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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Next Move


My friend and I are doing what we call "dueling laptops", where we get together somewhere (currently, her fresh, brand new apartment) and ignore each other in favor of whatever work we have to get done. She just showed me the above video and I keep laughing to myself about it, breaking our friendly silence. 

It'll be our last time doing this for awhile (probably a long while) because I'm going back to Chicago. In this weather? Yes. I guess the fact of the matter is that Winter Chicago feels more like home to me than L.A. 

But I'm going to Cali it up my last few days; my dueling laptops friend and I are hiking Griffith Park in a couple of hours, and then this weekend some friends and I are going camping in Big Sur. 

And then... back to Chicago. All those winter clothes I thought I was saying a permanent good-bye to will reassert themselves in my wardrobe for at least the next 4 months (as long as I've been in L.A. --- woah.) 

What I'm looking forward to most? The vegan donuts at New Wave. Here. I. Come. 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Little How-To



The neighbors here are characters. One is a 50-year-old actor with twinkling blue eyes who mostly plays cops, he says, and he definitely looks the part. All the time he whiles not acting by going around in his pick-up truck, loading in junked furniture to sell on Craigslist. He's quite ingenious with how he repurposes cast-offs and has built an entire, enclosed back porch off of his apartment using pallets and fishing nets.

Another is a sweet, gentle, 70-year-old, retired grocery store manager who gets up at dawn every morning to go surfing. The third is his equally sweet and gentle brother, who was recently released from an institution and spends his time counting how long it's been since he's picked up a drink (63 days, at last report).

I was sitting on the porch rueing my situation when the surfer, Roland, came by. He told me about how his ex-wife had served him divorce papers and her father, for whom he worked, fired him the same day. All of a sudden, he had absolutely nothing, so he bought an old VW bus to potentially live in, in case he couldn't find a job quick enough to stave off homelessness. His message to me was that situations don't last forever and things change - though as a person who lives on the edge, budget-wise, he's never found a reason to get rid of the van.

Roland, the actor, and the brother all seem to flirt with possible homelessness. One of their favorite topics of discussion is The Homeless Life and how to make it comfortable and workable. Here are some of Roland's favorite tips:

1) Get a van, and never, ever get rid of it.
2) Have as few material possessions as possible so you don't have to worry about leaving them behind if you have to. Roland's apartment features a guitar, a lawn chair, and two bedrolls, one for him and one for his brother. The actor affectionately calls Roland's apartment "The Yoga Studio" on account of its spartan decor.
3) Park your van on neighborhood streets that don't have street-sweeping days, but re-park your van regularly because residents will complain.
4) Get a gym membership. There's nothing being fit can't make better, including homelessness, plus there's access to showers, bathrooms, and A/C around the clock.
5) Get a library card. You'll have a lot of time on your hands, and there's no better way to spend it than by educating yourself.
6) Become a McDonald's regular. One cup of coffee buys you Wi-Fi for as long as you can stand to sit there. The three neighbors go to McDonald's almost every day for post-prandial coffee and cookies, and have come to know all of the homeless people who regularly spend the day there on their laptops. One, Allison, will spit if you come near her and yell, "I'm a happy millionaire! What the fuck is your problem?", but the neighbors insist she's all right.
7) Get a dog or a gun, or both if you "want a little bite with your bark."

Comforting notes to receive, when I, myself feel very close to the edge. It could be worse, but at least there'll be Wi-Fi.



Friday, September 26, 2014

I Might Be A Monster, But You Already Knew That

Me in my much-loved, Uncle Joey/comedy blazer. 

Writing is one of the few things that keeps me sane, and blogging is one of the things that keeps me writing. Even though I haven't been feeling particularly inspired lately, I dog myself to keep it up, just to keep myself in writing.

Lately I've been waxing nostalgic for my old fashion blog. Even though I don't participate in fashion forums anymore, I still take pictures of my outfits near-daily and put them in a private Picasa album, as sort of a visual diary. Details of the day are so easy to remember when I can put myself in my own shoes, not to be too punny, and there are so many stories behind every piece one has on that blog posts virtually write themselves. The sociopsychological aspects of self-adornment is something that continues to fascinate me, along with fashion history and its cultural implications and my blog was a great way to explore that.

There were many reasons I put it aside; one of the main ones was that in trying to keep up with my peers, I was filled with object-lust that, as a poor person who is not terribly handy, I could not sate. It was driving me crazy. I felt like I had to have the newest, best, most fashionable objet du jour or I wasn't doing okay.  Another reason was that I was starting to get solicitations for sponsored posts, and even though I enjoyed the cache of being asked, the practice of it made my fantastically self-expressive space seem spammy. It just smacked of ugliness to me. The third reason was that I was mysteriously gaining weight (apparently I have a thyroid problem), making my long-time body dysmorphia problem (a reason I started the blog) get worse (along with my soon-to-be ex-husband's frequent picking apart of my appearance, but that's a whole other post).

