Monday, October 11, 2010

I Almost Lost It Today

My faith in humanity, that is.

As you may know I have recently started tutoring. This gives me the rare opportunity to visit, seemingly random, people's homes. It's not everyday that you get the chance to walk into a stranger's home and sit down and chat. I realize that doing this would cause most people serious anxiety, but not me. I love people, especially those I've never met before. It's a "Denney" thing as many members of said "Denney's" have mentioned a few million times. I've always been this way.

Today, as I was leaving the fourth new family I have met in the past week, I walked away so happy because of the warmth with which I had been received. Of course, I realize that I am there to help their children and it isn't costing them a dime so, why wouldn't they be hospitable? These families though, have been more than just hospitable. For example, the mother I met today just opened up and started telling me about the death of her grandmother , a year ago. Another family went out and got me a Gatorade ( I did not mention that I am currently not consuming sugar.)

On the way to my next session I stop off at Office Depot to pick up a printing order and instantly have my, "faith in humanity" bubble popped. I had plenty of time in between sessions so, I wasn't too concerned when I saw a rather hefty line filed in front of the counter and only two poor souls behind that counter. As I'm standing there patiently and happily waiting my turn I notice a woman who appears to be in a bit of a hurry with two large envelopes in her hands that she apparently wanted to mail somewhere. She doesn't get noticed at the side of the counter where she was originally standing so, she hurriedly gets behind me. We had been standing there a few minutes when she says in a not so happy way but, you could tell that she was trying not to sound pushy, "Are you in line or are you waiting for something?" "No, no, I'm in line" I say. With her one empty hand she gestures and says, "Then could you move in that direction?" This is the first puncture to my bubble.

Puncture number two comes from me when a man walks up and asks, "Can I cut in front of you, I have a class at 6:00 (it's 5:30) and I just need a few copies." My first thought was he shouldn't have waited until the last minute, my second, that I am kind of doing the same, as I only have 45 minutes to be somewhere and I don't know how long this is going to take. My response, "Sorry, I have somewhere to be also." Instant remorse. I should have just helped him out, I was in a good mood.

To make up for what I had just done I told myself that I was going to be as kind and as patient as possible when my time comes. Little did I know that there were going to be some missing documents from my order. But, I am happy to report, I kept my cool. After all, it wasn't the girl behind the counter's fault, she was just reading to me what the computer said. When the manager arrived to bring some support for the drowning employees ( the woman behind me had her order royally messed up by the other employee) she explained to the girl behind the counter (not me) that, "that's right, last night when we were printing this the system went down." My thoughts, "you couldn't have called this morning after you emailed to let me know the order was ready?" This stayed in my head, of course, I want to stay patient and kind. So, I wait until, finally, the manager realized that it's in another place on the computer, "Oh yeah, here it is" although it's only a portion of my missing documents. But, I tell the girl it's fine because she found what I needed for today and I'll come back later for the rest. Mean while, over to my right there was a lady who had been complaining loudly about every step of this process for her and all she needed was to shred some papers. I guess she just doesn't like standing in line.

When I get back into my car I'm brought back to reality a bit and I realize that I have plenty of time to go home, grab a quick bite and head over to my last session of the day. An adorable family of seven (or nine, I can't quite figure out who all lives there.) On my way home I had more time to think about how it wasn't really anyone's fault what happened earlier. There are a lot of people who live in that area and there is only one office supply place and they really were doing the best that they could.

This all comes on the heals of hearing a friend talk of how she was talking with a kid about how people aren't inherently good or bad but, we do what we can, we try our best, we try and learn from our mistakes and do better next time. Of course we've all heard this before but, I don't think I had ever really thought about it. And, today it was right in my face. The "rude" girl behind me in line could have been having a really bad day and who knows what events lead up to her acting like it was life or death that her envelopes went out today. Maybe she had that horrible look on her face because she was born that way or someone near her just farted. I don't know. I do know that it isn't my place to decide if she or anybody else is a yucky person based solely on this one encounter. Lord knows I have acted rude, impatient, or down right mean to people and you all know that's not the real me. The real me loves to be around people and interact with them because they are all unique and interesting. The real me knows that perfect strangers will invite you into their homes and give you Gatorade and tell you about their life because deep down, I believe, they want to connect with other people and they like to be around others as much as I do. That being said and thanks to the same friend who got me thinking in the first place, I also know that there are people out there who do not like to interact or connect with others. They are not like me deep down and that I need to respect those people as well.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Things I'v noticed...

