Queens, softball & gay drama

I’m not really into gay drama.

You know what’s really fucked up? It’s usually the queens. Why is that?

So, I’m watching the Gorillas play I forget who and I’m cheering for the other team. It’s a boring strategy story. That’s all I’m going to say. Anyway, this guy with huge arms – not much a telling description I know, they all have big arms and occasionally a big bellies, too – steps awkwardly up to the plate.

I’ve seen him hit before. He’s a chopper. I love to yell at him, “Hey, there’s no bunting in softball!” But instead I holler to the pitcher, “Easy out!” and I go on shouting god-knows-what until the Gorillas squeak out a win. They’re funny as hell to watch all pumped up on steroids and adrenalin running ramrod stiff and bull-legged. And they throw like girls. Not all of them, of course. But the ones that throw like they were last picked for the team are the most fun to watch.

Getting back to Mr. Arms…

He gets on base with a grounder that stays in the infield. Now I’ve got to tell you, this is where I stopped paying attention. My voice apparently was still ringing in his ears because a couple of hits later, when he rounds the bases into home, he flips me off. I miss this of course. Goddamn it! But Annie fills me in later because undiagnosed ADD means I’m easily distracted with butterflies.

Fast forward a week.

For shits and giggles, I create a Facebook page with a writer friend I met in San Francisco, Louay. It’s pronounced “Lou-eye” and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fucked it up. Because I already have a Facebook page – Nicole C. Brambila the journalist with only 7 likes (hint, hint) – I had to hit 25 “likes” before I could get a URL. So, I essentially sent out a couple dozen personal invites to friends begging them to like me. Pathetic I know.

Sunday I snap this rather artistic photo of the Gorillas (you’ll have to go to www.facebook.com/TheDLeague to see it, and please like the page while you’re there) and I posted it on their fan page.

And then this asshole shits on my clever tagline: “We’ve got all the D League drama, bad calls & foul language.” I know steroids can make people pissy, but does it also rob people of a fucking sense of humor?

To that I say, “Yes. Final answer.”

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Pubis & condoms

The view from here sucks.

I’m looking out the window at the vista from my motel room – a national chain that leaves the light on for you – at the first floor roof with its rocks (how do they get here anyway?), some cable chords, broken Spanish tile and what looks like a used condom. Yuck. I don’t even want to know how it got there.

After spending a small fortune for a four-star room on Nob Hill that charges $6.50 for a bottle of water and $14.95 for the Internet service I accidentally clicked on – twice – I was looking for something less pricey. I had been in San Francisco to pitch my little memoir rant to some real live agents at a writer’s conference. I drove home with a lot of notes, but not much money in my pocket.

I had planned to come straight home, but the exhaustion hit me around Ventura, so I began looking for a cheap bed. I guess a condom littered view is what you get nowadays for $49.99.

In about 20 minutes I’m going to head into the bathroom where I’ll find another treasure – a dark pubic hair. It’s not mine. I spot it shaving my legs in the shower. But that’s not the strangest part. It was left for me on the wall above the tile over the tub. All I can think is, How in the hell did it get all the way up there? That’s got to be what? A good 4 to 5 feet above the tub? I can’t even imagine.

I quickly turn away in disgust and that’s when I find another one. This time the pubis is stuck on the wall just above the shower head.

OMG.

That’s it. I can’t wash in all this pubic hair. I shut off the water and towel off. But as I’m climbing out of the tub, I look in horror at my own little red pubis staring back at me. I scoop it up with a wad of toilet paper because I have this hair thing. I think I told you about it..

OK, so it’s a lot easier to shed in the tub than I realized, but that still doesn’t explain how the darker ones jumped five feet. And it won’t keep me from saying something to Judy, the manager, when I check out.

“Ugh, the bathroom in 201 needs a little sprucing up,” I say.

As I say this, I’m thinking I probably am going to have to use the “P” word in public. That, and I better be sure to let her know it’s not mine because I used the toilet paper for the red ones, I left the others.

Judy stares at me, mouth open and wide eye.

