extreme scheduling for anxious types

A thing I have always known about myself but which was vividly refreshed during the pandemic is that too much unstructured time is extremely detrimental to my well being. Without a schedule, I fall apart: anxiety, rumination, low mood. The right amount of free time is heaven to me. When I have two or three days off, I plunge into my weekends, super stoked on the things I'm going to write, the friends I'm going to catch up with, the mini adventures I'm going to squeeze in. But there's a very fine line between the right amount of time and too much.

My work schedule was only briefly interrupted by the COVID. I only spent one pay period working three days a week. Not a huge deal but all that unexpected time tripped me up hard. So I went into Google Sheets and designed the prettiest, most soothing spreadsheet to which I could rigorously adhere, for the sake of sanity. I made a Work Day schedule and two Day Off schedules, because #variety. Here's one of the latter:



An extremely rigid schedule is not for everyone. But if you, too, spiral with too much time on your hands, here's my template. Just merge cells and color as needed. Mental illness? Nah, mental coolness!

the libra thing

A couple posts back I dropped a Libra joke. And look, I know astrology is a bunch of malarky. But it is a fact that virtually ALL the men I have gotten close to romantically and socially in the past 7 years are Libras, with a few Leos thrown in.

So what the fuck. What the actual fuck.

Cameron? Leo. 

Terence? Libra.

Timo? Leo.

Kenny? Libra.

Costa? Libra.

Brent? Libra.

My date last week? Libra.

I know better than to place any stock whatsoever in this. And yet, if you check out any compatibility rating for Libras and Geminis, it's always solid. The fact that I know it's just coincidence and random circumstance makes it even more fun for me, because it totally triggers my Matrix theory of life (I'm not remotely convinced we're not all living in a simulation), and because the Libras and Leos in my life are just so, so very Leonine and Libraesque.

Fun, crazy shit. 

ride or die

Please enjoy this update from rural Ohio, which will be stop #2 on my Post-Pandemic Cross Country Friendship Revival Tour, wherein I visit everyone who fled LA for greener (and here I mean financially) pastures.


(*passenger's)

the y you chose

I dreamt of wolves the night we didn't say goodbye - the night you left me with two single letters and not much more. 

"Should I move on? y/n"

You answered quickly. 

"It's not that easy."

I dreamt of wolves, which was a departure from the whales and the water. Five or six of them, out in the cold, caliginous night. Snow on the ground muffled their movements, but I knew they were there. And they knew about me, too. 

We went back and forth. You talked about how hard it's been. How you're figuring yourself out. How you're trying and fixing. "I know," I said. "I believe it. And I'm not crowding you or rushing you. But it's been three months and I'm checking in." But you wouldn't choose y and you wouldn't choose n, so we went a few more rounds. 

The wolves paced underneath my window while my mind roamed other dreamscapes, anxious and aware that some unconfronted danger was waiting for me. Finally I came back. It was an empty, echoing shell of a building, like the weird, abandoned camp we found that night in the woods.

I think wolves have always reminded me of you. You like to move in packs, with whom you trust everything. You can be solitary when you need to be. You were made for the cold, and for never being caught. 

I felt compelled to open the window and climb out onto the ledge. I was dangerously close to the ground, to the animals below. I couldn't stop myself from reaching out to them. Shades of ash and smoke; lanky, hungry, menacing. The nearest snarled at me as I extended my hand. But slowly, gently, I ran my palm across his furry head. He flattened his ears and stood still for my touch.

It went on for maybe an hour. "It's been horrible and the only outlet I have is music and going outdoors." By now how pointedly you were avoiding saying anything about me, about us - only you, you, you - had me desperate to end it, finally. Just a month ago you said "I'm doing this for you," but you weren't, were you? You aren't. I've turned off all the music, I've lay alone and silent in my bed listening as hard as I could, but all I have heard is snow falling, covering and quieting every trace of us.

"I already know how you feel about music and outdoors. I'm asking how you feel about me. Should I move on? y/n."

"y"

And just as I'd willed it into existence, the y you chose lit up the otherwise dark room, a tiny point of light like a candle burning out. I didn't miss a beat before I asked one last question. "But it was awesome for a while, right? y/n"

"y"

I didn't remember the ending to my dream until late in the morning, and when I did, an avalanche of feeling knocked me breathless. In the end, the perspective shifted from first to third person, and as if filmed by drone I saw myself sitting in the snow, surrounded closely by the wolves. Two stood like sentries at my shoulders: noses up, noble. One lay across my lap, a wild thing choosing to be docile and calm. Two or three others were a blur of fur and limb and majesty. They were mine and I was theirs and there was safety and trust and an unspoken intimacy. 

