bidness idea

I would never open a restaurant, but if I did, this would be the concept:

Never ending cereal bowls. 

I'd serve everything from Post and General Mills to healthier, high end granolas and muesli. All kinds of milk, too. Oat, almond, etc. And of course all the cow's milk would be A2/A2.

Diners could either customize their own bowls a la carte or order from a selection of creations with clever names (similar to Cold Stone Creamery).

Find a tiny little spot in Hollywood, somewhere around Cahuenga, something with five tables max. Open only Thursday through Saturday, 10pm to 4am. Write your name on the clipboard and we'll call you when a table opens up. I've seen how packed every shitty little pizza-by-the-slice place on the boulevard is, every weekend. Endless cereal bowls would crush with that crowd. 

And there'd need to be a gimmick to the table setup. Something that echoes the feel of a shabu shabu / kbbq / fondue place. Something that makes it special and fun and interactive. And Instagrammable. Maybe the milk comes out of taps.

Fuck it, just call it Bowl. Logo is an empty dish with a spoon in it, couple drops of milk. Done.

---

This post brought to you by the three bowls of Love Crunch Granola I just inhaled within five minutes. 

the elephant on my keyboard

Hello from the first sentence of one of the weirdest and saddest posts I will ever write - a post that for some of you may very well be the last of mine you'll ever read. I write it despite knowing that might be the case, because I know of no other way to move forward truthfully and genuinely, until I've written it.

I've been quiet lately because of this unwritten post, which stands in the way of everything else I'll ever have to say. Because I haven't known how to approach it, or if I even should. What I haven't said has been all-consuming for weeks, like an elephant sitting on my keyboard who won't clear off until I have given him the time and attention he demands. 

Fuck. Here goes.

So, a content warning. This post - as will be all subsequent Elliequent posts - is written from the perspective (the belief) that the climate crisis is in fact so bad, that humans have much, much less time left than people want to 1) admit 2) talk about. And by people I mean everyone from scientists to the media to everyday people like you and I. 

And when I say much, much less time, I mean a couple of decades. 

I think we have a couple of decades left before societal collapse. At most. 

Please read that again, so you can decide whether you want to keep following a blog that operates from that point of view. Think through the implications of what that will mean, for this space. It means I will be writing under the assumption that within twenty years, society will completely break down due to some combination of crises in the environment (deadly warming leading to mass migration, crop failure and famine in an untenably overpopulated world) and the economy (wars over dwindling resources and a permanent abandonment of a regulated banking system). 

If you think I'm crazy and want to bug off now, godspeed. If you think there's a possibility I could be right, but that makes you too uncomfortable/sad to want to hang around me anymore, godspeed.

If you're still here: deep breath.

So. How did I get here? I got here by stepping from stone to stone, waiting until I felt my footing sure underneath me (i.e., did I understand what I was reading? did I believe it? what follows from this, if it's true?) before taking the next step. Specifically:

News of the IPCC report led me to obsessively following the climate and weather experts on Twitter who are frantically urging the implementation of renewable energy, and promising that with enough fast, bold action we can turn this thing around. (Sort of.) Really digging into those conversations, replies, links, and articles led me to picking up clues and hints about another, less vocal (read: less well-platformed) subset of experts who aren't so optimistic. Which led me off of Twitter and into their arena which, to my naive shock, is vast and long-established. It turns out that there is a group of scientists who've been saying, "Yeah bro, the jig is up" for much longer than I realized.

I read and I watched and I listened and I learned. I learned about overshoot and the paradox of cooling aerosols, and how if fossil fuels were shut down immediately today, we'd be in a worse spot because of the loss of those aerosols. I learned about albedo and the warming feedback loop that now cannot be corrected because of how much ice has disappeared. I learned what will happen when the methane pouring out of the melting permafrost, which is a much bigger problem even than CO2, is fully released. I learned about the ocean currents which are showing warning signs of collapse and what that will mean for every part of the world when they do give out. I learned the truth about renewable energy, which is a myth, because all forms of it still require non-renewables. I learned exactly how many people come onto this planet every day, which is a terrifying fucking number no one talks about, because babies are cute and hashtag biological imperative. And I started to connect the dots between these ineluctable outcomes and what people will do when they arrive. Namely, they will run out of food, water, money, and options. And it will be really fucking bad. 

In my travels to these horrifying places, I started to understand why the voices that are clearly, coolly, and compassionately saying "It's too late" get no amplification, no traction, and no respect. There is no money to be made in doomerism. Climatologists are human like the rest of us, and they better than anyone know what's coming down the pipeline. If they can cram in another couple of books, or a lecture series, or a consultation tour - whatever makes the dollars - that's that much more security for them when the shit hits the fan. Everyone is desperate to hear (and buy) solutions. World leaders and power companies will do anything to make it seem like they are trying to fix the problem. Everyday people want to believe the problem can be fixed.

Absolutely no one wants to hear that we are already toast, and while yes, we should continue to mitigate by implementing ameliorating solutions to improve as best we can the time we have remaining, we can all just stop pretending that this is a long game anymore. It's not.

Deep breath.

I don't expect anyone to be in the same place as me. I have not and will not bring this up to any of my friends. I cannot risk alienating them, because I need them now more than ever. But I won't be able to contain all that I feel about all of this. Believing that the world I know will be effectively destroyed before I can even grow old (well, really old) changes everything. 

It changes everything

And I will need to talk about those changes, because holy fuck. What do you do when the clock starts ticking down, right in front of your face? How do you adapt to that knowledge? How does it affect your plans, choices, and beliefs about how to exist in a world on a timer? 

What do you spend your time and attention on, from this point forward? 

On the off chance that even a single one of you is anywhere near where I am, I will share two resources. Just two. Because I am certainly not going to footnote this fucking post with all my research in an attempt to sway the more optimistic of you over to this, the utterly depressing side of the yard. I think this is a deeply personal journey everyone needs to make for themselves. But if deep down you too have been feeling a relentless tugging at your soul, and the narrative you're being pitched just isn't adding up for you, and you're looking to understand why, here are two places to start:

1. Catherine Ingram's essay Facing Extinction (audio version here). I have listened to it three times now, and it is pure oxygen: eloquent, warm, thoughtful and compelling. She tempers unflinching facts with a life-affirming perspective on how to metabolize those facts. Hers strikes me as exactly the kind of pure, gentle wisdom called for in a time like this. In fact I emailed her to say as much (and she replied immediately). Would that I had the funds to attend one of her retreats. I'd probably ask her to adopt me. 

2. This compendium of literally everything related to climate disaster, societal collapse, and the apocalypse. Yes it's a goofily titled, dated blogspot blog clearly written by an academic, and not as slick or engaging as what you'll find in the apocaloptimists' camp. But it's absolutely definitive. Studies, lectures, lexicon, literature, film, and links, links, and more links to the experts (and their findings) who've been warning the world since the middle of last century. 

So there you go. You got through it. I got through it. I confessed my terrible dark secret. I unburdened myself of the burdensome belief that this beautiful world is expiring much faster than most everyone is admitting or aware. Then again, what did we expect?

the one who would not budge

"You can't stop here," they said, when they found me planted cross-legged on the road. I looked up.

"Why not? There's plenty of room to pass around me."

"It's a No Standing Zone."

"I'm not standing. I'm sitting."

The officers shifted uncomfortably, glanced at one another. "Listen," said the first, whose name badge read APATHY, "We know you've been here a while already. It's time to move on."

"Well, I can't. I've tried."

The other, whose badge read SYMPATHY, knelt down. "Do you want us to call someone for you?"

"Like who?"

"Like a friend."

I brought my knees up to my chest and wrapped the flannel I was wearing tight around me. I pulled the sleeves down over my hands, disappearing as much of myself as I could in the brown and green plaid. It was an invisibility cloak that hid exactly nothing from no one. 

"Everyone knows everything already," I said softly. 

"Look here," started Apathy, "you can't just---" But his partner held up a hand and shook his head, and they left.

The next night they returned to find me in the exact same spot. "We brought you something." Sympathy held a weathered envelope with an AirMail stamp. He buzzed with excitement as he handed to me.

"What's this?" I asked, accepting it with little interest.

Apathy glared. "Just open it."

Inside the envelope was a four hundred and forty-eight word apology, from someone six thousand miles away, whom I hadn't thought about once in two years.

I read it, then read it again. "What am I supposed to do with this?"

"We thought you'd be pleased." Sympathy was disappointed. 

I handed the letter back. "Would you please go? I'd like to be alone."

"This is unhealthy," declared Apathy. "Pathetic, really."

"I am aware," I replied.

"What are you going to do, just stay here forever?" 

