Saturday, November 19, 2011

where am I?

Somehow I need to knock my husband out. Chloroform? Where do you buy that? Can I order that off ebay? Maybe I can slip Benadryl into a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Irresistible. Then when he's yawning and saying how tired he is, I'll say, "Why don't you hit the hay, honey. Get an early start tomorrow!" He's say that's a good idea and tuck himself in. This is nice because I'd hate to have to drag him across the house while he was sleeping. Dead weight really makes it difficult to pick somebody up!

Next, I'd bring in a well-hidden buttload of hospital equipment: monitors, saline bags, syringes, and tape to secure ubiquitous clear tubing. Now, all that's the easy part. The hard part would be to find a five year-old child resembling our six month-old baby. He'd have to be just a touch exotic, with large green eyes and dark hair. I'd find him, perhaps through a casting call! This is LA after all. Perfect!

With that in mind, we wait...till my husband wakes up--in bed in a hospital gown, tubes are attached to his arms, while the heart monitor beside his bed bleeps, bleeps, and while the Benadryl's still has him slightly discombobulated, the boy says his line:

"Dad, DAD! Mom! He's awake!"

This is where I would say, "Honey, welcome to 2016. You've been in a coma. The doctors told me to pull the plug, but I told them you were strong. You've come back to us!" This is where I'd hand him a plate of scrambled eggs and toast and say, "I made this everyday for 5 years. I figured you'd be hungry when you finally woke up." And if I was really awful..."By the way, the cat ran away..."

Sometime shortly after this of course, the child actor next to me would say, "April Fools!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

went to a wedding in Portland

Just got back from Portland. Ned's father's son got married; his cousin--a Vizzini. The ceremony was nice and quick and the reception was right after. Behind the bridesmaids I was the first person in line, which in hindsight is embarrassing, but someone was all: go, go, our table is first! So I went, grabbed a plate (my mother would've chastised me for this) and then one half Asian looking bridesmaid wearing fake green contacts said: um, wait for (such&such: a bridesmaid's name) before you go, please; then an elderly lady behind me said: why isn't this line moving?! And I was kind of in hell for a long single second, and when I sat down with the food, Ned ate it all, which was fine. He was holding Felix who was three months that day and spitting up formula all over the place. He'd mucked my dress pretty profusely, a brand new emerald green silk number from Barney's, and at first it was a catastrophe, standing there with this smootz running down a beautiful scalloped sleeve, but by the end of the day I'd been baptized by my baby's upchuck so much, being erped on was no longer an issue.

Flying with three month-old Felix was a breeze, aside from his shrill annoyance at being made to stay awake past his bedtime at the airport, but he slept a fine deep sleep on the plane both ways, and stayed asleep while we moved him from plane to escalator to car to bed.

It's hard to tell by way of nature, whose personality quirks he's going to have, if it's going to be all or nothing with Ned's neuroses, or my laid back whatever,  but the givens will most likely be high levels of energy and curiosity, a good metabolism, and an obsession with testing and defying mortality.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

outside the other night & the next day

A few nights ago I was still wide awake around 4, lying in bed internet surfing when I heard sounds similar to cans being sifted from a trash can next door. I went to the window to see, and though I was a story up, standing in the dark, and peering through a screen, I was scared wondering what could see me back from the street.

As my eyes adjusted, I searched in the dark towards the source of the sound, and finally after about a minute I caught a glimpse of a dark figure in my neighbor's driveway digging through their trash as wheels and plastic scraped against inclined concrete.

I tried to make out the figure: raccoon, bear, something on two feet dragging--then a car approached, headlights blaring and turned in the driveway beside it. The figure retreated into the dark corners of unfenced bushes. Minutes later, after the driver was inside, it was back.

I put myself into the feet of a few perspectives: fear of the garbage sifting shadow, of the driver coming home from a) a tryst b) a late night get-together c) geez it was late--was the person even sober enough to notice? I went back to bed and fell asleep to the scraping and clanking noises of the unknown shadow in the street below my window.

The next day, as I walked with my husband to our car parked beside our trash cans, I swerved around a Mexican man in his forties going through our cans and plastics to fill an ever growing bag of cans that he was lugging around like Santa Clause on Christmas eve.

Residue of Southern grace, mixed with the sunshine had me almost say hello, or excuse me, but a second instinct said let him be, avoid eye contact and walk past, into the car; and I did. He's digging through our trash, I said. He's doing us a service, said my husband. Like a vulture, I said. And we drove away without another word about it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

your coffee is a sacred blend: silence & sweet, roasted, ground & boiled brown: a science

I've never been so enticed to wrangle dust particles
as I do, for a constant witness to my competency.
This is how I define coupling on a neutered day.
With good days kissing the sun with my skin, when
a nice walk replaces the boozy wasted adrenaline
of battles against no one--to call it the world. As
of late, I cook to create, adjusting to taste; presented
with barely a taste myself. I have a desperate desire
to be useful, to relax, I've escaped the necessity of
self-imposed stress...for now anyway. Can words
have hidden price tags, for every defense of value
put upon us by those words? Everyone, everybody,
the world, all: for those who decimate responsibility,
but take credit for an ounce of praise or acceptance.
Pity for people who are sensitive to judgment, ridicule,
criticism or fawning. Pity to me and my nervous energy
to appease the sensibilities of those who share my home.
I suppose I learned this from my mother whose duty it
was to feed her brothers and father til the day they bled
her skin, she ran away and met my father. And pity to
him for dying so young of disease without a daughter
by his side, though who's to say what I would've done
if he had ever even called me. Even once in a decade.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

the origami octopus has hiccups again

I had a terrible dream the other day, about a man who broke into houses consecutively, a locksmith I assume from glimpses of his interacting with his victims earlier in the day in some sort of house maintenance attire, with assistants, a van, and I could swear he handed them all a new set of keys.

Then I heard him say: do me a favor, would you, and the homeowners would say...sure, almost instinctively. The man asked them to do something small, easily forgettable: turn a porch light on at seven, call a random number at six. When the time came, it seemed ridiculous to everyone to do. Why should I? How would he know?

But somehow he did know, like a supernatural psychopath psychic, and in the late, late evening, he'd let himself in, find his victim in the living room, in a robe with a glass of milk, say: one simple thing I asked you to do, then slice these people to bits, a living sliver at a time.

There's more, but I'm done remembering the details.

In other news, I have twelve days to go before I am officially a mother. The long anticipated shower was a success thanks to Ashley and Camille, incredible ladies, jesus, they worked hard to put everything together from the baby back ribs to baby quiches. I think the final headcount tallied forty, and I never stood still for a moment without loving attention and praise for looking beautiful.

Family and friends have been extremely generous. When I registered 70+ items on the Target website, I never imagined they would very thoroughly be purchased for us. In fact, Ned's family, bless their God loving souls, got us most of the big stuff: a crib, dresser, car seat; while the rest of the items: a tub, blankets, carriers, toys, and enough clothes to last a year's worth of growth, were all bought for us by friends.

I tried to get my family into it too, but my mom will not learn how to use the internet to save her life, and my aunt's in Korea with my two cousins having a huge bonding session over fresh kimchi. Ultimately, my mom got her new husband to buy the stroller we had listed, while he was on his work computer. She tried to come to LA on the day Felix is going to be born to stay with us for a couple weeks, but seriously...I don't want to dilute the initial experience of bonding with my baby.

What seems like an unselfish deed on her part, seems extremely selfish to me. It's been nine months and I know everybody wants to see him, but I really don't give a shit about feeding the curiosity of others. Topping off their quota of feeling like a helpful citizen. I have never seen a picture of my mother holding me as a baby.

As far as my body goes, I've been fairly svelte and agile up until this last month when my belly has finally decided to blow up like a watermelon. I can relate to ancestors who worked until they gave birth in a rice field somewhere, strapped the baby to their back and kept on working. And I'm not used to being so debilitated. Walking the equivalent of a mile and being exhausted.

My hands are arthritic. My feet are exposed lungs. All in month nine, and I have imbibed not a drop of alcohol. I've held my breath passing every cigarette waft that came near me. Please be healthy, baby, please. He's crumpled inside me now like an origami octopus. I feel his folded legs beside my ribs, his hiccups near my groin. I'm almost ready, he says, I'm almost ready to have you hold me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thor-a review


Kenneth Branagh, what got into you? You go from being the exclusive representative for modern day Shakespeare, to Frankenstein, a boon of other here and there period pieces--to Thor. I guess I see the connection. For someone into the "classics" the story of Thor's older than weather.

Chris Hemsworth, I remember you from that terrific opening sequence from the beginning JJ Abrams' Star Trek. You were Jim Kirk's dad. You sacrificed yourself by steering the Kelvin on a collision course. That scene made me cry. Nice to see you again. I see you've been working out, too. Who cares about milk--got protein shakes? You blond hunk o beefcake, you.

Natalie Portman, playing a frigid ballerina is one thing, but a brilliant astrophysicist with a thing for Norse gods? I know you've got a pretty face and all, but exuding a hyper intelligent understanding of dynamic processes of celestial objects and phenomena? Come on!

When asked why she took the role, Portman replied, "I just thought it sounded like a weird idea because Kenneth Branagh's directing it, so I was just like, 'Kenneth Branagh doing Thor is super-weird, I've gotta do it."

Like you know?

For it to be even remotely feasible for Thor and Portman to have a believable romantic connection in this comic-based Blockbuster, I had to pretend Thor as a huge movie buff back on Asgard; that The Professional was one of his favorite movies of all time, so when the time came and Thor met Natalie on earth, he didn't care that she was a performing multiple acts of involuntary manslaughter on him with her jeep. He wanted to make out with the girl from Garden State.


And the Portman being used to this by now was all: guess what, you get to kiss me eventually. Aren't you stoked, Chet Hicklesworth, I mean Thor, I mean what-ever!

Less hard to believe and more enjoyable were the great supporting characters: Hopkins, so good, and the superstar who totally stole the heart-shaped pie had to be Heimdall (Idris Elba), gatekeeper of the Bifrost Bridge. Tom Hiddleston was also great as Thor's miserable milquetoast brother Loki.

Overall, the atmospheric effects were fantastic, pacing was quick, the story had substance, and lines mixed with comic timing let the humor take way of the movie taking itself too seriously. Entertainment is where it's at with Thor, a very 2011 film with zeitgeist-saturated thunder strokes galore, and many premeditated sequels to follow.

Monday, May 2, 2011

at the end of preggo road

The countdown begins. Today is May 2nd and Felix Vizzini will be born in 25 days. A Gemini. A Rabbit. And I will no longer be pregnant. I'll be a mom. And my mom will be a grandmother.

It's been a big year for her. Her only child got married in September, pregnant in October, then mom found the man of her dreams, they got married this past Easter, and now at the end of May, boom.

She called on Sunday. The first thing she said to me was: guess what, you have a new step-dad! He was beside her when she said it. Awkward...

Later she handed him the phone to hash out the flight details of her coming to LA from Tennessee for a week after Felix is born, to cook for us and help us she said.

I'm going to have a c-section (I'm terrified of natural birth. I don't care how many women do it every day {and have since the beginning of time.}) so I know I'll be sore. Plus, family bonding is normal and healthy. This is why we got a place with a guest room. Below is a picture of my mom as a pretty Las Vegas bride on Easter:

my mom looking like a princess

This has been an easy pregnancy, I'd recommend it to my peers--if they really like somebody and get along with them and feel like taking a straight-forward commitment to a--great, big, giant level of commitment.

Besides, we're not kids anymore. We're both in our early 30's. So we've tasted our fair share of the party cakes. Heyo!

My check-ups are weekly now. Today's was simple: a cup of pee, blood pressure, measuring tape across the gut and a warm stethoscope to check Felix's heartbeat. My next check-up will be more intense: a measurement of my cervix. I told my doctor I'd shower for that, which made her chuckle.

My doctor says I'm lucky, I have "superior" genes, which means no stretch marks and good muscle tone. I've gained 30lbs. On average women gain 40-50.

My skin is clear, my rings still fit, I haven't had any nausea or strange food cravings. The worst thing that's happened to me is heartburn, but chewing a few Extra Strength Tums takes care of that. Otherwise, I can bend and run and rest with no problems.

I might miss being pregnant when it's over, reaching for my phantom belly in my sleep, or I'll just be glad to hold my living breathing creation. I can't fathom how that will feel. I suspect it will change me forever.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Face in the Crowd--a review

Comparisons to familiar subjects aren't always necessary, but A "Face in the Crowd" (1957) is a definite predecessor to 1976's "Network," directed by Sidney Lumet.

Kazan, post "Streetcar," post "East of Eden," in his fluid universe of method acting, introduces Andy Griffith, in this timeless film exploring the danger of media popularity and the subsequent power that comes from it. How in the wrong hands, or with a lack of humility to buffer it, life can spiral out of control for all parties involved. 


Synopsis: An NPRlike lady radio producer doing fieldwork in a small town jailhouse comes upon a local blues boozing, guitar wielding hustler, whose charms win her over, landing him a daily spot on a radio show. Having free reign to display his everyman philosophies on air in favor of the working class, Lonesome Rhodes becomes an overnight sensation, and climbs the rungs of success all the way to the lavish life of a major celebrity living in New York.

When the swell of influence changes Rhodes into a vain, asshole megalomaniac, his comrades lose faith and mutiny one after another, seeing the walking trainwreck as he truly is--a flash in the pan con artist side show act, who's run hiss course in the show business world. 

