Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Under 5 BABY!!

Well, the results are in, and yours truly brought it in under 5!! OH yeah!

This weekend, after 6 months of training, Team Burbank descended on the City of Sin to achieve the impressive - finishing a marathon. Or half a marathon if you're nasty. The New Las Vegas marathon, at 26.2 miles, is quite an event. We started at 6am and ran down the entire Vegas strip, past the seedy wedding chapels where several marathon couples got married while being witnessed by Running Elvises. Kept chugging along into Downtown, where the slots still take coins and give 'em back if you're lucky, and then off into the low-rent industrial side of town where the 8 mph winds tried to slow us down. But this baby wasn't about to back down. My goal was to beat my old time, 5:17:15, but I never dreamed I would actually be able to bring it in under 5 hours until after the halfway point when I realized I had time to spare. I averaged 11 minute miles THE WHOLE WAY. Except for the 12th mile which took me a little longer thanks to my hobo squat in the bushes. But even that didn't slow me down much, I even had to stop myself from running back onto the course while pulling up my pants. My mom and dad came to watch me, and said I looked bulletproof when I crossed the finish line. I felt bulletproof. I don't know if I'll ever do another marathon - it's HELL on your body. But man, there are some seriously inspiring moments in an event like this. A guy in a wheelchair who walks the last 200m with a walker. The cancer patient who reminded me as she crossed the finish line that there are much harder battles being fought everyday. It made me marvel at the decision to put yourself through such a trial. There's no real reason to accomplish such a feat, and yet thousands of people chose to do it, and did so sometimes at great cost. My friend Anni, another member of Team Burbank, also finished the full marathon, and sits at home as we speak soaking the socks off of her bloodied feet. In spite of the fact that she sustained an injury at mile 16, she fought it out to the finish walking the rest of the way (see pic). Maybe we do it just for the chance to be inspired.

Maybe you never truly learn something until you live it. In the Honolulu marathon I found out that when your body feels fear or doubt, it will use your subconcious to manipulate your behavior. For example, when my body wanted to quit, I started hearing voices in my head telling me I was a bad actor. That I was a failure. Usually when I start having thoughts like these, I get sad, and I GO TAKE A NAP... Ah HA! Caught you in the act, subconcious! You'll never fool me again with your tricks. This time, I found the truth behind the concept of mind over body. I see now where someone's willpower can actually sustain them beyond reasonable limits. It's the type of power that can make a father survive in the snow for so many days in order to try and save his family. My limits weren't tested quite so far, but I certainly saw the potential. Even as everything in my body told me it was time to walk, I kept running. On pure willpower. My quads have been reminding me of my tyrannical method ever since. Its times like these when I question the need for stairs.

At the point at which I realized that I was on pace to make it in under 5 hours, I started writing this blog in my head. I started imagining all the hugs and high-5s. I got a little choked up thinking about how proud my Dad would be that he won the bet he had with my mom. I'm still choked up. Maybe a marathon isn't THAT hard on my body. Maybe I'll do just one more. Perhaps I'll run the Great Wall of China. Of course I have to get out of this chair first. OUCH...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Dutch Ovens

Have you ever farted in a crowded department store? OK, wait, I have to remember my audience...

You know when you fart in a crowded department store, and then dash off to some remote location where a person would stand who couldn't possibly be responsible for the impending chaos? Do you wait a moment and then return to the scene of the crime to see if the damage was as serious as you imagined?

Thats kind of how I feel about my last post. Now, don't think I'm backing down from my latest scheme - I do intend to pursue a path of writing, although I don't know how much longer my enthusiasm will fuel the ship. It's just that I was feeling a bit heady when I most recently blogged, and you can't imagine how shy I feel now. I haven't been back to this blog in... what, a few weeks? I didn't even read the kindest comments from Tommy and Laura until tonight. (PS, Tommy, the answer is a resounding Yes). I was planning on writing a blog about how excited I am to be flying off to Vegas for the marathon in a few days, and then I remembered: oh yeah, I farted here. And people know about it. They are even trying to pretend like my idea doesn't stink.

