Happy Birthday Stranger

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5.18.2012 10:00pm

Scene: Downtown Seattle, Ohana Restaurant

After our rounds of drinks at Bathtub Gin, the crowd of four ladies headed onto the next stop in our bar hopping madness.  Now, two of these women, before this night, had been strangers to me.  It was my first night meeting them.  Three of us were in town to visit my best friend Jo.

As we walked the streets of Seattle a cart handing out red promotional sunglasses stopped me.  We ended up all getting a pair and proceeded to prance about the streets in our newfound matching fashions. It was almost out of a movie.

But it didn’t stop there.

We arrived at Ohana a few minutes later.  There was more conversation.  More getting to know eachother.  More meeting and greeting and sharing.  I was having so much fun.

And then it happened.

Staff came out with a piece of cake and candles.  Suddenly everyone was singing.

I was so humbled.  I had no words.  I nearly cried.  All I could do was cover my face.

Who were these amazing strangers?

There are some people who come into your life and it seems like they’ve always been there… arriving just at the right time to make you feel like a million bucks. Strangers are just people you don’t know waiting to be friends.

Forget Me Not

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afternoon 4.14.08

Scene: Claremont, CA- eastern outskirt city just barely in Los Angeles county

I didn’t know it then or maybe I would have been better at it.  But it was to be one of our very last visits in several years.  It was the last time I would to see any semblance of a heart in the body of my ex husband.

My daughter was turning two that week.  I was to get a visit with them finally.  I was so scared that the year away from me would mean that they would start to forget me.  I cried and cried before they arrived.  I had no idea what I was in for.  But I had to be strong.  I had to hold on.  Because faith is all we ever have.

As the van I once called mine pulled up with what was once my husband and most of my family I sucked it up and wiped the tears from my face.  I took a deep breath.

The car door opened.  Both of my babies were still in carseats.  My ex started to help both my older developmentally behind son- who was now four, and my daughter who was about to turn two get out of their car seats.

“Momma!” I heard my little boy cry out and point.

“Wait a minute.” my ex told him.

“Momma momma!”  he cried again.

I tried to hold back the tears.  I tried to be strong.  And then my daughter joined him as well.

“Mommy mommy!  My mommy!”

My son ran to me and hugged me.  My daughter flailed around as my ex struggled with the car seat.  Both of them were so happy to see me.  It was like a day hadn’t passed.  They still knew who I was.

“Wait a minute.” he repeated to my daughter.

She didn’t listen.  I could see my ex getting more and more agitated.  Is it wrong to say that I’m so glad neither of them listened?

“Mommy mommy!  My mommy!”

There are some things that you don’t forget.  I’m glad we were one of them.

Welcome to LA Mr. Bulian

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9.30.12 3:30pm

Scene: The Doll Factory- home to the Los Angeles banked track roller derby team, Silverlake

Beer Art by Rachel

I often spend time working and helping out with the local roller derby league.  I’ve wanted to play for ages but it simply hasn’t happened yet.  Nonetheless you will often find me volunteering and working when I can- either in the parking lot or at the first door to meet and greet fellow loyal new and old supporters of one of my favorite sports.

It is a rare occasion when I attend a Sunday game.  Sundays are generally reserved for my son first and then friends second.  However he was on his way back from seeing a Cubs game in Arizona with my dad.

It wasn’t a day for my son’s story.  It was a day for one of my long time fellow schoolmates… freshly arrived pluck from the middle of where we both called home for so long… before we found it here.

I’ve been ever so fortunate to encounter a multitude of romance stories, but theirs was.. well… it was theirs.  And it was just something that you’d know a million of their stories without knowing a single one just by looking at them.

“Hi Jen.” he said as he approached.

And I saw her.  This wonderfully vibrant and spunky spry gal by his side.

And although I knew he was bringing her before they got there, he didn’t need to say anything before I knew this was the love he’d always wanted.  Of the love they’d both always wanted.

Listening to their story made me laugh.  It made me puke rainbows.  It… made me ever so happy and hopeful.  It doesn’t just happen in movies.  It happens to people around me.  To good people with good hearts just as much as it does to shit bags.

I stood near them at the bout but gave them their space as they had their moments watching derby for perhaps the first time.  I drank my Schlitz and heckled San Diego over their “strategy.”

“Cute new uniforms don’t make up for the lack of skating ladies.  Skate the fuck up!”

And my friends were just standing in front of me happy and glowing.  I’d like to believe that some of that was because of derby.

“I like her.  She’s going to be my friend too.  You’re going to have to deal with that.  I’m not giving you a choice about it.”I said in a moment in between talks of art and their long trip out here.

He laughed.  We all did.

