Spooner goes shopping


For my favorite rager. Black Friday without you is just...black. 

buzzy

The only way to top Drinksgiving with friends is to come home and drunkwalk yr. favorite dog (mine is Chaucer) through quiet city streets, softly singing songs he doesn't understand though seems to like anyway.

The neighborhood is empty but strangely cheerful. Christmas lights strung on trees. A tiny, temporary ice skating rink. Everything peaceful and still. No security guard at the library tonight because of the holiday, so Chauc gets unclipped and can roam free, sniffing to his heart's content. Two slinky black shapes scatter but not before he sees them. He gives half-hearted chase for a few steps before remembering that it's pointless. Dogs can't catch cats.

Meanwhile I hang back, wrapped up in the warmth of the evening, buzzy with wine and reflecting on the mysterious cement that is friendship. I'm stuffed with food and laughter and a bit melancholy at the thought that all good things must come to an end.

But nothing good ended tonight.

If I was truly committed I would have stood on the table to get a better shot, I know. But had I done that, my friends would have had me actually committed, so. 

11.27.14

Holidays mess with my head (as they do with everyone's, I know). Luckily I'm a child of divorce. Children of divorce are uniquely equipped to deal with the emotional fuckery that goes along with this season, because the whole paradigm got turned on its head for us a long time ago.

[ ~1980 ]

Parents, Teachers, Media: December 25th is an Extremely Important Day, children. So is the fourth Thursday of November (for Americans). On these days, we gather together and express our love as a family. 

Remember kids, these are very, very important dates. Now sprinkle some glitter on your pinecones to help you commemorate Christmas, which is the twenty-fifth of December, and the day we show one another how much we care. Because it is Christmas. And it is very important. Timmy stop eating the paste. 

[ three years later ] 

Parents: Kids, mommy and daddy are getting divorced. Daddy's moving out. 

Kids: But what about Christmas? If Daddy's not here how will we show him that we love him??

Parents: Christmas is just a day like any other. You can celebrate with him another time!

Kids: WTF??

---

But it's true. A calendar page is just a calendar page is just a calendar page. 1/365 is not a very impressive number. A cheesy but comforting metaphor: the Earth moves around the Sun all year long, and the Sun doesn't love it any less on the days they're furthest apart. It's the same with the people who care about us. Whether they're in the next room or halfway around the planet, they still care about us.

Terence left yesterday to visit family, so it's just Chauc and I until next week. We saw him off outside, Chaucer utterly confused as to why we all weren't climbing into the Lyft car and driving away. I've taken him out three times since, and each time he walked straight to the loading zone where he last saw Terence, stood there, and looked around hopefully. All three times my heart broke and I had to practically drag my human-in-a-dog-suit back upstairs, where he flopped down in disgust on Sharky, pouting because his Bro Dog is gone.

I know I'm dog mom material because a dozen times a day I have to corral ridiculous toys like this back into his basket and every damn time it makes me smile.

Whatever. This sucks. 


On Tuesday night we looked up baggage fees for Spirit Airlines, the carrier Terence booked for his trip. They are laughably exorbitant, but I guess that's the whole Spirit deal. Super pared down, no-frills flights for mad cheap...but crazy add-ons (there's even a fee for printing your boarding pass at the airport). I watched as Terence, breathless and frustrated, crammed sweaters and jeans into an old duffel bag of mine - the biggest carry-on he could bring without getting charged extra.

I felt awful for him, but I was fascinated by Spirit's trollish, zero-fucks-given policy towards customer service displayed both on their website and the automated Twitter account they've set up to reply to complaints. After we saw that there's a $100 surcharge for fliers who don't pre-pay their baggage fees, I made Terence promise to give me a full report on the Spirit experience. And I checked Twitter periodically, because I figured that would be entertaining in a Haha, I'm cozy at home while you suckers are stuck in airports sort of way. My favorite exchange went something like this:

Customer: @SpiritAirlines has airplanes made out cardboard and bubblegum.

Spirit: @Customer Our fleet is young and fuel-efficient!

Customer: @SpiritAirlines Good point. Can it take me to Florida since my flight was canceled and I can't get a refund?

(no reply from Spirit)

Masterful corporate trolling right there.

Terence didn't have any complaints, though, other than my having emasculated him with my accessory offering:


I went to the grocery store and loaded up on food, because even if I'm not having turkey it is my god-given right as a 'Murican to eat as much as humanly possible over the next few days. When I got home I gorged on boxed stuffing and washed it down with an entire bottle of Martinelli's sparkling apple-peach cider. Then Chaucer and I caught up on Colbert Report, did some light housework, and called it a day.

I'm actually going over to Kross's later, so my emo schtick about being alone doesn't really work. I'm convinced that every year my friends get together in secret and hold a lottery to see who's going to take me for the holidays. Kross won (?) this year, so I get to fatten up on Kerry's East Coast-famous lasagne and my own garlic bread. I'm bringing a salad, too, but bringing a salad to Thanksgiving dinner is like bringing pot to Coachella. Get out of the way, pot. I have bigger fish to fry. 

As a blogger, I am contractually obligated to talk about thankfulness today, and while I do eschew sentimentality for sentimentality's sake, what can I say. I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for Terence. 

Not long ago we were in the middle of a knock-down drag-out, and I stormed into the bathroom to fume alone in the tub. He came in a little while later with his guitar and iPad, and sat down quietly beside me in the dark. At first I didn't recognize the tune he was strumming, slowly learning the chords as he read them from the web page glowing on his lap. But then I knew it. Family Friend, by The Vaccines - my favorite track from the last five years. So that's how that fight ended.  

I'm thankful for my friends. I'm thankful for Kross, who hit me up a few weeks ago:

- What are you guys doing for Thanksgiving?

- Terence is going to Denver and I'm going to Disneyland to get myself a turkey leg.

