Sunday, March 29, 2009

ze zen zoo

yesterday, luke and i randomly decided to go to the san diego zoo, which seemed like a fabulous idea to me because i've never driven myself down to san diego before - and therefore had no idea how long it actually takes to get there.  however, despite being totally exhausted and grumpy on the way home (it had been blazing hot and i don't fare well, emotionally or physically, in blazes), i had a surprisingly awesome time.

i discovered some animals that, in another universe, i would totally make my friends.  for example, the bearded boar (which if you'll notice, has a crazy, wild bristle-y snout):

or, the klipspringer, which, in addition to being totally cute, supports its entire body weight on two thick toenails on each foot:

i also particularly appreciate the attitudes of the following creatures:

(i love the look the orangutan on the right is throwing at the one wearing the coat.)

(this meerkat was way over it.)

(the smile!)

(such disdain for me - unwarranted, obviously.)

kidding aside, i love animals (as if my herd of cats wasn't a gigantic clue) and seeing all those beautiful, soulful mammals was a bit bittersweet.  it was, and always is, amazing to be able to see them so close and to try to read their minds.  however, i hugely dislike having to share my experience with all the other loud obnoxious people.  wherever i go, regardless of whether or not i actually am tourist, i never feel like one.  this may sound a little holier-than-thou (which, believe me, i don't mean to be), but i feel like i'm always learning and trying to understand and just generally being respectful - something i think many, many people in the world usually don't give a damn about.  so, my point is that i feel like my zen zoo experience was ruined by people who were acting like they were at a freak show.

on a completely unrelated note, i'm very proud to announce that we've discovered a proactive and quite satisfying way of dealing with our neighbor's occasional (read: nearly daily) country-musical assaults on greater los angeles: tonight, we practiced our square dancing and then did a shit-ton of vacuuming.  frankly, i'm impressed.

Friday, March 27, 2009


so, the aforementioned kindergartener, the one who planned his birthday party at the tar pits and whom i will call "jack" for fear of discussing his real identity online, did in fact have his party at the museum and it was way more insanely adorable than i imagined it would be.  when he got to the museum, a little before his extravaganza started, he raced immediately to the window of the lab where i was working and screamed "miss sarah!" so loudly that i could hear him perfectly through the soundproof glass.  then, once the rest of the party showed up, i discovered that half the class had been invited and they were all suffering very conflicted emotions; namely, that although they thought i was awesome for wearing a lab coat and cleaning bones, they felt like they were in another, terrible dimension where teachers actually have lives outside school, a discovery i remember as being very, very traumatic.  it was great, though, because while they were much, much more quiet and weird around me in the non-school setting, they were all extremely interested and asked lots of great questions and, hopefully, learned a lot.

after cake in one of the museum's theaters, i invited "jack" into the lab so that he could experience first-hand all the cool stuff he could only look at in the museum and in all his books. he was super nervous and super cute and looked around the whole time quietly as if he were dreaming.  it was like he was completely in awe.  he was finally inside the la brea tar pits laboratory!  (either that, or he was way exhausted.)  i had spent the day detailing a thoracic vertebra from the big mammoth find and, after i showed it to him, i let him touch it - which he did with the thought and care you might think someone would use when being allowed to touch the holy grail (especially after we all told him he was the first six-year-old ever to do it).  i mean, it's possible that i only think it was life-changing for him, but i get the feeling that it really was overwhelming awesome for him.  and that makes me very pleased with myself.

this afternoon, his mom stopped me as i was leaving and told me she had something for me, which i assumed were copies of some pictures we took together during the party.  her gift, however, was a bouquet of completely gorgeous roses as a thank-you for participating in his party.  

it was so incredibly thoughtful and amazing and it really made my day, most especially because i'd been totally yelled at this morning by a mother i don't know for something i wasn't responsible for.

she gave me the flowers hours ago and i'm still excited about them.  and, i think i'm really very happy i was able to make such a huge impression on him and his family.  it proves to me that perhaps teaching might truly be in the cards for me.

and, hilariously enough, this six-year-old has now become the first boy in the history of my life to give me an actual bouquet of flowers.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

la brea asphalt seeps

today, an adorable little boy from my kindergarten class is having his birthday party at the tar pits, which only serves to make me think he's even more adorable.  we discovered we have almost exactly the same interests one day while he was crawling around the kindergarten play yard, bearing his teeth and narrowing his eyes at imaginary potential threats.  i asked him what kind of animal he was and he answered, "an ice age animal.  a saber-tooth tiger."  i then spent about fifteen minutes lecturing him (including letting him know that they are saber-tooth cats - they're not related tigers) and i was sure at the end of my little speech he'd hate me and never what to speak to me again.  turns out, he loves the tar pits and was totally thrilled to find out i volunteer there and has demanded at least three times a week since, "miss sarah, tell me more about the ice age!"  he's wanted to know how tall mammoths and sloths were and how far a saber-tooth cat could pounce, and has insisted to me that his beloved dog died after getting stuck in a massive tar pit in his mom's backyard.  he's a very, very interested and intelligent six-year-old and i hope that i can play a tiny part in making him in even more so.

