blah blah, good pic of me, blah blah

Well, Blackbird Blackbird was a bust bust. He played his own music, but the poor kid sounded terrible. Totally flat. People were walking out. We walked out. It was especially frustrating since, urged by the promoters to get there early, we'd been there since 7:30pm. And he didn't even take the stage until 11, goofing around having drinks and taking photos until the crowd was close to rioting. Not cool. Maybe you should have used that time to do a sound check, dude.

But if you're local and haven't been, I strongly urge you to check out Sayers Club, which is one of the coziest live music venues I've seen yet:

We bookended the show with pizza from two different places (there's a by-the-slice joint every twenty feet on Hollywood between Vine and Highland), so I can't complain too terribly about a night that began and ended thusly. Then the usual as we waited for the train: Terence making music on his phone while I played Blogstagram on mine.

These are some really fucking exciting photos, aren't they? Almost as exciting as a three sentence bad review of a musician you (probably) don't know or care to. Well hey let's just get to the real point of this post which is holy shit, Ellie managed to take a good photo of herself! Two, even!

I know what you're thinking. Sware to god, though. Sware to god. I filtered them on Pomelo (free and awesome, definitely recommend as a simpler alternative to the absurdly overwhelming VSCOcam) but bishes, your blogmistress didn't touch them otherwise. And I say that as someone who openly admits to a light swipe or two of smoothing on FaceTune from time to time (though not on flash photos! just cruel, unforgiving daylight). 

So yeah, apparently if you can't afford a lightbox, La Mer, or like, facials, the subway station at H'wood and Vine is THE place to take a flattering selfie. At least of yourself. Screw your partner and his mashed-in nose, amirite??

Alright, gonna try and pull this post out of its self-absorbed tailspin with a quick music share. I finished my Bonnaroo homework in record time this year and oh man is there some incredible talent on that lineup, all the way down to the bottom tier. Like this gem:

AWESOME, RIGHT?? That's Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, a mother/son duo from Kansas City. Broke into the biggest grin when I heard those pipes.

Have lots more Bonnaroo discoveries to share in the coming weeks, including some blue grass, some Afro-funk, and some new-to-me acts from Down Under. Oi!

DJ white noise

I was messing around with the White Noise app earlier, layering sounds to make mixes I thought I could share here for a lol. Unfortunately while saving and uploading them to SoundCloud was a snap, they wouldn't process for some reason. Tried twice but the gag isn't worth any further effort.

Anyway, here's a screenshot:

I was particularly proud of that second one, which sounds exactly like the quieter parts of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I guess if you have kids they might get a kick out of them? Good background for a spooky story or something? Or perhaps that's a terrible idea and it's a good thing your children are far out of reach of Creepy Aunt Ellie and Her Bedtime Nightmare Noise Machine. Yeah, more likely that. Whatever, here are the formulas:

Changeling Forest = Amazon Jungle + Chimes Chiming
Creepy Bayou = Frogs at Night + Crickets Chirping + Boat Swaying in Water
Hermione and Crookshanks on the Hogwarts Express = Cat Purring + Train Ride

Sweet dreams, muahahah.

of earthquakes and eucalypts*

Four things making it clear I'm due to send out some kindness karma of my own, post-haste:

1. Terence and I got into it pretty badly late Saturday night, hitting our biggest, deepest fault line and making for a rough remainder of the weekend. But the upside of earthquakes is they offer a chance to reorganize as you put things back in order. Hmm, maybe the vase should go there instead. And what if we hang this picture here for a change? That's DeepSpeak™ for good talk afterward. We had a really good talk afterward. And tonight he surprised me with tickets for Blackbird Blackbird, a synth pop musician with an ambient, dreamy sound that I love, and that I still haven't heard live.

BB disappointed us a few months ago by playing a bunch of weird trap instead of performing his new album, even though his show was touted as the first night of that album's promotional tour. We were among many fans really bummed out that night, because his original music is awesome. A sample of what we're hoping to hear this time around:

2. Speaking of my partner in seismology, a couple more prom pics surfaced from Friday night, which we spent with friends cavorting at our favorite rooftop bar. Say what you will about The Standard, it's some of the best people watching downtown. (You can totes tell it's LA's classiest nightlife destination by the wristband.)

Me and denim shirt dude back there apparently have the same hairstylist.

3. Aaand speaking of concerts, my favorite moment of the day recently was a text from a friend I haven't seen much of lately (my fault, not his) telling me to save the date, because he'd scooped up a ticket for me, for Of Montreal. I don't know how I've managed to program all the people in my life to surprise me with concert tickets, but holy shit is it amazing. Okay well maybe because I get wasted and spring for those mid-shelf liquor shots. Or maybe it's because my terrible dance moves make them look better? Whatever. Of Montreal! He and his boyfriend are graphic design nuts, so I'm surprising them back with a copy of Los Logos 7. (I'll hide it under my shirt during the show then whip it out at the end, it's gonna be amaze.)

4. Aaand speaking of favorite moments, here's one that knocked my socks off yesterday. Recently started getting friendly with a neighbor in my building, a girl I've known peripherally for some three years now. She's smart and kind, likes fiction, dogs, sushi and photography, and she isn't afraid to dine or travel alone (POINTS!). Anyhoodles, yesterday she left a bunch of fresh eucalyptus stalks outside our door, constituting probably the most considerate neighborly gesture I've been on the receiving end of in, oh, 20+ years of apartment dwelling. I like to tie mine to the shower head for a "spa experience" haha, she wrote in the card. Holy shit, I texted her in response. About the nicest thing any neighbor's done for me, ever. 

I hope she likes with profanity with her sushi.

*(not a typo!)

blues / clues

I have these to share from the part of my weekend that was good:

She doesn't have eyes. She sold them for the hair. 
Oh, does my alien arm frighten you? HOW DO YOU THINK I FEEL I'M ATTACHED TO IT
I've just realized the pointlessness of the previous three decades of my life. Ugh, so embarrassing when that happens. 
Gearing up for my turn at Chameleon Bowling

I have this to share from the part of my weekend that was not:

I call it "50/50 probability". It's embiggenable!