While I was waiting for them and working earlier I’d noticed an old couple sitting on a pair of lawn chairs watching over the lot. I wondered why.  When did watching people come and go in and out of an event become an event?

The couple held hands tightly.  The wind blew.  The sun shined a bit brighter.

Maybe it was because they saw you two.

It’s Friday and I’m in Love: A Comedy of Errors… of Heart

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Earlier today… 9.28.12

Scene: a spooky loft just outside downtown Los Angeles, Lincoln Heights

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This is the first Friday of being really in love that I’m not with you.. and may not see you.  The format is different but it’s because I’m different.

Fuck the format.

Fuck the rules.

Because in reality the memories and the moments aren’t always perfect.  Right darling?

“I’m getting involved with a writer.”

“It’s not so bad.  It’s pretty awesome actually.”

He was nervous.  I was too.  But that’s reality.  That’s… how things go.  How things.. come… and go.

Today I woke up and wrote yet another post elsewhere.  I was feeling enigmatic again.  Maybe a little bit profound as well.

The pages had to reload.  They timed out.  I went to link the song and the theme of this day.  I got the following message:

An error occurred. Please try again later.

And maybe it had a bit.  Maybe it was a sign to return to it later.  Or maybe it was just a coincidence.

We have plans for this weekend that were made in advance.  They may not happen.  It may be another day of quiet… or it could be another day with a phone call at an early hour… because you want to tell me how you feel.

Fridays aren’t the only days one can fall in love.  Because when you arrived…

Because when you disappeared.

Because when you reappeared.

Because…

Because…

Because…

An error occurred. Please try again later.

And I’m sorry.  I know I’m part of the reason that did.

Well… fuck you too damnit. I wish later were now… but the best things come with a fight… and sometimes it takes a couple before we finally get it right.

Even if it’s not tonight dear hero of my heart.

It’s Friday and I’m in Love: Not just better on the internet

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1.20.12

Scene: A dimly lit historical bar with famous sandwiches, downtown Los Angeles

I knew immediately when I saw him that I had to make him mine- if only for a moment.  We were both doomed.  I just didn’t know how much at the time.

Little did I know just how much the wind was going to be knocked out of me that first time we saw eachother… and to think it almost didn’t happen.

It had been a long day at work.  I was exhausted and just wanted to go home and go straight to bed.  Some Friday night huh?

He and I had chatted in textboxes previously.  He claimed he had never met anyone online before but the “friend” connection we shared seemed to calm him down a bit.

“Let’s see where this goes.” He’d later tell me would be the reason he went through with it.

Before our introduction there had been a few flags of caution.  Politically we were very different people.  And then there was one major break: despite mutually knowing a fellow artist, he abhorred art. Those two degrees of diametrical separation are arguably enough to make people run from eachother.  But hey who listens to signs anyway?

I got there late.  He was to meet me at one of my favorite historical cocktail bars downtown- Coles.

I took a deep breath as I walked up to the door.

“Haven’t seen my friend in awhile have you Wally?” I smiled to the doorman.

“Nope.” He smiled back.

“Wish me luck. I’m off to meet his potential replacement.”

Wally laughed and opened the door.

“You have a good night tonight.”

“Always.” I said with a wink.

And then time slowed down a bit… as it tends to in moments that…

Sitting at the bar was the man from the picture- clad in a black velvet blazer, dress shirt and tie.  He was even better looking in person… and holy hell that was a feat in it of itself.

“[Redacted]?”

“Hi Jen.”

Oh my…

How is this my life?

It’s Friday and I’m in Love: Hold On

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10:15 pm 8.15.2009

Scene: A room with clothes scattered everywhere and brightly colored paper lanterns, West Los Angeles

He was wonderful.

They always are.

And up until that night it had just built up and built up and…

I was still pretty broken.

He was too.

Perhaps he still is.

Perhaps… I’m not as much anymore.

But I digress.

He’d invited me to dinner.  We ended up at one of my most favorite places in the city.  I forget if he had ever been there.  He has this child like wonder about him with everything… you probably wouldn’t believe it even if he had.

They had bacon wrapped scallops!  Thinly sliced carne doused in garlic and other delicious baths lined a hibachi grill in the center of the table.

The whole experience was jovial.  Laughter filled the air with quips and punch about art, politics, polyamory, geekiness and oh so much more.

And then he brought me home.

The vibrant hum died down a bit. It was quiet and dark. Above us hung colored paper lanterns.  My clothes were a mess on the floor… but I still had mine on as well.

“Hold on.” I said breaking the silence a moment.

I turned around and started punching away at keys.

“Dance with me?”

And the stars got a bit brighter.  The brightly colored fish on the curtain smiled back at me and winked. He held me as we danced.

