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Showing posts from December, 2005

i'd have sworn you were shelter

Terry Wolverton has a great poem, featuring Italy, betrayal and an 84-year-old alcoholic, at http://www.poetryrepairs.com/v06/009.html . It’s just below Marie Cartier's poem about gettin’ it on with Poetry, “the big dic packed with no pretense.”

on illiteracy

One day in sixth grade, I forgot how to read. I first noticed the problem during a school assembly in the cafeteria—maybe I was trying to read someone’s T-shirt or something, because the assembly itself wasn’t text-based. I saw letters and words, but they suddenly didn’t add up to anything. When we got back to class, I looked at the clock (as I often did in sixth grade, despite the sign Mrs. Graham had posted next to it saying, “Time passes. Will you?”) and it didn't make any sense either. By the end of the day, I had a full-blown flu, so I guess it just hit my brain first. Once I reached barf mode, camped out in front of the TV, I could read again, well enough to know that I should call 1-800-THE-LAW-2 if I needed legal advice. My reading skills left me again, although not quite as profoundly, one evening last summer when I sort of got spontaneously drunk. My speech slowed and everything was a little fuzzy. Cathy told me it sounded like a migraine sans headache; apparently a frie

the cutest little tornadoes ever

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When B and I broke up, I had a sense that I was leaving my big, messy life (or rather, it was leaving me) for a small, neat one. I’d often felt pulled in too many directions—trying to spend time with B while she was in town, trying to maintain friendships and trying to keep the carpet reasonably free of cat litter. When the carpet remained stubbornly crunchy, I consoled myself with the fact that this was what a life full of love was like. So, when some of that love said see-ya-later, I consoled myself with the fact that I would now have ample time to vacuum and return emails. But last night a little piece of my big, messy life came to join me in my new home: OC (right) and Temecula moved in. Yeah, I got cat custody as my consolation prize. But it’s a really, really good consolation prize. Even though I felt evil taking them away from Bari in their little carriers. Even though it took about ten minutes for them to knock over a picture frame and dust my new apartment with a patina of o

the saltiest pickle i know

There is something so savory about Alanna and Alanna’s blog. Um, I mean, Mindy and Mindy’s blog. She simultaneously inspires me to be better, and makes me feel good about being who I already am, and she uses phrases like, “ He was the Son of God, and the Balls of Man ” and, “ Someone who is a pickle, should be a pickle .” She makes me think twice about stereotyping Christians, yet not feel guilty about weaseling out of church this Christmas Eve. Curious yet? http://mindychiu.blogspot.com/

girl's best friend

I spent a good chunk of my holiday hours with Rocket, an Australian shepherd/chow mix belonging to Ryan and Lori. I like almost all animals (I am completely, unfairly prejudiced against cockroaches, and I have to admit I was a slow sell on monkeys ), but I come from a cat family, and I don’t quite get dogs. They don’t bend right. My dad has been known to look at dogs and say, “Purr. Come on, purr. How am I supposed to know if you’re happy?” While I’m hip to the tail-wagging thing, my own knowledge doesn’t go much farther. Rocket doesn’t purr, and he’s not really a licker (fine with me) or a cuddler. When I unlocked Ryan and Lori’s front door on my first night of house- and dog-sitting, I entered very carefully, with the story of how Rocket tried to bite the exterminator fresh in my mind. He barked a couple of times, and issued a half-hearted growl, then just stood in the living room and stared at me. This was our M.O. for the first evening. I patted him on the head periodically and

the world of things

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To look around my new apartment, you would never know that I just moved in Saturday. Books are on shelves, pictures are on walls and food is in the fridge. I was able to accomplish this thanks to help with heavy lifting from my dad, my dad’s girlfriend Susan, my sister, my sister’s boyfriend Marvin and my sister’s roommate Kelli, who just volunteered out of the blue, I think because she had a breakup a few years ago that followed very similar patterns to mine and B’s. Pity is way underestimated. I went on a 48-hour move-in frenzy, unpacking boxes, stocking up at Ikea and assembling furniture until the wee hours of the morning. “My fingers are sore from all the screwing,” I told Cathy the next morning. “I’m really tempted to make a bad joke about how that’s the only kind of screwing I’ll be doing for a long time, but I won’t because that’s just the sort of ‘I’m a pathetic old maid’ humor I’ve vowed to avoid in an attempt to convince myself I’m both a feminist and dateable.” “Good thi

ballyhoo for the boring

I’ve always wanted to run away and join the circus. When I was in junior high, I read a Teen Magazine profile of three girls who were contortionists with Cirque du Soleil . They were skinny and talented and had beautiful pink and purple costumes, all of which were appealing to my 12-year-old self: I was fat (or so my skinny 12-year-old self thought), could only do the splits on the left side, and wore biker shorts and Body Glove T-shirts to gymnastics class. But I’m not picky about my circuses. I wrote a term paper on P.T. Barnum (big, flashy, swindle-the-suckers circus), I loved Geek Love (dark, fetishy, freak show circus) and I took a class from a real live bearded lady at CalArts (pomo political circus). And yet my life—past three weeks excluded—is undeniably un-circus-like. Oh, let’s face it, even the past three weeks of post-break-up hell are hellish in a really ordinary way. Like, I can’t even say, “At least it will make great material for a future novel,” because I don’t bel

