IG blocking

I'll explain more when I have time but real quick: if you happened to notice you were blocked by me on Instagram, please don't think I'm upset at you or anything like that at all, and please don't be offended. After setting my account to private, I went through and manually blocked almost a thousand people last night. In fact, even though my follower count shows around 280, that's false; it's actually closer to ten or fifteen.

Again, I'll post about why I did this shortly but for now, please don't think twice about it! Just Ellie and her weird social media shit, and nothing whatsoever is changing here on elliequent. :)

another 72 gone

There is clearly something wonky with the time/space continuum, causing summer weekends to speed up. I suspect matrix aliens*.

Friday: Little Tokyo with Ross and Kerry while Terence pulled a late night shooting (something very exciting that I unfortunately can't brag about on his behalf - yet!).

Saturday: Watched Terence perform in a Hollywood Fringe Fest play; afterward we went for cheesy pizza and even cheesier piano jazz at Miceli's.

Sunday: Slept obscenely late and invited the pup into bed for some intense weekend cuddling. Finally got up, destroyed a baguette from Les Noces du Figaro, then wandered around town in pursuit of a decent Lambrusco for Sunday dinner with friends. Didn't find one. They didn't complain. Black and white pasta with shrimp, gnocchi, ricotta cheesecake and tiramisu. Lotsa laughs and celebrating.

Weekend sights:







Here's hoping the matrix aliens get it right this week and speed up Monday through Thursday, amirite?

---

* Please don't ask me to explain what matrix aliens are or how they operate. It pisses them off.

the difference

Every once in a while, someone will ask why I write so often about my father and so seldom about my mother. This can be awkward, particularly since the someone asking is me.

My mom and I had a "difficult" and "complicated" relationship. The scare quotes aren't to mock; they're to acknowledge the nebulousness and overuse of two words that, at the end of the day, don't say much about what two people mean to one another. The shorthand works for shallow conversations (and blog posts), but it doesn't get to the heart of why I'm mostly mum about my mom. So I thought I'd explain why it is I rarely blog about her. (Explain to myself, that is.)

When I think about my dad, if I let it, the flood of memories will come fast and furious. I can easily picture him in a hundred different settings, saying a hundred different things to me. Random associations pull me from thought to emotion and back again, and if I'm not careful I'll get whiplash from the ride: the horsehair shoe brush on the shelf of his closet, sitting near a stack of thick, scratchy wool sweaters he used to wear in Alaska when he had the handlebar mustache from those epic Polaroids; I can see that same expression twenty years later and ten states over -- laughing, holding a beer, that dangerous twinkle in his eye when he'd had too much and he'd sing too loud and he'd smack my shoulder with a comradely slap like I wasn't a child at all but a drinking buddy like I wasn't his sensitive and hesitant and people-pleasing daughter but his brother or his son...

And so it goes, ranging as far and wide as I want it to.

But with my mom, there isn't this facility and clarity of reminiscence. Thinking about her with prolonged, concentrated intention - as I do with my dad now and again, to keep him alive and close and familiar - is like swimming out into the ocean, holding my breath, and letting myself sink down beneath the waves...then trying to take stock of what I see. It's possible, but it isn't easy. It isn't easy to see things underneath the blue, which turns quickly to black the deeper I go. Even on the brightest days, when my heart feels full for her, I look at my mother through a wall of water that distorts and disfigures whatever truth is there.

Have you ever stuck your hands below the surface of a fountain or a pool, and noticed the way they shimmer and twist, light and liquid playing tricks with their shapes? That's what it's like, remembering my mom. She's both the light and the liquid and my shimmering, twisting hands. I can't make out what's reality and what's trompe l'oiel.

Why is this? Simple: We just didn't know each other very well. We began our slow withdrawal from one another when I was about twelve, and family dysfunction took as its first victim our preteen-mother relationship (it eventually took a toll on all relationships in our foursome; no pairing was spared). She retreated in her own way, to her own safe havens, and I retreated in mine, to mine. And over the next ten years, as I fled the nest and began to build a new one of my own, her role in my life evolved into something best described as aunt-like. We saw less and less of one another (and one another's homes), knowing less and less of one another until eventually, I couldn't tell you whether she still used the dish set I'd grown up with or if she'd replaced it - or how she felt about doing so. Or how she felt about anything at all. And then another ten years slipped by before we knew it, as if we'd hit the snooze button on our own lives. And then she was gone.

