analyze that

I'm pregnant, and in a mall. There are hundreds of strollers parked outside the shops. Realizing I'm going to need one, I look them all over, trying to decide what I like. There's a dog treat in each one, which I take for Chaucer. Then I remember that I don't want children, the strollers disappear, and I wake up.

my super power

Last year, Mason invited me to spend Thanksgiving with his relatives in Fresno. It was the first Thanksgiving since both of our dads had died, earlier that year. Since he had family to return to (the same aunt's house he's been eating turkey at ever since he can remember) and I didn't, I was adopted for the day by his. They were lovely and welcoming to me, and I thanked them by managing not to break down in tears until I got in the car to go home.

Ah, the posthumous romanticizing of the family experience.

Perhaps the best thing to come out of that day was my friendship with one of Mason's uncles, this handsome guy. That's Uncle Bill. And right about now, he's probably blushing, because for whatever crazy reason, Uncle Bill took a shine to me, and became a reader of this dumb little blog, an erstwhile pen pal, and a capital f Friend. He doesn't miss a post, and often emails me thoughtful, funny responses to what I've written, one of which I printed out and tucked into the corner of my mirror, so I can read it every day.

I don't want to casually or cheaply drop a phrase like "father figure", because wow is that problematical and pat and overly facile and all kinds of things I don't want to characterize my relationship with UB as. That said, it's been really nice to have someone older and wiser checking in on me, as I stumble through life, because for as much as I love and miss my dad, there were some serious deficits in our relationship, which I'll probably feel keenly until the day I die. For one thing, I can tell you he certainly wasn't reading my blog and chiming in with the occasional bit of guidance. My dad was many wonderful things, but a fan of my writing he was not.

Bill has followed my romantic adventures with interest, amusement, and at times, concern. (No one likes to see their friends get hurt.) When October rolled around and he saw how attached I'd gotten to LeBoyf, he said I should bring him with me back to Fresno this Thanksgiving. This invitation was co-signed and ratified by Mason, so I got to spend yesterday in the company of my three favorite men, among other wonderful people who treated near-stranger me and my complete-stranger +1 like family.

There was champagne, thrust into my hand within a minute of walking in the door, and lots and lots of wine. There were aunts and uncles and cousins and kids and a Pomeranian-Chihauhua mix named Tiny, who let me hold him in my lap long as long as I liked. There was turkey and glazed ham and everything you'd want to go with them, including my second taste of Aunt Janie's Lemon Lush pie.

I didn't sleep much the night before, so I wasn't at my best. I was overtired and overly emotional, and Bill's kindness and warmth - and his stories of working as a young man in downtown LA, a mere block from where I live today - put me over the edge more than once. Thank god for kitchen-adjacent bathrooms, to which a girl can beat a hasty retreat, splash some cold water on her face, pull her shit together, and return to a table full of laughter and love and just feel fucking grateful to be there.

I've said it before but it bears repeating. I suck at so much in life, but apparently my super power is making incredible people care about me, despite my not deserving it half the time. I came out of yesterday determined to do a better job of giving back the consideration I'm shown by those who know the absolute worst things about me, but love me nonetheless.

I guess that's kind of how family works, anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends. I hope you guys were lucky enough to spend it with your favorite people, too.

the week in absurdly sweet shit leboyf did

I hope you guys know how much I love writing stuff to entertain you, or that you at least find relatable. It makes my week when someone takes a moment to let me know I've written something they've enjoyed - you have no idea how much so.

But every once in a while, I put something up that's more or less just for me. This is one of those posts. Please bear with me, because I really am trying to be less one-note, I swear. But LeBoyf made and sent me all of these, with pics he took himself, and holy crap it's all just too awesome not to share and celebrate. I'm just so grateful.

Amazing, right? And then there was the afternoon I was experimenting with Mextures for the first time, and sent him this:

And I got back this:

So I bounced back this:

And in return got this:

This is the kind of thing I am on the receiving end of lately. Stupidly lucky girl is stupidly lucky.

pure promise

Because there'll be a moment a few short weeks down the road, when you'll be hit with a wave of happiness that rips your breath away and leaves you wide-eyed and wondering. Walking down Broadway, just past sunset. The shops still open, glaring fluorescent light and racks of t-shirts spilling out onto the sidewalk. Rush hour pedestrians file past, some catching buses, some catching your eye since it seems like everyone feels it - the high of this November chill, finally, the holidays around the corner and optimism seeping out of our pores in spite of ourselves.

