Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yesterday was a great day. Not only did I get new boots and a new purse in the mail, but I also got a haircut on Saturday, and it feels great. Not too much shorter, just enough inches off that it feels healthy. I also spent yesterday evening with an old friend of mine, Rina.

Rina and I were classmates since kindergarten, and best friends throughout high school. I loved being with her family, and we always had such a good time together. Around the end of high school, we began to drift apart. When I got a job post high school, we grew even further apart. At one point, we just stopped talking altogether, and went on to live our lives. I always wondered about her, searched for her a bit (I'm savvy at online stalking), to no avail.

Recently one evening, I was talking online with my friend Will, who actually had a crush on Rina back when we were Sophomores in high school- a crush that wasn't reciprocated. Will asked me if I had seen her around or heard anything about her. Other than hearing about this place she worked at some point, no, I hadn't heard anything. We searched on networking giant, Facebook, to see if we could find anything. We found someone in my grade, in our city, with her first name and a Japanese middle name. Could it be her, Will asked. I remembered that middle name, and said YES! My stomach was a ball of nerves just thinking about getting in contact with someone I had previously been so close with, the ending of a friendship that had no real reason it ended. Will, being bolder than I, sent her a friend request. Meekly, I sent her a message with the usual, "Hi, how are you? You look great!" theme.

Weeks went by and I heard nothing. Figured she probably didn't give a crap about me, which was fine. I got emails from Will telling me that he hadn't heard from her either. Time passed. Suddenly, I got a friend request from Rina. Wow, she completely bypassed the exploratory email! When I accepted her request, she sent me a message saying, "Wow! You're MARRIED!" Side note: I hear that a lot from people I knew back in the days. Why is it so hard to believe that Amber Brown got married? Is it because I'm insane? Maybe.

Anyway, we traded messages back and forth, catching up on the small details when she mentioned possibly getting together. What? This is moving too fast for me (Perhaps THAT'S why people are shocked I'm married? I can't make a decision?)! Still, I agreed and we set up a early evening dinner to catch up. I planned out carefully what I'd wear: my new brown boot cut cords, my teal v-neck sweater, my brown leather Coach bag, my Bulova watch, and my kickass new black boots. I wanted to look cute. I even went to far as to get my hair done. Okay, I'd needed a cut for ages, and decided now was a great time with Thanksgiving on the horizon as well. All day I was nervous, wondering how we'd act. Would it be awkward? Would it be like nothing changed? Would we be fake?

The time finally arrived. I clomped down the office's stairwell in my 4 inch high boots, and prepared to meet my past face to face. I heard a car beep, walked further out there and watched a girl walk away from the car. Tiny, asian, peppy. Could that be Rina? She turned around and yelled, "Amber!?" I waved and yelled, "HI RINA!" we stomped over to each other (we were both wearing heels) and immediately hugged. We got in the car and began to drive (She picked me up because I'm a loser who doesn't drive). As we gabbed about what's new ("You're MARRIED! OH MY GOD!"), we realized we really didn't have a set plan, and ended up at the Promenade. We settled on a deli and got comfortable.

We talked about the last ten years, and what we'd been up to. We remarked on accidental run-ins with former classmates, and the random relationships we had with old classmates ("No WAY you dated that guy!"), just the little things. We talked and talked, laughed and exclaimed over things each had done over the time that had passed. I haven't laughed like that in ages! Oddly, there were no other patrons in the deli with us, and we were making a bit of noise, talking and gossiping as we used to.

Most people who know me know that I don't have very many friends, much less women friends. I'm one of those people who has a ton of random "How's it going" friends, but no real good friends to hang out with. All throughout dinner we brought up things we had done together, things we remembered, people we remembered, and brought up the back stories of other events in our friendship. I had a great time, and we promised we'd meet up again really soon, possibly Monday. How cool would it be if I had Monday get-togethers with her?

