low resistivity: a weird love letter

In the cold, concrete-floored basement, there's a shop table covered with the guts of dissected medical devices. Clipped wires and dials. Metal rods and needle-sized levers. These are the trappings of an electrical engineer. This is my father's office. 

I don't mess with any of it, not that I'd get in trouble if I did. My dad encourages curiosity. The only things I'm forbidden to touch are the bench vise and scalpel blades. "You'll lose a finger," he warns, though about which I'm not sure. He encourages curiosity and questions, which occasionally I produce. I rarely understand his answers, however. I am my father's daughter in many ways, but not in this way. He will explain concepts to me a hundred times and I will never get them. That's okay. I'll get a lot of things one day that he never will. 

Still, I like to be in it - this space. There is a sense of relaxed gravity, and intelligence. I'm only eight years old, I don't yet appreciate the sort of mind required for engineering. But there's something magical in my dad's tinkering, that I know. He brings things to life, often with visible sparks of energy. It's dangerous and delicate work, and requires all his concentration. I have to play quietly, if I'm going to be down here.

Right now I'm playing with a stack of ferrite magnets. Cool and smooth to touch, they are the color of coal and the width of dimes. I pry two from the stack and set them down on the table a few inches apart. Slowly, very slowly, I move one toward the other. The second magnet scoots away, powerless to resist the opposing polarity. Then I flip one magnet and reverse the game, seeing how close I can get the disks before they snap together in attraction. The click they make when they combine is eternally satisfying, and a sound that will stay with me forever.


I heard it tonight, in my memory, as the heat ran from your body to mine, and things I never understood made sense for the length of a lightning bolt.

Magnetism is a fact of the world we can neither force nor resist. And conductivity is how easily things pass between you and I, because of how we choose to minimize the space and the obstacles. That's all I need to know, anyway.

break in the blur

Well, I survived my nine day streak, and I have today and tomorrow off. Survived but got sick - and I never get sick. Chronic diseases and disorders, yes. But little colds and the flu? Hardly ever. I have the weirdest immune system.

I don't even think it was the hours. I think it was not bringing a coat to work, and the very cold walk home. Whatever. I'll live.

The real frustration is that my schedule was loaded like that in order to accommodate a new hire - who decided, after all, that she didn't want the job. She found something else. Fine, great, except she didn't tell us until the day she was supposed to start. By then we'd all rearranged everything to devote the time to getting her trained up. By then it was too late to put everyone back to where they normally are. It went by quickly enough, though, a blur of the usual joys and frustrations. I just miss my boyfriend - and my blog.

We may or may not have found someone new since, however. I'm waiting to hear from my boss if it's happening. If so, I'll be on a six day week in order to train her. If not, god knows what. We're stretched pretty thin right now.

Timo has been patient and lovely, and even though we try to switch off visits to one another, he's insisted on coming my way to help me conserve every last bit of time I have. The other night before leaving in the morning, he sat on the edge of the bed next to me where I lay in a daze of exhaustion. He held my face and smoothed my hair and just softly said "Only three more days" and my heart about exploded. We hadn't even been talking about my work or how worn out I felt. He just knew. It was the most loved I've felt in a long time.

I have post ideas bumping around in my head. Some big, some silly, some sentimental. I want to talk about aging. I want to tell you about some of my coworkers, who are funny and fun, and the ways they inspire me. There have been some other things worth writing about. Another loss, and another significant reconnection.

But right now my head is a fog of sleep and sickness and I'm fighting to get something out of this day other than straight recovery. So for now, just - hello.

introspective waterfall

At the end of last month, Cameron floated an idea to me. He was planning on spending the month of June in Puerto Vallarta, and would I want to come down for a few days, if he did? I'd only need a flight, and could crash at his rental. I asked what was in Puerto Vallarta.

"Beaches. Margaritas. A break from Houston."

I said I was in.

He brought up the trip again last week, this time to see whether I'd want to go for my birthday at the end of May.

I said I was in.