- Who's in Denver and who's at Disneyland?

- I'm kidding. Terence is going to his sister's and Chaucer and I will be home solo. 

- No you will not! You're coming over here to be with Jumper and us.

So rad. I will never get used to kindness like that.

I'm thankful for Kenne and Alfie, another amazing couple who never make me feel like a third wheel, and who came with me to see Booka Shade last month! And the pics are blurry but I duncurr.




I'm thankful for the friends I get to see less often, but who feel like they're right here, anyway, because though our mode of communicating changes, we don't:



(And I feel like a jackass not singling more people out by name but most of my real life friends don't read my blog anyway, and this big self-indulgent thankfest is mostly for me, to refresh my memory when times are tougher down the road and I need a shot of gratitude.)

I'm thankful, very thankful for you guys too. Everyone I know and anyone I don't. All of you who have taken an interest in my life and shown your support either through getting to know me behind the scenes or just by clicking through anonymously every so often. I'm thankful for this outlet and the chance to improve myself as a person and a writer, and it's vastly more rewarding, knowing you're there.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends.

super surpise

My favorite musician took me to see my second favorite musician tonight. It was a surprise he'd told me to save the date for last month...right around the time Rhett Miller announced a show for the 21st in Hermosa "I'm a Fan But Not a Drive That Far Fan" Beach. Still, I was completely oblivious.

Today I hit him up for clues just so I'd have some idea what to wear.


Fucking ridiculous, this guy. Surprises me with tickets to see my musical crush, takes the time to listen to some of said crush's music, then suggests we leave early so we can sit close. Seriously. Seriously

I've written loads and loads about Rhett Miller (and Old 97's), and there's really nothing new I can add tonight. Fantastic, high energy, engaging and funny as always. We did indeed get there early enough to get a table up front, and while it was awesome to just sit and enjoy for once, wow was it hard for me to stay seated. When Rhett asked during his encore whether there were any requests, I shot up like a rocket. But the cover of Robyn Hitchcock's "Cynthia Mask" I wanted to hear is too complicated to play solo (which I had suspected, though I half-hoped he had some kind of minimal acoustic version worked out). 

But he smiled and said he'd work on it. 

Oh darn, looks like I'll have to keep going to his shows.

Stewart Ransom Miller, the serial ladykiller  

My god, save some handsome for the rest of us will you?

Isn't it fun when it takes a flash photo to let you know your top is actually semi-sheer?
Rhett announced that after he changed into a dry shirt he'd be hanging out for a bit signing autographs, taking selfies, and selling merch to pay for a parking ticket. I'm pretty squicky about chasing down celebs, which always feels tacky and intrusive. And after my 2012 Old 97's tour bus experience, I am more than satisfied with my Rhett interactions, anyway. Bragging rights for life, hello. 

But one never knows when one of one's favorite bands will break up. And it's been 20+ years for Old 97's, and Rhett's recent lyrics definitely hint at some burnout. So I decided to take a moment just to thank him for the eighteen years of which I've been a fan. Guess who had to wait with me in line for ten minutes, so I could do that? Yep. Super Boyfriend, who teased me mercilessly as I nervously fixed my hair and cleared my throat. "This is amazing," he laughed, watching me. "You're like a sixteen year old right now." 

And I'd also like to say I had NO INTENTION of taking a pic, because see: bragging rights above, and also, seriously, the guy must be exhausted and just want to get out of there and go to bed. But then there he was and I was tripping over my words and he was all gracious and solicitous and suggesting a pic and Terence was on it like *that* which is a good thing because I had lost track of what was coming out of my mouth, and only snapped out of my daze when I heard Terence saying "I'm so lucky you're married." 

LOL. And Rhett LOLed. And then we left and demolished some sushi at Katsuya before taking the train back home. 

Super Boyfriend.

Super night.

Super surprise. 

39, going on 16

wok this way

Last night on my run I encountered a real life word problem. I wish I could tell my eighth grade math teacher about it, but I didn't even pay enough attention in that class to remember his name, so I'll tell you instead. Here's what happened:

A couple of months ago I came to the realization that my body doesn't care whether I run for an hour or I run for half an hour. After HardSummer I was so burned out on working out that I decided to take two weeks off. Well, two weeks turned into two months and I hadn't moved a muscle. But even though I was less toned from not lifting weights and my goofy faux-pilates exercises, I didn't weigh any more. Whether this is a function of my wonky thyroid or just aging, I don't know. And I don't care. Fine by me.

Anyway, I ixnayed on the onglay unrays, and cut it down to 30 minutes with a break at the halfway point to do some stair lunges.

The place where I do lunges is just past the freeway, in a semi-sketchy area that's not particularly well lit. Most nights I point my phone's flashlight at the steps lest I trip on a discarded fast food container or syringe or a napping rat. Last night it was especially dark - no moon that I could see, and foggy. So I didn't notice the two people huddled together at the bottom of the first of three flights until I was upon them. Oh, hai.

I didn't want to be annoying by going back and forth right next to them, so I figured I'd double up on the bottom stairs instead. Only, I forgot how to math, because I couldn't determine how many times I needed to take that first flight in order to make up for skipping the upper two. Trying to factor in that I'd traverse the top flights when I left anyway caused my brain to make belabored whirring noises and smoke to issue from my ears (hopefully it blended in with the fog). That's when I realized that a) I am an idiot and b) I was in a real life word problem!

Ellie the Insomniac likes to climb a three-flight set of stairs twice before heading home to pen rabid screeds on her blog. If, in her efforts to compare favorably with a Paper Magazine cover model, she is thwarted by a canoodling couple 1/3 of the way down, how many times must she climb the bottom flight in order to reach her goal?

