Showing posts from February, 2006

almost as good as spain

Tracy Lynn had a post the other day about how she hates taking a shower because she might miss out on something really great while she’s lathering, rinsing and repeating. While I’m pretty sure not much exciting goes on at 7:20 a.m., I do sympathize in general. In college, I didn’t study abroad because I was having such a good time at UCLA and I didn’t want to miss a whole year of Bruin life, during which time I was sure my friends would forget about me. They might have, actually, but I’m still not sure if seeing Rent 14 ½ times and attending such cultural events as International Vodka Night at Trinh Bui’s apartment were better than a year in Spain. So I should be excited to go to New York for work next week. Isn’t New York the Spain of America? I am excited that our national office is in Soho and not, like, Kansas City, and that there is talk of an office field trip to Avenue Q . But I also know that I’ll be missing out on some great happenings here in town: 1) Literary Cocktail


We had a discussion in my writing class recently about whether it’s okay to switch genres halfway through a book. The consensus seemed to be no. As Terry explained it, “In the first chapters, you make certain promises to your reader, and it’s problematic if you don’t fulfill those promises.” Also, there’s that whole marketing problem—is it a family saga or magic realism or sci fi? But I hate marketing. And sometimes, in life, people break promises. Maybe readers read to escape life’s broken promises, but I’m not writing escapism, damnit. To bolster my argument in favor of zipping coyly from genre to genre, I present The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw. In the novel, three narrators attempt to decipher the true nature of a Chinese Malaysian businessman named Johnny Lim. He was a Communist, a celebrity, a brokenhearted husband, a traitor, a freedom fighter and/or a murderer, depending who you listen to. The first narrator is his son, Jasper, who presents a historically driven biograp

who's the most cutest kitty-witty in the world? #2

Jacob was the big newsmaker at the cattery last night. The first week I volunteered, he was just two milky eyes peering despondently out of his cave-like kitty bed. Two weeks and one extracted abscessed tooth later, he was a new man. Yes, he was still an elderly, six-pound handful of bones, the frail neighbor whom you sometimes hesitate to talk to because you’re afraid he might die right there on your porch, but who, if you stick it out, tells great (if slightly rambling) stories in a soft, soothing voice. The reborn Jacob hung out on various kitty condos, squirmed good-naturedly while getting his IV and made kissy-faces at the much younger Daisy, who was more interested in napping. But the best news of all is that Jacob has found a home with a couple who adopt elderly cat after elderly cat (and are therefore going straight to heaven, as far as I’m concerned). Since this disqualifies him from being this week’s official Most Cutest Kitty-Witty In The World, I present PeeWee (above):

you might be spending too much time on myspace if...

…you open Vanity Fair , see an American Express ad featuring Kate Winslet and a cute set of fill-in-the-blank questions like “childhood ambition” and “biggest challenge,” see that she has listed Rufus Wainwright and Waiting for Guffman as her favorite musician and movie, and think, “Hey, I love Rufus and Guffman too! I’m totally going to post a comment on her page. Maybe we’ll become friends.”

living with

It was raining and I was listening to This American Life . The theme was “Living Without.” A homeless guy talked about trying to find a place to sleep. Sarah Vowell talked about her wheat allergy. That’s what I love about This American Life . There’s room for both, and both are profound: the lack of a bed and the lack of regular birthday cake. I got to Ilopango , the pupseria that Lizzy, Mars, Kellie and I discovered a few weeks ago. This time I was meeting Jamie and Alanna to talk about putting on a big music/fiction/poetry/art thing in June. I am not an event planner at heart. Right now I’m trying to find a new cell phone plan and the logistics are completely overwhelming me, even though my dad is actually doing most of the research. Even just hearing about the options exhausts me. But over cheesy pupusas served by a waitress who didn’t bother speaking English to us (which I found refreshing for some reason) and thick, fibrous horchata that tasted like it was just off the horcha

who’s the most cutest kitty-witty in the world? #1

I just started volunteering at the Friends of Animals Foundation. I have this idea that I’m researching a novel, but it’s not supposed to be a novel about adorable kitty cats—and yet, the two times I’ve been to FAF, I’ve been overwhelmed with adorableness and the realization that I could easily populate a novel entirely with feline characters. In hopes of staving that off (and maybe finding someone a home), I present a new weekly-ish Bread and Bread feature: Who’s The Most Cutest Kitty-Witty In The World? This week, the answer is Kalahari . She’s basically your high school student body president: pretty but too busy getting straight A’s and coordinating pep rallies to notice. If she were more popular, you’d hate her, but she’s a bit nerdy, a little too enthusiastic. Kalahari greets you at the door, even if you just went across the hall for a second to give some water to the kittens in quarantine. She watches you fill food bowls to make sure you’re doing it right. And in her quiet, co

reality tv

The writers of all those outraged articles about how The L Word does not accurately portray lesbians have clearly never been to Falcon on Sunday night. My usual response to those articles, which essentially say, “How come all the characters are skinny, wear lip gloss and don’t drive trucks?” is, “How come all the girls on straight shows are skinny, wear lip gloss and don’t drive trucks?” I.e. TV does not represent anyone accurately—there’s just more pressure when only one show is giving it a try. But my new response will be, “Have you ever been to Falcon on Sunday night?” After four and a half years of not getting out so much (oh, let’s face it, 27 years—which is my age minus one year when Nerissa and I went dancing semi-regularly), hanging out in any bar is a little foreign. And Falcon, where Heather and I met up with Julia, Joni and Jen on Sunday, is not just any bar. It’s The L Word come to life. I have never seen so many shaggy Eastside hipster haircuts in my life.

