Sunday, July 31, 2005

i'll settle for temperate

a dear friend of mine reminded me this weekend that in life we have really great times, and then it turns to shit for awhile. i whined a little in response, something surely along the lines of "but i'm so sick of the shit sometimes!" he suggested that perhaps i am just one of those people that will always have this dichotomy to grapple with, and while, gratefully, he lumped himself in the same category--leaving me happily not alone on the roller coaster--i'd like to think perhaps that there might be a time in the future when i figure things out and hold steady awhile.

much earlier this week, someone who can stir up in me shades of misappropriated and unrequited passion, told me an anectode about the linguistic and scientific impossibility of being considered both "cool" and "hot." incidentally, he claims to be neither, and, for politeness' sake, i suggested he was temperate, though, truth be told, he and i both know he's, well, both. you see, it's possible to be both.

so i propose that somehow, in a move that may seem defiant of the odds and circumstances, that even though things are kind of shit right now, i'm having a great time. there are things that i do that are really right, and that bring me tremendous satisfaction. i'm good at the witty repartee, and playful with my words. i know my chicken. i make do. i get by. i dance under the stars. i drink in the colors with my eyes and with my lens. i filter. i get my rest. i meet my deadlines. and i laugh. i'd be sunk if i didn't.

the truth of the matter is, life is funny. some sunday afternoon you can be freezing your ass off in the middle of summer, inside a movie theatre with two of your oldest friends and a few dozen other people who've never been in your kitchen, and see your street in a movie. somedays there's ice cream to be eaten. there are emails, encounters, episodes, and epilogues. there's the faint, but optimistic notion of "happily ever after" and the feeling that you are, despite all your efforts to convince yourself otherwise, quite lovely. there's the delayed reaction of strangers reading your words--not here on the screen, but in their hands, on the pages of a quiet little hot pink book. there are strangers who, in essence, associate you with being "hott."

these days, though, i'll settle for temperate.


Friday, July 29, 2005

invoking the "it's always something!" clause

a few months ago my car's transmission was sentenced with a chronic condition that would ultimately result in its demise. yesterday was, i do believe, its expiration date. as i was driving to work i realized it just couldn't make it out of first gear. i could barely get to 50 mph and the engine was, as they say, crankin'--out towards the red zone on the tachometer. and, oh, the sad, straining noises it was making. so i eased it back down the lovely tree-lined streets and around the bend and into its parking spot in my apartment building's garage. and i hopped out, tried ever so hard not to look backwards, and walked out in the midday sun towards the red line subway station, somewhat heavy hearted. the price tag on a rebuilt transmission for my car is sky-high. more than what i'll have to spare at any one given time. more than what is probably a good idea to invest in a car that's almost 10 years old.

so i'm at a sort of crossroads here. a crossroads that has me riding the rails and the bus in a public-transit unfriendly city. hey, i've done it before, and it's not such a big deal. well, it's not a big deal going to school; in fact, it's kind of nice to not have to sit in traffic, to have the ride time to read and listen to my ipod, to let someone else do the driving and worry about the price of gas. but going anywhere else...ugh. and i'm not complaining, really. (okay, maybe just a little...waaah!) i'm grateful for all the wonderful things i have and am able to do. i just can't fathom spending the next year car-less in a car-town. notice i say next year. this is all making the case for moving elsewhere for my phd years (as in somewhere with decent public transit, i.e. the bay area or new york) much stronger.

oh, and why can't i just go buy another car? even trade in my old one for a more functional old one and make some payments? remember this? times two? yeah. they don't give car loans, or credit cards to those kinds of people. and i'm a kind of people.

but i can buy a bus pass! sweet! i just pretend i'm in san francisco (where i LOVE to ride the transit, seriously--why don't i LOVE it at home?) or new york, minus the random bag searches. and thankfully i don't have to head down to work in the shadier part of town, where little old ladies get shot at bus stops, like i used to. so it's not so bad, right? i bet all of our parents had to walk three miles uphill in the snow carrying bags full of books everyday, right?

it's all good. i will survive, and all that jazz. but, man... can't a girl get some good luck? but it's always something...


