I Hate The World - I Love The Internet

When your sister dies too soon, everything is harder all the time.

I'll just start with that to explain the first part of the title of my blog post.

I've been crying for a while now, tonight. Part of it is just release from a stressful, cold, busy week here in Belfast. The work is not hard. The weather is not that bad (and I was prepared for it). My schedule is not outrageous compared to some shoots I've been on. But all together + a touch of homesickness + time difference + grief = it's all exponentially harder. It's unexpected and surprising, this burst of tears and sobs. Maybe it's just my day off and I'm letting it all go, after working most of the day, to prepare, to gird my loins, for the week to come. Who knows. Maybe I just needed a great sobbing cry and it would have happened no matter where I was, no matter what was going on.

Here's a funny thing. I wouldn't have shared this much detail directly with Jen and yet I would have shared some of this with her and she would have been supportive and said helpful things, even if they were sort of just platitudes. Hard to explain how sisters are. Every sister relationship is so different, even within one multi-marriage family. 

You know what is hardest about being on location without husband or friends nearby? You miss hugs. But somehow, within a week or so, you find one or two people on set, on the crew, who you can hug every day and it's not weird. It's like emergency rations of affection. The video playback woman, Grace, is one of my hug-buddies. So are Paul and Amie on stunts. Great people all. Thank the the gods for them. Gemma too, when she's here, but she's always on a different set, preparing when we are shooting. I'm grateful for my hug-buddies. I don't know how I'd make it without them. And it's not even that long of a shoot.

Then there is the internet. 

I started this job with some blog posts about our location scouts and had to take them down because they were a bit too much information for the wonderfully passionate group of fans surrounding this project. Because of that, I started to read a few of their blogs and am having a lot of fun with it. There is one blog that has almost daily updates and I love reading about what I may or may not have been doing during my work day. It's great. And from that blog, I have gotten many new twitter followers. I have made it clear they will be disappointed by my tweets and blog posts from now on (in regard to the project), but still they are there and they interact with me and you know what? It's awesome. Two of them have even sent me HILARIOUS safety graphics and I posted them this week. I feel like, even though I have a very small part on this project (and those of you who KNOW me know exactly how I feel about this small part), these new fans/followers have kind of become friends. Paul and his 3 year old daughter in particular have been so kind and funny and supportive. When I tweeted that I hated the world and everyone in it today, he sent a supportive and funny tweet back in response. When I said how much I appreciated his and his daughter's support and even more so because we'd never even met, he sent me a picture of his daughter giving me two thumbs up. It made me burst into happy sad tears again. What a crazy wonderful thing this "social media" is. 

Then there is Dor who is now on Twitter and who sends me emails with LOLcats in them. My other dear sister Dorian. Thank all the gods for her too.

And I'm listening to Green Day. Billie Joe and Tre and Dirnt are sort of helping. If only I had drumsticks right now, I would be in great shape. 

My clothes are laid out for heavy weather tomorrow. It's 8:30 and I have to be up at 5. I'll be going to bed soon. I'm exhausted. 

Internet Celebrity, LOLcats and Cheezburgers

A few weeks ago I joined Sarah at the WordPress Word Camp LA at LMU. I went more for the content than the tech stuff as I use mostly Typepad (though Metblogs is WordPress). The thing I was the most excited about was that Ben Huh was one of the speakers. 

Ben Huh of I Can Has Cheezburger fame. Ben Huh my internet rock star!


Word Camp had only a few hundred participants and each talk took place in a classroom on the LMU campus so it was quite intimate. Ben's talk did not disappoint! He had great things to say about simplicity and doing things on the cheap. Very very smart stuff. Some great quotes from his presentation: 

Human nature has a tendency to admire complexity but reward simplicity.


Complexity has an inverse effect on your business's ability to scale.

I was fully inspired to continue keeping it simple and fun on Safety Graphic Fun. 

He took questions and mine was the last one. I asked "Where did you get that awesome t-shirt?!" He was quite pleased that I asked and said you can find it on Threadless. (I might need to buy that for a few friends...) If you have no idea what the heck that shirt is all about, you clearly have a full time job and kids and a life. This shirt is a beautiful dovetailing of two internet memes. The first is one of my all time favorites: Keyboard Cat. And the second part of the shirt is original Three Wolves Shirt on Amazon with the famous review. Stroke of internet meme genius, that shirt!

After the talk, I met Eric, the original originator of I Can Has Cheezburger. He's from Hawaii originally so we talked about where we went to high school (Radford for him) and other Hawaii stuff. He lives in LA now, working on a new venture (didn't say what). I then shook Ben's hand and thanked him for his great talk and Sarah kindly took the above picture for me. I also gave them both my Safety Graphic Fun business cards so they could see how they have inspired me.

