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Showing posts from September, 2005

preparing for malaria in glendale

The pharmacist says, I wish I were going to Singapore, Malaysia. Her accent says she’s already left Somewhere for these wrinkled foothills. Hands me Lariam in an amber bottle, the promise of strange dreams. The other woman waiting says, Where are you going? Black cat tails of eyeliner over each lid. Bring an extra suitcase. The shopping is so good. Handcrafted. I’m moving to Dubai soon. Actually. I freefall from Glendale, seeing downtown out the wrong window, dismount on Hoover, and Pete’s Burgers catches me. 98 Cents and Up, Ragazzi Room, Arco and archaic architecture. Sigh of recognition. But I’m already wearing my traveler’s glasses: This is shabby, this is poor-enough-to-be-dangerous. To someone. Novel-girl in the dark, on the lookout for the eye-ends of question marks. Flush toilet could suck you in worse than the Carolina forest. New-danger and old-safe can look so similar.

notes on process and human nature, or “ugh”

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Whenever we were assigned to write a poem in school, someone would inevitably write something like: I have to write a poem But what to write about? My paper’s blank and so’s my head Like all the thoughts fell out. Or something. In my strolls through “Next Blog” territory, I’ve discovered a lot of online prose variations on that theme. Topics like “ugh” and “what to blog about” and “same old same old.” Which is funny because I doubt any of those people were blogging at gunpoint. Nevertheless, I can relate in a sort of backward way. Lately there is so much to blog about. I have so many Important Things To Say about books ( I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight—so far, so beautiful) and TV ( Everyone Hates Chris —warm and funny and pretty edgy for network) and people (a guy at Long’s this morning continued the trend of semi-flattering comments that ultimately imply I’m old : “Hey, that tattoo is trippy. I throw parties at my house, wanna come? Do yo

everything i needed to know about weddings, i learned from weddings

I was never one of those little girls who daydreamed about her wedding. Among other reasons, I was superstitious: It seemed like picking out a color scheme when I was 10 would pretty much guarantee that I would never find a husband. Eighteen years later, I still haven’t. Instead I have a girlfriend who would rather put all that cash toward a down payment on a house (and I can’t say I disagree), but there’s something about being a girl, at a wedding, that brings out my inner wedding planner. Or at least, my inner wedding critic . Weddings seem to be 90 percent logistics, and I hate logistics, so I don’t think my fairytale wedding could ever come to life unless my fairy godmother did all the planning and never sent me a bill. But as don’t-have-to-deal-with-the-grunt-work wedding critic, I’m getting pretty good. I had a great time at Cara and Jeff’s wedding this weekend—which is saying a lot since I’m not a fan of Christianity or heavy metal, both of which played a prominent role in the

call me old-fashioned

There’s a public service announcement poster near my gym that says something like, “Pop Quiz: 1) Name three supermodels. 2) Name three of your kid’s teachers.” It sort of captures how I feel when people idolize strippers and porn stars—I have nothing against strippers and porn stars, and only a little bit against Paris Hilton, but I worry that what passes as “sex-positive” is sometimes other-stuff-negative. I worry that what passes as good old fish-don’t-need-bicycles feminism is really consumerism: case in point, a baby tee I saw that said, “No time for boys, I’d rather shop!” (And I have to admit that I saw it while shopping.) I’m not the only one who’s worried. Jennifer Egan sums up Ariel Levy’s take on the Uncle Tom quality of “female chauvinist pigs” in the New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/18/books/review/18egan.html .

poet won't break bread with the bushes

Sharon Olds tells Laura Bush where she can put her shiny knife. In very respectful, poetic words, of course: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051010/olds

the starbucks chronicles

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I went to Starbucks yesterday after work (I could begin so many stories this way) and settled in for a cozy hour and a half of reading and writing/staring at my computer screen/wondering how to make Chapter 17 500 words shorter. Last week was kind of hectic, and I was anxious to get back into my groove, also known as my rut. On Sunday I had lunch with my former WriteGirl mentee, a kick-ass 19-year-old named Jenn. In the year-and-a-few-months since I’d seen her, she’d saved coral reefs in Australia, investigated ancient ruins in Ecuador and become a certified lifeguard. Next up: Israeli army training and a month of work in an AIDS clinic in Tanzania. I have no doubt that she’ll discover a cure for AIDS while she’s there. I was feeling both inspired an exhausted just hearing about her plans. I told her I was going to Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia in October, and suddenly it sounded like I said, “I’m going to Burbank in October!” “Oh, you’ll love Hong Kong,” Jenn assured me. An

muy queer

Transgendered six-year-olds . East LA trailer park chicks . Fake blind people . Soldiers on the run . Good-kid gangs . Women who throw themselves in front of SUVs . It’s all in the new issue of Blithe House Quarterly .

i’m going wherever my ride is going, at least for two days

Alan and Frank picked me up at the Sacramento airport in Alan’s old Camry station wagon. Alan’s pipe rested next to the parking break, and he blew smoke out the window into the hot fall air. We stopped for a minute at the place where Frank would be house-sitting for the next five days. His friend had just moved in, and it was almost empty except for a futon, a few framed photos and a small circle of teddy bears on the hardwood floor. They appeared to be having a book club meeting—at the center of the circle was a copy of Beth Lisick ’s new memoir, Everybody Into the Pool , which, according to the introduction, is about being too weird for the normal world and too normal for the world of warehouse-dwelling punkrockers in which she spent her young adulthood. I decided it would be an interesting couple of days. Over dim sum, Alan and Frank talked about their respective towns of residence. Alan lives in Stockton, and one of his favorite pastimes is describing the guns and drugs and stupi

