Your fat little dog

is staring at me across the aisle of this dirty subway car

I saw the way you yanked him through the door, even though he was scared of the gap below. (I don't blame him. Transitions make me nervous, too.)

Your fat little dog is staring at me as though he knows

I'd give him fewer treats, but more love

trying trying

Lately I've been focused on trying new solutions to old problems. WAIT WHAT? WHAT IS THIS REVOLUTIONARY IDEA ELLIE PLEASE TELL US MORE.

I know. But when it comes to lifestyle behaviors and habits, I've not been, historically speaking, the most flexible person. I probably get this from my very stubborn dad, who probably got it from the Navy (and before that, a pair of emotionally repressed parents). A thing was done how it was done, period, no exceptions, no deviations. Saturdays were for errands, no matter how beautiful the day was. A pasta dinner should be a simple, cheap affair comprised of jarred sauce and canned cheese. The silent space after that dinner was for the evening news, or maybe a movie - rarely conversation or play.

I have my own similarly rigid programming. I'm extremely linear in my thinking. A before B before C, or you may as well just throw the whole fucking alphabet out. I can't possibly sit down to write until my apartment is clean. What's the point of going to the gym if I don't have a healthy meal already prepared for when I come home? Sneaking in a quick two hours with Timo is stupid and frustrating - I'll just wait and see him on the weekend.

The problem is that I'm not satisfied by the results of sticking to such limiting rules. I know I could feel more productive, more accomplished, more centered, and more joyful. So I'm trying new tacks.

"Playing it by ear" when it comes to seeing my boyfriend hasn't worked particularly well. At the last minute I panic, feeling overworked, tired, ugly. But believing that I have to be my most sparkly, prettiest self in order to deserve and enjoy his love - that hasn't worked so well. I barely see him on that plan. So now I'm--we're--trying preset days at my place and at his place. And I'm trying to embrace the intimacy that comes with sharing even my dullest, deadest self with him.

In the past, my creativity has peaked in the late evening - the smallest hours, in fact. I've always been this way. Some idea hatches during the day and I let my brain fill and fill until in the quiet and in the dark, it's ready to spill over. Except now my late evenings are a haze of pure exhaustion, and the lies I tell myself (tonight I'll write tonight I swear tonight) just pile up higher and deeper.

So I'm trying writing first thing, rather than last.

Trying just trying is easier than it sounds for me, but I give myself an escape clause: if you hate it, you can stop. Or, you know, try something else. 


There is a thing I love about living in LA, and that is the feeling that it will never be mine. I will never own this city. It's just too huge, and my purview too limited. My job, my small social scope, even my carfreedom - all serve to tighten the geographic circles in which I move. Because of this, Los Angeles retains for me a sense of wonder.

And I'm never more blissed out on this wonder than when I ride home after spending time with Timo. I lean my head back and just take in this city that's not really mine. Neon steel concrete glass flash. Crushing cruel powerful pretty promise. The big, beautiful shit show that is LA. It moves me, sappy romantic that I am.

Glitz and grit are indistinguishable in those dark hours, and co-mingle like my emotions. How on earth can I feel so lonely? I just left his arms. What the fuck am I so happy about? I'm exhausted and a week from pay day. What did I do to deserve the amazing people in my life? They definitely don't need my bullshit. 

It's a heady cocktail of melancholy, nostalgia, self-recrimination and gratitude. It gives the best hangovers.

miles yet left

A thing happened last summer that I found out about last fall, and that thing was my brother's death.

I only had one brother. He was four years older than me. He was an addict, a violent criminal, and mentally ill. When he died I hadn't seen him in over a decade. The last I spoke with him was when our mother died; when our dad died we had no contact whatsoever. His final parole officer was legally obligated to send me warnings that he still made threats on my life. He didn't recommend reconnecting.

Anyway, regardless of all this, learning he'd died (of liver poisoning) knocked the wind out of me. In fact that's very much what it felt like--like a deflation. Like a sigh. Like a third tire going flat on the saddest, most beat-up station wagon ever to limp along the road. In this tragicomic metaphor, my family is of course the station wagon. A car full of alcoholics, anger junkies, depressives, and well-intentioned failures. I'm allowed to say this, being one of them.

