31 January 2004

free prize inside

In fifty-five hours I start my new job.
Consider this a farewell e-mail.

I've been trying to prepare myself by sleeping in as much as possible and trying to complete of all the tasks which require a fully-rested brain (filling out my 1040, revising screenplays, buying new clothes, etc). Because in fifty-five hours, I will enter: The Stupified Zone. I most certainly will make an effort to continue sending e-mail updates, but I'm just warning you I cannot be held responsible for their content.

Say whatever you like about, "Oh, you'll get used to working at 7 a.m." Ha! Never! Remember, I have an inner raccoon* which, besides be preoccupied with the collection of shiny objects, prefers a nocturnal lifestyle. I was always the last person asleep at slumber parties, I was the only eight-year-old I knew who watched Johnny Carson, and I worked as a projectionist for almost five years. Old habits die hard.

*Yes, there's a raccoon and a squirrel in here. Some people have one large inner animal, I have two small ones, and don't give me any flack about it or I'll throw nuts into your engine and knock over your trash.

So, this may very well be the last coherent e-mail you ever receive from me. Fifty-five hours from now, ANOTHER M.A.D. Hapa will emerge, this person that no one has seen since the days of catching the 7:10 a.m. bus to St. Mary's. Say what you will, but I have witnesses who will testify to my inability to dress myself or write in compete sentences. Max, Maggie, Gen, I know you'll back me up on this.

In other news, Barry is still looking for a job in Orange County (Plan A), but just in case, he has a Plan B lined up: which basically involves partnering with a pair of Mac guys in Torrance who are excited to have someone with a non-Indian accent to answer the phone. When he 's not looking for work, Barry has been keeping busy by participating in a "masters" swim program and showing me the Orange County sites (The Gap and Ikea (both twice this week), Banana Republic, and Target).

Today we went to Hollywood Blvd. where I finally got my first dose of L.A. weirdness when a man wearing a pink tank top and a pointy witch hat gave me the "s'up," head gesture on the way to Rosco's Chicken and Waffles. I am still totally underwhelmed. I come from a city where they make donuts in the shape of male genitalia and people live in trees. C'mon, L.A., you're behind the times!

So, in a tribute to Portland's weirdness, I offer you this: I will send a free California souvenir to whomever comes up with the best interpretation of the dream I had two nights ago.

I was at the beach with a boogie board waiting for the surf to kick up. I waited and waited, but instead of becoming more turbulent, the surf turned completely flat and then turned into a sea of pretzel sticks. Yes, the ocean developed a solid coating of pretzel sticks.

I was disappointed at the change and went to find Barry to let him know we'd have to spend the afternoon doing something else. He arrived around the same time little bunny rabbits started scampering in from out in the ocean (they eat the pretzels, you see). Barry took one look at the rabbits and began hurrying us inland, but it was too late. Very large rabbits that walked upright and wore people clothes soon crossed the shoreline. One came directly towards us and Barry rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. The rabbit wore red satin boxer shorts and talked like Mike Tyson. He ushered us in to a large warehouse where other people-sized rabbits tried to sell us kitchen appliances.

What does it mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Send me your thoughts and I might send you a prize.

25 January 2004

you can't always get what you want

Hey, did you hear the State of the Union? The number of unemployment claims went down in the last quarter! THAT'S BECAUSE THE REPUBLICANS HAVE TERMINATED ANY AND ALL UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSIONS. Yes indeed, as of last Wednesday I am no longer suckling the withered teet of the government.

The good news is, I had a great interview with XXXX (scuba diving people) this week and I start my new job on February 3rd. It's a little less money than I hoped for, but I get 4 weeks of paid time off and a 9/80 work schedule (80 hours of work over 9 weekdays). In exchange for working the horrifying hours of 7am - 5pm, I get every other Friday off.

All of the people at XXXX seem very down to earth and nonjudgemental, which is 180 degrees from Entercom and my #1 criteria for a new job. I am glad to know that a steady income is on the way, but I can't help but feeling like a teeny bit of failure as a writer. I'll still be working on and circulating my screenplays (I sent out 18 query letters last week... got a rejection letter from Flower Films yesterday) but, instead of sitting poolside with a laptop I'll once again be bellying up to the cubicle and basking in the glow of fluorescent lighting.

