Friday, March 30, 2007

on feeling crappy, and coversing with myself

so basically i feel like crap today. when i woke up i had the following conversation with myself:
"gee, i'm hungry."
"that's probably because you were hungry when you went to bed last night."
"well, except for that mint meltie from purdy's you ate while watching the second episode of 90210 you tivo'd yesterday."
"shut up."
"anyhow, i should eat something. but what?"
"first take your pill, it's 8 o'clock."
"ahhh, yes. very important." (gulp)
"now, quick check of email, etc."
"man, my head is kind of hurty."
"mmmmhhmmm. i feel a headache coming on. i should get some coffee in me."

cut to:
"wow, this coffee and this oatmeal are really unappealing."
"i thought you were hungry."
"yeah, me too."
"well at least make an effort."
"man. i feel gross."
"drink your coffee or you'll feel grosser."
"blech. i can't."
"something is very wrong."

so anyhow, i feel crappy today. it's not for lack of eating or too much eating, it's not for missing out on coffee, or poisoning myself with too much coffee (ha! like there's such a thing.) i can't imagine it's a hangover because last night at this cool writing workshop i got to go to i had a little baby glass of springtime sangria, which probably wouldn't even give a baby a hangover. i was going to try to drag my sorry ass out to the community college to get some extra throwing practice on the wheel, but that seems like a herculean endeavor to me and my head right now. i know it's probably not a good idea for me to try to do anything involving dexterity, because a couple of hours ago, in an attempt to be neat and tidy and efficient, i was headed downstairs to the kitchen to dispose of that big ass mug of coffee i couldn't face this morning when it just sort of slid out of my hands and bounced on the carpet and rid itself of its nearly 20 ounces of intelligentsia berekely blend with some fat free half and half all over my carpet and pants and wall and even some on my dresser. now i smell like coffee and spray n' wash, which isn't helping things in the headache department.

i kind of have a mild case of the "i don't wannas" right now; even television is kind of annoying to me right now, and i ran the one errand i felt i could manage in my earlier haze, which was to go to target to buy one videotape, except that apparently you can't just buy one videotape, so i bought a four-pack, which seems to me like a really useless thing to have to do, but whatever, this is america, so i guess it's better to have four times the necessary amount of anything just in case and just because. right now there is a garbage truck on the street outside and its every squeal and rumble and jangle i'm taking as a personal affront. i was hoping the darling boy would have been able to come hang with me in the past couple of days, especially because the other night i randomly made a strawberry-rhubarb pie and i like to feed him treats, but i guess he's out in that bright, noisy world that i'm a little leery of right now, being his usual over busy self. i suppose i could call up laurie, who is in town with her amazing daughter, and see what she's up to.

or i could just sit here and moan and wait for 90210 to come on.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

the "kelly does coke" year(s)

so i'm back from the 604. it was a quick and dirty trip; light on the drama, heavy on the rain and brrrrisk spring air. getting from BUR-PDX-YVR was no problem, but the trip home from YVR-SEA-BUR seriously sucked. let me just say that we all need to be extra careful when closing those overhead compartments lest the motion shake loose the plastic snap-in strip that covers that row of lights on the underside of the compartments or else you, too, will sit on the tarmac at your gate for over an hour--which might constitute your entire layover time allotment in seattle--while maintenance is called, arrives 30 minutes later, snaps back in the strip and sticks on some duct tape for good measure, then takes over 30 minutes to "file the paperwork" before you can take off. of course, it was nice of the pilot to "fly as fast as he could" (he really did, you could tell!) and it was not so nice to have to run upstairs and up ramps towards my gate thinking i had three minutes until my connecting flight was due to take off--only to discover it, too, was significantly delayed.

anyhow. i made it. granted, i'm thinking twice about flying the airline named after the 49th state of the union, but i made it nonetheless, just in time to be collected up by the darling boy and brought home to my cozy pied-a-terre (oh, okay, apartment) where i immediately insisted a shower be had before i got dirtied up again. ahem. yes, well...