It is becoming apparent that the city of Los Angeles has a few characteristics that seem to be a constant theme.

For example,

1) People eating from the trash. There have been several occasions that I have noticed people (I am assuming they are homeless, but who knows) sticking a hand in and coming out with what appears to be something tasty. My first reaction is to laugh, but then I realize what I'm laughing at and instantly feel guilty. Nonetheless, it is something that occurs often here.

2) People auditioning. I never stop to ask what they are auditioning for, I don't want to interrupt. It seems that you can't go anywhere without seeing two people really giving it all they've got for this conversation only to realize they are practicing for another conversation. Again, I can't help but laugh when I see the intense looks on their faces that one rarely makes when having real a conversation. They are everywhere!!

3) People speaking in another language other than English or Spanish. Sometimes I forget that I'm living in the second largest city in the United States. There are lots of people who want to visit this city and they are here all the time. On any given day we will hear at least five or six different languages. On Tuesday I was approached by a couple from Sweden and not three minutes later a man from Dubai started up a conversation with me.

This has really been a fun and interesting 4 months. My Life in California is proving to be quite the adventure. I really do love it here. Even though I don't have a permanent teaching job yet and therefore am not doing what I love I am still enjoying myself immensely. I am trying to keep it all in prospective and take in all of the little things. When Matthew and I both start working full time we are not going to see each other as often as we do now (all day, everyday) and the dynamics of our relationship are going to change a bit. I really want to relish this time we have as the newly married people that we are.

One of the many adventures that this California life and abundance of time has taken me on was my first acting gig. Some school friends of Matthew's have started up a web series. I don't know any of the logistics like, the name or plot, but I do know that I was asked to be an extra. So I of course jumped at the chance. To be honest, I wasn't too sure what to expect because I've not spent too much time with these people so I didn't know their level of professionalism. They are all just out of college and babies, by my 30 year old standards. But, I have to say that it really felt like I was at an actual TV shoot. They had their stuff together, with professional equipment and actors. I was told they actually held auditions of their own. So, I was cast as "party-goer" and just stood in the background with another extra and we "acted" like we were at a party. It was fun, well, it was an experience to say the least. I got to meet people and that's what really matters, I guess.

I hope there will be more adventures in the near future. But, for now that is all.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alone, at Last

It's 6:38 on a very chilly Tuesday morning. My husband just left for his new job! We have been here, in California, for 4 months tomorrow. Matthew has been looking for a job for about 3 months and 3 weeks (we gave ourselves a week for a "honeymoon".) He would sometimes apply to up to ten jobs a day and he would do this all day, everyday. He applied to jobs in and out of the industry (the film industry) and some of them were really great jobs that he was more than qualified for, but we never heard a thing. Of course, we knew how bad the economy was and we are living in one of the worst states, economy wise. California is in some terrible debt, but we're here to pursue a career in film. That has to mean something, right? The film industry is certainly not hurting. But, like any profession it's who you know and we don't know anyone. Matthew has some contacts from when he was here during his internship, but he had exhausted all of these in the last 3 months. So we thought.

About three weeks ago Matthew got up at about 4:30 to go for an interview of sorts at FedEx. Matthew, being the cautious man that he is, made sure he was at least half an hour early, only to find 50 others who had the same thought. They were turning people away. So, when he came back home only 20 minutes later I was concerned and scared because I thought he was an intruder. He was so bummed. In fact, this was the breaking point. He had been keeping it together so that I wouldn't become worried and he finally let me in on all that had been going on in his mind for the last few weeks. The worry that he wasn't ever going to find a job, that maybe we had made the wrong decision, "maybe we should just go back to Texas." I certainly could not let that happen.

