Friday, April 29, 2005

sky like a jesus bookmark

there was nothing especially remarkable about yesterday. i came to zero life-changing realizations, i did not fall in love, didn't go out on the town and whoop it up, and didn't do much of any great consequence. it was just one of those days where the wind was kind of stirring, the quips were flying amongst my campus cronies and i, and people kept telling me they liked my outfit. but the sky was the selling point: streaks and swirls of clouds in silvers, grays, and white, patches of bright blue, and glorious springtime sunlight streaming through, like on one of those bookmarks with inspirational sayings. sky like a jesus bookmark. a very nice, and completely average, thursday.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

ny: state of mind?

it's somewhat remarkable that i have been living in the same apartment now for over five years; i do believe it's the longest i've lived at any one address in my whole life. it's comfortable here. the housemates have changed a few times, and i've lived in turn in each of the three bedrooms, but i've never been happier to call this place home. with that said, though, it's entirely possible that in about a year from now i might be moving. and that's got me in a very new york state of mind.

last week the list of schools with phd programs to which i'll be applying expanded just enough to include two major schools located right on the isle of manhattan, right smack in the middle of the universe (as far as i'm concerned). when i went to the websites to investigate their programs i felt a little like i did at sixteen, when i'd requested their catalog and an application, all full of ambition and excitement. and though i wound up never filling out a single form, i ended up in new york anyhow, albeit with a minimum wage job and a top-ramen budget. so it dawned on me that if i had the courage, at seventeen, with no college education, very little common sense, no working knowlegde of the city, no contacts, and just an awful lot of raw nerve, to move to new york, why couldn't i move there next year, at twenty-nine, with all those things i lacked, and a stipend and career path to boot? what is all of a sudden so scary about moving?

i suppose the last holdout for the city of angels for me is merely a notion: that i might just fall smack dab in love with a mister wonderful and not want to leave. and i'm not sure if that's a hope or a fear. it's a sort of flickering back burner kind of thought, a great big "what if" dangling with all its potential. but the reality is, i can't bank on it. not in a negative "it's never going to happen to me" way, but in a positive "life goes on" and "follow your dreams" way. maybe for me, moving forward is going to have to mean moving to manhattan.

the other night at dinner with my darling friend judy the subject came up, and her words are still rattling about my head. "new york is so you! you belong there! it's where you want to be!" and it's true. when i am there i feel in step with the city's residents, in tune to that mad-dash pace, so enchanted by the sights and sounds and smells and tastes. when i came home last month from my whirlwind week in the big apple, it seems like i left a little of me there. i'm cursing that here in the land of the never ending freeway i am bound to my car to get me to and from places. i can't get a decent meal delivered at any hour. it's strip malls and siliconed starlets, and pretty boys serving your dinner at chain restaurants while they dream of being the next ben affleck. okay, i don't know if anyone dreams of being the next ben affleck, but you get the idea. i want to live somewhere where wearing a turtleneck in april isn't ironic. i want my sex in another city. i want it in the city.

but mostly i don't want to be afraid of moving. this is my new york state of mind.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

normal mode activated

it started raining saturday night just as sarah mclachlan was closing out the night's performance at the greek theatre with some crowd-pleasing numbers. it was a breathlessly beautiful spring night, with a ripe moon gleaming through the mist over the treetops. our tickets weren't so much tickets, but passes that allowed us standing room in a desirable area, though we were often at the mercy of some undesirable concert-goers and their respective penchants for spilling their drinks so that my handbag and its contents were soaked in a fruity alcholic puddle, being rude and intrusive, or screaming "i love you sarah!" between every song. the passes also afforded us access to an after-show gathering that boasted cheese we could spear with toothpicks and free beer and wine. under the heat lamps and the stormy sky, we girl-talked about life, and love, and above all, possibilites. i was worried the rain might bring on more of a cosmic kind of dampening; i was afraid that something was sending me the signal that things couldn't possibly be as fabulous as they seemed.

i suppose, in the cosmic sense, i was right.

after a rainy walk back to the car up a long and winding road, a rainy drive home, a a good night's sleep alone in a bed i'd hoped i'd soon be sharing, i woke up to a downpour--of horrible news. one hideous, heart-breaking text message, followed by one completely different, but entirely saddening, phone call later, and the healthy breakfast i'd made was now just a notion--a cold, hardening, abandoned notion that i could no longer stomach. i managed to get through the day on several camel ultra lights (desperate times, please reserve judgment), a few spoonfuls of fat free cool whip, a handful of almonds, and one stiff drink. i sobbed on the way to staples to make photocopies while listening to elton john sing "tiny dancer." i couldn't cry all of last year, and suddenly i'm reduced to tears over a pop-rock hit of the 70's that seems to be about either a road-weary groupie or a ballerina the size of a human hand. this was not good. this was not fabulous. this was not normal. i called in the reserves--the gal pals--and had several heart to heart phone chats. but the mainstay of my gloomy sunday diet was sex and the city. it's been said that television rots your mind, that it's worthless, and teaches you nothing. well, between more waterworks and some small, hopeful smiles, i was reminded of why every now and then there's something valuable to be learned from the tube, specifically season four, episode two: "when real people fall down, they get right back up."

i'm not particularly pleased that my wild weekend turned into what it did. i don't like that i've spent more time than i'd like to admit staring down my phone, hoping for a call from someone who owes me a big time explanation, but whom i was really interested in, and from someone else i was only mildly interested in to begin with. and i can't hold every one but me at fault. sometimes, we just fall down. but we have to get back up again.

i pulled the phone out of my pocket, where it had been lying in wait, set to vibrate lest carrie bradshaw and the girls drowned out my various ringtones. i pressed the little button on the side to put it back on ring. "normal mode activated" the screen told me.

god, i sure hope so.

(and for all my search-referrals who want to know what episode of sex and the city has the magnolia bakery and their scrumptious cupcakes, the answer is season three, episode 5, "no ifs, ands, or butts." you're very welcome.)


Friday, April 22, 2005


right now things are happening in spades--pairs of spades, or twos of spades--good things that are working like doublemint gum to perk up my life. this weekend i have two glorious days off from work and school, i have two concerts to go to (my boys phoenix tonight and girl-music goddess sarah mclachlan saturday), and two dates with two different boys. i've been getting good news in twos, too, like encouraging news about my application for a prestigious financial award for pre-doctoral scholars, and staggering news that turned into my witnessing the whole of next year's english department creative writing teaching schedule being modified to adjust my needs. really, the two are too cool. this quarter i've got two fabulous creative writing classes that are letting me hone my craft in two different styles and genres, i've got the pleasure of writing for two websites, two big events i'm planning and participating in next month on campus, two pieces of my writing are being published, two harmless workplace crushes, two best gal-pals from school, the two best roomies a girl could ask for, and my next little trip is two days in glorious san francisco. these twos are definitely not too much to handle, and they aren't the typical terrible twos. bad things might happen in threes, but my deuces are wild these days, and i'm happy with my good things happening in twos.


Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"to strike ink across its waiting lines"*

it's one of those generic sized-and-shaped lined blank books that i most likely picked up from the bookstore where i worked, and even more likely paid for by the credit card to which i was rarely inclined to make significant payments. the exterior is the most obnoxious mirrorballed silver sparkle glitter, like the holographic scatter of the backgrounds of stickers i'd collect by the ream and save faithfully in my sticker book back in the mid-eighties. little has done much in the way of fading its dizzying sheen over the past ten years since it came into my ownership, save a slight wearing away at the edges that lends to the front cover a look of its trying to stand in for a bad meterological map, or having been left spine-down in a snowstorm. but regardless, since we're taught not to judge books by their bindings, it's definitely what's inside that counts.

