weho

I would like to disclaim, first and foremost, that I am drunk, drunk, drunk. Drunk blogging. An experiment. Because why not?

I haven't told all of you why I blog, and maybe someday I will. But I'll tell you right now, drunk as I am, part of how I try to blog, anyway.

Can we pause to give Ellie credit for managing to find the italics button, just then, drunk as she is? Thank you. Ok, continuing.

When I was in college, don't remember what year, kind of dragged the whole thing out to be honest, one of my creative writing teachers told me something that stuck. She said, Your writing should be a gift. You should always be giving a gift. No matter who your audience, or what your purpose. You should give something of yourself, she said. Or just find a way of expressing your idea that's particularly fresh, or funny. Innovate. Work hard to give a little extra, to your reader. Be vulnerable. Be smarter than they expected. Reveal something. Teach something. Share something beautiful.

That's what she taught me.

And for what it's worth, whether or not I'm hitting the ball, that's what I'm aiming at, people. I want to give. God, I fucking love writing. Do you know, that when I'm not writing, all I'm doing is thinking about writing? All day. That's all I think about. Things I want to write.

I'm drunk. And yet, all I want to do is write.

Tonight.

My friends.

I love them so much I could just cry. I am so lucky.

WeHo. Silliness. Laughter, so much laughter.

My dearest, darlingest Benji is going away to Bali soon, in just a week or so. I've not told you much about him, but he's amazing. He came to LA from Vancouver, looking to get work as a clothing designer, and do you know what he did? He basically walked in to the company he wanted to work for, bearing nothing but an incredibly intricate leather jacket that he'd created, and said, This. I can do this. Want to hire me?

And they did. And that's how he came to be here. He's so goddamn talented. And now he designs their clothing line. He also oversees production of it, in Bali.  And he designs high-end leather pieces for celebrities, which? Fun! Also, I get to sometimes be his fit model, which is far less glamorous than it sounds. It just means, lately, that I trek my ass over to the shop in the 90+ heat to try on some piece of clothing, hoping I'm not sweating too badly by the time I get there, so that he and his boss can see it on A Real Live Girl.

God I am so drunk.

Tonight. WeHo. Fubar? Micky's. The Abbey. Eventually, Akbar. Silliness and laughter and dancing. I love my friends so much. Benji is going to Bali until January, and I don't know how I'm going to survive without him. Already missing him like cray.

I want to be more coherent right now, I really do, but I can't. I'm exploding with feeling and thought and love and gratitude for the life that sometimes kicks my ass eight ways from Sunday.

And now, to reward those of you who slogged through this mortifying mess of a post, I'm going to get up, find my charger, and upload some absurd pics from tonight, before I sober up/lose my nerve.



Not that. That's not absurd The only thing absurd about that pic is how my dress is blousing out to make my breasts look like lactating double Ds. Here we go:



Yes, did you enjoy that? That's your blogmistress, hanging off of a light pole, in West Hollywood tonight, for laffs, just before the bus came to take us --- fuck, I don't remember where. Are you as shocked as me that I remain single, in spite of these obvious skills? UPDATE: Oh goody. Ben just sent me a third pic I didn't see before, best by far. Going to add it and size these bitches down, though, because good grief.

I make so many mistakes, every day. I do so, so much stupid shit. Constant self-sabotage. But the one thing I am really goddamn good at is making and keeping amazing, loving, brilliant, funny, and wonderful friends in my life.

I have to pass out now. Huzzah.

untold

The kindness of strangers is a source of joy for me. It can completely turn my (bad) day around. Making a small connection with someone - a brief exchange of politeness, an unnecessary extension of consideration, even a passing smile - is like seeing a beacon in the dark. Hey, hello. It's a rough, ugly world, huh? I feel it, too. It's a secret, whispered. Psst, you. You and I get it. Feels good, right? To slow down and just enjoy being a social animal for a minute or two?

Often I am surprised by someone's kindness. That's the best. The intimidating, bored-looking Kinko's employee who I am sure is fed up with my repeated ineptitude at the fax machine (I've been there three times in one day, each time misdialing or requiring his assistance) suddenly announces to no one in particular that he can't wait to go home, kick his feet up, and have a bowl of ice cream. I glance around the store. There's no one else in it. He's talking to me. My anxiety and embarrassment over looking like a Luddite melt away, and I smile at him. "Yeah? What kind of ice cream are you gonna have?" A minute later, I'm showing him cute puppies in my Instagram feed.