The job is a blend of event planning, copywriting/ proofreading, and admin. It's a new position with lots of room to grow and take on new responsibilities. I'll be doing a little work on a dive magazine and helping to plan events in exotic locals (beats the Car Toys tent sale). No travel for the first year, but it's in the cards.

To celebrate, we spent the weekend hanging out with Barry's family and looking at "apartment communities." I know, I know, it's what I said I wanted for, a steady income and sunshine, and Barry's extended family couldn't be nicer. Still, I feel a little like the Little Mermaid... you remember the story: chick leaves her watery kingdom where she has total freedom to lead the straight life on land. Hmmm, ignore the fact that in the original version she dies at the end.

Okay, but listen to this: this apartment we looked at today advertised that the units were decorated in one of two schemes, "wheat" or "moss." They were playing "Legally Blonde 2" in the "clubhouse" and we viewed apartment layouts described as, "The Rhone" and "The Labio" or some rot like that (Sabio? Fabio, maybe? No one advised the brochure people on proper font selection).

I'm not ready to start highlighting my hair and subscribing to Redbook magazine, okay? I can't live somewhere that makes me feel like an imposter and I won't pay $1,300 a month for an apartment just because it has sconce lighting and an ergonomic thermostat! Someone give me a paper bag to breathe in...

So, as the saying goes. You can't always get what you want, but sometimes, you might find, you get what you need.

18 January 2004


As someone who likes to know exactly what she'll be doing next Tuesday at 11:32 a.m., the upcoming unstructured week has me feeling both confused and liberated.

Finally . . . I can get around to fixing the crack in my windshield washer fluid reservoir, making a cityscape out of all that styrofoam I collected, and sending out some query letters. AND, thanks to our recent trip to Tijuana, I can do all of the above while wearing a Mexican wrestler mask and sipping on an Amaretto-enhanced beverage.

Yes, Tijuana. As we crossed "Rio Tijuana" (little more than a puddle), we saw at least a dozen children begging for money using empty McDonald's cups and singing songs with no melody. Barry observed, "It makes you feel good to be an un employed American." Maybe not good, but at least grateful.

But, HEY, this is Tijuana, where America comes to party! If all the poverty gets you down, there are at least 100 pharmacies within a 10 block radius ready to dispense you Prozac, Viagra, Premarine, Codine or any number of reduced-price prescription drugs. Drugs not working quickly enough? Well, amigo, perhaps you need a shot of Tequila and an over-sized sombrero. That's what all Americans like. I bought the aforementioned mask and a handful of souvenirs and prayed I wasn't significantly contributing to the problem.

Ultimately, I think the trip was worthwhile as Barry and I thought of a great money-making venture. Since we were unable to find a postcard that said, "Tijuana is for lovers," we considered creating our own (featuring a bikini-clad woman and a donkey, of course)*. We could sell this postcard to the Gringos on the weekends and supplement our income until we find jobs.

* I thought this girl-on-donkey thing was a really foul, offensive and stupid joke. Apparently, it is quite real. Someone propositioned Barry with, "Hey, amigo! You ready? Listo? Donkey show!" What the Mexican people must think of us . . .

In the meantime, I continue to look for work. Here are two of the more colorful postings I happened upon:

(From L.A. Craigslist.com)

Hi, we are a party rental company doing a 1/4 page ad in Variety. We need your cleavage to place a fork in-between and photo. You can place the fork if uncomfortable. Photo team consists of a guy and a girl. We do not have a van, no nudity required, good-humored assignment. Whole thing should take 5-10 minutes.
Compensation: $5

Home Depot

With a new store opening, on average, every 43 hours, The Home Deport is seeking individuals who are passionate about creating or broadening a career with a company that is experiencing unprecedented growth.

Minimum Qualifications:
Must be 18 years of age or older
Must pass the Drug Test
Must pass the Background Check
Must have the ability to work a minimum 55 hour a week schedule.

