Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"it's the nighttime"

...well, okay, it's actually the morning time. but i wish it was the nighttime, because then i could still sleep. which is something i didn't do enough of last night. which is my own damn fault for going to a concert on a school night. wednesdays are my killer teach-tutor-be a student days, so here i am, slightly fuzzy-headed from overpriced heinekens and music blissed from seeing josh rouse (and luke doucet) at the troubadour last night. but it was a great show. we got a spot right at the edge of the stage, so in my deluded mind the adorable mr. rouse was singing to me, and singing all the songs of his i love, love, love. it was a stripped down show, all acoustic, just him and his guitar. he brought luke doucet out for the first encore, which was phenomenal ("it's the nighttime" and "love vibration") and also a shame, because it was the highest energy point of the show; before that the audience was lame about sustaining sing-alongs and clapping, even though josh rouse encouraged it. he's such a cute, sexy, little nerd kind of guy, but that's what i love about him. i don't often get to live shows, so this was really a treat for me. worth standing for ages on end in a club venue holding pattern. and worth feeling like something the cat dragged in this morning, as i attempt to caffeinate appropriately and put on face for my long ass day. "yeah, you people all know what i'm talkin' about!"


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

company i keep

normally mondays equal the ho-hums, the serious "i don't wannas" and the general blue-tinted malaise that comes with the start of the work week, but to confess, i wasn't actually minding the idea of getting back to campus to play teacher and student. the secret to my success is actually nothing to do with me, but the company i keep. my friends, coworkers, and collaborators are amazing people, and my monday was all about hugs and hellos and how-have-you-beens. and yesterday was one of those days where floating links converged, and i played the introduction conduit; so-and-so meet so-and-so, and why is it you guys don't know each other already, since you're my dear, smart, wonderful friends? and sure, i spent my monday with one eye on the clock and dreading the last segment of the day, and sure, i teach a handful of kids who are kind of mouthy or sullen, and sure there were long chunks of time to be filled. but to my left and right were people who make me laugh, blush, or prop me up when i'm down. good people. great people. the company i keep makes me who i am. the company i keep gets me by.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

sunday some

it looks like a nice sunday out there in la la land... streaky clouds making chalk dust lines on the winter blue sky and all that poetry. me, i'm kind of sticking to a from-the-inside-out p.ov. since it's early afternoon and i'm more than pleased to still be in my jammies. the jammies, incidentally, are striped red and white, like a high-frequency candy cane. speaking of candy cane and things that are striped, i may work a bubble bath into my stressless sunday, using my philosophy candy cane bubble bath. t.m.i., perhaps?

so this sunday finds me happily laying low, listening to great music (sia's colour the small one, sufjan stevens' illinois, aimee mann's lost in space, and the new pornographer's twin cinema) and crossing off items on the to-do list. there's still plenty left to do, but nothing hanging so heavily that i'd have to reconsider the next task up, which is eating terra chips out of the bag and watching some more episodes of i love lucy on dvd. by the end of the day i'll have an article or two in the can for my beloved LAist, all my students' homework graded, every odd and end tidied up in my space, and that bubble bath under my belt. i may even sit down here again to sort out my thoughts on any one of the many writing projects i'm juggling right now, although they're still kind of noisy and entangled in my head, and may not tumble out so easily in organized patterns of words and punctuation. so i make no promises.

some sundays are just as they should be. today is definitely one of them.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

hello, baby!

congratulations to my favorite secret agent and her newly expanded family... please stop by saj's corner of the web and marvel at the gorgeousness of their new daughter. welcome to the world, helena victoria!


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"totally thrashed"

in the words of my mechanic, that is the status of my jetta's transmission. his guy is on the lookout for parts that might facilliate a revival of frankensteinian proportions. pray for my bottom line. i'm sensing pain of monstrous proportions.


Monday, January 16, 2006

in stereo

i love that in itunes you can rate your songs, and then use the smart playlist feature to pull together an enormous list of all the tunes you gave 5 stars to, which really means you've got a running playlist of those songs that always make you go "man, i love that song!" right there at your fingertips. i hate that i always hear the residual noise from my neighbors' stereos, however, and feel all small because little ibook annie only has so much oomph in the speaker department, and that to maximize my music experience i have to load appletini the ipod and use the tape adapter into the car stereo and cruise around rocking out. i love that after over a year of ipod/ibook ownership it finally dawned on me this morning that i could take the ipod cassette adapter and feed it into the tape deck of my stereo and plug it into the speaker jack of my ibook and amp up my tunes that way. i love that i'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes the simplest things completely evade me. in any event, i love how this morning i got to really hear some of the songs that make me go "man, i love that song!" and finally give my neighbors a taste of residual noise. i hate that i didn't think of it sooner, especially on saturday, when the noise could have covered up my howling yelps when i was cleaning out my closets and thwacked my head on a metal shelf. owch! i love the bump on my head, though. it's so me. and i love my clean closets.


