dinner last night

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Last night before work I made cookies and a White Russian. There are two times when I feel most like an adult– when I check my mail before going into my apartment and I’m carrying bills, keys, and bags and I’m pooped from my day, I totally feel like a grown up. And when I can put together snacks and booze and call it a meal, I feel like an adult (and I would pronounce it with the hard “a”– aa-dult as opposed to uh-dult).

When I stopped at Bogie’s Liquor Store on Melrose to get supplies, the little old guy who works there was adorable and his toothless smile was wide and he poked out from behind the counter to help me find a mini bottle of Kahlua and he was older than water and he said “Thank you, sweetie, so honest” when I told him not to forget to charge me for the vodka, too, and I was leaving he yelled out “See you next week!” even though I’d never seen him before, but it was like he knew I drink too much and would be back next week. Which of course I do and I will. Adorable and psychic.

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naked layers

My cousin Kyana and her collaborator Novel Idea have created “Naked Layers,” a film that explores the body and vulnerability and nudity and space, and it’s so remarkable. I emailed Kyana after watching it and told her how I was nodding and crying and laughing while watching. Everything she discovers and discusses have been on my mind at one point or another, and it’s art like this that makes me feel less alone in the world. I recognize myself and the world in what they’ve created.

You can learn and see more of the project here.

ten things i did last week

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I love Mondays. I like how they have their own slow kind of rhythm, how the world feels like it takes the entire Monday to wake up after the weekend. I didn’t always love them– when I was still in school, when I had an office job, Mondays would make me want to torch myself. But now, even if I have to work on a Monday, I never dread it. Monday no longer seems crummy and gross, it just feels like a little cub of a day. Nothing to take too seriously– a day you know you’ll finish the crossword and make a post office stop.

It’s 7:39 am in Los Angeles on this Monday morning. I’m going to try to make this smoothie for breakfast. In an hour, I’m going to swing by Lynn’s to pick her up for our morning walk. I will go to the restaurant later and pour one billion iced teas, I think I need to get my eyebrows threaded this afternoon, and I’m going to a casting workshop this evening (sigh, that frigging thing actually feels like the bad part of Monday– a bunch of actors auditioning for a casting director always feels like a bad first date skit on SNL– lots and lots of nervous laughter), and tonight I’ll…well, I don’t know what I’ll do. And what could be better than that?

Last week I:

  1. Realized that even though I try to branch out, the only bags that make me truly happy are L.L. Bean totes. Any size, any color, any monogram. I think even if I hit the jackpot one day and splurge on a monogrammed Goyard suitcase, I’ll still tug around my tote bag.
  2. Made this cookie dough last night at ten pm. Apparently the secret to cookie happiness is the chill factor– the dough has to sit in the fridge for 36 hours.
  3. Drove down to Costa Mesa on Saturday evening to see Smokefall at South Coast Repertory. The theater was beautiful, the drive was lovely, before the show I walked over to Scott’s Seafood and had a glass of champagne and read Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro and chatted with a woman sitting next to me at the bar. She was in her fifties and had a short, little hair-sprayed helmet of curls and she was wearing a purple pants suit and had French manicured nails and she told me she was dragging her husband to see Billy Elliot and he was sitting next to her and looked a little like Santa Claus and he didn’t say much, didn’t even look her way as she talked and talked and talked, and I wondered if she ever got a little lonely, but when they were leaving, he put his hands on her shoulders and squeezed them in the most loving, we’ve been married for thirty years kind of way, and he said “Ready?” and I thought maybe she didn’t feel terribly lonesome after all.
  4. Woke up early Thursday morning so I could drive over to the touristy part of Hollywood Boulevard before work. I went to a souvenir shop and bought a California ashtray and some Hollywood postcards. I tried to find an “Eboni” key chain, but alas, that name doesn’t seem popular enough to get its own star-shaped trinket.
  5. Finally got back to reading Anna Karenina. I had put it down for about a month. I love it, but with 200 pages to go, I started to get a little weary. But I picked it up this weekend, and I think I will be able to finish soon.
  6. Rewatched Sex, Lies, and Videotape. I love that movie. I hadn’t seen it in ages and forgot how great it is.
  7. Had lunch with Luanne at Ivy on the Shore in Santa Monica. It was heaven. I was bare-legged and had dessert and a mojito with my lunch and Luanne and I talked for hours and hours about books and Los Angeles and New York and trying to make it. She has very, very, very quickly become one of my favorite people.
  8. Traded in my rental car. I have to swap it out every thirty days. I got rid of the Ford Escort (which I didn’t like driving that much) and got a Mazda 2 (which I frigging love, who knew Mazdas were the cutest little things with a bunch of power?)
  9. While trading in said rental car, I took public transportation in LA for the first time since I’ve been here. I had to get from the airport to the Enterprise office in Korea Town and I took a shuttle to a bus and it wasn’t bad at all and the bus driver was really helpful and friendly! I was hungover and slept for a lot of the trip, but look at how comfy the buses are! Thumbs up!
  10. Reminded myself over and over and over again that I won’t wait tables forever. I’ve been doing it for 12 years and even though my two (yes, I have two waitressing jobs) places are fun, there were a few moments this week when I felt buried underneath a mountain of cappuccinos and nicoise salads and I wanted to cry in front of customers and slap their faces and steal their wallets.