And I have this to share from the part of my brain that stopped developing at Intellect Level: Teenage Lit Mag:

Hope everyone's weekend was just as fucking exciting!!11!

birfday vidcard

Friend of mine has a birthday this weekend. He's a snapshot nut, and always makes these adorable little collages to send everyone on Sunday after we've been hanging out. So I made a video birthday card for him, and even though it's a bit esoteric with the injokes, I spend too much damn time on it not to share it. (The "snap to beats" function isn't available on the newest version of iMovie, so I had to use an old, glitch-ridden version. I swear I can keep a beat, the program is just a mess, hence the wonky timing of middle section.)

Happy weekend, warriors!

somewhat the same

Twice a year I go to an allergist about an hour away in Orange County. Two tiny exam rooms, a reception area, a closet sized workspace that seems to be his office, and a sort of makeshift lab where he performs skin tests. The same two women, a receptionist and an assistant, have been working for him for as long as I've been a patient.

After I blow out digital candles on a computer simulated birthday cake, he peers in my ears and up my nose, listens to my lungs, and asks a handful of questions to verify that my lifestyle hasn't changed radically in the last half year. The whole process takes about eight minutes, after which we spend another ten bullshitting about our personal lives. In his case this means travel, the tribulations of parenting a 20-something, and updates on his romantic life. Then it's my turn. He asks me about living downtown, about my own relationships. The same things he's been asking me for years, the whole routine strangely reassuring.

Afterwards he tops up my supply of free, full-sized "samples" of the inhalers I use, each of which would cost over three hundred dollars at the pharmacy. He waves away my slobbering gratitude, making me promise to just come see him in another six months. I schedule my next appointment on the spot, always marveling, when the receptionist names the distant date, at how much will have happened before my next visit. "How about July 20th?" she said this afternoon, and all I could think was that by then I'll have turned forty, sung Piano Man alongside eighty thousand other people, and visited Georgia for the first time. A little bit older. A little bit fuller.

He's the only doctor I've ever looked forward to seeing, and he's been seeing me since 2009.

Today while looking over my chart he announces his upcoming trip to Switzerland. "Your lung function is awful," he adds, seemingly as an afterthought. 

"I'm sick!" The force of my objection starts me coughing. A wheezy hacking that bounces right out the door and down the hall. The other patients probably think there's a chronic smoker back here. "Work or pleasure? Switzerland." More coughing. I grab a tissue. Pointless, though. There's nothing coming loose.

"Ugh, Deborah." He's one of five people on the planet to still call me that. But from him I like it. Makes me think of uncles and cousins, New York relatives who always said it with an accent so thick it seemed tribal. "That cough is terrible." He pats the sterile paper stretched across the exam table. My invitation to hop right up, be poked, be prodded.

"Yeah. Well." His tone worries me. Somewhere along the way, for the lung function challenged, a cold stops meaning chicken soup and movie marathons and starts meaning potentially serious complications. I'm never sure if I've reached that point yet or not. 

But he's smiling, so it can't be that bad, right? Or else he's just excited about Switzerland, which he's telling me about now. Medical conference, up in the Alps. Train ride through the mountains. Just chugging along, miles and miles of snowy pine. I imagine him bundled up, tasteful scarf and overcoat, nose red and breath coming in steamy puffs. Stamping his feet to stay warm while he waits for his luggage. "Are you taking anyone?" I mean a girlfriend. He almost always has a new girlfriend.

He removes the disposable black plastic cone from his otoscope and tosses it at the trash. We both watch it bounce off the rim and land on the floor. "Buddy of mine and his two kids. Eight and eleven. That great age, you know? Before they start to hate their parents?" I murmur assent, my head tipped back to showcase my nostrils. "They call me Uncle Don. They love me. Deep breath. Again. Ugh, you sound horrible. Again, deep breath. One more." The clotted bubbling in my chest is embarrassing. It must sound disgusting, amplified to stereo by his stethoscope.

The doctor announces that he's putting me on antibiotics. "What?! No. Really? I hate antibiotics. For how long?" I'm not giving him a chance to answer and he's blinking at me patiently. Fatherly. When my mother died, my marriage tanked, and my design business grew too big for me to handle, my body reacted by literally deciding it was allergic to stress. I broke out in huge, raging hives all over my arms and legs. Blistering red, agonizingly itchy, lasted for months. Kept a bristle hairbrush beside the bed, scratched myself to bleeding, silent tears of frustration running down my face while my stranger of a husband slept, inches away. Prednisone, twelve pounds gained, no clear diagnosis from multiple apathetic doctors. Then I found Dr. Levy. The first time he saw me I broke down sobbing in the exam room. "You're going to be okay," he promised. "This is stress-related and it's temporary." He let me cry until I was empty that day, asking me gently what was going on in my life to terrify my immune system so badly. I told him everything, it just poured out of me. My mother, my marriage, the suicidal thoughts, my brother, how overwhelmed and alone I felt. He was determinedly cheerful. He felt for me, for all I was going through, but he wasn't going to let it swallow me up. And in the five years since then he's been a twice-yearly reminder that even the worst things in life don't have to swallow us up. I don't drive all the way to Orange County for free inhalers. Those could probably be obtained easily enough from decent, sympathetic allergists closer to home. I drive all the way to Orange County because he's the only doctor I've ever gone to who seems to genuinely care about me as a person, and that's where he's located.

He cocks his head, teasing. "What's wrong with antibiotics? Antibiotics are your friend." He knows I know this. In fact were he to describe me I bet he'd call me a "sensible girl." It seems like an expression he'd use.

"I knowwww," I intone, exasperated. "Believe me, I'm on your team. Yay science! I just--"

"You have acute bronchitis."

I explode in my seat. "What?! Bronchitis?? No way! How do you know? Just from listening to my chest?" This seems impossible. Shouldn't there be a test or something? Visions of sallow-faced old women, stooped over, gripping the arms of their wheelchairs in a paroxysm of coughing. Visions of my mother.

But Doc is ignoring my panic, skating right over it. Eyes on his laptop, tabbing through screens, submitting the prescription to my pharmacy downtown. "Five days' worth. You'll be fine in a few days." Few days. Fine in a few days. His words a warm bath, relaxing the grip of anxiety. And now we're talking about everyday stuff again. After Switzerland he's going to London. He's started making notes of all the crazy things he's seen as a doctor. Thinks maybe the collected anecdotes could be a book, or a podcast. His daughter has moved back home.