He sent a link to the rental he'd been looking at. A modest jungle bungalow. Fountains, sandy walkways, stone-walled jacuzzi, plunge pool. Lots of lounging/drinking/reading/talking areas.

I said let's book this shit already.

And then he got strangely quiet over the next few days, which made me nervous. I didn't know if maybe it wasn't going to work out. I waited until I couldn't wait anymore, and then I nudged him.

I sent that text on my way to Timo's last night - while I was walking to his house from the train station. We had plans to grab a bite somewhere on Sunset or maybe Santa Monica, and hungry, I'd wanted him to come meet me straight away. But he said I needed to come over first. That he had a gift for me.

Well. These two. Can you guess?

These two. My ridiculously awesome boyfriend and my ridiculously awesome GBF (self-termed) had conspired to buy me this trip to Mexico as my birthday present. The flights, the accommodations, and an adventure of my choosing - waterfall hike, animal sanctuary, fancy dinner - whatever I want. That's why Cam had gone dark. They were scheming, and wanted to surprise me with the news.

And do you know how they packaged this gift, these two? Cameron designed a boarding pass jacket, personalized with the details of our trip, a loose itinerary, and a promise of take-to-the-grave fun. He sent the graphic to Timo, who printed it, and wrote up his own message to go alongside. The paper he wrote on is torn from one of his favorite notebooks, with "EXPLORE" printed at the bottom. The gist of the message: I'm so excited for you to have this time with your friend, to have an adventure, and we'll celebrate ourselves in our own way, afterward. 

The boarding pass jacket and the handwritten letter were stuffed, along with a sleeping mask, slippers, ear plugs, and travel toiletries into a cute little travel wallet Timo had laying around from some prior trip.

Ladies and gentlemen, my boyfriend and my GBF. Knocking it out of the fucking park and into the next country.

The website for the rental is in Spanish, and offers the most glorious Google translation ever:

Casa Camellie is created to achieve that necessary plasticity to recover mentally, anatomically and functionally, from the stressors, alienating and demanding current environmental stimuli.

I am on Day 1 of a nine-day streak at work (someone's on vacation + I'm training a new hire = no days off), so the promise of plasticity, even if I don't know what the fuck that means, is sounding really good right about now. It continues:

The objective is to achieve a better functional adaptation to the environment, through contact with nature, spaces designed to achieve gratifying stimuli in a group or individual, such as the relaxation we offer in our SPA areas, the food balance, the outdoor activities, such as hiking, canopy, walks to the beach or the introspective waterfall jumping and climbing obstacles of our Rio El Nogalito.

Introspective waterfall, people. Introspective waterfall. As if for me there'd be any other kind.


I am *this close* to giving up on having succulents, and it feels like some terrible metaphor for my life.

You'd think that if I could keep a 135 pound dog alive for ten years, a bit of greenery would be easy. Nope. I've spent the past several months just cold murdering potted plants with my tortuously paced ineptitude. I'm sure if they could speak they'd beg me to just get on with it, already. Dump them in the bin or feed them to a cat or whatever dramatic way a houseplant might shuffle off its mortal coil.

It all started with the best of intentions. Not mine--those of my former coworker, Jamie.

At the beginning of this year, Jamie broke up with his boyfriend and needed a place to hide out. Jamie is one of the most delightful people I've ever met. Far too smart for his own good. Better read than almost anyone I studied with--or under. Snarky, self-aware, creative, and a natural born wit. He was one of the best things about my job, for the year we worked together. So I was happy to offer half of a king-sized mattress.

Jamie crashed with me for a couple of nights while he collected the shards of his young life, and we stayed up late swapping tales of romantic woe and family dysfunction. We told stories about our pets that had us laughing to the point of tears. And then, intuiting that we occupy an adequately safe distance from one another emotionally and socially, we held a mutual, judgment-free confessional about our respective addictions. We marveled at how easy it is to fuck up despite having, relatively speaking, everything you need not to. It was great.

