18 nov 2013

it's almost been three weeks. the blogging is waning. what gives?

the story is the same as it ever was: i am trying to balance life and my artistic ambitions. my time is divided between work, sleep, exercise and loved ones. what i want to do least of all is cram blog posts with anecdotal mumbo-jumbo. i want quality!

as i'm trying to type this, mango (who turns 12 in about a week) is pawing at my belly, attempting to get me to move my laptop and give him a spot on top of my lap. mango's age prompts thoughts of my dearest first cat, the tabby fondly nicknamed "the butler" by my friend adrienne. she took care of monty on more than one occasion when i was out of town. and then, of course, my friend and former roommate kim actually helped me adopt him way back in 1998.

let me get nostalgic for just a moment here--it's so what i love to do (if you know me, it's very true). in 1998, i was living in san clemente. the first thing that i did upon having a place of my own--a two bedroom apartment that overlooked the 5 freeway and the beach, with killer views of the san clemente pier and catalina (on clear days) and hundreds of amazing sunsets--was adopt a cat. it was so easy back then! no one asked to call my landlord to see if i lived in a pet-friendly building. no one asked for references. no one asked much of anything that i can recall. i forked over some money, in partnership with kim, and this cute black and tan tabby with a spotted belly came home with me.

somewhere in my closet there is a picture of monty sleeping on my clock radio (or perhaps it's just a strong recollection i have of him)--he was such a wee thing who grew up to be quite the impressive dude. i loved that cat like no other. or, truly, each pet i've had i love a little bit differently. i think the same goes for people, too. we all arouse different emotions, touching each other in a specifically unique way. that's how i see it.

one of my favorite memories from that apartment took place on a pleasantly warm evening. the sun was setting, and i imagine one of us was grilling something on the propance-powered, vcr-sized hibachi grill that stood 5 inches or so above the ground. monty was sitting on a stool by the kitchen. i was in the vicinity and suddenly monty was out on the balcony. as i took in the scene, my brain put the scene together: monty leapt off of the stool with such strength as to knock it to the ground. the "thud" of the wooden stool on the floor startled him so much that he ran with incredible force through the (somewhat decrepit) screen door. he effortlessly tore a whole through the mesh and left kim and me in stitches. it's one of the funniest things i've ever seen an animal do.

these furry beasts that touch our lives for the briefest of moments, in tandem with the limited time we enjoy here on earth--they really do something special. for me, it's cats. what would i do? where would i be? without them, i think i might sometimes lose my way. 


17 nov 2013

it's been extraordinarily difficult to let go of my brief, spontaneous love affair with "breaking bad."

recently, while walking toward a restaurant for lunch with a friend, i exclaimed, "look--it's jesse!" this was due to the fact that the young man with blonde hair was wearing a black hoodie and a couple days worth of scruff on his face.

this week's videos that i have stumbled on include jimmy fallon:

and mythbusters (gag reel here, but the full episode is out there, too). and oh! there are blooper reels. there are prolific amounts of pop culture references that will be forever impacted by this show. i jumped on the bandwagon late in the game, and the amount of material that is out there highlights the fact that this show was a national phenomenon.

thank you, breaking bad, for making me obsessed with tv for a short while. however, this girl really needs to get back to reading books. and writing.


13 nov 2013

it's a three-day work week for me. i should be gung-ho, but instead there's this feeling gnawing at my brain. it took me an hour to get home. then i sat in my car for another 20 minutes, unmoving, staring at my phone.

dinner was a quick turn-around as i reheated homemade lentil soup and quinoa for dinner. i talked to my sister for a while, enjoying the rare opportunity to chat at length about our lives and various happenings. i caught up with my roommate, too. then claire danes was on tv in "brokedown palace," so i watched that for a while.

my hat's off to writers who write for a living. these days i'm up at 5:30 am and i analyze for 9 hours. today, i don't have anything left to give. tonight, i'm going to bed on time. here's some adorable kitten photos*.

* here's the link from the article to ben torode's getty images page. because the internet NEEDS MOAR KITTENS.


