31 October 2005

blargh- or was that blog?

Well, the site overhaul is coming along, but the mix of blogger tags with regular html and my basic knowledge of both is making it more complicated than I'd hoped. I've been looking at the source code of some other blogs, but I'm still not clear on how to put a banner of my own across the top. I think I just need to figure out which blogger tags need to get deleted. I thought I had it figured out, but it wasn't working so I think I'll come back to it fresh later.

Of course, if anyone just wants to tell me how to do this... well, that would rock.

Happy Halloween!

Spawn of the ladybug

My windows are crawling with ladybugs today. I just counted nine, now ten. Their underbellies are more creepy than festive.

tip of the week- Medium

Sure, I've said it before, but now's your chance to catch up some if you weren't paying attention. Watch Medium. Halloween marathon tonight means 3 eps of goodness starting at 8 PM on NBC.

Not a great tip? Ok, elevate and apply pressure to cuts, and you know, put some disinfectant on it, and pick a bandage big enough to cover the wound.

Reaching? Sure. Perhaps the tips will become more sporadic...

29 October 2005

Closet thoughts

I've mentioned before that I adore closets, but don't care for my current closet. It's different now though. About a week ago, the lower right side got mostly emptied. The doors slide freely, the empty space beckons my boxes. (It does feel good, Rarity.)

The number of purses it had contained is astounding, at least to me. The left side is still harboring some. And my old typewriter appeared from beneath the clutter. I always loved that clack clack clack sound of real typewriters. The ink tape has surely dried out by now, but I may have to play with it just to hear that sound. Or dismantle it and build something out of the keys. It's strange now to think of all the hours spent filling out applications oh so carefully on that device. I'm greatly thankful for word processing and printers without perforated edges, but sometimes I miss more tactile methods. Not dot matrix printers though, tearing jammed pages out of those was a little too tactile.

28 October 2005


You know when you're looking for a pep talk, but then you get cock-punched* with tough love? That's how I feel right now. It's more frustrating because I was misunderstood. I want to say: See, here, this bit you say- I wasn't talking about that! The problem is that the typewriter of my mind keeps including disclaimers like: Not that it matters or it doesn't make much difference. On the one hand, if I were to protest without the disclaimer, I'd have to explain, and it's not really relevant anymore. On the other hand, if you say something doesn't really matter, why say it at all? The only way to get around it is to leave it alone, but I hate being misunderstood, particularly when someone perceives a statement as a dig about one thing when it's merely an observation about something else entirely.

Ironically, I started that email with this: I feel like an idiot, but my sense is that that will not abate unless I mush on.

How wrong I was.

*inaccurate, but conveys the sentiment better (blame Wil)

From my other life

Cutting gel, originally uploaded by nomad claire.

26 October 2005

The old days of Bravo

Does anyone else remember when Bravo was a fledgling cable channel that played indie films without ads? It wasn't that long ago. Inside the Actors Studio was in its early days, and the episodes lasted 75 minutes sans commercials.

They did have some corporate sponsorship; Mercedes or some other luxury car would have a long advertisement, but only between shows to fill in those time gaps. Then the regular ads came, breaking up all of their programming into the usual segments. Indie movies were relegated to "IFC Fridays" until they got replaced by classics shown during the "5 star cinema" block.

Then NBC bought Bravo. I'm an easy critic, and I loved Mystic Pizza 15 years ago, but 5 star cinema? A movie classic? I think not.

As much as I enjoy and do watch reruns of The West Wing, Bravo has become nothing more than a dumping ground for second-run shows from NBC with doses of reality tv, shows that rank things, and James Lipton thrown in for good measure.

Coming in second

According to Rarity, it snowed in Norway yesterday. Apparently it snowed here this morning: my parents say so, and there was some white stuff along the edge of the road near the bridge. I'm firmly in denial though.

25 October 2005

It's about bloody time

More than SIX weeks after it was mailed, my enlargements finally arrived. It's been longer than that though because they got lost in the mail for three weeks on the way out as well. Initially, I was heartbroken, and later frustrated by their loss.

The past couple days, I'd been thinking about them again, dismayed by the loss of the negatives but resigned to it. I asked myself what I'd been expecting when I sent them in the first place. I'd had some notion that these enlargements might provide clarity, purpose, or direction to my life; I'd been excited about making the largest enlargements of my work that I'd ever seen; and because I'd thought and felt that, I felt like that accounted for their loss. What did I really expect to change anyway? Could two 12"x18" photographs inspire me to do more than frame them? Their loss in the mail didn't seem to matter as much.

Mom's holler today was completely unexpected, yet not surprising; apparently I hadn't given up hope. "Claire! Come downstairs right now and open this tube that came for you." I was in the middle of saving a file and thought she was just excited it had arrived, but then she added, "It's wet!" I left the dialogue box open and went downstairs.

It would figure that our mail carrier would stuff the tube into the mailbox, leaving the end exposed in the pouring rain. One end of the tube was well soaked. I opened the other side and peered inside. Of course, everything was down at the wet end. I pulled out the paperwork and negatives, and then carefully slid the enlargements from the tube. Fortunately, nothing was ruined.

I unrolled the photos and took a quick look at them; they looked good but seemed small. Maybe they'll seem more impressive once they flatten out. I set them aside so I could put a strip of negative that had slipped out back in its envelope.

For a moment...

...I thought I heard my cell phone vibrating from off in my room, but then I realized it was just my dad snoring.

24 October 2005

A little mischief

It's customary in my family to thank whoever made or bought dinner every day. Dad had just bought us dinner out, so as we put on our seatbelts, Mom said, "Thank you for dinner, Tomas." For reasons too random too explain, sometimes his name will get... I was going to say Spanishized, but I suppose it's actually Latinized.

Her inflection on Tomas was so close that I couldn't resist: "Did you just say, 'Thank you for dinner, Dumbass?"

"No," she laughed, "That'd be quite a thank you, calling someone a dumbass."

"It did sort of sound like that's what you said," my Dad offered.