And when Jamie decided that his best move was, in fact, back home to the east coast to lick his wounds for a bit, he gave me a very thoughtful present before leaving. He'd noticed what my apartment lacked--life other than my own--and gifted me a lovely little leatherpetal, hardily anchored in a ceramic pot he'd thrown himself. I was touched. I was terrified of killing it. I warned him that my first floor studio gets hardly any sun.

"That's okay," he said. "If you can read by it, it's enough light for a succulent."

"All I read anymore is Twitter. You know that."

He glared at me with affectionate exasperation. "Just put it in your windowsill."

Well I'm sorry, but my windowsills already have tenants: horizontal wooden blinds. And while a normal person would just leave the blinds raised a few inches to accommodate a plant or two, and no big deal, I am not a normal person. I'm too bothered by the asymmetry. Asymmetry will kill me one day, I just know it. I'll be reaching to adjust something off-kilter and I'll trip and break my neck. Here Lies Ellie, my gravestone will read. She Just Fucking Had to Straighten It.

Anyway, I compromised and started leaving the plants, plural (because Jamie's needed a friend, and then another, and then another, and then...) in the windowsill while I was at work. I called it putting them in daylight care, which I found totally hilarious, like all my jokes.

But of course, sunlight is only one factor in the life of green things. Water is the other. And while I was given clear enough instruction by Jamie and Google ("Soak it, let it dry out. Repeat."), that proved too complicated for me, because I could never tell where in the soaking or drying-out stages my little green charges were. Every day before leaving I would stare hard at these ill-fated orphans, waiting for them to give me some sign that today was Watering Day. But they were mum. So I guessed. And I guess I guessed poorly. Because my poor plants are poorly. Poor me.

I am strangely proud of the fact that I snuffed my succulents from too little attention rather than too much. That feels like growth of a sort. I wasn't smothering or clingy for once, with someone something. Instead, when I found them inscrutable and myself powerless to love them how they needed to be loved--I let go.

Which is not to say that I won't eventually start over fresh, with renewed faith and optimism. I can buy a variety pack of twenty--twenty!--live succulents off Amazon for, like, forty bucks. If my kill rate drops to just 90%, that still leaves me with four.

So maybe I can rework the metaphor. Because what else can you do, when you want beautiful things in your life? You give them what you think they need--and you hope they're strong enough to withstand your abuse.


So it appears that I owe some of you both a thank you and an apology--a thankology. This morning in an attempt to link my Sephora app (new) to my Sephora card (v. old), I signed into the email I'd used to set up the card ages ago - the same email that I have listed on my about page. And it had been months since I'd signed into that email -- I had no idea I had a virtual stack of unread letters from readers. I am so sorry, and holy shit, am I so grateful. They are beautiful and so thoughtful, and I will answer each one as soon as I can. 

spring thing

In the past couple of weeks, four different people with whom I haven't spoken in a long time have sent me messages. None of them read my blog, so my reemergence here has nothing to do with it. It's just funny timing, I guess.

Three of these people sent the tiniest, friendliest of communiques. I doubt we'll reconnect in any real way, and that's understandable - too much time, too much mileage, too much life has come between us. Still, it's nice to be thought of, and sent these random pings. They feel like warm little waves rippling in from distant shores.

And then tonight, I heard from someone very special to me, whom I have missed terribly. A text that was both an acknowledgement of the space between us and an invitation to close that gap. And that - that was like the sun breaking over the ocean itself. 

And if that sounds dramatic, it is, because the few friends I have mean everything to me. They are the closest thing I have to family. Unfortunately, the great tragedy of my life is that despite loving so fiercely and with the whole of my heart - I am still a master at pushing people away. At failing them, and hurting them. Half the time I don't even have to try. I'm a natural. 

When I got that message tonight my inner monologue was like, Oh. Maybe you are not so horrible after all. Which I know betrays a rather sickly sense of self. But there it is. Maybe you are not so horrible after all, because someone you respect and love misses you.

And so just in time for Spring, here I've got this perfect emotional manifestation of the season. Something delicate that wants to push through, and can, with the right nurturing. Something that already has all the requisite genetic coding, and only needs renewal and rebirth. A very Spring thing indeed.