I have to go back pretty far in my mind, to reassemble the collection of various household objects that speak of my mother. There's no horsehair shoe brush within easy reach, leading me to the next emotional totem, and so forth, such that I can resurrect for myself, for you, for anyone, the narrative that was Ellie and Her Mom. Because we stopped writing it. And when two people cease constructing a narrative with one another, they have two choices: they can either quit altogether, and move on with their lives; or, if it's too painful to just leave a void, they can continue to construct that narrative on their own, filling it with whatever stories and facts they need there to be, for their own sanity and peace.

I think that's probably what we both did, my mom and I, for a while. We told ourselves what we needed to about why it happened, and we told ourselves who the other person was, that we no longer knew, but whom we would always love. And I can't speak for her, and she can't speak for herself anymore either - but I know that I'd rather let my version of our narrative float just out of view and out of reach, underwater, rather than tell a story that isn't true. And everything I know about us is tied to everything I know about her, and both sink a little bit deeper every day, no matter how good a swimmer I am. No matter how long I can hold my breath to take stock.

That's the difference, anyway, between remembering and writing about the two people who made me.

cutesplosion

Oh hi there! How was your day? Yeah, it was good? What's that? You saw something cute on the internet? A basket of kittens on Reddit?

That's nice.

TODAY AT THE PARK MY DOG PLAYED WITH A FOUR MONTH OLD BASSET HOUND, AND LATER MY BOYFRIEND CUDDLED A FIVE MONTH OLD NEWPROSHIAN CUTEHOUND* AT THE FARMERS MARKET.










But hey, I'm sure that kitten gif was really cute too.

**drops mic**

---

* not AKC-recognized

underground

A couple weeks ago, early on a Sunday afternoon, I stumbled into an underground dance club. I had no idea that's what it was at the time. I just thought there was a cool, if unexpected, event happening on the outdoor patio at one of the local bars. It's not a place that typically plays electronic, so when I walked by and heard the music, my curiosity was piqued.

The music sounded good. Rather great, actually. And people were dancing - enthusiastically. On a Sunday afternoon. Random in the extreme. Twice over the next few hours, I invented excuses to run errands around the corner, so I could further investigate this intriguing little pop-up party. By the time I did a second drive-by, the tiny dance floor was packed - in the cold light of day - with some of the chillest-looking revelers I'd ever seen in LA. People in shorts, t-shirts, sneakers. People who seemed to care much less about what they were wearing than what they were hearing and how they were moving.

Fascinated, I found a spot on the railing and watched the scene for a while, along with a handful of other passerby. "Do you know anything about this?" I queried of a guy standing nearby. "I've never seen DJs playing here."

He did know, and he explained to me: this was a weekly event that runs all summer in Los Angeles, and has been doing so for years. House music at rotating venues throughout the city. Various DJs. "But this guy's the best," he added. I believed it. The music was incredible.

"How late does it go?" I asked.

"Until ten. But he's only on for another hour," he said, pointing at the man behind the turntables. That was all I needed to hear. I bolted to the apartment to drop off my things, changed into comfortable jeans and a tank top, and headed back to the bar. Terence was in New York visiting family, so I went alone. No problemo: I'm a veteran at going out solo...at night. In dark clubs, where I can slink into the shadows and anonymously enjoy the music. This wasn't night, it wasn't dark, and there were no shadows for me to slink into. If I was going to dance, it was going to be straight up stag and in full view of everyone; including, potentially, familiar faces from my neighborhood.

But that was the thing - the thing that had me gawking from the sidelines, wanting to know what the hell this was - everyone looked strangely solo here. The vibe of the event was less nightclub and more festival; people weren't clustered up in the usual cliques and pairs one sees on the dance floors of LA. They were all just sort of floating about, mixing it up, as if they had all come independently with the intention of just dancing to great music. And everyone was into it. Like, really really into it.