Until next time . . .

14 January 2004

California Update II

There's nothing like living in a giant suburb to light a fire under your ass to get a job. As each day passes, I find myself becoming less and less picky and more desperate to just find some where to go during the day. The Crow and I have reached the point where we have too little to do and too much time spent together.

We were up early the other morning and decided to go have breakfast. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to find a place to eat that didn't offer homestyle food smothered in gravy. In the end, we went to Paradise Bakery which was the only thing open in the food court of (surprise) a shopping mall. After we finished eating I felt compelled to retrieve all the styrofoam coffee cups from the trash receptacle and mail them back to the companies with which their logos are affiliated, but before I could, Barry was off tromping through the mall. Did I mention that all the stores were CLOSED?

I maneuvered past some power-walking seniors and located The Crow who was looking over a lighted advertisement for "America's Next Top Model." He commented, "This is going to suck." I said, "Don't think for one second that the people back home aren't going to hear about this," and took him by the arm.

It was time to get really serious about finding both of us a job, any job.

The next day I applied for a number of positions which were clearly of the sort located in an office park complete with a fountain and an ugly sculpture located at the main entrance.

"My name is Megan Denny and I am writing today in reagrds to your BLAH BLAH BLAH position. I am a talented marketing coordinator with strong writing skills and an enthusiasm for Global Relocation Solutions/ Direct Marketing for Cable Services/ Data Entry/ etc."

When I'm not coming up with new ways to say, "Give me a job, dammit," I have been continuing with my kickboxing classes. O.C. is the hive for both kickboxing and 24 Hour Fitness and I've seen every kind of person show up to the various classes. The first time I went, I saw a couple of women with breasts so large I thought they might knock themselves out by a blow to the head if they jumped too hard. At the last class I attended, there were some people who were clearly over the age of 60 and they did better than anyone else in the room!

The most amazing thing I have discovered since being down here is this radio station:
It's called "Indie 103," and I think it is a joint venture between Clear Channel and someone else, but the music they play is unreal. In one day I heard: Talking Heads ("Naive Song"), Joy Division ("Atmosphere"), The Postal Service ("Such Great Heights"), Tom Waits ("You're Innocent When You Dream"), and The Police ("So Lonely"). I couldn't make this awesome of a station if I tried. Naturally, I sent them a, "Give me a job, dammit" e-mail, but, as my previous experience is with Entercommunist, I don't know if they'll look too kindly on my person.

Okay, okay, I'm rambling on. Well, I hope all of you are doing well, and I will end by including this link of the U.S.'s most and least Stressful Cities for your clicking enjoyment (both Portland and Orange County make the lists).

Ciao for now.

08 January 2004

California Update

It was one week ago today that we hit the road for the big C.A., and though we have technically only been living in Orange County for about five days, it feels like we have been here much longer. Barry has acclimated to our new surroundings like a fish to water or, as I like to think of it, a capitalist to a shopping mall. My adjustment is coming along more slowly.

The first couple of days were extremely unsettling as the weather is quite different here. My inner little animal, I like to think of it as a squirrel, didn't know what to make of it all and just huddled in the corner, eyes darting side to side, saying, "something is really wrong here." By now I have started to adjust to my surroundings. When I drive down the street I drive the speed limit (50mph) like everyone else, and flip a U-Turn at major intersections because, well, I can. I've also begun to resolve my issues with strip malls since the ones here have Indian grocers, taquerias and sushi joints where Portland has barren storefronts and check cashing places.

There are some things, however, I don't think I will ever get used to: the lack of recycling, the use of styrofoam, the radio ads for breast augmentation and vaginal reconstruction(!!!), and the prolliferation of tanning booths (why?).

I AM enjoying the warmer weather, pumping my own gas, and being closer to the ocean.

Of course, some things will never change. My car has already been shat upon by birds three times in five days. I avoid parking under trees and telephone poles; what is it about my car that causes every bird in a three-mile radius to release its bowels?

