Showing posts from September, 2009

putting the weeee! in weho

I am all over the West Hollywood Book Fair this coming Sunday. Good thing I hear the snacks in the green room are going to be extra tasty this year. But seriously, there’s so much to like about this event—some of my favorite writers will be there, like Noel Alumit, Francesca Lia Block, Brendan Constantine, Peter Gadol, Nina Revoyr, Sarah Schulman, Lynne Thompson…. Okay, before this turns into some kind of Oscar-type speech where I leave out important names, I’ll just let you know where I’ll be: West Hollywood Book Fair Sunday, Oct. 4 647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069 1 p.m.: Panel, “Take Back the Night: Feminism and Powerful Women in Fiction” ; in the Fact, Fiction & Future Pavilion. With Sophie Littlefield, Pam Ward and Terry Wolverton (moderated by Lindsey Hovarth). 2 p.m.: Signing books at the Manic D Press booth. Come say hi! 3:15 p.m.: Panel, “The Future of Publishing” ; in the Fact, Fiction & Future Pavilion.

running in the family

Cathy: I know you’re a hypochondriac*— Me: But I didn’t used to be! Maybe it’s because I’m getting closer to the age where scary diseases are more likely to be a real issue. Also, I think we’re picking up each other’s coping mechanisms. You didn’t used to be nearly so OCD. Cathy: It’s true. The other day I found myself really annoyed to find an emaciated shampoo bottle in my shower. You know, like when someone squeezes it to get the last little bit of shampoo out, then closes the lid before the bottle has a chance to fill up with air? I used to think you and Dad were crazy to care about stuff like that. Me: Oh, emaciated shampoo bottles are the worst. *I hope she's right. (Because I'm also superstitious, I have to add that. Now exuse me while I go wish on some eyelashes.)

maybe a cocktail will cure my hypochondria

I have nothing to do right now. I'm pretty excited about that. I spent the morning cleaning, which means that I finally feel like I'm really home from our trip; then I went to Trader Joe's for book club snacks: pina coladas and fried plantains, because this month's book has a Caribbean theme. Except TJ's didn't have pineapple juice, so they're going to be mango- passion fruit coladas . They also didn't have plantains, so I just fried up some bananas. The bananas lacked the necessary firmness, but it's still a dish made of fruit, oil and brown sugar, so it can't really taste bad, right? Right? Yes, I'm aware that this is another Adventure In Substitutions , which have a tendency to go bad. Also, the mango- passion fruit juice is called "Heart of Darkness," which seemed appropriate for our colonial/pirate book, but perhaps it doesn't bode well for my forthcoming bar tending attempt. I also made some bread, because wha

9/22: there's no crying in piano bar

[New York travel journal continued:] Headed home! In a possible role reversal, last night AK was feeling tired and ready to see L.A., and I was sad we couldn’t stay longer. I was all mopey and like “Will you still love me when I go back to being uptight?” Yesterday afternoon we said a fond farewell to Jen’s East Village apartment and schlepped over to the Chelsea International Hostel. They’d been kind of disorganized during the reservation-making process, so I was a little worried I’d show up and they’d be all “Cheryl Klein who?” But occasionally such things work in your favor—not only did they upgrade us to our own room for the price of dorm beds, but they only charged us for one dorm bed. I made AK lay low so they wouldn’t discover their mistake. How often do you get a room in Chelsea for $37? We met Tommy and his super nice boyfriend Steve for dinner at a Soho Vietnamese restaurant called Mekong. They had stuff you can’t find at all Vietnamese restaurants, like rice-noodle ravi

9/20: dreamland

[New York travel journal continued:] So much can happen in New York in 24 hours when none of them are spent working. Yesterday started with a matinee of West Side Story (a belated birthday gift from my dad). The musical is so of its moment (the moment in New York when people of color were moving in but white flight hadn ’t yet occurred en masse ), but so timeless too. I was struck by what a great song “Officer Krupke ” is—in a musical about young people whose lives are fucked up by forces beyond their control, this song says, “Yeah, we know that’s true, but don’t take away our autonomy.” Another cool thing about live theater is that unlike film, where the camera dictates POV , here the actors do. So the main character for me was Anita (played by Karen Olivo ), who was just amazingly fierce, big-hearted, big-lunged, vulnerable and devastated. When Maria sang a very good “I Have a Love,” all I could think about was Anita losing Bernardo. This production ups its authenticity (as a s

