Monday, October 31, 2005

A day at the beach

I just spent two days with my best friend Deena at the St. Regis Hotel in Monarch Beach. We went there yesterday and had a massage, a manicure/pedicure, and an amazing meal. We stayed over-night, got up this morning and drove home, stopping at IHOP on the way.

It was pretty amazing and very relaxing. The room was gorgeous and the view was unparalleled. From our balcony we could see the magnificent grounds of the hotel, the pool, the golf course and the beach. And we didn't have to pay for any of it!! It was taken care of by Deena's ex-boss.

I learned two things:
Massages are even sweeter when they're paid for by someone else.
After 19 years of friendship, my best friend and I haven't run out of things to talk about. As a matter of fact, we can't seem to shut up!

It was a really good couple of days.

The night before, Deena and her boyfriend had us over for a Halloween party. I hate dressing up and so does Russ, so we went as a couple that committed double suicide.

The party was pretty great. Everyone brought gross, Halloween-themed food such as beef ribs on a plate with a skull, pigs-in-blankets that looked like fingers, and my asparagus soup, which became Monster Snot Soup. There were also bat wings, instead of buffalo wings, and eyeballs made out of donut holes for dessert. Our hosts had built a phenomenal graveyard in their backyard graced by all of their guests' tombstones. As much as I don't like Halloween, this actually really got me into the spirit of things.

Anyway, just thought I'd share the weekend's highlights with you.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Things that seem obvious...

So, I was just taking a peanut-butter, banana, chocolate-chip bread (my own recipe) out of the oven, and a thought came to me: Why are there so many things that no one prepares us for when we go out on our own? Like, there's a ton of stuff that seems obvious to me now, but I remember not really grasping a lot of it until I had been out of my parents' house for quite some time.

I decided that I would start listing this stuff, and make it an on-going project.

You shouldn't soak, or place in the dishwasher, any wooden utensils. It will ruin the wood or set your dishwasher on fire.

You have to make your own dentist appointments. No one's going to do it for you.

You should know how to cook at least three things. This way you can always impress a date, impress your parents, or feed yourself when you get sick of peanut butter and jelly.

Don't ever "just put five bucks" in your gas tank. You're just causing more trips for yourself. Fill up when you're at the gas station.

Flossing is really important. If you do it every night, you may be preventing heart disease.

If you spend $100 dollars for a shirt and you put it on a credit card, you will actually pay about $121 for that shirt. Pay off your credit cards every month unless it's an emergency. Then, pay off as much as you can. The best thing to do is never spend more than you actually have. It's a hard concept to get, but you'll sleep much better.

Someone will screw up your order, unless you make them read it back to you. Check every bag before you leave the restaurant!

Life isn't supposed to be serious all the time. If you can't laugh at yourself, LEARN TO!

A guy will tell you everything about himself on the first date if you ask him. I guarantee if you ask him, "Have you ever cheated on anyone," he'll tell you the truth before he realizes it. Ask him ANYTHING... he'll tell you.

And, no. You can't change him.

Being honest is really hard. But the rewards are wonderful.

Getting a good night's sleep is really important.

It really is better to keep your mouth shut unless you have something nice to say. Unless you're being catty with your best friend. Then, talk away!

It is okay to say "no" sometimes. Everyone can't expect you to do everything all the time!

Okay, before I sound too much like Larry King or Andy Rooney, I'll shut up. More to come later, maybe! And feel free to add to the list, if you so desire.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Take Out, Wine, and Dog Food

I went to my favorite Lebanese place, Carnival, tonight to pick up some food to bring home for dinner. I've been going there a few years and the food is AMAZING! The thing is, it has gotten progressively busier and busier over the years. Tonight, I tried calling to place my order. I got a busy signal for ten minutes. So I decided to just go down there, place the order, go do my quick shopping, then come back and pick it up. As I pulled into the lot, and found NOT ONE SPACE, I tried calling again. They finally picked up and I ordered.

Then I went to the grocery store to buy some chicken and rice to cook for Bogie. See, he just isn't keeping food down the last couple of days and I read on-line that it's a good idea to cook plain chicken and rice (no seasonings) and feed them a little to see if they keep that down. I'm taking him to the vet in the morning either way, but I thought I'd give it a shot.