When that third tire went kaput, it was like Well fuck. Now what. You motherfuckers all skipped town, and now I'm the only one left, to what? Elevate the family name back up to some baseline of respectability? Prove that our existence was worth something? Well, you guys upvoted the wrong one. Prepare for an afterlife of disappointment.  

I've had a lot of cheese-stands-alone moments in my life, and this was the loneliest cheese I'd ever felt myself to be.

And when I got over myself, I mourned for him, and all the happinesses he might have had. Did have, a very long time ago. I cried for the little boy who pulled his littler sister in a red wagon down a sidewalk in a town so small it didn't matter if they got lost. A smart if difficult boy who loved paper planes, then model planes. A boy who hid from the things that troubled him in boxes of baseball cards, then British Invasion box sets. A teenager whose fucked-up internal wiring was all too easily ignited by some fucked-up parenting. My brother didn't stand much of a chance, to be fair. Our parents were a mess. Our household was a mess. I survived, relatively unscathed, by the skin of my teeth.

So yes, there it is I guess. This post ostensibly about him is really about me, and how I moved on from the death of my last remaining immediate family member: easily enough. Like a patched-up tire with some miles yet left on it. Like you do.


Oh, and because I know some of you soft-hearted suckers will feel compelled to write kind letters of condolence - not necessary. Thank you. But save your ink for a time (if ever it happens) that I've moved you, or made you laugh, or made you think. Matt was a stranger to me for most of our lives, and I'd feel disingenuous collecting comfort over a loss I'd long since accepted. It's ok.

monkey's fist

A boy and a girl sit crossed-legged facing one another, with a knot of rope between them. The knot is thick as an apple, gnarled and tight. It would take all of their strength to untangle it. It would take cooperation.

The boy is anxious to do exactly this; he's thinking about the many things they could do with a sturdy length of rope. "We could build a swing," he says, "or make a jump rope. We could wrap it around a tree branch, for climbing."

But the girl doesn't want to untie the knot. She likes the feel of it in her hand, and the reassuring heft of it. She likes running her thumb across the whiskery fibers that have come loose. It wasn't easy to get the rope so intricately bound, and though she can't explain why, she knows something would get lost in the undoing of it.

And the girl doesn't see toys and games in a line of unused rope, anyway. She sees an anchor that will hold her in place. She sees a tether and a chain to all the worst parts of herself. She sees a noose.

"What if I told you I want to leave it like this?" she asks the boy, holding it up like a promise that feels true in the moment. "What if it was never anything else?"

The boy looks at her, and looks at the knot. He thinks, saying nothing. After a moment he stands up and comes round to sit just beside the girl.

"Then I suppose I'll have to find a new way of looking at it." And together they waited for dusk, and for the shadows that creep and twist, changing what we see--if not what's really there. 


I've been thinking lately about forgiveness. Whether I understand it, and whether I'm truly capable of it. I'm pretty sure I don't and I'm not, except under the rarest of circumstances.

Forgiveness, to me, means being able to honestly say "I'm no longer angry or resentful about what you did that hurt me. I've moved past the pain of it. We're okay again--really."

I don't think I've ever been able to say that. Not in any situation that actually matters. Peccadillos don't count. I'm talking about the big stuff--real trespasses against the heart. Lies and betrayal, abuse and rejection. Choices made with wanton disregard of my well being. Conscious cruelty.

There are a handful of people in my life whom I think I could forgive anything. Like, four. They know who they are. And I know that I could forgive them anything, because they've already tested me - they've already hurt me deeply. I love them still, and always will.

But that is four to seven billion--a ratio I don't see growing any larger. Everyone else sits way, way below these untouchables in the Danger Zone of Unforgiveability.

And the thing is? I'm not even ashamed of this. It isn't as if I feel burdened by bricks of still-burning anger towards the ghosts of my past. I don't feel much of anything, other than distaste and dislike. And that's just it. What's the point of forgiveness unless it really does restore what was there before? I don't think it means anything unless you can genuinely say, "Yeah ok, that happened, but it doesn't matter. Our relationship is worth just as much to me. I feel about you the same as I did before."