I got myself a drink and hovered around the perimeter. Delighted. That's the word for what I felt, even just watching. It was such a casual, comfortable crowd, and they all looked to be having the time of their lives. Also? Diverse. I'd never seen anything like it. It's not a complaint or a criticism, but most of the clubs in LA are pretty homogenous. Here there was a strikingly wide representation of age, ethnicity, and orientation - the one common denominator being a clear love of the music.

It was fucking awesome. In fact, no lie: for a split second, I actually thought maybe I'd died and this was what heaven was like: a big dance party with people from every walk of life, giving zero fucks about anything other than the music.

Eventually, I sucked up my shyness and joined in. And I had a blast. It was just such a good vibes crowd; no one was there to impress, no dudes scamming on girls, no scenester bullshit. I met some really cool people, too: a twenty-something couple that was boycotting Pride (they feel it's become too commercialized and expensive); a flannel-clad, barefaced woman - forty if she was a day - who had by far the best moves of anyone; a fifty+ dude who neither stopped smiling nor dancing for the entire three hours I spent there. Near the end I did have a slight run in with a pushy kid who didn't understand the meaning of No thanks, I'm good, but overall? Great, positive energy and fantastic music.

Before I left I had a short conversation with one of the DJs who told me more about what this was: an underground dance club that holds different events throughout town, all the time - this was one of their more public offerings. The only reason it was here, tonight, was that the scheduled venue fell through; it was a last-minute booking. Was I on Facebook? That was the best way to keep abreast of future goings-on (for the weekly public events). I told him I wasn't, not really, but that I would manage to check it out anyway. Then he told me the name of another website to Google. And Google I did, later that night. And oh boy, was I tickled when I found myself reading the mission statement of an invitation-only, semi-secret dance club to which I applied for membership (I had to fill out an ironically rigorous online form detailing the when and how of when I was invited) and to which I was accepted, and for which I am now in possession of a legit, bar-code having membership card that arrived by post a week later. Hot damn.

So now would probably be a good time to acknowledge the obvious, and that which Mason said when I told him the story: "Um, isn't the first rule of Underground Dance Club that you don't talk about Underground Dance Club?" LOL. Yes. Yes, it probably is. And yet here I am blogging about it. Coupla things: the website is pretty minimalist and low key, and makes it clear the group's distaste for velvet ropes, bottle service, and other scenester baloney. But it's also a public website, and not particularly hard to find. We're talking Lincoln Tunnel underground, not depths-of-Moria underground. And from what I gather from subsequent conversations (because, yep, I've already been to another event), it's less about being exclusionary than it is about hyping the club up for the fun of it. I mean, money and a lot of thought has been invested into these materials, which, CIRCLE OF TRUST, PEOPLE, Imma show you a bit of now:



Awesome, right? Too fun, getting that in the mail. I mean, glassine envelope? Star confetti? Rad. And better yet, there's since been a ZOMGwork-ish development the details of which I'm keeping mum about in my usual way, but involves me getting to do a bit of writing! And show attending! Woo to the hoo!

And that is the humpday report from Neverland, where we don't grow up until they pry the hot pink membership cards from our cold, dead hands.

whoa.

Tried to take a selfie Saturday night, while we were waiting for the train to go see Blackbird Blackbird. Not sure how I managed it, but I guess I accidentally uploaded a picture of my mom instead?



She used to tell a great story about that headshot, incidentally. She'd gone into the city (she lived on Staten Island but worked in Manhattan) to have some modeling photos taken. Before she left home, she applied false lashes (thus achieving the utterly obscene bedroom eyes seen here). But she wasn't familiar with them and didn't put them on right, so they gave her some trouble - particularly on the windy ferry.

And apparently, she'd agreed to a first date immediately after the shoot (this was before my dad). So by the time she got to cocktail hour, the glue of the lashes was a sticky mess. She said she had to excuse herself to go to the bathroom so she could rip the damn things off before continuing the date (still looking killer I'm sure).