I did three sets on the first flight and called it a day, stepping carefully around the canoodlers on my way back up. Then I came home to scrawl about it, because therapy, and because I have a standing challenge from Terence to do more doodles, even though I am an alarmingly bad artist. (He says I should stretch myself creatively and that the message and intent matter more than the execution. IF ONLY.)



Notes:

1. That is actually last night's correct moon phase. I looked it up. This is the kind of commitment to accuracy you'll find here on Elliequent, folks.

2. No I do not run with an upside down wok on my head. That's a ponytail. (See baby? I told you they'd laugh at me.)

3. Not to scale. But this is! (And much, much more beautiful.)

lessons learned from a silver silk blouse

I've been updating my wardrobe in anticipation of the cold, dark days ahead. No, not winter. I'm talking of course about my forties.

It's two parts purge and one part upgrade (where finances allow). It's saying farewell to a lot of favorites, breaking up with Free People, and accepting the fact that at my age, "boho chic" reads more like "eccentric art teacher." It's slowly integrating pencil skirts and fitted sheaths and bypassing fit-and-flare. It's looking at my current closet contents with a critical eye and calculating the longevity of any new acquisition carefully.

It's not as bad as I thought it would be.

The difficulty of facing fashion maturation growing my clothes the fuck up is offset by the joy they've brought me. The hardest pieces to part with have the richest, happiest histories. I can't begrudge them retirement; they've earned it. Loading iPhoto to find an example, I ended up falling into the rabbit hole of my own recent past. Oh my god, that's right. I wore that dress the night we met those crazy Australian girls. Totally forgot about that. 

And no matter how much I antagonized over my outfits at the time, when I look back at these pictures, they are by far the least important aspect of the memory. I could Photoshop myself into something else entirely and the edit wouldn't alter one word of the conversations I had, or the laughter of my friends. Big fat duh, I know, but for someone who gets a leetle too spendy with the fashun, it's worth thinking about.

There's a silver silk blouse I've been needing to let go of for a while. It's unique, well constructed, and drapes beautifully. But it shows more of my torso than I'm really keen to show these days - possibly than I ever had a right to show. It was the first piece of clothing I bought when I moved to LA, and oh man did I think I was hot shit the first time I wore it out. There is no exhilaration like the suburban transplant's exhilaration of going to a trendy Hollywood club for the first time (at least that's how it was for me). And since that night, I've worn the hell out of that top.

It's utterly replaceable. When it's gone nothing will change. Had I never bought it, nothing would have been different. It's just a shirt. And probably the most useful it's ever been was last night, when I glimpsed it in pic after pic - awesome memory after memory - and was reminded to be grateful for the other people in those photos. Because they're not replaceable.

Forty is around the calendar corner for me, and yeah, I've got some feels about it. But if the next decade of my life brings me half as many good memories as the past one has, I will be one lucky mid-lifin' bitch. Possibly even a well-dressed one, too, though let's not get carried away.

Bad Clothes, Great Times: An Incriminating and Ill-Conceived Goodbye Collage

p.s. In case you're wondering what on earf happened to my hair - those were extensions (in a couple of pics toward the top and one at the bottom). Wore them from late 2010 through 2011. Second worst thing I ever did to my body, after tanning. Ugh. 

free

On Friday afternoon, I FedExed a package containing two checks - the sending of which concludes, at long last, the execution of my dad's estate. I finally finished. The process took much, much longer than it should have, and that's entirely my fault. Somewhere along the way (towards the beginning), I froze. Each step - each document to be signed, call to be made, account to be settled - seemed insurmountable. A towering wall I couldn't even fathom trying to climb. It got so bad that I would have panic attacks when faced with even the simplest task, like responding to a quick email from my attorney. If Terence hadn't helped me with the last few exchanges, I don't know how I would have gotten through.

The emotions stirred up by the whole process were crippling. I felt resentment at having to handle the whole massive financial affair by myself, me who can barely manage my checkbook. I felt anger at my father for the way he'd set things up, obligating me to make distributions to my estranged older brother (not a particularly complicated process, but one fraught with all kinds of deep-seated familial issues). And I felt terror at the thought of doing things wrong. But rather than plow through quickly to get all this negativity behind me as soon as possible, I self-sabotaged and moved excruciatingly slow. It wasn't until I was near the end that I realized why: when it was over, when everything was wrapped up, filed, disbursed, and done - that would mean, undeniably, that he was really gone.

He's been dead for two and a half years, of course. He's been gone for a while.

But while the estate was open, while responsibilities pertaining to my dad remained, some part of him still felt present. As if he was sitting quietly on my shoulder, overseeing. If not guiding, waiting. Expecting. Whether he approved of my choices or not didn't matter. He was with me.

To dot the last i and cross the last t is to set him free.

The swell of relief I anticipated feeling when I finished hasn't come. There's just a matter-of-fact emptiness. Well, that's that I guess. So I'm trying to just enjoy that quietude, the absence of buzzing tension I've lived with since he died. Though on Friday night Terence and I did go to Peking Tavern for some celebratory fried chicken and pot stickers, and that was nice.

Just us two.

little spoon

As a rule, Chaucer isn't allowed on the bed. He developed the habit, in my last apartment, of "asking" to be let up: standing next to the bed and gazing at me pleadingly. Okay, go ahead, I'd say, and he'd jump up immediately. It was so sweet and cute I pretty much never said no.

In our new place, the bedroom is in its own room, and he rarely ventures in there by himself. But lately he's been wanting to get on the bed all the time. It's probably the cold weather. Anyway, I can't even deal with him all sprawled out, massive paws dangling over the edge. When I catch him having snuck up there without permission, taking photos is closest I get to scolding him.



Why yes, I would love to spoon you Chaucer. I'm so glad you asked.

the Jenna thing

NOTE: I know that for most of you guys, this is a big pile of no1curr, dealing with stupid Internet drama going back years. It is incredibly dumb, I am aware of that. But I need to get it out of my system, so thanks for your patience. 
---

A few days ago, a blogger I follow but dislike immensely ("hate read") posted a photo to Instagram of her young children that was, by all accounts, ridiculous. Ridiculously inappropriate, ridiculously lacking in boundaries and common sense, ridiculously attention-seeking. The blogger's name is Jenna.

