Tuesday, March 30, 2004

the postcard

i had a dream i sent to you a glossy 5 x 7 city-skyline kind of view. but what to write, i worried, what could i possibly fit in two square inches that would let you know how much i think of you. i want to ask "oh, did you see...?" or "hey, have you heard...?" or "tell me about the day you were born." there's a million things i've never asked, a million answers i've only guessed at. and i realized i never told you the one about the personal-space lady, and what i would have said if she'd come back and you were still a part of my vocabulary. instead i bite my lip until a tear sits perched on the rim of my down-turned eye, and i think, secretly, i'm glad you never met my sneezing cat or had the chance to contemplate the posters on my wall. but everywhere i go i think of you, of irish coffees and my coat across your lap, of how right now, amidst my own local news i could use your wide-mouthed grin and capable hands to remind me i won't always have to lie awake alone. i remember the one night you'd said: "that's my girl!" and there i was, wriggling "milkshake" in my chair, leaning in a little closer to your orange sweater, and even then i'd had to make a promise to myself that if we were to end right then and there i'd walk away just grateful for what we'd had, for what i'd had, up until that breaking point. now you've disappeared among the rank-and-profiles and i breathe a sigh of what must be my relief, and wonder, though, if you've bothered to look for me. and if i had the nerve, or maybe just forgot my pride, i'd pick a glossy photo card from any of the creaky, spinning racks, and think "wish you were here" and how it's just as simple as shake-my-head-because-it's-a-shame, but all i'd write in that tiny, telling blank space would be: "i miss you."


Monday, March 29, 2004

mixed up

my day began sun-warmed and easy-going like a sunday driver’s dream. coffee with some cream and studio 360 on the radio to make my drive a little more informative and comforting; it’s my favorite commute of the week. it’s when i remember there’s a world outside my own; sometimes i get the passport and a take a little trip beyond the gates of what feels safe. and when i do i find myself among so many people who fascinate me and--

so i sat, sideways on a too-tall stool, and i listened to the singer sing the songs he wrote on his guitar. i thought about my lovers gone, and if they could strike a note, a chord, would i be the topic of their smoky café music. i wonder why my thoughts are spilling out in meter, my head’s gone haywire for the pattern of verse-chorus-verse.

well, his songs they actually made me cry; some theoried reflex delay to the shock of losing someone that i thought would be mine for a while. and i thought they all would have been mine for a while longer than they were, and there the theories snap and bite and maybe i’m too much to handle.

i was all mixed up; my words were stumbling drunker than the wine with dinner. i said “gay” for “k” and “name” for “mean”--the sounds the letters criss-crossed. someone’s girlfriend told me she thinks that poetry, well, it has to rhyme. she’d tugged me for one more drink and in the din we yelled our conversation and it made the quiet sadness seem a little more like foam and easily dispersed. she said it must take courage to do what i do. i think it takes a lot of fear.

and billy, he said straight a students think too much, i think he’s right, and it’s my curse. people seem to think the way i wrap a word around a thought, a time, a touch, a hurt is like some kind of gift. sunday’s words tumble in to monday’s, incomprehensible and shattering, now. but i’m the listener, though it’s of words no one ever wants to hear. rendered me speechless. mixed up and fumbling--i am my mother's little girl, but i don’t know what to--


Friday, March 26, 2004

"bread and butter"

the inside of the restaurant was a melange of din and dim. families, couples, groups of friends sat on cushioned wicker seats, selected entrees from cloth covered menus, sipped cocktails dressed in mint and fruity finery. we sat against a wall covered in a mix of tropical, nautical and nostalgic decor, we took our time ordering, we had before dinner drinks, shared an appetizer, ordered a bottle of champagne to go with our entrees. dessert was three forks digging in to key lime pie, despite the fullness of our contented stomachs. we raised our glasses to clink and toast repeatedly; the occasion was my finishing college. i couldn't resist repeating the groaner of a one-liner a friend of mine had recently offered when i exclaimed i couldn't believe i'd actually finished college: "the only thing i ever finish is dinner!" and finish we did, happily warm inside one of my favorite restaurants while the pacific ocean slapped the chilly sands of santa monica across the street. on the way back to the car we walked in the velvet-cool moonlight, laughing as we passed a piercing and tattoo shop blaring the final rousing strains of the "carmina burana," and, when i veered to the left to avoid colliding with a fire hydrant, my step-dad grabbed my hand and said: "bread and butter." "what does that mean?" i asked, laughing. he explained that it was an old superstition that if you go around opposite sides from the person you're walking with it breaks the connection; saying "bread and butter" was the antidote. for the rest of the walk we made sure neither he, nor i, nor my mother broke the connection. to remember that spending time with family is to realize just how much remains distinctly unfinished, though for me, both this initial installment of college--and dinner--were gladly finished, and in style!