In spite of our uglier natures, our jealousies, petty rivalries, insecurities and rootless anxiety, we all get moments like this. Joy grips your soul, your best friend by your side. He knows the scents and sounds and his prancing gait suggests your mood has infected him, too. And you don't want to go home. You want to stay out in the busy streets, the comforting bustle you've missed for months. So you'll roam, Youth Lagoon on an endless loop, using the dog as an excuse to stay out later than you should, because there are things to be done. There is progress to be made.

But it's intoxicating, the simplicity of just this single, amazing hour of your life. You're alive and well and healthy enough - and you're in love, shamelessly, with no reservations, no "if onlys" to hold you back this time. It's wide open and it's yours and cynicism has nothing to do but hide in the corner, cowering, unwelcome. Though you know better than to actually do it, you'll want to dare life to do its worst, because you feel untouchable. This is the space you know, though it's eluded you these months, waiting for you to exhale. And when you do, releasing the fear and worry that robbed you of nearly a third of your year, the breath back in is pure promise.

on saying no

Growing up, I wasn't allowed to say no to my father. Rather, I was, but I was punished for it. Not physically - not ever - but emotionally. I wasn't allowed to say "Dad, I can't" or "No, Dad" without feeling some negative repercussion. Anger. Disappointment. Shame. Guilt. Ultimately, as I perceived it: a loss of love, to some degree. Maybe not every time, that's probably unfair to say. But enough times that a pattern formed and stuck in my head. Eventually, we worked it out. Eventually I was adult enough and confident enough to lay down some boundaries and be honest about my limitations. I reached the point where I knew taking care of myself had to come first, and I got better about internalizing my dad's feelings when I had to say no to him. It was never completely resolved, but it did get better.

But because of that, I grew up being afraid to tell people no. I grew up terrified that telling people no would result in the revocation of their friendship or affection or kindness - in the loss of their love. So even if I wanted to - if I needed to - say no, many times I wouldn't. And I'd go along with something, feeling put out and resentful and frustrated. Or I'd say no, but instantly feel all sorts of shitty emotions in anticipation and expectation of someone's anger or disappointment.

I still do it. Saying no to someone I care about still activates all of this. I'm still afraid of the loss of love, of the punitive reaction I felt so many times as a child and teenager (well past, even). And it damages me, and it damages my relationships. I say yes and end up feeling a loss of control, a loss of confidence, resentment, frustration, and anger at myself. I say yes and secretly resent the person I've said yes to, for putting me in the position - I feel - of having to say yes. The effect is exacerbated hugely if I decline somewhat weakly or passively, but then the person turns up the pressure. Come on, Ellie. Because then I absolutely have to say yes (so I think), and then boy do I ever have an excuse to be resentful.

I feel this resentment because I try to never, ever, ever pressure someone into something they don't want to do, expressly because I know exactly how awful that feels. I wouldn't want to make someone feel the way I did when I said no to my dad, and had to suffer the pain of his rejection. I wouldn't want to trigger that fear, for them, of a loss of love from me. And so when in turn they don't anticipate my fear, I get really, really angry at them. But I don't express it. Hell, I don't even realize it, at the time. I don't think I ever realized it until tonight. I just stay wrapped up in crappy feelings that don't go anywhere, because I don't know what to do with them.

It's crazy, I understand now, for me to feel this way. My friends tell me no all the time. They're busy professionals with full lives; they can't always make the dates I propose. And when they say no? I don't even think twice. It doesn't hurt my feelings remotely. I know they love me and want to see me, and 99/100 times they bounce the invitation ball back to me a week later. That's normal and healthy and I never once worry that because they've said no, that they don't like me anymore. And yet here I am, unable to say no, because I don't trust them to keep loving me, the way I keep loving them.

It's ridiculous. But now at least I understand it.

Tonight, LeBoyf went to a friend's super fun scavenger hunt birthday party. I was supposed to go, too. He very emphatically wanted me to come. But I found myself, this afternoon, utterly exhausted and cranky, due to my inability to say no to lots of other fun stuff that's been going on all week. Some of which I know I should have said no to, but I didn't - because I was afraid of being loved less.