mallternative

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I know I’m not the first, or even the 119th, person to say this, but holiday shopping generally sucks. You spend money you don’t have to buy gifts your relatives don’t need or want, which were most likely made by small Indonesian children who would be having Tiny Tim-style Christmases if they were Christian. This Sunday, Jamie , Lee-Roy and I discovered one fabulous antidote: Bazaar Bizarre . Subtitled “not your granny’s craft fair,” it was an expo center full of purses made from recycled sweaters, Shrinky Dink jewelry, hand-stitched iPod cases, bondage gear and papier mache piggy banks made by decidedly non-oppressed art school grads. (And I’m happy to say that most of the silk screeners screened their designs—smiling robots, graceful jellyfish, rock and roll kitty cats—on American Apparel T-shirts.) My friend Erin , a knitter of many non-granny-like items, would have loved this fair. Incidentally, I think both my biological grandmother and my adopted grandmother would have too. T

caught in the middle in mid-city

At first I worried that that damn New Urbanism would exile me to a suburban ghetto—Reseda, Pacoima, Norwalk. But it turns out I’m just upwardly mobile enough to afford the urban semi-ghetto—those areas where poor people of color rent and young white gentrifiers buy. As a white girl looking to rent, apartment hunting is an interesting sociological experience. Here are some of the many ways people have asked me, “Why would you want to live here/there ?” over the course of the past week: Current tenant of a one-bedroom in Baldwin Hills: “Well, it’s the ‘hood, you know? Helicopters fly over.” Teenage boys outside aforementioned one-bedroom in Baldwin Hills: “Hey, schoolgirl. We don’t get your kind around here much, so we gotta look while we can.” My dad: “Have you thought about Long Beach?” Friends who live in Burbank and WeHo: “Move to Hollywood! Move to Hollywood!” Manager of a Koreatown building: “Hola”…something in Spanish about los apartamentos...hears me speak English…phone clatter

if trees could speak, they wouldn't

My therapist is always reminding me that nature is inefficient—you never hear a plant say, “I didn’t go jogging this morning. I am such an unworthy plant.” Not just because plants don’t have legs, but because they’re cool with who they are: beings that bask in the sun for as long as there is sun. Or as Dorianne Laux puts it in “The Life of Trees” (from Facts About the Moon and brought to my attention by Jamie ): The pines rub their great noise into the spangled dark. They scratch their itchy boughs against the house and the mystery of that moan translates into drudgery of ownership: time to drag the ladder from the shed, climb onto the roof with a saw between my teeth, cut those suckers down. What’s reality if not a long exhaustive cringe from the blade, the teeth? I want to sleep and dream the life of trees, beings from the muted world who care nothing for Money, Politics, Power, Will or Right, who want little from the night but a few dead stars going dim, a white owl lifting from

light reading, heavy heart

I always knew that InStyle was a little bit evil, but as such, it’s packed with temptation in the form of “satin eye masks with beaded trim…$25 each” and “18kt-gold-plated candlestick with sapphires and labradorites, $420.” You know, shiny stuff. But there’s nothing worse to read after your girlfriend of four and a half years breaks up with you (yeah, that’s what’s up, in case my abstractly angsty posts haven’t given me away). Especially the celebrity profiles, because InStyle has this amazing ability to make even the most miserable, strung-out, tabloid-whore celebrities sound exuberant and wise. I really should have known better than to open to this month’s Gwyneth Paltrow profile in my current state. But there I was this morning, groggy and vulnerable, reading: “Why is this woman smiling? Is it because Gwyneth Paltrow a) married a rock star; b) has an adorable daughter; or c) loves her job? Answer: all of the above.” The good news is, my InStyle subscription will run out soon a

my rejection collection

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B’s computer is having problems—whenever you ask it to do anything, it makes this anguished whirring noise. It does the thing, but very, very slowly. That’s pretty much me right now. I did some writing last night, but it was like I was typing with gloves on. Everything felt fuzzy and clumsy. I want to do some reading, and lord knows I need to do some reading, but so far the most complicated thing I’ve been able to handle is Quick Shots of False Hope: A Rejection Collection by Laura Kightlinger, which I found on B’s bookshelf. It’s funny and honest and articulates some pains of adolescent girlhood that I haven’t seen elsewhere (and that’s saying a lot, since adolescent girlhood is hardly uncharted territory), although there are a few unnecessary sentences that her editor should have crossed out. But mostly I’ve been watching episode after episode of My Super Sweet 16 , thanks to Cathy’s sisterly nurturing and her roommate’s TiVo. My life may suck right now, but at least I’m not a 16