Wednesday, December 31, 2003

last night and first day

the year i lived in new york city i spent new year's eve at home doing laundry and drinking some god awful drink called "strawberry cheesecake" purchased illegally by myself and my fellow 18 year old roommate laurie. we had some friends of hers crashing on our tiny floorspace in our crammed lower-east-side-of-upper-midtown studio apartment, and they were off to join the revelers in times square to ring in 1995. but we had to catch flights in the morning, and piles of dirty clothes, and absolutely no urge to be hustled, pushed, suffocated in the crowds. we kept it quiet, mellow and on the down-low.

things haven't changed much with me since. most of my new year's eves have been spent at home with a minimum number of companions. never a romantic getaway, never a swank when harry met sally-esque soiree, never a wild and crazy party to attend. i spent one year camping in joshua tree with my parents. i drank my first champagne at age ten at a friend's family's party. i've shared a new years smoke on the roof of a theatre with my beloved ashley. i barely saw the arrival of the year 2000 because my nana and my folks and i had drunk a toast to the new year in each time zone, starting early in the afternoon. and like all my last night of the year experiences, with the exception of alcohol fueled hoots of glee, we kept it quiet, mellow and on the down-low.

i plan to usher in the year 2004 alone with a bottle of cheap champagne, the complete fifth season of sex and the city on dvd, and the task of painting my bathroom. i will probably wonder what it's like to be out and about spending money, rubbing elbows and kissing someone as the bells sound out the midnight hour, but i will probably secretly be thankful that i am safely ensconced in my cozy apartment. i will probably think a lot about the chain of unhappy, dramatic and challenging events that marked my calendar for 2003, and i will probably be full of wishes, hopes and, dare i say, resolutions for 2004. i will probably cry. i will probably have phone calls with family and friends, and i will probably go to bed with the start of a champagne hangover.

miracles don't happen overnight. i can't change my whole life just because dick clark gives the signal for a giant ball to fall in the heart of manhattan, or because hillary duff rocks the final countdown on mtv. but i can finally turn the page from my "annus horriblus" and start a new year with a relatively clean slate.

...and i'll have a freshly painted bathroom.

happy new year! may this year bring everyone love, health, happiness and bring us closer to our goals and dreams.

postscript: celebrity validation by proxy

i don't feel so bad about my plans to stay in this evening. looks like hollywood pixie kirsten dunst and cute-as-a-button sweetie jake gyllenhaal have plans to do nearly the same. the lovebirds are having a cozy homemade dinner for two tonight. how do i know this? well, it just so happens i was shopping at whole foods market at the same time they were. they brought their cookbook as their shopping list, uncovered the mystery of the shallot, and squeezed in some produce section smooching. took me a few subtle glances over the broccoli crowns to figure out who the makeup free and in a hat dunst was, but if i had any doubts her telltale voice made it official in my celeb-spotting book. and now, suddenly, low-key and quiet seems positively glamorous!


Tuesday, December 30, 2003

"i'm not a doctor, but i play one on tv"

when i was a kid my dad would constantly assert that i would be a doctor. "berkeley med school class of 2000" he would say and i would either roll my eyes or squeal "da-aaad! no!" in disagreement. i knew from the get-go that i was not cut from the cloth of a lab coat, no way, no how. one telltale childhood incident of my medical ineptitude was the afternoon i slammed my chin on the top of a chair back and was horrified by the sight of blood. we all knew i'd never be a doctor.

i always figured that the best solution to career indecision was to become an actor. that way you don't have to go to law school, but you can play the role of a lawyer in some gripping courtroom thriller. forget med school, just land a role on a hot tv medical drama. sounds much better to me!

if you've been wondering where i've been lately, i have been spending all my spare time this holiday season watching er: season one on dvd. (actually, it's not "spare" time when you actually reserve chunks of time just so you can get another couple of episodes under your belt. and i will always have time for george clooney--hello!) watching the show marathon-style, though, has only served to reinforce my theory: i'd make a shoddy doctor, but i'd love to play one on tv.

so while being a doctor was never my true calling, being a writer is. the new year is on the horizon, and this happens to be for me and many others a highly introspective and retrospective time; this was the year that i decided what i wanted to do with my life, and next year is the year that i start to topple down goals on my path to fulfillment. i'm already well on my way.

now it's time to scrub in, um, ah, i mean, scrub up and start my day. really, i'm ready to scrub up and start 2004. i have a feeling it's going to be a good one!


Sunday, December 28, 2003

hey shorty, it's yo' birthday, we're gonna party like it's yo' birthday...

happy birthday to me!


