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Lou’s Records

img_20161125_144213It’s Black Friday.  I could have gone to the local upscale strip mall and fight moms in yoga pants, but I decided to meander down to my local record store, Lou’s Records.   I hadn’t been in two years because it had saddened me how sparse the selection had become.  Recently, I lamented to a friend about this and he said that is why I have to go down once an week and spend a dollar (or maybe more) just to show support.  Once teeming with people in it’s day, the aisles were mostly abandoned.  A sad reminder of how online downloading and file sharing of music has all but killed little independent mom and pop stores like this clinging onto the graces of its hardcore clientele who are either nostalgic for lost times or die hard collectors of music.  I’ve probably come to the end of my die hard collector years and teeter more towards the side of nostalgia (although my collection doesn’t even compare to my friend’s husband’s who has well over 1000 CD’s).

My introduction to Lou’simg_20161204_195805 was in the year 1984.  I was seven years old.  It was an intimidating little hole in the wall in downtown Encinitas between D and E Street off the Coast Highway.  The rows (of which there were, like, two) were so tight that you had to back down one end to let someone pass.  Even though it was the middle of the New Wave revolution, I could sense that there were punk rock undertones thriving in the walls.  My first purchase (ok, my Mom bought it for me) was Madonna’s Like a Virgin on vinyl followed by Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusal.  Mom never bought cassette tapes because she knew the best quality came from an LP, but she copied it onto cassette to play in the beat up, blue Ford Courier she owned once she had replaced the 8-track with a tape player.

We would become regulars, my mom and I.  I moved from vinyl to cassette when I started to earn an allowance until we got a CD player.  In a short span of time, I watched as the store evolved as they made room for compact disc.  Their  used CD section comprised of two small cardboard boxes stacked on top of each other next to the cash register.  They never had what I wanted used, but the selection was small and CD’s were too new for there to be a big selection of trade-in.

Lou’s Records eventually moved down the Coast Highway a bit to Leucadia where they expanded into two buildings on the same lot.  One building was dedicated to new arrivals and the second building, equally as big, was all used. (There was also a third smaller building dedicated to movies, but that was by the by.)  I was in heaven.  My friends and I always started in the used section, trading in CD’s we grew tired of, before moving on to the new part.  You could find almost anything you wanted there, no matter how obscure; and if they didn’t have it, they’d be happy enough to order it for you.  I spent so much money at Lou’s that I was able to participate in their “Gimmick”, which is when you presented your receipts from Lou’s adding up to so much you would get a discount off your purchase (or something like that).

As the store evolved, so did my musical landscape.  Besides, my best friend’s influence, Lou’s had a huge impact in the shaping of my musical taste.  They represented to me what an underground record store was.  They were alternative before alternative was in.  It wasn’t just a img_20161125_152412place to go and buy music.  It was like going to your favorite coffee shop and spending an hour chatting to your friends.  It was a scene.  It had atmosphere.  There was always some cool, offbeat tune playing overhead, whether punk, old school R&B, jazz or blue grass.  Never, EVER, would you hear a pop music tune like Garth Brooks or Britney Spears, and if you did it was meant ironically.  It was always up to the discretion of the tattoo-pierced purple, blue, pink or green haired employee working behind the counter; or Lou, who was this mythical creature we’d catch glimpses in the back with his curly black afro, mustache and thick, black-rimmed glasses.

img_20161125_152556And then came the the internet age of music.  Lou’s Records had to downsize.  They are still in the same location, but all the new and used CD, vinyl, cassette, etc has been consolidated into what was primarily the used section of the business.  Almost like they’ve come full circle, but the store is still 3 times the size it was when they first started.  Despite this more than annoying set back, the fact that Lou’s Records is still around is a feat in itself.  It’s like a defiant “‘f’ you, I’m still here” in true punk fashion.

So, there I was, dressed in black (a black flannel shirt-dress to be precise), my Docs replaced with grey knee-high riding boots.  Most of the customers  were my age (the cusp of 40) or olimg_20161125_170022der and, probably like me, holding onto the remnants of a different era.   The millennials that were there had been dragged along by their parents hoping to carry on a tradition slowly ebbing towards the edge of non-existence.  I spent an hour wandering the aisles and was actually able to find quite a bit on my list and some I wasn’t expecting, like Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn used for $3.99 which is $10-22 for a CD on Amazon.  I left with six used CD’s totaling just under $40 and a promise to make it a point to visit Lou’s Records weekly, if I can, to support their business and bask in nostaglia.

