Tuesday, June 28, 2005

exploiting the words to picture ratio

Originally uploaded by sassylittlepunkin.
i'm struggling with this whole "free time" thing. it's hard to fill it with "free things," particularly when there's little motivation to get up and out of the pleasantly air conditioned house. ennui set in early for me; i've been so busy-busy-busy in recent days, weeks, months, that long stretches of unoccupied time is for me something worse than the devil's workshop, or whatever that saying is. all the be-devilment is sapped out of me. things get particularly ugly when i've already done most of my reading for class, have finished watching the latest batch of netflix pics (bridget jones: edge of reason = awful terrible, being julia = pretty good), and gone so far as to scrub, clean, and disinfect the bathroom. yesterday afternoon i put a call in to bunny. it went something like this:

"i'm boooooored!" (this came out like a whine, and as soon as it escaped my lips i thought 'ohmygod, that was awful, i don't even like myself now for saying that, specifically for saying it like that.'

but bunny was a sport. "i figured that might happen," she replied. "i'll be there in an hour."

about an hour later we were descending into the red line subway station, off on an afternoon adventure. "you got your camera?" she checked with me. oh, yes, i did. we roamed downtown a little bit. we discovered we were too early for the bbq and beer garden on the rooftop of the new otani hotel (we'll hit that up another time), so we continued on to olvera street. it was a gorgeous, breezy, clear, sunny day. i took tons of great shots, and we tucked into some dinner at one of the many eateries in this little historic corridor. one margarita later, and we were back on the train. we hopped off at hollywood & highland, and ran smack into a melee typical of why i hate hollywood. one was the special fan screening premiere event for war of the worlds and the other was the taping of some b.e.t. music video show. that place was hopping with frenzied fans and bewildered tourists. peeking through a sliver of window from inside a store we caught a glimpse of david hasselhof (now i can die happy) (just kidding). we missed the tom and katie show--we'd long realized that this was not the place for us. so back underground we went, zooming northward back to my corner of the city. it was a nice time. it cured the ennui, that's for sure. thank god for great friends. even better, thank god for great friends who owe you a few bucks and bring down their tab by taking you to dinner. and thank god for flickr, where you can see the photos of our adventures!

(pictured is me, in reflection, at this curious public art installation that is meant to represent the function of the 911 system.)


Sunday, June 26, 2005

sassy little pancake

pancakes, stacked
originally uploaded by sassylittlepunkin.
my housemate angel bunny has taken to calling me "pancake" instead of "punkin" because i got a bee in my bonnet lately about making pancakes from scratch. it happened while i was having an a.m. IM chat with foxy and there's been no turning back. this weekend it went so far as my making a photo documentary about the experience. i'm not bored, really, i swear. okay, maybe a little. summer classes just started, and i'm a little wound up about the fact that my class meets saturday mornings, but also a little delighted that there's only four of us in there. it's going to make for some very interesting saturday mornings. i'm liking, but not loving, the summer so far. i'm juggling so many projects and endeavors and trying to watch my pennies because i won't see a cent from financial aid until the fall, and the past few months have seen some big expenditures (car repairs, dental work, and, of course, some fun things, too). so i'm living for my moonlighting dvds, getting together with the fabulous LAist crew (and the perks this gig is starting to bring me!), my secret crush, the occasional festive gathering, flickr, a more kick-back work environment, my independent study course on autobiography, becoming a better photographer, fun free things to do, air conditioning, "knit two, brute?"'s addition of the reading classic books element, pictures of laurie's gorgeous baby, wearing skirts with bare legs and flip flops, the newly re-opened gym in my building, netflix, and, apparently, pancakes.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

in and out of touch

there's a crutch i've been leaning on lately--it's a knee-jerk response that is born from truth, but can only hold me up for so long. "i've been busy!" i say in reply, in protest, as precaution. and i have been. my little moleskine datebook is brimming with places to be and schedules for working, teaching, meeting, planning, writing. my down time is decidedly down because of the obvious lack of activity it implies. but ultimately, i've struggled recently with the idea of being in, or out, of touch with people.

some people in my life use this very page as their crutch to lean on, to give them an avenue into my life. this is frustrating, because what i write here represents one small fraction of who i am and what i do. am i uncensored? not by a long shot. in fact, i am the very definition of censored. i censor myself. my desire to be anonymous is ursurped by my love of attention; it's a vacuum i created and now fight with on a regular basis. it's why i don't post as frequently as i used to. it's why things are often more vague than perhaps a reader might like. at a certain point i felt more of a need to be in control of the information i was putting out there. the "what ifs" took over for the "so whats" that had been my guiding force when things first started out. and the changes have been good, for the most part. what i put out here is crafted, thought out, the product of my continued focus and ongoing education. what i put out, i'm proud of.

and then something happens like what happened last week. people have been wondering where my comments went. no, it's not a browser or server problem. no, there's nothing wrong with my code. i had to take them out, because someone was leaving hurtful, rude, cruel comments. a (presumable) stranger. and i know i can't please everyone. and i know they are the loser for being so decidedly lame and having nothing better or nicer to do than to insult someone they know only a sliver about. they had the gall to call me "rude" for deleting their comments. and much like the jackhole who tried to steal the tv set in my apartment building's new gym last week, this one person ruined it for everyone. they almost ruined it for me.

i am, like so many of us are, my own worst critic. i can build myself up and then knock myself down in a heartbeat. i can make myself feel horribly about the way i look, the choice i make, the failures in my life (that number fewer, but far, far outweigh the successes--isn't that a bitch?), everything i don't have and can't seem to get. i don't need anyone else to do that for me. i know in some areas of my life i've dropped the ball, or i've contributed to the failure. i own my failures. i own my mistakes. isn't it billy joel who sings a song about our mistakes being the only things we can truly call our own? and i am not perfect. the cruel of word and heart will nod emphatically, and think of some witty taunt about my appearance, or some manner in which i've let them down. everyone else, i hope, will simply recognize themselves in my words. no one is perfect.

i like to share my accomplishments with the people in my life. i have some really important, strong relationships with family and friends, and some that i want and need to tend to, cultivate, repair. i want to shout loudly all the great, great things i've done and achieved in the hopes that by sheer volume, i can move beyond the quieter, more piercing moments of feeling inadequate, unattractive, or unsuccessful. i am doing wonderful things with my life. i am frequently in the company of smart, talented, loving, funny, interesting people who bring so much to my daily life. i am healthy. i am beautiful--not to everyone, but to some, and, more importantly, to myself. i am extremely bright. i am talented. i am going places i never dreamed possible. i am passing goal marks on this incredible journey.

and what happens is sometimes i lose sight of the little things. many a phone call goes unreturned, many an email unanswered. because, like in all arenas of my life, i don't want to do it half-assed. and then i am swept away in the thrilling tide of deadlines! events! assignments! relaxation! dinner!... and i'm out of touch again. i'm here, typing out small pieces that come from complex places in my heart and head. i am not, as someone recently assessed, brutally honest and baring it all. not even half of it. not even some of it. and i refuse to write something that is routine, or diary like. dear world, this is what i had for breakfast. this is what movie i saw. this is who i saw it with.

i write everyday. i have to, or i will go insane. i have a handful of writing projects i'm tied to on a regular basis, including ones to which i've obligated myself, like here. this is a forum. this is an exercise. this is a style unto itself. this is a part of me. and for many of you, this is more than enough. this is plenty. this may even be too much. but this isn't a phone call. it's not a letter. it's not where i'm going to tell you the name of the award i've just been given, or explain the essay project, the book assignment, or the prestigious academic grant i've been given. hell, i don't even use people's real names. i don't even admit my feelings here. it's a form of the truth. it's full of mistakes.

and i can call it truly my own. and if you want to talk to me...you can call me.


Friday, June 17, 2005

pig lover's plates as cosmic sign

earlier this week i had a non-date drinks and movie date (the kind of platonic get-together that you call a date because it was planned and occupies a wedge of space in your date book) with a new-ish friend. it was an afternoon non-date date, which makes it even less than a date, and more like a non-date, because single women such as myself often convene with pals for a lunch date, but rarely for a dinner date. really i'm just talking myself out of calling it a date because it was so painfully dutch, in fact, that i ought to have braided my hair and worn wooden shoes.

semantics aside, i've taken to thinking of the afternoon in its post-op exam as having been heralded with a cosmic sign. the sign is needling me to believe that there is a glimmer of real date-date hope for me and my new friend, because i'm the kind of girl who not only calls non-dates dates, but also believes in signs.

the sign revealed itself as follows:

upon arriving at non-date date destination, i went into the underground parking lot and was following through the aisles in search of a spot behind a silver passat with the oddball personalized plate "i (heart) pork." this baffled me. who likes the other white meat so much that they declare it on a license plate? or was pork a euphemism for something else? it was a real head-scratcher. i thought about snapping a picture, but i was running late, so i headed up to meet my date. (you see, i called him my date.) on our way out, after the drinks, after the movie, my date (i did it again!) asked me where i was parked. oh no! "down," i said somewhat feebly, pointing to the tiled ground of the high-end glamorized mall where we'd spent our time. i hadn't paid attention, because my mind was divided on two tasks: one was the pig fan's plate, the other was remembering that this was a non-date! "i know i'm parked by a silver passat with a plate that says "i (heart) pork."

"it says what?" he asked.

"i (heart) pork," i repeated.

we found my car, and we parted.

two mornings later i merged onto the freeway, headed for work. i was praying there wouldn't be any traffic, because i was already running dangerously late. things seemed pretty clear--cars were moving steadily on all sides of me, including a...

yes. there it was. in a city of something like 9 million people, and almost as many cars, and about twenty miles from another side of town's fancy outdoor mall with underground parking, the car that had just moved past me was none other than a silver passat. with a license plate that read...

i (heart) pork.

coincidence? part of me feels like i'm grasping at crispy strips of bacon here--do cosmic signs come disguised as vanity plates? am i applying the sign to the right aspect of my life--that being the non-date date and its potential for being a future date-date scenario? part of me wants to believe. and of course there remains that one part of me that just wants to know what the hell "i (heart) pork" means.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

relationship recovery

i've initiated a stopping maneuver to my girl-gone-wild routine. i've curtailed my smart-girl sleaze routine and brought the curtain down on my recent foray into heavy petting thinly disguised as hectic pseudo-dating. i've reined myself in. and, despite the slightly calmer nights (and the occasional afternoon) alone, it's like one enormous exhale. i was my own prisoner, and, thank god almighty, i'm free at last.

the transition back to my smart-girl flirt routine has not been entirely seamless, however. i've had to break the news to a handful of gentlemen callers overzealous pigs that i'm no longer interested in what they have to offer. i took a slightly different tact with each one, though all the brush-offs featured the truth as the spotlight attraction. there was the polite decline. there was the keepin' it real. there was the text message shorthanded blunt. there was the strategic debate. and, like that, the truths had set me free.

but what all these actions and the dire necessity thereof signaled for me was a need to see that i wasn't doing what i wanted to be doing. hell, i wasn't even doing what i needed to be doing. in the battle of my heart versus my behavior, i had become my very own prisoner of war. there i was, like lady macbeth, protesting too much: "oh, no, i don't want a relationship" and "i'm fine with excruciatingly casual hookups with no strings." and that's when i realized i wasn't telling the truth, to myself or to them. and that had to change. i was ready for a jailbreak.

if admitting your problem is the first step to recovery, i must make this admission: i want strings. not a ball and chain, but a little committment, please. i'm not husband hunting, or looking for a baby-daddy. but i want a relationship.

there now. that didn't hurt so much. let's hope this truth will set me free.


Monday, June 13, 2005

the me-kend

i knew towards the end of last week that a portion of my weekend was going to be spent in self-imposed activity-less isolation. by friday afternoon i knew i'd made the right decision. after a long and fairly heinous work of weeking extra and out-of-the norm hours with angsty, volatile, stressed out procrastinators, by friday afternoon's "knit two, brute?" meeting i was struggling to remain upright with my eyes open. not a stitch was knitted, however, because we had a special guest-starring mom from the east coast who was helping my fellow knitters prepare for their graduation the following day. so it was snack food and chattering, and a quiet night at home that i think i remained awake for a portion of, but i offer no guarantees.

i'd padded saturday as my me-time--a great big, long, cushiony day for myself spent by myself. i don't think i got out of my jammies. i know i didn't leave the house (even when a little boredom crept in). i turned down invites to breakfast, brunch, and lunch in favor of me, myself, and i. i caught up on my netflix movies. i did a little blogging and blog reading. i tidied up some messes. i started to study for the gre in literature. i had long phone chats with long-distance gal-pals. i got deep into organizing and modifying all the music files in my itunes. i lay on the floor, stared at the ceiling, and realized that for all the times in the past few weeks that i would think "egads, i wish i were at home doing nothing instead of having to be/do/work on __________!" this was my moment of being at home doing nothing, and i was having a love/hate relationship with my moment, because i've come to do better with lots on the agenda, and to realize the nothing to do (well, without cable tv) can be kind of dull.

ah, but then there was sunday, which was anything but dull. i accompanied some darling men-friends to the 35th annual gay pride parade and festival in west hollywood. (my more detailed write up is here, on LAist). it was a long, hot, feet-aching day with tons of walking, outrageous things and people to look at, barely dressed men, and plenty of photo opportunities (pictures are here).

so it wasn't all about me, but it was definitely my time. i needed that, and i'm glad i took it. now, what to do with all these extra summer break days off this week...


Saturday, June 11, 2005

the reader and her books

well, what do you know? i got tagged over at coffee table declarations for the books meme that's floating around, and because i'm a bookish girl, i'm more than happy to answer. i think, though, that the meme-ing will come to an end with me, because, much like chain letters of days gone by (or those awful email "pass this on to 9 friends or you will be deemed a horrible person and failure as a friend" games) i will happily answer the questions, but not pass them on. unless, that is, you're itching, yearning, hankering to answer, in that case, i pass it to you!

you're stuck inside fahrenheit 451, which book do you save?

i guess i would have to act selfishly, and save my favorite book, which is betty smith's a tree grows in brooklyn. preferrably my own beloved copy that i've had since i was ten, although i do also have the new edition with some critical material included, and that might be a good edition to save.

have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
i can honestly say no, i haven't. however, i have frequently wanted to be much like characters i encounter in fiction or non-fiction. traits, experiences, attributes, etc.

the last book you bought is:
if we're going to be absolutely techinical, i ordered two books for my medieval drama class that i'm taking over the summer, the york mystery plays, and the cambridge companion to medieval english theatre. i know, snore! (actually, i like medieval literature, but these titles make for a rather dreary answer.)

the last book you read is:

i've just finished bee season by myla goldberg. i started to get frustrated with the storyline about halfway through, and found it to be a tad bit predictable, but still felt compelled to finish it. before that, i tore through alice sebold's memoir lucky, which i enjoyed as much as i felt i could, considering the subject matter (her rape). i've also just read meg wolitzer's novel the wife, which was a good read. i became really interested in wolitzer after reading her latest, the position, and then getting caught up in her surrender, dorothy. oh, and i have to give amy krouse rosenthal's encyclopedia of an ordinary life a great big shout out, because it was so wonderful, delightful, and unique, and she's the cool kind of author that will write you back a little email if you post a thank you comment on her book's site. anyhow, i haven't had the luxury of reading for leisure in quite some time, so lately i've been really soaking it up, although i do have a sense of guilt for not forcing myself to read more classic literature, in preparation for the gre exam in the fall.

what are you currently reading?

this is a funny question, because since i finished bee season last night, i haven't felt drawn to another book (i have to really feel a need to read a particular book, and can't just pick up any old one, you see). i've recently started alix kates shulman's drinking the rain, the letters of abelard and heloise, and eliot's daniel deronda, but haven't felt i could devour them as much as the ones mentioned in the previous question. i am utterly surrounded by books, though, so i don't fear that i'll go without words for long. i just have to take a good hard look at my bookcases and pull something out that catches my fancy right now. by rights i should be getting into the fourth genre, which is a book of and about creative non-fiction, and was suggested by my adviser to help me out this summer for my independent study course in writing autobiography (did i mention i love graduate school?). i also need to be looking at some works by marguerite duras, because i will be writing entries on her and her works for a compendium that will be published next year. i definitely have no lack of options here.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

a tree grows in north hollywood

when i came home last night, i noticed that the new owners had cut back our beautiful trees. this happens--not quite seasonally, but whenever the building changes owners, which has been about once a year now for the past couple of years. we mark the arrival of spring by the leafy greens bursting from the branches of the particular tree that fronts our apartment, and shades our balconies from the sun and noise. when they cut the tree back, it's a loss to us--we feel a little less blanketed, a lot less in touch with the natural world. it's kind of sad.

it reminds me a lot of my all time favorite book, which i have a habit of reading once a year (although, granted, i have not had the time to do so in a couple of years). and i understand that sometimes one tree can be a touchstone, and a marker of progress, of nature overcoming the harshness of an urban environment. i don't know; sometimes i just need to feel that connection.