I've heard that a good rule to follow when you are trying to quit smoking is to tell everyone that you're quitting. Makes you more responsible to your commitment. You should have heard the number of friends I told at Thanksgiving - hey, I'm going to pursue a writing career. And they all smiled and patted me on the back: "Great idea, Tara." I have very supportive, terse friends. Unfortunately they also have good memories. Between this blog and Thanksgiving, I guess I'd better at least give writing a try. So why does it feel like I can't form a sentence? Suddenly its painfully obvious to me that I can't type, I am obssesed with commas, and I'm not an alcoholic. So, crap, I've got a lot of work to do.

I guess this rambling post was just a series of observations on a new adventure. I would also like to state for the record that I always thought the writer in the family was my sister, and I still do. In conclusion, I would like to restate my thesis in the context of the bigger picture of life: I think farts are hilarious and worth writing about.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who Told You That You Could...

One sunny morning back in... let's say '99, I was singing a merry tune to myself as I stepped out of my one bedroom in Atlanta. With ironic timing only the universe can manufacture, my landlord Tzafi was standing right there (trimming bushes?) and shaking his head at me. I blushed, and then recovered with a charming "I should be a singer, don't you think, Tzafi?" He countered, with the practicality inherent in the self-made immigrant, "You should be Something..."

Here's a question that haunts me frequently these days, and used to be my pre-recorded punchline to a bad performance: "What makes you think you can be a ________?" Usually the blank was filled with the word 'actor', with an occasional improvisor, or politician, as the situation required. It was a recognition of the power of people to influence each other in major life decisions: Your mother came to every play you were in, so you became an actor. Or everyone at your frathouse told you that you were the funniest guy there, so you got into stand-up. Maybe you, at the maleable age of 15, received a "Best Supporting Actress" award at the District Thespian Festival for your disturbingly acurate portrayal of an 85 year-old crone with murderous intent. I can literally see my head turning as they called my name, my paradigm shifting like the Round-Up at the county fair. REALLY? You all love me? You really do?? And so the path is set.

Who told you that you should BE an actor? Which of your myriad of childhood experiences caused you to decide that you LOVED the color green, that Alabama was the best Football team, that Beck was better than Weezer? These choices aren't stamped on our DNA, they are forced upon us, seemingly at leisure, by those whose approval we desire most - and don't even try and deny it, oh you of the Indy Rock Scene. Somewhere back in time some blue-eyed devil who never spoke to you at lunch suddenly stopped you in the hallway to compliment your Kiss lunchbox. And so rock was born.

And at 30, I'm paying a head-shrinker to help me decide what I want to do, what I Should BE, as defined by my own personal desires, and under the influence of no mother, priest, boyfriend or TV personality. I had no idea I knew so little about myself! I thought, because I was told I was a good actor, that I should BE an actor. That it was predestined, somehow. Of course I love the stage, of course I love making people laugh. Who doesn't? And yes, I'm good at it. But the career is more than that. They didn't mention that when they handed me the award. No one said that in order to keep the trophy I would have to write my own play next time, and find the sponsers to finance the production, generate my own PR and fill those seats every night for two months with paying customers. Then, do it again. And again. Oh wow... You mean I'm the arbiter of my own destiny? Crap.

And so Huck pushes the raft into the river - or better yet, tells Jim to do it for him. I've been told I'm a good writer. So I've begun to peer into some new corners, and see what I can do with this skill. One mantle removed, another donned. Funny how the neck aches in the same places. Maybe I'll never really know what I want to do. Because maybe you don't always want to do much of anything. Excpet of course for getting back to Kingdom Hearts 2. Now there's a hint...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cheaters never win