I won't look for you again. You can have your forest back, and I'll find one of my own. Snow will fall and erase our tracks, faster than it took us to put them down. Winter is merciful that way.

unsure

Hi hello. Woo boy have I had a week (+), which felt more like a month. Things that happened in the past 10 days:

1. My head chef threw his back out, so I lost my "weekend" to work. Hence no bloggy time, sorrys.

2. My head chef quit.

3. My previous head chef, laid off when the DTLA store closed, agreed to come back to work at the WeHo store.

4. I had a date.

5. I put an employee under suspension and he responded with super offensive (but hilarious) texts to my phone. Absolute HR madness. 

6. Some awesome new-to-me music + LA's new case count dropping to <1k/day has me feeling super, super stoked on life rn. 

---

I know only one of those items is of interest to you, though, so I'll spare you expanded details about all but item 5. 

Um so yeah! A date! A friend of four years with whom I've always had chemistry but "never an opportunity" type-deal. He's never been far out of my life, always periodically checking in to say hello or stopping by my work to do the same. Super good vibes and laughs, always. 

He called me out of the blue when I was getting on the subway about a month ago. Calls are rare for us though so I answered with "I'm going to be so bummed if this is a butt dial." Big laugh from him, because it wasn't. Cut to us making tentative plans to hang out, go for a hike, something, whatever, because both of our pandemic bubbles have shriveled up to almost nothing and we wanted to connect, being humans and all.

Lots of back and forth'ing and postponing ensued. He traveled, wanted to quarantine; work was sapping all my free time. He flaked once for recording/producing time (he's a musician who basically spends every spare minute in the studio); I flaked because I felt unsure about getting together.

Because I have gone through some serious shit, romantically, the past few years. Because I am jaded and scared and do not know how to process men that are, like, actually available. Because I don't really know where I'm at other than I've been doing exceptionally well, the past few months, being 100% focused on me and my goals.

Anyway, we got togther.

So this person absolutely crushes, across the board, in terms of Things Ellie Wants and Likes. We're talking the full range of superficial shit to straight-up values and character traits. And it has been confusing as fuck! 

Fun (?) fact: I have three extremely superficial and stupid "things" that, aside from all the very, very important compatibility factors like COMMUNICATION and BASIC CONSIDERATION are my "things" about guys: 1. hair, 2. name, 3. voice. I know this is terrible and so shallow, but there you are. Well, this person scores 10/10 on all three. So that's cool! He literally has the best name of any guy I've ever been with, like top three men's names of all time, and that is an unbelievably dumb thing to be into, but there you go. 

Also: he is deeply solicitous and interested in my creative life. He asks serious, probing questions in an effort to get to know someone. He listens. He has strong opinions and is driven. He's athletic and creative and knows exactly how to take care of himself and achieve his goals. He loves all the same music as me. He loves all the same drugs as me. He is blonde and strong and ridiculously handsome and laughs all the time, and he thinks the fact that I know hundreds of $5 words is adorable. In fact all night when we were together every few minutes he'd yell "Word!" and I would dispense a new, crazy word along with its spelling and definition, like abyssopelagic or brontology or astrobleme, and my voice would get all high like I was a teenager in a spelling bee and it was a riot but also hot? IDK.

(I also recited the Dickinson and Gerard Manley Hopkins poems I have memorized, which is the weirdest foreplay ever I know, but welcome to dating me!)

And that's where I have to leave it. Because I have been unsure about entering into the space he's been inviting me into, since that night. So unsure in fact that I ghosted on him for a few days because I didn't know how to tell him that all of his attention and interest was so alien and weird that I needed it to stop. And I don't want him to have to change one single thing about himself to make me feel better, just because I am a damaged weirdo. So I pulled away, and that is where it has been left, because I don't want to string him along while I "figure my shit out". 

But I am unsure. 

p.s.  He is a fucking Libra. Because of course.

mi portfolio

Housekeeping note: I threw a bunch more shit on my portfolio and updated it. I considered calling it a portfauxlio, but that's a bit too self-deprecating even for me. Though it really is loaded (bloated) with every random-ass creative and intellectual direction I've ever meandered off in.

Hilariously enough, I got tapped for a fun little ongoing side hustle (visual stuff, not writerly) - and it was this that nudged me to clean up my profesh (lol) site in case other such opportunities come along.

I'm usually deathly sick of anything I design for the web within a few months, but I've had this same simple squarespace layout for a few years now, and it still makes me happy. I spent a dog's age making "read next" type buttons that I really like, but if anyone knows how to install a randomizer button on Squarespace, please let me know. 








































Now I just have to decide if I want to do the link tree thing on my IG profile. Because Instagram can turn itself into a magazine and totally ruin the experience for users...but it can't accommodate two different links in one profile.

p r o b l e m

"I have a problem," you said, and as they hit the ground the words grew like seeds planted. "I have a problem," you said, "but I don't have it when I'm with you." 

Well, the part about me fell away like chaff. But the part about you took root between us, deep and undeniable. In time it forced its way up, splitting the sidewalk until we could not walk to one another without stumbling.