I took a deep breath and looked from Sympathy to Apathy and back again. "Have you never read any of the Romantics?" 

"You mean like the stuff with Fabio on the cover?"

I blinked. "No. No I do not mean like the stuff with Fabio on the cover." I took another deep breath. "Gentlemen, I appreciate your concern. I do. But right now I am like a character in a Bronte novel. Unrequited, long-suffering, noble if unrewarded devotion - all that. I see no reason to move on from where I am until I'm ready, and frankly, I think there's worse, less beautiful stances I could take up in this life.

Sympathy's face softened. Apathy's brow furrowed.

With my thumb I traced circles around the button at the bottom of my shirt. "I'm choosing this," I said, as if to the button. "I might stop choosing it tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. But right now, here, exactly where I am is exactly the only place I can be."

I pulled a matchbox from my pocket, struck a light on the nearest memory that sparked. "Now if you don't mind, I have a candle to burn."

As they walked away, conferring in low tones about the one who would not budge, the setting sun blurred them into silhouettes. I couldn't tell without squinting who was who, because the road I wasn't ready to move down very quickly disappeared into a future I wasn't ready to see.

chirp

You came to me this week hidden in the secrets of others. They have no idea that in them, I only ever see you. I see you in their desires, their curiosities, their apologies.

I only ever see you, still. 

I gave in, I laid back, I closed my eyes. I swallowed the burning, selfish desire to reach out and interrupt your journey. The ache is a kind of faith. I have to believe you were there with me, and that you just don't know how to get back. 

It's been almost two years since we went to the canyon. The swing. The spilled wine. The drum. I'm here now, you said. 

Were you? 

I hear you in songs you'd probably hate, in things you'd never say even if you felt them like blood in your bones. 

It's a kind of faith.

let's see how many variations of "dense" I can get into one post

content warning: boobs, end times

---

My boobs are fine, you can all exhale. I got the nice little secret coded message from my doctor on the super secure, unnecessarily well-protected Cedars Sinai app a week after the screening. Your mammogram was normal, see you next year, have fun with your healthy tits - at least until everything is canceled again, lol! (I may have read into it a little.)

Then I got an official, follow up letter in my mailbox with further details saying, among other things, that my breasts are "dense" - but that I don't need to worry about it. I was like Uh okay well you spelled 'perfect' wrong but as long as I don't need to worry.

I didn't at all expect a bad result, but I took the good news as a mandate to take better care of myself, just in case I've been lucky so far. Stocked up on vegetables and fruit, cooked off a bunch of couscous, lentils, quinoa, and barley. I am in my Bowl Phase, because I cannot with salads anymore. I just cannot. Either the pieces of lettuce/spinach/kale are so big I feel like I'm folding a fucking bed sheet with my fork, or they're nice and choppy-chopped, but then the density of the green is too much (too bitter), and requires more dressing than is rational.

Also, I was this week years old when I discovered a splash of lime juice and some mint can transform even the most basic fruit. I am furious to arrive so late to the mint-lime party, but I'm here now, and I am going to rage. 

---

Past couple weeks of work have been off-the-charts challenging and stressful, but my boss, my boss's boss, and even my former boss are all on it and/or checking in with me until it is resolved. I feel very well supported and very much appreciated, and that gratitude is fueling my forbearance. 

---

At this point I'm keeping my festival plans, in spite of the Delta variant. The two fests to which I have tickets don't get that packed, even in non-pandemic years. Lots of space, outdoors, and I'm always at the far edge of things where the crowd breaks up anyway. The Prydz show that's coming up in a couple of weekends has me a lot more squeamish. That one will be much denser, and I might chicken out and sell my ticket last minute. Dunno.

---

And now that I've tiptoed around it for as long as possible, let's finally acknowledge the elephant in the room, which is the latest IPCC report. What's that? The elephant is only in my room? You're all able to continue functioning normally and think about, literally, anything else? Cool. What's that like?

If you don't already follow me on Twitter, now is definitely not the time to start. My retweets and likes are The Doom and Gloom Channel, despite the exhortations of the more optimistic climate scientists I follow (I am pretty sure they are all faking that optimism, because what else can you do?)

It's all fucking with my head terribly. I have always been darkly drawn to apocalyptic scenarios in film and literature. Stories where everyone loses, where there is an equalization of power and suffering, New Zealand bunkers and offshore funds notwithstanding, fascinate me a little too much. 

It's why when the rich and famous started coming down with Covid, I was like Huh. Would you look at that. Money doesn't always equal safety. 

It's why when my friends and I talk about where we want to end our years, old and grey, I am the one pretend-casually floating the idea of us all going in on some land together, somewhere off the grid, where the water wars won't reach us. 

It's why when everyone else is rallying together, outraged, to demand change - I am over here just kind of frozen in an involution of existential wonder. Because suddenly, seemingly random life choices don't feel so random anymore. Hell, the seemingly random data point that is my age doesn't feel so random anymore. 

I didn't decide not to have kids because I knew climate collapse was coming. I didn't decide not to have kids at all. I just didn't, but then eventually I realized how absolutely much I do not want them, and how easily I could have ended up having them, had things played out differently. 

I didn't opt out of getting a car this past fifteen years out of concern for the environment. It just got easier and easier to go without one, until I realized I absolutely loved the freedom from the cost and the trouble of it. Until I realized everyone looking at me pityingly for riding the bus/train has it exactly backwards. Public transportation is a luxury. It's free time. It's negative stress. I can sit there and gaze out the window and listen to music and day dream, or text friends, or learn words, or whatever I want. I am being chauffeured around for free, on a pretty timely schedule, without ever having to rush, or deal with the frustration of drivers, parking spots, parking tickets etc etc. And the only cost to me is social cachet? LOL I'll take it.

I didn't stop traveling internationally to cut down on my carbon footprint. I stopped traveling because my interests shifted, because I got to know myself better (travel exhausts me) and because I could already check so many countries off my list. France, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, Italy, Spain, Greece, Thailand, Australia, The South Pacific, Israel, Jordan, England, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, and Argentina. I mean, what do I have to complain about? I've seen more of the world than most people ever will. I did it young, when I had the energy and spirit for it. And I did it long before the distraction and pressure of Instagram. 

I didn't choose to work for a company that has its own regenerative farm in Northern California because I am so eco-conscious. It just happened. 

And I certainly had no say about being born in 1975. I can do nothing to change the fact that, quite possibly, mine will be the last generation to experience things I will not even name, because it is too bleak to call them out. 

All of this just happened how it happened. But here I am, and my mind is blown. 

My mind is blown that 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming is most likely going to kick in right around the time all I'm gonna wanna do is watch Matlock and nap anyway. My mind is blown at how good my timing is, in a terrible, terrible thing. 

My mind is blown at how my clear my conscience is, by no virtuous actions of my own. That is not moralizing. That is wonderment. I am a non-reproducing, car-free, non-internationally traveling individual who works for one of the good guys, environmentally speaking. I'm no statistician, but methinks if you scaled up my (non)choices even half a percentage point in a population of 8 billion, we might not be in this fucking predicament. 

Yes, fossil fuels. Yes, yes, yes. They are the real culprit. I know that of course. Nevertheless, all these ostensibly stochastic elements of my life are like puzzle pieces that I am fitting together to make a picture I can't stop staring at. There's either no meaning in it, or all the meaning in it, I don't know which. 

It isn't easy to make the end of the world about oneself, but if anyone could...

Fair warning: there will probably be more of that. Dark humor. End of the world jokes. Because I am me, and because that's how I cope. But also - and this is a whole other, massive thing to consider - my being childfree means this hits entirely different. At least, I assume it does? I don't know because I'm not a parent, but I imagine everything I feel in sympathy for generations after mine is a walk in the park compared to what parents are feeling right now. 

It is a horror cherry on top of a heartbreak cake to realize that climate change - and the irrevocable damage we've done to our planet - is going to hit everyone on a sliding scale, according to age. The older you are, the less you will be affected by it. And the less you will be affected by it, the more easily you can accept it. 

