Friday, January 28, 2005

the birthday chronicles: a six-year review

Emily and I have been best of friends for what feels like a million years but what really only amounts to the span of 6 birthdays each. Each of those birthdays has been particularly significant as we tend to do them big so since today marks the start of Emily's 27th year on Earth (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NINNY MUGGINS!), I thought it fitting to spend a bit of time recounting and reflecting upon the last 6 birthdays we have shared together...

AGE 21
Emily's Birthday
The first birthday I was priveleged to truly share in Emily's life was her 21st, an all-out booze fest which began with dinner at the classy Acapulco restaurant in Santa Barbara and then continued with a bar hopping excursion down State Street led by my former boyfriend Jim who was bent on making it a memorable night for her (read: bent on getting her wicked drunk). As I was not yet of age and too pure and innocent and guilty conscious-driven to ever try to get a fake ID, I spent the evening peering through the windows from outside State Street's finest establishments trying to get a view of Emily at the bar as she chugged down every alcoholic concoction Jim could get in her hands...and chug she did. Her mantra remained "I don't really feel it yet" to which he continually responded, "GREAT! Then you need more." Needless to say, this birthday ended with much misery and vomit but makes for great stories for the grandkids.

Abby's Birthday
Ironically enough, my 21st birthday celebration also began at the infamous Acapulco in SB for Happy Hour margaritas but saw a very different conclusion. It was a Monday, the first day of classes my senior year of college and wouldn't you know it, I had a night class from 7-9pm. My plan was to go to Happy Hour with friends, go to class, and then meet back up with everyone after class for more birthday fun, but seeing that two days prior was my sister's wedding and the day before I moved my whole life from San Diego back up to school, I was completely exhausted. Once 9pm rolled around, I wanted nothing more than to go to bed. But my friends did continue the festivities without me and from what I hear, they had a lovely time.

Age 22
Emily's Birthday
Emily's 22nd was celebrated with a little surprise party I put together at Soho, a hip swanky little dinnerhouse/bar/live music hot spot in Santa Barbara which involved an ecclectic mix of friends. I remember this mix vividly as several of the friends in attendance pitched in with me to buy her a video camera which subsequently captured the whole evening on film. Certain other friends simply signed the card to appear as though they had pitched in to buy her this marvelous gift but in typical, expert mooching fashion, never actually gave me a dime...Andy, you know who you are and I am still bitter.

Abby's Birthday
My 22nd birthday was The Most Epic Birthday of All the Epic and Magical Birthdays of All Time. Emily surprised me (and I mean SURPRISED ME) with a limo she had rented for the day to take a small group of girls wine tasting in Santa Ynez. We had the Best. Time. Ever. It was a perfect, beautiful day and she had even managed to plan to do it while my sister was in town visiting so that she could come along. I'm also fairly certain there was a decanter of scotch in the limousine, but honestly that part gets a little fuzzy.

Age 23
Emily's Birthday
Okay, I know I said that all six of the birthdays we've shared together were grandiose and therefore very memorable, but for some reason neither of us can really recall what we did for her 23rd birthday. We're pretty sure this was the night that we splurged on the most amazing dinner of all time ...the Prix Fixe Wine Pairing Dinner Menu at AMEN, SING GLORY HALLELUJAH The Wine Cask. Kumbaya, my Lord. KUM-BAY-A. And to really top it off, we enjoyed this unprecedented meal in the pleasurable company of The Phil (aka "Coach" - Emily's Dad) and The Great Lauren Brock. Shabat shalom.

Abby's Birthday
My 23rd birthday was yet another great fruit of Emily's genius and generosity. She took me to San Francisco for a weekend where she treated me to my first day spa experience...a massage at the original Elizabeth Arden Red Door Day Spa. Cue the angelic singing and bright, blinding lights. We also enjoyed fine dining (oh, the cheese board!), wacky nightlife at some Indian joint in the Haight Ashbury District and a quick jaunt to Napa for a little wine tasting, which of course ended with a trip to Carl's Jr. because what good is wine tasting if you can't follow it up with a Western Bacon Cheeseburger???

Age 24
Emily's Birthday
Believe it or not, this birthday involved Paper Mache. For Emily's 24th, I constructed a large paper orange and filled it with 24 individual envelopes of things to do and see in Orange County and off we went. (Okay, this might not sound like a dream trip to most of you, but you have to understand that Emily has long obsessed over Orange County. No one knows why...we just go with it.) We stayed at the adorable La Casa del Camino hotel in Laguna Beach and trapsed all over town enjoying great shopping, great food, and a really boring movie.

Abby's Birthday
My 24th was all about pampering. (Of course, that's a stupid statement because which of these birthday has NOT been about pampering?) It started with a delicious dinner at The Cliff House and was followed by brunch at the Biltmore the next morning, pedicures at Walter Claudio, and facials at Skin Deep. I know. I have The Coolest Best Friend On The Planet. I believe I was also housesitting in Montecito over this birthday and that Emily brought me my favorite take out to eat by the pool...and maybe also in the pool while we floated on rafts. Sing praises. Amen.