also, i get to have some cake, which is super cool.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

composite nightmares

on tuesday, i went home to have my tooth fixed and it was pretty rough.  although my grandpa was able to reconstruct the tooth using composite goo (saving me from needing an immediate crown and sparing me from ever needing a root canal), the news was still all fairly mixed.  apparently, none of my composite fillings are permanent (which, to my grandpa's credit, i've been told over and over my entire life - but never truly understood the gravity of until this week), meaning that all the many cavities i've had (and all the ones i may have in the future) are essentially gaping wounds covered in band-aids.  a composite lasts for a maximum of eight to ten years, meaning that i am now a dentist's dream, as i will have to have near-constant composite upkeep.  the non-permanence of this really upsets me.  it's one thing to have a ton of cavities and another entirely to never been able to permanently knock them out.  so, although i've been living just fine (with the exception of the broken tooth, obviously) with composite fillings for years and years, i feel like now i'm painfully aware of how shitty it is to have them.  what's worse is that my grandpa told me dentists are shying away from putting silver alloy fillings in anyone's mouth, allergy or no, precisely because filling a tooth with a composite means having a life-long customer - which is a little disgusting.  

there is a glimmer of hope, however.  my teeth may be able to re-mineralize enamel eaten away by cavities, and now the plan is for me to use all the fluoride products i can get my hands on - meaning prescription fluoride toothpaste (like the kind they force upon children during dental appointments), fluoride mouthwash and fluoride gum.

sadly, it will probably take much more than a metric ton of fluoride to make me feel less humiliated about having, at 22, worse teeth than my grandparents (well, one set, anyway).

Monday, March 16, 2009

neuters and jet-sets

i left the cats in their plastic neck cones for exactly ten minutes after we got home from the vet this afternoon.  when i let them out of their carrier, they went absolutely apeshit, running into the same walls over and over and leaping crazily off of the couches and chairs.  they hissed at each other and slunk around the apartment like they were feral tomcats looking for something to destroy.  it was the realization of my pre-neuter nightmare - namely, that they would come back from the surgery with totally different personalities and we'd have to live with terrible demon cats (all the while remembering how they used to be).  so, i cornered each of them and trapped them together in the bathroom, where i sat with them until they calmed down and then released them from their torture collars.  and, then some magic happened.  they were perfectly normal the instant i took the cones off, which means that their insane behavior had less to do with their being loopy with drugs (which is what i was told by the vet assistant when abe was returned to me making a horrible low growly sound) and more to do with their being totally pissed about, and vision-impaired by, the collars.  i also just discovered that their claws were cut down to the quick, so all their nails are bloody.  i am really not built to handle this crap.  every pet i get from now on must already to be spayed/neutered.

i am sooo glad this day is over.  now i just have to police them to make sure they're not tearing out their stitches.  delicious.

ok, on to san francisco:

i had such a fantastic time.  lina was a grand hostess and put up with having to (read: was forced to) drive me around late at night while i fell asleep in the passenger seat.  i think we hit the perfect combination of tourist traps and local haunts.  we walked around fisherman's wharf, where i got some boudin sourdough bread, and then had drinks at the buena vista cafe, where, on saturday, they were already celebrating st. patrick's day.  we had incredible pasta in north beach, walked along embarcadero, scoped out the ferry building and shopped in union square.  all in all, i think i love that city.  san francisco, and most other cities in the world, with the exception of los angeles, has a spirit and a character that is almost tangible.  you can get a sense of the kind of people who live there just by breathing their same air.  i suppose you can do that in l.a. - and maybe i just don't like what the atmosphere here says about me.  regardless, i think i see myself in the northwest, somewhere, when it comes to determining permanent residence.  

what really sealed the deal for me was an encounter lina and i had with a man named patrick, who we met while sitting a bar in a restaurant on embarcadero.  he came up behind us and ordered a lavender cosmo and proceeded, throughout a nearly whispered conversation peppered with misused words and giggles, to tell us all about the racy emails he's been sending to the boyfriend in russia he met on the internet.  he was an incredible character and told us we have phenomenal energy and was just generally the kind of conversationalist that makes me want to write books.  he deserves to be immortalized in print - that's how amazing our discussion was.  also, he perfectly bookended the weekend by telling us, as we said goodbye, that when we see him again (although we, fate notwithstanding, will never see him again), his boyfriend will have "put a ring on it."  i'd spent the entire weekend discussing the pros and cons of beyonce and that statement was perhaps the only pro.


i got back from san francisco last night and am totally exhausted.  i had an absolutely fabulous time and will discuss it all later - in a post i will most likely write tonight.