Wednesday, December 24, 2003

start spreadin' the news...

attention all you new york city and surrounding area folks:

the sassy little punkin arrives in new york city at 6:00 a.m. on thursday january 15th, and leaves the morning of tuesday january 20th!!!!

so, who's up to hang out?

this just might be the best christmas and birthday ever... and the best new year!


Monday, December 22, 2003

shaken and stirred

it didn't help that last night i tuned into the most horrific part of the movie titantic when chaos ruled the sloping planks of the doomed luxury liner. i sat, beer in hand and feet soaking in a tub of hot soapy water, mouth agape, watching those poor extras tumble to their deaths as the ship's end rose and then fell. then i remembered that this didn't spring from the inventive mind of some hollywood raconteur, but that this really happened. and it scares the hell out of me. channel surf and discover the 'terror alert' is up a notch; no comfort there.

i had nightmares last night, nothing like i've ever had before. they were action-adventure chase sequences; i was following someone who was helping me evade someone else, someone menacing and deadly. i don't know why we were fleeing, but it was treacherous and heart pounding and featured cameos from several cast members of er in brief but memorable roles. i woke up in a heart fluttering panic, wondering what my subconscious was trying to tell me.

as i sat typing an email this morning, coffee-with-a-splash-of-egg-nog in hand, the room began to sway. dear god, i thought, am i coming down with something, am i going to throw up? but the vertical blinds were swishing, it was external, and it went on and on, like a slow motion special effect, back and forth, leaving me feeling sea sick and edgy. i looked outside my front door, and the water in our apartment building's swimming pool was sloshing rebelliously on the concrete deck. everyone's blinds were shifting back and forth in their windows. i summoned up my trusty online earthquake reporting service... sure enough, i'd felt the earth move under my feet; it was 6.5 and on the central coast.

this world is a funny place. we spend our days thinking about small things and assigning them great importance--finding the right handbag to match those shoes, or what to buy a co-worker for christmas. and it's all just so small. we're just so small, little specs on this big planet. we build skyscrapers that serve to laugh in mother nature's face; one wiggle of her fault-line hips and things tumble down. or gather together small people who can implement great evil, and the technologies of our own invention can devastate our people and our landscape. human error meets an iceberg, and we have the titanic.

i've had a year full of things that are great big worries, but, when i look at the big picture, i am grateful that my troubles are so small. as i work to still my rapidly beating heart i pet the soft silky fur of my beloved cat, i make plans to see my friends, to spend christmas with the small family i have nearby. and i think, while we can't prevent earthquakes or ships sinking or terrorists, we can make our small lives about great love, and great kindness. it's the least we can do.

happy holidays to all my readers! no matter what you celebrate, may this season bring to you what you wish for, and all the best for the new year!


Thursday, December 18, 2003

the lucky strike-out

at the end of the night he held her in his arms and she cried on his shoulder. they were leaning against his car at two in the morning, cold, on the street where she lived.

"i'm sorry," he said, a dozen times over.

"don't be," she said sincerely. "it's just that it's been a really hard year," she tried to explain, but stopped short. the cold and the liquor and the tears were making it hard to think, to see, to feel straight.

he had explained the rules of his game before the night had even begun. but she didn't play by anyone's rules, and so she moved with an exaggerated shimmy dancing to the tunes in the dive bar, she broke out the innuendo, and by her fourth drink in the shiny new hipster bowling alley she was both frankly drunk and frankly frank.

she had started to cry when she found her friend in the restroom--the pretty friend that everyone liked. her friend held her in her arms and she cried on her shoulder. they'd walked back to the crowd arms about each other, smiling and laughing, and like in any good episode the music was cresting and the credits, by rights, should have been rolling.

but the night wore on, and she checked the score and she was coming in dead last.

he said goodnight to her on the street, but instead of a brief farewell she put her head on his shoulder and started to cry. "it's been a really bad year," she said again, and she thought about the disappointments, the losses, the heart breaks she'd endured. "i'm so sorry, i'm such a jerk," he said, but it wasn't even him. he'd never broken her heart because she'd never given it to him.

their relationship had been about tension, never love. it was the tension between their fingertips and in the getting-to-you-know chemistry of their first date, years ago. it was the tension of his giving his virginity to her and the anxiety that accompanied the act. it was the tension of their ceaseless sparring, of her uncanny ability to make him cry. and now it was the tension of the failed evening as she cried in his arms and he offered apologies.

it wasn't until she got home that she realized her strike-out had been a gift. it was the gift of their conversation, of hearing that she was silly to think she wasn't pretty, or interesting or attractive, of hearing that, though he could not play her game tonight, she was still special to him. and she took his apologies as representative of all the boys she'd loved before and since him, because none of them ever speak to her, none of them could ever offer an apology for the world of actual hurt they'd left her with in their partings. and this boy--this boy had never been one of them, but he spoke for them now when he said "i'm sorry". so she thanked him, and they pledged friendship, and they said goodnight.

this time the episode was really over, and she made her way slowly down the middle of the dark street, her extra long green scarf trailing on the cold street, with a smile replacing the tears.

she was home. and the game was over.