Mom and I started laughing harder, as she sputtered intermittent phrases of disbelief.

tip of the week- even better

If you missed Lucy Lawless battling locusts last spring, you've got another shot with this week's upcoming, similar creature feature. It's bound to be even more amusing because I just found out Vampire Bats is actually a sequel to Locusts. So if you want some guilty pleasure viewing with a Halloween twist, watch Vampire Bats on CBS, Sunday Oct. 30 at 9 PM.

23 October 2005

What are the odds?

My mom started telling me about a movie she was taping this afternoon, "Sandra Bullock and Liam Neeson are in it. It's from 2000, and I've never heard of it." She shuffled some newspaper pages to find the title.

"I just read about this movie the other day."

"Gun Shy," she stated.


She read the vague description of the film from the paper, something about an agent with a bad case of nerves and a nurse who helps him while he tries to bust a drug ring: definitely not the logline I encountered the other day which made it immediately clear it's a horrible film. Thanks to Merujo's post, I was spared from watching any part of that disaster.

22 October 2005

Struggling to do the wrong thing

"It won't kill you to go," Dad said.

"You're terrible, you know that?" I replied.


I rolled my eyes and said, "Just Monday you said, 'No one's going to make you go.'"

"Well, I can't make you do anything."

I sighed. "But you're trying to guilt trip me."

"No," he mused, "I'm just trying to cajole you into going."

Blog material crossed my mind as the one pro to going, but I quickly dismissed it.

The only reason for not going to our neighbor's house for drinks and dinner that I didn't voice is that I feel like the kid who was invited out of courtesy but isn't really expected to go. Considering my age it's not really valid, but I don't feel invested in living here at all. Always under the surface is the idea that at any moment, I may move, my life may radically change. (How it will without some concerted effort on my part is beyond me, but that's angst for another time.)

Our conversation turned to what he would say to explain my absence. I opted for vague and noncommittal, but he was right to point out that eventually some explanation would be needed. Ha, he's composing his email RSVP as I type.

"So are you going to go?" he just asked me.

I looked at him like he was crazy and said, "No." He's going with vague for now, i.e., we'll attend but Claire won't be able to make it.

Where was I? Right, reasons for later. I could tell he wasn't hip to even slight fabrication- hell, that's why they're going in the first place. It took little time for me to say that I didn't care what he said. Tell them I'm a hermit, a recluse. Tell them I just don't want to meet the neighbors, that I don't feel social because I'm not working. Tell them that I'm shy and find it very draining to be with a lot of people I don't know. All would be true.

Dad suggested that I could cut short the work and future plan inquiries with a series of nothings, but I pointed out that that wouldn't be sociable. In an effort not to be rude, I know how it will go: I will stammer through vagaries incoherently while my cheeks flush and then get offered lots of inapplicable advice.

A stroke of mischievous inspiration hit me: "Just tell them I can't go because I went off my medication." Dad laughed.

21 October 2005

Dagnabbit, Tomito!

It's been a few days since our neighbors invited everyone on our street over for dinner and drinks, so I've been getting more concerned that I would run into them without an excuse prepared. If you read the comments, you know that I was feeling relieved because my parents didn't want to go either.

So after lunch today, I asked if anyone had RSVP'ed yet, what the story was. No one had, but then my dad pulled a 180 and said, "If it was just up to me, I'd go."

"But you're the one who said, 'I've been afraid of something like this since they moved in,'" I argued.

"I have been, but now we have a decision to make."


Mom agreed the only way to get out of it would be to go out of town; anything else would be rude.


"No one's going to make you go," he had assured me on Monday, but now I'm not convinced. I reiterated that I do not want to attend.

I'm back to hoping they'll go, but I'll get to beg off.

Sometimes I really want to smack him upside the head though. Not because of this specifically, but because he has a bad habit of flip-flopping his statements. He does it often, but it still surprises me each time. At least I've gotten better at calling him on it to make him more aware that he does it. I suppose what makes it remain surprising to me is that it will be a switch from no to yes, from I'm certain of this to I don't know: his statements oppose themselves. No wonder I equivocate as much as I do. Dammit.

20 October 2005

The New Desktop

I switched my desktop to this background a couple days ago, and I'm finding it very soothing. Today it hit me: it could be my autobiography.

18 October 2005

I have an underwear drawer!

Never has a chest of drawers brought me so much happiness. Where has my underwear been all this time, you may ask. Well, you'd probably ask: where has your underwear been all this time? In an extra laundry basket with my socks or stuffed behind a pile of t-shirts either on a chair or a printer box.

The chest arrived with the rest of my stuff from storage, and it seemed ridiculous to put it back in storage when it's something I could really use. My room is looking more mismatched all the time, but it's getting more functional for me which is good.

I'm going to stuff things in drawers now.

17 October 2005

The Neighbors Know My Name

I met the mom once a year ago, and I hung out with their teenage son for an hour last winter when he was locked out. I sometimes remember the older sister's name, and the father must be that guy always doing yard work though I may be confusing him with their landscaper.

I wave at their cars and say hey to the son on occasion if we're both outside and within twenty feet of each other. If he's with friends I'll just give the I-acknowledge-you nod. This suits me well.

Unfortunately, when I pulled out the mail today, there was a card addressed to my parents and me. We've been invited to meet the neighbors along with the rest of the street. Drinks and Dinner. The date is two weeks from now, and I'm hard pressed to think what excuse I could possibly have not to go at this point.

I know, you're thinking it's very nice of them, and it is, but I dislike meeting new people, especially many at once. The thought of a couple hours of "So, what do you do for a living?" either to a sizeable audience or to small groups repeatedly makes me feel ill. I'm unemployed, I live at home, I have no great plans in the works, and instead of writing The Great American Novel, I blog. This is not likely to put me in a festive or chatty mood.

And why dinner? That just adds to the pressure by having to like the food and not spill any of it.