That is not apathy. You can accept that some things are irreversible and still act to prevent other, even worse scenarios. You can accept what the scientists say will happen, even in the best of cases, and still be outraged on behalf of humans younger than yourself - and those yet to be born. And I am outraged, in a quietly dazed way. I am in heartbroken disbelief that years after being shamed out of using aerosol hairspray because the ozone layer had a hole in it, we didn't do much more than set up recycling bins and make some documentaries. We should have been chaining ourselves to the doors of every petroleum and coal company in existence, every fucking day, until they stopped. To the doors of our politicians' offices. It's apparently what we have to do now

I don't know that I'm going to have time to do that, to be honest. I'm going to be pretty busy rolling my acorns into the biggest pile I can, for the winters ahead. Ain't no one else gonna be rolling them for me. But I will not be making things worse, that I swear. I will continue to tread lightly, with my TAP card in one hand, and maybe a dog leash in the other.

light to dark

I went to a show over the weekend, and it's very important to me that you know an adorable 20something named Julie who wanted to be my Insta buddy thinks I'm a good dancer:

It's marginally less important that you know I don't actually shuffle. What I do requires vastly less skill and coordination, and is basically a very fast stompy kicky dance that looks impressive only because I can move quickly and hit on the beat. And when the break is long enough and I can feel where the song is going, I can fold in fancier moves like twisty kicks and spins that look a lot harder than they are. It's all a massive con, shuffling is much harder, but no lie - I do look pretty cool when I'm on it. 

All this to say I had a fucking blast. I went for Morgin Madison, planned to bounce after his set, but No Mana was the surprise that kept on suprising, so I stayed much later than was responsible for a school night. Rest of the work week was brutal, as I never caught up on sleep.

Worth it. 

---

Work is a challenge at the moment, as my no-longer-new chef and I are butting heads in a very problematical way. It reached the point of us needing to have a Sit Down with my boss and my boss's boss. Reason I'm telling you this is the highlight of the meeting, which was something my boss's boss said about me...

In an effort to compliment my chef in the spirt of Let's work together by playing off one another's strengths! Yay, us! I was talking up her skills in the kitchen. And bless her, in an effort to give the same back to me, she very haltingly replied, "Ellie...is...very good on the computer." L O fucking L.

The best part about this: she wasn't trying to throw shade or act like I have no skills. She actually, truly, thinks I have none. Five years with my company, managing two stores and thirty employees, and she thinks I'm a good typist. Maybe. To excuse her, you have to understand: professional chefs have no use for anyone who can't cook. And I can't, much. I am however, insanely hardworking, conscientious, organized, considerate, cool under pressure, supportive to my team, and responsible. 

But this person is so religiously focused on what her role is that in the past four months she's barely noticed a thing I do. Just oblivious to exactly how much behind the scenes administrative work, organization, and time management it takes to run two restaurants. And I can't hold her against herself; it's one of my rules.

Anyway. When she said this, I just sort of sat there smiling, amused, because I know my worth - and I know my bosses do, too. And sure enough, my boss's boss - the number two in the company - immediately came out from my corner. Talked about how multiple times I have turned entire stores over in terms of staffing, and brought in "literally the nicest people in the company." Talked about the gift I have for finding and keeping the right people. Talked about how "people want to work hard for Ellie." (Didn't talk about my gorgeous spreadsheets, because he doesn't see them very often. But rest assured, my spreadsheets are gorgeous.)

None of this matters to her, of course. But it matters to me.

---

Been a rough go lately. Crying at the drop of a mask. 

Cried at the picture of the dead salmon in the river in Northern California, cooked by the heat. 

Cried at the picture of the dead baby flamingos in Turkey, killed by drought. 

Cried when a beloved regular customer we've been serving for months came in with her newborn baby. Saw her sitting on the patio with family, rushed out to congratulate her and meet the little one. She reached into the bassinet and pulled the blanket back to reveal a tiny, perfect little girl whose name I already knew. "You've been feeding her for nine months," the woman said, smiling at me. The group laughed, but tears sprang to my eyes. Babies do nothing for me. But pre-apocalyptic babies born during pandemics who could conceivably never see flamingoes in the wild or taste wild caught salmon -- or who might, if the world gets its shit together, and are therefore an incredible symbol of hope and optimism? That's a different story.

And if this is dark to read, imagine what it's like to feel. 

So why am I extra-extra emotional right now? 

1. Delta variant + piece of shit anti-vaxxers. Die in a (California wild)fire, you selfish fucks.

2. My financial goals are both tantalizingly within reach and seemingly years off. Discouraged at how long things are taking.

3. Relapsing on some things I thought I'd moved past. 

4. But mainly, how very alone I feel, save for a few dozen climatologists on Twitter, in knowing that shit is going south a lot faster than people realize or want to admit to themselves.

Some days you soar through. Some nights you dance through. And sometimes, just surviving your own thoughts is an accomplishment worth being proud of.

and now you know what my bewbs look like

Just got home from getting my first mammogram, which was nothing like what I expected. I don't know where I got the dreadful vision that's been playing in my head for months, involving some ancient, steel torture device that was going to smash my tits together then make loud, scary, shuttering noises for ten minutes while I kept my arms raised above my head in surrender to my own mortality.

No steel; the piece that touches your breast is plastic, and flexible. No raising your arms above your head; you hang one down and wrap the other around the machine, depending on the image being taken. There's even a handle if you want. (I did not hold the handle. Holding the handle made it feel like I was in a sports car, and I did not want the tech to see how quickly she could go from zero to sixty.)

And it's one boob at a time. What the fuck. That's so easy. I don't know why, but the instant I realized that, all of my fear and anxiety melted away. 

Didn't stop me from deadass interviewing the technician, however, like I was the new Cedars Sinai hiring director. 

"What's your name?"

"Lupe, it's really nice to meet you. How long have you been doing this?"

"Cool, cool. So like, how many of these do you do a day?"

"This form here refers to 'some discomfort'. Can you tell me more about that? Are we talking during or after or both."

"And this bit about ruptures. Can you expand on that? How many times has that happened?"

"Never on your watch, you say? Lupe, I'm really glad you're working today." 

"This machine looks pretty new. Is it?"

"How much do you think this thing costs? Are we talking hundreds of thousands or a cool mil?"

"Yeah I'm definitely nervous, but I mean. Cedars Sinai. Doesn't get more cutting edge than here, right? Lupe? Right?"

We did stop twice because I got a little dizzy, but that's just because all I'd eaten all day was a Red Bull, because self care is my jam.

And now just for fun, just for body positivity and all that, here is the single solitary photo of my naked breasts in existence, because believe it or not, I literally never take topless photos. But for whatever reason, I took this one just before leaving K-town last year. In fact if you look carefully you can see at least three teenage roaches jerking off to me in the background:

y the hat tho??

Who knows. In a week when I get my results, they could say Sorry, lady. There's something rotten in them thar hills, so I'mma enjoy them for now, just in case. 

namesake

I hired a kid who shares your name. 

I almost didn't. "What's his name?" I asked the friend who referred him. He told me and I groaned. No. But he's down to earth, and earnest. He has a good sense of humor. He's been a good find. 

It was weird at first, to say. To write on the schedule, and so forth. 

But it's been four months. And now when I see that particular arrangement of letters, I think of him, and I see his face in my mind. And when he texts, there's no question who it is.

It's like he took a thing from you, slipped it behind his back, worked some magic, and handed it over to me, a different thing. And I can hold it, and it doesn't hurt. 

I'm lucky in the weirdest ways.

tommy baynen: elderflower


Virtually undiscovered gorgeousness from an emerging artist. So much beautiful music everywhere lately. 

just one perfect song

 Hi hello, the new Ben Bohmer track is so jaw-droppingly beautiful it requires its own post.


Happy Friday.

collecting maxims (not the lad mag)

I am officially old. Only old people collect maxims. They post them on their GeoCities pages and send them to coevals in chain emails, in hotlink blue, thirty point font. 

Anyway, some of these I picked up somewhere. Some I've made up. 

1. Create before you consume.

There's little that throws my creative game off more than the creativity of other people. It isn't a comparison thing. It's just an welp, now my brain is full thing. I need to be brimming with my own ideas.

2. Don't hold people against themselves.

At least not in small scale interactions, or low stakes relationships. Inconsiderate people are inconsiderate. Neurotic people are neurotic. Don't let the quiddities of others bother you. 

3. Keep your crazy to yourself. 

If I get caught in a really bad anxiety spiral, I try very hard to stay calm and self-contained. It's all too easy to throw myself onto someone like a lifeboat. 

4. Ignoring toxic, conflict-seeking, gaslighting people is a superpower. 

When you don't respond, your silence says that you are perfectly confident in your last communique, and that you don't need the last word. You show that preserving your inner peace is more important than they are. And that's infuriating and intimidating as fuck to people like that.

5. Write weekly or write weakly. 

Self-explanatory.

6. The less you need to be happy, the more powerful you are.

This has been a fascinating life lesson. I've known so many terrible, tribalistic rich people in my life. And the desperation with which they consume their own wealth in seeking happiness is truly wild. Meanwhile if a nice sunset and a phone call with a friend is all you need, you're set

7. In this house, we try things. 

This is a thing I say to myself all the time. It's important to me that I explore new things - new habits, new interests, new approaches, new systems, new whatevers. It's important to me that I never stop trying. You never know what small, simple thing could level up your happiness. 