Jenna's photo received several dozen critical comments, some of which were crass and themselves inappropriate. Many comments, however, were politely worded, thoughtful and reasonable objections. These comments respectfully explained the ways in which the Instagram post showed questionable judgment and violated her children's privacy, and urged Jenna to reconsider her decision to keep it up. Some of these responses were written by long-time readers and Internet friends.

Jenna deleted nearly all of them, and blocked the commenters who'd written them.  

She then edited the original caption she'd written for the photo, backpedaling on what had obviously been a deliberate attempt to incite scandal (for one thing, the photo depicts her toddler little girl and young son playing with a sex toy; for another, this blogger is notorious for trying to stir up controversy-for-clicks). New criticisms poured in, pointing out how absurd and classless and hurtful these mass deletions and story-changing were.

Jenna deleted those, too.

One of the last comments she made on the post, after her deleting frenzy, was an invitation to discuss the matter further on Twitter. I took her up on the invitation, tweeting directly to her, but she didn't respond. 

For the past few days, I've been trying to decide whether I wanted to write a post about all this, and about her. Not because this particular incident bothered me so much, but because I am so desperate to be done with her, once and for all.

I've followed Jenna for the better part of five years. It's hard to explain why, though I guess if I only had two words to do it, "morbid fascination" would get the job done. (Well, to actually back up a bit - she and I had some Internet overlap for a couple of years, having both contributed to the same website. That's how she initially ended up on my radar. Had it not been for that overlap, I doubt I would have heard of her, much less taken an interest in her life.)

Virtually everything about Jenna's lifestyle, values, character, and choices repels me. Occasionally I've responded to things she's said and done, either here on my blog or on Twitter. Unlike Kelle Hampton (who already has established a massive following), I've never (until now) used Jenna's name or linked to her blog. Her following is relatively tiny, and while mine is even tinier, I wouldn't want to send her a single click. What's even more frustrating is that at times, I have been a fan of hers. She's written some posts that contain, in my opinion, some impressive self-reflection, particularly considering her sheltered background. But those are the exception, not the rule; for the most part, I find her simply odious. Her treatment of her children in particular upsets me greatly, though her smugness, entitlement, and narcissism all irritate me as well. 

The obvious question: why on earth would I read her blog, then? Why on earth would I willingly subject myself to such annoyance? 

I'll try to explain in a moment, but first, a pair of anecdotes:

1. This past weekend Terence and I were walking through the very busy shoe department at Nordstrom on our way to the men's section. As we passed a cluster of seats where several women were trying on shoes, we heard, very loudly, one of them say in an extremely snotty tone: "If you're too busy to help me, I can find someone else." We glanced back to see a red-faced, harried-looking shoe salesman, boxes stacked three deep in his arms, assuring a sour-faced, well-dressed forty-something brunette that he could help her, that he was so sorry, that he'd be with her in just a moment. 

"Wow," Terence said under his breath, as we continued walking. "What a bitch." And if it had been up to my sweet, non confrontational boyfriend, that would have been it. If he'd been alone, he wouldn't have even said that, though he might have thought it.

He wasn't alone, however. He was with me. 

Long story short: I made a bit of a scene. I turned around and said some things. Loudly. And I kept saying them until the woman looked right at me and I made good and sure she heard what I was saying. I don't remember exactly what that was, but I know it included the phrases "chill the fuck out", "little bit busy", "Christmas season", "entitled brat", and "first world problems."

Someone I cared very much for once worked in women's shoes. It is not a dream job. Low hourly, pittance commission, demanding and overprivileged customers. It is not cush job on which to easily support a family, and the salesman we saw? I'm willing to bet he has a family. 

Anyway, even though the moment had nothing whatsoever to do with me, I jumped right into it. And if given the chance, I'd do the exact same thing again. This isn't bragging. I know it's a little bit crazy to be confrontational like that. This is just me saying I yam who I yam. 

2. Last year - or, Christ, maybe it was this year? now I can't remember - a travel blogger I'd been net-friendly with wanted to meet up. I'm coming to LA! she said. I'd never met her, but I agreed to hang out. So how had I gotten net-friendly with this travel blogger? Well, she'd been a reader of mine for a while, and we'd exchanged a few emails. And at some point in that correspondence, being aware of my animosity towards Jenna, she started writing about her dislike of Jenna. Knowing my feelings, I guess she felt free enough to say some extremely unkind things of her own. We also discussed internet-ish stuff in general, plus travel and a few other common interests, but the point is, in multiple emails, she trashed Jenna, big time. 

Well, a few days before this travel blogger was to be in LA, a picture popped up on Jenna's Instagram: a selfie of the two of them, together and smiling. Apparently she had stopped in SF and spent an afternoon with Jenna - the very person she had gleefully dumped on, in emails to me. 

My head about exploded from surprise. It was so unexpected, so incongruous with what she'd expressed feeling towards Jenna, that I half anticipated some kind of explanation from her, like Oh, I just figured it would be a good networking move, or She cornered me when she found out I was in her city. But no explanation came. (Which is not to say I deserved one, just that I couldn't believe she'd carry on as if nothing unusual had happened, considering her behavior.)

I wasn't going to say anything, at first. I was going to leave it alone. Just walk away. Not my problem. I knew for certain I wanted nothing to do with this travel blogger, not because she'd hung out with Jenna, but because of her brash, carefree two-facedness, which disgusted me. When she texted to confirm our plans, I lied and said something had come up, that I wouldn't be able to make it. And I sat on my hands.