I know, that’s what I thought, I say with an uncomfortable smile.

“Oh my god,” she says muffling a laugh. “I am so sorry. Would a discount help?”

Not really. I didn’t say that, of course.  But I also didn’t take the discount. It just didn’t feel right taking the 10 percent knowing that there was no way in hell I would pass up writing about this.

Are you a Democrat?

I’m a journalist; I’m used to asking questions.

I don’t often get asked questions, though. So, I was a little taken back this week when Darryl Greenamyer turned to me and said, as I was putting my notebook away, “I want to ask you something.”

There was something in the way he said it that made me think this wasn’t going to be an ordinary question.

In my job, you learn to size people up. Is this person scamming me? Telling the truth? Sending me on a goose chase? My time is limited. I can’t do every story. It’s a way of helping me say “no” on my way to a “yes.”  Still, I sometimes get surprised and that’s the really terrific thing about journalism.

I had just spent two hours with Darryl for a community profile. At 75, Darryl is still a record man.

In 1969, he broke a 30-year-old speed record with a modified Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat hitting 483.041 miles per hour. The previous record had been held by Fritz Wendel flying a German aircraft in 1939. Darryl went on to win six national air races with that plane before donating it to the Smithsonian.

Eight years later, with a modified F-104 Starfighter Darryl set a new record with a speed of 988.26 mph. This record still stands – something Darryl is very unhappy about, but you’ll have to read my story for that.

So, back to Darryl’s question. I said to him, “Ak me.”

He paused nervously. Now I’m getting a little worried. I’m starting to think I agreed to answer his question too soon.

And then he looks down at the table and smiles sheepishly. You can see it on his face. He doesn’t know if he should ask or not. He’s a little embarrassed, but he asks anyway.

“Are you a Democrat or a Republican?”

Looks like the interviewee is sizing up the interviewer..

I laugh. Oh, is that all ? I didn’t say that; I thought it.

I’m actually not registered in either political party, although depending on the decade I’ve been a Democrat and a Republican. I tell him I’m an independent, which is sort of a fancy way of saying I don’t vote in primaries.

I don’t think my answer is very satisfying.

He tells me, “I think The Desert Sun is a liberal rag.”

I’ve heard this before. I laugh again. We get called a conservative sheet, too.  As a newspaper, the criticism usually means we cover too many of the things they don’t like and not enough of the other. It’s funny. Whether you agree or disagree with the prolife stance or marriage equality for gays, the story can offer important information. And that’s vital for an informed, and hopefully voting, citizenry.

 

Layla is conflicted, she pees like a male dog

Layla

My dog is confused. She thinks she’s a he. I call her my little tranny dog.

Meet Layla. She’s a rescue. We got her three years ago after I did a story on the growing number of abandoned dogs popping up at no-kill shelters, yet another causality of the foreclosure wave that swept through California and the Coachella Valley.

The Pet Rescue Center in Coachella seemed like a worthwhile organization. That and I thought a lot of the founding owner, Christine Madruga, who refrained from chapping my ass over misspelling “dachshund” in my story. I know. I’m a dumb ass.

So, Layla is a designer dog. That’s P.C. for what we called back in the day, a mutt. She’s a Chiweenie, a cross between a Chihuahua and a wiener dog.  And Layla’s so ugly – with her long hotdog body and big Chihuahua ears – that she’s actually kinda cute. We love her.

Anyway, I actually thought the vet was joking. Layla? A Louis Vuitton accessory? But then I took her for a walk in downtown Palm Springs where the people are crazy about dogs.

“Oh,” a stranger exclaimed. “She’s a designer dog!”

I admit. I ate it up. “Why, yes she is,” I said.

Cross breeding is not new. The term “designer dog” has been traced back to the late 20th century when breeders began crossing purebreds for a new dog with the best traits of both. It has since grown into a full-blown fad tragically complete with puppy mills.

