December 17, 2009
Me: Can you help me locate your study guides for the GRE?
Her: Sure, they're over here.
Me: Maybe my search failed because I can't remember what the 'R' stands for.
Her: Probably writing.
December 16, 2009
1. In California I've lived in towns that can only be called suburbs of Los Angeles by a supreme stretch of the imagination. The geography snobs in Los Angeles assume I live in the middle of a mostly uninhabited desert, wrinkle their noses in confusion while asking if Pomona's in San Bernardino, and judge me silently.
2. I eat red meat.
3. I would choose good barbecue over In'N'Out any day of the week.
4. I don't own skinny jeans, I've never had an ironic haircut, and I get Silverlake confused with Los Feliz.
5. I know how to two-step.
6. I don't know--nor have I ever worked with--any celebrities. And if I did, I wouldn't name drop. Okay, well, there is one story I like to tell about Keanu Reeves, but it's mostly a joke at his expense. Trust me, Texas, it would make you laugh. If you resist the urge to snub me because I'm from California, maybe I'll tell it to you sometime.
7. I'm learning how to talk about freeways without using definite articles. I'm doing this for you, Texas!
8. I drink bourbon. I know y'all don't make bourbon, but I bet you would rather drink bourbon than whatever it is you assume women from Los Angeles drink (Zima? Appletinis?).
9. I think "y'all" is a valuable pronoun. It trumps other second-person plural pronouns employed by the non-southern parts of this country, e.g. "you guys" or (worse) saying, "you" while jerking your head or looking around at the faces in front of you to indicate inclusion.
10. My great-grandfather grew up in Texas, where he broke wild horses for a living. I inherited his charmingly foul mouth and appreciation for bad-assery.
I think we'll get along just fine. And if you're going to be stubborn about it, I'll just pretend I'm from Phoenix, Az.
December 7, 2009
I've been in Mt. Baldy with Willa a lot as part of my Saying Goodbye to Los Angeles project, and last week she saw her first deer. My long-legged girl pranced over a stream and play-bowed at a perplexed doe and fawn, who high-tailed it up the mountain when Willa tried to leap her way towards them.
I opted to stand statue-still and watch them rather than take photos, because I don't want life to become a series of photographs I edit to tell a Facebook narrative. So here's a shot of Willa looking forlorn next to a leafless tree. It's finally autumn in these parts. Goodbye, hiking in the mountains.
I ran a race with my mom. My mom is one of those people who runs when she's not being chased. I thought I was learning how to be one of those people, which you may already know because I've been chirping about it to no end. (Running is great! It keeps me from smoking cigarettes!) Well, running a race with 1,000+ other people just makes you feel like a herd of something. I run slow. Were we actually being chased, the predators would have singled me out somewhere around mile two. But whatever, it made the mom happy and I got a free t-shirt. Training for the race was kind of fun: The track at Pomona College is adjacent to the undeveloped part of campus, and it smells like California sage. Every drive home since the beginning of driving has smelled like that along the way.
So: Mountains? Check. Athletic Bonding with Mom? Sort-of Check.
December 4, 2009
They played it at the show at Border's, when we ordered cokes from the cafe and doctored them from hidden flasks. They played it in my living room, in the last of the great party houses of my twenties. They played it at the Knitting Factory and the Hi-Brow. Jerry played pieces of it sitting across a couch from me only weeks after we met, when he was still working out the lyrics. I've shared many 3:00 a.m. parking lot moments exchanging directions to the after-party with these five people, and they are the bee's knees, let me tell you--but it's time to do something else now.
So goodbye, post-bar drinks at Tracy's. Goodbye dancing in offstage shadows, rusty nails, the unhappy-marriage bicker-banter between songs. Play a show next time I'm in town, won't you?
October 7, 2009
Because of a horrendous and completely unenthralling series of events, I had to spend way too much money licensing my dog. Then I had to go to court to prove that I licensed my dog, which took six hours.
Why did it take six hours, you ask? Pomona has been issuing so many tickets that the line to get through the metal detector was wrapped around the building. It was like waiting in line at Disneyland, only at the end there's no Captain Eo, no small world after all, not even a monorail. So you know, it was awesome.
Since I left in a frantic whirlwind (the unemployed don't get anywhere at 8:30 am without an epic struggle) my laptop was still open and plugged in when I left. When I came back, a long seam had erupted in my ceiling and dumped the rain from our first and only rainstorm this fall right onto my open laptop.
Rice helped not at all.
September 30, 2009
Picking berries is pretty much the most wholesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon, btw. People brought their kids. It was like living in a Norman Rockwell painting. Also? When it's like a gazillion degrees outside and your other option is melting into the couch with ice packs at various pulse points, it's time to haul yourself to mountain climes where the air is cool enough to breathe.
The Claremont United Methodist Church let us use their kitchen, which was huge and featured this massive stove that looked like the dinosaur version of the stove in your kitchen. The Methodist kitchen was approximately the size of my bedroom. Thanks, Methodists!