Anything short of that seems at best an exercise in self-protection and at worst an assertion of smug superiority.

If when you say I forgive you what you really mean is, You are less to me than you were before, but I shall grant you the favor of my acceptance - don't say it at all. That's phony, patronizing, and pointless. Fuck that. Call it like it is. Say: It's not okay, and it never will be. It doesn't make you bitter or small-minded to withhold forgiveness. It makes you bold enough to stick unflinchingly to your values. It shows you know your self-worth.

Here's what I say. I say don't forgive someone unless your heart honestly still has room for them - and the same room they had before, with all their favorite posters and that ratty old bedspread they love. Don't give them some redecorated, renovated bullshit room they won't recognize and don't want. And if your heart doesn't have room for the one who hurt you? Put up a vacancy sign and wait. There are 6,999,999,999 others who could potentially move in.


The landlord I have right now is my favorite landlord I have ever had. He is also far and away the worst landlord I have ever had.

He's inept in the extreme. Toothless in a residential conflict (of which there have been many).  Useless in a maintenance crisis (of which there have been many). Almost always unavailable. But I can't help it. I love him.

His name is Nigel, and I refuse to change that to protect him, because he is the Nigelest Nigel you could ever know. He's British. Yes that's right: my landlord is a Brit named Nigel. I bet I could stop right there, because I bet you already love him, too.

Nigel is short, sixty-ish, slightly pot-bellied, with reddish hair and ruddy skin. He wears glasses and is partial to navy and grey track suits, though I can't imagine Nigel runs much track.

It was Nigel who clinched the deal, when I was considering moving to this building.

I'd gone through a third party rental service, one run via a very cute website I'd stumbled across. The service hosts a limited, carefully curated selection of stylish but affordable spaces across LA's various neighborhoods. But the girl who handled my listing was supercilious, impatient, and moody -- awful. From day one I wanted to tell her to take a flying leap -- but I wanted the apartment, bad.

When I finally came to view the unit, she turned the pressure up, big time. There were other interested parties, I had to move fast, etc etc. She stood there in the doorway, portfolio in hand, all but tapping her toe at me. I had half a mind to bolt when Nigel came tapping at the door.

"Oh, hello," he popped his head in. "I'm Nigel, the building manager." He stuck out his hand and smiled his funny, shy little smile. I'd come to know it over the next year as the same one that appears whenever he cracks a joke (of which there have been many). Nigel stood quietly nearby as my would-be leasing agent reiterated the building's amenities (of which there are few).

I ignored her and turned to Nigel. "Do you live in the building?"

"Yes, I'm on the third floor. Anything you need at all, I'll give you my number, just text anytime."

Live-in building managers are a good sign in my book. I felt myself deciding. The lure of having this sitcom character as my landlord was too great.

Then he piped up again: "Do you know, if you take this unit, you'll get free internet?"

"I'm sorry?"

"Yeah, it's the only one, and only because you're right above the laundry room modem. I've tried it myself. I don't know how strong the signal is, but I suppose if you're close enough to the door..."

And the rest is history.

Well, no. The rest is shit story, because almost immediately after I moved in, disaster struck. Check that: disasters.

There was the time my bathroom roof caved in due to a plumbing issue in the apartment above. And if you're thinking Oh no, I hope it wasn't... it was. It was that, exactly. Nigel's response? A lot of hand-wringing, exclaiming Oh dear, and an infuriating refusal to commit (without his boss's approval) to the expense of a 24-hour emergency plumber. Repair that took days longer than it should have.

There was the time water started pouring from my kitchen ceiling...through a light fixture. Nigel's response? Disbelief that another plumbing issue would strike again, and so soon, and only my apartment. Assurances that no electrical fires were possible. Repair that took days longer than it should have.