so the good news is, i'm not going to be (f)unemployed! whilst sojourning in the greater vancouver area i was contacted by the main man in my department and offered a single class to teach, along with a heap of blush-causing praise about my students' comments about my teaching and the value such comments hold for my department. wowee! so rather than launch the "eternal spring of my spotty mind" next week wherein i'd anticipated a full schedule of schedule-free living, i will actually be workin' for the money (a meager pittance some of you might be familiar with if you're following the news about my union and the potential upcoming strike) and staying out of trees at least two days a week. i'm rather honored; it's incredibly rare that an instructor of my level (regardless of ability or popularity) gets brought in three consecutive quarters their first year post-master's. i know, i know, pin a rose on my nose. but it's very very awesome, and affirms for me the fact that i am on the right path with my career.

and, yes... i will be writing. i'm going to (shhhhh!) audit a creative writing course at the school taught by my former thesis director, which will be a blast and a great chance to get those juices flowing (and, hello, again--so honored!). i want to really dig in deep on LAist, and--who knows?!--dig in deep here and perhaps elsewhere. (btw, that's a totally non-committal "elsewhere" that just means my eyes are open, although nothing is in immediate sight.)

okay, and i will also be doing artsy fartsy and householdy nice things, like keeping up with the toil that is my weekly ceramics class at a community college (holy hell, do i ever suck at throwing on the wheel!) and doing my spring planting on the balcony, and, if i'm ever so lucky, getting the darling boy to cross some items off a very lengthy and long-time-standing list of things i've earmarked for him to do chez moi. and doing sudoku (i know, right: totally lame, but secretly fun and brain food). and watching reruns of beverly hills, 90210 (guess which "year" we're in now on the soap network? hint: see above). and totally digging the fact that housemate lqt is crazy nuts about watching the food network on tv (yeah!). okay, and maybe cooking more. and working out daily. and canoodling with the darling boy at any given opportunity. and seeing more art exhibits, poetry readings, theatre, and live music. (i'll thank esther for dragging me out when she was here last weekend and reminding me how much i freakin' love improv.) and distracting myself online with facebook (it's not myspace, that's all i'm going to say). and reading--christ almighty i need to read more! (and i don't mean student essays.)

so. yeah. it's good--no, great--to be home.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

spring breaking

so it looks like i'm going to have a whole heap o'time coming to me wherein i can be that writer i'm always moaning about not having time to be. as suspected, professor punkin can't very well collect a paycheck to teach to a room full of empty chairs, so there is no teaching gig for her this quarter at the alma mater. but before your heart flutters in anticipation of my meltdown and before you leap in with solutions to what to most would justifiably seem like a problem, rest assured that i saw this coming, and prepared for it. in fact, i am pretty sure i wanted it. i haven't had much anxiety-free time off since, well, come to think of it, since i finished my bachelor's in march 2004 and took some time off that spring and summer. i've basically gone from being a student to being a teacher with very little in the quality rest department, and i am a little on the worn out side. i mean, yes, i would have loved teaching a section or two, but my creative side has been hiding like a mouse in a wall for fear of emerging in time to be snapped by a waiting trap. so now it's time to face my demons and get back to daily posting on LAist, blogging, and even working on my novel. i'm pretty excited, actually.

before all this new fun starts, though, i have a few things to do. i just made a little list in my pocket notebook of what must get done to day, and although it's daunting (grade all my students' finals and research papers!) it's also got some fun stuff (go see upright citizen's brigade with esther and co.!) and practical (finish packing!).

packing? uh, right. i forgot to mention. i'm disappearing for just a few days (5, to be exact) to meld my "spring break" (officially) with my cousin munchkin's spring break (lord help me, she just turned 18, and she has a car) and to kick it with my family in the 604. it's a quick trip, because i have crap on either end of the week i can't escape doing, and my travel resolution held over from last year is to "never go away for an entire week." it's just too much. so i'll be back and ready to plant a kiss on the darling boy thursday evening.

and then my writing life begins.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

the answers to life's questions--and some of the questions, too--are probably in your junk mail folder

i was in a pondering mood this morning, thinking about the bigger issues that shape the scope of human existance. on a whim, i opened up the file for my junk mail, and discovered, to my utter shock, that all the answers i was looking for were right before my very eyes, in black and white--some of them eerily personalized just for me. so i thought i'd share. here's what i wondered, and what spam had to offer in reply:

SLP: How's business these days?
SPAM: So business is shame

SLP: Oh no! Well, what's everyone talking about?
SPAM: The great soda debate continues

SLP: Hmm, well, I don't drink much soda. But I was wondering how I could get my hands on a whole bunch of chocolate.
SPAM: Get 100USD worth of chocolate just for filling out a survey