What stands out about this film is the feasibility of the next big thing swooning crowds like the plague. Reminiscent of Elvis and the fanfare he rippled in tidal waves with every sway of his hips, all the way to the sensationalism of Howard Stern or Limbaugh. 

The average American craves the reincarnate messiah, the glittering Jesus shrine of accessible human sacrifice, a singing holiday card of tragic sentimentalities to open and close as we please. Knowing at the end of the day, it can all be blamed away on human nature.

Lust, Caution--a review

For a fairly long film (2 hr. 38 min.); Lust, Caution had a way of not feeling like it given the fact that it wasn't completely predictable, and the storyline was intriguing, it felt historical without being stiff. 

The main character/lovers were convincing, minus an excess of longing looks which might be expected and conveyed in this genre; but then again it's made to be more foreign thriller than romantic, emphasized in the title containing the term "lust" versus love.

lust caution.jpg

For a woman lured by the danger of being a political spy there must be a certain thrill involved with being in the shoes of Mata Hari, the ultimate femme fetale, sleeping with the enemy, a murderer's mistress...until it gets emotional. And it always does, doesn't it? Especially if the person you're groping on the regular has power and won't let their guard down without a fight.

Regarding the NC-17 rating, there was no way around that; the sex scenes, a vividly comprised ten minutes of violent to tender lovemaking, was key to illustrating sexual chemistry between the two protagonists in three major scenes. The scenes were considered by Ang Lee to be critical to the story. They reportedly took 100 hours to shoot.


A beautiful film overall, with a great blending of score, charm, costumes, acting, scenery and ominous inevitability: Lust, Caution is a proud marriage of style and substance, raising the bar in the filmmaking world, resembling anything but trite attempt to exploit audiences, or to make a blockbuster buck for the sake of it alone.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

privacy is the holy grail of now

I should've known from the start what a bad idea it was to rent the top floor of a duplex apartment.

You'd think with having a property manager live on the property, things would be nice, say something breaks, or you get locked out. What you couldn't count on is the property manager being so territorial, lurking around every corner to say hello or goodbye whenever you leave. Telling you to park or move your car to a different spot day to day to day to get something done in a garage.

Yesterday, he rang the doorbell again, after I ignored it the first time, so he and his wife could look at the air conditioning unit on my wall, telling me to put the setting on auto--when it wasn't working regardless. Then they called at ten to tell me to shut the air off completely and open a window, as not to burn out the system.

Then half a dozen loud Asian repairmen came into my home today, leaving my front wide open tempting my cat to get out and run away. Friends of the property manager, obviously, they felt as home as well. Clinking beer bottles by my parked car after they finished the job of fixing the air, finally; it hadn't worked all week causing my pregnant body to swell and sway awake at night atop my covers from the heat.

The place we lived in before was small, too small for guests to stay, too small to give private space to two people and a cat, but it was cheap, and we (my husband and I) managed to get by, without too many fights caused by cabin fever, or the lack of doors to close for separation. We used headphones, ran errands, to give each other space.

And in that space, no one bothered us, even when the front door was ajar for most of the day to let the heat in. The cat could play all day and come in at night. There were no sounds, aside from sporadic geese honking by going north to south. When the tub was clogged, Javier from upstairs came down with his roto rooter in tow, then Javier would disappear, and only occasionally say hello.

But then we had to upgrade our space to make room for a baby, guests who would come to see him. We found a three bedroom place with marble bathrooms, ceiling fans, in a fenced in property. Privacy we thought. Roots. Even more than before. So far that hasn't been the case.

And now I'm missing New York for its respect for proxemics, aka personal space, one of the three P's, aside from pacing and pizza, which make that city so great. Even in cramped, hive-like apartments there with two roommates, no one bothers you because they don't want to be bothered. Everyone's too busy trying to organize their lives to make smalltalk there. Unlike this place where the couple who oversee the property, also feel as though this is their kingdom, which we are merely guests, abiding to their scrutiny.    

The lease here is month to month and almost three times the cost of the place we lived in previously. We had to buy a refrigerator, already on the fritz, a washer and dryer, a bed and a few cheap dressers from Sweden. Already it's tempting to think about leaving, hauling all of our appliances and cramming them into a place surrounded by silence, in a neighborhood less nice, something smaller, anything...except the baby will be here soon, in 40 days, and the stress of moving again is the last thing either of us need.

Him with his neurotic leanings, and me being in over my head with a newborn I've never wanted until he was inside me, growing. Against my own nature, I have become a surly tenant, avoiding eye-contact whenever confronted for repairs even remotely necessary. It doesn't help things that the property manager always tells me I look tired when he sees me. Oh, you look so tired: he says.

I look tired because you've just ruined my life: I'd like to say. Who looks awake--furrowing from hatred? Not me or anyone else who wants to be left alone to incubate the remaining months needed to hatch this egg. I'm sensitive, and already lacked the patience for foolishness. The only way to take the edge off now is with an ax, and soon I regret to think I will gaze at one longingly for a way to escape.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

skinny jeans & pillow talk

I tweeted this today: If you can't pull off skinny jeans--you probably shouldn't write about sex either. Sex from the perspective of a sausage can be unappetizing.

I'm sure this offended people. Especially people who a) are insecure about their weight b) write about sex a lot c) hate hipsters or feel like outcasts from hipster society d) hate fashion trends or e) all of the above

From Vice

My statement wasn't mean to offend anyone's sensibilities as much as it was commentary on the idea that people go out of their way to write about sex to be subversive, to seem edgy, in the same way that people wrote about shooting up smack in the 60's. 

At least 80% of readings I've been to in the last two years have been to showcase excerpts of sex scenes, fantasies, trysts in park bushes, panties in the back seat, I teased her with my cock, and so on and so forth. What is with this? 

One night I go to a vermin on the Mount reading in Chinatown. Three girls read and a guy, and every one of these people had some kind of sex experience to share. They called it fiction, but it felt more like sitting around a campfire where everyone took turns reading the raunchiest confessions from their journals. Even an older woman who wrote mostly children's books had something to say about doing her husband in some "not normal" way. Talk about awkward.

Just last night I went to a reading at Skylight books; two young men read. The first read a horny guy masturbates to the thought of his crush story and I thought: Jesus. Another journal entry. At least this one felt edited to a tee, stylistically into a prose piece, but this guy didn't look to have much sexual experience; he was not incredibly attractive, though I wouldn't call him ugly...or tall, or physically fit. 

The point I'm trying to make here is: unless you're Philip Roth, who is the king of sex jive in fiction, don't write stories and read stories to an audience about your sexual fantasies--unless you're really apt at writing about anything--including how to bake a cake, or you're super experienced at sex and have something to teach me that I wasn't trying to avoid on purpose, i.e., getting it on with a fumbling idiot who has nothing but desecration on his mind. 