This whole thing is so interesting to me. It's like how I got back together with Paul. He already knew so much from my life, because at one point he was part of it. This makes it so easy to be YOU around them. Sure, I dressed all cute, but it wasn't stuff I didn't already own, ya know? It was nice talking about things so far in the past that even Paul wouldn't know about it- but Rina did. We had a history, we have a friendship to build on. That's really cool.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How I Spent My Saturday

After a long day of shopping with my dad, I came home exhausted, but still anticipating the night ahead: possibly baking the Sprinkles cupcake mix I picked up(and making my own buttercream) or baking the pumpkin cobbler recipe from Williams Sonoma. Unfortunately, something else was in store for me.

Falling on my face. Literally, falling on my face. Luckily my knee would break the fall, and no bloody gashes or abrasions would mar my pretty face/hands. No, my knee would take one for the team, so to speak, and cushion my fall.

The night began like any other Saturday night, with me begging Paul to go out to eat because I hate cooking on a weekend, especially since I had just spent all day slaving away at the malls. Ha ha.

Finally, after harassing my dear husband long enough, he gave in to trying out this new Mexican place a few blocks away, enough blocks to not want to walk. So I put some yoga pants on (Paul had just washed them, isn't ge a great husband?), and being lazy I decided to forgo the actual act of putting on shoes, and slipped on a pair of crocs (mary jane style, which is still no excuse for being an adult and owning crocs, I know) and headed out with Paul.

The Mexican place was on a street that has a popular bar (Paul's been there many times as his friends hang out there) and a few good Chinese places, so we had to park around the corner and across the street. As we were walking to the restaurant to order our food to go, we passed by a store called "My Baby Jo", a vintage store that has some pretty cool stuff, including a vintage cardigan with kittens embroidered on it that i couldn't take my eyes off of. It was precisely as I was looking back at the sweater and calling to Paul, "Honey! It's a sweater with KITTIES on it!" when my stupid clunky croc hit a ledge in the concrete (the cement had been broken, so there was a hole AND a ledge) and I pivoted onto my face, spreading out like a water balloon on contact with a sidewalk. My purse was still somehow on my shoulder, only like the rest of me, it had sprawled out across the sidewalk.

It took seconds to fall, but felt like milliseconds. One moment I was coveting a sweater, the next I heard a smacking sound and felt the ground on my face. Paul was standing beside me, looking down at me with his mouth open, incredulous. He told me to get up, because I had beefed it in an alley and a car was waiting to turn. Since the option of being swallowed into the ground was unavailable at that time, I had to have Paul heft me to my feet, as I started to black out. That damn vasovagal syncope began to rear it's "medical oddity" face, and I got woozy. My knee hurt, my hands stung and I was about to be sick, right across the street from where Paul's friends hang out. On a Saturday night. The horror.

I told Paul I was going to black out, and he made me breathe in and out as I staggered to the restaurant, only a few yards away. We got inside, I leaned on the counter and laughed my ass off. It's one of my coping mechanisms- before I began to pass out when hurt, my go-to move was laughing in the face of extreme pain. Ha ha on YOU, sprained ankle! Now the joke's on me, "you laugh at my pain?", the ankle said, "I make the blood drain out of your head and you fall down. How do you like THAT?"

We ordered our food to go and I sat down to inspect the damage. One busted knee, two red, stinging palms and a swimming head. Sadness. More than anything I was angry because the pants were newly washed, and now I had to go and get blood and bits of skin on the inside. Way to go, Amber. I couldn't bend my knee, and it was starting to swell already. My leg began to hurt from my knee to my hip bone, and I couldn't help but feel sorry for myself. I really began the pity party when Paul started laughing at me. "Why didn't you call out or reach for me? I feel bad that I didn't catch you", he said. I had to remind him that had I KNOWN I was falling I could probably have done something about it, ya know? He marveled on how bad my hand-eye coordination is, and said, "You know, most people could catch themselves". I said, "Most people aren't morons, then".

