Wednesday, December 24

family matters.

Well, it's day two here up in Whitefish. Our plane landed with a sharp thud in 9 degree weather, and Nat got to see fluffy, puffy, powdery glittery snow for the first time. It was lovely. The rental car is like a spaceship, but whatever. Have already had some good times and some very tense moments with The Fam. It has warmed up today quite a bit; a balmy 21 degrees. The snow is falling off the trees in cascades, glittering the air.

Happy christmas eve to you all. Good luck to all others out there in the same situation i'm in. Trying to deal with a big family vacation is quite a balancing act. Not all of my presents have been shipped here yet, so not everybody will have something from me under the tree. But you know what? It's really not about that. It's the little things. Don't sweat 'em, and make sure to appreciate 'em. Life is definitely not rough, not by a long shot. And i even got to put tinsel on the tree, even though my sister (and Nat, i'm fairly sure) can't stand it. Woohoo!

Happy holidays to you all.

Saturday, December 20

Carrot cupcakes: Success!

So, i got a great bicep workout grating another cup and a half of carrots, and this time everything went swimmingly. Didn't over-walnut the batter or overbake the cakes themselves. Had a little less maple syrup than i wanted for the frosting, so i added some vanilla extract and grated nutmeg on top. Not as maple-y as i would have liked, but still delish!

But seriously, enough about baked goods already, heather. Here's the really interesting thing i have to tell you all:

It snowed here in Las Vegas.

No, seriously.

If we had flown out here just two days earlier, our flight would have been canceled because McCarran International Airport was clooooosed. Four inches in the city itself! Six in Henderson, nearby! And it stuck to the ground! When our plane began its descent, the mountains surrounding Vegas (on three sides) were completely covered in white. It was a brisk 44 degrees when we got to my mom's house, and the backyard had a nice thick layer of snow on it! I'm sure her cactus garden was like, wtf? But they'll survive. And their little cactus memories will always have the frosty winter of '08 to remember.

So of course, Nat and i made snowmen, and i found out something very wonderful indeed: he had never made one before! His first snowman, and it happened in Las Vegas! Unbelievable... you know, last time he was here it was 120 degrees out, and windy, and we felt like we were in a convection oven every time we stepped outside. Truly bizarre.

Anyway, since my mom has a digital camera, i might be able to put some of the photos up here.... yeah! There's your proof positive. Mine is the small, silly-looking one, and Nat's is twice as big and strangely buxom. It was much fun. They lasted the night, and we decided that if they were still standing in the morning that my brother could kick them down. (we all really wanted him to.) So today, their demise came. Leaves flew, rock "buttons" fell to the ground, only rocks once more. i think this was a prelude to our trip up North. i know that all of us were feeling a little unprepared, but now we have been ushered in to the time of snow. Some of you out there are already living it, i'm sure. It's just been awhile for us :) Can't wait to see it falling, though. There is nothing quite like it.

Happy December to all.

p.s.) sorry about the weird formatting- we had some issues getting the pictures on.

Tuesday, December 16

failed: carrot cake cupcakes.

What a bummer, because i could tell these would have been mighty tasty. Plus, it's harder than you might think to grate 1 1/2 cups of carrots on the small side of the grater... well, you win some, you lose some. Maybe i'll wake up tomorrow and make them again? And this time i won't put in too much oil... grr! It's the maple-cream cheese icing that's really driving me, anyway; maybe i should just make that and call it a day (and grab a spoon).

So San Diego had a rainy day on Sunday. And everyone fairly panicked about it; tonight and tomorrow more rain is expected, and boy are the emergency crews preparing... for the rain. Seriously, rain! Sprinkles, even. Yeah, this is definitely gonna be the "fierce winter storm" they love harping about. ::cough:: not. These people should maybe cover the ice storms in the Northeast, maybe then they'd calm down a little.

Found an H and an x tonight. The first was a fall(en) twig, the second was a perfectly symmetrical shadow. Swear i'm gonna get a digital camera soon, then all of this will be a tad more interesting.

Must be inwardly freaking out about The Holiday Trip To See the Family- i've got horrible blemishes on my face, as if i were attacked by bees, or mosquitoes. WTF? This is like the time that Nat and i took our trip to Europe (in 2004). When we took off from Pittsburgh, i was a-okay, dermatologically speaking. 7 hours later, when we landed in London? Yeah, not so nice. i had the ol' pizza face, and all it took was a trans-Atlantic flight! Good times. (and probably bad genes- no offense, mom and dad.) It's a good thing i'm already extraordinarily un-photogenic, because these are sure to be doozies.

Anywho, enough with the vanity. Have you all heard about the hole in Earth's magnetic field? Pretty interesting. Always nice to be humbled by the awesome forces of the universe...

And, we finally watched The Happening last night. Been looking forward to it since it was first released. Ay, chihuahua- what a disappointment. I'm not ashamed to say that i've enjoyed each M. Night Shyamalayan film i've seen (although strangely, not Unbreakable, so much), and that my favorite so far was The Village. Go ahead, judge me. But The Happening was just too much, or rather, too little. The acting was atrocious (who knew that Zooey Deschanel was The World's Worst Actress?), the directing was obviously off, and the script was actually laughable.
Sample scene (vague minor spoilers, but really, who cares?):
Marky Mark: "Ask [your daughter] if anything has happened in Princeton."
Woman talking to daughter on cell phone: "Has Princeton been affected?"
Unseen daughter on other end: [unintelligible answer]
Woman: "She says everyone outside is dead! (sob)"
Daughter: [something else we aren't allowed to hear]
Woman: "honey, just stay in that room..."
Daughter: [blah blah blah]
Woman: "...don't open that door for no one..."
Daughter: [blah blah]
Woman: "..just stay near the window..."
Marky Mark: (what seems like five minutes later) "Wait, are you telling me that everyone is dead?!"

...And that was quite possibly the biggest delayed-reaction line delivery that i've ever seen. Awful, awful stuff. I'm not sure if this can really be conveyed through type. The cockeyed nursery guy was the best character, and the crazy old lady absolutely should have been the twist ending that we all wanted to badly. Instead, we get a weak affirmation of the silly hypothesis that's been floating around the whole movie, like a dandelion puff trying to catch soil and take seed. Boooooo.

Um, time to go! i think our last Netflix rental will be the Puppet Film of Jiri Trinka, just because i don't think i'm going to be able to find that anywhere else. Know what i'm sayin'?

Sunday, December 14

The winds of change.

This has been one heck of a blustery day. Gusty, gusty... wind chimes i didn't even know existed are ringing out excitedly on balconies everywhere. The wind blowing through the screens on our windows makes a high-pitched howling sound, eerie to be sure. The curtains billow, the trees rustle and shake and molt their old leaves out into the air, gone forever. It's definitely starting to feel like winter, as much as it can down here in Southern California, anyway.

And we do what we can to bring it on home: i've gotta say, there's nothing like the smell of evergreens to bring you to a much happier place. When you live in an apartment in San Diego, surrounded by not much besides palm trees, succulents, and birds of paradise, a little indoor "outdoor" smell is one of the best things there is.

We did the same thing last year: went and bought (at Von's, ::cringe::) a few boughs of the fine-smelling stuff; fir, pine, cedar, spruce. Nat was remembering christmases growing up at his house in Gardena, when his mother would have candles lit and fresh greens strewn about the house. i thought it sounded like a fine and dandy idea, and it was. Our apartment smelled like a piquant wood somewhere far, far away. it was heavenly, and by that i mean, um, earthly.

The irony this year is that in about one week we will actually be traveling to a great source of never-ending woodliness: Montana.

Yep, i'm finally taking Nat up to the North. A little town named Whitefish, which is where i was born. Sadly, the hospital has been torn down by now, as well as the adorable trailer park that was right next door to it. We used to love looking for it as we approached town on Highway 93. ::sniff!:: Ah, memories of times gone by.

Anyway! So, yeeeaaahhh. (in Eddie Izzard voice.) Where was i? Oh yes- the forest. Yes, it will be all around us. My sister is cutting down a tree for us to decorate, and it should be, well, interesting to have the whole family in one place. Especially considering the mire of baggage and bad blood and dysfunction that threatens to suck us down into it if we're not careful. Let's just say that more than one of us (not me) has a rather short fuse. Poor Nat; if he makes it out alive he'll have quite a story to tell, of Christmas '08. Snowed in and snowed under.