If I wanted to know second hand what that was like, I would've sure made more liberal choices in my love life. Otherwise, if you want your stories or skills in general to be an asset to anyone's time or existence, get good at something, whether it be naming wild birds or step by step instructions on how to give mind-blowing oral. But please, leave your masturbation fantasies under your pillow and leave the hard core to the pros. 

Just because you've wanted it, and read about it, or tried it, it doesn't mean that you're good at writing about it. Like skinny jeans--they don't look good on everybody; they mainly look good on people who are slender with slender legs. Just because they're in the now, that doesn't mean they look good on stocky Reid who loves Panda Bear and PBR. Trends often have limitations. Know yours, is all I ask.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

the Graduate--a review

Have you ever hated something completely lauded by your peers as being brilliant? A band, a book...I'm taking about the opposite of guilty pleasures. How about a classic Oscar winning film? It's tough, isn't it, to go against the grain of a strong consensus. Peer pressure's one thing, but my confidence reaches a whole new level to say that I thought the Graduate was an absurd pile of crap.

Mike Nichols won a best director Oscar for the classic. Hoffman, then 30 playing a 20 year-old, won praise for his first major role as Ben the neurotic, naive, bourgeois-bored depressed and obsessed dumbass.

Anne Bancroft is a stunning, sexually desperate cougar, clad in enough animal prints to have invented the term used now for older seductresses saturating reality television and night time soaps. And Katharine Ross is confused and rebellious. Everybody else is an asshole, breeding assholes. In fact the film is a giant asshole smorgasbord; with a great soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel.

Does the film's much-barbed commentary on generation gaps, the alienation of youth, and mid-life complacency define the 60's Zeitgeist, making it thought-provoking and hilarious? Maybe to some people who lived it and want to look back reminiscing the good old days of hippies and dumb love and all that. But how am I supposed to believe Hoffman's character Ben had enough mojo to get seduced by a beautiful older lady, friend of the family type, and also fall for that lady's daughter after one date to the burger shack?

Not only that, but Ben becomes obsessed and stalks the daughter!, at her school, following her around like some lost psycho, professing his desire to marry her over and over again, while she can have her pick of the campus being one of the most beautiful girls there. The Graduate's entire premise, though I do see what sacred attempts it made to preserve a mess of controversial issues in 60's society, was utterly obnoxious.

On a lighter note: If I ever meet someone who can eloquently defend their love for the film, without time-capsule cliches, with any explanation aside from saying "it's a classic!" or "It's Hoffman at his best!" I will be more than interested to hear what they have to say.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

poor creatures tonight & mine

Tonight's been a creepy night. Extra quiet. And nothing but traffic and that seems very far away. Earlier I heard an animal squalling in agony outside. Worse than a fighting cat, or a growling coon or anything similarly natural, it was a squall like a pleading of some lesser ranked creature being torn to bits by a quiet master or authority. As if it was taking its punishment, or surprised and petrified, and whatever sounds of pain came from it were muffled as if it wasn't making them intentionally. And then it stopped. The automatic porch lights came on. It was quiet. The lights flicked off and it was me and the glow of my computer. Then my cat began to whimper in his sleep, mew like a helpless kitten. I called to him and stroked his face. He gave a grateful gesture of purring and rubbing his cheeks against my hand. We got up and had some milk in the light of the kitchen. Now we will sleep.

Monday, March 21, 2011

self-defense in young America

Casey the Punisher, an Australian kid who finally defended himself from bullies is the latest viral phenomenon since Katy Perry's make-up free twitter picture posted by fellow clown car cohabitant Russell Brand.

In the torture-porn style, handheld video captured by a fellow bully's camera phone, viewers see a chihuahua-size terror punching Casey in the face, until Casey bodyslams the bully and walks away.

From what little I've been following of this phenomenon, the most interesting thing to come from it seems to be the "sheltered pacifist" versus "self-defense is okay" debate.

On one side we have the people who are appalled by a big kid throwing a little kid on the ground. They say things like, "He could've broken the kid's neck! He should've told a teacher instead of throwing the kid on concrete! He should've avoided the situation all together! Two wrongs don't make a right! Child experts say to tell a parent or teacher about the bullies and stay out of those situations entirely!

What a load of soggy Apple Jacks horseshit.

On the other side of the field are people who have actually been bullied sometime in their lives, who say: Way to go! Those kids will leave him alone now. He acted in self defense!

This is the side I'm on.

Stay away from danger...really. Have you ever seen a wounded gazelle in the Serengeti? The lions, they chase the gazelle slowly and attack it in leisure. They drain the gazelle, rendering its limbs unwalkable. Hide injured gazelle, hide! Avoid the lions, tell a bigger gazelle to make the lions leave you alone.

Child experts our books, please and you will learn by reading them that violence is not our friend, but a gateway to more violence. Communication is the answer. Communicate.

In the 2008 Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In, twelve-year-old Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is the constant target of bullies in a small Swedish village, until his new and only friend, Eli, helps Oskar find the courage to stand up to his tormenters.

I don't know how anyone who's seen the film could not, at one point, ask themselves why Oskar doesn't tell a teacher about these bullies picking on him every-single-excruciating day in an effort to make the abuse stop. Until we're forced to realize that the stigma of being a snitch turns a kid into a pariah among his peers faster than a bad haircut and a speech impediment put together.

Shoulds and shouldn'ts aside, which are very easy to point and shoot as an outsider, most people lack the experience to fully understand how the world works with children when they invent rules of how to play. Ghetto, playground, fraternity hazing--it's all relative to the region, and thrives in being evasive to figures of authority.

In William Golding's Lord of the Flies, a group of British schoolboys are stuck on a deserted island and try to govern themselves with disastrous results.

The exercises in autonomy among young boys who feel like nothing less than indentured servants subjected to the whims of tyrannical overcrowded school systems are stealth and prolific. Saying things like: tell an adult, is being a traitor to the small government formed as practice for independent assertion.

Telling a child to keep away from danger and be a good little citizen is like telling a soldier not to shoot back when the enemy is firing heavy artillery upon them and an effort to kill or inflict tremendous pain.

Two wrongs don't make a right? Give me a break. This cross-stitch pillow phase in no way buffers terror, or pain of being attacked by an enemy. And how malicious it is to have a friend record the violent scene for the sake posterity?

It's ridiculous, these liberal pacifists and their heal the world mentality. There is a time and place for that when we're not flipping off bad drivers or helping a tripped neighbor off the ground, but when it comes to being beaten to a pulp by a well-established terror, I'd say Casey the Punisher did the right thing by bringing out the well-warranted Judo.

Monday, March 14, 2011

An art form. Like sculpture.