The Layla dog is much more popular in the east valley where I suspect (because of the Latino community) there is much more love for Chihuahuas. But the Chiweenie isn’t the most common mix-breed. That distinction goes to the poodle and all its wacky combinations. Other hybrids include the Labradoodle (Labrador & Poodle), Puggle (Pug & Beagle), Goldendoodle (Golden Retriever & Poodle) and Layla’s distant cousin, the Chorkie (Chihuahua & Yorkie).

This of course doesn’t have anything to do with Layla’s peeing habits. At least I don’t think it does.

I try not to blame myself.

Layla didn’t always hike up her leg. But somewhere between learning to squat on a doggie pee pad and the long walks around my palm tree littered neighborhood, Layla became conflicted. We try to be accepting. We never ridicule or let her overhear us saying we wished she was normal, like all the other dogs.

I guess it’s working. The skin and bones Chihuahua that didn’t bark three years ago, yaps all the time now and thinks the bacon on the stove is for her.

This is all new to me. I haven’t found a dog whisperer or author

I never considered having a dog. Largely it’s because I have this bizarre hair thing I can’t fully explain. I hate it floating along a tile floor or in the bathroom sink. It just makes me want to retch. But life happens and you get married and out voted and someone brings home a dog.

So, here I am with the rescue turned tranny that sprays like a male dog.

I’m still not really a dog person, but I’m learning to be.

Manny the snarky commenter

It took fewer than 12 hours to get my first snarky blog comment. I was so excited because you’re not legit until you have a critic. I guess I’m the real thing now.

Incase you hadn’t noticed, I like profanity. My colorful language is forever getting me in trouble at home. But here I get to be uncensored.

Anywho, my first critical commenter – misspelling “don’t” I might add – said I should use better grammar.

“I dont know you and you dont know me as well. (True.) The economy is not good because of the political climate that the government got us into.” (Yes and no. Laxed regulation and the greed that fed the boutique home loans and the housing bubble got us into this economic shithole. But anyway..)

And then, he calls me unprofessional. Now that’s just rude. Besides that, he should hear the potty mouths in the newsroom. I’m pretty tame in comparison. I told him as much. But I also thanked him for checking out the blog in an email saying, “I hope the colorful adjectives don’t keep you from reading.”

I thought that would be it. With all my years in the newsroom, I should have known better. Manny writes back.

“I have been around that kind of language and I dont much care for it It tells me alot about you and what kind of person you are. I would not recommend you to anyone in my business. Have a good life Bye.”

And that’s it, right? Nope. A couple of hours later he sends me a forward. You know the kind, one of those chain emails.

OK, bud. First of all, if you’re going to criticize my grammar, make damn sure to correct your own misspellings. And if you’re going to write me off, don’t keep emailing. But please do keep fucking reading.

D league softball & the suspension on steroids

Looks like rain on Sunday.

Shit. This isn’t a weather report. I play second base in the Palm Springs Gay Softball League. Yeah, I’m just living the cliché. Sunday I come off suspension. After sitting the bench for five games I may get rained out my first day back. How ironic.

The suspension sucks, of course, but you don’t know the half of it. So, let me fill you in.

I play in the D league. Players are rated because at my age it’s easy to get hurt. D players play in what is basically a beer league. I like it here just fine with my Corona, thank you very much. I’ll admit it, I’ve gotten a little thick around the middle. But at least I don’t get winded walking up a flight a stairs.

Getting back to the league, we have a “slide-or-give-way rule” to protect the fielder. If the ball makes it to the bag first, the runner has to slide or get out of the way to avoid a crash. And conversely, to protect the runner, fielders cannot block the bag if the ball isn’t being thrown to the base.

So this guy on steroids charges into me in a pickle (he was trapped between bases and running back to second.) Fucker. I’m sure he was hoping I’d drop the ball because I’m a girl. Fat chance. I didn’t. But OK. Whatever.

Next inning, this same asshole was running from first to second on an infield hit. The shortstop gets the play and makes an easy toss to me for the third out and I swing around to head back to our dugout behind first and this dick is still charging at me. I brace myself and after he rams into me I give him a little shove, in essence to say, “Hey jerk.” And that’s when he grabs me by the shirt and yells something like, “Hey, bitch. I don’t care if you are a girl. You do that again and I’m gonna hit you next time.”