But at least there are trees up there, damnit, and i mean great big, sweet-smelling baddies. i can't really wait, i guess. Does that mean i'm excited? To see my over-worked and over-stressed big sister? My ailing father, whose (doubtful) progress of recovering from his (bad) stroke two years ago will surely be measured when i walk through the door? The fur that will fly when my brother and sister start to go at it, opening up old wounds?

Yes, it will be just like old times... but one has to be positive, right? So i will look forward to the good things i remember: making coffee in the morning in the kitchen upstairs, watching the tiny ice particles fall from the snowy tree branches, like a shower of glitter in the morning sunlight. Seeing deer nibble away at the sparse bushes in the backyard. Grabbing the binoculars and watching the intrepid skiers schuss their way down Big Mountain, only 3 miles away. Taking a walk up our little road and seeing wild flocks of pheasant, grouse. The way the milk just tastes better up there.

Yeah, here's hopin' for the best.

In other news: saw a "T" today, in the tiny, tattered remnant of a plastic shopping bag in the hallway downstairs. Also, i think i finally succeeded in getting a cold to go away simply through the force of sheer will, which is very exciting. ::knock on wood:: And, well, listen to Chopin. i dare you.

Thursday, December 11

The girl with the parking lot eyes...

Sometimes a line just stays with you, you know? i love Neko Case's voice, and i love her song "Hold On, Hold On", but aside from that i can't really get into much else by her. i want to, but my ears aren't having it for some reason. But in "Margaret Vs. Pauline", when she sings that line (above), it just... hits me somewhere. i guess i see truck stops, and people who are sad and/or down on their luck. There's a poignancy there.

And while we're talking about songs that i like that i don't actually like, how about "Such Great Heights"? The first time i heard it, it was a hollow, jaunty little number they were playing on the radio in the afternoon. "Ehhhhhhhh... no." i thought, and immediately switched the station. The next time i heard it it was different: it was around midnight or midnight-thirty, on the program Big Sonic Chill, which we listen to constantly to aid Nat's studying habits. The song had been stripped down and slowed down considerably. Somehow it became an entirely different song, and one that was so melancholy and heavy to listen to. Apparently the original is by the Postal Service (bleh), and the sweet sweet cover is by Iron and Wine, a name that pops up from time to time in my musical ramblings, although i know very little about them.

How did i turn into someone who listens to so much freak folk singer-songwritery business? Not that i'm complaining, believe me. It's nice to venture down different avenues. And listening to "Carcass" by Siouxsie and the Banshees or "No. 13 Baby" by the Pixies or "I Wanna Sleep in Your Arms" by Jonathan Richman still gives me a thrill. But these days i'm leaning more and more towards the quieter stuff. Perhaps this correlates with my new-found (and depressing) low tolerance for scary horror movies? People, it just hurts the psyche too much!

i just need to be soothed, it seems. Works for me.

Also, have we talked about Wings of Desire yet? My current favorite film? Nat had seen it years ago and decided we should Netflick it. So um, yeah. i love it. i can see people hating it; it's extremely slow-paced, grainy-ish black and white, full of ponderous situations and quizzical dialogue/thought-processes. Wow, could that sentence have been any more complicated? But anyway, enough with the cons, let's talk about the pros:
1) Peter Falk playing himself.
2) a beautiful soundtrack, including otherworldly angel sounds and Nick Cave songs (he's even in it!),
3) fabulous plot regarding an angel who wants to be mortal,
4) stunning cinematography/set design,
5) flawless acting from all players,
6) a common thread weaving us all together.

See it! And if you can, for sure watch the extras at the end of the film, where they talk with Wim Wenders (director) and you find out all sorts of amazing stuff re: storybooking, filming, lighting, costume, plot, etc. A great companion to the film.

oh, and p.s.) Wim Wenders made the Buena Vista Social Club. Surprised? i certainly was. But also not, considering that i love that movie too.

Bye y'all!

Monday, December 8

Tilt-shift Photography.

Here is a singular video for you. It uses Tilt-shift photography, which is definitely my new favorite thing. Everything looks like a tiny model! But they are actually normal size! Fabulous.

Wish i had more time to post; nothing interesting to say anyway. Lost something special last night, hope it turns up. Gettin' along on scanning in photos, even though it is immensely time-consuming. Cropping, straightening, adjusting the size, etc. etc.


Tuesday, December 2

Ok, ok:

how about:

"Joe Misery, RN"?


"Mr. Joyensire"?

Two totally different sides of the coin, there. Righteous! Anyway, those are the best i could come up with. Do i have too much time on my hands? Naaaahhhh.

Monday, December 1

"Jeremy's.... iron."

..Does anyone remember that Simpsons episode? Where Lisa is given the (supposedly simple) task of anagrammatizing "Jeremy Irons" into a description of the man himself, and that is all she can come up with? Ever since, i have had that scene randomly pop into my head every once in awhile, and then i spend the next five minutes or so trying to figure it out in my head. Honestly, i don't even know if one exists! But it is the challenge, the challenge.

In other news: it's quite possible that i'm over my fear of flying. Which is good considering i've got a 4-leg trip ahead of me this x-mas. Flying with Virgin (the airline, you perv!) doesn't hurt, either. Does anyone know about this? How you get on the plane and there is weirdly soothing techno music playing, and purple and pink track lighting running down the entire length of the cabin? Also, you can play games or listen to music (and a fairly decent selection, actually!) or even watch TV for free? i found it to be very helpful, as it is basically a huge distraction mechanism on the seat in front of you. Although i suppose the double vodka-ginger ale i had before boarding probably did its share. I'll try and tackle the next flight sober and see how that goes.

Also: if you don't know what to get that hard-to-shop-for person this holiday season, how about something special? Also, Heifer International will set up a family in need (in a third world country) with a flock of chicks, a goat, a sheep or cow, rabbits, etc. so that they will have something to sustain themselves with, and to possibly sell as well. Nat's mom did this for me one x-mas and honestly, the feeling never left. i thought it was such a great thing to do. Enough with this buying tons of crap for people that probably don't need/won't use what you get them anyway. Here are a couple of other links as well.

Well! Now that all that's over with: how do you all feel about "tony" as an adjective? i kind of forgot how much i enjoy it. What else? Oh, here is a link to a Nina Hagen video that you should probably watch. No, seriously. You have never seen anything like it. Her voice is amazing. And her personal style is... well, it's even more amazing.

Okay, time to go check some student papers for plagiarism... the things we do for love!

Until next time, folks. Oh- and try and remind me that i'm quitting smoking this New Year's. Because i am.

Monday, November 24

a shameless endorsement.

Well, it's that time again. The freakin' holidays. And i am here to promote my mom's lovely items.

Basically, she takes a lot of photographs. Close-ups of lichens, flowers, rock and cactus textures, etc. Also, some stunning landscapes from around the area where she lives. The other side of her art consists of fractals. For those of you who aren't familiar, fractals are math-based patterns that she generates on her computer, then rocks them through Photoshop until they are just amazing. It actually takes quite a bit of time, which most people don't realize. And what does she do with all these images, you might wonder?

Well, a long time ago my mom bought a heat-press, for designing T-shirts. Then she bought a mug-press, so we could put our own pictures onto mugs. This has been a years-long process for her, and she has become quite good at it. She's always been interested in functional art, which i love because being able to actually use a gift is a huge bonus. So she makes glass cutting boards, tiled boxes, coaster sets, mugs, pillows, mousepads, etc. etc.

In any case, i promised her i would put up a post about all of this, in the hopes that somebody might like what they see and order some stuff for the holidays. Like i said, shameless ;) But i love my mom, and i want her to be happy, and this is what makes her happy. Ideally she wants to be able to quit working for IBM and do something creative, which of course i want to support. She has done so much for all of us, and anyway it's not like this stuff is easy- it's quite labor-intensive. She makes every piece herself, and the best part is that you can send in your own photos and she can customize stuff for you! Woo-hoo! For instance, i have a morph-mug with an image of our old cat, Calico, that i make tea in every now and then so i can remember her. Then again, i'm a sentimental old fool, so who knows if this appeals to you. But take a look and see if you dig it.

Her website is here, and her Etsy account is here. And lastly, her Zazzle account, where you can get the mousepads and many other things as well. Zazzle is a strange place, so don't be frightened ;)

Ummm, what else? Yes, some of my favorites:


(a cactus photo that has been altered; i have this as a mousepad and adore it),


(a photo of some glass flowers that she tweaked; there are actually many variations on this one, and all are great!),

Cactus Flower Mugs

(a set of black cups with 3 different versions of a prickly pear- these are soooo pretty in real life!),

Lightning River - Round Tempered Glass Cutting Board

(an awesome cutting board!),

Claret Cup Cactus Flowers - Round Tempered Glass Cutting Board

(this is simply a beautiful photograph; a claret cup catcus that was in her backyard),

Blue Green Serenity - Tempered Glass Cutting Board

(one of my favorite fractals; also comes in pinkish greens),

Gathering Storm - Tempered Glass Cutting Board

(this is perhaps my favorite of all. i have the large rectangle cutting board of this one, and every morning i look at it and am blown away. This is a shot of some hills in Red Rock Canyon, near Las Vegas.)