what's inside is like a taffy pull of late teen angst, stories told to the point of self-interruption or so bogged down in inconsequential details that now, a decade later, i'm having to rely on my memory to fill in the more important elements my pen felt necessary to skip over. but the drama sucks me in time and time again; last night certainly wasn't the first re-read i'd indulged in. in fact, of all the old handwritten time capsules, it's my favorite to go back to, because my writing is just so...well, me. and of its time. this relic represents a point in my life that sometimes defies description. and i sink in so deep in the reading that i have to shake my head when i set it down, just to try to remember where i am now, and that my world has changed quite radically.

this dear diary time capsule has lines like: "my little heart sank and i felt so silly" and i actually describe someone's attitude as being "unpalatable." it's the strangest mix of ditching classes, calling in sick to work, inventing theories, embracing theories, abandoning thoeries, headaches, stomach aches, free cups of coffee, secret crushes, one very particular love affair, and the sheer melodrama of (and i quote) "my heart speaking volumes to me."

me and my heart took quite a beating in 1995-96. i let that damned organ do what it wanted; i fell hard for the wrong guys without realizing why or how i had fallen. and somehow, through the grace of my part-time minimum wage job and the general education courses i could easily skip out of in college, i had an awful lot of time to wander down my heart's meandering path. this journal, well, it's a page turner. will i love him today? will i have sworn him off? is this the part where he shows up at my place on martin luther king day with massage oil and some flimsy line about just being in the neighborhood? is this the part where he finally leaves his long-time live-with girlfriend? will i ever, to this day, figure out some of the cryptic things he'd say to me, like when he said he was as able to commit to me as "a dog with fleas?" and all the while my heart is wrenching, singing, bursting, boiling. it's a wonder i slept. i'm not entirely sure i did.

everything in the glitter journal ends abruptly (and in sedona, arizona, no less, when i went on a whim). i had a habit of buying a new journal before the old one was done, and, wanting so strongly to have the new journal reflect a new me, i'd often start into it before the last page of the old one was filled. but i'd use the pages like scrapbooks, and tape in article clippings, movie ticket stubs, notes, scoresheets from a bowling alley that has long since been torn down. it seems ridiculous now to think that a new journal could really give me a fresh start. yet here i am, ten years later, and i feel a thousand lifetimes away from that girl, with her different colored pens and her penchant for hyperbole. my ghostwriter certainly had a kind of gusto, or just plain guts, that good old fashioned maturity has helped to temper. sometimes, though, i'm not entirely convinced that, despite having set this obnoxious, over-the-top sparkling anything-but-blank book aside ages ago, i've actually closed the book on that girl. i miss her at times. and that heart, though dressed in more resilient protective gear, still tumbles foolishly and unpredictably. and it's that heart that helps me breathe, dear diary, so i can pay the bills, and show up for work, and pay attention in class, and muddle on through this messy, sparkly, haphazard thing called life.

*actual quote from the opening entry, thursday september 21, 1995


Sunday, April 17, 2005

extreme makeover, homepage edition

well, ahem, uh... i made some changes. big, pink changes. i hope you like them. i do! i've been liking pink a lot lately; i've had to impose a ban on purchasing cute pink t-shirts, i've got a pink wallet, a pink raincoat, and a pretty, pretty, pink princess diary. so why not a pink blog? exactly my sentiment.

the darling graphic at the top was done by the amazing and lovely secret agent josephine, and painstakingly re-colored and mildly modified by yours truly, giving me the chance to learn new things in good old photoshop. so, please, let's give props to secret agent jo. she rocks!

the links are now all on this page, and have, finally, been updated. i try to recipro link if i know you have me on your links, so if you're missing from the list and fall under such a category, drop me a comment. i would love to find some new blogs to add to the usual reads, just to spice things up.

and, in related bloggy type news, i have fallen madly, head-over-heels in love with flickr! i took it all the way and went "pro" so now i can show my photos with charming titles and slideshow options and all the jazz where everyone and anyone can see! so, now the photos link to your right will direct you to my flickr page. i'll be adding new and older stuff, well, all the time. so, please, check it out! flickr, i heart you!

also, in a sort of ironic move, i'm stepping up to the plate as food editor of LAist this weekend. the irony is that i've just gone back on the south beach diet, so my galloping gourmet days are behind me for now. i think i can scrounge up enough to gab about, though. stay tuned.