Or the overnight security guard, on watch over the racks and piles of filming equipment, who reacts with delight when Chaucer noses up to him where he sits. It's two am and there's not another soul around. The next thing I know, he's pulling out his phone to show me the Shih Tzu puppies his wife just bred.

Puppies seem to be a theme here.

Sometimes I think living in downtown has made me fall a little bit in love with people. I want to be around them all the time. The more average and boring their jobs seem to be, the more respect I have for them - and the more I want to draw them out and hear about their lives. I would love to do a creative project, about the people who work here, in the heart of the city. One part photographic, one part written. Where do they come from every day? What do they do, every night when they leave? I think sometimes there's a sense that downtown "belongs" to the people that actually live here - or even to the white-collar professionals who spend their well-heeled days in the city.

But I bet there are probably some very fascinating untold stories, on these streets. I just don't know if I'm the person anyone wants to tell them to.

tetherball

I've taken up a new sport! Tetherball. It's so great. Of course, you can't play by yourself; you need a partner. Mine is always the same.

We stand across from one another (not side by side), and smack the everloving hell out of a ball. The ball doesn't really go anywhere; it's tied up, so it can't move very far. It just goes around and around, back and forth, from him, to me, back to him again. He hits it, then I hit it. I hit it, then he hits it. And so on and so forth and so on.

Sometimes one of us will swing and miss, and the ball winds up on its rope, tighter and tighter until clang! against the pole - it has no more slack.

So we wait for it to come undone.

Then we hit it some more.

It's an excellent workout, too! Totally exhausting. In fact, on days when I play tetherball, I don't have the energy to do anything else, like write, or think, or feel. I just lay around afterward, dazed and slightly confused as to who, if anyone, won. There's no referee, so sometimes it can be hard to tell.

Tonight the game was especially rough. I slammed the fuck out of that thing. He hit it pretty good, too. Eventually, he had somewhere else to be, so he left. After he'd gone, I took a closer look at the ball. It's taken quite a beating lately. It's torn in a few places, and starting to lose its shape.

So I untied it, brushed some of the dirt off of it, and put it back inside my chest.

I probably shouldn't play tetherball anymore.

defining success

A few weeks ago, my life coach assigned me the task of defining what success means to me. Awesome homework, right? Designing an Ellie-shaped blueprint for my life?

It's an incredibly rewarding exercise, and I highly recommend it. It was like building an attic in the back of my mind, and filling it with ideas that are too huge to keep up front. But I want them within reach, to visit from time to time, to ground and help keep me focused.

I'm not really sure what my coach had in mind - if she was thinking I'd just write a sentence or two, something simple and clear. But there are different kinds of success, and I think it's sort of awful that I never think about any of them. They run parallel tracks, but through such differing landscapes. I think it's worth pulling back and looking at all of it through a bigger lens. Here's what I came up with:

Emotional Success

Being able to walk down the street without a furrowed brow. Being relaxed enough, my head clear enough, that I can handle - even enjoy - whatever unfolds in front of me. I don't know that I'll ever be the kind of person to meet challenges head on; at least, not the first time they rear up at me. Success for me would be more like, well, not hiding in the closet from them. For weeks on end. While I play Words with Friends.

Putting the demons of my past to bed. Forgiving everyone I still feel "wronged" me. Finding and truly feeling compassion for their experience of my relationships with them. Not needing as much external validation. Being an expert self-soother.

Professional Success

This is tricky. And still murky. I'm not on a clear enough path to know exactly what this looks like, in the way that some professionals have specific benchmarks to reach within their field. But I can still identify at least one goalpost: Having a job that either is secure enough in its own right - ideally, thanks to the value I bring to the position - or from which I've learned enough that in leaving, I'm, if not guaranteed, at least likely to find work elsewhere.

Bottom line: being experienced, skilled, and established enough that both my present and professional future are bright.

Financial Success

It's mortifying to admit, because it reveals both my irresponsibility and my privilege in one fell swoop - but I've never had specific financial goals, with dollar signs attached to them. It's high time I did that. I don't want to obsess or stress over money, if I can avoid it. Success to me is being organized with my finances, and more clearly aware of spending. Also, just plain earning money again. This way, when I do choose to indulge, to buy myself something, go to a concert or travel, I can do so without worry - or guilt.

Creative Success

Happy thought: I already feel creatively successful. Creative success, to me, doesn't have any specific parameters, like, say, publish a novel. I get such tremendous joy from the act of creation, whether it's verbal or visual, that I feel like the daily journey itself is success. If along the way, I pick up objectively appreciable accolades or financial compensation, then great. But those aren't my primary objectives. Continuing to create consistently, for my own personal happiness - that's success.