now, however, i must discuss why i had intermittent bursts of stress-induced nausea the entire weekend (despite having loads and loads of good times).  these things have weighed heavily, obviously, and so now i'd like to vent them to the world.  firstly, on thursday night, my dad came over on his way home from work, as he often does on thursdays these days, and took luke and i out to dinner at a local indian restaurant.  at some point while eating, i cracked down on something that made a slight screeching sound, but i figured i'd just discovered a cumin seed.  no pain.  i continued eating (and eating and eating) for a long time afterwards, and then came home and settled into a tv show with luke, when i felt like i had some food caught in my back molars (which, for me, is pretty much an everyday occurrence).  when i slid a finger across my teeth, i stumbled upon a jagged gap where one of the cusps of the last molar on the top left side of my mouth used to be.  not surprisingly, i then totally freaked out.  i now know that it looks much worse than it actually is, but when i first saw it, i instantly panicked - there's nothing like missing a piece of your tooth to get you all crazed.  luckily, my grandpa is my dentist, so i called out of work on friday and headed home to get my mouth checked out.  here is the very long story: i have a really intense allergy to plated metals (such as nickel, etc.) and, although i've had lots of fillings, i've never once had a silver one, because my grandpa worried it would set off the kind of  intense skin reactions that would eventually end my nose piercing dreams (a story for another time).  so, my teeth are filled with "composites," which i know very little about except that they are white and are the tooth equivalent of concrete.  they are also apparently prone to leaks.  the composite in my upper left last molar cracked a bit, which allowed crap to get deep inside my tooth, the side of which got so decayed that it cracked right off while i was eating steamed potatoes.  all in all, the whole thing makes me feel disgusting.  it doesn't hurt and the issue, after the decay is cleaned up, will really just be cosmetic, but it still upsets me a lot and i can only hope that at my appointment tomorrow, the grandfather tells me i don't need a root canal.

lovely.  thankfully, i was still able to go up to san francisco, because that would have been really terribly sad.

so flash forward to today, when, in about five minutes, i have to leave to take my cat children to the vet to get neutered.  i have been secretly anxious about this almost since we first got them, because getting the older cats spayed was a horrific nightmare.  i'm a gigantic bleeding heart liberal hippy, and i am therefore convinced that after i've kept the boys away from food for almost a full day, stuck them in a cage, dropped them off at a scary office, agreed to have them sliced and then forced them to wear those awful plastic neck cones, that they will hate me for the rest of their feline lives.  and that would be bad for me, as i'm so obsessed with them i refer to them as "my cat children."

hence, the nausea.

Monday, March 9, 2009

san francisco

last night, i finally bought my ticket to san francisco, even after having made definite plans to head up there this weekend months ago.  i've never flown by myself before and have therefore never had to be solely responsible for arranging my own travel - and, i'm slowly learning that i do not take to new, grown-up things too well the first few times i do them, so buying my own plane ticket for a trip i will take all by myself took some getting used to.  seriously.  i'm that insane.

i'm way excited to go to the bay and see lina, who i haven't seen since june, which might really be a crime.  i adore her and count her as one of the most incredible people i met in college and i could not be more giddy that we will reunite in one of my favorite cities in the country.  i'm also excited because i love traveling and going and seeing and doing and although i'm technically headed to her hometown, i can pretend that we are traveling together and it will make me feel less depressed about having no one to go on an actual trip with me.  sad.  all and all, though, i am truly thrilled to be going up there. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

terrible snot monster

i am sniffly and sneezing again, which annoys me to no end.  luke was sick again last week, and i almost posted a blog joking about how i had about 7 to 10 days of health before i was struck down again.  oh, how i wish i was wrong.  almost everyone i know has been sick at least twice this winter and i think that's partially because the weather/temperature here in los angeles has fluctuated crazily (as in 45ish degrees one day and 80 the next) and partially because everyone is hugely stressed about the economy and thus more susceptible to disease.  factor in that luke and i both work in schools with tiny children and you apparently have a recipe for disaster.  i've been on a strict cold-eeze regiment and although i did get a little sick, i still think my beloved zinc tablets have prevented me from getting terribly so.  i did, however, have to leave the tar pits early today, which upset me a lot because i haven't been able to go for a few weeks and i really wanted to get my fill of mammoth bones.  as it was, though, i was getting up almost constantly to blow my nose, which gets tedious when your hands are covered in sticky tar and dirt, and is fairly embarrassing when the lab you're leaking snot into looks like this:

when sitting in a paleontology lab surrounded by glass inside a museum that just received a ton of great press and has a bazillion new visitors coming to peer inside at you, you want to look professional and intelligent and not like you are a terrible snot monster. 

in related news, here's a link to a video of trevor, whose tar pits fame scored us both free drinks at baja today, discussing the new mammoth find on g4: