Tuesday, March 29, 2005

new york photo collage

i took almost 600 pictures last week. here's 27 of them. more to come when i'm feeling better!

row 1: macy's flower show, empire state building, t-shirts for sale in little italy
row 2: boardwalk-coney island, jellyfish-ny aquarium, ferris wheel-coney island
row 3: magnolia bakery cupcakes, subway platform-coney island, martinis-fat black pussycat
row 4: angel of bethesda-central park, polar bears-central park zoo, turtles-central park zoo
row 5: statue of liberty, shubert theatre-spamalot marquee, flatiron building
row 6: temple of dendur-the met, medieval art wing-the met, monet's lilies-the met
row 7: van gogh's oleander-the met, seurat close-up--the met, two men-greenwich village
row 8: black crowes concert-abc studios times square, gray's papaya, coffee-la bonbonniere
row 9: subway station-brooklyn, katz's deli-lower east side, mosaic close-up-subway station, lower east side


Monday, March 28, 2005

the land of counterpane

one of my favorite books to thumb through over and over again as a child was robert louis stevenson's a child's garden of verses. i had a beautiful copy, hardback, with a lovingly worn dust jacket, and glossy pages of sweet illustrations of ringletted english boys and girls in frilly blouses, dresses, and bloomers. one poem i remeber is "in the land of counterpane" which is about the ways in which a little boy amuses himself as commander of his own armies and fleets on the hills and valleys of his blankets while he is sick in bed. for the past couple of days, i have been in my very own land of counterpane. and while i'm not commanding regiments of tin soldiers, i am instead commandeering sex and the city episodes on dvd, an endless supply of water to drink, rolls of toilet paper for sniffling, snotting, and hacking into, a scarf to keep my screamingly sore throat warm, and my phone, for making sad-sack calls to my mother and for having to call in sick to work and to class on the first day of the spring quarter.

it seems i've brought home from new york the kind of souvenir i wouldn't wish on anyone. it's one of those nasty toss-and-turn, hack till you hurl, hot-hot-hot then cold-cold-cold, my head is going to explode, ears clicking, can i mix nyquil with tylenol 3 and not die? kinds of cold-slash-flu that set upon me the very last night of my holiday in the big apple. with our last event done (a gorgeous drinks-dinner-stroll with my dad and step-mom who had arrived in town from toronto that afternoon) there was nothing left to do but to firm up the departing details, cram all the purchases and goodies into our already overstuffed suitcases, and to wind down, feet up to ease the ache of the leg muscles and the bite of the blisters. and then... the coughing came. and the dizzyness. and the "i can't lift my leg to climb into the bathtub." and the next morning was no better; it was streaming tears to ruin our room service breakfast, it was me wandering from room to room in the suite uncertain of what i was doing, it was me being scared i couldn't carry my bag down the hall. then it was a six hour flight, wedged in an economy seat, no way to sleep comfortably without breaking my neck.

it was awful. and it's not much better, two days later, as i lay in my land of counterpane, the straight-A student (two quarters running, now!) sad to have to miss the first day of school, trying not to laugh for fear it may cause coughing when the person taking my 'calling in sick' message at work said in earnest, "wow, you're not faking it" after hearing my shaky, scratchy, pip-squeak voice. so it's one more day sick a-bed, with my trusted bear keaton by my side, the ever-present roll of toilet paper, the hot tea with honey and lemon, and the oatmeal i choke down not out of hunger but so that i might injest more high-powered medication. all this, in hopes "to keep me happy all the day."

now excuse me whilst i go hack up another portion of lung.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

in the big black hole of indulgence...

now featuring icy rain and achy legs and not enough time to see everyting!!!!

see the details of my trip over at LAist.


Saturday, March 19, 2005

big apple-bound

this week did not, in fact, kill me, although there were some precarious moments. i survived two final exams, having to tutor the worst procrastinators and butchers of written english ever known, a dicey line-crossing scenario (see: monday night), and a three-hour production of as you like it (complete with an audience of fidgety pre-teens and so many coughers we may well have been seeing the play in a tb ward).

i am leaving for new york city this morning.

for all (if any) interested parties, you know how to reach me, particularly if you're in the city and would like to get a drink, have a bite, grab a coffee, etc. i will have, i believe, internet access in my hotel. i will be here, for sure, representin' (yo!) LAist.

to my four remaining readers (okay, it's more than four, but, seriously, where did everyone go? am i that boring? wait, don't answer that. please.) expect tales of great adventures and a plethora of pictures.

as i accidentally typ(o)ed one day...
peach out!