I don't have much to report on the job front. The interview I had on monday for a supposed $40k/year copywriting gig turned out to be scamtastic. When I arrived I was issued a typing test and made to watch a 20 minute safety video which informed me I should never cut across the lawn of a "business park or plaza" (use designated paved walkways ONLY) and I should not attempt to fix the paper shredder with a letter opener. Two hours later I finally left the place gaining nothing more than the knowledge that I can type 66 words per minute with 6 errors. Yes, I am the typist from hell.

Tomorrow we head to L.A. to visit Heidi (Barry's cat) and take in a few sights. I imagine this trip will provide plenty of colorful fodder for the next california update.

Stay tuned...


05 January 2004

The Least Boring Thing I've Ever Done

Well, we made it.

After a false start due to snow and ice, we finally hit the road for California on January 2nd. Here is a semi-brief recap of the journey.

We took I-5 as far as Roseberg (home of the Northwest's most disgusting bathroom) where we learned that I-5 was closed at Grant's Pass (one hour south). So, we detoured down Hwy 40 to connect to Hwy 101. The 101 is not a direct way to California by any means, but it was our only option.

Not too long past Brookings (where the power was out) we crossed over the Oregon border. Barry phoned me immediately to say, "Welcome to California, your new home," and as my eyes gazed accross all-night liquor stores and neon Oakland Raiders signs, it was all I could do to keep from flipping a U-turn and gunning for home. We continued on in the dark through a grove of redwoods (cool) and a 7% downgrade covered in ice (not cool). Luckily, we were able to get behind a plow and a de-icing truck, otherwise we would have had to turn around. Twelve hours from the time we left, we arrived in Eureka, California.

With no logical route back to I-5, we decided to continue down the 101 into San Francisco. As we checked out that morning from the Super 8, the person behind the desk said the 101 south was closed. "Southbound? Surely, sir, you have your head in your ass." In fact, Hwy 101 WAS closed due to a rock slide. Luckily, by the time we reached the stretch of closed road, the highway had been cleared and re-opened.

I was excited about driving my little red car over the Golden Gate Bridge, but as it turned out we crossed over on the Richmond Bridge in the north bay. That bridge is insane. It is so long, I listened to two full Sleater-Kinney songs before we finished crossing. They were doing construction and you could actually see the water, hundreds of feet below, from a space between the roadway and the "guard rail." I don't know how San Franciscans manage to confront their mortality on a day-to-day basis.

The sun was setting as we curved around and headed for the east bay. As we approached the 580 (or was it the 680?) I had my first glimpse of the future... 12 lanes of solid traffic. WOW. It was marvelous except for the fact that I was getting cut off left and right while trying to keep track of Mr. I'mtoocooltousemyturnsignal Barry Crow. Things cleared up out of the Caldecott Tunnel and we arrived in Danville California (where Barry's parents live) around 7 p.m.

Given everything that had happened in the two days previous, I was ready for anything: locusts, tsunamis, ghosts of the Donner party. etc. My car was holding up okay except that the temp. indicator said the engine was running very cold. Barry surmised that the thermostat was malfunctioning and nothing was wrong with the engine. I was cheered when I calculated my engine efficiency to be 40 miles per gallon.

The final leg of the journey was uneventful. Aside from some very creative driving on behalf of the Californians, who have safety concerns comprable to that of a seventeen year old, there isn't much to mention until...

We stopped in Hollywood to pick up some pet supplies and I realized I was sweating! Sweating!!! WOW. I don't know what the exact temp. was, but the sun was out and it seemed to be about 65 degrees. We dropped off Heidi (the cat) in sunny South Pasedena and then headed for Orange County. Traffic was blissfully clear, but Orange County still turned out to be a fair distance from South Pasadena. By the time we arrived in Lake Forest it was dark, and as I pulled in I could just barely see Barry's Aunt Cindy was waiting for us at the door. Welcoming us to our new home.

Thank you to everyone who sent messages of support and encouragement, and I'm sorry to eveyone who I didn't get to see before I left.

New but TEMPORARY mailing address.
Megan Denny
Lake Forest, CA XXXXX
phone and e-mail remain the same.

Love to you all.