This is the moment when a help-mate comes along and lifts the spirit. This was probably the first time I felt like a wife. I, of course, told him that it will get better and that he will find something and everything has worked out too perfectly up to this point for this to all have been the wrong decision. It only feels like we'll never get out because we're right in the middle of it. It's so difficult to see the proverbial, "light at the end of the tunnel" when your in the middle and seemingly too far from the end to see the light. But, this story has a happy ending.

Later that same day during another interview (he was not interested in this position at all, but you can't turn them down) he receives a phone call from a company he was very interested in. This call was to set up an interview for later that week, which he gladly agreed to. When he got back to the car he checked his email only to find three emails from three different people wanting either an interview or to offer him an editing position. This position was one he has been so patiently waiting on. He called me right away to tell me the unbelievable news. What relief. What a rollercoaster of emotions for one day. What a different man came home than the one who left that morning.

So, here I sit alone, at last. I have the next 12 hours (hopefully, who knows what that traffic will be like) to myself. The last time I was alone was in Austin, unmarried, not too sure what my future would hold. Matthew was here trying to make a life for us. 4 months later I'm sitting at our computer writing a blog about, finally, my life in California.

Hopefully, the next installment will be about my first day on the job. So, until then.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sad Memories

*WARNING* This is a bit sad and depressing, it was late and I couldn't sleep.

I was reading in bed when something triggered some especially sad memories of a few weeks after my dad died, when life was supposed to be going back to "normal". Instead of my dad taking my mother to the rail station in the mornings for work the job had now fallen to me since we only had one car. It used to be that he would take her and I would continue to sleep until he got back. When he returned he would wake me up, usually with a silly wake up song, then he would go and fix my lunch and get breakfast ready for us. We would sit at the kitchen table and eat and just talk about whatever. I am also remembering our last morning together. I can literally remember it like it was yesterday, except that now my memories of his face have started to fade. We sat there across from each other as we did every morning. He sat in his spot and I would sit in my mom's. We just sat there and laughed at each other because we thought we were funny.

Thinking about it now, of my last conversation with my father, it really was one of those moments that are so special and you know it. They have that lingering feel like, "this feels like it could be the last time I see him." But, whoever listens to those thoughts? Then he drove me to school and that was it. I never saw him again.

Now those days were over and it was my turn to drive my mom to the rail station for work in the mornings. I would drive home to the emptiest house in the world and begin getting ready for school. Now I was the one making my lunch (cutting the crust off my sandwiches, but never got it quite right) and making myself breakfast. But it never failed, somehow I found myself face down on the floor wailing in agony. I had never really known death and I had certainly never known pain. I honestly don't know how I made it to school in the mornings.

But, you know? When I did get to school there were many mornings when I managed to stumble into the office and the two sweet secretaries we had would see my sad little red and puffy eyes and they would hold out there arms and I would just cry. Because of this I learned that they had both lost parents and they knew exactly the pain I was feeling. I remember that having a profound effect on me then. No adult had ever shared anything that personal with me before. I think that may have been the first time I ever connected with another person. I remember feeling special for knowing those things about those ladies. Then I pulled it together, met up with my friends and I was the same Amanda I always was and they never knew. It was my little secret.

When I think about those mornings the thirty year old me wishes I could go back and hold that sad, broken-hearted girl and tell her that it's going to be okay, that I will learn to live with the pain even though at the time I could never imagine feeling "normal" again.

Now, as I'm writing this I just remembered also that home of mine that held so many wonderful childhood memories is gone. My mom just moved out of that house where I grew up and she lived for more than 35 years. In fact, it is soon to belong to another family who will, no doubt, make memories of their own. I really do hope that whoever lives in that house has as happy a childhood as I did. And I really did.