I could come down with something the day before, but I'd rather say no upfront instead of jerking them around on the RSVP. If my parents go, that may be enough. We'd be represented, but I wouldn't be stuck either in silence or embarrassment for a whole evening. Besides, there's not anyone to meet who's my age; all the adults are older and married. The ones closest to my age are involved in race car driving; they rev their engines loudly at every opportunity and generally ignore friendly waves when they drive by, so they don't have to feel badly about being so obnoxious. I wouldn't be surprised if they were a motivating force behind this shindig. It's harder to be inconsiderate to people you know.

Am I guilty of the same thing? Not exactly. I wave and smile at all the cars and people on our street and respond if spoken to. I'm just shy and reclusive. I really don't want to get guilt-tripped into going.

tip of the week- sore throats

Temperatures are cooling down and the sick season is coming on, so if you've got a sore throat, gargle with warm salt water. It helps, really.

Of course, if you're really feeling sick, go to a doctor. And don't go all over hell and creation spreading your germs. Thanks.

16 October 2005

I confess

Any cool creds I might've gained with my blues imports, I just blew by importing tracks from this cd. I'm listening to track 4 now and it includes battle sounds from the movie.

Pain, Anguish, Longing... Yes, the Blues

I'm so glad I didn't get rid of these blues cds years ago. Actually, I think I tried to sell them once, but they would only give me 1¢ a piece for them, so I just kept them.

John Lee Hooker, Etta James, Muddy Waters, Elmore James, Little Milton, Little Walter, and more. All passionate performers.

I think somewhere along the line I started to think the blues would bring me down. It is something I have to be in the mood for, but looking into the blackness outside and hearing the wind roar, the aggressive strains feel just right.

Not just wheelies anymore

This didn't exist when I was a kid. Heck, we didn't even wear helmets back then.

I was channel surfing while having a bite to eat and came across the BMX Dirt portion of the Dew Action Sports Tour. Three guys on BMX bikes taking turns dropping from a high platform onto a dirt slope to get momentum to go up a really steep slope and then down and up again, but doing backflips, forward flips, 720 degree spins, and tricks where they let go of their bikes entirely in mid-air.

This is some crazy, but seriously impressive, athleticism.

15 October 2005

I thought it would be harder...

(Mom and Dad, if you've stumbled on this address, please skip this.)

...going through this box of your letters. I ignored it for a long time: its mass a testament to what we once had. But now it's just another box, more cumbersome than nostalgic. The moment I gave myself permission to throw out any letters I didn't want to keep without offering to return them to you, it became easy.

You may offer me mine again someday, and I'll probably take them; but if you ask for yours in exchange, I won't apologize for having chucked the ones I could've returned. You'll understand why.

I can't quite bring myself to toss the contents of the box sight unseen, so I've been reading them. Actually, I started with the intent to reread them all, but soon realized there was so little of interest to me now that I've just been skimming. We used legal pads and frequently wrote 20 page letters after all, and it's a sizeable box. The postcards I've set aside, I have mixed feelings about, but the growing pile of discards puts me at ease.

Audblog #14

this is an audio post - click to play
(run time 0:30)

Send me into hyperspace...

Audblog #13

this is an audio post - click to play
(run time 0:40)
Only a couple days of freedom left, so I'm soaking it up while I can.

14 October 2005

Just like riding a bike tricycle again

Treble clef remains firmly fixed in my mind, as I suppose it should be after seven years of sax playing even if those seven years seem ages ago now. If only I'd learned bass clef as well back then.

The keyboard Nate gave me still works, and my piano skills have not greatly deteriorated which I suppose means that they were never that advanced before. Still, it's reassuring to be able to play a few pieces even if they are tremendously simple. Maybe I can get the hang of this...

If I learn bass clef, and chords in musical notation, and convince my left hand to do things independently of my right...

13 October 2005

Word verification

It's like a mini typing test. But in a good way.


Zzzz, originally uploaded by nomad claire.

12 October 2005


The trees are swinging hard today, still plenty of leaves to rustle though they're a mix of yellow, pale green, and speckled brown. The sky is white with subtle grey cloud masses drifting through with sporadic rain.

I was up really late talking to a friend, first on cells, then landlines, and then via computer. All these ways to keep in touch even though we're thousands of miles apart that we hadn't made use of for months. When he mentioned a family illness I knew nothing about, he surmised that we hadn't talked since last year. I was appalled by the idea and guessed last spring. Reconsidering the timeline he described, today I know the last day I talked to him: his birthday in February. I don't have to guess whether or not I remembered to call him, it's just something I would have done.

He had so much news, a lot of it compiling to make this a difficult year. I felt badly that I hadn't called more often.

Being far away, I've found that people expect bigger news when we talk. Little has changed for me in the past year, and I feel like I've let them down when I talk to them. One friend's disappointment I fear so much, I can't bring myself to call her. Not because her disappointment would be some murky fog, rather it would be an aggressive demand for change I don't feel ready for.

Despite my instincts for self-preservation, I still want to know what's going on with them, so I try to check in every few months. Generally that's enough: if you ignore the day to day, not much changes for many people over the course of a few months. But so much had happened to him, and he hadn't called to tell me about any of it. He's a very balanced guy with a lot of people in his life, so I doubt my support was missed; it just reminded me how far away I am. I miss you O.

11 October 2005

Bachelor Chow

I usually avoid the grocery store like the plague, but I actually enjoyed it this afternoon. With no one else to consider, deciding what to eat for the next few days became delightfully simple. It was just like old times: bananas, baby carrots, grillers (not because I'm vegetarian but because I don't like handling raw meat), frenchbread pepperoni pizza, potato skins with cheese and bacon, and some Maruchan ramen for lunch.

The cashier was even really positive, friendly, and sweet. His multiple ear, lip, and eyebrow piercings made me smile. I'll have to make sure I get him the next time I'm in.

I can move!

After yesterday's stupid behavior, I feared today would be full of sharp, stabbing back pain, the sort that truly makes you comprehend what a person means when she says she's thrown out her back. In my desire to unpack a box of books, I leaned into the closet (not this closet) to retrieve it. I'd done this once before months ago to see what was in the box and had strained my back then. Last night, I was careful, but I felt that familiar mild strain that betokens the arrival of agony in subsequent hours or after a night's sleep. Not again!

