I May Be Crazy

You already knew this, but here’s more evidence to support it…

After over a year of not writing creatively in any capacity – meaning no blogs, sonnets, journal entries, prose or anything – I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. That’s right.  After months and months of nothing, I have committed to attempting to write a full novel in the month of November. The goal is to write a 50k word novel in a super short period of time.  The challenge is for participants have to write so feverishly that they don’t have time to stop and edit – which means ultimately there will be a first (albeit shitty) draft by December 1.

Right now, I look a little bit like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the middle of November, I’ll probably look like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And when it’s all over, this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why am I embarking on this craziness, you ask?  Several reasons, really.  First, I need to reinvent and recreate my novel.  I think the characters and basic concept are still fairly solid, but the story I wanted to tell 7 years ago (when I started work on it) is entirely different than the story I need to tell now.  Second, I miss writing.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been any good at it, but when I do it frequently, I feel better.  Third, I want to really know what its like to finish something this massive.  But the main reason I’m doing this is because I’m turning 30 this month.  NaNoWriMo is my birthday present to myself. How cool will it be if I can say, “The month I turned 30, I wrote a novel!”?

Short-term goal: At the end of November, when the first scary draft is all written, I’m going to take three weeks in December to edit it as much as I possibly can, and then finally send a finished draft to Roy, to whom I’ve been promising this for years.

Long-term goal: After I’m back in the groove of regular writing, I dont want to let it go again. Hopefully this means more frequent blog posts in the future, more random projects, and maybe – just maybe – a real novel.

So after tonight, I go into lockdown.

For the next month, I may be hard to find.  Please don’t take offense if I don’t respond to texts, answer calls, or reach out to you while I embark on this insane endeavor.  If you really want to meet up with me, you can find me at Century Ballroom on Wednesday nights – but beyond that I’ll be otherwise occupied.

Wish me luck…I’ll see you on the other side.

The Return of the Angry Sonnet

During my years at UVA, I was incredibly lucky to study under Roy Wagner. Roy is, without doubt, one of the most brilliant anthropologists who ever muttered the word, “culture”. He’s also a phenomenal writer. I was luckier, still, that Roy took some interest in me as a writer, which resulted in a very pleasant friendship.

One afternoon, as a we were departing from Roy’s Mythodology course (Mythodology is not a misspelling), I posed to Roy that is impossible to write an angry sonnet because the rhyming couplet at the end effectively deflates any of the malice built up in the prior stanzas. He took my statement as a challenge and immediately began writing fantastically angry sonnets. We took turns writing angry sonnets for each other over the semester, and then Roy took it a step farther and composed a beautiful book of Mayan sonnets.

It has been several years since I’ve written an angry sonnet and about three years since I’ve spoken to Roy, but I find myself in a position where I’d like to start composing angry sonnets once more. There’s something very therapeutic about turning anger and aggression into creative hilarity.  So for the first time in years, I present to you an angry sonnet…

 

homo triumliterarum

Oh, you’re a vile, seething, covetous cunt,
And my compassion for you becomes dust,
For excuses to plunder what you want,
In your wretched eyes, makes thievery just.
While the accountable know they must work
For their merit – no gift from the sidelines –
With piteously outstretched arms, you lurk,
Righteously discontent in your confines.
Like others, I attempted to befriend
You, unaware of your fast resentment.
Friendship, charity – given to no end –
Instead, to my own profane detriment.
But though your offense caused me much grief,
I am recompensed: all know you’re a thief.

The Crazy Cat Lady Bids Los Angeles a Cheesy Adieu

Over the past couple years, most of you have heard me whine incessantly about my desire to move to Seattle.  For a variety of reasons – some legitimate, some merely grounded in fear – I failed to move last year.  But my time of waiting is over. Due to medical need and a very lucky alignment of circumstances, I am moving immediately.

I’m ecstatic about the new life waiting for me in Seattle, but I’m also sad to leave the life I’ve built in LA.  Below are just a few of the people and experiences that made my time in this city amazing.

  • “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Million Dollar Theater with Michele, Courts, and Ludlow followed by Bratwurst at the Wurst Kuche (or “worst cooch”, as Courts pronounces it). That was, without a doubt, one of my favorite Los Angeles days – I grin whenever I think of it.
  • Michele’s amazing ability to bring people together. Thank you, Michele, for bringing Jessica and Tina into my life. The three of you have taught me so much.
  • Dinner parties at my house.  How I loved cooking with and for my friends! Good food, good wine, great conversation! I will miss this.
  • The good days of MySpace.  I have the deepest respect for the incredibly fantastic people I worked with and count myself very lucky for knowing all of you.
  • MyBalls. Ask Amber for details.
  • Disneyland! Disneyland! Disneyland! I’ll never get tired of trips to Disneyland with friends and family.
  • EHarmonizing.
  • My Percival adventures and the support I received from all of you in my dog education. Jamie, Vickie, John, Jessica, Michele, and everyone else I called in a panic whenever Percy did something I didn’t understand – thank you for everything.
  • Halloween in West Hollywood. Yes, I dressed like a freak. And I liked it.
  • Lindy Groove and Tuesday nights at Joe’s. Brittany, thank you so much for bringing me into your dance world!