8. Recognize exit ramps.

I have a habit of holding on to people longer than I should. I tend to linger around broken connections. This has never once led to anything good. So I'm learning to recognize exit ramps. An exit ramp is when a person who is bad for you does something that perfectly encapsulates exactly why it is you don't want them in your life anymore. That's a gift. That's an opportunity to let that be your final, lasting impression of them, and move on.

An exit ramp can be something they do, or say. It can be a memory you decide to stake them to. You have complete control over what the exit ramp is, and that's a real power.

9. Pity is a weapon for which there is no defense. 

People hate to be pitied. It is a secret, lethal weapon you can deploy at will. They don't need to know. But you know that if they did know, it would inflame them. Let that be enough. 

10. Let feelings find you.

Don't hide. Don't self-medicate. Don't distract yourself. No way out but through. 

the schadenfreude buffet

When you dine at the Schadenfreude Buffet, you must show restraint. 

Heavy platters of exquisite food will be passed around. No matter your appetite, you must take from them lightly. To gorge yourself would draw scorn and shame. So though you may relish what is served, remember to disguise your delectation in an air of detachment. You are a civilized being, after all.

But should you drop your napkin, under the table will be a sea of legs dancing in delight. The Schadenfreude Buffet is always full of hungry dissemblers, savoring every bite. 

turns out vellum is cheaper than CBT

Every so often I have a really bad emotional crash, usually too late at night to text anyone. So I'm making a sort of toolkit. I already have a virtual one - links to various media that always soothe me. But I wanted to make a physical one. Being off my phone is always > than being on my phone, and the act of touching something tangible and engaging my senses is a good distraction.

I'm calling it a D.E.C.K. A Depressive Episode Comfort Kit. It's going to have at least three components, all along the lines of resetting my thinking in a more positive direction. And I wanted to share the first with you, since it exists because of you. 

I've been very online for a long time now. And while I turned off comments years ago, I have quite a collection of letters from readers who've reached out to say thanks or to express appreciation. At one point I was considering making the blog private, and I asked anyone who wanted an invitation to send me their address. A lot of these are from then. People didn't just shoot me a quick email. They took the time to let me know who they were, why they read, and what they got out of it. It was actually very overwhelming.

For years I have wanted to do something with them, print them up in their own little mini book or something. But now, this toolkit I'm putting together is the perfect repository for such encouragement and gratitude. 

When I'm having a bad episode, a big component is feelings of worthlessness. Reading reminders that the things I've written mean something to people - have helped them in some way, or even just entertained them - that is very strong antidote to feeling worthless. So I went through and clipped small snippets of these letters and printed them up on cards, so I could flip through them anytime I'm feeling low. 

Vellum, card stock, gorilla glue, and lots of kindness:













There are twenty-five of them, but I will content myself with these. Endless thanks to those of you who contributed to this. You are a reason I stay whole.

in which a(nother) wild Libra appears

Texting with my friend Joe last night. I asked him to explain a line from one of his poem, and what do you know:



It's really just ridiculous at this point. Every time. Every damn time. 

sandpaper fact

Denial is a kind of friction, when the thing you cannot accept continually, relentlessly rubs up against reality - which never budges.

And every piece of evidence chafes, and hurts, and blisters.

I have been guarding a certain fiction with every fiber of my being. And now every fiber of my being is worn threadbare by merciless, sandpaper fact.

Eventually, I guess, acceptance will win, when that protection has been scratched all away. When there is no more friction. When I am just gossamer on the ground.

alone for now and okay with it

Tonight I went to my downtown work location to use the printer for a personal creative project, and as I was leaving I saw a friend at the patio bar around the corner. I stopped to show him what I was working on, because he himself is a professional creative whose opinion I value. And when I say "professional creative" I don't mean your standard LA bullshit (no offense, standard LA bullshitters). I mean this person is a former creative director for Disney who now works for Virgin Galactic, designing what will be the training environments for civilian astronauts. And yes, he's very happy his boss is safely, successfully earthbound once again. Sunday was the one and only time I've ever used the rocket emoji to denote an actual rocket, when I texted him congratulations.

Anyway, as you may have guessed from the contextual clue that is this man's incredible resume, he's older than me. Not by a ton, but he does have me by twelve years. That's only relevant as it bears on the topic of conversation we had over a drink, which was our respective romantic lives. In sum: his lately has been stop/start, whereas mine has been stop/non-start. And the longer it goes on like this, the more I am kind of loving it.

My friend didn't really know my recent dating history, so I gave him the broad strokes on Timo and then Kenny. But what happened with either of them, or even with Terence before that, really doesn't matter. What matters is me knowing - and hearing myself articulate simply, unemotionally, and almost proudly - why I'm single, and why I should be single. At least for now. 

"I'm a mess," I said, and he asked what I meant. "I'm dysfunctional in relationships. When a guy is good to me, when he's available and caring, I will either lose interest or find a way to sabotage it. But when a guy is unavailable and withholding, that's what gets me going. That activates me, or the fucked up part of me, rather."

When the subject switched back to him, he disclosed a fear of ending up alone. His voice got low and he waxed wistful about how much he missed waking up in a woman's arms. How much he wants someone to garden with. Someone with whom to celebrate good days and hug away bad days. And as I listened to him touch on all these deeply human desires, I braced myself for some kind of triggering. Some kind of thought along the lines of Shit, he's right. Being alone sucks. And who do we know that's totally alone? Oh that's right, it's YOU, Ellie. Shall we go home now and have a cry? But though I nodded with understanding, I felt something different rising up in me: relief at not feeling any of those things.

But back to our conversation.

"Do you know the philosopher Alain de Botton?" He didn't, so I told him about the School of Life, and how much it's meant it to me. "I think it's in one of the videos, or maybe his lectures, that he postulates you only truly become fit to be a romantic partner when you've completely accepted the fact that you might never find the right person to be with -- and you're okay with that realization."

My friend nodded. He'd heard some version of that before.

"The problem with being in a relationship when you really want and need to be in a relationship," I went on, "is that you put that need onto the other person. And they feel that. And it's oppressive. I do that," I told him. "I put my need on the ones I really, really want. And that just pushes them way."

Our talk meandered a bit from there, but when I said goodbye and walked back home, my head was full of all of this. 

Fact: since I was a teenager, the longest I have gone without a boyfriend is right now. Kenny left at the beginning of November. That's nine months ago. Nine months is my PR, and I'm in it right now. And yes, months one through six were utterly devastating. For whatever reason, that boy just...he just checked a lot of boxes. Good ones and bad ones. And if he showed back up in my life one day, ready to try again, the sun itself couldn't outshine my happiness. But for now, I have moved on, though I truly thought I never would be able to. He took more of me with him than anyone has, including guys I dated for years

But.

Somewhere around May to June, something shifted. Something so tectonically deep I didn't even feel it, until I started, like, luxuriating in the fact that there is no one else in my glorious king sized bed when I wake up and want to kick all my limbs out. That when I come home from a long day of work, I have peace and quiet and self-restoration, instead of blaring lights, TV, and dishes in the sink. Then, more recently: that I can take myself out on an innocent date and end up on something quite the opposite, with no one to say boo about it. 

Another fact: this is the first time in my adult life that I am living entirely by my own solidly reliable means. I don't count dancing as adulthood. I was a lost child when I was dancing, developmentally-arrested but with access to much more money than was good for me. Now, though: no inheritances, no help from friends, no scraping by as a creative gigster. And I had no idea how the empowerment of making a good living would bleed out into other areas of my life. But it has. Financial independence has boosted my self-esteem in a way that's changed how I look at relationships. Like, I'm good, thanks. Just over here, doing me, working away at a life of my own design and figuring out what makes me happy. Kindly explain how you'll be a support to this effort and not a detour? Cuz, uh, you're really cute - but you look an awful lot like a detour. 

Of course, I know eventually the department running my simulation will put one such detour in my way again. And all I can hope is that by then, I will be better suited for better partners, with better results for both of us. But until that happens, I will blissfully starfish the fuck out of my big, empty bed.

real true events

Some things that happened in the past week:

1. I hugged a ~65 year old Russian man named Mir when he miraculously - and at a very reasonable price! - fixed our AC at the restaurant, on a Saturday, in the middle of a heatwave. Accent thick as borscht. Old school AF. Insisted I learn how to change the rooftop unit filters myself so he wouldn't have to charge me an extra $95. Used a bungee cord to lower his equipment down off the roof to me, yelling at me when I wasn't being careful enough. Total character, I loved him.