Except if they are secretly playing Champions of Norrath without their roommate who specifically bought the game so we could play it TOGETHER. Two-player hack-and-slash glory at its finest, courtesy of the Everquest crew, who are systematically turning all losers into bigger losers. Maybe the new word should be Gainers. Hah, yes, thats what I'm going to call losers from now on - Gainers - which will be hilarious when they don't know that I'm insulting them. A perfect example of just how funny this situation can be is the new movie Borat, which if you haven't seen it yet, simply means you're over 35 or under 12. But I digress. Which is the result of countless hours of hacking and slashing orcs, vamps and anyone else who comes at me with a sword, mace, bow-and-arrow, or magic. My mind is melting so steadily that I actually will attack my own summoned skeleton on occasion, and have given him a name with which I address him when he so cleverly fools me: his name is Skelly. "Damnit, Skelly, I thought you were a bad-guy. Seriously, quit running at me and do some damage for a change."
So, my roomie Ryan and I played this game together about a year or so ago and logged, well, let's just say "many" hours before we hit a Boffo of a glitch and had to quit the game altogether or RESTART. It was like... It was like... that one time you get food poisoning from your favorite sushi restaurant, and everyday after, you drive past, simultaneously drooling and cursing (which is VERY attractive, I imagine). We just couldn't see ourselves starting over, Ryan sold the game back, the pain was just too... Flash forward to Ryan's new girlfriend moving in, and in what I judged to be a subtle act of contrition Ryan buys the game (Champions of Norrath, are you still with me?) and we agree it is time to try again. Except for one problem most Gainers don't have - Ryan has a JOB. Weird... So in my impatience to wait for those golden hours when Ryan isn't working or hangin with his total fox of a lady, I started playing by myself. It was just a few boards, and I'm a totally different character! A Dark Elf instead of a High Cleric - its a completely different game, I swear! At first the excuse was that I wanted to make sure we could "avoid the glitch" this time, but that excuse only worked until I got to - and past - the "glitch-section." Then my infidelity became glaring. The tell-tale dip in the couch, the unfamiliar screens, the way in which my character just glided through the old boards, eyes half-closed and fingers fluttering over the controller like Helen Keller showing off.
Ryan confronted me one morning, and I broke like a Southern Baptist. Yes, I'd done it, I'd played without him and it was agregious, shameful, I already knew what happens after you beat the Vampire Lord. Ryan pleaded and I mumbled an agreement - I would stop. But how? How could I leave the Dark Elf Veronica stranded in a watery cave with no one but Skelly to keep her company for GOD KNOWS HOW LONG! Sure, she can breathe thanks to the Mermaid's Blessing, but STILL! How many months will it be before she levels up enough to wear that True Breastplate I've been dragging around for weeks?? It takes a strong woman, no Gainer, I, to admit that it would take more than just a mumbled vow of cold turkey to keep me away. I went to the Gamer's Methadone Clinic. I did what I've been wanting to do since March, when it was released. I bought Kingdom Hearts 2. Sometimes it takes a desperate moment to take a leap of faith. Let's hope I make it to work tomorrow. Goodbye, friends. I shall see you on the other side. But remember, I chose this path for good reason. I did it for my roomie Ryan.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Pumpkin Party

This past Sunday I hosted a pumpkin carving party. We had Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Pasta, Pumpkin Ale, and Pumpkin Pie. There were prizes given away for the best pumpkins and I think everyone had a good time.

I hate throwing parties. I turn into a crazy person. I spend all day cleaning and buy WAY too much food and booze, and then I sit around worrying that no one will come over. Eventually somebody shows up, and then somebody else, and before you know it, we have what's known as a party. There weren't too many folks this go round, I guess Sunday is a tough day to throw a bash, even my roommates Ryan and Joelle barely made it towards the end. But I just make myself sick wondering if people are having a good time or if they want to leave. The music wasn't very loud - I thought, Oh God, Everyone is going to want to leave. Nobody ate the food - the second they walked in the door - so of course I was convinced it tasted bad. It wasn't until after the eighth compliment that I relaxed enough to stop worrying about it. I was circling constantly, barely talking to any of my friends, to make sure everyone had beer - and then telling myself the whole to time to sit down and carve, since everyone already knew where the beer was. Honestly, I'm getting tense right now just thinking about it. I have wonderful friends - I think they would know how to have a good time waiting at the DMV. I just have a party phobia.

I once heard a story about a girl who was unpopular in high school, and her parents threw her a huge Christmas party - they rented out the local dance hall, hired a band and caterers, there were even printed invites. Only three people showed. They quitely made there way through the buffet line, ate and left. The girl and her Dad danced alone to the music in the middle of the hall, which must have been decked to the nines. When ever I think about that little girl, I want to cry for everyone that ever throws a party - and ends up dancing alone. So it looks like I dodged that bullet once again, but I think I'm done throwing parties for the year. Too many ulcers.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Spoken in Haste

I almost took that last blog down, because I wrote it when I was very sad, and as is common in my profession, it was super dramatic. It made Mom cry. And Dad sent an email. Of course, Dad sends an email every thirty seconds, so I can't really count that as a phenomenon. The point is, I rather boldy inferred that I don't have any friends out here that are "close", like "family". That's not true. In fact, I have many friends out here that I could turn to in a time of need, and a few really special folks that have been supportive of me through thick and lots of thin. I guess what I failed to acknowledge in my cloudy moment was that being an adult with adult friends is sort of new to me. When I was a kid, if you were my best friend (and I had about ten at any given moment), I could prove it by looking in my backpack for folded up notes with signatures like BFF and LYLAS. When I got home from school, if you were my bestest new/old friend, we would talk on the telephone for about an hour, and then take another hour to hang up - you go first, no, YOU go first. No, YOU. Hang on, MOM! I'm hanging up right now! OK I gotta go, you hang up, OK? CMON, I gotta go! YOU HANG UP!

