Monday, April 25, 2011

do you iron your pillowcases?

I do.

Let me explain. There were a good 2-3 years when my clean laundry sat (crumpled, haphazardly dumped, in sad twisted poses) in a heap on an extra bed, and I would fish through it each morning to find the least wrinkled item to wear, while my dirty laundry sat (all contorted, in a much sadder fate) in a pile next to the washing machine, waiting to be thrown in when the earlier mentioned pile dwindled. And then one day, I woke up with a crease on my face from having slept all night on the same fold in my pillow. I’ve woken up with said crease many times before, but for whatever reason, this one managed to mock me into submission. I have been ironing my pillowcases diligently since, along with my (occasionally used) tablecloths, my clothes (even my cotton tee shirts!) and the rest of my what-nots (I draw the line at underwear, I am not that OCD… yet.)

Let me explain some more. I find the way fabric responds to heat simply marvelous. It turns itself up towards the heat like a hopeful Beverly Hills housewife to the Botox needle, and the iron consistently delivers on its promise of smoothness and rejuvenation. I find that very reassuring. Nowadays, my pillowcases look better than ever: crisp, sharp, and luxurious. My tee shirts look newer far longer than their natural expiration date. Unless you’re a card-carrying member of the 100% polyester club, you know what I mean.

Side note: I read somewhere that Valentino (of the runway and multi-face-lifted fame) had his maids (it’s ok, he can afford them) iron his beddings twice a day. Or was it once daily? I don’t remember exactly. Still extravagant though, considering how many items this would entail (don’t forget to count the dust ruffles). I’m not sounding so bad now, am I? I would have had them done twice if I were him. 
-- Might as well go big or go home (Laurie, 2011).

Of course once I mastered the art of ironing everything, it was only a short manic stroll to folding everything with extreme fervor. I bought one of those gizmos that help you fold varying articles of clothing (and other textiles too, if one is so inclined) to the same-sized rectangular shape, every time. You should see my impeccably organized drawers! It’s like a Gap store threw up all over them. But wait, there’s more. I started thinking about how I wear my favorite tee shirt, for example, wash it carefully, iron it lovingly, and fold it methodically only to wear it again and again, at the expense of all the others, because when I put it away, I automatically put it at the top of the pile. Right? No! Logically, I must put it at the bottom of the pile, to give another shirt a chance to get out more. 

Once I started making amends for this oversight, I inevitably realized that this logic must apply to all my drawer dwellers (ex: my underwear, socks, and pajamas) but also to my closet citizens (ex: pants, shirts, dresses, jackets) everything, EVERYTHING! Dishes, cups, forks, dishtowels, anything, ANYTHING belonging to a set that gets put back after use must be alternated for equal usage. I simply could no longer keep piling things up according to convenience. The routine of emptying the dishwasher became anything but.

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Do you iron your pillowcases? Are you more likely to do so now? Though I don’t expect you to convert to my brand of “ironism” after reading this, I can promise you with a degree of certainty that you will be nevertheless affected by my current zeal with orderliness and preservation. (I don’t know why, but human nature precludes us from wasting. Maybe it’s to conserve our scarce resources, a rudimentary form of survival, maybe it’s a job our moms did well, who knows?) Now that I have made you aware of the rampant illogic of your ways, you will not be able to just stuff an armful of Downey-fragrant laundry in the drawer, or spotless coffee cups in the cupboard, and call it a day. You will catch yourself thinking about what you just read, mid-motion, and tempted as you will be to just ignore your little inner voice taunting you (much like I vainly attempted to shut mine), you will not be able to just put things away randomly. You don’t think so? Go ahead, I dare you!

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P.S. In case you didn't read my last post, this is the iron that will be in my hot little hands soon, very soon! You can now surmise my utter glee.

P.P.S. In case anyone is interested in what I want for the next mother's day/domestic goddess/birthday/xmas gift, this Valentino purse would be a very nice addition to my little collection. The dude may not understand the proper usage of tanning products but he sure knows his satchels!

Monday, April 18, 2011

You get a bar! YOU get a bar!!! YOU ALL GET A BAR!!!!