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

bittersweet stink

i've spent the past two days in the company of people who once told me, in no uncertain terms, that i was no longer welcome in their world. but my ties to their world were like rubberbands, sending me bouncing back on a tidal wave of indignant know-how and a little of it's-who-you-know, and, like on the early autumn weekend that followed my own fall, i once again mingled in a crowd that i still call mine.

i wish that i could say that i carried myself with an unchallenging air of "i have the right to be here, too" plumped only by the smug sense of self-satisfaction that might arise from having, in a sense, triumphed. i felt a little of that feeling creeping in when someone (who, ironically, shares my first name, spelling and all) asked if i were that person whose name was on many of the pieces in the studio. and i laughed, and gave the affirmative, and realized that long before i'd been sent home with my final paycheck i'd left my mark on bits and pieces. and, during the past two days, i stopped and stood and stared a little wistfully at those very bits and pieces, and felt my very own ghost running the room from end to end, maybe she was letting a peal of errant laughter fly up towards the exposed beam ceiling, or maybe she was letting a typical workplace's aggravated sigh sink lowly towards the brightly painted floor. but she's there.

it was in those moments from these past couple of days, when, though i smiled at those who let me go (well, those who were brave enough to look me in the eye), and when i participated with enough respectful reservation, that that fleeting sense of "see how i've shown you!" turned bittersweet, and left me with a nagging taste of sad-meets-angry. sad because once upon a time this colorful space was my home-away-from-home, that these very people (who now either look past me as though i were invisible, or perhaps who dont' trust me, or don't know what to make of me) were once a sort of family to me. and angry, because, by all rights, they sent me away for the silliest, pettiest, most fixable, mendable and let's-talk-it-through-able reason. angry because i should still be there, not on the fringes but in the trenches, where i'd once given my heart and my all. angry because since that horrible day last july i've never really allowed myself to be angry, never let my thoughts of "but it doesn't have to be this way" overshadow the rational thought of "well, i should have known better."

i suppose one would think it would take an awful lot of nerve for someone who was once fired from the main office of a franchise to walk in, eight months later, to attend two days of meetings, on behalf of a franchisor. i know it isn't pure nerve, because my stomach has been in knots and i've been fighting down the teary-eyed waves of feeling sorry for myself. but in the immortal words of one of our workshop leaders today (he being one of my favorite reasons to keep coming back to these brutal shindigs): "shit happens." sometimes, though... it just really stinks.


Monday, March 22, 2004

from the "frisky" frolic room

juniper and i were perching on a set of red-vinyl cushioned stools, sipping weak mixed drinks, laughing about god-knows-what when i felt someone lean in to my right side. i jumped, alarmed, and realized it was the elderly man with the post-nasal drip who was sitting next to me. he appeared to be alternating between dozing and nursing beer-number-unknown, and while he was in the dozing phase he had the compulsion to weave and drift towards me.

when he realized he had drifted in to my (miming outline of box with fingertips) personal space, he mumbled an apology, and punctuated it with several pat-slash-squeezes with his meaty hands on my side and hip. he'd comitted the cardinal sin of apologizing for touching by touching some more. i scooted my stool a little closer to juniper.

"i don't like being touched like that," i said to juniper, sotto voce. "i only let someone touch me there if they're fucking me."

with deadpan delivery, juniper replied: "better not tell him that."

it was another round of drinks later when i noticed the elderly man had switched, wisely, from beer to coffee. it was juniper, however, who noticed something distinct about the fellow's attire.