"That's common these days though, isn't it?" I offer helpfully. He groans and rolls his eyes. Doesn't want to talk about it. The latest girlfriend is mentioned briefly. Nice girl, too new for Switzerland though. She has fourteen year-old twin boys, entitled brats, their entire generation is like that though. Asks me about Terence. How long's it been, how's it going, etc. Offers up a few platitudes about compromise and communication. I let these stand rather than tell him that actually, things are pretty great. Gotta take the Dadisms where I can get 'em. 

"So you live downtown, right?" Here it is.


"Do you live in one of those big open lofts?" He asks me this every time.


"That's so cool!" He responds this way every time, too, probably imagining some boho chic, artistic space it doesn't remotely resemble. But that's fine too. 

And then we're done. I'm chaperoned back to the receptionist's counter, given an armload of samples and an appointment reminder card, and bid farewell until next time. "Thanks! See you in July!" Somewhat changed but somewhat the same too. 


Note: This is a sooooper long post (seriously, scroll down and see before you start reading it and get annoyed), which I wrote to commemorate a fun night out, as sort of personal love letter to good friends who are moving soon and whom I will miss very much. I did the best I could to bring it to life, but apologies if the only thing that's epic about it is how epically boring it is. 


The champagne is Kerry's idea. We're waiting for the guys, on our first round of cocktails in the lounge area of the Gallery Bar at the Biltmore. It's a refreshing change of ambiance from downtown's other three nightlife options (grungy, kiddie, or bougie). Here it's wingback chairs, piano, chandeliers and cast plaster columns. Bartender in a brocade vest who doesn't ask to hold a credit card. Patrons are scarce other than a cluster of puffy fifty-ish banker types in tuxedos. We're catching up.

"Oh, I've got something good," I say. I've already filled her in on Bonnaroo (she's only impressed by the 80s-era names on the lineup) and Terence's news (the cause for the champagne). "My ex-husband got remarried."

"Shut up. Really?"

I tell her what I know, which isn't much. Just what's on the wedding website, which is still up two months later. The only noteworthy part is the About Us timeline, which has some interesting dates. Keyword: overlap. But the liquor in my bloodstream makes me feel forgiving. And anyway, any sting I felt at the discovery a few days ago dissipated with the remembrance of how disastrously mismatched and unhappy he and I were.

"It's funny, but the thing that bugged me most was the photo gallery, all these snapshots of them together. He's wearing clothes I bought him. And I can tell from his hair that if those pictures weren't taken, like, simultaneously, then they were pretty damn soon after we split."

"So wait, you knew her?"

"Yeah. Well, no, I never met her. I knew of her. He worked with her. They were friends. She had a boyfriend at the time. He said."

She is suitably scandalized but I can't generate much more feeling about it. Any emotion I had to spend on him was cashed in half a decade ago. We move on.

Another round of cocktails because the guys are both still at work. Pimm's Cup for me; I know to keep my drinks light as long as possible, because there will be many. She's having dirty martinis, juice on the side, not her usual. She's sick of the sweet stuff, she says. A waitress dressed identical to the bartender brings a silver dish of mixed nuts.

Terence arrives first, smiling sheepishly and raising his arms in playful victory as he reaches us. He knows I will have told Kerry his big news. As he's settling in, leaning over to kiss me hello, I see Kerry give the signal to our waitress. She has the champagne ready behind the bar, and Ross walks in just as she's presenting it. Terence is surprised and grateful, but I just point at Kerry. "All her." There's half a strawberry for each of us, which we plunk into our flutes before toasting Terence. Clinking glass and cheering. Aaand we're off, I think.

We drink and talk. We gossip and joke. We debate dinner options, though it's still early. We drink and talk more. I excuse myself to go cough in the soundproof plushness of the ladies' powder room, cursing my choice of light leather bomber and ripped jeans. I'd kill for a puffer, knee boots, thick socks. At least my insides are alight with liquid warmth.

Back at the table, I nearly topple the flutes in my tipsy haste to show them something. "Oooh, you guys. I almost forgot. Check this out." On my phone's browser I search for an actor who I've recently realized is the spitting image of a mutual acquaintance. When I find the image I'm looking for, I pass my phone to Kerry. "Doesn't he look exactly like him?" Her astonished agreement pleases me.

"Oh my god, he totally does. Ross, look at this." She texts the photo to our friend.

We're ready for dinner; Italian wins out. But not our usual mom-and-pop spot. The bigger, fancier place with the menu and prices to match. We're celebrating, after all. On the walk over I split off alone and run back to the apartment for a warmer coat. Stupid not to have dressed better, getting over a cold. "Get a table, I'll be five minutes behind you." As I'm hurriedly trading summery flares for heavy denim and a sweater, Terence texts a photo. Two greyhounds he's just passed, on a walk with their owner, Kerry just ahead in the frame and looking, from the tilt of her shoulders, a bit wobbly. Puppehs, baby.

Dinner is delicious but a bit of a shitshow. We agree to share three entrees among us but somehow no one pays attention to the fact that all three choices contain red sauce. Kerry dislikes red sauce. When the food comes and she declines any of it, the rest of us stop cold, in the middle of serving ourselves, and stare at her incredulously. "Wait, you're not going to have anything??"

"I don't like red sauce. I told you guys! That's why I wanted the white pizza." I glare at Ross, who changed the pizza order.

"You are her husband," I accuse, pointing at him. His job to know her dietary preferences. But she isn't really mad, and squelches my insistence that we order something else. She's fine. She'll just have bread. She's pretty toasted.

I'm tasked with picking the wine, though I only ever order pinot noir or shiraz. We go through the pinot in a flash, as well as the sausage and black truffle pasta special, gnocchi, and a pizza the ingredients of which I can't identify. (Other than red sauce.) Halfway through the meal the mood of the table plummets and all of us are bickering with our partners. Kerry is morose, hungrier than she's letting on, and Ross is annoyed at her for stubbornly refusing to eat more than a bite of gnocchi, sauce scraped off. Terence is sloppy wasted and his table manners are driving me crazy. I snipe at him bossily. "Stop pointing at everyone's food like that." "Leave those for Ross, you finished the pizza." "I'm going to bathroom. Don't touch my wine."