Excerpt 3 from The Unreality Tourist

“Wake up!” Jackson was slapping my cheeks gently.  It elicited a bad memory, or dream I couldn’t quite remember, that seemed so long ago as I coughed and coughed.  Jackson sat me up.  Water poured out of my mouth, down my chin and onto my legs.  It left a disgusting, oily residue in my mouth. I’ll probably get a nasty lung infection with no hospital in sight.  Oh dear.

“Are you ok?” Jackson rubbed my back as he knelt next to me.  His brows furrowed in concern.

I nodded as I coughed.  Not dead yet.

“Can…we take just a min…minute,” I gasped.

“Of course.” He put his arm around me.

As I sat there trying to catch my breath, I really didn’t want to go any further.  All this terror, I hated to see what was waiting for me now.  I recovered long before we were ready to go.  Just stalling now.  Had to force myself to stand up.  If the scenery were nicer, I would have suggested to stay here forever.  But it wasn’t.  We sat in ash and dirty snow.  We were looking at the backside of a large boulder that was breathing.  It had the same texture of the vines with some green foliage growing on it.  It was a part of the forest or it was the forest, I don’t know.  Either way, I wanted to get the fuck away from it.  Just beyond that the sky curved down, as if we were under a dome or snow globe.

What appeared to be a flying tomato in the middle of mitosis floated off of the rock.  The sepals of it curled outward, but when they moved, they caused it to change direction.  The pedicel blew out air to keep it hovering.  It remained over the middle of the deep pond we emerged from.  I gave it about a minute of my attention as it remained hovering over the pond before I turned around to follow Jackson.  Oh, look, more forest.  What a surprise.  I was so sick of trees at the moment I would do anything to see my concrete jungle, sit in my apartment and stare at a t.v. screen.  The trees were bone white and barren.  There was snow and ash covering the ground that began to rise from the ground, floating into the air.  I followed it with my eyes into the sky devoid of any light except for the light of the snow that reflected off of the glass ceiling as it got closer to it.  The flakes bounced off the ceiling at different angles dancing in the air in a slow flurry.

I took two steps before I heard a faint buzzing noise then felt a sharp sting.

“Ow, fuck!” I slapped at my neck.  My hand came away with gooey red slim.  “Gross!”  I tried to flick it off my hand with no luck so I wiped it on my jeans instead.  Jackson ran over and pulled the stinger out of my neck.  He had a “you’re fucked” look on his face as I started to feel lightheaded and nauseous.  I wretched violently, my body shaking.  Jackson picked me up as my legs began to buckle.  The feeling subsided.  I convinced him to let me down.

It was very dark here as we walked through the dead forest.  The wound on my neck was numb and slightly pulsating.  Jackson stood close to me holding my hand which became slick with sweat.  From the corner of my eye, I could see gloomy figures stalking us through the trees.  Then, I realized that it was the oak-like trees, charred and twisted.  Their trunks were bent over as they used their bare branches to crawl along.  They growled every once in a while but kept their distance.  And then there was that familiar bird.  The one that pretended to be a flock of birds that nearly shattered every bone in my body.  Yeah, that little fucker was here, too, singing away every so often.  The sound grated my ears.

Soon, we were at the edge of a clearing, and there it stood alone in the middle, glowing brighter than the stars in the sky.  It stung my eyes to look at it.  It was very tall with a thick trunk.  The bare branches curved upward in a tight weave encasing a round structure in the middle.  The trees moved together, encircling us with it.  There was no escape.

I was leaning heavily on Jackson as we slowly approached the steps.  My neck was on fire where I was stung, and I had a very intense headache.  Cold sweat on my skin made me shiver.  I didn’t think I could climb the massive amount of stairs.  Jackson picked me up in his arms; I was so weak.  My head rested heavily against his chest.  With what felt like hesitation, he made the ascent at a slow steady pace.  There was an unusual crunching sound.  I looked at the steps.  They seemed to be a mix of mud, tree and bone.  Some were human skulls embedded in the earth.  Their hollow eyes stared up at us, empty.  The steps disappeared behind us as Jackson ascended the stairs.