"I have a problem," you said, and the words swelled in the summer heat, higher and higher until they were as tall as the Hollywood sign. Until they were tall enough for you to climb right inside and hide from me there, whenever I looked too hard. Whenever I loved too hard. 

You left, but the shells of one word remain. I can see your ghost sometimes, in one or another letter. 

I can see you in the P, waiting at the gate, your thumbs hooked under the straps of your backpack.

I can see you in the M, how you kicked all your limbs out across the bed at night.

I can see you in the O, curled senseless and lost to me, around the thing you couldn't escape.

And so on. But it's just an illusion; it's not actually you. Tourists don't know, until they try, that they can't really get to the Hollywood sign. And now I know I can't really get to you.

other peoples dreams are boring AF

My dreams lately are an absolute ride. Huge bodies of water, exhilaration where there should be fear. So vivid I wake up with my heart pounding, wishing I could go back. Wishing I was an artist so I could paint them.

--- last month ---

I'm standing at the edge of a massive pier that goes on endlessly behind me. It's so high up over the water the waves move in slow motion; so high I can see the curvature of the earth. It's a bright, sunny day, and there is nothing in this world other than the planked wooden pier and the choppy water below. And I'm diving in again and again. When I jump the fall is so long the wind carries me far from the pier and I have to swim for a long time to get back to it, to climb out. I know there is danger, I know there are unknowns in the blue beneath me -- but I can't stop.

--- recently ---

It's an ocean, it must be an ocean since there are huge whales gliding underneath - but the water is perfectly pellucid all the way down. There's an enormous grey and white mottled whale, covered in thick barnacles. There's another, with markings like a killer whale but the size of a house. There's a third: a smooth, milk white beluga, also outsized. I'm in a tiny rowboat above them, but I know if I slip into the water I'll be safe, they won't hurt me. My friend Mason is there, in another boat nearby. We're not talking, it's too sacred to speak, but we're there together, in thrall of the scene. 

--- this morning ---

Chaucer and I are in a river valley dense with trees. The river is wide, pooling out into spacious lakes -- but at points it winds sharply, so you can only see a small section of it at a time. He gets away from me, goes bounding after two other big dogs. I panic, terrified he's going to get hurt, get into a fight. But instead they play, and in my relief I get distracted by an old man telling me, exasperated, to read the menu again, because I've apparently just tried to order something that isn't available. When I realize Chaucer has swum out into the river and could be swept away, I plunge in after him. I get him out of the water only to come up against a fence. I need to lift all 135 pounds of him over it, to finally get him safe. I struggle, he's so heavy, and when he doesn't clear the wire railing his nail catches and he yelps in pain. I wake up crying but I can't shake the image of the shimmering, sunlit river. I want to be there again, with him or someone like him. 

---

I needed to look at photos of Chaucer after this dream, and watched some old vids on the insta I made for him. If you don't understand while I'll never, ever, ever get over my dog please just look at how he looked at me. 

quatrieme etape

What a breakup sounds like, in five stages:

1. I can't hear anything other than your voice, which I'm not hearing, because you're gone. It's very confusing. How can you not be here, but all I hear? Granted this might have something to do with voicemail and video playbacks, on my part. I'll see about bulking up my delete finger. No promises. 

2. Well, now all I can hear is your silence. And it's really fucking loud. Please be quiet(er). I can't hear myself hearing nothing.

3. Something strange is happening. The space where you aren't speaking - where there should be anything, something to say - is filling up. It's filling up with ugly, murmuring memories I kept turned down low all this time. But the volume button appears to be broken, so what the fuck. 

4. I am now living in a Cranberries album. This is not my choice. I would rather do anything else with my time than fixate on the invisible and the gone. But here we are: all I hear are the songs I want to write.

5. ???

jaywalk with me

I have a working theory that everything I need to know about you, I can learn from watching you jaywalk.

How close are you willing to cut it, between passing cars? My point of interest here isn't how reckless or daring you are - it's how considerate you are. There's nothing worse than having someone dash out in front of your speeding car. Do you take into consideration the driver's perspective and concomitant anxiety? Or just bolt, because you're gonna do you. 

Where do your position yourself when waiting on an island or median? Do you lean out close to the edge of traffic, stressing drivers the fuck out? Or do you stand as far back as possible, because you're not impatient, insane, or inconsiderate.

When you finally do cross, do you haul ass? Or slow walk, to flex and be a dick? Jaywalk with me, show me your true colors. 

I closed my eyes

It's a common misconception that the greatest Oingo Boingo song is Dead Man's Party. No. The greatest Oingo Boingo song is We Close Our Eyes. 

We Close Our Eyes is an anthem for those of us who struggle with change at first, but then ultimately, happily give in when the excitement of what's new crowds out the grief of what's lost.