Finally our order was ready, and I hobbled back to the car, Paul's hand on mine with the reminder to not look at anything other than the floor. It was then I saw the shattered remains of a packet of saltines, one of four that I had filched from Dad's lunch that day. Seeing it on the floor like that, its plastic wrapper looking so dejected and unloved, I actually contemplated picking it back up. Heck, I knew where it had been (before the sprawl), and I'll be honest, I was quite looking forward to snacking on it at work the following Monday. Still, my paranoia about bending down and eating floor crackers got the best of me, and I apologized for wasting its precious salty life and moved on. Slowly.

When we got back to the car, Paul immediately put the food in the backseat, and grabbed the first aid kit out of the trunk. Not just any first aid kit, this one is one Paul created for all the various sports injuries he has to deal with. So, he swabbed my knee with alcohol (oh my god, I almost passed out again from that pain alone), covered it with a large bandage, and then grabbed an instant ice pack and saran-wrapped it to my knee. Seriously. He has a neat little stick thing that the wrap goes on so it's easy to wrap knees and ankles and such. If there is ever an accident, you can trust my husband- fluent in first aid!

At home, I hobbled up the stairs to our apartment and fell onto the couch, where my loving husband laughed at me ("I'm sorry honey, it's funny!") and brought me my food, drinks and silverware. The pain was no longer the burning pain of an abrasion, now it was the throbbing pain of a swollen knee, how fun this was. I took three Tylenols, one rapid release and two nighttime, and got comfortable. That night's sleep was miserable.

The next morning we were going out for breakfast so I had to get dressed. I tried to put pants on, but with a knee that won't bend and a hot day combined, I just put on a pair of denim shorts. It wasn't pretty, but at least I could walk without grimacing when the fabric brushed my knee.

Now it's been almost 5 days since "the incident", and my knee doesn't hurt as much. it's still hard to bend, but only because it's scabbed over by now, and anything that causes my knee to bend pulls on the scabs. Disgusting. The bruises are darker and my leg has stopped aching, the swelling is mostly gone. What a day I had.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I love music. It's like books, where you can find one that means exactly what you've been trying to say, without actually saying it. That's why there existed the Mix Tape. When tapes began to fade away into obscurity, Mix CDs came about (and I made quite a few of those myself), and now you can literally send people itunes song lists. Gotta love technology.

Today Laura and I were talking about a friend of hers who has an indie music career, selling music on MySpace and CD Baby. That reminded me of my old high school crush, Genji Nakano, who also has a band named FourWayFree, and a page on CD Baby , where you can hear/buy some of his/their beautiful songs. When I hear them, I remember our high school days, hanging out with him, adoring him from afar while he dated around, so sure that someday I'd get him for my own (and I kind of did, later).

As I listen to the first few words of "Gasoline", "You said, is she pretty, would you like me better if I looked like that", I am taken back to the days when he used to call me at night, playing the piano (he had this knack for playing a song without even needing the music) and singing me little songs. How do you not fall for a guy like that? Anyway, "Gasoline" plays and I just nod my head, YES. This song is what every woman wants to hear, "Trust me, she's not you". Even though Genji and I have more than lost touch (aside from one day he gave me a ride from the bus stop, one of those random things just happen oddly), I'm so proud of him, I know he wanted this for as long as I've known him.

These songs bring me back to the era of mix tapes and going to school all with the sole intent on seeing that one person. Then I remember his comment in high school, "Your cousin is beautiful, did you know that?" Ah. Yes. Thank you, I did know that. It doesn't hurt as much now as it did then, because at the end of the day, I was the one he used to joke with and call late at night. Still, what is better? Being the beautiful one, or the one to rely on for advice? Ha. Ahhh, I guess you never grow out of being completely self-conscious.

Okay, okay, enough reminiscing about the days of old, the days of high school (how did that become days of old?? Good lord), the days when we used to hang out and joke and watch tv together. As the last edition of the Culver High newspaper read, "We'll always have breakfast" (they let you give little "shout outs" to people who meant something to you). Inside jokes are the best, no?

Congrats Genji, I wish you and the boys the very best of luck, and thanks for "Gasoline", it really touches my heart.