After the plates are cleared, though, we're laughing again and back to our happy buzzy place. What's next? I want Kerry to see a nearby rooftop bar she's never been to but I know there'll probably be a line to get in. Kerry does not do lines. ("I'm forty-four," she likes to announce proudly. "I don't wait in lines.") But they're game to at least walk over, which we do, linking arms as couples and marching stiffly in the cold. Kerry doesn't have a jacket but swears she's fine.

There's a line, and though we give it a couple minutes, it'll be at least a quarter of an hour before we can get in, so we bail. Where to? Someone suggests the huge but cozy hipsterhaven craft cocktail bar/restaurant a few blocks over, where Kross met Terence for the first time, in September of 2013. As we troop in, Terence points to where the four of us sat that night. "It was right there, remember? You had your scooter." I remember.

We find four chairs by a carved-out section of wall where a fireplace would make sense, though there isn't one. Instead there's a grouping of tall glass oil candles. Little bit of heat, anyway. The chairs are low and wide, dark metal wire with thin ivory cushions. A low square cement table at our knees holds our drinks. Dirty martini, Terence's old-fashioned, my cider, and some cocktail with Mezcal that the bartender at first refused to make for Ross when he admitted he'd never had it. ("I'd rather make you something else," she says flatly. "Most people send it back, they don't like the smoky taste. It's really, really smoky," she repeats insistently. Ross listens to her argument, placidly nodding, yes, okay, that's alright. It's just us two at the bar getting drinks for the others and I feel defensive on behalf of my painfully polite friend. "It's fine," I tell her firmly. "He never sends anything back. And he's adventurous." Both are true, and he does indeed enjoy the drink.)

Back at the table I realize I've left a ring behind at the restaurant, that I took off when Kerry and I were trying on one another's jewelry. There's little chance of finding it, a delicate chain-style ring that, when taken off, collapses to nearly nothing. "It's no big deal," I insist. "Seriously like ten dollars at Unique LA. Totally replaceable." Terence runs back to the restaurant to look anyway, but returns empty-handed five minutes later.

We stay a while. The conversation turns to family. Kerry, sister to three brothers, tells us about the one she doesn't see much. Accomplished athlete, father to two boys she suspects will follow suit. At some point I pull my legs up into my chair, detaching from the talk and just blissfully enjoying the company of my friends. Kerry is Googling her athlete brother for pics to show me and Terence and Ross are animated, laughing about something else. Holy fuck I'm going to miss these people. I take a picture of them. Kerry's nose is in her phone but I can't risk asking her to look up; she'll hide her face. She hates having her photo taken.

When I drift back in, they're talking about Vladimir Putin. I don't have anything to contribute. My cider is the most delicious I've ever had. I examine the label. "Wandering Aengus". Must find. Whole Foods maybe?

Something's happened. Kerry's upset. What is it? What happened? Apparently she's annoyed that she's the only one with a full drink; ours are nearly empty. I thought we were drinking? she asks peevishly. I thought you guys wanted to get drinks? Isn't that why we're here? I try to soothe her. She's pretty far gone, and she's a lovably grumpy drunk. It's okay! Finish your drink. We're just chilling. I think we were talking about going someplace else, after, instead of getting another round. 

But we're losing her. We need to change locations quickly or she'll be done for the night. So we head back out into the cold towards the main drag of bars. Long strides to match the men, and to keep warm. Terence scampers up to the elevated shopfronts that run the length of the sidewalk besides us. He weaves in and out of columns, singing, cavorting. I catch his eye and gesture with my hands. Your jacket, I mouth silently, jerking my head towards a shivering Kerry. Without interrupting the song or the weaving, Terence dutifully peels off his jacket and hands it to Kerry. She refuses ("I'm fine! Have I complained once?") but I forcefully drape it over she shoulders and after a moment she gives in and slips her arms through the sleeves.

Next bar. Loud, crowded, familiar faces. The bouncer, blue-eyed and thick-necked, greets me with a one-armed hug. "Hey stranger, long time no see." We used to chat when I'd come here to meet Kerry for drinks, back when I'd just gotten divorced. He doesn't card any of our group, and we find a snug corner in the back.

We stay too long. Kerry's starving, but refuses the chips I sneak off to buy her. We're all tired. Saturated. Maybe just old. The bar is playing 80s music though, which eventually gets the best of Kerry. She slides off her bar stool to dance. The chips, like the cider, seem like the most delicious I've ever had. Why does everything taste so good tonight? I squint in the dark at the bag. "Zapp's Voodoo Potato Chips." My shopping list grows.

Selfie time. Even Kerry's into it, cheerfully leaning into me for a shot of us. She likes it! Amazing! "Post that somewhere," she commands vaguely. Social media is a big mystery to her, as is my blog. But she knows I post stuff, somewhere. "Seriously. That's a great picture." It's a great picture of her. I, on the other hand, am a scraggly-haired disaster. Still, I know I'll post it, because of how she truly lit up when she saw it. That's rare.

Time collapses. We're on the move again. Next stop: more food. Second dinner for three of us, first for one. We take a Lyft to the famous Pacific Dining Car. I'm the only one who's never been, and the others enjoy my impressed reaction. It's as cloistered and rich and old-world and fun as they'd promised on the ride over. All green velvet and brass. Tartan carpet, soft-spoken waiters in penguin suits, cardboard framed menus heavy in the hand. Holy shit the prices. Seventy dollar steaks? You guys...

No, it's okay, there's a cheaper late night menu. Here.

I leave the decision making to them. I'm not really hungry, though I'll pick at what we get. I zone out, editing photos while they discuss. I only want to make sure Kerry gets exactly what she wants this time. Sure enough, when the server comes there's a moment of indecision and she offers to sacrifice her first choice, but the rest of us shout her down. 

Food comes fast on the heels of final cocktails. Eggs benedict, hash browns, some kind of bacon and spinach scramble? I have a bite or two and then let the others finish it off. When they're done I smear chunks of fresh, hot white bread across the plate. The yolk. So fucking good.

It's fantastic - the meal, the laughter, the sleepy happy tipsy feel of our foursome. Our mood is solid. Everyone is firmly on board. Team players, all. Kerry even submits to more photos, cuddling on her husband like a cat. I thrust the phone in her face. "Look at you. Look at your skin!" She shrugs it off, smiling, not even asking for copies of such flattering photos of herself. She couldn't care less. I love this woman.