SLP: No kidding! What about ice cream?
SPAM: Answer a survey, get ice cream on us

SLP: Wow, get out of town, free ice cream? But what about cash? I just found out I'm not getting hired to teach next quarter, so I'm out of a job next week.
SPAM: Lindsay need funds now

SLP: Well, maybe not in the short term, but in the long term--
SPAM: Need a loan, we can help

SLP: Oh, no thank you. It's nice of you to offer but I was thinking of somehow using my brain to earn some money. After all, I did go to university and pick up a couple of degrees.
SPAM: You could get paid for your opinion

SLP: Seriously? My opinion counts? I certainly am opinionated. How can these people who pay for my opinion get in touch with me? How can I get in touch with them?
SPAM: There's a new way to phone Lindsay

SLP: Damn. I'm so out of touch. I bet there are all these new scientific discoveries I don't even know about. Like, if my house got wrinkles, I bet--
SPAM: Doctors discover new home wrinkle treatment

SLP: Exactly! It's a freaking miracle. I'm just out of the loop. I should talk to Michele more often...
SPAM: But Michele be septic

SLP: Eew, septic? My goodness, and her husband, the one with the medical condition that sounds like the name of a flower?
SPAM: His cereus be chrysanthemum

SLP: Huh, I don't know what that means exactly, but what a shame. Incidentally, you sound a bit like you're having trouble with sentence structure and verbs. Like maybe your native language is French. I've always wondered how to say something that sounds like French but really isn't but that impresses people. Any suggestions?
SPAM: "it malraux an cabot"

SLP: Yes, that sounds perfect. Now, do you have any questions for me?
SPAM: Do you know Witchcraft exposed?

SLP: No, I'm afraid not. I know a lot more about food--sushi in particular.
SPAM: Which mackerel is cypriot?

SLP: Wow, I feel kind of ignorant. Here you are, a French speaker, stumping me--the English teacher with a culinary school certification and a gig as a food writer-- with your food trivia. Maybe we should stick to solving my cravings. Didn't you say something earlier about ice cream?
SPAM: Which is your favorite ice cream brand?

SLP: Now that's more like it.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

daylight and sanity savings time

i've actually gotten a lot accomplished, considering it's not long after noon on the sunday we jumped our clocks ahead by an hour. i've been to the local farmer's market, where i snapped a whole bunch of pictures, sampled three kinds of oxnard-grown strawberries, and chatted with a woman who's worked in some impressive restaurant kitchens and has now launched her own gourmet-to-go business. i've swiffer dry and wet mopped our pathetic kitchen floor, had my leftover shrimp pizza from last night, came up with questions for both the final exams i have to give tomorrow, set up the grades databases for both my classes, and roamed about a bit online. i've even watched some what not to wear.

of course, there's still plenty to do, most of which involves me trying not to claw my eyes out as i claw my way through a couple of stacks of essays that need grading. it's the time of the quarter where i'm antsy to just get things done and filed away, but of course in every class there are the stragglers, the ones who beg and plead their cases for last minute deals and exceptions to the rules i print out in my syllabi. as the clock ticks onward i fear some of them might be headed towards letting both me and themselves down by not getting things done. it's almost time to let go.

i have a crick in my neck and shoulder from leaning over my canvas covered slab board yesterday and from wedging and slabbing my clay into cups with stamped texture and tiles for future carving. it's a weird intersection for me between what i knew and did all those years at the ol' paint-your-own-ceramics chain stores and between my utter unfamiliarity with working with this clay and these kinds of glazes. it makes, in all honesty, for a bit of long haul on saturdays, between the getting up early and getting to the campus, getting parking, getting my ass up the street, across the footbridge and up the hill to the class, and then the almost five hours in class of pretty serious artistic labor. i'm having fun, and looking forward to having some finished products to show off.

i think i'm blogging as a stalling tactic (probably why i chose this morning, of all possible times, to mop the kitchen floor) because, as usual, my wish is for someone else to come swooping in and to pick up all these darned essays and to take them to the magical grading kingdom where my clone reads them and grades them while i drink iced tea mixed with lemonade and catch up on my deadwood watching. but i always wish for that. just like i always wish the darling boy was handy at all times to deliver a swift kiss to my lips and something clever for me to chortle at. i wish he'd get his butt over here to eat my cookies. and by cookies, i mean cookies. because, upon his request, i made cookies last week. they're oatmeal-peanut butter-chocolate chip, and they are possibly the best cookies i've ever made. see, now you want to eat my cookies too, i suppose!