It was a great day with some other great talks and great ideas. Thanks to Sarah for asking me to go!

Life Online and Free Stuff -- Coke Edition

See Part 1 of this story here.

At Blogger Prom, I ended up having a fun conversation with a woman who does PR for a beverage company and they had brought Newcastle Brown Ale to the Prom. Newcastle is one of my favorite beers. We followed up after the prom in emails "nice to meet and chat" etc. She then asked if I wanted to try Newcastle's new summer ale sometime and I said yes, but before we could arrange a meet up, they had run out of the summer ale (it was a trial run). Oh well. But then she asked if she could send me some CocaCola products in the new aluminum cans to try out. Well sure! I'm a loyal Diet Coke fan, why not?

So this week in the mail I got these:


Sweet little 8.5 ounce bottles of Coke, Diet Coke and MY ABSOLUTE CURRENT FAVORITE Coke Zero. I've already drunk the Diet Coke and Coke Zero, I'll give the regular coke to Kurt or to his mom as regular coke is way too sweet for me.

How can you not love free stuff? 

Ah, but I hear some of you: it's not really free because you are shilling for Coke and for The Gap now. Well, I have no problem with saying I love something when I do. I've shopped at the Gap ever since I moved to LA 25 years ago (cuz there wasn't any such thing as "the Gap" on Maui). And my relationship to Coca Cola goes all the way back to Tab and Fresca. (Man I LOVE Fresca! Add some vodka and lime juice, and damn you have a fine cocktail.) 

All through high school I drank diet coke probably twice a day. Diet Coke for breakfast and a Diet Coke and a twix for a snack on the drive home. As Diet Coke became more mainstream, Tab was being edged out. But one of my friends at Seabury, we'll call her Tabitha as another friend called her back then, was not going to let Tab go. She never switched and to this day I believe she's still a die hard fan of Tab. 

When Coke Zero came out, I gave it a try and loved it. It's my zero calorie beverage of choice now, though I'm happy to have a DC if the CZ is not available. I haven't seen the aluminum bottles in stores yet (haven't really been looking) but I did notice new smaller plastic bottles of DC and CZ. Normally you can only get 16oz plastic bottles, but now there are (I think) 12 oz bottles.

In the summer of '06 when I was spending much of my days getting to know Paddy and living online while sitting in a F U N K Y movie location in Mexico City (oh and working too), we would have our Diet Coke breaks. You'd have to ask the catering guys to get a diet coke because they weren't just sitting around in coolers like they are on set in the US. It felt awkward to "order" a Diet Coke from them, but after a while you sorta got used to it. They would bring it in a nice glass with ice and lime. YUM. Paddy and I, to this day, wax nostalgic about CLETUS and their Diet Coke deliveries.

Oh dear, I have gone on and on, haven't I? Well, that's a blogger for you.

I am loving my online life and experience. I get excited to meet new people and try new things and I appreciate free stuff to try. Why not?

Online Life and Free Stuff -- Blogger Prom and Gap Edition

I've been blogging in various ways since October 2005. Not very long compared to some, longer than a lot of others. But only in the last six months to a year has my online life really started to be more than just me writing down what I'm feeling or doing. This comes with the whole "Social Media" boom of Facebook going uber mainstream (not just for college kids) and Twitter exploding all over the place.


Lots of people who are not online as much as I am might think it is a lonely place to be. One person in front of a monitor and keyboard, silently typing away into the virtual ether. Wrong and wrong. If you interact on Facebook and Twitter and comment often on people's blogs and websites, you start making friends fast. And with new friends come unexpected benefits. 

I started my book blog in 2005. I start this blog in the summer of 2006 while in Mexico City (oh that's why it's called what it is). In 2006 I also started living on line in earnest, reading blogs and websites with great regularity and commenting often. One of those sites was LA Metblogs and when they said they were looking for new writers in 2007, I applied and was asked to join up! Through Metblogs I've met an amazing array of brilliant funny people. I started the Classic Eats series last fall and have met even more fun people in real life as we eat our way across LA. One person I met was Caroline on Crack and because of her, I got invited to Blogger Prom earlier this summer. 

With Twitter going great guns, I met new friends there, online, many of whom were also going to Blogger Prom. So the night of the great event, I ended up meeting The Slack Mistresses, Be The Boy, Lisa of 1 Good Foot, and Kim Prince of House of Prince in real life! And OMG what a great time we all had. Plus Blogger Prom was a completely free event -- free food, free cocktails and tons of give aways, plus a huge goody bag full of great stuff. All FREE.

