Showing posts from April, 2006

i vs. e vs. scientology

The aforementioned Very Nice Girl , whom I will call AK until she decides she’s down with being plastered all over my blog (or comes up with a better pseudonym, although this one is rooted in cleverness, as it is a combination of Ackleykid and a.k.a.)—anyway, that girl is into Myers-Briggs (she only likes him as a friend, luckily). If you work in any type of environment with cubicles, you’re probably familiar with it. You take a test and fall on one of two sides of four fences. For example, I’m an ISFJ: introvert, sensing, feeling, judging. AK is an INFP: introvert, intuiting, feeling, perceiving. There is a lot to be said about personality tests and their validity and what the sheer act of taking of them reveals about the takers (I’m talking to you, all you folks who post the results of the “Which Smurf are you?” quiz on your MySpace page)—but one thing that particularly stood out to me was that Myers-Briggs said I only had a slight tendency toward introversion. B once explained t

who’s the most cutest kitty-witty in the world? #7

Yesterday my sister sent me a link to a site called . After looking at photos of Post-It notes, fruit, shoes, oven mitts, dogs, Legos, beanbags and babies perched atop un-amused cats, I drove over to the cattery, where putting Post-It notes, fruit, shoes, oven mitts, dogs, Legos, beanbags and babies on the residents is sadly not in my job description. But watching tiny, tiny Fudge Ripple (who is for some reason called Stripe, not to be confused with Stripe FitzLahey ), I was really tempted to pick her up and deposit her atop 22-pound Tahoe . And I think she’d be up for it. Why? Because Stripe and her sister Orange Swirl are gymnasts. It’s not just that they’re young and limber and small even for kittens. It’s the way they carry themselves. Shoulders back. Legs liquid. Focus on the business of sticking that landing, not eating potato chips and talking about boys like the rest of the girls their age. If you were like me as a kid—i.e. desperatel


Lately I’ve been kind of obsessed with how simultaneously big and small the world is. Some of this has to do with my much-ignored writing project . Some of this has to do with the internet and a number of freaky six-degrees-of-separation discoveries. The weird thing about the internet is that, in all its vastness, it’s one of the best ways to zero in and discover what’s right next to you. Kind of like how Dorothy needs to go to Oz to discover Kansas. Or maybe it’s not like that. I wrote a poem on this general topic while sitting in the back of a classroom in the education department of the Natural History Museum today. The poem involved a giant dead shark, ancient Aztecs, text messaging and a very nice girl I am dating. Writing about the ancient and the technological in one poem is a cheap but effective poetry trick. I am not really a poet, and hence not above cheap tricks.

dirty writing

When I finished reading Michelle Tea ’s new novel, Rose of No Man’s Land , this weekend, it dawned on me that one of the things I love about her writing is that her characters have greasy hair and messy bedrooms. Clothes itch and secondhand smoke stinks up rooms and sticky frosting drips off cinnamon rolls and down the fronts of shirts. You hear about “gritty realism” (most memorably, I heard about it from a giant-egoed undergrad professor who was touting his own story collection), and usually it means that someone in the book is on drugs or gets molested. These things do happen in Michelle Tea’s uber-honest memoirs and fiction, which are fraught with scenes of giddy rebellion, but I relish the more literal grit. Her characters are not clean, and sometimes it makes them feel small, as when Trisha, the 14-year-old narrator of Rose , marvels at her beauty-student older sister’s ability to sculpt hair into stiff, sleek towers of femininity. Sometimes it makes them feel good, as w

snaggletooth, that's who

I took the day off work to take Temecula to the vet (ah, the life of a single mom) to have her teeth brushed. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But Washington Dog and Cat Hospital has a locked metal door that they have to buzz you through, and many of the dogs in the waiting room have ropes tied around their necks instead of leashes. In other words, I don’t think this vet would get much business recommending frivolous procedures. It’s not really a Tinkerbell crowd. Mec-Mec is good about going to the vet, and good about many things. Before B and I adopted her, her rescuers named “Angel” because she was so good. That proved to be only half true—she’s good in that she doesn’t freak out the way normal cats do, doesn’t poo where she’s not supposed to, doesn’t have many nervous habits. But she knows how to cause trouble when she wants to. Just try telling her that she can’t play on top the cabinets above the sink. Her goodness comes more from her non-cat-ness. She is uber-mellow—even the vacuu

this lipstick tastes like bubblegum

A few days ago, Hope came to my door. It arrived via USPS in a brown box. Inside was a small plastic jar with a black lid. The label read, “hope in a jar.” I had been having kind of a rough day. How did it know exactly what I needed? Actually, it’s my friend Nerissa who knew: She’s a style writer for the San Jose Mercury News , which means she writes glossy stuff on newsprint, which pretty much describes Nerissa: glamorous but down-to-earth. She’d sent me and Jamie a handful of products to test, as well as a few just-for-fun freebies. Yes, I’m going to be one of those quotes you read in girly mags: “This lipstick tastes like bubblegum, and now my boyfriend can’t stop kissing me!” It will be a little challenging, because I’m pretty low-maintenance as far as beauty products go, and I don’t always follow instructions. I don’t repeat after lathering and rinsing, and I’ve been known to put lip gloss on my eyelids. I’m kind of tempted to get all subversive in my comments: “T


Upon hearing I was going to the Great Valley Writers Conference , someone asked me, “As in, Valley writers who are great? Or writers who live in the Great Valley?” It was the latter, I explained—but now that I’m back, I can safely say that it’s the former too. The conference, sponsored by Heyday Books and held at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center , boasted a roster of locals who’d made it big (in poetry terms, which means a book published by an indie press and a room at the TraveLodge) and had either come home or never left. People like David Mas Masumoto , who is as sweet as the organic peaches he grows outside of Fresno; Tim Hernandez , who travels with a band and tells a good story about his dad trying to kill a pig in their garage; and Devoya Mayo, my very own co-worker, who—I learned at Saturday’s open mic—is also one fierce poet. But I think my favorite moment of the conference—not counting the free, nasty drinks served up in celebration of Easter weekend across the street

the big sleep (a.k.a. WTMCK-WITW #6)