There was the time Timo -- having accidentally taken my key and returned to hide it outside my window while I was at work, hid it a little too well -- and Nigel had to be summoned to produce a spare. His response? He'd not properly labeled his copy of my key, and wasn't sure which of several dozen it was. Famished and exhausted from work, I sank to the floor in the drafty hallway outside my door, fantasizing about my fridge and my bed. My bumbling, embarrassed landlord tried key after key after key, chatting me up amiably the whole while, as if we were having a cozy afternoon tea instead of fighting with a deadbolt at 11pm on a Sunday. He felt worse about how cold and tired and hungry I was than anything else, and eventually insisted I wait in the model unit across from my own while he called a locksmith. Nigel came in to find me curled up tightly on the tiny love seat, clutching the (inflatable) bed's flimsy coverlet, the world's most miserable lockout. He offered to order me a pizza.

When The Great First Floor Feud of 2017 broke out (long story short: I had an unbelievably inconsiderate, chain-smoking, music-blaring, offkey-singing asshole of a neighbor), Nigel did not have my back.

When multiple residents decided it was cool to use the patch of stones underneath my window as their dog's personal WC, Nigel did not have my back.

When one of my asshole neighbor's friends stole my doormat and it was caught on camera, Nigel did not have my back.

And yet.

There was how he was with Chaucer, and how Chaucer was with him. And if I've said it once I've said it a hundred times - the way to my heart is through my dog's heart. Always will be. Also: regularly hearing my doggo's very English name pronounced with a very English accent? Priceless.

There is his unfailing self-deprecation. There is his pure, unselfconscious and utterly organic British humor, which will catch me off guard in the most welcome moments, such as when I'm feeling a bit low. There is the fact that he's the only person in this building who routinely receives packages from Barnes and Noble. There is the fact that he managed to secure a lease renewal for me at a zero dollar increase. That's zero, nil, nothing, nada.

And there is the fact that every so often he'll stop on the stairs outside my door, hang out for a moment while I'm coming or going, and randomly open up about his personal life. About his friends in the valley, who are lovely, but who have rather annoying children, to be honest. About the family he's going home to see, but could probably just as well do without, thanks very much. About whatever.

When Nigel gets Nigelly, you can easily see what's underneath. A very sweet, very funny, possibly lonely but overall well-adjusted fellow living abroad who's ok with being the odd one in.

And I'm glad he's in where he is, in America, Los Angeles, Koreatown, 90020.


I stumbled onto Prettyville on Christmas Eve.

I'd closed the store alone, a little earlier than even I'd gotten permission to. A few last-minute customers had wandered up, looking hesitant and slightly sheepish, like they knew we should all be someplace better, and felt equal parts guilty and defiant. Well, you're here too, so do your job and feed me. 

But I was uncharacteristically firm, shutting the lights and shaking my head. With a feeling of beneficence, I dismissed the crew and bundled up for the walk home.

I'm used to Christmases alone. My family's been gone for a while, and boyfriends are usually with theirs. This was the first one without Chaucer, though. That was a bit rough. Still, it's really not so bad. The streets are bright but calm, everyone indoors already celebrating or gearing up to. I have the place to myself.

Timo was of course in Germany, though this time our separation was under vastly different circumstances. This time, it wasn't breakup and heartbreak; this time, it was just a visit home. He was coming back to me, and to us.

The thought of that was brightness and calm, too.

The gym was closed, naturally, and naturally it being so made me want a run even more. But there is no running in K-town. There is not even texting-and-walking in K-town. The sidewalks are absolutely treacherous, and demand one's full attention. Still, I figured if I stayed on the actual streets (there being no traffic anyway), I could minimize my chance of face-planting and phone-shattering.

I ran west on 4th.

I love my neighborhood not because it is any thing of beauty - it is not, though it has many fun, funky little pockets of color and culture. I love it because it's here that I picked myself back up again, when everything went to shit. K-town gave me shelter and safety while I licked my wounds and accepted my new realities.

But yes: it's a crowded, cramped, and occasionally crazy mess, and in my free time I almost always hop on the train or bus, or jump in an Uber and leave it. And until Christmas Eve, those are the only ways I'd ever left it. I'd never actually walked my way out of it.


