Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Obsession is the single most wasteful human activity, because with an obsession you keep coming back and back and back to the same question and never get an answer." OR "Without obsession, life is nothing."*

   Okay so I haven’t been writing on this here blog so much lately. And yes, a lot of that is school-related. But there’s another critical factor that I haven’t mentioned, due to addiction and its related shame: I’m obsessed with Sudoku.
   It started about a year ago when I began finding it too physically taxing to print out crosswords from the New York Times and found I could play Sudoku online. It escalated once I realized that there was a free Sudoku app. It reached critical mass when I found myself playing Sudoku during boring lectures, while watching TV, and while using the bathroom (even just to go pee). I’ve probably played 300 games of Sudoku on my phone this week while “watching” Chopped and Family Ties reruns on Netflix. It’s taken over my life, like so many other things have in the past. I guess I’m an official addictive personality. But such a sad, lame one.
   When we were kids, we weren’t allowed video games at home. But I would spend the night at Em’s every week or so, and while she and James played Nintendo, I played on their sweet-ass, vintage Pinball machine. Video games have always scared me because I hate being chased. Every time I picked up a controller, I started to panic and sweat, thinking a mushroom or a turtle would attack me or I’d fall in a hole. So I didn’t really try, and let myself go down in the first moments, because the stress was too much to handle. I think that’s how I’d behave in real life if I were being chased by a bear or a mugger: I’d run really hard until the panic started to get overwhelming, and then I’d lie down in the fetal position and cry. (This might not be a horrible strategy for the bear scenario.) Solitary games that had little to do with dexterity have always worked best for me: Pinball, Solitaire, Oregon Trail, and crossword puzzles. And now, Sudoku. 
   It’s a disease, though, really, because I devote so much time to it. Nights when I should be writing or drawing, instead I’m trying to beat my Expert Level score while countless episodes of Family Ties play in the background. It’s mind numbing. Initially I thought: hey, I’ll never get dementia! I’m playing a brain game! But now I think that once again I’m just really bored
All the things I might be doing if not for Sudoku.
   It gets worse: sometimes I see that I’ve gotten three answers wrong. If you get four answers wrong, you’ve essentially “lost the game” and you’ve ruined your track record. So when I continue playing after already getting 3 x’s, I feel like I’m really living life on the edge. Just writing that sentence is so profoundly sad.
   Tell me about your addictions so I feel better about myselves. (Freudian? I meant to write “myself” but wrote “myselves.” Hmmm…)

*Okay, so I have two quotes up there. The first is Norman Mailer. The second is John Waters. I will always lean toward John Waters, WHATEVER THE ISSUE, but Mailer has a slight point as well. Eh?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

"Eat that turkey all night long, 50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong. Turkey lurkey doo and turkey lurkey dap, I eat that turkey then I take a nap."*

   Happy Thanksgiving!

   Oh wow. It’s been so long since I’ve blogged.

   I’m sorry.

   I wanted to write tonight because it’s my favorite holiday! But also because I’d like to ease back in to the blogosphere without drawing too much attention to the fact that I’ve been totally AWOL for a month. Only my loyal reader will know this (thanks, Mom), but I still feel like an apology’s an order. I’m sorry.

   I turns out graduate school is hard, which is funny, because I always thought graduate school was for people who didn’t feel quite ready for the real world. But, oddly, graduate school is much harder than the real world in many ways. One of the ways it’s harder is that you have to work in groups a lot (at least, with advertising projects you do) and I’ve never been great at playing well with others. So that’s hard. Also, you’re only in school for about 6-8 hours a week, but when you’re not in school you’re working on school for about 35-60 hours a week. So that’s a little bit hard, too.

   I’m in no position to tell you one particular story today but I will tell you what I’m thankful for and a few things that have been on my mind over the last month, and hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll be a better blogger (if not a better friend, student, or person).