love songs

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It’s hard for me to think of anything more evocative than music and smell. I can hear an old song, sniff something familiar, and I’m in a time machine. I might be completely engrossed in one thing and all it takes is the opening chords of “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da,” and I’m right back on the upper west side laughing with Isidra, Maria, and Jesse. An old sweetheart of mine wore Old Spice and there are moments when I pass someone on the street and pick up that scent,  and my heart starts beating and I can see him and I can see myself at 24 years old, bounding down Church Street with bare knees, smiling to see him at a bar.

Lately I’ve been hearing song after song that reminds me of old flames and places, different times. I feel like I’m in an indie movie– driving and strolling around Los Angeles, constantly hearing old songs that remind me of old beaus. Some of the memories are so thrilling– my blood rushes to my head and I can’t stop smiling. But some of them are a little more  difficult to hang on to, and my stomach drops and my chest gets jittery. My goodness, music is like a frigging drug, isn’t it? It can keep you locked into a moment, but you can also soar back to the past.  I can’t get over its power, how it can create such past and present experiences. A few of my greatest time machine hits:

  • “Slip Sliding Away,” Paul Simon
  • “Strange Magic,” ELO
  • “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters,” Elton John
  • Romeo and Juliet soundtrack–the whole damn thing reminds me of being 16 and 17 and smoking cigarettes at Isidra’s and obsessing (I mean whole hog, firm grip, slack jawed obsession) over my high school crush
  • “Everybody Got Their Something,” Nikka Costa
  • “Somebody That I Used to Know,” Gotye

new simple pleasure!

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I have been a terrible blogger! Nearly two weeks since my last post. I’ve been training at a second restaurant and I’m only now starting to crawl out from under a mountain of scrambled eggs and decaf lattes and dressing on the side orders. And I’ve been meaning to post about my newest obsession– audio books! (Or “books on tape,” as I keep calling them, even though tapes haven’t been around since Melrose Place.) A few weeks ago, my friend Tracy emailed and asked if she could send me Tough Shit— a book on tape written and narrated by Kevin Smith (writer and director of Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma). She said it was motivating and inspiring and thought it would be a good kick in the ass for me. I got it in the mail a few days later, and I’ll thank Tracy forever. Dear friend, you’ve introduced me to the wonderful pleasure of books on tape! I’m driving all over this city, and I’m grateful for my satellite radio and the 70’s station is fun and NPR is great, but I was starting to get a little restless in the car. And now I can travel and make a dent in my “reading”! It doesn’t feel like actual reading, because well, I guess it isn’t. But it’s something. And the one thing I miss about subway commuting is the daily hour and a half opportunity to sit with a book.

Tough Shit was just the best. Smith discusses his father’s death, his white hot love for his wife, his weight, his adoration and respect for George Carlin, Tracy Morgan, Quentin Tarantino, his confusion over Bruce Willis and Harvey Weinstein. He talks about his insecurities and fears, how wringing and exhilarating life can be. And I’m making it sound totally cheesy and dumb, but I swear it’s rich and moving, and it was wonderful to hear as I hit day 63 of “Oh no, what the heck am I doing?” feelings.

Next up for the rental car stereo: Maureen Dowd’s Are Men Necessary? and Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded.

Thank you, Tracy!

bake the blues away

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Two nights ago, I had a nasty scratch of insomnia. I went to bed at 11 pm. By 1:45 am, I was four cups of coffee awake, and I caught myself doing the oddest thing– I was literally tossing and turning in bed. My sleepless nights usually find me staring unblinking at the ceiling, but on this night I couldn’t get comfortable, my skin felt itchy, my pillows were suffocating me. My mind was running eight hundred miles a second– how will I pay my rent? did I respond to that email? how many people have I slept with? what was Forest Whitaker’s last movie?— and the only thing that seemed to calm me down was an episode of Downton Abbey.

Days following those nights can be rough. I’m tired and I know something is on my mind, something that might be unknown to me, and I find that stressful. I wanted to cry when I woke up and I wasn’t sure why.  I went to work and felt mildly bewildered all day. After work, instead of coming home and parking in front of a movie or my computer, I decided to bake a cake. I used to love to bake. I miss it. I went to the store, I bought a bunch of baking supplies, I got home and drank peach beer, I listened to the James Taylor Pandora station and I made an olive oil cake. Usually books and movies and booze help me when I’m feeling sad, but those things run the risk of keeping me locked in my head. There’s something about doing the dishes as the entire house starts to smell like something is baking in the oven that just involves me in a different way. Sometimes it’s good to do things with your hands when the blues come to getcha.

*Full disclosure: my cake kinda tasted like shoe. I skimped on the olive oil, opting for the cheapie four dollar bottle, so yeah, my sweet olive oil cake wound up smelling and tasting like a cheap Italian restaurant.