..Seriously, the photos don't even do them justice. And i'm not just saying that because it's my mom, they are really, really lovely. Of course i understand if all of this is not your cup of tea, that's cool. But i just had to give a shout-out. Other favorites include the swimming pool cutting board, anything with a hibiscus on it, and the yucca photo, plus basically all of the lichens and rock texture photos... there are just so many!

And the truly great thing about the cutting boards is that they are glass, so they don't retain odors (like garlic and onion and whatnot), or get moldy or scratched; they are super easy to clean, and please don't be afraid to actually cut on them, i do it multiple times a day. Everything is dishwasher-safe, if that matters to you, and it's a great way to have your kitchen lookin' real pretty. You can also use the cutting boards as serving plates, or trivets.

Okay, okay. You guys have endured enough. Honestly, thank you. And no pressure! I'm sure there are only one or two people reading this, anyway, but every little bit helps. Happy holidays, folks. I'm off for a bike ride before it gets dark (really? at 4:30? sheesh.)

In other news: last night i spotted a near-perfect capital 'A' in the cracks in the driveway outside my building. Rad.

In other, other news: White Chalk is possibly the most melancholy, plaintive album i have ever owned. i love how PJ's piano sounds just a tad out of tune, or old in some way. That girl's got me covered in chilly goosebumps.

Friday, November 21

Guilty pleasures.

Wow, so- don't get on my case for this, but i'm sort of addicted to this song. And there's absolutely nothing i can do about it, except wait it out. i'm actually embarrassed about this one, versus when i still liked Green Day even as everyone else decided the thing to do was (say they) hate them. But sometimes it just gets stuck in my head, and boy is it ever catchy! Damn her. i hope this goes away soon.

Doing laundry last night, i noticed that my neighbors down the hall have an interesting welcome mat. i say "interesting" because it is more of a go-away mat: one of those heavy-duty brown bristly ones, with one simple word, "L E A V E" printed on it in (strangely) small black letters. i can't decide if i love this or hate this! Initial reaction was definitely, "ugh, please". But is it cute? Or just annoying? Hm.

Of all the myriad things i dislike about San Diego, there is at least one thing that i absolutely loved from the moment i moved here: the utility boxes. Apparently someone getting paid by the city decided that it would be a good thing to hire an artist(s?) to paint them up all pretty. And you know what? It is a good thing. No more depressing grey boxes everywhere! Yay! i would love to send this person a fruit basket or something. In any case, i just stumbled upon this today, which reminded me of how urban art is absolutely fabulous. Honestly, there should be more of it.

Heading off to Bad Movie Night; this week's feature is Young Einstein. God, i hope there are cocktails.

Thursday, November 20

home again, home again, jiggety-jog.

Back from Vegas. Sat next to Typhoid Mary on the bus ride to L.A., that was a hoot. She was nearly seventy years old, was wearing a strumpy lace dress with a man's suit jacket over it, and dirty white slippers that said "Junior Mints" on them. A hacking, phlegmy cough and all of her belongings were in plastic grocery bags. Very sad... apparently she thinks that in downtown L.A., everyone is an jerk, but that on the strip in Vegas they treat you like a queen. Not sure exactly what she meant by these remarks, but i'm not really keen on delving much deeper into it. i gave her the window seat so she could sleep (hacking cough lessened a lot with that development, thank goodness), and a tissue because she was sniffling and wiping her nose on the back of her hand. Not that i've never done that, obviously, but i could tell she was not having a good time.

The craft show was sort of a bust; the economy has definitely taken its toll there. Lots of lookers, not a lot of buyers. But hey! Experience is good to be had. We sat for 3 days in the empty strip-mall store, smiling at people and buying things we didn't need form other crafters. And on Sunday, we packed everything back into the car, strapped the metal display shelf on top, and drove on home. As we were pulling into the garage, we heard a loud, horrible screeching sound and then suddenly stuff was raining down onto the windshield. It was a split-second of bizarrity. Then it hit us- we had forgotten (is that a proper word?) to stop in the driveway and remove the damned shelf from the top of the car. i laughed so hard my belly hurt. There was stucco everywhere, but only minor damage to the garage door mechanism. Whew! Good times. i certainly hope the neighbors were watching- there's some cheap entertainment to be had in Vegas yet! Tune in next time, folks, for Heather and Linda's Driveway Comedy Revue, Redux!

In other news, i guess i'm a nephophile. i mean, not to the extreme, but a mild obsession is definitely there. i am always looking up at the sky, searching for clouds. Photos of them almost always take my breath away (do NOT start singing that song), and when the sky is nothing but blue it bums me out completely. Speaking of clouds, here is a really fun optical illusion segment from Bill Nye that you should absolutely check out. Don't worry, it's not a Rickroll.

What else is new? Hm. Think i've got one too many houseplants at this point... seventeen pots, at last count. Wow! i never even realized that until this moment. Unfortunately, i'm nowhere near what you would classify as green-thumbed, so a couple of these are hanging on by a thread (the plants, not my thumbs!), and a couple of the others are not exactly thriving... But the rest do pretty well, and make the apartment a much happier place. i'm telling you: green is where it's at.

Even though this is boring, here is a list of them all, because i'm obsessive.

~Orchid (Brassidia x Odontoglossum, yellow star-shaped flowers with chocolatey mottles)
~Aloe (gotta have one of these, right? nature's burn healer.)
~hanging Ivy (because the bedroom is dark.)
~hanging Philodendron (the tendrils!)
~Arrowhead (Syngonium podophyllum)
~Dieffenbachia (because they are hard to kill)
~Croton (stunning rainbow leaves)
~Spathiphyllum (peace lily, also hard to kill!)
~Lithops (because they look like upside-down elephant feet to me)
~Fenestraria aurantiaca (a succulent that i'm busy killing)
~Maidenhair fern (delicate and lovely)
~Table fern (hearty goodness)
~Hypoestes phyllostachya (pink and green mottled)
~yellow Bromeliad (tropical!)
~Two Lucky bamboos. (just for the heck)
~a nearly dead Lily of the Valley (::sniff::) i got this for Nat's birthday, and it was so cute and delightful, until it slowly withered away and now i don't know what's going on there.

So there. Yeah. Glad i typed all of that out. Real interesting for you all, i'm sure. Time to go. Working on scanning some photos, but i'll probably just put them all on my Flickr account. It's long, tedious work when you're not digital, let me tell ya.


Oh, and apparently i travel so much on Amtrak that the lady at the ticket window recognizes me now. She's all, "do you work in Vegas?" Hah. At first i got really offended because for some reason i thought she thought i was a stripper, then it occurred to me that she probably thinks i'm an entertainer of some kind. Circus, or something. i wish!

Wednesday, November 12

The Meadows.

How on earth did Las Vegas get its name?

i guess a couple of hundred years ago there were green areas, as the result of natural wellsprings. Hard to believe, if you ask me. Although cacti can be very deceptive. when i went to Death Valley as a youngster, i had no idea what to expect. i just remember thinking, with a name like that, it can't be good...

But how wrong i was! To this day, i have not seen a more brilliant flaming orange than the hue i witnessed on the bloom of a flowering cactus. It stopped me dead in my tracks, actually, as the plant itself was absolutely towering. As my eyes wandered down, i realized that the ground was blanketed in hot pinks* and yellows and reds. From the road, you could see none of these details.

Plus, we had an unopened bag of potato chips in the the car that expanded so much during the trip that it looked like a mylar balloon. When we went to open it, it exploded salt and vinegar deliciousness all over the back of the van. Very exciting! i highly recommend a trip to Death Valley, especially for anyone who likes gorgeous moonlit desert nights, lizards, and living in a convection oven.

As for me, i'm heading to Vegas for the umpteenth time. Okay, it's more like the 8th time, but i haven't said "umpteenth" in awhile. My mom has a booth in another craft fair (her 2nd), and i'm hopping a train/bus there to help her out with everything. This time i'm bringing my camera, and hopefully the result will be fancy eye-catching photos for me to post. i know you guys like that stuff.