they grow up so fast

I hadn’t been feeling like an old maid, despite the mid-February over-abundance of romantic pressures, until I heard the following conversation between my eight-year-old neighbor PJ (brother of DJ and Elijah, whom I call EJ in my head) and his friend in the hallway: PJ: I have a girlfriend. Friend: No you do not. PJ: I do so. I asked her if she wanted to be my girlfriend and she said yes. But then she cheated on me. I got her back though. Friend: Well, I’m married already. I have a heart ring. I think it’s nice that PJ’s friend doesn’t feel that wearing a heart ring threatens his masculinity. After their man-to-man discussion, the boys then resumed their guys’-night-out, which involved swordplay and roller skates.

i am not j.k. rowling, but i do know cursive

My aforementioned favorite kids , Annie Lefkowitz’s Cienega Elementary fourth graders, have met their match: Bonnie Tu rn er’s Washington Elementary third graders. I drove down to Redondo Beach this mo rn ing to do a little show-and-tell as part of their creative writing unit and was quite smitten. “Ms. Tu rn er and I have been friends since we were your age,” I explained. “We used to pretend all kinds of things, which is the first step in writing. We played My Little Ponies, we played house, and sometimes we would talk with English accents to make people think we were from England .” Yeah, we were weird kids. I showed them my CalArts thesis notebook, which is packed with notes that eventually became The Commuters , along with numerous doodles of angels, owls and the word “NARRATIVE!” written in fancy fonts . I was careful to skip over the pages where I’d scrawled things like, “George, Eamon and Roxanne go to Griffith Park , then come home and have a threesome.” I swear, I don’t thin

boogedy is in the eyeball of the beholder

I just changed the picture on my MySpace and Friendster pages (yeah, I use the same picture and text on both sites. I only have so much self-promoting wittiness in me). Stephanie had sent me a concerned email about the old one (left): “Your eyes look all boogedy.” I wasn’t sure what boogedy-ness was, exactly, but when I clicked on the pic and saw it close up, I decided that it must mean “kind of red and wrinkly and cracked out, and maybe slightly wall-eyed.” But just as I was about to upload a new, less scary photo, I got a MySpace message from a young man in Virginia who insisted, among other things, “Your eye balls is the light of my day.” I would never want to deprive anyone’s day of light, but I am starting to understand how movie stars feel: You dye your hair brunette for a role, and suddenly half your fans hate you, while others congratulate you for your newfound depth. It’s a hard life. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for my manicure. So which way should I go, adoring publ


Peels a layer of skin. Turns the world into a bad Hawaiian shirt, harsh on the eyes but impossible not to look at. Rhapsodizes about the girl who crushed my heart beneath the heel of her sensible loafer. Lengthens my nose to junior high school proportions and adds a hump. Orders a third drink. Envies vapid starlets. Shamelessly solicits complements. Does not answer questions or laugh at Uncle Bob’s jokes or ask how my sister’s day was or if she will need knee surgery after all. Turns two men folding a flag at dusk, gentle and bored, into what patriotism was always meant to be. Everyday love. The promise to climb the flagpole again tomorrow, even if the seagulls are flocking inland.

a tentative woo-hoo!

I think I just finished my second novel. Writers (like housekeepers) know that “finished,” is a tricky, debatable, overly hopeful word. But one definition of “finished” could be: In June 2002, you start to write a disjointed collection of scenes from roughly 39 points of view. There are chapters written as poems, chapters from the point of view of a woman who runs the local bed and breakfast in your fictional town. You think it all adds up to something profound about History, Identity, Lesbianism and Postmodernism. In October 2003, you finish your pile of scenes and call it Draft 1. In April 2004, you pick up your pile of scenes and decide it’s time to start working on Draft 2. This involves writing more scenes from more points of view: the girl who starts a “womyn’s” colony, the guy who owns a lot of mules. In June 2004, you start taking Terry Wolverton’s “One Page at a Time” class at Writers at Work and quickly, sadly, discover that a pile of scenes does not equal a novel that a

carnival of the mundane III

Right now on the Westside the sun is shining, a light breeze is blowing and a chainsaw is humming melodically in the distance. It’s probably coming from a construction site, but I like to think that someone nearby is juggling chainsaws, eating light bulbs and swallowing swords. Why? Because the carnival is in town! Head over to colla voce for an appetizing array of mundanities.

rex vs. herman

Sometimes I love America. Like when there’s a big controversy about the redundancy and bureaucracy of federal agencies (in this case FEMA vs. the Department of Homeland Security, of which FEMA is a part)—and that controversy is played out with cartoon animals. The DoHS has just introduced Rex , a “family man” mountain lion and part-time cartographer with movie-star biceps who helps his wife and cubs prepare their home for a disaster. But critics say that Rex competes with Herman, a hermit crab who raps about emergency readiness on (and the FEMA number’s “hold” line, which is soooo much better than soft jazz). Disaster…it can happen anywhere, But we’ve got a few tips, so you can be prepared, For floods, tornadoes, or even a ‘quake, You’ve got to be ready—so your heart don’t break Herman also searches for a “disaster-proof shell” in the online short story “Herman, P.I.C. And The Hunt For A Disaster-Proof Shell.” The story uses the device of repetition (he