But then. But then Jenna made some comments about her Internet friends being so great, so loyal and trustworthy that I couldn't stop myself. I - you guessed it - made a scene, this time on Instagram. On my own account, commenting on one of my own photos (an older one, where the chances of anyone else seeing the conversation would be slim), I called out this travel blogger. I told her I was totally grossed out by her behavior, and that's why I didn't want to meet up. 

And I cc'd Jenna on the exchange. 

Yo, I said (or something like it), this? This is your Internet community. Make friends offline, Jenna. These people you think are your friends? They are not your friends. And I'm happy to show you the proof. (The travel blogger panicked and scrambled, writing then deleting comments in which she begged me to delete my comments, to take it to email, etc. Basically she refused to own her shit-tastic behavior and told me I was being unfair. Jenna herself didn't comment back or say a word to me about any of it.) 

So, why did I use the plural, in my comments to Jenna? Because, sadly, this wasn't the first instance of two-facedness I'd been privy to, where she was concerned. 

Why did I bother telling Jenna, if I dislike her so much? For the same reason I made a scene in Nordstrom: I can't keep my mouth shut when I see someone being unfairly shit on...even if it's someone I can't stand. Jenna probably thought (thinks) I was gloating. Haha, your supposed friends hate you. I wasn't. I was genuinely devastated for her in that moment. I considered how much stock she puts into her Internet friendships, saw what that emotional investment was netting her, and my heart broke a little bit for her. I was rough in my wording, I let the drama escalate a bit much, but my sentiment and intent were sincere: I really, really hoped that would be the moment Jenna realized how important real-life friendships are. I really, really hoped she'd scale back on social media and go cultivate private, offline relationships. 

---

There's something that happens to me when I see vulnerabilities being exploited. When I see the weaker, helpless party being bullied or taken advantage of by the more powerful. I get worked up. I can't help it. I mean, I don't even know if I want to help it. I'm not convinced it's an entirely bad way to be.  

But that's why I get so angry about Jenna: I see her children as the helpless parties. Yes, her personal, Jenna-centric stuff bugs me (i.e., her choices regarding school, the Mormon Church, the condescending tone of her posts - her whole personality, really). But I don't get really riled up until her kids come into it. And those of you who know what I'm talking about - well, you know what I'm talking about. 

But I'm done. I'm fucking done. At long last, I realize how utterly pointless my anger is. Nothing I write, whether I'm direct or passive aggressive, whether I'm sincere or satirical, will make one bit of difference in those kids' lives. I see that now. Jenna made that crystal clear this week. She is absolutely immovable in her self-assurance, in her refusal to be challenged or truly self-reflect. And my choices are a) continue to bang my head against the wall; b) accept the wall; c) avoid the wall. I wish I was a Zen and mature enough person to accept the wall, but I'm not. So I'm going to do my best to just, once and for all, avoid the wall. 

I've "quit" Jenna a couple times before (stopped reading her blog, social media, and snark thread) and it's astounding how much happier I am when I do. Like, disturbingly so, because it says loads about what is clearly a really unhealthy addiction. So I'm going to try again, for my own sanity, and for the tons of better things I could do with that time/mental energy. There's a quote that says when you hate something, you chain yourself to it. It's true. And I want out of this chain. 

Part of me feels like I'm abandoning her kids, walking away once and for all - crazy town, right? I mean, for a long time now I've felt really proud of the posts I've written that call out child-exploitive blogging. And I might continue to write those sorts of posts, because Kelle Hampton, my other favorite source of WTFery, is still going strong. But I cannot with Jenna anymore. I just cannot. It's too aggravating, and she absolutely thrives on the attention. 

I see there's now even an article about her Instagram brouhaha. It's a joke. Poorly written and a complete misrepresentation of what actually went down. Either the author didn't bother to read the full extent of "the Internet's" reaction or she just doesn't care, and is happy to publish a lazy pile of clickbait shit.

But whatever. I'm getting off this crazy train. I have about 3,492,692,018,081,583 better things to do than waste one more minute on someone who, at the end of the day, is her own punishment.

Jenna, if you're reading, you "win." Best of luck with life, online and off.

iFam

Generationals show last night, at Troubadour in WeHo.

the white Frenchman enjoys a White Russian


I'd never been to Troubadour, and wow is it something straight out of music history. Multi-level, wood-paneled, close and cozy like a barn, but oozing cool. I feel like the word "reefer" has been said there many, many times. Indeed, here's a snippet of events the venue can boast having hosted:

1957 - Lenny Bruce gets arrested on obscenity charges
1970 - Janis Joplin parties at the Troubadour and the next day is found dead from a heroin overdose
1971 - Carly Simon, opening for Cat Stevens, meets future husband James Taylor
1974 - John Lennon and Harry Nilsson are escorted out of the club for heckling the Smothers Brothers

And that's not even touching the artist debuts (including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and James Taylor), discoveries of then-unknown talents, reunions and secret shows. Here's the whole jaw-dropping timeline, if you're interested.

Big shoes to fill! This was the second time I'd seen Generationals, and I wasn't sure how much I'd like this show, as I'm not as crazy about their latest album. But yay! They played all my earlier favorites, totally rocking out at the ends. They even had a trio of trumpeters, which I don't remember them having at the 2012 show at The Echo (though I could have just missed it).

We were relatively close to the stage:



Speaking of which, I'd like to put forth a proposal I'm calling the Initiative for Fair Appreciation of Music, or iFam.

iFam asks live music attendees to abide by one simple rule, which is this: the more familiar you are with a performer's oeuvre, the closer you have a right to be. So if you're a die-hard fan who knows every word of every album, you my friend deserve a spot smack against the stage, and no one should begrudge you that (provided you don't shove up halfway though the show). Likewise, if you're new to the artist, maybe hang towards the back of the crowd, in fairness to more long-term fans? And the middle section should fill up accordingly.

iFam: cooperation and mutual respect, amongst your brothers and sisters in music fandom. 