I spoke to my mother on the telephone today without getting angry once. She was making pasta primavera while her fiancee mowed her one acre yard filled with fruit trees.

He's good at a lot of things, she said, everything, except dancing. So instead of go to do ballroom dancing (that come free with her gym membership) we've been going to play golf. I did okay until I reach one of those watery places, she said, then I couldn't get past it. I kept hitting and hitting and the ball go nowhere. 

I told her she should get Tiger Woods golf because she was good at video games and it would be fun to play on her giant television.

Remember when you reached the highest possible score on Pac-Man when I was four and we were living in Korea, I said. You got mad because the game was over at 9,999,999 something. No I don't remember that, she said. The Atari's still in your house somewhere, I said. Oh, okay, that's nice. How are you? 

Fine, we're moving into a three bedroom/three bath place where the groundskeeper is installing a cat door in our bedroom window so the bugs won't get in while the cat goes in and out. 

**I don't know if I'm too attached to my cat, but that means a lot to me, even though the utilities are included in the duplex and I know this is really to conserve energy more than anything.

(That was my biggest news. I can't tell if that's good or bad. I suppose it's better than having lots of/or any bad news, or complaining about poverty or marriage or boredom.)

Then she told me about my 20-year-old cousin, her sister's younger daughter, who stopped going to her community college classes without telling anyone, without withdrawing, AWOL, Fs across the board to replace Fs earned the same way at a previous University. This means no refund, again. The crappiest GPA in the world. And a darker shade of gaining even temporary direction into Academic enlightenment.

She says she wants to do hair, said my mother. Hair?

My mind instantly went into judgement mode. I tried to rationalize positive projections into the future of a budding stylist. I thought about stylists in LA, the ones who do hair for runway shows in New York, New York hair stylists in general, and how people from every demographic made a big deal about having good hair. It's a big market if you think about it. An art form. Like sculpture.

I'm conflicted with my opinions about this whole ordeal. I know for a fact that my drop-out cousin is bright, and does not give a crap about anything. She works at American Eagle Outfitters in the mall making seven-plus an hour folding sweaters and her mom's a millionaire who earned every penny of her fortune by working her ass off.

I signed up for college because I had nothing better to do with my mornings than sleep. And went to college for seven years counting semester breaks and summers. Do I do anything with my degrees now? Nope. Have I? Oh yes. I learned a lot from the books I had to memorize, too. But I can see why my cousin feels the ways she feels about school being pointless. Even though she's nowhere near close to paying her dues. She's never read a book. Her only hobby is getting crunk.

Is my cousin a part of a slacker of all slackers generation derivative of my own? Does she see people like me wasting my degrees and think what's the point? Live life, right? Or is it fair to put her in a category at all? What if college really isn't for everyone? Or worse: what if she's dyslexic? If so, then I guess hair school won't care about that.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

dating stereotypes: the hottie bro & his sponsor

I called a lady about renting our rental today, to give her some details about ambiance and area space. The lady I knew her as a great tipper from the Hollywood wine shop days where I worked for half a year to clear up problems with the IRS. We were known to exchange complaints about our men from time to time. But this time, on the phone, after we decided the house wasn't for her, it was her turn to vent about a guy who wanted "to hang low with his bros."

I separated from my guy friend, she said. We're like not serious, you know, but we do everything together. He told me one of his friends was coming into town and bought them tickets to the game. And then I saw he posted an update on his facebook asking if anyone else was going to the game, that he had extra tickets, so I asked him if he had an extra ticket for me and he said he didn't think so.

Maybe he wanted a boy's night out, I said.

Yeah, she said, but he wanted to hang out before the game, but not after, and I told him I wanted to hang out after the game, and he said he didn't want to feel like his mother was around watching his every move and I didn't like that. He shouldn't have said that to me. That's when I told him it was over.

All I could say was: Well, just give him a couple days to chill out without you and let him buy you some nice jewelry and take you out to dinner after you let him miss you a little bit.

Rated R alert! He doesn't have any money, she said. I pay for a lot of his stuff. He pays for his own food and sometimes mine, but he does cocaine and drinks a lot and last time we went out with his friends he got drunk and put his hands all over these women's asses on the dance floor in front of me and I know he's gonna do that again and get his dick sucked by girls in the hotel dance club and fuck them in a room upstairs with his friends after doing cocaine and I can't deal with that.

All I could say was: If you broke up with him, then stay apart because breaking up with someone before a big night out with his friends will only make him a glutton for revenge and he'll probably end up doing things he wouldn't do if he was taken. Like meaningless post-break-up whore sex. To try to win.

Oh, I didn't think about that, she said. 

I'm picturing the guy to look like someone from the Jersey Shore. Someone much younger than the lady I spoke to. Aside from having low self-esteem issues (obvious from all the work she's had on her body), why else would she put herself through this kind of torture? The guy has no money, apparently craves attention like a starved, weening whelp and squanders what little money he does have on cocaine, booze and pot. Maybe it's the challenge. Or maybe the guy's just really good at telling ladies what they want to hear.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

City of Lost Children--a review

20 minutes into this movie I excused my husband who was sighing loudly while watching it with me, as if the film itself were slowly extracting his teeth with no anesthetic. I asked him what the problem was. "Nothing's happening!" he said, "This artsy movie is incredibly pretentious and I can't figure out what's going on." This is when, in so many words, I called him a fast food Philistine monkey, started the film over from the start and watched it alone, which I mostly prefer to do these days anyway. Though I do see his point.

Jeunet/Caro's film is pretty straight-forward if you process it and compartmentalize the surreal events that take place with a healthy dose of belief suspension topped with a heaping appreciation for the absurd. First off, there's a childlike strong man, One (played by the prolific Ron Perlman), whose voracious little brother has been kidnapped by a clan of one-eyed, robotic Naziesque henchman called Cyclops.


While he's searching for his brother, Perlman stumbles across an exploited-orphan thug racket trained by a pair of evil Siamese twins to pickpocket and pillage the town surrounding them dry. Eventually the evil twins need assistance when their main thief, Miette (played by nymphet Judith Vittet), goes awol with the lovelorn strongman puppy-dogging by her side, and forcefully commissions the aide of their former circus ringleader to employ his well-trained fleas to inject a mind-warping serum into the brains of their opponants, turning them into murderous zombies, killing anyone within arms reach.

While of of this is happening a skynest of six cloned mad scientists and their bald dreamless brother, along with their miniscule mother and uncle who's a brain floating in formaldehyde, are kidnapping children for their dreams, so that the dreamless brother can steal their dreams and dismantle his own premature aging, which is due to his stunted imagination from the lack of dreaming.