And so, due to my own unwillingness to say no to some things in order to say yes to others - tonight I found myself sitting at home alone, feeling frustrated and sad that I was missing out. It's good that I didn't go; I really am worn out and wouldn't have been a good party participant. But I spent the better part of the evening feeling lonely and bad.

So unnecessary. But that's the last part in the cycle I keep enacting. Say yes (out of fear of loss of love) and keep saying yes until I've depleted myself completely, and have to miss out on something really special. And I never understood until tonight what this is all about, and where it comes from.

So that is what I learned about myself on this Saturday night, when I could have been having a grand old time running around town following Instagram clues (so cool!) with my awesome and loving boyfriend.

8 or 38. Sometimes it's hard to tell.

shape and use

Two friends were walking together when one paused to shift the weight of something on her shoulder. The other frowned. "Why don't you drop that?" he suggested. "You'd get further faster."

"Because it isn't a burden," she replied. "It's a shield."

Her companion seemed confused, so she continued: "One is a problem to be solved; the other solves a problem I don't want."

After a moment she added, "Only when it's in your own arms do you know the shape and use of what you carry."

The two set forth once again, taking care to set their pace to one another - as friends do.

the week in silver linings

1. I return to the orthopedist, this time for a pinched nerve in my shoulder. I am told I have a 97% chance of it taking care of itself within a few weeks; otherwise it'll be time to talk about an MRI. All I hear is "There's a 3% chance your shoulder is fucked and will require surgery. LOL forever at your broken body" and am beside myself with worry.

Silver lining: A flexible, plastic model spine sits on the counter in the doctor's office. While we're waiting, my companion manipulates its vertebrae into a ventriloquist performance of The Beach Boys, to distract me. I am reminded how incredibly nice it is not to have to face scary medical stuff alone. 

2. Chaucer accidentally rips my fitted sheet while dreaming.

Silver lining: I take the train to my favorite bedding store to shop for a replacement, and my first solo subway trip since breaking my foot feels amazing. I'm massively relieved to be mobile and independent again after so long. I will never again take for granted the basic ability to walk. Like, ever.

Secondary silver lining: my 135lb dog runs in his sleep and that is just damn adorable.

3. I am called an idiot, a moron, and sanctimonious - by three different individuals.

Silver lining: I can see where I've probably been a bit of each, and reflecting on how doesn't kill me - and in fact makes me feel strangely good, as if the people I've disappointed expected more of me. I guess it feels like a compliment of sorts? Being held to a higher standard seems like a good thing. 

4. I drop my debit card on the way out of the grocery store. Within fifteen minutes, the lucky new cardholder has gotten him/herself a smoothie and $200 worth of electronics.

Silver lining: I was totally bored with that card number, anyway. The CVV in particular was lamesville.

5. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Missing my mom like whoa. Best cook ever, to begin with, and her Turkey Day spread was nonpareil.

Silver lining: Myself and a +1 are invited to return to a friend's family's home in Fresno for Thanksgiving (same wonderful place I went last year). The number of things I've got to be thankful for feels like it jumps to +1 billion.

conflict and dialogue

Conflict stormed into the room and crashed about wildly, breaking windows and glasses and hearts.

Some fled, terrified of getting cut. Some crept closer and saw themselves reflected in her mirror finish. The show didn't last long, though; Dialogue took her down with just one shot.

the right things

currently at step 7

eHow to Wash A Duvet using an eFucking eJoke of an eAppliance

1. Stuff duvet in Super Efficient washer/dryer combo, for 30 minutes of washing. IMPORTANT: Do not start wash past 10:00 PM, as the five minutes of continuous wall slamming that occurs during the spin cycle may annoy neighbors.

2. Set Super Efficient washer/dryer combo to 90 minutes of "drying" time.

3. Wait 90 minutes. Repeat step 2.

4. Wait 90 minutes. Repeat step 2.

5. Transfer damp duvet to bathroom and drape over shower door.

6. Wait 8 hours.

7. Transfer now dry duvet to couch/chair, glancing at it occasionally over the next 36 hours.

8. Return duvet and comforter to bed and engage in ten minute, three-way duel with bedding items in attempt to correctly assemble them.