Friday, January 13, 2006


last night l.q.t. and i had a late sushi dinner at one of my favorite spots, and we sat at the bar in fairly close proximity to the other patrons. there was a din in there, and the bubbly spirit of energetic sushi chefs making quick work of rice and fish and colorful bits and piling them on plates for the crowd. l.q.t. warmed herself with hot sake, and i sipped on hot tea. it was impossible to whisper, and unecessary to shout, but we were there to use our mouths to both eat and talk. the gentleman to her right, dining solo as i often do there, wasn't shy about jumping in on our meal; for the eating part he teased us about menu suggestions and we exchanged thoughts on the topic of the taste of sake, and for the girl talk part he picked up bits and pieces and did the math, and let us know he knew what was on our plates.

"but what does it matter?" he asked. "you'll never see me again..."

it's funny what we choose to tell strangers, or what we choose to tell people we know well. it's funny to find yourself somehow in the middle. some stories are easy to tell, inside the chaos of a moment. some stories are better invented in the chaos of the creative mind, though those minds are prone to wander far from reality. some stories stay neatly tucked between safe covers. some stories we dare not speak. i suppose it's sometimes a matter of proximity.

dinner was delicious. so were the stories.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

a stack of singles

for no reason whatsoever, and because no one has asked, i am posting a list of some of my favorite songs to listen to lately. enjoy. or ignore entirely. it's your call.

"come back (light therapy)"--josh rouse
"granville station"--the warmth
"cold december"--matt costa
"break of day"--tina dico
"butterfly"--ian love
"marching bands of manhattan"--death cab for cutie
"crazy in love"--snow patrol (yes, a cover of the beyonce song!)
"black history month" (alan braxe and fred falke remix)--death from above 1979
"walk this world"--heather nova
"support system"--liz phair
"be be your love"--rachael yamagata
"you said something"--pj harvey
"life thru the same lens"--a girl called eddy
"if i ever feel better"--phoenix
"honey and the moon"--joseph arthur
"forever lost"--the magic numbers
"goodnight and go"--imogen heap
"always right"--climber
"the district sleeps alone tonight"--the postal service
"poster of a girl"--metric
"he war"--cat power
"winshield"--ryan ferguson
"the right thing to do"--carly simon & megan mullally
"alameda"--elliott smith
"this heart is a stone"--acid house kings
"just another"--pete yorn


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

dude, where's my movie?

so this funny/annoying thing happened to me over the past few days. friday evening i opened my mailbox in the lobby of my apartment building, all happy and excited because i knew i would have two little red netflix envelopes waiting for me. in goes my eager little hand. out little red netflix envelope. bummer. so, well, okay, fine, these things happen. i figure i'll get the other movie saturday, i can watch it sunday, life will go on, i should wish all my troubles were this small, yadda, yadda, yadda.

but then, saturday's mail comes, and the same thing happens. i'm excited, i reach in the mailbox, and i pull little red envelope. well, hell's bells! now i'm cursing and muttering a bit, stomping up the stairs, gritting my teeth. for corn's sake! for crying out loud! jesus, mary, and joseph! what the...?

so, okay, fine. there are worse things in life, right? i figure it'll show up monday, i'll deal with it. but then i check my email monday, and finally that movie makes its an email saying "we've received this movie, now rate it!" huh? how can i rate a movie i never got? i try to connect with their customer service, but there's no drop down menu option for "we're tools because we say we sent you a movie that you never got, never watched, never returned, but thanks for returning it." so i type up an email that goes unanswered. since the movie shows up as returned a new movie pops on my shipping queue, and lo and behold, it's tuesday now, and here i go, excited, eager, reaching in to the mailbox, expecting two little red envelopes.

but there's none. no envelopes. nothing. that's n-o-t-h-i-n-g from netflix. this isn't adding up! or is it?

i've decided that my highly skilled letter carrier person is delivering my little red envelopes into the wrong mailbox slot. my nancy drew girl-sleuth theory is that he sees one person's netflix and then without reading my name on the labels of my little red envelopes, puts my movies in with someone else's. and quite possibly that person is the one who got my movie on friday and stuck it back in the mail. but i don't want to keep complaining to netflix, because they'll think i'm some scammer who is pocketing the "missing" dvds and then printing up low-budget covers and hocking them on ebay and in gas station parking lots for $3.99 a pop, and they'll suspend my account. when really, i think it's the letter carrier who needs to slow his row a little and actually look at the little red envelopes one by one.