i guess that about sums it up. it's been nice having some time to myself this weekend to get odds and ends done and to take care of me. i think change is on the agenda in general, in an entirely good and manageable way. besides, i hear a change (or several) will do me good.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

locked jaw

i'm suffering from the standard blogger's malaise concerning inability to post. i feel a little barren in the excitement department, despite having just spent five days in the fine company of my family in vancouver (and how much do you want to hear me rhapsodize how much i adore my family? not much, judging by the painfully low comment count). what can i say? life is an awful lot about getting up and getting things done and getting myself to work-slash-school where i do a lot of the same things day in and day out.

metaphorically, i have blogger's lock-jaw. physically, my jaw isn't locked, per se, but a little hard to open thanks to two hours spent in the dentist's chair yesterday afternoon, getting four cavaties (and one being particularly stubborn and deep) drilled and filled. it was such fun (note sarcasm) to pay to be rendered numb and sore-mouthed, in the same day that i had the fun of shelling out an even larger sum to the mechanic for my car's various ailments. you see, that's thoroughly uninteresting stuff. i know it.

i don't think there's a cure for this problem, just a sort of long exhale while i refocus and see what of life's little moments sparks something in my fingertips. you guys are a tough crowd. you seem to like the smut (which was, by the by, fished out of the deep recesses of my memory bank), and you like the photos. my mother likes everything, which is pleasantly discomforting. and there's always the fun of being told at the dinner table, or in an old folks home, that aunts and cousins google you to find your writing. it's just a tad bit of pressure i feel, mixed with embarrassment and anxiety. do i write for me, or do i write for you? i don't know anymore. maybe when i figure that out my jaw will loosen and i can start gabbing again. we'll see. meanwhile it's light chewing until the ache subsides--in my mouth and on the blog. hang tight. it'll work itself out soon. it always does.


Sunday, April 10, 2005

the surprised party

we'd been giggling and plotting for weeks, with the past few days being about last minute strategizing sessions involving parking, ruses, airport pick-ups, and dinner plans. i'd neglected to call my nana back during the week, partially because one more phone call might send me over the edge into spill-the-beans territory, and also because knowing i was taking off early friday morning for vancouver meant that i had a heck of a lot more to get done during the week. late wednesday night i was packing the suitcase i'd neglected to completely unpack from my trip to new york; my friends and co-workers were laughing and shaking their heads at me: "here you are just back from vacation and you're leaving again!" and then there we were, my mother and i, on an air canada flight from LAX to YVR, ready to surprise my nana for her 75th birthday.

everything worked out perfectly. my aunt was there to pick us up, and she took us downtown to her office where we waited for nana's arrival. the plot had thickened so that she had been summoned downtown on the pretense that last-minute car trouble had left my aunt with no ride to a doctor's appointment. when she pulled up to the building my aunt climbed in the car, and moments later we snuck out of the building, threw open the backseat doors to the car, raised our cameras in her direction, and hollered "surprise!" it was priceless. "whaaaaat?" she said, shocked. she'd thought something had been up, but not this. we laughed, and exhaled--we'd pulled it off, and now it was time to get the celebration started.

it's been gorgeous dinners and champagne, old comfortable stories, flipping through photographs, everyone's digital camera flashing, curled up sleep-overs with a beloved cousin, treats and naps and singing along as we watched grease in our jammies. the rain finally started to come down this afternoon as we strolled van dusen gardens, and i goaded my cousin to think of things in terms of contrast, and meaning, and how it's more about the moment than the event itself. we took pictures of each other behind oddly shaped boughs and ghostly skeleton-like leaves. tonight it's another family dinner, where we can swap tales of the cities, and toast to an unexpected chance to be together again. and we're here til tuesday, taking some days off and having a holiday where there isn't ever one. there's more visiting and daytrips and sushi to be had. it's like christmas in april. and it's nice to be home.