On the topic of body dysmorphia, I'm not sure if I actually have it because there's a piece of me that holds out hope that I am not a total monster and if I just "act normal", I'll be accepted by the millions of mystery people looking down their nose at my body that resembles biscuit dough creeping out of a freshly-popped Pillsbury can. Though there is an equal part of me that says, "It's not dysmorphia if you're actually hideous," then it's just being realistic.

I realize that looks aren't everything. There are lots of people out there who are sporting esoteric and unconventional body features, including those who are missing limbs and everything else that are living far more strident and passionate lives than myself. I wish I could stop being so hung up on my appearance, and just come to grips with being an unattractive person and move on, or pump myself full of hot pink bravado and tell myself that I tout my own special, unique brand of misshapen sexiness that probably many people would enjoy despite themselves. Buy colorful, impractical lingerie to show that I love myself and turn the charm up to 11.

I want someone to do the work for me. To tell me I don't need to lose weight or grow my hair long or shave my legs, that they find my body a piece of art that they cherish. I crave to know that someone I love feels that way. Any piece of wisdom would say that I have to be my own lover -- either "first", like other peoples' adulation is a prize for unlocking the psychic door of self-love, or just in general. Love thyself. Is that a Bible quote? Whatever it is, it feels like saying, "Be your own spoon." Pull a rabbit out of a hat. Pull a chain of scarves out of your ass.

So I'm going to try to do things that just make me feel good in general and hope my body image follows along. Writing is one of those things. And I might use a picture of myself and a discussion of what I'm wearing to prompt it.

(Oh my god, I just realized this entire post is an apology for putting a picture of myself on my blog.)

Here's to slowly working on building my chain of ass-scarves.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Downhill.

image via square america

I'm at a crossroads. I've been in L.A. now for two months and I haven't found a job. Every second that I don't have a job is like one big, agitated sigh. I've looked back on this time and wish I'd packed it with more fun -- the kind of fun an unemployed person has, right?

But I've been completely consumed with a) finding work, b) finding a place (which is now on the backburner if I don't have a job... every place wants your last two paychecks before you sign), c) grieving my relationship, and d) missing my Ohio people.

I'm starting to get worried -- I've been here nearly two weeks past when I said I was going to leave here. Where should I be? When I think of a tranquil place, I think of the extra bedroom in the house my husband and I most recently moved into in Ohio. I painted it lavender. There was a big landscape on the wall and a beautiful view out of the windows. I had my computer, a forest green leather couch, and a filing cabinet with all of my craft supplies organized inside, for once. The cats would sleep on the back of the couch, in the sunlight streaming through the windows. I would read The Artist's Way and cut up old books and magazines.

My older brother told me, "Follow your bliss," not meaning your manic dreams that put you in a lather, but your sense of "good and right"-ness (as my father would call it). You don't have to seek to have an awesome situation, because a copacetic one is just as rare and plenty good.

When I think of a place I last felt successful, desirable, and fast, I think of Chicago. I loved what I was doing there. I have a lot of friends I miss there, too. Their public transportation gives this car-averse woman the thrill of independence (except when waiting for the bus, in the winter, at night). I made a pros and cons list between LA, Chicago, and Columbus, and Chicago came out on top with the most pros, and the least amount of cons. So I applied to two positions in Chicago.

Now there's a possibility of a job here. It's located in Hollywood, which is where I'd be living if I choose to stay. I could maybe walk or ride a bike to work, even in February - imagine! And I could be having the kind of fun an employed person has - right?

So where should I be?

My brother also said that he found a lot of satisfaction in surrendering his path to the "flow". He said ever since, it feels like his life is like riding a bicycle downhill. My dad said something similar, in his trademark religious jargon, about giving myself up to God's plan.

I feel like I have nothing left but to do so.

I'm going to, to the extent that I'm able, set myself like a leaf on a stream and exert very little effort. To let life carry me aloft and find the path that feels most like riding downhill. I just hope the slots pay out before my unemployment dries up...


Monday, September 8, 2014

What am I going to do?

Source Unknown - Contact Me If Yours!

I've been pretty silent lately, which is what I tend to be when I'm full of turmoil. I'm on the tipping point of trying to decide whether to stay in California or not.

It would help if I were having the time of my life, but one's heart stays broken no matter where they are on the map. Not to say I haven't been having a pretty good time. I'm turning myself into a beach person with the help of large hats and dangerous levels of sunscreen application. I've got freckles where I didn't know I could freckle.

Currently I'm living with a high school friend in Santa Monica. I was in Los Feliz before that (hipster 'hood) and East Hollywood before that (just hood). Been working lots on my copywriting job, going to interviews and not getting anything out of them besides experience wearing a blazer and heels.