9. Collapse, victorious, onto slightly stiff, heavily wrinkled, but relatively fresh duvet.

Total time investment: 49 hours, 10 minutes

in the door

Well fuck you, then, because really I was just sitting here minding my own business, feeling pretty good in fact, for reasons you wouldn't understand, because it's your job to make people miserable.

It's a box. It's just a stupid pink box, sitting on my kitchen island. I didn't look through it. I'm not a fool. It's way too close to Thanksgiving. I only took it down last night because someone who is still here and alive and with me wanted to see what I looked like as a kid. That's the only reason the box is out.

So I showed him. And he smiled. And I saw that smile, alive and warm on his face right next to me on the couch. Did I mention the alive part? And I leafed right past all the other pictures, I didn't even glance at them. It's November 7th.

But they're there in the pink box, which is still sitting on the counter, right in my line of sight, and that's enough. That's all it takes, for you to get your foot in the door, isn't it? You sneaky fucking bastard.

Fuck you, I'm going to bed. 

be always

HardFest Day of the Dead 2013: A Post In Four Parts

PART THE FIRST: Text Messages

4:51 PM

We're forced to split off at the security checkpoint since I have a VIP ticket and his is general admission. I get in before him and we text while I wait.

Me: Haha, your Foursquare check in.

Him: :) Shoulda snapped a photo of us.

Me: I'm gonna drop my bag in the locker. Meet me by the main sign, it's all lit up.

Him: Bae I feel like cattle. Mooooooo bae.

Me: It's hilarious, right?

Him: Totally.

Me: Did you see the Amnesty Box?

Him: No, where?

Me: By the second security check. I would love to see someone use it.

Him: Haha, they should put one up at slaughterhouses. ASPCA protest installation idea.

Me: I don't get it.

Him: Wait me neither. I thought cows could claim amnesty?

I don't answer. Busy taking a pic of this enterprising young man:
That is some next-level thinking right there.

5:17 PM

Me: Are you still in line for the bathroom?

Him: Yeah. Picked line with a bunch of chicks. Insert Bad Luck Brian meme.

Me: Put your arm up. Just I so know what line to stand behind. 

LeBoyf raises le arm

Me: Never mind, see ya. 
        Over your left shoulder. :) 

Him: Raise your arm if you're suuuuure. #wereold

Me: By the way... *send cheesy two monthiversary collage of pics of us*

Him: I love you bae. I love bae. 
         Beyond Amazing Ellie. 
         Bouncing Around Ellie. 
         Be Always Ellie. 

PART THE SECOND: Fragmented Highlight Summary

Warm up with Cut Copy. Wander, take it in. Our first fest! Stop to randomly dance and goof, feel uh-maze-ing. Eric Prydz blows my mind. Just perfection. Dance, cuddle, rest, repeat. Cozy in spite of the cold. PDA bordering on obnoxious - no, yep, def obnoxious. I love that you dance facing me instead of looking at the stage. -Well, yeah. There's nothing to see on stage. Dude pushing buttons. This is our dance party right here. Bathroom break me, bathroom break him, bathroom break me, bathroom break him. Meet me behind the ferris wheel. Overhear a kid say "grandma alert!" as he walks by me. Heart stops. Turn and see elderly woman a few feet away. Heart resumes beating. Moments later, chat up a couple in their 50s. In costume. Totally adorable, totally having a blast. Tell LeBoyf about them. Aww, you should have made them wait to meet me! Chilling in the disco tent. Blurry selfies. Okay, look all emo and young and 21. -Oh my god I look awful. So much for waterproof mascara. Make fun of shirtless buff dudes dancing in groups, eyeing girls they don't approach. Bro, spot my dance move! -Ahahaha, you have to tweet that. -If I get a good pic of them I will. (I don't.) Pretty Lights blows his mind. Finally, the finale - Deadmau5! Doesn't really do it for him. Me? LOVE LOVE LOVE. Dead of love for Deadmau5. Tricky, playful, sneaky beats to the point of almost being annoying - but then he drops it and ohhhhhhwowww. Thrilled to have seen him live. Yay!

PART THE THIRD: The Fruit Punch Flavored Water Bottle Mystery 

"How do you get the top off of these things?"

"I don't know. Maybe the top thing doesn't open. Maybe you just have to unscrew the cap like a regular bottle. Here..." 

...five minutes later...