A few days ago, I was invited (VIP guest no less) to be an audience member for The Talk. Better, I was to visit the show on the day that Dr. Gadget was on, which meant that I would (and did) go home with one of each of the products demonstrated on the show. More better (as my daughter is fond of shouting when I add chocolate sprinkles to her ice cream), it was the biggest giveaway to date on the show! I was sent home with top-of-the-line latest must-have gadgets: a steam mop that turns into a hand steamer (manna for a wrinkle-free-nut like me), a super light and practical stroller (which I apparently have to sell on ebay since no one I know has small kids or needs strollers), a carry-on bag on wheels that converts into a handy-dandy seat (for the fortunate under-250lbs humans), a steam-iron that could put a serious singe into any fabric (or anything, really), and, the piece de resistance, “the world’s first complete, portable bar and entertainment system” which includes the bar, the stools, an umbrella, a cooler and a changeable banner to match any décor (there may be more but they had me at the portable bar) (I couldn't download a picture for it but trust me, it's a beaut!)

What does that mean for the average citizen? Bubkas.

Let me explain. The unfortunate masses of retired matrons who actually watch the show, are fans, and patiently wait to get tickets then wait in line to get on the show, any other day of the month than that day, get nothing. Except the joy of seeing their idols from a very safe distance (say hello to the healthily beefed bodyguards keeping strict vigil), show their appreciation by clapping on command, and going home hoarse from ooooh-ing and aaaah-ing on cue. My mother got dragged into one such similar show by a friend of hers and all she brought home were red hands, a sore throat, and a bag of popcorn (thus her insistence that logically, she deserves the carry-on-seat-thingamagingie). I was invited specifically for this show on this day because of the giveaways, and though very appreciative to my host who could have picked anyone else upon whom to splurge this favor, I am painfully aware that this is a very uncommon occurrence for most of us simple non-show biz schlobs.

Let me explain some more. The rich and famous get it all: best tables at restaurants (sans reservations), front of the line (better yet no line at all), best seats at any show or event, and freebees galore! The premise is fairly simple and oh-so-marketing clever: Knowing that so-and-so is using a particular product will entice fans to go purchase said product. And many do, thus the clever part. Meanwhile, your typical talk show host, even the run of the mill obscure one, has x-boxes and wii-s coming out of their attractive wazoo… whilst the poor nerds who would gladly exchange their first-born for a close-up glimpse of said products, get nothing. Delighted as I am for their success, for which I’m certain they work (modestly) hard, any one of the Leah Reminis, Sara Gilberts, Sharon Osbournes, Holly Robinson-Peetes, or Julie Chens of the world could comfortably afford any one of the products bestowed upon them as frequently as crumpled dollar bills on a pole-dancer. So why do they get all the loot while we get nothing for being loyal merchandise buyers who basically put these companies on the map and generated billions of profits for them? I dunno. But I donhafta like it.

I was given the Kindle (first generation, white, monochrome) as a present a little while ago. I in turn bought it as a present to my nearest/dearest in mutual reciprocation. I was utterly shocked when I got word that the (what is it now? fourth?) latest generation of Kindle is out, has so many more features than its pioneering ancestor and, adding salt to injury, you can now play games on them! FOR HALF THE PRICE!!! I understand that Amazon had to cut the Kindle price to rival those of the Nooks and iBooks and Whatnots with their competing reading tablets, but paying twice as much for the privilege of using a comparatively inferior product less than 6 months earlier than everyone else??? COME ON!!!

On the other hand, do you think that maybe karma’s magnanimous hand made up for my overpaying for the Kindle by gifting me with these generous (and awesome) goodies? If so, kindly disregard the above rant. 


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Monday, April 11, 2011

full of sound and fury

There’s something about Las Vegas, especially for southern Californians. Whether you or one of your friends are turning 21, 40 or 65 (or any birthday really), getting married or divorced, getting ready to be married or divorced, or just want a little uninhibited getaway, if you live in/around Los Angeles, Vegas will always make the top of the list. It’s money! (not as in gambling, but more as an obscure reference to the movie Swingers which, in 1996, gave Vegas its proper due) (and by the way, a word of caution about Googling that movie: do so at your own risk and be prepared to see much more than you bargained for) (unless you are into that sort of thing) (“not that there’s anything wrong with that”).

