October to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary and I’m not sure when or if we’ll ever be back.
We need to focus on a new dream now. Whatever that is. I’m not sure where we’re going to end up. It’s not going to be the place where we wanted to end up, but does anyone ever really? I mean, dreams are just that, right? A dream. This one just happened to turn into a nightmare.

Victim of touring

Today my husband and I both said goodbye to our best friends and two band mates as they all left for three months to go on tour. It really sucks and we’re going to miss them a ton. 

But if any of you out there are going to catch any of these shows try to say hi to our buddies for us…

The Airborn Toxic Event — say hi to the drummer, Daren, for us. He’s Aaron’s best friend and was best man our wedding.

The Henry Clay People (opening for Airborn) — say hi to Jonathan for us, I think he’s playing guitar? I don’t remember, anyway, he’s in our band The Californian.

Lenka — say hi to the bass player, Erik, and the guitar/keys player, John. Erik is my bestest friend and John is our lead singer of our band and one of my favorite people.

You can see my two buddies here with Lenka on last nights Jimmy Kimmel Live…

On the one hand, of course I’m happy for my friends making money doing what they love, becoming rock stars and such, on the other hand… I WANT MY FRIENDS BACK!!!

Go to Lar- go to Lar- go to Largo

Jon Brion, 5/2/08

photo by ilamya on flickr.

The last nights at (the old) Largo have been really emotional. I think Paul put it best when he said the last Jon Brion night was like the wake and his show the next night was like the baby shower.

The last Jon Brion show was AMAZING. One of the best Largo shows ever. I put it up there with the Shark-a-thon. What made it so wonderful was that everyone came out- Gruber, PFT, Benmont, Sara and Sean Watkins, Gabe, Flight of the Conchords, Fiona Apple, E, Ron Lynch, Sebastian, etc. And even the staff got into the act! Griffee performed a skit with Gruber, much like they did at Shark-a-thon and even Flanagan! Flanny not only played trumpet at the beginning of the show, but closed the show playing guitar and singing “All is Full of Love” with Jon on the piano. Amazing. We were all really proud of him, he did NOT even want to go up on stage at the end. Jon literally dragged him. But he was awesome and everyone really appreciated it.

Aaron out of the booth and Robert in the booth.

Though the show was one of the best I’ve seen in my five years of going to Largo, it was what was happening off stage that I really enjoyed the most. Aaron didn’t have to work that night so he got to relax at Largo for once. So we were both coming and going out the back door and wandering around socializing. I would watch a little of Jon and then go meet up with Aaron and Gruber out back and share a few laughs. Then go inside and have a drink with Paul, then go up to the podium to giggle with Mike and then go back to bar to hang out with the girls who were actually working.  And for one night it was okay to do that! For one night Flanny just let everyone do whatever they wanted to do. For one night Flanny didn’t tell us to shut up or stand still or give us dirty looks when we burst out in laughter. In fact Flanny was the one who was making most of the noise!! Flanagan was laughing so hard that he was in tears in the back. He was resting his head against the sound booth and just sobbing with quiet laughter- thereby making everyone else around him laugh. And of course, this is all during a quiet song.

Griffee, Alex, Nicole & Flanny

Not only did we laugh but we goofed off, we hung out, we drank, we sang along to “Hang on Sloopy,” we ate cookies, we fought to get a pieces of pizza, we quietly listened to how amazing Jon is, we totally ignored how amazing Jon is, Fiona danced like an excited puppy, Loretta hugged everyone, Flanny couldn’t stop laughing, Ellen was slammed the entire night, Scott kept walking in and out of the booth shaking his head, Paul and I made fun of Scott for that, Sara and I talked about weddings, Alex told me about the baby shower she attended for Jill (who used to work there), Aaron enjoyed his free time with his friends, we all caught a case of the giggles, and when Jon ended his set with a tearful speech we all cried with him.

Guillermo.

Aaron’s been very stoic this entire time. He hasn’t been sad, he said he’s “over it.” He’s been working there for six years and he’s ready to say goodbye to that “shitty building.” But last night we all had a reason to cry when Jon gave his speech, we all found and remembered the things we would miss about that particular “shitty building.” For Aaron it was when he lifted up the bar top for Guillermo. He realized then that it would be the last time he’d ever do that for him, and it would likely be the last time he’d ever help Guillermo with much of anything. In the new Largo the sound booth is isolated in the back of theatre, above the audience. There won’t be much interaction with the rest of the staff for Aaron anymore. And it made him finally break the stoicism and feel something.