The tree wasn’t quite a tree on closer inspection.  It was bone.  The outside of the structure had the appearance of inner bone marrow that formed a holey matrix.  Parts of the matrix protruded out.  One of the protrusions had something impaled on it.  It’s hairy body dripped blood from where it’s head and appendages should have been, staining the white with red.  Exhausted, I let my head fall back against his chest.  After a moment, my eyes closed.  I could hear Jackson’s breath move in and out, the ticking of his heart barely audible now.

“I’m so sorry,” he whispered over and over as we ascended.

At the top of the stairs, Jackson stopped and mumbled something in his mixed-up language.  An opening formed as branches and bone parted just enough for us to pass.  Jackson stepped through.  I could hear the opening close behind us.

Online Dating: Final Verdict (part 3)

What is it with men?  I lasted a month and half and most of them managed to creep me out.  Even the ones who looked halfway decent had the most self-centered profiles.  “How are you going to fit in my life?” Like I’m a picture you need to figure out where it will look best on the wall.  No mention of how “we” would make it work so we fit together in each other’s lives?  No wonder you are in your 40’s and never been married.  Let’s go through some highlights, shall we?

I got a “wink” from a guy at 1:43 a.m. with an unattractive photo of himself wearing a bandanna and singing into a microphone.   His profile said that he was a musician looking for that “special lady” who didn’t mind that he spent most of his time touring up and down the coast and that he liked to smoke weed.  I know most people seem to be pro-weed these days, but proclaiming you enjoy weed is just like bragging you enjoy drinking a lot.  To me that says you have an emotional issue which you choose to self-medicate rather than tackle those issues head on.  Thank you for your honesty, though.

Checking out the profiles on e-Harms, one guy said he was also on Match and OK Cupid as he did not want to pay the exorbitant e-Harms subscription fee.  I couldn’t see his photo as I didn’t subscribe as well so I went over to Match and checked him out.  Totally meh.  His favorite thing was karaoke, quiz night and drinking a lot of beer from the looks of it.  Ironically, he found me on Match AND e-Harms and immediately bombarded me with messages and winks and photo likes and favoriting and hugs and kisses.  Yikes!  I know I’m amazing but, seriously, pump the breaks there, buddy.

One guy asked me, “How’s the knee?” (my profile states I have a knee injury). Still completely fucked, thanks for asking.  I see you are from the Netherlands, new to town, added some high art photos of yourself, and are looking for someone to show you the city.  Something tells me that that is not what you have in mind for the girl with the broken knee.

A good looking 28 year old Indian male started a dialogue with me so I decided to humor myself (and practice my cougar skills).   He put that he went to Pepperdine on his profile so I asked if he was from that area.  He said no, he went to school in India.  He only put that because it wouldn’t let him put the school he went to in India on there and that he had only been in the country for two months.  That ended that dialogue pretty fast.

It got to the point that every time a guy sent me a message I was tempted to bluntly write back, “What do you want?” rather than a friendly “How do you do?” so it was probably a good thing I left most messages unanswered.

There were those that showed potential, though.  One guy said he was new to online dating, he wanted to start as friends, had the same ideals, and was as cautious with his approach to online dating as I was trying to be.  He had 2 girls, a stable job, was divorced for 4 months (maybe a bit too soon, but friends first, remember?) and shared 50/50 custody with his wife who spent a little more time with the kids as she didn’t work as much, but it sounded like he could be a good father and that the split might have been amicable.  So far so good, right?

Then, he mentioned that I looked a lot like Maggie Gyllenhaal from the sadomasochistic movie The Secretary.  Not necessarily something I would mention to someone you’d only been messaging a few times with, but he didn’t go into detail about the movie so maybe it was a general observation?  I would have to keep that in the back of mind for now, though.  After that, he asked me what I was looking for in a “Match” partner, so I mentioned things like honesty, integrity, respect, consideration and stability for starters.  After that, we planned to talk on the phone before meeting in person.  I went to bed excited about new possibilities.