and i suppose today--of all days--it would be futile to wish for an extra hour in my day.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

ten minutes with me

so last night i met up with some of my awesome LAist folks, and i got into it pretty deep on the conversational level with my editor and LAist guru tony. we talked a lot about writing and taking risks and confidence and practice and all the things that, as it so happens, i teach my freshmen students about writing for college. anyhow, he challenged me to tackle my writing head on in the form of ten minute stream-of-consciousness no filter no self edit bursts, and so here i am, tapping away at the keyboard trying to write and not think. i don't know if i picked the right moment to start this. right now ten minutes feels like hours to me, and that's probably because i'm in a sort of stasis right now--i'm waiting and staring at that proverbial pot that never boils and i'm getting progressively more upset. it has everything to do with the personal parts of my life--stuff i shy away from sharing here because so many years ago this whole goddamned blog blew up in my face and it's almost like i'm scared of it now. i'm scared to say certain things, and my self-censorship meter is tuned up so finely and to such an extreme that it makes me terrified of my own words. what a horrible way to feel about something, particularly something as ultimately disposable as a personal blog. for crying out loud. anyhow, the fact of the matter is, i'm upset at the moment. i feel hurt and frustrated and like i'm in this cycle of i can't think of an appropriate word to finish this thought off. it's a cycle. enough. it's a cycle, and that's enough. i keep hiding from myself and my thoughts and my abilities (it's why i don't write here, or on LAist, or even attempt to work on turning my thesis into a novel). the other day one of the advisors from my thesis panel commmented in passing that she was still waiting for my novel. yeah, me too. i'm waiting to not be afraid of it. i'm waiting to feel like i can do it again. i'm waiting to be able to take a compliment as easily as i take the crap i get elsewhere--or ultimately the crap i give myself. i give myself a lot of crap. i accept what maybe i shouldn't, and i say i do it out of love. and i love. i really love. and because i'm upset right now the love seems ugly and unappreciated. i suppose any dime store shrink would tell me that i just don't love myself. is that what it always comes down to? sometimes i'm so sure that i have that kind of love down pat. i do good. i am happy. i have a profession i love and that i'm extremely good at. i have talents and interests and a kind heart and i'm a good friend and i want to share so much with the world. and then i shut it off, i tell myself without actual words that none of that matters. that what matters is this canyon of time--even this small ten minutes--that seems hallmarked by emptiness and doubt and loneliness and insecurity and those ten minutes controls my life. it's like being a shell or a hollowed out spot. it's not me. and yet right now it's all that i am. that's what scary. that's what i need to run right into and face and confront and ask myself "where does all this come from?" and then forgive myself. and then the ten minutes are over, and i wonder what i'll do for the next ten.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

an accidental campfire tale

even though dateline: to catch a predator was on, on tuesday night around 8:30 the housemates angel bunny and lqt and i were sitting around in the living room with the television uncharacteristically off, talking about the kinds of things we normally do, like seasonal produce, anal sex, and what kind of fiber our area rug was made of. somewhere in the semi-distance i heard some banging and some breaking glass, followed by some muffled shouts, and with the part of my brain that wasn't actively engaged in our conversation i cataloged the noises as either someone clumsily moving furniture through the adjacent main stairwell or a heated spat.

it took only a moment to realize i had the "heated" part right.

a woman's voice pierced through the night air: "fire! there's a fire in the building! everyone get out, there's a fire in the building!"

adrenaline sent wings to my bare feet as i flew up the stairs to my room and began to tear about in a panic. where was the fire? i wanted to know. how close? i opened the door in my third floor bedroom that leads to the central walkway. the alarm was clanging and i could smell the smoke and hear the clatter of people running. i scooped up my laptop, my ipod, my digital camera, my green card, my current diary, and my purse and threw them into two shoulder bags. for one ridiculous materialistic moment i wondered how i could carry the television. for a series of more sentimental moments i wondered how i could carry my box of diaries and the lifetime of memories that pack my living space. practicality took over and i slipped my feet into some shoes and ran down the stairs. lqt and angel bunny weren't in the apartment anymore. i grabbed my keys from their hook and went out the front door.

the hallways were choked with thick, gray smoke. i merged into the pack of residents descending the main stairwell, and tried to cover my mouth with my hand, but i couldn't seem to keep from breathing the fumes in. we emerged into the chilly night and i found lqt across the street.