Relationship Success

Loving more simply and wholly than the last time I loved. Continuing to move closer to what's truly important: mutual respect, affection, warmth, consideration. Avoiding my usual mistakes and misgivings; banishing ego, jealousy, insecurity. Having a partner who shares my values, not just my interests. Having honed the skills of compromise and forgiveness.

Personal Success

Immediate goal: Acquiring the skill of making myself do the thing I don't want to do, when it needs to be done. Overcoming a life-long habit of procrastination.

Intermediate goal: Replacing more superficial sources of validation with ones that will endure.

Ultimate goal: Expanding my joy beyond myself, and reaching out. Having emotional "riches" enough that I can afford to "spend" more of my energy on others, be they loved ones or strangers. Establishing a legacy amongst the people I touch throughout my life, so that when I die, I'm remembered with fondness and respect.

next thing's next

Christ, I am so fried. I've been staring some iteration of this (or its innards) for the past three hours:
 


It's nothing fancy, I know, but that's how I want it. Just a simple, clean creative portfolio site where I can show off the MANY MANY HIGHLY MARKETABLE SKILLS I have (lolsob).  It doesn't seem like much, but I had to take a machete to the closest template I had, layout-wise, from Rainy Day.  And even then, ugh - I've gotten rusty. Forgotten so much CSS. I really wanted the sidebar links to be in hover-over bars, but I couldn't figure out how to do it.

I used to know, I think. I must have.

But it's ok. I think this is ok. I made the sidebar fixed, which I really like. When the wall-o-text on that welcome page scrolls up and the basic info stays on the side, I think it looks rully pruffess'null 'n stuff. I think I'm saying I think a lot.

Mucking around with the CSS got me all wistful about designing templates again. I'd love to re-do the shop with all new, very clean and simple designs.

Speaking of - if ANYONE, anyone at all has any outstanding, lingering issues from Rainy Day - technical, financial, whatever - please email me - elliequent {at} me {dot} com. As far as I know, all of those loose ends have been tied up, but it's been a fucking nightmare of a year, and I wouldn't be surprised if I've dropped a ball or two dozen.

wrong left turns

Depression combined with insomnia is like being locked in a room until morning, with some of your favorite and most familiar things. Only, they're all broken, and you have no means with which to fix them.



Optimism: my life is a series of wrong left turns that took me to the right place. Pessimism: every road is a dead end, and I'm out of gas, anyway. Defeatism: fuck it, I'm going to pull over and wait for a tow truck.



Have you ever cooked something that stuck to the bottom of the pot? You scrub and scrub as soon as you're done, but you can't get it clean. All you can do is wait while it soaks, until what's been burned breaks off and floats to the surface. Only then can you rinse it away and cook again.

That's what some breakups are like.



Sometimes I wish there was an afterlife, because my dad would have been chilling in the waiting room with Neil Armstrong, Ernest Borgnine, Nora Ephron, and Phyllis Diller. He wouldn't have been bored.



If you write the invitations in disappearing ink, don't be surprised when no one shows up to your party.

hipstahood: john s. + pistil

From Autumn Lights, at Pershing Square this past Saturday:

relapse

On Saturday, I wake up to a message from a girlfriend. She's thinking maybe let's skip Chateau Marmont tonight, and just hang out close to home. Maybe go to Autumn Lights, in Pershing Square? I reply with passive aggression that I immediately regret, Whatever you want. I'm disappointed. It had been her idea to go in the first place, and I was excited to get out of downtown. Excited to go to a straight bar, for a change. Her boyfriend was going to come, so I could have done my own thing while they did theirs. And I could have had wingmen, for once.

She knows I'm upset and apologizes for changing plans; she's just not feeling Hollywood. I'm not mad, though, and I tell her. I'm just low and lonely and feeling sorry for myself. Distraction, as always, is my drug. And there's only so much to be distracted by, around the same ten blocks I see all day, every day.

I tell her I'll catch up with her and her boyfriend later, but I have zero intention of fulfilling that promise. I'm spiraling down, fast. Hitting a wall, though it feels more like the wall is hitting me. Before I know it, I'm slumped on the bathroom floor. Where the fuck did this come from? I roll around on the rock bottom for a while, absolutely leveled, before it disappears, just as quickly as it came.

It. Whatever "it" is. Something that can't be defined, but that feels more real than me.