For those of us who fall in love over and over again, succumbing to optimism despite every ounce of painfully collected evidence. 

For those of us learning to accept the spin, spin, spin of the planet and the days, months, years it takes from us.

The same day that I said goodbye to Erin, I found out I've been made GM of our West Hollywood location. No more temporary supporting of the Santa Monica store. WeHo is mine now.  It's back to epic daily walks through Hancock Park, full time+ hours, and days so busy they fly by.

It's an excellent move for me in every regard and I am thrilled. But it's a big change, and right now I still feel like a rook on a chessboard. (A rook because there's really only two stores I could be transferred to - two directions I can be moved in.)

I'll be on a regular schedule with a two-day weekend starting Monday, but this week my days off are split as I scramble to re-organize the store digitally and physically and get my feet under me. Meaning I'm pretty tapped out and Ye Olde Blogge might suffer for it, just this week.

But here's a photo I took on my way home from work the other night. It's not Disneyland; it's an actual home in Hancock Park. The entire neighborhood feels like this. Gorgeous homes, perfectly maintained landscaping, tree-lined drives with lanterns for street lights. Quiet, empty sidewalks where I can process my day. 



























The timing for me to take on the beast that is WeHo is perfect. All my friends have dipped out of LA, where there is no social scene yet anyway. All work and no FOMA makes Ellie a very good goal-achiever.

Work/life/health balance, however, 'bout to be thrown out the window. See you in summer, Balance! 

The Burlecks: envy

For today's lockdown activity, I decided to create a flash fiction self-challenge. Same characters cycling through each of the seven deadly sins. Let's see how far I can get!

---

Mr. and Mrs. Burlecks are just home from the theater and settling into the parlor. In the fireplace, logs crackle and spit at one another, the only conversation in a quickly heating room. Mr. and Mrs. B are both terribly cranky, but for different reasons.

Mr. B is cranky because tonight he was in the balcony, not on the stage. Mr. B, an actor himself, cannot abide spectating, as he calls it. Then there was the matter of that loathesome Jessup, soigne and smugly fit. How did he always materialize when Polly was around? It was maddening. Not that Polly cared or much noticed, he assured himself, unconsciously tugging at shirt cuffs whose yellowing stains were concealed well enough in the dim room. His wife had no use for bankers. What a dull, dry existence they must lead!

Meanwhile, absently caressing the cretonne arm of the wingback in which she perched, Mrs B is equally lost in her discontent. The evening had begun pleasantly enough. She'd felt the usual wave of admiring glances wash across her the minute they'd entered the theater. All the tortuous indecision of the previous hour spent studying her wardrobe - and her mirror - melted away, her beauty reconfirmed once more. But then intermission came, and under the blazing light of a dozen chandeliers, Polly's charms diffused into the crowd at large. The playhouse was full of elegant young women. And most, she'd noted bitterly, wore dresses finer and more modern than hers.

Neither of the Burlecks are thinking of the play at all.

---

TBC

these tiny hoops

I bought some tiny silver hoops for you -- whoever you are. 

Eight millimeters, barely big enough to push a pencil through. Just a bright little loop to catch the candlelight. They wrap perfect and tight around my earlobes and you probably won't notice them until you get close.

You can press them between your thumb and finger. You'll feel how delicate and pliant the wire is. You can press harder, if you want, and twist until I cry out. Just be careful taking my sweater off, so they don't snag. Take your eyes off mine long enough to do that.

I have loads of lacy lingerie, a leather collar and a leash. But for some reason, these tiny hoops feel more feminine than anything I've ever worn. Maybe you could help me figure out why?

They're waiting in my top drawer, and they're my promise to you that there is still something unknown and unseen and unfelt in me. Let's find out what that is, together, while I'm wearing these tiny hoops for you.

smudgy stamp farewell

Erin leaves Friday. Already. 

Last night she came upstairs (we live in the same building) and sat on my rug and we talked for two hours. Today I went and did the same at her place while she packed.

Just now I wrote and printed up a letter for her to save and read at some future point, when she's having a difficult moment. She's been through so fucking much in the past year and a half. A huge breakup, the death of her dad, getting laid off due to Covid, and now she's heading back to Ohio to start a new job in a new line of work. 

















Pinned underneath the photo are a small cellophane sleeve and a little white envelope. On the back of the envelope I wrote

instructions:

1. gently remove butterfly*, fold, and place in cellophane sleeve. place in pink envelope for safe keeping

2. gently remove photo of friends** and place in white envelope. place in pink envelope for safe keeping 

3. wait until you're having a bad day and need a boost

4. open and read letter


* some things change

** some things don't 

---

She bought a three bedroom house the payments for which will be 1/3 of what we pay in rent for our LA studios, so there'll be plenty of rugs for me to lay on when I go visit. 

But holy hell do I hate farewells.