2. Someone for whom I did a kindness returned it with more psilocybin than I have ever possessed at one time in my entire life. Truly, I gasped when he handed it to me. I am now sitting on small forest's worth of penis envy. No fucking clue how I'll ever get through it, as none of my friends do shrooms. When it gets just a little hotter, I think I'm going to trek out to Malibu on a quiet Monday, use the awesome beach shade I still haven't touched, watch the sunset and invite the sea lions to discuss the meaning of life with me.

3. On a packed bus ride home, I sat next to a homeless man who spent the entire time methodically, menacingly sandpapering a rusty hammer. He himself was so filthy, so caked in dirt that when he periodically turned to stare at me, the whites of his eyes glowed. He wore his sweatshirt's hood up over his head and stayed hunched over in concentration for the entire 35 minutes we were beside one another. People kept glancing at me to see if I was okay. I was fine until he started gaping at me, at which point I normally would have said something or moved but I was scared if I set this guy off, said rusty hammer would be the last thing I would see in this dear life. When my stop came up, I had to climb over the back of the seat because he wouldn't move. People think I'm crazy, but in spite of these occasionally bizarro moments on public transpo, I still love not having a car. 

4. I bought myself a VIP Dreamstate ticket, and am kiiiiinda thinking that might be my last California festival. At some future date, in a few years, I might venture back for Coachella. But I think Dreamstate will be a good goodbye for now. Dreamstate, by the way, is a trance-specific electronic festival that happens every year around Thanksgiving. It is therefore lovingly nicknamed Trancegiving. It has pure trance (my least favorite), progressive trance (my mostest favoritest), and psytrance (my secret love). CANNOT WAIT.

5. My friend Joe who left LA years ago texted me out of the blue to say hi and he missed me. He had moved to Rhode Island with his boyfriend, but now they've just relocated to Fort Lauderdale. Joe and I have had a strangely parallel trajectory through life - personally, emotionally, creatively, and even professionally. Anyway, he's an even later late owl than me and now we have a semi-regular engagement to share writing (he's an amazing poet), songs, and whatevers. It's been a happy, unexpected little re-connection. 

That's Joe behind me, in the pirate eye makeup:


6. I was walking home last night in such a fantastic mood that I started singing a made-up song with the refrain "Life is beautiful" when the second biggest cockroach I have ever seen came full tilt at my ankles (no seriously, he was at least six inches tall). Brief interruption, then I kept singing. 

Roach: 0, Ellie: 1.

yes I know how pronouns work, it was just a cute exchange at whole foods, okay?

 [ butcher counter ]


"Hi there, how can I help you?"

"Hey, can I get that small piece of the king salmon right there?"

"This one on top?"

"Yeah, the little guy."

He pulls it from the case. "How do you know it's not a girl?"

"Oof. You got me there." We smile at one another. 

"Could have been a female fish, right?" 

"Yeah, I don't know her pronouns. They / them..?"

Big laugh. Then, as he's wrapping it: "Actually, I think this was a boy."

"That's a relief."

Hands me my filet oh fish. Very direct smile and eye contact. "You have yourself a great night."

Holding up my dinner: "Thanks, we will."

gabriel II

(continued from here)

He didn't touch me for what felt like forever. We watched the ridiculous Deadmau5 visuals, we danced, we talked and joked around as best one can, when one can barely hear anything above the live music. He was fascinated with the upper level VIP area, where girls in cocktail dresses and high heels leaned out over the railing. "It looks so boring up there!" He shook his head, disappointed. I saw the girls watching him. He was tall enough and good looking enough to stand out easily. 

"Let's get a drink," he said, and took my hand to lead me through the crowd. He held it tight and the mere feeling of being touched, chaste as it was, absolutely sent me. At the perimeter of the dance floor he quasi-introduced me to someone he'd met earlier. I couldn't make out any names, and our proximity to the speakers made for some confusion between us and the bartenders. We ended up being helped by two, who looked annoyed when we all realized what was happening. I paid, tipping heavily.  

Back on the dance floor, Gabriel was playful and sociable with everyone around us. I was still completely sober, not a drop or a dose in me, so I was self-aware and a little self-conscious. I didn't know what the rules were. I wanted him to lead, and I was fully prepared to follow. But Deadmau5 wasn't playing the music of his that you can really couple up to. He was playing the bouncy stuff. And it was great. Then he dropped into My Pet Coelacanth and I screamed and jumped, and Gabriel hugged me. That was the shift. He moved behind me, lightly touching my hip or brushing against my lower back. I wanted to make sure he was feeling it, so I looked back over my shoulder to read his face. Up to this point we'd just been endlessly smiling and laughing. But his expression now was serious, and he pulled me sharply against him. I lost my breath and when it came back, I sighed deeply and leaned my head back on his chest. 

That's how it played out. We'd be apart for a few minutes, then he would pull me to him, moving my body comfortably. Possessively, even. By the time Deadmau5 played Imaginary Friends I was flirting back, hard. Plucking at his shirt, twisting it in my fingers, barely touching his stomach and then letting go and stepping back. Looking in his eyes the whole time. 

It was a lot of fun to say the least.

Before we knew it, it was two am. "Clock's running out." 

"Yeah, but you live four blocks from here," he replied, throwing back one of the first facts he'd learned about me, two hours earlier.

"I do live four blocks from here," I confirmed. 

"So we could leave and go start a new clock." 

"We could start a new clock," I agreed. Knowing, already, that I would never see him again after tonight. Visiting from San Francisco. Much younger. This would be it.

"Let's go do that."

---

Outside was depressing. The homeless, the mentally ill, the filthy streets. He assured me that SF isn't much better. We turned on Seventh, walking by bodies passed out on the sidewalk and boarded-up restaurants. I read his thoughts. "Bleak, huh?" 

He tilted his head back to look up at the skyscrapers. "I like the buildings."

Halfway there he objected that we'd gone at least four blocks already. "Yeah, but 'twelve blocks' doesn't sound as sexy." I was nervous, and filled the walk with chatter. We had not even kissed, yet here we were on the way to my apartment. I mentioned that he might want to check in with his friends so they wouldn't worry when he didn't show up back at the hotel, then peppered him with questions. Had he and his friends just driven down for the Deadmau5 show? Partly yes, and partly to surf and camp on the coast. Was he from San Francisco originally? No, Atlanta. Had he been to Bonnaroo? Yes, plenty of times. 

When I asked what other musicians he liked and he said ODESZA was his favorite, I refrained from telling him they were one of mine, too. 

"There might be dishes in the sink," I warned him suddenly.

"I don't care about dishes, but do you have a foam roller?"

"I have multiple foam rollers," I answered triumphantly. 

When we got to my place, I immediately dipped into the bathroom to shower. On the way I grabbed a pair of thin black lounge pants and an oversized, cropped, short sleeve sweatshirt. I hadn't eaten in hours and my stomach was as flat as it ever can be. May as well keep up the crop top theme. When I came out, Gabriel was on the floor by the door, working his back out with one of the aforementioned rollers. "Oh my god, at least come over here on the carpet."

It was then I remembered that one entire side of my platform bed's support slats were broken or missing. I'd been sleeping carefully to one side for months. 

"Soooo, my bed is kind of broken," I announced. We had not yet touched one another.

"Broken how?" He looked at it.

"The slats under the mattress are fucked up."

Gabriel raised his eyebrows at me. "How did that happen?"

"Someone was trying to be funny and threw themselves on the bed."

"Is it usable?"

I made a face. "Depends on the use."

"Well, we're gonna try." A beat, then: "Do you have an extra towel? I kinda wanna shower, too."

While Gabriel showered, I did a quick once-over of my apartment. In the refrigerator was leftover salmon, some spinach, and an open pack of hot dogs. Gross, but throwing any of that away would just make my place smell bad. I realized my daily work to-do list was posted on the fridge. Embarrassing, but pulling it down after he might have already seen it would be even weirder. Then I remembered that the small dry erase board on the side of the fridge had a motivational message written on it. I grabbed a dish towel and wiped Your future self will thank you for not giving up out of existence. 

Knowing there was a very real possibility that Gabriel's weight alone would finish off the bed entirely, I laid down on the shag rug that covers most of my bedroom area floor. Plenty of room for both of us. From the shower Gabriel called out updates. He had figured out which of my unmarked toiletry pumps was shampoo. He liked the drawing of my dog. His back was really tweaked from surfing today. 

He emerged shirtless, in his boxers, to find me laying on my back, listening to the ODESZA playlist I had put on during his brief absence. I smiled a sheepish smile. Look! I'm on the floor! Isn't that cute and campy? Who cares that my janky-ass bed is broken!

He smiled back at me and I had a split second to realize his body was even better than I'd expected before he lowered himself down on top of me.

"What's 'Monrow'?" he asked, referencing the graphic on my sweatshirt.