This picture was taken through a little window above the sink, which--when I'm on the kitchen-side lecturing about the pros and cons of sterilizing jars this way or that way--makes me feel like a tv chef. Kick it up a notch, indeed.
Bonus: Food Not Lawners make an enthusiastic and gracious studio audience:
September 28, 2009
We have a lot to talk about. For instance: All of the Free (or Relatively Inexpensive) Diversions I've been enjoying. And: The 21 Ways to Say Goodbye to Los Angeles, which is pretty much what it sounds like.
More on those later, I have some important information for you--guess, dear reader you will never guess because it is so astonishingly wonderful your chin may wobble and your eyes may tear up, but just try and guess what rice can do (besides feed hungry people)! Rice, my friends, can save a phone that's been dropped in water. Drop the drowned phone in some rice and let it recuperate. The rice will pull the moisture out and leave you with a fully-functional phone. But don't eat the rice afterward because it will probably give you cancer.
September 11, 2009
"A plane just flew into the World Trade Center," he said, one of infinite echoes of that same sentence being uttered to the sleepy unknowing by those who woke up first. We were both reluctant to become fully awake. Our levels of alertness were maybe congruent to the demise and fall of the first tower, at which point I realized that years of disaster movies had stolen some of the horror from that moment. I took a radio to work and held it the whole time I listened to it, using my free hand to google some of the words of the day: Terror. Osama. Pentagon. al Qaeda. I tried to donate blood on my lunch hour, but blood from Los Angeles wasn't anyone's priority, and an orderly waved me through the automatic doors with comforting words that suggested she'd spent most of the day ushering the lost and dazed back out onto the sidewalk.
I went home. It became night again. We made deeply insensitive and untimely jokes to see who could get the biggest and most offensive laugh. This felt better. Terrible jokes, it turned out, were the Very Best Thing, in a way that I'm not sure I can articulate but will defend because laughing that day momentarily contained the horror, pushed it out at arm's length.
September 2, 2009
The fire seems to have its own weather system. We endure inexplicible humidity, we endure the smoke lingering langorously in our streets, we endure the fine film forming on our skins from the moist smoke. Our eyes tear, our animals become suspicious, our mountains disappear from view. The sunrise looks like sunset through the haze and glows a lurid red until late morning, making us wonder if up will soon be down, or if concepts like "up" and "down" are immune. Nothing appears to be immune.
The fire controls our lives. Any question can be answered by a raised arm, index finger held out to indicate the shortest distance between you and the flames. It's as if our view into the past and future are also invaded by an omnipresent smoke that keeps us from seeing the blackened hills of our autumn, the echoing bleakness of our own particular winter. There is only now, this smoke, these flames, the strange survival of us: In the foothills, breathing through barriers, keeping our eyes closed, melting into furniture.
August 24, 2009
Well, so one time my friend went to Burning Man and she saw a drunk guy peeing on the door handles of random cars.
August 19, 2009
Side note: A country where people do not have access to quality education is a country where people are susceptible to the kind of anti-factual fear-mongering we are seeing right now.
I'm just saying.
August 11, 2009
Cool stuff that's happening now:
Blackberry season! Wild blackberries are the tastiest because you can pick them when they're ripe. The ones you buy in the store are picked early when the fruit is still firm enough to hold up while being transported from god knows where, and that's, I think, why they're often sour. Plus they're expensive.
You know what's not expensive? Pork, apparently. Freakonomics said that the Economist said that pork prices are down 24% this year. You should make pulled pork.
If you've been able to stick to the Infinite Summer schedule, you are officially halfway through the book this week. Congratulations to you! I'm pretty far behind, but why don't we keep that our little secret, shall we? Keeping to the schedule feels somewhat...irrelevant for me, since I've already read the entire thing and can slog through IS forums without worrying about spoilers. What's that you say? IJ is gathering dust on your nightstand ever since you begrudgingly read the entire Poor Tony section without the faintest clue what the hell was going on? I feel you. And I'm not the only one.
In DFW's defense, I think the reason we get irritated is because we feel like he can do better. You get through the first, like 100 pages or so, and you think, yes, this guy is a storyteller like no one's ever been a storyteller before. He's Mr. Rosewater. This is going to be the most poignant, funny, human story of my lifetime! He's a genius, a capital G Genius, I tell you! So you forgive him the footnotes. You forgive him the obfuscation, the intellectual gymnastics, the fucking prescriptive vocabulary. And when there's no payoff you feel like you've been duped by the smuggest depressive in town.
Buck up little reader. There's been ongoing conjecture about the possibility of a film adaptation in the IS forums (Michael Cera as Hal? Directed by Wes Anderson? This is the nerd version of a fantasy football team). Over at Howling Fantods there is a DFW-inspired motivational poster contest of some sort. The entries are hilarious. There's more to Infinite Jest than scrambling to find enough bookmarks (side note: I'm using loteria cards. El Diablito keeps my spot in the narrative, El Borracho's got footnotes).