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

love for the -ists

forbes loves the gothamist/ist sites! what a proud LAist writer i am!


Monday, July 25, 2005

bagged lady

the other day i spent a ridiculous and embarrassing amount of time going through the latest photo posts to the flickr group "what's in my bag." i did so thinking, "hey...i have a bag full of crap, too!" and so, right before i headed out the door this afternoon, i emptied the contents of my trusty guess black handbag, arranged them in neat rows on my blanket, and snagged this photo. if you click on the photo you will be led by the magic goodness that is the world wide web to its home on my flickr photostream, and you can delight in the 18 copious notes i created in order to explain all the various and sundry items that i stash in my purse on any given day. my next task will be to empty out the enormous tortoise shell shoulder bag that i use as my campus carry-all, which is often jammed with books, notes, paperclips, pens, plastic cutlery, uneaten string cheese packets, unopened mail, magazines, tutor review sheets, gum wrappers, business cards, occasionally my ibook, my lunch, and frequently this same black purse, along for the ride. but, really, that's another day's project. so, what's in your bag?


Sunday, July 24, 2005

the not so fresh feeling

the heat is just an excuse, really. it's a convenient security blanket of explanation that i can just grab on to and cuddle up under, all bundled and safe from scrutiny. in reality, i can take the heat. realistically, i'm indoors in well air-conditioned spaces most of the time, anyhow, so the heat is this intangible concept that bears down on the outside world all day. sure, it's a humid heat. sure, it makes correcting my driver's arm tan a little difficult. but i can take it.

what i can't take is the dryness. not in the air, not of my body, but of my (oh, dear god, am i going to say this?) soul. i actually told someone the other day that i felt like i had no soul. not in a sort of evil dark character way--that's not my style, and i'd rather eat my own arm than read a harry potter book--but in a sad-sack sort of way. the ho-hums. the ennui, the malaise, and all those affective disorders the french have names for. not to be confused with "that certain je-ne-sais-quoi" which is simply an oxymoron. but sadness, yes. i've got it in spades.

so the next struggle is to explain why. why am i so sad? what's the matter? and it's not enough to say "i don't know." which is predominantly the truth--i really don't know. it's not like i woke up on the first day of summer and said, hey, now, you can pick between happy and sad, what's it gonna be? and there's me, scratching my head, playing pro and con for each side, and finally pointing at the sad card, saying, yes, that's my final answer. i want to be sad. i want to feel like i have no spark. i want to lie around and let tasks i need to do pile up. i want to put my hand in a stale bag of cool ranch doritos and bring them to my mouth and chew and swallow and ride on the bloaty wave of false comfort. i want to cry on a thursday night, triggered by something as trivial as an email. i want to spend my days feeling like i'm fighting demons with passivity, just sort of closing my eyes and lolling my head off to the side in lazy deference. okay, fellas, you win. i'm too tired to fight.

and the tired...the rampant tiredness that tugs at my eyelids day in and day out. the feeling of never being fully rested, but having gotten a full night's sleep. this then exacerbates the "i don't wannas," which i get a fresh case of almost daily: i don't wanna teach my workshop, i don't wanna go to work, i don't wanna read that book, i don't wanna send that email, i don't wanna talk to so-and-so, i don't wanna tutor that student. oh, the list is endless. there is no limit to the list of things i don't wanna do. some of them i just can't. like write something creative; i just don't have it in me. some independent study student i am. i'm utterly impotent in that department. i can't get it up. i feel nothing. i feel like a void. i feel like avoiding it altogether.

