Monday, November 30, 2009

Ho Ho Ho

Back at work today. Are there 4 words more depressing? I don't think so. If there are, I defy you to find them.

Nonetheless, I felt ready to be back at work today. It had been a long and relaxing weekend and I was ready to go back to the norm. Well, kind of ready. I had gotten so used to life without an alarm clock that when my alarm went off this morning, I literally had no idea what was going on. I had one of those disoriented moments like you have in a hotel. For a good 2 minutes, I was running through questions. Who am I? Where am I? What time is it? Why do I have to be up at this time? Oh wait, if I snooze, what time do I actually have to be up? All those very important existential questions. Ah. Life is complicated.

And today was somewhat of a blur anyway. Catching up on a thousand emails and phone calls and meetings and to-dos. This week should be pretty crazy too, on into the holiday season. Ugg. I've said this before and I truly apologize to those who love Christmas, but I just hate the holidays. I envy you people. Maybe it's a religious holiday for you with tons of significance. Or maybe you get to spend time with your loving family. Or maybe you enjoy buying gifts for everyone in your life. Well, for me, I don't really get any of that. I'll explain.

Warning: Debbie Downer! Those who want to maintain a childlike innocence please redirect your browser here.

Okay, can I continue? Only cynical grownups in the room? Awesome.

I am not religious. I was raised in a Christian religion, but (and without delineating my entire theory on ideologies) I've made my own way. And I must also assert that Yule was a pagan holiday hijacked by the Christians to convert them. Even if you're Christian, you have to know that Jesus couldn't have been born in December. There. So, I do love the winter season. I love snow and snowmen and snowflakes and the cold sparkliness of December (or what should be December. I wouldn't know in Southern fucking California). But I don't go to a church. I don't put up nativities. That's not me.

And my family circle is small. I'm close with my dad but we've agreed not to spend Christmas together. Have I mentioned I'm estranged from my mother? I am. And I won't make my dad pick between us, so he spends a good chunk of time supporting me and my mom gets him for the holidays. And I'm okay with that. My childhood Christmases were never memorable in a good way anyhow. It's always been stressful for me, as long as I can remember. So a family-free Christmas is A-okay.

In fact, I'll probably just go see a movie with Morgan this year. Just how I like it. Last year, I treated myself to a Harry Potter marathon. It was fantastic. In fact, the best Christmas I ever had was in London. I had been backpacking with my cousin and my bestest friend in the world Lynnette through the UK and we ended up in London for Christmas day. The three of us exchanged cheesy souvenirs and Lynnette and I (Linds was sicky, poor thing) tromped around the city in the freezing cold. And the tube was shut down so we literally walked all over London. It was a blast! And we saw things we never would have seen on a bustly day taking the tourist routes. And we discovered the best Turkish food you will ever have in your whole damn life. Oh my god it was AH MAY ZING! Best Christmas ever.

So that brings me to...what...oh yeah. Shopping. First off, have I mentioned I used to work retail? For years I worked retail. And let me tell you, Christmas time in the malls is like guerrilla warfare. Perfectly sane people lose their minds. All of a sudden, all that stands between them and their perfect Christmas is a book or a bra or a sweater. And they just don't understand that you don't have a printing press in the back of the store. Or a sewing machine. Or a magic fucking wand. Or maybe the nice lady in front of them took the last one of whatever it is...they will turn into goddamn Galahad and fight to the death for the damn item. Or maybe they're just cranky from all the shopping, all the spending. That credit card starts to get heavy after a while so no matter how fast the lines go, how many registers are open, how nice you are, you (innocent, underpaid retail worker) are the devil incarnate and must be put in your place. You wouldn't believe the hideously mean things I've heard people say to employees during this festive holiday season. Spirit of the season my ass.

So you can see why I'm a little wound up about Christmas shopping. If I don't absolutely have to, I do not enter the stores, malls, or the like from Black Friday until New Years. I shop online, I make shit, whatever I have to do to survive by not going near the mania that is shopping around the holidays.

Plus I'm buhroke. Broke. Po. So fucking poor. And I want to be generous. I do. But oh my god do the charities come out of the closet (he he) in December! I am a good person. I build houses in New Orleans. I give to HRC and Courage Campaign. I've worked at emergency shelters and tutored kids. But that kind of giving should be spread out, all year. When it all piles on at once, it really pushes my finances out the window. And at my work (love you coworkers!) we have a million events in which we're expected to bring toys and canned goods, etc. And it's a very good thing. But I really can't afford it all. This year, I have to choose which things I can go to depending on what I can afford to give. I even made artsy Christmas gifts this year (mentioned that already) so it's not as if I'm spending on me and can afford it. Nope, I'm on a budget all the way around.

Side story: I used to work in a book store and we used to ask people to donate cheap books (like maybe $3 or $4 books) to charity. If someone really seemed like they couldn't afford it, or afford it right then, I got that. But people would spend 500 plus dollars and throw it all on an AMEX and they can't afford three more dollars for a needy kid? That I don't get. Same with me. I give where I can. And I when I can give more, I will. But I just can't right now.

Okay Debbie Downer is finished. But you can see why this season is so stressful right, Internet? I'd really like to keep an open mind, though. If one of those categories changed its mind and jumped in my lap, I'd really try to learn to love the Christmas season, I really would. Ho ho ho and all that. I can't even seem to get the ho part down. Looks like I have a long way to go.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Photo of the Day: Building Hope

I took this last spring while building this very house in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity in the Upper Ninth Ward. It was an incredibly life-changing experience and I urge everyone to take a week of their lives and go and build. There is so much left to be done there and the only way it will happen is through volunteers. So, go. Listen to the local's stories. And see if you can't live with their burden of gratitude. I dare ya.

Also, it's tons of fun! I'll be going back next spring and I totally can't wait, not just to use power tools, climb rafters, and nail in boards, but to eat Po Boys and Beignets and Muffalettas and crawfish pie and King Cake. Good god it's good you work so much because otherwise I'd come home HUGE!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crazy Lady Mastheads

I've had some responses about several of my mastheads and I have to say, I can't take credit for the artwork or photography most of the time.

