February tunes

Have you been too busy lately to dig around for cool new tunes? I got you fam.

Here's what's new to me, and awesome:











slightly dirty sweaters

I was watching an old woman knitting on the subway today, when suddenly she dropped her yarn. It rolled a good five feet, unravelling on the dirty floor of the train; everyone's eyes were drawn to the bright red ball.

Someone nearby handed the yarn back to her. She nodded a thank you, and brushed it off before taking back up her knitting needles.

She couldn't possibly have gotten all the filth of the subway car off of it. The dust and debris will be woven into whatever sweater or scarf she was making. Something no less sweet for the accident suffered during its creation.

It is impossible to always give love that is pure and untainted with mistakes or misapplied intention. Slightly dirty sweaters still keep us warm, though.

cumberland house

Despite all the reasons I give him not to, my friend Cameron still tolerates me. Despite my flakiness, my selfishness, my inability to ever match what he puts in - his friendship is constant.

Do you want to know what he gave me for Christmas? It's pretty amazing. He found one of the few untarnished memories I have of my childhood, boxed it up, and sent it to me so that I could experience it again, with more visceral force than I could about handle.

We were talking one night in early December when we discovered a commonality between our mothers: an obsession with Department 56 collectible villages. This was my mom's big thing, back in the day. Every year she would buy a house, or a church--the post office, or the city hall. And the accessories. Miniature Rockwellian people, frozen in friendly ceramic smiles and stiff-armed waves. Tiny glowing street lights and spiky plastic trees. Shredded white wax paper for snow. Everything was wired with lights, making for a cozy, twinkling little town to be gazed at over a cup of cocoa.

My mother battled depression and alcoholism, mostly losing. This made her unavailable, to say the least. But something about the holidays brought out her best, most loving self. She'd take me to the craft store for felt and pipe cleaners, glitter and pom poms. We'd sit cross-legged at the coffee table well past my bedtime, designing schlocky ornaments to hang proudly on the tree.

All this to say that when I think of my mom at Christmastime, the darkness with which I associate her recedes, and I see her at her warmest and brightest. I loved my mother most at the holidays, and I felt her love strongest.

When Cameron and I realized our Department 56 connection, we compared notes. I told him that I'd never forget my favorite piece: the New English-sounding Cumberland House. It was a two-story Colonial with a sloping brick roof and double chimneys. Spearmint green boughs adorned four majestic columns and a string of colored lights dipped down to side-by-side wreaths. It was a masterpiece of symmetry, an aesthetic which by then I already loved.

You know where this story is going, of course.

Cameron looked online, and found quite a few Cumberland Houses for sale. None of them would have reached me in time for Christmas, though. (What he really wanted to do was show up at my door with one, but that wasn't feasible this year.) On the 23rd, he happened to look on Craigslist Los Angeles. There was exactly one Department 56 piece for sale. It was a Cumberland House.

He reached out to the woman selling it and explained his shipping/timing predicament. Wondrously, generously, she agreed to wrap it and drive it from North Ridge down to LA and deliver it to me at work--on Christmas Eve.

One of the best parts of the whole thing was the reaction of my coworkers. Everyone was super intrigued by the little dragon label on it (an inside joke of ours), and impressed by the size of the box. And I felt pretty fucking special getting a special delivery. I was utterly clueless as to what it could be, and stared at it curiously on the train ride home.



And then when I did open it, well. I told him it was like unwrapping a lightning bolt. I actually cried out.



I wish my mom could have seen that moment, could have witnessed me experiencing an emotion thirty years in the making. But then that's why it's so important to cherish the ones we still have, while we have them, right?



And that's something I certainly didn't appreciate, thirty years ago.

some of what counts

There are only so many times in life that someone will see who you really are and love you for it. Only so many times you will be known in the way that you want to be.

There are only so many times that someone will thank you, deeply and genuinely, for something difficult you did. Only so many times you will feel appreciated for what is, in fact, really hard work.

The poignance of this rarity hit me like a wave Sunday night as I was walking home. I'd had two such moments that day. One in which I was seen, and one in which I was thanked. Quiet, private moments with people I've gotten to know a little bit, and respect. It didn't hit me until I was off the train and almost back to my apartment how lucky I was.

Life is short. Moments like this are finite. Connections between open-hearted, communicative people who will see and appreciate one another are few and precious.

When you find someone like this, hang on to them for as long as you can. Find ways to give back to them what they've given to you.