It was so easy back then.

I've thought about inviting the following people over to have a big slumber party, but that doesn't mean the same thing now that Mom and Dad don't live with me. But here are just a few of the folks I should have mentioned in my last blog. Call it my BFF list. There's more, but I thought I'd introduce you to a few:

My roomie Ryan - a puppy in mud. Ryan and I lucked out last year when we became roomies and discovered that we have more in common than Dean Koontz and Stephen King. We love to play video games together, and he's the one who gave me the attitude adjustment this past Sunday when I sang my "I ain't got nobody" song.

Sara and Matt Young - I can't shake these fools. No matter how hard I try, they are the coolest couple a single girl could model her secret marriage fantasy after. Matt I've known since college, and Sara I met when I moved out - they let me stay at their apartment when I first came to check out LA. Hey, I moved here didn't I? So obviously its all their fault.

Joseph Limbaugh - JoJo McDeli-Dad and about fifty other nicknames. Joseph is the director at the theatre (ACME) where I do comedy and if it weren't for him I'd probably be allergic to improv. Our friendship began ten years ago when we played together at Dad's Garage. He also will kick anyone's ass at DK racing, but not necessarily MarioKart.

Josh Flaum - Josh and I really became friends when we worked on the Underground together. I can't believe how much I love talking to this guy, and we still have topics yet undiscussed... He is smarter than the Atom Bomb.

Anni Lundy - I like redheads born in August. So this was a perfect fit. Anni and I met at ACME and, well, its obvious to everybody but us that we are totally gay for each other. Come on, that trip to Big Bear?? Nobody was fooled, not even her cool hubbie Dan. Seriously. Its gross. Oh, AND we are running the Vegas marathon together. HELLO! GAY CITY!

Tania Gonzalez - Whew. Thats me breathing a sigh of relief that this girl is back in my life. We were friends in college, but out here in LA its a whole new ballgame. She makes me laugh, and again with the awesome inspiring relationship - her husband Mike Yav is one of may favorite peeps in the universe also.

Deb and Brendan O'Neill - Thats right, you cynics! They are married! Like that and the Red Sox winnning the Series are the two greatest events of all time! I met Deb and Brendan one weekend in Sarasota at FSU's graduate theatre program, but it wasn't until I moved out here... well its a long story, but now we work together at Asia de Cuba, Deb and I - and Brendan is my Maggiano's hook-up. Also a mean Guitar-Hero-ist.

OK, I should take a break from this list, which is written in order of physical attractiveness. (Couples' scores are averaged). I just don't want Mom and Dad to think I don't have pals out here. But maybe more importantly, I want to make sure I don't forget.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

We R Family

This weekend I went to my cousin Amy's wedding. She married her boyfriend of seven years, Kevin, in a church in LaGrange, Kentuckey. It was a gorgeous fall wedding, we giggled through the whole ceremoony and danced through the whole reception. My entire family on my Mom's side was there, for the first time in... well let's not get started on the "when was the last time" debate. Its been awhile. I came back home to LA today and I'm just as blue as can be. There's just nothing more important in this world than family, and its what I'm missing most of the time out here. After being here for over five years, I feel as alone as if I'd just moved out. I can't really help it, I guess. All my life I've moved every couple years, so that the only people I've known all my life have been my immediate family. I see how other folks out here have made their close friends into family, and I know I should do that, but I haven't. Not really. I have alot of good friends out here, but no one that I can say is like a brother or sister. I know that's part of the reason I fell so hard for Nick - his amazingly supportive and welcoming family, which included more people he wasn't related to than he was. I'm learning more about myself day after day, and I'm realizing that I need my family. I recognized that sense of relief when I came back to the restaurant - my friends at Asia de Cuba had started to feel like family, and when I left them last year, I didn't realize how lonely I'd be. I'm not discounting the many wonderful friends I have out here, I'm simply recognizing a level to which I haven't let them into my life. The person I was this weekend around my cousins hasn't been around here in a long time. I realize that I have to build a family for myself, outside of the ones back home, or else I'll be heading home myself really soon. Maybe that is the best choice for me - Mom and Dad certainly think so. They're usually right. At the end of the day, I'd rather be at a hundred cousin's weddings than on a hundred TV shows. Its good to learn things about yourself.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