six degrees of six-foot albino

A quick update on the legendary nature of Ducky The Six-Foot Albino : After Stephanie discovered that Heather and I happened to know this character she randomly encountered in a NoHo bar, she decided to ask everyone she met, “Do you know a six-foot albino named Ducky?” Just to see. She just reported to me that she was having dinner with a director friend the other day who responded, “Are you kidding me?” Steph thought he meant, “Why are you asking me such a bizarre question?” But when Steph assured him that she was not kidding, he said, “Of course I know Ducky—I’ve known him since we were 16. Anyone who was in the LA goth scene in the ‘90s knows Ducky.” I was not in said scene, and neither was Steph, but I like just knowing that I sort of know someone who was famous in such a scene. I’ve always had subcultural aspirations, but I also want people to like me, which prevents me from being a true rebel. Plus the flip side of subculture is often schtickiness, which I try to avoid. It’s a

fiction unplugged

I’m pretty sure that five of my eight Bread and Bread readers live in LA, and the other three are in SF and Seattle, but just in case there are any Sacramento folks out there, I’ll be in town this Thursday night. I’m reading as part of the Poetry Unplugged series at Luna’s Café . I’m not a poet (well, not one who should be encouraged to read her work in public), but Frank Andrick, one of the series coordinators, is letting me bend the rules and read a short story. Frank is wonderful, this human exclamation mark with the heart of a teddy bear, the soul of a riotgrrl, the brain of a French Romantic poet and the ponytail of a Metallica fan. The crowd at Luna’s is equally diverse and fascinating. Cheryl Klein reads from her forthcoming story collection, The Commuters Thursday, Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. at Luna’s Café 1414 16th Street, Sacramento, CA 916-441-3931 No cover, all ages Open mic precedes and follows the feature

one of those 31/4, 1, 11/2, 3 types

Today I learned that I am a creative cheapskate who aims high but burns out easily. I seem quiet and place a lot of importance on getting along with people, but I have a fierce competitive streak and the potential to be an artistic genius! I’m nervous, practical, independent and, if I do the research, I might start my own industry (I hope it involves chocolate). Apparently I also sew my own clothes. Yep, Jamie did my numerology. It’s totally addictive, and a good chunk of it is right on. I’m just lamenting that I don’t know my cats’ exact birthdays. Oh well, I’ll have to amuse myself by weaving a coat instead.

refugee pride

As a member of a group that has spent years struggling with what to call itself (ranging from the re-appropriated “queer” to the catchy “L/G/B/T/Q/I”), I feel the need to weigh in on the whole “don’t call us refugees” debate. While a refugee is technically someone who flees his or her country in search of political asylum, the connotative implication seems to be that refugees are poor, dirty, third-world types, and we are not like them . Ahem. I’m pretty sure that refugees from Afghanistan and Rwanda don’t want to be poor and dirty and displaced either. But rather than consider the uncomfortable notion that those-refugees-over-there are intelligent, feeling people who are seeking refuge from a sucky situation, it’s easier to distance ourselves from them. Americans cannot be refugees because that might mean that refugees are human. So I’m putting a call out from some refugee pride. I would love to see poor-and-proud folks from Louisiana and Mississippi rise up, demand what they deser

fried eggs and waffles

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All of a sudden it’s fall. The air is different today than it was the rest of the weekend, even thought it’s still hot. It's as if the weather said, “Uh-oh, it’s Labor Day. Time to put away my white shoes. Time to remind people that it’s harvest time, even in a city where you can go to the beach nine months out of the year, even for girls who didn’t go at all this year and who wear jeans and T-shirts year-round, who don’t own any white shoes except the vinyl go-go boots their girlfriends forbid them to wear in public.” Saturday, back when it was still summer, one half of The Erins visited us (Erin’s wife, Erin, opted for a mellow solo weekend at home in Berkeley). Like Daisye and Yoshiko, The Erins are one of those great couples who’ve been together a really long time and have certain personality parallels with B and I—although The Erins make it to the gym a lot more than B and I, and have more friends—so I look to them as role models/relationship barometers. Pressure’s on, ladies

underdog options

If you go to google.com right now, there’s an immediate link to the Red Cross, but if you go that extra millimeter and actually Google the words “donate hurricane katrina relief,” you’ll discover that there are many excellent organizations seeking donations. The Red Cross is a safe bet, but I can’t help but think that it’s also good to support local aid agencies, which provide jobs to folks in Katrina’s path in addition to offering charitable services. Then again, maybe the local orgs are so devastated right now that money won’t even help. Then again , think about all the non-Red Cross charities that suffered after September 11 because everyone acted as if there was only one need in the world. I frequently run into these sorts of dilemmas when trying to be a good citizen. But the main point is to do something, whether that’s heading down to New Orleans with a rowboat and a pair of rubber gloves or clicking on the Red Cross link or continuing your monthly donations to California arts

two people i dislike

1. George W. Bush This is a man who, according to NPR rumor, took money that was supposed to go toward renovating the pre-Katrina levees and put it toward the war in Iraq. Now both Iraq and New Orleans are full of looting, violence and unsanitary water. But at least George W. is on hand to make useful and comforting statements along the lines of, “We didn’t think the levees would break. But then they broke,” and “People want to go back to their homes, but they can’t go back to their homes now.” 2. My neighbor, whom I will call George W. Bush At Age 26 He happens to be a loud, gross, frat boy-esque grad student, and I suppose that’s his right. As I was leaving for work this morning, George W. Bush At Age 26 asked, “Will you drop me off closer to campus?” I said, “No, sorry, I’m not going that direction.” He just nodded like, Okay, bitch. I felt bad for a few minutes, as is my tendency. Then I thought about the time he and his friends got drunk and peed on our doorstep and I felt less