"Weird. Yours tastes all sweet, but this one just tastes like regular water."

"Let me try... Oh my god, babe! I think they refilled this one with tap water!" 

"Oh they did not, stop it. It was sealed, remember? I twisted it off for you." 

"Then why does it taste like plain water when the bottle says it's fruit punch flavor??"

"I don't know. Maybe it was a screw up at the factory. Here, I'll take it, you take this one."

"No, don't drink it! There's something wrong it it!"

"Oh my god, it's fine! I don't care. Come on, let's get back to the stage."

...on the subway home...

"Ohhhhhhh." *reads bottle* "You twist the cap to release the vitamins! That's why one tasted sweeter than the other! The flavor comes down like this..." *demonstrates*

"That is the dumbest, most overly complicated and unnecessary product I have ever seen. And at HardFest of all places. Who the heck is going to be in their right mind to follow those directions?"

"Ahahaha, we are dumb."




Today I went to a music festival, and while I was waiting for a set to start, a really sweet kid I was standing next to chatted me up. We killed time talking about music and LA and Halloween, and he excitedly busted out his phone to show me a picture of him and his boyfriend, dressed as Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. They won a costume contest in West Hollywood, and that's no small feat.

When there was a lull in our conversation, he said, "Here, I'll give you a bracelet." He held up a wrist covered with half a dozen orange and white beaded elastic bracelets. "Do you know how to do the thing?" he asked. I did not know how to do the thing. I didn't even know what thing he meant.

Apparently there's a little bracelet-giving ceremony at festivals, where you put your hands together in a series of poses, and say things (which I don't remember exactly, but stuff like "friendship", "peace", etc.), and then lace your fingers to slide the bracelet from one person to the other.

I about died, it was so cute.

And that was not half an hour after a girl who noticed I was low on water wordlessly handed me her own full bottle, smiling and gesturing for me to pour some of it into mine. A complete stranger.

Saw some incredible sets (finally saw Oliver! crazy fun hearing MYB live, total sunset dance party), discovered some new-to-me artists (Cirez D*, whose stuff I didn't like online but WOW so great live, Kavinsky, Benoit and Sergio), but those were the nicest moments of the night.

*Who is actually Eric Prydz. Did not know that. Fancy.


Retired Mommy Blogger Settling Nicely Into Nursing Home

HOLLYWOOD, FL -- In what his wife described as an "inevitable conclusion to a lifelong horror show of dysfunction", 43 year-old Turbin Tildon spent the afternoon helping his mother Dee, a retired mommy blogger, settle into Shady Acres nursing home Saturday.

"Isn't this nice, Mom?" Turbin asked, his dead-eyed smile tight with long-suppressed resentment. "You should be as comfortable here as I was living the first year of my life in your walk-in closet."

Appearing enraged and refusing to speak or make eye contact, the elderly Dee - whose blog "Oh, Dee! Lightful Days and Twinkly Nights" publicly chronicled the embarrassing misadventures of Turbin and younger sister Calliope - sat rigidly on her new single mattress while Turbin arranged framed pictures on the dresser. "I'll put the collage of me crying when I couldn't find my favorite toy truck right here. Remember when you posted that for millions strangers to laugh at? Haha, that was a popular one!"

Sources say Tildon, a successful writer whose recent autobiography "Rageview$: Recovering From a Life Online" ranked #3 on the New York Times bestseller list, is more than wealthy enough to provide in-home care for his aging mother. "All the money in the world can't buy back what he really only ever wanted from her," his wife sighed, shaking her head sadly and watching as Turbin unpacked Dee's collection of e-devices.

When asked how often he planned to bring his young children to visit their grandmother, Turbin laughed bitterly and looked away. "I need to go speak with the director," he muttered. "They spelled my name wrong on the sign-in paperwork."

At time of press, Mrs. Tildon was inquiring staff as to the availability of wifi in her room.


And before anyone cries foul, stay tuned for my self-deprecatory follow up piece: "Area Ex-Boyfriend Relieved To Be Out of Blog Spotlight". 

challenge accepted

The man asleep in my bed knows I'm awake. He's getting used to the routine. We go to sleep together, but only one of us actually gets there. The other one lays quietly for a couple of hours, restless and thinking. Reading on her phone. Mulling over potential blog posts. Sometimes she gets up and writes them.