While at the store, I saw they had Yellowtail Shiraz/Cabernet on sale for five bucks. This is the best cheap wine I have found in a long time, so I buy it often. I got two bottles.

I went back to Carnival, double parked, and picked up my food. It was PACKED! Every table was full and there were about eight people waiting. If the food wasn't so good, it would be annoying. But, I love when places like this succeed. The owner is a great guy. He's one of those people that make you feel super special if he likes you. Once he brought me free baklava to "fatten me up." I've never felt so important. Plus, they have NEVER screwed up a to-go order and the food has NEVER been bad. Sometimes the servers are a little acerbic, but it adds to the atmosphere.

Got back home and Russ and I ate our Carnival Combination with rice, salad, lentil soup and Hummus Mushroom. Amazing, as usual. I also had a couple glasses of my Yellowtail. Then I cooked dinner for Bogie. He loved it and he's kept it down for an hour and a half so far. Yay.

I swear, if I have to start cooking for my dog every night, I'll kill someone. Or, I'll cook dinner for him every night. I guess that's more likely.

Here's Carnival's website: If you live in L.A. do yourself a favor and eat there. It's really freaking good.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Just to be in the "spirit" of the blog: a random, SHORT post:

My husband and I took Bogie for a long walk tonight, to get a cup of coffee. He never craps on walks. Tonight, he did. It was a horrible poop. I had a trusty plastic bag. I nearly puked, but I felt good about picking it up.

I hate people who don't pick up their dog's poops. They're assholes.

Monday, October 24, 2005

I've got issues

Okay, so I decided I was going to start a blog, right? And I basically stated that this blog would include a lot of personal shit and innermost feelings. Right? Right. So, here goes.

I have issues. Not a lot, but some. Actually one in particular that eats at me every day. (No pun intended, as you will soon see). And maybe getting it out in writing will help me a little bit. Here goes nothing! I am obsessed with my weight. Truly. I really am. I try not to be, but that never works. I think about it probably as often as most guys think about sex. What is that, once every seven seconds? Yep. That's about right. And maybe putting it out there will help me put off therapy for another couple of months.

This is something I've been dealing with pretty much my whole life. My earliest memories are of me feeling fat and trying to find clothes to cover me up. Try to picture me in 9th grade: five-foot-two and about 90 pounds, wearing over-sized sweaters that covered me from my neck to just below my butt, and stirrup pants. I remember wearing such an outfit on one of my first dates ever. I was about sixteen, and we were going to Magic Mountain on a pretty hot day. I wore the sweater and leggings getup just to be sure no skin peeked through and he wouldn't know how fat I was. I was sweating like a pig the whole day. Pretty.

The older I got, the more vocal I became about it. My best friend Deena had finally convinced me to lose the lame clothes, so now I was wearing my brother's old jeans, cowboy boots, and little tops that showed my stomach. But even though my clothes said otherwise, I still thought I was fat and I said it all the time. "I'm so fat." "I wish I wasn't so fat." "If I wasn't so fat, I would be so much happier." I think this got pretty old, pretty fast. But I couldn't help it. I really couldn't. And once, when I was leaving a party, I heard a girl from inside say, "Lisa is such a bitch. She's so fucking skinny and she's constantly saying how fat she is. She needs so much attention!" I didn't know which was more powerful, hearing her call me a bitch, or hearing her say I was skinny. I was about twenty years old.

So, here I am now. I'm 33 years old, and things haven't gotten much better. Keep in mind, I'm around skinny actresses all the time. I know intellectually that I'm not a fat person. I just want to make that clear. But, my body is certainly not the tiny frame it was years ago-back when I was wasting all that time feeling fat. Now it's just harder to stay skinny. And I almost feel like there's this self-fulfilling prophecy happening. Like I'm being punished for not loving my healthy body more. And I'm aware of all of this! Doesn't this sound psycho? Like, I know I should love that I'm this perfect, healthy human. I can run and skip and do jumping jacks if I want. I can walk, and I have all my limbs, for goodness sake! That should be enough. And it is. I thank God for giving me health and strength every time I do something strenuous, including working out. But, much like the guy who can't get Heidi Klum out of his head, I swear I can't stop thinking about my butt, and my thighs, and the roll of fat I'm getting around my waist. And the older I get, the more it consumes me.