He had a firm but gentle presence about him. He commanded the evening and didn’t even need to say a word. He took my breath away with just his existence and…

“Gum?”

It was, hands down the most amazing first kiss I’ve ever had.

It’s Friday and I’m in Love: Santa Monica and Yale

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9:30am 6.12.11

Scene: The Big Blue Bus, Santa Monica, CA

Days to the office were filled with many a book.  Key clicks turned into stories turned into pages turned into… the bus ride from the Brewery didn’t feel like it was two hours long.

The number 10 Rapid Transit bus is the way to go.  It is the fastest way to get to the West side from downtown if you’re not headed towards Culver City.  That is not to say that the ride is short by any stretch of the imagination.  However, between sitting in traffic reading comic books and killing my clutch driving and relaxing a bit before going into the office, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about this decision.

People in Los Angeles will often go on tirades about the public transportation in Los Angeles.  Public transit has been magical for me for the most part.  Public transit allowed me the ability to relax and… meet a few interesting people.  Little did I know that today would be one of them.

I was typing away as per usual while I sat on the bus waiting for my stop.  Nothing about this day seemed special.  Nothing about this day seemed to offer anything new.

Until I saw him.

Do you ever see someone out and about and get the urge to talk to them but freeze up?  I felt like I was fifteen again.

Plaid button down shirt. Jeans. Converse. Scruffy unshaven face. Black rimmed glasses.

He popped a single ear bud out of his ear and paid his fare as he thanked the driver with a smile.  I just looked up from my computer and dropped my jaw.

Please let him come back here to sit.

It wasn’t meant to be.  He set his backpack down and sat down up front.

I scrawled down a few more words until I realized I was having difficulty concentrating.  I started folding away at cranes to calm down.  He was just sitting there listening to music.  I wanted to find out about his world.  I wanted to say hello.  Why was I being such a chickenshit?

As stop after stop happened I feared that it would be the one where he would disappear.  Suddenly as my stop approached, I got brave.  I wrote my phone number on a piece of origami paper and folded it in half to give to him.

I saw Aero Hobbies.  This is my stop.  It’s now or never.

Do it Jena.  Just suck it up and do it.

It’s Friday and I’m in Love: Go Pack No

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12:25pm 8.9.12

Scene: Los Angeles Union Station enroute to San Diego

“Is this the line for the train to San Diego?” he asked.

“Sure is.”

Meetings on top of meetings filled my mornings.  I’d rushed out the door and just narrowly missed the first train immediately after my last meeting.

No problem.  I’ll just book my ticket on the phone en route. I thought to myself. But that didn’t happen. I was there before I could finish the details.

I jetted to a quick pay station, grabbed a few snacks for the road and stopped finally at the huge line.  I’d just put my things down and caught my breath when he approached me.

“This is my first time taking a train here.” he said with his neatly printed out itinerary.

“Oh yeah? Where are you coming from?”

“I used to live in the OC.  I just moved to LA a couple of months ago. Now I live and work downtown.”

“Me too. It’s fantastic. Did you see the landing this weekend? I went to the Independant to watch it. It was amazing.”

“What landing?”

“Um on Mars. The Curiousity. It was an amazing weekend full of science.  There was a pretty big event with Bill Nye this weekend as well as some lectures and commontarry done by people who actually worked on it while we were watching the landing at the Independent.”

“Really? Do you know people at JPL?”

“Not personally but friends do.  The people around me are pretty amazing.” I said as I pulled out my cell phone to show a couple of videos from the weekend.

It was at this moment that the rest of the first impression caught me.  There he was looking like a normal midwest guy in jeans, t-shirt and… Packers hat.

“I take it you’re going down for the Chargers game?”

“Packers.” he said as he motioned to the hat.

“No. Chargers.”

“You’re going too?”

“Yeah my dad gave me tickets so I’m going with a friend. Where’s the rest of your crew?”

“I’m going alone. Took the day off. Everyone else couldn’t come. They’re in the office.”

We ended up talking about work- as is the common tarry here in Los Angeles.  His world is very conventional and structured.  Mine is and well…

“Do you like going to work everyday?”

“Do I have to wear pants?”

He laughed.

“What do you do?”

“I’m an artist.”

“But what do you do?”

“I’m a storyteller.”

“And you get paid for that?”

“Sometimes.”

“Do you love it?”

“Very much so and not at all at times. Like days when I have to go in office and wear pants when the work could be done elsewhere without them. But then there’s days like this one where I can jam out two meetings and then head down south on an adventure with a friend because I don’t have to worry about an office.”

He smiled again. Even if we existed in two other worlds, I think there was a connection… if only for a moment.

The line started to move.

“Better keep up.”

We looked at eachother for a moment in silence as we walked. He attempted to keep up. I continued my pace towards the train weaving between slow moving weekend travelers and small children.

