Showing posts from January, 2007

on feb. 12 i will not read a story about meth labs

If you’re a regular but reluctant KROQ listener like myself, you know that Kevin and Bean have nothing good to say about the 909 (or gay folks or uppity people of color or women who have the audacity not to be hot, but that’s another blog post). The 909 (a.k.a. the Inland Empire, a.k.a. Inlandia , a.k.a. Riverside and San Be rn ardino Counties ) has an unfortunate reputation for being home to meth labs and dirt and not much else. For 30 years now, the good folks in the creative writing department of UC Riverside have been making the 909 an increasingly important cultural region with a fabulous little event called Writers Week . This year’s lineup includes Califo rn ia Poet Laureate Al Young , performance artist Tim Miller (one of the NEA Four !) and, um, up-and-coming LA writer Cheryl Klein , among others. I hope you’ll make the trek on the 10 East (but if you can’t, or if you, like my dad, are all about Cheryl and not so much about the NEA Four, I’ll be reading in LA

yet another way in which life is not like TV

Okay, I’m at that point in my flu when I’m too well to sleep, but still too sick to do anything productive, and reading has given me a headache. So I decided to do what women on TV and in chick lit novels do when they’re feeling crappy: I took a bath. I even lit a candle. But unlike on TV and in chick lit novels, I didn’t fill the tub with bubble bath so that no non-PG parts showed. There were a few specks of cat litter in the tub, kicked up from the litter box nearby, which, if I sat in the front half of the tub, I could smell. Also, I discovered that because my bathroom is just barely the width of a regular-sized tub, there was no little ledge on which to comfortably rest my head. This was all news to me because I’d never taken a bath at my apartment in the just-over-a-year I’ve lived here. Arguably, I don’t relax enough. But my rebuttal to that argument would be, yes, I do, but when I relax, I relax so much that drawing a bath (don’t you love that phrase?) is too much work. I la


That’s how I felt when I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, and how I continued to feel until about five minutes ago. I’ve recently upgraded to bleh, with no additional melodramatic letters. My first thought was, Am I strong enough to pick up the phone to call in sick to work? My second was, Since I’m not going to work, maybe I can do some yoga, work on chapter one of my novel and redesign my MySpace page . My body was doing a fine job of being sick, but my brain was in denial. Between naps, I did finish Lisa Glatt ’s A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That , a sharply written book that took me a few steps closer to understanding girls who sleep with lots of guys. But mostly I wished I had a TV so I could raise the remote and feebly click between Jenny Jones and General Hospital and behave like a proper sick person. I tried to determine the origin of my illness. There were three culprits: 1) The fish burrito I ate yesterday at Señor Fish , where AK and I wrote and sketched and discussed

dar williams and my dental hygienist/eugenicist

I know three of Dar Williams ’ albums practically by heart, and went to her show at the Hotel Café last night ready to quietly hum along, and to stifle my urge to not-so-quietly hum along. But she’s been putting out music for a long time, and I only recognized two or three of the songs she played. No matter—besides the fact that her precise, transcendent lyrics snag you right away, she’s also an amazing stage presence. I say this as someone who doesn’t really pay attention to such things—I’m always more about writing and ideology than I am about performance. Not since seeing Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls (which, fine, was two weeks ago, but before that it had been a really long time) has a performer had such a profound effect on me. Whereas I sort of wanted to adopt Effie in all her wide-eyed toughness, I wanted Dar to adopt me . She had this great song called “The Babysitter’s Here”: She’s the best one that we’ve ever had She sits on her hair and she’s tall as my dad And she got mad

cal u 4 eva

Sunday night’s episode of The L Word (or maybe it was last week’s episode—we watched two back to back at Nicole’s and they blurred a bit) found Bette working as the new dean of the art department at California University. On one hand, I was annoyed that the show increasingly seems to be about a group of lesbian celebrities: the hot young author, the hairstylist to the stars, the studio exec (didn’t Tina run a community center last season?), the radio personality and now the art world hotshot. On the other hand, I was excited to see that Bette was teaching at my favorite fake university. Cal U was also home to Saved By the Bell: The College Years and the college years of Beverly Hills, 90210 . For the longest time, my TV fantasy was that Tiffani-Amber Thiessen’s characters, Kelly and Valerie, would run into each other on campus. They’d look exactly alike, except one would have AquaNet bangs and one would have an early version of The Rachel. Now that The L Word has landed at Cal U, t

motherhood and apple pie

People always seem to be dreaming of escaping to idyllic small towns to live simpler lives closer to the earth—even uber-urbanites like my boss and the characters in Rent . I’m still working on sloughing off the suburbs, so usually such dreams elude me, but for much of this weekend, I understood what everyone was talking about. AK and I headed to Julian, a mountain town east of San Diego that my family visited a lot when I was a kid. We used to stay at Cuyamaca, the nearby state park, in our motor home and drive into Julian for the pie and gift stores, its main attractions. But AK and I stayed at the Julian Hotel , which felt luxurious not only because it was warm and roofed and right in town instead of nine miles away, but because it was everything you want a bed and breakfast to be: cozy, floral and staffed by kind older ladies who feel really awful about asking you to leave the parlor because it closes at 10 p.m. I was a little nervous that AK would be bored, since she’s a city girl