The sets built for this film are absolutely breathtaking. The atmosphere eerie and dreamlike. The characters are hopeless and well-buffered to the surviving in a dystopian world. Creating a universe like that from scratch deserves much praise for the courage and gumption involved to make a vision, such as City of Lost Children glow, amid dark-green, phosphorescent seas and steel-gray docklands.

Rango--a review


Rango is a great homage to Westerns, and to great films in general, but it is not a movie for kids. If I were a Deadhead I'd say the movie's for people gourd geeked on psilocybin--the hallucinatory agent in magical mushrooms. But as a former/non-stoner the hyper surreal elements playing off the very realistic desert atmosphere are still a mind blizzard to be reckoned with. (Be sure to have a bottle of water on hand.) 

The talking desert creatures for instance: they are not cute; they're horrendously dried-out, jaundice-eyed, dusty and hostile townsfolk critters. The title character's no better; he's a bug-eyed, thin-limbed reptile with a bent neck and slapstick case of the wobble-de-woes. 

During few scenes I couldn't help but think that the childhood version of me would've been terrified with nightmares from the handful of monstrous villains scattered about, bullying propositions of death onto a ghost town's hapless citizens with sharpened fangs dripping venom, miniature firearms at inklings of threat. The vigilante army was anything but reticent. 


Maybe kids are tougher than they used to be. The Santa Barbara matinee where I watched Rango was filled with tiny children brought by their parents to see what the fuss was all about for this Johnny Depp movie about a funny lizard in the desert getting into trouble. The kids were more than vocal throughout the scariest moments, but for the most part they seemed entertained, though most of the laughter came from adults, aimed at the absurdity of fecal humor and pyrogenic bar violence.

What really makes the movie great are its amazing visuals. The animation is crisp and spectacular, a proud marker of CGI advancement in 2011. 

Compared to last year's "Illusionist" which resembled a geriatric flip book Lolita minus the Viagra fantasy, Rango came, conquered and destroyed any pre-assembled techniques even relatively below par--with substance to boot, minus 3D embellishments that most animated films are superimposing these days, as reliant decoys for insubstantial flash and bling bling dollar sign mass marketing hijinks. Overall, it's pure, absurd entertainment.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

a rant about my library & the experimental process

Hoarding books has become a past time of mine. It's kind of like shopping, except I'm borrowing a series of stacks around the living/bed room. There are four stacks on a sorry excuse for a couch, and one stack beside me on a makeshift table filled with miniature potted plants

I make an effort to pick up titles written by women, but the ones I've actually heard of are scarce, though there are always three copies of Willa Cather's My Antonia scattered around; I'm scared of that book now.

I tried checking out
Ordinary People by Judith Guest, too, but the damn thing wouldn't scan, so I left it at the dock thinking the material's probably dated anyway. Still, it's not very long. Perhaps next time.

The stack beside me is dense. I don't know how many will actually make it into my head any time soon. From the bottom up are DFW's
Oblivion and Girl with Curious Hair, Middlesexthe Vintage Bradbury, Junky by Burroughs, A Book of Common Prayer by Didion, the Crying of Lot 49 (hard to get into) the Remains of the Day and Lorrie Moore's Self-Help.

These books have nothing to do with the books I've bought, which are stacked around the tv. It's a journey more than it is entertainment; and the more books I read, the more I lose my patience with things which seem written with less effort, but win mass acclaim due to the popularity of the author who penned them.

One book which pissed me off recently was
the Body Artist by Don Delillo. Making it through White Noise felt like a conquest, the Body Artist, on the other hand, made me feel patronized. It's one thing in trying to be experimental to work in the realm of some new nuance--extracting narrative, stark minimalism, ignoring punctuation, condensed chronology, atmospheric prose and throwing voices for dialogue, it's another thing all together to warble some stream of consciousness gibberish which only makes sense to no one and present the vomit as high art.

Who cares if you were possessed by the demon essence of a woman who once lived in your sick drawer? If you're not going to even attempt to showcase language, when narrative is ignored, then what are you doing?

It used to be fiction was good for a means of escape; nowadays what I'm coming across is an Academic contest of who can make it seem most a treacherous chore to behold and take apart.

This is in no way progress, or a way of preserving the value of words. Sure, play with language as if it's an instrument for sound, but remember--music still exists for that. Why try to merge to the two, when clearly the effort is making a strain on the actual meaning incubated in good prose. Style, even in experimental writing is a concoctive process, not a cop-out meandering of scattered parts.

Back to the bit about the library, I'm sure my habit of hoarding books isn't too big of a problem since I won't always live very close to a hopping place like the Silverlake branch, so I'll keep doing what I'm doing.

Manhattan Murder Mystery--a premature review

"Save a little craziness for menopause!"

This is what Woody Allen says to Diane Keaton around the 34th minute of Manhattan Murder Mystery. I'd say their characters say it, but it's hard to imagine they're playing anyone but modestly amplified versions of themselves in this one. The film also seems more improvised than Allen's others, which have more focus on the depth of character relations in ways which they intertwine with a complicated wit.

I have to admit that most of this analysis is a defensive attempt at trying to appreciate a movie that has been annoying from the get-go. I'm struggling to get through it. It's taking me back to the time when I came upon some similar later day Woody Allen movie, before I'd watched a few of the better films: Annie Hall, Manhattan, Deconstructing Harry, Hannah and her Sisters, Crimes and Misdemeanors.

I can't remember what it was, but I remember finding Allen's stuttering nervousness shtick revolting. It's adorable now, in the context of a compelling picture, and maybe when he even tones it down a bit, but so far in MMM, it's just too over the top.

Diane's Keaton is dressed in tremendously oversized clothes, as well, and she looks like shit. These issues combined are so distracting, I can't focus on caring if there's been a murder enough to sympathize with Keaton tripping out because she has nothing better to do.

It makes me feel like a terrible human not to care in a plot if a man next door has killed his wife versus her just having a heart attack. It was probably personal if he did, so he wouldn't be a danger to anyone else. So what's the sense of taking justice into your own hands, if a situation's got nothing to do with you?

Now I'm hoping he murdered his wife, so I haven't wasted 34 minutes so far watching Diane Keaton flip out over nothing but some stupid paranoid flaw in her personality. I know this could be the catalyst for an affair with Anjelica Huston's character, who was just introduced as being the cool opposite of Keaton's frazzled quirky lady shtick, since affairs are a common theme in Allen's pictures, but hell oh hell there better be a murder, or something that makes the next hour and thirteen minutes worthwhile, otherwise I'm going to be hostile.

Monday, February 28, 2011

An honest woman in the land of sin

I'm a terrible daughter. I must be, but I know my mother forgives me for it, which makes it okay, and worse. My one New Year's resolution this year was to call her every Sunday, and for the fist few Sundays I did, and every time I did you'd think I'd published a new essay in the New Yorker or something, I was so proud. She liked it, too, even though we soon ran out of things to talk about towards the end of January.