After unloading the box, I stretched. And then stretched some more. I rested it on the floor for a bit, took some advil, and made sure I kept it warm so it wouldn't seize up. Success! It still feels mildly overworked today, but it's not painful. I'm stoked.

10 October 2005

Another Monday, another tip

For the month of October, clicks at The Breast Cancer Site will be tripled.

Here's the deal:
"Your click on the "Fund Free Mammograms" button helps fund free mammograms, paid for by site sponsors whose ads appear after you click and provided to women in need through the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Foundation to low-income, inner-city and minority women, whose awareness of breast cancer and opportunity for help is often limited."
Your click is free and does not require any obligation or registration from you. The site is set up so that you can only click once a day (or once per IP address). During October, the sponsors will treat each single click as if it is three clicks increasing the amount they will donate.

Snopes.com says the site is legit.

For future reference, the link to The Breast Cancer Site is in my sidebar as "Help fund free mammograms."

Go click!

09 October 2005

Erosion, in real time

At the bottom of my street separating all the houses from the main road is a small bridge over a creek. The bridge is nothing fancy; except for guard rails on either side, it looks just like the rest of the road. Three metal culverts let water pass below it. All summer long the creek has been very low, a meager trickle with barely enough water for little fish to navigate between all the rocks.

When I looked out the window today, the creek had risen far enough up the banks that I could easily see the muddy waters raging from the house. Nine inches of rain in one day will do that. Some orange traffic cones were set by the edge of the bridge, and it looked like the guard rail was further back from the road than usual, as if it had been forced back by all the water. If the upstream openings to the culverts get blocked by debris, the road will flood.

Late last night there were several trucks with flashing lights on the other side of the bridge with men out working. The road wasn't flooded at the time, but it probably had been until they arrived.

I walked down to the creek to get a better look. The guard rail hadn't moved, the edge of the road collapsed. There's a gap ranging from one to two feet between the downstream rail and the road. The safety cones mark the road's new edge. I think I'll stick to driving down the middle for the time being.

08 October 2005


Well that's what I get for having my blog address as my signature on emails. It was exactly at the moment I clicked send that I realized I hadn't deleted it from my reply to my dad's email. Of course the internet wasn't being wonky at all, so it sent it right off. Damn.

With luck, it'll be buried below his message and mine before that, and he won't even see it.

On the other hand if you do Dad, just do me a favor and don't read my blog. Mom often says I must have lots of fodder for writing by living here and that I should write about it, but she always makes a point of saying she doesn't want to read it. Please follow her example.

It's like shopping, but much better...

...because I don't even have to leave my garage.

I stood staring at the boxes and crates that I'd shifted to the other side of the garage yesterday wondering where to begin. I was able to do some basic sorting yesterday taking advantage of boxes that were at least briefly labeled as well as those that contained the things pictured on the boxes.

I unpacked a box with two lamps I knew I wanted to get rid of and was impressed by the care I'd packed them with. Crumpled newspaper, shredded documents, and bubble wrap filled the box. Though the container had gotten crushed a bit (which seems to be the case of all the boxes labeled "fragile"), the lamps and even the lightbulbs were still intact. The lampshades, in another slightly crushed box, were also fine. Emptying just two large boxes felt great. Progress.

After staring down the rest of the pile for a while, I cut open the box vaguely labeled "& shoes." I knew of two pairs I'd put in storage, but had forgotten about two other pairs. And one of the pairs was not actually the same set of shoes I'd been picturing: they were better, which is timely because the glue holding the soles of my Skechers together is giving way.

Then I decided I should see how the clothes in my dresser had fared. I pulled out an armful of linen, silk, and rayon pieces that had all survived well, a few wrinkles, but nothing to worry about. No, I wouldn't normally put my best clothes in storage; when I originally packed, I had only expected all my stuff to be stored for a max of two months, and I could only fit so much in my car. What I love is that I found two fantastic shirts I'd forgotten I owned. Every box has a little surprise for me, and I'm enjoying the rediscovery.

07 October 2005

Nate Cushman (part 2 of 2)

Part 1

Nate and I never did play tennis together. About a half hour after I got home, he called me. He had been at the same tennis courts with the commercial shoot, and somehow we'd missed one another. Eventually he had given up too, so he drove home to Topanga.

"Would you still like to have lunch? I totally understand if you don't want to drive back down here. I could drive up there," I offered.

"There's not really anywhere to eat around here. I don't mind driving back down. Where would you like to go?" Nate asked.

I changed into my nicer shirt in case it was a date and met him at Fred 62. We lingered, talking, at our sidewalk table for a couple of hours. For me it was intense: I was revealing too much about myself because I was nervous, he was listening attentively (or appearing to, AJ), and his smile urged me to elaborate more. He was relaxed and had insightful things to say based on his experiences which made him seem older (he was 7 or 8 years older) and much more mature than me.

I still wasn't sure if we were on a date or not. He insisted on paying for me, but kept his distance as we walked to our cars. We agreed we should try to meet up for a match another time, but left it open.

When a few days had passed and I still hadn't heard from him, Jaye was ready to concede that my outing might not have been a date after all. I was actually a little relieved because I didn't feel like I was emotionally ready for someone like him.

A week later he called to talk shop; I welcomed the return to the friendship Jaye had made me suspect of and easily slid back into the role of advisor. Film production was an arena in which I had more training and experience than him: it put me back on familiar, controllable ground. Every few months he'd call for some technical advice and we'd catch up by phone.

A year and a half went by. I'd been looking for an apartment for several months and had finally found one and started moving in. I bought a fridge and had it delivered, and then the people at the rental company changed their minds and the whole deal fell through. For that and additional reasons too lengthy and tangential to this story, I snapped and decided to leave LA the next week. I emailed everyone I knew in town that I was leaving, but I didn't have Nate's address at the time. If he hadn't called to ask me an equipment question that week, I would've missed him.