The next morning, just before 8 a.m., an hour before a job interview, he sends me this text:

Hi [totally awesome woman you’re not going out with]. I want to be honest with you. Stability is one thing I do not have in my life right now. You mentioned how important that is for you…for sure. I’m in the early stages of my divorce & there is so much that is unknown & unstable @ this point. Right now, I’m actually still living with my ex & our girls in our house, until more is decided & finalized, although I hope it’s not for much longer. These circumstances don’t define me as a person but I just wanted to let u know where I’m at. Not that it has much relevance to you, but even if I lived 100 more years & she were the only woman left on this earth & the survival of the human race depended on it, I could never get back together with her. There’s been to much hurt & too much damage done. So I just wanted to let you know these facts about my life right now, you seem like a very cool person & I want to be up front & honest with you. You’re probably better off not getting involved with me right now but that’s obviously your choice. Bad timing I suppose. So if I don’t hear from you again I totally understand. Good luck later with your interview.
Best.
[Man who is not getting date].

Oh, boo hoo hoo.  Did I suddenly get transported to an episode of General Hospital?  There was just too much going on in there.  Oh the drama!

Instead of being upset, I was giddy.   At this point, I felt like I had so much power I didn’t know what to do with it.  This guy was obviously not 4 months past his divorce and what he called “50/50 custody”, like for real?  He still lives with his wife!  Give me a fucking break.  And as far as dating while you still live with your ex, I had a stepdad who asked my mom for a divorce on a Wednesday and on Friday he was going out to his “gentlemen’s club” while we were still living there.  He probably wanted to hurt his wife as much as he claimed she hurt him.  If this guy was as considerate and respectful as he claimed to be he wouldn’t have texted me right before a job interview.  Dick head.  Kudos for being up front and honest, but you still misrepresented yourself which doesn’t bode well in my book.

But, should I still agree to meet him in person and rake him over the coals in a no bullshit approach?

As our great former President George W. Bush misquoted:  “Fool me once, shame on…shame on you.  Fool me…you can’t get fooled again.”  Guys like that will give you just enough truth to trust them, and that’s where they get you.  Plus, I’ve already heard this sob story before in one form or another.  So, it was kind of a no brainer for me.  I ran (or rather hobbled on my cane).  I cancelled my Match subscription.  (To the guy I was suppose to get back to about going out on that first date, I’m sorry I didn’t respond to reschedule, but honestly you sounded somewhat unfriendly at times and a little desperate.)

If I have to live out the rest of my life as a spinster, so be it.   At least I know who’s in control.

 

 

 

 

DATING ON THE INTERWEBS: FIRST IMPRESSIONS (part 1 OF 3)

(I first published this in July 21, 2106 but took it (and part 2) down  and decided to re-publish it as  part of a 3-part series.  Please, please re-enjoy.)

Trying my hand at the ole internet dating thang. Looking at you, E-Harmony.  When giving you an age range to choose from, they won’t let you extend the age limit past 5-7 years either way which means I’m cut off from the under 30’s.  I find this highly disappointing.  Bastards!  How else am I going to train as a cougar?  I guess I would have to consider Tinder (and as a woman-child, yeah that would be befitting, I guess).Tinder

Anyway, I got as far as taking their rigorous quiz.  They’re onto you, though, if you keep choosing the same button on the scale of agree to disagree.  They’ll stop you and tell you to think about your choices.  The quiz is designed to weed out losers, but it’s easy enough to get around if you answer their questions just right.

“I am generally happy.” Quick!  Agree!

“I am generally sad.” Trick question there.   There are so many things to be sad about, like when I go to a restaurant, and they make me a sad-looking club sandwich.  But, I think they want me to answer somewhere between disagree and neutral.  But mainly disagree.

“I cry often.” That could mean so many different things.  What if I watch a lot of sad commercials every day?  Who am I kidding?  There are no commercials on Netflix.  But, what if they are tears of joy?  Do those count, too?

“You are satisfied with your job.” What job? I’ll answer somewhere between agree and neutral on that one.