Monrow is an expensive loungewear brand. I had bought the top I was wearing used, off Poshmark. "It's a city," I lied.

"A city?"

"Or a brand or something? I don't know. Would you like me to change?"

"No," he said, moving his hands under my shirt, "but I want you to take it off, because holy shit these are fantastic..."

---

The bed did not hold. The bed gave us about seven or eight glorious minutes and then physics got the best of it. There was some comedy in the scene, but underneath I was furious with myself for not having fixed it yet. We clambered around naked, attempting to correctly reposition the incomplete line of wooden boards. But they just kept falling. I went to use the bathroom and Gabriel tried valiantly to replace the massive king mattress without disturbing the precarious boards underneath.

"Fuck!" 

I came out of the bathroom to find him standing frustratedly next to a sunken-in bed. "Can we just put the mattress on the floor?" He seemed defeated.

"We absolutely can." We slid the mattress down to the ground directly at the foot of the bed. By now it was well past three am. The vibe had changed. It was bedtime. 

---

The next hour was my favorite of the entire night. The next hour was what I didn't know I had needed so badly. The next hour was the kind of sweet, fun, uncomplicated but intimate connection I have been missing. Talking, teasing. Silly voices. Cuddling. Gabriel was exhausted from his SoCal adventure but he couldn't sleep. He'd try for a minute then turn back to me for more attention and talking, which I happily provided. He was young and restless and beautiful, and all mine for a few more hours. I ran my fingers through his hair, stroked his back, and listened to him talk. Commercial real estate. Competitive league soccer. Surfing. Wealthy friends. Finance and economics, startups and cryptocurrency. His monologue dropped a lot of clues suggesting a definite avoidance of girlfriends, which I called out. 

"You're extremely independent, aren't you? Like...it's just you, isn't it?"

"Yes," he said simply. 

I was too hungry to sleep, so I got up to reexamine the fridge contents. I could feel him evaluating my half-dressed body in the half light of the room. His age had come up in conversation - 29 - but mine had not. The silence around our age difference was not uncomfortable though. It was just a thing, unspoken and neutral.

I microwaved us hot dogs which felt like the most unsexy food I could possibly have made, but it was really the only option. When I handed him his (on a plate; I had no buns), he got excited. "Mustard? Oh hell yes."

"That's just the juice from the hot dog. I don't have any mustard, I'm sorry."

He finished his quickly. "Honestly that was the best hot dog I've ever had in my life." I believed him.

---

Neither of us really slept. He blamed his hurting back and being overly exhausted from the day. But I knew the real reason was the same as mine: neither of us are used to sharing a bed with someone. We've both lost that comfort level. 

We tossed and turned until ten am, when there was no denying the invasive summer light or the fact that he needed to go back to his hotel, his friends, and his life. He kissed me goodbye, and I fell asleep within minutes of him leaving.

---

Do you remember the other day at the beach? You took yourself to the coast, to have a think and a feel about life. To remind yourself that good things are coming, even if you can't see them yet.

This was such a thing. This was a small moment in your life, insignificant in the scheme of things. But what did it teach you? What did it make you feel and remember?

Connection happens, if you put yourself out there for it. 

You are beautiful and outgoing and people are drawn to you. People choose you. They choose your energy.

And if you keep putting yourself out there, soon enough someone will choose you and you will choose them back, and that connection will be full of all the things that, in your hardest moments, you think are gone forever.

They aren't gone at all. They're just waiting to be made again. That's why we keep going and trying. 

So keep going, keep trying, keep dancing. But fix your goddamn bed already.

gabriel

Deadmau5 on Sunday night. I have every intention of rolling in later, showing up just in time for his set. But then comments on social media warning attendees to arrive early spook me, so that's what I do. I walk up just past nine, and the line is already around the block. 

Once inside, I move quickly through my usual routine. Trip the bathroom - huge tip for the attendant. Bottle of water from the bar - huge tip for the bartender. Then it's into the main room to see how crowded it is, and how soon I'll need to stake out a spot. 

It's filling up fast; people have already planted themselves against the stage and others are pressing up close. Normally I don't want to be anywhere this densely packed. But in seven years of going to Deadmau5 shows, I haven't once yet been near enough to see his actual face. And his music means a lot to me. After the past year + of personal, professional, social and romantic hell, tonight is a celebration. Tonight I want to see the face of the person whose music always helps me through. Just for a little bit, then I'll drift back. That's the plan, anyway.

The first opener isn't really my vibe, but I stay put. If I give up my place now, before I've met anyone to anchor myself to, I'll never get it back. But it isn't long before a couple of kids, absolute babies, adopt me. Matt and Nate. Matt looks like he just wandered out of a Kinko's, circa 1998. Long blonde ponytail, light blue oxford, pale, short and slight. Nate, also smaller than me, wears a short sleeve pink button down printed all over with palm trees. Matching my anticipation, Nate makes it his job to update me every few minutes on how much longer we have to wait for the headliner. "Thirty-seven more minutes." "Sixteen more minutes." "Four more minutes." They are friendly and unthreatening, and they are simultaneously fascinated and concerned that I've come alone. 

"We'll take care of you," Matt assures me with the confidence of the blissfully high. 

Everyone having more or less settled into their real estate for the night, we chat up our neighbors, dancing and laughing. This is the scene I've been missing. The second opener, Morgin Madison, is spectacular, and the visuals for his set are the most beautiful I've ever seen. Psychedelic swirls of color, geometric then organic, endlessly hypnotic. I'm 100% sober, people are jostling me continuously, but I don't care. Matt and Nate drift away and back in their engagements with the crowd.

Then: a booming voice over my right shoulder: "GIVE US THE MOOOOUSE!!" Everyone turns to see the culprit, which is a tall guy in a red soccer jersey. Seems to be with the couple he's standing beside. Early thirties. Athletic build. Brown hair and bright brown eyes. He doesn't look high or drunk. He just looks like he's having a fantastic time, and I smile at his mischievous energy. He sees my smile, smiles back. My heart thumps a little, and I turn back towards the stage, now keenly aware of his presence. Very, very rarely do I pay any attention to dudes at shows or festivals. I'm there for one thing and one thing only: the music. But the reason I very, very rarely pay attention to dudes at shows?

Because very, very rarely do I not have a boyfriend. 

Not half a minute later: "WE WANT THE MOUUUUUSEE! BRING OUT THE MOOOUSE!!" This time when I turn back he's waiting for my look. His grin is playful, daring. That one was for me. Our eyes lock and somewhere in some dimension of this occasionally ruthless, occasionally gorgeous universe, something clicks. I hold his gaze long enough to say, wordlessly: yes. Pretending to return my attention to the stage, I can now feel him watching me. He's moved up closer; there's just a single body between us. My movements become deliberate. I straighten my shoulders, arching my back in time to the music. I casually adjust the bottom of my cropped t-shirt to draw his attention to my stomach and lower back. 

The musician onstage appears to be winding down, then doesn't. Then does it again. "How many times is he gonna dooo that??" I shoot a look over my shoulder. He's angled such that he could have been speaking to me. So close I could touch him. I decide, Fuck it. I'll go first.

"First time?" I tease. 

He laughs. "What, seeing Deadmau5?" I nod. "Second." I scoff and make a face. That's nothing

"And you?" The stranger that was positioned between us has suddenly moved off. 

I hold up my right hand and splay my fingers. "Five times." My expression says I win

"Well excuse me, Miss...Miss..." He looks down the length of my body for something to make fun of. "...water bottle."

I point my water bottle at him and say with mock seriousness, "Hydration is very important."

"No kidding. I wish I had some of that." 

Wordlessly, I offer my bottle to him. A year and a half ago, this gesture would have meant nothing. Sharing water at electronic shows, even among total strangers, is very common. It's a caring community, and everyone knows the dangers of getting locked tight into a crowd without water. But tonight? Less than a month since re-opening, on the heels of a global pandemic that still isn't over? We both know the significance of swapping spit. His eyes don't leave mine as he drinks and hands the bottle back. "Thank you," he mouths.

A tap on my shoulder. Matt has been watching this interaction and is fulfilling his promise to watch over me. "You good?" He gives me a meaningful look and questioning thumbs up, which I return. "You sure?" I nod vigorously. "Okay." And with that I am left unchaperoned for the rest of my evening. 

Red jersey and I barely have time to register that yes, we are definitely going to watch this show together, before the show suddenly starts. And it's loud. Really, really loud. He correctly hears my name when he asks but I can't make out his, despite how close his mouth is to my ear. I take out my phone, open the notepad app, and write NAME while watches, laughing. When I hand him the phone he spaces down a line and then types F - backspace - G - A - B. 