9/19: get your uterus bandanna here

[New York travel journal continued:] Try as I might to enjoy all the fabulous mini-moments that doing book stuff provides, they can’t quite beat the profound relaxation that comes after a reading. AK knew I’d want to stick close to home base the day of the reading—it was everything I could do not to show up at 4 p.m. (when I was supposed to arrive at 8). So we made it a Met day—saw the lovely light (and six million people) surrounding Vermeer’s Milkmaid; saw the crazy metal tree (and pissy security guards) in the rooftop garden. But I still feel like there’s so much more Met and Central Park I could see. It’s like Disneyland , where you need a three-day pass to do it right. The reading went well, especially given the lack of promotion and last-minute time change. A healthy number of people, thanks mostly to Terry, I suspect. Seeing the store, with its cozy lighting and $7 bandannas featuring a diagram of a uterus , its sink made out of a bucket, reminded me that things hadn ’t g

9/18: this gypsy world

[From my New York travel journal:] Today is the day of my reading at Bluestockings. This trip has been a little mishap-prone so far—first Tommy thought he could host us but couldn ’t, then there was confusion about the date and time of the reading, then AK realized on the way to the airport that she’d forgotten her backpack, so we had to turn around and reconfigure our morning. As you can imagine, by the time we were heading back through rush hour traffic, there were tears. Promoting a book is hard—the world is big and not necessarily friendly, and I can’t always think of a good reason why it should care about my little book. But if I don’t, who will? But I think—knock on the funky fake wood paneling of the East Village apartment we’re subletting—that it’s working out. For the best, even. We have a place to stay. As of this moment, I don’t hate my own writing too much to read it out loud to people. I turned my brain off on the plane, napping and watching four episodes of A Real Cha

boy, are my arms (and legs and brain) tired

I just flew back from New York (pictures forthcoming), meaning that technically my body is still three hours ahead. But in reality, I stayed on Pacific time while I was there and called it vacation: Wake up at 10, go to bed at 2, don’t think about anything more serious than what subway to take uptown (usually the 6). It’s a good life, and I miss it already. But it’s always nice to come home to my nice firm mattress, Team Gato and friendly SoCal literary audiences. If you count yourself among the latter, I hope I’ll get to see you at one of the following. Sept. 27, 3 p.m. June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives 625 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069 Reading and discussion with Terry Wolverton Sept. 30, 7 p.m. San Diego City College International Book Fair San Diego City College 1313 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101

some truths behind "you lie"

People—at least Jimmy Carter and some talking heads on NPR, whom I’ve been listening to during vast stints of data entry at work—have been saying that Joe Wilson’s “You lie” call-and-response moment was racist, that no congressperson would have been so comfortable shouting down a white man. That might be true. I don’t know Joe Wilson, so I can’t say what was going through his subconscious at that time. I never thought that Obama’s election was proof that racism in America was over, but it’s been nice to see that—after the media’s initial “Oh my god, we elected a black guy!” squeal (I squealed too)—coverage has been mostly about his policies, and occasionally about his dog. His job is too busy and important to get bogged down in questions of symbolism, even if he serves as and was partially elected as a symbol. But I keep waiting for someone to talk about where the racism in Joe Wilson’s comment was really directed. Remember, it was in response to Obama’s claim that his health care pr

list-making is one of my favorite coping mechanisms

Some things I would like to do right now but may not make time for until November: 1) take that Hipcooks class that got cancelled 2) fix my effing towel rack, which stares at me every time I go to the bathroom, where it hangs from the wall at a 45-degree angle* 3) join Flickr , seeing as how I’m running out of non-cyber storage space 4) write more than two days in a row 5) read your blog (I miss you!) 6) trim my nails** 7) cut my scraggly-ass hair so I look better in a Goofy hat I know, you’re like, Oh, you’re sooo busy, but you made time for Disneyland? I don’t blame you. No one wants to hear a busy girl whine and protest that it was a (really fun) birthday-related obligation. So, moving on, here’s what I’m doing instead of the above: 1) reading at Bluestockings at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 instead of at the time previously posted. 172 Allen St., New York, NY. Hope to see you there if you are bi- or East-coastal. 2) blogging for my alma mater at