Wish me luck on the Greyhound. ::sigh:: i'm getting to be an old hand at all this... is that normal? Should i just give up my fear of flying already, or hold on to it for dear life? Hah! Interesting sentence, that.


*Originally typed as "oinks", which was much more interesting. Corrected for posterity.

Sunday, November 9


It's interesting to me, that when i am sick my body balks at the thought (or sight, or smell) of things that it knows are not good for it. It makes perfect sense, but i find it absolutely fascinating. One of the first thing that alerts me to an impending illness is that cigarettes start to taste strange. "Uh-oh," i think, "this is it."
A bad night's sleep, and much sneezing and coughing later, i wake up to make a cup of coffee, only to realize that the idea of drinking a cup of that foul brew sounds like the worst idea in the world.
Wait a minute- foul brew? Did i really just think that? Yep, it's true. The simple pleasure that i truly look forward to every morning has turned into an impossibly disgusting task. i can't even think about it for too long; there is just no question. Tea it is. Herbal tea. (uh-oh, am i an elitist?)

It makes me realize that these substances can't possibly be good for me. Even if i refuse to realize it, my body tells me the truth when it's trying to muster its defenses against an attack. It's pretty amazing.

Cut to five days later, and i am seriously hankering for a cup of joe. As health slowly returns to my cells and body processes, i feel a switch turning on in my brain. i believe it is the one that screams: Give me caffeine! Or, it might just be the fact that i am an extreme creature of habit, and having something missing from your daily routine starts to gnaw on you after awhile.

...nah, i think it's probably just the caffeine.

In any case, i am looking forward to having a strong cup of coffee tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day, i can feel it! Right, box of tissues? Right, cough drops? Right, giant sweater that i only ever wear when i am just feeling A-1 crappy?

Right. You guys are done.

But then i ask myself: is this perhaps a good time to wean myself off of the stuff? Actually, i guess it is far too late for that, as i have already gone "cold turkey" (i call wtf on that saying, by the way) on the coffee. Should i let it ride? We all know that coffee isn't inherently "good" for you, but damn is it ever delicious! Plus, i saw a news report somewhere awhile back showing that women who drank one or more (not sure if there was a limit) cups of coffee a day turned out to be more intelligent when they got older. As in, over fifty. Which i surely hope to reach some day; that is, if i can manage to quit smoking cigarettes.

Shoot, this is a tough decision. Although, if i quit smoking soon (which i will, okay? get off my back, dang), i'm going to need a fallback vice. It's just the honest truth. In times past, i've used friendship bracelet-making, chewing on cinnamon sticks, and eating. Oh yes, the eating. That just comes with the territory. But give up coffee too? What am i, a saint? Um, nope.

Guess i'll go wash my favorite mug. Ah, anticipation is a delight, ain't it?

Friday, November 7

smoking cigarettes when sick hurts my lungs, but i am doing it anyway.

Ugh, so we voted not to expand and improve drug treatment/rehab programs for nonviolent drug offenders (saving millions of dollars and the needless traumatizing incarceration of petty criminals), but decided that it was okay for victims of a crime to have input during the sentencing and parole of their combatants? How is this normal? Do we live in a society or not? Must we keep pumping fear down the throats of our citizens, until we are all gorged and refuse to leave our homes without pepper spray and exposed nerves?

I really don't understand people sometimes. Don't even get me started on Prop 8.... "Marriage Protection Act"? I'm sorry: what, exactly, are you protecting marriage from? (by the way, marriage itself doesn't have feelings; i'm not sure it really needs to be shielded or saved or protected from anything.)
Refusal to grow and change and adapt will only hurt you, people. Believe me, gays are not out to indoctrinate, for fuck's sake. They just want their basic human rights, same as everyone else. Nat heard someone being interviewed on the news (a Prop 8 supporter) before the polls were closed saying, "i mean, if gay people were allowed to get married, i mean- people would stop having kids. Humanity would die out."


Wow, overstatement of the century award! i mean, i'm laughing just trying to wrap my head around that statement. It goes far beyond simply angering me, to the point of absolute hilarity. Do you understand that you marrying your wife has basically zero effect on me and what i choose to do in my own life? And that is i married (or didn't marry!) my boyfriend, you and your family would roll along through life same as ever? Good. Now just go ahead and apply that same "zero affect" principle to what your neighbors Joe and Tom do, and we're good! Everyone's happy! Live and live, ever heard of it?

..oops. i said "don't get me started", and then i went ahead and revved the engine myself. Sorry 'bout that.

In other news: how come no one heard about this? Oh wait, i'll tell you why: we spend so much of our time on this planet freaking out about things that make us unhappy, so we become increasingly blind to the things which have the capacity to make us happy. The world is a wonderful place, honestly. It's way past time to rub your eyes and blink a couple of times, then start enjoying.

Wow, who knew i could sound so preachy! Please excuse.

In other other news: Nat finally brought home the printer/scanner/copier dealy that he got for free when he bought the MacBook, and within 5 minutes of opening the box, i managed to ruin the damn thing. It's a curse in my family. My mom used to always say things like, "Why can't we ever have anything nice?" Usually this would be expressed after one of us broke a mug, or ruined a piece of furniture, irreparably damaged a wall or the floor, etc. etc. I'm really beginning to understand that feeling. i told Nat that no more will i be the one responsible for setting up or moving electronic objects. It's not the sexual stereotype thing, (the one where women don't know how to do anything that's not cooking, cleaning or procreating), no- rather it's the fact that i, specidically, tend to rush headlong into things without thinking clearly; either as a result of overconfidence or impatience, it depends on the situation. In any case, the color ink cartridge receptacle has been compromised, and i'm pretty sure we're never going to be able to print anything in color, unless we keep our old printer hanging around, but then that's missing the whole point of having a new, wonderful machine. Nat, bless his heart, is not angry with me. Which is funny, because i'm pissed at me. Classic!
The good news behind all of this, though (yes, there was a point!), is that now i have a scanner! Today is Test Day- wish me luck. Here's hoping i don't push buttons in an incorrect order, thereby overloading the machine and having the whole thing implode into a lump of smoking, melted plastic. That would not be fun. i refuse to let the curse take hold. I will win this one!

Wednesday, November 5

Finally: i'm not a thief!

Well, that's mostly true, anyway.

Regarding the title of this blog: For a long time now, my thoughts have come back to this particular phrase. It just popped in my head one morning- not without a bit of familiarity, to be sure- and i went with it. Later, little nagging thoughts kept popping up: But Heather, where did you hear that? Did you hear that somewhere before? And the fact that they kept coming told me that i was probably borrowing a phrase.

As i am not one to neglect giving credit where credit is due, my brain faithfully (and subconsciously) stayed on the trail. Yesterday it dawned on me- a poem! It was in a poem i read somewhere! But where? And how long ago? Surely i don't read that much poetry (something i should change, at any rate), so perhaps it's on the bookshelf?

A-ha! It must be Sylvia Plath, i thought, and i was right:

Nick and the Candlestick

I am a miner. The light burns blue.
Waxy stalactites
Drip and thicken, tears

The earthen womb
Exudes from its dead boredom.
Black bat airs

Wrap me, raggy shawls,
Cold homicides.
They weld to me like plums.

Old cave of calcium
Icicles, old echoer.
Even the newts are white,

Those holy Joes.
And the fish, the fish -
Christ! they are panes of ice,

A vice of knives,
A piranha
Religion, drinking

Its first communion out of my live toes.
The candle
Gulps and recovers its small altitude,

Its yellows hearten.
O love, how did you get here?
O embryo

Remembering, even in sleep,
Your crossed position.
The blood blooms clean

In you, ruby.
The pain
You wake to is not yours.

Love, love,
I have hung our cave with roses,
With soft rugs -

The last of Victoriana.
Let the stars
Plummet to their dark address,

Let the mercuric
Atoms that cripple drip
Into the terrible well,

You are the one
Solid the spaces lean on, envious.
You are the baby in the barn.

(From my copy of Ariel, a collection of her last poems which was published in 1961)

And there you have it. Stanza 11, "Love, love/I have hung our cave with roses". So now i'm torn. Obviously i didn't come up with a purely original phrase. i was influenced by her prose, but to what degree?
i think i'll keep it up, all the same. it's an homage, okay? i love the words, and words belong to everyone, right? So there.


Wednesday, October 29

364 days.

Tuesday, October 28

In other news...