"he's wearing a kilt," hissed juniper, pointing jabs past my lap to his. "look!"

i turned to look, and sure enough, my molesting bar-mate was in full regalia--from the waist down, that is. as i looked he began to dip and bob towards me again, this time reaching under the bar towards my left calf. he grabbed my calf and gave it a similar round of pat-slash-squeezes my side had been subjected to. i squealed, and inched even closer to juniper. we gulped down the last of our drinks, and rose to leave. as i began to stand, i felt the now-familliar hands clasping me again, this time across my back and shoulders.

i ran out of the frolic room, making some noise between a shriek and a scream.

in order to compensate for the unsolicited senior-citizened gropings, i decided to wash the night in a series of 7-and-7's, each consumed in a different neighborhood bar. i understand the natives call this sort of activity barhopping.

from the frolic room to the burgundy room to the beauty bar, we two noble cocktail seekers were one-drink-wonders through some of hollywood's most notorious watering holes. we sung along to tunes new and old, we waiting in ridiculous lines to pee, we talked about the weather with random strangers, we took "thelma and louise" style photos of ourselves, and, finally, we found ourselves needing a stop in an all-night cafe in order to get in some food that might soak up some of the booze.

every now and then, apparently, i do love the nightlife.


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

recent accomplishments and other incidents of survival and adventure

the past few days have gone by in a streak, mostly comprising of moments of mental overwhelm at the task of writing four monumental senior-level english exams and sheer exhaustion. i did manage, however, to insert odd moments of silliness and fun amid the frantic studying, reviewing and general agonizing. friday afternoon i joined bunny for lunch, whereupon we encountered former child star and current geek-slash-chic intellectual mayim bialik, whom i can really only properly refer to as "blossom" for obvious reasons. that same evening i joined forces with my charming new gal-pal to become "team english," a brave duo aiming to tackle the daunting chore of streamlining and memorizing all the works we'd encountered since midterm in our ethnic lit class, as well as try to stay off the more interesting topics two gals are wont to discuss in place of john milton's later works. the weekend was about sleeping, reading and working in various patterns of order. i also came to terms with being dumped via email by an otherwise fantastic fellow, and vowed to trudge on ahead in hopes of someday still meeting mister right. i've decided, too, that dannii minogue kicks her sister kylie's ass, and that, in an unrelated observation, i'm generally a rather happy and delightful person. i've seen some great films courtesy of the genius of netflix and my 400-plus viewing queue, and i've also begun to do the wonderous and often overlooked action known as "reading for pleasure." i'm beginning to get excited about my upcoming trip to new york city--april 5-10; new yorkers beware, be ready!--and can't wait to get back to my beloved big apple. under the header of accomplishments i suppose it's worth mentioning that three of my pieces have been selected to be published in my school's literary journal this spring (one short story and two pieces i culled from the wealth of material here on the blog), i've made the dean's list (which has me in the top 5% of the school of arts and letters, my goodness!), and with last night's final final exam, i have for all intents and purposes finished a bachelor's degree in english (which almost boggles my poor frazzled mind).

so there!


Friday, March 12, 2004

hiatus finalus examinus

one more paper to write and four exams to take, and then i'll be a college graduate! i'm going to take the next few days off in order to, like, you know, focus and stuff. meanwhile, (re)visit some of my better (earlier? worse? older? funnier?) days:

the one about first kisses
the one about a "sticky" first date
the one about david duchovny telling a story about me on david letterman
the one about getting fired for blogging
the one about going to the movies with salma hayek
the one about having some kind of existential crisis
the one about going to mammoth and finding myself
the one about my grandparents--it makes my nana get all misty
the one about doing it in a coffeehouse with a poet
the one about being happy in singlehood
the one about my first date with josh, aka "the evil one"
the one about teachers who sleep with students
the one about going bowling with your ex-boyfriend

...now, isn't that enough?!