1.  I think Stephen King based Misery on Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? I’ve been thinking about this since Halloween, when Momma and I watched it. I don’t think I have to spell this out for you but consider this: a once-famous person is now wheelchair bound and at the mercy of a crazed psychopath who tortures her but also really wants her love and approval. Also, she is fed weird things and often starved. Hmmm…

2.  Along those same lines, I recently picked up a copy of Jackie Collins’ Hollywood Wives at the local Goodwill. I didn’t know it was erotica, and I’m not entirely sure Jackie thinks of her “novels” that way, but good lord there was a lot of sex in that book. But I read it all, of course. But while I was reading it I started thinking that Claire’s mother in Troop Beverly Hills was supposed to be Jackie Collins. Remember that part when they’re sitting in her fancy sports car and her mom says into her tape recorder, “He saw her underthings and then…” she turns to Claire and says, “Then what?” And Claire says “Felt his manhood rising to a frenzy?” And then the mom says, “And felt his manhood rising to a pulsating frenzy.” And then she’s super proud of her daughter? I think she’s supposed to be based on Jackie Collins! Wow, that was a long story for no reason.

3.  I think the word “cute” is really condescending unless you happen to be a small child or a rabbit or other tiny animal. When I show someone a piece of art or something I wrote and they call it “cute” I feel like they’re telling me “That is so wonderful for someone under the age of 7. Good job, Lace!” It’s basically a slap in the face. On the other hand, it’s totally okay when used to describe an outfit. Hmmm…weird.

   Okay, well there’s lots more on my mind, but this seems like a good place to leave things off. I just took some of this:

   So hopefully my night will be turning back in my favor in the next couple of hours. I hope you all had a great November and a wonderful Thanksgiving and I will be back on board with this blog over the next couple of weeks.
   I'm thankful for Central Heating, turkey, gloves, heartburn meds, and friends and family. And a country that builds a whole day around eating and being thankful. And wine. 

*Adam Sandler's "The Thanksgiving Song."

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Don't go to Corpus, go the other way!" "Where are we gonna go, Alaska?" "Anywhere but Corpus!"*

   This is Part Two of my trip to Corpus Christi with my friends Brandon, Katie, and Alex. Read Part One here.  
   We booked our hotel rooms in Corpus Christi a couple of weeks out. I think we all felt like we’d gotten a pretty decent deal. When we had finally passed the miles and miles of oil refineries and entered what seemed to be a booming metropolitan area, we breathed a collective sigh of relief. And as we crossed the bridge from Downtown Corpus Christi to an area known (we would learn later when we spent and hour trying to order a pizza) as Portland, we thought it looked pretty spectacular.

   There was a large battle ship, the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier built during World War II that we could see from the bridge. Brandon and I are both WWII nerds, so we geeked out over the possibilities for later that day or the next. We saw sunlight sparkling off the Gulf of Mexico, sand and people, and loads of buildings on what looked to be a pedestrian pier. We felt pretty excellent about being in Corpus Christi. Pretty fucking proud of ourselves.

   And then we got to the hotel.
Here is a drawing of our hotel.

   The Days Inn Hotel in Corpus Christi is owned by a middle-aged Indian couple who seem both incredibly kind and incredibly confused at all times. Not to swing racist here, but in a not-so-good way, the lobby of the hotel smelled like Indian food. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Indian food. Just maybe not outside of a home or restaurant. I think in a lobby you maybe want to smell flowers or at least PineSol. Not a distant memory of Palak Paneer.

   I asked if I could fill up my water bottle, but the lady owner said they didn’t have “drinking water.” And there didn’t appear to be a vending machine. So, fine, I would subsist on cocktails until we left the old CC. No big deal.

   Alex and I were bunking together but our room wasn’t ready, so we changed in Brandon and Katie’s room, which smelled of unchanged air conditioning filters, and headed to the beach.

   After a mere two blocks past unoccupied apartment complexes and deserted parking lots, we came upon what Corpus Christians (that can’t be right, can it? Corpus Christiados?) call a beach. Alex and Brandon ran for the waves. Katie and I stood on the sand for a minute.

   “This can’t be all of it, right?” I gestured to the approximately 15-foot strip of shell- and rock-covered beach. “Is this the tiniest beach in the world?”

   “Maybe it’s just high tide? Really, really high tide?” Katie was trying to be positive. It was Brandon’s first time to the ocean and she was bound and determined to make the most of the experience, if only for his sake.

   I tried to take on her attitude and agreed that yes, perhaps, it was the highest of high tides and the beach was secretly 60 feet wider during its off hours.

   But we swam for a few hours in the bathtub warm, gray and green, high-waved water. It was my first time in the Gulf waters and it was just as pleasant as the Southern Atlantic: but slightly more fun due to the pleasant waves.

   I was initially nervous, having heard that the Gulf Coast is a hangout for jellyfish, but we saw nothing but oilrigs in the sea, and I have a feeling nothing much is able to survive in the water around Corpus Christi. The four other humans we saw on the beach may have known more about it.

   On our walk back to the hotel after a couple of hours of swimming we found a syringe on the sidewalk near the parking lot. It seemed pretty funny, since my buddy Mike had joked about me collecting pretty syringes from the beach for him when I told him about the trip. We stepped around it, changed, and headed for the nearest restaurant.

   After about a mile in the scorching heat, we found the “nearest restaurant.” It was maybe also the only restaurant. It was called “Fajitaville” and it was sort of like how you might feel if you’d walked for 20 miles and found a Chuck E. Cheese: it would do, but only if you had no other options or there were a gun to your head. We were hungry from heat and swimming and walking, so we ate dinner around 3 pm. And we drank cocktails. And we figured we could probably do better, so we walked further on down the boardwalk.

   Along the boardwalk near a Radisson a middle-aged man in a revealing red Speedo walked up to us confidently. He had a paunch and an inordinate amount of body confidence and faced us squarely from the sidewalk in all his sub-par body glory.

   “I’ll race any one of you for a thousand dollars!” He grinned and put his hands on his hips, sort of managing to thrust his gut and junk at us in one gesture.
   I was tempted for a second. I could really use a thousand dollars, if you want to know. But I stayed strong.

“Thanks, I’m pretty sure we’d lose,” I said. And we kept walking.

I figured: this is America, and anyone can stay at the Radisson if they can afford it. But I'd rather not win $1000 and not get stabbed in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. In Corpus Christi. What an unromantic way to die.

   When we reached the U.S.S. Lexington, we thought maybe we were probably pretty close to the exciting part of town. We took a couple photos of the ship and the naval planes and planned to take a tour the next day, since it was already closed. Then we walked 10 feet past the aircraft carrier and found the only other restaurant in Portland: Pier 99. Oh sigh out loud. Okay, so it wasn’t the only restaurant, but most of the other restaurants (all 4) were closed (at 5:30 on Friday) so it may as well have been the only restaurant. But it had a bathroom, so it wasn’t all that bad.

   The nice waitress gave me a Band-Aid for my walking-in-cute-but-impractical-shoes blister and brought us a round of margaritas. She told us some hip, happening spots in downtown Corpus Christi to check out: Pinky’s and Cassidy’s stand out in my mind. We thanked her and said we might check them out the next day. We listened to a strained local band play covers of Neil Young and Tom Petty. We grimaced as grackles got so freaking close to us you’d have thought they were someone’s trained pets. And the margaritas were pretty foul. And yet, I managed to drink mine. But she refunded the remaining three, which remained on the table nearly full.  My friends have more taste and self-control than I do. Especially when I’m nervously trying to out-drink an uncomfortable situation.

   So we decided to go back to the hotel and just drink there. We paid up and headed back to Days Inn.

   More to follow!
*The quote is from Selena (Gregory Nava, 1997). She was a beautiful angel from Corpus Christi (and her life story brought J. Lo to fame, so she's doubly awesome). Thank you, dear Mary Killian, for cluing me in to this perfect quote! 

Friday, October 11, 2013

"In the regular world, Halloween is when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it."*

   Okay, so I know Halloween weeks away, but I’ve been trying to brainstorm an amazing costume idea for two weeks already because a. I have a fun Halloween party to go to and I already know about it so I am obligated and at leisure to plan and 2. I want to have a great, non-slutty costume all ready to go so I don’t get caught with my pants down (literally or figuratively).
   I tend to lean towards movie characters or Golden Age movie stars—I was Holly Golightly last year (and ended up having the sluttiest costume at that particular party, ironically).  But I would like to shoot for the stars this year, since Halloween really does matter to me. But I’d also like to avoid buying a wig, since, having disposed of my handy wig collection many years ago, I don’t really feel like heading down that road again. Wigs are expensive, so you end up keeping them, storing them, thinking you’ll use them again. And the next thing you know you’re a senior in college with a box full of wigs and no place to put it so you bust it out at dinner parties after you graduate and your landlord drops by unannounced and thinks you’re some sort of “dominatrix” weirdo when all you were trying to do was put your hair pieces to some good use. For an example.
   So I’ve been doing some scrolling through the Interwebs and hoping for inspiration to strike me. I’ve considered 80’s icons (Cyndi Lauper, Prince [Prince, Prince, Prince!], Freddie Mercury, and Pat Benetar). I’ve thought about 80’s movie characters (Baby from Dirty Dancing, Mrs. White from Clue). I’ve even considered revisiting some of the classic horror films (Regan from The Exorcist, Rhoda from The Bad Seed, Jane Hudson from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, Melanie Daniels from The Birds). 
Scary Rhoda from The Bad Seed.

   It was when I started really thinking about scary movies that it occurred to me that you SHOULD be scary on Halloween. If at all possible, your costume should have some element of horror or science fiction or thriller about it. And the more horror films and SCI-FI classics I thought of, the more I realized that most of those evil women characters, or even the female victims in those movies are BLONDES.
   Maybe you’ve already thought of this yourself, but if you haven’t, consider this:
REGAN, The Exorcist (Blonde—and later greenish, but mostly blonde)
RHODA, The Bad Seed (Blonde. Very, very blonde.)
JANE HUDSON, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (Scary, haunt-your-nightmares blonde.)
NELL, The Haunting (Annoying, hope-she-dies-soon blonde)
LAMIA, Stardust (Gorgeous and also hideous blonde)
CLAUDIA, Interview With a Vampire (Still blonde)
THE CHILDREN, Children of the Corn (Holy god, they’re blonde)
HITCHCOCK, Separate category (yeah, I know, he was obsessed with blondes)
Joan Fontaine (Suspicion, Rebecca)
Grace Kelly (To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window)
Doris Day (The Man Who Knew Too Much)
Eva Marie Saint (North by Northwest)
Janet Leigh (Psycho)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds, Marnie)
Blonde. Melanie Daniels.

   What the what? Why are all these scary ladies (or leading ladies in scary movies) blondes? Admittedly, blondes have more fun, but I thought being a brunette was supposed to be especially awesome because we are the embodiment of evil (you know, dark forces and what-not…and aren’t witches usually brunettes?). Cinema is saying otherwise, however, and unless I want to go as a Disney version of a bad lady (Malificent, Ursula, Snow White’s Stepmom—most recently portrayed in the movies by Charlize Theron, a blonde—or one of the Wicked Stepsisters), I’m stuck buying a blonde wig.
   Which bums me out a little bit.
   I should quit complaining. I guess as long as I don't dress like a whore, I'm okay. Unless I decide to go as an actual whore, in which case I can (and should) dress as one. They're usually not as pretty as you'd think, though, from my own personal experience.
   But I'll probably just go buy a wig.
   And, if you want to know the truth, I do look pretty scary with blonde hair. 
*Mean Girls (Mark Waters, 2004).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Corpus Christi ranked fattest city in America by Men's Heath..."

   So last weekend I went to Corpus Christi, Texas, United States of America.

   My new friends Brandon and Katie thought it would be in our best interest to hit the Gulf Coast, seeing as we’re only 3 hours away, and get a feel for the warm waves and the sandy beaches. So we piled into the car with our buddy Alex and headed for Corpus Christi.

   There were many signs that it was a bad choice.
The essence of Corpus Christi, TX.

   I had gotten the impression beforehand from some of my friends who are Texas natives that maybe it isn’t so fun to go to Corpus Christi. I wasn’t sure why, but they all sounded remarkably confused when we mentioned our trip and I thought they were all just being haters.

   They said things like,

   “Corpus Christi? Why?”


   “Make sure you pick up lots of pretty needles from the beach for me!”
More of the essence of Corpus Christi, TX.


   “Oh hell no, I’m not going with you!”

   And yeah, these were real signs. Cuz, see, it turns out there was and is a reason Texans don’t go to Corpus Christi.

   It turns out that Corpus Christi, Texas, is the shit hole of the universe.

   There is much to tell, so for now I’ll leave you with these couple of images.

   Stay tuned for news of prostitutes, drug use, late-night pizza delivery, swimming challenges, and margaritas so bad they had to be returned (is it possible? Oh yes, yes it is!). And that was all within the course of 3 hours. 
   Corpus Christi.

*Just one of many interesting facts about Corpus Christi.