(I don't know, it's just a thought. Act accordingly, if you think it's a good one. Grassroots FTW.)

Terence and I sometimes do a thing at shows where, rather than shout in one another's ears, we pass my phone back and forth, using the notepad to communicate silently. (This is usually towards the end, and always with the brightness turned all the way down and the phone held low, away from people's faces.) Some of these notes - specifically the ones at EDM shows - are hilarious, but I don't share them since they usually contain references to drugs.

But here's last night's, for an idea of the crowd:


They really were adorbs, bumping around trying to make a mosh pit happen on Generationals' more banging tracks (4/10 on the banging scale, at best). 

Anyhoo, definitely check out Troubadour if you're local and you haven't been. And if you're not local but you think you'd like it if Vampire Weekend recorded a falsetto-heavy album while on a Valium bender, check out Generationals. 

tonight's loopable

Hey, how was your Tuesday? Could you maybe use four minutes of pretty? Nothing finger-on-the-pulse about this share, looks like it's gotten a lot of play - but for good reason. Kind of a Poolside-meets-Tycho vibe, but winterized for your pleasure.



Wishing you a warm and happy November night.

on the record

I spend Saturday afternoon organizing my closet, pulling winter clothes for donation and boxing up summer stuff. Kerry texts to confirm dinner plans for that night: am I down for Mexican? I am always down for Mexican. She invites me to meet them at her place but for once I flip the invitation. You guys are welcome here for a change. I have liquor.

My place it is.

There's much to catch up on over drinks; they've been house hunting in San Francisco since I saw them last. Though her transfer date hasn't been determined, it's definite: Kerrbear and Ross - Kross, as we dubbed them for texting shorthand purposes - are leaving LA. I have all the sads in the world about it, every last motherfucking one, and have since she told me the news about a month ago - but I am very, very happy for her. A promotion less than a year after joining the company, and a move to SF, where she and Ross ultimately wanted to end up anyway. They pass their phone across the kitchen island to me: pics of the Nob Hill stunner they've got their eye on. I ooh and ahh appreciatively and feel weirdly proud to count such a successful, ambitious couple as my friends.

It's just me until Terence joins us later, but there's no sense of being a third wheel with Kross. There never has been. We talk about real estate, about work, about music and movies, about mutual friends. They gamely play with Chaucer when he shoves toys in their laps, and as we get cozily tipsy, I take a mental snapshot of the moment. Grateful for my friends, grateful for their laughter and easy conversation, grateful to realize I've enjoyed 3+ years of it. Knowing I'll see them again, even after they move, knowing the jokes about their second bedroom being our guest room aren't bullshit.

I remember the boots, and dash off to my closet to get them. Maison Martin Margiela, acrylic faux wood grain high heels, mahogany leather so sumptuous my neighborhood shoe repair guy marveled at them admiringly before asking where they were from. (I got them online, I admit. Crazy discount, but final sale. I couldn't return them. They're my size, but too tight. My broken left foot can't deal. Please say you can stretch them? He tried his best.) Kerry's a half size smaller than me and I'm hoping they'll fit her. I'm also hoping she'll be blown away. Not for gratitude's sake, but because she would never in a million years splurge on something like these for herself. I could sell them, but the thought of her wearing them makes me way happier than the relatively little I could recoup on eBay. Kerry is a hard-working, career-focused, badass professional woman in her early forties who just landed a promotion and a transfer to one of the coolest cities in the world. She deserves a pair of luxe designer boots. She's fucking earned them.

They're snug, but she's game to break them in on the hills of San Francisco. Yes! The smile on my face watching her model them in the full length mirror has very little to do with my Pimm's Cup. I don't say out loud that they're my goodbye gift. I don't want to talk about her leaving at all. But privately I feel pleased as punch to be able to do something special, to commemorate this milestone in my friend's life.

We take an Über to Silver Lake for dinner.  Margaritas straight up, ice on the side. Terence arrives halfway through dinner and walks up to applause from Kross (he's just finished a show) and a burrito steaming on his plate. We catch him up quickly, eat slowly, and linger over second margaritas. When I return from a trip to the bathroom I am met with wagging fingers and tsk tsk's from Kross. "I'm going to kick your ass right now," Kerry declares. I frown. What'd I do? "You didn't vote??" she asks, exasperated but smiling. Ross shakes his head at me, also smiling. I am so busted.

I shoot Terence (who voted) a look. "Of all people, you told them??" Kross doesn't fuck around when it comes to politics. Which is what we discuss next, Kerry admitting to not having known much about some of the initiatives on the ballet - "But at least I made it!" (She barely had time to get to the polls after a day of work and a stressful doctor's appointment.) I pledge to my friends to never again lapse on my civic duty and change the subject, tangentially, to John Oliver.

Later, more drinks back at our place. We are officially drunk. I want to play darts, so after I let Chaucer out for a quick potty we head downstairs to Casey's. But the patio is too smoky, so we get a table inside instead. I'm still clutching the high ball full of arrows I've traded my ID for when we decide to duck around the corner and check out the live music. Female duo, Fleetwood Mac cover. Perfect: Kerry's an 80's music freak. The four of us stand and watch and sing, and I take another mental snapshot. Then an actual one, of Terence and Ross. I plead with Kerry to take one with me, but no dice. (There is rarely dice on that table. Kerry loathes having her photo taken.) Terence leans in and cups my ear so I'll hear him over the music. "Baby, do you want to go play darts? That's why we came, I know you wanted to." Nope. I'm good right here, happy that Kerry's happy, cheerfully wasted and enjoying music she likes. There'll be plenty of time for darts when she's gone.