There are so many more things I will miss about LA and my LA family. Please keep in touch and look me up if you’re ever in Seattle – because you know you’ll be getting a call from me when I visit LA!

Idiots on Parade – Why I Hate Shopping for Food

I hate grocery stores. Unlike most places were people shop, grocery stores do not have a specific demographic they cater to – everyone needs food.  One would think that with so many different kinds of people gathering in one place, there would be multitudes of different kinds of behavior, but this is not so.  My theory is that no matter how capable or intelligent a person is, once he passes through the magic soul-sucking automatic doors into the over-stimulated, air-conditioned maze, he is miraculously dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

I shop at a Ralph’s down the street from my house.  Though not the ritziest of grocery stores, it’s incredibly convenient in location and the fact that I’m familiar with the layout – meaning I should, in theory, be able to make my purchases and get home quickly.  This is what came of my intended quick-trip:

  • There were at least three separate incidents of one person blocking the entire aisle while traffic on both sides tries to get by.
  • I had one collision with a child who was sprinting, unsupervised, through the cereal aisle clutching a box of Fruity Pebbles. (For the love of Dog, do not let that child have any more sugar!)
  • There was a woman standing directly in front of the creamer in the coffee section. When I said, “Excuse me, can I just reach behind you to get some creamer?” she responded (I shit you not), “No, you can wait there until I’ve finished selecting which coffee I want.”
  • When I finally made it to the check out, of course the person in front of me had accidentally picked up the wrong ice cream and had to run back to switch it out.  He took about five minutes hemming and hawing over the choices.
  • But the irritation and annoyance was not over – oh no, not even close.  After loading up my truck, returning the cart, and starting the engine, I had to sit in the parking lot for another ten minutes because I was prevented from backing out of the parking space! Some jackass felt he had to block me in while he waited for someone else to load his car.  Apparently the open space three cars down wasn’t good enough.

By the time I got home, all I wanted to do was curl up in my pajamas and never have to interact with another person ever again – or at least never have to go food shopping.  I really do understand why some people hire others to do their grocery shopping for them.  Sadly, as irritating as my trip to Ralph’s was, it doesn’t even come CLOSE to being nearly as ridiculous as a trip to Costco.  Are people assholes in grocery stores all over the country? Or is it just in the SFV?

Home

Home.
One syllable.  So much meaning.

I’ve been on a quest, for several years now, to find my home.  The meaning of “home” and all its implications has been rather problematic for me.  A while back, I took a poll in my blog asking you to vote on what “home” means. I believe it went something like this:

Home is:

  1. where the heart is
  2. where you live/where you’re stationed
  3. where you were born
  4. where your family lives
  5. the place you like the most
  6. none of the above

Unfortunately, MySpace polls unceremoniously kicked the bucket, so I do not have the exact results of this particular poll, but I do recall that option A was the strong lead.

Let’s discuss.

“Home is where the heart is.” What the hell does that mean?  This is the kind of statement that is so vague it has to be true.  If I love a place, that place is my home.  If I love a person, that person is my home. How sweet—puke.  (As a side note, there was a point in time where I thought maybe Adam was my home.  But when I expressed this idea to him, he laughed at me.  I don’t think “home” will laugh at me when I find it.)  Though this definition of home, by default, must be right, it is still not what I am looking for.  It is the easy way out of a hard question.  If home is where the heart is, the heart must be defined, as well as the location of the heart.  Without these definitions, this is just a phrase that people like to cross-stitch into pillows.

Home is where you live/where you’re stationed. I like this option—it is very pragmatic.  Those of you who chose this option, I salute you (a fitting action, as many of you are military).  I admire you for being so adaptable and accepting of where you live. Though I’ve moved around quite a bit, I’ve still not developed the knack for being “at home” anywhere.  I can be comfortable, even content, and still not be at home.  I live in LA. I like LA.  LA is not my home.  I am out of place here—I don’t stand out, but I don’t “belong.”  (Not complaining…just stating the obvious.)

Home is where you were born. For me, that would be Dillon, Montana.  For the first 15 years of my life, I thought Dillon was my home.  I was born there.  My grandparents lived there.  But mostly, the mountains made sense to me.  The time I actually lived in Montana was very brief, but I felt like those mountains were my home, no matter where I lived.  The sky, the smells, the trees…I felt I identified with it all.  Then my grandmother died and it became a little less like home.  The next time I visited, I received a strong dose of small town rudeness.  One woman even accused me of being a Nazi because I lived in Germany.  Apparently, once you leave Montana, you can never go back…not really.  When I visit now, I enjoy the company of my family, I take in my fill of the air, sky, mountains and water (just enough to recharge my batteries)…then I leave.