Thursday, March 11, 2004

dear mister unspecific

an unnamed panic gripped my body on sunday, and i couldn't shake the shakes. the marathon traffic stalled at a snail's pace, the air heavy with the gloom of false summer. a lesson in the physics of mechanics taught me that explosions only happened in the movies, but i still sensed the rumblings, i trembled with the thought of flame meeting fuel, i joined the crowd of impatient onlookers, resentful for the wait. scraps of paper bore testament to my fragility, hinting at swimming with virginia and baking with sylvia; most words could not escape the swirl of my mind, though, and there they idled, wrestled with the rationale of public face. like a rocking horse jockey i'd sat astride muscled flanks to the tune of "learn to love yourself", pausing even to remark on its familiarity. ultimately, the lesson was a reminder, like chalking childhood lines as punishment in numbers seeming infinite. the final childish lines came in the modern epistle; they read as conversational, vague and unspecific. but i refused to address a reply, and instead typed lengthy essays at late hours, fulfilling obligations despite the hampering burden of unqualified withdrawal. i drive with a six-pack of guinness in my car once intended as a gift; i have a cd i want to return, too, if only to prove that the intangible costs were incalculable.


Tuesday, March 09, 2004

happy 1st blogiversary, sassy little punkin!

a whole year has passed since i first began to lay my soul bare on the invisible information superhighway! my beginnings were more than humble; i often shake my head in amazement at how my blogging has changed, and, in turn, how blogging has changed my life. but right now i need more than ever to not think about what's behind me, and, rather, think about what's ahead.

so, imagine me sticking a single candle in the waxy frosted top of a hostess cupcake, softly singing "happy blogiversary, dear punkin", blowing out the candle, and making my wishes for the year to come.

which, of course, i'll share with you:

punkin's little list of things she wants

  • a career in writing
  • a healthy, reciprocal, love relationship
  • a life of constant education
  • strength of friendships and family relationships
  • to travel
  • to remember that i deserve all these things

...it's been a heck of a year! thanks to everyone for having been a part of it. now let's move forward!


Monday, March 08, 2004

"sweetie, darling!"

i am madly, head-over-heels, passionately in love...

...with england.

i've felt this way for some time now, actually, though sometimes the feeling subsides, and sometimes it flares up and manifests itself in a slight british accent and a predilection for tea and biscuits. most often it's a split between a hankering for the england of old--so old that old by rights should be spelled "olde," and between the england, or london, rather, of my beloved television favorite, absolutely fabulous. talk about a powerful hankering; when it comes to ab fab i'm like an unscrupulous junkie at the gates of the methodrone clinic.

case in point: a few years ago i told all my friends and family that i was planning on moving to london. my plan was to get a job cleaning toilets at the bbc, in the hopes that i might meet jennifer saunders.

i gathered a stack of books on london, on moving to london, on the kings and queens of britain, on the colloquial language, on the history of the country. i sat up until the wee hours, incessantly pounding the keys of my electric typewriter, hoping some of the clackety-clack might yield comic genius in the vein of my idol. i realized it was damn hard to be funny. i realized it was damn hard to move to another country. i settled for a box set of the tv show and a cup of pg tips.

but every now and then the anglophile in me gets riled up. it happened when i saw gwyneth paltrow as sylvia plath ask a field of cows if they preferred milton or chaucer. (chaucer, obviously!) and with a delivery of middle english suitable to please my hunky former professor, she recites the opening lines to the baudy "wife of bath's prologue":

experience, though noon auctoritee
were in this world, is right ynogh for me
to speke of wo that is in mariage;
for, lordynges, sith i twelve yeer was of age,
thonked be god that is eterne on lyve,
housbondes at chirche dore i have had fyve--

and it is that england i crave, the relics and the ruins, the manuscripts hand-tinted and scribed by tireless monks. it is my eleanor of aquitane, the frigid liz the first, the naughty jokes hidden in shakespeare's heady language. i think of the buildings and monuments that have stood the test of time, that hold their doors open for prospective tourists like myself, who long to savor a chance encounter with history.

in extreme opposition, i think about the metropolitan bustle and cultural chaos of london. i imagine the pubs filled with reveling football fans (damn that manchester united, tied with chelsea in second spot behind that bloody team, arsenal!), the streets teeming with vendors and fish-and-chip shops, and double decker buses swooping past on the left hand side. and of course, "sweetie, darling!", i think of absolutely fabulous.