Afterwards we head back out through the narrow doorway single file, each grabbing a foil-wrapped Swiss chocolate ball, except for Terence, who takes four. We summon a Lyft, huddling together to wait in the chilly asphalt parking lot. The lot is virtually empty, but the others assure me that post-bar diners are about to descend en masse. The Lyft driver who responds to Terence's request looks like Aileen Wuornos. He holds up his phone to show us her profile picture. "Monster's coming to get us," he quips.

"Great," I say. "She's going to blow you guys and then kill us all."

Terence is quick tonight. To Ross, without missing a beat: "So just a typical Friday night, eh?!" All four of us lose it, staggering like drunks as we try to catch our breath from laughter.

I know I'll pay for this night tomorrow, and probably a few days afterward. I'm already nauseous from mixing drinks and when I laugh, a nasty cough seizes me for a good minute. So much for recovery. But fuck it. Epic night, that I know I'll want to remember.

t-minus 144

For Autumn, who (lol) says there aren't enough (lolol) pictures of me around here (LOLOLOL):

The smug bitch on the left just booked Bonnaroo, so she's probably not going to shut about that for the next five months. Her friend on the right, however, will try to keep her in check and diversify topics for the 99.9% of you to whom Bonnaroo is Boringroo. They're thinking a post about lineup discoveries, one about festival gear recommendations, and maybe finally that MDMA PSA.

My cold was nearly gone but then we stayed out drinking all night with Kross, so I'm back to sounding like an emphysemic pug. Chaucer's into it.

That's it. That's all I've got at the moment. Shitty selfies and some humblebragging. I hope everyone is able to do some of this today (the relaxing part, not the drooling on the bed part):


drive thru


- Yeah hi I'd like the fame and fortune combo, but can you hold the accountability and public scrutiny and give me unconditional love instead?


What If, or In Defense of Snorkeling

There may come a day when Terence will turn to me and say Remember when you made me watch that movie about the time-traveling hermaphrodite who had sex with herself and gave birth to a baby...that was actually her? And I'll have to reply Yep. Yep I do. Because that was last night's activity.

As a dues-paying, voting member of SAG-Aftra, Terence gets free screeners of the award-nominated films. Super cool perk that's turned our living room into a regular AMC lately. No Horrible Bosses 2, either. Just compelling, thought provoking, heartstring-tugging dramas.

The stuff, in other words, that I don't like as much as time-traveling, self-impregnating hermaphrodites.

All movies are predicated upon a What If of some kind, but I like my What Ifs exotic. Big, outlandish, fantastical What Ifs that are so far removed from the realm of reality that my (admittedly sensitive, though gradually toughening) triggers remain safely out of reach. Give me science fiction. Action adventure. Horror. Give me post-apocalyptic chaos, ghosts, outer space, super powers, aliens, time travel. Alternate universes I can visit without cutting too close to anywhere near home. Give me something I have to imagine, because I've never gone through it. Family dysfunction? No thanks. Divorce? I'll pass. Abuse, disease, death and grief? Chaucer and I are going for a walk.

Spare me from having to vicariously relive, even obliquely, anything familiarly painful. Show me the never-known instead. Because when I unplug in front of the screen, I want to forget the kind of stuff that has too much real estate in my brain already. I want to be taken out of myself. Not shown a mirror, however distorted. Bottom line: the greater the possibility some element of a drama's plot has happened - or could happen - to me, the less interested I am in watching it.

This makes me sound like a dispassionate, maladjusted robot. I'm not, and I'd be -- wait hang on, let me adjust this dial on my neck -- I'd be more embarrassed of my cinema dramaphobia if I didn't consider it compensated, in the interest of culture and Deep Thinking, by the novels I read. Oh yeah and then there are all the feels of daily life. Got plenty of those. Doing okay with them. As well as the next person, anyway, I think.

But movies can be tricky little bastards. Some get to you organically, but others will manipulate the hell out of you. Push you to places that, if it's all the same, you'd rather not be pushed to for a tidy one hour, thirty minutes before being left bewildered, when the reel runs out, by a heartful and a headful of WHOA. WAIT. WHAT. WHOA.

It's the difference between scuba diving and snorkeling. You might see some dazzling, dangerous, indescribable things if you're willing to go deep and risk drowning. Or being eaten alive by sharks. Or you can float closer to the surface, still get a decent show, and be much safer.


If you've got time for a good What If this weekend, here are a few of my recent(ish) favorites:

Edge of Tomorrow: Live. Die. Repeat.
The Hunter (a more conventional, closer-to-Earth drama, but the animal lover in me was enchanted; the final fifteen minutes of this film are stunning)
Europa Report
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Road

And hey it's Friday! Would you like a pretty song to ease you into the weekend? 

Have a good one, guys.


Went to buy some add-ons for an app tonight and the Apple Store message window got a little sassy with me.

The nerve, right?

I actually didn't get that one but I did pick up the new "Wander" pack from AfterLight, which I have to say gives VSCOcam a run for its artificially faded, hipsteriffic money:

They are both so over me.


Night three of a gnarly cold. Box a day "Cool Touch" Kleenex habit. Laundry basket toppling with sweat-soaked pajamas and sheets. Too muddleheaded and achey to produce original content (I tried, honest, but the words are bulging and squirming and oh hey, time for more Advil). Instead, something not of my own, but much better anyway.

I'm halfway through Rabbit Is Rich, and my god. I have never in all my. A sampling:

The girls Buddy brings around are a good lesson to Harry in the limits of being single--hard little secretaries and restaurant hostesses, witchy-looking former flower children with grizzled ponytails and flat chests full of Navajo jewelry, overweight assistant heads of personnel in one of those grim new windowless office buildings a block back from Weiser where they spend all day putting computer print-outs in the wastebasket. Women pickled in limbo, their legs chalky and their faces slightly twisted, as if they had been knocked into their thirties by a sideways blow.

Jesus god.

He is glad to escape the house, the pinch of the women, their heat. Crazy the way they flog at each other with these ghosts of men, Daddy dead, Nelson gone, even Harry himself a kind of ghost in the way they talk of him as if he wasn't standing right there. Day after day, mother and daughter sharing that same house, it's not natural. Like water blood must run or grow a scum.

Some characterizations:

That slippery-quick salesman's smile of his, Rabbit can see it still. Like a switchblade without the click.

...she has milky skin like his daughter but is shorter, and the weary woman she will be is already moving into her face.