I didn't know exactly what lay exactly west of me, literally up the street I live on, because I'd only ever headed west along the very busy thoroughfares of Wilshire, or Third, or Beverly. And while I knew that somewhere in that general direction was a very lovely neighborhood I sometimes rode through, I didn't have my precise bearings on what or where.

Prettyville is Hancock Park. Hancock Park is, in my opinion, the most breathtakingly beautiful neighborhood in Los Angeles. I've been to every gorgeous little beach town on the coast. I know enough of Echo Park and Silverlake and Los Feliz to appreciate how delightful they are. I worked in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. I think the Hollywood Hills are stunning - as is Eagle Rock. And Timo and I walk the handsome residential streets of his own West Hollywood all the time.

Hancock Park blows them all away. It is unlike anything I have ever seen.

Maybe it's the midwesterner in me. Maybe it's the OCD in me. Maybe it was the fact that it was Christmas Eve, and many of the homes were aglow with carefully strung, twinkling lights. But I was gobsmacked. Block after block of jaw-dropping, multi-level mansions (most, I've since learned, built in the 1920s). Sprawling, immaculately maintained lawns with thoughtfully designed landscaping. Stone walls and high hedges. Ivy and thick-limbed trees. The roads themselves wide, tree-lined, and lit with old-fashioned street lamps. The contrast between what I'd just left and what I'd just found - it was like stumbling into a movie set. My eyes popping out of my head, I slowed from a jog to a crawl as I took it all in.

Prettyville was dead empty that misty holiday night. Alone with my thoughts, my wonder, and my breath coming in little puffs, I fell in love. I'd never want to live in Prettyville - not without a team of housekeepers and interior designers to unburden me of the stress of trying to Fit In and Keep Up. But holy shit. What a treasure, right under my nose.

I've since made night runs in Prettyville an occasional thing, when I'm not feeling the ugliness of the gym and the monotony of the treadmill. Only nights, though; that's when it's most magical to me. It is always so quiet, so still. I rarely see anyone walking around. Never anyone else jogging. Hardly any cars pass through. It's kind of unbelievable, like a secret I can't believe hasn't gotten out. Every time I'm there I half-expect to be apprehended. Thrown out, for not belonging. Excuse me, ma'am, this area is for successful people only. You'll need to leave immediately. 

Prettyville doesn't make me pine for more, though. It's aspirational, sure, but not because it oozes wealth. It's the peacefulness of the place I'd want for myself. The lack of chaos, at the end of what I have to imagine are some very long days. Prettyville mortgages can't come cheap.

My heart does ache a little when I think of how much Chaucer would have loved it. I can see him trotting along its smooth, straight sidewalks, holding his head high to look left then right. He was always curious but fearless in a new place. Sniffing the air, tall and regal, but with his wonderfully goofy face. I wish it could have been a Christmas present for both of us.

that innate quality

Nice moment on the train home tonight.

An elderly woman was stepping into the car just as the doors were closing, and the rolling cart she pulled behind her got caught on the wrong side. Those doors aren't super sensitive to obstructions, and they don't bounce back as readily as they should--her cart was stuck outside and it didn't look like anything was going to prevent it from being ripped away in another second or two.

Several people sprang into action: a man who'd boarded at the previous station with his little girl, a pair of chatty middle-aged women sitting with a group of five of six others, and a kid in Converse and headphones who moments before had been nodding away to his music.

The whole thing was over in a flash. A flurry of arms and legs, a short burst of alarm noise. Strangers who act on instinct and that innate quality of human compassion. Next thing you know the woman is sitting safely in her seat, looking around at us with a grateful smile. I briefly locked eyes with the father whose daughter had watched the scene standing stock-still. The train car was silent for a moment, catching its breath, before we burrowed further into the night. Back to our homes and our loves, back to our jobs and our worries, back to whatever things would divide us from one another once more.

these precious hours

It wouldn't be accurate to say that every day is chaos. That would be exaggerating. But it is, generally speaking, an exceptionally busy location. High volume. Lunches are quick turnover, with lots of busy professionals streaming in from nearby businesses and the courthouse. Lots of tourists, too. Dinners are more tourists, lots of dates, and lots of regular customers.

