It been exciting here lately. I went to a Dodgers baseball game with my co-workers. JW got his season tickets for the L.A. Kings, which kind of makes me a new season ticket holder since I'm going in with him for my own seat. My bottom feeding for Kings tickets days are over. No longer will I be sucking up freebies and counting on the generosity of others to see NHL hockey. I feel a little weird about my status as an NHL fan. Do I still get to call myself a Vancouver Canucks fan since I cheered for the Kings against them in the playoffs? Will I still wear my Canucks jersey when they come to town even though I'm (sort of) a Kings season ticket holder? I tell you what, I'm not making one of those hideous frankenjerseys so I can wear both. No.
So for me, a true blue Canucks fan for almost 20 years, I feel a little strange. Even stranger, I went to Monday Night Football at Sharkeez. Sharkeez is a sports bar/restaurant with 4 or 5 locations in Southern California. My boyfriend and his friends are regulars there for Monday Night Football, and it is quite a production. My previous experiences with Sharkeez was going there with co-workers for lunch, drinks, parties, and once to dinner with my boyfriend. It usually ranged from pretty mellow to moderately hopping, but mostly I was focused on the fish tacos (extremely good, actually, especially with this crazy good rice they have) and watching hockey on TV. Probably my most memorable experience was successfully talking a waiter into turning all the TVs to different NHL games, and then finding out he had never heard of Wayne Gretzky. Seriously, he had NEVER heard of Wayne Gretzky. I could hardly believe it.
But Monday Night Football, oh boy crazy. They have trivia, and prizes, beads, free shots, all the staff are wearing football jerseys, the women's customized in various ways to go with their extremely short skirts and stripey socks, and it is LOUD. And a meat market, something I usually avoid. I've never in my life met someone in a bar, and I don't really get that scene. Of course I was there with my boyfriend, so mostly I just enjoyed watching his friends try to play hard to get with women they were interested in. I tried to watch the game, too. I don't really get football. I definitely get hockey, and soccer, and I can watch just about any Olympic sport and get into it. I used to follow NBA basketball. I'll even watch cheerleading competitions, although I agree with the recent court ruling that cheerleading is not a sport for the purposes of Title 9.
Football though, eh. But I tried. The funnest part was watching my boyfriend, who is from New York and is a NY Jets fan. In an effort to encourage an interest in football, he suggested I become a Baltimore Ravens fan, because they're, like, all Edgar Allen Poe and goth. So even though I've never been to Baltimore and know nothing about the team, I was like, sure, I'll be a Ravens fan. So guess what? The Jets were playing the Ravens. JW didn't even mind me rooting against his team (even when the Ravens won). He was totally in his element, answering Jets trivia questions and collecting swag. It was fun to watch him having so much fun. I love that I found someone who is even more enthusiastic than I am. He is really the free spirit in this relationship.
My extra fun lately has been taking belly dancing lessons. I am taking them from Aisha Ali, who is a very impressive woman all around. She is a wonderful dancer, and taking lessons from her is truly a cultural experience since she tells us stories about when she spent 20 years studying dance from the Fellahin gypsy tribe in Egypt. This is one of the amazing things about L.A. Where else could I study dance with an internationally known dancer and scholar, for $15 a lesson. In every class, I'm remind that really great dancers make it look so easy, but when you try to imitate what she does, it's so hard. For her, though, it looks like no big deal. It is anything but.
So while I continue selling my unwanted stuff on eBay, I've found zills (finger cymbals) and jingly coin scarves to buy there. Zills are pretty hard to do well, but the cool thing about wearing the jingly coin scarves around your hips is that it makes it seem like you know what you're doing. At least it sounds that way. It all leads back to hockey, though, because I was hoping the body control and being able to do isolated movements in different parts of my body would help with hockey. My hockey teacher is always telling me to separate what I do with my upper body from what my legs are doing. In belly dancing, you do a lot of separate things with your hips, legs, hips, shoulders, arms, and head. Like an type of dance, it's crazy hard to do well.
In other adjustments to different cultures, the rats have really jumped to the forefront. First, Miroslav managed to infiltrate Jason's cage and attempted to evict him. The littles (Miroslav, Zeus, and Keith) share a cage (mind you, a rat mansion!). Jason has his own cage. I used to have them right next to each other on a table. Before I got the littles, I used to keep Jason's cage door open so he could hang out on top of his cage and, I hoped, feel a little more free. The new cages, the Bel-Air Rat Mansions, have a door on the top and the side. So one night, I left Jason's cage open and he got off the table and had an excellent adventure cruising around the apartment while I was asleep. I spotted him when I woke up, and he ran away initially but then came when I called. Then Miroslav tried his hostile takeover, which involved a very traumatizing amount of squealing and blood and mayhem. So, after dipping Jason in soapy water with hydrogen peroxide, scrubbing his cage clean of Miroslav smells, and attempting to comfort the poor freaked-out older rat, I moved Jason into my room. So the littles now have the table in the living room to themselves.
I naively thought that Jason getting off the table (which is 2-1/2 feet off the ground) was just a fluke, so when I left the little's cage door open so they could cruise around the table while I slept, I was a little surprised when Keith showed up on my living room floor the next morning. Keith does not come when I call. Keith is fast and wants nothing to do with being picked up by me. It was an all day ordeal. I chased him around the living room for almost an hour in the morning until I had to go to work. Then I came home and chased him around the living room for another hour, finally lost him, fell asleep on the couch, stumbled into my bedroom and found him in the corner under my dressing table. Then I chased him around the bedroom for another hour, finally luring him into a plastic tube using a juggling stick that belonged to my brother.
So now I have two escape artists, one rat who is living up to his name (Miroslav Satan), and sweet Zeus, who still licks my fingers and loves me. Jason still loves me too, and seems a lot calmer now that he's hanging in my room. Keith sort of tolerates me but is still trying to jump off the table any chance he gets. Miroslav, well, I still love that fearless rat even though he attacked my beloved gentle spirit Jason. I don't trust him though. His morals are questionable.
Finally, I got rear-ended on the 405 freeway yesterday. My car seems undamaged. I don't know if I got whiplash yet, but it was loud and shocking and I was pretty rattled. I did get to completely stop my car, turn off the engine, and not care in the middle of rush hour traffic, so that was fun. Mostly, I'm just glad it wasn't worse. I've seem some unpleasant accidents on the 405. So I feel lucky. Very, very lucky. My L.A. experience is evolving. I wonder how long you have to live here to be a real Angelino? Does it count if you just really love it here, despite the traffic and questionable air quality? If you realize that this place is full of so many cultures and subcultures that you could walk into a mind-altering cultural experience at any time? That you don't think that Hollywood and celebrities is all L.A. has to offer the world? As my boyfriend says, if you don't like L.A. get off the freeway and see what L.A. is really all about.