Readers: you should really listen to their songs, they're fabulous. And I'm not just saying that from the point of view of a girl who used to love one of the singers!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

I have a confession: I have eaten two cans worth of French's Fried Onions in as many weeks. I had bought the first can with the intention of making the world's best side dish ever- the Green Bean Casserole. Then I got hungry. And ate the whole can (shared a few rings with Paul, though). Had to go to the store and get a new can. And ate it yesterday for breakfast.

I'm disgusting.

And now I'm out of stuff to make green bean casserole, and I'm afraid to buy more cans.

Can't hear you, lost my voice

It's been five days since I've lost my voice. Well, technically, I haven't lost it. It's just not up to it's usual... ability to work. It kind of sucks. I feel perfectly fine. No coughing, sneezing, any signs of any sickness at all. I just HAVE NO VOICE. I'm speechless. For those of you who know me in actual life, you know that this is one of the worst things to happen to me! I talk all the time- to myself, to other people, to the radio, on the phone. I feel otherwise normal, which is probably why it surprises me whenever I attempt to talk. My voice sure would have come in handy this weekend, when I was treated to lunch at The SOUTH PARK STUDIOS!

Remember I mentioned the parent at Paul's school who is a producer for South Park? Well, since Paul was coaching as well as working the football playoffs on Saturday, he didn't want me to have to be there all day long like he was going to have to, but he knew I wanted to watch his team play what would probably be their last game. So I asked the wife of the producer who lives near us if I could get a ride home with her, as she had asked me millions of times if I needed a ride to just call her. She told me she'd love to have me, and if I wasn't pressed for time, we'd go to lunch (she and I, and her 11 year old daughter).

After the game (they lost, sadly), we got ready to go, and she asked me where I'd like to eat. We tossed around a few ideas, and her daughter mentioned, "Why don't we have lunch at South Park?" Inside I was thrilled, but didn't want to appear too stalkery, and said nonchalantly, "Yeah, that's fine with me". They get Gourmet Catering there, and since a large portion of the staff were vegetarians, there was a good chance I could get something good to eat. We showed up and saw it was Mexican day, and I ordered a lunch of vegetarian enchiladas and rice. With a side of cookies and fruit. :) I poured myself a glass of lemonade (they had pitchers of iced tea and lemonade), and followed the daughter into the studio, where I saw all sorts of memorabilia and framed posters celebrating their 10th anniversary and things like that. I met various people working there, sound techs and animation gurus. We settled into the producer's office and ate our lunch. As we were eating, guess who walked in? Trey Parker, one of the creators of South Park. Of course I was stunned, and shook his hand, and tried to speak, but all that came out was a horrid, "Nice to meet you" interspersed with squeaks and croaks. Fantastic. So that was appalling. To make me feel better, the daughter took me on a tour of the studios, where I saw the room dedicated to CANDY, the drawers filled with gums of all kinds (sugar-free and regular), the tubs filled with individual cookies and snacks. There were two refrigerators, one for the regular food items, and the other for drinks only. It was heaven. Before we left, the producer took us into an editing bay where we heard/saw the rough shots of this upcoming week's episode. Running on Wednesday, they were not even close to finishing, so they've been pulling all-nighters trying to get it done.

It was seriously one of the funnest places I've ever been, and when I was saying goodbye to the producer he said I was very lucky, as not many people have met Trey Parker! It was a lucky day for me, for sure.

On another note, as I was washing dishes last night (oddly enough, even though I FEEL normal, this voice thing really exhausts me. When I try too hard to talk, I feel this pressure in my ears and throat, and it's just not FUN! I mention it now because I've been very lazy dish-wise lately- I've had no extra energy at all), I began to think about how I want to be a writer. I'm almost 30 now, why not finally get started on that novel I've always wanted? After posting this , and this and then this , I thought about our relationship, and how many things happened to get us here. I then thought that despite my preference to be a poor man's David Sedaris, writing short non-fiction stories about my life, I may do better writing this story as fiction that well, isn't fiction. So, I'm going to start on that right now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Why I love my husband

There are a trio of special days this week, yesterday was our anniversary, today is election day, and tomorrow is my 29th birthday. It's funny when you think about it, how things are so different between your family and your husband's family. Take for example, our anniversary.