My days usually fly by. Even when it's slow, there are a million things to do to get ready for the next rush. Constant restocking, constant cleaning and prep work. In between all this I squeeze in my administrative duties. Paperwork, ordering, emails, whatever. It is utterly unglamorous, and some nights I drag myself home feeling flattened and gross, because on crazier days, it can be grueling. But in its better moments, it can be stupidly fun. We're a small team, and pretty tight knit. When we get in the zone we are unstoppable, and there comes a real sense of satisfaction from moving quickly and efficiently, endlessly multitasking and holding a dozen different thoughts in your head. It takes a long, long time to really get it down, and when you do, you feel like a badass. It's high pressure, and we find a thrill in handling that pressure well.

At some point, I stop and eat lunch. My company has an incredibly generous policy towards feeding its employees. Within reason (there are some pricy things on the menu), we have carte blanche to eat what we want, when we want it. This is no small thing. This saves me hundreds in grocery money. On top of that, we're given a 50% discount on the products we actually sell. Organic, grass-fed, ethically and locally sourced, and just plain delicious. This too is no small thing.

My lunches have come to be spent at the desk, though. As much as I know I should take a real break, get some air, go find a tree and escape the mob -- there's too much to do. And if I don't put a dent in it then, I'll have to put in the hours later, when it's dark and cold and everyone else has gone home, and all I want is a bath, a bed, and my boyfriend's arms. So I sacrifice.

I can say without question that I love my job. Not because I have a love of restaurants, or the service industry, or hospitality in general. Not because my company is anything spectacular (though it really is pretty great as far as things go), and not because my coworkers are amazing (though some of them truly are). I love my job because I'm good at it, and because I never get tired of people, even when they are idiots. I love my job because it's both easy and challenging. It forces me to be focused and calm and problem-solve all day...and then I can just leave it all behind at night. It is a no-stress job that pays me enough to live a lifestyle I'm content with. It's enough. It works. And I'm grateful for it.

Sometime between 9:30 and 11pm, depending on what the day brought and what madness piled up, I pull my backpack on, slip my subway card into my pocket, lock up, and head home. I am always the last to leave, usually by an hour. I always leave alone. Sometimes this can be lonely. But it's also empowering. In a way, it really is my place. I spend more time there than anyone, now that my boss is running two stores. I'm entirely responsible for how it looks, how clean and safe it is, and how happy it makes both its customers and its employees. And when I shut off the lights and leave at night, I look at this little place I've spent the past year and a half in with pride.


There is no feeling like that of catching the train just as you get to the station. If you're a subway person, you know what I'm talking about. I must have incredible subway juju, because this happens a lot. And thank god for that, because past 8pm, trains only run every 20 minutes or so. That wait can really drain.

Either way, on the ride home I'm usually texting with Timo, checking Twitter, or listening to music to block out crazy yelling subway people. I save my nighttime news (Reuters TV app - it's awesome) for when I get home.

My after-work home life is something of a disaster. I am usually too beat to make anything of these precious hours, and end up fucking around online, or texting, or falling in a Twitter hole. It's bad. And I've reached a breaking point with it, internally. I shouldn't say I do nothing with the time, because the fact is most nights I go for run. But that's it. No reading. No writing. Nothing creative or intellectual or self-improving.

Sleep happens when I finally give up on whatever chimerical vision I've deluded myself into (Tonight I'll start blogging again! Maybe I'll FaceTime with Cameron! Ok for sure I'm picking up that book again...), and I climb into bed a bit sheepishly, a bit ashamed of how my life is passing me by...but also fairly satisfied with myself, for another hard day's work behind me.

I may not be excelling right now. But I am doing ok.

calm waters

So let's see. What's life been like, lo these many months? Boring in a good way, I guess. No drama, personal or professional. Compared to 2015-2016, the excitement levels of my existence have flatlined. No living with a manipulative, passive-aggressive ex-boyfriend. No insane, abusive boss. No panic over money or housing. No utter terror about the direction of my life. And while I'm grateful for the calm waters, they leave me questioning what I have worth writing about. But, as I say, I'm forcing myself through the quotidian in hopes of striking richer ground further out.