The man in my bed has inspired a lot of writing lately, not all of which has been good, I know. Believe me. These haven't been my finest hours, as a blogger. In my defense, it's been like trying to pull solid, coherent strands of thought from a brain swirling with molten caramel. It's a big, hot, sticky sweet mess up there. I'm trying to find ways to express my experience that are relatable, or at least entertaining. But I know I don't always hit either of those marks. I get it. I'm the girl who uses tortured metaphors as a category, after all (also stream of stupidness, navel-gazing, and self-pity). Who titles posts "Schmooping," because she knows that is precisely what she's doing.

Further in my defense? The man asleep in my bed is the first person I've met in a long, long, long time who has said, in no uncertain terms, that he's not going anywhere. That I am safe to fall as deeply in love with him as I dare, because he's got my back (his phrase). "I'm in this," he likes to say.

When I buried my dad last year (so to speak, anyway), along with him went the last permanent relationship I knew. That was it. I have no other family. My mom died a few years before that. Sandwiched between those two losses was my divorce - another loss. A huge one, really, in terms of emotional stability, and what one thinks one has to rely on, for the rest of one's life. So it is really exciting to me, to have found what my instincts are telling me is someone I can count on to be a part of my life for a good while, and in a really healthy way for a change.

Ah, fuck it. If you haven't figured it out already, this post is a no-longer-veiled reaction to some criticism I came across, about how one-note and teenage I've sounded lately. And please, seriously, this is not a rallying cry for support. I've got an embarrassment of riches, as far as support and positive feedback goes. This is just me feeling stupid trying to write some generalized-yet-pointed thoughts, realizing it just sounds defensive and weird.

So yeah. I'll just directly address the critic who feels that I'm being a broken record, about my new relationship. And in addition to what I've already said above (which I hope reads as one part mea culpa, because I know the writing hasn't been tight, and one part sincere plea for understanding), I'll just say this: Yes, I know about hormones. I know about all the wonderful chemicals my body is being flooded with these days. Neurotransmitters. Absolutely. But the man asleep in my bed isn't just another wrong-for-me dude that I'm mooning over, because I want someone to love. There've been a series of those over the past year or so. The man asleep in my bed doesn't tell me, like all those other dudes, that he just wants to "keep it casual", and then back up those lovely words by being unavailable, inconsiderate, and disrespectful - by treating me like an option.

The man asleep in my bed is sleeping there because almost every night - and it would be every night if I allowed it - he circles the streets near my building, looking for a parking meter that he can only use until seven a.m., meaning that he has on average six or seven hours to sleep before having to get up in the cold and the dark, to either go feed the meter, move the car to a paid garage, or head home/to work. I think I mangled that attempt to explain: the man in my bed greatly inconveniences himself, on an almost daily basis, just to spend time with me. And rather than complain, ever, about the shitty parking situation that comes with dating me, he rather expresses gratitude for getting to see me.

The man asleep in my bed took me to a concert tonight, despite looking at an exhausting day of travel and work tomorrow. (This isn't surprising or out of character for him. He often squeezes in time with me on days when he has multiple work commitments, even if they're spread across different parts of town.) During one of my favorite songs, standing in the packed orchestra pit of a massive auditorium filled with ecstatically dancing, singing, costumed attendees, he put his forehead gently against mine and held me. He closed his eyes and stopped moving, so I did the same. And for a minute, we just stood like that, stock still, just feeling the vibrations of thousands of people around us, listening to music being played feet from where we stood. He just pulled us away like that, like magic, because it was a moment he wanted to make with me.

So sure. I'm old enough to recognize the symptoms of infatuation, as you wrote. But I'm also old enough to recognize loving behavior, being demonstrated regularly, by someone who wants to make me feel cared for. And that shit is fucking awesome and exciting and what I have been dreaming of for a long, long time, so yeah, I want to talk about it.

All this being said - I am grateful for the kick in the pants, where my writing is concerned. I know I'm not always at the top of my game, and it's good to be nudged by someone willing to call that out. How else am I going to improve? So I will try to vary my subjects more, in spite of feeling very excited about what's happening in my love life. And I'll try to sharpen it up, when I do write about it.

Challenge accepted.

p.s. For the record: he found me. All the credit goes to him; all the dumb luck, to me.