For me it was the fact that this little club, and this wonderful show, was the reason I met the man I’m going to marry. If it wasn’t for Jon Brion shows every Thursday and Friday during my college years I would have never have gotten to know Aaron. And every time I walk into that space I think about how far I’ve come since college, how much my life has changed and what a HUGE roll Largo had to do with it.  I cried when Jon’s show ended as I thought about what he and what this theater had given me.

last night @ Largo (fairfax)

Totes showing off the ring on the Largo piano. ;)

The next night, at the Paul F Tompkin’s show, the usual suspects were back again. And the show was great. We were all having too good of a time to get sad. Paul regaled us with his favorite Largo memories, including a crying fit in the alley, a strange request for Jon from Flanagan (“Will and Grace” DVD menu!), and suffering the wrath of the audience for clapping at the wrong the moment. There was also singing, or course! Paul took a request for the first time and paid for his “Will and Grace DVD menu” story when someone requested “Shark Week.” So Paul ad-libbed a “Shark Week” song. Brilliant.

Empty booth.

Sean and Sarah and Jon and Benmont and Paul all sang together. And then Fiona announced that she had written a song about Largo. She she played it for us. It was wonderfully sweet. Probably the best moment of the night. In her song she mentioned almost everyone that was there that night, even Guillermo! It was a song about how when you come to Largo you feel like you’re visiting family, and it’s a good pick me up for when your feeling sad and alone- just walk through those doors and your surrounded by people who know and love you. My favorite line from her song is something like “When ‘Tench is on the bench I want to be the piano.” But my favorite part was the chorus where she just repeated “Go to Lar- go to Lar- go to Largo.” It made us all smile.

And then Paul ended his show, like he always does, and always will do, by singing “Danny Boy.” And then it was over.

last night @ largo (fairfax)

to be continued…

Continued on May 5th- the last night of Largo…

It’s been a ridiculously emotional night. I’ve been silently crying since I walked down the alleyway towards my car.

I took so many pictures that Aaron is actually mad at me. But I don’t care. This evening meant a lot to me and one day he’ll be happy that I took all these pictures.

When I have more time and I’m less sad I will write more and maybe add more photos. But for now there’s this…


(update: that used to be a video of Fiona singing the last song at Largo but I got BIG trouble for this and had to take it down. Funny thing having Fiona Apple mad at me. Ah well, it was amazing while it lasted.

last night @ Largo (fairfax)

Last look at old Largo.

To see more pictures from the last night check out my Last night at Largo set on Flickr.

Too close to home…

I found out about the fatal shark attack in San Diego today when I got a phone call from a reporter at CBS wanting to get Aaron’s reaction to the whole thing. Apparently the reporter showed up with a news van at our apartment building this morning, but Aaron and I weren’t home.
I found out from her that 66-year-old Dave Martin was swimming 150 feet from shore, training for a triathalon, when he was attacked by a great white. Apparently the shark bit into both of his legs. There are so man similarities between his story and Aaron’s that it’s off-putting to say the least, like the distance and the area of attack. But something else she told me really got to me on a disturbing level. Apparently the great white bit into Dave Martin’s femoral artery causing him to bleed out rapidly and ultimately causing his death. 

I don’t often share with people, mostly because sometimes it’s too scary to even think about, but if Aaron’s “puka” (what we call the puncture wound near his knee) missed severing his femoral artery by just 1 inch. 
One of the articles was accompanied by this picture of a despondant relative of the victim…

This picture tears me up inside in ways I can’t even begin to explain. This picture seriously could have been me 6 months ago. And believe me, it’s a nightmare that plays out in my head more often than I’d like to admit. Almost every night before I fall asleep I re-live the shark attack, and often times my mind takes me on the “what if it had been worse” journey. I would imagine there would have been a picture taken of me that looked a lot like this one. And every part of me wants to reach out to her and the other members of his family to tell them that I am soooo sorry. I know how shocked and scared and vulnerable and confused and angry they’re feeling. And it sucks. I’m sorry i can’t be more poetic than that right now. It just plain fucking sucks. Even with my loved one safe at home I still have nightmares and bouts of depression over the attack. I can’t even imagine what it will be like for his loved ones.
Well, that’s all I can take for right now. I just had to get this off my chest. Once again my heart goes out to Dave Martin and his family. He seemed like an amazing guy, and in fact, if you look into it, it seems that most shark attack victims are very special people.