Sunday through Tuesday, I close the store. That means I go in at about 1pm, and stay until about 9:30 or 10. Here's what that looks like:

I wake up at around 9am. Lately, because of the cold, I jump out of bed long enough to turn on my oven, take my thyroid pill, and jump back under the covers. (My studio apartment is tiny enough that running the oven for about 30 minutes is sufficient to heat it up.)

I read Twitter for a few minutes, catch up on the latest school shooting, and check my email. I've usually gotten a handful of work emails, most of which don't require my immediate action (I'm on a few company-wide mailing lists, most of which are the purview of other departments - I have to stay in the loop, though). The ones that do, quick directives or questions from my boss - those I answer immediately. She and I are very good about keeping in frequent and punctual contact, which is essential for running the store smoothly.

While making coffee (kettle on the stove + a French press), I listen to NPR News Now, The Daily, and occasionally Up First, though the hosts' chumminess grates on me. If I'm on a streak - and lately the streaks have been pretty long - I'll do my dumb little faux-ga, faux-lates workout. This is just a handful of leg, butt, and arm exercises. Sometime last year I decided I had done my last ever sit up, because I fucking despise sit ups. Not only do I find them tedious - I don't like what they do to my body. I don't actually like stomach musculature on myself. Anyway, I decided cardio combined with a quasi-decent diet was going to have to be enough, because fuck sit ups.

So no sit ups in my life, is what I'm saying.

If I need to do anything for work, place an order, or finish a document, or make a call, I do that. I rarely eat breakfast. Instead I waste time online, or putter around, or clean, before getting ready and then leaving for the train at no later than 12:22pm. (This is one of my greatest sources of shame, by the way. How much time I waste before and after work. I'm desperate to change that, which is part of why I'm here right now...)

One of the most annoying parts of my day happens then. I am forced, by nature of where in my neighborhood my building sits, to immediately walk uphill for two blocks. There is no way around this. There is no path to the subway station that doesn't force me - often still groggy or at least just not ready for a damn hike - on a quick little heart-thumping, south-easterly trek. Yes, I know: the struggle is real. Just filling you in.

Far and away the best thing about my apartment (other than how ridiculously adorable it is - pics coming soon) is its walkability. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you can't live in LA without a car. You can, and it is glorious. My place is a ten minute walk to the station, which might seem like kind of a lot - but along the way are two grocery stores, two pharmacies, a UPS store, my bank, multiple dry cleaners and nail salons, plus a bounty of cheap ethnic restaurants and bodegas. In other words, I can easily sandwich my day with most of the daily errands that pop up. It is definitely this convenience that I pay for, when such a huge chunk of my paycheck goes to rent.

And I'm glad to pay it, because I have fallen in love with carless-ness.

But anyway, back to my Day in the Non-Life.

The station closest to my apartment is actually the last station (going west) that's serviced by the red and purple lines. And I know that unless you're a car-less Angeleno like me, you have no idea what that means. What it means is that I have twice the opportunity to catch trains going to and from work and home. That's huge. That means I wait half as long as someone at any station further west, because twice as many trains come to mine. It's a massive plus.

I'm two stops from downtown, and three from my work, which sits in the heart of DTLA. It's a six or seven minute ride, at most. Then it's another two minute walk to the actual store, though it's usually so crowded at this time I have to allow myself extra time to fight through that crowd. But really the whole commute is a piece of cake. I'm left with enough time to get in early, check in with everyone, and relax for a minute before diving into the chaos.

And chaos it is, most days. Wonderful, fast-moving, hours-killing chaos.

But we'll pick this riveting saga back up tomorrow, because my twenty minutes are up.

And they weren't so bad, after all.

rust and crust

I think that for a little while, my writing might suck. Like, terribly so. I'm sorry.

I think that there might be post after post after post of utter crap on deck. But I think that might be only way. I think I have to force myself to push through it, to believe that there even is an "it" to get through, and believe that on the other side is all the joy this blog once brought me.