Just funny timing, I guess.

city cinema

A man and a woman are sitting in a car outside the grocery store, parked within the pool of the store's fluorescent light. Their eyes are closed; her head on his shoulder, his arm around her. They could be at a drive-in movie, or taking in the view on Mulholland - oblivious to anyone or anything else. I only see them for a split second as I'm walking by, and their expressions don't betray whether they are in the throes of bliss or the depths of consolation. Whatever it is, they look for all the world to belong together, and to feel safe in that belonging.


From the side entrance of a restaurant, a man emerges, carefully navigating his road bike through the doorway. Over his shoulder I catch a glimpse of the kitchen: just-scrubbed pots, stacked sacks of rice, the mess of day's cooking slowly being cleared away. He lights a cigarette as the restaurant's manager steps outside, carrying a chair. Standing on the chair, the manager reaches up to click off a neon OPEN sign. One click makes the sign pulse. A second click sends ribbons of blue and red racing round the letters. A third click and the sign goes dark. The two men exchange the briefest of words and nods. Then one goes in and one goes on, and I am driven further into never ending cinema of the city.


Last night Timo and I went to a show at the Wiltern, right here in Koreatown. "Where's The Drop" - the music of Deadmau5, performed live by a 60-person orchestra.

You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger Deadmau5 fan than me, though my fandom doesn't manifest (and so cannot be measured) in any of the usual metrics. I don't own any Deadmau5 merchandise. I can't name every track on every one of his albums. I don't have his app, I don't participate in online forums or Reddit threads devoted to him, and I don't watch his Twitch streams.

But there isn't a soul on this planet who is more moved by his music than I am. To whom it means more, in ways I can't articulate. I wish I could see neural imaging of the spikes that occur in my brain when I listen to, say, "Avaritia." I wish I could screenshot them, print them out, and frame them. Some visual to evince the emotional. See, look. This is what I feel. Now you understand.

At Bonnaroo a few years ago, in the thrall of my high and while watching him unveil the cube to the glorious, glitch-techy slow burn that is "Imaginary Friends," I had one of those dumb-but-sweet thoughts that only MDMA can produce: What if by touching me - just putting his hand on my shoulder - Joel could somehow magically feel what his music does to me? A thank you could never suffice. He'd have to experience my gratitude in some visceral way, to really get it.

And yes I call him Joel sometimes.

The point here is that I have brain-swapping fantasies about a musician in a giant mouse head because that brain is, IMHO, an absolute fucking treasure. I am endlessly amazed and delighted by what comes out of it.

Which is why I was so excited for last night. I was excited for an out-and-about date with my boyfriend. I was excited to see my friends Kenny and Alfie, who we met for drinks and dinner beforehand, and to whom I gave my tickets (Timo and I hilariously, stupidly, and adorably both tried to surprise one another with tickets to the show - he sprang for better seats, so we gave mine to K and A). I was excited to wear ankle strap pumps and a L'ecole Des Femmes skirt - attendees were encourage to dress up for the concert. And oh man was I excited to hear an orchestra play the music that soundtracks a good deal of my life.


It was pretty. It was undeniably pretty. But it was so mellow - sleepy, even. And in those reimagined, string-heavy arrangements, there was nothing of His Mau5ness that I could recognize. None of what I love. None of the minimal, ruthlessly edited sound he alone has mastered (sorry, Prydz). None of the tightness and control. None of the depth, the heat, the sexiness, or the playfulness. None of what takes my breath away no matter how many times I hit repeat. It was just...pretty orchestra music.

There were sixty incredibly talented musicians onstage last night alongside Deadmau5, who himself sat at the front edge of the stage, occasionally mixing in bits of his original electronic tracks. Those were the parts of the show that electrified me, that held me erect and still in my seat. The rest of it? Passively, passably pretty. There were sixty incredibly talented musicians on that stage with him - sixty musicians too many.

I admire Joel Zimmerman's desire to challenge himself, to grow and experiment. I'm happy for him, that his talent and success have brought him to a place where he can explore new ways to move old fans.

I just hope there's still more to come of the mau5 I've come to love.