Tomorrow is the ol' birthday. Yep. 29 years old i'll be. And easing in to the 30th. It's a strange feeling, really, realizing that you are aging. For the first twenty-odd years of your life, you hardly think about it, you know? At least i didn't. Then came 28, and it finally began to sink in. And now, twenty-nine, and believe me it's on my mind.

I think i'll make myself some banana pancakes tomorrow morning to celebrate. And maybe carve jack-'o-lanterns in the evening, because really, isn't it time? Halloween is nearly upon us. One can never be too careful.

Maybe something really exciting will happen tomorrow that i can write about- wouldn't that be a change! Har, har.

Off to watch some Jeopardy now. i used to think it was a way to learn things, but then last week i found out that Benjamin Franklin electrocuted an elephant to illustrate the dangers of alternating current, and it just made me sad. Why don't they teach us that reality in school? Ugh, it really bothers me. Then you just find out later and it's like- oh....... ouch.

Next time: Shameless plugging of my mom's art and items for sale. Hey, come on- it's almost the holidays! i've gotta get her name out there. Hm, perhaps i shouldn't have warned you all first... oops.

An Open Letter to a Fixer-upper.

Um, yeah...

Hugo? Next time you come over (after literally 6 months of having the money/supplies) to fix the sink, do me a solid and don't use my wooden salad bowl to collect the dirty water drippings? Thanks. It's just that it's one of the only things i have left from childhood, when we were an actual family and sometimes my mom made salad. I know it's flimsy, and has a chip on the edge, but seriously. Could you not have rummaged just a little more through my cupboards and discovered, say, a set of 3 crappy glass mixing bowls that you could have had your pick from? Seems not.

Well, next time anyway.

In all seriousness, though- thanks for the new sink! i am so glad i don't have to hold down the tap when i turn it on so it doesn't just pop straight up out of the back. i never realized how easy doing the dishes could be... it's miraculous. And as for the grout all over my (only, as it turns out) dishtowel- no worries. We'll just let bygones be bygones*.

*minute 9:40 on.

Friday, October 24


So i just got a card in the mail from my dentist.

Thought maybe it was a second reminder that i need my 6-month cleaning/check done, and it rankled me because dammit, i'll make the appointment when i'm ready, vile fiends! Plus, i can't stand wasting paper. Just call me next time.

But then i opened the card, and guess what? It's a birthday card.

Well, thanks guys and gals! i guess it's a little extra service they provide, and you know what? i actually think it's kinda sweet. Part of me stiffens at the possible insincerity of it all, but then i have to remind myself not to be so suspicious and negative all the time.

Basically, this is the first birthday where i've started to feel old. The big 2-9. Or, as a school chum of Nat's said recently upon celebrating her own, "Thirty minus one."
From what i've heard, this is a common age to begin feeling this way. It's so cliche, but seriously: i'm almost thirty, and what have i done with my life? Not a whole hell of a lot. Time to start rockin' the world. Live life to the fullest, as they say.

And you know what? i think i'll start by making a dentist appointment. Ah, yeah. That's the stuff.

Dream. World.

Had some crazy, involved dream about Madame Tussaud's last night.

I was participating in a treasure hunt with Nat and Addie (the BF and the BFF, respectively), and it was late at night. They had discovered some old dusty photograph, showing an old woman wearing a lovely violet dress and standing in the front yard of a towering Victorian house. The sky in the photo was grey, the kind where no-nonsense dark grey is creeping in to the light areas, and you know it's about to rain. The house itself was all lavender and purple and grey and brown tones, and everything matched. The freaky part was the woman's facial expression/smile- it was huge, almost exaggerated, and dare i say nearing the gruesomeness of Richard D. James' startling album cover for his Aphex Twin album I Care Because You Do. Her hair was all '30s style; silvery grey and waved close to her head.

Anyway, i cried out excitedly, "That's Madame Tussaud!" and Nat and Addie both looked at me, blankly shaking their heads. "You know, with the life-like figures... the wax figures?" i continued hesitantly. Addie sort of started to get it, and we hurried off down a dark alleyway in search of our next lead.

I think i had this dream because of two things: 1, Nat found a paycheck from school in his backpack that was dated all the way back in June (i know- wow). It was for $1500, and i thought it would be fun to surprise him by buying us tickets to the S.F. Treasure Hunt in February. This event always neatly coincides with the huge Chinese New Year's Festival, and even though it costs $30-$40 to get in, the money is for charity. The last time we did it it was for a homeless shelter. This year it is for a circus school and a cultural center! Woo-hoo. Blah blah blah, i ruined the surprise by asking him first. Of course he basically said no, because February is not a convenient time for him to be missing school or running off for the weekend. Bummer. i think i am more sad about it than i initially realized :/

Secondly, while April and i were driving home from the Bay Area on Monday, we took the wrong (well, a more inconvenient one, anyway) freeway for awhile and guess where we ended up? San Jose, the home of the Winchester Mystery House!! i could barely contain my excitement. Ever since i was little, i've always wanted to go to that place, but for some reason my family never made the trip, and none of my friends in high school were willing to drive 2 hours to visit the eccentric home of an eccentric (read: crazy) woman. Frustrating! Anywho, we actually drove right by the house itself, and i've gotta say- even from the outside, it's quite a sight to behold.

Someday i will get in. i will.

So all of this subconscious detritus contributed to my dream last night, i guess. In any case, it was a very exciting thing to wake up from; my heart was racing. It's almost like living vicariously.

In other news: starting to really enjoy Dengue Fever. Never thought i could be into this music, but i find myself waking up with the songs already in my head. i am a slave to it!! Help me.

In other, other news: time to fill out the old absentee ballot. In addition to the huge importance of electing the next president of the united states, there are a number of very worthy propositions on this ballot as well. At the risk of alienating people (ha ha, i flatter myself that anyone actually reads this!), i will tell you that i am absolutely positively voting no on Prop 8 (because gay people getting married is so obviously nothing but a boon for our society), and a resounding Yes on Prop 2 (because all animals should be able to perform basic movements, assholes). Also, for once, there is a measure to give more psych treatment/drug counseling to nonviolent offenders, thereby keeping them out of jail! Wow, are we finally evolving?! I am amazed. Yes, yes, yes. Oh yeah, and i've got to fill in that little bubble next to McCain's name, of course.

Um, just in case that got lost on any of you: i jest. Barack all the way. i love herbal-tea-drinking elitists! i can so totally relate; i have chamomile and rosehips in my cupboard. Ah, the intellectual life!

Tuesday, October 21

Andrew Bird.

Holy moly, what a weekend.

Especially for me, someone who rarely does anything one could consider "exciting" or "inspiring". A friend of mine from the flower shop where i work was running the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco on Sunday, and since she knows how much i miss home (the Bay Area in general), she asked if i wanted to drive up. My response? "Hell yes!"
We left around noon on Friday, with two boys in tow. One was heading home up to Portland, and the other was going to run in the race with her. But wait, wasn't it a women's marathon? you're thinking- and yes, it was. But this is Pablo we're talking about. This is Pablo who flirts with boys and wears mismatched socks in pastel hues on purpose, and who has a tiny (also pastel) bike with green plastic pedals.
On the drive up (we took the 5 for time even though the 1 would have been a sight-seeing spectacular) not too much happened: we saw a bunch of hay and carrots on the road that a truck had spilled, and came this[ ]close to being involved in an awful collision. I had to listen to the Killers and the Offspring, which was rough, but hey- i'm an adapter. It was hot and windy the whole way.
Got to my good friend Addie's house once we reached Oakland, where they dropped me off. She took me out to dinner (well, breakfast: i had french toast and hash browns!), where i bought a homeless guy a Turkey Reuben. He told me whatever sandwich i ordered would be great, and since i've never (and probably will never) order a Turkey Reuben, that's what he got. It's funny, because i would never shell out $9 to someone spare changing on the street, but when someone asks me for food, there's just no question. We all gotta eat.
Saturday was alright; Addie and i rode our bikes all around Berkeley and did some clothes shopping (something i absolutely detest, but for some reason i have good luck when she's around). I finally replaced my black hoodie that was full of holes; actually threw it away in the bathroom of the Italian restaurant we ate at later that evening, where we drank miniature bottles of sparkling wine. Good times!
Then we visited our old workplace (the flower shop, where we first met years ago) and had an awkward visit with the old boss. Got some beautiful flowers, and quickly biked our way home through the chilly streets. Drank a vodka cran each just for kicks, and watched Adventures in Babysitting on YouTube. Ah, good times indeed ;) Did you know that Vincent D'Onofrio was in that movie? I'm tellin' ya.
Sunday we were up early, left the apartment by nine, and headed to the city (this is East Bay speak for "San Francisco"). The BART train was filled with nervous, quiet, staring people, so we decided to play the alphabet game. i picked vegetables as a category, which we turned into "Things you can buy at a greengrocer" just for ease of playing, and started things off with Asparagus. Addie countered with Beets. This continued:
Heather: "Chard."
Addie: "What am i on, D? Hmm. Dates."
Random Guy Sitting in Front of Us: "::turning slightly:: Fennel."
Heather: "::surprised:: Thanks, but i'm on "E"! Fennel's an awesome choice for F, though, thank you!" (We ended up using it, of course).
So it went on, and on, until we got to the letter U. For some reason this stumped us. i hinted and honted* as much as i possibly could, but the dude in front of us wouldn't offer any more help. Or maybe he just couldn't think of anything, same as us.