Often I find free graphics online and use those or, in the case of my latest masthead, I get the photo or graphic from a designer. I find a lot of work I'm in love with on Supermarket and the photo of the nekked girl is by Matt Schwartz. And I've found a lot of designs that I just love and have done nothing with yet.

Then I just write on them. It's all very diabolical.

Friday, November 27, 2009

it's called "Black Friday" for a reason

Ah the day after Thanksgiving. I am so stoked to have 3 more days off, I...I...well, I don't know what I could do, but you can bet it's exciting! Damn skippy.

Yesterday was nice. It was great to see my cousin and hey boyfriend John and my aunts.And my sweet potatoes turned out great. My pumpkin mousse pie was pretty delish, but I think I can improve on it. I'm thinking it would be better not frozen, with more of a puddingy texture. And less crust. I may just do a super thin graham cracker crust on the bottom and a dusting of crumbs on the top. YUM! Ooooh, maybe I'll make it for New Years (More on my New Years plans as we get closer to)! I also took some more Holgas which I'm taking in to develop sometime this weekend. We'll see how they turn out. Here's a digital of my fam:

Poor John, though. I always feel a little bad for him, being the only guy with all these women around. He holds his own though, maybe even likes the attention a little. He was in classic Thanksgiving eating form, even changed his shirt and pants in order to go in for lots of dessert. But the poor guy had to leave in the evening for work, which meant that he had to put on work clothes. The following is the ensuing challenge for a very full boy:

I had a rough night last night, though, Who knows why, but I had the most bizarre dreams. So today I'm a little crankers, a little tired. Even so, I have forced myself to do a little winter decorating. I wasn't going to. I've been so apathetic about the season. It doesn't even feel like winter. But I made myself do it. And I'm glad I did. My place looks pretty damn cute.

And for all your crazy Black Friday shoppers, what is wrong with you? I worked retail for like 7 years. 7 years I can never get back. That is 7 years of my adult life that I spent battling with crazy people who have such shopping fever they resemble footage of meth attics being electrocuted. I assume. I've never seen footage like that. Now that I don't have to, I wouldn't leave the house on Black Friday if you paid me. You'd have to hold one of my family member's hostage, threaten to shoot him or her to get me to go near a store today. And even then, it would depend on which family member. This is what you're supposed to do the day after Thanksgiving: sleep your fat ass in! Wear pajamas until you decide to venture outside and you don't want to frighten the neighbors. Eat reheated leftovers, and bee tee doubleyou, pie is a perfectly acceptable breakfast. Now THAT is a proper Black Friday.

Anyway, because I'm so po (that's so poor, I can't afford the extra "o" or "r"), I'm giving artsy fartsy presents this year. Maybe a tad narcissistic, but hell, if those people I love the most don't love my art, maybe they shouldn't get presents. Hah!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

the dreaded obligatory Thanksgiving post

Here I am, the night before Thanksgiving, making sweet mashed potatoes and getting my ass ready for the holiday I have always pretty much hated more than any others. And I will say that it's not my most detested any more. In adulthood, I hate Christmas more than any other holiday (but that's a story for the Christmas post). So Thanksgiving has moved up a notch.

Why do I hate Thanksgiving? In the first place, it's just not my holiday. I don't love Thanksgiving food, the turkey, the yams, the cranberry sauce, the stuffing. Ew. Ew. Ew. I like mashed potatoes though and somehow over the years macaroni and cheese has entered our Thanksgiving menu (probably because I love it), so I usually eat those two things. If there happens to be a ham, I'll eat a piece of that too.

But in general, the whole FEAST thing, not my style.

And then there's the idea of family, everyone piled into one house for an entire day or gathered around a table. For most families, I'm finding, that's a nice image. For my family, well, that's just not realistic. Any situation in which my entire family (or even just me, my mom, and my dad) are stuck in one place with no way out equals utter disaster. Most of my childhood memories of Thanksgiving end in tears, usually because my mother ended up screaming at my dad or me or both.

So the past couple years, my cousin Lindsey and I have constructed a nice, mellow, intimate Thanksgiving. It's just she and I, her boyfriend John, her mom, and this year another aunt is coming, an aunt who is techinally not "family" since our uncle cheated on her and divorced her for a golddigger, but we love this aunt more. It's nice. It's just those we love and can stand. It's a safe space. Plus we kind of do our own menu. Lindsey makes a Tofurkey which I avoid like the plague because I'm allergic. John makes a heavenly macaroni and cheese. Last year, I made Tirimisu and this year I made a pumpkin mousse pie. Yum! And I already mentioned the sweet mashed potatoes. We do our own thing and it works and it's very low-stress. Just the way we like it.

And despite that, I'm still anxious. Not for any good reason, but I know it's residual energy of horrible Thanksgivings past. This holiday just doesn't agree with me.

And that brings me to the symbology, the history of this holiday which I just don't agree with celebrating.

This pretty much sums up how I feel about Thanksgiving:

Yes, why don't we celebrate a holiday that commemorates the conquering of a foreign land, the decimation and rape of its native peoples, their way of life, and the gift of small pox. Yes. Let's gather around, stuff ourselves until we're huge and recall what we're grateful for instead of mourning the atrocities we enacted in order to celebrate this momentous occasion. That's really something to celebrate.

Okay, I'm done pissing and moaning. I hope you all have fantastic Thanksgivings. May your families all be wonderful. May you all get tremendously fat. And when you're recounting what you're thankful for, try to remember an entire culture of people still struggling to realign itself in the world because of the actions of our "forefathers."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Photo of the Day: Aesthetics

Okay, so I was at LACMA again this weekend. And I took some shots on my brand 'pankin' new Holga which I'll post at a later date when I use up my film and get it developed. Wow. Forgot what it was like to use real film! How exciting!! Anyhow, these are some of my favorite digitals from the day:

I took a lot of photos of art this weekend, of installations and architecture and sculptures, but this shot, which was almost an accident, is one of my faves. I set my digital camera down to get my Holga out and looking up saw this shot, all golden from the late afternoon sun. I love how this shot is so imperfect, the background out of focus and the sun flare on the concrete. It's captivating what you see when you're not really looking.