Monday, September 16, 2013

"Possum. Big freaky lookin' bitch. Since when did they change it to 'opossum'? When I was coming up it was just possum. Opossum makes it sound like he's Irish or something. Why they gotta go changing everything?"*

   So the other night I was sitting on my balcony overlooking my adorable, albeit dry, creek and minding my own business when—wait, back up. That’s not correct. I was inside at this point in the evening. There may have been wine involved, so bear with me. Rewind.
   Yes, so anyway, I was inside enjoying an episode of Monk (or twelve—I’m a spy, remember? So it’s okay), when there was a crash on the balcony (overlooking my adorable, albeit dry, creek blah blah blah. Alright, the creek isn’t mine. But the view is, so there you go.).
   My first thought was, “Godammit! That rascally opossum from the creek finally figured out how to swing from one of those tree branches onto the porch!” Now, despite the fact that the ‘possum would have to swing a good fifty feet from any tree to reach my porch is part of why it was so terrifying. It would have to be a high-climbing, industrious, and probably plagued ‘possum. And that has basically been my worst fear for the entire month I’ve lived in this apartment, so it would only make sense that I had willed it to happen. I half-expected to see his gnarly, rabid face all up in the glass of the sliding door. But no. The opossum was out somewhere in the neighborhood minding his own business as well. Opossum don’t care. Opossum don’t give a shit.
Rogue opossum swinging onto my porch. Nightmare realized.
   It was people that made the crash on my porch.
   I turned on the light and saw my coffee cup from earlier all smashed to shit and a paper airplane stuck inside what looked like a broken coffee machine piece (a cup holder?) or some such bullshit. I don’t know what things are called, okay? Here, I’ll show you:
I think I get easily carried away by Hipstagram and photo effects. Can't help it!  
  And all masking-taped around the side was “You’re cute! You’re cute! You’re cute!”
   And the paper airplane had some UT student’s 8th-grade-level algebra homework all over it.
   My first thought was, “Oh wow, someone has a huge crush on me!” I wondered if it was that little undergrad Tyler in the apartment above and to the right of mine who brought me incense one time and had friends over all that night making noise and having “deep” conversations about what they liked best about themselves.
   For a second, I thought it was kind of sweet.
   Then, as I was cleaning up the shards of glass from my balcony, I started to get a little pissed. Where’d those fuckers go, anyway? They threw a note onto my porch, broke my mug and then bolted? That’s not nice. And if I’m so cute, why not stick around to apologize for breaking my shit?
   And then the thoughts spiraled. I thought to myself: I bet none of them really thinks I’m cute! Besides boys never say you’re cute, girls say that. Those turds think they’re really clever and funny and they’re making fun of me! Those fucking jive-ass turkey shits!
   There was more evidence that the love note wasn’t legit: the algebra homework belonged to some girl named Jenell, and girls are always the ones who decide to do mean things to other girls (and say “you’re cute!”). I was thinking about how I was going to march upstairs and beat the shit out of Jenell, and then smash a bunch of shit on Tyler’s balcony and then unleash an opossum into their apartment! They’d be so sorry…
   But I’m kind of shy. And Jenell’s math homework made me sad. She’s clearly in some sort of remedial math class for morons, so life isn’t going to be too easy on her unless she happens to be really pretty (we already know she’s not smart or interesting).
   As I stepped out onto the balcony an hour or so later to talk to Regan on the phone, Tyler came outside.
   “Hi,” he said. He was alone.
   “Hi,” I wasn’t fuming anymore, but I didn’t know how to act.
   “Did we break some of your stuff earlier?”
   “Um, yeah.”
   “I’m really sorry about that. My friends were really drunk. They didn’t mean to break anything.”
   “It’s okay, I guess. Do you need your paper airplane back?” I was joking.
   “No.” He was really serious. I think he actually felt super bad. I guess if it were I, I would’ve hidden for months until the whole incident was a distant memory, so I had to give him credit for apologizing.
   “Alright then.”
   “Have a good night. I’m sorry.”
   “It’s okay.”
   Regan told me that if it’d happened to her, she’d take it as an omen from the spirits that she was super hot. I think she used the word “fine,” but she’s never really gotten over the 90’s, so we have to make allowances.
   I just can’t imagine what weird time warp I’ve fallen into that has me dealing with the ins-and-outs of a 19-year-old boy’s mind again. I've also kind of been thinking since I was 18 or so that I wouldn't have to deal with 19-year-olds again until I had a kid that was 19. I guess I’m just lucky to be back in college doing my thing, even if there happen to be 19-year-olds who live in my immediate vicinity. Life isn't perfect.
   I’ve also decided to take the note as a sweet gesture that went awry. What's the point in being negative? So I can work super hard to not like myself? Even if those kids don’t actually think I’m cute (though obviously I AM), they could’ve written something truly mean. And I don’t think they meant to break my mug. And the paper airplane was pretty decent. Maybe Jenell has a some kind of future in paper airplanes. (I certainly hope she never gets her hands near a real airplane... just based entirely on her math skills.)
*Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad (Vince Gilligan, 2008).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

"Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. But I'd like to add a third certainty: trash. And while some in this room might want to discuss reducing taxes, I want to talk about reducing trash."*

   It’s true: I’m hypersensitive. I think I’ve mentioned this before. I’m one of those HSP’s you’ve read about in the media. (Side note: being sensitive, I’m aware that you may not have read about HSP’s, so I’m sorry if I made you feel weird about not knowing about us. Read this.)

   Anyway, so that means “sensitive” on many levels:

   I’m easily startled.

   I cry a lot. At weird stuff. Not just because I’m a woman.

   Loud noises disturb me to the extreme.

   I cannot function outdoors during the day without sunglasses.

   Et cetera.

   I’m not OCD, so don’t get the wrong idea. I can eat food off the floor or pee and not wash my hands. (Hmmm...does my lack of a comma over there make it seem like I eat pee off the floor? Cuz I don't.) I’m super normal. But just very, very sensitive. I’m a delicate robin’s egg of feelings and senses.


   Today I tried to recycle a bunch of crap at the student Co-op by my apartment. I have lots of packing paper, newspaper, boxes, etc. And cans and bottles and egg crates and what not. My apartment has no recycling. My car was straight-up full.

   There was an Eminem-looking dude smoking a cigarette by the recycle bins. He watched me park. He watched me unlock my car. He watched me walk halfway to the bin before he said,

   “Ma’am, you can’t dump here.”

   Okay, let’s start with “ma’am.” I know it’s a Texan thing. Maybe even a southern thing? But I’m having a lot of trouble adapting to it. It makes me feel like I’m 200-years-old. I know it’s just a “polite” mode of address, but it drives me bonkers. Ugh. I’d rather have someone say, “Bitch, you can’t dump here.” Anyway.
   Next let's talk about how he waited for me to get all up next to the bin before he bothered to say anything. What a master of the dramatic pause. Fuckface. 

   “I’m not dumping, I’m recycling. See? These bags are full of newspaper!”

   I felt really proud of myself. In Los Angeles, you’re encouraged to recycle. They provide bins for it. You can even make money from it (remind me to tell you about the time I read in the LA Times about a family that sent their oldest kid to MIT on recycling money…then they sent their second-oldest to Irvine, so that was a bit of a come-down. Ok, never mind, that’s the whole story).

   “That bin is already full.”

   “Oh, okay. Do you know of another recycling bin?”

   The woman that had joined him on his smoke break shook her head like, “Stupid, stupid person. She doesn’t know about ANYTHING!”

   “Um, maybe the recycling center?”

   He said it like I was some sort of fucking dickhead moron who was being intentionally obtuse.

   As if my California license plates and dumbfounded expression weren’t proof enough that I had no idea where that center might be.

   “Do you know where it is?” I asked, determined to turn the situation in my favor somehow. The color was rising in my cheeks. I could feel myself wanting to cry or scream. Okay. At this point I was pushing him so he could find an opportunity to be less of an asshole and I could find an opportunity to feel less embarrassed.

   “Maybe if you look it up online you’ll find it.” Drag. Puff.

   “Okay.” I started walking back with my bags of newspaper.

   “You know, it’s illegal to recycle here.”


   “It’s illegal to recycle in this bin. This bin is just for the Co-op.”

   “Ok. I didn’t know that. My landlord told me I could recycle here.”

   “No. It’s illegal.”

   “Okay, well I certainly wasn’t trying to commit a crime. I'm not, like, a criminal or anything.”

   Thought in head: why is this person working so hard to discourage me from recycling?

   “I understand.” Puff. “But it’s illegal." Puff. "Ma’am.”


   It was strange. I didn’t feel embarrassed anymore. I felt angry and a little confused, but not embarrassed. I got in my car and found the nearest recycling center on my phone.

   The recycling center is downtown and not too far from my apartment, so that was a plus. It looks like a place you might get stabbed at night, so that was a minus. And one of the boxes got stuck in the backseat of my car so it took me twenty solid minutes of ripping and tearing to get it out while at least 5 different men drove up with their recyclables and never offered to help. (What, you can call me “ma’am” but you can’t help me get a goddamn box out of my car? Chivalry my ass. Not cool. And certainly not what one (i.e. me) expects in The South.)