We got off the train at Civic Center, just made the bus up Haight Street (whew!), and got off at the entrance to Golden Gate Park. The finish line for April's race was clear on the other side, right where the land ends and the Pacific Ocean begins, but we were going to get a cup of coffee and zoom on through the park. Turns out our favorite coffee spot was swallowed up in a Bermuda Triangle of sorts, so we got some so-so cups of joe and then realized we were running out of time. A harried cab ride later, we arrive at the beach and see scores and scores of runners, wrapped in tinfoil (i later learned that these help keep your body heat in, as it was easily in the low 50's that day) and boarding shuttle buses back to their various hotels. i was so upset; thought we'd missed her. But we pushed through the thousands of runners and spectators, made our way to the finish line, scanning for April the whole way. (This is a bit like if you took a "Where's Waldo?" book, removed him from all of the pages but one, and then ripped that page clean out of the book and threw it away.) She was nowhere to be seen, nor was Pablo. Add to that the fact that Pavel was still sitting at the starting line, thinking he was in the right place to see her finish before he got on a bus to Oregon, and he was upset. It seemed like all was lost.
We sat around for 40 minutes or so, but knew we would never find her. Addie and i boarded a bus back downtown, then decided to eat somewhere in North Beach. We walked around for half an hour there, looking at menus and then rejecting them as either too expensive or not enough non-meat options for yours truly... finally we found a place and guess what? We were the absolute only two people there. It was awesome :) Plants hanging in every window, an old metal chandelier hanging form the rafters, garlic bulbs hanging on every post, a tortoiseshell cat playing in the yard outside. We had such a good time, and a handsome waiter with a dead tooth who made us some pretty strong drinks.
Ambling tipsily back to BART, we smoked way too many cigarettes, stopped to give a street juggler some assorted Halloween candy that i'd picked up a bag of, and somehow managed to get home across the Bay.

Ready for the best part? i know, i know- you've been reading so faithfully, sitting through these long boring monologues, and i thank you for your patience. But really none of this compares with what happened on Sunday.

April picked me up at eleven, i said my goodbyes to Addie, strapped my bike back on the bike rack, and April and i headed off south. We were going to try and reach L.A. by eight o'clock to see a sold-out show by one of my favorite musicians, Andrew Bird. He means a lot to me, and never ever plays West Coast venues, so it was sort of a necessary sojourn. April had listened to a few of his tunes on my iPod and decided she liked, so we were determined to try and get in. We had a lovely drive down, stopping at a slightly eerie but peaceful reservoir, and driving through some cute cute cute countryside. Smell of onions in the air, then alfalfa, with cows, sheep, silos fruit stands, etc. Me likey.

Got to L.A. tired but hopeful, found the place, parked quite easily, and stepped out onto that sidewalk like we were going to conquer the world.


It turns out that The Largo was closed. Just.... gone. We walked up to an empty storefront: boarded over with plywood, fabric hanging in tatters, a "Change of Ownership" sign in the dirty window.

No.......way. How could this possibly be happening? It was the worst feeling ever, even though we knew that we probably never would have got in to the show anyhow. A duck in to the comic book store next door, and the boy behind the counter gave us easy directions to the new Largo spot, only a mile away! We were thrilled. Bounded back to the car, and found the second place. Saw a whole bunch of people milling about outside, hoping (as we were) to get tickets. It was pretty disheartening, after such a long day. We sat out front so i could have a smoke, and regroup. As we're sitting there, checking out the Hollywood fashionistas, someone crossing the street towards us catches my eye.

It is none other than the man himself, Andrew Bird.

I freaked out. Pretty much just lost it. "Omigodomigodomigodomigodomigod" is all that came out of my mouth. i caught his eye for a split second, then stared at the gum on the sidewalk until April relaxed her grip on my arm and said "it's ok- he's gone." It was such a major, exciting moment for me, as cheesy as that sounds. i was so happy. So, so happy :) i was ready to leave, satisfied and elated, but April suggested that we walk around the block, just to draw out the experience as long as we could. In the alley behind the place, we discovered that there was a back door with such amazing sound, it was as if you were sitting in the front row. We decided then and there that we would hang out in the alley and listen to his set. i was so happy, again, and grateful to her for being such a game girl. We hunkered down with a bag of Sun Chips and waited for the opening act to be over.

Meanwhile, employees had been going in and out of various mysterious back doors, giving us sidelong glances from time to time. Finally, Andrew Bird came on and they all disappeared indoors. We heard whistling, some pizzicato violin and some lovely bowing, and then some murmuring to the audience, which was followed by laughter. It was hard not to be in there, but we were having a great time outside nonetheless. I began to write him a note that i was going to slip under the door, when a guy in a white T-shirt came down the back stairs and asked us what we were doing. "Just... listening" i said lamely. "We just drove down here from San Francisco hoping to get in but it was sold out!" April offered. He gave us an "aaallright, you're okay. No worries." and left. Thank goodness! i thought he was there to give us the boot. Which he probably was, but had mercy instead.

Fast forward to two minutes later, and someone else comes around the corner and says, "Come on. i've got seats for you."


This was really happening.

"Leave your drinks, let's go." We obediently chucked our water bottles near the recycling bins and hurried after his disappearing shadow.

This wonderful man (no doubt tipped off by the first, also wonderful man) led us into the theater after the second song, and gave us two back seats.

I was staring at Andrew Bird onstage, who was busy shyly talking to the audience about how he was going to play some new songs, and was that okay? We responded accordingly.

Needless to say, it was a great night. One of the greatest of my life, in all honesty. Everything just fell into place. Andrew Bird truly was an amazing performer, as i'd heard, and as humble as could be. April enjoyed herself immensely, and we sat through probably 6 or 7 songs, then 2 encore songs, which were crazy good. A standing ovation later, i finished writing my note, with the update that we had been let in, and thanked him profusely for a lovely show. Walked up to the stage to throw the piece of paper near his guitar, when the guy who let us in comes over and jokes, "stop trying to steal Andrew's stuff!" i explained that i was only trying to leave him a note, and so he took it from me and put it right on top of the guitar. "He can't miss it" he assured me with a big grin. He introduced himself as Michael, and April and i fairly fell all over ourselves thanking him. He was so happy, i think, to be able to help, and could tell that we really truly deserved to be in there. He told us that Andrew was outside, in the mezzanine, saying hi to people. So April walked me over there (my legs were just about completely numb), and i stumbled towards him, shook his hand, and told him he was amazing. i thanked him for being him, and he smiled confusedly at me.


Success. For serious. It all actually finally happened. What an amazing night.

we walked back to the car on cloud nine, drove the last hour and a half home to San Diego (ha ha- i just called it "home", ugh), and got to bed around three a.m.

Went to work today, same as always.

Ain't life grand?
*typo left in for the sake of hilarity.

Friday, October 3


a lemonade stand with my best friend Molly, in front of the grocery store around the corner from her house when we were 8 or 9. her mom was a progressive sort of woman (to put it lightly), so we did 99% of the work by ourselves. it was nice to learn how to problem-solve. we also sold homemade chocolate chip cookies to increase sales (plus the fun of baking), and when we got "too old" we even wrote the e's in "lemonade" backwards, to garner sympathy. i'm not sure, but i think this was my idea. at least, i remember being the one to write it out. it does seem strange that i would have thought of that. once a police officer came by and told us we needed a permit. i think that was the beginning of the end. we used to take our profits ten feet away to the Mexican restaurant and eat cheese enchiladas with red sauce. i remember the clear plastic tumblers of ice water were always sweating heavily onto the lacquered table. it was quiet, usually there was no one else around. fans lazily spinning above us. we always sat in the same window booth, and i would use tortilla chips to clean my plate of sauce, rice and beans, when i was done with the enchiladas. i think Molly thought that was weird. but i was always told to clean my plate.