This one is another fave. It's not art, just railing. But I love the twistiness of the bars, the different textures, some dull, some shiny and reflective.

And lastly for today is this guy. I took several angles of this sculpture, a copy of Rodin (side note: did you know that no original Rodin works exist? it's true.). I love this one because of the silhouette against the blue sky. The sun is directly behind him so he appears totally black. I also like the palm trees in the scene. It's like he's shooting something in that tree. It's probably a homeless person.

Look for more shots later on flickr.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

in hot water

When did I post last? No clue. But I believe I was still sicky sick sick. I battled this Evil Cold for about a week, tried to work on Tuesday until I threw in the towel and succumbed to my illness. But Tuesday is about when my water heater decided to go on strike.

Let's see. I think it was Tuesday night. After the shortest shower ever (not counting my 60 second power showers at Camp Hope in New Orleans), I checked my water heater to see why I ran out of hot water. And just to get the full effect, picture me: hacking up a lung and kind of dizzy. Pissed and breathless from the shortest shower ever. And wearing a mish mash of post-shower clothing: flip flops, sweat pants, a towel around top and a robe that I couldn't find the tie to (which is why I still had the towel.) Oh, and wet hair.

So the pilot was out. I had lit the pilot on a water heater before, but that was like 8 years ago maybe and I didn't totally remember. So after squeezing myself into the inexplicably small space they wedge water heaters into, I managed to read the directions and get it re-lit. But then I didn't think anything of it.

Wednesday I stayed home from work and when I went to take a nice bath for my poor sicky sick sick self, guess what? No hot water. Yup. As you can imagine, I was overjoyed by this point. Over the goddamn moon with happiness. Checked the water heater. Pilot out. Again. I try lighting it again but it won't stay lit. So, I call my pops for advice and he says try some different things. Long story short, I get it lit, but it only stays on for an hour or so before going out again. I call my land lord, but they can't send someone out until Thursday evening or Friday and I'm like, I just want some hot water!

But I had gotten it on long enough to heat water for a short shower, so I showered it up and went to work on Thursday. Side note: by this point, I had cabin fever so freakin' bad that I was deadset on being sick no longer. I just refused. No more sicky sick sick. Nuh uh. Nope. Done. Plus, there is only so much Internet TV you can watch before you run out. The last straw was watching an exorcism on some ghost watchers show. I just couldn't handle the idiocy any longer! So off to work I went.

By Thursday after work, I couldn't even get it to light any more so my dad came over and banged around at it and replaced the thermal cupola something somethingorother. Whatever. It worked! It was on and the water was making heating sounds. Happy days are here again. I may have even sung.

But oh wait, a couple of hours later and it was out again. Mother fucker. I did have enough hot water for a short shower on Friday morning and I went to work. I called the landlord again at 9 am (pee ess, who opens at 9? What year is this?) and they promised to send someone out to fix it. They must have sensed I was at the end of my hot water rope, because when I got home on Friday...drum roll please....I had a brand new water heater!

Now, the dude left a huge mess in my house and my cats were seriously traumatized by the STRANGER, STRANGER IN OUR HOUSE! The world is ending and children are dying in the Sudan, but there was a STRANGER. IN. OUR. HOUSE! (poor Hobbes was hiding under the covers until this morning. poor fat cat doesn't realize people can still tell he's there.). And this morning I have no water pressure in my kitchen sink. But who cares? I have hot water! I can wash dishes in the bathtub if I have to. It's all gravy, baby, because I have hot water. Hot water! Hot. Water. Aren't we all excited?

I really wanted to write a blog today about the new breast cancer screening recommendations. And I know I still owe you the geisha story. But this was much too good of a tale to pass up. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to take a very long, very hot shower.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Photo of the Day: Little Fish

This is another San Diego shot. I just love Koi and I think I keep taking pictures of them and this is the only one that has ever turned out decently. Maybe it's the clearer water or maybe this particular fish was more lazy than most Koi. Don't know, but I won't complain. I also love the dimensions of the shot. The sun reflected in the lower left corner and dissipating up to the fish in the upper right. Love that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

parental units

I was reading one of my favorite blogs just now, written by one of the funniest women on the planet, Heather Armstrong of, and in this particular post, Heather describes how her mother has the shortest phone conversations ever. And anyone who knows my mother at all will at this point be smacking their heads and going, what a lucky lady!

This is because while Heather's mom may not be able to stay on the phone for over a minute, my mom holds the record for being the complete antithesis of that. Now, I must say at this point that I do not get along with my mom, haven't spoken to her in a long time, but that's not the point. So let's set all that aside.

My mom loves the phone. Lives for it. Call her at your own peril. I recommend that anyone calling her just start the conversation with "goodbye" or "gotta go." That will buy you an hour or so. Don't even attempt, "I can't talk long." She won't even hear it. She'll just keep barreling through so keep those goodbyes going as long as you can. And if all else fails, she doesn't really understand cell phones. Just pull the, "I can't hear you....are you there?...can you hear me?....if you can hear me, I'm hanging up now..." and just hang up. Thank god for cell phones. I don't know what people did before them. How did they ever end conversations with my mom?

She's also a salesman's dream come true. She's gullible and will buy whatever you're selling. So if you can imagine her two favorite mediums, shopping and the phone, coming together in a vortex with my mom at the middle, well, that's a phone bill I don't want to see. Salesmen (and women) beware. She'll buy your product alright, but at what cost? You may sell twenty subscriptions to Angler or 15 dog hair trimmers, but you'll lose twelve hours of your life. Twelve hours you can never get back!

Don't get me started on QVC. Before my dad cut up her debit card, I'm pretty sure the entire call center there knew her middle name. And my dad's. And mine for that matter. Because what else do you think she talks about.

Okay, okay, I'll stop making fun of mi madre. But, this is the easy stuff. The stuff you're supposed to make fun of. This is the stuff that sitcoms are made of.

To be fair, here's some quirky stuff about my dad. My dad has been a closet smoker his whole life. I think the only time he smoked openly was in Vietnam. I actually think he thinks no one knows he smokes. Hey, dad! We know. We know. He also looks like a mad scientist. Seriously. He's had this Albert Einstein thing going on since 1980 and I don't think he's combed his hair since 1973.