Ray was a square-jawed black cat with a sign outside his cage that said, “Wa rn ing: Do not let Ray out unsupervised. He gets aggressive with other cats.” You would too if you’d been raised on the mean streets of Los Angeles , a land of brown rivers, pink smog and a fallen angel on every co rn er. Ray didn’t give much thought to his hardscrabble life or the fact that, by some estimates, he’d tu rn ed it around, becoming a cub reporter for the Times— the old rag, before they cleaned it up—when he was barely litter-trained. By other estimates, it was that gig that messed him up for good. He took his job as investigative reporter seriously, and technicalities like “the law” less seriously. He looked corruption in the eye and, as everyone knows, cats always win staring contests. But after he looked a little too long and a little too hard at a crooked cop’s wife in the alley behind the Shortstop, he acquired a permanent bump on his nose and a barbed wire fence around his heart.

mission accomplished

Good news: I no longer need to work on my third novel, which I’d been having trouble with anyway. Let me explain: In semi-celebration of Stephanie’s birthday, a group of her actor friends and I went to see one of their fellow actor friends, Liam Christopher O’Brien (they just call him “Liam,” though), in a dress rehearsal of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons at the Geffen Playhouse . I went in expecting to see a great cast (Len Cariou, Neil Patrick Harris, Laurie Metcalf and of course Liam) in some-play-by- one-of-those-acclaimed-old-white-guys. But I came away wondering why Death of a Salesman is performed to death whereas All My Sons languishes, the phrase conjuring up vague soap opera images. Set in the late 1940s, the play opens with the eerie, lightning-quick image of a tree blowing down in a storm as a woman in a white nightgown watches stoically. We soon lea rn that the woman is Kate Keller (Metcalf), who refuses to accept the disappearance of her oldest son in World War

young love: a tale of monkey balloons and web cams

Sara and I hit downtown Burbank last night, because we’re cool like that. Once we’d exhausted ourselves at the hangar-sized Urban Outfitters, the progressive-artistic-expensive Skyblupink and the troublingly named Melrose In Burbank, we sat down on a metal bench at what can only be described as the epicenter of Burbank street life. We drank our coffee and watched a young man set up shop across the cement aisle. “Shop” consisted of a box of un-inflated balloons and a small chart depicting various animals one might request that the balloons be made into. He got to work on something involving several brown and white balloons, and was soon joined by a young, blonde-haired woman. She stood nearby, hands in her pockets, talking to him and smiling. She rocked back and forth on her toes. He kept twisting the balloons, and soon they started to resemble a monkey. “Do you think they’re working together?” Sara asked. “She’s not doing anything, but she’s been there an awfully long time.” “May

who’s the most cutest kitty-witty in the world? #5

Looking in Basil ’s close-set green eyes, I see a royal past. He has a bo rn -in-Egypt, educated-in- Britain look about him. Plus his Petfinder profile lists him as a purebred Ocicat. But as readers of fairytales know, a noble birth is no guarantee that you won’t end up an angsty scullery maid in some jerk’s castle due to a cruel twist of fate. In Basil’s case, I believe that he and his mother Jasmine , a spotted redhead Ocicat with an equally narrow, regal head, fled from her abusive tomcat of a husband, leaving their Lear Jet lifestyle for the crowded, laundry-basket-as-bed ghetto that is Friends of Animals. (And, to their credit, it’s a pretty nice ghetto—but when you’re used to the Four Seasons, it’s hard to appreciate the clean utilitarianism of Motel 6.) Being the well bred cats that they are, though, Basil and Jasmine have brought a sort of “Well then, let’s paint our little flat in the projects a lovely shade of yellow, shall we?” attitude to their new life. They’re old


Although TV would tell you otherwise, LA is not all palm trees and plastic surgery clinics. LA is pupuserias and Persian markets and, today, thick sloshes of rain. I get my cliché-LA fix by scanning the tabloids in the check-out line and then I’m on my way. But every now and then I stumble into Beverly Hills and am as weirded out as any Midweste rn er. Last night, a handful of friends who wouldn’t let me get away with not going out on my birthday met me at the Newsroom on Robertson. I got there early, though, and I had some time to shop. Or maybe I should say “shop.” When a plastic bracelet costs $68, you need quotation marks. I actually had to force myself to go in the first frou-frou-y store, literally saying to myself, “I am 29 years old now. I will not let the fact that I am visibly poor keep me in my place.” And, um, I realize that browsing filmy $275 blouses—something I’m sure tourists and readers of In Touch do every day, annoying the salespeople as much as I in my

double plug

Sounds kinky, doesn’t it? But actually I’m just doing a little PG self-promotion. Although if you want something a tad more R-rated, I recommend checking out “Scintilla” and “Phantoms,” two of the stories I selected for this issue of the online queer fiction mag Blithe House Quarterly . The second plug goes to Jane’s Stories III: Women Writing Across Boundaries . I was going to say, “When you’re done reading about sex, read about sweatshops!”—the subject matter of the story I have in the anthology. Except I’m not sure how you’d go about doing that because even though I received an email saying the book is out, it’s not actually featured anywhere on the Jane’s Stories Press website yet. So I googled it and found the Library of Congress table of contents page . That was pretty cool. Apparently the book features “American literature -- Women authors,” “American literature -- 21st century,” and “Women -- Literary collections.” Aww yeeah.