Now, I'm not making a case out of this because I dislike my in-laws. I adore them, but as with any new family members, you're not really sure where you stand. As of November 1st, I've been with Paul for five years. His mom and I are quite good friends, always chatting via email, and going to family things together. Paul is eight years behind his brother, and 7 years behind his sister, and is often treated like a child, despite the fact of being the only one to move out permanently when he was 18, and paying for his own high school education at a private school, and actually helping to FUND his sister's wedding, while in high school. It's odd to me, that although he may not have a college degree, he's the only sibling who has worked his butt off for ten years doing whatever he can to provide for himself, yet they still treat him like a charity case. It's easy to lord your college education over your brother when you didn't have to pay for it yourself. Maybe if he had been given the chance, Paul would have gone to UCLA, or CAL like his siblings. He wasn't given that chance. That's why it incenses me to think about how he's treated. When it comes to dinners with the family, we were recently upgraded from napkins to rolls, because how can we screw up bread?

The difference between our families is obvious to me, but he tends to not think about it. My family called, emailed and sent cards on our anniversary, recognizing that yes, one year of marriage is a milestone! Congratulations, you two! Even my blogger friends left us congratulations on various forums. Paul's family? Not a peep. Not a card, email, phone call, text message. Nothing. It kind of breaks my heart, because I've seen the contrast in how our anniversary was celebrated, and how my brother and sister in laws anniversaries are celebrated. They get cards, phone calls, VISITS, and my MIL will take a day off work to go visit them, and take the kids off their hands for a little alone time. And perhaps this is childish of me, as any anniversary is special, but isn't a first anniversary more special than a 6 year anniversary?

I hate to sound self-absorbed, I really do, but I feel bad for Paul. It seems that no matter what he does, people don't recognize how amazing and loving he is. He's by far the most emotional of the siblings, easily hurt but not quite willing to say anything, and part of me really wants to say something to his mom, because she's the list keeper in the family, she's the one who makes the big deal of things. Why can't Paul just get a little bit of recognition that he needs? That he DESERVES?

We talked about this last night at dinner, how although my brother is now living in Australia, my dad now has Paul as a surrogate son. Sure, he's a lot sportier and manly than my brother was (no offense Shawn), but I've heard my Dad gloat about Paul, and it makes me happy and sad for Paul. Dad likes to tell people about his son-in-law who is a teacher. He's a coach, and inspired by John Wooden. He's a good guy, 6 foot 4! Huge! A big teddy bear, he says. Paul's family? "He's just baby Paul". No one brags about how he's instrumental in children's lives. Not a peep about how he's supported himself on his own, after his dad passed away when he was 19. No, they just criticize him about his weight, and lack of college education.

Sometimes I just wish we only had my family. I'm not saying his family doesn't love him beneath the hurtful comments, but how hard is it to tell your son, or your brother than you're proud of him? That's all he needs. And perhaps a little "Congrats on one year" would have been nice too. After all, we are the only siblings to have paid for our entire wedding ourselves. Sure it wasn't a fancy Yacht Club shindig, nor was it a Bel-Air Country club fete, but it was in our budget, and we were able to save for years to put it on. Now how about a little recognition for how hard Paul works for this, in-laws?

Monday, November 3, 2008

On this day...

On this day in 1912, Ora Durham was born. She was to become Ora D. Brown when married, have four children, six grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, with three more on the way (seriously). Also on this day, ninety-five years after her birth, her youngest grandchild would be married. That would be me.

As most people know, Grandma was the only grandma I had growing up. Past the age of 7 or so, she was the only grandparent left as well. She sure made of for the lack of grandparents, by being everything and everywhere for us. Even though she had passed on in 1996, there isn't a day that goes by without thinking of her. It's because of that, Paul and I decided to get married on her birthday. Now I have something to share with her for the rest of our lives (other than the fact that I was born two days after her birthday).