Even though I'm more confident now in a lot of ways, I am more tortured than ever with thoughts of my body. It's fucked up, man. And when I'm working out and in great shape, I think about how I'm going to screw it up. And then, when I ultimately DO screw it up, I go to bed every night thinking what a stupid failure I am.

There. I said it. And you know what? It probably all sounds so lame and self-indulgent. I know that. And still it's all I think about. I guess maybe I'm hoping someone who goes through the same thing will read this and feel better knowing that there are other idiots out there feeling the same thing. Or maybe someone has some advice, or will give me enough money to hire a life-time trainer and nutritionist. Which, by the way, I don't even need because I know what I have to do to be in the shape I want to be in! And, in case you're wondering, yes-I am happier when I fit into a smaller size. But I always sabotage that.

Wow. I'm going to shut up now.

Just one more thing. I started working out again today. It felt really good. I hope I can keep it up this time. And I hope I can be happy with maintaining a healthy body. I swear I'm going to try.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The elephant at the game

I was going to sit down and write today about the party I catered last night. It was a small get together for my parents and 12 of their friends, and it was pretty exciting and wonderful to cook for people outside of my "comfort zone". However, it was not as interesting as what just happened to me a few minutes ago, or didn't happen... I'll explain.

Russ and I went to our nephew's little league baseball game. Our nephew is eight years-old and plays many different positions, as do all of his teammates. From catcher to outfield, our little guy gives his all. Or at least 70 percent. My niece was there too. Climbing all over me, doing my hair, and giving me a four minute karate-chop masssage for a dollar. All in all, it was a pretty nice day.

Well, about fifteen minutes into the game, I happened to recognize someone to my left at the other end of the bleachers. This "someone" happens to be the woman who fired me from my last big job. I'm sorry, she didn't exactly "fire" me. She "didn't renew my contract". Now mind you, I am not at all angry at anyone for letting me go. Show business is, in fact, a business and I can't fault anyone for "wanting to go a different way" or "wanting to switch things up". It happens all the time and you just have to deal with it. No sir. My problem lies in the method. My problem lies in the lame phone call I had to sit through. My problem lies in the cold, insensitive way in which I was told I was not being asked back.

It was the Monday after Thanksgiving of last year. I was at home, minding my own business having just said goodbye to my husband's family and settling in for some T.V. and a turkey sandwich. Okay, that's a lie. There was probably no turkey left by then, and I was probably all turkeyed-out anyway. So maybe I was about to have a bowl of cereal or some pb&j. It doesn't matter!

So, the phone rings and it's this woman. "Hi Lisa!" she says. "How was your Thanksgiving?" "Nice, thanks," I say. "Oh, mine was amazing," she continues "We had about fifty people here and we had it catered. All the kids were running around doing all kinds of games with the nannies we brought in. And the adults could really relax, drink and let there hair down, you know- like we did before we popped out the little brats!" Okay, I added that last part. But you get the picture.

"Wow," says I. "Yeah!" says she, "It was wonderful. I don't know if I've ever eaten that much! Let alone pay that much for people to cook for me!" Okay, I added that last part too, but it was implied. We continue on about her "lavish Thanksgiving" for about five minutes until she segue's into the REAL reason for her call.

"So anyway, " she continued "The reason I'm calling is that we aren't going to be renewing your contract for next season." (Insert awkward silence here).

"Oh, okay," I said, thinking to myself, "Why the fuck did I just have to waste five minutes of my life listening to your fucking Thanksgiving story? You couldn't have just told me I was canned and let me get on with my life? Jesus!" At this point my mind was racing with thoughts of mortgage payments, and various other bills that would soon be harder to pay.

At any rate, the conversation continued until its natural conclusion, ending with some fake bullshit about how she hoped we can work together again and blah blah blech. I hung up, dejected and pissed. Man, if only I had that five minutes back! I could have another job by now.

So, the very same cowardly bitch who called me instead of talking to my face, and who rambled on about her fucking expensive caterer was now at the other end of the bleachers. I saw her. I'm pretty sure she saw me, but I sure as hell wasn't going to say "Hi".