It goes, and a shocking jolt of optimism takes its place. Now I'm laughing. Laughing at myself, even. What the hell was I so upset about? It's a gorgeous afternoon, my apartment is spotless, and a surge of motivation hits me. I decide to get pizza, plug into a quiet night at home, and work on my portfolio. Chaucer comes with me, four blocks, to pick up three slices of Two Boots. I'm feeling up, up, up again.

After I eat, I decide to just swing by Pershing Square and check out Autumn Lights. People milling about draw me in, as ever. Chaucer makes friends. I get a quick fix of socialization. 

A friend calls me as I'm outfitting Chaucer with a glow necklace. She can see me in the park, from her apartment window. I look up and wave, and she and her boyfriend come down to check out the installations before walking to dinner. She and I text for a bit afterward, and it helps me feel less isolated, standing as I am, surrounded by hundreds of strangers. I take Chaucer home, but I don't want to stay in. It's Saturday night, and I can hear the streets below filled with shouts and laughter.

I become momentarily convinced that I am the last single person in Los Angeles.

I go back to the park. I play with Hipstamatic and wander for another hour, before sitting on a low concrete wall, smack in the middle of the park. The park lights are all off, and the various displays of lights, LED sculptures, multi-media projections, lasers, blacklight, and glow paints stand out in glorious vividness. A band is playing at the front of the park, the lead singer of which sounds vaguely like Sigur Ros.

I lay back on the wall, place my phone on my stomach, and close my eyes. I feel intensely, painfully lonely. The crazy thing is, I have turned down four invitations from others, to do things tonight. This is completely self-imposed. An acquaintance is in town; he invited me out when we ran into one another on the street, Friday. A friend-of-a-friend invited me to tag along with him and friends to Nocturnal Wonderland this weekend. Another friend invited me to Venice tonight, to crash their guys' night. And my girlfriend, once she realized how bummy I was this morning, re-issued the original invitation to go to Hollywood.

I turned it all down. I have no idea why. Wait, yes I do. Because it all felt very fifth-wheely. Invitations extended out of generosity. What, Ellie? You have nothing to do tonight? You should come...

I'm making one last walk-through, dawdling before heading back home, when I run into him. Rather, he runs into me. I'm watching some kids participate in an interactive visual illusion, when he steps through, momentarily interrupting the exhibit. I'm extending my leg to gently kick him and get his attention when he suddenly notices me. Smiles. A lingering hug. He's on his way to a birthday party, gift in hand. We're not really saying much, just repeating empty greetings, but he's not walking away. I feel myself grinning. I can't help it: from day one, I've broken into a smile every time I see him. It's a hard an impossible habit to break. 

We're standing exceptionally close. I'm fingering the sleeve of his t-shirt, keeping my face cast down, glancing up at him every few seconds. He halfheartedly tells me to stop, his voice low and husky, and wraps his hand around my waist. I laugh, because I have to; it's too much. It's just enough. "Here we are again," I say. "Standing in the middle of some festival, hanging one to one another." I lean closer. He loses his breath, inhales sharply, then lets out a deep sigh. The world feels like it's tipping back into its proper axis. Something, he's saying something. He's been thinking about me today. Is that what he said? Consuming my thoughts. I think that's what I hear. The phrasing is delicious, that I know. But it doesn't matter. I shouldn't listen to these words, anyway. They're candy that melts much too fast on my tongue. A sugar rush after which I'll crash. And crave again.

We're practically kissing, we're so close. His hand moves around to my stomach; he's telling me I look good. I take his palm and place it under my shirt, flat on my bare belly. He makes a noise. All I know, the only thing I can think, is how good he smells, because now I'm putting my lips to his neck. "I still have your boxers," I murmur. "You should come get them later." Now we are kissing, carelessly amongst the crowd. 

I'm being ridiculous, reckless with my own feelings, but it's ok. I feel strangely ok with the gamble I'm taking. What else is there to lose? It's all gone, anyway. And right now I feel more alive than I have in days. The only thing that cuts through the numbness is the feel of his breath on my shoulder. He whispers in my ear, an explicit description of the state I've put him in. I cannot stop smiling, and I don't want him to leave. We finally break the embrace and go our separate ways. As I move through the crowd, I'm convinced my body is glowing just as brightly as the bulbs and baubles they're gazing at.

Back home, I hang Chaucer's oversized, neon green necklace on his door, and text him. I lost my glow sticks somewhere. Would you let me know if you find them? 