This works because he actually is a scientist. He works in a chemist lab and I hear that the younger techs like to give him that photo of Einstein sticking his tongue out. Perfect likeness. Oh I know. Did you ever see Willie Wonka? The first one? My dad looks like Grandpa Joe. Hold on, yes! Here's a picture . Do you see? That's my pops. Ooh also, my dad used to be a fire captain and the younger guys used to call him Many Moons. Love that. But he's got a great sense of humor.

I found this website this weekend whilst holed up in my house sick and I think I want to submit a pic of my 'rents. I have a bunch, but this one is a big contender:
That's me in the middle. I'm guessing this is early 1981 and you've caught my dad in a rare hair combed moment. This is also about one year before he started losing that mane of hair. Poor guy. Do you love their matching shirts? You know my mom made him do that. They have tons of pictures with matching shirts. I swear.

Today, halfway through the day, I realized it's my adoption day. It's the 29th anniversary of my adoption and we always celebrated with dinner and a small present. This year I forgot about it, but my dad did make me lunch on Saturday and bought me a much needed appliance for my tiny kitchen. I say success! But every year I've been less and less excited about this day. And that's complicated. Part of it the lack of relationship with my mom but part of it is that I just keep forgetting. And as I've gotten older, celebrating was put on the back burner. Some years I had to work, one year I was in France, etc. It's become not such a big deal.

Part of why we celebrated when I was a kid was that I shared my birthday with my mom. So instead of my birthday, this was my special day. And instead of a huge party (which my mom loved to throw for our birthdays and invite all of China), I just wanted a special dinner with one close friend. That's kind of how I still roll. But since then, I've made a bigger deal out of my birthday. I get a special day and don't really feel the need to do that twice.

Plus maybe that just shows how comfortable I am. So what if I forgot? I'd rather have quality time with friends on random days for no better reason than the pleasure of each other's company.

Well anyway, happy 29th adoption day to me. I may have been alive longer, but I've been an Andrea since November 17th, 1980. I was a Rachel before that. But that's a story for another time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

she's alive!

Where do I even start? I realize I haven't posted in a while and that would be because I've been hacking up a lung. Well, that's not entirely accurate. I've only been coughing a little. I've been sick. Bleh. Sick.

And I am not the type to run to the doctor for every runny nose or dry cough. Not me. You've got to understand, I was raised by a first class hypochondriac who would rush me to the doctor for every tiny thing. Don't get me started on her own "illnesses," but for all of my life, the only positive attention I got from her was when I was sick. You might think that would breed a second generation hypochondriac, but instead it's given me an aversion to needless medicine. I'll go when it's necessary, but I'm a big believer that it's usually not necessary.

Anyway, I'll climb off my soapbox now. The point being is that if I go to a doctor, it's for a good damn reason. Thursday I felt pretty damn sick and left work a smidge early and even after sleeping like 16 hours, I still felt crappy Friday morning so I took the morning off. I had some work stuff that I had to do on Friday though, a couple of deadline type things that I could only do from my work computer so I drug my ass to work after lunch. I know what you all are thinking. Swine Flu! Swine Flu! Run for your lives! She WENT TO WORK with SWINE FLU! Ok, did you get that out of your system? Better now? Okay, then shut up. First of all, I did not have Swine Flu symptoms. Secondly, shut up.

Moving on.

By midday through the afternoon, not only had my cold symptoms persisted, I felt more exhausted than I had after a ten mile hike and my head was throbbing with the power of ten thousand suns (points if you get that reference) and my neck was feeling sore.

Okay, so at this point, I'm bummed. Not because I'm sick, but because I had been planning to go to this Happy Hour thing that a bunch of my friends were going to. This had been planned for a while and I was super stoked to go. But I knew that not only was I not going, but that I'd rather tear off my feet, cook them in a stew, and feed them to geese before I was going to stand up for a few hours, laugh with other humans and possibly consume some sort of alcoholic beverage. I felt so crappy that I couldn't even consider the scenario with club soda in my hand (and I love club soda). I really just wanted to go home and die.

And the sore neck really concerned me. I'd normally try to ride out a cold or flu and let me immune system do its job and strengthen itself in the process, but the neck thing really concerned me. I knew a guy who had a bad cold one day and the next had died from Meningitis. It's a really serious disease and is really checked out because it mimics a cold. Except for a sore neck. That's the tell.

So I called my pops to see what he thought I should do. I should mention that not only do I trust my dad completely, but he's a former Fire Captain/EMT and I trust his judgement of medical whoseewhatsit questions. Plus he's not a hypochondriac. He was very concerned and jumped in his car right away and drove the hour to my house to take me to the Urgent Care. Cue: AW. Isn't my dad great?

At this point, I'm worried. And I just want to get checked. Make sure it's not something life threatening. And go home. That's the plan.

So. Urgent Care. Long story short, we get there about 45 minutes before closing time and they rush me to the nurse, who is concerned, but my HMO (stupid effing HMO) hasn't gotten back to approve seeing the doctor and there's a 50/50 chance I'll get stuck with the entire bill just for seeing the doc, let alone if I have something that requires more care. I opt to fuck that shit and leave, so my dad then takes me to the ER, which, btw, in my fuzzy state, I couldn't remember how to find even though it's right near my house.

Half an hour longer than it takes, we arrive at the ER where two very nice nurses take me in before a long ass line of people (must be my winning smile), a loverly doctor nicely checks me out and pronounces that I will not die. At least not yet. I have a respiratory infection. If I had meningitis, I'd be in a lot worse shape (good to know, cuz I felt pretty damn bad. still do), and gives me a prescription for pain meds for my massive headache (which is causing the neck pain) and a decongestant. I also love that she didn't throw antibiotics at me. I'd like to see my immune system try its hardest first.

I'd also like to point out that she started reassuring me that I didn't have the flu without me even asking. I said that I wasn't concerned about that and she looked me dead in the eye, cocked an eyebrow, and in serious sarcasm font said, They always are. Every runny nostril and they're worried about H1N1. Good god I love that doctor. Made my whole damn day.

