Disappointment soup with a side of pig meat violation

This is not the actual soup, but a pretty close visual. Photo by: snowpea&bokchoiCC BY 2.0

In a VERY RARE occurrence that guy I married and I found ourselves with a Saturday night with no plans. Aaron used it as an excuse to take me out to a surprise dinner — also a VERY RARE occurrence!

See, we don’t really go out to dinner because we can’t ever agree on a place that we both love on the same level — not since Kate Mantilini‘s. Discovered while we were in couples therapy, Kate Mantilini’s was the first restaurant both of us could find our very favorite things, and we made it a ritual to go every Tuesday, post-therapy. We went so often that we got to know the staff and they us, we got special desserts, and comped wines. It was awesome. We were left restaurant-less after it closed.

Unbeknownst to me, Aaron had discovered that there was in fact ANOTHER Kate Mantilini’s in Woodland Hills (deeeeeeep in the Valley), and he kept it a secret from me so that one evening he could surprise me. That was this evening! He told me to get dressed up, we were going on a date.

My heart fluttered, and my black dress came out of the closet. I was stoked. This was special. Continue reading →

Of ice buckets, ALS, and missing grandmothers

My father Allen Tharpe took the “ALS ice bucket challenge” today. While it was hilarious, it was also sad…

His mother, my grandmother whom I never got to meet (but apparently very much resemble) died from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. That, in short, FUCKING SUCKS. June Tharpe was — from what I’ve learned over the years — a bad-ass. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to meet her just once, let alone to have gotten to deeply know and be shaped by her, as I have with my other wonderful grandmother.

I admit, I’ve been confused by the challenge. So… every time someone dumps water on their head ALS doesn’t get money? (Thankfully, like my father, people have been doing both.) And I’ve cringed watching people from California waste gallons of water during a drought. (So I made sure my father didn’t challenge anyone from Cali.)

But what can not be confused, what doesn’t make me cringe, is that ALS research just received something like 11 MILLION dollars. That is amazing. That is wonderful.

That gives me hope that one day another girl won’t have to cry every time she’s reminded of the bad-ass grandma she so much resembles that she never got to even meet. It gives me hope that another child won’t have to, not just watch, but nurse his dying mother whose body is giving out way before her time. Because with all these ice buckets and donations, one day, hopefully soon, we may be that much closer to finding a cure to this shitty no good disease.

Anyway, all this to say, I just skipped the ice bucket and donated money to ALS research, and if you want to do so as well, here’s the link: http://alsa.org/donate

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.


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.
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.