When I think of that week, I remember him as the only person who freely offered to help however he could and meant it. He drove down from Topanga to help me get the refrigerator I'd bought for the lost apartment out, and then followed me to Burbank to help me deliver it to the guy I'd sold it to. He was also very gracious when I didn't have time to hang out afterwards because I was leaving the next day and still had packing to do. We stood in the street between our double-parked vehicles to say goodbye.

"Do you think you'll have any space left in your car after you've packed it?" Nate asked.

I wasn't sure what he was getting at and said, "I'm planning to see out of my rear windshield this time."

"You can fit one more box, right?"

"I guess...why?"

"I have a going away present for you," he replied.

"Oh, thank you."

"Now if it's too big or you don't think you'll use it, tell me. Don't take it unless you're going to use it."


Nate pulled a long, narrow box out of his car. It was a long keyboard in its original box.

"Oh my god," I exclaimed. In one of our conversations I'd mentioned that one of my life's desires was to learn to play piano, and he'd remembered. "I really appreciate it, but I can't take that."

"I'm not very good, so I don't have the patience for it. It's just been sitting in the box. An instrument should be played," he coaxed. "I'm not using it, really. If you don't take it, I'll end up selling it."

"Are you sure you wouldn't rather sell it?"

"Yeah. I'd rather give it to you. IF you're going to learn to play it." He looked at me seriously and asked, "So, do you want it?"

"Yes," I exclaimed with a big grin.

"Will it fit in your car?"

"I'll make it fit," I replied quickly so he wouldn't change his mind. He laughed and smiled.

Over a week later when I opened the box in my new home, I discovered that he'd slipped in a card and piano instruction book. What he wrote there and in subsequent emails made me feel as though I was catching a glimpse of how he viewed me: far more talented, inspiring, and life changing to those I encounter than I would ever consider myself to be.

He cancelled his email address a few months later because he was leaving LA, and last fall I finally killed my old email address, the one he had, because it got nothing but spam. Maybe Nate was meant only to be a passing muse in my life, most effective because he didn't know me all that well, but I hope that's not true.

If you're reading this Nate, your box was delivered from storage yesterday. I admit I haven't played it in three years: I'm not as good as the person you thought I was. I did learn some chords and simple pieces, but I got frustrated because I missed my guitar, so I bought a replacement and focused on that for a spell. I'm still unsettled in most of the same things, but I'm not as bothered by it as I used to be.

I do feel badly that I haven't lived up to my promise, but I don't think I could give up that box because it reminds me of you and a version of myself I'd like to become. I will try again.

If you happen across this, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Seven words I despise

"I hate to tell you this, but..."

If I hear this one more time today, I may throttle someone. It's a good thing my parents are heading off to visit relatives tomorrow. Last night at dinner, it occurred to me that those seven words constitute one of my mom's favorite things to say. The subtext is essentially the reverse of the stated sentiment: here is a joyous opportunity for me to tell you you're wrong, real life isn't like that, or you should have done things differently.

(fyi: some grossness ahead, so if you're squeamish, you might want to skip down a paragraph.)

Today did not begin well. A combination of my sinuses and the seasonal shift has left me dry-heaving every morning when I brush my teeth. The minty tang loosens the drainage and makes me gag. This morning was worse; I thought I might actually throw up. For a moment I considered it thinking I might feel better afterwards, but the nausea waned and I was able to finish brushing my teeth.

I went back to my room to grab something to wear before getting into the shower when my Dad appeared in the doorway saying, "It's one of those days." Some air bubbles in the toilet downstairs had him concerned that my stuff in the garage was below the drainage pipe. It had just been delivered yesterday, and I was furious. Moving it all would be a serious hassle; some of the items are so heavy I'm not sure we can move them even with a handcart.

"You're not even awake yet. We can talk about this later," he said.

"Oh, I'm awake," I glowered. "I want to kill you. You're the one the that picked that side after going back and forth on it all week. I had two nice guys who would've taken it anywhere yesterday."

"I know," he conceded.

"Does this mean I shouldn't take a shower until after we've moved stuff?"

"No, well..."

"Not as far as you know," I finished for him.


"Go away," I growled.

By the time I was out of the shower and we were having something to eat, his doom meter had reduced significantly. He'd formulated a reasonable explanation for the gurgling toilet, and nothing had actually leaked in the basement. Still the damage was done. I'd been through a sludge flood in college and even though none of my stuff had been affected, I knew I didn't want to have to deal with it happening now.

Though he basically recanted, he was still in favor of moving the stuff. Mom chose this moment to say she didn't understand why I hadn't just had it delivered to a storage area. She went on to say she hadn't been in on any of these plans. I assured her there was no conspiracy large or small. We'd only been talking about this for the past few weeks, so how she missed it all... well, it's ridiculous.

Dad laughed and said, "Just throw more shit in the mix."

"Yeah. Thanks for the hindsight advice. That's really helpful now," I added.

"Well, I don't see why you didn't have it delivered to storage," she pressed.

"I was looking into it when someone said to just have it delivered here," I retorted.

"I said that," admitted Dad.

Honestly I could've sworn both of them said that. "See?"

Mom went on to tell me what I could've and should've done.

Why don't you fucking leave already? I refrained from saying out loud.

Fortunately, the conversation took a moderately absurd turn which diffused the situation. Mom did not start to cry, so I was able to enjoy my anger and righteousness until I calmed down of my own accord.

Now, I'm just in fucking take care of it mode, so in a bit I'll sweep out the other side of the garage, lay down a tarp, and start shifting boxes.

06 October 2005

Nate Cushman (part 1 of 2)

Well, here it is, that strange moment of hoping to track someone down via the internet commingling with my desire to blog about that person. And if you sacrifice his/her anonymity, what can you really say about them without invading their privacy? (Yes, I know my pronouns don't match- I'm irritated by the lack of a gender neutral third person in English.)