so i called the post office and filed a complaint. first i had to go through all the hoops of this annoying voice-response menu. "you say you want to forward your mail," it says, when i haven't breathed a word. "is this correct?" "no," i said. can your voice response register dismay? finally i get a human on the line. she's reading dutifully off the script where it says "i aplogize for any inconvenience this may cause you" but i know she thinks i'm a tool. i try to explain about the little red envelopes, the "you've returned this movie" email, my theory about the letter carrier, but we hit a roadblock at "netflix." "net, what?" she asks. clearly the united states postal service customer service call center is located under a rock. she files my complaint, and again dutifully "aplogizes for any inconvenience."

meanwhile, i'm without the movies i was counting on getting tonight! waaaaaaaah! dude, where's my movie? and there's not a damn thing i can do about it.


sleepless in west toluca lake-adjacent

lately my sleep has been uneven, to say the least. some nights, thanks to the fine makers of nyquil, i'm out like a light. but i don't want to be one of those tacky dependent on over-the-counter medication types who gets the shakes if i don't down my nightly self-prescribed dosage, which really equals an over-enthusiastic swig straight from the bottle without even a water chaser, lest it thin out the sticky cherry-flavored potency of the stuff. cough-cough. so instead most nights i suffer, martyr-like, lying awake for long stretches, letting all the little irrationalities of the previous or following day get to me. last night around 3:30 i had an imaginary conversation with a tow-truck company, because in my half-awake and obviously totally insane state of mind i'd managed to convince myself that towing a car for a mile would run me upwards of $100. and because i believe this when i'm half-awake in the middle of the night, i stress out even more, because i know that first thing in the morning i'm going to have to get up and arrange to have my old car towed to the mechanic and i don't want to pay $100 for that! because, see, i think it really is that much. so i dread doing it. and i can't stop thinking about it. and all the little details come creeping up to me--making me arrange them so that i can tend to them in order, and in a timely manner, and then i get nervous and wonder if, when i wake up from this not being asleep thing, like in the real morning, will i be able to accomplish all these things? because at 3:47 in the morning in my half-asleep state (toss, turn, toss, turn, groan, toss, turn, sigh...) these things seem utterly insurmountable. of course, when i actually do get up i realize that these things are all rather do-able, and quite rationally, i might add. what is it about the nighttime that does that to people? i'll have to ponder that one another night. i'm sure i'll be dazzled by my own non-sensical and outlandish rationalization. now, i have to call a man about a tow truck.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

more and more about more and more

one of the reasons, which i believe i've mentioned previously, that turned me off from the concept of pursuing a phd in literature is that, as it was put to me, such a pursuit meant devoting oneself to "learning more and more about less and less." i objected so vehemently to this idea because i actually want to learn more and more about more and more. learning in the sense of that point that exists between mild curiosity and absolute expertise. you know, working knowledge. practical understanding. savvy. so what is it, exactly, that i'm hoping to learn? well, in my mind, this calls for a list. it is not meant to be a list with a deadline, nor a listing that is limited to, or that i must address, all of the items on it. but just things i want to know about. more and more.

1. cooking/baking. this includes formal and informal instruction and practice in all kinds of cooking and/or baking, including gourmet cooking, french, italian, asian, healthy, sushi, and cake decorating. also stuff on the level of flavor and preparation, so that when dining out i can say, "ah, it seems the chef has added a bold and inventive bit of fennel to this dish!"

2. wine. i know nothing. i'm not even such a big fan of wine, but i wouldn't mind at the very least knowing more, and being able to pick a wine that i'll enjoy in any given circumstance.

3. gardening. why is it that my mother, my aunt, my grandmother, and so many others in my family can do such wonders with a garden, a hanging basket, a container, and so forth, but i'm utterly clueless? granted, living in a shared apartment with no decent sun exposure limits my immediate ability to really tackle this one, but someday i hope to have a home, and i want one of those elegant-but-wild looking cottage gardens with a path and stalks of varying sizes topped with merrily bobbing heads of this-and-that flowers in purples and pinks and blues and yellows and whites. maybe a patch of tulips, or some roses. herbs and mossy bits, too. meanwhile, can i at least learn the ins and outs of the common houseplant?

4. art and art history. a little in college does not go a long way. and i'm such a museum nut. more, please.

5. singing. formal lessons would be ideal.

6. the playing of an instrument. never really got to learn piano or guitar. dreams of playing the cello were dashed in grade five. that boyfriend who promised to teach me all the chords on his acoustic guitar dumped my ass back in late 1996 before my little hands could grasp the basic g. my talented cousins put me to regular shame.