After that, my wonderful pops drove me to get my scripts and he took care of me this morning too. I still feel pretty damn shitty, but I'm coughing less and the motrin keeps the headache/fever at bay. I'm just so damn exhausted though! I've just been vegging all afternoon, watching my Hulu (sweet, sweet Hulu. how I love you.), and resting my sick ass.

Side note: thanks to all of the incredibly sweet friends of mine who have wished me well. I despise being sick and you make me feel better. ♥

I've really been wanting to write about the most delicious conversation that I had with Mo the other day too. And at the risk of giving away a most wonderful and new inside joke, I think I'll have to. Another day though. I'll give you this: there's a geisha. Oh yeah! Now you're intrigued.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Photo of the Day: Painted Lady

I took this in San Diego at a Bontacial Garden. I wish you could see the center more clearly, because there's water and little living things in there. But mostly I love that this plant is all sex. All lipstick and a mouth just begging for it. I could also give a more vulgar reference here a la Georgia O'Keefe, but I'll leave that to you. Go here to see a bigger version.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Photo of the Day: Stark Beauty

I took this shot this last summer in Yosemite. It was my first time there and I absolutely fell in love with the park. I took hundreds of photos, felt like Ansel Adams himself, but this one is my very favorite. In fact, if you come to my house, you'll find this framed on the wall. I love the contrasts of dead branch twisting against the bright blue sky. For the record, this isn't manipulated. The sky really was that blue. God I can't wait to go again.

wild things

I had an unexpected early day today (thanks, boss) so what was I gonna do with myself? I could do errands or get some cleaning done, but that's boring. I mean, when was the last time I had an afternoon off right? So I took my ass to the movies to see Where the Wild Things Are.

I had really, really been wanting to see it. Had been really intrigued by the mixed reviews and really wanted to do some judging for myself. Plus I love to go to the movies by myself and hadn't done that in a long time. Of course I was raised on the children's book by Maurice Sendak but I heard that the film was much darker. Resolved to have no expectations, I bought my ticket, my box of raisinettes, and settled in for an enjoyable afternoon.

First off, at the movie theater in my small town, there is this older man who takes tickets occasionally. And he is a sweet old lascivious old man, a shameless flatterer, a total flirt. It's sweet though. If he were any younger, it would be dirty and disturbing, but instead it just makes a girl feel giggly. It was a nice ego boost. Thanks, old movie theater guy!

Secondly, I get in the theater and it is empty. Hoorah! I love that. I love having my pick of the theater. Except what's that I see at the back of the room? A teeny tiny head with two pom pom pigtails and two big eyes peeking just barely over the seat in front of her. This little girl all by herself is standing alone in the theater, holding a box of popcorn and not sitting because she can't maneuver the seat while holding the box. Poor kid. And what was she doing by herself anyway? That, Internet, is a kidnapper's dream come true. Needless to say, softie that I am, I helped her into her seat and waited with her until her mom got there. Most disturbing moment, when a Twilight promo flashed on the screen, she announced to me that she had seen that! Wasn't it scary, I asked her. Nope. No it wasn't. What? She seemed about 5, if that. Uh huh.

Now it is at this moment that I remember that the film we are about to watch is not really a kid's movie. It's based on a children's book and it's about a child, but it is not for children. Seriosuly, do people not research a film before taking their child?

After the film started, two more families with VERY small children came in. One of which settled right in front of me. Seriously? There is a WHOLE big empty theater and you have to sit your three year old right in front of me? Your young child who screams at the scary parts and says mommy about 57 times a minute? That was your best option?

Despite the young children who were watching a movie that was not meant for children, I truly enjoyed the film. But it is not for kids. I might take an older child, but little kids? Nope. It's dark and emotionally violent. What I absolutely loved was the psychological realism. The film making itself was violent to reflect the turmoil of the characters. Story and acting aside, this film is truly a piece of art. The style at moments is incredibly quiet and reflective and quite beautiful and then next it is raucous and moving and you get sucked into the physicality of the action.

And of course the story is quite poignant and smart. It's extremely psychological and I could see how someone who doesn't appreciate the psychological perspective would not appreciate this film. But I just got lost in it. Despite the magical landscape of the film, the characters are incredibly relatable and realistic, adult in their voices but childlike in their cocoons of issues and neuroses. I absolutely enjoyed it and I can't wait to buy it and make it mine.

And of course, that leaves the best part. The soundtrack was absolutely delicious! I wanted to jump into the soundtrack and start choreographing. I was disappointed to find two different soundtracks available on iTunes from the different collaborators, but I may just have to buy them both.

Here's a great song from the film from Karen O and the Kids:

All is love. I love that. ♥

Monday, November 9, 2009

confessions of a white girl

There is an issue that has been weighing on me of late, for most of my life really, but this is something I have to get off my chest. Racism. I don't understand it. Now, I don't understand all sorts of bigotry and hatred, but the one on the table today is racism. And racism is as diverse as the victims of it, but it pains me in all its forms.

As I listen to NPR on the drive home or read news story after news story about Fort Hood, I can't but hurt for the tragedy, of course, but I also hurt for the racist implications which are bound to come from this. Religious discrimination aside, and the realities of who Hasan is and his motives aside (because no one really knows yet and that's not the subject right now anyway. I'll let authorities worry about that.), my concern is the impact this will have on those of any Middle Eastern decent.

It is an age-old tale that racism is consistently used as a tool of propaganda to fuel national support. Look at the Japanese concentration camps of the forties. Even look at the north-south racist propaganda of the Civil War. Ask my dad about the plethora of derogatory terms against anyone of Vietnamese decent, or any Asian decent for that matter. It's an important element of the war machine to hate the other side with such passionate vehemence that no one could object. They must despise them.

So we're in a war right now. And I am not going to preach about the war and I know that there are people who educate themselves about this war. However, for most Americans, the average person doesn't know the differences between Muslim nations, let alone ethnic differences and dialects. Over here, whether you come from and Arab nation or anything East of Africa (forgetting of course all of the Muslim African nations), you're just brown. You're a caricature of a whole region. Never mind the incredibly different nuances throughout such a huge region. What matters is that we must hate anyone east right now.

