Under The Weather

•June 23, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I blame the blended coffee. 

About halfway through the afternoon a co-worker came to me and asked if I wanted a blended coffee: the Coffee Bean was doing a promotion and selling them for a dollar so the boss was buying. I hadn’t had a blended coffee in years, and I didn’t think I’d ever had one from Coffee Bean so I said yes. And it was cold and delicious and probably enough sugar to sustain me for a week. 

Not long afterwards I felt nauseated and hot/cold. My back ached. I just wanted to go home and curl up in bed, but the thought of sitting on a moving bus for ninety minutes did not seem like fun. I made it through the last few hours of the work day and did my best to keep from dwelling on my stomach. I found a seat in the back corner of the bus where I could put my feet up on a support rail and buried my mind in my phone in search of distraction. 

I’m a terrible wimp about feeling sick: I get sick very rarely so I have zero coping mechanisms to handle nausea and malaise besides retreating to bed and lying around like a lump. 

I made it home. I made it through dinner, which tasted delicious even though I ate at a snails pace. I made it through an episode of House of Cards. Then I conceded defeat and went straight to bed. 

So far, the extra sleep seems to have helped. I want to believe that it was just a fluke thing- a blood sugar spike/crash that got the better of me, but it may not be a bad idea to lie low for the weekend.

Workplace Demographics

•June 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The staff meeting had devolved into a conversation about the relative pros and cons of getting amniotic fluid out of industrial carpeting.  

Pro: it’s clear. 

Con: it smells. 

Pro: it doesn’t smell bad. 

The conversation devolved further into a debate about what it smells like, exactly. Was it that same smell as the placenta? Did you know some people keep the placenta? Did you know some people eat the placenta. Omg whyyy! It’s supposed to have good vitamins. Don’t these people have drugstores?!

The perils of a diverse workspace. 

Since I had zero experience in matters of maternity,  I spent the time secretly contemplating the fact that a solid fifteen minutes of a staff meeting were being spent discussing the efluvia of childbirth. I’d been aware of the fact that my current company skewed heavily female, but I’d never really done a headcount. I began to do a mental count of my fellow employees, dividing then up into different demographics. 

Considering that I work in the entertainment industry in an office offering financial services, one might expect the usual complaints about gender disparity and racial white-washing, yet somehow I managed to land at a company which falls into neither of these stereotypes. It’s not a big company: maybe twenty five employees if you count the receptionist who is a temp. But it’s more than seventy five percent women and white folk only account for about a fifth of the employees, including me, and including the temp receptionist. Another fifth is Latino. The largest demographic, although not a true overall majority, is Asian. The smallest group is African American, but only by one or two individuals. 

So with all the discouraging reports of poor representation for women and for people of color, it was pleasantly edifying to realize that diverse companies do actually exist. 

DreamMachine, USA

•June 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Rebel Princess series: 

Photos by Danellyn

Model: Vicky Dalli

Location: Shakespeare bridge, Los Feliz

DreamMachine, USA

•June 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The sun had not yet risen by the time my second alarm went off. I opened my eyes out of a deeply vivid dream and into the flat gray of morning twilight that rendered the room visible without actually appearing to consist of any actual light. It felt like the light before a storm and made me uneasy in a way that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. 

The sun is up now, and my sense of indefinable dread seems to have evaporated with the last of the morning haze, but for a moment it was there and it felt important. 

I went out last night with the Curmudgeonly Lion and with a friend to do some night photography. A concept occurred to me about all the little dreams that people bring with them when they come to Los Angeles: it’s a city full of wandering fantasies- many of them as lost and orphaned as the humans who brought them here. It is easy to be cynical and describe Los Angeles as the place where dreams come to die when in reality it is a place where dreams are brought and then abandoned when it turns out that they require work. 

We discussed this idea at some length over dinner after the shoot: how the city changes people, how it is a strangely conservative place considering its reputation for sleaze and iniquity, how even we can feel ourselves changing, although perhaps not yet losing our hope.  I found myself wondering afterwards whether my recent sense of my own changing personality was just a recognition of this natural evolution. This city now feels like home. What’s more, it actually feels like a place where I am happy to live. I didn’t feel that before: I lived lightly on the surface, like a visitor trying to politely avoid rumpling the sheets on a guest bed. 

There is a new sense of belonging: maybe it comes from living in a house instead of an apartment and having a sense of roots to build upon. We’re making a concerted effort to find new friends, to get to know our neighborhood and neighbors, to entrench ourselves into the fabric of the city. We may always be Chicagoans at heart, but for better or worse, we’re here for good. 

Movie Buff

•June 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It turns out that going to see “Wonder Woman” at the theatre and then later trying to go for a run is a good way to force yourself to reexamine the pitfalls of your sedentary lifestyle. I’m no Amazon warrior, alas. Heck, I’m sore from just working in the garden for an hour. I need to find some way to be more physically active on a day to day basis. 

On the other hand, the Dolby fancypants recliner theatre was, I think, worth the extra four bucks. Blacker blacks! Moving three dimensional sound! Floor to ceiling screens! Electric recliners with a whole command center of controls to tip, lift, recline, reset, and (possibly?) eject. “Does it vibrate?” The Curmudgeonly Lion wanted to know. There wasn’t a button for that, but there didn’t need to be: any time the subwoofer came on there was a noticeable tremble radiating up from below. Battle scenes took on a strange subtext of arousal that probably wasn’t intentional… Probably… Although I suppose that IS one way to get butts into seats and might explain the relative popularity of Michael Bay films. (If the trailer for the new Transformers movie was any indication.)