Sunday mornings in apartment #5 (the first [& longest] place i ever lived), on a quiet street in Berkeley, California. my dad is blasting opera music from his bedroom. he has an awesome sound system. the dog (an akita) is lying in a patch of late morning sun on the cheap brown carpet. dust motes stir and settle, stir and settle, endlessly around her. beyond, in the kitchen, i can smell breakfast potatoes frying. rosemary, butter, pepper. that means there will be eggs, sunny-side up. and silver dollar pancakes if we are lucky. my parents will drink delicious-smelling coffee and mostly ignore each other. my dad will be jolly and smiling because of the opera and the sunday breakfast. sometimes, a lot of the time, he sings along. maybe my mom is sewing, or more likely she is on the small back deck watering the potted plants. my older sister is in our bedroom, plotting ways to get out of the house today. my little brother and i are probably playing a game, involving either action figures, a homemade fort, or the Nintendo. i can hear kids playing outside in the courtyard, and see the leaves rustling gently on the trees outside the obscured glass of our window. i can feel the wind in the trees, and smell the sap, and feel the tiny heartbeats of the birds who nest there and are flying away now, into the great cloudy-blue sky and the endless possibilities of the great wide world.

when i was one or so, and learning how to walk, i burned my left hand rather badly on our wall heater. the weird thing is that i actually remember it all: struggling out into the living room, wanting to show my mom how proud i was of myself: i'm walking! inching my way towards the kitchen. i could hear my mom's voice, so i was getting close. maybe i uttered a yip of happiness at that point, who knows anymore, but my mom came around the corner and saw me. i grinned hugely and ramped up my efforts, but her eyes got big and scared. "no!!" she rushed towards me in slow motion. my smile was instantly gone in the confusion. what's wrong? and then something, somewhere, began to register. my mom reached me, then, and pulled me away from the wall as fast as she could, grabbing my arm. i had stopped along my epic journey, and rested my chubby little hand square on the wall heater, which of course was hot hot hot. there was a charred pattern of stripes going across my palm and fingers in a horizontal fashion. i began to bawl. it was awful. my mom was visibly and audibly upset. in the healing process over the next days and weeks, i would suck and suck on my hand to get it to stop hurting, so my mom had to put a sock over my hand and tape it there. but apparently i would suck on the sock until it was cool and sopping wet, same difference. ah, childhood!

a Slip 'N Slide in somebody's backyard. a small dog yipping around us in the excitement. green, green grass, dark and bright, crushed beneath our heels. small rocks would lie silently under the yellow plastic, waiting to be found by our arms or torsos. a sprinkler waves back and forth forever, somebody's mom yells for us to turn the water off. puddles are forming, and light mud. it is sunny, but still not hot enough to warrant us being out in our bathing suits. goosebumps and threadbare towels in plastic chairs, we talk about the funniest slips, and then we run inside to drink milk and eat peanut butter sandwiches.

at my elementary school, we had a whole wall of honeysuckle on the southern end of the schoolyard's long fence. the particular bitter sweetness of the blossoms' nectar on my tongue had a power to stop time. sometimes i felt like recess was hours long. i would lie on the grass and make daisy chains from the tiny white and pink flowers there, a crown fit for a benevolent fairy queen. after a rain, the worms would come wriggling out from the dirt. the boys would stomp and kill them, so i would cut them in half at that special spot, and pray for two to form and reset the balance. there were licorice plants bordering a smaller edge of fence, that at certain times of the year would be studded with what looked like big gobs of foamy spit. our recess counselor showed us that if you looked closely enough, you could see the caterpillars inside. they were going to be monarchs. later we would see the big butterflies over our heads, but it was always hard to make the connection. now whenever i smell a licorice plant, i see a big orange-and-black beauty fluttering in my mind. when was the connection finally formed?

Saturday, September 27

nothing much to say.

it's saturday, quarter to five in the evening. don't want to leave the house today for some reason. haven't had this problem in awhile... wonder what it is? normally when the (san diego pseudo-)fall weather begins, i'm all about being outside. just can't seem to face the world, is all.
(ha ha, as if that were a tiny problem.)

i know there are other people with these same sorts of issues, but that doesn't make me feel any less pathetic. perhaps my adamant refusal to see a therapist needs to do an about-face. after 2 years down here, i'm not sure if i am any more well-adjusted. still miss home all the time; still feel like a stranger in a not-so-strange land.

how do people end up this way? so afraid of everyone, everything, themselves? it's not right. people tell me i am better, but it just doesn't seem that way. maybe it's hard to notice from the inside out, like how parents don't notice a child's growth as sharply as the friend who only visits every few months. how does one know if one is making progress? what is progress? it seems to be two steps forward, one step back. or in my case, one step forward and two back.

gotta branch out. gotta try new things. tonight i might try making a woodcut print, which is definitely something new. but it will have to be a crude approximation, as i have no wood-carving tools or even a brayer. but i will make it work somehow!

there is a scene in Marjane Satrapi's amazing animated movie Persepolis, wherein the protagonist pumps herself up by listening to "Eye of the Tiger", and proceeds to dramatically reshape her life, predominantly by going back to school. this is inspiring indeed. would that it were so easy.

...maybe i should download the song, just to be sure ;)


p.s.) heading up to S.F. the weekend of October 17-20, to cheer on a friend who will be running a marathon there. i can hardly wait :) The only hitch is that a long-awaited musician whom i've been dying to see is playing in L.A. at 8 pm on the monday we are returning, which is a slim margin indeed. also, the last train back to san diego leaves union station at 10:10 pm. hmph. can it be done? prooooooobably not.

Friday, September 19

Something strange is afoot at the Circle K...

Well, we had some computer problems. Like bigtime. The pc laptop we had was overheating constantly (sometimes to the point of shutting itself off) and we could hear the computer (fans, probably?) working harder than ever. We worried about losing everything. One day Nat unplugged the power cord from the back and took a look at the connection: voila! There was definitely meltage.


The plastic around the end of the power cord had begun to burn, and the metal looked weirdly corroded. Upon close inspection, the receiving end of the laptop looked scorched as well. This was not good. Internet searches didn't offer up any concrete answers, but what little we could find seemed to suggest that it was time to back up the ol' hard drive in case things didn't work out for the laptop. Was this the end of days?

Hoping that it was merely a problem (shorted wires?) with the cord itself, we embarked on a long, strange quest to find a replacement that would work with our laptop. Did you know that every computer has its own power cord?


Radio Shack eventually helped us by having one shipped from northern Cali. Guess what? It got extremely hot, within seconds. Because we wanted to be able to return it for our money back (as it now seemed to be a problem with the actual computer, right?), we stopped using the cord immediately and were unable to really delve any deeper into the mystery. The main issue with all of this is that our pc only runs on battery power for about 30 minutes (if you're lucky), which is not really enough time to back anything up, or fully investigate why these problems are occurring.

Computer repair?, we thought? Nope. Apparently Compaq has some sort of moratorium on independent places doing repairs on their precious hardware, so no one was able to help us with that. The student computer tech help desk only fixes dells and Macs, or something, so another no-go there. To have HP itself take a look at it (and only maybe be able to tell us what the problem was) was going to take weeks and cost "anywhere from $300 to $1000". Um, no thanks?

So finally, we shelled out for a new laptop. Did as much research (online tech forums, consumer reviews, people we know) as we could handle, then settled on an answer to our main question: Mac or PC?

Initially i was worried about changing (back) to a Mac because we were so used to the PC way of life. Also, i felt that Macs were pretty much just for graphic design ;). Certainly, most of the damn computer games that we plague ourselves with wouldn't run as well on one, but i almost feel like that is a good thing, now. The screen is quite a bit smaller, which is definitely taking some getting used to (apparently the screen is one of the most expensive parts of a computer, which i never would have guessed but it seems obvious to me now), but otherwise everything is fine.

When i re-opened this blog after all of these shenanigans, on the new Mac screen it looks pretty awful. Incredibly hard to read! I need to change some colors around. Not that anyone reads this anyway....... but if you're out there, i'm working hard for you. Okay? Promise.

So now we need to figure out how to get all of our old information off of the PC and put it onto the Mac. ::sigh:: This is gonna be lots of fun, i can just tell.

In other news: Had a blast watching the Olympics this summer. Never needed the laptop anyway ;) Will probably write about that soon (i know what you're thinking: "yay!") :P

okay, enough emoticons. And enough of this long, boring post about nothing in particular. Who the hell want to read about someone else's computer problems, anyway?!