But to get into that I'd have to start quoting Orientalism and I don't have time for that. Nor do you want to read a dissertation. But I do recommend it. It's not only profound, it's timeless and relevant.

But who am I, you ask, to spout such lofty ideals? Who am I to climb on a soapbox? I'm no one, really, just a blogger. Just a white girl who grew up with open eyes, eyes that saw the evils in this world and couldn't accept that. And I hate that white privilege that bestows its understanding and grace upon all those discriminated against. I hate that. If white people aren't taking the power, they (we) assume its theirs (ours) to give. If we aren't the racists, then we still sit on white privilege and claim to understand the evils of racism. Right? Well that's the norm. And I buy that.

But I (and please don't kill me here) can't help that I'm white any more than anyone else can help the pigment in their skin. I've done my best in my life to live with an open mind and not buy into the racism machine. I've seen it first hand. I grew up witnessing the pain of some very close Mexican friends and I knew that it was not good to be white. White was bad. White was the Man. So I prayed every night that I would wake up and be beautiful like my best friend Tawnya. What am I saying? I am saying that I learned something from that. That it is okay to witness another perspective.

So I've just tried to keep on learning, studying the roots of racism, keeping an open mind. I've learned much about racism in its different forms from its colonial roots to slave trades and this is what I think (now, what I think doesn't really matter, but here it is anyway).

What I think is that the new-agey colorblind let's all just get along rainbow kids method doesn't work. And it doesn't work because we're not a colorblind utopian society on mars. We're humans and we have centuries of human history that just can't be ignored. Centuries of conquering and domination. We can't just sweep all that under the rug and pretend it didn't happen. It did.

Also, this argument of it's not me, it was my grandparents or great grandparents, etc. just does not hold up. For some, the kind of violent racism that you read in books is still happening. There are still nooses in Illinois and it's still dangerous to drive while black or fly while brown. It's not the past; it is still today. For others, it was their childhoods. My parents' generation WAS the civil rights generation and that violence is still palpable for many people, like PTSD. It wasn't so long ago. And slavery in America happened just over a hundred years ago. For most nations, that's a minute. America is young and we shouldn't just pretend that our entire childhood and adolescence wasn't spent in dominance and abuse of others.

Instead of erasing the past or the present wrong, instead of stepping blindly into a future built on a rocky past, I say we confront these realities. We delve into them. I don't necessarily buy into nationalism but I do know that if we expect to resolve a national consciousness and heal these deep racist wounds, we have to confront it. I don't care if it's not you, if you're not a racist. And I don't care if your great grandmother helped in the underground railroad. I don't even care if you've never been a victim of racism and can't empathise. Swim in these realities. Read slave narratives. Read current accounts of hate crimes and don't just read once, read three times or until you feel for these victims. Cry for them. Cry for yourself because this is your (our) culture. We need to all face the stark and graphic truths of racism at its worst, the worst of our past and the worst of our present.

And then we can mourn. Truly mourn. We can mourn for the transgressions of our ancestors and for others' ancestors. We can mourn for the travesties enacted against our parents and grandparents and great grandparents and their grandparents. We can mourn the history we deserve but don't have, the one based on heroism and great acts. We can mourn that that history is tainted with the skeletons of hatred and bigotry. We can sob in the streets for that which hateful Americans have robbed us of. We can shed tears for those brutalized and imprisoned and treated like animals.

But then we have to be adults again. We have to pick ourselves back up and wipe away the tears and realize that even though our fathers failed us, we now need to parent ourselves. We are responsible for our future actions. We have to be our own moral compass. No more blaming others and no more hiding behind others' mistakes. We all have to move forward consciously and without naivete, always questioning our actions and motives, actively checking our behavior and teaching our children to exude understanding and coexistence.

That's what I think anyway. But what do I know? I'm just a white girl from Southern California.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Photo of the Day: Installation Jungle

I took this photo at LACMA and what I love about this installation is that it is ripe with photographic possibilities. I have about 30 shots from this piece and all from different angles. It truly is a streetlamp jungle.

Friday, November 6, 2009

beep beep yeah

Have I mentioned that my car is still in the shop? Still. In. The. Shop. Still. I took it in 2 weeks ago! Want to hear the story? Of course you do. Why do I even ask?

So, I got a call from Tiffany at the body shop (very nice gal) the Wednesday after I took the car in. She said they found more damage and told my insurance (who will remain nameless unless I get my car back soon) and she was waiting on approval in order to move forward. That's fine. Normal. Good so far.

And I think it was Friday morning that Tiffany called me again saying that my insurance adjuster finally called her back. Finally? Turns out they found the extra damage on Monday and had been calling my adjuster every day for a week. Seriously? Oh yes. And I guess my adjuster, let's call her Amy because that's her name, tried to claim that she never got the messages. All 5 of them. Uh huh. Sure. That's believable. Should've just gone with the too busy to call you back excuse. Works every time. Anywayyyy, so at this point Tiffany says that she's spoken with Amy and Amy wants to send a guy out to inspect the extra damage and approve the new estimate before they start any body work.

Fine. No problemo. It sucks that it had been a week thus far, but I can roll with it.

Sooo, Tuesday rolls around and Tiffany (I love Tiffany) calls me again saying that the guy (neither of us knows who this dude is or what his job title is) has yet to come out and my car is just sitting there waiting for my insurance to wave their little magic wand and approve the damn work. At this point, I can no longer be nice (to the insurance). I thank Tiffany and tell her I'm calling Amy to see if I can't get things rolling. I leave Amy a polite yet firm message and didn't hear back at all on Tuesday.

Thursday morning. Magical Thursday morning, I get a call from a guy called Jimmy (the mystery insurance guy) saying he'd approved the estimate and is sending the body shop a check. Thank you jebus finally! FINALLY! I guess I just needed to make that call, but DUDE, I shouldn't have to. My insurance should do its job. They're getting my money. They're paying for my rental. You'd think they'd want to save some money there, right? Lame.