We met in LA years ago juicing* for a strange guy named Roy. The first gig was a spec pilot with the worst shot scheduling I've ever seen. We were up at Disney Ranch, a series of standing sets and locations, 45 minutes north of LA. We were making a low flat rate for the day, $75 I think, and when hour 20 rolled around, Roy held the "I'm invested in this, but you don't have to stay" meeting with his department. I told him I was leaving. I was the only one and I didn't care. I didn't even care if it meant not getting paid; I just wanted to go home and knew if I stayed any longer I wouldn't be awake enough for the drive. As I started walking to my car, the generator ran out of gas plunging everything into complete darkness. I briefly considered going back to help them wrap equipment, but I'd already said I was leaving and nothing sounded less appealing at the time than trying to return lights, stands, and cables to the truck with only flashlights for illumination. Production ended up calling everyone back in for a second day anyway.

A week later, Roy hired us on a 3 day $200/day photo shoot to make it up to us. The days were light and didn't run over the standard 12 hours. We'd only known each other a few days, but Nate was already teasing me with a dead-on impression of the shoulder/back stretch I often did while walking around. We discovered we both played tennis; Roy did too, but our casual plans didn't tend to include him: tennis is a game for even numbers afterall.

After we wrapped on the last day, Roy took us all out to dinner. Nate and I exchanged numbers before leaving so we could get together to play tennis.

When I told my friend Jaye about my tennis plans, she was thrilled that I had a date. I assured her we were just friends, "We're just going to play tennis and then have lunch."

"That's a date."

"No, it isn't."

"Yes, it is," she insisted.

I started to get nervous. Nate was tall, very strong without being bulky, reminded me of Jake, and was handsome. He wore old white t-shirts to work and wrapped a bandana pirate style over his hair, but it didn't distract me from his chiseled good looks; he was several years older than me and out of my league.

"How can it be a date if we're going to be all sweaty?" I mused. "Not like that," I added.

Jaye explained that it was the food that made her certain it was a date. Anticipation morphed into anxiety. In what seemed a stroke of genius to me, Jaye suggested I bring deodorant and a nice shirt to change into after the match.

The next morning I drove over to the courts at Griffith Park to meet Nate. A film crew had overtaken the playground and the tennis courts for a commercial. I looked around but didn't see him anywhere. Then I remembered there was another set of courts down the road across from the park. That's when it occurred to me that Griffith Park is the largest municipal park in the country and could well have more than one set of tennis courts within it as well.

It was 1999, so neither of us had cell phones though I did have a pager with voicemail service. I called his house from a payphone, but as was to be expected, he wasn't home, so I left a message detailing my location. After an hour or so, I drove to the other set of courts, but he wasn't there either, so I went home to check my messages. It wasn't far and I was out of change. I left him another message and thought to myself: If this is a date, it's the most disastrous beginning of all time...


*film set slang for working in the electric department.

tags: , , ,

Lost again, it seems

About a month ago, I was heartbroken because some of my best photo negatives hadn't reached their destination. A week later they turned up in Seattle, and I was much relieved. Now it seems they are lost in the mail again. They were shipped three and a half weeks ago via business first class. In the past, items typically took two to four days to arrive. What the hell is up?

Heartbroken has dissolved with resignation into calm frustration. Maybe tomorrow, I keep telling myself.

05 October 2005

Show and Tell: My Closet

With my recent ruminations on stuff about to arrive after 3 years in storage, Helena's tag does not seem out of place.

I adore a good closet. If I had the money, I would absolutely have one of those huge dressing rooms everyone on CRiBs seems to have even if it was only full of t-shirts and cargo pants. And I might even have more than one.

In my opinion, life is too short for ironing. Unless I'm heading to a job interview, or maybe a wedding or funeral, it's just not happening, so I like to hang everything. Unfortunately I hate the closet I currently have. It's the narrow sliding door type, and the shelves and hanging space are set up in reverse of what I would have done. It's also got so much stuff (not mine) packed into the bottom of it that the doors take significant effort to slide, so I don't really use it. Where most of my clothes actually reside is described here.

And now, the most photo-heavy blog post in the history of ttat: the contents of my closet:

Hedgehog, BigFoot, Odie, and little bear (top shelf) stuffed animals. A dreamcatcher. 4 out of 7 shirts that I do hang in this closet. Fabric pieces (Not Mine, subsequently NM), a dollhouse sized wicker chair (NM), a small clock (NM). A hangable series of collapsed wire baskets, and 3 collapsed caps.

A stack of my pants, my black leather belt, a random tie (NM), t-shirts too big or fragile to wear that have sentimental value, a pillow (NM). The white t-shirt with green on it is one I dislike but don't think I've had long enough to part with since it was a gift.

Keychains of the Eiffel Tower my brother brought back from his high school trip to Paris.

The green cardboard has a poster in it I think. Purses (definitely NM), boxes (NM), a black witch's hat with a bat garland (NM).

Orange luggage (NM), more pillows and bedding (NM), and one pillow that is mine.

Another shirt of mine on the left. Sweater on top (NM). Walrus and coyote (NM) stuffed animals, more of my late grandfather's ties (NM).

My brother's Boy Scout shirt (NM), our high school graduation gowns (gold for me and a semblance of maroon for my bro), my college graduation gown (black).

A banner containing my pin collection. When we went to Disney World and Epcot when I was 13, I was obsessed with getting the flag pins from all of the different countries. Honestly, I'm not sure why I still have this other than my mom went to the trouble to make something for me so I could display them all.

And finally, my long green dress. The shimmering dark spots are raised and slightly fuzzy. Like my prom dress, this was a last minute purchase for a wedding. I hadn't been looking for something green, but I quickly fell in love with it because it's so comfortable.

And now, I tag Cathy, Rarity, and Merujo.

04 October 2005

Baggage, please. Would you like to super-size that?