7. photography. how to take better photos, etc.

8. history, world and american. so much to remember...also local histories. loved doing things like the "underground tour" in seattle last year.

9. family trees and histories and stories. all concerned branches.

10. basic car mechanics. how an engine works. how not to ruin one.

11. the stock market. what the flying fig do all those tiny little rows of numbers in the newspaper mean?

12. sewing. i could be so crafty if i had some more know how and better tools. like, i could ogle throw pillows in the pottery barn catalog, and then whip out to the fabric store and buy some cool-ass fabric and make my own goddamned pillows.

13. how to speak italian. bella, bella! a few months ago i downloaded a how to file from itunes, and managed to string together words enough to say "i want a hotel room and a shower with you" but have since forgotten this gem of wisdom. also, how to speak spanish and japanese. and whatever else.

14. religion. who was who. what people believe.

15. building things with wood and hammers and such. also, refinishing things. years and years ago i inherited this junky old glass-doored jelly cabinet and my parents helped me get started in refinishing it, i.e. stripping it down and staining/painting it. i really liked that, and someday, again when i'm in this mythical real house of mine, i would like to be able to spot a piece of something at a yard sale, flea market, antique shop, or what have you, and know that i could improve it with my own hands. also, mysteries like "how the heck does one build a bookcase" would be nicely solved. (because, like, if one board goes here and the other there, where does the nail go?)

16. ballroom dancing. so utterly corny. but why not?

17. more literature! all kinds, from all times, all places, by all people. books, books, books. stories, tales, poems, plays. more, more, more, more...please!

18. the lives of interesting people. from celebs to brains to scribes to royalty to curious nobodies.

19. computer stuff. more savvy about macs, software, applications, web design, internetty things like rss feeds and crap that i'm not so sure about.

...and this is just the start!


Friday, January 06, 2006

firsts of the lasts

even though wednesdays are now known to me as "the longest day ever known to mankind" (tm), this particularly wednesday was also a big one for me because it had a couple of firsts of the lasts for me. it was the first day of the quarter, so my first day teaching a new section of basic writing II--the last time i'll teach that, since next quarter i advance to helming big bad English 101, and it was my first day in a creative non-fiction seminar, which is my last class for my degree, leaving only my thesis. both firsts went rather well. i enjoyed the fact that, despite my age having recently moved up to twenty-nine, my students thought at first when i came in the classroom that i was a fellow student because i "look so young!" i also enjoyed the fact that my last class involves no writing seminar papers, doing ceaseless research about literature or composition, no mla formatting, no tedious weekly scholarly reading, no book reports or article presentations, no midterm, no final, and so on--it's just wonderful, stimulating, exciting, engaging, challenging learning about and the doing of writing creative non-fiction. it's so marvelous to be writing again. yesterday i sat at my local starbucks for a couple of hours, actually able to write, and really liking the process. i'm going to have to do that more often. write, that is. thank goodness from now on it's what's expected of me. how nice to be able to get back to doing what i love.


Monday, January 02, 2006

new year, new motto?

i was instant messaging with foxy when she reminded me that i needed a motto to go with my new year. my head is so full of thematic units for the college english class i'm teaching this quarter that i hadn't really thought to stop and come up with a thematic unit of my own befitting the recent change to a new calendar (so long to the retro quaint "dick and jane" and hello to "monet's gardens"--i'm a sucker for those deceptively haphazard cottagey gardens and seemingly sloppy impressionist paintings). so here are some of the themes i am generally considering for 2006. note that most of them have to do with the concept of more and less, which i suppose is the underlying current of the moment for me.

  • less brie = less me. (only relevant at this moment of composition because i just ate some brie, which is actually highly unusual behavior for me. there is decidedly less me, thanks to "eat better and exercise frequently" in 2005. i don't think this is a winning motto. scrap this one.)
  • less stress more sex in ought-six. (it's the illiteration that i like here. well, and the sex part.)
  • you can't control the uncontrollable. (valuable life lesson, which leads ideally to less stress, and hopefully more sex. good one.)
  • plan less, live more. (just being less reliant on plans, and trying to work every moment of my day, week, life, etc. ahead of time, and to essentially control the future--see "you can't control the uncontrollable" above--will allow me to live more. i was going to say "laugh more" but according to one of my favorite professors i am "the girl most likely to laugh at anything" so it's hard to imagine me laughing even more. i laugh a lot.)
  • stand by dick in 2-0-0-6. (thanks, ryan seacrest on new year's rockin' eve. i'm more than happy to stand by dick this year. see "less stress more sex in ought-six.") incidentally, photos of my very quiet night at home can be found here. you'll see i like this motto already...


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