Anyway, she'd have gotten such a kick out of this side-by-side.

the ides of june

Nice moments lately:

Killing time in the train station. Shows at The Orpheum and King King. Drinks at Casey's, a backyard BBQ, and the Make Music Pasadena street festival. My second-annual Bon Anniversaire crepe, cashing in a Burke Williams birthday massage, and the faces that I love so very much.






Boring, sorry, and not much context. Just trying to keep the ol' phone uncluttered, and wanna remember these days. Into the squares they go!

what I'd say

My dad was an engineer. As a kid, I didn't really understand what that entailed. I only knew it meant lots of tools, lots of curious-looking devices, and lots of hours logged at a basement workstation tinkering with them. I learned very early on that my dad could dissect, reassemble, and explain anything with an electronic pulse, though such explanations were lost on me - less because of my young age and more due to the fact that I am not mechanically inclined, at all. That bit didn't land a spot on the DNA he passed along to me. Probably got bumped off by his dry humor and temper. Those I got in spades.

Nevertheless, I liked being down there, in our musty Michigan basement, near him while he worked away on various mysterious apparatuses. I'd color or do crafts (little known fact: clay and pipe cleaners predate Pinterest), blissfully immersed in my childhood creativity while he soldered wires, or calibrated dials.

One day I showed him a drawing I'd done. I feel like I was about seven, but of course I can't be sure. I remember having used the new "neon" set from Crayola, and for some reason, I'm pretty sure I'd drawn a family of aliens. In my mind's eye I see oversized, brightly glowing heads and gangly, striped bodies. (Insert joke about future psilocybin use here.)

Anyway, he made a huge fuss over my picture. It was the greatest thing he'd ever seen, etc. etc. In fact, it was so good, he wanted to share it with others. Would I make copies for his friends and employees? 

He didn't mean on the Xerox machine. 

My dad was asking me to replicate, by hand, some random, throwaway drawing I'd done just to pass the time. And though to an outsider it might sound weird, or like he was making some inordinate demand of his child, it was actually the highest compliment he could have paid me. And, brilliantly, it would keep me busy and quiet for at least another couple of hours.

I got to work immediately, invigorated by the challenge. I don't recall if it was then that he sweetened the deal or later, but at some point he added that rather than just give my art away, he'd sell it. Ten cents apiece (or some similarly trivial price). 

To this day I remember what the stack felt like in my hand, when I turned it in: triumphantly thick, the paper waxy from crayons I'd worn down to nubs. And I remember him doling out a dime or a quarter here and there over the next week - my earnings from the sale of limited edition reprints.

For all I know he shelved the lot of them. For all I know he kept one and threw the rest away. For all I know he didn't even keep one. But it doesn't matter. What matters is how he made me feel that day, about myself and my creative efforts. What matters is what he taught me about valuing both.

I can't call my dad today. I can't wish him a happy Father's Day and catch up on our respective domestic vagaries. I can't confess to him all the secret things I don't tell you guys, or even my best friends. But I know what the conversation would sound like, anyway. I know what I'd say if I could.

candle counting is for suckers

I don't want to let my birthday go by undocumented, but there isn't a whole lot I can write about it that doesn't sound like an eighth grader's diary entry. It was really fun! I love my friends!  But it was really fun, and holy hell do I love those people, all of whom traveled at least an hour to come for the weekend. Some of them collaborated on Mason's surprise visit (I had no idea he was flying in from AZ). Some of the pooled together to send Terence and I to HardFest in August. Some of them chipped in for a table at Avalon to see Dirty South. And some of them printed up and framed a photo from 80s Prom Night for me. We spent days goofing around at various pools and nights goofing around at various bars. I spent twenty minutes collaging the pics that can be shown, so here's hoping they give a good idea what it was like.
That was really fun! I love my friends! Got a hundred on my pre-algebra quiz!

pulse

Recently I came across a definition of loneliness that had me scratching my head: It's what happens when we stop expressing how we feel. I didn't understand that at first. Loneliness to me has always been about, simply, a sense of isolation. I never considered how it relates to self-expression.