Not long after that glorious evening, I got an invite from Nina, aka The Slack Mistress, to come to a Gap Jeans Born To Fit party. I wasn't exactly sure what this was all about, but I was told I would get a free pair of jeans and who says no to a free pair of jeans or to Nina? Not me. Plus it would be chance to meet more online peeps. 

The party was at the Gap Pop Up Store on Robertson (it's open until Sept. 27, read more about it here.) and was completely private to our group. There was free valet parking, to start (nice!) and when you walked in a Gap representative greeted you with a coupon for your free jeans and other info about their pop up store. Then a guy offered me cocktails so I said yes to Sangria, thanks! And another gentleman offered lovely pu-pus. This was already great! While I was talking to Lisa (of 1 Good Foot), I saw a woman walk in and I recognized her instantly -- GINA! Holy cow. We'd been twitter friends and there she was. FUN.

Then it was time to browse the jeans. I think there were only about 15 women there to try on jeans and three or four Gap sales people to help you find your perfect fit. I worked with a nice young gentleman who knew his jeanery and suggested a few different styles to try. I went into the fitting room with a few pairs and settled on the Long and Lean style in a size 14. But the 14 was a touch big (yay) so the nice young gentleman suggested the 12s. I was unsure but gave it a go. I put the 12s on and they seemed a skosh small, but when I walked out, a couple of the ladies who were there said, "oh yes, they look great!" and I was still a bit unsure. The nice guy helping me also said he thought they looked perfect. I hemmed and hawed a little, asking are you sure? He said, and I quote: 



I changed back to my clothes and poked around, trying on a few shirts and sweaters then put a purple t-shirt on my to-go pile. Then we all socialized a bit more, having a few more drinks and snacks. When it was time to go, I paid for my shirt, got my bag of clothes and hugged and kissed my new friends good-bye and left. Total cost for the evening? $22. I got cocktails, dinner, new jeans, new shirt and free parking for $22. If I hadn't have bought the shirt, it would have been $2 total. NICE!

Nina got to host this awesome shindig because she was contacted by a Gap representative who found her through her blog. ONLINE.

Am I getting through to you yet about life online? How about this: Remember that Sarah was on the Oprah Winfrey show because a producer found her Mar Vista Mom blog and she and three neighbors got rooms redesigned by Nate Berkus for free. 

Good. I'm going to finish my little story about bloggy life and free stuff in the next post. Stay tuned!

Coast Starlight -- Twitter Replay Day 2

Coast starlight logo

Continuing our trip via Twitter up the West Coast on Amtrak's Coast Starlight.

Day Two, Sunday July 26, starting at about 5:30am.

Sun is coming thru a crack in the curtains, I can smell coffee brewing. Shasta is close. (click)

After Emeryville the Big Dipper hung just outside my window last night, sang me a lullaby. Truly was CoastStarlight.

Kurt's still asleep. Hard not to wake him so we can spoon and watch the trees go by. Bunkbeds! 

Nice view out the window, getting near Shasta. Breakfast time! (click)

My mother in law just said to Kurt and I, "I hope your offspring has your nose." pointing to me

Jaime the car attendent advised: "walk like a duck." It helps!

View at breakfast (click

The view after breakfast (click) NICE!

A breath of fresh air in Klamath Falls. (click)

Upper Klamath Lake. Gorgeous lake country in Oregon (click

beautiful day in the moutains! (click)

View at lunch. Willamette river I believe. Lovely. (click)

Arriving in Eugene in a minute, sucking up all the 3g I can get!

Hot and fresh air in Eugene. Nice break to be outside! (click) did I mention Hot?

Eugene is where my dear friend Jai died in a house fire with her two kids 5 years ago. Bittersweet memories of this town.

OMG we got MOONED outside of Eugene!!! That is fantastic! (click)

OH @ breakfast "I didn't become a language teacher because I'm good at languages." O RLY?

Hay! lol (click)

Quick stop in Salem. Hot cloudless pretty day. (click) Kurt is trying the shower downstairs.

Oregon City? Big industrial complex at the falls. (click) [Oops! can't find this picture...]

Aproaching Portland. Kurt celebrates with a hot dog. Only 5 more hours till Seattle. (click)

Big bridge into Portland. (click)

On that bridge into Portland. (click)

A HOT quick and not so fresh air stop @ Union Station Portland (click) nice station, classic!

Coast Starlight -- Twitter Replay Day 1

For those of you who don't follow me on Twitter (@Kulia), I live-tweeted our trip up on the Coast Starlight from Union Station (also called LAX) to Seattle. 

