Wednesday, June 30, 2004

craving strobe-lights, pick-up lines, dive bars, pocketknives and sign-language teachers circa 1977

do you ever have one of those days when, despite your best intentions of going home after work and responsibly ticking things off your to-do list like "upload pictures from digital camera," "do laundry," "pay bills," and "work on major writing project," you know what you're really going to do is make some fat-free, sugar-free pudding and watch looking for mr. goodbar--just because you can?

...well, i do!


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

the time of my life

i decided last night as i penned furiously in my new journal (because, yes, i'm cheating on the internet and writing my innermost thoughts in ink on paper) that this summer is going to be a pivotal one. it brings to mind a certain dirty summer in the life of one frances "people call me 'baby'" houseman, and her pivotal summer. while it is indeed too late for me to lose my virginity to the grinding hips of patrick swayze at an upper-middle class borscht-belt resort, it is not, in fact, too late to really come in to my own and assert myself. this involves a lot of dancing, a lot of hard work, and hopefully very few encounters with second-rate comedians, watermelons, nerds in hotel management training programs or irrelevant sequels set in cuba. but i think this summer really has potential. besides, nobody puts baby in the corner, right?


Friday, June 25, 2004

it simply is

i remember a few years ago when i had taken up both yoga and improv acting (mutually exclusively in practice, though in theory they are a great deal alike), and i marvelled at how the main lesson i learned from both was how imperative it was to be "in the now." up until that point, this "in the now" school of thought smacked of shirley maclaine and crystals and weekend retreats in sedona, arizona. i was a kid obsessed with those two dangerous extremes, the past and the future.

the past to me was some huge, behemoth of monolithic proportions; i was somehow indoctrinated culturally to fight and wrestle with the demons in my closet--you know the ones wedged between the high heels that pinch and give me blisters and that sweater i really should take to the dry cleaners. it always seemed to be an issue of forgaging through the granules of childhood memory to confront why i wasn't 'whole' as an adult, how i'd been hurt, how i'd been failed by those who were there to guide me. but the thing is, i mean, the simple fact is, i had a childhood, and it ended. and no matter what my aim is, i can't go back and mend or change or alter a single thing from it. and that's okay.

the future to me was always the looming solution to life's ultimate algebraic word problem: "if a car left toronto in 1990, travelling 70 mph, and a plane left los angeles in 1994..." math, never having been my strongest skill, dictated that so long as i figured out the answers, i would arrive at them unscathed and all the happier. so i found solace in being a dreamer, in stepping on the present for the sake of the prettier future. i dealt with my present as an out-of-body experience, as one who might be watching the events unfold from the safe distance of a la-z-boy chair staring at images from a slide projector. quite frankly, at some point, the distance became unsettling.

it took a lot of courage, and a lot of deep breaths, and a lot of psychic bruises to jostle me away from my cumbersome attachments to the past and the future. but i began to learn, and better, understand, about the journey, the process, the art of being "in the now." it still isn't easy.

even though i scarcely do yoga these days, and i've had to give up the expense of improv classes, it is the lesson of being "in the now" that i put to work daily. sometimes i feel that tug towards the past and it's like a sigh, it's like a mosquito bite that i can't help but itch, and i wander backwards down memory lane and indulge in a few "what ifs." more often, it's the glimmer of the future, still shinier and brighter in my optimist's eyes, that holds the promise of theorized pay-off, of the realization of the goals and dreams i'm setting ahead of me to journey towards. it's what makes me close my eyes while wide awake and play a game of pretend before i go to bed, only in my sophistication i call it 'visualizing.' well, la de da...

what's struck me lately is that fundamentally, i am an incredibly happy person. i've reached a point where i may not have all that i want, but that i'm aware that i have the potential to get what i want. i find that virtues i've long sought to cultivate within myself are suddenly surfacing, and moreso, are being noticed and praised. i don't look back and ache to cry, i don't shut out today for the sake of tomorrow. i dream as big, and in full-scale technicolor, as i always did, but when i open my eyes, i'm not dissatisfied. it is a much easier choice to be happy. it is much more important to be "in the now." it is perfectly okay to be myself, to be the work-in-progress that i am. it


Tuesday, June 22, 2004

so libel-licious

what do you think: should i go ahead and sue the jackass who has twice posted my photograph without permission, my real name, and a number of inflammatory, libelous, defamatory, insulting, slanderous, rude, unnecessary, unsupported and downright mean posts about me?

or should i just let the little weenie dig his own shallow grave?