::in Napoleon voice:: "Gosh."

Tuesday, August 19

Cover songs.

Yesterday i took a bike ride, further exploring a bike path found fairly recently. Along the way, i listened to the new Cat Power album, Jukebox. It's completely comprised of cover songs, which of course makes my heart leap.
What is it with me and covers? More than one friend has remarked on this phenomenon: "gosh, heather, you sure do like covers!" and i always just kinda thought, "huh. i guess so." But recently it's begun to dawn on me that i truly do appreciate the homage, the way you can take a song that means so much to you, absorb it and make it your own, then give it back. Granted, there are a lot of truly horrible covers, such as The Gourds' sloppy, laughable version of Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust", or Cake's yawn-inducing tribute to that most self-affirming anthem, "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor.
Nat and i have had a few discussions about cover songs, and about what makes them "good" or not. He ascribes success to the ability of the covering artist to bring something new to the song, not just play it exactly chord for chord the way it was originally sung. For some reason i was skeptical of this view, but mainly because i didn't have my own to come back with. Now i think Nat was right, but there is more to it than that. You also have to be able to make it sound good.
Of course, there will always be aesthetic differences from listener to listener. When i heard a San Diego radio DJ talk loads of trash about Van Morrison/Them's cover of "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" by Bob Dylan, i nearly cried. That may have been the cover song that started it all off for me.
I was working at a great corner flower shop in Berkeley in my early twenties, with a girl named J__ who was probably the hippest, coolest girl in town. She was easily beautiful, and casually well-dressed in vintage jeans and boots, with a strong affinity for "older" music: Bob Dylan, Jonathan Richman, Edith Piaf, Velvet Underground, Van Morrison, etc.
One afternoon i was walking back toward the shop with an armload of roses, distracted in wonder at the long golden rays of setting summer sunlight. Life was good. Nearing the stand, i heard the opening strains of something captivating... i thought it was the most beautiful thing i had ever heard, at that moment. The song came on in full, and i was haunted and mesmerized by the weighty, yet ghostly song. Years later i found out it was actually written by Bob Dylan first, and when i heard the original i nearly laughed out loud in amazement. It was terrible! i couldn't believe the difference, honestly. (Similarly, Bobby D's "Mr. Tambourine Man" makes me want to cover my ears and run for the hills.)

Anywho, even if you're not a fan of Cat Power, Chan Marshall sure knows how to cover a song. But maybe that's just me; i'm a huge sucker for sadness in music, and she can hit the minor chords like nobody's business. I loved The Covers Record, which introduced me to some great, great songs (like Bowie's "Wild is the Wind"), as well as reinventing ones i'd already heard into her own sweet, melancholy ballads: "Sea of Love", "I Found A Reason", "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".
The echo-y, faraway mixing of the vocals on Jukebox was a little strange at first, but i quickly paid it no heed. i remember putting the CD in the stereo and going to wash the dishes; the first song began to play and i thought "wow, this is nice." A few songs later, Nat made me come sit next to him on the couch for a second because, in his words, "this music is romantic.."
Later, on my bike ride, i realized that the very first lyric is, "Start spreadin' the news...", and i just about fell off my bike. "New York"!?? Are you kidding me? The ultra-jazzy, Sinatra standard i've heard and despised all these years? Wow. Okay, sure. What a difference some soul makes. Hearing Chan breathe the phrase "vagabond shoes" is delightful indeed.
Unfortunately, you can't improve on Janis Joplin, i don't think. Chan's version of "A Woman Left Lonely" leaves a lot to be desired, in my humble opinion... (see earlier remark regarding "soul").

Good grief! i promised last time i would make an effort, didn't i? To keep these posts short(er) and sweet(er)? Dang. Well, as long as that's out the window, here's a list of some of my all-time fave covers, besides the ones already mentioned:
~"Fall in Love With Me" (written by Bowie, performed by Iggy, covered by Guy Chadwick); a much dreamier take on the original.
~"Starman" (Bowie, covered by Culture Club); this is super fun, sorry.
~"The Gospel According to Tony Day" (Bowie, covered by Edwyn Collins); rockin'! Part of the greatness of this one, actually, is how much he sounds like Bowie.
~"Panic In Detroit" (Bowie, covered by Christian Death); a helluva song- somehow intense and light-hearted all at once!
(The previous four songs are all from Starman: A Tribute to David Bowie, which my sis got for free somewhere and gave to me without even listening to once. Sucker!)
~"Empire State Human" (Human League, covered by Optiganally Yours); oh my, this song is fun for listening to on the bus with your best friend and acting like a fast-paced, malfunctioning robot...
~"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (Beatles, covered by Pearl Jam); awww!
~"Fuckin' Up" (Neil Young, covered by Pearl Jam, live); oh, my, god. Something about this song makes me want to mosh, or break glass, or scream and have a fit, or run headfirst into the crashing ocean waves at night. i love it.
~"Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen, covered by Jeff Buckley); when this comes on the radio, we always say "oh shit- are you ready to cry?"
~"Can't Help Falling In Love" (Elvis, covered by Lick The Tins); so cute! Mostly, i think i like this version because of the pipe playing and the fact that it's the closing credit song for the movie Some Kind of Wonderful.
~"Mad World" (Tears For Fears, covered by Gary Jules); thanks a lot, Donnie Darko.
~"Perfidia" (Alberto Domínguez, arranged by Xavier Cugat); this sultry instrumental was in "2046" by Wong Kar-Wai, and it's one of the loveliest pieces of music on earth.
~"Sinnerman" (American traditional, Nina Simone rendition); simply gives me the chills.
~"Superstar" (The Carpenters, covered by Sonic Youth); kinda like falling slowly, softly, through the clouds and stars.
~"Money Changes Everything" (The Brains, covered by Cyndi Lauper); great for singing along.
~"When You Were Mine" (Prince, covered by Cyndi Lauper); Cyndi strikes again.
~"Close To You" (written by Burt Bacharach, covered by Ethyl Meatplow); Nat introduced me to this hilariousness. He had no idea there even was an original (i mean the Carpenters' version)! Needless to say, we were both surprised and shocked to hear the two sides of this song.
~"Do You Want To Touch Me" (Gary Glitter, covered by Joan Jett); oh, the awesomeness that is JJ. (Too bad about GG, though- ugh. :/)
~"I Die:You Die" (Gary Numan, covered by The Magnetic Fields); this is one of my absolute favorite Magnetic Fields songs... it is near perfect, i think. So glad i found it.
~"Bill Bailey" (written by Hughie Cannon as "Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey" and performed by many, covered by Gun Club); another near perfect song. When i am riding my bike, and this song comes on the iPod, i am happy as can be, and riding fast.
~"John Hardy" (American Traditional, sung by Lead Belly); toe-tapping. Good for driving through the Nevada desert.
~"Man Next Door" (John Holt/Horace Andy, covered by Massive Attack); along with "Spying Glass", also a Horace Andy song, these were my first (and best!) introductions to Massive Attack.
~"Lake of Fire", "Plateau", "Oh Me" (Meat Puppets, covered by Nirvana); so, these were my three fave cuts from the Nirvana: Unplugged album. i was sad to realize that they were not original songs, but glad to find out about the Meat Puppets nonetheless. Great tracks.
~"Highway '61 Revisited" (Bob Dylan, covered by PJ Harvey); killer!! Makes you feel like she is right next to you, singing it into your face.

honorable mention/the rest of the bunch, shortened just for you: "Nothing Compares 2 U" (Sinead O'Connor version, originally by Prince), "Hazy Shade of Winter", by the Bangles (orig. Simon & Garfunkel), "Moonshiner", by Cat Power (traditional/Bob Dylan), "Ever Fallen in Love" (FYC, orig. Buzzcocks), "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" (another Simon & Garfunkel, covered by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple), "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam" (The Vaselines, covered by Nirvana), "Da Da Da" (Elastica, originally by the German band Trio), Siouxsie and the Banshees' cover of "Strange Fruit", most famously sung by Billie Holiday (actually, that whole album, Through the Looking Glass, is pretty damned stellar), "Que Sera Sera", the Sly Stone version, famously sung by Doris Day, Social Distortion's strong version of Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice (It's Alright)", and Brian Eno's "Baby's on Fire", sung by (gasp!) eye-candy actor Jonathan Rhys Myers for the awesome movie Velvet Goldmine.

Whew! We made it.
Tune in next time, folks! But i'd understand if you've had enough. Please leave recommendations for more cover songs; i know i'm leaving some out. But in the interest of time and space, THE END.