"Gab?" He nods, then leans close again. "Gabriel," he says, pronouncing it with a short 'a'.

"Gabriel," I repeat back. The pronunciation throws me off, so I say it again, slowly. "Gaaabriel." We are both smiling way too much. Now that I'm next to him, I can see the way his clothes drape across his body. Mostly, though, I'm noticing that he has the warmest, deepest brown eyes I've ever seen. 

I'm pretty sure it's going to be a great night. 

your friday, my wednesday

Just a couple of really beautiful songs today:

Close Enough, by Corren Cavini (feat. The Ultraverse):

   

 Kolkata (extended mix), by Dekkai:

 

lined up

Pretty emotional tonight, in a very good way. In approximately 24 hours I'll be getting ready to head out to the first live music show I have been to in a year and a half, at least. My butterflies have butterflies, which are still larvae, but which will have hatched by 10pm tomorrow. And the swarm will carry me into a club filled with people who share my interests, or at least one of them, whose faces I will be able to see and smile at, if I so choose. I may cry. I may fucking cry, because #emotionaldysregulation. Or I may just laugh nonstop with giddiness. But I tell you what, that is the kind of intense happiness I wouldn't give up for all the world, because it is so intoxicating. And I'll be in the thrall of it, in less than 24 hours. I've never seen ARTBAT, but if their Insta is any indication, it's going to be a really good time. 

If you don't follow me on IG, then you didn't see me lose my shit over scoring a Deadmau5 ticket for his show Sunday. For context, Deadmau5 is my absolute favorite musician of all time, all genres, no contest. That's it. That's the context. I am obsessed with him and I catch him every chance I get. Usually that's at a festival two or more hours away. Once it was at USC, a twenty minute train ride away, when my date was so obviously bored it sapped all the fun for me. On Sunday though? It's at a venue literally five blocks from my apartment. A ten minute walk. My actual neighborhood. On Sunday, a night I finish work early anyway. Could not be more perfect. It was a surprise last minute show announcement, I'm guessing he had plans to be in LA for the 4th and then told his promoter Fuck it, book me. When I saw the announcement on Twitter I truly stared uncomprehendingly at it for a good two minutes before scrambling to get a ticket. Naturally it is sold out. But I will be there, motherfuckers. I will be there, closer to Joel Zimmerman than I have ever been before. Happy end of pandemic to me.

Then, after ARTBAT tomorrow and Deadmau5 Sunday I've got Cosmic Gate a few weeks later, then Beyond Wonderland at the end of August, for which I already have my outfit, made up of colors I normally wouldn't be caught dead in, i.e. cantaloupe and lilac.

It is very important to me that you know my backpack and shoes are both purple, too. As will be my hoodie. 

And before you excoriate me for being way, way too old for this nonsense, know that my plan for some time now -- since Covid kicked into high gear -- has been to spend one last, crazy year in LA, soaking up as many shows and festivals as I can, then "retire" gracefully (?) from the scene and move somewhere north, cold, and a lot more quiet. Of course, that was before I got moved to a salary the size of which I was not expecting. So now who knows. 

Regardless: one day night at a time. One wonderful, joyful, stupidly playful night at a time.

go to the beach

Go to the beach.

Go to the beach, because it's been months since you have. 

Go to the beach because it's easy and cheap. Thirty-five minutes on the train and $1.75. Go because there are millions of people who would if they could, but they can't. Because it's cool and cloudy and there might be a beautiful sunset.

Go to the beach even though it doesn't move you. Just go. Go to see sand under your feet instead of asphalt. Walk until you get away from the noise of the pier, the screaming children, the music and the lights. Stay close to the water line, let waves hit your ankles and wet your jeans. Hear snippets of conversations, see a hundred people making memories.

Go to the beach and find a spot as far away from everyone as you can. Throw a blanket down. Plant your phone in your shoes and your headphones in your ears. Lay back and let dusk wash over you. No sunset tonight, and the slight Monday crowd is clearing out quickly.

Go to the beach and stay later than feels right. Night comes abruptly this time of year; it's nine o'clock before you know it. Someone will be shooing you along soon. Stay until they do. 

You know it won't be long now, right? There's a feeling in you building, an anticipation that tightens your throat in a way that thrills but also scares. You don't have to be scared, though. The world turns and everything changes, including you and all that surrounds you. It's been a hard time. It's been a long time. You were lost and hurt and alone even when you weren't, but these things go in cycles. 

It won't be long now. Good things you can't yet see are coming. Every day is a step towards the new. All you have to do is be you and believe. 

Go to the beach and believe.




gatekeeping

A feeling like forgiveness came knocking at the gate. I saw it through the peephole but I didn't let it in, because feelings often wear disguises and I'm not always sure I can trust them. But I was less afraid than curious, so I went to the window and drew back the curtain, and this is what I saw:

I saw you and I in a surprise meeting, running into one another on some common, beloved ground. I saw myself not freezing, and not running away. I saw myself smile and even laugh a little. But I saw that underneath, my bones were like cold stone in winter moonlight. They held no warmth for you, because they'd been bereft of sunshine for so long.

In my fantasies, fantasy you came to me wordlessly, and I melted against your chest in pure bliss. But that you doesn't exist and never has, and that me learned to keep myself warm all through winter, alone.

And now there's a gate where I make my feelings stop and wait until I trust them. Today a feeling like forgiveness came knocking, but it was just indifference in disguise.

concessions

Everything I want to say to you is like an overpriced box of candy at the movies, shrink-wrapped in plastic. There is no subtle way to open it, but you can't quit until it's done. 

And if I did: sour bites would tumble out loudly, briefly enjoyable but ultimately regrettable.

Not worth the cost.

when the dust settles and you look in the mirror

There is no revenge so perfect or so thorough you can exact that will change the fact that you are the kind of person who needs to seek revenge. And the only people who need to seek revenge are bitter, angry people. People who ruminate, and resent. People who stew, and nurse grievances.

There is no vengeance you can take that doesn't betray that you ruminated and stewed. That you didn't have the inner peace to just walk away. That you don't have a life so full of awesomeness that you're too busy to plot and scheme. 

Spiteful, preoccupied, sleepless. That is a person to pity.

Unbothered, positive, secure in themselves. That is a person to admire. 

Once you've shown what you're made of, you can never go back. No one will ever forget. 

shine up that shovel

Hello from the tail end of another weird weekend. Just finished Zooming with Erin, which was the highlight. I'm over caffeinated but sun sleepy, having spent way too much time at the pool today. But the pool is a novelty I'm not used to yet, since it's only just opened back up. That, along with the fitness room, are amenities I've been paying for since I moved in a year ago -- right when they became off-limits due to Covid. Cashing in now, as much as I can. 

It's been a weird weekend because while Los Angeles is back to normal, I still haven't done anything or gone anywhere. For one thing all of my friendlets are gone or wifed up and unavailable, and for another I'm trying to be smart with money. Also I'm suddenly unsure what to do with my free time. I'm so used to holing up at home I've forgotten how to life. I'm like an animal that's been cooped up then suddenly finds its cage open, only to nervously stay put.

I did get a ticket for an event next week. Coworkers have been going out and I listen, wistfully, to their tales of exotic travels to places like crowded bars and beach parties and I pine to be out in the mix, too. So I did another scan of all my favorite haunts and lo and behold, there's an EDM show next week that will be perfect. I grabbed a ticket and the butterflies hit immediately when I realized that instead of having two and a half months to prepare to go back in, I had nine days. The anxiety was a surprise. I thought I'd feel nothing but excitement. 

So I sat down and asked myself, Self, what is your problem? You have been dreaming of this day for a year and a half. And Self and I had a good talk, and now I understand. I don't think I'm the only one with a little bit of pandemic PTSD. And it doesn't help that I can't ease back into things in the company of friends. I'm solo. I'm also single, and it dawned on me that the last time I went out dancing alone, single, was a few weeks after I'd moved to K-town and escaped the insanity of living with my ex-boyfriend. I was in an absolute terrible state and I forced myself to go out for a change of scenery and energy. And that was the night I met Timo. And though that came to an end I am realizing that the same thing could very well happen again. 

I think my lockdown addled brain is not quite ready to grasp that the world really is mine again. I have been really sad and really stagnant for a long time. It was devastating to have three of my closest friends move away. Then Kenny bounced out too, and it took me six fucking months to get over him. Six months. On top of that I've worked an absolute bonkers amount the past year and a half in an industry everyone knows is now woefully understaffed, considered somewhat essential, I guess, but definitely stressful as all living fuck. All I know right now is high-stress work and my own company. That's it. No wonder that when the doors to the world are being thrown open again I'm timid about walking through them. It really is a kind of PTSD.