And while I am glad this is finally working out, the fact remains that my car has been sitting, lonely and alone and cold, in the body shop. Just sitting there for 2 damn weeks. Just waiting for the work to get started. I took it in 2 weeks ago and the work just began yesterday! For serious. And of course I don't blame the body shop. They've been nothing but professional and kind. I went through them because I took my car there last year when she was totaled (I'm sure I told you that story) and they were very nice. They were also very comforting and understanding when I needed to grieve the loss of Darla, my very best and most reliable car. Not only did they not laugh, but one gave me a hug while another got me a coffee. They are very nice people. I might be a tad over dramatic and loony tunes, but they are very nice over there. If you live near me and ever need a good body shop, I can recommend a good one.

Needless to say, I am ready to get my car back. Obviously nothing will happen this weekend, but I'm really hoping for early next week.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Photo of the Day: New Meaning of Boat Car

I took this shot whilst driving the other day and said out loud, REALLY? What you probably can't see are all the sparkles, the kind you see on boat paint jobs. I have to wonder what makes a person paint their car like a boat. Do you just not have a boat and really want one? Or do all the vehicles in your life get that paint job?


I read a blog today about a married woman confessing that she is jealous of her single friends, and while I am able to have some empathy for this woman, my first reaction was oh poor baby (sarcasm font). I mean, give me a break. If you got married young and didn't do the single thing in your twenties, I get that jealousy. And if you are your only married friend and you watch all your single pals having a "blast," I get that too. But, mostly, I'm like, what the hell are you jealous of?

The blind dates? The douchey guys in bars, in coffee shops, everywhere? The pitying stares from your married friends? Breakup after breakup? Being single can suck monkey ass. Now, I am a big advocate for being happy as you are, for finding yourself by yourself and loving the value of your own company. I am the first person to climb up on a soapbox and preach that. And maybe it's because I'm not very happy right now or because my self esteem is having trouble rebounding from my recent douchey rejection, but the whole idea of being jealous of the single life pissed me off. Really pissed me off. That whole, the grass is always greener shit just doesn't fly with me.

Now, if this woman was truly unhappy in her marriage, that is a whole other issue. And I am certainly not endorsing married or coupled life as the ultimate in lifestyle goals. Certainly not. I would never endorse one lifestyle over another. To each her own. Yadda yadda yadda. What I am saying is that being single may have its upsides (for sure), but it can also bite.

Being single (meaning jumping in and out of dates and short-term relationships) was a blast in my early twenties when all of my other friends were single. Not only would we all gang up for the girls nights or shopping days or spa days, but because we were all in the same boat, we could commiserate and share war stories and giggle together over our slutty moments. Some of us had more than others. I'm not naming names. *ahem* But when all your friends become paired off, singlehood loses its novelty.

When you are your only single friend, that third wheel status gets old incredibly fast, even when your friends' significant others are super duper people that go out of their ways to include you. And no offense to the super dupers, but they can't understand how it feels to always watch others in their cute, happy moments with no one to commiserate with. And even when you have awesome gal pals who leave their lovers for some girl time, talk always revolves back to the great guy or watching the phone for the call or text from the great guy or watching the door for the great guy.

Disclaimer: I want to apologize to my friends right now. This isn't about you necessarily and this doesn't mean I don't love you to my toes. But it can be hard to be around my coupled friends when I don't have any single friends. Seeing your incandescence only illuminates that deficiency in my life. Please understand that.

And there is a level of needs here. I have spent a good ten or so adult years getting to know myself by myself and crafting a world which I like very much. But I am over the go out and party thing, the hang out all day at a coffee shop thing. And that is great for a lot of people. Good for you for having fun and living your life how you want. But I did that. I'm over it. I got it out of my system and I'm done. Check. Now I just want to nest and paint and buy furniture and garden and travel on a better budget than hosteling. And even if I'm not in a couple, those are the things I need to do now. And what does that have to do with being in a relationship? I'll get to that.

Some of the comments on this woman's blog pissed me off even more. One woman said something like, well, most of my friends who are single are single for a reason. Don't be jealous of them. When we were marrying all the good guys, they all had issues. They just don't put themselves out there. Well, excuse me lady, but for one, all people have issues. Two, life just doesn't work out like that for all of us. Some of us didn't learn how to pick the good guys or we just had bad luck. And three, fuck you! Some people choose this life. And singlehood may suck sometimes, but we don't have leprosy. Would you like to ship us all off to an island where we can't bother you with our subversive behavior? And just how exactly would you like me to put myself "out there"? Shall I meet guys in bars? Have you seen those guys? Trust me, not the place to meet men. How about hanging around the Home Depot? I hear that is just the place to bag me a man. Or shall I just quit my busy job entirely and post myself on a street corner with a big sign that says, SINGLE AND DESPERATE AS ALL HELL. PLEASE MARRY ME OR JUST CALL ME. WHATEVER. I'LL TAKE ANY ATTENTION YOU'LL GIVE ME BECAUSE BEING SINGLE IS A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH!

Well, fuck that. I'd rather garden and get some good reading in, maybe do a little solo traveling. Because at least I'm making myself happy, even if I get a little lonely sometimes or my self esteem dips after I've been dumped or I have a hard time feeling happy for my friends' happiness. I'm sorry if I don't have perfect emotions all the time. I realize that perky, funny Andy is the norm, so when pissy, caustic Andy comes in, she's hard to take. But you know, both of those women are me. And I've been swimming with the latter for a few weeks now. And I am okay with that, because I'm not ready to let her go yet.

So what am I saying? I don't want to be pitied or fixed up. I also don't always want to be the third wheel (still doesn't mean I want to be fixed up). When I have gal time, I want it to be gal time, because however well meaning you are, I don't need constant reminders of that deficiency in my life. And having all these coupled friends would be a hell of a lot easier with at least one perpetually single friend. At least one person who actually hears me. Ultimately, it would just be nice to have friends in both categories.

I'd love to put out a wanted ad.