oh, so why? right. you, and everyone else, were asking why. and "i don't know" won't do it. can i offer you the burden of indecision about my future? can i suggest a need for decreased spending? how about feelings of inadequacy? or of being caught in a sort of down-cycle where i don't feel capable of making healthy decisions for myself, therefore i eat the wrong foods, feel like doing very little, thereby bringing on feelings of unattractiveness, laziness, exhaustion, and failure? maybe i've just sort of misplaced my sparkle? maybe i expect too much of myself? perhaps i've turned a molehill into my own mountain, and each day i set out like sisyphus, trying to shove that freaking rock upwards. look, there i go. hamster in a cage, spinning madly on her wheel. that's me.

the truth is, i don't think there's an answer for this question, just a sort of salve of consolation--that it will pass, and i will feel better again--and that when i least expect it, i will feel compelled to come out from hiding, to come out and play, and to see that things are fine. and i do play, in fits and starts, and i do laugh, with my cohorts at work and on the phone with some of my favorite people. and i get things done. i just feel a little numb. i feel not so fresh. and for now, that's reason enough.


Monday, July 18, 2005

high anxiety

for the first time in recent history, i'm grappling with the kind of big choices that have every potential to have huge impacts in varying degrees on the rest of my life. i'm not used to those kinds of decisions. i'm not sure what to do with those kinds of decisions. i'm glad i don't have to make them in the immediate future, but, rather, in the not so distant future. not years, but months. and they're out there, looming, lurking, lying in wait for me. and i'm quietly freaking out.

people are starting to ask me things like: "where are you going to go for your phd?" and "what are you going to focus on in your studies?" the only one i can handle is "what are you going to do with your phd?" (the answer to that one is: be a professor and a writer. whew. that was, oddly enough, an easy one.) but where? and what? um, yeah. not sure.

well, i have some idea, mind you. i know i'm not going to live in just any city, and i know i'm not going to study math or science or computers or medicine or law. i mean, i've got it narrowed down to one discipline (english, literature specifically) and three cities (los angeles, new york, and vancouver). but it's not narrow enough. i get grilled regularly with "what period of literature? american? british? contemporary? why not creative writing? why not composition?" well, okay. the why nots i can handle. why not creative writing? well, there's only about a half dozen schools in the u.s. that offer a phd in creative writing, only one of which is in a place i could tolerate living (i know that because i already live here). also, those programs, because there are so few, are cutthroat competitive, and i can't play that game. and, most importantly, i honestly don't feel like my employment opportunities would be that great with that degree. a masters in creative writing is plenty for me. i've got my chops. and why not composition? because pedagogy doesn't thrill me. because the idea of teaching basic composition for the rest of my life renders me numb. i'm just not in to it. fine? okay.

so what genre? well, again, i know the ones i don't want. i don't want victorian, early american, world lit, etc. i'm torn between contemporary and medieval, if you'll believe it. what an odd cross-roads. and i know i need a program that will be looser with me; one that will let me look at issues of the creative along with the critical (which points to contemporary) but, my goodness, do i love medieval lit or what? i'm knee-deep in it right now, and i'm in heaven. middle english gives me a thrill. i love looking at depictions of women--iconic, hagiographic, secular, etc. i love looking at prostitutes, common women, wives, saints. i'm smart enough to not look at them as a reactionary feminist scholar would; the modern standars just aren't applicable. but what do i want to teach? what do i want to be tested in for all those qualifying exams? what will fuel my fire three, five, ten, twenty years from now?

i don't know.

geographically, i've got l.a., nyc, and vancouver. all cities in which i've lived before, or do so now. l.a. is one kind of home base; it's the old familiar, it's the high school and college roots, it's the longtime friendships and solid comfort...but can i stay here? nyc is the thrilling place of my secret cosmopolitan fantasies; it's the pace, it's the romance, it's the ultimate city, it's my urban crush...but can i live there? vancouver is my birthplace, where most of my family lives, it's my canadian culture (yes, there is such a thing) that i'm bonded too on a such a deep and fundamental level...but can i live there?

i don't know.

i know who accepts me next spring, and what kind of monies they offer, and my life situation at the time will help dictate my choice. i know it will be how it's meant to be. i only wish that right now it weren't all so daunting. i'm not used to uncertainty. i like to know. i want to know.

but right now... i don't know.