I'm missing my friends and my dad and in-laws, and much to my anti-materialist leanings, my stuff. Boy do I miss my stuff. And my cats. I also miss the mega-convenience of public transportation in Chicago and the chillitude of Columbus.

I haven't dipped my toes too far into the world of entertainment out here, just a few open mics here and there, but it doesn't seem like enough for me. I'm wondering if my performance boner is on the permanent wane or if it's just lying dormant for awhile. Writing, however, still gets me (as it has since I could first pick up a pen and do it), and I'm not sure if LA is the supreme writing climate. Chicago has so much to offer there: ready and willing sketch groups, non-scary theater rental prices.

I could pretty literally do anything with my life right now. What am I going to do?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Love and Understanding.


I was casually researching exit bags yesterday afternoon when my friend came home and said to me, "Robin Williams killed himself!"

Exit bags, in case you don't want to click, are plastic bags you put over your head, seal, and pump some kind of inert gas into. It's heralded by right-to-die societies as a quick, painless, and clean way to kill yourself. I was wondering if I could buy or make one.

So, when she told me that Robin Williams had died, I thought, "Naturally." It was to me, like Robin had told me, "I'm going to bed," and I replied, "OK, sweet dreams."

I'm not shocked at suicide, and I'm not angry at anyone who would do it. Maybe it's because I'm blinded by my own struggle with suicidality, but I believe that killing oneself is excusable, forgivable, perhaps even all right.

Depression is a deadly illness - suicide ranks 4th in causes of death amongst those aged 15 to 64. Some will die, perhaps in spite of whatever help there is currently at hand, perhaps they never received any. Some will die, just as someone with (as the hackneyed comparison goes) cancer may die despite medical intervention, and certainly without it. No one tells them they're going to hell, that it's illegal, that no one will forgive them if they pass. And as sad as that death is, it's a blessed relief from the physical torture of the disease.

Now certainly, there is a level of choice involved in killing one's self.  Depression is mental torture. Though there are a million doctors with a trillion pills to give you, a million therapists who'll tell you to identify your cognitive distortions and redirect them to happier thoughts, a thousand crisis workers who will make feeble attempts to explain why life is worth living, a handful of friends you tell who say they'll "be pissed" if you kill yourself, sometimes it just wins in the end.

It's an end to an interminable pain.

I've struggled with anxiety and depression since I was 12. I've flirted many times with the idea of killing myself (like I mentioned, yesterday I was researching exit bags). Somehow I come back from these spells again and again like a punching clown, but I wonder when the day will come that I don't come back. I've already forgiven myself.

I'd like forgiveness from you.

But I wonder, would your forgiveness make things better? Does the stigma of suicide help keep me (and others) on the "right side" of the bridge/the pills/the razorblade? Would the removal of stigma cause rates of suicide to increase? Or just make suicide less a barrier to love and understanding for those who would already do so and those they leave behind?


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sticks.


I can't believe I will have been here two weeks on Wednesday.  I've filled up my time with some (actually pretty successful) open mics, visiting relatives in Palm Springs, and partying on the beach.  It strikes me how much this feels like a foreign country here... nothing looks familiar at all... from the vegetation to the grocery stores (Von's? Ralph's? Who?) to the endless driving (that I'm fighting tooth and nail to not get engaged in, despite my Palm Springs relatives having very generously gifted me with an old car).

As someone who winces at full sun, I'm not sure this is the most appropriate place for me on Earth, but I've met so many former neurotics here who assure me that in time, it'll smooth out all of my jaggedness.  I not-so-patiently await my rebirth.

I expected to bounce from divorce-related Ohio misery to California freewheelingness, but the distance has made it much harder. My husband hasn't tried to reach out to me.  Before I got on the plane, he gave me a bundle of rosemary sticks that he snapped in half, with a vague explanation.  A friend told me they were "cleansing"... of what - each other?  I haven't taken them out of my purse, and each time I look at them, I wonder why a bundle of sticks is my souvenir of a 4-year marriage. What does he want me to do with these?

Also in my purse: the vows I read to him on our wedding day.  I see both of these things every day.

During an epic hike at Runyon Canyon yesterday, I told a friend that I feel like each phase of my life has to be perfectly tied up in a bow before I can move on to the next phase. He pointed out that I'm wasting phases tying up loose ends of previous phases.

Maybe seeing these sticks and these vows every day isn't helpful to me. My highly sentimental nature keeps me from doing anything with them, but I also do hugely believe that unloading stuff is as cleansing as burning some herbs from an estranged husband.

But... I'm at a loss of what exactly to do with these artifacts, especially the vows.

My friends are picking me up to go to the beach where I can either forget about this or come to a conclusion.