Trust me: the further you get along this road, the more you will realize that this, more than anything, is some of what counts most.



she is like a cat

She is like a cat.

She is like a cat that you desperately want to call your own, for a little while.

You put out food, hoping to lure her close.
She takes the food (and is grateful for it).
Then she slinks back out of reach, jumping on the fence, balancing one foot in front of the other.
Never looking down, or left, or right.

From this distance, in this light, she is glorious to you.
Radiant fur, shining amber eyes full of heat.
She must be so soft. She must be so warm, to hold.

You want her to stop circling your legs.
You want, finally, to feel her climb into your lap.
Then, oh then. What you would do.

We both know what you would do.

And she would stretch herself luxuriously, under your touch.
And you would hear her purr, which is as rich and loud as you've imagined.

But also, after a little while, you would notice that she is not that glorious.
You would feel the grit in her fur. (She's been outside a long time.)
You would see, up close, that the shine and heat in her eyes is actually low-simmering fear.

And then, maybe, you would stop feeding her.
And she would feel the pinch of hunger more keenly than you would feel the loss of temporary pet.

That is why it is hard for her to trade your legs for your lap.

Not that she wouldn't.

Not that she won't.

Pride and Compromise

Pride and Compromise went walking together in the rain, not paying much attention to where they were headed. Suddenly the pair found themselves in a heap on the ground, a tangle of mud and limbs. Neither was sure how they ended up that way, but each secretly thought it the other's fault.

They spent a few moments sitting in the dirt, frowning at the mess they made. Then Compromise stood and offered Pride her hand. "I'm sorry," she said humbly. "These clumsy legs of mine! It must be quite a challenge to walk with me." Her words were cheerful, if heavy on the tongue. Once they were out, however, it was her heart that felt lighter.

Pride nodded primly, accepting the apology, but offering none of his own in return. "I hope the mud hasn't ruined your dress," he said. "Good evening." And with that he turned and left.

Compromise felt the sting of loneliness that came, as it always did, with arriving at a halfway point only to find herself the only one there. But it was still raining, and rain had a way of washing more clean than just dresses.

a potential cure for jealousy

I've fangirled for The School of Life before, and I'm sure I'll do it again. I don't think the importance of emotional intelligence, humility, and self-awareness (all of which SOL triumphs), can be overstated. And this video about flirting is a surprising new favorite.

Historically speaking, I've been a terribly jealous partner. In 99/100 cases (how sad to think there could have been that many!), the jealousy had less to do with feeling genuinely threatened by an interloper than with facing my own insecurities; I am nothing if not well-versed in and thoroughly convinced of my inadequacies.

Watching a partner get chatted up by someone (that I perceive as) more accomplished, more successful, more this or more that - has always been an exquisite form of torture. He likes her more than me. He relates to her more than me. They have more in common. I'm not worthy, and she's helping to make that clear to him. 

Lovely, I know.

Anyway, this video takes the concept of flirting and makes something really sweet out of it.



I love the idea of a "redistribution" of confidence. I love the idea of my boyfriend - of anyone I care about - getting a harmless dose of it. Feeling just a bit more handsome, or walking just a bit taller after a throwaway conversation with a member of the opposite sex.

It's almost comical how quickly this philosophy of flirting dissolved at least one gnarly arm of my own green eyed monster.

baseline

In October of last year, while simultaneously applying for (and accepting) various writing gigs, I knocked together what I called a "lapsed server" resume. Because before I'd started dancing, in a previous lifetime, that's what I'd done. I waited tables, I worked counter jobs - I even did a brief stint as a barista in a cafe inside of Borders. (I'd also had a few retail jobs, but I passionately hated every one of them.)

It was actually a friend who pushed me in this last-resort direction, pointing to the acting community as an example of creatives/artists doing what they had to, to survive. He was right. It was one of few options I had. If I wasn't going to lie my way into desk job that I didn't want anyway, there wasn't a lot else open to me. At least, not a lot with the potential for decent earnings. I've worked for tips before. I am good at getting tips. For all my character flaws, I am pretty personable.

So I pitched myself as someone looking to get back into hospitality after years of working for herself. A friend who has made a fantastic career of high-end serving helped me write a creative, clever, and sincere resume that I felt good about. Actually going out and applying with it - now that was a truly humbling experience. If there's one thing I learned last year, it is that LA does not give a fuck about anyone's career expectations, whatever that career is.  LA is a city full of hungry, hustling people. Even the most basic serving jobs are shockingly competitive.