Oh, on a side note. The last time I saw her was about 3 months ago on my way out of a building I had an audition in. We were in the elevator together and she was on her cell phone. She mouthed, "Hi! You look great," in her fakey bullshit way. I smiled at her and walked out of the elevator and into my car. So today I was determined NOT to have a fakey encounter, or ANY encounter, as the case may be. I was with my Brother, my sis-in-law, my niece and my husband and we were there to watch my nephew PLAY, damn it!

Okay, so now it's forty-five minutes into the game and I'm hungry. I ask Russ to get me a snack from the snack bar so I don't have to walk past "Bitchy McFakerson". He said he would. Well, ten minutes later I wasn't getting any less hungry and Russ was still sitting on the bench next to me. "Screw it," I thought. "I'm not letting 'Shitty McFireyou' ruin my chance to get a crappy hot dog and a diet coke." So I got up and walked toward the snack bar, right in FRONT of "Coldy McDon'tdeservemyjob", and bravely used my niece as a shield. I held her, with her legs around my waist and her arms around my neck. Nice, right?

Then, on our way back, there was no avoiding it. We all had high-carb foods in our hands and couldn't use each other as barriers. You know what I did? Acted like I had NO peripheral vision and stared straight ahead, with only my salted pretzel to guard me. Okay, I had a little thimble full of mustard to dip into, but you can really only block an eyeball or a thumbnail with one of those. I stayed as tunnel-visioned as the network that let me go as I strode past "Richy McCaterer" and her dumb friends who were pretending to be interested in their kids' lives for one Sunday.

She saw me. Oh, she saw me alright. But I successfully ignored her! I mean, she did the same. Don't get me wrong. But this was BIG for me! BIG, I tell you! I am NOT the type of person that doesn't go out of my way to say hi to even the SHITTIEST people! But I stood my ground, boy. I did the best ignoring job I've ever seen. And, on our way out I had to walk by her one more time! I braced myself and did it. Success! No awkward moment. No fake, "How've you been?" I made it out unscathed and possibly even better than I had come in. For now I was one of those amazing people who can be openly bitchy (or at least indifferent) in public. I had conquered something important.

So, there you have it. A recipe for the perfect Sunday. I'll share some recipes from my catering job next time.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Name change

Okay, so you log on to my blog because you feel like seeing what I have to say that's so interesting I just had to start a blog. And then you notice the name: Lisa Arch. Now, if you just accidentally came across my blog, you don't notice anything odd. You'd probably just think, "Oh, this must be Lisa Arch's blog." BUT if you logged on throught the Lisa Kushell web site, you'd probably think, "Who the hell is Lisa Arch?"

Well, they are one in the same. After five and a half years of marriage, I decided to finally do it. That's right. I took my husband's name. To be honest, I would have done it immediately but I was afraid of the career problems it might pose. I've been Lisa Kushell in this business for about 10 years and now everyone's going to have to learn my new name. That's not generally the best idea when you're already on the D-List (to borrow a Kathy Griffin phrase). But then I started thinking about it as a new beginning. A chance to start over and possibly re-define myself. I like new beginnings. Change doesn't scare me. So, there it is. Lisa Arch is my new name, dammit! Learn it. Live it. Hopefully soon "Lisa Arch" will be in the credits of something. Hopefully something good. But, if it's something horrible that I took out of complete desperation, at least I won't sully the career of Lisa Kushell. Ha! See? There's my first bonus. From now on I can't embarrass my family with bad career choices, but I CAN embarrass my husband's family! Things are already looking up. I like this name change thing.

Mrs. Arch

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Why are restaurants so sketchy?

For my first post I will share with you some odd restaurant experiences I had today. That's right. I ate at two restaurants in one day. Pretty hoity toity of me, huh?

My first dining experience took place at a favorite breakfast place of mine in the San Fernando Valley. I'll refrain from using the name of the restauant so that I may eat there again, but let's call it Pinky's. I've eaten at Pinky's for about 14 years now, long before it expanded the first time, and even longer before its second expansion. I felt special finding this place before everyone else. I felt special eating pancakes I knew very few people had tasted. I felt special getting a whole pot of coffee on my table. People there knew my name. It's different now. It's a popular place. The wait on the weekends is an hour or so. I no longer go there on the weekends. But, today being a Tuesday, I decided to have a late breakfast with my friend Max, whose very fault it is that I'm doing this blog in the first place. Max and I got to Pinky's at around 12:00. It was busy as usual but we were seated quickly. Our waitress seemed a bit frazzled, but it was the lunch rush so we let it go. Max and I waited tables for many years, you see. We let a lot go.