Later, connection again. He has new work to show to me, and one piece makes me laugh out loud, the idea is so clever. He also has new music to share, sensual and layered. A soundtrack for the next few hours. The warmth of his touch, his words. I've missed this, he says. You're so beautiful. And the worst, the best, the most confounding and infuriating and satisfying: There's no one else like you. Words, words, words. Words to torture and tease, words that could be truth or lies, words that don't change anything. Sometimes I'm afraid no one will ever love me as much as you do. I lose no time in assuring him that's true. They won't, I say softly, as I move my mouth across his body. I've got words, too.

Relapse. Two steps forward, three steps back. 

9.22.12

There's been a ton of filming downtown lately. Most of the time I get a kick out of it; occasionally it's annoying, like when I'm in a hurry with Chaucer, and they're blocking off access to his Preferred Pee Tree.



I've been pretty obsessive with music lately.  Listening to the same tracks over and over and over until they're coursing through my veins. Three groups in particular:

The Walkmen (Victory, Angela Surf City, JuvenilesHeaven, Song for Leigh, Line by Line, Lisbon, While I Shovel The Snow, Torch Song)
Telekinesis (Dirty Thing, Gotta Get It Right Now, Please Ask For Help, Tokyo)
Chris and Thomas (Broken Chair, You're The One I Want, Horse in The Sky, New Light)

Also - exciting! - I got my ticket to see The Lumineers on the second! Going alone. Don't care.  I could drag a friend, but I know how boring it is to watch live music you're not into.  I'd rather be surrounded by other fans, which I will be: it's sold out (much of the tour is, in fact).

in which I become BFFs with my favorite band (part three)

...continued from here.

The tour bus was what I'd guess you'd expect - huge, well-outfitted, with bunk beds, a kitchen, and a sort of den area in the back.  Ken invited me and Baseball Friend to have a seat with him and the others in the main cabin.  After a minute, he left in search of nourishment, and I found myself chatting up the band's tour manager about, of all things, grocery club cards.

He sat to my right; to my left was an actor I had to Google later, though at the time I thought he looked vaguely familiar. Across from him sat Rhett, eating from a plate he held in his lap - Baseball Friend was next to Rhett.  Ken sat at the kitchen table, along with the girls from Those Darlin's. Murry and Philip were in bunk beds further back in the bus.

The tour manager was exceptionally friendly and gracious, and I genuinely enjoyed talking to him - but the whole time I had a rather distracting inner monologue. Holy Christ, you're in the Old 97s tour bus, sitting across from Rhett Miller.  REMEMBER EVERY DETAIL.  It was a challenge to concentrate on, you know, grocery club cards, while I was straining to hear three conversations at once. I'm a dork, I know. But I didn't want to miss anything. Again, just imagine this was you and these were your all-time favorite celebs/idols/crushes/whatevers.

Rhett and the others were discussing, believe it or not, hilariously and or crudely named sex acts.  (Can you imagine what I was thinking at this point?  I was dying.) Rhett started to explain some particularly crude expression he'd heard, and then interrupted himself on my account. I called him out on it.  "No, no," I said.  "I'm like one of the guys right now. I'm hanging out on your tour bus, for god's sake. Go for it."

"No way," he said, laughing. "I can't.  Not unless you can tell me what a dirty Sanchez is."  And the next thing I knew, the entire tour bus was quiet, and looking at me with expectant smiles.

Yes. This is a thing that really happened.  On September 1, 2012, Rhett Miller of the Old 97's asked me to define "dirty Sanchez" for him, his band mates, his opening act, and his tour manager. On their tour bus. Which Ken Bethea had invited me onto. Hello, Surreal Moment Number Five!

Let's pause for a second and check in with 22 year-old Ellie, shall we?  What's she up to?  Oh, there she is!  She's curled up in the corner of a ripped-vinyl booth at Grill, her favorite (only) 24-hour diner in Tucson.  She's got a butterscotch shake in one hand and a dog-eared copy of Paradise Lost in the other.  Must be Milton final time!  What's that playing on the stereo?  Why, it's Time Bomb, of course.  This restaurant, after all, is where a very sweet manager named Matt introduced Ellie to the Old 97's in the first place.  And he played them nonstop. It didn't take long for young Ellie to fall madly in love with the band, and had you told her that, fifteen years later, she'd be sitting with ALL FOUR OF ITS MEMBERS, discussing scatalogical sex acts, well, it might have made it difficult for her to ace that final. Which she did. BOOM.

Now, back to 2012. Back to the tour bus.