Wanted: terminally single friend (can be male, female, gay, bi, trans, whatever) to buy shoes with, take baths, and commiserate. Must not pick up guys, girls or queens during our time together. Must not be in any danger of forming a long-term relationship or getting engaged. Baths optional.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ode to Jane Austen


Fuck you, my dear. Fuck you. Don't get me wrong, Ms. Austen (may you rest in peace), I love you like the sun which caresses the pages of your books while your words enchant me with impossibilities and felicities unrealistic. And while I love you so, I hate you. I despise you to the depths of my soul. This is quite unfair, you protest, or I imagine you do. But, on the contrary, I assure you it is not. My assessment of detestation is quite fair.

My dear Jane, you see, while I am sure a Victorian heart such as yours could not help but write captivating prose such as would ensnare any woman's being so that she becomes enraptured with romantic fantasy, therein lies your folly. For while I don't doubt that the chivalrous nature of your heroes is doubtful inspired of thin air and therefore must have some shreds of truth according to your time and station, at the core of the matter of male characterization and romantic plot, it is all utter bullshit. And this why I hate you, dearest, for screwing women over for nearly two centuries.

Your words are delicious and your prose decadent and at each denouement unearths a man unrealistic and unattainable. I do want to believe that you have known such a man, such a man who will toss propriety to the wind and stake all futures on a moment of inordinate and delirious romance. I want to believe. Yet I have to admit that this man does not exist, in your century nor mine. Never did a man ride to his beloved at dawn with no promise of affection to declare his unabated love and desire. Never has a man borne a sentiment as strong as a bewitching body and soul. Never have I heard such. And never has any woman.

Yet you persist with this storytelling that so enraptures our kind, so enraptures so we all unabashedly desire such men. How dare you coerce us to such disappointment. And that is where I call bullshit. I adore you, Ms. Jane Austen. I would love to wrap my soul in your pages and shape a future built of Darcys and Knightlys. Gladly, in a moment would I enthrall myself with such fantastical and romantic diversion.

Yet such fantasy only ends in disappointment, as I hope you would understand, my dear. I would much rather see men as they are and choose to appreciate them or leave them be. But this expectation of the impossible is simply unacceptable. And I pity the men in your wake as well. For what man of flesh and blood can live up to the ciphers you craft out of words?

So for this, darling, I say fuck you. May you rot in hell and angry women plague you for all time.

With all my love,

your friend

Sunday, November 1, 2009

frights and delights

I know you have been waiting to hear what my costume for Halloween was. I know. And I'll tell you, but I must admit, I have substantially less enthusiasm for this costume now. After the fact. And I'll explain why in a moment. But I shall keep you in suspense no longer. For Halloween, I dressed as myself at 19.
I am the one on the right with the tube top and tiara. I don't have a pic of the whole costume, so you can't see my platform shoes. But more on the tube top in a sec. The beauty to my left is Mo, who dressed as punked-out Rainbow Brite and I must say that she looked smokin'.

So, my costume. Dressing as myself at 19 may not have been my best idea. Not because I didn't look pretty cute, which I am hoping I did. And not because it wasn't a unique idea, which I maintain that it was. But because I didn't anticipate how it would make me feel. And that was like a 29 year old who is just trying to be 19 and it just didn't work.

I was terribly uncomfortable in that damn tube top all night. Partly because I just don't have that young confidence required to wear a tube top, the kind of confidence I had at 19. And partly because at 19, I was a good 20 pounds smaller, simply because I was young. I am usually comfortable in my body and I feel thin most days, but trying to be 19-year-old me comfortable in 29-year-old me's body just didn't feel right. Does that make sense? It's hard to explain. And it's okay that I'm not that small now. I have hips, I have an ass, I don't have boobs. But, whatever the reason, I felt like I had no business being in a tube top. I'll still sacrifice my dignity for bloggy purposes though. Here is the tube top in all its glory:
And here I am when I actually was 19 or maybe even 18 (I'm the one on the right):
The other unanticipated feeling was that it would seem that I needed to feel cute last night. I didn't realize that I needed to be noticed or checked out until I got out, amongst the costumed people and felt pretty much invisible. And I guess, if I am going to analyze myself, that after the rejection of this past month-ish, I just really needed to feel attractive. Now, to be fair to me, a girl in jeans just cannot compete with all the scantily clad girls out there, girls barely 21, just wearing lingerie with different kinds of ears. We even saw full-on ass cheeks. But that's just not me. And never will be. I will never be able to do the slut for Halloween thing because I wouldn't want to.

And compare that with Halloween 1999. I went to a frat party with girlfriends and we were hot tickets. I had to pry the boys off. Which is how it should be, you know? But I am not 19. I'm just not. Side note: Halloween 1999, I took a photo with a guy dressed as a Mormon missionary (because I was the only person there that recognized his costume) and I wish to hell I had a digital scan of that pic to show you but I don't. But, I do have a repeat of repeat of that incident from last night. It was like the time warp:
But there it is: me, already feeling uncomfortable and feeling unattractive to boot. And that just made me feel bad for myself and soon I was making lonely cat lady jokes and acting out an echo down there. Pretty ridiculous, I realize, but that's how I deal when I feel uncomfortable. I make fun of myself. So, last night was a bit of a train wreck, even though my friend's boyfriend, in an act of kindness, pointed out that two barneys checked me out at the end of the night. That was sweet of him. I think that next year, I may have a party. Something low key, amongst people I love, so that we all feel safe and loved and get a kick out of each other's costumes. I like that we're all too old and too dignified for the slut thing.

This blog got long, but I really want to post my Halloween photo awards!

So here we go:

The "scary" award goes to this guy. His costume wasn't scary, but he was. He even took off that pirate belt and used it as a whip.

This guy wins the "classic" award. Fear and Loathing with Hunter S Thompson is always a good choice.

And these girls win the "typical" award, proving that all you need for Halloween are tight dresses (or lingerie) and some kind of ears of horns. Don't forget the sorority girl sit.

This guy wins the "dedication" award. Anyone willing to dress up like a full-on Tin Man without any of the other WOZ characters, is okay by me.

The "super cute" award goes to this gal. She was adorable and was super sweet too.

This girl gets the "rockin" award, simply for completely owning Mr. Roboto and working the room like a pro.

And lastly, these guys get the "enthusiasm" award for bravely dressing as Hooter's waitresses and loved it when I called them sluts. They even started singing a slut chant. Awesome.
Happy Halloween
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