Age 25
Emily's Birthday
Em's 25th began with a surprise lunch at Las Brisas in Laguna Beach attended by a gathering of girlfriends and was followed by a trip to Spa Gregorie's , a group outing to Happy Nails for pedicures, and then a night at the Improv to see Harland Williams, the man who has forced me to view fried calamari as "crispity, crunchity buttholes" forever after.

Abby's Birthday
My 25th was celebrated by an Elmo/Sesame Street-themed surprise party hosted at Starlet's house where we dined upon Frito Boats and then moved the party to Saddleback Lanes for an evening of my favorite activity EVER...bowling. (Even though I did love Sesame Street as a child, I should mention this is not the reasoning behind this choice of decor. It's what was on sale at Party City and considering how much money Emily had dropped on all of my previous birthdays mentioned here and how heavily the slightest bit of guilt weighs upon my conscious, I am very glad she bargain-shopped. The sale items did include a Pin-the-Tail-on-Elmo game, though, (me being Elmo, of course) and it was greatly enjoyed by all.)

Age 26
Emily's Birthday
Emily's 26th was celebrated at our place with a Roaring 20's theme party attended by a gang of friends. Boas and fedora hats were provided so that everyone could look the part without much effort and it made for great pictures. We ate a lot of food including homemade ice cream cake that I am craving as I type this. I love the person responsible for cookies 'n cream.

Abby's Birthday
My 26th happed to fall on my first day back at work after a 10-day vacation in Hawaii where Em and I were in Starlet's wedding so we did this one a bit mellow. We were too docile from being so well rested to go all out and really, too tan to function normally, oh misery. Em and Jon took me out for a yummy Thai food dinner and then joined me at my parents' house where my folks gave me the mighty Senseo and Em gave me one of my most favorite possessions of all time...Season 2 of Felicity.

And thus endeth the glamorous telling of the six birthdays we have shared so far. As you can imagine, we are broke from going hog wild but rich with the best memories of our lives...the kind of memories you're supposed to make in your 20s but that not everyone gets the kind of friends you ought to make them with. I am richly blessed...Emily is the dearest, truest, most loyal and amazing friend I have ever had and I know we will be a part of each other's birthdays ever after.

I love you, Em. Happy birthday...and HERE'S TO 50 MORE!!!

Posted by Poka Bean at 9:58 AM 4 comments

Thursday, January 27, 2005


It has just been confirmed that Krissie officially has Mono...not SARS. Please accept my apologies for publishing erroneous information. I accept full responsibility for this heinous oversight.

The part about the puss is still true, though.

Posted by Poka Bean at 1:41 PM 3 comments

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

rubino's: where nobody knows your name even though you go there like all the time

I try to bring my lunch to work most days of the week in an effort to save a few pennies and eat healthier food but once or twice a week, my beloved co-worker Krissie (the one who looks like Bo Derek) and I treat ourselves to lunch out. Typically, we head to Rubino's for the deal of the century: a huge slice of pizza and a soda for 2 bucks. Or $2.69 if you add a side of Ranch plus tax which, of course, I always do. I mean, I have no choice about the tax part, but I always willingly add the Ranch.

Our Rubino's lunches have become something of a well-choreographed ritual. We depart the office at 12:30pm sharp and drive the 1/4 mile down the street to the shopping center where Rubino's sits perched between A-1 Mail and a real estate office. We drive in whichever Honda Civic is the most readily available in the parking lot right outside our office...typically mine because I am naughty and like to think the rules of parking in the upper lot four days a week don't apply to me because I'm above the law and invincible and cannot be inconvenienced with parking up top when there are open spaces in the lower lot mere steps outside the office door. Sheesh!

When we enter Rubino's at 12:35, the place is always empty except for a few wayward souls who I can only assume either a) just bought a home in Orange County at the real estate office next door and can now only afford to eat the $2 lunch special, or b) simply enjoy the experience of eating in dead silence turned whirlwind-of-loud-obnoxious-high-school-students turned silence again (for which I don't blame's a real thrill.)

We step up to the counter and each place an order for a Number 1 with cheese and a side of ranch, please, with either the Tall Dark Jolly Man or the Moderately Friendly Blonde Woman and then we move on to the soda machine to fill up our styrofoam cups with Dr. Pepper. We grab a stack of napkins and two plastic knives and then robotically retire to our usual table by the door.

We chit chat and sip on our drinks while we wait for our pizza until NUMBER 43, YOUR ORDER IS READY booms over the loud speaker (and yes, they use a loud speaker in this restaurant the size of my living room with only three other customers present, probably just in case we can't hear them over the subtitled soap opera playing on the TV hoisted up in the corner of the room or the faint oldies music playing in the background which only Krissie's finely tuned ear can pick up on...even when she is deathly ill with SARS or some other odd virus she recently contracted on a visit to China and every ounce of her body including her finely tuned ear is congested with, well, congestion. And puss, if I'm being honest.)