Thursday, July 14, 2005

lay it on the one

it's not all fun and games around here, i assure you. there's getting up earlier than necessary in order to drink coffee and play the writer and get stuff up daily on LAist (which is where, admittedly, i'm doing the bulk of my writing these days). there are mornings when all that great writing is done and it's time to shower for work and lo and behold the water has been shut off in the building without warning, and the new building manager doesn't seem to care to return your phone messages, even to apologize after the fact, just as a courtesy. there's digesting the news that my wonderful, darling, beloved boss is leaving her job next month; while this is great for her career and your non-professional friendship, it's just plain sucky for the coming year of work. there are people i'm on the fence about. there's the fact that i just can't seem to remember on any given day that i have phone calls to return, emails to send, or impending deadlines to meet. there's the fact that the instrument panel on my car's dashboard has gone haywire. and it's generally too freakin' hot out.

of course, there is plenty of fun happening too. there's gab sessions with pals. there's our central air conditioning keeping us cool at home. there's outings, like the other night to downtown's new otani hotel rooftop beer garden. there's home-made bastille day celebrating. there's the fun of tapping into what it means to be a foodie in l.a., thanks to my LAist gig. there are my new--first ever!--business cards. and there's the fun of getting a gratis drumming lesson with my co-workers after a long day at work. sometimes, in the thick of summer, it's all about the little things.


Monday, July 11, 2005

monday is the new sunday

Maria card
Originally uploaded by sassylittlepunkin.
since i have to go to school saturdays, my weekend is techinically sunday-monday. ergo, monday is the new sunday. for me at least. and isn't me what this is all about? i could regale you with tales of silly celebration, delicious eats, and ridiculous and wine-soaked entertainment, but i'm still in my jammies, ready to scrounge up something snack worthy from the kitchen, and my sims are waiting. i love the weekend.


Friday, July 08, 2005

dreamlife of the ordinary

lately i've been having these really annoyingly realistic dreams that are a slap in the face to the stereotype of dreams as romantic escapist fare that transports you to some magical other world. i wake up annoyed. i wake up with headaches. i wake up bitter and resentful that my nightly opportunity to live a borrowed, more adventurous, more scandalous, more thrilling life than my own has been so rudely snatched away from me and replaced with little misadventures in the mundane that nag at me in my waking hours.

case in point would be the triptych of a few nights ago that played out like nightmares but were really quite ordinary: car trouble, being a high-class hooker who spent her rent money on a hotel room for the night, and one more that i can't remember right now, but trust me, it was annoying. i dream about teaching writing workshops, which i can't escape in my daily routine. i dream about wolfgang puck's restaurant vert being named the best restaurant in los angeles (which, if you have even the slightest understanding of the l.a. food scene you know this would never happen, but the fact that this needles me in my sleep is disturbing). i dream about posts for LAist. i dream about helping ashley and her (now fictional but once real) dog move. i dream about such routine, everyday things that, were i not so tired every night, i'd want to swear off sleep because it's no longer enjoyable. of course that's not an option.

who came up with that "sweet dreams!" shit, anyhow? lies.