But it's going to be okay. I'm out of practice, but I haven't forgotten everything. I haven't forgotten what it's like to get ready, grab my phone and my ID, and skip through downtown Los Angeles on my way to listen to the best music producers in the world, just blocks from my front door. I haven't forgotten what it's like to lose myself in that music and feel so unbelievably alive. I haven't forgotten what it's like to connect with strangers over that music, to smile and laugh. I haven't forgotten what it's like to slip out almost at the end of the night, sweaty and buzzing and empowered by having just taken myself on an incredibly fun date. 

Eight days until I start burying 2020 -- and half of 2021 -- under better memories, and reconnecting to the me that got through them. 

but what do I know

Just three tracks today, from the files of I Canna Grok Why Thays Musicians Dunnut Haf Bigger Followins. Happy Friday, if Friday is your Friday.



bridges

Recently a friend was going through a difficult transition, and I told him to try and think of himself as being on a bridge. When you're on a bridge, you're between two places. There's not a sense of finality or doom. There's only anticipation and expectation and looking ahead. 

And I've realized what a powerful tool that is, in managing my own emotions. This is a hard time for me. I have a job, I have insurance, I have my health, and I have supportive friends. There's nothing really wrong. But it isn't a time of thriving, either. There isn't a lot of joy or excitement or connection or fulfillment. My friends all peaced out of LA, I haven't been able to go out, have fun, hear music, meet new people, be stimulated and engaged. I feel creatively flat.

My mind loves to lie to me at times like this. It loves to whisper and insinuate. It loves to plant seeds of doubt and fear way, way down deep in the bottom of my soul. It loves to hint at finality and doom. But all I have to do is answer, No. I'm just on a bridge. I'm between times of thriving and joy. And while I'm on this bridge, I'm still growing. Still learning patience and forbearance and acceptance. The bridge is serving a purpose, too.

It's a kind of faith. 

I saw an incredible quote today that stopped me cold. Faulkner. "You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore." I don't know that I've ever had the courage to swim away from any shore, ever. I cling to the shallows in my fucking water wings. But I was stirred by that quote because even if I'm not actively paddling out, I know that just by virtue of all the change (read: loss) of the last year and a half - I now have space in my life for whatever is on the new horizons. And I know that the changes I'm working toward are going to be here before I know it. And then my courage will be called upon, in a way it never has. And there will be no water wings in sight.

so I met someone

A few days ago some guy comes into my work carrying a puppy. It's massive, which is to say it's about the size Chaucer was at six months: an armload and then some. I don't even attempt to be chill. My jaw falls open like he's just brought in a unicorn, and he smiles when I come running over to meet this incredible creature. 

Him: "Guess how old she is."

Me: (usually very good at this) "Six months."

Him: "Six weeks."

At this point I'm losing it, because I'm doing some quick calculations based on the size of her paws, and I'm realizing that I am in the presence of 1) a giant breed, and 2) a giant breed I don't recognize. And there isn't much I love more than getting to meet a giant breed dog for the first time - in no small part because I consider it research for my own next dog.

She's clearly some kind of shepherd, but with coloring I can't attach to the usual suspects. Her body is fawn and white, but she's got a black muzzle. She's utterly amazing and my face is clearly communicating boundless delight, because the guy sets her down at my feet and steps away to order food. She is now mine, all mine, for the next five glorious minutes. 

"What is she?"

"She's a Gampr."

"A Domper?"

"A Gampr."

"A Gomper?"

"A Gampr. G-a-m-p-r. It's an Armenian breed. She just got here, that's why she's so tired."

"You mean, like, to the US? Like you just landed?"

"She did. She came through Paris. She's been traveling. She's exhausted."

As if to agree, this absolute angel then sits right between my legs where I'm squatting down to pet her. She lifts her head to look at me, and I pull my mask down so she can see my whole face. She gives me two small kisses on the tip of my nose and my heart leaves my body forever. I sink down exactly as I am, my legs split awkwardly and uncomfortable - but I don't dare risk disturbing her. A second later, she too sinks down, puddling sleepily in my lap. I am now having an out of body experience, the joy is so intense.

The guy orders while I softly stroke his puppy. Gampr, I think to myself. Never heard of it. Her fur is softer than I remember any shepherds ever feeling, but then I've not had much experience of shepherds, tbh. I notice her ears are cropped and I comment on it.

"Yeah," the guy says. "Not my choice, but it's the breed standard."

Another few minutes elapse. Her eyes close and I pet her as lightly as possible, wanting to let her sleep but desperately needing to touch her. My twisted legs are starting to cramp up but I don't budge. I realize that this is the happiest, most content, most fulfilled, most delighted, and most myself  I have felt since...since Chaucer. I am meant to be a dog mom. It's the only role, other than student, that I have ever excelled at. That's just facts. 

When it's time to go, she doesn't want to. She refuses to get up, even when her owner reaches the door and calls for her. I gently hoist her up but she lingers around my ankles and I have to force myself to walk towards the door so she'll follow. 

I'm useless the rest of the night. Totally distracted. I have to get a dog. I have to get a dog. I have to get a dog is all I can think. 

---

One of my favorite things to muse about is what kind of dog I'm going to get next. I was pretty solidly on Team Great Dane, and then someone brought a mastiff to my work and threw a monkey wrench in my plan of not repeating history. But now, after meeting this Gampr puppy, I'm leaning back towards Anatolian Shepherd...

Here's hoping someone brings in one of those.

when all you can pad kee mao is blog about

Hello kids. Greetings from Estivation Nation, where the 90 degree weather has me shuttered inside for most of my weekend, save for essential errands like skulking off to Brazilian Wax Center (#summer #optimism) and Whole Foods for A2/A2 milk. 

I don't actually know what A2/A2 milk is, other than I need to reserve a portion of my paycheck for it every week, because it is fucking delicious. Whole Foods cruelly, mercilessly got me hooked on St. Benoit Jersey milk before ripping it away without warning when they discontinued it. I still check for it every time, and sigh dejectedly within earshot of any nearby employees in hopes they'll inquire as to the source of my distress. 

Most people cannot hang with the Jersey milk, or the A2/A2 milk, which is so thick and creamy there is usually a big glob of milk solids at the top of the bottle. Me, I love it. The creamier the better. Lay me down under the damn cow, I am not afraid of what will come out of that thing. (Let's get the positioning just right though; positioning is key.)

So anyway yes, the main events of my weekend were the awkward small talk between myself and my "wax specialist" (idk, I feel like we can call them aestheticians?) and the extra large blob of cream waiting for me in my fancy cow juice. 

---

It is LA's reopening day, which means no more social distancing, no more masks in most environments, and no more capacity restrictions. I rewarded myself for scheduling my mammy-gram with Starby's, and I was so excited to see the "masks optional for vaccinated persons" sign on the door. Only, then I went in and I was the only person not wearing one. And I know most of those people have to be good to go at this point, because California crushed the vaccination game. I felt a little bit like a pariah until the espresso hit my brain, and now I just want to bounce around the entire city looking at as many faces as I can, for those who are ready to show me them to me. 

Despite the reopening, I still don't have much going on yet. I've been checking all my favorite venues constantly, to see what show announcements are dropping. But as of right now, my first event "back" will be Eric Prydz, downtown, the third week of August. I'm definitely ready for something sooner, but I want my first time to be special. I'm not going to give it up to just anyone. And nothing has been tempting enough, yet, to topple Prydz. So I will wait, and watch. And drink my A2/A2 milk to get big and strong enough to dance for an entire 50 minute set without pause.

---

I've been doing my weird color-coded eating thing again. I don't think I actually ever blogged about this, because it is so bizarre. But something happened last summer, when the heat really kicked in, where all I wanted to eat was fruit and vegetables. And I was scrolling Pinterest for simple, light meals when I came across a photo of one of those color wheel fruit trays. Not a full rainbow, just like two or three colors. And it looked so incredibly appetizing that I immediately went to the store and copied it. And then I did it again, the next day - but this time I incorporated vegetables. And before I knew it, my weird ass was going to the grocery store daily to pick out my dinner in the produce section, based on whatever color jumped out at me. (Legumes and beans were allowed, too.) The idea was to choose two colors - say, purple and green - and then make a meal of them. Blackberries, eggplant, purple potatoes. Green beans, edamame, honey dew melon. Whatever. Just had to match. 

I know - these are not flavors that meld. Hence the weirdness. But I really connected to this practice, and for about two weeks, I would create these really beautiful meat-free meals that had small portions of five or six different things. I felt incredible eating this way, but of course it wouldn't last. Two weeks and I was back to craving tacos and pad kee mao. 

Fuck. Now I really want pad kee mao.