“I see an outlet. I need to grab it so I can work.”

I entered the row and looked to my side as I unpacked my laptop.  As I found my seat we looked at each other one more time. He would go one way. I would go another.

Maybe in a different world we would have exchanged information as we sat on the train or even hung out briefly at the game and fallen in love.  Maybe for a moment…

But alas some things just aren’t meant to be.

Cold feet and a hot man: Is this our pre-honeymoon in Vegas?

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8pm 1.29.12

Scene: Delta airlines flight 4815 enroute to Las Vegas

Photo: All rights reserved by exxonvaldez

I’m still not at 100%.  Sickness on Thursday.  A bit better Friday.  Went home early from being out Saturday.  Lecture from dad earlier.  Lecture from the boyfriend after that.

Window seat… without a window.

There were signs that I shouldn’t be here.  There were signs that maybe I should hold back.  But I was stubborn.  I wanted to come out here.  I was going to do it.

Meanwhile a few hundred miles away, a handsome suited gent is eagerly awaiting my arrival.

I can see a blanket of lights out of the passenger in front of me’s window.  This flight isn’t full.  Would it have been so bad to assign me a different seat that actually had a window?

Four dresses rest in a rolled suitcase nestled below the plane.  They weren’t supposed to be.  But this plane also has the smallest carry on stow-aways I have seen yet.

I decided to pack light.  My bra is stuffed with money.  My credit card and id are in my pocket.  I really hope they don’t lose my luggage.  Please don’t let there be yet one more annoyance to deal with.

I sit in the quiet wash and wonder if this was the best decision.  Maybe dad’s plan to guilt me succeeded.  I felt bad before I even got on the plane.

Meanwhile a few hundred miles away, a handsome suited gent is eagerly awaiting my arrival at one of the most posh and up and coming hotels on the strip.  I know that he’s hoping this will be a weekend where we fall in love.  I fear he may already be dangerously close to it.

I’ve been so guarded with my heart that I have forgotten what it’s like to have someone that gives a shit like that.  I’m so used to being the one who does.

Meanwhile a few hundred miles away, a handsome suited gent- my boyfriend, eagerly awaits my arrival.  He says this is the first of many trips he hopes to take with me.  That he wants me to be able to take care of things with my family.  That he wants a family.  That he adores me.

I know he’s hoping this will be a weekend where we fall in love.  I fear he may be dangerously close to it.

I feel the drop of the plane.  We are getting close already.  I remember the last time I was on a plane to meet a gentleman.  Of the build up and the anticipation.  Of everything in between.  Perhaps waiting would have been better.  Was this the right decision?  Will this be the make or break for us?  I just posted the facebook status change- something I hadn’t done with anyone else since I got onto the site years ago.

I’m thinking about my biggest fan.  I’m thinking about the bartender.  I’m thinking about my first love.  I’m thinking about the last lover I had before I left Illinois the first time.  I’m thinking about the rockabilly geek from a couple of summers ago.  I’m thinking about the suited gent from the past holiday.   I’m thinking about…

Meanwhile a few hundred miles away, a handsome suited gent- my boyfriend eagerly awaits my arrival.

I know he’s hoping this will be a weekend where we fall in love.  I fear he may be dangerously close to it.  Maybe I am too.  But are either of us ready?

Olympic family spirit

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1:00pm 2.29.12

Scene: a home in residental Riverside, California, sixty miles away from Los Angeles

Image courtesy of Zimbio via Source: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images Europe

My dad loves baseball season, but for a few moments there was some downtime so he started to watch the Olympics.  Some of my coworkers and friends are all a buzz about this.  I’m not one to rush to watch.

“They’re from San Juan Capistrano. I wonder why they came from there…” my dad chimed, attempting to get our attention away from the game of cards my son and I were playing in the next room.

“Dad I think you’re the only person not in a bar who actually cares about the Olympics.

“I bet Ethan doesn’t even know what the Olympics are.”

“What are the Olympics?” my son asked me.

“Well son the Olympics are a celebration every four years where countries come together to prove they are the best at the sports no one would give a crap about any other time of the year except for the Olympics. They want to compete to show they are the best of the best for their country.  Can you guess what sports are being showcased at the Olympics?”

“Um..”

“Think about it.  Sports that no one cares about.”

“Swimming?”

“Yes that’s one.  Can you think of any more?”

My son looked at the stack of Martian Fluxx cards in front of us then back at the screen where my dad was watching beach volleyball.  Perhaps he’s too young to care about the scantily clad beach bunnies.  Perhaps there really is some of me inside of that young brain of his.

“Mom can we just play cards?”

That’s my boy.  That’s my boy.

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