Showing posts from November, 2005

i hate a parade

When you have a terrible, terrible Saturday, what you want to do on Sunday is watch Rent in a dark theater with one of your oldest and best friends and a big wad of tissues. What you do not want to do is watch the Hollywood Christmas Parade. The benefit of parades in general is dubious: the pseudo-celebrities, the bad music, the slowness. But the detritus of parades—especially a parade held in one of the most congested parts of the city—is what makes them truly hateable: the blocked streets, the Star Waggons, the pressure to celebrate. You inch along Lexington, where you’ve been diverted, where there’s no hope of making a left turn for several miles, and alternate between checking in with Steph via cell phone (“There goes Vine. Can’t turn there.”) and rocking out to the pissed-off beats of Green Day’s American Idiot album. When you finally wind your way more or less into the area where the ArcLight is, and actually find a pretty good parking spot, you see three fire trucks turn the

makes me want to pack up my tofurkey and head for canada

A uniquely American tradition for a uniquely American holiday (from ): After being pardoned, the [two] turkeys will jet to Disneyland to lead the Main Street Parade, then live the rest of their days inside the California park. “They are the luckiest and happiest birds on the face of the earth,” Rothfork said. “They’re lucky because they're getting pardoned and they’re happy because they're going to Disneyland.” To get the turkeys ready for the Disney parade crowds, their handlers have been tossing handfuls of confetti at them and repeatedly playing the Disney theme song at full volume.

the king of cyberspace

Last night I had a dream about my blog. I have a history of boring dreams , but this wasn’t one of them. In my dream, I had learned how to steal the coding from other people’s blogs so that I could customize mine—add interesting background graphics, link to supplemental pages. The blog I decided to mimic had a sort of chick-lit vibe, and I was worried about its curly fonts, but I managed to make mine more stately. What a bummer to visit my blog this morning and realize that it’s still the green-and-orange “Tic-Tac” template. Not that it’s a bad template, it’s just not the template of my dreams. My tech skills are no match for my imagination. I still don’t know how to upload a photo to my profile (help anyone?). I think the dream was prompted by the episode of The King of Queens I watched last night. (That’s the sort of show people cite when they want to give an example of the most generic sitcom possible, but I actually think it’s pretty funny. One of the things I like about it is t

meet your new life coach

It’s official: I’ve written the longest novel I’m ever allowed to write. Because printing one copy (double-sided, 1.5-spaced) takes exactly as much paper as will fit in my printer’s paper tray. It’s printing right now, and my printer—while proving to be a trooper overall—has taken to taking troubling little breaks between pages. Anyway, I would like to take this opportunity to say what a great show Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy is. (I watch a lot of TV when B is out of town.) I watched an episode Wednesday night in which a down-home, under-appreciated Montana mom swapped places with a rich, swimwear model/life coach mom from Westchester County, New York. Of course the clip shown in all the ads was the part where Montana Mom’s teenage son tells the camera, “My new mom is hot .” But the more interesting part of the show came when Westchester County Mom tried to life-coach her new kids. The boys, 18 and 20, thought the surveys WC Mom asked them to fill out were bullshit, and ign

my new mistress

I ran into Matt from my writing class at the Coffee Table yesterday. “Hey, what’s going on?” he said. “Oh, not much,” I said. Then after a long pause, it all came rushing out: “Actually, I started a new novel last week. I hadn’t planned to, but it had sort of been building up, I guess. I didn’t want to start anything until I knew for sure the other novel was finished. I had this plan to take a nice long break and maybe do a little research, but I don’t know, it just happened. And it’s fun .” “And now you feel like you’re cheating on your other book?” Matt sympathized. He just started a new novel too, and we learned in class later that night that even our teacher had stumbled into a new project while in the midst of another. It was like Cheaters Anonymous, and it was very cathartic to learn I was not the only fallen one. I can be a little anal about my writing routine sometimes. It’s not always good for me, but it’s a more productive addiction than booze. But I was determined, with

but she didn't catch my triple axle

Since I can't figure out how to put two pictures in one post, this photo of the environmental-lawyer-on-wheels gets its own post. One of Sara's other talents is skating while snapping pictures.

an appetizer

A little sliver of my upcoming book, The Commuters , is online at . You can also read great poems by Jamie , Ryan and a couple of other cool folks. And if you ever wondered, “What kind of grant opportunities does the non-profit literary service organization Poets & Writers offer?” that question is answered too.


Saturday night I accompanied Sara to a friend-of-a-friend’s roller-rink birthday party at World on Wheels. The theme—generous in its breadth—was ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, so I put together a ‘70s outfit that consisted almost entirely of items I wear on a regular basis: polyester shirt depicting giraffes on a red-and-brown jungle background, knit cap, bellbottoms. My only out-of-the-ordinary accessory was a long metal chain adorned with a five-inch owl charm, whose red glass eyes matched my shirt. Sara and Becky and I decided that the look was Idealistic Environmental Lawyer. So yeah, my outfit sort of missed the rollerskating boat, as I discovered when I walked into WOW and saw acres of girls in early ‘80s roller gear: short slit shorts, striped knee socks, pigtails. One girl’s “shorts” were definitely boy-shorts-style underwear, but to her credit, she had the back pocket to pull it off. Since I don’t hang out on the beach or in Beverly Hills very often, sometimes I forget how many girls