I'm hung up on the need to always be, well, elliequent. Poignant. Impeccable with my word. But that's not gonna happen right now. I'm so fucking rusty. I'm going to ramble. I'm going to roam from subject to subject until I feel it's all out, that I'm caught up.

Honestly right now I have so much fear that even then I won't feel squared and ready to progress. I'm so scared that even after I babble my way to telling you what my life is like right now, what it's all about - that even then I won't feel the flow again. That even then I'll still be stuck, mystified as to why I don't anymore do this thing that I love.


Okay. I really am going to have to force myself just to put words together for a while. Just practice the simple act of telling a thing, editing a thing, editing a thing again, then pushing publish. Stream of stupidness, I once called it.


One of the women I work with does music on the side. With the help of a producer friend, she's put out a single and is working on another. She works part-time, sure, but the way she fights for her creative life -- I admire it so much. And I've told her as much. "You have to," she says. She knows I write --  did write. She knows it was my thing. Everyone does, but no one mentions it anymore. No one asks. Even Timo has given up on gently encouraging me back to it, because I'm so sore about it - so ashamed - that I've become defensive. 

It's awful. I break my own heart. I stand in my own way. I thwart my own happiness.

If I can just do ten minutes a day of writing anything -- of writing nothing of consequence. If I can just push ten minutes to twenty and maybe edge my way back, letter by letter, to where it feels good. Maybe that's possible. Maybe there is just a crust on top of something better.


Well, hi. Welcome to this dusty little shell of an abandoned blog. Ugh. The promises I have made to myself regarding its revival are piled high and deep, an avalanche of worthless IOUs. I will try to sweep them away and tidy the place up. It might take a bit, because man. I once considered myself a fiercely creative person. But now when I seek that person out, hoping for a hit of enthusiasm and inspiration, she just looks askance at me. What did you expect? Unexercised muscles atrophy, dummy.

It is so hard to come back. I don't know where to begin. I don't know where I was. I don't even know what I want to say. I only know I want a certain feeling back.

I'm happy. I'll start with that. Things are good. I've been promoted to assistant manager, ho-hey. It's great, and I'm proud and excited - but something about that title makes me cringe. It feels so puffed up. I told my boss how weird it feels, to send emails signed as such. "Well that's what you are," she says. "You're doing a great job," she says.

I adore my boss.

Timo and I are still going strong. It's been a year and a half now. He's just gotten a promotion, too. His new title has much cooler words in it, like "director".

I work a lot - but I love it. Lots of six-day weeks, thanks to frequent events downtown. Also, when someone calls out, 9 times out of 10 it's me that covers for them. I train new hires (well, we've really only had one recently), code and file invoices, and now I've taken over ordering. I organize and write up procedural stuff related to our POS system, plus occasionally help with marketing. All this while more or less running the front of house. I only ever occasionally feel overwhelmed, and that's only when I'm working solo on an extremely busy day. I don't get to work with my boss very often; she's been promoted, too, and has two stores plus corporate training to oversee - but when I do it's a blast. We are sympatico. The other day she asked whether we couldn't just clone ourselves to run the whole shebang.

Timo and I do the best we can, with our contradictory schedules. Most nights I work late. Some weeks I only see him once or twice. He travels a bit here and there, too. Right now he's in Poland. The plus side of all this is that when we do get together, we are crazy excited to see one another. It is still really, really good with us.

He went home for Christmas, but came back in time to spend NYE with me. I made him go with me to see Deadmau5 in San Bernardino, outside in 50 degree weather with a few thousand kids rolling in spirit hoods. (There is nothing in this world like being at a festival with him. It is my heaven.) He came home from Germany loaded with chocolate and affection, as always.

I don't know why I've stopped blogging. I really don't. At first I used work as an excuse, but that doesn't really pan out. I could make time for it, I know. I work with lots of other creatives who make time for their passions.

I think deep down I'm afraid I don't have anything to say anymore. Anything that matters. I think deep down I'm afraid I've become just another working stiff.

But I'm going to try again.