some good things that happened at AK's 31st birthday party

Nice people came. My sister wore the socks I gave her, and I wore the socks she gave me. We decided we’d probably given each other socks in the first place because our mom always used to make us put “cute socks” on our Christmas wish lists for relatives, so that they’d have an inexpensive option. So my lists always looked like: “Horse. Pool. Cute socks. Cable TV.” Karaoke brought out the best in people. Cathy and I discussed the lyrics to “Take Me or Leave Me” from Rent before getting up to sing it. Someone pointed out, “They have the lyrics on the screen. It’s karaoke.” We were like, “We know, we just want to do extra good.” Which, when it comes to Klein girls and singing, means “slightly better than horrible.” If there had been a contest, two members of our party would totally have tied for first place. Emily garnered hugs from unknown straight girls with her rendition of Willie Nelson’s “You Were Always on My Mind,” in which she performed both the male and female parts perfectly. Bu

when in doubt, turn to online quizes

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could i please have just a tiny bit of money?

For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on this grant application that, if I got it, would give me $50,000, meaning that I could go to Malaysia and find out once and for all how people go about renting bicycles there . Pretty sweet, huh? Except the application process is really, really involved (as it should be for $50,000)—like applying to a college that only admits one person. It’s hard to get my hopes up, and yet, if I don’t get my hopes up, how can I write a convincing application? I’m lea rn ing a bit about myself in the process. For example, hard work is sort of its own reward. Not as nice as $50,000, but it does feel good to pick away at the essay questions and think, Look at me, applying for a grant. I must be one of those hardworking writers who puts her work out in the world. I feel limber and muscular (in the strictly metaphorical sense, since the process involves a lot of sitting in front my computer). I’m also being reminded of something my therapist could h

L word premiere highlights

And by “highlights,” I mean “really awful moments of a two-thirds awful show that I’ll nevertheless keep watching.” We (me, AK, Meehan and three nice dykes I met for the first time last night) gathered at Nicole’s apartment, which was so much better than Falcon for a variety of reasons: 1) You can hear the dialogue—this isn’t always a good thing, but it’s harder to make fun when you don’t know what’s going on. 2) Not being at Falcon means I’m not single and trying to blend in with a group of friends who are nice enough but whom I barely know and whose jeans and haircuts are leagues more amazing than mine will ever be. 3) You can smoke pot at Nicole’s. I’m not saying anyone did, just that it was an option. After pizza and salad and wine and truffles (all of which collectively cost the same amount as one martini at Falcon), we crowded onto Nicole’s couch and air mattress (which were so much more comfortable than bar stools—yes, okay, I’m an old, old, let’s-stay-in-tonight lesbian),

why draft two begins with a hip-hop class and a cup of hot chocolate

“Only from expansiveness, even laziness, of mind and body can emerge the most original and pure ideas, as well as the true rhythm of the novelist…. The broadened perspective of the deeply relaxed mode lends itself to one of the great pleasures of the form—its spaciousness, the room it provides to play. In the forgiving context of years, you can experiment, take risks, and fix any mistakes over as many drafts as it takes.” --Patricia Chao, Poets & Writers Magazine

five things you don't know about me

Per a tag from Erin , who I just learned is a competitive, boy-hating hypochondriac who sucks at phys chem, though she always seemed to me like a super nice smarty pants who adored her family and ran marathons. 1) When I was five, I thought it would be really fun to be deaf, like Linda on Sesame Street , or blind, like Mary in the Little House books. My eyesight is getting worse each year, so I’m carefully watching what I wished for. 2) The point at which I most genuinely believed my life was over was when I was 14 and did not make drill team, and my two best friends did. Seriously, this trumped my mom’s death and my breakup with B—not in terms of sadness, but in terms of sheer despair. 3) An embarrassing corollary to the above confession: I wrote my college essay on how my life—when I decided to take jazz dance classes since I couldn’t be on drill team—paralleled the Langston Hughes poem “ A Dream Deferred .” Hi, my name is Cheryl and I’m a white girl. 4) In a class on contemporary p

how i spent my winter vacation

Sooo deliciously lazily. I had a handful of vacation days to use up, so I had a one-day work week last week, which I think is ideal. Per holiday tradition since junior high, I made a to-do list so long it would imply I had a month off, and proceeded to do very little of it. But 2006 was all about not pushing myself too hard, and I hope that 2007 can be about pushing myself very gently, like an Atkins dieter slowly reintroducing carbs. I did do a bit of writing and work on a grant application and make three (but no more than three) New Year’s resolutions . Just enough good Puritan work to enable me to have some guilt-free fun. In between lounging around my apartment and lounging around my dad’s house and lounging around AK’s house, I took in a fair amount of culture, which I will now review in People Magazine- style “bottom line” bullets: The Queen : Pretty exciting and emotional for a movie about two reserved Brits exchanging polite phone calls, one gently urging the other to