I was stunned. But I shouldn’t have been. Steroids do make you moody.

Anyway, I grabbed my bat (not to hit him) and stepped up to the plate. I was first at bat. And then I watched a brawl nearly unfold. You see, there had been a little bad blood between the teams, but that’s for another day and another blog. The yelling and cursing hit epic proportions. I saw several members of my team holding back one of our hot-headed players, and my coach, Super Dave, had to step between their coach, who in a fit, was trying to storm our dugout.

The ump called the game.

Here’s the really fantastic part: Mr. Steroid got a three-game suspension to my five. Neither of us got a hearing. Don’t even get me started on that.

But let me say this:

Sure, in the gay league there are guys that throw like girls and girls that throw like guys, which is a really sexist comment that also gets my point across. Here’s the thing. Our Sunday games in the D league prove the social stigma that professional athletes can’t come out because being gay means you’re soft or a sissy or you’re not emotionally tough to play competitively is just bullshit.

I almost got my ass kicked in the gay league.

Losing my iPhone & how to find it..

I’m an idiot.

So, I got an iPhone for work. I’m not a techno junkie. I’m never the first one to get the next new thing because, quite frankly, technology scares me. That said, it only took five days to fall in love. It’s not the apps. Although with gas prices close to hitting $5 a gallon in southern California, I’m really working over the Gas Buddy. Shazam keeps me from playing an embarrassing round of “Name That Tune” off key. And don’t even get me started on the ringtones, which I’ve scoured, downloaded and now can’t figure out how to attach to a contact. (My favorite is the cursing babies.)

No, what really hooked me (because I’m a closet list maker) is the way my phone synchs with my office calendar and contacts. I’ve always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal who jots down and loses important numbers on sticky notes. Now, as long as I keep my phone charged, I don’t have to be that girl. But, I’m still a lay-things-down and forget-where-I-put-it kind of gal.

OK, so I’m at the Dollar Store picking up things I really don’t need because it’s a bargain when it suddenly dawns on me that my hands are strangely empty.

Oh shit. Where’s my phone? And I do say that – out loud.

I’m also a freaker. And not just because the phone is $649 to replace. Freaking is just what I do. I check my bag, then my front pockets. I walk outside to see if I left it in my Jeep, a 10-year-old yellow Wrangler with no top and no locking doors.

Goddamn it.

And then I remember I have my cell phone, the one that took a skip across my Jeep’s dash board and onto the highway last year. I call myself. Both phones are old school. They have a distinctive ring in that they actually ring. They don’t play Top 40 or rap. And because I haven’t figure out the ringtones yet, that cute baby voice isn’t yelling, “Shut the fuck up you asshole!” with each call. (I don’t know why that makes me laugh..)

A phone like mine rings three times and then quickly goes silent just as I hear it. Fuckers. I just know someone snatched it! I call back as I walk into the store. It’s ringing in there, too. It sounds really close to me, but not too close. I scan the store, then check my bag and pockets again because I’m a nerd and that’s what nerds do. I retrace my steps through the store and call myself one more time. It rings again, just to fuck with me.

My head is just about to explode. Then, in a moment of sudden clarity I remember, I stuck the damn thing in my back pocket.

Stupid is as stupid does

OK. How’s this for stupid?

So this guy – I’ll call him Christopher Monti because that’s his name – goes into the Wil Stiles Clothing store on Sunday and walks out (allegedly) with a bicycle. A store employee, God bless ‘em, comes up to the guy and says something like, “Hey, you can’t test ride that bike.” And Monti goes off and cold cocks the employee, according to aPalm Springspolice report.  

Here’s the really fantastic part.

Monti zooms off on the display bike, doing what? Maybe 10 or 15 miles an hour. He didn’t get far – about six city blocks. That’s when the coppers stopped him and slapped the cuffs on. Now Monti’s sitting in jail on $25,000 bail.

