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Showing posts from April, 2010

sometimes i envy the amish*

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Things I’m worrying about today: The fact that my cell phone is going to give me a brain tumor. No, really . The fact that I’m too lazy and/or addicted to modern life to return to the way of the landline. The fact that really amazing poets and healthcare workers are getting abducted and tortured by the Philippine military . I mean, it would be bad if the Philippine military were torturing awful poets too. Although it’s sometimes described as such, awful poetry is not actually torturous. But Melissa Roxas writes incredible raw stuff that will haunt you for days, about how torture is not a metaphor for some people, about how she is a black dog in a sea of black dogs, and that is a metaphor. Arizona . Planning my vacations. ‘Cause, you know, not getting the best possible deal on airfare is right up there with racial profiling and torture and brain tumors. The fact that OC has taken to barfing up his special food, substituting one health issue for another. The fact that I forgot to call t

lines and tigers and bread, oh my

I just made a bunch of sandwiches to take to the L.A. Times Festival of Books . Unlike some outdoor events, which are all about the food (funnel cake! that corn dripping with mayo that always looks so tasty but way too messy for an OCD girl like myself to even attempt!), LATFOB has apparently contracted with only the most corporate and boring food vendors. So instead of waiting in line forty minutes for a Panda Bowl, AK and I will be eating PB&J on the slightly odd bread I made a few days ago. I substituted almonds for walnuts, currants for raisins and, for oatmeal…Cheerios. Trader Joe’s O’s, technically. Even though the bread machine recipe book is plastered with warnings about substitutions—it’s like they knew I was coming—it all turned out surprisingly well. So, yeah, I’m starting to feel summery and outdoorsy. I’m wanting to pack lunches and wear sundresses paint my toenails (which I also just did, an Orange Crush orange). But I actually logged in to recommend an ind

a sheep in mod's clothing

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Next time I blow $50 at Forever 21 , remind me that there are sites like this out there. In my head, this is how I dress. So if you’ve never met me in person, picture me wearing something like this . Even though in reality I’m wearing a plain gray T-shirt and jeans that I suspect may be too hip hop for my age and personality. I mean, I like the cut and color, but the back pockets have this dark blue embroidery on them—basically the same color as the jeans, but if you look closely, you can see that they’re fakey Chinese symbols which for some reason translates to, like, Baby Phat in my mind. ModCloth is pricier than Forever 21 (I got like six items for my $50), but it’s not outrageous (well, not on the sale page) and they apparently buy from indie designers, which seems less oppressive than your average Banana Republic shopping spree, although technically indie designers are still capable of outsourcing to 12-year-olds in Indonesia. I found the site by clicking on an ad on Go Fug You

ignorance is bliss

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I read Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days a bunch of years ago, but I still remember how he described the main character, a hacky junket journalist, as accustomed to being a passenger on the road of life. (I think VW used this phrase in their “Drivers Wanted” campaign too, but Whitehead did it with more poetic flair.) The notion struck me as uncomfortably familiar. But lately I think I’ve passed my driver’s test—even if I took out a few orange cones along the way—so I feel like I’ve earned some passenger time. This weekend I didn’t teach anyone or moderate anything or coordinate a trip to the airport or even drag anyone along to a social event where I felt responsible for them having a good time. Friday night I showed up during the third hour of a three-hour work event of AK’s. When I arrived at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion—already a disconcerting place with its 1970s Bob Mackie-esque interior—kids were parading down the staircase in lace gowns and painted calavera faces. A

there is a reason there’s no movie called how to train your cat

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A long time ago, B and I rented Ice Age and thought it was cute that the DVD cover said, “Rated PG for mild peril.” Then we proceeded to grip the arms of our futon frame for 81 minutes as adorable Pleistocene creature after adorable Pleistocene creature faced peril that DID NOT SEEM MILD AT ALL. So while my usual M.O. is to fall asleep when I watch movies on weeknights, when AK and I saw How to Train Your Dragon at the $3 Highland Park theater (“Not in 3-D!” announced the sign at the box office), I practically had a heart attack instead. Not only were dozens of adorable mythic creatures in significant peril, but the main one, a Night Fury dragon named Toothless, bore a striking resemblance to our cat Ferdinand. Ferd even has a broken tail just like Toothless, so maybe that’s what’s kept him from flying all these years (though it hasn’t kept him from leaping on the kitchen counter or getting stuck on a roof or two). It was like seeing Ferd in peril. The movie centers on a gawky Vik

you are a single lady

To quote my friend Amy , "' Single Ladies ' is the song that just keeps giving."