i grabbed hold of her coat-covered arm and tried not to cry. "i'm so scared," i confessed. "where's angel bunny?" i asked. we didn't know. i tried calling her phone, but she didn't answer. "this is so awful," i told lqt. she told me it was going to be okay, but i couldn't help but repeat: "i'm just so scared!"

and i was. of all the disasters on the books fire is the one i fear the most. my irrationality level had shot sky-high, and i imagined my home--my safe place--was soon to be ashes.

then the fire trucks arrived. it seemed it took them only a heartbeat to get there. i frantically walked up the street, the air nipping at my bare legs--i was wearing a flimsy summer skirt, a lightweight tanktop and a lightweight cardigan sweater, perfect for sitting around talking about whatever it was were were talking about, but not for spending any amount of time outdoors in late february, even in los angeles. in front of the church i spotted angel bunny. i pulled on her sleeve and dragged her with me. "you can't be separated from us like that!" i told her.

we watched as the capable men of the los angeles fire department made short work of the fire. it was confined to the apartment one floor down from ours, but immediately on the other side of the main stairwell. even though it was put out expediently, smoke was still rising to meet the black night sky, alarms were still clanging, and it all felt too close for comfort. our neighbors cradled nervous dogs and shivered as i did in our inappropriate attire. we saw the firefighters rescue a small dog from the street-facing unit, and the crowd seemed to issue a collective sigh of relief. word was circulating that no one was in there--no one had been hurt. to our left were the people i soon would think of as heroes: the guy who smashed the glass to pull the alarm and the woman who ran about rousing us out by yelling "fire!" the guy was nursing cuts on his hands and feet. he was talking to a man who was holding onto an empty bowl with a spoon; i suppose when you run out the door you may well be holding on to whatever had been in your hands in that awful moment between things being normal and things being forever changed. angel bunny had managed to snag some extra underclothes, but lqt hadn't even remembered her purse. i still had a shoulder bag of so-called worldly goods hanging from each of my shoulders.

as part of procedure, the firefighters began to drop the burned apartment's furniture out the window and onto our meager front landscaping. out came a charred couch, a burn-scarred mattress, some tangled wires. everything was hosed down, and every bit of stuffing shaken loose onto the sidewalk. it was sad to see those bright flashlights scanning the shredded walls and to watch this person's belongings emerge in singed remnants.

"let's walk up to starbucks," i suggested.

we soothed ourselves with hot milky drinks and made quick calls to a handful of important folks. i had sent the darling boy a panic mode text message during the initial fray, but had since shifted to the mode of accepting that there was nothing i, nor he, nor anyone could do at this point, except to wait until it was all clear to go back home. the resident heroes had come down to starbucks, too, and i thanked them for doing what they'd done. "it was nothing," i think he said. but it wasn't nothing to me.

when we turned back around the corner onto our street a few minutes later they were taking away the orange plastic cones that designated the street's closure, and all but one of the fire trucks were gone. some firefighters were wrapping things up by their truck, and when we passed by we all three said thank you to them for their good work. they assured us it was okay to go right on in through the front door. it was safe to go home.

inside the building the stench of smoke was awful. it lingered in our living room, and to a lesser extent our upstairs. i put my bags of worldly goods down, and lqt was remarking that it was just in time for us to catch tonight's law & order: svu. i sank down onto the couch and tried to pay attention to my favorite show. but it was hard to follow what they were saying, because all the whirring in my head was so distracting. i was grateful no one was hurt, and that the firefighters had arrived so fast. i was coughing, and wishing i'd thought to put something over my mouth when i'd run down the stairs. i was feeling horribly on behalf of the poor young man whose apartment was now a black hole, and who might have to struggle to regain his own sense of normalcy. i wondered how it happened.

today the smoke smell is gone from our apartment, although it still clings ferociously to the air in the lobby and the stairwell. this morning they walls near the burned unit were power-washed, and i saw one of the managers meeting with someone to presumably arrange to restore things to a state of presentability. i'm still aware that there's a hole in what has always felt like a fortress of safety. i'm aware of the weakness in the notion of stability, and the frailty of life.

i'm also going to get me some fire extinguishers of my own, and a fire-proof box to house my lifetime of journals, just like i always wanted. but i don't think i'll light any candles any time soon.


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