So it was a fun day at the movies, but that seemed to be the only major thing that I managed to accomplish: weed the flowerbed, watch “Wonder Woman”, go for a run, do some laundry. Better luck tomorrow.

This n That

•June 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I tried multiple times to write yesterday, but never seemed to gather enough momentum. It was a slow day- there was plenty of time for contemplation, but no inspiration. Amateurs wait for inspiration, professionals get to work, I know, I know, but some days the muse just isn’t with me. 

This month is going fast but this week has been dragging along. For most of the day yesterday I couldn’t remember that it was Wednesday. I finished reading ‘The Gunslinger’ by Stephen King right in time for the trailer for the movie to begin to gain some momentum on my Facebook feed, although the reactions were not optimistic. I found the book to be less engaging than I’d hoped. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mindset to read it. It felt convoluted and abstract and by the time it was over I felt like it hadn’t begun. Other people seem to like it. In general I like Stephen King books, so I’ll give the next installment of the series a try, I just hoped to be more excited about it. 

That’s about the most exciting thing that I have to write about right now. 

Witch’s Hand

•June 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

In my mind it seemed like a perfectly reasonable task: weed the small flower bed beside the house before I lost the light for the day. I estimated that I had about an hour. The bed was about twelve feet long and, except for two small jade bushes, was completely overrun by weeds. Not knowing what else to do with it, I’d just let nature run wild, but now it was time to reclaim the land. How hard could it be?

Hard as cement, as it turns out. After weeks of no rain and a few hot, sunny days, the dirt had baked into a hard pack that I could barely get a shovel into, much less get any weeds out of. So the first order of business was to hose everything down with water in an attempt to soften the crust. Really, I should’ve done an in depth soaking the day before so that it had time to seep down below the surface, but ain’t nobody got time for that. 

One everything was good and muddy I started at the far corner where a downspout met a paving stone designed to sluice the water away from the house. Sort of. The paving stone didn’t actually line up with the downspout even though that was clearly the intent. So the next order of business was to dig up the paving stone and move it a handsbreadth to the left. Lifting the stone was not as difficult as I anticipated: the more difficult task was clearing the handsbreadth of space where I wanted to put it. Someone at some point had decided that it would be a good idea to sink a plastic tent spike into the ground right at the corner of the flower bed. It refused to budge when I pulled on it. It refused to budge even after I excavated six inches of dirt around it. It refused to budge even after I broke the hook off the top trying to lever it up with the shovel.  I was beginning to think that it might have been embedded in actual cement when it finally came loose without any warning as if to say: “haha just kidding.”

By now the sun had dipped below the horizon and only the planes flyingfat overhead were still lit by its direct rays. I guessed that I still had a bit of light left. I told myself that I would try to weed at least far enough to put down one bag of mulch. I’d watered, after all- it seemed a shame to let the sort-of softened ground go to waste. 

The ground wasn’t very soft, as it turned out. The task of digging up the deeply embedded weeds was complicated by one of  jade bushes nearby. I want sure what kind of root system I was likely to be digging  around, so I made an effort to be dainty. I cleared a small area and opened up a bag of the mulch to spread over the surface to keep the weeds from returning. It didn’t quite take the whole bag. It seemed silly not to finish the bag. 

Even though it was getting dark I decided to weed just a few more inches. This turned out to be a mistake. The chief invader of the garden turned out to be oxalis plants: shamrocks. They’re not unattractive plants- someone might even have one planted them there on purpose, but by now they had colonized as declared the flower bed to be their Domain. The tricky part about shamrocks is that they grow from underground nodes like giant misshapen potatoes. It turns out that they also sink down ridiculous tap roots. 

I dug around a plant thinking that I had discovered one of the larger nodes. I figured that if I could pull up this one single plant I could probably call it quits for the night. The node that I’d uncovered refused to budge. Digging around it I realized that it had sent out tap roots sideways to anchor it in the ground. One of these gave way revealing a long slender finger-like root nearly eight inches long. Another, thicker root headed in the direction of the sidewalk. I dug it up until I realized that it actually continued out beyond the flower bed and under the cement where I couldn’t dig to it. 

At this point I got the clippers. 

Clipping away this second anchoring root left me with a knotted fist of root material that still refused to budge. It looked more than a little bit like a gnarled witche’s hand. I found myself thinking about lore about mandrake roots and wondered if I was cursing myself by this struggle. The remaining root was as thick as a wrist and disappeared down and towards the house as if this house had also been dropped on some wicked witch leaving only her hand exposed. Digging down another six inches failed to loosen the root. I went and got the pickaxe.  By now I’m not sure if my reasoning was to chop at the ground or to chop at the root. Neither seemed to have much effect and the root was too close to the house to get a good swing. 

At last I decided to cut my losses: I would just clip off the root and bury the rest. If it came back I’d deal with it another time. The clippers mangled the stringy fibers of the root: it was not an elegant amputation and I half expected the smaller roots to curl finger-like around my hand in protest. At last the knot came free. I filled in the hole and spread the last of the mulch and called it a day. 

If I’m haunted by a one handed witch, you’ll know why. 

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