I just really needed to write that down. So, thanks for letting me share that with you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Okay, Okay, Okay

I would like to say that several people have been wondering where I've been lately with my bloggings, but really it was just one sweet little friend. But, if they/she ask you must give them/her what they/she wants. Really I've been putting it off because we've not been up to anything lately. Who wants to write about doing nothing in California? Certainly not I.

I guess I can't say that we've done nothing. We had our first friend come for a visit. So, we went to the beach. Santa Monica this time. There are so many to chose from. The thing about the beach is that the weather or rather amount of sun can be very deceiving. It my appear to be cool and overcast which makes you think it's okay not put on sunblock. The thing that was most frustrating about this decision was the fact that I had a brand new bottle in my adorable beach bag that my lovely friends in Austin bought for me. Needless to say that we were hurting pretty badly two hours later as we're getting back into the car to go. Of course, you never really know how bad it is until the next morning. Ouch!! For those of you who remember my senior year tan line this one is exactly the same. Well, it was a little worse in '98, but still, its not pretty.

Most of our time though, has been spent getting me ready, mathematically, for a test I had to take last Saturday. My sweet husband is so smart when it comes to anything math related, well anything really, and I am just the opposite. I realize now that I only hated math because I never really learned it the first time, but Matthew was very patient with me and I feel good about the math portion of the test. As for the other portions, who knows? This test was the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) and I had to take it as part of the requirements for obtaining a California Teaching Certificate. The results of the test will be unofficially in in a couple of weeks which is also when I should be finding out whether Cali is going to give me my certificate. So fingers crossed!

As for the rest of our lives, it's pretty boring. We spend a lot of our time playing dominoes, seriously. I've been doing some reading. I read the entire news paper the other day, with the exception of the sports section. I was really proud of myself. It was very interesting ,too. I decided that I want to start reading it regularly in support of the printed version. Matthew reminded me the Los Angeles Times is probably not in any danger of being put out of business by all of the online reading, but I'm doing it for all those smaller papers who are. I also decided the same for printed books. I'm taking a stand and I will not ever use an electronic book. I read an article in the paper about how it's difficult for everyone in the book biz to make money these day because of all those choosing to forgo the library and the bookstores for the ibooks and Kindles (isn't that what their called?) Anyway, that's my small contribution to the world. Well, the world of books anyway.

I guess that's all I have for now. You all, however small of a group you are, are all caught up with My Life in California. Well, maybe with one exception. I was talking with by bestest friend, Elizabeth the other day and we were laughing at one of my many random thoughts and she suggested that I start a blog with just that, my random, rabbit chasing thoughts. So, I've just decided to try it out here first and see how it goes.

Do you ever feel sad when you think you've hurt your dogs' feelings? I sure do. It breaks my heart to think that I my have done something to suddenly cause my dogs to have human thoughts and emotions and that I have damaged them in some way. Exactly why we aren't having children!

Also, if you're interested in quartets, I have a few here that are excellent. 1) The Section Quartet 2) Break of Reality -I'm not sure if they're considered a quartet or not, but they're fantastic. 3) The Vitamin String Quartet -Just lovely. If you get a chance you should check them out. The list could go on really, but I realize not many many care as I do.

Lastly, to Michele, who was the one sweet little friend who asked where I'd been. Thanks for asking. I think you especially would enjoy these quartets, for Leila. They could be playing during nap or play time. You know it's good for their little brains, classical music. Just a thought.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Addendum to previous blog

I couldn't leave you hanging about dinner so I shall tell you now. It was perfect! It was a place called Kitchen 24 and it seriously was adorable. It was like a really snazzed up Cafe Brazil. My husband did an excellent job making the entire day all about me. Oh, and I totally needed the jacket I was wearing, it was very chilly. I will say it again, IT WAS THE BEST BIRTHDAY, EVER!!