The truth is, I was only 70% sure I even knew what the aforementioned act entailed, so I hesitantly did my best.  At which point, Rhett now had to finish what he'd been starting to say, which he did, and uncomfortably at that.  Still, it was about a thousand times funnier.

Yes, that's right.  That's what I listened to Rhett Miller - the crush of all my crushes - say, in person, a foot from where I sat. That was Surreal Moment Number Six.

Anyway, after a while up front, I ended up sitting in the back den area with Ken and another musician (who does sound for the 97's as well as performing in a few other bands), talking about podcasts.  At some point, Rhett came by to - wait for it - offer me a hit of pot.  Which I took, ringing in Surreal Moment Number Seven.  Honestly, I don't even really like pot any more - I hate the paranoia and thickheaded-ness - but come on.  How could I possibly turn down the opportunity to get high with the Old 97's?  How could anyone?

I didn't stay much longer past that, but they were all very sweet and thanked me - ME - for coming to hang out and break up the doodz factor of the tour bus for a while.  The only bummer of the night was that the pot was so strong that I was nearly incapacitated by it. I staggered about a block before realizing I was too high to even function, much less find the bus or a taxi.

I started to panic, thinking I wouldn't actually be able to get myself home.  I knew A. would be up and probably out, so I called him, and he was sort of life-saving.  He calmed me down, let me know I was going to be fine, and talked me through the seemingly gargantuan task of hailing and climbing into a cab. He made sure I got home safely, and once there, he stayed with me until I stopped tripping (which I was, majorly).

And that's the end of the story in which I became BFFs with my favorite band.  And by "BFF" I mean, another of probably a few dozen fans that, over the years, they took the time and effort to be extra cool to.

Awesome, awesome guys, and I'm a fan for life.

hashimoto

On Thursday, I dragged my ass Yellow Cab conveyed me in relative comfort up the street (literally, right up Wilshire boulevard) to Beverly Hills, to see what hijinks my wacky thyroid has been up to lately.  I had to find a new endocrinologist, because my previous one is in Fullerton (chosen while I was still married and had access to a car) and booked until November, and my thyroid said, Hey dumbass, maybe someone closer can see you sooner.

And I know it was wasteful to take a cab, but I was running late.

It was all kinds of exciting High Drama when I got there, because the staff of four (4) receptionists had exactly zero (0) idea who I was, as they had no appointment listed for me.  Neat!  I showed them the call log on my phone, so that they could work out amongst themselves who fucked up.  I wasn't bitchy or really mad about this, just frustrated, because of the cab coinage I'd just dropped.  But apparently two of them were working on the day I scheduled the appointment, so that didn't solve anything.  They asked me if I remembered with whom I'd spoken.

"Umm, sorry no.  She sounded...Hispanic?  And kind of...soft-spoken?"

All four of them looked at me blankly.

"OK, look, it's really not a huge deal if you need me to come back another day, I don't want to get any of you in trouble if there was some mistake, but I did spend money on a taxi, so can you at least check with the doctor and see if he could squeeze me in?"

They did.  He could.

I loved the doctor.  He's maybe sixty five, very warm and solicitous.  And he wore a purple bow tie. He asked me a few questions about my personal background, and when he found out that I'm a little orphan Ellie, he said, "OK, well I'm your daddy for the next hour."  Oh lord, doc. If I had a dime.

He asked me to step on the scale. "I'm guessing one twenty..." I bit my lip, thinking. "...four?"  I'm usually dead-on with knowing my weight, even though I rarely weigh myself.  And I've been eating a ton of pasta lately.  Off by seven - I came in at 117 lbs.  Then he pulled out the tape measure to get my height and I said, "Just a hair short of five-seven, right?"

"You're dreaming." he replied. "Barely five-six."

What the fuck. I'm shrinking.

The doctor spent another forty minutes with me, discussing my medical history, the tests he was going to run, looking at my lab results from the last endocrinologist.  He told me I have Hashimoto's disease, which, OK, no big deal I guess, fairly common among the thryoid-challenged, but it would have been nice of my last endocrinologist to share this with me.

Eventually, someone took my blood, someone else took my money, and they sent me on my way.

I was a little rattled from the visit - needles and I are NOT friends - so I decided to just walk for a while down Wilshire, and pick up the bus when I'd gained my composure.

Well, the next thing I knew, I was at LACMA.  So I stopped and wandered around the grounds a little bit.  The weather wasn't intolerable and I was wearing comfortable shoes, so I just sort of kept walking.  I didn't have change for the bus, so I walked further.  I passed plenty of places where I could get change, but still, I walked.  I listened to music, played with Hipstamatic, and walked.  I texted friends and walked.