12 nov 2013

{spoiler potential is high. i'm allowing myself several minutes to write and i'm not going to be worrying over what details spill out. you've been properly advised.}

i realize that i've watched a number of television series from top to bottom: twin peaks, x-files, alias, six feet under, lost, and most recently: breaking bad. i concluded my 2-3 months* of breaking bad on sunday and i have no idea where to even begin.

on september 29, while i was still working my way through season 2, my friend vicki updated her facebook status to read:
As of a week ago this past Friday, I was a Breaking Bad virgin. I have now watched 61 episodes in a little over a week and am just a bit psychologically damaged by the rabbit hole I tumbled down. I now understand why [my friends] crave articles about cute, fuzzy animals to combat the darkness. For the record, my husband has requested the following:

That I stop ending my sentences with "bitch."
That I no longer greet him with the phrases "Wanna cook?", "I am the danger," or "Say my name."
That I not repeatedly shout "Shut up!" when he's talking to me.
That I stop suspecting ricin poisoning when I come down with any sickness.

I am making some headway in my PBBSD (that's post Breaking Bad stress disorder for those not in the fold). I cleaned two bathrooms this week and only hid a burner cell in one of the toilet tanks and I downgraded from hiding my cash in a barrel in the backyard to just stashing it in our crawlspace. Any and all donations to help me in my fight against PBBSD can be sent to SaveVicki[...]dotcom. Thank you.

Now let's finish this. Bitch.
i found this tremendously funny and i don't even think i was at the ricin part of the story at the time. i had officially drunk the kool-aid, however, and i was in. it wasn't without some difficulty, however. one harrowing episode (season 2, episode 6 : "peekaboo") absolutely crushed me. i could barely sleep that night, horrible images that jesse saw still reeling in my head.

i have a soft heart for jesse. i hope against hope that he made it in the end (the unspoken ellipses that we are left with at the close of the show). he lost so much and while he is far from being a good guy, the show's writers did an excellent job at giving the audience many endearing qualities.

also, i just learned there is a spinoff in the works for saul goodman. i can only hope that it is more successful than the lone gunmen, but i don't think i'll be holding my breath anytime soon: only time will tell. you better believe that i'll be watching.

this is the part where i feel like apologizing: after all, my writing doesn't do the show justice, there's so much more that i could say, blah blah blah. but you and i just need to get over that bit: i'm not writing to win the pulitzer anytime soon.

watch breaking bad, if you haven't already. additional quality writing about the show may be found here and here.

*please note that i did have a false start trying to watch the show about 2 years ago. i couldn't get into it at that time. i think i only made it through two episodes. maybe three. times change!


11 nov 2013

today is veterans day.

my father served in vietnam. save for a few racks of kodak slides, he doesn't talk about his experience there. i don't know if he's ever gotten comfortable with what happened so that he can talk about it, and it seems to be one of those things you simply don't ask about. the slides are beautiful. they show a tropical, lush environment with beautiful trees with smooth green leaves. once in a while there is a picture of my dad working on some radio equipment. they don't show any of the horrors that i only imagine he experienced while he was there. i've never asked him if he changed his mind afterwards, or if he still thought it was worth fighting for. say what you want based off of the history books, but the people who were in it are the ones i look to as authorities on that subject matter. i'm not speaking of war in general, i'm looking at that one specifically. i think there is something unique about it.

but what do i know? i'm a poorly-read historian who is only now coming to have some semblance of political interest. i open my eyes a little here and there, and i'm having a hard time believing what i'm seeing. i'm not even speaking along party lines here--forget that for a moment. our knowledge about what is going on in the world is only as good as our source(s) of information, and the media is a business just like most institutions these days. we all have out jobs to do: what do they have to do to get paid?

while i'm unprepared to debate what's truth or fiction, i can speak directly from personal experience. i have grown up in a bubble. my part of the world, southern california, and my direct history is that of an individual who often doesn't recognize how good she has it. there are hardships i will never know. i've been irresponsible. i've had a life full of first world problems, where difficulty means i have to budget for a new set of tires for my 5-year-old car because i am commuting more now ever since i got a promotion at the bank, the one that's been my employer for almost twelve years come january. poor me.

i have to work to relate to the difficulties. i don't say this to be flip, but the devastation from natural disasters, from hurricane katrina through typhoon haiyan, i don't truly know the first thing about them and how can i ever? i empathize, i donate to the red cross, and then i take the warm clothes out of the dryer and fold them. why? because there are horrible, awful truths in this world and if i stop to take them in at length, if i absorb their weight, then my disposition is such that i would not even want to get up in the morning.

how do you handle the dissonance between your life and the lives that struggle around the globe? what is your vehicle of usefulness? how do you educate yourself? i read, but for pete's sake, what is real? fox news? russell brand? conspiracy theorists? the bbc? most of the days i seek out the truth i end up running away because i simply can't figure out who to trust.


