March 28, 2009

What a Way to Make a Living

I'm still not totally sold on this whole 9-to-5 business. (Even though for me, it's 8 to 5) For so many years I had irregular hours (even when I worked "days" it wasn't until 11) and that's a hard habit to break.

The worst thing isn't having to get up early -- I'm adjusting to that. The thing I dislike most is having to go to bed early. In fact, having to go to bed at a specific time. Being in bed by 11 (and 10:30 is more accurate) is a ridiculous concept to me. And it's not that I'm not tired -- I absolutely am -- but it's the idea of a forced bedtime.

Because I'm one of those people who does better with more sleep than less, I try to aim for 8 hours, minimum. And because I'm one of those people whose cat owns them, I don't always get a good 8 hours. Sidney hasn't adjust well to my new schedule. He likes going to bed early, but then wants to eat at 1, and it's hard to wake up just 2 or 3 hours after I've gone to sleep. (Well, not hard to wake up so much as hard on me). Then I get another wake up call from him at 4:30 or 5. That part I'm used to -- I've always gotten up to feed him at some point in the morning. But twice? That's just too much. Luckily for me, Paul stays up later and often is awake to feed him the first time.

But then that puts me on a different schedule from Paul. The whole thing is rather disconcerting and disruptive to my sense of timing.

On the bright side, I have found that I am incredibly productive in the morning. I attribute that to the fact that it's the beginning of the day, and not morning -- and if I started work at 3, I'd still be incredibly productive the next four hours.

Maybe next I'll whine about how it's impossible to get anything done when you work regular hours. Stay tuned.

March 22, 2009

Le Week-end

Went to Le Creperie last night for dinner, and it was cool. French food! I was tempted by the savory crepes, even though they were American-style, but ended up with the Moules Mariniere (mussels).

Oh how I miss those garlicky mussels in a wine broth, dipping baguette in and sopping up the sauce. They had skinny frites, too, and it was a nice reminder of Paris. Although I must say, the mussels here were much more plump even though the portion was much more tiny.

And then today, on the train, I heard three young women speaking French. I struck up a conversation with them -- it's been at least a year since I've spoken French -- and they seemed thrilled to speak French with someone. So we were all happy.

A little Francophilia to round out my weekend.

The Other Side of the Tracks

You know that saying about living on the wrong side of the tracks? After taking the Blue Line up to downtown L.A., I'm pretty sure there isn't a right side of the tracks.

It's an interesting trip, one that Paul has made before but I have not. It takes an hour to go the less than 30 miles, which is a lot, but Paul had the car this weekend and I needed to be somewhere. The price is right; it's 1.25 each way. The train is clean and it deposited me at 7th and Figueroa, a very convenient downtown location.

I was interested to see what was along the tracks. A surprising number of churches, for one. Really, dozens. And it was interesting to see the neighborhoods change from Latino to African-American to Latino -- just by looking at the signs and the shops. I think the most interesting shop I saw sold Stetson's. I wouldn't have thought you could find one in that corridor.

When Paul first started to take the train, I asked him if it was scary. But what I wanted to know is was it suburban white guy never gets on public transportation scary or mentally ill and gangbanger scary. He said, at the time, a little of both. To me, it was a working-class crowd just trying to get somewhere. Nobody was rude or had the music on too loud or took up too much space or felt menacing. But I was traveling on Sunday, so it wasn't just people going to work.
I think if it didn't take so long, I'd be more keen to take it, but it's awfully slow.

I'll have to be content knowing I did my tiny part to help the environment, keeping another car off the road.

I'm So Embarrassed

More than a month since I've blogged ... how awful. And herewith a rambling, somewhat on-topic post:

Generally speaking, I don't do anything in moderation. More often than not it's all or nothing. I read hundreds of books when I lived in Paris and I'm quite certain I haven't read a dozen since I've been back.

I've always been a pretty good reader. I don't know what the problem has been other than I just haven't felt like it. Some of it is the narcotic lure of television, without a doubt. The rest, I suppose, is that for the last year my job has been reading for hours at a time, and my brain was tired.

This weekend I was invited to join a book club and I hope to change all that. The group does not place unrealistic demands on me -- just one book every six or so weeks. But I think I'm ready to get back in the groove. When I'm reading a good book -- and I just finished the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society -- I'm one of those people who hates to put it down. Who reads a page in a spare moment, or reads while walking to work or stays up too late in the hopes I can find out whodunnit or whatever.

This group is based in L.A. and the Valley, and my cousin Azar invited me. I was worried that it would be too high-brow for me. Her mother has a book club, and the list of books for that club is daunting. And I am pretty low-brow. Not so low that I think Sandra Brown belongs in a book club (true story, circa 1997) but low enough that I hope to avoid non-memoir non-fiction and Holocaust books. And books I should have read in college (ie Dickens).

I like that a book club is more than a book discussion. It's a group of women who get together for brunch and just chat. If everyone likes the book, the conversation morphs into all sorts of things. If they don't like the book, well that's fine, too -- more to discuss. This meeting had an attorney, a Montessori teacher, a social worker, a county health worker and an ex-journalist. Yes, I think I will always define myself that way.

I haven't gotten together with a group of women (who aren't all related to me) in a very long time. I miss it. I might not have a lot in common with these women (yet -- I just met them) but reading the same book is a start.

Our home is filled with books. Most of them are Paul's, because mine from before Paris are packed up (in the garage, I hope, of my fabulous sister-in-law) and mine from during Paris didn't make it to California. That being said, we have four large book cases that are full, and will likely add more as needed.

On the way to getting myself to the book club, I had to find the book. And two visits to the bookstore and one to the library later, I had it. But I also rediscovered, for the umpteenth time, how many goodies there are to read out there. I love browsing at the bookstore. Love love love it! And I found Michael Chabon's "The Yiddish Policeman's Union" on the bargain table for $6.98. (And, as it turned out, I had enough money on various BN cards in my wallet that the book cost 44 cents)

I suppose I've been a bit frugal lately; buying a book feels like a bit of a luxury. And if I'm not flying somewhere or going on vacation -- neither of which is happening anytime soon -- it definitely feels indulgent. But the new library card will take care of that.

When I walked into the library, which is halfway between my home and my work -- that is to say two blocks away!! -- I felt happy. I haven't had a library card since the '90s and it was time, I think, to go back. I filled out the form and they will mail me my card.

So my very late New Year's resolution is to read more and read more often. To turn off the television (or, more accurately to put away the laptop) and pick up a book.

Wish me luck.