So I went to Italy for my birthday around that time, and since I didn't want to pay for a long distance call, skipped the Sunday I was there, and a few more Sundays, five in fact, until she finally called me today on the last day of February to tell me it was her fiancee's birthday. He told me he didn't want a gift she said, so I'm taking him to Red Lobster and I said I'M PAYING tonight, and he said fine.

I told her she should get him a shirt. She said I buy him shirts when it's not his birthday. Fine, I said, do whatever you want, you know that man and I don't, but when most people say they don't want anything for their birthday they're usually lying. We all know this.

This is when my mother apologized for sending me nothing but a text message for my birthday, saying I hate it when people give me things I don't need and I didn't want to do that to you. I thought: a card would've been nice, but said Italy was enough, that I had a good trip and lots of good food.

Then I asked about the details of the marriage plans, if there were any, when, how, soon, later. We're doing it on Easter she said, because it represents rebirth! Where I said, in a church? Las Vegas, she said, we're going to go for a week, we'll take a bus tour when we're there, go to all the casinos, but I won't take too much money to gamble with, maybe a couple hundred.

Vegas on Easter I said, isn't that a bit of a paradox? It's the land of sin! Rebirth she said, you know like eggs hatching, and our anniversary won't be hard to remember. I suggested my mother skip the bus tour since there was nothing much to see but a bunch of light bulbs affixed to buildings. But the bus tour we took in Los Angeles was nice, she said.

Vegas is a little different, mom. I would know, I got married in an Elvis chapel there a few months ago after you recommended it would be more romantic than going to the Beverly Hills court house. And wasn't it nice she said. I guess so, I said. And my anniversary's Friday the 13th, so that's not hard to remember either. Don't worry, said my mother, in Korea Friday the 13th doesn't exist, it's just another day. I'll keep that in mind I said. And congratulations.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the screaming child who molests my life is a cyst

I'm home alone and the child next door is screaming at the top of his lungs again to be let out of a room. He yells phrases like: LET MEEE OUUUUT, I WANNA TAAALK TO YOOU, I'M SOOORRY, LET ME OUT in between screaming bloody murder. Screaming his guts into the air, through the walls which surround him, outside, through a wall in the kitchen, into the room where I sit and type this.

I've decided this happens at least once a day, around 4pm, and around 4pm when this happens I find it very hard to concentrate on anything, but what the child is screaming about. In the beginning I was alarmed for the health of the child, though now I've begun to sympathize with the parents, who lock the delinquent child in a room as some kind of punishment, or time-out imposed for a junior lunatic fringe.

It is obvious the child is not beaten for his bad behavior or for screaming through the walls, he is only placed into temporary isolation until he either settles down or is released for screaming and potentially upsetting the neighbors enough to calls the authorities. Is there a law saying you can't lock a child in his or her room for small periods of time? I know there are laws for noise violation and domestic disturbances and physical abuse and neglect and such, but I don't see how the authorities could help in this case.

I fantasized today about going next door, knocking on the door, entering the home, asking if I could see the child and as they opened the door to let me, I would enter his room, see that he'd shredded, broken everything in sight, he would see me and try to run past to find something to destroy in the living room, to pull plugs, knock over photo frames, throw his dinner plates around demanding ice cream for every meal, but I would catch him by the arm, put him over my knee and demonstrate real discipline.

I would say: Look, I am trying to concentrate next door, and if you do not stop screaming and start listening to your parents, I am going to call the FBI and they will take you to China and make you work in a factory and you will never have dessert again and your mommy and daddy will make new babies to replace you who not scream and misbehave and they will be very happy that you are not in their lives anymore. Is this what you want?

I fantasized about this instead of doing what I wanted to be doing today because I was distracted. If anything has ever been distracting like ticking through a wall, drips in drains, crickets in the floor, even a neurotic thought loop revolving around the way someone said yes, no or maybe, there is nothing worse than a child screaming at the top of his lungs through the walls of your house, unless he is punching you in the face over and over again for no reason but to be a pain in the ass.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jules and Jim--a review

I have mixed feelings about Jules and Jim. On one hand it's stylistically profound, of another world, a mile marker in the great journey of filmmaking content and technique; on the other hand it's about an insane muse that makes every man who comes into her life fall madly in love with her, including two best friends who revolve their entire lives around her capricious cries, calls and random disappearances to sleep with other men. 


I can't quite put my finger on what irks me overall about this film, whether it's of knowing actual women like that in real life who gave harm to my friends, not being enchanted by Jeanne Moreau, the weakness of both men, perhaps all of it. Perhaps the film makes me recognize and hate a selfish part of myself that I've left behind...that's another story.

I imagine if this film were made today, Kate Hudson, or someone equally attractive, would play the role, while two helpless shmucks whined around her slapstick suicide attempts, eating sandwiches together, while on the side--eating whatever shit she doled out, depending on her boredom.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Margot in the Royal Tenenbaums got it right at least with her cold sincerity and regal demeanor, but she was a misunderstood genius, not a cataclysmic mess for the sake of being cataclysmic.

Female characters feasting on the souls of pathetic men is not compelling, unless the genre is horror, thriller or comedy, none of which was Jules and Jim--a "quirky, romantic, cerebral" drama? Undoubtedly cerebral, yes, but romantic, I couldn't say, unless romance is declared synonymous with terminal illness. But ask most poets; they'll say yes to that one in a snap.

But many people love this film, especially because of the director and the directing, because it's French and quirky in that dark, French manner of dysfunction being real and hilarious and charming women who are crazy drive men mad with desire versus boring beautiful women with every their predictable mannerism just sitting there with nothing to say--yes, yes, yes, I see the attraction and the fodder for conversation this film would bring, the debates of what is what defines art and New Wave greatness.


Jules and Jim is a walloping time capsule of style preserving culture, attitudes, an homage to joie de vivre and the struggles in love which make even the strongest of humans vulnerable in its pursuit. Hence, its  infamy, and its ever growing list of admirers placing it on the pedestal of greatness. 

I myself wouldn't watch it again unless I got in a time machine, went 12 years back into my reckless, carefree lifestyle and turned it on to watch after downing half a bottle of wine with a malleable male admirer, or two. Ah, but then it would all make sense.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

dream about a bear claw

I had a dream that I was going to be a recurring character on a reality show featuring bookish babes mixed with famous rap stars doing Fear Factor stunts like bungee jumping into vats of jello.

I must've been hungry when I had this dream because at some point I invoked a bear claw bigger than my head and was eating it in a coffee shop somewhere close to the house where they had cameras following us around 24/7.

I also met others who were being cast as roommates for the cramped rooms we were supposed to share and create drama in, so the producers brought in an ex of someone I was seeing, just to supposedly sabotage the popularity I received from becoming a star from the first season on to the season we were about to tape which was the fourth where I was set to sky dive naked after a dare.