On this day last year, at this very moment, I was walking with my dad down the aisle. We'd had a momentary freak-out, when he pulled his bedazzled sunglasses off his eyes (he'd picked them up without anyone else knowing, when usually I'm there to tell him which ones are feminine) while we were waiting for the "great unveiling" of the bride and father. He was unsure of where to put his glasses, so we had to hustle for a bit and cram them in his inside jacket pocket. I swear, literally at the last second before the doors were opened, my dad was stuffing those glasses into his pocket.

Now that it's taken me a half an hour to get here from the last paragraph (ah, the joys of blogging while at work), at this very moment last year, I was sitting on the chairs at the altar, tears silently falling down my cheeks. I had just passed by my aunts and uncles, my cousins and nieces and nephews, all people who had seen me grow up, and now were watching me get married- the baby in the family. I saw my aunt Sharon crying (although smiling as she did it), and when I saw that, I knew my Grandma was watching. I knew that she was proud of me, and proud of who I was about to marry. As the childrens choir began to sing the songs we had picked out, I heard a girl's voice begin singing "The Rose", a song that brings me to tears every time I hear it. Hearing that angelic voice singing at our wedding just caused the tears to begin to flow, and my vision to blur. One of our altar servers (who was also the star player on Paul's A Boys Football team) saw me crying, and began to make faces and mimic a scene from Napoleon Dynamite, with "The Rose" spelled out in sign language. With that, I started laughing, shoulders shaking as I mouthed a "Thank you" to one of my favorite students ever.

At this point you should know that Patrick wasn't just asked to be an altar boy. No, we had specifically chosen him when we got engaged, and had also invited his family to the wedding reception. For weeks leading up the wedding, he would do the countdown whenever he saw me. "Hey Amber, 3 weeks and 4 days until the big day!" His mom would tell me about how excited he was to be going to the wedding, and taking part in such a huge day for us. I never thought about it, but at Paul's school he's a bit of a celebrity, and our wedding was announced in the church's weekly paper, inviting all members of the parish to attend. The church can hold hundreds of people, and we had at least 300 there, students and families who had come to watch and celebrate with us- watching their beloved "Coach Paul" finally tie the knot.

So many things happened that people didn't see. Another family at Paul's school, of Polish descent stood in the vestry with my dad and I, waving at us and smiling. After the wedding they would come up to me with a bouquet of red and white roses, telling me that it's a tradition in their culture to give the bride roses for her wedding. They're already one of the sweetest families ever, and that just added to our adoration for them. When Paul and I were standing outside the church, finally married, one of his kindergartners was standing outside with her friend, and the friend said, "Which one is the bride?" and the student said, "The one who isn't Coach Paul, duh!". Things come back to my memory, and I just smile- it was the best day of my life, despite how ambivalent I am about that dress (which I will be trying on tonight before I finally box it up).

That day was so special for us. We became a new family, we got to celebrate with all our family and friends, and Paul's team won their first playoff game- without Paul. Patrick's mom (who is now art teacher at Paul's school) told Paul that it was amazing to see so many people who had gone straight from our reception (leaving in the middle) to their playoff game, all dressed in their fancy church/wedding clothes. The boys were dressed in suits, and quickly changed in the school's bathrooms to be ready to win one for Coach Paul, as were my orders to each of them as they came up to say goodbye at the wedding. Another of our altar servers, Marty, said to us when we came up to the teenager's table, "This food is GOOD". His own mom had gotten married there just 7 months before, and had the same food, so I said, "This is what your mom had, what did YOU eat?" Apparently she had given him chicken fingers, the kid's plate, and he was honored to have the grownup's food. It's little things like that that we'll remember for a lifetime.

So, on this day last year, I became a wife. And on this day last year, I was given a whole new set of memories to cherish, and today I will taste the top tier of our wedding cake, because I'm sure it's going to be pretty terrible. Good thing we're going to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner! I'll have to pick up a tasty cheesecake for dessert.