Terence hears the subtext of my response, the not-so-deeply buried heartbreak and disappointment I have been suppressing since I got the news that my best girlfriend in Los Angeles is moving away. That I'm saying goodbye to another friend. That I'm losing another friend to San Francisco. (Fucking San Francisco loves to steal my friends.) My boyfriend reads my expression and understands that I'm hurting even while I'm happy, and he cups my ear again. "You should have heard what she said about you, when you were walking Chauc." I shake my head, but don't pull away completely. I let him tell me. And it's hard to fight back the tears when he does - but I do. I'm a little shocked by what he tells me, because even though I know Kerry cares about me, she's not an overly demonstrative or sentimental person, and I've learned to feel her affection through actions, not words. So the words I hear repeated to me, about me, blow me away in the best possible way. I feel relieved and validated to learn that she thinks of me as I think of her. That she doesn't find me to be the frivolous, foolish person I'd always sort of assumed she did.

Where's Ellie? Is she gone? she'd said.

Yeah, she took Chaucer down.

Okay well I just want to officially say, on the record, that she is the most amazing woman I know. Like, seriously. 

That sounds like some Ellie and Kerry type stuff that you should probably tell her yourself. 

But it's okay that she didn't tell me herself. It's so totally okay. I shrug off the compliment when Terence relays the exchange, but secretly it hits me right in the stomach, like a swallow of something warm and wonderful. It was the liquor talking, I know that. It was hyperbole and exaggeration, but even if all that's true is a tiny seed of it, now I know I am genuinely loved and respected by someone I love and respect. And knowing that makes it a little easier to say goodbye.

---

Later we walk them home with Chaucer, whom I pass off to Ross so I can lag behind with Kerr. Four friends, sobering up, semi-stumbling across downtown Los Angeles. Two men, two women, a Mastiff, and a box of boots. Snapshots mental and real. Grateful, happy, sad.

---

Later still, Terence and I are sitting on the steps of the Aon building, eating Haagen Dasz bars from Famima. Closing time, the sidewalk filling up with stragglers much drunker than the two of us. A group of dudes is taking selfies against the tower behind us. Terence cracks jokes about the scene and I throw my head back, laughing loudly. As the group descends the stairs to head off into the night, one of them pauses. He's clearly been drinking but he looks squarely at us, pointing a finger, and says in a respectful, friendly tone: "You two look extremely happy."

Had I been more sober, I know I would have responded more enthusiastically, thanking him sincerely for saying something so sweet. But as it was, his pronouncement felt like the cherry on top of a night so simply awesome that I couldn't do anything other than nod matter-of-factly as I licked my ice cream.

"We are," I assured him. And I hoped it didn't sound smug, because it was all I felt capable of saying, on a Saturday night worth writing about, the first chance I got - a Saturday night I don't want to forget.



my dog's heart

The first time Terence, Chaucer and I went for an Epic Walk together, I was less than impressed by his performance. Terence's, I mean. He walked too slow, for one thing, ambling and distracted by the sights. He didn't hold the leash correctly when I passed it off. And worst of all, he complained about a bit of drool Chaucer got on his pants. You do not complain about Chaucer drool when you are trying to impress Ellie, oh no you do not.

Terence had gone on short walks with us together before that, but this was his first Epic Walk. EW's are serious business around here. Up through the financial district, a fetch session at the John Ferraro Building, then down through the park to socialize in the dog play area before heading home. Sometimes we add in stops at Walt Disney Hall or the pool at Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. All of it sacred space for Chaucer and I, a long-established, much treasured path we've perfected in our years downtown - years during which Chaucer saw me through a divorce, the deaths of both parents, a handful of breakups (romantic or otherwise), a broken foot, dry socket, and a host of depressive episodes. The least I can do for him is give him a nice, long, stimulating and tiring walk, whenever I have the time. Hence were born Epic Walks - my dogspeak thank you for seven years of constant companionship.

Then Terence came along and screwed everything up by making us both fall in love with him.

Chaucer didn't make it easy, in the beginning. Doleful stares from the side of the bed, inches from our faces. His expression clear: I don't know about you, buddy. I don't know about you at all. It can't have been easy to break into the space between me and my dog, I know that. It is very, very narrow, that space. Even on my worst days, when I'm at my lowest and most withdrawn, I still have endless cuddles and kisses and affection for Chaucer - and he is the only creature on this planet who can make that claim. I love my dog with a fierceness that is knowable only to those who have experienced grief. One part terror of losing yet another thing. One part knowing that loss is inevitable. All parts soaking up each minute with him gratefully. So, so gratefully.

But in spite of how intimidating my attachment to Chaucer may have been, Terence opened his heart to him - all 130lbs of him. He came to know and accept Chaucer's quirks and challenges, and to even find the humor and joy in them. He learned Chaucer's schedule, got familiar with his needs, and started helping me with the daily chores of dog ownership. He was endlessly patient with me as I insisted on the particular, precise ways in which things needed to be done for Chaucer, because I am a pain in the ass but also because I want my dog to have stability and routine, so he feels relaxed and comfortable. Slowly Terence took on a greater role in Chaucer's care until one day I realized that he's got it. I never have to worry when I'm not around. My dog will always be fed, walked, safe, and loved. For his part, Chaucer fell as fast as I did. He grew to trust the man in our life, who was gentle and calm and never raised his voice. Add in tug-o-war and treats, affection and attention...and Chaucer's trust soon turned into love.

None of this was expected. I've always firmly believed: my dog, my responsibility. I'd come to accept that messy Mastiffs are not for everyone. And I honestly would have been happy had Terence just tolerated the very big place that Chaucer takes up in my home and in my heart. The fact that the two of them have moved far past friendship is a thing I never would have dreamed of.

We have our own secret language, the three of us. Silly voices that no outsider will ever hear. Inside jokes and memes and made-up songs and references some of which are a year deep. All the things we express to one another wordlessly. Cuddling in a heap on the floor, on the bed, weekend mornings or movie nights. Our hands touching as we stroke his broad, soft back. It's hard for me to use the f-word, so much invisible and implied weight attached to it. But when we're all laying together like that, it feels more like an f-word than I've felt in a long, long time.