Tuesday, April 05, 2005

the dirty martini shot

"i'm sure people tell you all the time how incredibly beautiful you are," he said, his eyes shining and his beautiful mouth curling into a grin.

my first thought was that it was a line. my second thought was that i didn't give a damn; if it was a line it was working, and if it was sincere i was about to be in trouble. something about a hook and a sinker, if i can recall the feeling in my knees.

"no," i finally answered.

"well, they should. and i will, then. you are incredibly beautiful."

and i was going, going...gone.

the words were out there, hanging like jewels on a long glimmering chain, ripe and sparkling and able to deftly catch and then reflect shards of sparse light in the dim and crowded room. the din was like humidity, and it pressed on me from all angles, it pushed me closer to him so i could hear his words more clearly. but like a week in the tropics coming to an end i got used to the heat and the noise and i wore it like a second skin, because as the moments were moving i was becoming increasingly aware that i was decreasingly aware that there was anyone else in the room besides us two.

he laughed with such abandon, where his smile overtook his face and he tossed his head back, like he had to catch the moment as it fell from the sky. i was making him laugh. i was coxing his grin to peer out of each corner of his mouth. the small of my back could still feel the gentle pressure of his hand as he'd guided me through the door and helped me navigate the room.

there was a story about breakfast, and the perfect omlette. there were drinks, slick insides of emptied glasses coated with the last remaining drops of sticky liquor. soon we were coating the sticky vinyl seats of a vacated booth, down to one drink between us and even fewer inches of space. the sounds and bodies around us had somehow melted into white noise, the fuzzy background or the choreographed noiselessness of movie set extras. they were extras in this scene. i felt as beautiful as i'd been deemed. i was ready to hear someone call 'action!'

his lips were as delicious as they looked. i'd always wanted to taste a dirty martini.


Monday, April 04, 2005

nothing but mine

it ocurred to me today that maybe i'm the only person who holds a special place in their heart for the episode of cheers where rebecca dreams she spends a romantic night with sam. or one of the few for whom bob seger's "old time rock n'roll" means flashbacks to crowded makeshift dancefloors in the dining hall of camp winnebagoe. and have i mentioned my impossibly adorable new pink shoes? or the way that i get painfully shy when i'm around people i admire, even if i see them almost every day, but especially if i'm in their beautiful downtown condo, sipping wine, and choking on small talk? i'm a little messier than i want to be, and i don't mean to be so cynical about first kiss stories, and those pink shoes--well, i'm training myself to put them away in their box as soon as i step out of them. and there's the katharine hepburn movies, and the idiot-savant kind of trivia i've amassed about laura ingalls wilder, or the manson murders, or certain periods of english literature. there are all these shades and colors and quirks and things about me that might not mean that i live the biggest, funniest, most adventurous kind of life, but that, all things considered, it is my life. i have a catalogue of memories and snapshots of moments, from the most painful talent show performances to the most delicious romantic encounters. i can feel the weight of a hand holding mine, even though the task gets harder as the years pass by, and i can only believe that i will feel it again. those murky and awkward episodes from season two of sex and the city remind me that our lives--my life--are about little journeys, and progression, and the moments we gather along the way. a shoebox of another variety to collect scraps in, i suppose. and this burden of entertainment--it's mostly invention, and an excuse to hide from myself a little more. did i tell you that lately i'm more concerned with safety? with saving myself from feeling anything out of the fear that it might hurt. i'm in the shoebox. i'm on the dancefloor in the gymnasium and as soon as "pour some sugar on me" ends it's going to be a slow one, and i'm going to drift off to the side and help hold up the walls. i'm going to be afraid of the plus guest clause. i'm going to say "i'm fabulous" through gritted teeth. and at the end of the night i'm going to come home from whatever kind of adventure i can get myself on, and i'm going to put those shoes in the box as soon as i kick them off my tired feet. and i'll watch a rerun at will, and say goodnight to the goddamn bear, and it's going to be fine. because for this part of my journey i've got to go it alone. and someday, i can tell you all about the time i got to talk about that episode of cheers and why it means so much to me. someday.


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