Two days. Less than two days really. A thousand pounds of stuff I haven't needed in three years is due to arrive the day after next. I keep remembering what's coming in bits at a time: a poster tube, a box with two lamps, the first lamp I built, paintings and framed pictures, lots of videos. I'd like to say I'll just dispense with all of it, but it's not practical. At some point, I will need the dishes and silverware again; I will want my tools handy even if I'm not using them.

The two lamps can go, as can my old computer unless it still works and my mom wants it. Many videos will go: do I really need to save episodes of Lois & Clark? No. Just yesterday though, I remembered that a good chunk of videos are copies of my reel. My master is still sitting in a vault in Burbank, I suppose, just waiting for me to call up and order a case. Some things are hard to dismiss even if they're not a part of your life anymore. Just like the math texts from college resting on my shelf. They're laying flat, waiting for me to weed them, to get rid of at least some of them, but I can't bring myself to do it. It's that familiar yellow cover, indicative of some other life I had. Proof of it in all senses.

Diplomas have never seemed like much to me. The books, the notebooks in my handwriting- that's real, that's proof. As long as I need the tactile verification, it's going to be hard to part with things. Hopefully a ruthless mood will sweep over me, so I can dispense with some things without scrutinizing them too much, without getting sentimental.

Show Joss some Love

Go see Serenity.

03 October 2005

The top of the hill

Saturday after dinner, Mom offered to go for a walk with me because my laps had been cut short by a dog encounter. I was grateful for the company and the space for long strides. When we got to the top of the hill, the same two dogs, Max and his black furred friend, charged across the street at us.

"Go home," Mom commanded to no avail.

The dogs' owner emerged from the woods along with his wife. Both started to yell for the dogs. Something was beeping on their collars, but obviously the device wasn't effective. The dogs were a few feet from us and Max barked. I wasn't really nervous this time, but I was annoyed that the dogs were still loose. The man got a hold of the black dog's collar and said, "I'm sorry about that."

Mom strode over and introduced herself and me. I dutifully followed and shook his hand. She included her geographic proximity to his house in the introduction. "Oh right, of course," he said.

As we walked down the hill, Max bounded after us, running into other neighbor's yards on both sides of the streets. The man kept calling after him and activating the useless beeping device on Max's collar.

"What was his name again?" Mom asked.

"I never caught it," I replied.

"He never said it," she confirmed.

"What a jerk. As if we need his name to complain about his dogs running all over the place. We know where he lives."

When we got to the end of the street, we opted to brave the heavy traffic and shoulderless, sidewalk-free main road instead of heading back up the hill to the charging dogs. Ggggrrrr.

tip of the week- electricity

If you're working with electricity, particularly if you don't know much about it, keep one hand in your back pocket while you work. This will prevent you from completing a circuit with both hands that would direct the charge across your heart.

Nerves a-twitter

There's something about tasks you must complete before you'll allow yourself to indulge in others that can just tweak your brain and ramp up your nerves.

To get my low mileage auto insurance discount, I was informed a couple of weeks ago that I would have to wait until I got my car inspected in October so they could verify the odometer reading through the DMV registry. I suppose the waiting for this opportunity has been quietly gnawing at me for some time now. Being the first business day of October, I drove up for the inspection after lunch.

My favorite alt rock station played a song I hadn't heard in a few years that was both enjoyable to sing and something I uncharacteristically knew much of the lyrics to.
And these crimes between us grow deeper
Ah, I thought to myself, that's what drew me to this song originally. I was inspired to audioblog but needed to deal with my car and my thoughts weren't in enough order for it.

The mechanic at the auto shop was just finishing up an inspection and had another ahead of me. He scrawled the make and model of my car on the whiteboard with a black marker. I scanned the office window for the necessary stickers: Visa, Mastercard, AmEX, Discover: I had nothing to worry about.

I waited in my car since there was no waiting room and tried to read. I couldn't concentrate because I felt pumped for blogging but couldn't remember the preceding lyrics verbatim. Now that I'm home with the luxury of Google, I'll indulge the tangent. When I first noticed the lyrics, the song had been out for a year; I'd never paid attention to them until they aptly applied to a breakup I'd recently been through.
...we look at each other
Wondering what the other is thinking
But we never say a thing
And these crimes between us grow deeper
The mechanic waved me into the bay. I slipped my bookmark between the pages I'd been blankly staring at. The inspection went pretty quickly. I'd only managed to finish another page when he scraped off my old sticker. After he put the new one on, he handed me the paperwork and told me the fee.

I pulled out my wallet and started digging out a credit card.

"Cash or check?" he asked.

"Credit card," I replied.

"We only take cash or check."

I looked back at the office and noticed the 9" high red lettered sign on the other side of the door that I'd previously ignored. CASH ONLY, it read.

"Oh," I said, fumbling open the bill holder. I knew I had a twenty and some ones, but I was fairly certain it wouldn't be enough. My cheeks started to burn as I counted them out. The mechanic stepped aside to confer with another staff member. 26. I counted again and felt a small surge of hope when I got 27. Unfortunately, I knew the change in my pockets and in my car wouldn't make up the difference.

"I'm two dollars short," I told the mechanic, holding out the wad of cash. I guess he could hold my paperwork while I got get the rest, I thought to myself.

"Just bring it in before five," he said.

I offered him what I had, but he just shook his head, so I left to get more money. I was on the way to the branch that's close to home when I pulled over. There's got to be one closer than that. I called my parents, but either they weren't home or they were outside. I had an idea about where another branch was so I turned around to check my hunch.

As I drove, I tried to remember my PIN. I'd only used the card once to activate it and wasn't sure what I'd picked. Since I abhor ATM and debit fees, I use my credit card if I don't have enough cash. My luck started to improve when the branch was where I thought it was. The machine accepted my card and let me proceed with my transaction, so I started feeling pretty good. Until I clicked yes to verify the withdrawal amount, and then it told me I had the wrong PIN. That seems pretty fucked up. Fortunately my second guess was correct, so it didn't eat my card.

I drove back to the body shop and paid the guy. I'd briefly thought maybe I was getting some privileged girl slack, but he was so unfazed and uninterested that clearly this must happen all the time. To him, I was just the latest flake who didn't remember she needed cash for the inspection.