For those of you who don't know what Twitter is, it's like micro-blogging. You can only use up to 140 characters per post. You can upload photos to add to each tweet that links to where your images live. I took a photo for almost every tweet so please click the little link where indicated to see the visual. 

Here is Day One, Saturday July 25, starting at 9:00 am:

We've arrived at the station! (click for picture) 

LOTS of people in line for the Surfliner to San Diego. We don't have a track assignment for the Coast Starlight yet. Coffee.

Union Station (LAX) is lovely as ever. (click for picture)

My 91 year old mom in law just commented on how people use to dress up to travel. I'm in shorts. Hmmm

On board! (click for picture

We're off!! Adios LA!

First stop! The back side of Van Nuys is not as pretty as you want. (click for picture

Waiting for the coffee to be ready (click for picture)

Tunnels through Simi Valley, but lively rocks when we are out of the tunnel

*lovely* rocks

And now champagne!! (click)

Stop #3 Oxnard. Our lunch rez is in 1/2 hour. (click)

There's a place to eat in Oxnard near the train station called A Burger. Not THE burger. Just A.

Dining car! (click)

Santa barbara station - smoking stop (click)

Stopped south of SLO waiting for a freight train to pass. (click)

In the parlor car. (click)

Near pismo... (click)


Stop #5 San Luis Obispo (click)

At SLO we could step outside for a few minutes. Gorgeous day! (click)

Did I mention they have a movie theater on the train? Dude! (click)

Up and over the hill to Paso Robles. (click)

I also love seeing the original parts of cities and towns, the old Main or Front streets near the train stations.

Stop# 6 Paso Robles. Best picture I could get at this sweet small station. (click)

Also, watching Kurt tidy up a script-entertaining as he mouths words and gestures through the dialog.

Dining car just as we are arriving at Salinas (click)

Train is going through Watsonville which is right near where my sister lived. Suddenly feeling quite sad.

Didn't have my camera out but there was a multi screen drive in theater with lots of cars pulled up and getting ready to watch at San Jose

Post dinner diversion (click)

Sun going down as we pull into San Jose. (click)

Beds are made, teeth are brushed, just need jammies! (click)

That ended Day One of our trip. Next post -- Day Two!

The Internet Is A Super Cool Place

Within the last few weeks many fun things have happened to me or people I know, owing completely to the the series of tubes, the internest, the interspaces, the information superhighway, the interwebs, well, you get the idea, and it just made me so pleased that I spend time online and what a warm, friendly place it can be.

Someone I met recently described the internet as a cold place. She was complaining that her experiences online had not been very good and so she was skipping the internet and really just wanting to meet people in real life. Boy is she short sighted. Here are a few example of how the internet has personally been so fun and exciting for me and people I know. 

One of my German pen pals who I started writing to in 8th grade found me on Facebook and we have reconnected. We had written to each other for about 20 years, though mostly at christmas toward the latter part of that time. Somehow she moved or I moved or both and we lost touch. I thought of her often and sent letters to the old address but no luck. Then one day about two weeks ago, I get a nice note, asking if I were the Julia who came to visit her in Germany. It's been so nice to reconnect and find out about her family and her life. I met her twice, once in 1989 and again in 1992. I hope to get back to Germany within a few years and see her again. 

I started a series on LA Metblogs last fall called Classic Eats. Once a month I post a poll and the readers vote on where we will go next. #1 was Clifton's Cafeteria and the rotating bar at the top of the Bonaventure. CE #2 was Union Station and Phillipes, #3 was Tiki Ti and Taix and #4 was Pie 'N Burger. Each event has had at least 15 people, sometimes more. There are people I'd met before, like other Metblog writers, but also authors I'd never met. There are people who read and comment and it was nice to meet them in person. Then there are people who just come and want to be social. The first event we had a woman (who's name escapes me! Sorry!) who came on her own, she'd read about it and joined in. #4, last Saturday also had a newcomer, Diana, who had never commented, but often read and joined in. I just love that I've made new friends because they read the blog and wanted to join in the fun. 

Sarah, who writes many blogs, but is most famous for Mar Vista Mom, got a call last week from the Oprah Show. Yes, THAT Oprah. They are doing a show about re-decorating in these recessionary times and how to do it without spending anything or only very little, by swapping stuff out with your neighbors and sprucing up what you do have. They contacted her because they were looking for neighborhoods like hers where it would be a fun group activity on one block. They contacted her because she writes a blog about her neighborhood. At the moment (key phrase there, "at the moment") she some decent traffic, but she put herself out there and guess who came knocking at her door? Dude.

The internet rocks. Seriously, you should try it. Oh wait, here you are!  Enjoy.