10 nov 2013

when i consider the amount of music i listen to and the rarity with which i share my explorations, i understand how my previous post may have fallen flat on some levels. initially i posted a link to an official video by junip. i watched the video half a day later: what. the. ...?

i grew up during the dawn of mtv in a house that never had cable television. friends would be all, "have you seen the new video for ____?" and my reply would inevitably be, "...." i never appreciated the merging of art forms, and posting the video link for junip's "the line of fire" is a perfect example of my oblivion to how bizarre these productions can become (it is now replaced by a soundcloud link, which is still slightly distracting if you watch the animation throughout the playback).

what videos have i watched that i have enjoyed? well, ok go has produced a couple of them.

what i like about these videos is the whimsy and simplicity. i understand that they may be slightly gimmicky--the second video what used in a car commercial--but unlike the video i originally posted yesterday, there is nothing on screen to spoil or detract from the song. it's the band, they are having fun, and you still get the unspoiled song. soap operas are distracting.

in terms of artistic renderings that i have seen which are enormously successful, i would say that gotye truly hit the mark for me with these two:

the videos fit the songs. the animation, the insertion of drama, it enhances the pathos rather than pushing me away from the music and into some ridiculous story.

i detect a pattern here...and maybe this is because i missed the whole mtv heyday and am dependent on internet wanderings and social media postings from friends. every video i like involves the band in some way. in case you weren't sure, here are a few more good ones to round out the bunch:

visual interpretation: it it more appealing when it supports the music. but hey, maybe i've lived the sheltered life and i'm missing out on something that is more successful. in fact, i'm sure i am. i know for a fact michel gondry has directed some fantastic videos for the likes of bjork, beck, and daft punk. have i simply gotten to that crotchety age where that sort of approach to art has lost its appeal to me?

so i ask the reader: enlightened me. give me a good song, a creative "official" video, and help me know that modern music and advancements in cinematic artistry haven't left each other at the alter.


08 nov 2013

15 minutes. that's all i can manage tonight. i woke up at 4:30 today and couldn't fall back asleep. my alarm sang an hour later and i've been going full boar (is that the proper expression--i don't even have time to google it for verification. or maybe i did and i'm just stuck in these parentheses.) ever since.

after work i arranged the rest of my evening, ran a couple of errands, remembered to drop off some supplies that were purchased for a volunteer gig, grabbed dinner on the go and met up with old friends for a couple hours of laughs comparable to the gang at comedy sportz. a good night.

but then it was time for the driving home, the sentimental music, the replaying of the weight of certain conversations amidst the lighthearted entertainment, the moody fog gathering heavily around the street lamps and the fat-crescent-almost-half-moon creeping between clouds when i drove by the high school that four of us graduated from.

i've lived in southern california for what feels like a long time. there are things that i miss from those days when we were teenagers. but at the same time, i wonder how much i've really, truly changed? from those days of being a marching band geek, a self-proclaimed social butterfly (i enjoyed visiting different groups of friends around campus at lunch time), awkwardly sporting oversized flannels and .... it was a long time ago, and yet it wasn't. all these experiences we go through together, the collective of humanity and then there's my small niche in the world.

so, what i'm saying is this: i'm glad to know you.


07 nov 2013

most of you know my passion for music. when i hear something that resonates with me, the words in me flounder around. much of the time i don't know how to tell you why i love this song or that. to take words--words which i love--and use those to describe such evocative sounds as they swim though my head and my heart...!

junip is a new discovery for me. and, how fitting that the song linked below is also featured on the breaking bad soundtrack. two more episodes to go and my heart is getting broken every 5 minutes it seems. it's like a slow motion suicide, watching the plot unfold and wrap up. very much worth watching. i don't know if i've ever been moved so steadily by a "television show," and that description hardly seems sufficient. but, back to music.

i would swear i have heard junip prior to last month. was a song featured in garden state? did my friend erin put it on a mix? 

i like how the keyboards and the vocals crowd together in the mix. his voice is soothing and haunting at once. 

what recent discovery is tickling your fancy these days?