Thursday, July 07, 2005

speak of the midget

it's not really a specific midget that i have in mind here, but just the general principle that if you spend any length of time discussing midgets, one will eventually cross your path. it happened this week at work, and i'm sure it's bound to happen again. that's just the way these things are.

there are circumstances and events that we try to bring about in our lives through talking about them; let's say i bend my friends' and co-worker's ears endlessly about my current not-so-secret crush. i'll ask advice, i'll tirelessly ponder aloud "does he like me?" and i'll send myself to sleep at night thinking of how much i'd like to have him next to me. and while i'm not much of one to be on a regular chatting program with the powers that be, i do give the occasional shout out to my version of the almighty, and ask that they perhaps consider all the good and lovely things i do, and how long it's been since i've been interested in a truly good man, and would you please, pretty, pretty, pretty please see to it that something good comes of all this talk? let's just say there's that going on. how is it that i can talk about midgets one day, and then nearly stumble over one a few days later? can i perhaps talk in concrete terms about me and mr. so-and-so and a few days later find my lips stumbling over his in a happy kissing accident?

mind you, there is no set time frame for things like "speak of the midget." case in point would be nearly a year of me hoping that someday someone would wander into my workplace not really looking for help with writing, but wanting to talk about their sex lives. of course, i was hoping it would be a handsome, single man who wanted to talk about the many ways in which their sex life could be bettered by the inclusion of me. what i got instead was a love and lust-lorn twenty four year old who recently surrendered her virtue to someone who, by her account, is nothing short of a loser who wants a booty call-girl. she wanted to know that she wasn't alone. she wanted someone to tell her that it was okay that sex felt good. she wanted to hug me. after months of looking forward to some r-rated talk, i just wanted her to value herself, dump the guy, and not use the writing center as her very own episode of sex in the city. well, okay... it was more like an afterschool special.

so the summer days march on at our surrogate summer camp for wayward writers and recent virgins. we scurry out in roaming bands to buy ice cream sandwiches, we gather in clusters to dish the dirt in impromptu storytelling sessions--all we need is the campfire and some marshmallows and we'd be having the quintessential american teenaged summer. no topic is too taboo... cute butts, handbags, girl trouble, brazillian waxes, rules of attraction. and sometimes, like yesterday, your roommate has to come to your rescue by bringing your glasses to campus when your left contact decides to tear into two useless pieces. another mishap. another something to talk about. something other than midgets.

but, hey, about that guy i like...


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

something about fireworks

oddly enough, being in the midst of a sprawling, urban, american landscape this long weekend, i gave some thought to fireworks. proximity was key; monday night i sat on an expanse of ground and watched the various contents of a box called "the spirit of '76" be lit and then subsequently unleash streams of upward color and light and sound. later that night, as i wove through the dark streets and hills, heading southward and home, i caught glimpses of sky-high fireworks shows--the professional efforts that surely went along with rousing music and appreciative hoots and shouts from the crowd. some, i later learned, sent such sparks flying that a brush fire was ignited and had to be battled amidst the holiday revelry.

and i thought about sparks, on a far less literal level. i thought about the fireworks i've got my eye out for the other 364 days of the year. not the dazzling pseudo-sparks of two bodies colliding under covers with ironic detachment. but sparks. the stuff of chemistry. the often inexplicable pop and fizz and bursts of electricity that exists when two people meet and mingle.

the trouble is, to see such a show you can't buy a ticket, you can't mark it on your calendar--sparks and fireworks of the one-on-one variety makes for a two-party party that happens when you least expect it. when the ground isn't necessarily cleared, and when the music is rarely cued up. and when you want to get in on the action you sometimes start to look for the bits of light, eyes widened and ready to take in the spectacle. and i've been looking for fireworks. hoping. wishing.

sure, fireworks are a temporary thing. they aren't everyday, they aren't commonplace, and they aren't a guarantee that the rest of the show is going to be spectacular. but they're a smoke-signal kind of sign that there's something brewing, something like flame meeting wick with dazzling intention. i see their potential in the glimmer of laughing eyes, mid-story. i try to gauge their potentiality in narrow distances between temporarily stationary objects. pieces of dialogue are analyzed for tnt-content: could this start something? is there something to be started.

and if fireworks are a start, then i say let's get started. i'm ready for the show.

photos from recent adventures, fireworks and otherwise.


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