The police are calling the 39-year-old a transient, cop speak for “he’s homeless.”

You got to wonder, though, what was this guy thinking? Dope or no dope, Lance Armstrong can’t outride a black-and-white and this guy isn’t going to either. But I have god kids that can pedal a tricycle faster.

Unless..

I noticed Tuesday that the shop had strung a locked chain around the silver beach cruiser on the kick stand out front. Maybe six blocks is all anyone can do on a chained bike.

What’s in a name?

Blogging is exhausting.

I only have two posts. Three if you count the cut-and-paste job that is auto-emailed to everyone who signs up for a new blog. Maybe it’s a little early to start complaining. Still, I don’t know how bloggers do it everyday, and hold down a real job. By that I mean one that pays.

Anywho, I was poking around on my blog, such as it is, and I noticed that I haven’t even filled in my “about” section.  What a dumb ass! I said as much in a snarky online comment to myself.

I think I’m developing blog envy. From an inflated sense of I-can-itis to its sister procrastination, I’m showing many of the symptoms. Just getting started was such a headache. Picking a name was nearly paralyzing.

It’s like naming a baby, and the results can be equally disastrous. Take my half-brother. He was almost called Aaron Scott. But with “Scnear” as a last name, his initials would have been A.S.S. My mother named him Michael.

So anyway, you wonder if the blog will live up to its moniker. Is the name too high brow or too low? Too common or funky or impossible to pronounce?

Take the blog Dooce. I haven’t a clue how to pronounce it. Does it sound like douche or deuce or Lucy with a “D”? Now that the power blogger Dooce, Heather Armstrong, is going through a very public divorce online I probably sound like a real jerk. The point is, and yes I do have one, if you can’t pronounce the blog, how can you tell others about it?

Then there’s the mock factor.

Newspaper journalists know what I’m talking about. Readers in every community have a name, an alter-ego if you will, for the hometown paper. Some have more than one. I was dropping off the U-haul in a move to San Angelo 10 years ago when I learned what locals call the Standard Times: the Sub Standard. The Palm Springs paper is not-so-affectionately called The Desperate Sun or The Desperate Scum.

I feel a little like a copy editor. They have dirty minds. At least the good ones do. They have to, to catch all the horrifically embarrassing stuff. Take these headlines: “Pubic Park planned for Creekwood” (Thank God!, italics mine) or “Prostitutes appeal to Pope.” Somebody fell asleep at the monitor. 

You see the dilemma..

I wanted to name the blog, “Paper Cuts.” But it was already taken. Bastards. Then I thought I’d call it, “Rant” after the collection of essays I’m writing about my life in journalism. Taken. I settled on Random Paper Cuts. It was easy, and available. Story of my life.  

I can’t wait to see what the blogosphere calls it.

Cockroaches, reporters & me

I guess I should introduce myself.

Hi. I’m Nicole Brambila. I’m a journalist. As in the currently employed kind. Plenty of us aren’t – nearly 39,000 since 2008, according to the Paper Cuts blog. Those of us left working are kind of like the cockroaches expected to survive a nuclear attack. I’m rather fond of the way New York Times columnist David Carr has put it: “You are tenacious motherfuckers. You have proven you cannot be killed.”

Most days I don’t feel very tenacious. But how often do you get called a tenacious motherfucker? A plain motherfucker, yes. But a tenacious one? Not so much.

I got in the business more than a decade ago on a fluke, but I’ve stayed because of the stories.

There’s a pecking order and politics in most every office. And that means I’m not always working on the sexiest stuff. But the really cool thing is nobody knows that outside the newsroom. Saying I’m a journalist – in most circles, not all of course – is like saying I’m in a rock band. Everyone’s heard a good song, few have ever met a musician. At cocktail parties I feel like a rock star dropping names and stories. Everyone wants the inside dirt behind this headline or that.

So, if you’ve never met a real live journalist before, here I am. Welcome to my blog. Here’s what I’m thinking..