She looks allergic, that pushed-in face, like she'd have trouble breathing. Defects come in clumps.

The liquid in the glass he can't identify by its color, a sickly but intense red like old-fashioned cream soda or the fluid in thermometers.

He looks in the candlelight after saying this like a cardsharp who has snapped down an ace.

His gray suit makes him seem extra vulnerable, in the way of children placed in unaccustomed clothes for ceremonies they don't understand. 

...he enunciates with such casual smiling sonorousness that his sentences seem to keep traveling around a corner after they are pronounced. 

I'm going to keep a copy of this book with me at all times, so the next time someone mistakes what I do for writing, I can hurl it at them and yell "NO, THIS IS WRITING."

I remember starting Rabbit, Run several years ago but I must not have gotten very far. Either that or I just glided across the surface, not apprehending, too lazy to take my time with it. I don't think I've ever read anything as slowly as I'm reading this, which is probably more useful to a wannabe such as myself than a dozen workshops. Good thing my highlighter is digital because it'd be dry by now.

For storytelling my heart belongs to John Irving and for inventiveness I'm still reeling from Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad. But for craft? Why hello, John Updike. Hellooooooo.

magic to me

Ever since I was a teenager, I've had a thing for musicians. While my girlfriends were swooning over Kiefer Sutherland and River Phoenix, I was locked in my bedroom learning exactly how many Discman plays of Need You Tonight it took to lose myself in the fantasy that Michael Hutchence's breathy "come over here" was a summons meant for me.

It wasn't just his growly purr, his sensual mouth and emotive eyes that did me in. It was - as it is with every musical crush I have - the creative fire behind those things that made them so hot. The idea of someone being so moved by an experience that he can't keep it to himself. That he has to take to pen and paper, to guitar and microphone, lest he go crazy. I understand that impulse completely, because it's one I surrender to myself, right here, lest I go crazy. So it's not just attractive; it's relatable.

Then there's the irresistible fantasy of being the inspiration itself. Who doesn't want to be a muse? Even an unflattering portrayal would stroke the ego: congrats, you got under his skin, in his blood. He had to trap you in a song, tied to a melody. Lyrics aren't even a requirement. Some of the EDM I listen to seems so erotically charged that I marvel to think what encounters, what unfulfilled desires motivated its creation. Oh to be so sexy as to inspire the hypnotic rhythms of a trance song.

I'm dating a musician now, a fact which tickles the part of my brain that wants to believe in fate, even when all the other parts know better. He was in the right place; I was in the right place - that's serendipity, not destiny. And I'd date him whether he was a performer or a tax preparer, because of how huge his heart is. That his creative spark would shine through even the thickest cubicle walls is just a bonus.

But I can't deny the thrill of it. He casually grabs a guitar, strumming as he perches on a bar stool opposite where I stand slicing an onion, and a sudden flurry butterflies threatens the security of my fingertips. We've been together over a year; there aren't swarms of butterflies. But there are enough, reliably, to refresh that adolescent, locked-in-the-bedroom-with-INXS feeling. It doesn't matter what he plays - his own work, another's, or a silly parody of something familiar. Billy Bragg reworked as a paean to Chaucer's toys, say. Half the allure is his technical ability. We tend to be fascinated by skills we don't possess, and the adroitness with which Terence plays - and can improvise - blow my mind. He plays beautiful music, beautifully.

Which leads to a frustration of mine, that will pinch his heart to read right now even as he anticipates it: I wish he'd start writing music again. I'm a broken record in that department. He can't get through an impromptu jam session without my scolding compliments.

"This is you?? This is really, really good. I would listen to this, if I stumbled across it on Spotify. When did you write this?"

"Two-thousand...four? No, five."

Or sometimes: "Um...right now?"

And then I lay into him, like a coach whose prize athlete isn't giving it his all. And it's not my place to do so, but he tolerates it, maybe because my encouragement helps chips away at the self-doubt that keeps him from writing new stuff. Or maybe because he's the most easygoing person on the planet. Probably that.

I want him to start writing again because he's talented and because I believe in him, and because I wish for him the same thing I wish for myself: creative fulfillment. And tonight while he practiced for a show, I confessed to him another, wholly selfish reason I wish he'd write new songs: because every time he performs the old ones, I am reminded that he hasn't always been mine. That he lived a whole life before me, full of experiences that excluded me. Full of joy and pain and friends and lovers and feelings he couldn't convey to me if he tried. And the insecure, abandonment-fearing child inside of me grows anxious. Her chest gets tight and her thoughts get ugly. Maybe there was something he loved before, when he wrote that song, that he loved more than me. Something I don't have. Maybe he loves that thing still.

Ironic, that the very thing which makes him exciting to me would be the same thing that unnerves me.

Typical, that I'd manage to make my boyfriend's previous creative life about me.

Anyway, I was honest. I explained it as best I could, using my blog as a poor comparison. What if I did a reading, of some of my writing that hailed from a time before you knew me? Wouldn't you wonder about what I'd been through, about who or what had inspired those pieces? And doesn't it make you feel connected to me, that as I continue to write now, you're a part of that? You share the experiences that become my stories, so in a way they belong to you, too. 

He got it. And he said some things which I don't remember exactly, but which were sweet. I think he even said that none of his songs are about other girls, which made me feel ashamed, like my jealousy had boxed him into a corner he should never have had to retreat to.

And then suddenly we weren't talking about it anymore, the us that came before us. We were just the us we are now. He had been standing beside me at the kitchen island, watching me seed a pomegranate (a task he's usually in charge of). But now he moved behind me, reaching through my arms to peel the fruit which bobbed in a wide pot. "You have to hold it under the water. Like this, see? Just rub the seeds gently with your thumb, they'll break off easily." His chest against my back, his chin over my shoulder. His hands over mine, showing me the trick. And the gentleness in his voice undid me in a way that no whispering pop star ever could.


A little bit later he zipped up his guitar case and slung it over his shoulder, and I thought about all the times I've passed a stranger similarly equipped, on the sidewalk. How each time I've wondered about them, intrigued and inherently impressed. How occasionally I try to communicate, with a shy smile, my appreciation. That thing you do? It's magic to me. 

And as my boyfriend headed for the door, to go play for strangers songs he wrote before ever knowing me, I felt a pang to think of all the years that sit silently between us. But I knew he wouldn't be gone long. I knew that he, his guitar, and the magic made between them would be home soon.

eric prydz

Do you hate EDM? Do you have six minutes and an open mind? If so, give me a chance to change it?