I passed their quiz with a “Congratulations! We found matches in your area!”  Hurray for me!  According, to them I’m dateable.  Woo hoo!  Of course, I am.  I’m a woman.  The power gender.  Anything with tits and a working vagina is dateable.  Just ask the guys over at Ashley Madison. Asshat Madison

Because I haven’t started putting money towards the site, yet, all I have are names, ages and a generic, cartoony shadow of a male head to dream over.

I started to get a plethora of emails via e-Harms from guys wanting to see my photo or they have 5 questions they want to ask me.  Ooooh!  The intrigue! Or they send me a smile.  What are we?  5?  Was this system designed by Millennials?  But, if I want to chat I have to send them money, and I’m still not sure $69/mo for 3 months, or whatever the cost (it changes depending on how long you want the service for), is worth it.  And, frankly, I’m scared of what “perfect” match the computer has found for me.  Can the matrix really be that good?

MatchMy questions were answered when I was at the hairdressers a few weeks after creating my profile, still lacking a photo, letting the emails pile up.  I happened to overhear a conversation regarding Match.com.  Her experience with it was that things would be going great and then all of a sudden some long-lost girlfriend would reappear and they wanted to give their relationship another go.  So, basically, the guys on Match already had girlfriends and were playing the field.  Supposedly, e-Harms was better for dating due to their hardcore assessment process, but I think I already got that one sussed on how to get around those pesky questions.  So, who knows what true quality you’re getting there…

I cancelled my subscription to e-Harms.  After that, I had coffee with my friend Megan and mentioned all the emails I got from randoms.

“Are you kidding me?!  You could have been rolling in dicks by now!”  she exclaimed. My mind briefly jumped to me rolling around on a bed of dildos.  It was lumpy.

But, she was right.  A monumental amount of cock was waiting for me for just $69/mo and a click away.  What was I waiting for?

If only I didn’t have a roommate I called Mom.  If only I had a job.  If only I didn’t have to kiss a few frogs to find a prince.  (God, I hope not.  Warts, anyone?)

But, I’ve been encouraged to start it up again. So, here I go.  Diving back in.

 

 

Online Dating: Part Deux (of 3)

Horoscopes are so full of shit.  First, my Chinese zodiac (year of the snake!  whoop whoop!) for the year said I would be rolling in dick, but none of them would be the “one”.  Well, none of that happened.  And then my astrological zodiac for the year (I’m a Taurus, bitch!) said I would be rolling in it, too, as Venus was in retrograde, or some crap like that, until September 9.  Holy shit!  That’s tomorrow.  So I have one day to find true love otherwise I’m fucked for the rest of the year.

Ha-ha.  Hahaha. Hahahahahahahahah.

So I signed up for the whole online dating thang, again.  I did two websites (E-Harms and Match) to double my chances but went for the less expensive option (Match against the warnings as mentioned in Part 1) as I am unemployed (guess who’s paying for dinner!), which means the quality may not be as good.

Each day I get 24 hopefuls, or what I like to call “winners”, in my inbox to rate.  Now, I say “winners” like they are really heinous or something.  They probably aren’t heinous, but I’m just not attracted to most of them.  I mean, yeah, I probably am too quick to judge by looking at their first profile photo before really reading what they wrote or viewing the subsequent photos they put up there. I only have 1-24 photos to judge men by and why on earth do I want to see you mooning people while you are sitting on the ski lift?    Are you trying to say you have a great sense of humor?   You’re in your 40’s.  To me that just says ‘asshole’.  Or the blurry pictures at the bar of you singing karaoke?   I bet you’re a star.

I’m sure most of them are probably nice guys and, like me, just want someone to cuddle up to at night and maybe a best friend you can spend nearly every waking moment with and are super excited to see you when you get home from work.  (Did I just describe a dog?)

However, being slightly crippled really crosses a lot of potential hopefuls off the list.  So many of them want someone who is super active, travel extensively or sports sports sports.  Should I purchase a selfie stick as well?  Honestly, they’d leave me in the dust. Meh, sad face.

I’m also a bit skeptical of this algorithm the dating website has come up with that says “90-95% match”.  They only really base it off of your multiple choice answers without diving into your own words of who you are and what your perfect partner should be like.  You both like dining out.  BOOM!  It’s a match.  You both like to watch movies.  BOOM!  He has hazel eyes.  BOOM!  He must be the one.  It’s only been a week, though, should I really be this pessimistic?