it was brought to my attention recently that there is a new crop of episodes airing on cable. i offer an excerpt from the witty conversation:

juniper: have you seen the latest ab fabs?
punkin: no. what channel are they on again?
juniper: oxygen.
punkin: i don't get oxygen.
juniper: how do you breathe?

while the line is, indeed, a groaner, it's also a valid point in an over-dramatic sense. my feet have never stepped on european soil, my hands have never dipped a brush to scrub the loo at england's biggest television station. and for the love of god-save-the-queen, i don't have the oxygen channel!

so england remains a dream of mine. the academic in me yearns to see the tombs and manuscripts up close and in first person. the pop-culture maniac in me yearns to wander the urban calamity of one of the world's finest cities. i'm still clack-clack-clacking on the keyboard, trying hard to be clever and witty and sharp--all you sweeties and darlings make for a tough crowd! but i'll plod on, and land on the other side of the pond one day yet. meanwhile, isn't it time for a nice cup of tea?

sidenote: tomorrow, march 9, is my one year blogiversary! how should we celebrate?


Friday, March 05, 2004

a portrait in landscape

as i sat at my little desk this morning i realized that my environment tells a lot about who i am. i've been thinking a lot lately (thanks to posts by other bloggers, emails i've received, conversations i've had and some good old fashioned 'me' time) about how we discover who we are, and how we're perceived, and how we blend those two realms, and how we ultimately choose to express ourselves. so in looking inward i looked a tiny bit outward, and thought i'd show you guys a slice of my physical space.

ready for the tour?

so we have the computer. sure, it's kind of clunky, but it's all mine, and you can see i have kate hepburn on my desktop, and instant messenger running, because i'm nothing if not an IM junky. of course, my computer boats a tiny tiara on top, a birthday gift from years gone by. i've got the necessary cup of coffee, today in the cup handpainted by ashley with my name spelled out in sign language. and coffee does go remarkably well with cigarettes. i swear, i don't smoke a lot. just every now and then.

now, one look at the wall in front and the shelf above, and you can certainly see some colorful clutter. i've always wanted to be the girl who could limit herself to tasteful, minimal and relevant displays on the walls, but in my little computing cocoon i like to look up and be reminded of well-wishes and friends and places i've been. there's the token picture of my own feet taken on the beach last year. there's a mountainy shot from mammoth. there are some snaps of me and ashley, of me and bunny, of emeril lagasse serving me breakfast while two radio personalities look on. oh, and the cards! notes from bloggery pals like joe, cati, secret agent jo, kasey. my latest fave is a 'sent for no reason' card from ash, featuring an artist's rendering of the 22 hour drive between seattle and los angeles. and there's notes to self, and notes from roomies, and report cards and fortune cookie slips. though it didn't make it in the shot, to the left is one branch of the "a-wall", with a half dozen essays, in-class writings and midterms pinned up, all boasting a's and lovely commentary from the teachers. reminds me to work up to my potential. and my favorite line from a page-a-day calendar, from auntie mame: "after all, if i can't be myself, who can?" so true, woman, so true.

there's a stack of cd's, just a few i'm in to lately: dannii minogue's neon nights, bob dylan, beth orton, rufus wainwright, morcheeba, radiohead, blossom dearie and desi arnaz. talk about all over the place!

there are odds and ends, like the batteries to my beloved digital cam that need charging, there's my charming swatch, and a shelf of trinkets assembled over the ages. there's a book: great sex--for inspiration, i suppose. there's the usual desk-like odds and ends like pens and bills to pay and bookmarks and push pins. there's a magic wand, a teletubbies mousepad, books on writing and improv theatre.

this is where i go first thing: in the moring, when i get home from wherever i've been. it's where i plot my posts, my papers, my emails. where i burn cds, where i peruse online editions of papers around the world, where i read your blogs, and where i do my google-sleuthing. it's where i go to reach out, to be in touch, to be up to date. sometimes it's where i give way to roaring laughter, and sometimes where i sit and quietly cry. i'd say it's where the magic happens, but not only is that totally cliched, but also not true. the magic is in me, and this is one place i let it loose. so read in to it what you will, assess and try to balance what you see with what you get. it's just one kind of picture of your author; it's my portrait in landscape.