Wednesday, December 17, 2003

never, ever, lose affection

i wish i could say that just recently i've been thinking a lot about former loves, but, to be perfectly honest, i think about them all the time. not in that "gee if only so-and-so and i could have one more magical chance", but just in that scrapbook kind of way where moments and highlights flash like a slide show in my mind. a couple of weeks ago here i waxed romantic about a more recent ex-flame, which prompted laurie to ask if i was doing okay, if there was maybe something going on with me that should warrant the friend intervention. i assured her there was--is--nothing; every now and then, however, i get that buzz of nostalgia that urges me to write about someone, something, in my past that still digs at me a little, right here (points to heart).

this afternoon, as i was driving down a regularly frequented neighborhood thoroughfare, i came face to face--or car to car--with the unavoidable: driving in the opposing direction was the aforementioned recent ex-flame. naturally, if he did actually spot me as i spotted him, i was caught in the always-attractive pose of finger in mouth, as i probed a problem tooth. naturally, we just passed with no acknowledgement, as two people who avoid each other are wont to do. moments after we passed the classic rock radio station i'd landed on began to play the beatles' "in my life", and off i went on a carrie bradshaw-esque train of thought.

(in voice over) so, i wonder, do we ever actually get over our past loves?

earlier today i'd been standing in line at starbucks behind an ashton kutcher lookalike, and i was reminded of a time when i'd be standing behind a former love, and i could easily just reach around his lanky frame, drawing myself in to him, feel his hipbones, rest my cheek on the smooth cotton of his shirt. he would, in turn, reach for me, and with a squeeze of a hand or a gentle nudge signal that he was simpatico. and even earlier, as i sat in bed watching reruns of er, i was reminded of the hygiene-meets-intimacy activity of co-educational showering, and as the tv characters' lips met i swear i could feel the memory of a hot water spray kiss. will i ever forget these moments shared with someone i don't talk to anymore? can i ever shake the shiver that passes over my body when on the rare occasion i see an ex drive by and recall just how remarkably delicious many of our encounters used to be? my rational mind knows full well that emotionally and mentally he and i are like two mismatched socks that cannot conceivably make a functional pair; but does it mean something that months after we had our last volatile and definitive exchange there's that part of me that craves his physicality, our perfect-fit chemistry that is steamy even in mere thought?

so here i am, miss single and--dare i assert--ready for a new love, wondering if maybe in the trunk of my car i carry a little baggage from my past. not enormous suitcases of scorn and damage, mind you, but small, compact carry-on sized bags full of lack of closure, or perhaps one of those unfashionable fanny packs full of hurt. maybe we're doomed to lug these around in our emotional shopping carts for the long haul. or maybe when we meet "the one" we can finally donate those bags to the goodwill. i'm not sure if i ever can completely be "over" the men i've loved; they've left their fingerprints on me, heart, mind and body, and no steamy shower scene could ever wipe me clean. so i know i'll never lose affection, and i know i often stop and think of them... and in my life, per the beatles, i hope i find "you" i can love you more.


Monday, December 15, 2003


something is shifting, changing, moving. it's as though what once was down is now up, or what was wrong is now becoming right. it's a perceptible shift that's taking place in me, revolutionizing my spirit.

i heard it in my laughter one night this weekend while i stood shoulder to shoulder at a holiday gathering with friends i hadn't seen in ages. it was in the unsolicited praise from a professor of mine who had stopped me on campus to let me know how impressed with my work he was. it was in the roar of the engine of my volkswagen jetta as i drove it off the repo lot, and in my giggle as i realized the title would be in my hands in a matter of days. it comes with the sunrise, as each day brings something new and hopeful to my attention; it's things i've never known before that offer me the most comforting sense of validation. it's been in holiday and early birthday cards in my mailbox. it's in my smile, the rain, the grocery store, the songs i sing along to. it's positively ubiquitous.

i'm slowly waking up from the deep nightmarish sleep of despair. i'm in this strange moment of looking forward to a future that doesn't serve as an escape to a present of troubles, but as that time of hope and opportunity and excitement that i was certain i'd lost sight of. there are things i've accomplished, and bonds i've rediscovered, and plans i'm making.

and while nothing is perfect, everything is fine. i can manage. i can relax. i can handle it. i made it. i'm here.