   The whole time I was driving down there and during the sweaty scenario that involved wrenching that fucking box out of my car I got to thinking really hard about garbage (both literally and figuratively). I’d been afraid on my drive to the center that they’d have objection to the size or contents of the boxes, insist that I break down even the enormous, reinforced, unbreakable one, that they’d insist that I drink all the water in my recyclable water bottles or something. I don’t know. I guess I was just intimidated by the amount of criticism I’d already experienced while trying to RECYCLE.

   And then I thought, "What if, at some point, we just can’t get rid of the garbage anymore?" I remember reading about that disgusting, floating island of rubbish that exists somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean (The Pacific Ocean Vortex). What if, someday soon maybe, we have nowhere to take anything so we just have to keep it? I’ve never personally experienced a garbage strike, but it seems like it would be mind-numbingly disturbing and terrifying. I can barely get rid of my recyclables in a doable fashion in a decent-sized city that cares somewhat about recycling (at least, they don’t provide shopping bags, so I assume they care…though that seems more of a cost-saving ploy than anything else, really).

   I’m not trying to give you the idea that I’m one of those amazing change-the-world types, because I’m far too lazy for that. But I do try to be conscientious. I try to recycle, I try to use less plastic, I try not to waste. But for each day I take a huge pile of packing papers, boxes and newspaper to the recycle, a new pile grows in it’s place. What if I’m creating the Austin Garbage Vortex all by myself? Or at the very least contributing to it? And those a-holes at the co-op won’t even help me! I’m virtually living on an island in a sea of recyclables. Am I gonna have to buy a truck?
Me being sad in front of my garbage. Which, incidentally, is in front of my door. Not a good fire plan.

   It took a full two days, but my feelings stopped hurting. I will continue to drive down to the corner of Murder Avenue and Drug Deal Lane to recycle (only during operating hours, of course), but I would appreciate if the fine men of this city would stop calling me ma’am or hurting my very sensitive feelings and help me change the world instead.
   Reduce. Reuse. Drive 12 miles. Recycle.
*Ruth Ann Minner, D-Del, 2001-2009. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Would you excuse me? I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood."*

   I had class at 8 a.m. this morning.
   I planned my school clothes the night before, so it was supposed to be easy: wake up, put on clothes, leave apartment and walk to class. I had intended to wear a pair of shoes (flats, mind you) that I know to be uncomfortable (from a terrible night spent waiting tables in them), so I packed a spare pair of comfies in my school bag.
   Thing is, I’m basically a moron before 11 a.m.
   Thing is, I'm basically a moron.
   I forgot sunscreen, I didn’t eat anything, and my coffee mug was dirty and I wasn’t sure I could take coffee to class anyway (nothing like getting reprimanded on your first day with a new professor).
   But Professor E was holding a hot cup of Starbucks throughout his lecture and between staring at it, rubbing my eyes, and sucking in my stomach every time I felt a huge, orchestral rumble come on, I felt very ill-prepared for my second day of graduate school. Ill-prepared, jealous, stupid, and my feet already hurt.
   After class, some of my new friends and I walked over to a local cafĂ© for breakfast. Apparently, they’d all eaten because while they ordered coffee and toast or "just a latte," I had an omelet with a side of bacon and a side of black beans and about four cups of coffee.
   Then we went to class number two. By this time there was a decided hitch in my giddy-up because left foot was threatening to kick that shoe in the garbage (left foot is definitely the bigger/dominant foot). But we made it to the lecture, and I even made it to the bathroom during the lecture (to relieve myself from what had indeed been, upon close calculation during the lecture and while holding my pee, four cups of coffee)—a bathroom that is either three miles from the lecture hall or which there was an easier way to find that I don’t know about (probably the latter).
   After second class, I decided to be pro-active and get my student ID. Fast-forward to me standing in line for 40 minutes, one shoe off, playing Sudoku on my phone and praying that my left foot wouldn’t get all comfortable outside of the shoe and then refuse to go back in it.
  (Side note: in my student ID photo I look like a fucking hipposaurus.)
   So I started walking home, finding some lovely, shaded paths behind the main drags of campus, and attempting to take in the scenery and pretend that I didn’t feel the need to limp. I’d gone about a quarter mile before I realized that I’d been walking south instead of east, effectively making my trip a good half-mile longer than it had to be. I no longer pretended not to limp. I had to make a conscious effort not to crawl. Or take my damn shoes off all together. But hell, it was over 100 degrees, so I knew the sidewalk wasn’t going to do me any favors. At that point I didn’t even mind looking like a hillbilly, I just didn’t want my feet to suffer any worse pain than the current moment.
   I kept up a brave front. I used all my old acting skills and acted like I didn’t want to lay down on the ground and scream (yay, Theatre degree!). I saw some neat parts of campus and cool kids in groovy clothes and people with booths promoting their yachting clubs, crew clubs and weird Asian nerd frats. But I couldn’t enjoy a moment of it. It felt like my left pinky toe was being slowly sawed off my foot.
   Things went on like that for about a mile before I realized, “Holy shit. I have a spare pair of shoes in my bag!”
   I immediately sat down on a curb and took my shoes off. My left foot was bloody in several places and I had brand-new, bright-red blisters. (I’d pre-bandaged my toes, but that didn’t help either—the blood was dripping into my shoes.)
Blood spilling out of my unassuming flat. Ubiquitous Texan insects running for their lives.