Upon the loud announcement of the status of our Number 1s with cheese and a side of ranch, please, one of us dutifully rises to fetch the meal from the counter. We then use several napkins out of our great big stack to sop up the grease floating atop our pizza. (My mother is now reading this with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Not because we sop up the grease but because I am eating something that has so much grease atop it that it has to be sopped up. Mom, I totally swear I eat carrots and broccoli for lunch every other day of the week. Promise.)

Next comes the slicing of our giant pieces of pizza into two normal sized pieces which is no small feat when attempted with flimsy plastic knives that must cut through the cheese that is quickly cooling to a solid (more maternal wailing and gnashing of teeth here). Once our slices have been successfully divided, we pray, pop open the side of Ranch (or sides of Ranch as was the case this week cause I totally don't want to get SARS), and proceed to mow down our $2 specials. We munch and dip and swig our sodas and discuss the men in our lives in between bites and over the din of the giant gang of high school students who have now entered the restaurant right on schedule and are being loud and obnoxious right on cue.

After we've finished, we dump our trash and head back to the office for the rest of the afternoon. And after that, it's go home, sleep, eat carrots and broccoli for the next couple of days, and repeat. We are completely predictable. And that's exactly the way I like it.

Posted by Poka Bean at 5:36 PM 1 comments

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

the sweet smell of...well, not me

I'm really sorry for all of the Jon-related posts recently but before you start whining and complaining, I'd like to publish a preemptive SHUT UP because I'M ENGAGED and the superlative magical wonder and newness of it all will only last for so long so I'M ENJOYING EVERY MINUTE OF IT while I still can.

So anyway, what I have to say about Jon today has to do with a recent ongoing discussion about household roles and responsibilities, or at least roles and responsibilities as we imagine them to be in our near future as co-habitators. In a moment of panic when I realized I will be cooking all of the meals, doing nearly all of the cleaning, and most likely managing the finances (duh...things wives have been doing since the dawn of time but apparently I'm a slow learner) I asked, "What exactly are YOU bringing to the table?" to which he responded he would take out the trash.

What, like TEN TIMES A DAY or something?

I mean, that's nice and all since it's a chore I'm happy to get rid of but in the grand scheme of things, taking out the garbage hardly seems like enough to balance out my household load.

So we discussed a few options and Jon managing the vacuuming and bathroom cleaning duties is now on the table. I feel the bathroom cleaning portion is particularly fitting since he uses the toilet EVERY. TEN. MINUTES. But the frequency of his trips to the loo is a topic for another post entirely. Another very long, very wordy, very descriptive post about the very core of his being. His very essence. Poop.

Okay, well oddly enough, that's an excellent segue to my point. After dropping the subject for awhile (and intermittently enjoying a leisurely dinner that involved much cheese and a few beans, if you know what I mean) Jon gazed longingly into my eyes, squinched up his nose and said, "I know what I bring to the table. Odorless gas. And the strength to endure your stenches."

Thus concludeth Household Chore Debate #1. We are SO totally even.

Posted by Poka Bean at 1:50 PM 2 comments

Monday, January 03, 2005

mrs abby wallace

Well, luckily I didn't make Jon Wallace so miserable last month that he could no longer bear to be with me. In fact, I think I might have done some sort of reverse psychology voodoo witchcraft on him by writing that post because he up and proposed. That's right, friends, I said proposed. Jon and I are engaged!

Come July, I will finally get to marry the man I adore.

I will get to marry THE Jon Wallace, master of the random but genuinely interesting historical factoid, the gallon jug of water, and the blue shirt.

I will get to marry the man who never loses his cool, the man who truly never needs to ask for directions, the man who loves Ms. Pacman more than anyone else on the great planet Earth.

I will get to marry the man who can make me laugh a deep, gutteral roar from a part of my stomach I never knew existed, the man who never pretends to be anything other than himself, the man who loves wild adventure and travel, and also lazy afternoon naps.

I will get to marry the man who is unafraid of hard work, the man who can eat an entire meal in three bites, the man who desires to live a simple life in jeans and flip flops as much as I do.

I will get to marry the man who has called me EVERY day that we've been together even though he desperately hates the phone, the man who always builds me up, the man who prays for me.

I will get to marry the man who I most respect, the man who keeps Pepsi in business, the man who I will probably never beat at miniature golf.

I will get to marry the man who loves good music and good books, the man who always eats off my plate and lets me eat off his, the man who hates coffee but graciously grins and bears it while I linger over a big cup and lets me kiss him when I'm finished.

I will get to marry the man who is consistently patient with me, the man who loves his friends and family and encourages me in the way I love mine, the man by whose side the simple act of walking feels like spending a cozy day at home.

Come July, I will finally get to marry the only man who has captured both my head and my heart. My one and only.

At last. I will get to marry Jon Wallace. The love of my life.

Posted by Poka Bean at 3:48 PM 5 comments