But I get it now. Because whenever I go a little while without writing, a feeling begins to settle on me that tonight, I realized is exactly that: loneliness. I start to feel disengaged, angsty, lost. And it is a kind of loneliness, because it's me separated from myself - at least, the part of myself of which I am most accepting. So even while I feel secure and happy in my relationships, loved by my boyfriend and close to my friends, there's a dollop of alienation sitting on top of it all, just because I've lapsed on doing the dumb little thing I do, here on memyselfandI.com.

The quickest way for me to feel normal again, obviously, is to just fucking write. Write anything. But sometimes I fall so behind on things I want to write about that I get overwhelmed. I freeze up in the face of the entirely silly and self-conceived blogger's stress of Posts Which Must Be Penned. And I get blocked. And before I know it, dust is collecting on my latest entry and friends are emailing to check for a pulse.

So this is me holding forth my wrist. I swear there's still blood flowing in it, among other things.

Tentatively titled posts in the pipeline:
  • In Which My Best Friend Panhandles His Way Into My Birthday Weekend
  • Dispatches From An Underground Dance Club 
  • Concert Reviews: Eels & Blackbird Blackbird
  • WTF, Thyroid? 
  • Did You Know My Cute Boyfriend Plays Guitar? Haha, Just Kidding, Of Course You Did ...But Seriously, Look At These Pics of My Cute Boyfriend Playing Guitar

Backatcha soon.

door / table

The living room windows are open right now, so my apartment is filled with noise. I can hear the hum of generators on the surrounding rooftops: a long, slow, windy whoosh accompanied by the clacking of something come loose. The machinery is old; we occasionally see technicians poking around with flashlights in the dead of night. Fixing, adjusting, cranking dials. Setting things in order for the safety and comfort of tenants in the buildings below. Beneath this ever-present din of automation is the sound of traffic. Snippets of horn and siren; the deep whine of an accelerating bus.

If I were to close my windows, and if I were to stop tapping the keyboard long enough to cock my head towards the source of it, every few seconds I'd hear another sound: the crackle of glass breaking. The glass that is breaking has been doing so for three days straight. It is the frosted glass panel fitted into the door that separates our bedroom from the rest of the loft. And it is breaking because on Monday night, I lost my temper and slammed an upright clothes steamer against it, shattering it into what I presume is now a thousand-odd pieces. They were getting pretty small already when we carefully taped it up in a sheet of wrapping paper, and by the sound of it, they haven't stopped forming yet. 

The sound I've been hearing these three days is a tiny ping! of the sort you'd get from gently flicking a fingernail against something hollow and smooth and thin, like an empty champagne flute. At first I thought it sounded like tinfoil being crumpled. And maybe it did. Maybe the tenor of the breaking changed as the splinters spread, due to some relationship between gravity and pressure that I could hear explained a hundred times but never understand.

We watched it for several minutes, when it happened. All the anger and tension evaporated out of the room, replaced by pure fascination at what I'd done. We peered at it from a foot away, then two, then three, as we became convinced that any second, the whole panel was going to give and collapse, raining glass down on our feet and across the floor. We knew we had to do something, but the sound and the sight were too captivating to look away quite yet. The door snapped and popped as it fragmented into a random, spiraling puzzle. Terence kindly pointed out that it looked pretty, like stained glass. I was just grateful the subject had changed.

In the kitchen, at a safe distance, with Chaucer cordoned off behind guitars and chairs, we strategized. I put my arms around my boyfriend, feeling ridiculous and ashamed and furious at myself. "Is this a metaphor for our relationship?" I joked, weakly. "No," he said. "But how we fix it is." He vacuumed the few splinters that had escaped upon initial impact; a bullet-shaped hole towards the top of the door showed just how little glass was missing. "This would make a great play, actually," he said. "The entire time, the audience is just waiting for it to fall. Can you imagine the tension?" I could. His comment made me wonder whether I shouldn't try to write a short story similarly plotted, and I spent much of the evening distractedly ruminating on what the rest of such a story could entail. Eventually I'd decide there was no way the event could be anything other than a blog post. A great big arrow pointing at me, labeled Idiot. The small print would read: F- in Anger Management. 