My coffee came and so did Max's iced tea, but the iced tea seemed very small and was sans lemon, and my coffee cup had a lipstick stain on it. A big, obvious lipstick stain. Now, as I've said, I was a waitress for many years. Rule number one: CHECK THE CUP FOR LIPSTICK. IF THERE IS LIPSTICK, WIPE IT OFF OR GET A CLEAN CUP!

(Click pic to enlarge)

As I complained about the cup, to no apology by the way, Max asked for a lemon to freshen up his pathetic iced tea. I begrudgingly got a clean cup. He got a lemon and a bigger iced tea, also begrudgingly. Then I noticed some disgusting yellowish blob of something in the tub with the pats of butter. For some reason, maybe because I had no idea what it was, it made me nauseous.

(Click pic to enlarge)

I had to turn the tub over just to get rid of it. Then I went to put sugar in my coffee but the sugar had somehow gotten wet and was all clumpy and not coming out of its container. I switched it with the sugar off another table. This was not going well.

When the food came it was tasty and everything went fairly smoothly from there. But, I'd be lying if I said my Pinky's experience wasn't a bit tainted. It's not like it used to be there. I mean, the tables used to be clean and so did the cups. I used to feel special there. The service used to be as good as the food. Now they're both just okay. I miss the old days.

(Click pic to enlarge)

Okay, story number two:

So we were just eating at our favorite Indian place. I'll refrain from using the name to protect the innocent. It's the best Indian food in the valley, and I frankly think it's the best in Los Angeles. Now, every time we go there something weird happens. Most of the time, it's just supremely bad service. But the food is always so amazing, we have to keep going back.

We went in June for my husband Russ' birthday and there was only one other couple in the whole place. They sat us at a small two-top when clearly there were several four-tops available. We asked for a bigger table, citing the fact that we would order so much food that it wouldn't all fit on one table. They said they were sorry, the four tops were reserved for 3 or more people, but they could bring a cart next to the table if we needed it. Suffice it to say, the bigger tables were all still available when we left that night.

We went again about a month ago. It took 45 minutes to get our food, but people coming in and ordering food to go were getting their food in 10 minutes. We ordered re-fills on our diet cokes and were told by a sheepish busboy, "I'm not supposed to do this. They charge for refills. but i'll do it this one time." Again, the food was great, but the service severely lacking. An apology for the long wait came at the end of the meal in the form of an odd but delicious liquor covered donut-type dessert. The waiter said, "We're sorry you waited so long. We realized you never complained." Huh?

Okay. Tonight. Tonight the food was extra superb. We ordered an Indian beer, and instead the waiter suggested a different beer. If we didn't like it, we could send it back. Out comes the beer and two chilled glasses. It was great. We ordered another for my father-in-law who was dining with us. The samosas came out fast and piping hot. The entrees came pretty close behind it: Chicken Saag, Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Curry with rice, Benghan Bharta, and Naan. Wow. Amazing. Everything was perfect. At the end we ordered coffee and a fresh pot was made. Perfect. The bill comes. We split it with Russ' step dad. The waiter made sure to take eight dollars off the check because we had a coupon. He brought back the check and the credit card receipts and then... are you ready? He leaned over and whispered this to us:

"Don't leave a big tip. It goes to the owner, not to the waiter."


"Don't leave a lot of money. Just five dollars or something. The owner takes it all."

Um, he couldn't have said that. That's completely crazy. Are these people treated like slaves? Is that why the service is always so bad? We beckoned him over again. Could you repeat that one more time?

"The lady is the owner. She takes the tips. Please don't say anything."

But, that's not okay.

"It's illegal!"

On our way out, I told him we'd bring cash to tip him next time. He said he'd appreciate it.

Damn it, Our Favorite Indian Restaurant! Can't you just get it together?

Thus ends my first blog. I hope you weren't bored to tears. If you were, you can send it back and I'll get you something else.