When I met the ex, I was standing on a porch, looked down and there she was all of three feet tall. The thoughts in my head were, she's an actual "doll" and omigod how is she not considered a midget?

Then another ex of mine, and not the one who I'd known she dated, came outside and said hello to the short woman. It was obvious that they'd dated before too by the way she cruelly bossed him around from the start and he did everything she told him to.

I was confused. How did this three foot tall, doll of a person pull so much of my ass? I thought about the correlation of little girl fetishes, and me, and felt morbidly confused.

Then she crawled up and into a chair on the porch and asked me to sit on the steps and talk to her for a few minutes about our roles on the show. As we sat eye-to-eye, she didn't look short anymore; she had a pretty face and her demeanor was that of a queen.

That's when I knew season four of the show was going to probably be my last. Then the rappers invited her to ice cream, and I was alone.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

literature's androgynous name game, sci-fi & media

I feel like such an idiot. Ever since I was tagged in a post asking me to name fifteen of my favorite authors, and felt like shit because they were all virtually white and male, I've been trying to get more lady writers in my head for the new year.

I've been going to the library and checking out stacks of books penned by women: Grace Paley, Ann Beattie, even to go so far as including: A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert, which I have to admit I'm a little bit intimidated by. So then why am I an idiot? I checked out the Loved One by Evelin Waugh--is why, thinking he was a woman.
I'm so embarrassed for myself I don't even know what to do now. This is worse than the time I flabbergastedly found out Harper Lee was a woman, and felt shame for my shock.

I tried reading the book anyway; I thought: it's short, why not? Waugh's a prolific writer; he penned Brideshead Revisited, Love Among the Ruins. Sadly, after the first few pages I had to put it down.

Not only am I avoiding white, male writing, but I'm also avoiding thoroughly unmodern, or inapplicable writing to boot. Talks about knitted bow-ties and quick-change artists of vaudeville, in that sense don't do anything for me. If I was a burlesque dancer into antiques who felt as though she was born forty years too late...maybe.
But I'm not. I'm more of a sci-fi chick who feels like the world around me is more dated-looking than it should be. I was one of those kids in the eighties, who thought for sure by the 2010's we'd be driving floating cars in silver rompers.

Now, at this rate, it looks like that'll never happen; our cars still resemble rubber and aluminum artifacts from forever ago, while people roll around moaning at any changes they have to make to accommodate progress, comfortable to see things as their parents saw them, spoonfed and anesthetized by the pulp trash we call news media.

Tangents aside, I should walk to the library and get a new stack of books while the sun is out and the air is warm. It's early February in Los Angeles, and I'm not taking for granted the fact that it's 60 degrees and sunny when the rest of the country is worried about snow.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

a complex & skeptical system

I'm losing my edge. I especially noticed this today while having coffee with an ex co-worker from the Brooklyn flea market days when I sold fish tacos in DUMBO by Grimaldi's.

This guy, we'll call him Jake, was a good eight years younger than me, studying psychoanalysis in Manhattan when I met him; he was one of those effeminate types who always talked about his girlfriend.

We got along, him being into Asians, and me being into that passionate attention that gets lavished upon you when you're exactly the type someone's looking for to love. Doting, puppy-eyed worship. It's virtually irresistible when projected by an attractive person.

Anyway, Jake is a fox, so I was happy to meet him when he messaged me saying he'd moved to San Francisco and was going to be in LA for the afternoon. His girlfriend, in town for whatever, would be dropping him off at Intelligentsia at 2:30 to see me.

When I got to the coffee place, I was a few minutes early, so I ducked into a boutique next door and splurged on a handmade cardigan by a local designer, who superimposed N'Sync members onto the bodies of Transformers underneath a bio hazard symbol.

By the time I made it to Intelligentsia, Jake was standing outside, smoking a cigarette by a meter, with his phone in hand to text me and let me know he had just gotten there.

When he saw me, he gave me a nice squeeze, a few kisses on the cheek, and asked me what I'd been up to. I showed him my cardigan. He said it looked expensive and asked me if I had a job. No, I said, then told him about my marriage, physical condition--expecting new life in June. What a way to spring a surprise on me, he said, woah!

When we saw that the coffee shop had a line that went out to the street, we went to Casbah Cafe, which almost always has a place to sit without having to sift through skinny kids in thick framed glasses vogueing and talking about music; although they are often adorable.

I ordered a Yerba Mate latte, a few baked things to pick and taste, and Jake got an Americano; we commenced to catching up.

The scoop on the flea market scene after I left for LA, which apparently became aggressively incestuous before self-destructing, was a joy to imbibe second-hand; drugs, sex, stealing, it was all there. My story on the other hand, was very tame.

How is it anything other than pathetic to hear that an independent forerunner for strong-minded and ambitious women in America has settled down, become domesticated, cooks for and takes care of her husband as one half of a co-dependent partnership, is expecting a baby, and is looking for a new home to build a quiet life in?

A year ago, before all this I was living in Williamsburg, jogging in McCarran Park, having a delicious affair with a skilled and sophisticated Casanova, eating daily Chinese from around the corner, carousing with beautiful gay men to beaches, to clubs...

(it sounds ridiculous and anything but romantic now, but the major difference is I was free and convinced I would never be a representative of convention. I scoffed at moms with their power strollers and organic meal plans. It felt revolutionary to fight the clock, to counter-mimic ideas of stability imposed upon any woman in her lifetime.

For one, I felt it was impossible to find one partner who I wouldn't find completely aggravating after a a few years of spending too much time together. And two, if I did ever find  that guy, there would be no guarantee that he'd want me back.

What a complicated system: coupling; it's half based on smell and the rest has to do with timing and a willingness to settle for some semblance of a prize.)

As I spoke to Jake, I saw the look in his eyes change from a shy, flirtatious curiosity to looking nervous and betrayed, as if I went from being "me" to one of "them." Them being of people who have completely unregistered in the department of availability, as a muse, a mentor, fantasy love object, whatever--for his age range anyway.

Who knows, his clock could shift into family mode one day, too; and only then will I make a comeback as the ideal mother/partner figure.

Ideas of revolution fade. Of wanting to feel special, different, or finding one's rich sense of purpose in a realm of antiestablishment ennui. Now baby pictures shroud the family mantle as a contemporary shrine of la tabula rasa; as the organized rebirth of one's own calamitous identity.

I used to fantasize about living alone on a lighthouse with no connections to the outside world. I see now I was only preparing myself for the worst. Trying not to be blindsided by potential shitty hands being dealt at any given moment. I was bracing myself for tragedy.

It's nice to be able to relax; I've certainly paid my dues. And if this makes me boring and old and conventional, then I embrace all of it, as long as my husband embraces me whenever I need him to.
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