Monday, June 21, 2004

an evening of "bitter music"

a couple of weeks ago i was privileged to attend a performance dedicated to the innovative work and intriguing life of musician harry partch, as part of microfest 2004 at the redcat theatre in downtown los angeles. the main reason for my being invited was that this show was marking the stage debut of a unique microtonal musical instrument called the kithara, built by hand by my step-dad. the stage setting also showcased diamond and bass marimbas, a harmonic canon (also built by my step-dad), a modified viola, a modified guitar, and a chromelodeon. partch, a prototype of the later 'beatnik', artist and musician, wandered america, primarily the agricultural central californian corridor immortalized by steinbeck, working odd jobs and putting in time at work camps. the show was a combination of readings from his wry and witty journals, with some of his sketches projected on a large screen upstage. fast-fingered and brave musicians tackled the thoroughly untraditional notes of the instruments to perform some of partch's music. after the show we were allowed to briefly mingle amongst the instruments, and pluck and peck for ourselves. curiosity swirled around the kithara and the harmonic canon, and my nana, proud of her son-in-law, made sure the onlookers knew the instruments were his handiwork, and he was able to accept some much deserved praise and give some impromptu demos. it was a beautiful and original night! look here for more info from the redcat webpage.

outside the redcat (redcat is short for 'roy and edna disney cal arts theatre, as it is a branch of the new disney hall and run by cal arts university).

in the audience before the show.

the diamond marimba.

the harmonic canon.

the kithara.

showing off the harmonic canon.


Friday, June 18, 2004

interviewed by a vampire

the other day at work i spent about an hour and a half helping a nine year old girl make a father's day gift for her dad. even though lately it's been remarked numerous times that i have extraordinary patience and kindness towards children (particularly, shall we say 'difficult' ones), i'm still a little unnerved by the young ones i come in contact with, and remain ceaseless amazed at their capacity for inquiry. the following is a sampling of the line of questioning i was subjected to by this one particular girl, who seemed, like many of the kids today, to be a precocious (read: nosy) adult disguised in the innocent body of a pre-adolescent girl.

"are you an artist?" "i think artists need to have good eyesight. do you have good eyesight? i won't take no for an answer." "is this made of clay?" "what are those?" "what do you think would be a nice thing for my dad that he could wake up and look at every day and think of me?" "what would you make your dad for a present?" "how much will this cost?" "what if we couldn't pay for this, what would you do?" "would you really make me wash the dishes to pay for it?" "can i wash the dishes?" "how much would it cost to have my birthday party here?" "what's 25 times 20?" "how do you spell 'receive'?" "is that hard, what you're doing?" "do you know what you're doing?" "are you married?" "why not? you're so pretty and so nice!" "don't you think you should be married?" "why not?" "don't you know that people who are happy are people who are married?" "well, do you have a boyfriend?" "why not?" "have you ever had a boyfriend?" "did you, like, have one when you were as young as me?" "are you afraid of anacondas? what about spiders?" "can i have that calendar on the wall?" "who made that sign?" "can i have it?" "do you like children?" "why only 'some children'?" "well, do you think i'm well-behaved?" "do you like me?" "are you sure you don't want to get married?"


Tuesday, June 15, 2004

lately: a list

* i am enamored with the bucket hat.
* i'd rather walk there.
* i have a low or no threshold of tolerance for children, hipsters, politicians, religious enthusiasts or telemarketers.
* i always hesitate before answering the question "are you an artist?"
* i've remembered to bring my digital camera with me, but have forgetten my cell phone.
* no, i don't think your (boyfriend, dog, baby, etc.) is cute.
* who are these "lakers" people keep talking about?
* i'm very in to my ambidexterity.
* it's an honor just to have been asked.
* i am filled with a sense of impending doom in respects to my upcoming ten year high school reunion.
* it really doesn't "feel different" now that i have my bachelor's degree.
* i can't fathom life without netflix.
* my two least favorite questions are: "what's your favorite movie?" or "what's your favorite book?" why do i have to have just one?
* belts and not even the slightest bit of interest in dating help keep my pants on.
* two words: diane keaton.


Monday, June 14, 2004

the business of pleasure

today is one of those monday mornings that signals both the start of a new week and the necessary return of life as "normal."

last week was about indulgent lunches and dinners out with family and friends, glasses raised in celebratory salutes, late nights of laughter, and one long day of "pomp and circumstance." my camera is loaded with photos of all the fun events and experiences i've enjoyed--now it's to the task of organizing them, sending them off via e-mail to all the requestees. it's time for a little paperwork, a little down time, a little netflix movie marathon, and a little more ho-hum everyday stuff.

i have stuff to write about, too; a refreshing change from the "i'm out of stories to write" mode i've been in of late. i have stories of microtonal music concerts, fondue dinners, graduation ceremonies, and more.

but today is one of those "crossover" days, a little bit of a last hurrah of celebration, a little bit of laziness and winding down, of sorting out and piecing together any number of odds-and-ends.