   New shoes on, I felt moronic again. Who in god’s name intentionally packs a spare pair of comfy shoes and then completely forgets about them after walking for 3 miles in shoes full of bloody blisters?
   I’ll tell you who: the same gal who didn’t put sunscreen on her paper-white ass before spending multiple hours in the midday Texas sunshine. The same girl who eats string cheese for dinner because she doesn’t bother to plan or cook a meal…ever. The same girl who will probably die of a combination of skin cancer, malnutrition and gangrene in the next 3-to-6 months if she doesn’t get her act together.
   Maybe most importantly: the same gal who wears heinously painful shoes to school in the first place. Sigh out loud.
   I’m guessing that I won’t be able to move around much tomorrow. But look forward to butt-loads of future complaining.

*Romy and Michele's Highschool Reunion (David Mirkin, 1997).

Saturday, August 24, 2013

"You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas."*

   Hey, you crazies.

   Sorry it’s been so long since my last post.

   I live in Texas y'all.

   I am very hot.

   I have an apartment now.

   And go out a lot.

   That was a poem. Did you get it? Didja?

    Can you keep a secret? I can't. That has nothing to do with my next statement: I’m super in love with this town. I’m so hot most days it’s hard to concentrate or remember my name, but when I’m in my car blasting the AC, and I can focus on life, I find every sight I see highly entertaining if not downright inspiring. 
That's the reading inside at 12:30 a.m. Yikes!

   This post isn’t worth much…just a shout-out to the blogosphere to let y’all know I’m alive.

   Top 5 things I like about Austin so far:

1.  Despite driving in what I’m told is heinous traffic, I can’t help feeling Austin is a paradise compared to LA. Nothing takes more than 30 minutes, and it usually takes a lot less.

2.  Every street looks eclectic and original and bizarre. This is not a town of strip malls and Walmarts, praise Jesus!

3.  Some lady very nicely explained from her car in the lane next to mine today that I was in the wrong lane and about to experience a head-on collision. She offered to let me move in front of her. What? Courteous, kind fellow drivers? What planet am I on?

4.  My new apartment has a balcony overlooking a charming creek. Yay, nature! 
How cute is the GE stove from the 70's? And, as Ouisa pointed out,if it works, I'm one step ahead of my last apartment.

5.  Everyone here dresses fashionably: but not LA fashionably. We’re talking personalized, outrageous, adorable, crazy fashion from vintage to full tattoo sleeves to head-to-toe UT gear. In LA everyone dresses to look thin or importantly chic, here people dress to look unique, different, and like they just don't give a shit. And it’s WONDERFUL. I’ve never seen more beautiful people in one place in my entire life (except of course, at family reunions, duh).

   Honorable Mention: to Louise “Moose” Hopp: Gabe’s kitty has been my go-to companion, whether I’m on the front porch or the back picnic table. She sleeps at the end of the bed and only talks when she has something important to say. She searches out the strange rustling under the backyard steps and keeps me from running in the house screaming because I’m afraid of creatures. Thanks Gabe and Dan and Louise for letting me crash here!
Moose working security on the front porch.

I’ll keep you posted.

*That quote is from Davy Crockett.