Thursday, December 11, 2003

sweet liberty

at around 3:15 p.m. pacific time today i will be officially done with the fall quarter! please, no parades, i'm far too tired. though i'm extremely happy to have unburdened myself of about a dozen novels and two anthologies of early american fiction (and the seven essays i was required to write in class on tuesday), i am a little misty eyed today over the fact that this afternoon marks the conclusion of my undergraduate relationship with the hunky professor of medieval lit. i wish that i were stealth or brazen enough to slip a paragraph about my undying devotion to and lust for him at the end of my exam, but considering the fact that i will most likely be doing my graduate studies there, it's probably not a good idea. well, let's face it, it's probably just not a good idea, period. it's a damn shame, because s.l.p. has of late felt the call to summon up her inner goddess once again and shake her tailfeather on the dance floor of life and perhaps lure a new fellow--or two, or three--into her snare. no one in particular, mind you. the other day lovely housemate angel bunny innocently asked if i currently was crushing on anyone--"other than the hunky professor," she added--and i had to sigh, hang my head and shake a doleful "no...." i did a little math in the shower this morning, and though i only had to use one hand for counting, the numbers still indicate that it has been too long. too long, you know, since i last sat down and enjoyed a glass of milk and conversation about art with some upstanding fellow. right. well, just as soon as i take a little me time and enjoy some sleeping in and reading for pleasure, i will leave the menfolk of greater los angeles this warning: my eyes are wide open. and, baby, i'm free for the taking! (long distance applicants, submit requests here).


Tuesday, December 09, 2003

the luxury of time and less distractions: a very special holiday episode of tragic to some, gratifying to others

this week i play the role of sassy little punkin: dedicated college senior taking comprehensive exams in three literature courses. some of this character's enticing subplots include the mishaps of writing a ten page seminar paper on trauma and nation building in two works of early american literature, as well as the ever popular ongoing saga of retrieving my beloved '96 jetta from repossession--this time for keeps! bonus outtake scenes include: staying up really late with housemate l.q.t. watching annie and singing along and the one where i trip on a basket full of nail care products and hurdle myself onto the hard edge of a couch--hey,ooouuuch!

stay tuned... hopefully from this soap opera i call life i can cull some witty and/or profound material with which i may once again regale you. meanwhile...entertain yourselves with a trip to my archives. and, did i mention, i'm doing a little fundraiser?


Friday, December 05, 2003

a plea from the outbox of the sassy little punkin

many of you have expressed via comments or email your words of encouragement and support, and i thank each and every one of you for keeping me in your thoughts. i am grateful for the blessings that i have, such as a roof over my head, clothes on my back, food in my stomach, and, for the most part, my freedom. i am also grateful for the support and love of my family and friends--those whom i know in person, and those of you whom i have grown close to through this amazing medium.

i know people use their weblogs as a forum to solicit aid for their causes. some people want help taking care of sick pets, or funding a creative project, and so on. i can't begin to figure out the platform of my cause; i am simply going to post the email that i sent to my friends and family this morning in light of the upcoming holidays, and my birthday on the 28th, and ask that you please forgive my audacity in asking for help, but that maybe you will consider helping.

To: Everyone
Re: No Christmas or Birthday Presents for Me this year

Hi Everyone.
As some of you may or may not know, my car was repossessed a second time on Thanksgiving Day. I just received a notice from the loan company that let me know I have until Dec. 15th to pay off the entire amount or my car will be auctioned. If the car is auctioned I will still owe the balance (if the bid is not sufficient) and I will also not have a car!

Many of you know that this year has been a struggle for me, emotionally and financially. I have had crisis after crisis with finances, employment, and my well-being. I'm happy to report that I will be done with my BA in March, and am applying to return to Cal State L.A. to get my Masters in the Fall of 2004. I will spend my March-September Break--the first time in over 2 years that I will NOT be enrolled in school, yes, including summers--working and saving and regaining some sanity. It hasn't been easy, no one said it will get easier, and I can't do it without help.

I would like to ask that you do not purchase any material gifts for me this year. Please use the money you would have spent for a card, cd or shirt or book or whatever and send it to me so that I can purchase my car. Hopefully if everyone gets together on this I can give myself the gift of unburdening myself from the nightmare this car loan has caused me.

I have a paypal "make a donation" button on the bottom left of my website, or I can send you bank info or mailing info. I have until Dec. 15th to make the payment.

The best gift anyone could give me this year would be peace of mind. It comes at the price tag of about $5100 U.S.