Thursday, March 04, 2004

sisters of the only child

in girlhood i invented games with elaborate landscapes; realms of imagination that guaranteed me a sisterhood unknown in my "real" life. i read novels about boarding schools and summer camps and patchworked families where girls of close age shared rooms and clothes and secrets; i'd go with them into their fictive late hours, giggling, whispering, getting in to mischief. and even though i happily basked in the spoils of being the only child, i was often the lonely child who yearned for a sister. i'd remark to my mother: "i wish i were twins!" to which she would roll her eyes and laugh and reply: "one of you is enough!" so it was in my friendships, my girl-friendships, that i found my sisters.

my elementary years echo the turbulent power struggle of the friendship trinity i was involved in; when it came time to pairing someone had to get snubbed, so projects and partnerships were often tinged with jealousy and hurt. i took immense delight in the halls of the churches where i'd gather with girls close to my age in our brownie best, and later in our girl guide blues. here there was rivalry and ribaldry, camp-outs and competitions, sing-alongs and sweet moments.

by junior high it became apparent that growing up often equated growing apart, and as the trinity was split between three new schools, i was once again a lonely child, trying to learn the finer art of social interaction. i eventually settled into a friendship that had that certain air of exclusivity about it, that inside-joke and steady lunch plans kind of mystique that i'd always craved. together we navigated the standard path of teenage exploration, staying up til all hours penning what we thought were sexy romance stories about what our lives might one day be, going to those parties kids have when the parents are out of town, trying to get away with buying beer or smokes. but my move to los angeles left her in toronto to roam the streets with the rag tag crew she'd latched on to, and despite spring break visits and long letters written to distract ourselves from math classes, we eventually lost touch.

one of the loveliest parts of coming of age is that you begin to see the value of quality not quantity in personal friendships. things become much less about expectations than about sharing moments, simple or pivotal. in laurie i found an instant bond, that familiar combination of intellect and rebel, the ease of being able to sit in shared silence, driving up the coast at dawn. in bunny i have the sisterhood of family, of countless comfortable moments where her family took me in as theirs. it's a sisterhood of survivalship, of enduring some of the worst moments life has to offer, of giving the advice you know doesn't want to be heard, of sometimes just listening without judgment. in ashley i have a comical "twin"-sisterhood that stretches from here to seattle, that is about laughter and understanding and dreams. right in my very own home i have two built in sisters, l.q.t. and angel bunny, with whom i share not only space, but smiles, sobs, achievements, and loss and the day-to-day adventures of living.

i've realized that though i am the only child, i am far from the lonely child, far from the child alone. i've been taken underwing by surrogate big sisters, i've forged long-lasting friendships with women i think of as family. they are my strength, my inspiration, my sounding boards, my confidantes, my partners in crime. they are my sisters, and for all they mean to me i am truly grateful.


Tuesday, March 02, 2004

in lieu of

last night was the space between duty and refuge under blue blankets. instead of poetic surrender i filled the gap--while minding the gap--with a series of actions. we gathered in the hallway to cheer the newly hired. we gathered in the kitchen to put leftovers on small plates, to give comfort and take pause. alone, i put most things in their proper places, i vacuumed to the point of satisfaction marked by a dull ache in my lower back. i thought about noodle soups, the word "malign" and how it made me laugh in the library, chudleigh's apple farm, the books that line my shelf with beckoning spines, the calendar i'd yet to turn to march. i listened first to mingus on the stereo, then to the steady rush of rainfall in the dark. i fell asleep watching six degrees of separation, marvelling at the sheer weight of context and relevance. "chaos, control. chaos, control. you like, you like?" this morning, after closing the window on a teeter-tottering conversation, i ate what remained of the dark chocolate i'd bought at dean and deluca in rockefeller center, bravely raised my green highlighter once more out of duty, and remembered that i, too, liked to write bad poetry.


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