so i leave you with a picture i took a couple of months ago of a tree.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004

a question of character

lately i have been the most twitter-pated, dingbatty, and scatterbrained character. no matter how many "must do" lists i chalk, type or pen, post or pocket, i still forget where to be when and how much to pay whom. to make matters worse, i've also adopted a certain comic lilt in my humor and its delivery, capped with a tiny bit of paranoid over-exaggeration (perhaps not an entirely new characteristic) that i'm attributing to having seen far too many woody allen films lately. on the plus side, i do find that i'm markedly funnier than usual.

graduation looms on the horizon of the weekend, in all its chaotic, high temperature, large crowd and psuedo pomp-and-circumstance glory. for me it's signalling my entrance in to this great summer of uncertainty, the bleak and low-income months before i return to the comforting paces of academic life and additional employment as a writing tutor on campus. the next couple of months means i have to shed my scatterbrained tendencies and refocus myself on my top-secret writing project, upon which hinges some of my most profound hopes and wishes for myself and my life. one thing i don't think i need to shine up is my dramatic flair. obviously, that's working in full force.

my beloved friend juniper told me today that while watching inside the actor's studio last night with bette midler he was struck at how much she reminded him of me. i suppose it's a good thing that i can stand comparison to someone brassy, sassy, funny and (in my humble opinion) legitimately talented. i'm anxious to show the rest of the world that i am capable of the same.

all in good time, however, as the mandate of first things first dictates i must initially survive this week of coordinating friends and family and festivities, of making sure i remember where to be and when to be there, and to relax a little and enjoy.

case in point: how on earth was i expecting to be inundated with gifts if i can't even get the link to my wish list right? with a little help, i managed to fix that! and with a little help, i'm going to get through this week, this graduation, this summer, and... i think this life is gonna work out pretty nicely.


Monday, June 07, 2004

helpful hints

if anyone was wondering what kind of present(s) to get me for my graduation this week, might i suggest something from here...

...but if that proves to be a fruitless pursuit, let me steer you over here. it's all nice and mapped out for you--totally convenient.

i mean, i'm just sayin'...


Friday, June 04, 2004

miss information

just in case this whole writer/actress career path doesn't pan out, i've come to discover in the past few days that i have a brilliant future as either the person who sits in the 'information' booth or as some kind of 411 operator. why? because random strangers seem to love to come up to me to ask for help.

case in point, a couple of days ago, the man in the car in front of me comes to a complete stop in the middle of moving traffic, flies out the door and comes to my window.

"excuse me?" he says. "but is this north?" he points in the direction we'd be headed, were we not at a total standstill.

"no," i said. "that's north," i offered, pointing the other way. i was a little stunned. i mean, here i am thinking: oh, holy hell, why is he stopping me? is my car on fire? only to discover he was just a fellow who didn't know about mapquest.

he dashed back to his car, hopped in, and hopefully turned himself around okay.

yesterday, a woman with in indistinguishable european accent solicited me in the dairy section of my favorite local supermarket in the hopes i might help her distinguish between sour cream and plain yogurt.

"creme fraiche?" she kept repeating, shaking the little plastic cup of sour cream.

"uh, no..." i said, not being entirely sure what creme fraiche was, but pretty sure it wasn't sour. "that's, um, tangy. sour." not sure on how 'sour' translated--probably not well since 'sour' was the cream in question--i added a little puckery face for emphasis. "you know, sour."

i led her to the plain yogurt, and she expressed her gratitude.

now, i've always thought that i gave the appearance of being somewhat unapproachable. i've been told this before, and i guess it's a case of hearing it so often you begin to believe it. i get squinty in the sunlight, shades or not, so i always feel like i'm making a dismissive sneering face. but lately the lost, the confused, the directionally and dairy challenged can't seem to get enough of my help. even in new york city this year, both in january and april, people asked me for directions. i don't know what it is. but i'm happy to help when i can. maybe i'm not so unapproachable after all. now that's some creme fraiche for thought.


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

from zero to "that girl" in just under three years

the thirty-minute span between 3:15 and 3:45 this afternoon was the most amazing half hour i've spent in recent memory.

i was running hopelessly, shamefully, dreadfully late. i was supposed to be meeting a friend of mine on campus for some cafe au lait and chit chat when she got out of class just around 3:10. but i'd dillied, and, oh, how i'd dallied, and i still had to meet with the world's hunkiest professor before i could sit down and be social. but when i got to the english department i found a post-it note on his office door. "back at 3:20" it said. so i sat, and pulled out some work i'd brought in case of just such a waiting scenario.