RIP Bane Kitty

July 1995 - August 2006.
Banister Allouiscious Cretin the Third turned up missing this past August, having not returned home for his afternoon feeding at his residence in Seminole, AL where his caretakers Mom and Dad Ochs live. Bane Kitty, as he was known by most, was the smartest, coolest kitty that ever lived. He was born in Tallahassee, FL, abandoned to a pet store along with his brothers and sisters. My college roommates Melissa and Michelle rescued him for the price of a litter box and some gravel. He was given his many names by all three of us, but the concensus was that he most resembled his first name, Bane. He croaked like a parrot because he was part Siamese, and from his first days it was obvious that he would spend his 9 lives well. When Bane was not even a year old, he was hit by a car and broke his hind leg. He went into hiding for a few days where he contracted a severe cold and some nasty flea bites. When he finally returned, he was barely recognizable. It was the same summer that I was in London, so he was cared for by Michelle, Emily, Joe, and a few other friends. He walked around the house in a pink leg cast, with a cone around his head. Bane would soon become familiar with "the cone". When I returned to FSU the next year, Bane and I were a permanent pair. I officially adopted him from my other roommates, and we moved into the home of Tom, Lauren, Tanya and Mary Jane. Along with five people, Bane became fast friends with 7+ dogs, 5 other cats, two ferrets, two finches (one of whom he finally ate), and several fish. It was thanks to Lauren's vet skills that we discovered Bane's limp was the result of bad surgery - there was still a pin in his foot which should have been removed! Once the pin was removed, Bane seemed to recover like Lance Armstrong. (Or maybe we should say Lance would later recover like Bane.) The rest of Bane's life at FSU was fun-filled, and he met two of his best kitty friends, Thurston and Annabelle.
When I graduated from FSU, Bane traveled with me to Atlanta. It was here that he met his other best friend, Alex. They were fun-loving wrestling kitties, and even made a short film together. It was also in Atlanta that Bane first started to show signs of his life-long illness, Feline Herpes. It was during these many outbreaks that Bane would become truly familiar with "the cone", as his infections would develop in his eyes, eventually leaving him half blind. But Bane never lost his sense of adventure. He got to know my brother Jay for a few months by sitting on his lap while watching Survivor. He also loved his kitty-sitter Chad, on whom he played a great practical joke: for the week I was out of town, Alex pretended he was Bane and came in every day to eat while Bane went out partying on the town. For the whole week Chad fed Alex instead of Bane!
When it was time for me to move to LA, it was clear that Bane's health was delicate, and his best place was at the beautiful one-acre riverside home of my parents. It was here that Bane lived out the rest of his days, perhaps his happiest, ruling the woods of Seminole, AL. He was very well cared for by Dad, Mom, Laura and sometimes Jack and Helen. It was Jack and Helen's chihuahua Taco who was Bane's best friend in his later years. They would meet each other in the morning and walk around together, and even share food.
When I came home this past Labor Day weekend, Bane was gone. We don't know where he went to hide, but the last few days he was seen, he had stopped eating. Had he stayed home just one more day, he would have made it to the vet, but sometimes Kitties know better than we do. Perhaps Bane has just gone off to other adventures like he often did, and will return, but I have a feeling he's gone on the greatest adventure of all. RIP Bane Kitty. You will be missed.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Everybody else is doing it...

Hi and welcome to my new blogsite, friends and family! Its going to take me a few days to get all of this up and running, but after realizing that I could blog for free, I've been chomping at the bit to stick it to those Typepad fools. Silly me, thinking I had to pay somebody to host my blog - it was costing me $4.46 a month! And for what? Its not even as cool as this blogspot site. And my fear of losing past entries or readers is ridiculous - I don't do this for you people, I do it for me!! So from now on, if you want my news, its FREE! OK, so it was always free for you, but now its free for me, too. Next up, changing my long-owned email address so I don't have to pay six bucks a month just to keep it. Piracy, this internet business is!!