August 3, 2009
Then I fell into a Youtube hole. Did you know about these videos of teletubbies dancing to hip hop and techno?
July 23, 2009
Someone Else: So what have you done with all of your free time since you lost your job?
You: I restored my faith in humanity by growing awesome tomatoes that nobody stole when they walked past.
Someone Else: Wow, working life has washed away all of the faith I had in humanity. Well, working life and NYC Prep.
You: Jubilee heirloom tomatoes are crazy delicious, and they're yellow!
Or maybe you don't care about gardens because your inability to keep plants alive is notorious, and when people bring you what they claim to be unkillable plants you always kill them and this makes you feel bad about yourself. In which case you should go read this article about the positive effects of the recession from Cracked.com.
July 22, 2009
Free Diversion #1: Find and Photograph all the Virgin Mary Murals in Your Town.
This really only works if you live in or near a city with a huge Latino population. If you don't, I pity you. You probably don't even have a man who pushes a cart around your neighborhood selling corn with chile and mayonnaise.
The late afternoon sun spotlights the Virgin like she's a relic in an Indiana Jones movie. She's painted on the side of a Mexican market with some angry livestock featured in another mural to her immediate left (outside the frame), which I think is there to let you know that the meat you buy from this market won't take any of your shit, so don't even try it.
Nuestra Madre protecting some midcentury automobiles on Main Street, just off from the Arts Colony downtown.
I took this picture after I figured out that my hand fits through the chainlink fence, even if it's holding a camera.
I also found her protecting some actual automobiles at a used car lot on Holt Ave.
Anyone want to make a coffee-table book?
July 19, 2009
Also, this happened: Now, normally I react to Joyce the way a child reacts to medicine or vegetables. Or homework. Or medicinal homework. I stomped my feet and swore I would never open it again if I wasn't being graded on it, even though I begrudgingly acknowledge its greatness. The other day I found myself referring to Ulysses to better understand a section of IJ, which lead to pulling out Joyce Annotated, and eventually Hamlet and a Shakespeare reference book as well. Then my eyeballs almost fell out and I had to close the book(s) and do something else. I even left the house!
July 6, 2009
The Clenette section (IJ, p37-39) struck a nerve with some readers, and I was all like, really?
Then I had to go sifting through Hamlet. Because:
James Incandenza’s film production company is named for the fool in Hamlet (i.e. Yorick, as in, “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, he was a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.” (Hamlet, V.i.184-5). The fool is an entertainer at court, but also acts as an important truth-telling device in Shakespearean drama. The fool is typically more trustworthy and insightful than a play’s major characters, who are bound by their limited perspectives. In order to play the fool in IJ, James Incandenza has to be able to accurately and objectively analyze himself, which is impossible, because how can a person objectively analyze himself using only himself? Subjectivity is inescapable, J. Incandenza can’t let go of this, and he dissolves into delusional alcoholism trying to get beyond himself so that he can understand himself. And then tell the truth.
June 26, 2009
I looked up “apocope” (loss or omission of the last letter, syllable or part of a word); “bolection” (a raised molding, esp. one having flat edges and a raised center, for framing a panel, doorway, fireplace, etc.); the Latin phrase, “Quo Vadis” (trans: where are you going? Which apparently Peter asked Jesus, who was on his way to get him some more of that crucifyin’) (also, a novel about Nero by Henryk Sienkiewicz).
And someone posted in the forums about Hal’s “I am in here.” statement, which got my brain shooting in several directions, some of them existential, some of them funny, some of them Hamlet-related, some of them Hamlet-related and existential, some of them about the running theme of failed communication, as in a declaration and physical manifestation of utter solipsism. My sentences seem to be getting run-onnier as I recalibrate to DFW’s narrative which sort of webs out and then turns in on itself but not before hurling you into a near violent to and fro from text to footnote. Yeah, this book is pretty cool.
June 19, 2009
But I still waiver between thinking this book is a work of unparalleled genius (well paralleled by like, Ulysses) and a monumental waste of time strung together with cleverness. Upon finishing Infinite Jest, I was known to grumblingly complain that someone should write David Foster Wallace a mean letter demanding recompense for time spent flipping back and forth from footnotes to text. What kind of (non-science) genius needs that many footnotes to prove a point?
The smarty folks over at The Morning News have organized Infinite Summer, a web-wide community reading of Infinite Jest scheduled to begin on June 21st (yes, this Sunday (we're reading slowly, so you'll have time to catch up if you start later)). I’ve signed on to see if another reading, with guidance from the passel of qualified book nerds assembled to read it with me, will help me draw new and definitive conclusions.
So, um, read it with me. No one should have to do this alone.
June 18, 2009
Sometimes funny and unexpected things happen when you get laid off:
1. The application for unemployment insurance benefits in California asks for your ethnicity. The options in the drop-down menu are “Hispanic or Latino” and “Not Hispanic or Latino.” Apparently, there really are only two kinds of people in this world. Or at least, in California.
2. Several college friends offered me internships. This was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but seriously? I have friends who have interns? We’re getting old, guys.