Showing posts from September, 2014

reaping for karma types

It’s the first day of fall, following the hottest August on record. I’m feeling good— flipping my schedule helped. Last night I took a dance class called AfroFunk at a little studio on the corner of 5th Street and Los Angeles downtown. Outside the studio there is still a lot of funk, as in guys who say, Hey, sweetheart, I just want a beer, when you get out of your car, and inside there’s a pale wood floor and boxed water for sale. My name is Cheryl, and I am (kind of) funky. Two of my coworkers have danced there and recommended it. The class, taught by a woman named Tanita with a half-shaved, half-dreadlocked head, combines different African dance styles—West African, Zulu, some others I’ve already forgotten—and a little bit of hip-hop and jazz, sprinkled with some nature-based philosophy. That combination could have gone horribly wrong, the worst sort of hybrid cliché, but in Tanita’s hands it went fantastically right. I thought, My body was born to do this! (I’ve alwa

lather, rinse, repeat: writing process blog tour 2014

I met Cynthia Romanowski a few years ago when I interviewed her for Poets & Writers’ coveted fellowship program. As with any paying gig in the literary world, we got a ton of applications from absurdly over-qualified, bright-eyed young people (for a funny, book-length rant on this topic, see Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members ). P&W tries harder than most orgs to be kind and fair to its employees, and yet the gist of our call was: Get an advanced degree from an impressive institution, possibly accrue a lifetime of debt, have publications up the wazoo and come do data entry for roughly what is deemed a living wage in L.A. County (but not really, because it’s only part-time and there will be no health benefits). A lot of people called this the Friends cover. So no one told you life was gonna be this waaaay.... Most of the applicants were way more impressive than I was at twenty-five, when I’d started working at P&W (full-time, with health insurance…albeit for

honest living, without jessica alba

Like every Angeleno without air conditioning, I’ve been slammed by the heat these past couple of days. But it took me a while to notice. I’m the kind of person who will wear shoes a size too small and wonder why she couldn’t walk five miles. I.e., overly cerebral, self-blaming, not very mindful. By the end of the night last night—despite having a really fun time at Lori’s birthday party—I was kind of a mess. Crabby, over-heated, under-caffeinated, mad at myself for not doing more that day and every day, and especially mad at myself for eating two vegan donuts* and a piece of birthday cake on top of the cupcake my writer friend Sandra bought me earlier in the day. At Lori’s house, I flipped through a lifestyle book about “honest living” by Jessica Alba. It was surprisingly sane and encouraged readers to give themselves one day a week to eat whatever they wanted. But I don’t think that works for people with addictive personalities and a history of eating disorders and cancer that f

route 66 and other kicks: plus what i read in july and august

Last week was seriously culture-packed. It made me happy to live in L.A., grateful to know so many artists and arts lovers, and a little tired. On Thursday Bronwyn and I ate the only non-meat items Phillippe’s serves, then walked across the street to Traxx, the dinky bar at Union Station that Chiwan Choi has turned into a pop-up literary hub this month . One of my favorite writers, Myriam Gurba, read a moving essay about her schizophrenic uncle and showed slides of her face Photoshopped onto famous pictures and famous people . Myriam as ET, Myriam as Kim Kardashian. Her work lives at the intersection of funny, intense, weird and joyful. Mari Naomi presented a graphic personal essay—meaning a personal essay in graphic form, like with drawings, not an essay with a bunch of severed heads in it—about a troubled guy she’d dated. Then a real-life troubled guy wandered into the bar and started standing super close to her and kind of harassing her. (Must be a Union Station thing .)

the egg and the pigeon

1. all my omelets become scrambles I’m lying here in bed, full of eggs and fresh tomatoes. Yesterday Nicole and I saw The Hundred-Foot Journey , a movie that will make you want to cook an omelet. It takes place in the present day—as evidenced by the presence of molecular gastronomy, racism that disguises itself as nationalism and a fleeting glimpse of a cell phone—but you would not know it from all the bicycles, cobblestone and charmingly eroding cottages, all shot in the same buttery light as the food that the main character cooks. Eat, drink, homme, femme. The movie is about a snooty French restaurant that competes with a new Indian restaurant across the street. It’s a nostalgic, fanciful and predictable movie, but also one that treats its characters with love and respect. It is middle-of-the-road—the characters literally kiss in the middle of the road that cuts between the restaurants—but in the best way. A movie you would take your mom to, but which would remind you th