After much back-and-forthing, we decided the best stopgap measure would be to wrap the entire thing. Poster boards wouldn't cover the whole panel, Saran Wrap or foil would be too difficult to maneuver around the hinges, a bed sheet wouldn't be large enough to span both sides, and butcher paper was impossible to procure at such a late hour. So, wrapping paper. We stuffed a sheet under and around the door to minimize the mess in case it gave while we were away, pulled on shoes and jackets, and walked around the block to the all-night Rite Aid.

Face to face with the rack of wrapping paper options, the comedy of the situation set in. We considered, knowing we might well be looking at several days or more of a gift-wrapped bedroom door until maintenance was able to secure a replacement. "Pick your three favorites," I said, figuring we'd have some overlap in our choices. Without hesitating, Terence reached down and grabbed a roll from the Characters Kids Love section: Bert and Ernie on a bright blue background. The thought of having to stare down a pair of muppets every day and night as penance for my stupidity made me smile. "Though I guess this would be more fitting," he said, tapping a roll scripted with Happy Birthday! over and over in a loopy cursive font.

"Is that supposed to be funny?" I asked, rhetorically and with no malice. I'd been hoping there would be something in a solid light green, to match the frosted glass we were going to cover. But the plainest choices were various wedding papers: off white, lightly embossed - Rite Aid's classiest wrap. We ended up choosing a striped silver pattern which offered the most square footage. We hadn't thought to measure first.

Back at home, the glass was pinging and splitting, though still hanging snugly in the door's wooden frame. Terence unrolled the paper, draping it from the top down, while I tore off strips of masking tape. When we were finished, we stepped back to admire our handiwork. I remembered once pranking a hallmate in college with a gift-wrapped door. I wondered whether I had any ribbon laying around, to complete the look. 

That was Monday night. Neither of us has submitted a work order to the leasing office yet.  

Tuesday evening, I was sitting in the tub when Terence came into the bathroom to keep me company. It was dark except for the light of the office building next door, which crept in invasively, stopping just inches from my body. "What do you think the difference is, between couples that make it and ones that don't?" 

He sighed. "Well, what do you mean, 'make it'? What constitutes making it?"

"I don't know," I confessed, because I didn't. "Ten years?" He didn't have an answer at first, and we just sat quietly in the dark. Then he did have an answer. Something about connection, and always being able to get back to a place of mutual respect and love.

There's a metaphor he came up with a few months ago, about our relationship being like a table that we can pile things on - good and bad - but that remains a sturdy constant underneath it all. "As long as we always have our table when we clear everything else off," he'll say, "we're good. Our table is really strong. It's really fucking strong." He talked about the table that night, in the bathroom. And I talked about how sometimes I get so angry, so unbearably angry, that I flip the table and everything precious that it holds. (Well, I didn't say that exactly, because honestly he's much better at the table metaphor than I am - but that was the gist of what I was saying. Owning my awful, ugly anger.)

"Yeah, but what happens after that?" he prodded, and I knew the answer he wanted, which is the true one, and which I said. 

"I apologize."

"Exactly." And he went on to say that doing so made it right, or made it better, or showed I was making an effort, or something generous and forgiving along those lines.

"Do you think I could just stop it?" I asked. "Like, stop being angry, ever? Just stop right now and never be that way again?" (I was speaking very softly by this point, because I was trying not to cry.) He put his forehead against mine and said yes, he bet I could - but that it's okay to be angry. That we're human and we have strong emotions and things happen. And I thought of our gift-wrapped bedroom door and how unnecessary those particular emotions were, and I felt very, very grateful that he saw it that way. 

And then my boyfriend - who sometimes bears the brunt of a temper I don't talk much about but that sits inside me like a hungry animal - stopped making excuses for me and climbed into the water, even though I like it much hotter than he does.

And that is what happened in the days following my birthday.