I suddenly remembered that one of my best friends recently mentioned Hashimoto's, so I messaged him.

Me: Did you say you have Hashimoto's disease?

Friend: Hai.

Me: Haishimoto's?

Friend: "Hai" is yes in Japanese. 

Me: DISEASE TWINS!  Hai five!

(friend lols)

Me: Did your doctor describe it like PacMan eating your thyroid?

Friend: No. He said my thryoid was a "gland in chaos."

Me:  Sounds like a Ken Burns documentary.  Gland In Chaos.

Friend: It does help a lot when they get the synthroid level right.

Me: Yeah, my synthroid has been KILLING me.

Friend: LOL, silly.  ...Fatigue, weight flux. All that shit.  Even helps depression.

Me: I AM NOT DEPRESSED.  ...It's just the vapors.

I walked and walked some more, and eventually it became an endurance test.  I decided I was in it this far, I may as well just pick up the train at Wilshire/Western.  And that's what I did.  Dumb, I know. I just didn't feel like getting on a rush hour bus.

Strangely, I'm more bothered by the fact that I'm 5'6" than a Hashimotorist.  I don't know where that other inch got off to, but I hope it's enjoying itself.


Chaucer haz a sad about The Missing Inch, too.

cereal aisle

An elderly, Slavic-looking man with a drawn face is propping himself up against an empty wheelchair as he examines his breakfast choices. The chair partially blocks my path, so I smile politely at him as I squeeze past. I'm staring down a box of Apple Jacks, daring it to keep looking at me like that, when I realize the man is saying something to me.

I pop my earphones out and say, "Sorry?"

"...a fire in the store, they could be telling everyone to get out, and you wouldn't even know." Oh, I realize. My music. He's commenting on the volume which, admittedly, is rather egregious. But he's not crabbing at me. I'm not some damn kid he wants to get off his lawn. He's teasing, and grinning.

"Yes," I wink at him. "But I'd see you heading for the exit and I'd follow you!"

He lights up. "You follow me?"

"Sure!" I nod. "You seem very trustworthy."

With a huge sweep of his arm, he gestures towards the front of the store. "Come then! Let's go!"

I laugh loudly enough that a pair of FIDM girls glances over, before bidding the man good evening and heading to the produce section. I completely forget about the Apple Jacks.

quinceanera

I posted about pulling a dress switcheroo for the quinceanera, but I haven't posted about the party itself. I guess I'm just not sure how interesting parties are to non-attendees? Oh, you got dressed up and partied all night with a bunch of people I don't know? Fascinating. Tell me more.

What can I say? We drank. We danced. We had karaoke kraziness and ate homemade Mexican food (including tequila lime cupcakes). We took turns being made a fool by a pinata that was apparently forged in the fires of Mordor. Some of us exchanged dresses, for lolz.

I really can't shake the squicky feeling I get whenever I post pictures of other people on my blog, but here are some of yer blogmistress, being all classy. EDIT: Ugh, ok, that was too many pictures of me, just cold staring back at me from my lappy.

Here are two. Two is plenty.




A few days earlier, I'd created The Quince Awards, as my contribution to the evening (vs. my usual bottle of wine, to defray the cost of entertaining a bunch of alcoholics). I wrote up instructions, printed up ballots, made a ballot box, and bought some dollar-store type prizes for the winners. And stickers they could wear, that I made in Illustrator and then ran through my Xyron sticker maker.




The stickers turned out to be the real coveted prizes, which totally made the effort worth it. And the whole thing worked out great, since one of my friend's dad's is a musician, and he brought his keyboard, mic, and a bunch of music books for us to have singalong time with. So I got to officially announce the winners, who all came up and made drunken acceptance speeches.

The girls did an awesome job with decorations - streamers, balloons, a personalized pinata, a cotton candy machine, a tequila table, all kinds of candy, and customized boxes filled with favors:





As usual, the full shebang is on my Flickr!

empty pockets

She dreamt that night. She dreamt of beautiful, formless things - vaporous thoughts that gathered tangibles as they spun: scraps of paper, bits of fur, twigs and string - the makings of a new home.

When she woke, she stretched and rose from her bed. She pushed open the window, ready to greet the day, and saw, there on the sill, a pebble. It was smooth and white, flecked with bits of blue. She had no idea how or why it came to be there, but it was pretty, so she put it in her pocket.