so many writers

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I just got back from the AWP conference in Denver—my second trip this week, which makes me worry that I’ll turn into a road-weary comedian who can only make jokes about airline food. And they don’t even have airline food anymore. (See, there’s one.) AWP is creative writing’s big annual conference. I’d only been once before, when it was in Vancouver, but I think my coworker Sara summed it up well: “The first time I went, I was just starting my MFA and I was all bright-eyed, like, Oh my god! So many books! So many writers! And the second time I went, I was kind of in a dark place. I was like, Oh god…so many books…so many writers. ” Everyone you know is there, meaning you don’t have time to see any of them, plus a lot of people you don’t know but should, but are too shy/tired/drunk to talk to. At one point I met a tipsy friend of Colin’s at the Hyatt bar. He told me his first name and extended his hand, and I was like, “Oh, hi. You’re my boss.” This can happen if you teach

i only use the word dildo twice in lilac mines

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Last night I read in the RADAR series at the SF Public Library, which was a huge honor because I’ve admired curator Michelle Tea since I first read Valencia almost ten years ago. But the lineup was a little odd: Matilda Bickers (creative nonfiction writer and sometime stripper), Cyd Nova (creative nonfiction writer and sometime prostitute), Melissa Febos (former dominatrix whose memoir, Whip Smart , is all over the place right now)…and me (author of a novel about shy girls living in a ghost town). One of these things was not like the others. I mean, I kissed Stephanie in a play once, but I didn’t get paid, so it probably still doesn’t count as sex work. Nevertheless, the reading went pretty well and I didn’t feel like the sore thumb I might have. Mattilda read a story about shoplifting strippers that was funny and surprisingly innocent, and Cyd sort of generally kicked ass in both his reading and the Q&A by saying stuff about AIDS, gender, tricks and dirty apartments t

what i read in march

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Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott: This is the first book about writing I've ever read--and then only because it was the required text for a class I was teaching. Luckily it's not really about the mechanics of writing, since I believe that those, like the mechanics of car repair, are best learned by trial, error and apprenticeship. Instead Bird by Bird is a warm, comforting and funny book about creating a writing life: about not getting bogged down by the myth that publication will solve all your problems, etc. Even though I sometimes had a skeptical dialogue going with Lamott ("You published your first book in your mid-twenties and you pretty much never didn't have an agent"), her point is that writing is a great equalizer: Even privileged geniuses have to wring words from their computers one at a time. And I especially appreciated her discussions of envy and pettiness. If someone as spiritual and smart as Anne Lamott starts thinking mean things about her critics

birthday break…and now back to your regularly scheduled burnout

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1. in which i anthropomorphize both my birthday and my brain I almost forgot my own birthday this year. Which I think is rude. My birthday was like, “Hey, remember me?” And I was like, “Sorry, gotta grade student portfolios. Maybe I’ll catch you next year when you turn 34?” Then, lo and behold, I finished grading a day early. Workaholism has its perks. AK colluded with my birthday, and together they made a tasty pasta dinner (with bread crumbs, onions, sardines and parsley, which sounds a little odd but is in fact amazing) and took me to see Greenberg . I was so happy that day that I put Cold War Kids ’ “Santa Ana Winds” on repeat and alternately rocked out and cried. It just felt so good to have my brain back—to be able to devote my thoughts to something other than my to-do list. Driving down Avenue 50, I could gaze at people on the sidewalk and make up little stories about them. I could contemplate the characters in my circus novel. I could theorize about whether skinny jeans w