The second reason I'm adding the addendum is to tell of the gifts I received from others. I already mentioned the shirt from my mother-in-law, adorable. She also bought me a new scent, which I love, love, love! I have a student whom I taught my last year in Dallas that always sends me gift boxes full of fun goodies. This year a got a pair of cutely striped booties, a lovely little candle warmer that looks like it was made for California and of course, CANDY. They know what I need and what I like. They are so sweet to always remember me for all holidays, not just my birthday (the greatest holiday, ever.) Thank you, Kyle!

Now I must tell of the gift from the Best Friend. I must mention first that we usually don't get each other gifts, my friendship is the only gift she needs from me. Anyway, a week or so ago Elizabeth and I were talking about how I wanted to start doing more with my hair now that it's longer. By more I really only mean curling it. She asked if I had a curling iron, which I don't. I told her that I didn't want to buy one because we really don't need to spend the money on something I'm not sure I'll even use all that much. I told her that if I saw one at a thrift store for $10 or less I might think of getting it. Well, on Monday I got a note from post office saying I had a package which I assumed was my goody box from the Scheer's. When I go to pick it up Matthew points out that it's not from the Scheer's but, rather from some place called Cosmetic Solutions. As any of my readers already know I'm a little slow on the go and I thought maybe I was getting some kind of samples from them although I couldn't figure out how I got on their mailing list. Not to mention, why they would be sending samples using priority mail. Then I realized that it was probably from someone. I assumed maybe that someone was my friend Tammy sending me Proactive, but even then the box should have said Proactive. But, that didn't really make any sense either because why would Tammy do that? These thoughts all happened in a matter of minutes, mind you. So, we get in the car and I'm tearing open the box, the packing peanuts are flying everywhere. Then I reach in and pull out a small rectangular box with the picture of a curling iron on the front and lose my mind. Even though I knew who it was from I looked for a card, but realized that it's much funnier if there is no card, which there was not. Perfect. When I called her, she was already laughing!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

This is the feces that is produced when shame eats too much stupidity.

I'm not too sure where I should start, but I do know that I want to do my best and talk about the greatest Birthday, ever. So I shall begin with the title of my blog. It means nothing. It is a quote from our beloved Dale on King of the Hill. A show that Matthew and I have come to love, thanks to Netflix. If you have not had a chance please check out a couple of episodes and you too might find that you love it as we do. That was just a small part of this day that has been wonderful.

I do know that I want to talk a little about this year, 2010 and ho
w rich and full it has been. It began with Matthew, my then boyfriend, leaving for Los Angeles for four months while I stayed in Austin, alone. In those months I began going to therapy, which was lovely. I feel like I am being and enjoying the person I should have been all along. When Matthew returned in May, the ball began to roll, so to speak. He came back ready to move to California, the new me said, "I think we should be married before we leave." Matthew agreed and we got married on June 5th. A week later we, The Wingard's, moved to LA (my first time in Cali.) Two weeks after that I turned 30! Which catches us up to today.

The entire day truly has been perfect. Turning 30 is big and exciting enough, but to do all we've done today. It's difficult to describe the joy. But, I shall try. Before I really get into it, I must warn you: a lot of this is going to be about Six Flags. If you know me, you probably expected that. So I'm going to section these topics off so you can skip around as you please.

The Morning
We woke up at 7:00, but didn't really get out of bed until 8ish. I put on my new shirt that my mother-in-law bought for
me (I've been waiting until today to wear it.) I love it! It's from the GAP. We left our apartment and headed out for some Yum Yum donuts. I love donuts, too! They weren't bad. They did the trick, I will say that. The best part about the donut shop was its occupants. There were probably eight or ten octogenarians having their morning coffee and donuts. This was something they did every morning for the past who knows how many years. I love my octogenarians!