Thanks, and with love and appreciation,
Sassy Little Punkin i said, forgive my audacity. i don't expect anything, but you've all reminded me that there is still such a thing as hope.


Tuesday, December 02, 2003


i imposed upon myself this exile; you may view it as a self-censorship, respite, break, or, worse, breakdown. i saw myself needing to cut myself off as a means of a metaphoric practice of preventative medicine; surely with my brimming rhetoric of crisis!-crisis!-crisis! i would cause, somehow, more harm than good. so i gave myself some space.

but the trouble with space is that it creates an unnerving silence. at first i thought i had wanted the silence, but then i became jarred by the very muteness i'd sought. it is very much like those heartbreaking gaps in communication: the purgatorial layover between call and response, or the anxiety of the unknown. it is in those canyons that my anger, hurt and frustration brews. so instead i took my anger out on a cold lump of sugar cookie dough; my inability to make what seemed to be in my control do as i asked of it showed itself to be a microcosm of my life of late. i have been residing at my limit, my absolute capacity, and still i'm met with more obligations, rejections, ambiguities, bureaucracies, and just plain hard knocks. nothing goes as intended. and i wonder: what has become of me in all this? i can't even summon my comforting cloak of hepburnian yankee resolve. i'm ready to just declare "i can't". that proverbial towel is in my grasp, ready to be thrown in at a moment's notice.

so, yes, where have i gone? i have lost my sparkle, my ambition, my playfulness. i feel a flush in my cheeks, but they have no color. i might get up every morning, but it is a long walk to the shower, a reluctant hand that drags the brush through my tangled curls. the physical and mental effort things require is staggering. and while i can attribute it in part to problems in my health that i am beginning to take medication for, i do not care for this sloth-like behavior. i cannot fathom dressing nicely and mingling in a social situation. i am dreading the impending holidays for all i cannot contribute in terms of both good tidings or gifts.

this has been without a doubt my own "annus horriblus"--my list of troubles, woes, and all things bad from this year drags on to easily and swiftly surpass any post-it-note-sized list of all things good. i am not accustomed to being a glass half-empty type person, but, to be frank, when i look back on the past few months i see my glass is bone dry, and i realize i can't remember what it even feels like to work up a thirst. a sip is never a cure.

in the silent spaces that i fought to create i compiled a rotating set of blameworthy causes for my difficulties. but, then, so what? so i can cite losing two jobs without just cause, or the sheer nightmare of being woken up at 4 a.m. thanksgiving day by the return visit of the repo man; the list, i assure you, goes on--but to what purpose, and, more pointedly, to what end?

and now arise the greater questions, those ponderables from the pages of the book of life--what am i doing with my life? in reply i can say that i am here to write words that will touch people, to teach, to earn income enough to pay my bills and then some. to educate and be educated. am i on my way to doing this? yes! i made the decision over two years ago to give up my dead end job in order to go back to school and to regain footing on the right path. but, oh, at what a price! and, so, lastly, i ask myself: am i happy? and for the first time that i can recall, i must answer: no.

i am utterly miserable. i live a life that by no means resembles any life i'd imagined for myself. i miss the community, adventure and excitement of doing improv. i miss feeling attractive, vital, interesting and fun. and though i step up to bat to meet a continual stream of challenges, i live my life cautiously, hidden, without risk, and, ultimately, joyless. i do not have the quality of personal relationships that i once prided myself on. i preach and practice honesty, but to no avail; more often i am misheard, ignored, or, worse, what i write here under the safety net of my creative non-fiction is taken as gospel over the truth i say in life. and so to what i say here today i must add this caveat: you may think this about you, but, look again, it is very much about me and only me. i am living on an income that i believe is around the poverty line, and cannot for the life of me figure out how to move past that. somehow, in the past several months, i have lost all faith in possibility. i have compromised my goals, ambitions and plans time upon time. i have put my heart out on the line and had it broken repeatedly--not just in romances, but in other kinds of relationships, too. i've lost the ability to have hope or believe in the systems, the future, and, worst of all, myself.

i don't know where to go from here. i trudge on through this mire of mediocrity and dissatisfaction on a daily basis; it's evidenced in my work, my relationships, my school work, my spirit. i sign on all the dotted lines for which i can spend the ink. i fill the silence with the numbing stupidity of television. i scarcely dare look ahead farther than a day or two, for no sooner than i make a plan it is thwarted. is it my luck? finances? depression? astrology? karma? fate?

and if it isn't to end, then how do i manage to re-discover myself? my heart, my mind, my bank account can't afford any more exile. i want more than ever to return; i want to return to me.


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