yesterday was a strange day, full of ripples and motion that i had not anticipated. i was cresting on the downturn of one such wave when i paced my balcony, feeling a little more bare and vulnerable without those swishing branches there. i was riding on the sense that i was a lot less like who i wanted to be--that no matter what great, beautiful, wonderful things i accomplished or took part in or achieved, that, at the end of the day, it just wasn't enough. maybe because i'd spent a portion of my afternoon in the tree-canopied shade of a friend's garden, trying to explain the thin veil of depression that often shrouds me, and the way that every action or moment in my life had a dark underbelly of sadness or self-doubt. it was making her sad to hear me talk about it, and it was making me melancholy. my anectodes still tumbled out like witty marbles, punctuated with impersonations and lines that could make someone laugh so hard their sides hurt. i know that i am a storyteller. i know myself.

what's missing at times, though, is feeling happy with myself. little things remind me of what's not right about me, or what is undesirable, unloveable, unwanted. it's all so familiar, like the dog-eared pages of my childhood copy of a tree grows in brooklyn. there are passages in my life, too, that are underlined in childish purple pencil, standing out in my heart's memory book. i can categorize: these are the moments when it was okay to be happy, and these are the moments of rejection. rejection always trumps happiness. it's the underside to everything; it's the dark shade beneath every tree's sun-baked leaves and branches.

yesterday evening, without the tree to shade my spot, i could crane my neck a little more easily, as i waited for the slow-paced mailman to deliver what could potentially be great news. when he finally came it was like the rain that brought an end to the drought; it truly was the cherry on the cake of my day. i had accomplished something again, something major, and significant, enough to warrant phone calls to family members and hugs and whoops of joy around the house. i rode the upturned wave through the evening, and into the night.

but i woke up this morning alone again, and when i looked outside, i remembered that our tree had been cut back.


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

outbox angst

the following is an actual email i sent out today that hints at the horrors of tutoring for all the jackholes who leave their work to the very last moment and come in all riled up and in dire need of proofreading (and get more riled up when i tell them we don't proofread) during finals week. basically, this encapsulates all the frustration i am experiencing in my job this week, and goes nicely with my idea that we rename "financial aid" to "financial hassle" because, really, no one in that department is doing any goddamn aiding.

Date: Tue, 7 Jun 2005 17:08:43 -0700 (PDT)
From: sassylittlepunkin
Subject: the solution to my problem
To: person without clever blog nickname

i've decided that the solution to my problem (the problem of tutoring, that is, not my sluttiness problem) is that i can only tutor people who write papers on movies i really, really like, such as annie hall. i think what i'll do is ask them before they sit down: "what is this paper about?" and if they say "earnings management in accounting" i will politely tell them to fuck off. but if they say "how woody allen invents a new genre of romantic comedy in annie hall" i will say "sit down, and let's talk about diane keaton and how great she is." *

problem solved.

calgon, take me away!

*i did actually just tutor someone on a paper they wrote about annie hall.



Friday, June 03, 2005

of cookies and men

i've been so exhausted this week, thanks to wearing my feet ragged on the hills of san francisco last weekend, then launching full steam ahead into the last week of classes for the spring quarter, which means big big things are due in a big big way. at the end of the day all i want to do is to curl up under the covers with my laptop and an episode of fat actress on dvd, and at the end of the day, that's what i'll do. memorial monday was about boys, past and present, live and in memory, but now, on friday, i've opted to postpone a date scheduled for tonight because i'm too tired to shave my legs and i'd rather spend the late afternoon knitting with the gals of "knit two, brute?" than fussing over what to wear and how to smell my best. also, i've had to confess to my closest cohorts this week that my heart's tide is turning, and that i might forgo all these fumbling fellas in favor of someone that i've had a crush on for about ten weeks now. (no, he's not my teacher.) do you believe it? i actually like someone who isn't (as far as i know) blatantly bad for me? i like him so much, in fact, that i don't want to ask him out. but he's super cute, super smart, super sweet, super single, and super duper. and here i am, super shy. go figure. so while i'm working away on my last big project of the quarter, i can pause to think of him. and then i can eat a cookie. because i baked cookies this week, in an odd outburst of domesticity, i kept a promise to bring homemade cookies to an in-class potluck, and they're mighty tasty. if i'd have planned it better, i could have given my crush a cookie. but i was too tired to think of that.


Site Meter