It's strange; I don't feel old, but I am conscious of this continuing slip out of the young adult demographic. Accomplished, successful young actresses are more and more frequently younger than I am. It's a little unnerving.

01 October 2005

No More Flight

Inspired by temperate and clear weather, I decided to walk an extra loop (for a total of four) of my street today. At the top of the hill on my first lap, a thigh-high yellow dog noticed me and started charging directly at me. I slowed down and stopped, my feet planted firmly.

"Stop!" I yelled at the dog when it was about ten feet from me. The dog didn't stop, so I followed up with my best alpha-dog, "NO!"

The dog paused and then sauntered over to me in a more friendly fashion. A black dog, also sizable, ran into the street towards me until a man behind it called something and it stopped. I let the yellow dog sniff my knuckles while the man corralled the other dog.

From his driveway, the man grunted a quiet, "Hi." There was no "They don't bite," "You have nothing to worry about," or other assuring phrase, so I kept my eye on the yellow dog while he pulled the black one back down his driveway. I wasn't even sure if the yellow dog also belonged to the man. It bounded down the street and into the next yard.

My heart was pounding and my adrenaline was still up: I was ready to fight if need be. I did a short loop at the turnaround and headed back down the street. The yellow dog started charging again.

"Max!" the man called. The yellow dog looked up the street at his owner, but then bounded off again. The man kept calling his name coaxing him further up the street, and then got slightly better results with his dog whistle. I kept moving forward cautiously.

I finished the loop at my house at the bottom of the hill and decided one loop was enough for now. I walked up and down the stairs of our deck a few times instead.

To appreciate my response better, know that I've had myriad encounters with unleashed dogs, an early one ending in a trip to the ER for me. And now, more dog stories:

A SHOW NO FEAR BREAKTHROUGH: (February 25, 2001)

So I'm on my Sunday walk to get the paper. I decided to take a detour through a nearby neighborhood (nicer than mine) that's a big loop: basically lots of little duplexes with little yards and porches. Several student types out, feet propped up, having breakfast.

As I entered the final stretch, a rapid succession of high pitched yelps filled the air. Two small dogs, as tall as dachshunds though not as long, ran towards me. A quick survey of the yard confirmed my gut feeling, no leashes.

Maybe it was the heat; the sun had decided to break through the clouds making it hot even though I was wearing shorts. Ankles and legs bare, I was ready to stand my ground. Or maybe it was the fact I completely towered over these dogs. In any case, I gave them each a stern “No.”

Usually my instinctual response would be to think the phrase, “Show no fear,” often followed by super speed sprints and rapid tree climbing. (I grew up next door to a vicious German Shepherd, and I still sport a forehead scar from a dog one of our tenants had.)

My breakthrough today was that I actually felt no fear. The phrase didn't even come to mind. I looked at these dogs and knew I could take 'em if I had to. Of course in retrospect, I think dogs are one of the animals you're supposed to act submissive around, but to get below the eye level of these pint-size pooches would mean lying flat on the ground. Not happening.

They'd nearly reached me when two voices emerged from behind a dark screen door. “Buttercup! Trixie! NO!” The dogs broke their pursuit and returned to the door for their reprimands.

I hollered a “thank you” into the darkness and walked on never breaking stride.

BLACK DOG: (10/iv/02)

Without looking, I extended my right arm, snagged the door as it was swinging open and pulled it shut. As usual, I was running late for work but not as much as I had the few days previous.

A black mid-sized dog I'd seen before was strolling the parking lot. “Show no fear,” my dog mantra, crossed my mind, but for once, I wasn't nervous. The dog was watching me as I came closer to it and my car.

Within the animal kingdom, are you supposed to stare down dogs or look away so as not to provoke them? Bears and mountain lions, they're the ones you're supposed to get big for, I think. I looked away and kept moving towards my car.

When the dog started approaching, I immediately looked at him and took a more rooted stance. I was still a couple steps from my car and had yet to unlock the door. Baring his teeth, he started to growl. Instinctively, I growled back and then added, “Don't even think about it.”

I turned to my car, did not drop my keys, and got in while he stared at me. Once the engine started, he trotted off. As I pulled out, I saw him lying innocuously on the ground a few houses over.

This may not be over but I will win.

Your miles may be expiring.

The largest source of junk mail for me is affiliate offers from airlines intended to increase my opportunities to accumulate reward mileage. I routinely shred credit card offers and the like, so I was in no rush to open the letter I received yesterday. The only reason it got opened today was because my internet was being wonky for a few minutes, and I felt like reducing the clutter on my desk.

As usual there is a deadline for action about a month from now, but in an unusual twist, there's actually something I can get for my miles without giving them credit card info. My balance is far from the realm of free flights, and now that I'm back on my home coast, it's not likely to increase any time soon, so it might be worth considering the deal.

When I turned the letter over, I saw that it was a list of magazines, much in the style of all those record clubs I've always avoided. They never had enough albums I wanted to make it worthwhile. The first magazine title I read was: Arthritis Self-Management, so I figured this would be much the same.

I'm not even much of a magazine person. The last subscription I had was to American Cinematographer, and I gave that up a few years ago, so I didn't really expect to see anything I'd want. I was wrong though.

Vogue caught my eye, and suddenly I felt like years of social conditioning had just been reactivated. I'm not a Vogue woman. In blue carpenter jeans, a maroon stretchy waffle knit with sleeves designed to be a little too long, and my faded black, decal-cracking Twin Peaks Sheriff Department t-shirt over it, I am slightly more dressed up than usual today. However despite my comfort first philosophy on clothes, I do like fashion.

Since choosing Vogue would only use about a quarter of my miles, I scanned the list for additional titles of interest. In picking them, I felt a little vulnerable: personality quiz results to be exposed monthly on my doorstep. More accurately, my parents' doorstep. I never expected junk mail could teach me something about myself. My reticence is no surprise, but that I might turn down free schwag for it is. Hmm.