Loving Chaucer is loving me by extension. And every bit of love that Terence pours onto my dog I feel my heart swell with twice as much to give him in return. The kindness with which he treats Chaucer - and the bond that the two of them have formed - have secured Terence a place in my heart more sure and meaningful than any vow I could utter. I used to say that the way to my heart was through my funny bone. And it was, back in the day. But that was before Chaucer padded into my life. Now I know without a doubt that the way to my heart is through my dog's heart.

---

Recently, Epic Walks had to come to an end. Chaucer just isn't up to the hills anymore. It broke my heart to have to give up our beloved path, through the quiet and stillness of the banking towers. But we readjusted and struck a new course through the middle of town instead. Then, a few days ago, Terence had a thought: what if we bypass the hills and take elevators up through the lower levels of the US Bank Building instead? I wasn't sure if we could get high enough, but Terence assured me we could. So we tried it. And yep, we can. We can get back to the same area we used to - wide open sidewalks and grassy areas for roaming; no steep hills to challenge Chaucer's aging hips.

Terence saved Epic Walks. And in doing so, he gave something back to me the value of which I don't know how to make him understand. Except by maybe writing this post.


snow job

Sometimes after I finish a movie, I'll look to see what critics thought of it. I guess I'm hoping to see my opinion backed up by the experts (in those instances where I have a strong reaction, anyway). Sometimes I'm validated, but sometimes I'm baffled. Last night I was baffled. Snowpiercer's 95% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes baffles me.

If Snowpiercer were an addition problem, it would look like this:

                   Schindler's List
            The Hunger Games
                                    1984
    The Day After Tomorrow
               The Wizard of Oz
                  + Polar Express
  _____________________
                                  lolwut

Dystopic, post-apocalyptic movies are my absolute favorite, so I was already primed to like Snowpiercer. It's the story of a perpetually running train which circles a frozen Earth, containing the last surviving humans, strictly divided by socioeconomic class. Awesome, right? Oh and it stars Tilda Swinton. Even awesomer.

But Snowpiercer is dystopia plus camp, and that is a difficult combination to pull off. At moments I felt as jerked about by this movie as the train's inhabitants, zipping wildly around jagged mountain peaks with no control over their fate. Just when I'd accepted Snowpiercer's slapstick, eased into its cartoonish feel, it would suddenly bring me up short with some inexplicably disturbing concept or visual. Case in point: towards the end, the film's protagonist tells a story about the early days of the train, a time when the poor, starving passengers sequestered in the last car were so desperate for food that they fell to cannibalism. "You know what I hate about myself?" weeps Curtis. "That I know babies taste the best."

If you're going to drop a bomb like that on your audience, you'd better be sure you've steeled them for it. I was not steeled, and the line hit me like a snowball to the face. And not tlapa, either. Carpitla.

Another problem with Snowpiercer: it quickly kills off its most compelling characters (including Swinton's character, a loathsome toad of a woman she plays gloriously), then fills the gaps left behind with new ones that seem like they should be important, but aren't really. For instance, there are a number of fight scenes directed to emphasize the significance of some bad guy (repeated close ups of his face, etc.) but ultimately those characters don't add very much to the storyline. I was confused as to where my sympathies were meant to go. They certainly weren't drawn to Curtis, Snowpiercer's irritatingly reluctant savior who, when faced with the full truth of reality in the film's final scenes, crumbles like tlacringit (sorry, but that whole list is amazing).

Even the film's villainous mastermind, Wilford, the train's creator and dictator figure (played by Ed Harris), is disappointingly bland. He's less terrifying than smug and disaffected. His whatever attitude towards the horrors his creation has perpetuated was contagious, because by the end, I felt pretty damn whatever myself. Critics raved about Snowpiercer's set design, but its most important component, the exalted Eternal Engine of Wilford's front car, just looks like an oversized hamster wheel. It's as if the art department had exhausted its creativity somewhere between train's caboose and its lush middle section. Eh, fuck it. The audience'll get that it's a big deal.

In Snowpiercer's last scene, the train breaks up spectacularly, cars scattering like toys across blindingly white snowcaps. One of the final shots is that of a polar bear, gazing at the destruction with a dafuq? expression on his face. I imagine that for much of Snowpiercer, I looked a lot like that polar bear.

sawtooth is the new chevron

Ladies! Would you like a casual shoe that says "I'm the kind of gal who can coach cheerleading, helm a Palm Springs bowling league, and bring sexy back to those Daughters of the American Revolution flag dedication ceremonies!" all while subtly hinting at your love of Scandinavian design? When you accidentally step on an Amazonian-sized insect, do you prefer it to survive the encounter unscathed?

Then have I found the kicks for you!

$1,080.00, plus tax and shipping, minus an irretrievable chunk of your dignity. 

---

For the record, I'm no Stella McCartney hater. In fact I stumbled across these while engaging in one of my twice-monthly pining sessions for the Falabella Cross Body Bag, wherein I stare longingly at my computer screen and try to calculate what I could forego long enough to afford it (cold-pressed cashew milk, yes; Spotify subscription, hell no; sushi, yes; health insurance premium, need to check horoscope - etc.). But good grief.

ears here

Do you like Freelance Whales? Of course you do, if only for their wonderful name. Just picture a business card printed with Herbert Humpback, Freelance Whale. Now think about poor Herbert foundering at a cocktail party, because the other, more professionally established whales are mocking him behind his back. Making air quotes with their fins when they refer to his "work." Whales can be so krill.

Okay now stop thinking about mean whales and listen to this happy song, which sounds like Freelance Whales meets Two Door Cinema Club.



Hat tip to Mason for the referral!