As a bona fide Angelina, I have trekked thattaway many times, for nearly all of the above mentioned reasons. In fact, I was just there last weekend. There was nothing particularly different about this trip, except everything!
Let me explain. From the plane, as we geared for landing, it was obvious that Vegas had sort of exploded in the last few years. In the not-so-distant past, the skyline was fairly easy to recognize even from 10,000 feet above ground: a little patch of water (the lake at which point the plane turns around for the landing), a few protruding themed casinos/hotels (i.e. Vegas proper), the odd building here and there (older casinos that only few desperados now frequent, mostly for the cheap rooms and the cheaper buffets), and a few sparse neighborhoods surrounding them (home to the people who sleep there after dealing and shuffling all day) amidst a mostly flat and arid topography.

olden days

Now it’s a strand (of the interlocking DNA kind) of buildings vying for position in a hopelessly tight space almost climbing unto each other to show off their glittery architectural leg-up over the competition (architectural may be a stretch), and seemingly endless rows of houses radiating outwards in every which direction, making it almost impossible to call it an oasis in the desert. When you do finish landing and are deposed in front of the hotel of your choice (typically the latest addition not entirely dissimilar to its predecessors... no need for themes now, only a funky name and a funkier PR spin will suffice), the general feeling of overwhelming claustrophobia that all these additions engender clings in the air like unseasonal humidity, along with desperation, hope, fear, greed, regret and a few other ones from the spectrum of human feelings.

golden days
Let me explain some more. The casinos themselves have changed drastically and arguably not for the better. Sure, on the surface they all look the same and alike: rows of tables for roulette, poker, blackjack, whathaveyou; a small army of slot machines that clink and flash at random; and lounges in between, for those who have no money left for either one or the other. But look closely and what you will see is technology  covertly inducing brain coma under the guise of entertainment.
Just take the generic slot machine, for example.

1)      slot to accept your money,
2)      screen where three or four icons must match to deliver a prize,
3)      a lever to activate the play, and
4)      a chair where one parks one’s fanny to extract as much money with as little cost and effort as possible from the machine.

So to improve the experience, we now have:
1)      a slot that accepts your money, a slot that accepts your printed coupon (money given to you by another machine, no buckets anywhere in sights), and a slot that when inserted with the appropriate card, gives you reward points that you basically have to accumulate for months and years to get a half-way decent break on anything, should you ever come back to the same casino (see above for comment on latest additions),
2)      the screen might still measure more or less the same but instead of matching three or four, now you have virtually hundreds of ways you can win (if one considers getting an extended ring for a 10-pointer a win, because when you do the math, you realize you actually played 250 points to get it) with the matching lines crossing and zigzagging in unreal patterns, to the point where you furtively look at your neighbor to glean if they have any knowledge of the game and realize once you see their open-mouthed expression, with a somewhat superior satisfaction, that they are just as clueless as you. And don’t get me started on the downright sadistic conditions required to get the “spin”, the clocklike apparatus perched on top of the machine, requiring one to crank one’s neck and hope the dial lands on the most valued icon, then realizing that it doesn’t necessarily translate into equivalent dollars and cents,
3)      the lever is still there but it’s sort of like your appendix, you don’t need it anymore: there are buttons to push, many, many buttons that allow you, albeit obscurely, to turn your 1 cent game into one costing you $2.50, with which you MAY hit the progressive jackpot (does anyone actually win that? EVER?),
4)      the chair is much more comfortable, I give you that, with a headrest (to accommodate for the bonus spins, as stated above) and… wait for it… it vibrates! In sync! With your 10-point win! Just in case all the bells and whistles and graphics weren’t quite capable of making that point independently.  A cacophonous chorus ensues, every time someone hits some combination of  something. Now take that and multiply that by .. a lot.. and you'll get the gist.
Oh, I almost forgot about the part where you can now touch the screen to bet on the machine. And I can promise you that there are very few transactions erred on these machines… they are almost idiot-proof. This, in a country where hanging chads decided a presidency not so long ago. Need I say more?
When they say “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”, I think they mostly mean your money. You may come and go, have a laugh or two, find God right before rolling those dice, and leave with a plan for a complete redo of your game plan for next time, but one thing is certain, your money is sure staying behind. And Vegas is spending it fast.