the jenny craig of west adams

When embarking on a weight loss plan, it’s helpful to be surrounded by a community of supporters—people who help you set realistic goals and encourage good health, not anorexia. Even if, say, you didn’t know you were trying to lose weight and thought you were just jogging down Vermont Avenue because it’s good for your heart and helps you think about the new novel taking shape in your head. Even then, it can be oh so helpful when a middle-aged man in a fedora shouts the following words of encouragement: “Keep going, baby! You can lose it! Lose those ten pounds! But don’t lose the back, baby. You gotta keep the back pocket.” Since I was wearing sweats (no pockets), I interpreted that to mean he thought I could stand to lose a few pounds, but liked my ass. Gosh, thanks! (On a related note: )

the cheryl comedy hour

When I started traveling more for work (and B started traveling way more), I realized why comedians always have lots to say about airplane food—they spend 80% of their lives in transit. This point was driven home last night when I was waiting for my delayed flight at the Oakland airport, and I was on the phone with B, making plans to take her to the airport the next morning. “I can’t believe I’m at the airport, talking about a trip to the airport. Which will take place in less than 12 hours,” I complained. “It just seems wrong.” “So do you want to talk about when you’re going to fly out and meet me in New York over Thanksgiving instead?” “You’re not helping.” I’ve also noticed myself making schticky mental observations about airport life. For example, last week when I went to pick up B, I headed to LAX early so that I could exchange some leftover Hong Kong dollars at the international terminal. The only time I’d spent in the international terminal previously (like any normal perso

the starbucks chronicles #2

I like to consider my artistic tastes eclectic and sometimes off-the-beaten-path, if not quite avant garde or highbrow. But I may have to reconsider after hearing two songs in a row at Starbucks this morning that I recognized from my personal music collection. Starbucks also likes to consider its tastes eclectic and smart, and the songs they play (and sell) are both of those things, but in a safe, yuppified, short-playlist kind of way. I’ve never bought a CD at Starbucks, but I’m clearly not as far from doing so as I’d like to be. Part of me thinks this is a sign from the universe that it’s time to punk things up a little. Another part of me—which is a really loud part these days—thinks that uniqueness is fairly futile, so it’s better to focus on goodness. Yeah, you’ve got to wonder what you’re not hearing, but you can still enjoy Bessie Smith and Joni Mitchell while they’re spinning, and think about the days when they were what wasn’t being played.

there but for the grace of a '97 honda civic

At this moment I am still reeling from the intensity of Crash , which B and I watched on DVD last night. At this moment France is noticing that not all of France is French. And at this moment I am reading my third novel in six months about black people written by a white author. I feel like all of these things are related and that there is something important to be said or learned, but I’m not sure what. Crash says a lot of what needs to be said about race—especially race in LA—in a more complex, honest and brutal manner than any I’ve seen on film. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is a series of vignettes in which the lives of Angelnos collide (quite literally, car town that we are) and often turn violent as a result ethnic tensions and prejudices. A white cop saves the life of a black woman when her car flips over, but she wouldn’t have been driving in an agitated state if that same cop hadn’t pulled her over and molested her and humiliated her husband the night before. But that c

he is jordan, hear him roar

So you know how everyone thinks their own kid (or grandkid or niece or nephew) is the cutest baby in the world? Well, if Bonnie were ever to make that claim about Jordan—and she hasn’t, because she’s very modest—there’s a good chance she would be right. I think Jordan is at least in the top five, out of the billions of children in the world. Of course the children of everyone else I know round out that top five. Here’s Jordan in his Halloween costume.

i had 506 miles to think about this

I just returned from a work trip to Fresno, the point of which was to seek out creative writers in California’s Central Valley. There are many, but let me tell you, they’re not naming the streets of their cities. In addition to the usual letters and numbers (which is practical if not exciting), Fresno has streets named Tulare, Mariposa, Merced and Stanislaus. If you spend a large portion of your work life staring at a map of California, you know that these are names of California counties. I’m cool with that. Themes are nice. There was also an Olive, and I think local flora is nice too. But in taking a less direct route home (so I could meet my fourth grade teacher in Porterville, a reunion that fell somewhere between nerve-wracking and heartwarming), I discovered that the towns of Tulare and Visalia and Porterville also have streets named Tulare, Mariposa, Merced, Stanislaus and Olive. Well, I’m pretty sure that they do. Because of the repetition I started to feel a little insane,

ben franklin, at least, would approve

Interpretive dancers, like librarians and rocket scientists and, I don’t know, maybe strippers, have one of those professions known mostly by its stereotypes. People use interpretive dance as a stand-in any time they want to reference something dull and pretentious or something improvised and opaque. I was guilty of interpretive dance humor at my last reading , when I said, “I have a cold, so if I lose my voice, I guess I’ll just start doing interpretive dance.” But even though I’ve been to plenty of dance performances, even though I went to CalArts, I can’t say that I’ve ever actually seen interpretive dance in action. Or at least I couldn’t until Saturday night. B and I, plus Jamie and Lee-Roy and Ryan (not Singapore Ryan; he’s still in Singapore), turned out for Beyond Baroque ’s Constitution-themed evening to see Jen Benka read her truly beautiful-smart-sad-hopeful book, A Box of Longing with 50 Drawers , which features one poem for each word of the preamble to the U.S. Consti