it was nice to be waiting to see a teacher but to not be a student, to not have a grade at stake. 3:20 came and went. but, really, who likes to wait? especially when outside of the little campus cafe my gal pal was probably wondering where the heck i was. and still no professor. soon the benches in the hall outside his office began to fill up. first someone sat on the same bench as me on my right, then someone came and sat on my left. i kept working, kept my ears pricked anxiously for the telltale sound of his dress shoes on the tiled floor. after all, this is the fellow i have an enormous (albeit off and on) crush on... i was eager to see him, eager to see how he would fill out my recommendation form for an on-campus job i'm applying to for the fall. 3:30 rolled around, and still he wasn't there.

the woman next to me sighed. "what class of his are you in?" she asked. i laughed. "oh, ha, well, actually, i'm not, i just need a form filled out. i've had him before, though, for a few classes." she seemed nervous, tense. "yeah, he's intimidating. he's tough," she said, fussing with a book and some papers. again, i laughed. we traded minor observations about his teaching style, his approach; hers were about being overwhelmed, mine were, well, subtle, all things considered. then a former professor of mine passed by. "hi, punkin!" he greeted enthusiastically. "oh, hey!" i said in return. i turned to my fearful benchmate. "where is he, anyhow? i'm supposed to meet my friend. i'm going to have to tease him about this!"

then another former professor of mine walked by--really, the hunky professor aside, she's my absolute favorite teacher. she stopped at our bench. "hello, punkin!" she said. "you know, i read your work," she said, referencing the publication that was put out a couple of weeks ago, "and it was great. i really enjoyed it. i was really quite impressed." and as i thanked her, she ducked in to a co-worker's office. my benchmate looked at me, incredulously. "wow. that must feel great," she said. i was feeling, admittedly, like a little bit of a celebrity. and she was right--it did feel great to hear such praise. "it's been a long few years here," i said, more out of personal amazement than for conversational relevance. and it has. i'd gone from quiet, withdrawn and anonymous, vowing never to make school friends, never to feel attached to the english department, to being an actual someone, with pals and the respect of some amazing professors.

moments later i heard the shoes, and saw the man at the end of the hall. he was all in black, shades still on, cup of coffee in one hand, satchel in the other. hasn't changed a bit save for a little extra padding in the gut area. still drop dead gorgeous. still making me forget how to string words together into cohesive sentences, at least outside of papers on topics regarding the study of early english literature. "ah, punkin," he said, "you must be here for your thing." "yes, yes, my thing," i said, aiming to sound coy. "well, come on in..." i sprang to my feet, feeling rather top-of-the-heap considering the small line that had formed outside his door. "sit down, please...ah, yes, here's your thing..." he pulled out the form i'd left for him, and uncapped a pen. "now, let's see, what is it i'm recommending you for?" i explained, and he began to check off my qualifications, reading his selections aloud as he went. "exceptional, yes, i'd say you were an exceptional writer..." and so on, checking 'exceptional' in each box, then pausing to scrawl a brief sentence in the optional area at the bottom. he ribbed me about one bad grade he'd given me, then reminded me gently he was only teasing. he explained that he wasn't going to write a great deal, that all they were looking for was a bit of information, and that with my grades, and with his high recommendation, i'd be a sure choice. i told him my other professor--the fan of my writing--had said the same, and he laughed. "she and i are often in accord," he explained. i tried to be witty, but, as usual, i was marble-mouthed in his presence. why did it always seem he was flirting with me?

he reached the bottom of the page and signed his name. "'position'?" he read, amused. "professor," he said, "mmm, like on gilligan's island." my heart dropped. did he know? quick, punkin, make a joke, i thought. "but can you fix a radio?" i asked. (god, that was so stupid, i thought.) but he laughed, "no, i can't fix a radio," then, "you're going to take a class with me as a master's student, right?" he said. "oh, i suppose i could work up the nerve for that..." i said, again aiming for coy, flirtatious, though probably hitting pathetic on the mark. i remembered the poor woman sitting outside, worried about her grade, worried about how intimidating he was, able to hear everything we were saying, all the random bursts of laughter, since he kept his door wide open while in his office. what must she think of this conversation? i wondered. "as i recall, you've done extremely well in my classes. what's your gpa with me, like a 3.86?" "if you're counting the a minuses," i said, frowning. he smiled. (egads, so handsome!) "i'd say that was pretty impressive..." and i smiled. "i'll be there. i'll see you in the fall!" and i left as he offered his goodbye in return. i stopped in front of the nervous woman on the bench. "well, bye," i said warmly. "and good luck!"

i walked down the hall, feeling about ten shades brighter than cool. i felt a little triumphant, a little like a big fish in a small pond.

of course, the epilogue to the story is that my friend had just about given up waiting and had used the last of her cellphone's battery to call her boyfriend to come pick her up. we had about ten minutes to chat as we perched in wait on the steps near the parking lot. not exactly as we'd planned. but there'll be other days to gab, and, something tells me, other days of getting to feel pretty damn good for just being me.


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