06 nov 2013

My Sister is My Hero

On Monday, she told me she was one of 14 people laid off by her employer. 
Today she announced that she starts her new job on Monday. 
She hadn't even filed for unemployment. 

my sister and i didn't get along while we were growing up. she is six years older than me. we had issues.

all of that changed when our parents moved out of state. i was about 20 at the time. my sister was there for me countless times--long before we developed a keen friendship with each other. she helped me move  on an emergency basis when i had the flu. she took me under her wing when there weren't many people around who could help me.

these days we get along better than i ever dreamed we would. life keeps each of us so busy, and i don't see her nearly as much as i would like to, but i really look up to her. she has a beautiful family and she tirelessly cares for them and gives herself to them. she loves her husband and her kids with all her heart. she's not the perfect mom or wife, but those roles have little to do with perfection anyhow.

this little blurb is only the tip of the iceberg of words, thoughts, and memories that i hold in my heart when i think about my big sister. she has taught me more than she knows, and i am eternally grateful that she cares for me as a friend and as a sister. thank you, heather, for being a part of my life and inviting me into yours, even though i came after you with a screwdriver that time when were were kids and even though i moved into your room when you moved out of our parent's house and even though i made you laugh that one time you were buzzed and getting your blood pressure checked at the grocery store at 10 o'clock at night. your blood pressure was higher than ever!

i love you, sis.


05 nov 2013

in response to my objection to blogging due to a cold, a great friend of mine once wrote, "if you have the energy to check facebook, you have the energy to write!"

i've been home from work all day. i have facebook-browsed, watched an episode of breaking bad (three more left!), slept, consumed cans of soup and boxes of crackers, and blown my nose countless times. it hasn't been pretty or fun, but i can't ignore her statement. i don't want to be sick--that job i was just writing about? i love that job. i want to be there, doing the work. not at home working on a bedsore. 

i am tired. i don't know what to write and i wanted to make this post reflect a continual upswing in my growth as a writer. as a person. blogging, for me, can be a little neurotic. writing off the cuff, editing a bit as i go (and sometimes a day later) means that i find some of my words troublesome or worrisome. 

for instance, did you understand that when i said i wasn't lucky when i got this job, that what i meant was that it was a culmination of efforts and not something as simple as "dumb luck"? and did it come across that i was grateful? i am lucky to have a job. i understand that, and for those hundred plus who also applied for it, some are unemployed, some have families to raise, some are more needy, more "deserving" than i am. i get that. i'm extraordinarily humbled to have this opportunity.

for everyone who has a story similar to mine, with a progression that shows they are on the upswing in life, there are likely an equal share who have been treading water for longer than i've been alive, or those with great potential who never see it fulfilled. people who, perhaps, "deserve" to have a break because life has handed them a raw deal since they were born (or for countless other reasons). so, in that sense, i am lucky. 

however, i worked hard to get here: harder than some, not as hard as others. 

so understand that when i write, i am never in a holier-than-thou stance with the rest of the world. i have much to learn still, and i will fight hard to live life fully regardless of a stuffy head or headache or aches & pains. 


03 nov 2013

in light of the fact that i solicited topics from my friends via facebook, i'll attempt to hit all those topics before i come up with one of my own during this month-long exercise. i'm hoping to improve the quality of my writing in the process. writing takes practice and, though i haven't forgotten how, it's a process that usually reveals a particular quality when it is finely tuned. most of me feels like it's sixth grade all over again and i'm trying to play "hot cross buns" on the recorder. i remember hearing my friend emily play the recorder in high school: i had no idea it could sound so beautiful.

the past several years of my life, post-divorce, brought ups and downs galore: financial, residential, relational (familial/romantic/non-romantic), educational, and career-related. i've imagined certain goals along the way, formulated a plan, walked down the path...

i have yet to see it coming.

i've been in banking for 11 years and 10 months. when i first started with the bank, it was because i needed a job with health insurance benefits. little did i know that this would end up being a career. in fact, i'm almost unwilling to call the first 11 years and 9 months a career because i sort of feel i've been wiggling around at the same level for most of that time. it's not the truth, but i worked in the same environment (retail banking) for a long time and some days/weeks/months i really wondered if i would ever make it out (read that as "make it on to something more challenging and more financially viable."). the first onset of wanting out was upon finishing my bachelor's degree in 2008. a few interviews and a chat with the regional manager later, i got a leg up. i remained at that step for about 4 years, during which i interviewed for advancement opportunities at the retail level (management), at the corporate level (training & development), totaled my car, learned to drive stick, and even joined toastmasters for a couple years. then one day in april 2011, i served on a jury and decided i wanted to transition to the legal field. after two years in night school, i earned my paralegal certificate back in june. unexpected but timely connections led to an unpaid saturday internship with a law firm that tailored its services to low-income individuals. i had four interviews--one with the bank's legal department which entailed four back-to-back interviews with five different people for roughly three hours--and my conclusion at the end of it was that i had it really good where i was at, benefits-wise, and why couldn't i advance somewhere within the bank?