Anyway, I paid for 3 months of this crap.  It better pay off.

 

The Day I got Caught Watching Porn by Accident

Ok, so it wasn’t actually porn.  And it wasn’t by accident.  I was watching True Blood which we all know has the propensity to have some very graphic sex scenes.  However, let’s start from the beginning…

It was a hot summer afternoon in July.  I had wandered over to my dad’s house because he had HBO On Demand.  I knew no one would be home, so I was relishing having the whole house to myself.  It was well into the final season and I was anxious to catch up on what I had missed.  With the blinds closed to keep out the blazing sun and cut down on the glare, I opened the front and back door to let in the cool, gentle breeze.  I poured myself a glass of chilled rosé, pulled out a box of chocolate bonbons and placed myself in the middle of the couch, primed for an hour of sexy vampire camp.

I was halfway through the episode where Eric was having a flashback that leads to him having sex in a vineyard.  It was a tame sex scene compared to others, but you still got to see Alexander Skarsgård’s ass so I wasn’t going to complain.

At the same time, I heard a car pull up into the driveway.  Thinking it was probably my family, I decided not to turn off the show being that I’d watched Game of Thrones with them; and they were no strangers to my crass humor.

As I heard foot steps cross the threshold, I turned around and saw that it was not a family member but a complete stranger.  I looked at the remote in my hand.  What do I do?  Turn it off in shame?  Pause it with Eric’s ass plastered in the middle of the screen?  Nope.  I was already caught so I left the show running.  I quickly got up from the couch and introduced myself as if it was perfectly normal to be watching what I was watching in the middle of the afternoon with the doors open in case I was expecting visitors.  It turned out it was a friend of the family’s husband dropping something off.  The whole exchange took less then a minute; but it was enough to know that he had just met Penny the Perv; and he could hardly wait to get out there.

Oh well…I sat back on the couch and rewound to the beginning of the scene just in case, you know, I missed anything.

Raw Writing Thursday

Prompt: “And another thing about…” (special instructions: write in dialogue)

Brother: This isn’t what I asked for.

Sister #1: Isn’t it?

Brother: No.

Sister #1: But I followed your directions to the letter.

Brother: Yeah, but you missed one step.  Don’t roll your eyes at me!

Sister #1: This is ridiculous.  Do you want me to take it back?

Brother:  No, but.. hey hold on.  Don’t cry.  Just listen.

Sister #1: But I thought I did everything.

Brother:  Ok.  This grilled cheese looks amazing.  I give you that.

Sister #2: And another thing about trimming your toe nails…

Brother: I thought she wasn’t allowed to use her phone yet.

Sister #1: She’s not.  How did she get it?

Sister #2: Mom gave it back to me, duh!  Anyway, you were saying?

Brother:  Where was I?

Sister #1: You were explaining how amazing my grilled cheese looked and there wasn’t anything wrong.  You want ketchup?

Brother:  Ketchup? What? Ewww, gross, no.  So, here’s the thing.  The cheese is melted superbly.  The tomato looks soft but not soggy.  I like how browned the bread looks.  It makes me think that when I bite into it that it’s going to have a nice crunch , but it’s not going to be so over toasted and hard that it’s going to scrape the roof of my mouth.  I hate that.  And it takes days to heal.

Sister #1: Ok.

Brother:  You’re sulking now.

Sister #1: No I’m not.

Brother:  Yes.  You are.  I can tell.

Sister #1:  Just get on with it.

Brother:  Stop sulking then.

Sister #1: Fine!

Brother: Fine.  Don’t yell.  There’s no need for yelling and uncross your arms.  There’s no need to be defensive.  That’s better.  No, take your hand off your hip like that.  You’re still giving me attitude.

Sister #1:  What then?

Brother:  I’ll tell you when you calm down.

Sister #1: Just eat your damn sandwich then.

Brother:  I told you, I can’t.

Sister #1: Well, why the hell not, then?

Brother:  You forgot to cut the crusts off.

Sister#1: You’re enjoying this aren’t you?  I can tell by the way you are smiling.  Asshole.

Brother: Get use to it because when you start that restaurant job, that’s what they’ll do.  Hey, can you bring me something to drink while you’re in there?