Six Flags
Now for the big fun, Magic M
ountain. Matthew and I have always been huge fans of roller coasters and we often visited Six Flags over Texas. When Matthew was here earlier this year he got a chance to visit Six Flags Magic Mountain and knew instantly he would be taking me there as soon as he could. Then he got it into his head that it would make for the perfect birthday location, AND IT DID!! Oh, man was I excited! We got there about ten minutes before the park opened and as soon as we were in we headed to The Riddler's Revenge. Up until today I had only heard of this ride, you stand up the entire time. Apparently the side of the park this ride is on is not as popular as the other side, so not only were we the first ones there, we were the only ones. So, my first roller coaster ride as a 30 yr old Californian was just me and my husband and the button they gave me when I told them, "It's my Birthday!" That button brought me many birthday wishes from the staff and other strangers, which is actually my favorite thing about birthdays, being told "Happy Birthday" from people you don't know. I love it!

Back to the ride, it wasn't that great. Certainly not what I was expecting. No problem, there were many, many more to try out. Next it was The Batman. There's one it Texas, but it was fun anyway. I give a 8 on the Fun-O-Meter. The Riddler only gets a 4. We rode some carnival
rides, those get 5s. Next up, The Colossus. If you ever watched Step by Step, then you will be interested to know that this coaster is the one they are riding in the intro, just an FYI. It's a lot like the Judge Roy Scream, for those of you who've been to SF over Texas. I'll give it a 6 on the Fun-O-Meter because it had a lot more hills than the JRS. We were onto The Superman from there, which from far away looks pretty interesting. It was not, it gets a 2. It is nothing like the Superman in Tejas. We did one more ride, the Ninja, that was also a 2 on the Fun-O-Meter. It was meant for children, but we wanted to ride everything we could. You have to make sacrifices. I almost forgot SCREAM. It doesn't, 4.

Bear with me just a little while longer. We are getting into the mind-blowing, off the charts, you-have-to-ride-it-to-understand, coasters now. There are three left and I'm going to work backwards for these. #3, Goliath: although it is identical in every way to The Titan in Texas, it is still and forever will be my favorite roller coaster. So, Goliath receives a 10. It has everything you need to make a roller coaster great. It has a 55 ft. drop, wide, deep turns that make you black out juuust a little,
and speed. Fantastic. #2, Tatsu: all that you really need to know about this ride is that you are on your stomach the entire time. I'm going to give it a 9 on the Fun-O-Meter because you are a little frightened at the thought of a small piece of metal being the only thing keeping you from plummeting to your death. It felt unnatural at times, not fun. And last, but definitely not least, #1, X2! I'm going to go back a bit on what I just said about how being frightened is not fun. With X2 it is and that's why it receives the highest rating today on the Fun-O-Meter, 11! It is like no other. It is difficult to find the right words to describe exactly what's going on with X2. For starters your seat, which is one of two, is suspended out over the track. So, you aren't riding on a track, you're being dangled out beside it. This gives your seat the ability to move freely and that it does. You go in every direction possible and it is terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time. I screamed for my momma, I screamed for death then I just prayed it would be over soon. All the while I was lovin' every minute of it. Wow, what a ride. Then it was time for these tired 30 yr olds to leave that place and get some food. Your age really catches up with you at a place like that. We'll go back though and I can't wait.

Thank you if you made it all the way through that. I shall proceed.

For lunch we went to a place called El Pollo Loco. It can be likened to a Mexican Chick-Fil-A. After lunch my sweet husband took me to Target so I could get an ICEE; I lov
e them so much! Then he said I could pick out a toy, and he let me get a darling pair of socks, too. I do love socks so much! Now I have caught you up to the present (I'm a really slow typist.) As soon as I post this, I'm going to put on some extra deodorant and we are headed off to dinner at an undisclosed location. I'm going to wear a jacket for the first time on my birthday this 30th day of June and I think I may be more excited about that than I am about anything else that's happened today. Well, maybe except for the strangers wishing me a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Dinner.. To Be Continued
The time has come where I must get ready for dinner. All I do know about th
is place is it is open 24 hours. It's not crappy though as I have been told and you may be thinking, but I can dress however I like. Thank you so much for sharing my day with me and as my favorite characters in the greatest movie ever say, "You know I love ya more 'n my luggage."