P.S.  In the spirit of full disclosure, this blogger would be remiss if she didn’t divulge that on this very same recent trip, plans were made to go back for one favorite niece’s 21st birthday, next summer.

Monday, April 4, 2011

la vie en gris

Let me explain. This is not a diametrically opposed view from the traditional “la vie en rose” perspective, i.e. viewing life with rose-colored lenses where everyone/everything is the best it can be. This is actually a perspective that espouses the happy middle… that everything is not always black or white, on the contrary, most everything falls in between, the gray area.

Let me explain some more. For Lent this year, I wanted to go the chicken route. No, not eliminating chicken from my diet. More like I-don’t-want-to-deprive-myself-of-any-food-route, my draconian diet already doing a fine job at dictating the inherent deprivation necessary to shed the pounds that automatically accumulate when your food is good enough to eat. So I chickened out and opted for a mental Lent. My choice was gossip. Yes, even though I try to be a good girl and not whisper mean comments about the latest actions of the social bitches present almost everywhere in life, I too succumb once in a while and give in to the utter pleasure of pointing out other people’s shortcomings. Sure it makes me feel superior about mine, but inevitably it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, hence the Lent choice. I figured a good 40 days would cleanse me for good or at least offset my quota of big-mouthedness.

I tried. I really tried. I kept replaying the familiar mother-mantra “if you can’t say anything nice about somebody, don’t say anything at all” in my head every time I was asked a question or a lull in the conversation indicated that it was my turn to chime in. I resisted. I really did. I said “interesting” a lot, a nice little ambiguous word that would indicate interest yet keep my real opinion a blur. But eventually I succumbed. Eventually is actually a euphemism for really fast: I failed at Lent on my second day. Even giving up French fries had fared better. This was eye-opening to me. I wasn’t physically capable of not talking about others for more than one day! Was I doomed to be a bad girl all my life? I am an adult, how can I not be able to control myself for more than a day? Worse, I realized that eliminating gossip altogether set the stage for a full-on, no holds-barred narcissism. So the battle between Me, me, me versus They, they, they was set, and apparently They, they, they won.

In an effort to save myself from eternal damnation, I started thinking about the impossibility of this Lent choice. No Lent allows for complete elimination of ALL food, ALL sustenance, right? So eliminating ALL gossip should be therefore equivalent, no? We are a social species. We ARE! Otherwise, why am I writing this and sending it for all cyberspace (okay, fine, arguably a few people who will perhaps stumble on this maiden post by random happenstance) and not in my cozy little private diary? Every chance we get, we reach out to others and allow others to influence us. There are very few true hermits amongst us, and most often than not, we qualify them as genuine nutcases (and they often are) and either ignore them or persecute them. The rest of us are so enmeshed in each others’ lives that we cannot finish a single conversation with one another without quoting, mentioning, or generally referring to someone else. I don’t want to be a social outcast, I’m already socially awkward enough to be on the borderline. But more importantly, I have opinions that I want to share. I don’t want to lie (that’s another sin for an entirely other blog) so what am I to do? The solution hit me like a ton of bricks: La vie en gris!

Gray has always been my favorite color, aesthetically (I’m starting to realize I am a lot deeper than I initially thought.) That was a very judicious choice, because gray is the perfect color for everything! Happy medium, everything in moderation, meet in the middle, take-a-penny-leave-a-penny, it’s ALL about the gray. When you can’t do without one or the other, take them both, dilute them with a little paint thinner and voila! You have yourself the gray area. Case in point, my Lent dilemma: Don’t hold back on your gossip, just dial down the nastiness and the judgment and, presto, it becomes FACT (Fact is not gossip, it’s entirely acceptable.) Don’t talk about yourself all the time, nobody cares. Just alternate and dip into both black and white, and you’ve got yourself the perfect shade of gray. 
La vie en gris, not too shabby…

* comics courtesy of

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