the next part happened very quickly. i spotted The Job, applied, and i reached out to a coworker for contacts within the department so that i could understand the job from a real-world perspective as job descriptions can be difficult to wade through. (i previously utilized this contact to connect with someone in the legal department prior to that interview--a step i highly recommend you take whenever possible.) i talked to all of those people, and one person asked for my resume, promising to get it in front of the manager. all i wanted, all i had learned to fight for, was the opportunity to interview. i had stopped counting on a job offer at this point. but interviews, those were pretty cool. meet new people, learn new things, practice for the next interview opportunity. then, i got a phone interview with the recruiter! she loved me. i learned that there had been over 160 applicants for this position, and there were 4 openings within the department. i moved forward to an in-person interview. a week passed when i got the email from the recruiter. the email that rattled my cage and brought tears to my eyes because They were ready to extend an offer.

i don't know how to encourage you to keep going when it seems like your life is taking too long to develop. i have amazing friends and family. i have an inner fortitude that refuses to quit. don't get me wrong--that fortitude has been M.I.A. more than once in the past 6 years. but i allowed for flexibility as the circumstances shifted along the way. was i lucky? no. i was fortunate. i realize now: i landed my dream job. all the effort and all the struggle culminated in this moment. it was truly worth it*.

(*guess what, i'm not done! there's still more to this journey!)


02 nov 2013

at the behest of a friend, because i aim to keep things interesting as i venture into a month-long daily blogging habit, i am going to talk about daylight savings time. feel free to weigh in on your opinions in the comments box.

i didn't know anything about the history of daylight savings time before i researched it this morning, reading articles from time and national geographic, and skimming through a third article from quartz, an unfamiliar site which also ranked highly in my google query. the last article further argued for time zone reform in the US, and it's a little early for me to take that on. so, daylight savings time... 

from what i read, the goal of daylight savings time is to conserve energy and promote activity. those are some very pleasant, capitalist ideals. the concept that we should take advantage of the daylight hours is nice and all, but considering how my friend in gothenburg lives her life with considerably abbreviated daylight hours, i feel i have nothing to complain about. (they do practice daylight savings in sweden, by the way.) and, as the articles i read seem to decry the use of daylight savings though they largely aimed to present the information from a neutral perspective, those encouraged my leanings. in this modern age, daylight savings time simply feels indulgent. 

my direct experience, as the extended daylight savings period comes to a close, is that it has been challenging to get up early for work. i wake at 5:30am these days, as it is necessary for me to get on the road around 6:30am in order to have a fairly peaceable commute. it is not even the "butt-crack of dawn," at that hour. it is pitch black. my body does not want to move, even if i do know what is best for me. the slight chill in the air finds my cats snuggling right up against me, stealing my body heat and my will to leave the comfort of my covers. now that time is going to be back to normal, i can wake up more easily. frankly, that appeals to me. 


01 nov 2013

a recent conversation, captured in bright blurts of 140 characters or less, got me thinking about writing again.

those emails from nanowrimo, because they still have my address on record from previously failed attempts at novel-writing, got me thinking about writing again.

a recent post about writing by a good friend of mind, because she is brilliantly outspoken, critical, and thoughtful, got me thinking about writing again.

another friend's sketches, an homage to her current state of being newly transplanted into new york city, got me thinking about writing again.

=== === ===

i think sometimes i get stuck thinking about why life is this way or that way, or what someone will think of me based on what i write. there are several ways of attacking this line of reasoning.

i'm not that important. not as important as my ego certainly supposes that i am. what is it about human nature that constantly suspects it is being watched? i've seen the stats on this deflated blog. and i recently clicked on a reference for a supposed referral site that led to boobs. thanks, internet. if i wanted porn, i know there is plenty to be had. i'll take fall foliage over central park for $1000, alex.

i am being judged--it's true. but visitors to this site can be divided into two main categories: friends/family/acquaintances & strangers. the first group, the familiars, know me to varying degrees. they either like me or they don't. if they don't, they probably won't visit this site. 

if they fall into the subcategory of "used to know me," and we're estranged, then there's probably a reason for that too. they don't have to read this site and i don't have to keep curbing this blog for their...protection? 

what i must remember is that, if someone wants to know me, they will ask questions. if they don't ask questions, they will simply draw their own conclusions based on their personal life experiences. i have no control over that approach, so why do i let that hinder the writing i want to do? i shouldn't. so i won't.
and strangers? well, yeah. this is the world wide web. i'm ok with that. we're all a little strange to each other. that's part of what makes this world beautiful.

bottom line: i'm thinking about writing again. i won't be joining nanowrimo this month, but how about a blog post a day for the month of november to get the dust of the gears? i'll give it a try.