Wednesday, March 16, 2005

the one where the girl doesn't get the guy

if my life were an actual television drama about a slightly non-traditional (read: older than 20) a college student and writing center worker, and the colorful characters that surround her, then monday night's episode would have been the one where the main character and her bold and outspoken new classmate-friend try to get the professor they have the hots for to go have a drink and are turned down. you know the exact kind of show: people with perfect hair who say "hey" and "can i talk to you for a minute" all the time, and just show up at each other's apartments and workplaces without even calling first. the people playing the supporting roles are those awesome kinds of guest stars that you wish would get made into regular recurring roles, because the friend is so fun and full of good-spirited mischief, and the guy looks fine as wine in a pair of jeans and a suede coat and he does his part by the script but totally improvs little laughs and looks that make it so real. and, of course, it's really sort of a pivotal moment for the main character, complete with tight shots of her not saying anything, but looking off into the distance and coming to a sort of peace and acceptance that some things just weren't meant to be, and then saying things like "this was really the gentlest and best by-proxy way to have my dreams dashed i could ever imagine." of course, the main character and her gal-pal (please, network execs, work her in for the rest of the series, she's just that good) make the best of things and have some wine and a lot of laughs anyhow, way into the wee hours of the morning.

the best thing about this episode is that it's the kind that doesn't come off as too heavy handed (although there's a forum at television without pity where the watchers make glib comments about wanting to stab their eyes out with plastic forks while they watch the main character grapple with her conflicting emotions and feelings of unrequited love. on the upside, they love her new pink coat) because it's not even sweeps week, and there's other story arcs about family members overcoming health problems, and trips to big cities across the country, and the main girl getting an A+ on a huge assignment. it's also, unfortunately, one of those episodes where the main character's storyline doesn't intersect with the other characters', so she's not at all up on the fact that maybe her quirky neighbors are taking ballroom dance lessons, or that someone's husband gets caught up in some pyramid scheme selling game. bad b-plots never fly during sweeps, but they're forgivable in this week's episode, because it shows something really big--huge--happening in this really sweet, delicate, small way. and anyone who's ever been infatuated with someone for a really long time who watches the episode, well... when the cool alterna-folk music plays over the last scene, they're totally tearing up, too. just like the main character.


Friday, March 11, 2005

breakdown, went ahead and did it

i tried to warn people. it should have been a blaring signal that something was amiss when i fell asleep on the living room couch at 4:30 wednesday afternoon. or when i acted like i didn't have a fifteen-page paper or a pre-doctoral program grant application due, and instead watched a mini-marathon of felicity, season four. i sent out some s.o.s. emails, saying "i have to disappear," and disappear i did, so far off the radar that i couldn't even find myself. i couldn't even spit out my own name. i just wanted more treats and less scholarly journals. i just wanted to get an A or two. i needed a made-for-tv miracle. instead i got a breakdown.

i couldn't have timed it better. only an hour or so prior i'd been part of a humorous conversation with my professor and my classmate foxy about traumatic life situations, coping with workloads, seminar papers, and our classmates in general. and i love my professor; she's such an amazing woman who inspires me, and sees to it that i earn the A's she gives me. and i told her, i told everyone, i'm in the middle of a breakdown. you just can't see it. so when it came time to give my paper presentation in class... well... i hit the wall. i went out of body. i was speaking, sure, but the little puppetmaster's voice was saying "do you know what you're talking about? i didn't think so! you're not smart! you're babbling! ha ha!" and i broke the first rule of performance: never comment about yourself while you're doing it. so there i was, saying, "i'm sorry, i don't know what i'm doing," and "wow, i, uh, i'm not very organized," until finally i just said point blank, "i can't go on with this," and my professor said, "that's fine!" and when whatever kind friend leaned in to whisper "are you okay?" i realized NO I WAS NOT OKAY and i bolted. ran right out the door. tripped on my own bag on the way.

so i sat in the hall, on this little shelf in an alcove. i could kind of hear my class going on down the hall. i was crying, though. crying the hot, salty tears that had refused to come for months now. i stayed there, until i felt my professors arm around me, and she talked me down off my shelf. she made me laugh. she described how i felt without my ever having to say it. "i told you i was having a breakdown," i told her. "yeah, but i didn't believe you! i still don't. you've got the classic signs of stress. but guess what... it's no big deal, and you're going to be okay."

she's right. i'm okay. i'm still stressed. but i'm okay. and i'm still going to get my A. but more importantly, i got my tears out. and i got a little of me back.