After bouncing around interviewing for a couple of weeks and spending two horrible days working at a "mom and pop" sandwich place run by an angry control freak, I got lucky. A spot opened up in a restaurant pretty much exactly where I was hoping to land. The exact neighborhood and in fact the exact location in that neighborhood.

Now, I've thought a lot about whether I want to share where I'm working. I've had the experience a few times now of strangers recognizing me (or Chaucer, hilariously) from my blog and stopping me on the street to introduce themselves. And don't get me wrong - I find it flattering and for the most part a really cool thing.

But I'm not so sure in this case. The idea of someone coming by my work just to gawk, just to see me in all the un-glamour of waiting tables...that isn't particularly appealing. Not that any of you would. But I've had some freaky social media encounters over the years, and some less-than-positive attention directed my way. (As I myself have put less-than-positive vibes out into the world.)

So while I'd love to throw myself open to local readers and say, "Come say hi!" - I can't.

Suffice to say I work in an extremely popular, very trendy place that is almost always busy, with multiple vendors and restauranteers in a single space. Celebrity chefs. Laid back atmosphere. Sustainability and ethical sourcing. All in a neighborhood that is rapidly rising in popularity and price. Employees like myself - lots of twenty, thirty, and forty-somethings with "other things" going. Artists and musicians who wait tables or work registers to keep themselves afloat while they navigate concurrent creative lives.

And I love the job.

The money ranges from good to truly spectacular. It's largely a location, location, location thing. Which is not to say that we don't offer great stuff, and have a solid reputation. We do. But our real estate is prime, considering the target demographic.

And I love the people I work with. It's taken some time to really bond with everyone (thoughts on why that is to come in a future post), but I'm there now and it is wonderful. Coming to work is a pleasure. No stress, good energy, easy, and mindless in the best way.

Timo calls this my "baseline" job. That's a good name for it not the least because, perhaps unsubtly, it reminds me that serving is not my end goal. And while it has been a massive relief to have reliable income with a regular schedule (in fact I have pretty much the exact days/shifts I requested) for a few months, it's definitely time to get back to pursuing my own concurrent creative life.

So I'll talk about where that's at, next.

in which I set a porklord straight

The view count for my last few posts has been approximately ten times what is typical. I tried to dig around and find out why, if maybe my blog had been mentioned somewhere big or something. But I'm not seeing anything. So I have no idea what's driving all the traffic, but hello to anyone new!

I did, however, see that someone had added to the SOMI thread about me on GOMI. And I tried to log in and just reply there, but for whatever reason, clicking the "Click Here to Post A Response" button doesn't do anything.

Which leaves me two options. Ignore the post, or reply to it here. Here's the post:


It is of course entirely possible that Headpat Junquie knows someone that knows me IRL. The world is small. But I haven't really socialized a ton in LA, other than with my small, long-standing group of friends. Also, I only started working outside of my apartment early last year. So I dunno. Possible but improbable, from where I'm standing. Then again, who knows.

But oh man. The idea that at my age I could still be dancing? I mean...thanks?

Alas, those days are over. I do have a job, which is what I actually logged on tonight to blog about, until the curiously high numbers distracted me. But it is not dancing. Far from it.

Re: the "pretty disastrous choices" - really not much I can say to that. Indeed I have made some lousy decisions. Dancing for way too long. My marriage. The abusive relationship in Tucson. Moving in with Terence. Not working for years. Lots of big lessons in those mistakes. Lots of compassion and gratitude and perspective gained, too.

Anyway, just wanted to set the record straight. The only dancing I do these days is in front of a stage, not on one. Fully clothed.

Way less profitable, but way more fun.

the mirror of lack

There once was a girl with two mirrors in her room. In one she saw all that she was; in the other, all that she wasn't.

The girl looked in both mirrors every day. The first showed her someone lovely, with grace and poise and laughter in her eyes. It was easy to smile at this reflection, and to turn from it with her head held high.

But in the second mirror was a face drawn with reproach, and the heaviness of disappointment. This image left the girl feeling shot through with shame. Not for having done something wrong. Just for not having done enough.

One day, with the shifting of seasons, she noticed the light that came through her window no longer hit the second mirror - the mirror of lack. And though she tried, she could no longer make out the inadequacies she'd once beheld there.

It seemed obvious what to do next. Because how many mirrors does one need, anyway?