I mentioned the other day that there are a few musicians I'll pay to see again and again; one such musician is Eric Prydz. He's a Swedish DJ who lives here in Los Angeles, actively producing under his real name and two additional labels that play on that name: Pryda and Cirez D.

Cirez D was the show I was desperately (Viddy is no more, alas) trying to score tickets to, for Halloween, after the event sold out. We ended up finding a pair on Craigslist, and between the music and our ridiculous costumes, it turned out to be one of the best nights we had last year. I didn't post photos at the time, but we were right under the booth. I was in heaven.

Nothing a DJ loves more than a phone in his face! 

I was sliiiiightly excited, haha

There are about a million varieties of electronic music and some of them I find just awful. Straight house bores me, IDM scares me, and trap sends me running for the door. Also not a big fan of epic, sweeping female vocals that make me feel like I wandered into an Abercrombie & Fitch.

But progressive house, Dutch house, electro house, tech house, trance, and even moombahton - yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Clean, simple beats that build slowly, trance out for a bit, then pull back in? You can't pry me from the dance floor.

If you think you hate EDM, you very well may, and there very well may be nothing I could share that would change that. But it could just be that you hate certain kinds of it. So in the interest of recruiting a few new Eric Prydz fans, I thought I'd share one of his best. It's a track we danced to on Halloween, and it's utterly immersive live. He's kicking off a Pryda tour next month and it would make me so happy to think that someone discovered him through my blog.

Check it out if you've got time. Either way, have a great weekend.

p.s. "Lycka" means happiness in Swedish.

the island

Once there was a girl who lived on a boat. The boat had no sail; she went wherever the water took her. She didn't mind following the vagaries of the current, though they sometimes led her to strange places. The girl tried to keep up a spirit of adventure, even when what she really felt was fear.

One day she spotted an island on the horizon, lush and welcoming. It was quite a ways off, but since there was no wind to fight her, she lowered her oars into the water and pulled. She pulled and pulled until she reached clear blue shallows, then jumped out and dragged her boat ashore. The girl, weary of drifting, was happy to be on dry land. She decided to stay for a while.


The island was small but plentiful with things the girl could use. Palms heavy with fruit fed her, and she fashioned crude tools from shells that littered the beach. Every day she followed a simple routine, gathering food and supplies until dark, then falling asleep by the warmth of a fire. She was alone but not lonely. The girl took pleasure in exploring the coastline, in long walks across cool sand at dusk. Occasionally she'd sit and gaze at the sea, purple-black, endlessly open, and be glad for the shelter and comfort of the island.


A fortnight passed, then another, and the island came to feel like home. The girl never saw another soul, so when she woke one night to the distant sounds of music, of drums and laughter and song, she thought her mind was playing tricks on her. She sat up, shaking off sleep, and listened. There was no question, though: she wasn't alone on the island.


PPRL: In This Our Life, by Ellen Glasgow (winner, 1942)

In This Our Life veers back and forth between soap opera-worthy drama and stultifying existential meditation. The drama is compelling, and the reason I blasted through the second half of the novel in a day or two. The existential meditation - on the nature of happiness, on what it means to grow old and out of touch, on beauty vs. character - well, it's stultifying. There's an intriguing, depressingly timely secondary plot about racism which I think could have elevated the story immensely had it been further fleshed out. But (perhaps due to the book predating the Civil Rights Movement) the subject was only marginally, if poignantly, explored.

The novel was adapted into a film starring Bette Davis as the shallow, spoiled, selfish, husband-stealing Stanley* (odd choice of names, right? her sister is named Roy and I could find no explanation either in the book or online as to why the girls have traditionally male names). But other than the Davis connection it doesn't seem like In This Our Life is particularly well-known or popular. HOWEVER I'm still going to throw down some super basic questions for discussion/papers because those who can't teach, blog. Or something. (Shut up okay it's just fun for me.)

Again and again Glasgow stresses the dichotomy of young vs. old, old-fashioned vs. modern. How does this polarity manifest in the novel's characters? (Consider the handwringing and hindsight of the "old guard" vs. the naiveté and caprice of youth.) Conversely, what challenges are shared by both young and old alike? 

There are four major parent-child relationships in the novel (Asa-Stanley, Asa-Roy, Lavinia-Stanley, Lavinia-Roy). Choose two to compare and contrast. 

Explore the upstairs/downstairs (family/servants) element of the story. What do we learn about the characters from how one set perceives the other? What do their respective prejudices and notions say about themselves?

Discuss the theme of "do overs" in the novel (i.e., second chances, vicarious pleasures and living through one's children, etc). Compare it to the theme of regret / roads not taken.

Birds are a recurring visual motif in the novel. What do they represent? Freedom, obviously, but what about beyond that? Think migration (Stanley), nesting behavior (Lavinia), a sparing quality of consumption (Asa)...


*Fun fact: apparently Barack Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetoro, was named after Davis's character (source).


Really not much I can say about the attack in Paris that hasn't been said already. And anyway once I start talking about religion I don't shut up until I've pissed off at least a few dozen people, so. 

Instead, enjoy this amazing visual:

(edited out is the bit where I said I'd doodle something myself if I wasn't such an awful artist)

For reference:

from the mind of the inimitable Allie Brosh, Hyperbole and a Half

coachell no

Okay everyone, settle down. Ready to share my much anticipated response to the Coachella 2015 lineup, which dropped three hours ago. Sorry it took so long. These first world problems of mine just stack UP sometimes, hoo boy.

Boo, in a word. Or if that's too harsh, meh.

I've seen Jack White. AC/DC? *makes jerkoff motion* Zero interest in Drake. And Coachella is just too damn expensive to not love at least one headliner.

Most of the top and middle tier acts I've either seen already or passed on watching at a previous festival. The rest I'm either not into or ambivalent about. There are a few bands/producers out there that I would pay to see again and again...but none of them are on that lineup.

I'm sure there's tons of talent in the lower tiers that I'm just unfamiliar with, but that's not enough of a reason to go.

Three draws: Ryan Adams, Angus Stone, and Hozier. That's it. Two of whom come through LA every couple of years or so. Not worth it, when there are a dozen other festivals and plenty of years ahead, anyway.