tomorrowland today

Over the years, my thoughts on Disneyland have varied: Age 5: Weeeee ! Age 8: The touchstone of fun. For example, if you had to make a case for why a particular adult was worth a child’s time, you might explain, “Well, he took me to Disneyland.” Age 13: Wished I could go with a boy. Going with my friend Cara’s older brother and his friends was the next best thing. Maybe even better because, who was I kidding, I’d be a nervous wreck on a real date, and that would run Disneyland. Age 18: Still wishing I could go with a boy. But again, not really. Hungry for scandalous Disney trivia involving people getting beheaded on rides or subliminal penises painted into Fantasyland murals. Age 23: Disneyland is an oppressive corporate machine that squelches free expression to create a sanitized version of small-town public space that preys on people’s nostalgia for the very type of life that such mega-corporations have decimated. At age 32, when AK’s sister Lori suggested going there for her b

in fond memory of all those things they don't have anymore

war and work

L.A. has cooled off just enough that the air conditioning in movie theaters is freezing again. But the lack of insulation in my entirely-synthetic-materials blazer was worth enduring to see two really good movies this weekend. They’ve been running trailers for Inglourious Basterds for like eight months now, and I had kind of dismissed the movie as a another of Tarantino’s violent, masterful homages to a bunch of movies I haven’t seen—a thing I might be able to appreciate in theory, but would be really bored by in actuality. (I loved Death Proof but I was not into Kill Bill: Volumes 1 or 2 .) Also, I put a high burden of proof on World War II movies in general—yes, the Holocaust sucked; yes, some people were heroic. But there are so many other sucky and heroic things to make movies about. Why keep storming that same beach over and over? But Tarantino, as America’s most famous cinefile, had a similar thought, I think. Inglourious Basterds seems like his attempt to exorcise World Wa

what i read in august

This week has been freakishly busy. Or maybe it’s just been so hot that every movement is exhausting—AK reminded me yesterday that I have a tendency to ignore my own physical discomfort while being profoundly affected by it. I’ll bake potatoes in 95-degree heat and wonder why I’m cranky. Anyway, for one reason or another, I’ve been such a stress tornado that I’m wondering if I’ll ever have time to read for pleasure again. Past experience tells me I probably will. Who knows. But here’s what I read last month: On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan: At one point, one of the main characters--a former history major named Edward--refutes the Great Man theory of history: He doesn't believe individuals chart its course. But this novella is the story of how history (post-war, pre-free love) can chart the course of individuals' lives (the individuals are two not quite naive, not quite worldly virgins on their wedding night). McEwan's prose is stately and British, almost 19th century-ish,

where i'll be in september and october

It’s a little known fact that September and October are second only to April (a.k.a. National Poetry Month ) when it comes to literary events. This fall, I’m jumping on that bandwagon full force, hoping I don’t get too banged up in the process. I may be hanging around Bread and Bread a bit less. Here’s where I’ll be instead: September: Sept. 18, 7 p.m. Bluestockings 127 Allen St., New York , NY 10002 Reading with Terry Wolverton Sept. 27, 3 p.m. June L. Mazer Lesbian Archives 625 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood , CA 90069 Reading and discussion with Terry Wolverton Sept. 30, 7 p.m. San Diego City College International Book Fair San Diego City College 1313 Park Blvd., San Diego , CA 92101 October: Oct. 4, 1 p.m. West Hollywood Book Fair 647 N. San Vicente Blvd., West Hollywood , CA 90069 Panel: “Take Back the Night: Feminism and Powerful Wome

catalina: a tale of small crappers and psychopaths

It seemed like both a good weekend and a bad weekend to leave town. On one hand, the air was like burnt soup. On the other, would town still be here when I got back? In my frenzy of trip prep on Thursday night, I texted with Amy. I could see flames shooting into the night on a hill that looked to be about five blocks from my house, though it was probably closer to twenty miles. When I heard sirens, I was sure I was about to be evacuated. Amy: Laist says La Canada…your fire-fighters are probably headed out to help…we should bake them brownies! Me: Google tells me the same. i better start those brownies! Amy: Fire-fighters are awesome! Me: And hot, or so the straight girls tell me. Amy: Oh indisputably…just think how hot a butch girl firefighter wd be! Me: True that. *** The next morning, AK, Pedro, Stephen and I were on a boat to Catalina , sailing away from the mushroom cloud that hung over L.A. and crossing our fingers that Alyssa would not have to make use of the cat