Throughout the day, she reached into her pocket to make sure it was still there. It was a small thing, but it gave her pleasure, to roll it between her fingers and know it was hers. That night, when she undressed for bed, she left it in her pocket. She wanted to carry it with her the next day. Then she went to sleep, thinking of her curious, mysterious gift.

Her dream that night was more vivid. Darker. She turned and murmured in her sleep, dreaming of wind. It carried more things to the nest, things she needed - but it carried some other things off with it, too.

In the morning, another pebble sat on her windowsill. Bigger than the first, and solid blue - the color of the sky just before sunrise splits the horizon. Again, she didn't know how or why it was there. Again, she took it and placed it in her pocket, where it clinked against the other. She heard them clicking in her pocket together all day, those two stones. Like two thoughts. Two possibilities. Two outcomes.

And so it went. Every night she dreamt of something growing, changing, and every morning she awoke to a stone outside her window. Some were larger than others. Some were rich in color, and some plain. One by one, she added them to her pocket. She started to notice their weight as she walked. She could feel them against her leg, sometimes comforting - but sometimes distracting, too. She could hear them jostling together with each step she took. She dug her fingers deep into her pocket and gathered them into a handful. But she didn't take them out, and she didn't show them to anyone.

Then, one day, she woke up and there wasn't a pebble on her windowsill. She looked around, wondering why. Maybe tomorrow, she thought, strangely disappointed.

But the next morning, again there was no stone. When she opened her window, there was only the sun and sky and a breeze that teased her hair. She inhaled deeply, lifting her face to the warm light. There were no more stones, but there was still everything she needed, right outside, waiting for her. She knew the trees, the grass, the birdsong - were gifts enough.

She kept the pebbles she'd collected. But when she chose her clothes for the day, she wore a different dress, with empty pockets.

She wanted to have room for anything new she found - or that found her.

hipstahood: buckhorst h1 + alfred infrared

Photo apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic get a bad rap, especially from professional photographers. I understand the arguments, but I can't help myself: I love them. I have a box in my kitchen cabinet that's full of 3.5" square snapshots from the 60's and 70's, gloriously discolored in the way that Hipstamatic pics are. They're my parents' old vacation and family photos, and in their day, I'm sure they would have been considered terrible: carelessly composed, repetitive, random.

They're one of my most treasured possessions.

When I first downloaded the Hipstamatic app, I was addicted. Then I more or less abandoned it in favor of Instagram. But I'm a fickle girl, and I'm back to fooling around with Hipsta again. Something about taking a huge stream of photos in one style before switching films/lenses is deeply satisfying to me. On Instagram lately, I've been absolutely loving the feeds of minimalist photographers like @aldennnnnn and @korin_say, whose collections are cohesive and so clean. Sticking with one filter on IG, or one lens/film combination on Hipsta, comes as close to that feeling as I can get, because I simply don't have the eye that those much more talented photographers do.

I also enjoy Hipstamatic because it gives me a new point of view with which to view a neighborhood that, while I love it, still has a long way to go. Parts of downtown are amazing, and parts awful - sometimes all in the same block. It's fun to really look around with, literally, a new lens. To guess at how particular materials will translate, color-wise, and how certain casts of light will affect those translations. I imagine that's part of the appeal of toy and vintage film cameras.

And I like the analog aspect of Hipsta, as opposed to IG. It forces me to slow down, and to "manually" choose my film and lens beforehand, rather than just instantly snap away with the basic camera function (and worry about choosing an IG filter later). Not to mention - dog walking and Hipstamatic experimentation go hand in hand. Chaucer gets long, ambling strolls around the neighborhood with plenty of sniffing stops while I futz around with my phone. Win win!

Someday I'll move away from this town, and I don't want to regret not having appreciated it while I was here. To that end, I'm tentatively starting a new feature on the ol' blahg: Hipstahood, where I'll showcase what downtown LA my life looks like as seen through one particular Hipstamatic lens and film combo. Just for fun, and just to familiarize myself further with an app that I'm really enjoying again.

First up: the Buckhorst H1 lens and Alfred Infrared film (no flash):







I love how blue pops against all the reds and oranges. There's something really viscerally appealing to me about the fading and the (faux) film blotches, as well as the vanilla frame (which is exactly like the one on my parents' prints). And I like what it does with my skin tone and hair, too. For reference, I was wearing a super bright fuschia lipgloss, and a black shirt:



Hot stuff, no? No, ok, you're right - but the street scenes are pretty, yes yes?