home

I have a one-way ticket leaving LAX and arriving at JFK on July 5th, and I can’t help thinking that somewhere between Elmwood and Wilshire, somewhere along Third Street, somewhere on Emily’s couch, somewhere in line for Veggie Grill, somewhere in the aisles of the Beverly Hills library, somewhere at the counter of Fred 62, somewhere near that little pocket of La Cienega that smells like a campfire (I don’t know what it is or where it comes from, but I roll down my windows and I could eat that smell), somewhere there is a part of me that doesn’t want to go.

But I’m not sure I want to stay either, and these constant in-betweeny, life-so-meany feelings have typified my time out here. I like being alone, but I’m lonely. I’m grateful for the free time, but I spend most of it asleep. I was glad to get a break from “real life,” but I feel disconnected. And it’s been hard, really hard, to fess up and own all of my expectations and raging disappointments. I figured I could come out to Los Angeles and be on my walkabout and live in a freer and richer way. I thought I would ignite a desire that I often find myself wanting to tamp down. I came out here to chase life and wound up sleeping too much and making soy, decaf lattes with extra sides of steamed milk.

Or so it feels. It’s much more involved, I know. There’s been the good, there’s been the not so good, and there’s been the holy shit, I came to Los Angeles and lost my righteous mind and I’m staring into the abyss and it’s black just like they say and good God, how does anybody find the energy to love or write or drink soda or get dressed or pump gas or care about a neighbor when the world feels this small and dismal? Yeah, there’s been some of that, too.

But I can say this. I believe that I’m looking for something (someone? myself?), and that quest won’t end when I get off the plane. There is a search here, I have questions about how to live, about how I live, and as utterly lost as I’ve felt, there is a part of me that feels firmly guided by this curiosity. And there are moments. Small seconds when I feel like I’m brushing against something important, there is something that’s calling out. When I was in Austin a while back, we went to a brewery and afterwards we walked to our cars. The Texas air was solid with humidity, I was two beer giggly, the grass was freshly cut, you could smell everything. My friends were there with me, the night was in front of us, there was a breeze that caught the hem of my shorts. I felt young, but mature. I felt like I belonged to something, to other people. I was caught in that moment that seems to exist only in musicals– that pre-song minute when words fail, and the only thing that can express your wildness is a showtune, I felt ready to snap my fingers and yell “hit it, boys!” and cha-cha-cha my way back to the rental car. But mostly I felt like my life was cracking open and offering me the very great gift of possibility. Anything could happen. Anything could have happened out here in LA. Anything could happen in New York. I’m just hoping that I’m paying close enough attention to notice.

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new friend

Screen shot 2013-06-13 at 9.27.45 AM_2I have a lot of friends who blog– Lynn and Ray and Cara and Sam all have blogs that I read religiously– but I haven’t really ever made a friend through blogging. I met the Bitchy Waiter when I was taping the Huffington Post Live segment– he has a blog about being a waiter (as I was reading, I was nodding my head and making those little “hmmm” sounds of agreement)– and it was great to connect with someone who balances his creative aspirations with the demands of a full-time job. One day we’ll meet up in New York and trade stories about babies at brunch, drunks at happy hour, and how every table always has that one jerk, that one asshole who flags you down, insists she is ready to order and then turns to a dining companion and asks “I don’t know what I want yet. What should I order?”

Say hello at the Bitchy Waiter.

huffington post live

Screen shot 2013-06-12 at 12.24.12 AMI can’t help it! I grit my teeth and squirm in my seat and crunch up my nose whenever I have to watch myself on camera. And I’m supposed to be an actress for goodness’ sake, but I still find it kind of grueling. I’ve gotten better– when I was young, the sight (and sound– don’t you find that taped recordings make your voice sound like something totally alien and separate from yourself?) of my recorded self sent me running for a bottle of arsenic. Now I can watch without getting too squinty-eyed and slack-jawed about it (even though, good lord, my head is doing this nervous bobbing thing and my eyes are doing this weird squinty thing).

Yesterday I taped a segment with Huffington Post Live on restaurant tipping. Lynn and Abe set me up with the interview and it was fun. Before we even started, my cheeks were a little achy from smiling so much with the Huffington Post folks. Nancy Redd was so encouraging and friendly. There are a few technical hiccups near the tape’s end, but it was a great way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.

You can watch the video here!

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.

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.