Wednesday, March 09, 2005

knee-deep in it

yellow slips of paper with words of praise and thanks. a story about a bee. thirty page paper handed in. yet another elevator ride where i couldn't work up the nerve to change the subject. cadbury creme eggs and melted brie on bread. a brand new pink fish t-shirt. an accidental nap. afternoon meetings and application essays. learning "i want a room and a shower...with you" in italian. girl scout cookies. moments that spark wishes for life to be like the movies. study sessions. shall we dance? making someone feel proud of me. feeling proud of myself. endless cups of coffee. instant messenger venting. teaching. helping. being taught. being helped. pondering the semantics of proposing the post-class drink. late, late nights. a package full of distractions. p-touch label maker birthday present. prioritizing. presenting. maintaining. playlists. plans for paris in september. big, big favors. "you go home and write your paper." the pretty, pretty, pink princess diary. ten days til new york city. remembering that i'm doing exactly what i want to do.


Monday, March 07, 2005

among other, far less interesting, things

what i did this weekend*

*and by "did" i mean: planned it, went, took the pictures, and then came home and made the webpage for it.


Friday, March 04, 2005

can we ever know what "really" happened?

when i got to campus last night i met up with the usual suspects, and they accosted me immediately.

"so?" they asked, "what happened tuesday night?"

i'd been telling my story for a couple of days, and, despite its finer moments, it was beginning to wear a little thin. "nothing," i said. "nothing happened."

the devil is indeed in the details; there are so many details that i absorb like a sponge and commit to memory and recite like a list of vocabulary words or historical events i may be tested on. it's proof i think i'm looking for. nancy drew needs evidence. nancy drew takes peeks inside drawers. proof of what, well, i don't know. maybe i do know and i don't want to tell anyone. maybe it's hard enough for me to stick to believing in myself than to have to subject my experiences to scrutiny. sometimes, to be blunt, the humor i attach to things is just that: humor. sometimes, the reality is very personal and very real.

when i tell my stories here i deliberately craft them to be slightly inspecific. not untrue, mind you, because fact versus fiction in this sense is not up for debate here, but inspecific in that i don't feel i need, or want, to tell you where i was or with whom. it shouldn't matter. and there's also a desire on my part to start to scrape away some of those devilish details and some scraps of my stories and keep them to myself. it's a catch-22, because part of who i am is that i am someone who puts it out there. but there is a deliberate withholding of late in my writing.

last night in class we talked a lot about the impossibility of telling a true story. stories, of course, have sides and angles and aspects that no one person, whether they were there or not, could ever attempt to divine and portray and tout as accurate. this makes me think of my stories: are they true? for me, yes, they are pointedly true. but if i am in a room with someone and we share an experience, our interpretations are not necessarily the same. our truths our different. nancy drew is interested in the other person's truth. but nancy drew also thinks it's time her truth was a little less discernable.

what does this all mean? i am not sure. it means i may start to tell different stories. it means i may start to tell fewer stories. it means there's a part of me that's ready to live these stories through to the end in day to day life. it means i'd like a shot at having to consider someone else's truth.

it means we may never know what 'really' happened.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

the only living girl in l.a.

it's like the night one of my favorite improv teachers told me that she shared my habit of feeling things viscerally; that the weight of the air and the motion of the breeze were, to her, too, more tangible than their invisibility implied. it's like the scene in garden state when they're standing on the edge of the junkyard canyon in the pouring rain. and there's no reason, just a light wind, a blue cloud-spotted sky and a series of comfortable old songs streaming through my ipod's trademark white earbuds. but, really...it's just this morning.

i awoke from the sweetest hand-holding dream, surely tinged with residual elements of my night of caravaning through maze-like streets, lofty talk, walls freshly painted in primary colors, and red wine. and, of course, in the real-life nighttime i'd rummaged through the drawers, but had taken nothing but a memory's slideshow, full to the brim with moments of laughter and warmth. i'd never been so at ease in a strange kitchen, or never so eager to curl up barefoot on a brand-new-to-me couch. there was a perfect balance of expectation and satisfaction; with the hardest part under our belts we moved on to the celebration... i didn't say a single thing i'd imagined, but was more pleased with myself than i could have ever planned. and it didn't matter which plan i was using as a guide--the imaginary or the real--because the living, breathing actuality was more enjoyable than either.

and the thing is, nothing happened. but everything happened. while today it's the same sentences and photocopiers and slatted benches, i somehow feel a little different. and when, by rights, with so little sleep and so much wine, i ought to be squinting and frowning this morning, instead i am threading my fingers through a tangible breeze, a little smug to have not found a trace of a woman in the bachelor's pad, and smiling as though i were the only living girl in l.a.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

my sparkling personality and a nice syrah

oh, yes... i'm bringin' it!


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