So I guess thanks, Coachella? For saving me some cash? Maybe I'll see you in '16?

In the meantime: your move, Bonnaroo.


I'm fascinated by dark emotion. By the heavy feelings we are taught to suppress - to contain and manage. Anger, fear, envy, shame, hatred. We police these impulses strictly, whipping them like lion tamers, convincing ourselves that we're in control. But they remain wild and, to some degree, intractable. And I think there's a kind of honesty that comes along with their release. That honesty is what interests me.

If some of my posts seem a little weird, that's probably where I'm at: in the folded-over space between propriety and positivity. It's pure and it's intriguing, and sometimes I get sick of pretending it doesn't exist.


On Wednesday afternoon I decided the best way to ring in 2015 would be to get upset about something spectacularly stupid. Okay well I didn't exactly decide, but the end result would have been the same if I had: an early evening argument with my date that escalated unnecessarily, since I was still hours away from enacting my two most important resolutions: 

1) to care more about what really matters
2) to let go, let go, let go

Have you ever gotten in a fight with your significant other right before you're supposed to head out to some event? It's the worst. You're worked up with all this emotion and meanwhile the clock is ticking and you know that if you don't resolve things quickly or just drop it, the night will be ruined. As usual, Terence got to the high road first. "Let's just shelve it, okay? Let's just go have fun."

I felt weird about that and said as much, because pretending I'm okay isn't in my skill set, and jumping from harsh words back to kind ones within a matter of seconds is fucking hard for me. But there was Terence, calmly holding up signs that said RIGHT WAY and LAUGHTER AHEAD, so I took a deep breath and merged slowly into his lane.

After a little while, after a last-minute outfit change by me, a Lyft ride to the venue, a ten minute wait in the shivering cold to get in, another five minute wait in the coat check line, trips to the ATM and the bar, the tension between us dissipated and we settled into the scene. This process may or may not have been assisted by two little blue capsules I picked up at Pinkman's Black Friday sale. (As we knew it would be, and as made it easier to shelve the disagreement. It's hard to keep a frown on your face when the lap bar comes down on the roller coaster.)

Bit of a shit show, really. Multiple open bars meant that by the time we got there most of the crowd was over served and quickly approaching wasted. We caught all of Classixx, who announced the new year and then basically jetted after a forty-minute set, and later a portion of Blood Orange (intriguing if bizarre) - but other than that the music was mostly a disappointing, pandering mix of 90s hip hop and trap.

But: pharmaceuticals.

One of the best effects of (certain) pharmaceuticals is their ability to take you out of yourself completely. Out of your body, out of your thoughts. You drift up to a higher plane with a much, much wider perspective. Suddenly things come into view that were invisible an hour before, like Wow are you lucky to be in such a loving relationship and Wow do petty things not fucking matter.

Even stone cold sober, Terence is an unbelievably affectionate and demonstrative guy. High he's Romeo in black jeans. Romeo and I escaped the crush and found some space for ourselves towards the back of the upstairs ballroom. We danced and grinned at one another as we swam through the deepest waves (because at a certain point, speech becomes impossible and it's all you can do to keep air in your lungs) and just took it all in: the night, each other, the time behind us and the year ahead.

Lights flickering across us, laughter and happy chaos bouncing off the bubble around us, I thought about everything I want to accomplish over the next twelve months. Less a list to be ticked off then a trajectory I want to launch myself on, the landing pad of which I hope will see a more peaceful, more Zen, more open-hearted Ellie.

The feels got the better of me and even though I knew I should keep these promises to myself, I heard myself sharing them. "I want my inside to be as as beautiful to you as my outside," I babbled semi-coherently, a silly thing to say because Terence never makes me feel that the latter is my stronger suit. I guess I feel that way, though, because there I was saying it.

I don't remember what he said in return, but I do remember his expression, which was soft - both an acknowledgment and a refusal, like he understood what I was trying to say, but that also I am okay, to him, just as I am.

We stayed until two-thirty, when the party devolved into something resembling the last hour of a wedding reception. Girls on stage wearing less than I could comprehend, considering the weather. Dudes so obliterated and slack-jawed that in their suits and loosened ties they looked like more like stock brokers after a crash than NYE revelers. Time to go.

Back in the coat check line, the crowd thinning around us, I was suddenly overcome with an urgent need to make sure the next day's slate was completely clean. "Hey, Terence," I said, because it seemed important to use his name. "I'm sorry about today. That was really fucking stupid." And of course, black-jeaned Romeo received this as he would, with grace, a dimple, and a kiss.


We spent New Year's Day entirely out of the house. We picked up croissants and coffee and took them up to the roof with Chaucer, where we found the scene of devastation we used for this. After we ate we started walking. We walked and walked and walked some more. A cat-sitting visit to a friend's, then an ambling trip all around downtown, just to enjoy the rare LA cold snap. FIDM, Staples Center, the Ritz-Carlton, then over to the arts district for a dinner of sausages and beer. We took pictures of the city, of Christmas trees (and the garden variety), of ourselves and one another. Tiny blue molecules still floating through our bloodstream, we felt contended, connected, and cuddly in the chilly night air.

It was the coldest, cleanest-feeling January 1st on record.


Oh hai 2015. Wats up.

I've got a number of posts queued in drafts percolating that I hope to get out over the next week, including a longerish post about New Year's Eve and Day, an open letter to the Snuggie® director of marketing, a PSA about MDMA usage, and a story about a very sad girl who lives on a boat (who definitely does not represent me, because I never get so sad I'd want to live on a boat, haha can you imagine? no way not me).

In the meantime, I made a thing from a thing Terence made. We didn't really get any good photos on Wednesday night, but he quite adorably took a video of us that he was super excited about because it came out so well. When we were looking at it on his phone he pointed out how pretty the colors of the still frames are, from all the lights flashing around the ballroom. So I cobbled this together, to make him smile when he wakes up (OH HAI BOYFREN), but hopefully he won't mind my also sharing it here.

The new year makes me very aware of how lucky I am to have you guyz, not the least because this blog is so incredibly important to my sanity and happiness and self-esteem. So thanks for participating in this, my humble little Sanity and Happiness and Self-Esteem Project. Now let's go forth and crush MMXV, yes yes?

NYE baller

And I thought I had a wild night.

Last time I leave him without a babysitter, that's for sure.