Home is where your family lives. I’m not sure how many people (if any) voted for this option. It doesn’t surprise me that this option didn’t get a lot of love from my MySpace friends.  Let’s face it: like me, most of you have flown far from the nest and wonder why others have such a hard time with this.  But when you go back to your parents/family, do you feel at all like you’re going “home”?  I do, a little bit.  The act of going to my parents’ house makes me think I’m going home.  I even feel at home for the first few days I’m there. Then I remember I’m an adult and I long for my own house (house, not home) that contains my boyfriend and my cats.

Home is the place you like the most. SO tempting.  Word to the Heidelbergers who voted for this one.  Ahh…Heidelberg. I loved Heidelberg.  I think I can confidently say Heidelberg was my home.  There were so many things about that city that made me happy…so many things that I loved.  “Ich hab’ mein Herz in Heidelberg verloren.”  Very true for me.  When that plane left the ground, I felt as if a vital part of me were being ripped out of my body—a part of me I’ve yet to reclaim.

Please don’t misunderstand. When I left Germany to come back to the States, I was very eager to start my new life.  I was not interested the opportunities the American military community had to offer and I needed to be elsewhere.  I needed to get a job, go to college, date boys whose parents weren’t in the army…  Even though I had all these things to look forward to, they did not make it any easier when I saw the only place I knew and loved shrinking below me.

But can I call Heidelberg my home today?  Absolutely not.  The one thing I’ve learned is that there is no such thing as “going back”.  Montana taught me that.  I do wonder, however, if I ever do make it back, will I finally take back that piece of me that has been missing for so long?

Option E was last place with only one vote: mine.   Home is none of the above. After exploring the options above, I would like to recant that vote.  My new conclusion is this: Home is all of the above.

b. LA, the city, is not my home—but Adam is here, my cats are here, and my house is here.  I enjoy my job here.  When I leave, I long to be back in my house with Adam and my cats.

c. Montana, though I’ll never be able to live there again, is also my home.  A few days in Montana makes me balanced and gives me the opportunity to breathe.  I always miss Montana.

d. I love my parents. No matter where they live, I’ll always have a home wherever my mom and dad are.

e. Heidelberg will never be my home again, but I will always remember how much I loved it and I will always search for a time and place where I can be so completely ingrained in my environment.

…and finally…

a. Home is where the heart is.  What the hell—this can be true, too.  For me, my heart, which I choose to define as “a sense of longing and belonging”, is everywhere and nowhere.  This is the truth.  It is a curse and a blessing.  I will never truly be at home—I will always be disconnected and detached.   And because of this, I have nothing to lose.  I am free.

So I pose this question to anyone who actually managed wade through my post-midnight babble: Where/what is your home?  Does anyone else over-analyze this, as I do?  Or do you think the concept of “home” is far simpler than I’ve made it?

Rain

In LA, people like to whine about the rain.  I guess I’m willing to forgive the whiners because I know that a good chunk of the population lives in LA for the weather,or rather, the lack thereof.  I’m also willing to forgive because it is easy to complain about things that are out of the norm.  But I do not hate the rain.  I love the rain.  Some of my favorite memories came from rain.

Barstow, California.  I was 10 years old.  Solid sheets of rain were violently rattling our sliding glass doors.  A river of red clay flowed down the street.  My mother and I were curled up in the living room—each on a couch, each with a blanket, and each with a book.  The storm was the kind of storm that only happens in the desert: angry and wonderful.  The two of us listened and read.

Dillon, Montana. Perhaps I was 11 or 12 years of age. I was quite proud that I made dinner of macaroni and cheese for my grandmother and me.  Outside was a beautiful summer storm.  The clouds were an amazing shade of deep blue—a color I’ve yet to encounter again.

Hecla, Montana.  I don’t remember how old I was.  My cousin and I were huddled in the tent with a flashlight, giggling in the middle of the night.  We counted the seconds between lightning and claps of thunder to determine how close the storm was.  Grandpa called us into the camper just as the clouds broke open.  The mountain perfumes of pine and sage were strong and invigorating.

Heidelberg, Germany.  I sat on the bank of the Neckar, not far from O’Reiley’s, with my parents, my closest friends, and the entire city of Heidelberg to watch the burning of the castle.  No one minded the rain.  We watched the castle burn through the falling rain and enjoyed the fireworks that followed.  I felt lucky that day—lucky to be with my family, lucky to be with my friends, and lucky for the rain.

Heidelberg, Germany.  I was 19 years old and working a desk job for a university.  The summer before I moved back to the States, one particularly humid summer day yielded to beautiful summer rain.  The drops were plump and heavy—the kind that hit ground noisily and splashed.  I snuck away from my desk to stand in the garden and let the rain wash over me and cleanse me of oppressive summer stickiness.

I could go on…

Gluhwein at the Weinachtsmarkt tastes even better when it rains.

In Virginia, the rain in late fall washes the colors away, as if the artist wants to start with a fresh canvas.

Architecture in Paris is no less beautiful when the sky is gray and dripping.  On the contrary, it shines with a different kind of splendor.

And in Los Angeles, just a couple short days of rain in February brings naked trees back to life, makes brown lawns green, and blesses us with a few days of clear, smog-free skies.

I love the rain.